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Maire Claremont interview with LADY IN RED giveaway

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

Thank YOU for having me. I love meeting new readers.

Please tell us about the novels in your Mad Passions series, The Dark Lady and Lady in Red.

The Mad Passion series explores the dark side of Victorian London, its secrets, and its dangers. Both The Dark Lady and Lady in Red feature a heroine who has been wrongfully committed to the madhouse and struggle with laudanum addiction. Each lady must battle her way back into society and recover from their pasts. Luckily, they also get to find love along the way. While the books are connected, they also stand alone.

Why Victorian vs Regency, Georgian or any of the other periods?

That’s a great question. I adore reading books by Regency writers like Erin Knightley or Georgians by Elizabeth Hoyt. But what drew me to the Victorian period is the particular darkness and hypocrisy regarding people who aren’t empowered, specifically women. Even in the Regency and Georgian period women had a surprising amount of freedom and weren’t quite considered to be the great gate keepers of hearth, home, and morality. As a result, in the Victorian era, we see a time inEnglandwith record rates of prostitution and a simultaneous need for women to be completely pure with no signs of desire. The industrial revolution is also in full swing, abuse of power is high, and drug use is normalized and rampant. Its a fascinating period.

Why the darker side of the era?

Ohhh!!! Well, the light side is rather boring. In the Victorian period, the “light side” really was very bland. Stepping outside of convention and created upper middle class morality was met with severe repercussion. In the Regency period, people were still loads of fun. You see figures like Beau Brumell and Lord Byron who were the toasts of society for a good long time and were a bit scandalous. By the Victorian period, that’s largely gone from public view because of Victoria and Albert’s desire to reform the aristocracy. For me, there’s also something really fascinating about the damned, the lost in this period. So many people were crushed under the great wheel of the progressing empire and its ideals.

Is there a genre you’d like to try but haven’t yet? Maybe Steampunk?

I actually haven’t read any of the New Adults and I’m very curious, because supposedly they’re very dark and angsty too. I’m really intrigued by their seeming emotive quality. I love that. I love books that go emotion to the max. So, if anyone has recommendations, I’d love to try.

Who’s in control you or the characters?

How I wish it was me. My characters really do pop into my head, start talking to me, or showing me images. When they don’t communicate with me its deeply upsetting. LOL. Like, my imaginary friends WON’T play with me. I’m lucky I’m not in the Victorian times. I could have been locked up if I admitted to such a thing.

Do you have a favorite character you’ve written?

That’s SUCH a tough question. But I have to admit Lady Mary from Lady in Red has a VERY special place in my heart. She’s in The Dark Lady for a few scenes and she just was so powerful. I knew she had to have her own book and I just love how tough and determined she is.

A favorite character from another writer?

If Dageus MacKeltar from Karen Marie Moning’s The Dark Highlander was real, my husband would need to be worried.

I’m with you on Daegus…good gravy…

Do you have authors/reads to suit your moods?

Absolutely. If I need a trip to another time and a twist on Historical Fiction, I read Phillippa Gregory. If I want a laugh? I read Elizabeth Gilbert. Two of my MUST buy authors are JR Ward and Karen Marie Moning.

Is there a WIP or any news you can share with us?

The Dark Affair which features Powers, a secondary devil in Lady in Red, comes out in March and before that I’m releasing a novella, A Lady Undone which features a female character from Lady in Red and Wyndham from The Dark Lady. I adore these two and I especially feel the heroine deserves a marvelous HEA.

I’ve enjoyed your visit, Maire, and look forward to reading your Mad Passions series.

I’ve had a blast chatting. I hope you love my characters as they journey to their happy ending.

Maire is giving away a print copy, limited to U.S or Canada, or digital if the winner is international to one (1) lucky commenter.  Do you prefer your historicals to have both sides depicted, partial to rose colored glasses or like the focus to be the darker side? Giveaway ends @12am est 10-4-13 with the winner announced shortly there after. Good luck!

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The Victorian era was full of majestic beauty and scandalous secrets—a time when corsets were the least of a woman’s restrictions, and men could kill or be killed in the name of honor… ​

Lady Mary Darrel should be the envy of London. Instead, all society believes her dead. For Mary holds a secret so dangerous, her father chose to keep her locked away…and have a grave made for her near her mother’s. Driven to the edge of desperation, Mary manages to escape the asylum, only to find that her fate yet again rests in the hands of a man… ​

Edward Barrons, Duke of Fairleigh, longs for some way to escape the torment of his father’s crimes. In Mary’s warrior spirit and haunted gaze—which so mirrors his own—he finally sees his path to redemption. He will stop at nothing to keep her safe, even as she seeks revenge. But will the passion they discover in each other be enough to save them from their demons?

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2011 Golden Heart winner Máire Claremont first fell in love with Mr. Rochester, not Mr. Darcy. Drawn to his dark snark, she longed to find a tortured hero of her own… until she realized the ramifications of Mr. Rochester locking his frst wife up in his attic. Discovering the errors of her ways, Máire now looks for a real-life Darcy and creates deliciously dark heroes on the page. Oh, and she wants everyone to know her name is pronounced Moira. Her parents just had to give her an Irish Gaelic name.

