Thursday, 25 June 2020

98. Short and Sweet

Hello, dear readers.

This will be short and sweet, just like the title. 

This week I’ll be joining the Heart and Craft Community Group Facebook page for a chat about Paranormal Romance, which will be fun. I'm looking forward to meeting one author in particular for the first time as we've been chatting for ages, but we've never properly met (almost) face to face. J

I’ve also registered for the 2020 Romance Writers of Australia Online Conference. It would have been wonderful to attend a live conference in Fremantle, Western Australia as originally planned. I looked forward to meeting more of the wonderful authors I’ve been chatting to online, but there will be other conferences and hopefully it will be back over my way again soon.

I also enjoyed a long lunch with my publisher. LOL Still pinching myself to type that. 

And I didn’t poison her with my cooking. Always a bonus. ;) We talked about books, covers and writing, and it was wonderful and inspiring. I hope I can share a sneaky peek of my cover with you soon. J

Book Reviews

Blue by Sue-Ellen Pashley


What would you do to protect your family?

17-year-old Penn just wants a real life. One where he's not forced to lie and steal for his abusive stepfather Gep. One where he and his twin brother, Jimmy, are free from Gep's dark magic.

When they move to yet another town to steal magical artefacts for Gep, Penn is hopeful that things might be different this time. Especially when he finds himself attracted to a girl in his class, Selti.

But when Jimmy starts to weaken, fading like their mum did before she died, Penn knows he'll do anything to save him. Even if that means betraying Selti... or giving in to his own powers.

A modern retelling of Pinocchio with an urban fantasy twist.

Penn’s desire to escape is never stronger than when Gep is punishing him. Only his stepfather’s favourite form of punishment is to torture his brother, Jimmy, so Penn will do what he wants. And what he wants is to acquire more power by any means necessary.

When he meets Selti, for the first time in his young life, he finds a reason to be happy again. She captures his heart and gives him a sense of hope, and he finds ways of being with her rather than fulfilling his stepfather’s wishes. Which only makes things worse for Jimmy, and Penn’s not ready to face the guilt or the truth of his actions.

This is one of the books I’ve had the privilege of beta reading. I loved this retelling of Pinocchio with its dark, modern twist. But most of all, I think this has one of the best ‘YA first kiss’ scenes I’ve ever read. I remembered that scene long after I finished the book and I doubt I’ll be the only one who feels that way. This story will appeal to YA lovers of all ages.

Life Above Zero by Lauren Kerr


What is Life Above Zero?

There is more to life than just surviving. There is thriving, flourishing and soaring. There is a life above zero and everyone deserves to live it.

This book equips you with the practical skills and mindset, backed with psychology, research and statistics to help you unlock the code to success in your life and beat the mental health epidemic. Lauren shares personable, relatable stories to prove you're not alone in your experiences and empowers you with universal assignments to up-level your own health, relationships, career and business. In this book you'll discover the psychology to be happy in our fast-paced, demanding world of quick fixes and results. (With some positive, warm and fuzzy vibes thrown in, sprinkled with some tough love!)

Are you ready to live a Life Above Zero?

Lauren holds a Bachelor of Psychology with Honours and is an International Accredited Life and Wellness Coach and Neurolinguistic Practitioner. After working in Child Protection, she started her own Life Coaching Practice, blog and podcast where she educates and empowers others how to live a "Life Above Zero". Coined in the positive psychology field, this term reminds people that happiness and health are more than the absence of unhappiness and disease.

This is a fascinating guide and resource on finding pathways to enjoy a positive outlook on life. By focusing on wants and needs, and looking back at previous choices, Ms Kerr encourages her reader to take ownership of their decisions, set intentions and work towards positive goals and ideals. She also encourages them to realise the things we treasure most in life are the ones we earn and work hard to achieve. She does this be relating personal experiences and encouraging her readers to be honest with what they want. To set realistic goals and be aware they need to do the work first to reap those rewards. Ms Kerr also asks the reader questions through ‘universal lessons’ along with guidelines and suggestions to follow. There’s also a questionnaire on her website to help the reader set goals in relation to her book. An interesting read. J


I’ve been working hard on editing, writing and beta reading. There are some wonderful books in the works. Once I’ve finished my current paranormal story, I’ll be writing another romantic suspense one. I have some online book launches to look forward to, and yes, I’ll be adding to the TBR pile. I can’t seem to help myself. And all going well in September, there will be another live book launch to attend.

Until next time, stay safe and well. J

Monday, 25 May 2020

97. Puppy Love

Hello, dear readers.

A few weeks ago, I was one of the proud hosts who attended the online book launch for Paw Prints of Love, which is the debut anthology from Gumnut Press. It was a fabulous event with loads of fun, games, frivolity and time outs... That’s because most of us ended up in Facebook Jail. It seems the bots thought we were spamming the event rather than participating in the group activities. (I regret nothing.)

