Thursday, February 28, 2013

New Zealand’s Ninety Mile Beach by Joanne Wadsworth

Today I hand over the reins to fellow Lyrical Press author Joanne Wadsworth who's talking location, location, location... Among other things, such as her novel, Protector.

* * * *

Let me introduce you to New Zealand’s Ninety Mile Beach. Above is a picture of one of the most isolated and gorgeous beaches in the world, and being a Kiwi writer, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to bring these kinds of locations to you in my new release. Ninety Mile Beach sits at the topmost peninsula of the North Island, and runs for 90 unbroken miles in a complete, straight line.

I drool just looking at all this untouched beauty, and I mean untouched, because Ninety Mile Beach is an area with next to no residents. I’m not kidding. There is a lighthouse overseer at the cape Ninety Mile Beach runs to, and apart from that, perhaps three houses along this entire stretch of land.

Now, to let you in on a secret--Ninety Mile Beach isn’t in fact 90 miles long. No. It’s a little shorter--very tricky. Let me tell you how the name Ninety Mile Beach came about. Around 1840-1860 (no one is actually quite sure on the exact date), missionaries traveled on horseback along this beach to estimate the distance. Back in the day, the average horse could travel 30 miles before needing to rest. (A fact I found most interesting since I’m not a horse-person.) Now, the clever missionaries took three days to travel the beach, thereby giving Ninety Mile Beach its fabulously incorrect name. Very dishonest of them, but they’re forgiven. So, to explain how they made this terrible error—it was because they walked their horses in sand, the pace of their travel so much slower.

Yep, these missionaries sadly covered only 18.4 miles per day, meaning, yes, you got it, Ninety Mile Beach is in fact 55 miles long. Still, this untouched beauty is what drew me to write about my own country in my new release.

PROTECTOR is a young adult, fantasy romance, and within my book, I get to bring you here to New Zealand, to places rich in history, and to locations I hold close to my heart. You’ll get to experience a hot cast of characters, with unparalleled conspiracy and intrigue at every corner, so if you get a chance to pick up the book, I truly hope you enjoy.

To love and protect…across worlds.

Eighteen-year-old Faith Stryker is prepared to leap out into the unknown world beyond her home shores of New Zealand to experience life. Only she never expected to encounter Magio, a planet with two warring countries, where its people reach adulthood at eighteen by coming into their strength and prophetic abilities. Only after Faith discovers she’s a Halfling--thanks to her warrior father she’s never met--does her own skill of forethought develop.

Peacio’s Prince Davio Loveria is sent to the young Faith Stryker by his grandfather, but not all goes as planned. Davio discovers Faith isn’t just a Halfling, she’s also his soul-bound mate--an intense relationship he cannot, nor will not, give up.

With two wars now waging…one of land and the other of the heart…can the young lovers find their place in the world?

Reading romance books captivated Joanne Wadsworth as a teenager, particularly when she tucked herself into bed at night and continued to dream those stories as she slept. She'd visualize the direction, taking the hero and heroine on an adventure unparalleled to what she'd read. Today she is devoted to writing romance, bringing her imagination to life within the lines of young adult, and thrilling romantic suspense. Born in New Zealand, Joanne works both as a writer and a financial controller, all while keeping up with her four energetic children and dreamy husband.

Visit Joanne Wadsworth at

BUY THE BOOK: Amazon Kindle / B&N Nook / iTunes / Lyrical Press / Kobo.

Look for JOANNE WADSWORTH here: My Website and Blog / Twitter / Facebook Fan Page / Goodreads.


Davio leaned over me, all six foot four of him, his warm honey-brown hair falling forward to curl snugly around his neck, and I longed for him, just as I had during my first sighting of him in the classroom.

“What’s happening is the bond, my mate. It will become difficult for me to keep my distance both physically and emotionally unless I leave and end this now.”

My heart hitched. “You want to leave?” I swayed closer on impulse. “Is that how this bond works? We find each other and then you leave?” God preserve his people if it did.

“No, it is not. Those mated are bonded for life if we allow the link to grow. Except that would be the most unwise choice for us to take. You are, quite clearly, neither from my country nor from my world, and as such will have no allegiance to me or my people. I have no wish to join with one who does not wish to join with me in all ways. With that being the case, I will find another when the time is right. As should you,” he added solemnly.

I frowned. Hold on--did he just say he would be joining with another woman?

I bit my tongue. That was good? I should leave it at that, right?

Jeez, what was wrong with me for questioning that choice?

“I’m sorry. We just met, and you’re right. Go find your, your--” Strangely, I struggled to get the words out and finally gave up. “Well, have yourself a nice long life, and all that.” I patted his chest roughly.

That was more like me.

The clock ticked and time slowed.

He didn’t move.

“Look at me.” He tipped up my chin, directly staring at me. “This would never work.”

“I understand. It’s been pretty awful meeting you too.” I leaned back, only to feel the pressure of his hand move around my waist to the small of my back, preventing me.

I moved to grip his arm. “Okay, you were going.”

