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Book Review – Winters and Somers by Glenys O’Connell

Nice review – thank you!


imageCiara Somers is an Irish PI who has her own independent agency. However, she hasn’t gotten any real cases yet, so she is keeping busy checking out the “temptability” of spouses suspected of cheating. This isn’t the kind of cases she really wants to do, but it pays the bills. Everything is working well enough until her roommate tells her she is moving out of their flat and in with her boyfriend because she’s pregnant. Now Ciara needs to find a new roommate and fast!

Enter Jonathan Winters, NYC homicide detective and romance writer extraordinaire. He is suave and debonaire and women swoon when he is around. He enters Ciara’s life and takes over before she even knows what’s happening. Suddenly she finds him ensconced in her flat and he is her partner in her PI agency. He is putting out ads about the agency and working on them getting…

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Do Heroines Ever Eat?

Shhh! I’m tiptoeing back into the Romantic Journey after being away on other projects for a long time. It’s very quiet here, though – where is everyone? Please come back – it’s lonely here….
But not so lonely that I can’t complain about something that has begun to irritate me more and more. I read a lot of ‘woman in jeopardy’ and romantic suspense novels, and it really bothers me how emaciated and malnourished those heroines must all be by the end of the book.
Now, maybe it’s just those few extra pounds on my rear, caused by too much computer time and too little exercise, so I could just be bitter about this, but have you ever noticed how little these usually over-active heroines ever eat?
It’s not unusual for them to have coffee for breakfast, be stalked, run off the road, shot at, sprint through miles of woodland, swim a lake, have wild sex with the hero, have a massive fight with the hero, rush home to run into the arms of a crazed kidnapper, be rescued or get themselves out of a scrape, and then remember that they’ve not eaten since coffee at breakfast the day before.
Yeah, really. I’d be chewing off my own foot, I’d be so hungry.
And what do they do then? Set up a good meal with all the foodgroups? No, it’s usually just another coffee and maybe a bit of unbuttered toast. And the coffee’s not a Tim Horton’s double-double – it’s almost always black.
How do they do it? Why do they do it?
Is it the wild sex that keeps them going? Or fear that interfers with normal digestive processes?
Sadly, I get really cranky if I miss a meal, so I guess I’m just not good heroine material. I’d be more likely to shoot the first person to annoy me, rather than solve the crime, save my skin, and bring everything to a happy ending.
So, what do you think? Should we start a campaign to provide a healthy breakfast and organic snacks for malnourished heroines?
Certainly, I’ve been reading some of the neat cozy series that are around, and a few more writers are making their heroines a bit more gastonomically realistic, so maybe there’s hope yet.
Let me know what you think – should heroines have normal meals like the rest of us, or is starvation an important part of their diet?

Glenys O’Connell admits to a love affair with food, and isn’t above a junk food meal when she’s pushed on deadline. Her heroines eat well, everything from home made macaroni tuna and cheese casserole in Judgement By Fire to an elegant three course meal at an expensive Dublin hotel, in Winters & Somers.


A Woman Who Lived Her Time Well…

I went to a memorial service for a lovely neighbour recently, let’s call her R.M.  At the age of 25 she’d been diagnosed with a rare and disfiguring illness, and told that not only would her lifespan be very limited, but she would probably spend most of it in a wheelchair, and in a nursing home. We watched a slide show of her life, starting with the pretty little blonde girl with a big smile through to the beautiful and stylish young woman. Then we saw her with her husband and three delightful children…and as time progressed we began to see the terrible toll the illness took on her.

But only on her looks. R.M.’s spirit never flagged. She moved with her husband and young family to Canada at 35, leaving behind her support system of family & medical advisors to start a new life in a new land. She insisted on an active hand in her own treatment, because the disease was very rare and she was willing to do research and keep her ‘medical team’ informed of new developments. She worked full time, quilted, sewed, embroidered, travelled, raised her children, enjoyed her grandchildren, and got to cuddle her great-grandchildren. And she could be counted on to turn up at church and community events, and fundraisers when her neighbours needed help. Her song and dance and comedy routines were highlights of community concerts. And she remained close and loving with her husband to celebrate more than a half century of marriage.

Now, often when someone is gifted with beauty and then faced with its loss due to injury or disease, the response is to try to hide away. Not R.M. She was a beautiful woman, yet over the years her disease took its toll on her looks, with mouth cancer adding to her disfigurement. But you didn’t notice her looks, because she was so very much…well, she was so very there.

