Animation by Kayelle Allen at The Author's Secret

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Hot Off the Press and Highly Recommended - Torn by Gilli Allan (@gilliallan)

It's always thrilling to hear a success story in this business, especially when you know the author to be highly talented and deserving.  I've enjoyed Gilli Allan's books enormously, so was delighted to hear that after some years of being a self-published author, her work was spotted by Accent Press, snapped up and is now being republished.  

The first of these stories is Torn, published this week - and I highly recommend it.  If you like contemporary fiction, with an unconventional and edgy love story at its heart - you'll enjoy it too. 

Here is the blurb:

Jess has made a series of bad life choices and all have let her down.
Escaping London, she sets out to recreate herself in the idyllic countryside, and this time she wants to get it right! 

She wants to lead a responsible, tranquil life with her young son Rory, but soon discovers stresses which pull her in opposing directions – conflict over a new bypass, between friends, and worst of all, between lovers. 

Educated, experienced, and pragmatic, James is a widowed farmer whose opinions differ from, and enrage, Jess. His young shepherd, Danny, is an uneducated and inexperienced idealist. Jess is attracted to them both, and realizes if she wants her idyllic countryside life to survive, she must choose her Mr Right. 

Torn is now available from Amazon by clicking on this link.

Gilli Allan - Then and Now:

Gilli Allan started to write in childhood, a hobby only abandoned when real life supplanted the fiction. Gilli didn’t go to Oxbridge, but after just enough exam passes to squeak in, she attended Croydon Art College. 

She didn’t work on any of the broadsheets, in publishing or television. Instead she was a shop assistant, a beauty consultant and a barmaid before landing her dream job as an illustrator in advertising. It was only when she was at home with her young son that Gilli began writing seriously. She has had three books mainstream published - two further books will be published in 2015. 

Gilli has been a school governor, a contributor to local newspapers, and a driving force behind the community shop in her Gloucestershire village.  Still a keen artist, Gilli designs Christmas cards and produced the illustrations for the children’s book The Tale of King Harald -The Last Viking Adventure, which was published in 2014. 

Monday, December 1, 2014

A Highland Pearl by Brenda B Taylor - Release date December 2nd

Just in time for Christmas shopping, A Highland Pearl, is available at for $3.99. An ebook copy of the novel will be awarded to a commenter.

A sweet romance blossoms amidst feuding and war. With her reputation at stake after being accused of practising witchcraft and hated as a member of a rival clan, Maidie considers leaving Clan Munro and returning to the home of her birth in Clan Cameron. Fierce battles, a tragic encounter, and a handsome clan chief compel her to make crucial decisions in this haunting romance set in the 16th century Highlands of Scotland. 

A Highland Pearl, is the first novel in the Highland Treasures series. The story takes place in 1508 A.D. Scotland when clan chiefs ruled the highlands. Loyalty pledged to a clan chief meant provision and protection for the clansman, but in return rents were paid to support the chief and his family and service in the chief’s army was required of each able-bodied man. Within the walls of the great castles, intrigue and mystery reigned. Clans vied for land, livestock, and power. Fighting and reiving or stealing were prevalent, yet a gentler side with passion, love, romance, family and faith permeated the life of the Highlanders. A Highland Pearl tells about all aspects of life in the Highlands of Scotland.

Excerpt from A Highland Pearl

Andrew stood. He must tell Maidie how he felt. He took her chin into his hands and looked into azure eyes. First, he kissed the tip of her nose, then a freckle on both rosy cheeks, and at last he found her mouth with fervor. Maidie wrapped her arms around his neck while he embraced her, pulling her closer. She returned his kiss much to his amazement. Her moist lips pressed firmly against his. His lips left hers, planting kisses on her eyelids, around her face, down her neck, and then on her mouth once more. She tasted sweet like heather ale and smelled of roses. His heart ached with love for the lass. How could he let her go, now that he had just found her?
He lifted his head. She sank into his chest. “I love you, Maidie. With all my heart, I love you.” He said it with little difficulty, because his heart brimmed with a deep love he had never before experienced.
“I pledge my fealty and my heart to you, Laird Andrew Munro. With all my heart I love you,” she answered with her head tucked under his chin. 
He pushed away to look into her eyes. “I’ll come for you. No matter where you are.”
“I will be waiting.” Her eyes reflected the deep emotions of her heart like the black water of Cromarty Firth reflected the blue sky above.
“Come on, Munro, you’ve done enough love making. Time to get on with this exchange,” the leader of the guard commanded and nudged Andrew with his mount.
Stumbling, he released Maidie. The leader kept nudging him on. He looked back, but Maidie and Sven were surrounded by MacKenzie warriors and he could not see her. He took Briana from Colin as they walked to the grove where Gavin waited. Andrew pumped his fisted right arm into the air, calling out the Munro battle cry, “Caisteal F├árdach A Chaoidh.” An embrace from his brother with whoops, hollers, and returns of the war cry from his warriors followed. 
The mounted guard left Scara and Crag then turned back to the castle. Maidie and Sven had reached the gates. His men turned to ride back, and he watched the love of his life walk into the bailey of Castle Lach. God, take care of Maidie and the lad. Help me get her back.

