Thursday, 31 July 2014

A character interview with Nick Reynolds from THE BLOG AFFAIR

How did you first meet your writer?

We had a rocky first meeting in that she created me as the villain for her first chick lit novel, SEND AND RECEIVE. She and has redeemed me somewhat in her second novel. Our first meeting was a little uncomfortable, to put it lightly.

Did you ever think that your life would end up being in a book?

No, I didn’t… It’s kind of ironic as I am a writer myself. I didn’t ever expect to end up being in a novel as I’m the one usually writing them.

Do you like the way the book ended?

The book ending was very rewarding from my point of view!

What is your least favorite characteristic your writer has attributed to you?

She painted me as something of a bad boy at first… but I think I won her around in the end.

What do you do for a living?

I’m a war correspondent/journalist and I also write mystery novels under the pseudonym Victor Veritate.

Did you have a pet as a child? What happened to it? How did you feel about that?

I had a dog called Mischief as a child. The hardest thing about having pets is that you tend to outlive them. It was one of the saddest days of my childhood when my dog died of biliary.

What do you think is your strongest attribute?

I have a very strong work ethic and manage to juggle two careers. But often your strongest attribute is also your weakest attribute. There’s a fine line between working hard and workaholism, and I don’t always get the balance right.

What is something no one knows about you? Why do you keep it a secret?

I write my novels under a pseudonym as essentially I’m a very private person. I tend to avoid the public spotlight.

At your book signings, you generally dress up in some sort of disguise. You’ve appeared as an eighteenth century Lord, a masked highwayman, and as The Scarlet Pimpernel. Are you a naturally flamboyant person?

When I’m dressed up in some sort of costume, I tend to take on the characteristics of the part I’m playing. I like acting and I’ve studied Speech and Drama. But, as you might know, many actors are actually quite shy; it’s only when they are taking on a role that they become animated. I’m an introvert, but I’m also able to step out of myself and into a certain role—especially if it helps promote my novels. I almost see it as my author persona stepping out ahead of me, and I’m following behind watching, as odd as that might sound…. For a number of years I refused to do any book signings, and I know my fans missed the opportunity to interact with me on some level. When I came up with the idea of appearing in costume at book signings, I decided to do it properly. I’m pretty much an all or nothing person.

The main character of your novels, Jared, has become almost a legend in South African literary circles. He has been called “The African James Bond,” and “Africana Jones.” Do you identify with Jared? Are you like him in any way?

Jared would never dress up in a costume of any kind, so we are not alike in that way. Jared is also the quintessential man’s man, and can be a bit hard-headed sometimes, while I’m more open to persuasion. But the biggest difference between us is that Jared is completely sure of himself and doesn’t regret his actions, while I look back on my life and some of the decisions I’ve made, and wish I’d done things differently. However, there are some similarities between us as well. Jared is pretty daring, and I embrace danger and difficulties in the same reckless manner he does.

In your latest novel, Jared rescues a lady in distress, and it seems he has finally found true love. However, you left this up in the air. Will their romance continue into your next book?

It might well—but you’ll have to read to see. I don’t want to give too much about Jared’s love life away at this point.

If you won’t speak about Jared’s love life, perhaps you won’t mind talking to us about your own?

I’m even more cagey about my love life than I am about Jared’s! What I will say, though, is that during the last few years I’ve had a pretty rough road romantically. I’ve travelled a lot and that causes problems.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

I’ve always wanted to write—ever since I learnt the alphabet. I particularly enjoy the process of writing a novel. From the glimmerings of a story idea, to plotting the outline, to creating interesting characters, to those moments of pure inspiration that can’t really be understood or explained.

So where do you get your inspiration?

Oddly, from writing. There’s an expression “With eating comes appetite,” and in the same way I sincerely believe “With writing comes inspiration….” However, it’s a fascinating process in a lot of ways, and I don’t like to analyse it too much.

Buy THe BLOG AFFAIR from Amazon.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Review of THE BLOG AFFAIR from Goodreads

"Chick-lit great! The Blog Affair is witty, intelligent, funny, sweet, deep, real and honest. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the heroine, Emma Bradshaw grow from aloof and unlucky-in-love to making a genuine authentic discovery of who she really is. 

