Welcome to my last Q & A for 2022. I’m thrilled to be ending the year out with a bang with Colleen Chesebro here today talking about her brand new release – Fairies, Myths & Magic – A Winter Celebration, book II. Colleen wanted this book out just in time for the winter solstice, which makes it extra enjoyable to read during the festive season. Colleen is an author, poet, and recently began her publishing business – Unicorn Cats Publishing.
An avid reader, Colleen M. Chesebro rekindled her love of writing poetry after years spent working in the accounting industry. These days, she loves crafting syllabic poetry, flash fiction, and creative fiction and nonfiction.
In addition to poetry books, Chesebro’s publishing career includes participation in various anthologies featuring short stories, flash fiction, and poetry. She’s an avid supporter of her writing community on Word Craft Poetry.com by organizing and sponsoring a weekly syllabic poetry challenge, called #TankaTuesday, where participants experiment with traditional and current forms of Japanese and American syllabic poetry.
Chesebro is an assistant editor of The Congress of the Rough Writers Flash Fiction Anthology & Gitty Up Press, a micro-press founded by Charli Mills and Carrot Ranch.
In January 2022, Colleen founded Unicorn Cats Publishing Services to assist poets and authors in creating eBooks and print books for publication. In addition, she creates affordable book covers for Kindle and print books.
Chesebro lives in the house of her dreams in mid-Michigan surrounded by the Great Lakes with her husband and two (unicorn) cats, Chloe & Sophie.
In this second book in the Fairies, Myths, & Magic series, step into a world where dark fairies and other magical beings converge in a collection of poetry and short stories inspired by winter and the celebration of the winter solstice.
From autumn’s scary fairies to the forgotten female characters of Yule, prepare to embrace the magical winter solstice myths from around the world. Meet Frau Holle in the Wild Hunt, Befana—the Christmas Witch of Italy, and the Japanese goddess Ameratasu who controls the springtime. Prepare to embrace the Scottish trows, the Irish Goddess of Winter—the Cailleach Béara, and Snegurochka—the Snow Girl.
Learn how to make Yuletide rituals part of your celebration by embracing the symbols of Yule by decorating with evergreens and crystals.
Celebrate the Landvættir
each Yule, we pay homage to the land spirits,
Landvættir—guardians of the terra firma earth, air, fire, and water jointly bound as one
where the ley lines converge strength and energy exist in a parallel space, winter-worn bronzed leaves on barren trees
watchers of the truth
birth, life, death, and rebirth, earth magic abounds
I’ve been so busy lately, but when I have spare time, I like to crochet with thread. I make old fashioned doilies. Just like I count syllables in my poetry, I count stitches in my crochet!
This is a photo of a doily I crocheted as a gift for a friend. Working with my hands as always been something I enjoyed.
D.G. – You are multi-talented Colleen. That’s beautiful. .💜
Where do your book ideas grow from?
It seems I always have a book idea rolling around in my mind. Most of the time, something pops into my mind and I’m off to write down the idea, so I don’t forget it. I have a notebook full of ideas! The notes app on my iPhone is full of ideas too. If I don’t write them down… they’re gone!
Writing poetry and short stories is something I enjoy. Not long ago for one of my #TankaTuesday poetry challenges on Word Craft Poetry, our prompt was to choose a color. The next thing I knew, I’d written a poem about the throat chakra featuring the color, blue.
the blue throat chakra… a nexus to the divine blue hues of heaven serene, calm, tranquility found in a blue sky, slow down, make time to be still listen to your voice
obey the stillness within blue the color of pure mind uncluttered by thoughts in silence, one can perceive blue—the purest mind open wide… the throat chakra your seat of creativeness
From that single poem, I birthed the idea to write a book called Chakra Poetry. See how easy it is to be inspired?
D.G. – I think many of us have that same syndrome – forgetting great ideas shortly after they arrive, lol. Yes, writing down is essential. 🙂
Would you like to share with us what upcoming projects and/or ideas for books you’re working on?
I find inspiration everywhere but most often I’m motivated by other poets. One day, during one of my poetry challenges, another poet asked me about the difference between the Japanese poetry forms: zappai and haiku. I didn’t know the answer. Well, that lit a fire under me to find more!
I love to research, so off I went. I had to learn everything I could about these two Japanese forms. In fact, I’ll take this a step further and add senryu poetry to it. My next non-fiction book will be called “Haiku Craft: haiku, senryu, & zappai.” Of course, this is a tentative title and can always change. My main objective will be to take a deep dive into these forms by showing examples and creating some poetry of my own to use as examples.
I’ve also been playing with the idea of a book called Tarot Poetry. I think it would be fun to research each tarot card and write poetry inspired by the different cards. I like the blend of non-fiction and poetry. I will need to find a tarot card artist who is willing to allow me to use their tarot card images (with permission). Much of what is found on the card is what characterizes the meaning.
I won’t share all my secrets because I like to have a few things left to dazzle my readers.
D.G. – Oh! I love that idea about writing about Tarot cards! 🙂
What’s your opinion on self-publishing?
Self-publishing was a dirty word for many years. However, it’s been my experience that self-published books are as good as those published by major publishers. I’m a self-published author, and proud of it!
I subscribe to Kindle Unlimited, the Amazon sharing program. I think I pay $9.00 a month to borrow novels from any author who participates in the program on Amazon.com. What I read; I review. The author gets paid a stipend for the number of pages read. In fact, some months, I make more on the stipends than I do in book sale royalties.
So, it came as a shock when I found the likes of Dean Koontz and other well-known authors participating in the KU program. These authors have publishing contracts, and they are competing with self-published authors for the same stipends! Suddenly, self-publishing doesn’t look all that bad, does it? Seriously, if you’re an author you should be listing your books in the KU program. It’s another revenue stream.
To make self-publishing easier, I founded Unicorn Cats Publishing Services to help poets and authors publish their books. One reason I undertook this mission was because of the font licensing, which is a huge concern for authors and bloggers. If you self-publish your book using Word, you could face issues with font licensing. Read: Font Copyright Laws for Books: Your Print Book Could be in Violation
I use the Atticus publishing program recommended by Kindlepreneur for manuscript preparation. The fonts are owned by the program. They continue to research different licensing options to protect all our authors as well as ensure everything is safely and legally handled through Atticus.
I also offer affordable book cover options using Canva-Pro. Canva has an extensive selection of fonts. When you subscribe to their Pro plan you are covered under their licensing for fonts.
I believe self-publishing will continue to be the wave of the future. The big publishing houses won’t even read your manuscript unless you are famous. If you can get picked up by a small press, that’s wonderful news. Write ON!
D.G. – Thank you for sharing that all with us Colleen. I would have to guess that many self-published authors aren’t aware about the copyright laws of publishing from Word.
Special thanks to Debby for her friendship and support. I appreciate you! 💜
I’m happy to be welcoming back author Jacqui Murray to my blog to feature her new release in her pre-historic fiction series – Natural Selection (Book 3 in the Dawn of Humanity series). Jacqui is also a tech teacher and has authored almost 60 books, in fiction and nonfiction. I’m happy to be part of Jacqui’s blog tour and promoting her new book, which was released late last month. Today we’ll get to know a little more about Jacqui and her books.
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Man vs. Nature saga, prehistoric fiction, and Rowe-Delamagente thrillers. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, and Amazon Vine Voice, and is a freelance tech ed journalist. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Savage Land Fall 2024.
In this final book of the trilogy, Lucy and her tribe leave their good home to rescue captured tribemembers who are in grave danger. Since leaving her mate, Lucy created a tribe that includes an eclectic mix of species–a Canis, a Homotherium kit, and different iterations of early man. More will join and some will die but that is the nature of prehistoric life, when survival depends on a mix of man’s developing intellect and untiring will to live. Each brings unique skills to the task of saving Raza and his Group from sure death. Based on true events from 1.8 million years ago in Africa, Lucy and her band of early humans struggle against the harsh reality of a world ruled by nature, where predators stalk them and a violent new species of man threatens to destroy their world. Only by changing can they prevail. If you ever wondered how earliest man survived but couldn’t get through the academic discussions, this book is for you. Prepare to see this violent and beautiful world in a way you never imagined.
What are your writing goals for this year?
I have an overarching theme as it relates to my prehistoric fiction: to bring the critical go- nogo periods of man’s evolution alive for readers. The first trilogy, Dawn of Humanity, told how earliest man stepped away from the apes and survived the feral world of prehistoric earth. The second trilogy, Crossroads, chronicles man’s exodus from Africa as we spread throughout Eurasia regardless of threats, harsh climate, and unknown dangers. The next trilogy—Savage Land–will address a time 75,000 years ago when nature almost defeated us. Since I know little of that time period or the species of man who inhabited it, I’ll spend the next year researching, something I love doing!
D.G. – Amazing researching man’s evolution – almost like being an archeologist.
How many books have you written? Do you have a favorite of your books and if so, why?
I’ve written dozens of non-fiction books, all related to the use of technology in education. The other non-fiction I wrote is Building a Midshipman, the story of my daughter applying to the United States Naval Academy, one of the premier science and engineering schools in the US. Though a memoir, it is also a how-to book for high school students who may think their dreams exceed their reach, share with them how to make that happen.
