My Monday guest – Tina K Burton

Today, I’d like to welcome Tina K. Burton back to my blog.

Tina

Tina writes short stories, articles, novels, and even the occasional haiku. She’s also a quilling artist. Both her novels, Chapters of Life, and The Love Shack, are signed with Crooked Cat Publishing. Her articles are on the OapsChat website and many of her short stories can be found at Alfie Dog Fiction. Tina is currently working on her third novel, in between doing her quilling projects, and when she’s not writing, Tina spends her time relaxing with friends, and taking her rescued greyhound for walks across the beautiful moorland in Devon, where she lives with her husband.

Walking Cherry

Welcome, Tina. How would you describe yourself as a colour? Think personality here. Are you a light and airy pastel person, or more of a deep, dark, sultry and mysterious colour?

Light and airy pastels because they are softer and more gentle. But, my favourite colour is blue and I do like that rich royal blue colour, so maybe a mix of both.

I love blue too. Tell me, if you could morph into any creature what would it be?

A bird.

If you don’t mind me asking, why a bird?

I’d love to be able to fly – I have lots of flying dreams and it’s such a wonderful feeling. I envy them the freedom to just be able to fly wherever they like, and the feeling of being in the open air is wonderful. The closest I’ve ever got was when I went parasailing. Hanging 400ft up in the air from a parachute was just amazing. It was so quiet and still and the view was wonderful.

Rather you than me, Tina. Laughs. At bedtime, do you like relaxing-so-you-can-sleep sounds? Or is your preference white noise, TV, soft music, ocean waves, forest or meadow sounds, babbling brook, or something else? 

I don’t really like any sounds at bedtime. All I have is the ticking of my bedside clock, which reminds me of when I used to stay with my maternal grandmother when I was a little girl.

Absolutely! What kind of music do you listen to? Do you have an all-time favourite song?

I don’t like modern music, but I do have quite a mixed range of music that I like, from rock – stuff like Queen and American rock bands such as Foreigner, Reo Speedwagon, Aerosmith – to folk music, seventies, and country. My favourite band ever though is Fleetwood Mac.

Yeah, they sure rock. If your life were a movie, Tina, would it be considered an action film, comedy, drama, romance, fantasy or a combination?

Probably fantasy because I’m often daydreaming and off in my own little world, or ‘away with the fairies’ as my husband puts it!

How do you handle a writer’s block?

I’m a quilling artist – which, for anyone who doesn’t know, is rolling up narrow strips of coloured paper into coils, which you then shape and use to make pictures and decorate items. It’s a very old artform – so I sit and do a quilling project when I can’t write. That helps clear my mind and I can get back to the writing.

Do you write long hand first, or does it go straight into the computer?

Straight onto a Word doc. I couldn’t be bothered with the hassle of writing it out by hand then transferring it onto the computer. Why make more work for yourself?

I agree. Do you always know how a story will end when you begin writing it?

Yes I do. I could never write a story – short or novel length – without knowing the ending. I have the whole thing planned out in my head before I start to write it down. I may add or change bits in the middle as I’m going along, but the ending always stays as it is.

The same with me. Do you like to read the genre that you write?

Yes, definitely. I read mostly women’s fiction, romance – not slushy Mills & Boon type stuff, but books by authors such as Erica James – and stories that are character driven rather than plot driven. I think it’s good to write about what you know. I don’t read a lot of crime, so couldn’t write a crime novel.

What are you working on now, Tina? Would you like to share anything about it?

My third novel is a story about a girl who suffers with Sudden Death Transisition. She’s killed while crossing the road and texting on her mobile, and finds herself back in 1932, where she’s looked after by her great aunt Clarissa. It’s a fun read, but with an underlying sadness. It’s great fun to research that era.

Do you have a new book coming out soon or recently released? Do tell us about it!

The Love Shack was released three weeks ago. It’s a fun read, set around a dating agency, and stars the hapless Daisy Dorson who stomps in to complain and ends up with an unexpected offer. There’s plenty of laughs, quirky characters and romance.

The Love Shack

I’m reading The Love Shack now – a light, fun read – and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. Please let my readers know how they can find you, Tina. Do you have a web page, Facebook page or any buy links?

You can buy The Love Shack on Amazon for Kindle and it’s being released in paperback soon too.

getBook.at/TheLoveShack

My author page viewAuthor.at/Amazonlookmeup

My Facebook quilling page – in case people want to learn more –

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Quillina/1446989932205225

Tina with Cherry

It’s been a joy interviewing you, Tina. And I’m sure my readers will love reading about you and admiring Cherry, your gorgeous greyhound. All the best with your writing, my lovely. As I said, I’m loving Daisy and her exploits in The Love Shack and your next book sounds intriguing. 

