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Saturday, 30 June 2012

Thanks to Strictly Business Magazine We're on Page 18!

The July edition of Strictly Business Magazine is out and once again there is a full page with a selection of Famous Five Plus books.

Thank you Debbie & Paul at Strictly Business Magazine for all your wonderful support.

You can learn more about Strictly Business by visiting our Friends Page

Friday, 29 June 2012

Sue Fortin, Write Here, Right There!

"Oh where can I sit and have peace?" An amusing seach for the perfect place to write, Sue Fortin, Write Here, Right There!

As a writer I am naturally curious about things. As a woman I am naturally curious about things. Yes, curious, not nosy. Okay, just needed to get that bit straight. 
So, being CURIOUS I always enjoy finding out where everyone does their writing, whether it’s a study, a summer house, the spare room, the kitchen table or in a coffee shop. 
For me, it’s taken a while to settle. I began writing at my kitchen table. It seemed the most sensible place considering how much time I spend in my kitchen, plus it’s not so far to walk for tea and biscuits. However, my kitchen can become quite a busy place when my gang are home, especially as I have a TV and sofa in there too, everyone just … gathers. Much as I love all the chatter, sometimes it gets too much.
My solution was to decamp to the living room. New desk. New shelves. I was rather pleased with the move. However, my smug feeling of achievement lasted, oh, about two days. You see, having had new shelving put in meant that my TV had to be moved onto the wall and the only wall suitable was right above my desk.  As a result when there’s a ‘debate’ about what to watch on the TV, in the interest of crowd control, the answer is for someone to watch TV in the living room. The trouble with this though, is that I’m then in the way!
So after all this, I find myself back at the kitchen table surrounded by homework, various mobile phones, iPods, toys, discarded items of clothing and general clutter. As I write this I am intermittently gazing out of the window wondering if next door want to hire their shed out to me.

Find our more about Sue by visiting our Author & Books Pages. Sue also features on our Author Showcase Trailer playing on this page!

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Susan Russo-Anderson: Inspiration & the Lower East Side

Susan Russo-Anderson paints a vivid yet poignant picture on how Death of a Serpent began: Inspiration and the Lower East Side

Long before they were books, the Serafina Florio mystery series began as two paintings. In 1997 I was commissioned by the American Jewish Committee to paint a diptych of the Lower East Side. The client told me I had free rein as long as my work reflected all ethnic groups that had settled in the area from 1882 to 1925.
So how do you stuff the richness of that crowded neighborhood into a canvas or two? Before I picked up a brush, I spent three months walking the streets of lower Manhattan, sketching in a notebook, reading as much as I could about the great migration of the early twentieth century, interviewing the long-time residents, frequenting the delis, the pickle stands, the Tenement Museum. I stood on the site of the pig market at Hester and Ludlow, the historic focal point of New York’s garment center; I walked Orchard, Mott, Eldridge, Grand, and—my favorite—Elizabeth Street where the Sicilians settled.
Maybe it was the onion soup at Ratner’s, but one day as I sat on a park bench, I imagined a young girl. Smudged from play and wearing a patched smock, she looked at me a moment, pointed to the mass of haggling peddlers, shoppers, prostitutes, and children playing under push carts. Placing a finger to the side of her nose, she whispered something indistinct, disappeared. What did she say? Where was she born—in a back street in Sicily? A village in Russia? A brothel on
Allen Street
? What were her dreams?
Tessa, I called her, a name taken from the roll of those who perished in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in March 1911. Probably she lived in one of ten thousand overcrowded tenement south of
Fourteenth Street
. For sure she breathed fetid air, carried water from the well up five flights of stairs. She froze in winter, roasted in summer, was ashamed of her accent and dress.

So I sketched my roughs and painted my paintings. Time passed and I switched from oils to words, but Tessa lives on in my mind. Like the lower Manhattan neighborhood I love, she has cast her spell. Her story became legion and got into my fingers and that’s how DEATH OF A SERPENT started. It’s the first book in a very long series.

Find our more about Susan by visiting the Author & Books Pages. Susan also features on the Author Showcase Trailer playing on the Home Page.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Cathy Speight Reviews The Dark Man's Son by Meg Whitlock

Famous Five Plus Reviewer, Cathy Speight, reviews, The Dark Man’s Son by Meg Whitlock. "Aficionados of the genre will certainly get their money’s worth with this one."

