A little bit of scary is good, right? M. Allman

When you were a kid did you love fall, because you knew Halloween was just around the corner? Yes, or course the candy was a big reason to love this holiday, but so was dressing up and being scared. There were scary shows on television throughout the month of October and a lot of times, scary books were read at school. Remember The Legend of Sleep Hallow? Bwahahaha!



Thinking back to those good ol’creepy days of childhood is what inspires me to write stories for a younger crowd that are scary, but never gory, and creepy enough to give the reader goose bumps, while still making the story somewhat humorous.

Last year I released “Ally Ally Oxen Free” as a Kindle short story. This story revolves around one game that all kids love to play as a child—hide and seek. (Well, at least I did, and I had 4 sisters and 3 brothers to play along with me.)  Tom is the main character in this story and this young boy is fascinated with bones and the workings of the human skeleton, so when he gets a change to dig in a vacant lot, he is thrilled. But, he doesn’t expect to unearth someone that will make all the neighborhood kids tremble with fear. The title comes from the call that brings everyone safely out of hiding and those four little words have more power than one might think.






This fall, my new release “Alfred C.Bogeyman” from Melange-Books YA imprint Fire and Ice is another creepy little story with a bit a humor. Adrian and his two friends set out to find the boogieman and make him stop scaring his little brother. The trio does find who they believe is the boogieman and this is where their battle with good and evil collide. The book has a few twists that make it fun to read for both younger readers and adults.

I have discovered that I love writing books for the YA crowd and have others in the works. I am currently working on a third eBook, “Mermaid’s Kiss,” about a boy who sets out to catch a mermaid to help heal a dying relative’s illness. The mermaid kiss is supposed to heal and her tears are like a fountain of youth, so the story is based on this premise. However, this one is not creepy, but full of fantasy and fun.

If you are feeling nostalgic, or have a child at home, feel free to check out my creepy little stories. Stories are always more fun when you share them. 🙂



Bio: Molly holds a BA in professional writing. She lives in rural Indiana and works as a freelance writer and author. Molly has also been known to write the occasional quirky greeting card verse and some questionable poetry. Visit her website to learn more about current and upcoming writing projects as well as book release dates.

Molly on FB




Paulette Mahurin on Inspiration

Thank you, Ivy Truitt, for inviting me to speak at your blog site. I’m really grateful for this opportunity. When I asked you what you would like me to write about, you wrote back, Maybe what inspired you to write the book, and I gave that some thought. I started to think about what really inspired me, when ostensibly I usually write about Oscar Wilde’s imprisonment and the gross injustice of being incarcerated for doing what one can no more help than the sun rise each day. I replayed countless of interviews and blog post I’ve made since my book, The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap, was released and the same themes, significant as they are, played in my head, filled with passion. But, I didn’t want to keep repeating myself and so I sat with the idea of inspiration to see what else, something new I could come up with and truth be told what inspired me is unchanging: intolerance, injustice, my heart’s yearning for social justice for all. Okay, then what to write about here? Then it hit me, and I’m laughing, because really it seems to defeat the purpose to think of an idea that is inspirational, when for me inspiration comes from a place that doesn’t involved thinking at all. That turned my light bulb on. So, what is it, inspiration—that stirs a  stimulation to a high level of feeling or doing? The answer for me is intuition, that inner sense of knowing without rational guidance.


I once wrote that intuition is God speaking to me. This was never truer than when I worked in the second busiest emergency room (ER) in Los Angeles County, with the highest census of child abuse. I’m a Nurse Practitioner, and working in an ER means I operate just like any of the other doctors, independently handling patients, without taking on the serious trauma cases. I saw things I had never experienced before yet somehow knew what needed to be done, that inner sense that said don’t send this kid home, no matter what the on-duty doctor thought. I learned to hone my intuitive skill and not overthink or deny. It served me well and to this day I am grateful beyond description, I never lost a patient in the ER.


While I was writing, The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap, this inner sense kicked in. At first I ignored it, wanting to show off and write about all the research I had done. I spent hours on one subject and didn’t want to reduce it to a sentence. I wanted the recognition for all the hard work I’d put in, to feel proud. The problem was it didn’t serve the story, didn’t forward the action or the character’s dialogue or narrative. It robbed the story of flow, and I struggled with this. I had spend days researching the Donner Party debacle, and wanted to use it in the story to show why people migrated south; avoiding the cold life defeating winters the  Donner’s got caught in, resulting in cannibalism—to settle in the Walker Lake area. I included a few pages about this, only to have my editor blast me that the story had switched from that of bigotry and persecution, a chaotic small town’s inhumanity to its fellow citizens, to that of a didactic history lesson. Boy did I learn my lesson. Now what? What the hell do I cut? The flickering intuitive light that I all but smothered, started to glimmer. This time I paid attention to it, and stepped out of the way of the story, parked my not so intelligent ego, and let the story flow. I ended up with a few sentences. As a result of this type of editing the book is only 202 pages, lol!


Once I got in the groove of letting the story write itself, it was easy to feel the real inspiration that was motivating me to write this story; the injustice of Oscar Wilde’s imprisonment, but now it wasn’t reduced to some thought process, but a visceral knowing, an organic sense, of a slight glimmer of what he must have gone through. And, so in searching out my inspiration, I have come full circle to once again be reminded that all he did was become attracted to another man, love the other man, and make love to him. He could no more help that than a leaf can change its color, or a dog not wag when its owner comes home, the attraction of life forces, whether a man for a man, a leaf for carbon dioxide, a dog for a bone, are inexplicable elements of the mystery of life. To blame someone for this is like blaming a flame for burning flesh, the rain for falling, and the miracle of all the senses created from beyond comprehension for simply doing what they do. This, my inspiration, made me write, kept me up through the exhaustion I live with (I have Lyme’s Disease), and motivated me, it still does to put this story to paper and spread the word: in the name of tolerance.






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Article VC Star 9-9-12

Michele Drier’s new love interest

I have a new love interest.