She starts writing a blog which is psychologically in depth and contemporary-clever too about the kind of men women out there date. And of course her learning curve is prompted by a sexy secret male commenter to her blog called Sugar Water Man who challenges her at every turn and forces to her look within herself.

The supporting characters, her roommates and friends each have their own uniqueness - Andre was adorable - and added beautifully to the over-all tone of the story. Set in South Africa, Cape Town, the setting had a life of its own. A fun, well-written read about a woman's journey to finding who she really is and ultimately finding love by an author I will definitely want to read again and again."

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Online Dating and Pop Culture - Ubuntu Line Blog Hop

I'm next up on the Ubuntu Line Blog Hop and today I will be discussing online dating and its relevance in pop culture. Remember you can win a $30 Amazon gift card as well as a bundle of books if you enter our Rafflecopter (see below).

A decade or so ago, online dating in South Africa still had something of a stigma attached to it. Relationships created with the click of a mouse were considered slightly strange and if you did happen to form a relationship with someone you met on a dating site, it wasn’t something you would readily admit to. Fast forward ten years, and online dating has become part of pop culture and it is one of the main avenues single people in their twenties and thirties use to meet one another.

Something that was once the exception has now become the norm. But what exactly is this new norm? How has online dating affected our view of potential partners and the way in which we form relationships?

Online dating has a number of positive elements. It can be reassuring to form a connection with someone on an emotional and mental level before having to meet them in person. Also, as most online dating sites have compatibility questionnaires that all members are requested to fill out, you can tell at a glance that the cute guy with the GSOH (good sense of humour) and the baby blue eyes might be a great potential partner for you. It’s an easy way of sorting the wheat from the chaff (or in this case the chavs).

It’s also nice that you don’t need to go out on the town in order to meet the boyfriend or girlfriend of your dreams. You can get to know someone in the comfort of your living room, while sitting in your PJs. What’s not to like?

However, online dating, I fear, has taken the “grass is greener” syndrome , and added an extra layer of AstroTurf. In fact turfing your current partner out in favour of the mysterious unknown is something which is almost impossible to resist if you’re a committed online dater. When you belong to an online dating site, it isn’t easy to forget that your Prince or Princess Charming could be just around the corner. You may meet someone who has 98% of the qualities you are looking for in a potential mate, but when you are surrounded by an abundance of potential dating prospects, you may well find it difficult to relinquish the idea that you could meet your 100% perfect partner right after you commit to a relationship with Mr or Ms 98%.

This nagging thought, I believe, has contributed to certain people becoming serial online daters. It is easier to commit to online dating than it is to commit to someone from an online dating site. And our throwaway society simply compounds the problem. Are there plenty of fish in the sea or are we simply overfishing the ocean?

In my novel, The Blog Affair, my main character, Emma, writes a blog about “serial datists” and why they should be avoided. Read on to find out what she has to say…

Serial Datism

The first time I ever met a serial datist, I was nineteen years old. At that age, I wasn’t capable of recognising the warning signs of this particular species of the human male. Needless to say, I got burned. Badly.

Serial datism is a concept I’ve been pondering recently. And it’s something I hope to examine in this blog. Any comments from readers are welcome, therefore, as I attempt to shed light on a variety of the dating male that has me completely bemused.

The best way to do this, I’ve decided, is to debate in an open forum—where I, and any other participants in the discussion, can flick on the switch, in a manner of speaking, and illuminate the matter.

 I attract serial datists, and so it is perfectly fitting that I should introduce this topic into cyber space. But this doesn’t mean I’m an expert at identifying them. You see, the tricky thing about serial datists is that they aren’t easily defined.

They come in many shapes and sizes and forms, and they may even mutate! They can start off in one form and end up in quite another shape and size within a small space of time. And therein lies their danger.

 Okay—to introduce myself. I’m Penelope (well, that’s one of my names) and this blog is called Penelope’s Pantry, because like Penelope from ancient Greek mythology, I’ve had loads of suitors in my life.