BY PROXY and rafflecopter giveaway with Katy Regnery

Heart of Montana Romance  
Sometimes love finds you.  When city and country come together for a Christmastime wedding in Montana, the unexpected gift is true love.   
A HOLIDAY SURPRISE
Stubbornly small-town Jenny Lindstrom has misgivings when she promises to stand proxy in her best friend’s wedding—misgivings that are fulfilled when tall, handsome Sam Kelley walks into the courthouse an hour late. In order to keep her promise, an afternoon favor turns into a weekend of startling but undeniable attraction, threatening the well-ordered world that keeps her heart at arm’s length from any more pain.     
Sam’s plan is to fly to Livingston, Montana, take vows for his favorite cousin, and return to Chicago as quickly as possible. But his plan is turned upside-down when he must spend a weekend with Jenny in Gardiner to keep his word. He doesn’t want to fall for the prim, proper schoolteacher whose small-town life seems to him like selling out, but the more time he spends with her, the harder it is to say good-bye.    
When city and country come together for Christmas, the unexpected gift is true love.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Katy is a 2013 NECRWA First Kiss and 2013 NTRWA Great Expectations contest finalist who has always loved telling a good story and credits her mother with making funny, heartwarming tales come alive throughout her childhood. A lifelong devotee of all Romance writing, from Edwardian to present-day, it was just a matter of time before Katy tried her hand at writing a love story of her own.
Katy lives in the relative-wilds of northern Fairfield County, Connecticut where her writing room looks out at the woods, and her husband, two young children and two dogs create just enough cheerful chaos to remind her that the very best love stories of all can often be the messy or unexpected ones.
 
 
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Painting and writing with J. Annas Walker

I love watching the painting shows on PBS. While tuning in on a lazy afternoon, I was struck by something Helen Van Wyke said as she related a story to her lesson for the day. One of her students constantly asked her about the colors on his palette. Were they the right shade for what he was doing? Did they work with everything already on the canvas? Her response was, “Well, why don’t you try it out?” It occurred to her later that the man was a doctor. In his professional life, he learned everything and then went out to practice it. With art, the opposite is true, she noted. Van Wyke observed that art must be practiced, and the student learns from the doing.

Yeah, but that’s art. What does this have to do with writing? Everything. I have a very technical background. Things really are black and white. The numbers are the numbers. One goes to school, learns the rules, and then goes out into the world to practice them. Writing is an art and, like Van Wyke’s example, must be learned in the doing. It was hard for me to change my way of thinking, and, six books later, I’m still learning. The most important lesson came in making myself sit down and get started.

The first book wasn’t my best. I didn’t understand my role and responsibilities. Was it a bad book? I don’t think so. I still love the characters and their adventures. Are there things I would change? About the story? No. About the post-writing process? Yes, but I was learning a new skill set completely different from my everyday work life. If you’re just getting started as a writer, understand this. Writing the story is the easy part. The real work begins when you type the phrase “the end.”

I get asked all the time what my writing process is, as if there’s a magic formula that can be reproduced by another person. I’ll be glad to tell what I do, but the truth is simple. You have to do what works best for you. You know yourself better than anyone else in the world. Only you can set your own routine. Science is hard and factual. Writing is all about the gray areas. Find your gray area, and the things in it that work for you. That uniqueness is what will separate you from the authors publishing beside you.

I get up around 4 AM most mornings. Yep, folks, that’s early. Why? Because no one else is up, and the house is quiet. I don’t turn on music or the TV. There’s no Bluetooth stuffed in my ear. It’s just me and my trusty laptop doing battle with my character’s enemies or falling in love. I might use the notes I jotted down the day before or made on a digital voice recorder that came to me out of the blue. Notebooks are stashed all over the house. The recorder lives in my purse. But, chances are, I’m just telling the story as it unfolds in my head. It’s like watching a DVD and writing down what I see and hear. There’s no magic file cabinet filled with ideas. The characters tell the story and choose the direction. I just put it down in a tangible form. I can’t explain where it comes from or how the story put itself together. It just does. Well, that’s not an answer, you may say, but it’s the truth.

What about the rest of the day? Oh, I do the same cleaning, cooking, running errands, and looking after the family everyone else does. The difference is the jerk who cut me off in traffic is going to get his comeuppance the next time sit down to write. Maybe he was rude to the bad guy or did his little cutoff trick to an unmarked police car that creates a distraction for my heroine to escape. Hmm… Sometimes the ideas come in snippets of conversations from passersby. When you don’t know what was said before, what the conversation is about, or even who they’re talking to, in the case of a cell phone snippet, you get to make it all up. That phrase about finding so-and-so rummaging in the garage just became the mercenaries hunting for clues to the location of a missing precious stone. That drunk guy stumbling down the street with no pants might become a drugged kidnap victim who got away from his captors. The world around you is the best source of inspiration. I know you’ve said it at least once. “I couldn’t make that up, if I tried!” No, maybe not, but you can tweek it and elaborate on it.

I get asked if I use an outline. For a formal report, I always do. For fiction writing, the answer is no. I start at the beginning and let the characters tell me the story until they finish. The outline feels too rigid. If I try to force the characters to do things they don’t want, they get testy and stop talking altogether. Oh great. Writer’s block. So, I just do my best to stay out of their way and let them get on with what they do. Sometimes, they aren’t satisfied with just one story and keep talking. When that happens, a series is born.

