What Did I Read In July 2020?

There were three categories of books this month.

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

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

Books about writing

Successful Indie Authorship by Craig Martell.

Indie Aurhor

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

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

Write to Market by  Chris Fox.

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

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

The Library Bag Selections

Ravenscliffe by Jane Sanderson

Ravenscliffe

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

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

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

Don’t  Go by Lisa Scottoline.

Dont GO.

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

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

More Than Words by Jill Santopolo.

Morethen Wrds

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

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

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

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

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

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

But the witches of Wormwood have other ideas…

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

The Secrets of Primrose Square by Claudia Carroll.

Primrose square Secrets

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

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

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

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

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

Welcome to Primrose Square.

My review

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

New Witch on the Block by Louisa West.

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

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

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

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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.

Meet Author B. Michael Radburn.

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

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Here is an extract.

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

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

What did you want to be when you grew up?

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

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

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

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

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Iconic Harley Davidson

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

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

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

What are your musical tastes?

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

 

Your hero?

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We all imagine we can be a hero

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

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

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

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A campfire cookout

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

Writing and other topics.

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

girl reading a newspaper

 

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

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

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A diverse community

 

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

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

 

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Women enjoy many genres including crime.

 

 

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

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

Do you get much feedback from women on your writing?

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

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

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

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

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Domestic violence a problem for men and women.

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

What time of the day do you usually write?

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

The Crossing

What is the most difficult part about writing for you?

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

What is your work schedule like when you are writing?

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

How long do you research for a book?

The Falls

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

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

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

I love that!

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Yellow Volkswagen Beetle Coupe

Do you have a favourite character that you have written?

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

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

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

Best writing advice/ Worst writing advice you ever received?

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

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

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

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

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

Do you have a favourite author and why?

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

What are you reading now?

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

What books or authors have most influenced your writing?

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

Balckwater moon

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

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

Favourite book/story you have read as an adult?

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

Favourite book when you were a kid.

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

Thank you so much for a fun and fascinating interview. 

About the author.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chatting with authors-Meet Crime Writer Sandi Wallace.

Sandi has a dual career as a fitness instructor and as a writer. So, she embodies the ‘a healthy mind in a healthy body’ concept.

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That’s a terrific way to put it, Sonia. I also like to think of it as balancing my active, outgoing side with my sedentary, solitary one; both are creative and fun. Anyway, thanks so much for inviting me in for a chat!

What do you like to do when you are not writing?

I read every day and it’s almost always crime fiction. I also love to garden, exercise, canoe, relax, visit the country, and be around great people. An evening at home, enjoying a glass of red wine with my hubby, wood fire glowing and popping, the pup at our feet, the cat on my lap, and a crime show on TV is my idea of bliss.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Since about the age of six, my dream was to be a crime writer.

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

A walk with the pup, inhaling the pure air up here on our hill, looking across to the nearby hills cloaked in a pretty blue haze never fails to relieve my computer-sore eyes or to put my worries into perspective, and it reminds me just how fortunate I am. Time in our garden, working or just relaxing, or a simple evening with my hubby also lifts my spirits.200508 IMG_1973

 

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

Chicken and salad. Hmm…a medium-hot Indian curry with peas–rice and garlic naan, or a beautiful Italian pasta dish. Mmm.

Can you tell us a little about your books?

Tell-Me-Why-low res

I’d love to! I have three rural crime thrillers—Tell Me Why, Dead Again and Into the Fog— along with a collection of short crime stories with central police characters, On the Job, all being re-released in fresh editions thanks to my new publisher. Even more exciting, two new titles will soon join the others. The second collection of my short crime stories, Murder in the Midst, is out 11 August and it features eight different women with one thing in common: serious crime. And my fourth rural thriller, Black Cloud, publishes on 22 July. I can’t wait!

My novels all star Melbourne journalist Georgie Harvey and Daylesford cop John Franklin. Combining Aussie Noir, parallel stories led by a journalist and a cop, and gritty rural fiction set in a variety of country locations, my novels can be enjoyed as standalone as the crime aspects are wrapped up within each one, though many people prefer to read them as part of the gripping series, following the lives of Georgie, Franklin and other cast members.

If you’d like to know more about my thrillers, please check out https://www.sandiwallace.com/new-aussie-noir/ or visit my Amazon or Goodreads pages.

On-The-Job-low res

What time of the day do you usually write?
I aim for ‘business hours’ for my work and switch focus to quality time with my family at night. In pre-Covid times, that meant my writing sessions fitted around my fitness industry commitments in that work time, but right now I have bonus availability for writing. And of course, I do work outside those hours when the mood or need strikes.

What is the most difficult part about writing for you?
I enjoy all parts of writing—from the first idea right through to professional editing and proofreading the final draft. Marketing is the trickiest part of being a writer for me. What I like most are personal appearances with the opportunity to talk to and connect with readers and aspiring writers.

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How long do you research for a book?

