Time Travel Romance by Patti Hultstrand.

Time conquers All (Time Series)
Patti Hultstrand

Az Publishing Services, LLC

If you want swooning heroines fainting at the first sign of trouble and a man swinging in, Tarzan style, to rescue her then Patti Hultstrand’s time-travel romance are probably not for you. If, however, you like strong Lara Croft type women getting her man, then this book IS for you. Read on:

Tamea scanned for the presence and instinctively knew it was stalking them. The dagger hilt rested in her left palm, ready if it was needed. Her intentions included getting him into the room and making love to him for the rest of the night. She did not appreciate whoever was interrupting her plan. She continued to glance behind them after they got off the bike and Parker retrieved his saddlebags.

Patti Hultstrand is not only the author of Rescue in Time and Time Conquers All, she runs the successful AZ Publishing Services.

Patti’s thirst for the creative word began in 7th grade, and from then she has wrote in college papers, literary magazines, public relations articles, business procedure manuals and having even gone as far as having published her own magazine on Arizona Graphics and Marketing. Science-fiction became her first love when she was introduced to the works of Ray Bradbury and fandom bit her when she actually met him in 1987 at a special engagement speech in Phoenix, Arizona. Patti has his writing tips and life examples and applied them to her own writing: “Never stop to edit, just keep writing until you’re done, then go back and edit, and edit, and edit again until you’re satisfied.”

She’s here to talk about her books, the writing process and everything else in-between – otherwise known as life – click below for the interview:

What inspired you to write your book?
“Rescue In Time” is book 2 of my Chasing Time series. I have plans for about 14 books in this series. I started my first story back about 15 years ago on a dot matrix printed copy of the beginnings of what turned out to be an epic romantic time-travel adventure. Back 15 years ago, the story was a simple historical romance about a warrior princess who must protect a king from a neighbouring country who doesn’t believe in her abilities to do the protecting. I had a palace schematic drawn out which had become a yellowed reminder years later of that story that had been stuck inside me all those years.
It was a near death experience that made me pick the story up again, change the heroine, the location in history, the time period (somewhat), and added the premise of time-travel because over those last 15 years I have evolved and had become very interested in the possibilities of time-travel. The story has become so much more than that simple story.

I had studied some romance stories series and found that many offer multiple male characters which are introduced in the first book, as minor characters, and then they get their own story in books later in the series. I have done this with the Chasing Time series. Walker and Brandt have their own stories coming up. The only man I don’t have a story for yet is Terrance, Tamea’s best friend, who is now the Captain of the Palace Guard. I say “yet” because he just hasn’t told me his story yet.

What is it about?

I think one of the hardest thing for me to decide on was what classification or genre to fit my epic story into. While I tag it as a Time-travel Romance, it resonates very well with science-fiction/fantasy enthusiasts because my time-travel is based on plausible theories I have contemplated over years. I sell more of my books with this group of book lovers, over romance readers. But, then again, I hang with that group at conventions.

You write what you love to read or write what you want to read, but haven’t found yet. That is what I have done here.

Is there a snippet you can share?
Here is a short excerpt for “Rescue In Time”: Book 2 in the Chasing Time Series.

Tamea was incensed about being forced into submission, stating so in a snapped response, “I can damn well take care of myself, thank you very much!”

“Tamea, don’t be so difficult!” Terance interjected. “Your rooms are no longer safe for you. Whoever did this, knows where to find both of you. And they mean to kill either you or the both of you now.” She was not calming down. “Tamea think about it, they knew the two of you left the banquet together and since the two of you were together last night, they just did not know which suite the two of you would be in.”

She went red, not from anger, but from embarrassment. Terance knew about last night.

Terance was doing his best not to think about her embarrassment and what he heard going on last night. “And this could indicate there is more than one person since, it appears that both locations were hit at the same time. If it wasn’t for Aspen, we may not have gotten here fast enough to save you.” There was no time for the pain of heartache now; he had to keep her safe.

Parker had come back into the front room during the last bit of information and he put his arm possessively around Tamea’s shoulders. He wanted to be the one who kept Tamea safe, and had wondered again about Terance’s relationship in the past with Tamea, because she wore her embarrassment of the situation too plainly. He would have to ask her later.

Terance took them out of the Ambassador’s wing and down the back staircase to the ground floor, to the servant’s wing. He took them into a simple room and shut the door behind the three of them. He knew Tamea’s questioning look, “Jayson wants very few guards posted on the two of you and they will appear to be just some of the servants who are wandering around at night. Outside, we will have many guards, and on the third floor we will double the guards, to make it appear like you are both still up there with the rest of the Altare delegation. We’ll move Walker in with Brandt tonight for safekeeping. On both sides of you here, there are empty rooms. We have positioned several guards to sleep in these rooms tonight.” Terance knew Tamea would like this plan, because it would have been something she thought of herself.

Tamea gritted her teeth and asked, “And what about you and Jayson?” What she really wanted to know was if Terance was one of these guards to be in the quarters next to this one, but did not want to come out and ask.

“I will be on the third floor as assigned for the night, and Jayson will be at his family’s house as expected for his promotion party.” Terance would not come near this room tonight unless he got word that the plan had been found out. He had an earful last night listening to them make love in her suite and could not sleep the rest of the night due to his loss of Tamea, he could not bear a repeat performance. “Everything must appear as normal as possible for this to be believed.”

Tamea remembered a detail that Terance would have to deal with himself, “You had better find Aspen quickly and tell him where to find me or he will be roaring through the halls tonight looking for me. He would find a way up to the third floor and may hurt someone since he knows I am in danger.”

“You are right! I will go now and find him. But he can’t be patrolling these corridors or someone will obviously see him and realize our ruse,” stated Terence.

“Just tell him I said for him to patrol outside and to hide himself somewhere near this room. You will need to show him which room, or he will not be happy.”

Terance left the two of them alone in the small room without windows, very little in the way of furniture, and one very cozy single bed. He had locked them in, without giving them a key to get out. No room in this palace could hold Tamea if she wished to get out, so the lack of a key did not concern her.

Even though the door was locked from the outside, Parker used a chair under the knob to keep others out, repeating what Tamea had done the night before in her suite. Then he turned to survey their little room. “Cozy, isn’t it?” he grinned when he saw the small bed.

Was there a character you struggled with?
I struggle between Parker and his brother Walker sometimes because I want to make sure readers connect to Parker, but then Walker is written stronger in the first books so I think some women like him better. Then again, I don’t like sharing my men, even ones I make up in my mind, so I may not be doing them justice by making them interesting enough for women readers to love them too. Probably explains why most of my fans are men who love Tamea, my heroine.

How many unpublished books do you have lurking under your bed?
Oh geez! I have 2 more completely written in the Chasing Time series and a third about half done, and another 3 started. Outside of that series, I am working on the following with plans to publish 2011:

– 2012: The Calm Before the Storm – writing with my partner, Donald Jacques
– Mahal – Historical Romance
– Center of Time Bar: Time travel stories centered around this bar I created. My world and other authors have been invited to write a story in this world.
– The Bad Easter Bunny – YA Fantasy (although I may be changing the title)
– There is a steampunk story my partner and I have storyboarded, but no title yet
– The Discarded House – Based on a true story that resonates with our economic times in America.

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=wiswor0a-21&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=B0031ESOCI&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrHow did you find your publisher? How do they treat you? Would you recommend them?
I am my own publisher and am the publisher for 15+ other authors with 30 books on our bookshelf now since May 2009. I use my series as a test in marketing conditions before I push anyone else into doing any form of marketing. This has been good and bad for me personally as an author. I have taken away the stigma for my other authors by adding Az Publishing Services, LLC as the Print/Distribution Publisher, while I don’t have the layer between myself as an author and as the publisher.

Would I recommend Az Publishing to others? Answer: Only if you are prepared to do a lot of work in helping market your book. We can’t do it by ourselves! But you also can’t expect the publisher to do it all anymore either.

We are still a struggling company and this year, I almost completely lost the company. It has been a very tough year for all of us! Even if I have to change the company name, we will still move forward into 2011 with a brighter outlook. We have some kick-butt books coming off the printer this coming year.

Tell us a little about Az Publishing.
Az Publishing Services was designed to assist new or struggling authors in marketing, cover design, editing and formatting plus much more, and has the cohesion of a writing community who has been bullied, lied to, and who have had some of their dreams taken from them by unscrupulous companies who seem to be prey on unsavvy writers. It has grown to a company who has published over 20 books in just the last three year.

Are you accepting submittals right now?
Yes, but I will no longer read submissions. Don Jacques, president of Az Publishing, will be reading through future submittals. We are making major changes to website which will not be in place until late January. I suggest that any author should be prepared before sending him their submittals with a synopsis, first chapter already edited, an idea of where your target market is, and your contact information. Wait until February to send anything, so the website will be ready to accept the submission. We accept any great fiction story and any non-fiction work that has a book proposal added to the submission. It is no longer just important to know your subject matter, but to have a fresh angle and marketing plan or your book will probably fail in this saturated book marketplace.