This brings us to Sabrina and Brandon. They just weren’t satisfied with being in love at the end of Midnight’s Jewel. Naughty Sabrina has been keeping secrets, and no good ever comes from that! Now they’re off on another adventure in The Jewel of Darkness. Sabrina sparked Death’s interest in her efforts to escape her past and to forge a new future for herself. What does he want, pray tell? Oh, nothing much, just to claim her, body and soul. As you might imagine, Brandon’s not too happy about the prospect. Come along on their next adventure, and don’t forget to read Midnight’s Jewel first!

Happy Reading~ J. Annas Walker

THE JEWEL OF DARKESS

Brandon and Sabrina Thorpe have enjoyed six months of wedded bliss, but Sabrina’s been keeping a secret. Her transformation into a vampire created a magical disturbance in the Underworld. Now, Death is coming for what’s his.

But is Death the only thing stalking Sabrina? Brandon and Hadrian, Sabrina’s father, bring in Delilah, a demon, to act as detective and magical keeper. But Sabrina’s bloodlines are unique and magic responds to her in unpredictable ways. Has Brandon’s efforts to keep her safe just made her a bigger, more valuable target? Is she even a vampire at all?

To what depths will Sabrina have to go to satisfy Death’s demands? Can she do it using her own powers? Can Brandon find a way to keep the Underworld from claiming Sabrina for its own? Can they even survive, if he doesn’t? What if Death isn’t the only one looking to do her harm? In the darkness, can a single jewel save them all?

Adult Content Warning: This erotic romance has been rated scorching by the publisher. It contains material deemed offensive to some readers with graphic sex leaving little to nothing to the imagination. Not suitable for underage readers.

The Lost Alchemist    Scion’s Freedom   Scion’s Avalon    The Princess’s Consort -Coming November 2012

Midnight’s Jewel   The Jewel of Darkness    Water’s Lover

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THE SEDUCTION OF LADY PHOEBE with giveaway

Marcus pulled out his pocket watch and checked the time. Damn. Only two o’clock. He wasn’t due to pick Phoebe up for their ride in the Park for another three hours. He thought about going to his father’s study, but he’d finished the last of the accounts earlier. He needed to get out of the house. A few minutes later he was headed to 32 Ludgate Hill. He hadn’t visited Rundell and Bridge’s since he’d been back in England. Perhaps he’d find something appropriate for Phoebe.

As he passed Old Bailey Street, colorful looking couple came into view. When they drew closer, Marcus blinked. The man wore lavender pantaloons and a purple coat.

The female on his arm, had on a bright blue silk gown, cut so low most of her breasts were exposed. Her large bonnet was covered with flowers and birds. Good God. It was Mr. Jonathan Ridley. Unfortunately there was no hope of avoiding him. Marcus had run into the man on Bond Street one day soon after his return.

“I say, Lord Marcus, what a pleasure running into you!” Ridley smiled and turned to the woman, obviously his current lady bird. “M’dear, you remember Lord Marcus.”

The female’s painted lips pursed as her gaze raked him from head to feet, pausing at his groin. He couldn’t imagine that he’d once found Lizzie Cox attractive.

She curtseyed. When she glanced up, he knew she’d calculated everything he wore to the last penny. “Haven’t you grown into a fine figure of a man? Why don’t you come with us, my lord? We’re going to a little party. Just the kind you like.”

Used to like. All that was in the past now and had been for eight years.

She leaned closer to him, the smell of gin almost made him gag. “You remember Moll, she’s been a bit lonely lately. I’m sure she’d like to see you again.”

Marcus had no doubt she’d been lonely for his purse. She must be in between protectors. He took in Ridley’s complexion, pasty and soft, as if he’d rarely saw the sun and didn’t know the meaning of work. The man was only a year or two older than Marcus. Is that what he would have become if he hadn’t been sent to the West Indies? What an escape he’d made.

He raised his quizzing glass focusing it on Ridley. “Still visiting the Dead Man in Whitecastle I see.”

The smile on the man’s face faded. “Nothing wrong with that. Best blue ruin around.”

Marcus inclined his head. “You must excuse me. I have business to attend to.”

When Lizzy placed her hand on his arm, he shook it off.

Her eyes widened. “It’s true then, what Rid told me about you reforming?” She shook her head. “I never would have believed it.”

“Good day, Ridley, Miss Cox.” Marcus continued to the jeweler’s. It was time he thanked his father. The old man wouldn’t know what to make of that.

 

Ella is offering a digital copy of THE SEDUCTION OF LADY PHOEBE to one (1) lucky commenter.  Do you have a POV preference or do you like to see all sides?  Giveaway ends @12am est 9-30-13 with the winner announced shortly thereafter.  Good Luck!

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JAKE SNOW and giveaway with Elodie Parkes

Elodie Parkes is a British author writing romance, erotic, contemporary, and often with a twist of mystery, paranormal or suspense. Her books are always steamy, cool stories and hot love scenes.

Elodie lives in Canterbury with her two dogs. She works in an antique shop by day and writes at night, loving the cloak of silent, darkness that descends on the rural countryside around her home.

Elodie writes for, Hot Ink Press, Moon Rose Publishing, Eternal Press, and Evernight

She has also released titles as an individual indie author.

