Monday, 23 February 2015

Miranda's Musings

Darlings, did you have a lovely Valentine’s Day? Such a wonderful excuse to dive into a new romance! If your nearest and dearest produced the chocolates and flowers (lovely) instead of books, I’ve rustled up a few good reads to keep you in the mood.

I LOVED TO LOVE Jayne Ann Krentz’s new release, Trust No One. And all your JAK reader dreams have come true. This is a welcome return to the JAK of old, with the logical-thinking, financial whizz, ex-Marine hero Julius (be still my heart), intrigued and circling our cautious, loyal heroine Grace, employed by an inspirational/positive thoughts speaker. In the very first scene Grace finds said speaker shot dead in bed, and the suspense continues. There are some twists and turns that are really excellent, plot-wise, and Grace and Julius simply sizzle! Ooh. Still in hardback; thank heavens for the Kindle!

I LOVED TO LAUGH (and cry!) at Anne Gracie’s beautiful The Autumn Bride. At first it doesn’t seem funny, as our strong but destitute heroine Abby rescues her sister and two other women from abduction, and forced imprisonment in a brothel. Wow, great (not funny) start! But then Abby climbs into Max, Lord Davenham’s window, to try and find something to steal and sell for food. My dears, there are villains, kittens (I want ‘Max’ the mischievous kitty, not to be confused with Max the hero), a wonderful old lady (Max’s aunt), and so much humour (yesss!) and love and warmth in this endearing story that you’ll be lining up for the second one in the series, already out: The Winter Bride. Oh the bliss to have two Anne Gracie romances to read.

I LOVED TO LEARN all about running a boutique London tea shop. Yes, really! The Tea Chest by Josephine Moon was simply delightful. A group of Aussie women – all on the verge of personal change – travel to London to sell tea to the British! A bit like selling ice to Eskimos?! It's not all about the tea and shop, it's also about the trials, tribulations and triumphs of the women involved. In particular I loved the 'Fullerton Frat House report', appearing like a running gag through the book: ongoing hilarious texts to the married co-owner mum of The Tea Chest from her husband and two young sons back in Australia, telling her of their daily dramas: funny, pithy and smart. The one about the biker flipping the bird to their sons in the back of the car was the best. For heaven's sake make sure you have plenty of tea to hand; you'll want to drink it all the time you're reading. Such a fabulous girly girl book, right up our alley. And I understand Josephine’s next book is all about chocolate! Heavens...

Enjoy your reading! Till next time,
Miranda xx

Did Saint Valentine bring you anything romantic?  What/Who are you reading this month?

Monday, 16 February 2015

Finding Your Genre

with Enisa Haines

I was nine and reading Harlequin Mills & Boon novels, devouring them really. Young? Maybe. I blame Cinderella. She introduced me at age three, in the guise of a fairy tale, to romantic fiction.

When I began to write, my first attempt was a contemporary category romance. No surprise there. I knew the genre well. With my imagination working best in the midnight hours, night after night I wrote until finally those last two magical words--The End--appeared.

Did I yell out 'Yes!' or grin at the computer screen? No. I sat silent, unmoving. My plot and conflict may have been typical of the Sexy line I loved but the tone wasn't an exact fit and my hero and setting bore no resemblance to the rich alpha male or an exotic, lively city so prevalent in the novels.

Hmm. What to do? Fix the story or start another? In the midst of my dilemma the Silhouette Intimate Moments line arrived in Australia (as Silhouette Jasmine). The Harlequin Intrigue line arrived soon after. Romance mixed with danger.

I love cop shows. A movie-length thriller screens late in the night and I'm wide awake watching. Add a romance into the mix and I'm enthralled. The romantic suspense genre grabbed hold of me from the first moment of encounter.

My mind brimming with romances entwined with danger, I completed one manuscript, then a second, third and fourth. Enthused, I showed the work to critique partners, entered writing competitions, sent query letters to Silhouette Books in New York. Positive feedback. Competition placings and wins. Requests from the editor for partial and full manuscripts. Yes! Romantic suspense was the genre for me.

