Christmas Giveaways

One way authors spread the word about their work is by participating in cross-promotions.  For those of you (like me not so long ago) who don’t know what a cross-promotion is, it’s when a group of writers get together and organize a free giveaway of their books. This is a win-win situation for readers and writers.

This InstaFreebie promotion will appeal to fans of romance – so whether you enjoy contemporary, chicklit, paranormal, or historical romance (and there are many more sub-genres included), this is a bonanza where you can take your pick of over a hundred free books including my time-slip novel, One Summer in Montmartre.

To enjoy these free books, pop over to the Instafreebie website and sign up at:  

Once your membership is confirmed, click on the link below (or paste it into your browser), take a little time and search through the categories, then download the book (or books) you want, including my time-slip novel, One Summer in Montmartre.
And if your friends love a good romance, why not surprise them by letting them share in the giveaway?

Romance InstaFreebie Giveaway link: 



My novella, Hekate’s Chalice, is also on a free promotion from today until the 27th December. If you like gripping mysteries, interwoven with generous doses of magic and humor, then click on the link below, and enter this imaginatively creative world today!
Here’s the blurb:
A stolen artifact. An imminent deadline. A tenacious investigator.
JB runs a private detective agency, but if business doesn’t pick up soon, he’ll have to close the doors for good. When someone steals Hekate’s chalice, JB and his maverick team jump at the chance to track down the supernatural object. They’re resourceful and determined, but can they outsmart wizards, witches, and daemons before the client’s deadline expires?
Whether you celebrate Christmas or not you can still curl up in a cosy chair, and enjoy a great book.

Stay well, keep reading and best wishes until next year!

Writing and Film

Stories begin as visions in the mind where characters and action take place on the screen of our imagination. A writer then crafts their vision into the tangible form of a novel to share that story. A fascinating aspect is that the process is reversed when reading, and the book becomes like a film in the mind of the reader.

Both film and fiction tell stories using scenes. In film, each scene is composed of many shots chosen because they increase the significance and or implication of the action – whether it’s dramatic or static action - and film uses varying distances of shot to increase that impact. Long and medium shots, close-up, and extreme close-up are the basic types of shot used in film, and when one shot ends, it is immediately replaced by the next shot. The result is a stream of images that tell a story.

So, how does this apply to fiction?

Here’s an extract from D. H. Lawrence’s short story, Odour of Chrysanthemums.
          "The small locomotive engine, Number 4, came clanking, stumbling down from Selston with seven full wagons. It appeared round the corner with loud threats of speed, but the colt that it startled from among the gorse, which still flickered indistinctly in the raw afternoon, outdistanced it at a canter. A woman, walking up the railway-line to Underwood, drew back into the hedge held her basket aside, and watched the footplate of the engine advancing. The trucks thumped heavily past, one by one, with slow inevitable movement, as she stood insignificantly trapped between the jolting black wagons and the hedge." 

Looking at the introductory paragraph, a quick analysis shows how Lawrence introduces the setting with a long shot. Transitioning to medium shots, he cuts to the colt and the woman. The next shot, a close-up, shows the woman holding her basket aside. The description of the trucks moving past the woman is an extreme close-up, and in the phrase ‘thumped heavily past, one by one’ Lawrence traps the reader just as much as the space between the train and the hedge traps the woman.

Lawrence also follows the dramatic arc of rising action. The movement of the approaching train is echoed by the colt running, and creates a climax (and contrast) with the woman forced into stillness by the immense noisy train. Further on the paragraph moves into falling action with transitions through medium shots of the countryside, concluding with a long shot of a building silhouetted against the horizon.

Trying this exercise with your own work is interesting and constructive as you may find you favor one particular shot more than others. If you find most of your scenes are, for example, medium shots, then varying those with longer and shorter shots can give the scene more impact, pace, and drama.
Writing Update
The final book in my Samsara Trilogy is with my editor, and I'm aiming for a Christmas release. Although, life being what it is, it might well be a New Year publication. So, I'm busy, excited and nervous as I prepare for publication. This book completes the trilogy, and will be my first box set - a milestone I wasn't sure I would ever reach. Yeah!

Today's Haiku
are you old and grey
my once and youthful lover –
I dream about you

If you would like to receive a notice of new releases, click on the sign-up tab at the top of the page. Thank you!