And when the disease fianlly took its toll – many years after her predicted demise – the whole community turned out for her memorial service, and it was a pretty colourful event because R.M. had insisted that no black be worn for her. We were all to celebrate her life by wearing bright colours. She wanted to be remembered with smiles and joy. Over and over again, we heard the words courageous, brave, joyful…but the phrase that stuck in my mind was “A woman who lived her time well.”

I’m glad you’ve stayed with me this long, because you’re probably wondering what all this has to do with writing romance. Well, here’s what I learned from R.M.: She discovered early in life that she had talents that brought joy to other people: dance, music, acting, comedy. She organised and took part in theatre, and even appeared on television. An extremely shy woman by nature, she took joy from the pleasure her talents brought other people, and so she put herself out there despite her illness and pain.

Now, as writers we complain bitterly about the need for promotion. I’m among the naturally shy and absolutely hate appearing for book signings or even discussing my work. And I’m now a bit ashamed of that attitude because, as R.M. taught me, surely if you have a talent that brings pleasure to other people you should get out there and demonstrate it? When you think about it in that light, ‘promotion’ takes on a whole new meaning. It becomes both an adventure and a gift that we use to offer our work for others to enjoy.

So thank you. R.M., and may we all become people “…who live our time well”.



Guest author — Isabel Roman

Please wlecome Isabel Roman, author of the Dark Desires of the Druids series from Ravenous Romance!

Alternate History

Isabel RomanI love alternate history books. Harry Turtledove’s Southern Victory Series? Read him, though I couldn’t get into the whole alien thing. Fatherland by Robert Harris? One of my favorites—and oh my God, there’s a movie?! 1994 TV movie I didn’t know about? Ohh, and with Rutger Hauer…how big a crush did I have on him during the 80s? *sigh* Now then, where can I get this little known movie?? Star Trek and Stargate alternate universes? All over them.

I don’t know what it is about the What Ifs of the storytelling, but I’ll read just about anything that has to do with changing something in history and seeing the timeline through from a different angle.

In my Druids series, I took one aspect from history, the Spanish Inquisition, and twisted it. The Inquisition was no longer about the persecution of religion, but the persecution of Druidic magickers. Those with the ability to do deviltry, those who were different.

Magickers went into hiding, creating small enclaves of safety even as their own hunted them for money and power. By the time these stories take place in the 1880s, they’ve forgotten their past as Druids, lost much of their knowledge, and barely survive in small outposts along poorly populated areas. Those still in power guard their secrets from high society with a paranoia that is only partly contrived.

A long time ago I read a romance about a woman who stepped around a corner in her office building and popped into a different world, effectively switching places with the her from that world. In this one, the wife of the guy she’d been dating is still alive, and yet she’s still having all sorts of erotic thoughts about him. I’d have liked it to be longer, I really wanted to know about the world-building, but I think she eventually traced it to JFK’s assassination. Or in this world, the lack thereof.

Pretty interesting stuff. How would JFK surviving have affected the world? The US? Or even every day people? Would we still live in a Camelot-like place where we believed world leaders could do no wrong? (Please, no hysterical laughing here—no snickering either!) Or mandatory joining of the Peace Corps?

Would the Cold War have ended? Would Regan ever have the opportunity to utter his famous “Mr. Gorbachev tear down this wall” speech? Would we still send missions to the moon? Would we be on Mars by now?

Ohh, Mars. Imagine. That’s pretty cool. Or a colony on the moon, family vacations there instead of the beach.

What would you like to see? Do? Imagine? What would you change? Where would you take an alternate history?

Isabel is giving away a fabulous prize on one random commenter on her blog tour: A Vice Versa beaded fashion purse, a summer shawl, and a box of Godiva chocolates. So drop a comment here, and be sure to check out her other blog tour dates as follows. The more comments you leave, the more chances you have to win.

7/12/2010 Cherry Mischievous
7/13/2010 Alisha Paige
7/14/2010 You Gotta Read Guest
7/15/2010 Romance With an Attitude
7/16/2010 Romantic Journey
7/19/2010 Domestically Challenged Momma
7/20/2010 Fantasy Pages
7/21/2010 The Cozy Page
7/22/2010 Amber Scott Project
8/5/2010 Romancing the Pen
8/6/2010 Authors by Authors

Dark Desires of the Druids: Sex & Subterfuge available now in bookstores! And be sure to check out Isabel’s free story!

