Meet the Author: Stella’s Christmas Wish by Kate Blackadder

Today we travel to Edinburgh to chat with Kate Blackadder. Kate and I discuss how twins, sorting books in a charity shop, numbered index cards, red plaits, and a Viking expedition come together as part of Kate’s past and present life.

Tell us a bit about yourself. 

My name is Kate Blackadder. I was born in Inverness shire in the Scottish Highlands but now live in Edinburgh with a view of the Castle from my front window. I’ve always work with books in some capacity – firstly in the production department of a large London publisher, and then in various roles for publishers in Edinburgh and as a freelance editor.

In which genre do you write? 

I write mostly short stories (around 60 published) and magazine serials, one novel to date. Broadly speaking, these are in the women’s fiction genre but lately I have some success with short stories for a Scottish newspaper called The Weekly News which have to appeal to men as well as women. It was an interesting challenge.

How many published books do you have? 

My novel Stella’s Christmas Wish was published by Black & White in 2016. I have had three serials published in The People’s Friend (weekly readership of 400,000) and have released these myself on Amazon Kindle. They are also available in large print from libraries. I’ve produced on Kindle three collections of previously published/prize winning short stories.

Three other writers based in Edinburgh and I have formed a group called Capital Writers. We give readings around the city and have produced two e-anthologies of short stories (one from each of us) with another two in the pipeline.

So – nine so far!

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

I was always a reader so that was my inspiration. I first tried to write when I was about ten – books for girls, very (very) derivative of my favourite titles. Over the years I wrote poetry off and on but took up writing fiction (for grown-up girls) again sixteen years ago after joining a brilliant local creative writing class.

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

There are no twins/multiple births in my family but for some reason they crop up rather often in my stories. It took a writing friend to point that out to me; now I have to exercise family planning more carefully …

What does your ideal writing space look like? 

Luckily, exactly like the space I have! My son’s former bedroom, now my study, painted leaf green, lots of shelves. In the evening I like to shut the shutters so that the room is dark, and write under the pool of light from the angle poise lamp.

What are you currently reading? 

I usually have at least one novel and a non-fiction book on the go. Currently, it’s Clock Dance by Anne Tyler, one of my very favourite authors; and A Tunnel Through Time: A New Route for an Old London Journey by Gillian Tindall, an original way of looking at the history of London.

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

I work two days a week in a museum’s publishing department; volunteer a few hours a week sorting books in a charity shop (Shelter); read; bake; go to the cinema.

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

The mere thought of speaking up in a crowd used to make me nervous but gradually, through having to read aloud at writing classes etc, I got more confident and now even standing up and speaking/reading to a large audience doesn’t faze me at all (as long as I know in advance and have time to practise, see below!). So I suppose I’ve learned the only thing to fear is fear itself (now I must try and apply that to driving on the motorway … ).

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

Not particularly strange but – we have a car but I got the bus from Edinburgh down the coast to North Berwick in East Lothian (about 30 miles away) as that’s how one of my characters travelled. I wanted to see the journey through her eyes.

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

I type what I want to say in full and print it out then I pick out the salient points and put them on numbered index cards. I practise over and over giving the talk with only the cards as prompts. It means I can keep my head up and engage with the audience most of the time rather than looking down. I also read my chosen passage aloud several times at home so that I know where the pauses should come and which words to emphasise.

What do you miss about being a kid? 

My red plaits. And having been brought up in a rural location with no school friends nearby, I had weekends when I read from morning to night; I’d love to be able to do that again.

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

We didn’t have television until I was fifteen and were a hundred miles from the nearest cinema. Don’t regret any of that for a minute!

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 Cathryn Fenton in The Family at Farrshore ( myBook.to/Farrshore ) because she’s an archaeologist involved in a Viking excavation in the north of Scotland. Uncovering a long-ago settlement would be fascinating – plus there’s a handsome Canadian film director around the place …

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

The documentary Marianne and Leonard: Words of Love – because I’m a long-time Leonard Cohen fan. I was lucky enough to see him in concert many years ago in Edinburgh.

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

I don’t have a pet now but I used to have a cat I adored called McTavish. I would ask him:

Why do you sit on the cold wall rather than beside the warm fire?

Where did you go last night?

What are you thinking about when you stare, unblinking, at me with your big golden eyes?

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

I love the grandeur of the scenery of north-west Scotland. A few years ago I would have said I loved the loneliness of it too but it’s a wee bit crowded up there now thanks to the success of the North Coast 500 route.

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

I had a holiday in New Zealand last year and absolutely loved it. So, on a dry, 70F, day with no wind, I would explore Dunedin – mostly on foot but taking the bus up the steepest streets, visit the museums and the bookshops and stop for (excellent) coffee and a warm date scone at The Good Oil café in George Street.

Tell us about your most recent book. 

Stella’s Christmas Wish is a contemporary romance/family secrets story, published by Black & White Publishing.

Six days before Christmas a family crisis brings Stella back from London to the Scottish Borders – and to Ross, the man she left fifteen months earlier.

One reviewer said: ‘I fell in love with the characters and actually wished they were real.’

It was wonderful to learn more about you, Kate. Your writing group sounds brilliant! I visited Edinburgh in the year 2001 and found it to be incredibly breathtaking. Adored the bookshops! All the best to you! – Camilla

Where to find the book:

It’s available (digital only) on Amazon:

http://amzn.to/2dYQOrY

Connect with Kate:

Blog +website:

http://katewritesandreads.blogspot.com/

https://capitalwriterscouk.wordpress.com/

Social media links

https://www.facebook.com/KateBlackadderAuthor/

@k_blackadder

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Book Shelf: Painted Oxen by Thomas Lloyd Qualls

Painted Oxen by Thomas Lloyd Qualls

This book is unlike any other I’ve read. First of all, I love the cover and the title. That was enough to draw me to the book. A visionary fictional story following two men on separate pilgrimages.

