Thank you to Colleen for this wonderful coffee klatch post celebrating the launch of my new book Golden Healer in the Curse of Time series.
So, what’s a coffee klatch… let’s hear it from Colleen…
Where I (Colleen,) grew up, the Kaffeeklatsch was all the rage. Folks (mostly women) would get together, share a cup of coffee, and catch up on their lives. Thanks so much for stopping by to share a cup of coffee and a chat. Every month, I, (Colleen,) like to reconnect with my favorite authors to catch up and see what’s new in their writing world.
I’m pleased to welcome award-winning author; free-lance columnist, blogger, poet and up-and-coming podcaster, Cynthia Morgan to my blog.
Cynthia has a passion for words… Here is what she has to say…
I love words. I admit it. They are my full-blown addiction, plain and simple. Most particularly, I love writing words. Yes, there is quite a difference between reading them and writing them. Oh, please don’t get me wrong, I do also enjoy reading them; however, if someone were to give me the choice between never being able to write again or never being allowed to read again, I would, without a single moment’s pause to contemplate the consequences of such an ultimatum, choose to never read again.
Words move me. They fill my spirit. I wake up creating headlines and spend my day filling page after page (after page). You might ask why, but I would probably respond with a similar question, such as: Why do artists love to paint, or why do musicians live and breathe to write/perform music? It’s in our soul. It’s what makes us who we are and it defines us just as surely as the color of our hair and the clothes we wear.
If you’re familiar with my writing, you may already be aware that my particular penchant for words leans very heavily toward the superfluous end of the scale. Charles Dickens and Jane Austin have nothing on me when it comes to the peculiar joy I find in creating paragraph-long sentences that would make even an English major’s head spin. Why? Again, I’d simply have to say because it’s in my soul. I take sick pleasure in pumping up a simple sentence into an over-indulge, show-stopping extravaganza of linguistic gymnastics…that is grammatically correct.
Many of you have never seen such an exquisite thing of beauty (or outlandishness, depending on your point of view) so I shall provide the following paragraph as an example. I wrote this glorious one-sentence paragraph for an article on my blog (Booknvolume…otherwise known as BnV)
….at long last I am here to fill your next few moments with the tumbling musings of my mind (fair warning!)
Now, since my thoughts are flying in a rather confusing array of directions, at least at the present moment, I thought I would preface this post with the aforementioned disclaimer before I end up lost somewhere in the wilds of Uzbekistan with you sitting there with that particularly enchanting, though perhaps somewhat frustrated (at least for you) and puzzled expression on your face that most people end up having when they sit down and read one of my whirling posts, most particularly on night’s such as this when the words are flowing faster than I can logically keep up with, though often, depending upon the moon’s cycle or how much chocolate and/or caffeine I may have had before sitting down to begin writing, it can be a rather bewildering experience; whereat, being the kindhearted soul that I am, and never wishing to intentionally lead someone into a grammatical quagmire, as I am for all intents and purposes a good soul (though you and I both know that even good souls have halo’s that glow neon red now and again) I generally tend to use this moment of perplexity to point out that I did warn you, my dearest readers, very early on in our relationship (that being the early days of my blog BnV) that I do have the most annoying (or potentially amusing, dependant once again upon the aforementioned phase of the moon or how much chocolate or caffeine You’ve ingested before beginning to read) predilection to run off on wild tangents of verbosity that would make even Charles Dickens’s head ache, but let that go.
Word Count: 259 Sentences: 1 Passive Sentences: 0 Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level 52.2 …. YES!!!!!!!!!!! (My work here is done, thank you)
It is moments such as these that give me the oddest, yet greatest pleasure and were during my high school years, amusingly, opportunities for me to stretch my writing skills to such degrees that my English professor (a very good soul indeed who loved words nearly as much as I do) resorted to noting that my fondness for crafting compound-complex sentences on the backs of my test papers during the remaining time I had in class (because I often finished the tests early, being rather good in English class, perhaps not entirely surprisingly) and then diagramming them for the sheer delight of doing so was, in his opinion, a very strong indicator that I had, either, some form of mental derangement not yet diagnosed, or, I was a word-smith in the making. (oooo Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level 53.8! Marvelous! )
You may at this moment tend to agree and I would not argue the fact, but before I leave you with a beautifully muddled expression and echoes of words ringing in your mind like the bells of St. Pauls, please allow me Bestow this final thought, which should, if nothing else, answer the original question.
