Today With Alex Martin

Introducing the authors who will be at the Tenby Book Fair,, the first event of the Tenby Arts Festival .  I’m looking forward to having many more such chats over the next couple of months. 

So far I’ve interrogated interviewed Rebecca Bryn:, Thorne Moore: , Matt Johnson: , Christoph Fischer: , Sally Spedding:, Wendy Steele: ,Kathy MIles: , Carol Lovekin:, Colin R Parsons: and Lisa Shambrook:   And thanks to Thorne Moore for interviewing me:  Over the next few weeks I’ll be introducing the rest of the authors and I’ll also be showcasing the publishers who will be in attendance. There may also be a short chat with John and Fiona of who, as usual, will be filming the event.


Today I’m with my great friend and successful Indie author , Alex Martin,



Hi Alex, welcome, and thank you for being here today to let your readers learn a little bit more about you and your brilliant books. 

 Lovely to be here, Judith.

So, a favourite question of mine, what were you like at school?  What were you like at school?

Interesting question. So long ago it’s hard to remember! I was the joker in the pack, sporty and a team player. Strange, as I’m relishing being a writer hermit these days and letting the world go hang.

I wanted to stay on in school but it changed from being a grammar school to a secondary modern just as I was taking my O Levels and the teachers either went off sick or drank themselves to death – well, one did – the English teacher. I wore black and was summoned to the Head’s office to explain my refusal to wear the new uniform. My answer: “I’m in mourning for my education.” Parental support wasn’t forthcoming to study for A Levels and go to university so I worked from the age of seventeen as a secretary. I did some interesting jobs, working for a publisher of children’s books, an industrial catering company, a legal firm and the last of which was personal assistant to a CEO of an agricultural consultancy firm working in third world countries. So I wouldn’t say I hadn’t been well educated, just did it my own way.

Were you good at English?

Yes, I loved it. Loved writing essays, chewing my pencil, thinking up bizarre answers to straightforward subjects. Hated reading aloud; still have a hang up about that despite singing in musical productions. Read voraciously on rainy days.

What are your ambitions for your writing career?

To earn a decent living doing what I love.

Which writers inspire you?

So many! Randomly, from the top of my head: EM Forster, Jane Austen, (obvs as they say these days), Winston Graham, Kazuo Ishigouro, Audrey Niffenegger, Thorne Moore, Judith Barrow (!), Joanna Trollope, GK Chesterton, Laurie Lee, Dorothy Dunnett. Shakespeare’s not bad.

So, what have you written?

If I include my next one, which is in the last stages of editing and I’m really excited about, five novels and a collection of three short stories.

The Twisted Vine

The Twisted Vine ( was my debut book and partly autobiographical. It’s set in deepest rural France in the 1980’s. Roxanne Rudge escapes from a disastrous relationship by going grape-picking in France, despite not being able to speak much French. She meets a sinister Frenchman there and uncovers his devious plans to claim his inheritance of a beautiful chateau she’s working in. She finds romance but even that isn’t straightforward. Many twists and turns along the way ensure that Roxanne faces her fears and finds her true self.

Daffodils (The Katherine Wheel Book 1)

Daffodils (which can be found at is book one of The Katherine Wheel Series, currently a trilogy but a fourth is mapped out in my head. It’s entirely different to The Twisted Vine and, without meaning to, in writing about the sleepy village in Wiltshire where my kids were born, I got drawn into the global drama of World War One. The research took me ten years, off and on, and both moved and humbled me. I got fascinated with the role of women at that time and began to understand that it was this generation that was the vanguard of the feminist movement today. Women drove trains and buses, swept the streets and emptied the dustbins. My lead character, Katy Beagle, once a frustrated, restless maidservant at Cheadle Manor, ends up working as a mechanic for the WAAC on the frontline in France. Her journey is an emotional one about a marriage suffering under the strain of scandal, bereavement and the epic scale of that conflict.

Peace Lily (The Katherine Wheel Series Book 2)

Then I, like my readers, wanted to know what would happen to the rest of the cast in Daffodils after the war ended. The research for the sequel, Peace Lily, was no less chastening, as the rulers of the rigid order at home wanted to restore the old class system that had held sway for generations in rural England. Katy, ever one to break down barriers, isn’t ready to settle for returning to domestic service and finds an ingenious way to start a new life in Peace Lily ( Both stories follow the aristocratic side of life during this tumultuous time through Katy’s boss, Cassandra Smythe. I wanted to see how the dynamic with the haves and have nots changed through this short era of upheaval.

Speedwell (The Katherine Wheel Book 3)

In Speedwell, ( Katy, now the proud owner of a struggling garage, hits upon a life-changing idea and explores it, with the aid of Cassandra’s American husband, Douglas Flintock, in the exciting arena of motor-car racing in the 1920’s, with unforeseen consequences.

There’s a lot in these books – it’s hard to summarise them! The final one, still in the planning stage, will be Woodbine and Ivy which will follow the lives of the next generation through the war that defined them, World War Two.

My latest book, The Rose Trail, is different again; different genre, the paranormal, and an entirely different cast of characters. It is partly set in the modern day, partly in the turbulent time of the English Civil War. An atmospheric manor house is at its heart. It’s again set in Wiltshire, where I grew up and climaxes in a battle that really took place there.

An image posted by the author.

My collection of short stories are all modern. Some are sweet, some are really quite sour. Every reader of my novels is entitled to read them for free.

Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand?

I write in my garden shed – see where I use my laptop until the battery fades. On really good writing days I scuttle back up the long garden path and plug it in to recharge while I quickly scoff some lunch and then hurtle back before the muse deserts me. I’ve got some heat and light in there but it’s off grid so I’m not distracted into browsing or doing social media on the Internet. I’m very easily distracted! I have a view of the Welsh mountains which invigorate a flagging imagination very well. On the walls I pin mind maps, real maps, bits of research, cast of characters, their physical appearances, and their many foibles.

When did you decide to become a writer?

I’m not sure I did. It chose me. As soon as I started reading, which I adore, and got lost into another world, the decision was made. Took many, many years to manifest my own work but I’m loving it.

Why do you write?

I write because I’m a restless sort of person and very curious about everything. If I don’t channel that energy into something creative, I’m not much fun to be around. And it’s a fantastic way to explore other worlds, other realities, other lives. A major breakthrough came when I realised that you shouldn’t ‘write’ at all. Now, I have my various rituals – light a candle, short meditation, fiddle with pens, write in my journal – and then I go into the character. I become the character. It’s then like watching a video. Because I am them – and that goes for the rotten ones too – I live their story and it flows out through my fingers on to the keyboard. It can be quite exhausting. Research stalls this process quite often – oh, and real life sometimes – and then I have to absorb the facts I’ve learned into the scene, so they become the scene. Does that make sense?

Tell us about the cover/s and how it/they came about.

I have a firm concept of each cover, even before the story is written. I work with plants in my day job – I’m an aromatherapist – so I wanted plants to be involved somehow, as they are so much part of me and it’s become a brand, with each title having a plant in it. For Daffodils, I searched for many days to find a picture representing women in WW1 that wasn’t subject to copyright but when I did find the one of WAAC girls on the beach at Etaples, France, exactly at the time Katy was there, a huge tingle went up my spine. It’s called Daffodils because ultimately the book is about hope, encapsulated by springtime, after the darkest, blackest of winters. On a personal note, it is also a nod to my Mum, who was born on the first day of spring and died around her birthday, when I completed the book. I kept fresh daffodils in her room until it was over.

The others just followed from there. Peace Lily was the only plant I could find with peace in its name but its morphology is so appropriate for the subtext about sexual boundaries. Speedwell, as well as its joyous blue colour, so typical of the 1920’s, was an obvious choice for a book about racing cars. The Twisted Vine evokes the elegance of the French chateau at its dark heart and grapes had to be depicted! Jane Dixon Smith of   put it all together for me with her usual professional panache.


I’m just putting together some ideas for The Rose Trail cover. I want it to be radically different from the others and I know Jane will steer me into getting the branded look right. A background a bit like this perhaps; it’s a creepy story and I want the cover to reflect that.

How can readers discover more about you and you work?