This is a toughie, but I’m going to ask it anyway. If you had to choose, which would it be an author or a publisher?
That is a hard question, because I love the feeling I get when a new author holds their book I delivered to them for the first time. I think this is the same feeling that a doctor feels when he/she hands the baby over to the new parents and that child is perfect.

But, first and foremost, I am an author/writer. If I was not a writer, I would not bother to be a publisher. I could not love the process unless I was in the process myself. There are too many people who want to write, but do not have the discipline to follow the rules and go through the process. This is what separates a writer from being an author, and keeps an author from consistently producing and selling their books.

Now that’s what I call a good answer! OK, so in your opinion what’s the best and worst part of being a writer?
Best part is when the book comes off the press for the first time. You check that all the fingers and toes are there first, and then just bask in that feeling on completion.

Worst part – Is when you aren’t making time to write regularly so start writing very long emails. The creative stuff seeps out somehow.

Also hate making edits form the printed manuscript to the computer version because it takes so much time. Understand that I do this several times before I even give the manuscript to the editor. If I have to read chapter 1 one more time for “Time Conquers All” I think I will learn to hate that story!

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=wiswor0a-21&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=1936037033&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrWhat is the most productive time of the day for you to write?
Mornings for articles and marketing pieces. After 10pm for fiction books. Yes, it does matter. Articles take clarity of thought that you get early in the morning. Where books, especially fiction which takes long stretches of creative flow, which mainly happens for me after 10pm.

Do you start your projects writing with paper and pen or is it all on the computer?
All on the computer. I have been a graphic designer for about 20 years so the computer is a natural extension of my creativity. I may write notes, research ideas, or even write out the occasional scene on paper, but only if I can’t get to a computer. It just comes out of me easier that way and then I don’t have to take the time to type it later.

What/who do you draw inspiration from?
Lately the inspiration has been coming from my writing partner, Donald Jacques, who either offers a kernel of an idea or I come up with the kernel and then we are off into a brainstorming session that lasts hours. We both thrive on these sessions for books we are working on together and those we are writing for ourselves, but the combined creative energy helps us move the story forward or make it into much more than it started.

Eariler you mentioned a near death expereince. Can you talk about that? How did that inspire you to write?
It was in 2003, when I went to get a simple operation and came home with a surgical infection that after several hospital visits, continued to grow and nearly took my life four months later. I was in the hospital 4 times that year for what should have been a fairly routine operation. When I came out of this alive and without any further major setbacks, I came across that story I had started over a decade earlier. It was time to write that story!

After any near death experience, your life never stays the same. I sat down and wrote for six months, that 296,000 words that have become “Time Conquers All”, “Rescue In Time” and “Sands of Time”. Then, I planned out a 14-book synopsis write up. I know where the series is going and who is telling what story.

Along with this revelation that I needed to tell these stories and many more to come, I also knew my husband at the time, was not up for the future I knew I needed to explore, so my marriage ended as well. Near death experiences drive home messages that you would not have listened to otherwise. I had gotten a message, that it was not my time to go, but that I had not fulfilled my destiny or mission in life. This mission has included writing and mentoring others with everything I have learned over these many years.

Do you set yourself goals when you sit down to write such as word count?
My only goal is which story I will work on. I have tried NaNoWriMo in their 50,000 words in the month of November. Out of three different years I tried it, I only made it in the first year. With the first draft of “Time Conquers All” I sat down and wrote 296,000 words in six months, but even that doesn’t quite make that 50,000 words per month. Now, those 296,000 words have been cut into 3 books right now and I will probably be cutting some of book 3 just to get it into a smaller book. Being the publisher, I know how much these books cost. The larger the book in page count, the more it cost and you could charge more, but there is only so much a reader will pay for a book from a relatively new author. There has to be a return on your investment for the author and the book can’t cost more than the market will bear.

What are you working on now that you can talk about?
In my writing, I am working on Book 3, “Sands of Time” for the Chasing Time series and am working on the collaboration on the “2012: The Calm Before the Storm” book due out Spring 2011. This 2012 book will be written into a screenplay as well by Michael D’Ambrosio, one of our author’s who has experience in adapting books into screenplays. I will also be working with Michael on writing the “Center of Time Bar” into a screenplay after the book is done Fall 2011.

The hardest part of being an author and a publisher is how much time I work with other authors on their projects compared to working on my own projects. It is a balancing act that I still don’t have control over yet.

How do/did you deal with rejection letters?
I am probably lucky in a way because most of the rejection letters I received were personally, handwritten notes rather than the standard rejection letter. Those are no help at all because they don’t allow you to understand why they rejected the manuscript. However, I do have one tip to impart to others, watch where the agent or editor left your story. Did they make notes or check marks on any sections or leave the manuscript turned to a particular page. Look for these clues and you may find where your story was either strong or weak.

So, how I dealt with rejection is that I tried to learn something from it instead of fretting too long on the rejection itself. Authors don’t handle rejection well mainly because to us the creation means so much to us. With fiction writers, even more so, because we put pieces of ourselves into the story or the characters.

Do you have a critique partner?
I used to have a critique group which I highly suggest for any writer, but now have Don, my writing muse and my editor, Linda Blazier, who takes a much deeper interest in the stories than most editors.

I do suggest at least one, but preferably several FIRST READERS, when your manuscript is raw, who helps you hammer out plot issues. A critique group could do this for you, but be prepared to do the same for everyone else in your group. It is a collaborative effort to be in a critique group.


Free e-book! Check out this hybrid chick-lit action/adventure novel!

The Scent of Jade
Dee DeTarsio

From TV writer Dee DeTarsio, a new novel, The Scent of Jade. When an ancient jade relic that holds secrets to global warming ends up in the hands of a not-so-perfect heroine, she is thrust in a fish-out-of-water adventure, lost in the Costa Rican rainforest.

“Romancing The Stone” meets “Survivor” for Julie Fraser, who was minding her own business, living her life as snug as a bug in a rut in San Diego, California. As the least adventurous person she knows, Julie finally whooped it up one day to jet off and surprise her husband, who was on a business trip in Costa Rica. Reeling from the discovery that her husband wasn’t who she thought he was, she accidentally steals an ancient artifact and is chased through the wilds of the rainforest, not knowing where to turn, literally, or whom to trust. She knew she should have stayed home.

Can a monkey, a blonde Juan, a foreign scientist, a mysterious ‘love potion’ and the jade stone itself (that may hold secrets to global warming), help Julie on her mission to find and forgive her husband?

The stolen idol catapults her on a quest, as she discovers truths along the way about herself and her place in the universe. The Scent of Jade is creative and unique with surprising twists–in turn suspenseful and heartbreaking, combining humor and romance to reach the payoff ending. Original characters keep the pages turning.

The Scent of Jade spins its story with wit and wisdom, drawing those who love mystery, suspense, romance and adventure. While there are no vampires, readers are invited to enjoy the intrigue…
Perfect escape, like watching a romantic action movie with a sarcastic friend. At times the heroine fell apart; then she rocked her best Angelina Jolie, with humor, action and a hint of sexiness. –Unabridged Chick unabridged-expression.blogspot.com

The Scent of Jade has enjoyed a fast-growing, international fan base. Clever, quirky, and multi-talented, ebook novelist Dee DeTarsio is definitely a new author you want to friend, and then you can say, you knew her when…. –The Divining Wand

San Diego Novelist Romances UK. The Scent of Jade has a killer, Hollywood logline: Romancing the Stone meets Survivor. The author takes a page from her world-traveling protagonist Julie Fraser and has connected with Brit romance fans. –Mediabistro

Dee DeTarsio is a television writer living in southern California. After growing up in Ennui, Ohio, and graduating from Ohio State University she vowed ‘never to be cold again’ (in a tantrum more worthy of Suellen than Scarlett) and ended up in Tucson, Arizona, producing the news for the CBS affiliate, oddly enough called KOLD-TV. She moved to San Diego where she worked in the SeaWorld entertainment department as a Producer/Writer, (Penguins are mean!) and then became a Producer/Writer with NBC for a live, comedy/variety show.
After working for Children’s Hospital, she totally sold out and became the Marketing Director of a cosmetic dermatology group where she got free Botox. Her husband is a Director of Photography and travels around the world while she stays behind as the indentured servant of their two children. Though her father was never famous and her mother never beat her (that hard!) she suspects one of her sisters is a vampire. Learn more at her website http://www.deedetarsio.com/ and blog http://www.ogblayotspay.blogspot.com/. Check out the book trailer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pV4ObDjueOc&feature=related too!

