A LITTLE MAGICK, ANYONE? MARIE LAVENDER’S GOT IT!!!

Prolific author and friend Marie Lavender has done it again and with plenty of charm: A Little Magick in one life that transforms many. Take a look….

 

A Little Magick

A Little Magick - final coverLittle Rosie goes to stay with her uncle. There she meets some new friends…and some enemies. She doesn’t know that her emotions will trigger something unusual. So far from home, suddenly Rosie has become a full witch like her mother. For a time, it is great fun to use her powers the way she wants, but can Rosie figure out how to use these newfound powers for good or will she be lost to the dark side forever?

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Excerpt

Now, she was going to Seattle, where Uncle Adam lived. She hoped summer there wasn’t as bad as she feared. Rosie didn’t doubt he’d try to make her comfortable, but he was a lawyer. All the lawyers she’d seen in town were stuffy. She wondered if he would be the same, not fun like her Daddy. Rosie released a long sigh.

“Cheer up, butterfly,” Mama said now, trying to get her attention. Mama often called her ‘butterfly’. She said it meant that one day, Rosie would come out of her cocoon and become something beautiful, extraordinary. Now she was termed ‘cute’, but she was told, she would be more when she grew up. Then she would have gifts. Rosanna didn’t know what it all meant; she only hoped she’d be taller.

“Hey, baby. It’s going to be okay. It won’t be long. It will be over before you know it. I know your Dad and I will be busy, but we’ll call to check on you. And if either of us can get away earlier, we’ll be right back to get you.”

“Promise?”

“Pinky swear.”

She giggled as Mama used her free hand to link her pink finger with Rosie’s. Then she sobered as, a few ALMteaserpromominutes later, the car exited the huge highway. They must be close. Her belly began to cramp with dread.

“Rosanna, Sweetheart, it won’t be so bad. I know Uncle Adam doesn’t have any kids, but he was a kid once too, you know. I’m sure he knows exactly what to do.”

“Does he have a pool? Can I go swimming?”

“Ah, I don’t know. I haven’t seen that side of the house. But, you’ll meet other kids in the neighborhood. Maybe you’ll make some new friends, hmm?”

“I doubt it,” she muttered.

“Come on, Rosie. I know this is hard. It’s hard for me too. Don’t you know how much I’ll miss you?” She patted her hand briefly. “Can you be a brave girl for me?”

She nodded. “Okay,” she whispered.

“Good girl. And don’t worry. It will go so fast, you’ll be amazed when I come back for you. You may not want to leave.”

She giggled again as Mama was being silly. Rosie shook her head. She couldn’t imagine wanting to stay in Seattle.

Pre-Order Purchase Links

Amazon:  http://bookgoodies.com/a/B00YJSGE40

Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/547154

Barnes & Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-little-magick-marie-lavender/1122044476

Kobo:  https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/a-little-magick-magick-series-book-2


Goodreads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25652268-a-little-magick

Author Bio

mariealternateBestselling author of UPON YOUR RETURN and 20 other books. Poetry winner of the 2015 PnPAuthors Contest. Honorable Mention in the 2014 BTS Red Carpet Book Awards. Finalist and Runner-up in the 2014 MARSocial’s Author of the Year Competition. Honorable mention in the January 2014 Reader’s Choice Award. Liebster Blogger Award for 2013 and 2014. Top 50 Authors on AuthorsDB.com. Winner of the Great One Liners Contest on the Directory of Published Authors.

Marie Lavender lives in the Midwest with her family and three cats. She has been writing for over twenty years. She has more works in progress than she can count on two hands. She is a multi-genre author. Since 2010, Marie has published twenty-one books in the genres of historical romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, fantasy, mystery/thriller, literary fiction and poetry. Her current series are The Heiresses in Love Series, The Magick Series and The Blood at First Sight Series. Feel free to visit her website athttp://marielavender.com/ for further information about her books and her life. Marie is also on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.