Jason Latimer is saved by a young woman, Alex, one night when he is attacked by muggers. The muggers, however, are demons, and his green-eyed (or is she gold-eyed?) saviour is rather older than she looks. Quite a bit older. She’s been around since the year dot, pretty much. She wants to protect Jason—she is a Guardian, she is Light representing goodness; she wants to protect him from the evil Guardians who are Dark and from Lucifer in particular. Jason believes she’s quite simply deranged, but some unanswered questions pertaining to his recently deceased grandfather and his mother’s reticence about his own father lead him to uncover some extraordinary facts about himself, why Lucifer is so intent on seeking him out and why Alex is committed to protecting him. Alex has to do everything in her power to keep Jason out of his reach.

This was probably a fantasy tale on the border of my limits of the genre, but I did like the veil of wry humour embracing the story. The dialogue was sharp, witty and modern—streetwise almost. I got a little dizzy with the leaps into different time frames. Alex is immortal, so she’s been around quite a bit, and the story jumps into different centuries. Confusing also is the fact she has different monikers.  However, these kangaroo hops were well done, with famous names like Botticelli being characterised, and their relevance soon becomes evident.  Meg’s characters were meaty and substantial; Jason is suitably good-looking and takes his parentage and his new future in his stride; Alex is Light and Goodness in a neat, attractive little package—positive, caring, and well-intentioned. Cassius, her brother and Rorik, her trusted friend, have their own demons within their demon souls and have their consciences to fight as well as their foes.

What I also liked was that although this is the first in a series, the ending was solid enough to end the book without unanswered questions, but with just a smidgeon of a hint that there is more to come.

I’m still a little on the fence with this genre, although some recent books have been moving it up my hit charts, and Meg has certainly helped push it along upwards.  Aficionados of the genre will certainly get their money’s worth with this one.

You can learn more about Cathy by visiting our Reviewer's Page

Find out more about Meg by visiting our Author & Books Pages. Meg is also featured on our Author Showcase Trailer playing on this page! 

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Francine Howarth on What Inspired Me To Write This Book!

Francine Howarth author of regency and contemporary romance talks about what inspired her to write, By Loyalty Divided, the first book in The Royal Series.

Where shall I begin? See, that’s what comes of putting one’s hand up and saying “I’m happy to do a piece on what inspired a particular novel”. Then of course up pops number two (?) – which novel?

Damn it to hell: contemporary or historical?  
Righty ho, I’ll go for my favourite period in history. No, not the flamboyant Georgian era when powered wigs and rouged cheeks were in Vogue, though I do write novels set in that period. And no, not the Regency period of clean-cut beaus and demure Miss Prims, also of which I do enjoy writing about.
Oh no no, you see, I have bit of thing about the swashbuckling era of the English Civil Wars and the period of the Reformation. In fact I have a seriously inexplicable sense of affinity with this period in history, and feel comfortable cavorting with characters alongside real people of the time depicted.
But where and how did I derive inspiration for a novel set within this period of the English Civil War, and how did “By Loyalty Divided” come to fruition?

Artwork, what else!

Needless to say the painting of the Cavalier and Roundhead (above) intrigued me. What if . . . I thought, what if the two men were father and son? How terrible to think they had for some reason ended up on opposing sides within the war. And of course this portrait of a rather fetching young lady appealed, and she became the heroine, Anna. 

I count myself lucky, in that although portraits stimulate my imagination I don’t then sit down and plod laboriously over what next? Because once an image is seen and the seed of a plot sown, for some reason the subconscious plays devil’s advocate when I’m asleep. Yep, during sleep characters come alive in movie format. They perform their story in full, it is then up to me to transfer their story from the big screen to that of words. Hence By Loyalty Divided is merely Book 1 of 4 in The Royal Series. How easy is that.

Cover blurb:

Orphaned at royal court, Anna Lady Maitcliffe has embraced freedom from courtly restraint whilst residing at Axebury Hall Estate. Now grown to womanhood, wilful and impulsive she wins hearts with ease, but the one she loves above all others is seemingly immune to her charms.

Morton Viscount Axebury, although smitten with Anna, duly rejects her during a brief exquisite moment of intimacy. But time and Civil War are marching across England, and he knows by loyalty divided they are to be torn apart, and believes Anna will be called to the Queen’s chamber.

Of a rebellious nature and prepared for the consequences of denying loyalty to the King, banishment from the estate is a small price to pay in return for his life. But when news of Anna’s sudden betrothal reaches his ears, short of taking war to Axebury Hall with a regiment of horse, how else can he wrest her from the clutches of his father: her guardian and husband to be?  In secret and alone he ventures to Axebury Hall Estate, perchance his fate in Anna’s hands. For should she choose to reject his love and declare his presence, there will be no escape!

You can buy By Loyalty Divided by clicking on the links below.