Click on the hyperlinked titles of each book above or below. They are all on Amazon and in local bookstores around Gower, where I live. Here’s the links again or you can simply click on the pictures to check them out:

The Twisted Vine:

The Katherine Wheel Series: )


Peace Lily:



Thank you, Alex for sharing this with us..

And thank you Judith for inviting me. I always enjoy chatting to you.

Today With Lisa Shambrook

Introducing the authors who will be at the Tenby Book Fair,, the first event of the Tenby Arts Festival .  I’m looking forward to having many more such chats over the next couple of months.

So far I’ve interrogated interviewed Rebecca Bryn:, Thorne Moore: , Matt Johnson: , Christoph Fischer: , Sally Spedding:, Wendy Steele  and Kathy MIles: , Carol Lovekin:  and Colin R  Parsons:  And thanks to Thorne Moore for interviewing me:  Over the next few weeks I’ll be introducing the rest of the authors and I’ll also be showcasing the publishers who will be in attendance. There may also be a short chat with John and Fiona of who, as usual, will be filming the event.

Today I’m delighted to introduce inspirational author, Lisa Shambrook, who recently has launched a lovely new book.

Lisa-2015-author-photo-Square-900kb (1)


Hi, Lisa, so good to have you here today to talk abouit your work.

 Hi Judith, Good to be here.

Please explain how you came to be a writer, what inspired you to write your book (s) and how long it took.


Writing, along with reading and art, was always part of my life. When I was young I wanted to be an author and illustrator, but my words came faster and stronger than my art, and writing became my passion.

It was after reading the first Harry Potter book that I thought I could do this for real, and with the birth of my youngest sixteen years ago I began to write. Within a decade I had a fantasy trilogy and one and a half more books written. After querying I realised the books were woefully inadequate and I set about learning and improving my craft. A few years of education and flash fiction really honed my words and skills, and I set about writing a new series. In 2013, 14 and 15 I released The Hope Within novels, very different from my first forays into writing, but they have been well received and taught me much.

What facets of your life, both personal and professional, are woven into your book, if any?

Beneath the Rainbow (A Hope Within Novel Book 1)

Beneath the Old Oak (A Hope Within Novel Book 2)Beneath the Distant Star (A Hope Within Novel Book 3)







The Hope Within books: ‘Beneath the Rainbow’, ‘Beneath the Old Oak’, and ‘Beneath the Distant Star’ have dealt with difficult subjects. These books cover grief, depression, self-harm, anger issues and bullying. It’s heavy stuff, but essential to understand the human condition. I have suffered anxiety and depression for most of my life and so the themes have been woven easily into the books with compassion and empathy. I am also a big dreamer and my imagination soars. The main theme of Beneath the Rainbow is living life to the full and reaching for those so called impossible dreams. The book’s tagline reads “It’s those silly dreams that keep us alive.” And sometimes they really do. Reach for those distant stars!

Are you like any of the characters (and how so)?

I am very much like both Meg, and her mum Martha, in ‘Beneath the Old Oak’. Meg suffers anxiety and a desire to be there for her mum, but just isn’t able to cope with her mother’s deep depression. Having been clinically depressed and a regular self-harmer I am well qualified to write about them and their effects. I am an advocate for mental health awareness and blog regularly about mental health issues alongside positivity and reaching for your dreams.

When did you decide to write in your chosen genre(s)

The Hope Within novels are contemporary and fit well into the Young Adult genre, but I have had lovely feedback and reviews from all ages and genders. I don’t think I decided to write for a particular genre at first, ‘Beneath the Rainbow’ doesn’t fit clearly, but the subsequent books do, and I feel comfortable with the YA placing. I am currently working on a Post-Apocalyptic/Fantasy series set in Wales, far, far in the future, which will be aimed at the YA market, and the wonderful thing about YA is that we’re all young at heart, so the genre is very accessible to all.

Describe where you do most of your writing. What would I see if I was sitting beside you?

I write in my living room on my laptop on my sofa with my German Shepherd close by. Though, amusingly, if I write a sad scene and weep, she wanders over and rests her head on my lap. She’s as empathetic as I am! One day when my children have left home, I plan to take over one of their bedrooms and write at a desk overlooking the garden, though I might end up procrastinating as I stare out into the wilds…

What are the best and the worst aspects of writing?

The best is allowing my imagination free reign. I write to escape. The worst is finding time. Right now both my parents are fragile and ill, and need a lot of my time, so finding those moments to write are precious. I used to love sitting and writing all day, but currently, that’s just not possible.

Tell us one odd thing about you and one really mundane thing.

Let’s go mundane first – I’m an introvert, a lot of writers are, we like to hide away and we value our own company. And the odd thing – my children joke that I’m a squirrel as I seek out acorn cups and hazelnut shells. There is a reason. I suffer anxiety and panic, and I use these cups and hollowed shells as anchors and stims. I’ve written about it on my blog as they also work as a preventative for self-harm too. When panic rises and I feel the urge to run or escape, particularly in social situations, I smooth my thumb across the acorn cup or hazelnut shell and it calms me. I carry a multitude of them, in all my pockets, and it makes my family smile.

Lastly, what are you up to right now?

I am currently releasing a Post-Apocalyptic collection with a wonderful group of authors. It began when my family did a post-apocalyptic family photoshoot and one of my daughter’s pictures garnered a lot of attention. My writing community wanted to write for her character, so we gave her a name, and a world, and something to fight for. Then we instructed those involved to write for their own characters, but somewhere in their stories they had to meet Ghabrie, our main character. The stories are amazing and the book very different to usual collaborations and anthologies out there. You get a full length epic book with stories by fourteen very different authors, which all tie together in the most unexpected ways. It’s available now in Lulu and will soon be available on Amazon too. Look out for ‘Human 76’.

Human 76 - An Unprecendted collection of Post Apocalyptic  Stories - Ghabrie

My Links: Facebook Author Page:




Amazon Author Page:


Human 76 Facebook Page:

Today With Kathy Miles

Introducing the authors who will be at the Tenby Book Fair,, the first event of the Tenby Arts Festival .  I’m looking forward to having many more such chats over the next couple of months. 

So far I’ve interrogated interviewed Rebecca Bryn:, Thorne Moore: , Matt Johnson: , Christoph Fischer:  and Sally Spedding: and Wendy Steele:  and Graham Watkins:  And thanks to Thorne Moore for interviewing me today:  Over the next few weeks I’ll be introducing the rest of the authors and I’ll also be showcasing the publishers who will be in attendance. There may also be a short chat with John and Fiona of who, as usual, will be filming the event.


Today I’m really pleased to be chatting with Kathy Miles whose work has appeared in many anthologies and magazines. She was the 2015 winner of the Bridport Poetry Prize.

Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? 

I am primarily a poet, but also write short fiction pieces, drama, and non-fiction. The disciplines required for each genre are very different, but also exhilarating, and I enjoy the challenges involved in writing out of my main genre area. I think I was initially drawn to poetry as a means of expression because of an overwhelming love of words…I’m  just as happy browse-reading a dictionary or thesaurus as a novel. I particularly like exploring their etymology, how the meanings of words have changed over the centuries. So many wonderful words have fallen into disuse, or their meanings changed completely from the original: in these cases, it’s not only the words which are lost, but their associated cultural mores. I always work with a range of  dictionaries and thesauri on my desk, many of them published prior to 1950, and find it exciting when I can trace a word back to a meaning quite different from its contemporary usage. I love playing with words, as well as with the various structures and rhythms of a poem, and I think this is why I write mainly in this genre: for me, what I can do with the words is very satisfying.


Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?

My parents read to me when I was little: there was always a bedtime story, and the house was full of books. My father was a part-time writer, and I would go into his study and read whatever I could lay my hands on. He worked as a clerk in the local government offices, and was paid monthly. I remember that whenever he got his salary (in one of those little brown folded envelopes) he would go to the bookshop on the way home and buy me a new book. My mother had no literary aspirations, but she read magazines avidly, so along with the books, I grew up on Womens’ Own, Womens’ Weekly and The Readers’ Digest, which in those days always published a good range of short fiction in their pages.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing for as long as I could hold a pen. I have drawerfuls of poems and stories I wrote as a child, the earliest being from when I was about five. There was no specific reason for it: it was just something I always did, and which I never questioned. Other people took part in sport, went swimming, drew pictures or made things, and I wrote.

