Mel Sterling


Category: Uncategorized (page 1 of 3)

New (re)Release! No Accounting for Magic is live!

I’ve just revised and republished two shorter works (a novelette and a novella) together in a single volume. These were written under my pseudonym Nina Merrill, which I use for the more spicy romances I write, where the intimacy levels and descriptions are high. Please welcome No Accounting for Magic, containing the tales “Genie, No Bottle” and “Paint It Black.” You’ll find buy links at the bottom of this post and on the book page elsewhere on the site. Scroll past the cover image for the book description.

Special introductory price of $1.99 everywhere!

NoAccounting 6x9 cover from Lora

Here’s the description:
No Accounting for Magic – What happens when straitlaced accountants find love–and magic? Mel Sterling, writing as Nina Merrill, brings these erotic tales together for the first time, proving that playing by the numbers, sorcery, guacamole, and a few too many tentacles can be delicious indeed.

Genie, No Bottle – Being cursed with a genie is bad for your dating life. Now that accountant Laura Jayne is ready to settle down, her family’s ethereal servant Samir has started acting up. He’s her best friend, and Laura’s determined to set him free. But what happens when your genie wants something else entirely?

Paint It Black
– When Mason Whitlock swears he’s being haunted, neighborhood psychic Cassandra Farris doubts him entirely. Who would haunt an accountant, especially one so buttoned-up and conventional? Mason’s desperate, and Cassie begins to believe him. Good thing she’s a whiz at protective magic.

Unfortunately, only fire fights fire–and this haunting is a powerful erotic spell. Ridding Mason of it turns out to be more pleasure than work. Except once Cassie pries its victim away, the hungry, furious spirit seeks a new target: Cassie herself.

Ebook (ISBN 9780997139129): ~ | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo |iTunes iBooks | ~


Coming this month, No Accounting for Magic, a collection of two of the shorter works I published as Nina Merrill a few years ago. The rights have reverted to me, so I’ve tidied the stories up a bit, given them a fun new cover, and soon they’ll be available in ebook format! No Accounting for Magic contains the paranormal erotic novelette “Genie, No Bottle” and novella “Paint It Black.” More details coming soon, but meanwhile, meet the besotted, beloved and bejeweled genie, Samir. Many thanks to my fabulous team for all the help with the cover art!

NoAccounting 6x9 cover from Lora

Please pardon our mess…

Doing some major work on the website. Please pardon the mess while we work to bring you a better MelSterling Dot Com!

Back to normal.

Early this week, I did our quarterly business taxes. This meant I had some filing to do, which in turn meant I needed to move the two boxes of books that have been stacked next to my desk for … a long time. I put the two boxes in an entirely different room. I liked having the space next to me. It was an improvement.

I did not realize what a trauma this would be for Fluffy White Cat, who has used the boxes as a convenient Next-to-the-Monkey sleeping platform for months. He spent the first day of No Boxes zooming into my office, preparing to vault to the top of the boxes, where he would then get skritches and pets and lubs and purr himself to sleep. But the absence of the boxes meant that instead he looked around in sad confusion, then spent time stropping himself against my legs and wiping his cold wet nose on my bare skin (you’ve all heard the “no pants” legend of writers, yes?).

Eighteen times a day, Fluffy White Cat would come in and insist on being hoisted into my arms for a cuddle, interrupting my concentration and work flow.

After three days of this stress and drama, I couldn’t stand it anymore. This morning I put back the two boxes. It wasn’t two minutes before Fluffy White Cat came skidding in, leaped to the top of the boxes, and flopped down with a paw out to ask for skritches.

Life’s back to normal, as far as he’s concerned. I’m just glad to be able to write a page or two without having to drop everything to comfort His Floofiness.


Autumn: It’s not just fruit ripening…

Last month it was stink bugs. Stink bugs everywhere, and it seems like all of them were loitering just outside our kitchen door. Waiting for the door to open, so they could zip inside the house and then cruise like unwieldy zeppelins through the rooms, crashing against walls, driving cats crazy, landing in my hair and making me scream like a little girl while dancing like I’m on live coals.

Today, I see six box elder bugs climbing the east side of our house. Stage Two Invasion has begun.