Visit Francine’s web site:

You can learn more about Francine by visiting our Author, Books & Trailer Pages. Francine also features on our Author Showcase Trailer playing on our Home Page


Monday, 25 June 2012

Jonty Babe Reviews Shades of Appley Green by Miriam Wakerly

Famous Five Plus reviewer, Jonty Babe reviews, Shades of Appley Green – A modern village Novel by Miriam Wakerly. "It’s a feel good book with an unexpected twist at the end. I’ll definitely be reading more work by this very talented lady."
I have to say that this book is not my usual genre but I was keen to read it as I had read so many good reviews about it. I was not disappointed. Whilst the book tells the story of the main character Steph at quite a slow and measured pace this is a perfect style as for me it reflected the unhurried and relaxed pace of the village of Appley Green. If I was ever to go and live anywhere, it would be this village.  I could imagine being there! The descriptions of the village that Miriam Wakerly gives throughout the book perfectly sets the scene of a place unaffected by the hamster wheel of modern life that grinds you down.
The main character of the book is Steph a kind and loving young woman who is perfectly suited to her job. She is part of a charity involved with the elderly of Appley Green. One of her ‘clients’ Jackson holds a special place in Steph’s heart and throughout the book we discover the reason why. But this is more than a job for Steph. It is a promise she made to one of the few men Steph has ever respected and trusted.
Steph juggles a very busy career with the very serious job of being a single mum to Faith and Barnaby.   Her job is not made easy by the man who must oversee her work, Greg. Steph feels he is there at every turn, waiting for her to slip up and putting extra pressure on her.
Steph explores her past through a series of diary entries. A past that is filled with happiness and heartache. A past she must face before she can look to the future. Her mistrust of men threatens to lead her to a lonely life where she feels unloved. But, her life begins to take many unexpected and at times difficult paths that Steph must deal with. Can she do this alone or will help come from a very unlikely source?
Miriam Wakerly has a writing style that shows a special relationship with her characters. She explores many issues within the book. Issues such as grief, loss, love and the need for family. The issue of how the elderly are affected by loneliness, separation from family and isolation is also explored and gives the reader some food for thought. This a great book for a lazy Sunday afternoon or for on the beach. It won’t have your pulse racing but it’s not meant to. It’s a ‘feel good’ book with an unexpected twist at the end. I’ll definitely be reading more work by this very talented lady.
You can learn more about Jony Babe by visiting our Reviewer's Page

You can learn more about Miriam by visiting our Author & Books Page. Miriam also features on our Author Showcase Trailer playing on this page!

Friday, 22 June 2012

Deal or No Deal? Bea Davenport's Writer's Dilema!

DEAL – OR NO DEAL?  Author of Kill and Tell, Bea Davenport wrestles with her writer’s dilemma and ask what you would do.

My suspense novel Kill and Tell has been up on Amazon for a little under three months and in terms of downloads, it’s doing rather nicely. So an e-mail from a traditional publisher last week, enquiring about the ‘status’ of the manuscript, came completely out of the blue. Without making any promises, this publisher’s commissioning editor asked me to send over the whole MS for them to read.
This I did, explaining that since an extract from the novel was shortlisted in a national award, back in 2009, it’s been e-published. The editor read the MS, nevertheless, and came back to me with some feedback – and a list of suggested revisions.
The feedback started off with the usual positive comments. The novel was, the editor said, ‘well-written and intriguing’, with strong characters, voice and setting. Anyone familiar with the notion of a ‘feedback sandwich’ (or teachers who use ‘two stars and a wish’) will know that there was a ‘but’ heading my way! The ‘but’ came in the form of the editor’s suggested reworkings, to improve the novel overall. Finally, the editor offered to re-read a revised version, should I go ahead with these changes. What they didn’t say was that they would definitely publish it.
I have to admit that this editor’s suggestions make a huge amount of sense. There were many good ideas in there. If I was still seeking a traditional publishing deal, this kind of very specific feedback would be invaluable. The trouble is – I’m now left with a dilemma. Do I spend time revising a novel that I thought was finished (and e-published), in the hope – but not the promise – of a traditional deal? I could do this, easily, if I didn’t have a whole list of other new projects that I’m desperate to work on, all of which would be put to one side, while I go back to something I thought I’d put to bed.
The other issue is that I have been here before. My children’s novel, The Serpent House, was shortlisted for the 2010 Times/Chicken House award. After the competition, a publisher held on to it for more than a year, asking for a range of revisions. In the end, and after a great deal of unpaid work on my part, they decided against it, citing a couple of plot points that could have been changed with very little effort. This wasn’t just a disappointment in the usual way – I also felt somewhat cheated that I’d made changes that I didn’t necessarily agree with, on the tacit understanding that they would then take me on, and so I felt like I’d done a lot of unnecessary work and wasted a lot of my time.  
  So now, I’m not sure what to say to this kind, unsolicited editor who spent time reading and feeding back on my work. Shall I give their very good ideas a go - putting all my new and (for me) exciting projects on hold, and bearing in mind these revisions come with no guarantees? Or shall I thank them for their time and say I’m happy to stick with my present e-book as it is – potentially passing up a faint chance of that coveted traditional deal?
I know there are some brilliant and highly experienced writers both in this group and also reading the blogs on the site. So any words of wisdom or advice would be really, really welcome. If you were me – what would you do?
To learn more about Bea visit our Author & Books Pages. Bea also features in our Author Showcase Trailer playing on our Home Page

