Joanna Maitland asks: ‘Why Go Indie?’

Joanna Maitland embraces freedom.

Sue Moorcroft blog

Happy Couple Driving on Country Road into the Sunset in Classic

At the risk of stating the obvious, I’d say the answer is freedom.

Here’s an example of independent author freedom in action. As originally published, in the Harlequin Undone! series of short ebooks, His Silken Seduction was well under 50 pages. That was the length the line required, so that was the length I wrote. Simples!

When I reread it, for the first time in more than five years, I could see that the characters were just begging for more room to tell their story. Some readers had already told me so, in fact, but I hadn’t been able to change anything, first time round.

As I struck off their shackles, the characters gave three excited cheers at the prospect of freedom and simply took charge of the story.

Bird tattoos come to life, freedom concept

They wanted to show me what was missing before – how they were falling in love in the midst of…

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My Monday guest, Sharon Booth, author of fun-filled fiction with a heart

Today, I’m absolutely delighted to welcome the lovely Sharon Booth.

Sharon

Please tell us something about yourself, Sharon.

I write contemporary romance—”Fun-filled fiction with heart”. My first two books, There Must Be an Angel and A Kiss from a Rose, are the first half of the Kearton Bay series, set in a fictional village on the North Yorkshire coast, inspired by Robin Hood’s Bay. I’ve also had a People’s Friend pocket novel published recently. I’m one tenth of the Write Romantics, a blogger, a sugar addict, a Whovian, and I’m shamefully prone to getting huge crushes on gorgeous actors.

Ah! How would you describe yourself as a colour?

I’d love to say I’m a deep, mysterious, purple kind of person, or a sexy midnight blue or something. If I’m being honest, though, I’m definitely a pastel person. I can’t stay too serious for too long, and I do tend to see the lighter side of everything. Having said that, I do get my deep and meaningful moments, so maybe I’m baby pink with a purple streak, or powder blue with a flash of midnight? 

Sounds lovely. If you could morph into any creature what would it be?

Does this have to be a real creature, or can it be mythical? Because if I’m allowed to be a mythical creature, I’d love to be Pegasus, because I love horses and he can fly! Imagine having wings and being able to soar away, going anywhere you want to go. I hope I’m allowed to be a mythical creature, because otherwise I’d have to be a wasp or a dragonfly or a sparrow or something, and they’re just not as pretty as even ordinary horses—let alone horses with wings.

Pegasus is perfect. What kind of music do you listen to, Sharon?

I listen to lots of different music. It really depends on my mood. I love Queen, Fleetwood Mac, Abba, most seventies music, some eighties music, power ballads, light pop, classical, Enya, Clannad, even some of the modern stuff, despite being positively ancient. My all-time favourite album is Hounds of Love by Kate Bush. I could listen to that over and over, particularly the Ninth Wave section. Not sure I could pick out one favourite song as that changes frequently. 

Let’s talk about your writing now. Which of your own releases was your particular favourite?

I’ve discovered that my favourite book is always the one I’ve just finished, and my least favourite book is always the one I’m working on at the time. I love all my characters in their own way, and I am completely in love with my heroes. However, I have to admit to having a soft spot for the badly-behaved ones. They’re such fun to write. I loved writing Harry in There Must Be an Angel, Maisie in A Kiss from a Rose, and, in book three, there are a few characters that are so awful they fill me with delight. Maybe I’m just a bit weird.   

Hahaha! When crafting the story do you go from beginning to end, or do you jump around writing the scenes that are pushing themselves forward in your brain?

I generally go from beginning to end, but if I’m in one of my “I can’t think of a single thing to say” moods when I don’t even want to switch on the computer, and I’m in danger of throwing a giant strop, I talk myself round by allowing myself to write a scene that I’ve been looking forward to. It’s guaranteed to get the fingers tapping, the brain cells working, and the inspiration flowing again.

That’s a good tactic. Have your characters ever taken the story in a different direction than you had originally planned? 

