“Hope appears in conflicting messages and magical paints as a strange creature of skin and bone summons Amelina to the cottage. In time, she discovers her magical Krystallos skills and hopes to cure her father of the curse of time and perhaps to release Esme from her mental trauma and imprisonment.”
8 Steps To Side Characters is part of Sacha Black’s many writing craft books – other titles include: 13 steps to Evil, 10 steps to Hero, and the Anatomy Of Prose.
Thank you so much for an ARC copy of 8 steps to side characters which I freely give my review and opinion of.
Sacha Black’s writing style is engaging, humourous, clear and informative. I definitely learnt a lot about writing side characters and also discovered how important these pesky folk are!
I had some laugh out loud moments. Here’s an example:
“If you don’t layer your conflict, and you only have world ending levels of conflict at every opportunity, it’s like electrocuting your readers over and over again.”
Yes, this had me in chortles.
Also, there are many light bulb moments too.
“It’s a misnomer that to create big universal feelings you have to describe giant emotions. It’s actually the small, unique and intangible things about our loved ones that create that effect.”
“One thing all readers share in common is a heartfelt solidarity for a character going through shit times.”
“Just because you craft characters to be one way for the majority of the time, say, kind and tolerant, doesn’t mean they have to be that way or feel that way for the entire story.”
I read this on my kindle and highlighted lots of passages to refer to later.
At the end of each step she summarises all the important ideas that she has mentioned. There are also Questions to consider. Plus she makes it all really clear with real examples from film, and books (with spoiler warnings for well known books.)
Recommendation: Read this! Highly recommended – a must read and one to refer back to. 5 stars.
Join Sacha on launch day, 29th July, in her Facebook group for a live Q&A session. If you have any questions about writing, publishing, marketing, her books, unicorns or anything in between, hit her up on firstname.lastname@example.org and let her know, or drop it in the Facebook group/event page here:
As part of the launch week, Sacha will be interviewing nine authors all about their side characters, their favorite side characters from books and films as well as their tips for creating better characters. And She’ll be doing that all LIVE on instagram every night at 8pm from the 30th July to the 8th August.
Friday 30th July – Mark Lefebvre from Stark Reflections on Writing and Publishing Podcast
Saturday 31st July Jeff Adams from Big Gay Fiction podcast
Sunday 1st August Katlyn Duncan YouTuber and author
Monday 2nd August Daniel Willcocks, my Next Level Authors cohost, book coach and horror authors
Tuesday 3rd August Crys Cain, host of Write Away, cohost of TASM and author
“Use a picture. It’s worth a thousand words.” Arthur Brisbane 1911.
An image offers an opportunity to see endless possibilities depending on the viewer’s perspective. Where some might see beauty and joy, others imagine sadness and loss of hope.
In this collection, images and syllabic poetry are brought together to tell a story based on the author’s perspective. The poetry explores our human experiences such as love, happiness, hope, aging, friendship, new beginnings, dreams and loss.
The world around us is an amazing playground and source of all our essential needs as well as sensory experiences that bring wonder into our lives. What lies beyond the horizon? What surprises will we discover as a garden bursts into bloom? Where do the night creatures live?
At the end of the collection there are some longer poems celebrating memories of the author’s life of travel, teenage exploits and love of food!
What strikes me about Sally Cronin’s books is the quiet unassuming way in which they appear without too much fanfare. Sally is a wonderful supporter of the indie writing community, so I am glad to be able to give her a little fanfare too by writing a review for her latest book Life is Like A Mosiac: Random Fragments in Harmony. Great title, I’m sure you will agree!
I loved the dedication within with all the names of the people within her writing circles, so lovely.
I’m a big fan of poetry in all its forms, so this book of eclectic poems from Sally Cronin really appealed to me. There are a wide variety, some wise, some amusing, some thoughtful, some just darn well cute. They are all beautiful presented with accompanying photographs taken from various sources.
Favourites include: Farewell to Colourful Friends, Spices, Dreams, Happiness, Mother Nature, Immortality, Hope, Loose Lips, First Steps, The Circle of Life, Finding Clarity, Creatures of The Night, A Toast to Life, Beneath The Redwoods, Persecution in The Garden, Advancing Years, The Crocodile, Silver Lining to Isolation, The Wise Woman’s Apprentice.
Some are illustrated with personal photographs taken from the authors Childhood Memories in Ceylon, and on Summer Holidays, and as she gets a bit older she becomes Rebellious in Frome!
This poetry collection is accessible, unpretentious, (which I love,) and enjoyable. It will make you smile, reflect and bring back your own memories of when you were young, mischievous and perhaps a little difficult too!
In my case, it brought back memories of when I lived abroad in Childhood Memories – Sally’s poetry spoke to me taking me back in time.
Highly recommended – 5 stars
Many thanks to the author for an ARC copy for review which I happily give with no bias.
Wife. Mother. Daughter. What happens when it all becomes too much?
Jackie loves her family. Sure, her teenage children can be stroppy. Her husband a little lazy. And providing round-the-clock care for her Alzheimer’s-ridden mother is exhausting. She’s sacrificed a lot to provide this safe and loving home, in their cramped but cosy semi with a view of the sea.
All Jackie wants is for her children to have a brighter future than she did. So long as Martha, the eldest, gets into university and follows her dreams, all her sacrifice will be worth something… won’t it?
With a title like that I was bound to be drawn in! I’m a daughter, and have two daughters of my own.
This is an immersive story about Jacks and her family, her husband Pete, her mum Ida and her daughter Martha. It’s also a story about regrets, the choices we make, the fears that we could have taken a different path and perhaps had a more exciting life. Perfect Daughter doesn’t shy away from life’s difficulties and real struggles: looking after an aging parent with Alzheimer and keeping the family on an even keel especially when life has a way of veering off course bringing more grief in its wake.
Perfect Daughter doesn’t hide away from these issues, at times it’s quite difficult reading and at other times it is heart warming and uplifting. It is a generational story focusing on three female family members: Jack’s mother Ida, Jacks and Jack’s daughter situation too.
There is a sense of history repeating itself. Can Jacks discover what really matters beyond material wealth and the freedoms it brings?
Perfect Daughter whizzes back and forward giving us a taste of life when Jacks was younger to the present day difficulties. Should she stay with dependable Pete, (who was there for her through thick and thin,) or should she risk throwing it all away for a promise of rekindled love with someone who could give supposedly give her everything?
Thank you to the author for kindly gifting a hardback copy. My review is freely given and without bias.
Thank you so much to Stacey for this wonderful feature on her blog.
This week I am thrilled to be interviewing author M. J. Mallon, who will be sharing with us details of her writing life, telling us all about her new book ‘Bloodstone‘, which was released on 23rd June 2021 and answering a few fun questions too.
