Thursday, February 28, 2013

Author Spotlight – Phillipa Ashley

Today, I’m very pleased to welcome Phillipa Ashley to our blog.

Tell our readers a little bit about yourself.
I live in the Staffordshire village where the Anglo Saxon gold was found (not by me, sadly) and I write commercial copy for my day job as well as writing romantic fiction. When I’m not writing, I try to surf and fail miserably so I retreat to a cafe instead. I read all genres of romance from the sweet to the erotic – as long as they have warmth and heart.

What number book is this? First? 100th? 200th?(Nora only!)
Well, Miranda’s Mount is my sixth book but I have number seven out in June and eight in October. Nine is underway.

Everyone who writes knows it's not easy - what methods do you use to keep at it on days when it would be so much easier to go shoe shopping?
I go shoe shopping. Seriously, I *do* go shopping. I tend to have very creative periods that last for months or even years then I hit a wall of nothing when I have no inspiration or motivation. I don’t write books when I feel down or spent and have had as long as six months off. But I do have commercial work during that time, and I just trust my mojo will return.

What is your top promo tip for other authors?
If I had one that worked I’d be a millionaire! I think that success has become increasingly random but I suspect that Amazon plays a huge role in making your novel visible. I have heard that if you can get your book bought alongside a best seller, that can be a huge boost to sales. Somtimes just having a similar cover or title can be enough – or happening to be in the right place in the market at the right time. How you achieve all these things, I don’t know. Unfortunately, I think price is vital in the UK too.

How does writing fit into your day? Or does your day fit in around your writing?
I treat it like a day at the office, starting early and finishing around 4.30 – then I go to the gym or for a swim and do more work when I get back. I plan long term projects like books around the short term deadlines of my commercial work and it all works out in the end!

Is there a book you haven't written yet that you're dying to? What genre?
I’d wanted to write a red hot kinky romance for a few years now but never dared. After 50 Shades came out last year, and it became ‘normal’ to discuss BDSM romance, I realised I was crazy not to go for it: I sold that book last night and it will be published in October!

Keeping fit: Do you have an exercise regime to counterbalance all those hours sitting at a computer?
Yes! It may not look like it but I go to the health club 5 times a week, for a combo of gym/swim and spinning. Mainly I go to try and de-stress and because they gym staff are often the first humans I’ve seen all day, and they have an outdoor pool, Costa coffee and newspapers. I love going and it helps to keep writers’ bottom at bay and is good for your cardio system and back. Blimey, that sounds boring ... but I also like surfing and I couldn’t do that if I didn’t at least try to keep fit (and I’ve a big birthday this year so I need to work harder than ever!)

Have you ever written a hero you'd be happy to run off with?
All of them – unless I want to run off with them, there’s no point in creating him! I would never leave my gorgeous, patient husband, naturally and there’s a bit of him in all of them. If I said I’d run off with Alex from my October naughty book, you might worry about me (OK. Maybe just for a day, if he was *very* gentle with me.)

At what point in your career did you actually start to feel like you were a writer?
Relatively recently. Probably not until I sold two books to Piatkus Entice – my first ‘big’ mainstream romances. I had two offers from really good publishers for those and when Miranda’s Mount won the Festival of Romance, I thought: well, maybe I am a proper writer. I’ve finally started to feel I have more control over my craft – sometimes!

Do you write to music, or with the tv on in the background, or do you need complete silence?
Radio or TV. I hate working in silence though I never hear a thing when I’m actually writing. They could announce the end of the world and I’d still be into my book when it all blew up!

And here’s a little about Miranda’s Mount, which you can buy from and

When Miranda finds herself fighting for her home, her job and her heart, sleeping with the enemy may not be the best tactic...

With no family of her own, Miranda Marshall has developed a healthy respect - some would say obsession - with other people's histories. As property manager of a spectacular island castle in Cornwall, she's made St Merryn's Mount one of the UK's most popular heritage attractions. While she may have the castle running like clockwork, Miranda hasn't bargained on its sexy owner returning to claim his birthright.

