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Friday, 31 August 2012

The Heart of the Story

Susan Russo Anderson paints the perfect picture that goes right to the heart of the story.

In another life and far away, I studied at the Art Students League in New York and attended the annual lectures of John Howard Sanden—he’s the artist who recently completed the portraits of Laura and George W. Bush. Invariably, his lecture started with a demonstration, usually an alla prima painting of the sitter’s head in three-quarter view. Afterward, he took questions.

One time, someone asked him, how do you begin a portrait? He smiled and said it depended. Sometimes he started in the conventional way by measuring, mapping, massing out a pose and working to ever smaller shapes as did his mentor and much-loved John Singer Sargent. But sometimes he began by painting an eye in just the right spot on a white canvas, then painting his way to the other eye, the nose, the mouth, chin, forehead, you get it. Whatever. I’m sure before the first sitting, he’d spent hours studying his subject, going round and round the edges, getting all the lines and color into his fingers, making numerous drawings of the person’s facial expression, mixing gobs of paint to capture the subject’s flesh tones, rehearsing various poses and angles until he discovered just the right gesture for the portrait.

So it is with writers and our stories. Sometimes we begin by plotting, other times by fixing on a character, getting the words and color into our fingers. But where does the story begin? The answer varies by genre and by story and by author, I would imagine.

There’s the old saw that a story begins at the point of no return and that’s delicious to chew on, but I’m not really talking about beginning-middle-end. I mean, in the deep down, what moves us to write a particular story or series or body of work? Where’s the eye? Is it contained in the opening scene? Probably not.

My stories begin and end with a few images I carry around in my head. Some of them I’m not even aware of. Sometimes they’re written into a scene, but they’re deeper than that. Like William Faulkner’s image of Caddy in a tree that begins his story of the Snopes family, they begin and end and infuse a body of work. For me, I have two images: one, of a young girl, a tatterdemalion named Tessa, walking the streets of the Lower East Side in the 1900s; a second, of Serafina, a midwife, walking home after managing a birth in nineteenth-century Sicily. She’s waving to the baker and her earrings jingle, catching the sun. What brings them to that point in their lives? Where are they going? What are they doing? Who does what to them?
Where does your story begin?

Find out  more about Susan by visiting our Author & Books Pages

Thursday, 30 August 2012

The Genre I Write by D S Ingram

Asked why do you write in a particular genre, this is what D S Ingram,(Debbie) author of Angel Girls and Poppy Days had to say…

The question of why I write in the genre I do really got me thinking. It's not as straight forward as I first thought. First of all, I had to decide what genre I would classify myself as! lets see.. romance? hmm, well, romance does come into my books, but as a genre, not quite. How about chick lit? personally, I always find that term quite insulting, it sounds to me as if it's inferior to other genres. I write about strong female characters, who always come out on top. I also deal with some very serious issues, such as rape, domestic violence and even murder. Hardly light hearted frippery, and yet I do try to keep a lot of humour in my stories too. I don't want my readers to sink into a hopeless pit of depression as they turn the pages!  I have no plans to write books to slash your wrists by!  Tricky to pigeon hole, I suppose.

Joking aside, I think I write books about women for women, in the main. I always set out to write the kind of stories I would like to read. Stories that I can relate to. Sometimes a bit of escapism is wonderful, and I love reading those sort of books too, however, my favourite kind of books make me laugh, make me cry and make me long for the next instalment. Could I ever achieve that? I hope so. I have always been a people watcher. Snatches of conversation heard on buses or in the street have always inspired me.Even certain sentences heard on the television set me off scrabbling for my notepad and pen. I remember years ago, after a brief and painful holiday romance hearing someone say "I only knew one week of you" that was enough for me to write a poem about short lived romance, and that poem in turn inspired me to write my first novel, Poppy Days.

I have met some absolutely amazing women throughout my life. They have each had some fantastic stories to tell. I did a degree with the Open University, studying Social Science and in my final year I studied Women's Issues.I wasn't sure I would enjoy it if I'm honest, but it turned out to be one of my favourite courses. Summer school that year was incredible. Some of the women I met there had led the most fascinating lives, and overcome such adversity it was truly humbling. The stories we shared around the table in the communal kitchen at the end of the days classes were so fantastic they seemed too crazy to be believable! they say that truth is often stranger than fiction, however, and my writers mind was mentally taking notes! There are so many funny, sad, and downright tragic stories I have picked up along the way it would take several lifetimes to recreate even a few of them. I stored them all away safely inside my head, all ready to scribble down when the time was right. I may have embellished or embroidered a little or a lot in my stories but I have had a lot of fun doing it!