To all story lovers out there, good reading, and to those of you who write, good writing.

Stay well and best wishes.

Happy Halloween Freebie

The ancient Celts celebrated the festival of Samhain to mark the end of summer and the start of the darker winter season. They also believed the veil between the living and those who had left this world was at its thinnest at this point in the year and honored their ancestors accordingly.

These beliefs changed with the introduction of Christianity, but some customs remained. Dressing up, going door-to-door asking for gifts of food - known in Scotland and Ireland as guising (from disguising) - has been taking place on All Hallows Eve for centuries.
The following verse is from a poem called Halloween published in 1786 by the famous Scottish poet, Robbie Burns.

                              Some merry, friendly, country-folks,
                              Together did convene,
                              To burn their nuts, and pile their shocks of wheat,
                              And have their Halloween
                              Full of fun that night.

Later, the Irish and Scottish immigration to the States resulted in the festival as we currently observe it. Today, children dress up in fancy costumes and go door-to-door trick or treating, we carve lanterns from pumpkins, not turnips, and great feasting still takes place as youngsters consume massive amounts of candy.

An interesting fact to note as I finish this mini history is that Edinburgh’s Royal Mile sees the Samhuinn Fire Festival celebrated on Halloween with drumming, acrobatics, fire-dancing, and a torchlit procession that I’m sure would have impressed those ancient Celts.

I'm fascinated by history and mythology, which brings me to my novella, Hekate’s Chalice, where ordinary (or not so ordinary) characters mix with creatures found in folklore in a way my Celtic ancestors would have thought quite normal.

Here’s the blurb:
A stolen artifact. An imminent deadline. A tenacious investigator.
JB runs a private detective agency, but if business doesn’t pick up soon, he’ll have to close the doors for good. When someone steals Hekate’s chalice, JB and his maverick team jump at the chance to track down the supernatural object. They’re resourceful and determined, but can they outsmart wizards, witches, and daemons before the client’s deadline expires?

Hekate’s Chalice
is published with Amazon’s KDP Select program and predictably, considering the content, I chose to make it free for the five days leading up to and including Halloween.

Please go to the following links and download the book for free from today, Thursday 27th until Monday 31st October.

The novella is a fun short read, great for the holiday weekend, and can be chosen as your free book of the month if you are with Amazon Prime.

If you would like to receive a free copy of Healer's Magic, Book One in the epic paranormal trilogy, Kala, click on the sign-up tab at the top of the page. Thank you!

To all story lovers out there, good reading, and to those of you who write, good writing.

Best wishes and Happy Halloween,

Incubating ideas.

As I'm reading through and fine-tuning my current WIP (the final in my Samsara trilogy), my subconscious keeps throwing ideas at me for my next project - Book Two in the Adept Solutions Series. I have the main plot, but still need one or two sub-plots. So as I continue with my daily routine (moving future storylines to the back burner), and September comes to a close, I've updated a post from 2014, and hope other writers find it relevant.

Incubating Ideas

We notice new ideas when they float to the surface of our consciousness. Sometimes these arrive fully mapped out in the form of a distinct character, a particular conflict or plot. J. K. Rowling said the concept for Harry Potter fell into her head during a train journey.

Some writers formulate their plans as they write but often those seeds need to be nurtured and given space to grow. One practice many novelists use as a catalyst for maturing concepts is to do something unconnected with writing, and often choose a recreational activity. For example, Martin Amis played darts, while Kurt Vonnegut played patience.

Frank Smith in Writing and the Writer said 'Composition is not enhanced by grim determination'. By giving yourself freedom from pressure you allow your subconscious to process important ideas. Scheduling time out, and doing something different doesn't mean your brain has stopped working, and you might choose to catch up on any of the innumerable jobs that pile up while you’re absorbed in your work, but picking something you enjoy works best.

During this period, thoughts may arrive at odd moments, and change, alter or expand your original concept. Write them down and let go of any attachment you have to older plans as they are superseded by newer ones. When the incubation period ends, you’re likely to be flooded with inspiration as the gates to creativity open.

The way this nurturing process operates for me is I tell myself what I want, hand it over to my subconscious, and then get on with life without unduly worrying about it. I call it the sleep-on-it method. How long does it take for an idea to incubate and come to fruition? The Roman poet, Horace, thought writers should wait for nine years—a tad longer than most of us can spare these days. But like everything else in writing fiction, the incubation period varies from one individual to another. And there is no right or wrong, there is only what works.