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Self Doubt by Pauline Barclay

Today Pauline Barclay takes an interesting angle at what many of us writers suffer with from time to time and that is Self Doubt.

I wonder how many of you have had to cope with this unwelcome visitor. This particular visitor is sly, cunning and arrives when you are tired or vulnerable. It slinks into your life, silent and invisible, but despite this you know it is there. This visitor boldly stalks you and is even known to perch on your shoulder listening and watching, questioning everything you do, everything you think, picking at tiny faults and even laughing at your mistakes. And if that is not enough, this visitor, given enough opportunity, is known to scrutinise not only what you are doing and thinking now, but everything you have done before and with enjoyment ridicules them.

For anyone who has had the misfortune to have Self Doubt visit, then you will know it can be destructive causing confidence to plummet. What is even more disturbing and that is, Self Doubt is invisible to everyone except the one it visits. Despite popular belief, age and experience is not a guaranteed coat of armour when Self Doubt stands tall on your door step waiting to march in. Though whilst Self Doubt lingers for a short while making it impossible to imagine the intruder will ever leave, it is comforting to know that is nearly always replaced by that wonderful friend, Self Confidence!

You can learn more about Pauline by visiting our Author, Books & Trailer Pages. Pauline also features on our Author Showcase Trailer.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

How To Lose Me on Twitter by Kimberly Menozzi

Kimberly Menozzi on....How to Lose Me As a Follower on Twitter

It happened again.

I followed someone on Twitter, and almost instantly, I received a direct message telling me the exact same information listed on their profile. It took all my willpower not to send a message back saying "I know who you are. I know you're a writer. I don't need a link to your book sale page."

I "unfollowed" them instead.

You see, one of the biggest irritations I have in regards to Twitter is the tendency for writers to do this. That insta-message with a sales pitch - however benignly offered - is still an unnecessary sales pitch. One writer sent me several direct messages which were (almost literally) nothing more than "Buy my book!" and I was obliged to stop following them immediately.

I follow other types of people too - a handful of celebrities, some professional cyclists, some amazingly funny and clever individuals who have responded to the other folks I follow - but writers are the only people who have this irritating habit.

Perhaps this will come as a surprise to a number of people, but for people like me, this sort of marketing simply DOESN'T WORK. If anything, it turns me off so completely, I don't care to read what you've written because it leaves such a bad taste in my mouth.

Of course, there are other things which make me give up following someone. Sometimes I catch myself doing the same things - usually when I'm rushing or just wanting to put some sort of content (any sort!) out there - and I have to stop myself in my virtual tracks. So, after some consideration, I thought I'd share my list of things which will convince me to stop following just about anyone on Twitter.

So if you want me to "Unfollow" you (or never follow at all), just:

1) Send me the above-mentioned instantaneous direct message sales pitch. Nothing makes me hit "unfollow" faster than that. I know who you are, and I know you're a writer. So am I! That's why I followed you, in fact: I thought we'd have something in common. But this is something which turns me off  in a hurry.

2) Talk about nothing but your books in a "BUY MY BOOKS!!!" manner. Want to share a recent great review? Want to tell us you're going to do promo on a radio, web or talk show? Want us to know that your book is going to be featured on a TV program or in a newspaper article? Please do! These are the sorts of things which convince me to consider and/or buy a book. But please don't only post "My book is great! Buy it!" type posts.

3) Discuss politics endlessly. While there's nothing wrong with sharing your opinions once in a while, if your tweet stream is nothing but political ranting, I'm outta there. Even if I agree with you.

4) Don't share anything about your life. I don't want you to give me every little detail of your day, and I really don't think you need to go into TMI territory. But please show me you do something in the wider world, and that you have a life beyond promotion. Otherwise, you might as well be another Twitter 'bot.

5) Post nothing but retweets. Don't you have anything original to say? We all share things we find amusing or interesting, but if you never post any original content, again, your account starts looking like a 'bot.

6) Say bad things about other writers or celebrities on a regular basis. It looks - and sounds - like you're jealous or bitter. That's a turnoff and I don't want that clogging my Twitter feed.

