Reviewed for the Historical Novel Society: “Runaway” by Edwin Page



This moving book about slavery is set in 1863 on a farmstead in Missouri. It focuses on six-year-old Clara and her mother, Lizbet, who, through the last days of slavery, hide Joshua, a runaway slave, in their barn.

The child’s presence brings an innocent perspective on the matter that highlights the cruelty of slavery yet also allows for some of the more refreshing elements in this novel.

While the plot and outline are not overly original, the book shines with its likeable and endearing characters, and its ultimately upbeat tone.

I was gripped by the suspense and deeply touched, and would recommend this book to others.

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(UK) £6.99

(UK) 9781533258441



Edwin Page


With over fifty books published since 2005, British writer Edwin Page (or Ed Page as he’s known to readers of his comedy fiction) is one of the most prolific authors of the early 21st Century. Having written in at least four non-fiction genres and eight fiction genres, he is also one of the most diverse.

His novels range from the widely acclaimed historical novel Where Seagulls Fly to the popular apocalyptic tale Sub-Zero, which is set in Britain after the Gulf Stream stops flowing. They also include the crazy science fiction comedy Brian the Vampire, in which you’ll find the Rabbit Mafia and the spineless hellhound called Sven, and The Red Brick Road, a delightful and uplifting story about Dorothy’s great granddaughter returning to Oz.

His non-fiction books include works on the films of Quentin Tarantino, Tim Burton and Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle. The latter led to Mr. Page being interviewed by the British Press Association in relation to Boyle’s opening ceremony for the London 2012 Olympics and he was quoted in over 50 publications along with social commentators such as Billy Bragg. He has also written Everyday Magic, the only book to prove and explain Oneness (God/The Source/Tao) and its ramifications in relation to what we believe and the way we live.

Edwin Page has a 1st Class degree in Film & Literary Studies and has had numerous short stories, articles and poems published in a variety of publications. Born and bred near Cambridge, he went to university in Plymouth and Carlisle, and now lives in western Cornwall.


Welsh Wednesdays Reblog: Cardinal Wolsey Visits A Convent – Guest Post by, Ian Hutson…

I know this reblog about the adventures of Cardinal Wolsey isn’t exactly set in the heartland of Wales but in its borderlands at best, but let’s be generous and inclusive. Here’s to Ian Hutson and his UK waterways adventures:

‘Stolen’ from Source: Cardinal Wolsey Visits A Convent – Guest Post by, Ian Hutson…

The Cardinal, the Dragon, the Hailstorm, the Engineer and the Convent.

Stop me if you’ve already heard this one…

No, but seriously, at the moment the Cardinal and I are still on the Llangollen Canal, enjoying a slow mooch away from the World Heritage terrors of the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. It is August – high season and school holidays – and yet I find that I can get almost any mooring that I want simply by dancing up and down on the roof, shouting gibberish and brandishing Mother’s shrunken head on a stick.

I should perhaps clarify that I refer to it as “Mother’s” shrunken head because it is virtually all that I have to remember her by, bequeathed to me in a codicil (and in a particularly grubby jam-jar among many such) as she lay in her cot in the Special Air Service’s Regimental Rest Home in Belize, fighting malaria, an indifferent chef and the apparent inability of the bar to serve a cold gin. “Son,” she said, “son, I want you to have my shrunken head collection”. “Because you love me, Mummy?” replied I “Hardly, son, I can’t stand the sight of you, as you know, but I do think that you ought to have a little something to remind you of your Father. I’m fairly certain that I got all of the possibilities, he’s bound to be in there somewhere.”

[Should any of my readers cry “favouritism” at hearing of this generous bequest, you should know that my sister inherited dear Mother’s throwing-knife, knuckle-duster and garrotting wire collection, while my brother benefitted from Letters of Personal Introduction to Mr Castro, items that have allowed both siblings to build up significant specialist professional business interests in one way or another. Mother was nothing if not fair.]

Anyway, back to me. So useful is this aforementioned mooring technique that when I approached Ellesmere in the county of Shropshire, (website HERE), cautiously, as advised in the Guide Books, I was able to secure prime moorings thusly slap bang in Ellesmere Junction Basin itself. Two brandishes of the shrunken-head, one short gibber, half a caper and the spot I desired immediately became rather conveniently vacant. But I get ahead of myself…

Before settling into these fresh moorings we (the Cardinal and I) perforce called at the official “services” area, and a splendid services provision it is too. The Cardinal’s five-hundred litre water tank was refilled, the gazunders (Thunderbirds I to IV) were emptied and household rubbish and recycling distributed about the various wheelie-bins and lorry-containers. That was the work, then came the fun. My mooring of first-choice lay some fifty yards back from the service area, in the direction that I’d come, and on the opposite side of the canal. Boats move in reverse about as well as cats march en masse in step to a drum-beat. For this manoeuvre I would also have a critical audience, because the Canal & River Trust’s local marshalling yard was by then open for business, with brutish workmen gathering to be about their brutish boating tasks.

The manoeuvre, purely incidentally it must be said, went like a dream. As I slipped the Cardinal into “astern; dead slow” someone in the marshalling yard out of sight began to reverse a lorry, so much to the amusement of civilian folk on the towpath the Cardinal appeared to have a reversing beeper fitted. Backwards we went for about seventy-five yards and all in an orderly straight line with no drama in spite of the usual crosswinds; a feat almost unheard of. Then forwards and into the “mooring of choice” for a couple of nights. I even remembered to look utterly casual, as though I always somehow manoeuvred with such perfection! It was, again, Nanny who taught me to “take credit first, and wonder how the heck it happened later”.

Ellesmere’s stretch of canal is mostly function and junction, with a marina, a narrow bridge, a tight turn, the Canal & River Trust’s dry-dock, offices and marshalling yard, the services area, a meeting of three branches that also serves as a winding (turning) hole and with one of the branches leading right into the centre of town and the shops. Quite the most respectable aspect of the ensemble is the pied-a-Shropshire of Thomas Telford, the remarkable chap who designed and oversaw, among many, many other civil engineering works, the construction of what was then known as the Ellesmere Canal – including the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and the tunnels.[Website info on Mr Telford HERE] Beech House sits right on the corner of the canal junction, the better not to waste time getting to and fro work…

Little did Mr Telford think what fun he would be laying on for a chap living in his far-flung future. The Ellesmere Basin is, as I had hoped it would be, a veritable circus of human activity. From my position safe behind the Cardinal’s one-way glass portholes and windows (and with a thick row of fenders deployed) I was treated to the sight of every manoeuvring technique known to man, and to some that have yet to be defined and documented. Hire-boats came and went, sometimes intentionally, sometimes it seemed just because the throttles had jammed wide open and the horizon beckoned.

As Confucius used to remark; the family that screams in terror on holiday together, stays together. I heard families screaming in English, Australian, German, Dutch, Hindi and something that I think was “Evangelical Tongues” from the deep south of the North American ex-colony. The edges of the basin are ringed with concrete, and they are splendidly unforgiving. Messrs Crash, Bang and Apocalyptic-Wallop were much in evidence.

One wholly unexpected treat was the sight of a real Welsh Dragon being constructed and then obedience-trained in the CaRT marshalling yard – a genuine, smoke-snorting beastie of proportions to make even St George take a deep breath and consider a change of vocation. Apparently, this following weekend, there is to be a festival of something here in Ellesmere, with music, processions, a classic car show and a melee of floating traders (floating on boats that is; they rarely float independently, being too weighed down with tat to trade).