Oh, yes! For a start, A Kiss from a Rose wasn’t supposed to happen at all. Rose MacLean was supposed to be a secondary character, and she was never meant to have her own book. While I was writing There Must Be an Angel, however, she just leapt out at me and demanded her own story. I must say, she was quite a handful. I couldn’t think who would be able to cope with her, but funnily enough, it was the quiet man of Kearton Bay who ended up being just perfect for her. I thought I knew what would happen to those two, but then Flynn turned out to have a secret that I honestly had no idea about when I started writing. As if that wasn’t enough, Rose did something that really threw a spanner in the works and changed the entire course of the book. I had absolutely no idea that was going to happen when I started writing. I really did feel that Rose and Flynn wrote that book themselves. Yes, I know that sounds a bit odd, but that’s what happened.

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Wonderful! Is location important in your books?

Location is extremely important to me. You wouldn’t believe how many locations I tried to set the Kearton Bay novels in or how many names I gave that village. It was only when I visited Robin Hood’s Bay, for the first time in years, that I realised that right there was the perfect setting for my books. Everything about the village was just right, and now, when I go back there, it’s so easy to imagine my characters walking those streets, climbing that fearsomely steep hill, or sitting outside the pub looking out to sea. Yorkshire is my home and I love it, and so far I’ve set everything I’ve written there, but I do have an idea for a new series and it will be set somewhere else entirely—simply because that’s what suits the stories. That will be an interesting experience!

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So, what are you working on now, Sharon? Would you like to share anything about it?

I’ve just sent my third full-length novel to my beta readers, so it’s a question of waiting for their verdict and trying not to be too nervous. It’s not a Kearton Bay novel, and it’s told from the viewpoints of five people, so it’s quite different to my first two books. It’s mostly set in the Yorkshire Dales and it features an ageing rock star and his spoilt brat of a daughter, a naughty politician and his wife, a woman who’s not who she seems to be, and a rather gorgeous farmer—oh, and sheep. I’m hoping it will be out in February or March next year.

I can’t wait. Tell us a bit more about A Kiss from a Rose.

A Kiss from a Rose was published at the end of September. It’s the second in the Kearton Bay series, following on from There Must Be an Angel. It can be read alone, although it features characters who appeared in the first book. It’s Rose MacLean’s turn in the limelight. She’s a single mum, struggling to bring up two daughters, while working full time. The last thing she needs is the return of her mother, but events conspire to ensure that the dreaded Maisie MacLean ends up moving in with her. Maisie isn’t the most tactful mother in the world, and she’s not slow to point out that her own newly-rekindled romance with her childhood sweetheart means that she’s getting a lot more action than her daughter. Since the only man on Rose’s horizon is Flynn Pennington-Rhys, the quiet man of Kearton Bay, things don’t look like improving any time soon. But maybe there are things about Flynn that Rose doesn’t know…

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Intriguing! How can readers find you?

They can buy my books from Amazon in either paperback or Kindle format.

A Kiss from a Rose

There Must be an Angel

And they can find out more about me here:

 Blog

Facebook Page

Twitter

Wonderful! Thanks for the interview, Sharon. I wish you every success with your books.

Thanks for asking me, Siobhan.

My Monday guest, Gillian E. Hamer, author of crime fiction set on the island of Anglesey in Wales

Today, I’m absolutely delighted to welcome the lovely Gillian Hamer.

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Born in the industrial Midlands, Gillian’s heart has always yearned for the wilds of North Wales and the pull of the ocean. A Company Director for twenty years, she has written obsessively for over a decade, predominantly in the crime genre. She has published six full length novels and numerous short stories. After completing a creative writing course, she decided to take her writing to the next level and sought representation. Gill is a columnist for Words with Jam literary magazine, a regular theatre goer and avid reader across genres. She splits her time between Birmingham and a remote cottage on Anglesey where she finds her inspiration and takes long walks on deserted beaches with her Jack Russell, Maysie.

Tell us, Gill. How would you describe yourself as a colour?

I think I’d be a rich, deep purple – with added shimmer! I like to think I’m quite a serious person for the most part, which comes down to being in business for many years, I guess. Someone recently commented on a photo that even when I’m smiling and relaxing I look like a ‘bitch-at-rest’ which I’m assured was a compliment – but I’m not convinced. So, yes a nice shimmery, layered purple – one of my favourite nail varnish colours actually!

I love purple too. Are you a morning person, or a midnight candle burner?