7) Post the same one-line excerpt from your novel several times a day. Once a day is fine, but more than that and it's like saying a word until it loses all meaning.

8) Post the same "inspirational" quote ad infinitum. At least choose several different quotes and spread them out over time.

9) Avoid real interaction with other people. Once in a while, you should feel free to jump in on a conversation with others, however brief or nonsensical it might seem to other readers. If you see a post you don't understand, ask some questions - inspiration may be waiting just around the corner.

10) Bash a genre other than the genre in which you write. Whether it's Romance writers bashing Literary fiction, or just about everyone else bashing Romance - that'll make me jump ship in a hurry. I know too many writers in all genres - good friends both online and in real life - to feel it's okay for one group of writers to say another isn't valid because of their subject matter.

Naturally, this carries over to other social media, Facebook and Google+ included. I sincerely hope this doesn't come across as heavy-handed or off-putting, and yes, this is all my opinion and no-one else's. But I hear a good number of people saying similar things, expressing frustration at the way some writers (albeit unintentionally) spam their followers. As I said before, even I make these mistakes from time to time - everyone makes mistakes. With a little luck, we'll all make these mistakes less frequently.

I'll see you out there on Twitter.

Hopefully we'll follow each other for a long, long time.

Learn more about Kimberly and her books by visiting our Author & Books Pages. Kimberly also features on our Author Showcase Trailer playing on the Home Page

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Karen Bryant Doering reviews The Dark Man's Son by Meg Whitlock

Famous Five Plus Reviewer, Karen Bryant Doering reviews The Dark Man’s Son by Meg Whitlock, the first book in The Guardian Chronicles.  “…I will be reading the next in the series as soon as it becomes available.”

From almost the beginning of time there have been guardians. Twins, brother and sister, one who is light and goodness, one who is dark and evil. The choice of which side they will follow made for them before they began to exist they are unable to change who they are. Their mission is to protect the balance of the universe.
Alex is a guardian, older than the earth itself she represents the light. Making her rounds of the city one night she finds two demons attacking a human. Coming to his rescue she fights the demons and saves Jason from serious injury or worse; death.
As he questions who and what she is her answers confuse and astound him. How can he believe she is a paranormal entity who has been sent by the angles of heaven to protect the innocent? More to the point why would demons be hunting him?
As Alex and Jason search for answers they begin to understand that there is more to Jason than they have been aware of. His grandfather, a man he has never met and who has passed away, was involved with the guardians during his lifetime. Now the dark side of the equation has come searching for him. Alex’s twin wants to entice Jason to his side while Alex wants to keep Jason in the light.
As the battle between good and evil heats, Jason must choose a side.
Filled with interesting, complex and well rounded characters The Dark Man’s Son is the first of The Guardian Chronicles Series. It brings together angels, vampires, demons, protectors and Lucifer. All of the protagonists are realistic and bold without beginning cliché. Ms. Whitlock has given us a new take on the age of the good vs evil saga giving the reader the opportunity to enter a new paranormal realm where free choice takes on an entirely new definition.
Although this offering is the first in a series, the book stood well on its own. It tied up the story line nicely while still leaving this reader wanting to know more. I will be reading the next in the series as soon as it becomes available.
Karen's Blog:”%3EParents’ Little Black Book of Books - Blog
Visit our Reviewer’s Page to learn more about Karen
Visit our Author & Books Page to learn more about Meg. Meg is also featured on our Author Showcase Trailer playing on the Home Page!

Monday, 18 June 2012

Peggy Stanton Talks to Amanda Wilson from Mini Skirts & Laughter Lines

Today Celeb Interviewer, Peggy Stanton chats to Amanda Wilson from Mini Skirts & Laughter lines, not too sure about the mini skirts, but there's plenty of laughter on this chat show!

Peggy: Smirking. ‘My dear Amanda you look like a raspberry ripple, though having said that, it somehow suits you.

Amanda: Running her fingers through her hair. ‘Glad you like it, I decided I should have new look, nothing like feeling marvelous for the summer. I needed a pick me up. I thought blonde with these flashy red streaks would be simply so amazing. And I can see from your reaction, I certainly made the right choice.’

Peggy: Reaching over to the side table. ‘I’ll take your word for it. Now I’ve been told on very good authority that you love wine and I believe the odd tipple of sherry. So now why don’t we both have a glass of this reserve Rioja I had given to me by a lovely gentleman.’

Amanda: Leaning forward. ‘Peggy you are just the most perfect host. My crackpot mother introduced me to drinking when I was quite young. She’s been brewing her own wine for decades. Having said that, it rarely gets to maturity as it is generally quaffed when it is in the final stages of brewing. She even had a go at making sherry, but it was mighty potent and nearly blinded me after I drank half a bottle one night when we had stayed up talking. I laugh now, but I didn’t at the time as I fell down the stairs that night. After that my mother decided to stick to brewing wine. At least her wine only strips the enamel off teeth and numbs your mouth, and so must be much less potent. I think you’d love my mother Peggy.’