Well, maybe “love” is too strong a word.

But I’m definitely intrigued with someone I’ve never met.

A few months ago, a pal from high school mentioned an organization called Coursera on his facebook page.  He was talking about taking an engineering course from them.

An online engineering class? That sounded interesting. I wondered what else this Coursera had to offer.

I discovered a virtual online university!  A couple of small drawbacks, though.  No grades and no credits.  The upside? It’s FREE.

It was started by two Stanford professors and is funded by some Bay Area venture capitalists. The website says, “We are a social entrepreneurship company that partners with the top universities in the world to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free.”

I looked at their course offerings and enrolled in two: A History of the World Since 1300 taught by Jeremy Adelman from Princeton and Greek and Roman Mythology taught by Peter Struck from the University of  Pennsylvania.

The history class will come in handy as I continue to write The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles. After all, the Kandeskys began in fourteenth century Hungary following the Black Death.  And they built their fortune in trade, as cloth merchants, along the Renaissance routes through European rivers and the Silk Road.

It’s early days yet and I’ve only watched a couple of the video lectures, but Jeremy Adelman has my attention!  It may have something to do with the fact that I was a dual English/History major as an undergrad, but I stayed up the other night until midnight, watching lectures. Class discussion is a little iffy.  There are 70,000 people from around the world enrolled in history and 50,000 folks in the Mythology class.

Having spent the summer with two married men, it’s going to be interesting to open up to new experiences. Baron Stefan and Jean-Louis, the top-ranking Kandesky vampires are fascinating and I told their stories in two novellas I wrote this summer: Plague: A Love Story and the just-released Danube: A Tale of Murder.  I was immersed in four centuries of Hungarian history and now I can find out what the rest of the world was up to as the Kandeskys were building their trade empire.

There were selfish reasons I enrolled, but it became totally worthwhile a few days ago.  There’s a discussion thread in the history class where we can introduce ourselves and suddenly a comment popped up in my email.  It was from a woman in the Midwest who was taking her first college level course since she graduated from high school—at the age of 49!

What I learn from Jeremy Adelman will be wonderful and information I can put to use in my writing.  But what worlds will open to the woman in the Midwest! And I’m astounded at her courage and heart and thirst for learning.

What an incredible win-win situation!

Check  out Coursera

Book Four of the Kandesky Vampire Chronicles Danube: A Tale of Murder.


Michele Drier was born in Santa Cruz and is a fifth generation Californian.  She’s lived and worked all over the state, calling both Southern and Northern California home.  During her career in journalism — as a reporter and editor at daily newspapers – she won awards for producing investigative series.

Her mystery Edited for Death, called “Riveting and much recommended” by the Midwest Book Review and a Memorable Book for 2011 on DorothyL, is available in paperback at Amazon and B&N.

Her paranormal romance series, SNAP: The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles, is available in ebook format at Amazon.  The first book, SNAP: The World Unfolds, received a 4-star rating from the Paranormal Romance Guild.  The second book, SNAP: New Talent, also received 4 stars from PRG.  The third book of the Chronicles, Plague: A Love Story, was published in June 2012, the fourth, Danube: A Tale of Murder was published September 13, 2012 and the fifth,  SNAP: Love for Blood is scheduled to be released in December 2012.


Visit Michele


Getting Polished with Holley Trent

People who ring my doorbell probably think I’m the maid. “Rough” would be a generous way to describe my stay-at-home ensemble. The sad thing is I’m Southern and was raised by one of those women who wouldn’t get into her car unless every hair was in place, jewelry just so, shoes perfectly shined. I’m supposed to be the embodiment of all that is genteel and polite.


I do try to avoid wearing beer tee shirts in public, and I’m old enough now I wouldn’t dare leave the house in deconstructed anything. But when I have to be somewhere that involves networking or cameras, I schlep out the mascara and put on a better bra. I clean up pretty well, I think.

That’s what my quirky sensual romance Polished Slick is about—putting a better foot forward. You see, the title is a bit of a double entendre. Yes, it’s a novel where nail polish is heavily featured, but there’s also a bit of a physical transformation by one of the major characters. Looks matter, whether we want them to or not, and sometimes people dress badly to avoid being noticed. I’m guilty of that. Here’s a little snippet from a point in the book where pretty much everyone has a transformation as an on-the-job hazard. The set-up: the staff of a small cosmetics company is about to stage a photo shoot. My heroine isn’t feeling it.

“I feel really exposed.”  Trinity tightened the robe around the skimpy outfit she didn’t even know was being held in her trunk. If she’d been curious enough to actually examine the items she’d so blindly picked up, she might have questioned who they were for. Gabby would have been the only other person employed by N-by-N who would have come close to being able to fit it and no way would Nikki let that child wear something so short.

“Oh, quit your griping,” Gretchen sniped, now swatting some black mascara onto Trinity’s lashes to complement the cake of black eye shadow Trinity was already wearing. “You could be famous for this.”

“I don’t want to be famous!”  It sounded petulant, even to Trinity’s ears, but it was true. “I’m a chemist. I don’t want people thinking I care about my looks.”

“Oh, people who know you know the opposite’s true,” Gretchen said. “Now, do this.”  She sucked in her cheeks to hollow them out.

Trinity sighed and mimicked her as the grumbly auburn lady swept her cheeks with a dark blush. Trinity’s back was to the big mirror, but she figured by the time Gretchen was done she’d either look like Edenton’s highest paid whore or a feral raccoon. Neither sounded sexy. At least the only people to see her in that ridiculous get-up would be the girls…or so Trinity thought. No sooner had she taken solace in that small thing did the studio door click open and Dom and Cole entered in full female impersonator mode.


Dom and Cole both worked for a traveling drag and female impersonating revue. Cole also acted as the troupe manager. He was married to Nikki’s accountant, Macy, and appeared on television a lot to judge competitions and provide guidance on talent shows. Dom was Beth’s live-in sweetie…when he was in town, anyway.