Find Elodie online: Blog  Tumblr  Facebook  Twitter  Google +  Pinterest  YouTube..Amazon USA..Amazon UK..Smashwords.. KOBO..SONY Barnes and Noble..AllRe..Manic Readers

Today Elodie is talking about her new romantic mystery release, Jake Snow.

The book is the story of Bethany Snow’s brother. Bethany is the leading female character in my erotic romance, ‘The Last Time’. People who read the book early in its release always wanted to know more about Jake. I had his story in my head and so here it is.

‘The Last Time’ takes place on a movie location and that’s where Jake and Bethany, who are private investigators are sent by their agency to deal with hate mail being sent to a movie star there. It’s two years since his sister got married and Jake has been working cases alone. He’s tired and hoping to find love too when we meet him in this book. This time the story takes place in the fashion world and Jake gets caught up in the strange happenings in an atelier.

The idea for the movie location book came to me when I was invited to watch a shoot by an indie film maker. The idea for the high fashion setting for this book was seeded about the same time when I went to watch a fashion show with friends. I was on holiday overseas, with them. We had attended a dance theatre, and then later in the week a fashion show. I knew immediately that I would write a story about the world of fashion. The idea of placing Jake Snow in this world came after I had written, The Last Time.

A new romantic mystery from Amazon best-selling author, Elodie Parkes.

                                                          Jake Snow

Private detective, Jake Snow, has grown tired of working alone since his sister Bethany married, and stopped working on field cases with him. He’s chosen less high-powered cases as he decides against teaming with another partner from the Black Agency. Gradually Jake realizes he wants the kind of love his sister found, and a different job…

When he’s sent on what he thinks is a simple surveillance assignment, just before he’s due to take his requested extended leave, he finds a tangled web of lies, and a fashion designer in trouble…

The question is will he also find love?

With steamy love scenes and a twist of fun, this book is 18+

Today the main characters Pixie and Jake are visiting the blog.

Pixie, would you like to tell the readers about how you and Jake met?  

Pixie: I think it might be a huge spoiler. Let’s just say it was unexpected and I had actually seen Jake around before we really met. What do you think, Jake?

Jake: I agree it will be a spoiler. I can say that I saw Pixie in the atelier and hoped I’d meet her face to face somehow. I liked her as soon as I saw her. I didn’t think she was interested in me at first.

Pixie: But that’s so not the case. I took one look at him as he was in the atelier foyer and thought, oh my god he’s yummy…

Jake: Did you? You’ve never put it quite like that.

He leans across and kisses Pixie, then keeps hold of her hand.

Pixie, Can you describe when you first knew you were in love with Jake?

Pixie: That would be the first time we made love. It was sex that turned into making love, for me any way.

Jake: I didn’t want to admit it…I knew I felt something, but there I was with the dilemma of my work and stuff, but suddenly I wanted her, and that was it…she was going to be mine…I’m lucky she loved me back huh?

What’s one thing you might have changed about your story?

Pixie: Not a thing. Although I’ve never been happy with my name, and that I’m not very tall.

Jake: I could have handled the investigation a little differently, but I was over my job in general and the whole fashion design thing was a little alien to me, even so, I’m happy with the ending.

Jake, tell us something about Pixie, how would you describe her in a few words?  

Jake: She’s pretty, slender, intelligent. I think she’s kind and generous, and she treats people really well. She’s brave too. She doesn’t mind heights. Starts to laugh and hugs Pixie.

Pixie, describe Jake in a few words.

Very sexy, giving, clever, thoughtful, a great lover, knows what he wants or needs to do and goes for it.

How about you both choose your favorite scene from the book.

Pixie: It has to be a love scene for me, what about you Jake?

Jake: I’d like it to be a scene from the time we first had dinner together. When I saw you in that black dress you wore, it nearly stopped my heart. See there you go I was in love with you right from the start…

Read their chosen snippet,  

Pixie opened her front door to him dressed in what looked like a black slip. He gazed at her appreciatively. Her breasts were visible at the top of the bodice swelling in lovely rounds. Her hair was down around her shoulders. Jake was so tempted to take a handful, and pull her towards him to kiss her, that he put his hands behind his back. He took a deep breath as he looked straight into her blue eyes made up with some smoky makeup he knew was probably kohl if she was anything like his sister.

Pixie was looking at him with what he felt sure was lust. She leaned forward and put her arms around his waist. “You look great, that blue shirt almost matches the blue of your eyes. It’s good to see you.” She put her face up to be kissed. He felt mesmerized as he looked at her mouth until he was kissing her lingeringly. He forgot about having his hands behind his back and took handfuls of her hair to hold her for his kiss.

 

COPYRIGHT ELODIE PARKES 2013

*****

JAKE SNOW on Amazon

Elodie is giving away a $10 or £10 Amazon gift voucher to celebrate the release of ‘Jake Snow’. Enter via the rafflecopter with a comment on the blog.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Jake Snow is available to review from Manic Readers just as all Elodie’s books are.

Collette Cameron discusses distractions and writers with giveaway

Distractions-The Bane of Every Writer? Or Is It Just Me?

I like to try to tell myself that I’m a disciplined writer. I get that daily word count in no matter what. My readers are waiting. I can’t disappoint them. Nothing sidetracks me from my focus until the writing is done

Yeah, right. In my fantasy writing utopia.

