Meet the Author: Flashpoint by Derek Thompson

Today we travel to the UK’s West Country to chat with British writer, Derek Thompson. We’ll talk about how writing in two distinct voices, badgers, Film Noir, Verity Lambert, journal writing, The Beatles, and Top Cat come together as part of Derek’s writing and his life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a British writer and I’m fortunate to live in the UK’s West Country, not far from the sea. I write novels, short fiction and some comedy material. I think humour is a dance between content and context, and I try to include it in both my creative writing and freelance work.

I believe passionately in the power of the written (and spoken word) to conjure up inner and outer worlds that enchant us with possibilities. Good fiction takes us on a journey that engages the senses and makes us invested in the ride!

In which genre do you write?

Mostly thrillers, but I’ve also penned a magical fantasy and a mid-grade tale about bullying and transformation. In addition, I penned a standalone transatlantic dark comedy that’s currently doing the rounds with agents and publishers.

How many published books do you have?

Eight altogether: five British spy thrillers (the Spy Chaser series) plus books 1 to 3 as a single volume, a magical fantasy (Covenant) and my mid-grade book (superhero club).

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

I learned to read before I started school and books were doorways to other worlds, other times, other lives. Story time in class fired up my imagination – that power to hold a room’s attention and transport eager minds somewhere else. I became serious about writing in my teens (although I had to go through the terrible poetry stage first!).

What is an interesting writing quirk you have, that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography?

I write in two distinct voices – one British and one from the US. When I finally get around to putting a collection of short fiction together. some stories will be distinctly American. The book will be called Into the Void and I already have the cover design ready,

What would you choose as your mascot, spirit animal, or avatar and why?

I’m fond of badgers (but not honey badgers!), hares, crows, rooks, and ravens.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

A cabin in the woods, overlooking a lake. But I’m pretty happy writing in my attic or on long train journeys.

What are you currently reading?

A collection of Raymond Chandler stories, some of which are embryonic Philip Marlowe tales. Also a brilliant subscription magazine called The Idler.

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

I attempt yoga, or find woods and beaches to explore. I love Film Noir and other black & white movies (check out Rafifi!), and I enjoy listen to a wide range of music. I’m an average backgammon player!

If you could have a fantasy tea or coffee date with an author or famous person from the past or present, who would it be and what would you ask them?

The late and wonderful British TV producer, Verity Lambert, would be my perfect tea date. I’d ask her how I could improve the chances of my spy series making it to the small screen.

What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself through writing?

How much ‘stuff’ I’ve squirreled in the recesses of my mind – past situations, dialogue, ideas from childhood, dreams, etc. Allied to that would be the uses I can put that material to, including the feelings that went along with it all.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve done or experienced to help create a scene or plot?

I don’t know if this counts but I still have an audio letter home to my family from my early 20s – on a cassette tape! Playing that helped me reconnect with scenes and situations for one of my novels.

Do you journal write or keep a personal diary? Has this helped with your published writings? If so, how?

I’ve written a journal, fairly regularly, for a long time. Sometimes I’ll jot down short story ideas or plot elements of novels while I’m working on them. Journals are great ways to ‘go deeper’ but only if you’re prepared to tell yourself the truth! I have burned old journals for breaking that cardinal rule.

What is the most amusing, crazy or inspiring thing that has ever happened to you?

This is probably one for a niche audience. When I attended my brother’s funeral the officiant turned to his coffin and used my name instead. Despite the tragic circumstances, genuinely one of the funniest things I’ve ever witnessed and my brother would have loved it.

You are about to speak publicly to a group and read from your latest book. What song do you listen to before speaking? Or, what do you do to prepare yourself?

If I wanted to feel mellow I’d listen to Chet Baker, but my uplifting song of choice would probably be Rain by The Beatles or My World by Secret Affair. My best preparation would probably be to sit with the audience first.

What do you miss about being a kid?

In a word: innocence and wonder. The feeling that, given the right opportunity, you’re only a few steps away from adventure. I still have the wonder now, of course, but it’s tempered by experience.

If you were trapped in a cartoon world from your childhood, which one would you choose and why?

Top Cat, assuming I’d be part of the gang! They were funny and always getting in and out of scrapes.

If you could turn into one of your characters for a day, which one would it be and why, what would you do? If you write non-fiction or memories, what fictional character would you invite into your story and why?

I’d enjoy being Thomas Bladen, my working-class spy. He has a complicated life but a straightforward way of looking at the world. Plus, I could learn more about his secrets for further books in the series!

What’s the last movie you watched and why did you choose to watch it?

A Woman at War, which is an Icelandic comedy drama about a woman who takes environmentalism to another level! It was recommended by a friend and has the same ‘heart’ as Amelie with humour and a focus on characters and their quirks. But it also has a message about the difference one person can make and in ways they never expected.

A penguin knocks on your door and is wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he there?

He asks me if I have any suntan lotion to spare because he’s lost his wallet.

Do you believe things happen for a reason? 

Yes, but not always for the reason we think when they’re happening. Time can shift our perspective and change our understanding. I think that something momentous can even happen in an instant that then affects us long afterwards, down the years. We tend to think that of experiences in terms of success or failure – we get fired or relationships end, or promises are broken, or opportunities evaporate – but sometimes there’s a seed of ‘something’ in that loss that bears fruit elsewhere and in another form. Writing is a way of making sense out of what has happened to us and giving new life to that seed.

Which of your personality traits has been most useful and why?

The ability to live in my own head!

Tell us about your most recent book.

My most recent book was Flashpoint, the fifth book in the Thomas Bladen Spy Chaser series. It takes place at the time of the 2005 London Bombing, when the capital suffered a series of coordinated terror attacks. It was a tough book to write because what happened in London that day affected so many people. My story follows on from those terrible events and develops plot lines from the previous four novels (they can be read as standalone books but there are overarching plot lines).

We love black and white movies too Derek! It was great to learn more about you and your writing style. Thank you for being a part of MTA! – Camilla

Where to find the book:

UK Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Derek-Thompson/e/B0034ORY08

US Amazon: https://amzn.to/35Jlk3R

Connect with Derek:

Twitter @DerekWriteLines

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Meet the Author: Soul Murmurs by Anita Neilson

Today we travel to the beautiful west coast of Scotland to chat with Anita Neilson. We’ll talk about how knowing 3 modern languages, losing all sense of purpose in life, a pair of buzzards, and a visualization holiday create the flow of Anita’s past and current life. 

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m Anita Neilson and I live in my native Scotland near the beautiful west coast. If you like, why not watch this short video I’ve produced, called My Scotland! I graduated from University (more than a few decades ago!) with 3 modern languages and this allowed me to work and travel a fair bit in Europe before settling down in Scotland to careers in commerce and education.

Here’s a photo of me with my faithful companion Amber, my Labrador retriever, taken in our local park. She follows me absolutely everywhere and is the sweetest soul. I have Fibromyalgia and M.E. (chronic fatigue syndrome) and need to spend most of my time at home due to pain and fatigue.

But this next image is the view from my window and it’s something I never ever tire of. It’s beautiful, right? Most days I see deer, horses and a plethora of dogs taking their owners for walks! It’s so peaceful and a balm for the soul. Living here absolutely helps to heal me – body, mind and soul.

In which genre do you write? How many published books do you have? 

I write mind, body, spirit books. My third book, Soul Murmurs, was released July 26th, 2019 and I think it’s my best one yet. It has a richness and depth to it that develops the more you write. And I love the cover, it’s just perfect. I discovered the artist (Ken Eaton @ Natureworks) online and he was thrilled to have his image on the cover! You can find more of his work here.

My first book, Acts of Kindness from your Armchair, was written during the initial months and years of illness. I had to give up work and had lost all sense of purpose in life. Yet changing focus away from myself and my worries and onto how I might help other people gave me that new purpose. This book is very precious to me and gives lots of practical advice on how we can all do acts of kindness for ourselves and others, regardless of our circumstances. You can find out more, read reviews and purchase Acts of Kindness from your Armchair from your preferred online retailer.

My second book, Rose Petals Floating Downstream is a compilation of spiritual poetry exploring finding the Divine in all aspects of the natural world and within ourselves. It’s beautiful and I often read one of these poems before settling down to meditate!

What is an interesting writing quirk you have, that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography? 

An interesting quirk about how I write is that I often receive what I call “incoming”. This happened especially when I was writing Soul Murmurs. I would be ‘interrupted’ during meditation with words just flowing out of me, repeating over and over, that I knew I had to write down or they would disappear. At other times, I would be dropping off to sleep and the same thing would happen. I would be woken up in the night with words just rushing to come out and be written down! I did grumble a bit about being woken up, but I had a notebook, pen and little torch by my bedside so that I wouldn’t disturb my husband. I can chuckle about this now when I see the scene in my head. And I always, always thanked whatever Source provided these particular nuggets of inspiration.