What are some of the references that you used while researching this book?

I’m very careful to research each poem thoroughly. When I’m writing I use resources which would normally include subject-specific databases and web sources as well as hard copy books, encyclopaedias, dictionaries and thesauri. I have a massive Dictionary of Mythology which is pretty much falling apart at the seams!




What do you think most characterises your writing?

I write a great deal about the landscape: living in a rural area is a huge privilege. I have badgers visiting my garden at night, dragonflies skimming over my pond, and the sight of mountains and the sea in the distance, so it would be hard not to write about these things. But I dislike the idea that writers should be put into specific genres, and so I wouldn’t describe myself as a ‘landscape poet’ because that would be to ignore all the other things I write about. What I would hope characterizes my writing is the truth of what I am trying to convey: but that, of course, is for others to decide!

Links to Kathy’s books.

Gardening With Deer:

The Shadow House:

The Shadow House:


My Review of Darkroom by Mary Maddox for #RBRT


Darkroom by [Maddox, Mary]


I received the book from the author for an honest review as a member of #RBRT

 I gave Darkroom by Mary Maddox 4* out of 5*

The Blurb:

Talented but unstable photographer Day Randall has been living rent-free in Kelly Durrell’s Colorado condo for eight months. Day needs someone to keep an eye on her. Kelly needs someone to draw her out of her stable but not spectacular life. The arrangement works for both of them.

Then Kelly comes home one day to find Day gone. There’s no note, no phone call. Day’s car is still parked out front, but her room is starkly, suspiciously spotless.

No one seems to care. The police certainly aren’t interested in a missing bipolar artist, but Kelly knows something is wrong. Day wouldn’t just leave.

Alone, Kelly traces Day’s last steps through shadowy back rooms of Boulder nightclubs and to a remote mountain estate, where the wealthy protect themselves behind electric fences and armed guards. Along the way, she uncovers a sinister underworld lying just below the mountain snow, and a group of powerful people who will do anything to protect the secrets hidden in Day’s enigmatic photographs.

If she trusts the wrong person, Kelly herself will be the next to disappear.


My Review

Mary Maddox’  Darkroom is a murder mystery set in the mountains of Boulder, Colorado in  winter. This is the first book I’ve read by this author and I enjoyed it, not only for the story but also for the style of writing; fast paced, clear and detailed; taking the reader along through plot’s many and intricate twists and turns. Some  sections of the action were a little easy to predict but this didn’t take anything away from the novel–in fact it gave me a great deal of satisfaction when I guessed correctly; A “I knew it!” moment.  Predict

There are a lot of characters in the story, so much so that, in the early parts, I had to keep flicking back to see who was who and where they fitted in. But once absorbed in the book everyone fell into place. I particularly like how the characters, even the minor ones, are so well drawn, so rounded. There are a few exceptions who are portrayed as completely unlikable, flat characters who don’t change throughout. But mostly, as in real life, the characters all have good and bad sides to them. All cross the boundaries with their actions at one point or another.

The descriptions of the settings, from the interior of Cascade, the club where much of the action takes place, to the portrayal of the harsh, snow-drifted mountains, fields and streams are exceptionally good. And I need to add here that the descriptive narrative of the action in the story is equally good and easy to envisage.

The story is told from the third person points of view of the protagonist, Kelly, and Animal (otherwise known as Beau), a bouncer from the club. The voices are distinctive and the dialogue throughout is well written.

Darkroom is a novel I would read again and probably get more out of the second time around; because I suspect there are nuances to the plot that I probably missed. I was so keen find out what happened next I read it quicker than I normally do.

 I would recommend Mary Maddox as an author to discover. I recommend Darkroom for anyone who likes a thrilling murder mystery


Buying Links:

Amazon .com:

Today With Sally Spedding

More chatting  with authors who will be at the Tenby Book Fair,, the first event of the Tenby Arts Festival .  I’m looking forward to having many more such chats over the next couple of months. 

So far I’ve interviewed Rebecca Bryn:, Thorne Moore: , Matt Johnson: and Christoph Fischer: . Over the next few weeks I’ll be introducing them all and I’ll also be showcasing the publishers who will be in attendance. There may also be a short chat with John and Fiona of who, as usual, will be filming the event.

 Today I’m bringing you …  author Sally Spedding!!! A good friend, a brilliant writer of things “creepy and suspenseful”.

sally smaller

Hi Sally, welcome. It’s lovely to be her with you today

 Hi Judith, glad to be here.

Let’c start with a question most of the authors like to talk about. What were you like at school?

Old Palace School, Croydon,  a convent secondary school run by High Anglican nuns, was quite a leap from a Porthcawl primary! An incredible old building, whose dark, granite walls still pop up in my writing. Apparently, Elizabeth1 stopped there on her travels, and the place felt steeped in history. My main preoccupation was whether or not the nuns wore any knickers beneath their voluminous robes, and later on at Withington Girls’ School in Manchester, studying the pedigrees of Thoroughbred racehorses evolved from just three Arabian stallions, running a betting ‘ring’ and regularly jumping out of the window during Maths.

Were you good at English?

At Withington, we had an inspiring teacher who did read out my work. You only need one…

What are your ambitions for your writing career?

To keep writing what I want to read.

Which writers inspire you?

Too many to list, but  Emile Zola, Thomas Mann, Friedrich Dürrenmatt and Daphne du Maurier whom I’d read before starting out, still inspire me. Currently, Johan Theorin’s crime novels tick a lot of  boxes.

So, what have you written?

Since 2001, eight published noir crime/thriller/supernatural novels beginning with Wringland, set on the haunted Fens.; How to Write a Chiller Thriller; ‘Strangers Waiting’- a collection of short stories (now e-bk only); Crime short stories which are included in many outlets and CWA antholgies. Most recently, ‘Trespass’ in ‘The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper Stories.’ I have also written poetry for the past 20 years, exploring mainly betrayal and injustice. What lies beneath… Although many have won prizes and been widely published, I have yet to organise a collection.











*All my titles and many excerpts can be seen on  and most on Amazon. For earlier books now out of print, Abe Books can supply them.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?

Delphine Rougier is the young, lead character in my new French crime series set mainly near Le Mans. Despite her impoverished background and a demeaning job, she dreams of becoming a gendarme. However, she must navigate her way through lies, treachery and danger to realise her ambition.

What are you working on at the minute?

This crime series. ‘Footfall’  and ‘Featherblade’ are finished. ‘Fearless’ is still in progress.

What genre are your books?

Like life, which can’t be compartmentalised, they cross genres. Crime is their core, but often involving historical/psychological/supernatural elements.











What draws you to this genre?My family background and ongoing experiences in this world of ours.

How much research do you do?Setting is crucial, and always the start, so I have to be there and bring back visual imagery. Even a shell or  a few leaves…  By the time the book is finished, there will be a thick folder of ‘on the hoof’ information gathered but not necessarily used. It’s there as bedrock.

Do you write full-time or part-time?

In my head, all the time. Part-time and snatched moments. Life is complicated.

Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?

First thing, post-dreaming.

Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand?

Longhand, with drawings, maps etc. Then editing while typing on to a computer.

Where do  your ideas come from?

Observation. Being far too nosey.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?

When the setting’s established, I ask, who’s there? Why? Who’s been there? What’s happened?

What is the hardest thing about writing?

Getting the best words in the right order, and keeping things clear for the reader.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?

Several characters in ‘The Yellowhammer’s Cradle’ a gothic horror, historical novel, set in Argyll, need to speak in dialect, to varying degrees, without confusing the reader. They had to be consistent.


What is the easiest thing about writing?

Sitting down!

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

At least a year for writing. Another for typing up/editing.

For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books?


What book/s are you reading at present?

Am well into ‘Motherland’ by Thorne Moore, and ‘The Luck of the Weissensteiners’ by Christoph Fischer, and really enjoying them. Will need a complete break to be able to continue and finish.

Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you?

Our daughter, Hannah Spedding is a professional proof reader and doesn’t miss a trick.

Do you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit?

