Saddle Up Salloon: Blog Blustering #Flash #Fiction #Humour

This is a fun challenge featured on Charli Mills blog via D. Avery – Saddle Up Salloon, blog blustering to describe your blog in 9, 59 and 99 words. https://carrotranch.com/2020/05/25/saddle-up-saloon-blog-blusterin/

Here’s the prompt from D. Avery:

“Yep. Folks, try defining yer blog’s purpose in 99 words; focus that statement even more in 59 words; then hook us with 9 words. Ya might even post these versions at yer own site. Tell us who ya are or what yer about here in the comments, 9 words, no more no less.”

Here goes…

(99)

Six years ago my life changed. I became a blogger – a strange creature, even if I say so myself! Initially, I named my blog home: Kyrosmagica – a magical shore of books, writing, photography and inspiration. Kyros after the Greek word crystal and magica to represent magic.

When interviewing authors I sometimes adopt a new persona, calling myself MJ.

I feature authors, review books, take part in poetry, flash fiction and photography challenges, nothing is off-limits. Sometimes I become sensible Marje when necessity calls.

Kyrosmagica has evolved; It is now my author website with lashes of crystal magic!

(59)

Six years ago I became a blogger. My blog home Kyrosmagica – a magical shore of books, writing, photography and inspiration. Sometimes I am known as MJ, sometimes as the author Marje, or even M J Mallon. I write reviews, interview folk, take part in poetry, flash fiction and photography challenges. Nothing is off limits, blogging is such fun.

(9)

Kyrosmagica blog is me! Books, writing, photography and magic.

Much love, MJ!! xxx

Writers In Isolation: Katherine Mezzacappa #Isolation #Writers #Authors#Historical #Fiction

Photo by Bich Tran from Pexels

How do writers, creatives, artists and bookish souls cope with isolation? Is their capacity to cope different from the rest of the population? It’s an interesting question and one that fascinates me.

How is Katherine Mezzacappa coping with this enforced isolation?


At time of writing, lockdown here in Italy is easing, but I am still wary of emerging into the sunlight. To begin with, it wasn’t isolation per se that was difficult to cope with from a creative point of view, but the fear of all the unknowns around the pandemic – I’ve got a little better at living with them. I had the advantage of having worked from home for years so I was used to not having the routines of a commute and a shared office. However, my job is paused at the moment until later in the year, which meant I had to think about how best to use that time. Time is what writers often complain they don’t have enough of, but when you’re suddenly faced with lots of it, the prospect is daunting, and you feel guilty if you don’t take advantage. I know from my writing network that I’m far from alone in feeling that. I had final edits to do on two books, The Gypsy Bride (Katie Hutton) and The Casanova Papers(Kate Zarrelli) so having the space for them was a boon, though revisiting a book set in Venice when I could see that city on webcams, silent and shuttered, was also heart-breaking. Writing did pick up though, as well as other ‘writery’ activities. I’ve co-presented at a virtual litfest with an old friend from MA days, though we’re thousands of miles apart. I am now an assessor for a writing consultancy and a proofreader for a new Italian publisher. Writing predominantly historical fiction is an advantage in lockdown, as the writer must perforce go in her head into a vanished world, and the less interference from the modern one there is, the better (provided that for research purposes, Google works, and ABEbooks still deliver!). Frustration as a writer lies in not being able to do field visits for future projects – a first world problem, and those places will be waiting for me afterwards. The virtual company of other writers has become more important than ever before. There have been some stellar online opportunities, like the Society of Authors workshops, and the Arvon at Home readings. I hope these persist alongside conventional offerings once the pandemic has passed, as they represent real accessibility and democratisation of the business of writing.

Katherine Mezzacappa is an Irish writer of mainly historical fiction now living in Italy. She also writes as Katie Hutton and as Kate Zarrelli.


Her début historical novel as Katie Hutton, The Gypsy Bride, was published May 2020 on Kindle and Audible by Zaffre Books, with the paperback to follow in June.

A sequel, The Gypsy’s Daughter, is in preparation for June 2021. As Kate Zarrelli, writing for eXtasy Books, she is the author of Tuscan Enchantment (2019) and The Casanova Papers (June 2020). Her short fiction (as Katherine Mezzacappa) has appeared in Ireland’s Own, Erotic Review Magazine, The Copperfield Review, Turnpike, Asymmetry and in anthologies with the Bedford International Writing Competition, Henshaw Press and Severance Publications. She’s a member of the Irish Writers Centre, the Irish Writers Union, the Society of Authors, the Historical Novel Society, the Historical Writers’ Association and the Romantic Novelists Association. She was awarded a Cill Rialaig residency by the Irish Writers Centre in 2019 for the writing of a Renaissance novel, Giulia of the Albizzi. Katherine regularly reviews for the Historical Novel Society. She holds a Masters in Creative Writing from Canterbury Christ Church University in addition to an MLitt in Eng Lit from Durham and a first degree in History of Art from UEA.


You are never alone with a book; that’s as true now as it was when I was a lonely teenager. Historical fiction allows us to escape into a different world, and without being preachy about it, can help us realise that we’ve been through terrible times before without the advances in healthcare and communication that aid us now. I do not believe that writers of historical fiction should offer nostalgia to their readers – more perhaps a realisation that human beings are often more resilient than they realise.

Author Links:


https://www.amazon.co.uk/Gypsy-Bride-Katie-Hutton/dp/1838770259/
https://www.facebook.com/katherinemezzacappafiction/
https://www.facebook.com/katezarrellibooks/
 @katmezzacappa
 @KatieHuttonAut1

Thank you so much to Katherine for being my guest. It is interesting to hear her thoughts from a historical fiction perspective.

It’s been wonderful featuring such a variety of authors and bloggers in this series. All have shared such interesting and perceptive thoughts on lockdown and isolation for writers.

We truly are living in history at the moment. No doubt future generations will reflect on this time period in their studies to come.

I have to agree with Katherine, the human race will find a solution. It will take time but we will get there.

For now, this is the last in this series. Thank you to all that have taken part. I am currently working on my COVID19 diaries, flash fiction and poetry collection which I hope to release soon. And I will also be finalising my YA fantasy The Curse of Time #2 Golden Healer.

More about that soon.

Please comment below, I’m sure Katherine would love to hear from you.

In the meantime, stay safe, stay well.

Writers in Isolation – Drew Neary and Ceri Williams – The Clockmaker – #COVID19 #Isolation #Writers Supernatural #Novel #Series

Photo by Brigitte Tohm from Pexels

How do writers, creatives, artists and bookish souls cope with isolation? Is their capacity to cope different from the rest of the population? It’s an interesting question and one that fascinates me.

How are Ceri and Drew coping with this enforced isolation?

Hello everyone!

We are Ceri Williams and Drew Neary and we co-write supernatural thrillers. Our first book “The Clockmaker” is a novel set just after WW2. There is a third member of our team – our illustrator Priscila Arandez who produces our cover art.


Our second novel “The Perfect Child,” will be released some time after
COVID-19 finally releases us from it’s grip.

Drew:

The biggest difference to my day in lockdown, is that my children are now at home 24/7. As a parent this offers a lot of challenges but also opportunities. Firstly, the children have to be kept safe, schooled and given plenty of exercise time. I found that establishing a routine really helped–so we do our schooling, then it’s exercise time- usually a walk in the sunshine to somewhere green and leafy. After that we have free time where the children usually play and I get some writing done. Then it’s evening
mealtime and we sit down and watch a DVD, play a board game etc.


I always carry a pen and note pad or my Dictaphone with me during the day. So when moments of inspiration strike, I can record them for later use and they are not lost nor fade from memory. So far, even though my writing time has drastically reduced, it’s been quite an enjoyable, positive experience.


There are so many hours in the day, so the writing has to be reduced – but it’s always there, on a smaller scale bubbling away in the mind, being recorded, kept in pockets for a later day.


As co-writers, the major downside of lock down is no face – to – face meetings. This, I really miss, but we have to be sensible and follow the guidelines, so it just means more chats on the phone and on Facebook.


Ceri


I am less disciplined than Drew and only write when the muse occurs. It is harder now that we are apart as writers, but we send each other pieces of writing and that often kick starts my own writing process. I am solitary by nature and so these weeks of isolation aren’t unusual. But lack of choice to go out, see friends and especially loved ones has been very hard for me, as it has for millions globally.

Us:


We greatly miss our author visits to shops, libraries and book clubs. Not only is it a chance to promote and sell our book, but we are very sociable people and it’s fantastic to meet and engage with fellow readers and book fans.


There is no real way around this current situation as authors promoting their work. Social media of course-Twitter, Face book etc, are all tools to promote, meet new people and talk but for me it’s just not quite the same as meeting people in person.
One of the questions we are often asked on our visits or interviews, is how do you co-write? Is it difficult? Is there conflict? Oddly, it is a very smooth process based on respect for each other’s ideas and individual styles of writing.


We both write either independently (and prior to this lockdown) together. Then amalgamate, discuss next steps and repeat the process.

Ceri is brutal with the editing which happens primarily when we are both
satisfied that the story is all down.

So at the end of the day, lock down has put us all into our little personal
bubbles.

The Clockmaker is the first in an upcoming series of gripping supernatural books by Nottingham based Ceri Williams and Drew Neary.

Widowed in World War 2, Annette and her young son face a completely different life as they exchange the devastation of post-blitz London for the slow pace of a small village. The house they have inherited is old, its bones still settling, creaking noises in the dead of night and the murmur of scritch-scritch in the walls. Located outside the village of Lochnagar, it’s been empty for many years. 

The unfolding of how the Clockmaker made his plans, his meticulous preparations and macabre creations, all builds up to a series of gruesome, horrific murders. These have just one end in view: his release from that which has held him captive for centuries. 

The Clockmaker is a character in the much larger Novel – Optics. When we put some extracts on our website, we received acclaim, and requests to develop the minor characters further. That was when The Clockmaker was born,” comment debut authors Ceri and Drew. The authors are currently arranging a series of book launches around the local area and have engaged various local writing groups with their debut. 

A chilling supernatural novel with characters you’ll come to care for, The Clockmaker will interest anyone who fears the dark – and what might lie in the shadows… DREW NEARY became interested in history, science fiction/fantasy and conspiracy theories in his teenage years. This prompted him to write short stories over the years. He is also a fan of tabletop gaming.

CERI WILLIAMs has always loved language, and after a 5 year stint in advertising and journalism, now writes supernatural horror and fantasy.

The Clockmaker is their first book and forms part of an upcoming series. PUBLICATION DATE 28th May 2018 ISBN: 9781788034586 Price: £8.99 

A few of our reviews for The Clockmaker


I enjoyed this book. It has some Gothic, is a bit historical, has some
supernatural and a touch of horror. This is not a gore book but a clever
unravelling of a story where the human characters are not the most
unnerving.


“It was brilliantly written with a selection of both historic and
atmospherically creepy terms, and the conclusion was both surprising
and satisfying to the tale as a whole. A great Gothic thriller.”

“There’s nothing I can say about this book apart from Brilliant. Great story very well written with characters the reader cares about. Read it.”


“An amazing Gothic thriller set in the Scottish Highlands with cinematic
type prose that hooked from the beginning. One of the most well-
written books I’ve read in a while.”


“Absolutely loved this book, the writing is beautiful, like poetry
sometimes. Thought the story very gripping. A little bit dark and a little
horror would recommend this to anyone who loves books and good
writing. “


Atmospheric and chilling!
“If you like creepy, supernatural horror, this is the book for you.
Brilliantly alarming; kept me awake half the night! Well written, great
settings, absorbing themes and characters. “


The writing was exceptional, the characters alive and real, the Clockmaker terrifying. I found it hard to put down, A Gothic thriller that will keep you awake at night! Wonderful characters and setting and a plot that keeps you on the edge of your seat.


Beautiful yet insanely creepy.
First of all, this book is very well written. The prose and the descriptions of London, war-ravaged Berlin, and most impressively Scotland, all created a beautiful aura that had a slow-burning undercurrent of horror beneath it. It takes a little while to figure out just what type of creature the villain is, but the authors left little clues throughout the early pages to create suspense. This is part historical and part something else. It’s a wonderful read.

https://www.instagram.com/ceriw1497/

Thank you so much to Drew and Ceri for being my guests.

Well, I’m intrigued by the sound of The Clockmaker and the apparent effortless of the teamwork involved. Now let me see, I have a thing about clocks…. and I love the supernatural… I do enjoy a novel set in WW2…

I’m sure you enjoyed this interesting blog post too. Do comment below I’d love to hear your thoughts on The Clockmaker.

Isolation for Writers – Guest post: Miriam Owen #COV1D19 #Isolation #Bloggers #Books #Blogging

How do writers, creatives, artists and bookish souls cope with isolation? Is their capacity to cope different from the rest of the population? It’s an interesting question and one that fascinates me.

How is Miriam coping with this enforced isolation?

Book blogging in the time of Covid 19

Lockdown – Week 4. In the time it took me to open a Word document to write the title of this piece and prepare to begin writing I received a message that a friend had passed away in London. They didn’t pass from Covid 19 but cancer. I had interacted with this person online 2 days previously but hadn’t seen them face to face for 6 years. Online they were looking good and sounding cheerful. Their passing hit me hard. Probably harder than it may have done normally because I had more time to think about it, read messages about them online and more time to cry. I reflected as death always makes us do. I felt strongly that life cannot be lived online only as we do not understand or portray the whole picture online.


My research also forces me to be reflective. It is indeed a requirement in my area. In wider terms I need to reflect upon how this current situation changes the way that we as readers interact with the book market. As a reader, blogger and an academic I have been reflecting upon the cancellations of hundreds of book events, book festivals and book launches. All these things that bring the reading community together. The specific context of my research is book bloggers and their interactions within the book world. I was due to travel to some of these events to observe, interview, film and study book bloggers. All these activities are now cancelled. I find myself specifically reflecting upon the role of the book blogger in these lockdown days.

Has their role changed? Do online events fulfill the same need in readers (and specifically bloggers) as live events do. Are people reading more book blogs? Does a blog tour take on more importance if there is not an actual physical book launch? I would love to hear what people think about this.


I have been a blogger for nearly 8 years now. Do I feel any different about my blogging activity under lockdown? I don’t really, not in a general way. The reviews I have promised to write remain. The desire to blog is still there. What has changed? I have had the time to do a long overdue tidy of my bookcases which has allowed me to ask myself questions as I unearth books I had forgotten about. Why didn’t I write about this or why haven’t I read that? The quiet space to read and write has changed under lockdown. My two young children are now around me all the time and need to be schooled. I am exhausted from home schooling, watching the news and being needed by my family. Bedtime is now the only time for reading (if I can stay awake) and if I am lucky I can read a few snatched pages upon waking up on weekend mornings. My writing space is now the school table, when it isn’t the breakfast, lunch and dinner table or the jigsaw puzzle space. Instead of picking and choosing what to blog about I ask myself what can I do to help in my community? I feel terrible for all the publishers and authors who have worked towards book launches at this time. I feel bad for the writers who have already spent so much time on their own and had meet ups planned as I know the planned social time is important for them. I contact some of them that I know with offers to write about their projects. I offer to organise a blog tour for a festival that I go to every year. I send books and DVDs to friends. I speak to more people in private messages to make sure they are okay. In my case all these things are interwoven with relationships which have been grown online but have been solidified in person at book events, over coffee and in face to face conversations. Everybody’s experience of blogging is different but for me I love being part of a community. Going to book events is like a renewal of vows, it enthuses me to go on blogging, reminds me why I do it, makes me feel part of something exciting and significant.


Some festivals are moving to online events. Some under their own branding whilst others are becoming involved in kind of umbrella online events where their event becomes part of something larger and less specific. Some have had offers to slot specific events into festivals which are happening (they hope) later in the year. Some authors have taken to being creative themselves and doing pieces for their own social media. You Tube seems to be useful – book illustrators seem to be flourishing in the online visual culture. Musicians too.The first few weeks I thought this is great, all this will help me through these dark days. I usually cannot get enough of the arts and really craved online events when I could not get to things because of family commitments. Now that we are in week 4 of lockdown I find it all washing over me as I drown in online events that I cannot keep up with. I am craving eye contact, the smell of new books, handshakes, group laughter, group applause, group tears and deep, important discussions where I see and feel people express themselves. I know there are people busting a gut to get things online lest they be forgotten about but to me as an individual it seems not to hit the spot somehow. Perhaps there is too much online in my life now. Work online, school online, shop online, sell online, browse online, communicate online, listen online. It is all too much and for me it does not feel like a satisfying a substitute for the real thing. The travel, the human contact or feeling the buzz that makes events so exciting is part of what inspires me to keep blogging.


I can appreciate that some people will enjoy what is happening. In academic circles I often see academics ask why do we need to go to conferences? All the introverts say we can do this online, save the planet, still get our point across and I am screaming no! I need to see people, feel their energy, enjoy learning about somewhere new, I like my dedicated conference time and space to reflect on what I am hearing. The same goes for my blogging and book time. The reading/writing community is an amazing thing in general, online and offline. In my experience with the crime fiction genre the community is positive, down to earth, well documented, well organised, supportive and adaptable. It is one of the reasons that I undertook this piece of academic research. There is passion, motivation, kindness and knowledge. Festivals are important. We meet, talk, drink, solve the world’s problems, learn and relax. I miss them like I miss an old friend because they help me to understand, get a clearer picture of what is going on and solidify something important in life. So far Covid 19 has allowed me a pause. Within that pause sits time to think about so many actions including the action of blogging. Have you been reflecting too?

Miriam Owen is a blogger and doctoral researcher in Marketing at Strathclyde University.

If you have any opinions about book blogging she would love to hear from you at miriam.owen@strath.ac.uk

Thanks to Marjorie for hosting this piece in her Covid series.
Miriam’s blogs are: nordicnoirblog.wordpress.com and walkingbassbuzz.wordpress.com

Thank you Miriam for being my guest. I am so sorry to hear the sad news about your friend. Sending my deepest condolences.

I wish that things could be different. I wish that COVID19 had never happened. I miss meeting my writing and blogging friends in person and attending festivals, particularly the Edinburgh International Festival and Book Festival. But I am so glad that I started this feature – it has been rewarding and given me a focus on something other than COVID19.

I am enjoying all of the articles submitted to me and they have all been so different!

It is by no means easy to cope with this time in our lives. We must try to be patient, whilst we keep on reading, writing and sharing our love of the written word.

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts.

It is a joy to connect with the writing and blogging community.

Frank Prem #Poetry #Review – A Kiss For The Worthy

Goodreads synopsis

Houses and rooms are full of perfumes,
the shelves are crowded with perfumes,
I breathe the fragrance myself and know it and like it,
The distillation would intoxicate me also,
but I shall not let it.. . .

from Leaves of Grass

Drawing on the phrasing of Walt Whitman’s great late 19th century poem Leaves of Grass (above) Frank Prem has produced a collection of expansive and outward looking love poetry written, as always, in the unique style that allows every reader to relate.

Prem’s interpretations breathe new life into contemporary exploration of themes of love in poetry, and utilise Whitman’s original phrases to inspire a contemplation of the self in the context of landscape and the wider world:

and as they open
I realise
they are filled
with sweet perfumes

golden glory

wafted aroma

from a house filled (with the sensual)

a kiss for the worthy is the second of three collections that together comprise A Love Poetry Trilogy, with each revisiting outstanding work by stellar poets of the past to produce vibrant new collections. The first collection, walk away silver heart, draws on Amy Lowell’s deeply personal Madonna of the Evening Flowers, while the third, rescue and redemption, derives from T.S Eliot’s The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.

This is a new kind of poetry that tells stories, draws pictures and elicits emotional responses from readers. Just as the best poetry should.

My review

A Kiss For The Worthy is the second of three poetry collections in A Love Poetry Trilogy, drawing inspiration from Walk Whitman’s Leaves of Grass.

It begins with an extract of leaves of Grass: Song of Myself.

Frank Prem’s free style poetry is always a delight to read. Freestyle or free verse poetry  frees the writer from the constraints of meter and rhyme.

Compared to Prem’s other works A Kiss For The Worthy focuses on the person within: the concept of self and an individual’s experience of and love of life. It awakens the readers appreciation on so many levels, from the sensory imagery of feet walking on sand, to the familiar battles of drinking too much coffee!

There is something for everyone – from the philosophical to light-hearted humour too.

My personal favourites are:

not until (I die), in blossom wild (a nature boy), a house filled (with the sensual), what I am (a lapwing’s call), every working man, not much left (of me), espresso (no and no)

Buying Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B084BWM755/

My rating: 5 stars.

