Thursday, 5 December 2013

The Plot Thickens Cover Reveal

The Plot Thickens A Novella
Sémya Slotin Mystery #1.5
By Danielle-Claude Ngontang Mba
Mystery Romance
Expected Release Date: December 27th, 2013

Polliannah’s side of the story…
When Polliannah Koch met John Allen, she thought that she had finally found her Prince Charming. But when John Allen set his sight on Polliannah Koch Guryev, he knew his days would be numbered if he weren't careful. He had a job to do and the beautiful Miss Koch Guryev was his insurance policy. But things got out of hand and he had to leave London for his safety…but not without her. 


(unedited version)
Polliannah held her breath and tried to make herself as little as possible. She could see their living room through the bathroom’s mirror but she couldn't  make out what they were saying. They were arguing and she knew that it was about her. The man pulled out a gun and Polliannah closed her eyes. Her last memory of John would not be his execution. No, it would be the day he entered her store and caught her dancing, their first kiss or the first time they made love or–
Three shots were fired through a silencer and Polliannah heard the body fall on the floor. She held her mobile and the gun against her chest and started to pray as the man was looking around the rooms. The same prayer she used to do every time she found her mother unconscious and was not sure if she was alive or dead. If there was a God for a hard-core addict like her mother there got to be one for a hopeless romantic like her. Gospodi zashchitit menya … Gospodi zashchitit menya…Today cannot be my last… 



Bird Of Prey

Buy links 
on sale at 99 cents

Author links

Bird Of Prey Blog Tour Giveaway
1 $25 GC amazon, iTunes or BN
10 Kindle Copies of The Plot Thickens, Bird Of Prey first sequel

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Swear words: To use or not to use by Nana Prah


A huge thanks to Alissa for letting me take over her blog for the day. It was very generous of her knowing how much promoting she has to do for her newly released book The Blog Affair, Yay!

I used to be the girl who tisked when someone uttered a swear word. In high school and college my best friend used enough of them for the both of us. I’m pretty sure the transition from being a profanity virgin to slut occurred when I became a nurse. I’ve only met one nurse who never cussed. She was sweeter than candy - golly, gosh, and oh bother were her words of choice.

Some people interject swear words in a sentence as a descriptive word of sorts.

Example: This is some f*^#ing delicious toast.

Is that really necessary? Not in my opinion, but to each his or her own. For me they should be used to express extreme displeasure or fascination. Something along the lines of:

Pick this s%@t up from my front yard before I shove my foot up your f*^#ing ass.

I’d say someone was serious about getting their yard cleaned. By the way ass is not a cuss word in my world, unless you’re hanging around children, then I’d curtail its use.

I’ve noticed books have increased their use of swear words. Sometimes when I’m reading, all of a sudden the hero cusses. The odd thing is that it doesn’t pull me out of the scene because often times the author uses it well. Sometimes these words are the best ones to use. No other would give as much of an impact.

You scared me.
You scared the feces out of me.
You scared the s%@t out of me.

Now you tell me who was more frightened.

Swear words should be used sparingly in a romance. I’ll give more leeway to chick lit. It should convey something extreme. If there’s a character with a vulgar personality, then the cuss words should flow, because the reader would be shocked if he or she didn’t use them.

In my debut novel Love Through Time, by golly goodness, you’re darn tootin’ I use swear words, but as I advise above, it’s rare and usually pops out during one of the heroine’s fight scenes. Here is a blurb and excerpt for your f*^#ing reading pleasure (I couldn’t resist).

Tell me what you think about swear words in romance and chick lit.



Defending her family – no problem. Recalling past lives – maybe just a small problem. Taking a chance on love again – well…

Jasmine Gibson has her world turned upside down when she meets gorgeous Sean Taylor. He’s the first man she’s been attracted to since her fiancé dumped her two years ago. But when the disturbing daydreams start, Jasmine begins to fear that her actions in a past life may have finally caught up with her.

Sean finds it impossible to stay away from Jasmine even though he can’t shake the inexplicable feeling of betrayal, simmering deep inside him every time he sees her.

To complicate things, someone is out to hurt Jasmine and every time she and Sean are together, the police have to be called. Even if Jasmine can make Sean trust her, the two of them may not stay alive long enough to enjoy their love this time around.


“Damn, Sis, sometimes I forget about your ferocity,” Ed said. “Did you have to break his wrist?”

Jasmine glared at him. “Was he answering my question? Would they have been merciful to Mom and Dad? They came here to beat our parents down!” she snapped, but she knew she would feel guilty once the adrenaline and anger wore off.

“Damn,” Ed repeated.

She glanced at Sean out of the corner of her eye. He was sitting on the couch with his head in his hands. She couldn’t know for certain what he was thinking at this point, but she was sure she had a pretty good idea. Even through her angry haze she felt the urge to comfort him, but she resisted, knowing that if she went to touch him she’d be rebuffed. Comfort would come later.