And the pantry part? Well, a pantry is a dark storeroom, and this is where I hope to stockpile my thoughts and feelings and emotions. On neatly stacked shelves, of course. I’m a fanatically neat person, and like things to be tidy.

So let’s start at the very beginning (my ordered mind demands this) with a definition of a serial datist: He is a male who, like a bee, goes from one woman to the next, landing on each female blossom for a short period of time. When he leaves, he stings them.

But unfortunately, unlike a bee, a serial datist doesn’t die after he stings. He goes on to sting again and again, and the only way to kill him is to swat him, or stomp on him with your heel. Or leave out a bowl of sugared water in which he can drown. But, on second thoughts, I think the latter technique is for ants....

Be that as it may, before anyone starts wondering whether I’m a convicted killer, I hasten to assure you I am not. I’ve certainly felt a strong desire to stomp on the various bees that have entered my life, but fortunately for these creatures, the thought of killing causes me to break out in hives. Therefore, it is only a fantasy I have indulged in from time to time.

Now that we’ve cleared up the fact that I’m not a murderer, I would like to point out that the bee who delivers his nasty stings is the real killer in the scenario. Why? Well, it’s obvious. He kills your feelings, and leaves your emotions bleeding to death. Some more pedantic readers out there might point out that bee stings don’t cause you to bleed. So what—I’m using it in a figurative sense.

But, and here I’m not being figurative at all, bees can make you swell up. Besides the fact that their stings can cause you to comfort-eat, it is possible to develop a life-threatening allergy to them. And I’m afraid that’s what’s happened to me. I am allergic to serial datists AKA bees AKA Emotionally Unavailable Men.

But I’m jumping ahead of myself. That is simply one of the categories of serial datists. According to my calculations, there are at least four others.

Allow me to list them:
1) The afore-mentioned Emotionally Unavailable Male
2) The Wannabe Player
3) The Commitment-Phobe
4) The Bad Boy
5) The Misogynist (before he finds a woman to control)

I will be examining each category in more detail later. But in the meantime—any comments from readers on what I’ve already expounded are most welcome.

Posted by Penelope on Tuesday, July 8 at 08:32 p.m

It’ll be interesting to see how online dating evolves in the future. With the rapid advancement of all sorts of technologies, the way people interact with each other is changing at an amazing pace. Who knows? Perhaps our grandkids will laugh at how their old-fashioned grandparents used to date online. Because, although online dating may well be part of today’s pop culture, the very nature of pop culture is that it is ever changing.

Enter our giveaway to win these great prizes:

Grand Prize
$30 Amazon Gift Card
The Dashing Debutante Print Book by Alissa Baxter
Love Through Time E-book by Nana Prah
Wedding Gown Girl E-book by Kathy Bosman

Book Bundle 1
Lord Fenmore’s Wager Print Book by Alissa Baxter
A Touch of Winter Anthology E-book by Nana Prah
A Valentine Challenge E-book by Kiru Taye

Book Bundle 2
Send and Receive Print Book by Alissa Baxter
Three Tiers for Win E-book by Kathy Bosman
An Engagement Challenge E-book by Kiru Taye

Book Bundle 3
The up-till-now releases in the “Eternelles” Series by Zee Monodee
Adrasteia E-book
Seraphine E-book
Inescapable E-book
Indomitable E-book

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Stop by Kathy Bosman's blog tomorrow where she will conclude the Ubuntu blog tour and give you a final opportunity to enter our Rafflecopter giveaway! A big thank you to Kathy for arranging this Blog Hop. It's been great :-)


8 April - Kathy Bosman
9 April - Zee Monodee - Author's Corner
10 April - Nana Prah - Writing Romance and Loving Life
11 April - Inge Saunders - Inside These Lines
14 April - Kiru Taye Writes
15 April - Alissa Baxter
16 April - Kathy Bosman

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Great reviews for THE BLOG AFFAIR

I'm happy to say that I've received some wonderful reviews for THE BLOG AFFAIR:

Eclectic Reader on Amazon - 5 STARS

"Alissa Baxter has done a wonderful job of depicting modern life for young professionals in South Africa, including the ups and downs of jobs and living arrangements and awkward "digsmates." (Roommates.) At the same time, her protagonist, Emma, is shown growing and changing and developing deeper insights into her issues as she blogs her emotions and jaded opinions of dating into an anonymous blog. By the end, she has a much clearer, less black and white view of romantic relationships, and the courage to risk her heart. Baxter's psychology is intelligent and compassionate--and as applicable anywhere in the world as it is in Cape Town. I look forward to her next book!"