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 captive. A captivating tale! Author Colleen Chesebro – (Editorial Review of 1st Edition – The Curse of Time Book 1 Bloodstone.)
This is a totally different genre for me, but this year I have been reading books by so many exciting new authors that I wanted to give this book a try. This novel would be great for teenagers, or young adults and it follows the magical story of teenager Amelina as she steps into a world of crystals, magic and wonderment. There are some likeable and not so likeable characters and both are really well written. The book weaves a story of the main character learning new skills and you see her personal growth throughout the story. Nothing is what is seems and you want to find out how Amelia will use her enchanted gifts and learn who she can trust. A book packed full of intrigue, believable characters and poetic verse. Author Lizzie Chantree
This is a brilliant book for young adults interested in magic, supernatural, paranormal, fantasy and myth. I found it highly readable and the author’s imagination is phenomenal, as is the fluency of her language and the dazzling way she describes the curious events and characters in her story. I loved the idea of Esme, the girl trapped in the mirror. Author S C Skillman
An intricate fantasy novel with unique supernatural and magical elements which serves as a highly entertaining read. I had a great time reading this novel and exploring the magical world of Amelina full of magic crystals and enchanted mirrors.Author, Editor and Book Reviewer Heena Rathore P.
At its core, this is an emotional tale about a young girl figuring out her identity, learning who to trust, and discovering there is more to the world than the tangible things she’s experienced in the first one-and-a-half decades of her life. Magic Mirrors? Mysterious appearances? Letters that cannot be destroyed? Puzzling trust? What’s a girl to do when she’s followed by two strange boys in the park, only to realize something darker is beginning to happen? Mallon explores the fears in a young girl who wants to break out of her life but doesn’t know where to turn. She’s unsure about trusting friends and family. Ryder, who saves the day, might actually not be the best thing for her… safety… sanity… security. Can she fight the feelings burgeoning around her? Author James Cudney
This magical young adult story is brimming with fresh imaginative ideas avoiding tropes often associated with fantasy. I was impressed with the unique vivid visual descriptions which brought both the settings and characters to life and the wonderful standard of writing throughout the story. A magical mystery unfolds for the main character Amelina, who makes discoveries during the plot, so we can enjoy seeing her grow in confidence and skill. The story involves complex content which was difficult to follow initially but becomes more understandable as the story develops. The introduction of the antagonist, Ryder, really helps us to root for Amelina. He is well written, and I enjoyed that he wasn’t given the typical look of a baddie but rather slowly and disconcertingly reveals his darker side, inserting himself between Amelina and her friends. I can see this being the start of a fabulous young adult series and hope there are more books to come!Sarah Northwood Poet and Author
Amelina is written so well. There is a part of her that all of us will recognise and emphasise with. At that awkward age where nothing fits and at the same time you feel as if you can conquer the world. Darkness creeps in slowly in the form of Ryder who at first seems the answer to all Amelina desires, or is he? Author Adele Marie Park
The overall world-building creates a wonderful, spiritual atmosphere. There’s a bit of poetry at the start of every chapter, a nice touch which leads us into the action. The story bravely tackles issues of mental health and self-harm, but in such a sensitive way that it can only help improve understanding. Author Richard Dee
Amelina is a teenage girl whose world has been turned upside down by a curse within a world where magic is hidden and most don’t seem to know of its existence. In fact, it seems she’s a descendant of a line of magic-wielding enchanters who have a special relationship with crystals. But with this curse, her father is time-ravaged, a girl is trapped in her mirror, and her family is falling apart. There are a lot of unanswered questions come the end of the book, so be on the lookout for more in the series. There are mentions of delicate issues such as cutting and anorexia, both handled with care, and a séance, but I’d recommend this book for older teens and people who love magical stories that involve power within crystals, curses, and unexplainable happenings. Author Rachael Ritchey
This is a wonderful YA fantasy read. It’s very different from others I’ve read and I say this in the most positive manner. One way or is unique is through the use of original short poetry at the beginning of each chapter providing a clue to the chapter content. It is very well done. I do love originality. The whole work has a magical feel about it which draws the reader in with a yearning to learn more about all of the characters and their plight. My favourite characters are, Esme… The girl trapped in the mirror, and Shadow, the black cat. These two characters alone were enough to keep me rooted. Meanwhile, on the serious side of things, there are so many issues going on in this work in addition to that of dealing with a dysfunctional family. One’s familiarity will be tested and emotions may arise. That aside, when you add magic, a black cat, and a guitar and music into the mix… What is there not to love about this work?Author/Reviewer Kevin Cooper – (Previous edition of Book – The Curse of Time Book 1 Bloodstone. )
Amelina is an indomitable heroine who will not rest until she solves the mystery and sets the world to rights. The device of magic crystals as a source of magic is novel and works well. There are loose ends that are clearly available to be addressed in future episodes of this series. As a precursor story that is relatively complete in itself, … as an introduction to the storyline and invitation to read on. MJ Mallon is not afraid to broach the risks that young girls on the cusp are subject to in these unruly times. Both physical violence and dangerous sexual attraction are broached in this tale. Poet Frank Prem.
Beautifully written and poetic fantasy novel that perfectly sustains mystery and drama throughout the pages. The characters are very vivid and the world is rich in detail and atmosphere. Marjorie is excellent at painting imaginative and believable scenes with words and magic. A fantastic debut! Looking forward to her next book. Author/Illustrator Alina Surnaite
Here are a couple of beautiful images from the wonderfully talented Carolina Russo created for me of my characters – Esme – The Mirror Girl… and Eruterac – The Creature.
M J Mallon was born in Lion city Singapore, a passionate Scorpio with the Chinese Zodiac sign of a lucky rabbit. She spent her early childhood in Hong Kong. During her teen years, she returned to her father’s childhood home, Edinburgh where she spent many happy years, entertained and enthralled by her parents’ vivid stories of living and working abroad. Perhaps it was during these formative years that her love of writing began inspired by their vivid storytelling. She counts herself lucky to have travelled to many far-flung destinations and this early wanderlust has fuelled her present desire to emigrate abroad. Until that wondrous moment, it’s rumoured that she lives in the UK, in the Venice of Cambridge with her six-foot hunk of a rock god husband. Her two enchanting daughters have flown the nest but often return with a cheery, heart-warming smile to greet her.
MJ’s writing credits also include a multi-genre approach: paranormal, best-selling horror, supernatural short stories, flash fiction, and poetry. She worked with some amazing authors and bloggers compiling an anthology/compilation set during the early stages of COVID-19 entitled This Is Lockdown and she has written a spin off poetry collection, Lockdown Innit.
