Meet the Author: 50 Ways to Worry Less Now: Reject Negative Thinking to Find Peace, Clarity, and Connection by Gigi Langer, PhD

Today we’re traveling to Michigan to chat with Gigi Langer. She and I discuss how marriage, hitchhiking, meditation, chocolate, and Kermit the Frog fit into Gigi’s past and present life. Get comfy as this one is wide open with raw truth and authenticity.

Tell us a bit about you.

I was born west of Chicago (Oakbrook/Hinsdale), went to college at University of Colorado, got married, and taught Spanish and French near Denver. In 1973 I divorced my first husband and had a series of adventures with my second husband in Brazil, Hawaii, and Germany. After dissolving that marriage, I spent four years at Stanford completing a PhD in Psychological Studies in Education. I got through it only by getting high every night. In 1982, I settled in Michigan with my third husband and began my 25-year stint teaching in Eastern Michigan University’s College of Education.

By 1984, I was deeply unhappy and escalated my use of marijuana and alcohol. After one particularly embarrassing episode, I went to a psychologist to find out why I couldn’t be happy. That began a long road of recovery, therapy, and a variety of other healing experiences. After 25 years, I retired and began writing “Worry Less Now” where I explain practical tools I discovered to help me heal.

I’m now 33 years clean and sober and just celebrated 30 years of happy marriage with Peter, my fourth husband. PS: I don’t have any children because I couldn’t stay married long enough! Maybe this book counts!!

In which genre do you write?

Non-fiction

How many published books do you have?

I’m the co-author of five books aimed at teacher education and improvement. This is my first personal non-fiction book.

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

My latest book began as a memoir chronicling my three short marriages, career as a professional horseback rider, and adventures hitchhiking across the north of Spain–all before I turned 38. My wise fourth husband suggested that, instead, I write a self-help book with “all those helpful things you say when you counsel people on the phone.” At that point, Worry Less Now was born. Throughout the six-year writing journey, the right people showed up at just the right time to make the book interesting, practical, attractive, and clear.

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

I meditate before I write so I can get the inspiration and clarity to flow.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

It’s full of inspiring vision boards, notes and gifts from friends, family pictures, a comfy chair & desk, and some of my favorite stuffed animals.

What are you currently reading?

JoJo Moyes is so much fun– light and entertaining. I’m reading her series of three books about caring for a man she fell in love with and her adventures afterward.

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

As a person in recovery, I attend 12-step meetings and support women in sobriety. I love spending time playing with my cat, Murphy, and joking around with Peter, my husband of 30 years. I also play golf very nonchalantly, and occasionally overindulge in Ghirardelli chocolate and historical novels.

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

When I’m working through a tough time in my life, I write a lot in my journal to get honest with myself about my feelings and the thoughts that underlie them. In 2008, I took all my journals on a trip and typed up every section I thought might fit into a memoir or article. Much of that material appears (heavily edited) in Worry Less Now.

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

I love Kermit the frog; he captures the essential vulnerability of life. And he makes us laugh about it!

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

Taylor Swift’s “Reputation” concert on Netflix. I find her songwriting so inspiring and real, but it’s her sincere, sassy and slightly gawky personality that endears her to me. I often work out to her music and find it totally energizing.

Gigi and I met online about 2 years ago. It has been a pleasure being connected online. Thank you Gigi for being a part of MTA! Much love to you! – Camilla

Where to find the book.

“50 Ways to Worry Less Now: Reject Negative Thinking to Find Peace, Clarity, and Connection” by Gigi Langer, PhD (Possum Hill Press, 2018)

Order your own PERSONALIZED SIGNED COPY for $13.45 (10% off, including tax and free shipping) at https://GigiLanger.com/buy (Discount not available from Barnes and Noble, Amazon, or other e-book vendors.)

The AUDIOBOOK version has been released through Audible.

Reviews:

It has 5 stars on Amazon and wonderful reviews in publishing journals. Readers say it’s very practical, honest, and inspiring, and that it has helped them immensely.