At least the ladybug invasion seems to have passed us by this year. Those little bugs are smelly when you upset them, no matter how good they are for gardens. For whatever reason, for three years running they congregated in our laundry room (dryer vent access? We have no idea).

And of course, the orb weavers. EVERYWHERE. This morning, no less than three of them have secured the truck to the carport with their webs. How does a spider no bigger than a pencil eraser manage to sling a 30-foot anchor cable 10 feet up in the air?

Bugs are fascinating, y’all.

Spam user registration

Hi Everybody,

Just a quick post. I’ve been getting buried with spammy user registrations for the past two weeks, so I’ve deleted every user on the site except for those of you I know in person or who have commented and revealed themselves as real people.

I’ve also disabled new registration for the moment. If you REALLY want to register for the site, just drop me an email and I’ll set up a user account for you and send you the info.

Meanwhile, I apologize, but to save my sanity and to keep the ‘bots away, I’ve had to take these steps. You can also find me on Facebook ( ) for more regular, silly content.

Thanks, all!

What’s it like to be one of Grace Draven’s editors?

It means we get to read Grace’s awesome stories before you do!


But seriously–if you’d like to hear the details of what it’s like to edit for one of the best fantasy romance authors publishing today, stop on in at Grace’s Facebook post today and visit with me and Lora Gasway. We’ll give you all the delicious dirt.

“Ask an Editor” at Grace Draven’s Facebook Thursday, September 4th

I, yes I, who hate Facebook with the fire of a thousand suns, will be in and out of there tomorrow, at Grace Draven’s FB. She’s hosting an “ask the editor” post. Lora Gasway and I, who are Grace’s primary editing/beta reader/brainstorming team, will be talking about what it’s like to edit Grace’s luscious fantasy romances (and other works as well, but wow, if you enjoy fantasy romance and haven’t tried Grace’s Master of Crows…well, you’re missing out, is all).

Here’s today’s head’s up at Grace’s FB so you can get a look around and be ready for tomorrow. I’ll be back tomorrow with a link to the actual event post, but I’m looking forward to talking writing and editing with y’all.

Starts at 10am Central Daylight Time here in the US. Bring your questions! We’ll do our best to answer them. And I promise not to edit your comments. Swear.

Talking about Being a Writer with People Who Aren’t Writers

This weekend I met family and friends at a local BBQ place for dinner. Let’s not name names, because for a little Southern girl like me, chain BBQ places rarely meet my high standards. Suffice to say, this place does not offer fried okra, their idea of “pulled” meat is more like “chopped and diced but still fatty,” and therefore does not merit a repeat visit.

Anyway. We can tell I have firm ideas about BBQ, can’t we? And I have firm ideas about writing and the other work I do for my day job, bookselling.

While we were waiting in the baking sun (in Portland, imagine!) for all our group to assemble, the topic turned to books first of all. The friends wanted to know what are my favorite books to read. My spouse, known as Boy Scout in these parts, answered for me because I was filling my water glass from the table pitcher.

“All of them,” he said.

Which isn’t far from the truth, but is a bit over-generalized. I said, “I actually read fewer books now that I’m a bookseller than I ever did before we bought a bookstore.” This is because I also read book catalogs, reviews, websites, and articles about books instead of actual books, and I spend a lot of former reading time writing.

The friend clarified. “But what do you prefer to read? Blockbusters? Literature?”

I read blockbusters because I have to talk to my customers about the latest big thing. So I’ve read books I otherwise might not have chosen for myself.

Fifty Shades of Grey?” she persisted.

That’s everyone’s go-to book conversation-starter these days, just like a few years ago it was The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo or The Da Vinci Code.

A family member jumped in with “Mel’s also a writer. She’s got a book out with Harlequin! I read it, and I don’t even read romance! It was great!” I beamed for a moment, but then she followed up with the thing she always says: “Of course, I skipped the steamy parts.”

Of course.

OF COURSE SHE DID. Because the steamy parts are somehow unworthy, will get you arrested, make complete strangers lower their [unformed] opinions of you, or will leave a stain that won’t come out. Something.

