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Staycations with Mary Carter

Summer. It’s still a season I wouldn’t want to do without, but as an adult it’s lost a little bit of the magic it had when I was a kid. When the last days of school trickled down until you could count the seconds to freedom. Then, wham! You’re out. The prison doors swing open, trumpets blare, and the sun shines down on you like a gift from the heavens. The smell of fresh cut grass. Grabbing a basket, or a Tupperware bowl, or an old coffee can and picking wild berries. Returning home, triumphant, clutching overflowing containers with your blackberry stained fingers. Digging your bare feet into the dirt as you examine a tomato plant. This plump red jewel grew in the ground, you think. Someday, I will grow all my food. You never do, but you remember your grandmother’s garden fondly. And all her flowers. You live in NYC so you don’t have flowers, although lets be honest, your fire escape is bare. But back to the past. Shorts. Tank tops. Swimsuits. My mother’s fabulous potato salad, made with mayonnaise AND yellow mustard, and green olives and a little cayenne pepper. You always thought you’d learn the recipe. You’ve never made it once. Trips to Grandma and Grandpa Carter where my sister and I and multitudes of visitors and cousins spent the entire time in the pool playing Marco Polo, and wearing a wet path down the slippery metal ladder, through the grass, and in through the squeaking screen door to the freezer for popsicles. Please let there be red or purple left, but no, there is only orange!

Barbeques. Three months of hitting the local swimming pool, reading books, running around the neighborhood, listening to music on the roof in a bikini, slathered in suntan lotion and “Sun in”. If my sister and I didn’t have “Sun in” we poured lemon juice on our heads. Sometimes we took family vacations, went to “real” beaches where we thrilled in riding the ocean waves, but most of the time we had to make do with where we lived and what we had. Amusement parks with bigger and badder rollercoasters, county fairs, outdoor plays, and movies, and concerts. Fourth of July – watching the fireworks from the back of a pickup truck with a paperbag filled with hot popcorn. Activities were fast and furious, and dizzying. But when things did slow down, books were always a great escape for me, and still are. Some people prefer movies or television or video games to escape, I say, give me a good book any day of the week.

But then you grow up, and year by year, that “Kid out of school” feeling becomes a distant memory, and slowly the magic starts to fade. Suddenly, the money to fund all the summer activities is coming straight out of your bank account. You no longer look as good in a bikini as you did when you were sixteen, okay let’s face it, you no longer even wear a bikini, and what swimwear you do dare put on is accessorized with as many cute “cover ups” as you can find, and now you know that tanning isn’t good for you, and “Sun in” will turn your hair into straw. You take that camping trip you’ve been looking forward to and you forget how delectable you are to the mosquitos. Your days off arrive and it either storms, or it’s going to be over a hundred degrees. And then, one day it happens. Summer, you think, is a bummer. And then you get a little panicky. What kind of person doesn’t love SUMMER? It’s here now, but six months from now when snow is piled outside your door and every day is a race to make it indoors before you get frostbite, you are going to wish you had ENJOYED THE SUMMER. So go enjoy it, darn you! It’s very shaming, to feel as if you have to force in all the fun you can in three months. Has life changed since we were kids, or is it simply the filter through which we view it? And despite seeing life for what it is, flaws and all, can we still capture the kid-out-of-school magic? Just a little bit?

 

Of course, the answer is yes. I’m a firm believer in mini-vacations, or stay-cations. Book a hotel where you live for one evening, and be a tourist. Find the closest beach and stay for a few hours or a few days. I did this recently, and even though it was only one night, all it took was one long walk on the beach to restore a sense of magic again. I dug my toes in the sand, felt the waves trickle over them, and filled my pockets with seashells until they were bulging. I enjoyed a leisurely dinner outside next to the ocean. I bought adorable pieces of glass and perfectly formed seashells in the little gift shop. It was only one day away, but it was enough to taste it, feel it, remember it. Everyone said I was crazy to travel and spend money for just one night away. But it wasn’t crazy, it was life-affirming.

Take a walk wherever you live and notice the signs of summer. Flowers blooming, kids running around, the sun shining—maybe a little bit too much this year! Ah, there’s always something. Wait until it’s not ninety-something degrees, then take a blanket to your favorite park. Pack a little picnic basket. And besides edible treats, what else should be in your basket? A good book, of course!

 

 

Summer goes fast, and like the rest of life it has its ups and downs, but there’s still time to squeeze    out  a little bit of magic. My latest novel, The Things I Do For You, may just give you what you need for  a  brief get-away. It takes place in a lighthouse on the Hudson River. It’s about love, and renovations,    and crazy guests. It’s about the risks we take in life, and how the decisions of those we love can    radically alter our lives. I hope you find it funny, and touching, and surprising, and whether your read  this novel on a beach, blanket, or boogie board,  whether you go far away, or you stay and play, I wish  us all the very best of the rest of summer!

THE THINGS I DO FOR YOU Review  (if you’re interested in Ivy’s opinion)

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LORD BEOWULF HARWOOD on the TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS OF MISS TILNEY (comic)

Greetings readers, it is I, the marvelous, virile, ever so impressive Lord Beowulf Harwoodof the York Harwoods.  I’m come to you today, via this amazing contraption called the Hyper Text Markup Language, to tell you about a new and quite extraordinary book called The Trials and Tribulations of Miss Tilney.

First for the sake of clarity, it’s not actually a book but what is called a Sequential Art Book, or in more common parlance, a Comic Book.  Quite an innovative and novel approach to well novels.  HAHA!

In addition, I like to point out for the sake of all my fans and readers of my Penny Dreadfuls, this Sequential Art Book is full of great action of Me!  That’s right, plenty of blood pumping, hair raising, swoon inducing antics that I am renowned for.