I knew I should have left him at the restaurant. She turned towards Edward. “Do you think the same Venge could have pushed Carly off the cliff in Stowe or had her pushed?”

“It’s possible, but unlikely. I don’t see the connection. Carly can be bossy and aggressive sometimes, but not enough for someone to want to hurt or even kill her. And Mom and Dad are good people. It doesn’t make sense.” Ed shook his head. “If it had been you, I wouldn’t be as surprised.”

She nodded with total understanding. “I don’t like it.”

“Me neither. We just have to keep our eyes open. Hopefully there’ll be no more attacks or accidents.”

“Yeah, but I’d feel better if I knew who was behind this,” she said. Something in her gut was telling her it wasn’t over yet.

As they waited for the police, Jasmine spent the time thinking, pacing, and avoided looking at Sean. She knew what she would see if she looked at his face, a mixture of horror and disbelief. The same look she would see in the mirror after she calmed down.


Black Opal Books | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords |ARe | Kobo


Nana Prah was born in Ghana, West Africa, raised in the US and currently resides in Ghana where she loves her job as a writer and nurse educator. She has been writing since she can remember (in her journal) and has been an avid reader of romance novels since the eighth grade. She has finally been able to utilize the years and years of inadvertent research into writing her own romance novels where love always conquers all.

Find her at: Blog
Twitter: @NanaPrah
Facebook: Nana Prah, Author

LOVE THROUGH TIME is on sale for 99 cents at Amazon until the 25th of November.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Spotlight on Between Boyfriends by Sárka-Jonae Miller

Sárka-Jonae Miller first got her idea for her chick lit/new adult novel BETWEEN BOYFRIENDS in 2002, and 11 years later Booktrope is launching her novel today - 11/11/2013.

Author: Sárka-Jonae Miller
Genre: Chick Lit, New Adult
Words: 104,000
Publisher: Booktrope
Release Date: November 11, 2013

At first glance, twenty-one-year-old Jan Weston has it all: a gorgeous boyfriend, fun friends, and wealthy parents who take care of all those pesky credit card bills.

Then her boyfriend dumps her, her friendships fall apart, and her parents cut her off. Suddenly without money, without a man, and without a plan, it's time for Jan to grow up.

Determined to get her life back on track, Jan decides it's time to make it on her own. Can she find her way as a single lady in San Diego? Can she fix her friendships, her job prospects, and her hair? And can she keep her vow that she'll never date again, even after she meets a guy who just might be perfect for her? BETWEEN BOYFRIENDS is a sexy, hilarious story of living life, finding love, and growing up... but not necessarily in that order.

"This book is the ultimate chick-lit read--a light-hearted romp focused on the travails of Jan, a college student dumped by her boyfriend, an SDSU student. The moment proves an epiphany, as Jan resolves to stop dating and find fulfillment as a single woman." - East County Magazine

BETWEEN BOYFRIENDS "presents a unique twist on the chick lit genre." - Hollywood & Vine magazine

"Over the course of the book, Jan, who is in her early 20s, begins to grow as a person and even strikes up a true friendship with a man, a first for her." - Rancho Santa Fe Review

"Cut off by parents? Not got a boyfriend? That's the formula for a chick lit hit." - Indie Author Land

"The book teaches both subtle and obvious lessons about friendship, relationships, responsibility and decision making." - The Masquerade Crew

"BETWEEN BOYFRIENDS is a delicious slice of chick-lit! Snappy dialogue sets this story apart from the pack as it follows a young woman who, financially cut off by her parents when she fails to attend school, learns that life is more than her Amex card, and reunites with a mother who has endured her own brand of pain." - Jan Moran, bestselling author

"BETWEEN BOYFRIENDS is a great read. It's got everything you'd expect in a chick-lit book: good friends, fun, and a little romance, but the thing Sárka-Jonae  adds to this story is a journey." - Caroline Fardig, bestselling author

Buy Links:
Barnes & Noble
Link to the Apple iBooks versions coming soon.

Author Bio:
Sárka-Jonae is a novelist, publicist, and journalist, among other “ists” there aren’t room for. Her novel writing career began with Between Boyfriends, an edgy chick-lit book for women who’ve been ”between boyfriends”, which is much cooler than being single. SJ is a graduate of Syracuse University. Before writing full-time, she was a personal trainer and massage therapist, helping people tone up, slim down, and chill out. In her free time, Sárka-Jonae loves to dance in flash mobs, in music videos, on speakers, or at home in her underwear. She practices kung fu and yoga, was briefly a Buddhist nun, and travels extensively for ”research”. She’s a huge animal lover and has been vegan since 1999. She’s committed to respectfully unveiling the truth about the horrific way factory farms abuse animals. SJ lives in San Diego with two cats and two dogs.