Find out more about Debbie (D S Ingram) and her books by visiting our Author & Books Pages

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Holding Out For a Hero!

Joanna Lambert reveals her secret on how she finds the heroes that brings her books to life.

I don’t know about my other writing colleagues but when I’m working on a novel I have to be able to visualise my hero.  In the Behind Blue Eyes trilogy, when Ella Kendrick first meets Matt Benedict, he is described as ‘a tall, thin faced young man with shaggy brown hair, his light brown eyes the best feature in an otherwise ordinary face’.   He is a quiet, shy song writer and as a friend of mine who read the first book When Tomorrow Comes observed ‘a bit of a wimp.’ By the time we got to the middle of the second book Love Lies and Promises, however, Matt was part of a famous band, had left home and was far worldlier.  And it was not only his personality which had developed, his looks had too! 
I drew on personal experience for this, from someone I had actually been at school with.  He was the last boy out of short trousers in our year.  Oh yes, in those days boys starting senior school couldn’t go into long trousers until the third year (the equivalent of year nine today).  This guy actually didn’t wear long trousers until a year after that so you can imagine in a class full of fourteen year olds the teasing was merciless!   Also, while most of the males in our year grew into quite attractive young men by the time they were sixteen, sadly he remained the bespectacled runt of the class!  Five years after leaving school I tagged along with my boyfriend to a Sunday cricket match.  His team were playing a team from the local Lloyds Bank.  This tall, good looking dark haired guy walked over to me and stood there smiling.  When he introduced himself I was amazed – Hans Christian Andersen was alive and well - the Ugly Duckling had turned into a handsome swan – wow!  Therefore I used this analogy for my book, knowing that it was indeed possible for geeks to turn into exceptionally attractive men.
So now I had this fully developed hero, what was he to look like?  Well, for this I went back to the sixties where the action in the trilogy takes place and looked at the bands we’d followed then.  The decade had been littered with good looking men but there was one who stood out from all the rest.  I’d been a huge fan of the Moody Blues at the time, belonged to their fan club and along with friends worshipped them at their concerts.  At the time frontman Justin Hayward was, for me, one of the best looking men around.  So the template for Matt’s looks was an easy choice.  At the end of the day, however, I know no matter what my perception of Matt is, as soon as someone picks up the first book of the trilogy and begins to read, they will most likely be visualising someone totally different from the person I see.  Because in the end how we see the characters we read about is a very personal thing, and the writer’s vision merely a tool which assists in the creation of the story.

Find out more about Joanna and her books by visiting our Books, Author & Trailer Pages

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Francine Howarth and a Ghostly Enounter!

Francine Howarth tries to explain what she saw as she entered the stable block....

A real life ghost rekindled my interest in the era of the English Civil War and all on a misty morn. But let me say straight off, this write-up is not about promoting my books hence no links etc., despite the fact one in a series of five novels (inspired by the ghost)happens to be for sale as a Kindle e-book. So, back to the ghost I met who left me with the above legacy.

His story began when a sea mist was already swirling around the stable block when I set out to help with the morning feed round. With half the horses already fed I happened around the corner from the tack room to see a dark bay – identical to my favourite horse. It was standing a little ways beyond the far box. He shouldn’t have been there. He should have been inside his box. So, it was only natural to assume one of the stable girls had inadvertently left the bolt unlatched and my horse had sneaked out to graze the nearby lush grass edging the driveway.

As soon as I made toward him I realised he was bridled and the rein broken, but no saddle. What in hell? Unlike Barboy, who would have stubbornly carried on grazing in defiant stance until made to return to his box, this horse ambled off keeping at a safe distance. I never thought to look in Barboy’s box: needless to say he was standing at the back of his box and merrily munching hay whilst I made toward the apparent mirror-image horse.

The horse immediately swung about and took off at a meandering trot out of the main driveway and then headed off along the lane keeping a few strides in front of me. At times like these it's best to follow without trying to intercept a renegade horse, which is likely to spook just for the hell of it. So, there I was jogging in its wake hoping to hell no vehicle came our way and collided with either one or both of us. The mist by this time had thickened somewhat and there was nothing but eerie silence as we headed off the lane and down a track through sand dunes. By the time we hit the beach it felt as though the horse was leading me somewhere, but where and why?

It’s difficult to judge how much distance one has covered in fog, and on an open estuary it can be deadly, especially when the tide is out but on the turn. Needless to say the incoming tide washes across the sand flats and flows up the river so fast it’s easy to get cut-off from safe ground, so few people venture beyond the red flags. Unfortunately, in thick sea fog red flags are worse than useless.

