Review: Flying Solo by Zoe May #Book #Review #Romance #India

Goodreads Synopsis:

Rachel Watson has it all worked out. By 30, she’s ticked off most of the goals on her Life List. She’s a home owner, a partner at her law firm, she has a gorgeous boyfriend, lots of hobbies and loads of good friends. The only thing that’s missing is a ring on her finger.

According to her Life List, Rachel should be getting hitched around now, so when her boyfriend, Paul, plans a romantic date, Rachel’s pretty confident he’s going to propose. Except Paul has other ideas. He’s jetting off to India to find himself.

Distraught, Rachel doesn’t know what to do. Not one to easily admit defeat, she embarks on a mission to win him back.

Flying solo to India is definitely not part of Rachel’s plans, but could her trip teach her unexpected lessons about love, life and herself? Could she realise that perhaps her Life List wasn’t exactly what she wanted, after all? 

My review:

This is the first book I’ve read from Zoe May and I really enjoyed it. Well, I was in the mood for romance! It was different and in a good way. I liked the whole Spiritual aspect to the ashram in India and the laughable scenes, (yes I fell about laughing,) particularly when Rachel first meets Seb. Paul not so much so, I didn’t warm to him at all, now Seb that’s a different matter! That guy sounds hot! I wonder if a sequel is planned, there are some loose threads.

Now, when can I go to India? Take me there!

Highly recommended, quick fun read. Loved all the scenes in India.

I received an ARC copy via a competition. All opinions are my own.

Release date: July 6, 2020.

My rating: 4 stars.

Advertisements

The Curse of Time: #Free #Kindle #Promo



The Curse of Time is still on free Amazon kindle promo today and tomorrow, so grab your free copy while you can!

My Book: myBook.to/TheCurseofTime

Thank you so much to all those who have downloaded.

I’ve created a couple of graphics to celebrate! Yesterday, James Cudney featured me on his Book Alert. He shared an excerpt, lots of visuals and two reviews, one from himself and one from Kevin Cooper.

The link to the Book Alert: https://thisismytruthnow.com/2020/06/30/book-alert-the-curse-of-time-by-mj-mallon/

Here’s the first review graphic I created with canva:

Thank you to Kevin Cooper for his review. You can read the full review here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/customer-reviews/R17TZZPV0JVF0V/

Thank you to James Cudney, Vashti Vega, Carolina Russo for both sharing promos for the Curse of Time to their stories on my behalf:

Carolina Russo is starting World Watercolour month today 1st July: https://yesterdayafter.com/2020/06/25/coming-soon-the-world-watercolor-month-2020/

To inspire you these are the beautiful illustrations she created for The Curse of Time:

News: I’ve been featured on Literary Lightbox with my piece on Inspiration featuring my poetry, prose and photography collection Mr. Sagittarius.

Book Alert: The Curse of Time by MJ Mallon – This Is My Truth Now

Source: Book Alert: The Curse of Time by MJ Mallon – This Is My Truth Now

Thank you to James Cudney for this beautifully present book alert for my YA Fantasy: The Curse of Time which is currently on #free #kindle #promo offer from today 30th June for three days!

The Curse of Time YA Fantasy: #Free #Kindle #Promo #Offer #Coming #Soon – 3 days from 30th June!!!

I’m pleased to announce that my YA Fantasy The Curse of Time #1 Bloodstone will be on free kindle promotion for three days from 30th June!!!

Fifteen-year-old Amelina Scott lives in Cambridge with her dysfunctional family, a mysterious black cat, and an unusual girl who’s imprisoned within the mirrors located in her house. When an unexpected message arrives inviting her to visit the Crystal Cottage, she sets off on a forbidden pathway where she encounters Ryder, a charismatic, but perplexing stranger. With the help of a magical paint set, and some crystal wizard stones she discovers the truth about a shocking curse that has destroyed her family’s happiness.

Buy Book: myBook.to/TheCurseofTime

Photography Credit: Dr John C Taylor, OBE: http://www.johnctaylor.com/

Unique Selling Point: Unique, Imaginative, ‘Charming, enchanting and richly layered this is purely delightful.’

Latest author interview: http://fiphillipswriter.com/2020/05/11/author-interview-with-m-j-mallon/

“This delightful book will appeal to teens and young adults who love stories filled with magical crystals, dark family curses, and mysteries waiting to be solved around every corner. Each chapter leads you on a journey of discovery where Amelina earns the right to use three wizard stones to reset the balance of time and finally break the curse that holds her family hostage. A captivating tale!” – Colleen M. Chesebro (Editor)

Also, Mr. Sagittarius, my poetry and prose collection is being featured over at Literary Lightbox in the category Inspiration. Here’s the link:

Subscribe to Kyrosmagica Publishing - Author M J Mallon

Esther Chilton – #Non-Fiction #New #Release #Pre-Order – Publication Guaranteed (well, almost!)

I’m pleased to welcome Esther Chilton to my blog today with her new release which is currently on pre-order – the release date is Saturday 27th June, 2020.

I’ve met Esther on many occasions at the Bloggers Bash in London. She’s a lovely lady and it’s a lovely treat to have her feature on my blog today.

Blurb:

Publication Guaranteed

(well, almost!)

Fed up with rejection after rejection? Not sure how to target the right market, or what to write about?

Writers Bureau tutor, editor and freelance writer, Esther Chilton takes you through the necessary steps to gain publication whether you’re just starting out or have been writing for a while.

Topics include writing:

  • Readers’ letters
  • Fillers
  • Articles
  • Short stories
  • For competitions

You’ll find information on market research, how to set your work out and send it, as well as lots of useful tips, examples and writing exercises to give you ideas and build on your writing skills with the aim of publishing your work.

A Helping Hand for Writers

Here an extract from the book – it’s from the Sizzling Story Ideas chapter, which features lots of prompts and writing exercises.
Location
A tranquil beach with a blazing riot of a sunset and the gentle lapping of waves into shore is the perfect setting for a romance story, but more mundane locations can also generate a compelling story idea. How about your local market? You may be poking and prodding at the apples when you see a child out of the corner of your eye. In your story, the child could steal an apple from the stall. Perhaps the child has run away from a terrible homelife or maybe he/she is doing it as a dare to look good in front of a group of friends. Another possibility is a bully, lurking in wait, ready to taunt the child if he/she doesn’t carry out the act. One option is to tell the story through the child’s eyes. This always stands out and adds an extra element of emotion. So, as well as thinking up locations for your stories, take note of what’s around you. Inspiration often strikes where and when you least expect it.
Writing exercise
Want some more? The following are just a few locations to stimulate places for an entertaining and compelling story. The story threads suggested here may bring others to mind. Write down your ideas:
An old house that’s been boarded up for a long time. Walking past one evening, your character notices there’s a light on. Who is in there? A ghost? A squatter? An axe-murderer? A group of teenagers?
A supermarket. A woman starts screaming. What’s wrong with her? What/who has she seen? Or is she mentally ill? There’s a crash from outside. What’s going on? An accident? An attack?
A bedroom. Has someone died in the bedroom? Now? Or years before? Perhaps the bedroom has a secret door into another world, or it’s just a hiding place for secrets.
Some woods. A person may be killed, or become lost in the woods. Or maybe something happened there years before – something supernatural and unexplained. It could be happening all over again. Alternatively, two dog walkers meet in the woods and love blossoms.
A school reunion. Could feuds have festered over the years? Will first loves be there and once more rekindled? Is there someone there who shouldn’t be?

Esther has regularly written for writing magazines such as Writers’ Forum and Writing Magazine. She has also had her work featured in a diverse range of magazines and newspapers, including The Guardian, Best of British, Your Cat, Prima, My Weekly and The People’s Friend, to name a few.


Winner of Writing Magazine, Writers’ News, The Global Short Story and several other writing competitions and awards, Esther has also judged writing competitions. For over ten years, Esther has been a tutor for The Writers Bureau and after requests from students, she put together a collection of her stories – The Siege. Esther’s latest book of short stories, A Walk In the Woods is out now.