Dom liked to vary his acts, but on that day he was done up like Lea Michele as Rachel Berry complete with heavy bang, Scottie dog sweater, plaid schoolgirl shirt, high white knee socks and flat brown loafers. He held up his hands to show off his pale pink nail polish. Gretchen guffawed.

“Haters gonna hate, Gretchen,” Beth said cheerfully, straightening up and walking over to give her lover an air kiss so as not to disturb his make-up. She was all done and the stool was open. Gretchen’s turn.

While the make-up dust settled, Trinity took a moment to assess the other newcomer in the room. Cole, Dom’s boss and conscience, was in his usual Nicole Scherzinger get-up with fire engine red nails (which seemed to take on a special significance following the previous day’s disaster). Cole did one act and did it well. Trinity thought he was a pretty humble guy to be so damned handsome. More often than not, Trinity saw him out of make-up, which made sense because he didn’t want to confuse his toddler. She’d kept an eye on Courtney a few times at the barn when Macy brought her in to hang out while she handled accounting stuff with Nikki. Sweet baby.

The public outside of Chowan County would probably think Nikki had performed some sort of coup to get both Dom and Cole to appear in the N-by-N marketing materials, but the truth was nobody in Chowan County batted an eyelash at them anymore. They’d been around for a few years and had started to blend in with the rest of the nuts.

Gretchen took about fifteen minutes to shoot then Dom, who was a bit of a diva, took half an hour because he wanted to make sure he had the pout down pat. Cole nailed it on the first shot, holding a microphone and narrowing his eyes to make a sultry stare, but the photographer grabbed a few back-up shots as well. Both he and Dom hurried off to shower and change for a later shot Nikki was being coy about.

And then it was Trinity’s turn. Nikki yanked her robe off, minding Trinity’s wet nails, and gave her a shove toward the faux lab bench Charlie and Juan had apparently set up earlier in the morning.

“Here, don’t forget this.”  Nikki held out a pristine white lab coat. Trinity grabbed it, glad to have some cover over the short sparkly party dress she felt like such a fool in. The mirror indicated the dress wasn’t as short as it felt, but ending mid-thigh, it was certainly shorter than Trinity was used to.

Nikki patted the center edge of the table. “Sit here. Cross your legs at the knees.”  Trinity did as she was told and allowed Nikki to pose her hands so her fingers dangled over the edge of the table. Beth came over to pat down some errant hair and refresh Trinity’s already-heavy lip-gloss then both women backed away. The photographer swooped in and started grabbing shots before they were all the way out of the frame.

“Um…should I smile or something?” Trinity asked through clenched teeth.

“Nope,” the photographer said, getting in close to capture the platinum-colored nails which matched the metallic sequins of the dress then backing away to get a full portrait. Five minutes in, Nikki swooped in and handed Trinity an Erlenmeyer flask to hold.

Five more shots.

“All done.”  The photographer popped out his battery pack and squatted over his bag to locate a charged one.

Trinity hopped down, relieved to be able to get back into her own comfortable clothes. Nikki had other ideas. She hurried over and wrested the lab coat off Trinity then pushed her to the stool Beth had last occupied.

“Not done with you,” she said. “Gretchen, is he ready?”

“Yeah. Last-minute shave. Didn’t want Ron to have to edit out the shadow. He’s coming up the stairs now.”

“Who is?” Trinity asked.

The door creaked open again and the answer was standing in it.

“…the hell?”

Jerry didn’t look amused. He looked fabulous. Gorgeous, even. Downright sexy, certainly, but not amused.

“Holy hell.”


How well do you clean up?


Polished Slick is available as an ebook now from All Romance eBooks, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Bookstrand.


For more information about me or upcoming stories, visit me or catch me in motion on Twitter .

Tangos, Snow Dances and a giveaway with Alicia and Roy Street

Do you tango? The tango originally began in bordellos as a seductive improvisation between a man and a woman. A dance where each vies for the upper hand. This is a theme that runs throughout the latest book in our Dance ‘n’ Luv contemporary romance series — TOUCH ME AND TANGO

Parker Richardson grew up early. At seventeen he took care of his mother and younger sisters and began running his late father’s gardening business. Strong and down-to-earth, nothing knocked him off his feet until he met Tanya Gentilliano. The spoiled, selfish and outrageously beautiful young dancer took him for a spin that left him dizzy for years to come.

Over a decade has passed, and Tanya, a rising star in the world of ballroom dance, has traveled internationally, winning over audiences with her clean technique, dazzling smile and showgirl legs. But after an SOS phone call from her weird-and-wacky mom, she rushes home to the quiet coastal village on Long Island’s East End and runs smack into Parker Richardson.



Seeing each other again ignites the same fiery attraction and frustration that existed between them in the past—plus a secret danger that will change both of their lives forever.



Our prequel short, SNOW DANCE, takes place ten years before TOUCH ME AND TANGO and includes the backstory of how Parker and Tanya met in their youth. Leave a comment telling us what you think about the tango and you’ll be entered to win a copy of SNOW DANCE.

Ends @12am est 10-1-12!  Winner announced shortly thereafter.




In addition to being part of today’s Indie writers movement,Alicia and Roy Street are traditionally published authors and recipients of a Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense.

They share backgrounds in the performing arts and spent many gypsy years living and working in the different neighborhoods of New York City and Philadelphia. Alicia as a dancer, choreographer and teacher; Roy in theater, visual arts and standup comedy.




Alicia on Twitter

 Roy on Twitter  

Dance ‘n’ Luv series

Kiss Me, Dancer

Touch Me and Tango

Snow Dance

Words with Cynthia Vespia



“I never opened myself this way, life is ours we live it our way. All these words I don’t just say. And nothing else matters.” – Metalllica
Life happens. Things get in the way and you get sidetracked, overwhelmed even. That’s where I have been for the past few weeks.

My father died. Something like that can sidetrack you permanently if you let it.

