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What Did I Read in August 2020?

August was quite a different month to July, and I didn’t manage to complete as much reading as I had hoped.

The convenience of e-books

August had promised to be an exciting month. I’d planned to attend my first Romance Writers of Australia conference. Both the conference and the hotel were booked in January. Usually, its a great event with workshops and talks, as well as award presentations and a Gala dinner. Additionally, there are unofficial events to look forward to. Gossiping, grabbing a cheeky wine, meeting authors informally, sharing cake and confidences.

Empty chairs but the conference went ahead!

Sadly, it was cancelled and transformed into an online conference. This was excellent and well worth attending, with lots of inspirational and practical content. I spent five days at my computer listening to workshops and talks. It was an absolute credit to the organisers who had pulled it together so quickly.

That said, brilliant as it was, it wasn’t the conference experience I had heard about and hoped for. Maybe another year….

I’ve also started writing another book, a historical romance so that is keeping me busy

I’m still staying close to home and indulging in my passion for reading. All the books that I read this month were on my Kindle. I find it is both convenient and annoying

I find it both convenient and at times, annoying.

Convenient: Multiple books in a light and easy to carry format. Backlit for easy reading in bed. Enlarges text size at a touch, ability to add notes and highlights and a dictionary built in.

Personal gripe: I wish I had paid the additional cost for the model that included colour.

Annoying:  This may be personal, but I think my recollection of the books is not as clear. Additionally, where a book has notes, exercises, or appendices with a print book I could print them out I don’t have that option with the Kindle. Unless someone can tell me how?

Death in the English Countryside by Sara Rosett.

Location scout and Jane Austen aficionado, Kate Sharp, is thrilled when the company she works for lands the job of finding locations for a new film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, but then her boss, Kevin, fails to return from a scouting trip to England. Afraid that Kevin has slipped back into some destructive personal habits he struggles with, Kate travels to England to salvage Kevin’s and the company’s reputation before word gets out that he is missing.

Things go from bad to worse when Kate arrives in Nether Woodsmoor, a quaint village of golden stone cottages and rolling green hills, only to find no trace of Kevin except his abandoned luggage. Even the rumpled, easy-going local scout they consulted, Alex, doesn’t know where Kevin might be.

Increasingly worried about Kevin and with an antsy director waiting for updates about the preproduction details, Kate embarks on a search that includes a pub-crawl and cozy cottages as well as stately country manors. But Kevin remains missing, and she begins to suspect that the picturesque village and beautiful countryside may not be as idyllic as they seem. 

My Review.

The premise is intriguing- an American location scout searching for places to film a new adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. When the principal of the agency fails to report in, serious concerns are raised. He is usually the soul of reliability unless he’s gone on a rare bender. Kate, his assistant, is despatched to take over and to find out discreetly what’s happened to her boss When his car is found abandoned in the river, Kate’s fears are raised. Once the car is out of the river it proves to be empty. For Kate, it’s both an opportunity to prove her worth. It is also a chance to do some detective work. and location scouting of her own. Unfortunately, when her boss turns up dead, she becomes the prime suspect. Village rivalries simmer over the merits of competing locations. Local contact, Alex is helpful and charming, but is he all that he seems? One clue stood out for me early on, giving me a suspect. It’s the start of what promises to be an engaging new series 

Romancing the Beat by Gwen Hayes.

What makes a romance novel a romance? How do you write a kissing book?

Writing a well-structured romance isn’t the same as writing any other genre—something the popular novel and screenwriting guides don’t address. The romance arc is made up of its own story beats, and the external plot and theme need to be braided to the romance arc—not the other way around.

My review.

If you have been struggling to fit your romance into the Hero’s Journey story structure and failing, this book will help you understand why. A romance is not apt to work well with that formula. The female journey isn’t and shouldn’t be a carbon copy of the male journey. The author gives examples to illustrate the points she makes.  A quick and easy to read.

Feverfew & False Friends by Ruby Loren

A witch has vanished. The only clue to her whereabouts is a threatening letter and a gory trail that screams foul play.
When Hazel receives a similar letter, she realises that this mystery involves the entire town… and she could be the next witch to disappear.
It’s a race against time to find the missing woman and discover who is using their poison pen to turn the residents of Wormwood against one another..

My review.

Hazel has gained some acceptance in the Wormwood community, both magical and non -magical alike. Her cute teashop is becoming a community hub and D.C. I. Admiral has also gained a grudging respect for Hazel. Her newsletter ,Tales from Wormwood is well received, and life seems to be improving. She is gradually finding her talents are and they are unlike any other witches’ abilities. When threatened she can manifest weapons and has accidentally opened a between worlds chasm. Unfortunately, she has little control over these events. They can surprise her, as well as everyone else. Two similar murders suggest a vampire is on the loose and  put the townsfolk magical or not, on edge. Hemlock, her familiar is as sarcastic and unhelpful as ever. He will only do what she asks for treats and is always trying to sneak a look into the spell books. Meanwhile Hedge, who turns out to be Jesse’s familiar (and spy) is still living with Hazel. Troublingly,  she realises her eyes are a similar colour to those of the local demon. Then , another demon arrives on the scene , with a pack of hell hounds.

The First Draft is NOT Crap by Bryan Hutchinson.

The impetus for this book was from an article Hutchinson wrote nearly a decade ago, the article was titled, ‘The First Draft Is Not Crap’ and it became one of the most viral articles about writing. The assertion is the counter to the all too typical -the first draft is shit- mantra, which has led far to too many writers to give up and quit before their writing has had the chance to blossom. You can’t quit! You can’t. This book will give you not just the mindset, but also the tools to continue and finish. Keep-on-keeping-on even when every fibre of your being wants to quit. Formerly, “Serious Writers Never Quit.”

My Review.

This book is like having your own personal cheer squad, encouraging you to keep going. Most writers experience those moments of self- doubt, the question, what am I doing this for?  This is the book for you.

Belladonna and a Body by Ruby Loren.

Book four of this popular series

What happens when the sleuth becomes the suspect?

Once the town’s hero witch, Hazel Salem is now the prime suspect in a murder investigation.
Her fall from grace is nearly complete when a stranger comes to town and throws a spanner in the works – one large enough to alter the course of the murder investigation.
Hazel knows she’s being framed.
But who is out to get her… and how far will they go to put her out of the picture?
Wormwood has always had its secrets… but this one might be its darkest yet.

My review

Hazel was coaxed into publishing an ancient recipe in the town newsletter ,but she didn’t expect anyone to use it. She had labelled the Belladonna Bottle Curse as of historical interest  and  dangerous. A solicitor shows up with news of her inheritance from her mysterious and disappeared father. After ten years he is presumed dead and she is given the keys to his mansion and told she has money coming to her. Exploring the house, she hopes to find more clues to her parentage. What she does find suggests her father is not magical but points to him  conducting an  investigation of his own. This leaves her with more questions than answers. She returns to Wormwood to find that her creepy uncle, who considers himself the head of the Salem family, has opened a  competing  apothecary shop opposite her tea shop. She can detect traces of magic all over it and it appears to be doing a roaring trade. When a member of the coven Hazel now leads  turns up dead, all the clues point straight to Hazel, salt circle, runes  and the recipe.  D.C I Admiral who initially asked for her help is forced to consider her a suspect .As does the head of the Witch council.

An Unsuitable Lady for a Lord by Cathleen Ross.

Lord Aaron Lyle has one hell of a choice: a bankrupt dukedom, or marriage to some simpering society miss so his spendthrift father can get his hands on her huge dowry. He won’t do it. He has a reputation to maintain, and besides, he’d rather run naked through the streets of London than marry anyone at all. Surely, there must be a third option.
Then Lady Crystal Wilding walks into his life, a bluestocking, full of subversive thoughts, who hates the notion of marriage even more than he does. He is intrigued…and suddenly he has an idea. He invites the totally unsuitable lady home on the pretext of presenting her as a possible match…but in truth, Aaron has something far more pleasurable in mind. For her part, Lady Crystal has her own reasons for going along with his hare-brained scheme.
Imagine their shock when his highly proper family loves her and starts planning the wedding. Will their chemistry be the end or the beginning of them.

My review.

A delightful and entertaining read. Orphaned, Lady Crystal has a low opinion of men and of marriage. Lacking her father’s control, she is apt to do as she pleases. She has many progressive ideas and being tied in marriage to a man she hardly knows is not one of them. After a speaking engagement at Sir Walter Scott’s house goes wrong, she is the talk of the town.

Lord Lyle is being hounded to marry, to save his family estate, to fulfil his duty. Entirely suitable rich young women candidates are continually being presented to him. He can’t stand any of the simpering misses and refuses to marry. He attends Lady Crystal’s talk and is intrigued by her and her outrageous opinions and causes. Soon they are bantering about anything and everything and all they seem to agree on is their low opinion of marriage. With a strong-willed heroine, sizzling sexual chemistry, and a lord apt at seduction, this story will keep you entertained until the last page.

Romance Writers of Australia. Conference .Kindle. Convenient. Annoying. Death in the English Countryside.  Cosy Mystery. Romance. Witches. Writing. Romance. Witches of Wormwood series.


Featured

Changes Ahead. Please Stay With Me.

In the past two years, I’ve grown and changed as a writer. Now its time for this blog to reflect that too. All the old posts will still be there, but in future, I will be concentrating on what I write, and what inspired me to write it. From time to time I will post about what I am reading. There will be a research section for those of you, who like me like their facts to be accurate. Along the way, I will be happy to answer your questions.

Change
Change can be scary- please stay with me. Photo by Daria Shevtsova on

So from now, the focus will be more on the writing process, ice dancing, Bergen in Norway. Vikings and Viking beliefs.Reindeer Nathan lemon unsplash

What Was I Reading in September 2020?

Most of the books I read this month were downloaded on my Kindle. I appreciate the benefits of the Kindle but also find it can be frustrating if I want to leaf back over a book.

The Cottage at Hope Cove by Hannah Ellis.

The summer that changed everything…

Lizzie Beaumont has it all: a great career, a wealthy fiancé, and the wedding of her dreams just months away. But when her fiancé puts work before her again, she sets off for a week in the picturesque town of Hope Cove. She’s hoping for time away from the chaos to find herself.

Instead, she finds Max.

When the gorgeous guy next door asks her for decorating help, Lizzie finds herself all too eager to please. The week she expected to drag suddenly flies by, and before she knows it, she has to return to her other life. The life with the impending marriage and the fiancé she loves.

Or does she?

One week with Max has left her questioning her life choices. Is her fiancé the man of her dreams, or just the man who asked? Now Lizzie must decide what her life will be. Will she go for the safe and predictable route, or take a chance on a man she hardly knows? No matter what she does, someone’s heart is going to break. She just doesn’t want it to be hers.