Authors Website:
https://FrankPrem.com

I received a copy from the author and am pleased to share my unbiased views with you.

Colleen’s 2020 Weekly #Tanka Tuesday #Poetry Challenge No. 177 #SynonymsOnly

The prompt words this week are: transition & harmony but we have to find synonyms for our poetry. For transition I chose – metamorphosis and for harmony – peaceful.

Recently, I went on a walk with my two daughter to the nearby river. We crossed a bridge over the lock, looking down I noticed a stone frog hidden under the ramparts of the concrete bridge. I’ve walked over that bridge but have never noticed it before. Perhaps, being a writer and a poet has made me more observant than most people – particularly during Lockdown!

I took an ‘instant’ video of the frog. But it was so swift and almost impossible to see.

My daughters walked ahead and didn’t see the frog. Next time, we walk over that bridge I will point it out to them. Unless of course I imagined it!

A metamorphis

Is an extremely long word!

Peaceful writer’s eyes

Observe a hidden surprise.

A walk, a river, a frog!

https://colleenchesebro.com/2020/05/12/colleens-2020-weekly-tanka-tuesday-poetry-challenge-no-177-synonymsonly/

Hope you enjoyed the poem.

I am included amongst some wonderful poets in Colleen Chesebro’s poetry book store: https://colleenchesebro.com/poetry-books-for-sale/

I’m thrilled to share a new 5 star review for Mr Sagittarius from Miriam Hurdle: https://theshowersofblessings.com/2020/05/11/book-review-mr-sagittarius-poetry-and-prose-by-mj-mallon/

Available for free on kindle unlimited and to buy in kindle and paperback: http://mybook.to/MrSagittarius

Author Spotlight – James J. Cudney #Author #Interview #Spotlight #May #Promos

 


Today, it is my great pleasure to welcome author of family drama and mystery genres, book reviewer, and enthusiastic supporter of the writing community James J. Cudney to my blog. 

Jay is sharing some fascinating insights into his writing life. And Jay’s books are on promo during May! (So whatever you do don’t miss out on the offer links towards the end of the interview.)

In my interviewer mode I sometimes like to call myself MJ… So, donning my MJ superpowers… Lol. Let us begin.

MJ: I’d love it if you could tell me a little about yourself and your writing journey.

Jay: Writing has always been part of my life, but it went on the backburner after graduating from college. I’d jot a few lines down here and there… everyone at work would send me their documents to proof or fix. Friends would ask for advice on how to summarize a situation or meeting. Then I worked for 15 years in a complex corporate and technology role. I had no time to write, but when I left in 2016, I decided to explore my passion again. Three years later, I have eight books. I seriously don’t know how it happened… I mean I do… but really… it feels like someone else lived this life and now that I’m back in a corporate technology role, figuring out how to balance both of these versions of me at the same time is almost impossible. The one thing I do know: I am thrilled to be a part of the literary book world, and I will never leave it again!

MJ: I’d love to find out more about you. Where are you from? What anecdotes would you like to share? What makes you tick?

Jay: I was born in Fort Myers, Florida in the USA. Various ancestors immigrated to the US between 1750 and 1900 from Germany, England, Ireland, and Scotland. Three of thirty-two branches seem to have arrived before 1750 but I cannot be certain when. The last person to emigrate was in 1910, so we’ve been here for a very long time. They mostly settled in the PA-NY region, and my immediate family all grew up on Long Island, the suburbs of New York City and not too far from the Hamptons. Although I lived a 45-minute drive or train ride from NYC, I only visited a handful of times before I turned twenty-one years old. My parents weren’t big fans of the city, and as an only-child, I didn’t get out very much. It’s amusing that I now live here, and my parents visit at least one Sunday a month for brunch and to wander around a new neighborhood with me. I also like to learn about new cultures and visit different parts of the world. I’ve been to Europe, Asia, and South America. I’ve been to Canada and Mexico numerous times, and 35 / 50 states. I would love to get to Africa and Australia this decade. I much prefer colder weather, so I’m even open to a trip to Antarctica and the Arctic Circle.

MJ: Some ‘marketing experts’ advise that you should have one photo of yourself on all of your social media. I notice you have several, and one with a very fetching bow tie. What are your thoughts on this? (I tend to think it is nice to have more than one photo as it gives an indication of aspects of the author’s personality.) 

Jay: I agree with you 100%. When I think of a single picture, I think of fake advertising. It’s a specific pose to reach a specific audience. I have one professional picture which was taken on my last day at a prior job, so I could use it on LinkedIn for future networking. I like having different looks so my personality shines through. I love the bow tie photo – it’s from a wedding I went to in Florida three years ago… for… the narrator I mentioned earlier! Thank you for the compliment. That’s pretty much my natural everyday look… okay, joking… it’s definitely not the normal me, but I do like to have a bit of fun in my photos.

MJ: Yes, why not and we both like avatars! Here’s yours!

MJ: I’ve never been to New York, or to the USA. Sigh. As we are confined to our homes during this time it would be lovely if you describe your favourite view from your home? Or a favourite place you enjoy going to.

Jay: Quarantine is definitely an experience we shall not forget. I don’t mind it much because I’m a homebody, but I do miss getting out to see friends or eating at restaurants. I’m lucky in that I have a large one-bedroom apartment in a safe and quiet part of the city. It also has a seven-hundred-square-foot terrace and I’m on the top floor, so I can see great horizons and look upon parts of the East River. I have flowerboxes and large trees on the terrace, including a small arbor and several bushes, as well as a dining area and a lounging area.

When I feel trapped, I can step onto the terrace and experience a bit of nature and the sounds of the city. Sometimes it’s too windy, but it’s usable from March thru November, as long as the temperature stays above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. I spent a good part of this morning assembling a raised flower bed to grow vegetables this summer. Tonight, we’ll eat outside. It’s a bit of a magical place.

MJ: How delightful. I love your colour scheme and how nature joins you on your terrace.

MJ: You read and review so many books. I’m in awe. Do you believe that all authors should read extensively/review? How important do you think it is for an author to read in multiple genres?

Jay: I am a lucky guy, and I am grateful for all that I have been given. I live with my partner, but we do not have children. We have a rambunctious two-year-old shiba inu dog named Baxter.

Other than those two, and my job, and visiting family and friends, my time is pretty much my own. I am able to prioritize non-work hours to focus on writing, reading, and blogging. Up until three years ago, I didn’t have a blog nor had I written a book, so my reading choices came from book series I’d come to enjoy and finding new books at the store. Suddenly, when my blog took off and I published my debut novel, my reading choices skyrocketed. I was getting books from publishers for free, subscribing to NetGalley, and meeting bunches of indie authors who wanted to share book reviews. I made it a priority to get to know them, as it helped my own book marketing skills and I built a network of amazing people around the world. Now, I feel guilty because I’ve met so many wonderful authors yet I cannot find the time to read all their books. I split my reading in half now. Fifty percent comes from series or authors I enjoy reading, and the remaining half comes from indie authors I’ve met or new authors I occasionally try to help when time permits. I do think authors should read in all genres they write in, plus a few others to learn how to blur the lines. It’s hard to review when I’m writing or editing, so I need to balance those pieces. It’s important for authors to know their limits and not spread themselves too thin. It’s also important to make connections and help others just as we’ve been helped in the past.

MJ: We’re on the same page. I’ve had so much help in this writing journey so I love to pay it forward by helping other authors too. It is all about community. I love your dog – so cute!

MJ: How do you manage your time? I believe you returned to full-time work recently. I also work full-time (but for now I am on furlough.) Generally, I find it difficult to find the time to do what I want… But, you seem to smash it, what’s your secret?

Jay: Thank you – that means a lot. I do pride myself of multi-tasking and achieving a lot in a brief amount of time. I’m super-organized and keep an Excel document with a list of tasks and a list of posts planned for my blog going out for 3 months. I have several ‘open’ spots for when something new comes up, but it contains all my marketing plans for my own books, all my blog segments, and all the books I plan to read. I fill in once a week with something new that comes up… that way, when someone asks if I can share a post on them, I sometimes can make it work. I also know when I am tapped out and can’t do anything else, given my schedule.

I get up 2 hours before I start work so that I can spend 90 minutes clearing my email and social media accounts. I want to start work with confidence that I’m not already behind. I run through it again at night, balance cooking, the gym, and errands, and then I make time to read for an hour or so before bed. I keep to a routine, and I ask myself every morning – what are my priorities today? Nothing changes them, short of an emergency or better method of accomplishing a task… I’m dedicated to keeping this running smoothly, and when I need the downtime, I take it. That’s the only real advice I have in this realm, but it works for me. 

The new job after three years has been difficult to adapt to. I lost ten hours a day, which basically equates to reading 2 books per week and writing 10 chapters per week. So… I knocked my Goodreads Reading Challenge down from 208 to 104 this year, and I will publish only 2 books instead of 3, as originally planned. I’m sorry about the work situation for you. I hope things change quickly… it’s a little scary what the future could bring, but maybe it will turn around faster than we expect.

MJ: Yes, it is scary. I hope the turn around is faster Jay. Thank you so much for your kind words. Luckily, I’m at that stage in my life when writing full-time is my end goal. Perhaps that goal post might be brought nearer than I originally expected.

MJ: What are your favourite authors and books. What have they taught you?

Jay: I’m a big fan of Agatha Christie, Ken Follett, Kate Morton, Edgar Allan Poe, and Henry James. Although I’m not nearly as talented, I’m probably a combination of all five of these amazing authors. They’ve taught me how to balance the detail and depth of a character with letting readers have their own imagination. Often a review will say I’ve added too much to the picture, but I think there’s always room for creativity, and what I project might be different from what the reader perceives.

MJ: How did you find your recent video interview experience with Valentina? 

Valentina is so easy to work with, and I actually relaxed more than I expected. Two years ago, I was on a radio show, and I spoke too quickly and softly. I was better this time, but I still felt like I could be more personable and outgoing than I come across. I recommend all authors do something like this, then learn how you’re perceived. It helps you create your image and figure out how to interact with others in a way that makes you shine. You should give it a try, then we can learn more about you too. 😊

MJ: Oh, how terrifying! I am considering starting a Youtube channel but will need to get some practice in before I dare to chat with Valentina.

MJ: If you could introduce me to one of your favourite characters what would they say to me.

Jay: Help! He’s making me do things I never thought I’d do. Please, I’ll pay you to stop him from controlling my actions. (Ah, there’s my humor coming out…)

MJ: Love it! Every book needs at least one funny character.

MJ: Finish and edit this sentence to reflect you, the day to day Jay:  Each day one of my socks goes missing… (This happens to me all the time!)

Hmm… did the washer or dryer eat them? Each day one of my socks goes missing… Baxter has an unhealthy fetish for fabric, and he is vicious about socks. If there’s ever a sock that falls from the drawer or the laundry basket, he steals it. Aggressively, then he growls when I try to take it back. It’s nuts. He’s the sweetest dog until socks are involved. I find half eaten socks all over the apartment. I’ve threatened to make him pay for the replacements out of his dog food allowance.

MJ: Now I know who the culprit is. Baxter has been teleporting here to eat our socks too. Naughty doggy!

MJ: How do you decide on the titles for your books.

The titles in the Braxton Campus Mysteries are a play on words. The 1st and the 2nd word mean one thing together, and then 2nd and the 3rd mean something entirely different. Take the latest: Frozen Stiff Drink. Frozen Stiff means you’ve got a dead body. Stiff Drink means you need something to relax. Not only are those the two themes to the book, but it’s a clue to the murder weapon in this mystery. It’s the same setup for the first five in the series too, except Academic Curveball is only two words. Here’s where I messed up… I honestly thought curveball was two words, so the title was Academic Curve Ball, meaning Academic Curve and Curve Ball… the book was about grades being changed on the baseball team, so it was a cool title… then a beta reader pointed out that it was one word. I was heartbroken for days and thought of different titles… couldn’t work it out!

MJ: Giveaways of books, got any tips?

Jay: Rafflecopter has some free options. I like doing random comment winners on a blog post. Ultimately, people want free stuff, so you have to do them… but then shipping can be expensive for physical books. I usually focus on audiobooks or Kindle editions.  I participated in the Goodreads giveaways when they were free, but when they went to over $100, I didn’t see the value in getting your money back, so I stopped doing those. Instagram has become very popular for them.

MJ: How do your family and friends respond to your writing career? Are they supportive?

Jay: They are supportive. My mom and a few other relatives read all the books. Some haven’t said anything, and occasionally… it bugs me. I’d happily give them to them for free, but I don’t like pushing my work on others either. Friends have surprised me. Some haven’t offered to help in any way, shape, or form. Others who weren’t that close have been super supportive. I think it just comes down to those who like books read them, those who aren’t readers ignore it! I am totally okay with it because everyone has their own online stores or products and services. I can’t or haven’t done tons to help them either… it’s impossible to keep up, and with friends, you always know they’d be there if you really needed them to be. For the most part, they all think it’s cool. I hardly ever bring it up around others tho, as I feel weird about it. It’s not a secret, but I tend not to discuss my writing career with friends and family unless they ask me questions.

MJ: Do you plot a little, or a lot? Or not at all?

Jay: 100% start with a plot and detailed outline that notes 2 or 3 scenes and the key things to happen in them. But it might only say something like “Kellan goes to the diner and overhears a conversation that provides him a clue about the time of the murder. Involves Character A and this location.” As I’m writing the beginning of the scene, I decide who else should appear in it from the supporting cast, so that I can share side stories and keep the feel of a wonderful small community. I try to include 3 or 4 of these in each book so I can have a larger series in development over time.

MJ: What do you think of social media? Any tips for managing the time suck that it is.

Jay: I absolutely hate it. But it’s absolutely necessary. Routine is best. I have one for all sites I’m on. I follow it in the morning and again when I’m done with work. If I let myself go on again before bed, it’s more casual and I’ll just randomly check for tags or people that I’m curious about. It’s important to limit your time, otherwise you’re going down the rabbit hole. Two hours max a day for me, and then I force myself to switch to genealogy, Spades, or random Wikipedia reads.

MJ: Tell us about your audio book journey. How did you set about transferring your writing so it could be listened to in audio form. Are you a keen audio book fan?

Jay: This one is interesting. I do not like audiobooks. I am a quick reader, and I often read a book in less time than the average reader. This is only because I’ve read over a thousand books this decade, so it’s just become the norm to me. Listening to an audiobook is generally 4 times as long for me. I don’t have that amount of time, plus I like to imagine my own voices for the characters. So… big reveal… shocking, I know, but I don’t actually listen to audiobooks. I also get distracted too easily. If I have headphones or earbuds, I can walk around the apartment. I find myself making coffee and cleaning something, then 10 minutes have gone by and I tuned out of the book! So… I can’t listen to one. I’ve listened to most of mine, because that’s the right thing to do. My publisher handles the selection process, and then the narrator will reach out to me for any tips. I’ve never picked my own narrator… too bad, a good friend of mine is a narrator and I would’ve loved to give him the book! But I’m glad for those who have been selected, and they all bring something extra to the story and the setting.

MJ: It’s great to see that you have your books translated into other languages. How did you arrange this, was it a complex process?

Jay: Oh! This is another one my publisher handled. They told me they were beginning the process, and I had to provide some guidance. A month later, I saw the ad for a book I wrote in Spanish, and I didn’t even know it was done. Shocked, I say! So… I wish I could help there, but I wasn’t directly involved. I’ve now got 5 in different languages, so I’m eagerly figuring out to market them and learning German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish so I can share new types of posts. I’m someone fluent in Spanish, but only in conversation, not in book marketing!

MJ: Have you got any pearls of wisdom for a new writer?

Jay: Know your goals. If you want fame, money, influence, etc. If you just write because you want to write and have no plan or thought about where to go, you won’t (in 99% of the cases) be successful. Be sure to have a 6-month, 1-year, 2-year plan so you can pace yourself and see modest wins in the beginning. Adjust and adapt. Re-baseline. Always think about the future needs and plans.

MJ: Would you ever consider doing a Tik Tok video? Or do you prefer not to.

Jay: Umm… I’ve heard of it. I’ve seen a few. I’m so inundated with everything I have to do now, I can’t take on anything new! LOL I supposed I should learn it at some point tho, right?

MJ: I’m tempted, but… it might embarrass my kids. Not that that would stop me!

MJ: Share a funny story to cheer us all up in Lockdown.

Jay: I wear glasses and contacts. Before quarantine, I wore contacts to work every day. Now that I’m home all the time, I tend to wear my glasses. I try not to wear contacts much now unless I have an important work meeting and need to go on video chat. When I’m walking Baxter in my mask, and it’s a glasses day, they fog up. I’ve almost stepped into traffic, bumped into signs, and had to stop in the middle a sidewalk simply to be able to see and not fall down. It’s embarrassing, and I now put a tissue at the top of the mask. Someone once stopped on the street, about six feet away, and said, “Are you okay, do you need me to call an ambulance?” I must’ve looked like such a fool just staring into space waiting for my glasses to clear up. I mumbled something like “all good, just waiting for my spectacles to defog, ma’am.” As the person walked by making an odd noise, he said, “Actually, I’m a sir.” Lord, I shouldn’t ever talk to people. I’m a mess.

MJ: Lol. That happens to me all the time! No, not being called Ma’am or Sir, my glasses fogging up!

May Promos

Jay’s books are on promo during May. This week its his debut 2017 novel Watching Glass Shatter, Download the Kindle format here as it’s only .99 from 5/17 thru 5/21. 

Frozen Stiff Drink: Death at Danby Landing, the 6th book in the Braxton Campus Mysteries, will be available as a .99 Kindle download. via Amazon.

The 3rd book in the Braxton Campus Mysteries series Flower Power Trip is on sale for only .99 cents from 5/20 thru 5/24. You can download it to your Kindle here

The 4th book in the Braxton Campus Mysteries, Mistaken Identity Crisis, is available for only .99 as a Kindle download from May 21st thru 25th. If you haven’t experienced this mystery and family drama, get it now via Amazon.

Not only were many of the books in the Braxton Campus Mysteries discounted to .99 this week, but the 5th book, Haunted House Ghost, is also available as a Kindle download for only .99 from 5/29 thru 6/2. To take advantage of this discount, visit Amazon via this link..

Father Figure is a .99 Kindle download from 5/23 thru 5/27 – help yourselves! Thank you so much for your support in sharing, downloading, reading, and reviewing. I appreciate it! You should pick it up before the virtual book club coming up soon… check it out @ Download @ http://mybook.to/FatherFigure for only .99 this week.

Bio

James is my given name, but most folks call me Jay. I live in New York City, grew up on Long Island, and graduated from Moravian College, an historic but small liberal arts school in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, with a degree in English literature and minors in Education,Business and Spanish. After college, I accepted a technical writing position for a telecommunications company during Y2K and spent the last ~20 years building a career in technology & business operations in the retail, sports, media and entertainment industries.


Throughout those years, I wrote some short stories, poems and various beginnings to the “Great American Novel,” but I was so focused on my career in technology and business that writing became a hobby. In 2016, I refocused some of my energies toward reinvigorating a second career in reading, writing and publishing.

I write in the family drama and mystery genres. My first two books are Watching Glass Shatter (2017) and Father Figure (2018). Both are contemporary fiction and focus on the dynamics between parents and children and between siblings. I’m currently writing the sequel to Watching Glass Shatter. I also have a light mystery series called the Braxton Campus Mysteries. There are six books currently available in multiple formats: Kindle, physical print, large print paperback, and audiobook. Some are also translated into foreign languages such as Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and German. The books are Academic Curveball, Broken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, Mistaken Identity Crisis, Haunted House Ghost, and Frozen Stiff Drink.

Websites & Blog
Website: https://jamesjcudney.com/
Blog: https://thisismytruthnow.com
Next Chapter Pub: https://www.nextchapter.pub/authors/james-j-cudney

Social Media Links
Amazon: http://bit.ly/JJCIVBooks
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jamescudney4
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JamesJCudneyIVAuthor/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BraxtonCampusMysteries/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jamescudney4/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jamescudney4/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/jamescudney4
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamescudney4

My review of Academic Curveball: https://mjmallon.com/2020/03/08/book-review-academic-curveball-by-james-j-cudney-murder-mystery/

Thank you so much for being my guest Jay. It has been so much fun. Say hello to New York for me. One day I hope to visit. ❤ x

Keep smiling, reading, writing and reviewing.

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Share an Extract – #YAFantasy – The Curse of Time : Book One – Bloodstone by M.J. Mallon

Thank you so much to Sally Cronin for sharing an extract and review of my YA fantasy The Curse of Time Book 1 Bloodstone. x

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the new Cafe and Bookstore  New Series 2020 – Share an Extract with an opportunity to show one of your earlier books some love and attention by sharing an extract.. Check out the above link for all the details.