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Friday, 25 October 2013

The Blog Affair is now available!

I'm celebrating the launch today of my fourth novel, The Blog Affair. The road to its publication has been such an exciting journey and I'd like to thank my editor, Zee Monodee for all her help and input.

The Blog Affair is a contemporary romance with a chick lit flavour, and has been released by Decadent Publishing’s Ubuntu line – a new line that focuses entirely on African romance and stories set in Africa. Here's a little bit more about the book...


Twenty-something South African Emma Bradshaw has a pattern of falling for unsuitable men and starts a blog about these so-called “serial datists”. Her search for new beginnings takes her to Cape Town, where she gets a job working for sexy author, Nick Reynolds. Romance with her boss is a no-no, but slowly, Nick works his way around her defenses. Trust him, or not, especially with her awful track record with men? When an anonymous male reader of the blog challenges her on her ideas about the male species, Emma realises she must confront her past and find her true self before she can move forward...and love can blossom again in her future.


“For the past few weeks, she had been thinking a lot about changing her life, and had been toying with the idea of creating her own blog so that she could clarify her thought processes. She’d always kept a diary, and a blog, in a lot of ways, was an online diary—with the added benefit that she could interact with people online. The idea of venting her emotions in cyberspace was appealing, and in some way, symbolic of letting go…. And she certainly needed to let go. She went through the blog registration process, and then frowned at the blank screen as she contemplated what she should write for her first post. After a few moments, she started typing.

Serial Datism
The first time I ever met a serial datist, I was nineteen years old. At that age, I wasn’t capable of recognising the warning signs of this particular species of the human male. Needless to say, I got burned. Badly.
Serial datism is a concept I’ve been pondering recently. And it’s something I hope to examine in this blog. Any comments from readers are welcome, therefore, as I attempt to shed light on a variety of the dating male that has me completely bemused.
The best way to do this, I’ve decided, is to debate in an open forum—where I, and any other participants in the discussion, can flick on the switch, in a manner of speaking, and illuminate the matter.
I attract serial datists, and so it is perfectly fitting that I should introduce this topic into cyber space. But this doesn’t mean I’m an expert at identifying them. You see, the tricky thing about serial datists is that they aren’t easily defined.
They come in many shapes and sizes and forms, and they may even mutate! They can start off in one form and end up in quite another shape and size within a small space of time. And therein lies their danger.
Okay—to introduce myself. I’m Penelope (well, that’s one of my names) and this blog is called Penelope’s Pantry, because like Penelope from ancient Greek mythology, I’ve had loads of suitors in my life.
And the pantry part? Well, a pantry is a dark storeroom, and this is where I hope to stockpile my thoughts and feelings and emotions. On neatly stacked shelves, of course. I’m a fanatically neat person, and like things to be tidy.
So let’s start at the very beginning (my ordered mind demands this) with a definition of a serial datist: He is a male who, like a bee, goes from one woman to the next, landing on each female blossom for a short period of time. When he leaves, he stings them.
But unfortunately, unlike a bee, a serial datist doesn’t die after he stings. He goes on to sting again and again, and the only way to kill him is to swat him, or stomp on him with your heel. Or leave out a bowl of sugared water in which he can drown. But, on second thoughts, I think the latter technique is for ants....
Be that as it may, before anyone starts wondering whether I’m a convicted killer, I hasten to assure you I am not. I’ve certainly felt a strong desire to stomp on the various bees that have entered my life, but fortunately for these creatures, the thought of killing causes me to break out in hives. Therefore, it is only a fantasy I have indulged in from time to time.
Now that we’ve cleared up the fact that I’m not a murderer, I would like to point out that the bee who delivers his nasty stings is the real killer in the scenario. Why? Well, it’s obvious. He kills your feelings, and leaves your emotions bleeding to death. Some more pedantic readers out there might point out that bee stings don’t cause you to bleed. So what—I’m using it in a figurative sense.
But, and here I’m not being figurative at all, bees can make you swell up. Besides the fact that their stings can cause you to comfort-eat, it is possible to develop a life-threatening allergy to them. And I’m afraid that’s what’s happened to me. I am allergic to serial datists AKA bees AKA Emotionally Unavailable Men.
But I’m jumping ahead of myself. That is simply one of the categories of serial datists. According to my calculations, there are at least four others.
Allow me to list them:
1) The afore-mentioned Emotionally Unavailable Male
2) The Wannabe Player
3) The Commitment-Phobe
4) The Bad Boy
5) The Misogynist (before he finds a woman to control) I will be examining each category in more detail later. But in the meantime—any comments from readers on what I’ve already expounded are most welcome.
Posted by Penelope on Tuesday, July 8 at 08:32 p.m."

The Blog Affair is now available on Amazon.