This being England though, and moreover, England quite close to the Welsh border, the clemency of the weather cannot be guaranteed, dragon breath or no dragon breath. The one consistency in English meteorology is inconsistency, and here we do not refer to annual seasons, but to from hour to hour. To wit, at one point during my August stay it was warm, dry and sunny enough for me to wander into town in shirtsleeves, to purchase fresh comestibles. Within no more than two minutes of my regaining the shelter of the Cardinal we were treated to thunder, lightning and monsoon-style rain combined with ruddy-great hailstones being flung left, right and centre. A close call indeed. Others were not so lucky, and I swear that I saw the ghost of Gene Kelly folding his umbrella away and breaking his cobbler’s heart in the puddles.

But enough of this voyeuristic enjoyment of schadenfreude, exothermic animals and festivals. The time eventually came, as time always does, to leave those 72-hour maximum moorings and find somewhere else to lurk. The Cardinal and I mooched on, all of another half a mile, to the other side of town. Confusion, I say, confusion to both Robespierre and to the Canal & River Trust’s [Boat Movement] Enforcement Officers, or Huggy-Wuggy Park Ranger Experience-Facilitators, or whatever it is that they’re called this year.

We are currently (re)moored on free-for-all towpath moorings with open country on one side and the walled back garden of the Poor Clares Convent on the other, just beyond the hedgerow.

From the open country comes the distant call of the Hoodwink’s Web-Footed Peribungle, or some such bird, calling phee! phee! phee! and accompanied at all times of day and night by pair-bonding Sodbucket’s Mouse-Eviscerators calling scawk! scawk! scawk! – while from the convent side of the mooring comes a multitude of noises mellifluous, noises amusing and noises nun.

The convent of the Poor Clares Colettines is both a delight and a disappointment. [WebsiteHERE] The nuns are quite authentic and sport the full habit. There is occasionally music, of sorts. Well, musical instrument practice, and I could not on oath swear for or against this being “a large nun with oversized lungs learning the nose-flute” or else “a small nun with terrible cough doing something to the business end of a trombone”. The only thing that I could say under oath is that the sound is… surprising. Whatever it is, nuns do occasionally have fun, apparently, although I have yet to overhear the sisters playing the didgeridoo, the drums or the electric guitar. I’m here for a few days yet though, and I have high hopes (even without an ant or a rubber-tree plant).

It must be said that even for a serious non-theist such as myself, it is quite pleasant hearing the mellifluous ting-ting-ting of the convent bell calling the nuns to the events of the convent day: Midnight Matins (midnight, ish); rising (05:30hrs); Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament (05:50); Angelus Lauds (06:20); Breakfast (07:15) &etc on throughout the day with barely a moment free in the horarium to scratch an itch, cuss a cuss or utter a purple blasphemy.

One convent sound that I have, safely on my side of the hedgerow, allowed myself a belly-laugh at, has been the two-stroke symphony of a ride-on lawnmower buzzing around the convent grounds. I can’t help but wonder whether the nuns, in full habit, draw lots to drive the lawnmower, take it in turns on a rota or if the Abbess, Mother Superior or equivalent reserves motor-sports to herself. Doubtless the task gets the wind blowing nicely through the vestments, especially if they, as I hope that they do, pepper the lawn with wheelies, “doughnuts” and J-turns. It is not possible to photograph inside a convent, for one thing I don’t have the necessary telephoto lens and I already have far too many Peeping Tom convictions to risk adding another. A photograph of the statuary in the front approach is all that I can offer.

The disappointment of Poor Clares comes in the form of the convent building itself. It has all of the charm and grace of a nineteen-seventies estate, brick-built bungalow with PVC double-glazing. Not for the Poor Clares Colettines the delights of anything ancient, stone-built or even very impressive in any way. Still, as Nanny always used to remind me whenever the kitchen sent up that day’s menu for the nursery inmates to choose from (usually a decision between larks’ tongues, roast suckling elephant or monkey brains, to be followed by marchpanes, piddled figs and a half-bottle of something from the lesser-vintage end of the wine cellar) – you can’t have everything. Not even if you’re a nun.

The Cardinal and I shall reste ici for a few days on these new moorings, tormented by the calls of the winged wild and the various sounds of the convent. I may even wander back with one of my best walking sticks to prod and poke at people and things in the Ellesmere festival, should the desire seize me with sufficient force to loosen the grip of my favourite chair. Then I feel we ought to mooch on again, perhaps through the short Ellesmere canal tunnel and mayhap another half-mile, to these moorings overlooking one of the local meres, where it’s even morerural and a chap’s only worry is that he can, occasionally, hear banjos playing in the woods… and I don’t think it’s the nuns at practice.

Ian Hutson

Canal Blog  –  Twitter perch  –  Facebook



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Mystery Monday: “Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I” by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

It gives me greatest pleasure to announce 
the Launch of
Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I
by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

This is the second “three things” serial, in novel form Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I. by the fabulous Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene.

Bijou front only 2

Yes, that’s the cover. (She loves making covers!) Teagan kept it similar to the one for the first serial, The Three Things Serial Story, but with different 1920s photos.

For those of you who are not familiar with her blog serials, here is Teagan introducing it:

Ages ago I developed a writing exercise. I asked friends to give me three completely random things. Then I would write until I had mentioned all the things. I brought that exercise to my blog (Teagan’s Books), but I had the readers send me their things. I let the random things drive every detail of a serial story, setting, plot, and characters. That resulted in The Three Things Serial Story, which gave birth to this culinary mystery. However, this time the “things” are food related — or ingredients.

About the Book

As with the first serial, Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I is a spontaneously written, pantser story. I wrote by the seat of my pants and let the “ingredients” readers sent each week drive a new serial story. This is the “bookized” version of that serial.

This time the Jazz Age setting is Savannah, Georgia where our flapper, Pip, is “sentenced” to live with her grandmother and learn to cook. Pip gets caught up in a layered mystery that includes bootleggers, G-men, and the varied challenges of being a young woman in changing times. She meets new friends, including some animal characters.

If you have not read The Three Things Serial Story, be warned. This adventure contains a bit of a spoiler, but does not go into detail about it.

Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I is available through and Amazon and Create Space. If you don’t have a Kindle, Amazon also offers a free app that will let you read Kindle books on your computer or other device. The purchase links are below. But first, here’s a snippet.

Blue Lucille Ball Stage Door Trailer

In my imagination, a young Lucille Ball would play Pip.


Rutabaga Limbo

Either I woke up feeling horribly nauseated, or the queasiness woke me. I’m not sure which. I opened my eyes to complete darkness. There was no light, no sound. The way my stomach tossed reminded me of a small boat on the ocean. It was as if I sailed in a lightless limbo.

Oh… that was a bad train of thought to have with an unsettled belly.

Think of something else! Anything else, I told myself.

I stood unsteadily. The sound of a cricket came to me. Good. The utter silence had been very disturbing. I became aware of the cool moist earth beneath my palms.

Where the Sam Hill was I?

I sat back on my heels, focusing all my senses. My eyes might as well have been closed — it was that dark. Bare ground was beneath me. The air had a musty odor. A sickly sweet scent clung to my bobbed hair.

The cricket’s chirping was the only sound. Still sitting, I turned. My eyes widened and strained, trying to see in that heavy darkness. When I looked up I was rewarded with the sight of a thin line of pink light.

The faint glow allowed me to see vague outlines a few feet away. I stumbled over something and stooped down to let my hands figure out what it was. I felt a burlap bag and round lumps. Rutabagas? I felt around and found another bag. That one felt like potatoes. I moved closer to the wall and a tall shape. Yes, a ladder, my questing hands confirmed for my still foggy brain.

Gazing up at the line of pinkish light I realized I was in a root cellar.

But how did I get there?


Purchase Links

Amazon USA



Amazon UK:


Amazon Japan:

Author Bio

Visual for Teagan_2017 Chris

Image by Chris Graham

Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene, a southerner by birth, was “enchanted” by the desert southwest of the USA when she moved there. Now a resident of a major east coast city, she longs to return to those enchanting lands.