One of my favorite passages from the book, “…. Thera are many guides on this path. There are the leaves and the birds, the wind and the stones, the sun and the moon, the stars and the soil. Each has its own language to teach …. “

This is one of those books to own so it can be read more than once, at different times, as I’m sure it’s meaning will shift as my path shifts.

I interviewed Thomas Lloyd Qualls on this website in August 2019. Follow the link below to learn more about Thomas.

Meet the Author: Painted Oxen by Thomas Lloyd Qualls

US Amazon: https://amzn.to/2pMnTC5

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

(The above are amazon affiliate links.)

Meet the Author: The Magic Carpet by Jessica Norrie

Today we travel to NE London in the UK to chat with Jessica Norrie. She and I discuss how the Titanic, feeling like a completely different person, a sense of peace, giving up, The Magic Roundabout, being nosey, and a house in the hills come together to form the magic of Jessica’s past and present.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hi! I’m a retired teacher from the bit of Essex that’s within the boundaries of NE London, UK but is also called Essex (conspiring like Val Portelli earlier in your series to confuse your lovely pin map). I have two adult “children” and since neither they nor any classes of thirty schoolkids take up my time now, I write novels.

In which genre do you write?

I call it contemporary fiction because both my published books and my work-in-progress are set in the present day. Some call it women’s fiction – but men have said they too enjoy my writing. Some call it literary – but traditional publishers say it’s too easy to read for that (the ones who don’t say it’s too difficult to be commercial). Some call it psychological, but I think all fiction must be psychological or the characters would be so boring they’d fall over. On Amazon it’s boring old general fiction. This is no criticism of the question which is a very common one, but I wish people didn’t care so much about genre.

How many published books do you have?

Two novels, The Magic Carpet (2019), featured here, The Infinity Pool (2015), which is about a “holistic” holiday community on a Greek island and how they fall out with the local villagers, and a primary school French textbook, Célébrons les Fêtes, that I co-authored (Scholastic, 2010)

List 3 interesting facts about yourself.

  1. If my grandfather had got the job he applied for on the Titanic, I wouldn’t be here.
  2. If my father hadn’t been whisked away just in time from the “tarantula” (?) they found on his bed when he was seven (they lived above a greengrocer’s shop and it had arrived in a crate of bananas), I wouldn’t be here.
  3. I speak fluent French and some Spanish and when I’m speaking another language I feel like a completely different person.

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

I soak in the bath dreaming about spending more time writing and less time marketing.

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

Usually, when I find something difficult, I give up. But when I’m writing or blogging I seem able to keep going, even after bad days and through poor feedback or self-doubt. Right up to and after publication I’m still surprised to get the positive feedback and reviews that I do get! And yet, unlike skiing, watercolours or Pilates, I don’t give up. That bestseller is just around the corner!

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

I’m not sure enjoyable is the right word, but the sense of peace when I’ve thoroughly explored a world in a novel – the strange holiday community in The Infinity Pool or the neighbouring families in The Magic Carpet. I’ve said everything I need to say, and cleared it all out of my system, ready for the next challenge. Writing makes sense of disordered ideas the same way therapy does, I think.

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

There was a French series adapted for UK TV in the 1960s called The Magic Roundabout. Adults saw hazy philosophy and drug references in it (there was a drawling rabbit called Dylan after Bob). Children just found it gentle and loving. When everything got too confusing, a peculiar creature called Zebedee, who was a talking jack-in-the-box with magical powers,would bounce onto the screen from who knew where. “’Time for bed’ said Zebedee,” the soft voiced narrator would tell us. It ended that same way after each daily five-minute episode and all seemed right with the world.

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

I’m quite nosey and rather judgemental. I suspect this has sometimes worked against me making and maintaining friendships, but it’s ideal for a writer creating characters and conflicts for a story.

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

My partner has a house in the hills near Malvern, where the composer Elgar came from. We have very close friends next door; there are rolling hills to gaze at and walk in when not writing and the small town has a range of theatre, film, music, art and literary opportunities all within walking distance (if you don’t mind steep walks that are also a bit of a work out). C S Lewis used to meet Tolkien in the Unicorn pub, and is supposed to have based the lamp posts in Narnia on the ones in Malvern.

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

I published The Magic Carpet in July 2019, available at http://getbook.at/TheMagicCarpet or any Amazon as an ebook or paperback. It’s about how families and communities can comfort their troubles and grow together through the magic of storytelling. It was my response to years of teaching in diverse communities, trying to nurture the imagination and value all the different cultures represented in my classrooms. People have said some lovely things about how it’s moved and entertained them – it’s had a better reception than I’d have dared hope and although it’s set in London, the relevance should resonate anywhere parents and children have to live together and get along.

How do you feel about self publishing as opposed to traditional publishing?

I’d love to be traditionally published as so called literary/general/contemporary fiction is harder to sell as an indie than crime, romance, horror etc. Both my novels had very good feedback from the mainstream publishers my agent submitted them to, but they said they couldn’t work out how to market them. However, once I published them independently, the readers’ feedback was so good it suggests the traditional publishers were mistaken! So far I’ve had relatively good sales in the UK and Australia, but I need to crack the US market – which is where I’m hoping blogs like this one will help. I’d like to thank Camilla here for giving me the opportunity to showcase my work on her excellent site, and I do hope to be able to repay her efforts by becoming so well known she can boast about once having interviewed me!