And yet I felt anxious. Doubt and uncertainty crept in. Why?


It's funny the way things that are meant to be happen. After a long battle with illness my father died. In my grief I wondered about the place that was now his home and how he was. In my wondering my imagination came alive.

A new world, a paranormal world, appeared. Characters I'd never thought to write about pushed forward seeking attention. How could that be? I wrote romantic suspense. Searching for answers, I came across an article. To discover my real voice and unlock my true writing potential I have to know my core story (who I am psychologically).

Who am I? I'm serious, my funny gene latent most times. I'm honest, maybe too honest, trust being a big issue for me. My tastes are black and white with no shades of grey in between. Examples: I love rock music and soulful ballads. Pretty Woman and The Terminator (all 4 parts) are my favourite movies. My view on justice is the same. Good battles evil and evil is vanquished. I'm obsessed with all things extrasensory and unknown. 'Is there anybody out there?' is a question I've been asking since I was a child. I haven't had an answer yet but it's a given that the cabinet beside my TV bulges with DVD collections of The Twilight Zone, The X-Files and Supernatural and a bookshelf is filled with paranormal novels.

Light-bulb moment! There it is revealed. My core story. I now know the writer I am.

I write stories set in a harsh world where good battles against evil and characters must fight to survive and embrace love. Stories about truth and trust and justice. That's my author theme. My brand. As long as I am consistent there and write the books I want to write, whether the genre is romantic suspense or paranormal doesn't matter.

Have you, in your writing journey, travelled along one path, or have you changed direction? Was finding your genre an easy trek or one with tangents that confused? Do you utilise your core story in your writing?

Love to love -

The bush. I'm blessed to be able to enjoy it daily where I live.
Love to laugh -

Small example of my bag fetish.
Love to learn - the myths and legends of times past are a great resource when creating new characters and worlds.

Image: courtesy of

Monday, 9 February 2015

Self-Publishing: Is it for You? Part 2

An interview by Marilyn Forsyth

Catherine Lee
A big welcome back to Catherine Lee, indie author of 'Dark Heart' and the recently-released 'Dark Past', who is here to share more thoughts about her journey along the self-publishing route.

Marilyn: Hi Catherine. Can you fill us in on why you’ve opted for self-publishing again with your new Quinn and Cooper novel, Dark Past, rather than attempt traditional publishing this time around?

Catherine: Thanks, Marilyn. It’s great to be here again. Basically I’m committed to the self-publishing process as a long-term option for my career, so it wasn’t really a matter of deciding at this point. I made the decision back when I published Dark Heart that I would commit to this process for at least five books and re-assess once I’d had my marketing strategy implemented for a significant period of time (which hasn’t even started yet). So it’s still early days.

Marilyn: So you might consider going that route at a later stage?

Catherine: Traditional publishing would always be an option, down the road, but I’ll make that decision once I’ve seen how this route pans out. The biggest turn-off of traditional publishing for me is the fact that you have to sign your rights away to someone else. It doesn’t sit well with me, after all that effort, to put my work in the hands of a stranger. To have someone else decide its fate. I’d rather fail on my own terms than have no control over whether it lived or died.
Image courtesy of

Marilyn: That makes a lot of sense. It also puts you in control of the quality of your product. How do you feel about the glut of indie authors who, unlike you, haven’t engaged an editor to ensure the quality of their work? Do you feel it affects your own credibility?

Catherine: Professional editing is a must for anyone who wants to put out a quality product which readers will enjoy, engage with, and seek out more of. Those who choose to skip this step and publish a sub-standard product will quickly find out that readers are not stupid. They’ll slam a book in the reviews section if it’s not up to standard, and eventually those types of writers will be weeded out.

