Sunday, 25 July 2021

109. Sweet Delights

Hello, dear readers.

Another busy month has flown by, and I haven’t left the office much apart from eating and sleeping. The one exception, apart from getting food, has been the wonderful book launch for our anthology, Gumnut Press’s Sweet Delights.

It was a wonderful day with a fabulous turnout. We’re not currently in lockdown, which was the case for the original launch date, so it was lovely to see so many smiling faces. And so much food! I think we had enough ‘sweet delights’ to open a bakery stall.

While it was a shame not all the authors could join us on the day, it was lovely to meet those who could make it. We spent a little time chatting before we were whisked out the front to chat about our stories and asked a few questions about our writing. I was as articulate as usual. LOL But it was fun to read out an excerpt of my story and to hear the other authors share a sneaky peek from theirs, too.

Huge thanks to Gumnut Press, PL Harris, Carolyn de Ridder, and Jenny Lynch for all their hard work behind the scenes in creating a wonderful launch. And thanks to everyone who helped set up, set out, and clean up again afterwards. So appreciated.

Here's some pictures of the day. :)

Photo credits: PL Harris & Jenny Lynch









Sweet Delights | Universal Book Links Help You Find Books at Your Favourite Store! (books2read.com)


https://www.amazon.com/dp/B093FRQV42

https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B093FRQV42

https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B093FRQV42

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B093FRQV42


Book Reviews

A lovely author friend has a new book out soon. I loved her first two books, and I’m keen for more. :)


The Kingmaker's Banshee by T S Petersen

THERE’S NO ESCAPING FATE…

Virologist Ellie Arnam knows better than most what it is to live a cursed life. Her lifelong battle with the banshee lurking beneath her human skin becomes harder to win with every sunrise. A decades-old curse bestowed on the women of her family and known by only a few looms over the horizon. Love has no room in a heart that will stop beating any day now.

SHE CAN BRING YOU TOGETHER…

Tristan Cathbad, the Kingmaker, and millennium-old vampire devotes his knowledge and life to serving at the side of his best friend and future King. The hope of finding his mate is a dream he keeps locked within the depths of his soul. For now, he protects those he cares for with a ferocity equal to that of the gods. Knowledge is power, and only he will wield power to bring him to his knees.

OR TEAR YOU APART…

Tristan’s patience is one of his most vital attributes, yet he finds it pushed to the limit by the fun and bubbly Ellie and her unwillingness to acknowledge the truth. She is his mate, the one sent by the gods to soothe his beast.

Ellie knows falling for Tristan will only end in heartache—yet she can’t resist the disciplined warrior vampire. Her soul aches for him, despite her impending doom.

Can Ellie hold on to her soul and the man her heart belongs to, or will she be forced to part with both?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


I’ve had a passion for storytelling since my teenage years in South Africa. I now call Far North Queensland home. My first book, Moribund, is the product of one of my many nightmares. Evanee Shepard's tale is one I felt I had to share with readers; thus, began my journey into the world of writing. I love communicating with readers and authors alike, and love nothing more than to hear about how a reader has connected with the book they’ve read. 


The Librarian’s Curse by P L Harris


Could the drive to solve a century old mystery lead to an untimely death?

Little Creek Librarian, LILY KEEGAN, discovers a dragon-shaped, jewelled pendant with a ruby centre hidden in a 12th century book. Against Head librarian, Carmen's advice, she wears the pendant which could prove to be the biggest mistake of her life when it sets in motion a string of life-threatening near misses. Fireman and Thor look alike, BRAYDEN FLETCHER makes split-second decisions every day of his life. Struggling to recover from a traumatic event; a death in a house fire he couldn't prevent, Brayden seeks solace with his mother's dear friend, Carmen on the other side of the country. As far away from his mistakes as possible.

Believing the pendant is the century old Cursed Dragon, Lily's every effort to avoid disaster is failing. When her best friend is kidnapped and held at ransom for the ruby, Brayden is the only one she can trust. Using Lily's historical knowledge to their advantage, Lily and Brayden must race against time to expose the truth and prevent a tragedy.

Mystery, romance, and intrigue abound in this latest offering from PL Harris. The cursed pendant’s discovery leads Lily and Brayden on a harrowing adventure to save a mutual friend, themselves, and maybe break a curse and find a little love in the process. Right now I am torn between wanting to see what else is in that library and exploring Carmen’s house. Fabulous story from start to finish.

http://www.plharris.com.au/


Just Write – An easy guide to writing stories by Teena Raffa-Mulligan


Writing stories is like having an adventure. Your imagination can take you anywhere.

Yet not every kid finds story writing easy. Sometimes getting started can feel too hard. Making it to The End can look impossible.

Just Write can help to kick-start the process for kids who are stuck at the start. Find out how to come up with ideas, create interesting characters, paint word pictures and more in this easy-to-follow guide full of activities and helpful examples.

Presented in a friendly, conversational style by a multi-published children's author, it offers a simple process for children to turn their thinking from 'I can't write stories' into 'I can be a writer.'

Do you have a child who’s interested in writing? Or who’s keen to learn? If so, this is a wonderful introduction and guide to storytelling. Reading this book is like having the author by your side, guiding you through the beginning steps of learning to write your own stories and letting the magic of your imagination run free. Her story ideas and suggestions will help spark the stories hidden within. There’s plenty of activities and prompts to try, too.

Ms Raffa-Mulligan’s gift for sharing stories with children shines through in her examples and advice and would be a wonderful addition to any school library.

https://www.teenaraffamulligan.com/


News

As mentioned earlier, our Sweet Delights anthology launch was a wonderful success. My next Trinket Bay book, An Ear to the Ground releases on July 30. (Just a few sleeps away.) I’ll share some pictures of that launch on my next blog.

In the meantime, it’s back to writing book three, and I really, really wish I could write / type faster.

Until next time, may all your stories be happy ones.


Monday, 28 June 2021

108. AWOL

Hello, dear readers.