My husband, who has earned his title of beditor, once complained that ‘women sure do think a lot.’ That’s right, we do. Live and learn, hombres. THE SCENT OF JADE grew out of his observation and into a hybrid chick-lit action/adventure novel.

I began with a “what-if” scenario (a woman on a resort vacation, what could possibly go wrong?) that grew into a ROMANCING THE STONE (awesome movie) meets SURVIVOR (amazing reality show!). I hate camping, I’m scared of the dark, I like my belly full, thank you, and my coffee hot, so I tried to make my heroine as uncomfortable as possible.

Click below for the interview:

What is it about?
THE SCENT OF JADE is a hybrid chick-lit action/adventure that follows a woman lost in the Costa Rican rainforest with an ancient idol that may hold secrets to global warming: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00466HRVY

Was there a character you struggled with?
Julie Fraser, the protagonist, is the most important character, as the star of the show. I love her, and I had to keep making things difficult for her, and not give her an easy pass. We sometimes want to protect our babies and not let bad stuff happen to them, but half the fun is figuring out that the “bad stuff” is where it gets good!

How many unpublished books do you have lurking under your bed?
I have written 4 novels–I just can’t seem to help myself! To help with promoting THE SCENT OF JADE, I also added ‘Til Somebody Loves You, Romantic Comedy Quick-Pick, a quirky chick-lit based in Chicago, following a copywriter’s search for her one true love–featuring a damsel in distress who can save her own day! http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0047O2Q6Q

How did you find your publisher? How do they treat you? Would you recommend them?
I am a television writer living in southern California. When my agent became a victim of the economy, I pushed to get my women’s fiction novel, The Scent of Jade, on Amazon. In the first two months, there have been nearly 2000 downloads (from Amazon, the iBookstore, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords). In addition, The Scent of Jade has hit #6 in the Romantic Suspense category for Amazon in the UK–and broke through the top 100 on Amazon in the US in Romantic Suspense. One of the biggest kicks was seeing my books grouped with my idol, goddess Marian Keyes.

I can’t tell you how excited I am to be part of the digital revolution. The advent of the kindle and other eReaders, including smart phones!, has opened so many doors to so many new writers and genres, it has been an amazing adventure. I love reading new books and authors that I might not have found before.

What’s the best/worst part of being a writer?
Though some in my family would place me on Team Eeyore, meeting the requirements of insecurity, self-doubt and doom and gloom necessary to be a writer, that miasma can magically disappear with the push of a button–upon discovering a kind note from someone who actually read something I wrote and liked it, who wasn’t my mother. Pinch me, I’m dreaming, but that unbelievable feedback is enough to make it all worthwhile! I’m trying out a new slogan: Be kind, Remind…an author if you like their stories…

What is the most productive time of the day for you to write?
I’m a morning person, fueled by triple espresso–who never met a problem that couldn’t be solved by an afternoon nap and a good ten hours of sleep!

Do you start your projects writing with paper and pen or is it all on the computer.
I am petrified of being left behind in this digital revolution, (http://ogblayotspay.blogspot.com/2011/01/please-dont-say-anything.html) and do all of my projects on the computer. That said, however, every single idea was written, scribbled, and scrawled with a pen on paper first. I sometimes use crayons, gel pens on watercolor paper to fuel creativity (try that!), and love the sweet, sweet smell of a fresh Sharpie. My purse, pockets and desk are awash in sticky notes because I’ve learned the hard way–I’m convinced I would be a best-selling author by now, but I’ve forgotten what that brilliant idea was.

What/who do you draw inspiration from?
I love TV and it loves me! While I concede that I will probably never fulfill my childhood dream of writing for a soap opera, (I ended up as a news producer instead… ‘If it’s news to you, it’s news to us’…) I am eternally inspired by what I watch.

I believe in magic, happily-ever-after and the 7th sense: hope. My favorite TV shows used to be reruns of Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie, up to and including Sabrina, The Teenage Witch, and, if you haven’t discovered The Wizards of Waverly Place yet, two wands up.

I also love the magic known as HGTV–a new kitchen in 30 minutes? Voila! And as for the fairy-tale ending possibilities of House Hunters, International…A Votre Sante! (The enchantment just doesn’t get much better than watching someone with a $1.2 million budget discover a crumbling 17th century 500-square-foot three-story-house with room for only a single-sized bed, kitschy rooster fabric curtained kitchen cupboards, that does include a wee washing machine in the bathroom, with nary a dryer in site.)

Writing for television is writing for tell a vision. Producers are the authors of suspense: amping up the conflict and drama. Storytelling a vision invites the audience, through whatever medium, to stay tuned for the good stuff…coming up.

Watching eye-spinning amounts of TV is just another venue for receiving hints from the universe. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Do you set yourself goals when you sit down to write such as word count?
I am so not a numbers person (and think it’s perfectly acceptable to round out your checking account, but always in the bank’s favor) (Hello? Left brain are you even home?). I have fallen into the pattern of working to complete whatever scene or action is unfolding. If I’m curious about what’s going to happen next, I’m hoping readers will be, too!

What are you working on now that you can talk about?
I am working on the screenplay for THE SCENT OF JADE, which is also a great writing exercise. Screenplays, at 120 pages, are less than half the page count of a traditional novel, so the importance of every word, nuance and action is magnified. I am editing my novel manuscript–and then I will use a screenplay writing program called Final Draft, to format it.

I write every day–from sticky notes-to-self, to my blog, to finishing up my next novel. THE KITCHEN SHRINK, a hybrid romantic comedy/chick lit, (if your life’s a mess, your house could probably use a makeover, too…) will be published next month.

How do/did you deal with rejection letters?
I beat myself up! Rejection stinks. Any kind of “thanks-but-no-thanks-you’re-not-what-I-had-in-mind” really, really hurts. But as my mother says, it apparently builds “character.” Fooey. Since stomping around, moping and plotting out sweet, sweet vengeance doesn’t get me anywhere, it usually sends me running back to the comforting glow of my laptop!

Do you have a critique partner?
I have been part of a writing workshop for several years. For the joy of disappearing into other worlds and other people’s lives, I thank the FAT Tuesday Writers (it’s not what you think–First And Third!) for their inspiration and motivation and give them a standing ovation for allowing me to hang out with them. Again, to have someone who is not my mother reading and critiquing my story, can only help my writing; reducing adverb count, (brutally!), managing beats and deconstructing plot defects!

Dee De Tarsio is kindly offering to give away ebooks of The Scent of Jade to THREE lucky readers. The first three to comment on the blog will receive a download link via Amazon kindle gift program of The Scent of Jade…


Lily of the Nile

Stephanie Dray
With her parents dead, the daughter of Cleopatra and Mark Antony is left at the mercy of her Roman captors. Heir to one empire and prisoner of another, it falls to Princess Selene to save her brothers and reclaim what is rightfully hers…

In the aftermath of Alexandria’s tragic fall, Princess Selene is taken from Egypt, the only home she’s ever known. Along with her two surviving brothers, she’s put on display as a war trophy in Rome. Selene’s captors mock her royalty and drag her through the streets in chains, but on the brink of death, the children are spared as a favor to the emperor’s sister, who takes them to live as hostages in the so-called lamentable embassy of royal orphans…
Now trapped in a Roman court of intrigue that reviles her heritage and suspects her faith, Selene can’t hide the hieroglyphics that carve themselves into her flesh. Nor can she stop the emperor from using her for his own political ends. But faced with a new and ruthless Caesar who is obsessed with having a Cleopatra of his very own, Selene is determined honor her mother’s lost legacy. The magic of Egypt and Isis remain within her. But can she succeed where her mother failed? And what will it cost her in a political game where the only rule is win or die?

Before Stephanie Dray wrote novels, she was a lawyer, a game designer, and a teacher. Now she uses the transformative power of magic realism to illuminate the stories of women in history and inspire the young women of today. She remains fascinated by all things Roman or Egyptian and has–to the consternation of her devoted husband–collected a house full of cats and ancient artifacts.

Ever nosy, I asked her a few searching questions about Lily of the Nile and herself as a writer.

What age group is your Lily of the Nile geared towards?Lily of the Nile is one of those unusual books that straddles a few genres and age groups. Though I wrote it as an adult women’s fiction book, but was surprised by the level of interest from high school girls. I believe this is because it’s the story of a young princess who has to grow up very quickly to become a teenaged queen.

Into which genre would you say it book falls?It is historical women’s fiction accented with bouts of magical realism.

Tell us more?Lily of the Nile is the story of Cleopatra’s daughter. Selene came to Rome as a chained prisoner and left Rome a queen. That kind of journey, especially in such turbulent political times, is something that I felt deeply about.

What is your favourite scene in your book? Can we have a snippet?Wow, it’d be difficult for me to choose just one favorite scene. However, I’d love to give you a snippet!