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Mark of the Gladiator by Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane #review

Title: Mark of the Gladiator
Authors: Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane
Publisher: Riptide Publishing, 2012

I’m going to freely admit here that my love for all things Rome at present can firmly be blamed on watching the TV series Spartacus. So, yes, I was very much primed by the time the request to review Mark of the Gladiator landed in my inbox. And Heidi and Violetta do not disappoint in this offering, Mark of the Gladiator showing all the hallmarks that make all the Riptide Publishing tittles of a consistently high standard. This novel offers a heady combination of narrative, danger and sex, all in equal measures, in a way that feels like everything has its place and time.

Firstly, I’d like to praise the authors. Not once was I jerked out of the story nor could I tell where one author left off and the other began--their writing blends seamlessly. Also, I’m a bit of a history junkie, so hats off to the pair for immersing me into what felt like an authentic setting.

In Mark of the Gladiator we follow from the point of view of Anazar, a slave and gladiator better known to Romans as Cyrenaicus. But he’s a wounded soul, and his years of captivity have to a degree dulled his spirit. He is very much entrenched within his role of slave, and seeks to please his master in everything.

However, the opportunity to become a freedman presents itself when Anazar’s master loans him to another master in order for him to train a team of female gladiators, and Anazar does what he can to please his new master, Marianus. But what should be a relatively trouble-free situation, serving a master who seems to be near perfect, is muddied by the fitful presence of Marianus’s brother, Felix.

Rome wouldn’t be Rome without oodles of intrigue, and Anazar soon finds himself in a predicament, and his loyalty called into question. Much as on the sands, mistakes can prove fatal, and he finds himself fighting hard, not only for his own survival, but for the spirited women he has to train so that they too can stay alive. And dare he grasp out, against expectations, for the hope of love offered?

The characters in this novel are all too human, showing their virtues and flaws. The authors soon had me caring deeply for the fates of all involved. If you have a love of ancient Rome, then don’t hesitate in adding this one to your “to be read” pile. And the question that’s on my mind right now is will Heidi and Violetta give us another tale in the same setting? More please!

Read my interview with Heidi and Violetta here...

Monday, February 25, 2013

Cover reveal with Jessi Gage

Today I'm celebrating with fellow Lyrical Press author Jessi Gage... She's unveiling the cover from her novel, Road Rage. Over to you, Jessica...

* * * *

Thank you so much for having me, Nerine! I’m so excited to share the cover of my June 2013 Lyrical Press release, Road Rage.

Road Rage comes from a very personal place for me. It’s about a woman with massive insecurities involving freeway driving and the man with anger management issues who literally crashes into her life and heart and changes both forever. I’ve been fortunate never to be in a serious car accident, but it’s one of my biggest fears. Writing Road Rage was like a catharsis for me, helping me work through some of my own issues as an insecure driver and realize that flaws don’t make a person, but how a person reacts to their flaws, whether avoiding them or bravely determining to overcome them, can shape their character.

Here’s the blurb and an excerpt:

Blurb: He has anger issues and she has amnesia, but together they have amazing chemistry.

Lashing out in anger, construction worker Derek causes an accident on the freeway. His truck escapes unscathed, but he can’t say the same for his conscience. Plagued by nightmares of the wreck, his only comfort comes in the form of nightly visits by a mysterious woman who interrupts his dreams with sensual caresses and words of solace.

Cami has no idea who she is, until she wakes in a hospital bed and learns she’s been comatose due to a car wreck. Her visits with Derek must have been a dream, so why can’t she shake the feeling he was a real man who truly needed her help?

When Derek learns his mystery woman is none other than the driver of the car he cut off and she is fighting for her life, he must decide: Is he man enough to face her and ask forgiveness, or will he run away and avoid the consequences of his anger, yet again?

CONTENT WARNING: Sex with a perfect, imaginary dream girl who really isn’t imaginary

A Lyrical Press Paranormal Romance

Excerpt: He put his hand back behind his head. His grin grew wider. “There’s nothing to be afraid of.” His eyes twinkled. “It’s just a dream.”

Her heart skipped a beat or twelve as he threw her words back at her. “Is it?” she said, her voice barely there.

“You bet.” He propped up on his elbows. The comforter slid down to expose the mounds of his pectorals. His nipples puckered like copper rivets. A sudden urge to test their hardness with her tongue had her leaning forward. She caught herself, but the unintentional movement didn’t go unnoticed. Triumph radiated from his every pore. “And not just any dream.”

The mischief in his voice disarmed her. How could a man be intimidating and playful at the same time?

“Oh?” She quirked a brow, finding her way with him.

“You see, this is my dream. I chose it. Over another. One that wasn’t so sweet.” He flipped back the covers and patted beside him. “So what I say goes. And I say come up here where I can get a better look at you.”

“Are you always this bossy?”

He shrugged one impressive shoulder. “That’s why they pay me the mediocre bucks at the job site.”

“You work construction?” Yes, yes. Talking. Normal people didn’t jump between the sheets with total strangers. They had conversations. They got to know each other.

The man nodded once, then raised an expectant eyebrow and patted the bed again.

She bristled. “Aren’t you going to ask what I do? It’s only polite.”

“I know what you do.”

She blinked, stunned. “You know me?” Hope propelled her forward. “What do I do? Who am I?” She stopped short of grabbing his shoulders and shaking him, but barely. Finally! She’d learn her name!