By now suddenly water began seeping across the sand so I knew the tide would be coming in at a fair lick and deepening very quickly. That’s when the horse turned about – me following in its wake – and before I knew it we were back on dry sand, the dunes directly in front of us. The horse stood motionless for a moment as though the fun was over and he was ready to give in. Nevertheless I approached with caution, and not wanting to alarm him I sat down, which usually incites a horse’s curiosity and they’ll come and investigate why you’re sat down. By now had realised this dark bay was not Barboy, nonetheless it couldn’t be left to wander at will. Anyhoo, that’s when I heard voices, male voices yelling and splashing sounds out on the estuary.

If you’ve ever been out in real thick sea fog you’ll know when trying to discern exactly where sound is coming from it is nigh impossible. I looked to the horse, his ears pricked. He let go an earth-shattering whinny and replies came back. By this time I was on my feet, and shouting like mad trying to guide whomever and their horses to safety. More shouting came across the water, more splashing and eventual silence. I had no cell-phone with me, and although it was only a short jog back to a telephone it would have been too late to save whomever, and as hard as I listened there was only silence coming out of the fog.

The horse whinnied again and then took off at the gallop from a standing take-off; rein trailing in its wake as he thundered along the edge of the dunes. The horse I never found, nor sign of dead horses or people when the fog cleared quite suddenly as it often does with an offshore breeze. There was nothing, not even a hoof print in the dunes. No one else reported hearing horses or voices, and I think people seriously thought I’d lost it.

Five days later out riding I met a wild fowler who’d been shooting on the salt flats up stream, and whilst passing the time of day he said he’d heard about my experience. He then confessed to a similar incident he’d had some ten years beforehand, and relayed a similar story told by a yachting family who were anchored out at sea and came in on a high tide. All had heard horses and men as though floundering in the waters of the rising tide.

The wild fowler revealed he’d already embarked on research some years back because his experience had haunted him, plus he learned through his findings that when the first dredging of the estuary was carried out in the 1900s (to allow larger boats access to the neighbouring harbour the other side of the estuary) bones were recovered and identified as that of equine in nature. Also some people with metal detectors had found horseshoes on the sand flats dating back to the 1600s.

A real ghost?

Haunted day and night by the horse apparition I set to with historical research 1600s upwards to present time. What I turned up was a Castle besieged during the English Civil War by Cromwell’s forces,  (Pembroke Castle). Beneath the castle lies a cave, through which Royalist top brass reportedly escaped from by boat and sailed up river to where Royalist troopers and horses were waiting for them. They then fled northward to what they thought was a safe haven under Royalist control, intent on making for Chester. They were expected but they never arrived. Unfortunately the only crossing point of a third river was under the control of the Parliamentarians, so the assumption being the Cavalier force lay low on the salt flats and undercover of darkness set out to cross the estuary.

All of the Cavaliers presumably perished, with exception of one horse: the horse I encountered, because he galloped along the fringe of the dunes quite hale and hearty. And given his broken bridle and no saddle, maybe his rider escaped a drowning as well. Who knows? Whatever happened that day, that weird experience haunted me for some years, and even though I’ve always felt a strong affinity with this particular period in history (English Civil War). Given poetic licence the rider of the ghost horse will survive in a novel that has resulted from this ghostly experience, but that's all I'm prepared to tell you!

So, what did happen that morning in the rolling sea mist? Was it merely an equine ghost expressing loss of fellow horses and their riders on the sand flats?

Find all about Francine by visiting our Books, Author and Trailer Pages

Monday, 27 August 2012

Pauline Barclay has Bagged it!

Pauline Barclay has bagged it with her latest idea to promote her books!

One of the most difficult areas I find doing after my books have been published is creating an awareness that they are out there. I do most things other authors do: I have a blog which is regularly updated. My web is also kept up to the minute. I tweet on twitter and chat on Facebook; sometimes far too much! I seek out book reviewers to read and review my books and send out details to local newspapers when I have something to say and much more, but it is still not enough!

But spending time promoting means I am not devoting time to writing my next book or doing anything else. So like many other Indie authors I juggle everything and hope that the glass plates swirling around in the air don’t come crashing down at any time on my head!  With this in mind my thoughts turned to passive promoting, my books being on view when I’m busy doing something else, like shopping, meeting a friend, even the odd business meeting. 

Living on a little sunny island, has disadvantages as well as advantages. One of the plus sides is the constant stream of visitors. To capitalise on this, I have book marks printed and cards depicting my book covers and hand these out to people who I get talking too and as much as I try, I can’t talk to everyone who arrives on the island!  But, failing this I might be able to attract their attention and what better way than with my handbag, but not just any handbag, one that is designed to show off my books.