I can place a bit of blame on blog posts and book reviews I’ve committed to write, but truthfully,  it’s the other distractions that  suck my writing schedule into the vortex of wasted time. Twitter, Facebook, and responding to blog comments can gobble up half an hour before I realize it.

Then the dogs require my attention; there’s an insurance form that needs completing—oh, look at that squirrel hanging upside down from the feeder?

Gotta run and get the camera to take a picture of Ayva (my mini doxie) with her nose stuck in her plastic hamburger.

I grab the camera, and my gaze falls on my den desk. Whoops, forgot to send the nephew his graduation card and check.  So I quickly do that, and while I’m at it, pay a bill or two.  By that time, Ayva’s got the hamburger off her snout, but Lina (hubby’s  lab pup) is running across the backyard with my rubber boot in her mouth.  I charge out the door and grab it from her.

Look at that, the bird feeders are empty. Naturally, I have to fill them. I might as well sweep the patio and porch while I’m at it.  Are those potted herbs a bit dry? Of course they are. I water them.  Hubby forgot to put the lawn and patio chairs and benches back where they belong after mowing. I couldn’t possibly write knowing they aren’t in their proper places.

I finally get back into the house and before dutifully heading to my writing room, put a load of clothes into the dryer and another into the washer.  I notice a cobweb hanging from the cupboard above the dryer; cobweb hunting commences. After an embarrassingly successful venture, I decide to pour a cup of coffee to take upstairs with me. I’m not going to let another thing keep me from my goal of 1000 words today! Did I mention my original goal was between 3000 and 4000 words?

I open the fridge to get some crème brulee creamer.  Drat.  Something dripped on one of the shelves.

And so it goes.

It’s been suggested that perhaps I’m a bit obsessive compulsive and not just a little ADD. I can’t imagine why anyone would suggest such a thing.

The book will get done. . . and so will a myriad of other things.

Collette is giving away a digital copy of THE VISCOUNTS VOW to one (1) lucky commenter.  What, if anything, is it almost impossible to distract you from? Giveaway ends @12am est 9-27-13 with the winner announced shortly thereafter.  Good luck!

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Introducing Victoria Howard

Thank you for taking the time to visit, Victoria.

I’ve always wanted to go to Scotland.  What was it like living in a croft and working for the local laird?

Rural Scotland is very beautiful.  The landscape is stunning, particularly on the west coast.  I lived six miles outside a small village in the north-east corner of Scotland, approximately halfway between Aberdeen and Inverness.  The village is on the Whisky Trail, and some of the most famous distilleries, such as Glen Fiddich, Glen Livet, Cardhu, are located within a short distance.

While the village was only 6 miles away, snow would regularly block the narrow track to my house in the middle of winter.  When that happened, my neighbour would come along with his tractor and clear the snow so that I could slither and slide my car down to the road in order to go shopping!

I worked part time for one of the local estate owners.  He owned two estates; one in the north-east of Scotland and an island off the west coast.  He is colourful and an eccentric character, having led a full and varied life. I managed the estate office and holiday cottage letting business.  I also visited his island, which is how I found out that I don’t particularly like small boats and rough seas! 

You design knitwear?  What’s that like and can it be converted to crochet?

Yes, I do. I have an electronic knitting machine, which allows me to knit repeat patterns 60 stitches wide by 100 rows deep.  I use 4ply Shetland wool, in soft muted shades, and my patterns are based on traditional Celtic knotwork. Unfortunately, they wouldn’t transfer to crochet. 

How did your work managing a company involved in offshore oil, and being a medical secretary prepare you for writing?

I’m very good at spelling and deciphering medical terminology, so I am an asset to any quiz team!  Seriously, a medical secretary needs to have discipline, as does someone who manages their own business. I did that while my husband worked offshore for anything up to 4 months at a time. 

Writing can be a lonely occupation.  It requires discipline to shut yourself away from the world and put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard for hours on end.  You need to live in the make-believe world of your book, be totally immersed in it, until you type the final words – The End. 

Did you always want to be a writer?

Actually, no. When I was about 8 or 9 I wanted to be a flight attendant.  However, back then, British Airways had a minimum height requirement in addition to a second language.  I’m only 5ft 2” and my knowledge of French and Spanish is limited to ‘hello’ and ‘may I have a cup of coffee?’   

By the time I was fifteen, I thought about becoming a dietician, but discovered I preferred baking and eating cakes to counting calories.  So another change of direction was required and I eventually earned a place at teacher training college.  However, I discovered that there were few vacancies in the subject I planned, so I went to college and graduated with a Medical Secretarial Diploma. 

Do you want to write or do you have to write?

I have to write, and try to do so each day. An idea for a story pops into my head and I can’t rest until I’ve put it on paper.  

Does Rosie, your Border collie, help you write?

Unfortunately, her training isn’t that advanced, and her paws are a little too large to use my keyboard!  She does like to lie in the doorway of my office.  I think it’s her way of reminding me that I shouldn’t spend all day sat at my desk.  

Did you have fun doing the writing seminar with Milly Johnson?  She looks like she’s a mess (in the Southern sense of the word…fun, a hoot to be around etc. @ least in my corner of Ga.)