The emperor seized me roughly by both shoulders. “And where shall I have my retort, Cleopatra? Shall I point out that you descend from an inbred line of fat kin murderers, most of whom squandered Alexander’s legacy until Egypt was an indebted skeleton for you to inherit at Caesar’s sufferance!”
He shook me until my teeth rattled. Still, I knew it wasn’t me he was screaming at. No, he was speaking to my mother. Perhaps he didn’t want to think that he had defied a goddess, or perhaps some part of him needed to grapple with my mother still.

We stared at one another, both of us aware of every sound in the room, of every breath. I’d brought this on myself to strike at him, and I felt both satisfied and unnerved by the effects. Though he had held my life in his hands since before I had even met him, he had never laid hands on me like this. He was a cool-tempered man who rarely spoke an unintended word, but now his fingers dug into my shoulders like talons. “You’re hurting me,” I whispered.

He looked right through me, trembling with rage. And his eyes—oh, his eyes. “Who are you?”
“Selene,” I murmured.
“No. You think like her. You talk like her,” he accused. Then his hand went to the nape of my neck, where he bunched my hair in his fist. My arms went limp at my sides, and droplets of blood splashed the woven carpet beneath us.

Have your characters or writing been inspired by friends/ family or by real-life experiences? I certainly never experienced the difficulties in my life that Selene faced. I’ve never been taken prisoner, I’ve never been orphaned and I grew up safe and loved. But I think every writer delves into their personal experiences and tragedies to write authentic emotions!

Can you sum the Lily of the Nile in one sentence?Heir to one empire and prisoner of another, it falls to Princess Selene to save her brothers and reclaim what is rightfully hers.

Who is your favourite character in your book and why?Selene is my favorite character because her life story moves me, but I admit that I have a soft spot for Augustus, who was Rome’s first emperor. He’s definitely the villain of my story but in trying to get into his head and come up with a consistent psychological profile that would explain his actions, I came to delight in his horrid behavior.

Which comes first for you – characters or plot?When I’m writing historical fiction, much of the plot already exists in the historical record, so it’s up to me to weave an additional sub-story through that timeline. It’s my job to fill in the blanks. But in creating my characters and getting to know them helps me to figure out how they might behave. For example, once I conceived of Augustus as a man who was obsessed with Cleopatra–a woman who killed herself before she could appreciate his genius–the story flowed naturally from there.

Who is your publisher and where are your books available? Are there e-books and hard copies available?Lily of the Nile will be published by Berkley Books, available wherever books are sold, and I’m told it will be available in both print and electronic form.

Are there any upcoming signings or appearances you’d like to mention?I just turned in the manuscript for the sequel and I’m taking a little break but I expect to have some events and signings in the coming months. I’ve been thinking about a toga party to celebrate the book launch!

Do you have an agent, or have you gone alone?My agent is the fabulous Jennifer Schober of Spencerhill Associates. Jenn was one of the very first agents I contacted about representing Lily of the Nile and I was shocked when she got back to me so quickly. All in all, I would say that my agent hunt took about a week. I realize that this isn’t normal, but Jenn is also a “Cleophile” and no one could have worked harder to make this book a reality for me.

What marketing have you been doing to help sales?Because Lily of the Nile is the first of a series, I’ve tried to give it the strongest push that I can. First, I’ve planned a long three-month blog tour. I’ve put up a giveaway on Goodreads and I’ve tried to be an active presence on twitter. I’ve also invested in bookmarks and scheduled appearances. For example, I spoke in front of four high school classes yesterday. I loved that!

What is the most productive time of the day for you to write?Honestly, it’s late at night after everyone has gone to bed or early in the morning before everyone has awakened. Twitter, email and phone calls distract me quite a bit with the business of the day.

Do you start your projects writing with paper and pen or is it all on the computer?I do all my work on the computer or a laptop. When I was suffering from tailbone pain last year I tried writing in long hand, but it was a misery. That’s just not how I compose.

What do you draw inspiration from?I draw inspiration from the lives of women in history who have faced worse obstacles than we face now. I draw inspiration from trailblazers who have made our lives easier, happier, and more fulfilling. I also draw inspiration from the unconditional love my husband gives me and the strength of my family.

Do you set yourself goals when you sit down to write such as word count?Absolutely. Because I work on deadline, I try very hard to do a fast draft and then edit it later. To that end, I try to write about 2,000 words a day during writing sprint months. If I’m taking it easier on myself, I will drop it to 1,000 words a day. However, that pace isn’t sustainable for me every day. After about nine months of doing that, I’m taking a vacation in which the only thing I write is blog posts!

What drives you to choose the career of being a writer?I love to entertain people and enthrall them with stories. This is something I’ve always loved to do, even when it seemed utterly impractical.

What are you working on now that you can talk about?I’m starting to think about my proposal for the third book in the series, which will tell the last part of Selene’s life, follow the fate of her daughter, and of course, explore the end of the Augustan Age.

What is your writing process like? Do you do a lot of background research? Do you plot every detail or do you prefer the characters to move the story in new directions, or a combination of both?I try to do all my research upfront. I immerse myself in history books and compile a list of research questions and things to include in the novel. When I’m finished with that I start plotting out the major scenes in the book. It’s the minor scenes and the subplots where I allow my imagination to run wild.

How long does it take you to write a book? Have your written other books?I’ve written romances that take me about a month, but with historical fiction, it’s a long slog. Lily of the Nile took me five years to complete, though I did take some time off in between. The sequel, Song of the Nile, took me less than a year to complete but only because I was really pushing myself.

How did you get into writing? Did you always want to become a writer?I always wanted to be a writer but my mother very sensibly suggested that this was a foolish career option and encouraged me to be a lawyer instead, but it didn’t take.

Are you working on another book? Possible to have a preview snippet or blurb of that?I’ll be happy to show you a snippet from the prologue of Song of the Nile which is narrated from the perspective of the goddess Isis:

I am nature. I am the mother of everything that has ever been or will ever be. I am all goddesses. And you know me, for I live inside of you. I am in the part of you that feels magic when the wheat is harvested and cleansing wind separates the golden grains from the chaff. I am in the part of you that sees a woman dance by the firelight and understands the sacred power of her body. I am in the part of you that has suffered dark winters of the soul and survived to see the dawn.

You know me, because I am every strong hand that has ever stretched out to help you up. I am every soft kiss that has soothed your tears. I am every warm meal that has ever filled your hungry belly. I have a thousand names, and yet, you know me.

I am the good goddess. Bona Dea. Call me Hecate or Cybele, Venus or Inanna, Tanit or Kore or Demeter. I will answer to them all. But I am properly known as Isis, for it is by this name that the world has best worshipped me.

They tell stories of how my husband was murdered, and how I raised up my son to avenge his father. This story is true, but it is a son’s story. A daughter’s journey is different. She is the keeper of my legacy. That is why there are other stories they tell about me. Stories of how my daughter was taken, pulled down into the underworld, and how I refused to work my magic until my beloved daughter returned.

This is one of those stories.

What advice would you give aspiring authors?Learn the market, learn the market, learn the market. If you’re writing for yourself, then you don’t need any advice, but if you’re writing to be read, then you really want to make sure you know who your target audience is and how to reach them.

What mistakes do you see new writers make?New writers tend to frontload their books with exposition and info dumps. Or, going to the opposite extreme, they withhold information from the reader for no compelling reason whatsoever.

What is your website and/or blog where readers can learn more? Can they friend you on Facebook or Twitter?I love when folks visit my website. Come see me at http://www.stephaniedray.com/ and contact me at www.twitter.com/stephaniehdray!

LILY OF THE NILE — Coming January 2011
You can check out the blog tour schedule at: http://www.stephaniedray.com/news/blog-tour-for-lily-of-the-nile/

Sarah O’Donoghue’s Primortia

Sarah O’Donoghue is here to talk to us about her science-fiction novel, Primortia:

“Primortia: the holy seizure that strikes without warning, the curse that has shaped Hutosan culture and civilisation. After losing her brother to Primortia, Shonoka Lagan devotes her life to studying the phenomenon. Now she believes it can be stopped. With clues from her grandmother’s diary, Shonoka begins an adventure that reveals the secrets of her family, her planet, and the ageless stranger with his peculiar green stone…”

Author of Primortia, Sarah O’Donaghue is a UK-based writer with a background in language and science teaching and she is the co-author of Oxford Content and Language Support: Science (2010 Oxford University Press).
She has been living and breathing science fiction for over twenty years. She has been involved in many fandoms from Doctor Who to steampunk but has always wanted to create her own sandbox to play in.
The world of Primortia has been in development for four years and is growing all the time.
The first of the series: Primortia is available to buy – paperback £11.99, download £3.99 from http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/primortia/12918783
I asked Sarah a few questions abut her writing, Primorita and her experience with self-publisher Lulu:
Who, or what, is Primortia?
Primortia is a seizure that strikes some people on the world of Hutosa where most of the book is set. No Hutosan knows what causes it but as the book progresses the reader discovers that nothing about Primortia is what it appears.