No. I do it while it’s fresh in the mind. Editing poetry however, seems never-ending.

Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?

It’s crucial, as is a shout line, blurb, and author information. For an original-looking image, it may pay to look further than the usual internet stockists. With a mainstream publisher, the final choice is usually theirs.

How are you publishing this book and why? e.g. Indie, traditional or both)

‘The Yellowhammer’s Cradle’ will be published under the Death Watch Books imprint by Publish&Print.   Dave Lewis can be relied upon to create a quality product.


Meanwhile, several mainstream publishers are reading my Delphine Rougier series, as my current publisher, Sparkling Books is no longer handling fiction. All part of the publishing roller-coaster that many authors experience.

What’s your views on social media for marketing?

It can be very useful indeed, but the danger is to overdo it, which ultimately becomes counter-productive.

Do you think that giving books away free works and why?

I admit to having a problem with this.

What is your favourite motivational phrase.

KBO  (Thank you, Winston Churchill)

What is your favourite book and why?

‘The Pledge’ by the late Friedrich Duürrenmatt. A study in obsession, in a picture postcard setting which becomes ever more claustrophobic and full of menace.

What is your favourite film and why?

Jeanne de Florette, for its setting and all-too believable character motivations.

Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?

Jesus Christ. To find out more about his conception.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Be true to yourself, and don’t be tempted jump on current ‘bandwagons.’

How can readers discover more about you and you work?


Everything is on it, including links to Facebook and Twitter.


 Thank you so much, Sally. Time for a cup of tea, I think

Lovely. Thank you, Judith!

My Review of The Flower Seller by Ellie Holmes for #RBRT

tjhe flower seller

 I received this book from the author as as a member of #RBRT in return for a fair review.

I gave The Flower Seller 4 * out of 5 *

The Blurb: (Oh, does it reveal far too much!!)

An impressive début novel from Ellie Holmes, The Flower Seller is an engaging and romantic tale of love, deceit, betrayal and hope.

Jessie Martin believes that when it comes to love there are three types of people: the skimmers, the bottom dwellers and the ones who dive for pearls. Jessie is a pearl diver. She had thought her husband William was a pearl diver too. But when William leaves her for a much younger woman, it’s not just Jessie’s heart that is broken, her ability to trust is shattered too. All Jessie wanted was a love she could believe in. Was that so much to ask? Loyalty it seems has gone out of fashion.

Refusing to retire from the battlefield of life, Jessie resolves to put her heartache behind her. She doesn’t want to be that woman who was too scared to love again. There has to be another pearl diver out there; all she has to do is find him.

Urged on by her sassy best friend, Anne and her daughter Hannah, Jessie makes three New Year’s resolutions: get a divorce, get a promotion, get a life. Enthusiastically embracing her new start, Jessie sets about making all her resolutions come true.

When fate brings handsome flower seller Owen Phillips into her life, will Jessie have the courage of her convictions? Can she take her heart in her hands and give it away again? Hope springs eternal they say but a bruised heart needs to time to heal. Will Owen have the patience to understand? Will Jessie be brave enough to take that leap of faith?

By the time summer holds her firmly in it’s warm embrace, Jessie’s monochrome world of heartache has been transformed into one full of colour, romance and love.

Jessie can hardly believe her luck. Can Owen really be the one?

All things seem possible and even husband William’s attempts to bully Jessie into a less than fair divorce settlement don’t have the power to upset her as they once might have. Supported by Owen, Jessie stands her ground. Putting William’s deceit and betrayal firmly in the rear view mirror of her life, Jessie is full of hope for the future. Perhaps loyalty and true love haven’t gone out of fashion after all.

When autumn’s burnished hues colour the world around her, Jessie looks forward to cosy nights by log fires with her handsome flower seller. But is Owen really the pearl diver Jessie had hoped for? Or is Jessie’s fragile trust about to be shattered all over again?
The Flower Seller is an engaging and page-turning read full of love, deceit, betrayal and hope.

This romantic tale follows Jessie from the depths of winter, to the excitement of spring through a hot and passionate summer to the turmoil and drama of a stormy autumn.
As a second winter approaches and her world is once more turned upside down, will Jessie ever find a love she can believe in with a man she can trust?

My Review:

When I read the blurb  I thought the would be an easy romance to read. It was, but it isn’t only a romance; there are many twists to this story and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Ellie Holmes has a lovely writing style that blends in the romance of the book with the darker side of the characters

All the characters  were well drawn into believable  rounded characters.

The story is told mostly from the perspective of Jessie Martin, the protagonist, in first person point of view. There are other perspectives; William, sometimes the omniscient narrator but these often came into the middle of the point of view of the protagonist (what an author friend of mine call ” Head Hopping”)  and it interrupted the flow of the narrative.

The dialogue is well written and easily differentiates the characters.

There are some wonderful descriptions of the settings which give a real sense of place of the market town of Abbeyleigh and the  close-knit community. And the dynamics of the lawyers’ firm that Jessie works for, and the cut and thrust of the business was interestin to read

The plot is almost given away by the blurb. I would have much preferred to have known less to begin with.

I have to say I found the title a bit…er… twee, Considering the content.

And I’m sorry but it really think that blurb is too long and actually doesn’t do the book any favours. Needs to be more ambiguous,

And the types of people? !the  skimmers, the bottom dwellers and the ones who dive for pearls.”? this classification would have put me off if I was a reader casually looking for a Romance to read.  But, there again, this  is probably just me.

Ultimately I have to say again, I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to readers who like Romance with a touch of darkness to it.

Buying Links:

Today with Thorne Moore

Over the next few weeks I’ll be introducing the authors who will be at the Tenby Book Fair,,  and showcasing the publishers who will be in attendance.   The Book Fair is the first event of the Tenby Arts Festival Last week I  interviewed Rebecca Bryn: . 

Today I’m really pleased to be chatting with Thorne Moore:  fellow organiser of the Tenby Book Fair, brilliant author and a great friend.

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Hi Thorne, good to see you here

Glad to be here, Judith.

Let’s start with what were you like at school?

Academically bright, socially hopeless. It wasn’t my happiest time.

Were you good at English?

Yes, great at English Language, which involved grammar and what would now be called creative writing. My best O level grade was English Language. However, I very nearly failed English Literature, since it seemed to be about expressing the correct opinions about other people’s writing. I have never been short of my own opinions.

Which writers inspire you?

Iris Murdoch, Barbara Vine, Kate Atkinson – and Jane Austen in a very humble, kneeling-at-her-feet sort of way. I used to use milestones in her life to encourage me not to give up. She was 36 when she first got published. That encouraged me until I was 37. She died at 42, so I gave myself till 42. Seriously annoying when I turned 43. Now I reconcile myself with thinking that she took her time to get going.

So, what have you written?

Well, apart from the 20,000 novels written and discarded since I was about 14, I have two novels published by Honno – A Time For Silence and Motherlove, and a third, The Unravelling, will be published on July 21st. My first published work was a short story, in a magazine, in 2010, which was voted 1st prize by the readers. It gave me the push I really needed to get over the finishing line.

Where can we buy or see the books? (* include American, European and any other relevant links. Free, free promotions or prices can be included)

At all good bookshops, as they say, and online:

A Time For Silence: (, (, (Kobo books) (Waterstones) and from the publisher, Honno:

Motherlove (, (, (Kobo books), (Waterstones) and from the publisher:  


The Unravelling is now available to pre-order on Amazon:


What genre are your books?

A difficult question. Crime, but not whodunits. I am not interested in crime as a puzzle, with clues to be followed in order to reach a triumphant conclusion. I am not interested in a duel between goody and baddy, with a clever criminal carefully planning a crime and determined to mislead an even more brilliant detective. The crimes I am interested in are the unintended ones, the ones committed on the spur of the moment by people pushed into a corner, crimes that are just the fatally wrong choice at the wrong moment. The crimes they didn’t mean to commit and wish they hadn’t.  It’s the psychological impact that interests me, and the long-term consequences. Even if I write about psychopaths, I am really interested in how it all came about and how people would cope with having a psychopath in their midst. Would they recognise the phenomenon or try to pretend it’s not true? And how would they cope with the aftermath? I could call my genre Psychological Mystery, but I quite like Domestic Noir.