Teagan had always devoured fantasy novels of every type. Then one day there was no new book readily at hand for reading — so she decided to write one. And she hasn’t stopped writing since.

Her work is colored by her experiences in both the southern states and the southwest. Teagan most often writes in the fantasy genre, but she also writes 1920s stories and Steampunk. Her blog “Teagan’s Books” contains serial stories written according to “things” from viewers.

You can also visit me at:


New Release: “Traitor’s Niece: The Complications of Being Lucy Book 3” by Gus Kenney

Today I’m introducing  Gus Kenney and his Sci Fi/Fantasy / Action & Adventure / Folklore & Legend / Fantasy & Magic series “The Complications of Being Lucy” (what a fabulous title!) with an excerpt from book 3 “Traitor’s Niece”

The blurb:

Sever all ties.

Lucy is a pawn. A dark means to a deadly end.

An enemy, burning with centuries of betrayal, has made the opening move to shatter an already divided empire. His first step, the slaying of one of Lucy’s guardians. Broken with grief and compelled by rage, Lucy embarks on a journey of vengeance to the shadowed and forgotten corners of the five lands. With those she has left by her side, sacrifices will be made to bring her closer to retribution but only if she doesn’t succumb to the manipulations of a ruthless enemy first.

Buy Link:

Author Bio 

Gus lives in western New York with his amazing wife and five four legged children. He decided he wanted to be a writer when he realized that he could never be a spy as good as Timothy Dalton’s Bond and that Hired Sword was not part of any growth industry. When he is not semi-busy writing, he spends his time pretending he knows what he is doing at a nine-to-five job and the rest of it complaining that it is taking way too long for them to start showing new episodes of his favorite cartoons. If you’re bored, or just a creeper, you can check out the insanity that doesn’t make it into his books on his social media outlets.

Author Links



Other Books In the series:

The Changeling and The Cupboard (The Complications of Being Lucy Book 1)

The Changeling and the Borrowed Family (The Complications of Being Lucy Book 2)


Excerpts Traitor’s Niece: 

“Can I help you,” Felix paused and I felt my pulse quicken, bracing my nerves for Vienna’s familiar, brash tone, “gentlemen?”

A sigh rushed out of me and I melted into my chair in relief.

“I don’t see how a seed head can be much help to anyone but for getting strung out for the washerwoman to hang her kit on.”

With those words, any relief I had experienced reversed and my heart climbed my ribs and took up residence in my esophagus. I felt my face burn with fear and try to quench itself with a cold sweat. Worst of all, I found myself unable to move, unless you counted shivering in fright. The man’s slanderous reference to Felix’s existence as a Dru Elf, and not a mere employee of the library, indicated that he had the vision of a Herald. The accent was similar to the Troll’s who had accosted me at the zoo, and by his petulant tone, it was obvious he was one of the ones who hadn’t let old animosities toward the Elves go.

“And yet you had the decency to speak to me.” Felix responded in the snarky tone that he reserved for teenagers who gave him problems with their time online or making too much noise. “How kind.”

“You got a smart mouth on you, boy.” A different voice, same accent so clearly a Troll, spoke up and it dawned on me that Felix had said gentlemen, not gentleman. I felt my limbs start to come back under my control when I reminded them of the trouble they had given me dealing with the last Troll; and it had only been one Troll. I slid from the chair and stood in the middle of the room, still outside the line of sight from Felix’s desk, fighting with myself whether I should just start running now or wait and see how many I would have to run from.

“If you think my mouth is smart you should see my–.”

A sickening crack erupted in the near silence of the library and being unfortunately familiar with the sound of a fist meeting a face, I lunged forward to the edge of the room to check on Mr. Page. Capricorn! Four large Trolls stood before the desk, one of them rubbing his knuckles and watching Felix press a shaking hand to a split lip.

“Enough of this.” The Troll who seemed to be in charge grabbed a handful of Mr. Page’s hair and vines. “Where’s the girl?”

I threw myself against the wall and willed myself to turn invisible. It took only a second to realize that was stupid and instead wished that Frankie was there, or would get there very soon. With help.

“What are you talking about?” Felix asked, his words slurred from his damaged lip. “We get girls in here all the time.”

“We were told that she would be here.” The Troll barked, but thankfully didn’t add more violence to his words. “She’s meeting a friend.”

The way he said friend read as anything but friendly.

And who does that remind you of, cool logic spoke up with just a touch of attitude. Vienna. She set me up! I felt my hands clench into fists and my jaw twinged with the pressure of grinding my teeth in a rage. It all seemed stupidly obvious now. Invite me here to meet her and get nabbed by her Troll cohorts. Not bad after her first attempt ended in failure. She probably killed that Troll so he couldn’t talk and tell us who he was working for. Anger was quickly burning away fear and I nearly stepped out to confront the men head on, hoping that they would take me right to that little traitor so I could deal with her betrayal. My arms shook with such furious energy that I couldn’t stop them from thumping the wall at my back.

“What was that?” Another Troll voice called out. Having foolishly exposed my location, fright was quick to remind me that I was still in real danger. I pushed it aside and clung to anything that resembled an intelligent thought. It came to me quickly as I was looking right at a window cracked open to let in the cool breeze of the afternoon. I dashed for it and just got my hands on the frame when I heard the Troll, much closer now, exclaim his discovery. The old wood frame was sticking and I strained my arms to pull the sash up. I felt the floor thud with the heavy footfalls of the Troll as he rushed across the room and I gave the window one last jerk while I tried to resolve myself to the inevitability of the big man grabbing me. Surprise and joy filled me as the window at last yielded and flew open. And something flew in.

A black blur clipped my arm and spun me about to face my Troll pursuer. Primitive reflexes made me throw up my hands as some kind of defense, but no assault came. The man had stopped in his tracks as a low growl made my insides struggle to hold their bodily functions in check. Between the Troll and I Boris stood rigid, his short hair standing on end. I couldn’t blame the man for taking a step backward and keeping his focus completely on my dog. I had trouble looking away from the frightening, protective presence of my pet. The three of us stood stock still, waiting for something to give. Fear or rage. So transfixed were we three on our situation that none of us, well maybe Boris because he crept back a step, noticed Mrs. Darren enter the room. We should have, as she was running full bore with her head down. The Troll turned slightly at the last, and worst possible, second and thick golden horns crashed into his chest. The collision sounded like a felled tree finally crashes to the ground: a ground shaking thump and a lot of cracking and popping. Mrs. Darren seemed to halt her rush a moment after impact and the Troll carried the momentum, horizontally, across the room to smash into a book shelf and slump to the floor.

Slowly Mrs. Darren turned to look at me and then at Boris who was still growling but not nearly as loud.

“No dogs in the library.” Was all she said, and the paralysis I had been experiencing finally broke.

“Sorry.” I didn’t know what else to say. It wasn’t enough, but the librarian seemed to accept it as she nodded toward the window. A shout from the other room was the last bit of motivation I needed. I crawled through the opening and after Boris leapt through after me, I ran. Making it to the intersection, I heard the sound of glass breaking behind me and felt the all too familiar sensation of being chased. I cautioned a glance backward and saw a skinny Troll racing to catch up with me, something he was doing with little effort. I was half tempted to sic Boris on him, but the thought left my mind when I looked forward and nearly tripped over the wagon of what was the only destitute person in the town.

Can Lady, as she was called, hardly reacted to my near collision with her overloaded cart of recyclables with anything more than her typical muttering. I didn’t waste energy on an apology because I couldn’t spare it and because she hardly ever took notice of the people or the voices around her. I just raced on and was both grateful and sympathetic when I clearly heard my pursuer fare less fortunately with the woman’s laden wagon. Can Lady’s muttering grew feverish over the rattle of her livelihood being scattered and I let my good fortune spur me for home.