Hopefully it will not only create interest but stimulate a conversation and who knows, I might sell more books. I can hope, but in the meantime, I just love my new leather bag, so personal and so me!


Find out more about Pauline and her books by visiting our Author, Books & Trailer Pages

Saturday, 25 August 2012

HUG A BOOK with Suzy Turner

It's HUG A BOOK day with Suzy Turner and you could win an e-copy of December Moon, part of the Raven Trilogy

Suzy Turner - I'm an author - indie author, self-published author, whatever you want to call me, that's fine.I've lived in the Algarve, Portugal, since 1986 when I was a wee lass of just ten. I moved here with my family - who have since moved back to the UK (although my dad has since returned). I'm very much a Yorkshire lass at heart, even though I would consider myself to be European rather than English or Portuguese!
I live with my lovely husband, who I've been with since I was just 16. You could call us childhood sweethearts. We've no kids but plenty of cats and dogs (and my husband would say bikes and cars too...yes, he's a bit obsessed with anything with an engine!). My books todate are Raven, December Moon & The Lost Soul

DECEMBER MOON Amazon UK Amazon com
Witchcraft Vampires & Adventure - available in Kindle & paperback

On her 15th birthday, December Moon discovers she is the descendant of a family of witches, kept in the dark her entire life in an effort to protect her. But when Lilly, her best friend, finds herself in danger from one of the world's most evil vampires, December will do everything in her power to stop him. December Moon is a fantasy novel for children and young adults set in BC, Canada.

The Question:
December Moon is actually the name of one of the lead characters. If you were naming a female teen witch, what would you call her?

Add your answer to the comment box and you could just be the winner to HUG an e-copy of December Moon!

Don't forget there are over SIXTY book's on our Books Page, the shelves are heaving, there’s plenty to hug

Friday, 24 August 2012

The Fascinating History that Inspired To Marry a Duke

Fenella J Miller shares the fascinating history she uncovered whilst researching for her latest published novel, To Marry a Duke.

This book was inspired by an actual place, St Osyth’s Priory, a few miles away from where I live. This is the best preserved mediaeval building in Europe. The Priory used to be open in the summer to members of the public but the current owners stopped all this about 25 years ago.

I was fortunate that the local historian allowed me to spend the day looking through original documents, letters and plans and then invited me to accompany her when she took a private coach party on a tour of the house and grounds. It would seem that in order to retain his grant the owner has to allow three coach parties a year to visit his home.

The descriptions and names of the rooms are accurate, they all existed in the Regency and indeed most of them still do. I made every effort to get the history correct so a reader is getting a true picture of the Priory as it was in 1812.

Unfortunately the Regency section of the building was demolished in the early 19th century and then parts of it rebuilt and this is what remains today. There is no longer a gatehouse and long drive and the ornamental lake has also gone.

However, as you will see from the pictures I've included, the Priory is still magnificent and well worth a visit if you're in the vicinity. The local church is also beautifully preserved from that time and is, as I described, no more than a stone's throw from the front of the Priory.

The Priory was surrendered to Henry VIII in 1539 by Prior Colchester and the King gave it to Thomas Cromwell, the Earl of Essex, and it never reverted to the Crown. Thomas Darcy bought the Priory and other estates for the princely sum of £3974. 9s 41/2d the same year he was created Lord Darcy of Chichester.

Queen Elizabeth was entertained here by Darcy’s son. After he died the Savage family inherited it and it was allowed fall into decay.

1768 the Earl of Rochford moved in and bought some Poplar trees Lombardy and four or five of them are still growing in the park. These were the first to have been planted in England. George III went to inspect the camp at Colchester stayed at  St Osyth. Rochford was also a personal friend of George II and 111.

Lady Allegra Witherton and her brother, the Duke of Colchester, are not based on any historical figures. I always wanted to write a romance about an aristocratic woman and a hero who is in trade - most Regency stories have the roles reversed. Jago Tremayne and his daughter Demelza, my hero and his daughter, are from Cornwall somewhere I lived for two years and my children were small and still have a fondness for.

I hope you enjoy reading my book as much as I enjoyed researching and writing it.
Fenella Miller

To Mary a Duke - blurb

Lady Allegra Humphrey knows her place is at the top of the aristocratic tree and she has no time for cits.  If she and her twin brother, Richard, Lord Witherton, the Duke of Colchester wish to retain their position in society they will have to make compromises. Self-made millionaire Jago Tremayne now owns St Osyth’s Priory, Allegra's ancestral home, and is determined to own her as well.
Rejected by the haut ton, Jago believes he has the perfect plan to ensure both he and his daughter, Demelza, will soon be welcome in the best drawing-rooms. Marriage is the answer! However, there are people who do not wish to see the union proceed and are prepared to commit murder to stop it.