I don’t think they affect my credibility, as such, but it probably does still affect the perception of self-publishing in a lot of minds. It’s still very early days for this type of publishing. Once people realise it’s not the way to make a quick buck that they first thought, they’ll move on and, hopefully, only those of us who are serious about putting out quality products and building a career will remain.

Marilyn: How about a teaser for your latest book, Dark Past.

Catherine: It’s the story of Beth Fisher, a corporate lawyer who struggles to cope with the murder of her sister. She tries to keep her sister’s memory alive by finishing the family history research Jill started, but the project quickly becomes an all-encompassing quest to uncover the secret past someone is willing to kill to protect.

Marilyn: Sounds intriguing! I really enjoyed Dark HeartDark Past is on my Kindle and I can’t wait to read it.

Have you self-published? Did you find it a worthwhile experience? Do you believe the perception of self-publishing is changing?

Image courtesy of
To finish, let’s find out a little more about the main character from 'Dark Past', Beth Fisher...

Beth loves to love working as a lawyer for Fisher & Co., her family’s shipping business.

She loves to laugh at the antics of her two young children, Emily and Jacob.

She’d love to learn the truth about her family’s history, their business dealings and why people are being killed to keep these under wraps.

Monday, 2 February 2015

It’s All Good Until the Raven Arrives

by Cassandra Samuels

Using myths and legend in storytelling

In my book A Scandalous Wager my heroine, Lisbeth Carslake, Countess of Blackhurst, is accused of killing her husband. Although she is acquitted in a court of law, the high society of London (the ton) start calling her The Black Raven – bringer of bad luck and death. They cross themselves as they cross the street to avoid her and generally give her such a hard time she becomes a social pariah who seldom leaves her house. Thus this was the precedence for the wager which the hero, Oliver Whitely, Earl of Bellamy, takes on at the beginning of the story.

Before writing this story I had come across an article regarding folklore, myths and legends and was especially drawn to those of the raven. Firstly, there is a common misunderstanding that crows and ravens are the same. They do come from the same family of bird but are not the same. The raven is larger, shaggier and has a deeper, croaky call than that of its crow cousin. However, both feature heavily in mythology. 

Raven at the Tower of London taken on my visit there.

In Welsh myths the raven (Mabinogion) is the harbinger of death. The often bleak reputation surrounding this magnificent black bird is likely to be because it is a scavenger and often found picking the flesh of dead things.

Odin in Norse mythology had two ravens. One called Thought and the other Memory which he sent out daily to spy and report on the goings on in Midgard (Earth).

Odin with his Ravens - Thought and Memory

Some tribes in North America knew the raven as a stealer of souls, while others saw it as a symbol of transformation.

Anyone who has gone to the Tower of London will be familiar with the legend surrounding the ravens there. It is said that if ever the ravens left the tower the kingdom of England would fall. Charles II even went so far as to move his royal astrologer and his whole observatory from the tower rather than relocate the ravens. Even now they always keep a breeding pair of ravens at the Tower of London.

Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

Even in more modern literature the raven is a popular character.

  •     Shakespeare mentions the raven in both Macbeth and Othello.

  •     Charles Dickens’ Barnaby Rudge features “Grip” the raven.

  •      In Edgar Allan Poe’s poem The Raven, the bird is a supernatural messenger.

  •      In Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings Roac son of Crac is the leader of the ravens of the lonely mountain.

  •      And in Game of Thrones ravens are used as messengers as well as prophets (three eyed raven) and the character Bran is Gaelic for raven.

All this distrust and superstition surrounding the raven made it perfect as a moniker for my heroine. After all, who would trust a raven?

Do you like stories where myths and legends are used as part of the premise? 

Have you read another story or film I haven’t mentioned that features a raven?

Love to love the three men guarding my desk 

Tyrion, Job Snow & Rob Stark from Game of Thrones

Love to laugh at sayings on mugs.

Love to learn and research new things that can enhance my future stories.

My visit to Corfe Castle in England.

Cassandra's book is available now. 
Amazon Aus | Amazon | & all good e-bookstores