The man wasted no time wrapping an arm around her waist and pulling her down to lie beside him. She was so relieved, she let him. He wasn’t a stranger after all.

“You’re my dream girl. Your job is to make me happy. And you deserve a raise, ’cause--” He lifted the blankets and pressed her hand down the line of his body.

The satiny smooth head of his penis heated her palm as it poked above the waistband of his boxer briefs.
“Ohmygosh!” She snatched her hand back and rocketed off the bed. Back pressed against the closet door, palm glued to her chest, she said, “You--I--what the heck?” Another brilliant bit of dialogue. Her brain had overloaded, plain and simple. She swallowed and composed herself. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to freak out. I just hoped we knew each oth--”

The man interrupted her with a curse directed at the ceiling. He fell back on his pillow and threw an arm over his face. “Can’t even hang onto an imaginary woman. Too goddamned aggressive for my own dream girl.”

He couldn’t see her now that she’d gotten off the bed. Her heart dropped.

He cursed again, a long, drawn-out whisper. Then he lifted the covers and looked down at himself. “What am I going to do about you?” He glanced at the clock, which read 4:58. His whole face softened as he pressed a hand flat to the wall over his head. Haley slept on the other side. “Nothing. That’s what.” He rolled over with a pained grunt and went back to sleep.

Her throat closed with longing. Longing to crawl back in bed and put his arousal to good use. Longing to tell him he hadn’t been too aggressive for her, that if she’d been scared of anything it had been the strength of desire his forwardness had kindled in her. Longing to show him she wasn’t imaginary.

* * * *

For more information about Road Rage and Jessi’s other works, stop by one of her online haunts.
For updates on Road Rage’s June 2013 release, please subscribe to her blog!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Triple Shot of Zombies by Tonia Brown #review

Title: Triple Shot of Zombies
Author: Tonia Brown

With “shot” being the operative word, this is exactly what you get with three short stories by Tonia Brown which feature the shuffling undead.

Naked Fear introduces us to Howard, who has serious body image issues, to the point where his therapist insists that he spends time at a nudist resort. The only problem is that he’s in the right place at the wrong time, and he’s suddenly faced with the fact that being naked is the least of his worries.

The Very Best shows how a Southern woman employs a flash of genius when it comes to dealing with a pack of soldiers. They’re not going to get that second chance to despoil all that she holds dear; it’s one of those stories you know from the outset is going to end badly for the bad guy.

The parting shot is The Worms Crawl In and our transgressor is Brandon, who pays a high price for ignoring his mother’s last wishes. Then again, the poor dear was getting a bit tired of being tied to Mom’s apron strings all the time, only he wasn’t quite expecting things to become so creepy and grisly.

Overall, Tonia Brown offers us three highly entertaining and darkly funny tales. Her style is fast-paced and it’s clear she knows the genre well. If you’re looking for a quick read that’s going to make you laugh out loud, then this is well worth it if you’re looking for a zombie fix. My only feeling is lady, you could have beefed this offering up with at least a half dozen more stories to pack more punch. I only just got started and it was over already.

Monday, February 18, 2013

King of Thorns giveaway with Mark Lawrence

Of all the new voices in fantasy fiction, Mark Lawrence is fast making a name for himself with The Broken Empire series. Today I'm pleased to have Mark over again and we'll be giving away a signed copy of book two in the series, King of Thorns. Those of you who follow my blog may remember the Prince of Thorns giveaway we did a while ago, and my review of the novel stirred up a few trolls in the process. All I'll say on the matter is that while I certainly don't condone Jorg's behaviour in the series, I can't help but love the character for *how* he's created (and not for the bad things he does). After all, consider why the likes of Hannibal Lector, Patrick Batemen, and the lost boys in Lord of the Flies are so memorable, and what they say about us as a species. We must never forget that for all our thin veneer of civilisation, we hide a savage within our breasts.

So, if you're keen to win a copy of the book, read the following bit of Q&A with Mark then check at the end for the question. The winner must comment on the blog and leave a name and contact email. I will select a winner on Monday, February 25, 2013.

Nerine: Jorg is a young man with a vision, damaged, yes and capable of acts of great cruelty yet also in a position to create great change within his society. Most of Prince of Thorns is essentially a very dark coming of age story in a way--how he establishes himself from next to nothing to becoming the ruler of a kingdom. What would you say is the underlying theme for King of Thorns?

Mark: Well that's actually a surprisingly hard question. First off the under and over-lying purpose of King of Thorns is to entertain. Some works of literary fiction are theme-delivery vehicles. That's not the case here. That said, if pushed I can identify some themes.

One main theme would be how we differ from and are made by our memories. The difference between facing and side-stepping uncomfortable facts about ourselves and events in our past.

Another, as in Prince of Thorns would be the business of growing up. Of seeing the world as more complex, more ambiguous than we thought, and of trying to hold to the clarity of vision we had as youngsters. Also the question of how guilt and responsibility cross that divide between boy and man--what sins stick and what can be attributed to a different person, a younger self.

Nerine: Things happen in book one that are not particularly nice, or easy to read. Jorg's callous attitude toward others' lives got to quite a lot of folks (as I've found out first hand via social media). Yet by equal measure he has the balls and the vision to rebuild an empire. How has Jorg's journey changed him from Prince of Thorns to King of Thorns? Without giving too much away, what can we expect in book two?