Esther has been working on her first non-fiction book to help writers get published –Publication Guaranteed (Well, Almost!). It’s the first in her A Helping Hand For Writers series and is available as an e-book. A paperback will follow shortly. In addition to tutoring, Esther works as a freelance copyeditor offering an editing, guidance and advice service for authors and writers. She has edited novels, non-fiction books, articles and short stories. You can find out more about it here:
https://esthernewtonblog.wordpress.com/editing-proofreading-and-advice-service/
If you’d like Esther’s help, or would like to know more about what she can do for you, please get in touch: estherchilton@gmail.com
Links:

Website
Blog
Twitter
LinkedIn

To buy Publication Guaranteed (Well, Almost!):
Amazon UK
Amazon US

For The Siege:
Amazon UK
Amazon US

For A Walk in the Woods:
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Wishing Esther every success with her new non-fiction book. What a brilliant idea!

Before I go, I’d like to mention that I really enjoyed Esther’s short story collection – A Walk In The Woods. Read my review here: https://mjmallon.com/2020/04/08/book-review-a-walk-in-the-woods-by-esther-chilton-book-review/

Excerpt: Samantha Murdoch – Forthcoming Anthology – This Is Lockdown

Photo by Ella Lena from Pexels

Today, I have great pleasure to share with you an excerpt from This Is Lockdown, an anthology of writing plus my poetry, flash fiction, and short stories due for release soon.

This is from my good friend Samantha Murdoch…

Strange Days Indeed…!

A tale from Samantha Murdoch

© Copyright Samantha Murdoch

We are living in strange and difficult times indeed my friends, but there comes a time when we must raise our eyes to the future, and reflect and act on what we have learned…

Although not a native of the East Midlands, I find its quirky humour and the people here have grown on me the longer I’ve lived here and there’s always something… well strange going on.

Take the other day for example – as the youngest, fittest and lowest risk category member of my little family I do the shopping and medication run, and I had just returned from delivering essential items to my mother.

“Hurry up for Christ’s sake Samantha, you know I can’t go out and I am gasping for a cigarette and the dogs are driving me mad for treats!” namely cigarettes, dog meat and dog treats, leaving them carefully on her doorstep and waving to the dogs who were grinning madly at me through the window while standing on the windowsill wearing Mother’s net curtains on their heads like very fetching lace mantillas.

I called goodbye and left – “Get off the bloody windowsill you idiots!” – her words of farewell echoing behind me and went pottering off up the hill to return to my own house, pondering weighty issues like should I feed my sour dough starter again – did I need to plant more beetroot and would my partner possibly let me buy a little goat…

My reverie was, well, strangely interrupted by a somewhat overweight and half naked gentleman running towards me, his hands cupped carefully around something at his groin level shouting:

“Can you do anything with this please?”

Understandably, I backed away rapidly, fumbling desperately in my handbag for a weapon (I found a biro) and my look of confusion must have registered with the man because he stopped running and said, a little more reasonably:

“No, look!”

He held his hands out to me, and nestled on his palms was a collared dove, one of our prettiest native birds. I approached and looked down. It seemed uninjured, and gazed back trustingly at us.

“What would you like me to do with it?” I enquired politely, hoping I wasn’t about to be wrestled indoors and commanded to make pigeon pie…

“My cat had hold of it – she’s a bogger * for catching birds and bringing ‘em in and I can’t leave it in my garden coz she’ll only have it again, so I thought you could take it with you,” he finished, looking at me hopefully.

“Ah! Oh – no, I have four cats,” I told him, and we both nodded in mutual understanding of our furry friends’ proclivities.

Suddenly, he brightened as an idea struck.

“That house over there – they’ve got a big hedge! I can put it in there!”

“That’s a good idea,” I replied encouragingly.

Together, we sneaked across the road, keeping out of the sight line of the house and I watched as the man pushed the dove into a suitable hole as far up as he could reach in the hedge.

We stood back and looked. The dove settled quite happily into its hiding place and we smiled at each other, the half naked somewhat overweight man and I, united in our common goal to help save a little life.

I haven’t seen him since, and I hope the little bird recovered too. But in these strange days sometimes that’s all that’s needed – a little kindness.

Stay safe and well, friends.

© Writing and Image – Samantha Murdoch

* The term bogger is the pronunciation used in Nottingham of bugger!

Bio:

Samantha Murdoch enjoys sharing her thoughts on writing and the power of the written word. She entertains and amuses her blogging community with her thoughts and memories, cats, crystals laughter and the magic of everyday life.

A lovely blog with a warm and friendly welcome, and lots of furry friends too!

Links:

https://samanthamurdochblog.wordpress.com

https://www.instagram.com/crystalcats1485/

Book Review: The Willow Woman (Philip Ye, #1) by Laurence Westwood

Goodreads Book Synopsis:

Chengdu: a teeming, modern metropolis.

Yet China’s painful turbulent history still leaves its mark on the minds of all who live there.

Philip Ye, half English, half Chinese, is a homicide detective with the Chengdu Public Security Bureau who suffers his own anguish from a life blighted by tragedy and the unsettling appearance of ghosts that often intrude in on his investigations.

On a misty grey morning one such apparition leads him to a busy street corner during the rush hour where he bears witness to a shocking event. Against his better judgment, Phillip is drawn into the search for a missing, vulnerable boy. His investigation brings him into contact with Xu Ya, a brilliant and beautiful public prosecutor. She is new to Chengdu, determined not only to make her mark but to also leave behind her own personal heartbreak. They have crossed paths before. He has no memory of her, but she remembers him very well indeed….

Soon enough Philip Ye has a vicious murder on his hands, and then another – the boy’s disappearance seemingly sparking a chain of violent events. With the help of Xu Ya – dedicated to upholding făzhì, the Rule of Law, in China ‒ and her indefatigable and worldly-wise assistant Fatty Deng, Phillip Ye is quickly on the trail of a mysterious figure known as The Willow Woman. But, unbeknownst to them all, there are secretive and subversive forces at work within the dark heart of the city and tremendous danger awaits…. 

My review


This isn’t my usual genre but when I read the cover and synopsis I knew The Willow Woman would be for me. I was lucky to win a copy, (this in no way influences my review – all opinions are my own,) and I wasn’t disappointed.

What a great novel. The Willow Woman is well written, engaging, and thoroughly researched too. There are masses of characters in the novel, but don’t let this put you off. The author kindly gives us a detailed list, so we don’t get confused who is who!

Within the cover of this book you’ll find: touches of the paranormal and the mystical, police procedural, China’s historical past and the frailties of what it means to be human and vulnerable set amongst the cliques, violence, cults and mysteries of China.

There are many characters in this tale to keep the reader entertained. Laurence Westwood introduces them with care and such detail that the reader is immersed in this world.

My personal favourites are Fatty Deng, Constable Ma, Mouse, the main protagonist Philip Ye and the Prosecutor Xu Ya.

In fact, I wish we had more of Fatty Deng…

Moreover, there are the lovely touches of spontaneous humour that bring a smile from time to time.

The ending what can I say – read it and see! 

I look forward to reading more from this author.

My recommendation: Highly recommended.

My rating: 4.5 stars

Authors Website: https://www.laurencewestwood.com/

Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction: Good Vibrations

The flash fiction below is based loosely on a true story! I’ve been asked to beta read twice recently. One of those beta reads was a little different…

Good vibrations can come in the most unusual ways! A friend of mine asked me to beta read for her. She mentioned that her story wasn’t her usual style of writing and she was using a pseudonym. With various writing projects on the go, I didn’t give it much thought. I knew I’d help her, as she’s always supported me.

When I started reading the manuscript, I soon realised what she meant. This was a  sensual read. I ploughed on; completing the beta edits of the romantic erotica in record time!

June 18, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes good vibrations. What is unfolding? Is someone giving off or receiving the feeling? Where is the story situated? Gather some good vibes and go where the prompt leads!

Respond by June 23, 2020https://carrotranch.com/2020/06/19/june-18-flash-fiction-challenge-2/

Marian Wood: Pandemic Poetry #Poetry #COVID19 #Isolation #Writers #Contributing #Author

Welcome to Marian Wood, a contributing writer in the forthcoming collection of diaries, short stories, flash fiction, writings and poetry: This Is Lockdown with her poem and thoughts on COVID19.

This Is Lockdown will feature a wide variety of authors, writers and bloggers from UK, USA, Italy and Canada.

Poetry from Marian Wood

© Marian Wood

The world is quiet, a new strange calm,
People staying indoors, scared of coming to harm.
Cars are now just sitting on drives,
As people now lead different lives.

No longer racing for the morning bus,
Now staying at home, with lap top, no fuss.
The children are now home from school,
And mum is trying to set the rules.

Sitting working, but watching the kids,
A parent can be successful at this.
With the help of a maths app and a cool pc,
The children can be kept calm and busy.