My review:  What if your perfect life began to feel less than perfect?
What if your partner spent more time at the office than with you?
What would it take for you to wake up and question everything?
Has Lizzie been sleepwalking through her life?
Could one week at a Cornish cottage be enough to crack her eyes wide open?
I enjoyed this engaging story and related to the heroine’s dilemma.Should she give up all she knows, for an illusion, or is her previous life the illusion?

After finishing the book I realised it was the beginning of a series and I would be happy to read more.

Book or Kindle- what a choice!

The Women’s Pages by Victoria Purman

From the bestselling author of The Land Girls comes a beautifully realised novel that speaks to the true history and real experiences of post-war Australian women.

Sydney 1945 The war is over, the fight begins.

The war is over and so are the jobs (and freedoms) of tens of thousands of Australian women. The armaments factories are making washing machines instead of bullets and war correspondent Tilly Galloway has hung up her uniform and been forced to work on the women’s pages of her newspaper – the only job available to her – where she struggles to write advice on fashion and make-up. As Sydney swells with returning servicemen and the city bustles back to post-war

The Gorgeous cover!

My Review: This book was such are a revelation and an eye-opener to what the older generation went through. Not the elites we so often are told about, but the working class, those at the bottom of the ladder- most people. I was absorbed and immersed in another time and place. Infuriated over the derogatory remarks and dismissive attitude to women. Seething at the unfair treatment of women in general and war widows and their children. It’s a very readable book, one that you feel you want to read just one more chapter.

I received a free copy through a promotion with Book Stack but was under no obligation to review it.

Being Mortal by Atul Gawande.

In Being Mortal, author Atul Gawande tackles the hardest challenge of his profession: how medicine can not only improve life but also the process of its ending

Medicine has triumphed in modern times, transforming birth, injury, and infectious disease from harrowing to manageable. But in the inevitable condition of aging and death, the goals of medicine seem too frequently to run counter to the interest of the human spirit. Nursing homes, preoccupied with safety, pin patients into railed beds and wheelchairs. Hospitals isolate the dying, checking for vital signs long after the goals of cure have become moot. Doctors, committed to extending life, continue to carry out devastating procedures that in the end extend suffering.

Gawande, a practicing surgeon, addresses his profession’s ultimate limitation, arguing that quality of life is the desired goal for patients and families. Gawande offers examples of freer, more socially fulfilling models for assisting the infirm and dependent elderly, and he explores the varieties of hospice care to demonstrate that a person’s last weeks or months may be rich and dignified. 

My Review :Have you ever thought about death and dying? Unless someone close to you has died you probably haven’t. There is so much focus on ‘living well’ but what about ‘dying well?’ Not in a one-upmanship kind of way, but one that allows the person the right of choice as to what they want as their time approaches. Medical intervention at all costs? What if that results in less quality of life? Prioritize the quality of life, over living? To die at home or in the hospital? What are the things the patient doesn’t want to compromise on? Can hospice care be right for some people? It asks how much autonomy do we want to delegate to some else? A very thought-provoking book.

The Wash by Lisa Wolstenholme.

Clara wants to be a writer  a passion she shares with her older brother, Jake. But when Jake is found dead in the wash on Scarborough beach, it shakes her to the core and she’s desperate to understand why he took his life.

While studying Psychology at uni, she finds herself assisting with a rehab program in a low-security prison. There she meets Michael, an alcoholic and petty criminal with an irresistible pull. He reminds her so much of Jake and constantly challenges her, testing her resolve to stay true to her partner, Dan.

As time moves on, Clara sets up her own practice but cracks are forming in her work and relationship with Dan, not helped by Michael weaving his way in and out of her life. She’s treading water and still plagued by Jake’s death.

Can she overcome her loss and save Michael before it’s too late?

A collision of loss and love. 

My Review:The Wash is a short novella, but a thought-provoking read, asking can we save people, or do they need to save themselves? Do we meet people by chance or is there some purpose to our meeting? Lisa’s insights into the lures of alcohol drugs and sexual attraction make compelling reading. A perfect cameo of a book.

The Little Cottage on the Hill by Emma Davies.

Idyllic location!

There’s blossom in the trees and daffodils as far as the eye can see. Maddie is looking forward to a fresh start in the countryside, but there’s just one little problem…

Following a scandal at her high-flying PR agency, twenty-six-year-old Maddie flees London to help promote what she thinks is going to be a luxurious holiday retreat in the countryside. Everything is riding on her making a success of this new job…

Yet when she arrives, Maddie is horrified to find a rundown old farm in a terrible state. The brooding and secretive owner, Seth, spent all his money on leasing the land when he fell in love with the beautiful, dishevelled farm cottages and the very romantic story behind them.

When Maddie discovers an old painting by the original owner’s wife, she unlocks the secret of the farm’s history and quickly realises she must start getting her hands dirty if this very special place is going to have any chance of survival. As she and Seth begin working together, the stunning view from the top of the hill is not the only thing that’s leaving her breathless…

After weeks of hard work the dream looks like it might become a reality, until a secret from Maddie’s past threatens to snatch it all away again.

 Can Maddie find a way to save the business and herself? Will she finally find a place to keep her heart within the crumbling walls of the little cottage on the hill?
Perfect for fans of Jenny Colgan, Lucy Diamond and Debbie Johnson who are looking to escape to the countryside and fall in love watching the seasons change.

My review:Such a pleasure to read a book that easily transports you out of your mundane world and leaves you absorbed in the story.For an expat Brit such as myself there is a sense of nostalgia too. A relaxing read that celebrates friendship, finding your place in the world, and following you heart. Perfect escapism.

Aconite & Accusations by Ruby Loren.

Book Five of the Witches of Wormwood series.

 On Midsummer’s Eve, a town will vanish.

A witch, a devil, a detective, and a talking cat are the only ones who can stop it from happening.

That makes the sudden appearance of a mystery body even more inconvenient than usual.

Who is the unidentified man in the river, and why does the invisible barrier around town seem to keep letting in the worst kind of people?

…Like the three annoying ghost hunters who roll into Wormwood with about as much supernatural ability between them as a cheese sandwich.

…And the definitely evil Amber Leroux who arrives intent on digging her claws into DCI Admiral.

Wormwood has always been weird, but things are about to get even more strange.

My review:The series just keeps getting better. As usual, things appear bad in Wormwood and they are about to get worse. The barrier that keeps the town isolated is disintegrating. The town’s Mayor is actively working toward attracting tourists. They will unwittingly aid  in the town’s destruction.

Hazel’s business is booming as quickly her worries are multiplying. Her magical abilities are  better. She fears she won’t be able to stop the destruction of the town she now calls home. Following her instincts, she is drawn towards the river, where she finds a body. The river usually keeps strangers out of Wormwood, but now they are flooding in. D.C.I .Admiral has had to arrive on foot to investigate. He was unable to gain access any other way. As usual, the coven Hazel leads, and which is supposed to have her back, is divided. There is a new witch in town Amber Leroux. And she isn’t friendly. Then there’s the Witch  Council, and the mystery of Hazels father’s disappearance. Jesse is back and appears to be being helpful. Hemlock  is the most unhelpful familiar. He tries not to get involved and now has a protégé of his own to teach his unhelpful ways.

I was sad to see the series end and I have since heard that book six is on its way, so looking forward to it.

Studying Her Vikings by Skye Mackinnon

Travel back in Time. Bring  a Viking  into the present so he can help save the world. Easy, right? Before she can travel back in time, she needs to go back to school to learn Old Norse, decipher runes and try not to fall for the sexy Runology professor who’s hiding a dark secret…

Lainie had given up hope on ever getting out of the slums of New London. Applying to the prestigious Time Travel Academy seemed like a waste of time, but when she’s accepted and assigned Vikings, her life changes forever.

A time travel reverse harem full of action, intrigue and hot Vikings. Part of the Time Travel Academy world.

My review. The Viking and time travel and angles appealed to me and I downloaded it- without realising that it was a series..Of course, I ended up downloading the rest and in parts it’s a steamy read. Three gorgeous men and Lainie ,getting up to all sorts of sexy stuff. Apart from that, its intriguing story and I was sorry to learn that there are no more TTA Vikings books planned

Spooky month! Meet Louisa West.She’s Talking About Her New Book, Jealousy’s A Witch.

Hi Louisa,

Thanks for joining us to talk about your new book Jealousy’s a Witch which is out now. Love the title by the way!First some witchy questions.

What drew you to write about witchcraft?

I wanted to write a story about a single mother who was trying to find herself. We all know what it feels like to not be living our best lives – whether it’s because of work commitments, family responsibilities, or something else. Rosie came to me as a fully-realised single mum moving to a new town to escape her past and carve her own path forward. I decided to make her a witch because it added a dimension to her that would be a great way to show her personal growth while hinting at the power she had all along – but can now start to manifest.

Why do you think the topic resonates with so many women? Personally, I think we have been all shoved into the ‘good girl’ stereotype for so long that it’s an enjoyment of the opposite.

You can read this as a standalone, but I bet you’ll want to get Book One: New Witch On the Block too.

Witches are usually all about a person claiming themselves and their power. I don’t think of witches as either ‘good’ or ‘bad’ in the traditional sense; I think they make their choices the same as everyone else. But their power allows for a certain sense of freedom, and I think that’s such an important message.

Girl power , is it more than makeup?

Do you have a favourite witchy book/movie?

My favourite witchy book/movie would have to be Practical Magic. The book came to me at a time when I needed it the most, and the movie adaptation is just spectacular with those gorgeous sets and the strong 90s vibes.

Favourite witch? Hermione Granger.

Do you have a playlist for your books? My dear friend and editor Kimberly Jaye did create a playlist for New Witch on the Block for me to play at my online launch party! I rely heavily on her talents, because I tend to listen to the same 20 or 30 songs I’ve been listening to since 1996. If you’re interested, you can listen to her fabulous playlist here:

Do you have any other books planned apart from this series?

Romance is a special kind of magic!

Funny you should ask! I’ve actually begun revising an old contemporary romance project, with the hopes of writing it for fun between Rosie books. Watch this space!

What have readers told you they enjoyed about your Midlife in Mosswood series?

People are really responding to how relatable Rosie’s past with her husband is, and her need to find a better future for her and her daughter. They’re also loving Rosie’s fire, the relationship between Rosie and Maggie, and the small-town vibes woven throughout the series. I’ve had several readers comment that they want to live in Mosswood, which is a huge compliment!

What’s your writing day like?

Early mornings are Louisa’s best time to write

When I’m drafting, I try to be up early in the day – between 4am-5am. I write much better in the mornings, and like to squeeze in a couple of hours of word sprints before I have to get my daughter ready for school. I do 30 minute sprints, averaging 800-1000 words per sprint. If the muse is particularly strong, I might write a little in the afternoon/evening as well, but that’s the exception and not the rule. I try to be completely finished with writing by 11am, so that I can focus on marketing, my freelance work, and then family time in the afternoons.