It was wonderful to chat to the authors and learn a little more about the stories they’d contributed. And it was fabulous to see so many excited people chatting on the page about writing, all those gorgeous (and sometimes mischievous) pups, and of course, romance.

Book Reviews

Paw Prints of Love – A Gumnut Press Anthology


Love can call on us in the most unusual places. In this fictional seaside town of Stonecrest Bay, love is on the horizon and the one place you're sure to run into the unexpected is The Funny Bone, Dee Chambers' dog grooming salon.

A solo dad comes to Stonecrest Bay to start a new life with his young son. A four-legged pastry loving friend causes havoc in more ways than one. A house-sitter finds herself in a hair-raising chocolaty situation. A man bent on finding a replacement farm dog finds more than he planned at the town fair. A new resident arrives with hidden secrets. A woman gets more than she bargained for when she comes face to face with her ex. Business tycoon stops over, weary from the corporate world. And a pro surfer finds unexpected romance.

Readers will be swept up in these stories of--young love blossoming, heartache and healing, old lost loves rekindled, of new hearts connecting in Stonecrest Bay where the unpredicted could stroll around the next corner. There's a story for everyone in this light-hearted collection of romance stories that reminds us it's all for the love of dogs.

Enjoy this collection from ten different Australian authors. This set contains ten romances set in the fictional seaside town of Stonecrest Bay.

This fabulous collection is a must-read, more so if you love beautiful stories that include wonderful dogs and fills your heart with happiness. These ten stories will delight, captivate, entertain and wrench on those heartstrings the way all pup-related stories should. Every four-legged bundle brings with it the promise of a happily ever after and a melt-your-heart grin. Hearts reunited, second chance love, mature love, new love, chance meetings and starting over, it’s all here ready and waiting to be adored.

So, do you have a nose for a good story? Do you love when the story is so good, you have to paws for effect? What about that magical moment in the tail that leaves you panting, er, breathless? Yes? Well, what are you waiting fur? Follow the link and enjoy ten amazing stories from some of the best writers in Australia. You’ll be barking mad if you miss out! Loved it!

Cupcakes and Corpses (Book 3 of the Cupcake Capers) by Polly Holmes

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When it comes to design, death is in the details.

Cassidy McCorrson has worked hard to develop her reputation as a leading interior designer in her seaside town of Ashton Point. Since arriving home from visiting her parents in New York, her skills have been in high demand. Between juggling the design for her sister’s new cupcake shop and her private client, Cassidy barely has time to prepare for the upcoming Christmas celebrations.

Cassidy is excited at the prospect of delivering designs she can be proud of, but her world is turned upside down when the body of a local reporter is found murdered on location at her latest work site. What should have been a straightforward job turns out to be the worst decision of her life.

In order to clear her name and restore her reputation, Cassidy must find the real killer before she ends up redesigning the interior of a jail cell. Can she unearth the killer before time runs out?

When a dead body is found at the house she’s working on, designer Cassidy McCorrson never expected to be accused of murder. Yes, she had a public argument with the recently deceased, but she didn’t kill her. With the evidence mounting against her, her reputation at stake, and a detective determined to charge her no matter what, the last thing she needs is Finn Beckett on the scene.

Finn’s followed Cassidy from New York to straighten a few things out. To say he’s stunned when he learns the local police have accused her of murder is an understatement. Learning the McCorrson sisters have a knack for getting into trouble doesn’t help matter either, but he’s determined to help. If only Cassidy didn’t keep pushing him away.

Time’s running out, and any window of escape Cassidy may have is closing fast. The investigation’s progress is happening too easily. It’s clear someone’s framing her for murder, and the list of suspects is shrinking fast.

It’s so easy to slip into the world of Ashton Point. One almost feels like they’re part of the family, even if that family attracts trouble like honey attracts bees. With Cassidy being the baby of the family, I loved reading how the family dynamics played out in the different books of the series. As usual, red herrings abound in Cassidy’s book, and the twist was fabulous and explained an element common in all the books. Another fun read. :)

Mistletoe and Murder (Book 4 of the Cupcake Capers Mysteries) by Polly Holmes

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Mistletoe magic or the kiss of death?

Alexandra Cohen is determined to show her boss she has what it takes to be manager of The Springs Café on the outskirts of Ashton Point. She’s smart and with the addition of CC’s Simply Cupcakes, sales have sky-rocketed. The town is in full holiday spirit and with the Christmas Fair fast approaching, Alex has to work twice as hard to keep her interfering ex-boyfriend, out of the picture before he destroys her life forever.

After reluctantly agreeing to run the kissing booth at the fair, Alex has to deal with a continuous line of male customers, as well as an ex who has ignored her requests to leave her alone. But the day is really tarnished when Alex stumbles across a body on the ground of her kissing booth dressed as Santa.

