Bookmark Wednesdays: Amanda Bretz

In Classic and Modern Romance, Love Always Prevails

Hi Scarlett, thanks for having me today!

Here in my corner of the world the leaves are beginning to show autumnal tones and the air has the faintest hint of crispness. Of all the seasons, it seems I get most nostalgic during fall. The clear blue sky and light breeze made today perfect for reminiscing on what books inspired me to write about love.

I’ll never forget the day I picked up my first category romance. I was 17 and spending the afternoon at a friend’s house. While I was perusing the bookshelf in her bedroom I couldn’t help but notice that the shelves were lined with paperback after paperback by one author in particular.

“You sure do like Sandra Brown,” I commented.

“Yeah, she’s one of my favorites. You can borrow one if you want.”

So I pulled a title from the shelf at random. The book was Tomorrow’s Promise, a story about an unexpected spark that ignites between a radio personality and a congressman while on a flight to Washington D.C. Both are en route to D.C. to speak at a congressional hearing about soldiers from the Vietnam War that were still listed as MIA. Both have a vested interest in the outcome of the hearing, but is always the case in romance novels, love prevailed and the hero and heroine found a way to be together in the end.

After reading Tomorrow’s Promise, I was hooked and spent the next year devouring Ms. Brown’s backlist—which at the time was around 40+ novels. Her stories contained all the chest-clutching drama that old school romances are known for: secret babies, marriage of convenience and of course, the virginal heroine. Likewise, her heroes were larger than life and completely swoon-worthy: sheikh, cowboy, bad boy and the mysterious loner.

Even though I’ve read all her books and followed her career, I tend to shy away from using words like “idol.” There’s no doubt that reading Sandra Brown had a major influence on my decision to try my own hand at writing romance. While I’ve never written a plot that contained a marriage of convenience or a secret baby, there is one thing I took away from all those romances by Ms. Brown: love always prevails.

I explore the swoon-worthy blue-collar hero in my latest release. There’s just something about a man in—and out of—uniform.

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Amanda Bretz is on Twitter and Facebook and has a blog.

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specialdelivery_800Who says good things come in small packages? Corina believes beauty isn’t about size—it’s about attitude—and Zach can’t get enough of her confidence or her curves.

Curvy and proud of it, photographer Corina Saunders seeks to empower other females by shooting boudoir photos of plus-sized women in her home studio. When a charity needs a photographer to photograph twelve sexy men for a hunk-of-the-month calendar, she gladly volunteers her services. During one photo shoot, sparks fly when she snaps pictures of sexy delivery man Zach Moreno and his strategically placed package. When the two cross paths again at a charity ball and bachelor auction, Corina surprises everyone—including herself—when she wins a date with Zach, the sexiest bachelor up for grabs. The pair soon discovers that the attraction between them is too great to ignore and give in to their passion.

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Available from Totally Bound, All Romance eBooks, Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Posted in Amanda Bretz, Bookmark Wednesdays | 2 Comments

Bookmark Wednesday: Morticia Knight

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Books have always been a major part of my life – I know that most of you out there feel the same way. For me to write about one is near impossible, but I will make a choice. Just know that this is only one of many that have affected me in a profound way!

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald:

I am absolutely in love with this book. I have seen every single adaptation of this book on TV or in film. The tragedy against the backdrop of the carefree, roaring twenties is a unique representation of that era. There was a very brief period in history – all of nine years – where Fitzgerald’s themes were relevant. But oh what a master storyteller he was. I think the tragedy of his own personal life informs his work, but ironically, much of it occurred after his greatest literary achievements.

Gatsby as a character sticks with me. He is a man who possesses a pure and unconditional love for Daisy Buchanan. He worships her, would do anything for her – exists only for her happiness. He’s the type of lover most women would sacrifice all to have. Yet, Daisy is so lost in her own selfish world that she can’t give herself to him completely. Or is it that she doesn’t really love him the way she professes she does, that she’s really been using him to get her cheating scoundrel of a husband to turn his attentions back to her?