Today’s author is Marjorie Mallon with and extract from The Curse of Time : Book One – Bloodstone a YA fantasy and science fiction adventure.

About The Curse of Time

On Amelina Scott’s thirteenth birthday, her father disappears under mysterious circumstances. Saddened by this traumatic event, she pieces together details of a curse that has stricken the heart and soul of her family.

Amelina longs for someone to confide in. Her once carefree mother has become angry and despondent. One day a strange black cat and a young girl, named Esme appear. Immediately, Esme becomes the sister Amelina never had. The only catch is that Esme must remain a…

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Charli Mills Flash Fiction Challenge – #Flash #Fiction #COVID #Fear #Danger

Photo by Markus Spiske from Pexels

I stood by the platform waiting for my train, my mask tight against my face. A man jeered at me, his lips twisted in a cruel grimace. I moved back.

“I have something for you,” he smiled as he spat. I felt his wet spittle on my exposed skin. I screamed, frantically searching for a tissue to erase death from my face.

Onlookers stared, their hearts bound by fear as their masks sagged. He wiped his mouth, licking his cruel lips. Tears streamed from my eyes. I vowed to fight this virus; killers mustn’t win.

The above is my entry for Charli Mill’s flash fiction challenge – May 14, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that answers the question, “What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you are in absolute danger?” Go where the prompt leads!

Vote for a cover!

Via Dan Alatorre’s blog: Adele Marie would like you to vote for her new cover. Cast your vote!

Dan Alatorre

Adele is trying out cover ideas for her latest story. Which cover looks best? Tell me in the comments section below.


Cover 1:

Blank 6 x 9 in copy maybe


Cover 2:

3rd try(1)


Cover 3:

Blank 6 x 9 in (2)(2)


Cover 4:

Blank 6 x 9 in (1)


Cover 5:

3rd try


Let us know which one you think looks best!

Comment below!

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COVID Diaries 4th May – 6th May #Family #Diaries #COVID19 #Coronavirus #Writing #Blogging #Fashion #Guest #Features

Time to catch up on my COVID Diaries… I’ve been very busy of late finishing edits on my second book in my series The Curse of Time Book 2 Golden Healer. They are now finished and I am pleased to say I have now passed my manuscript on to Heena Rathmore Pardeshi https://crazycatwriter.com/ for a critique and proofread service.

So, let’s go back in time…

4th May

I slept badly the night before so I’m feeling tired. My eldest daughter Tasha and I still did our workout session but it was a gentle one. We both thought it would suit a granny! Which is just as well…We finished it off by doing some yoga.

I tidied my office and did some editing of the second book in my Curse of Time series. Later, my hubby and I went to the supermarket. My friend Hanna was in the queue too, so we stopped to chat to each other – following the social distancing rules – of course. You can’t exactly talk quietly due to the distance imposed, so I shouted across the queue about the fire…

What fire?

IVC is the local secondary school that my kids went to. Apparently, a skip lit and the fire spread to the roof of the performing arts block. Strange, sounds like arson to me. A friend of my daughter heard two large explosions, they thought it was an earthquake, or something. Everyone is so on edge at the moment that any loud bangs, or noises would be enough to trigger an attack of the nerves.

I wonder how the fire happened?

Getting back to the shopping trip with hubby. Whilst inside…

We argued down the aisles, in a feisty banter kind of way and I saw one of the local mum’s smirking at us.

Our shopping trip was so distracting. Both hubby and I bought four packs of onions, so we’ve got lots of onions to eat!

Next time I’m going on my own! Hubby’s idea of shopping consists of ample supplies of alcohol, and no treats apart from one bar of chocolate! How to survive lockdown with no crisps, nuts… Mind you, judging by our horrendous food bill perhaps we should start a starvation diet.

Oh, and I had a couple of guests in my Isolation for Writers Series:

First up was Jeannie Wycherley:

https://mjmallon.com/2020/05/03/isolation-for-writers-guest-author-jeannie-wycherley-guest-author-isolation-collaboration-thoughts-family-cov19/

And then Chantelle Atkins: https://mjmallon.com/2020/05/04/isolation-for-writers-chantelle-atkins-isolation-writers-covid19-ya-author/

5th May

It’s been a funny day. Aren’t they all? I finally cleared out my office. I am such a hoarder! I found things stuffed behind things that I didn’t even know were there. Nevertheless, it was interesting. We discovered three large bags of old photos and an airmail letter from my dad when he’d been working abroad in Swaziland. My eldest daughter Natasha has never seen an airmail letter before! What a lovely find. His writing was atrocious though. What a job I had reading it. Basically, it was to congratulate me on the birth of baby Georgina! And to send his love and well wishes to hubby’s dad who was ill at that time. Sadly, hubby’s dad passed away shortly after that letter was sent and Grandpa James never got a chance to see his new grand-daughter in person, which is especially sad as he always wanted lots of grand-children.

Also, I came across an old newspaper cutting of Tasha when she was three years old with her Grandma (my mum, who must have been about my age at that time,) at a hospice event.

How young my mum looked. Time flies by too fast.

I also found some old photos of hubby and I when we were young! That was funny, me draped all over him looking loved up… There was one of me wearing a leopard skin crop top and tight matching leggings. We were going to a fancy dress party. Memories, yes, it was a day of memories.

Other than that we did our gym session in the garden around 11am. Me, and the girls, and then we had lunch afterwards.

Hubby decided to climb up a ladder to sand the outside windows for painting. This made me very nervous as he’s so high up. He decided to wear his bike helmet for protection but at that height if he fell…

At one point, I went upstairs to pass him the sander and I saw this wasp on the window ledge. I was too frightened to tell him it was there in case he fell off the ladder. Later, I realised the wasp was dead!

Then Gina had an almighty melt down brought on by us all making so much noise whilst she’s completing her university assignments. Hubby was making this annoying sound with his sander, or yelling at me to get him something he needed. What a job I had calming her down. She said she wanted to go back to Manchester. No chance of that – no one can go anywhere. So, I suggested we sit in the car for a while. She brought her laptop and we looked at it together, with tears in her eyes. Bless her. Then hubby came out, looking at us as if we were bonkers. He asked why we were sitting in the car! I explained about the noise and he said he’d finish for the day. Thank goodness it’s quiet now. Phew, it’s just as well I used to be a therapist. Sometimes, I need to be to calm this lot down…

Who knows what tomorrow will bring. I hope it is a bit calmer…

6th May.

I had a terrible night’s sleep. Stress of yesterday? Perhaps it was also exacerbated by hubby teasing, saying that he was leaving the long ladder by our bedroom window for a thief, or Romeo to come in. I woke at 3.30am. I thought I heard someone climbing up the ladder. No doubt it was just my imagination! One of the hazards of being a writer is you always imagine the craziest things. I couldn’t get back to sleep so I crept out of bed and started blogging – as you do!

By the time hubby was up, I’d had enough, so I went back to bed and managed a couple of hours sleep before Tasha came looking for me. I didn’t join in with a keep fit, or yoga workout today, or take part in Writing Sprints. Shame. Instead, I edited some of the Curse of Time, beta read and finished a poetry collection for Sarah Northwood, Poetry for The Heart and Soul which I loved. Here is the link to her beta reading group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/877149636124566/

As well, I started working on a blog post about my daughter Georgina’s fashion/social media profile.

Which you can see here: https://mjmallon.com/2020/05/09/photography-shoot-daughter-fashion-business-student-modelling-clothes-hair-accessories-makeup-lashes/

Georgina seemed a lot more cheery today. She was all dressed up, make up on and had made excellent progress on her assignment. She even mentioned that it wasn’t as hard as she originally thought! Kids, hey… They give you such grief and then say everything is okay…

Oh, and Tasha and I sneaked out for a ride in the car. What an adventure! We didn’t go too far but it was nice to see neighbouring villages.

What have you been doing during this difficult time. Please share in the comments.

Book Review: Mr. Sagittarius: Poetry and Prose by M J Mallon

Thank you so much to Miriam Hurdle for this lovely 5 star review of Mr. Sagittarius. Thrilled. ❤

The Showers of Blessings

My book review of Mr. Sagittarius: Poetry and Prose by M J Mallon.

reading-logoMarje Mallon

Mr. Sagittarius: Poetry and Prose by [M J Mallon, Alex Marlowe]My Review

In Mr. Sagittarius, M J Mallon told the story of the twin brothers, Harold, and William, and their sister Annette. The brothers shared the magic of the little creatures and the natural beauty in the botanical garden.

Harold and William loved sitting on a bench under a golden weeping willow tree. After Harold passed away, William sat on the bench grieving for his loss. A dragonfly came to visit him, and he felt as if he had a conversation with the dragonfly. He went back to his flat unhappily toward Annette, his sister who cared for him. Annette confronted him that the twins only cared for each other and neglected her. William apologized, and they hugged each other. Before the night was over, Annette knitted a rainbow hat for William which he would love for…

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Isolation for Writers – Guest Post: Peter Taylor-Gooby #COVID19 #Isolation #Empathy #Imagination #Compassion

Coronavirus: Time to Write, But the Ideas Don’t Seem to Come

Peter Taylor-Gooby

I’m lucky – I live in a small town on the edge of countryside where no-one’s told the Spring about Covid-19 and I have a good-sized garden. It must be very difficult and very hard managing in a small flat trying to home-school children and keep up with the home-working…

As an amateur author everything seems to rest on the ideas coming in my head. I spend many hours remodelling and replotting and rewriting, but it always seems to start out with a vision that appears in my head: people there in great clarity. I can’t hear what they’re saying but I can tell by their body language what their relation is whether it’s conflict or love or compassion that’s driving them. It’s that revelation that forms the starting point and the passion that compels me to write, whatever happens to the words in the slow process of finalising the script is secondary.

Perhaps it’s that nothing measures up to the colossal scale of what it going on about us, perhaps it’s that there is enough drama in everyday life and on TV and on the media now to quieten whatever produces the visions, perhaps it’s just a temporary break, a lockdown of ideas. I try to start out on something, but find it hard to take the words anywhere and look forward to resuming normal life when I hope the writing will come back to me.

On my walks, I spend time thinking about what the world After Coronavirus will be like and how it will differ from the past. We must rebuild and we must rebuild better. The pandemic has brought us face to face with so much that doesn’t quite work in our world and also shown us the neighbourliness and the quiet acts of generosity and of self-sacrifice that all of us value.

One of the objectives of fiction is to help us understand our lives together, through imagination, compassion and empathy, and to visualise how things could be different. My most recent novel “Blood Ties” is set in the under-world of people-trafficking and forced labour. The characters strive to change or ignore or acquiesce in the issues hidden in plain sight all round them.

Here’s an extract:

Nic

Argon Road slants off the North Circular to the trading estate behind Ikea.

‘You’ll wait for us? Ten minutes?’ I hand over an extra £20.

‘Sorry.’

The door locks click and he’s off.

I pull my coat tight and look round. The air’s damp from the river and smells of diesel fumes and tarmac.

Two-storey corrugated iron sheds line the road, each with its compound, behind a three-metre metal fence. Harsh yellow streetlights clustered in fours on forty metre poles cast midnight shadows. I feel like an intruder in a giant’s world. A huge lorry with blank sides like a moving fortress glides past, the driver invisible in the cab. In the background the roar of the A406 is continuous, here there’s the pulse of solitary engines and the occasional shout and clatter of iron crates, but no movement I can see.

I shift closer to Nic but she’s concentrating on the torn packet, holding it out in front of her as if it’s a map and she expects to see landmarks. I shade my eyes to look for numbers on the buildings.

‘That’s it.’

The letters SPM in lime-green neon, superimposed on a golden bullock, shine out from a scaffolding above a one-storey shed at the end of the row.

Nic’s ahead of me, I half run to keep up with her.

I can’t catch my breath.

‘Slow down, we’ve got to keep together.’

‘That’s it,’ she says again. ‘Don’t you see – they outsource. No forced workers actually in your restaurant.’

‘Nic, it’s just a business. Come on, you need to get home. We’ll sort out your pills.’

The windows along the side of the shed are ablaze with light. I smell the sour salt smell of blood and see people moving around inside. The fence is higher than the one for the next compound, and the gates are locked. Nic stands back, checking it where it turns a corner. The air’s chill on my face and I start to shiver inside my overcoat. She doesn’t seem to notice the cold.

She hooks her fingers into the wire mesh above her head and hoists herself up. I grab at her belt.

‘Don’t be a fool. That’s razor-wire on top.’

‘Lend me your coat.’

Her shoes are too broad to get a foothold. I catch her as she slithers down. She stumbles backwards against me and I get my arms round her.

She pauses for a second, leaning back into my chest. She’s so cold. I open my coat and wrap it round her. For a few moments neither of us moves. I could stand there, like that, forever, they’d find us frozen in the morning. She stirs and rattles the fence.

‘Thanks Dad. Let’s go.’

I take her hand.

‘I’ll see if I can get a cab on the main road.’

Peter Taylor-GoobyNew in April 2020: Blood Ties a social policy novel of love and conflict set in the Britain of inequality, populism, Brexit and people-trafficking. Available from all Ebook stores, £1.99, paperback out in August.

Thank you for being my guest Peter. What an interesting extract. Thank you for sharing and for joining us to talk about your experience during this time.

Wishing you health, happiness and success with your novel.

Isolation For Writers – Alice May: Guest Post – #COVID19 #Isolation #Art #Tutorials #Writing #Resilience #Inspiring

How do writers, creatives, artists and bookish souls cope with isolation? Is their capacity to cope different from the rest of the population? It’s an interesting question and one that fascinates me.

How is Alice May coping with this enforced isolation?

This is her answer:

Opening the Door of ‘The House That Sat Down’

Many thanks to Marje for giving me the opportunity to open the door on The House That Sat Down and show what is happening to one author, in a remote cottage in the middle of nowhere, on the Dorset/Hampshire border during coronavirus lockdown.


Our cottage looks as idyllically chocolate-box perfect as it ever did – before it collapsed six years ago and needed rebuilding, that is – but that doesn’t mean that life is any easier inside for us than it is for anyone else at this challenging time. (A quick contextual update for those who have not read The House That Sat Down Trilogy, our house fell down out of the blue one day in 2014 and was painfully rebuilt over a traumatic period of time, which involved living in a tent in the garden; my husband, myself and four children. This period in my life led me to write my first award-winning novel.)

On a superficial level, the main change to my daily routine that I thought social lockdown would bring hasn’t materialised. I naively expected that ‘a bit more time at home’ would enable me to finish editing my latest book. The opposite has – in fact – proven to be the case and I am reminded that nothing is ever quite what we might expect.


Like many, I am attempting to nurture my family through their dramatically altered lives; a role which requires huge amounts of diplomacy which has never been one of my strong points. But, from a writing career perspective, I initially found myself paralysed by an overwhelming sense of loss.


My original – pre-Covid19 – schedule for April was chock full of exciting entries. There were multiple speaking events, radio interviews, literary festivals, book signings and even a trip to London to pitch my new book to publishers. It took months to set everything up, but only hours to come crashing down. My new, very empty April stretched before me and mental tumbleweed rolled around inside my brain as I found myself struggling to process the change without dissolving into tears.


With the world so very different, it seemed that the previous twelve months spent writing book 5 had been a colossal waste of time. How could that work still be relevant? I found myself unable to write at all and that worried me.


Instead, I started painting – no, not the walls, although they could do with it. I created big bright, colourful pieces of art to cheer myself up. I have always used painting as a way to express my emotions, it was a massively important part of my recovery from post-traumatic-stress after my house fell down. Recent weeks have seen a resurgence in my reliance on throwing paint around to make myself feel better.

My fabulous PR guru @jane_dean_pr suggested that I put a couple of free art tutorials on my YouTube channel (Alice May Artist https://youtu.be/p6bHYY4xPl0 ).

If I am completely honest, I think she was trying to get me to stop pestering her with questions about what I ought to do.


Nevertheless, it was a brilliant idea and has led to some exciting developments which proves that you never know when opportunity will come knocking. Uploading that first video was the start of a whole new dimension to my creative career. Three weeks and nearly twenty tutorials later, there has been a surge in the number of subscribers to my channel, countless visits to my website (www.alicemay.weebly.com) and an unanticipated increase in book sales. Plus, I’ve had some wonderful feedback via email, twitter and Facebook.


I was interviewed for an article in Good Housekeeping Magazine which was very exciting followed by a lovely chat with Louise Hanna on BBC Radio Solent, which in turn has led to me being invited to deliver paid presentations and art demonstrations on-line to social groups gathering on Zoom. Who knew that such a thing was even wanted, let alone possible?
https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/uk/lifestyle/a31989711/art-beginners-guide/

There has even been a suggestion that I might like to start running proper art classes after lockdown is lifted, which is definitely something to think about.


My empty diary is now stuffed full of new activities; none of which I could have predicted before lockdown, but all of which I am thoroughly enjoying. Which only goes to show that you can never predict what is just around the corner.
Anything is possible.
Stay safe, stay well and stay positive.



Alice May Artist, Author, Speaker
www.alicemay.weebly.com
You Tube: Alice May Artist
Facebook: AliceMayAuthor
Twitter: @AliceMay_Author
Instagram: alicemay_author_artist

Thank you so much to Alice for being my guest. I never imagined that such a thing would happen. Poor Alice, can you imagine your house falling down with all its belongings, and memories reduced to rubble?

My goodness.

And now this COVID19. How resilient and inspiring she is. I am so glad I started this series. It has introduced me to so many amazing writers and creatives.

Stay safe and well everyone.

Photography Shoot!!! #Daughter #fashion #business #student #modelling #clothes #hair #accessories #makeup #lashes

I’m pleased to share some photos of my daughter Georgina who is growing her social media profile as a fashion business student. I’d be most grateful if you could comment and encourage her in her journey. Here are some of her recent photographs showcasing collaborations.

In this photo she is wearing a blonde ponytail from… Lulla Bellz https://www.lullabellz.com/

And lashes from… Lashes by Evia https://www.instagram.com/lashesbyevia_/

The two photos below are self portraits.

And I took this one with her wearing a cute top from Missy Empire.

https://www.missyempire.com/


I hope you enjoyed her photos. She has recently invested in a tripod equipped with a light, so once these are assembled I might share some more photos. She already has a TikTok channel (which she has just started recently.)

Georgina’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/georgina_mallon/

Book Review: Words of Alchemy by Camilla Downs #FreeVerse #Poetry #Nature #Family #Relationships #Love

Goodreads Synopsis:

The poetry of nature, the poetry of healing, the poetry of appreciation, the poetry of love …

In Words of Alchemy, Camilla Downs invites you to walk with her to share her love of Nature and Life through a free-verse poetry memoir.

During her daily strolls she is mindfully present as she delves into life in the raw and experiences her heart’s observations.

Camilla embraces what happens when she opens her heart and invites the written words to flow.

The Alchemy of Love and Healing is what happens. 

My review

What a joy it is to read this gem of a poetry book. Full of beautiful free-verse, a memoir about friends, family, relationships and the love of the nature. This is for you if you enjoy the natural world, (as I do,) if you appreciate poetry that delves into the heart and doesn’t hold back. In many ways it is an intimate and brave expression of the author – Camilla Down’s – thoughts and feelings.

I highly recommend.

5 stars.

I had the pleasure of an engaging author interview with Camilla on my blog:

https://mjmallon.com/2020/04/12/author-interview-camilla-downs-poet-writer-wordsofalchemy-nature-inspirational-family/

Praise for Words of Alchemy

Words of Alchemy, a heartfelt new collection by Camilla Downs, lives up to its namesake in numerous ways. Downs spans the broad range of nature, healing, love, and parenting, while making sure we have a little fun along the way. And the bridge she creates from the mindfulness of how we see the world at large to the poetry of everyday life is certainly worth a stroll or two across its borders.” – Thomas Lloyd Qualls, Award-winning author of Painted Oxen

“This poetry collection offers contemplative words, soothing thoughts and peace to the reader.”

– Sue Bentley, Bestselling author of Second Skin

“Camilla Downs shares truth, vulnerability and wisdom in her Words of Alchemy collection, inviting readers to be inspired, contemplate and dive into her world of self-awareness and growth.” –

 G. Brian Benson– Award-winning author, actor and spoken word artist

“These poems take you on a calm and loving walk through the verses of the author’s thoughts. Alchemy is a perfect word for the title as Camilla Downs understands nature; connecting with its magical, medicinal qualities and beauty which she conveys throughout her poetry.”