A couple of years ago, hubby and I were heading up north to the Scottish Highlands for a few days holiday. It was springtime and as I sat taking in the scenery as he drove, I suddenly shouted to him, “Wait, slow down. I’ve got incoming!” The words of the poem Winding Roads were flooding into my mind. Inspiration can strike at any time! You can read the poem here.

What would you choose as your mascot, spirit animal, or avatar and why? 

My spirit animal would be the buzzard. Firstly, because I’m fascinated by birds. I love watching them soar and swoop. They have such freedom. And they provide me with moments of fun as I watch their interactions at the bird feeder in our garden. Secondly, because in the beautiful meadow which frames my view from the house, we have a pair of buzzards who call this their domain. I often see them and hear their eerie calls as they circle far above us.

When I was researching power animals, I was blown away by what was written about the buzzard because it seemed to resonate so strongly with me. The buzzard apparently symbolises the cycle of death and rebirth. It aids in the purification of mind, body and spirit and comes at times of change and transformation, helping you to awaken to your higher possibilities. Wow!

Now here’s what’s spooky about that. My latest book, Soul Murmurs, is arranged around the seasons to echo the eternal cycle of life, death and rebirth. It also tracks my spiritual development throughout the passage of the year and has helped me to realise my higher potential in all areas of my life (as a writer and in all my relationships, including with the Divine). The Buzzard features in the short story in the book, but I don’t want to give too much away. You’ll just have to read it for yourselves!

What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself through writing? 

The most surprising thing I’ve learned about myself through writing is that “I AM GOOD ENOUGH!”. If I could give advice to my younger self (please see my short video, 5 Simple Things) it would be to say ,“You are amazing. You are more than good enough. You don’t have to be perfect so don’t waste your life trying to be.”

What is the most amusing thing that has ever happened to you? 

The most amusing/embarrassing thing to ever happen to me was epic. I had just started my first job, after graduating, as Bilingual Secretary to the European Sales Director of a consumer electronics company. Now they liked to splash the cash a little and the Chairman had decided to rent out a whole castle to celebrate his son’s 21st birthday. All of his employees were invited. I was young, jumpy and nervous, anxious to make a good impression of myself. So first things first, I needed to visit the Ladies (restroom). As I entered, the air was thick with excitement and lots of women were crowding around another woman and excitedly chatting away to her. Of course, I wanted to be part of this excitement so I joined in with the group. Looking down at her swollen belly, I chirped, “Oh, how lovely. When are you due?”

A hush, heavier than an approaching storm, descended on the room, a ‘pregnant’ pause if you like.

“I’m not,” replied the woman, “I’m just fat.” And with this she swept from the Ladies with as much dignity as she could muster. Oh my, the naivety of youth. Boy was I embarrassed as I shuffled into a stall to hide. When I returned to the function room a few minutes later, my boss pulled me aside and said, “Do you know that was the Chairman’s wife you insulted?”

Oh no, I wished the ground would open up and swallow me. Thoughts darted frantically through my mind, “Would I be fired?”, “What would the Chairman say or do?”, “How would I live this down?” The next day the Chairman came up to me at work and with a bellowing laugh, slapped me on the shoulder, exclaiming, “Anita, my wife is going on a diet now thanks to you.” And with that, he left as briskly as he had come. We learn from our mistakes, don’t we, that’s for sure! My motto nowadays is, “If in doubt, keep shut your mouth!”.

If you were trapped in a cartoon world from your childhood, which one would you choose and why?

I LOVE this question Camilla. Well, it’s got to be Mr Benn, my favourite children’s animated programme of the 1970s. Mr Benn was an ordinary English gentleman, dressed in pin-stripe suite and bowler hat. He lived at No. 52 Festive Road. However, Mr Benn had a very surprising ‘other life’ in which he would often visit the Costume Shop in his town. There, he would try on a different costume each time before walking through the second door in the changing room, “the door that always led to adventures”. As he did so, he became the person from the costume and would have an adventure. So, for example, when he tried on the space suit, he became a spaceman; when he tried on the Safari costume, he became a big-game hunter on safari and so on.

I loved this as a child. How rich is the world of our imagination! And for the writer that I am now, I can see why it entranced me so much back then. For isn’t this what we do when we write or read? Each time we open the cover of a book, it is leading us on an adventure, isn’t it? And with each page that we turn, we enter a different world, another life. We can be the characters in the book and live through their experiences with them. There are plenty of episodes of Mr Benn on YouTube. One of my favourites is Mr Benn Spaceman.

Do you believe things happen for a reason? Do you have an example from your own life to share why you believe this? 

I do believe things happen for a reason. I also believe that we have been given free will to make our own choices. There’s quite a tussle going on inside me between pre- and self-determination! I’ve been trying to improve myself spiritually for 5 years, meditating each day, tackling my bad habits and helping others where I can.

Was it pre-determined that I would become chronically ill? I don’t know. Did I cause it myself with my bad habits and living a life too much in the fast lane of adrenaline? I don’t know that either.

What I do know is that illness has been a wonderful blessing for me. It’s given me much more understanding and compassion for other people. It’s stopped me from judging others just by the evidence of my own eyes. It’s made me a kinder person. It’s made me just let go, surrender to God’s will (this is still a work in progress I have to add!). There’s a short extract from the book, called Surrender to the Flow, which sums this up nicely.

Describe the perfect solo date you’d take yourself on … where, time of day, weather, place, etc. 

Let me describe my perfect solo date. It would be a visualization holiday. The idea behind this is that if you are not able to travel for whatever reason, with a little imagination and willpower, you can still give yourself a break. For example, you could take a visualization excursion: look through photographs of a favourite holiday. Then with eyes closed, bring to mind the sights, sounds, smells, places you visited and who you went with. Look back with gratitude and contentment. I often do this if I’m feeling stressed. Try it for yourself! Just taking a few minutes’ out of your day to take yourself on a calming adventure of the imagination or memory will have such a beneficial effect on your physical, emotional and spiritual life. Read my article on just this subject: The Ultimate Staycation.

Tell us about your most recent book. 

Camilla, my latest book is called Soul Murmurs: seasonal words of spiritual wisdom to enlighten the soul.

It was wonderful to learn more about you Anita! Thank you for being a part of MTA! All the best and much love to you! – Camilla

Book Blurb:

“From the author of Acts of Kindness from your Armchair and the uplifting Healing Words blog, comes this new offering for those seeking deeper meaning to life. Soul Murmurs is a must-have collection of poetry and prose imbued with spiritual wisdom from east and west. Each page, resonating with peace and calm, offers comfort and moments of reflection in a fast-moving world.

“I am smitten with the joy and ebullience bubbling through on each page. And the poems! Oh the sweet poems – truly they brought me to That place. It reminds me of reading Rilke.” Mariah McKenzie, author of More.

In this compilation you will discover: meditative verses which speak to the heart and soul; silent cries for longing for meaning; joyful searching for the Divine within and in the wider world; autobiographical vignettes offering insight on aspects of human life that we all experience. Gathered under seasonal headings to echo the eternal cycle of life, each page reverbates with inspiration, spiritual encouragement and suggested action points to uplift the reader throughout the year.”

It published July 26th, 2019 and readers can purchase it from their preferred online retailer.

UK Amazon: https://amzn.to/2oBVAG5

US Amazon: https://amzn.to/2IYpdZ7

Anita Neilson is an author, spiritual poet, blogger, podcaster and YouTube creator in her native Scotland. A graduate in 3 modern languages, she travelled, lived and worked in Europe before careers in business and education in Scotland. She is now a freelance writer, contributing to many mind, body, spirit and chronic illness publications. Her writings centre around the themes of kindness, compassion and leading a positive, spiritual life. She has published 3 books to date. Soul-Murmurs: Seasonal words of spiritual wisdom to enlighten the soul published July 26th, 2019.

Connect with Anita:

https://linktr.ee/healingwordsblog

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To support this website and the author’s interviewed, visit Support MTA for suggestions. Thank you! – Camilla, Founder and Host

Meet the Author: The Man in the Needlecord Jacket by Linda MacDonald

Today we’re traveling to Beckenham in south east London to chat with Linda MacDonald. She will share with us how alter egos, Dead Poets’ Society, nuisance phone calls, a broken wrist, and perseverance play roles in her life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’ve always been quirky on the surface, but my feet are firmly rooted. I’ve two alter egos that have played important roles in my life.

Firstly, my fictional twin sister, Lily May, married to a vet in Cumbria whom she used to get fed up with from time to time. On such occasions she would ‘come to stay’ and swap places with me in my science teaching role at a secondary school in Croydon. Lily would begin by telling the class that Miss MacDonald wouldn’t be in today. I never tired of seeing them suddenly jump to attention, aware that something different was about to happen.

