Writers, Can You Survive Danger & Death in the Conflict Challenge?

Another great book to add to your library.

Do you have a bookshelf of writing guides? I do, and well, it’s an addiction, but a good one. I’m going to flag one for you to look into: The Conflict Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Obstacles, Adversaries, and Inner Struggles (Vol. 1).

This book is from Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi, the authors of The Emotion Thesaurus. I bought that when it first came out and I bought several others of their guides- all really helpful and great value.

I’m such a fan of their writing guides I joined their Street Team. Every time they release a book they do something epic and fun to celebrate, and I get to tell you all about it!

But first, you’re probably curious about this book, so let me break it down. The Conflict Thesaurus is set up like the other books in their series: part how-to, part thesaurus. This guide shows writers how to maximize conflict and use it to build tension, drive the plot, reveal your character’s inner layers, and most importantly, keep readers glued to the page.

It’s packed with conflict scenarios like Moral Dilemmas, Ticking Clocks, Obstacles, No-Win Scenarios, Temptations and more. It can help you nail down your plot and character arc, so check it out!

Conflict is so often personal

Now, speaking of conflict, I have a BIG question for you.

Can You Survive Danger as Well as Your Favorite Protagonist? You’re probably pretty good at throwing problems at your characters and making life difficult for them. After all, that’s part of being a writer. But do you ever think about how you’d do if you had to face the same situations? If you were the protagonist, would you hold up to the pressure? Would you make good decisions and succeed, or screw up and fail?

Let’s find out.

Introducing… The Conflict Challenge

Become the protagonist in a story Angela & Becca created using scenarios found in the Conflict Thesaurus to see if you’ve got what it takes to win.

The Conflict Challenge is fun, campy, and will put your wits and instincts to the test.

And if you survive, you will win some cool stuff!

I survived, but I am a lot braver in fiction than in real life!

GIVEAWAY ALERT

While you’re checking out the Conflict Challenge at Writers Helping Writers, make sure to also enter their Conflict Thesaurus release day giveaway, too. But hurry – it ends October 15th.

So, take the Conflict Challenge…if you dare. And don’t forget to come back and let me know how you did against Camp Deadwood!

Now I have to see if I can survive on Team Angela.

Meet Aussie Expat Katrina Coll, talking about her new book, A Match Made for TV.

It’s a pleasure to welcome author Katrina Coll to talk about her new book

An expat Aussie, Katrina lives in rural Ireland where the countryside really is forty shades of green. She is a keen cook, which is why she’s becoming a reluctant runner with the support of the family dog, Beetlejuice.

Thank you for joining us- tell us about your new book A Match Made for TV  which released 16th September.

Author Katrina Coll

Ria De Lorenzo is a damn good doctor. Or was. Burnt out before she’s begun, a three-month paid vacation as the medical consultant to a reality TV show is just what she needs to recover her mojo. 

Cancer survivor and headline grabber Griffin Stromberg is desperate to reboot his ultra-macho image. Typecast by years of fame, showcasing his softer side with a picture-perfect relationship should do the trick. Until Ria breaches show protocol and gets Griff’s fake girlfriend disqualified. 

Now Ria’s only hope of clocking out of reality is to check in to a fantasy by becoming his new partner. Griff, however, wants their relationship to be the real deal, not one of his infamous life-hacks. 

Can a man renowned for taking shortcuts prove he’s ready to commit to a forever relationship? Or will reality bite once filming is over? 

Note: This is a steamy romance, which includes swearing and steamy bathroom sex.

What a great cover!

Oh, sounds great! Are you writing anything else?

My work in progress returns to the world of reality tv with a reunion romance. My couple are paired on a bake-off—one is a chef, the other a cook. The fallout from past betrayals is massive but they have to work through their past for a much bigger reason than a tv show.

We will discuss your writing, but first some quick-fire questions.

Late nights or early mornings? Late nights. I am not a morning person.

What’s for breakfast? I often do overnight oats in jars with yogurt and fruit.

A healthy start to the day.

Night out or Netflix? Netflix on weekends. Weeknights I write.

G &T or Tea/coffee? While I do love a pink gin and elderflower tonic (*Foodie alert), I cannot do without decent coffee.

Perfect weekend? These days it’s any weekend when I get out the house.

What did you want to be when you grew up? An author.