How much research do you do?

Enough to make sure I get details right when necessary. I don’t want any reader to start screaming ‘She’s got that wrong!’although I expect some will, but I try to get dates, procedures, little details right. I don’t want to make any research too obvious, though. Sometimes, research uncovers details that I itch to include, because they are so astonishing and interesting, but if they are irrelevant to the theme or characters, I have to be firm with myself and put them to one side. So I put aside all the fascinating information I discovered about a local POW camp, when I was writing A Time For Silence, because it didn’t add to my theme, but I did read local newspapers and talk to local people in order to get the general background right. In my latest book, The Unravelling, I needed to check small things like the weather on very specific days, or TV schedules from years ago. The internet really is a godsend for that sort of research. Instant answers found at the click of a mouse. How did I manage before? On the other hand, it is about a girl who was 10 in 1966, and I didn’t have to research that. I just had to remember it.

Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand?

Any author worth her salt is supposed to say, ‘Oh I always write in longhand with my trusty Parker fountain pen,’ or ‘Call me old fashioned, but I still tap with two fingers on the Remington Standard 2 I inherited from my great-great-grandmother.’ Rubbish. The word processor, on my laptop, is the best thing since unsliced Granary bread. No more throwing reams of paper in the bin, no more illegible corrections scribbled in margins, and extra bits sellotaped in. No more realising that you’ve used the wrong name and wondering how many times you’ve done it in the previous 300 pages. Cut, paste, find and replace – brilliant.’

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?

I have a loose outline and yes, I see where it takes me. I usually have very definite images of the locations, and of most of the characters but sometimes I think I know what they’re going to do and they surprise me. If they have developed in a realistic enough manner, who am I to argue with their choices?

What is the hardest thing about writing?

Writing isn’t hard. Deleting half of what you’ve written because it shouldn’t be there is the hard bit. All the editing – and the endless waiting. “Writer” is only one letter removed from “Waiter.” That’s the most agonising part of the process.

What are your thoughts on writing a book series?

I’ve never wanted to in the past, but a carrot has been dangled before my nose and I’m seriously thinking about it. I can see the appeal.

What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?

My thoughts on bad reviews don’t bear repeating. But mostly, really bad reviews are by bad tempered people who got out of bed the wrong side, or who are simply the wrong audience for the book. I don’t write bad reviews, because if I think a book is really bad, I can’t be bothered to review it. If someone can be bothered, he or she is probably prompted by hidden issues. Good reviews, on the other hand, really lift the spirits. They don’t have to be five star reviews to be good. A good review, for me, is one that show the reader has read my book and thought hard about it. That is very flattering.

How can readers discover more about you and you work?


Facebook: thornemoorenovelist


Amazon Author Page: 

Oh, and find me at the Tenby Book Fair on September 24th.

My Interview with Rebecca Bryn

Today I’m really pleased to be chatting with Rebecca Bryn who’s going to talk about her latest novel, On Different Shores. 

We will hear more of Rebecca: she will be one of the authors at the Tenby Book Fair: which is one of the first events at the the Tenby Arts Festival:


An image posted by the author.


 Hi Rebecca, please introduce yourself and your book to help our readers get to know you.

 Hi Judith. I write under the name of Rebecca Bryn, chosen to protect my family from the embarrassment of being associated with me. I’d like to talk about my latest novel, ‘On Different Shores’ based on a true family story, which I hope to release later this year.

What inspired you to write your book and how long did it take.

A: Someone once asked me how long it took me to paint a seascape they were interested in buying. I told them thirty years, because that was how long it had taken me to learn my craft, to be able to produce that particular painting. So, on that basis, On Different Shores is the culmination of about twelve years of writing, rewriting, editing, tearing apart and rebuilding, and a lifetime of experiences that broke me and allowed me to rebuild myself.

On Different Shores is inspired by a family story, my grandmother was somewhat tight-lipped about. After my mother died, I delved into her family history and found this story was true. I haven’t been able to confirm the assertion that we have relatives in Tasmania who own a shipping line, but I have found the committal proceedings, trial reports, convict records and probations records of my great-great-great uncle James, who was transported to Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) aboard the convict ship Tortoise, in 1841, along with his two cousins. They were found guilty of ‘very aggravated manslaughter’ and transported for life. James married twice; (his first wife died in childbirth and his baby son 8 days later) he died in 1913, aged 93, and is buried in Hobart alongside his Irish convict wife, who died in 1912 aged 92. So Hobart was not bad for them, it seems. A short story that may raise a smile can be found free at It’s called ‘Ooh Air Margrit’ and is embarrassingly true. (And a little too honest)

What did you enjoy most about creating this book?

The research. I feel really close now to James and to my roots in Yardley Hastings, East of the Brook.

What facets of your life, both personal and professional, are woven into your book, if any? 

I enjoy research so I can accurately depict, pictorially almost, the time, the place and the emotional strictures this must have placed on the people who become my characters. I’ve used my artist head to clothe a character in ‘The Silence of the Stones’ and my love of my maternal grandfather to bring Walt to life in ‘Touching the Wire’. I recommended honesty, earlier, to aspiring writers, so I can do no less here. My novels all have an underlying theme, that of unbreakable love. Walt for Miriam, Alana for Tony, Raphel for Kiya, and Ella for Jem. Losing my first husband broke me. To be deserted, unloved, discarded was unbearable. To lose the man I adored, my friends and family, people I’d grown up with, was so painful I suffered clinical depression for many years. I didn’t know I was clinically depressed then but, reading the symptoms now, I realise I had all of them. Each day was a struggle. I lived to get through the next two minutes, then the next. I had to, to bring up two children alone and hold down a full-time job to keep a roof over our heads. But they say what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. I met a wonderful man, who showed me it was possible to love again, and I married him. I shall always love my first husband, despite the pain he put me through. Love, in my mind, is unbreakable. This was a concern to me for a long while. It felt disloyal to my second husband, but my ex mother-in-law, who is ninety-six and has been my role model since I was thirteen, assured me it is possible to love two men in your life. So I do, without guilt, and this determination and ability to love inspires many of the tangled relationships in my novels. Excuse me while I reach for a tissue. I’ve come over all emotional.

How did you get published?

After a close shave with traditional publishing, that frankly scared me witless, I decided to take my destiny in my own hands and self-publish. I like the freedom to write what I want and promote it how I want. It’s been a huge but very satisfying learning curve. I can say, however, that I did everything myself… with a little help from my friends.

Did you have any surprises or hiccups along the way during the book writing and/or publishing process?

Hiccups have usually been accepting criticism and finding a way forward through it: using it in the best way to improve my writing. That can sometimes be a challenge… I did say I liked a challenge. I think the main surprise was the physical difficulty of putting a book under a reader’s nose and, if they do see it and read it, getting them to leave a review.

What one thing did you wish you’d known before you started this project?

Probably nothing. If I’d known what was involved, I’d never have started. Not knowing what I can’t do has always been a huge help to me.

You’re a fly on the wall when readers are discussing your book.   What would you hope to hear them say about it?

That they empathised with my characters and understood them, even if they didn’t like them. That they found an honesty in my writing, and that it made them think. I tackle difficult and sometimes traumatic subjects, and I hope it makes people appreciate what they have in life.

Tell us one thing about you that most people don’t know or would surprise them.

Oh gosh. I have one leg longer than the other? I did say I wasn’t symmetrical. I sound quite deformed don’t I? Maybe I should write under the name of Quasimodo.

What single piece of advice would you give new authors?

Write from the heart. Dig deep into your own experiences and don’t be afraid to write what you feel. (Like me, you can always hide behind a pseudonym)

Share a short summary of a typical day in your life with us  please.