To Write; To Paint with Words as an Artist Bedecks his canvas with hues and shades and layers of pigmentation; To Sing a Melody upon which the gaze may Linger and over which the Heart may Muse again and again: To Create visual Splendor with grammar and language that is, perhaps, fundamentally underutilized or neglected (and to use Capitalization in the most maddening, although explainable manner), to me, is the most Beguiling form of Intoxication in which I could ever take Pleasure and, for you, Dear Intrepid Reader, to Undertake the Journey; to Brave the Frontier of Superfluous Verbosity and reach the shore with a Smile (though, perchance, also to some extent exhausted), is far more Rewarding an Endeavor than any other I shall ever undertake.
Cynthia A. Morgan is an award-winning author and Inspiration Coach. Morgan’s captivating stories and lyrical poetry promote positivity and Being The Change we want to see in the world. Whether writing fiction or non-fiction, poetry or essays, Morgan’s writing inspires change, encourages harmonious perspectives, and promotes belief in the power of one. She is the founder of Booknvolume.com where over 20K readers across 90+ countries find her inspirational poetry, daily meditations, prompts for positivity, book reviews and more.
Award-winning YA Fantasy Dark Fey Trilogy explores our perspectives on ‘Good and Evil’ and resonates with the message: The Only Way to Achieve Peace is by Becoming Peace.
Amazon Best Seller and IAN Book of the Year Winner The Mercy Series follows the Archangel Tzadkiel on his search for a single merciful human being in a medieval dystopian future where justice and mercy are ancient history. It’s powerful axiom ‘Show Thankfulness through Kindness and Appreciate Blessings through Generosity’ is woven into a powerful, Speculative Fantasy.
Whispers in Verse- Morgan’s first book of published poetry has been compared to Shakespeare by Readers Favorite and has received outstanding accolades from reviewers: “Whispers in Verse reads as if written on the wings of angels….If I could give this book a 10, I wouldn’t hesitate.” and “Whispers in Verse is a treasure of quiet, subtle poems, leading us into a place of contemplation and calmness, evoking lovely images, and leaving the reader with a sense of calm….This author has touched my very soul.”
You can Morgan through social media in the following places:
It is my pleasure to welcome Tracie Barton Barrett to my blog today. Tracie and I connected during the initial stages of the pandemic. She contributed a piece about the impact of isolation in the anthology compilation, This Is Lockdown, which is available to buy on Amazon.
Since then, we have become friends, so I thought it would be nice to invite her over to my blog for a chit chat!
Here’s the Q and A:
What inspired you to write this particular story? As an animal lover, particularly a horse lover since birth, I’ve always wanted to write a book celebrating these magnificent beings. My hope in writing FINDING HER SPIRIT is to tell the story of Maren Markey while telling the story of many horse lovers. My blog entitled, “Why Did You Write a Horse Book,”https://whydidyouwriteahorsebook.blogspot.com/
My hope in creating BURIED DEEP IN OUR HEARTS was to celebrate our important bond with our animals and honor their memory.
What advice would you give new authors? There is soooooo much to learn and this is a marathon, not a sprint. Marketing will make up a bigger part of what you do than you think (or want). Join a group of fellow authors. Writing can be isolating and connecting with others who understand can make all the difference! Know there will be ups and downs–times when you feel happy about your work and other times when you feel you couldn’t construct an even simple sentence. There will be people you think might buy your book who don’t. Conversely, there will be people who you never thought in a million years would be interested who will! And, I’ll say it again, there is sooooo much to learn and this is a marathon, not a sprint.
