Saturday, 26 January 2013

Victorian Theatres

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Hi everyone,

As some of you may know, I love to write stories which are set during the Middle Ages. However for my latest tale I’m trying something a little different. I’ve jumped eras and landed in Victorian London. My story is set in a theatre and the research has been more than interesting. So I thought I would share some of it with you.

During the Victorian period there was a growing demand for the theatre in both the masses and the aristocracy. Improvements in transportation, in particular the rail and omnibus services contributed to the rise in popularity of the theatre.

Between 1860 and 1880, major remodelling was carried out on several of the existing theatres, including The Globe, and many new theatres were constructed.

By 1899 London had 61 theatres – 38 in the West End and 23 in the nearby suburban districts.

So why am I writing about a theatre? I suppose it stems from my childhood. My mother was  a dancer and some of my earliest memories are of The Princess Theatre in Melbourne (Australia). It was built in 1886 and is a beautiful example of a Victorian period theatre. As a child I remember backstage being like a rabbit warren; it was cool, dark, scary and magical at the same time. The decorations were beautiful and sumptuous and it felt as if I had entered an enchanted world. These images have always been in the back of my mind, so I’ve taken them and woven a tale. Here's a picture of  The Princess Theatre - Melbourne.

It’s 1884 and my story is set in the slightly shabby Imperial Theatre. It is about a ballerina, Lisette Devoré and the three men who influence her life.

A Victorian ballerina yearns for freedom, security and love. Three men offer her aspects of what she desires, but only one holds her heart. Lord Evander Gainswith has a colourful past – he has never fallen in love before. He wants a mistress. However, just like in the ballet, Lisette wants a fairytale ending – she wants marriage. But the sinister Lord De Vale, who is confidante and paramour to Lisette’s Aunt and guardian, covets her. To survive Lisette discovers she needs more than a lover – she may need a saviour.


As always, thanks for your kind wishes and support.


Images -
istock xchng
Public Domain


Friday, 18 January 2013

Spotlight - Shelley Martin

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Hello everyone,

Today I’m chatting with the lovely Shelley Martin. Shelley writes in the Young Adult and New Adult genres. She is a fellow Pink Petal author and her books include Wingless and Gargoyle.

Welcome Shelley and thanks so much for dropping by for a chat  J

Hi Nicole! I’m so excited to be here. Thanks for letting me stop by!

What type of romance do you write?

I love all romance, but paranormal romance is my love. I can’t seem to write anything without a sexy man with wings or horns or fangs. Most of my work safely falls into the Young Adult category or crossover/New Adult audiences.

How did you come up with the idea for your current story?

Surprisingly, I get much of my inspiration from writing contests. I belong to several writing groups and when a challenge is set I like to join in. But I’ve found if my stories don’t have at least one paranormal creature then I just can’t get excited about it.

What comes first, the plot or characters?

Plot usually comes to me first, then the characters just unfold as situations challenge them. Once I get a feel for them I write out a template to get an idea of their goals and strengths better.

Are you working on anything at the moment?

I am working on a wonderful series of shorts called the Shadow Fan series. It follows the mountain spirit Yoshino. Her favourite priest sees into the future and says she will fall in love with a human in around 500 years. Yoshino laughs off the prophecy. She sees humans as weak, and love a dangerous emotion. She creates the shadow fan, a silk fan imbued with her power, in an attempt to protect her powerful line of priests, dreading the day the prophecy might be proved true.

That’s sounds really intriguing – I can’t wait to read it J

What has influenced your writing?

Fairy tales, legends and Greek myths influenced my writing as I grew. Today I often take little bit of world building I learned from those early stories and use them as a cornerstone in my worlds.   

How do you come up with the titles to your books?

I think of the general idea of the book and test several variations of the words until they sound unique or enticing. For the Gargoyle Island series I decided to go the path of one word titles, so that simplified matters quite a bit!

What is a talent you wish you had, but don't?

I’d love to be a dancer! I love all kinds of dancing reality shows. And I love music, but I have no balance or flexibility…

Are you a sweet tooth?

My favourite thing to gorge on is a warm gooey brownie topped with vanilla ice cream, drizzled with hot fudge. Yeah, now I’m hungry…

Sounds yummy. Now I’m hungry too!


Dreams and aspirations... what’s the one thing you want to do, see or experience above all else?

Oh, I like this question! I want to travel. I want to walk through European castles, and see the cherry blossoms in Japan, hang glide in Australia, I could go on and on. But I still have three young kids at home, so travel is difficult for a while.