She’s been blogging for many moons at her blog home Kyrosmagica, (which means Crystal Magic,) where she celebrates the spiritual realm,her love of nature, crystals and all things magical, mystical, and mysterious.
MJ’s motto is…
To always do what you Love, stay true to your heart’s desires, and inspire others to do so too, even if it appears that the odds are stacked against you like black hearted shadows.
Her favourite genre to write is
Fantasy/magical realism because life would be dull unless it is sprinkled with a liberal dash of extraordinarily imaginative magic!
So excited about Bloodstone and happy to say that I am making great progress on the sequel which I hope to submit to Next Chapter Publishing soon.
Please comment below with your thoughts on the 2nd edition of this first book in the Curse of Time series.
Hi Alex welcome to my blog. It’s great to be able to return the favour, and to thank you for the lovely feature interview you did for me recently on your blog.
Alex Pearl is an extremely shortsighted copywriter, author, ghost writer, travel writer & artist.
MJ: I love the premise of your YA novel Sleeping with the Blackbirds – a darkly humorous modern fairy tale story – which tackles many important topics: bullies, homelessness, single mums and abusive parents. How did you get the idea for the story?
ALEX: That’s a tricky one. The story came to me gradually, and the circumstances in which it was written was fairly bizarre. I was working for an ad agency at the time that was going through a global merger, and work dried up while this was all going on. So I had time to think about my first book. Strangely enough, the title came to me before the story became fully formed. And the rough outline of the story involving the schoolboy Roy Nuttersley leading a miserable life with awful parents and school bullies looming large in his life, and of course, the birds who try to assist him – these were ideas that I had in my head before I started writing the thing. I think the idea of a young boy and birds may have come to me because my son at that time used to imitate seagulls, and he was quite brilliant at it. And it’s no coincidence that we have a 400 year-old-oak tree that towers over our own garden, just as one does in Roy Nuttersley’s. But the details of the story evolved as I wrote it. That said, the ending to the story, which many people didn’t see coming and seem to have enjoyed, came to me before I’d started writing it. So it was a case of knowing how it started and how it ended but not knowing much else until I started to write.
MJ: I believe your debut was published in 2011. Are you surprised at how your writing path has changed/developed since then?
ALEX: Not really. I’m a bit of a chameleon, probably because of my background in advertising and the fact that copywriters are always briefed to adopt a certain tone of voice that is suitable for the audience they are addressing. So for instance, you’d write in a certain formal style when talking about an investment trust to readers of The Telegraph, and a very different lighter tone of voice when talking about Smarties to children and mums. And my approach to writing books is the same. I’d like to have a go at any genre.
MJ: On your Amazon profile, I was amused to read that you are perhaps the only human being on this planet to have been inadvertently locked in a record shop on Christmas Eve. How did this happen? And did you manage to have your Christmas dinner?
ALEX: To this day, I’m not entirely sure how it happened. All I can remember is stepping into the shop in broad daylight. I think it must have been about 4.00 in the afternoon. So it wasn’t even normal closing time. I don’t remember hearing people locking up or anything like that. But that’s what they obviously did. And strangely enough, all the lights were left on. So when I finally found the record I was wanting to buy and discovered nobody behind the till my first reaction was one of mild annoyance. Then when coughing loudly and profusely still produced no results, I went behind the till myself and into a back room that was empty. At this point I gave up all hope of spending my pocket money and marched over to the front door and on yanking it hard to get out, nearly pulled my arm off. It was locked. Only then did I realise the full horror of the situation. But thankfully, I’d spotted a telephone in the back room (this was well before mobile phones had been invented), and I called my father who duly called the police, who in turn tracked down a caretaker who lived in Mile End and took over an hour to finally show up with keys to unlock me from my temporary prison. So in answer to your question, yes, thankfully I did get my Christmas dinner. But it must have been a miserable Christmas for the staff who I learned later, were fired.
MJ: Since you were an advertising copywriter, if I were to ask you to write your own slogan, what would it say?
ALEX: Aha! The advertising slogan question. I actually hate slogans. The best ads don’t actually have them. But that’s a subject for another day. I’d settle for something funny. There’s a lovely piece of graffiti that I’d love to have written: ‘Smile they said. Things could be worse. So he did. And they were.’ It doesn’t say anything about me exactly, but its delicious, deadpan irony is the kind of thing I love. So it does tell you something about me indirectly I guess. I suppose I haven’t really answered your question. Hey ho, or ‘La-di-da’ as Dianne Keaton says in Woody Allen’s Annie Hall.
MJ: You mention that you are a slow writer, I relate! Is that because you get distracted? What is the slowest aspect of the writing process for you, or perhaps the most difficult part.
ALEX: I get distracted, I procrastinate, I put things off. I’m just generally a bit shambolic and disorganised. And then when I write I tend to take time; writing and rewriting. I’ve read that Douglas Adams used to go backwards and forwards like this and used to end up with mountains of screwed up paper in his bin, which I find reassuring. The hardest and slowest part for me is the planning stage. For my first book ‘Sleeping with the Blackbirds’ planning took up almost as much time as writing. For my second ‘The Chair Man’ planning and research took me for ever – far longer than it took to write the thing. This said, ‘Blackbirds’ didn’t require any research at all. With ‘The Chair Man’ I had to look into the ways terrorists communicated in 2005. It’s not an easy subject to research as you can imagine. But I did find an obscure book written by academics in America that delved into this. I also had to find out about GCHQ and MI5, which again are difficult subjects to research for obvious reasons. Then, of course, I had to get the politics right. So all in all it was something of a challenge.
MJ: I love your book covers. Do you get much input into choosing them? And are you swayed by enticing covers yourself? What are your favourite cover/s and book/s.
ALEX: I’m glad you mentioned that. I’m very fortunate to have a good friend who is a serious, professional advertising photographer. He photographed and designed both my covers. I love his work, so it’s a bit of a no-brainer using John because you know whatever he produces is going to be fantastic. For ‘Sleeping with the Blackbirds’ he took an atmospheric shot on Hampstead Heath and used an excellent typographer to design a special typeface for the title.
And for ‘The Chair Man’ he created this strong silhouette in the studio and again used a special typeface to create the title. Interestingly, John used a similar silhouette technique for the film poster he shot for Guy Ritchie’s ‘Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.’
MJ: Awesome! I love the black and white style that you use on your blog to platform so many authors. How did that come about? What made you choose that style?
