About author, Alissa Baxter: Alissa Baxter was born in South Africa, and grew up with her nose in a book on a poultry and cattle farm. After school and university, where she majored in Political Science and French, she published her first novel, The Dashing Debutante. Alissa travelled to London, England, and did an odd assortment of jobs while researching her second novel, Lord Fenmore’s Wager, which she wrote after she moved back to South Africa and settled in Durban. Alissa then relocated to Cape Town where she wrote her third novel, Send and Receive, before moving to Johannesburg, where she currently lives with her husband and son.
Describe your writing style in five sentences: I write sweet romance with a chick lit flavour, primarily from the heroine’s point of view – although I usually manage to sneak in the hero’s point of view with either emails or blog posts. I enjoy writing witty, humorous dialogue and the tone of my books is usually light-hearted. However, I like to explore particular themes in my books on a deeper level. I write in the third person, although I usually manage to incorporate this heroine’s first person point of view in some way or another. My books are generally quite fast paced.
Have you always wanted to be a writer? I’ve wanted to be a writer since the age of seven when I learned to read.
What was your writing/editing/publishing process like? I wrote the first draft of the manuscript in ten weeks, which was pretty exhausting! I have a wonderful editor at Decadent Publishing and her helpful suggestions were just what I needed to polish the manuscript. Decadent is a wonderful publisher in that they are very professional, but they treat you as an individual as well.
Who or what inspires your writing? Real life people and events inspire my writing. I enjoy analysing relationships and trying to understand what makes people tick.
What time of day do you seem to work the best? I work best in the morning – although at the moment I tend to work at night, as I have an 18 month old toddler who keeps me very busy during the day!
How did you celebrate when your first book was published? I celebrated the publication of my first novel (a Regency romance) with my parents. They’ve always been so supportive of my writing journey and I wouldn’t be where I am now without them.
If you could meet any author, who would it be? I’d love to meet Cathy Kelly – I really enjoy her novels.
What are you reading right now? The Magic of Christmas by Trisha Ashley.
In five years, where do you see yourself? Hopefully having published a few more books.
Hard/paperbacks or eBooks? I love reading hard/paperbacks, but I’ve just bought a Kindle so I’m sure I’ll be reading more eBooks soon.
Do you have a motto for writing? “When you’re feeling scared about something you’re about to write, press through that fear. It’s that which takes you to a new level in your writing.”
Can you tell us about any upcoming projects? I tend to become intrigued with the lives of the secondary characters in my books, and I’m writing a story at the moment about a character who appeared in The Blog Affair.
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Blurb of “The Blog Affair”:
Twenty-something, white, South African Emma Bradshaw has a pattern of falling for unsuitable men and starts a blog about these so-called “serial datists”. Her search for new beginnings takes her to Cape Town, where she gets a job working for sexy author, Nick Reynolds. Romance with her boss is a no-no, but slowly, Nick works his way around her defenses. Trust him, or not, especially with her awful track record with men?
When an anonymous male reader of the blog challenges her on her ideas about the male species, Emma realises she must confront her past and find her true self before she can move forward…and love can blossom again in her future.
Chapter 1 tease of “The Blog Affair”
Durban, South Africa
Emma Bradshaw stared out into the inky darkness of the garden. The cool night air whispered in a soft, faint breeze against her skin and she shifted in her chair. She was sitting on the veranda of the house she shared with four other people, and though the sun had set a full hour ago, she hadn’t switched the outside light on. Instead, she welcomed the darkness and solitude of the winter evening, wrapping it around her like a well-worn coat.
Solitude, like the darkness, was her old friend.
Everyone else, as far as she could tell, had gone to the movies tonight, but she had elected to stay at home. Hearing a sound behind her, Emma turned her head and blinked a few times as light flooded the outside area.
Angie, one of her digsmates, opened the door and stepped out onto the veranda. “Hey, Em. Why you’re sitting alone in the dark?” She came across to the ancient sofa where Emma was curled up.
Emma summoned a smile. Out of all her housemates, Angie was the one she was most able to deal with at the moment. Short, pretty, with dark, curly hair, Angie always reminded her of a porcelain doll for some reason. One of those delicately made figurines with big, blinking blue eyes and real eyelashes that gazed out on the world with innocent candour.
“I’ve been out here for a while. Didn’t have the energy to turn the light on.”
Angie sat down. “You okay?”
“I’m fine, just a bit tired. You?”
Angie had an abstracted look on her face. “I’ve just got the most unexpected email.”
Emma straightened her legs and sat up. “Oh?”