An interesting twist though in this particular story, is I don’t get the girl at the end of it.  I think it is rather clever to make such a shocking twist, but I don’t think that is particularly realistic to be believed.  I am the champion of woman, the savior of the damsel, the master of the sensual arts.  It’s hard to believe that I, Lord Beowulf Harwood, would let any woman out of my grasp.  Because for me to not get the girl could only be accomplished if I actually let the pretty bird go free.

And what a girl this Henrietta Tilney is.  Some may think it’s rather brazen that I talk about the lady so openly and intimately.  I say that is poppycock, because I know the girl better than she knows herself.  I’m the foremost expert on females and their physical form, so all it took was one look into those beautiful brown eyes of hers to read her soul.  And what a fiery passionate soul it is.  I think that is why she is so proper and restrained, so eager to earn respect, because if she did let go of that tight grip on her own reins, the calamity that would ensue from the stampede from the wild horses of her passions would be legendary.  I alone am the man brave enough and strong enough to face such danger.  Nay, I live for such danger and that is one of the many things that make Miss Tilney so exciting.

I’m sure I’ve already lost some of the more prudish readers as I’ve so unabashedly talked about some of Miss Tilney’s many fine attributes.  I do not apologize for such actions because I feel Henrietta’s traits should be praised and mentioned quite loudly.  She is a strong and proud woman who has earned my respect.  She has worked side by side with me and was able to maintain control of her reason and her ardor while being so close and in such intimate contact with me.  Despite the obvious sexual tension between us, she remains focused on her goals and the task at hand.

I find that strength intoxicating.

And before the blokes start all bemoaning and teasing how the great Lord Harwood has been bested by a mere woman, I assure you that is not the case.  I’m also a world renown big game hunter and I have finally found a prey worth my full attention.  I’ve sharpened my prowess to a razor’s edge and Miss Tilney is the reward for all my hard work.  She is a admirable challenge and some one who may have the honor of being at my side.  Therefore, I welcome, nay relish the merry chase that Miss Tilney is giving me.  She will find that I do not tire easily and I will prove myself the only proper suitor for her.

So come my faithful readers and join me in the journey of the Trials and Tribulations of Miss Tilney.

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THE SHADOW OF YOU with Brenda Iovino

Thank you, Brenda for taking the time to visit with Manic Readers.

Can you please give a brief synopsis about your book THE SHADOW OF YOU? 

The main character is a fortish single mom living in Manhattan with her young teen daughter.  The story traces the breakup of her marriage but, also the ‘out-of’ body’ lover that has been with her for several years, and cumulates with her meeting a new man, ‘in body’.  The story, as of late, unfolds with Hawk and hers relationship becoming more intense and yet Hawk’s pulling back, which only confuses and angers her, of course.

From what I’ve read this is your personal story.  How long has “Hawk” been with you?

As ‘Hawk’, for the last 6 years but as a male entity, much longer going on 15 years I believe.  My memories of our time, in that lifetime which is in the book, started coming to me after I moved to New Mexico.

Did the remembered past and the present now create much conflict and stress for you?  If so, how did you deal with that?

It did.  I was very angry that I would not know him in this lifetime in the flesh.  I was grateful to have him in my life, but I’m human.  I wanted more, more of him.  I was getting depressed and not able to write.  I have a friend who has always talked to the ‘dead’ as a child and gifted seems like such a small word for her abilities, so without my asking her to, she channeled him and he wanted to tell me things that I was too angry to hear. 

Now, I’m very aware that some of your readers will say, ‘she’s nuts’, phony and whatever.  Perhaps they will think I’m doing this to, I don’t know; get on Oprah Winfrey’s show.  I know that I’ve been asked during readings I’ve done, if I was concerned that people will think this, the ‘nuts’ part I mean.  I have to give your readers the same answer: “Just because it may be in my head, doesn’t make it any less real.”  My memories, reactions to those memories are simply that, mine.

So now my anger is gone and I just relished our past and present time together.  The words that were channeled and written down for me helped me a great deal with this.

Have you found peace now that you’ve told your and “Hawk’s” story?

Is your creativity flowing again?

Peace, ahh…, good question.  I’m not searching for him, so that’s a kind of serenity for me. Yes, I have found peace with him or I should say not having him here in this lifetime.  I still ask him questions for his wisdom.  Hah, it never comes as quickly as I would like.  As he has told me, patience is not my virtue, but it needs to be.

Did you always believe in reincarnation or did your experiences convince you? 

This would take much too long to answer, but I’ll give it a shot.  My first recollections of this belief were when I was sitting in church when I was eleven or so.  It made no sense to me what I was hearing, than, I kept asking questions, big believer in that.  I began to read many books on religions and different thoughts.  Some rang true for me and others didn’t.  Bottom line, that’s what each of us, has to decide what rings true for us, not what we’re told to believe.  The odd thing is how many people think if you believe in reincarnation, you must not believe in God.  This is their ignorance and fear coming through.  I wish more people would question their beliefs.  But of course, these are just my thoughts.  I don’t want to sound like I’m preaching, God forbid!

Is your life as Flying Snow Goose the only remembered past life? 

No, but it’s the only one that I wasn’t in search of.  By that, I mean Hawk came to me – not me hunting for reasons or answers to so many questions I had regarding relationships and phobias in this present lifetime.

Will you be writing anymore books along these lines? 

Hard to say, I mostly write plays.  I have a comedy, ‘That Irish Thing’ about two 18th century ghosts who have been with a woman since she was a child.  They think they help her, but – not always the case.  This will be mounted inTaos,NMin October of this year.  I guess you could say that I do write along the lines of the spirits in us and around all of us at times.

What compelled you to move from New York to New Mexico? 

I would have to say, the memories were steering me, even though they weren’t clear yet.