I assured them that I, Lily, was also a trained teacher and we would carry on with the syllabus as normal. I used co-ordinates instead of names so I could ask them questions and reprimand if necessary – (this was in the days when the classes sat in rows). There were only certain groups one could do this with as they had to realise it was a game and play along. The younger children loved it. Lily was a bit crazy, often teaching from on top of a desk in the style of Mr. Keating in Dead Poets’ Society.

One Parents’ Evening, I thought I was in trouble. The mother sat down and said, ‘Danielle told me not to mention Lily …’. I panicked inside and said, ‘You must think I’m absolutely mad.’ She said, ‘I think it’s wonderful, you sound just like me!’ Phew!

My other alter ego is Victoria Falls, poet and gossip columnist, who pinned frivolous poems on the Psychology Departmental notice board at Goldsmiths’ where I was studying for my degree, and wrote satirical pieces about the staff in my first place of work.

I’m proud to be a Cumbrian from Cockermouth, on the edge of the Lake District, but I have lived for the past 34 years in leafy Beckenham in south east London. I’m a woman of a certain age, a Libran, a retired teacher of psychology and science and am very concerned for the future of the planet.

In which genre do you write?

Women’s Fiction with more than a smattering of issues related to relationship psychology.

How many published books do you have?

Four stand alone novels which also form a series.

What is an interesting writing quirk you have, that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography?

I usually begin writing scenes with conversations that I hear in my head. I then work the narrative around them.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve experienced to help create a scene or plot?

After my dad died, I received a series of nuisance phone calls, often waking me up in the middle of the night. They began with silence on the end of the line but quickly developed into threats and abuse. It was a woman and she would say things like, ‘Why were you ringing his phone at 11.40 at night?’ She clearly believed I was having an affair with her partner.

Once I realised it was a case of mistaken identity, I tried to tell her, but she wouldn’t listen and the abuse and threats became worse. I blocked the number but she used another phone. One night, when she woke me after midnight, I tried again to reason with her and after swearing at me, she hung up. I dialed 1471 and this time she’d forgotten to withhold the number. I called back and was diverted to answerphone.

The message was the voice of a man – a supermarket delivery driver. Then the penny dropped. After my dad’s death, and to coincide with my return home, I had placed an order for a late night delivery which had become stuck in the warehouse and the driver had called me to say it was going to be delivered even later. When it hadn’t arrived by 11.40 p.m., I tried to call back, but there was no answer and I hung up. Needless to say, this time I left a stern message.

There were no more calls. I try to use bad personal experiences in my novels and this one provided the inspiration for the stalking theme in The Alone Alternative. Truth is often stranger than fiction.

At this stage in your life, what advice would your young self give to your more mature self?

‘Remember you always wanted to change people’s lives with your writing? Don’t give up trying to spread the word about your books.’

Do you believe things happen for a reason? Do you have an example from your own life to share why you believe this?

In 2009, I broke my wrist badly (tripping over a classroom chair) and required an operation to fit a metal plate. This happened on the eve of London’s icy spell, and my operation was delayed for a week by the urgent need to treat people with injuries from falls and RTAs that threatened life or limb. It reminded me of the fragility of our existence, the shortage of time (I was by this time 53) and decided to publish independently my novel Meeting Lydia which I had been writing since 2001.

The wrist break and subsequent stress, followed the next year by the death of my father and yet more illness and stress, led to my having a breakdown in 2011. I was then compelled to take early retirement in 2012, even though I had originally planned to teach at least until I was 58. But for these unwelcome life events I wouldn’t now have 4 books published.

Which of your personality traits has been most useful and why?

Discipline and perseverance. When I commit to a task and create my own deadlines, I am very good at sticking to my schedule. This is very beneficial to a writer.

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on both books 5 and 6, two new standalones which also carry on the lives of some of the characters in my previous books. Book 6 was originally book 5, but has since moved up a slot as I have an idea for a novella that has persisted in telling me it wants to come next. It’s early days, but is beginning to take shape.

Tell us about your most recent book and where we can find it.

The Man in the Needlecord Jacket is about the depth of pain and damage that an emotional betrayal causes and the grey area of psychological abuse. It is written in the first person from the perspectives of two women in the life of an artist called Coll who is a womaniser and something of a narcissist. The reader knows exactly what’s going on but both women are kept in the dark until the dramatic dénouement. It’s the fourth standalone novel in a series.

It was incredibly interesting learning more about you, your background, and your writing life. Thank you, Linda for being a part of MTA! – Camilla

The Man in the Needlecord Jacket – Blurb

Felicity is struggling to detach from her failed marriage. When she meets Coll, a charismatic artist, she has high hopes of being distracted. What she doesn’t know is that he has a partner, Sarah.

Sarah is deeply in love with Coll, but his controlling behaviour and associations with other women have always made her life difficult. When Coll becomes obsessed with Felicity, Sarah’s world collapses and a series of events is set in motion that will challenge the integrity of all the characters involved.

The Man in the Needlecord Jacket is a story of emotional betrayal and mental abuse – never clear-cut and always destructive.

Where to find the book:

It can be found widely online as an eBook and also in paperback.

US Amazon: https://amzn.to/2pi0nwn

UK Amazon: https://amzn.to/2BeSvy9

Earlier books in the series may be found here: https://author.to/Lydia

Connect with Linda:

Social Media Links:

https://www.facebook.com/LindaMacDonaldAuthor/

Twitter: @LindaMac1

Author news and reviews at Troubador Publishing: https://www.troubador.co.uk/bookshop/contemporary/the-man-in-the-needlecord-jacket/

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Meet the Author: The Orange Grove by Kate Murdoch

Today we’re traveling to Melbourne, Australia to chat with Kate Murdoch. We’ll talk about how a secret desire, a dream about a vivid character, painting, tenacity, and tarot cards come together as part of Kate’s background and her writing life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m an artist turned writer living in Melbourne, Australia.

In which genre do you write?

I write historical fiction.

How many published books do you have?

Two

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

I’d always had a secret desire to write a novel and had written stories since I was a child. However, I was swept up in various careers along the way, mainly as a visual artist, but also as a graphic designer. It wasn’t until after my children were born and I had reached a pivotal moment in my art career, that the impetus to finish a novel came. I had a dream about a vivid character and began to write about him. Eight months later I had the first draft of a supernatural thriller. I never looked back.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

It would be a couch with a lap desk, looking out to the sea. There would be potted plants around the room, paintings, scented candles and a blazing fire. A small dog would be nuzzled up next to me as I worked.

What are you currently reading?

Imperfect, by Lee Kofman. It’s a book about people who have scars or other imperfections, and how this influences their sense of self, along with the way they interact with the wider world. The author’s honesty and candor, along with her astute observations, make this a wonderful read.

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

I paint, read, travel, lunch with friends, spend time with my family, and keep up my yoga/pilates/running.

What do you miss about being a kid?

Unlimited time to be creative along with the lack of inhibitions and self-doubt in my creativity. I miss the feeling of unlimited possibilities.

Do you believe things happen for a reason? Do you have an example from your own life to share why you believe this?

Yes, I do. It’s played out in my life in a number of ways. One example is the fact that I came to writing after a career in painting. I feel that being an artist prepared me, in a much gentler way, for being a writer. In both professions, you have to put yourself on the line, because what you create is so personal. Yet in writing, there’s a lot more self-disclosure surrounding this. In coming to writing later, I had time to win and lose, try and fail and become accustomed to being visible in the arts.

Which of your personality traits has been most useful and why?

I’m tenacious and determined – I rarely give up when something is important to me. Many things I value in my life have materialized as a result of this trait.

What’s your favorite place to visit in your country and why?

Port Douglas, Queensland. It’s full of intensely-coloured tropical plants, it’s very warm and the people are relaxed and friendly. It has style and also a spiritual heart – you can buy designer clothing, have a reiki session, then amble along Five Mile Beach at sunset, listening to the roar of the waves.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve done or experienced to help create a scene or plot?

I taught myself to read tarot cards so that I’d be able to write the tarot reading scenes in The Orange Grove. Initially, I was sceptical, but now use them regularly to guide me.

You are about to speak publicly to a group and read from your latest book. What song do you listen to before speaking? Or, what do you do to prepare yourself?

I do a number of things because I do feel anxious about public speaking. I meditate, listen to binaural beats and read through my notes at length. I find it’s getting slightly easier and I hope the nerves continue to lessen.

Tell us about your most recent book.

The Orange Grove is about the rivalries and intrigues of mistresses in 18th century France. Henriette d’Augustin lives in the chateau of the Duc d’Amboise with four other mistresses. When the duchesse undermines a new mistress, Henriette is forced to choose between morality and position.