The ending is a gut punch of despair, but it’s one of those that you can’t help but be captivated by. No matter how many times I read it or see the film, I always go back to “But what if he had done this?” or “Why didn’t she just do that?”. The ending never changes – of course – but I can’t help but wish I could make it all better. Fitzgerald did a magnificent job of bringing these spoiled, immoral people to life in a way that you still root for them.

In my Gin & Jazz series, I pay homage to Fitzgerald’s era. His stories are based in New York in high society as mine are centered around Hollywood filmmakers and contain a mixture of those desperate to make it big to those who have scraped their way to the top or are on the verge of tumbling to the ground. In the final installment, Play Acting, silent film star Roman Pasquale has had a fall from grace. He’s been through a lot of heartbreak in his life and is now bordering on destitute. He’s also had the chance to reflect on how his bad behavior contributed to his current state of despair. But he sees a second chance at happiness in the fresh young playwright, Max Vogel.

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Morticia Knight is on Twitter:

and her blog is here:

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playacting_exlarge_PNG-210x336Play Acting is book seven in the Gin & Jazz series.

Former screen idol, Roman Pasquale, struggles to survive in Hollywood as the silent film era comes to a close. But a fresh new playwright is in town and he wants Roman to be more than just his star.

The past few years haven’t been kind to fading film star, Roman Pasquale. But then again, he was never very kind to anyone else either. He’s had time to reminisce on his mistakes and to accept responsibility for how he hurt others. Now that Global Studios has turned its back on him, he’s had to sell his grand estate and start over in a modest apartment.

His former co-star, actress Maude Simons, suggests that he meet with new playwright, Max Vogel. Not only will he get the chance to be the star again, Roman can really use the money. What he doesn’t expect is how strongly he’s attracted to the easygoing, confident young man—and the very wicked thoughts he has about him.

Playwright and director, Max Vogel, is delighted that the great Roman Pasquale has agreed to star in his play. What he was unprepared for however, was the intense physical spark that ignited the moment they met. He’s been warned of Roman’s reputation for being difficult to work with, but he’s willing to take the risk—even though his career depends on the success of this one play.

Max needs to coax a heartfelt performance out of Roman, and Roman needs to live up to his resolve to be a better man. But maybe the real issue is whether or not the director and actor can resist the passion they have for one another, a lust so strong that it catches them unaware. Is their lust really love? Or will the drive for success destroy any hope for a happily-ever-after?

Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of fisting and references to childhood rape.

Publisher’s Note: This book is best read in sequence as part of a series but can be read as a standalone.

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Available from Totally Bound here, and from Amazon UK, Amazon US and All Romance eBooks.

Posted in Bookmark Wednesdays, Morticia Knight | 1 Comment

How to help out this writer

I’m seeing a lot of tweets and blog posts – written by authors, naturally – on how to help out writers.

A popular (and by “popular” I mean “terrible”) method for supporting your local writer is to review their books on sites such as Goodreads, adding the same review to the reader’s personal blog then possibly even adding the review to the publisher site, giving it five stars and hey, while you’re at it, tweet about how great the book is and mention on Facebook how everyone should read it because rainbows and kittens and unicorns ‘n’ shit.

No. Just no.

Actually, I should clarify – nothing wrong with reviews. I likes ‘em. And I read them too. All authors do. You know all this high-and-mighty “Oh, I never read the comments and I avoid reviews because they’re for readers, not writers,” bullshit? That’s all it is. Bullshit. All writers read reviews and comments, then they go on Twitter and boast about how they don’t.

Anyway, reviews. Yeah. They’re cool. They help spread the word. But what I object to, what’s actually “terrible” is writers putting the onus on readers to “help them out”. It’s very street-teamy, this notion that readers should help spread the word. And we all know how I feel about street teams, don’t we?

If you want people to recommend your book, write a good one. If you want people to review your book, that’s something I think should be left up to fate. (I’m talking about private readers here, not book bloggers and such; it’s okay to approach them and ask them to review a book if you send them a copy.*)

I’m going to tell you exactly how to help out your favourite writers, and I bet you’re already doing it.