A list of her books and pen names are as follows:

Marie Lavender: Upon Your ReturnMagick & MoonlightUpon Your HonorSecond Nature; “Lovers Like Us” (from the book anthology, Poets & Writers in Action); A Little Magick

Erica Sutherhome: Hard to GetMemoriesA Hint of ScandalWithout YouStrange HeatTerror in the Night;HauntedPursuitPerfect GameA Touch of DawnRansomLeather and Lace

Kathryn Layne: A Misplaced Life

Heather Crouse: Express Café and Other RamblingsRamblings, Musings and Other ThingsSoulful Ramblings and Other Worldly Things

Author Links

http://marielavender.com/
http://iloveromanceblog.wordpress.com/
http://marielavenderbooks.blogspot.com/
http://marielavender.blogspot.com/
https://www.facebook.com/marie.lavender.58
https://www.facebook.com/MarieAnnLavender
https://twitter.com/marielavender1
https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MarieLavender/posts
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/marie-lavender/27/187/10a
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6938764.Marie_Lavender
http://authorsdb.com/authors-directory/1578-marie-lavender
http://www.pw.org/content/marie_lavender
http://manicreaders.com/marielavender/
http://amazon.com/author/marielavender
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJu8HjRVYCFOqcIoX6ZxdqQ/videos

BACK WITH MORE: AUTHOR RIVAL GATES AND MANDREAN REVENGE

Back with a new release, MANDREAN REVENGE, author Rival Gates shares the origins behind the Red Sapphire and offers a hint of what’s to come.

IN HIS OWN WORDS

Rival Gates Suit Enhanced(2)_peI was born in Port Huron, MI and was the youngest of four surviving children.  At the age of five my Father took a position as a magazine editor in Toronto, Ontario Canada.  We moved to a large city just outside Toronto called Mississauga.  The different cultures and demographics to which I was exposed formed many of the ideas for my story.

When I was thirteen, my Father’s declining health forced him out of work and our family struggled.  It was at that time that I decided to channel my negative energy into a constructive purpose.  I set out to write a short story about a magical gem called the Red Sapphire.  My brothers teased me that such a stone was simply a ruby.  That irony was part of the attraction for me.  After all, who would be writing about a Red Sapphire?  Years went by and we moved down to my Father’s home town of Harrow, Ontario on the shores of Lake Erie.  It was a drastic change from city life and I found myself retreating more and more into my ever growing story.  By age fifteen I had a two-hundred page hand written manuscript.

Advancing from high school to college at Michigan State University there was little time for writing and the project sat in a drawer in my parent’s home.  In spite of my lack of attention to writing, every night I would fall asleep working out details of the book and the series to follow.

I met a wonderful woman at Michigan State who agreed after graduation to become my wife.  As we started our family I began a career in retail management and sales.  For over twenty years I excelled in the field and even incorporated some of my knowledge into the book.  I hold my position in the greatest esteem.

While I rewrote the story several times on my computer, I did not attempt to publish it until the longest supporter of my writing, my Mother, became terminally ill.  She told me the last time I saw her how proud she was of the story I had created and made me promise to publish it and share it with the world.  With the loving support of my wife, our three children and the help of the good people at Solstice Publishing, I am fulfilling that promise.

When my Father (ever the editor) read the book, he told me how proud he was and that somewhere he knew my Mother was equally proud.  I present to you the first part of the saga which is my life’s work, “Quest for the Red Sapphire.”  May it bring you as much joy to read as it has brought me to write.

Rival Gates

MANDREAN REVENGE

It has been more than 2 years since Linvin Grithinshield returned from his life altering quest with the Red Sapphire as his prize.  Apart from surviving the regular assassination attempts he thought life had returned to normal.  Far to the north in the Mandrean Empire, however, trouble was festering.  In spite of Linvin’s best efforts, Lord Mandrean the 13th survived their confrontation and has been plotting his reprisal.  With his empire on the verge of revolt he needs a show of force to display his dominance.  Dispatching Linvin in front of his subjects would fill that role most handsomely.  With the help of his evil Necromancer, Mandrean kidnaps Linvin’s Uncle Anvar.  The elderly elf is the closest family Linvin has remaining and has been a father figure to him for much of his life.  The emperor promises to release Anvar only after Linvin has surrendered himself for execution.  Though Mandrean’s word has slight credibility, Linvin is given a terrible decision to make.  With little choice Linvin sees no other option but to set out for the empire.  He cannot delay as Anvar’s life will expire at the first frost of fall.  That will become more troubling by the obstacles he faces along the way.

  • Q & A

The cover art is fantastic. Tell me about its genesis.

Cover RevengeThe artist wanted my ideas.  I wanted the embattled protagonist (Linvin) displayed ready for war yet unaware of the evil, demonic forces watching him and about to ruin his world.  The image had to invoke fear in the viewer and I believe it does.