My Monday guest – Shani Struthers

I’m delighted to have the lovely Shani Struthers on my blog today. Thank you, Shani, for talking to us whilst you are on vacation.

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Shani and I met on Facebook a couple of years ago. She’s been hugely encouraging to me and it’s great to host her today.

Born and bred in the sunny seaside town of Brighton, one of the first literary conundrums Shani had to deal with was her own name – Shani can be pronounced in a variety of ways but in this instance it’s Shay-nee not Shar-ney or Shan-ni – although she does indeed know a Shanni – just to confuse matters further! Hobbies include reading and writing – so no surprises there. After graduating from Sussex University with a degree in English and American Literature, Shani became a freelance copywriter. Twenty years later, the day job includes crafting novels too. Writing both contemporary fiction and paranormal mystery, she is the author of The Runaway Year and The Runaway Ex, both published by Omnific Publishing. Her paranormal work is published by Crooked Cat Publishing and includes Jessamine and the bestselling Psychic Surveys Book One: The Haunting of Highdown Hall and Psychic Surveys Book Two: Rise to Me. All are available on Amazon. The Return – published June 2015 – is the third in the Runaway series but can also be read as a standalone. Coming soon: Eve: A Christmas Ghost Story.

Tell me, Shani. How would you describe yourself as a colour? Are you a light and airy pastel person, or more of a deep, dark, sultry and mysterious colour?

Colours – they are the bane of my life! I wear black – end of! But everyone keeps saying to me ‘you look so washed-out in black, wear something bright, red perhaps, green, you’d look lovely in green’ and so on and so on. Well, no, I’m not going to wear colours – I like black, I always have done and always will do. You’re not just a Goth for Christmas you know, I’ve taken a life-long pledge! 

Are you a morning person, or a midnight candle burner?

A morning person – up with lark I am and ready to crack on with the day. Having said that, I’m a bit of an evening person too – I tend to go out with friends around three times a week and never stroll in until gone midnight. Which makes me a ‘burn the candle at both ends’ type of gal, I think!

Tell me something you would like your readers to know about you.

I might wear black all the time, I might burn the candles at both end and I might write books that veer towards the dark side of the paranormal but actually I’m the most cheerful person ever! Honestly, I might look doom and gloom but I was born happy!

Bedtime, relaxing so you can sleep sounds. Is your preference, white noise, TV, soft music, ocean waves, forest or meadow sounds, babbling brook, or something else, Shani?

The sound of silence please at bedtime. A babbling brook could be play havoc with the waterworks and white noise is just plain annoying.

I agree, Shani. I need absolute silence for sleeping too. Tell us, when did you start writing?

Most writers would have you believe they’ve written since they could hold a pen, well, I haven’t. I spent a lot of my formative years devouring books rather than attempting them. In my teens I dabbled with poetry and then I got a job copywriting after university and have been doing that for a long time. It was only around 3 to 4 years ago I thought I’d write a book – that was The Runaway Year, a contemporary romance set in North Cornwall. It did well on submission, was duly published and sent me on my way. Several more books followed, two more in the Runaway series and my paranormal range, which I’m now concentrating on. Beware, once you unleash the muse, she won’t let you go.

HH Teaser 6

Please tell us, Shani. Where do you get your ideas?

They come at me from all angles, and often in the most bizarre of places at the most bizarre of times. There’s no shortage of ideas, look around you, at life, the news headlines, Facebook even, there’s a story brewing just about everywhere. My tip is be open to ideas, receptive, they’ll come to you, you don’t have to go looking for them.

When crafting the story do you go from beginning to end, or do you jump around writing the scenes that are pushing themselves forward in your brain?

I always write consecutive scenes; I start at the beginning and plod on to the end. I have a vague idea of plot but it is just that – vague. I prefer to let the story develop organically, when you do that, it often goes in a way you could never have anticipated. I think the reader doesn’t know what’s coming so why should I, the writer? I let my characters do what they want (within reason) and so far, so good. I’ve been advised in the past to plot and I have tried it, but I write best when I don’t outline.

Which geographical locations are your favourites and why?

I’m a travel writer by day so I LOVE locations! The Runaway series is set in North Cornwall, a place I absolutely love and have been visiting annually since I was a child. It’s rugged, it’s wild, it’s the perfect setting for a group of twenty to thirty-something’s to play out their lives against. Jessamine,  a paranormal romance, is set in the Highlands of Scotland – the Glenelg peninsula overlooking the Isle of Skye. It’s dramatic, mysterious and somewhat bleak surrounds suit the story perfectly. Last but by no means least, my Psychic Surveys series is set in Lewes, five miles away from where I live in Brighton. You gotta write about what you know and I know about my home county!

