Animation by Kayelle Allen at The Author's Secret

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Wednesday's Writer - Janet Doolaege

I'm very excited to welcome today's guest, Janet Doolaege. I read her excellent story A Paris Haunting last year - and it's no exaggeration to say that it's continued to haunt me ever since. So much so that I recently approached Janet to collaborate in a new boxed set coming very soon.

Today I've asked Janet to tell us something about herself and her work, so here she is:

I live in France but write in English. This certainly limits my opportunities for promotion: no book signings and no chance of interviews in the local press in this French-speaking context, so I’m very grateful for ManicScribbler’s invitation here.

Thank goodness for the internet! Like many writers, after years of rejections from literary agents, I started publishing ebooks on Kindle Direct Publishing, and it’s wonderful to know that at last we have some readers. Even so, I’m one of those people who still prefer “real” books made of paper, so gradually I’m self-publishing print editions too.

A Paris Haunting, a spooky contemporary romance, is set in the city where I lived and worked for a long time, so I’m familiar with its atmosphere – not always glamorous, I should add. “This book is a page-turner," writes one reviewer. "I was totally hooked by the unfolding story,” writes another. The unexplained has always fascinated me. Animal-lovers may also enjoy the role played by a cat in this ghost story. 

Likewise, Candlepower is set in present-day Paris. It also tells of uncanny events, and of the persecution of one person for being different. A reviewer says: “This is a quietly brilliant book, delicate, emotive, powerful - highly recommended to those who enjoy originality and a good mystery.” By the way, don’t let the cover mislead you. This is not Steampunk! There is a reason for the candle.

Birds have always been an important part of my life, and the true story of Ebony and Spica, my much-loved rescued blackbird and starling, is best read in paperback with illustrations by Carol Jean Watkins and Alain Perry, not to mention Marianne Weeks’s attractive layout.  Both birds had unforgettable personalities.

Another attractively produced paperback, for children this time, is The Story of an Ordinary Lion, a retelling by the lion of the old legend of Saint Jerome, patron saint of translators. One reviewer said, “The inside is as good as the cover,” the cover being again the work of Alain Perry, and the print edition has fine colour illustrations by Paolo Santoro. A ten-year-old said: “When I read this book, I felt like I was in the story.” What could be more gratifying? 

Set in ancient times, Tobias and the Demon is a tale of adventure for middle-grade readers, told by a dog. Young Tobias sets out across the mountains to recover his father’s money, but what happens to him is not what he expected.  A boy reader in the UK writes : “It is really clever how it is taken from a dogs point of view and that tag can speak to other dogs. I like the idea that Sara is possessed by a demon.”

Flora and the Wolf, another retelling for children of an old legend, is in ebook format at present and I’m hoping to publish an illustrated paperback edition quite soon. It’s aimed at children aged seven and over, and I would very much like to know what they think of it.

Reviews, reviews – please write honest reviews! We indie writers do need them.

At present I’m working on another contemporary novel with a paranormal twist, this time set partly in Paris and partly in Greece.

About the author:

Janet Doolaege grew up in Dorset, England. After university she found her first job in France, and has stayed in France ever since. She worked for UNESCO, initially as a translator and finally as Chief of the English Translation Unit. Her husband is French and they live in a village south-west of Paris.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Wednesday's Writer Shout Out - Sharleen Scott

This week's guest author is Sharleen Scott who says her first five star review of her contemporary romance/mystery, Caught in Cross Seas gave her a warm fuzzy feeling.  I'm sure reader/reviewer, Sharon will be delighted to know she can expect the sequel in October.  Here's what Sharon had to say:

A perfect summer read. What a delightful read this was! You will get drawn in to this story, and end wishing for a sequel! I am waiting for another book from you Sharleen Scott!

Short and to the point, but sometimes they're the best.  It certainly sparked my interest.