Do you listen to music or work in silence?

Always silence, unless I’m in a coffee shop. I get distracted too easily to listen to music.

Do you have any non-writing related interests?

Loads! I love cooking, I love watching movies and tv series, and I am a bit obsessive over playing The Sims (a computer game). I also really enjoy spending time with friends and family, playing with my Great Dane (who I absolutely adore), going to the theatre (love Shakespeare), and doing home improvements.

Shakespeare wrote some pretty epic witches in Macbeth

What would surprise people to know about you?

I once met a serial killer. I want you to tell me more about that! Maybe the next interview.

Life lessons – what do you wish you’d known earlier?

I always knew I wanted to be a serious author. I’d have a helluva backlist if I’d given in to the urge 20 years ago, and now I’ve got to make up for lost time.

Is there any advice you’d give your daughter and other young women?

I’m terrible at advice, so I’ll take a quote from the amazing Dolly Parton (whose quotes feature at the front of every Mosswood book): Find out who you are and do it on purpose.

Dolly Parton.

A book that made you laugh or cry?

‘Black Beauty’ by Anna Sewell is one of the first novels I read as a child, and still makes me weep like a baby to this very day. Poor Ginger. This was my first real introduction to how cruel mankind can be, and it’s a lesson I’ve not ever forgotten.

Books can illuminate and educate or simply entertain.

A book that made you think.

My current read – ‘The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack The Ripper’ by Hallie Rubenhold. A fascinating inspection of Victorian London, with social commentary through the magnifying glass of London’s destitute lower classes. Sad, shocking at times, but insightful and incredibly introspective. It follows the lives of the ‘canonical five’ victims of Jack the Ripper from birth through to their deaths, without revelling in the gruesome ends they met.

A book that got you through a difficult time.

Practical Magic, by Alice Hoffman. I was newly single after nearly a decade of marriage and was on a soul-searching mission. I found myself in that book.

Its been wonderful to chat and I am looking forward to reading book three, We Witch you a Merry Christmas .

I have it on pre-order just in time for Christmas.

If people would like to purchase Jealousy’s A Witch, the links are:

AMAZON AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B088ZPMG7L

AMAZON US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B088ZPMG7L

AMAZON CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B088ZPMG7L 

AMAZON UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B088ZPMG7L

How can people keep updated on your work?

The best way for them to keep informed and to interact with me is via my Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/magicalmayhem/

Sonia says- I know its a lot of fun on there!

Chatting with Mickey Martin

Hi. Mickey/ Michelle

Thank you for joining us- I’d love you to tell us about your new book series , the titles, release date and how you came to write it.

But first some quick fire questions

Hello Sonia,

Thank you so much for having me.

Late nights or early mornings?

It so depends on what’s occurring in life at the time…

What’s for breakfast?

It can range from a fruit and veg smoothie, to a bacon and egg muffin. Depends how organised I am. 😊

Night out ot Netflix? Netflix.

G &T or Tea/coffee?

Tea all the way…Unless it’s a social celebration, than it’s anything goes!

Perfect weekend?

Me, in the garden with my cats, before friends and family arrive for a game of pool and stimulating conversations and laughter.

Mickey’s new writing space.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Marilyn Munroe or a back up dancer for David Bowie.

What is for dinner tonight? Can you cook? What would you rather be eating?

Chicken Schnitzels and Vegetables. I can cook, but it isn’t a passion of mine. I’d rather be eating my Italian girlfriends, Osso Bucco sauce with pasta.

What brings you joy? Lifts your spirits, chases away a down mood.

The joy of music.

Music. Hearing a loved one laugh. Sharing moments with those who are precious to me. Being in my garden, any garden. Writing. Swimming naked. The scent of rain. A thunderstorm. A buzzing Bee…I could go on. Life is such a gift…

Your hero? Everyone who survives after heart break and trauma,who dusts themselves back off, and continues through life with generosity, gratitude and a loving heart.

If you could choose three people to invite for a dinner party, who would they be and why?

My Mother… Because I Miss her dearly. Gordon Ramsey, because he’s hot, and he can cook the dinner for us… and, Alan Rickman, because his voice delights me.

 Questions about Writing. You write under the name of Mickey Martin. Why?

Being a twin, I guess it was easier for my mother to call out, Leah and Mickey, instead of Leah and Michelle. I never understood her reasoning, considering Michelle and Mickey have two syllables each. But who’s to question her fabulous thinking. My maiden name is Martin. Although my married name, Weitering, is cool within itself, I am essentially, Mickey Martin.

A dynamic duo or terrible twins?

I am intrigued by your twinness. Does Leah have much input in your writing ? Does she write too?

Funny you should ask about my twin. I had a project in mind, to write,a book with her I shared it with her 2 weeks ago…and she has agreed to co Author a book with me about,our diverse journeys, of how our childhood shaped us, and the oaths,we each too after leaving home. it will be hilarious I’m excited for her. and am hoping thus will encourage her to want to write more.

WOW! Maybe I am psychic after all! What a unique collaboration that will be!

What inspired your new series?

Life and the world we live in.

Do you want to talk about your previous publishing experience or not? ( I knew Micky had a less than happy time with a previous publisher.)

It was dreadful, but certainly a learning curve, and like many authors, it has made me so very grateful for the fabulous publisher and publishing press I am family with now. Thank you MMH PRESS, and Karen Mc Dermott.

Why do you think that stories of failure and redemption resonate so powerfully?

The sting of failure can help us learn and grow.

Because as humans, we all experience failure, and we can both learn and grow by other’s stories. Redemption is a part of life…whether you are the one who is saving another, or being saved. It’s all connected.

What time of the day do you usually write?

I’m very fortunate that I have the opportunity to write any time of the day, or night, and do.

What is the most difficult part about writing for you?

I put a lot of pressure on myself, to make what I’m writing as entertaining as possible. But, the most difficult thing for me, is questioning whether a line I write, is going to make sense to the reader. I have my own kind of language, where I say things back to front, and although things make sense in my head, when I say them out loud, it never comes out right. So, it is tricky at times, I can spend 10 minutes reading and re reading, a line that makes sense to me… but maybe not the editor or reader…. I’m lucky my hubby doesn’t mind me interrupting him anytime to say… “Does this line make sense to you…”

What is your work schedule like when you are writing?

I can work a productive 4 hours straight, right through to a 19 hour bender. If I’m on a roll, I have to stop and remind myself I still have a family to feed and children to communicate with. I can totally lose myself in my writing.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Well, I don’t know if it’s interesting, but I’m a bit OCD at times. Everything around me has to be in its place before I can relax and settle into hours of hard writing.

A corner of Mickey’s Manor.

Did you do any research for your current books?

Yes, I researched mental disorders, chemical and biological warfare along with other bits and bobs.

Mickey has her husband’ support for her work for mental health

Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions?

No, absolutely not. Writing is feeling. It’s emotion. It’s sharing, influencing, storytelling, healing. Writing, whether you write fiction or nonfiction, taps into powerful emotions and opens a flood gate of feelings.

Best writing advice/ Worst writing advice you ever received?

Best advice: The world needs to hear this.

Worst: Can’t recall…must have blocked it out 😊

Best money you have spent as a writer?

Investing in my Authorship, and going on a writers retreat to Crom Castle, Ireland.

Do you have a favourite author and why?

Nora Roberts. She is my favourite author, because it was her books, and characters, that inspired me to write.

Part of Mickey ‘s writing studio.

What are you reading now? What books or authors have most influenced your writing?

Right now, for a break in between projects, I am reading, In His Protection, by P.L Harris. Authors that have influenced my writing would be, Nora Roberts, LaVyrle Spencer, Carolyn Wren and Sandra Brown.

Favourite quotes Expect Nothing, Appreciate Everything.

The World Needs More Healers, Helpers and Lovers. If You Can’t Find One. Be One.

Favourite book/story you have read as an adult?

Twilight series/Mr Darcy Takes A Wife/Chesapeake Shores/The Haunting Of Sunshine Girl/Zara

Favourite book/story you have read as a child?

The Folk In The Faraway Tree/Bazz The Dog/Snow White and Rose Red

The first book of the trilogy.

My soon to be released, The Guardian, was recently emailed off to my publisher at MMH PRESS! So, feeling pretty excited about that. My latest series is, The Given Trilogy. Book one, The Given. Book two, Dark Angel, and the third book of the Trilogy, The Guardian, which is launching October 2nd, 2020.

How did I come to write this series? I’m a very empathetic person, and even as a child, often felt confused with how the world seemed filled with such injustice. Like us all, throughout the stages of life, we witness human beings constantly making the wrong decisions.

From the bully in the school yard or workplace, cruelty to animals, repeat offenders getting another chance as our legal system failed the innocent. Corruption sweeping through our government, churches, and so on. (Sorry… trying not to get too dark here… 🙂

I wrote The Given Trilogy, to yes, of course, entertain and enthral the reader, giving them an escape from the real world, but, I also hoped to empower the reader by giving them a different world to think about, and consider that, every action they  take, in the here and now, can help to make our world a better place.

The last book The Guardian releases on October 2nd 2020

Can you tell us a little about it?

The Guardian.

After spending a decade within the walls of her safe haven, The Given, Lilliana Night must flee her home at the facility and re-enter the outside world once again in her fight for justice and to protect the one she loves.

Lilliana has no choice but to leave behind all she knows—and the man she loves—in order to do her part to eradicate one of the world’s most vilest of criminals.

Will her self-sacrifice for the greater good allow her to return home to her loved ones? Or will the evil that still walks the Earth be her ultimate undoing?

Decency dances on a dangerous stage with depravity and the results will be explosive.

I think you began the series before your non-fiction Thirteen and Underwater.

Yes, I had written both The Given and Dark Angel during a heart breaking time in my young family’s life. My eldest son, who was turning thirteen, began showing signs of severe social anxiety when school refusal began, and I stopped writing the Given trilogy. Throughout the months of our ordeal, in understanding and coming to terms with my sons disorder, I knew as a writer, it was my responsibility to share our story, in order to support other parents and careers who felt alone or isolated. And it was a chance to help educate and enlighten those that didn’t understand how debilitating living with someone with mental illness, can be, and how it impacts the entire family.

Can I include how Thirteen is supporting mental health?

