Welcome to my May edition of Q & A. Today I’m happy to be featuring friend and fellow author, Jan Sikes. Jan is a multi-talented, multi-genre author and dabbles in tarot, runes and gemstones articles on her blog too, besides the blog tours she hosts and the books she reviews. So today we’re going to get to know a little bit more about Jan and her latest release – Jagged Feathers, Book 2 from her White Runes series.
Jan Sikes writes compelling and creative stories from the heart. She openly admits that she never set out in life to be an author. But she had a story to tell. Not just any story, but a true story that rivals any fiction creation. The entertaining true story comes to life through fictitious characters in an intricately woven tale that encompasses four books. And now, this author can’t find a way to put down the pen. She continues to write fiction and has published numerous award-winning short stories. She published her debut paranormal romance novel, Ghostly Interference, Book 1 in The White Rune Series, in 2020, which won a bronze medal award from Reader’s Favorite. Jagged Feathers released on January 31, 2022, as Book 2 of that series, and Saddled Hearts will release later in 2022. She is an active blogger, an avid fan of Texas music, and a grandmother of five. She resides in North Texas.
Vann Noble did his duty. He served his country and returned a shell of a man, wounded inside and out. With a missing limb and battling PTSD, he seeks healing in an isolated cabin outside a small Texas town with a stray dog that sees beyond his master’s scars. If only the white rune’s magic can bring a happily ever after to a man as broken as Vann. On the run from hired killers and struggling to make sense of her unexplained deadly mission, Nakina Bird seeks refuge in Vann’s cabin. She has secrets. Secrets that can get them all killed. A ticking clock and long odds of living or dying, create jarring risks. Will these two not only survive but find unexpected love along the way? Or, will evil forces win and destroy them both?
Jan shares some wonderful quotes from her book:
“Wow! One of the top books I’ve read in a while. I’d give it more sparklers if I could. The author had me from page one and didn’t let me go until the end. She starts off hard and fast, then things kind of work out and the book goes into a “safe” lull, which is where most romantic suspense stories would end. But no. She doesn’t let you rest as the danger ramps up again before our hero and heroine are really safe and have a satisfying ending that leaves you happy for them.” V. Burkholder
“What an amazing and phenomenal book. Jagged Feathers has become my favorite suspense book I’ve read in 2022. Jan Sikes has a talent that mirrors the authors, that’s on top of the Best Sellers List.” T. Lucas
“Wow! Few books grab and hold me as quickly as Jagged Feathers. I can’t say enough good things about this story that’s brimming with heart. It has everything- -an ex-soldier dealing with trying to heal from wounds and trauma left by the war, a woman confused and scared by her psychic gift and running for her life, and a dog that’s suffered horribly but hasn’t lost his ability to love.” L. Broday
“This is a high octane thriller and romance, with some intriguing paranormal elements which draws the reader in, and sweeps them along with the action and developing love affair. And then there is also an adorable dog who despite his own past mistreatment gives love in abundance.” S. Cronin
So, let’s get to know a little more about Jan!
Thank you, Debby, for inviting me to visit with you today. It is truly an honor!
D.G. – Thrilled to be featuring you here today Jan. Thanks for coming!
How has writing changed your life?
That is a great question. After my husband passed away, I was still working full-time. But honestly, I was lost. I didn’t want to stay in the home we’d built together. Too many memories and too much property to take care of. So, I transferred my job to another town where one of my daughters lived. I withdrew from the world and hid behind my children and grandchildren. That was my safe place. Then, when I realized I was the one that would have to write the story of our life together, it forced me to step out and reinvent myself. It took several years before I could comfortably call myself an author. It wasn’t until after my second book won an award that it felt right. Writing not only changed my life completely but gave me a therapeutic way to rejoin the land of the living. It has given me a whole new career and I have met some of the most wonderful people— authors and readers!
D.G. – Do I ever hear you Jan. I know well what you mean about ‘hiding away’ after such a great loss. And no doubts writing was your therapy. 🙂
Do some of your own character traits or personal experiences spill into your book’s characters?
Oh, for sure! Of course, the first four books I wrote were biographical so that was me all the way. But when I started writing fiction, I drew from a lot of my personal experiences, philosophies, and beliefs and instilled them in some of my characters. I think the biggest example was Jag Peters’ mother, Charlotte, in Ghostly Interference. There is a lot of me in Charlotte. She is a smart but gentle lady who is a vegetarian and teaches yoga. She also instills in her son a lot of the same beliefs I have about Karma and the afterlife. The love of Charlotte’s life is a musician. So, I put a lot of me into her. Someday I want to tell her backstory.
D.G. – Only makes sense that we as writers will instill some of ourselves or other people we know when it comes to creating characters. 🙂
If you weren’t a writer what else do you think you would do?
That is a question I ask myself often. I work really hard at not only continuing to learn and grow in the craft of writing but in marketing as well. There are times when I stop and ask myself if this is what I really want to be doing. All the hard work results in little to no monetary rewards. But, so far, the answer is the same every time. As long as story ideas and inspirations keep coming, I am duty-bound to keep writing them. And, if I wasn’t writing, I don’t know how I would be filling my time. For now, this is what I want to do. It’s a chapter in life I am enjoying letting unfold.
D.G. – Once again, I couldn’t agree more! 🙂
I know you have a very active blog. What can you tell us you’ve gained from blogging as an author?
Blogging has created a whole new online family for me. I am connected to people all around the world. That is how I met you, Debby. So, I’ve gained a network of supportive and uplifting people as well as made what I consider to be friends. Even though we may never meet in person, through reading others’ blogs, I feel as if I know them. Besides this incredible network, blogging gives me a great platform to talk about my stories, accomplishments, failures, and everything in between. But my greatest joy is featuring others on my blog. I do lots of book reviews and have guest posts often. Another way my blogging platform has enriched my life is through sharing metaphysical things such as Tarot cards and Rune readings, uplifting meditations, and my passion, Gemstones and their healing properties. It’s a way of sharing something that is a huge part of my daily life. It helps keep me grounded and focused while hopefully helping others at the same time. We are all on this journey together. So anything we can do to uplift each other is wonderful! While blogging takes time away from writing, it is worthwhile all the way around. I can’t imagine stepping away from blogging, although it’s healthy to take a short break now and then.
D.G. – We share the same philosophy on blogging, once again. And of course we share a mutual interesting in the spiritual and metaphysical. 🙂
Share with us a book that moved you so much it stays with you.
This is probably the hardest question of all to answer. I’ve been an avid reader since I could decipher words. As a child, I devoured fairy tales and believed life would have a fairy tale ending for me. As a young adult, I read books by Harold Robbins that taught me so much about relationships between men and women. “The Grapes of Wrath” is a book I have read multiple times. I think it has stayed with me because of stories my parents shared about the Great Depression. But a powerful book that changed the way I view worldwide governments is “The Captains and The Kings.” Taylor Caldwell depicted corruption among the leaders in such a way that I’ve never forgotten it. It’s a book I highly recommend to everyone. A book I’ve read within the past couple of years that has stayed with me is “Where The Crawdads Sing.” And now I see that it has been made into a movie and will be showing in July. You can bet I’ll be at the theater to see it. And I want to add one more to my list of lingering stories. “If The Darkness Takes Us,” is such a chilling and realistic tale of what happens when the grid collapses and people are left to figure out how to survive on their own without any resources. Unfortunately, I feel that it may be more realistic than imagined. But there are lots of good survival tips shared in the book. I’ll stop there with an apology. You only asked for one book. 🙂
D.G. – Had to laugh as the only books I could find around my house (in my mother’s room) were Harold Robbins’ books, lol. That was an education. And I loved Where the Crawdad’s Sing! I will now be checking out those other books you mentioned too. Thank you!
Welcome back to my first Author Chat interview for 2020. Today I’m thrilled to be featuring Romance Author, Jacquie Biggar here today with her latest book – NEW RELEASE – Sunset Beach, Book 2 in the Blue Haven series. Jacquie has quite a collection of hot sellers on her shelves so I’m excited to have her over today and introduce you to her and her work.
About the Author:
Jacquie Biggar is a USA Today bestselling author of romance who loves to write about tough, alpha males and strong, contemporary women willing to show their men that true power comes from love. She lives on Vancouver Island with her husband and loves to hear from readers all over the world!
In her own words:
“My name is Jacquie Biggar. When I’m not acting like a total klutz, I am a wife, mother of one, grandmother, and a butler to my calico cat.
My guilty pleasures are reality TV shows like Amazing Race and The Voice. I can be found every Monday night in my armchair plastered to the television laughing at Blake and Adam’s shenanigans.
I love to hang at the beach with DH (darling hubby) taking pictures or reading romance
novels (what else?).