It was wonderful learning about you Jessica! I’ve added The Magic Carpet to my ‘to be read’ list and cannot wait! Sounds like a great story! All the best to you! – Camilla

Book Blurb

Outer London, September 2016, and neighbouring eight-year-olds have homework: prepare a traditional story to perform with their families at a school festival. But Nathan’s father thinks his son would be better off doing sums; Sky’s mother’s enthusiasm is as fleeting as her bank balance, and there’s a threatening shadow hanging over poor Alka’s family. Only Mandeep’s fragile grandmother and new girl Xoriyo really understand the magical powers of storytelling. As national events and individual challenges jostle for the adults’ attention, can these two bring everyone together to ensure the show will go on?

Where to buy:

The Magic Carpet: http://getbook.at/TheMagicCarpet (this link will take you worldwide to your nearest Amazon)

The Infinity Pool: http://getBook.at/TheInfinityPool

Connect with Jessica:

Jessica blogs about reading, writing and language at: https://jessicanorrie.wordpress.com

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

Twitter: @jessica_norrie

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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: Last Village by Audla English

Today we travel to the North East of England to chat with Audla English. She and I chat about how picture books, Tom and Jerry, England’s smallest train station, Roald Dahl, Marsden Bay,  and the special bond with her wonderful grandmother come together as part of Audla’s writings and her life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Lovely to meet you Camilla and thank you again for the interview. I am Audla English- which is quite apt as I am English and live in the glorious North East of the country; a beautiful part which is steeped in history, greenery, sea, sand but perhaps not sun!

In which genre do you write?

I write love stories but with a historic angle so the genre which I fit into most easily is historic fiction: romance.

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

I have always wanted to be a writer and used to make picture books of stories when I was a child, some of which I still have. It took me 15 years of being a ‘grown up’ until I reminisced about those happy days and I was brave enough to write again.

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

The idea for ‘The Last Village’ came from two sources; my truly wonderful late gran and the North East coastline.

To start off I will talk about the coastline. The following things are all included in my novel and incredibly, at one time all actually existed in less than a one-mile long stretch of coastline in South Tyneside, North East England:

· the world’s first electric lighthouse

· the natural phenomenon of a proud coastal arch

· a hidden cave bar

· England’s smallest train station

· the site of a thriving mining village

To understand the area further, I will give a little bit of a history to it. Marsden was the name of this village which was placed precariously on an open clifftop and basked in the glow of Souter Lighthouse whilst looking out onto an uninterrupted blue sea. The village was built by the Whitburn Coal Company in the 1870’s and was a thriving mining community. However, by the 1960’s it had been completely demolished. This in turn also led to the demolition of ‘The Rattler’ which was the small hardworking train which carried the fresh coal linking the town of South Shields to the mine and was also host to England’s smallest train station.

The iconic Marsden Rock, with its arch in full display, was also only a stone’s throw away from the village. This was a naturally formed arch which succumbed to marine erosion in 1996 causing the arch to collapse and splitting the rock into two stacks. By 1997, the second stack was declared unsafe for the public and it was sadly demolished. The cave bar that hides in Marsden Bay and the shadow of the great rock still remains there to this day and is now also a boutique hotel. The remaining Marsden Rock and its surrounding area now holds the status of being the largest mainland breeding colony of seabirds between the Tweed and the Tees rivers.

Today, there is sadly no trace that a village and its thriving community existed in this open grassy space except for the odd piece of brick which may be found lurking in the long marram grasses and which hide a well of memories.

I was always fascinated that this open and sparse piece of land used to house a full community and it was this intrigue which led me to writing ‘The Last Village’. I would often imagine what it must have been like to live there. Despite the harsh Northern winters with no central heating and the hardship of those who lived there, it must have been such a wonderful place to wake up to and witness the impressive view of Souter Lighthouse and the powerful North Sea.

Secondly, I must mention my wonderful gran. I think most people would agree that there is a special bond between grandparent and grandchild and if they have sadly passed on, a grandparent will always hold a special place in their hearts. My gran was North East England born and bred, coming from a coal mining family, to others she will have just been another old lady but to me, she was exceptional. I wanted to convey the love between a grandmother and granddaughter and also love between families and how this love can span generations.


(Audla’s gran)

This is reflected in the novel which is a moving love story and is dual timeline between the 1940’s and present day, telling the story of Lily, the Gran, who lived in the village and Anna, the Granddaughter, who discovers her Grandmother’s past. The change in the area and the attitudes towards love can clearly be seen between the two different timelines, as well as some really nostalgic references. Nevertheless, the novel also highlights how some aspects of love have not changed at all, even across three generations.

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

I would without hesitation, have a cup of tea (English Breakfast Tea) with my absolutely favourite author Roald Dahl. I know that Roald Dahl would often draw on real life experiences in his writing and I would ask him which character he most enjoyed creating.

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

The most enjoyable thing is the escapism that writing brings. I love that writing can take you to places that you can only dream of and that you can fully unleash your mind and your feelings.

What do you miss about being a kid?

I miss the freedom of imagination and innocence of being a child. How brilliant was it when you could spend an entire day making tents (masquerading also as caves, royal ships or lion’s dens) out of old blankets, only emerging ravenous for lunch or for an often-desperate toilet break, to then fully submerge yourself back into that world.

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

I would tell myself to stop worrying about some of the small stuff; it really doesn’t matter!