Do you have any pets? Yes, we have two cats, Oliver Monkey and Bubby. They are our two furry boys and definitely run the household. We just pay the mortgage.
Where do you write? Do you have any special routines? Sometimes I’m in my office, dining room table, and sometimes I’m outside or at the library. Sometimes I’m sitting in my chair in the bedroom, and sometimes on the floor. Just depends! I don’t write for a book everyday, but I’ve journaled every morning for about 29 years. I think it helps get the juices flowing. But, it’s amazing, it seems as though the day isn’t complete if I don’t journal, and I almost feel “backed up” when I don’t!
Are you a plotter or a pantser? I’m more of a plotter. However, for FINDING HER SPIRIT, I began writing before I knew the ending. With BURIED DEEP IN OUR HEARTS, I knew the ending before any of the other parts of the book. Finish this sentence: This Igloo is something I built when I was young living in Michigan. Although I generally dislike the cold, I have good memories of building it.
“Tracie Barton-Barrett has done something remarkable with this lovely book. She’s captured the essence of childhood dreams.1. “Which of us hasn’t had a dream of something that seemed unattainable as a child? Whether it was a pony or a puppy or just to have a best friend, we’ve all been there. Barton-Barrett’s Maren navigates a difficult childhood fraught with adult problems like divorce and mental illness and “normal” kid problems like loneliness and the school cafeteria. Yet Maren never gives up on her dream of owning a horse of her own and when one avenue fails her, she finds another one.This is a beautiful, heartening story of resilience for all ages, but especially horse-loving girls.”–Michelle Flye, author of HOURGLASS.
“Tracie Barton-Barrett, author of Buried Deep in our Hearts, has done it again. She reminds us of the gifts available when we open ourselves to the unconditional love of animals. In Finding Her Spirit, a beautiful coming of age story, Maren’s love of horses is a touchstone that helps her navigate her adolescent and teenage years. Not only does she have the normal challenges like a friend’s betrayal and young love, she’s also adjusting to a blended family and the mental illness of her father, whom she adores. Though all this, Maren finds solace and strength from her relationships with horses. Finding her Spirit reawakened my own childhood love of horses and had me cheering for Maren as she discovers her authenticity and resilience.” –Heather W. Cobham, award-winning author of THE MOTHER TREE
Bio: Since I was en utero, animals have had my heart and my husband and I are currently owned by our two cats, Oliver Monkey and Bubby. As a Licensed Clinical Professional Mental Health Counselor with a specialty in pet loss, workshop facilitator, and former psychology instructor, my life’s work has been to honor this important bond with these fabulous beings. My first novel, BURIED DEEP IN OUR HEARTS, was written to help celebrate this bond and honor their memory. When not writing, I’m an advocate for other Indie authors, traveling, hiking, enjoying the outside, dancing, singing to music in the car, playing the piano, or watching movies and TV, particularly quoting “Friends,” and “The Golden Girls.”
Blurb for FINDING HER SPIRIT: Packing for college in 1991, Maren Markey stumbles upon her old diary. Reliving moments from her past, she remembers weekend visits with her Daddy after her parents’ divorce, struggles with her new stepfamily, a new friendship, romantic interests, and a strong connection with a special horse. Through it all, Maren’s deep love for horses serves as a constant lifeline in her ever-changing life. Join the ride as Maren finds her Spirit.
Pete Adams is an architect with a practice in Portsmouth, UK, and from there he has, over forty years, designed and built buildings across England and Wales. Pete took up writing after listening to a radio interview of the writer Michael Connolly whilst driving home from Leeds. A passionate reader, the notion of writing his own novel was compelling, but he had always been told you must have a mind map for the book; Jeez, he could never get that.