Today’s Haiku
When you achieve one
target the goal posts reveal
a new horizon

If you would like to receive a free copy of Tatya’s Return, Book One in the epic paranormal trilogy, Samsara, click on the Newsletter Sign up tab. Thank you!

If you're a Wattpad member, I have several short stories posted on the site:

Thank you for visiting my blog, and please do leave a comment.
To all story lovers out there, good reading, and to those of you who write, good writing.

A hopeful, exhilarating moment!

Launching a new book, or in this case a novella, is only one of many steps in the process of bringing a book to readers, however, it is one of the most exciting ones. After months (sometimes years) of work, pressing the button that sends your work out into the big wide web, is a hopeful, exhilarating moment.

The other half of the writing equation is reciprocation with readers. When someone lets you know they've enjoyed your story, I know I get a delicious thrill, and these are the moments that keep me going during the leaner times.

I wrote this novella while my WIP (the final book in the Samsara Trilogy) is resting, and crime fiction, albeit in an urban fantasy setting (of course), is a new arena for me. Nonetheless, I hope you enjoy reading the first chapter of this tale as I had a lot of fun writing this story. Read on... 

A stolen artifact. An imminent deadline. A tenacious investigator.

JB runs a private detective agency for the magickally challenged, but if business doesn’t pick up soon, he’ll have to close the doors for good. When someone steals Hekate’s chalice, JB and his maverick team jump at the chance to track down the supernatural object. They’re resourceful and determined, but is it enough to outsmart wizards, witches, and daemons before the client’s deadline expires? 