After that, I wrote two thrillers, the start of a series centered around Navy life. I have a third drafted, but decided instead to pursue a passion I’ve had for several decades, to explore how our ancestors survived a paleo world in which we were ill-equipped to compete. I’ve written six books in this series, called Man vs. Nature, and have just started on the third trilogy. Right now, that continues to be my lodestar. I don’t know if that’s a gift to know what my next book will be or a condition. Whichever, I know I have to follow it.
D.G. – You are such a dynamo Jacqui!
What is your favorite social media network as an author, and why do you find it effective?
I don’t really like any of them. As a tech teacher, with a daughter who works in cybersecurity and a son in satellites, I know too much about the dangers of social media and the internet to be comfortable with any of them. I have a business and professional presence in Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram, but keep them generic and non-personal. I avoid those like Tik-tok that make no secret of their lack of protection for the private information of users.
D.G. – I’m with you on social media. I wouldn’t miss any of it if they all closed down – except messenger where I can keep in touch with people.
One Pack Ends, Another Begins
The Canis’ packmates were all dead, each crumpled in a smeared puddle of blood, Upright killing sticks embedded where they should never be. His body shook, but he remembered his training. The killers’ scent filled the air. If they saw him—heard him—they would come for him, too, and he must survive. He was the last of his pack.
He padded quietly through the bodies, paused at his mate, broken, eyes open, tongue out, pup under her chest, his head crushed. A moan slipped from his muzzle and spread around him. He swallowed what remained in his mouth. Without a pack, silence was his only protection. He knew to be quiet, but today, now, failed.
To his horror, a departing Upright looked back, face covered in Canis blood, meaty shreds dripping from his mouth, the body of a dead pup slung over his shoulder. The Canis sank into the brittle grass and froze. The Upright scanned the massacre, saw the Canis’ lifeless body, thought him dead like the rest of the decimated pack. Satisfied, he turned away and rushed after his departing tribe. The Canis waited until the Upright was out of sight before cautiously rising and backing away from the onslaught, eyes on the vanished predators in case they changed their minds.
He had planned to descend into the gully behind him. Sun’s shadows were already covering it in darkness which would hide him for the night, but he had gauged his position wrong. Suddenly, earth disappeared beneath his huge paws. He tried to scrabble to solid ground, but his weight and size worked against him and he tumbled down the steep slope. The loose gravel made gripping impossible, but he dug his claws in anyway, whining once when his shoulder slammed into a rock, and again when his head bounced off a tree stump. Pain tore through his ear as flesh ripped, dangling in shreds as it slapped the ground. He kept his legs as close as possible to his body and head tucked, thankful this hill ended in a flat field, not a river.
Or a cliff.
When it finally leveled out, he scrambled to his paws, managed to ignore the white-hot spikes shrieking through his head as he spread his legs wide. Blood wafted across his muzzle. He didn’t realize it was his until the tart globs dripped down his face and plopped to the ground beneath his quaking chest. The injured animal odor, raw flesh and fresh blood, drew predators. In a pack, his mate would purge it by licking the wound. She would pronounce him Ragged-ear, the survivor.
Ragged-ear is a strong name. A good one.
He panted, tail sweeping side to side, and his indomitable spirit re-emerged.
But no one else in his pack did.
Except, maybe, the female called White-streak. She often traveled alone, even when told not to. If she was away during the raid, she may have escaped. He would find her. Together, they would start over.
Ragged-ear shook, dislodging the grit and twigs from his now-grungy fur. That done, he sniffed out White-streak’s odor, discovered she had also descended here. His injuries forced him to limp and blood dripping from his tattered ear obstructed his sight. He stumbled trying to leap over a crack and fell into the fissure. Fire shot through his shoulder, exploded up his neck and down his chest. Normally, that jump was easy. He clambered up its crumbling far wall, breaking several of his yellowed claws.
All of that he ignored because it didn’t matter to his goal.
Daylight came and went as he followed White-streak, out of a forest onto dry savannah that was nothing like his homeland.
Why did she go here?
He embraced the tenderness that pulsed throughout his usually-limber body. It kept him angry and that made him vicious. He picked his way across streams stepping carefully on smooth stones, their damp surfaces slippery from the recent heavy rain, ignoring whoever hammered with a sharp rock inside his head. His thinking was fuzzy, but he didn’t slow. Survival was more important than comfort, or rest.
Ragged-ear stopped abruptly, nose up, sniffing. What had alerted him? Chest pounding, breathing shallow, he studied the forest that blocked his path, seeking anything that shouldn’t be there.
But the throbbing in his head made him miss Megantereon.
Ragged-ear padded forward, slowly, toward the first tree, leaving only the lightest of trails, the voice of Mother in his head.
Yes, your fur color matches the dry stalks, but the grass sways when you move. That gives away your location so always pay attention.
His hackles stiffened and he snarled, out of instinct, not because he saw Megantereon. Its shadowy hiding place was too dark for Ragged-ear’s still-fuzzy thinking. The She-cat should have waited for Ragged-ear to come closer, but she was hungry, or eager, or some other reason, and sprang. Her distance gave the Canis time to back pedal, protecting his soft underbelly from her attack. Ragged-ear was expert at escaping, but his stomach spasmed and he lurched to a stop with a yowl of pain. Megantereon’s next leap would land her on Ragged-ear, but to the Canis’ surprise, the She-cat staggered to a stop, and then howled.
While she had been stalking Ragged-ear, a giant Snake had been stalking her. When she prepared her death leap, Snake dropped to her back and began to wrap itself around her chest. With massive coils the size of Megantereon’s leg, trying to squirm away did no good.
Ragged-ear tried to run, but his legs buckled. Megantereon didn’t care because she now fought a rival that always won.The She-cat’s wails grew softer and then silent. Ragged-ear tasted her death as he dragged himself into a hole at the base of an old tree, as far as possible from scavengers who would be drawn to the feast.
He awoke with Sun’s light, tried to stand, but his legs again folded. Ragged-ear remained in the hole, eyes closed, curled around himself to protect his vulnerable stomach, his tail tickling his nose, comforting.
He survived the Upright’s assault because they deemed him dead. He would not allow them to be right.
Sun came and went. Ragged-ear consumed anything he could find, even eggs, offal, and long- dead carcasses his pack normally avoided. His legs improved until he could chase rats, fat round ground birds, and moles, a welcome addition to his diet. Sometimes, he vomited what he ate and swallowed it again. The day came he once again set out after what remained of his pack, his pace more sluggish than prior to the attack, but quick enough for safety.
Ragged-ear picked up the female’s scent again and tracked her to another den. He slept there for the night and repeated his hunt the next day and the next. When he couldn’t find her trace, instinct drove him and memories of the dying howls of his pack, from the adults who trusted their Alpha Ragged-ear to protect them to the whelps who didn’t understand the presence of evil in their bright world.
Everywhere he traveled, when he crossed paths with an Upright, it was their final battle.
Trailer for Natural Selection:
Set 1.8 million years ago in Africa, Lucy and her tribe struggle against the harsh reality of a world ruled by nature, where predators stalk them and a violent new species of man threatens to destroy their world. Only by changing can they prevail. If you ever wondered how earliest man survived but couldn’t get through the academic discussions, this book is for you. Prepare to see this violent and beautiful world in a way you never imagined. Based on true events.
A perfect book for fans of Jean Auel and the Bears!
Today I’m featuring Jaye Marie here to promote her new release, Ghost of a Chance. This is book 4 in her DI Snow series.
Jaye Marie came to writing rather late but has always loved books.
She enjoys reading many different genres, so was surprised to discover a passion for writing detective thrillers. Four of them to date, with more to follow.
She also enjoys running a website/blog, https://jenanita01.com and loves meeting all the wonderful people who drop in to say hello!
A damaged detective, out of a job A relationship on the rocks What does the future hold for David Snow? Just when he thought life couldn’t get any worse A ghost with a grudge adds to his pain A ghost hell bent on stopping him from rebuilding his life…
Mae Clair 4.0 out of 5 stars Dark crime fiction with a splash of the supernatural Reviewed in the United States on 5 October 2022 Verified Purchase
Although this book is a continuation in a series, the author did a good job of establishing characters and their past relationships. As a reader I felt on firm footing. The story is told from alternating POVs, all in third person, with the exception of the MC, David Snow, a former DI, who has suffered a debilitating injury that has changed his career path. We get his POV in first person. While the story itself is gritty, the writing is polished, and the pacing strong. The writer has a deft hand with dark investigative crime. A splash of the supernatural adds an intriguing element to this hard-hitting tale that explores the bleaker side of human nature and relationships.
The Interview that Inspired me to write Ghost of a Chance
One of my characters had been in my head a lot lately, constantly nagging me about something. He has featured in three of my books, and I think anyone who has read my work will remember DI Snow. The detective who helped Kate Devereau in Nine Lives, saved her life in Out of Time, and failed miserably to forget her in Crossfire.
I wondered what was on his mind.
I invited him to my office to find out.
‘You have exactly five minutes to say what is on your mind, David, as I am trying to work.’
He looked wonderful, but then he has always been one of my favourite people. Looking just like Tom Selleck from the Jesse Stone tv series, he sprawled in my writing chair, slowly rocking it backwards and forwards, his eyes never leaving my face.
‘I want to know when you will be writing another story for me?’ The corners of his mouth lifted slightly, along with one eyebrow. ‘I have missed seeing you every day, Jaye.’