I have a slight Tim Hortons obsession, enjoy gardening, everything pink and talking to my friends.”
An explosive secret threatens the peace and tranquility of Sweetheart Cove.
Single father Trace Michaels has his hands full coping with a rebellious teenage daughter, troublesome ex-wife, and campaigning for the mayor’s election. He doesn’t have time to get distracted by an old flame from his past– one he’s never forgotten.
When an unknown source leaks surprising news that could damage his career, Trace turns to the one person he trusts for the truth.
Single mother Mona Samuels knows how difficult it can be to raise a daughter. She
empathizes with Trace, but when he comes to her for advice, she’s conflicted. They say the truth will set you free but unburying the past could destroy everything she’s worked so hard to build.
Debby, thank you for inviting me to your lovely blog! Your questions were interesting and made me think, lol.
Thrilled to have you over Jacquie. Happy to share a bit about you and your writing here today, and of course your newest release! So let’s get down to it!
Do some of your own character traits or personal experiences spill into your book’s characters?
I use my husband’s traits more than my own. He has a wicked sense of humor and can always pull me out of a bad mood with just a few words or one of his songs (he likes to make up lyrics from famous songs- it’s a hoot!).
As for personal experiences, I’ve written about type 1 Diabetes (my grandson was diagnosed with at age seven), Dementia (my grandma had this for five years before she passed away), and cooking (I owned a restaurant for many years).
I think personal experiences enrich our writing because we know what the characters are going through and can build empathy with our audiences.
D.G. – I have to believe that all writers take from their own experiences and work them into stories. It’s always fun learning about the conception of our stories.
What hobbies do you enjoy when not writing?
DH and I both love gardening. We are full-time RVers, so our yard is postage stamp sized, but that doesn’t stop us from filling it with a range of plants from apples to cherry, apricot, Asian pear, plum, kiwi, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries, fig and nectarine, along with my roses, hydrangeas, wisteria, trumpet vines, herbs and more! And they’re all grown in planter pots as we’re not allowed to dig into the soil in the park where we stay.
D.G. – Okay, that is just amazing!
What are your writing goals for this year?
I’m trying to publish a book every month or other month to see if it helps build up my
readership. I have several series going and I would like to see them done, or in the case of Wounded Hearts (7 books so far) added to before I lose the fans who love that series.
It’s a tough balance to keep up with one series when you have so many other ideas and commitments to fulfill. My ultimate goal for the year is to create at least two more box sets of my own books and get them listed in Kindle Unlimited. It’s surprising how many readers prefer to read box sets.
D.G. – Wow you are such a powerhouse Jacquie. I commend you on the way you discipline yourself and the way you can churn out your books!
What’s the worst part of publishing for you and why?
The hardest part of publishing is definitely getting reviews. I don’t mind marketing; I usually sign up for a book tour, do some newsletter crossovers, use paid ads, and of course, post regularly on Facebook groups. But asking for reviews feels a lot like begging and I hate that.
I’ve slowly built up a review crew through my newsletter of almost four hundred people, but even then, as you can see by my reviews, a lot of them either read the book and don’t post their review, or they don’t ask for the book in the first place.
I’m much happier gaining organic reviews, though it’s a sloooow process!
D.G. – I hear you girl! Reviews are truly an author’s gold, sadly, many readers don’t get that.
Do you have a difficult time choosing titles for your books? How do you choose your titles?
Interesting question. My titles come to me in different ways. Sometimes, like Tidal Falls, it’s the setting of the book, and other times, like The Sheriff Meets His Match, it’s the theme of the story. If none of those work, I turn to song titles. You can’t use lyrics as they are copyrighted, but titles fall under public domain and can be inspirational to your story.
My upcoming release, Sunset Beach, falls under the first category. It takes place on the small island of Blue Haven in the Pacific Northwest and uses my personal experience as a restaurant owner as one of the main settings in the story.
D.G. – Sounds fabulous! Funny how a certain place or time can spur a whole book. Thanks so much for sharing some of your creativity with us today.
Jacquie is tempting us now with an excerpt from her hot new release!
His eyes, those gorgeous blue orbs she’d dreamed of, stared at her with such a deep intensity butterflies took flight in her tummy. She hadn’t been this close to Trace in years. Her vision blurred, caught in a time warp between past and present. He smelled the same, an intoxicating mix of pine and sun and ocean breezes. She remembered the night she’d given him her virginity, the night she fell in love.
“Do you ever go back to Sunset Beach,” she asked, half afraid of what his answer might be. If he’d ever taken…
“No,” he answered, his voice rumbling over her emotions the way his feet had done to her heart. “Do you?”
Her laugh lacked humor. “Back to my biggest mistake? Not likely.” She was being
deliberately cruel but couldn’t help it. He’d ruined her for anyone else that summer—it wasn’t fair.
He tipped her chin up, his thumb close to her bottom lip, causing those butterflies to beat themselves against the walls of her chest. “I still remember everything about that night. You wore a pretty white dress and your hair was done up in a ponytail. I wanted to wrap my hand in it and kiss you senseless.”
“I think you did.” She smiled, caught up in the memories he wove like a master tailor. “I
knew what you were up to with that blanket and picnic hamper, but I didn’t care. The great Trace Michaels wanted me—I could barely believe it was happening.”
He brushed his thumb over her lip, igniting the embers of a long-ago fire. “We were good together, Mona. I’m sorrier than you can ever know that I screwed it up.”
She yanked free, angry and embarrassed at her weakness. “Screwed Sally, you mean? You were a free agent, it didn’t matter.” Or so she’d spent the next ten years trying to convince herself. “It’s all water under the bridge now anyway. I’d sooner stick to the subject at hand. What are you going to do about the spa?”
His dark brows drew together, and he opened his mouth as though he had something to say, before letting it snap shut. Instead, he leaned back, crossed his leg over his knee, and took a sip of his coffee before eyeing her over the rim of the cup. “I think I’ll leave the politics for the debate table. After all, you’ve known for some time who your opponent would be, I need time to study mine.” He tipped his cup at her and winked.
I’m delighted to be featuring here the Lovely Jane Sturgeon and her new book – Writing on Water, today at Q and A with D.G. Kaye. In this nonfiction book, Jane writes about self-awareness, reflection, and getting in tune with our inner selves. Jane is a pure delight to be around. Her goodness and content heart shine through in all her writing. I’m thrilled to have Jane over here today spreading her inspiration.
Jane has been a systems analyst, trainer, technical author, painter, psychic medium,
furniture restorer, de-clutterer, therapist and creative. She has lived in Africa and The
States, looked after many farms, loved through two marriages, is Mum to an
extraordinary young woman and loves making things. She lives next to the Mersey
River where it meets the Irish Sea and shares her life with loved ones and an
impressive collection of yarn.
Self-awareness is the first book in her Writing on Water series.
Each one of us holds stories about ourselves and these drive our lives. Thoughts are attached to emotions and actions spring from how we feel. Old stories can be re-written, new stories can be crafted and discoveries are made along the way. It is the tapestry of life and yes, you can weave with whatever threads you choose. Loving support, fresh perspectives and new life tools can make all the difference.
Life is a journey. When you amass knowledge and experience, it’s a generous and caring gift to offer that information to others. Jane Sturgeon has done so with her book, Writing on Water: Self-awareness. I became acquainted with this author through her blog, where she shares advice, thoughts, and feedback with others. Based on what she’s accomplished and undertaken in her life thus far, the words and wisdom will benefit many readers.
The book is on the shorter side, perhaps an intro for more to come from this author. Her advice in this edition focuses on tenderness, knowing when enough is enough, sea glass impressions, instincts, things we love, getting all twisted up, being hijacked (emotionally), and staying small. Within each of these sections, Jane shares a life experience, not always a positive one, that led to her awakening or spiritual conflict. Considering what to do when in a difficult relationship? Frustrated by people who try to take over your life? Uncertain how to relax and just let time tell you what you need to do? All these questions and many more come to the surface.
The book is not religious; if anything, I’d say it’s spiritual, forming a connection with the natural world and the silence around us. In a moment of need, Jane was thoroughly nervous and angry about a situation she had to handle. All the negativity almost ensured her situation would conclude far worse than she hoped, but something intervened, and in the end, Jane was given a gift. What a wonderful way to see your life turn around, even in smaller increments, when you need it to. I was most impressed by Jane’s life experience between 18 and 21 in South Africa. She had tons of courage and conviction, something I don’t think I could’ve found in my youth.