I must admit, I’ve never heard ‘mess’ being used in that context.  Milly is one of those fortunate people who are spontaneously funny.  She is quick witted and a very talented writer.  We approach writing in different ways, so we complimented each other and gave attendees two different viewpoints.  The local press covered the event and the feedback we received was positive.

Do you host many seminars?

I’ve done a number of talks and presentations on different aspects of writing, such as ‘I need a hero – why the male protagonist is the key to the story;’ ‘Tension and how to develop it in your novel,’ to audiences of varying numbers. 

Any with other authors?

Milly is the only other author I’ve given a seminar with.  We both live in Barnsley, so it seemed a good idea to hold a joint seminar.

Please tell us a bit about your previous books, Ring of Lies, Three Weeks Last Spring, The House on the Shore and your short story, A Little Protection. 

My books all follow a simple, yet profound theme. My female protagonists all leave the safety of their backyards to discover their own personal truth.  How many people every do that?  Most of us never have the inner strength, my heroines do. 

Here is an example from Ring of Lies

When Grace Elliott ‘s husband, Daniel, dies in a car accident one rainy night, she is overcome with grief…and panic.  She soon discovers Daniel kept secrets:  an alias, a list of numbers, and a mysterious beach house in Florida. 

Swallowing her fear, she flies to Miami.  With little to go on and danger at every turn, Grace must depend on Jack West, an FBI agent, to help her navigate the criminal world of south Florida, and find the truth behind the Ring of Lies. 

In The House on the Shore I used my knowledge of Scotland for the setting and plot. 

Anna MacDonald inherits her grandmother’s croft on the west coast, where she meets Luke Tallantyre, a renowned Cape Cod artist. Anna resents the cranky American’s intrusion into her seemingly idyllic life. Luke thinks she’s an ill-mannered hermit.  But an unseen assassin is after one of them.  So they join forces and embark on an adventure neither ever imagined…including a chance at true love.

Three Weeks Last Spring was my first book.  I’d returned from a trip to Friday Harbor and decided it was the perfect setting for an ecological suspense.

For Skye Dunbar, Friday Harbor is a place where she can overcome the pain of a broken heart and put her life back together. When dead fish start washing up on the island’s beaches her landlord, Jedediah Walker suspects that Skye is involved in dumping chemicals in Puget Sound. Necessity throws them together as they struggle to find who is responsible. 

A Little Protection is a short story set in Rome.  Handsome Matt Hemmings, meets scientist, Alexa McAllistair, at a conference on nuclear energy, and against his professional judgment, he is smitten. When protesters storm the conference, Alexa is trapped and Matt’s quick thinking saves her life.  Once back in London, Alexa learns to her horror that was employed as her bodyguard.  Can he convince her that the love he feels is real?

Your books all seem to have a suspenseful edge.  Is this your favorite genre?

Yes it is.  I write what I like to read. I want my stories to have depth; to be more than boy meets girl romances.  I have varied interests and might read something in a newspaper or hear something on the news and think that would make a good story. 

Is there another genre you’d like to try your hand at?

I’d like to write crime novels.  While I research such details as mountain rescues, and money laundering to ensure my books are accurate, a much wider knowledge base of police procedure, forensics would be required.  I’ve not ruled the possibility out, but for the moment, I’m quite happy writing suspense novels. 

How did it feel to have The House on the Shore be a contender for the 2009 Joan Hessayon Award and Three Weeks Last Spring nominated for a Pushcart Prize?

I was delighted. I felt recognized –that all the hours spent in front of a computer, pouring out words, telling a story, were worthwhile. 

Where have your travels taken you? Is there somewhere you haven’t been that you’d like to go?

I’ve travelled extensively in the USA, both east and west coasts, Europe and Australia.  I’ve always wanted to visit Iceland and New Zealand.  I prefer landscapes to cities, although love visiting San Francisco, Seattle and Boston.

Describe your perfect day?

After an early morning walk with Rosie, I settle down at my desk to spend a few hours visiting my characters and a chance to rescue them from whatever danger I’ve placed them in.  Of course, it rarely works out that way.  There are domestic chores to be done, gardening, and cooking.

Of your characters, do you have a favorite?

I would have to say Jack West, in Ring of Lies.  He is a tough FBI agent, who is willing to lay down his life to protect those he loves. He also has a sensitive side and when the reader first meets him, he is caring for his baby daughter.

Does your muse require anything special?

It prefers to work in silence, with regular breaks for cups of tea, and games of fetch with Rosie.  Some authors like to write to background music, I find that a distraction. 

Do you have a WIP you can share with us?

I have two ideas roughly plotted out at present; one set in Derbyshire and the other set in Scotland.  I’ve written a few chapters of each in an attempt to decide which one to go with.  At the moment, Scotland is winning.  This suspense novel and involves a professional photographer who is dealing with loss, but who is about to enter the fight of her life. 

Do you have a favorite author of genre to read?

I try not to read while I’m working on a novel.  But when I’m on vacation I tend to read voraciously. Thrillers, crime and legal novels take up most of the space on my Kindle.  I’m not a great reader of non-fiction.

Movie and/or TV Show.

I don’t watch that much TV.  I do like a good movie and the occasional period drama, such as Downton Abbey.

Have you read anything you’d highly recommend?