I can tell you I’ve felt better. It certainly cracked my momentum. My writing has suffered. I haven’t been able to think let alone put pen to paper. It has taken me three weeks to even write this blog.

Then I saw a movie. A movie about a writer, a movie about words.

Bradley Cooper, one of the finest actors of this generation and one of my all time favorites, stars as a struggling writer who happens upon an old manuscript that he winds up publishing under his name even though the story isn’t his.

The movie is riveting to say the least. But what really got to my core was the overall theme. At one point Cooper barks at Zoe Saldana who plays his love interest that he “doesn’t know how his life wound up this way.” he goes on to say that he isn’t who he thought he was and he’s afraid he will never become that person.
Damn, don’t we all feel like that sometimes? No ones life is perfectly rosy, I don’t care who you are. Even the biggest A-list celebrity must look in the mirror from time to time and wonder “what the hell?” (that’s why so many of them are on drugs I imagine.)

But the most poignant line in the film, the one that has been gnawing at my brain ever since I saw The Words, was when the old man who initially penned the lost manuscript (played beautifully by Jeremy Irons) explains why he never wrote anything else. He tells Cooper’s character that he “was afraid of going that deep again.”


It struck me…hard! That’s what has been lacking. That’s why the passion has seemed to fizzle. That’s why I haven’t put pen to paper in months for a new novel. I’m afraid of going that deep again.

I’ve been through the ringer in my short 34 years. To be honest there’s alot of things I’d rather forget about. In writing, as in acting, you tap into your emotions to deliver the scene. Going that deep I wonder if I may not be able to come back.

But I’m willing to make that attempt. I’m willing to draw from my gut and see what it produces.

“That which doesn’t kill me only leaves me stronger.”

I hope you who are reading this will stay with me and see what is produced from this awakening.

Also, if you haven’t done so yet…go see The Words! It’s brilliant 🙂

Vanessa Kelly interview and giveaway

Do you still have those old Georgette Heyer books your sister gave you that kindled you love of the Regency period?  How cool it would be to have copies of those fromEngland.

I actually do have a few left, although most of my Georgette Heyer novels are reprints or ones I snagged at garage sales.  And thank God for Sourcebooks for doing those lovely new editions!

I agree, they are lovely.   I’m a big fan of her mysteries.  Her books aren’t thick on the ground either if you’re looking for used.

Can you tell us about HIS MISTLETOE BRIDE, please?

The short version:  It’s a Regency High Noon, set during Christmastime! 

The long version:  My heroine is a Quaker from Philadelphia, and my hero is a former army officer who inherited an earldom.  Phoebe and Lucas find themselves pitchforked into a marriage of convenience, which leads to all kinds of complications when their different philosophies of life come into play.  Lucas is a law and order kind of guy, while Phoebe is a pacifist.  Things get especially tricky when a gang of local smugglers uses their estate to make their smuggling runs.  As you can imagine, Phoebe and Lucas have very opposite ideas on how to deal with that particular problem.  As all this takes place over the Christmas season, so you can add in lots of parties, interfering relatives, and a great deal of gift-giving and eating!  And MUCH falling in love.

Sounds like a large time!

What made you decide to take the leap into romantic fiction?

This sounds like a smart-ass answer, but it’s just way more fun than writing non-fiction.  I’ve done both, and I truly enjoy writing fiction a lot more.

No, I’d imagine it is more fun and creative.

Does one of your books hold a special place with you?

My first one, Mastering The Marquess.  It was just a joy to write without any pressure or expectations, or even knowledge of the publishing business.  Sheer, unadulterated fun.

A character or couple?

Probably John and Bathsheba, the hero and heroine from my last book, My Favorite Countess.  They are not your typical Regency characters.  John is a crusading slum doctor, and Bathsheba is a sharp-tongued widow who never suffers fools gladly.  But together they were a wonderful couple who brought out the best—and the worst—in each other.  They were a very sexy couple, too!

I’ll bet…:)

Who’s in charge, you or the characters?

75% me, 25% my characters.  I’m a bit of a control freak that way—no flying off into the mist for me!

What’s your favorite part of writing?

Revisions.  The first draft is completed, and I can relax and have fun making it better.

Least favorite?

About half way through the first draft, when it seems like I’ll never finish the darn thing!

Is any thing special required to coax your muse?

Sleep really helps, and so does reading good books.  And silence.  My muse doesn’t like noise.

Is there a genre you’d like to explore in the future?

I dream of writing a science fiction/futuristic romance.  It’s one of my favorite genres.

Have you read anything lately that you couldn’t wait to tell others about or discuss?

A Discovery of Witches, by Deborah Harkness.  A massively good book; I’m saving the sequel for when I finish the draft of the current book I’m working on.

I’ve been on the fence about that book…maybe I’ll add it to my mountain.

What can readers look forward to from you in the near future?

I’m starting a new series with Kensington, called The Renegade Royals.  The heroes are the bastard offspring of the sons of King George III.  The first work in the series, a novella, will be released in December of 2013.  Immediately following that will be the back to back releases of the first two books.  Book One is the story of the illegitimate son of the Prince Regent, and that’s the one I’m working on now.

How cool…the bastard sons are always more interesting to me.

Some of your readers might also know that I write contemporary romance and romantic suspense with my husband, under the pen name of VK Sykes.  We have a new book in our current series coming out in October.  It’s called Bigger Than Beckham, and it’s really a fun, sexy sports romance.

Thanks for taking the time to stop by, Vanessa.  Always enjoy your visits.

Vanessa is generously offering two (2) giveaways!  One lucky commenter will win a copy of  MY FAVORITE COUNTESS and another will win a download of  her VK Sykes book FASTBALL!  Meaningful comments only.  Giveaway ends on Sept. 28th @12 a.m. est.  Winners will be announced shortly thereafter.  Good luck y’all! 