Can you tell us a little about it?
A religion has developed around Primortia over the centuries to the point where it defines many of the world’s cultures. People who have the seizure are known as Primortians, and it is known to run in families. Once someone has suffered a seizure they’re on a countdown to transfer, which Hutosans believe to be death. They are fitted with a Primortian Mark by the monks in their local Primortian Temple and are released on condition that they return just before their transfer. This period of time can vary but it’s never more than a few months. The Primortian Temples control Primortians and therefore the fear the general population has of the condition and those who suffer it.
Is Shonoka the main character of the book? What is she about?
Primortia is the story of two women. Shonoka, known to her friends and family as Shony, is on a search to discover what Primortia is. She lost her brother to Primortia when they were children and she has dedicated her life to discovering its secrets. When the novel opens she’s an academic, about to enter what she knows will be a loveless marriage, who is starting to work out some of what Primortia is. We meet her at her grandmother’s funeral. She was very close to her grandmother, Piany, and Shony starts to learn more about her grandmother through the diaries she left behind. The diaries give her information about Piany’s mysterious past and the adventures she got involved with before Shony was born. Shony is inspired to break free from what society expects from her and pursue the truth of Primortia. She gets caught up in a quest she never imagined with a man from her grandmother’s past, and finds out that Primortia has consequences far beyond her world.

What era is Primortia set?
Primortia is set across multiple eras and locations but Shony’s story unfolds in her world’s modern-day which has technology loosely comparable to ours. Hutosa has regular space travel within its own system but people still like to travel by ship. Most cultures have evolved from monarchies to democracies, but religion is dictated by a central order of Primortian monasteries.

How much research did it involve?
The first ideas for Primortia were sparked about five years ago when I had the idea of a woman learning about her grandmother from diaries she’d left behind. From there I started to world-build Hutosa and the other locations and eras within the story. I have always had an interest in science and there is a very important mineral within the novel that became a character itself. I drew on courses I have taken in astronomy and geology to create a source and properties for this mineral which, whilst not exactly true to science, are at least vaguely plausible!

How does it compare with other novels?
I’ve been reading and involved with science fiction for over twenty years and whilst I love the ‘hard’ science fiction of Clarke, Verne and Asimov I’ve always been drawn to science fiction written by women like Marge Piercy and Connie Willis. I love Connie Willis’ work, particularly her novel Bellwether. Her books combine romance, science and science fiction in fascinating ways and I’ve aimed to mix up the genres as she has done.

What audience is the book intended?
Not to sound selfish but I primarily wrote what I wanted most to read! There is very little science fiction with a romantic element out there and I wanted more! Primortia contains space-faring, technologically-based societies, time travel and a brutal war; but it’s also the story of two women, one in the present and one in the past, each trying to escape what their society expects of them and to find out the truth about their families. I hope the novel will appeal to anyone who enjoys science fiction for adults.

How long did it take you to write it, and how many drafts?
The actual writing took about two years. The first half was written as my project for NaNoWriMo back in 2006 and then I wrote another story, set in the same universe in 2007/8. It was then that I discovered that the story was actually one continuous novel and spent the next eighteen months in Editing Hell, moulding and enriching the storyline to create what became the finished book. Looking at my hard drive I went through 16 drafts. I really hope I never need quite so many again!

Will you be interested in writing another genre?
Not at the moment. The science fiction and fantasy genres have been my home for over twenty years because they are so rich. I can’t remember who said it but I’ve read that the grand stories of our time can only be contained by an arena as vast as SF/fantasy. Older societies had mythologies and sagas. SF/fantasy is where our battles between heroes and villains, gods and demons are now played out.

Is it going to be part of a series?
I’ve just started writing the sequel to Primortia, using NaNoWriMo 2010 to kickstart the writing process. Primortia 2 (not the final title!) will answer all the major questions left at the end of Primortia, but there are many other stories to be told within the Primortian universe so it’s a place I plan to come back to in future books. I’m aiming for a reader to be able to pick up Primortia 2 and jump right into the story but the books are designed to be read in order.

Do you have a favourite scene in the book? Can we have a snippet?
I think it has to be the scene where Shony first explores a place called the Sundial Garden. I’ve always loved sundials and their image is woven throughout the novel. Here’s a snippet:

One dial appeared to be made of clear glass, raised looping patterns etched onto its matching base, numbers unrecognisable. She was familiar with the Dargan Firescript of another dial, mounted on a base of volcanic rock, pockmarked with chips exposing the voids within the stone. Next to a sundial carved into a large block of horostone, another base was engraved with spirals and swirls. They were ancient carvings, perhaps dating back to the Samana Dynasty. She remembered reading of their ancient priesthood who worshipped the end of the world and, stooping to look at the worn carvings, she could make out crude figures running from a large spiky shape in the sky. An explosion perhaps? Intrigued, she knelt on the grass, her finger tracing the patterns in the crumbling sandstone. From her new position she could see some of the figures were prostrate, perhaps praying, perhaps dying. Then she saw a blurred shape at the centre of the explosion. It was a large, deep rectangle. Age had barely blurred the edges of the shape.

 Are you agented?

No, I’m not agented and I haven’t tried to find an agent for Primortia for a number of reasons. Firstly, I know that very few agents will touch Science Fiction, secondly, I want to keep control of my books and finally I see internet publishing as getting more and more powerful year by year. Thanks to the internet I can get my book printed, promoted and distributed right around the world; and thanks to the internet I can interact with readers and writers on every continent.

You published with Lulu. What was your experience with them?
I’ve been really pleased with Lulu. I did a lot of research before deciding to go self-published, and I did a lot of research before deciding to go with Lulu. I read a lot of other authors’ websites to find out about their experiences and in the end Lulu seemed best for me.

Were they expensive?
I haven’t given Lulu a penny!

If you hit a problem were they there for you?
So far I haven’t hit any problems, but any queries I’ve had about formatting, distribution etc have been answered on their comprehensive user forums.

Do they help with marketing?
I’ve opted for their Extended Reach distribution package which has given me a Lulu ISBN and distribution with Amazon (that should be online within the month). Again, all this has been free. I’ve taken on marketing duties myself, setting up my website www.primortia.com and getting involved in science fiction and writing communities.

Did they typeset the novel?
The option is there but I chose to do this myself. Again, other author pages gave me great advice on formatting the manuscript correctly. I have reasonable IT skills and found typesetting fairly painless.

Did they arrange your bookcover/blurb?
I designed the cover myself and a good friend wrote my blurb.

And finally would you use them again?

Would you call yourself a full time writer?
I’m on a career break from teaching at the moment so, for the next few months at least, I am a full time writer.
Do you have any writing experience?
I’ve always been immersed in words. My first degree is in English Language and Literature and I taught English as a foreign language for over 10 years. I have taken a couple of short writing courses but I’ve learned far more about the craft by reading fiction and getting out there and writing my own.

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=wiswor0a-21&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0199135304&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrYou are the co-author of Oxford Content and Language Support what is this book about, and how much input did you have as a co-author?
OCLS Science came out of my background in science and English Language teaching. I saw there was a gap in the market for books to help second language teenagers get to grips with science topics, so I put a proposal together and approached a number of publishers.
Academic writing is the only area I’ve found where publishers are willing to look at unsolicited proposals and so I was able to move forward without an agent.
Oxford University Press were interested in my ideas and asked for a science workbook for second language students. I asked a science teacher friend of mine to get involved and we ended up splitting writing duties 50/50: she wrote the science material, I then unpacked the science content through a variety of exercises and sections on grammar, comprehension and vocabulary. I also compiled a chapter on study skills and a glossary to explain complex scientific terms in straightforward English. It’s been a fantastic project and it’s given me a valuable professional writing credit that I want to build on in the future.


A Proper Charlie – chicklit novel.

A Proper Charlie
Charlie Wallis has everything a girl could wish for: a trendy flat, a loving boyfriend and a fantastic job as a newspaper journalist.

Trouble is Charlie’s boyfriend is a loser, her job title really reads `clerk` and her flat, at the top of a high-rise, isn’t that nice after all.
Her new boss, Ben, is a huge bear of a man. A gentle giant, with chocolate brown eyes that hold a secret.
While her paper investigates the disappearances of local prostitutes, Charlie wants in on the action, deciding that dressing as a hooker and walking the streets is good research.