Et Voila, Connolly responding to a question, said he never plans a book, and starts with an idea for chapter one and looks forward to seeing where it would lead. Job done, and that evening Pete started writing, and the series, Kind Hearts and Martinets, was on the starting blocks. That was some eight years ago, and hardly a day has passed where Pete has not worked on his writing, and currently, is halfway through his tenth book, has a growing number of short stories, one, critically acclaimed and published by Bloodhound, and has written and illustrated a series of historical nonsense stories called, Whopping Tales.
Pete describes himself as an inveterate daydreamer, and escapes into those dreams by writing crime thrillers with a thoughtful dash of social commentary. He has a writing style shaped by his formative years on an estate that re-housed London families after WWII, and his books have been likened to the writing of Tom Sharpe; his most cherished review, “made me laugh, made me cry, and made me think”.
Pete lives in Southsea with his partner, and Charlie the star-struck Border terrier, the children having flown the coop, and has 3 beautiful granddaughters who will play with him so long as he promises not to be silly.
7 books published to date, described as “Crime thrillers that will make you laugh, cry and think”
Dead No More – book 1 of the Rhubarb papers series – due out in a few months.
Rite Judgement – book 2 in DaDa Detective Agency series – out later in the year.
I have also just contracted 3 different book with my publisher – Whopping Tales:
“The imaginary is what tends to become real.” – Andre Breton
8 years ago my first granddaughter was born. In her first year I wrote and illustrated a story for her, a Whopping Tale. Two more followed and I resolved to get them published when she was 8 and, I’m pleased to announce I have signed a contract for all 3 books.
“Zany, intelligent, well-written with fantastic illustrations, a cross between Spike Milligan and 1066 and All That” – Alison Baille author
Whopping Tales are children’s stories for grown-ups who have not grown up, written and illustrated by an 8 year old girl, (but really it’s me, der). Isla Rose is eight. Her Granddad, whom she calls Fevvers, is a gazillion years old and as a consequence, has a mental age of about, eight. Isla Rose narrates and illustrates the adventures she and Fevvers have whilst correcting the history books and, her teacher, who doesn’t like Fevvers.
In three breath-taking adventures Isla and Fevvers meet King Canute, Francis Drake and Pharaoh Heepbigfattcheops, writing wrongs. Laugh historically and be educated. These books will change history and your life, if you allow it.
“Did you ever have a much loved relative who made up stories for you when you were a child? Well this is perfect. I was transported back to curling up safe and sound and being able to giggle my way through a couple of hours” – Ali Dragon Slayer – book blogger.
“Highly entertaining! Surreal, with dashes of Monty Python, Edward Lear, Ronald Searle, Alice in Wonderland and Spike Milligan but with Adams’ own flavour to it” – David John Griffin – author
I’m looking forward to reading and reviewing Black Rose.
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.
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:
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: firstname.lastname@example.org Links:
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?
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: email@example.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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Welcome to Richard Dee, my first guest on my new feature – isolation for writers, creatives, artists and book bloggers. How do writers, creatives, artists and bookish souls cope with isolation? Is their capacity to cope different from the rest of the population? It’s an interesting question and one that fascinates me.
How is author, baker, ex-seafarer Richard Dee coping with this enforced isolation?
Here is his answer…
Some thoughts on what I’m beginning to
think of as the new normal.
I’m Richard Dee, I write Science Fiction and Steampunk adventures, as well as chronicling the exploits of Andorra Pett, reluctant amateur detective. Thank you so much, Marjorie, for inviting me to guest on your website today.
At last, I’ve found that some of the skills I learned are coming in useful.
Isolation itself is not a problem, as an author I tend to live in other worlds anyway.
When I’m writing, the ones in my head are as vivid to me as the one out of the window. There are several I go to on a regular basis, home to amateur detectives, space adventurers and quasi-Victorian society. Not only that, but there is also always the chance that I might find a new one to explore.
It used to be a bit of a nuisance, a bone of contention with other family members. Now I find that it helps.
Not only that, as an ex-mariner, I was always used to isolation, chugging across the Atlantic at eight knots to save fuel on a big ship with a small crew teaches you a few things about yourself.