– Ailsa Craig, Author of The Sand Between My Toes

Words of Alchemy is a chronicle of hope. These poems are an encouragement, especially when we are feeling at our lowest, to keep seeking the light that is our way forward, and focus on the real. This collection is a walk through the positive nature of life. Camilla Downs is to be commended.”

– Frank Prem, Author of free-verse memoir Small Town Kid

About Camilla: Camilla Downs is a bestselling author, indie publisher, mentor, and mom. Nature and life experiences are a constant source of inspiration for her writing. She enjoys living a minimalist lifestyle, practicing meditation and mindfulness, reading, going for walks, and capturing nature’s essence with photographs. Camilla is the founder of MeetingtheAuthors.com and lives in Northern Nevada, USA with her two kids.

Author Links:

Website: http://camilladowns.com/

Family Website: http:/theteamtlc.com/

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CamillaDownsAuthor/

twitter: https://twitter.com/camilladowns

instagram: https://www.instagram.com/CamillaDowns/

pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/camilladowns/

Amazon Author Central:

amazon.com/author/camilladowns

Meeting the Authors:

http://meetingtheauthors.com/

Where to Buy:

Words of Alchemy: If you’re in the U.S. and would like a personalized, signed book – free shipping! (I will ship internationally, if the reader would like to pay the international shipping fee): https://camilladowns.com/books/words-of-alchemy/

Amazon – Words of Alchemy: mybook.to/WordsofAlchemy

Amazon Author Central:  amazon.com/author/camilladowns


All of our bookshttp://camilladowns.com/books/

Have you read Words of Alchemy? do comment below if you have I’d love to chat about Camilla’s poetry book…

Isolation for Writers – Guest Post: Ritu Bhathal #Author #Writer #Poet #Blogger #COVID19 #Coronavirus #Isolation #Thoughts #Writing #Reading

I’m so thrilled to have Ritu join me today.

Ritu and I have met on several occasions at Blogging Bashes in London and we ‘clicked’ just as much in person as we do in our lovely ‘online,’ friendship.

So welcome Sis! When Ritu knew I was offering fellow writers a chance to join the online discussion about COVID19 – this crazy world we find ourselves in, she jumped at the chance.

How do writers, creatives, artists and bookish souls cope with isolation? Is their capacity to cope different from the rest of the population? It’s an interesting question and one that fascinates me.

How is Ritu coping with this enforced isolation?

Here is Ritu’s answer:

Coronavirus.
COVID-19.
Unprecendented.
Social Distancing.
Quarantine.
Self-Isolation.
Lockdown.

These are all words we have heard countless times in the last few weeks.
What have they done?
Brought a wave of panic into your life?
Or are you someone who has taken to it rather calmly?
Well, for me, it’s been a bit like this.
When we first heard about this strange virus, schools were still open, yet I had students going off sick with mysterious illnesses for a week to ten days at a time.
Then the government called for school closures, followed by social distancing, and the UK version of Lockdown.
I say UK version because, though all non-essential businesses have been closed, we are still allowed out to exercise once a day, go shopping for food, and schools still need us teachers, but in a different capacity; as carers for the children of Keyworkers.


Once I got over the initial worry and shock of what was happening, I got excited.
This meant more time for me to get creative, when I was home. Book two has been started but had been languishing for a couple of months, as the business of daily life took its toll.
But, just because you have time, doesn’t mean you automatically switch to the creator of four thousand words a day – well, that doesn’t happen to me, anyway.
My creativity has been hit-and-miss to be honest.
I thought all this time would mean I could write, do some courses I signed up for but never got a chance to access, more promotion, lots of reading…


The reality has been quite different.


To start with, I am in school on a rota system, so I could be in for one or two days, but I don’t know more than a week in advance.
And there is the joy of having both kids and Hubby Dearest at home as well, so no time was distraction-free time either.

I sit with my laptop open on one of my home days, WIP loaded up, ready to write up a storm. Nothing comes.
I open a book to read. But I can’t get into it and put it down after a few pages.
Then I remember those courses. So, I manage another couple of modules on a creative writing course.
But no words.
After the first ten days, we were in official Easter holiday mode. Technically no different to the last few days, but I felt, mentally, that I was on a break.
I discovered online writing sprints on several Facebook groups that helped, and in a few days, I did double my wordcount.

The joy to read came back.

But then official term started again.


And I have now got online learning to do for school too, to justify us all being at home, even though we are still planning work for our children to do at home. As well as still needing to go in periodically.


Another killjoy to my writing spree.


I’m trying to be practical still have work, but I need my play too, which involves reading and writing.
So, I have taken time to re-plan and structure my WIP, and while doing that, I have got my juices flowing, again, I think.
My aim is to do school-based work in the mornings and use after lunch time to look at my creative projects, be it writing, courses or research for the WIP.
The evening is filled with family time, walks, cooking, reading, watching films and TV, and if I feel inspired, a little more writing time.
I’m under no illusions. At one point I thought I would end this period with a mainly finished first draft, but I don’t think that will happen.
I’ve had up days, days where I have felt productive in all areas of my quiet life, then there have been days where I have barely wanted to leave my bed.

Those days are the days that suck my creative well dry. The days I watch the news and the world gives me nothing to be hopeful about. The days I had that call or message to say a loved one was ill, or had passed away (twice, so far).
Still, I’m just thankful that I am okay, we are all healthy, and that, in itself, is the biggest thing.
I’ll keep trying to write, but I won’t beat myself up if nothing comes. These are crazy times. Messing with our heads.
If I can’t write my own words, I’ll read others. I’ll teach myself new things to make my words, when they do come, better.

But I won’t stop trying to write.


(Oh, and I discovered TikTok! Heaven help us all!)

Author Bio
Ritu Bhathal was born in Birmingham in the mid-1970s to migrant parents, hailing from Kenya but with Indian origin. This colourful background has been a constant source of inspiration to her. From childhood, she always enjoyed reading. This love of books is credited to her mother. The joy of reading spurred her on to become creative in her writing, from fiction to poetry. Winning little writing competitions at school and locally encouraged her to continue writing.

As a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and teacher, she has drawn on inspiration from many avenues to create the poems that she writes. A qualified teacher, having studied at Kingston University, she now deals with classes of children as a sideline to her writing!

Ritu also writes a blog, www.butismileanyway.com, a mixture of life and creativity, thoughts and opinions, which was awarded first place in the Best Overall Blog Category at the 2017 Annual Bloggers Bash Awards, and Best Book Blog in 2019.Ritu is happily married and living in Kent, with her Hubby Dearest, and two children, not forgetting the fur baby Sonu Singh.

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/ritubhathal
And by clicking the following link, you get to my author profile on Amazon: Author.to/RituBhathal
Buying Link: myBook.to/PoeticRITUals


Buying Link: http://getbook.at/MarriageUnarranged

And my review of Ritu’s book: https://mjmallon.com/2020/02/09/book-review-marriage-unarranged-ritu-bhathal-arc-review/

And my review of Poetic Rituals: https://mjmallon.com/2017/10/26/my-review-of-poetic-rituals-by-ritu-bhathal/

Social Media Profiles
Blog Website: http://www.butismileanyway.com
Author Website: http://www.ritubhathal.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/RituBhathal
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ritubhathalwrites/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/butismileanyway/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RituBhathal/
Pinterest: https://uk.pinterest.com/bhathalpadhaal/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/56854412-ritu-bhathal
Mix: https://mix.com/butismileanyway
Tumblr: https://www.tumblr.com/blog/ritusmiles
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ritu-bhathal-48941648/
Bloglovin: https://www.bloglovin.com/@ritubhathalpadhaal

Ritu has been a great blogging/author friend. Like me Ritu believes in Team Work. It’s great when writers and creative souls come together to try to help each other.

We both support each other with book launches and the like because that is what friends are for.

Isolation for Writers – Guest post: Tracie Barton-Barrett #COV1D19 #Isolation #Writers #Grieving

Photo by Egor Kamelev from Pexels

Welcome to author and counsellor Tracie Barton-Barrett, my next guest on my new feature – isolation for writers, creatives, artists and book bloggers.

As a counselor, Tracie wanted to give back and help others during this time. So, she wrote an article/blog entitled,

“We Are All Grieving,”  https://weareallgrieving.blogspot.com/

This is her article which I am sharing here:

We’re All Grieving–Support During This Uncertain Time

Welcome to 2020. We’re living in a time where there is uncertainty (which our brain dislikes), fear, mounting death and illness, lack of supplies, 24/7 social/news, and isolation, all to fight an invisible foe.
If you wanted to create a perfect storm, we’re living it.
So, yeah, it’s OK to grieve.
We’re all grieving something now…
…the loss of a job, financial security, loss of a family member due to the virus, loss of freedom to go where you want to go, when you want to go, the loss of being at home without every single family member there, loss of that trip you were going to go on, the inability to visit a loved one in the hospital, the inability to have neighbors, friends or family over, the loss of identity or purpose. 
Or, the issues you were dealing with before all of this came crashing down.
The list goes on. Although we’re all “in the same boat,” there are different areas and points of view from that boat.

This situation easily calls forth the entire spectrum and expression of human emotion. 


It’s OK if in the middle of the day, or late at night, you suddenly feel heart-broken, overwhelmed, or frustrated, or livid, and just want a hug.  As mammals, the sense of touch is extremely important, particularly to babies.

Same holds true for adults.
–Whatever feelings come up, see if you can really unpack them and get the core of them. If you’re “angry,” try and see if you can get as specific as possible. Does it remind you of any other times in your life you’re reliving from your past? This is a perfect time to dig deeper to prevent out of control emotional eating, drinking, drug use, porn, or anything else that is used as self-medication. My concern is the number of divorces, domestic violence incidents, and suicides that could increase. 
–If possible, try to limit the amount of social media and news you allow in. The kicker is that we need to be connected and a need to belong, which social media can provide. However, it can easily suck us down rabbit holes. Personally, I continue to walk the line between being informed and getting sucked in. It’s a tight-rope walk and sometimes I fall.
Think of social media/news as a very rich, high caloric dessert.A little bit is OK; too much will make you sick.
–Try to create structure in your life. I prefer the word “rhythm” to “routine,” but whatever works for you, try to find it. Otherwise, the days will just run into each other. If you have kids, they thrive in it, even if they say they don’t. Those boundaries create safety, which is at a premium now.
I’ve found it helpful to have 3 daily intentions:· Get outside and/or walk. Reach out to someone via email, text, phone call, etc. Work on my next novel, FINDING HER SPIRIT
–If you’re a position to do it, I also encourage you to use this time to do things that you normally wouldn’t have time for. Perhaps set a bigger intention…”By the end of April, I will…”
But, DO NOT JUDGE YOURSELF if you’re not there. Or, you don’t get there. Or, you find that you need to distract yourself by binging on that show. Or, it’s 5:00pm and you haven’t done squat. That’s OK. 
–Emotional/spiritual health needs to be fostered, too. Meditation, prayer, watching masses or church services online. Reaching out to others, particularly those who are alone, is important. If we don’t find the need for connection in healthy ways, we’ll find it in unhealthy ways. Channeling your energy into making masks, organizing Zoom gatherings, community virtual food drivers, anything to help others is a way to get out of our heads. Sometimes literally just texting someone and saying you’re thinking about them is enough.  
–Staying physically healthy is also important. Our bodies are meant to move, and if we’re dormant too long, it begin to affect us emotionally. Also, if you can get outside, even better. Nature and her beauty is so healing. Kids especially benefit from it.
–If you can, find some fun.

Whatever that looks like for you. I love to sing, dance, and play piano. I also make sure to try to laugh every day, too. Fortunately, there are so many creative videos and memes out there that help. My two cats and husband are fodder, as well. 


–Take this time to learn a new skill, language, or further develop one you already have. Or, clean out that basement or junk drawer that’s been calling your name. 
Again, be gentle with yourself if the only thing you can do is get up and maybe shower. Maybe not even that. 
In the same way with grief and/or trauma, not everyone is at the same place at the same time. The trick is to stagger our moments and meltdowns, so we can be there for each other when we fall. It’s happened to me when I had a bad day, people were there for me. 
Who knows what the next normal will look like? No one really knows. We’re all co-creating this as we go along. This experience brings out what it really means to be human, as the stories of kindness, compassion, and altruism are off the charts. My heart grows in leaps and bounds. My deepest thanks to the medical community, retail workers, truckers, any delivery workers for are keeping us afloat during this time.
I picture it as we’re all walking along a path. Sometimes one of us stumbles but doesn’t fall. There will be times, however, when we really do fall. Then, we will be there to lift each other up.
From six or more feet away, of course. 😊

Tracie Barton-Barrett, MS, NCC, LPC http://www.TracieBartonBarrett.com
TBartonBarrett@gmail.com www.FaceBook.com/TBartonBarrett Author of BURIED DEEP IN OUR HEARTS

Here is the link to my novel, BURIED DEEP IN OUR HEARTS, https://www.amazon.com/Buried-Deep-Hearts-Tracie-Barton-Barrett-ebook/dp/B01EARJ59A/   

Available on Kindle, paperback and now Audible. 

Thank you so much to Tracie for being my guest and offering such invaluable advice.

Social Media Links:

Website: www.TracieBartonBarrett.com

FaceBook:  https://www.facebook.com/TBartonBarrett 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AnimalsConnect

COVID19 Diaries: #Writing #Poetry #Editing #Motivation #Shadorma #Book #Review #Family

Photo by Chimene Gaspar from Pexels

1st May 2020

News to catch up on from the first day of May.

What’s been happening? Much of the same, sadly. But, we have now apparently passed the peak and deaths should now be on the decline.

Let’s hope so.

In the last few days Natasha and I have kept up with our keep fit routine with a Salsa Type dance workout in the garden and a yoga one too. Both were such fun! I’d love to do them again.

Good news yesterday – mum got her mince! She was missing some from her recent food box. This time she was able to make beefburgers.

And cheery news! A new review for Mr Sagittarius from Author Adele Marie Park:

5.0 out of 5 stars A poetic journey through life Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 28 April 2020 Verified Purchase Shaped with poems and beautiful pictures this book is a must-read and keep. This novel is the kind you will go back to again and again to dip into and read your favourites. A fantastic book, the author has delivered with engaging characters and beautiful prose. Well done.

Available for free on kindle unlimited and to buy in kindle and paperback: http://mybook.to/MrSagittarius

I tuned into Heena Rathore Pardesi’s webinar yesterday. She was sharing creative writing tips. Here’s the link to the Facebook Live link:

It inspired me – which is just what I need right now as my eldest daughter has finished beta editing the second book in my Curse of Time series. Even so, I am struggling with motivation. Fortunately, some of Heena’s ideas really spoke to me. Particularly, the one about trying new fonts , using a notebook, or other inspiring ways to motivate yourself. This is particularly true if like me you have a huge, daunting project ahead of you. The second in a series is so hard to write.

Heena’s blog links:

https://crazycatwriter.com/blog/

https://thereadingbud.com/

I thought that perhaps I should find a writing quote to inspire me before I start editing. I opened my little book which is called Inspiration For Writers and opened it at a random page.

This is what greeted me:;

I am only really alive when I am writing – Tennessee Williams.

Wow, that quote couldn’t be more appropriate!

Who did I feature next in my Isolation for Writers Series?

Fiona Philips: https://mjmallon.com/2020/05/01/isolation-for-writers-guest-post-fiona-phillips-coronavirus-covid19-isolation-writers/

In her words Fiona is: ‘an author, playwright and copywriter living in North Wales, just over the border from Chester. For years I worked in an office environment until motherhood and my husband’s career moves tugged me into self-employment, dumped me onto a new creative path, and turned my dream career into a reality. My debut fantasy novel, Haven Wakes, was published by Burning Chair in 2019 and I’m currently working on the follow-up, as yet untitled novel due to be published in 2020.’

2nd May

Today, would have been Deepings Literary Festival Read Dating event. Sadly, it was cancelled due to Coronavirus. Linda Hill kindly shared a blog post about all the authors who would have attended this event, including yours truly.

https://lindasbookbag.com/2020/05/02/not-the-deepings-literary-festival-read-dating-2nd-may-2020/

That was really thoughtful of her.

I shared a poem for Colleen’s poetry challenge.

https://mjmallon.com/2020/05/01/colleens-2020-weekly-tanka-tuesday-poetry-challenge-no-175-themeprompt-shadorma-covid19-coronavirus/

I wrote two Shadorma inspired by our experience during COVID19. They reflect my growing sense of sadness and unease at the magnitude of deaths throughout the world. It’s so sad and frightening. In the UK alone over 26,000 people have died to date. And all the while here in Cambridge the sun has shone practically every single day of Lockdown. A couple days ago, we had some rain and even a short burst of thunder and lightning. And yet, immediately the sun returned.

How strange. Life goes on, sunshine, showers and thunderstorms but such tragedy remains.

Every now and then Gina pops downstairs to ask me to take her photo for her Instagram page. Today, we did a photo shoot with her new ponytail hair piece! It turned out great, will share that soon.

We went for a walk with hubby and Tasha down by the river in the evening. A car speeded past then turned tail and went past us again. Bit strange, we were glad to have a 6 foot bloke with us – hubby! Two trains sped past too. We talked about how we should walk in nature more often. There were such beautiful views. But I didn’t bring my camera, or phone. Sometimes, it is nice just to experience life without any interruptions.

On the way back, bats were following us down the pathway. Tasha and I were screeching, hubby didn’t blink an eyelid. He didn’t mind them. In fact, I swear he likes them!

We survived. Lol.

Hope you are surviving lockdown too.

The Magic of Trees – Paperbark Maple – #SpiritualSisters #Magical #Trees #MagicalConnections #Botanical #Gardens

Prior to COVID19 I would often take a walk in Cambridge Botanical Gardens. I’d linger amongst nature, enjoying every aspect of the gardens, particularly the spectacular beauty of trees. There are many champion trees which impress the observer with their massive height, and girth. But, on one particular occasion a smaller tree caught my attention and surprised me with its undeniably magical quality!

Yes, the paperbark maple Acer griseum caught my eye – it is such a graceful tree. Its bark peels like paper to reveal fresh, bright bark, peeling away layers of imagination to reveal new possibilities…

Of course, such a tree would appeal to an author!

This tree is so amazing it is as if it is forever telling a new story like a youth never growing old. In contrast, I believe the undersides of its leaves are a grey colour, showing two sides to its wonderment.

It is native to China and in winter it adds to the diversity of winter beauty with its rustic-coloured bark. In the autumn, it has deep scarlet or burnt orange leaves.

Its bark curls adding an extra dimension to its magical, eye-catching nature.

I think you will agree it is an amazing tree! Yes, I do love trees…

I hope you might enjoy my previous posts about the magic of trees. Here they are in case you’ve missed them:

https://mjmallon.com/2020/04/28/magic-of-trees-purpurea-spiritualsisters-trees-magicalconnections-nature/

https://mjmallon.com/2020/04/25/magic-of-trees-dawn-redwood-magical-connections-spiritualsisters-trees-magic-nature-lockdown-reading-books/

https://mjmallon.com/2020/02/24/the-magic-of-trees-the-weeping-willow-spiritualsisters-sistersofthefey/

My Tanka poem about the Golden Willow Tree:

https://mjmallon.com/2019/07/12/colleens-2019-weekly-tanka-tuesday-poetry-challenge-no-135/

 

You might like a magical, uplifting compilation of poetry, prose and photography…

Available for free on kindle unlimited and to buy in kindle and paperback: http://mybook.to/MrSagittarius

Mr. Sagittarius is a collection of poetry, prose and photographic images inspired by the botanical gardens in Cambridge. Photography is in the genes! Both my uncle and grandfather were photographers. My grandfather A.G. Ingram was originally with the photography company Ingram, Gordon & Co in Haddington up until the mid thirties.  Then he ventured on his own to form the Scottish Pictorial Press in Edinburgh supplying photos to the press.  When war broke out Scottish Pictorial Press became defunct.  After the war he started AG Ingram Ltd, Commercial Photographers, at 3 successive locations in Edinburgh, Scotland.