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

I would choose Tom and Jerry. I would want to be a mouse and be friends with Jerry, he is hilarious and so clever how he outwits Tom. I also could sit and eat cheese all day (Brie please)!

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

I watched X Men: First Class. I know this might be quite surprising as a writer of romance but I absolutely love all things Marvel. I also think this film has an outstanding cast.

A giraffe knocks on your door and is wearing a bowler hat. What does he say and why is he there?

Mr Pomphrey, the gentleman giraffe, has of course arrived wearing his bowler hat, pinstripe suit and monocle, to take me out for afternoon tea. As I open the door, he says “Jolly good to see you, it has been too long, I am quite simply ravenous, shall we?” He then leads me to his open top vintage British racing green jaguar car and off we go!

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

My favorite place to visit is South Tyneside. As I mentioned previously, it is an area of natural beauty with its golden sandy beaches and coastal formations, it has a cave bar serving fresh seafood overlooking a bay which houses the incomparable Marsden Rock, Souter Lighthouse (the world’s first electric lighthouse) is always welcoming, as well as a rich history and it is not far from my home. I am very very lucky.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently working on a new novel which will also be a dual-time line historical fiction set in the North East of England around the milling and ship merchants’ industries. The genre will also be romance, focussing around the life of the best friend of the Gran of the modern-day character. The modern-day character will unearth a decades long secret…

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

‘The Last Village’, A Chill with a Book Premier Readers’ Award winner and 2019 American Fiction Awards Finalist, is available to purchase on Amazon in both Kindle and Paperback format. The cover photo depicts Souter Lighthouse today alongside the Leas, the former site of Marsden Village.

South Tyneside sounds like a wonderful place! Thank you for sharing about your writing and this amazing place! It was great to have you on MTA, Audla. All the best to you! – Camilla

The majestic Souter Lighthouse stands proudly at the edge of the cliff top surrounded by open grassy empty fields and overlooking a vast blue wilderness. Anna Charles knows nothing of the life that her grandmother once had here. It wasn’t until an unexpected engagement, that Anna discovered the past of her Gran and the truth behind an enduring love.

Seventy years earlier, Lillian Smith, had been part of the close-knit community that once thrived in the village that existed next to the lighthouse. A chance meeting with a sailor one day, would change the course of her life forever.

A moving novel set in the North East of England. The Last Village is an enduring love story which spans the 1940’s and modern day, binding the generations.

Where to buy the book:

Amazon UK:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Last-Village-Audla-English-ebook/dp/B07JDS2SYC/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1EB3CBN6EICIX&keywords=the+last+village+by+audla+english&qid=1568055985&s=gateway&sprefix=the+last+village%2Caps%2C161&sr=8-1

Amazon USA: https://www.amazon.com/Last-Village-Audla-English-ebook/dp/B07JDS2SYC/ref=sr_1_2?crid=1XB2EVA92O3Q2&keywords=the+last+village&qid=1568056041&s=gateway&sprefix=the+last+village%2Caps%2C217&sr=8-2

Connect with Audla:

Facebook AudlaEnglishAuthor

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Meet the Author: Rogue’s Holiday by Regan Walker

Today we travel to San Diego, California in the United States to chat with Regan Walker. She and I discuss how a career as a lawyer, an Irish Wolfhound, reviewing historical romance books, Margaret Queen of Scots, Winston Churchill, a historical schooner, and the ocean come together as part of Regan’s writing life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I live in San Diego near the coast and I love it. My career as a lawyer was pretty intense. I still practice law part time but, since 2011, I also am a writer of historical romance novels. For my stories set in the Georgian, Regency and Medieval eras, I do considerable research to make them authentic. Each of my novels includes real history and real historical figures.

In which genre do you write?

Historical romance: Georgian, Regency and Medieval eras.

How many published books do you have?

With this new one, it’s 15 (3 series and related books).

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

I have always been a writer, even as a child. As a lawyer, I wrote legal-related opinion pieces and articles. But I didn’t turn to writing fiction until 2011 when I did so at the suggestion of my best friend. That led to my first novel, Racing with the Wind.

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

I don’t plot for one thing. I let the history and the characters lead me. I like to see how the story unfolds and I’m often surprised. I recall a 5-star review that was effusive in its praise for my “complicated and wonderful plot”… Ha!

What would you choose as your mascot and why?

My constant companion is a Wirehaired Pointing Griffon named “Cody”. I’d choose him or possibly an Irish Wolfhound like “Magnus”, a character in my medieval story, Rogue Knight. It’s comforting to have a big dog alongside you and they are fun to hug, too.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

More room than I have now. I like a large rectangular table (say 5 x 7 feet) where I can set up all my stuff. However, when I moved into a small condo I had to give up that table. Sigh. Deep regrets.

What are you currently reading?

Likely a Victorian romance. I have a blog, Historical Romance Review
(https://reganromancereview.blogspot.com/), where I review books (a different subgenre each month). November is Victorian month and December is “Favorites” month. From my monthly reviews I prepare “best lists” from those I’ve rated 4 and 5 stars.

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

I practice law part time; I walk my dog on the beach in the early morning; I visit with friends (I make killer popcorn for “movie night”); I read every night; I attend weekly church services; and I watch period historical dramas.

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?