 Yes, absolutely! I feel so blessed that Thirteen and Underwater has assisted with raising funds for Headspace, and is also being used as a resource tool for teachers and counsellors. Thirteen and Underwater, has even taken a trip across to Ireland’s, Inspire. (Similar to our Australian Beyond Blue)

Thirteen and Underwater is the incredible story of one boy’s harrowing journey through the paralysing forces of anxiety and mental illness that wreaks havoc on a suburban family. Lovingly told through the eyes of his mother, Weitering takes us into her family, exposing the good, the bad and the ugly of this increasingly prevalent disease and shines an all-important light on mental illness in all its debilitating forms. Deftly written, Weitering whispers to the emotional soul of motherhood and the unbreakable bond between mother and child, the fragility of the self and the resilience of the human spirit that lies deep within us all to never, ever give up – no matter what life throws at you.”

I am sure that Mickey has more exciting projects ahead. Thank you so much for talking to us.

Here are the links for Mickey’s books

https://www.mmhpressgroup.com/product-page/the-guardian

https://www.mmhpressgroup.com/product-page/dark-angel

https://www.mmhpressgroup.com/product-page/the-given

https://www.mmhpressgroup.com/product-page/thirteen-and-underwater

            _____________________________________________

Meet Author Kath Engebretson. She’s Talking About Her Book Nineteen Days

Today, I am virtually meeting and chatting with author Kath Engebretson. So welcome Kath, so pleased that you could join us today to answer some questions about your writing life and your new book Nineteen Days.

Nineteen Days cover MED RES

Nineteen Days: Synopsis:
Genevieve hates cruises. All that lounging around quaffing cocktails and too much food. But Peter, her husband, bought this one for her after the worst year of her life, and she couldn’t tell him she didn’t want to go.They are both still traumatised from an  unimaginable family tragedy, and each of them has gone into hiding behind small talk and silence. A cruise is also the last place Genevieve could imagine making a friend, but in Thomas, a morbidly obese man who inhabits a patch of shade on the deck, she meets someone she can talk to. She tells him her story. Thomas himself has an odd past. He is a refugee from an oppressive cult, an experience that poisoned the only relationship he
cared about. In the gentle relationship, a kind of healing takes place, until Peter drops a bombshell. By the end of the cruise, all their lives have changed.
A story about strange and unexpected friendships; about the facades that people wear, and about what happens when they break; about how 

white cruise ship
For many people, a cruise is a dream holiday.

We will talk about you and your writing, but first, some getting to know you questions.

Kath Engebretson portrair 4x6

Late nights or early mornings?  Early mornings, I’m hopeless with late nights, I start to fall asleep in company and its’s embarrassing.

What’s for breakfast?  Usually coffee with toast spread with marmalade or vegemite.

photo of person reading

Night out or night in-with or without Netflix?  Night in with Netflix. There’s no other choice with the lockdown. I’ve just finished watching the first series of Undercover, a Dutch series, which really hooked me in. I loved series 1 of Succession and am waiting for series 2 to come out on DVD. The Sinner also, the main character, the detective, is a deep, complex, lonely and very humane man.

G&T or Tea/coffee? G and T with ice and lemon and really good coffee.

glass of fresh drink on white background

What did you want to be when you grew up? Strangely enough, a writer, but I had to wait for a long time. I became a teacher, then an academic, while having and raising a family. Now that I’m only working part-time, I can write my stories without being distracted by the need to keep up my academic writing.

What brings you joy? Lifts your spirits, chases away a down mood.  My grandchildren, all seven of them, and my Jack Russell terrier Matey. We are a mutual adoration society.

white and brown dachshund with black framed eyeglasses

Your hero? Barack Obama. If you could choose three people to invite for a dinner party, who would they be and why? Nancy Pelosi, because of her unflinching commitment to restoring some decency and dignity to the leadership of the United States. I love that she’s a grandmother and still tireless in her political contribution.

Paul Keating because in my view he was the best Prime Minister we ever had, he’s witty and blunt and analytical in his conversation, and he had a vision for the country. Then Archie Roach, because through his music he’s told the story of disadvantage and prejudice against First Nation people. He and Paul could talk about the Redfern speech. I wish you’d given me more than three, as there are many people in public and private life I admire for their contribution to humanity.

What is the origin of your unusual surname?  Engebretson is my late husband’s family name. His parents were Irish who came to Australia after the Second World War. Like many people in Ireland, their name is of Scandinavian origin, perhaps going back to the Vikings. There are many variations of the name in England and Ireland.

 What inspired your new book? Being on a cruise and feeling lonely, as if I didn’t fit in. Looking at the other passengers and wondering about their stories. On one cruise I saw a man with Thomas’s physical characteristics and I wanted to get to know him. He was with a younger man, very different from him, and I wondered about their connection. I decided to weave a story around them.

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You can feel alone.

Older characters especially main characters seem to be under-represented in books. Do you find that reader respond to this? It’s natural that we all want to read about our own generation. I prefer books and movies about people my age, I can relate to their history and they tend to be more complex and interesting characters. They’ve done things, made mistakes, and learned something along the way.

older people
Love isn’t simply for the young.

A cruise is a perfect trapped environment, with people you’d love to know better and also those you’d love to avoid! Absolutely. As one of the characters in the book notes, there are the interesting, the weird, the sad, the boorish, the finicky, the complainers, those determined to have a good time no matter what, the seasoned travellers and those on their first cruise. You meet a lot of people but don’t strike up a relationship with many of them.

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Lazy days at sea

Does being both an academic and an author cause any conflicts? No, they are separate worlds in my life, I learned to compartmentalise the different aspects of my life during my teaching and academic life when I had to come home to children and family life.

What time of the day do you usually write? It varies a lot, depending on what other things I have to do. I do the creative part in fits and starts, maybe a page at a time handwriting, just let it roll out. Then I take a long time typing it and editing as I go.

What is the most difficult part about writing for you? Getting the voice of each character right, they have to sound like themselves. I try to put myself in their shoes, think about the kind of vernacular they’d use.

What is your work schedule like when you are writing? I don’t really have a schedule. After a day of marking students’ essays, for example, I may reward myself with an hour of writing.

Notebook Unsplash
A notebook can be so inviting.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk? It’s not a quirk, but I scribble in a notebook lines of dialogue I hear, plot twists, I may be cooking or walking and an idea will come, then I’ll stop and write it down. I don’t always use these ideas.

Do you have a favourite character that you have written?  Yes, Simon O’Brien in my first novel Red Dirt Odyssey. Physically he is a dwarf, but a man you can’t help liking and respecting. He’s a gifted artist and photographer,  a thinker and a doer, and he knows what compassion means.

Red-Dirt-Odyssey-Cover

Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions?  Personally, I couldn’t, but of course, there is Camus whose response to what he saw as the absurdity of life was to withdraw from emotion.

Best writing advice/ Worst writing advice you ever received? Best writing advice. Stop mucking around and just do it. Worst writing advice, plan the story out before you start. I never do that, I let it unfold.

Best money you have spent as a writer?  Getting my website professionally developed.

person in black long sleeve shirt holding book
The lure of a good book

Do you have a favourite author and why? Tim Winton. He is so essentially Australian the way his books are so grounded in the landscape, the bush and the beach. I love every word he writes. I didn’t want The Shepherd’s Hut to end.

What are you reading now? What books or authors have most influenced your writing?  That’s a big question. I’ve been moved and influenced by numerous books over a long life. The classics such as the Brontes, Dickens, but I really love Australian writing, Tom Kenneally, Kate Grenville, Ruth Park, Peter Goldsworthy, and great murder mysteries such as those by P.D. James and Elizabeth George. Stephen King “On Writing” is the best writing advice ever. It makes you want to sit down and write.

Favourite quote: Christopher Brennan, Australian poet, The Wanderer

and saying this to myself as a simple thing

I feel a peace fall in the heart of the winds

and a clear dusk settle, somewhere, far in me.

Favourite book/story you have read as an adult? Recently Damascus by Cristos Tsiolkas, and The Kingdom, by Emmanuel Carrere, a book with older characters, The Weekend by Charlotte Wood.

Favourite book/story you have read as a child? Gone with the Wind was my first grown-up book.

Nineteen Days slider with quote (1)

And then I sneakily added a couple of bonus questions.

As self-described ‘reluctant’ cruise taker- which was the best or most memorable cruise you took and why? The cruise we took around the Greek islands in 2006 was wonderful. We had a few days in Athens, then boarded in Piraeus. The ship called in at Marseilles and Naples, then cruised around the Greek islands. It’s hard to say exactly why it was so enjoyable. All the ports were fabulous, it was quite a short cruise, with a new port almost every day, and it was a small ship. . We seemed to be the only English speakers on board, most were Italian or Greek, so we often took a table for two at lunch or dinner. It meant that my husband and I had lots of time together without having to make conversation with others. That sounds unsociable, but at that time in our lives, it was just what we needed. However, on the last evening there was a formal dinner, and we were at a table with four Italian couples, one a grandmother with her grandson, and we managed to communicate with each other quite well. They were nice people and we had an enjoyable evening with them. I still have fond memories of that cruise.

white concrete houses on mountain
Greece.

Do you think the covid 19  will have much impact on cruising?

There will always be people who love cruising and will want to continue after the virus is eradicated, but I think the cruise lines will take a long time to recover, because of fears of a flare up. Viruses breed on cruise ships, because you have people from many different countries mingling together, and once a virus is inadvertently left on a handrail or in a bathroom, it spreads like wildfire. On every cruise my husband and I did together, except the one around the Greek islands I’ve described, one of us became ill on board or brought an illness home with us. After Covid 19, I think people will be more wary, but hopefully the cruise lines will have updated protocols for cleaning and disinfecting. Personally, I won’t do another cruise, as my husband died very soon after the last cruise we did, and he was my best travelling companion.

Thank you so much Kath and best wishes for the success of your new book.

About the author:
Dr Kath Engebretson is a Melbourne-based teacher and academic. In her
field of religious studies, she is the author and editor of several academic
books and many student textbooks. Her PhD focused on teacher education,
and she taught in the Education Faculty at Australian Catholic University
for 17 years, mentoring several doctoral students. Kath loves the Australian
landscape and has travelled to many of Australia’ remote places. She also
loves reading and photography. Kath is the mother of four adult children
and grandmother to seven boys and girls. Her first novel, Red Dirt
Odyssey was published in 2016.

ISBN: Paperback ISBN 978-0-6488360-0-1, RRP$29, eBk 978-0-6488360-1-8, RRP$4.99
Category: Fiction, contemporary fiction, women’s fiction. Available: From Booktopia and Amazon.

 

 

What Did I Read In July 2020?

There were three categories of books this month.

content young woman using laptop in modern living room
July was a bumper month for reading.

First, because you can never learn too much about the craft, books about writing. Next, books that the library sent in its bookbag selection. Finally, my personal choices.

Books about writing

Successful Indie Authorship by Craig Martell.