When Major Lucas Stanton inherited his earldom, he never dreamed his property would include the previous earl’s granddaughter. Phoebe Linville is a sparkling American beauty, yes, but with a talent for getting into trouble. Witness the compromising position that forced them into wedlock. Whisked away to Mistletoe Manor, his country estate, it isn’t long before she is challenging his rules—and surprising him in and out of bed…

Phoebe has no intention of bowing to Lucas’s stubbornness even though he offers all that she wants. His kisses and unexpected warmth are enticing, but Phoebe is determined to show the Earl of Merritt what real love is all about. And if that takes twelve nights of delicious seduction by a roaring fire, she’s more than willing to reveal her gifts very slowly…

Amazon  Barnes & Noble  Books A Million






Vanessa Kelly was named by Booklist, the review journal of the American Library Association, as one of the “New Stars of Historical Romance.”  Her Regency-set historical romances have been nominated for numerous awards, and her second book, Sex and The Single Earl, won the prestigious Maggie Medallion for Best Historical Romance.  You can find her on the web at www.vanessakellyauthor.com



Vanessa’s Blog



The Phantom of the Opera is there!

Can you tell I’m channeling Andrew Lloyd Webber? I am. Why? I write for many publishing houses, both as Wendi Zwaduk and my pen name Megan Slayer. One of the perks of writing for many houses is getting opportunities to do new things. Total-E-Bound contacted me to take part in the Clandestine Classics line of books.  But which book to choose! I mean, there are a lot of cool classics to select from. I chose The Phantom of the Opera. I’m glad I did.

Why Phantom? I grew up with the whole Andrew Lloyd Weber phenomenon. Phantom on Broadway was/is BIG. All through school we practiced the music for band productions. We read through the play for speech and theatre classes. Oh, and we read the actual text for English Lit. There wasn’t much getting away from it.

I wanted to be a part of the romance of the story. Who doesn’t see the play and wonder exactly what happened down beneath the Opera House? In my head, I didn’t just see Phantom and Christine singing duets. I saw them getting down to business. When Raoul follows Christine out to the grave yard at the Sunset Inn, did they have a heated session afterwards? I wanted to know. I’m that person who wants to throw the bedroom door open and let the reader know who did what with whom. Yep, that’s me. I tried to write sweet and the characters didn’t want to play that way. Who am I to argue with them?

So in the midst of all the romance, there’s a lot of heat. I wanted to bring that to the forefront and I think I did pretty well. Not all readers will appreciate the added sex. “Don’t meddle in the classics, they are classics for a reason,” is a very good argument. I meddled, I did, but I didn’t actually change the text. What Leroux wrote is there. My words were woven in to his.

All in all, I’m glad I got to be a part of the Phantom phenomenon. The story is striking and the characters beg to be let loose. I hope the passion I felt when writing the additions shines through for the reader. Maybe a little of the zeal in the music will show up and engage the readers. What do you think? Great idea? Want to read it? Can’t wait to get your hands on it? I’d love to know.


The Classics Exposed…

A chance sighting at the Opera, fated love, and three lives in turmoil.

One man pledges to own her, while another wants her heart. The Opera sets the stage for romance and intrigue. In the catacombs below the building lives a man rife with sorrow and passion. The Phantom. But he’s not content to live alone. He wants to possess the one woman who can set him free.

His Christine.

Viscount Raoul de Chagny doesn’t believe the rumours of a Ghost living below the Opera. He only has eyes for Christine, his childhood friend and first love. Together they embark on a sensual journey of discovery and fiery desire.

But she can only have one man. Will love raise her up or tear their world apart?



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, Ohio farmland, 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, Decadent Publishing 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!
Connect with Wendi:

Marva Dale, DEATH OF A FLAPPER and Working Angles

To Angle or not to Angle:  That is the Angle!

Debra McReynolds, writing as mystery author Marva Dale

“Death of a Flapper” is the first in the “Death by the Decade” Series through Oak Tree Press.

 Once in awhile I’m asked by interviewers the one question I hesitate to answer:  How I came up with the “Death by the Decade” series.  I came up with the series in order to have an angle or “a leg up” so to speak when I queried agents and publishers.  In today’s mass media empire most writers get lost in the shuffle.  It has nothing to do with talent, but with marketing—at least in my opinion. Agents, editors and publishers want something that stands out from the norm, something they can market and make big bucks on, something unique and exciting that just might be today’s trendy, new sensation.  Dan Brown has angels and demons, Stephanie Meyers has teenage vampires and werewolves, and don’t even get me started on Harry Potter!  But since I’m not really into the sci-fi angle, I wanted to give my writing a unique twist.  I began with writing a mystery novel set in each decade, beginning with the 1920s.  This idea came to me after much soul searching.  One day that little proverbial light bulb blinked furtively over my head and voila!—the mystery series was born.

I suppose I’ve been influenced by other writers, in particular Sue Grafton and her series featuring female P.I. Kinsey Milhone.  Her series revolves around the alphabet, “A is for Alibi”, “B is for Burglar”, etc.  Once I was introduced to Kinsey in Ms. Grafton’s first volume, I wanted to read more, thus the “keep them coming back” angle certainly had me hooked.  At one time I worked as a public relations agent and I thought I had a fairly good grasp on marketing.  But today, marketing means “hype” and a lot of it.  Sometimes it also includes the outrageous in order to capture the public’s attention.  Well, I’m not into hype or outrageous.  I just want to write a decent mystery novel that will appeal to readers.  That means developing a storyline and a mystery (the core element), as well as fleshing out the characters involved.   Simple, right?  Well, maybe twenty years ago.  Today we have to have angles in order to spark a glimmer of interest and then wow the public with literary bells and whistles.

I’ve had the pleasure of communicating with up-and-coming writers.  They inevitably ask me about the publishing process and how to get started.  I believe it’s a combination of things, maybe sixty percent good writing, thirty percent marketing, and ten percent luck   Then, if your work attracts enough attention to earn a publishing contract, chances are you’re going to be your own press agent even before your literary baby is physically in your hands.   Smaller publishing houses simply can’t afford to employ expensive marketing people to do the work for you.  So, gone, too, are the reclusive writers, those who give themselves an air of mystery by shunning publicity.