My insides were melting fast, and right then I would have agreed to anything.
‘There is the small matter of a decent plot…’
He shrugged, as if that was of no consequence.
‘Do you have any idea how hard it is to create a plausible detective story?’
He stood up, towering over me as I sat on the uncomfortable visitor’s chair. ‘You have managed it very well up to now, Jaye. Anyway, I do have an idea, or rather a desire. My marriage is over, mainly because I cannot forget Kate. I want to find her again. You do know where she is?’
I was speechless, which was just as well, for I was desperately trying to imagine what Kate might be doing now. The last time I saw her, she was going to find somewhere to paint herself better. Supposing I couldn’t find her?
As if he could read my mind, David Snow sat back down in my chair.
‘I know how busy you are, Jaye. You probably have several projects on the go, but I’m hoping writing a new story could be one of them. I’m not leaving until we have an agreement.’
Let’s Get to Know a Bit More about Jaye:
What hobbies do you enjoy when not writing?
This is an awkward question, but I chose it for a reason. I have always been a busy person, always up to something. Arts and crafts, dressmaking, gardening, and home decorating. My favourite hobby are my bonsai trees. Unfortunately, due to the increasing pressure of writing, sometimes my hobbies have to take a back seat. Not having all the time in the world, at least not enough for everything I love or need to do, I try to make time now and then. Especially for my bonsai. They have priority because they are living trees and most of them have been with me for years…
D.G. – That is beautiful 🙂
How has writing changed your life?
When I was a child, I read everything I could get my hands on. When my appendix had to be to removed, aged eleven, I read my way through all the books on the shelf in the hospital. Books have always been my friend, I used to dream about being a famous author. Of course, life not only got in the way, but it also put a stop to the day dreaming too. I was in my sixties when I started writing, and I can honestly say that my life has never been better. I feel content now and more confident in myself. Something I never felt before. I took a long time getting here, but so glad I made it…
D.G. – I think books have been a saving grace for many of us writers. 🙂
What prompted you to write in your chosen genre?
In many ways, I am still not sure why I chose mystery detective fiction, as it wasn’t my first choice. In the beginning, I tried writing children’s books, then poetry and contemporary fiction. (in other words, any old rubbish that happened to be in my head at the time). I think I liked the idea of writing, but it would be a while before I found what really motivates me. This might be because I am hooked on those popular TV series. And medical dramas. I am surprised I haven’t tried writing one of those yet.
My favourite detective, DI David Snow has been with me for four of my books. Based on my love of Tom Selleck, he is getting old now, so I might have to find someone else eventually…
D.G. – I always find it interesting to learn what motivates a writer to write in a certain genre.
How do you promote your work. Do you find marketing and social media overwhelming?
Not sure why I chose this question, for marketing is a bit of a nemesis for me. I do promote my work on our website and social media regularly. My books are on multiple book outlets too, but I haven’t ventured into advertising yet. I have it on good authority that some kind of paid advertising is the way forward, but I have always been reluctant to spend any money, basically because I don’t have much of the stuff to spare! I am old and retired, and definitely related to those poor church mice! I have been saving up, so I will possibly be taking the plunge quite soon, if the fates allow…
D.G. – You are certainly not alone when it comes to the promotion dilemmas. This is why it’s great to be part of a great writing community. 🙂
What’s your favourite mode of writing – computer, hand written, dictation, and why?
I have been writing for nearly ten years and must have tried every method there is, to get my words in some sort of order. In the beginning, of course, I scribbled in a lot of notebooks, transcribing everything to an ancient typewriter. You wouldn’t believe how much correction fluid I used in the process. Learning how to use the word processor on my first computer slowed me down, but I soon got the hang of it. It was so much quicker and far easier to use, and I started to feel like a real writer. I was still writing in my notebooks first. My brain has never liked working straight to the screen. Eventually, I realised I needed a better way. Since mastering dictation, my writing has speeded up considerably, leaving a lot more time for my imagination to run riot…
D.G. – I’m with you all the way on pen and paper. I just don’t feel creative in front of the screen.
Excerpt from Ghost Chance
A faint whisper of flowers greeted me when I opened the front door, but I thought nothing of it at the time. Jane’s perfume still lingered, even after her departure.
My mind was busy, wanting to check out some estate agents. I decided to make coffee before switching on my iPad. I filled the kettle and noticed somebody had moved the rubbish bin. I lifted the lid and found it empty but didn’t recall doing it. I probably had, but my brain was nothing like reliable these days.
Back in the living room, I was about to sit down when I thought I heard a noise upstairs. It sounded like someone closing the wardrobe door.
My detective alarm system had been dormant for so long, and for a moment, I didn’t know what to do. Was there someone upstairs, or did I imagine it? Perhaps it was coming from next door?
Then a floorboard creaked. It was the one by the bedroom door, and I knew I had a visitor.
I made my way to the bottom of the stairs and listened. The silence was deafening, made more so by my straining to hear something. I heard nothing to suggest there was anyone up there. I made my way up the stairs, pausing on the landing. Which room should I check first?
Seconds before I made that decision, the spare room door opened. My breathing slowed as I waited to see what would happen next. It did occur to me that I should have just stormed in, the element of surprise. But it turned out to be me who was surprised.
The look on my wife’s face was a picture when she walked through the door and found me standing with my mouth hanging open.
‘What are you doing here, David?’
Not a terrific way to start, I thought, annoyance raising its head at the sheer affrontery. ‘I do still live here, you know. More to the point, what are you doing here?’
We stood on the landing, several feet apart. Neither of us was happy to see the remains of our once beautiful relationship.
‘None of your business…’ she said, passing me on the way to the stairs.
I watched as she tried her best to stomp down the stairs with attitude, but the large suitcase she dragged behind her spoiled the effect.
I wanted to say so much, so what do you think came out of my mouth?
Mr Nasty, that’s who.
‘Before you go, Jane, leave your keys on the hall table; I am selling this place.’
She looked up at me, an unreadable expression on her face. ‘You enjoyed that, didn’t you?’ I had already regretted it, so I decided to be honest. It wouldn’t hurt, especially now.
‘No, actually, I didn’t.’
‘Then why say it? Or were you trying to hurt me?’
So, it had hurt. I had given up trying to reason with Ms Hard as Nails, convinced she couldn’t care less about anything, especially me.
‘In a way, I suppose I was trying to hurt you. A vain attempt to make you feel as bad as I do.’
Neither of us spoke. We stared at each other with a mixture of frustration and desperation (mine).
‘Get down here, David and put the kettle on. We need to talk…’
Welcome to my September Q & A. Today I’m happy to be featuring, friend and author Trish Power who writes under the pen name of Alex Craigie. Her recent release, Means to Deceive, a psychological thriller, which I’ve read and reviewed, is her latest release.
Alex Craigie is the pen name of Trish Power.
Trish was ten when her first play was performed at school. It was in rhyming couplets and written in pencil in a book with imperial weights and measures printed on the back.
When her children were young, she wrote short stories for magazines before returning to the teaching job that she loved.
Trish has had three books published under the pen name of Alex Craigie. The first two books cross genre boundaries and feature elements of romance, thriller and suspense against a backdrop of social issues. Someone Close to Home highlights the problems affecting care homes while Acts of Convenience has issues concerning the health service at its heart. Her third book. Means to Deceive, is a psychological thriller.
Someone Close to Home has won a Chill with a Book award and a Chill with the Book of the Month award. In 2019 it was one of the top ten bestsellers in its category on Amazon.
Eighteen months ago, Gwen Meredith left the job she loved and came back to Pembrokeshire to help support her irritable and increasingly confused grandmother. But someone is pursuing a vendetta against her.
As the attacks become more malicious, her old anxieties begin to build. She’s attracted to her new neighbour who is keen to help…but can she trust him?
When those closest to her are threatened, her desperation mounts. Who can she trust?
Gwen has a dark secret of her own. Can she even trust herself?
Gwen is having a bad day, many bad days. She is a teacher’s assistant who does not like the school principal, Ian, yet someone snapped a shot of her shaking his hand at an event and it became taken out of context, big time – internet big time, and a smear campaign ensued.
Gwen noticed an alcoholic, abusive father physically abusing his child. She tried to intervene and the man drove off with his child. Her alerting authorities angered this man and he began harrassing Gwen.
Dyleth has a crush on married principal Ian and believes Gwen is hot for the two timing married principal and spreads gossip.
Gwen had a boring, quiet life before these incidents happened. She moved in with her ailing, demanding, grandmother Edith less than two years ago to take care of her. The only good thing that has happened in Gwen’s life lately, was meeting her new next door neighbor, Ben. Ben becomes her shining knight in armor when all the weirdness, attacks and chaos begins. Is Ben too good to be true, or should we now begin suspecting him?
Strange and evil things are taking place at Gwen’s home. The abusive man is doing drive bys and knock knocks, someone lurks in her garden at night causing damage and painting vile words on her car and lawn. Gwen feels like she’s losing her mind when even the police aren’t doing much with her many complaints.
Gwen’s brother Gethin is having relationship problems at home and decides to come visit his sister and grandmother to help figure out what is going on around that house. He too is attacked one night, and once again, neighbor Ben manages to save his life.