The evidence is gathering against her and Alex must decide if she should let the police do their job and pray they do it well or if she should take matters into her own hands. With the help of the McCorrson sisters, Alex must investigate so she doesn’t become the town scapegoat and forced to spend Christmas behind bars.

Life seems finally to be heading in the right direction for Alexandra Cohen. She’s in line for a promotion, her career’s on track and she’s found a place to live. All she needs now is for her ex-boyfriend to leave her alone and maybe attract the attention of the handsome new police officer who’s now working in Ashton Point. Only that attention comes in the form of performing his duty when she discovers a dead body in her stand at the Christmas fair. And all the evidence points directly at her.

Well versed on the capabilities of the local police force, the McCorrson sisters, especially Alexandra’s best friend, Clair, share their tips for handling things. But with tensions mounting and trouble brewing, Alexandra’s not sure she can follow their advice.

Loved this latest book, especially the addition of a rather delicious sounding police officer. I enjoyed the interactions between Alexandra and the sisters and the way they backed each other. A wonderful read. :)

Archie Bidet and the International Incident by Tracy Farquhar

Archie Bidet and The International Incident by [Tracy Farquhar] 

It is nineteen fifty-two. The human race is still reeling from a crippling second world war. With wounds barely healed and a festering mistrust eating away at each nation, many still find themselves engaged in conflict. On a more personal level, the same can be said for ten-year-old Archie Bidet: go to school; get bullied; shake hands; repeat. Then, on one very ordinary Wednesday afternoon, Archie is propelled from his mundane, insignificant existence and deposited in Middle Diddling and into the wealthy embrace of his aged aunt and uncle.

Archie finds himself entrusted with a secret: Uncle’s old school friend, Professor Schmidt, has created a formula with the potential to not only feed the world, but unite it in peace - if everything goes to plan that is. But life rarely goes to plan.

A clandestine meeting is arranged and specially selected ministerial personnel are invited from multiple countries. With the professor poisoned, the formula stolen, and envoys dropping like flies, Archie is racing against the clock to catch the culprit and prevent an international incident.

Archie’s world changes one ordinary afternoon, and he finds himself in an extraordinary situation. Traits he didn’t realise he possessed, along with his keen observation skills, soon become the most important things in his young life. For something is very wrong in Middle Diddling, something that could affect a world still reeling from a terrible war. And all that stands between peace and certain disaster is a lonely boy entrusted with a secret and the determination to do what’s right.

Set after the Second World War, this story has a timeless charm that will appeal to children of all ages. Unlike his bullying schoolmates, readers will find Archie to be a likeable and interesting boy with a quiet sense of adventure and a keen mind. There’s no violence or gruesome scenes, but learning how Archie follows the clues and draws his conclusions is a delight to read. The author easily draws the reader into a time capsule of Britain in the fifties well before mobile phones and computers existed, yet the mystery and simplicity blend perfectly to appeal to the modern-day reader. This book is comedic, heartfelt and holds the reader to the very end. I found it easy to imagine Archie growing up to be one of MI5’s finest spies, and I think the reader will too.

Note # The author is releasing her book on the 27th of May and it will be free for the first few days.

After Goodbye by Teena Raffa


She can choose to stay mired in yesterday's regrets - or do what she can to create a brighter tomorrow for them all.

It's the 1980s but feminism has passed Stella by and her sole focus is being the best wife and mother she can be. Her husband Daniel's shock announcement that their marriage is over casts her adrift.

Stella has to rethink everything she believed about herself and their life. The future she imagined of growing old together is not to be and she has no idea what will replace it.

Meeting a stranger at the seashore where she goes to seek solace takes her in an unexpected direction. Free spirit Chris introduces her to a different perspective on life - and the possibility their friendship can become something deeper.

As Stella's life opens up, Daniel's choice doesn't deliver the freedom he expected.

Will she find it in her heart to offer compassion and support to the father of her children? She can choose to stay mired in yesterday's regrets - or do what she can to create a brighter tomorrow for them all.

Shell-shocked when her husband calmly announces over breakfast that he wants a divorce, Stella’s perfect world (or so she thought) comes crashing down around her. Weren’t they supposed to grow old together? Isn’t that what they promised each other when they said their vows? Now she doesn’t know what to do or what to think, and as time passes, Stella realises she’s missed the signs not only in her marriage, but from life itself. Only then does Stella understand what she must do to take back control and find happiness.

From the first page the reader knows the shock and heartbreak of a bitter breakup that comes from out of the blue. They’ll follow a gauntlet of emotions as Stella comes to terms with an impending divorce, a scary future and the surprising realisation she’s completely lost her way. Desperation, denial, anger, grief and acceptance each have their turn as Stella rediscovers who she is and her place in a world of feminism where she never quite existed. Interspersed throughout Stella’s story are her husband’s, Daniel, realisations as he comes to terms with his decision to leave his wife and children.