Does your home in Tres Piedras, NM inspire you?

Yes, most certainly.  Mountains, well they are hard to describe.  I live about 24 miles from Taos and I never tire of the drive.  The sky and such, always new to me and the way the light hits those magnificent Mountains, well, you’ll just have to come for a visit.

Thanks for the invite, you never know what’s ahead so that just may happen. 🙂

Do you find more time passing between your “cultural fix” trips back to New York? 

Yes and no, I try to go back every two years but at the moment,Paris seems on my list.  My daughter is there in grad school, so I was there for the Christmas holidays last year and I’ll go back next year, when she graduates.

What’s up next for you?  

I just rented a space in Taos for live performances and it’s where I’ll be mounting my play which, I will be first-time directing.  We’ll also do comedy and jazz nights.

Are you currently reading anything good? 

Believe it or not, I just finish The Old Man and The Sea; yes, as much as I love Hemingway, it was one of his I never read.  Of course, I cried, but than it doesn’t take much.  I’m also reading The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield.  Not a new book, but I actually found it recently and I believe things happen or come to you for a reason.  I’m enjoying it a great deal. 

If you could recommend one book, what would it be? 

My favorite is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.  I recently re-read it.  

Thanks so much for visiting with Manic Readers, Brenda.   It’s been very interesting and I’ve enjoyed it.

Y’all can visit Brenda to find out more about her and her projects.

Tara Fox Hall Interview

Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for Manic Readers, Tara.

Really enjoy your character centered blogs; gives a great insight into them.

Thank you so much, Ivy. I am very happy to be here!  

 

You’re an OSHA certified health & safety inspector in a metal fabrication shop, hold a Bachelor’s in math with a double minor in chemistry and biology. How did these translate into writing? Did you always want to write but figured you needed something more solid to fall back on and pay the bills until you’d achieved your dream?

They actually didn’t, which is why it took me so long to begin writing again. I loved to write in high school, and authored several research papers in college that my professors told me I should try to get published. But my family was not supportive, wanting me to get a solid degree that I could use to find a good job. I can’t fault them for that, as I am grateful they pushed me to excel in the hard sciences, and I did love my math courses, particularly those in linear algebra and differential equations. Right before I graduated, my grandfather died. He had been a father figure to me, so I hesitated to look for jobs out of the area. Using my chemistry minor, I quickly got a job in a marketing firm, and spent the next few years looking into buying a farm of my own, even as I tried to help out with my failing grandmother. I moved into the country in 2000, and when I got married a few years later, I quit my job, in part again to help out my family with fixing up and clearing out several vacant properties we now needed to sell. When gas prices rose in 2005, I went back to work for a local friend who owned a metal fabrication shop. I didn’t know anything about health and safety then, but I was a quick study. My new boss was receptive to my working part time, which gave me enough time to help my family, and some free time. I had always liked to write, but had been too busy up to that point to get more than a page article done. Then my mom got sick, I began writing Promise Me, and the rest is history.  

You’ve said you get a lot of your ideas from your dreams.  Having read ORIGIN OF FEAR I have to say better you than me!  Have enough trouble sleeping as it is.  Which of your books/stories originated in the dreamworld?

 

Almost all the stories from Just Shadows, my horror anthology, were actual dreams, or dreams I elaborated on. The only exceptions were the title story, which comes from an old Slovak legend I was warned about as a child, and Nothing, which I came up with on a dog walk.

All my stories of Latham’s Landing are from dreams. Origin of Fear is from five separate nightmares that I compiled into one story.  All That Remains, a new Latham’s Landing tale, will be included in the upcoming anthology Bedtime Shadows, a coauthored work by myself and my friend and fellow Melange author, Jenny Twist.

Face Recognition, a futuristic short story published in Black Petals Magazine, was from a nightmare.

The first segment of the serial End of Days in Dark Eclipse Magazine is from an apocalyptic nightmare…and so is most of the final segment.

Scarier are the ones that have basis in reality, though.

Saw Man, online at The Halloween Alliance, is based on my finding of an actual saw in my woods when I was first cutting firewood, just as described in the story. While no one got killed on it, it freaked me right out. And yes, the groundhog part of the story is real, too. 

Black Smoke, just published in Cemetery Moon, is based on a family legend that my mother swears is true. Decades ago, she saw the shadow of huge moving bat wings while hanging laundry in the basement, and turned to see black smoke floating a few feet off the ground. No explanation was every found for what she saw, and no one ever saw it again. I think it was either a demon or a vampire that got caught by the sunrise, stayed the day, then got startled when she entered and left quickly after.

If it’s horror or suspense and not a novel…chances are that it was inspired by a dream.  

Can you tell us a bit about your essay, THE ALLURE OF THE SERIAL KILLER?  What prompted this?

I was in the shower, and my husband came in singing the Psycho tune. When I recovered, he told me about a call for papers having to do with the philosophy of serial killers. I was unpublished except for short non-fiction at that time. He said it would be great if we could collaborate on a paper, as he knew a lot of philosophy, and I knew a lot about horror. I threw out the idea of a paper on why people were so attracted to serial killers in film and fiction, when real serial killers damage so many lives. He thought that was a great idea, and worked up a proposal, building our notion into a full-fledged paper. It was accepted by the editor handling the book Serial Killers; Philosophy for Everyone; Being and Killing. I give much of the credit for that work to my husband, though I did contribute a few lines here and there, as well as the section headings.  If anyone would like to read this paper, go to Selected Publications and look for the Allure of the Serial Killer title. 

What do you have going on this year for readers?