So… if you’d like to read about a wonderfully kind and open-minded woman’s opinions, learn from a life coach, and determine what might need some change in your life, this would be a good intro book, as it’s filled with tangible evidence of how altering her mindset helped Jane move forward. I’m glad to have the opportunity to read the book and share a review with you. The last line is the best… and I won’t share it all… but I will say “held us back from flowing with authenticity” is an eye-opening section.
Time to get to know more about Jane:
Do events in your daily life inspire your writing ideas?
Yes, every day. I can catch a glimpse of the seagulls flying in formation, a pattern in
the waves, the joy of a dog running across the beach or overhear a snippet of
conversation in the local shop and the words will start to stream in. It is always linked
to how something makes me feel.
D.G. – I know this about you Jane. You certainly know how to appreciate all the beauty the world as to offer.
Is there something you wish you were better at with the self publishing process?
Marketing and promoting. Goodness me, I have been caught unawares by how
much you need to do this as an indie author. I am learning more about it every day
and it’s a ‘work in progress’. I have discovered that it helps to be unafraid to try
different things, to listen and observe others and what they do and to laugh when I
trip up. It is a steep learning curve yet rewarding as you start to realise the different
things you are capable of and feel the wonderful support from fellow indies.
D.G. – Lol Jane, it is a rude awakening isn’t it? There is so much to becoming a published writer that it sometimes feels the writing is the smallest part of what we do. Thank goodness for our wonderful community to help us along.
Do you believe in ‘writer’s block’? If so, how do you deal with it?
I believe that everything in life is an energy and our creativity comes from our inner
energy source. If we’re tired, stressed, upset, hungry or strung out, then our creative
energy is depleted. Our balance is out of whack. We sit down to write and as our
bucket dips into the creative well, the energy source is low or not there at all. I have
found that pushing is fruitless, so I switch tack into self-care. Walking helps, as does
rest, making things with my hands, or seeing friends. Chocolate does find its way
into the mix sometimes and I try not to have any in the house, as the nearest shop is
up a very steep hill (which is a blessing).
D.G. – You’ve said a mouthful Jane. I do concur though, no point banging our heads on keyboards when the energy isn’t there. Best to find something else to work on and eventually inspiration finds us again.
Jane is sharing an Excerpt from her book with us:
I recall a well-known agony aunt in the United Kingdom, the lovely Denise
Robertson, saying that most of the letters she received were rooted in lack of self-
The inner tape of not being good enough can drive us in so many little ways, most of
which we are unaware of. We can decide to gift ourselves time to exercise, start a
new project, try to create different meals, see friends more often, begin a night class;
all manner of new things and then we prioritise other things in their place.
In our technology-led lives, we are constantly bombarded with messages on how to
improve ourselves. There’s irony there, because the underlying message can be
perceived as us not being good enough as we are, which adds to the inner tape
playing. It’s no wonder we stall and struggle to introduce new things into our daily
In the few hours I had gifted myself to write this morning as soon as I was
comfortable with a fresh coffee by my side, my internal chatter started.
‘Did you put cream on your legs after your bath this morning?’
‘Have you put a load of laundry in the washing machine?’
‘Your plants need de-heading before it gets too hot.’
The inner chat is constant and is the root of much internal distraction and self-
sabotage. If we listen, we get in the way of ourselves and stay safe in the familiar,
whilst messing up anything new we try to start.
Stalling on hopes, dreams and wishes is not a reflection on us not being good
enough, because we certainly are. It’s about us living; exploring, trying different
things, taking a risk, experimenting on what brings us joy and peeling back the
gossamer layers to find out who we really are. It is about us discovering our truth.
I wish to say a heartfelt ‘Thank you’ to Debby for her generosity, support and kindness in creating a post for me on her fabulous blog. From her huge heart she lifts and inspires many of us and her friendship is a gift.
Jane, I am so humbled. It was a pleasure having you and your beautiful book over here today. Thank you too for the beautiful image. You are such a delight. ♥
Happy New Year everyone! Welcome back to my first Q and A of the year with today’s feature, French- Canadian author, Carol Balawyder and her new #Thriller release – Warnings Signs. I’m a big fan of Carol’s writing and have read all her books from her heartfelt memoir – Mourning Has Broken to her Mr. Right series, and now her newest release – a psychological thriller, which I’ve recently finished reading and will be thrilled to share my review soon. Carol is one of my oldest blogging friends I connected with soon after I first began blogging. So with no further ado, I’m delighted to introduce you to Carol.
I was born and brought up in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada but have lived most of my life in Montreal. As a child, learning to speak, I had the good fortune of acquiring English and French simultaneously. My early outside world was a French neighborhood while my inside world (home) was the language and culture of my Slavic roots – a mixture of Russian and Polish though because of the wars it is hard to tell
I taught English for years at different colleges and universities, including Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology in Vietnam. Because I was unable to find suitable material for the Business English course I was teaching, using my then married name Carol Ann Fournier, I created Open for Business a student workbook, along with a teacher’s guide and tape.
After completing a Master’s Degree in Criminology from The University of Montreal, I taught criminology in the Police Technology and Corrections Programs at Ahuntsic College in Montreal. In the midst of my divorce and my sister and mother’s
deaths, I wrote my comedy-romantic Getting to Mr. Right series and Mourning has Broken, a collection of vignettes on grief and loss.
My short stories have appeared in Room Magazine, Mindful.org, The Anthology of Canadian Writers.
I manage a blog www.carolbalawyder.com where I post on various categories: Famous Writers’ Desks, Female Nobel Prize Laureates in Literature, Review of books written by fellow bloggers, Femme Fatales, and my dog, Bau. Check it out!
Warning Signs is my debut novel in the crime genre.
Eugene’s research into his criminal mind is not about the why, but how to prevent his horrific crimes. Angie, a young woman starving for passion sees Eugene as her saviour from a lonely life of caring for her heroin addicted mother. How far is she willing to go in order to save her relationship with Eugene and his promise for a future together?
Detective Van Ray is out on a vindictive mission as he attempts to solve the murders of young girls in Youth Protection.
Their lives collide in a mixture of mistrust, obsession and ignoring the warning signs. A psychological thriller about human frailty and loneliness.
Time to get to know more about Carol:
Do some of your own character traits or personal experiences spill into your book’s characters?
There I am, age twenty-seven, writing on a Smith Corona typewriter. I was working on a novel which I never finished but I still have it somewhere along with a stack of other
first drafts. At times, when I come across them, I tell myself that I’ll get back to them when I’m old and don’t know what to do with my time. Well, I’m old now and have plenty to do with my time. Writing has come in waves with me. There were times that I thought of giving it up completely and did so for a few months, even years, but it crept back up on me. The photo was taken in a cabin up in the Quebec Laurentians along Riviere Rouge. Both the cabin and Riviere Rouge are part of the setting for my latest novel Warning Signs.
D.G. – Fantastic backstory Carol. And you are from from old!
Who is your favorite author and why?
Julian Barnes. Hands down. He not only is a terrific writer but I love what he writes about, especially his latest novel The Only Story. Having said this, there are so many other authors that I love. Some of them write about romance, some memoirs or biographies and of course crime novels, in particular domestic crime novels such as Leila Slimani (The Perfect Nanny), Paula Hawkins (The Girl on the Train) and
Shari Lapena (The Couple Next Door).
With my dog, Bau, we volunteer at a school in Point St. Charles (one of Canada’s poorest neighborhoods) for children with special needs. Wanting to do a bit of research on The Point in order to use as setting for a future novel, I googled and came
across the writer Kathy Dobson’s memoir of growing up there. I was expecting a serious book – after all nothing funny about poverty, right? But Kathy Dobson is hilarious as she questions the differences between social classes and presents a candid and provoking voice as first hand witness to being brought up in poverty all in a style reminiscent of The Catcher in the Rye.
Having a favorite author is like having a favorite song. The song is number one for a few weeks or even months on the charts and then there’s another number one to replace it. These days Kathy Dobson is one of my favorite authors. It was a great
discovery for me, especially her being practically from my doorsteps.
Do your books have messages in them?
In writing a post on Olga Tokarczuk – the latest Nobel Prize Laureate for literature – I came across this quote of hers: “… just writing a book to know who is the killer is wasting paper and time, so I decided to put into it animal rights and a story of dissenting citizens who realize that the law is immoral and see how far can they can go with saying no to it.”
This made me think about the messages I am interested in exploring through my writing. Messages about loneliness, poverty, homelessness and social injustice. In my Getting to Mr. Right series I touch upon such subjects as Multiple Sclerosis, Down Syndrome and the Prince Charming Myth. I love the research part of writing and therefore try to tackle a subject which I have little knowledge about. I know…write what you know but sometimes I find that boring.