Research can be a big hole that writers fall into, so interesting, that they spend far longer on it than they need to. I try to be disciplined and focused on the process. For my fourth rural crime thriller, Black Cloud, it was important for me to better understand several technical aspects of the situation I was setting up before jumping into the actual writing, as these points held direct consequences for the timeline, action and events. From there, the story evolved quite organically, but there were some further knowledge gaps that I either flagged and addressed after the draft was down, or I initiated the relevant research and added it in as I went.

What drew you to writing crime?

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Another atmospheric cover

I was destined to write crime after deciding it was for me at that tender age of six. Admittedly, I was first drawn to the genre by enjoyment value—books that gave vicarious thrills and danger, broadened knowledge, explored other cultures and places, exercised the brain, and offered an escape from the real world. But I now love crime stories that offer social commentary about topical issues, situations that are believable, are relatable and happening to imperfect people. Reading—and writing—crime fiction makes sense of things and often brings a type of justice or resolution not always possible in real life.

Have you written in other genres?
Crime fiction is my writing passion, but I have written some short stories that aren’t a crime, along with a fair volume of articles and other non-fiction material to develop my writer’s bio and skills.

Did you ever consider using a pseudonym?
Not for my adult crime fiction. My lifelong dream was to write it, so I wanted to put my name to it. One thing I might try one day is writing crime or mystery books for children or young adults. In that case, a pseudonym would be useful to differentiate my books for my audiences.

Do you have a favourite character that you have written? If so, who? And what makes them so special?

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Yes, my two main characters, journalist Georgie Harvey and country cop John Franklin. It’s great to wear their skin, get inside their head, be in their world. Georgie is determined, strong, and sometimes reckless. Franklin is intelligent, loyal, and a maverick. Both have vulnerabilities, strengths and weaknesses, and both have character traits I’d like to own, and others I am happy not to. I am also fond of, and in some cases love to hate, other characters in each of my stories.

Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions?
We’re asking a lot of our readers. To invest in our stories. To care about our characters and the outcome of the situation we’ve built. To suspend disbelief at times. To care enough to finish the story. We want the story to resonate with readers after they finish and for them to recommend our books to others. It follows, then, that we need to feel it with them. While it can leave us vulnerable, a writer’s empathy and bond with their characters, story and readers are invaluable, is genuine and it shines through. (It is advisable to grow a thicker skin for other aspects of being a writer, though.)

Best writing advice you ever received?
Practice, practice, practice. Keep striving. Keep believing.

Do you have a favourite author and a favourite book, and why?
Oh, no! Naming one favourite author or one favourite book is like choosing a favourite child! I am an avid reader of Australian and international crime fiction. My preference is contemporary novels, and though I read many sub-genres of crime, I’m often drawn to rural crime thrillers, psychological thrillers, and police procedurals I also enjoy a good cosy when the mood strikes. I regularly feature my standout crime reads in my ‘Good Reads’ blog posts at https://www.sandiwallace.com/blog/.

What are you reading now?

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Writers are also readers.

Cause and Effect: Vice Plagues the City (Kind Hearts and Martinets Book 1) by Pete Adams, a stablemate in my new publishing house. Pete has a distinctive, witty, British style and his star is Detective Inspector Jack Austin, a ‘self-labelled enigma’ who runs the Community Police Unit from his deck chair, working a variety of cases while struggling with his mental health issues. Only a little way in, I’m enjoying its uniqueness very much already and know it’s going to take a more malevolent turn very soon.

Favourite quote (doesn’t matter the source)

‘You know it’s never too late to shoot for the stars. Regardless’ If today was your last day by Nickelback.

 

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Thanks so much for the chat, Sonia. I’ve had fun. I hope your followers have enjoyed it, too.

Its been fun -thanks, Sandi.

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Website https://www.sandiwallace.com/

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8431978.Sandi_Wallace

Amazon author page https://www.amazon.com/Sandi-Wallace/e/B00TTIYLVS

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/sandi.wallace.crimewriter

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

Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com.au/sandiwallace_crimewriter/

BookBub https://www.bookbub.com/authors/sandi-wallace

Book buy links

Tell Me Why http://mybook.to/tellmewhy

Dead Again http://mybook.to/deadagain

Into the Fog http://mybook.to/intothefog

Black Cloud http://mybook.to/blackcloud

 

 

Chatting with Authors- Meet Norman Jorgensen.

Hi, Norman, It’s great to be chatting such a versatile children’s author

I must ask, with your surname, do you have Viking ancestry. Some. My great-great-grandfather arrived in Australia from Denmark during the 1850s gold rush in Ballarat, and my grandfather grew up in Coolgardie in the Western Australian goldfields early in the 20th century. I’ve always like Norse myths and legends, though, and think Vikings were a little misunderstood. J   They can’t really have been that bad. Can they?

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Norman Jorgensen.

What do you like to do when you are not writing?

I read, of course, mostly historical fiction, and I love old black & white movies and Westerns, and I love travelling and photography. I am happiest tramping around the ruins of a medieval castle or exploring a smugglers’ village, with my camera running red hot.