ALEX: Thank you, Marjorie. I wanted to keep the style of the website simple, consistent and stylish. So I deliberately kept the typeface reasonably large sans serif in grey, which always looks classy, and decided that all portraits should be in black and white. Besides creating a distinctive house look, it also gives the books the prominence they need, as they are always reproduced in full colour. Many people have commented on the look of the site, and some love the fact that it’s so very readable. There’s nothing worse than having to squint at tiny type on the screen that you have to blow up.
SLEEPING WITH THE BLACKBIRDS
Eleven-year-old schoolboy, Roy Nuttersley has been dealt a pretty raw deal. While hideous parents show him precious little in the way of love and affection, school bullies make his life a misery. So Roy takes comfort in looking after the birds in his garden, and in return the birds hatch a series of ambitious schemes to protect their new friend. As with the best-laid plans, however, these get blown completely off course – and as a result the lives of both Roy and his arch tormentor, Harry Hodges are turned upside down – but in a surprisingly good way.
“Wonderful images and thought-provoking scenes.” Bramwell Tovey, composer & broadcaster
“The strength of the author’s voice held me captivated long after turning the last page. With the wit of JK Rowling, Alex Pearl has definitely earned his place in the young adult fiction hall of fame.” Lisa McCombs, Readers’ Favorite
“A delightful fairy story that deals sensitively and compellingly with modern-day issues like homelessness, single mums and abusive parents.” George Layton, actor, screenwriter and bestselling author.
THE CHAIR MAN
Michael Hollinghurst is a successful corporate lawyer living a comfortable, suburban life in leafy North West London. But on 7 July 2005, his life is transformed when he steps on a London underground train targeted by Islamist suicide bombers. While most passengers in his carriage are killed, Michael survives the explosion but is confined to a wheelchair as a result.
Coming to terms with his predicament and controlling his own feelings of guilt as a survivor conspire to push him in a direction that is out of character and a tad reckless. In a quest to seek retribution, he resorts to embracing the internet and posing as a radical Islamist in order to snare potential perpetrators. Much to his surprise, his shambolic scheme yields results and is brought to the attention of both GCHQ and a terrorist cell. But before long, dark forces begin to gather and close in on him. There is seemingly no way out for Michael Hollinghurst. He has become, quite literally, a sitting target.”The nearest I ever got to a “terrorist incident” was in East London, when I heard the IRA bomb go off in Docklands in 1996. I cannot predict my reaction were I to be caught up personally in such events, but I hope I would not go the same way as Michael Hollinghurst, the central figure in this entertaining and elaborately plotted novel. It is a gripping thriller that repays careful and close reading (and I will certainly read it again).” Graham Smith
MJ: If you could share your experiences and thoughts whilst writing The Chair Man? ALEX: Once I had worked out the story in some detail and written a synopsis, and had taken copious notes from research sources both online and from books, I felt able to start writing. And the writing process is far more enjoyable and liberating than the planning and research, which I don’t especially enjoy. But it’s the ammunition I need – a kind of road map if you like. Without it I just don’t know where I’m going and I simply don’t have the confidence to write. I envy people who are pantsters and can just sit down and write. I just can’t do it. I tried it once and after 15,000 words I dried up. I still have the unfinished manuscript somewhere. My daughter nagged me for ages to finish it, so I wrote ‘Sleeping with the Blackbirds’ instead. MJ: I believe The Chair Man is your thriller debut. Have you any plans to write any more thrillers and if so what topic/backdrop do you plan to use? ALEX: I knew you’d ask me that. I really want to write a sequel to ‘The Chair Man’ but am struggling to come up with a storyline that I’m happy with. I know how the first half of the novel kicks off, but it’s the last two thirds that have so far eluded me. Perhaps I’ll resolve it. We’ll see. MJ: How did you become an author? And do you think it has changed you? ALEX: It just happened. I suppose I’ve always toyed with the idea of writing fiction, but never really had the confidence that I could do it. But once you have an idea in your head, writing it isn’t actually that difficult. Has it changed me? No. Not one bit. MJ: Have you a favourite character in The Chair Man? Or a particular character that you had great difficulty developing, or who altered in a way you did not expect. ALEX: That’s a really good question. And the answer is yes. Surprisingly, I ended up liking one of the terrorists Qssim who is a very complex character. I originally intended him to be pretty nasty, which he is initially. But as the book develops his character develops, too and he becomes a much more sympathetic character that you can relate to. It’s interesting that some readers find him more likeable than the protagonist who is a victim of a terrorist attack.
MJ: What are your writing plans for the future? ALEX: If I can plan a sequel to ‘The Chair Man’ I will definitely write it. Time will tell. I’m also planning to get back into painting, which I haven’t done for many years. I used to paint large abstract paintings on glass and exhibit them. I’m hoping to produce enough new pieces for an exhibition in the next year or two. You can view some of my work here: http://glasspaintingsbyalexpearl.weebly.com
Wow, I’m impressed! And so jealous, I wish I could paint.
MJ. Is there one marketing tip you would like to share? ALEX: I’m no expert at marketing. But I have found that offering a free ebook and using services like The Fussy Librarian to promote it can be quite effective. I have seen around 800 copies downloaded in one day. But services do vary. Ereader News Today managed to shift 1,000 copies on one occasion and only 300 on another. I was rather pleased with myself when I placed a free ad on Nextdoor.co.uk for residents of NW3 which is the postcode where my thriller is set. Doing so led to 100 downloads in a day and three reviews. And that cost me nothing.
Alex’s first novel ‘Sleeping with the Blackbirds’, a darkly humorous urban fantasy, written for children and young adults, was initially published by PenPress in 2011. It has since become a Kindle bestseller in the US. In 2014, his fictionalised account of the first British serviceman to be executed for cowardice during the First World War was published by Mardibooks in its anthology, ‘The Clock Struck War’. A selection of his blog posts is also available in paperback under the title ‘Random Ramblings of a Short-sighted Blogger.’ In 2019, his psychological thriller, ‘The Chair Man’ that is set in London in 2005 following the terrorist attack on its public transport system, was published as an ebook by Fizgig Press. The paperback followed in 2020. Alex lives in NW London with his wife and two children who are far smarter than their old man. He is quite possibly the only human being on this planet to have been inadvertently locked in a record shop on Christmas Eve.
A lovely heartfelt book explaining the author’s experiences with thoughts from her pregnancy, the early years to the difficulties of the teen years, culminating in her child’s coming out.
I particularly loved the poems: Rainbow Bridges, Perfectly Different and the illustrations the author had created within Bi The Way.
It was touching to learn how Sarah Northwood’s child chose to come out to her and how this felt.
The author gives advice how to support your young person and explains the terms: bisexuality, non-binary, use of pronouns, genderfluid, transgender, gender dysphoria and the ways to make children feel welcome and accepted regarded of their gender, or sexuality.
