Don’t be a stranger








Next weekend, I’m doing something new and different for me: I’m going to the UK GLBT fiction meet in Bristol.

I’ve been to conferences before, but not writing-related conferences. And not, crucially, as me, only than as a representative of someone or something else.

Never, never with the expectation (or at least, hope) of enjoying myself.

I’m going to this conference as an author, but I’m going as a reader too. There are some writers I really adore going: Jordan Castillo Price, Harper Fox, K J Charles, J L Merrow – loads of others too. People I just want to say ‘thanks’ too. And ‘how did you get that idea?’ And quiz them about their process.

I also want to talk to readers, as fellow readers. I want to talk about the stuff I like to read and what drives me insane and what just *gets* me right in the gut. Why I read what I read. The compulsion of it, and the pleasure. The ‘money shots’ of romance and why they are powerful. The best reading moments I’ve experienced. What reading means to me. Actually, more than anything, I think it’s this that I look forward to.

I’ve been experiencing that back and forth through the online romance community for the last 7 or 8 years. More than anything else, it was that that got me (and kept me) writing, so to have these conversations face to face will be the greatest of all treats.

I’ve never met any of the other attendees of this conference in real life and that’s a wee bit daunting but I’m packing two pairs of big girl pants to be safe. Two pairs of big girl pants and 150 swag bag thingys and a handful (literally an handful) of copies of Provoked in print.

I’ll see you there, maybe.

Don’t be a stranger, ok?


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I Reader, werewolf edition


I have a weakness for werewolves stories.

I’ve read lots of non-wolf shifter stories too, but while I’ve enjoyed some of them, none of them work as well for me as a good old fashioned lycan.

Unfortunately, I can count on probably two (maybe three) hands the number of werewolf books I’ve actually really liked and I’ve read loads that have been unsatisfying. Why do I keep doing this to myself? I suppose I’m hunting for that elusive ‘something’ that’s really got me in the books I’ve loved.

And what is that something? i think it’s something about wildness, otherness. It can take different forms – a compelling portrayal of animal nature, a genuine strangeness or ‘off’ feeling – but something that shifts (yeah!) my perception of the world and/or characters I’m reading about. I hate hate hate reading characters who are regular folks who happen to shift. What’s the point?

There’s something, too, for me in the world building. I’m not keen on books set in werewolf communities that read like small town romances, with werewolf couples double dating and having community parties or generally being pillars of some werewolf community. To be honest, I’m not even very keen on ones that are all full of laws and customs and stuff. Not big on sonorous explanations of rituals by ‘healers’ or shamans whatever. And too much alpha beta gamma delta exposition makes me sigh.

At which point you are probably thinking: THIS is someone who claims to like werewolf romance? Seriously?

Yes. I am perfectly serious.

I like fucked up wolves. I like characters who are falling apart at the seams because they can’t cope with their recent transformation or because werewolf life is so hard or because they’re forced into a situation that is somehow untenable for them. I want to believe that this is a person character whose actual body has broken apart and re-formed in a new shape. I want to see their two sides, two forms, two natures. I want it to be hard and messy and painful and glorious and joyful and compelling.

So, in this regard, I like:

- the animal savagery and unswervingness of Clay in Bitten by Kelley Armstrong;

- the brutality and short life expectancy of werewolf society in Mathilde Madden’s Silver Werewolves trilogy; and most recently…

- the anxiety and danger and fear that surrounds the transformation of Axton in Winter Wolf and City Werewolf by S P Wayne

These last – the Wayne books – these I have greatly enjoyed, despite a fair bit of POV weirdness and quite a few typos in book 1 (happily largely cleared up by book 2). Plus I liked these books for lots of other reasons than the werewolf aspects – the richly drawn characters, the dialogue, the … the patience of the relationship development.

But this most of all: Axton, an anxious canine, circling, too stressed to change, barking at nothing.


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A winner, and a thank you (I’m talking to you, Susan Lee!)








Congratulations, Liv Rancourt, winner of the blog tour prize of all 3 books in the Enlightenment trilogy and a $10 ARe gift certificate, courtesy of the wonderful, supportive and all round fantastic Susan Lee of Boys In Our Books.

Thank you, Susan! Your support and enthusiasm for this series has been amazing and infectious. I am so glad to have gotten to know you over these last months – looking forward to meeting you soon. You are an awesome force for good in the world!

Joanna x

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I’m talking about David and Murdo’s journey…

Over at Joyfully Jay’s today. Pop over for a chance to win all three books and a gift voucher!

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May 10, 2014 · 7:56 pm

Enlightened is finally out! Today!

So exciting…


You can buy it at:


Barnes & Noble



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Stop 2 on the Enlightened mini tour…

Lovely lovely review from Laura at The Tipsy Bibliophile and a fab looking recipe for buckwheat, blueberry and maple scones (which I know for a fact David and Murdo would greatly enjoy for breakfast).

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Stop 1 on my compact and bijou Enlightened blog tour


Heavens to Betsy! Is it 4th May already?

The third and final book, Enlightened, in my Enlightenment trilogy releases on Tuesday 6th May!

The luvverly Susan Lee has organised a small but perfectly formed blog tour to mark the occasion and the first stop is The Blogger Girls, where you can:

- read a lovely review by Heather C;

- read my take on Scottish romanceand

- be entered to win all 3 books and a gift card!

So many good things!


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It’s all about me, babe (or, Revelation of Self)

I’ve been pondering a lot lately what it is I write about. This is intimately related to what I like to read about, given that part of my reason for writing is to create something that Reader-Me craves.

I’ve realised that my major abiding obsession is about the revelation of self.