Here's the blurb for Caught in Cross Seas (an intriguing title, don't you think?):

It’s summer in the tranquil coastal town of Angel Beach, Oregon, but not everyone is enjoying the surf. Harlie Cates is caught in a sea of catastrophes. One of her homeless charges has died, her food bank may be forced to shut down, a reporter suspects she’s the missing ex-wife of a wealthy philanthropist, and her gorgeous new neighbor is threatening to have her arrested for stalking him. One more problem and she’s going under for the last time. 
Country music superstar Clay Masterson isn’t interested in dipping his toes in the cool Pacific. He’s on the trail of his supposedly dead father, who is wanted for murder in Montana, and the grapevine says he’ll find him in the vicinity of Angel Beach. For a guy with a famous face, hunting on his own isn’t easy. When he discovers Harlie isn’t a stalker, he enlists her in the search and soon finds his heart making discoveries of its own. 
The current shifts when details in a local murder match the Montana murder case. There’s no sign of dear ol’ dad and Clay is beginning to look like a suspect. Harlie knows the truth, but a promise has her struggling to stay silent. Whether she talks or not, someone will be sacrificed, and it may be Harlie who is in the most danger of all.

About the author:

Sharleen Scott writes contemporary romance/mystery/suspense and women’s fiction. Her debut novel, Caught in Cross Seas, was published in May 2014. Caught in the Spin, the second book in the series, is scheduled for release in the fall. Sharleen is a member of Romance Writers of America and Indie Romance Ink. Her former career as a travel agent introduced her to fascinating and romantic locales she could draw on for her books. 
Her present position as a rural mail carrier keeps her firmly planted in reality, a situation her imagination does its best to thwart. Sharleen lives in the beautiful state of Washington with her husband, Brett, and their two college kids. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Wednesday's Writer Shout Out - Guest Author Michele Drier

Today I'm handing over my blog to author Michele Drier who has something very pertinent to say on the subject of reviews, as well as some great reviews to share.

Who Has a Review?

In every old movie about Broadway, there’s a scene when the cast and author wait until four a.m. with bated breath for the early editions of the New York newspapers.

Critics who came for the opening night rushed back to their offices and wrote reviews that everybody believed could make or break the play.

There are still critics and there are still newspaper reviews...and some of them may make or break a play, but there’s also the morass of reviews for books.

If you have a big publisher, they’ll print ARCs (Advance Reading Copies) and send them to big newspapers, magazines and review sites a few months before your book hits the sales venues.

Some rave reviews will probably make it onto the book itself before going to print. This is the hype that gets your book noticed, picked up, read and with luck onto a Best Seller list.

There are other reviews though that help or hinder a book in the sales wars, and these are from readers, smaller review sites, bloggers.

As an indie author, these are the ones that count. Without some number of reviews, and more that four stars or so in overall ranking, your can’t even buy a spot on the targeted sales sites like BookBub, Ereader News Today or Pixel of Ink.

I write in two genres, and for each I have review sites that always get copies of my latest and a request for a review.

And I’m incredibly pleased that my most recent book (SNAP: All That Jazz, published in ebook format at the end of June) is in the “rave reviews” category.

Paranormal Romance Guild said, “I loved all of the Kandesky books but there is love and there is LOVE, and this one I LOVED. I loved Nik and Jazz and their love for each other is beautiful in spite of the inherent problems, i.e. being a vampire and the violence. I can't wait for book nine to find out what happens with Nik and Jazz and Maxie and Jean-Louis.”

I have to admit that this reviewer has become somewhat of a fan. In her review of the previous book, SNAP: White Nights, she said, “There is always something new in each book but the characters remain the same.  There is romance, love and sex and always danger of one kind or another.  I can't wait for the next book in the series, so Ms. Drier please just sit at your computer and write.”

The other site that’s always on my send-to list is The Reading Cafe. Their review of SNAP: All That Jazz said, “...this of course, is a must read! Like the rest of the series Ms. Drier has woven an intricate tale of two completely different societies and the issues of falling in love and the adjustments needed to male room in their lives for each other....     Grab your favorite beverage (cause you won’t want to stop) (personally, I found a fan handy). This is a series, you can read each book as a stand-alone, but it’s soooo much better to read from the beginning. Enjoy, everyone, I really, really, really love it!”

As wonderful as these are, they’re like the icing...the cake is the reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, B&N by the readers. Almost every book I read today on my ereader has a plea from the author about posting a review.

The game has changed and we’re never going to get an opening night New York Times review, but we still write the best books we can, put them out there and hope that readers and reviewers will love them as much as we do!

About Michele Drier

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.