Buy our books.

That’s it. That’s all, as a reader, you’re required to do. Not even required, because that makes it an obligation. You can buy my books if you want. Don’t, if you don’t want. Either way, it’s up to you.

It’s not your job to publicise my work. I’d say that’s my job, but again, that’s something I’ve blog ranted about before. (Here, in The snake oil that is paying for promo, I touch on the subject of publishers absolving themselves of all responsibility for promoting the books they publish.)

I’ll make this absolutely clear.

If you buy and read my books, thank you. I’m not going to be asking you to do anything else. I’m a writer. I write books. You’re the readers. You read them.

That is how you support writers.

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*That’s what I did with Nix at Scorching Book Reviews. Leave a comment after this review to stand a chance of winning a signed copy of Plus One. See? A writer giving away free stuff instead of asking you for something. You know you want some of this…

Posted in everything you ever thought you knew about promo is wrong, giveaway, Plus One, promofail, review | Leave a comment

Bookmark Wednesdays: Raven McAllan

Return to Yesterday by Robyn Donald

It might sound so silly when I tell you a book that’s influenced me is an old Mills and Boon. Oh I could say Arthur Ransome  and Swallows and Amazons (true I wanted to learn to sail and I did) Doreen Tovey, Cats in the Belfry ( I had cats for 30 years) or Miss Read Village School (I decided not to teach).

But I read Robyn Donald’s Return to Yesterday, and decided there and then I wanted to visit New Zealand. Her descriptions were amazing. You could smell the freshly cut grass, hear the dog bark, see the evening shadows, and watch the moon rise.

Many years later I was lucky enough to visit the country. Our daughter was on a gap year and we went to visit. The minute I realized I was actually going, I emailed the author and told her how pleased I was to be able to experience her descriptions first hand. To my surprise and pleasure, she invited me for tea.

She was lovely, and gave me some very valuable advice.

“Write that story inside you, in your own words and your own style. That’s your voice and yours alone. Don’t give up, and the more you write the better you’ll get.”

She was correct on every point.

Thank you Robyn.

Sixty odd stories later, I agree with her wholeheartedly.

Diomhair—Gaelic for Secret, is down to her. A BDSM club in a Scottish Castle. What happens there, stays there.

Book one, Secrets Shared, and Book two, Secrets Uncovered, are out from, as eBooks and together as one lovely paperback.

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Raven McAllan is on Twitter:

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diomhair_vol1_print_800Secrets Shared

They say never share a secret. Sometimes though, it’s the only thing to do.

Jess is looking forward to her night out clubbing with her best friend, but her anticipation turns to dismay when she realises the venue is a BDSM club not the disco she’d envisioned. After a disastrous experience with the lifestyle in her past, she’s adamant she wants nothing to do with it now.

David agreed to pick up his friend’s sister as a favour, and is surprised to find himself instantly attracted to the fiery Jess. The experienced Dom recognises Jess’ bluster for what it is—fear. There is no doubt in his mind that Jess is submissive, but getting her to accept that fact will take some doing.

David is determined to help her, but it is up to Jess to accept. When Jess does give in to her secret desires, can she truly let go and be the sub David is looking for, or will she hold onto her secrets?

At Diomhair you never know what will happen in the end.

Reader Advisory: This book contains reference to sexual abuse.

Secrets Uncovered

Convincing a Dom that pregnancy doesn’t mean the end of all play can take some doing. Kath is horny and determined, but what does Jeff think?

Pregnancy should be the happiest time of your life. What’s a sub to do, however, when her Dom won’t touch her? Kath can’t understand why Jeff is being so difficult. After all, she’s pregnant, not ill, and she’ll combust with sexual frustration if she can’t seduce Jeff into play.

Jeff can’t help but worry over Kath’s health. It doesn’t matter what anyone, including the doctor, says about sex being okay, his mind tells him otherwise. It’s his duty to protect his sub, even if he’s giving himself blue balls in the process. He’ll do anything to keep her and their baby safe.