It seems a few months slipped away from me. :/ 

April – This month flew by while I finished writing my soon-to-be-released book, An Ear to the Ground. In the last blog, I could only share a sneaky peek, but now you can see the full cover. I’m so blessed Gumnut Press and cover artist, Victoria Cooper Art combined to bring this to life. 


Here's the blurb and buy links. :)

When murder and love collide, does duty trump one’s heart?

Lilah Michaels remembers little of her mother’s suicide following a violent assault during a robbery at their home over twenty years ago. But it’s the only home she’s ever known. Now they’re in danger of losing the family property, and she’s pinned her hopes on hosting weddings at the winery to appease the bank and buy them some time. Until a shocking discovery changes everything.

Sergeant Finn Kelly desperately needs a break after a tough assignment. All he wants is to catch up with his friends in Trinket Bay as they prepare for their wedding. At Hidden Gem Winery, he finds a yearned-for sense of peace. Then he meets the charming woman who’s hosting the nuptials, and his thoughts turn toward romance.

Finn puts those amorous notions on hold when he and his service dog find human remains on the property. Painful memories and an unsolved mystery come to light. It’s clear someone wants to keep the past a secret, and they’ll do anything to make sure the truth stays buried.

Is Lilah as innocent as she seems? Or is she part of the conspiracy? And will Finn lose more than his heart in his quest to discover the truth?

An Ear to the Ground is a contemporary romantic suspense novel set in the fictional town of Trinket Bay in South Western Australia.

https://books2read.com/u/4jAo92?fbclid=IwAR1a4-O6DZPqDszqAmj2h_WksR9oVjuPYcix1GWWEx8msPqHwwulR_lklPc

https://www.gumnutpress.com/product-page/an-ear-to-the-ground

https://www.booktopia.com.au/an-ear-to-the-ground-d-d-line/ebook/9780645115178.html

 I also enjoyed a weekend writers’ getaway retreat at Anchorage Guesthouse in Rockingham. How wonderful to be with fellow authors, soak up shared knowledge, and get some words down while being spoiled by our retreat hostess and the guesthouse owners.

http://www.anchorageguesthouse.com.au/

https://www.gumnutpress.com/writers-retreats

May – This meant another birthday, so I’m another year older. I’m still waiting for the ‘wiser’ part to kick in. Hubby took me to the Peel Estate Winery for some wine tasting, which was wonderful on three counts.  He drove while I did most of the tasting. LOL  Our host happened to be the winemaker that day. And you’ll know from book two’s blurb that An Ear to the Ground takes place at Hidden Gem Winery. Well, I had to do some thorough research, right? And their wines are so good.

https://peelwine.com.au/

June – This has been the first winter where we really felt the cold. I thought after four years, we’d have acclimatised, but no. The temperatures have been around the 0–4 degrees C mark. While that won’t sound cold to some, I’m certain there were some frosty patches in my garden, but I wasn’t about to go outside and make sure. It’s also my mother’s birthday today. At least she’s enjoying a warmer day in Queensland than I am over on the other side of the country.

This month’s also been the lead up to two exciting things. All the work’s done behind the scenes now for the Gumnut Press ‘Sweet Delights’ Anthology launch on July 7th. Check out this gorgeous place where the launch is being held. Soon fourteen fabulous stories will be on their way out into the world. I hope you enjoy my story too.

Passionberry Dreams by D.D. Line

A young constable with an overwhelming urge to serve and protect. A pâtissier with attitude. Can a thief bring two hearts together? Or steal away their dreams?





Banner credit: Jenny Lynch

I set Passionberry Dreams in Trinket Bay and it’s a ‘bridging story’ between books one and two in my Trinket Bay series. And while you don’t have to read it for the books to make sense, it throws in a few clues for you when you read the second book. And when you’re getting thirteen other awesome stories in the anthology to go with it, what’s not to love?

More on this next month, but July 30 marks the day An Ear to the Ground is released. I can’t wait for you to read Finn’s and Lilah’s (and Jester’s) story. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. :)

Book Reviews 

I’d normally give you a longer run down on the books I’ve enjoyed, but since it’s been a while between blogs, and you know how much I chat, I’ll share snippets this time. I’ve also been proofing and beta reading some soon-to-be-released gems.

Greed (Book Two in the Deadly Seven series) by Lana Pecherczyk


Griffin Lazarus (Greed) has a deadly secret, one his family knows nothing about. But more than the secret might be unleashed if he’s pressed past his limits. Lilo Likeke is a reporter with a mission—to discover the true identities of the Deadly Seven, but her discoveries may cost her more than just a story, it might cost their lives.

More deliciousness for Ms Pecherczyk. The action scenes in this are brilliant. I think I got a workout just from reading them, and I love how the story unfolded, especially Lilo’s quest to take her inner power back. And now I know why everyone’s saying how ‘hot’ this story is. Phew! Loved it.

https://lanapecherczyk.com/

Salvation (Small Town Packs – Wolves of Woodland Falls) by Cassie Laelyn


Mia Jones’ desire to close off ties from her past become unravelled when she meets Noah Cole. She can’t help but feel she’s met him somewhere before. But the revealed memory triggers a secret and unveils a horror neither Mia nor Noah expected. And it seems no matter what she does, Mia’s cursed to fail.

This is the first of a new series by Ms Laelyn that brings with it all the heat and passion you’ll find in her Fallen Guardians series, and this book is every bit as nail-biting. Pun so intended. Can’t wait for the next in the series.

https://www.cassielaelyn.com/

Shadowed Moon (From the Shadows – Book 1) by S E Walsh


Being a single parent is challenging enough. But when witch and single mother, Tabitha, and her daughter, Luna’s lives are in danger, they hide in a town that’s home to the largest wolf pack in Australia. The trouble with secrets is they’re hard to outrun, and now they’ve followed her to her newest haven.