About Brenda B. Taylor

The desire to write historical fiction has long been a passion with Brenda B. Taylor. Since elementary school, she has written stories in her spare time. Brenda earned three degrees: a BSE from Henderson State University, Arkadelphia, Arkansas; a MEd from Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas; and an EdD from Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas; then worked as a teacher and administrator in the Texas Public School system. Only after retirement could she fulfill the dream of publication. 

Brenda and her husband make their home in beautiful East Texas where they enjoy spending time with family and friends, traveling, and working in Bethabara Faith Ministry, Inc. She crafts stories about the extraordinary lives of ordinary people in her favorite place overlooking bird feeders, bird houses, and a variety of blooming trees and flowers. She sincerely thanks all who purchase and read her books. Her desire is that the message in each book will touch the heart of the reader as it did hers in the writing.

Read more about Brenda and her books at:
Buy A Highland Pearl

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Especially for you this Christmas: With Love - Three Romances Less Than Half Price

Released today:

If you know someone who likes to fill their Kindle with heart-warming romances, you won't want to miss this limited edition boxed set of three top contemporary romances, a special offer for Christmas and less than half price.

The three full length contemporary romances are:

The Apple Tree - Prism Book Group's (formerly Inspired Romance) 2011 competition winner.


Escaping from your past is never easy, as young hospital doctor Juliet discovers when she tries to start afresh, leaving both her marriage and her career behind.

Love blossoms rapidly when she meets the mysterious and forthright Nicholas, who seems to herald the new beginning she craves. The past quickly dissolves into insignificance as their all-consuming romance propels them forward but Juliet has to learn the price of happiness in the cruellest way possible.

Will she be able face the painful roots of her past in order for her future to grow strong and healthy?

Wishful Thinking, which reached #1 on Amazon UK for contemporary romance.


A high-speed blow-out two days before Christmas in the fast lane of a busy motorway! Miraculously, Jess and her young son escape almost-certain death. 

Then, like another miracle, Jess encounters Christian Goodchild, famous pop star turned Hollywood A-lister and a man most women only ever meet in their dreams.  Both are touched by the enchantment of the moment, leaving them longing for more.

But Christian is enmeshed in a relationship so damaging that Jess doubts their love can survive in the glamorous but complex world of celebrity. Could it all turn out to be just wishful thinking?


Love can find you in the strangest places - but it's never for sale!

They meet - of all places - buying tomatoes in the supermarket and there’s no denying the attraction is mutual.  But Greg, a software developer, is still raw from his painful divorce and Emma, his children’s teacher, is recovering from her own heartache.  Then the reappearance of Emma's career-obsessed ex-boyfriend and Greg's spiteful ex-wife threatens to kill their new love before it has even begun.

Is Emma’s love strong enough to survive Greg’s demanding past and the threats to both their careers?  What will be the cost of falling in love in a world where everything comes with a high price tag?

You can click on the individual titles or covers for readers' reviews on these stories, but remember that this gift set will only be available for a limited period, at less than half price.  My special Christmas gift for you, With Love.

Buy With Love on Amazon (US)
Buy With Love on Amazon (UK)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Review: Candlepower by Janet Doolaege

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of having Janet Doolaege as a guest blogger. I had only read one of her books at that time, but have since rectified this deficiency in my reading and here is my review of Candlepower:

Having read and enjoyed A Paris Haunting by the same author last year, I was very pleased to come across Candlepower while browsing favourite authors on Amazon. I downloaded it and began reading it almost at once, finding myself rapidly drawn in to the intriguing story.

Narrated by Stella, all events are filtered through her consciousness, but as seems to happen with Doolaege's novels, the POV character takes something of a back seat in order to turn the spotlight on other characters. There are some marvellous characters in Candlepower, though none more delightful than Rose. Of course, the other thing this author does so well is evoke the atmosphere of a Paris unseen by tourists, making the reading a satisfying, visual experience.

The question of who and what Rose is permeates the entire story. She's an ethereal being and I spent a lot of time wondering if she was meant to be real. She lives alone in a Paris apartment opposite Stella, teaching and playing beautiful music, creating exquisite patchwork quilts by candlelight (she shuns electricity) and talking to the birds.

It is when Stella's canary, Topaz escapes through the window that Stella first meets Rose. Unable the resist the attraction Rose has over all living creatures, Topaz leaves his tree and flies into her hands, and that's the beginning of a rather haunting friendship.

There is a beautiful poignancy about the way this story unfolds around the two almost-tragic females who find friendship in a world in which they are both slightly out of kilter. Bilingual Stella escapes from an overbearing mother, academic father, not-too-loveable brother and an unhappy love affair, into a Paris apartment she purchases with her beloved grandmother's legacy. She yearns to love and be loved and after meeting Rose, embarks on another love affair with Rose's friend, Olivier, ignoring all the hints that her fragile heart is again at serious risk.