What did you want to be when you grew up?  I can’t answer that – I never grew up!  No, I wanted to be Errol Flynn, swashbuckling star of Captain Blood, as well as a bunch of other pirate movies, and also Robin Hood and General Custer. I also wanted to be a Lieutenant in the US Cavalry, a Sergeant in the French Foreign Legion and a Spitfire Pilot in the RAF in 1940. Oh, and a Highwayman, a gunslinger, the Saint, and when I was about 14, I fancied myself as F Scott Fitzgerald, as played by Gregory Peck in the bio of his life called  Beloved Infidel. The idea of being a tortured literary genius appealed greatly at that age. Unfortunately, these days I am neither tortured nor a genius, nor even suave like Gregory Peck, or even Atticus Finch, more’s the pity.

 

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Pirates fired Norman’s imagination

What’s for dinner tonight? What would you rather be eating? It is Sunday night, so Jan and I are in for a perfect evening. A long hot bubble bath with the steaming water up to our eyes, until we get wrinkly toes, then pizza and red wine while watching a British crime drama on the TV.  What would I rather be eating? I’m happy with that, though a bowl of freshly-made pasta and Chianti while sitting on a terrace on a warm evening in Venice might be pretty good too.

Your hero? I have a lot of heroes, but especially my beloved Jan Nicholls. She is my biggest fan, but never reads anything I write until it is published, which is probably why we still get on okay. She is from Northumberland near the Scottish border where they breed them tough, but she is warm-hearted, kind, gorgeous, as sharp as a tack and incredibly funny.  The poor woman is addicted to books, though, and spends a great time of reading and promoting books in her role as President the Children’s Book Council here in WA.  Jan also likes travelling, so that fits in perfectly with me,  and I admire how she has navigated us across the world in search of exciting places for me to write about.

Another hero is my mother, Barbara, who is kind and gentle but has a backbone of steel. She lived in Broome in the 1950s when it was a derelict shanty town so far from everywhere, and brought up four boys often by herself for long periods while my father was away working. She moved to Perth and had a successful career at Channel 9 and is still a stylish, enthusiastic world traveller at 86 years old.

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Not all heroes wear a cape!

Next on my list is Winston. I am a big Winston Churchill fan, though I am well aware of his flaws and significant errors and subsequent disasters. US broadcaster, Edward Murrow, said of him, “He mobilised the English language and sent it into battle.” I hugely admire that ability he had. He stared down Hitler, ran the government, helped win WWII, and then went on to write 30 books and win the Nobel Prize for Literature.

If you could choose three people to invite for a dinner party, who would they be and why? My father and my grandparents. You never really get to say goodbye properly, so one lovely last evening with them would be wonderful. I still have so much I would have liked to share with them and so much still to learn. They were all great storytellers too, and I would have felt warm and safe and loved being in the same room with them again entertaining me with their tales of our family from long ago.

Now to questions about writing. I  think readers and writers alike are fascinated by how writers write, and how they get their ideas.

What time of the day do you usually write? I am scatty and erratic, hugely disorganised, and away-with-the-fairies half the time, so there is no pattern to my writing day. My latest manuscript, The Smuggler 3: Dragon’s Blood, was written under a palm tree by a pool in Phuket using an old leather-bound notebook and a fountain pen. It was only the first draft, but I got so much written with no electronic distractions and no reason to stop other than the need for a quick swim occasionally.

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Sometimes  pen and paper works better than the keyboard

What is the hardest part of writing for you? Revising and polishing.  I find researching the life and times of my characters and settings and then writing the plot reasonably enjoyable, but the constant need to turn out half-decent sentences while making sure the meaning is crystal clear and exciting at the same time is a real challenge for me.  I need to keep reminding myself not to include every single detail I have uncovered during the research, but to concentrate more on the hero’s journey and their interaction with the other characters.  Historical books often overload the minor details of the past, so the reader gets bogged down, and then fed up, and loses sympathy with the hero, and that can be fatal.

What is your work schedule like when you are writing? My schedule is pure chaos. Sometime I’ll spend all day procrastinating, while others I’ll be on a roll and write like a demon all day, ignoring everything and everyone in the real world around me. Other days, it will be four hours before I get bored with myself.  Ideas come at all times of the day and in odd places, so I have a box full of napkins, slips of newspaper, notebooks and movie tickets with random words and sentences hastily scribbled on them.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk? I tend to over-reference old movies, TV shows, books I read in the past, and even jokes, sometimes completely inappropriately for the dire situations in which I have placed my characters.  I am also on the lookout for humour in every case, which can be very annoying when Red, for instance, is seconds away from being eaten by a monster Tiger shark or being fired on by blood-thirsty pirates.

 

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Do you hear from your readers much? What do they say? Not too much. I do get great feedback from kids when I am giving school talks, and teachers often tell me how much their students enjoy my books. I did once get the best letter, though. It read, “Dear Mr Jorgensen, I know you don’t make much money from your writing, but rest assured, you are bringing great joy to millions of children all around the world.” Poor deluded fool they must have mistaken me for J.K Rowling.