Love this. Believable characters. The burn between Tabitha and Jarrad is delicious. And Luna, Tabitha's daughter, is a delight. The story itself is intriguing and introduces a variety of characters who leave you wanting more. I'm looking forward to the next book in the series. (Which is out tomorrow.)

https://sewelsh.com/

We Witch You a Merry Christmas (Midlife in Mosswood Book 3) by Louisa West


Rosemary (Rosie) Bell is settling into life in Mosswood, but someone’s determined to ruin her happiness. It could be the fact she’s not a fan of Christmas despite knowing she wants to make it wonderful for her daughter, Maggie. And it might be the vendetta the sheriff has against her because it’s ‘her’ fault his cheating brother’s been run out of town and his soon to be ex-sister-in-law is best friends with Rosie. And maybe it’s because the law is looking for her ex-husband and they’re looking to blame her for his ‘disappearance.’ 

A wonderful Christmas story that rings out the importance of family, forgiveness, and understanding. Rosie learns the importance of her past on the way to discovering the dreams of her future, all wrapped up in a merry little bow. :)

Get Witch Quick (Midlife in Mosswood Book 4) by Louisa West


It’s a dangerous thing to be a witch and not be able to control your powers. More so, when those powers are new and all you want to do is explore them and think about the consequences (much) later. Maggi’s magical gifts are strengthening, but at ten, she doesn’t understand the responsibilities that come with those gifts. But the Council of Witches do, and they’ve issued a terrible ultimatum to keep the witching community safe—either Rosie helps Maggie get her powers under control fast, and they’ll take her away and teach Maggie themselves. And there’s no way Rosie’s allowing them to take away her precious (currently precocious) child.

This is a fictional story, but the relationship between mother and daughter is just beautiful and real. The challenges of raising a child as strong-willed as her mother, of the highs and lows, is wonderfully portrayed here. Even though there’s the added ‘complication’ of learning magic to mix in with all those ‘super fun’ hormones. And nothing, and I mean nothing, comes between a protective ‘mumma bear’ and her child. Bring on book 5 please. :) Which is out June 30. :)

http://www.louisawest.com/

The Last Keeper (Book 1 The Immortal Keepers) by H M Hodgson


India and her mother ran for their lives when she was young. Now her magic is becoming unstable, and the only people she can turn to for help are the family she left behind all those years ago. Returning means trouble for her, and for everyone else in the community. But none more than Thrane, a Keeper who’s sworn to protect his secrets, even if it means sacrificing his heart’s desire.

If a slow burn romance with sexy heroes and strong sassy women is your thing, you'll enjoy this story. Especially when it includes powerful witches, dangerous demons, dark family secrets, and a clever mix of Nordic mythology that shifts from contemporary, modern-day Australia to incredible worlds where nothing is as it seems.

And did I mention the steamy scenes? :)

Ms Hodgson's first book embraces an exciting mix of fantasy and mythology, and I look forward to her next book. :)

https://hmhodgson.com/

News

Apart from two stories out next month, I have another writing weekend getaway to enjoy in beautiful Dunsborough (assuming Covid restrictions aren’t upgraded into something more serious. Everything crossed.) I’ve been told it’s ‘a bit cool’ there, which for this little sook means I better pack thermals. LOL

While there, I’ll be working on book three of the Trinket Bay series. My heroine has graciously (finally) told me her name, and I’m still feeling sorry for my hero. He doesn’t know what’s hit him. ;)

Until next time. :)



Saturday, 27 March 2021

107. How to Write 'Good.'

Hello, dear readers.

This month I’ve been working on my craft and learning more about strengthening my writing. A creature of habit, I’d been writing my stories longhand before typing them onscreen. Now I’m working directly to the computer, which saves oodles of time and a fair few trees too even if I’m still getting my head around not deciphering my scribble first. (Another bonus of working straight to the computer. LOL) I still keep a notebook handy because it’s a habit to write in the car while waiting for school to finish. 

My mind is busy tossing around the ideal path for book three of the Trinket Bay series. My heroine is a strong woman who is stubbornly not telling me her name, and I almost feel sorry for my hero. Almost. I’m excited for the next adventure. Just as I’m excited for you to see the cover for book two – An Ear to the Ground. Though I’ll have to keep you guessing for a little longer. Sneaky peek only.



Book Reviews

The Negative Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Flaws by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi


Crafting likable, interesting characters is a balancing act, and finding that perfect mix of strengths and weaknesses can be difficult. But the task has become easier thanks to The Negative Trait Thesaurus.

Through its flaw-centric exploration of character arc, motivation, emotional wounds, and basic needs, writers will learn which flaws make the most sense for their heroes, villains, and other members of the story’s cast. This book’s vast collection of flaws will help writers to explore the possible causes, attitudes, behaviours, thoughts, and related emotions behind their characters’ weaknesses so they can be written effectively and realistically. Common characterization pitfalls and methods to avoid them are also included, along with invaluable downloadable tools to aid in character creation.

Written in list format and fully indexed, this brainstorming resource is perfect for creating deep, flawed characters that readers will relate to.

“In these brilliantly conceived, superbly organized and astonishingly thorough volumes, Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi have created an invaluable resource for writers and storytellers. Whether you are searching for new and unique ways to add and define characters, or brainstorming methods for revealing those characters without resorting to clichés, it is hard to imagine two more powerful tools for adding depth and dimension to your screenplays, novels or plays.”

- Michael Hauge, Hollywood script consultant and story expert, author of Writing Screenplays That Sell and Selling Your Story in 60 Seconds: The Guaranteed Way to Get Your Screenplay or Novel Read.

The Positive Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Flaws by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi


Character creation can be hard, but it’s about to get a lot easier. Inside The Positive Trait Thesaurus, you’ll find:

* A large selection of attributes to choose from when building a personality profile. Each entry lists possible causes for why a trait might emerge, along with associated attitudes, behaviours, thoughts, and emotions
* Real character examples from literature, film, or television to show how an attribute drives actions and decisions, influences goals, and steers relationships
* Advice on using positive traits to immediately hook readers while avoiding common personality pitfalls
* Insight on human needs and morality, and how each determines the strengths that emerge in heroes and villains alike
* Information on the key role positive attributes play within the character arc, and how they’re vital to overcoming fatal flaws and achieving success
* Downloadable tools for organizing a character’s attributes and providing a deeper understanding of his past, his needs, and the emotional wounds he must overcome.