Game of Thrones continues to hasten the quest renaissance begun by the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit reboots over the past decade.  What’s your take on the on-going popularity of this genre?

Many of my Twitter followers are fans of Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings.  They have brought younger people into the genre.  It’s refreshing because I hear new points of view and opinions about various aspects of the series.  The genre continues to grow and that bodes well for my books in the future.

Let’s talk about Mandrean and Linvin. For me, David and Goliath instantly spring to mind. Who did you think about when casting these characters?

In making the characters I envisioned a bully and his gang against the new kid on the block.  David and Goliath is not far off.  Linvin is a great warrior.  But he is up against an entire empire that hates him.  The odds are so ridiculously stacked against him that he must always find a new way to survive.  He is the guy you want to root for and love to see succeed but this time he may have taken on too much to handle.

Good v. Evil never gets old in art and in life. What value do you place on balancing the two? Should an antagonist have sympathetic qualities?

You see flaws in both my good and evil characters.  A key point I have always believed in is that good and evil really depend on your point of view.  Lord Mandrean thinks he is in the right and so does Linvin.  As an antagonist you have to feel for Mandrean.  He is clueless about so many things and is manipulated with ease.  Even writing his character I found myself feeling sorry for him sometimes.  Then he would remind me of why he is the antagonist and the feeling would go away.

Sapphires come in many colors. What made you decide to go with red?

Great question!  I’m surprised no one has ever asked me that.  A red sapphire is really a ruby.  It is called a sapphire because in the backstory a Great Sapphire Prism of the Cosmos was wiped over the world because the magicians had too much power.  This broke the magic up into 6 colors of the spectrum with red and blue as the most powerful.  Then a blue and red piece were broken off and given to the world with equal power.  One would protect life and the other would seek to dominate it.  It would be up to the individual masters to determine if good or evil was stronger.

Strong male characters v. strong females. Do you feature any in MANDREAN? Can we expect more?

I have several strong male characters and one particularly strong female character.  There are more female characters in the book but I wanted this one to stand out so that she was more important.  If I had half a dozen strong females then she wouldn’t be so special.  There’s no telling what the future holds.

You’ve mentioned that you are Canadian-raised, American-born. How does this duality feed your fiction?

It played into the creation of Linvin.  He is half Human and half Elf.  Growing up neither race accepted him.  In Canada I was mistreated growing up as an American and in America I was ridiculed as a Canadian.  Neither place accepted me very well either.  When I lost my Canadian accent it became a lot easier but I poured a lot of that resentment into Linvin.

Share with us the quote that inspires you most.

“Luck is the place where preparation and opportunity meet.”

If you could ask your interviewer a question, what would it be and why?

“Is there a question you want to ask but don’t feel like you can?  Why not?”  I always wonder if there’s a line you don’t want to cross as an interviewer and what it might be.

Thanks for dropping by Rival. Let us know how MANDREAN does and don’t hesitate to share another excerpt in the future. Cheers.

EXCERPT

Mandrean closed the door and was in a darkened room. A sole

candle on the nightstand was the only light. A great shadow was

cast on the wall from the dilapidated figure in the bed. Mandrean

moved slowly toward the man while his eyes adjusted.

“Hello, boy,” said the uncharacteristically soft voice of

Gramlick. “I am afraid I cannot play today. I am not well. Maybe

after it stops raining we can go feed the horses.”

“I look forward to that, School Master,” Mandrean replied as he

sat in a chair by the bed with his head hung low.

Gramlick was a powerful looking man, even with his leg

amputated. His snow-white beard was in tatters but still worthy of

note. A lifetime of war and hard living had destroyed his body, but

some evil had hastened his demise.

“How are you, my friend?” asked Mandrean.

“Manenvious? When did you arrive? I was just having a dream

in which we were about to feed the horses apples in the barn. Do

you remember those days, Boy?”

For the first time, Mandrean smiled in a sincere fashion. “Those

were wonderful days. You were my teacher from my earliest

memories,” the middle-aged emperor recalled. “Under your

guidance, I have learned everything from reading to battlefield

tactics.”

Gramlick sat himself against the headboard on the bed. “And

after all these years, you come to my chambers now. Clearly the

doctors were serious about my prognosis. Only a great calamity

would bring you here in this fashion.”