Mark: Jorg's finding, as we all do, that responsibility muddies the waters considerably, and that shorn of the purity of revenge to draw him forward he has to be motivated by desire--and when you open yourself to desire you admit all manner of weaknesses, complications, and strengths of new kinds.

What you can expect is the above wrapped around on one hand a varied trek of many months across the breadth of the Broken Empire, and on the other a single bloody day on which Jorg gets married and close on twenty thousand men die in battle.

Nerine: Many genre fiction authors dream about destroying the world as we know it in their novels. The post-apocalyptic setting in yours only struck me once I was a decent way into Prince of Thorns--so what I'd love to know is what were some of your favourite scenes that cropped up in King of Thorns. Are you willing to share which areas correspond to ones we know?

Mark: Hopefully the correspondences in geography are clear in this book (see here for more). There were plenty of scenes I had great fun writing, others which were harrowing to write and which readers have said were just as emotional to read. Sadly most of the scenes I loved writing are spoilers. There's a scene excerpted here that I really like where Jorg rallies his troops.

Add King of Thorns to your TBR list on Goodreads.
Mark Lawrence on Twitter.
Mark Lawrence's website.

So, the question: What is the name of Mark Lawrence's main character in the The Broken Empire series? Leave your name and contact email address with your answer in a comment on this blog in order to be considered for the prize. Winner will be notified by email. The giveaway runs until Sunday, February 24, 2013.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Cari Silverwood's Steamwork Chronicles

Cari Silverwood needs little introduction here on my blog. We go back many years, to writers' groups where we were both members, and now we're at the stage of our careers where I've edited her novel, Rough Surrender, and I've proofread numerous other works. Her Steamwork Chronicles take place in a world of her own devising, and she's here today to answer a few questions. Welcome, Cari! Tell us more about the setting in your Steamwork Chronicles

I guess the one thing I kept in mind was, this is fantasy, and so I set out to create something that was not actually Victorian and yet that still had nuances of it. I think restricting your steampunk to merely Victorian England is no longer necessary with steampunk. I went for continental drift, where the continents are much closer. I lumped countries together. I made Asia into the Greater Asian Monarchy and I turned the US and part of Europe into The Pan-continental Mexican Empire. You’ll have to read the stories to get the details. Listing them would be boring!

One thing I will mention is that I added in the frankenstructs, who are human clones stitched together from many pieces.

Iron Dominance is book one of the series. If you have to tell readers about it in a nutshell?

Hmm. Short and sweet.Female frankenstruct assassin meets MrUber-Hunk, Theo Kevonis, who is Lord of his manor and all he surveys, and yet also a good man at heart, despite loving to dominate and spank women…sound good? Anyway, she betrays him in a way that we really should NOT blame her for, and that leads to much angst. So she gets spanked a lot, and tied up and much fun is had by all. Even when the bad guy arrives and tries to murder people.

Lust Plague follows as book two... How does it fit into the sequence, and what's the basic rundown of this one?

Let’s see…Lust Plague…basically Zombies, BDSM, and romance all rolled up in a steampunk setting. It’s gory in parts, post-apocalyptic, and great fun, even if the world almost collapses in a heap. Kaysana and Sten save the day. Since it’s set in territory around Tibet I could isolate the events to a fair degree, from Iron Dominance.

Your latest release is Steel Dominance, and you return to tell the story of one of the secondary characters in Iron Dominance. What's the buzz here?

I had a lot of readers ask me to write the story of Dankyo, and so this is it. He’s mean, masculine, and not a man to be trifled with. But he does save the day despite somewhat insurmountable odds. I like to travel on new territory with each story, so I set this one in a steampunk Byzantium, which is the same city as is Istanbul. In our world, Istanbul came about because the Ottoman Turks besieged and conquered the city. In my story, the siege never ended. I aimed to write a complex plot of intrigue and deadly revenge and I hope I succeeded. There’s certainly a high body count.

Steampunk and BDSM erotica... that's quite a heady combination. How do you blend the elements? What makes your characters tick...or not?

As with all stories, you need to balance the plot threads. They should all weave together in a nice way so that the climax happens at the right time. Not meaning to pun there. But like any story, to get readers interested you have to keep them wondering what is going to happen next and like all romances, you need to make the hero and heroine fall in love, and then fall OUT of love, and then IN again.Tricky business. The BDSM is just a part of their attraction for each other. I like to make the sex scenes build in eroticism and significance as the story trundles onward.

Obviously my characters are into BDSM and find that it spices up their love lives.

And snippets of your favourite reviews?

Night Owl Erotica 5/5 stars, Top Pick
“most of all, this is an adventure with all the things great adventure stories have in them; fights, flights, deception and much more”

Guilty Pleasures 5/5 stars
“I have come to expect nothing less from her except perfection, hot and steamy sex scenes and a wild story. She brings you to a future that is written with such clarity that you aren’t imagining it, but living it.”

And something to tease us from Steel Dominance?

A loudspeaker came on. “Time for disembarkation in twenty minutes. Passengers are advised to have their baggage in order.”