It wasn’t until I could just see the familiar chipped and faded slats of home that I realized my mistake. In my rush to leave I had left my book bag behind. I didn’t care so much about the loss of the text books or the inability to do tonight’s homework assignments, but somewhere in that bag was information that would lead the Trolls straight to the front door I hurried to reach. It dawned on me a moment later how stupid that thought was because if I had been followed from the library, I was leading them straight home anyway.

A bark from Boris had me looking from the front door to the street where my Uncle was quickly pulling into the driveway in his ugly car. I could tell as soon as he got out that he knew exactly what was going on and for a split second I considered running back to the library. The Trolls hadn’t looked nearly as angry as my uncle did.

“What’s going on?” He demanded when I was close enough that he didn’t need to shout to be heard. I tried to answer him while catching my breath. Boris spoke for me by barking frantically down the street. I glanced back to see several Trolls rushing down the street. A lot more than I had heard in the library. “Inside!”

I didn’t argue with my uncle as he ushered me toward the front door. My tired feet hit the first step when a gunshot burst behind me.



Historical Saturday New Release: “A Hundred Tiny Threads” by Judith Barrow

HAPPY PUBLICATION DAY – ‘A Hundred Tiny Threads’ by Judith Barrow – the prequel to the Howarth Family Series was published a few days ago. Starting in 1911 over the years we uncover the threads that bind Winifred and Bill together.

“Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is threads, hundreds
of tiny threads, which sew people together through the years.”
Simone Signoret.

I had the good fortune to be able to attend the packed launch event of this long awaited book at Waterstones in Carmarthen.

You can read all four books in any order, they are stand alone books but as we discussed this issue with Judith, the consensus was that reading them in the order they were written might be the best option.

I’ve been a fan of Judith’s amazing stories and her lovable persona for years and enjoyed joining her large group of readers and supporters. Here are some images from the night and the plot of the book. 

It’s 1911 and Winifred Duffy is a determined young woman eager for new experiences, for a life beyond the grocer’s shop counter ruled over by her domineering mother.

The scars of Bill Howarth’s troubled childhood linger. The only light in his life comes from a chance encounter with Winifred, the girl he determines to make his wife. 

Meeting her friend Honora’s silver-tongued brother turns Winifred’s heart upside down. But Honora and Conal disappear, after a suffrage rally turns into a riot, and abandoned Winifred has nowhere to turn but home.

The Great War intervenes, sending Bill abroad to be hardened in a furnace of carnage and loss. When he returns his dream is still of Winifred and the life they might have had… Back in Lancashire, worn down by work and the barbed comments of narrow-minded townsfolk, Winifred faces difficult choices in love and life.

All books by Judith Barrow on the Honno website

BUY THIS BOOK at Honno or Amazon

This is her blog tour, if you want to follow the trail of reviews and interviews:

Friday 25th August
Saturday 26th August
Sunday 27th August
Monday 28th August
Tuesday 29th August
Wednesday 30th August
Thursday 31st August
Friday 1st September
Saturday 2nd September
Sunday 3rd September
Monday 4th September
Tuesday 5th September


I’m such a big fan of Lesley Hayes, I had to re-blog this post to remind you all of Lesley’s wonderful body of work

Originally published by Lucinda E Clarke here: MEET LESLEY HAYES


Lesley Hayes

My guest this week lives in Oxford, England and is a psychotherapist by profession and a prolific writer. I enjoy her books which I would describe as deep, leaving lots of room for thought long after you read the last page.  Again, Lesley is one of the earliest virtual friends I met on Facebook and we’re both in the Indie Authors Support and Discussion group. We re-tweet regularly and I do recommend her books they are truly inspiring.

My name is Lesley Hayes and I write… It feels like the opening to a confession at Writer’s Anonymous, and in a way that’s appropriate. Writing is a kind of addiction, a craving that can attack the soul with the sharp bite of a need demanding to be answered in the dead of night, at dawn, or at any unguarded point throughout the day. I began writing stories while I was at school, neglecting every other subject (apart from History, which intrigued me with its many lies and mysteries) and ducked university at the age of 17 to work on Honey magazine, where my first short story was published. It was the beginning of a long and fruitful love affair with writing for publication, which has weaved in and out of everything else I’ve done over the ensuing years.

Oh yes, I should probably mention that I got married and divorced twice, had two children by the time I was 23, moved to Oxford in my late thirties and re-invented myself, fell in and out of love with disregard to gender a number of times, trained and practised as a psychotherapist for twenty years, and adopted a cat. For the past five years I have shed most of my therapy clients and emerged all damp-winged from the chrysalis of one identity into the bright uncertain dawn of another. The muse never really went away all those years as a therapist; she simply bided her time, as muses tend to do. I am impatient when it comes to change, and got quickly bored with knocking on the door of agents this time around, so in 2013 I began self-publishing my newborn novels and their older sibling short stories, many of which had been previously broadcast on BBC Radio Oxford.

The first novel to erupt with genie-like eagerness from the unplugged bottle was The Drowned Phoenician Sailor, which begins with the death of a psychotherapist (go figure.) This was swiftly jostled aside by A Field Beyond Time, which I’d actually been in the process of writing for ten years during my years as a therapist before the awakened muse finally goaded me into completing it. Round Robin, Dangerous People, and The Other Twin soon followed, and I have another in the pipeline which is still so top secret I would have to kill Lucinda if I disclosed it.

A writer’s life is often a solitary one (not so different from that of many psychotherapists) and as an introvert I am protective of my personal space and dread it when I’m invited out to show my face in public. You won’t catch me at book signings and literary gigs, parading my authorship and touting my wares, and the best thing about writing this for Lucinda is that I’m invisible. However, I’m no recluse and have a number of close friends and a cherished partner and Oxford is the perfect place to live with mild to moderate invisibility among other writers, eccentrics and people of diverse religions, ethnicity, and sexual preference. If you come across any of my books, read carefully between the lines if you want to find me… I have written clues to my true self into the characters of every one.

If you want to risk that journey visit my website: where you can find links to all my books. If you want to take a faster track follow the links here:

The Drowned Phoenician Sailor

A Field Beyond Time

Round Robin

Dangerous People

The Other Twin

Oxford Marmalade

Thank you Lesley for being my guest.

Welsh Wednesdays Reblog: Today with Hugh Roberts #author #poet Narberth Book Fair #BookFair.

Reblog from Judith Barrow
Source: My Series of Author & Poet Interviews #author #poet Narberth Book Fair#BookFair. Today with Hugh Roberts

Today with Hugh Roberts

Titleband for Narberth Book Fair

Throughout this months I ’ll be posting interviews with the authors and poets who will be taking part in our Book Fair:

There are forty authors, so, obviously, there are many genres for both adults and children. There will be talks an writing and books, creative writing workshops for adults  workshops & talks and fun workshops for children, activities for the children  Children’s Page and a fun book trail through Narberth, the gorgeous little market town in Pembrokeshire.  Location.

All free!!

And, of course, there will be the chance to chat with all the authors and to pick their brains on all aspects of writing. Even to buy their books and have them personally signed.

And, as usual, there will also be the writing competition: this year is a poetry competition:  competition . Submit a poem, in any form, of 20 lines or less, on the subject of : –


Having outgrown our previous venue we have been lucky to hire the Queens Hall: who have been very generous in their support of the event.

Although, five years ago,  I started organising the book fairs on my own I was soon joined by Alex Martin:  and Thorne Moore: Unfortunately Alex has moved on to pastures new  (although is still a great supporter), so Thorne and I have been joined by Elizabeth Sleight. Elizabeth is involved in the charity we are supporting through our raffle; The Harriet Davis Seaside Holiday Trust For Disabled Children: . 