Dark, handsome and with a rakish reputation, Jago St Merryn not only looks like a pirate but is intent on flogging the Mount to a soulless leisure corporation. Miranda faces the battle of her life as she tries to persuade him to face up to his past and continue the St Merryn dynasty. But Jago has his own reasons for jumping ship and when he throws down the gauntlet to Miranda, she's forced to delve into painful memories she'd much rather keep hidden . . .

Thank you so much for joining us here today, Phillipa, it’s been lovely to learn more about you.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Dream a little dream...

I've been complaining to Minxes about my odd dreams. I hardly manage to close my eyes before they start. Always detailed and in colour – and sometimes in anime.

And they can be scary stuff.

In one, that has been recurring since I was about five, my family is taking tea on the elegant terrace of a large country house. We’re having a great time, when my sister suddenly transforms into a howling, snarling German Shepherd.

Not nice.

In another more recent one, I’m being hounded by a nameless, faceless monster. Chased into all manner of unsavoury corners of the world as this beast tried to derail me from my vital quest to buy a sink. Seriously. A sink. And, even though my task is of great importance, nobody will sell me one.

But that was better than the night I was going to a wedding. I spent ages finding the perfect outfit – a floor-length red dress which made me look stunning AND thin (I liked that bit of the dream). I was devastated, though, when I was told I couldn't wear it because it was exactly the same as a dress chosen by one of the bridesmaids. And nobody seemed to think it odd that the bridesmaid in question looked better in the dress than I did – even though he was a six foot tall, middle-aged man with a moustache.

Every morning I seem to wake with that uneasy feeling of something not quite right. And, even though I know it was all a dream, it’s very hard to regain a sense of normality. And I’m permanently exhausted.

I have no idea why this is happening because I try to never put anything bad in my head. I don’t watch creepy films or read scary books. And I always drift off to sleep thinking happy thoughts.

And these dreams are useless to a romance writer.

But could you imagine how lovely it would be to dream in romance novel style? New stories acted out by a dreamy cast; plot problems ironed out as you sleep; characters assembled and reviewed for suitability before you commit a single word to the page...

It would make writing so much easier.

So, what I want to know is, how do I turn my dreams around? How do I control these night-time mental images so I dream of handsome heroes and lovely love stories that I can type up as soon as I wake?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Author Spotlight - Jackie Ashenden

Welcome to Jackie Ashenden today. We're thrilled to help her celebrate her first release (although it is the first of MANY, so prepare yourselves for a treat :-)

Tell our readers a little bit about yourself.
Well, I've been writing since I was 12 and my first stories were fantasies based on LOTR. They were not awesome. But I wrote my first romance at 14 and that was. Totally. I was hooked. So for the next 20 years I wrote romances just for myself and a friend. I'd always dreamed of getting published but I thought it would be for writing the Great New Zealand Novel and I worried terribly that I wasn't literary enough. And I wasn't and thank God for that! Because I'm much happier writing hot, tortured guys finding their HEAs with strong, stubborn quirky chicks, than writing dreary literary fiction!

What number book is this? First? 100th? 200th?(Nora only!)
This is my first book. But I've sold six others since then.

Everyone who writes knows it's not easy - what methods do you use to keep at it on days when it would be so much easier to go shoe shopping?
Um, well, you're talking to the wrong woman here. I do like shoes but I LOVE writing. Yes, some days are harder than others, but I've never had a problem with forcing my butt in the chair. It's getting out of it that's hard.

What is your top promo tip for other authors?
I seriously believe the best promo you can do is write another book. You can plaster yourself all over the internet but that won't guarantee you sales. The only sure guarantee of sales is by writing and getting more books out there for people to buy. Romance readers are voracious and once they love you, they want to buy EVERYTHING you've written. So sure, do some tweeting and blogging and FBing. But then get back in the chair and get writing.

How does writing fit into your day? Or does your day fit in around your writing?
Definitely I'm a day fits around my writing kind of girl. My kids are at school and this is my day job – which makes me a very lucky girl.

Do you write every day?
Yes. I try to. I do take some days off now and then – especially after finishing something. But if I don't write I go insane and you wouldn't like to see me insane…

Keeping fit: Do you have an exercise regime to counterbalance all those hours sitting at a computer?
Pilates. At the moment I only go once a week but I need to get back into doing it at least twice. It's fabulous for back pain and relaxing your shoulders. And one session of Pilates totally cancels out all chocolate and wine for the whole week. Honest.