What are you working on now, Shani? Would you like to share anything about it?

I’m in Florida at the moment but when I come back in September I’m going straight into edits on Eve: A Christmas Ghost Story. A spin-off novella from the Psychic Surveys series, it features two of the most popular characters from it, Theo and Ness, who come together to work on a case in Yorkshire. Based on true events, it’s not just the market hall that’s haunted, it’s the entire town! I’m also working on Psychic Surveys Three: 44 Gilmore Street, which is due out in the spring of 2015.

Please tell us about your latest release!

Recently released is the third in the Runaway series – The Return. I say it’s the third, it can be also be read as a standalone and is quite a tearjerker I’ve been told by the readers, but it’s good to have a bit of a cry now and then I think, so I’m happy to be of service!

How can we find you? Do you have a web page, Facebook page or any buy links?

I do indeed, here’s the links:

Facebook Author Page: http://tinyurl.com/p9yggq9

Twitter: https://twitter.com/shani_struthers

Blog: http://shanisite.wordpress.com

Goodreads http://tinyurl.com/mq25mav

TSU https://www.tsu.co/shanistruthers

The Haunting of Highdown Hall

Global Link http://a-fwd.com/asin-com=B00JY83HBI

 Haunting of Highdown Hall Cover MEDIUM WEB

Rise to Me

Global Link http://a-fwd.com/asin-com=B00U4ZFO5W

 shani 4

Jessamine

UK http://tinyurl.com/ml3om46

US http://tinyurl.com/n5adytl

 Jessamine Teaser 3

The Runaway Year

UK http://tinyurl.com/oyb5r3v

US http://tinyurl.com/ousz5zb

 RunawayYear_Cover

The Runaway Ex

UK http://tinyurl.com/prz4nra

US http://tinyurl.com/op5zv5q

 RunawayEX_Sample13a

The Return

Global Link http://authl.it/3gl

 

The Return Cover LARGE EBOOK

It’s been fun chatting to you, Shani. I’m definitely going to download your Christmas ghost story. Sounds like the perfect read for curling up by the fire with a glass of mulled wine.

 

My Monday Guest – Muffy Wilson – talks about her new release “Moonbeams of Unintended Consequences

My new book was released June 11th by Yellow Silk Dreams Publishing in ebook and in print. The reviews are have been rolling in and I am humbled. I am so glad it is being met with such a warm reception. Thank you so much. 



Moonbeams of Unintended Consequences Is the story about a young woman who meets a young, rising black opera star post-symphony at an elegant reception held in one of the symphony benefactors mansions in San Francisco.

A greeting, a touch, a shared breath. Their worlds collide and ignite in an erotic explosion of volcanic proportions that neither could resist. How about a bit of a blurb and a tasty teaser? 

Enjoy ~  ☼ o√ ¸.¨¯`*..*˜”*°

Moonbeams of Unintended Consequences
by
Muffy Wilson
@SexyMuffyWilson
Yellow Silk Dreams Publishing

 

THAT night…

SHE wore a flowing, form fitted white spaghetti strapped
gown that cascaded in tumbled silken folds to her abdomen and revealed her
breath in the soft rise of her alabaster breasts. Her eyes reflected an emerald
depth with gold flecks that edged to hazel and were framed by neat, arched
brows that narrowed to her temples where her heartbeat announced the rhythm of
her life. Her only adornment was a starkly white gardenia nestled in the curves
of her auburn. The heavy floral fragrance of the corsage announced her arrival
as she glided elegantly to her aisle and settled, like a dove, into her center
seat. She was alone…but not for long.
Would she regret her indulgence?
HE was a towering, self-assured giant of a black man, chest
broad and arms outstretched in opulent black leather. His intense black eyes locked
irresistibly onto her and declared his hunger. The opera house erupted with his
full bass-baritone harmony. His musical seduction began, and his hypnotic gaze
was met by her eager response as she answered his desire with a blush.
But, was his desire enough?
THEY spent an insatiable night together in Room 457 of
the Historic Whitcomb Hotel locked in a magnetic embrace riding moonbeams of
passion and ribbons of desire that wove them irretrievably together in ways that
only the future would disclose—a future neither of them ever anticipated. Would
the secrets of the past, of that one night, prove too much to bear as the future
unfolds the truth and the depths of her desperate need?
Would the life and death struggle she faced overshadow
the seeds of love planted a decade earlier?
 