Our author today is the lovely author, prolific blogger and all round good guy … Hugh Roberts.

Hugh Roberts

Let’s’ start, Hugh, by you telling us what you love most about the writing process?

Being able to go into worlds that do not exist and creating characters and worlds that I have the power over and which readers enjoy reading about. As a writer, you can do anything you want to the people in your worlds, so it’s probably the closest I’ll ever get to living life as an emperor.

What is the ultimate goal you hope to achieve with your writing?

I would love to write for a TV show such as Doctor Who, or even a well-known soap-opera. I admire the writers in the world of TV and movies and think it such a shame that many of them do not get the recognition they deserve. We need to ensure that these people walk along the red-carpet to loud cheers, as much as the actors do.

If you could write about anyone fiction/nonfiction who would you write about?

The Time Traveller in The Time Machine. I know there have been hundreds (if not thousands) of other time travelling stories since H.G. Wells wrote The Time Machine, but I would have loved to have asked Mr Wells if I could write a sequel to his book. I’m not a huge lover of sequels, but The Time Traveller in The Time Machine is one of my all-time favourite fictional characters.

Have you always wanted to be an author?

Yes, ever since I can remember. It has always been one of my two lifetime goals. Unfortunately, for many years, I allowed being dyslexic get in my way. I’m so grateful to have discovered the world of blogging, as it was the gateway for me to finally conquer the monster I called ‘Dyslexia’. 

 What genre do you consider your books? Have you considered writing in another genre?

As a writer of short stories, I’ve written in many genres. My favourites tend to be science fiction, horror, and suspense. However, I was recently challenged to write a rom-com, after saying it was a genre I would find difficult to write. It took me a while to write a story, but I’m pleased to say that I wrote one, although it’s yet to be read by anyone.

Could you tell us a bit about your most recent book and why it is a must-read?

So far, I’ve only published one book. It’s called Glimpses and is a collection of 28 short stories I’ve wrote over three years. If you enjoy shows as such The Twilight Zone, Tales Of The Unexpected, The Outer Limits, or Tales From The Dark Side, then Glimpses is a must read. All the stories are full of twists and turns that take the reader on an unexpected journey and an ending they probably never saw coming.

Glimpses by [Roberts, Hugh W.]

What was the inspiration behind Glimpses?

My love of The Twilight Zone and its creator, Rod Serling. When I first watched The Twilight Zone, I wanted to find out more about its creator. Serling is the master when it comes to writing stories with twists that nobody will have guessed, along with his thoughts about the situations people find themselves in, in each of the stories. He gave me the inspiration to write stories the way he did and to marvel in the delight when people say that they didn’t see that ending coming. It’s one of the biggest compliments a reader can pay me.

How long did it take you to write Glimpses?

I wrote the first story in April 2014. However, at the time, I had no intension of publishing it in a book. Then, as I wrote more and more short stories and published them on my blog, my readers started asking me to put them into a collection and publish them. Glimpses was published in December 2016.

Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reins of the story?

No, I always have the reins of a story. In fact, the ending will come to me first, and I then tend to work backwards to the beginning. I’ve never found myself in a situation where a character has hijacked the story…not yet, anyway.

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

Yes, as many of them follow my blog. One of the best things about blogging is the interaction between my readers and myself. If it wasn’t for my readers leaving comments on my blog, Glimpses would never have been published. I’m very lucky in that my blog seems to attract a lot of comments. I’ve had huge compliments paid to me, as well as great constructive criticism about what I publish. I also enjoy seeing my readers interact with each other on my blog. When I’ve asked people why they leave me comments on my blog, many say it’s because of the friendliness I show everyone who comments. I treat anyone who visits my blog as a guest and always ensure I respond to all the comments.

 Do you have any hidden or uncommon talents?

Not that I’m aware of, although I have been told that I have a talent of writing stories with an unexpected ending that many never guess is coming.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

That most of my writing is done in the morning. I rarely write after lunchtime, although one story I wrote during the middle of the night did end up in Glimpses.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Walking with my partner, John and our Cardigan Welsh Corgi, Toby. Watching television, cycling, and meeting up with friends and family for meals and drinks.

What is the most amusing thing that has ever happened to you? Not particularly to do with your writing.

I got knocked out by an electric potato peeler at the Ideal Home Exhibition in London. It wasn’t funny at the time, but I now laugh about it.

Give us a random fact about yourself.

I have a collection of 24 foot dated Harrods Christmas Teddy bears and over 50 Christmas themed mugs.

Hugh’s Links:


Review reblog: “To Fly Again: Portrait of a BIPOLAR Life” by Rachelle Hasnas LCSW


TO FLY AGAIN: A MUST READ To Fly Again: Portrait of a BIPOLAR Life by [Hasnas LCSW, Rachelle]

Mental health professionals do not always realize the gravity of their illnesses that many of their patients exhibit. Some understand the red flags and ignore them while others prescribe treatments that are short term and are not long lasting. Bipolar is a mental illness that can be controlled with medication if the right follow up and the right precautions are taken. Even explaining it to the patient and making the person aware of their problem and helping he/she to cope with this syndrome. But, within the pages of To Fly Again you will hear the voice of Joshua through his words and his poetry as you take this journey with him and the author hoping that it will help others who read this book, parents, teachers, health care providers and therapists to work with people in a positive way helping them to overcome their fears and allowing them To Fly Again and soar and live a happier life.
Mother and author Rachelle Hasnas, LCSW takes this tragedy and turns it into a heart wrenching memoir letting readers in her life, hearing her words, her anguish and frustrations as she tried to piece together the life of a son who died too soon. Joshua lived with Bipolar and could not deal with the simple everyday stress and disappointments in life. This is a disease that most people do not understand and often is discounted for depression, anxiety and not realized for what it is and the way it disables someone’s mind and body. The opening chapter and introduction explains how she and her two friends would celebrate his life on the day he was cremated and the symbol she saw of a special seagull that let her know he was watching over her and was there.
Many voices are heard but the strongest is the one that no one listened to and really understood the voice of a young man who wanted to live life as a normal person yet was hindered by a mental illness that took over his mind and life. Numerous hospitalizations, group homes, substance treatment and doctors who did not understand his cry for help allowing him to fend for himself. A mother who tried to advise him and jobs that he loved for a while and then became too hard for him to handle. Friends that called 911 for help and more visits to the ER why didn’t someone finally realize that this cry for help needed to be heard and addressed? Bruce, his father, gave him a job, helped him get apartments but when things get too tough and the wear and tear of everyday life overwhelmed Joshua he turned to selling drugs, using more pills and was arrested all too often. DUI for drunk driving, losing his freedom to drive and the will to live so many times yet not always admitting what was hidden beneath the fear in his heart that he was a failure in his eyes and in the eyes of others. When his brother got married he was happy for him but depressed for himself and yet no one taught him how to turn his life around, monitor him more regularly and give him the confidence and hope he needed to soar. Pain both physical and mental, depression the feeling that nothing you do is right is just a small part of what Joshua felt before taking his life. Author, mother of Joshua, Rachelle Hasnas presents an honest, heartbreaking and true account of what happens when the world looks in one direction opposite of where they should be focused.