In my latest novel, I took a risk in writing about a serial killer whereby I wanted to give the message that although his actions were monstrous, there was also a lot of hurt and rage inside of him because of childhood abuses. As a criminologist, my goal was to try to understand his abhorrent behavior in the hopes that a “cure” may be possible for these lost and evil inhabited souls and to put forth the hypothesis that one is not
necessarily born evil but a product of many other factors, such as upbringing, social inequalities and environmental dynamics and personality disorders. I was also interested in the betrayal theme and obsession.
D.G. – Fascinating insights Carol. And I think ‘write what you know’ is a good starting point layered with always learning.
How do you promote your work? Do you find marketing and social media overwhelming?
Forget about how I promote my work. I’m really weak at that and am grateful for my blogging community to invite me for reviews. Thank you, Debby, for your generosity and interest in my writing. What I really want to talk about is blogging. Do I find social media overwhelming? Yes. Double yes. Triple yes. Now, understand that I manage only a blog. I am on no other social media and wonder how those who are on Facebook,
Twitter, Reddit, Instagram, Pinterest and so forth do it. It’s not that I don’t find these platforms interesting. On the contrary, but I can hardly keep up to blogging even once a week, let alone updating my website and keeping up with my fellow bloggers.
D.G. – I feel your pain Carol. I am one of those ‘all over the map’ when it comes to trying to be everywhere and still churn out some writing. It’s overwhelming to say the least!
Do you have an interesting writing quirk or habit that helps you with your writing?
It’s not so much a quirk or habit but rather a belief and has to do with co-creating with the Universe. I am a firm believer in being guided and connected to spirit energy to assist me in my writing and to open my mind to write with clarity, sensitivity and joy. Hopefully.
Before I begin to write, I usually start off by listening to an inspirational message. For example, before writing my answers to these questions I listened to Pura Rasa (Receiving Messages & Blessings from Spirit Guides). While writing I mostly always listen to background music which inspires creativity, concentration and focus. Two channels I like are Brainwave Power Music and The Brainwave Hub but there are
many more such as Denzel Washington’s video on the importance of gratitude.
Drop expectations and try to keep positive.
D.G. – I love your ritual Carol; I can definitely see how becoming one with yourself and thoughts can help quiet the mind and help with creativity. Thank you for sharing this video and for being with us here today. I enjoyed learning more about you.
Welcome to the last of 2019 author interviews. And I’m happy to send off the season with my featured author guest Darlene Foster. Darlene has recently released another book in her Amanda travels series – Amanda in Holland: Missing in Action. And Darlene is already working on the next book in the series! Let’s find out what she’s up to!
Brought up on a ranch in Canada, Darlene dreamt of travelling the world and
meeting interesting people. She has always loved to tell stories and was
encouraged by her grade three teacher to write them down. She is the author of
the exciting adventure series featuring 12-year-old Amanda Ross who loves to
travel. Readers of all ages enjoy travelling with Amanda as she unravels one
mystery after another in countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Spain,
England, Germany, Holland and her own country, Canada. When not travelling
herself, Darlene divides her time between the sunny Costa Blanca of Spain and
the west coast of Canada.
Amanda is in Holland to see the tulips with her best friend, Leah; as well as travelling the canals of Amsterdam, visiting Anne Frank House, checking out windmills and a wooden shoe factory, and taking pictures of the flowers of Keukenhof Gardens. She is keen to find out what happened to her great uncle who never returned from WWII and was declared missing in action. What she doesn’t expect to find and fall in love with is Joey, an abandoned puppy. While trying to find a home for him, she meets Jan, a Dutch boy who offers to help, a suspicious gardener, a strange woman on a bicycle, and an overprotective goose named Gerald. Follow Amanda around the charming country of Holland, filled with colourful tulips, windmills, and more bicycles than she could have imagined. Once again, intrepid traveller Amanda encounters danger and intrigue as she tries to solve more than one mystery in a foreign country.
Amanda in Holland was a wonderful read. I enjoyed the way Amanda and
Leah interacted and the fast pace of the story. Having the tale told mostly
through conversation was different from the things I usually read. It was
very effective. I don't often read thrillers, so I was kept guessing until you
tied up all the loose ends. The way you wove in historical places and events
was marvelous. It made me want to look back at the photos I took when we
visited Holland. That was almost 40 years ago, but you made the country
come alive for me again.
Thank you very much for sending me the book. You are a fantastic writer,
and reading this book was delightful. I’ll be aware of your travels through
your blog and wondering how you might use the setting for the next Amanda
Now let’s get to know a little more about Darlene:
Do some of your own character traits or personal experiences spill into your book’s characters?
Of course, I think it can´t be helped. As a writer creates characters, some
of their own traits and experiences will naturally creep in. My main
character, Amanda Ross, loves animals and enjoys travelling to different
countries, as I do. She is well-read, inquisitive, enjoys cooking and likes to
help people. These are all similar interests and attributes of mine. My books
are based on my own travel experiences and I often include what I noticed
and how I felt while visiting the location in my stories. Leah, Amanda’s friend,
loves fashion and shopping, like I do. She is often impatient, as I can be, and
says things I would say.
I once read an interview with an author who suggested that all characters
in a book have a bit of the writer in them, even the villains, as everyone has a
light and a dark side. Food for thought.
D.G. – I wholeheartedly agree Darlene. It would be hard not to incorporate parts of us or at least our observances on life into our stories.
What can you tell us you’ve gained from blogging as an author?
I have been blogging for ten years and it has been an awesome
experience. I have met many wonderful people, like you, in the blogging
world that I would not have met otherwise. And I have learned so much from
everyone. Fiction and nonfiction authors, travel writers, cooks, historians,
animal lovers and environmentalists have all shared their knowledge and
helped me become a better writer. Reading interviews like this, writing tips,
unique news stories and information about other parts of the world have all
contributed to my stories by giving me ideas and motivation. I consider the
blogging community as part of the support group that helps me to eventually
publish a book. So what I have gained is knowledge, inspiration, support and
most of all friends!
D.G.. – I would say that’s an apt description Darlene. Blogging and being part of a community who understands what the craft of writing means is a blessing, particularly when the people in our daily lives don’t have an inkling as to what’s involved.
Who is your favorite author and why?
I have many favourite authors but Jane Austen is one of my all-time
favourites. She was a master of character development. I love how she could
take a small village or community and create a world we could all feel part of,
full of interesting people we care about. She was so good at making fun of
people as well. Oh to have her wit. The fact that people still enjoy her work
two hundred years later speaks for itself. My reading time is limited so I
seldom reread books, but I have reread her books a number of times and
always learn something new when I do.
D.G. – We can only wish people will share interest in our books when we’re too long gone.
Where do you believe your passion for storytelling originated from?
I was a lucky kid. We didn’t have a TV in our home until I was eleven
years old. For entertainment, I made up stories in my head. I would have my
teddy bears and dolls act out my stories. There was an old abandoned Model
T Ford on our property which my aunt and I would sit in and pretend we
were on driving holidays all over the world, having adventures. I also come
from a long line of storytellers. My grandfather loved to tell stories as did his
father. Sitting around the dinner table, we were encouraged to share stories
when I was growing up. Even when we eventually got a TV, it was never on
while we ate. Our father would often tell us stories before bed and I would
continue them in my mind before I fell asleep. It is an inherent passion.
D.G. – An inherent gift more like it, lol. How amazing that you were encouraged to share your stories. No surprise that you’ve carried on that childhood trait of creating stories and now writing for other children to help them create their own fantasies.
Would you like to share with us what upcoming projects and/or ideas for books you’re working on?
I have completed the first draft of Amanda in Malta: The Sleeping Lady
and have begun the editing process. The release is scheduled for spring 2021.
In this adventure, Leah is in Malta and she’s in trouble. Amanda,
desperate to help her friend, travels to Malta with her friend Caleb and his
parents. She is intrigued with this exotic place full of colourful history,
limestone fortresses, stunning beaches and fascinating birds. But, who is
shooting the birds and who stole the Sleeping Lady from the museum? And
why is Leah acting so strange? Join Amanda and her friends as they visit
ancient temples, gorgeous islands, an exciting falconry and Popeye’s Village
while trying to unravel the mystery of the Sleeping Lady.
I have also scribbled some notes for Amanda in France. I have an idea for
a picture book and possibly a graphic novel. I am also working on an
anthology of creative nonfiction short stories about growing up on the
Canadian prairies. There is no rest for the creative.
D.G. – You are such a dynamo Darlene! No doubts the Amanda fans will be thrilled to hear the series continues! I wish you great continued success!
And now for an Excerpt of Amanda in Holland:
They all piled into the car, Leah in the front, Amanda and Jan in the back with Joey between them.
Amanda enjoyed the scenery as they drove along the highway. “It’s so flat and very green.”