Desere Steenberg - 4.5 STARS

"We all have different ways of venting our anger and frustration of life, the most powerful way being to get your words out into the open. This is what the heroine Emma does, she starts a blog and blabs away about "serial datists"and just how unsuitable they are, but she comes up short when her views are challenged by the comments of a man who in her opinion has no clue what he is talking about.

But his comments also get her to thinking maybe it is time she faces her past and goes on a journey of self discovery before she is lost to the world forever. Her journey includes a new job, but working for sexier than lace and satin romance author Nick proves rather difficult. The man seems dead set on breaking down her defenses and no matter how hard she tries it seems he's succeeding, which will all be okay if he was not the exact type of "serial datist" she so desperately needs to avoid. I really liked this read. It was fun , upbeat and witty! I laughed so hard at times at some of the lines the author lets the characters come up with that I found it hard to stop the laughter, even though it was more of chuckle than a full out laugh lines, it was the way the author brought them across that really made it stand out.

I loved the idea of a blog being used for someone to vent their anger, usually it is a letter, text message or anger social message that most people of today use, so the idea of a blog was really cool. I have seen it done before in one other read and to find it in this read again made it stand out as a really interesting way of approaching life's troubles. As we all know the best way to get over something is to talk it out, so of course we go running to our best friends but when we don't have any or even if we feel that our issues are not up for discussion with our closets of pals, they might think you nuts, but talking to strangers seems a good idea as they don't know you and thus they can look at the rant you are having with a different prospective. And the author using a blog as the go to place to rant and rave was great.

The characters of Emma and Nick were both well written and their emotions were well depicted throughout the read, but the main focus was of course on Emma . Nick was really neat in his manner of not backing down from letting Emma crumble and it was fun to see her fall. I'm taking away a message of not all men are what you think they are, sometimes you need to be thrown around a bit in order to be molded to the type of woman any man will want, and when the right one comes along you will be thankful for the lessons you learned from the past relationships.

The author also brought South African into vivid splendor in this read with stunning backdrop setting descriptions. I recommend this read for anyone looking for a different look at the romance world and what happens when you put your words out there for the world to see.

"One of the sexiest cyber affairs ever is about to change her life."

Amazon US
Amazon UK



Friday, 31 January 2014

Lessons from Cinderella

People often talk about “a Cinderella story” where someone triumphs after a period of obscurity and hardship. In romances, this theme is often played out when the “damsel in distress” is rescued from drudgery and oppression by the handsome hero.

This popular theme in novels can give the impression that women need rescuing all the time from dire situations. Although a spot of rescuing here and there (where the hero of the novel sweeps onto the scene and snatches the heroine from the clutches of the nasty villain) can spice up the plot of a romance novel, I do have a problem with heroines who are spineless and lack spunk.

If we look at the story of Cinderella more closely, she is no shrinking violet. In fact her behaviour indicates quite the opposite:

1) She lives in the moment, and while she is at the ball, she enjoys it, putting out of her mind the worries at home.

2) When she dances with the prince, she smiles radiantly at him, and then brings out his pursuing masculine side by disappearing, leaving a trail of mystery in her wake.

3) She does not chase after the prince like everyone else in the kingdom. In fact, she runs away from him, and the prince is so bewitched that he searches high and low for her until he finds her.

4) She does not try and get a job in the palace… instead she goes back home to her nasty stepmother and ugly stepsisters and continues working there, without expecting the prince to rescue her.

So for me, a true “Cinderella story” should be about a heroine who isn’t waiting to be rescued. She should be making the most of her lot in life, and her positive attitude should be the thing that attracts a good man into her life – with or without the assistance of a fairy godmother.