Rachelle, his mother and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, striving so hard to get him the care he needed but the healthcare system at times works against so many and the trouble with his Medicaid and medical insurance often played a part in his releases after brief stays in many facilities.
How do you accept that you son is damaged and that he needs help? Despite the years of counseling and medication that he took on and off is life was hard to live and he was never able to change his perception of himself. The author includes a chapter almost like a diary of his downfall and fight with Bipolar II and the end result which in order to understand his torment, her frustrations and the lack of support of those that were enlisted to provide help in getting him housing and rehab you need to read it for yourself to truly understand just how mental illness changed the dynamics of her family and many other families too.
October 18, 2008 her world dissolved like a candle that was lit and the wick burned leaving only the wax. Apparently he took an accidental overdose and died that day making her realize and others too that his wish to die was finally realized.
To truly understand that even though Joshua thought he was a failure he was not. His love of music, playing the cello, meteorology, hockey and writing poetry are some of what he excelled at. His brother Dan was close to him and they shared many of the same interests. But, the most compelling part besides the author’s sharing his life and story are his poems which I am so glad were published as part of this outstanding memoir and presents a special tribute to him keeping him alive in another way.
There are several that I would like to share not in their entirety but the words that will relate what I feel some missed and Joshua if he was here would you want you read and finally hear his cries for help:
See Me, Feel Me, Love Me, Heal Me: An excerpt:
Can’t you hear me cause I’m screamin’
Although my lips aren’t movin’
Can’t you see I’m hurtin’
Although I’m not bruised or bleedin’
The final two lines says it all: So I feel love
Is there anybody out there? I think these last two lines are very compelling as he is hoping someone will come to his rescue and save him from himself!
The author continues by sharing that she sent a letter to the prison psychologist who paid attention to the letter and contacted the prison parole board as he was incarcerated for selling drugs and using drugs many times. Calling her a few days before he was supposed to be discharged he told the author, his mother that he was asked to enter a four week-long rehabilitation program upon leaving prison. The reason for this was to give the parole board time to find him housing placement. Feeling hopeful and positive he agreed but this was short lived. Placed in shackles he was sent back to Long Island and told they were afraid he would hurt himself. Four weeks at the hospital placement in Long Island and nothing was being done to help him. Where would he go after his discharge? This was truly the beginning of the end as his father was not allowed to take him on The Silver Girl because he would be leaving the state. Instead he stayed with a friend that they never vetted and did not realize that she was a user too. The final answers were not what anyone would want to hear. In writing this memoir the author stated that she was saddened as she remembers that he had potential for a different life and never realized it. The final realization is that the one at fault was his case manager who did nothing to investigate his placement with this girl and her fiancé nor did they realize or check that she had a history of drug use and arrests. The most heartbreaking point of this memoir is reliving with the author that fatal phone call from the ME. Added in she recounts her feelings of guilt, thinking she could have done more and at times felt she enabled her son. But, second-guessing is not going to ease the pain or what ifs. Time to release the anger, move ahead and then embrace his life and remember the good and the wonderful. Sharing more of his work will help you the reader embrace knowing him too: an excerpt from MY WORLD:
My world is spinning out of control
As I watch the moon flash by, blue and gray
The sun doesn’t rise anymore
The night descents forevermore.
The stars seemingly absent form the darkened sky
The lonely coldness blows through
As if to freeze life itself.
The despair, the absence of the stars making the world seem dark and dismal and the fact that life itself became cold and frozen in time tells the reader that Joshua felt that his life was stagnant and he could not melt to ice to go on. The author shares the day he was cremated and the presence of that special seagull that followed them the entire time and during that journey to place his ashes as Rachel, Bruce and Dan celebrated his life in their own special way. The author shares invaluable resources about Bipolar and places where you the reader and others can seek help for someone that might need it.
Joshua lived with bipolar disorder for over 20 years before it was recognized for what it was. When the diagnosis was finally made two years before he took his own life. He had mood swings that alternated she related between deep depression and extreme irritability that quickly shifted into intense anger and often times of rage without warning.
If Joshua could read his mother’s thoughts and words I think he would realize just how special and talented he was and maybe understand his way with expressing himself in his poetry, hockey, working as a salesman, playing the cello, meteorology and loving the true experience of Hurricane Isabel. Joshua you were smart, special and unfortunately the system did not work in your favor but reading this memoir, learning how amazing you were even though you had bouts with the law and fought to exist in your own way, getting to know you and reading this book will always hold a special place in my heart. The dreams your family had seeing you and knowing you were there will always keep you alive in their hearts forever. Your ashes were sprinkled, the seagull followed and now Joshua you will learn one more time: TO FLY AGAIN! Thank you for sharing his story with me. This book is a valuable resource for mental health workers, caregivers, parents, discussion groups, police, psychologists and anyone that wants to understand mental illnesses and how they can impact your life and that of others.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine

Mystery Monday Reblog: “The Stolen Child” by Sanjida Kay #BookReview #psychologicalthriller

Thanks to Jo at mychestbutreadingtree for this amazing review of a awesome-looking psychological thriller – just what I needed for my Mystery Mondays series after spending the weekend with my head deep in water instead of a mystery book

Source: The Stolen Child by Sanjida Kay #BookReview

The Stolen Child by Sanjida Kay #BookReview

Book blurb…

Zoe and Ollie Morley tried for years to have a baby and couldn’t. They turned to adoption and their dreams came true when they were approved to adopt a little girl from birth. They named her Evie.

Seven years later, the family has moved to Yorkshire and grown in number: a wonderful surprise in the form of baby Ben. As a working mum it’s not easy for Zoe, but life is good.

But then Evie begins to receive letters and gifts.

The sender claims to be her birth father.

He has been looking for his daughter.

And now he is coming to take her back…

Jo’s review…

I just could not put this book down! This book is responsible for me being awake at 2.30 this morning unable to go to sleep until I had wrung every single word from its pages. So today I am a tired and grumpy book blogger especially as I have no coffee in the house any longer as it gives me palpitations! Which is probably a good thing as this book alone was responsible for plenty of palpitations yesterday!

I actually wish I hadn’t read the book blurb before I started The Stolen Child. That first chapter was such an intense, hard hitting and emotional few pages that it probably would have had even more impact on me if I hadn’t know what Zoe and Ollie were actually going through. But it was an incredible start to this highly emotive parenting journey that had my instincts as a mother on high alert for Zoe and her family immediately. This is one of those books where you suspect everybody and trust nobody as you hope and pray that everything comes good in the end. And one of the things that made The Stolen Child stand out for me was that you were never quite sure HOW it was going to end due to the realistically difficult family circumstances that were used to great effect by Sanjida Kay.

The setting of Ilkley gave this thriller an extra creepy and atmospheric edge and its vivid descriptions were beautifully written with a knowledge and passion that projected off each page. And whilst I didn’t particularly take to the “Boden catalogue” couple (in fact during that second chapter I absolutely detested Ollie!!) that didn’t impact on the tension I felt watching their beautiful but confused child deal with the difficult emotions she was going through. Her complex family dynamics also evoked many emotions within me and left me feeling completely drained at times.  But I still couldn’t put this book to the side!

This is a tense family drama that is taken to another level by the ravishingly descriptive narrative which sent shivers down my spine. The anxieties of parenthood were heightened to such an extent I just wanted to grab all my kids/grandchildren and give them the biggest ever bear hugs. Giving children the freedom to find themselves and make their own decisions is one of the hardest parenting choices you can make especially when all you want to do is   bubble wrap them and keep them safely close to you! And Samjida Kay obviously knows what frightens parents the most, using that knowledge to great effect in her fictional family so that her readers can safely live out their own fears within this melodrama.

I enjoyed this so much that as soon as I finished, even though it was the wee small hours of the morning, I went on Amazon to buy any other books by Sanjida Kay. Then learnt that apparently I had already bought Bone by Bone in March 2016 and that  it has been hiding in my kindle TBR pile ever since then! So I now know what I will be reading next time I can’t sleep! Insomnia does have its positives!

The Stolen Child is published by Corvus and available to purchase now.

Meet the author…

Sanjida Kay

‘Bone by Bone’, published by Corvus Books, is my first psychological thriller. It was longlisted for a CWA Steel Dagger Award, and was nominated as one of the best crime and thriller books of the year by the Guardian and the Sunday Express. It’s recently been published as an audio book by Audible.