Jan explained how Holland is actually below sea level in many places, and dykes were built to keep the water out. “No doubt you have heard the story of the little boy and the dyke?”
“No, I haven’t.” Amanda shook her head. “Tell us?”
“Well,” Jan began, “a long time ago, a small boy was on his way to school when he noticed a leak in the dyke. He saw the seawater trickle through the opening and knew that even a small hole could eventually become bigger. If too much water flowed through, the village could be flooded. So, he poked his finger into the hole to stop the water, even though it meant he would be late for school and get into trouble. He stood there with his finger in the hole for a long time, until eventually someone saw him and got help. The hole was repaired, and the boy became a hero for saving his village.”
“That is such a great story. Is it true?” asked Amanda.
“It’s more like a legend. The story is told to children to show them that even a small child can prevent a disaster if they use their wits. Actually, an American author, Mary Mapes Dodge, first wrote about it a hundred and fifty years ago in her book, Hans Brinker or The Silver Skates.”
“That’s so interesting, don’t you think, Leah?”
“Yeah, sure.” Leah turned the page of her fashion magazine. “I heard that story when I was a little girl. What do you think of this outfit?” She turned around and held up the page.
Amanda smiled. “That’s very nice. It would look good on you.”
Everyone kept quiet as they passed more farm buildings and neatly tilled fields.
“Turn left,” said the GPS woman.
Mr. Anderson turned the corner and slammed on the brakes. A large, angry goose stood in the middle of the road with its wings flapping and neck stretched forward as it honked.
Amanda laughed. “What a silly goose!”
“That’s my grandfather’s goose. He likes to think he is protecting the property,” said Jan.
“You mean he’s like a guard goose.” Amanda grinned.
Jan got out of the car and spoke to the goose in Dutch. The irate bird finally left the road and waddled into the field, his eye still on them.
Leah’s dad rolled down the window. “Thanks, mate. I wasn’t sure how we would get past him. Get back in and we’ll take you to where you need to be.”
Jan climbed back into the car. “You can drop me off over there.” He pointed to a farmyard in the distance.
As they neared the farm, Amanda noticed the rustic house with a sloping roof that looked like a face with a large, slouched hat pulled over its eyes. “Is this where your grandparents live?”
“Yes, they have always lived here, and so has my great-grandmother. It’s her family home,” answered Jan.
The place looked inviting and cozy. Someone pulled aside a lace curtain and peered out the window. Grey eyes met Amanda’s. The curtain dropped.
Thank you so much, Debby for this opportunity to answer your questions. Should I ever get to Toronto we will definitely meet up.
My pleasure Darlene. And yes! I would look so forward to meeting in person! 🙂
Welcome to Q and A with D.G. Kaye interview series. Today I’m happy to introduce here, friend and fellow Canadian author, Lisa Thomson. Lisa is mostly a nonfiction writer who shares lots of herself and her anecdotes and empowering advice for women going through divorce. But her teachings, in conversational writing, invite anyone to read her wisdoms as she has lots of life experience to offer. And her teachings can easily be applied to any kind of loss in life. Let’s get on with the show!
Lisa’s passion for writing began during her divorce and has blossomed into more
creative pursuit without losing that drive to help others. Her two self-help books,
The great Escape; A Girl’s Guide To Leaving a Marriage and A divorce Companion,
help economically-dependent women going through divorce.
Hearts Unbroken-short stories, is her first published fiction. A collection of stories
featuring characters facing tough decisions. Finding love, losing it, and remaining
faithful to their hearts, these characters will show you the power of love.
Lisa’s new release, The Wine Diaries: Musings on Divorce Paired With Wine, is a
collection of personal stories surrounding the author’s divorce journey and
ensuing life lessons. Each diary entry is paired with a wine that suits the mood and
emotions in the writing. This lovely collection of stories will inspire anyone going
through divorce or a dramatic life change. The reader is encouraged to write in
their own diary with writing prompts at the end of each essay. A decidedly
hopeful book, viewing the glass as half full. Wine therapy included!
Lisa resides in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. She was featured in “B.C.
Book World News” as an Indie author to watch. This mom of 3 can be found
practicing Yoga, painting, and junk journaling when she is not wine tasting or
The Wine Diaries is sure to please those who love to snoop in someone’s diary. If you are navigating divorce or unexpected life changes, this essay collection is bound to comfort and satisfy. With each diary entry paired with a wine suggestion, you will remain quenched in heart, mind and palate. Grab your wine glass and join Lisa for a virtual wine tour of the heart.
Now let’s get to know Lisa a little better:
How many books have you written? Do you have a favorite of your books and if so, why?
I’ve written four books. It’s hard to choose a favorite (kind of like choosing a
favorite child). If pressed, my first book, The Great Escape: A Girl’s Guide To
Leaving a Marriage, would be my favorite. It’s my original divorce self-help guide,
and memoir style book written for economically dependent women. The sweat
and tears I put into it, plus, the fact that it almost didn’t see the light of day makes
it even more special to me.
D.G. – I can empathize with your gruel Lis.
Do you have a difficult time choosing titles for your books? How do you choose your titles?
Not really. I have almost always chosen the title before writing the actual book.
The titles pop into my head shortly after the book idea itself. There was one
exception though, where my working title did not end up being the official title.
The Icing on The Cake: Short Stories became Hearts Unbroken: Short Stories.
Amazon search engines will sometimes have us re-think our working titles, right?
The Icing on The Cake came up with cookbooks. This would be misleading for my
target audience. Nevertheless, I love a good working title. I can’t get motivated on
a manuscript if it hasn’t got a great title. For example, current WIP’s on my shelf;
Borderline Hysterical, Polarized and Daughter of the Moon. I love all of these titles
but they may eventually change, of course.
D.G. – A lot like me Lis. I’ve always had a knack for titles and headlines. Maybe it comes easier for nonfiction writers?
Do your books have messages in them? If so, what are the messages you feel are well received by your readers?
Yes. Female empowerment. Coming out of the fire of divorce, healing after break
ups or major losses, and love wins in the end. Even my fiction carries that same
D.G. – As one who has read some of your books, I will confirm that!
Is there a particular time period in your life that has influenced your writing most?
Definitely. My divorce had a major impact on me emotionally and physically. But
it wasn’t all negative. There were plenty of positive results and learning
experiences that have propelled my writing.
D.G. – I think it’s great that you summoned the courage to share your own experiences to help others.
Do you agree with the general consensus that writers are loners?
Not exactly. I mean, we have to get ‘out there’ to get ideas. I believe most writers
have extremely exuberant personalities. Think of Hemingway. He was famous for
partying and enjoying the company of other writers. Sure, it created competition
between him and his buddies but I doubt we would have A Moveable Feast if he
was truly a loner. I could go on with examples but suffice to say I think it’s a myth.
Of course, us writers need some down time to do our thinking, brain storming and
cerebral work. That’s not something non-creatives necessarily require. When
we’re staring into space, we’re using our minds…some people find this hard to
believe. Let’s keep them guessing!
D.G. – Lol so true. Nobody knows what lurks in our minds as we sit in silence. A writer’s mind is never silent!
Do you edit and proofread your own work solely or do you hire an editor?
I always hire an editor. It’s crucial in my opinion. I’ll add, too, that having beta
readers is also an effective way to get feedback and make improvements on your
stories. After the professional editing though, there is still a tremendous amount
of work to do. When it comes down to the final draft, your instincts will
sometimes override suggestions. Keeping your voice and original purpose in your
book is key.
D.G. – I agree 100%. It’s essential we keep our voice recognizable.
If you could have any of your books made into a movie, which one would you choose and why?
I love this question! Borderline Hysterical (still a WIP) was originally drafted up on
a spoof to shed light on how ridiculous the divorce process can be. I dreamed of it
being an HBO series. Haha!
I would love to see one of my short stories from Hearts Unbroken, made into a
Hallmark movie. Does that sound silly?
In “Sarah’s Decision”, the MC takes a road trip to deal with her growing
uncertainty of her marriage. What happens along the way is a quiet recognition of
what’s missing in her life. Meeting random people, eating at diners, taking a rest
at a cemetery…all lead her to come to a conclusion and finally lose her constant
companion of regret. It has all the ingredients for a Hallmark film; young woman
on the brink, looking for love, pies, and a road trip.
D.G. – Well, I for one would definitely be watching. I really think your divorce stories could actually make a great HBO series!
Can you tell us about your new release, The Wine Diaries?
Well, it’s my most personal book to date. I share experiences related to my
divorce and how I got there. Where my journey to separation began and how I
knew when my marriage was over. In addition, I write about some of the signs
that I ignored during my marriage.
I almost didn’t publish this one out of fear. My fear was that of being vulnerable.