A lot is going on in Gwen’s life and she begins to question her own sanity when too many strange things keep happening. Gwen also struggles with a childhood incident where she blames herself for her parents’ deaths. We’ll later discover that everything Gwen thought happened wasn’t really as it seemed.
If you are already curious as to what is going on, trust me, you will continue to feel that way as you will be eager to keep turning the pages to find out what is going on. Who done what? Is there a traitor among family? Is the principal or the abusive man responsible for all the chaos and accidents? Could Gwen’s developing relationship with Ben the neighbor be real or does he have ulterior motives? You will want to find out as Craigie takes us on a carefully plotted out story that won’t give us a hint until the very end.
Let’s Welcome Alex and get to know a little more about her.
Hi, Debby! I’ll begin by thanking you from the heart for for this great opportunity to share something about myself and my writing with all of your followers.
D.G. – I’m thrilled to have you over Trish. ❤
Do you have an interesting writing quirk or habit that helps you with your writing?
I suspect my whole life is a bit quirky!
There are several practical things I do to try and keep the words coming. For instance, I have a small pile of paper on my desk that has only been used on one side. I fold each sheet in half, blank side outermost, and when a new idea comes to me when the flow is going well, I grab one of these pieces of paper, scribble the idea down and then forget about it to stop it intruding. When I’ve written myself to a standstill, I come back to peruse the idea and decide what to do with it.
In a similar vein, some of my best ideas come to me in the night. Sadly, come the morning I’d remember I’d had a wonderful line or brilliant way to tie-in a new section but had forgotten the details! Turning on the light to write them down certainly meant that I remembered them, but didn’t make for a great night’s sleep for me or my husband… Now, I have a similar stack of used paper on my bedside table with a pencil resting on top of it. When an idea surfaces, I write it down in the dark. Quite often, I’ll have several different things occur to me and I have to try to recall how far down the page I’d reached with the last comment. It doesn’t always work and it’s well nigh impossible to untangle two or more lines of writing scrawled on top of each other.
The ‘half asleep writing’ frequently extricates me from a tricky dilemma I’ve written myself into. My other method is to go into the garden and do some weeding. There’s plenty of weeding to be done and so I never run out of material! There’s something about mindlessly pulling stuff out of the ground that sets the subconscious free to untangle things.
D.G. – Lol Trish, I had to laugh because I use a similar method. When I’m writing and following thought and think of something else I want to add, I add it in the margin – don’t forget, I write longhand. As for night thoughts and not wanting to disturb, you could open your Kindle and use the backlight to shine upon your paper without disturbing hubby. That may work better. Tip: I keep my Kindle on low light at night so it doesn’t keep me wide awake when reading late at night.
Do you find your writing is geared towards a specific audience or do you just write what inspires you to write?
Frequently, my writing is driven by a need to share experiences that concern me. That does sound self-indulgent and “worthy”, but it’s what was behind many of the short stories for magazines that I wrote when the children were tiny. I wrote about peer pressure, domestic abuse, inequalities – that sort of thing. There were others that I wrote simply for fun and they were well-received, too, but those were a pleasure to write and there wasn’t that driving need to pen them.
My first novel, Someone Close to Home, was written because I’d been visiting family and friends in the generation above me in a variety of care homes and what I saw was so upsetting I found myself crying at one point, not in sorrow but in rage. This book crossed so many genre boundaries it was a nightmare to categorise. I decided that my next book would sit nicely withing a recognized niche. It was a romantic suspense/psychological thriller about a young woman damaged by guilt from the past who found herself in increasing danger from someone in the community. Means to Deceive was started when the first book was being sorted for publication. But… … it was the end of 2015 and the situation in our health service was bothering me. Our NHS has been a gold standard model throughout the world, but parts of it were being hived off to private companies and the core of it wasn’t being maintained. So, I stopped the second book and went off on another social grouse! This was Acts of Convenience, but it had to be shelved for several years because my mother developed two different forms of dementia that made writing impossible. When I did get back to it, I ended up with another published book that didn’t sit nicely in a category. So I dug out Means to Deceive again.
D.G. – No doubts our connection is kindred spirits. We are both people bothered by social injustice. Although I say it out loud in nonfiction, you work those issues beautifully into your fiction.
Do your books have messages in them? If so, what are the messages you feel are well received by your readers?
Well, after that last answer, I’m sure you can guess my response!
Someone Close to Home was written in the first person because I wanted readers to be able to identify with the situation where you leave your home and all the possessions you’ve acquired over your lifetime and end up in one cramped room totally dependent on the goodness of others. Most of the staff I came across on my visits were absolutely brilliant, but all it takes is someone who treats you like a commodity – or worse – to turn it into a nightmare. I’ve had so many people write to me about their shared experiences that I know this situation isn’t restricted to the UK. I wrote about residents who were unable to feed themselves, having their food left on the tray in front of them only for it to be removed untouched by someone (tutting) later. That resonated far too often with people. The concerns I’d classify as abuse were also horribly familiar to others.
Acts of Convenience takes the central character Cassie from 2017 to 2055. She’s a nurse and she and the family are at the sharp end of the consequences of expedient legislation made by successive governments. It reflects my concerns about cutting funding for the treatment of the elderly and chronically sick, working conditions, the exploitation of our information and privacy by unscrupulous companies, the manipulation of media, our exposure to foreign hacking – loads of things that concern me! Because Cassie eventually joins a group to expose the corruption she’s witnessing, the book begins as social description and ends as a thriller. I was so unsure of it as a format, I haven’t tried to market it but I’ve had some terrific responses from people and may decide to do so some promotion in the future.
In similar vein, I realized that my romantic suspense/psychological thriller, Means to Deceive, was becoming hijacked by my concerns about social media and so I made a conscious decision to nip that in the bud and stay within the traditional genre. Instead, I’ve transferred my concerns about the abuse of social media into a novella called The Bubble Reputation which I’m polishing at the moment to get it ready for publication.
D.G. – I am looking forward to eventually reading your two other books, which currently are resting on my reader. As you pointed out the content, and had previously warned me of the content, and due to the too much I myself have witnessed with my husband’s frequent hospital visits, I’m not yet ready to read such content. But I am looking forward to your new, upcoming book!
What’s your favourite mode of writing – computer, hand written, dictation, and why?
My mode of writing has evolved through the years. When I was six, I wrote with a stubby pencil in an exercise book. The pencil was replaced with one of those “new-fangled” biros when I was a bit older.
The short stories for magazines were hand written in a big notebook and then transferred to my portable typewriter to send for publication. Typing then was considerably tougher than it is today! For a start, you had to properly jab the keys to get the letters to hit the paper. There was also the dismay when you reached the last line of a page and made a mistake. I never feltI could send a copy with the offending error blotted out in that bright “Bay Watch teeth white” corrector, and so I’d roll another page in place and take it from the top again.
We bought a secondhand electric typewriter in an auction and it was so touch sensitive, I’d written a whole line of “T”s before I managed to add the “h” and “e” of the first word. It was so easy to use but it didn’t remove the irritation of making mistakes. Writing by hand was less frustrating.
Then we come to computers. Oh my! To be able to correct errors was a delight in itself, but it’s also blessedly easy to move things around, change vocabulary, check for overused words and insert new material that improves a section.
When mapping out a novel, I always start with a pen and paper because it’s easier to brainstorm that way, but for the actual text it has to be my trusty laptop.
(Here I must add a caveat: when saving my precious work at the end of the day, I add the current date to the title. This prevents me uploading an older version or, worse, overwriting one. Learn from my bitter experience!)
D.G. – So nice to learn that you too write longhand, even to start. As you know, I’m a dinosaur who writes her books, reviews and blogs in longhand first. Lol. And thanks for your last tip, adding the date. Don’t get me started how many times I found myself creating new copies with edits. Oye! ❤
How do you promote your work? Do you find marketing and social media overwhelming?
Overwhelming doesn’t come close!
I’m from that generation that was castigated for “blowing their own trumpet”. I find it really hard to sell from that point of view alone.
I’m only on Facebook. (I tried to get to grips with Twitter but reading the guides to it were like wading through molasses in concrete boots.) Everyone who knows me also knows what an eejit I am when it comes to Facebook. I feel anxious every time I have dealings with the site (daily) because I don’t know if I’m following etiquette correctly or posting where I should. I could do with someone to go through it with me in short sentences composed of simple one-syllable words. An example of my stupidity is that I haven’t had any notifications for at least four days. I wondered if everyone was on holiday (!). When I dug deeper today, I discovered hundreds of posts, some of which were important. I’ve been on the help site but, despite thinking I’m fairly competent in the English language, I still don’t understand what’s going on – or what on earth a push post is.
It’s also a source of shame to me that I don’t have my own blog where I can post other people’s reviews. I don’t know how you do it and still find the time to exist. Our three children and seven grandchildren all live within a few miles of us and can drop in any time (still socially distanced) in our garden. They fill my days with delight. I also have several health issues that mean that when things are bad I need to slope off to bed. These are my excuses, but I know that others who manage blogs have families, full-time jobs and other commitments.
My admiration and unbounded gratitude go to people like you, Debby, who give me the oxygen of publicity in a form that I can handle. Well, to be honest, I’m not handling it -you are! It must take considerable time and trouble to organize this promotion for me and I can’t stress how much I appreciate it, particularly as I know you have your own writing projects on the go.