If you find character creation difficult or worry that your cast members all seem the same, The Positive Trait Thesaurus is brimming with ideas to help you develop one-of-a-kind, dynamic characters that readers will love. Extensively indexed, with entries written in a user-friendly list format, this brainstorming resource is perfect for any character creation project.

“In these brilliantly conceived, superbly organized and astonishingly thorough volumes, Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi have created an invaluable resource for writers and storytellers. Whether you are searching for new and unique ways to add and define characters, or brainstorming methods for revealing those characters without resorting to clichés, it is hard to imagine two more powerful tools for adding depth and dimension to your screenplays, novels or plays.”

- Michael Hauge, Hollywood script consultant and story expert, author of Writing Screenplays That Sell and Selling Your Story in 60 Seconds: The Guaranteed Way to Get Your Screenplay or Novel Read.

I am working my way through these wonderful authors’ collective efforts. Highly recommend for all those learning the writing craft. The link shows the other books available. :)


Romancing the Beat by Gwen Hayes


What makes a romance novel a romance? How do you write a kissing book?

Writing a well-structured romance isn’t the same as writing any other genre—something the popular novel and screenwriting guides don’t address. The romance arc is made up of its own story beats, and the external plot and theme need to be braided to the romance arc—not the other way around.

Told in conversational (and often irreverent) prose, Romancing the Beat can be read like you are sitting down to coffee with romance editor and author Gwen Hayes while she explains story structure. The way she does with her clients. Some of whom are regular inhabitants of the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists.

Romancing the Beat is a recipe, not a rigid system. The beats don’t care if you plot or outline before you write, or if you pants your way through the drafts and do a “beat check” when you’re revising. Pantsers and plotters are both welcome. So, sit down, grab a cuppa, and let’s talk about kissing books.

Loved this book. So much fun. Ms Hayes is serious about her craft, but she imparts her advice in excellent humour and you can’t help but turn the page to read what funny comments she’ll share next. And reading the book does feel like you’re having coffee with your bestie writing friend, talking craft, and having a laugh. This is a must have. (And thank you to another amazing author friend who recommended the book.) :)


Archie Bidet and the Great Venetian Art Heist by Tracy Farquhar



It is October nineteen fifty-two. Archie is in Venice, Italy, with his Uncle Bert and Aunt Bea, attending the grand unveiling of the missing Tintoretto at the Doges Palace. Safely ensconced under the same esteemed roof is the Palace’s previous exhibition, the Bonaparte Jewels.

In a matter of hours both priceless treasures are stolen, a guard murdered, and the curator’s reputation in tatters.

Archie and his fellow sleuth, Catherine, negotiate the maze that is Venice, placing themselves in mortal danger along the way. Their every move being watched by the very villain they pursue.

I adore this series. The second book is every bit as wonderful as the first. Yet another well-researched story that places the reader in a far more innocent time, through the eyes of an observant and clever young man. This time, an equally clever young lady joins Archie, and together they work to solve another amazing mystery. And again, the clever twists and turns will have the reader glued to the story until the very end.

I so admire this author for creating an environment of learning history through entertainment with her stories. Great for kids, and those ‘big kids’ too. 


An Unholy Gift by Georgia Tingley



When Caroline Emerson wakes up from a coma after a stroke, she feels she is going crazy, hearing voices inside her head. Caroline has been blessed with the miraculous ability to read minds! Overwhelmed by her gift and the enormity of what it means to control the cacophony of voices clamouring inside, she seeks divine assistance.

Newly converted angel, ‘Asher, the Angel of Guidance,’ is sent down to Earth to help her refine and operate her powers; teaching her to block and read minds with proficiency. They use her ‘special skill’ to help the police find missing people.

The authorities suspect foul play when a man’s wife disappears. However, Caroline and Asher are unable to read his mind; but he can read theirs! Not only can he block anyone scanning his thoughts, but he is able to control others by using his powers - a gift reserved for the supernatural.

Out of their depth, and unsure of who, or what, they are dealing with, they seek support from ‘The Angelic Counsel.’ Justice Smith is called in to help.

Together the two angels discover a man who is not who he claims to be and hidden beneath his urbane front is an evil criminal with an unholy gift.

Ms Tingley writes amazing villains, and her antagonist in An Unholy Gift is no exception. His vileness poured off the pages. In contrast, Asher was peace and light and ‘earned her wings’ in the way she looked after her charge, Caroline. As in the first book, the passionate relationship between Asher and Justice is a steamy addition to a suspenseful book that surprises in its twists and turns.

I loved the first book in the series and recommend both. Love the cover too.


The Alice Equation by Davina Stone


Alice Montgomery’s life is like Groundhog Day. Five years after graduating, she’s still working in her mum’s bookshop, hiding her stash of romance novels under the bed, and pining for the gorgeous guy who helped her over a panic attack before her final uni exam.

Aaron Blake loves to party—hard. His idea of commitment to anything other than his legal career is strictly three months. Until landing a job with the most prestigious—but conservative—law firm in town means he has to convince the partners he’s deeply committed to family values.

Aaron needs a fake date fast—and who could be safer than his bookish friend Alice?

Soon Alice finds herself dating her secret crush, sporting a daring new look of vintage frocks and itsy-bitsy lace lingerie.

Now the heat is notching up. Aaron’s feelings for his fake date are proving anything but safe, and Alice is discovering her inner sex-goddess.

But when secrets are revealed and lies uncovered, both Alice and Aaron will have to work out the hardest equation of all… what this crazy thing called love is all about.

Ms Stone’s debut novel is a joy to read from start to finish. I loved the humour, the way the characters evolved, the secondary characters, which happily appear in future books in the series, and I especially loved the last few chapters. The events in that section had all the feels. It’s a wonderful love story and I cannot wait to read the next book.