“Your death is no certainty,” Mandrean assured. “You have

fought your entire life, and I see you fighting this disease for some

time.”

Gramlick tried to chuckle but began to cough instead. After the

spasm had finished, he spoke. “I knew I was a good teacher, but I

do not recall teaching you the medical profession. Nor did I teach

you to be a liar. That is a skill you developed on your own over the

years. I must say, Manenvious, you have never done it well. My

eyes can tell when you’re deceitful as easily as they can tell if

you’re awake. I suppose speaking untruths is a part of politics, but

I expect honesty when dealing with me. Come to peace with the

fact that I am about to leave this existence. I have. Then tell me

what you need to say. You seek my council one last time. Yes?

Ask and I shall give you my final lesson though the words will

sting. You rarely like my answers, but they are always the truth.”

Mandrean contemplated as tears formed in his eyes. He

observed his mentor and tried to hide his pain. Pockmarks were

evident on Gramlick’s leg. “Did they leach you?”

“Oh, yes,” replied the general. “Those slimy creatures feasted

well today. Speaking of that, I understand you come from court

with its own form of parasites. Come. Unload your burden.”

“Your ears must be good if you can hear all the way to court,”

Mandrean answered. He stood and began to pace with his hands

behind his back. “Are you sure you are up to hearing this?” the

emperor asked hastily.

“My mind is clearing, and I have no other plans at this moment.

Tell me your troubles, Boy.”

“Very well, my teacher, I am surrounded by incompetent,

selfish fools! Those generals cannot even manage their own

territories. Even the simplest of tasks are too much for them to

handle. All they do is complain and secretly push their own

agendas.”

“That should come as no surprise. Those are the same greedy,

selfish men you and your father promoted to those positions. They

have not changed for the better. Why would you expect power to

do that for them? Tecious has been a loyal servant of the crown for

years but long ago lost his appreciation for anything other than his

title. His inability in the field drove your father to make him a

trainer. Even in that position, his apathy infects his work and your

legions. He uses the cane when I know he need not. The man has

no passion for his posting.

“Maxion is as dirty as coal. You know this. You have known

this. Yet he remains in power. He steals your taxes and starves

your slave-workers in the mines so that he might sell the excess

food to pay for his extravagant lifestyle. No number of troops will

stop starving people from rebelling. And those in rebellion will

mine precious little ore. Still, you do nothing.

“Donorus executed an invasion I planned with overwhelming

force. In spite of his victory, he neither seized the assets of the

former nation’s treasury nor has been able to control the

population in spite of several years of occupation. As a result, their

people pay no taxes and he is incapable of extracting the funds.

Still he portrays himself as a mighty commander. He is a joke. His

own people lack respect for him. They should all be discharged

and replaced.

“That leaves our new Western commander. What do you think

of my handpicked replacement, Tathbar, in particular? Did he not

please you?” the general asked.

“I cannot believe you of all people would make him your

number two,” Mandrean raged. “He is arrogant and a whelp.”

“So were you when I stood by you in court at his age,”

Gramlick noted with a touch of irony. “He is poorly mannered and

lacking in military experience, but he is a capable administrator

who speaks plainly. It seems that these days those are the most

important functions a provincial governor has.”

“You are right about his military background, Gramlick. He

actually suggested disbursing our military stores to the people.”

“Yes,” Gramlick said. “I agree with him and endorse the plan.”

Mandrean was in disbelief. “Not you as well?”

“Tathbar is right, Lad. We have to redistribute the grain to feed

our people and stabilize the economy. The embers of revolution

are growing. Hungry citizens will only add fuel to this fire until it

is out of control. Such a fate would be the end of the empire.”

Mandrean looked betrayed and retorted, “And what of

Romadon and her armies?”

“Oh, you and Romadon again. It really turns your stomach that

we had to make peace with them years back…does it not? They

are no threat to invade now or any time soon. Their forces are

defensive in nature, and they have no need or desire to press our

borders. Defending the vast expanse of their own land is taxing

enough. They have a wealth of natural resources and goods for

which we could trade. We have precious few trade partners.

Adding Romadon to the list would enrich both sides.”

“Where has your fight gone, old one? They are but waiting for a

chance to strike us at our weakest moment. With no long-term

supplies, we would not be able to hold for long. We should attack

them and take their resources by force.”