Sally Cronin is also a tireless promoter of authors which must cut considerably into her own writing time. Diana Wallace Peach is yet another terrific writer who goes out of her way to review and boost those of us without big publishing companies behind us. There’s really too many supportive people to list here but I have to give another shout-out to Judith Barrow and Thorne Moore who give me a nudge when there’s a review about me on Facebook that I’ve missed, and who post those same reviews for me. I really do need that Facebook lesson!
D.G. – First, don’t beat yourself up about ‘fakebook’ (as I prefer to call it, lol). They are forever changing their set up. Most of us don’t get our notifications until days or weeks later. They have taken away all the easy ways for us authors to navigate our pages. I, along with several author friends have discussed this and have given up posting on our author pages, or our author pages, period. We are a supportive community, and I so appreciate the sharing and help from others when I too need it. I will second what you said about Sally. As for me, I’ve been a multi-tasker all my life and spent a lot of time learning the tediousness (Is that a word?) of social media. But trust me, I, along with others, have certainly had our share of technical blog issues. I am grateful to have Colleen Chesebro as a Sister/Friend who always comes to my rescue when things get out of control. It does take a village sometimes. I love promoting other authors and giving back, so it’s worth the work for me. ❤
It was a pleasure having you here today Trish. I do hope readers will check out your addictive books.
Excerpt from Means to Deceive
The blisters have burst and some of them are seeping blood. I’d been so desperate to obliterate the obscene writing that I’d worked through the pain but now the sensation is making itself known and I suck my lower lip between my teeth and clamp down on it.
Ben speaks quietly. ‘I didn’t appreciate the extent of the damage. This must hurt like the devil.’
I shake my head and release my lip. ‘It’s just a few blisters.’
‘Well, let’s get some antiseptic onto them and then see about covering them up. I’ll try to be as gentle as I can.’
He opens an antiseptic wipe and dabs my damaged palm. For someone with such large hands he has a remarkably light touch.
‘I’m afraid some of this is down to me.’ He continues dabbing at my palm which is now on fire. ‘That shower will have softened the skin allowing things to get this bad.’
I shake my head. I’m trying to keep the pain hidden and don’t trust my voice. He picks up the cream and applies a coating that quickly brings the fire down to a smoulder and then he fixes a clean white dressing in place.
‘Right. Time to do the other one.’
He takes my left hand and studies it. Mine is pale and tiny in comparison with his.
‘These don’t look so bad. They’re still raw but they’re not bleeding.’ He starts to dab at them. ‘I think you’ll get away with some plasters on these.’
I say nothing, watching as his hands continue to work methodically and efficiently. There’s something soothing, almost mesmerising, about the process and it comes as a surprise when he announces, ‘There. I think that’ll do.’
‘Thanks. You were right. It was quicker and easier this way.’ I don’t know what else to say and that familiar gaucheness overcomes me. ‘You’ve obviously done this sort of thing before.’
‘I’ve a younger sister who was always getting herself into scrapes.’ His mouth tightens into a straight line and he busies himself putting things back into the green tin.
The kitchen door opens and Claire bustles through. ‘Right. Well, that’s me finished, Gwen.’ She notices the two of us sitting together and adds, ‘Sorry, I didn’t realise you had your young man here.’
Our response is instant and she simply nods and carries on as normal. ‘Well, your grandmother’s comfy. She wouldn’t have a shower but she’s had a good wash, eaten most of her breakfast and she’s watching TV now.’ She heads for the door and turns to add, ‘Don’t forget she has an appointment with Dr Kumari at 4.30 this afternoon.’
A groan escapes me. ‘Thanks, Claire. It’d gone completely out of my mind.’
‘It ain’t surprising, my dear, after all the …er…’ The words drift off and I appreciate her tact but squirm at the knowledge that she’s aware of what’s happened. ‘Well, I’ll leave you to it then.’ She takes another couple of steps and then stops again. ‘Will you be able to get her there? Without your car, I mean?’
I can feel heat flame my face. ‘Yes. Don’t worry. We’ll be fine.’
‘There we are then. I’ll see you again on Tuesday. Bye’
Ben hands me the tin and I cross to the dresser and replace it in its drawer. I stand with my back to him, giving myself time to recover from this latest blow. How am I going to get her to the surgery without my car? Can I afford two taxis?
I turn back to Ben. ‘Many thanks for all your help. If there’s anything I can do to repay you, please let me know.’
It’s a dismissal and he knows it. He clicks his fingers at Atticus who chooses to obey him and crosses to his side. But he’s hesitating.
‘What will you do without your car this afternoon?’
‘I’ll get a taxi.’ I’ve made my voice light and assured. ‘It’s not a problem.’
He heads towards the door, Atticus lolloping faithfully at his heels, but he pauses and then comes back. ‘Look, I need to book myself in with a medical centre and I may as well do that today as I have to be in town this afternoon anyway.’
‘No. It’s all right. We’ll manage.’
He runs a hand around the back of his neck. ‘Are you always this obstinate?’
I’m stuck for an answer. Part of me is bristling at the accusation while the rest of me is shouting that his help in this would be a godsend.
‘Gwen, I’m going into town later. It would be no bother at all to give you and your grandmother a lift to the centre. It’s up to you.’
I swallow my pride, audibly. ‘Thank you. It would be a great help.’
He gives a nod of his head. ‘Right. If I come round at about ten past four will that give you long enough?’
‘That would be perfect.’
‘And I’ll come in to the centre on my way back from dropping off some plans at the office, sign up and drop you back home again.’
I open my mouth to protest, notice the humorous challenge in his eyes, and meekly thank him.
Alex’s upcoming book:
Coming soon! – The Bubble Reputation! An unscrupulous editor does a hatchet job on Emmie Hobson, based on weasel words such as ‘our sources say’, ‘an insider confides’ ‘friends disclose’, etc. Social media picks up the baton runs with it, unleashing hateful rhetoric that threatens Emmie and all that she holds dear…
Welcome to my August Q & A. Today I’m happy to introduce and feature, friend and author, Martha Perez. Martha has authored many books and currently writes quite a few series on Kindle Vella. Honestly, I don’t know how she finds the time to put out so many books! Recently, I’ve read two of her books that I’ve reviewed on my Sunday Book Review, her memoir on the loss of her beloved son Rudy in, My Beloved Son, and The Calm and the Storm, a nonfiction inspirational book. Today Martha is sharing her newest release with us, A Little Piece of Me.
Martha Perez was born in raised in Los Angeles, CA. She now lives in West Covina. Martha is a wife, mother, grandmother of two beautiful granddaughters, and dog lover of Toby and Bella. Broken Pieces is her first book; Broken Heart is her second book and is an accomplishment of which she is very proud. Now she has over 25 books. She is a woman with simple tastes. She loves reading books. Martha reads one book a week, and because of this, her love for writing stories was born. She likes taking long walks in the evening to unwind and sipping a glass of her favorite wine Moscato. Martha enjoys going to baseball games, movies, and unknown adventures.
When you think life is calm, a storm comes to wipe away your hopes and dreams. My son, Rudy Andalon, passed away on March 14, 2017. He was the love of my life; I carried him for nine months–280 days, 40 weeks, and raised him to be an amazing young man. No love is more significant than a mother’s love for her child. As I write this, tears of joy and sorrow flow down my cheeks. I miss him so much and his beautiful smile. I’ve written this book to help me and others who lost a child get through the aching pain; and to let you know that you are not alone. This book is a memoir with poems and is very inspirational; with lovely pictures of our family. I’ve searched for answers to why God took my son, and there were none to be found; why good people die young, and the mean ones live on. I know Rudy’s in a place where there’s no pain, just happiness–an angel in Heaven. He leaves behind a mother, father, sister, and two nieces. I will always be brokenhearted, love, and adore my son. God bless him.
My Beloved Son Reviews: Eva Pasco
In the genre of Memoirs/Teen & Young Adult Biography, this book resonates with the grief of losing a son unexpectedly at the age of 37. Told from his mother’s point of view, her heartache and sorrow fill every page. Honesty, candidness, and authenticity also fill every page, painting a realistic picture of family dynamics during Rudy’s childhood. She writes about respecting how a husband and wife handle grief differently in their own way. There are even a couple of chapters where Rudy’s father adds his perspective. Because this story is written by a mother who has experienced a parent’s worst nightmare, the coping strategies mentioned by the author and her husband can be taken to heart. She divulges her daily struggles and resolve to get through one day at a time. Her best advice, regardless of our circumstances in life:
“Time will leave us one day with only memories and you don’t want to be on the side of regret, of not having told someone how much you love them or show how much you care. Stop what you’re doing and play, even if it’s just for a minute. Nothing’s too important than your family and loved ones, everything else can wait.” Moreover, Ms. Perez pays a beautiful tribute to Rudy—undisputedly a beloved son, loyal friend, and upstanding individual I’m grateful to have come across between the pages of her book.