The sequel to my paranormal action adventure novel Lash, titled Shadow Man, will publish in late October, just in time for Halloween. The sequel to my vampire romance Promise Me, titled Broken Promise, will be out in late September, followed by the next sequel, Taken in the Night in January 2013. More sequels will follow in both series. Besides Bedtime Shadows with Jenny Twist, there will be several other coauthored works, including a historical paranormal work with T. Fox Dunham, and a Lash crossover with the character Dick Dice with a fellow author and illustrator, Paul “Deadeye” Dick. I am a contributor along with another good friend, Tori Ridgewood, in a vampire anthology called Midnight Thirsts 2 that just released from Melange Books. Tori, T Fox., and I are also all contributors to a zombie collection called Quick Bites of Flesh due out this fall from Hazardous Press.

I also have a bunch of short horror stories under consideration, and hope to publish more short stories in the online e-zine Flashes in the Dark, as soon as I get a chance to write a few more. 🙂

I hope also to schedule some book signings in the late fall and winter 2012-2013, if possible.  Watch Melange Books for details!

You write in many genres. Is there one you especially want to try that you haven’t yet?

I would like to try my hand at mystery…but I’m not sure there is a market for it, or that I have the skill to tell a good mystery. I am also conscious that to be a “Jill” of all writing trades might compromise my mastery of specific genres to which I am better suited. I will more likely instead narrow my existing genres to paranormal action adventure and romantic suspense, while still writing short horror suspense and the occasional nonfiction nature story for my blog. 🙂

Do your characters control the story or do you?  Have things ever taken a totally different path than what you’d intended?

They “have the com” all the way, and yes, stories often turn out different from what I expected. Return To Me was supposed to be horror, not romance. End of Days was supposed to be a short piece, not a 10K serial. Partners was initially much longer and too meandering, so it had to be cut down for a contest…then it was too short and stilted for Midnight Thirsts 2, and had to be lengthened! J But I enjoy that part of writing immensely. If I knew exactly what was going to happen when I sat down to write, I don’t think it would be near so exciting to write first drafts. But I do admit that I likely wouldn’t have the handful of “extra” stories that don’t yet have homes…

What’s the hardest part of writing? Easiest?

The hardest part of writing used to be worrying about if I was ever going to be published. Now it’s getting that first draft done. When I write now, there is sometimes a little voice telling me that what I’m writing isn’t good enough, its crap, the story is going the wrong way, no one will like it, etc. etc.  Ignoring the voice is easy…but sometimes that voice is spot on. The hard part is knowing when it’s lying and when it’s telling the truth.

 The easiest part of writing is the editing after the rough draft is done. That is the fun part, when I am putting in final touches, making dialogue more edgy, ramping up action, working out kinks, etc. This is done at least three separate times for a novel, maybe more, and usually at least twice for a short story. I love it when everything looks perfect, and I can show it to others. The only trouble is sometimes they tell me it’s not interesting, and then it’s back to the rough draft part! 

Is there anything you need to coax your muse?

Music is a big help. I have written story arcs around a single song, when one really moved me. I also like old movies, and history. But almost anything can inspire me. My trouble is usually not lack of ideas, but lack of free time to write 🙂

 

LASH is a weresnake.  Why a snake?

I was deep into the Promise Me series, and I needed someone to be the baddest of the bad, the right hand man of my vampire Devlin Dalcon. I wanted a werecreature of some kind, but in that series I tried to use only werecreatures that were based on real animals native to North America (non-fantasy creatures). I’d already used the cougar, coyote, fox and bears for werecreatures, and werewolves are overused in paranormal books. I needed something new, and singularly frightening. Then I thought, how about a snake? No one’s done a weresnake before. And Lash was born.

 

Do you have a favorite character you’ve created?

I love all my characters from the Promise Me universe: Sarelle, Danial, Devlin, Lash, Terian, and Theo, to name a few. They are like old friends. When I visit to edit a book from that series, or make a new work, it’s supremely hard to tear myself away. But Lash is the only one to get a series of his own, as he was and remains my mom’s favorite character. So you could call him my favorite, too. After all, it’s his name and form I have tattooed on my back. 🙂

Are you currently reading anything?

I am reading three books right now.

America the Book by Jon Stewart, which I go through one page at a time, as there is so much to read on each page. It is hilarious and informative.

A short book of stories by Edgar Allen Poe, as I had never read some of his short works, like “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” and seeing the movie The Raven prompted me to pick up the book.

Last but not least, I am reading Theater of the Dragon by Daniel Archer, a fellow Wolf Pirate Project Writer’s Workshop author. This book has a compelling premise.  

Have you read anything you’d highly recommend lately?

Anything I give five stars to is highly recommended. I don’t give that ranking without loving what I was reading, and likely being willing to reread the book again at some point.    I review for Good Book Alert, EK Family Books, and also Fantasy Book Review, and you can also find my reviews on Goodreads and Amazon.

Can you tell us about Hannibal?  I have to confess I can do a Hannibal. Papa used to have one in his mill. I was always happy to see one take up residence in my yard.

Sadly, I rarely see local kingsnakes, only garter snakes. Hannibal is a California kingsnake, and shortly to be 2 years old. He’s nice most of the time. Here is a pic of him being bad and hiding beneath the dining room table.

Read you like to target shoot. Favorite gun?

A rifle, because I can get accuracy with distance. 🙂

Movie?

The animated version of the Hobbit 🙂

Really?

Finally, what’s this thing you have about chain sawing firewood?  Is it how you exercise or are you stocking up for winter and savor the scent of fresh cut wood?

LOL…Its necessity. We burn wood in the winter to cut heating costs. We have acres of forest, and trees are always falling down, so there is a handy supply. But it is a lot of work. When I first moved to the country, the old owner had cut a lot of trees for a firewood business, then left them to rot. To take advantage of this largesse, a friend taught me to chainsaw, I installed a wood stove, and then together, we harvested as much of the old wood as possible. It really helped my heating bill that first winter, so I kept doing it each year. Now it’s just part of the normal preparation for winter. And yes, it’s very good exercise. Days I am cutting wood, I can eat all the chocolate I want!