“You remember that guy I told you about, the one I had an email relationship with? Well, he’s just written to apologise. I can’t believe it.” Angie frowned as she glanced down at the page in her hand. “I’m not sure what to make of it. What do you think?”
Emma took the piece of paper and scanned it.
I’m sure you never expected to hear from me again. I certainly had no intention of ever writing to you again. But, somewhere at the back of my mind, the thought of you kept nagging, and my rather inactive conscience decided, much to my surprise, to kick into gear.
Dear, sweet Angie, who probably never sees anything except in terms of black or white. Most of us, though, are shades of grey. I know I am, although I’m probably on the darker side of grey….
An explanation, I suppose, is due you, but what in all honesty can I say? And honesty is the key word in all this. You will see me as a scoundrel, no doubt. A lying cheat. I have no acceptable explanation or defence, acceptable to you, that is, my idealistic Angie, but what I will say is that I saw in you, for a brief time, my lost innocence, and it appealed to me. It appealed to me damnably, and I ended up hurting you in the process. I’m sorry about that.
I’m also sorry that I’ve lost a potentially brilliant PA, and that I’ll have to advertise for one, after all. It would have been interesting to work with you, but our roads, of necessity, must remain parted. I hope I haven’t knocked too many stars out of your eyes, but I have a feeling that you have your own inner spiritual resources to draw on, and that you’ll bounce back in time.
Take care of yourself,
“Ha! The darker side of grey. You can say that again.” She handed the letter back to Angie.
Her friend seemed troubled. “What do you make of it?”
“His guilty conscience is playing up, so he thought he’d contact you, because he knows you’re a sucker, and you’ll write back to him, forgiving all.”
“So you don’t think he’s being sincere?”
“When are men ever sincere?”
“You can’t generalise like that!”
“Okay. Correction. When are men ever sincere in their relationships with women? They’re all liars. You know that.”
Angie studied her in silence. “You still haven’t got over him, have you?”
“I got over him a long time ago. In fact, I’m not just over him; I’m over the moon he’s overseas at the moment.”
“You sound really over him.”
Emma said nothing and returned to her study of the garden. After a while, she said, “I wish I could just get away from it all. Move away…start a new life, in a new place, without any memories holding me back. I can’t escape my mind, and that’s the worst thing of all. He’s always with me and everywhere I go, I see him.”
“Why don’t you move, then?”
She shrugged. “I don’t know. I suppose I’m scared. It’s one thing changing jobs, but moving away from Durbs? I’ve been in my job for three years now. You don’t just throw away a job like that.”
“You could find another job as a PA.”
Emma gave a short laugh. “With your friend Nick, no doubt.”
“I hadn’t thought of that! But ja, why not? You could move to Cape Town, and I could have someone to stay with when I go on holiday there!”
“I’ve always wanted to move to Cape Town so people could use me as a cheap holiday destination.”
“Seriously, Em! It’s a great job. It’s not only PA work. I imagine you’d help Nick research his books, as well.”
“You really want to toss me into the lion’s den with that seducer of innocents?”
“He didn’t seduce me!”
“He sure as hell tried to. No, Ange. It’s a silly idea.”
“Think about it, at least.”
She frowned. “But wouldn’t it be kind of weird? Me working with your email lover?”
“My ex-email lover. Besides, I’m over it all now. Since I’ve been going out with Guy, I’ve barely thought about Nick. It wouldn’t bother me in the least if you worked for him.”
“It might bother him, though,” Emma pointed out.
Angie smiled in triumph. “So you are considering it!”
She shrugged again and said nothing.
“Think about it, Em. It could be just what you need.”
“You’re so keen to see the back of me?”
“Of course not! I’d miss you if you went. But you said you need to get away. And Cape Town’s beautiful.”
Angie went back inside five minutes later, and after a while, Emma followed suit. She walked into her bedroom and went directly to her desk in the corner. Opening her laptop, she logged onto the Internet. Her mind wandered back to her conversation with Angie, and she sighed. Maybe a change of scene would do her good; help her move on with her life and put the past behind her.
For the past few weeks, she had been thinking a lot about changing her life, and had been toying with the idea of creating her own blog so that she could clarify her thought processes. She’d always kept a diary, and a blog, in a lot of ways, was an online diary—with the added benefit that she could interact with people online. The idea of venting her emotions in cyberspace was appealing, and in some way, symbolic of letting go…. And she certainly needed to let go.
She went through the blog registration process, and then frowned at the blank screen as she contemplated what she should write for her first post.
After a few moments, she started typing.
…A PLACE FOR YOU TO POINT OUT YOUR VIEW
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.