It was wonderful learning more about you Kate. Your ideal reading space sounds nearly identical to mine. I also love that your taught yourself to read tarot cards for The Orange Grove, and that you continue to use them! Thank you for being a part of MTA! –Camilla

Book Blurb for The Orange Grove:

Blois, 1705. The chateau of Duc Hugo d’Amboise simmers with rivalry and intrigue.

Henriette d’Augustin, one of five mistresses of the duc, lives at the chateau with her daughter. When the duc’s wife, Duchesse Charlotte, maliciously undermines a new mistress, Letitia, Henriette is forced to choose between position and morality. She fights to maintain her status whilst targeted by the duchesse who will do anything to harm her enemies.

The arrival of charismatic tarot reader, Romain de Villiers, further escalates tensions as rivals in domestic politics and love strive for supremacy.

In a society where status is a matter of life and death, Henriette must stay true to herself, her daughter, and her heart, all the while hiding a painful secret of her own.

Where to find the book:

Available online and in bookstores.

UK Amazon: https://amzn.to/2VEXbqx

US Amazon: https://amzn.to/2OL6WlO

Kate Murdoch is the author of Stone CircleShe exhibited widely as a painter both in Australia and internationally before turning her hand to writing. In between writing historical fiction, she enjoys writing short stories and flash fiction.

Her short-form fiction has been published in various literary journals in Australia, UK, US and Canada.

Stone Circle is a historical fantasy novel set in Renaissance Italy. It was released by Fireship Press December 1st 2017. Stone Circle was a First in Category winner in the Chaucer Awards 2018 for pre-1750’s historical fiction.

Kate has been awarded a KSP Fellowship at the KSP Writers’ Centre in 2019 to develop her third novel, The Glasshouse.

Her novel, The Orange Grove, about the passions and intrigues of court mistresses in 18th century France, was published by Regal House Publishing in 2019.

Connect with Kate:

Website: https://katemurdochauthor.com/

Blog: https://kabiba.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/katemurdochauthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KateMurdoch3

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com.au/katemurdoch73/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/katemurdoch2/

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Meet the Author: Awakening from Anxiety: A Spiritual Guide to Living a More Calm, Confident, Courageous Life by Rev. Connie Habash

Today we’re traveling to Menlo Park, California to chat with Connie Habash. We’ll talk about how The Golden State Warriors, being a licensed Marriage and Family therapist, sitting in the garden, and Mount Shasta integrate into Connie’s life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m Rev. Connie L. Habash – a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, yoga teacher, and interfaith minister based in Menlo Park, CA. My new book is Awakening from Anxiety: A Spiritual Guide to Living a More Calm, Confident, and Courageous Life. I lead workshops, trainings, and retreats around the San Francisco Bay Area, and online programs worldwide, in addition to my local counseling practice. Teaching and leading retreats that integrate body, mind, heart, spirit, and nature is my passion!

In which genre do you write?

Spirituality and Self-Help

How many published books do you have?

This is my first!

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

It was in the late 1990’s that I had the urge to write – but I knew I wasn’t a great writer. I needed to learn more about how to convey my insights into compelling written word, even though I seemed to have a knack for speaking them. So I undertook a commitment to write every month by starting a monthly newsletter! Almost every month since September of 2000, I have written at least one article, which became my blog. All that practice, together with having a couple awesome writing coaches over the years has nurtured my craft into something I’m proud of.

What is an interesting writing quirk you have, that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography?

Most people would never guess that a “spiritual” person like me would enjoy (American) football and basketball – but I do! I find a lot of inspiration and insight from watching athletes and the cultural rituals of attending games and cheering for teams. In fact, I’m a Golden State Warriors fan, and wrote an article about several spiritual principles that I believe they exemplify.

I think attending sports meets a need we have – to have a common cause, to go through a challenging trial and see someone victorious, and to push past our limitations and allow something greater to emerge from within us. I don’t care for the violence in some of those sports, but I believe that can be changed and we can retain some of the cultural rituals that bring people together through athletics.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

I have written in many different spaces – cafés, my daughter’s dance studio, outside in my backyard, in my car, and of course, at my desk in my home office. That and sitting outdoors somewhere in nature are my favorite places for inspiration (but I much prefer when my desk is cleared off!). I like having things of beauty around me, which is part of why being outdoors fills me so much – for my writing, and on all levels.

What are you currently reading?

What the Robin Knows by Jon Young, and Ask and You Shall Receive by Abraham-Hicks

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

Collapse into bed! Seriously, though, I love sitting outside in the garden. I watch the birds, listen to their calls, observe other animals, feel the breeze on my skin, and connect with the plants and trees. It renews me and makes me feel connected to the Everything.

You are about to speak publicly to a group and read from your latest book. What song do you listen to before speaking? Or, what do you do to prepare yourself?

I’d put on Brave by Sara Bareilles. I love that song! It makes me feel joyful and empowered! But usually, I simply sit quietly, say a prayer, and align myself with the Divine. I ask that my thoughts, words, and actions support each person’s highest good, deepest healing, and greatest spiritual transformation. I do this before I see clients and lead groups, too.

What do you miss about being a kid?

Miss? I’m still a kid! 😉 I feel that our child-self is a vital part of who we are, the source of our joy, creativity, spontaneity, and aliveness. So I’m very much in touch with that part of myself. I think the only thing I miss is the lack of pressure, the ability to just play and not have to worry about promoting books or paying bills!

A penguin knocks on your door and is wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he there?

Hola, mi amiga! Have you gotten outside to play yet today? Come with me, and let’s slide on some icebergs!

Do you believe things happen for a reason? Do you have an example from your own life to share why you believe this?

I always believe that things happen for a reason. But not necessarily a reason ordained by some Being in the sky. I feel that everything in life is an opportunity – one that we chose to learn from or not. It’s up to us to decide the reasons why we experience what we do. What can I learn and how can I grow from this? It may not have happened specifically because of that, but I can bring meaning to whatever arises, and therefore life becomes transformative and beautiful.

What’s your favorite place to visit in your country and why?

I have two favorite places here in the United States, where I live (although there are many others that I love!). One is Mount Shasta – a sacred place in northern California. It’s an extinct volcano with incredible beauty (pristine alpine lakes, springs, and meadows) and powerful spiritual energy. The other is Sedona, Arizona. The stunning red rock formations and the elevated energy also deeply move me. My husband and I recently took our daughter there for the first time in the spring, and she fell in love with it!

Tell us about your most recent book.

It’s very exciting to have my first book out in print! It’s called Awakening from Anxiety: A Spiritual Guide to Living a More Calm, Confident, Courageous Life. It’s for spiritual and highly-sensitive people who, despite all the yoga, prayer, or meditation they might do, still struggle with stress, overwhelm, and anxiety. Spiritual folks are more prone to anxiety and I share why – and more importantly, the 7 keys to releasing it and using stress and anxiety for spiritual awakening!  If you’re interested in my online program based on the book, you can find out more at https://www.AwakeningfromAnxiety.com

Where to find the book:

You can find it on Amazon, or order it at a bookstore near you.

US Amazon: https://amzn.to/33kyBhh

UK Amazon:  https://amzn.to/33vsdUL

Connect with Connie:

https://www.AwakeningSelf.com

https://www.facebook.com/AwakeningSelf

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Meet the Author: The Fabulous Life of Patrina Fletcher by Grahame Peace

Today we travel to Huddersfield in West Yorkshire in the UK to chat with Grahame Peace. We’ll talk about how the fashion industry, mental health services, a garden room, a 17th century Manor house, the Balenciaga Museum in Spain, and the Thunderbirds are chapters in the story of Grahame Peace.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I was born in Huddersfield in West Yorkshire in the UK in 1958. Historically it was famous as a textile town, but it’s now a University Town, it’s also the birth place of the late Hollywood film star James Mason and the late UK Prime Minster Harold Wilson.

I worked for many years in Mental Health Services, my background is nursing. I retired six years ago, and that’s when I started to write on a full time basis, up to that point most of my writing had been for work reports and academic assignments.

I’ve always had a huge interest in the high end fashion industry, I wanted to make fashion my career, but young working class men from the North of England sadly did not do fashion in the early 1970s when I left school. So I drifted into nursing, but fashion has always been important in my life and it has a way of creeping into my books, in fact, I’ve written two books in a genre I call ‘Fashion Fiction’ and I’m currently working on my third.

In which genre do you write?

My main genre is humour, but as I’ve already said I write what I call ‘Fashion Fiction’, along with paranormal-historical-mysteries, and fantasy, I’ve written a series of books (5 to date) called The Ghost from the Molly-House, the latest book in the series has recently come out on Amazon, The Mystery at Winterburn Manor. In these books I mix historical fact with fantasy.

How many published books do you have?