The main aim of the book is to promote understanding, tolerance and to lessen psychological damage by non-acceptance from parents/friends/community. A worthy aim, which I am happy to support too.
There is a useful resources section at the back with links followed by notable LGBT dates to celebrate.
A lovely book full of warmth, love and understanding.
Thank you so much to Sally Cronin for this wonderful promotional New Book On The Shelves post for the rebranded new edition of Bloodstone, The Curse of Time Book 1. My magical YA fantasy inspired by two amazing sculptural artworks: the Corpus Christi Chronophage clock in Cambridge England and the magnificent crystal grotto created by Anya Gallaccio’s The Light That Pours Out of Me in Juniper Artland in Scotland.
Thanks to Sally for adding the 5 star review from Sarah Northwood.
An author’s life can get somewhat manic at times. Recently, I travelled up to Edinburgh to see my family. I was so looking forward to a break, a chance to unwind, spend time with mum, dad, my brother, friends and my MIL.
Here I am with mum and dad in the beautiful botanical gardens in Edinburgh.
Whilst on holiday the inevitable happened, I had this feeling it would. My publisher Next Chapter asked me to check all the files for publishing! And to do this within five days.
This wouldn’t have been too bad if there was one file but there were 9 in total including clear print, (which I have no clue what this is for?) epub, mobi, large print, hardback, and a range of different sizes too.
All very impressive, beautifully formatted and edited but a little voice cried out but… I’m meant to be on holiday… this will take me forever!
Forget it sucker. Writers don’t ever get holidays.
Next up, what next? My eldest daughter Natasha has been ill for a couple of days and it turns out she and her friends have covid. What? So, crank up my worry notch ten thousand paces. I couldn’t see her for 10 days – most of my holiday. She was alone in her flat in Glasgow and was running out of food. Crank up the worry notch even more. Luckily, the kind guys on reception took her online order up to her flat and left it for her by her door.
Apparently the first four days of her covid experience involved nasty coughing, temperature, vomiting and other nasties. Thank goodness she is well now.
After the fellows at Track and Trace gave her the all clear I popped over to Glasgow to see her and stayed in her student flat. That was an eye opener – I didn’t sleep for two nights. There was a fantastic reggae party going on somewhere – I wish I’d been invited – I loved reggae as a youngster! And the sea gulls were joining in too, squawking merrily. The upstairs flat were doing some kind of odd manoeuvres in the middle of the night. Natasha slept through it all – obviously used to it – exhausted post covid with ear plugs in.
Nevertheless, Natasha and I still managed to have a couple of days fun in Glasgow.
We went to Hanoi Bike Shop, a tasty Vietnamese restaurant where we tried the surprise menu with extra spice! We didn’t know what was coming but it was great and fun to try new things.
We went for a walk afterwards…
Natasha’s moving to Edinburgh (she’s starting her teaching job in August – whoop, whoop so proud to have a Secondary English teacher in the family, and delighted that my youngest daughter Georgina has been awarded her degree a 2.1 in Fashion with Business Management.)
I offered to help take some of Natasha’s endless coats and books through. My suitcase handle decided not to work all the way from her flat to the station. We missed the train by a few minutes, (no way was she able to run as she was still a bit weak after covid,) so we waited for the next one. As soon as we sat down the suitcase handle decided to pop up! I asked some advice from the train staff about the validity of my ticket and he called me pal – this is Glaswegian style for mate, like hen (which is a common colloquialism in parts of Scotland,) this brought back memories of my student days in Glasgow!
Now, here’s the thing, we are told to keep apart, mask up, etc, etc. But the train was packed! There were two young girls on board who thought showing off their perfectly applied make up counted as more imperative than wearing a mask. And there was a guy too – unmasked, but no make up – I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt perhaps he had an exemption?
So, long story short I’m back home now. Back at work. What else can happen? Oh, a small matter of losing 22 reviews on Amazon…
Republishing my debut has had its problems. Sneaky metadata and a title change has caused Amazon to treat this new edition like an all new spanking new book but without the benefit of a new book’s promotion.
And this message from BookBub: The new edition of Bloodstone (The Curse Of Time Book 1) has now been added to your profile. I want to share that previously published works are not eligible for New Releases for Less or New Release Alerts. I’m sorry about this.
Laughing hysterically! Not to worry, I’ve got this.
I like a challenge.
So, please… I’d love some help with reviews…. and you can call me whatever you want…. hen, chick, pal, whatever.
Bloodstone is available for free on kindle unlimited… and on Amazon outlets. Here’s the link:
Well, I’m absolutely delighted! Thank you to everyone who has supported me in this journey. A big thank you to all those who have believed in me, read my books, beta read for me, reviewed and encouraged me, I would not be where I am without your support.
My YA Fantasy Bloodstone is now available to purchase on Amazon in kindle, (free – kindle unlimited,) and in paperback and large print edition – Thank you Next Chapter Publishing. MyBook link: http://mybook.to/bstmm Amazon Preview Link: https://amzn.eu/iwyO8p3
Fifteen-year-old Amelina Scott lives in Cambridge with her dysfunctional family, a mysterious black cat, and an unusual girl who is 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 path where she encounters Ryder: a charismatic, perplexing stranger.
With the help of a magical paint set and some crystal wizard stones, can Amelina discover the truth about her family?
A unique, imaginative mystery full of magic-wielding and dark elements, Bloodstone is a riveting adventure for anyone interested in fantasy, mythology or the world of the paranormal.
Most people would call our existence strange, but this is more than that; this deserves a headline. We’re not spectacular enough to feature on the national or international news, but we warranted a column in the local newspaper headed by seven not so lucky words: Missing Father Returns After Weird Aging Phenomenon. I’m glad that our short-lived fame died and the paparazzi, (what a joke,) got bored with us. Now we can get back to the day to day living if you can call it that. We live in a typical suburb of Cambridge in an untypical house. It’s no bungalow, the floors just go on and on, and so do the rumours about us. When I say we, I mean our strange extended family comprising mature, tantrum-prone Mum, Dad (alias: old man before his time), teenage me, the most stable of us all (I think), and self-harming Esme, who isn’t my sister but might as well be. I could write a whole book devoted to her alone. Oh, and I forgot to mention our permanent house guest, Shadow, a black cat of inde‐ terminate age and parentage who arrived one day and never left. The rest of the inhabitants of our household (except perhaps for me and Shadow, although his status is open to debate) are dysfunctional, weirded-out characters.