I am guessing your readership is predominantly boys, am I right? I had imagined that was the case, but I am continually being proven wrong. Jack’s Island is studied and enjoyed in many girls’ schools, and I keep hearing that girls seem to like my character, Red Read, the teenage hero of The Smuggler’s Curse and The Wreckers’ Revenge. Several girls have asked for more romance in the sequels.

We both laugh and I suggest a comprise. Maybe you can write a choose your own adventure book to satisfy both boys and girls? Quick as a flash he comes back with ‘Choice one -Kiss the girl. Choice two -Jump overboard.’

Do you have a favourite character that you have written? If so, who? And what makes them so special.   Red Read, son of Mrs Read who owns The Smuggler’s Curse Hotel in Broome, is my favourite. His mother sells him as a cabin boy to Captain Black Bowen, a notorious smuggler. Red is just like 12-year-old me, except he is brave, fearless, athletic and resourceful, unlike me at 12 who was a snivelling coward and none of those things. He handles everything I was too scared to do like he is a full-on junior swashbuckler. And after all his hair-raising adventures, he ends up very rich, also unlike me.

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Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions? I don’t imagine so. You’d have to be pretty good at faking it. There is a saying in writing circles, “No tears from the writer, then there will be none from the reader.”

You’ve written children’s picture books and middle-grade fiction genre. Do you have a preference? I prefer mid-grade by far. Picture books are sooo difficult to write. The industry standard for them is 600 – 800 words over 32 pages, and trying to get the story that fills your head into so few words is nigh on impossible. Picture book stories are also told using a mixture of words or pictures, but not both, so your words are often cut as the illustrator takes over.  If your text reads, “It was a dark and stormy night,” and the illustrator paints a dark and stormy night, then your carefully chosen words become redundant and get cut.

With middle-grade, you can create more elaborate plots and landscapes and explore inside your characters’ heads. You are also leaving a lot more to the reader’s imagination.

How do you decide whether it will be a longer book or a picture book?  I see my stories in pictures in my head, just like watching a movie with a soundtrack and all, but some adventures will be far too long for 32 pages, so have to be turned into 60 to70,000 words instead. Interestingly, the three illustrators I have worked with, Allan Langoulant, Brian Harrison-Lever and my good friend, James Foley, have all had better pictures in their heads that I did, so, occasionally, I feel okay about my words getting the knife or the Viking sword.

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You mentioned a trip to the Shetland Isles – did that inspire The Last Viking?

The Last Viking was inspired by my nephew Ben Jorgensen adding horns to his bike helmet years before, and then by me overlooking James Foley’s portfolio where he had an illustration of a boy dressed as a medieval knight. Why not a Viking, I thought? When I approached James with the Viking boy idea, I suddenly had to come up with the story on the spot.

The Shetlands Islands did, however, inspire The Smuggler’s Curse.  R.L Stevenson’s father had been a lighthouse builder, and Robert had stayed in the same room as me as the Sumburgh Lighthouse. Learning this, I tried writing a pirate story just like R.L.S while there. It soon developed into a smuggler story set in Cornwall in 1810 and then, eventually, into an Australian sea story relocated to Broome in 1898, at the suggestion of my publisher, Cate Sutherland at Fremantle Press.

lighthouse on near body of water between rock formation

 

How much input do you have with your illustrators? Normally, none. Editors like to keep writers and illustrators apart, and often they are in different states. Brian Harrison-Lever lived in Tasmania, and I didn’t meet him until he had finished all the artwork for In Flanders Fields, though we did exchange emails.  I met Allan Langoulant once a week for dinner where he showed me his previous week’s work, but I had no say in it as it was already finished.  With James Foley, we did spend time working together on The Last Viking,  sharing jokes and me suggesting scenes and film references, and that seemed to work well as we had a shared love of movies.  The Viking books are heavily movie influenced.  James was able to add in a lot of his own humour, making my original plot and jokes much funnier.

Best writing advice? Don’t get carried away with the traditional, stereotyped idea of being a writer

Waiting for inspiration is for amateurs. Instead, just begin.

Starving in a Paris garret, suffering from TB, drinking yourself to oblivion on Absinthe like many, shooting wild animals like Hemingway, or going on the road like Jack Kerouac will only distract you. Just sit, turn down the lights, and actually type in one word after another until you fill a page, polish it, then do it again the next day until you fill another page. After a year, you will have 365 pages which should be enough for a book. That is advice from John Steinbeck, not me.

Worst writing advice you ever received? A teacher who read the manuscript told me to change the name of the title of In Flanders Fields as kids won’t know what it means, she said.  Luckily, I ignored her as the book is still in print 17 years later.  

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer

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My Lamy fountain pen from Germany and my Chinese fountain pen called The Black Dragon, the same name as the schooner in my latest books. I just had to buy it with a name like that.  Mostly, though, every dollar I ever spent on airfares has not been wasted.  I have visited every place my books are set as I believe it is important to be able to describe the settings in detail,  down to the smell of the drains, the feel of the sand between your toes and the sound of the monkeys screeching in the jungle trees.

How many unpublished/ half-finished books do you have?