If your readers enjoy chick-lit, then Milly Johnson’s latest novel, ‘It’s Raining Men’ is well worth a read.  I also enjoyed Liz Fenwick’s ‘Cornish Affair.’ Also anything by Katie Fforde, Linda Fairtstein and James Cobb.

It’s Raining Men sounds like a fun read….

Thanks for taking the time to visit Victoria.  I’ve enjoyed it.

Thank you, Ivy.  It’s been a pleasure to to chat to members of Manic Readers.

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Cleaning Not Just Good for the Soul Good for the Muses according to Lila Munro

Many of my readers already know I’m a military wife and after being stationed in North Carolina for some years and staying deployed for almost as many years, my husband received orders a few months back and this summer we made the move from the east coast to the west. He’s officially working at a reserve center in downtown Portland, Oregon, but we’ve made our new temporary home in Vancouver, Washington just across the Columbia River (which boasts some pretty fine salmon fishing—hubby brought home a 20 pounder recently. Yummy!).

Somewhere between Marinetown, USA and the City of Roses, we were on the road for several days, my muses decided they hated the nomadic life and ran for the hills, or some mountains or other as we crossed several ranges on our trek. Then it was several more days before we located a house suitable and within our rent budget and finally official moving in day arrived. And much to my southern heart’s dismay, we discovered several of our most prized possessions had been literally destroyed in transit. One such item being my beloved desk. To say I was steamed is an understatement.

A desk to a writer is a very personal piece of furniture. It must be the appropriate height, the right width, have the correct amount of drawer space and an accessible to her stature keyboard tray. My desk had been perfect on all counts and it now lay in pieces in my garage awaiting review from the blessed insurance adjustor. (I made several frowny faces during this process, needless to say.)

Initially I set up shop on my husband’s manly desk only to find it was neither writer friendly nor short, squatty female friendly and my back was soon killing me. I moved to the kitchen table where I sat with a cramp in my neck for weeks on end waiting on the insurance adjustor and not doing a lick of writing because this turn of events further frightened my muses who in short order told me to kiss their tiny hinies. Two weeks ago, a miraculous thing occurred—the insurance check showed up! And guess what? I still hadn’t found a desk to suite my needs. I’d touched, sat at, and tested so many I think the sales clerks at several stores in the area were sick of seeing me (actually that’s an understatement, I’m pretty sure a few of them learned my vehicle and when they saw it pulling in their lot they hid in the back).

Tired, frustrated, and near the line of giving up, curling into a ball, and pulling my lips—I found my desk! Literally. I mean I found a near replica of the desk which had been destroyed in transit. I rejoiced! I danced! I dragged it home and my husband, much to his credit, spent an entire afternoon assembling it with me over his shoulder with the directions the entire way. God bless the man, it must be love or else he’d have called the lawyers by now.

The next day I spent the day cleaning my office. I put all my things in the right drawers, found my water sprite and set her in the exact spot that’s always been hers, I bought a new wax tart warmer and filled it with my favorite scent—autumn wreath, and my rhinoceros is now once again sitting on the top edge of my gigantic monitor (thank God! I have it back, my eyes were about ready to tell me to kiss their hind-end, too).

I sat down…the muses were still skeptical.

Great!

I tapped my fingers, pulled my hair, and called my graphics guy.

New house, new state…I needed new everything. After redesigning my website and dragging out an old manuscript to “freshen up” and start the girls out slow, I am happy to say we’ve been pounding out words since.

Yes, moving is rough, but cleaning is good for the soul—and the muses!

Please come by and check out my newly designed website HERE where you can earmark my blog and find all my current releases, the most recent of which is Steele Clips: A Compromising Position which debuted September 17 and is available at Amazon and ARe.

Thanks for sharing a part of your day with me!

Lila Munro

The Origins of THE LOTUS PALACE and giveaway with Jeannie Lin


THE LOTUS PALACE is my fifth book and the start of a new historical romance and mystery series set in the Tang Dynasty. But how did the setting evolve?

In my novella, “Capturing the Silken Thief”, the song girl Jia and the scholar Luo Cheng talk about a luxurious pleasure house called “The Lotus Pavilion” where the wealthy go to drink and be merry. Of course, they can’t afford it themselves, Jia being a struggling musician who’s been hoarding coins hoping to buy her freedom and Cheng being a poor farm boy who is dependent on the charity of a public official to fund his studies for the imperial exams.

These two young lovers, struggling to make ends meet, both dreamed of a better life. When I was coming up with this story, I needed to make it relatable to modern readers even though it was set over a thousand years ago. To give the story more depth, I drew on my experiences.

I went to UCLA for my bachelor’s degree and in the mornings when I didn’t have class, I would walk through Westwood, the college town across from campus.

One day, I was passing by this restaurant and caught a glimpse inside. It was gorgeous! There was a skylight over the top of it and I remember trees and greenery and everything looking very fancy. It was called the Hamlet Gardens and a quick look at the prices told me it was way out of my college freshman budget. Later I told my best friend about that place and how when I graduated, I’d go back there to celebrate.

The Hamlet Gardens became a symbol of success. We would mention it occasionally and my friend even offered to take me there on a special occasion, but I refused. Not until I graduated.

Funny thing is the place closed down before then. LOL.

But I still remember those times and working sixty hours a week, then pulling all-nighters to pass my classes. I remember all the hopes and dreams and the feeling that all things were possible.