Indie Aurhor

Demystifying the tangled web of self-publishing to put you on the road to success.
This is a motivational guide based on my two and a half million published words (mostly with Amazon) to help you see past the hurdles that are keeping you from climbing the mountain of success. Nothing is overwhelming once it’s been explained. If you are smart enough to write a book, you are smart enough to do everything else needed to make your indie author business a success.

 My review. I have this on Kindle, and I wish I had it in paperback as well. It’s a book I expect to refer to again and again. It may look like I’m stuck at 78% read, but that because there is a useful appendix recapping all the recommendations, and I want to keep referring to it.

Write to Market by  Chris Fox.

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Have you written a book that just isn’t selling? Would you like to write a book that readers eagerly devour?
Many authors write, then market. Successful authors write TO market. They start by figuring out how to give readers what they want, and that process begins before writing word one of your novel.
This book will teach you to analyse your favourite genre to discover what readers are buying, to mine reviews for reader expectations, and to nail the tropes your readers subconsciously crave.
Don’t leave the success of your novel up to chance. Deliver the kind of book that will have your fans hounding you for the next one.

My review. With a premise like that what writer wouldn’t want to read it? Encouraging and definitely worth considering the marketability of your book.

The Library Bag Selections

Ravenscliffe by Jane Sanderson

Ravenscliffe

For fans of Downton Abbey . . . The peaceful beauty of the English countryside belies the turmoil of forbidden love and the apprehension of a changing world for the families of Netherwood
Yorkshire, 1904. On Netherwood Common, Russian émigré Anna Rabinovich shows her dear friend Eve Williams a gracious Victorian villa—Ravenscliffe—the house Anna wants them to live in. There’s a garden and a yard and room enough for their children to play and grow.
Something about the house speaks to Anna, and you should listen to a house, she believes…Ravenscliffe holds the promise of happiness.
Across the square, Clarissa and her husband, the Earl of Netherwood, are preparing for King Edward’s visit. Clarissa is determined to have everything in top shape at Netherwood Hall—in spite of the indolent heir to the estate, Tobias, and his American bride—and much of it depends on the work going on downstairs as the loyal servants strive to preserve the noble family’s dignity and reputation.
As Anna restores Ravenscliffe to its full grandeur, she strikes up a relationship with hardworking Amos Sykes—who proposed to Eve just one year ago.
But when Eve’s long-lost brother Silas turns up in their close-knit mining community, cracks begin to appear in even the strongest friendships.
As change comes to the small town and society at large, the residents of Netherwood must find their footing or lose their place altogether.

My review. This is the second book following on from Netherwood which I read last month. Fortunately, I had bought it but hadn’t read it-  and of course,I wanted to read it before reading Ravenscliffe.  I am glad I did, as this second book made more sense after reading it.

Life is changing for the families, upstairs in Lord Netherwood’s household, his heir Tobias has no intention of taking his position or his responsibilities seriously. His sister, Henrietta, would be an exemplary heir, but she’s female. A couple of major events alter everyone’s plans. Eve Williams has gained status and the family has moved to a bigger house called Ravenscliffe. Anna, the Russian emigre was the mover in this, and she plays a more substantial part in this story. Some of the stories engaged me and other parts I found dull. Primarily concerning Amos and politics, although some of the mining information also felt a bit laboured to me. The standout for me was the emergence and transformation of Anna. I know there is a third book in the series, but I doubt I will read it.

Don’t  Go by Lisa Scottoline.

Dont GO.

When Dr Mike Scanlon is called to serve as an army doctor in Afghanistan, he’s acutely aware of the dangers he’ll face and the hardships it will cause his wife Chloe and newborn baby. And deep inside, he doesn’t think of himself as a warrior, but a healer.
However, in an ironic turn of events, as Mike operates on a wounded soldier in a war-torn country, Chloe dies at home

My Review I would never have chosen this book for myself but decided to give it a go. Let me say at the onset it’s not for the faint-hearted as surgical procedures are explained in detail. At first, I thought that might be overdone but as the book continued I realised the relevance of Mike’s experiences to his handling of events stateside. He’s now a sole parent and has dual responsibilities to his surgical team and patients and his daughter. It’s a combination of murder mystery and legal procedural and deals with how good people can be torn apart by events.

More Than Words by Jill Santopolo.

Morethen Wrds

From the New York Times, bestselling author of The Light We Lost comes a tender and moving new novel about a woman at a crossroads after the death of her father and caught between the love of two men.

Nina Gregory has always been a good daughter, a good girlfriend. Raised by her father, owner of New York City’s glamorous Gregory Hotels, after her mother’s death, Nina was taught that family, reputation, and legacy are what matter most. And her boyfriend Tim, thoughtful, kind, and honest, not to mention her best friend since childhood, feels the same. But after Nina’s father passes away, she learns he may not have practised what he preached.
As her world falls apart, Nina begins to question everything she thought she knew and to see the men in her life–her father, her boyfriend, and unexpectedly, her handsome and attentive boss, Rafael–in a new light. Soon Nina finds herself caught between the world she knows and loves and a passion that could upend everything.
More than Words is a heartbreaking and romantic novel about grief, loss, love, and self-discovery, and how we choose which life we are meant to live.

My Review Having never heard of the author I did not expect anything of the book, but it resonated with me and I raced through it.  In part, I suspect that as an only daughter I understood Nina’s wish to pleas her father. Nina is her father’s daughter, her choices modelled on what he would approve of. Her life is already mapped out for her, a suitable boyfriend, marriage and maintaining the Gregory hotel and its and her reputation. She is almost sleepwalking through life when Rafael her charismatic boss, makes her look again at all she has. Then her father’ s death disrupts her carefully planned life. Will she continue down the same path or is there another, better way forward?

Personal Choices. Hemlock and Hedge: The Witches of Wormwood Prequel

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Only a witch would poison a cake. And only another witch would blackmail the poisoner.

Hazel Salem is the family disappointment. She isn’t a witch.
She doesn’t believe in magic. And she definitely doesn’t want a black cat for a pet.
But when she discovers an unsolved mystery amongst her inheritance, she is forced to accept that ignoring her heritage is no longer an option.
Hazel is determined to reveal a secret that’s stayed hidden for years.

But the witches of Wormwood have other ideas…

My Review. I enjoyed this prequel, so much so that I bought the first five books in the series. Several things appealed to me. Firstly, the English setting, then the fact that Hazel had no idea she was a witch or had abilities and the brilliant addition of Hemlock, a black cat with catattitude.

The Secrets of Primrose Square by Claudia Carroll.

Primrose square Secrets

There are so many stories hidden behind closed doors . . .

It’s late at night and the rain is pouring down on the Dublin city streets. A mother is grieving for her dead child. She stands silently outside the home of the teenage boy she believes responsible. She watches . . .

In a kitchen on the same square, a girl waits anxiously for her mum to come home. She knows exactly where she is, but she knows she cannot reach her.

A few doors down and a widow sits alone in her room. She has just delivered a bombshell to her family during dinner and her life is about to change forever.

And an aspiring theatre director has just moved into a flat across the street. Her landlord is absent, but there are already things about him that don’t quite add up . . .

Welcome to Primrose Square.

My review

All you would expect from an Irish writer in the Maeve Binchy tradition. The book has heart. The women who are the inhabitants of Primrose Square are dealing with a variety of changes and secrets, Nancy who has escaped her past London life. Melissa a girl whose life has changed dramatically and whose mother is barely hanging on. Susan, her mother who is obsessed with loss. Jayne, who lives her life in the past talking to Tom her deceased husband.

New Witch on the Block by Louisa West.

Practical Magic meets Bridget Jones’ Diary in this fun, heart-warming short novel about starting over, putting family first, and finding love when you least expect it.

She thought she was running away from her past, not catching up with it.

Rosemary Bell just wants to live a quiet, happy life and raise her daughter as far away from her toxic ex-husband as she can get. But when they move into a decrepit cottage in the woods of Mosswood, Georgia, Rosie realises her life will never be simple.

NWOTB-MIM1
A fun start to a new series.

My review.

A fun beginning to what promises to be an entertaining new series. I had this book on pre-order, so it was immediately available on release day on my Kindle. The town of Mosswood is a retreat for Rosie and her daughter Maggie, after packing up and leaving everything behind to start again. However, it’s not as straightforward as she might have hoped. Her rental is an almost derelict cottage and her nearest neighbour, Declan has some strange ideas about who she is and what they might accomplish together. After leaving her vicious and controlling ex Rose isn’t ready to get inv.oved with anyone, let alone this hunky Irishman.  I predict some fun and exciting times ahead and I am looking forward to reading book two, Jealousy A Bitch, which is due in September.

The Book of Spells and Such by Jacquie Underdown

The Book of spells and such

When destiny knocks, do you invite it in?

When a spell book lands on Ariana’s doorstep, her world is thrown into turmoil. That’s nothing new for her, except this time it involves bizarre and terrifying creatures who attempt to kill her. Then there’s a little fact that she now has the ability to perform magic.
Hadeon is another new addition in her life. He happened to drop in at the same time the spell book appeared. He’s dark, sexy, and mysterious as hell, and Ariana doesn’t know if she wants to kill him or love him.
But all this chaos is nothing compared to what destiny has in store for her. A future is promised of royalty and immense power, palaces and undying love. But hers is a destiny that is not easily won. She will have to fight to the death against those who want to take it all for themselves. And when the real battle begins, just who the true enemy is will surprise everyone.

My review. Expecting a magical story, I was slightly confused as the story began in the rather sleazy everyday world. In fact, I almost gave up, but I am glad that I persevered. Ariana had no one to turn to as she grew up. She has been treated badly almost her whole life, so she has trust issues. Hadeon could be her protector or her worst nightmare, but she has to trust someone when life takes a totally unexpected turn. To me, a part of the story read like a modern fairy-tale and had some unique magical touches. I am happy I continued to read this book.

 Subterranean by B Michael Radburn.

cover Subterreanean

 

‘The past is my shadow, forever behind me.’

Cassie Belrose was used to looking over her shoulder. Running away was what she did best – away from a possessive husband who wants her back, running from city to city, from job to job, to stay one step ahead of him.

Daniel Woodsman is at home in the dark; in the abandoned railway tunnels below the city where the homeless veteran has built his life since his injuries had taken away more than just his confidence.

Fleeing the Suits dispatched by her husband to bring her home, Cassie enters Daniel’s domain in the subway where their two worlds collide.

Together, can they stop running long enough to begin living again?

My Review.

A fast-paced and immensely readable story that kept me hooked. The story is prefaced and concluded by a charming allegorical fairy-tale. Cassie is a totally relatable character, as is Daniel. He is both an enigmatic and interesting character who we gradually come to understand. There is enough gritty realism to make the story authentic. It makes one think about the fate of those veterans traumatised by their service. I was provided with a free copy of the book by the publisher but was not obligated to write a review.