Dragon’s Blood: Red 3 (Upper Primary Novel)

Sons of the Desert: The Journal of Harry White (YA Novel)

This Pen for Hire (Adult Comedy Novel)

The Illuminator’s Apprentice (Picture Book)

The Goldminer’s Son (Picture Book)

The Gr8 Escape (Picture Book)

Castaways on a Dessert Island (Picture Book)

Advance Australia Unfair (Picture Book)

The Final Mission of a Flying Tiger (Picture Book)

Mary Christmas   (Lower Primary Novel)

Who is your favourite author, and why?

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My favourite authors are Leslie Thomas who wrote The Virgin Soldiers and Dangerous Davies and Tom Sharpe, author of Wilt and Blott on the Landscape, both British writers who generally wrote satirical comedy novels about ordinary people living suburban lives while mayhem surrounds them. When Leslie died in 2014 and Tom in 2013, I was shocked at how saddened I was each time as if I had suddenly lost a part of me and a whole chunk of my early reading years. I didn’t know either of them, though I met Leslie Thomas briefly at a book signing after a talk he gave here in Perth. He answered ALL my questions then afterwards signed my book, “To my greatest fan, Norman”, and he wasn’t the least bit wrong.

I also love the work of Bill Bryson and have read every word of his. We are much the same age, and his gentle sense of humour matches mine exactly. The Lost Continent: Travels in Small Town America, about him looking for the small-town America of the old movies, is funny but also so sad as he slowly comes to realise that it has been lost and the towns have been devastated by enormous Walmart’s, huge car parks, endless fast-food joints, closed factories, empty shops and despair. His most successful book, Notes From a Small Island, about him revisiting the places he went when backpacking around Britain in the 1970s, is a joy to read. He gave his humour free rein, and I loved it, as I did with all his other books. He has since written 20 more.

What are you reading now? As usual, I have several books on my bedside table. This week it is Grant, a massive doorstop of a biography of General Ulysses S Grant, the US Civil War leader and President, by Ron Chernow. There is also The Last Dickens by Mathew Pearl an exciting books about copyright piracy in the 1870s, Mrs Kelly by Grantlee Kieza, about Ned Kelly’s mother, and to my absolute delight, an advance copy of Goldfields’ Girl by my great friend Elaine Forrestal just arrived this morning. I am really looking forward to reading this one.

What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?

Robert Louis Stevenson.  The Smuggler’s Curse has Treasure Island and Kidnapped all over it. I even called a character Bosun Stevenson in his honour.

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Norman loves to sail

I belong to the Society of Writers and Illustrators here in Western Australia, and I am always amazed at the quality of the books that our members produce. I admire so many of them as we really do have some remarkable talent in Perth.

In my genre, closest to my style of recent stories in John Flanagan, who wrote the Ranger’s Apprentice and Brotherband series. His historically-based, overly-brave teenagers sometimes seem a lot like my young characters

Favourite quote (doesn’t matter the source)

“If you are going through hell, then it is probably best to keep on going.”

Or maybe…  “Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense.”

Both quotes are by Winston Churchill.

Favourite book/story you have read as an adult

Dissolution by CJ Sansom. It is a historical novel (of course) about a lawyer called Mathew Sheldrake in the times of King Henry VIII when he set up the Church of England and destroyed the monasteries and abbeys across England. Samson captures the life and times of pots medieval Britain so well that you feel positively grimy after reading his work. He has since written a series about Sheldrake, all equally as good and just as grubby.

Favourite book when you were a kid Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, although Enid Blyton and Biggles were favourites when I was younger. 

What famous author do you wish would be your mentor? John Steinbeck, who wrote The Grapes of Wrath. He was the first writer to keep me awake all night reading. He wrote with such compassion for his characters who were based on real people suffering in the Great Depression, as well as perfectly capturing a sense of place of an American landscape destroyed by drought, greed and economics.  His writing is so flawless and seemingly effortless that you do not even notice the writing style as he has so successfully carried you away with the fates of his characters.  

What are you working on now? I am researching for a book called In Search of Constable Jack Kelly, Brother of the Outlaw Ned Kelly. Ned’s youngest brother, Jack, was a world-famous circus star performing stockwhip tricks and stunt riding for Wirth’s Circus in the early years of the 20th century. For a few years, he was, almost unbelievably, even a member of the Police Force in WA where he worked taming wild horses. After that, he left for the USA where he joined Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and then went onto a glittering career in England and then South America.

horse near trees

Do you enjoy school visits? I do about 120 school visits a year and usually enjoy them very much, especially with kids in upper primary classes. They typically are so enthusiastic and not yet self-conscious like their older school mates, and so pepper me with questions. My book, Jack’s Island, about my father’s experiences as a kid during WWII is studied in depth by many schools and, for some reason, the kids want every episode in it to be true. It mostly is true though sometimes exaggerated, and  I find it fascinating seeing what sections appeal or capture the imaginations of the readers. School visits are also essential for trying out chapters on the potential audiences to see their reactions.  Frequently, some instant editing takes place as I read aloud, and pages are mentally slashed and burnt.

Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me- I have really enjoyed talking with you and I am sure you have gained new readers eager to share in an adventure or two.