 I’m a shy person by nature and I hate to toot my own horn.  It’s by sheer professional necessity that I market my work on a continuous basis.  Plus, I’m always on the lookout for new promotional angles.  Sometimes that means having to spend a little money to make money.  I urge all new writers to begin a slush fund for future marketing endeavors, even if it means putting a dollar in the kitty once a week.  Chances are very slim that you’ll be the next Stephen King and amass a small fortune from sales of your books, and do so overnight. (Actually it took Mr. King years to get where he is today.)  Most of the time it’s a “break even” proposition until you establish yourself in the literary world.  Of course, good writing and a new approach to a story always helps.  There are many ways to kill off your characters in a mystery, but to do so in a creative (and still believable) way is what catches the eye and sparks the imagination.

Well, I could go on and on about the pitfalls and successes of being a writer.  Suffice to say, I love to write and I certainly appreciate those who read my work while, hopefully, enjoying what they read.  I’ve always wanted to write, but I never had the time until I finally retired six years ago. In “Death of a Flapper,” I certainly had fun bringing to life Carney Brogan, the intrepid, novice private detective in 1920s Tin Pan Alley, New York.  He certainly earns his dollar retainer while searching for a missing flapper.  Arabella is the ultimate party girl who loves life, champagne and good jewelry, and not necessarily in that order.  As Carney searches for her, he meets an assortment of characters, from a Fifth Avenue art dealer to a homeless jazz musician down in the Bowery.  I also added a love interest for Carney by the name of Harriet who competes with his infatuation for the beautiful missing flapper. 

My next novel in the series is set in the 1930s.  “Fatal Follies” takes in account the Great Depression and the current issues of the day.  My main characters are burlesque entertainers, Suzu and Violet, who travel together as the tap-dancing duo the Daring Darlings.  When Suzu accidentally witnesses a murder on a train, she sets in motion the storyline, and one that involves Suzu and Violet as targets of a homicidal maniac.

Of course, the “Death by the Decade” series gives me the opportunity to delve into history, from clothing styles to the kind of foods in vogue at the time.   (Did you know that Kit Kat bars were introduced in 1932?  Or that a 1931 Auburn convertible cost $1,145?)  I enjoy the research as much as I do writing the story.  Just remember to get your facts straight.  There’s nothing more disappointing than an author who takes historical license only because he or she is too lazy to check on facts.  I have a favorite Southwest author whom I won’t name, but at least two of his books have errors that could have been checked and verified by a simple search on the Internet.  With the trillions of information zinging around the web, there’s no excuse for a lack of accuracy.  (I even went so far as to pencil in the correct information in the library book I checked out.  Just don’t tell the head librarian, okay?)

A quick note:  I’m always happy to hear from new and seasoned writers. You can reach me at merrellspassion@aol.com. (The Merrell comes from my alter-ego pen name, Deborah Merrell, the author of sexy ebook romances.)  For more information about me and my work to date, check out my website.  “Death of a Flapper” is available at amazon. and  B&N.  I want to thank Sunny and Billie at Oak Tree Press who liked my angle and gave me the opportunity.  And last but not least, thanks to Ivy with Manic Readers for letting me blog on!

Marva & DEATH OF A FLAPPER on Goodreads.

Thank you for joining us, Marva.  I don’t know about y’all but DEATH OF A FLAPPER sounds pretty interesting to me!

Cleaning out my bookcases giveaway with Ivy

I’ve been going through my shelves for a while now.  There was a massive purge about a month ago.  I gave close to 200 books to the Salvation Army and close to 100 more to friends.  Since then I’ve been critically eyeing my shelves on a weekly basis.













Over years of doing this, usually centered around moving or the prospect of moving, I have only one giveaway regret.  Not bad all things considered.   My regret?  The Sonja Blue Series.   Honestly can’t remember if I gave it away or it was lost.


Presently my tastes are shifting again.  While I’m still reading romance, my eye is being drawn more to urban fantasy and mysteries.  It’ll shift again, no doubt.

Does anyone else go through these “taste changes”?

Thinking of all the book lovers  who subscribe to and visit the Manic Readers Blog I’ve held out a few for y’all.

Here’s what’s up for grabs:

Black Magic Woman ~ Christine Warren, The Other’s srs. (hc)

The Lost Wife ~ Alyson Richman (trade)

The Breaker,  The Scold’s Bridle, & The Ice House ~ Minette Walters (hc,hc, & mm)

Out of the Light and into the Shadows ~ Lori Foster anthology (mm)

Nauti Deceptions ~ Lora Leigh  (trade ARC)

Highland Legacy ~ anthology (trade)

A Highlander Christmas ~ anthology (trade)

How to Marry a Millionaire & Some Like it Lethal ~ Nancy Martin  The 1st two in the wonderful Blackbird Sisters mystery srs. (mm)

At Last ~ Jill Shalvis (mm)   You call from the store, tell your son EXACTLY where this series is on your shelves and he still tells you this one isn’t there, so you buy it AGAIN!

One Night with the Wealthy Rancher ~ Brenda Jackson signed!!!  (mm)

The Guy Next Door ~ Anthology (mm)

Last Man Standing ~ Cindy Gerard (mm)

Sins of the Past ~ Samantha Gentry (trade)

These books have been read!  With some you can tell & some you can’t.  None are in bad shape.

Think there’s something for most tastes here.  Tell me which three (3) titles appeal to you & why, please.  Winners will be randomly chosen the evening of 9-21 (after 6pm).  Limited to Canada & US  due to shipping charges & my tetiny budget, sorry.  Winners will be notified by email & announced after they’ve replied.

Good luck!

Catherine Kean, A KNIGHT’S PERSUASION and a giveaway


Have you ever met a fictional character who is so deliciously wicked, you can’t stand the thought of him or her being killed off?  That’s how I felt about Veronique Desjardin, a beautiful and ambitious courtesan I introduced to readers in my medieval romance A Knight’s Vengeance.  She was so ruthless, so determined to have her way, that I decided she deserved a place in more than one book.