Description:

Many years ago, I used alcohol, romance, and professional accomplishments to soothe my frayed nerves. When I quit drinking, I was left with only my fears and worries. Over time, I discovered effective tools from therapy, recovery pro­grams, scientific research, and a variety of philosophical and spiritual teachings. My book describes how I and others have defeated the faulty thinking leading to dysfunctional relationships, perfectionism, addiction, and worry about loved ones. It contains practical strategies with directions, personal stories, and other helpful suggestions.

“Langer’s homing in on all the aspects of negative self-talk and worry add breadth to her advice and make it a powerful tool for readers.” – Library Journal

“Langer speaks from hard-won experience in her valuable, heartfelt manual on curbing excessive worrying. Langer’s frank and empathetic tone will comfort readers, as will the practical steps she teaches.” – Publishers Weekly (BookLife)

“Plenty of books advocate countering negative thinking; but too few actually provide step-by-step measures on how to do so. The pleasure of 50 Ways to Worry Less Now lies in its examples, specific exercises, and injections of how the author used various routines to find her way out of negativity. Highly recommended for anyone who worries too much, lives too hard a life, and searches for a better way.” – Midwest Book Review

“Even though I have been in recovery for more than 4 decades, and didn’t think another self-help book would make it to my treasured list, I was wrong. This book is a winner.” -Karen Casey, best-selling author of Each Day a New Beginning (Hazelden)

“Gigi Langer’s honesty will blow you away! It is beautifully written; filled with humor and authenticity. I can recommend Langer’s fresh, honest tutorial on growing into your true, healthy self.” -Al Anon member

Connect with Gigi:

FB. Gigi Langer Author

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Meet the Author: Feather and Claw by Susan Handley

Today we’re traveling to rural Kent, England to chat with Susan Handley. She and I talk about how Agatha Christie, an old Olivetti typewriter, being outdoors, Fredrick Forsythe, a fractured skull, and Scooby Doo come together as part of Susan’s past and present life. Grab the scuba gear, we’re going down deep with this one …

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I grew up in England, in the Midlands, and although I loved to read, especially crime fiction, I never dreamt of being able to carve out a career as a published writer. I now live in a small village in rural Kent, England, with my husband and three rescue cats, Millie, Charlie and Porridge (aka Podge).

In which genre do you write?

I typically write crime fiction. My novels to date have been based around the experiences of a British detective. The first, A Confusion of Crows, is a police-procedural set in a modern detective squad. The second, Feather and Claw, is set in Cyprus, where the protagonist, rookie detective Cat McKenzie, is holidaying with a friend when one of the other guests meets an untimely end.

I have also published a collection of short stories called Crime Bites. It contains a number of what I call “super-shorts” that can be read over lunch or a long coffee, as well as a couple of longer stories for when you’ve got a bit more time. Although they’ve all got crime at their heart, they vary in terms of setting, period and style. Some are gritty, others a little cosier. Playing with different sub-genres can be a lot of fun: I recently had a great time writing a short story based in 1849 California when the gold rush was at its height.

How many published books do you have?

I have two in the DC Cat McKenzie series: A Confusion of Crows, and Feather and Claw. The Third in the series is due to be published in early 2020.

I have also published Crime Bites Volume 1 and hope to be publishing Volume 2 later this summer.

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

I was an avid reader as a child and always had my nose pressed into a book. I hadn’t considered writing anything until I was in my late teens. My mum had been collecting Agatha Christie books for years. Every birthday and Christmas I would buy her another for her collection. Then the inevitable happened and there were no more books to buy – she’d amassed the complete works. I thought there was nothing else for it but to write her one myself. In the style of Agatha Christie. I bought an old Olivetti typewriter out of the local paper and for several months spent every spare minute tapping away, hoping to create a story Agatha would have been proud of. Needless to say, I didn’t. The end result was pretty dreadful. Even though it was years before I sat down and penned my next novel, I often thought back to that first attempt and how much I enjoyed writing it, despite how badly it turned out.

What would you choose as your mascot and why?