I’m thrilled to announce I am included amongst some wonderful poets in Colleen Chesebro’s poetry book store: https://colleenchesebro.com/poetry-books-for-sale/

Early reviews: 5 stars from Ritu Bhathal https://butismileanyway.com/2020/02/29/february-2020-books-amreading/

And 5 star review from Colleen Chesebro: February 2020 Books #AmReading

Another 5 star review from Sally Cronin: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2020/03/04/smorgasbord-book-reviews-poetry-and-prose-mr-sagittarius-by-m-j-mallon/

5 Star review from D.G. Kaye author https://dgkayewriter.com/sunday-book-review-marjorie-mallons-mr-sagittarius-poetry/

The Spiritual Sisters are:

Adele Marie Park Author & Personal Blog: Firefly465

Colleen M. Chesebro Author & Personal Blog: Word Craft ~ Prose & Poetry colleenchesebro.com

Annette Rochelle Aben Author & Personal Blog: Annette Rochelle Aben

Debby Gies (aka, D. G. Kaye) Author & Personal Blog: D. G. Kaye, Writer

Marjorie (MJ) Mallon YA/Paranormal Author: mjmallon.com

Collaborative Grouphttps://www.facebook.com/pg/5SpiritualSisters/

COVID Diaries: 26th April – 30th April #Coronavirus #Thoughts #Fears #Anxiety #Writing #Blogging #Family #Life

26th April 2020

Today, I decided to approach Spillwords to see if they would publish one of my poems. I decided upon the dragonfly as it is one of my favourite poems/photos from my poetry, prose and photography collection Mr. Sagittarius. I didn’t realise that Spillwords don’t take images with writing – so I spent a good while making the following graphic on Canva which I’ll have to use elsewhere

Today, I featured Willow with a Coronavirus poem and a James Blunt song. Very nice.

https://mjmallon.com/2020/04/26/isolation-for-writers-guest-post-willow-willers-cov1d19-isolation-writers-poetry/

The Coronavirus series continues to be popular.

Hubby has been building garden chairs and I have been washing windows… Our weather during Lockdown has been really good but apparently according to Gina it is about to deteriorate.

The girls and I did an exercise online class in the afternoon around 2pm but it was too hot and on top of that the area we were exercising in seems to have suddenly become infested with ants. At one point Gina shouted, “I’ve got ants in my hair!”  Which made me feel very itchy. Natasha was also scratching and I was slipping everywhere as there are only two exercise mats – I used an old blanket which wasn’t much use.

So not exactly the best exercise session that we’ve done. It was comical though!

27th April 2020

I featured Sharon Marchisello on my writers in isolation series on my blog today. https://mjmallon.com/2020/04/27/isolation-for-writers-guest-post-sharon-marchisello-coronavirus-covid19-writers-isolation/

I didn’t take part in Lizzie Chantree’s writers sprint this morning, (I normally do,) as it clashed with the timing of Natasha’s PT session with me! And somehow I didn’t feel in the mood today. Monday’s seem to be the same whether you’re working. or not. And today I feel a bit low.

Here’s the link to Lizzie’s Book Group for writers sprints, tips, and lots more: https://www.facebook.com/groups/647115202160536/

I did an exercise session with Natasha in the morning. It was a really tough one I thought I was going to pass out. But I completed it.

We went for a walk in the country park in the afternoon. Kept seeing robins everywhere – a good luck omen perhaps?  The ducks were playful too. One came straight at us as if it was showing off and then whizzed across the lake, its mate came to join him but he was having none of that, he zoomed away.

We chatted to my mum on the phone she  seems down at the moment as does Gina. This protracted length of time cooped up together is getting to all of us.

I saw a black crow picking food from a bird table on the way home – they always give me the creeps – so black and menacing looking, before and during Coronavirus I keep seeing them. This is the third one I’ve seen. So strange. I hope it is not a bad omen. It’s a day of conflicting emotions, both good and bad.

I also saw my friend Mary Enna and Godric with their beautiful husky dog out for a walk. It has the most amazing blue eyes. We stopped for a while – them on one side of the road – and us on the other. We talked about bread making, she suggested I make sourdough loaf which doesn’t need yeast. Like the sound of that – may try it this coming weekend.

In the evening we had a family tiff in the kitchen. Kitchens seem to be the prime area for disputes to arise. The kitchen is the undisputed danger zone. Hubby always pokes his nose in the cooking even if he isn’t eating with us. (Sometimes he likes to cook his own food.) This interference in the food prep caused a stroppy atmosphere and then hubby went outside for a time, sat in a chair by the patio and pulled his hood over his face to hide from us all.  Gina saw her opportunity – she took his photo! When he looked up he said “I hope no one took my photo!

Of course not… If you believe that, you believe anything!

I wish I could escape and go to see my parents in Edinburgh… This is beginning to get to me. I am missing them so much. The conversation I had with mum today wasn’t right. She’d talked to my eldest daughter Tasha first, they’d chatted and chatted. No problem. But as soon as I spoke to her everything changed. Her voice sounded disjointed like she wasn’t forming her words properly. Mumbling. I pressed the phone closer to my ear, my shoulders tightening.  “Mum, you sound  strange. Are you okay?!” She spoke up a bit, “I’m lying on the bed and the phone’s a bit far away.” I acknowledge the ridiculousness of my fear, mum’s phone is simply too far away from her as she speaks. Her voice becomes clearer; the mumbling words are gone. “Is that better?” she asks. “Yes, I can hear you now,” I reply. The familiar feeling of panic pressing on my ribcage disappears for a moment. I realise I’ve been holding my breath. I need to take another calming breath to steady myself. And then she admits she’s terrified of catching this horrible illness. I can hear her fear and that frightens me. I imagine her on her bed, clutching the duvet towards her, her eyes welling with tears moistening the fabric. I want to hug her and be there for her. I should be there for her. She says, “I don’t want to end up alone and on one of those bloody ventilators, and neither does your dad.”

Her words are powerful, I can hear them so clearly. What can I say? It breaks my heart that she is saying this to me.

I don’t respond but my inner voice yells: I hate you virus. I feel the unspoken words filling a vast space which tightens in my gut.

We continue to talk about symptoms, as if we can protect ourselves, if we are knowledgeable enough. The latest indicator is shivering, she tells me. I already know this, I am well informed. We’ve both had the shivers recently but who knows whether it’s fear that’s making us shiver? My daughter asks for her phone back, perhaps her minutes are running out, she appears oblivious to my dread of hanging up.  Her youthfulness makes her less astute. At last, Mum and I talk about Skyping at the weekend, an obvious preliminary to saying Goodbye.

 Once I’m home I replay the conversation over in my mind and realise I missed something. We called mum in the afternoon and she never naps during the day. Is she ill? Is she alright? Was she shivering now?

This is COVID19 worry; It is relentless. I doubt I will ever forget how it feels.

It brings guilt too. Why didn’t I Skype her yesterday? It has a voice, this virus it’s accusatory.

There will be more to come in the diaries soon. I’m a bit behind with them.

Hope you are all keeping well and safe.

A new review for Mr. Sagittarius:

Adele Park 5.0 out of 5 stars A poetic journey through life Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 28 April 2020 Verified Purchase Shaped with poems and beautiful pictures this book is a must-read and keep. This novel is the kind you will go back to again and again to dip into and read your favourites. A fantastic book, the author has delivered with engaging characters and beautiful prose. Well done.

And a fairly new review for The Curse of Time:


Eloise Sousa‘s review Apr 13, 2020
really liked it
YA Dark Fantasy that will keep you riveted

A fascinating twist of events shakes Amelina’s world, awakening her to the power of crystals and her family’s legacy.
An enjoyable read with well-written characters who keep you on your toes as they drive the action forward.

Available for free on kindle unlimited and to buy in kindle and paperback: http://mybook.to/MrSagittarius

Buy Book: myBook.to/TheCurseofTime

 

Isolation for Writers: Chantelle Atkins #Isolation #Writers #COVID19 #YA #Author

Welcome to Chantelle Atkins, my next guest on my new feature – Isolation for Writers. How do writers, creatives, artists and bookish souls cope with isolation? Is their capacity to cope different from the rest of the population? It’s an interesting question and one that fascinates me.

How is Chantelle Atkins coping with this enforced isolation?

Here is her answer:

What’s Changed For Me?
Nothing and Everything

The outbreak of Covid19 and the lockdown that followed has had a huge impact on us all, but as a writer, I feel in a unique position to observe, absorb and reflect on the changes for me personally and on the society around me.


What’s changed for me? Nothing and everything and believe me, that’s as confusing as it sounds. The confusion and anxiety tend to hit me hard in the evening, when my parenting duties are over, and I sit down to write. I’m not ashamed to admit I am often now writing through fits of tears. It’s just such a strange, sad, scary, hopeful and heroic time. You can’t help but be affected by it.


On the surface, lots has changed for me. I have four children aged between 5 and 17 and they were previously all in full-time education. I run a writing-based business called Chasing Driftwood Writing Group and my time is normally spent running after school writing clubs, writing clubs for home educated children and writing clubs for adults. 2020 started off so well for me, with the addition of three new clubs. I really felt like my little business was growing and succeeding.


When the schools closed, so did the libraries, community halls and museums and just like that, I had no work and no income. Luckily for me, my husband had just had a pay rise that almost covered this loss, so we didn’t panic. He works for Iceland and although I worry every day about the risk he is taking being there, I am also extremely grateful that we still have an income and access to food.


I’m now home-schooling my five-year-old son, which isn’t too much of a challenge as I used to be a childminder and I work with children at my clubs. In fact, I’ve been really enjoying it. My older children see to themselves and they’ve been brilliant at playing with their little brother when they take breaks between lessons. We are also lucky to live in a semi-rural location with a huge garden, ducks and chickens and other animals, plus a vegetable plot to keep us all busy. We are fortunate, and I do not take that for granted.


I feel the fear, like all of us. My 17-year-old daughter has just got a job with her dad at Iceland, and although I am proud of her I am also terrified for her. I try to avoid the news in the day and my little boy is a wonderful distraction and a shining light for me daily. His adaptability has inspired us all. But it hits me in the evening, and I can’t help sit and consider everything that has changed and wonder when normality will return.


The things is, I’m not sure how much of the ‘normal’ I want to return. I love schooling my little one and although I think school can provide a better and more rounded education than me, I am going to miss him like hell when this is over. I miss my clubs and the children and adults I work with. I keep meaning to set up online content for them or engage with them via Skype or Zoom but I’ve had to admit at the moment I just don’t have the emotional energy for it by the time my day is over. I don’t miss the stressful day-to-day running around. I spent most of my earnings on petrol I think as we only have one car, so I was pretty much running everyone everywhere all the time. I don’t miss traffic jams and it’s so peaceful now where we
live. And I don’t really miss other people. I’m an introvert who loves to be alone. In fact, I need to be alone to refuel, so lockdown is not a challenge for me the way it is for more sociable people. I’m actually a little bit worried about how I will cope adjusting back to ‘normal’ again. I also think the world was heading in a worrying direction and I really hope that this ‘pause’ in proceedings will make us all think about the kind of society we want when it is all over.


As for writing? There is a bit less time as the kids are here in the day, but most of my writing took place in the evenings anyway and now that I don’t have clubs to prepare for, I’m able to get plenty done. I am tired though as I spend a lot of time attacking my garden! I’m probably blogging more than usual, as I keep thinking about lockdown related things to talk about. I find this as therapeutic and hopeful as gardening.


So, it’s weird. I’m still doing all the things I’ve always done, all the things I love. I’m with my kids and my animals. I’m writing and reading and listening to music. I’m gardening and growing things and spending as much time outdoors as I can. Normal, everyday stress and strain has been replaced with a darker, spikier edge of fear that only comes out at night. I the lockdown and love lockdown. I want normality back and I fear it returning. I’m a very confused writer, but that is probably also normal for me.


Author bio:


Chantelle Atkins was born and raised in Dorset, England and still resides there now with her husband, four children and multiple pets. She is addicted to reading, writing and music and writes for both the young adult and adult genres. Her fiction is described as gritty, edgy and compelling.


Her debut Young Adult novel The Mess Of Me deals with eating disorders, self-harm, fractured families and first love. Her second novel, The Boy With The Thorn In His Side follows the musical journey of a young boy attempting to escape his brutal home life and has now been developed into a 6 book series. She is also the author of This Is Nowhere and award-winning dystopian, The Tree Of Rebels, plus a collection of short stories related to her novels called Bird People and Other Stories.
The award-winning Elliot Pie’s Guide To Human Nature was released through Pict Publishing in October 2018. YA novel A Song For Bill Robinson was released in December 2019 and is the first in a trilogy. Chantelle has had multiple articles about writing published by Author’s Publish magazine.


Links:
Website/blog : https://chantelleatkins.com/
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/chantelleatkinswriter
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Chanatkins
Pinterest: https://uk.pinterest.com/chantelleatkins/
Email Newsletter Sign Up: http://eepurl.com/bVVbGD
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/chantelleatkinswriter/

Well it’s been lovely to have Chantelle as my guest – another YA author! Yay… Good to know – and we both have written about self-harm – how’s that for a coincidence?

I’m so glad I started these guest author posts it has introduced me to a lot of fascinating authors.

Thanks for being my guest Chantelle.

Sunday Book Review, Mr. Sagittarius – Prose and Poetry by MJ Mallon

Sunday Book Review features a whimsical tale – Mr. Sagittarius by Marjorie Mallon Prose and Poetry

Source: Sunday Book Review, Mr. Sagittarius – Prose and Poetry by MJ Mallon

Isolation For Writers: Guest Author – Jeannie Wycherley #Guest #Author #Isolation #Collaboration #Thoughts #Family #COV19

Photo by Bruno Scramgnon from Pexels

It gives me great pleasure to introduce you to my next guest author Jeannie Wycherley – in my Isolation series in the time of COV19 – I discovered Jeannie via my Facebook post on Book Connectors asking if group members would be interested in writing a post about Isolation during Coronavirus.

Jeannie was one of several who were interested in joining in. She has a fascinating tale to tell.

Welcome Jeannie…

How are coping with this enforced isolation?

Collaboration in the time of Coronavirus Jeannie Wycherley

I was travelling in Sri Lanka when I first heard the word ‘coronavirus’. That probably makes it sound like I’m some sort of global jetsetter, and to be honest, I wish I was. But in truth, my husband and I run a small seaside gift shop in a small town in the south west of England and this was our first holiday in five years. We both have to supplement our income from the shop in other ways. He does so from exam marking (we’re both ex-lecturers) and I do so from my writing.

I don’t think I was concerned at first. I wasn’t paying much attention to the news in any case. But then we stayed in a gorgeous hotel near Dambulla over Chinese New Year and it seemed really odd to see all the Chinese tourists wearing face masks. Fast forward two weeks and I flew home with a scratchy throat. Just 48 hours later I had a respiratory illness that knocked me for six.

By then Coronavirus was becoming more newsworthy. I still don’t know what I had, but I knew enough about the virus that I self-isolated, ‘just in case’, for nearly three weeks. Unable to shake it off, I chose not to visit my parents at all, until suddenly, people over seventy were being asked to self-isolate and I’d lost my chance.

We kept our shop open through the first two weeks of March but increasingly became aware we were fighting a losing battle. Nobody wanted to shop, the streets were deserted, and we felt increasingly uneasy—wary of people ‘touching’ things or coming too close. On the 18 th March we closed our doors. The government announced the lockdown the next day.

I had a really bad few days from the 19 th March. Extreme anxiety, feeling weepy, experiencing nightmares, struggling to breathe at times. I tried to write—in fact I needed to write because I had a pre-order set up on my next Wonky Inn book—but I struggled to focus for longer than a few minutes. With the shop closed, I suddenly had the equivalent to three extra days to write in and be more productive. Instead of that, I found myself constantly checking social media and the news websites, driving myself crazy.

What made it worse, for me, was fear for my elderly parents. My Mum, 74, has been brilliant and remained indoors, crafting and doing puzzles, but my Dad, 75, is a different story. An ex Royal Marine, and prison education manager, he’s been around the block and he gets restless. He has lots of interests though, and one of those is writing although he’s never been published.

It came about that I had picked up a pre-made book cover, a fun science fiction. I spotted it in a sale; it made me chuckle and I parted with some cash. I don’t write sci-fi. I don’t even read a lot of modern sci-fi although I’ve read lots of ‘classics’ in the genre. But I absolutely love sci-fi movies so I’m aware of the tropes. My Dad loves all sci-fi. He grew up with it. When I was a kid and we went on holiday, he would invariably be reading sci-fi books on the beach.

I write horror and paranormal cozies. It occurred to me that a cozy sci-fi would be a lot of fun and there would be some crossover with my fans and I might pick up some new ones. The thing was, I was still struggling to focus enough to finish Wonky Inn Book 9: A Gaggle of Ghastly Grandmamas as well as editing an epic Victorian gothic ghost story, The Municipality of Lost Souls, so where did I think I was going to get time to write anything else?

Link for A Gaggle of Ghastly Grandmamas: http://mybook.to/WW9

At that stage I asked my Dad if he fancied collaborating and I sent him the cover. He loved it and bounced back with an idea. I suggested he create a plot and he came up with just over half (he admits he’s useless at endings). Now, I cannot ‘pants’ to save my life, so I took his plot and painstakingly broke it down into scenes, fleshed it out and finished it off. Between us we tweaked it and divvied out who was writing what and off we went.

Or rather off he went! Like a rocket. This is a man who struggled to write 300 words per day. Now I can’t stop him. I juggle my editing of Lost Souls and Wonky 9, with writing my scenes and editing what he’s written so that I can oversee a consistent voice throughout the story. It’s hard to keep up with him! The side effect is that I’ve had to focus because I’m doing so much. It will pay off in the long run.

And do you know? We’re producing a great little sci-fi story set on Dartmoor here in Devon, with a nod to H G Wells and those wonderful old 1950s serials like Quatermass and the Pit, but with a little humour and some quirky characters. We use Google Docs so that we can both see what the other is doing, and we catch up every few days so I can check that’s he’s happy and iron out any plot holes that have come up. It’s a fun project that we will both be proud of. When we’re both happy with it, I’ll send it to my editor. At some stage later this year, I am confident we can launch our collaboration and be justifiably proud of it.

If nothing else, this pandemic will have allowed us to work together in a way we might never have considered doing before. I’ll always be grateful for that, and for my parents remaining indoors and staying safe.

Link to my amazon page: http://author.to/jeanniewycherley

Website: http://jeanniewycherley.co.uk

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Thecushionlady

Bio

Jeannie Wycherley is a genre-hopping introvert and word witch living somewhere between the forest and the sea in East Devon, UK. She is the author of Crone (2017), Beyond the Veil (2018), the Spellbound Hound books (2020), and the Amazon bestselling Wonky Inn series. She draws literary inspiration from the landscape … and cake.

Well, that was a fascinating post from Jeannie. I love how she is collaborating with her dad. There are positives that we can take out of this awful experience and it gives me great joy to share them.

Coping with anxiety and stress.

Hopes for the future during these strange times.

If you are interested in taking part in this new feature on my blog please email me on: marjma2014@gmail.com, or comment below.

Please share any photos you would like, thoughts, reflections, and of course your book links, book descriptions/photos, author bios and the like. All welcome.

Together we are stronger. Stay safe and well.

Colleen’s 2020 Weekly #Tanka Tuesday #Poetry Challenge No. 175, #ThemePrompt #Shadorma #COVID19 #Coronavirus

This month’s theme is:

“The Day After”

Elizabeth, from Tea and Paper, chose the theme.

My two Shadorma below are inspired by our current situation during this COVID19 crisis. They reflects my growing sense of sadness and unease at the magnitude of deaths throughout the world. It’s so sad and frightening. In the UK alone over 26,000 people have died to date.

And all the while here in Cambridge the sun has shone practically every single day of Lockdown. A couple days ago, we had some rain and even a short burst of thunder and lightning. And yet, immediately the sun returned.

How strange.

Life goes on, sunshine, showers and thunderstorms but such tragedy remains.

The sun shone

Enticing us all

To play out

With old friends

The rain cried behind the sun

Days after Lockdown

***

Life goes on

Sunshine, and showers

Cloudbursts weep

Death toll peaks

My heart screams behind thunder

I hate you virus.

© M J Mallon

To join in with Colleen’s poetry challenge follow the link: https://colleenchesebro.com/2020/04/28/colleens-2020-weekly-tanka-tuesday-poetry-challenge-no-175-themeprompt/

Sorry this week’s poem is a sad one. Sometimes emotions are better released than locked away.

My latest release, an uplifting collection of poetry, prose and photography to cheer you up during Lockdown.

Some good news – I have a new 5 star review – for Mr. Sagittarius via author Adele Marie Park:

Adele Park 5.0 out of 5 stars A poetic journey through life Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 28 April 2020 Verified Purchase Shaped with poems and beautiful pictures this book is a must-read and keep. This novel is the kind you will go back to again and again to dip into and read your favourites. A fantastic book, the author has delivered with engaging characters and beautiful prose. Well done.