This book shows the power of believing in oneself, the gift of amazing friendship and a snapshot of lives travelling into divorce and coming out the other side. I began this book with the certainty of how I’d feel about particular characters, but by the end, I felt something completely different. More so as situations became revealed throughout the book.

I loved the friendship between Stella and her best friend, Annie, and the fierce passion for life Stella reclaimed. The author captured every stage of emotion Stella experienced perfectly. Fabulous story. I loved it.

Inca Warrior by Ally Kelly


Ally Kelly is a unique blend of Irish and Peruvian descent. Depression has affected the women in her family for many generations. Her personal experience with mental health struggles and family experience with suicidal behaviour has fuelled her passion for mental health awareness.

“My first memory of mental health in the family was from the age of six when I became a carer for my mother who has been suicidal several times in her life. Statistics show that because of my history, I am at higher risk of suicide and ongoing mental health issues. I refuse to accept this. I am living proof that as individuals, we can change this reality.”

At twenty-two, Ally channelled her energy into creating Mind Blank, a health promotion charity which aims to reduce the risk of suicide through interactive theatre. For the past eight years, her unique charity and its award-winning programs have directly impacted over 30,000 young Australians.

In her book, “Inca Warrior a Journey to Awaking the Inner Voice,” Ally will lead you on a spiritual undertaking. She shares intimate moments in her life story that turned her into the leader she is today. It will inspire community action and active self-reflection.
This autobiography is a three-part series regarding Ally Kelly's experiences living with mental health issues in the family. It is a heartfelt, tenacious journey. You will laugh, you will cry, and you will empathise for all the characters in her quirky diary pages. Her life purpose supports personal growth and encourages all who read this book to invest in personal development to help become the best versions of themselves.

A must read for anyone who needs a reminder of hope and tenacity to continue to move forward with life’s adventures.

Inca Warrior is one woman’s story of growing up in a household where mental health issues and thoughts of suicide were a regular and heartbreaking concern. Through her eyes, we learn of Ally’s childhood; her experiences at a young age where her mother was often on suicide watch, and her own battles and issues with mental health. Culture and past experiences play an enormous part in facing life decisions. Sometimes they can overwhelm, especially when there’s no one around who understands and can give the help one so desperately needs.

Because of these experiences, Ally undertook varied studies to become the founder of an amazing organisation called Mind Blank. This is an Australian Mental Health charity which aims to reduce the risk of suicide through interactive performances in schools and communities.

The best teachers and advocates are sometimes those who’ve experienced dealing with tough issues firsthand and have found a way to help and heal themselves so they may do the same for others. Ally Kelly is one such person.


This month I pretended to make a dint in the reading pile. I also had a birthday and bought more books. Logical, right? LOL

I’ve been blessed to beta read some more books and learned some amazing things. For one book, I’ve also lived it, so I read the manuscript with complete understanding of what the author shared.

The novella is slowly coming along, and I’ve completed another round of edits for my story. I’ve also been chatting with my editor about the book cover, and I am SO EXCITED! My goodness, it’s a long time to December. LOL

Until next month, love, laugh, and read more awesome books. :)

Saturday, 25 April 2020

96. Pumpkinitis

Hello, dear readers.

First, I want to acknowledge our amazing ANZACS past, present and future. For those who served, those who waited at home, for the animals, and for everything that encompasses what it means to be an ANZAC. This year we stood at the end of the driveway, burned candles, listened to The Last Post on ABC radio, observed a minute’s silence and we remembered them. 

Lest We Forget!

I hope you’ve marked your calendars for April 29th release of my publisher’s inaugural anthology, Paw Prints of Love. Because we can’t have a live launch, we’re celebrating via Facebook instead. Please join my fellow Gumnut Press authors and I on launching this beautiful book. There’ll be fun, great prizes and perhaps you’ll win a copy of this amazing book.

The cover reveal.
Paw Prints of Love eBook: P.L. Harris, Lisa Knight, Teena Raffa ... 

And you can order your copies here.

Hope to see you there.

Ah, the blog title. You’ll be wanting an explanation for that. Well, now I’ll reveal the depths of my insanity, the fact my glasses prescription needs updating and why I shouldn’t order groceries online.

Because of the current situation, and having health-compromised people in the house, I’ve been grocery shopping online. We haven’t eaten pumpkin for a while, so I ordered some. At least, I thought I did. Turns out I clicked the wrong section, and instead of ordering a piece, I ordered a whole pumpkin. I’m talking Cinderella-and-her-stepsisters-could-have-partied-inside-it size. (I’m a storyteller. I’m allowed to make ‘slight’ exaggerations.)

What to do with the orange behemoth? I tested my limited culinary skills and got baking once my other half cut it into manageable pieces... I promise, no MasterChef Australia contestant in the making here. So far, we’ve had roasted pumpkin soup with dumplings, pumpkin gnocchi in a burnt butter, chive and garlic sauce, pumpkin scones, and a spiced chocolate and pumpkin cake. I still have a piece of pumpkin in the fridge (the size I originally intended to buy).


I'd bore you with more pumpkin-related baking but they were eaten before I could get a photo.

Frankly, I’m afraid to look too closely at my family in case they’ve sprouted vines or our skins have gained a yellowish tinge. And rest assured, I did not tick pumpkin on the shopping list this week. However, I’m putting the call out to all the amazing cooks. Once you’ve finished shaking your heads in disbelief, (or laughter) I need more recipes please. I have at least five cups’ worth of mashed pumpkin to go.

Book Reviews

Shifting Me Softly by Rachelle Millar

 Shifting Me Softly

I did not have to call into question how I lived my life until it I had to defend it in court.

Two years ago, I won a legal case of relocating with my boys to Te Arai, freeing us from the restrictions my ex placed on us. The legal battle lasted five years, but the real fight began with the birth of my oldest son fourteen years ago.

My vision remained the same. I’ve always lived my life on a trajectory of positivity and promise. Living in Te Arai/our dream home and Turangawaewae put my life on track for the first time in years. (In te reo Maori, our spiritual place, literally translated, where our two feet stand.)

Shifting ME Softly describes some restrictions I faced through life. I fought illness at sixteen and was immobile for eighteen months after a snowboarding accident in my thirties. My biggest battle came from facing the legal system over parental arrangements for six years at forty. These hurdles, along with my degrees, gave me the experience and determination to support others.

The message is clear. Do not let your current circumstances be your destiny. Restrictions can be a blessing. Stop and take stock of those blessings. How do these obstacles strengthen us?

Using the philosophies of Psychosynthesis and Theta Healing and Leadership theories of Positive Psychology and Emotional Intelligence, Rachelle takes you on a journey of her life and learnings pivotal in transforming her health, wealth, and happiness.

She entrusts you with her story, hoping it strengthens you, taking you forward.

In her debut book, Life and Business Advisor, Rachelle Millar invites the reader to take an intimate glimpse at her life. In doing so, the reader will understand the highs and lows Ms Millar experienced, which have made her the compassionate counsellor and leadership coach she is today.

From pivotal moments of her childhood to pure joy at becoming a mother, down to the depths of despair from a bitter divorce and a lengthy custody battle, this is a book of quiet dignity. Here the reader will find stories of revelation and tragedy, heartbreak and self-respect, courage and the determination to succeed.

Readers living through similar experiences will find a connection to Ms Millar and her book, a quiet but firm advocate, and someone who relates to the battles they face. Equally, readers will learn the power of believing in themselves and find the strength to move forward.

In the Dark of Night – A CreativeINK Anthology – various

Anything can happen in the dark of night...

From contemporary Romance to Science Fiction, Horror to Fantasy, this thrilling collection of stories offers something for every book lover who enjoys reading young adult and over.

Each of these eight stories, written by local Gladstone writers, will take you on a new and exciting adventure In the Dark of Night.

This wonderful collection does more than display the talent that abounds in the area where I grew up. It also shares snippets from upcoming releases, an invitation to enjoy full-length works by some of the authors, and an introduction to new authors.

The suggestion of an alien invasion, a brave knight of old, time amongst the stars, worlds yet to be discovered, a battle of conscience, young love, it’s all here. For one particular story, if you’re reading in bed, let’s just say make sure none of your limbs are hanging over the edge...

This is a wonderful debut collection by CreativeInk and I look forward to their next release. :)

Butterface (Book 1 of the Hartigans) by Avery Flynn

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It’s true. I’m not what most people would call “pretty” and, well, high school was rough. Fast forward ten years and life is good…

Until a bunch of jerks think it’s hilarious to put the “butterface” (AKA me) on a wedding Kiss Cam with the hottest guy ever—and that old humiliation hits hard.

I recognize him immediately. The sexiest cop in Waterbury and totally out of my league.

But then he kisses me. And we totally forget the room, the crowd, everything.

Then he tells everyone we’ve been dating for months.

Soon everything starts to feel too real, from adorable fights over “necessary” tools to fix my broken porch to surviving a free-for-all dinner with his six siblings to picking up where our last kiss left off.

But there’s something he’s not telling me about why he’s really hanging around, and I’m pretty sure it has to do with my mob-connected brothers.