To Marry a Duke - Extract

The Red Lion, Colchester

Jago Tremayne prowled back and forth in his private parlour, stopping every few minutes to stare out of the window and down into the yard. Damn the man, where was he? He had carefully chosen Southey to deliver his message, not Evans, because he wished his victims to be suitably crushed by his news.
His breath hissed through his clenched teeth. There, the carriage had returned at last. Unable to remain in his rooms he pounded down the stairs and met Evans and Southey as they entered the inn.
‘Well, is it done?’
‘It is, sir, exactly as you requested.’  Southey smiled. ‘Hardly a peep out of either of them. I promise they’ll not kick up a dust, they’ll leave like lambs on the appointed date.’
Jago’s expression hardened. ‘Your job is done, Southey. Take your money and make yourself scarce.’ He tossed a bulging purse at the man, who caught it deftly.
‘You know where to find me, sir, if you should have need of my services again.’
Jago turned to the lawyer his expression almost friendly. ‘Come up, Evans, and tell me exactly what happened. I wish to know every detail however insignificant.’
Over two bottles of port the story unfolded. He was not displeased by what he heard. ‘So, they are expecting to be evicted in less than two weeks?’ Evans nodded. ‘Don’t look so downcast, man, it will not come to that. I could not tell you the whole before, you had to believe what Southey told them.’
‘Believe? Is it not true then, sir? Will Lady Allegra and Lord Witherton be able to stay on at the Priory?’
Jago smiled slightly and poured himself another brimming glass. ‘As you know I have more money than I could spend in ten lifetimes. Good God, I could buy and sell half the aristocrats in London and still see change.’ He swallowed deeply and wiped his mouth on his cuff. ‘But, do you know, Evans, I’m still persona non grata at the best homes. I belong to all the right clubs, dress at Weston’s, and own a townhouse in the fashionable part of London, but the tabbies won’t have me. I am a cit! They would rather welcome an impoverished émigré than invite me into their houses.’
He paused as he considered the injustice of it all. Leaning forward, he stared blearily at his companion. ‘Why is that, Evans? Why is that?’
‘You do not have the pedigree, sir. Money counts but in some circles bloodlines are everything.’
Tremayne banged the table, sending both glasses flying. ‘Exactly! So I decided if I could not buy my way into society I would marry into it. My daughter, Demelza, will marry a duke and my grandchildren will be aristocrats. How is that for a man descended from Cornish tin miners?’
Evans righted the glasses and refilled them. ‘I should have guessed, sir. A real villain would never have allowed Lady Allegra and Lord Witherton to remain so long or paid all their living expenses.’
‘He will agree, won’t he, Evans? My girl’s pretty and has little to say for herself. That would be considered an advantage by many men, wouldn’t it?’
The lawyer drained his glass and beamed. ‘He will bite your hand off in his eagerness. But forgive me, sir, I must warn you, the duke is a pleasant enough young man but not what I would call good husband material. He gambles and drinks to excess and runs a string of expensive ladybirds.’
Tremayne yawned. ‘But he will not continue in that vein, I promise you. I shall keep a tight hold on the purse strings. I might be rich but I’m not stupid.’ He pushed himself upright, swaying a little. ‘Good God, I’m foxed! I’d no idea I’d consumed so much. I’m going to my bed, Evans. I will bid you goodnight.’
‘What time will you be visiting the Priory tomorrow, sir?’
‘Not before noon. Come here at eleven o’clock, there are some documents I’ve had drawn up and I would like a second opinion.’
Evans bowed, almost losing his balance. ‘I should be honoured, sir. Goodnight until the morning.’
Jago walked unsteadily to the door that led to his bedchamber and, neglecting to lower his head, swore viciously as he reeled back. ‘God dammit, Sam Perkins, why didn’t you warn me to duck?’
His valet, and friend, grinned unsympathetically. ‘I would have, sir, if I’d known you was coming in at that precise moment.’
‘I need a…’
‘It’s in that closet, sir. Mind your head!’ Years of living with his formidable master had inured him to his moods. He knew, as probably no other did, that under the brusque exterior lurked a much gentler man.

Find out more about Fenell’s gripping novels by visiting our Author & Books Pages

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Fabulous New Covers for the Raven Saga!

Suzy Turner reveals the fabulous new covers for her Raven Saga and spills on how they came to be re-designed.