A heart – wrenching personal love story Martha wakes up one morning feeling uneasy. She knows something is wrong. She goes about her normal routine with a nagging feeling that she can’t shake. She feels anxious and distracted. Then, she gets the phone call that is the nightmare of every parent on earth. Her son, Rudy isn’t breathing. Following a page-turning beginning, Martha gives a moment – to – moment account of what happened after that devastating call as well as the days that followed. Here is where her ability as a writer shines. Author Martha Perez bears her shattered heart as she pens this touching love story. Her profound words grab at the reader’s heart, as she expresses her anguish and grief, without hesitation. She tells the reader exactly how she is feeling, how devastating this is to a parent and how she and her husband are handling their son’s untimely death. You cry along with her as you read her deepest thoughts during the first few days and weeks. I highly recommend this book to anyone that has lost a child or a loved one. My soul ached along with the author as she expressed her grief. Martha speaks freely and openly about her loss in a way that every person can relate to. As a lovely bonus, “My Beloved Son” is filled with beautiful poetry, writings of Rudy’s father, and photos of the author’s son and her family scattered within. I give Martha Perez’s book five stars for its beautifully written, honest, and heart – wrenching story of love.
Another Inspirational Book by Martha Perez! This book will help you in so many ways. Due to the number of readers that wanted “The Calm and The Storm” to be available in a book, Martha Perez created, “A Little Piece Of Me”. By adding extra chapters, quotes, photos, and stories of inspiration, you will not be disappointed. It doesn’t matter what you are dealing with, this book will have something in it that will help you along the way. We all have moments where we need to be uplifted. This book will put you in a better mood or keep you in a good mood if you’re in one already! “A Peaceful Promise” is an inspirational book that got a lot of people inspired by Martha Perez. “A Little Piece Of Me” will be a great book for you if inspiration is what you’re looking for. Enjoy!
Let’s get to know more about Martha!
Did you have a passion for writing as a child? Do you remember the first thing you wrote?
My writing and thoughts come from happiness and days of deep sorrow. The only way of life’s profound mysteries and love was by writing it in words, emotions not otherwise addressed. I have always had a passion for writing and reading. My journey in life gave me the tools to be creative with my imagination. I ran wild with it; it was my escape from reality. I remember my teacher always made me read first, and when I would write a story. He made me stand up in front of the class. That was the only time the kids in my class wouldn’t make fun of me or bully me because I was different from them. When you are not anyone’s child, your clothes are dissimilar, and you are not good enough to have groups of friends; so I became a loner. When summer came, most kids went on vacation.
When we returned to school, we had an assignment; to write what we did and where we went for our vacation. When I heard that the kids in my class went and did things that were fun, I felt sad because all I did was clean the house. I sneaked out to play for a couple of hours.
The following day as I had predicted, Mr. Montejano asked me to stand and read in front of the class. My hands were shaking as I held the white piece of paper filled with the words that I have written.. I said my Mom and Dad took me to Hawaii. I had created a make-believe family and used my imagination about how Hawaii looked and what we did. I had everyone’s attention; you could have heard a pin drop. When I finished reading from my paper, everyone clapped, and my teacher gave me an A for my story. He told me that he was very proud of me. He knew I lived with my grandma. He knew my story wasn’t true. He also knew that I had to do my homework at school because I wasn’t allowed at home.
My job at home was cleaning and waxing the floors. My teacher taught me a lot; he understood what I was going through and helped me become more of a great person. I am thankful for his caring and kindness. Yes, I remember the stories I wrote for school. My teacher taught me to believe and told me I would achieve too. Achieving is something you work hard for; it’s a passion you have to reach your goals; go for the stars, climb the highest Mountain. Have faith in yourself and have faith in yourself and everything else will fall in place; that took me a lifetime to believe. Writing is compelling, reading feeds the mind, and my hunger will never stop because I love to write and read.
D.G. – Martha, your story is both heartbreaking and inspirational. I am so glad you had one wonderful teacher who showed you compassion. You are a warrior woman for bringing yourself so far in life. 🧡
Share with us a book that moved you so much it stays with you.
The little girl in me wanders out in the big world. The hills and the park I used to play in made my life blissful. I felt the breeze blowing on my face as my legs moved when I chased the ball as I played; what a lovely day. In my teenage years a boy kissed me with a promise that we would stay together while we were growing up. With life rules, many dreams of hope came true. My spirits are so high I feel as if I can touch the sunny sky. I’m singing a song and laughing with my inner self. Books move me in the way of magic. Adventures take me so far, far, away. I read all genres, and ever since I was a teen, I’ve always loved romance novels.
I was in the third grade and the school was selling books that I had to order. I wanted to buy books so badly. I took the order paper home and ran to my grandmother to ask her to buy some books for me. She told me I had to raise the money myself. I picked my book, “Charlotte’s Web.” I honestly had to order that book with a pencil, making a vast circle around the order form. I focused on selling my soda bottles and helped the lady next door to walk her dog. I even washed a couple of cars to raise money just for that one book. I was ecstatic and read that book over and over again.
That book became my little treasure, and reading it to my granddaughters Mikayla and Caylee was the most beautiful feeling in the whole world. Now, I write all genres. I’m fascinated with books, and everything ensues. I’m delighted to share this little piece of me.
I am all grown up now. I read every day, loving the way the stories make me feel so excellent. Find a book that will take you out of this world; Fiction or Scifi. The books that are based on true stories are endless. However, take a road of magical adventures and get away from the real world for a while.
D.G. – Your love for books spills over in your voracious appetite for such a wide genre of reading Martha. I’m so glad you became a writer. You are an inspiration for so many young writers. 🧡
Do your books have messages in them? If so, what are the messages you feel are well received by your readers?
All my books have a message. My journey took me to a place where I have seen so many good and bad things. I also know people close to me with unhealthy relationships, so I wrote the book Enough Is Enough; about Domestic Violence. I have written different stories so people can understand this is happening to people every day. I was a victim, and many family members were, so this was important. I also volunteered in a shelter in my younger years, so I have seen many women hurt and beaten. Broken Pieces has a lot of my life in it. It’s an intense story about a girl who was being abused and bullied at school. I wanted to share that when I had a book signing, a young man held my hand with urgency and told me his girlfriend was crying right now. She wanted to meet me but got sick and wanted a signed copy.
He said Broken Piece’s story was her life; then he put her on his cell phone. I spoke to her and calmed her to the point that we were laughing. It’s not about the money you make from your books but when you touch the reader because the memories stay with you forever; especially when you have been abused mentally or physically. In some of my books; my imagination ran wild. My inspirational books had many messages, especially in ‘A Little Piece Of Me.”
D.G. – No doubts your writing has touched so many Martha. It is no surprise how the universe has connected us together as friends. I look so forward to reading your new book, along with others of yours I have on my Kindle. 🧡
Would you like to share with us what upcoming projects and/or ideas for books you’re working on?
I would love to share my projects and ideas for my books. I have been an author for six years, and my goal was to write twenty-five books. Well, I overpassed my dream, and I’m happy to say there will be many more books in the years to come. I have begun to write stories on Kindle Vella. I write episodes until it’s finished; I have twenty stories and am doing well. I have many ideas for more different levels of tales for next year.
I’m writing a novel about Tex Baller, a homicide detective. He is a steak and taters kind of man, a Cowboy who rides the horses in the morning until dusk—no rules and never a fool. You have to have the right tools; and he does. He has no fear; it takes a lot for him to have tears. When Tex Baller loves a woman, it’s forever. It’s a romance with a suspense and thriller feel to it as well. I keep busy loving what I am passionate about, and that’s my writing. I’m a full-time writer, so this is why this is possible for me to write so many books.
D.G. – Wow! Six years and so many books! You are definitely a full on, full time writers! And I envy that you write so many stories on Kindle Vella. As you know, they don’t offer that opportunity to Canadian writers. 🧡
Name some of the influential authors who inspired you to write and why?
I adore reading romance novels. I was that little girl reading Charlotte’s Web with a flashlight under the sheets until my teens; then I started reading romance novels from the library. I read ‘The Other Side of the Mountain’ and many more teen magazines; one of my favorite books is ‘Jane Eyre’ and ‘Wuthering Heights’ by Emily Bronte. So many authors inspired me to be a writer, and it’s hard to pick just one that I can call my favorite. Here are three that motivated me: Megan Hart because she writes romance stories that are moving with many plots and twists. Sylvia Day writes romance with sexy dialogue, and Kristin Hannah writes stories that are heartfelt with emotions that touch your heart. I love to read their books. They write with such passion and the stories are captivating with each page, and they have me wanting more. They are successful and talented, and I have read all of their books. Of course, Sylvia Day gives a little hot spice in her stories; that is a plus. I always feel like being under sheets with a flashlight reading these fabulous books. I am an avid reader, and if I could read all day, it would be heavenly.