What is for dinner tonight? Can you cook? It ended up a roast rack of rosemary lamb with Catalan-style greens, roasted root veggies, and baby new potatoes. For a bit of fun, here’s a pic:

Nothing better than a home cooked meal.

What brings you joy? Lifts your spirits, chases away a down mood. Taking the dog for a walk always cheers me up.

Your hero? My nanna. She’s a total legend.

If you could choose three people (living or dead ) to invite for a dinner party, who would they be and why? They’d have to be living because I’m prejudiced against zombies. Actually, I’d just love to be able to hold dinner parties again…

Dinner parties seem like a distant dream!

Do you have any non-writing related interests? I’m re-learning the piano (thanks lockdown!) and I’m going for my second black belt. (The first was a loooong time ago.) What would surprise people to know about you? If I told you, it wouldn’t be a surprise!

I know you have a dog, but I could not resist this picture with the cat!

Life lessons-what do you wish you’d know earlier? Persistence is more important than intelligence.

Questions about Writing. What is your writing process like? Iterative. I write, re-write, write, edit. It is not efficient but it’s how my brain works.

Do you have any other projects are in the works? I have two paranormal romances waiting to see the light of day, a medieval romance (currently shelved), and the sequel I mentioned.

Have you ever resuscitated a project you’d shelved? What helped it work better the second time around? I have some stories on life support so long it’s embarrassing. The bake-off book is one example. I wrote a version before A Match Made for TV but realised that while I had tension, drama and attraction, the relationship never built. Now I build the relationship first.

A competitive environment can spark rivalries and maybe romance?

If you were to genre-hop, which genres would you most like to try writing? Fantasy and historical.

What writing resources have been most helpful to you? The most singularly useful text was Romancing the Beat by Gwen Hayes. But collectively, it’s been by joining writing organisations like the Romance Writers of Australia.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known at the beginning of your writing/publishing journey? I wish I’d had critique partners sooner instead of trying to do it all solo.

A critique partner makes such a difference.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing? I’m still at the stage of fitting writing around my work.

What inspired your new book? My love of cooking. And the Aussie TV show the Cook and the Chef.

Always something to learn in the kitchen.

What is the most difficult part about writing for you? Getting new words down and keeping them.

Did you do any research for your current book? I have a chronic need to research, so yes.

Best writing advice/ Worst writing advice you ever received? Finish the damn book has to be the best.’

“A writer is a person who writes every day” is the worst.

Best money you have spent as a writer? Buying Scrivener.

What are you reading now? Playing it Safe by Amy Andrews. And the next book on pre-order is The King’s Cowboy by Madeline Ash.

What books or authors have most influenced your writing? I’m looking looking forward to hearing what readers say about my style.

Favourite book/story you have read as an adult? Current fave is The Hating Game by Sally Thorne.

Favourite book/story you have read as a child? Almost everything by Diana Wynne Jones.

Available in lots of online formats.

You can catch up with Katrina here.

Web             https://www.katrinacoll.com

Facebook    https://www.facebook.com/KatrinaCollAuthor

Instagram   https://www.instagram.com/katrinacollauthor/

Pinterest     https://www.pinterest.ie/KatrinaCollAuthor/a-match-made-for-tv/

BUY LINKS: 

Here’s the publisher link (best value as on sale): https://www.evernightpublishing.com/a-match-made-for-tv-by-katrina-coll/

https://books2read.com/A-Match-Made-for-TV

Meet Kelvin White, Author of Spencer’s War.

Thanks for joining us Kelvin. I know Kelvin slightly as a fellow member of a writing group I belong to. But I found his answers intriguing and I hope that you will too.

Kelvin White

First some getting to know you questions and then we will talk about your writing.

Late nights or early morning? As it happens, I am an insomniac so most nights I’m at the computer in the wee hours, often until the sun comes up.

Whats for Breakfast?

Breakfast, Kelvin’s fabulous home -made muesli. If I wasn’t destined to be a world-famous novelist, I would market my home made muesli and be a millionaire breakfast food magnate.

Night in with or without Netflix or Night Out?

Both night out and in, yes with Netflix and Foxtel

Sadly, when I have finished watching a Netflix series, I realise there must be a shortage of good writers. Some of the scripts are beyond ludicrous.

Many a writer is fuelled by coffee .

Certainly, G and T, and of course coffee. As for tea, that’s the main reason the British Empire has diminished in the last 100 years. People realised a nation that chooses to drink the abomination that is tea, don’t deserve to have an empire.