I get up too late to do the writing I promised myself I’d do before my husband gets up. I walk the dog, have breakfast, deal with e-mails and social media. Catch up on my promoting from the previous day, (Do interviews J) By this time it’s usually lunchtime and I wonder where the morning’s gone. Lunch, watch Bargain Hunt on the TV. Walk dog, water greenhouse, wander round garden not weeding. Feel guilty because husband is weeding. Don’t manage to find time to do the painting I should have finished last week for an exhibition that’s looming ominously. Fit in a bit of cleaning in case the estate agent rings up with a viewing. By this time it’s four-thirty, which is when I feel justified in sitting down to do a bit of writing. I catch up with e-mails and social media instead, and do some promoting, by which time it’s time to think about tea. I throw something together, eat, watch the soaps, and wish I had a quiet place to write. Reread the last bit I wrote and rewrite it. Maybe, if I’m inspired, write a few new words, delete them and write a few more. Do tonight’s promoting, ignore husband talking about what’s on TV and the fact that he needs an early night for once… And just as I’m getting into a character… it’s almost midnight: bed time and I’ve achieved precious little. Hey ho, tomorrow is another day. I promise myself I’ll get up early and write before husband gets up…

Describe where you do most of your writing. What would I see if I was sitting beside you?

You’d be sitting on top of my dog, on the settee in my living room, in front of a log burner and a rug that’s thirty-four years into its thirty-five year guarantee. I wonder if the company that made it still exists?

What’s your motto or favourite quote you like to live by?

‘Never judge a man until you’ve walked two moons in his moccasins.’ Another is ‘The only thing written in stone is your epitaph.’ (I made that one up myself – I’m rather proud of it.)

Links to find Rebecca: and her books:




My Review of You Wish by Terry Tyler

I gave You Wish 5* out of 5*

The Blurb:

YOU WISH was the winner of the “Best Chick Lit/Women’s Lit” in the eFestival of Words 2013.

Do we control our own destiny – or might it be determined by fate, coincidence, luck…or even magic?

Ruth, an amateur psychic with a husband who smokes cannabis for breakfast, is haunted by a tragic event from her teenage years which, she suspects, was the result of a wish she made on an allegedly enchanted stone. Too embarrassed to admit her fears, she keeps her secret to herself for twenty-five years.

Petra is the perennial singleton amongst her friends, unable, she thinks, to fall in love. She comes across the stone at a Psychic Fair and makes a wish, just for fun. As the wish begins to come true she wishes she had chosen her words with more care.

Spoilt, weight-obsessed Sarah wants nothing more than to be “size zero”. As her life spirals downwards into the seedy world of drug abuse and addiction, she remembers the day at the Psychic Fair when she wished for her heart’s desire.

When Ruth learns of the fates of Petra and Sarah she is forced to confront her guilt and discover the truth about the Wishing Stone…

Terry Tyler’s début novel is a quirky contemporary drama exploring the themes of family affairs, infidelity and guilt, incorporating jealousy, drug abuse and the obsession of a Facebook stalker, against a backdrop of secrets and superstition.

I’ve read a few of Terry Tyler’s books and was looking forward to reading You Wish. I knew this was her first novel so, though I expected the plot, the themes and the characters to be as diverse, as multi-layered, as interesting as her later stories, I thought that her writing style would not be quite so polished; it’s well known that the more we write the better we get (usually!).  “Practice makes perfect”  they say ( I never found out who said it but it’s something that was drummed into me as a child with anything I did).

But I was wrong; this author hit the ground running with her début novel; not only does You Wish have all the ingredients I’ve enjoyed with her other books, but the writing is as superb, as individualistic as ever. Structured, as is usual with Terry Tyler, with each character’s story being smoothly interwoven with the others  but in separate chapters, the book is as unpredictable and enjoyable as any other I’ve read of hers.  I’m not in the least surprised it won the Best Chick Lit/Women’s Lit” in the eFestival of Words 2013.

The themes are more or less listed in the blurb. (Bit too much information here? I try not to give spoilers in my reviews – does this blurb, Hmm?). Themes of addictions, obsession, superstition, family issues and secrets, infidelity, guilt, jealousy are all encompassed in You Wish.

 I usually forget to say anything about the covers of the books I review but I do love the image of the stone here.

 The wish-stone is a metaphor for all the main characters’ hopes and dreams, initially unfulfilled. But while the  supernatural aspect of the book lurks throughout the story and within the characters’ sometimes reluctant belief in its magical powers, it doesn’t detract from the gritty reality of their lives. Told from a third person omniscient narrator’s  point of view the various aspects of each character’s mind-set is exposed by their actions, and their dialogue. These are well-rounded characters, each identifiable by their dialogue even without the tags. I found myself empathising, disliking and feeling irritated with each in turn.

The descriptions of the various settings are  well  portrayed; the reader is taken from ordinary domesticity to plush surroundings to seedy environments. All give a believable sense of place.

 This is yet another of this author’s books I  would recommend. I finished reading with just the one thought in my mind; we should all take note of the sub-title of You Wish: “just be careful what for.”


My Review of Best Seller: A Tale Of Three Writers by Terry Tyler


Best Seller: A Tale Of Three Writers


I gave Best Seller: A Tale Of Three Writers 5*out of 5

The Blurb:

Three women, one dream: to become a successful author.

Eden Taylor has made it—big time. A twenty-three year old with model girl looks and a book deal with a major publisher, she’s outselling the established names in her field and is fast becoming the darling of the media.

Becky Hunter has money problems. Can she earn enough from her light-hearted romance novels to counteract boyfriend Alex’s extravagant spending habits, before their rocky world collapses?

Hard up factory worker Jan Chilver sees writing as an escape from her troubled, lonely life. She is offered a lifeline—but fails to read the small print…

In the competitive world of publishing, success can be merely a matter of who you know—and how ruthless you are prepared to be to get to the top.

BEST SELLER is a novella of 40k words (roughly half as long as an average length novel), a slightly dark, slightly edgy drama with a twist or three in the tale.


One of the most outstanding features of any of Terry Tyler’s book is her ability to create rounded characters that come alive the first time they open their mouths.

Best Seller, a Tale of Three Writers, is no exception.  And the reader is also allowed to observe the inner dialogue, the immediate and complex emotions of these young women, Jan, Eden and Becky, so we are drawn right away into this novella.

There is a consistent and steady rise of tension through the twists and turns of the various strands of the plot. Each character is striving to attain recognition in different ways and with varying success.

 Not one to give spoilers all I will add is that this is a clever and knowledgeable insight to the publishing world. And,as usual, Terry Tyler’s writing style is reflective, skilful and absorbing.

 This is a short read that leaves the reader wanting to know more and I thoroughly recommend Best Seller.

 Oh, and by the way, the end will make your jaw drop.


Buying Links here:


Deadly Alliance by Kathleen Rowland #RBRT

 I gave Deadly Alliance 3.5*

The blurb

“Finbar Donahue, former Army Ranger, walked on the wild side in Iraq, but now he lives in the shadows. After his evasive partner, Les, was shot in a random drive-by, Finn discovers cash is siphoned monthly. He fights to keep his investment company afloat. When the late partner’s girlfriend, Amy Kintyre, applies for his bookkeeping job, Finn suspects she knows about his company drain and hires her.

Amy needs a nine-to-five with free evenings and weekends to get her fashion design business back on track. She unearths Les’ s secret bank account and alerts Finn. Freezing of the money laundering account sets off havoc within an Irish gang. Amy witnesses a gang fight between a brutal ISIS fundraising organization and the Irish. Desperate to escape a stalker’s crosshairs, she seeks refuge with Finn. As danger heats up, sparks fly hotter.

Les is alive. After cheating the Irish mob, he became their target. Mistaken identity took the life of his disabled twin brother. Now Les makes another deal—trading Amy and stolen drugs for their forgiveness. Stakes are high as Finn tracks assassins across the San Bernardino Mountains. If he gets her back, can he trust her?”

For me the blurb tells too much; it’s a while before we learn Less is still alive. I would have liked that to remain a secret until the story evolved more. There are two excellent plots running parallel in the book that Kathleen Rowland juggles expertly; one of fraud and one of terrorism and crime. They are good, though complicated plot-lines that keeps the reader on their toes. Added to that are the various sub-plots; of Les and the familial complicated lives of Finn’s step family.

When I first started to read Deadly Alliance I instantly liked both the protagonists, Amy Kintyre and Finn Donahue.  Good rounded characters, portrayed as ambitious and strong.  I looked forward to following their story. and we learn a lot of their back story without any information dumping.

And the many brilliant secondary characters are also given depth and personalities.