Of Rose, Stella tells her father, "People are drawn to her, but somehow they're scared of her at the same time." This sums up everyone's attitude towards the tormented Rose and the reader longs to know more about her and for the other characters to understand and accept this strange and rather wonderful creature in the same way the birds do with their unquestioning adoration.

It's always difficult, when writing a review, to say enough to interest other readers but not too much to give away 'spoilers', so I'm reluctant to say more about the events and mar the reading experience for others. And it's a reading experience I highly recommend. When I wasn't reading it, I was thinking about it and when I was reading, I was mesmerised by the often grim Parisian atmosphere and the colourful, diverse characters. The story is beautifully told and weaves a magical spell that held me enthralled from beginning to end. Read it - enjoy the magic.

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.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Winner Takes All - 28 Great Books up for Grabs

Scroll to the bottom to enter to win all 28 ebooks! There's a little of everything, for a total of over $85 worth of ebooks. Winner takes all!

summoned_cover_final_bigger the forever girl sunbolt magicless misfortune the polaris uprising the zodiac collectr prophecy girl no good deed his source hidden gene cards fearless and feminine famine echoes fairy texas robot awareness sac sex ray specs copper ravens carnies redcap baba ali a home for jesse radiant shadows killing jena crane tort wally

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Alicia Dean shows you how to Find the Magic

Award winning author and editor, Alicia Dean, shares her process of creating a story, along with bonus tips in Find The Magic – How to Plot a Story in 10 Easy Steps.

*** ON SALE - 99¢ through November 15, 2014 ***

How to write a novel? That is the question. There are probably as many answers to that question as there are people who ask it. 

Wanting to write and actually doing it are two very different things. I am well acquainted with the sometimes grueling process of churning out a story. Over the years, I have tried many methods for creating and completing manuscripts, and have tweaked and honed it down to a workable (for me) process. 

Using specific examples from one of my own novels, Without Mercy, I share my method in this mini how to book. The first eight steps actually deal with plotting while the last two are designed to help expand your outline into a well-developed draft. There is no one, perfect way to create a story, but there will be a method, or methods that work for you. I’m not sure if this is the one, but it works for me. Only you can decide if it also works for you. Fingers crossed that it does! 



Find Alicia Here:
Alicia Dean lives in Edmond, Oklahoma. She has three grown children and a huge network of supportive friends and family. She writes mostly contemporary suspense and paranormal, but has also written in other genres, including a few vintage historicals.
In addition to being an author of more than twenty published works, Alicia is both a freelance editor and an editor for The Wild Rose Press, under the name, Ally Robertson, in their suspense line.
Other than reading and writing, her passions are Elvis Presley, MLB, NFL (she usually works in a mention of one or all three into her stories) and watching her favorite televisions shows like Vampire Diaries, Justified, Sons of Anarchy, Haven, The Mindy Project, and Dexter (even though it has sadly ended, she will forever be a fan). Some of her favorite authors are Michael Connelly, Dennis Lehane, Lee Child, Lisa Gardner, Sharon Sala, Jordan Dane, Ridley Pearson, Joseph Finder, and Jonathan Kellerman…to name a few.

Find Alicia here:

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Meet Jenny Twist's 'Uncle Vernon'

Anyone who has followed my blog for a while will know how highly I rate author Jenny Twist's wonderfully chilling short stories, like Tales of the Mantequero, Away With the Fairies, Take One at Bedtime and more. This week I was delighted to see she had brought Uncle Vernon up from the McCaffrey cellar to celebrate Halloween with us all.  It's a spooktacular short story and a great tea break read, and not just for Halloween.  At only 99c/77p , it will do you more good than a chocolate biscuit, believe me.  So go on, trick or treat yourself.  It's worth it.

Here's my review:

"The thing about Uncle Vernon is he used to be normal…"

This is a another great short story told as only Jenny Twist can tell them and perfect for the Halloween season - and beyond. It features the larger than life McCaffrey family who live in a ramshackle mansion in a small Yorkshire village, where everyone, as you'd expect, seems to know everyone else and their business. Except, of course, being Halloween, you have to expect the unexpected.

The extended McCaffrey family is large and colourful, with old Granny McCaffrey living on cornflakes and ham sandwiches (and probably not being able to tell the difference between them), the well-intentioned big Da and his strapping sons and daughters, through to 10 year old Bridget, "tiny and dainty, as if there hadn't been quite enough material left when it came to making the last child and she had to make do with what was left over from her much bigger brothers and sisters" and the one-eyed cat Genghis.

Oh, did I forget to say? There's also Uncle Vernon, who inhabits the cellar at Halloween and who, according to Janice McCaffrey is only "half-programmed". It's hardly surprising that Gary's girlfriend, the prim and proper Alison, spends half her time in a complete daze - and that's not just because she loves Gary!

I love Jenny Twist's story-telling style. It's honest, it's colourful and her characters have a Dickensian quality about them, but she convinces us that they are real and living among us - and furthermore, we know them. They all have their skeletons in the closet; ghosts in the attic, or Uncle Vernon in the cellar. Escaping with a Jenny Twist story is always a delightful adventure.

Time to bring out the cats - all five of them!

Well done, Ms Twist.

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.