I have eight books out at the moment on Amazon:

The Beauty Room

The Ghost from the Molly House

The Jasper Claxton Mysteries

The Pluckley Psychic Historical Society

The Psychic Agency

A Journey into Fashion (The Dressing Room)

The Mystery at Winterburn Manor

The Fabulous Life of Patrina Fletcher

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

I’ve always enjoyed writing and telling stories, but as I’ve already said, most of my writing have been for work reports and academic assignments, I enjoyed doing them, and thought I had a story to tell, based on my home town of Huddersfield and some of my life experiences, so it all started from there. It’s been a huge learning curve and I’m still learning, I’m sure I’ll never stop learning the craft of writing.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

We do have an office at home, but I have my writing chair in our garden room, you’ll find me there most days working away on a new book or idea. Somedays I might only write a paragraph, while other days I might do six pages. I also do a lot of historical research for my books, which is often very time consuming, it’s amazing how quickly the hours pass once I get engrossed in a new book and project.

What are you currently reading?

I’ve just finished The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, the original 1890 version, which I enjoyed. I’m currently reading The Stylist by Rosie Nixon, it has a strong fashion theme and is amusing, I like to be entertained, as a writer I read many different genres of books, but I don’t like anything too dark or violent.

List 3 interesting facts about yourself.

I’m stubborn

I’m a perfectionist

As I get older I cry easily

Where did the idea for your two most recent book come from?

The idea for my new book ‘The Fabulous Life of Patrina Fletcher‘, came as I was writing my book ‘The Psychic Agency‘, which is book four in my ‘Ghost from the Molly-House‘ series. She appears in the tale and I liked her character so much I decided I needed to tell her amusing story, so that’s what I’ve done, it’s in the genre of satire and a Romantic Comedy.

The Mystery at Winterburn Manor is the fifth book in The Ghost from the Molly-House series, the stories are about a time-travelling ghost called Jasper Claxton, he’s great fun and has all sorts of spiritual powers and a wicked sense of humour. Because the books cover different time periods, I’ve developed a different cast of characters, and in this story, I wanted to bring them all together. It’s set in the present day and all starts with a grave covered in strange symbols found in a graveyard in the grounds of a 17th century Manor house in Wiltshire in England, and the story unfolds with quite a few twists and turns.

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

I like reading, good food and wine, the theatre, art, the cinema, and travelling. Because I like fashion, I’ve visited many couture exhibitions and fashion museums around the world.

If you could have a fantasy tea or coffee date with an author or famous person from the past or present, who would it be and what would you ask them?

That’s easy it would be with the late Spanish couturier Christobal Balenciaga, he was described as the couturier’s couturier, he was admired by Hubert de Givenchy and Chanel, Dior called him the master of us all. I would want to know all about his life, his inspiration and creative process. I’ve visited the Balenciaga Museum in Spain, I was allowed to have the whole place to myself after it had closed, it was eerie, but amazing. It was a 60 birthday present from my family and I loved it.

What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself through writing?

I’m not sure I learned anything surprising, other than I love writing and wish I had started doing it much sooner.

What is the most enjoyable thing you’ve found through writing?

Because I do so much historical research, it’s been an education, but I’ve always liked history. But I’ve also learned a lot about the devil, demons, and the occult! I dread to think what someone might imagine if they looked at my internet search history.

What is the most crazy thing that has ever happened to you?

Well, I worked in Mental Health for 36 years, I don’t wish to sound disrespectful, but there were many, far too many to mention here. I’m grateful for the experience, it taught me a great deal about ‘life’, admittedly it was often a darker side of life, but it made me appreciate many things in my own life, and count my many blessings.

You are about to speak publicly to a group and read from your latest book. What song do you listen to before speaking? 

I like the song Sanvean by Sarah Brightman, it’s very spiritual and reminds me of my wonderful late mother Jean who is always with me.

What do you miss about being a kid?

Nothing, I had an unhappy childhood, it’s a time in my life I would never want to revisit, but again it taught me some valuable ‘life’ lessons.

At this stage in your life, what advice would your young self give to your more mature self?

Believe in your self and follow your instincts, my biggest regret in life is that I didn’t fight harder to follow a career in fashion.

If you were trapped in a cartoon world from your childhood, which one would you choose and why?

I used to like the puppet series Thunderbirds, the super heroes winning the day with all their amazing machines, and I liked the aristocratic Lady Penelope character.

If you could turn into one of your characters for a day, which one would it be and why, what would you do? 

It would have to be Jasper Claxton, my time travelling ghost, I could travel back in time to any historic place and event and meet the great historic figures.

What’s the last movie you watched and why did you choose to watch it?

It was the documentary ‘Strike a Pose’ about Madonna’s Blond Ambition Tour. I’d often wondered what happened to the key dancers from that show. In some ways, I’m sorry to say their lives turned out as I’d expected, they had their ’15 minutes of fame’ and struggled to repeat that moment of success.

What I found really interesting were their fears and insecurities, they were all putting on an act, none of them daring to admit that to each other, it was all fake as one of them says. However, at the end, one of them sums it all up, they were given a great opportunity, what happened after that was down to them, but it was always going to be much harder for them as dancers, than the superstar Madonna who just moved onto the next big thing and greater success. Sadly youth doesn’t last very long, and there’s always some younger or trendy person eagerly waiting in the wings.

What’s your favorite place to visit in your country and why?

I like the up-market historic Town of York, it’s so well preserved going back to the ancient Roman times, it has some original quirky shops, restaurants, and bars, it’s a lovely part of the country with a great atmosphere, and they have wonderful outdoor markets, particularly at Christmas time, it’s like stepping back in time.

What are you currently working on?

I’m now working on my sixth book in my ‘Ghost from the Molly-House‘ series, it’s called ‘The Siren’s Call‘ and is set in 1936 in Cornwall, England, and is about the legend of a mermaid.

I am truly inspired by Grahame, that he is now writing and incorporating his heart’s passion into his books. Beautiful story and interview. Thanks for joining us Grahame! – Camilla

The Fabulous Life of Patrina Fletcher:

Any publicity is better than no publicity – isn’t it? – Welcome to the world of Patrina Fletcher.

Patrina Fletcher loves her job at the Gary Day Celebrity Hair and Beauty Salon in Mayfair London, a place frequented by the rich and famous, well-heeled, and uber stylish, where there’s never a dull moment or fashion faux pas.

When she literally bumps into Simon Fletcher, a young, handsome multi-millionaire playboy, it quickly leads to an invitation to the BAFTA film awards in London, and Patrina suddenly finds herself in all the gossip columns, with invitations to a string of high-profile social events.

She needs help, and she needs it fast, step forward the owner of a cosmetics empire and a high society magazine editor, and before she knows it, everyone wants to know about her fabulous five-star life.

Patrina starts a blog, quickly developing a massive following on social media, which catches the attention of a high-profile TV producer who offers Patrina her own reality TV show. And before you can say ‘haute couture’ her fabulous life captures everyone’s interest. Can Patrina keep her head and feet on the ground? But more importantly, what will she wear?

The Mystery at Winterburn Manor:

A grave covered in strange symbols, in the grounds of a 17th century Manor, what could it mean?

Winterburn Manor is a 17th-century house and one of the oldest Manor houses in England. It has stood empty for over 25 years and is now owned by the famous water-colour artist Elspeth Potter. She has been painstakingly renovating the house for the past four years but has only recently moved into the property, living there alone.

All Elspeth knows about the house’s history is that it was built for the wealthy Evesham family, most of whom are buried in the church graveyard in the grounds of the Manor. The last owner of the house was the famous author Edmund Williams, a specialist in world religions who wrote gruesome horror stories; he’s also buried in the graveyard.

Elspeth doesn’t believe in ghosts but finds it hard to explain what she hears and sees at the Manor. Strange symbols have been etched onto some of the wood panelled walls, and objects and furniture move on their own during the night. The symbols have also been found on Edmund Williams headstone, what could it all mean?

Elspeth is convinced that something evil is lurking at the Manor, and it’s hiding a dark secret. She calls in The Psychic Agency, a group of psychic investigators, and the clock starts ticking as they try to unravel a decades-old mystery before they all become Winterburn Manor’s next victims.

Meet Jasper a time-travelling super-ghost with a sense of humour, in these eerie, historic, amusing, paranormal stories. The Ghost from the Molly-House is a collection of amusing, paranormal-historical-mysteries, which will appeal to fans of antiquity, period detective novels, tales of haunted houses, and all things that go bump in the night. Although this is the fifth book in the series, the novel can be enjoyed as a stand-alone story in its own right.