 
The orchestra warmed up in a
disconnected, faltering collection of notes, strings and horns as the wealthy
patrons filed into the theatre and were settled. She wore a flowing yet form
fitted white spaghetti strapped gown with a backline to the small of her back
above the well-rounded cheeks of her ass. The cascading neckline tumbled in
silken folds to her abdomen which revealed her breath in the soft rise of her
alabaster breasts.
She was of medium height with an
envious rubenesque shape most men admired: long, shapely legs nipped tightly at
the ankle tapering to narrow, small demi-feet elegantly adorned in satin heeled
slippers with scarlet, well-pedicured peek-a-boo toes, full breasted bosom with
pert erect nipples stretched against the fabric of her gown, round hips that
accentuated a narrow waist and a lovely pleasing back that joined all her
sumptuous qualities. Her eyes reflected an emerald depth with gold flecks that
edged to hazel and were framed by neat, arched brows that narrowed to her
temples where her heartbeat announced the rhythm of her life. Her rounded
cheekbones accentuated the graceful curve of her jaw line as it narrowed to a
slightly dimpled chin below heart-shaped ruby lips. Her only adornment was a
starkly white gardenia nestled in the curves of her auburn curls that caressed
the pale white opaque flesh of her face. The heavy floral fragrance of the
corsage announced her arrival. She glided elegantly to her aisle and settled,
like a dove, into her center seat. She was alone.
The house lights dimmed yet she
glowed, demurely, in the white gown as if she were unmistakably the main
attraction.
She stared as he walked onstage:
a towering, self-assured giant of a black man, arms outstretched in black
opulent leather to embrace the audience, she felt to embrace her. His piercing
gaze locked irresistibly onto her, in all her radiant purity. His intense black
eyes seemed to declare his hunger.
The opera house erupted with his
full bass-baritone harmony. He sang, it seemed to Jordan, to no one but her as
she smiled quite involuntarily. Each throaty, reverberating note he released
strummed every nerve to her very foundation.
His musical seduction began, and would surely end she thought, with her
in his outstretched arms. 
Her petulant feminine petals
nestled in the protective mound where her thighs joined. They slowly filled
with her eager response and unfolded the protection of the essential pearl of
her existence as she answered his desire with a blush.
She sat through the entire
performance tethered to his gaze. The magnetism she could not resist overtook
her fully and her responses were involuntary yet welcome. She felt his gaze
through her gown caress her, push her, tease her and excite her with every deep
vibrato he released into the hall.
She was, therefore, completely
surprised when the lights raised and the fluid embrace of his voice was
gradually replaced by the swelling bustle of movement from the exiting
audience. She looked to her left and right, then up to the stage beautifully
shrouded by long red opulent velvet curtains separating her from the object of
the gathered passion in her belly.
Her reverie broken, she returned
to the moment at hand. As she rose, the romantic trance invoked by his voice
broke, the hold eased, and dropped shard by shard from her body so that she
could move. She gathered her wits, shook off the spell and seemed to float in
the afterglow with the others to the atrium. She exited the main entrance to the
broad threshold above the street below.
She took a few steps outside and
shocked by the damp San Francisco night, drew her wrap ever tighter to her
heaving breast, her nipples still erect from the seduction of the opera star.
She paused a moment, enjoyed the remains of her trance, and proceeded down the
steps to hail a cab.
The after symphony reception was
held at the home of one of San Francisco’s most prominent elite, a huge
supporter and member of the Symphony Board of Directors, Drake Morrison. Drake
and his wife Amelia were friends of Jordan’s parents who were absent because of
a holiday in the Orient. Jordan’s parents were regular supporters of the
Symphony and met the Morrisons frequently during intermission on most opening
nights for a glass of champagne. She had been invited as a distraction from her
solitude to join them on opening night at the reception in their home. She
agreed to attend eagerly as she often attended the symphony with her Mother
when her Father was unable.
She felt her low-belly tighten;
her heart pounded and her palms tingled with perspiration in anticipation. The
main opera lead and cast always came to the receptions. The non-profit
organization relied upon their attendance to boost donations so she knew she
would see him here and she wondered if he would even recognize her or if the
reverie of connection had been hers alone.
When he entered with his
entourage, he towered over everyone with his black elegance. He was beautiful,
a stunning black onyx statue carved to magnificent perfection. When she saw
him, only feet away, she staggered slightly as he turned to her with an
outstretched hand in greeting, eyes locked in a magnetic embrace. She lost her
breath and her heart in one moment as she touched his fingertips with hers.
He clasped her hand with the both
of his and pulled her close to his body with a knowing smile curled on the
curve of his chiseled jaw line. She felt his heat, was hypnotized by his aroma.
She knew then that he remembered her in the audience; he had sung to her, he
had sent his words in musical notes on foils to surround her, lift and seduce
her.
The moment was suspended when he
was directed to further introductions. He bowed ever so slightly with his
departure and barely whispered, a
bientot, mem’selle,
his breath searing her neckline. She weakened in his presence and felt ill-balanced on a
passionate precipice as he moved away. Their arms outstretched unwilling to be
parted, her hand slid from his as their fingertips relinquished an electric
hold.
A bientot, mem’selle,” he had said. She hung on every word with
rapt expectation for their next meeting as he moved into the crowd of admirers.
She watched as he worked the
room, seducing male and female alike with his charisma and brilliance. He was a
master in the simple ministration of his charm. He spoke with confidence,
smiled at nonsensical nervous banter and made everyone most relaxed in his
presence with an effortless touch.
The night edged on and she
resigned she was like all the others, seduced by the sheer presence of the man.
She sought out the Morrisons and bid them a grateful goodnight. She went into
the library where her wrap was hung. A manly black hand extended and took it
from her grip and as she spun, he curled her into his embrace as well as the shawl.
            “My
room key at the Hotel Whitcomb. The town car service I called to
take you there is waiting outside. Room 457. Have I presumed too much?” as he
pressed himself to her body and the key card into her hand. The low melodious
tone of his voice melted any thought of resistance.