With the two of them at an impasse, tension runs high, especially when the future of Diomhair is threatened by an unknown enemy.

As they pull together to secure their home, and their workplace, can they also resolve their personal problems, or does pregnancy spell the end of their Dom/sub relationship?

Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of light BDSM.

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Available from Totally Bound. (Print edition.)

Posted in Bookmark Wednesdays, Raven McAllan | Leave a comment

Why I am seriously considering self-publishing

I know. Me, giving serious consideration to self-publishing. Who’d’a thunk it?

Given that I’ve previously been dead-set against it, why the big change? First of all, I should clarify – I’m only referring to self-publishing erotic romance ebooks. I have plottering and scheminating going on behind the scenes with regard to another genre that I plan to sub to agents and publishers under another name. But when it comes to erotic romance, I’m happy to experiment with self-publishing. Why?

Length of books.
Erotic romance comes in all shapes and sizes. And I’m told novellas sell pretty well. However, novellas just aren’t cost effective to print, so e-format is good for them. And when it comes to longer books, 80k words plus, the same applies, in a way. Novellas would mean shelling out for cover art, editing and so on, and seeing very little return on your investment unless you price the book way above what its word count is worth. And with long novels, obviously you’d have to pay for more paper and ink. Consumables.

With ebooks? Your book can be any length you want it to be. Or should I say, any length it needs to be.

But okay, ebooks are a matter of format, not publication. Why self-publish erotic romance in ebook format when there are plenty of publishers around who’ll take care of all the technicalities for you?

30%, 35%, 40% royalties are pretty common in this game. But wouldn’t 100% of the profits be better? Sure it would!

Hold on. Editing would come out of that 100%, wouldn’t it? And cover art. And publicity. Wouldn’t it be better to let a digital-first publisher cover all of that?

Maybe. If you could be sure you’d get a fair return.

Let’s talk about editing first. I’ve had the experience of an editor defining a word to me, and getting that definition wrong. In case you’re curious, the word in question was anodyne. Eventually I deleted it from the manuscript because said editor said that publisher’s readers wouldn’t know what it meant. Fair enough, seeing as even the editor didn’t. But I thought it was rather patronising of her, to assume readers wouldn’t be familiar with a word she had defined incorrectly.

Why not get another editor? Well, with a publishing house, you can’t. You work with the one you’re assigned and that’s it. When you self-publish, you get to choose who you work with. And if you end up working with an editor who knows less about the English language than you do, well…that’s your lookout!

(Seriously. I’ve had to educate editors about punctuation. If I’m telling them how to do their job in line with the English language and correct grammar and punctuation, there’s something wrong. Might as well do it myself.)

Cover art.
Some authors do their own. I wouldn’t, because photoshop sucks cheesy donkey dick in the hands of yours truly. Besides, I know of a site that sells polished cover art for very much cheapness and I’d be happy to use it. Less than fifty bucks apiece, and judging by the samples I’ve seen, that’s a bargain.

Publicity. Oh, this is a good one.

Even a small, digital-first press would have more of an ability to publicise my books than I would alone, right? Because they’d have more contacts. They’d have the ear of review bloggers and such. Well, you’d think.

However, I’ve worked with a publisher which didn’t seem to do anything for its authors except tweet once in a blue moon, and even then, they didn’t do it for each book the house released. When asked exactly what they did to promote each individual book release and where said books were sent for review, I was met with a stony silence, broken only by the “Rah rah rah!” of cheerleaders who’d drunk the Kool-Aid. Oh, maybe if writers were lucky, we had it suggested to us that we could do this or that online to promote our books.

Spot the problem, there? What we could do to promote our books. Well, if I have to do all the promotion work myself, why on Earth would I sign away more than half the profits? What exactly is the difference between publishing at Publishing House X, and just doing it myself anyway?

I’ve had the formatting of my work all mucked up one week before publication and had to drop everything to correct it according to someone else’s schedule. If I were self-publishing, I could see to such things according to my own timescale. Of course, I very much doubt I’d take great chunks of my novel and fuck about with the formatting just for shits and giggles anyway. And I wouldn’t have to worry about rapid staff turnover destroying lines of communication between people who are working on a book – or were supposed to work on a book.

I’ve also met with hiccups with regard to series/books with recurring characters. Some publishers believe (incorrectly, in my view) that readers won’t cross over from M/F to M/M and vice versa. A series should either be hetero or gay. (Bisexuality doesn’t even come into the picture; make of that what you will.) If I were self-publishing? I wouldn’t have to worry whether or not Character X’s sexuality fit in with the rest of the series or my readership, because there’d be no-one to say I couldn’t. Would that put some readers off? Undoubtedly. But I believe for each reader who was put off by the “wrong” genitalia in “their” series, I’d gain another who accepts sexuality isn’t something any human being can regulate. We might be hetero, we might be gay, we might be bi. And guess what? Whatever your sexuality, I bet in your everyday life you associate with people who aren’t exactly the same as you. So too I want it to be in my books.

Aside from all of the above, I’d just have less of a headache when it comes to contracts and payments. One publisher introduced a restrictive non-compete clause into their contracts so I left, because I didn’t want my manuscripts to be promised to one particular publisher before they were even written. (And I didn’t want to have to wait for them to knock a book back before I could even consider self-publishing.) I know of other publishers who expect you to gift them ROFR (right of first refusal) on any books rather than just those which are part of a series, and they are not publishers I would ever want to work with.

Payments? One publisher sent the cheques later and later each month until they’d have been as well not sending them at all. Indeed, the money person admitted to forgetting to send my payments out more than once. Yep, you read that right. Forgetting. Each month I had to nag to get my money, until I was told by one of the higher-ups that I’d agreed to being paid quarterly. I hadn’t. I mentioned this on a public forum and the publisher emailed me privately to ask me to say it had all been a misunderstanding.

Yes, again, you read that right. A publisher who wasn’t paying me, asked me to lie in public to cover it up.

I kept those emails. Still have them.

No matter how good the royalties statements look, that doesn’t mean Jack shit if the cheques never show up.

(Funnily enough, they started paying up after that, but I’m never writing for the publisher concerned again. If your day-job boss kept “forgetting” to pay you, you’d walk out, and don’t tell me you wouldn’t.)

It’s my belief that a lot of digital-first publishers are getting worried, knowing that authors now have other options. So they panic, and introduce clauses into their contracts that don’t favour the authors. ROFR clauses that cover all works, not just series/recurring characters. Clauses that forbid you from self-publishing while with this publisher. (Yes, really; I’ve seen this and walked away, thinking “Oh do fuck off.”) Clauses that lay claim to meta-data, and by that I mean the blurb the author wrote him- or herself. I mean, what use is a blurb to a publishing house if the author pulls their book and leaves? Are they going to use the same blurb on another book? I think not. Plus, it’s the intellectual property of the person who wrote it, a bit like the book itself is. Now, apparently you can negotiate that clause out, but…why would you do that, when you can go elsewhere, either to another publisher, or down the self-publishing road?

One publisher (which invited me to submit a manuscript to them HA HA HA NO I DON’T FUCKING THINK SO) doesn’t offer an author’s rights back after a set length of time. No, they do so when sales drop below a certain level. So what do they do? Put their books on sale, which bumps up sales of said books, thereby taking them above the level specified in the contract. So the authors can’t get their manuscripts back, because their novels and novellas are selling “too many copies to invoke the rights reversion clause”.


So, if an author writes erotic romance, it seems to me that such a genre is made for epublishing. But the world of epublishing is riddled with corrupt practices that simply aren’t fair for the author.

Am I saying all publishers are like that? Good God, no. Some are excellent when it comes to editing, promo, paying up what’s due when it’s due. It’s just very difficult finding one publisher that covers all of those bases at the same time. And what puts me off a particular publishing house might not bother someone else.

So really, my reasons for considering self-publishing boil down to “Bad experiences with publishers, and a desire for more freedom when it comes to what I write about, and how much money I charge for my stories.”

That’s it, really. At first, it’ll be an experiment. Just seeing how it goes. (I couldn’t earn much less doing it myself, put it that way.) Will report my progress as I go along.

Then again, I may not make any progress – or money! – at all. But at least I’ll have tried.

Wish me luck! And buy my books. I really need some new furniture and a holiday. :D

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Bookmark Wednesdays: LM Brown

Banishment by Dinah Lampitt

How can one book do so much?

That is the question I ask myself when I think about Banishment by Dinah Lampitt.  It is a book that very few people have heard of but I absolutely love.  I have never read any other book as many times as I have read this one.

The story itself is about a modern day actress who finds herself trapped in one of her past lives after undergoing regression hypnosis at the hands of someone who doesn’t know what he is doing.  At first she struggles to accept what is happening to her, but as time passes she finds herself torn between her life in the past and the modern world.

So, why does this book get the honour of being the book I have read the most?

Well, it is because it was a book that sparked my interest in so many different things.

Firstly, regression hypnosis and past lives.  I had heard of this before, but had not really taken much notice.  I suddenly found idea of discovering all about your past life intriguing.

Then there is the time period the book is set in – seventeenth century England during the English Civil War.  After reading Banishment my history book shelf became an entire bookcase filled with this era.  Biographies, historical novels and plain old history books.  I devoured everything I could.

This story is not strictly a romance novel, although the heroine does find love, but it did spark my interest in time travel romances.  I read this book shortly before discovering the internet and went looking online for recommendations of similar books as soon as I could.  I was given many suggestions, mostly of books that were not published in the UK.  Thankfully Amazon was already up and running – just! – and I signed up and had as many shipped over as I could afford.  Most of those fell into the romance genre and I was hooked.

Even though it is not strictly a romance novel, it was through this book that I discovered a passion for several topics, none of which have ebbed in the (nearly) 20 years since I first discovered this treasure.

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Where to find L.M. Brown
Website & Blog –
Facebook –
Twitter – @LMBrownAuthor

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forbiddenwaters 200x320Forbidden Waters

Book one in the Mermen & Magic series

For the dying race of mer people, homosexual relationships are prohibited. When Kyle falls for Prince Finn he knows he is navigating forbidden waters.

To save his clan from ever-increasing shark attacks, merman Kyle seeks sanctuary for his people in the sunken city of Atlantis, even though he knows that as a homosexual merman, he will be sacrificing his own chance for love. Love finds him anyway in the form of Prince Finn, the rebellious young heir to the Atlantean throne.

When their relationship is discovered, Kyle is the one to pay the price. Banished from the oceans, he seeks shelter in England and finds a new love with human, Jake Seabrook.

For Jake, Kyle is the chance to move on from the crush he has on his straight best friend. The strange man he found naked on the beach seems to fit into his life with ease.  If only Kyle weren’t keeping secrets from him, Jake could see them having a future together.

Things are not what they seem for either of the men and when Kyle discovers the truth about Finn, he knows he must return to Atlantis.

Three men, a tangled relationship, and one chance for happiness—if they can trust enough to take it.

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Available from Totally Bound here.

Posted in Bookmark Wednesdays, LM Brown | 2 Comments

Bookmark Wednesdays: Marian Perera

My gateway drug into fantasy

When I was six, my uncle found me struggling to read his hardcover copy of The Lord of the Rings, which probably weighed more than I did at the time. He gave me a more age-appropriate paperback copy of The Hobbit, which I still have, and I finally finished the trilogy four years later.

I’d fallen in love with alternate-world fantasy by then, and wanted to write my own stories. Tolkien’s shadow proved to be a long one, though. I kept feeling that a well-realized fantasy world was a more or less solemn, dignified one defined by certain traditional elements like magic.

Something had to yank me out of this mindset, but at the time my parents had moved to the Middle East and I didn’t have access to my uncle’s library. But one day I found a battered paperback copy of a Fighting Fantasy gamebook called House of Hell.

Fighting Fantasy is a type of choose-your-own-adventure gamebook which can be played solo. What I fell in love with, though, was its eclectic, dive-in-and-splash-around approach to fantasy. Anything cool from other genres which could work for the books was happily added to them, so if your character took a dip in a lake, you might have to deal with either a siren or a plesiosaur. Robots, kirin, Lovecraft-esque horrors, it was all grist for the mill.

Take-home message: if it can be integrated into the story, it’s a valid fantasy element.

Sometimes this was inconsistent, but if a series has well over 50 books, I can forgive a dud or two. Another take-home message: write as many books as possible.

Finally, gamebooks are inherently enjoyable and helpful for worldbuilding, because they’re worlds to be explored (along with plenty of pictures, which helps). I read another gamebook series called Blood Sword and then discovered Ravenloft netbooks, which inspired the world of Eden in which my sharkpunk novels are set. I still enjoy Tolkien’s books, but I also learned to think outside the box—and to have fun doing so.

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Bio : Marian Perera was born in Sri Lanka, grew up in Dubai, studied in the United States and lives in Canada. For now. She has three fantasy romances released by Samhain Publishing. The third—THE FARTHEST SHORE, where an ocean-spanning race turns deadly when a kraken hunts down the competitors—was released yesterday. Read more about her books at or join her on Twitter @MDPerera.

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FarthestShore-The72lgHe’s racing for a prize. She’s running for her life. And they’re on a collision course.

Eden Series, Book 3

Captain Alyster Juell is relishing the taste of his first command for the fleet of Denalay. The steamship Checkmate doesn’t carry weaponry, but that doesn’t matter. His mission is to win an ocean-crossing race—and its hefty prize.

As the voyage gets underway, Alyster hits his first snag—there’s a stowaway on board, a reporter who poked around for information about his ship the day before. And it’s too late to turn back.

Miri Tayes didn’t intend to stow away. She was forced to run for her life when a colleague discovered her secret: She can pass for normal but she’s a half-salt—daughter of a Denalait mother and a pirate father.

Despite her lack of seaworthy skills, Miri works hard to earn her keep, and Alyster, taken with her quick wit and steely nerve, falls for her. But as the race intensifies and the pirates use a kraken to hunt down Checkmate for its new technology, the truth could be the most elusive—and dangerous—prize of all.

Product Warnings

Contains a reporter hiding a dangerous secret and the captain who’d like to strip her bare in more ways than one. Also pirates, prejudice and passion.

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Available from Samhain Publishing here.

Posted in Bookmark Wednesdays | 1 Comment

Bookmark Wednesdays: Jorja Lovett

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

I can honestly say this was the first book I turned to after I finally tired of Enid Blyton’s Enchanted Wood stories. There were no pretty pictures to look at, this was my first ‘proper’ book, bound in red leather and sneaked from my Mum’s vast romance collection.

Of course, I appreciated the story more as I got older, and was chuffed to find it as part of my A level English literature studies. Charlotte Bronte was infinitely more enjoyable than trying to decipher Chaucer’s Olde English.

Jane is such a strong, stubborn character, I immediately empathized with her. From those awful first chapters of her bleak childhood, through to refusing to let Rochester tarnish her reputation, she stays true to herself. She’s an unconventional heroine, particularly in that she’s not a ‘classic’ beauty. I made the mistake of once describing her as having elfin features and was quickly reminded by my sixth year teacher there was nothing glamorous about Jane, and we shouldn’t make apologies for that. This is part of what makes her ‘real’ to the reader.

The same could be said about Edward Rochester. We don’t get the impression he’s a Ryan Gosling lookey-likey, except perhaps in Jane’s eyes. Truth be told, he’s a bit of a git at times, but we know they belong together in that atmospheric, gothic setting. It’s been a while since I read Jane Eyre last, but I reckon the impact it left has a lot to do with my penchant for feisty heroines and tortured heroes…

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Jorja Lovett’s website:

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firstfloorcosmetics_800Take one younger man, add some illicit outdoor sex, and Maggie Fenton is inclined to forget she’s the oldest cosmetics girl at Kelsey’s Department Store.

From the outside, it looks as though Maggie Fenton has it all. The glamorous head of the cosmetics department lives a life of luxury, but money definitely hasn’t bought her happiness. In reality, she’s married to a serial cheat who has made her life a misery for over a decade. With her husband chasing younger women, and her teenage co-workers’ catty comments ringing in her ears, Maggie’s resigned herself to being on the scrap heap. Until Jonah Hamilton puts temptation in her way and reminds her she’s still a red-blooded woman.

Commitment is a four letter word as far as Jonah is concerned. He has no intention of settling down when he has the whole world at his feet. The only reason he takes a summer job at Kelsey’s is to fund his travels. Well, that, and the sexy older woman he can’t help flirting with over the makeup counter. Maggie soon becomes a good friend and someone who shows him how good love can be.

The chemistry between them is undeniable but is a fling enough to satisfy their desires, or is it simply the start of something bigger?

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Available from Totally Bound here.

Posted in Bookmark Wednesdays, Jorja Lovett | 4 Comments

Bookmark Wednesdays: Becky Black

Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

At about the age of 14 I had to read Tess of the D’Urbervilles as a set text at school. I’m still angry about that book now. But my English teacher at the time also recommended a book that wasn’t on the curriculum. A very different book than Tess. One where a woman takes charges and gets things done, rather than having things done to her. That was Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons. It was the teacher’s favourite book and quickly became one of my favourites. It still is and I still reread it every couple of years.

It would never be on the curriculum, because for one thing it’s very funny. Funny books are usually considered to be “slight”. Not worthy of serious study. But I think comedy can say as many profound things about humanity as the most serious books. It exposes the foibles and vanities of people and the absurdity of life. Several of my favourite books are comedies. And having written comedy in the past, I know how tough it is to pull off.

Cold Comfort Farm is never the same book twice for me. Sometimes I read it and think Flora, a follower of Common Sense as a philosophy of life, is my hero. Other times I think she’s a smug and meddling little baggage. But I always enjoy the book, especially the “set piece” moments all Flora’s plans lead up to, the ball, the Counting, the wedding. It’s full of vivid characters and memorable dialogue.

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Becky can be found and stalked on Twitter or on her reet proper posh website, like.

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DreamForMe_BeckyBlack_coverlgIn a society awake for twenty-four hours a day a man who sleeps is a freak. But not to neurobiologist Shay Mistry. Jacob Garcia, the last known sleeper in America, is the test subject whose brain Shay has been dying to get his hands on for years. When they meet, Shay discovers the sleeper’s brain comes accompanied by a gorgeous body and a hostile attitude. As Jacob sleeps night after night in his lab it’s harder and harder for Shay to resist their mutual attraction.

Jacob is tired of being a lab rat, but he’s got his reasons to be in Shay’s lab—one of them he’s not going to tell anyone about—and his plan is to do what he came to do and leave. So falling in love with Shay is like adding a hand grenade to all the other balls he’s juggling. He doesn’t need this added complication, but his desire for Shay is too strong to resist. When Jacob’s secret comes out it triggers a chain of events leaving Shay irrevocably changed and forcing Jacob to choose where his loyalties lie.

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Available from Loose Id here.

Posted in Becky Black, Bookmark Wednesdays | 3 Comments

A blog post dedicated to @tiffanyreisz

I went shopping this afternoon after work – not for anything exciting. Just washing detergent and other household gubbins. And I had occasion to take photos of two very amusing shelf signs that for some reason reminded me of Tiffany Reisz.

Let me tell you; the young woman in the air freshener aisle must have thought I was a stalker, lurking behind her as I was. But I was just waiting for her to stop sniffing the scented candles so I could take this photo:
I’m not sure that’s what you’re meant to do with it…

But as if that wasn’t enough, there was this in the fizzy/energy drinks aisle.
Hey, if it’s 100% natural no wonder it gives you energy. And two for £1? That’s some cheap pussy!

Posted in photos, things i've seen | 1 Comment