SNAP: All That Jazz, Book Eight of The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles, was published June 30, 2014.  The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles paranormal romance series include SNAP: The World Unfolds, SNAP: New Talent, Plague: A Love Story, DANUBE: A Tale of Murder, SNAP: Love for Blood, SNAP: Happily Ever After?, SNAP: White Night and SNAP: All That Jazz.  SNAP: I, Vampire, Book Ten in the Kandesky Vampire Chronicles is scheduled for publication early 2015.

She also writes the Amy Hobbes Newspaper mysteries, Edited for Death and Labeled for Death. A third book, Delta for Death, is coming in 2014.

For more information, visit Michele's website by clicking on this link.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Wednesday's Writer Shout Out - Author Elizabeth Rose's Top #Review

The best reviews don't have to be long and wordy to make an impact, as author Elizabeth Rose discovered when she found this review on Amazon back in July.  The review is for her recent release The Dragon and the DreamWalker (great title, Elizabeth), Book 1 in her Elemental Series.  Here's what Amazon reviewer, Ron Kell had to say about the story, which he claimed 'stayed true to form till the end':

Lots of magical story's use the magic as a way around having to plot out a good story line and rescue the characters when the author can't devise a way. Not this one, it is well and true throughout, with magic limited and characters flawed but believable. This has a little bit of good vs evil, taming of the shrew, the hulk and dream walkers rolled together to get a love story Zane Gray would have enjoyed.

The review certainly makes me want to know more about the book, and if you do too, here's the blurb:

The Dragon and the DreamWalker - Book 1 Fire

Drake Pendragon saves Brynn from being sacrificed to Dracus, the dragon of Lornoon. He is shocked to see the dragon's fire has not harmed her, and realizes she must be the Lady of Fire that the villagers fear and call a witch. 

Brynn has faerie blood running through her veins, and while fire cannot harm her and gives her power, water weakens her and can destroy her. She is thrilled to have been saved by a heroic knight, until she awakes and realizes he has brought her to her late father's castle. She knows at once her savior is none other than the infamous Dragon's Son. The feared man of all, and also the man who stormed her father's castle and claimed it as his own. And while their relationship on the physical plane is rocky, Brynn has the ability to dreamwalk, leave her body in her sleep, and their relationship on the etheric plane is much different indeed. 

Can two feared people work together to destroy the dragon, or will they be stopped by their haunting pasts as they realize they really fear themselves?

About Elizabeth Rose:

Elizabeth is a author of over 30 novels, writing mainly medieval, paranormal and contemporary romance. She loves to write strong heroines and tortured heroes. She is an also an artist and creates all her own book covers and book trailer videos. You can see them on her website by clicking on her photo or this link.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Wednesday's Writer Shout Out - Author P J Sharon's Top #Review

It's not surprising that author P J Sharon's heart was touched by this excellent five star review for her young-adult novel, Pieces of Love that appeared on Amazon last month. The reader/reviewer, Kirstin Harnedy, called it "An engrossing, heartfelt novel that offers readers a perfect vacation." 

This amazing story captivated me from the first page and I couldn't put it down. Genuine and heartfelt, it's an amazing journey that's the perfect blend of growth, love and humor set against the incredible backdrops encountered on Lexi's Mediterranean cruise. With authentic characters from Lexi with her struggles to overcome the loss of her sister and find her path to her delightful grandma who frequently reminds her never to call her grandma, PJ Sharon delivers an engaging novel that delights and inspires while brilliantly tackling the toughest of emotions with true depth. It's a novel sure live on in the reader's mind long after finishing the last page.

It certainly intrigues me and if it makes you want to know more about Pieces of Love, here's the blurb:

Sixteen year-old Alexis Hartman wants nothing more than to play her guitar and get high, hoping to escape the pain of losing her sister. But when her second arrest for pot possession leads to her mother’s breakdown, Lexi is sent to stay with her grandmother for the summer. While embarking on a Mediterranean cruise hardly sounds like punishment, being forced to face her demons and falling for a guy she may never see again gives Lexi a chance to discover what it means to love someone—even when you have to let them go

About author P J Sharon

Award winning author of young adult books, Massage Therapist, Personal Trainer, and Yogi, PJ Sharon has been called “a powerhouse of positivity and productivity.” Her mantra is “find balance in all things, and live every day to the fullest.” A black belt in the art of Shaolin Kempo Karate, avid kayaker, and singer of Italian art songs, PJ has two grown sons and lives with her brilliant engineer husband in the Berkshire Hills of Western MA where she writes YA…because every teen deserves a hopefully ever after.