 

 

Y’all can find Tara at her website

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and her blog.

 

Rewriting History with JoMarie DeGioia and MORE THAN PASSION giveaway

Ever wish you could go back in time and change something, something crucial? Yes, I’d love to rethink those horrid glasses in ninth grade or the embarrassing crush on the mind-numbingly dumb boy in tenth. I’d like to rewrite quite a bit of high school, actually.

Now I’ll never get a chance to revisit that time of big hair and designer jeans, but I did get a chance to revisit a favorite story of mine. I made it stronger…

Waaaaaaaaaaay back in the 90s I wrote my very first Historical Romance. Actually, aside from a very glitzy, soapy Contemporary that will never see the light of day, it was my first full-length Romance. Ever. I woke up with these people in my head and the story, as they say, wrote itself. Not really, of course. But it sure felt like it. Luckily, I seemed to have an internal page set, and ended up with a book about 100K words. Raven’s Flight didn’t suck and got me my first agent. It sold, amazingly, right before the turn of the century. Horrid cover, scenes included that should have been cut, etc.

 

 

 

 

When Pride and Fire sold to Lachesis later, it was well-handled and well-received. By now, if you’ve read anything I’ve posted anywhere lol, you know that they also bought the book that follows, More Than Charming.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With the rights to Raven’s Flight reverted back to me, they also bought that and retitled it More Than Passion.

During the editing process, storylines were shifted, characters redefined, romance escalated. I got a chance few authors get, the chance to go back in time and write the book as it should have been written. With the tools, sensibilities and experience I have now.

 

 

 

My question to you authors out there is this: Is there a book you have published (or shoved under the bed) that you would like to rewrite? If so, what would you change? 

My question to authors and readers alike is this: Is there something in your past you’d like to rewrite? Your answers don’t have to be too angsty, of course!

 JoMarie’s publisher Lachesis is kindly giving away an ecopy of MORE THAN PASSION. Just answer JoMarie’s question. Giveaway ends @12am est 7-29. Winner will be notified shortly thereafter.  Good luck, y’all!

 

PRIDE AND FIRE & MORE THAN PASSION @ Lachesis

On Amazon

JoMarie DeGioia

JoMarie DeGioia has been making up stories for as long as she can remember and has spent years giving voice to the characters in her head. She’s known Mickey Mouse from the “inside,” has been a copyeditor for her town’s newspaper, and currently works as a bookseller. She writes Historical Romances with a touch of mystery and Contemporary Romances with a touch of home. She divides her time between Central Florida and New England.

Muses, coffee binges and Wendi Zwaduk

I wasn’t sure what to write about this month when I sat down to work on the post. It seemed like every time I sat down, I had to get back up and help someone do something. You ever have one of those weeks? I’m so there. Then I got the time to work on it and the muse went berserk.

Hence the title – When the Muse Takes a Break and Then Goes on a Caffeine Binge… it seemed like the moment I could write, she took off on hiatus, never to be seen again. Then when the world came crashing down around me, THAT’S when she wanted to talk and unleash everyone. It’s been one headdesk moment after another.

Now don’t get me wrong. When she’s working with me, I refuse to complain. Why? I get things accomplished. It’s the silent periods that drive me crazy. I have a small person and try to write when he’s asleep or away at Gramma’s or at school. It’s summer, so time is precious.  It’s also vacation season. While I love the vacation time, I hate the dog tired feeling when we get home.  We have an RV so its nice, if you have to go, you can get up and go. But I get car sick. Yeah, riding anywhere in the thing without sufficient air on me is a bad thing. Don’t even think about writing on the computer. That’s a one way ticket to Barfsville.

The whole time I’m in the RV and while I’m at the races (You thought I’d go somewhere else?), the muse runs rampant. She knows I don’t have paper or pencil or pen to jot notes down. I’d use my phone, but those screens are teensy and I don’t have dainty thumbs. (Never have, never will.) But the moment I get back to the RV, child is sleeping, DH is sleeping… muse runs away and hides.

I try to remember what all she said during the race and the drive, but naturally it takes a hike, too. Does anyone else have this problem? The carsickness, the sleep deprivation once you get home, the muse taking off on vacation when you have time? I’d love to know. At least I’d have someone to commiserate with. Let me know.

The good thing is this – well, a couple things – I do have some of the mental notes. If I look at approximately what I was looking at or reading before when I had the thought, it tends to trigger the memory. I also had a notebook with me for some of it. Yes, I’m glad I did. I also have the memories of where we went. How does that help? If the story is about a dirt racer, being there is great research. So it’s not all for naught.

Still, what are your thoughts?

~ ~

Here’s a little bit about my upcoming release, Sunshine of Your Love:

 

It’s 1970. The world is in upheaval. Can two people really make a difference and find love at the same time?

Noel Flynt signed up for the Army to carry out his family duty. He never expected the travesties of Vietnam to take their toll on him. He’s coming back to the world he thought he knew, but with everything changing around him, he’s going to have to learn he can’t live in the past.

Cindy Stephens couldn’t wait for Noel to return. She sees the man within the uniform and has loved him for as long as she can remember. But times have changed. She’s not the timid schoolgirl any longer. Can she accept his changes, too?
The only constants are time and love.

Reader Advisory: This book contains one war hero, the woman who loves him, lots of hot sex, with a little spanking mixed in for good measure.

Available at Total e-bound.

~ ~

 

 

Want to know more about Wendi Zwaduk? Here you go:

I always dreamt 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 earned a BA in education at Kent State University and currently hold a Masters in Education with Nova Southeastern University.