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Sunday, 20 October 2013

"It’s Just A Little Crush" by Caroline Fardig

Today I welcome Caroline Fardig to my blog. Her novel, It's Just A Little Crush, is a #1Bestseller on Barnes & Noble’s Humor and Women Detectives lists. It's Just A Little Crush will be on sale for $0.99 through October 24th.Get your copy today!

 Is there a proper writing process? Caroline tells us how she sets about writing a book:
What is the proper writing process?
All writers are different.  (Brilliant hypothesis, Mrs. Fardig.  Where DO you come up with your ideas?)  And, because of that, each one of us has a unique creative process.  Bottom line?  There is no wrong way to construct a novel.  That being said, I’m going to explain the way I do it, and why it’s the best way.  ;)

Before anything remotely close to “writing” happens, we must come up with an idea.  Ideas come to me in various ways—sometimes they just pop into my head, sometimes I dream them, sometimes I think “I need to come up with a new story” and consciously try to come up with something, sometimes I hear a song which sparks a feeling or emotion that I can build on, and sometimes a location that I visit brings a story to mind.  After I have the general idea, I use a technique similar to the way music therapists use guided imagery, but by myself.  I turn on some music that would fit the tone of my story and let my mind drift, but keep my thoughts centered on my story idea.  This part of the process might go on over the course of several days or weeks, depending on how well my ideas are flowing.

Once I have the plot and the feel of the story, I start with a timeline of events.  This is one of the steps in my process that keeps getting tweaked, because once I start writing, sometimes events in the plotline would be better if they occurred at a different time than I originally planned.  I decide how long my story arc is going to need to be complete and work from there.  I write down all of the days of the week (I don’t bother with calendar days) and start filling in events that are to occur each day.  I find that it’s sometimes difficult to fill weekdays because weekends are generally when a lot of the action happens if your characters are “real” people with full-time jobs.  Anyway, this timeline is invaluable to me as I write, because I can use it instead of having to wade through hundreds of pages of manuscript to refer back to when something occurred.

After I have a roadmap of sorts, I begin my first draft.  Notice that I didn’t refer to it as a “rough draft”, because I’m an edit-as-I-go type of girl.  Just writing this short blog post, I find myself stopping after every paragraph and making sure that I like what I have written before I go on.  OCD much?  Probably, but it works for me.  Writing that first sentence is SO frightening, isn’t it?  That blank screen staring you down, just daring you to mess up the first line so badly that no one will ever want to read past it.  The good news is that it gets easier each time you sit down to write a novel.  Once I have that first sentence, I’m off and running.  If writer’s block strikes, I just start typing words—anything is better than nothing.  I know it sounds weird, but a lot of times, words that you didn’t know you had can pour forth and be better than those you’ve spent time mulling over for hours.  After I get a page or so written, I go back and read through it and make minor corrections.  The reading serves two purposes:  on-the-spot proofreading, and making sure that your scene stays on track.  Sometimes (most times) the way that my head thinks a scene is going to turn out is much different from the written version, so going over what has just been written is a must for me for continuity.

So, once the first draft is done, I read over the whole manuscript, mainly for flow, and of course my perfectionist self can’t keep from making some corrections, but I’m not doing an in-depth proofreading sweep this time.  I make note of passages that don’t make sense, which are to be corrected the next time through.  Then, the real fun begins—having to be overly critical of the baby you’ve just pushed out of yourself, the labor of love that has consumed your life for the past couple of months.  First, I let the spelling/grammar checker do most of the grunt work, like finding typos, misspellings, weird sentence structures, and the like.  After that, I do my human spelling/grammar checker thing, shredding my manuscript apart sentence by sentence.  Once my English mechanics are in place, I go back once again, this time intent on making the text interesting and entertaining.  I crack out my thesaurus and exchange “she said” for “she gasped” or “she blurted” or “she sneered” and maybe sprinkle in a few more swear words, just for fun. 

After that, I take one last read—this time for pleasure.  I read it like a novel, questioning if it is interesting enough to hold my readers’ attention.  Once I’m confident that my errors aren’t too glaring anymore, I pass the manuscript off to my four proofreaders, who all have a different approach to proofreading.  One goes more for the storyline and the dialogue, one goes straight for the grammar, one goes for believability and “would a guy really say that?” (my husband, of course), and finally my last proofreader goes over it with a fine-toothed comb as a final polish (it pays to have a Doctor of English on your team!).

Once I make all of their corrections, I always take yet another read through to see if my baby is indeed ready to be released out into the cold, harsh world.  Once I’m finally ready, I psyche myself up to face the many formatting headaches I’ll have to suffer through to get my novel from my computer to the distribution channels, but that’s another post.

Book blurb:

The sleepy town of Liberty hasn’t seen murder in…well…ever. Residents are stunned when the body of a young woman is found strangled, and reporters at the Liberty Chronicle are thrilled, rather disturbingly, over the biggest news story to hit town this century. 