“Something amazing happened this weekend.... I'd been working with a really cool book designer (Ravven) on my new book (which comes out in November). We'd just got it done and dusted, I paid her and she sent me the files. Shortly afterwards, I got an email from a fellow author pal who just so happens to also be a book designer (Emma Michaels). She asked me how I felt about my covers for The Raven Saga.

"Well, to be honest (and I'd never said this to anyone else) I wasn't actually that keen on them and I told her so. She came straight back with an offer I couldn't refuse. One that I accepted on the spot. Over the course of the weekend, Emma proceeded to work on not one, not two, but all three of my book covers for The Raven Saga! The result was something so mind blowingly awesome that I was totally bowled over!

"So over the weekend, not only did I get the cover of my dreams for my new book (stay tuned for the Grand Reveal in September), but I also got the covers of my dreams for my already published ones! Am I a happy chappesse or what?”

Find out more about Suzy and her YA fantasy novels on our Author, Books &b Trailer Pages.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

The Healing Power of Writing by Janet Beasley

Why Do I Write What I Write? Asks Janet Beasley, creative, inspiring and epic fantasy writer of the Hidden Earth Series.

     It’s an answered prayer complete with inspiration, adrenaline, and a way to beat the odds!

     There I was, crying my eyes out. Yet again my chronic illnesses had taken their toll and I had collapsed. I was forced to watch helplessly, one more time, as my dreams turned to dust (a book in the wings waiting to be revised and released by yours truly).

     What was the most current adventure before it dissolved? A bakery / “BARK”-ery in full swing, while on the back burner simmered a huge portion of creativity: four separate themed restaurants laid out ready to go, all with full menus – original recipes – venue layouts – and much more.

     And the dream before that? An audio visual company founded by me and my husband that had made it to the ranks of speaking at conferences nationwide, designing and installing sound-lights-special effects-and multimedia systems for churches, restaurants, schools, and other commercial establishments. We had been published in trade specific magazines, written and published numerous non-fiction books, and created and developed not only a training facility, but also the curriculum for the entire technical school where we trained upcoming technicians how not only to operate equipment but also survive the industry.

     Then life happened.

     For creative geniuses life does not come easy when you don’t have an outlet to release your ideas, your dreams, your talent, or your stories. It’s not a favored “cup of tea” to sip when your cup is filled with crumbling aspirations where you have no control.

     It wasn’t just my health that got in the way, Mother Nature had her say in the matter as
well; we weathered four hurricanes, and the loss of family and friends. With the hurricanes came the collapse of our businesses and home. We suffered financial ruins, and somehow found ourselves training, on the job, to be the caregivers for my dear, sweet, diabetic mother who is suffering from dementia, and my loving father who just turned eighty. All while trying to keep myself healthy to handle the load.

     It wasn’t until I was brought to a screeching halt that I pulled my novel, Maycly, back out and began to take it seriously. I had never been a novelist in my life, but I had always been the victim of a fantastical imagination.

     Being that I’m not a quitter, I discovered writing my inspirational epic fantasies was the “escape” I had been praying for through all of the turmoil. The way in which it came to light was a miracle, at least to me.

     I reconnected with a dear friend after 30+ years. He told me about his publishing company, and I told him about Maycly. Long story short, with the encouragement from my friend and his senior executive editor I found a talent I didn’t even know I had!

     At age 49 I put myself through writing school specifically for fantasy writing, spent hours upon hours researching the genre and all it entails, and went from being a “slug without a purpose” to a creative genius with an outlet to release my creativity.

      Another prayer was answered, that being to have an amazing book filled with illustrations, maps, and more. But I didn’t know we had an artist in the family. I’ll never forget the day my sister, Dar Bagby, called me and asked me if would like for her to draw a couple of pictures of my creative fantasy animals and such. With jaw dropped I answered yes. She has become my exclusive illustrator, proofreader, and editor.  In addition we landed a fabulous pagination expert, Connie Thompson, author of A Fascination for Feathers.

      And as the project emerged, we found ourselves publishing two additional companion books just for Maycly: a full color illustration book complete with detailed descriptions titled “The Chukkons Say, ‘Ye Need ta Be a-Seein’ Maycly.” The second companion book for Maycly is a complete cookbook filled with the restaurants, their owners’ histories, menus, and recipes. . .yup, I pulled out my “dust” (the bakery / BARK-ery, and themed restaurants) and used it in the novel Maycly. The cook book will be titled “More Than Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup.”