Because this is not a make-over story, and Cinderella is only a fairy tale… (less)

Gina Luca, wedding planner, is certain love will never find her, so she spends her days making sure other people get their happily ever after. Then drop-dead gorgeous Ford Hartigan enters her life, and she dares to dream of something more. Ridiculous, of course. One, she believes she’s as ugly as he is handsome, and two, Ford is a police officer and Gina’s from a mob family.

When Ford took an undercover job to get close to Gina so he could spy on her over-protective criminal brothers, he thought he could keep work and pleasure separate. Pity his hormones have other ideas. Pressures from work and his family make things difficult and Gina’s no fool either. How can he do his job and follow his heart?

I loved the banter between the main characters, and their sensual scenes sizzled. Gina’s over-protective brothers and Ford’s family were a great addition to the story. This was a fun read. :)

Magnificent Mistakes and Fantastic Failures by Josh Langley (review by my youngest)


Back with his trademark quirky style that's adored by both kids and parents, Langley tackles the serious subject of building resilience in today's children by showing that mistakes and failures can be opportunities for learning and growth.

Good friends, positive self-talk, curiosity and wonder also become a perfect mix to give children a confident perspective on life and the foundations to step bravely into the world and try new things.

With mental health dominating headlines and front of mind of all parents, Langley's new book offers hope and strategies for kids to find their own inner resilience and to thrive in a rapidly changing world.

I really enjoyed this book and I think it helped me realise a few ups and downs that I’ve done or been through. Reading this book made me feel happier. Some parts really made me laugh like the question ‘What are you good at?’ My reaction was ‘singing is a yes, climbing trees I dunno, eating spaghetti? Of course! It’s one of the best foods in the world!’ I laughed at the spaghetti bit. I found it funny.

Another part was ‘What do you like doing?’ and I laughed at the hugging the cat bit. I like the drawings with all the sentences. They made my day brighter. I never knew about the stars until I read it in your book. It shows the more you learn and the more you experience, the more you’ll understand the world.


Despite the pumpkin wrangling, it’s been a quiet month. I’ve enjoyed beta reading a few books and working on my stories. Happy to share my release has moved from September to December, so I’m looking forward to a summer launch. Home schooling has started again and let’s just say I’m glad Dad is around to take care of the math.

Until next time, may your words flow and your dreams be sweet. :)

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

95. It's a Lockdown Life.

Hello, dear readers.

Despite the title, and having to share my workspace, it's been business as usual here. 

I’m not chatting about the current situation. There’s been enough said already. All I wish is for you and your loved ones is to stay safe and well. If they close the schools here, I’ll be putting my teacher hat on. That could be interesting. But otherwise, I’ll be writing, editing and reading as usual. Where social distancing is concerned, I’m in my element.

There was time for one last workshop (and a quick catch up with a friend) before things closed down. Monique Mulligan’s “Breaking Up is Hard to Do – After ‘The End’” was a fascinating guide on writer expectations once you’ve written those final words. If you thought that book was done and dusted, you’d be dead wrong. It’s far from ready to hit the shelves.

But first, writing ‘The End’ is something to celebrate. Writing (and finishing) a book is a huge achievement. You deserve to be proud of yourselves. You’re awesome. Give yourself some time to enjoy your moment. Because after that, the real work begins...

Ms Mulligan shared a personal writing story before she continued with her workshop and it was plain to see how much hard work, time and emotion is poured into every writer’s creations. We learned the right questions to ask ourselves about our stories and our characters, and to take notes of any mistakes, but not to edit until we’ve done a read through first. She advised us to write the best book we possibly can, to make sure it goes through the proper stages of editing, and to do our research. One of my favourite takeaways from the day was this: Write a book readers will remember. :)

It's always a pleasure to listen to Ms Mulligan’s talks. If you’d like to learn more about Monique, her workshops and her books, her website link is below. :)

For something fun, I also organised a Flash Fiction event on the Aspiring eLoop. We had a prompt. ‘Caspian Steele, librarian, is locking up at night when he hears a strange noise.’ And we needed to include three keys words, (chocolate, danger and moonlight) somewhere in the story. We also had a limit of five hundred words. Wow! The amazing tales that came out of that event were fabulous. We had ghost stories, spies, young librarians, more mature gentlemen, demon hunters, sweet romances and sensual stories that ended much too soon. Damn me for setting a word limit. LOL It was something to cheer everyone up, and we certainly made each other smile. I think that’s one event we’ll play on repeat. :)

Book Reviews

Adoring Enemies (Love Under Fire Series - Book 6) by Carolyn Wren


Lucien St John has been working deep undercover for two years, trying to bring charismatic oligarch Karl Cheknov to justice. An opportunity finally presents itself as an invitation to one of Karl's famous week long house parties. The problem is, Lucien must bring his bride to be...a fictional bride to be created purely for his cover.

Former operative, Jade Walker, is pulled into active duty to fill the role, reluctantly. She knows the mission has become Lucien's obsession, changing the man she once knew.