Lizzie Hart has even bigger problems. Lately, she can’t seem to concentrate on her job as copy editor at the Chronicle with the new hunky investigative reporter, Blake Morgan, swaggering around the office. How can a girl work when she’s using all of her energy combating Blake-induced hot flashes and struggling to repress the giggly inner schoolgirl that’s constantly rearing her dorky head? It’s a good thing that Blake barely knows Lizzie exists. 

After an odd string of events, however, Lizzie begins to wonder if Blake is really as fabulous as she has fantasized. When Lizzie and Blake find a co-worker dead, Blake’s personality changes completely—and not in a good way. Even though the police rule the death as an accident, Lizzie immediately suspects foul play and senses a connection to the recent murder. She is determined to bring the killer to justice, but is having some trouble getting her Nancy Drew on thanks to the pesky stalker she’s picked up—Blake Morgan. Wait, didn’t she want him to follow her around and pay attention to her? Not like this. Blake has turned from cool and smooth to cold and downright scary, making Lizzie wonder if he should be next on her suspect list.

Available for:


About the Author:

CAROLINE FARDIG was born and raised in a small town in Indiana. Her working career has been rather eclectic thus far, with occupations including schoolteacher, church organist, insurance agent, funeral parlor associate, and stay-at-home mom. Finally realizing that she wants to be a writer when she grows up, Caroline has released her debut novel, It's Just A Little Crush , now a #1 Bestseller. She is currently hard at work churning out a second novel in the LIZZIE HART MYSTERIES series. She still lives in that same small town with an understanding husband, two sweet kids, two energetic dogs, and one malevolent cat.
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Twitter:  @carolinefardig


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Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Realistic Romance

Is there such a thing as a realistic romance novel? People usually perceive romance novels as flights of fancy. However there are a number of authors who explore real life issues within the context of a romance novel, and do it very well. One such author is Iris Bromige. She wrote numerous novels from the 1940s to the 1990s and I’ve read as many of her novels as I could find in various libraries. (Unfortunately, her books are out of print and are only available in libraries, so I don’t own my own copies).

I read somewhere once: “Choose an author as you choose a friend,” and I believe I did that when I chose to read Iris Bromige. When you invite a piece of fiction into your life, either you’ll “click” with the author or you won’t. Sometimes, you won’t understand why you don’t enjoy a book (the writing is good, the characterisation is excellent) but there’s just a missing element that you can’t put your finger on. That missing element is “book chemistry”, if you will. This applies to friendships, as well. We don’t choose our friends because of their excellent characteristics or their fine qualities, but because we click with them on some level; we have something in common with them and can identify with them to some degree. The same applies when you choose to read the work of an author in its entirety. If you choose to glom an author, you’ve chosen her/him as your “book friend” for want of a better expression.

Iris Bromige wrote gentle tales of love, family life and friendship. Her books are philosophical on a number of levels, and she portrays a wide spectrum of emotions. Greed, revenge, jealousy and hatred are themes she includes in her writing, and her books, although romance novels, are not romanticised. Instead she includes all aspects of human nature, writing about its many foibles in a perceptive, interesting way. I’ve learned a lot from her – and her gentle wisdom is something that I value.

When I first read one of her books as a teenager, I remember being a little disappointed. At that age, I liked reading romantic fiction that was very romantic, and Iris Bromige was a little too… well, unromantic for my liking at first! Strangely enough, a number of her female heroines tended to be idealistic and romantic in their outlook on life, while her heroes were invariably extremely realistic and matter of fact. This created balance in her books - between fancy and fact, romance and realism. However, as I read more of her work, I started to enjoy her writing more and more, as I realised I’d found an author that wrote romantic fiction with a realistic twist. Her characters are usually professionals, and I identified particularly with the female characters to a large degree.

It’s interesting to read the work of an author when it spans across decades. People no longer speak of “the permissive society” today, but in the sixties and seventies, this was something that was discussed and debated to a large extent, and Iris Bromige wrote about the changes she perceived in Britain as the years went by. Her books were always set in the year in which she wrote them, and they give a certain insight into the attitudes towards love, marriage, sex and family life in the society in which she lived.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Selfish Love And The Big Misunderstanding

It is often said that there are two sides to every story, and it could similarly be said that there are two sides to every romantic relationship. That’s what makes writing romance novels so interesting. Look at any piece of romantic fiction and you will find situations where a female character sees something in a certain way while her male love interest has a completely different point of view. It’s all about how individuals uniquely interpret the facts of a situation.

Often in romance novels authors will engineer a deliberate misunderstanding (aka The Big Misunderstanding) to give their story a twist, but an author doesn't need to rely on a contrived and trumped-up misunderstanding as a plot device – rather there are numerous natural misunderstandings that happen between members of the opposite sex all the time which could be utilised to drive the story forward, and these are often a result of characters interpreting situations purely from their own perspectives.