 

Here is a list of all Norman’s published books and awards

.NJ Publications and Awards. February 2020

Buy Books https://normanjorgensen.com.au/shop/

Email njbooks@bigfoot.com.au

Website http://normanjorgensen.com.au

Facebook http://facebook.com/norman.jorgensen

Instagram http://instagram.com/normanjorgensen

Twitter http://twitter.com,/normanjorgensen

Phone +61 408 932 196

 

 

 

Chatting with Authors- Meet Diana Smith

Hi Diana,

Thanks for joining us- can you tell us a little about yourself please? What do you like to do when you are not writing?

When I am not writing I like to run my gratitude workshops where I read my book and we do some activities on the benefits of Gratitude and resilience.

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Diana Smith.

Diana, what did you want to be when you grew up? As I grew up, I wanted to be a flight assistant and travel the world, or a train driver and I always loved my writing.  I wrote my grateful book when I was around 15 but only illustrated it and published it a couple of years ago. An editor friend of mine introduced me to Sarah and she had the same picture ideas as what I did, and it just grew from there and became a reality it was so amazing to watch.

What was your dream job when you were younger? My dream job when I was younger was to write books.

What’s for dinner tonight? What would you rather be eating? Dinner tonight is chicken wings.  I wouldn’t rather be eating anything they are my Favourite!  The hotter the better!

Do you have a hero? My hero here in Australia is Maggie Dent

Imagine that you could choose three people to invite for a dinner party, who would they be and why? Maggie Dent  Michelle Obama and Oprah.

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A toast to strong women.

Why? Because they are amazingly strong women who have made amazing changes to many lives young and old and I would love to listen to how they got where they are today.

              QUESTIONS ABOUT WRITING

 What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting out?

Just start to write don’t be scared there are editors and other people who can help you make it great just start!  Don’t be like me and put it off for years because you don’t think you’re good enough.

Which comes first, the plot or characters?  The plot.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?  Panster,  ( I had to Google what that meant)

How do you come up with the titles to your books? The titles are usually the theme of the book.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk? Um most probably the rhyming

Do you hear from your readers much? What do they say?  I do hear from my readers.  The teachers say they love reading my books to the classroom.

On a typical day, how much time do you spend writing?  I try to write for a couple of hours at least a day,  I am writing a book about my daughters’ journey at the moment so a completely different Genre.

Are you on social media and can your readers interact with you?

I am on social media;  my Facebook page is Bookstoinspire. My Instagram is bookstoinspirebydiana and my website is dianasmithbookstoinspire.com.

How many books have you written? Which is your favourite?

I think my favourite is the first one My grateful book.  I have written four that are being published and writing the other one about my daughter and one about my puppy.

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What is the most surprising thing you discovered while writing your books?   The most surprising thing I learnt was these are lesson’s I needed to learn later in life that I want children to learn earlier on.

Do you have a favourite character that you have written? If so, who? And what makes them so special? The favourite character would be the one I am writing about my red cloud puppy Bruiser he’s just so cute.

 

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Photo by Torsten Dettlaff on Pexels.com

What is the key theme and/or message in the book?   My key messages are all about gratitude, kindness it’s ok to be anxious it will soon pass

Are you working on anything at the present you would like to share with your readers?#

I am working on the puppy book at the moment and a book about my daughter and me and I have also just finished one about a clamshell being washed up on the beach.

How many plot ideas are just waiting to be written? Can you tell us about one?

I feel there may be a few more in the gratitude series.

Do you have any new series planned? I think the puppy book may have a few books in there we had adopted a parrot so he can be in some as well

We’ve just started a new year and I’ve seen lots of posts about new years’ resolutions. Do you have anything special that you’ll be focusing on this year?    I haven’t made any resolutions this year, but I will be focusing more on my writing and my gratitude workshops

Grateful-Book-Web-Product

QUESTIONS ABOUT OTHER WRITERs AND BOOKS.

What are you reading now?   I am reading happier than God by Neil  Donald Walsh

What book is currently on your bedside table? There is a pile of about 4 books on my bedside table

What books or authors have most influenced your own writing? Authors who have influenced me  Dr Seuss,  Roald Dahl,  Winnie the Pooh

Who is the author you most admire in your genre?  Roald Dahl

Favourite quote (doesn’t matter the source) You are good enough

Favourite book/story you have read as an adult?  Me before you by Jojo Moy

Favourite book when you were a kid? Winnie the Pooh

Diana-Conscious-Living
Diana presents workshops

Which famous author do you wish would be your mentor? :  Dr Seuss or Roald Dahl

 

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Photo by KML on Pexels.com

Can you tell us any fun facts about yourself? I was in New Zealand and I did the gap year in the army.  I was 16.  While I was in there, I buckled a wheel track on an APC which is a small army tank.

I love camping around Australia with my husband and our dogs in our camping trailer.

Do you have any unusual hobbies?   Writing lol

Favourite Movies:  Labyrinth and Me Before You.

Last Great book I read:  Blue Moon by Lee Child

Favourite Book as a teenager:  Nancy Drew!  Now that is showing my age !!

Thank you so much for agreeing to be interviewed, Diana. s

Is it A Love story Or A Romance?

 

Heartbreak ahead in a love story! Photo by Kerry Sikkema.

The classic definer of a love story is the film Love Story starring Ali Mc Graw and Ryan O’ Neal. It is based on the popular book by Erich Segal. It is a real tearjerker, with the beautiful young couple parted by death. It is a tragedy and almost all of the love stories considered great have sad or tragic endings.

Here are some examples taken from films and books. Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, Boris Pasternak’s Dr Zhivago, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, filmed and updated as West Side Story. Othello. More recently Iain Mc Ewan’s Atonement, John Green’s  The Fault in Our Stars.JoJo Moyes Me Before You, M.C Steadman’s The Light Between Oceans. And Cecelia Ahern’s  Ps. I Love you, and of course ,my all-time favourite Casablanca.

What can be more romantic than Paris?

Romances are different- they promise a reading experience or viewing experience that focuses primarily on the relationship between the couple or as Romance Writers of America says, “Two basic elements comprise every romance novel: a central love story and an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending.”

Or in simpler terms you are pretty much promised a happy ending and if not a happy ever after, at least the reader gets the happy for now ending.So if we know the ending why do we read romance?

We read for the journey, for the twists and turns of the relationship. A happy ending may be promised but getting there is half the fun. Who doesn’t love a flawed hero or heroine? Or beautiful couple too blind to see that they are destined for each other? Real-life can be dull and bland, but romances are exciting, sexy and fun. It’s far safer to have a fictional lover than a real one. Romance writers are endlessly inventive and contrive new ways for couples to meet and fall in love.

Romance from Unsplash

Examples of romances are Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and of course, it’s spin off’s Bridget Jones’ s Diary by Helen Fielding and the films Pride and Prejudice and Bride and Prejudice as well as the Bridget Jones trilogy of films. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte is a great read and has been filmed several times The fairy tales Cinderella and The Sleeping Beauty.

Some romance movies are Romancing the Stone, Breakfast at Tiffany’s( but not the book which ends differently) Moonstruck, Brokeback Mountain( a guy to guy romance) Ella Enchanted and a real oldie but a goodie  It Happened One Night.Another of my favourite films Love Actually spans both genres as it has both love stories with sad ending and romances with happy ones.

Why do you read romance and who are your favourite authors? Let me know!

 

The Contradictions of Being a Writer.

Many of the writers I know are a mass of contradictions, it left me wondering if this was an important part of a writer’s personality.

Writing can be an isolating occupation

The majority admit to being Shy or even Not Very Social and then they go out a give a presentation or an author talk or if you meet them at a writers’ convention and can’t get them to shut up! The lonely Introvert turns into a Show Pony. I myself know I  am guilty of this.

Conventions bring a mix of people together.

A  majority of writers suffer from Self-doubt and Insecurity.  Along with other creative types, many will admit to suffering from Imposter Syndrome. At times this manifests as a bout of  Crippling Insecurity with the fear of not being good enough accomplished enough. talented enough.

In spite of that, most managed to overcome it and submit their work to a critique partner, or even a contest or publisher.  If the work is accepted, after the initial rush of pride or satisfaction, it’s likely that self-doubt will surface once again.  Yet some compulsion drives us on, to write more, to try again to try and fail, to try and succeed, to improve.

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Courage to follow your dream

So what my fellow writers also have is courage, the courage to express themselves. To let their work speak for them, to expose their ideas to the judgement of others. My fellow writers, I  salute you for your bravery!

 

 

 

Guest Post – Questions for P.L.Harris – a.ka. Polly Holmes.

Today it is my pleasure to welcome P.L. Harris and her alter-ego Polly Holmes to chat with us about her writing journey. We first met at a book launch and I asked her if at some point she would be a guest on my blog. She is a busy and versatile writer who writes contemporary romance, romantic suspense as well as cosy mysteries. She also holds down a fulltime job as a teacher so her time is pretty full.

Peta Flanigan - P.L Harris
Author.P.L.Harris

What is your latest book about?

My latest book is the first in my Burrum Ridge romantic suspense series, In His Protection. It follows Melody Maddison as she discovers an old photo of her mother with a newborn baby that is neither her, nor her siblings. While she’ll do anything to uncover the truth, someone is willing to go to whatever lengths to keep the truth the secret, even if it means silencing Melody for good.

What inspired it? This book, in fact, the series, is inspired by my niece Kara-Lee through a brainstorming session about two years ago while visiting the Hot Springs at Mornington Peninsula in Melbourne. She asked me, what if you found a photo of Grandma (my mother) with a baby you know nothing about, what would you do?It kind of went from there and it has turned into a series of six books, one for each of the siblings and I can’t wait to write them.

InHisProtection (1)

 

Who is the main character?

My heroine is Melody Maddison. Her mother past away when she was 26 and she has been travelling for 2 years trying to deal with the loss leaving her sister Riley to pick up the pieces. Now she’s 28 and returned home to help her sister sort their mother’s possessions.