News

Along with learning more about my craft and tackling the plotting side of writing, I’ve completed edits for one anthology story and I’m halfway through the first draft of another anthology story. I should have the edits back for book two in the Trinket Bay series this weekend, so I’ll have plenty to keep me busy in the next few weeks. Which reminds me, I need to up the chocolate stash.

Until next time, Happy Easter to those who celebrate it. Chat soon.  :)


Sunday, 28 February 2021

106. Writing Frenzy

Hello, dear readers.

Belated Valentines wishes everyone, whether you spoiled a significant other, or you took the time to spoil yourself.

The blog title is apt this month because frenzied writing covers almost my entire February. What’s kept me so busy is rewrites and editing book two in my Trinket Bay series. A Nose for Trouble has been well-received, which means there’s automatically pressure to produce an as good as or better next book. I mean, that’s not just me, right? That goes for all creatives? 

On the plus side, I learned I can get more words down in a day than I previously thought, and having a deadline helps with the procrastination for which authors are also well renowned. A little less daydreaming, a little more action. LOL 

I love this new story, and I’m so excited to share it a little later in the year. And for those who enjoyed the previous cover, well, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with the second book either. 

Ghost hunting in an old building set the scene for an interesting chat at Authors on Stage at the Koorliny Art Centre this month too. My oldest and I attended author Josh Langley's talk on 'Life After Death' and his fascination with 'the other side' he's had since childhood. He and hostess, author Monique Mulligan shared a lively discussion which had the audience enthralled. Unfortunately, or fortunately for some, the rumoured ghost who haunts the dressing rooms backstage didn't make an appearance. Perhaps he was more scared of us...

I also attended a crime scene workshop a few nights back conducted by a professor of chemical forensics who currently specialises in fingerprint studies. It was so good! It was meant to be an hour-long chat, but no one moved a muscle when we hit the ninety-minute mark. And honestly, he could have kept on talking, his topic was so fascinating. I imagine you’ll have realised most movies and television shows get parts of this forensic side of things wrong, whether that’s because of inaccurate information or time/film constraints. Seems we authors don’t always get it right either.

It's also more involved than I thought it would be too. Forensics covers investigators, biologists, university professors / consultants, the police, forensic dentists, forensic historians and even forensic palaeontology and archaeology. In short, Forensics is a historical science, and not as glamorous as we’re led to believe. But this professor’s audience could not get enough. How cool it would have been to be allowed to visit the university and witness some of their experiments and tested theories. Let’s hope that tiny peek shines through in our books. :)

I also had the incredibly stupid idea to clean out the youngest’s room. Let’s just say that said child may be conducting some forensic experiments of their own...

Book Reviews

Scam at Old River by Mike MacKay


BASED ON TRUE EVENTS

After a night out celebrating the conclusion of a successful assignment, computer forensic expert Jack Rhodes wakes up with a beautiful woman in his bed, an almighty hangover, and someone is pounding on his door. He answers, and the large stranger asks for the woman by name. The stranger goes on the attack. Jack thinks he's in the middle of a relationship drama.

Drawing on his martial arts training, Jack subdues the assailant. He calls the police, but not before learning the woman has hidden incriminating files from a dangerous man. When the police arrive, the woman has disappeared.

Through his connections on the force, Jack volunteers to go undercover and discover the truth. It becomes a dark and menacing path into the hidden underbelly of San Francisco's business and criminal element where murder, exploitation, fraud, and betrayal are a way of life. He needs to make the connections; get the proof he needs and find the woman fast. But to do so means facing his demons, a darkness within, and a past he cannot escape.

This is one of those stories where the pages flow as though the reader is watching an action movie. Plenty of fight scenes, intrigue, and a main character whose back story is every bit as interesting as the present one. And of course, we want to know if he gets the girl.

This contains some fascinating side characters who I’d love to learn more about. One particular female character has a hidden past and cunningness that would make a fabulous story too. I look forward to more from this author.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/57062812-scam-at-old-river?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=GMicHbgTb6&rank=1

Hidden in the Light by Ian Cameron Wood


Just as a roller coaster begins a slow climb, Hidden in the Light begins as a safe ride. But its plunges and dizzying corners eventually rattle us through dark twists and turns before bringing us back to the light via extraordinary events.

Through these enthralling, tumultuous pages, shelter is provided under refreshing humour and grace.

In this story, three brothers share their journey with astonishing honesty. They ride with us until the slowing down and seeming safe stop of the roller coaster at the end of the ride. But is it a safe arrival or will we find ourselves pushed over the edge into a final screaming plunge one last time?

There are shocks and unexpected surprises written in these pages as well as a bewilderment that is strangely acceptable in the astonishing events that make this book so compelling.

Regardless of where you are through these pages, this is not an easy book to put down.

This story fascinated me. I had to keep reading.

Told through the eyes of three brothers growing up in Sydney in the seventies, this book follows their individual journeys, sometimes in parallel, and sometimes converging as they share their tragedies and triumphs.

It was a time of relative innocence where the Church ruled, and those who spoke in God’s name held powerful positions. But for the three brothers, this was a time of innocence lost. James, the oldest, looked out for his brothers, but as he matures, personal tragedy would push him away from his close-knit family and from the Church. Andrew, the middle child, struggling to find the balance between his more serious older brother, and his fun-loving younger brother, but determined to follow his own path. And Nathan, the youngest, who witnesses a terrible event, then experiences another horrific event as a young adult, the emotional and mental scars of which he still bears today.

The brothers’ stories confront the reader with their tales of sexual, mental, and emotional abuse in the Church. Though theirs is a dark tale, the grace, humour, and irony of everyday lives, of success, good fortune and wonder is still prevalent. 

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56702729-hidden-in-the-light?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=FUMF812VHC&rank=4

The Hobo CEO by Shae Marie


Life is full of challenges, and we're always looking for the answers, but what happens when you can't read those all-important clues?

Entrepreneur Shae Marie is a successful businesswoman who received a late diagnosis of Dyslexia in her late twenties. By this time, she'd suffered through school and university, challenged by something she couldn't understand.