The Witches of Wormwood Mysteries: Books 1 – 5 A thrilling and funny British witch cozy mystery series, packed with magic, cats, and murder! Perfect for fans of Agatha Raisin and Amanda M. Lee.

Not many people move to Wormwood. The witches aren’t welcoming.
The fortune tellers are frauds. And the recent murder is only going to make things worse.
Hazel Salem just wanted a story for her magazine. Instead, she finds herself at the centre of an investigation that’s about to turn into a witch hunt.

If someone doesn’t solve this murder – and fast – it will be out of the cauldron and into the fire for Wormwood’s witches.

Although I bought this as a boxed set I will be reviewing the books individually.

Mandrake And Murder by  Silver Nord.Mandrake & Murder

 

My Review. Hazel has returned to Wormwood, after the death of her mother to run the failing apothecary shop. Profits are abysmal and so is her reputation. Wormwood is a community divided between those who are magical and ordinary folk who have no idea that anything is unusual. Hazel senses she is an object of scorn as a supposed witch who can’t do magic. Two women who say they are her aunts arrive and reassure her that late-blooming magic could be powerful. When Wormwood has a murder, the first in hundred years everyone in town magical or not is on edge. To make matter worse there are some clues that it could be concerned with magic. Hazel hits on the idea of producing a free local magazine. It’s the perfect opportunity for her to ask questions. D.C. I. Admiral is also investigating and despite an initial speak between them, he doesn’t require any help. Jealously,  fake fortune-tellers and hexes add to the fun.

Vervain and a Victim by Silver Nord.

Vervain and avvictim

A cauldron, a coin, and a corpse.
Three things that don’t belong in the woods.
The man standing over the body shouldn’t be there either, but when Hazel finds him with the victim, she suspects she’s already found the killer.

The only thing that keeps the prime suspect from being arrested is the absence of a murder weapon and a motive.

But in a town as weird as Wormwood, a motive for murder is only one dark secret away.

My Review. Wormwood hasn’t wholeheartedly welcomed Hazel. Although she is invited to join the coven, she suspects they are simply curious about her magical abilities. Her nemesis Natalia Gould is openly hostile. Another problem is she has now got a fake boyfriend, putting her at odds with his admirers. Her cat Hemlock seems to despise her and Jesse Heathen, the supposed detective has tried to charm her. All while murder has shaken the town and there is talk of vampires, the enemies of witches being seen in Wormwood. More fun and suspense, developing relationships and unanswered questions.

Meet Louisa West and her Series Starting with New Witch on The Block.

Hi, Louisa, Thank you for joining us – please tell us about your new book New Witch on the Block. I had it on pre-order so I got it on launch day and I really enjoyed reading it. It’s available online or as a paperback.

 

Louisa author photo
Louisa West.

Thanks so much for having me, Sonia! I’m so excited to share New Witch on the Block (or NWOTB for short!) with your readers. This is my debut novel and is all about a woman who takes a leap of faith in herself and saves her young daughter and herself from an abusive relationship. Starting over in a small town has its own challenges (nosy townsfolk, anyone?), but she sets her mind to making a new home there. When she meets a somewhat mysterious, hulking Irishman he helps her to discover things about herself and her past – not the least of which is that she’s actually an honest-to-goodness witch!

NWOTB-MIM1
Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B087KYLF3N Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B087KYLF3N Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B087KYLF3N Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B087KYLF3N

She thought she was running away from her past, not catching up with it.

Rosemary Bell just wants to live a quiet, happy life and raise her daughter as far away from her toxic ex-husband as she can get. But when they move into a decrepit cottage in the woods of Mosswood, Georgia, Rosie realises her life will never be simple.

A gang of meddling neighborhood do-gooders want to run her out of town. The vicious laundromat machines keep eating her spare change. Not to mention her buff Irish stalker who insists that he’s a Witch-King and that it’s her royal destiny to be his Queen.

And to top it all off, strange things keep happening around Rosie when she least expects it…

She could deal with it all, but her ex won’t rest until he tracks her down. When her ability to protect her daughter is threatened, Rosie shows them all that nobody messes with the new witch on the block.

Practical Magic meets Bridget Jones’ Diary in this fun, heart-warming short novel about starting over, putting family first, and finding love when you least expect it.

NWOTB-MIM1-teaser3 (1)

And it’s going to be a series with the next one, Jealousy’s a Witch, due out in September .It is up for pre-order now.

You can bet that I have my copy already pre-ordered!

 First some quick-fire questions.

Late nights or early mornings? Early mornings!

What’s for breakfast? Avocado on toast.

Night out or Netflix? Netflix – currently watching The Stranger.

G&T orTea/Coffee?  Coffee all the way.

Perfect weekend? Spending time with my family, probably baking.

What did you want to be when you grew up? A lawyer, or forensic psychologist. Studied both law and psychology – ended up working in public relations before transitioning to writing full time.

What is for dinner tonight? Can you cook? What would you rather be eating? Tonight we’re going out for dinner (not sure where – it’s date night!), but last night we had chicken fettucini – one of my specialities. I love cooking and baking, and do it whenever possible. I would always rather be eating chocolate!

close up photo of chocolate cupcake
Combining the passion of baking and chocolate, a chocolate cupcake.

What brings you joy? Lifts your spirits, chases away a down mood. My daughter (who is ten). She’s just such a joy to be around and is always showing an inherent curiosity about the world around her. When I need smooches I go to my Great Dane. When I need cuddles, it’s my partner! Otherwise, I’m apt to pop on a period drama and soak myself in historical romanticism until I’m feeling back to my old self again.

Your hero? Jane Austen! Her wit, vivacity, and bravery in following her own path in life is a perfect model for any young woman in possession of several unwritten books in her head who is in want of a means of expressing herself.Regency Silhoutte - Pinterest

Oh, I love that! So well expressed.

If you could choose three people to invite for a dinner party, who would they be and why? Oh, these types of questions are always so tough! Jane Austen (she is my hero, after all!) for lively conversation and so that I can ask her all of the questions I have about her work, Keanu Reeves because I feel like he would very much appreciate meeting Jane, and my boyfriend Lindsay because we both love Jane and Keanu!

And a bonus question. Do you have a favourite screen version of Pride and Prejudice

BBC Pride and Prejudice
Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth

Oh, that’s such a difficult question to answer! I can’t choose just one I will say that I love the 1995 BBC miniseries for its perfect casting, the vivacity of the characters and because Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle are amazing together.

p7 p MovieBut I will add that the 2005 movie with Matthew McFadyen and Keira Knightley is also amazing for the beautiful sets that really highlight the reduced circumstances of the Bennet family, and the piano music throughout is sublime! 


My favourite Austen screen adaptation of all time is the 1996 version of Emma with Gwyneth Paltrow!! Everything about it is perfect!

Questions about Writing.

What inspired your new series? I’ve always loved stories about witches. My maternal line traces back to Romani Gypsy heritage, so it’s something that’s been part of my life for as long as I can remember. When I became a single mother I longed to move somewhere new and start fresh – even though it wasn’t possible for me at the time. So I thought about what would happen for a mother who could. What if she was an outcast in her new town? What if she was an outcast because she was a witch? It all stemmed from there, and Rosie found life inside my brain.

photo of woman looking away
Women of power have always been feared.

Why do you think that stories about witches resonate so strongly with women? There’s a strong undercurrent of sisterhood that flows through witch mythology. I think it calls to a lot of us on different levels, along with the themes it explores – feminine power, fighting to overcome oppression, otherworldliness, the idea that there’s a connection out there that’s altogether more primal than traditional religion.

Jealousy s a Witch
PREORDER AVAILABLE: AMAZON US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B088ZPMG7L AMAZON AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B088ZPMG7L AMAZON UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B088ZPMG7L

What time of the day do you usually write? I typically write from around 9am to about 11am – or through until lunch if I’m having a good day.

What is the most difficult part about writing for you? Plotting! Luckily I have an amazing editor (I call her The Plot Whisperer) and she’s incredibly talented at taking all of my many and varied ideas and helping me make sense of them.

animals dogs dutch green grass
Louisa loves her Great Dane

 

What is your work schedule like when you are writing? I’m a creature of habit when it comes to writing. I get up early each morning, make breakfast, get my daughter off to school, and then sit down to write. I write around 2000 words a day or a little more if I can manage it, and once I feel my brain starting to liquefy inside my skull I move on to other duties. I do freelance graphic and web design work, so I usually do that in the afternoons, and then knock off around 3pm to spend time with my daughter, walk the dog, and cook dinner – all the fun things!

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk? I never sit down to write until I’ve had my second coffee of the day, and I always light a candle before I start, and blow it out when I’m done for the day.

background black coffee bouquet chocolate
Coffee and chocolate!

Did you do any research about witches for your current book? No specific research. I’m really into reading about supernatural things (witches included) anyway. For this series so far I’m just drawing on my own knowledge bank and also inventing a lot of other stuff to go along with it. I want the magic in Mosswood to be unique to the series, so it’s peppered with a lot of different things from various types of lore.

Do you have a favourite character that you have written? If so, who? And what makes them so special? My favourite character in the series so far is Priscilla (Prissy), Bishop. She’s the wife of the pastor at the Hand of God Southern Baptist Church in Mosswood. She’s blonde and tiny, and she knows everyone’s business in the worst possible way. I’m currently planning her comeuppance, and I can’t wait.  Oh, I enjoyed reading about her – I shall look forward to that!

Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions? I think it would depend on what sort of story they wanted to write! I absolutely think it’s possible to write a particular scene involving emotions that you don’t feel at the time of writing.

Best writing advice/ Worst writing advice you ever received? The best writing advice I ever heard is to give myself permission to write the first draft before editing anything. The worst writing advice I ever got was from a very highly-regarded writing coach who told me to make the villain of my WIP at the time the son of my hero ala Star Wars. I didn’t. I think you were right, to follow your own instincts! 

Best money you have spent as a writer?

quote on ipad screen
Louisa loves her iPad

Buying my iPad. I use it only for writing, and have it set up with Scrivener (syncing directly to DropBox – no lost files here, thanks!). It’s got excellent battery life, the keyboard case I have for it is really comfortable, and it’s small enough that I can take it absolutely anywhere – to the park, to a cafe, camping – and still be able to smash out my daily word count.

Do you have a favourite author and why? My favourite contemporary author is a brand new author by the name of Kimberly Jaye. Her debut Regency romantic comedy novel, The Perfect Widow, is due out later this year and I am waiting on the edge of my seat for it! I’ve had the privilege of being in her writing circle for many years, and this book is going to be laugh-out-loud funny! My hot tip is that this is an author to watch – she’ll be taking the historical romance world by storm. Follow her on Facebook (www.facebook.com/kimberlyjayeauthor) so that you don’t miss out on anything!

opened book near ceramic mug
Writers are always readers too.