Hekate's Chalice©


Chapter One: Monday: 5.30pm Nov. 1st. All Saints Day

JB lit another stick of incense, as heavy rain drummed a counterpoint on the windowpane to Nikki’s furious typing.
“Don’t lie, Zhanna! I know you’ve cracked my password. And you’ve been sneaking into my files. That makes it the second time today.” Nikki kept her eyes fixed on the screen and her black curls quivered as she shook with suppressed anger.
Zhanna, a six-inch faerie of the Irayisi race, smoothed the sides of her pink and black spiked Mohawk hairdo with her matching striped fingernails. She fluttered her wings, and sparks of iridescent color refracted like stars exploding into the air. “I haven’t been near that antiquated piece of junk you call a–”
“Look at her!” Nikki demanded of her boss. “Was she watching me dress this morning?” Other than the additional pink, and the Mohican hairstyle, their Goth outfits were identical, right down to the brass studded black leather boots.
JB rolled his eyes and shrugged his shoulders as he placed the incense in its holder on his desk. A thin line of smoke rose, and the scent of sandalwood purified the atmosphere. “Coffee, soda, anyone?” It wasn’t much of an attempt to keep the peace, but it might stave off a full blown hissy fit from either of them. He stood and stretched his tall lean frame. His mixed daemon, elf, and human ancestry gave him a dark brooding quality.
“As if I haven’t got enough on my plate with Juan moving in, and putting his boxes all over the place. And keep those nasty fingers of yours to yourself.” Nikki hissed at Zhanna, revealing her unnervingly pointed canine teeth.
Zhanna’s gold tinted eyes flashed, and pouting, she tossed her sparkly star-topped wand on the desk and flew over to the window. “Nobody here understands me.” She landed on the windowsill and leaned forward, her tiny nose touching the glass. “I don’t deserve to be sentenced to this place. Ebay scams should be classed as misdemeanors. It’s not as if we intended to hurt anyone. And what’s with this wet stuff pouring out of the sky at all times of the day and night?” Her finger followed a raindrop as it ran down the glass. “In Faerie Land–”
“Yeah, yeah, we’ve heard it before. In Faerie Land, everything is hunky dory.”
“Oh, come here JB. There’s a little lost child standing outside our door.”
JB crossed the room and peered down at the street. The weather was too miserable for all but the most enthusiastic of shoppers, and as five thirty approached, the sidewalk filled with office workers scurrying along with their collars turned up and diamond raindrops glistening on their umbrellas as they headed home. Mellie’s CafĂ© on the ground floor was closing, and even though it was late afternoon, the low-hanging leaden-bellied rain clouds made it almost as dark as night.
Zhanna perched on JB’s shoulder and stroked his earlobe with a striped fingernail. “Stop that,” he said twitching as he studied the disheveled, rain soaked young girl peering anxiously at the door.
“There are quite a few shades following her. I’ll get rid of them.” Nikki’s gaze raked the darkened doorways on the opposite side of the street.
“Yeah, some always overstay their welcome and take their own sweet time to return to the other side. But what do you expect the day after Halloween?  There’s a bunch over there,” JB pointed to an entrance a short distance away.
“And there. And there,” squeaked Zhanna, grabbing a hold of JB’s hair, and digging her fingernails into his scalp. She stared in horror as more shades gathered.
The girl pressed the buzzer, and JB went over to the intercom and pushed the button. The unexpected caller disappeared inside the building.
Nikki opened a window. “Mind your ears,” she warned as she held the large pale coral pink conch to her pursed mouth. Sucking in a lungful of air, she blew hard and sent a long, deep mournful sound out into the city. Drawing in another breath, she blew the conch two more times.
The shades shredded and melted into the darkness as several windows opened from nearby apartments. Some were more polite than others as they shouted at her to quit making that racket.
“Slaret ua!” Nikki cursed as she banged the window shut. “Stupid ungrateful humans! Would they prefer to live in a shade infested neighborhood? Do they want nightmares or sweet dreams? They should be showering me with gifts in thanks for the service I performed!”
“Shh,” JB said as he opened the top drawer in his desk and deftly laid the sleeping faerie on a pile of silk cushions. He closed the drawer, leaving a gap big enough for her to exit when she woke.
Like all fairies, Zhanna needed regular naps to replenish the high amount of energy she continuously expended. Sodas and other sugary drinks kept her awake for a certain length of time, but only for so long. Then she’d crash anywhere–on the keyboard of her laptop, on top of the microwave, even once in the sink–until someone laid her in her bed.
“Well, more than one good result then,” Nikki smiled as she rinsed and dried the conch before returning it to its place on the shelf, next to a white oak stake, a solid gold crucifix, a pair of silver handcuffs, and several jars of dubious looking substances.
JB and Nikki turned as their visitor knocked timidly on the office door.
The girl was young, around fourteen or fifteen years old. Her pale blonde hair hung in rat’s tails around her shoulders, water dripped down her forehead, and her clothes were soaking wet. Her large brown eyes regarded them with trepidation.
“Come in, come in. Nikki, find a towel and bring our guest a hot drink, will you? Come and sit down.”  JB’s serious, almost grim expression softened as he pulled out a chair for her.
The girl’s shoulders relaxed a fraction at his reassuring words, though she regarded him warily as she sat.
Nikki produced a hand towel and bustled back to the area designated as the kitchen, although it only contained a sink, a hot drinks machine, and a microwave oven.  The aroma of cinnamon and hot chocolate circulated through the room as she placed the steaming cup in front of their unexpected visitor, who’d already dried the worst of the damp out of her hair.