My second thriller, ‘The Stolen Child’, is out in paperback in September. It’s set in Ilkley, where I grew up. I spent a large proportion of my childhood rambling over the moor, as you’ll probably be able to tell!

I live in Bristol, with my husband and daughter.

Review: “Hope” by Jennifer Gibson

Hope by [Gibson, Jennifer]Jessie is back for another young adult story about being true to yourself, overcoming obstacles and, as the title says, hope.
Jessie is partially deaf, but won’t let herself discouraged. Being partially deaf doesn’t stop her from going for her goals, be that sport, romance or even from passing on her skills and wisdom.
Within the series I enjoyed this book the most. While it covers more of the same issues of living with as a teenager with a disability and not being discouraged, Jessie has grown a lot more since the first book and she becomes a truly inspiring character in Hope.
There are some wonderful moments in this book, as Jessie and her friends learn valid lessons from her situation. There is much in the dialogue that I wanted to write down to memorise, as it encaptures great spirit so wonderfully. Moving.


Website >

Facebook Author page >

Twitter: @charmedchickJG

Amazon Author Page:

Brief Bio:SONY DSC

Jennifer is an award winning photographer, freelance Illustrator, graphic designer and published author.

Her photography & graphic design has been featured extensively in many media formats including CHEX TV, National Geographic, SNAP magazine and Watershed Magazine as well as various local tourism/promotional materials. Jennifer’s current line of work features professionally designed book covers for authors from around the world. 

Jennifer was selected as one of 12 winners for the prestigious 2010 Oticon Focus on People Award and the only Canadian to have won in this national competition (North America). She was nominated as an outstanding individual with a hearing loss and for the portrayal of a hearing impaired teen in her young adult novel entitled Sway. Her first book in the series just won Silver for Young Adult at the Literary Classics Book Awards! 

Interview with Jennifer:

How did you come to writing? 

I’ve been writing since I was a child.  I often wrote poetry and short stories which were published in school newsletters, newspaper and books.  Throughout school, I’ve had several teachers ask me if I had considered a career in writing.  Even though I enjoyed writing, it never occurred to me to go into that particular profession since I was more interested in sports and art.  While I was at Sheridan College studying illustration, my creative writing teacher pulled me aside one day and told me that I should change my studies to focus more on writing instead of art. To me, that was a huge surprise. After I graduated, I became more and more interested in writing stories and decided to go back to school and study creative writing. Even though it was a challenge, I persevered and kept going.  To this day, I’m glad I did that.

How did you come up with your stories?

I knew that when I wanted to write a book that it had to be unique. I wanted to produce a story that was deeply heartfelt and original, especially for young people with disabilities. It turned into a series about inspiring a sense of hope and rising above the challenges by staying strong and believing in yourself.

I incorporated scenes from many segments of my life that left a lasting impression on me from when I was a young child and throughout high school and college.  Even the most recent experiences went into my books. It was heartbreaking at times to write some of those scenes but I knew that it was necessary to show the world what it really is like to be hard of hearing in a social world. While I was writing these difficult moments, it made me realize what I’ve had to overcome and how much I have progressed since then. Going through those experiences really shaped the person who I am today. It was an incredible revelation to look back at my life and see those changes happening and truly discover who I really am on a deeply personal level.

You have created great characters. Which one is your favourite?

It’s so hard to choose! I personally love Jessie although my heart leans towards Ethan. He is my dream boyfriend and the ideal person that I want in my life – someone who embraces me and my hearing loss as a complete package. 

Who would you cast to play the characters in a movie?

Oh my! That’s a tough question.  For Ethan, most likely Sam Clafin who plays Finnick Odair in Catching Fire or Paul Wesley from The Vampire Diaries or perhaps Alex Pettyfer from I am Number Four.  Elle Fanning or Dakota Fanning are possible choices for Jessie.

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

I absolutely adore Jessie since she is so close to my heart.  She is literally a piece of me. Although she is a much better person in the books, she is more trusting, more open-minded and has such a beautiful soul.

Were the plot and subplots completely planned from the start or did they change during the process, and if so, how?

The first book in the series, Sway, set the tone for all of them. Since all three represent a sense of direction, a journey for Jessie, it helped me create individual arcs in the storyline for each book as well as one big, connecting arc to tie all three together.  When I was working on the second novel, Compass, it helped formulate the next step for the third book, Destiny. I pretty much knew how it would go for each book since they had specific situations happening to Jessie during that time period. For the most part, I knew that she would mature and grow as I wrote the series, in the final novel, she becomes a much stronger person and has a better idea where to go next.

What is your main reason for writing?

I absolutely love writing. There’s so much joy in coming up with unique ideas and being able to write it all down in a confident manner. To me, writing is very much like painting, you never know what the end result will be but the process will be an exhilarating one. It’s a very therapeutic process.

I‘ve only read one of the books so far. What is the idea behind your series?

When I wanted to write a book, I did some research to determine what was missing from the market and discovered that there were very few young adult books featuring teens with a disability, particularly hearing loss. To me, that was a wonderful niche for me to tap into and an incredible opportunity to do something truly unique.

What are the best and the worst aspects of writing?

The best aspect of writing is being able to come up with wonderful stories for me to share with the world. I simply love doing it. The worst is the reaction from the readers; some will rave about it and give positive feedback whereas others will react very strongly to it a negative tone that can be rather harsh.  Growing up with a disability like mine has, in some ways, made it very difficult for me to deal with negative criticism since I’ve already been through so much in life.  It’s not easy.

How do you balance marketing one book and writing the next? DestinyAwardweb

Ha! By getting up early in the morning and getting involved with the social media, reaching out to potential new readers. I do a lot of promo work through Twitter, Facebook and my website as well as advertising in numerous magazines and online sources for books.  I tend to do my best work in the afternoon and evening, even as late as midnight, and like to do my writing at that time.  However, when inspiration hits me, I will sit down and write it all out so that I don’t forget it – those are my favourite moments where some of my best stories come from. I’ve been doing a lot of short stories lately and really enjoying it.  It’s a nice break from writing full length novels. 

What do you do when you don’t write?

I’m also a freelance photographer, illustrator and book cover designer. Sometimes it can get extremely busy, other days it’s a nice balance.  I’m very fortunate that I enjoy doing that kind of work. I’ve been getting more requests to design covers for authors which is an honour and absolute thrill to do!

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

That I sometimes like to write in silence, I often do not wear my hearing aids when I’m working at home. I know it’s weird but it does take away a lot of distractions which allows me to focus on my work. Although there are times when I need more inspiration that I will put on my hearing aids and listen to music to lift my spirits.

When I’m not fencing or exercising, I like to watch a movie or tv show at night. I know it’s a bit boring but I like having the ability to turn off my brain for a little while.

What else would you like us to know about yourself and your books?

One of the most unique features in my books, aside from Jessie being hearing impaired, is that her cats are her guardians.  They reveal themselves as spirit guides, usually at night when she’s dreaming. I incorporated that into the books as a special way of giving Jessie hope when she needs it at her darkest moments.  Her cats are pretty much like mine, which is where their personalities came from.  One of them recently died and I am so glad that I included him in my books so that I can remember him fondly.

Who are your editors and how do you quality control your books?

Both of my parents get first crack at reading and editing my books since they offer unique viewpoints. Then I hand it off to my official editors at Black Opal Books where it goes through several more people. I have learned that process works well and helps me narrow the focus to what really matters and appeals to the readers. It was hard at first to accept the advice but as I became more experience I have found their insight to be rather valuable.

How have you found the experience of self-publishing? What were your highs and lows?