I think a bird would make a great mascot for a crime writer — they are resilient; many are great at solving puzzles and can work as a team to fend off even the most determined attacks by predators.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

My current writing space is pretty much it:

It gets lots of sun (I’m a bit like a hothouse flower and need lots of light and warmth); has got a little reading corner with a comfy chair next to my ‘to be read’ pile; and is full of bits and pieces collected over the years that are a great source of inspiration — my latest finds are 2 large venetian masks that I picked up from a boot fair. Plus, there are enough places for the cats to sit and keep me company; otherwise I’d have no one to talk to all day (I’m not one of those crazy cat ladies, honestly!)

What are you currently reading?

I’ve just finished A Man with One of Those Faces by Caimh McDonnell: an absolutely brilliant book which brings together crime and comedy for a match made in heaven.

I tend to read more crime fiction than anything else, but do try to experiment and have discovered some fantastic writers as a result. As an author, I know how important reviews are to us (damn those Amazon algorithms!) so I make a point of always leaving a review on Amazon and Goodreads; partly to help the author and partly for prospective readers.

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

I love being outdoors, walking, cycling and gardening (good job too, I have quite a large garden that needs a lot of looking after). In the summer I escape and work on my veggie patch and greenhouse, where I’m trying to grow a wide selection of fruit and vegetables. Apart from the fact I love being outdoors pottering, the veggies you grow yourself always taste so much better than shop bought ones. I’ve been trying to ‘grow my own’ for three years now and have learned a lot about what you should do. And an awful lot about what you shouldn’t! A bit like writing really.

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 quite a lot of people I think it would be interesting to share a coffee with. I’d love to talk to Agatha Christie and find out what happened in those 11 days in 1926 when she went missing; or Fredrick Forsythe – both a formidable writer and someone who has led such a full life, I think he would be fascinating to talk to. There are also many contemporary authors whose company I would enjoy but the one I would probably like to spend time with is Mark Billingham. I saw him at a literary festival last year and he was interesting, funny, down to earth and just had so much to say. And if we ran out of things to talk about (highly unlikely), he could always entertain me with a song or two from the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers playlist.

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

I am not immune to spending time on social media or just randomly looking at things for the house or garden when I should be writing. This seems to happen a lot when I hit a sticking point in my latest work in progress. One minute I’m trying to figure out how to resolve a plot issue, the next I’ve gone and bought a bookcase from EBay. But hey, you can never have too many books … or bookcases, right?

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

Years ago, I was on scuba diving holiday in Cuba and had a horse-riding accident (don’t ask!). It happened on what supposed to be a relaxing trek through the countryside. Needless to say, it didn’t quite go to plan — I fractured my skull and ended up in a coma for a week. When I was cleared for travel, I was flown to a hospital back here in the UK. In the airport in Cuba, waiting for the flight, I was given a sedative. I have no idea what it was but it must have been some pretty potent stuff because at one point I thought someone had stolen my feet. Not my shoes, but my actual feet. It took some persuading before I realised that they were in fact still attached to the bottom of my legs.

The road to recovery was long and sometimes difficult but it made me realise you only have one shot at life, so make the most of it. Shortly after that I blew the cobwebs of my literary ambitions and started to write again.

What do you miss about being a kid?

Having lots of time. I remember whole days spent reading. I’d pick up a book in the morning and wouldn’t stop until I finished it before bed. Those were the days. Now I try to make time to read each day over lunch, but sometimes even that’s a struggle with other things demanding my attention.

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

It would have to be Scooby Doo – how much fun would it be to ride around in an old camper van solving crimes. Though most of the time all they had to do was look for the grumpy old man who would always end the show by saying ‘if it weren’t for those pesky kids…’

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

It’s got to be DC Cat McKenzie – an optimist, with her heart in the right place, yet she can be like a dog with a bone when it comes to sniffing out a murderer. Oh, and she’s gorgeous. What’s not to like?

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

He says ‘Which way to the beach?’ having turned up for a little holiday, hoping to enjoy the best of the British Summer – cool days, the odd bout of sunshine and lots and lots of rain.

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

I used to believe everything happens for a reason, but as I’ve grown older, I’ve changed my view a little. There are some things that are so awful it’s hard to believe there is a ‘reason’ (the death of a relative, friend or pet, for example). What I do think is that every event that happens is a good opportunity to be thankful for the good things in your life and to make plans to stop or change the not-so-good things. I’m now a firm believer that out of every crisis comes opportunity – you just have to have your eyes open to what is possible and seize that opportunity.

If you could ask your pets a question, what would it be?

I’ve three cats and would ask them each the same question: You will eat flies, mice, grass, your own vomit (gross, I know), yet you turn your nose up at pretty much everything I put down the second I get a jumbo box of it… what’s that all about?

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

It’s got to be perseverance. When I started to write it was something I did to unwind. Then I got hooked, wrote my first novel and thought it would be a short jump to get published. I know, seriously, what planet was I on? Then I realised two things: 1). There are a lot, no, make that a hell of a lot, of fantastic authors out there who have spent years learning the craft. 2). I had a lot to learn. There were plenty of times when I thought I should give up my dream and just write for enjoyment. But one of the things that make writing so pleasurable is having other people read and enjoy your work. So I persevered and have to say, I think I’m a much better writer for it now.

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

I live in a rural part of Kent in England, surrounded by quiet country lanes. I’m blessed to be able to walk straight out of the drive and into fields and woodland. I love being outdoors and find the countryside good for the soul as well as being a great source of inspiration. It’s particularly good walking country – ideal for when I’m trying to figure out a particularly knotty problem with a plot.

Tell us about your most recent book.

Feather and Claw is my latest novel and is the second book in the DC Cat McKenzie series.

The story is set on the sunny shores of Cyprus, where Cat McKenzie is holidaying with a friend.

Back in the UK, Cat is a rookie detective in a serious crime squad in the South-East of England and despite her plans for a relaxing vacation, it’s not long before she swaps sunbathing for sleuthing after a fellow guest winds up dead.

It builds on the idea that choice not chance determines human destiny. But on foreign shores not everyone is what they seem and choices can be ill informed, which can have disastrous consequences.

Feather and Claw has sun, sea, sand and suspects a plenty and with romance subtly entwined in a dark web of crime it makes ideal holiday reading.

I also love being outdoors, going for walks. It’s a must for me! I grew up with Scooby Doo and love the original version, reminds me of being a kid again. And, oh my goodness! A fractured skull and stolen feet! WoW! I’m so happy you made it home safely, recovered, and resumed  your literary ambitions. It was a great pleasure Susan, having you be a part of MTA. Thank you! – Camilla

Feather and Claw is available from:

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07L8DSF2V
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Feather-and-claw-Susan-Handley-ebook/dp/B07L8DSF2V

Find out more about Susan and her books at:

Website: https://susanhandley.co.uk
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SusanHandleyAuthor/
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/@shandleyauthor
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/susanhandley

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Meet the Author: The Duke’s Regret by Catherine Kullmann

Today we’re traveling to Dublin to chat with Catherine Kullmann. She and I discuss how retirement, family trees, table plans, elephants, Jane Austen, dreaming of scenes, and a travel notebook come together as part of Catherine’s life and writing style. Get ready as we’re stepping back into the first quarter of the nineteenth century for this one.

Tell us a bit about you.

I’m Irish and live (again) in Dublin in my old family home. I have been married for over forty-five years, the first twenty-six of which I spent in Germany, my husband’s native country. We returned to Ireland twenty years ago this year. I worked as an administrator in the public and private sectors and took early retirement ten years ago. It was only then that I had the time to write.

In which genre do you write?

I write historical romantic fiction set in the extended Regency period in the first quarter of the nineteenth century.

How many published books do you have?

Four novels and a gothic short story that was the result of a challenge to write about ‘period zombies’.

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

I have always loved writing, and drafting was an important part of my professional life. I did not have the time, energy and mental space to write fiction until my retirement.

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

I draw up elaborate fictional family trees for my main characters, going back several generations. If I am writing an important scene at a dinner, I’ll draw up a table plan, working out who sits next to whom and I draw floor-plans of my characters’ homes. The odd thing about this is that I am hopeless at drawing!

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

I love elephants and have quite a collection of small ones in all sorts of materials. I think they would be good guardians and protectors.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

I am very fortunate to have a lovely study with a bay window. Bookcases for my research library and framed engravings of my period vie for space on the walls. I don’t have a radio or CD player; although I love music I find it too distracting when I write.

What are you currently reading?

Martin Walker’s latest book in his Bruno, Chief of Police series; The Body in the Castle Well. We know the Dordogne area of France where they are set quite well and it is always a joy to return there in spirit. Unfortunately, every time I read one of his books I say, ‘We must go back to the Dordogne’ although there are so many other places we want to visit and revisit.

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

I read, listen to classical music, travel, go to the opera or concerts, meet friends.

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?

Jane Austen. If she did not think it too presumptuous a question, I would like to know why she avoids showing how her characters arrive at their happy end. She tells rather than shows, at times very briefly. No modern editor would let her get away with it. I would love to read another couple of chapters of Mansfield Park, showing us how Fanny’s and Edmund’s relationship change and to hear what Anne and Captain Wentworth said on their walk in Persuasion.

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

That I had the stamina and self-discipline not only to write the first draft of a novel of one hundred thousand words but also to continue through the arduous refining process of editing, editing and editing again. And having done it once, to do it again! And also that I had the courage to present my writing to the world.

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

I have dreamt at least two scenes, out of sequence, but waking with such a vivid impression of them that I have written them down at once and then left them until I reached the appropriate part of the draft. If I’m writing an elaborate dance scene, say with the Regency waltz, I get my husband to walk through the steps with me so that I am sure the arm positions and turns are correct.

Do you journal write or keep a personal diary? 

I have a travel notebook where I jot down impressions and ideas when I am away from home but that is all.

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

I practise my talk aloud over and over again. I also read aloud the extracts I propose to read to the group and note if there is any section I am inclined to stumble over. Before I start, I square my shoulders, take a deep breath and smile.

What do you miss about being a kid?

Nothing. I had a happy and unremarkable childhood and was more than ready to reach adulthood.

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

None, really, but then the only cartoons I remember are Bugs Bunny and Micky Mouse.

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

He says, “Can you tell me the way to the Ice Bar?”

Do you believe things happen for a reason?

No. I don’t believe in fate but in free will, even if the consequences are sometimes harsh. It is up to us to deal with what happens to us as best we can.

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

I am clear-minded and honest, also with myself.

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

Glenmalure, a valley in Co. Wicklow. You can sit on a grassy bank beside burbling stream and listen to the bird-song as peace envelops you.

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

On the rare occasions where my husband is away for a whole day, I enjoy having the house to myself. I potter a little, cook a nice meal, open a bottle of wine and, ideally, settle down with a new book by a favourite author that I have saved just for this.

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

Some characters slip into your books unplanned and unheralded only to play a pivotal role there. So it was with Flora, the young Duchess of Gracechurch. Flora’s own story reveals itself more slowly. Married before she was seventeen and trapped in a loveless marriage, she befriends young wives whose husbands are ‘distant,’ helping them find their feet in the ton. The Murmur of Masks and Perception & Illusion Books One and Two of the Duchess of Gracechurch Trilogy, tell the stories of two of these wives. My latest book is Book Three, The Duke’s Regret, and Flora herself takes the lead.

Thank you for your interest in me and my writing.

Thank you Catherine for sharing insights into your life and writing style. It was such a pleasure having you be a part of MTA. All the best to you! – Camilla

The Duke’s Regret

A chance meeting with a bereaved father makes Jeffrey, Duke of Gracechurch realise how hollow his own marriage and family life are. Persuaded to marry at a young age, he and his Duchess, Flora, live largely separate lives. Now he is determined to make amends to his wife and children and forge new relationships with them. Flora does not know how to respond to her husband’s suggestion. Can Jeffrey break down the barriers between them and convince her that his change of heart is sincere? Flora must decide if she will hazard her heart and her hard won peace of mind for a prize of undreamt of happiness.