My hero is Noah St. Reeve. Noah has been working in Perth and decided to start his own security and protection business, but unsure where to base it. Seeing Melody almost run down by a car cements in his mind his course. To protect her at all costs.

Why should we care about them?

Everyone has a secret, and for Melody finding out the secret behind the photo may lead her to a long lost sibling. If she can uncover the secret she’ll be able to share with them how wonderful her mother really was. We want to find out who the baby is, for Melody’s sake. We want to know if Noah will be able to save her in time and most of all if Melody has the willpower and strength to save her own life in the face of danger.

person having tea while working
Often a love of reading leads to writing.

Did you always want to write?

I loved reading and writing stories, but no I never thought I was good enough to write a story that could be published. I loved to make up stories in my younger days. My imagination would always be racing ahead of me. I loved being in a world of make-believe, maybe that’s why I went into the theatre and became a director and drama teacher. A few years ago, I took some time out for me and I started reading again and I realised I could forget the worries of the world for that moment while I was immersed in the story.

 

Which books did you love as a child?

woman and a girl on bed holding a book
A love of reading begins in childhood

Sweet Valley High and Sweet Dreams romances were my all-time favourite books to read when I was growing up and I still have most of them today. I loved Nancy Drew, I suppose that is why I love writing mystery novels. Also, Enid Blyton’s the Wishing Chair.

You write in several genes Contemporary romance and Amateur Sleuths or cosy mysteries – was that deliberate choice or do you just have so many ideas? Which came first?

It wasn’t a conscious decision, I kind of stumbled into it. I always wanted to write contemporary romance and I knew I wanted to have drama and suspense in them. So I started writing contemporary romance first. I also knew it was a way for me to deal with certain things going on in my personal life and I could express it through my characters. I suppose you could say it was a kind of therapy.

Then when I was looking for a cover for Callie’s Dilemma I stumbled across Mariah Sinclair’s website where I did indeed find the cover, but also stumbled across the cupcake capers cozy covers and that was it I was hooked. I ended up buying 13 covers but had no idea what a cozy was. Crazy I hear you say. Yep, totally.

Cupcakes
Can you see why Polly Holmes fell in love with this cover?

 

In His Protection went on hold and I had to research the genre. What it was, what you can and can’t do, it was a whole new world. Then I posted on Amazon the dates I was releasing them in 2018. Why I did that I have no idea because it put me under so much pressure to get them out on time and at the same time I was staging the musical Lion King Jr at school.

In the end, it was a huge learning curve, but it also helped me realise that I love writing cozies and also romantic suspense.

Research into each writing style is the key. Know what the readers want and deliver. I had an email from a lady who loved my book but wanted a recipe in the back like everyone else does.

I do have to try and turn off one genre when I am writing another and that’s where my planning comes it. I love to plan my novel out.

 

What is the best writing advice you ever received?

Never give up no matter how much you feel like it.

questions answers signage
Asking for advice can bring positive results.

What is the worst? I’m not sure I have had any bad advice. It’s about knowing which bit of advice to take that will work for you and which bits to leave behind.

 

If you were starting now would you do anything differently?

I would definitely have learnt more about the self-promotion, social media side of the industry right from the start and started that much, much earlier. Follow the experts. If they have tried something and it didn’t work, think carefully if you are going to follow in their footsteps. I would have created another pen name for my different genres, which I have now done, but a year after the first cozy publication. Look out for Polly Holmes in the cozy mystery genre.

You sound incredibly busy how do you manage to fit it all in?

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Polly Holmes.

Sometimes, I don’t fit it all in. Although I work full-time, I want to write and I can’t let my busy schedule stop me. It’s something that I can do for me, something that makes me happy (When it’s all going to plan) I do have to try and prioritise especially around the busy times at school like exams and reporting time. Sometimes I am guilty of putting things in the too hard basket and then I feel guilty so out they come and I persist until I achieve it.

Often I ask myself is it worth it? The answer always turns out to be yes. In the long run, I know that I will succeed if I persist. Take the good with the bad and there is always more good than bad.

How long have you been published and how are you so prolific?

I have been published 2 years now and self-published 18 months. I think the key is persistence and learning as you go. You can’t get everything right the first time, but learning from mistakes allows you to improve the next time. Knowing what you want and setting the intention to achieve it.

 

Tell us three fun facts about yourself.

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What makes you smile?

That is a hard one and I’m not sure if they are fun facts. I love old musicals and sometimes I wish I was born back when Gene Kelly, Judy Garland, Ann Miller and the greats were around. Even though I can’t sing it doesn’t stop me from having a go when a great tune comes on.

If I hear music with a good beat, I have to dance no matter where I am. It’s in my blood.

I’m addicted to most reality TV especially House Rules, MKR, Masterchef. I know, it’s very bad.

It has been great learning more about your writing journey- thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us.

Book links:

https://www.amazon.com.au/His-Protection-Burrum-Ridge-Book-ebook/dp/B07MTQRPN7

https://www.amazon.com/His-Protection-Burrum-Ridge-Book-ebook/dp/B07MTQRPN7