D.G. – Thanks for sharing books that have inspired your fictional stories. Omg, I remember watching The Other Side of The Mountain when I was much younger. All I know, I used up a lot of Kleenex, lol. 🧡
Thanks so much for sharing some of yourself and writing inspiration with us here today Martha. Wishing you much success with your new book! ❣
Do your books have messages in them? If so, what are the messages you feel are well received by your readers?Do your books have messages in them? If so, what are the messages you feel are well received by your readers?All my books have a message. My journey took me to a place where I have seen so many good and bad things. I also know people close to me with unhealthy relationships, so I wrote the book Enough Is Enough; about Domestic Violence. I have written different stories so people can understand this is happening to people every day. I was a victim, and many family members were, so this was important. I also volunteered in a shelter in my younger years, so I have seen many women hurt and beaten. Broken Pieces has a lot of my life in it. It’s an intense story about a girl who was being abused and bullied at school. I wanted to share that when I had a book signing, a young man held my hand with urgency and told me his girlfriend was crying right now. She wanted to meet me but got sick and wanted a signed copy.He said Broken Piece’s story was her life; then he put her on his cell phone. I spoke to her and calmed her to the point that we were laughing. It’s not about the money you make from your books but when you touch the reader because the memories stay with you forever; especially when you have been abused mentally or physically. In some of my books; my imagination ran wild. My inspirational books had many messages, especially in ‘A Little Piece Of Me.”D.G. – No doubts your writing has touched so many Martha. It is no surprise how the universe has connected us together as friends. I look so forward to reading your new book, along with others of yours I have on my Kindle.Would you like to share with us what upcoming projects and/or ideas for books you’re working on?I would love to share my projects and ideas for my books. I have been an author for six years, and my goal was to write twenty-five books. Well, I overpassed my dream, and I’m happy to say there will be many more books in the years to come. I have begun to write stories on Kindle Vella. I write episodes until it’s finished; I have twenty stories and am doing well. I have many ideas for more different levels of tales for next year.I’m writing a novel about Tex Baller, a homicide detective. He is a steak and taters kind of man, a Cowboy who rides the horses in the morning until dusk—no rules and never a fool. You have to have the right tools; and he does. He has no fear; it takes a lot for him to have tears. When Tex Baller loves a woman, it’s forever. It’s a romance with a suspense and thriller feel to it as well. I keep busy loving what I am passionate about, and that’s my writing. I’m a full-time writer, so this is why this is possible for me to write so many books.D.G. – Wow! Six years and so many books! You are definitely a full on, full time writers! And I envy that you write so many stories on Kindle Vella. As you know, they don’t offer that opportunity to Canadian writers.
Welcome to my Q & A this month. I’m delighted to be featuring friend and author, D.L. (Denise) Finn here today. Denise is a multi-genre author who writes in the genres of Y.A., poetry, paranormal and memoir. Today we’re going to get to know a bit about Denise and her featured new release – A Voice in the Silence.
D. L. Finn is an independent California local who encourages everyone to embrace their inner child. She was born and raised in the foggy Bay Area, but in 1990 she relocated with her husband, kids, dogs, and cats to Nevada City, in the Sierra foothills. She immersed herself in reading all types of books but especially loved romance, horror, and fantasy. She always treasured creating her own reality on paper. Finally, surrounded by towering pines, oaks, and cedars, her creativity was nurtured until it bloomed. Her creations include adult fiction, poetry, a unique autobiography, and children’s books. She continues on her adventure with an open invitation to all readers to join her.
Drea Burr has experienced more than her share of loss when a stray dog, cat, and rat enter her life. Although the animals start to mend her broken heart, there is something very unusual about them. During a snowstorm, Drea discovers a chilling set of footprints leading to her front window. Both the police and a ghostly messenger warn her about a killer stalking widows. Help comes from her late husband’s best friend, Adam Hale. As the two try to discover answers, more questions arise— about a killer, ghosts, and animals experimented on in a lab.
Can Drea and Adam survive the threats coming from so many directions and save themselves and the animals they’ve grown to love? Or will more tragedy destroy her second chance at happiness? Find out in this thrilling, cozy paranormal adventure.
So great to have you over Denise!
So nice to have you over here today Denise!
Let’s get to know more about Denise!
What’s your favorite mode of writing – computer, hand written, dictation, andwhy?
What I write on, depends on what I’m writing. I love to hand write poetry in a journal. This allows me the freedom to write in the forest, riding on the back of the Harley, in a plane, by the ocean, or even in bed. Later I put it on the computer.
All new ideas are usually jotted down on paper as soon as I wake up or whenever they come to me. Now, if I am away from paper and pen, I will type myself an email with the ideas and then send it on my cellphone.
After I get started on a story, though, I’m at my laptop or computer typing away. I always email current WIP to myself, so I never lose anything.
I have always thought it a good idea to dictate ideas, but speaking the words doesn’t work as well for me as writing them down does.
D.G. – Good idea to email yourself notes. If I’m out and think of an idea I want to write about, I’ll use voice recording on my phone so I don’t forget my great ideas. .😁
If you could have any of your books made into a movie, which one would you choose and why?
My first choice would be my latest story, A Voice in the Silence. I would love to see that up on a screen. My only concern would be giving a voice to the animals. If that wasn’t done right, it would pull away from the story and end up silly. But there are so many parts that I could see in my mind as I was writing, and I know a viewer could fall in love with not only Drea but the trio of animals. A setting in the forest in a storm could be powerful and beautiful, too.
My second close choice would be A Second Chance. Bringing not only an angel to life but her opposite the evildwel who’s a dark creature with red eyes, would make for some interesting viewing. Plus, the spirit, Eddie, who is helping the angel, is a favorite of mine. I could see his famous smirk up on the big screen as he teases a very serious angel, Zelina. Being set in not only a beautiful Bay Area coastal town but in Hawaii would be an amazing backdrop.
In both stories, it’s the other-worldly creatures that I would love to see come to life on a screen.
D.G. – Those scenarios you shared would indeed make good viewing. 😀
Do some of your own character traits or personal experiences spill into your book’s characters?
Yes, I weave some of my personal traits into my characters. A few of my dislikes and likes come through, but they also develop their own personalities and likes as I write. Drea and I both love animals. I would take in a stray without question. We are both writers and love family, but her obsession with coffee isn’t mine. I’m a tea drinker.
As for personal experiences, I use my knowledge of riding out a snowstorm or driving in it. I have the same reaction to driving on ice. I avoid it if I can. But if forced to drive in it, my hands are glued to that steering wheel, making it a white-knuckled drive like Drea had.
My belief in the afterlife has become a part of a lot of my stories. I believe in angels, fairies, and ghosts. Bears visit often, and we’ve had trees and branches fall during storms, but I haven’t dealt with a serial killer.
Although I have things in common with some of the characters, they take over and become their own person. One thing is for sure, they are much braver than I am.
D.G. – I’m so captivated by everything afterlife. I look forward to reading more of your books.
Denise is sharing an excerpt from her new release – A Voice in the Silence
A slight breeze wove through the pine trees, making them sway to nature’s song, but Drea and the dog didn’t join in the flowing movement. Instead, they maintained a tense pose, as if studying each other from a safe distance.
Drea made the first slow movement of setting her newspaper down. “Are you lost?” The beautiful brown eyes pulled her in. It was like they could peer into her soul. There was no threat or fear in those eyes as the fluffy dog sat down. Encouraged, Drea stepped back into the garage and grabbed the pink leash and collar still hanging on the wall. The dog watched her every move with a slow tail wag.
A can of dog food she hadn’t donated to the shelter yet caught her eye. “Hungry?” It wagged its tail harder.
She opened the can and shook the smelly chunks onto a white paper plate she kept under the cans. Holding the offering, she moved cautiously to the dog. Using a soft tone and a smile, she kept moving forward. “It’s okay. I won’t hurt you.”
The dog blinked and nodded as if it understood her. The sun fully abandoned the sky, leaving behind the encroaching darkness lit by a half moon. But the sadness that had weighed her down seeped out into the night with each step she took toward the pup. She wished she’d brought a flashlight, but the evening offered its remaining luminescence. Soon she was within a foot of the dog. The posture and build indicated a golden retriever mix like her Lady, but this was a male, and he was beautiful.
“I don’t recognize you. I know all the neighbor’s dogs. You have a home?” The dog blinked and shook his head as her feet crunched through the dry pine needles. The sound reminded her of when Robbie would place bubble wrap on the ground and gleefully jump on it. She would clean them up—tomorrow. As she got closer, the dog’s condition was more apparent. He hadn’t eaten in a while.
“Here, this used to be Lady’s food. I lost her a little while ago.”
He licked his snout as though he understood. Smart dog.
“No collar. Maybe you have a chip.”
She set the food down and backed away. He lunged toward the plate and wiped it clean in seconds, then sat down, licking his chops. She inched her way toward him. Each step toward the mutt brought him closer to her heart, which was beating like she’d run a marathon. She slowly reached out and rubbed his fur. The dog didn’t flinch. In fact, a small sigh escaped him. Drea gently searched for injuries. Other than a small gash on his neck, he appeared healthy and wasn’t afraid.
“You must have someone who loves you. What happened?”
She wished the dog could answer.
A Review for this book:
I loved this story! The author’s imagination was entertaining. The talking animals were endearing, especially how they protected Drea from the evil in the woods. After the death of her husband and her son leaving to live with his horrific wife, Drea felt lost and alone. This all changed when three animals showed up on her doorstep. She needed their companionship, especially when she found out that someone seemed to be killing single women in the area and she was next on his list!
The author did a phenomenal job in keeping the reader guessing who the bad guy was throughout the entire story. Was it the cop with the attitude? Was it her deceased husband’s best friend who just happened to be making the moves on her? Or was it someone else in her life that had it out for her?
With the help of her talking animals and the ghost of her deceased husband, Drea slowly puts the pieces together. And just when you think you have it all figured out, the author throws another loop into the web she weaved!