Available for free on kindle unlimited and to buy in kindle and paperback: http://mybook.to/MrSagittarius

Also, don’t forget my debut novel – A YA fantasy – The Curse of Time Book 1 Bloodstone (Which is recommended for those who like a great story combined with poetry – this novel begins each chapter with a Tanka poem.) If you’ve haven’t read it yet, do check it out, before book two comes out!

I am currently in the throes of editing!

Buy Book: myBook.to/TheCurseofTime

Isolation for Writers: Guest Post – Fiona Phillips #Coronavirus #COVID19 #Isolation #Writers

Photo by Leroy Huckett from Pexels

Welcome Fiona to my Isolation for Writers Series.

How do writers, creatives, artists and bookish souls cope with isolation? Is their capacity to cope different from the rest of the population? It’s an interesting question and one that fascinates me.

How is Fiona coping with this enforced isolation?

BIO

I’m an author, playwright and copywriter living in North Wales, just over the border from Chester. For years I worked in an office environment until motherhood and my husband’s career moves tugged me into self-employment, dumped me onto a new creative path, and turned my dream career into a reality.

My debut fantasy novel, Haven Wakes, was published by Burning Chair in 2019 and I’m currently working on the follow-up, as yet untitled novel due to be published in 2020.

LINKS

Website                                               http://fiphillipswriter.com/

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

Twitter                                                 https://twitter.com/FisWritingHaven

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

Buy my book                                      http://fiphillipswriter.com/books/

Burning Chair Publishing               https://burningchairpublishing.com/

ISOLATION FOR WRITERS

When the announcement was made in the UK that the country would go into lockdown, there was an initial moment of panic – panic buying, panic responses on social media and that feeling of panic in my gut. It was an ‘oh my god’ moment multiplied to the extreme.

Schools and colleges closed, meaning that my two teens were now at home 24/7. Workplaces made the decision to close or arrange for their employees to work remotely. Non-essential shops shut up, well, shop. The country came to an almost standstill.

We held our breath and kept our eyes on the news.

But here’s the weird thing. In a lot of ways, life didn’t actually change for me. I work from home as an author and copywriter. My husband, although employed, works from our home too. Our teens are of an age where they can look after themselves for the most part. The dog still needs walking, which is doable as long as we don’t go near anyone during that walk. Life in lockdown isn’t far from the way it was before.

Want to know what has changed for me as a writer? My energy, motivation and inspiration levels are at an all-time low. I know this is down to the COVID 19 crisis – the anxiety, the loss, the frustration – but those three intrinsically-linked factors have always kept me going as a writer and now, when I need them the most, they’re reluctant to play ball.

So what do I do to cope?

I keep to a routine

If you’re anything like me, life in isolation leads to the days all running into one. Having a routine Monday to Friday gives me a shape to the week.

Mornings are for writing. My teens are in bed. My husband is at his desk upstairs. I take advantage of the peace and quiet and ignore the news and social media for a few hours.

Lunchtime is for catching up with the family, ensuring I eat something reasonably wholesome, and probably putting a wash on the line.

Afternoons are for emails, admin, social media and housework.

The evenings are the time to just be.

I don’t beat myself up

We are living in a time of extreme pressure:

  1. the pressure to play by the lockdown rules
  2. the pressure to not waste the extra time some of us have been given
  3. the pressure to home school
  4. the pressure to work from home
  5. the pressure of knowing we may come into contact with someone who is infected
  6. the pressure of worrying about our loved ones

The last thing any of us should be doing is putting extra pressure on ourselves.

So, one night I don’t cook an evening meal and my teenagers get themselves a pizza pocket from the freezer instead. That’s not going to really harm them.

If I only manage to write 500 words of my work in progress, there’s always tomorrow.

If I have a sleepless night, I can get up a little later or have an afternoon nap.

I’m taking life at the moment with a huge dollop of perspective.

I take plenty of breaks

If you’re anything like me, inspiration often strikes when you’re carrying out the most mundane of tasks, maybe washing up, getting a cup of tea, or taking the dog for a walk.

I’m giving my brain as many chances as possible to bring me fresh inspiration by making sure I take lots of short breaks.

When I walk the dog, I enjoy the peace of a stroll through the trees near my home. I listen to the birds (because with less traffic on the roads I can actually hear the birds now), I enjoy the breeze on my face, and I take my time to watch the skies, whatever the weather.

I throw out a challenge at the beginning of my break – how will my characters get themselves into that much trouble, and more importantly, how will they get themselves out of it? – and wait for the answer to come back to me. It hasn’t failed me so far.

Thank you so much for being my guest Fiona. It is lovely to ‘meet,’ you.

Wishing you health and happiness and many happy writing days.

COVID19 Diaries 22nd April – 25th April #news #author #features #writing #family #tapas #fun

Photo by Sarah Trummer from Pexels

22nd April, 2020

Isolation for Writers

I continue to share my Isolation for Writers posts on my blog. It’s great to feel as if I am doing something to help writers during this crisis. My recent guests have been: Catherine Fearns, who has published three Amazon best-selling crime thrillers with Crooked Cat Books/Darkstroke, and she also writes as a music journalist. https://mjmallon.com/2020/04/22/isolation-for-writers-guest-post-catherine-fearns-crookedcat-crime-thriller-author-isolation-covid19/

What Have I been up to?

I wrote a new poem for my author friend Colleen Chesebro’s poetry challenge. It’s a haiku. You can read it here: https://mjmallon.com/2020/04/23/colleens-2020-weekly-tanka-tuesday-poetry-challenge-no-174-photoprompt-haiga-haiku-tree-nature/

By early afternoon I knew my hubby would be chaffing at the bit if I didn’t do some chores around the house. Window cleaner, that’s my new job role! It pays no cash but keeping my spouse happy counts towards extra brownie points. Of course, I’d much rather be writing… Eldest daughter, Tasha assisted and she’d much rather be reading. Hubby bought a special gizmo to help with the job. A no streak device – I never trust gizmos.

Well, the gizmo worked for a while until it started flashing red – a re-charge. Apparently, the re-charge takes two hours. What to do now… sit in the garden perhaps.

I know what to do… You guessed it… hide from hubby…

23rd Apri, 2020

We did a yoga video in the morning… it was great.

I had this idea to get mum and dad a treat. A delivery of food so they wouldn’t have to go out and brave the shops. What a joke! I ordered from a company … but there was no mince…

How can you make burgers with no mince?

Later on when Mum started cooking she realised the garlic was missing too… But, she also mentioned it was tasty. Hope mum’s delivery next week has some mince… Hello! Hint Hint…

24th April, 2020

Isolation For Writers

Today, I featured Jackie Carriera on my blog: https://mjmallon.com/2020/04/24/isolation-for-writers-guest-post-jackie-carreira-writers-authors-isolation-covid19-coping-advice-inspiring/

Jackie is an award winning author, playwright, world citizen and huge movie fan She is also a very generous lady as she kindly sent me two of her books: The Seventh Train and Sleeping Through War, looking forward to reading these.

What Have I Been Up To?

In the morning I joined in author Lizzie Chantree’s writing sprint at 10.30am (to edit my YA romance.) Lizzie’s supportive Facebook group can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/647115202160536/

In the afternoon I braved the supermarket. I had tapas and cocktail ingredients to buy! Lockdown has it’s positives!

25th April, 2020

The highlight of the day came as my hubby David was washing his car with a jet power washer gadget which I’ve never seen before… When did he buy that? An unexpected visitor – what excitement – arrived at our door. It was Gina’s friend Elise who had popped round with a present to thank Gina for the present she’d had for her birthday! How eccentric to give your friend a present when it’s your birthday. Lockdown does that to people. Sweet. The two of them chatted for a while (at a safe distance,) and then Gina came in carrying her present looking much cheerier for having seen her friend for a while. The gift bag contained a lovely goodie bag full of treats. Lucky girl!

Earlier in the day I emailed my mum who’s getting fed up. She is very active for a 78 year old lady. Apparently, she has been doing Spring cleaning and painting but has now had enough of it. I don’t blame her!

I’m a bit worried about the painting… I hope she hasn’t been climbing up ladders!

The other funny thing about today is I forgot what day it is.

I submitted a 300 word piece to be featured in Writers Write – CoVID-19 Reflections on Quarantine on Saturday 25th and I completely forgot all about it.

Lockdown does that to you, you forget what day of the week it is.

 I’m pleased to say it was accepted for publication, along with several other excellent entries: https://writersuniteweb.wordpress.com/2020/04/25/reflections-on-a-pandemic/

In the evening, we had the tapas meal which was more tricky than I expected as our bottom oven wasn’t working.

It took forever to make all the little bits and pieces. The predominate ingredient seemed to be CHEESE – cheese balls coated in breadcrumbs, melted cheese Camembert (which my daughter Gina spelt Cannon Bear on the shopping list!) I thought that was kinda cute – she has always struggled with spelling being somewhat dyslexic – and Nachos with cheddar cheese. We also gobbled down home made wedges, sweet peppers filled with rice, chorizo and tomatoes, cold meats, sausages, cucumber strips and olives. All mighty tasty. The only slight disaster was the Camembert which imploded in the oven. It must have been those Cammon Bears getting up to mischief! Still we saved what we could, it wasn’t too bad.

I didn’t care too much for the Aperol cocktail concoction that the girls insisted upon but they loved it. We dressed up and took some photos by a flowering plant in our garden. It was a great evening which seems odd considering all that is going on in the world. It seems our only way to cope is to try to fill our days as best we can.

During lockdown it’s the little things that mean so much. Family time is precious.

Before I go, perhaps I might suggest a little Lockdown reading:

My poetry, prose and photography book – Mr. Sagittarius

Available for free on kindle unlimited and to buy in kindle and paperback: http://mybook.to/MrSagittarius

I just discovered a new review, thank you Adele ❤

Adele Park 5.0 out of 5 stars A poetic journey through life Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 28 April 2020 Verified Purchase Shaped with poems and beautiful pictures this book is a must-read and keep. This novel is the kind you will go back to again and again to dip into and read your favourites. A fantastic book, the author has delivered with engaging characters and beautiful prose. Well done.

My YA Fantasy – The Curse of Time Book 1 Bloodstone.

Buy Book: myBook.to/TheCurseofTime

Images of Esme The Mirror Girl and The Creature via Carolina Russo: https://yesterdayafter.com/

You can see the images in full on Carolina’s blog: Characters Illustration – A Collaboration with Author MJ Mallon – 1st Stop Blog Tour! #ABRSC

Isolation for Writers – Guest post: Lynn Fraser #COV1D19 #Isolation #Writers #Anxiety #Concentration #Introspection

Welcome to Lynn Fraser, my next guest on my new feature – Isolation for Writers.

How do writers, creatives, artists and bookish souls cope with isolation? Is their capacity to cope different from the rest of the population? It’s an interesting question and one that fascinates me.

How is Lynn Fraser coping with this enforced isolation?

Huddled in a circle of light I’m Lynn, writer, reader, mum, drinker of tea.

In many ways, my life in lockdown is not so different in its physical aspects to normal life. I work at home, health issues mean I don’t go out often, and me and mine are not the most sociable types. The main difference is in my head. I am more anxious and introspective.

I feel I’ve become like the ancients, huddled with my little family around the fire in a small circle of light. Awareness of the beasts, that paw and roar in the surrounding darkness, is causing heightened anxiety. When Himself goes to do the weekly supermarket shop, I fret while he’s away as though he’s gone off with his spear into the red of tooth and claw wilderness. Life seems fragile. Chaos rules.

The anxiety has affected my concentration. I’m struggling to read, fiction, in particular. I can’t seem to relax sufficiently to allow myself to be lost in story. Instead, I constantly scroll through news and social media for real life stories that, frankly, only heighten my anxiety. My heart races and I wave my flaming stick at the monsters in the dark.

For the first couple of weeks, I was finding it hard to write as well. This has hifted, but the introspection – looking inwards at my fire – has changed what I’m writing.

Firstly, I’m back to random journal writing – random describes the timing and content. I’m taking my pen for a walk and writing, not to record what’s in my head, but to find out what’s in my head. I’m not writing every day, it’s not a scheduled thing, like Morning Pages. I carry around my notebook and pen and write when I feel I need to.

My handwriting is appalling, so I’m not expecting future historians to be turning to me for an account of life in a time of corona. Secondly, I’m finding writing my official work in progress like wading through waist-high treacle. And, worse, it’s sucking me down. This week I reached the point where, without Lassie arriving with help in the form of a horseman in possession of a handy rope to pull me out (I’m thinking Paul Newman in ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’, but I digress – I do that a lot just now), I was pretty sure I was going under. The book I’m supposed to be writing is a sequel to my ‘laugh-out-loud’ story about school gates politics and a mum who will do anything for her kids. The wit is dark (think Fay Weldon) but the emphasis is on humour – and I seem to have lost my sense of humour. (I blame the nightly press conferences from Number 10 and the newspaper headlines and the people dying and the people stockpiling loo roll in garden sheds and the fact that I haven’t had a glass of wine since this whole thing started in case it compromises my immune system and home schooling and Himself’s taste in music and having to wash down my shopping with Zoflora – yeah that’s still on the shelves because why would you want anti-viral cleaner when you can get antibacterial – but, yes, you’ve got it, I digress.) I’m struggling to raise a snark, let alone a full on laugh-out-loud. I’ve lost my comedy mojo.

So, finally (I may digress but I have not totally lost my way), I’m writing something different, differently. I have a story that has been sneaking around the back corridors of my head for a while. It’s about a woman who finds herself and home in the place from which she ran away. It’s about true self and re-learning to trust and believe; it’s introspective. And there are witches. I’m releasing my hold on real,out there life and letting my imagination take control.


Things I miss:
My friends and the accompanying chat, wine/tea (and occasional bad singing)
Tea in a cafe
The sea (trip to the coast in May cancelled)
Having the house to myself
Taking life/flour for granted.
Things I’m grateful for:
My menfolk (and cats) with whom I huddle in the light
The people out there working to keep us safe and take care of us
Social media to keep me connected
My garden and my writing shed
To still be here
The words.

If you can still accept distraction, my novel is called ‘The Busy Mum’s Guide To Getting Away With It’, it’s digitally published by Orion and you can find it on Amazon, currently at the bargain price of 99p. https://amzn.to/2Y4B7ZB

You can find me on Twitter as @LynnAFraser and on Instagram (expect cat pictures) as @lynnfraserwriter.

It’s been lovely getting to know you Lynn. Thank you so much for being my guest on this new series. Witch stories… that really got my attention, as did The Busy Mum’s Guide To Getting Away With It! What a title…

Wishing you happy writing days, health and happiness.

Magic of Trees: Purpurea – #SpiritualSisters – #Trees #MagicalConnections #Nature

In my last Magic of Trees post I introduced you to The Dawn Redwood: https://mjmallon.com/2020/04/25/magic-of-trees-dawn-redwood-magical-connections-spiritualsisters-trees-magic-nature-lockdown-reading-books/

Today come and join me, take a seat on the tiny bench and let’s wander in the Cambridge University Botanic Garden…

The gardens are home to one of the most magnificent tree collections in the East of England. I am most fortunate to be able to spend time there during my lunch breaks from work, (except now we are on Lockdown in Cambridge.)

I would like to share with you a Champion Tree of Britain and Ireland.

(Owen 2003) lists Cambridge University Botanic Garden amongst the top 15 gardens in Britain and Ireland with 21 champions and I have a treat for you.

 

Meet… 20190121_134842 (2)

Catalpa erubescens Carrie`re ‘Purpurea’ (Bignoniaceae). 

The above photo gives you some indication of this trees mighty bark.

This magnificent tree is situated in the Rock Garden.

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If you stand under it’s branches it becomes eerie and imposing …. Giving a sense of its mysterious darkness…

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From a distance you are struck by its cheeky, twisty bark – (its light side) –  that  dances and twirls in unity with the branches above.

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Trees truly have a remarkable energy. A short spell spent with them during my busy day helps me to relax and recharge for the rest of the day.

A fascinating article about trees: The Guardian ‘Places of sanctuary, opportunity, menace and death.’

In the meantime remember to visit a forest, (lockdown permitting!) spend time in your garden, and hug a tree for me! 

Do comment below about any nature walks you have enjoyed recently.

A reading suggestion… I hope you might like it:

Mr. Sagittarius is a collection of poetry, prose and photographic images inspired by the botanical gardens in Cambridge. Photography is in the genes! Both my uncle and grandfather were photographers. My grandfather A.G. Ingram was originally with the photography company Ingram, Gordon & Co in Haddington up until the mid thirties.  Then he ventured on his own to form the Scottish Pictorial Press in Edinburgh supplying photos to the press.  When war broke out Scottish Pictorial Press became defunct.  After the war he started AG Ingram Ltd, Commercial Photographers, at 3 successive locations in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Available for free on kindle unlimited and to buy in kindle and paperback: http://mybook.to/MrSagittarius

Isolation for Writers Guest Post – Sharon Marchisello #Coronavirus #COVID19 #Writers #Isolation

Welcome to Sharon Marchisello my next guest on my new feature – Isolation For Writers.

How do writers, creatives, artists and bookish souls cope with isolation? Is their capacity to cope different from the rest of the population? It’s an interesting question and one that fascinates me.


How is Sharon coping with this enforced isolation?

Here’s her answer:

Thoughts About Isolation

I’m supposed to be on a cruise right now. But instead of lounging on our balcony, scanning the waves for dolphins and watching the sun sink below the horizon as the ship glides across the Atlantic, we’re watching the sun set behind the pine trees in our own backyard. First-world suffering, I know. We’re healthy and have plenty to eat; we even have enough toilet paper. We live in a community with an extensive network of golf-cart paths, and these remain open so residents have access to fresh air and exercise.

Social distancing on the golf course (4 players, 4 carts)

Another positive: we’re getting our house painted. We’ve been trying for several years to accomplish this task, but the contractors are always so busy. No one calls you back. In the past, we’ve even had painters come over and give us an estimate, schedule a date to get started, and then never show up. But now, they’re hungry for work. People are losing their jobs and putting off discretionary expenses—like home projects. Contractors are happy to negotiate with anyone who can still afford their services.

I’ve been retired since 2015, and like many writers, I’m an introvert, so staying home every day staring at my computer is normal. State-imposed isolation is almost welcome—it’s a good excuse to not have to go anywhere. What has changed about my life is my participation in extracurricular writer and volunteer activities, which used to occupy a lot of my time. I’m on the board of directors for the Fayette Humane Society; our meetings now take place on Zoom. We’ve canceled our public pet adoptions and fundraising events. Neither my book club nor my critique group has met for two months. My husband and I both are Master Gardener volunteers; our projects are all on hold, and our homeowner enrichment classes and team meetings now take place on Zoom. So, I’m saving travel time but I’m not sure I’m getting much more accomplished writing-wise or around the house. And in an online meeting, I don’t feel as connected as I do when we meet face to face.

I write a personal finance blog, Countdown to Financial Fitness (https://sharonmarchisello.blogspot.com/) to promote my nonfiction book Live Well, Grow Wealth.

When I started the blog at the end of 2015, I thought I’d publish once a week. That quickly changed to biweekly. Then a little less often than biweekly; soon it was more like monthly. And then it was just whenever I felt I had something to say. Since the pandemic started, I’ve been posting much more frequently; there’s a lot to say now. The economic fallout from this global pandemic might prove worse than the health crisis. Many of the principles I write about in my book—building an emergency fund, allocating investments among different asset types, conserving resources, looking for opportunities whether the market is up or down—are relevant now more than ever.

My publisher released my latest novel, Secrets of the Galapagos, just before the pandemic.

The usual occasions for connecting with new readers–conferences, signings in bookstores, talks in libraries—have all been canceled or postponed. Amazon has designated selling books as nonessential. I haven’t even held a launch party yet. Again, a selfish inconvenience. People are dying, families can’t pay their bills, and I’m fretting about lost book sales.

Darwin’s Finch

Blue-footed boobies
Marine iguanas (not social distancing)

Here are the buy links for the Secrets of The Galapagos:

https://www.sunburypressstore.com/Secrets-of-the-Galapagos-9781620063675.htm

https://www.amazon.com/Secrets-Galapagos-Sharon-Marchisello-ebook/dp/B0844PJLQN

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/48732897-secrets-of-the-galapagos

My emotions during this surreal period have been mixed. On one hand, I feel a heartwarming sense of solidarity with people all over the world who are experiencing the same fears and isolation, trying to adjust to the ever-changing norms of social distancing and personal protection. On the other hand, I’m frustrated by the constant bickering and politicizing of the crisis, the conflicting messages we get from leadership and the media. We’re making this up as we go along, acting on the best information we have at the time. It’s easy to be a Monday-morning quarterback, sit home and criticize the authorities for what they should or shouldn’t have done, for overreacting or for not acting soon or decisively enough. We could get through this crisis better if everyone would cut each other some slack and come together. One can only hope…

BIO:
Sharon Marchisello is the author of two mysteries published by Sunbury Press: Going Home (2014) and Secrets of the Galapagos (2019).