Just for fun: a year from the end of the book, where would your couple go on holiday?
They'd totally go snowboarding in Canada. Finn would teach Anna how to board and afterwards there'd be a hot tub….aaaand I'll leave it there. \

At what point in your career did you actually start to feel like you were a writer?
I've always felt like I was a writer. But I only felt it was my job since my first book was accepted – despite spending five years working towards publication full time. I guess you could call that my apprenticeship.

Do you have any tips, tricks or sacrificial rituals you do when you hit a story roadblock?
I walk. Or fold the washing. Or have a shower. Walking and showering in particular are awesome for helping me think my out of a tricky spot. Which would make walking in the rain doubly helpful!

When you’ve been burned, the heat of the moment is the scariest place to be.

Six months after a sexual assault, Anna Jameson has decided enough is enough. She’s sick of being a victim, of letting the experience have power over her. She wants her fear of physical intimacy gone, as in now.

In the quest to reclaim her sexuality, she needs a man. A man she trusts absolutely. A man like her best friend, Finn.

Finn Shaw is all about taking risks. He does it every week on his extreme sports TV show. But there’s one boundary he’s never pushed, and that’s his friendship with Anna. When his hyper-intellectual family kicked him to the curb over his dyslexia, Anna stuck by him.

Her request to become friends with benefits throws him for a loop. He can’t deny her anything, but this is a whole different ball game. Once they’re skin to skin, there will be no hiding the fact that he’s loved her for years.

When their chemistry burns out of control, Finn decides he’s the one who’s had enough. It’s time to break out of the friend box—and show Anna that risking her heart is a risk well worth taking. Even if it costs him her friendship.

Warning: This book contains a strong-willed heroine who knows what she wants, a daredevil hero intent on showing her how much more she could have, sexy love scenes that’ll melt your heart, and a grand gesture you’ll need a tissue for.

Thanks for visiting the Minxes blog Jackie. We wish you every success with this and your other releases :-)

BUY THE BOOK - click here

Monday, February 18, 2013

Write Right!

First of all I want to say a huge THANKS to all Minx followers for taking Blaze to Top 100 Free Best Sellers Rank: #37 this weekend as well as to #1 in Anthologies & #1 in Romance Short Stories :-)
I've blogged about the disadvantages of writing with a brain injury (see 'When words become enemies') but hadn't thought about the advantages before I attended a WordNerd workshop and met Rebecca Woodhead, who also has damage to the left side of her brain and hasn't let it hold her back. She noticed I spoke much more quickly and fluently when describing images (using the right, undamaged side of my brain) than when using the logical thinking left brain.
While some of what's written about right and left brain activity is over simplistic, some of it is most definitely true. I was reminded of what I'd been taught to do during rehab  - use images more to make up the shortfall (as my visual memory is unimpaired but my auditory memory shot to pieces).
But it never occurred to me that tapping into this more intuitive, image based way of writing could be an actual advantage. 

For instance I've just started using Pinterest to build storyboards and am loving it! And yes, I can use it when too ill to use 'words'. So if you see lots of Pinterest pinning on my Facebook timeline you can guess I'm having a bad health day!
Using voice to text software also leads to a different way of working, describing the story as I see it playing out in my mind without the tiring process of sending the language through my
So, I have a head start favouring this intuitive creativity but if, unlike me, you're hampered by a fully functioning left brain ;-) here are some exercises to help you deliberately use the right side of your brain more:

Writing prompts for the right brain
Exercise your right brain
For the arty among you there is a really interesting book called 'Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain' explaining how to deliberately use the right side of the brain for increased creativity.

For me, I'm determined to learn more how I can use this to my advantage. Huge thanks to Rebecca for helping me see how an 'impairment' doesn't have to be a disability but could actually enhance my creativity.
I have to say it does explain the huge boost to my creativity the brain injury has given me. I've never painted, drawn, sewn more prolifically in my life than in the past four years. At the moment I'm working on a lamp shade, PJ bottoms, a felt patchwork quilt (I worked out how to make the felt myself), a cross stitch landscape and an appliqué picture and this is actually a quiet phase for me craft-wise as I'm focusing on writing at the moment!