Peggy: Taking a sip from her large glass of Rioja. ‘I think I’d like to be introduced, she sounds like fun.’

Amanda: ‘I can tell you Peggy, when she isn’t out ‘living it up’, my mother can chat for hours about getting older, laughing at the tricks old age plays on us and about grumpy old men and how to deal with them.’

Peggy: Smirking. ‘I can tell already you’re your mother’s daughter in a few moments I can clearly certain traits emerging, you’re a chatter box and wine drinking. Now have you passed these motherly daughter genes on to a new generation?’

Amanda: Taking a gulp from her glass. ‘Phew, I needed that; the thought of my son always sends me plummeting into a pit of depression. Love him, of course I do, but he’s the bane of my life. The problems and anxieties he gives me, I tell you Peggy I struggle to maintain my maternal instinct. Let me give you an example of my life at the moment. Well, I won’t go into all the details as this chat show will turn into a six episode drama. Anyway, Tom, our only son, boomeranged back into the nest without so much as a by your leave. Of course he used to be the apple of my eye, but has now transformed into a testosterone fuelled wastrel. His room resembles a hovel, the bathroom permanently stinks thanks to him and his lackadaisical attitude does nothing to improve the tensions within the household.’

Peggy: Crossing her legs, an amused look crossing her face. ‘I think I’ve touched on a raw nerve here, shall we talk about something less fraught and explosive. What about your other half? Now before you answer, let me pour you another large glass of wine, it’s clear to me, you are a frazzled woman. Mind at 50, I was all over the place with my emotions. I can see you are very menopausal.’

Amanda: Holding out her glass. ‘If the menopause was all I have to worry about life would be a breeze. Now about my husband, these days, relations between him and me are at an all time low. And I know you might find this difficult to believe seeing me sitting her all bubbly and young looking, but like my marriage, my self esteem is at an all time low. I suppose it all started when Phil reluctantly took early retirement, because from then on he was constantly under my feet. His joie de vivre diminished as quickly as our finances. No longer interested in me, our son or indeed anything other than a strange obsession for financial markets, he rapidly became someone I no longer recognised. My efforts to reintroduce him to fun were at best fruitless, but I suppose I can say that they often lead to comical consequences. I know this is a family show, so I won’t go into too much detail, but suffice to say, I have a very imaginative mind and it produced some giggling and loud laughter moments.’

Peggy: Raising an eyebrow. ‘My dear Amanda, once the mic is turned off you can tell me, nothing better than a good laugh. So tell me more about your mother, surely she’s kept you spirits up.’

Amanda: Laughing. ‘You’ve hit the nail on the head with spirits, no of course she’s not a alcoholic, but she does love her wine and if I said she was scatty, I would be lying, because she’s truly impossible. Believe it or not she still sees me as her ‘little’ girl. Her little girl, I’m 50 for heavens sake, but of course it’s water of a duck’s back trying to tell her. She thinks I’m fifteen!  Each week I have to endure an hour long phone call from her. Just when are we allowed to grow up? But what makes it worse is that when she speaks to me; I feel like a fifteen year old. She may only be five feet high and wide, but she still terrifies me. I can tell you Peggy, we are two very different people. In sharp contrast to me, my mother is having the time of her life. She has been partying her twilight years away with enthusiasm that I have never possessed.  This year however, during a prolonged visit to Cyprus where she usually hosts all-night ‘Twister’ parties and Karaoke evenings for her sozzled friends, she fell for a money-grabbing ‘toy boy’. That gave me more to worry about than just my mother’s usual criticisms, chain smoking or drinking as she embarked on uncharacteristic wild and youthful behaviour. I ask you Peggy, how am I supposed to cope?’

Peggy: ‘Amanda, darling, I really must insist in meeting your mother, she’s sounds right up my street. You know Amanda, maybe when you’ve accepted 50 and sweated your way through the menopause, you just might go mad and end up like your mother. From what you’ve told me it would not be all that bad.’

Amanda: Taking a deep breath and exhaling. ‘Peggy the last thing I want is to be like my mother, but I have not just sat at home twiddling my thumbs and fretting, no, I have caused a revolution out there in cyber land. The word ‘Blog’ has a whole new meaning to me and I can safely say has not only saved my life, but my sanity too.’

Peggy: ‘Good grief now I didn’t see that coming, come on let me fill that empty glass up again, and then tell me how you set the internet alight.’