The story is told from an omniscient narrator’s point of view who dips into each character so that we can follow the train of thought from both Amy and Finn. My problem here was that sometimes the lines blurred and I had to go back and re-read to check who I was following. And, once or twice, the author gave the point of view from a minor character. Now this last point is a personal one; I like the points of view separate; to be told the story in different time lines or chapters. If, as a reader, I’m to look into a character’s head, I want them to have more input, even to have equal input. But, as I’ve said, this is purely a personal preference.

My other problems were phrases and the dialogue. And again this could be the difference between the UK and USA perspectives. Or I didn’t quite ‘get’ the genre. I don’t know. I just found some of the phrases and descriptions from the omniscient narrator of the characters’ body language and actions were over-explained and laboured. I just couldn’t picture them, or they seemed unrealistic. This was in some of the ordinary scenes, the fight scenes and the sex scenes.  With reference to the sex scenes I have read many and they never offend. It wasn’t that; I only mean that, from my point of view, there was too much emphasis on them and the sexual innuendos; they were too overtly erotic compared with the rest of the book. And they detracted from the two strong plot-lines. I would have preferred them to be more subtle. And the fight scenes, although described blow by blow, felt strangely detached in their commentary.

And I found both Amy and Finn’s dialogue, internal and spoken,sometimes clichéd and grating; they read oddly for me; quick fire comments such as  “curse a blue streak” and ” third- wheel nervousness” interspersed with each of the characters’ dialogue, took me right out of the story; suspended disbelief in other words. I felt this to be a shame. But … as I said, this could perhaps be the difference between a reader in the UK and one in the USA.

Very much on the plus side are the brilliant descriptions of the various settings that the author give us. The scenes in Burlie’s Jazz Club, the various outdoors scenarios, the houses, the cabin, the weather, the pontoon.boat scenes; all are full of evocative imagery; all give a true sense of place.

I was glad that, towards the ending, there was resolution for Amy’s original plans; that the author returned to the first scenes of the book. It brought about a sense of resolution. In fact there was a couple of lovely scenes towards the end that resolved quite a lot for nearly all of the characters. I enjoyed those.

 And then there was the twist at the end. It felt a little rushed but it was a good denouement.

 Find a copy here:


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                                                 T he Rest of my Life – Sheryl Browne

                                                                                                                                                                                                 The Rest of My Life – When is it time to stop running?

“You can’t run away from commitment forever … “

Adam Hamilton-Shaw has more reason than most to avoid commitment. Living on a houseboat in the Severn Valley, his dream is to sail into the sunset – preferably with a woman waiting in every port. But lately, his life looks more like a road to destruction than an idyllic boat ride…

Would-be screenplay writer Sienna Meadows realises that everything about Adam spells trouble – but she can’t ignore the feeling that there is more to him than just his bad reputation. Nor can she ignore the intense physical attraction that exists between them.

And it just so happens that Adam sees Sienna as the kind of woman he could commit to. But can he change his damaging behaviour – or is the road to destruction a one-way street?

   Genre: Contemporary Romance : Release Date: 1st July 2015


Sheryl Browne03 small file (1)

Heartache, humour, love, loss & betrayal, Sheryl Browne brings you edgy, sexy, poignant fiction. A member of the Crime Writers’ Association, Romantic Novelists’ Association and short-listed for the Best Romantic e-book Love Stories Award 2015, Sheryl has seven books published and two short stories in Birmingham City University anthologies.                                                 

Sheryl’s new contemporary romance novel was recommended to the publisher by the WH Smith Travel fiction buyer. THE REST OF MY LIFE comes to you from award winning Choc Lit.

Publisher:  Choc Lit @ChocLituk

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Recommended by the WH Smith Travel Fiction Buyer

Short-listed for the LoveStories Awards 2015

A Being Anne’s Book of the Year 2015


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My Review of Tales from the Garden by Sally Cronin


                                Sally Cronin


I gave  Tales from the Garden 4* out of 5*


I loved Tales from the Garden by Sally Cronin and read this book of delightful short stories to both my five-year-old granddaughter and to my ninety-four year old mother. It’s a magical blending of fairy tales and human emotions, in circumstances familiar to everyone. And there are some wonderful illustrations alongside the text that add to the enjoyment.

This is the book blurb:

Tales from the Garden reveals the secrets that are hidden beneath hedges and trees. You will discover what really happens at night as you sleep unaware in your bed. Stone statues and those hidden worlds within the earth are about to share their stories. The guardians who have kept the sanctuary safe for over fifty years will allow you to peek behind the scenes of this magical place. They will take you on a journey through time and expand your horizons as they transport you to the land of fairies, butterflies and lost souls who have found a home here.

Fairy Stories for children of all ages from five to ninety-five that will change the way you look at your garden forever.

(S0, with granddaughter at almost six years old and Mum being ninety four – and me somewhere in between – I won’t say exactly where! – we fitted in nicely as readers.)

We first meet the statues of the lions; carved stone sentinels of the garden, watching generations of children as they grow and depart, ‘through the black gate that leads to the outside world’, leaving the lions to safeguard the land of Magia, the fairy kingdom under the spread of the magnificent magnolia tree; a land that gives sanctuary to many. There is a poignant moment when we learn of the sad departure, after five decades, of the gardener who leaves them to ‘protect the garden on his behalf.’ And this is where the author excels; she blends the ‘fairy tale’ characters and the human attributes throughout; there is a reality of life, of love, of values. Of the respect we should all have for each other…

And the many characters are entrancing: statues of both real animals, dogs and rabbits and of  mythical creature such as the wonderful Fluffy the Dragon and his unfortunate habit of starting small fires (you can just picture it!), a mischievous band of Stone Dwarves, a wicked witch up to no good as she feeds the swans and ducks. I could go on but won’t; I’ll just urge you to check out Tales from the Garden for yourself.

The book concludes with the story of the author’s mother’s; The Duchess, story. Poignant and beautifully told, it’s the memories and background history of the family’s homes and gardens which provided the inspiration for this well written and entertaining collection. I have no hesitation in recommending Tales from the Garden by Sally Cronin.

To buy the book:

Today I’m Really Pleased to be Chatting with author, Kristina Stanley

KS 75 High Res

Please introduce yourself:

Judith, Thank you for hosting me today. I’m the author of The Stone Mountain Mystery Series. DESCENT was published July 2015 by Imajin Books ( BLAZE is scheduled for publication this fall. And if I’m lucky, I’ll be offered a contract for AVALANCHE in 2016.

What first inspired you to start writing?

My degree is Computer Mathematics. I love adventure and am a very social person. So writing a novel, where you spend hours upon hours indoors, alone…I have no idea what I was thinking. If I had to pinpoint one moment of inspiration, I would say when I read MOONLIGHT BECOMES YOU by Mary Higgins Clark. My thought was I’d like to make people forget about their troubles for a while and be immersed in a story, just like this book did for me.

Tell us about your new book.

Death on the slopes can happen at any moment and still, speed is everything to an alpine racer. Olympic skiers attack a run at speeds in excess of 80 mph. The characters in DESCENT demand speed, and this demand causes injury and death.

Racers have specialized technicians who follow them on the World Cup circuit, striving to give each skier an advantage, to squeeze out that extra bit of speed from the equipment. The technicians file and wax multiple skis for each skier, always busy trying to give their athlete an edge over others. Resorts inject a run to turn the slope into a skating rink. Everyone wants to cross the finish line first. But at what cost?

You’ll have to read DESCENT to find out.


What facets of your life, both personal and professional, are woven into your book, if any? 

One day, my heart broke. My beautiful Labrador Retriever, Chica, was diagnosed with cancer. She died three weeks later. I had no idea how much losing her would hurt. So as a tribute to her, she has a key role in all three Stone Mountain mysteries.

My grandmother died before I met her. She had one green and one brown eye. To make her part of my life, I gave my protagonist, Kalin Thompson, the same eyes.

Those are the only two real facets of my life included in the novels.

I worked as the director of security, human resources and guest services at a ski resort in British Columbia, Canada. I used the expertise I gained from that job as research for my novels. The stories are made up, as in a racer was not murdered while I was the director of security, but I did use the ski resort as my muse.

