Animation by Kayelle Allen at The Author's Secret

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wednesday's Writer - Susan Hughes

I'm always interested in meeting new (to me) writers so am quite excited to welcome this week's guest, Canadian writer Susan Hughes, and find out more about her and her writing and in particular her latest release Sense of Touch.  As usual, I gave her a bit of a grilling about her writing generally to start with, but firstly, here's a little bit about the author in her own words:

"Nothing gets my heart pumping like a good love story with absorbing emotion, plenty of passion, and an old-fashioned happy ending. That’s why I started writing romance novels, and I’m excited to share these stories with you. Set mainly in Canada, my novels explore the extraordinary thrill of finding that special someone and falling head over heels in love. I hope you’ll enjoy reading them as much as I did writing them.

I live in Ottawa, Ontario, with my husband and three children".

Q: What inspired you to write your first novel and did you always know your genre would be romance?
A: As a teenager I started out writing young adult novels, but I never finished any. About 10 years ago I decided to try romance and really clicked with the genre.

Q: You describe your writing as 'Sweet with a touch of heat' - does this reflect what you like to read yourself or do you have specific views on what should and shouldn't be included in romance novels?
A: I definitely favour an old-fashioned love story centering on the emotional connection between two characters. I also like a bit of spice thrown in. But a romance with any level of sensuality can be satisfying if well crafted.

Q: Has any part of yourself crept into the heroines of any of your romances?
A: Sure. My heroines are usually bolder than I am, but they share some of my insecurities. And they are always very focused on family, as I am.

Q: What is the most desirable characteristic you've bestowed on the hero of your latest romance?
A: My heroes tend to be sensitive types because that’s what appeals to me. Sean has lost his eyesight and his entire family. He’s frustrated and bitter, with good reason, but he maintains a strong sense of integrity and I think his warmth and compassion make him likeable.

Q: Do you think you'll always write in the same genre and style or do you have desires to experiment and if so, in what way?
A: Sense of Touch is my first historical romance (set in 1923), so I have already branched out from my usual genre of contemporary romance.  It was a difficult challenge but I enjoyed delving into a past era.  The sequel I'm working on takes place in 1947 so I'm currently researching that time period.

I know from experience that it takes courage to make genre departures, Susan, so I wish you the very best of luck with this.

Sense of Touch is available from:

In the wake of the Halifax Explosion in 1917, the sense of loss was overwhelming. The blast destroyed Amy’s home and killed her parents, while Sean lost his eyesight and the little sister he’d promised to protect. In the midst of disaster Amy and Sean found each other, if only briefly, as she helped him escape the destruction of the city.

Another chance encounter reunites them in 1923. Amy’s scars and her need for security have led her to consider marrying a man she doesn’t love—until the touch of Sean’s hand sparks a desire for something more.

As their friendship blossoms into a passionate affair, Sean finds hope and strength in Amy’s arms—but as he struggles to find a sense of purpose without his sight, can love alone mend the deepest wounds of the heart?

As the first few notes of music reached her ears, Amy’s breath caught and her body stiffened. She didn’t know the name of the tune, but it often played in her head as she drifted to sleep at night—the tinkling, bell-like notes of a bright, lilting melody. A wave of cold dread gripped her, driving the air from her lungs as her heart swelled against the walls of her chest.

The jewellery store began to tilt wildly and she felt the floor shudder under her feet. She gripped the edge of the display case, knowing the sensation wasn’t real—the explosion had happened over five years ago—but she couldn’t help it. The memories imprinted on her brain had a way of flooding over her in an instant, too rapidly for her to resist them.

Finally she drew a deep breath, and as the room swam back into focus she became aware that the source of the music wasn’t her memories, but someplace nearby.

Turning her head sharply toward the sound, she came to realize the wooden box on the counter was a music box, and at once she recognized it.

Her gaze raked over the backs of the couple standing there. The man was tall with a lean frame, his hair a dark swath between the brim of his fedora and the collar of his black raincoat. The woman was slim, wrapped in a fur-trimmed brown coat, her bobbed blonde tresses all but covered by a high cloche hat embellished with floral appliqu├ęs.

Her stomach tightening with a blend of fear and exhilaration, Amy inched along the display case, her gloves sliding over the edge of the glass as she made her way closer to the couple.

Once she had the man’s profile in view, she knew it was him—the boy she had met that awful day when she was just sixteen and he a year older—and her heart battered fiercely against her breastbone. She’d never seen his eyes, but she couldn’t mistake the elegant slope of his nose and chin, or even the long, slender fingers now gripping the music box.

At first she thought his eyes were downcast, focused on the box—but then realized his eyelids were closed, his cheeks wet. He pressed a lever on the box and the tune stopped abruptly.

Amy let her own eyes fall closed, and though the shop fell silent a dreadful sound filled her head—a remembered thundering roar, unleashing memories that swept through her as swiftly and violently as wildfire.

Well I have to say, that's done it for me!  I can't wait to read this.  Thank you, Susan and I wish you the very best of luck with Sense of Touch.

You can find out more about Susan and her writing at her website:

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Not-So-Sweet Side of E. Ayers! (With Download)

I'm bursting with excitement to have a wonderful person and one of my favourite authors, E. Ayers as my very special Sunday guest. And she comes armed with gifts - a FREE download for your Kindle of her excellent and rather daring latest novel Coming Out of Hiding.  You really should download this book - I've started reading it and think I'll be in for a few very late nights until I finish it.  Here's Elizabeth to tell us a little bit more about it and also her forthcoming release, A Son - which, for River City series fans, is an absolute must.

Author E. Ayers
Hi, Lynette. Thanks so much for having me. I love visiting with you and your blog followers. With Valentine's Day just a few weeks away, it's a perfect time to read a romance.

There's been so much going on since the last time I was here that I almost don't know where to start. But I think I'll start with Coming Out of Hiding. It's not my usual romance as there's a touch of unusual heat to this book. Max was the good son. He attended to the best schools, was a fine athlete, and went into the military just as all the men in his family had done for generations. But he was wounded while serving his country. And before he had chance to learn the family business from his father, his parents died. Scarred on over forty percent of his body, he hides from the world while he attempts to run a small aeronautical company from his home. That is until Tae comes into his life and slowly drags him out of hiding.

Does it sound like the typical wounded hero of a romance novel? It's not. Under the story, is a deeper one of two people who not only love each other, they must learn to cope with Max's erectile dysfunction as a result of scarring. Yes, it's a male problem, but it affects the intimate relationship for both.

I wasn't expecting it to create such a stir, but it has. Maybe if more people are aware of erectile dysfunction, they will be better prepared. As men age, their chances of facing ED increases. But it can happen to any man at any age for any number of reasons. It's not a how-to manual. It's a love story of two people who are willing to try to express their love.

My second bit of news is that my fifth River City novel A Son should be available the first week of February so watch for it. Drop me a note and I'll be sure to add you to my list, so I can let you know exactly when it will be available. It's in its final stages prior to being released. And the fun part about River City novels is they don't need to be read in order. The city is the glue that holds them together.

In A Son, Katie has a big problem. She wanted to spend her life with Joey and have a nice house in the suburbs, but that's not what he wanted. She figured if she were pregnant that he would marry her. Instead, he denied paternity and tossed her out. Dallas and Rick take her in.

Katie has been pulled by her divorced parents her entire life. She's tired of it, and wants to stand on her own two feet to raise her son. She also realizes that being pregnant has given another responsibility, her health and the health of the baby. She needs to learn to eat right, and get more exercise. Both her parents are headed for a heart attack at an early age, and they have passed their lousy eating habits onto her. She has to make some major changes.

Falling in love with Gerald isn't an option when she's carrying another man's baby, but that's not stopping Gerald from falling in love with her. To make matters worse, she likes him more than she should. Especially, after she accepts his offer of being a gym partner for three months.

Gerald is the perfect Mr. Right, tall, blond, and blue-eyed, with plenty of money. But this is her mistake, and her child that she'll raise. Besides, she isn't about to let Gerald ruin his reputation by being seen with a pregnant female.

Joey's intelligent and very handsome. He has his life planned out, and it didn't include Katie or a baby. Yet he refuses to sign the paperwork releasing him from all rights to the child. Plus, there is one more piece to this story. Joey's mom is half Black.

So as you can see, I've been busy this month. I'm also working on a sweet historical western, The Diary of Clare Coleman that is mentioned in A Snowy Christmas in Wyoming. It's not exactly a glamorous life I'm leading when most of the day is spent at the keyboard.

Coming Out of Hiding is FREE through Jan 27 at Amazon.

Excerpt from Coming Out of Hiding:

"Your hand," Tae said putting her own out to Max. "Take it out."
"No," he said with sadness in his voice. "I’m sorry you had to see it."
"Don’t be that way. Please. I really didn’t see it."
"You don’t need to see it." His eyes narrowed and he shook his head.
"Yes, I do, because if I see it then you won’t have to hide it anymore."
"Ms. Harris, it was badly burned, I try to keep it hidden."
"Please, give me your hand," she said calmly, her eyes now focused on his pocket.
"It’s disgusting."
"Sir, I know all about disgusting. I’ve lived with it all my life. Your hand," she demanded. Slowly, his hand slid out of his pocket. Her heart thumped. Eww! Timidly, she took what was left of the disfigured and color-mottled hand in hers. She studied it for a moment and then gazed into his pretty golden brown eyes. "Does it still hurt?"
"Only the pinky finger on occasion," he countered with a crooked smile.
She glanced at his hand, caught his joke, and giggled. She could see the wide smile spread across his face. Turning his hand over in hers, she asked, "What remains still works?"
"Yes," he said and flexed his remaining fingers.
"Good, so stop hiding it. I really don’t mind that it’s scarred and missing fingers." She ran her other hand over the disfigured one. "It’s amazingly soft." She gave him back his hand. "Is that why you’re a recluse?"
"It plays a part," he said.
"And the limp? Does that have anything to do with what happened to your hand?"


Excerpt from A Son:

“Gerald has been trying to reach you all afternoon,” Dallas said.
“He’s so nice to me. I’m going to really miss him.”
“What are you talking about?”
“He’s not going to want to be my friend in a couple of months. Guys like that don’t want to hang around with someone who is pregnant.”
“You still haven’t told him?” Dallas loaded the grocery items onto the conveyer belt.
“No. We’re just friends. Don’t try to read something into the relationship. I promised him I’d be his gym partner for three months. I figure by then I’ll probably be showing, so that will end whatever we have in the way of a relationship.”
Dallas shook her head. “Gerald doesn’t sound as though he just wants a gym partner. Gym partners don’t panic when they can’t reach one another. I think he really likes you.”
Katie nodded. “I like him, maybe too much.”
Dallas frowned and said, “Then don’t keep this pregnancy from him. Secrets and half-truths will do more to ruin a relationship than anything else.”
“It’s not like it’s his baby. My relationship with Joey might have been a big mistake, but I can’t dismiss this baby as one. Selena raised her son, and I’m going to raise this child. There’s a daycare on campus, and I’ve already registered. Now really, what do you think is going to happen when Gerald finds out I’m having another guy’s baby?”
“I don’t know, but you do need to tell him before it becomes obvious. If he really is your friend, he’s going to stick by you. If he’s not, then it isn’t worth wasting the time to be with him.”

About the Author: 

Born and raised with wealth, E. Ayers turned her back on all of it and married her prince charming a few days after her eighteenth birthday. Her family disowned her, and her friends were shocked. A firm believer in love conquering everything, she never looked back. The love she and her husband shared became the springboard for her novels.

Fascinated with the way people deal with everyday problems, E Ayers has always been an observer and a listener. A simple problem for one person is a mountain for another. She utilizes those common predicaments, which is why her books touch so many lives.

Today, she spends most of her free time writing while living in a pre-Civil War home with her two dogs and a cat. Rattling around in an old money pit gives her muse plenty of freedom. Her idea of a perfect day is to spend it at the keyboard of her computer, coffee in hand, and everything in the house actually working as it should. She's the official matchmaker for all the characters who wander through her brain, and she likes finding just the right ones to create a story.

She adores hearing from her fans and can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and at her website.

@ayersbooks  (Twitter)

Thanks, Elizabeth.  It's always a huge pleasure to welcome you to my blog and to hear about your excellent books. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Wednesday's Writer - Elysa Hendricks

I'm very pleased today to introduce the very talented Elysa Hendricks and find out a bit more about her latest contemporary fantasy romance Cupid's Apprentice.  Before we get onto that, however, I gave her a bit of a grilling about her writing in general and am sharing her responses to my questions below:

Q: What inspired you to write your first novel and did you always know your genre would be romance?
A: I've been writing for so long now I can't quite remember what "inspired" me to try writing a novel. I do remember my hubby teasing me about the number of romances I read, telling me I should write one myself. So one night I just sat down and started writing what I thought would be a short contemporary romance. When the heroine turned out to be a winged, telepathic alien who stows away on a passing Earth ship, I realized that while I loved romance, I also enjoyed stories with something "extra." That first book is hidden away under my bed guarded by killer dust bunnies.
Q:  Like me you seem to cross genres a little - does this reflect what you like to read yourself?
A: I'm a voracious reader. I'll read anything from historical non-fiction to bizarre futuristic fiction. Westerns to mysteries. Inspirational to fantasy. I tend to gravitate to stories that deal with people and their relationships, and I'm a sucker for a happily ever after ending, so it's not surprising that my books tend to be various sub-genres of romance. I have written straight sci-fi stories and have a children's series I've been mulling around in my head.
Q: When it comes to romance, do you have specific views on what should and shouldn't be included in romance novels?
A: As long as the story centers around people (m/f, m/m, f/f, etc.) falling in love, and includes a HEA or happy for now ending, I'm open to pretty much any flavor of romance.
Q: Has any part of yourself crept into the heroines of any of your romances?
A: I think most writers include parts of themselves in all of their characters, either the parts we have, the parts we wish we had, as well as the ones we wish didn't have.
Q: What is the most desirable characteristic you've bestowed on the hero of your latest romance?
A: I give all my heroes a sense of humor. That's what made me fall in love with my husband and has kept me in love with him for over forty years. Strength, honor, courage are all important in a hero, but without a sense of humor they don't appeal to me.
Q:  Do you think you'll always write in the same genre and style or do you have desires to experiment and if so, in what way?
A: I think I'll always write romance of some kind, but I also want to try other genres of fiction. Some of the fantasy and sci-fi ideas I have don't lend themselves to romance, and there's the children's series I want to do. I love trying new things, stretching and challenging myself - at least with my writing. In "real" life, not so much. :-) My motto is: Boring is good. Excitement is vastly overrated.

Thanks, Elysa.  Some thought-provoking answers there.

Now here's the blurb from Cupid's Apprentice:

To earn her wings, Cupid's apprentice Medarda "Dar" has until Valentine's Day to match two-time Loser Laura Quinn with Boring Brian Hoffman. When Dar's love arrow goes astray and hits the sexy PE teacher Flynn Sullivan instead things get interesting.

Laura loves teaching high school in the small town of Council Falls, but knows it's only a matter of time until her famous mother shows up and the quiet life she's created comes crashing down around her ears.

PE teacher Flynn Sullivan's been interested in the shy history teacher for a long time, but it isn't until they're forced to chaperone the Valentine's Day dance together that he gets the opportunity to make his dreams come true.

With time running out can one bumbling Cupid's Apprentice bring together a Jock and a Brain?

In the excitement of Rachelle's near fall and her reminiscing about her failed love life Laura missed the rest of Sarah's announcement. Laura sighed. The last thing she wanted to do was chaperone a couple hundred hormone driven teenagers, but once Sarah spoke there was no appeal. Even the district superintendent didn't try to override the woman.

"Guess we're stuck on love and booze patrol duty together," Flynn said.

"What?" Laura's head snapped up.

"I'm the other facility chaperone." His dark eyes sparkled with repressed humor, probably at the horrified expression she knew was on her face.

"That's nice."

"You know we'll have to coordinate with Sarah and the student committee about the refreshments and decorations?"

"Of course." Oh no! That meant hours spent in the man's disconcerting company. How would she keep from making a complete fool of herself?

"How about we get together tomorrow night to discuss things?"

Without thinking, Laura nodded. Tomorrow was Friday. They could meet in her classroom.

"It's a date then. Dinner at Max's." He mentioned the diner in town. "I'll pick you up at six"

A date? With Fabulous Flynn? In town? Where everyone would see them? The thought sent another wave of heat up her neck. Her lunch forgotten she ducked her head to avoid the laughter she knew lurked in the man's eyes and scrambled to her feet. "Yes. Right. Okay," she managed to mumble.

"That wasn't nice, Flynn." She heard Jared chide his friend.

"What did I say?"

Damn if the man didn't sound clueless. She bolted out of the room.

Well that certainly makes me want to read on, how about you?  Cupid's Apprentice is available from:

And here's a little bit more about the author:

Elysa Hendricks is 5'6" tall. She has brown eyes and curly hair. She's an author, a wife, a mother and a daughter. Everything else is subject to change without notice. If you want to know more about her books visit her at her web site: or on Facebook:

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Readers Writes - A Reader's Point of View

            When I decided to seek out readers and question them about their likes and dislikes, I always knew I would ask this particular reader to be my guest.  I know for a fact what an avid reader he's always been; I remember the pleasure of 'reading' picture storybooks with him at the tender age of one; the joy of reading The Elephant and the Bad Baby ten times a night for at least a month; the surprise of finding school books missing from my desk because he wanted to read what my students were reading - even if they were several years older than him; and the total delight of discussing 'real literature' with him from the age of 11 or 12 right up to the present.  Nowadays, however, we have very different reading preferences.  Of course you've guessed that today's reader is my wonderful and totally gorgeous son, Alexander.  I sent him my readers' questions and this is how he responded:

Did you have a favourite book or author as a child?
Without a doubt Terry Pratchett was my favourite author , although I couldn’t possibly pick out a favourite book from his enormous library of works. 
Do you have a treasured book from your childhood?  If yes, what is it?
             It's probably my signed copy of Terry Pratchett’s Moving Pictures.  The whole experience of meeting the author and listening to him give a talk beforehand is one I still remember 15 years later.  I was so impressed by it that it formed the basis of a presentation I delivered to my English class at school the following week.
What is your happiest reading memory?
               Probably discovering and reading The Princess Bride.  It was a book I'd picked up as a random tip from a friend on the internet.  It was a fantastic story and made me genuinely laugh out loud so many times while I was reading it.  It’s probably also one of the books I read in the shortest time – the curse of a good book…
What was the first book you remember reading independently and really enjoying?
               Michael Crichton’s The Lost World.  I had recently seen the film of Jurassic Park in the cinema and I wanted to know what happened next!
How important is reading in your life now?
               It’s still quite important to me.  I mostly like to pick out unusual authors that I’ve not read before, but I wish I had more time to read.  Having a kindle to sneakily hide on your desk at work is certainly a blessing in those dull moments, though.
Is there a fictional world you would love to visit or live in?
                  Any fantasy world dominated by wizards and warlocks who govern by strength of mind and will alone.  If I'm honest, I always feel short-changed that the world doesn’t operate in such black and white terms in reality!  I am however really impressed by the world in the Witcher short stories, written by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, for the way it subverted some of the common fantasy stereotypes and relished a darker approach to the world of magic
Do you think the young of today read enough, and if not, how might you try to encourage them to read more?
               Absolutely not.  I  think the main problem is the lack of variety in what is being read (if anything) by young people today, but at the same time there’s no way to ‘make’ people read; they either have to want to broaden their horizons or not.  Perhaps if the heroes of modern life didn’t make such a big deal out of not being academic or studying (the likes of sports ‘stars’ and so on) it might be easier to convince young people to engage in more intellectual pursuits (although merely suggesting that reading is in the domain of the intellectual is depressing to me!)
Do you have a favourite book or author as an adult?  If so, who/why and have you read it more than once?
               Neal Stephenson is definitely one of my favourite authors as an adult, now that I’ve read everything in Terry Pratchett’s back catalogue.  I can’t say I’ve ever read any book twice, though – there’s always too many more novels to read!  What I love about Neal Stephenson is his elaborate, slower style of prose that reminds me of older writing.  I enjoy more literary, flowing prose that has more in common with poetry than the modern style of writing that's intent on imparting information as soon as possible.
What are you currently reading and in what format (hardback, paperback, e-book)?
               Book 2 of the Mongoliad, which is an historical fiction e-book written by 7 different authors.  The aim is to tell the story of the fall of the Mongol empire in Europe from a split perspective of various Mongol courtiers and European Christian knights.
Do you think e-books will ever totally replace printed books?
               To be honest, no.  There will always be people who want to collect books almost as works of art in themselves, and I think the likes of graphic novels, manuals and technical textbooks will often be more convenient in book format than on devices like kindles.  For the consumer market though, I think it’s likely that e-books will only continue to grow as a market… for as long as people still read, that is.
Do you think books transfer to films well?  What is your favourite/worst book-to-film transfer?
               Not really.  There are a few books that really work as films – The Princess Bride is one such example – but having someone else do the thinking for you really reduces the enjoyment I can get out of a film if I’ve already read the associated novel.
Do you think there is anything new and exciting in modern fiction, or has it "all been said before"?
There are definitely new works in fiction but they are becoming increasingly esoteric in their approach.  My favourite example is House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski which layers 3 different narrative levels together into one cohesive piece.  At its basic it’s easily dismissed as a haunted house/horror story, but the way that story is told is original and intensely clever.  On the other hand, I don’t think written fiction will push boundaries very easily as long as it is so mainstream.  Comicbooks and graphic novels are on the fringe of the medium (and largely dismissed by the mainstream) which allows them to be very ‘modern’ and cutting edge.  Since the vast majority of authors don’t enjoy the luxury of brand loyalty they tend to stray away from being overly quirky or unusual in case prospective readers are put off. 

            Thanks Alex for making time in your busy schedule to answer my questions about your reading likes and dislikes and providing such thought-provoking answers.

            If you're an avid reader and would like to feature in my Readers Writes spot, I'd love to hear from you.  Just drop me an email and I'll send you my list of questions - how many and which ones you choose to answer is entirely up to you!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Wednesday's Writer - Jan Ruth (with a special gift for you)

It's a well-known fact that America has some of the biggest and best of everything, including writers - and some of my personal favourites come from over the pond.  However, it's always a special thrill for me to discover a really excellent British writer and early last year, I did exactly that when I discovered Jan Ruth.  Her novel, Wild Water was one of the best stories I read during 2012 and I suspect it now has a permanent place in my top ten all-time favourite novels.

Jan lives in North Wales and writes contemporary, romantic women's fiction. Love stories with strong, identifiable characters. Her feel for the Welsh landscape is evident in all of her books. Her style has been described as between two genres - not light enough for romance but not literature either - it sits somewhere between the two. Her books convey some serious threads with a good blend of humour, a balance of light and dark. Different from the majority of romance in that she often writes from the male perspective.

Last month Jan produced an anthology of short stories titled The Long and the Short of It.  This is available FREE from Smashwords. It's a collection of five short stories, followed by a full chapter from each of Jan's three full length novels.  That's over thirty thousand words of humour, the complications of relationships and the poignancy of love - and all free!

My Review of The Long and the Short of It

Now I have to confess, I'm generally not a great fan of short stories but being such a great fan of Jan Ruth's longer novels, I was therefore very pleased when I saw she had brought out this anthology.  The collection contains five stories based around people who have reached a certain crossroads in their lives.  People who need to find space to reacquaint themselves with their inner person and make the right decision about the future.  And as usual, the physical space is provided in the shape of the wild and wonderful Welsh landscape.  In Jan Ruth's stories this landscape becomes almost a character in its own right.

Against this dramatic backdrop we meet Frankie, torn between the decision to forge a new life with Clara or pick up the pieces of his shattered life with Ella; the selfless Pattie, whose birthday candles illuminate more than just the cake and Tom in my favourite story, A Piece of Cake, who takes responsibility for sixteen rambler-pensioners who lead him to a turning point in his life.  There is also the rather haunting story of Mari, half a twin coping with tragedy in a mysterious way and the final (almost a flash-fiction piece) involving Sylvia an abandoned wife who almost manages to convince herself that solitude is a desirable state. 

All Jan Ruth's characters live and breathe in their realistic complexity, but I always find her male characters more interesting and better developed than her female ones.  I found myself wanting to know much more about Frankie and Tom than the rest in this collection and wishing those stories were longer. I awarded this collection 4.5 cute cats:

If you haven't discovered Jan Ruth for yourself yet, then download this collection and I promise, like me, you'll be hooked.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Reader Writes - All About Books From a Reader's POV

Being a former English teacher, of course I've always been interested in people's reading experiences.  Now that I'm a writer, I'm even more fascinated to hear what books and reading mean to people.  I therefore thought I'd run a series of posts inviting readers, rather than writers, to talk about their likes and dislikes and what they look for when reading purely for pleasure.

I'm delighted to introduce my first guest, Ruth Sherrington, who is a dear friend and former teaching colleague of mine and therefore also has a keen interest in reading and strong views on the subject.  So, over to Ruth for...

A Reader's Point of View

The Buttercup Fairy by Barbara Campbell
I have always been a keen reader, and in fact I remember the nursery school principal being rather displeased with my mother because I was already reading fluently by the time I went there which meant that I was way out of step with their teaching schedule!  I particularly remember a book I loved called ‘The Buttercup Fairy’ which was about a fat fairy (I was rather round when I was little), but when I got older I started to read historical novels by writers such as Henry Treece and Rosemary Sutcliff which I absolutely loved.  I used to disappear into books and just not emerge until I had got to the end.  I read all of the Tolkien ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy before I was twelve, and have continued to read just as much all my life.  I have some favourite authors now, who include Graham Greene, D H Lawrence, George Orwell, Evelyn Waugh and Anne Bronte, but as I teach about books for a living I read widely and have learnt to appreciate the craft of all kinds of writers from Jilly Cooper to Jane Austen.  I often read ‘chick-lit’ for relaxation and I think it serves a useful social purpose by providing a kind of harmless escapism – much better than most of the films released nowadays, which I find are not often directed towards women’s concerns and issues.

Colin Firth as Mr Darcy
Filmed versions of novels don’t usually appeal to me because I believe that the reader works with the author to create the characters in his/her own mind, but I did enjoy the Colin Firth ‘Pride and Prejudice’, and also the Keira Knightley version, rather against my better judgement! 

I do think that reading is a matter of personal choice and that forcing children to read is counter-productive but that all little children should be read to (and with) from babyhood onwards, as I truly believe that this is where literacy begins and that it should be a birthright for all children.  I may be wrong but I think the huge increase in diagnoses of dyslexia may be connected to the fact that children are not so often encouraged to love and listen to words on the page from an early age.

To me e-books don’t really have the magic of paper books but I still find my e-reader really useful for downloading books when I need to read at short notice, for example when I get into bed and have nothing to read before I sleep.  But then I am the kind of person who reads the back of cornflake packets rather than have nothing to read, so I am a bit of a hopeless case when books are not available. 

Will Self
Toni Morrison
I really enjoy finding out how modern writers are taking the novel forward and have particularly enjoyed reading the work of Will Self and Toni Morrison in recent years – in fact my ideal literary dinner party guests would definitely include those two writers, the lovely Lyn Sofras and all the others mentioned above plus about thirty others, so I think I had better book a room at the Dorchester to fit them all in!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Wednesday's Writer - Victoria Pinder

Now that Christmas is over, I suppose Valentine's Day is the next big event we can look forward to.  I know it's one I'm looking forward to as I have a big party organised and for me a party is always a great excuse to abscond from boring domestic chores and let professional cleaners and caterers take control of my house.  Well someone needs to!  I'm not  saying I'm lazy but I'd far rather be writing or chatting to writer friends than dusting shelves and polishing silver!

And today I'm getting myself into the mood for the season of romance by welcoming romance writer Victoria Pinder to my blog.  Victoria also writes science fiction and fantasy as Greta Buckle. She grew up in Irish Catholic Boston before moving to the Miami sun. She worked in engineering, then became a lawyer. After realizing she hated clients, she became a high school teacher. Teaching was fun, but writing was her passion. She wrote one hundred and one fan fiction stories online before deciding to transition into writing her own stories. Never ask her to republish her fan stories from age eleven- horribly written stories of princesses!  Victoria dreams of writing professionally, where her barista can make her coffee and a walk on the beach can motivate her tales. Theseus story came to her when she was a freshman in high school as her English teacher,a nun, told her how life was hard and tragedy teaches lessons. Victoria’s love of writing has kept her centered and focused. How is she crazy? The voices in her head are characters in novels and she’s not insane.

Returning for Valentine's Day is a short contemporary romance which is now available from Amazon.


Everyone deserves to find love on Valentine’s Day.

Beth Corsini loved Nathan all her life. Last year, at her friend’s wedding, everything changed. Nathan disappeared. She lost all hope in love, but she’s over the heartache. Ready to move on, Beth signed up for a speed dating event. She never expected Nathan to be there.
Nathan never thought Beth was serious about him, and she never acted like she cared one way or the other. But when he heard she broke up with her boyfriend, Roberto, he decided to to go for it. Beth’s been the love of his life, all his life. Can he convince her on Valentine’s Day to marry him? Can she ignore his mother’s disapproval and accept love matters more?  

Intrigued?  I know I am, so here's an excerpt from Returning for Valentine's Day:

Valentine’s Day should not be spent alone. Everyone deserves love.

Beth Corsini applied one more layer of her ruby red lipstick and glanced in the mirror. She looked good. She finished brushing her sandy brown locks. Valentine’s Day beckoned.
Her phone rang. Beth picked up the phone as she stared at her dress one last time. “Hello,” she said.
“I am so sorry I can’t go.” Her friend Nellie’s voice came through the line. “Work sucks.”
“I’m going alone then. Valentine’s Day signals my start to the new year.”
“Okay, I hope you find your true love.”
Nathan. Every Valentine’s Day, and every other day, she pictured him in her head. But he always said no. She shook her head. “Whoever I meet tonight, it doesn't matter. Every single woman over the age of twenty-five should go to one of these eight-minute date things in her life. No one is in my house besides the Dark Lord, Squiggles. I need to go out.”
“Call me and let me know.”
Beth hung up the phone. Sitting at home tonight would haunt her forever. New life, new adventures. Her New Year’s motto rang in her ears. She needed to go out after work.
She pet the Dark Lord, found her spiked silver heels, ran through her mental checklist one more time, and drove to the event on Main Street at the local bar she rarely visited.
               She was early on purpose to give her time to scope out the venue. If she stayed home, she’d have talked herself out of going, poured wine, and thought about how Nathan never cared about her. Better to go and see how speed dating worked, and form a battle plan. She sat at the corner of the small country bar, a band setting up on the stage to the right. An open floor where a large group could  laugh and line dance.
Beth squirmed uncomfortably. The lights were more flashy than she had expected, and the line dancing unique. Growing up in the big city made her sound more uptown than she was.  Country did not mean she had to be scared. She walked to the bar and asked in a squeaky voice, “I’ll have a vodka tonic.”
               The bartender hadn’t even noticed her nervousness.
Scanning the room while she waited for service, she saw happy couples ignoring the world. Lucky them. Cowboy hats filled the place. Who knew so many people lived on the Broward and Miami border town? South Florida never equaled country, not to Beth.
Her drink arrived, and she pulled out her credit card. The man nodded at her and returned to the register. She noticed the sign on the back room upstairs with the words, ‘Singles Club.’ Putting her drink in her mouth, she took a breath.
Her turn.
New life.
She signed the receipt, put her card away in her coach bag, and picked up the glass. Someone watched her, and her body perked with excitement. Nathan? No--impossible. 
Her eyes raced through the group, looking around for anyone who might know her. No one met her eyes. Gathering her courage, she walked up the stairs to the private rooms.
               Once in the singles room, Beth grabbed a seat near the door, watching the women enter. The men must be in a different room. She glanced around. The women all appeared to be much older than her. Guess Prince Charming wouldn’t arrive after all, but Beth intended to enjoy the evening. She'd paid to have a few dates, speak to men, and then she would go home.
               Ten minutes later, some young woman, might be a teenager, pinned the number seven to her chest, and gave the women a pep talk on speed dating and how it fits into today's singular lifestyle. One woman pulled her to the side when they were all told what table to go to, and told Beth, “I’m so excited for tonight.”
               “Why?” Beth had no hopes for tonight other than to not think about Nathan. “It’s just a few eight minute dates.”
               “I met my husband, Jeffrey, at one of these events twenty years ago.” The woman wiped a tear from her eye.
               “Then why are you here if you are married?” Beth let the question fly out of her mouth.
               “Jeffrey died last year.” Once again, Beth put her foot in her mouth.
               “I’m so sorry.”
               “It’s okay, dear. Jeffrey told me to go to more of these events, to both find love and be there for when other women find theirs.”
               The teenager moved her hands to get them to sit. Beth smiled at the woman. At least love came for some people. “It’s a sweet thought from a sweet person.”
               The woman smiled and walked away to her seat.
               Guess hope survived for some. Beth had lost any hope after her friend’s wedding where she'd let her guard fall, and she let her crush for Nathan destroy her. Having sex with a man she secretly craved with every part of her soul, then having him walk away was a pain, Beth never wished on anyone. 
Beth had been wrong. Having sex with him could never be casual. After years of not telling him how she'd always loved him, drinking too much at a party made her lose control. In the morning, she had tried to pretend to be normal, but he became quiet and left. She never saw him again. She waited till she arrived home to cry, but she'd lost everything, including her best friend that night.
Shaking Nathan needed to happen. New Year. New life. Her short term ex-boyfriend had been all wrong for her. Why was she still so hung up on Nathan? She had come to the bar tonight to start moving in the right direction. The ‘single mingle’ room allowed for complete privacy from the rest of the club, so unless someone paid the admission price, no one would find out she was here.
The band played softly downstairs, giving the room a nice ambiance. Fixing her hair one more time, she waited for the men to arrive. She felt too nervous to even drink her vodka.
A bell rang indicating the speed dating had begun. Pasting a smile on her face, she’d see what fate had in store.

Well that has certainly got me gagging for more!  It sounds intriguing, Victoria and I wish you the very best of luck with this story.

Visit Victoria online at:
Authors Website:

YouTube Trailer:

Monday, January 7, 2013

Solomon's Compass by Carol Kilgore - Cover Reveal

Firstly, Happy New Year wishes to everyone!  Let's hope 2013 will bring us all happiness, good health and considerable success.

I'm so excited about introducing Carol Kilgore and her new release, Solomon's Compass, that I'm bringing my Wednesday's Writer spot forward this week.  I first 'met' Carol many years ago, when the internet was in its infancy and we belonged to the same critique group.  I hope she won't mind me revealing that her user name was 'Osogreat' - a name which stuck  firmly in my mind because that's exactly what she was.  She wrote many excellent and award-winning short stories for a variety of publications.

We would read and critique each other's work, which was pure joy to me because she wrote so well and I remember her wonderful stories very clearly.  I learned so much about the craft of writing from her and owe a great deal to her for all the patient help, support and encouragement she gave me in my writing struggles.

Over the years Carol and I lost touch, apart from the usual Christmas card exchange, until about a year ago when, to my huge delight, I came across her again on one of the social network sites and we became reacquainted.  If you haven't done so already, I recommend you check out her full novel: In Name Only and the short which inspired it: Never Say My Name 

Carol is an award-winning author of several published short stories and many essays and articles. Solomon’s Compass is her second novel, a blend of mystery, suspense, and romance she calls Crime Fiction with a Kiss – always at least one crime; always a love story. Carol and her Coast Guard husband live in San Antonio, Texas, with two herding dogs that like nothing better than pack time on the patio.

You can find Carol here:

About Solomon's Compass

Taylor is in Rock Harbor, Texas, on a quest to unearth her uncle’s treasure—a journey far outside the realm of her real life. There’s one glitch. Taylor's certain the buried treasure was all in Uncle Randy's dementia-riddled mind. Now he’s dead.

Former SEAL Jake Solomon is in Rock Harbor under false pretenses to protect Taylor from the fate that befell her uncle and the other members of a tight circle of Coast Guardsmen called the Compass Points who served together on Point boats in Vietnam.

Jake is definitely not supposed to become involved with Taylor. That was his first mistake. Taylor is attracted to Jake as well, but she refuses to wait for him to locate the killer when she knows her plan will force her uncle’s murderer into action.

But the killer's actions are just what Jake is afraid of.

Now doesn't make you want to rush straight out and buy this book?  You will be able to do so on April 2nd - make a note of that date!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Now released - Killing Jenna Crane by Lynette Sofras

I've been holding my breath since November, waiting to release my latest offering, which is something of a genre-departure for me in that it is not simply about romance.  I always planned that the story would be about a writer but initially this was going to be rather different, though my main character was always going to be male and involved with two women.

In fact Ellis Crawford is actually involved with three women - one being the character of his novels, the eponymous Jenna Crane for whom he has mixed feelings.  She's a 'feisty female detective' (which, incidentally, was my working title!) whose adventures have propelled Ellis to the dizzy heights of success as an author and screenwriter after Hollywood bought up the film rights to the Jenna Crane mystery series and made her a household name.  

But success has not made Ellis a nice or likeable person and try as I might, I could not write him in many redeeming features.  He's a rather selfish and egotistical commitment-phobe who treats women quite badly.  When Chloe enters his life and is prepared to worship him for the rest of hers, he recognises at once that "It would take a certain type of man to use her and then cast her aside.  A man without a conscience." But that doesn't stop Ellis from doing exactly that.

But is Ellis a man without a conscience?  The fact that after he dumps her, he's unable to put her out of his mind seems to suggest otherwise and his relationship with Chloe's successor, the amazing Emily, does not run smoothly at all.  Nor is this helped by the fact that Emily thinks Ellis is wasting his talents writing trashy pulp fiction and that he should kill off Jenna Crane and turn his mind to more serious literary endeavours.

The Blurb:

Killing Jenna Crane is not a story about a murder, but a dark journey inside a writer's mind.  Commitment-shy Ellis Crawford, creator of the famous and highly successful Jenna Crane mystery series, finds his comfortable life swept away when he meets Emily, his perfect woman. 

Despite his deepening love for Emily, Ellis finds himself haunted by painful memories of a previous love whose heart he broke, and begins to regret his past behaviour.  On top of that, Emily wants him to kill off his beloved heroine Jenna Crane - against fierce public opinion.

But life is too short for regrets and when his own rapidly spirals out of control, taking his reputation as an author with it, where will Ellis turn for help?

It is available from Amazon from today.