There are things to worry about, all my daughters work in the NHS, on the front line, one in ITU, with a consultant physician for a husband, one is a midwife dealing with emergency admissions and the other is still training. They, along with everyone else who is putting themselves at risk to keep us fed and provided with light, power, empty bins and food to eat deserve our thanks and respect.
Things like getting food, getting exercise, keeping in touch with family and friends: things we all took for granted just a few weeks ago are now more important.
I watch the T.V. and wonder if we will ever live that kind of life, with all the socialising and outdoor action, again.
I’m glad that I have hobbies, things to do on a rainy day. Reading, cooking and gardening.
I thought that I would have so much more time to do things. But any task expands to fill the time allotted to it, so there is no more time than there was.
Not that we were always out and about; there were jobs that had been put off because I thought they would take too long. Once I got started, I found that they were quickly done.
Meanwhile, I continue to write and publish. In fact, I’ve just had my Andorra Pett cosy crime series re-imaged, with all new covers by the tremendously talented Gill Trewick. They’re all available in both eBook (to buy and on Kindle Unlimited) and paperback at the following links:
I’d love to see you over at my website, richarddeescifi.co.uk. Head over there to see what I get up to, click the FREE STUFF tab or the My Novels and Short Stories tab to get all the details about my work and pick up a free short story. Why not join my newsletter and get a free short story, The Orbital Livestock Company, unavailable anywhere else.
I am SO EXCITED to be hosting my good friend the lovely, generous, amazing Ritu Bhathal on my blog today as part of her blog tour for her new release – Marriage Unarranged – which I had the pleasure to beta read. I can recommend 100% – in fact I loved it so much I read it twice!
So without further ado, let me introduce Ritu to you…
Hello there, Marje, and Hi! to all your readers too! I am so honoured to be visiting your blog in order to promote my new book, Marriage Unarranged, just released yesterday, actually!
Now, the book centres around my main character, Aashi, and her journey after finding out her fiancé has been cheating on her. A key character in the story is her best friend, Kiran, and Aashi would really like to share some background about her and Kiran, and their relationship, with you.
Aashi’s view of Kiran
Hello again! It’s Aashi here. I think I really need to introduce you to my best friend, Kiran. I loved being the only girl in my family, when I was younger. My two brothers and my dad, especially, doted on me. They still do, to be honest. But as I hit the teenage years, I began to yearn for a sister. Sure, I had lots of cousins, but it wasn’t the same. All that changed when I started college. That’s when I met Kiran. I was so nervous, being in this huge place, not knowing many of the other students, and when I sat down in my Economics lecture, I had no idea that my neighbour would become such a big part of my life. Kiran had been to a different school, coming from another part of Birmingham, but fate sat us together that first day and, well, you could say, she’s been by my side, in every way, ever since.
She was the loud to my quiet; the outspoken to my shy. And she was also in need of a sister. You think I have it bad with my two bodyguard brothers? Think of poor Kiran with three!
We just bonded. Two Sikh girls, from similar families, with the same sense of humour and interests; Bollywood films and bhangra music. And the same rules of living to adhere by.
No going out
I think my parents were relieved when they found out that we were going to the same university, in Nottingham. It was hard enough getting my mum to agree to me living out, so the thought of us both there, together, was a bit of balm on her worry. We went out to clubs and gigs for the first time there. It was all a bit crazy. I hated being
approached by guys, but Kiran was there, with her one liner retorts, to send them packing. That’s not to say we didn’t like any of them. But it just wasn’t the done thing. We just wanted to dance with our friends and have a laugh. Personally, I was so glad my parents let me come to university, the last thing I wanted to do was take any steps to disappoint them and going out with a boy would have been one of them.
The night I met Ravi. Kiran was there with me. We’d graduated and were at a party. I guess my parents had mellowed a little since I’d been to university, allowing me out in the evening.