Going Home is a whodunit inspired by her mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease, which prompted her to wonder what it would be like to interview a witness or a suspect who couldn’t rely on her memory. Secrets of the Galapagos is a mystery with a touch of romance set on a luxury cruise ship exploring the Galapagos islands.
Her other publications include travel articles, corporate training manuals, short stories, book reviews, the blog Countdown to Financial Fitness, and a nonfiction book about personal finance, Live Well, Grow Wealth. She earned a Masters in Professional Writing from the University of Southern California and is an active member of Sisters in Crime. Retired from a 27-year career with Delta Air Lines, she now lives in Georgia and does volunteer work for the Fayette Humane Society.

Website or blog: https://smarchisello.wordpress.com/

http://sharonmarchisello.blogspot.com/

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

https://www.facebook.com/Live-Well-Grow-Wealth-494073360780648/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SLMarchisello

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

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/Sharon_Marchisello

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sharonmarchisello/

Thank you so much to Sharon for sharing her thoughts on isolation, along with her diverse interests and publications, including her new book: Secrets of The Galapagos which I am pleased to share here.

I wish Sharon much success, good luck, health and happiness.



Reflections on a Pandemic

I am a featured author on COVID-19 Reflections on Quarantine in Writers Unite. #COVID19 #Coronavirus #Quarantine #Writers

Writers Unite!

COVID-19 Reflections on Quarantine

For the past several weeks, most of the world has been in quarantine due to the COVID-19 virus. An experience that will undoubtedly remain with us for a lifetime. Writers Unite! offered our members the opportunity to put their experience during this pandemic into words.

We asked WU! members to write a short essay answering this question:

In twenty years, what will you tell your children, grandchildren, or other loved ones about your experience during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Several writers chose to write a letter but some chose to write an essay on the experience in another form such as a statement of the current situation or a fictionalized account. Regardless, we felt it important that we document this experience in some manner.

Jordan Haines

Dear You,

So, a reader for the letter? Must mean we made it out the other side eventually. I’m glad. No…

View original post 3,635 more words

Isolation for Writers – Guest post: Willow Willers #COV1D19 #Isolation #Writers #Poetry

Hi Willow. Welcome!

I’m so happy that Willow can join me today. She is an old blogging friend, who I have met in person at several blogging bashes. An old friend in the logging world is referred to as a Blogging Sister!

So welcome Sis! When I mentioned my Writer’s In Isolation series I knew Willow would come up with something really fantastic and she has.

How do writers, creatives, artists and bookish souls cope with isolation? Is their capacity to cope different from the rest of the population? It’s an interesting question and one that fascinates me.

How is Willow coping with this enforced isolation?

Here is Willow’s answer:

I really don’t know if writers, creatives, artists and bookish souls cope any better or worse than the rest of the population.  In fact, I don’t think I am coping all that well. I seem to be busier now than ever I was before Covid19 reared its ugly head. I really find it hard to find time –  to sit down and work on my blog – and the family even though they are not living at home, they take up most of my time. If it has taught me anything, it has taught me that my blogging time must be managed, as it helps me, so it must have its place.

Marje: Indeed it should Willow. I am so glad that blogging has helped you and continues to help you cope with your current situation. It’s tough and I know you have had your share of problems. The poem which I’d like to feature today originally appeared on your blog in February and it is eerily true to life at the moment.

Willow: “I had no idea then how close to the truth it was, though I do hope the outcome is better than the one I predicted.”

Here’s Willow’s Poem:

The planet was struggling it’s true

From space it was no longer blue

It was suffering from millennia of wars and abuse

People pleaded for change, no use.

Most people tried to help Earth

They knew the planets worth.

Then came the plague

No respecter of king or knave

It cut through the ranks and top brass

No preference for age or class

It sent weak, old or young to the grave.

It emptied the streets and Malls,

Pubs, clubs and church halls.

It stopped the planes and the trains

The fat cats lost their profits and gains.

Huge nations brought to their knees

As scientists search for the keys

To the elusive cure to rid all of the bain.

Just when it could not get worse

Hate joined fear with a curse.

The people turn on each other

Neighbour, husband, wife, sister, brother.

Empty shops, no fuel they could not stand

Then all civilian movement was banned

The crops and animals died on the land.

Drones flew over head, all was scanned.

Mother Nature watched with a tear

Chaos in weeks, rebellion, extinction within a year.

*****

© Willow Willers

https://willowdot21.wordpress.com/2020/02/25/the-plague/

Bio – Willow Willers

I am the mum of three boys  all now grown and flown to live their own lives. Luckily they do keep in touch and visit often. I now have  two beautiful grandsons.

When I started this blog I had not long come home from hospital after an accident in which I broke my back, for the second time. I was in hospital for a month and had three operations.

It has taken me a long time to recover, I am still recovering but every day my body is getting stronger. It has taken a huge toll on me mentally I had to retire early on health grounds, I had to come to terms with finding out people I thought were friends were not. I had to make a new life for myself. Things I could do easily have become difficult. 

Writing poetry and prose has helped me a great deal.  I have made so many wonderful friends through blogging I think it has definitely saved my life. 

Marje: You have been through so much Willow. Bless you. You’re such a resilient, and amazing person.

Willow continues to amaze me – here are just some of her wonderful blog posts to give you a tiny flavour of who she is:

For the series What Day is It Anyway?This is part of LindaGHill’s #WDIIA :

https://willowdot21.wordpress.com/2020/04/23/what-day-is-it-anyway-monday-20th-through-to-thursday-23rd-april-2020/

Photo prompts and various other blog link ups:

https://willowdot21.wordpress.com/2020/04/20/thursday-photo-prompt-otherworldly-writephoto/

Song Lyric Sunday, Familiar Places.

https://willowdot21.wordpress.com/2020/04/20/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-april-18-2020/

Willow loves to share fabulous song videos on her blog. Here’s James Blunt… singing his beautiful heart out.

Thank you so much for being my beautiful guest Willow.

What a great poem, and a fantastic music video too. Thank you for sharing these with us.

Willow has been a great friend to me – beta reading, reviewing, encouraging, and sharing my blog tour posts like crazy! She’s a truly supportive person and has a wonderful blog.

So this is a Thank You to her for all the wonderful things she does.

Photo by Řaj Vaishnaw from Pexels

Do pop over to say hello.

Stay safe and well everyone.

Collaborative Grouphttps://www.facebook.com/pg/5SpiritualSisters/

Magic of Trees: Dawn Redwood #Magical #Connections #SpiritualSisters #Trees #Magic #Nature #Lockdown #Reading #Books

I love trees! I swear trees have magic. I live on the edge of a park in Cambridge surrounded by an incredible vista of trees and as a child I was no stranger to the mysterious aspect of the woods which were just a short walk away.

I’m going to share with you various trees which I have photographed some time ago. They have all captured my attention and are special and meaningful to me. I promise a diverse range, and a few giggles along the way.

What better choice to begin with, than this magnificent tree – a deciduous conifer, the Dawn Redwood, Metasequoia glyptostroboides, native to Lichuan county in Hubei province, China.

Local villagers refer to the original tree from which most others derive as Shui-sa, or “water fir”, which is part of a local shrine.  Since its rediscovery in 1944, the dawn redwood has become a popular ornamental.

Strawberry Fields is a landscaped section in New York City’s Central Park dedicated to Beatle John Lennon. At the northern end of the lawns are three dawn redwood trees. The trees drop their needles each fall and regrow them each spring, a symbol of eternal renewal. The trees are expected to reach a height of 36 metres (118 ft), making them visible from great distances. Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metasequoia

Even the name itself – Dawn Redwood – conjures up spell-binding magic. I discovered the redwood and many other beautiful trees on my lunchtime walks in the Botanical Gardens in Cambridge.

I think you will agree it is a wondrous tree. I love the warm, inviting orange colour in the bark and the beautiful, ferny foliage which was a delicate coppery shade when I photographed it in the autumn.

There is a distinct feeling of energy about this tree. It calls you to come and touch its bark.

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I discovered this blog:

https://www.thespruce.com/dawn-redwood-growing-profile-3269307

And was interested to see what they had to say about Dawn Redwood.

Just some of the words that were mentioned to describe this tree:

Renewal

Awakening

Joyous

Mother Earth

Primal Wisdom

A living fossil

Dates from prehistoric times

Endangered

No wonder the Dawn Redwood captured my attention! I hope it will fascinate you too!

***

I love to write about nature – My poetry, prose and photography collection Mr. Sagittarius is a light-hearted, magical story about fictional characters, twin brothers Harold and William, their sister Annette and the sibling’s connection to the beautiful botanical gardens in Cambridge.

Moreover, it celebrates many aspects of day-to-day life including: sibling relationships, beauty, nature, the seasons of the year, love and ultimately magic.

I love spending time in nature taking photos – my favourite photos in this collection are the robin, trees and the dragonfly that grace this little book.

Photography is in my genes – Both my uncle and grandfather were photographers. My grandfather A.G. Ingram was originally with the photography company Ingram, Gordon & Co in Haddington up until the mid thirties. Then he ventured on his own to form the Scottish Pictorial Press in Edinburgh supplying photos to the press. When war broke out Scottish Pictorial Press became defunct. After the war he started AG Ingram Ltd, Commercial Photographers, at three successive locations in Edinburgh, Scotland.

The photographic images in the book are all my own, apart from two images by Alex Marlowe – a talented photographer.

To purchase on Amazon follow the link below:

Available for free on kindle unlimited and to buy in kindle and paperback: http://mybook.to/MrSagittarius

Thank you for entering my worlds. I hope they bring you a touch of magic. And thank you to all the kind people who read and review my work. I appreciate you.

Please do comment, I’d love to hear about your favourite magical trees and your favourite books!

Some Tree Enthusiast links:

https://www.treehugger.com/health/iceland-recommends-hugging-trees-instead-people/

Facebook Group – I Love Trees: https://www.facebook.com/groups/127351843985408/

Keep safe – find a tree to hug this Saturday!

Hugs,

We are the Spiritual Sisters (formerly known as The Sisters of The Fey):

Adele Marie Park Author: Firefly465

Annette Rochelle Aben Author & Personal Blog: Annette Rochelle Aben

Colleen M. Chesebro Author & Personal Blog: Word Craft ~ Prose & Poetry colleenchesebro.com

Debby Gies (aka, D. G. Kaye) Author & Personal Blog: https://dgkayewriter.com/

Marjorie (MJ) Mallon YA/Paranormal Author: mjmallon.com

Isolation for Writers: Guest Post – Jackie Carreira #Writers #Authors #Isolation #COVID19 #Coping #Advice #Inspiring

Photo by Artem Beliaikin from Pexels

Welcome to Jackie Carreira, my next guest on my new feature – isolation for writers, creatives, artists and book bloggers. How do writers, creatives, artists and bookish souls cope with isolation? Is their capacity to cope different from the rest of the population? It’s an interesting question and one that fascinates me.

How is award winning author, playwright, world citizen and huge movie fan Jackie Carreira coping with this enforced isolation?

Is she taking a leap of faith?

AN AUTHOR IN ISOLATION – Jackie Carreira


The day the lockdown began in the UK, I posted a comment on Twitter. It said: “I’m a writer. I self-isolate for a living!” In retrospect, that might have been a little trite; even unhelpful to those who are genuinely struggling with isolation, but the statement is true in essence. I’m used to spending days, even weeks sometimes, barely leaving the house. I even enjoy it.

What has changed? The answer is: Everything – but it took me a while to notice. For the first few days, I carried on working on a new novel as well as a couple of precious magazine commissions, but very soon found that I couldn’t write anymore. The planned projects, and even some new ideas, were still up there in my head, but I couldn’t get them out. It was impossible to focus and I didn’t understand why.


My husband is an actor. I’m used to him being at home when he’s ‘resting’ so it hasn’t been difficult having him around all the time since the theatres closed. We’re an unusual married couple, though. We actually enjoy each other’s company for extended periods of time! We have no children so the schools being closed made no difference, and earning an insecure living from the arts, we know how to be frugal and make cutbacks when needed. When most of our income vanished at the end of March, we turned the heating down to 15 degrees, put a big jumper on, and stopped throwing away that last piece of bread in the packet. On the upside, we’re saving a fortune in petrol and socialising, and every day I’m grateful that our lives are not tougher.


So, why couldn’t I write? I couldn’t work out what I was doing with all the extra hours, because I certainly wasn’t using them to sleep. I didn’t spend them cleaning the house either! However, I was speaking to people online and on the phone more, and that was an unexpected bonus. Friends I hadn’t spoken to for years were suddenly back in my life. The excuse of being too busy was gone and it was wonderful to reconnect.

Then a couple of weeks ago, on the first sunny day in ages, I had a breakthrough…

“That’s it!” I thought. “We’re all connected.” Somehow, we all know it but we so rarely get a chance to feel it. In these strange times, with planes grounded and factories closed and the streets eerily quiet, I was able to feel it in a new way. I knew that I had no personal reason to feel as anxious as those who are in far worse situations, and I wasn’t being overwhelmed by the extra responsibility that others now had, but we’re all connected because we’re all part of the human tribe. And, possibly for the first time in history, just about everyone on the planet is going through the same thing at the same time. It’s extraordinary. Maybe some of what I was feeling didn’t belong to me at all. I was simply picking it up from this human web that we’re all sitting on.


Armed with this thought, and being fortunate enough to have a garden, I took a new pad and a fresh cup of coffee and went outside. Perhaps all I had to do was START. After all, that was the only thing I wasn’t doing. I’m a huge movie fan and never tire of watching my favourites over and over. I remembered a scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade… if you haven’t seen it, there’s a spoiler coming up! Near the end of the film, Indiana Jones is faced with a seemingly insurmountable obstacle. He’s on one side of a huge chasm, too wide to jump. He must get to the other side to reach the Holy Grail and save his father’s life, but it looks impossible. Suddenly, he understands that it’s a leap of faith. He has to believe or all is lost. So, he closes his eyes, puts out a foot, and takes a big step onto…a bridge made of the same stone as the chasm! It’s totally solid. He leans over and looks from a different angle, realising that the bridge had been there the whole time. He just couldn’t see it from where he first stood. (A dramatic analogy, I must admit, but then I do also write plays for a living!)


Back in the garden, I took my own small leap of faith, hoping that something might come out if I just start. I put the pen to the paper and began writing anything that came into my head. It was just rough notes at first, then the notes turned into prose, then a whole chapter…and before I knew it, I was a writer again. It was such a relief. I’ve since been in contact with other writers to ask how it’s been for them. Some had been writing more, most had been writing less, for a few it had been business as usual. Interestingly, I discovered that many of those who had started off writing less after the lockdown had also had some kind of breakthrough around the exact same time that I did. Did I cause it, or did they? It doesn’t matter. We truly are all connected. I wasn’t alone.


You might be wondering how on earth this helps anyone who’s not a writer. Well, writing isn’t just my job, it’s what I love to do the most. And spending time doing what I love is the best coping mechanism I have. I would recommend it to anybody struggling with this lockdown, not knowing how to lift themselves out of the fog of it all. Switch off the news for a while and pick up something connected to what you love to do: a pen, a baking tray, a trowel, a paintbrush, a book to read to a child, a phone to call your best friend. Whatever it is, just take a leap of faith – find a way to start and then do as much of it as you can, when you can. Inspire yourself and you can inspire another. We truly are all connected. Put a tiny piece of what you love onto that web. It already has enough of everything else.


Stay safe. Stay well.

Jackie’s books:

A SHORT BIOG:
Jackie Carreira is an award-winning novelist, playwright, musician, designer, and co-founder of QuirkHouse Theatre Company. She has twice been a winner of the Kenneth Branagh Award for New Writing. Originally a council-house-kid from Hackney, East London, she now lives a million miles away in Suffolk, England, with an actor, two cats, and more books than she can read in four lifetimes. She is currently working on her third novel (due for release in 2021, if a virus doesn’t get her first!) and is a proud patron of Halesworth Library.

‘Photo courtesy of Andy Abbott’ 

Media Links:


www.jackiecarreira.co.uk

Facebook: @JackieCarreiraWriter

Twitter: @JCarreiraWriter

Artistic Director at QuirkHouse Theatre Company

www.quirkhousetheatreco.com


BUYING LINKS:

What a fascinating interview with Jackie. Her thoughts mirror my own in so many ways.

I am so glad I started this series on Isolation during COVID19, it has given me focus and a sense of purpose to help promote and share fellow writers and authors during this time. And I am discovering new authors to read! Awesome, smiling.

I will be continuing with the series until my YA fantasy is ready to complete. It is currently with final beta readers.

Stay safe and well.

Keep writing and creating. x

Colleen’s 2020 Weekly #Tanka Tuesday #Poetry Challenge No. 174 #PhotoPrompt #Haiga #Haiku #Tree #Nature

This week’s photo prompt from Colleen is an excellent one. It’s so evocative. Who can this young girl be? And what might her plight be? She looks desperately sad, so I decided to write a poetic haiga in her honour.


Image Credit: Unknown

Abandoned, she slumps down

A blade of grass caresses skin

Her pregnant bump hides.

***

The tree waits

Nature together

Babe in utero.

***

Daughter

Accepted

By tree.

The haiku poem was inspired by the photo of the girl resting by a tree, looking melancholy, a blade of grass reaches upwards towards her chin. It made me wonder what was making the woman so sad.

As it’s a haiku with a tight syllabic count there’s an immediate need to express her plight, so I decided upon an unwanted pregnancy – a girl sitting in nature – leaning against a tree – a symbol of life giving. The tree and nature (the grass,) will not judge her as others might – Daughter accepted by tree. Is the baby the daughter, or is the pregnant woman? Or are all females daughters of nature?

Yes, my mind does work in strange ways and this is only heightened during lockdown.

Via Colleen’s Blog: The HAIGA IN ENGLISH: 5/7/5, 3/5/3, 2/3/2 syllable structure. Haiga is called observational poetry because it contains an image with either a Haiku or Senryu written on it or near it. There are a few hard and fast rules for creating Haiga. The Haiku is the most important part and must standalone.

To join in with Colleen’s weekly prompts: https://colleenchesebro.com/2020/04/21/colleens-2020-weekly-tanka-tuesday-poetry-challenge-no-174-photoprompt/

And might I suggest some poetic reading? A lovely, heart-warming and magical read suitable for lockdown…

Mr. Sagittarius is a collection of poetry, prose and photographic images inspired by the beautiful botanical gardens in Cambridge.

It’s a light-hearted, magical story about two fictional characters, twin brothers Harold and William, their sister Annette and the sibling’s connection to the beautiful botanical gardens in Cambridge.

Moreover, it celebrates many aspects of day to day life including: humour, sibling relationships, beauty, nature, the seasons of the year, love and ultimately magic.

I love spending time in nature taking photos – my favourite photos in this collection are the robin, trees and the dragonfly that grace this little book.

Photography is in my genes – Both my uncle and grandfather were photographers. My grandfather A.G. Ingram was originally with the photography company Ingram, Gordon & Co in Haddington up until the mid thirties. Then he ventured on his own to form the Scottish Pictorial Press in Edinburgh supplying photos to the press. When war broke out Scottish Pictorial Press became defunct. After the war he started AG Ingram Ltd, Commercial Photographers, at three successive locations in Edinburgh, Scotland.

The photographic images in the book are all my own, apart from two images kindly given by Alex Marlowe – a talented photographer.

To buy this book, please visit Amazon, click on the link below:

Available for free on kindle unlimited and to buy in kindle and paperback: http://mybook.to/MrSagittarius

I’m thrilled to announce I am included amongst some wonderful poets in Colleen Chesebro’s poetry book store: https://colleenchesebro.com/poetry-books-for-sale/

Thank you for entering my worlds. I hope they bring you a touch of magic. And thank you to all the kind people who read and review my work. I appreciate you.

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/M-J-Mallon/e/B074CGNK4L/

An important article from The New York Times that may save your life

An important article from NY Times that might save your life plus what to look for tips from Linda Hill whose son often suffers from pneumonia. #Coronavirus #COVID19

I read this article this morning. It contains a lot of valuable insight on what ER doctors are seeing in Covid-19 patients. But I thought it was missing a few important points that you might look for at home.

Here’s what I wrote on Facebook with the attached article:

Reading this article from The NY Times might save your life.

But …

It doesn’t tell you everything you should know.