You can find out more about P J Sharon and her award-winning stories by clicking on the link to her website.

Happy reading.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Wednesday's Writer - Shout Out - It could be You!

Every author loves to come across a great review of one of his/her titles.  We spend so much time lovingly crafting a story in the hope that someone will really enjoy it and there can be no better way than for readers to show their enjoyment by taking the time to write a review expressing this and recommending the book to others.

We all receive plenty of good reviews but that never dilutes the pleasure of reading a new one.  It makes us want to shout about it from the rooftops because it validates all our hard work.  It means we've communicated with a reader in exactly the way we set out to achieve.

I had the great pleasure of experiencing that pinnacle of pleasure in a review I came across following a Google Alert last week on Romancing the Book  and that gave me the idea of doing something a little new with this blog.

I frequently post reviews of books I've read on this blog, but now I plan to open my Wednesday's Writer feature to any author who has received a great review that has afforded them real pleasure.  It doesn't have to be a recent release.  All I need from authors is an email with:

 a copy of the review, with its link, so we can acknowledge it correctly
the blurb and buy link 
a brief author bio and 
jpegs of the author and the cover of the title in question.

I hope it will be a great opportunity to spread the word about good books that bring readers pleasure and for us all to share that moment of happiness you felt when you first read that special review.

Please send your email to

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Seductive Malevolence: In Defense of Evil - A Response by Tara Fox Hall

I'm very happy this week to welcome the wonderful Tara Fox Hall and let her air her controversial views on the way evil is portrayed in modern fiction.  Over to Tara.

My good friend and fellow author Jenny Twist makes the argument that looking for reasons for true evil, as in mass murderers, takes the emphasis away from the victims. I agree that we need to acknowledge the evil in our world. I also agree that evil in our society is being downplayed from a simple and straightforward nemesis of good into a more sophisticated concept, usually of a flawed human’s words or actions.  Any rationale given in defense of human evil gives no basis for a lessening of punishment, a kinder view of evil men or women, or acceptance of their deeds.  I am no friend of evil, of serious criminals, and a strong believer in capital punishment. So why do I find myself cheering on Hannibal Lecter? 

I addressed this issue once before as part of a paper co-written by my husband, “The Allure of the Serial
Killer,” published in Serial Killers: Being and Killing.  The conclusion was that our society is so beset by rules and regulations that we embrace the freedom offered by the sort of antihero that regularly breaks them with aplomb, such as Walter White, the hero of TV series Breaking Bad. Even classic villains such as The Wicked Witch of the West and Maleficent are now being transformed into more than an antagonist we love to hate. Simple black-to-the-soul evil is easy to recognize and abhor, but is almost never found in real life. Literature also has no power to physically hurt us. Realistic evil is complex and potentially deadly, which makes it much more dangerous. If we learn from fiction about evil—and how to deal with it—wouldn’t it be better to have truly complex villains, so we are not swayed by the intricacies of mortal monsters when we run across them in real life?

Enter the most famous evil seducers in fiction, the vampires of today’s literature. This new century predator has become a romantic hero. He’s a born killer who can’t help his desires—and might not even want to. He’s got a gift for one-liners, a ruthless possessive nature, and a mile-wide black streak in his otherwise white soul to keep the long nights interesting. I say bring him on! Who wants a simple monster doomed to die at the end of the tale, or a boring hero too perfect to feel comfortable with? I want my rogue villain who can seduce me with a single look, a few choice softly spoken words, and the brush of fangs in his passionate kiss, even as he saves me from the banality of my everyday life. 

About Tara Fox Hall
Tara Fox Hall’s writing credits include nonfiction, erotica, horror, suspense, action-adventure, children’s stories, and contemporary and historical paranormal romance. She is the author of the paranormal fantasy Lash series and the paranormal romantic drama Promise Me series. Tara divides her free time unequally between writing novels and short stories, chainsawing firewood, caring for stray animals, sewing cat and dog beds for donation to animal shelters, and target practice. All of her published children’s stories to date are free reads on