When I first started thinking about this question, I initially decided that my books were all about discovery of self – essentially, “Who am I?”. But whilst that is certainly true of the characters in my latest three books, the Enlightenment trilogy, it is not true of my first two books, in which I wrote about women whose true selves were concealed. These were not characters who didn’t know themselves, but rather characters who struggled with revealing themselves.

I’m not suggesting at all that all romance is about revelation of self, but for me, this is something I crave and greatly love. This theme speaks to me so very deeply – it is, for me, a golden thing and when I think of many of my favourite romances I see it there: from Pride & Prejudice to this year’s Dabwaha winner, Captive Prince.

Which brings me to the purpose of this post, namely, the beautiful film I watched last night, Romeos. This gorgeous German movie, directed by Sabine Bernardi, is the story of Lukas, a young pre-op female-to-male transexual and his struggle to find a place for himself in the world. Within the wider story is a romance between Lukas (who is not only transsexual, but gay, two things that he angrily tells his best friend are “completely separate”) and a physically beautiful man called Fabio.

The movie is very sparse on dialogue but the acting is powerful. Rick Okon is wonderful as Lukas. His depiction of Lukas’ feelings through facial expression and body language is beautifully observed and heart wrenching.

There were many many rich and wonderful things about this movie but I’m going to restrict my comments to this stuff about revelation of self and how that was explored.

Lukas is a man in a transitioning body. He has female sexual organs but thanks to the drugs he’s been taking, he looks male. His sense of his own masculinity is both robust and fragile and this is shown beautifully in his angry insistence on being treated like a male, his heartbreaking loathing of his female body and in a number of scenes in which other characters’ actions and reactions make him feel bad or humiliated or less than in some way. That none of these scenes feature violence or anything egregiously traumatic is a testament to the power of the acting and storytelling because these scenes just wrenched at me. And this was merely the ordinary, everyday stuff of life: people teasing each other, showing prurient curiosity, showing disapproval and barely concealed disgust.

I’ve been thinking about trans people a fair bit recently – for various reasons – and this film came along at an apt time for me. I can’t tell you how much it moved me – beyond anything. It took me somewhere I’d tried to imagine and made it vividly real to me.

Art is the greatest teacher because it can make us understand things beyond our experience. Because it shows rather than tells. If you’re willing to open yourself up to it, you can live another life in a small way, for a little time.

It can change you, and I love that.

Whilst Lukas is the main focus of the film, he is not its only subject. Fabio also has a hidden self that is slowly revealed. I adored the way the film both contrasted and aligned Lukas and Fabio. They are both men, attracted to one another, wanting the same thing. But whilst Lukas is gauche and lacking in confidence, Fabio is all unselfconscious beauty, male arrogance, sexual confidence. Early on, he is dismissed (by a seemingly more sensitive character) as a man slut who is only good for one thing. But it is Fabio – brash and thoughtless as he is at times – who comes to ultimately see, and love, Lukas’s true self in one of the most beautiful love scenes I think I’ve ever seen on film. One of the reasons this love scene is so good is that it follows a prior sex scene between Lukas and another gay man. Whilst that character is willing to have sex with Lukas despite his female body, his ‘acceptance’ takes the form of mingled shock, amusement and a sort of prurient arousal over Lukas’s exoticism. In other words, this not acceptance at all.

I didn’t think about this character’s reaction in anything like that detail when I was actually watching that scene. It only occurred to me later, after the subsequent love scene in which Fabio and Lukas come together. They do so, not as a man and a man, or as a man and a woman – how they should be classified, scientifically or otherwise, just doesn’t come into it. They come together as themselves, as Fabio and Lukas. What you see, in that final scene, is very lovely. Revelation and discovery. Deeply personal and individual.

It’s difficult to find a scene on You Tube that gives a good sense of the film. The scene I’ve embedded here is an odd dreamlike sequence from the middle of the film – but it is thematically representative. The blue lighting, and choice of song, are very deliberate. There is a running metaphor of a watery voyage of discovery – dangerous and elemental – to a new land, a rebirth, that runs through the film. The drag queen in this scene is a sort of kindly siren. Beckoning Lukas, acknowledging how hard the journey is. Telling him it’s worth the fight.



May 1, 2014 · 8:49 pm

More vote begging and racking my brains for a bribe!


I didn’t realise round 2 was starting so soon! Yes, it’s DABWAHA time again, and I’m at my in-laws for the weekend and trying to blog-beg via a tiny phone keyboard that is NOT CO-OPERATING with me!  Argh

The bad news is that Provoked is up against the AWESOME Captive Prince, so I’ll be getting that early bath now… The good news is that Provoked is up against the AWESOME Captive Prince, so I don’t have to feel too bad about it!

Also, C S Pacat is shaming me with awesome social media savvy into at least trying to come up with another bribe. So here goes:

I was reading in someone’s review of Beguiled recently (book 2) that they wondered what Murdo had gotten up to during his two years in London away from David. And there have also been a few wishes expressed for Murdo’s POV.

So, if I get through this round of Dabwaha, I WILL write short story in Murdo’s POV during the two year break AND it will feature the dashing Captain from Beguiled along.

Now, if you would be so kind as to vote?


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DABWAHA (and shameless vote-begging) begins!!


Voting begins in Dabwaha tomorrow!! It is very exciting. Provoked is up against against Broken Trails by D Jordan Redhawk (which sounds scarily awesome and has great reviews – I am adding it to the TBR pile which I should not really admit to…)

I have been somewhat lacking in my Dabwaha efforts this week (thanks to RL pressures) but I DID make a commitment on Facebook to making another bit of wondrous pastichery** happen if I have… well, ANY success with any of the rounds.

** see here and here - except this time round, I’m thinking about exploring other romance genres…

So, vote for me!

And while you’re there, why not vote for K J Charles, whose Magpie Lord is bloody brilliant?

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