            “I, ah…No, you have not presumed beyond expectation.” She
kept her voice low in spite of their momentary privacy. “The Morrisons are long
time friends of my parents who don’t yet consider me a grown woman.” She smiled
into his down-turned eyes and smelled his heat. “I thank you for your
discretion.”
            He ran his fingertips from the wrap on her shoulder down the
inside of her arm to the soft swell of her breast and lingered. His fingers
caressed her naked flesh under her arm above the cut on the satin of her gown.
            Her knees buckled under the weight of her desire and he
caught her as she fell into his full embrace.
            “Oh, God,” she breathlessly gasped and looked up into his
dark eyes. “Do all women respond to you like this?”
            “You are not all women.”
© Muffy
Wilson
Sensual,
passionate, timeless…. Muffy Wilson makes the reader feel as though he/she is
in the room with all the characters. This lovingly written story of love,
family and healing is so well told, you will find it hard to put down. Your
heart will long for more and you wants to continue reading. Reading it out-loud
with my partner makes it more real than reading in silence. It is a story of
love, sacrifice and transcendence – enough to mend a broken heart. I highly
recommend this book.
This is an erotica
like no erotica I’ve ever read before. The book is written with lots of
metaphorically sensuous language, which is in itself an erotic experience. The
love story of Jordan and Mason, their two separate families and the price of
coming together, gave this erotica another unusual twist. There’s heat,
passion, love and strong family commitment. Enjoy!
This book is a
wonderful characterization of love between strangers, a timeless romantic
expression that brings all lovers to the same destiny. This is the story of struggle,
the telling of a long kept secret, the humbling sublimation of asking for help,
the private struggles of a man torn by love and pained by loss. It is the story
of how children can knit broken lives together with love and the ancient,
precocious innocence that only children possess. It is the story of growth,
love, passion and submission.
It is a story of the struggle between love and acceptance with a poetic
elegance similar to that of Jane Austen. And I loved it from the dedication to the final page.

Muffy Wilson’s
eloquent prose in her newest book, Moonbeams of Unintended Consequences, is a
milestone in romance novels. She weaves a unique plot that will keep your
interest page after page. Jordan is the mother of a daughter, Lily, who is in
very ill. When her former lover brings a new dimension to the story, you will
plead with the author to reconcile their love. I kept asking the author as I
read, will Lily’s innocence bring Jordan and her lover back to the love they
once enjoyed? You will find how Lily, both with her illness and innocence can
spark the flames to refuel the passion of love from the past. Muffy’s
descriptions and imagery goes beyond the realm of prose to poetry. The dialogue
is outstandingly believable. When I read scenes of interaction in her book, I
felt I was in the room with the characters. 
You will love this story and the
amazing talent of Muffy Wilson. 
I give 5 Stars to Moonbeams of Unintended
Consequences.
Muffy asked me to
give this book a critical reading pre-release, and I was pleased to find it is
a book with a full plot and a range of realistic characters. Romantic, yes;
sexy, yes; but so much more. A book you can get your teeth into.
~ Jacqueline
George