     I have to be honest, at first it wasn’t about anyone but me! I had set a goal, and purposed in my heart to bring a novel to publication. I am happy to say I have achieved that goal. The challenges of selling and promoting had not crossed my mind – but now I’m experiencing that amazing trek with the help of Hyperlinks Media – yes, another answered prayer filled with inspiration, shared enthusiasm, and knowledge I did not possess in the field.

    To top off all of this icing with sprinkles, as I made the journey to publication, I was astonished to find I have at five more novels in me to complete the now six novel series. Maycly Parts 1, 2, and 3 has become Volume 1 of 6 in my Hidden Earth Series; an inspirational epic fantasy suitable for the entire family. Through it all. . .I’m elated to tell you our audio visual company, Multi-Tech Productions, Inc., has rebuilt and returned to serve the central Florida area.

     And that’s why I write what I write. I couldn’t be happier.   


   Find our more about Janet from out Author, Books & Trailer Pages

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Multi-Tasking & Serious Writing by Caroline James

Caroline James, whose debut novel, Coffee, Tea the Gypsy & Me, was the e-book of the week in The Sun, talks about finding time to write whilst looking her family and holding down her full time –and-more job!

I started writing seriously a couple of years ago.  ‘Seriously’ meaning getting up at some ungodly hour to write and multi-tasking family, full-time-and-more-job and many commitments  to catch a few more hours before bed to put pen to paper and fingers to the keyboard.

As my first book took shape and began to romp home, I holed up in a hidey-hole in Wales to get it finished and will never forget the huge sense of pride and relief as I typed the final sentence.  Little did I know that the hard work had only just begun!  After endless editing, proof-reading and more of the same, I decided to test the water on Amazon Kindle and my publicity machine – me, had to kick in to get it out there.  The book has done well and sat at number three in women’s fiction for a short while, was e-book of the week in The Sun (OK it’s not The Guardian but boy did that whoop sales through the roof…).  It set my heart racing each morning as I flew to Amazon to check stats and reviews.  During this process I dipped my toes (dived head-first!) in the agent and publisher submission process and have lost count of the rejections.  But the public seemed to like it and as book sales increased and publicity grew there was a glimmer of interest from a very good agent and a couple of publishers.  The book is set in the 80’s when shoulder-pads and Princess Di frills and bows reigned supreme, smoking was still OK and women were experiencing a new sense of freedom beyond the stigma of divorce.  The publishers wanted to change it though and as keen as I am to be an ‘officially’ published author, the changes just didn’t feel right.  The words of someone I hugely admire kept whispering in my ear “stay true to your own creativity.”  I joined FFP and suddenly this Indie world felt right – there are some brilliant authors on this site who work tirelessly to get their work out there and share the highs and lows.  I felt very inspired.

So here I am a few months later about to publish in paperback, a revised version of Coffee, Tea, The Gypsy & Me hopefully the typos have been taken out (though only a couple of reviews mentioned them).  I am experiencing another on-going learning curve of ‘how to do it’ but the entrepreneurial side of me thinks ‘sod-it’ to the mainstream world.  I’ve set up a publishing company and will learn from my mistakes with my first book before I launch others, others being other authors.  My day job gives me opportunities to meet wonderfully creative people who have a story to tell, who need a chance just like I have.  This will either fall flat on its face or take off nicely and in the meantime my next book is making my fingers burn the midnight oil as it so badly wants to be written; once on the writing-wheel of fortune I don’t want to get off.   Over the last couple of weeks we have heard heart-warming stories from all the amazing Olympic athletes who say that hard work, endless hours and complete dedication is the key to their success – sound familiar?

Find out more about Caroline by visiting our Author, Books & Trailer Pages

Monday, 20 August 2012

Why Suzy Turner Wants To Spread the YA Love!

Author of The Raven Trilogy, Suzy Turner talks about her passion for YA and why she loves to write this genre.

Rewind time twenty years. No, more actually, say 23 years. I was 13 and had been reading since I was able to open a book on my own (ok, maybe not quite that young but you get my drift). I was obsessed with everything chick lit. It was all I read. I devoured books by Jackie Collins, Jilly Cooper, Harold Robbins, Shirley Conran and so on. In fact I read the kind of books that I probably shouldn't have been reading until I was a wee bit older but I learned a lot, if you know what I mean ;)

I continued reading such filth literature for a few more years, eventually turning to the likes of Jenny Colgan, Belinda Jones, Wendy Holden, etc. And then something happened. A friend lent me a book she'd read and was clearly obsessed about. I wasn't so sure. I mean, it was called Harry Potter, for goodness sake. Why on earth was I going to enjoy a kids book about a wizard (okay, maybe the wizarding fact intrigued me a little)? But she insisted I read it.