While I was writing my first book, Sway, I spent over a year trying to get a publisher in Canada. It was a daunting process that took away a lot of time that I could spend on writing stories. After doing some research, I decided to go ahead and self publish Sway at KOBO. It was not easy. As a beginner, there was so much to do and I really felt alone and extremely intimidated. However, when Sway hit the Top 50 bestseller list, I realized that I was onto something good. I went ahead and self published my second book Compass. Now that I was more experienced, I was much more confident of the overall process and was able to enjoy the ability to have control over everything. Shortly afterwards, Black Opal Books picked up my books.  I was immensely relieved to have someone take over the helm.  Having a publisher has certainly introduced my books to a much larger market in terms of more bookstores and worldwide access.  That’s exactly what I wanted, more options for my readers.

What do you like best about writing? What’s your least favourite thing? 

I love coming up with the ideas.  It’s an exhilarating experience and quite a rush when I sit down and start writing it all down onto paper. It’s hard to explain but I feel more complete when it’s done.  It’s a great feeling of accomplishment.  My least favourite thing is when I’m stuck or my creativity doesn’t seem to flow as well usual. I’ve found that if I try to force it that it can make worse. Sometimes I just have to walk away from that situation and go do something else such as going for a drive, doing errands, or some photography to get a fresh perspective.

What is your advice to new writers? SONY DSC

Always have a notepad nearby, inspiration can hit you at anytime. And that’s a good thing! That’s where those awesome ideas come from.  Just follow your heart, do what speaks to you the most.  I know it sounds corny but believe in yourself and your talent, it will all come together like pieces of a puzzle. It will make sense when everything is done.

Who are your favourite independent writers?

I would have to say the ones that I work and interact with the most.  I know so many of them! I need to give a nod of thanks to Kim Scott, Joss Landry, Christoph Fischer, Paul Rega, Van Heerling,  John Rose Putnam, Daniel Garcia, Lisa Calell, Steve LeBel, Wanda Hartzenberg and everyone who helps me promote my stories. I adore many of the authors from Black Opal Books who also pitch in with the marketing of my trilogy series including Nana Prah, Aneta Cruz, Tonya Royston, Melissa Groeling, Debbie Christiana, Carole Avila, Debbie Lee, Steven Rosenstein, B.K.Stevens, and many more. Thank you everyone for reviewing my books and being so supportive of me!

Who are your favourite authors?

One of my top favourite authors is J.K Rowling and her Harry Potter books, such an amazing imagination! I’ve always loved reading Janet Evanovitch’s hilarious tales, particularly the Stephanie Plum series. They are a fun and easy read. Somehow she’s always finds something to blow up or go wrong in her books. Jim Butcher appeals to my geek side and I’ve really enjoyed reading the Dresden Files.  One of my long time favourite authors is Elizabeth Peters and it was actually my mother who got me hooked onto those books. I’ve recently discovered Deborah Harkness, A Book of Life, which is a pretty cool story about witches.  I just stumbled onto Veronica Roth’s young adult series.

What is your favourite book?

As a child, my favourite novel was A Wrinkle In Time by Madelaine L’Engle, the tales that she wove were simply stupendous. Growing up, I also enjoyed the Bruno and Boots series by Gordon Kormon, those were simple a lot of fun to read.

What book are you currently reading and in what  format (ebook/paperback/hardcover)?

I just finished the hardcover version of Insurgent by Veronica Roth and would love to get a paperback of her novel, Allegiant.

What makes you laugh?

Definitely my cats! They do the silliest and sweetest things that make me smile! I also have to admit that these movies make me laugh: 17 Again, Miss Congeniality and Get Smart (Steve Carell version). Whenever I need a pick me up, I watch those!

What (not who) would you like to take to a lonely island?

Lighter, notepad and pen, books to read, dark chocolate, soft pillow and a knife.

Who would you like to invite for dinner?

John Edward, the medium or Nick Vujicic who has no arms or legs. Both are very interesting people!

Hot or cold?

I prefer the heat, it’s like a warm hug.

Salty or sweet?

Definitely sweet!

What would your friends say are your best and your oddest quality?

My best quality would be that I’m generous and honest. Although sometimes I can be too honest.  My oddest quality would be that I’m very creative in terms of my thought process, it’s hard to keep up with me or even figure how I got to that point. I tend to see the world in a different way than most people due to my hearing loss: I’ve learned to appreciate my surroundings in a more visual way since I use my eyes more than my ears. I love watching the play of light and shadows, the patterns it creates when it shifts and moves as well as the colours of nature.  Everything is much richer in detail because I’m seeing everything in an entirely different way. That is particularly evident in my books, I’m very descriptive visually.

What would you chose as those qualities?

My kindness, including my love for animals.

Tell us about your other books?

One of my short stories is being featured in a local Anthology which is coming soon.  Since I’ve written several fun short stories, I would love to publish them. I have had my eye on creating a science fiction book and currently writing down the ideas.

What song would you pick to go with your book?

Definitely Coldplay, my favourite band.

How do you handle criticism of your work?

It’s not easy, I take it personally since I’ve dealt with so much harsh criticisms growing up. I do try to keep it in mind that since my books are so unique, not everyone will appreciate them and that’s okay.  It’s all about finding the right book that suits you and your personality.  It’s like a holding a treasure in your hand when you discover one that sings to you. 


Blurb: Sway2014Sealsweb

The trilogy series was based on a true story featuring snapshots of the author’s life growing up with a severe hearing loss.  Many real life scenarios have been incorporated into the story to provide a rich and sometimes, gritty setting that can be shocking at times to read.  Aside from the moral lesson of dealing with a disability, it offers an amazing sense of appreciation of how much it takes to persevere through a difficult time in life.  

From the very beginning we watch Jessie as she tries to find her place in the community.  She does a lot of soul searching, trying to find ways to fit into a society that has trouble accepting her.  In Sway, we begin to see her change and make interesting decisions based on what happens to her.  Gradually, her path in life begins to shift and goes towards a new direction in Compass.  She becomes more aware of who she is as a young person. In the third book Destiny, it becomes a pivotal turning point that sets her on the right path where she becomes empowered and emerges a stronger person.  

Throughout the turmoil in her life, Jessie discovers that she has friends in the most unexpected places.  Together they guide her through some of the darkest moments she has to endure and they help her rise up and believe in herself once again.  

Synopsis for SWAY, Book 1:

Based on a true story, the novel “Sway” is about a hearing impaired teenager named Jessie who tries her best to blend in at school. Every day proves to be a test of her resolve when she is constantly plagued by the ruthless pranks of her classmates who are determined to make her life miserable. When a handsome stranger arrives in the nick of time, Jessie wonders if he is too good to be true. Is Ethan’s attention genuine, or will he betray her trust, too?

Synopsis for COMPASS, Book 2: CompassAwardsWeb

“Being a teenager is hard enough. To be hard of hearing on top of that is like being stuck in the middle of a never ending soap opera.”

In Compass, the sequel to Sway, Jessie’s life begins to change its course, sending her towards a new reality. When her world is ripped apart by an angry rival, the one person she trusted to stand by her side, simply walks away. With her composure shattered, Jessie questions everything she believed about herself, and as her life takes her on a new path, it becomes a perilous journey, full of surprising twists and turns.

Synopsis for DESTINY, Book 3: 

“Jessie’s journey began in Sway and Compass. As we continue to follow her in Destiny, she stumbles across a revelation that could change everything and finds herself standing on the precipice of life.”

Jessie is determined not to let her hearing loss hold her back. She aims her sights even higher as she ventures in a new direction. With a Black Belt on the horizon, and so close to achieving it, she is unaware of the danger closing in on her. Will she be strong enough to hold on or will she succumb to the darkness that surrounds her? DestinyAwardweb