People either side of them moved away, and when only a few were left and Dankyo hadn’t said a word, she made to follow them. He stopped her. His hands tightened on her neck, and he shifted behind her until his lower body pressed into her buttocks.


She stiffened.

Then he nipped her ear and spoke in a warm, rumbling tenor. His breath carried his words in deep to curl inside her mind and paralyze her with their power.

“This is Byzantium, where slaves do as their Masters bid them. Where no one will know if you surrender yourself to me. Not your friends; not your family.” As he spoke, he slid one hand down her front, following the curve of her breast, then lower, until the flat of his hand rested on her belly. He pulled her back against him, gentle but sure.

“Sofia, will you let me take you to the edge and beyond?”

What's next for Cari Silverwood?

Next up to be released is Take Me, Break Me, another BDSM story, but one that skirts dubious consent.
Contemporary this time though. I like to call this story, the evolution of a sadist.

Blurb for this story which is very adult and only for those who like pushing boundaries:

Jodie is scraping the barrel trying to stay afloat. An idea arrives that could rescue her finances and bring her together in a kinky way with a man she never gave up on. She's terrified and fascinated, and tempted as hell.

Capture fantasies rule her eBook. Re-enacting one in a documentary would surely be irresistible viewing to millions of women?

But Jodie and Klaus discover that underneath an ordinary man dark desires may lurk. What will win in the end? The man and lover, or the monster?

After that story is the next in the Badass Brats series, The Dom with the Perfect Brats.

Books by Cari Silverwood

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Urban Occult anthology!

So, my dearly beloveds, I have a short story appearing this year in the Urban Occult anthology which is edited by Colin F Barnes. He mailed me today about a special limited-edition pre-order special. So I'm going to share it here and encourage you to take advantage of this, and help make a bunch of really awesome authors very, very happy.

* * * *

Urban Occult Limited Pre-Order

Limited to 50.

Behind urban life, weird and horrific things fester.

The whispers and chills of things long gone… the promise of power from the darkness… the seduction of those that lie in the shadows… the occult is all around us: in town houses, in mansions, and in your very own street.

Editor Colin F. Barnes collected together fifteen stories by a cast of critically acclaimed authors from around the globe who look into the stygian gloom, explore the dark corners of our houses, and peer into the abyss of human temptation.

Featuring stories by: Gary McMahon, Ren Warom, Gary Fry, Mark West, K.T. Davies, Nerine Dorman, Alan Baxter, Adam Millard, Julie Travis, Jason Andrew, James Brogden, A.A Garrison, Jennifer Williams, Sarah Anne Langton, and Chris Barnham.

Special Pre-Order Edition Limited to 50.

This pre-order edition means you will get the book at least a week to two weeks ahead of general release and:

A FREE ebook version (for any eReader)

and A FREE ebook of Day of Demons. (eBooks will be emailed to you on the 4th of March).

Just £9.99 (+£2.99 shipping anywhere in the world).

Pre-Order here:

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens #review

Title: The Emerald Atlas (The Books of Beginning #1)
Author: John Stephens
Publisher: Doubleday

Take everything that you loved about Harry Potter, Narnia and Middle Earth, mix it all together, and The Emerald Atlas will satisfy the dreams of your inner wide-eyed 10-year-old. A wise wizard? Yes. (Okay he does come across a little bumbling at times, and wears tweed, but he’s a wizard nonetheless.) An evil countess who’s really a witch? Yes. Dwarves? Lots of ’em, and all sporting the prerequisite beards and Scottish accents. Oh, don’t forget the hero. And a monster.

Then add a magic book, enough time-travelling to make your head spin, and three orphans who are trying to free a village while keeping a priceless artefact out of the clutches of evil, and you’ve got quite the epic fantasy.

Though it’s been a while since I’ve read children’s fiction, I very soon locked my inner adult in a cupboard and delved into The Emerald Atlas, book one of The Books of Beginning trilogy.

As far as storytelling goes, this is a fairly standard elaboration on the “chosen one” trope, but John Stephens handles it in such a way that it didn’t result in any eye-rolling. Granted, the novel gets off to a bit of a slow start, but what sold it to me was the large cast of support characters.

I’d have liked to have seen some of these get more prominence (or get their story arcs tied up neatly), as with Dena or Granny Peet; the former, unless she gets a reprise, didn’t serve that much purpose.

The setting is difficult to place. At first I thought the novel takes place in Victorian or Edwardian times, but the appearance of a Polaroid camera quickly nixed that idea. For some this might be an issue, but I chose to suspend disbelief and just enjoy the story for what it is: three children out to save the world from a powerful megalomaniac and her creepy minions (and the Secretary is horrible). What I appreciated is that Katherine, Emma and Michael aren’t sugary little kids. They bicker among each other and make mistakes. Yet somehow they make things work, and they have the adventure of a lifetime. Even better, it’s not done yet.

This review appeared in the Pretoria News on Monday, February 4, 2013

Friday, February 8, 2013

Calisa Rhose visits #guest

Today I hand over my blog to fellow Lyrical Press author Calisa Rhose... 

* * * *

Hi Nerine! Thank you for hosting me on your blog today. I’m super excited to share Risk Factors with your readers!

A little about me first.

Calisa Rhose is an Okie, born and bred, through and through, and proud of it. While growing up, when she wasn’t on the back of a horse, she could be found with pen and paper in hand. Her writing career began with poetry in her younger days. Then she discovered Rock-n-Roll and cute musicians. Poetry turned into stories of romance and dreams. These days she lives with the same man who convinced her to take a romantic journey with him almost 30 years ago. After raising three strong daughters she spends her days loving their granddaughters, hoping for a boy someday, and writing. When she’s not writing, you can find Calisa putting on her editor hat and working to help other published and aspiring writers.

She is working on more projects with her favored contemporary cowboys, first responders  and firemen. She plans to have some paranormal stories on the way to publication soon, as well (under a pen name tba).

Find Calisa at her website/blog

Twitter@CalisaRhose, Facebook/Calisa Rhose, Goodreads and Amazon.

I’m sharing Risk Factors, published by Lyrical Press, Inc today. This book and I have a bit of history, as do most writers and their books. LOL This may be a bit unusual, however. It’s not every day a new writer takes their ms back from a Big 6 publishing house.

Originally titled Perfect Dr. Viv, Risk Factors was retitled by my lovely editor, Piper Denna and me before I ever got my first round of edits.

So why a medical title in the beginning?

This story was written specifically for Harlequin Medical (Mills and Boon) during the Fast Track Initiative they did in August 2010. I came up with the premise and wrote one chapter to enter nearly two weeks into the contest. I didn’t expect it to go further so I didn’t write more. One week later, however, an editor requested the first three chapters.  Uh…there aren’t three chapters! I spent the next month writing and polishing two more chapters and submitted the all three the first week of October.

Once again, I forgot the wip and went back to my current project, a vintage historical novella in a special series. Two weeks and one day later I was shocked once more when the editor requested the full “when you get it written” because she knew it was not a completed ms when I submitted the first chapter.

The initiative said we could send anything from one chapter to a full ms for consideration and would hear back by the end of August. My first ‘hear-back’ was in August, as promised.

I innocently told her I would have the full category length romance to her BEFORE CHRISTMAS. That was less than two months away and I only had three chapters--and was minus six teeth--in the first two months!

I put the almost complete novella away (which I had been writing for six months and not finished those 20 thousand words, so no clue what made me think I could write three times that in two months!) and dug in. In the middle of writing it, hubby and I had to take a two-week trip to California and I worked while there even. I tweeted and Facebooked my self-imposed deadline to draft it by November 30th. Yep. I was full of stupid in those days! LOL

BUT--on November 30 at one minute to midnight I typed THE END. I’d done it. Now what?

I edited, sent it to my darlin’ holiday-harried critique group and asked for it back in one week so I could polish and submit it before Christmas as I’d promised the editor I would. I emailed the ms to the editor on December 18th! *deep sigh here*

So now I can sit back, breathe and finish the novella or start another project (which I actually did but that’s another blog post) --because we all know HQN isn’t going to respond within two years, right? No? Maybe that’s just my experience. J--) and chill for at least six months.



I got back a five page revision letter on Januray 28th, 2011! Barely one month after submitting the ms. All along emails from the editor were filled with “We love your voice!” “Your voice sparkles” and other similar things. So when she asked if I would take on the extensive revisions I thought it out, pros and cons. I emailed parts of her letter to my crit group to translate in their inexperienced opinions, and I read her letter a dozen times over a week. I finally took her up on it, not knowing what to expect.

Eight months, and the sale of that novella, later I was no closer to a contract and edits had almost completely rewritten just the first five chapters of the wip. I had lost who my characters were, what their GMCs were or where their story was going by this time. It was August 2011, a year after starting it, that I regrettably informed the editor I needed to pull my ms and shop it somewhere else.

That’s how I met Piper. Thank you!

In February 2012 she was doing a blog pitch at the group blog of one of my critique partners--WordWranglers. I pasted my blurb in a comment and she asked for a partial (three chapters). In May she asked for the full and in June I signed the contract. The rest, as the old cliché goes, is history.

Risk Factors- a Lyrical Press, Inc contemporary- releases March 4, 2013.

I’m thrilled to say it’s the original story I slaved to write and fell in love with along the way. I can happily say I LOVE the cover Valerie Tibbs created for  me with Lyrical! I can’t imagine a more perfect or beautiful cover for this story. A heartfelt thanks to you, Valerie!

I can honestly say those eight months were an experience I treasure, however, and this story just goes to prove the saying-- write what you know and write the story of your heart-- no matter who you are submitting it to. It’s your story. Don’t change it just to make a sale. I didn’t, and I’m glad. That doesn’t mean I won’t submit to M&B or HQN again one day. But not today and never again a medical. That subgenre just isn’t for me. :D

I don’t have buy links yet, but I’d still love to share an excerpt with you, if that’s okay.


Love, like life, is not without risk.

Veterinarian Vivian Dane has purchased her uncle’s practice in the tiny town of Wales, Missouri, where most residents still doubt her ability to treat their pets. But Viv is used to being considered less-worthy than her predecessors. After all, her parents are world-renowned wildlife vets, and most everyone is unimpressed she’s chosen to not follow directly in their footsteps.

