Stalked by Magic 2 and a #Giveaway

Not long ago, Sue-Ellen Welfonder mentioned in her blog post here that all her stories have magical threads. Yes! That made me very happy, because I love encountering magic when I read, and magic often grabs me and won’t let go when I write. (I titled this blog #2 because I’m pretty sure I’ve blogged about this before. Actually, probably more than once before, but please bear with me.)

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But unlike Sue-Ellen, I’m not consistent about having magic in my stories. Sometimes it’s there and sometimes not. I worry about confusing my readers—because conventional wisdom says readers want to know what to expect, and I can’t always deliver that.

The problem (which may or may not actually BE a problem) is that magic has a habit of worming its way in even when I don’t plan on it. I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer, which may partly account for this. It’s a lot easier for magic to step in and take over when you don’t have a real plan.

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For example, my first two novellas for Harlequin Undone, Notorious Eliza and The Wanton Governess, have no magic except the magic of love. Then I started writing The Unrepentant Rake (sequel to The Wanton Governess), and…oops, a magic of sorts appeared—a holy relic that ensures family harmony. Then came another non-magical novella, then a Christmas story with—oops, a hobgoblin—and then four more, all with magical elements. Then a frankly magical novel, Lady of the Flames, and The Christmas Knot, a novella with a ghost and a curse.

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And then, reverting to so-called real life again, To Kiss a Rake, which has no magical elements. The Rake’s Irish Lady, which just came out, was supposed to be non-magical, too, but whoops—Bridget, the heroine, is a sort of horse whisperer, and Colin, the hero, communicates with his dead sister. There’s no proof in the story that these elements are magical, but they might be. I’m working on the third in the series now, and so far there’s no magic, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be by the time it’s done. It seems as if whichever muse is responsible for magic is stalking me, waiting to pounce on me (and my readers) unaware. My novella in the upcoming anthology, Passionate Promises, is magical through and through.


Argh. So anyway: what I want to know is, as a reader, do you mind not knowing what to expect when you pick up a particular author’s work? Do you prefer it if every book is similar to the others, or do you like surprises? If so, how surprising can the surprises be?

Because I must say that I like surprises both when I’m reading and writing. However, there are certain surprises that would not work for me. If an author usually has magic, I’ll probably hope for it every time, because I like magic so much. I also like happy endings, and I might be disappointed if an author who always wrote happy endings suddenly published something sad. But if I’m reading a mystery series with a dysfunctional sleuth, I don’t require a HEA—but I do expect that the mystery will be solved. Well, at least most of the time. 😉 Etc…..

Anyway, I’d like to hear your views on this, and I will give away an e-copy of The Rake’s Irish Lady to one lucky commenter.

The Rake’s Irish Lady blurb:


Widowed and lonely, Bridget O’Shaughnessy Black indulges herself in a night of pleasure. After all, she’s in disguise. And the baby girl? An unexpected blessing…until an old flame claims the child as his own to force Bridget to marry him.


Many women pursued Colin Warren, but only one climbed in his bedchamber window. When Bridget does it for the second time, she needs Colin’s help. He’s unfit to be a parent, and yet he has no choice but to acknowledge the little girl.


Circumstances force Bridget and Colin together, yet grave differences divide them. Can love bridge the chasm that keeps them apart?


Follow Barbara Monajem:

Barbara Monajem started writing at eight years old. She has wandered from children’s fantasy through mystery to paranormal and historical romance. She lives near Atlanta, Georgia with an ever-shifting population of relatives, friends, and feline strays.

20 Responses

  1. Victoria Vane

    I like the whimsical nature of your muse , Barb! Mine is a total renegade! I never know what to expect, although I’ve never written magic – yet!

  2. Linda

    If I’m reading romance or fantasy I definitely prefer a HEA but then that’s why I read mainly (only) these genres. I really don’t want to go away feeling depressed when i read a book. Magic – again it depends. Love it iin fantasy; may or may not work in a historical romance. It would still have to be plausible to me.

    • Barbara Monajem

      I hear you, Linda. I want to feel happy and refreshed at the end of a story (although sometimes a little sad that it’s over). I try to make the magic in my stories seem as if it could be real…not too far-fetched…but sometimes it runs away with me. 😉

  3. Lee Garcia

    I don’t like paranormal or magic…spells…. or vampires…..just not my personal thing… saying…I do not mind a little “loving magic” in a story. Like a happy coincidence or a special feeling. I always like a happy ending…no tragedies foe me pleases….

    • Barbara Monajem

      Hi, Lee. I have actually written several vampire stories (contemporary paranormals), but I tried to get away from the undead/evil creature idea, because I don’t find it appealing. My first vampire was a lady landscaper who was irresistibly sexy and just happened to have fangs, LOL.

      I agree, no tragedies. I become indignant if a story is too sad, and start thinking of ways it could have had a happier ending. 😉

  4. Jan Goldstein

    I love it when your magical muse takes a hand in your writing. 🙂

  5. Barbara Monajem

    Thank you, Jan! I love it, too, but sometimes I wonder if I should tell the muse to back off. On the other hand, a writer has to be very careful about offending her muse… Yikes!

  6. Barbara Bettis

    A little magic is great and I think you should definitely go with your muse. Your readers will know to expect the unexpected. Of course, you could always include a mention or in the blurb to expect a trace of it. But I enjoy the ways you use it in your books!

    • Barbara Monajem

      Thanks, Barbara. I try to make sure there’s a bit of a hint at least in the blurb–but on the other hand, I don’t want to turn readers off before they’ve taken a chance. Sometimes what you weren’t expecting is just what you need… Sigh.

  7. Lysa JP

    My favorite are paranormal, fantasy and historical romance books. However, I also like to get to know with different authors. If the book is good, I’ll buy it.

    • Barbara Monajem

      Hi, Lysa. Your favorite genres are pretty much what I write — except that I tend to mix them. :~))

      I like to try new authors, too. All the anthologies and boxed sets nowadays are so useful for that!

  8. Alyssa Alexander

    I love surprises when I read, but not necessarily the surprise of a non-HEA in my romance. But otherwise, I like when an author does something different!

    • Barbara Monajem

      Good to hear, Alyssa, because I think my muse is going to keep surprising me. 😉

  9. Glenda

    I’m good with most surprises in a book as long as the surprise isn’t something like a Non-HEA for a romance…. 🙂

    • Barbara Monajem

      Yup — I’m pretty sure I’d be majorly annoyed if a romance ended unhappily!!

  10. Barbara Monajem

    And the winner is… Lysa JP! Lysa, I will email you about how to claim your prize. Thanks for the comments, everyone. I hope my muse was listening. 😉

  11. Sue-Ellen Welfonder

    Lovely and thoughtful post, Barbara. Obviously, I love magic in books – those I read, and the ones I write. I do not think I could write a book without some whimsical magic in play. Re reading, I enjoy all kinds of books/genres. One ‘surprise’ that is the kiss of death for me is if a writer kills an animal. In addition to my magical twists, animals also always share page space in my books, and no harm ever comes to them. Might be unrealistic, but I maintain a constant promise to my readers that no animal is ever harmed or dies in my books. I have stopped reading favorite authors because they let a dog die in story. That is the only ‘surprise’ that is a ‘deal breaker’ for me.