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Gloves and Garlands Old Leap Year Customs with Mary Reed

Single men beware!

It’s February 29th and ladies with beaus reluctant to commit to marriage
may well be interested in reviving an old British custom whereby they
were permitted to propose to their beloveds on Leap Year Day without society frowning on their forward behaviour, the hussies.

It may be the custom is related to, or descended from, a Scottish belief
mentioned in passing in Sir Walter Scott’s The Fair Maid of Perth, wherein a
character reminds his son, post-event, that “the maiden who ventures to kiss
a sleeping man wins of him a pair of gloves”.

Charles Dickens pulled his readers’ legs by professing to be horrified by
Leap Year Day proposals. In Sketches of Young Couples he highlighted the
danger to gentlemen of England every February 29th, the day being then one
when it was “held and considered lawful for any lady to offer and submit
proposals of marriage to any gentleman”. No doubt with a twinkle in his eye,
he advanced a theory the situation had been worsened because, Victoria having
announced her intention of marrying Albert, single women in Britain were
secretly plotting to organise an unprecedented multitude of weddings to be
held on the same day as the royal nuptials, and he therefore made an urgent
appeal to gentlemen to convene a meeting to consider the best way of
averting the danger.

Supposing a lady’s offer of marriage was rejected? Well, in that case
the man was supposed to present the woman with a new pair of gloves,
presumably representing a symbolic consolation prize for his refusal to
accept her hand in marriage.

 

 

Gloves link this common expression and the now defunct practice concerning
funeral garlands for those who died young, unmarried, and as pure as when
they were born.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An account of the custom published in 1784 reveals some of these garlands
were quite elaborate. One is described as crown-shaped, covered with
artificial flowers and other decorations such as ribbons, lengths of
coloured paper, and painted or gilded shells. White paper cut-out gloves, on
which were written the name, age, and other personal details of the departed
person, were hung inside the round-topped crown.

A 1792 reference to this custom mentions that in the English Peak District it
was customary in many villages to hang a garland of white paper roses and a
pair of white gloves, no doubt representing purity, over the pew of such
departed parishioners. Other garlands were much less elaborate and
featured only an hour glass suspended from the garland.

In one Welsh location at least the funeral garland and gloves were taken down
after a year, but on each anniversary of the day of death of the parishioner
thus commemorated, a friend would decorate the grave with flowers and leave
a pair of white gloves on it, which were taken by the nearest relative visiting
the departed that day.

In his essay in Sketches of Young Couples Dickens mentions in passing that
refusal of a lady’s Leap Year Day proposal meant the gentleman had to
purchase her a silk or satin dress, an expensive fine to pay for his rejection.
However, the point at which the penalty for refusing a lady’s proposal was reduced from a dress of fine material to a pair of gloves seems to have remained well
shrouded, somewhat like the fingers of perennially persistent but ultimately unsuccessful spinsters.
———————————————————————————————————

If you haven’t discovered Mary Reed and Eric Mayer’s  Byzantine mystery series featuring John, The Lord Chamberlain yet,  you don’t know what you’re missing.  If intricately plotted historicals are a favorite do yourself a favor and start the series with ONE FOR SORROW.

Their website has all kinds of interesting tidbits and info, be prepared to spend some time!

Visit Mary Reed and Eric Mayer

 

 

 

 

 

Passionate about food and writing with Brenda Williamson

My passion aside from writing is food, whether it be eating it, growing it or cooking it. I like food. The following recipe is what I had in mind for the sweet confection that in my book, Under Her Brass Corset, that Abigail finds hidden away in secret box. Only it has one ingredient I have left out of this recipe for you. If you read the book, you’ll be thankful for the deletion.


Chocolate Truffles

8 ounces semi sweet chocolate chips

12 ounces milk chocolate chips

8 ounces cream cheese

2 ounces white melting chocolate

Red food coloring


Melt semi sweet chocolate.

Beat cream cheese adding melted chocolate until well blended.

Refrigerate until firm.

Shape into 4 dozen balls.

Melt milk chocolate chips.

Dip balls and sit on wax paper.

Melt white chocolate, add food coloring to desired pinkness.

Drizzle on coated balls.

Let dry and then transfer to container.

Freeze or refrigerate.

________________________________________________

Under Her Brass Corset
by Brenda Williamson

Available from Carina Press
Electronic ISBN: 978-14268-9329-2

 

Since the loss of her father, Abigail Thatch’s life has been in turmoil. Her social status is in shambles, her finances depleted, and she’s on the verge of losing her beloved home. But everything changes when she meets the dashing flying machine captain Jasper Blackthorn. Not only does he introduce her to a world she thought only existed in myth and legend, he awakens sensual feelings deep within her…


Jasper may be immortal, but he hasn’t truly lived in years. Having secretly watched over Abigail as a favor to her notorious grandfather, he can’t resist arranging a “chance” meeting with the beauty. But he has an ulterior motive: to retrieve the mystical Crystal Compass hidden in her house before it falls into the wrong hands. He never imagines he’ll be tempted to love again…


When Abigail learns the truth, she and Jasper embark on a journey that will change both of their lives—and possibly the world…


EXCERPT

Abigail Thatch hurried down the dim alley connecting Baker Lane to her street. Behind her in the dark, the tap of light footsteps gave her reason to pause. She dismissed the ominous sound and continued on her path, although, deep inside, she remained wary of the follower. All her life, she had felt watched, and ever since her father’s brutal death two weeks prior, she sensed the eerie presence had grown more vigilant. She often fantasized of seeing the spirit of her mother, whom she missed more than anyone could know. Her father had always told her that the dead never go away. Nevertheless, she refused to believe a ghost wore shoes.

Night had come upon her too soon. The threatening rain clouds had dimmed the moonlight. She preferred a brighter sky where more than a few stars dotted the heavenly canvas.

Concerned by her reckless lack of timing, she lifted her father’s watch fob from the pocket of her waistcoat. She held the solid gold timepiece up and stared blindly at it. Unable to see the hour the black hands marked, she closed her hand over it.