Now Connor, a patient’s owner, is hot for Viv, but clearly doesn’t think she’s dating material because he has a daughter…who he believes no woman is good enough for. Being a perfect dad is EMT paramedic Connor’s life focus. He can’t seem to stay away from sexy Doctor Viv, but attraction is as far as he’ll ever let it go. His mother abandoned him, leaving him to be raised in the foster system, and then his wife abandoned both him and their daughter. He absolutely will not risk bringing another woman into his little girl’s life and having her feel the hurt of being left…again.

Forfeiting is easier than attempting and failing. So why does Viv feel compelled to prove she’s a sure bet for Connor and his daughter? Can Connor trust Viv--and himself--enough to play the possibilities?

It was close to five o’clock and Viv wanted to go home. Winter hadn’t reached the Midwest yet, but from September through October the temperatures often dipped and dove sporadically, before diving for the long winter ahead. There’d been a slight chill in the air that morning and she hoped for a few more weeks of warmth before harsh weather moved in.

She looked forward to a hot soak in the bathtub, but Skittles was due for pick-up first. Connor had assured her he’d pick her up, or have his father get her before five. She glanced at her watch again. Four-fifty-six. She didn’t mind staying late if she needed to; it would be a shame to leave the nervous animal alone another night.

She opened the small closet to put the dust mop away.


With a start, she spun and her hand caught the broom handle on her way around. Gasping, she grabbed uselessly, horrified as the cleaning tool flew sideways from the closet. In slow motion she saw it shoot out against Connor’s shoulder and fall with a sharp snap onto the tile floor.

“Oh! I’m so--so sorry! Are you hurt?” Instant heat rushed up her neck and she bent to reclaim the errant broom to shove into the closet. She slammed the door and leaned against it on a sharp breath.

“I’m fine. You worried your killer broom might attack again? You might consider putting a lock on the door,” he said with a crooked smile.

Puzzled, Viv looked around and realized with total humiliation how it appeared she’d trapped the broom inside the closet--when in actuality, she wanted to climb through the door beside the instrument and hide.

“Of course not. That would be silly. I didn’t expect you right now.”

“It’s two minutes of five. I told you I’d be here for Skittles. Is it too late?”

Right. The skunk. “No. I’m sure she’s more than ready to go home. Do you have the pet carrier to put her in?” She probably didn’t need to ask when Connor stood empty-handed before her.

He lowered his head and she knew he’d forgotten it, fought back a smile at his forgetfulness. “Sorry. I drove straight from work and didn’t think about it.”

“No worry. I have one you can borrow.” Which meant he’d have to see her again. She’d definitely need to see him again.

“Thank you. I’ll bring it back tomorrow.”

“Oh, there’s no rush. I keep a few on hand for emergencies.” She led him back to the cage where the skunk still huddled, and got a carrier while he opened the cage to retrieve his daughter’s pet. As he lifted the black fur ball out, Viv set a pink case next to him.

He hissed under his breath and almost let the animal loose. Viv opened the cage and held it upright for him to lower the skunk down inside and shut the door. Once he stood with the pet taxi, she detected a smear of red on one finger.

“She bit you?” Skunk bite, rabies, germs…

“It’s fine. When she’s scared she tends to nip a warning like a cat.” Connor’s lack of care concerned Viv, however.

“I should clean it with antiseptic before you go.”

“I’ll tend it when I get home.”

“But, it may have germs…get infected.”

“It’s not the first time, and her rabies vaccination is current. Thank you, but it’s not necessary.”

Viv stopped by a cabinet on the way to the front reception area to grab ointment and a Band-Aid.


Thanks again, Nerine. I’ve loved visiting you for my first public appearance of Risk Factors. I hope everyone likes this story of love and learning to trust. It’s a lesson in persistence too.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence #review

The main reason I picked up Prince of Thorns was because I heard it was getting such mixed reviews. Readers either love it or loathe it, and some were getting quite vocal about hating it. Naturally, my curiosity was piqued. Now, finally, I’ve read it, and I can say it’s not the fantasy novel I expected. But it’s a helluva lot more, and then some, and I’ve joined the legions of Mark Lawrence fans who’re going to sing Jorg’s praises.

In short, Prince Jorg watched his mother raped, and then both his mother and younger brother murdered violently. Only he was lucky. A soldier had tossed him into the briar patch in a desperate bid to keep him alive, and the enemy had left him there, assuming that he was dead. Well, he didn’t die, and at the tender age of nine he had to watch the entire dismal business, unable to do anything to help save those he loved.

Even if he survived the ordeal physically, his mind underwent a dark alchemy, further exacerbated by the fact that instead of exacting revenge for the deaths of his wife and child, Jorg’s father instead takes another wife, for improved political relations with the very ruler responsible for his past queen’s death.

Jorg’s smouldering need for vengeance devours him and awakens a thirst for violent retaliation, so much so that the boy at ten frees a band of condemned mercenaries and takes to the road causing widespread mayhem.

Readers who like to live in a rose-tinted bubble without any awareness of the kind of sick shit that does happen during times of turmoil will be upset by this book. If you prefer your heroes gallant and noble, then go read a romance novel. For example, some ladies couldn’t look past the references to rape. Um. Hello. This is WAR. Rape isn’t nice but hey, if you’re living in times of civil unrest, do you honestly expect war-mongering males to politely keep their dicks in their trousers? You don’t have to like what Jorg and his merry band of adventurers get up to. Hell, I didn’t like some of the stuff they did, but I accepted it as realism. Or maybe the fact that I live in South Africa has desensitised me. It doesn’t really matter, suffice to say that I shoved aside my own sensibilities so that I could get into the story.