This is the thing, families and friends of writers. Our writing is not about you (except of course when it is). People won’t think poorly of you for having a romance writer in the family. If you can’t mention our books without a slightly ashamed disclaimer, please don’t mention them at all. Why are you apologizing for enjoying reading a book? Why are you governed by what you think everyone else thinks? Nobody asked about the steamy parts. When they do, that’s the time to talk about them, not when you’re pitching our book to a stranger as a way to help us out.

Me, what I think, when I hear someone disclaim, over and over, that they skipped the steamy parts, is exactly the opposite. They read them. Not only that, they read them over and over. Methinks the lady doth protest too much, to coin a phrase. But would I put that person on the spot and ask something as bald as “Was it the way I used the word ‘clitoris’ that turned you off?” Of course I would never do that. But I might, later, write a passive-aggressive blog post about it. Because our writing is not about you, except when it is.

But getting back to talking about writing with people who aren’t writers. Only rarely will a writer come across someone who’s genuinely interested in talking about process. Mostly, people want to dip into the surface just a little. “Oh, what kind of books do you write? Ah. I see. How about those Portland Timbers? Weren’t those three goals against Vancouver last week AWESOME?” Enough to be polite, then move on. Because writing is self-indulgent, selfish and ego-centric. That’s what makes it meaningful to us, and to you, when you read our books. If we didn’t mine our curious and convoluted inner landscapes, you’d be bored.

It’s when you’re out with other writers that the nitty grits come out. Or, if you’re lucky, married to someone like Boy Scout, who will sit through endless plot noodling discussions with deep interest and fortitude, and take rejection of his own ideas for my writing completely in stride. Lucky, lucky me. He did an hour of steampunk discussion on Saturday without breaking a sweat or making me feel devalued. Amazing. End shameless plug for my supportive spouse.

I’m lucky enough to have a day job that puts me in contact with other local writers fairly often. I see Carolyn Rose a few times a month, and we chew over books and structure, what works for us in various books we have in common, and why. I email all day long with my writing partner Lilith Saintcrow, or members of my tiny critique group (which includes the delightful and ever practical Grace Draven).

And then there’s shopping with writers. Because lunch out while shopping (usually for books…busman’s holidays are always the best) with my writing partner? Is tax deductible, since we always talk serious writer business, drafts, contracts, editors, agents, plots, online resources. And so are those dried mushrooms I bought at the gourmet shop with her, simply because the next book in the pipe has to do with wildcrafting and mycology. Or, as Lili says, “Of course those are tax deductible! Save the receipt! Because RESEARCH!”

It’s all in how you look at things.

Have a great day out there. Maybe even go buy a book! Mine, or someone else’s. It’s all good.

Season of Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness

This morning, here at the end of August, we have our first true autumn fog. The Pacific is cooling us down, moist air sliding in, combining with the warmth rising from the land to wring moisture out of the air. It looks like a cloud or a mist, but mostly it’s autumn’s first gentle nudge.

I have the windows open this morning, and can feel the humidity, currently at 99% according to Weather Underground, easing into the house. The mist outside gathers on fir needles and maple leaves until it reaches a drip point. We haven’t had rain for a while, and the sound of water falling, even if it’s only six drops to the acre, is welcome. This part of the world is meant to be wet, is built for that. Late summer is brown and yellow and almost sere, the fragrances that of dusty earth, oiled and graveled pavement, fallen wasp-prowled orchard fruits, and hot sugary balsam.

Last night I was at a meeting in Portland. I sat in the loft of an after-hours bookstore on Mississippi Avenue (this one, if you’re curious–and if you’re local, you should go, it’s an amazing place). While I listened to the attendees and took notes, I also listened to someone playing blues and old 1970s standards (ha, see what I did there?) like the Doobie Brothers (from back before I even knew what a “doobie” was). We’d tried leaving the balcony doors open, but it was too noisy, given the diners in the courtyard below and the music. But before we closed the doors and locked out the evening, I was treated to the amazing hazy blue of these last summer evenings, jeweled by the crescent moon setting over Portland. Nail-paring thin, riding in a cloudless sky before the pink of city nightlights burned upward to wash it out.

A little later I’ll start the daily grind, get dressed, head for town, mail books, and head for work, but for now I’ll just rejoice in the shift of seasons and the new slant of light.

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