Amanda: ‘Alight is probably too strong a word, but I made things happen and changed thinking. Let me start at the beginning again! At home in my village of Snittington the highlight of the week is normally a trip to the Post Office or the Butcher’s shop, can you believe just how boring life had become? The mediocrity and frustration of it all threatened to crush my spirit once and for all. However, as you have already witnessed Peggy, I am not one to be beaten and in an attempt to chart the perils and pitfalls of growing old gracefully, I began my blog ‘Facing 50 With Humour’ where I rapidly found myself making friends and finding other people who completely understood my situation. At last, there were others who understood why I burst into tears in the department store while looking at a stuffed toy duck. There were other people out there who laughed at the same ridiculous episodes as me. I shared my observations and thoughts with them. I wrote a series of witty posts which captured their imagination and within a short time I was no longer lonely old Amanda Wilson. I turned increasingly towards the internet for my social rewards and answers to the difficulties I encountered. I shared my anti-aging tips with my ever increasing followers; from ‘minking’ to exercise ‘faux pas’. It was here that I vented my feelings, made friends and rather foolishly began a steamy relationship with my ex boyfriend on-line…’

Peggy: ‘Now I am interested, so who is this ex boyfriend?’

Amanda: ‘His name is Todd and before I knew it I had tumbled into his cyber open and very willing arms. A regular game of ‘Lust Scrabble’ and saucy messages was merely the beginning. Before long I had a real dilemma; one that required more than my usual few glasses of wine. Would I, or should I meet Todd who was coming over from Australia? Ironically, just as I was about to make the all important decision, I observed Phil in the real arms of a raven haired beauty!’

Peggy: ‘So what happened?’

Amanda: ‘Peggy, I can’t say at the moment, but this last year has been a roller coaster of emotion. I spent these last twelve months writing in my Blog and sharing with the cyber world my life. There have been some hilarious times, bad times and worrying times but I found strength and support from the unlikeliest places and certainly more than one or two surprises along the way.
     It seems my year long journey along with my pithy musings of a washed up woman, turning fifty, reflected similarities in others’ lives. The humorous tone of the blog entries which deliberately highlight our society’s mindless denigration of older women and the shame attached to ageing captured my followers’ imagination. The issues I confronted in my blog are often considered to be taboo; including loneliness, financial insecurity, fading interest in physical relationships and the isolation from contemporary culture.  However, through these blog entries I brought to light the coping mechanisms of the lost midlife generation’s attempts to reconcile their vigorous and vibrant lifestyles with their increasing mileage.
     We may be getting older but we are mentally youthful and will be able to keep the ravages of time at bay a little longer if we face life and its challenges with humour. As Erma Bombeck said: ‘He who laughs...lasts.’

Peggy: ‘I’ve turned the mic of Amanda, do to tell what happened with Todd…..’

You can read all about Amanda, her ups and downs, her tears and laughter in
Mini Skirt and Laughter Lines

Find our more abour Carol E Wyer and her character by visiting our Author, Books & Trailer Pages, Carol is also featured on our Author Showcase Trailer playing on our Home Page

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Susan Livingstone Reviews Night Watcher by Chris Longmuir

Famous Five Plus, Reviewer, Susan Livingstone reviews Night Watcher by Chris Longmuir and describes it as unputdownable!

"Chris asked me to review Night Watcher several months ago. I'm sorry it's taken me so long to get there, Chris, but it was well worth the wait. Night Watcher will keep you on the edge of your seat, wondering what will happen next. Chris is an expert at keeping her readers engrossed. I've heard this phrase several times and with Night Watcher, I totally understand what it means. It's "unputdownable".

Julie is a likable character that the reader feels sympathy for after her husband's death. Her anger and need for revenge is very understandable, considering what she has gone through.

Nicole is a woman who only cares about what she wants. She is self-confident, or is it arrogance except when it comes to her husband. Will Julie get her revenge, or will the stalker make her his next sacrifice? You need to read the book in order to find out. I suggest you go buy it. I give this book 5 stars and 2 thumbs up. Love it, Chris!! Thank you."

Visit our Reviewer’s Page to learn more about Susan

Visit our Author, Books & Trailer Pages to learn more about Chris. Chris also features on our Author Showcase Trailer.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Joanna Lambert and Writers Block!

What exactly is writers block?  Joanna Lambert shares her thoughts on this phenomena we writers tend to have a nervous breakdown over!