A whole lot of unpleasant things happen. Anyone who’s read William Golding’s The Lord of the Flies will recall what happens when a bunch of boys are left to run amok. Now put weapons and dangerous men in the hands of a highly intelligent, manipulative boy with a broken mind? Jorg is doubly dangerous because he doesn’t know fear. He is a creature of impulses ruled by an overarching lust to exact revenge for perceived wrongs. A very volatile combination, if you ask me.

I suspect under less dire circumstances, Jorg could have grown up to be the next King Solomon, a wise ruler with great compassion. But where’s the story in that? Instead Jorg’s vast intellect is bent to a more sinister task. It’s not nice what he does to attain his ends by it *feels* real.

The world-building hints at a whiff of magic underpinned with a healthy dollop suggesting a post-apocalyptic setting in such a way that it’s not at first obvious. The novel itself can be considered a coming of age story as Jorg cuts himself free from the bonds of his past. His dark, somewhat dry humour offers a counterpoint to the unrelenting death-dealing and misery. But, like with George RR Martin’s writing, don’t get too attached to the support cast. Jorg causes *a lot* of hurt but one can’t help but cheer him on throughout his depredations. Jorg has vision, and though he might be struck by the Imp of the Perverse at times, I get the idea that he might very well achieve all that he sets out to do—carve out an empire. He is not a peacemaker. He is a sociopath. But I love him anyway.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Editor’s hat, February 2013

Probably one of the best feelings an editor can get is when a publisher green-lights a project you’ve pitched. So you’ve found *this* author or you’ve had *that* idea for an anthology. You do a lot of talking, and getting excited. Then it starts happening.

To touch base on where I’m at right now, I’m in the midst of editing the finalists and winner for the 2012 SA HorrorFest Bloody Parchment short story competition. We feature some established South African authors such as Diane Awerbuck, SA Partridge, but also some of the previous year’s finalists—Benjamin Knox, Toby Bennett and Lee Mather, among others. The anthology will be released mid-year and is once again published by eKhaya, the digital imprint of Random House Struik. But you can make this editor really happy by buying the current anthology which is available at Amazon  and Kobo, among others. Even better, go leave a review.

I’m pleased to announce that I’ll be working with DC Petterson again. Last year we celebrated the release of A Melancholy Humour, a tale that draws upon Italian folklore relating to the Benandanti and the Malandanti. If you love werewolves, and enjoy crime stories involving hunting down serial killers then this one will appeal to you. This year we’re working on Bella Lupa, which also features Petterson’s wolves, but in a historical setting and will be published by Dark Continents Publishing. One of his stories is also featuring in my upcoming Dark Harvest anthology. Release date will be announced. His voice is dark, seductive and rich in detail. You will understand what it feels like to run with the wolves and taste the metallic essence of blood on your tongue.

Dark Harvest is something I’ve been threatening to do for a long time, in which I invite authors I admire to submit stories I can compile in an anthology. Some of these are reprints. Some are new. The tales are dark, twisted… Sometimes humorous. Mysterious. Downright weird. I sent out the contracts for these yesterday, and am pleased to have the likes of Don Webb, Sarah Lotz, Carrie Clevenger, Autumn Christian, SL Schmitz, Sonya Clark, Liz Strange, Tony Bennett, Rab Swannock Fulton, Amy Burgess, DC Petterson and Anna Reith. I’ve included one of my own tales as well, and am well pleased with the wide cross-section I’ll be offering.

I’d also like to draw your attention to some of last year’s projects that I’m inordinately proud of.

Somewhere along the line I was introduced to Rab Swannock Fulton. He’s a real-life storyteller (as in he gets paid to tell stories to a live audience). Based in Ireland, this chap definitely kissed the Blarney Stone at some point, and I was pleased to work on his novella, Transformation. A huge big warning: when you start reading this story you will think it’s a romance. It’s most emphatically not. And afterward, you’ll find something unerringly creepy about the way goats stare at you. His prose is lyrical, and you can almost hear that Irish lilt in the way he turns his words. If you’re looking for a story of mythic proportions, then I totally recommend this one.

Crooked Fang came about after I stumbled onto Carrie Clevenger’s blog serial quite by chance, and fell in love with Xan Marcelles, the smart-mouthed bass-playing vampire. He has a knack for finding trouble, and what I love about him the most is that he’s just a guy who loves music, and has an unfortunate need to drink blood. He’s totally the antithesis of all those dreadful foppish fangless vampires who glitter.

I welcome queries from authors, and if you think you’ve got a story that might pique my interest, feel free to query me at

As a guide, I’m a huge fan of Neil Gaiman, Storm Constantine, Anne Rice, Mary Renault, Mary Gentle, CJ Cherryh and Poppy Z Brite, among others. My preferred genres are dark fantasy/horror, epic and urban fantasy and selected SF (I prefer space opera in the vein of Star Wars to military SF).