I have really changed with age. I used to hate early mornings with a passion, and even when I started writing about 15 years ago, I could happily open up a document and start writing at 10pm and go onto the early hours and still be up for work. Now, by 11pm I can hardly keep my eyes open. But the benefit is I’m usually up and working by 7am and in the summer months really get to enjoy the quietness and freshness of early mornings.

If you don’t mind me asking, why do you set your books on the island of Anglesey when you live and work in Birmingham, UK?

I think I’ve always been a city girl with a passion for the coast even as a child. My mum and dad both loved North Wales and we had a caravan for many years and toured the coast of Britain but always seemed to settle in Wales. About ten years ago as a family we bought a cottage on Anglesey as we had friends who lived in Holyhead and we’d been visiting for many years. And I think the main attraction for me as a writer is the beauty of the area and the depth of history. That really came across in my first three novels The Charter, Closure and Complicit as I managed to combine historical threads about Anglesey in with the modern day stories. And lastly, Anglesey is the place I go to do my writing. If I didn’t have the cottage, I doubt I would have ever got a book to publishable quality. It relaxes and releases me from the pressures of work and city life. TheCharter_Cover_KINDLEClosure_Cover_EBOOKComplicit_Cover_EBOOK

Sounds perfect, Gill. At bedtime, do you listen to relaxing-so-you-can-sleep sounds or do you prefer something else?

If I’m tired when I go to bed, I like complete silence and I can fall to sleep pretty easily. Otherwise, if my brain won’t shut down or I find I’m just not tired, I’ve started listening to audiobooks. I really love them when I’m driving or cooking or cleaning – but they’re also really nice for helping me drift off to sleep. I set the sleep timer for 30 mins but very rarely get that far!

That’s the trouble with audiobooks, I find. Like bedtime stories when we were children, they send us straight to sleep, hahaha. How did you come to write crime fiction?

Crime fiction was my love from a very early age, down to my mum fetching me Enid Blyton books from the village library each week. Then I moved onto Agatha Christie and can still remember the buzz I got when reading the first one ‘Sparkling Cyanide’. From then I moved into horror for a while, but then got back into reading crime, and also I loved detective series on TV like Morse and Wycliffe so when I started to write I just seemed to naturally follow the crime route!

Would you like to write a different genre?

I would one day like to write historical fiction. There are so many periods of British history that totally fascinate. The Roman era for one, which I touched on in my novel, Complicit. Also the Tudors, I love Hilary Mantel’s interpretation of Cromwell and would to research and write the life story of another similar character of the period. And also I find wartime stories really captivating so would like to retell a story from either the first or second world wars. So, I’m spoiled for choice really and have lots of ideas simmering away.

Wonderful! How do you handle writer’s block?

Writer’s block is something that used to stress me out at one time, but I have now hopefully learned to cope with it. I have realised that when my head is not in writing zone that there is very little point in my sitting at a computer staring at a blank screen. I have to move away and do something else! Long journeys help me in terms of plotting and planning and developing new ideas in my head, and now I don’t sit down to write until the words are bursting to come out!

Good tactic! When crafting the story do you go from beginning to end, or do you jump around writing the scenes that are pushing themselves forward in your brain?

I think I am quite a visual writer, so I would find it very difficult to jump around and write scenes out of order. I try to write the story in the order it occurs, that’s not to say I won’t rewrite some scenes, or even add a separate thread later, but in order for me to keep the pace and tension in the writing, I like to live the story through my characters, and work through the scenes as they do. It also helps for me to avoid plot holes by writing the scenes in order.

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I’m like you. What are you working on now? Would you like to share anything about it?

At the moment, I am starting the third book in the Gold Detectives series, and I’m at the early researching and planning stage, which is actually one of my most favourite parts of writing a novel.

Great! Do you have a new book coming out soon or recently released?

False Lights, which is the second book in the Gold Detectives series, is out this month. Ebook released on November 14th and paperback on November 28th.

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It looks amazing. Your books are now on my TBR list. So, Gill. How do readers find you?

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Here are my Amazon UK Buy Links:

The Charter

Closure

Complicit

Boxset

Crimson Shore

False Lights

Thanks, Gill. It’s been great chatting with you today.

Thanks for having me, Siobhan!