This is a great story, and I highly recommend it!— Yvi MC
Welcome to my last Q & A post for 2021. I know I have been sparse this year with Q & A features due to my world turning upside down, but I couldn’t end off the year without sharing the news here from one of my oldest blogging friends, Deborah Jay, who has just released Book 4 in her 5 Kingdoms series – The Prince’s Heir.
About Deborah Jay:
Deborah Jay writes epic fantasy and urban fantasy featuring complex, quirky characters and multi-layered plots – just what she likes to read.
Fortunate to live near Loch Ness in the majestic, mystery-filled Scottish Highlands with her partner and a pack of rescue dogs, she can often be found lurking in secluded glens and forests, researching locations for her books.
She has a dream day job riding, training, and judging, competition dressage horses and riders, and also writes books and magazine features on the subject under her professional name of Debby Lush.
A lifelong fan of science fiction and fantasy, she started writing her first novel aged eight, and has never stopped. Her first published novel is epic fantasy, THE PRINCE’S MAN, first in the Five Kingdoms series, and winner of a UK Arts Council award. #2, THE PRINCE’S SON and #3, THE
PRINCE’S PROTEGE are both available with the concluding book in the quartet, THE PRINCE’S HEIR, released December 14th 2021.
Read the gripping conclusion to The Five Kingdoms series…
King Marten’s reign balances on a blade’s edge. Chel’s Casket, symbol of his right to rule, is missing. Can master spies, Rustam and Risada, recover it before someone notices its absence and challenges Marten’s sovereignty? Or is there a more sinister motive behind the disappearance of the casket—a relic that could be used to raise the demon god, Charin.
As a series of natural disasters besets the kingdoms, evidence points towards interference by the meddlesome deity, and the terrifying prospect of war between its two opposing aspects.
When Marten’s beloved wife, Betha, and their infant daughter vanish, Marten faces a stark choice: save his family, or try to save his kingdom from a conflict that threatens all humanity.
Excerpt from Prince’s Heir
“Risada,” said Marten in a tone that sent ice crawling down her spine. “There’s something we didn’t tell you last year. We thought it would never be an issue once we’d destroyed Charin’s Cult.”
The king paused, pursing his lips. Blood pounded through Risada’s head, filling the silence. She felt nauseous. What had they kept from her, and why?
Marten drew a deep breath, then continued. “You know they wanted our child. What you don’t know is that things came to a head when you returned with Halson. Charin wanted a child of the royal bloodline, and it seems Hal’s would have satisfied Him as much as mine.”
Risada gripped the back of a nearby chair, clinging to that spot of reality in a world turned hazy.
Halson! Charin wanted her son!
A fierce rush of protectiveness blasted through her. She would die before she allowed that to happen. Staring into Marten’s eyes, she saw the same intent reflected there. Of course, he and Betha had been willing to sacrifice themselves before, and now he feared Betha might be forced to make that call again.
“We won’t let it come to that; I promise.” She took one of his hands and squeezed it, but he shrugged and disengaged his grip.
“Sadly, that’s not something you can promise. Not where Charin’s involved. I’ve faced Him, remember? I was lucky to survive, and I don’t give much for my chances if it comes to a rerun.”
“Marten.” Risada employed the same tone she used when Halson was being difficult. “You’re not alone in this. You will never be alone to deal with such an attack again; that I can promise.
Let’s get to know more about Deb’s writing and dressage life in our Q & A session:
How many books have you written? Do you have a favorite of your books and if so, why?
Nine so far, plus novellas and short stories. Two non-fiction books on horse training (my day job), one SF (not published), five epic fantasy (one not published) and one urban fantasy. The unpublished books were where I cut my writer’s teeth, learning about plot, pace, and technique. One day I’d love to revisit them, but with so many other projects on the go, who knows if I’ll find the time?
My favorite book will always be the last one I finished. If you are anything like me, as we write more books our style changes, develops and (hopefully) improves. I am still proud as punch of my first published novel – THE PRINCE’S MAN – which in the early days before self-publishing, netted me two agents and a slew of positive feedback from the Big Six (as they were in those days) publishers, although no contract. Now, I’m really happy it didn’t sell – I would never have been allowed to write the sequels the way they’ve turned out, and I wouldn’t have control of my own career.
D.G. – You’ve certainly come a long way my busy friend. And yes, you are spot on, the more books we write, of course, our styles change as we learn new things. How many of us would like to go back and rewrite all our published books? Lol 🙂
What’s your opinion on self-publishing?
As a hybrid author – both traditionally and indie published – I can definitely say the latter is far and away my preferred route. Not only do I get to write what I want, when I want, I also earn a markedly higher percentage of the income from my indie published books (70% from Amazon, 60% from some other platforms, paid each month) than I do from my trad published books (10% from my publisher, paid annually).
Sure, traditional publishers can get you into bricks-and-mortar stores, but that’s far less important since Covid struck, closing so many, or forcing them to sell online. Publishers also have extremely limited funds available for marketing, and contracted authors are expected to do most of the grunt work themselves – marketing, networking, selling in person, etc. – so I’d rather put my efforts into my indie books for a higher return.
D.G. – My sentiments exactly Deb. And I’ve heard same thoughts from a few different authors who left trad to take control of their own books. 🙂
Did you have a passion to write as a child? Do you remember the first thing you wrote?
I don’t know about a passion, I just always assumed I would write. It seemed the natural progression – read other people’s stuff, then write your own.
As a child, comics took my interest, and my earlier attempts at writing were accompanied by awful illustrations (I’m no artist). When my mother died a couple of years ago, in amongst her papers (she was also a writer) I found what must be my earliest attempt, aged about 6 – ‘The travels of Sammy Snail – Scotland here I come’. Weirdly prophetic, as at that time I had never been to Scotland, nor had any of my family, and yet that’s precisely where I now live.
After that, came ‘The Adventures of Galloper’, another illustrated comic book, and then ‘Samantha the Adventurous Poodle’, a novel which failed at chapter 3 because it had no plot!
D.G. – What a gorgeous find! I know you have tons on your plate and agenda, but wouldn’t it be fun if you revised and published her work in a children’s book someday, authored by both of you? Food for thought. 🙂
Would you like to share with us what upcoming projects and/or ideas for books you’re working on?
While this week’s release brings to a conclusion the main story of one set of characters, I still have plenty of other tales to tell about them. One of the best aspects of self-publishing is the option to publish books of any size. I already wrote one short story that fits in between books #1 & #2, with another underway. I plan to write a set of them, with the ultimate goal of gathering them into a book of their own.
I have also plotted out and started a novella, telling the back story of a minor character who grew to become a major force in books #3 & 4. In addition, years ago, I wrote the novel that takes place before this set, so I plan on going back and rewriting that to a publishable standard too.
Beyond that, I have a rough outline for the next sequence of books, featuring the next generation. I’ve set up a lot of worldbuilding ready for them to walk right into, so, although the over-arching plot appears to end in book #4, it has a lot further to go – I’m thinking maybe 10 books in all?
Next up is putting together a boxset of books #1 – #4, and start editing for audiobook production – something I still have to dip my toe in. I also have one novel and a short story published in an urban fantasy series, with 6 chapters of the next book already done and just waiting for me to pick it up again.
Finally (as if that lot wasn’t enough!), I am currently writing a commissioned non-fiction book on horse training to go with the two already published, and sketching out two new in-person presentations now we are allowed to do such things again.
I’m certainly never short of stuff to do!
D.G. – You’re a machine girl! I hate to add to your plate, but I was hoping you would come out with a sequel to Desprite Measures with your Cassie character. 🙂
Do you edit and proofread your own work solely or do you hire an editor?
I’m really fortunate to have worked with an awesome writer’s group for many years – thirty, to be precise! Members have come and gone, but the core has remained. New members have to put in an audition piece, so we can assess the standard of their writing. If we feel they aren’t ready to join us yet we point them towards where they can find more basic help to develop.
The group consists of (almost) exclusively published authors – some short fiction writers, some novelists. We do include a uni student, reading creative writing (what else?), but fundamentally we all write professional pieces that sell. We used to meet in person once a month, now we do it on Zoom, which means a couple of former members who moved away have rejoined.
One of the best aspects is that between us we cover a wide range of professions and interests, such as a medical doctor, a computer programmer, a travel writer, and a stand-up comic! Between the lot of us, we’re pretty darned good at the whole gamut of editing. And knowing we will all be on the receiving end at some point, we’ve become well practiced at constructive critiquing – the best sort of group.
D.G. – Sounds like a great plan and a wonderful and eclectic bunch of writers! 🙂
What was the inspiration behind the series you’ve just completed?
I was always frustrated that the super-spy, James Bond, was never allowed (until now!) to develop as a character. Enter my leading man, Rustam Chalice – a shallow, womanizing, spy. During THE PRINCE’S MAN, alongside the action and politics, everything he thought he knew is challenged and proven to be false, bringing about profound changes to his life, which continues to develop through the entire series.
I chose a fantasy setting partly because of my love for Lord of the Rings, but also because of the incredible scope available to my imagination. I can do whatever I want with the world (provided it’s consistent and makes sense), which allows me to put my characters through a crucible unlike anything they would experience in a real-world setting.
Out of these two things came tagline for the series: Think James Bond meets Lord of the Rings.
D.G. – Brilliant concept! 🙂
It was a pleasure having you over today Deb. I wish you much success with your new release, and no doubts the Prince’s Man fans for this series are anxiously awaiting this new release.