I didn't stumble back into the writing 'flow' until I wrote my story for Blaze (described in the blog post mentioned above) But now I'm determined to use that 'flow' whenever I feel stuck,  rather than trying to overthink my stories. 
Thinking visually will be less tiring for me and who knows, it may even result in better stories. 

Watch this space...

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Author Spotlight - Jennifer Shirk


The Minxes have two special Valentine's treats for you:
  • Our Minxy anthology Blaze is available for free on Amazon from today until 16th February, so if you haven't already, grab your copy today.
  • Today's spotlight author is giving away a copy of her latest release to one lucky commenter, so read on and get commenting!

Jennifer Shirk is from New Jersey in the US. She has been published by Samhain Publishing, Amazon's Montlake Romance imprint, and most recently by Entangled Publishing. Way to go, Jennifer!

Tell our readers a little bit about yourself.
I'm a pharmacist, turned stay-at-home mom turned author. I'm married and have one child, four hermit crabs and now one guinea pig.

What number book is this? First? 100th? 200th?(Nora only!)
Maybe someday I'll write as many as Nora. LOL This is only number #5 for me.

Everyone who writes knows it's not easy - what methods do you use to keep at it on days when it would be so much easier to go shoe shopping?
Deadlines, plus it really does help your other books if you keep writing new ones. So that keeps me going.

What is your top promo tip for other authors?
Top promo tip? Hmm...honestly, I'm learning the best promo is to write a really good book, otherwise, it doesn't matter how much you tweet or blog, it still won't sell.

How does writing fit into your day? Or does your day fit in around your writing?
I tend to work best in the mornings so that's when I make time to write. Then the afternoons I can do errands or take care of the house.

Do you write every day?
I TRY to write every day. But it doesn't always happen. Lately, I'm on blog tour and all my writing time has been used for interviews and blog posts!

Is there a book you haven't written yet that you're dying to? What genre?
YES. I am dying to write a YA. I will. I even have a premise and partial outline. Someday....

Keeping fit: Do you have an exercise regime to counterbalance all those hours sitting at a computer?
Yes, I run and do spin classes, and right now I'm redoing the P90x workout regime. That's about an hour 6 days a week, but I LOVE it.

What was the most fun part of writing this book?
I had a great time using my humour. I kind of wrote this book with the thinking that this book was for ME and I was just going to have fun with it no matter what happened.

Could you be friends with any of your heroines?
YES! But especially Phoebe in A Little Bit Cupid. She's just so fun--like a Sandra Bullock character.

Writing snacks – what are your favourites?
I try to stay pretty healthy when writing, but I do enjoy a Tootsie Pop or a Blow Pop when I'm writing just for something sweet to suck on. I love a hot cup of tea when I'm writing too now that it's cold out.

Thanks so much for having me!!

A LITTLE BIT CUPID is now available for 99cents at Amazon and B&N!

Finding love should be easy, but wedding photographer Phoebe Ward knows better. When Cupid shows up on a crazy mission to help her —and save the world in the process—Phoebe realizes love might be even more complicated than she thought. Even with Cupid showing her Mr. Right , she can’t stop thinking about his best friend, Mr. Wrong.

Cal Crawford has never had time for love, but now he’s falling for Phoebe. Which means it’s got to be just plain wrong to set her up with his best friend, right? But even though seeing Phoebe with someone else will break his heart, he can’t walk away from her.

Phoebe can’t afford to choose the wrong guy with the fate of the world at stake. But maybe Cupid has it wrong. Maybe she has to rely just a little bit on Cupid, and a whole lot more on her heart.

A Little Bit of Cupid is available on Amazon, Amazon UK and Barnes & Noble.

You can find Jennifer on her website, her blog, on Twitter, on Facebook and on Goodreads.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Our FREE Valentine's gift to you...

We're feeling the Valentine love here at Minx Manor this week, and to celebrate, we're spreading the love to you. Yes, YOU!

We want to treat you, and we've wracked our brains for the perfect gift.

Chocolates? Too sickly.

Roses? Too cliched.

A free ebook stuffed full of sexy romance reads about HOT firemen? Hell yeah!