Bullied and ridiculed, she fought a battle not only with self-confidence, but to prove to her naysayers she was indeed a resilient and intelligent woman. She couldn't understand why she struggled to read what others seemed to find a breeze. There were other clues that hindered her success, but until that AHA moment where she finally received a diagnosis and could act upon it, Shae Marie found some things challenging.

Now, armed with skills and strategies befitting her lifestyle, Shae Marie has become a successful, confident woman ready to face any obstacle. Things didn't fall into place after her diagnosis, but with resilience, determination, and fortitude, she's gone from strength to strength.

The Hobo CEO shares tips and tricks of running a social enterprise, while offering a glimpse into Shae Marie's life. It touches on her childhood, her determination to succeed at school, university, and at life and culminates into a triumphant moment for both Shae Marie, and all who face the challenges that Dyslexia brings.

What a fantastic insight into living with Dyslexia from a woman determined to live her life with perseverance and resilience and not let her challenges stop her from achieving her goals. Told with humour and honesty, this snapshot into the author’s life shows those who aren’t dyslexic a glimpse of what it’s like to live with this condition. And for those who know all too well the challenges Dyslexia imparts on their lives may find courage and empowerment in this author’s determination to be more than just her diagnosis.

https://www.shaemarie.com.au/

News

I can now reveal the exciting news I promised to share last month. I entered a short story into Gumnut Press’s 2021 Anthology call out. You may remember I entered their previous one, which resulted in my current Trinket Bay contract. This time, they accepted my story alongside some more fabulous authors. I’m excited to read everyone’s stories, and it’s another story I cannot wait to share with you all. I’m not sure of the release date for this one yet, but I’ll keep you posted.

I also promised to share a recent interview. Here’s the link. :)

https://soniabellhouse.blog/2021/01/29/meet-d-d-line-author-of-a-nose-for-trouble/

So, now that February is gone in a flash, may your March be fabulous, fun, and filled with awesome books. :)


Monday, 25 January 2021

105. A Day at the Museum

Hello, dear readers.


Happy New Year. I hope many wonderful blessings come your way over the next twelve months.

I haven’t been out much. Too busy writing. But we managed a day out at the Perth Museum with friends. I felt very, very small when I stood beneath a blue whale, where one rib bone was taller than me, let alone the entire skeleton.

The section dedicated to the Traditional Custodians and their stories of the land and their Dreamtime also fascinated me. One story of particular interest was the Seven Sisters, which has so many variations from so many cultures, depending on who’s telling the story. I’ve always enjoyed it because the Seven Sisters also feature in my star sign, Taurus, and make up the shoulder blade of the Bull. 

And speaking of star signs, we also saw an amazing featurette on a big screen of the constellations, the universe and of earth itself. Astronomy has always fascinated me, and astrology too, because of the stories behind the constellations. In all, an enjoyable day. 

The next plan is to visit Fremantle Prison and do a tour. Not sure I’m game to do a night one. Who knows what long-legged beastie and things that go bump in the night might decide to follow me home?

Book Reviews

The Battle for Eliza by Vicki Milliken



A Charming Historical Romance set in Post WW1 Australia

Allies become enemies in affairs of the heart ...

It's 1925, and twenty-five-year-old Eliza Sinclair is determined not to be left 'on the shelf'. Inexperienced in romance, she decides to master the art. But finding love is proving harder than she imagined.

That is, until ten thousand American sailors arrive on Melbourne's shores. Caught up in the excitement, Eliza enters a dance competition and is thrilled to find herself partnered with Seaman Wil Sanders. Wil is fun and lays on the charm, and his kisses make it clear that the contest isn't the only thing he wants to win. And if that's making Alex Heaton question his commitment to his bachelor lifestyle and his role as her honorary big brother, then she isn't complaining.

Eliza finds herself caught in a tug of war between the two men. Navigating the battle for her heart and finding her happy-ever-after, will require Eliza to draw on all her newfound confidence and savoir faire.

The Battle for Eliza takes the reader on a wonderful escapade to Melbourne, Australia in the 1920s.

In a time where a woman’s reputation would make or break her in society, comes an exciting and passionate story of a young woman looking for romance.

Determined to be a woman of experience and mystery while carefully maintaining that all-important good girl reputation intact, Eliza Sinclair dares herself to be the darling of the dance floor. In doing so, men start noticing her, especially her handsome and charming dance partner for the competition. Then there’s the man who’s been her older brother’s best friend for the past four years. Much to Eliza’s dismay, he treats her as though she was a child.

That overly protective ‘brother’ status soon changes when she appears on the dance floor in a daring dress that has the social pages flipping, the young men clamouring for her attention, and her rivals out for blood. Who would have thought the path to true love could be so thrilling?

I loved this story. I loved the imagery, the peep into a glamorous 20s society and the passionate, make that VERY passionate scenes sprinkled so deliciously throughout the pages. The characters were full of life and I was invested in them all. I can’t wait for the next book.


Beautiful Unique Faces by Anita East



A vital message for our time, Beautiful Unique Faces by Anita East cuts through the noise in our heads to get to the truth of our beauty.

Thanks to increasing pressure to look beautiful from social media, influencers, friends, society and even our own self-expectations, women and girls are in the stranglehold of a sickening mental health crisis.

While Botox and injectables aren't new, their availability, price point and the relentlessness of Instagram has given women across the world a skewed idea of what's both aspirational and attainable in facial beauty.

In Beautiful Unique Faces, Anita reveals the frightening changes she's witnessed in female demands for cosmetic enhancements, sharing case studies and personal anecdotes from inside the treatment room. More importantly, she explains how women can find and appreciate their Unique Facial Feature as well as how to avoid becoming another Pretty Ugly Face.

Join Anita as she rips apart society's expectations of perfection and shares her proven formula for becoming happier and more beautiful in your own skin.

Told in a gentle manner, Ms East shares an inside look regarding the cosmeceutical industry, and her concerns for a growing trend for young people toward obtaining the ‘perfect face.’ 