There are so many. I loved Margaret Queen of Scots who was married to Malcolm III, King of Scots (both characters in my novels Rebel Warrior and The Refuge). I would ask her about her faith and the Scotland in which she lived. I would also like to visit with William Wilberforce, the British statesman who led the anti-slavery movement in the Georgian era in England. He, too, was a great man of faith and, having read some of his writing, I would have to ask about his relationship with God. But, since I named my son after Winston Churchill, I have to include him. He was a visionary and a great leader who, more than any man, was responsible for defeating the Nazis in WWII. I’d ask his view on the world today. I’m certain nothing that has happened would surprise him.

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

How much I love the research and look forward to entering the world of my characters. When my legal work picks up, I miss my writing.

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

The most unusual was taking a ride on a historical schooner like those in my novels (many of my books have scenes set on a ship). I wanted to get the feel of the moving deck and the wind in the sails. I did a blog post on it:
https://reganromancereview.blogspot.com/2018/02/the-challenge-of-setting-story-on-ship.html

Do you journal write or keep a personal diary? 

No, but I do take notes when the muse alights and I keep a yellow pad and pen near my bed for late night inspirations.

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

If we are speaking of my writing, it would be when I was writing Rebel Warrior, set in 11th century Scotland. I stumbled across a real historic figure that could have been the hero in my story. He was an Anglo-Saxon who fled William the Conqueror to live in Scotland and rose to be a mormaer, the equivalent of an English earl. He even had a home in the area of Loch Lomond where my hero ends up! It was like falling back in time to realize my fictional character had been a real person.

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

I always write to music and sometimes for special scenes, I pick a certain song. For the battle scene on the English Channel in To Tame the Wind, I listened to “The Courier” from the soundtrack of Last of the Mohicans. That’s what inspired the scene and likely what I would listen to before reading it.

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

Lady Mary Campbell from Racing with the Wind. I’d go riding on her Friesian stallion and have tea in her grand estate with her good friend, Elizabeth.

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

Courage, determination and perseverance. All three have come in handy.

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

The ocean near where I live. I love the smell of the sea and the sand beneath my feet. I have traveled to over 40 countries but I always love coming home.

Tell us about your most recent book.

My newest release is Rogue’s Holiday, a Regency in which the bad boy of the Powell family and a spy for the Crown takes a holiday in Brighton as the guest of the new King George IV where he encounters a beautiful hellion and great danger.

It was wonderful learn more about you and your writing style, Regan. Thank you for being a part of MTA! – Camilla

Book Blurb:

Even a spy needs a holiday…

Robert Powell’s work as a spy saves the Cabinet ministers from a gruesome death and wins him accolades from George IV. As a reward, the king grants him a baronetcy and a much-deserved holiday at the Royal Pavilion in Brighton where he thinks to indulge in brandy, cards, good horseflesh and women.

But when Muriel, Dowager Countess of Claremont, learns of Sir Robert’s intended destination, she begs a favor…to watch over an “errant child” who is the grandniece of her good friend living in the resort town. Little does Robbie know that Miss Chastity Reynolds is no child but a beautiful hellion who is seemingly immune to his charms.

Chastity lives in the shadow of her mother and sisters, dark-haired beauties men admire. Her first Season was a failure but, as she will soon come into a family legacy, she has no need to wed. When she first encounters Sir Robert, she dubs him The Rogue, certain he indulges in a profligate lifestyle she wants no part in.

In Brighton, Robbie discovers he is being followed and senses the conspirators who had planned to murder the Cabinet have discovered his identity. Worse, they know the location of Chastity’s residence.

Where to buy the book:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07YQ55RNQ 

Connect with Regan:

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Regan-Walker/e/B008OUWC5Y

Author website: http://www.reganwalkerauthor.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/regan.walker.104

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6450403.Regan_Walker

Pinterest boards: https://www.pinterest.com/reganwalker123/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RegansReview

Regan’s Blog (Historical Romance Review): http://reganromancereview.blogspot.com/

Regan Walker’s Readers FB Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ReganWalkersReaders/

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Book Shelf: A Picture Book of Harriet Beecher Stowe by David A. Adler

A Picture Book of Harriet Beecher Stowe by David A. Adler

A great book about the woman who wrote the instant best-seller, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. 

Stowe was passionate about justice, and determined to make a difference. She wrote, “I do not mean to live in vain.”

US Amazon: https://amzn.to/2qIY85C

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

(The above are amazon affiliate links.)

Meet the Author: The Sustainable Smallholders’ Handbook: A Practical Guide to Living off the Land by Lorraine Turnbull

Today we’re traveling to South West France to chat with Lorraine Turnbull. She and I discuss how being a police officer, gardening, the Milky Way, hay, and being single minded come together as part of her past and current life. Pull on your wellingtons, let’s get going …

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m originally from Glasgow in Scotland, but now live in sunny South West France after living in rural North Cornwall for many years running my very small smallholding and making cider.

In which genre do you write?

Well, I’m currently writing my second non-fiction book, but would love to write in another genre; although my head is so stuffed with ideas I don’t know I could narrow it down to just one other genre!  Perhaps there is a rural bonkbuster in me?  Fifty Shades of Hay?


(Lorraine in a beekeeping suit)

List 3 interesting facts about yourself.

Some time ago I was a Police Officer in Strathclyde Police.
I enjoy watching boxing on TV.
I have a morbid fear of wasps.

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

I have a beautiful home with two gite rentals here in Dordogne, so I’m often getting them ready for guests.  I love gardening and filling my garden with unusual plants, and I love taking photographs of local landmarks at night with the Milky Way in the sky.

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

I’m quite single minded, and find it impossible to accept being told I can’t do something.  What utter nonsense; of course I can do it!  So I just quietly get on with it, perhaps not in the way I first planned, but I get there.  I think self belief is one of the most positive traits anyone can have and I can often be found wandering round the house muttering ‘I can do it’ under my breath.