The agents discover they are under constant surveillance, meaning their passionate performance must be equally convincing, both in and out of the bedroom.

As the full extent of Karl's crimes becomes clear, the mission turns deadly. Lucien and Jade must put aside their differences and work together. Knowing one wrong move, or word, could be their last.

Lucien St John’s so far removed from the man she once knew. But when duty calls, Jade answers. Time undercover changes everyone. She should know. It sure changed her. Problem is, Lucien’s never understood why she relieved herself from active duty. Now that they’re forced to work together, she has no choice but to put that resentment aside and convince a madman he’s the love of her life.

Jade Walker skipped out on her duties as far as Lucien’s concerned, but he’s desperate, and there’s no other agent available. He needs to close this case, and he expects Jade to comply to his every command as her lead officer. Their lives and his sanity depend on it.

When they learn how far they need to take their acting skills; the line soon becomes blurred as to what’s real and what’s on show for their enigmatic host. When Cheknov shows more than a friendly interest in Jade, both agents know they need to play on it. After all, it’s their job. But if this is just a mission, why the hell does Lucien feel physically sick whenever the man comes anywhere near Jade? And if this is all an act, why do the glimpses of the old Lucien twist Jade up inside. Either way, their newfound awareness of each other’s bound to get them killed.

For something fun, I also organised a Flash Fiction event on the Aspiring eLoop. Our prompt was, ‘Caspian Steele, librarian, is locking up at night when he hears a strange noise.’ We needed to include three keys words, (chocolate, danger and moonlight) somewhere in the story. Our limit was five hundred words. Wow! The amazing stories that came out of that event were fabulous. We had ghost stories, spies, young librarians, more mature gentlemen, demon hunters, sweet romances and sensual stories that ended much too soon. Damn me for setting a word limit. LOL It was something to cheer everyone up, and we certainly made each other smile. I think that’s one event we’ll have again. :)

Sinner (The Deadly Seven Series - Book 0.5) by Lana Pecherczyk

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The selfie generation grew up.

And with them, the sin of greed exploded on an astronomical scale. Of course, where one went, the rest were sure to follow. Wrath, sloth, gluttony, pride, envy, lust… all climbed in severity until deadly sin consumed Cardinal City. Violence, murder, and mayhem were only the beginning. To save their city, top scientists created a band of brothers and sisters as deadly as the sins they were destined to fight. But before they were waging a war on crime, they were children born in a lab with no one to look out for them… except a deadly assassin pretending to be a nun and a tortured man running from his past.

Biolum Industries think Sister Mary Margaret is an innocent nun caring for children in their lab, but she has a dark secret: one that could destroy the world or save it.

Flint Fydler wants the simple things in life, to do his job and to pay off his shameful debt. But no matter how hard he tries to ignore the secret project behind a guarded door at Biolum Industries, and the beautiful and fearless nun who works there, he can’t avoid the inevitable fact he is being lied to.

When Flint’s mission to reveal the truth uncovers more than he bargains for, Mary bribes him to help with her rescue mission. As their quest draws them closer together, Mary has no choice but to reveal her own deadly secret, and Flint must face the undeniable truth: paying his debt may have nothing to do with money, and everything to do with his heart.

If you're obsessed with superhero movies, but want more romance, then The Deadly Seven is for you. Featuring fated mates and a band of brothers and sisters, tortured alpha heroes, kick-ass heroines, vigilante justice and a steamy romance in each book. It's The Black-Dagger Brotherhood meets Batman.

Flint Fydler is a hardworking, rule-following scientist with an I’m-going-straight-to-hell crush on Sister Mary Margaret, a nun who’s working on a secret project in his employer’s building. Their innocent flirting is driving him crazy. The only thing crazier, he’s sure she’s involved with something dangerous, but what trouble could an innocent nun possibly cause?

Sister Mary Margaret has trained most of her life for this rescue mission, guided by a secret she reveals only to people she trusts, and there’s few who can claim that honour. When that secret reveals a last-minute change of plans, she must push aside her feelings and concentrate on her task. If she doesn’t, the world as she knows it could plunge into a level of hell the likes of which humanity may never recover.

Trusting her instincts and her heart, Mary reveals the truth, and thankfully, Flint appears to take that revelation in his stride. There’s no time to be certain because the children are in danger and it’s going to take them working together to make it out alive.

This prequel is a brilliant introduction to the series. Immediately you get a glimpse of the disaster to come. Mix in a kick arse heroine and a strong, sexy man who lets her lead but knows how to be there for her when she needs him, high action, sacrifice and mystery, and you know you have to read more. The bonus, you also get an excerpt of the first book in the series—Envy. I can’t wait to read them. :)

Simple Truths (Lost and Found – Book 1) by Michelle Dalton

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Having worked in Doctors without Borders, Rochelle Le Roux has seen the best and the worst of humankind and now she just wants to live a quiet life in South Africa. But when her path crosses that of the only man she’s ever loved she is forced to consider that maybe fate has brought her back for a reason.