The moment I turned that page and began to read, I was completely enchanted like I'd never been before. I was whisked away into a land of mysticism and magic and I completely and utterly fell in love. I devoured that book quicker than I've ever read anything in my life. Luckily I'd been introduced to Harry Potter when the second and third books were already out so I was able to continue my fantasy for a little while longer. Having to wait for the subsequent sequels to come out was painful. I quite literally yearned for those books. When each one did come out, I was like a child at Christmas. It was really quite wonderful.

And then came Twilight. It was almost the same... I drank in every last ounce of the saga (although there were bits I didn't like, the name Renesmee for instance, and the whole imprinting thing... shudder) and that was it. It was those two series that introduced me to a whole new genre: YA.

Now I rarely read anything else. Having said that, I am reading an adult vampire book at the moment and I still do like to get away from it all and just read a nice girlie book every once in a while. But its the YA books that always draw me in... I've got tonnes of them on my Kindle just waiting to be read (I'm a slow reader).
So that is why I write YA, simply because I'm so passionate about it. I want to spread the YA love...

Find out more about Suzy by visiting our Author, Books & Trailer Pages. Also watch our Author Showcase video too!

Saturday, 18 August 2012

HUG A BOOK with Carol E Wyer

It's HUG A BOOK day with Carol E Wyer and you could win a copy of Mini Skirts & Laughter Lines and Surfing in Stilettos

Carol E Wyer - A graduate of the University of Keele in Staffordshire, Carol E Wyer is a former teacher, linguist and physical trainer.
     She spent her early working life in Casablanca, Morocco, where she translated for companies and taught English as a Foreign Language. She then returned to work in education back in the UK and set up her own language company in the late eighties.
     In her forties, following problems with her own health, she retrained to become a personal trainer to assist people, who like herself, had undergone major surgery.
     Having spent the last decade trying out all sorts of new challenges such as kick boxing, diving and flying helicopters she is now ensuring that her fifties are ‘fab not drab’ and has put her time to good use by learning to paint, attempting to teach herself Russian and writing a series of novels and articles which take a humorous look at getting older.
     Named affectionately by her American followers as BOTUK (Bombeck Of the UK) due to her humorous posts, Carol is a regular blogger and social networking addict.
          More information about Carol can be found at

Mini Skirts and Laughter Lines

Amanda Wilson can't decide between murder, insanity and another glass of red wine. Facing 50 and all that it entails is problematic enough. What's the point in minking your eyes, when your husband would rather watch 'Russia Today' than admire you, strutting in front of the television in only thigh boots and a thong?
     Her son has managed to perform yet another magical disappearing act. Could he actually be buried under the mountain of festering washing which is strewn on his bedroom floor? He'll certainly be buried somewhere when she next gets her hands on him.
     At least her mother knows how to enjoy herself. She's partying her twilight years away in Cyprus. Queen of the Twister mat, she now has a toy boy in tow.
     She really shouldn't have pressed that send button. The past always catches up with you sooner or later. Still, her colourful past is a welcome relief to her monochrome present; especially when it comes in the shape of provocative Todd Bradshaw, her first true love.
     Soon Mandy has a difficult decision to make; one that will require more than a few glasses of Chianti.

Surfing in Stilettos 

Amanda Wilson has been left in France with only old Ted, several bottles of Chateaux Plonk and a Space Hopper for company. 
It all began when the camper van broke down in the middle of rural France. At the same time her dopey son Tom, back home in the UK, held a raucous party in which the front door was smashed and an entire clan of squatters moved in.
The far too frequent Skype calls from her irrepressibly cheerful mother aren’t improving her mood any, nor is the fact that her mother is embarking upon a thrilling new venture. 
On a beach in Sydney, a lonely Todd Bradshaw realises that his first true love, Amanda Wilson, was definitely the only woman for him. How can he get back into her good books and hopefully back into her arms?
In Cyprus, a new sensation is hitting the world by storm. But just who is that modelling the ‘boob tubes’?
Back in France, Bibi Chevalier has lost all patience with her philandering husband. She has come up with an innovative way of ensuring her husband will never stray again; one that will leave him pleading for her to have him back. All she needs is the help of Amanda.
However, Bibi soon discovers that the best-laid plans can backfire spectacularly.

To have a chance of winning one of these top selling reads leave your answer to the following question in the comment box below… good luck!

The Question: In both my books Amanda Wilson is determined to inject some fun into her life. What one thing would you still like to do or what challenge would you like to give yourself?

Don' forget there are over SIXTY books on our Books Page, the shelves are heaving, there’s plenty to hug