Thanks Shelley and I hope to see you in Australia one day... although I'll wait on the ground until you've finished hang gliding.

Here’s the blurb and a snippet from Shelley’s Gargoyle... Enjoy.

Nicóle  xx


Elizabeta's secrets will kill her, but the devotion of a gargoyle can save her.

In 1891, seventeen year old Elizabeta Riemma pulls the clothes from her dead twin's body and assumes his identity. To avoid her murderous uncle, she attends her brother’s school on Marettimo island, which is forbidden to women. Elizabeta takes solace in sculpting and one night, she awakens her gargoyle.


Gorgeous and fiercely loyal, Aelius uses his abilities to aid Elizabeta in keeping her secret. He only asks one thing in return- a kiss. As Elizabeta learns confidence from her creation, suspicions rise and the island’s bloody history threaten to bury them.    


Elizabeta must hide her gender. Aelius must hide his existence.  But both of them dream of the impossible- to be together. 



The only male figure I’d ever created filled me with pride.

“Now, what to call you?” The full moonlight glinted off his flawless face. “Something ancient, Roman maybe.” I used the damp rag to wipe the dust from his jaw. “Aelius... What do you think?” His gentle features looked down at me, accepting and understanding. I ran my thumb over his full lower lip. I had secretly studied many lips of the young men at this school to be able to create the perfect mouth. The mouth I would most like to kiss.

But I would never get to kiss lips like those, since I was pretending to be a boy.

I dared to pull myself up another few centimeters. No one lingered below. The hour was well past curfew. My breath reflected off his marble face as I turned my head ever so slightly to the side.  He was only a statue, and therefore I knew his lips would be cold and unyielding. But I was mistaken...

I discovered warm, soft lips when I pressed mine to his. 

Then they gave a bit.

And then they kissed back.

The impossible yanked me back in surprise. The thought I had lost my mind was swallowed by fear as I lost my balance.  Gravity pulled me from the ledge.

As I fell backward my eyes locked with his. Dark and full of wonder, they beheld me. I reached out for him as I slipped farther away.  The muscles my hands had carved flexed in motion. Black wings sliced through the air as he lunged forward, his slender fingers grasping for mine. My falling body abruptly came to a stop, muscles pulling as I dangled from the gargoyle’s hand. 

The warm, soft lips I had just kissed smiled. “Are you all right, my master?”

Confusion flooded my mind. A gargoyle was talking to me as I hung several meters away from broken bones or death. Was I crazy? Or sleeping? Perhaps my classmates were playing another prank on me.  Had they dosed my food with laudanum? Either way, I had to get down before anyone saw me.

“Uh... just help me down, please!”

He swiftly pulled me to him and caught me midair. I braced myself as his arms encircled me and drew my body to his chest. I thought I would meet the impact of cold stone. But his expansive chest radiated heat as warm as his lips. Those agile muscles had lost the coldness of marble. My figure came to rest against smooth flesh. His legs were hidden from view by a simple white wrap as he stood us up. His great leather wings unfurled and gracefully moved against the wind, to drop us down onto the balcony.

My trembling hands grasped his shoulders.  As the gargoyle straightened, he looked down at me. His pale arms held together my sanity. Black spices mixed with oak and vanilla filled my senses as I panted against him. The fragrance was heavenly.  Then I realized the tantalizing scent was him.  My rattled senses finally tore me from utopia. Taking pleasure in the arms of a monster was absurd. This could not be happening.


About Shelley-

Shelley Martin taught kindergarten and ran cattle; once upon a time.  She’s now a mother and wife, and loves living in North Idaho.  Her imagination has always plagued her, the characters jumping into her head at some random song or thought.  She started writing when she was ten, finishing her first short story when she was eleven.  The paranormal has always fascinated her, and nothing draws her to the page more than the whisperings of fantastical creatures.  




Friday, 11 January 2013

Spotlight - Jenny Schwartz

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Hi everyone,

Today we have the wonderful Jenny Schwartz dropping by for a visit.
Jenny writes across romance genres; these include contemporary, paranormal and the uber-cool Steampunk. I love Steampunk , especially Jenny's Bustlepunk chronicles. If you haven't checked them out, you should... they're great fun!

Hello Jenny and welcome J


What type of romance do you write?

Sometimes the honest answer to that feels like “absolutely anything”. I write Steampunk and paranormal romance and my most recent release is contemporary romance. Contemporary romance is fun. It’s something that could happen to the person queuing next to you at the supermarket checkout.


What comes first, the plot or characters?

Plot and characters develop together for me. Sometimes one might appear first, but so closely followed by the other that I can’t separate them. They evolve together as I mull over ideas.


What made you want to be a writer?

I’ve always wanted to write. Mum remembers me “writing” before I could read or write. I’d just sit scrawling wavy lines at a little children’s table. Once I learned to read and write, I never stopped doing either.


How do you come up with the titles to your books?

With great difficulty! A good editor (and I’ve been blessed with some of the best) helps enormously. Very occasionally I’m struck with a title idea at the beginning of the writing process and write the story to match it.


How did you come up with the idea for your current story?

Mistaken Engagement came out of the sudden realisation that with the new Australian digital romance publishers, like Escape Publishing, there was an opportunity for stories that matched Australian experiences – like holidays. I was immediately inspired to write a story for Australia Day, a story to celebrate the fun of that summer holiday and the underlying love of family and community.


If you could go anywhere in the world where would it be?

I’ve visited every state and territory in Australia, except for Tasmania. So it’s on my list.


Are you a sweet tooth?

Absolutely, I love chocolate and I have a devastating weakness for cake. This is NOT helped by all the great bakeries that have sprung up around the neighbourhood. I guess you could say I believe in supporting local businesses J

Thanks Jenny for stopping by and all the best with 'Mistaken Engagement' J

Nicóle  xx

Mistaken Engagement

Saul knows he crossed the line when he claimed a surprise engagement with Grace. But her hysterical denial – and the way she's avoided him ever since – has made things awkward, but it can all be worked out. The Australia Day long weekend down at her family’s beach house is the perfect time to show everyone that they’re friends, with not a broken heart between them. But can a fake engagement become life-changingly real?



Grace bounced up from the sofa. Her hands went to her hips. The old yoga pants she wore had slid down. She angrily hitched them up. “You arrogant, manipulative … You didn’t just ask for my schedule, did you? You made sure I had the whole weekend off.”
Infuriatingly, Saul relaxed into a grin, holding his palms up in a gesture of innocent, misunderstood goodwill.
“Ooh.” She picked up a cushion and threw it at him. She’d spent years proving that she was herself, and not Stuart Wharton’s stepdaughter. She’d worked for everything she had. But with Saul throwing his weight around the hospital, they would all look at her differently.
“It’s not so bad, Grace.” He put the cushion aside and stood. “The family wants you at the bay, and you look like you need a holiday. Come and celebrate Australia Day with us. I’ll pick you up at six o’clock tomorrow morning.”
She fumed silently.
“And the two of us will show everyone we’re the best of friends,” he continued remorselessly. “Pack your bathing suit.”
“I won’t go surfing with you.”
“Then you can sit on the beach and admire my style.” A finger tapped her nose.
She nearly went cross-eyed watching it approach and retreat.
He grinned and let himself out of the house.

Mistaken Engagement is available from Harlequin’s new Australian digital imprint, Escape Publishing. It’s a short story (10,000 words), which is an interesting new development.

I hope to see lots more short stories with the growth of digital publishing.


Jenny Schwartz is a West Australian author. Her high school yearbook predicted she’d be a writer – something about always having her nose in a book. When not living up to others’ expectations, she enjoys lazy days in the suburbs and is working on a collection of life-saving recipes, “Simple Meals for Forgetful Cooks”. 

You can catch up with Jenny at her website, on Twitter and Facebook .

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Competition Winners


The winner of the Misrule's Mistress Competition is... Linda!
Linda has won a copy of Misrule's Mistress and a string of pearls.

Dian was the winner of the Riverina Romatics / Misrule's Mistress contest.
Dian has won a pair of earrings and some swag.

Thank you to everyone who entered.

I'm hosting another competition with Coffeetime Romance and More this February. Stay tuned for more details soon!
Thanks so much for stopping by.

Nicóle  x

Misrule's Mistress Competition

Hi everyone,

I just wanted to say thanks to all of you who have dropped by, entered the contest or said just 'hello'. I really appreciate your kind words and support. The Misrule's Mistress Competition is now officially closed. The winner will be randomly selected by the age old 'hat method' (official 'hat' details can be viewed in the earlier post J) Good luck to all of those who entered and I'll announce the winner soon.

  Nicóle  xx
 Misrule’s Mistress is now available from Amazon.