I’m putting my life out there even more than I did in my first book. I spent many a
night contemplating the pros and cons of publishing this book. In the end,
obviously, publishing won out. Ultimately, I hope to help those who are going
through divorce right now, or perhaps in an unhappy marriage or relationship.
Also, I believe this book will help people going through a major loss or life
change…because the emotions involved in these scenarios are very similar.
The best part of this book is the wine, of course. While we deal with some heavy
topics, we pair each one with a suitable wine. As I explain in the introduction,
wine is a tonic to our difficulties in life. Enjoyed responsibly, wine can act as a
stress reducer and a be a lovely evening ritual.
So happy to be featuring author Jane Risdon here today for a little Q and A. Jane is a wonderful author, formerly in the music biz, but always writing it seems. Jane has newly released her book Undercover: Crime Shorts. Have a read below as we get to know more about her and her fascinating life.
Jane Risdon has spent most of her life working in the International Music Business rubbing shoulders with the powerful and famous, especially in Hollywood.
Married to a musician and later working alongside him managing singers, musicians, songwriters, and record producers, she’s also facilitated the placement of music on successful television series and movie soundtracks.
Her experiences have provided her with a unique insight into the business and her writing often hasa music related theme. She is published by Headline Accent.
With long-term friend, award-winning, best-selling author, Christina Jones – one time fan-club secretary for Jane’s husband’s band – Jane has co-authored Only One Woman (Headline Accent) which is set in the UK music scene of 1968/69 and is published in paperback and eBook.
Recently Jane completed a collection of her first short crime stories – Undercover: Crime Shorts -published in both eBook and Paperback (Plaisted Publishing House Ltd).
Jane is working on the sequel to Only One Woman as well as a series of crime novels – Ms Birdsong Investigates – featuring former MI5 Officer Lavinia Birdsong – which she plans to complete in 2020. Her experience of working at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in her pre-music days has given her plenty of material for her crime/thrillers.
Jane writes for online and print magazines and has contributed to 16 anthologies. She also writes a blog and often hosts guest authors. She is also a regular guest on blogs and on internet radio shows broadcasting with a global reach, including UK, USA and Australia.Her books are available in Waterstones and all good book stores as well as via various digital platforms.
My most recent publication is ‘Undercover: Crime Shorts’ – a collection of short crime stories designed to be read when time is tight and a full-length novel isn’t convenient. Each story is different and designed to be read in one sitting. I explore motives for murder and devise unusual, yet everyday methods of despatch for my victims. I like to add red-herrings, twists and turns, to puzzle and grip the reader so that it is not until the very end of each story that everything is revealed.
The excerpt from ‘Ms Birdsong Investigates’ is called Undercover for reasons which become apparent as the story unfolds. I hope it intrigues and grips my reader so that when Ms Birdsong is published it will be met with excitement and anticipation. I try to write what I like reading.
My favourite authors are all crime or espionage writers and I aspire – one day – to become a fraction as good as they are at telling a gripping tale. Kathy Reichs is a favourite, and it is because of her attention to detail and the way she paints her scenes, I was encouraged to study Forensic Science, Criminal Justice, and basic Archaeology, so that I could write with accurate and current knowledge of how to work a crime scene through to identification of a victim and to the criminal investigation and
eventual court case. I don’t write police procedurals, but I feel that I have the background information I need to make my writing believable and as error-free as it can be.
Under one cover for the first time a collection of Crime Shorts from Jane Risdon featuring previously unpublished stories which will have you on the edge of your seat.
There is an extract from Jane’s forthcoming novel (series) Ms Birdsong Investigates Murder at Ampney Parva: Operation Matryoshka – with the title of Undercover – for those who’ve been awaiting this series about a former MI5 Intelligence Office, Lavinia Birdsong. There’s something for everyone who enjoys a good yarn and more twists and turns than Spaghetti Junction.
Author and former detective Roger A Price says: Undercover: Crime Shorts is the ideal companion for the crime fiction fan’s daily commute. You’ll run out of journey before you run out of book with this cleverly crafted mix of crime fiction short stories. Beware as you might miss your stop!
Reader Gloria Clulow says: As with all your stories I find them intriguing and unpredictable, leaving me wanting more; I don’t want them to end.
Margot Kinberg, Associate Professor and author says of Undercover: What a gripping story, so well written. You’ve packed so much ‘punch’ into it, loved it. I really felt the rising tension and suspicion! You’ve captured the suspense of it beautifully and it is such a great set-up with good characters.
Reader Tina Jaray says of Undercover: Wow, I could hardly breathe while I read this. Glad it was short or I would’ve joined the corpse!
Author Dave Michael Prosser says of Murder by Christmas: What a fantastic story. I was glued to the screen and stopped work which means another late night (thanks).
Author Jeff Lee says of The Honey Trap: Great story. You completely blind-sided me with your twist at the end. I didn’t see that one coming. Loved it. Jane is an awesome writer and an author of exceptional talent.
Author Stacy Margaret Allan says of Undercover: Wow, Jane, this is one of the best stories I have ever read. It doesn’t matter that it is so short, I was right there with her and this blew me away. You are such a good writer!
Now that we’ve gotten to know a little more about Jane, let’s head to some more personal questions:
Is there a particular time period in your life that has influenced your writing most?
I’ve thought about this recently, strangely enough. Every period of my life has influenced my writing and in different ways.
My childhood was spent as part of an Army family constantly moving overseas (Singapore, Germany, for example) and, for me, changing schools and never getting to make any friends for long has impacted me greatly I think. I was a lonely child who had responsibility for an ever increasing number of younger siblings and I retreated into my imagination for company and entertainment. I read a great deal – mostly crime and espionage authors – and scribbled short stories in red 6d (oldmoney) notebooks, laying the foundations for eventually becoming a writer it seems. Solitude is our constant companion as writers, out of necessity; it is just the blank screen or sheet of paper and us, ultimately. I think this period made me adventurous with a lust for travel and excitement. When we arrived in Germany in 1957 we were part of a Missile regiment and were met with riots and hostility, even though we were there to protect the Germans from the Russians. It fired my imagination I’m sure.
In the late 1960s we moved back to Germany. The time I spent there influenced me so much I used it the novel, ‘Only One Woman,’ which I’ve written with the successful and best-selling author, Christina Jones. The novel uses some of my experiences and those of Christina’s – heavily fictionalised obviously. Just before I left for Germany I met my (now) husband who is a musician, and that feeling of leaving someone I loved behind – possibly for years – helped me write about the grief and loneliness, as well as longing, which my main character Renza felt living apart from the love of her life in the novel. Christina was fan-club secretary for my husband’s band and so she knew what
we went through. She and I both have an extensive knowledge of life in the Sixties music scene and it has proven priceless. We wrote ‘Only One Woman’ from our knowledge and own experiences.
As I mentioned earlier I read crime and espionage novels voraciously, and I’ve always wanted to write in both genres. My experiences working at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in Whitehall, in the early 1970s, really set my imagination on fire. My department handled everything to do with staff overseas in our Embassies and it was the height of the Cold War and the IRA activities on mainland Britain. The UK kicked almost 100 Russian spies out of England and they reciprocated by
doing the same to our Embassy staff. The Ambassador to Montevideo (Uruguay), Geoffrey Jackson, was kidnapped in 1970 by Tupamaros guerrillas during my first months at the FCO, and we workedflat out as negotiations were on-going to get him freed, which was exciting. He was freed in 1971. We were hauled several times daily from our offices due to IRA bomb scares, and made to stand on the pavement outside our building which was the Old Scotland Yard building on the Victoria embankment in those days, and there were lots of events happening all around the world involving
our diplomats and spies. All this fuelled my thirst for anything to do with espionage.
My husband and I eventually went into the other side of the international music business working with recording artists, musicians, singer-songwriters, and record producers. We facilitated the placement of music on soundtracks for movies and television series in Hollywood and Bollywood and around the world. Our experiences have found their way into my writing. I’ve written crime stories set in the world of music and movies. The movers and shakers in Hollywood and beyond have proven a fantastic source of material. You only need to read about the shenanigans of some of the household names at the top of the music and movie business to know where my inspiration has its roots.
I wish I could say one period of my life has influenced my writing the most but I can’t really pick any particular time. Everything has melded my writing. It is the sum of all parts and with each story I write another memory finds its way into the plot and characters, sub-consciously at times, and deliberately quite often.
D.G. – Wow, what an eclectic life you’ve led Jane!
Which author friends of yours inspire you by being supportive to your writing?