What are you reading now? What books or authors have most influenced your writing? I’m currently reading The Longing of Lone Wolves by WA-based author Lana Pecherczyk and a true-crime biography about serial killer Ted Bundy. Authors who have influenced my writing include David Eddings, Mary Janice Davidson, R.L. Stein, and Stephen King.

Favourite quote: My characters shall have, after a little trouble, all that they desire. – Jane Austen

Favourite non-Austen book/story you have read as an adult? Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman.

Favourite book/story you have read as a child? Black Beauty by Anna Sewell.

Thanks for being with us, Louisa, and lots of luck with your new series.

 

 

 

What Did I Read in June 2020 As Lockdown Continued?

June and my local library still wasn’t open, so I was still reading from my TBR pile and the books I had on my Kindle. Luckily, there was still plenty to choose from. However, the month was mainly devoted to reading about the craft of writing. I also read books for research, which were Viking romances. This was because I was submitting part of a Viking romance for consideration.  I also read one book from my To Be Read pile.

 

content young woman using laptop in modern living room
Reading can take you anywhere

Take Off Your Pants ! by Libbie Hawker.

When it comes to writing books, are you a “plotter” or a “pantser?” Is one method really better than the other?

In this instructional ebook, author Libbie Hawker explains the benefits and technique of planning a story before you begin to write.

Take off your Pants

I have been hearing about this book for it seems like forever. As a confirmed ‘pantser’ I have always resisted the idea of outlining. However, I had a project that required me to submit a synopsis-awkward! So, I worked my way through this book, I found it helped and I made crucial scene cards. However, I used it in conjunction with The Virgin’s Promise as mine was a female orientated journey. This focusses heavily on The Hero’s Journey. Combing the two perspectives helped and gave me the tools to work out a solid synopsis.

Gotta Read it by Libbie Hawker.

Blurbs, product descriptions, query letters… no matter what you call them, they’re a chore to write. And yet the success of any novel can depend on its pitch. What’s an author to do?

Gotta Read it

Gotta Read It! The book is helpful and gives useful guidelines, as to how you can write compelling synopsis for your book. A job that most writers detest. I’m certain I will keep referring to it

Successful Self- Publishing by Joanna Penn.

Do you want to successfully self-publish?

There are thousands of new books being published every day, but many self-published books quickly sink to the bottom of the pile.

Many authors are frustrated because there are so many options for self-publishing, and they don’t know which one to choose or what will be best for their book.

Succesful Self publishing

An easy to understand and comprehensive review of the steps it takes to self- publish. Joanna Penn ( was there ever a more perfect name for an author?)has walked the walk and is now a successful author and speaker. She didn’t start that way, and she lets us know the mistakes and slip-ups that dogged her early attempts to publish. Encouraging and helpful.

 

Vikings by Ashe Barker prequel to Viking Surrender Series.

Vikings Viking surrender

A horde of battle-hardened, ferocious Nordic warriors.

A Pictish village at the mercy of its enemies.
A harrowing bargain struck for nine fearful and reluctant brides
Delivered into Viking hands, claimed and conquered, each bride must accept that she belongs to her new master. But, as wedding nights bring surrender to duty, will fierce lovers also surrender their hearts?

An interesting prequel to the series. At twelve thousand words, it’s not a long read. One that encouraged me to try a couple more of the books.

 

Brandr by Ashe Barker part of the Viking Surrender Series

Forced to wed the fierce Viking warlord in order to save her people, Eithne has no choice but to surrender to her powerful and terrifying husband. She submits to his stern discipline, but his tenderness takes her breath away. A man of his word, Brandr means to keep his side of their bargain and will see her village safe and protected from their enemies. But what of Eithne

Brandr

The prologue hadn’t given me the idea that these stories might be confronting. I refer in particular to the so-called ‘discipline’ handed out by Brandr to Eithne. Now I know modern sensibilities are involved and life was harsher then, but these stories are categorised as romances. Eithne was strong, brave, adaptable and resourceful I would have thought an ideal wife. Brandr comes across as a bit of a brute. If you are into spanking and discipline this will appeal. Adult content

 

Garth by Assa Daniels – Viking Surrender Series.

A proud warrior, he hides a debilitating weakness. The village outcast, she’s plagued by terrifying visions. Their marriage seems cursed from the start. But, as they come to terms with their union, will they find the love they both need?

Garth Vking surredner

More of the same, a reluctant bride and reluctant groom with the question can this marriage work?  Garth has a weakness he doesn’t want to talk about- he suffers headaches that leave him unable to function. Ytha was so much the better character, intelligent, trying to understand and please her new husband. I enjoyed some of the characterisations but once again spanking seems to be to the fore. If that’s your turn on, then it will appeal. Adult content.

Falling for her Viking Captive by Harper St George.

The Viking warrior

In her cellar…

Lady Annis must stop Viking Rurik Sigurdsson from discovering the truth about his family’s death. Her only solution is to imprison him. But as the ruggedly handsome Viking starts to charm his way out of his cell and into her heart, can she be sure he’s not still intent on vengeance—or perhaps an unexpected alliance is the solution?

 

Her Viking captive

Well written and entertaining. Nicely balanced characters who are a foil for each other. A well-rounded plot that delivered a few surprises. I enjoyed this and the repartee between this evenly-matched pair.

Beloved Viking by Ree Thornton

Beloved Viking

The shield-maiden must marry…

Heir to her father’s Jarldom, Rúna Isaksson will soon ascend to replace him as a leader, but first, she must marry a warrior from another clan to form a powerful alliance. When her father creates a contest to determine the strongest suitor, Rúna demands to compete as well—if she wins, she can choose her own husband.

 

A new take on the familiar subject matter and an entertaining read. These two characters are destined for each other but how they get there is the crux of the story. He hurt her once, now she wants to hurt him, but events are not all that they seem. Zips along at a good pace and holds the readers’ interest. Well written and engaging.

 

Netherwood by Jane Sanderson.

Eve Williams is about to discover just how the other half really live, in this epic and absorbing “big house” drama perfect for Downton Abbey fans

 

Netherwood

I bought this book a while ago and hadn’t got round to reading it. My initial impression was that it was like a Catherine Cookson novel all grit and gumption as I read of the realities of life in a Yorkshire mining village. The pit was the centre of life and the miners and their families were living with the dust and dirt. Netherwood, the ‘big house’ was situated so that the Earl and Countess saw none of poverty or squalor. Their home was amid greenery and expansive parkland. Eve is an admirable heroine, dealing with loss, but she wouldn’t have got so far without the prodding of Anna, the Russian emigre. The contrast between the grinding poverty of the village of Gradley and the thoughtless lavishness of the aristocracy is well shown. When Eve’s baking talent is discovered the book the reminded me of The Duchess of Duke Street. Even to the point where she cooks for King Edward VII. Netherwood is a good reminder of the progress we have made toward giving people some measure of security and hope.

 

New Witch on The Block- Giveaway Today Only! Help me With Questions for Louisa West, Author.

Get in Today for the Fab Giveaway and help me interview Louisa West, Author of New Witch on The Block.

NewWitchonTheBlockBlitzBanner (1)

Here is a little about the book. I’ve read it and thoroughly enjoyed it and reviewed it on Good reads.

Practical Magic meets Bridget Jones’ Diary in this fun, heart-warming short novel about starting over, putting family first, and finding love when you least expect it.

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Here are the details of the giveaway- it’s one that I’d love to win it myself!  Best get in quickly it finishes today.

https://kingsumo.com/g/mipgcv/new-witch-on-the-block-mega-prize-pack

New Witch on The Block is the start of Louisa’s new series Midlife in Mosswood.

Book & Author Details: New Witch on the Block Louisa West
(Midlife in Mosswood, #1) Publication date: June 30th 2020
Genres: Adult, Paranormal

NWOTB-MIM1-teaser3 (1)

Synopsis:

She thought she was running away from her past, not catching up with it.

Rosemary Bell just wants to live a quiet, happy life and raise her daughter as far away from her toxic ex-husband as she can get. But when they move into a decrepit cottage in the woods of Mosswood, Georgia, Rosie realizes her life will never be simple.

A gang of meddling neighborhood do-gooders want to run her out of town. The vicious laundromat machines keep eating her spare change. Not to mention her buff Irish stalker who insists that he’s a Witch- King and that it’s her royal destiny to be his Queen.

And to top it all and to top it off, strange things keep happening around Rosie when she least expects it…

She could deal with it all, but her ex won’t rest until he tracks her down. When her ability to protect her daughter is threatened, Rosie shows them all that nobody messes with the new witch on the block.

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54331799-new-witch-on-the-block

NWOTB-MIM1

Purchase:Amazon: https://amzn.to/3dN5N5T

AMAZON CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B087KYLF3N
AMAZON UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B087KYLF3N
AMAZON AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B087KYLF3N

I’m going to interview Louisa here and for my Chatting with Authors Page over on Facebook. Is there anything  you’d like to ask her?

Did you grow-up watching Bewitched or Sabrina the Teenage Witch or Charmed?

What drew you to writing about witchcraft?

What makes witches such an enduring topic?

Did you make up some rules for magic or does anything go?
AUTHOR BIO:
Author by day, Netflix connoisseur by night.

Louisa likes Pina Coladas and gettin’ caught in the rain. Determined to empty her brain of stories, she writes across several genres including fantasy, speculative fiction, contemporary and historical fiction, and romance.

She lives in Mandurah, Western Australia, and drinks more coffee than is good for her. When she’s not writing or researching projects, Louisa enjoys spending time with her family, and Harriet The Great (Dane). Hobbies include playing video games, watching copious amounts of tv, and various craft-related initiatives.

She strongly believes that the truth is still out there.

Author links: http://www.louisawest.com/
https://www.instagram.com/louisa_west/
https://www.facebook.com/louisawestauthor/
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16738794.Louisa_West

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AUTHOR BIO:

Author by day, Netflix connoisseur by night.

Louisa likes Pina Coladas and gettin’ caught in the rain. Determined to empty her brain of stories, she writes acrshe writes across several genres including fantasy, speculative fiction, contemporary and historical fiction, and romance.

She lives in Mandurah, Western Australia, and drinks more coffee than is good for her. When she’s not writing or researching projects, Louisa enjoys spending time with her family, and Harriet The Great (Dane). Hobbies include playing video games, watching copious amounts of tv, and various craft-related initiatives.

She strongly believes that the truth is still out there.
Author links:

http://www.louisawest.com/

https://www.instagram.com/louisa_west/

https://www.facebook.com/louisawestauthor/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16738794.Louisa_West

 

 

 

 

 

Meet Author B. Michael Radburn.