What did I want to be?

I really wanted to be a world- famous rock and roll musician. It seemed the only thing that prevented that was a lack of talent.  Apart from that I thought I ticked all the boxes. 

Rock stardom, a dream for many.

Talk about a jack of all trades. Shoe salesman, car salesman, real estate salesman, and a would- be politician. I was a professional musician for many years. Those stories are in my autobiographical book ” Oh How We Rocked”. This slim volume was compiled with an ex-band member and lifelong friend Allan Butler. 

What brings me joy? Silly question, a good book.

And then of course we have sport. Bugger sport I loathe any game that has balls in it, so that fortunately rules out most of them.

My hero? There are too many to list. Not too many politicians. Certainly, some authors I admire I’m a fan of Ayn Rand, George Orwell, Aldous Huxley and perhaps curiously I remember as  a child how enthralled I was with Enid Blyton. She probably helped to spark a lifelong love of literature.

Choose three people alive or dead to invite for dinner.

You would be sure of some enthralling conversation at dinner.

I would love to have met Mark Twain. My grandfather heard him speak and was enthralled. As a writer his novels are actually far deeper than just adventure stories. Having dinner with Shakespeare, probably the most influential writer of all time, would be a life changing experience. Having a chat with Leonardo De Vinci, just so I could tell him how some of his crazy ideas actually came to fruition.

How do writers write?

About Writing, are you a plotter, know what is going to happen or a pantser as in don’t plan, fly by the seat of your pants?

Oh boy, am I a pantser? You bet. I start with the vaguest of ideas and then like a water diviner, I see where it takes me. I like the surprises.

The initial cover for Spenser’s War.

Tell us a little about Spencer’s war.

Life is idyllic for Spencer Marlowe, a successful Gen Y marketing guru, living the dream in Perth, Western Australia. Good-looking, fit and self-assured, Spencer is fascinated by Japanese culture, fluent in the Japanese language, and passionately in love with his Japanese girlfriend, Michiyo. He’s also a formidable karate expert who just can’t stop getting into trouble. After a particularly eventful night, involving bikie gangs and motorbikes, he makes up his mind to marry Michiyo. But on the very same night as his romantic proposal, he is inexplicably transported back in time to Perth in 1942, where he finds himself a recruit in the army and forced to play a war game.As time goes on, with no indication of when he might return to his old life, Spencer embarks on a dangerous mission to Singapore – his assignment to detonate Japanese ships and prevent the invasion of Australia. But can Spencer destroy an enemy he’s come to love? Can he convince his senior officers he’s not a spy? Can he conform to a new culture and its old-fashioned beliefs? And – in this time – can he save the day?Along the way, Spencer’s comrades, and the many colourful characters he meets, become like family. The beautiful and beguiling Trilby Lim, potentially something more. But just as Spencer finds his feet, they’re whisked out from underneath him and he begins to question everything. Including if he wants to go back home..

Are there more Spencer books planned?

Yes I have finished book two of the Spencer series. Hawaiian Intervention has just had its final proofread and is about to be uploaded onto Ingram Sparke and Amazon. “Hawaiian” sees Spencer cast back in time to Hawaii, prior to the Japanese attack. I’m very pleased with the finished result.

How Much research did you do? Research on my novels is an ongoing process I research as needed. Thank God for Doctor Google.

I wish I had started to write earlier in my life. Apart from being a prolific letter writer to newspapers I didn’t start to write a novel until I was almost 70. About two and a half years ago. I’m now hooked.

Research loved by some hated by others, but often necessary.

How do you decide character names? I don’t have a formula for names. I try to make them interesting.

What time of the day do you write ? Anytime.

Difficulties? Grammar and sentence construction at times needs a little work.

Do you have a writing schedule? I have been known to write for ten hours straight.

Writing quirk? I’m not sure what quirks I have. As far as I know, I’m not sure my style is like anybody else’s, so that’s a quirk I guess.

In my third Spencer Marlowe novel, yet to be edited I have a female character FBI agent Savannah Steele, who is a slightly psychopathic, but lovable lady. I was so taken with her  I’ve written a third novel featuring her. I’m in love. Sadly, she turns out to be a lesbian, so my love is doomed to be unrequited

Who doesn’t love a femme fatale?

Can a writer write if they don’t feel emotions? Absolutely so long as it’s instruction manuals for IKEA

Best advice? Keep writing.

Worst advice? You will never succeed.

Best money spent? Hire a good editor.

Favourite author? Impossible to answer. But current faves are Michael Connolly, Peter James and Stephen Leather. Currently reading ” Memory Man” by David Baldacci.

I really couldn’t say who has influenced me the most. Probably an amalgam of Leslie Charteris, Ian Fleming and I hate to say it, Lee Child.

Favourite quote.” If you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re probably right.”

Favourite book ‘ Pillars of the Earth’ by Ken Follett.

As a child, my absolute favourite was the ‘Magic Faraway Tree’ by you know who.

You are busy! Anything else in the pipeline?

‘ Crime noir’

Recently I was invited to collaborate on a “crime noir” novel with award winning author Dr Bruce Russell. I wasn’t quite sure how a collaboration would work, I don’t think he did either. Bruce has a doctorate in creative writing and has taught in American Universities. The formula seems to be, we take turns writing a chapter each. So far no cross words. We are up to around 40,000 words. I’m pretty excited by the project. It’s entitled ” The King of San Francisco” It’s set in 1978 when the main character, an Australian, visits his younger brother in San Francisco, only to find himself dragged into a world of murder and intrigue. Naturally we have lots of sex and violence. At the speed we are going it will be ready for editing within a couple of months.

Congratulations, it sounds like a lot of fun!

Meet Prolific Y.A. Author Rebecca Laffar-Smith.

Hi Rebecca,

Thank you for joining us- tell us about your new books

I actually have three books coming soon. Spirit Talker is a Y.A. Literary novel:

What a gorgeous cover!

When a grieving teen starts seeing ghosts walk the streets, her sceptical psychiatrist thinks she’s hallucinating, but just because not everyone can see them doesn’t mean they aren’t really there.

City of Quartz is a Y.A. Dystopian Sci-Fi and book two of the Shadow of Nar Series:

On a distance world, where human flaw is eradicated, a teenage space explorer must convince the perfectionist society to provide vital medical aid that will cure her sister’s terminal illness.

And finally, we’re also hoping to get out the first book I’ve co-written with my daughter, Kaylie. Everlasting Sleep is a Y.A. Fantasy:

To cure her sister’s sickness, a dragon-winged teen must venture to Vislume , the land of dreams, where corruption has tainted the landscape and darkness lures dreamers into everlasting sleep.

Intriguing! A dragon- winged teenager.

Some quick-fire questions.

Late nights or early mornings? Late Nights, although I’m trying to switch this around.

What’s for breakfast? Lately it’s been two soft boiled eggs. This is because I help take care of my stepfather who has Alzheimer’s and soft boiled eggs is one of the four things he still knows how to cook and is in a routine where he cooks it every single morning. But I’ve also been known to have cereal, porridge, smoothies, toast, or croissants.

You cant beat eggs for breakfast.

Night out or Netflix? Netflix. Or Disney Plus or Amazon Prime or Apple TV or YouTube. I’m a subscription service addict. lol Although I play a lot of video games too. 😉

G &T or Tea/coffee? Tea, or Milo. I don’t drink alcohol and I try to avoid caffeine because both have significantly negative impact on my Bipolar.

Perfect weekend? In bed with a book.

What did you want to be when you grew up? A writer. 🙂

Rebecca Laffar-Smith.

What is for dinner tonight? Tonight was roast pork (stepdad cooked – his remaining two meal options are silverside or roast chicken.)

Can you cook? Yes, but I have to be in a good mood to want to.

What would you rather be eating? Sushi!

What brings you joy, lifts your spirits, and chases away a down mood? Spending time with my children. 🙂

Your hero? 

Who is your Hero?

Wow, I really don’t know. There are a lot of people I admire and would want to emulate. Most of them are fellow writers although there are also a few entrepreneurs, adventurers, scientists, musicians, actors, etc. I can’t say I have any one particular person I hold to higher esteem and would consider my hero.

If you could choose three people to invite for a dinner party, who would they be and why? Way too difficult to narrow down that list. I’d welcome anyone who would want to hang out with me. Let’s do dinner. Any time. Everyone has their stories, their interests and passions, their inner being. I can enjoy the company of pretty much anyone.

You write in more than one genre. What drew you to them and how do you keep a balance between stories?

A balancing act?

To be honest, I don’t. I love lots of genres and I’ve got books in a multitude. Picture Books, Chapter Books, Young Adult, Romance Novellas, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Non-Fiction, even Game Lit. But my heart is most truly in the Y.A. Sci-Fi/Fantasy. And I bundle Sci-Fi and Fantasy together because I often find they overlap a lot.

These days I’m trying to focus solely on Y.A. because it’s very difficult to juggle multiple genres. It’s like having to build multiple careers. Each genre has different readers which means multiple target markets, multiple brands, multiple fan bases, etc. When my children were young we did the kids books as part of our home schooling and for a while I did romance or game lit just to put a few extra dollars in the bank, but these days I get to focus on the stories that are deeply true to myself and my own dreams and passions and inspiration which means I get to focus on Y.A.

A writer’s nightmare.

What do you think makes a good story? Characters learning to live into the best versions of themselves. Usually that means embracing their whole self, including their flaws, and figuring out how to chase big dreams or accomplish great things even in the face of adversity or challenge. I think all of us want to see people beat the odds. We want to believe in possibility.

Who doesn’t love a good story?

Are you a plotter, more organic, or a mix of the two? These days I’m definitely mostly a plotter. I’ve learned over time that the more foundation I lay before I begin the easier the writing process tends to be. I’ve also learned a great deal about story structure and character development. It’s something I now teach other writers because it was something that completely transformed me as a writer when I discovered it and I’ve been really thrilled to visit a few high schools in the past couple of years where they’re actually teaching this stuff to teenagers! They definitely didn’t teach it when I was in school.

How much research do you do for a story?

Research- seeking out the right facts.

 It really depends. Sometimes it can be a lot! Sometimes next to nothing. For example, I did very little research for Spirit Talker. Most of it came from lived experience or instinct. I did a little research into the school I chose for her and made sure I had a beta reader who was familiar with the school but beyond that I didn’t need to learn much. But for City of Light, book one of the Shadows of Nar, I did extensive research into ion engines, space travel, faster than light theories, impact of binary stars on planetary conditions, relative distance, etc. I needed to feel confident that I understood the inner workings of the science so that I could write with authority. But my key tip about research is to focus on what you need and leave as much as you can to the second draft not the first. You don’t necessarily need to know all the inner workings and if you research too much in advance then you’ll want to info dump it all into the book and for the most part you don’t need to. You need to know just enough to be confident that it works, and nothing more.

Where do you draw your inspiration for your stories from? Everywhere? It’s been so many years since I was last without a story to write that I really find this kind of question odd because there’s never a scarcity of inspiration or ideas. I wrote about my Idea Waterfall back in 2008 (https://www.rebeccalaffarsmith.com/idea-waterfall/).

What is the best advice you’ve had as a writer? There have been so many brilliant pieces of advice over the years and the “best” tends to depend on my current situation. For example, right now I really resonate with the mantra “it’s the catalogue not the book”. Out of context that sounds kind of lame but it’s been very powerful to me because I experience a LOT of anxiety about the writing process. I was getting so bogged down in wanting to get every single word perfect that sometimes it means I can’t even write a sentence, let alone finish a book. So my mentor taught me to remember that the success or failure of individual books isn’t worth getting hung up on because as a career author I’m building a catalogue of content. Lots of books. And each of those books will have people who love it or hate it. The more books I finish and add to my catalogue the stronger my foundations become. The more books I have the more fans will find me and the more books I’ll sell. So it reminds me to think big picture and to obsess less. Maybe that’s the true take away tip. “Think big picture. Obsess less.” lol

What’s your favourite part of the writing process? Least favourite?

Outlines and planning.

Favourite is outlines and planning. It’s the part that feels natural to me and the part I’m able to help others with the most too. I love developing story ideas, building story structure, fleshing out characters, and seeing the evolution of arcs.

Least favourite is the writing part… Writing is hard.

What’s your process for writing for the male perspective / male characters?

Men are not all alike!

 Um… Just write them? Seriously, men aren’t that alien. Sure, there are innate differences between a masculine and feminine character but gender and sex are two different things. A man can be macho or effeminate, and still be a man. A woman can be butch or delicate, and still be a woman. I think it’s important to understand psychology and behaviourism. To understand people. Observe, study, and analyse. When you do that then gender/sex becomes less of a thing to worry about because you’re writing every single character from their uniqueness. When you write sci-fi and fantasy you can’t obsess over gender, because then you’d have to go, “Well how do you write a dragon?” Or “How do you write an alien?” Or “How do you write a sentient flying fluffy creature that’s almost pet-like but has language?” Character is character; define the individuals traits, and write from within the embodiment of that.

What is the most difficult part about writing for you? First drafts. Primarily because of that anxiety I talked about earlier. I feel like there’s so much weight and responsibility in finding the best way to tell the stories I want to tell. Each of the books I write have deep cores. They have reasons for being that are really, really big. They’re way more than simple escapism. They all convey really complex themes and messages, hidden in the simplicity of story. I want my books to change people’s lives. That’s a lot of pressure to put on myself and it makes it really hard to face the page because a lot of the time I feel like I could never do justice the story that I want to tell. Lots of self-doubt. Lots of fear. I’m working through it, trying to unlock that place because I’d really love to “experience joy, calm, and confidence when I am writing” but it’s something I have to proactively build within myself.

Some writers love to write in cafes.

What is your work schedule like when you are writing? I wish I was consistent. I’d love to say I write from such and such to such and such every single day. But I don’t.  Especially lately because my chronic health issues are having a nasty flair up so some days I don’t even make it out of bed let alone get to my desk. I do, however, prefer to write in solid blocks at least 90 minutes at a time. And I love writing in cafes. Some days I’ll be in a cafe all day long; others I’ll manage to scrounge a lucky ten minutes while in bed. Some days I manage to get the writing done first. I try to do this because often by the end of a day I’m just too wiped out to be creative. But I’m still inherently a night owl so sometimes it’s not until the evening that I can actually carve out some time for myself and that means I could be writing into the early hours of the morning. So I guess that’s all to say I don’t really have a schedule. I’d like one but I haven’t been able to force myself to be consistent. Another failing I’ve been trying to work on but haven’t quite figured out how to correct. Lol

Scheduling, help or hindrance?

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk? I honestly have no idea! I wonder if my readers would be able to identify any particular quirks. I’ve been told that I have some odd sentence structure sometimes which I guess is quirky? 

Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions? There’s definitely things an emotion-less writer could write. In fact, they’d be ideal writers for content like research papers and new media. I’d also really love to read poetry by a writer who doesn’t feel emotions because they could still portray incredible imagery and observation. It’s really a question of what strengths and tone and voice could they convey? How well can they evaluate the emotions of others? We all write things that aren’t our lived experience so there’s no reason a person who doesn’t feel emotion couldn’t still be able to study it, understand it, and express it. I’ve never been in space but I can write about it based on research I’ve done from the experience of others.

Imagination can take you anywhere.

I have a condition called aphantasia, it’s the inability to see things with my mind’s eye. But that doesn’t make me unable to imagine or describe or create visualisations that others can experience. It also doesn’t make me unable to write characters who can see with their minds eye.

Having said that, I’d really love to meet a person who is entirely absent of emotion. My son is autistic and many people think people with autism don’t “feel” but I have to say from personal experience that his emotional depths are vast. He feels a great deal. He just has trouble expressing that emotion to others. And honestly, I’d love to read the creativity that comes from that unique kind of experience. We need those stories in the world because it’s through the unique perspectives of every writer than we come to better understand the human condition.

Best writing advice/ Worst writing advice you ever received? 

Row your own boat. One size advice doesn’t fit all.

Worst? “Write what you know.” OMG how limiting is THAT? There is so much I don’t know and I’d much rather have the freedom to explore that. Yes, all of my stories have a lot of what I do know built into them but mostly it’s emotional or social depths that come out there. Situationally I’d much rather explore possibility. I want to consider things that might not exist right now or could never logically exist. That’s what fantasy and sci-fi is all about. It’s living into the maybe spaces and asking, “what if?” That takes having the courage to write outside of what you know and to get creative doing it.

Best? “Write to market.” And more specifically, understand who your target reader is and what tropes and expectations that target market has. For example, there are clearly defined traits that make an Urban Fantasy different from a Paranormal Romance. Similarly, a Space Opera is not a Military Sci-Fi. Readers love the thing they love and if you want your books to succeed you need to know how to satisfy the reader. That means understanding what it is about the niche you write within that readers expect and then deliver above and beyond.

Best money you have spent as a writer? There are a few things that come immediately to mind. One is the illustrators I’ve hired for my children’s books. Both Anton and Adit have been absolutely brilliant and worth every penny. They’re very talented artists and their work makes those books something really special.

Buying her laptop was an investment.

Another was the first MacBook I bought in 2010. I bought it because I wanted to use Scrivener, which is novel writing software that I still use and love. At the time Scrivener was only available for Mac so I bought a MacBook and have absolutely LOVED the switch. I’m most definitely and Apple convert. And while it was a big investment at the time it’s been one of the best business expenses I’ve ever made.

Then of course there is always quality in investing in professional editing, professional cover design, and of course production of stock and marketing materials, even advertising. Investing in your business is all part of being in business.

Do you have a favourite author and why? Traci Harding is still my favourite although these days I have lots of other favourites. There are so many talented writers I admire and whose stories I enjoy, but Traci Harding is the reason I write the books I write. When I was a teenager, I read her Ancient Future Trilogy and discovered that fiction is an incredible gateway into truth. It allows big concepts to be conveyed with incredible receptivity. Fiction has the power to influence our beliefs and change our actions. I love writers who do that with their fiction.

Who doesn’t love getting lost in a good book?

What are you reading now? I’m actually going to decline to answer this directly because the book I’m reading right now is one I’m really struggling to like. The concept seemed really cool and the author is someone in Y.A. circles that I like, but the writing or voice just don’t work for me. I’m still holding on, hoping it gets better, but I’m not sure it will. And so, as I read, I pay attention to exactly what it is that’s feeling wrong and I learn from that. I think that’s an important thing for writers to do too. Don’t just read the great books, read the ones that aren’t great and figure out what doesn’t work and why. You learn from failure, your own and others. 🙂 I will say it’s a Y.A. Urban Fantasy that features reapers as the “special world”. See, cool concept, would be great if the execution were better. If you know any other Y.A. reaper stories please share because I’d love to read others.

What books or authors have most influenced your writing? Traci Harding as mentioned above. Lauren Kate’s Fallen series. Word Work by Bruce Holland Rogers. Isobelle Carmody’s Obernewtyn Chronicles. Demelza Carlton’s fairy tales. Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead. Then more generally authors more than their books Chris Fox, Derek Murphy, Joanna Penn, Lindsay Buroker, Serenity Woods, Sarah Painter, Brene Brown, Joseph Campbell, David Gaughran. I’m sure there are dozens more. Again, so many people to learn from and who share their wealth of knowledge and creativity with the world.

Favourite quote “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something is more important than fear.” The Princess Diaries (2001)

Favourite book/story you have read as an adult? Really hard to define a favourite but I’ve given a whole heap of titles above. 🙂

Sharing a love of reading, what a gift!

Favourite book/story you have read as a child? I was a huge fan of Roald Dahl as I child. I collected so many of his books and particularly loved Revolting Rhymes. Dahl was a master wordsmith. He played creatively with language. So many of the brilliant children’s book writers do that and the ones that do it brilliantly are remembered through time.

Thank you Rebecca for this insightful interview and wishing you every success with your new books.

Rebecca’s website http://www.rebeccalaffarsmith.com

She is currently offering TWO FREE BOOKS: Her debut, The Flight of Torque, and the first book in the Shadows of Nar Chronicles, City of Light.

The Flight of Torque: http://www.rebeccalaffarsmith.com/book/the-flight-of-torque/

City of Light: http://www.rebeccalaffarsmith.com/book/city-of-light/

Children’s books http://www.aulexic.com.au

Meet Versatile Writer, Sandi Parsons.

It’s a pleasure to welcome author Sandi Parsons to tell us about her contribution to the new anthology Growing Up Disabled  in Australia, edited by Carly Findlay.

Sandi Parsons.

Sandi is hard to categorise as a writer having written both fiction and non- fiction. The titles are ;

The Last Walk and Other Stories
Pepsi the Problem Puppy
The Mystery of the Sixty-Five Roses 

Along with pieces in the following anthologies:

Growing Up Disabled in Australia
Just Alice
Writing the Dream

Apart from her writing Sandi describes herself as , ‘a book nerd, librarian, cystic fibrosis survivor, and lung transplant recipient.’ She also a mum and a devoted dog owner.

Thank you for joining us- tell us about the new book which was released  recently. The book features contributions from forty people and I have since learned that one in five Australians have some from of disability.

Growing Up Disabled in Australia was released on February 2nd.

My story Don’t Have a Bird, is a love letter to my best friend Julie — with the first half detailing our physical growing up. After Julie died, the second half shows my emotional growth as I followed her footsteps in the transplant journey.

Quick-fire questions.

Late nights or early mornings? Early mornings – although I’m trying to write more later in the day.

When is walkies? First thing or Rotto cries. He’s a bit of sook.

What’s for breakfast? That is a very complicated question! I’m one of those people who can eat anything at any time of day. So, breakfast ranges from Saladas with Vegemite, re-heated leftovers, bread roll or muffin to traditional things like bacon and eggs or tomato sauce on toast … and occasionally salted peanuts and can of coke.

Breakfast can be many chocies.

Night out or Netflix? I’m a girl who likes to rock n’ roll all night and party every day so long as I’m home, on my couch, and in my pj’s by 9 pm.

What did you want to be when you grew up? A librarian who also writes books 😊 Ambition realized then!

Your hero? The hero of my story is a woman I will never meet – but her donated lungs have allowed me to have another chance at life.

Lungs

As you don’t show signs of disability, are people surprised when you identify as disabled?

In my case, media and medical professionals will refer to me as a ‘Cystic Fibrosis sufferer.’ An implication that my life is not worth living, full of suffering, and I am an object of pity.  It’s a term that falls smack in the middle of the social model of disability — which means that society disables more than the body does. I prefer the term ‘Cystic Fibrosis warrior’ — I’m at war, not only with my own body but also with a society where I am continually forced to break low expectations of my abilities. Others prefer the term ‘living with Cystic Fibrosis’.

It’s essential to check with someone to see which terms they prefer.

Sandi prefers to be known as a Cystic Fibrosis Warrior

How did you get started as an author?

My start was unique — in that, I had my first publishing contract before I’d written a word. I pitched an idea to Cystic Fibrosis Western Australia that there was a market gap, and we were the ones to fix it. The Mystery of the Sixty-Five Roses evolved from that meeting as a teaching tool to spark a discussion about Cystic Fibrosis.


Many would say you are extremely versatile; do you find it easy to switch from fiction to nonfiction?

Although I like to identify as a children’s writer, my nonfiction and memoir writing has had more published outings. Switching between the two was never my original intent — I received advice that sharing part of my story and journey with CF would help raise my profile and make my own voices middle-grade novel more attractive to a publisher.

Although my middle-grade novel is still looking for a publisher, that advice saw my writing diversify to become a hybrid of memoir, children’s fiction, nonfiction, and short stories. I think navigating between them has helped me become a better writer, but it’s also hard to classify what I do or identify a marketing niche.

Rotto and Chili looking quite unimpressed.

What is the most difficult part about writing for you?

I’ve always found first drafts to be especially tricky. Lately, I’ve been working on a dot point dirty draft process, which is essentially a list of all things I want to happen and which order, and it seems to help make that process a little easier for me.

The power of imagination.

Best writing advice/ Worst writing advice you ever received?

My Year 11 English teacher went on a rant about how I had spelled the same word wrong eight different times. She thought if I was going to get it wrong, I should be consistent about it.

If at first you don’t succeed…. keep trying!

I thought I had perseverance — I knew it wasn’t right and kept having a go. She marked me down to a D because of the spelling errors.

But spelling and grammar can be edited and fixed. However, there is very little you can do with a story that lacks imagination or emotion.  To me, the heart of a story will always be more important.

Best money you have spent as a writer?

Scrivener along with my yearly subscription to Grammarly.

Do you have a favourite author and why?

My favourite authors can change depending on what I’ve read lately. Right now, Jay Kristoff is topping my list — if for nothing else than the brilliant footnotes in the Nevernight series.

What books or authors have most influenced your writing?

Writers are readers and book lovers.

I think everything you read influences you to a certain degree — but one book had more of an impact than others — Robyn’s Book by Robyn Miller was the first book I read written by another person with Cystic Fibrosis. Until then, writing had been something I wanted to do — but the narrative society was telling me I didn’t have a future, so why bother trying? But if Robyn could write a book, then so could I.

Favourite quote (does not matter the source)

I’ve got two — one describes my writing style while the other describes precisely what happens when I have word salad.

“I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.”

― Shannon Hale

“I know you think you understand what you thought I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.”

― Alan Greenspan

Find out more about Sandi at www.sandiwrites.com.au

Photo by Secret Garden on Pexels.com

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

            _____________________________________________

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.


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.

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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 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.