Nikki perched on the edge of JB’s desk, and they waited while their guest sipped her hot drink. “Thank you,” she said. “This is delicious.”
Nikki smiled at the compliment, revealing her sharp incisors. She was only half imp, on her father’s side, so hadn’t inherited the full complement of pointed teeth, which made it possible for her to pass at a quick glance for a human, though any serious consideration of her narrow build, slanted silver-gray eyes, and wild mass of black curls would reveal her heritage.
“So, how may we help you?” JB asked, keeping his voice gentle.
I’m Maya, and my aunt is Hekate, the leader of the Lielit coven. I don’t know if you’ve heard of them–they’re quite famous–anyway, she sent me here. I’m looking for Jean Baptiste?”
“Well, you’ve found one of them. My father, Jean Baptiste Senior, is the other. I’m Jean Baptiste Junior.”
“Aunt Hekate insisted it had to be the older man.” She looked from JB to Nikki and back to JB.
“My father is unavailable, but if you’ll tell us why you’re here, we’ll see what we can do.” He added a little glamour to his voice. They needed the job.
A year ago JB Sr., a lifelong voodoo practitioner held in great esteem by his community had wanted to sell the business and devote himself to his houngan congregation. His son had argued passionately and persuasively to let him take over the agency. After all, hadn’t he been training since he was fourteen with the aim of eventually taking over the family business? He’d only started studying architecture because his father insisted he try something else before committing to a career as a private detective. In the end, they arrived at an understanding. JB Jr. would run the agency for a year, and if after that time the business wasn’t financially solvent, he’d agree to his father selling and return to the architectural course.
When people realized JB Sr. wasn’t available anymore, business slumped, and he let go the few long-term employees who’d remained. On top of which, JB Sr. now lay in the hospital in a coma after a hit-and-run accident, and the police were having no success in locating either the driver or the car that struck him. “I’m as good a detective as my father. Possibly better,” JB said with a smile.
“Okay.” The glamour seemed to have done the trick, and Maya straightened her shoulders and took a deep breath. She spoke rapidly, running all her sentences together as the story flooded out of her. “My aunt has a chalice which she uses for predicting the future, and it’s made the coven powerful because she’s Mayor Bradley’s psychic advisor, and he comes every Sunday after church for a consultation. He listens to her advice about all sorts of things, but the chalice has been stolen, and she won’t be able to help him anymore without it. She wants you to find it by this Saturday.” Having repeated her speech, Maya sank back into the chair. Picking up the cup, she finished her drink.
“Would you like another?” Nikki reached for the empty cup.
“Please.” Maya looked at her gratefully.
“Why didn’t Hekate come herself? Why did she send you?” JB asked. “If you don’t mind me saying, you are quite young.”
“I’m family and she trusts me, though I’m not an actual coven member yet. But I’m in training and I’ll be initiated next year. She hasn’t told anyone because she doesn’t want it to get out the chalice is missing.”
Nikki returned and placed a second cup on the table next to Maya. “Careful it’s hot.”
“Is she suspicious of anyone in the coven?” JB asked.
“She didn’t say.”
“Were there any signs of a break-in?”
“Not that she told me.”
“Okay.” Not much to go on so far, JB thought. “Is Hekate available now?”
Maya shook her head. “She’s giving Tarot card readings at a conference for Tropolis’s business leaders, but she’ll be back early tomorrow morning.”
JB’s forehead furrowed for a moment. “I’ll meet with Hekate tomorrow, say ten o’clock. If any other witches are around, tell Hekate to say I’m a reporter wanting an interview for an article I’m doing on witchcraft. After I speak with her, she can decide if she wants me to take the case. And if she does, I’ll check out the place and see if I’m able to pick up anything. Does that sound good?”
Maya’s face lit up. “Oh, yes, and I’m sure she’ll want you.” She ended the sentence by burying her head in her cup and finishing her drink.
Evidently, Maya hadn’t needed the glamour to be impressed by JB’s dark good looks. “Right, if you’re ready, I’ll give you a lift home. Your aunt won’t be happy if you catch pneumonia.” He shrugged into his black leather jacket, and glanced at the window where runnels of raindrops chased each other down waterfalls. “Nikki, make sure the twins are on time for tomorrow’s morning meeting. I want to start early.”
Nikki nodded. “Sure, I’m on it as soon as you’re away.” They both knew what she meant was she’d deal with it once she’d seen him drive away and checked he wasn’t being followed.
The almost silent buzz of Zhanna’s wings next to her ear startled Nikki, as she stood by the window. “I’m sorry, I upset you,” the faerie said as she settled on Nikki’s shoulder. She stretched and released one of Nikki’s curls.
“Sure, you are,” Nikki muttered, her attention on JB as he climbed into his second hand black Chevrolet and leaned across the front seat clearing it of whatever junk he’d thrown there so Maya had somewhere to sit. “We might actually have a proper serious case,” she told the faerie, now busy winding the thick curl around her waist.
“Perhaps we’ll see some action.”
“Not for you. You know the conditions of your sentence.”
“I can always hope. Look that car’s pulling out too. Do you think he’s following them?”
Nikki lifted her phone and snapped a quick picture as the car passed the building, and a couple more shots before both cars were hidden by the dank curtain of miserable weather. “Maybe. Maybe not.” She swiped the phone screen. “Losing them isn’t a problem for JB, but I’m not taking any chances.” She held a finger up to silence Zhanna while she called JB. “Be careful. You might have a tail.”