At the end of the article, the author suggests buying a pulse oximeter (shown in the photo), but not everyone will be able to find one or afford one. As the mother of a cardiac patient who has had numerous pneumonias and RSV, I can tell you what I look for, and what triggers our trip to the ER where, 90% of the time his x-rays show that he needs to be admitted.

As the article states, Covid-19 patients tend…

View original post 476 more words

Isolation for Writers: Guest Post Catherine Fearns – #CrookedCat #Crime #Thriller #Author #Isolation #COVID19

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels

Welcome to Catherine Fearns, my next guest on my new feature – Isolation For Writers. How do writers, creatives, artists and bookish souls cope with isolation? Is their capacity to cope different from the rest of the population? It’s an interesting question and one that fascinates me.

How is Catherine coping with this enforced isolation?

Here is her answer:

Hi everyone, I’m Catherine Fearns and I’m a writer. I have published three Amazon best-selling crime thrillers with Crooked Cat Books/Darkstroke, and I also write as a music journalist.

Thank you very much to Marjorie Mallon for hosting me on the blog today to write about my personal experience of writing during coronavirus lockdown…

For many people, coping with isolation has been the hardest challenge of these times. But some of us have had to adapt to the loss of isolation. With four school-age children and a husband who worked long hours and travelled extensively, I was used to spending long days, and long evenings, alone in my own world. And I loved it. Now I have a house full of noisy people, twenty-four hours a day, all needing a lot of attention. Not to mention home-schooling. And it’s wonderful too, so much so that I feel guilty about all the terrible things happening in the outside world when we are safe in our family bubble. But finding time to write is a challenge.

Before corona hit, I was finishing the edits on my fourth novel, and at the exciting stage where I had just come up with the concept for my fifth book and ready to get started. Then I was suddenly thrust into this new and very confined world. It’s difficult to get into the right headspace for novel-writing when you can only snatch a few minutes to yourself here and there – you really need long stretches alone to think. But even for writers without children, concentrating is a challenge at the moment.

Are you finding it hard to focus on reading a book? To tear yourself away from the news, from social media?

Low-level yet constant anxiety has become a way of life for everyone. When you’re living with such uncertainty, worrying about vulnerable family members, friends losing their jobs, wondering when this will be over and what the world will be like afterwards…

I found an experimental strategy to keep myself writing. I decided to start writing my new novel as a serial, and to let readers experience the process in real-time. I post two new chapters every week on my website, bite-size so readers have time to read them, and I have time to write them! Readers can even interact if they wish, by adding comments and suggestions. This concept actually works perfectly for the dystopian theme of the book, and I have been using a variety of media to tell the story, including audio files, images, video and letters.

I do feel a little reckless, posting my unedited work for readers to see, but it has also been liberating and confidence-building. Most importantly, putting that pressure on myself means that I have to get the words down every day. I try and wake up an hour before the kids, and if I still need more time, I suggest that we all have a reading and writing hour after lunch.

I’m aware that none of this makes financial sense. I may be shooting myself in the foot by making a whole book available for free when I could have waited and published traditionally. But I don’t think I would have had the discipline or concentration to write during this period otherwise. And I wanted to offer something, however small, to readers who might just need an extra little activity in their day.

Nobody should feel they have to achieve things during this time of corona. It’s ok to just be – to stay safe, spend time with family, read and relax. But my personal coping strategy has been to create a little something every day. And I have to admit that one of the things I’m looking forward to most when this is over is to spend a day alone!


Link to #VIRTUE, the novel being serialised on my website:
https://www.catherine-fearns.com/virtue/


Book links:


Buying Link: mybook.to/reprobation


Buying Link: mybook.to/consumingfire


Buying Link: mybook.to/sound

Twitter: https://twitter.com/metalmamawrites
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/catherine_fearns/

I’ve really enjoyed finding out more about you and your creative work.

It is so kind of Catherine to offer her serialised novel Virtue for free at this time.

Thank you so much for being my guest, Catherine and wishing you much success, good health and happiness.

Authors/creatives/artists/book bloggers who might be interested in sharing their thoughts on quarantine life, please do get in touch.

Topics such as:

Writing, reading, creativity, productivity/isolation during this time.

Home life, thoughts and fears.

Coping with anxiety and stress.

Hopes for the future during these strange times.

If you are interested in taking part in this new feature on my blog please email me on: marjma2014@gmail.com, or comment below.

Please share any photos you would like, thoughts, reflections, and of course your book links, book descriptions/photos, author bios and the like. All welcome.

Stay safe and well my lovelies.

My amazon author page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/M-J-Mallon/e/B074CGNK4L/

Coronavirus Diaries #COVID19 #Blogging #Anniversary #Six #Years #Book #Reviews

Hi all, yesterday was my six year blogging anniversary – I am a bit of a slow coach celebrating but better late than never. So it’s happy six years to me!

And it has been. Happy. The last month maybe less so, but there are positives: spending more time with family, relaxing more, (apart from when I’m feeling anxious,) and having more time for writing which is a big plus.

Here’s my latest news of the family, writing, blogging kind… plus a poem about a golden dragon at the end. He is worth the wait as I promise he will take you places…

18th April.

Daughters and I were doing our nails again when I found a very soggy biscuit in my crisps! Ugh. Disgusting.The crisp manufacturer admitted that his was probably a build up of flavouring rather than a biscuit! Perhaps they might give me some free crisps… We’ll see.

Started doing blog posts about Coronavirus and isolation for creatives, Richard Dee is my first guest. I post about this on Book Connectors and receive more interest than I anticipated. In fact, I am somewhat overwhelmed and have to request that I get back to a few people ….

19th April

My 300 word submission to Writers Unite Blog is accepted for publication on next Saturday. Yeah! Spoke to mum and dad on Skype and a little worried to see that my dad is coughing. Apparently, their neighbours have given them a settee which is in their garage. Hope they maintained social distance when they accepted it into their property.

20th April 21, 2020

Mum sent my daughter Tasha a text asking about apps for their local community group. Tasha couldn’t work out what app she meant. Mum mentioned it as if it was the only app in the world! She’s not very up to date with social media so I thought it best to call her which I did. I explained apps, the basics of how they worked and promised to get back to her with more details via Skype. Also, I sense she is getting bored and frustrated being at home, so I suggested that she sews some masks! She has loads of material including elastic. That will keep her occupied. I even said she might want to make some for us. To this end, I sent her a couple of links on how to make them. Who knows she might make loads!

This tells you how to make a face mask without sewing if you want one quick: 

https://blog.japanesecreations.com/no-sew-face-mask-with-handkerchief-and-hair-tie/


And a more detailed instruction suggesting use of thick material such as cotton pillow cases or t shirts (doubled up for extra thickness.):  

https://sarahmaker.com/how-to-sew-a-surgical-face-mask-for-hospitals-free-pattern/

Dad is still coughing so I’m worried about him and have asked Mum to check his temperature. He often coughs during the Spring/Summer and all year round for that matter so it is hard to tell whether it is one thing or another. Like me he has Allergic Rhinitis all year round.

Chez moi we did a gym workout in the garden – just my eldest daughter Tasha and I. My youngest daughter Gina is still asleep as she always tends to be until Midday. Boy, Tasha worked me hard but we had some giggles about my dodgy knees which always helps. I forgot to put my head scarf on, so my hair was dangling everywhere,and my glasses were falling off my face in downward dog.

Lol.

In the afternoon we did a bit of Spring cleaning. Cleaning isn’t my favourite pastime but needs must. Unfortunately, I chipped my lovely nail polish which made me cross! To make up for it I made a huge pot of Chilli Con Carne in the evening – comfort food. Everyone enjoyed it and every last drop was gobbled down.

I’m a bit worried about my youngest daughter, she’s been feeling anxious – this enforced stay at home is getting to her and to her boyfriend too. I have to keep an eye on her. Bless her. Her boyfriend lives far away. Apparently, she was telling me that some of her friends’ parents allow them to see their boyfriends. Risky tactic. I can just imagine letting them pitch a tent in the garden to spend ‘private’ time together! Oh my… Not in my house… Staying alive comes before love and kisses right now.

I’ve noticed I have this continuous headache whilst I am in the house, as soon as I go out the door it vanishes, miraculously – obviously a stress headache. When will this end?

I try not to dwell on the death toll, and the Government’s management of the crisis but I am worried. Particularly about the lack of PPE for nurses and doctors. This  is unforgiveable. They are our troops at the frontline; they should be protected. Without them, what would we do?

Today I wrote a book review of The Enhanced League by C. S. Boyack:

Recommended reading especially if you are missing the baseball season: https://mjmallon.com/2020/04/18/isolation-for-writers-creatives-artists-and-book-bloggers-richard-dee-guest-author-isolation-coronavirus-thoughts-family-life-cov19/

And I received a new 5 star review for Mr. Sagittarius from Author/Poet Camilla Downs:

“I absolutely adore this book and will be sharing it with my 18 year old daughter. I enjoyed the different styles of poetry and prose mixed together with photography. It flowed beautifully. An uplifting, magical, sweet gem of a book.”

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3291542791/

And I discovered this review for Mr. Sagittarius on Amazon, thank you author Priscilla Bettis:

And also a few days ago I had this from Willow:

Customer Review

willow willers5.0 out of 5 stars A magical story told in poetry pose and photographyReviewed in the United Kingdom on 15 April 2020What a magical Webb is woven here by author Marjorie Mallon. A tale of two brothers and a sister, botanical gardens, magical creatures and a bench under a Golden Willow Tree. This delightful mix can be either read in one go or enjoyed as momentary fix. I truly cannot recommend Mr Sagittarius enough there is something for everyone inside it’s pages. I shall say no more apart from urge you to read this book and be totally charmed by it.

Thank you to all those who take the time to read and review. I so appreciate you, x

It’s my six year anniversary! Six years blogging can you imagine? Where did that time go? To celebrate I did some work on my next poetry and photography collection, collating all the poetry, images and placing them in order. I discovered three poems I wrote about dragons six years ago! I loved all three of these and they will be going in my new book.

Here’s a sneak peak of one of them that took me on an adventure…

Golden Dragon

Oh,

Mighty Dragon  

your fiery dare,

 Gleams in a challenge,

No childish mask,

Highlights your eyes.

Golden elixir promises,

Hang in the air.

Lining up

to slide off the curve

Of your celebrated tongue.

A challenge!

Adventuress, take a ride.

Will I,

or forever still,

 Remain in this moment.

Too fearful

To slip on temptation’s back.

To sail the secretive seas,

Witness the wonder of sunsets,

Smell the sweet aroma 

of Waterfalls,

Discover Dry Deserts

And Tempting Temples.

Cavernous Canyons,

Concealed Caves,

Resplendent Rainbows,

Rippling Rivers,

Incandescent Islands,

Languid Lakes,

Majestic Mountains.

Too many splendours.

Dazzle me,

I step back from

Tempestuous skies.

 Foolish, I.

Must I question

When I can do.

Trust my ever growing,

Heart’s desire

Please

Sweet

Mighty

Golden

Dragon

Take me,

With

You!

Phew, that dragon was a long one!

Love dragons.

Hope you are all staying safe and well.

Available for free on kindle unlimited and to buy in kindle and paperback: http://mybook.to/MrSagittarius

Book Review: The Enhanced League by C. S. Boyack #Book #Review #Recommended #Reading

Goodreads Synopsis

The Enhanced league is a collection of short stories and anthems centered around a year in a fictional baseball league. It has a slight science fiction background. This league has a lot more pomp than you might be used to, and nobody seems to care if the players use performance enhancing drugs.

Stories involve existing heroes, up and comers, and falling stars. While there are the obvious stories that take place on the field of play, there are also human interest stories that take place around the baseball gyrations. These stories involve scouting, trades, ruthless business decisions, and even relationships.

I enjoyed researching and bringing you The Enhanced League, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. 

My review

An enjoyable read, and a different one for me. I can’t say that I am a baseball fan but reading The Enhanced League by C.S. Boyack does make you feel as if you are immersed in the world of Baseball. C. S. Boyack achieves this by writing engaging characters, adding a touch of humour and superb descriptions of the intricacies of the game itself, and the characters who live, breathe baseball, plus the use of devices, or drugs to create ‘enhanced’ players.

An interesting concept for a story.

My rating: 4 stars

I recommend this particularly for baseball and sport fans and to those who enjoy well crafted human interest storytelling.

I look forward to reading more from C.S. Boyack. This is the first book I have read from him and I am pleased to say it was an engaging read. I believe to date he has written 17 books.

The Enhanced League

It is available to buy on Amazon:

Links:

C. S. Boyack’s blog: https://coldhandboyack.wordpress.com/

C. S. Boyack offers interesting interview possibilities on his Lisa Burton Radio show:

https://coldhandboyack.wordpress.com/lisa-burton-radio/

Coronavirus: #COVID19 #Epidemics #Polio #Thoughts #My #Week #Writer’sUnite #Writing

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels

My week… well, those glasses look just like mine. Thank you Suzy Hazelwood for the lovely free image!

15th April

Not been feeling too good myself today. I had a strange stomach ache and the shivers. But good news a new review today from Willow about my poetry, prose, photography collection Mr. Sagittarius.

I felt a bit better later on in the day and wrote about two swans that my daughter Tasha and I had seen on the river yesterday.  I wrote a short haiku poem about the swans for Colleen’s Chesebro’s poetry challenge.

Here’s Mr. Swan.

https://mjmallon.com/2020/04/15/colleens-2020-weekly-tanka-tuesday-poetry-challenge-no-173-synonymsonly-haiku/

16th April 16, 2020

Across the UK, 12,868 people have died, up by 761 on Tuesday.

Such a shocking headline. In my heart I believe if we had locked down earlier the death toll would have been so much smaller. One has to look at Greece to see that their swift decision to lockdown early on resulted in very few deaths.

Coronavirus Cases: Greece 17th April

2,207

Deaths:

105

Recovered:

269

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/14/how-greece-is-beating-coronavirus-despite-a-decade-of-debt

Sadly, we were not sensible in the UK. We should have paid attention to what was happening around the world.

Now, our lockdown in the UK is to be extended for another three weeks as we flatten the curve.

17th April

I slept badly, which I have been doing a lot. The lockdown is beginning to get to me. So, rather than lie in bed I dragged myself out of bed, started writing and drafted this blog post.

Coronavirus isn’t the first epidemic that the human race have suffered and sadly it won’t be the last. But for many, it is our first real experience of an epidemic and that in itself is frightening. I’ve been thinking about previous epidemics, particularly Polio which has been around for thousands of years. There are interesting comparisons between the two. Both are highly infectious, some Polio patients had no symptoms, most people did recover but a proportion died. Rather than mention all the statistics with regard to the two I’d just like to reiterate we’ve struggled through these trying times before and we will do so again. Most hospitals in the 1950s had limited access to iron lungs for Polio patients unable to breathe without mechanical assistance and now we have amazing advances in medicine but sadly there are shortages of equipment and PPE due to the vast numbers involved in some countries.

Polio struck at the young mainly. Can you imagine? Conversely, Coronavirus seems to be more dangerous for the elderly and those with underlying health issues. Which again is terrifying for people with elderly parents and relatives. One striking difference between the two epidemics is our modern ability to travel, allowing viruses to be transferred to different parts of the world. In the 1940’s outbreak of polio there were no cruise ships, or aircraft to take people to worldwide destinations.  

It gives some comfort to know that there will be a solution and it should come quicker. Scientific research and expertise has advanced massively since the Polio epidemics. Intensive care medicine has its origin in the fight against polio.[145]The first polio vaccine was developed in the 1950s by Jonas Salk.[9] (Wikipedia.)

So sit tight, and stay safe. We will get through this. A vaccine will come.

In the meantime do check out this link regarding a breathing technique that helped J K Rowling recover from Coronavirus.

Links:

https://metro.co.uk/2020/04/07/doctor-reveals-breathing-technique-helped-jk-rowling-recover-coronavirus-12519

19th April

I am submitting a 300 word piece to Writer’s Unite see link below

In twenty years, what will you tell your children, grandchildren, or other loved ones about your experience during the COVID-19 pandemic? Submission deadline Midnight ET on Friday, April 24, 2020https://writersuniteweb.wordpress.com/2020/04/17/covid-19-reflections-on-quarantine-invitation-to-essay/

And some links I discovered on the Facebook group Book Connectors: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1466353170351020/

From Lisa Lowell – The World is Closed So Open A Book – https://magicinthelandlisalowell.wordpress.com/

From Kate Jayr – https://bubbitybooks.blogspot.com/2020/03/tips-from-natural-self-isolater.html/

Isolation For Writers, Creatives Artists and Book Bloggers: Richard Dee #Guest #Author #Isolation #Coronavirus #Thoughts #Family #Life #COV19

Welcome to Richard Dee, my first guest on my new feature – isolation for writers, creatives, artists and book bloggers. How do writers, creatives, artists and bookish souls cope with isolation? Is their capacity to cope different from the rest of the population? It’s an interesting question and one that fascinates me.

How is author, baker, ex-seafarer Richard Dee coping with this enforced isolation?

Here is his answer…

Some thoughts on what I’m beginning to

think of as the new normal.

I’m Richard Dee, I write Science Fiction and Steampunk adventures, as well as chronicling the exploits of Andorra Pett, reluctant amateur detective. Thank you so much, Marjorie, for inviting me to guest on your website today.

At last, I’ve found that some of the skills I learned are coming in useful.

Isolation itself is not a problem, as an author I tend to live in other worlds anyway.

When I’m writing, the ones in my head are as vivid to me as the one out of the window. There are several I go to on a regular basis, home to amateur detectives, space adventurers and quasi-Victorian society. Not only that, but there is also always the chance that I might find a new one to explore.

It used to be a bit of a nuisance, a bone of contention with other family members. Now I find that it helps.

Not only that, as an ex-mariner, I was always used to isolation, chugging across the Atlantic at eight knots to save fuel on a big ship with a small crew teaches you a few things about yourself.

There are things to worry about, all my daughters work in the NHS, on the front line, one in ITU, with a consultant physician for a husband, one is a midwife dealing with emergency admissions and the other is still training. They, along with everyone else who is putting themselves at risk to keep us fed and provided with light, power, empty bins and food to eat deserve our thanks and respect.

Things like getting food, getting exercise, keeping in touch with family and friends: things we all took for granted just a few weeks ago are now more important.

I watch the T.V. and wonder if we will ever live that kind of life, with all the socialising and outdoor action, again.

I’m glad that I have hobbies, things to do on a rainy day. Reading, cooking and gardening.

I thought that I would have so much more time to do things. But any task expands to fill the time allotted to it, so there is no more time than there was.

 Not that we were always out and about; there were jobs that had been put off because I thought they would take too long. Once I got started, I found that they were quickly done.

Meanwhile, I continue to write and publish. In fact, I’ve just had my Andorra Pett cosy crime series re-imaged, with all new covers by the tremendously talented Gill Trewick. They’re all available in both eBook (to buy and on Kindle Unlimited) and paperback at the following links:

http://mybook.to/Andorra

http://mybook.to/AndorraPettonMars

http://mybook.to/Andorra_and_her_Sister

PICTURE 4    

http://mybook.to/AreWeThereYet

I’d love to see you over at my website, richarddeescifi.co.uk. Head over there to see what I get up to, click the FREE STUFF tab or the My Novels and Short Stories tab to get all the details about my work and pick up a free short story. Why not join my newsletter and get a free short story, The Orbital Livestock Company, unavailable anywhere else.

I’m on Facebook at RichardDeeAuthor  and Twitter at Richard Dee Sci-Fi

My Amazon author page is here.  

My Goodreads page is here.

Stay safe everyone

Thank you so much to Richard for being my first guest on this new feature on my blog.

Do check out my reviews of Andorra Pett and the Oort Cloud Cafe:

https://mjmallon.com/2019/03/30/bookreview-andorra-pett-and-the-oort-cloud-cafe-mystery-scifi/

And The Lost Princess:

https://mjmallon.com/2019/06/29/the-lost-princess-richard-dee-arc-bookreview-indieauthor-betaread/

Authors/creatives/artists/book bloggers who might be interested in sharing their thoughts on quarantine life, please do get in touch.

Topics such as:

Writing, reading, creativity, productivity/isolation during this time.

Home life, thoughts and fears.

Coping with anxiety and stress.

Hopes for the future during these strange times.

If you are interested in taking part in this new feature on my blog please email me on: marjma2014@gmail.com, or comment below.

Please share any photos you would like, thoughts, reflections, and of course your book links, book descriptions/photos, author bios and the like. All welcome.

Available for free on kindle unlimited and to buy in kindle and paperback: http://mybook.to/MrSagittarius