I love NASCAR, romance, books in general,Ohiofarmland, dirt racing, and my menagerie of animals.  I also write under the pen name of Megan Slayer. I’m published with Total-E-Bound, Changeling Press, Liquid Silver Books, Turquoise Morning Press and The Wild Rose Press. Come join me for this fantastic journey!

If you like my work, tell your friends and email me. I love hearing from readers!

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Meet J. M. Griffin

Thanks for stopping by Manic Readers today, J. M.

Thank you for having me.

What led you to writing?

All through my childhood I would come up with characters, invisible friends and stories to go with them. After my children were grown and left home, I began to think back on those long ago days of my storytelling youth and decided I should put words to paper (computer). I enjoy a book that makes me smile and laugh out load, so I decided that’s what I would write.

Can you share a bit about your criminal justice instructor,Vinnie Esposito mysteries, For the Love of Livvy, Dirty Trouble and Dead Wrong?

This series features an Italian woman who can’t seem to get from one day to the next without encountering some type of calamity. She’s way to nosey for her own good which in turn leads her to trouble. Her father is an old world Italian who thinks she should get married and have a gaggle of kids, make pasta, and truck the little darlings to soccer. Vinnie doesn’t agree with his assessment of her job as a criminal justice instructor or her lifestyle. The confrontations occur often, but Vinnie realizes she’d be lost without her family, which is colorful at best. The series is set in present day Rhode Island. Vinnie has an upstairs neighbor who is an undercover FBI agent, and her boyfriend is a Rhode Island State Trooper. The two men are staples in her life. The stories are fun and give the reader something to laugh about.

What about Cold Moon Dead, any details you can share?

Vinnie is held up by an old hag whose car has broken down on the side of the road. Unbeknownst to Vinnie, the hag isn’t what she appears and steals cars for a living. From that point on, Vinnie deals with her artist friend, a gangster and the FBI who has the lawbreaker under surveillance. When the man ends up at her parents’ house, Vinnie becomes aware of a side of her father’s life she never knew existed. Her mother shows up on Vinnie’s doorstep with ideas of her own and sends Vinnie’s life even further out of control.

Your last two releases, Murder on Spyglass Lane and Faerie Cake Dead are departures from the Vinnie Esposito series.  In the former we have a psychic artist and in the latter a tea shop owner whose business is surrounded by faeries that have befriended her.  We still have mysteries but you’ve added a touch of “other”.   What spurred these?

The Faerie Cake Dead storyline came to me when I attended a writer’s retreat inMaine. A friend and I had spoken of faeries and such. Tea shops are my favorite places to go and I enjoy finding new ones. Once I put the two ideas together, I had the beginning of that book and it took shape from there. I have a second one in that series started called Faerie Glass Dead.  Murder on Spyglass Lane began when I was visiting Florida. I was near a golf course when I saw a cul-de-sac named Spyglass Lane. That’s all it took. Before I knew what happened, the book was half written.

Can you tell us a bit about each?

 

 

 

Faerie Cake Dead is about a divorced woman, Luna Devere, who has always believed in faeries. She speaks to and is befriended by them. After opening a tea shop on the rugged coast of Maine, she becomes the target of her ex-husband and a real estate agent who have plans to put her out of business and try to steal the land she owns for pennies on the dollar.Luna hires a carpenter, whom she finds very attractive, to add an office to her business. While he works for her, they form a mutual bond and solve the unwelcome mysterious happenings that surround Luna’s Faerie Cake Junction Tea Shoppe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Murder on Spyglass Lane takes place on the western coast of Florida in Sarasota. An artist, Sarah McDougall, moves to Florida from New England in an effort to outrun her psychic abilities, but finds she was mistaken after she and her Bassett hound find a the body of a dead woman under the sand trap on the golf course behind her home. Her neighbor, a man who reminds Sarah of a swashbuckling pirate from the 1700’s, has secrets of his own, even though he agrees to assist Sarah in her efforts to find out what happened to the woman.Sarah’s life is threatened when she gets too close to the truth. *If you want to know what happens next, well…I’m afraid I can’t tell you. 🙂

 

How important is location to your books?

Since I use real cities/towns, I find it very important. While Faerie Cake Dead takes place in a fictional town, the coast of Maine is real.Sarasota is definitely true to form, and since I live in Rhode Island, I know the area very well. I try to make it as real for my readers as possible. I often hear from the locals that they ride around and try to figure out where Lola’s deli or the art gallery is located. I enjoy knowing they are interested enough to do so.

Is there anything you need to get those creative juices flowing, music, caffeine, chocolate or something else entirely?

I can’t say that any one single thing inspires me. It’s usually just my imagination and life’s events that will set me off on a new storyline.

Who’s in control, you or the characters?

The characters are definitely in control. I might think I’m going in the right direction with a story, but suddenly it takes a left turn and I end up with something altogether different. It really is fun.

Has a story or character ever taken a twist that surprised you?

That happens all the time. Especially in the newest book I’m working on, Faerie Glass Dead.

As a person owned by cats, why Sparky the Bassett Hound forSarahMcDougallyour psychic artist?

I have no idea where Sparky came from. He just seemed to fit Sarah’s character.

I read that you were encouraged by an English teacher.  Were you ever able to thank her & has she seen what you’ve accomplished?

Unfortunately, she passed away before I ever began writing. I did thank her for inspiring me to become a better student while I studied, though.

Is there another genre you’d like to attempt?

I would like to try my hand at Young Adult, but I’m not sure I could manage it. I’ve played with the idea for some time now and have read YA to get a feel for it. As with everything in my life, until I get my feet wet, I won’t go swimming.

Are you currently or have you recently read anything you’d recommend?

I’m currently reading Karen Marie Moning’s book Into the Dreaming. I enjoyed her Fever Series and recommend it to anyone who enjoys faeries and action.

