A Study in Contrasts (and a Contest)

A Study in Contrasts (and a Contest)


Hi, I’m JL Merrow! I’m offering winner’s choice of my m/m shifter books Camwolf and Tortoise Interruptus to a random commenter here.

I was really excited to see the call for the She Shifters anthology – so excited, in fact, I wrote two stories for it! When I see an anthology call that really grabs me, I can’t resist looking at it from all sides, and trying to find different ways of fulfilling it.

So I ended up with two very different stories.

The first, Nine Days and Seven Tears, is about a girl who feels trapped on a small island—until a chance meeting with a selkie, a seal shifter, inspires her to escape. It was partly inspired by an upcoming trip to Iceland—but also by reading legends of selkies originating from the Orkneys and elsewhere. It struck me that the love stories about selkies often involved coercion—a fisherman stealing his wife’s pelt so she couldn’t return to the sea.

I wanted to write a more feminine take on the story, and I hope I’ve succeeded. Here’s a teaser:

The wind was whipping up the waves to crash against the sea wall, sending up clouds of spray that spattered my face and left me tasting salt on my lips. There was no beach left at all, and the gulls were circling high above me, crying at its loss. I shivered, hoping my seal had found somewhere safe to rest for the night.

I turned to walk back home—and almost bumped right into her. Not my seal, of course. A girl. Well, a woman, really; just about my age, to look at her. She’d pulled down the top half of her wetsuit to show her black swimsuit underneath, swelling with the curve of her full breasts.

“Hello,” she said, smiling at me. “I’m not quite sure where I am.”


My second story is a lot lighter in tone. Belling the Kat, in contrast to my selkie story, is told

from the point of view of the shifter herself—and rather than the shape-shifting being a way of escaping from social confines and freeing the id, it’s all rather embarrassing and inconvenient! After all, who really wants the girl of her dreams to see her when she’s gone all hairy?

“You’re going to have to do something about that, Kat. What if it happens at your desk? Or worse, in a meeting?”

“Aaannnnnndd OUT two three,” I said aloud. You can’t actually do breathing exercises while speaking, but I was trying to make a point. “You know, given that this seems to be stress-related, I don’t think coming up with worst-case scenarios is really helping, do you?”

“You think that’s a worst-case scenario? What if it happens in the middle of the wedding?” Belle asked, hands on her hips giving her even more of an hourglass figure. “There we are, walking up the aisle behind Amie, her all radiant in that bloody meringue dress we couldn’t talk her out of buying, and suddenly—”

“NOT helping, okay?” I said brightly. “Look, I’ll be fine. I just need to relax, that’s all. Centre myself. Find my Calm Place.”

Fat chance of that, I admitted to myself after she’d gone back to her desk, leaving me alone in the Ladies trying to visualise a pile of warm, fluffy towels in my mum’s walk-in airing cupboard. The problem with Belle was, she was the problem.

Ever since I’d seen her in the slinky satin dress Amie had, against all the odds, chosen for us as her bridesmaids, well, I hadn’t been able to get the picture out of my head.


My previous takes on shifters have been m/m, rather than f/f romance. And again, I’ve taken different approaches:

If you like the sound of Nine Days and Seven Tears, you may enjoy Camwolf:

To save his lover, he must become his own worst nightmare.

Dr. Nick Sewell. Non-conformist. Werewolf. The first puts him at odds with his colleagues’ idea of how an All Saints College lecturer should behave. The second, bestowed upon him by an ex-boyfriend, puts him at odds with himself.

There’s his tendency to change into a wolf on the full moon. And his visceral attraction to Julian Lauder, a troubled young German student. Despite his determination not to act on his desire, Nick’s brutal response to seeing Julian with another man frightens them both. At first.

Then Nick learns that Julian is not only a naturally submissive werewolf, but one who has learned better how to deal with just being a werewolf. That explains the attraction, but it doesn’t make it any easier when the tables are turned, and Julian—once the student—is now teaching Nick…who still isn’t happy about conforming to the “werewolf way”.

Meanwhile, reports of a strange wolf stalking the town barely register on Nick’s radar—until Julian disappears. Accusing eyes—both wolf and human—are turned toward Nick. Even with the help of friends, hope is growing as cold as the kidnapper’s trail. Unless Nick gives free rein to the wolf’s inhuman power…

an intense and interesting werewolf tale that definitely stands out from the pack…Julian is quirky, flawed, interesting, and definitely an easy scene stealer while Nick’s more gradual change is subtle but as important. Together they make a compelling couple – Whipped Cream Reviews

On the other hand, if you’re looking for lighter, funnier fare, more in the vein of Belling the Kat, why not take a look at Tortoise Interruptus:

Cursed by an impatient witch to turn into a tortoise at inopportune moments, Tip is horrified to find himself tortoise-napped by a customer at the cafe where he works.

Things start to look up when Tip ends up very literally in the capable hands of drop-dead gorgeous Steve—but Tip soon begins to wonder just how far he can trust Steve, who turns out to have a close connection with his kidnapper. Tip’s attempts at a normal life seem doomed to remain frustrated in more ways than one!