Grahame Peace’s books can be found worldwide on Amazon.

https://www.amazon.com/Grahame-Peace/e/B00JNA07HE/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Connect with Grahame:

FaceBook https://www.facebook.com/gpeaceauthor/?modal=admin_todo_tour

Twitter https://twitter.com/GrahamePeace

Website https://www.grahamepeaceauthor.com/homegpeace/search

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/grahamepeaceauthor/?hl=en

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Meet the Author: Fear in the Lakes by Graham Smith

Today we’re traveling to the outskirts of Gretna Green, Scotland to chat with Graham Smith. We’ll talk about how weddings, dialogue tags, Alistair MacLean, getting thrown out of a church, and the Simpsons come together as part of Graham’s life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a hotel and wedding venue manager on the outskirts of Gretna Green. I’ve been writing for eight years and am a time-served joiner.

In which genre do you write?

I write at the gritty end of crime fiction.

How many published books do you have?

At the time of writing I have twelve books published.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

I tossed so many books across the room muttering that I could do better myself that it became time to put my money where my mouth was. Once I started writing, I found that I loved it.

What is an interesting writing quirk you have, that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography?

I am not a fan of dialogue tags such as “said”, “asked” or “replied” and to date I have written over a million words without using one.

What would you choose as your mascot, spirit animal, or avatar and why?

I’d chose a faithful old lab. Man’s best friend has earned that title for a reason.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

It would look like the library in a country house. There’d be a big desk, an internet connection, a radio and a kettle.

What are you currently reading?

Deadland by William Shaw. I’ve only just started it so haven’t yet formed an opinion, but what I have read so far has been excellent.

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

I enjoy watching football and spending time with my son.

If you could have a fantasy tea or coffee date with an author or famous person from the past or present, who would it be and what would you ask them?

I’m lucky enough to have met most of my writing heroes, but I think I would have to choose Alistair MacLean and ask him about the Russian convoys.

What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself through writing?

I think the answer to this would have to be how wrapped up in the story I get. If I’m writing an argument, my jaw clenches to the point where it physically aches and I can get emotive when I’m putting my characters through emotional distress.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve done or experienced to help create a scene or plot?

I once managed to get myself thrown out of a church while conducting research. I got talking to one of the priest’s helpers and they showed me the back rooms of the church and there was a safe that was six foot high by three foot deep and wide. I stupidly asked what they kept in there and the helpers stopped answering my questions and started crowding me out of the door. I realised my faux pas, apologised and left without pressing the matter further.

Do you journal write or keep a personal diary? 

I have never kept a journal or diary.

What is the most inspiring thing that has ever happened to you?

Becoming an international best-seller despite twice failing my English exams. I have also been quoted on the websites of New York Times best-sellers when reviewing their books which is fantastically cool.

You are about to speak publicly to a group and read from your latest book. What do you do to prepare yourself?

I would focus on practising reading the passage aloud and making sure I didn’t come across as a terrible public speaker.

What do you miss about being a kid?

The family members who’re sadly no longer still around.

If you were trapped in a cartoon world from your childhood, which one would you choose and why?

The Simpsons so I could join Homer for a beer or two at Moes.

If you could turn into one of your characters for a day, which one would it be and why, what would you do? 

I’d be Jake Boulder, as he’s all the things I’m not. I’d probably do what he does best which is fight for justice.

What’s the last movie you watched and why did you choose to watch it?

It was called Breakers and it was on late at night when my family had gone to bed and I watched it because there wasn’t anything else on and I couldn’t be bothered to go upstairs and get my book. (I really really wish I had made the effort to get the book.)

A penguin knocks on your door and is wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he there?

“I bet you’re wondering how I knocked on your door, why I am wearing a sombrero and how I can speak aren’t you? Well, if you tell me who the killer is in Fear in the Lakes, I’ll answer your questions.”

Do you believe things happen for a reason? 

Life is very much about what you make of it. If you have a positive attitude, good things are more likely to happen to you than if you have a negative one.

If you could ask your pet three questions, what would they be?

These but only if said in a mushy and patronising way.

Who’s a good boy?

Are you a good boy?

You’re a good boy, aren’t you?

Which of your personality traits has been most useful and why?

I am a workaholic and this really helps me balance writing with my day job and family life.

What’s your favorite place to visit in your country and why?

Home, because there’s nowhere better.

Describe the perfect solo date you’d take yourself on … where, time of day, weather, place, etc

It’d be a sunny day, I’d be at a quiet country pub which served great but simple food. I’d be sitting in the beer garden with a good book and the sun on my back.

It was great to learn more about you Graham. Thanks much for being a part of MTA. –Camilla

Book blurb

Detective Beth Young traced the body in her mind… His skull wasn’t harmed and neither was his spine… as if someone wanted him to survive only to experience the utmost suffering.

When Laura Sinclair arrives home, she is horrified to discover her sweet, kind, husband James close to death. But this is no robbery gone wrong. There are over 200 breaks to his bones, each apparently applied carefully, symmetrically, methodically…

Laura insists that James is a man with no enemies. But how much does she know about her husband? And what secrets are hidden in the email account she discovers, filled with cryptic messages?

When two bodies are then pulled from Lake Windermere exhibiting similar injuries – it becomes clear that the killer they are calling the Sculptor is on a mission.

But Detective Beth Young is too. She knows that if she can work out the secrets of James’s past, she has a chance of locating The Sculptor’s next victim… and maybe the killer too.

More about Graham:

Graham Smith is a time served joiner who has built bridges, houses, dug drains and slated roofs to make ends meet. Since Christmas 2000, he has been manager of a busy hotel and wedding venue near Gretna Green, Scotland.

He is an internationally best-selling Kindle author and has six books featuring DI Harry Evans and the Cumbrian Major Crimes Team, and three novels, featuring Utah doorman, Jake Boulder. His latest series features DC Beth Young and after the first in the series, Death in the Lakes, was released to critical acclaim, Fear in the Lakes was highly anticipated before its July release.

An avid fan of crime fiction since being given one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books at the age of eight, he has also been a regular reviewer and interviewer for the well-respected website Crimesquad.com since 2009.

Graham is the founder of Crime and Publishment, a weekend of crime-writing classes which includes the chance for attendees to pitch their novels to agents and publishers. Since the first weekend in 2013, ten attendees have gone on to sign publishing contracts.

Where to find the book:

Fear in the Lakes – https://geni.us/B07RFRDCT7Cover

Connect with Graham:

Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/grahamnsmithauthor

Twitter
https://twitter.com/GrahamSmith1972

Website
www.grahamsmithauthor.com

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Meet the Author: Purr-fectly Home by Kimberly Palmucci

Today we welcome Kimberly Palmucci to Meeting the Authors as we travel to New England. We’ll talk about how pink glitter lipstick, ice hockey, shelter pets, being a freelance reporter, and Glacier National Park play a role in Kimberly’s life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I have been described as a walking oxymoron. You will find me at most of my book signings with bold pink glitter lipstick and a Venti Strawberry Acai from Starbucks, but I also play ice hockey and listen to heavy metal music. I play piano, but can’t read music. I was told in journalism school to always remain unbiased when covering a story for the news, but often found myself crying while conducting interviews on heart-breaking stories. I believe we are who we are and should never apologize for being ourselves.

In which genre do you write?

Picture story books and soon, narrative nonfiction!

How many published books do you have?

I currently have three books in the Purr-fectly series published and am working on my next project.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

I have always been passionate about helping shelter pets, but truly committed myself to the cause when I adopted my cat, Meesta. He is funny, smart, loving, strong, and perfect in every way—and he has three legs. He was passed up in the shelter simply because he is different, and I was inspired to write my books to share a narrative of positivity about shelter pets and celebrate all the qualities that make us unique and amazing.

What would you choose as your mascot, spirit animal, or avatar and why?

If you looked around my house at all the cat paraphernalia, cat T-shirts, cat jewelry accessories, and cat home décor, you’d assume I would answer “cat” to this question. But my answer, much to everyone’s surprise, is…cat. Quite shocking, I know. I absolutely love cats. They are feisty and independent, but so loving and affectionate (only when they choose to be). I love all animals, but there’s something about receiving love from a cat that is ultra-special—they could be anywhere else they want, doing anything else they want, and yet they choose to spend time with the ones they love. This is how I feel about myself; I’ve reached a point in my life where I feel wildly independent and free, with myself and my career, yet my favorite place to be is with my husband and family.

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

I am a freelance reporter in addition to being an author, so I spend a majority of my time writing.

When I’m not writing, though, you’ll find me visiting my parents’ shepherd mix puppies, shopping at my new favorite home décor store, reading my brother’s books (he is an author as well), or taking my daily walk down our extremely long dirt driveway through the woods to the mailbox.

What is the most enjoyable thing you’ve found through writing?