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

How would I narrow it down to just one thing?  Being told on the police radio to catch the runaway racehorse that’s galloping towards me on a residential street? Pulling on my wellingtons in the morning to find my foot squelching down on the remains of a mouse the cat had deposited into it?  Being hailed loudly in a supermarket by someone who has read my first book – “Are you the chicken woman?”

It was wonderful to meet you Lorraine! I am also quite single minded, so appreciate that you mentioned it. Thanks for being a part of MTA! – Camilla

‘The Sustainable Smallholders’ Handbook’   A Practical Guide to Living off the Land.

Where to Buy:

http://shop.posthousepublishing.com/The-Sustainable-Smallholders-Handbook

UK Amazon : https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sustainable-Smallholders-Handbook-practical-living/dp/1903872332/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=the+sustainable+smallholders+handbook&qid=1567336198&s=books&sr=1-1<

Connect with Lorraine:

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

The Sustainable Smallholders Handbook

A practical guide to making and saving money on your smallholding

  • Smallholding and living sustainably continue to be one of the most
    sought after and elusive ways to live and work in the UK.
  • This book is aimed at all those who aspire to live the ‘Good Life’ on a
    smallholding; those who are already living on a struggling
    smallholding; and those budding off-griders and self builders who are
    aiming to live a low impact life in the countryside.
  • A very practical guide with 10 ‘warts and all’ case studies from existing
    smallholders and rural businesses.

Contents

1) Size Isn’t Everything

Planning to live the dream; arranging finance and spreading the risk; aiming
for high value; time management.

2) Properties

Buying smallholdings, land with hope value and off-grid living. Agricultural
Occupancy Conditions – what they are, how to live with them and how to lift
them. Soil, location and aspect of properties.

3) Skills and How to Acquire Them

Skills to learn, private, community and college courses, HelpX or Woofer
experience, internet learning.

4) Livestock

Regulations and record keeping, poultry, bees, pigs, sheep, goats, cattle,
alpacas.

5) Food and Drink Production

Eggs; cheese, jams and honey, juice &amp; alcoholic drinks, meat, nuts,
seaweed and other exotics.

6) Orchards

Apples, cider, under-grazing, planting an orchard, mistletoe, tree stock.

7) Teaching

Adult learning, community teaching, private tuition, insurance, lesson
planning and risk assessment.

8) Markets and Marketing

The marketplace, branding, signage, the internet and social media.

9) Diversification and Adding Value

Exploiting land and buildings, holiday letting, crafts, weddings, services, field
sports.

10) Self Sufficiency

Adapting existing smallholdings &amp; rural businesses, energy efficiency, water recycling, heating, electricity, off-grid living.

11) The Last Word

Preventing project failure.

Appendices

About Lorraine:

Lorraine Turnbull has written occasional magazine articles on land based subjects since 2008. This is her first reference book. She ran a smallholding in Cornwall for many years, whilst working as a tutor for the Rural Business School, and latterly ran a craft cider business. In 2014 she was awarded Best Individual in the Cornwall Sustainability Awards.

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Meet the Author: Butterflies by Lily Hayden

Today we’re traveling to Wales to chat with Lily Hayden. She and I discuss how sensible career options, winning the lottery, laughing, Roald Dahl, Rugrats, and walks along the river are part of her past and current life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m Lily Hayden and I’m a mother of four, an author and animal lover from the beautiful country of Wales. My first book Butterflies was published in 2018.

In which genre do you write?

My go-to genre is women’s contemporary fiction; Butterflies is a very modern love story, The Village Online is a murder mystery based around a village social media page and Summer Down South is a racier romance. It definitely fits into the chick lit category; easy, light, palate-cleansers.

I’ve also released a young adult dystopian novel Project Terra under the pseudonym SJ Woods.

Strong modern women, especially mothers, are my protagonist of choice though and my next releases all centre around these superwomen.

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

I’ve always wanted to write, but it felt like an unachievable dream; like winning the lottery or becoming a platinum-selling singer (I still dream of both these things but unless voice transplants become a thing, this is never happening).

I put it to the back of my mind and went about sensible career options, but at the back of mind it was always calling me. I picked up, started and then put down my pen several times over the course of my adult life, always putting it off until ‘tomorrow’.

I was very close to my grandmother and we used to write stories together. She always wanted to write a novel and I wanted to achieve this goal for both of us. I think you do get to a point where you know you need to stop peering over the edge and just jump. As I always say to my friends, if it all goes wrong at least it’ll make a good story!

What would you choose as your spirit animal and why?

My spirit animal is a cat. I strongly believe that all other categories can be abolished and people can be divided into cat people or dog people, which will tell you everything you will possibly need to know about them. Characteristics of dog people are being loyal, friendly, warm-hearted and social. I would love to be a dog person but sadly I’m a cat; aloof, likes sleeping, will go and live in another house if they’ve got better food. And did I mention they sleep an average of 15 hours a day!

What does your ideal writing space look like?

A quiet room brimming with books with a huge bay window seat overlooking blue skies and the sea. My current writing space, however, is nothing of the sort and I will nearly always be writing sandwiched between a spaniel and a cavachon (cavalier spaniel and bichon frise cross) on my sofa. I have been know to scrawl paragraphs down in the notes in my phone, mainly on trains and even in the back of a taxi on the way to a night out. For some reason, I can’t focus sat at a desk. The moment I sit down I think of a million “urgent” things I need to do. Maybe it’s a kick back to all the time wasting I did in my office life.