So I made The Hamlet Gardens into The Lotus Pavilion. A luxurious place that seemed unreachable until the hero and heroine accomplished their goals.

When I brought the Lotus Pavilion back for my mystery series, my publisher thought that the word “Pavilion” wasn’t as evocative as “Palace”. So The Lotus Pavilion became The Lotus Palace, a series revolving around the hopes and dreams of the pleasure quarter, a melting pot inhabited by scholars and courtesans, noblemen and maidservants.

An epilogue: Apparently the Hamlet Gardens is now a restaurant called the Skylight Gardens and is open for business. Maybe one day, I’ll finally go there and have a drink.

***

THE LOTUS PALACE, a historical romance and murder mystery set in the Tang Dynasty, is available now in print or ebook.

When a famous courtesan is murdered, a clever maidservant teams up with the notorious playboy and failed scholar of the Pingkang li to solve the crime, but can they defy the bonds of class and culture to find love and happiness?

Amazon                B&N

You can also get a peek into the pleasure quarter in the introductory short novella, CAPTURING THE SILKEN THIEF.

Amazon                 B&N                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Jeannie is offering a signed print of THE LOTUS PALACE to one (1) lucky commenter!  Do/did you have a Hamlet Garden, something that is your personal symbol of success?  Giveaway ends @12am est on 9-22-13 with the winner announced shortly thereafter.  Good luck all you Manic Readers..

Find Jeannie online:

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BURN and giveaway with Jenny Lyn

Eight years ago, life was good for Tate Reilly. Living in Atlanta and attending college, her dream of becoming a doctor was within reach, and she was in love with Ryan Hart. Then one night while Tate slept, Ryan disappeared. No note, no phone call, nothing left of a love she thought would last forever. Confused and heartbroken, she doesn’t let it hold her back in her quest to become a physician. If anything, the hurt and disappointment only serve to fuel her drive to succeed.
Ryan never wanted to leave Tate behind the way he did, but sometimes life takes away the choice. The best way to spare Tate the disruption of her bright future with his problems is to make a clean break. So he does the hardest thing he’s ever done—he walks away from her.
Now Ryan is back in Atlanta, working as a sous chef in the most popular restaurant in the city, and he has every intention of winning Tate back, no matter what it takes. It’s not easy because Tate wants answers that Ryan’s not ready to give just yet. First, he needs to remind her of what they once had together. The heat between them is undeniable, and it’s not long before it melts her resistance and she starts to lose the grip on her heart again.
But until Ryan can come clean with Tate about why he left, she can’t fully forgive him and move on. Time doesn’t always heal all wounds. Sometimes you have to shed more blood to become whole again.
The following excerpt is a bit racy so heads up y’all!
A small part of Tate wanted to kill Ryan for tricking her, just reach out and wrap her hands around his throat and squeeze the life right out of him.
But the larger part of her, which unfortunately included the lady parts, wanted to touch him for other reasons, reasons that she suspected dictated her actions when she’d asked for his address rather than telling him to go back to the ER to be checked out. Besides, if he had truly been concerned about his arm possibly being infected, he wouldn’t have asked if she was working, he would’ve just gone to the hospital. Ryan valued his limbs too much to risk losing them to something like cellulitis or sepsis.
So that made her almost as culpable as he was.
She couldn’t concentrate while staring at him without a shirt on. His chest was too appealing and distracting. All bulgy solid muscle over thick bone, smooth tan skin, his areolas small and dark in … Holy crap, one of his nipples is pierced!
Before Tate could stop herself, she’d reached for it as if it was some sort of intriguing abnormality. She had seen piercings on patients naturally, but never one she wanted to touch as badly as she did his.
She didn’t even look up at his face for permission. When her fingers made contact with the small silver hoop, he flinched but didn’t move to stop her. She shifted closer then, running the tip of her finger around his nipple to watch it tighten, before she gave the ring a little indulgent tug.
Ryan hissed through his teeth, and his hands shot out to capture her hips, pulling her flush to his body. The more she toyed with the jewelry, the stiffer his cock grew against her stomach and the harder his fingertips dug into her jean-covered skin. And she had to admit, she liked that she could cause that reaction in him with such a simple touch. Feeling it made her wonder about something else, though.
“You didn’t pierce your…” Tate licked her lips, inexplicably shy with her words all of a sudden. Her eyes jumped up to his.
“My cock?” He grinned. “No. I’m not that brave.”
“Or crazy. I’ve seen horror stories, trust me on that.”
 “I can imagine. This was a drunken impulse four years ago.”
She continued to finger the jewelry. “If you take it out, the hole will grow up.”
“I started to, but then … I kind of got used to it.”
Tate gave it another tug, causing him to make a soft grunting noise in his throat. “And there’s a direct correlation between the nerves in the nipple and the nerves in the genitals.”
Ryan laughed, pressing his erection against her stomach. “No kidding, Doc. I’m rock hard. ‘Course a lot of that has to do with the company.”
Tate had opened this door by touching him so intimately, and she was about to step through it. There was no denying she wanted him. Giving in to that desire might not be the smartest thing she’d ever done, but this was Ryan. They had a history, even though the last chapter was depressing. There was no question sex with him would be amazing. She’d worry about the ramifications later. For once, she wanted to act rash and bold and selfish.