This is an easy one to answer. I’ve mentioned her already, Christina Jones. Christina is a friend in real life and we’ve known each other 51 years. When I met her she was a short story writer – since the age of 14 when she was first published – and a rock/pop journalist working for teen magazines such as Jackie, and various women’s magazines. She’d met my husband’s band at one of their gigs back in 1968 and their manager asked her to be their fan-club secretary. We became friends and she knew I wanted to write. We both determined very early on in our friendship that we would one-day write
together. Since I didn’t write romance and she didn’t write crime it was hard to think how we’d ever manage it.
It wasn’t until many years later when her career had really taken off and she was an award-winning and best-selling author, I dared let her read anything I’d written. I cringed with fear when I sent her my first offerings. I’d been writing a series of stories which I’d given various titles and which weren’t (strangely) crime stories. I’d been writing about life in a small village and the characters who encountered each other every week at the local bus-stop, who were all in their old age and who’d gone to school and grown up together. I called these, ‘God’s Waiting Room.’ Another set of stories is called, ‘It’s a long way to Tipperary,’ and there is ‘Granny Takes a Trip,’ and also, ‘Stairway to Heaven.’ Still on my computer I might add. I really must do something with them. I call them ‘observational humour.’
Christina told me she laughed until she cried, reading them. She usually read them in bed and her husband, so she told me, was almost driven to sleep somewhere else. This was encouraging. And so it went on for a couple of years; I sent her stories which she read, giving me her feed-back, encouraging me always and for which I am eternally grateful.
By this time, 2011, I’d had several short stories accepted in various anthologies and online magazines but I’d not considered seeking a publisher. I’d even begun working on several crime novels, including a series about a former MI5 Intelligence Officer, ‘Ms Birdsong,’ and the beginnings of what would eventually become a novel we could both work on together, at that time nameless, but later to become ‘Only One Woman.’
However, in 2014 I was asked by Accent Press to submit stories for two anthologies they were publishing: ‘Shiver,’ and ‘Wishing on a Star.’ I was thrilled and as a result the publisher sent a contract for all my writing. I noticed, when the anthologies were published, that Christina had contributed to both of them. She had also signed with Accent by this time unknown to me. One of my stories was a Halloween crime story with a time-shift edge, and the other was a Christmas story set in a recording studio with ghostly goings-on and based on a true event.
If it hadn’t been for her encouragement and her knowledge of the publishing business I don’t think I would have ever bothered writing except for my own enjoyment. Having someone read my material without judgement was priceless for me. I’d tried to write a novel about the music business over 30 years ago and after a lot of pressure gave it to a school friend to read. She thought it was all right but didn’t sound like me. I didn’t really write again for almost 30 years and only my husband read anything I wrote, the few times I gave it another go. He was constantly reassuring and supportive and always telling me to approach a publisher. I wish I’d looked for a publisher decades ago. Christina has been an inspiration and a rock and I can never thank her enough.
Crime writers Roger A. Price and R C Bridgestock have been particularly helpful and encouraging to me, and in fact lots of authors I’ve met through Facebook have been very supportive, sharing my work and giving me guest spots on their blogs, so each and every one of them has been a gem and I’m forever grateful to them also.
D.G. – It’s always so interesting learning our writing friends’ journeys. Your life story is a book in itself for sure.
Would you like to share with us what upcoming projects and/or ideas for books you’re working on?
Gosh, that is a big ask. I have over 100 short stories sitting in my hard-drive awaiting the light of day. These range from the stories I mentioned earlier to a number of crime/espionage stories. I’ve just published a few of my stories in a collection called, ‘Undercover: Crime Shorts,’ and I am planning to do another collection next year. My husband says they are going to waste.
In addition to the short stories I have several novels in various stages of completion. I just need to clone myself to get them all finished. I have however, completed the first book in my Ms Birdsong Investigates series and next year it should see the light of day. The other two in the series are almost ready as well.
In book one: ‘Ms Birdsong Investigates Murder in Ampney Parva: Operation Matryoshka.’
Ms Birdsong is a former MI5 Intelligence Officer who was forced into ‘Voluntary’ retirement following a disastrous joint-operation with MI6 and her – now – former lover, Michael Dante. She got the boot and Michael went to Moscow and continued with their operation. She is desperate to get back into the Security Service and when a woman goes missing in the village where she lives, she finds herself involved in trying to find her and as a result becomes embroiled in her former lover’s operation involving Russian Mafia and people trafficking and Ukrainian gun and drug traffickers, and
Ms B sees an opportunity to ingratiate herself with her former Director General of MI5.
I am writing the sequel to ‘Only One Woman’ which takes Narnia’s Children into the 1970s and beyond. Scott’s life is still complicated and as the novel opens he and Renza are still a couple. Renza has moved to London to live and work and to be near the band, who are on the brink of success, and Stella appears to have gone her own way. ‘Only One Woman’ has proven a great success and is much loved by readers who want to know what happened next, and want to hear more from Scott himself, so I am endeavouring to satisfy demand. I haven’t got a title for it yet. I had one in mind and someone to write our foreword, but sadly that person has died so I am rethinking it all.
I’ve been toying with a memoir – based on my life in the music business – but so far it is just an idea. There is so much I could write but part of me wants to wait until those who might feature in it are well and truly dead and gone. I am not keen on a horses head in my bed or a swim in a river wearing concrete boots! It may never get written.
D.G. – My gawd Jane, you have enough projects to get you through this lifetime! And so funny that my comment above was suggesting you write a memoir! 🙂
Excerpt: Undercover: Crime Shorts
Sweet Sable – The Red Siren
Closing the safe door quietly and with an expert spin of the dial, the black clad woman straightened up, slinging the grip with her haul over her shoulder. She stood listening intently before moving towards the office door. Again she waited, her ears straining, before gently prizing the door open and stepping silently into the corridor of darkened offices; she eased the door closed, calculating she had barely two minutes before the night-watchman made his rounds, trying the doors and checking the building was secure.
The woman headed for the fire escape where she’d made her entrance to the three storey building some ten minutes earlier. Gently raising the window she climbed out on to the metal staircase with the athletic grace of a ballet dancer, giving the dark alley below a quick once-over to ensure no-one was around, she hastily made her way down the rusting stairs. Her tar toned unremarkable and unmemorable automobile was parked across the street hidden in the gloom of another narrow alleyway. Glancing at her wrist-watch – an expensive pay-off from a married lover – she knew she’d better step on the gas. She’d less than fifteen minutes to get back to the night-club, park her car at the darkest end of the outside lot, and leg it back to her dressing-room with enough time to change into her gown for her last set of the evening.
The red-head chuckled to herself as she repaired her lipstick, pouting seductively at herself in the mirror, waiting for the stage hand to knock on her door with her final call. She was buzzing. She’d done it again, she’d pulled it off. It was better than any sex she’d ever had, and that was saying something. She chuckled, puckered her ample lips and blew herself a huge wet kiss.
~ ~ ~
As the spotlight found its mark the band-leader nodded to the scarlet-clad shapely figure who took up position in front of the microphone. Her hips swayed in time to the jazz trumpet and she took her cue. Her sultry sable-clad tones sucked her audience into her lair.
The figures outlined in the flickering candle-light adorning circular tables dotted around the smoke hazed, expectant venue, stopped talking and turned their heads towards the elevated stage where Desi Garcia’s Syncopators went into full swing behind Sweet Sable, also known as the Red Siren – neither was her real name but no-one cared. When her song ended there was a moment’s silence before they pounded their tables shouting, ‘more, more.’
Sweet Sable wiggled her slender but shapely hips, leaned over the stage giving more than an eye- full of her full bosom on display in her tight-fitting strapless gown, and blew huge smackers into the air, aimed at no-one in particular, but the full-blooded men in the audience got the message and so did their partners who silently seethed.
Her set over for the evening Sweet Sable made her way back to her dressing room, accepting compliments and congratulations on her ‘wonderful performance,’ smiling, blowing kisses, and with a toss of her luxurious red mane, closed her dressing room door to keep the stage door Johnnies out. There was always a small stud congregated outside her door and gathered around the stage door, following her shows. Sometimes she allowed a particularly handsome or obviously loaded guy inside,
who was good for a dinner or two – or for something else – if rich enough. They were ripe for the picking; such patsies.
This particular evening Sweet Sable was anxious not to have any company. She had plans and getting pawed by a fawning, slobbering man who felt ‘entitled’ after giving her dinner, was not part of them. She had to get her haul to a safe place so she could take a proper look at it before deciding what she had to do. Sweet Sable loved having options – and she had plenty.
Praise for Undercover: Crime Shorts
-Spell binding crime shorts by a phenomenal author
R K Wigal (USA)
-I love the stories in this book. Each one is a maze-like roadmap of intrigues, laden with twists, turns, and a surprise or two, that grabbed my attention right off the bat and didn’t let go. More than one had me glued to my seat in suspense. I could not divert my focus from the book until I finished reading it. The last piece, Undercover, is an extract from the author’s next novel which I cannot wait to read.