As an author, you are constantly trying to understand your characters. This might sound silly as it could be argued that once you’ve created a character you should understand your own creation. But this isn’t necessarily the case… In the current book I’m writing I’ve created a male character that I don’t understand all that well. He started off in my mind in one way, but when I tried to develop him further, I began to have doubts as to what motivated him, and I had to go back to the drawing board (or in this instance the writing pad), and reassess my portrayal of him.

Authors are forced by their art to learn the skill of putting themselves into the shoes of others. That’s why writing creatively can be so draining – you’re creating a separate reality for each character in your book and in order for your story to pull at the reader’s heart-strings and come across as authentic, each character’s reality has to be convincing.

However, no matter how draining it is, I infinitely appreciate how writing has trained me to see real-life situations in a more objective way. Of course it’s possible to attempt to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and still horribly misunderstand their perspective, but at least trying to understand someone else’s viewpoint (even if you don’t succeed every time) is an incredibly important skill to learn if you’re intent on building happy relationships with people.

The idea of selfish love – where you believe that your desires are naturally the desires of other people – is a trap that everyone falls into at some point or other, I imagine. But once you realise that your dream date (a candle-lit dinner with romantic music in the background) could be completely different from your partner’s dream date (going on a day-long hiking trip in the mountains) that’s when the fun can begin as you put yourself in shoes you never expected to be wearing (hiking boots instead of high heels!) and set off on a journey of exploration.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Creating Strong Female Characters

Women can so easily be conditioned by society to believe that we aren’t worthy of love… everywhere around us there are messages that women are too fat, or too old, or not pretty enough… just not enough. I would say that all women suffer from some sort of insecurity or other.

A male friend of mine once told me that men see their romantic relationships as just one piece of the pie that is their lives, but that relationships for women can often be the whole pie.

Perhaps women do think about relationships more than men do, but a strong woman will never make her relationship the whole pie. It’s vital for a woman to remember her little girl dreams and go out and find them, and to focus on the things that bring her pleasure (her friendships, family, pets, hobbies, interests and sports, for instance). A fulfilled woman is an attractive woman.

In order for a woman to be happy in a relationship, she should choose to be with a man who is crazy about her otherwise she WILL end up hurt. Have you ever read a love story where the hero doesn’t madly cherish the heroine by the end of the book? And yet real-life women, for whatever reason, often stay in relationships where they don’t feel loved or cherished…

Creating female characters in fiction that are both strong AND realistic can be quite tricky, and a balance needs to be struck. Strong female characters must show their vulnerabilities in order to come across as both human and likeable. What’s important, however, in order for the female characters to be termed “strong” is that they don’t allow their insecurities to govern their behaviour at every turn. They should acknowledge their insecurities and hopefully grow and change as the novel progresses.

Healthy men are attracted to happy women who love life and aren’t dependent on a man for their happiness. And I would say that the key to creating a strong female character in a novel is to ensure that she maintains a healthy balance in her life, and loves herself first before she gives her love to any man. Only then will she be truly happy in a relationship.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Spotlight on The Other Side by Zee Monodee

Today I'm delighted to feature The Other Side on my blog. This is the first book in Zee Monodee's The Island Girls trilogy, which follows the three Hemant sisters – Lara, Neha, Diya – over the span of the 2000-2010 decade, chronicling the changing face of the Mauritian society over that crucial period.

Mauritius, where this trilogy takes place, is a small tropical island in the southern Indian Ocean. There are no natives, and the land has been entirely populated by immigrants. Under Dutch rule in the 17th century; French rule until 1810; then a British colony from 1810 to 1968 when it reached independence, the island is a mix of races and religions.

Despite all races, cultures, and religions living together in harmony in what is termed ‘the rainbow nation’, an unspoken segregation still exists where descendants of colonizers (mainly the French who remained despite British rule) and descendants of African slaves, Indian indentured labourers, or Chinese traders. This is the backdrop Lara, of Indian descent, must face with Eric, whose ancestors were wealthy French plantation owners.

Back in the year 2000 (when this story takes place), divorce was an almost-alien, shunned and vilified concept. People were still supposed to marry ‘for life’ and a wife left her husband’s home only in her coffin. Those who dared brave this silent edict did it at the risk of becoming marginalized and cast away. Like Lara, the author, Zee, divorced her British husband and returned to the island to face such drama. Much of the divorce angle in the book comes from her own experience.

The theme of Second Chances is very prominent in Zee’s stories, because she herself, as a divorcee, found a second chance with a wonderful man she has now called her husband for over a decade.