If you like gripping mysteries interwoven with generous doses of magic and humor, then you’re going to love Hekate’s Chalice, the first volume of the Adept Solutions series.
Click the link to enter this imaginatively creative world today!
US          UK
(I've placed this novella with the KDP Select program, so if you're signed up to Amazon Prime, you can read for free.)

If you would like to receive a free copy of Tatya’s Return, Book One in the epic paranormal trilogy, Samsara, click and sign up for my newsletter. Thank you!

If you're a Wattpad member, I have several short stories posted on the site:

And you'll find me popping up on these sites from time to time.

Thank you for visiting my blog, and please do leave a comment.
To all story lovers out there, good reading, and to those of you who write, good writing.


In praise of the humble notebook.

You’re lucky if you spot one of these rare specimens. They’re unique and found in every environment, come in all shapes and sizes with plumage from blonde ringlets to bald pates, and can generally be found engaged in their favorite activity.  Yes, I’m referring to writers with notebooks.

Ideas can be sparked by anything, but as many writers experience, if you don’t get that idea written down while it’s fresh in your mind, it has often taken wing by the time you reach for it later. Today many of us use electronic devices of one kind or another for writing, but an important tool which shouldn’t be neglected is the humble notebook.

With notebooks, size doesn’t matter, although one small enough to carry around in a pocket or bag is a practical idea. I have half a dozen books of various sizes because I keep leaving mine at home and buying another to jot down an idea I don't want to forget. Some writers enjoy indulging in the luxury end of the market, and there is a certain gratification in opening a book whose cover is an ornately designed piece of art, but a 50p exercise book suits me fine. Whenever I go out, I always check I have my trusty notebook and at least a couple of pens with me. In this matter, never rely on one pen, because you can guarantee it will run out when you need it most.

Developing the habit of jotting down impressions, observations, descriptions of people and places is worthwhile cultivating. A good exercise when you’re out and about is to spend ten minutes noting what you see, hear, and smell.  Notice any actions taking place and the different shades and shapes of objects. Are there clouds in the sky? What does the air feel like on your skin? (Although the latter may be easier in seasons when the weather is not too inclement.) Try to create a written snapshot of what is around you. Don’t worry over grammar or punctuation; think like an impressionist painter, it’s all about the moment.

A notebook can also function as a diary or for journaling. Diaries can be used to explore your emotions and develop a deeper awareness of your internal monologue. Virginia Woolf and Somerset Maugham kept notebooks which they found invaluable for different reasons.  Maugham because he intended to use what he wrote as a resource, and Woolf often recorded observations on her own creative process. Writers naturally take a lot from their life experiences.

Notebooks are excellent for morning writing, another practice advocated for tapping into your inspiration. The theory is that by writing as soon as you wake, you’re still in contact with your subconscious, and access ideas and your imagination more readily. Morning writing is freewriting without clustering or a prompt. A warning—this needs discipline as groping for a notepad on a dark winter’s morning and trying to perform without coffee didn’t work for me. But I still do my best work early in the day when I’ve made it downstairs to the warm kitchen, and after I’ve drunk my coffee!

The news, wherever you get it from, radio, tv, twitter, newspapers, is an endless source of inspiration. A story needs tension and conflict and you’ll find plenty in any newscast. These little books are ideal for noting outlines for later development. Even if you never expand or utilize much of what you’ve written, the act of observing and recording items which interest you feeds your creativity.

Use your notebook in whatever fashion you wish: freewriting, diary, morning writing, character sketches, beginnings and expansions of ideas, planning the chain of events for your novel – anything and everything. I know that for me, a notebook has become an invaluable tool in my writer’s journey.

(This post is an updated version of a previous post, but as it's still relevant, I've given it another airing.)

Today’s haiku

a sea of silky
green wheat ripples in the warm
gentle summer breeze

If you want to receive a free copy of Tatya’s Return, Book One in the epic paranormal trilogy, Samsara, click and sign up for my newsletter. Thank you!

If you're a Wattpad member, I have several short stories posted on the site:

And you'll find me popping up on these sites from time to time.

Thanks for visiting my blog, and please do leave a comment.
To all story lovers out there, good reading, and to those of you who write, good writing.

Author Spotlight: Em Lehrer

Today I'd like to welcome the bright upcoming young author Em Lehrer, who is also the guiding light behind the successful Keystroke Blog, where she reviews books in the fantasy/sci-fi/YA and thriller genres. Em has generously agreed to let me quiz her about her life and interest in all things writerly. 