This story takes
the reader on a pleasurable cruise of a renewed romance brought to the reader
from the past of two characters. I fell in love with from the beginning to the
end of this book. Muffy Wilson as the captain brings us passion and hopes for
renewed love through the descriptions she intricately blends, savoring our
palettes with delicacies we never forget. We are catered to hopes for a cure
for Jordan’s daughter and what it might mean to her long lost lover.
Complications seem insurmountable, but with each turn of the page, a new
horizon is seen, bringing a mood for hope and continued passion between the
main character, Jordan, her daughter, Lily, and the man from her past, who will
steal your heart with his compassion, love, and understanding. I was blind by
the interracial relationship, observing the man who is more than an ordinary
man. He gives us hope for Jordan and Lily. Muffy guides us through treacherous
obstacles, only to restore our wishes for her sacred love and survival of her
daughter and the resolution of a love affair from the past that is renewed with
each page I turned. I full-hearted give Moonbeams and Unintended Consequences

5 Stars. I
thoroughly recommend this book to everyone.
Michael
Jordan

Yellow Silk Dreams PublishingBuy Link

 






















 
Muffy,
author of erotic, romantic stories about love, sex, hope and passion, was born
in San Antonio, Texas, to traditional parents. With two older brothers, she was
the youngest, the family “princess,” indulged and pampered. She
adored her older brothers, following them everywhere and was surrounded by
love, stimulation, and pets. Her father was a career Colonel and pilot in the
U.S. Air Force which required the family to travel extensively. The family
lived in most points between Alaska and France. Muffy spent her formative years
in Europe and came of age in France.
Returning from France with her
family, Muffy finished hig
h
school in Northern California and attended the University of
California
, Davis, and majored
in
Business Management. Muffy entered the work force, independent with a fierce
work ethic, and retired at 39 from IBM as a Mid-West Regional Director in the
Real Estate and Construction Division. She and her husband moved to a small
Island in northern Wisconsin where they owned a historic tavern, restaurant and
resort business which they since have sold. They now live a charmed life by the
water in SW Florida.
Muffy
pretends to be a serious real estate business person but, in real life,
indulges her private interest in writing sexy short stories and sensual
literotica ~ Live, Laugh, Love with Passion.

 

 
Previously
Published:
Secret
Cravings Publishing, Oysters & Chocolate, Decadent Publishing, Ravenous Romance,
Yellow Silk Dreams Publishing
 
Cheerleaders
in Heat
 ~ August 2015
Something Funny Happened
on the Way to the War
 ~ Dec 2015 
 

 

Buy Link                    Buy Link                 Buy Link                ***FREE***
 




Your Comments Encourage
 Thank you 
 °*”˜˜”*° 
Feel Free to Share
Live ~ Laugh ~ Love
with Passion
 
 

My Monday guest – Anthony Hogger.

Today, I’m absolutely delighted to welcome Anthony Hogger to my blog. Tony, as I like to think of him, and I met a couple of years ago on the writers’ review site YouWriteOn. Since then, we’ve been in touch on Facebook. Over to you, Tony!

Tony Hogger

Me: I’m 57, Married to Jan. I was born in the East-End of London and now live in a thatched cottage, in a small village, near Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire.

1024px-Windhill

How I write: I have my own office in the garden, so the views of the surrounding countryside are nice when I look up with a head full of nothing. I use an Apple iMac with MSWord. I don’t tend to storyboard, as many writers do. I suppose that is why I am more suited to writing about people and subjects based in fact. The plot is already there, I just have to put a different slant on it.

hertfordshire

Why I write: From an early age I enjoyed history, so I guess that’s where my inspiration to write about historical figures real and imagined came from. Although I received no formal education – I left school at 15 with not so much as an O-Level – I always loved writing essays and making up stories. An irony I always reflect upon is: I began my first year at secondary school in what was then 1.1 (1.1 being first year first class. 1.5 being first year bottom of the pile, so to speak). Within six weeks, I found myself demoted to 1.3 because my English grammar, punctuation etc. was so poor. It’s still not that great now, but I manage to wing it these days. I spent the first year languishing in a class I was clearly over qualified for and determined to improve – not least for the fact that my arm ached from constantly being raised. The second year I began in 2.1, so some pride, at least, was restored. Unfortunately, at the start of my fourth year the education system decided, in its infinite wisdom, to dispense with the ranking by intelligence and ability structure altogether. So, pupils who started life in 1.1, 2.1, 3.1 etc. were taught alongside pupils from 1.5 and so on. The decision was a disaster on so many levels as I’m sure you can imagine. I made friends with some particularly disruptive young people and my education took a nosedive from there on, a fact of which I am not particularly proud. In fact, it is a decision I shall always regret.

My book: Warrier King Legacy is about Vercingetorix, the man who united the Gauls to rise up against Rome and take on the legions of Julius Caesar.

Warrier King

My Inspiration: I didn’t need a great deal of persuading to want to base my first novel around the life of Vercingetorix. But, I suppose it originally stemmed from a character that Conn Iggulden touched on in a book from his Conqueror series. I have always had a penchant for the underdog and Vercingetorix’ is a fascinating story. It led me to read everything I could about the man, including Caesar’s de Bello Gallico, and to travel to the region from which Getorix – as I have dubbed him – is thought to have lived. The trip also took me to Alise-Sainte-Reine where the battle of Alesia is said to have taken place.

Photos, Statue de Vercingétorix, statue, Vercingétorix, vercingétorix, Eté

Photos, Statue de Vercingétorix, statue, Vercingétorix, vercingétorix, Eté

My current WIP: That’s a good one. I’m flitting between three different projects, at this moment in time, all completely diverse from one another:

The first is 95,000 words, set during the Napoleonic conflict, about a young woman’s quest to find her soldier father. The first draft has been finished for ages, but it needs a lot of work and I can’t decide whether to pursue it or not.

The second is set in London during the 70’ and 80’s. It’s a gangster yarn of 40,000 words, so far, but again, I can’t decide where to go with it.

The third is very interesting and probably more my sort of thing. The characters are fact based and that seems to be what most floats my particular boat. It is based on the true story of a group of Australian nurses, during WWII, who were gunned down by Japanese soldiers on a remote beach in the Far East. Despite being shot, one of them survives and spends the rest of the war in a prison camp. It is taking an immense amount of research, I’m a stickler for accuracy, but I guess that’s what makes my writing more interesting and exciting for me; finding out something new about a character every day and using my skills as a writer to make them live again. As I write this, I am becoming excited at the prospect of reading more about the event and putting my own stamp on it.

How am I finding the indie experience: Expensive and tedious, if I’m honest. I think I will attempt the traditional route in the future. I may never be a traditionally published author, who knows, but you have to be a marketing genius with time and money to burn to do it the indie way. Yes, there are many success stories for indie authors, but when you compare them to the amount of great writers, with great books, floundering in a sea of strategy and marketing nous, they are as rare as lottery winners – and, some of them, just as lucky. I’m currently in the process of giving away more copies of WKL, but you can’t even do that for free, certainly not if you want to make enough people aware of the giveaway. Simply telling friends on social media and punting to a few “totally” free sites is not enough. You have to pay the ones with bigger memberships and some, such as bookbub, want extortionate fees just to give your hard work away. Whinge over.

Inspirational place: I suppose that honour has to go to Rome. Both ancient and modern day, I love the place. Its history is overwhelming. I love nothing more than walking around the Coliseum touching its ancient walls and feeling its history. The wine’s good too.

ColosseumNight2

Wow, Tony! It’s been great to introduce you to my readers and get to know you better. I read the start of Warrior King Legacy on YouWriteOn and I’ve got it on my Kindle. Looks fascinating. I wish you every success with it and with your writing projects. Readers, you can connect with Tony on Twitter @tonyhogger.

 

My Monday Guest – Prue Batten

Today I’m absolutely delighted to host the lovely Prue Batten on my blog.

Prue

Prue and I met on Facebook a year ago. We share the same awesome editor, John Hudspith, and it was through his recommendation that I read Gisborne: Book of Pawns, a book I love. Wecome, Prue. Please tell us about yourself and your writing!

‘She lives too far away…’

That’s the one milestone moment I remember most about my early journey as a writer.

I had been selected by a consultancy to be shopped around London as a writer of promise. The agent most interested took a week to make up her mind and finally said: ‘She lives too far away. I know I shall probably regret this, but on the grounds of physical distance, I have to say no.’

Not writing ability, not story quality. But distance…

I was gobsmacked – we had email at the time, even video-conferencing. Now of course we have all manner of digital communication and I am stunned the agent could not see beyond her desk to what was happening with technology in the real world.

However, she did me a favour…

That same week, the UK peer review site to which I belonged (YouWriteOn.com) sent an email saying they were venturing into POD publishing, was I interested? I thought about it over lunch with the writer, GS Johnston, and decided I had nothing left to lose because I lived 42 Degrees South Latitude, would always do so, and thus it was best to take my fate into my own hands and become an independent writer. Unknown

My first book was print published by YWO.com in 2008. It was Book One of The Chronicles of Eirie – The Stumpwork Robe. Since then I’ve written three more books to close that historical fantasy chronicle. After concluding that series, I wrote a historical fiction trilogy about Guy of Gisborne – The Gisborne Saga. And I have just finished my eighth book – Tobias, the first of The Triptych Chronicles.