Where to find the books:

UK Amazon: https://amzn.to/2VCLaFc 

US Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Hme2YD 

Connect with Catherine:

Website: https://www.catherinekullmann.com
Facebook: fb.me/catherinekullmannauthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/CKullmannAuthor

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Meet the Author: The Stars in the Night by Clare Rhoden

Today we’re traveling to Melbourne Australia to chat with Clare Rhoden. We’ll talk about how a wolf, a teddy bear, Aurealis Magazine, and reading really, really quickly come together as part of Clare’s life. Watch out for the cow pats … Let’s get going …

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a writer and book reviewer from Melbourne Australia. I write historical novels, science fiction, fantasy, odd short stories, and a whole load of highly unusual genre-mush stuff that I intend to keep in the bottom drawer.

Like, forever.

How many published books do you have?

Nowhere near enough yet! 🙂

My fourth novel will be published in the second half of 2019. Being published is a dream come true.

What would you choose as your spirit animal and why?

I have decided that the wolf is my spirit animal, and I very much hope that the wolf would agree. I’ve collected so many fabulous wolf pictures on my Pinterest boards! They are the most magnificent creatures.

But probably my spirit animal is a teddy bear.

As a child I burst into tears every time my mother washed my teddy and hung him on the line. Poor Big Ted. He looked so miserable pegged out by his ears. As you would.

What are you currently reading?

I review fantasy and science fiction for Aurealis Magazine (https://aurealis.com.au), and at the moment I’m reading the hilarious satire ‘The Year of the Fruitcake’ by Gillian Polack. An alien is trapped in a menopausal human body while researching the planet. No more needs to be said!

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

Even if the scene I am writing is dire, the act of writing takes me to a calm place. For me, writing is a physical kind of solace for the anxieties of the mind. I didn’t realize that before I went full time. Now a day without writing makes me itchy. Really itchy.

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

The dog who lives with me and my family is a seven-year-old golden cocker spaniel/poodle cross called Aeryn. Or Muppet Face, Fluffy Bum, Smoocher. And also Bionic Miss and Ka-ching!, because she has had two complete knee replacements that cost thousands of $$$$s.

I would like to ask her: ‘Why do you hate the rubbish truck so much?’, ‘Why do you have to sit in my lap when I’m typing?’, and especially: ‘What’s so good about rolling in cow pats?’

BTW, she responds to all her names.

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

My only super power is that I can read really, really quickly. I know it’s an unfair advantage, but I’m keeping it.

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

The Stars in the Night is the my latest publication. It’s historical fiction starting with WWI, with a bit of a love story, a fair amount of family saga, quite a bit of tragedy, and the odd bit of wry humour. The characters have lived with me for quite a while and I sometimes take Harry’s advice when I’m dealing with difficult situations…

I’m thrilled to bits to see this book out in the real world. Plus I’m completely in love with the cover.

Thank you so much Camilla. It’s so interesting to see what other writers are thinking and doing.

I absolutely love the cover too Clare! The color combination and scenery is beautiful. I’m glad you’re enjoying the interviews put forth here. That means a great deal to me. Thank you for joining us on MTA!! – Camilla

Book blurb:

Harry Fletcher is a confident young man, sure that he will marry Nora, no matter what their families say. He will always protect Eddie, the boy his father saved from the gutters of Port Adelaide.

Only the War to End All Wars might get in the way of Harry’s plans…

From the beaches of Semaphore to the shores of Gallipoli, the mud of Flanders to the red dust of inland South Australia, this is a story of love, brotherhood, and resilience.

Where to find the book:

Universal Amazon link: viewbook.at/clarerhodenbooks

Connect with Clare:

clarerhoden.com

Twitter: @ClareER

FB: https://www.facebook.com/clareelizabethrhoden/

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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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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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