I have to cope with a lot (and that’s an understatement), so I resort to painting, rock-and-roll, collecting crystals, and writing songs and poetry. I enjoy writing haiku, a Japanese form of poetry with three lines and some syllables to count. It soothes me. I write Tanka too; adding two longer lines at the end, which soothes me more. Each poetic puzzle I jot down serves as a clue for less afflicted folk to decipher what the hell I am talking about. So, what am I talking about? The trouble is I don’t know; I’m still muddling through. Although I expect it’s a cry for help (a yell), combined with me dissecting the details about Mum’s life, Dad’s existence and his disappearance, Esme’s imprisonment, and Shad‐ ow’s ability to appear and reappear at a moment’s notice. And that’s saying nothing about living in a house that feels like a living being! Yes, I joke to stay sane. That’s a lot to process (sorry), and it’s only a fraction, a haiku tidbit, so let’s keep it simple but poetic and start with a view.
And don’t forget to add it to your Goodreads to read list:
It’s been a lot of hard work and no peace for the wicked!
I am busy editing the second book for release next and looking into a blog tour company to create some buzz for Bloodstone’s official release.
In the meantime, if you can help by sharing, getting the word out and reviewing, (I know many of you lovelies have already read the original edition and your reviews will hopefully be re-added soon via the powers that be at Amazon! I believe Next Chapter is in touch with them…
I will be celebrating today with my lovely daughter who has had covid but is now better and passed her quarantine.
Thank heavens, what stressful times. I hope you and your loved ones are saying safe and well.
At fifteen, she made a life-changing decision. Thirty years on, it’s time to make another.
When Diana escaped her misfit childhood, she thought she’d chosen the easier path. But the past lingers on, etched beneath her skin, and life won’t be worth living if her secret gets out.
As an adult, she’s kept other people at a distance… until Simon sweeps in on a cloud of promise and possibility. But his work is taking him to Cairo, the city that transformed her life. She’ll lose Simon if she doesn’t join him. She’ll lose herself if she does.
Sugar and Snails charts Diana’s unusual journey, revealing the scars from her fight to be true to herself. A triumphant mid-life coming-of-age story about bridging the gap between who we are and who we feel we ought to be.
This is the first book I’ve read from Anne Goodwin. Sugar and Snails is her debut novel and what an impressive story it is. Anne draws upon her psychiatric knowledge to write a narrative which is absorbing, poignant and intriguing.
To begin with we are introduced to Diana a 40 something Professor living a life of solitude with her much loved cat Marmaduke (who almost takes on the role of a life partner – she can’t bare to part with him.) Diana begins looking for love and hopes to find it with Simon.
But Simon doesn’t know her secret…
As the story progresses we learn that there is so much more to this novel – discovering Diana’s past and her decision at the tender age of 15 to change gender. So this is both a coming-of-age story as well as an exploration of mid-life and gender issues. There are shifting time periods and settings in different cultures: (Cairo, Egypt and North Derbyshire, and Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, in England,) which interweave the story in a confident way.
The characters of Diana’s mother and in particular her father are also carefully and brilliantly crafted.
My recommendation: Highly recommended. You will love this story if you enjoy thoughtful stories about gender, family relationships, psychiatric/mental health/self-harm issues, secrets and regrets and the search for love and acceptance.
Thank you so much to the author for a complimentary copy which I was pleased to receive. I happily give my unbiased opinion.
My rating: 5 stars.
Anne Goodwin writes entertaining fiction about identity, mental health and social justice. She is the author of three novels and short story collection published by small independent press, Inspired Quill. Her debut novel, Sugar and Snails, was shortlisted for the 2016 Polari First Book Prize. Her new novel, Matilda Windsor Is Coming Home, is inspired by her previous incarnation as a clinical psychologist in a long-stay psychiatric hospital.
For my forthcoming YA Fantasy release in the Curse of Time series.
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.
More news soon, edits have been done and sent to Next Chapter Publishing, next up finalising the layout phase.
Next Chapter’s wonderful ethos:
“If you can dream it, you can do it.”
— Patricia Gligor
Some details about Next Chapter Publishing:
Previously known as Creativia, Next Chapter was founded 2012 in Helsinki, Finland. Today, we are a fully remote team with offices in Japan and the United Kingdom.
They have achieved: No. 1 Bestsellers in all major Amazon categories (Mystery, Thriller, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Horror, Historical Fiction, Young Adult Fiction, Westerns, Nonfiction)
Book translations to 9 foreign languages
Featured in high-profile newsletters such as BookBub and eReader News Today
Average reviews of 4.2 – 4.3 stars in Amazon marketplaces
Official BookBub Partner
So, I am very excited to be a Next Chapter Author!
Comments on the new cover would be most welcome. I really love it. Cover art by Cover Mint.
Share Some Secrets, is a story that encourages children to think about the secrets they should and shouldn’t keep, encouraging them to speak out without fear, by giving praise. The story is also available on audio and free to download. Synopsis: The story begins with Mum, (Emily) telling the family about a surprise party for Granny, and that it’s a secret that she would like them all to keep. Billy notices that Milly is always quiet, after their Uncle has visited. Billy encourages Milly to share her secret which she eventually shares with her teacher. The issue is addressed and Milly is praised by the teacher and her family. The story ends with a surprise party for Granny.
I am glad to be able to review and share my opinion on such an important topic handled with great kindness and sensitivity. The message of Share Some Secrets is implied through picture rhyming audio and in paperback (for ages around 5 – 8 year old.) The emphasis is on praise – encouraging the child to come forward and share their secret and not to be afraid to do so.
The publication has been endorsed by the NSPCC and Barnardo’s.
In the story Milly is finding is hard to say what her secret is but with the help of her kind brother Billy she manages to get the help she needs.
The illustrations by Ric Lumb accompanying the text enhance the message well. Making it easy for young children to understand how important it is to speak out – even if that secret is embarrassing or distressing – or involves a person in a position of trust, such as a family member.
The story ends on a happy note and there is a short but all important reminder at the end about how important it is to share your secret.
This should be used as a teaching aid in all schools so that children can understand that is okay to speak out and to get help.
My recommendation: Highly recommended. 5 stars
Thank you to the author Christina Gabbitas for gifting me a copy. I happily give my unbiased and considered review.
I have also reviewed another title from Christina Gabbitas – No More Knives.
4.5 stars Confession… I’ve never read Amanda Prouse before – which puts me in the minority. This is the final book in the No Greater Love series. I haven’t read the rest of the series but could engage with the story and the characters without any trouble.
Will You Remember Me was such a moving and sad read. There were times when I had to pause, cry, take a break and then read on. What struck me most about this novel is how painful it must be for young cancer patients to cope with the thought of leaving their family and loved ones behind. I can’t imagine anything more devastating. And it is clear that Amanda Prouse wrote this novel with these thoughts in mind.
You could feel Poppy’s pain on learning about her diagnosis, her determination to carry on and fight it alone by keeping the terrible news from her much loved husband. Of course, as her sickness grows this becomes impossible to hide and impossible to do.
There were other details, a long lost family member in St. Lucia – which added a much needed break and a way for Poppy perhaps to come to terms with her fate and to accept that we all die but perhaps it is how we live and how we forgive that makes the difference.
The male characters in the novel: her son, (being so young,) and (to a degree,) her husband are not quite as detailed and fade a bit into the background. The character spotlight is and should be on Poppy, she pulls at your heart strings. I also found her daughter Peg to be very engaging and a much needed source of light and hope in what is after all a dark tale.
Thank you so much to the author for a signed copy. All opinions are my own and unbiased.
My recommendation: I enjoy and appreciate stories that tug at the heartstrings. A highly recommended and emotional read.
I absolutely love this collection. So imaginative to photograph images from a second hand shop and write poetry about them! The objects Frank Prem finds are so unusual. Here are some of my favourites in the collection: Ain’t nothing – half naked gnomes suspended from the ceiling. Too much – a mask face! so funny. My Dance card. Manby – then it changed – sad and so true. Liked – about a stuffed toy. Chill Factor – about a glass head. What remains has a sadness to it and refers to a naked discarded doll. We do not/You do not. Who Knew is imaginative and funny. Who the poem about the discarded things that look like Dr Who Dalaks. Two fruit themes: Your Friend, and The Hot Chili Brothers Band. Such a cute one about paintbrushes: the one. Reminiscent of childhood: at me I’m flying. For Cinderella fans with a twist : where the (cinder)- ell-a you. wisdom (1) and wisdom (2) wisdom (3) ethnic figure heads about light and dark. And what adornment for you. Such an eclectic and quirky book! Highly recommended.
I’m very behind on my blog reviews… so here is a fantastic poetry book I read some time ago from P. J Reed.
I didn’t know what to expect as I haven’t read poems from P J Reed before. I was interested to see that some of the poems in Flicker are about COVID19, a subject which I have also written about too.
There are observations of a child standing apart from a long lost friend. The impact of closure of public toilets. Overheard conversations from disbelieving binmen. The UK governments eat out to help out scheme. Nature’s revival in roaming wildlife seen in our streets during the first Lockdown in March. Hoarding of toilet rolls and the impact of selfishness on the vulnerable. Poetic commentary about the public’s inability to wear face masks properly, and amusing face mask faux pas!
There are so many wonderful poems expressed in so few words. The power of poetry at it’s best!
Such a great variety of poems – poetic observations about plastic surgery, homeless men, the blessing and curse of social media, modern war, the authors rescue dogs, tourist watching abroad, magical observations of the moon, sea and nature, to light-hearted and amusing coffee shop anecdotes.
Plus a wonderful intro by Karen Jones.
My recommendation: a fantastic collection of poetry. I loved it.
Congratulations to Ruchira Khanna for her latest release which I am thrilled to announce today…
The Other Wife: A Twisted Tale By Ruchira Khanna
The Other Wife: A Twisted Tale
Dimple is at the peak of her career when a devastating event changes her whole life. Amidst legal battles, she finds love and takes a decision that will change her life yet again. But will that decision go well with her parents?
Will, there be a happily-ever-after for Dimple and her beau, or will she need to accept the other wife? The Other Wife is a twisted tale sure to entertain as well as make you introspect.
“You don’t get it, Dimple. You’ve changed so much that I don’t even know you sometimes,” Rishi said in an agitated voice and turned his back to me.
My tears felt hot and prickly as they touched my cheeks. “Just breathe, Dimple. Just breathe!” I muttered to myself.
I continued contemplating the day’s events and realized that I found my husband and the circumstances were to blame, so I was baffled as to why he condemned me.
Then I tried to play the whole scenario with the old me he had fallen in love with, but I couldn’t find her within. I twisted and turned in the tiny space I had courtesy my better half, who had taken most of the bed.
No such luck!
The back-and-forth search made my tears stop, but the drama continued within. Even though my eyes were shut, my mind was in a turmoil. The scene looked like a Presidential debate where both the candidates—my mind and the circumstances—were speaking simultaneously, not giving my intellect any reason. Amidst the chaos, I didn’t realize when my mind hit the snooze button.
I turned around and, with a frown, greeted the girl back.
“Aren’t you, Dimple?” she said.
“Umm, yes, I am. How do you know me? Who are you?”
“I am Pearl,” she said with a broad smile that showed off her even teeth just like mine. Although hers sparkled like in a toothpaste advertisement.
“Okay, but who are you?” I asked, quite irritated at this rude interruption as if she had just pinched me hard.
“I am Rishi’s wife.” Her manner was cool, the way a cucumber mask gives coolness when peeled off the face.
“Rishi who?” I inquired with a frown, a little confused about where she was leading with this.
“Rishi Malhotra. Yes, you heard it right. I am your Rishi’s wife.”
About the Author
A Biochemist turned writer who gathers inspiration from the society where she writes about issues that stalk the mind of the man via tales of fiction. She projects the mental growth of her characters thus, making her readers tag her work as, “Books that make you ponder!”
She blogs at Abracabadra which has been featured as “Top Blog” for three years. Many of her write-ups have been published on LifeHack, HubPages to name a few.
Are you ready to learn how to craft Japanese and American poetry? Consider this book the first step on your journey to learning the basics of how to craft syllabic poetry. Inside, you will discover many new forms, syllable combinations, and interpretations of the different Japanese and American forms and structures of haiku, senryu, haiga, tanka, renga/solo renga, gogyohka, haibun, tanka prose, the cinquain, and its variations, Etheree, nonet, and shadorma poetry.
So… what are you waiting for? Let’s craft syllabic poetry together!
This is a comprehensive guide covering both American and Japanese poetry including Haiku, Senryu, Haiga, Tanka, Gogyohka, Haibun, Renga, Crapsey Cinquain Etheree, Nonet, Shadorma, and variations, as well as examples of all the forms and recaps to refresh the memory too.
It is written in such a way that it is easy to understand and get the most from.
The Art of Crafting Syllabic Poetry begins with an introduction to how Colleen’s journey began – her poetry community, and goes on to discuss definitions of “meter, syllable, and stresses,” and the hard work required to find your creative soul. She suggests ways to encourage creativity, and talks about figurative language too.
It is clear that author Colleen Chesebro has put her heart and soul into this guide and loves helping others to be the best poets they can be. She runs a wonderful community of poets with weekly prompts, (which again must be an incredible amount of work,) and is now expanding her repertoire to include online submissions to her poetry venture with poet JulesPaige. Colleen is also a co-editor of “Word Weaving, a Word Craft Journal of Syllabic Verse,” at wordweavingpoetryjournal.com more about that below in her Bio.
What an incredible amount of work, dedication and research has gone into this book and into everything that Colleen Chesebro does.
It is a wonderful resource for both new students of poetry to learn and to refer to whilst writing poetry and for old hands, (such as me,) to jog our memories and to avoid making careless mistakes about the forms!
There is a bibliography at the end with the names/links/detail of all the poets who have contributed to the anthology. I’m delighted that my #Garland #Cinquain poem is included amongst this section along with so many awesome contributions from poetry community members.
My recommendation: This is a fabulous book, and one that Colleen Chesebro should be very proud of.
5 stars. I’ll be buying a paperback to use as a resource.
Colleen M. Chesebro is a Michigan Poet who loves crafting syllabic poetry, flash fiction, and creative fiction and nonfiction. Colleen sponsors a weekly poetry challenge, called Tanka Tuesday, on wordcraftpoetry.com where participants learn how to write traditional and current forms of syllabic poetry.
Along with JulesPaige, Colleen is also a co-editor of “Word Weaving, a Word Craft Journal of Syllabic Verse,” at wordweavingpoetryjournal.com. The debut issue of this journal will publish in October 2021.
Colleen’s syllabic poetry has appeared in various other online publications. Recently, she created the Double Ennead, a 99-syllable poetry form for Carrot Ranch. Colleen’s poetry has poetry in various anthologies and journals including “Hedgerow-a journal of small poems,” and “Poetry Treasures,” a collection of poetry from the poet/author guests of Robbie Cheadle on the “Treasuring Poetry” blog series on “Writing to be Read” in 2020.
Colleen published “Word Craft: Prose & Poetry, The Art of Crafting Syllabic Poetry,” which illustrates how to write various syllabic poetry forms used in her Tanka Tuesday challenges; and a collection of poetry, flash fiction, and short stories called, “Fairies, Myths & Magic: A Summer Celebration,” dedicated to the Summer Solstice. She contributed a short story called “The Changeling,” in the “Ghostly Rites Anthology 2020,” published by Plaisted Publishing House.
Is Jackson Thwaite ready to discover the secret of Makewright Orphanage? Although he doesn’t know it, he has been selected to be part of something vital to the land of his birth.
Norlandia is a country under threat, as never before. The old heroes are but a memory, while evil forces gather, seeking power. They are armed with the latest devices that perverted science has devised. Control of Norlandia and everyone in it is their ultimate aim.
Who will stand in their way?
Under the command of the mysterious Mortimer Langdon, all that stands between civilisation and anarchy are Jackson and the rest of The Orphan Detectives.
Beta readers comments.
“A fantastical world filled with gears, pneumatics, airships, and intrigue aplenty that kept everyone on their toes. It has that rare ability to pull you deep into the story even when things are building and moving slowly, you sit down to read for a few minutes and all of a sudden; its hours later!”
Is Jackson Thwaite ready to discover the secret of Makewright Orphanage? Although he doesn’t know it, he has been selected to be part of something vital to the land of his birth.
I was curious to discover more about steampunk… and this has confirmed how interesting and different this genre is.
The Sensaurum and The Lexis is a Steampunk Spying mission story set in Norlandia with lots of fascinating details, secrets and discoveries.
You can expect… unscrupulous scientific experimentation, artificial limbs, flying machines, The Watchmen, (law of Norlandia,) a beast called the Drogan, spy accouterments, (007 for orphans!) the Rotaplane, walking exo-men, and other such imaginative wonders. Oaths to be made, secrets and lessons to be learnt, the ever-present fear of discovery, or dying on duty, as well as shameful moments to boot!
The main character Jackson Thwaite’s father and mother die in a terrible accident in a factory whilst making artificial limbs for the government. Intriguing, or what? Fellow spy Jessemine Batterlee is plucky and resourceful!
Relationships are forged and questioned – Is it a good idea to fall in love if you are a spy?
Richard Dee does a great job world building and creating wonderfully engaging characters.
Really loved this. Great story and great fun! 5 stars. Highly recommended.
Abigail has always struggled with the voices. From the relentless tyranny a woman faces on an antebellum plantation to the unknown prison camps in America during World War II, our heroine discovers the past in a way that changes her future.
Moments from the past serve as guiding posts for the country’s growth, and also mark the transitions for Abigail’s own personal history. Her best friend, Margaret, partners with Abigail to discover the identity of the mysterious voices, while focusing on her passion and quest to become a United States senator.
Through it all, a serial killer torments the country, romance blossoms between people they meet during the journey, and long-buried secrets come to light in devastating ways. As elements twist, numbers align and spiritual powers connect, no one will be the same again.
Weathering Old Souls is definitely different from anything I’ve read before. It begins with a murder ( there is a serial killer, called the Fashionista.) An undercurrent of uncertainty and fear continues – there is a murderer on the loose but Abigail’s behaviour is so odd too, driving her father to distraction. I was particularly drawn to how Abigail could connect to her past lives in such a striking way.
The relationship she has with her father is not an easy one and she relies heavily on neighbours for emotional support. She becomes especially close to Margaret and the two women are both strong, interesting characters.
I liked the spiritual/metaphysical aspect of this novel and it is not something I have come across before. Perhaps I should read more books like this!
A detailed novel, written by two authors James Cudney and Didi Oviatt and yet the writing is seamless as if it were just one person writing.
I’d recommend this novel if you enjoy stories that combine more than one genre – in a way that is different from the norm.
Highly recommended. My rating 5 stars.
Didi Oviatt is an intuitive soul. She’s a wife and mother first, with one son and one daughter. Her thirst to write was developed at an early age, and she never looked back. After digging down deep and getting in touch with her literary self, she’s writing mystery/thrillers like Search for Maylee, Justice for Belle, Aggravated Momentum, and Sketch, along with multiple short story collections. She’s collaborated with Kim Knight in an ongoing interactive short story anthology, The Suspenseful Collection. Most recently, she published her first romance novella titled Skinny Dippin’ which was originally released as a part of the highly appraised Anthology, Sinners and Saints. When Didi doesn’t have her nose buried in a book, she can be found enjoying a laid-back outdoorsy lifestyle. Time spent sleeping under the stars, hiking, fishing, and ATVing the back roads of beautiful mountain trails, and sun-bathing in the desert heat play an important part of her day to day lifestyle.
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, hospitality, and entertainment industries. Throughout those years, I wrote short stories, poems, and various beginnings to the “Great American Novel,” but I was so focused on my career that writing became a hobby. In 2016, I committed to focusing my energies toward reinvigorating a second career in reading, writing, and publishing.