It was March that this change came to the UK,
And now it’s here, it’s not going away.
Never before have people been told to stay at home,
I’m so glad for social media and our telephones.

Our children are growing up right now,
They will forever remember what happened and how.
The Chinese Wet Market in Wuhan,
Was that really where this all began?

The children

The children are now drawing rainbows,
All part of our memories and makes our hearts glow.
All our praises go to our NHS and keyworkers,
They are all working hard in an effort to save us.

So, everyone now please look after your families,
Stay indoors, obey lock down, care for your babies.
Maybe have a picnic in your front room,
Or make the chairs into a rocket and fly to the moon.

Trying to think of ways to pass the day,
Bringing in inventive ways for creativity and play.
Make the most of this time that’s been given to us,
It’s not going soon, this Corona virus is in no rush.

We are not sure when the lock down will end,
But on one thing you really can depend.
The NHS workers are fighting for you,
There’s not enough clapping that we can do.

For they will continue to fight to the finish,
Brave and steadfast, their care won’t diminish.
This corona virus has become our life’s big feature,
However, we need to see the bigger picture.

Our world around us

Whilst the NHS and Keyworkers are caring for us,
Our planet is loving the difference, loving the less rush.
The effects of planes, ships and of the many cars,
Earth’s destruction had gone too far.

Looking up now the sky is deep blue,
It’s beautiful, lock down was a good thing to do.
Throughout this disaster we need to see the positive,
Reflect on the good, no longer on the negative.

So, hug your children and play your games,
Home school and work, we will never live this again.
Keep your scrapbooks and write your diaries,
And look after your families, and try not to worry.

© Marian Wood

Bio:

I am a happily married, working mum to two children aged seven and nine. I write two blogs featuring my children, poetry and short stories. I’m currently working on my first novel. I have reached about 80 000 words and I’m stuck with the ending. I stopped writing it in October 2019 and now I’m struggling to get back into it.

Confidence and COVID 19 are not helping to motivate me.

I’ve learnt If you are writing a novel, don’t stop writing it until it’s finished. If you stop and take a break it might take longer. I’d have completed it if I hadn’t stopped.

For us, COVID 19 has meant isolation. My husband is being shielded so we are all shielding. It is hard not going anywhere and not seeing friends in person.

In March we were both ill and suspected that we had the virus. However, the swab test showed a negative result. This test may not be accurate, so we don’t know if we have had it, but we were ill for weeks.

Tesco are delivering our food, Morrison’s my husband’s prescriptions. I’m working for the NHS from home. It’s nice to roll out of bed and go to work in my pyjamas and I love Microsoft Teams. It’s better than coping with the school run and a stressful drive to the morning meeting. 

The environment has loved the relief from the pollution. There are positives to this awful situation. I try not to focus on the state of our economy or the mistakes made. The UK is in a sorry state right now. People are still dying daily, and I fear going to the supermarket. Despite an NHS discount, I prefer to order online where there is no NHS perk. My Amazon shopping has increased as I’m too scared to go to the shops. Plus, we are shielding.

New rules in June in the UK might change the goalposts for shielders. For me, hiding from the world is the better option. However, this is really not fair on my kids who are desperate to get out. As well as working, I am home schooling. The school sends a weekly timetable with web links and information sheets. I do my best to work through them with the children and tick off what we have done.

I work three days a week but due to home-schooling I am working six days. I am exhausted, I’m enjoying it but I’m tired. This week my nine-year-old and I have been learning about the oceans and explorers. It is an interesting subject. So, COVID 19 has brought great change to our lives. Home school, can’t go anywhere and mum no longer gets time alone. It has affected my writing as I’m more stressed and I have less time. I’m struggling to keep up with my blogs.

I’m hoping that the rate of infection in the UK keeps coming down. At the moment the figures are still high and we don’t even know if the children are going back to school in September, or whether it will be a phased return. At the moment, we can only guess.

This virus has come and messed with all our lives; I’m hoping that it is soon something in the past. Someday I hope for a vaccine. A time that we will no longer worry about it and the world will feel safe again.

Links:

www.justmuddlingthroughlife.co.uk

Www.marianwood.com

Www.facebook.com/marianwood76/

Www.twitter.com/MarianEWood

Thank you so much to Marian for being a contributing author in the forthcoming anthology and collection of diaries, short stories, flash fiction and poems: This Is Lockdown.

I am so excited how this is all taking shape!!!

Sally Cronin: Lockdown #Poetry #Thoughts #Isolation #Writers

Photo by Jordan Benton from Pexels


Welcome to Sally Cronin, a huge supporter of the indie writing community. Sally has kindly offered to contribute to my latest writing project: This Is Lockdown.

It’s a compilation of my diaries, short stories, flash fiction, poetry and articles, plus poems and pieces of writing from an array of international writers, authors and bloggers – the ‘Isolation Writers,’ featured on my blog.

She shares her tributes to all those who have kept us safe, educated, fed, and cared for during this crisis, her thoughts on reentering ‘normal’ activities, a poem inspired by our current situation, plus her reflections for the future.

Double Etheree – Silver Lining

I
believe
there is a
silver lining
to isolation.
A chance to reassess
how we effectively use
one of life’s great commodities
so often wasted and lamented
yet measured so accurately each day.
Time can be fleeting or last a lifetime
and it seems there is little to spare.
But during this brief hiatus
I have come to understand
that clocks do not decide
how I use this gift.
In the future
I will live
and love
more.

© Copyright Sally Cronin 2020

Thanks very much Marjorie for inviting me over to share my thoughts about the recent three months of lock down and the prospect of moving forward.

Firstly, I really want to pay tribute to the health care workers in hospitals, care homes and those who have continued to visit individuals in the community. We tend to forget when we look at their uniforms that they are also grandparents, mums and dads, sisters, brothers and grandchildren, who have the same concerns we all do about what is going on in the home, not just in their place of work.

Also those working on the front-line in supermarkets and pharmacies that have turned up each day, cheerfully, to make sure we have food on the table and medication delivered.

Parents too have been challenged by assuming the roles of teachers as well as playmates for their children in the last three months, and judging by the photographs and captions on social media, with mixed results. Humour thankfully has been sustained over the last 12 weeks, but I do know that many have struggled with the enforced isolation.

What I would like to focus on in this post, is how three groups of our society are going to cope with the next phase of re-entering the outside world.

I notice that there are already articles on how to minimise the impact on our pets, who have enjoyed having their families at home with them all day, and that includes leaving them for small amounts of time to get them used to be alone again. Humans also need help adjusting to the new world we will find when we reconnect with society.

This includes those who have been classified as vulnerable, primary school children and those who have had their treatments for life threatening diseases put on hold for over three months.

Those classified as vulnerable
I am officially in the at risk group because of my age rather than underlying health issues, but I must say that having shopped in the designated times, I probably will continue to do so as long as they continue… There do not seem to be many early risers at the moment with schools still shut, so I tend to shop in isolated splendour, rolling up and through the checkout without any delay. I do wear a mask and latex gloves and use hand sanitiser as well. Once home I get in the shower and wash my hair and glasses at the same time… shoes stay outside for the day upside down in sunshine or get wiped over with Dettol. I do think it will be a while before I discard these precautions, however safe they announce it might be.

However, one of the issues identified, is covid-19 phobia amongst many elderly people who have become used to having their groceries delivered, and total absence of outside physical contact with family and friends. We have been informed regularly, that with the lifting of restrictions there could be a second wave of the virus, and that it is highly likely that there will be another lockdown when the winter flu season starts later in the year. It does not exactly inspire confidence when it comes to leaving the house and mixing with strangers again as we used to.

This is reinforced with the continued advice for those over 70 or with a long-term underlying conditions, to remain indoors with medication and food deliveries where possible, indoor exercise or in the garden and minimise time spent outside the home and contact with others.

Services such as day care centres which provide such an important physical interaction with others, and also an opportunity to leave the house, have been shut during the lock down. Unfortunately these will remain closed until social distancing protocols have been put in place. But, many elderly will still be too afraid to take advantage of them. Those with families living close by will I am sure, find it much easier to make steps towards the new form of normal. But, for those who are living alone, it will be far more difficult.

Age UK is still doing great work with personal visits to the home, and outreach programme online and by phone, food shopping and other activities. There is a comprehensive website covering Covid-19 and how they can help should you feel that it might be of help for yourself or for a family member.

Here is the link: https://www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice/

Primary School Children
Teenagers in the main are used to living their lives online, and whilst they will have felt the restrictions on their movement in the last three months, they will have kept up their previous relationships and pastimes such as gaming as normal. But younger children, who don’t have access to the Internet in the same way, are at risk of missing out on a crucial time of socialisation with others. When they do return to school or start for the first time in September, there will be physical distancing methods in place that are going to severely restrict how they communicate and play with each other. Sitting alone in a square metre in the playground during breaks and in the dining room is not going to help them integrate into a class community.

Teachers are going to be challenged within all age groups, to not just educate, but be the guardians of personal space. And with teenagers that is going to be tough and almost impossible to enforce outside of the classroom. With the younger children there is likely to be a long-term effect on how they interact with others unless their re-integration is carefully managed.

Those with life-threatening health conditions
The health service is stretched under normal circumstances, but with the lifting of restrictions on elective surgeries and essential treatments for diseases such as cancers, there are going to be even longer delays for patients. It must have been an extremely stressful time for hundreds of thousands of people, and desperate for parents with children who needed urgent treatment.

They are talking about an 18 months waiting list for elective surgeries but hopefully those requiring life-saving treatment will be at the head of the queue. And perhaps all the private health beds that were paid for, but never used, could be taken advantage of now to speed the process up.

An opportunity for us all.
Even though I have worked in the nutritional field for over twenty years, I realised that I needed to take a close look at my own lifestyle and diet and make some changes. I don’t need prescribed medication, but it is easy to slip into bad habits, particular in lock down. The key risk factors that have been identified for a poor outcome from catching Covid-19 are related to obesity, including high blood pressure and Type II diabetes. These conditions are all reversible with changes to diet and lifestyle, and whilst it can be challenging, it may lower our risk of becoming infected as we re-join the community.


Thanks again Marjorie for having me over and sharing my thoughts and poem…

Thank you Sally, it has been a pleasure, sharing your considered thoughts and lovely poem.


Amazon Author Page US: https://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2
Amazon Author Page UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6
Blog: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/about-smorgasbord-blog-magazine-and-sally-
cronin/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sgc58
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sally.cronin
LinkedIn: http://uk.linkedin.com/in/sallycronin1

Thank you so much for being my guest Sally and for contributing an article and poem to This Is Lockdown.

Poetry Review – Poetry of The Heart and Soul by Sarah Northwood : #Review #Poetry

Synopsis via Amazon:

To all those who wear their hearts on their sleeve because I know sometimes that can get messy. 

Sarah Northwood, award-winning author of multiple novels and multi fiction writer presents her fourth poetry collection, Poetry of the Heart and Soul. This moving collection is split into roughly three parts. Beginning with relatable pieces which delve into the mind of anxiety and feelings of inadequacy, then exploring what it is to love and feel loved. Ending with uplifting and inspirational pieces, each poem includes a footnote from the author.

My review:

I am part of Sarah Northwood’s advanced reader/beta reader group. It has been such a delight to discover a new author/poet via Kaleigh @(Cooking The Books) who invited me to beta read Sarah’s book.

I’m glad that she did as I thoroughly enjoyed Poetry of The Heart And Soul. It’s a beautiful collection of poetry – personal to the author in many ways and shared in a thoughtful, generous and accessible way.

There are considerate touches in this collection – the asterisked explanations of some of the poems enabling the reader to get a deeper insight into the author’s thought processes whilst writing Heart and Soul. For instance, in Fears, she explains that the poem was written at a time when she was fed up of giving life to her fears.

There are three lined poems like Minor Key, touching upon the subject of melancholy and Fly which manages to be magical in its brevity. Longer story type poems grace this collection too – such as Lost.

I loved all the poems but especially:

Falling (inspired by a visual cue)

Blue (which was originally a lyrical piece to put to music)

Cease and Desist – that made me smile – our British obsession with the weather!

Reach Out (suicide prevention)

Imagination

Everybody

Presently (about holding back the years.)

More than Once (on the subject of life and marriage.)

My Kind of Romance

A Mother’s Love

My rating 5 stars. Highly recommended for poetry enthusiasts.

Sarah Northwood is a multi-genre British fiction author.   She enjoys writing stories and poems for children, young adults and adults alike.

Author’s blog: https://www.sarahnorthwood-author.com/

Adele Marie Park: Pandemic Poetry #COVID19 #Lockdown

I’m pleased to announce that Adele Marie Park is to be a contributing author in my new project: This Is Lockdown, a compilation of diaries, short stories, poetry and flash fiction to be released soon.

Here is her touching poem which will no doubt resonate with many.

Rain falls on parched empty streets,
A child’s face framed by a window, eyes watch,
No school today no chance of play either,
A frown creases an unlined brow,
Not understanding, but sensing echoes of adult fear,
Something is very wrong in this new world,
The grown ups cry and they shout,
She turns away from the grey wet streets,
And wishes and wishes for the old world again.

© Copyright Adele Marie Park

Thank you so much to Adele for being part of this project and for supporting me in many ways in my writing journey.

This is my review of the Adele’s first book Wisp : https://mjmallon.com/2018/07/07/abrsc-review-of-wisp-by-adele-marie-park-ya-fantasy-lgbt/

Soon, Adele will be releasing the second in her series: Wisp II, which I had the pleasure of beta reading recently. I look forward to featuring her soon with her new release.

Bio:

Adele Marie Park was born in the north-east of Scotland, and at the age of six months, she moved to live with family on the Orcadian island of Rousay.

Her childhood was surrounded by the tales and legends of old, and these became the
themes and beliefs she’s carried with her through life as they now emerge and live within the pages of her books.

Adele’s first published book is Wisp. A tale of murder, passion and intrigue set in the mythical world of Edra.

She has won awards for her short stories and many have been published in successful anthologies.

Her writing crosses genres between fantasy and horror but is always character driven. Transforming the pictures and characters in her head as if by magic onto the pages of her books. Her belief in magic, faeries and the paranormal has never wavered.

She connects with people through her writing and her wish is for them to live every moment of the story and feel as if they have been on the journey with the characters.

When not writing, she enjoys painting and playing music. Her preferred instrument is the guitar although she has been known to play the tin whistle.

Adele’s blog: https://firefly465.wordpress.com/

More about This Is Lockdown soon!!!

D G Kaye : Isolation Writers #COVID19 #Thoughts #Isolation #Etheree #Poem

Marje, thanks for inviting me to share my thoughts on Covid19 and my observances. I’ve written an Etheree to express my thoughts.

It’s my pleasure Debby, so glad you can join me to discuss these challenging times.


These are most certainly strange times. Covid19 has put the world on pause. These uncertain times give us opportunity to reflect and step outside the box of life as we knew it, urging us all to take a good long look at our world. Across the globe there are people hiding safely in their homes, people who worry about losing their homes, and many who protest the lockdown rules by defying them.

Question marks still abound about this mysterious disease as there is still much we’ve yet to learn about the contagious Coronavirus. Countries are doing their best to keep ‘the curve’ down from spread and it’s up to each one of us to do our parts in both dodging and keeping from spreading it in our tracks. But human nature is always a factor, and there will always be those who oppose the rule of law.

I’m a writer, so I observe life and its contradictions. From my vantage point I’ve seen a lot of the world expose itself through this unprecedented time, from the good to the bad, from the obedient to the defiant. I’ve seen images of waters clearing and fish once again swimming in places not seen for decades. I’ve seen images of nature from afar, otherwise camouflaged by smog. This pause is revealing to us what’s wrong down to the core’s nub of this world. I’m seeing the greed of man and the kindness of strangers. I’m seeing how seniors in many places are being forgotten with age, but I’m also seeing that the next generation is taking a stand in crime, climate, equality and racism, and convinced it is they who will most-likely be the generation to save the world. I’m seeing despair, but I’m seeing the hope. The purge is on and we are observing and living it.

There’s always upheaval before building anew – first comes the demolition, and from that will rise new beginnings. We are in the moment of the pre-new beginnings. We have one last big chance to keep the movement going for the change to come. The change for last chance to make the world better in every possible way. This is what I see.

As a writer, the isolation part doesn’t affect me because I’m always writing or clicking away on a computer, working best in a solo environment. The only affecting part is going out for groceries and having to wait in a line, 6 feet distanced from the next human, in order to enter, and same procedure to checkout. I abhor grocery shopping in a normal world. Covid19 just exacerbated the issue. I am very much missing human engagement – talking in person, hugging a friend, and seeing a compassionate, genuine smile, not hidden behind a mask.

Cabin Fever

Anxiety exacerbates within.
The pandemic reigns on human life.
We grieve the lost art of living.
While idling in neutral,
We remain suspended,
Awaiting normal,
A new concept.
Lessons taught.
Observe.
Breathe!

©DGKaye

Bio: Debby Gies is a Canadian nonfiction/memoir author who writes under the pen name of D.G. Kaye. She was born, raised, and resides in Toronto, Canada. Kaye writes about her life experiences, matters of the heart and women’s issues.

D.G. Kaye writes to inspire others. Her writing encompasses stories taken from events she encountered in her own life, and the lessons taken from them. Her sunny outlook on life developed from learning to overcome challenges in her life and finding the upside from those situations. Her refusal to accept the word No or the phrase I can’t, keep her on the path to positivity. Kaye loves to look for the humor in whatever life can dish out, and when she isn’t writing intimate memoirs, she brings her natural sense of humor into her other works. She writes with a rawness and honesty, leaving readers with something to take from her stories.

Social Links:
www.dgkayewriter.com
www.goodreads.com/dgkaye
www.amazon.com/author/dgkaye7

www.linkedin.com/in/DGKaye7
www.facebook.com/dgkaye

http://www.amazon.com/author/dgkaye7

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts Debby and for the wonderful Etheree poem which captures the essence of our times so well.

I’m thrilled that you will be a contributing author in This Is Lockdown – more about that soon!

New Book Release: Claire Llewellyn – Rhyme & Reason Facets of a Life #Poetry

Welcome to Claire Fluff Llewellyn, she is sharing news about her new book.

A collection of rhymes for troubling times; reaching out to the weary with a virtual hug!

From poems about sleep to murderous sheep! It’s an eclectic mix of sincerity, sentiment, satire and silliness, served up as three “facets of life”: LIFE, LOVE, LAUGHTER. Share in the joy & sorrow, or re-live your own! Puzzle at the twisted, dark humour of drunken Santas & Hollywood Hookers!

Life’s a roller-coaster of ups & downs, smiles & frowns. Won’t you take a ride in rhyme?

The Amazon sales link:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B089GGY64P
UK link:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B089GGY64P/

Also, I’m running a competition for verified ebook purchasers to win a signed print copy of the book. In the poem titled: JUST LIKE THE MOVIES: The Twisted Tale of a Hollywood Hooker, I used 36 movie quotes. To enter send proof of purchase plus all correct movie quotes with the movie title to: bloodybritproductions@gmail.com

Details of my first book: LOVE is a KILLER:

Love is a Killer is a compilation of poems and songs on the subject of LOVE; more specifically: HEARTBREAK.But WAIT!…

This is no ordinary collection of sorrowful musings: split into four parts, this book explores the dark depths of not only the fragile human heart, but also the twisted mind of love-crazed killers and love-sick monsters.

This is HEARTBREAK; with a twist of madness, and a splash of Rock ‘n’ Roll! https://www.amazon.com/dp/1798690268
UK:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/LOVE-KILLER-Claire-Fluff-Llewellyn/dp/1798690268/

Author Bio:

Born in Worcester, England, Claire Llewellyn first took an interest in poetry at an early age through primary school readings of Roald Dahl. She also developed a penchant for music, and the horror genre. Her schooling required her to write crea$vely in all formats and she soon acquired an affinity for it, constantly writing rhymes and short stories. 

In her late teens, she pursued her musical interests and formed a band, ‘Stir Crazy’, performing classic rock covers and original material. She headed the band as lead vocalist and lyricist. When they disbanded, she bounced around musical groups and added the nickname “Fluff” as part of her persona in a new theatrical rock band venture that never came to fruition. However, it was her musical pursuits that lead her to move to Illinois in 2004.


As new opportuni$es arose, she became embroiled in a different kind of stage performance as an assistant to a Gothic illusionist. This adventure exposed her to the world of independent horror film making. She branched out into acting and ultimately formed her own small production company, ‘Bloody Brit Productions’, through which she directs her own screenplays.


Whilst fond of traditional rhyming verse, which she mostly ascribes to, maturity has afforded her the confidence to experiment a li7le. Poetry, and writing in general, has helped her through some tough times, allowing her to express difficult emotions, and even showcase that cheeky British humour.


She mostly publishes dark, and some$mes humorous, poetry that is both fictional and nonfictional under her own imprint: Bloody Brit Press.

Social media links

Social Media Links:
FB: – https://www.facebook.com/britpoet
IG: britfluff

Always lovely to discover poets and to share their work. Definitely, one positive of lockdown is ‘meeting’ new authors.

Wishing Claire much success with her new poetry collection.

Some news: My Blog Now Has A Mailing List!! Wannabe Subscribers!!!

I’ve finally taken the plunge after six years… yes it has taken me this long to add a subscribers email pop up. You can also subscribe by clicking on the image above, (that will take you to a landing page to subscribe.)

Why?

I had a feeling it would be tricky to do and I was right.

In fact, it is probably the worst blogging job I’ve ever had to do… EEK…

But, the good old happiness engineers helped me. So, I hope it works…

I’d love it if you would test the subscribe to my blog via the pop up! Yes, there is a pop up on my blog which you can add your email address to. I promise not to spam you with lots of unnecessary emails. Just the odd hello, some freebies and news from time-to-time.

I have some new releases coming!!! Next up is This Is Lockdown, my diaries during COVID19, short stories, flash fiction and poetry and the featured ‘isolation writers,’ authors and bloggers sharing their poetry and pieces.

Thank you in hopeful anticipation.

I’ve created these three social media thingy me jigys via Canva

Book Review: The Curse of Time by M.J. Mallon – This Is My Truth Now

Thank you to James Cudney for this review of my YA fantasy. I featured James recently on my blog. He is a great supporter of the indie community. Please pop over to his blog to read his book review at source.

Source: Book Review: The Curse of Time by M.J. Mallon – This Is My Truth Now

Colleen’s 2020 Weekly #Tanka Tuesday #Poetry Challenge No. 180, #Poet’sChoice #Garland #Cinquain

This week I decided to share a garland cinquain. Colleen also shared a garland cinquain so I thought I’d use her example to help me write one too: https://colleenchesebro.com/2020/06/04/the-old-gods-garland-cinquain/

In Colleen’s words: ‘This poem is created with a 2/4/6/8/2 syllable count for each of the five stanzas. The last stanza is where it gets interesting. You take line one from the first stanza, line two from the second stanza, etc. until you’ve created the last refrain.

I especially like this form because it combines the brevity of syllabic poetry into a longer verse poem that tells a story.’

This is inspired by my photo of the copse of trees. My daughters and I were taking a walk during lockdown. We’d often taken this walk before but this time we stumbled upon a different pathway to the left.

It led us to:

A copse

Of trees past fields

I’ve never seen before

Like tiny balls of knitted wool

Airy

***

Blue Gaps

Vast space beyond

Quiet and still the grass

My mindful feet touching the earth

Six eyes

***

Wander

Ahead, one foot

Treads to infinity

Taking our feet somewhere special

Perhaps?

***

My girls

Daughters join me

Walking in the sunshine

As we move in sweet steps forward

In time

***

Waiting

For something new

A sight we haven’t seen

As we turn beyond the grasses  

New dreams

***

A copse

Vast space beyond

Treads to infinity

As we move in sweet steps forward

New dreams

© M J Mallon 2020

I hope you enjoyed the cinquain garland poem. I’ve never written one of those before. I liked how it told a story! When we drive everywhere we miss so much. It’s great to walk in nature and find little gems.

My new book is coming soon! It is currently with first draft beta readers. There may be some changes and a few more writers to add to the collection.

This Is Lockdown, is a compilation of my diaries during lockdown, plus short stories, flash fiction, and poetry.

The ‘Isolation writers’ who featured on my blog sharing their thoughts on isolation during COVID19Richard DeeAlice May, Jeannie WycherleyRitu BhathalJackie CarreiraFiona PhillipsAndrew Neary, Ceri William’sKatherine Mezzacappa, Peter Taylor-GoobyChantelle AtkinsSharon MarshiselloTracie Barton-BarrettCatherine Fearns, Lynn Fraser and Miriam V. Owen, plus poetry from Sally Cronin, Marion Wood, Debby Gies, (D G Kaye Writer,)

and Willow Willers.

An Interview With … Marjorie Mallon

Thank you to Emma for this wonderful interview at her blog Books And Wine Gums.

Today I’m joined by the very creative Marjorie Mallon to talk about her writing, her photography, and where all the ideas come from.

Hi Marjorie – first off then, tell us a bit about the thinking behind Mr Sagittarius. What’s it about?

Read the interview here: https://booksandwinegums.wordpress.com/2020/06/06/an-interview-with-marjorie-mallon/

Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction #Racism #GeorgeFloyd #Flash #Fiction #Dedication

Photo by Anya Snyder from Pexels

The prompt from Charli Mills – June 4, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about justice for all. It does not have to take place in America. Injustice exists anywhere. What is the story behind justice for all? Go where the prompt leads!

This was probably one of the hardest pieces of flash fiction I’ve ever written. There were many revisions, I hope it does some justice.

This blog does not tolerate racial hatred. This blog does not tolerate sexual discrimination, or religious bigotry.

This blog believes men and women are equal.

This blog is about unity. One world.

Who am I? I’m mixed race, my mother is Asian, my father Scottish. I’m very proud of my cultural heritage. I grew up valuing people of different races. I owe this to my mum and dad, like me they believe that cultural diversity makes the world such an interesting place. Acts of racial violence and hatred stem from ignorance.

My mother worked for a time as a housing officer, in the course of her work she was racially abused. One of the council’s tenants called her a Paki. She put him right! I also had similiar experiences when I was younger, being picked on for being different. I learnt to stand up for myself. Sadly, sometimes racists end up in positions of power, what happened to George Floyd is a tragic example of that.

The following flash fiction piece is dedicated to the memory of George Floyd and all those who have suffered at the hands of racial injustice, or who have lost their lives to cruel, racial hatred.

Jordan vowed to protect his world from deranged, hate-filled people. He vowed to be a braver man, to speak up against injustice, standing unified with his loving wife beside him.

His words: “Racism kills. It divides and discriminates.”

Her words: “We are one, we refuse to let the racists win.”

After the protest, his wife’s creamy fingers cupped his obsidian skin. Her loving eyes filled.

They both wept, remembering George Floyd.

Their thoughts raged no more hatred, ever.

Denounce racism, curtail this relentless boot inflicting suffocating death. Stop it now, end the pain.

This is for Charli Mill’s carrot ranch flash fiction challenge: https://carrotranch.com/2020/06/04/june-4-flash-fiction-challenge-2/

I hope for a better world, one world.

Cover Reveal: This Is Lockdown #Compilation #COVID19 #diaries #shortstories #flash #poetry #Isolation #Writers

Excited to share my new writing project: This Is Lockdown.

A book of my diaries, (from a writers perspective with lots of family anecdotes,) short stories, flash fiction and poetry set during lockdown in UK.

There are thoughts on isolation and/or poetry pieces from ‘Isolation Writers’: Willow Willers, Sally Cronin, Marian Wood, Adele Marie Park, Debby Gies, (D G Kaye,) and an amusing story from Samantha Murdoch.

The collection also features the ‘Isolation writers’ who featured on my blog sharing their thoughts on isolation during COVID19: Richard Dee, Alice May, Jeannie Wycherley, Ritu Bhathal, Marian Wood, Willow Willers, Jackie Carreira, Fiona Phillips, Andrew Neary, Ceri William’s, Katherine Mezzacappa, Peter Taylor-Gooby, Chantelle Atkins, Sharon Marshisello, Tracie Barton-Barrett, Catherine Fearns, Lynn Fraser and Miriam V. Owen.

I created the ebook cover on Canva using a photograph in my own collection of images, a magical gate in Cambridge, you might perhaps have seen it before?

There’s lots of my personal stories, including baking ones…

There’s skype chats and all manner of thoughts and feelings expressed: from serious, sad, anxious meltdowns to humorous glimpses of the bizarre nature of life during COVID19.

And there’s lots of exercise… oddly shared with various members of the insect kingdom.

I share my thoughts on the politics of the moment.

I will continue writing my diaries in case there is a book two in this series. I hope there won’t be! I hope we escape a second wave but the way things are going…

This Is Lockdown is currently in draft stage and is with beta readers. There may be a few changes and some additional writers to the project.

I’m looking for blog tour hosts.

If you’d be interested in joining my street team for the book launch let me know in the comments below.

I have a small but friendly group for this project on Facebook – Isolation For Writers:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/910013342773315/

Please let me know if you’d like to join.

Stay safe and well.

James Cudney: Academic Curveball #Excerpt #Free #Kindle #Download 5th to 9th June 2020

The debut book in the Braxton Campus Mysteries, Academic Curveball, is available as a FREE Kindle download from 6/5 thru 6/9. This book won a Best Fiction award and was the #1 downloaded Kindle book in the highest possible category in February 2019 during the initial promotion. There are now 6 books available in the series, so why not start reading them by getting this one for FREE!

Download for FREE via Amazon

Overview / Description:  

When Kellan Ayrwick returns home for his father’s retirement, he finds a body in Diamond Hall’s stairwell. Unfortunately, Kellan has a connection to the victim, and so do several members of his family. 

Soon after, the college’s athletic program receives mysterious donations, a nasty blog denounces his father, and someone attempts to change students’ grades. Something is amiss on campus, but none of the facts add up.

With the help of his eccentric nana, Kellan tries to stay out of the sheriff’s way and solve the mystery. But can they find the killer before he strikes again?

Praise:

★★★★★ – “I read a lot of murder mystery and whodunit books, and this was one of the best I’ve read in a while. The story is full of twists and turns, and the characters are relatable. If you like cozy mysteries, you should definitely give this series a try.”

★★★★★ – “Fantastic writing and witty dialogue. Awesome.”

★★★★★ – “An exciting, cozy mystery.”

★★★★★ – “Full of twists and turns, and an ending you won’t see coming.”

Purchase Links for Academic Curveball

Kindle: http://mybook.to/ACurveball

Paperback: http://mybook.to/academiccurveballbrapb

Large Print: http://mybook.to/academiccurveballbralp

German Translation: http://mybook.to/acbde

Portuguese Translation: http://mybook.to/bolacurvapb

US Audiobook: https://www.audible.com/pd/B07X6JWYP1/?source_code=AUDFPWS0223189MWT-BK-ACX0-162879&ref=acx_bty_BK_ACX0_162879_rh_us

UK Audiobook:

Overview / Description:  

When Kellan Ayrwick returns home for his father’s retirement, he finds a body in Diamond Hall’s stairwell. Unfortunately, Kellan has a connection to the victim, and so do several members of his family. 

Soon after, the college’s athletic program receives mysterious donations, a nasty blog denounces his father, and someone attempts to change students’ grades. Something is amiss on campus, but none of the facts add up.

With the help of his eccentric nana, Kellan tries to stay out of the sheriff’s way and solve the mystery. But can they find the killer before he strikes again?

Praise:

★★★★★ – “I read a lot of murder mystery and whodunit books, and this was one of the best I’ve read in a while. The story is full of twists and turns, and the characters are relatable. If you like cozy mysteries, you should definitely give this series a try.”

★★★★★ – “Fantastic writing and witty dialogue. Awesome.”

★★★★★ – “An exciting, cozy mystery.”

★★★★★ – “Full of twists and turns, and an ending you won’t see coming.”

Purchase Links for Academic Curveball

Kindle: http://mybook.to/ACurveball

Paperback: http://mybook.to/academiccurveballbrapb

Large Print: http://mybook.to/academiccurveballbralp

German Translation: http://mybook.to/acbde

Portuguese Translation: http://mybook.to/bolacurvapb

US Audiobook: https://www.audible.com/pd/B07X6JWYP1/?source_code=AUDFPWS0223189MWT-BK-ACX0-162879&ref=acx_bty_BK_ACX0_162879_rh_us

UK Audiobook:

Read an Excerpt – Chapter 1

I’ve never been comfortable flying. My suspicious nature assumed the magic suspending airplanes in the sky would cease to exist at some master planner’s whim. Listening to the whirr of a jet propeller change speeds—or experiencing the mysterious pockets of rough air jolt you up and down—equaled imminent death in an aluminum contraption destined for trouble. I spent the entire flight with my jaw clenched, hands clutching the armrests, and eyes glued to the seatback in front of me impatiently hoping the diligent crypt keeper didn’t claim another victim. Despite my uncanny knack for grasping anything mechanical and Nana D always calling me brilliant, I was entirely too doubtful of this mode of transportation. My gut promised I’d be safer plummeting over Niagara Falls naked and in a barrel.

After landing at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport on this miserable mid-February afternoon, I rented a Jeep to trek another ninety miles south into Pennsylvania. Several inches of densely packed snow and veiled black ice covered the only highway leading into or out of my secluded childhood hometown. Braxton, one of four charming villages fully surrounded by the Wharton Mountains and the Saddlebrooke National Forest, was nearly impenetrable from outside forces.

As I changed lanes to avoid a slippery patch, my sister’s number lit up the cell phone screen. I paused Maroon 5 on my Spotify playlist, clicked accept, and moaned, “Remind me why I’m here again?”

“Guilt? Love? Boredom?” Eleanor said followed by a loud chuckle.

“Stupidity?” Craving something of substance to squelch the angry noises radiating from my stomach, I grabbed a chocolate chip cookie from a bag on the passenger seat. The extra tall salted caramel mocha—free, courtesy of a pretty red-haired barista who’d shamelessly flirted with me—wouldn’t suffice on its own. “Please save me from this torture!”

“Not gonna happen, Kellan. You should’ve heard Mom when I suggested you might not make it. ‘He’s always coming up with excuses not to return home more often. This family needs him here!‘ But don’t worry, I calmed her down,” shouted Eleanor over several dishes and glasses clanging in the background.

“Did she already forget I was here at Christmas?” Another cookie found its way into my mouth. I must confess, I’m powerless to desserts—also known as my kryptonite—hence, why I’ve always thought they should be a major food group. “Two trips home within six weeks is one too many by my count.”

“How did you let our darling siblings find acceptable excuses to skip the biggest social event of the season?” Eleanor said.

“Me? I gave up trying to compete with them years ago. It’s easy to get away with things when they’re not disappointing our parents like the rest of us.”

“Hey! Don’t take me down because you can’t escape the awkward middle-child syndrome.” Eleanor put me on hold to deal with a customer complaint.

My younger sister turned thirty last month and is unhappy about it given she still hadn’t met the right man. She also insisted she’s not morphing into our mother despite every hour of every day steamrolling those figments of her imagination into oblivion. Truth be told, Eleanor was the spitting image of Violet Ayrwick, and in one of those ways where everyone saw it but the two of them. Twinsies, as Nana D always said with the cutest lilt to her voice. Eleanor will definitely be at our father’s retirement party as there wasn’t a snowball’s chance in you-know-where of me going to that boondoggle by myself. The man of the hour had been the president of Braxton College for the last eight years, but upon turning sixty-five, Wesley Ayrwick stepped down from the coveted role.

Eleanor jumped back on the line. “Was Emma okay with you visiting by yourself this time?”

“Yeah, she’s staying with Francesca’s parents. I couldn’t take her out of school again, but we’ll Facetime every day I’m gone.”

“You’re an amazing father. I don’t know how you do it all on your own,” Eleanor replied. “So, who’s the woman you plan to meet while gracing us with your presence this weekend?”

“Abby Monroe. She completed a whole bunch of research for my boss, Derek,” I said, cursing the slimy, party-going executive producer of our award-winning television show, Dark Reality. Upon informing Derek I needed to return home for a family obligation, he generously suggested adding extra days to relax before everything exploded at the network, then assigned me to interview his latest source. “Ever heard the name?”

“Sounds familiar, but I can’t place it right now,” Eleanor said in between yelling orders to the cook and urging him to hurry up. “What’s your next storyline?”

Dark Reality, an exposé-style show adding splashy drama to real-life crimes, aired weekly episodes full of cliffhangers along the lines of reality television and daytime soap operas. The first season highlighted serial killers, Jack the Ripper and The Human Vampire, causing it to top the charts as a series debut. “I’ve got season two’s massive show bible to read this weekend… ghost-hunting and witch-burning in seventeenth-century American culture. I really need to get a new job. Or kill my boss.”

“Prison stripes wouldn’t look good on you,” Eleanor said.

“Don’t forget, I’m too handsome.”

“I’m not gonna touch that one. Let Nana D weigh in before I crush you for saying something so pathetic. Maybe Abby will be normal?”

“With my luck, she’ll be another bitter, scorned victim rightfully intent on justice for whatever colossal trauma Derek’s caused,” I replied with a sigh. “I vote she’s another loose cannon.”

“When are you gonna interrogate her?” asked Eleanor.

I’d meant to schedule a lunch to get the basic lowdown on Abby, but I barely made the flight cutoff at the gate in all the last-minute rigmarole. “Hopefully tomorrow if she isn’t too far away. All Derek said is she lives in central Pennsylvania. He has no concept of space or distance.”

“It’s getting busy here, I gotta go. Can’t make dinner tonight, but I’ll see you tomorrow. Don’t commit any murders until we chat again. Hugs and kisses.”

“Only if you don’t poison any patrons.” I disconnected the phone, begging the gods to transport me back to Los Angeles. I couldn’t take the stress anymore and devoured the last two remaining cookies. Given my obsession with desserts, the gym had never not been an option for me. Some form of exercise happened daily unless I was sick or on vacation—which this trip certainly didn’t count as. There would be no beaches, cabanas, or mojitos. Therefore, I wasn’t going to enjoy the immediate future.

I navigated the winding highway drive with the heater set to die-from-sauna max and the wiper blades on maniacal passive-aggressive mode to keep the windshield clear of heavy sleet and snow. It was the dead of winter, and my entire body shivered—not a good thing when my feet needed to be ready to brake for deer or elk. Yes, they were common in these parts. No, I hadn’t hit any. Yet.

No time like the present to call Abby and suggest a meeting. When she answered, I wasn’t surprised at her naivety regarding my boss’s underhanded approach.

“Derek never said anything about meeting anyone else. You got a last name, Kellan?” Abby whined after I’d already explained who I was in the first minute of the call.

“Ayrwick. I’m Kellan Ayrwick, an assistant director on the second season of Dark Reality. I thought we could review the research you prepared for Derek and discuss your experience working in the television industry.”

There were a few seconds of silence on the phone. “Ayrwick, you said? As in… well… aren’t there a few of them working over at Braxton?”

I was momentarily stunned as to how a groupie girl would even know anything about Braxton, but then I speculated she currently attended the college or previously went to school with one of my siblings. “Let’s have lunch tomorrow to discuss it. Would one o’clock be okay?”

“Not really. I wasn’t prepared to chat this weekend. I thought I’d be flying out to meet Derek in the next few days. The timing is off.”

“Can’t we meet for a brief introduction?” Derek sure knew how to pick the dramatic ones. I could picture her twirling her hair and blinking her eyes despite not knowing what she looked like.

“I’m in the middle of an exclusive exposé about a crime happening here in Wharton County. Might be something to pitch to Derek for… well, it’s too early to say anything.” Her voice suddenly went cold and limp. She’d probably forgotten how to use the phone or accidentally muted me.

“Is this what you mentioned to him about topics for a future season of Dark Reality? I’m more interested in true crimes and investigative reporting. Maybe I could help with this scoop.” Once I realized she was in the same county as me, I tried all angles to snare a meeting.

“Are you Wesley Ayrwick’s son? I heard he’s got a whole slew of kids.”

My mouth dropped two inches. Nana D would’ve counted the flies as they swarmed in given how long it remained open. Who was this girl who knew something about my family? “I don’t see how that’s relevant, but yes, he’s my father. Do you attend Braxton, Abby?”

“Attend Braxton? No, you’ve got a few things to learn if we’re going to work together.” She laughed hysterically, reaching full-on snort level.

“Great, so we can meet tomorrow?” The woman’s tone annoyed me, but perhaps I’d misjudged her based on Derek’s normal taste in women. “Even thirty minutes to build a working relationship. Are you familiar with the Pick-Me-Up Diner?” Eleanor ran the joint, so I’d have an excuse to step away if Abby was too much to handle. My sister could arrange for one of the waiters to dump a bowl of soup on Abby, then lock her in the bathroom while I escaped. There’s nothing more I disliked than foolish, clueless, or vapid people. I’d had enough of them dating my way through a sorority’s sisterhood years ago. If I ran into one more LA valley girl, I’d consider letting Francesca’s family, the Castiglianos, take control of the situation. Scratch that, I never said those words out loud.

“No, sorry. I’m gonna be tied up for a few hours investigating all the nonsense going on around here. But I’ll see you on campus tomorrow night.”

I shook my head in frustration and confusion. I clearly heard her stifling an obnoxious laugh again. If she weren’t a student, why would she be on campus? “What do you mean tomorrow night?”

“The party celebrating your father’s retirement. Nothing’s ever as it seems, huh? You can properly introduce yourself and set up a time to talk. I hope that’ll work.”

Derek was going to owe me big-time for this ordeal. If he didn’t watch himself, I’d give her his real cell phone number and not the fake one he gave to people the first time they met.

“How exactly do you know my—” The next thing I heard was a click as she hung up the call.

I continued on the main road directly into the heart of Braxton tooting the horn as I passed Danby Landing, Nana D’s organic orchard and farm. I was especially close with Nana D, also known as my grandmother, Seraphina, who’d turn seventy-five later this year. She kept threatening to bend our town’s councilman, Marcus Stanton, over her lap, slap his bottom silly, and teach the ninny how things ought to be done in a modern world. It’s my second job to keep her in check after the incident where she was supposedly locked up in jail overnight. With no official records, she could continue to deny it, but I knew better given I was the one who had to convince Sheriff Montague to release Nana D. I hoped never again to go toe-to-toe with our county’s ever-so-charming head law enforcer, even if it’s necessary to save Nana D from prison. I felt certain that was a one-time card I could play.

The sun disappeared as I pulled up to my parents’ house, parked the Jeep, and walked toward the trunk to get my bags. Given the temperature had slipped to the single digits, and the icy snow wildly pelted my body, I tried my best to hurry to the front door. Unfortunately, fate opted for revenge over some past indiscretion and came back with the vengeance of a thousand plagues. Before long, I skated across a sheet of ice like an awkward ballerina wearing clown shoes and fell flat on my back.

I snapped a selfie while laughing on the frosty ground, to let Nana D know I’d arrived in Braxton. She loved getting pictures and seeing me make a fool of myself. I couldn’t decipher her reply given my glasses had fogged over, and my vision was worse than that of a secret lovechild of Mr. Magoo’s. I searched for a piece of a flannel shirt untouched by the falling sleet or the embarrassing crash to the ground and wiped them dry. A glance at the picture I’d sent caused the loudest and most absurd guffaw to erupt from my throat. My usually clean-cut dark-blond hair was littered with leaves, and the four days of stubble on my cheeks and chin was blanketed in mounds of white snow. I dusted myself off and rushed under the protection of a covered porch to read her text.

Nana DIs that a dirty wet mop on your head? You’re dressed like a hooligan. Put on a coat, it’s cold out.

MeThanks, Captain Obvious. I fell on the walkway. You think I’m normally this much of a disaster?

Nana DAnd you’re supposed to be the brilliant one? Have you given up on life, or did it give up on you?

MeKeep it up, and I won’t visit this weekend. You’re supposed to be a sweet and loving grandma.

Nana DIf that’s what you want, go down to the old folks’ home and rent yourself a little biddy. Maybe you two can share some smashed peas, green Jell-O, and a tasty glass of Ovaltine. I’ll even pay.

After ignoring Nana D’s sass, I ran a pair of chilled hands through my hair to look somewhat presentable and entered the foyer. Though the original shell of the house was clearly a wood-framed cabin, my parents had added many rooms over the years, including a west and east wing bookending the massive structure. The foyer ceilings were vaulted at least twelve feet high and covered in endless cedar planks with knots in all the right places. A pretty hunter-green paint coated three of the walls where the entranceway opened into a gigantic living room. It was anchored by a flagstone fireplace and adorned with hand-crafted antique furniture my parents had traveled all over the state to procure. My father was passionate about keeping the authenticity of a traditional log cabin while my mom required all the modern conveniences. If only the Property Brothers could see the results of their combined styles. Eleanor and I referred to it as the Royal Chic-Shack.

I dropped my bags to the floor calling out, “Anyone home?” My body jumped as the door to my father’s study creaked open, and his head popped out. Perhaps I had the paranormal and occult on my mind knowing Dark Reality’s next season was unfortunately in my foreseeable future.

“It’s just me. Welcome back,” replied my father, waiting for me to approach the study. “Your mother’s still at Braxton closing on the final admissions list for the prospective class.”

“How’s the jolly retiree doing?” I asked, walking down the hall toward him.

“I’m not retired, yet,” my father said with a sneer. “I finished writing my speech for the party tomorrow evening. Interested in an early preview?”

Saying no would make me a bad son. Eleanor and I had promised one another at Christmas we’d try harder. I really want to be a bad son today. “Sure, it must be exciting. You’ve had a bountiful career, Dad. It’s undoubtedly the perfect example of oratory excellence.” He always loved when I stretched my vocabulary skills to align with his own. I shuddered thinking about the spelling bees of long ago.

Academic Curveball – Book Links

Kindle: http://mybook.to/ACurveball

Paperback: http://mybook.to/academiccurveballbrapb

Large Print: http://mybook.to/academiccurveballbralp

German Translation: http://mybook.to/acbde

Portuguese Translation: http://mybook.to/bolacurvapb

US Audiobook: https://www.audible.com/pd/B07X6JWYP1/?source_code=AUDFPWS0223189MWT-BK-ACX0-162879&ref=acx_bty_BK_ACX0_162879_rh_us

UK Audiobook:

About The Author

Background

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.

Author

Writing has been a part of my life as much as my heart, my mind and my body. At some points, it was just a few poems or short stories; at others, it was full length novels and stories. My current focus is family drama fiction, cozy mystery novels and suspense thrillers. I think of characters and plots that I feel must be unwound. I think of situations people find themselves in and feel compelled to tell the story. It’s usually a convoluted plot with many surprise twists and turns. I feel it necessary to take that ride all over the course. My character is easily pictured in my head. I know what he is going to encounter or what she will feel. But I need to use the right words to make it clear.

Reader & Reviewer

Reading has also never left my side. Whether it was children’s books, young adult novels, college textbooks, biographies or my ultimate love, fiction, it’s ever present in my day. I read 2 books per week and I’m on a quest to update every book I’ve ever read on Goodreads, write up a review and post it on all my sites and platforms.

Blogger & Thinker

I have combined my passions into a single platform where I share reviews, write a blog and publish tons of content: TRUTH. I started my 365 Daily Challenge, where I post about a word that has some meaning to me and converse with everyone about life. There is humor, tears, love, friendship, advice and bloopers. Lots of bloopers where I poke fun at myself all the time. Even my dogs have had weekly segments called “Ryder’s Rants” or “Baxter’s Barks” where they complain about me. All these things make up who I am; none of them are very fancy or magnanimous, but they are real. And that’s why they are me.

Genealogist & Researcher

I love history and research, finding myself often reaching back into the past to understand why someone made the choice he or she did and what were the subsequent consequences. I enjoy studying the activities and culture from hundreds of years ago to trace the roots and find the puzzle of my own history. I wish I could watch my ancestors from a secret place to learn how they interacted with others; and maybe I’ll comprehend why I do things the way I do.

Websites & Blog

Website: https://jamesjcudney.com/

Blog: https://thisismytruthnow.com

Amazon: http://bit.ly/JJCIVBooks

Next Chapter Pub: https://www.nextchapter.pub/authors/james-j-cudney

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/james-j-cudney

Social Media

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jamescudney4

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

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

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

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

Genres, Formats & Languages

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 with six books available.

All my books come in multiple formats (Kindle, physical print, large print paperback, and audiobook) and some are also translated into foreign languages such as Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and German.

Goodreads Book Links

Watching Glass Shatter (October 2017)

Father Figure (April 2018)

Braxton Campus Mysteries

  1. Academic Curveball – #1 (October 2018)
  2. Broken Heart Attack – #2 (November 2018)
  3. Flower Power Trip – #3 (March 2019)
  4. Mistaken Identity Crisis – #4 (June 2019)
  5. Haunted House Ghost – #5 (October 2019)
  6. Frozen Stiff Drink – #6 (March 2020)

I featured Jay earlier this month and we had great fun chatting. Do check out the post here: https://mjmallon.com/2020/05/16/author-spotlight-james-j-cudney/

I read Academic Curveball and can recommend for all readers who enjoy family mysteries. I’m looking forward to reading more from James Cudney.

My link is here: https://mjmallon.com/2020/03/08/book-review-academic-curveball-by-james-j-cudney-murder-mystery/

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. <3 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

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!

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.

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.