South Africa is a country in strife. But corrupt governments are only one of the many problems plaguing this dynamic rainbow nation. A ring of human traffickers is stealing children and smuggling them into North Africa. The ringleader, a prominent figure in the local Cape Malay community, is a man with everything to lose and even more to gain.

Lieutenant Thomas Campbell has dedicated his life to protecting his country and serving the South African Navy. But he will never forget that stolen kiss beneath the stars and a heartbroken beauty which has haunted his life for sixteen years.

But in a country fraught with danger, adversity, and cultural differences, can Thomas and Rochelle cross the divides and overcome the simple truths to find their forever love?

Her world changed at just sixteen where she found and lost love in one night, her heart forever captured by another’s. But life is hard, and broken-hearted Rochelle Le Roux has no choice but to harden with it. She’ll never let a man close again. Instead, she’ll bury her heartache in her work and hide in the peaceful town of her childhood. When she discovers a child in Emergency who’s beaten, starved and possibly kidnapped, that dream of peace is shattered.

Thomas Campbell never forgot the beautiful girl he kissed that magical night all those years ago, but their love was forbidden and his family made sure they stayed apart. Instead, he threw his pain and misery into becoming one of South Africa’s finest naval officers. It’s a dubious honour when he uncovers what appears to be a human trafficking ring operating off the South African coastline. When he discovers Rochelle has finally returned home, it couldn’t come at a worse time. Now he’s torn between begging her forgiveness, and for her own safety, keeping her in the dark.

That proves to be an impossible task when the past is intent on making itself known in the present. Neither Rochelle nor Thomas realise how important it is to face their history if there’s ever a chance of having a future together.

This and the following book are two stories I’d the privilege of beta reading, and it’s so wonderful I can finally talk about them. I’ve never been to South Africa, but Ms Dalton has a way of making you feel you are right there in the country, seeing through her characters’ eyes and experiencing their stories. Rochelle’s and Thomas’s tale of love lost and found is a beautiful, emotional, and fascinating story fraught with danger and intrigue. A fabulous read. :)

Forget Me Not (Lost and Found – Book 2) by Michelle Dalton

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Will her heart remember when her mind cannot?

A terrorist bombing has robbed Isabella Irish of her memory. Forced to create a new life for herself as an artist living by the beach in Queensland, Australia; she even has a devoted fiancé, Mark Cornwall. But does he know more about her past than he lets on? What is the secret he’s been keeping from her? Then a bouquet of Forget Me Nots are left at her front door and Issi begins to experience a strong sense of DeJa’Vu.

Her life is up ended when she is confronted by a handsome stranger with proof of who she used to be.
Is the stranger telling the truth? Is Mark really who he has claimed to be?

With her life in danger and her mind frantically grappling for any memory of her past, will Issi find her true self and the people she left behind? Or will she be forced to succumb to a life of darkness and terror.

A terrible event may have stolen precious memories, but it hadn’t taken her artistic talents. It made no sense to Isabella that she could remember that, but nothing from her past. Mark’s been patient with her, nurturing her artistic talent and pushing her out into the world again, but she can’t help feeling something is wrong.

When someone leaves flowers at her door, the scent hits her like a ton of bricks. Her doctor warned her any memory triggers would assault her senses, but nothing prepared her for the fragments of the past the floral notes evoke. To calm her nerves, she heads for her favourite café. It’s there she spots a man whose presence finishes what the flowers began, and suddenly she’s spiralling out of control.

Later, he introduces himself and hints he can help her reclaim her scattered memories. But in a time of such uncertainty and the growing feeling she’s being followed, Issy, as the man calls her, doesn’t know who she can trust. With snippets of memory bombarding her as they gain momentum, the truth may be more dangerous than Issy realised. Perhaps some things are best forgotten.

Such a roller-coaster of emotions in this story. I can’t imagine what it would feel like to have my memories stolen away, but the pain of Issy’s experience will cut deep. As she struggles to retain a sense of reality, the reader feels the worry and the uncertainty she faces. The story’s many twists and turns as Issy fights to maintain a tenuous hold on her present produces a character whose tenacity and determination to set herself free from her mind’s prison makes for a fascinating read.


With many events cancelled, it’s still wait and see for a few more events later in the year. Things will play out as they’re meant to, I’m sure. This means a likely postponement of my book launch, but that’s all right. More important things are happening in the world now. I’ll share my book soon enough. :) Meanwhile, there’s always another story to write, edit, and write again. LOL

Until next time, stay safe and well, and escape into books. :)