You should have seen her, eagle eyes trained on him as he talked to me, not leaving my side, asking him all sorts of questions. I guess, like a sister, making sure he was a good guy. After all, I’d never really been out with anyone before. She’s always been there for me. The first one I call up to make decisions, to share good news with, to cry to if I’m down. And she has been awesome all through my wedding preparations. I’m just glad I won’t be moving far away, so she can still be near me, my sister, forever.
And an extract from the novel, where we first meet Kiran.
Kiran caught the bus to Stratford Road. She had no idea what the problem was. If Aashi’s previous behaviour regarding the wedding was anything to go by, she’d probably seen some fantastic jewellery and wanted Kiran’s opinion. Or maybe it was something to do with the bridal makeup. With Aashi, who knew…
Aashi had met Ravi the summer they graduated. Kiran wasn’t interested in marriage. Not yet. She’d been happy when Aashi got engaged because she knew how important it was to her friend. Ravi was a bit of a lad, always out with his boys on Broad Street at the weekends, dressed up as if he was on the pull, smelling like he’d bathed in the aftershave du jour, though he seemed to have calmed down once he’d got ‘hooked’.
Kiran saw Aashi notice her through her rear-view mirror and hurried up slightly. It was 11:30 am. Her friend had been waiting for about half an hour for her. Knocking on the passenger window, Kiran waved a gloved hand at Aashi. It was still cold, and the heating on the bus was terrible. As the door opened, she stamped her feet to get a bit of feeling into them. Once she was sitting in the car, Kiran peeled off her gloves and exclaimed, “It’s bloody freezing out there, this had better be good!”
When she turned to look at her mate, she noticed the blotchy eyes. They weren’t the eyes Kiran was generally greeted with. Aashi’s large, almond-shaped eyes were usually ringed perfectly with black kohl liner, the only makeup she wore, other than a slick of lip gloss. Then she saw the pile of discarded tissues, smeared with what must be black kohl, on the floor of the car. Aashi’s waist-length hair, usually left open, flowing like a sheet of silk, was hastily tied back with a grotty, grey scrunchie.
“Aashi, babe, what’s the matter? Don’t tell me. He doesn’t want to go to St Lucia or the Maldives. Hey, mate, come on, there’s no point in getting into a state like this. Come here.” Kiran pulled Aashi into a big bear hug. She’d always been the stronger of the two and was used to Aashi getting emotional over little things. As she held her friend, she realised the sobs were getting louder and not quietening down, at all.
“Aashi, please tell me what’s wrong, I can’t help you if I don’t know why you’re crying.”
Accompanied by a lot of sobbing and hiccupping, Kiran coaxed the events of the morning out of her friend.
It all started ended with that box…
Aashi’s life was all set.
Or so she thought.
Like in the Bollywood films, Ravi would woo her, charm her family and they’d get married and live happily ever after.
But then Aashi found the empty condom box…
Putting her ex-fiancé and her innocence behind her, Aashi embarks upon an enlightening journey, to another country, where vibrant memories are created, and unforgettable friendships forged.
Old images erased, new beginnings to explore.
And how can she forget the handsome stranger she meets? A stranger who’s hiding something…
Ritu Bhathal was born in Birmingham in the mid-1970s to migrant parents, hailing from Kenya but with Indian origin. This colourful background has been a constant source of inspiration to her. From childhood, she always enjoyed reading. This love of books is credited to her mother. The joy of reading spurred her on to become creative in her writing, from fiction to poetry. Winning little writing competitions at school and locally encouraged her to continue writing.
As a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and teacher, she has drawn on inspiration from many avenues to create the poems that she writes. A qualified teacher, having studied at Kingston University, she now deals with classes of children as a sideline to her writing!
Ritu also writes a blog, www.butismileanyway.com, a mixture of life and creativity, thoughts and opinions, which was awarded first place in the Best Overall Blog Category at the 2017 Annual Bloggers Bash Awards, and Best Book Blog in 2019.Ritu is happily married and living in Kent, with her Hubby Dearest, and two children, not forgetting the fur baby Sonu Singh.