A good thing, too.

When I wrote A Knight’s Vengeanceoriginally published in paperback and now available in eBookI didn’t intend for it to be the first novel in a series.  However, the more I thought about follow-on stories, the more my creative muse bombarded me with ideas.  These weren’t little suggestions of ideas, either, but exciting, rich-in-meaty-plot ways to expand upon the medieval world I’d invented.

There’s nothing more inspiring for an author than, well, inspiration.  Why not spend more time with the characters I’d grown to love when writing Vengeance?  I had a fabulous cast of secondary male characters, all gorgeous, ambitious knights who deserved to be heroes of their own books and to find their lady loves.  My award-winning Knight’s Series was born.


A Knight’s Persuasion, released days ago in eBook, is the latest installment and takes place in the fictional county of Moydenshire, England, in the early 13th century.  While it’s the fourth title in the series, it can be read as a stand-alone.  So can all of the other novels.

Twenty-year-old Edouard de Lanceau is the hero of A Knight’s Persuasion.  A trained knight who lives his life by the code of chivalry, he’s familiar to my readers as the son and heir of Lord Geoffrey de Lanceau from Vengeance.  Also returning are the ravishing but bloodthirsty Veronique (one of my favorite characters, because she’s SO evil!), and her illegitimate son, Tye.  He last appeared as a fussy toddler in A Knight’s Temptation (Book 3), but he’s now a grown warrior.  He was raised by his mother to one day kill the man she claims is Tye’s father but who refuses to accept him as his child: Geoffrey.

What binds these bitter enemies together is the heroine, Lady Juliana de Greyne.  Edouard was almost betrothed to her.  Their blossoming romance ended badly because of a foolish bet between Edouard and a friend.  Edouard soon found himself tricked into a betrothal to Juliana’s sister, even though he desired only Juliana.  Months later, while on an important mission on behalf of his father, he’s shocked to find Juliana lying in a river, unconscious from a bad head wound.

Still harboring strong feelings for her, Edouard takes her to the nearest castle where she was said to be living, so she can be tended by the healer.  Not expecting an ambush, he is overpowered and taken prisoner by Veronique and Tye.  They plan to use him to lure Geoffrey into a murderous trap.  Once his lordship is dead, they will kill Edouard and lay claim to Moydenshire.

Edouard is chained in a cold tower, with the lovely Juliana as his cellmate.  Convinced she knows something important,  which is why she was left for dead in the river, he asks Juliana to tell him what happened to her, but she can’t remember.  She can’t even recall her own name, or ever meeting him, and that terrifies her.  Fighting his love for her, Edouard tries to win her trust and help him escape—before Veronique and Tye fulfill their ambitions.

The unraveling story is packed with danger, adventure, simmering passion, and excitement—hallmarks, I am told, of my previous Knight’s Series books.  As with my other novels, I leave enough threads to weave into a fifth and final novel.  After all, bad-boy Tye does deserve his own book.  While I don’t want to reveal exactly how things end up between Edouard and Juliana, I will say that when it comes to true love, there’s no denying the seductive power of A Knight’s Persuasion.


Catherine is generously giving away 2 (two) kindle copies of A KNIGHT’S PERSUASION  to 2 (two) lucky commenters!

Giveaway ends @12 a.m. est  9-18-12 with winners announced shortly thereafter.  Good luck!


For more information on Catherine’s medieval historical romances, and to read an excerpt from A Knight’s Persuasion,

please visit her website.

You can also find Catherine on FB.

Beverley Eikli celebrates regaining book rights

It’s great to be back at Manic Readers and, what’s more, to have exciting news.


First of all, though, let me introduce myself properly. I’m an Australian romance author who writes Regencies (as Beverley Eikli) and erotic Historicals (as Beveley Oakley) for a variety of publishers. I live in a pretty country town north of Melbourne and have been married for eighteen wonderful years to a really cool Norwegian pilot whom I met around a campfire in Botswana the night before I was due to fly home to marry my boyfriend of 8 years.

It’s therefore no surprise I became a romance writer since I’ve starred in my own very happy romance. Mind you, the life of a pilot’s wife isn’t always romantic and glamorous but the upside is the adventure. Before our first daughter, now 11, was born, we lived in Namibia, Botswana, Norway and Canada (while I worked as an airborne geophysical survey operator in French Guyana and Greenland and my husband piloted the plane).

Post children, we’ve lived in Perth (Western Australia), Solomon Islands, Adelaide (South Australia), Japan and now, finally – for the last 5 years – near Melbourne.

Writing was the one constant for me though it took me 23 years to get published after writing my first book at seventeen. I do feel a little embarrassed to admit, though, that there were a few good reasons that it took me so long to achieve my dreams of holding my first printed baby.

One of these was drowning the heroine on the last page of my historical romance. Also, my story was set in the Clare Valley in South Australia. You can see I hadn’t done my homework – though, really, what do you know at seventeen? Well, enough that you certainly don’t kill off your heroine in a romance and that my market research should have made it clear you have a hard time selling books that have unpopular settings.

So now we’re in the digital age and I feel like the pilot’s wife who’s already lived half a dozen consecutive life cycles has just metamorphosed into another alternative being. One who’s learning to harness the internet to make the most of the hard work that’s gone before.

You see, I’ve just got the rights back to my first three books which were originally published by my UK publisher, in hardcover and Large Print.

I am so excited about this and so I’ve started an experiment with Kindle, Smashwords and CreateSpace.

One month ago I uploaded to Amazon Kindle and Smashwords my first Regency Romance, Lady Sarah’s Redemption. After going through the proofs my original publisher had approved I found there was nothing to change, and assumed this would be the case with my two subsequent books. I also wanted to make Lady Sarah’s Redemption available through as many channels as possible.