You’re a fly on the wall when readers are discussing your book.  What would you hope to hear them say about it?

I would love it if people said, “I couldn’t put it down.”

What single piece of advice would you give new authors?

Don’t listen to anyone who tells you not to write. This is a long and hard journey, but so worth it. Someone once told me it’s the persistent authors who make it. I believe that.

 Describe where you do most of your writing. What would I see if I was sitting beside you?

You would see me sitting on my couch, legs stretched out in front of me, computer on my lap, and Farley tucked between me and the back of the couch. Farley is my wheaten terrier, and he loves to put his head on my keyboard if I don’t pay enough attention to him. I’ve learned to type and pet him at the same time.

My view is of the ski hill. Sometimes a deer will walk passed my side door. The 8-point buck is my favourite.

I never write at a desk because I feel like I’m at work and my imagination won’t flow.

What’s your motto or favourite quote you like to live by?

Time’s fun when you’re having flies – Kermit the Frog.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us in closing such as your website, an imminent book launch or what you’re working on presently?

DESCENT is the first in the Stone Mountain Mystery series. The series takes place in an isolated mountain resort in the depths of the Purcell mountain range in British Columbia.

With all the forest fires this season, BLAZE, the second in the Stone Mountain Series deals with a current Canadian and American issue. Of course, BLAZE is a mystery and arson is the crime, but this time it looks like Kalin Thompson is the target. BLAZE is scheduled for release before the end of 2015 by Imajin Books.

The third in the series, AVALANCHE, has Kalin Thompson searching for a thief, struggling to prove her brother is innocent of a major theft. Unfortunately for Kalin, her brother disappears hours after the theft and is the prime suspect.

REQUEST FOR READER ASSISTANCE: I’m writing the fourth in the series. A business partner of Kalin’s is murdered while driving his ATV on a mountain trail. He’s forced into a frothing river… My problem with the fourth is I have to stop calling it “the fourth.” I need a title. If you have any suggestions for a title that fits with DESCENT, BLAZE and AVALANCHE, please leave a comment below.

I’m sure someone will contact you with a brilliant idea for a title, Kirstina. But for now, I’d like to say thank you so much for chatting with me today. Now, where can people find you?

I love to connect with people on-line. I can be found at:

Follow me on twitter, let me know you read this blog and I’ll follow you back.

Or comment on my Facebook page

If you’re interested you can buy DESCENT or download a sample at:

Today I’m Really Pleased to be Chatting with Author Mary Smith

Mary Smith - web ready

Hello, Mary, please introduce yourself and your books to help our readers get to know you.

Hello Judith. Thank you so much for interviewing me for your blog. I live in Dumfries & Galloway in south west Scotland. Of course, I couldn’t wait to get away when I was young and lived and worked in England, Pakistan and Afghanistan before returning home. I think being away for so long made me really appreciate what a beautiful part of the country this is.

So far, I have published one novel, one memoir, one poetry collection and one – the latest – a picture-led local history book. Now that Dumfries Through Time is out I’m going back to write a sequel to my novel, No More Mulberries – as long as I don’t allow myself to be side-tracked by other projects.

No More Mulberries - web ready (1)

Please explain how you came to be a writer, what inspired you to write your book (s) and how long it took.

The people of Afghanistan, especially the women, inspired me to write both my memoir, which covers part of the time I worked there and my novel, No More Mulberries. I wanted other people to share my experiences and meet the amazing people I knew. For some reason friends seemed very reluctant to visit me in Afghanistan – I think they believed the entire country was one huge war zone – so writing the books seemed to be the best way to let them share the experience. Also, when I came home I found myself shouting at the television a lot when coverage of Afghanistan fell so far short of providing a half way accurate picture of what life for ordinary people living outside the main war areas was really like. I wanted to show that there is a different perspective.

What facets of your life, both personal and professional, are woven into your book, if any?

Lots! Although No More Mulberries is fiction and none of the characters are ‘real’ many of the incidents in the book are based on events I witnessed, heard about or in which I was involved in some way. For instance Miriam goes to work as a translator at a medical teaching camp, which is something I did and so I had lots of incidents I could use in the story.

Did you have any surprises or hiccups along the way during the book writing and/or publishing process.

I was also surprised – shocked, actually – at the response of some agents/publishers. They felt No More Mulberries was too ‘quiet’ for a novel about Afghanistan. More war, blood and guts seemed to be required and more, much more on the violence the women experienced. In fact, when the memoir was doing the rounds one person suggested I include a few scenes of women being beaten by Taliban soldiers. Now, I know this happened but I didn’t witness it – I’d left the country before Taliban came to power – and I was not going to make things up.

The original memoir, published as Before The Taliban: Living with War, Hoping for Peace and now re-published as Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni, was picked up by a small independent publisher at the end of October 2011. A couple of weeks later I came home to find the OH exhausted, with a pile of phone messages for me. All the publishers who’d previously turned it down suddenly wanted to talk to me! I stuck with the publisher who liked and wanted the book before 9/11. He subsequently went bust and I’ve often wondered what would have happened if I’d called back one of the other publishers. Would I now be rich and famous? Or would I be hating myself for re-writing the book to include lots of violence against women?

drunk chickens - web ready (1)

You say you’ve written a collection of poetry? Could you tell us a little about that, please, Mary.

Thousands Pass here Every Day is my first full poetry collection, published by Indigo Dreams Publishing (2012). The poems fall roughly into three sections: poems about Afghanistan; poems of family and memories and poems which focus on the environment and landscape.

Thousands - web ready (1)

I came late to writing poetry – apart from the dreadful, angst-ridden stuff many teenagers write. I knew they were dreadful and, although I always enjoyed reading poetry, I never attempted to write it again until I took a creative writing module. The tutor, Tom Pow, who is a wonderful poet, wouldn’t let me get away with not including poems in the portfolio so I had to try. I still remember my joy when I read out a poem (it’s called Hazara Jat and is in the book) and knew from the class response I had actually written a real, proper poem. I wrote more, started sending them out and having some published in various poetry journals encouraged me further. Finally, I had enough for a collection.

You’re a fly on the wall when readers are discussing your book. What would you hope to hear the say about it?

I really hope they would be saying No More Mulberries was a wonderful read – combining a love story with an insight into life in Afghanistan which surprised them.

Do you read your reviews and if so, how do you cope with a bad one?

I do read them, although not as compulsively now. When I received my first a 2* review on Amazon UK, I was devastated. The reviewer said my intent was to show how dirty and backward Afghan people are. I was so hurt because that was the last thing I wanted to do. I looked at his stats while doing this interview and I found I’m keeping excellent company as Diane Gabaldon and Victoria Hyslop also get 2*. A writer can’t please all readers! By the time I received my first a 1* on Amazon US I treated it as nothing more than a rite of passage. The four and five* more than make up for the ones whose review consists of “I couldn’t get into this book”.

What has been your best moment as a writer?

Two moments – the acceptance letter from the publisher. Opening the box of books, taking one out and enjoying the feel of it, the look of it, and the smell of it. I carried that book into every room in the house. It was like introducing a baby to its home!

What advice do you have for new writers?

Pay it forward. By that I mean support other writers as you would like to be supported. Maybe new writers taken on by one of the big 5 are well promoted (though I suspect not) and don’t need much help but most of us, either indie published or with a small independent publisher, need to get to grips with promoting our work. To do that effectively, it is better to have support from other writers – and to support them in return. I was very fortunate in being invited to join eNovelAuthors atWork, a group of indie writers who believe in paying it forward. It’s a bit like having your own street team.

Describe where you do most of your writing. What would I see if I was sitting beside you?

I sit at a desk which is falling to bits – but it’s the desk at which I wrote my job application for Pakistan, and my first books so I can’t get rid of it. The walls opposite and to my left are lined with books. The window on my right looks out on the main street of my wee town but I can only see the Solicitors Property Centre and the shop which sells sports goods, rooftops and hills on the skyline. If I lean over I can see the pavement and people passing by but I try not to look or I’d never get anything written.

Contact details and links:


Blogs:  This one is about dealing with my dad’s dementia




Buy Links:

No More Mulberries:

Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni:

Thousands Pass Here Every Day:

Dumfries Through Time: