New reviews of THE ‘TRUE LOVE’ SOLUTION, ALOES

Mark at Sinfully Sexy is first out of the gate this time with a release-day review of Julie Bozza’s new title THE ‘TRUE LOVE’ SOLUTION, which he seems really enthusiastic about! After a quick trot through the plot [spoiler alert if you click!], he comes to the following conclusion:

This book has no big angst factor, no biting your nails, no heart breaking break-ups, big tear jerking making up or reunion scenes and no broken characters. It is light on the erotic but thoroughly entertaining as it focuses more on the characters, and what wonderful characters they are too. I was in immersed in this book from the beginning and thanks to Julie’s wonderful writing was introduced to another set of vibrant, lovable characters.

To which we can only say “Yes!”

At the same time we were delighted to see one of our older titles receiving another airing – also on Sinfully Sexy – where reviewer Sally mentioned Chris Quinton’s ALOES in the ‘Quick Bites’ section. This is the whole review:

One of the things I like best about Chris Quinton’s books is that you always get a bit extra. What could have been a fairly routine story of a new romance blossoming in difficult circumstances was made all the more exciting by the inclusion of the neat little paranormal twist brought about by Perry’s injury. There are some super secondary characters too, some of whom cloud the romance issue making it less cut and dried who Perry’s eventual partner will be and the story ends with challenges still to face but that just SUCH a nice change from roses round the gate and a baby on the way that I actually gave a little cheer. Thanks Chris.

I think it would be fair to describe that as ‘small but perfectly-formed’!

Congratulations to both authors – and thank you, too, to both reviewers; we really appreciate you helping to spread the word about our books, and introducing them to a whole new group of friends out there in the big wide world!

Price reductions on old favourites

2016 is going to be a year of changes throughout MANIFOLD PRESS – which we’ll explain in more detail as we go along. However we thought we’d start out gently with permanent price reductions on a handful of our classic titles.

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ALOES by Chris Quinton – now $4.95!

A fluke accident puts Perry in a coma. When he awakes, his scrambled synapses have given him a talent; he can tell truth from lies simply by their flavour. This, plus the new client who is far too attractive for Perry’s peace of mind, the client’s contentious family and the dilapidated old mansion Perry has to restore for him – not to mention anonymous threats which escalate to attempted murder – all ensure that Perry’s life will never be the same again!

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ALWAYS WITH US by Morgan Cheshire – now $5.95!

Liverpool, 1896: Wealthy Harrison Calderwood has never given much thought to the poor of the bustling city until he accidentally runs into firebrand Daniel Harper. Through Daniel’s eyes he begins to see how much more could be done to improve the lot of the working people, and at the same time he begins to feel a very strong attraction towards Daniel himself. However this is the Victorian era, Daniel is believed to be a troublemaker, and Harrison has a position to maintain and a family who are expecting him to marry a well-to-do young woman and settle down to a conventional life …

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HOMOSAPIEN by Julie Bozza – now $4.95

Patrick and David are friends who run a gay bookstore, and life seems simple and safe enough until the day when unexpectedly he walks in – six feet tall, gorgeous and built like a dream. But Homosapien isn’t welcome in their world; he’s a professional wrestler, and everything he does is fake. So he can’t really be gay, can he, or interested in either one of them? Can they even trust a single word he says … ?

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SEA CHANGE by Chris Quinton – now $6.95!

Injured on duty and no longer fit for active service, soon-to-be-ex-Coast Guard Bran Kaulana is drifting, filling his days helping out at the Wai Ola Rescue Center, one of Honolulu’s wildlife charities. He’s working with the new veterinary, Steve, a man drawn to O’ahu by his fascination with dolphins. As their friendship slowly deepens into love, the two men are caught up in the mystery of injured seals and dolphins, a ruthless gang of smugglers and a not-so-dormant undersea lava vent.

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THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH by Julie Bozza – now $4.95!

Joshua Delaney and Carmine Angelo Trezini, cop and mobster, should have absolutely nothing in common; yet, accidentally brought together, they rapidly became both lovers and allies against important crime figure Matthew Picano. Of course, taking down a man like that was never going to be easy – but Josh has no idea of the scale of the sacrifice he will eventually be called upon to make.

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If you missed any of these diverse and fascinating titles earlier in their illustrious careers, this would be a wonderful opportunity of making their acquaintance!

AUTHOR GUEST BLOG NUMBER TWENTY ONE – Chris Quinton

Continuing the series of blog posts in which our authors revisit their previous Manifold Press titles, we asked Chris Quinton to talk to us about the inspiration behind ALOES – and the result was the following fascinating article!

ALOES – by Chris Quinton

ALOESAloes was one of my first books with Manifold Press, released on May 1st, 2010. How did Aloes happen? Well, some years ago, and prior to the birth of Manifold Press, one of my other publishers was in the habit of holding competitions on their private authors-only Yahoo group, and one of the once a month challenges was to write a three hundred word story on a three word prompt. I usually did fairly well on them, and they sometimes triggered an idea for a longer tale. On one particular occasion, the prompt was zinnias, scrapbook, and couch. I think. My memory isn’t all it could be. Anyhow, I wrote three hundred words in the first person, featuring this poor guy who walked in on his boyfriend cheating on him, and, if I remember rightly, I won that month (no prizes, just a pat on the back). However, Perry, the hero of my triple drabble, sort of stayed with me. He hung around in the back of my brain cell, every now and then politely clearing his throat to remind me he was there.

I knew I’d tell his story sooner or later, but expected it to be later rather than sooner. Then I read an article on synaesthesia, and Perry pricked up his ears. And stuck out his elbows. I can take a hint, so I started researching.

Synaesthesia is a fascinating condition, and has many variables. At least ten forms are known, the most common being Chromesthesia where a sound is perceived as a colour, and Grapheme-colour synaesthesia where numbers and each letter of the alphabet are seen as a colour.

Something I found particularly interesting is that a lot of synaesthetes don’t see their condition as an affliction, but a gift that can enhance their lives. Nor is synaesthesia a modern phenomenon. As a mind-boggling coincidence, while I was writing this blog a godsend of an article appeared [thank you, Fiona Pickles] showing that Vincent Van Gogh was almost certainly a synaesthete, specifically under the Chromesthesia heading. In a letter he describes seeing colours as sounds in a matter of fact way that shows he was clearly comfortable with it.

From a letter to his brother Theo [the italics are mine]: “Some time ago you rightly said that every colourist has his own characteristic scale of colours. This is also the case with Black and White (sic), it is the same after all — one must be able to go from the highest light to the deepest shadow, and this with only a few simple ingredients. Some artists have a nervous hand at drawing, which gives their technique something of the sound peculiar to a violin, for instance, Lemud, Daumier, Lançon — others, for example, Gavarni and Bodmer, remind one more of piano playing. Do you feel this too? Millet is perhaps a stately organ.

Okay, so Perry is a synaesthete. But how? He wasn’t born with the condition. The logical possibilities were either an illness that affected the brain, such as meningitis, or a blow to the head. The latter being the more dramatic, that’s the one I chose to run with, especially as I had remembered some books and articles I’d read so many years ago, it isn’t funny. They featured one Peter Hurkos, born 1911, a Dutchman who’d had a severe head wound after a fall from a ladder in 1941, and had a metal plate fitted over the resulting hole in his skull [that last detail is from my memory]. From then on he began to experience psychic phenomenon.

Hurkos had a long career as a professional psychic, specialising as a psychic detective. He moved to the USA in 1958, and by 1969 he claimed he had solved an impressive twenty-seven successful murder cases around the world, including the Boston Strangler serial killer, and the Sharon Tate Murders. Sadly, that resume turned out to be pretty much bogus. But despite the great Randi and others proving Hurkos was a fake, he retained a loyal following for many years. He remained in the USA until his death in 1988, having wrongly predicted the date of his demise…

Perry’s is a version of the more rare lexical-gustatory synaesthesia that I’ve given a paranormal twist. Normally, synaesthetes with that form experience a particular word as a taste or a smell. In Perry’s case, he can taste the intent behind the word, whether it is a lie or a truth, but it isn’t a talent he was born with. In his case, I decided it resulted from a combination of some dodgy out of date medication and a blow to the head that dropped him into a coma.

The human brain is an amazingly complex organ. Head trauma has been known to cause some strange and heartbreaking after-effects for the sufferer’s family and friends, amnesia being the least of it. Personality changes, speech pattern and accent changes, have all been recorded. There have even been cases where the patient has awoken with the ability to speak a foreign language with a fluency they’d never shown previously. Hurkos’ claim to have gained a psychic talent isn’t such a great stretch, and Perry’s new talent is only a few steps farther on.