Zee started penning this story after reading the epic novel A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth. She wanted to write a magnum opus; something to showcase ‘her’ world in Mauritius the same way Mr. Seth chronicled ‘his’ India. Alas, she found she was totally fluffy and did not do well at all with a literary bent. The result was The Other Side, a popular romantic comedy that had notes of Zee TV/Bollywood dramas with an island vibe.

Zee’s initial plan was to write this one book and then be finished. Over the course of the story, Lara’s two sisters – Diya and Neha – started whispering their own tales... and the trilogy was born.

The Other Side is Zee’s first-ever penned novel, written in the year 2005, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and thus decided to live her dream of writing a book. She drafted this book mostly during sleepless nights between chemotherapy sessions, and the outpouring of this tale becoming her therapy to cope with her treatments.

Series: Book #1 in The Island Girls trilogy
Line: Ubuntu (geared to African Romance)
Publisher: Decadent Publishing, LLC
Release date: July 30, 2013
Genre: Contemporary Romance/ Romantic Comedy/ Interracial Multicultural Romance/ Bollywood
Length: 272 pages
Heat Level: Sensual/ 2 flames


Divorce paints a scarlet letter on her back when she returns to the culture-driven society of Mauritius. This same spotlight shines as a beacon of hope for the man who never stopped loving her. Can the second time around be the right one for these former teenage sweethearts?

Indian-origin Lara Reddy left London after her husband dumps her for a more accommodating uterus—at least, that’s what his desertion feels like. Bumping into him and his pregnant new missus doesn’t help matters any, and she thus jumps on a prestigious job offer. The kicker? The job is in Mauritius, the homeland of her parents, and a society she ran away from over a decade earlier.

But once there, Lara has no escape. Not from the gossip, the contempt, the harassing matchmaking... and certainly not from the man she hoped never to meet again. The boy she’d loved and lost—white Mauritian native, Eric Marivaux.
Back when they were teens, Eric left her, and Lara vowed she’d never let herself be hurt again. Today, they are both adults, and facing the same crossroads they’d stood at so many years earlier.

Lara now stands on the other side of Mauritian society. Will this be the impetus she needs to take a chance on Eric and love again?
Buy Links:

Decadent Publishing
Amazon (available at the discounted price of $2.99)


Click here to view the trailer of The Other Side

About the author:

Zee is an author who grew up on a fence – on one side there was modernity and the global world, on the other there was culture and traditions. Putting up with the culture for half of her life, one day she decided she'd stand tall on her wall and dip toes every now and then into both sides of her non-conventional upbringing.
From this resolution spanned a world of adaptation and learning to live on said wall. The realization also came that many other young women of the world were on their own fence.

This particular position became her favorite when she decided to pursue her lifelong dream of writing – her heroines all sit 'on a fence', whether cultural or societal, in today's world or in times past, and face dilemmas about life and love.
Hailing from the multicultural island of Mauritius, Zee is a degree holder in Communications Science. She is a head-over-heels wife, in-over-her-head mum to a tween son, best-buddy-stepmum to a teenage lad, an incompetent domestic goddess, eternal dreamer, and an absolute, shameless bookholic. When she isn’t penning more stories and/or managing the Ubuntu line at Decadent Publishing, you can bet you’ll find her with her nose in her tablet, ‘drinking in’ a good book.


She shouldn’t have come. The sound of her mother’s high-pitched voice crept over the din, asking if someone had heard a car stop in the driveway. They’d come out in the next minute.
Picking up her courage, and wishing it were Dutch courage despite her not being a drinker, she tore her fingers and head from the wheel and threw the door open. Lara peeled herself out of the vehicle at the same time a chorus of gasps resounded in the garden.
All three older women were over her like a bad rash. Hugging and kissing her cheeks, holding her face in their hands while they exclaimed how beautiful she had become. All of which were simply tactics to lull her into complacency for when they’d really pounce on the meaty topic—her divorce.
With their deceptively frail-looking hands on her shoulders, they pushed her toward the back door to the kitchen. A memory of being pushed around in the same way toward the altar on her wedding day, the glittery gold and red veil over her eyes, assaulted her. She stopped in her tracks, the pain coming in from nowhere to slice through her heart. The biddies must not have noticed her stilling; they simply continued to steer her inside until she was seated at the table. A plate of towering hot bhadias appeared in front her, along with a bowl of satini cotomili, the coriander, tomato, and chili paste-like dip Mauritians ate with all their fried foods.
Auntie Ruby, resident gossipmonger, lived up to her reputation. She had been the first to mention Lara’s failed marriage before they made it back into the house.
The sound of the grating voice droned on, Lara choosing to ignore it, before her mother gave her a small slap on her shoulder.
“You wicked girl. You said you were coming on Monday, and here you are surprising us now.”
She sighed. This was code for “how could you have kept this a secret and made me lose face in front of everyone, when I’ve been telling them you are coming on Monday?” Her mother lived for hearsay and the general idea of “what will people say.” In fact, most people in Mauritius lived by the standard. Whoever said the ton and all its silly rules had died in the Regency era had not taken a trip to Mauritius, in eighteen-ten or the year two thousand.
“But my poor little girl,” Auntie Ruby said in a cajoling tone bringing nothing but danger to mind. “Of course you wanted to come home earlier. Who wouldn’t? Look what that awful, awful man has done to you.”
Translation: “And here’s your cue to air out the laundry, from the sheets to the knickers, you silly goose.”
“Our hearts went out to you, dearest girl, you who are like a daughter to us,” Auntie Zubeida chimed in. “We never saw this coming. How could you not have told a soul you and that scoundrel were having problems? We would’ve spoken to him, set him right, showed him this is not how he is supposed to treat our daughter.”
“Tsk-tsk. And what a beautiful couple you two made. How could anyone have thought you would break up?” Auntie Ruby added.
Lara forced a small smile. Damn, how she wanted to be out of here. She had a duty to do, though —the sooner she was done, the better, so she could run back to Grand Baie and leave those old cows behind. And yes, in that lot, she included her mother, who had yet to speak out. Bad vibe.
“I’m doing fine, Auntie,” she said. “That’s what matters.”
All three women watched her with narrowed eyes. No way was she doing away with the Inquisition.
“How can you be fine?” Auntie Ruby asked. “We have been so preoccupied with your plight. How on earth are you going to get along? How will your parents bear all this? To think they still have an unmarried daughter on their hands, now they are ending up with two daughters. Oh what fate God has dealt them.”
Lara bit her lip to keep from answering back. Right, the ton must’ve been more solicitous than this. The aunts were simply nosing for gossip. But then, that’s what Jane Austen wrote in her subtext, too. The concern was merely the polite way of enquiring about gossip in their society.


Wednesday, 31 July 2013

The Essence of Attraction - Part Three

Another crucial element when it comes to creating attraction between a hero and heroine is likeability. Now I’m not saying that the hero and heroine will necessarily like one another all the time. In most romance novels, sparks are usually flying, and it’s fair to say that the hero and heroine don’t always see eye to eye on matters. But in a good romance novel the hero and heroine will often find themselves liking each other – even if it’s against their will. 

Leading on from this is the idea of humour as an import aspect of attraction. In a heated discussion between the hero and heroine, what often diffuses the scene, and also adds to the likeability factor between the two characters is humour. Nothing is more likely to create a buzz between your two main characters than some humorous exchanges.

Humour and intelligence are often linked, and when two characters connect, it’s because they have an appreciation for each other’s mind or way of thinking. This is a very important element of attraction because if two characters cannot connect on an intellectual level, then they’re doomed as a romantic couple… just think of Mr and Mrs Bennet in Pride and Prejudice for a telling example of a couple who were mismatched intellectually… If the heroine never catches the hero’s jokes, or she finds him an inferior intellectually, any attraction between the two will fizzle out after a while, and die.

Mr and Mrs Bennet from the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice

Now I’ll come to the final element of attraction – which being the most obvious, I’ve left till last… and this is physical attraction! The hero and heroine must find each other physically attractive otherwise the relationship will never get off the ground, let alone approach anywhere near an altar.

Do you have any other aspects of attraction you’d like to add to my list? If so, please leave a comment…

Monday, 15 July 2013

The Essence of Attraction – Part Two

In my previous post I outlined three important elements that create attraction between a hero and heroine in a romance novel, namely mystery, desire and confidence.

Another important aspect in creating attraction between a man and a woman is unpredictability. In the beginning of a relationship the hero shouldn’t be able to predict the heroine’s behaviour, and vice versa. This generates romantic tension in a relationship, which creates an interesting dynamic between the hero and heroine. Of course, as the romance progresses the main characters will become more familiar with each other, in that they’ll start to know each other better, but this shouldn’t make them predictable.

What adds to the attraction between a man and a woman is some sort of challenge. The hero should find the heroine challenging in some way. Even if you’ve created a meek and mild heroine, something in her demeanour should challenge the hero. For instance, the hero might find it exciting to see if he can discover whether passion lurks beneath the quiet surface of the heroine; or he might try and find out why she behaves in a particular manner with certain people, while behaving quite differently around him…

The heroine should also find the hero challenging – either to her ideas about love and life in general, or something in his personality should intrigue her to get to know him better.

Social status is another important aspect of attraction. This doesn’t mean that the hero must be a powerful, wealthy character, but he should be able to command some sort of respect from the people around him. It boils down to a natural authority the hero should command, to be well… a hero! A similar thing applies to a heroine – she should have aspects of her character that other people admire, because think about it – if no one in the book likes and respects her, why would a reader bother to spend time with her between the covers of a book?

In my next post I’ll continue to elaborate on this theme…