A leading cosmetic injectable and aesthetic medicine specialist, Ms East has both a professional and personal perspective when it comes to beauty. Rather than highlighting everything, Ms East advocates enhancing that one beautiful feature that makes her clients so uniquely themselves.

Her book, through the example of case studies and personal experience, gives the reader a well-rounded, insightful, and honest take on the way Botox, injectables and the need to be perfect affects people. And in some cases, how this obsession to be ‘perfect’ can destroy relationships, and even lives.

A fascinating insight that shines a spotlight on the pain behind a ‘perfect’ world.



News

January has started with a bang. I’ve finished drafting the second book in my Trinket Bay series. It’s currently away for a structural edit. I’m preparing for all the fixes I know will be there before I pass it on to my wonderful publisher to work her magic to produce another wonderful book.

Meanwhile, we’re searching for the perfect couple to create our next cover. Can’t wait!

I’ll have some exciting news to share next month. It’s a secret for a little while longer yet, and an interview where you may learn way more about me than you really wanted to. You have been warned. 

Friday, 25 December 2020

104. Licorice Locks

Hello, dear readers.

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate it. Many blessings to those who celebrate other holy days and traditions, and big hugs for those who, for whatever reason, find this a difficult time of year.

The past few weeks have been a blur. Still pinching myself to think my book is out there in the wild. Reviews are coming in, and so far, everyone seems to love A Nose for Trouble. I am so blessed. It’s also been fun visiting my local post office and sending books out across the country.

This has also been a time of Christmas parties, end-of-year school concerts and mad dashes to the shops, though I think I managed to get everything done. Uni and school are done for the year and hubby managed to get some time off so we’re all celebrating in the air conditioning. Did I mention it's forty degrees here? (That’s 104F for those who are wondering.) On the plus side, the humidity is lower than I’m used to, so I’m grateful for that. :)

December’s the time I share a short story with you, and this year I have two Flash Fiction stories. In our RWA group, we’ve been doing a monthly writing exercise and taking turns to select the prompts. They’re not Christmas stories, but I hope you enjoy them.


Story Time

Licorice Locks – prompts – licorice, cuffs, keys (sexy scenes)

Breath caught in her throat, Jacie could do nothing but stare. And who’d blame her considering what, make that who, ensnared her gaze.

When the office called, she never expected this gorgeous specimen lying on the four-poster bed. She also never expected they were relying on her to unlock a set of handcuffs. He hadn’t opened his eyes or acknowledge her presence, but the steady rise and fall of his chest told her he was okay. Perhaps he was under a spell. Were the cuffs enchanted? Timed to explode? Who the hell knew? What she did know though, was the longer she stood there staring, the less inclined she was to do her job.

Except for his wrists, which were shackled to the bedhead, he looked like a model on a fancy glamour shoot. Olive skin, which hinted at a Mediterranean ancestry, made him look like a reclining bronzed god. Jacie’s gaze feasted on its slow perusal of long, toned legs. A blush and a blink, and she skipped to a muscled chest she desperately wanted to lick.

Why else was her tongue hanging out of her mouth?

Dark stubble adorned an angular jaw, full lips pouted in a strawberry kiss, and his cheekbones sharp enough to cut glass. Jet black hair brushed his broad shoulders and throat, framing his face in a burnished halo. And those lashes! They rested atop his cheeks in a licorice fringe. Suddenly she hungered for sweets. He sure looked good enough to eat.

His eyes still shut, Jacie’s emboldened gaze moved to the leopard print briefs he wore. They left nothing to the imagination. And her imagination ran wild.

“Admiring the view?”

Shit!

Those licorice lashes now framed a molten stare. Like he was aware and enjoyed the fact she lusted after every inch of him.

“I-I...”

“So, you’ll be my rescuer today?”

He smirked and shook his wrists. The handcuffs rattled. Jacie’s gaze locked on his biceps.

Goddamn it, tongue. You better be back in my mouth!

“Wait a minute. Today?” she said. “Does this happen often?”

“Not as often as I’d like, especially when the locksmith is as beautiful as you.”

Cue one mega-watt grin.

Could her face get any hotter? Or anywhere else, for that matter?

“Climb on then.”

“Wh-what?”

“It’s a big bed. I’m right in the middle. I’m sure you’re talented, but I don’t think you can reach the cuffs unless you’re sitting on me. I promise, I won’t move a muscle.” He grinned again. “Unless you want me to.”

Jacie moved closer, and that’s when she saw it.

When he’d gestured to the handcuffs earlier, his hair moved and now revealed a chain. In the hollow of his throat rested a key she’d recognise anywhere. He was a gatekeeper. That key would unlock any number of portals. Now she understood why the office sent her.

Jacie grinned as she straddled him. Sure, she’d a job to do, but who said she couldn’t have a little fun first?


Olga’s Secret – prompts – Olga is hiding something, red lace, briefcase

“Olga is hiding something.”

I stare at my screens and pretend he’s not talking to me.

“Notice she never lets that briefcase out of her sight.”

I grab my coffee. Its roasted aroma annihilates the stale sweat and aftershave he’s been marinating in.

“What do you suppose she has in there, James?”

He sits on the corner of my desk and I no longer have the luxury of imagining I am anywhere else but here.

“Her lunch?” I offer, not looking at him. I keep my eyes on the screens.

“I suppose.”

Something in his tone changes.

“But I don’t think so.”

He shuffles into a more comfortable position. I feel the weight of his gaze. Twin laser beams of icy blue burning the side of my face. He wants me to look at him. I refuse. It’s also clear he’s not leaving until I give him a response.

I shrug. “Never seen her with a handbag. Maybe that’s what she uses the briefcase for.”

“What the hell are you talking about?” He grunts.

Neanderthal!

“You know. Somewhere to keep her purse, a hairbrush. Her tampons.”

I throw that last one in to stir the pot. In my peripheral vision, I see his face is flushed and twisted in disgust. He’s glaring in the lift’s direction, the one Olga stepped into just moments ago, briefcase gripped tight in her hand. Just as tight is the blouse she’s wearing. I’m surprised he hasn’t commented on that either. Does he really think I want to bond over his ridiculous opinion on women in the workplace and where he thinks they really belong.