What are you currently reading?

The Handmaid’s Tale. One of my favourites.

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

Mainly shouting or laughing (big thank you to my neighbours for pretending they don’t hear). Nobody in my house listens to me- not the kids, not the dogs, definitely not the cats. Books and comedy are my favourite. If I’m not reading, I’m laughing at the most ridiculous things with one of the many funny people in my life. Life is too short to take everything seriously.

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

I not only share a country of birth with Roald Dahl, but we also share a birthday. He was an extremely talented writer and I think most book lovers can think fondly back to their first time reading a Road Dahl book as a child. As well as chatting about his books, I’d really like to ask him about his time in the RAF during World War 2. My grandfather was in the RAF too during this time and I can’t even begin to imagine what life was like back then.

What do you miss about being a kid?

Not paying bills, the endless school holidays where everyday was an adventure out with friends and the compulsory learning!

I loved school and if money and time were no object, I think I’d study every subject I could (or at least try to)! The world is a fascinating place and I think as kids, we see it more that way, before we grow too preoccupied with the little things and responsibilities that make up life.

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

I loved Rugrats. I would love to hang out with Tommy and Angelica for the day. Nobody remembers what it’s like to be a baby- all those new experiences! I bet it’s mind-blowing!

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

“Hola, te gusta Fanta Limon?”

We’ve just come back from Ibiza and that’s all the Spanish vocab my kids have nailed. It is the best flavour Fanta though.

The penguin will definitely have brushed up on some tourist Spanish ready for our trip. Pinguino is here to take me on holiday. No kids, no work, just sun, sea and sangria and we’re going to have a blast!

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

I’m from the beautiful country of Wales. We’re famous for our gorgeous mountains and valleys, we’ve also got castles and amazing beaches (although it does rain here a lot!). I’m from the city of Newport in South Wales and as a fairly young city, Newport has an amazing music and art scene. It’s so hard to choose one favourite place because there are so many things to do, but today there’s no place I’d rather be than walking my dogs along the river and the woods with a stop off at the pub of course.

What are you currently working on?

I’m working on a love story that takes us through the main character’s life from her first love at fifteen to her current day life at forty (or thereabouts). I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s as much a story of her finding her true self as it is about her handsome first love who just keeps coming back at key points in her life.

Tell us about your book.

Butterflies is Lucy’s tale of finding love and fulfilment after years of struggling to juggle motherhood and an unrewarding job. As in real life, it doesn’t always run smoothly for Lucy and there are a couple of twists and turns along the way. Her love story is a little different to traditional boy-meets-girl but I hope you love Lucy’s happy ending as much as I do.

I very much enjoyed your sense of humor, Lily! It was wonderful learning more about you and I love what you say about life being too short to take everything seriously. Thanks for being a part of MTA! – Camilla

Butterflies is available as an ebook or paperback at Amazon:

UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Butterflies-Lily-Hayden-ebook/dp/B07CQ25SK5/ref=mp_s_a_1_2?keywords=lily+hayden&qid=1565552597&s=gateway&sprefix=Lily+Hayd&sr=8-2

US: https://www.amazon.com/Butterflies-Lily-Hayden-ebook/dp/B07CQ25SK5/ref=mp_s_a_1_6?keywords=lily+hayden&qid=1565552642&s=gateway&sprefix=Lily+Hayd&sr=8-6

Follow Hayden Woods Creative on Facebook and Twitter, and hwoods_creative on Instagram for the most up to date releases and more info.

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Meet the Author: Moonbeams from the Soul by Fay Knowles

Today we’re traveling to Nassau, New Providence Island in The Bahamas to chat with Fay Knowles. She and I discuss how being a newspaper reporter, seeking sunnier climates, travel writing, short stories, a babbling brook, and an old oak tree come together as part of Fay’s past and present writing journey.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a Scottish-born writer who made The Bahamas my home many years ago. I live in Nassau, New Providence Island. I have been writing since the age of nine, penned a children’s adventure story book at eleven and won a school essay competition at age fifteen.

After leaving school at sixteen, I trained in Devon, England, as a secretary, then newspaper reporter. At the age of twenty I set off to “work my way around the world”, first emigrating by ship to Canada. I worked as a production/editorial assistant for the former Canadian Food Journal and Gift Buyer, Toronto. And then, to avoid a Canadian winter and to seek sunnier climes, I took a Greyhound coach down across the U.S. from Toronto to Miami, en route for The Bahamas.

I met my future husband Erskine in Nassau a month after that and we were married the following year. I never did “travel the world”!

As well as getting by-lines in British and Bahamian newspapers, my articles have appeared in Westward News (a former in house publication of British Telecom), the Kennel Gazette (official journal of the British Kennel Club), Christian Herald, and Sports Magazine Bahamas.

My writing assignments have included articles for Bahamas Information Services, travel writing for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, and as a photo journalist for Town Centre Mall, Nassau, Bahamas. I once worked as a “temp” for the late Sir Etienne Dupuch, former Publisher/Editor of The Tribune, Nassau, transcribing his long, captivating editorials.

My short stories have been published in The Lady magazine, London, England, and The Broadkill Review, Delaware, U.S.A.; with poetry in the U.K. magazine Evergreen.

Most of my short stories in Sunbeams from the Heart – A Collection of Twelve Romantic Short Stories were first published in The Lady or The Broadkill Review.

And I also have a new book of short stories “Moonbeams from The Soul: A Collection of Fourteen Provocative Short Stories”.