Q. Where are you from?
A. That is a tricky question. I was born in New Jersey, but lived my first year in Staten Island, NY. Then my family moved to Pennsylvania where I spent most of my childhood before moving back across the Delaware to New Jersey. Then we moved up to Maine and then down to the Caribbean island of Dominica where I am living right now. However I'm moving up to Massachusetts this summer. Oh, and I lived in New Hampshire for a summer.
When people ask me where I'm from now, I usually just say Pennsylvania. Hopefully that answers your question.

Q. What were you like as a child? Could you share one of your earliest memories?
A. Oh man. I was the worst child. I was stubborn and outgoing and bossy. Well, I still am, but I'd like to think I'm a little more gracious about it. Anyway, one of my earliest memories is playing by the township pool with my older brother. We would always play these games, and pretend we were in make believe worlds. Back then we were really into Winx, which was a TV show about fairies. We each chose a special power to have and ran between the two pools pretending they were alternate realities. We had to battle the forces of evil and save the world. It was great.

Q. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
A. I think I've always known I wanted to write. I always had a notebook or journal that I wrote in, and before that I just drew pictures of stories that were in my head. I remember getting my first journal from my aunt. It was small and had a hard, glittery, silver cover. I carried it around everywhere and drew in it. I was so sad when I filled it up.
I wrote my first story in second grade. It was a project in class, and we made them into these cute little books. Mine was about a cheetah (my favorite animal) who thought she was the fastest animal in the whole world and told anyone who would listen. Then she met an ostrich who said he was faster. Then an elephant made them race and the ostrich won, the cheetah learned a lesson, and then said they should play house. Tada.

Q. What did you learn from participating in the nanowrimo? What were the best and worst parts?
A. Nano was a journey and a half. I went in not knowing what I wanted my story to be, which I will never do again. I was writing blindly, with no idea where I wanted the story line to go, and ended up all over the place. That was probably the worst part.
The best part was meeting a bunch of writers and making some pretty great friends. There were lots of support forums that really helped keep my spirits up and in the end helped me hit 50k words. The feeling when I finished was also amazing. The only thing I'm going to do differently this year is plan my story beforehand so I actually have something I can use at the end. 

Q. Where do your ideas/inspirations come from?
A. I'm not really sure, to be totally honest. My ideas randomly come to me at the strangest of times. Sometimes I am reading or watching a movie or doing the dishes or something and an idea just pops into my mind. It really is a strange feeling, because I completely zone out of whatever I was doing and just focus on the idea, and then the idea grows and blooms and it is amazing.
It actually happens a lot when I am driving or in a car. I guess something about the motion just sets me off thinking. I've had some of my best ideas in the car.

Q. What activities do you like to do when you're not writing?
A. Hmmm. Well, I watch way too many shows on Netflix. Just putting that out there. Otherwise I like to cook and bake, read (I am a huge bookworm), go scuba diving, hang out with friends, spend way too much time on social media, and think. Yup, just sit there and think.

Q. What ambitions do you have as a writer?
A. My first and foremost ambition is to finish a work that I want to share with the world and get signed by a publishing house. Then of course become the next J. K. Rowling because why not.
But in all honesty, I want people to read my work and get lost inside of it. I want to give an escape from the world, and the kind of joy that I feel when I'm reading an amazing book. 

Q. What is your favorite genre, and why?
A. I don't really have a favorite genre. I have found that there are amazing books in every genre, and terrible books in every genre. It's all about finding the good books and enjoying them.

Q. Name one of your favorite authors, and one of your favorite fictional characters, and why?
A. Hmm. Favorites. Kendare Blake is amazing, her books are great. J. K. Rowling obviously. Kiera Cass and Kody Keplinger are also great. Ohh and Rick Riordan. And Allen Zadoff. And Gayle Forman. I could go on all day.
As for my favorite fictional character, I'm not even going to try to pick one. That's like picking your favorite child (or in my case dog). It just can't be done.

Q. Could you tell us about your current project?
A. Right now I am working on a book called Candy Wrappers. It is going to be the first in a series called the Gravestone Chronicles. It follows Malia, an 18 year old girl whose parents were murdered. She goes to her summer home in Maine to pack up the house and say her final goodbyes. While she is there, she discovers the existence of demons, and how they may actually be the real cause behind her parents' death.
Right now I am a few thousand words in, and having a lot of fun writing. I am constantly coming up with new scenes in my mind and planning as I go along.