Bumping into Ben was the last thing she expected.
A story of opposites who not only attract, but ignite!
Out Now!
To buy from Amazon.co.uk click HERE or from Amazon.com click THIS And thank you.
Chapter One
Charlie loves Andy. Andy loves Charlie. Charlie has an exciting job working for a daily newspaper. The newspaper is called London Core. Charlie’s life is exciting and fulfilled. Charlie tells lies.

Charlie Wallis sat at her desk writing on an old summary report. Around her, the hubbub of her colleagues, planning the office party, presented snatches of conversation.

‘… where can I get an Amy Winehouse wig?’

‘… I’ve an Elvis wig, would that do?’

‘… Fanny’s looking. Head down, pretend to work…’

‘… where can I get an Amy Winehouse wig?

She sighed, and doodled a stick figure with a sad face. Telephones rang; some were answered while others trilled relentlessly. Sarah ran past, shrieking, ‘I’ve Jordan Price on line two for you, Faye.’ Charlie stopped paperwork from her pending tray floating in the excited woman’s wake, and watched as Faye received this apparently thrilling news.

London Core, even though termed ‘rag’ by others in the trade, pulled in a decent amount of readers – no wonder the Middleton Group wanted to buy it. Had bought it, she corrected unhappily.

The Middleton Group was renowned for swallowing up small newspapers like Core, changing the dynamics of the workforce, creating redundancies and relocating staff. Management had called a meeting earlier this morning and told them of the takeover and merge with the national The Globe, another of Middleton’s publications. They’d been assured their jobs were safe, but undoubtedly there would be shake-ups.

There was a shocked silence when all had trooped back into the open-plan office, which had lasted all of thirty seconds when everyone began talking at once.

Charlie stopped doodling for a moment to add Charlie loves her job to her nonsense writing. But her job doesn’t love Charlie, she continued in an illegible scrawl. She doodled another sad face, added tears and after a moment’s hesitation, jug ears.

Even though management had assured them their jobs were safe, rumours had been rife. And because of that, the workers were organising a party to either celebrate or commiserate with those who may be chucked by the wayside.

The party had been arranged, and venue booked inside an hour after the takeover was announced. It’d been organised to coincide with the official date of the takeover in two weeks’ time. From a Tarts and Victors party, it was now going to be a pop-star fancy dress, past and present, and Charlie planned to go as Ginger Spice. She sighed again, and fingered a strand of her red hair. How could she enjoy herself at the party knowing her job was on the line and that her boyfriend was about to dump her?

She’d been seeing Andy Chambers for seven months; seven months and two days to be exact, and she’d been certain he was going to ask her to marry him. He’d mentioned settling down on several occasions, admittedly they might have been made in a jest, but still, why plant the seed if you don’t want it sown, as a foster carer used to say.

Charlie had spent her childhood in a children’s home. She’d have loved a family of her own, but it was never to be. It was at the top of her list of future achievements. Second was keeping her job. Third, having her ears pinned back when she won the lottery. All to be crossed out simultaneously, she thought dolefully.

Andy wasn’t going to ask her to marry him. She’d brought it up last month and practically had to resuscitate him.

‘I’m like a bird,’ he had said. ‘A wild bird that can never be tamed.’

She had repeated the conversation to Melvin, her best friend, who’d said if Andy was a bird, he’d be a turkey. It hadn’t helped. And ever since then, Andy had been distant towards her, and she knew the signs, even if she pretended not to. The cancelled dates, long trips away… they all signalled one thing and that was she was soon-to-be single – and jobless as well.

‘You dozy mare!’ shrieked Faye, and Charlie looked up ready with a retort but for a change the insult hadn’t been hurled at her. The deliverer of ‘Jordan Price on line two’ was Sarah, red-faced and in direct line of Faye’s attack. Charlie watched with interest, glad that for once, she was in the clear.

‘That!’ Faye boomed. ‘Wasn’t Big Tits Jordan, it was Jordan Price the catalogue model – a bloody fella. How the hell did you make that mistake? I need Jordan – Katie Price – the one with the big knockers, you moron. Jesus, Sarah, have you been drinking from the same cup as Charlie today?’

Cheeky bugger! She’d been quietly sitting here all morning; purposely not talking, or working for that matter, and keeping out of everyone’s way and she’d still received a sarky comment from queen bitch.

Melvin, sitting at the desk in front of her, turned with a grin. ‘Faye’s on the ball today,’ he said, andlaughed.

‘Not from where I’m sitting,’ said Charlie.

Mel flicked off imaginary fluff from his T-shirt, which bore the slogan: I’m knot a real blonde, I’m Knot, and fixed her with a concerned gaze. ‘You know, you’ve been causing a draught down the back of my neck for the last hour. I thought if I ignored you you’d cheer up.’

‘Thanks,’ she said dryly.

Melvin pouted in an attempt to imitate her gloomy face. ‘You’re really down, aren’t you? Come on, tell uncle Melly, what’s the matter.’

‘I’m going to be unemployed and single, which means I won’t be able to pay my rent and I’m going to end up an old spinster like my neighbour, Mavis. Oh God, I’ll have to buy a budgie. I hate budgies.’
‘Fanny’s assured us our jobs are safe,’ he said, although he didn’t look convinced. Mr Fanton was their managing editor, and called ‘Fanny’, although never to his face.

‘It’s last in, first out. And I haven’t exactly made a brilliant impression, have I? Fanny hates me,’ she added, remembering on her first morning the way his bulky frame appeared out of nowhere after she’d shredded what turned out to be important documents. He’d stood over her, his chins wobbling around his neck, beads of sweat on his upper lip as his comb-over hung limply down one side of his face. Charlie stifled a giggle at the memory. She sobered. Ever since then her relationship with him had been a non-starter. It was sad really.

‘Don’t antagonise him, then.’

‘I don’t!’

‘Not intentionally maybe,’ he said. ‘Just be on your best behaviour until you sign your new contract, doll.’ He pushed against his desk to free wheel in his office chair towards her desk. He lowered his voice. ‘So what’s this about “being single”? What’s Andy Pandy done now?’

‘He’s done nothing – yet. I hope I’m just being over dramatic like usual.’

‘Sounds ominous.’ He clicked his fingers. ‘Don’t tell me, you’ve seen the light and chucked him for a homeless drunk in a shop doorway, stinking of piss? You’ve gotta admit the better prospects there, doll.’

Melvin didn’t like Andy and never bothered to hide it. He was fed up of the ‘chances’ Charlie had repeatedly given him in the past. And while he thought she was treated like shite, she thought Andy was a romantic drifter; spontaneous and exciting.

‘He’s going to chuck me any day now. It’s like I’m waiting for the noose to tighten. God, I hate my life.’ She lowered her forehead to rest on her doodlings. ‘It always goes wrong,’ she muttered.

‘Baby doll,’ Melvin said. ‘The man’s a prat, and you’d be better off without him – if only you could see it. But as for your job, you are not going to lose it.’

She looked up; the report was sticking to her forehead. ‘But it’s Fanny’s choice, not yours.’

Melvin yanked off the paper, leaving an inky stickfigure imprint on her forehead. He was grinning. ‘It’s Mr Middleton’s actually, our new boss, so whether Fanny hates you or not, is irrelevant.’

At that moment, Faye thudded past their desks, storming up the aisle and shouting to the air, ‘I’m going to be Baby Spice. Those who mix up a man with Katie Price don’t deserve first pickings.’

Charlie and Melvin watched as Sarah followed, answering back in a singsong voice, ‘It was my idea, and I’m Baby.’

If Faye was queen bitch, then Sarah was princess bitch. Charlie and Melvin often had to duck behind their desks as the insults hurled from one to the other. Still, it made the day tick along nicely.

Melvin raised his eyebrows at Charlie, who pulled a face in return. ‘This party is causing more problems than it’s worth,’ he said.

‘I can’t see why they’re arranging it, anyway. It’ll be like a kick in the teeth for those who’ve lost their jobs.’

‘OK THEN!’ Faye announced loudly. ‘We’ll ask Melvin,’ she said, causing Melvin to groan even louder. Charlie giggled.

‘Mel…’ Faye began, as she sauntered over. She pouted and pushed out her more than ample chest as she shamelessly flirted. Sarah, glancing down at her flat chest, stood normally. ‘We’ve decided to join Charlie and become a Spice Girl for this do –’

Charlie’s groan was ignored.

‘- and we value your opinion,’ Faye went on. ‘We both want to be Baby Spice, so Mel, as a superior member of staff you get to choose.’

‘Lucky me,’ he said, as Charlie snorted behind him. Melvin Giles was senior copy editor and it had been mainly down to him that Charlie became an employee of London Core. They had met in a children’s home; both orphaned. She was a skinny seven-year-old and he was a skinnier nine-year-old. They’d bonded instantly and pretended they were brother and sister to anyone who seemed interested, little realising that the system would split them up when Charlie was twelve and Melvin fourteen.