We wrote this book. We LOVE this book, and now we'd like to give it to you as a gift.

Eight sizzling stories, eight delicious firemen.

Download Blaze FREE from Amazon on February 14th, 15th & 16th.

CLICK HERE to download from

CLICK HERE to download from

We recommend it with a big glass of wine or a huge bar of chocolate. Or both.

Enjoy! It's on us. 

With Love from The Minxes xxxxxxxx

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Author Spotlight - Lindsay Pryor

We've hosted a lot of authors on this blog in the nearly three years we've been running, and I have to confess I've read very few of the books we spotlight. Occasionally the interview might intrigue me enough to buy the book. Even more occasionally I might get around to reading it. Almost never do I read the book before the Spotlight appears.

The book in today's Spotlight hit my Kindle the day it released. And I've read it. And I loved it. So I'm super chuffed that I get to host the author here today.

Lindsay Pryor has the amazing distinction of being a finalist in Mills & Boon's New Voices contest not once but twice. I fell in love with Lindsay's voice and her stories when I read her very first chapter of Blood Roses on the New Voices site in 2010, and her 2011 entry was even more electric. That entry has now become her debut book, Blood Shadows, a gripping read with a dark, dangerous hero (the ultimate bad boy), some really snappy dialogue ... and it's hot!

Thanks for joining us here today, Lindsay.

1. Tell our readers a little bit about yourself.
I’m a British paranormal romance author who writes dark, intense, multi-layered stories set in the dystopian world of Blackthorn. My first three books in the series have been signed by Bookouture (founded by ex-Harlequin marketing controller, Oliver Rhodes). The series was launched in November with Blood Shadows. Blood Roses will be released in April and the third book in the Autumn.

My writing was discovered through Harlequin Mills & Boon’s New Voices competition, where I finished as a runner-up in both 2010 (with Blood Roses) and 2011 (with Blood Shadows, formerly known as Beguiling The Enemy). I’d been writing for over twenty-five years by the time I’d built up the courage to get my work out there

As well as being an author, I’m a part-time special needs teacher. I live in the South West of England with my husband, our rescue bunny and a plethora of woodland creatures.

2. What number book is this? First? 100th? 200th? (Nora only!)
Blood Shadows is my first published book. I’ve just finished polishing Blood Roses and am underway with book 3. I have all sorts of other work outside of the Blackthorn series stashed away in my writing cave, but most of it will never see the light of day.

3. Everyone who writes knows it's not easy - what methods do you use to keep at it on days when it would be so much easier to go shoe shopping?
Writing has always been an indulgence to me so I’ve never found it an effort to pin myself to my desk and work. It’s more of a challenge finding other things that can sustain my interest or motivate me enough to peel myself away. Shoe shopping sometimes works! So does The Vampire Diaries, Being Human and Supernatural.

4. What is your top promo tip for other authors?
Get yourself on social media – Twitter, a blog, Goodreads, Pinterest, Facebook. I’m new to social media but it has made a huge difference to me in terms of reaching people, meeting readers and making friends. Before New Voices, I was very reclusive when it came to my writing. I’d never even spoken to another writer. Getting on social media was the best thing I ever did. I now have amazingly supportive readers and fellow writers who I couldn’t do without in terms of getting word of my books out there.

5. How does writing fit into your day? Or does your day fit in around your writing?
My day fits around my writing and I’ve always been the same. I only eat, sleep and take breaks when it fits in with whatever stage I’m at in plotting, drafting or revising. It’s a terrible habit, but after so many years it’s too instilled to change now. There are days when I’ve missed meals, realised I’m still in my pyjamas at four in the afternoon, or started writing in the dark in the morning only to look up and see it’s the evening. My husband is amazing at making sure I’m fed, watered and get some sleep. We’ve been married fourteen years through all that, so he totally deserves a certificate of dedication.

6. Do you write every day?
I don’t write on the days that I teach, because I work long hours and have prep to do when I get home. Every other day, yes. Aside from when I’m at the day job, I very rarely take a day off from writing. Even if I’m not technically writing, I’m making notes.

7. Could you be friends with any of your heroines?
Most definitely. My heroines all have characteristics that I really admire and would appreciate in a friend. They’re compassionate, honest, reliable and stand up for what they believe in as well as those they care about. They also have traits that drive me to distraction, but I think that’s essential for well-rounded characters.