 

 

 

Gondolas, cover bans and affirmation – It’s all in Siobhan Daiko’s writing life

I’m over at the Write Romantics this morning. Do stop by!

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Siobhan Daiko AuthorToday we are thrilled to welcome back friend of the WRs, Siobhan Daiko, to the blog. Siobhan was born in and raised in Hong Kong. Before becoming a writer, Siobhan had a range of jobs from post office mistress to high school teacher. Siobhan now lives with her husband and two cats in the Veneto region of Northern Italy, where she spends her time writing, researching historical characters, and enjoying the dolce vita. We had loads of questions to ask Siobhan when she came back to visit us and, as always, she has a lot going on!

What’s the best bit of feedback you’ve had about any of your novels so far?

An Amazon USA review of The Orchid Tree which said my characters were now a part of their life. That absolutely made my day.
You have had considerable success as a self-published author, but would you ever consider…

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My inspiring editor, John Hudspith

My interview with John Hudspith, my inspiring editor, for the Asian Books Blog.

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As well as editing manuscripts, John also offers advice on such topics as overcoming writer’s block, creating an epic, and the eBook eruption – he is a one-man, one-stop service for indie authors wherever they live.  Meanwhile, he too is an indie author. His first novel, Kimi’s Secret won a highly coveted YouWriteOn book of the year award in 2013. The second novel in his Kimi series, Kimi’s Fear, is out now.

How did you start out as an editor?

A love for great storytelling combined with an eager willingness to stick my nose into other people’s writing brought me an addiction I couldn’t shake. Writers seemed to like what I had to say and before I knew it I was editing full manuscripts. 

How many indie novels have you edited to date?

Over 180 novels / novellas edited to date. Oh, and hundreds of short stories.

Do you have a favourite genre for editing?

Favourite genres are many: supernatural, horror, suspense, humour, erotica, sci-fi, crime, and the just plain freaky or out there. And short stories; I do love helping to form the perfect short story.

Are there any common problems you see in work submitted to you?

The most common problem is fluff. That is, overwriting, straying from the story’s core conflict point and presenting the reader with fluff. This is the biggest fault. And I’m talking all writers, not just self-published ones. Story matters. Story is all. Set up great conflict from the off  – the hook, the what-if, the problem your main character seeks to resolve – get that great and let the story  / conflict unfold. Don’t go off on silly and boring tangents.

Do you think it’s important for an author to have a plot outline before they start writing a story?

Absolutely. I’ve been victim to losing the plot myself. Flying by the seat of your writerly pants rarely brings satisfactory results. The trick is simple: do some plotting. It doesn’t have to be a massive amount, but the minimum you should have, before you start any actual writing is:

A possible beginning / starting point

Some middle bits / pivotal plot points

One or more possible endings

The amount you add to this initial outline is up to you. We all work differently, and you should work the way that suits you best, but having those initial signposts in place will help keep the storytelling in good shape.

There are myriad unpolished indie publications on the internet, but also some fantastic writing. What are your thoughts on the prevalence of less skilful offerings?

Perception of the written word is largely subjective. One reader’s dross is another reader’s magic. But the real magic exists only for those in the know. As a smart young girl once told me: “You have to know the magic before you can see the magic.” 

If an indie author is in the unhappy situation of getting a string of bad reviews, what do you suggest they should do?

It takes a while to develop a thick skin, but if the writing is important to you then you must learn to take a step back and consider your readers’ views. And then do something about it, such as joining a peer review group to help you improve your craft – or hiring an editor. Or ideally, do both.

What advice do you give your writers when they tell you they’re suffering from the dreaded writers block?

Talk. Whether it be to a friend or a fellow writer, simply mentioning the block, the struggle, can bring ideas flowing. What might be days or weeks of procrastination, if kept to oneself, can become almost instantly fixable just from batting ideas back and forth.  A walk in the woods is another great fixer. Get in among the trees, suck in all that oxygen, and the muse will often wake up and throw gems at you.  (Editor’s note: In Asia, a walk in the jungle is perhaps not always such a great idea, unless you stick strictly to well-trodden paths and take sensible safety precautions against snakes, getting lost, and so on. But the general point stands: seek refreshment in communing with nature.)

What do you enjoy most about your job? Is there anything you dislike about it?