‘What happened to Lady Gaga?’ he asked.

‘She found out Bev on reception’s going as her,’ said Sarah with a hoot of laughter. ‘We both thought it’d be a good idea to dress as the rest of the Spice group and obviously with my blonde hair I’d be the perfect Baby.’

Faye cleared her throat and said, ‘Right, now which one is Baby?’

‘Sarah,’ he said.

Charlie clamped a hand over her mouth to hold back her laughter over the look on Faye’s face.

Faye glared at him, her hands on her hips. ‘And your reason?’

‘You’re black.’

Faye stroked the back of her neck, then placed her hands back on her hips. ‘Forget the obvious,’ she said.

‘As a superior member of staff,’ he said, quoting her and dismissing her simultaneously, ‘discuss this at lunchtime. Charlie,’ he said, turning back towards her, ‘meeting at the vending machine, pronto.’

Charlie tugged her forelock. ‘Aye, aye, Cap’n.’

At the machine, Melvin ordered two coffees. It served tea instead, but as they were lucky to receive anything at all from the temperamental machine, they didn’t complain.

‘As I was saying, everyone needs an office clerk and you make a great one, doll,’ he said. ‘Anyway, Fanny reckons the Mid Group will keep all staff on. It’ll still be London Core, and you and me will still have jobs. Look on the bright side, doll, we might even get a promotion.’

‘Good luck never lasts, Mel, you know that,’ she said. ‘And I’ve had too much of that lately.’ She raised a hand and began to count off her fingers. ‘Us,’ she indicated herself and Melvin, ‘Andy, and then a job with Core. I even passed my driving test and got a little car! Mel, the luck simply can’t last.’

‘You’re talking alien again,’ he said and Charlie punched him on the arm.

‘So why weren’t we told about this takeover earlier? I mean, as from next week some guy called Donald Middleton will be our boss. Sir Donald Middleton, in fact. Will I have to curtsy?’ She chewed on her lip.

‘That’s just royalty, doll.’ He smiled down at her affectionately. ‘I don’t recommend you try it. Old Middleton might think you’re taking the piss.’

She pouted, but already felt better. Melvin always did that to her; made her feel wanted and worthwhile.

He suddenly enveloped her in a bear hug. He was Charlie’s best friend/brother/father figure all rolled into one tall, skinny frame. And with cropped blond hair, several ear piercings and black eye-lined eyes he was as gay as a Maypole.

‘As long as we have one another,’ he said. ‘We’ll always be bessy mates, won’t we?’

‘Always,’ she said the best she could with her face pressed against his chest.

‘Feeling better now?’ he asked, releasing her.

Charlie nodded.

‘Good. So, is going as a Spice Girl official, even though the ugly sisters are joining the group?’ he asked.

Charlie laughed. ‘It’ll be OK. Girls on News are going as Girls Aloud. Jen wants Jimbob to go as Simon Cowell just because she’s Cheryl Cole. But I think going as a Spice Girl is more recognisable, don’t you?’

‘Only because you want to wear the Union Jack frock.’

She grinned. ‘Yeah. I shall look on eBay.’

He laughed. ‘So, who’ll go as Posh?’

‘Juliet did say she’d come with me.’ They both looked across as Juliet stood to retrieve a mound of paperwork from a shelf above her desk. Her shirt sleeves fell back to reveal many tattoos. She plonked the paperwork on her desk and the motion caused her family-pack of cheesy puffs to fall to the floor. She swore, snatched them up and filled her mouth.

‘Good choice.’

Charlie nodded. ‘I shall ask Andy to come with me. He could go as Bon Jovi. He loves his music.’

‘Pete Doherty would be better.’

Charlie threw him a look, and Melvin looked back unashamed.

‘OK,’ he said. ‘So maybe Doherty is a little tame for Andy Pandy.’

Charlie exchanged her look for another light punch. ‘Andy’s off drugs now. He told me.’

Melvin raised twin eyebrows. ‘Run out of benefits?’

‘I will not dignify that question with an answer,’ she said primly.

Margaret Tanner, Australian Historical Romance

Frontier Wife
Margaret Tanner 

Frontier WifeOnly in the new world can a highborn young Englishwoman and a tough frontier man, ignite the passion that will fulfil their hopes and dreams in ways they never imagined possible.

Tommy Lindsay arrives in colonial Australia to claim the rundown farm she and her brothers have inherited.
Hidden behind her fragile English rose beauty, beats the heart of a courageous young woman. She will need all this strength to survive the unforgiving heat, and the dangers lurking around every corner. Lost in the bush, capture by a feral mountain family, raging bushfires are nothing, compared to the danger she faces if she gives her heart to Adam Munro.

Adam Munro, a rugged frontier man, has no room in his heart to love a woman. All he ever wanted was a presentable wife who would provide him with heirs. He didn’t need passion in his life, not until he met the beautiful English rose living next door to him.

About the author:
Margaret Tanner is an award winning multi-published Australian author. She loves delving into the pages of history as she carries out research for her historical romance novels, and prides herself on being historically correct. No book is too old or tattered for her to trawl through, no museum too dusty. Many of her novels have been inspired by true events, with one being written around the hardships and triumphs of her pioneering ancestors in frontier Australia. She once spent a couple of hours in an old goal cell so she could feel the chilling cold and fear.

Things you probably don’t know about Margaret Tanner:

  • Her favourite historical period is the 1st World War, and she has visited the battlefields of Gallipoli, France and Belgium, a truly poignant experience.
  • Margaret is a member of the Romance Writers of Australia, the Melbourne Romance Writers Group (MRWG) and EPIC.
  • She won the 2007 Author of the Year at AussieAuthors.com. She also won it for a 2nd time in 2010.  
  • Margaret has two publishers. Whiskey Creek Press and The Wild Rose Press.  
  • Margaret is married and has three grown up sons, and a gorgeous little granddaughter.
  • Outside of her family and friends, writing is her passion.

Historical romance is clearly your passion, can you reveal more about why you write in this genre?
Like the heroines in my novels, my forebears left their native shores in sailing ships to forge a new life in the untamed frontiers of colonial Australia. They battled bushfires, hardship and the tyranny of distance in an inhospitable and savage land, where only the tough and resilient would survive. They not only survived but prospered in ways that would not have been possible for them had they stayed in England and Scotland.

I am a fourth generation Australian. We are a tough, resilient people, and we have fought hard to find our place in the world. We have beautiful scenery, unique wild life, and a bloodied convict history.

I admire heroines who are resourceful, not afraid to fight for her family and the man she loves. I want my readers to be cheering for her, willing her to obtain her goals, to overcome the obstacles put in her way by rugged frontier men who think they only want a wife to beget sons. A chance for revenge. To consolidate their fortunes. That love is for fools. Oh, the victory for the reader when these tough, ruthless men succumb to the heroine’s bravery and beauty, are prepared to risk all, even their lives, to save her.

Then there are the brave young men who sailed thousands of miles across the sea in World War 1 to fight for mother England, the birth country of their parents and grandparents. I also wanted to write about the wives and sweethearts who often waited in vain for their loved ones to return. Who were there to nurture the returning heroes, heal their broken bodies and tormented souls.

This is why I write historical romance, even if it means trawling through dusty books in the library, haunting every historical site on the internet, badgering elderly relatives, and risking snake-bite by clambering around overgrown cemeteries.

Excerpt from Frontier Wife

Australia – 1879
Tommy Lindsay wiped her damp forehead with a lace handkerchief. Perspiration ran in rivulets between her breasts, pooling at the waistband of her gown and leaving a damp patch. She coughed a couple of times to clear the dust clogging up her throat.
“I don’t like it here.” Her little brother, Jamie, kicked one of the leather sea trunks and she was tempted to join him. “Why doesn’t someone come?”
A few boxes and trunks stacked on the hotel verandah held all her possessions and those of her two brothers. Just thinking about how the once proud Lindsay family had been reduced to such pernicious circumstances caused tears to build up at the back of her eyes. She wouldn’t cry. She couldn’t afford such a luxury, not with a young brother and a sick older brother to worry about. She had to be strong, resolute.
Warrior, a thoroughbred black stallion, stomped and snorted restlessly.
“Easy, boy.” David patted the stallion’s glistening neck. “How much longer do we have to hang around, Tommy?”
“I don’t know.” Her voice trembled even though she fought to control it. “Uncle Henry’s lawyer said someone would take us to the farm. Do you think he might have forgotten? Maybe he got the days mixed up?”
Sick dread washed over her. Oh, God, what if this desperate undertaking of theirs failed? It was sheer madness sailing thousands of miles across the sea to start a new life in an alien, hostile country, but what other choice did they have?