Writing is cathartic for me. I write to express myself and connect readers to narratives of positivity. But the best part of this whole process for me has been when readers share their own stories, or tell me that my books inspired them in any way. I gravitated toward reporting and authorship for the same reason—because I believe we each have beautiful and unique stories to share, and it’s my job to share those stories. I tell all of my readers—you matter, your voice matters, and you can inspire others through your words.

At this stage in your life, what advice would your young self give to your more mature self?

Be you, girl. Your imperfections make you perfect. Don’t spend any time focusing on the negativity in this world; choose kindness and positivity, but be fierce and stand up for yourself when it matters. Be confident and bold in your decisions and love yourself completely. Try to read positive intent in situations; don’t apologize when it’s not necessary. When you find that peace within your own mind, you will begin to attract the kinds of people who constantly build you up and make you the best version of yourself. And leave your eyebrows alone.

If you could ask your pet three questions, what would they be?

1. Is there anything under the couch that I’ve lost?

2. Would you mind not standing on me at 4:00 a.m. aggressively meowing for food? Or is that non-negotiable?

3. Did it hurt when you fell from Heaven, my purr-fect angel kitties?

Which of your personality traits has been most useful and why?

Most definitely my sense of humor. My mom thinks I’m the funniest person in the world and laughs at all my jokes. Thanks, mom, you’re the real hero.

Describe the perfect solo date you’d take yourself on … where, time of day, weather, place, etc.

Well, this may be avoiding the question completely, but I would choose a date with my husband, Dominick, any day over a solo date. Don’t get me wrong, I love my “me” time at home with the cats, self-reflecting, and binge watching re-runs of Law and Order: SVU, but I’d still choose him, every time. A perfect date would be: hiking a trail called Scenic Point at Glacier National Park in Montana on a beautiful, sunny day in late June. Temperatures are higher than average, a heat wave bringing a scorching day to the towns below us, but on top of the mountain that sits 7,500 feet above sea level, there’s a crisp breeze that calls for us to pull out the jackets we have stuffed in our bags. Ideal circumstances include just me and him sitting together, no one else around as far as the eye can see, eating snacks, him making me laugh as he always does, looking down at the world around us wondering how it’s possible to feel this free and this in love. He’s my breath of fresh air.

What are you currently working on?

I decided after the Purr-fectly series that I wanted to write something a bit different than picture story books. I absolutely love the lyrical way I am able to write with my picture books, but I have heard so many beautiful stories on my journey from others, specifically animal adoption stories. I am currently writing a narrative nonfiction book that shares a compilation of true and inspirational adoption stories.

Tell us about your most recent book.

My latest published work is Purr-fectly Home, which is the sequel to my first book, Purr-fectly Lucky, and the third book in the Purr-fectly series. The book follows Lucky years after he was adopted…and a new friend who comes into his life! I was inspired to write this story after we adopted our second three-legged cat, Princess. She was initially a shy, timid little girl who had a rough start, but she blossomed within a week into an outgoing, independent, loving member of our family. All she needed was a little love, and Meesta immediately fell in love with her, too. They became best friends almost instantaneously—he even took her on a tour of the house after they first met. I was so inspired by this bond that I had to write a sequel.

I truly loved this interview so very much. Anyone who knows me will understand why. Having a child with a disability, this topic is close to my heart and am deeply moved that Kimberly is raising awareness of differences in our pets. My son, Thomas, and I volunteer at The Nevada Humane Society (which is a no-kill shelter). His favorite section to be? The cats. Thank you Kimberly for being a part of MTA. Here’s wishing you much success! –Camilla

Blurb for Purr-fectly Home:

Lucky is purr-fectly happy with his family in a cozy house in the middle of the woods, but he doesn’t realize something is missing until a new friend comes into his life. Purr-fectly Home is inspired by the true story of Meesta and Princess, two three-legged cats who formed an immediate and inseparable bond. Their adventures together help each of them overcome fears and discover hidden strengths, and their journey proves that anything is possible with a new friend at your side.

Kimberly’s books can be found and purchased on her Amazon author page

Connect with Kimberly:

Instagram and Facebook @kimberlypalmucci

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Meet the Author: Finding Rose by Julie Ryan

Today we welcome Julie Ryan to Meeting the Authors. We’re headed to rural Gloucestershire to talk about what a degree in French Language and Literature, the Greek Isles, chocolate, the local amateur dramatic society, and Robin Hood mean to Julie.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My roots are in a small mining village in South Yorkshire, England. After a degree in French Language and Literature, wanderlust kicked in and I lived and worked in France, Poland, Thailand and Greece. My spirit enriched, my imagination fired, I started a series of mystery romances; thrillers set in the Greek Isles.

In which genre do you write?

I write the kind of books I enjoy reading. As I love thrillers, romance, mystery and historical novels my books don’t fit neatly into any genre. My first three books have been described as ‘ not quite thrillers, not quite chick-lit’ and my latest book is a historical novel told from a contemporary viewpoint.

How many published books do you have?

Three in the Greek Island Mystery series, a Christmas rom-com and a historical novel.

What would you choose as your mascot, spirit animal, or avatar and why?

I’ve always loved cats ever since we got our first pet when I was 10. I adore the big cats too, although not as a pet obviously, so I’d choose a tiger or a leopard for their beauty and grace in the hope that some of that would rub off on me.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

The opposite of my current writing space. At the moment I’m writing this on the edge of the cluttered dining table as I have breakfast. In my dreams, I have my own room overlooking a garden or water and the room is tidy but I’m surrounded by all my books.

What are you currently reading?

Having read ‘Mythos’ by Stephen Fry, I’m just about to start his other book,’Heroes‘. I love anything about Greece, fiction or non-fiction and as this book has been on my TBR shelf for months, I’m really looking forward to it.

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

I belong to our local amateur dramatic society and when not reading or writing, you’re likely to find me treading the boards in panto! Oh yes, you are! Last year in Robin Hood I had a whale of a time playing the baddie Soothsayer.

If you could have a fantasy tea or coffee date with an author or famous person from the past or present, who would it be and what would you ask them?

I’d probably be so overawed my mind would go blank and I’d clam up.

What do you miss about being a kid?

Having my mum cook all my meals and do my washing. Adulting is pretty hard! Seriously though, life seemed much more carefree when I was a kid than it is for kids today.

At this stage in your life, what advice would your young self give to your more mature self?

Worry less, enjoy life more and take every opportunity.

Do you believe things happen for a reason? Do you have an example from your own life to share why you believe this?

Definitely. As a child, I always wanted to be a writer but as an adult, I’d only ever written a few short stories when I crossed paths with another author who moved into my very small village. She became my mentor, helped me navigate my way through self-publishing and when her job was done, she moved on. I’m convinced we were meant to meet and become friends.

Describe the perfect solo date you’d take yourself on … where, time of day, weather, place, etc.

I’ve just come back from the perfect solo date to an unspoilt part of Crete. There I would wake early without the aid of an alarm to take photos of the most beautiful sunrise from my balcony. Then I’d go back to bed for a couple of hours or read for a while. After a leisurely breakfast, I’d go for a stroll into town enjoying the views and the warm, sunny weather – just perfect in May or September. I’m not a beach person but sitting watching other people is great for plot ideas. With no one to disturb me, I could write to my heart’s content. I’d have dinner in a fish restaurant with a sea view before watching the sunset with a cocktail and counting my blessings.

What are you currently working on?

A new series set around a hotel in Greece.

Tell us about your most recent book.

‘Finding Rose’ tells the story of three estranged sisters who are brought together at their father’s hospital bed. There, they are forced to confront not only the prospect of a life without him but also the secrets of a past that have kept them apart.

Their father, drugged up on morphine, seems to be rambling but could he, in fact, be reliving previous lives as a Tudor monk and as a soldier on the Front in WW1? Struggling to speak he reveals that he has a secret and urges his daughters to ‘Find Rose’. Can the sisters put aside their differences to fulfill his last wish?

I enjoyed learning about your history and writing style Julie! Thanks for being a part of MTA! – Camilla

More About Julie Ryan:

A prolific and well-known book review blogger, Julie does her writing and reviewing from rural Gloucestershire, where she lives with her husband, son and rescue cat. She manages to write a book a year although without their help, she would probably write more quickly. She is a book addict and will soon need either a bigger house for her collection or a new husband!

When not writing or reading or eating chocolate, she can be found treading the boards in the local amateur dramatic society – Oh yes she can!

Where to find the book:

‘Finding Rose’ is available on Amazon as an ebook and a paperback.