I am delighted to welcome B Michael Radburn to chatting with authors, his latest book Subterranean was released on July 1st.

QA-with-BMichael-Radburn

Here is an extract.

The past is my shadow, forever behind me.’ Cassie Belrose was used to looking over her shoulder. Running away was what she did best – away from a possessive husband who wants her back, running from city to city, from job to job, to stay one step ahead of him. Daniel Woodsman is at home in the dark; in the abandoned railway tunnels below the city where the homeless veteran has built his life since his injuries had taken away more than just his confidence. Fleeing the Suits dispatched by her husband to bring her home, Cassie enters Daniel’s domain in the subway where their two worlds collide. Together, can they stop running long enough to begin living again.’

It’s on my to-read list and I think it should be on yours too.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Aside from the usual childhood desires of becoming either a cowboy or an astronaut, I knew from adolescence that I wanted to be a writer. The path wasn’t a direct one, but I finally got there.

What brings you joy? Lifts your spirits, chases away a down mood.

Playing my guitar or riding my motorcycle will always lift me out of a slump (or writer’s block), but my family is a constant when it comes to the joy of life.

Also, for the motorcycle fans, tell us a little about your Harley?

close up photography of a harley davidson motorcycle
Iconic Harley Davidson

Ah, my bike … She’s a beautiful Road King Classic that has been with me for more than ten years now. A tribute to that Americana road culture of chrome and leather that I love so much. Harley ownership is as much a culture as it is an interest. I can’t imagine life without it.

What is for dinner tonight? Can you cook? What would you rather be eating?

A simple BBQ grill of steak, jacket potatoes, string beans in butter, and corn on the cob with a nice Cabernet Merlot. As it’s Saturday, I’ll be doing the cooking. Can’t say I’d prefer anything else right now.

What are your musical tastes?

guitar-905998_1280 from Pixabay josearaica

Old school country and blues. I’m a product of the 60s and 70s, so am also partial to rock and roll from that era. When I jam with my friends though, it’s usually a bit of all those genres, depending on where the mood (and alcohol) takes us.

 

Your hero?

boy child clouds kid
We all imagine we can be a hero

This is tough. Heroes come and go in our lives, depending where we are and what we’re doing. There are so many people I have admired over the years. A constant is Neil Armstrong. Not so much for what he did, but for how he did it with such focus, heroism, and unassuming humility.

Right now, however, I’d have to say New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. She is such a strong and shining light amidst the current World leadership. A true inspiration.

If you could choose three people to invite for a dinner party, who would they be and why?

campfire on beach during sunset time
A campfire cookout

It wouldn’t be a dinner party, but rather an open campfire to share a billy of tea. I would have Elon Musk and Bill Gates to discuss the possible future of humanity. My third guest would be Ricky Gervais to keep the conversation grounded. I think that would be neat.

Writing and other topics.

As a woman, I am intrigued by the fact that you wrote successfully for women’s magazines earlier in your career. What allowed you to tap into that market?

girl reading a newspaper

 

It was a calculated decision at first. There was a decade’s gap where I hadn’t written a word while I focused on my young family. When the itch to write again grew too much to ignore, I looked for an accessible paying market which at the time was the significant stable of women’s’ magazines in Australia. When I read a few samples, I recognised a pattern that I felt I could follow but decided to add a unique twist in the tale and stamp my own literary voice. The method worked well, and soon opened overseas opportunities. I think living in a household of women (my wife and 2 girls) also helped me successfully tap into the female psyche.

You couldn’t get much further apart than writing from this perspective and your love for Harley Davidsons and motorcycles.

photo of woman wearing shirt while riding motorcycle
A diverse community

 

Not really. The motorcycle community a diverse one these days, with many riders of all genders. The gap isn’t as wide as you may think. Conversations at rallies and motorcycle pubs and haunts can often turn to books and the arts. Don’t be fooled by the leather, tattoos and facial hair.

Equally, I am interested in your comment ‘no matter the story, it’s always better when told with strong female influences.’

 

young woman reading book at home
Women enjoy many genres including crime.

 

 

Can you elaborate further, especially as many male writers only have token female characters?

I think it’s a matter of balance. My stories are character-driven, so I write most of my books from multiple perspectives. Therefore, it’s imperative that I understand the place where their influences and drives come from; bring their backstories to the surface to better understand their reasoning and actions. I am a fan of so many female writers, top of my list being Harper Lee and Margaret Atwood. Men and woman often process things differently. I think it helps a book to see both the conflict and common ground this can sometimes produce in a story.  In Subterranean, however, I chose to write it entirely from my female protagonist’s point of view to dig deep on the domestic abuse angle. That way I could also keep Daniel’s story mysterious and at arm’s length until he was ready to share it with Cassie.

Do you get much feedback from women on your writing?

All the time. The greater percentage of my readership appears to be female, not an uncommon statistic in the crime genre as I understand it. One of the nicest comments I ever received was from a reader who told me; “You write like a woman.”

The book touches on both homelessness and veterans. What do you think is the main issue contributing to homelessness for veterans?

homeless-man-833017_1280

Homelessness is such a complex issue. It’s difficult for many of us to understand how living rough on the streets feels safer than where they have come from, but that’s the crux of it. Add the trauma of PTSD to the mix and that rabbit hole some of our veterans find themselves down just gets deeper. Despite the efforts of government bodies to assist our vets, the culture learnt in the military is hard to shake when it comes to talking about these things. There is a line in Subterranean where Daniel tries to explain it to Cassie. He says, “We don’t talk to civilians because they can never understand what we went through; what we are going through; and we don’t need to talk to another veteran, because they do know.”

I applaud all-male champions for change concerning domestic abuse. What can men do to help other men and women?

adult alone black and white blur
Domestic violence a problem for men and women.

Lead by example for a start. If you see a person in trouble, step up and bear witness. I find this passive action can often stem a potential abusive event in a public place without force. Sit with the victim, stand with them, walk with them, make them feel safe.

What time of the day do you usually write?

I find the mornings accommodate my creative writing more productively, and evenings better suited for the more mundane tasks of correspondence and research, although I’m disciplined enough these days to be able to write at any time of the day. It depends on the weight of any deadlines I may have.

The Crossing

What is the most difficult part about writing for you?

Editing … I hate it. Not because I begrudge my editor’s work at making my books the best they can be, but because my headspace is usually in the next project by the time we are at the editing stage. I call it a necessary evil (first world problem, I know).

What is your work schedule like when you are writing?

Not too strict. I have a conservative target of no less than 500 manuscript words a day (any more is a bonus). This means I can comfortably have a first draft in 10 months or so. I like it best when I have several projects on the go at any one time, dipping in and out of each as the mood takes me.

How long do you research for a book?

The Falls

It varies, depending on the complexities of the plot. I am a less is more kind of writer anyway. I’m very fortunate to have a couple of sources within the police force that help me with procedural and cultural aspects in my novels. Research never really stops throughout the process. There are always details surfacing that need to be checked and explored.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

I like to place an early model canary yellow VW Beetle car in all my novels. Sometimes it provides a minor insignificant prop, and at other times a major one that’s key to the story. I couldn’t tell you why I do that. It’s just a fun little foible that gives me joy.

I love that!

yellow volkswagen beetle coupe parked on gray concrete surface
Yellow Volkswagen Beetle Coupe

Do you have a favourite character that you have written?

If so, who? And what makes them so special? Firstly, The Librarian (Thomas Leon) from my debut novel, The Crossing. He’s an eccentric retired old-school newspaperman living in a rundown mansion on the cusp of a devastated landscape of past logging in the Tasmanian Highlands. He was one of those characters that wrote themselves; I just had to sit back and take notes. More recently I could say the same about Daniel Woodsman in Subterranean. I found a real affinity with his character as it developed on the page, possible because of the link to my army days.

Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions?

I think they could write a great technical manual. But fiction needs to find a pathway into the reader’s emotions. I find it better to set a seed rather than advise what the reader should be feeling. If I do it right, this allows them to discover the level of emotions based on their own benchmarks in life.

Best writing advice/ Worst writing advice you ever received?

Best: Stephen King suggested never to underestimate your reader when we were both speaking at the 84 World Fantasy Convention in Canada.

I am in awe, you met and spoke to Stephen King.

Worst: “Writing is easy”, by my best friend in high school.

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?black and red typewriter

$90 dollars for a portable Remington typewriter back in 1978. It was the moment I decided that I could really do this.

Do you have a favourite author and why?

This is tough. There are so many. But the most influential of my favourites is Ray Bradbury. He was always able to write adult speculative fiction with the heart and curiosity of a child. I love that.

What are you reading now?

While the rest of the world appears to be devouring new literature during the C-19 crisis (which is wonderful), I’m revisiting the classics. Currently, I’m reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I recently purchased a beautiful leather-bound hardcover version. The way Stoker has told the tale from a collection of diaries, journals and official documents is so masterful.

What books or authors have most influenced your writing?

Many writers imitate their most influential authors to kick off their career. My early influences were Americans like Bradbury, Bloch and Lovecraft to name a few, but I’d like to think that I have since found my own voice and style.

Balckwater moon

Favourite quote (does not matter the source) Can be from music if you like!

My favourite quote is from British author Clive Baker. You’ll find it in his Books of Blood collection. “People are like books. Wherever we’re opened, we’re red.” Creepy, huh?

Favourite book/story you have read as an adult?

Again, too many to consider as an ultimate favourite, but the one book I can go back to time and time again is Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. I seem to find something new that touches my heart every time I read it.

Favourite book when you were a kid.

Maurice Sendak’s, Where the Wild Things Are. It was the first book that really sparked my imagination as a child, a spark that has since turned into a raging fire of creativity for me today.

Thank you so much for a fun and fascinating interview. 

About the author.

B. Michael Radburn has been writing successfully for
decades with over a hundred short stories, articles and reviews published in
Australia, the UK and the United States.

He was an award-winning short storyteller before his move to novels and screenplays, a move that freed him to further explore his characters, as well as the natural and supernatural environs in his work.

Amidst road trips on his Harley Davidson, and jamming with the local musicians, B. Michael Radburn is a family man and enjoys farming his small Southern Highlands property where the hauntingly beautiful surrounds inspire his stories.

Connect with B. Michael Radburn on his Facebook, Instagram or webpage.

Subterranean: ISBN: Paperback ISBN 978-0-6487093-9-8, RRP $27.00
E-book ISBN 978-0-6487093-8-1, RRP $4.99
Pages: 238pp Category: Fiction, contemporary.
Available: From Booktopia and Amazon.

Website: Publisher: http://www.atlasproductions.com.au/
Also by B. Michael Radburn: The Crossing; Blackwater Moon; and The Falls and more