There’s lots to love about my job. I get to read stories in every genre, every day. I get to work with writers, teaching them better ways as well as helping to hone their work. As for the dislikes, that might be the excessive amount of sitting; I have to push myself to get up and walk around every hour or so.

Any advice you’d like to give to a writer about to take the first step in indie publishing?

Spend a few years learning the craft, writing, reading, interacting via peer review, and make your work the best it can be before you consider self-publishing.

How should an indie author go about choosing an editor?

Pick three editors with good testimonials to their name and ask for a free sample edit, then go with the one you feel connects best with you and your work. If they don’t offer a free sample edit go with someone who does.

My Monday guest, Liza Perrat, author of the French historical trilogy, The Bone Angel Series.

Today, I’m absolutely delighted to welcome the lovely Liza Perrat.

Liza

Liza grew up in Wollongong, Australia, where she worked as a general nurse and midwife for fifteen years. When, on a Bangkok bus, she met the Frenchman who was to become her husband, she moved to France, and has been living with him and their three children there for twenty years. She works part-time as a French-English medical translator, and as a novelist.

Spirit of Lost Angels is the first in her French historical trilogy, The Bone Angel Series.

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The second – Wolfsangel – was published in October, 2013, and the third, Blood Rose Angel, was published in November, 2015.

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She is a founding member of the author collective, Triskele Books, and reviews books for BookMuse. Liza and I met through fellow writer friends, and I’m thrilled to interview her on my blog.

Tell us, Lisa, are you a morning person, or a midnight candle burner?

Definitely a morning person. My brain refuses to co-operate much after 5pm.

If you could morph into any creature what would it be?

Any of my past, present or future cats, as they have the perfect life.

Ha! Mine do also. Bedtime, relaxing so you can sleep sounds or is your preference for something else?

Soft and relaxing music, something like Hildegarde Von Bingen’s, whilst reading a good book.

So, how did you come to write historical fiction?

I tried writing contemporary fiction but couldn’t pull it off. Then I seemed to “find” my voice in historical fiction. Probably because I’m passionate about history.

Me too. Would you like to write a different genre?

Psychological crime thrillers, as I find them exciting to read.

Snap! What is your least favourite part of writing?

That bumpy, uncertain first draft, when you’re never sure if it’s going to turn out in the end, or becoming a stinking pile of rubbish.

Would you ever consider a joint project?

No, I would be too awful, cranky and pedantic to work with. I’m better left to my own devices.

Is location important in your books, Liza?

Yes, location is vital in my books, as “Time and Place” is the motto of my Author Collective, Triskele Books. For The Bone Angel series, I featured rural French villages and landscape, as that’s where I live, so it makes it easier to write about. This will probably change in the future though.

Tells us about Blood Rose Angel, your new book, please!

Blood Rose Angel, third book of my French historical trilogy, The Bone Angel series has just been published, and will be launched at our Triskele Books annual launch in London on 28th November. It follows book 1, Spirit of Lost Angels and book 2, Wolfsangel, but takes place during the 14th century Black Death years. All three books can be read as standalones. The same family, village, auberge and angel talisman link the characters throughout the trilogy.

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Sounds fascinating! I have your series on my TBR list. How can readers find you, Liza?

They can connect with me online via:

WEBSITE

BLOG

TWITTER

FACEBOOK

PINTEREST

GOOGLE+

Sign up to my newsletter and receive a FREE copy of Ill-Fated Rose, the short story that inspired The Bone Angel series.

Great! It’s been fab chatting with you and I wish you every success with your writing.

Thanks for inviting me, Siobhan. 

My Monday Guest, Michelle McLoughney, bestselling author of contemporary romance.

I’m absolutely delighted to welcome the lovely Michelle McLoughney to my blog today.

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Michelle and I met via Tracy Smith Comerford, who is Michelle’s PA. Author of the Amazon bestselling saga, The O’Malleys, Michelle lives in County Clare, Ireland, where the novels are set.

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Michelle began writing at a young age and won her first national poetry competition at 17. She has been widely published throughout Ireland and internationally.

It’s fab to have you here, Michelle. Tell us, how would you describe yourself as a colour?

I would be bright orange. I consider myself a naturally happy person. I find it easy to laugh and have fun. There are darker sides to my personality but I have the ability to rationalise through dark times. I’m endlessly optimistic, sometimes annoyingly so.

Ha! Optimism is good. What kind of music do you listen to? Do you have an all-time favourite song?

I tend to veer toward the alternative when it comes to music. I’m a huge fan of The Smiths, The Cure, Joy Division, Patti Smith and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. My favourite song is Leonard Cohen’s Famous Blue Raincoat. I love music that can draw emotion from me and hold me captive.

I love Leonard Cohen and that’s a beautiful song. Are you a morning person or a burner of midnight oil?

I’m naturally a morning person, I wake up in a good mood most days at 6am for work. I write in the evening during the week and in morning time at the weekend. I’m most productive in the morning.

So, when did you start writing?

As a young teen, in an effort to cope with the emotional turmoil I felt surrounding my adoption. God-awful angst-ridden stuff. When I was seventeen, I won a national poetry competition in Ireland and realised that I may just be good at something. Since then, I have written at various times in my life. After completing a creative writing course a few years ago, I challenged myself to publish a full novel by the time I turned 40 and succeeded. I’m happily publishing my fourth in a few weeks. I write because I want to write. It’s as simple or as complex as that.

Me too. Where do you get your ideas from, Michelle?

My ideas come out from a phrase I’ve overheard, or an idea that comes into my head as a half formed thing and manifests over time. I like situations that throw people together in unusual circumstances.

How did you come to write your genre?

I read a load of nonfiction, mainly books on history, art or feminism. To unwind I like to read romance, often Mills and Boon, always conflict and always a happily ever after. I write what I like to read, easy reading, warm, fuzzy and sometimes cheesy romantic encounters.

Sounds perfect for unwinding. What’s your favourite part of writing?

My favourite part of writing is the initial idea. I get great pleasure in running the story roughly in my head. I love finding new ideas in everyday things, random conversations, and wondering how it would play out in real life. I also love the meet-cute. How the couple meet is hugely important to me. That initial few minutes of interaction when they feel things they haven’t felt before. That first flush of excitement when a potential new lover comes into the equation.

Ah, the tingle moment! How do you handle writer’s block?

I panic, overeat and fall into a complete slump. I tend to procrastinate until the last minute and cram write. The same way I handled exams in school. I was a last minute crammer.

Snap! Do you write longhand first, or does it go straight onto the computer?

Both. I scribble during the day in work, when time allows. I find longhand great for writing down as many ideas as possible. They only drawback is my handwriting is appalling.

What are you working on now? Would you like to share anything about it?

I’m currently working on a new series called, The Gods of Wrath Security Agency. It’s a series of seven books set in Boston, following a team of Navy SEALs who have become civilians and take over the workings of an agency. Each is a stand-alone, although better read in order as a series. All are contemporary romance with a HEA and involve sexy Alphas and the women who tame them.

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They sound great. Tell us about the first book in the series! 

Navy SEAL will be released on December 1st. Odin Byrne believes in two things, the SEAL code of honour and the ability of his Team. When he loses one of his brothers-in-arms, he loses a part of himself. Starting afresh with his Team and back home in Boston, Odin has only one focus, his uncle Declan’s security and detective agency, ‘The Gods of Wrath.’ A new team member is the last thing Odin wants, especially an ex-con who is hot as hell and mouthy to boot. Fighting for control of his agency, his heart, and his damn hormones, isn’t easy. When a new case threatens those closest to him, Odin must work with his adversary to bring a murderer to justice. Simple, apart from the memory of his lips on hers, and that one hot night. Jasmine McCarthy is starting a new life in Boston. After three years in an Irish prison for a crime committed by her ex-husband, she craves a new start, a new chance. When her friend Declan Byrne gifts her a part of his agency, Jasmine see it as her duty to join the team and follow his wishes, regardless of the opinion of her formidable new boss, Odin Byrne. The pig-head arrogant Ex-SEAL would be a lot easier to ignore, if she hadn’t already had a taste. Jasmine and Odin want nothing more than to stay the hell away from each other, if only chemistry and fate would play ball…

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Wow, Michelle. I can’t wait to read it. Readers, you can follow Michelle on Twitter @michellesinhell. She’s is very active on her Facebook Page and you can visit her website.