Thanks for taking the time to visit Manic Readers, J. M.  I’ve enjoyed talking to you.

Thank you for the invite.

Visit J.M.

 

 

 

Tory Richards on Life, Passionate Encounters and Hot Spot

Hi everyone! I’m so thrilled to be here today. I’m a grandma who writes smut, otherwise known as Tory Richards. I’m multi-published, and you can find my books at: Ellora’s Cave, Liquid Silver Books, The Wild Rose Press and Whiskey Creek Press Torrid. I do have two books under my real name, Debbie Wallace, at Whiskey Creek Press. They are mainstream romances and two of the first books I had published. One of which, Cupid’s Arrow, was on the publisher’s best seller’s list for two consecutive months.

I went through a slump, funk, whatever you want to call it, and didn’t write for a long time. I can’t blame writer’s block. It was just life. We’re a little over half way through the year and I’ve had to face losing my job, losing my soul mate of seventeen years, having to sell our house, take an unplanned but much needed trip home to help the healing process, and so on. I’m not writing this so you’ll feel bad for me. It’s life. We all have challenges, heartache, and a list of other stuff that we have to deal with. I’m not special. Though my grandchildren might argue about that.

The good news is I have begun to write again, and it feels so good! The Mercenary Way came out in February. I have two books due out in August and hopefully another two due out sometime later in the year. One is my first interracial erotic romance. I have simplified my life big time. Living full time with my daughter and her family has helped. I have my own mother-in-law area of the house where my four felines and I reside. I’m comfortable. As I get older I find I want less. After all, life is short you know, can’t spend it doing housework and washing nick knacks. And I want to spend as much of it with my grandchildren, whom I adore, and writing, which is my passion.

 

The two erotic romances coming out in August are Passionate Encounters, the new and improved and highly sexed up version of Cupid’s Arrow. And Hot Spot, a short erotic romance and my second release with Liquid Silver Books. I hope you’ll check them out. Below are blurbs, book covers and links.

Website 

 

Passionate Encounters –Whiskey Creek Press Torrid – August 2012

Mike Denton knows he’s in big trouble the minute he meets attractive divorcee Emma Stuart. Busy raising a teenage daughter, he doesn’t have time to pursue his own needs until she’s out of high school. That doesn’t mean he can’t enjoy an occasional after noon delight. The only problem is Emma’s not that kind of woman. And her pretty brown eyes and luscious curves lure him into breaking his one hard fast rule of not sleeping with the same woman twice.

Emma thought she was content with her quiet new life down on the lake. That is until a mistake lands the small town’s hunky detective on her door step. As soon as their eyes meet her body responds to his sex appeal in a big way, reminding her she hasn’t had sex in two years. After he leaves she thinks they’ll never see each other again. But what Emma hadn’t counted on was her sister’s match making skills.

 

 

 

 

Hot Spot Liquid Silver Books – August, 13.2012

There’d been something brewing between John and Sammy twenty years ago when they were teenagers. Only good girl Sammy had been too afraid of his bad boy image. Besides, in those days all he’d wanted was sex. She opted for his safer and more predictable brother, Pat. And when they get married, John disappears.

They’re reunited during a family reunion, and the years disappear in the blink of an eye. Seeing him now, as the successful, sexy man he’s become, reminds Sammy that they’re both free to pursue their attraction for each other that had never fully extinguished. Only giving in to a weekend of hot anywhere, anything goes sex isn’t the only thing Sammy faces. She has to come to terms with loving him.

 

 

 

Thank you for letting me visit with you today. I’m a member of Manic Readers so if you’d like to check out my page.

Tootles!

Gwyn Cready, TIMELESS DESIRE, and a giveaway

Libraries. Who doesn’t love them? Most readers I know would happily live out the rest of their days in a library, tucked into a comfortable chair, book cradled in their lap, aware of but not really distracted by the gentle hum of whispers and clacking keys around them. A library is a shared luxury that brings its joy at a cost so low to be virtually undetectable at an individual level.

I love libraries and librarians. Most authors do. But did you know how the concept of a free public library in every community came about? In many ways, we have Andrew Carnegie, 19th century industrialist, 20th century philanthropist and Pittsburgh son, to thank for it.

Carnegie believed that wealth should be accrued and then given away. He said, “A man who dies rich dies disgraced.” When he was a young employee in the telegraph company in Pittsburgh, Colonel James Anderson opened his personal library to the working boys in his neighborhood, allowing them to borrow one book every Saturday and exchange it for another the next. Carnegie so benefited from this unlikely privilege, he was determined to provide the same benefit to as many people as possible once he became rich. He created a foundation that paid for libraries to be built in communities that provided land, agreed to spend an amount equal to ten percent of the cost of construction each year on maintenance and promised to make the libraries free to all. Before Andrew Carnegie’s generous gifts, libraries depended on subscriptions, almost like country clubs, and not everyone to afford to belong to one.

Andrew Carngie’s foundation eventually built over 3,500 free libraries around the world, and his requirement that communities who received  free library construction funds maintain those libraries in perpetuity instantly transformed the notion of a library from a luxury meant only for a well-to-do few to a tax-supported service of a community. Genius!

A number of the first Carnegie free libraries built were built in Pittsburgh, including one of the two libraries at the heart of my latest book, Timeless Desire, the Andrew Carnegie Library of Carnegie, Pennsylvania, a library only a couple of miles from my home. (And don’t think the name of the town is a coincidence. They changed their name to convince Andrew Carnegie to give them a library.) Panna, the heroine of Timeless Desire, is a librarian struggling with budget cuts. She stumbles upon a long-locked door, and, well, if you’re a fan of Gwyn Cready, you can guess what happens next. She finds herself at the turn of the eighteenth century n the castle of a rich English nobleman, in fact the very same nobleman whose larger-than-life statue looms over her seat at the check-out desk. Only the nobleman is not quite the man she expected, despite the fact he has a library to rival any lord in England.

His library is the second library that plays a big role in the book, and his was inspired by J. P. Morgan’s personal library, which still stands in Manhattan and is a museum now, open to the public. If you have a chance, I highly recommend visiting it. The library is absolutely AWE-INSPIRING. It really shows what a man with a gazillion dollars can do when he puts his mind to it. The picture is below. My hero, whose name is Bridgewater, is very proud of his library. And, of course, whenever you have a library that grand, you have to have a hidden staircase, right? Needless to say, Panna and Bridgewater’s adventure begins with the hidden staircase and takes them through battle-ravaged northern England to a forbidding Scottish castle in the borderlands of Scotland. You can read the whole description on my homepage. It’s a yummy romance, and the yummy-ness begins with this fantastic cover! I’ve never had a wrap-around cover before, and I couldn’t be happier!

In honor of Panna and Bridgewater’s book-filled romance, I’ll be giving away three copies of Timeless Desire. Just enter here for one chance to win, or friend me on Facebook for a second chance to win, or follow me on Twitter for a third chance to win.

Thanks so much, everyone, and may your libraries grow and grow!

Best,

Gwyn

I’ve already read Timeless Desire and loved it y’all.  The print copy should be available the 23rd. The kindle is available now by clicking on Timeless Desire in Gwyn’s post.

In Praise of (supportive) Husbands by Beverley Oakley aka Beverley Eikli with giveaway

My darling husband often tells me I have a devious mind. He means it in the nicest possible way. As one of of my greatest fans (I’m afraid mine are the only historical romances he reads) he’s the kind of man who’ll interpret that far-away look in my eye as I’m doing the washing up as serious plotting rather than boredom.  And praise me for my dedication to my craft. 

When I first met this gorgeous Norwegian bush pilot, whose name is Eivind, around a camp fire in Botswana the evening before I was to fly home to Australia to my stockbroker boyfriend of eight years, I was surprised at the interest he showed in the historical romance I’d spent the previous three years writing.

 And when the stockbroker boyfriend moved onto greener pastures and I wrote to Eivind on the excuse of asking him to meet my sister at Maun airport (as she was following in my footsteps to manage a safari camp in Botswana), Eivind wrote back and asked for a floppy disk of my book. (Yes, this was 18 years ago and e-mail was not a form of communication in Botswana at that time.)

 The darling man ploughed through all 500 pages of it before jumping onto a plane eight months later and flying to my home in Adelaide, South Australia, to ask me to marry him – though I don’t believe his proposal was entirely due to the quality of the never-to-be published romance I’d written.

Nevertheless, he’s remained a huge support with his encouragement. 

Often, when I’ve finished writing a book I’ll take the children out and he’ll spend a day with his feet up reading my all-but-final draft on his iPad before I return – with nails bitten down to the quick – to await his verdict.

Sometimes he’ll simply say: “It was great. I love the way your mind works” before presenting me with his useful fine-edits. On a different occasion he’ll shake his head – like he did with my Regency Intrigue Lady Farquhar’s Butterfly written under my Beverley Eikli name – and say, “Your villain did not get what he deserved! You’ve got to make Olivia just give it to him when she gets the chance!

So, having in a sense been given permission, I launched into that creepy crypt scene with fists flying and pistols pounding.

It wasn’t until round three, though, that we were all happy…. except my villain, of course. 

One of the few stories my husband hasn’t read – because he was doing his Boeing 737 Command – is my latest erotic English Civil War release, The Cavalier. It’s also the one I’m most interested and anxious to have his verdict on as the story takes place on the eve – and during the siege – of my heroine’s castle and it contains lots of the stuff men like to read.

The Cavalier is an action-packed 20,000-word erotic drama full of lusty exploits, passion, tender moments, revenge and sword play.

And I’m really keen to hear his opinion – from a man’s point of view, not a husband’s.

 

 

Drummond Castle, home of staunch Puritan Silas Drummond and his beautiful wife, Elizabeth, has been besieged by Royalist forces. In a bargain to spare her husband’s life Lady Elizabeth has agreed to spend the night with the commander of the hated King’s Men. 

Second-in-command, Charles Trethveyan, has other ideas. He’s planned this moment since Elizabeth chose to marry Silas eight years before.

 When Elizabeth discovers that her former Cavalier lover has taken the place of his superior, she must decide whether Charles is motivated by love or revenge.

Either way, her response will have devastating consequences.

The Cavalier is available on pre-order discount until July 16, when it’s officially released.

 

 

I usually write Regency Romances – either traditional under my Beverley Eikli name, or sensual or erotic under my pseudonym, Beverley Oakley. However this gritty, sometimes brutal story had been begging to be written for a long time. I love historical author Pamela Belle’s work. Her brilliant English Civil War Wintercombe series has resonated over decades with me. I’ve also devoured everything I can find to do with seventeenth century diarist Samuel Pepys and his life. As a history major and lover of social histories for as long as I can remember, I’m comfortable with the time period.

Honour and loyalty are two of my favourite themes and integral to a romance set against civil conflict when families and friends could be fighting on opposing sides.

Writing it made me feel that the pen really is mightier than the sword. (Despite what my husband might think.)

Beverley is generously giving away winners choice of an ecopy of RAKE’S HOUNOUR or LADY LOVETT’S LITTLE DILEMMA.  Giveaway ends @12am est 7-20-12.  Good luck!  Beverley has some lovely wicked twists to her stories.

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can read more about my erotic Historicals written as Beverley Oakley and my Historical Intrigues written as Beverley Eikli by visiting my website at.

You can also visit my blog:, find me on FB  or at Twitter