I drew on my Scottish background and knowledge of The Bahamas when writing my Romantic Suspense novel Love at Sunset, which is now Book One in my Buchanan Mystery Romance Series.

And my mini-memoir The Scottish Connection tells of my journey back to Scotland with my mother and young sons to revisit our Scottish roots.

My writer’s guide How to Be the Best Writer Ever!  is “An informal guide and source of inspiration for new and not so new writers worldwide.”

In which genre do you write?

Mystery Romance, Romantic Suspense, Literary Fiction, Poetry and Non Fiction

How many published books do you have?

Five so far + a short story. I am currently working on another novel “Oleanders End”, which is Book Two in my Buchanan Mystery Romance Series.

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

At age nine I read a lovely poem about a babbling brook, which sparked the passion in me for writing!

What does your ideal writing space look like?

A desk; an office chair that gives good back support; a computer and printer; pens and steno pads; a window with a window seat and view of ocean or countryside; and a comfortable chair for reading.

What are you currently reading?

I have just finished reading “The Guest Children” by Geoffrey Bilson (The Story of the British Child Evacuees Sent to Canada During World War II)

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

I’m “secretary” for any of my family members whenever they need me to help with their business ventures!

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

That I have actually managed to get books published!

Do you journal write or keep a personal diary? 

I used to keep a daily diary while growing up, but life interferes now!

What do you miss about being a kid?

Just climbing up onto the branches of an old oak tree and scribbling away to my heart’s content!

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

I’ve been told by a former schoolmate that as a child I was more self-assured than most of the other students and capable of expressing negative views whereas the rest tended to be “yes-men”! I never knew that about myself. I think this trait has helped me get ahead in life.

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

Starbucks! That’s where I meet other writers and chat about writing.

It was wonderful to learn more about you and your writings Fay. Thank you for being a part of MTA! – Camilla

Book Blurbs and Where to Find Fay’s Books:

MOONBEAMS FROM THE SOUL: A COLLECTION OF FOURTEEN PROVOCATIVE SHORT STORIES

From wild temptations to dangerous decisions, an eclectic assortment of thought- provoking short stories.

Available on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2PIAgd7

LOVE AT SUNSET – A ROMANTIC SUSPENSE (BUCHANAN MYSTERY
ROMANCE SERIES BOOK ONE)

Facing imminent danger and fierce opposition to love a second time around, Violet and Gordon seek a new life in Gordon’s homeland of Scotland, thousands of miles away from where they had lived in Nassau, Bahamas, but trouble catches up with them in their little loch side cottage. In the meantime, back in Nassau an unscrupulous attorney appears on the scene, along with a crooked realtor. What they do and the extent they would go to leads to a shocking ending.

Available on Amazon as an e-book and in paperback (regular and large print).
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01EVYUSAC

SUNBEAMS FROM THE HEART – A COLLECTION OF TWELVE ROMANTIC SHORT STORIES

“A beautiful keepsake. Love themes in this delightful collection of romantic short stories tell of nostalgia, bright new beginnings, homecoming, second chances – and the unexpected! Heart-warming stories that propel you on a journey through Scotland, England, The Bahamas and rural America.”

Available on Amazon as an e-book and in paperback (regular and large print).
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B019BS227K

THE SCOTTISH CONNECTION: A JOURNEY BACK – MINI-MEMOIR.

“Driving long distances in a short space of time throughout the United Kingdom is the norm nowadays. However, in the seventies it was often an adventure to cover the length or breadth of Britain. In this illustrated mini-memoir Stirling-born Fay Knowles shares memories of her 1978 journey back to Scotland with her mother and young sons, to revisit their Scottish roots.”

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MXVR7R0HOW

TO BE THE BEST WRITER EVER!

An informal guide and source of inspiration for new and not so new writers worldwide- Always wanted to write a book? Or are you a writer whose career is going nowhere? This uplifting writer’s guide outlines the craft and how to become the best writer ever in fifteen straightforward and easy to understand chapters.

FUNNELS (A SHORT STORY)

Annie endures a tedious existence with her baby daughter and irresponsible casino dealer husband in what to most people is a tropical paradise. She sometimes gazes from their dilapidated porch at the distant funnels of luxury cruise ships docked in the harbour. If the wind is in the right direction, she hears the huge creatures wail, promising to take her away. She longs to escape from it all, but is tied down to eking a living with grueling double shifts in a local restaurant. When an unexpected opportunity comes along she has
to make a sudden decision. However, she is torn between her family and the prospect of elevating herself to a better life. What she decides determines their future.

Connect with Fay:

Blog – https://fayknowles.blogspot.com
Amazon author’s page – http://www.amazon.com/author/fayknowles
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/faykwrites
Twitter – @faykwrites
LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/fayknowles/
Instagram – @faykwrites

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

Book Shelf: The Library of Lost and Found by Phaedra Patrick 

The Library of Lost and Found by Phaedra Patrick 

Phaedra Patrick’s latest book. I read her first two and love each book more than the one before! I read the entire book in just a few sittings. I could not stand to stop. Just had to keep reading! I love a GREAT mystery; yet also want it to be a mystery that doesn’t involve murders or deaths. Phaedra does not disappoint with delivering a whopping mystery, with lovable characters to get to know (and some you’d rather not know). I’m already excited for her next book!!

I interviewed Phaedra Patrick on this website in June 2019. You’ll want to check that out too! –Camilla

Meet the Author: The Library of Lost and Found by Phaedra Patrick

UK Amazon:  https://amzn.to/32dmr9a

US Amazon: https://amzn.to/36C2CeT

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

(The above are amazon affiliate links.)