-As an author, Jane Risdon is a natural. She pens her stories in such a manner that you can see her characters up close in their surroundings, and you can follow the action as it takes place. Her writing style is most unusual in that she can write from the standpoint of an American, from that of one who is British, or from that of anyone of any nationality she chooses. I strongly recommend the book. His review link is below:
Welcome to my Q and A series. Today I’m thrilled to be featuring Robbie Cheadle and her book – Through the Nethergate. Robbie is a multi-genre author who writes children’s books with her son Michael in the Sir Chocolate series, poetry and chilling thriller/horror stories and is a prolific blogger, baker, among many other talents.
I am an author who has recently branched out into adult horror and supersupernatural writing and, in order to clearly differential my children’s books from my young adult and adult writing, these will be published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. My first young adult supernatural novel, Through the Nethergate, has recently been published.
I have two short stories in the horror/supernatural genre included in Dark Visions, a collection of 34 short stories by 27 different authors and edited by award winning author, Dan Alatorre as well as three short stories published in Death Among Us, a collection of murder mystery short stories by 10 different authors and edited by Stephen Bentley. These short stories are published under Robbie Cheadle.
Margaret, a girl born with second sight, has the unique ability to bring ghosts trapped between Heaven and Hell back to life. When her parents die suddenly, she goes to live with her beloved grandfather, but the cellar of her grandfather’s ancient inn is haunted by an evil spirit of its own.
In the town of Bungay, a black dog wanders the streets, enslaving the ghosts of those who have died unnatural deaths. When Margaret arrives, these phantoms congregate at the inn, hoping she can free them from the clutches of Hugh Bigod, the 12th century ghost who has drawn them away from Heaven’s White Light in his canine guise.
With the help of her grandfather and the spirits she has befriended, Margaret sets out to defeat Hugh Bigod, only to discover he wants to use her for his own ends – to take over Hell itself.
Excerpt – Through the Nethergate
Can you Feel it?
As Margaret followed Grandfather down the steep stairs, the evil surged up to greet her. It filled the shadowy cellar with its thick flint and stone walls like thick mist, its menacing fingers swirling in the dimness.
Margaret hesitated on the last step. Something was watching her, its red eyes glowing fiercely.
“Come on, Margaret,” Grandfather called, striding forward in his usual purposeful way.
What is wrong with me? There is nothing down there. Grandfather would know if there was, he’s lived here his whole life.
A pretty and slender girl with thick, flaxen hair arranged into two braids that hung down her back, Margaret took a deep breath and plunged forward. Her gorge rose, burning her throat, as the cloying smell of age and decay assaulted her. There was another rank smell underlying the muskiness: the stench of a wild animal’s den mixed with the offensiveness of rotting meat and old blood.
This cellar is ancient. Of course it smells. Swallowing hard in an attempt to settle her nausea, she gave herself a mental kick in the ass.
Still wearing the faded jeans, colourful checked shirt and running shoes she had travelled in, she looked small and sensible. Her unsophisticated attire and plain hairstyle made her look younger than her actual age of sixteen years.
Grandfather had collected her from the Norwich Station an hour ago and offered to take her on a tour of the Inn immediately. Tired from her long trip, Margaret would have preferred to have gone straight to her room to freshen up, but Grandfather obviously wanted to show her around her new home. His pride in the Inn her family had owned for many years was evident in his tone and actions. Margaret had smiled and undertaken her private tour with good grace; disappointing him wasn’t an option.
A product of his rigid Victorian upbringing, Grandfather ran his business and his family in an authoritarian and patriarchal manner but, underneath his crusty exterior, he adored his family. Margaret could not upset him by allowing her horror to show.
She gazed around the cellar, her eyes large and luminous. Why am I so scared and anxious? Mother grew up here, serving drinks and snacks to customers in the large bar upstairs. I don’t recall her ever mentioning that she was scared or that the cellar was creepy.
Tears filled her eyes at these thoughts of her mother. She quashed them quickly. She did not want to remind Grandfather of their shared pain. Let him enjoy the distraction of showing her around the Inn. As a historian, he was knowledgeable about the building and its long and dark history so the tour was interesting.”
Time to get to know a little more about Robbie:
If you’ve published more than one book, do you find or notice your writing changes or evolves with each new book?
My first attempts at writing evolved in my place of work, an auditing firm, and were non-fiction. I have been involved in corporate finance and transaction advisory work for many years and over that time I started preparing guidance documents to help my work colleagues. Corporate finance work is chunky, and you have periods of being insanely busy and working all hours of the night and over weekends as well as periods when you are not as busy. During my quieter periods, I started looking into the drivers of investment into Africa to keep myself busy and interested. This interest resulted in a series of publications about listing in Africa, the African debt market and the preparedness of African countries, individually and cumulatively, for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
My interest in writing gradually changed and I started writing poetry and the Sir Chocolate rhyming verse books to entertain my own children and other people’s children too. From this beginning, my writing has grown into what it is
today. I currently have six published Sir Chocolate Books, one Silly Willy middle school book, one young adult historical fictionalized autobiography, one young adult supernatural fantasy book and four anthologies containing my short stories.
D.G. – You are so multi-talented Robbie, it amazes. I don’t know how you do it all!
What prompted you to write in your chosen genre?
I do not write in one specific genre. I have written non-fiction, young children’s picture books, middle-school and young adult. My fiction books have generally either been fantasy or historical in their content. I never thought about writing supernatural and/or horror books and stories until I saw a short story competition on author, Dan Alatorre’s, website. I liked the topic and a few ideas came to me, so I decided to give writing a few horror short stories a go. This effort resulted in The Willow Tree and The
Haunting of William, both of which were published in Dark Visions, horror anthology last year.
I discovered that I really enjoyed writing darker stories and I decided to continue writing short stories in this genre. That was the beginning of Through the Nethergate. I had an idea to write a series of linked stories about the twenty or more ghosts that were believed to haunt a famous local inn in Bungay. As the stories of these ghosts revealed themselves to me, the idea of a girl who had the power to reincarnate the ghosts and help theme escape their lives as ghosts came to me. The stories started
linking together, both through the location of their hauntings and through Margaret. It was quite a strange experience, but as I went along writing this book, it just revealed its path to me. It sounds a bit odd, but that is how it was. I wrote and ideas came, and they formed themselves into a proper and full length story.
I have found it easier and easier to write dark stories and prompts and have dozens of ideas for short stories. I have started storing them in a separate folder, so I don’t forget them. I have limited time to write.
D.G. – Like I said before, you are a wonderment! And yes of course, we must file all our ideas because if anyone is like me – a moment of brilliance evaporates if it is not written down.
How do you promote your work? Do you find marketing and social media overwhelming?
I love social media, especially blogging. I love it so much I must be very disciplined with myself about it. I blog in the mornings between 5.30am and 6.45am and again in the afternoon from 6.30pm to 8pm. I must have time for writing, reading, work, and, most importantly, my family. My boys are teenagers now and so they don’t need as much of my time and attention as they are busy with schoolwork, sport and their own social activities during the evenings and parts of the weekend. That gives me plenty of
time to do my thing on my blog, social media and to write. I have three blogs now, and I love them all so I can’t see that changing in the short term. I have robbiesinspiration for baking, fondant art, children’s books, lighter prompts and poetry and robertawrites for my dark writing and horror/supernatural books promotions. I have robbiecheadle.co.za which is my new flagship website which I use for travel stories and promotions about my books.
D.G. – Unbelievable how you can keep up with all those blogs, besides writing and reading books, social media and real life. Kudos to you Robbie!
Do you prefer to only read books in your genre?
I read books in every genre and for all age groups. Over the past two months I have listened to three dystopian novels, 1984 by George Orwell, and The Running Man and The Long Walk by Stephen King writing as Richard Bachman. I have read two poetry books, four children’s books with a Halloween or spooky theme and two tales of espionage, one from the Chinese point of view and one from the British point of view. I also read a book by Stevie Turner called No Sex Please, I’m Menopausal, which is an
amusing take on menopause and also a peep into modern dating. It seems that I have not read one book in this period that is in the supernatural/paranormal/horror genre which is the one I have been writing a lot of lately. I have been quite into dystopian novels recently and also read Fahrenheit 451 and have Animal Farm and The Handmaid’s Tale on my TBR.
D.G. – Thanks for sharing your ultra busy life with us and what you’ve been up to Robbie. I loved your mother’s memoir you wrote – When the Bombs Fell, and look forward to reading Through the Nethergate.