At first guess it might be that it’s an historical place of execution on Tower Green where a disgruntled Queen Elizabeth I beheaded poets and playwrights who didn’t come up to Will Shakespeare’s high standards.  But no, it’s far less melodramatic but for us writers it can cause huge problems.
When I first started writing I had heard of the term but had never experienced it.  My writing went well, words flowed onto the page.  And then one day, out of the blue, it happened.  I had just started a particular scene when the whole creative process simply dried up.  Each attempt I made to drive the action forward failed, nothing seemed right.  Deletion followed deletion and then I began to panic.  What if I couldn’t resolve the problem?  What if it meant changing the plot?   As we all know even the smallest change can have serious implications for the rest of the manuscript and sometimes a huge amount of extra work.  And that was an option I really didn’t want to go near.  So I simply stopped.  I closed down the computer and left the room.  Instead I went for a walk and when I returned I resisted the temptation to go straight back and start again.  I let the whole thing marinate for 24 hours and by the time I did turn the PC back on I was clear headed, had some new ideas and was able to move the scene on.
So for me personally, the answer is to take myself completely out of the writing environment.  Walk, listen to music, hit the shops, anything but sit looking at that screen trying to work out where to go next. 
I’ve also come to my own conclusions about blocks.  It’s a sign that what you’re doing isn’t right; that it’s not meant to be.  However, there is a way through it,  You need to keep calm, give yourself time, space and above all be patient.    The solution is there, believe me and it will come to you eventually.

You can learn more about Joanna by visiting our Author & Books Pages, Joanna is also featured on our Author Showcase Trailer playing on our Home page!

Thursday, 14 June 2012

My Worst Nightmare by Eileen Schuh!

Eileen Schuh gives an  entertaining look at her worst nightmare!

I don’t know what I was thinking when I said I’d write a post on my worst nightmare. It’s not that I don’t have any nightmares to write about but rather that it might be impossible to choose which of them is the worst.
When I said I’d do this, I think I had in mind some of the nightmarish events that drive my stories through emotional hell. Like having a child die--which we all know is a mother’s worst nightmare. Or perhaps I was thinking of my phobia of falling from high places…or sinking into a deep, dark, watery grave.
But then I realized I was probably being asked to discuss the worst nightmare in regards to my writing career—not motherhood or skydiving. That’s when my enthusiasm for the project vanished.  Just the day before, I’d  addressed a plethora of my fears on my own blog—things like laying bare my soul and feeling vulnerable, wondering what others would think of me after reading my books, and worrying that my stories might cause my readers to misbehave or attract danger to myself.
However, as my mother always said to me, “If you don’t have something to worry about, you make something up!”—which is true and likely why I write crime novels and not romance.  I just could never see the value in positive stuff happening and then a happy ending.  Nightmares, on the other hand, are powerful, invigorating, horrifying, and entertaining—the stuff that gets adrenalin pumping.  The stuff best sellers are made of.
So what is the absolutely worst nightmare I can think up in regards to my writing? Hmmmm…
A social networking faux pas always put me in a bad mood. The nightmarish part about those errors is that once something is out there in cyberspace—it’s out there forever. Out there for everyone in the entire universe to see, a laugh at, or even worse, be offended by. Yikes. Yup, been there done that…several times.  But that can’t be the WORST thing I can imagine.
Thinking about being hunted down by a criminal gang as pay back for exposing their evil deeds in my BackTracker novels always gets my heart pumping. Except of course, THE TRAZ biker gang exists only in my books and my imagination, which somewhat takes the edge off that excitement.
I’m always worried about getting a bad review posted online or in the New York Times—the latter of which would probably be much less nightmarish than the former.  I mean, just to get mentioned in the famous NYT would be a thrill, even if it was just to get panned. (See, Mom, not all my imaginings are totally bad.)
There’s one recurring nightmarish thought that is quite vivid. The kind of thought that the body reacts to as if it were real and wakes one up sweaty and—
Oh, that’s not it.  That’s just my menopausal hot flashes.
This nightmare thought is one that happens when I’m awake.  It’s one of those ideas that gives one the feeling that one is remembering something awful that’s about to happen…if you know what I mean.  It’s rather like looking in the mirror and seeing a wrinkly, grey lady—
Oh, that’s not it. That’s my non-writing worst nightmare—the fear that I’m getting old and I’m going to die before I get all my stories told and published. And thus, will never become famous—and a decade or two after I’m gone, no one will remember who I was.  That’s what the mirror thing is.
No, this worst writing nightmare, this perpetual worry, this imagining that is so vivid it seems real is that I write an entire book and can’t figure out the ending. That the ending I’d plotted proves to be flawed and doesn’t fit the beginning. That I have this wonderful drama, these deep characters, these powerful words and they…don’t lead anywhere.
Kind of like life...
Or death.
Is that it?
Eileen Schuh, Author

You can learn more about Eileen by visiting our Author, Books & Trailer Pages. Eileen also features on our Author Showcase Trailer playing in our Post Page