Thank you so much for answering my questions, Em. It's been a pleasure to interview you, and good luck with your writing. 

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To all story lovers out there, good reading, and to those of you who write, good writing. 

WIPs, Lightbulb Moments, and Virtuous Resolutions


Finishing a novel means saying goodbye to characters, places, and adventures I’ve invested time and effort in creating, and a sense of loss accompanies their departure. However, this rarely happens till after the book is published. In early March, as I came to the end of the first draft of Book Three of my urban fantasy trilogy, I was surprised to be experiencing a degree of sadness, though this journey wasn't yet on the home stretch.

I had  settled on a title, but discovered the one I'd chosen appears on several books back to scratch. And without doubt, I have several painstaking edits to complete before a version is ready to send to a professional editor, plus the cover, and formatting to organize before I say adios. Yet, after two and a half years with Tatya, Vanse, Forked Lightning, and not forgetting  Angelus, whose evil scheming knows no bounds, part of me already laments their upcoming departure from my internal landscape.

A Lightbulb Moment

I’ve found the best way to deal with this phase is to throw myself into writing something else straight away. While resting the previous books in the series, I’ve worked on a science-fiction nano novel written a few years ago, and this is about seventy-five percent finished. As I prepared to continue with this book, an idea I’ve been nursing for a while burst, more or less fully formed, into my head. The seed came from a business sign I'd noticed one day, and the instant I saw it something sparked in my brain, and every time I passed that way, I'd think about what kind of story this could be. Before I could start on the sci-fi revisions, a flood of potential images and ideas flashed through my mind about a new novel stemming from that sign - in the detective/mystery genre. Maybe I could write a novella? Three 20-25,000 word novellas could perhaps be published later in a single volume?

With the WIP laid to rest, I took a deep breath and plunged into an exciting new world. Five weeks later, I'm trying hard not to feel too smug, because I've completed the first draft of a novella. Yes, it’s more minimal than usual, because I wasn’t sure how many words I’d have to play with to stay within my target, but it currently lies resting snugly side by side with the WIP. I'll spend what’s left of my scheduled break with my older sci-fi friends,

Suddenly I feel like one of those TV chefs who have half a dozen pots on the boil, rushing from one to the other in a manic frenzy of chopping, stirring, and flinging spices into bubbling concoctions. But there the comparison ends, because I’ve no guarantee of producing a story readers will like, although the chefs always seem to serve an acceptable gourmet meal when they’re finished. But still, I live in hope, and the more I practice my craft… at least in theory… the better my stories should be!

Getting organized

I’m the first to admit I find it difficult to achieve the basic mind set needed for the marketing that an authorpreneur ought to do, and a dim light is slowly dawning that neither good intentions nor will power are enough to achieve my goals. But determination to change this around is growing. (Really? mutters my inner cynic. I’ll believe it when I see it.) A friend told me recently, if you want to get something done, you must have a plan of action. And even more necessary is writing down the steps needed to accomplish your goal.

Consequently, I’ve become a compulsive list compiler, but don’t laugh, because although I hang my head in embarrassment that after a year of checking out printing websites, I still hadn’t ordered any business cards, I can congratulate myself on achieving that goal! Well, they’re in the mail en route, and just now coming.

The second goal getting closer is setting up an email list of subscribers to a newsletter. (A Very Important step for the indie writer my research informs me.) By announcing it, I’m increasing my chances of attaining it, if for no other reason than to save myself a measure of embarrassment. I have considered, and investigated this previously, but as is my pattern, proceeded no further, letting the idea slide merrily off the cliff of virtuous resolutions, and into the muddy swamp of my subconscious where it's been partying with my other neglected goals. Step one is taken as I’ve signed up to mail-chimp, the to-do list is waiting, and hopefully everything will be in place for mid June. 

Today's Haiku
the muzak's fast beat
speeds the caffeine junkie's pulse
and time fast-forwards

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Thanks for visiting my blog, and please do leave a comment.
To all story lovers out there, good reading, and to those of you who write, good writing.

Title & Cover Reveal (plus a sneak peek!)

 I Know It Was You Wow! I’m thrilled to reveal the title and cover of my new book. The publication date, October 10th, is fast approaching, ...