Perry’s new talent isn’t static. Over the course of the story, it expands from the taste of bitter aloes for the spoken lie or crisp fresh apples for truth, and it has the potential to be a curse as well as a blessing.

Tenth Day winner

Thank you to everyone who entered our draw today; we’re happy to announce that our winner this time is Jennifer, who asked for a copy of Chris Quinton’s book ALOES. We’ve sent it already, Jennifer, and hope it reaches you safely!

Meanwhile, there are still two chances left to win the book of your choice: the Eleventh Day of Christmas draw will be opening immediately.

New review of BUTTERFLY HUNTER / old review of ALOES

Over at ARe Cafe, reviewer Val has this to say about Julie Bozza’s BUTTERFLY HUNTER:

… this novel is still a good read with its hints of physical danger and Dreamtime mysticism. The breathtaking Australian setting feels real. The book’s tone is muted but adventurous …

Looking further, we see that we missed a post by her back in September 2011 in which she describes Chris Quinton’s ALOES as:

a combination romance and mystery with a dash of the paranormal and goes on to mention the engaging romance and the suspenseful mood.

We think this may be the person who previously reviewed BUTTERLY HUNTER at Obsidian Bookshelf on 30 January 2013 and ALOES on Jessewave on 7 July 2010, but as they are not identical reviews we’ve decided to go ahead and include them on the website. After all, she may well have read the books more than once, of course – and in fact we rather hope she did!

Statistics for February – with apologies for the delay

We’re usually a bit quicker off the mark than this, but the first lot of figures since we started uploading to Kindle have proved quite a challenge to assemble!

We can now inform you however that the best-seller through the website this month was Adam Fitzroy’s BETWEEN NOW AND THEN, although the highest seller overall – thanks to our Kindle customers – was Chris Quinton’s ALOES.

The schedule for uploading titles to Kindle is a little ad hoc and imprecise, but we hope to have a few more to announce shortly.

Meanwhile, average response time for the month was 4 hours and 46 minutes. This really doesn’t seem to be varying very much now, and as a result we are likely to stop publishing this statistic soon.

One of those Good News/Bad News posts

First of all, the Good News. Chris’s ALOES has been favourably reviewed at the ARe cafe, which is the review area of the AllRomance website. The reviewer, Val, concluded by describing it as ‘an absorbing, unusual read’.

Alas, the Bad News is really rather annoying. This morning we’ve had to file three separate Takedown/DMCA requests – with BergFiles (DEAR MISTER PRESIDENT/FOOL’S ERRAND), Demonoid (END OF THE TRAIL/THE DEFINITIVE ALBERT J. STERNE) and Bitsnoop (END OF THE TRAIL, DEAR MISTER PRESIDENT). We were unable to tell how many copies had been downloaded in every case, but there had been a total of 25 downloads from the Bergfiles site which if they had been sales would have represented much-needed revenue of approximately £85.00/$132.00. One person on Bitsnoop had made almost 2,000 m/m ebooks available for download; another on Demonoid was bundling ebooks by the dozen.

Whichever way you dress this up it’s stealing, and in our case could make all the difference between survival and catastrophe. Nobody here is making a fortune; in fact nobody is doing much more than covering their costs. In robbing us, the thieves are not striking a liberating blow at The Man; they are undermining the existence of a small, independent publisher attempting to make a modest income in a challenging world. We really don’t believe that these people can’t afford the occasional £3.75/$6.50 for a few hours of quality reading material. In short, this is a mean theft and our opinion of the people involved in perpetrating it is probably best left unexpressed for the sake of our sanity.

Year Two Week Four

Well, unless a whole flood of orders comes in during the next few minutes, we can report another steady week with ALOES being our best-seller for a change, and the average response time settling down to six hours 39 minutes in view of the fact that the majority of this week’s orders were from the US and came in while the UK (or at least our bit of it) was asleep.

The only other item to report is that we have discovered the source of our confusion over the Rainbow Ebooks live reporting system; we had a few slightly bewildering days trying to work out exactly how to read the summary screen in the Publishers area of their site and then gave in and admitted defeat and asked them to explain it to us – upon which they told us that since a recent software upgrade it wasn’t working properly and was giving misleading information! Thank goodness for that, we thought it was us!!! At least now we know that the problem is at their end we can stop worrying about advancing senility and leave them to sort it out!