He snorts. “Women, eh?”

My teeth grind. A muscle tightens in my cheek.

“I want you to do a security check.”

“What for?”

His face flushes, and he looks away.

“Let’s just say some items are missing from the lab. I suspect Olga, and the proof’s in that briefcase. As head of security, you can make her open it.”

On the nearest screen, Olga emerges from the lift on to the ground floor. She smiles up at the security camera and gives me a conspiring wink as she crosses the foyer. Her skirt twirls with her movement, revealing a flash of red. She shows her badge to one of my team members.

Beside me, my unwanted companion yells at her image.

“Stop her! She’s getting away.”

He pounds the desk with his fist, and for the first time, I meet his gaze.

“Carl,” I say into my team member’s earpiece, “please escort Miss Holmes to Security. Use the second lift.”

“Yes, sir!”

“You’ll see. I’m right about her.”

“Yes, you are.”

“Wait, what?”

I stand. The Neanderthal stands too.

“You’re right. Olga is hiding something.”

Before he can react, I slam my handcuffs on his wrists. 

A glorious hint of a red lace suspender belt for a start, I think, but instead I say. “Proof you’ve been stealing from this company for months.”


Book Reviews

Jealousy’s a Witch by Louisa West



She thought that her life couldn’t get any stranger. Boy, was she wrong.

Rosemary Bell’s ex-husband is now a turtle, she’s suddenly witch royalty, her daughter Maggie's new best friend is an imaginary kangaroo hopping around the forests of Mosswood, Georgia, and her Witch King, Declan, isn’t making her life or her couch’s throw pillows any cushier.

Just as she’s starting to fall for Declan, a shocking confession leaves her reeling and Rosie wonders whether she is really meant to be the queen of anything. When a sexy bombshell arrives in town with her eyes set on Rosie’s King and crown, she will have to decide for herself what her destiny is - and soon.

Struggling between caring for Declan and caring for herself and Maggie, Rosie does her best to rise above the woman’s provocation. But when Maggie is kidnapped on All Hallow’s Eve, Rosie has no choice but to trust Declan and work together to get her daughter back. After an intense magical ritual brings her new powers full circle, Rosie finds out that jealousy’s a witch - literally!

Ms West’s second book in the Mosswood series does not disappoint. Certain events make Rosie question everything she’s learned so far about her life, romance, and how easy it can be to bend the truth. 

There’s more than one showdown in this book, and each one is glorious in its own way. We learn more about Tammy, and it’s easy to see why she’s become Rosie’s best friend, and as always, I love the relationship between Rose and her daughter, Maggie. Plenty of girl power here in all its subtle and not-so-subtle forms.

Oh, and that moment when a certain snapping turtle makes himself known... I laughed so hard. Lots to love with this book.


Happy Deadly New Year by Polly Holmes



Never in my lifetime did I think I’d spend New Year’s Eve knee-deep in mischief, magic, and murder!

When my high-school nemesis, Prudence McAvoy, chooses The Melting Pot Café to host her New Year’s party, I know I’m courting trouble by accepting her booking. The trouble begins with Prudence turning up dead, face down in a pond, and the finger for her murder is pointed directly at my shape-shifting best friend, Jordi.

Determined to clear Jordi’s name and bring the real killer to justice, I pool resources with Harriet, Tyler, and my cheeky familiar, Miss Saffron, to find out what happened to Prudence. As the clock counts down to midnight, time is running out in more ways than one.

Can we find the killer before another body drops? Or will Jordi’s new year begin in the pokey?

If you like witty witches, talking cats, and magical murder mysteries, then you’ll love Polly Holmes’ light-hearted Melting Pot Café series.

Book two in the Melting Pot Café series brings with it more fabulous twists and turns as Evelyn learns more about her powers and about the people around her. It also hints at secrets being kept by some very important people in her life, leaving Evelyn unsure what to believe.

While Prudence has never been her favourite person, her ghost reveals a past connection Evelyn never expected. And to help solve her murder, Evelyn will have to face facts for which she’s not prepared. 

Love the unexpected reveals in this book, and I can’t wait to see what’s next. :)


Becoming Truitt Skye: The Cave of Souls by Adrea L Peters



Obsessed with finding Eva, Truitt is at her wit's end and incredibly destructive on all levels. She refuses to accept her responsibilities in the City on the Sea and to all souls round the world. Furthermore, Truitt will not let anyone help her. Truth be told, everyone has had quite enough of the explosive Miss Skye. 

Yet, fragment by fragment, Truitt begins to piece her soul together and become more of who she is with the love, guidance, and snark of her dearest loves. Join her for another exciting, jaw-dropping, heart-opening adventure. 

It is absolutely worth the ride for the shocking ending best-selling author Adrea L. Peters delivers. 

I am in awe of this author and what she’s created.

Following on from the first book, we learn Truitt is finding it incredibly difficult to find her place in the world she knew and the one to which she so desperately longs to return to. Her soul is still fractured, caught in the moments she left behind. Every emotion as Truitt struggles to find her balance is beautifully portrayed by Ms Peters’ writing and the reader feels each moment and lesson just as intently. 

As Truitt rediscovers her ‘self,’ the roller coaster ride of a story and the stunning twist of an ending will make you feel every one of the bumps and bruises along the way. A wonderful read that will appeal to young adults and not-so-young adults alike.


News

We had a great takeover day on the RWA social pages, and it was so much fun to learn more about my fellow volunteers, their jobs, and their writing. It’s amazing what a group of volunteers can do. :)

Christmas was spent in the aircon watching movies and enjoying food I’ll be wishing I hadn’t eaten later, but it’s hard to resist a good pavlova and roast turkey with all the trimmings. Back to writing tomorrow because I have a deadline, and voices in my head demanding I tell their story. One of whom will have to wait until it’s time for his book, cheeky thing.

For now, I wish you all well, and best wishes for 2021. I hope it’s a fantastic year for us all.