“Not enough light,” she grumbled. Turning over the treasured watch, she rubbed her thumb over the worn engraving. As she wore gloves, she couldn’t feel the imprint, but she well remembered her mother’s testament of love. In her mind’s eye she clearly saw the wording–My darling William, you will forever have my heart.

While she hoped to find such a love one day, a nagging doubt lingered. Could there be anybody as gentle, kind and adoring as her father had been with her mother? Was there someone open-minded enough not to disapprove of her having her own thoughts? It seemed impossible, especially after her last failed relationship. No one could be that perfect–able to unconditionally accept her–and she vowed never to compromise again for the sake of not being alone.

A light scuffing, low and rhythmic, coming from behind made her turn. She peered into the clammy darkness. She sensed someone there, watching, waiting. Nothing moved. She considered marching back and confronting her stalker. Then a gust of steam spurted from a cellar windowwell. It rattled the nerve right out of her. She clutched her chest with the watch firmly gripped in her fist. The flash of a white cat scurrying across her path grabbed her attention. The animal darted into a low alcove in the opposite building’s wall, possibly another open cellar window.

Her pause to let out a startled breath gave her the chance to hear the click of something metal coming in contact with the cobblestones. Dropping the watch back into the pocket of her waistcoat, she moved forward.

How stupid. She scolded herself again for leaving work late. She knew the night brought out strange, unsavory people. Some called the under-city dwellers trolls. She knew them for what they were, vagrants and thieves–criminals that preyed on the innocent. They were the sort she needed to avoid running into, she thought, recalling the night when the police came to her house and told her that her father was dead. They had the right term for the murderer–a soulless killer.

_______________________

Brenda Williamson
~ Seductive in Any Era ~

Blog ~ An Eclectic Author
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THE FIRST SERIES Dawné Dominique's Vampires

Thank you for taking the time to visit with us today, Dawné.

Thank you so much, Ivy, and thank you to Manic Readers for having me.

Can you tell us a bit about each of the titles in your The First series?

The series is based on biblical facts with paranormal fiction crashing headlong.

 

 

 

 

EDEN’S HELL is a little twist of the story of Adam and Lillith. I wanted to create a series that would be completely different from all others. More importantly, logical in the sense that readers could easily relate to it. Addison Eden and Eva Carr are the two main characters. With Addison’s ex-wife Satrina thrown into the mix, readers discover that some bad divorces can last an eternity. There’s a unique twist to this novel.

 

 

Manic Readers EDEN’S HELL Review

 

 

 

 

DARK DIARY centers on Daniella Rolfe, a First Vampire. Born a blood drinker, she is strongest and most elusive of the vampire race. She holds herself to one vow: to never interlace her blood with another. She lives a solitary life until…

Aiden Blackmore is a foul-mouthed Winnipeg detective trying to solve some bizarre murders—all of them men—and all Daniella’s previous monthly appetizers. It’s a murder mystery / paranormal thriller. The bad guy in this one is really bad.

 

 

Manic Readers DARK DIARY Review

 

 

 

 

 

In KINDRED BLOOD, Daniella and Aiden soon learn that the horror they thought they’d left behind was just the beginning. When Aiden is kidnapped, Daniella hires Spencer Dalton, an American P.I. living in England, to help her. Asking for assistance of any kind isn’t her forte, but to bring Aiden safely back to her, she’d make a bargain with Asmodeus himself if need be. Broken vows are the least of her problems.

 

Manic Readers KINDRED BLOOD REVIEW

 

 

 

 

 

CRIMSON CRIES introduces a couple of key characters, like Paladin Sandalino, prince of the vilkacis race (wolves). The Nusair Nine are hunting again, and not since the thirteenth century has the vampire race every been frightened of anything. The two strongest elementals living outside the veils, vampire and wolf, must unit to fight a common enemy. And for the first time in all her seven centuries, Daniella has become the prey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SURRENDER is the final novel, and it may be subject to a title change. I’m still kind of undecided about it as it’s only halfway written. It ties all my vampire characters into a catalytic finale. In blending various religions and myths into fiction, I hoped to create a series that would bring a balance of the two in a believable, entertaining way.

The main characters from Return to Me and Forever and a Day, two previous vampire ebooks I released, make appearances. And yes, folks, Addison and Eva will be there. They aren’t forgotten, I promise. ☺

 

 

 

Is this all the books you intend for the series?

At this point, I would like to say yes, but I can’t. I started this series so many years ago and letting them go completely…it would be like losing dear friends.

For your anxious readers, when might we expect IV and V?

Crimson Cries (Book IV) is being edited now. I’m hoping for an early December release. Book V may be six to ten months later, depending on my schedule.

Did you create the covers for your FIRST series? Why change EDEN’S HELL’s cover?

The cover art is mine, yes. *blushes* The two covers for Eden’s Hell was a little experiment. My publisher and I wanted to see whether readers preferred a half-naked man adorning the front or whether eye-catching artwork sells. The jury is still out on that one.

Do you decide on your own titles or does the publisher?

I have the world’s most fantastic publisher. She is not only a wonderful, talented author herself, but also a dear friend. She allows me creative rein on everything I do.

You’ve been associated with several different publishers. What decided you on Purple Sword Publications?

Several years ago I suffered through a horrid publisher experience. Traci, the owner of Purple Sword, was there every step of the way with me. When she started her own publishing house and asked if I’d write for her, there was no other place I’d feel safer or more welcome. It’s an exclusive publisher, yes, but Traci wanted to give us personal treatment, top notch editing and beautiful covers. In order to do so, she wanted her publishing house kept small.

Do you have a favorite genre to write?

Speculative Fiction, as it encompasses many genres with one important facet: magic. Classic fantasy is my other love, like Lord of the Rings, but with a kick-ass heroine.

Who’s in control, you or the characters? Has a story or character ever taken an unexpected twist you didn’t anticipate?

Funny you should ask. When I began writing Daniella’s character, I discovered she was the pushiest character I’d ever dealt with. It’s the reason why Dark Diary and Kindred Blood were written in under three months, record time IMHO, but back then I was home 24/7 and could write whenever I wanted to.

Does your muse require anything specific? Music or silence? Chocolate or chips? Quirks?

I’m pretty plain-Jane; however, I must have a neat writing space. I do have one idiosyncrasy. When I’m writing, I have to have a candle burning beside me—morning, noon or night, preferably “fruit” scented.

Reading about Mrs. Ramsden and how she inspired you made me wonder. Were you ever able to locate her and let her know what her encouragement meant to you?

*sob* Unfortunately, no. I had asked at my school reunion several years ago. In fact, she was the only reason why I went. I was told she’d retired from teaching a couple of years after I’d graduated and moved to British Columbia. She was in her late 50’s when she’d taught me. I still think about her and hope she’s happy and safe. I would love to tell her how much of an influence she had on me, how she pushed me in such a good way and made me never stop writing from the heart.

Speaking as an Anne Rice fan also, I was wondering if you’d ever read Chelsea Quinn Yarbros’ St. Germaine series?

No I haven’t, but they’re on my TBR list. There never seems to be enough hours in a day to do everything. Once this series is done, I have a lot of catching up to do.

Your covers have quite an impact. Do you read the books prior to designing the cover to get the essence/feel needed to come across so strongly?

Thank you, but unfortunately, I don’t read the novels. If I did, I wouldn’t have time to go to go the bathroom. I do a lot of cover art. It’s a passion. If the information an author gives me is enough for me picture it in my head, then we’re off and sailing. It’s usually when authors give me “I don’t have a clue what I want” is when I have the most fun.

Do you still edit?

I resigned from my managing editor post over a year ago because I was neglecting my own writing. I had to make a decision to continue to edit or concentrate on my publishing career. It was one of the most difficult decisions I’ve had to make. The authors I worked with were WONDERFUL! I miss them all.

Do you find that the editing, cover design, and writing all answer different creative urges?

Absolutely! I’ve always been a “creative” person, whether doing cover art or writing—they’re all distinct creativeness. If I get stuck when writing a scene, I’ll work on a cover. After my resignation, I actually struggled for a few months to find my voice again.

Between all of the above, your day job, and family life, how do you manage it all? Forgo sleep?

Sleep? Is that when you close your eyes and rest? LoL I confess it’s a precarious balancing act. I work three days a week as a contracted paralegal, with one of those days being a ten hour day; however the balance of the weekday is reserved for cover art assignments. The night is mine for writing. Poor hubby is getting used to going to bed alone. It’s not unusual for me to crawl in beside him at 4:30 a.m. because I lost track of time.

What’s your favorite way to relax and unwind?

A bottle of Merlot, a vampire movie, and my pajamas.

As a reader do you prefer print, ebook, or a combination?

If you would have asked me about eight years ago, I would have said print. There’s something so comforting in holding a book. Within those eight years, technology and the publishing world have changed dramatically. I really don’t have a preference now. They all work.

As an author?

Definitely paperback. There’s such a sense of pride holding your own novel. Plus, book signings are a lot of fun, once I get over the initial “OMG! I have to put myself out there!” moment. It takes me a few days to gear up for a signing.

Did you have a favorite book as a child?

Yes. It was called Pippi Longstocking in the South Seas. It was a very old book and I couldn’t tell you where I’d found it, but it was one of my favorites. I always wanted to be adventurous like her, like my twin sister. Surprise! Yep, I’m a twin, and she’s 45 minutes older than I am. That’s why mom likes her best. *snickers*

I loved Pippi Longstocking, too.  She was independent and hilarious.  I wanted to be just like her.

You’re full of surprises, aren’t you?

Now?

Stephen King’s The Stand. I’ve read the novel a number of times, and I still marvel at its complexity and realism.

Are you currently reading anything?

I’m in the middle of edits for Crimson Cries, so there’s no reading for me. ; (

Do you have a current WIP? Can you share any of the details with us?

I’m currently working on a novella called Hellhound Bound. Rhune’s a Hellhound who’s been living on earth for centuries doing the worst job ever: he delivers souls to hell; Hanna is a paralegal who gets caught in a conspiracy of lies and murder within her law firm. When their paths meet, all hell breaks loose—literally. So far, that’s the gist. My characters tell me their stories. I’m merely the conduit to their voices.

Sounds interesting…

Anything special you might like to let us in on?

I find talking about myself extremely difficult. *blushes*

Thanks so much for taking the time to join us today Dawné. I’ve really enjoyed talking with you.

Again, thank you so much for having me, Ivy and Manic Readers. And thank you again for the wonderful review of Dark Diary. I hope you enjoy Kindred Blood just as much.

 

 

  Dawné on FB                                                                                                                 Visit Dawné

 

 

 

 

 

“INDULGE IN OUR FAVORITE AUTHORS” Contest Giveaway

Helping Lila spread the word about the amazing contest she and a few friends are sponsoring.  Not our typical blog,  but had to share this with our readers.  Wouldn’t want y’all to miss out on this!

Don’t Miss the “Indulge in Our Favorite Authors” Epic Book Giveaway Contest!


If you haven’t already heard, five romance authors are holding an epic book giveaway contest of *their* five favorite romance authors’ books. But they’re not just giving away a few books—they’re giving away complete, SIGNED backlists of the following authors:


Julia Quinn (sponsored by Shana Galen)
Lisa Kleypas (sponsored by Elise Rome)
Julie Garwood (sponsored by Heather Snow)
Elizabeth Hoyt (sponsored by Lila DiPasqua)
Cynthia Eden (sponsored by Vanessa Kelly)

 

Yes, it’s an epic contest, and it’s being held on Facebook right now. All you have to do is visit the Facebook pages of Shana GalenLila DiPasquaVanessa KellyHeather Snow, and Elise Rome, and enter the favorite book (the hint is given on the contest tab) for each of these authors.

At the end of February the contest will be over—so hurry!—and five lucky winners will win a backlist of one of the amazing authors mentioned above. Elise has said that Lisa is even signing her books after the winner is chosen for her backlist, so if you win Lisa Kleypas’ books, they’ll be personally made out to you. Also, the five authors are giving away books of their own, too.

Good luck to everyone who enters, and don’t forget to tell your friends!

This is going to get ugly….Heather Snow and SWEET ENEMY giveaway

Have you ever read a story where you could feel the tension twisting inside like a corkscrew because you, the reader, knew something one or both of the characters didn’t and were just waiting for it to explode onto the page?
As a reader, I love stories like that…ones that keep me turning the pages because yes, even though I KNOW it will happen, I can’t wait to see how the characters handle it when it does.
When I sat down to write my debut Regency historical, SWEET ENEMY, I knew I wanted to create that feeling in readers.  After all, the title implies that something stands between my hero and heroine that would make them enemies.  I already knew what my mystery was going to be, and that my heroine, Liliana, was a lady chemist who would be going undercover as a husband-hunter to investigate her father’s murder—and that she was pretty certain that someone in the hero’s family was responsible.
Pretty bad, right?  I mean, we know that she’ll have to eventually come clean and that the hero will NOT be happy about it.
However, was that really enough to turn the corkscrew as deeply as I wanted?  I thought not.  So then I had to really consider what kind of secret would put my hero at the most risk.  Well, since my mystery was related to something that happened during the Napoleonic Wars, if I could make it a treasonous secret, who could be hurt the most by that?  That’s how my hero, Geoffrey, became a war hero who is using his political influence to better the life of ex-soldiers.  He would be devastated, both personally and politically, if it turned out he or someone in his family had been a traitor…
That’s more like it!  In fact, I could almost hear the high-pitched squeak of metal screwing into the cork of the readers’ hearts.  But could I make it even worse?  Well, give the hero a manipulative, deceptive mother and a gut-deep disdain for any woman even remotely like her, then have him view our heroine throughout the book as the most refreshingly honest woman he’d ever met?  Well, you can imagine what happens when he finds out Liliana has been there under false pretenses all along…
Here’s a snippet of the review by Manic Readers own Ivy D.:
“The library scene near the end was one I dreaded and loved.  Highly charged and emotional, I could hear the hearts breaking.”
When I read that she dreaded the library scene, I grinned like a loon.  I knew I’d accomplished what I’d set out to because the only reason she would dread it was that Geoffrey and Liliana had captured her heart and she cared about how they would feel when it all came out, even though she’d seen it coming.
Thank you for having me here, today!  Should you decide to give SWEET ENEMY a try, I hope you dread it just as much…  (that sounds terrible, doesn’t it!?!).

Happy Reading!

MANIC READERS SWEET ENEMY REVIEW

Y’all are certainly lucky today.  I happen to have an extra copy of SWEET ENEMY for one lucky commenter.  Must be a meaningful comment or question for Heather. Contest will run until midnight March, 1st. Winner will be announced shortly thereafter.

Sweet Enemy…

A Veiled Seduction Novel ~ Book One

“Historical intrigue and heart-pounding passion make Sweet Enemy a great read.  Romance fans will love it.” ~#1NYT Bestselling Author JULIE GARWOOD

Geoffrey Wentworth, a war hero and rising political star, never wanted to be the Earl, but when his brother dies, he knows his duty—take up the responsibility for his family’s estates.  His mother’s definition of duty differs from his, however, and can be summed up in one word—heirs.  When Geoffrey rushes home to answer her urgent summons, he finds himself host to a house full of women, all vying to become the next Countess of Stratford.  But his love is Parliament, where he wields his influence and reputation to better the lives of ex-soldiers, until a tempting houseguest and a secret from his past threaten his freedom…and his heart.
Liliana Claremont, a brilliant chemist, doesn’t want to be any man’s wife, much less a countess.  If she had tuppence for every time she’d been told her place was filling the nursery, not experimenting in the laboratory, she could buy the Tower Bridge.  However, when she receives a coveted invitation to the Earl’s house party, she trades in her beakers for ball gowns and gladly takes on the guise of husband hunter—for the chance to uncover what the Earl had to do with the murder of her father.
Liliana believes the best way to get the answers she needs is to keep her enemy close, though romance is not part of her formula.  But it only takes one kiss to start a reaction she can’t control…
If you’d like to read the Prologue and first Chapter of Sweet Enemy, you can find it here.


Heather Snow is a historical romance author with a degree in Chemistry who discovered she much preferred creating chemistry on the page, rather than in the lab.  She is forever trying to wrangle her left and right brain to work together (some days with more success than others!), but if her two sides had to duke it out, left would win every time—which can be a creative challenge.  Luckily, she loves challenges…she just goes about solving them analytically. 

Heather lives in the Midwest with her husband, two rambunctious boys and one very put upon cat.  She sincerely hopes you find her stories have just the right chemistry…
Please visit her at Heather Snow books, on Facebook  or on Twitter.
Sweet Enemy is available wherever books are sold and at these fine retailers.

HOPE ROAD, LS9, and John Barlow

Welcome to Manic Readers, John.  Thank you for taking the time to visit.
Thank you for inviting me!

Could you please tell us about HOPE ROAD, the first in your LS9 series?

It’s a crime mystery, but it isn’t hard-boiled. I wanted to write something character-driven, although it also has a fairly evolved crime plot.

HOPE ROAD is so different from your previous books what inspired the series?

About a year ago I discovered that my uncle John had been an arms dealer. in 1984 he was found dead on a flight from Amsterdam with his throat cut. At the time he was suspected of stealing munitions from the British army. All sorts of other theories surrounded his death: that he was supplying para-military groups in Northern Ireland, that he’d been supplying arms to Gaddafi’s Libya, that he was working as a spy (which is what his wife said).

What struck me was the fact that within our family, John’s job as an international arms dealer, plus the rumors that floated around after his death, were never mentioned. Crime doesn’t always come to define a family; it can be overlooked, or excused, or ignored. This is what I wanted to write about. HOPE ROAD is about a criminal family, but one in which there is a ‘non-criminal’. I wanted to ask what it might be like to grow up with a career criminal for a father, yet to reject that background and ‘go straight’. That’s what must have been happening in my family, everyone tactfully rejecting the black sheep, not only the manner of his death, but also what he did.

Have to wonder how that could happen on a plane in flight and have no one notice anything….How can you be certain there will only be 9?

LS9 is planned as a nine-novel series, but that might change. I have a general sense of where the series is heading, and I have a definite end-point. The nine books will be divided into three very loose trilogies, with the point-of-view character shifting for each trilogy. I wanted a sort of extended saga, in which I could move away from specific characters for a while, yet retain the overall setting and cast that I’d built up.

Most writers stick with a genre, maybe go into a sub of the genre, but with your articles, columns, books, etc., you seem to be all over the place.  Is that in answer to different creative urges, personal taste or something else?

Money comes into it! Food journalism and ghost-writing are simply paid work. But for book-length projects of my own I tend to let an idea form, and then ask myself how to write it. I’m not that bothered about genres. HOPE ROAD was going to be a more general novel, and I think it retains a broader appeal than some hard-boiled crime. However, as I worked on it, the crime-mystery elements were too obvious to ignore.

Do you have to write?

Well, I have to be doing something with text, reading, writing or editing. But I can stop for a day or two. Longer than that I’ve never tried. I’ve always worked with words in some way or another, and I don’t really have any other skills. I spend all day staring at words.

Has a story or character ever taken off in an unexpected direction and surprised you?

In my novel INTOXICATED (set in the 19th century) there’s a midget called Roderigo Vermillion who I simply don’t remember creating. He seemed to appear all of a sudden, in a scene set in a railway carriage (a scene I’d already planned), and he just took over the novel. He wears a red top hat, and when the novel was first published I had a half-size red silk top hat made. I still have it.

Interesting…love those kind of stories.

You’ve been published by one of the Big Six, among others.  Why go indie?  What are your thoughts about it so far?

Traditional publishing is in crisis, and midlist writers like me are feeling the consequences more than most. Advances have dropped substantially, and there’s still a big issue with author royalties on ebook sales. No one seems to know what’s going to happen. I planned HOPE ROAD with traditional publication in mind, but even as I was writing it, things in the indie sector were going crazy. I didn’t want to miss out, and given that I was switching genres and jumping into a big project like LS9, it seemed a good moment to give it a go. Who knows? Perhaps I made a huge mistake.
Do you think you’ll ever indie pub the book you wrote for the Sweet Valley Boys, sans language?

Ha! I should do. It’s a kids’ novel called THE ISLANDERS, and it was a ghost-writing assignment that was never published, for reasons to do with cuss-words. I returned to the manuscript recently and did some tinkering, then forgot about it again. You just reminded me. I’m gonna dig it out as soon as I have a moment…

What I’ve read about it so far has certainly piqued my interest.As a feature writer for Spain Gourmetour are you considered a gourmand and or wine connoisseur or just someone who appreciates good food and wine?

I’m the generalist. My job is to take a product, let’s say a particularly fine variety of garlic, or ham, or oil etc., and write a feature on it. I spend a few weeks reading as much as I can about that one product, then I travel to the place where it’s made and spend two or three days sniffing around, a bit like a food-sleuth. I only do the occasional piece for the magazine, but it’s a lovely job. I hole-up in some interesting, out of the way place, meet loads of fascinating people who I wouldn’t other wise meet, eat and drink merrily, then write about the experience.

Sounds like fun!

What exactly is the ACEPHALE project and your part in it?
The Swedish conceptual artists goldin+senneby asked me to ghost write a novel about their investigation into off-shore financial centers. In fact, it’s more like docu-fiction, and I have been both an investigator (they sent me to the Bahamas to look into a secret company called Headless Ltd) and a character in the novel (the character is a novelist called John Barlow). The project has been going for several years, and has been seen/exhibited at about thirty art galleries around the world. There’s even been an academic thesis written about it. At the moment we are doing a final rewrite of the novel. It’s a weird project, but also amazing. goldin+senneby are extremely unusual to work for, in that they are very specific about what they want (a scene depicting a metaphorical monkey fight was a recent request, for example) but also yet also very open-minded (as in, ‘just fly to the Bahamas and see what you can find out’).
It does sound off the wall, one of those “things” you have to experience or see.Does your muse require anything special?  Music?  Quiet?  Snacks?

Relative peace (although I live and work in a busy city centre, so certainly not silence). Paper and pens, screens and keyboard… Doesn’t matter. Time is the essential element, preferably in large chunks.

What do you find easiest about writing?
Rewriting is my real passion. Ugh! How awful does THAT sound!

Too funny..Hardest?
It took me a lot of time to get the character of Den Danson right in HOPE ROAD. I wanted a strong woman, but not a hardened one. I’m very happy with her, but she wasn’t easy. I’ll be hanging on to her for future novels.

That makes me want to “meet” her.As a reader do you prefer print, ebook, or a combination?

ebooks. I changed over last year and have not read a print book since.

As a writer?

I dislike the fact that with ebooks you effectively have less control over how a text sits on a ‘page’. Right now, I think I’m still writing conventionally, as if the page hasn’t changed. But of course it has, and in the future perhaps we’ll write text which flows better for those reading on smaller screens, including mobiles. I don’t even know what kind of changes that would entail, but I’m sure writers will adapt in subtle ways as the ebook revolution develops.

Is your taste in reading as varied as your writing?Yes. I read all sorts of stuff. More American fiction over recent years, perhaps.

Did you have a favorite book as a child?

No. I didn’t read much until I was about thirteen. Then I went straight onto George Orwell. I didn’t do the normal children’s books at all.

Adult?

Don Quixote. Updike’s Rabbit novels. Giovanni Guareshi’s Don Camillo stories. Ray Carver.

Currently reading?

Working through Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels. Also, my sister just gave me most of this year’s Booker shortlisted titles. Who knows? There might be one with a decent story in it…

Is there anything special you’d like to share or tell us about?

Last year I went hunting wild pigs in the Australian bush, using dogs and knives (i.e. not guns). It was for an article in Penthouse Magazine. I got lots of street cred for hunting with a knife, but the truth was that I hung back and let the regular hunting guys do all the stabbin’. I’m a coward. Plus, by the time we’d raced a mile across country, I was exhausted and sweating like… well, like a pig,

But what an adventure, hanging back or not.  Makes for some great story telling!

So glad you could visit Manic Readers, John.  I’ve enjoyed chatting with you.
Thank you so much!                                                                                                                         HOPE ROAD at Amazon

THE HALO EFFECT with Pamela Crane

Thank you for stopping by Manic Readers today, Pamela.
Could you please tell us about THE HALO EFFECT?
THE HALO EFFECT is a psychological thriller loosely based on a situation I went through. Without handing you a spoiler, the story captures the life of an erotomaniac—a mental disorder where a person is in love with another and believes they have a relationship that in fact doesn’t exist. In the book you don’t know who the erotomaniac is while the story is told, but I promise that a happy ending does come out in the end, and true love prevails.
Do you plan for your subsequent books to delve into the darkness of various psychoses?
I have a penchant for the psychological, and I’m intrigued by how the human mind and emotions work. So I do have a few more ideas up my sleeve, but I wouldn’t “typecast” myself as strictly writing on that topic.
Any details yet you can share with us?
I’m currently working on a story that deals with organ memory (a real, scientific anomaly) and how the human psyche subconsciously retrieves memory from donated organs and passes that on to the recipient of the organs. Basically the story follows a woman who receives this organ memory during a transplant and uses it to uncover a murder while discovering love in the process.  
Never heard of that, sounds interesting!
Going so deep into these mental conditions must be difficult.  How do you balance the dark and light to keep from letting it affect you too deeply?
Great question! I almost did go crazy reliving my own experience in order to write The Halo Effect, but mixing romance and love with the psychological suspense helped me keep balance—and sanity. This way readers get a love story while delving into psychological depths outside of their comfort zone.
How did you get into ministry?
On a bus in Thailand I met a former thief. We were standing next to an elderly woman in need and he gave her the money he had on him. Watching this unfold, I realized that I have so much more than this man to give. Here was a thief—a poor man by any standard—sharing his meager wealth. What had I ever sacrificed? It was a challenge to me and led to many other trips to orphanages and soup kitchens where I had to resist the temptation to adopt all the kids I cared for. I still hope to adopt someday, since family is the biggest ministry area of all!
What type of ministry are you most interested/involved in?
International ministry is more of a luxury, but working with kids even in my local area and reaching out to anyone in need is where my heart is.
Can you expound on your belief that human nature speaks of the spiritual condition?  I thought baser human nature is what we strived to overcome.
Everyone has secrets. What would people say if they could read your mind? Would you be horrified, embarrassed? It’s chilling what people think or do when no one is listening or looking. To me, that’s the spiritual condition of everyone. While it sounds dismal, there’s a positive side to it: We all struggle! We’re not alone. And that’s where grace comes into play. If we remember that we all mess up, we can empathize better and love better. Sure, it would be great to overcome our baser nature, but when we fail, it’s okay. Next time fail better!
Where have you traveled?
Most of my travels have been to Asia and South America. Every continent but Antarctica is on my to-do list, but airfare ain’t cheap!
How has it inspired you?
A deaf four-year-old Mexican girl named Rosa lived at the orphanage I once worked at. With no shoes on her feet and wearing the only clothes she owned, this little girl was the happiest child I’ve ever seen. Because of her deafness she couldn’t even speak or tell us what she wanted, but somehow a smile never left her face. Seeing joy amidst hard times—and we all endure hard times—is a huge inspiration. The generosity and compassion of the broken is amazing. That’s part of what attracts me to writing about brokenness—revealing the lives of those who live out peace despite their circumstances.
Is horse riding what you do for escapism and or relaxation or do you have other hobbies or pursuits also?
I’m a thrill-seeking junkie, so horses quench my thirst for that, along with skydiving, rock climbing, and any other extreme sport. However, I also like more family-friendly hobbies like swimming and hiking.
I skydived when I was younger and unaware of my mortality…then I had children.
Did you have a favorite book as a child?
Watership Down by Richard Adams was all about talking animals, and as an animal-loving child, I read it until the binding broke.
Now, as an adult?
Do I have to pick just one? Honestly, I read so much that I couldn’t even begin to pick a favorite. My eclectic library is filled with pretty much every genre.
Is there anything you’d like to share with us?
As a newbie author, I hope that readers can enjoy what makes The Halo Effect unique. It may disturb some, but my goal was to deliver a story that touches on my life, humanity’s fears and struggles, but also the happy ending we can work toward. It makes an author vulnerable to put our heart on paper, so I hope readers can gain something—entertainment, insight—out of my story and perhaps see the world a little differently.
Thanks so much for visiting today, Pamela.  You’ve brought up a lot to think about.  I’ve enjoyed it.
Me too!
Here’s a bit about THE HALO EFFECT.  The excerpt I read on Pamela’s site highly intrigued me and I look forward to reading the whole book.
Available now, click on the cover!

It started with a glance. And ended with a nightmare.
Small-town girl Haley Montgomery meets two men who will change her life forever — the handsome Marc Vincetti whom she falls head-over-heels for, and the big-time Hollywood producer Allen Michaels who has the power to turn her screenplay into a movie and a ticket to a better future.
It seems as though life couldn’t get any better — until things take a decidedly dark turn when Haley spots Marc with his former high school sweetheart and Allen develops a consuming obsession with her.
As Haley is faced with a choice between love and fame, Mark becomes the target of a stalker and Haley’s life is thrown into a tailspin. Suddenly everything she thought she knew about Marc and Allen is completely wrong — and Haley’s life will never be the same again…
About Pamela
Pamela Crane’s addiction to writing started with a children’s short story competition and a first place win for her fable Weedlia’s Fate. Now, decades later, along with being a wife and mother, she’s nurtured her love of writing to build a career as an editor and novelist. Along with shaping quirky characters and plotlines that reflect glimpses of her own life, she enjoys riding her proud Arabian horse — when he lets her. She has a passion for ministry, and her hopes are to keep earning enough from her writing to travel the world in search of some good story material.

Dreams and Charlie Cochrane

Am I the only person round here who has weird dreams?

I know I’m not the only one to have the “I’m running late and keep getting further behind” dream, or the “I’m on stage/taking an exam and haven’t learned the lines/revised” variety.  But does anybody else have my vivid dreams about places, places which are always the same, places which my waking mind can’t connect to anywhere I’ve ever been?

My sleeping mind sometimes visits a village, Langley Vale, where we used to live, only it makes the location much more exciting. More shops, for one thing. I can understand that being a piece of wishful thinking, although my other shop related dreams are more confusing. I see them – and their locations –so clearly and I’m often walking around the same sort of places, recurring interiors and decors. A small shoe shop in a row of Georgian style properties, one of which sells cakes and coffee; an old fashioned “Sells almost anything” type grocer, all white paint and large windows; a clothes retailer on two floors, with older style fashions. So am I perhaps remembering shops I was taken to as a child?

I have other recurring oddities. Living in a different house, one without a staircase to get to the upper floor. Going on holiday and staying somewhere peculiar, like in a house sized caravan that twists on its wheels.

And then there are the visitors. ..

Now, I don’t mind when a straight John Barrowman comes to call in my dream world, especially when he wants to take me out. Chris Hoy was very romantic when he visited, too. But Jonny Wilkinson? Complete disappointment. Came to my dream, brought his mother and helped me do a jigsaw. Yeah, great, isn’t it? Ian Thorpe was as bad – he just wanted to help unload the washing machine. Then there was Ioan Gruffudd – came driving up in a red Ferrari, wanted to take me for a spin and have a snog. I don’t even fancy Ioan Gruffudd, so he’d clearly turned up in the wrong dream.

Come on, reassure me. I’m not the only one who has a strange other life going on when they sleep. Am I?

Now available at Carina Press

Blurb: Mild-mannered and unassuming, Miles is on a journey he never expected. After a visit to Greece with his partner, Roger, he begins to experience vivid dreams in which he travels back in history and takes on the role of avenging hero.
Roger notices Miles’s newfound bravery during his waking hours and is concerned that his lover is changing into someone he doesn’t recognize.
When they discover a gay-friendly café is being plagued by violent thugs, Miles is uncharacteristically determined to take action, no matter the cost. Roger argues it would be both dangerous and pointless to intervene, but Miles insists he’s been called to fight an army, and now he’s found one.

Bio:

As Charlie Cochrane couldn’t be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team—she writes. Her favourite genre is gay fiction, predominantly historical romances/mysteries.  A member of the Romantic Novelists’  Association, and International Thriller Writers Inc, Charlie’s Cambridge Fellows Series, set in Edwardian England, was instrumental in her being named Author of the Year 2009 by the review site Speak Its Name.

Love is in the air! with Wendi Zwaduk

I love to write posts about love. I love to write about love. Why? I love a good happy ending. Okay, so that’s a lot of love in only a few sentences. In the immortal words of Elliot Garfield, “I love to love someone.”
So for my post this month, I thought I’d share with you some of my favorites.

Favorite article of clothing? My Levis. There’s nothing more comfy than well worn jeans. I can wear them anywhere and still be fashionable as well as comfortable.
Favorite food? Homemade noodles and falling off the bone beef roast. There is just something about adding the love to food that just makes it so much yummier.
Favorite time of the day? Night. It’s quiet and settled or noisy and filled with laughter. It’s the best time to get into the mood to write something hot. Plus I am not a morning person.
Favorite movie? Field of Dreams. I love a good tale of misdirection and flights of fancy. Plus Ray Liotta in a baseball uniform is sexy.
Favorite actor? Cary Grant. He can walk through a hotel all while making it look natural and sexy, then play slapstick and offbeat humor like a genius. It’s great.
Favorite on screen couple? Bogie and Bacall. I could watch The Big Sleep  and Key Largo every day and not be bored. I love her low voice and the way he always looked at her like he wanted to eat her alive. Or was he wanting to do something else? Grin.

Favorite song? Summer, Highland Falls by Billy Joel – the piano part gets me every time. Honorable mentions are Smoke Rings in the Dark – Gary Allan, Ticket to Ride – The Beatles and Fat Bottom Girls – Queen. Did I ever mention I have an eclectic taste in music?

Favorite car? My 1500 Silverado. I don’t have it any longer, but man I loved driving it. Big as a boat, able to haul plenty of stuff and it still looked sexy going down the road.

Favorite sport? The World of Outlaws Late Model series. Gotta get my racing. Add in the dirt and I’m sold. The rooster tails mixed with the slipping and sliding is great fun.

Those are mine. What about you? Its the season of love and sharing. Why don’t you share with me?

Here’s a little snippet from my latest release,OVER MY HEAD, available here.

What happens when two opposites realise they have more in common than expected?
I’m a dancer…and a damn good one. I work at the Silver Steel Gentlemen’s Club. My hard and fast rule? No freebies and no office dating. Except for Slade. Hard, fast, slow, gentle…I don’t care. I’ll take him any way possible. But he’s not that into me.
Or so she thinks. I’m a bouncer at the Silver Steel. Astra doesn’t realise I see her—I can’t help myself. She captivates me every time she’s on the stage. I want her, but I have a…problem. I’m not at the Steel to pick up chicks or even work the room. I’m there to stop the influx of drugs into the community. Yeah, I’m a cop. But if the job means sampling the dancers… Well, as long as I keep my heart out of it, I’ll be fine.
I hope.
Reader Advisory: This book has a kick ass hero, a dancer with all the right moves, hot sex, a little mutual anal play for good measure and mention of drug use.

Astra folded her hands over her purse and settled herself more comfortably into Slade’s car seat. Just a ride. All she needed was a simple ride home. The moment she’d climbed into his car, she felt much warmer and she knew sure as shit it wasn’t from the measly car heater. The streetlights and blackened buildings flew by in a rush. The twenty minute drive across town seemed to take no time at all. Then again, with company like Slade, she’d rather the ride last forever.

Slade McMann wasn’t just a man or good-looking muscle. He loomed large at the club. The other bouncers weren’t scared of him, but if he was in charge of removing a drunk or troublemaker, the other bouncers gave him a wide berth.

She wanted a man like him, one who would take care of her. The kind of man who knew what was going on so she didn’t have to look over her shoulder or worry if someone had an unseen eye on her.

Unless Slade proved to be another bad card in the deck.

Knocking on his window and being seen with him could get her into trouble. She guessed not. Slade McMann didn’t strike her as being like the other thugs at the club. He didn’t hang out with Tiny and never seemed to buy the merchandise. He barely seemed to pay attention to the crap going on at the club—like it was all beneath him.

She’d put her faith in others only to have them screw her over. Unlike the men in her past, though, something deep in her belly screamed that she could trust Slade. Odd, too, since her gut instincts never panned out. The men she tended to trust only ever proved to be untrustworthy. Abe used his fists, Tiny used drugs. Dennison…well, that was a wound she’d gladly give away.

“Astra?”

She gulped. He’d used her given name. Most of the bouncers didn’t even know the girls had names other than their stage names or descriptions like ‘the one with huge knockers’. She turned towards him. Slade wasn’t traditionally handsome. His face was a little too long and his black hair a tad too unruly. His grey eyes flashed whenever he looked at her and the simple act always sent shivers up her spine. It was like he didn’t see her physical attributes, but rather saw the woman inside. But to have him really see her as a human, not a set of breasts, seemed to be too much to ask.

“We’re here.” Slade pulled into his assigned parking spot at the Sanborn Building. “It’s three in the morning and damned icy. Give me a moment and I’ll come around to get you.”

“I’m not going to break,” she chuffed, although she appreciated his gesture. Astra waited a heartbeat for him to round the hood of the car.

Slade opened the door and offered his gloves. “Put these on.”

She considered arguing with him and capitulated. Gloves were so much better than frozen fingers. She shivered again. “Thanks.”

He looped one arm around her back and placed his hand on her elbow.

“Are you for real?” She looked away, embarrassed by her own question.

“I hope so,” he murmured in her ear. “I had a mother who insisted I have manners as well as learn how to put a man in his place.”

She paused and stared at him.

“What, little girl?”

“Your girlfriend is a lucky woman.” Her heart beat loud in her ears. Had she just blurted out something about his girlfriend? Shit.

Slade urged her forward again and laughed. “I am as single as single can be.” Arm tight around her, he whispered, “Are you applying?”

Here’s a little bit about me:

I always dreamed of writing the stories in my head. Tall, dark, and handsome heroes are my favorites, as long as he has an independent woman keeping him in line. I tend to write books with titles taken from songs because music is one of my many muses.
I earned a BA in education  and as well as a Masters in Education. I’ve tried my hand at teaching, waitressing, and retail sales, but writing holds my heart.
I love NASCAR, romance, books in general, farmland, dirt racing, and my menagerie of animals. I books under contract with Total-E-Bound, Liquid Silver Books, and the Wild Rose Press. But then again, I’ve got more stories percolating than my brain can handle. I can’t wait to share them with you!
Wendi Zwaduk – Romance to Make Your Heart Race
Also writing as Megan Slayer – Sometimes It’s Fun to Squirm
Its always better on dirt!

Jessica Scott's thoughts on Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine’s Day!

First, thanks to Ivy for inviting me here today to celebrate the day of love with fellow romance readers and authors. Its always fun for me to see how folks celebrate Valentine’s Day.

So here’s a little secret: I’m not a huge Valentine’s Day person. I’m not a fan of anything that puts extra pressure on you to perform when it’s not really that important. I’m even somewhat of a scrooge now a days but that’s a whole other story.

Valentine’s Day is supposed to be about showing someone special in your life that you love them, right? But why should we just limit it to one day a year? Honestly, think about it. What’s the best thing you can do for someone you love?

Love them year round. So for Valentine’s Day, instead of running out to buy chocolate and flowers and running with the crowd, why not break away from the commercialized traditions? Here’s a few ideas to do something really special and the best part? They don’t have to be only on Valentine’s Day. Try them out whenever the mood strikes you or better, when the mood doesn’t strike you.

The Love List

  • write the person in your life a note and leave it in their lunchbox, on their driver’s seat, on their sink. Tell them something that will make them laugh.
  • take five minutes in the morning before you rush out of bed and snuggle. make sure you set the alarm to snooze because it’s waay to easy to fall back asleep and end up late for formation, er, work
  • send them a random i love you text message
  • sexting is always an option. just make sure you don’t send these to the wrong person as that can be awkward at best and possibly criminal.
  • make their coffee, tea, protein shake before you rush out the door
  • give them a pedicure. sure, it’s easy enough to go to the salon down the street but it’s much nicer to take the time and lavish some attention on his or her badly abused feet
  • instead of doing the dishes, take some time to just sit on the couch. relax and just be together.
  • put the kids to bed early and lock the bedroom door. let your imagination go wild. try something different. I doubt you’ll be able to get your guy to go for anal beads but hey, you never know. I’m kidding. No really, I’m kidding. That’s a terrible idea.
  • remember mix tapes? Maybe I’m dating myself but make the person in your life a playlist or a CD of special songs.

 

Those are just some ideas. What are your ideas to celebrate Valentine’s Day every day?

Jessica brings a unique perspective to her military romance series because she’s both a soldier and author.  Check it out.  

 

 

 

 

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