UK Amazon

US Amazon

Connect with Julie Ryan:

Twitter @julieryan18
Facebook http://www.facebook.com/julieryanauthor
Blog https://www.allthingsbookie.blogspot.com
https://www.JulieRyanBooks.blogspot.com
http://www.julieryanwriter.com

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Meet the Author: Devil in the Wind by Frank Prem

Today we welcome Frank Prem to Meet the Authors. We’re travelling to Beechworth, in the North East corner of Victoria, Australia to hear what storytelling, Psychiatric Nursing, playing the ukulele, photographs, and the Grampians mean to Frank.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I describe myself as a storytelling poet with a forty year apprenticeship behind me. That’s about how long I’ve been writing my poetry – mostly in an idiosyncratic free verse style, that is part poetry and part storytelling.

I live, together with my wife Leanne, in a pretty little town called Beechworth, in the North East corner of Victoria, Australia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beechworth). Beechworth attracts thousands of tourist visitors every year because of its gold mining and bushranging background during the mid to late 1800s. A bushranger is the Australian equivalent of an wild west outlaw, or a highwayman, and we had quite a few around this way, most notably Ned Kelly and the Kelly gang about whom much has been written.

By profession, I’m a Psychiatric Nurse, and have worked across a wide range of roles in Psychiatry though my working career. My next published poetry collection will be a personal memoir of my experience in Psychiatry, tentatively titled – The New Asylum.

In my early days as a poet, I sought out as many opportunities as I could to get my work published, and had a good number of successes, but I grew weary of having my work not accepted, without knowing the reason, so I largely stopped seeking publication, in favour of developing my own writing style and voice, until just three years ago beginning to post my work on a personal creative blog (https://www.frankprem.wordpress.com) and using that as both, an online archive for my work, and as a way of attracting readers to find and engage with my work.

In the six months since December 2018, I have published two collections in book and ebook form. These are:

1. Small Town Kid – a free verse memoir of growing up in a rural setting in Australia in the 1960s and 70s.

2. Devil In The Wind – a free verse poetic rendition of the voices of survivors and victims of the catastrophic Black Saturday bushfires we experienced in 2009.

In which genre do you write?

I write almost exclusively in my own free verse poetry form. I write using very little punctuation, and in quite short lines.

As I’ve gone along I’ve developed my approach so that my line breaks and stanza breaks serve as a form of punctuation – encouraging pause and nuance in the reading, and giving a cue for taking a breath.

I don’t often write a line longer than about 4 words in length, these days.

Regardless of genre, though, I believe every piece, long or short, needs to convey a sense of story – beginning, middle and end. This can be a challenge, at times.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

I was always a good reader at school and was very engaged with the stories that I read. That interest extended to story writing in English classes at high school as I progressed through the grades.

There was an occasion where, out of sheer laziness, I believe, I decided to cut corners and several hundred words off my assignment by doing it in the form of a poem. Very quickly and very easily.

I was a little dumbstruck to receive a high grade for the work and I think that may have been all the encouragement I needed to set me on the trail of experimenting with poetry as a genre.

I attempted to self publish some of my work in book form quite a few years ago, but the technology wasn’t helpful and the costs were enormous, so nothing much came of the first attempt. Print On Demand technology makes a world of difference to an up and coming poet like myself, but is probably a whole different discussion in its own right.

What is an interesting writing quirk you have, that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography?

For a few years now, I’ve been playing ukulele and singing in a community choir/ensemble, here in Beechworth.

It has always been a delight to me to sing, but until I started playing the uke, I rarely managed to sing in tune. The uke has changed that.

Last Spring we recorded ourselves in a couple of songs that were pasted on Facebook. Readers might enjoy a listen, so I’ll pop in a couple of links to the songs:

Dog and Mob (written by Leanne and myself): https://www.facebook.com/springsingbeechworth/videos/20339179721516/

Boris and Maria – a very short little love song: https://www.facebook.com/springsingbeechworth/videos/765584533788001/UzpfSTEwMDAyNTI1MTY3NTExMzpWSzoxMzkxOTQ3NDE3NjA2NTU1/?q=boris%20and%20maria&epa=SEARCH_BOX

What does your ideal writing space look like?

At the moment it is my dining room and dining table – very impromptu quarters, but I don’t really need all that much.

We’ve begun planning to build a sort of Men’s Shed outside the back door that will become my Writer’s Den, but that is still to happen. I’m looking forward to it because my needs are changing. As I become more ambitious in my writing endeavours, I think dedicated space will be helpful.

What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself through writing?

I’ve been surprised at something that has become something of a skill for me, which is allowing photographs and other pictorial images to inspire interesting poetry. There is what feels like a kind of empathy that I am able to apply to allow a story to emerge.

Sounds a bit mumbo jumbo, but perhaps I can illustrate with a small poem.

This one was taken from a series of photographs I took while walking through a collectibles barn. I later sat down and wrote the story that each picture suggested.

Voices #15: chill factor

people say
I am cold

my demeanor

my manner

cold

I hardly consider them
worthy
of my time

You are about to speak publicly to a group and read from your latest book. What song do you listen to before speaking? Or, what do you do to prepare yourself?

I prepare by reading my material aloud several times in the lead up to a speaking engagement. On the occasion itself, I’m generally a little numb with performance anxiety. It always feels very important to me to present as knowing my material and also my limitations as a presenter, so the audience feels I’m within my range of competence at all times.

Where music is important to me is in the actual writing.

I find I write much better if I can find some music in my head – not a song as such, just music, as I believe that our language is musical and I need to be able to sing my way through the poem, in order to know that it will read well after I put my pen down.

Do you believe things happen for a reason? Do you have an example from your own life to share why you believe this?

I truly do believe things happen for a reason. I went through a long lifetime, doing the best I could – sometimes ok, sometimes not so good – but it was only after passing through a very low ebb that I met the lady who completes my life.

The whole of my life was spent, I now believe, preparing me to be the man I needed to be from that point on.

As an aside, we met at a poetry open mic session in Melbourne. I was reading my 3 poem set and she sang a song. Life is sweet, sometimes.

What’s your favorite place to visit in your country and why?

We have a quite wild part of our state named the Grampians (indigenous name – Gariwerd). Strange rock formations, wonderful wildlife and bush. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grampians_National_Park

This area is about a half days travel from where we live and we always find it to be a spiritually uplifting place.

Tell us about your most recent book and where we can find it.

My most recent collection is titled Devil In The Wind. This book is a free verse collection of poems that are my interpretation of the voices of survivors and victims of the catastrophic Black Saturday bushfires that took place here in Victoria in 2009.

I personally feel that the fires have left my whole State traumatised and that we haven’t psychologically recovered from the experience yet.

I enjoyed learning more about you, your life, and writing style. I also write poetry inspired by photographs, with a bit of twist from your style as mine are using the nature photographs I make. It’s wonderful to meet someone else who has a similar style. The Grampians sound like my kind of place to visit. I look forward to reading your poetry collections Frank! It was a pleasure having you be a part of MTA! –Camilla

Book Trailer:

I also have recently started a YouTube channel which I’ve begun to populate with a few videos of myself reading from Devil In The Wind.

The link to that is here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvfW2WowqY1euO-Cj76LDKg

Blurb for Devil In The Wind

Devil In The Wind is an account of catastrophic fire and its immediate aftermath.

In this 21st century, the whole world seems to be on fire. America burns. Europe burns. Greece is reeling after its own tragedy of fire.

And Australia burns, as it has always done, but now so much more fiercely.

In February 2009, wildfires burnt through entire communities, taking 173 lives and injuring hundreds, while destroying thousands of houses and other buildings. Up to 400 fires destroyed 450,000 hectares of forest, native fauna and habitat, livestock and farmland.

In the aftermath of the fires, the voices of people who had lived through the experience — victims, rescuers, and observers — were spoken and were heard.

Devil In The Wind is Frank Prem’s poetic anthology of the personal, and very human, accounts of those who themselves experienced and survived Black Saturday. Poetry writing that interacts directly with readers emotions.

The collection is available in paperback book form at all the good online retailers, and in e-book form through Kindle and Kindle Unlimited.

Devil In The Wind (ISBN 978-0-9751442-6-8):

Amazon (Available in all markets): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/097514426X/

Booktopia: https://www.booktopia.com.au/devil-in-the-wind-frank-prem/prod9780975144268.html

Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Devil-Wind-Frank-Prem/9780975144268?

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1130932330?ean=9780975144268

Small Town Kid (ISBN 978-0-9751442-3-7):

Amazon (Available in all markets): https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B07L6114KS

Booktopia: https://www.booktopia.com.au/small-town-kid-frank-prem/prod9780975144237.html

Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Small-Town-Kid-Frank-Prem/9780975144237?

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/small-town-kid-frank-prem/1129995806?ean=9780975144237

Connect with Frank:

Author Page: https://FrankPrem.com

Poetry Blog: https://frankprem.wordpress.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/frank_prem

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/frankprem2

If it feels the thing to do and you are inspired to do so, I would be deeply grateful if you’d like to “Buy Me a Coffee” … Camilla – Founder and Host of Meeting the Authors …

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