Eight books in seven years. For me, a huge achievement!

I’m a notoriously slow writer. Other indies pump them out but I am unable to. I have a demanding private life of farms, gardens, aged mothers and dogs. In addition, writing historical fiction requires that every fact must checked and crosschecked, and time drifts by. Added to that is the fact that I always pick something difficult, or something difficult picks me – my chosen timeframe is the twelfth century verging on the thirteenth and academic research changes its opinion as often as the weather changes!

But I’m never daunted. I plug on and fall in love with my characters and we trudge down the muddy tracks of Europe, sail across the Middle and Adriatic Seas and fight with guile and pure madness whilst all around us, genuine historical personages make our lives hell.

Through my indie career, I’ve been very lucky – I’ve won medals, been mentioned by the Huffington Post and talked about on Australian national radio. Most importantly, since 2012 all my books have ranked unbroken in Amazon UK’s Top 100 in various e-book categories.

So just occasionally I wonder if that makes the whole ‘living too far away’ thing just a little laughable.

My latest book, Tobias, to be published soon, is about a minstrel by the same name. For me it was a compelling story to write on two levels – one because I LOVE the avaricious and murderous history of trade and secondly because Toby is a dwarf, and for Toby to survive the rigorous Middle Ages, I had to learn a lot about the condition called achondroplasia.

TOBIAS_BookOne_Cover

But then, did Toby survive?

I have a reputation for killing off my favourite characters, you see, so it may be a valid question but you’ll have to purchase the story to find out. But just to entice you – here’s a short piece from the novel – I hope you enjoy it:

Scene: Constantinople 1195. Inside Sancta Sophia which we now know as Sancta Sophia:

Dana pulled Toby behind a great porphyry pillar and shook her head.

‘What?’ he asked.

‘I don’t know. Something…’

The porphyry chilled Toby’s back as he leaned hard against it. ‘Did you hear the sound of booted feet as well?’

Dana nodded.

‘Not novices then. Jesu wept!’ His heartbeat began to bolt and his hand leaped for his sword hilt, but Dana grabbed his arm, shook her head and held a finger to her lips. The sun had almost disappeared from the west-facing windows below the cupola and the many mosaics were now lit gold upon gold by flame. The smell of burning candles, a thousand upon a thousand, blended with the smell of olibanum from the ornate gold thymiateria.

Perhaps the emperor was to grace the basilica and that was why the priests were anxious that all be peaceful and respectful. Tobias leaned out and examined the galleries but they were empty of candlelight and dark with shadow.

‘Toby, keep back!’ Dana hissed.

‘Why?’

But before Dana could answer, Toby heard a woman’s cry funnelling along the passage from the atrium.

‘It’s Zoë!’ He leaped forward. ‘Tomas is…’

But Dana grabbed the back of his tunic, hauling him back, holding his arm in a grip tighter than a wild boar’s bite. ‘No! Do not, Toby. We have to get out of here.’

Toby tried to shake her off.

‘Listen, you fool,’ she whispered in his ear. ‘Something has gone very wrong and we can be of no help if we are taken as well. Understand?’

Of course he understood but it infuriated him. The noise of heavy feet echoed amongst the porphyry forest and he and Dana slipped swiftly from one pillar to the next in the unlit shadows, moving toward the south end of the narthex. The whole place reminded Toby of a cave – dark on the edges, echoing, speaking of mystery and danger, and icy cold despite the warmth of a summer dusk outside.

He sidled round the pillar and gasped as six guards marched along the narthex with Tomas bound and gagged between them. Worshippers gathered in whispering clusters and one close to Dana growled, ‘A thief is what he is. Stole a saintly icon.’

Toby cast an anguished look at Dana.

‘Heed me, ‘ she whispered. ‘Is that Zoë?’

A woman with the face of the Theotokos walked out between four guards – upright, graceful but pale as the driven snow, fear rich in her eyes. Toby could bear it no longer and with thoughts in his head of a vulnerable English knight so long ago, he called into the reverend space, keeping out of sight.

‘Sanctuary, Zoë,’ he shouted in Greek. ‘Cry sanctuary!’

***

 hagia2

Siobhan, thank you so much for allowing me to guest on your blog. It’s been a true pleasure!

Prue, the pleasure has been all mine. I love your work and wish you every success with your new series. I can’t wait to read it. Readers, if you would like to connect with Prue, here are her social media details:

Website

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