My second book – Lady Farquhar’s Butterfly  – is already available as an e-book on Amazon through my publisher, Robert Hale, so I could only make changes to it in paperback form. Once again, after going through it with a fine toothcomb, I ultimately made no changes and I used CreateSpace, which did a great job, for the paperback version. The postage of the books from the US to Australia was going to be the biggest factor when stocking up for my author talks (which I do in eighteenth century period costume) but I’m lucky. My husband flies to LA regularly and can pick up the books for me there.




 A Little Deception – was nominated Favourite Historical Romance in 2011 by ARRA (Romance Readers of Australia) however I was never entirely happy with it. I’d had to cut 15,000 words from it just before it was published and tone down the sensuality. I’d found that my books were getting progressively more sensual but this didn’t fit my publisher’s guidelines. Many of the reviews I received for A Little Deception indicated dissatisfaction at having the bedroom door slammed in the reader’s face.

So, with my rights having reverted to me, what an opportunity to be able to update the original version!

For most of the book my hero and heroine are a married couple forced together through deception, and the plot focuses on the tug-of-war between reluctant desire and mistrust – engineered by malignant forces – before the villain is unmasked and the lovers can stumble towards the truth, and each other.





Within the next couple of days it’ll be uploaded to Amazon’s Kindle Select with a beautiful new cover and a very virile hero bursting off the page, clasping to his manly breast a heroine who is no longer overshadowed by her beautiful, scheming sister-in-law. (Well, actually, the cover itself is in lovely tones of blue with a beautiful and mysterious woman wearing a masquerade mask, but you get the idea.)

I think it’s quite cool that the original hard cover version will sit on my local library shelves beside its wickeder version. Same plot but different heat level.

Anyway, I thought I’d experiment with Kindle Select which means giving them  90-day exclusivity and see how sales compare with my self-published second version of Lady Sarah’s Redemption and my publisher e-release of Lady Farquhar’s Butterfly.

Having just attended my 12th consecutive Romance Writers of Australia conference on the Gold Coast my head is buzzing with the variety of options now available to writers. So much has changed in the publishing world and I’m excited to be an author in this changing landscape.

So, this is for those wanting a taste of  A Little Deception.


A Little Deception Blurb:

A one-night charade to save the family sugar plantation wins loyal and determined Rose Chesterfield more than she bargained for – marriage to the deliciously notorious rake, Viscount Rampton. Her fears that she has unwittingly tricked him to the altar are swept away by happiness beyond her wildest dreams as she and Rampton discover a mutual desire neither had expected. 

However, Rampton’s love for his wife soon turns to fears that her trickery goes beyond leg-shackling him for life as Rose is implicated in a series of high profile jewel heists.

Is the woman he’d come to trust nothing more than a fortune hunter with a penchant for money, men and mischief? Or are there sinister forces at work trying to tear the lovers apart?


The following scene takes place as Lord Rampton cynically contemplates Rose’s inevitable demands after the two of them have been discovered in a compromising situation in his bedchamber by Rose’s brother.

‘MISS CHESTERFIELD.’ Miss Chesterfield. The name should have provoked rage; instead, Rampton was dismayed by a surge of feeling that was so far from rage as to render him no better than a drooling schoolboy when confronted with the object of his adolescent obsession.

‘Show her in,’ he said, struggling for the self-possession that had always been second nature to him and tossing aside the reading matter which had failed to engage his attention for the past hour.

So, she had come to state her terms.

Having been caught well and truly in flagrante delicto, he accepted he had no one but himself to blame. Experience with women had tuned his antennae finely when it came to sensing all manner of ruses calculated to inveigle him into matrimony. But Lady Chesterfield – Miss Chesterfield, as it turned out – had slipped entirely under his guard.

Stonily he faced the door while he waited for her to enter, the events of the past week flashing through his mind. For twenty-four hours after she’d been hauled off by her brother, Rampton had paced his study like a caged lion, fuelling his anger with the multiple lies and untruths she’d fed him as he tried to relive exactly the moment at which he should have become aware of her deception. Any half-intelligent man would have sensed that not all was as it seemed at the very outset, he told himself.

Cynically, he had waited for Miss Chesterfield to call and negotiate the terms of his matrimonial incarceration. He had practised all manner of snide and ironic responses, while his anticipation at seeing her again had grown steadily more unbearable.

He wanted only to tell her what he thought of her.

So he assumed.

But she had not come, and that had been worse.

After three days he’d snapped. Arriving unannounced, he had confronted a pale and patently uncomfortable Sir Charles in his study and stonily dictated the terms of a marriage contract. He was a man of honour and he had compromised a lady. She was the clear victor in their final round; she had more than just pinked him. Now he must pay the price.

Rampton had been prepared for a rambling defence from Sir Charles of his sister’s behaviour. And, if Sir Charles were in a robust mood, perhaps a healthy lashing of recrimination for Rampton.

But when the young baronet said only that his sister did not wish to marry him Rampton was at last moved to anger.

‘Doing it too brown, sir!’ he declared. ‘She engineered that little scene so that I’d have no choice but to suffer her joy as she leg-shackled me on her triumphant progress towards the altar!’

Sir Charles, looking white around the gills, concurred miserably, ‘I know, I know. But she’s made me tell you, expressly, my lord, that she has no intention of holding you to marriage. That, in fact, she does not desire it.’

‘Does not desire it?’

He could not believe it. It was all part of the charade. There was a trick involved somewhere, though right now he could not see it.

Not want to marry him?

Why, every unmarried female participating in the social whirligig was there because she wanted to get married and most of them saw waltzing off with him as the ultimate feather in their caps.

Not want to marry him? When she’d gone to such pains to ensure him?

The very notion was preposterous.

He would not believe it.


Thanks so much for having me, Ivy. I look forward to dropping by next month. 🙂

Thank you for taking the time to drop by, Beverley.  Isn’t it obvious that Homer just adores Beverley?

Visit Beverley

Beverley on Amazon



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