Inspired by a real-life incident. Yes, really.

delightfully whimsical… The flawless writing and light, satiric tone keep the reader flying through the story, chuckling at the endearingly sweet-natured hero’s mishaps” – a Recommended Read by Val Kovalin in Wildfire.

For a chance to win your choice of Camwolf and Tortoise Interruptus, simply answer the following question: how do you see yourself? Independent as a cat, or social as a seal?

I’ll make the draw on the official She Shifters release date, July 10th – although psst! It looks like you can already get the book on Amazon! 😉

ETA: And the winner is…. Deb Carter! Deb, you should have an email from me already; if that’s gone astray, just let me know in a comment here. Thanks to everyone who commented!

JL Merrow

Writer of (mainly) m/m romance, and fearless killer of bunnies.
Find me at: www.jlmerrow.com

26 thoughts on “A Study in Contrasts (and a Contest)

  1. All of your stories sound so great that I would like to read them. So consider you also on my list of authors to read and follow. As for being a cat or a seal is a hard question. I have always been kind of a loner but also tight with my family. Being the only lesbian out the the six kids of my parents I never totally felt like I fit in. But in the last few years things have really gotten better in that department. So I can see myself with both the independence and the social animals but would rather not be in crowds.

  2. Thank you! It must have been hard feeling you were the only “different” kid in your family – I’m glad to hear things are better now.

    I’m not keen on crowds, either. I suffer from claustrophobia, and tend to feel a bit panicky when there are too many people barring my exit from a place. For me, the worst bit about flying is when you’ve landed, and have to wait to get out of the plane because the aisle is full of people!

    Thanks for commenting! 😀

  3. I am independant as a cat. I learned to be that way after my divorce when I realized that not only was I responsible for myself by 2 young children under the age of 7 as well. I have found that I like it this way and have become a much stronger and more confident person.
    I would LOVE to win a copy of Camwolf. It sounds like a great read. TY for the opportunity.

    1. Betty – all credit to you for going through a testing time and coming out stronger. Go cats! 😉

  4. Hey JL — Great post. I admire how easily you change voice from the timeless, fairly-tale-like “Seven Days” to the contemporary and humorous “Belling the Cat.” Both are awesome stories.

    I’d definitely be the cat. Sunning myself on an empty windowsill and watching the crowds through the glass 🙂

    1. Thanks, Karis!
      I actually find it easier if I can switch between moods – I’m currently writing a contemporary rom-com, plus a dark psychological novel set in Iceland. If I get stuck on one, I work on the other for a bit. It’s very refreshing!

      Mmm, cats always find the warm spots, don’t they? 😉

  5. OMG – these all sound wonderful! I’m definitely more of a cat. I like the ocean, but only in the early morning or evening. I don’t tan well at all!

    Since I usually look for the darker stories, Camwolf has been on my radar for a while now. I’ve heard great things about it from my friends! Love, love LOVE the idea of a tortoise shifter! How wonderfully creative.

    1. I sympathise – I’m another one who has to stay out of the sun and remain pale and interesting all summer! I love swimming in the evening, when the sun’s on the way down and beach is practically deserted, but the water’s still warm from the heat of the day. 🙂

      You can read about the real-life incident and the comment that inspired Tortoise Interruptus here: http://jl-merrow.livejournal.com/38024.html?thread=168584#t168584

      Thanks for commenting! 😀

  6. I’m more independent like a cat. But I need people around to feed me and get me the things I want. That’s probably the extent of my socializing, lol 🙂


    1. I need people around to feed me and get me the things I want

      Yep, you’re a cat, all right! ;D

  7. My husband calls me pussycat but I think I’m more of a social like a seal person 😀

  8. Both sound good, though Camwolf sounds very interesting. I see myself as both a cat and a seal. Though definitely more like the seal. I can start a conversation with pretty much anyone I meet with no problem. So yeah, more social as a seal. Anyways, thanks for the giveaway!!


    1. You can talk to anyone? There’s a talent I wish I had! I’m definitely more cat-like in that respect.

      Glad you like the sound of Camwolf and Tortoise. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Stevie!
      Do I take it from your icon you consider yourself more cat than seal? 😉

        1. *nods* This is probably just as well. It’s always hard to be really thorough when giving yourself a tongue-bath…

  9. Great post J.L!
    I consider myself Independent as a cat. I don’t really like interacting with people unless I really have to. Not that I’m anti-social or anything, but I won’t strike up the conversation. someone else has to start it. LOL…

    Thanks so much for the contest!!


  10. I think a lot of us writers and readers are more cat-like – we don’t really need anyone else!

    And thank you! 🙂

  11. Social as a playful baby seal so I can romp and make a ruckus with my pals sliding down glaciers and splashing about in the cool water under a nice warm sun.

  12. Definitely independent as a cat; I can go days without human contact. Offline human contact, that is. Online is a different matter altogether. 🙂

  13. I am definitely like a cat in terms of preferring time by myself. I can fake being a seal for a while but then I revert to my cat-like nature. I’d like a copy of camwolf.

    1. LOL! I am now imagining a sort of duel shifter, a cat with a sealskin she keeps for social emergencies! 🙂

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