Other books from Margaret Tanner (The Wild Rose Press):
Cardinal Sin
Holly And The Millionaire
Shattered Dreams
The Trouble With Playboys
Wild Oats
Shattered Dreams
The Frontier Wife
Reluctant Father – release date September 17th 2010

To know more about Margaret Tanner or buy books from The Wild Rose Press visit: http://www.thewildrosepress.com/margaret-tanner-m-281.html

Margaret Tanner’s books from Whiskey Creek Press:

Devils Ridge
Savage Utopia
Stolen Birthright

Website: www.whiskeycreekpress.com/

Visit Margaret Tanner at: http://www.margarettanner.com/

 Read about rugged, hot blooded frontier men and the resourceful, passionate women who tamed them.

Romance/chicklit Novels by L.A. Dale

L.A. Dale
School teacher, Flora Owens thought she had the perfect life. Everything was as it should be until the morning she found her knickers had been stolen from the line again. She should have known it was an omen.
Now, the positive chi of her ordered world is in tatters. Her boss has broken his leg and been replaced by the man she thought she would never see again, the parents are complaining and her colleagues are behaving oddly. Added to that, she is so far in lust with her new boss she can’t even think.
Stalkers, saucy love affairs and a mild case of OCD.

What’s a girl to do?

Perhaps… Perhaps… is due to be released by Night Publishing soon.

LA Dale is a fiction writer, living in Perth, Western Australia, the most remote city in the world but by no means the most boring. She has been writing for the past ten years, delving mostly into women’s fiction and chicklit. For LA, this means sex, humour and a good dose of reality but definitely no heaving bosoms or rugged cowboys.

LA has completed 3 novels – Heart of Glass, which was released in June 2010, Perhaps…. Perhaps which will be published by Night Publishing later this year and The Taming of the Bastard which she is currently editing. Her other works in progress include a set of short stories in the Romantic Erotica genre and a new romance based on the Dire Straits song “Romeo and Juliet.”

You can learn more about LA Dale here or follow her on Twitter. Join her on Facebook or visit her website.
Heart of Glass

The year is 1979.
An uncool girl in the cool crowd, Bella Stone finds herself the girlfriend to footballer, Ben James, the boy everybody wants to date. Ben and Bella are destined to be together and yet somehow, life has a way of keeping them apart.

Feeling betrayed by Ben, Bella reinvents herself as the life of the party. In a desperate attempt to find the love she lost, she almost loses everything.
Now, it’s 1987.

Ben is back but Bella has grown up and moved on. Is it too late?

Heart of Glass is a tale of the fragility of the human heart, a longing that will not be tamed and a promise that no matter what, someone will always love you.

This book is currently available:

• in eBook format
• in paperback at Amazon
• from Angus and Robertson bookstores in Western Australia
• or by direct purchase (free postage and signed) from the author.

I asked LA a few questions:

Tell us about your current book?

Heart of Glass was written about four years ago and was written because I was very lonely having moved with my husband and family from Tasmania to Western Australia and writing seemed like a good way to fill in the time when the kids were asleep and my husband was away working. I had the idea based on first loves we all have and it went from there but it grew into something much bigger.

Why that genre?
I love romances and happy endings. Most of the movies I choose are of that genre also. Chick lit appeals to my weird sense of humour. I love that a lot of them are written in first person

What gives you the stimulus to write this particular genre?
I have a very vivid imagination. Obviously, I read a lot of books like these and watch a lot of movies. Plus, I take things from real life experiences, not necessarily my own but maybe those I’ve heard of or witnessed. I love music too. Lyrics – esp U2 – provide heaps of inspiration.

Have you tried to write in another genre?
No but I am currently nutting out the ideas for a children’s book based on a little boy I taught who was always asking questions. I also want to try my hand at short story erotica.

Is your book a stand-alone or part of a series?
At the moment, all the books Ive written are stand alone. I tend to want a resolution for stories. I get extremely cross when books/movies don’t end with and ‘ending’.

Have your characters or writing been inspired by friends/ family?
Heart of Glass has some characters that were based on people I knew at University and School but the events were entirely fictional. I tend to start with a character idea and then the character sort of takes on their own persona even if they were originally based on someone.

What are you working on now?
I’m tossing up whether to go back and edit my third story The Taming of the Bastard or start a whole new story. It’s a love story based on the Dire Straits song ‘Romeo and Juliet”.

What is your favourite scene in your book? Can we have a snippet?
I absolutely love the scene in Heart of Glass where Bella tells Ben to set her free. It was originally set to the lyrics of Don’t Throw it All Away by Andy Gibb but I had to remove them because of copyright.

We looked at each other. His blue eyes were darker than usual. His hand trembled a little as he lifted his glass. “I didn’t cheat on you. You know I didn’t.”
I sat silently. I did know it. It was there, in his eyes.
If he says he wants me back, I swear, I’ll throw my drink in his face, I thought.
“I don’t know what else to say.”
My hand twisted at the tablecloth. If he says he still loves me I’m going to deck him. Truly.
“I love you, Bel’.”
I looked into his eyes. They were melting the ice block I’d built around my heart. I wanted to tell him I still felt the same, no matter what he had done.
“Well… I guess that’s all I wanted to say,” he said.
Sitting straight as a rod, I took another drag on my cigarette. Don’t let him see your pain; don’t let him know it hurts to have him near. “When are you going back to Melbourne?”
It sounded so final. Tomorrow. It was always over so suddenly, never any time to become used to the idea.
“Will you dance with me, for old time’s sake?”
Oh, to have him close again, the way it used to be.
He took my hand, and led me to the dance floor. The band was playing “Don’t Throw it All Away on Love”, drawing the older guests up from their seats. The words of the song rang in my ears, bringing tears to my eyes, like something I’d forgotten long ago and needed to remember.
Taking me in his arms, Ben guided me around the floor and from the corner of my eye, I could see Prue and Lucy, their faces glowing, thinking they had performed their job of matchmakers well. If only they’d known what it was doing to me. A double murder wasn’t out of the question.
Content to let him lead, I let my mind drift as I listened to the music and we floated together around the room. I’d forgotten what a wonderful dancer he was. I’d forgotten how good it was to touch him, to feel his warmth and strength beneath my fingertips. Instinctively, my head fell to its natural resting place against his chest. I breathed him in, every inch of him. He’d always smelled so good.
Ben sighed as my body relaxed against his. He must have sensed the change for he pulled me closer, holding me in the circle of his embrace. His cheek came down gently, to rest upon my head as we danced and the tears dripped down my cheek.
“Do you forgive me?”
He could feel in my body. He knew I’d forgiven him. I’d forgiven him but I could not forget.
“Oh Bella, I’m so sorry. I don’t know why I keep hurting you. All I ever wanted was to love you.”
And all I wanted was to be loved.
Lifting my head, I examined his face, looking into his heart, trying to read his mind. I knew he wanted me back but I couldn’t bear to hear him say it. I felt it too, but I couldn’t give any more. The pain inside cut too deep.
Please don’t ask me to love you again Ben, my eyes begged, beseeching him to release the chains that held my heart and let me go free. I can’t do it, it’s too hard.
It was too late. It was over.

Do you have an agent, or have you gone alone?
Heart of Glass is self-published. I presented it to a number of different people but the all told me it didn’t fit into the mould enough to be mainstream.

Perhaps… Perhaps is going to be released by Night Publishing, a small independent group with some very talented authors and I’m very happy to be one of them.

Who is your publisher, or who do you self-publish with?
I SP’d through a company in Australia, just near where I live – SelfPublish Australia. They are a division of Fontaine Press. I’m very happy with the quality of the books they’ve produced for me.

Would you SP again?
Yes, but its very hard to get sales without a fan base. Building a platform is crucial if you SP.

Thoughts on SP?
Now that so many options are open to us in regards to getting our work out there, its very easy to SP. Its also easy to get caught up in a rubbish product. For SP authors, editing and checking every last detail in production is so important. I got a book from the net the other day with so many typos, it was ridiculous and the formatting looked so unprofessional. If you SP you have to make your book look just like it came from a bookstore.

How long does it take you to write a book?
I only write in the evenings and when I get spare minutes. Heart of Glass took about 18 months and the same with Perhaps… Perhaps.

Which comes first for you – characters or plot?
Usually both in tandem but the plot often changes as I write depending on where the characters take me.

How did you get into writing? Did you always want to become a writer?
No, but when I was at Uni I found essay writing very easy and I loved reading. I wrote some poetry and short stories then but never thought about it as a career.

What mistakes do you see new writers make?
Thinking that the first draft is good enough. I don’t know anybody who could be that good. And giving up too easily. Writing is fun but it’s not always easy and sometimes it’s very frustrating.

What advice would you give aspiring authors?
Network, network, network. It’s amazing what you learn just by being online and talking to like-minded people. Other writers are always willing to share and help you.
Join a writers group for feedback.
Don’t give up.