Sex and subterfuge cover artA master magicker, Morgana Blackthorne has a tenuous hold on her following. When a strange Englishman arrives on her doorstep with news of other druidic magickers, and magicker problems, she’s intrigued but suspicious. There hasn’t been contact between the American and European druids in over a hundred years. Plus she has her own worries and doesn’t need the handsome earl adding to them.

Lucien, Earl of Granville, left England to seek out the Blackthorne Druid line and discover what they’ve been up to since contact was lost. Once he and Morgana meet, their mutual attraction distracts him from his purpose. Embroiled in her problems, he finds himself more concerned with her welfare than is practical for a passing affair.

When I invited you into my bed, it never occurred to me I wouldn’t want you to leave.

There are darker forces at work and the hunger of a weak magicker desperate for power. Will Lucien convince Morgana of his true feelings before things spiral out of control? Or will the surrounding subterfuge tear them apart?


Here be dragons

I’ve been working on something new.

No, really. Something new. After writing 4 manuscripts in a row in my Shadowfae Chronicles series, I’m working on something different for a few weeks.

Four manuscripts. That’s 2 years of work, folks. I sold that first one back in 2008, and since then I’ve written nothing but Shadowfae books. Now, I’m having a go at a romantic space opera. Let’s call it Carrie’s book.

So what’s it like, branching out? Well, it’s scary. It’s different. I mean, Carrie’s book is in a totally different style. She’s another first person heroine, but Shadowfae heroines live in a dark, magical, sensually charged world, and their books are full of sounds and smells and sensations. It’s laid on pretty thick, if I may say so myself, but of course in a good way…

Carrie’s world is made of metal and lasers, neural computers and spaceships, guns and money. She’s a hot-blooded woman, sure, but she’s a secret agent. She notices different things to a frightened fairy or a kick-ass banshee or a world-weary succubus. Her point of view is skewed to the right, if you like, where Shadowfae is hanging off the port bow by its claws.

Carrie’s book is more of an action story than a romance. Sure, there’s a romance in it — of course! — but it’s not to the forefront as much. And there’s no second character PoV, so everything’s focused on her. I’ve never written a whole book in one PoV before.

It’s liberating, and fun. But it’s also scary. I don’t have a contract for Carrie. I don’t even know if she’s saleable. But hell, is she fun. I’ll be back to Shadowfae. I’ve got another one cooking already, just in case. But I really hope people like Carrie.

I’m also hoping to get her finished before I head off to Orlando at the end of next week for the Romance Writers of America conference. It’s a long shot, but I’ll give it a go.

Better get back to it, then…

So have you ever tried a totally new genre? Or do you stick to what you know?


Dreams Are Not Enough…

As writers, we’re dreamers – and I don’t just mean about characters and plot lines.
No, we also fantasize about our careers, about signing books surrounded by
adoring fans, of watching our titles fly up the NY Times bestseller list, of being invited to chat with Oprah, of writing non-fiction that catapults us onto the speech circuit as An Authority.
And then we daydream about what we’ll do with all those millions or how we’ll parlay our growing knowledge into something that will help change people’s lives…. Yes, there are probably as many dreams as there are writers. About the life we’ll lead as Famous Writers whose books are Bestsellers.
But here’s the hard truth: these dreams have little to do with your success as a writer – unless you act on them.
To be successful you need talent, yes, and a commitment to your work. You need to use that talent to turn those dreams into something approximating reality.
The simple truth is that first and foremost, a writer writes. It’s that simple. The complicated bit comes in knowing what you should be writing and in planning for your success. Don’t give up the dreams, just temper them with a little feet-on-the-ground common sense.
Find a way to turn them into goals. Plan your writing career as you would any other endeavour that’s important to you. Dream big, for sure, but keep one eye firmly fixed on your own reality.
But whatever your writing ambitions, you need a plan. Consider these points:

1) A dream is not a goal – recognise the difference between your writerly dreams, and what would really satisfy you. Ask yourself why you write – would you be surprised to find that the answer isn’t necessarily ‘to get rich’ or ‘to be famous’?
2) Despite what you may have been told about writing every day, there are lots of successful writers who hold down full time jobs and squeeze in their writing at weekends. Their secret? They plan their work and work the plan.
3) A dose of reality – if you’ve considered #1 above, you know where your ‘success satisfaction’ lies – now find out what sort of writing would take you there.
4) Writing is hard, lonely work. Why are you doing this to yourself? What can you do to ensure your precious writing time is your own without becoming a hermit? Consider setting up a ‘support network’ of other writers (the Internet is a great resource for this!) These are other writers who share triumphs and setbacks and encourage each other – but who understand that the writing comes first.
5) Whittle away the fat: identify your writing goals. Having a road map for your writing career will help prevent you from going off at tangents that steal time, energy & creativity and prevent you from reaching your writerly destination.
6) Knowing what you want to achieve and drawing up a plan gives you an overview. This overview allows you to draw up the actions you need to take. These can be broken down even further into ‘Baby Steps’ which let you utilise even small segments of spare time to take your ambitions a little further ahead.
7) Setting up your goal calendar which outlines the tiny steps forward and shows where the giant leaps and bounds can happen.…
8) So many different types of writing work – novels, articles, copywriting, teaching, editing, speechwriting, speaking….oh my! Keeping an open mind about opportunities and where they might lead you will help you pick the best writing and promotional opportunities for your career.
9) Career planning 101: now that you know where you’re going don’t forget to pencil in some time to evaluate each stage to make sure you’re on track – or check to see if you need to change direction…
10) Learn to cope with distractions, to be decisive in handling the everyday crisis and not to let the little things become big time stealers. You need to keep all those plates spinning at once – family, friends, day job, health, etc. – and still write. Believe me, cars and appliances break down, kids need you to volunteer at school, relatives need care, big projects will come up at work…all these things will continue to happen whether you’re writing or not. You might well be calmer and more cheerful about dealing with them if you’ve been able to do your writing quota! There are many resources with tips for writing & coping with living – search the internet for Book-In-A-Week, BIAW, Flylady, Charlotte Dillon’s site,
and any more you can come up with for tips, tricks and support.

Glenys O’Connell knows what it’s like to keep on writing through the Everyday Real Life crises and the Knock Your Sox Off type of crises, too. Along with teaching creative writing, she’s led courses in Achieving Your Goals which have helped not only writers, but people with dreams of starting a business, retiring early, or changing their lifestyle. Check out her website at where from time to time she adds articles about writing and free courses for writers.


Revisions — love or hate?

I’ve been scarce lately. Not just on this blog, but everywhere. I had a couple of months where I didn’t achieve very much in the way of writing, so over the last six weeks or so it’s all caught up with me.

It’s exhausting. But kinda cool. I did a bunch of promo for my latest release, and promo is a huge time muncher. I wrote half a novel, in the time it usually takes me to write 15K, and it doesn’t totally suck. I revised another one for my editor. They were the edits from hell. But I did it, and she loved it.

And now I’m polishing the newly finished one, book #4 in my series, before it goes to the editor. This job never stops, and it’s awesome 🙂

Revising is one of my favourite parts. Okay, I have lots of favourite parts 🙂 starting, finishing, outlining, cutting… yeah, I guess I love it all.

But revising is special. There’s nothing like having a completed manuscript to play with. After having spent months on the nitty-gritty, it’s great to get back to big-picture thinking. Adjusting character arcs to make them sing, tweaking the scenery, sparking up the dialogue, trimming out the fat bits. Often it’s just a line or two that makes all the difference. You can change a character’s entire motivation with a few choice sentences.

It’s fun. It’s empowering. And it’s satisfying when you finally get it right.

When you have deadlines to deal with, revision time is also a huge relief! You can take a breather. You can say to yourself, I have a manuscript. I’ve made it. The worst thing that could happen is that I have to submit it the way it is. And hey — it’s not that bad!

Because it never is ‘that bad’. And that’s why revising is so cool — because every now and then as you read along, you find the little gems you’ve made. You go, no kidding. That paragraph was actually pretty good. That was an awesome simile. That character is really cool. Wow, that’s so sad. Pwhoar, that’s sexy!

Revising is a time for hard work. But it’s also a time for self-congratulation. And we all need that every now and then.

P.S. Anyone looking for some revision tips? I’d recommend — nay, insist on — Margie Lawson’s Deep Editing techniques. The emphasis is on tightening and empowering your writing, rather than structural revisions. Her EDITS system is one of the most intuitive methods I’ve come across for analysing what your writing needs. It’s hard work, but the results are extraordinary. Get thee to Margie.

So what are your thoughts on revisions? Love or hate?


April 2020

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