8. Have you ever written a hero you'd be happy to run off with?
Despite how badly behaved my heroes are and the fact I’d run a mile from them if I ever met them in real life, I can’t deny I find them intoxicatingly appealing. I’ve been told many times that Kane (Blood Shadows) skirts dangerously close to the edge, but that readers have fallen for him anyway. I was no different when I wrote him. There were times when I convinced myself I’d never get away with the way he is, but I still developed a soft spot for him and I’m thrilled readers have too. Caleb (Blood Roses) is exactly the same. They might be dark heroes, but they’re heroes all the same in their own unique way. You’ve just got to have the insight and desire to scrape beneath the surface sometimes to see it.

9. Any craft books you recommend?
I’ve not read any craft books. I’ve bought them in the past, flicked through them and found myself becoming too over-analytical about how and what I write. I’ve subscribed to Writing Magazine for years though and love their tips and articles.

10. At what point in your career did you actually start to feel like you were a writer?
I’ve never not felt like a writer because I can’t ever remember a time when I didn’t have a writing project underway. Blackthorn itself has been under construction for sixteen years, so I’ve lived with these stories a very long time. I think it’s more a case of me pinching myself enough into believing my work is finally out there.

When I think back, my first conversation with my publisher and then my editor were pivotal moments for me in feeling like a professional author. I was so unbelievably nervous about saying or doing the wrong thing because, having never spoken to a publisher or editor before, I had no idea of the protocol. They were both amazing though. Holding my book for the first time and reading my first review were also significant moments in convincing me it was all real. I cried over both. I still have days when I find it hard to get my head around the fact my book is in readers’ hands. And I certainly don’t think I’ll ever stop appreciating readers who email me or tweet me just to let me know they’ve enjoyed what I’ve created.

Blood Shadows (Blackthorn Series Book One)

For vengeance - would you trust a vampire?
For justice - could you betray your family?
For love - are you ready to question everything you believe in?

Gifted with the ability to read the shadows of ‘third species’ beings, Caitlin Parish is the Vampire Control Unit’s most powerful agent. Despite that, her mission to hunt down Kane Malloy – a master vampire – comes with a death wish. Many have tried, but few have survived.

For Caitlin, tracking Kane is about more than just professional reputation. With her parents both mysteriously killed 7 years apart to the day, Caitlin knows that without Kane’s help she is next.

She has four days to make a deal with the wicked, the irresistible, the treacherous Kane Malloy. The vampire who despises everything she stands for.

Blood Shadows is available on Amazon, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Sony eBooks and Apple. And there's a trailer!

You can follow Lindsay on her blog, Goodreads, or on Twitter.

Monday, February 4, 2013


She’s done it again!

Although I’m not sure why I was stunned when I finished this Kelly Hunter novel because I KNOW just how brilliant she is. I guess my oh-my-god reaction was because THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY is by far her best book yet.
Or it could be that this book tackles a subject that fascinates me at the moment. Yes, I know the cover is all pretty colours and balloons and sunshine but trust me this book deals with some heavy and heartbreaking issues.

From the first line – “There were limits – but Logan couldn’t remember what they were.” - I was completely hooked.

Logan is trying desperately hard not to give in to his darker side and issues from his childhood he hasn’t been able to get past.

The neat twist is that Evie/Angie isn't trying to "cure" him of his obsessive nature. She's irresistibly drawn to Logan’s darker side and goes into the relationship half dreading consequences that could well be her undoing.

Watching these two try to find the balance on this knife-edged emotion was incredibly riveting throughout the book. The Kelly Hunter touch of humour and well-rounded secondary characters – witnessing Logan’s brother Max’s dealing with his own personal angst - was a delightful bonus.

This is a fantastic book – don’t take my word for it. It’s currently #70 on the Amazon contemporary fiction charts and I predict it’s going to keep soaring because It’s. Just. That. Good.

If you haven’t a Kelly Hunter book yet, this is one to start with. Truly, I’m yet to read any book of hers that hasn’t made the reader in me sigh with satisfaction and the writer in me groan with pure green envy! So, go buy it now!