“Fight? Listen to yourself, Boy. Even if I am wrong and they

did attack, you still have plenty of forces to repel them. But that

will not happen. I know their king too well. He has had his fill of

war for the moment. With the Goblin Nations quarreling with one

another and our invasion efforts downgraded, he will turn his

attention to his domestic agenda. His borders are as far out as he is

willing to go. Even if their king were to attack us, it would only

help our situation.”

“How, teacher?” Mandrean inquired as he came over to the bed

again.

“If the empire was attacked, the people would stand behind you

to repel the invaders. It would give you the backing you lack. But

as I said before …Their king is not so foolish. Tend to your own

borders and the souls within them.”

Mandrean found the tone insolent but would not escalate the

argument with a dying man. “So you’re saying that distributing the

grain is the best way to deal with this situation?”

“Distributing the grain is the only way to appease the people,

save the economy and your throne. I know it. Tathbar knows it.

And deep down inside you know it. Tathbar did not approach the

subject well, but his solution was still best.”

The emperor was taken aback. He hung his head and bit his lip.

With his face staring at the floor, he spoke in a quiet, subservient

tone. “Do you know what you ask of me? It is too much? I cannot

let go of the dream of conquering Romadon.”

Gramlick touched his protégée on the arm. “I know what I ask,

my lord. I ask that you be a good ruler—a good emperor—and do

right by the people who hold you at such heights. They know

nothing of your dreams for glory or conquest. They only know that

they have served the empire loyally for years.

“A nearly foreign army of purchased slaves protects them and

occasionally pillages their land. Their roads are falling apart and

clean water is becoming rare. Now food is in short supply while

this army of slaves eats their fill. There is great resentment. Fix the

roads. Mend the land and the water. Make your people prosperous.

Then reorganize the legions to include humans again with archers

and cavalry. The infantry-heavy units you have favored since the

war with Sartan are inflexible and cumbersome to command.

When the Empire is strong once again, Romadon will still be

waiting.

“Marinhalk and your court are viewed as uncaring tyrants in all

the provinces. The people are tired of war. What do they see of the

empire’s gains? Only a hand full of the wealthy nobles reaps the

benefit of new lands. The peasants see their taxes paying for goblin

thugs to mistreat them while our engineers are sent to assure

conquered people’s roads are in good order.

“Your empire is crumbling under its own weight, my lord. You

have much to do in order to remedy that, and I will not live to see

your actions take effect. Every job must start somewhere and this

one begins with feeding those upon whose shoulders you stand.

Let your name go into the history annals as the Lord Mandrean

who restored the empire to its former glory, rather than the one

who let his people starve so that murderous goblins would have

excess.”

The words painted a turbulent and terrifying picture for

Mandrean. No one save for Necromancer would dare regard him in

such a way. He began to search for holes in the plan so that he

might disprove the theory.

“The army would mutiny.”

Gramlick coughed hard and then replied. “Most of these goblins

have been here for less than four years. They come from a land

where no one ever dies of old age. Only war, disease and hunger

claim lives. Their existence here is far better than they would ever

have in the nations, even if that means they build roads.

Remember, we are only talking about distributing the storehouses

of excess food. The army’s rations will not be touched.”

Mandrean paced beside the bed again with his hands on his

waist. The idea of again postponing the annexation of Romadon

still sounded too radical for him. He resolved to find a more simple

solution. There had to be a way to appease the people and remain

ready to go to war at any time.

One idea of note came to mind over and over, but he did not

want to discuss the matter. Mandrean wished to place all the

responsibility for the discord in the empire at Linvin’s feet and

assign blame. He could sense the response he would receive if he

mentioned his plan. Deep down inside Mandrean’s soul was a

place where he could not hear his own lies and was truthful with

himself. The voice from there told him Gramlick was right but

blaming all his miseries on Linvin was easier than admitting his

own failure and soothed his ego.

At that moment, he thought he could manipulate the situation.

After Gramlick’s death, he could enact a plan against Linvin

without fear of disapproval from his teacher. If Mandrean never

discussed his notion with his mentor, he knew he could convince

himself that Gramlick had no qualms with the plan. An even

deeper truism was that Mandrean, in time, could even convince

himself that Gramlick would have approved.

Gramlick knew his former student better than anyone and read

his expressions like pages in a book. He knew what Mandrean was

thinking of doing. He also knew that his opinion needed to be

heard by the emperor. The trick was bringing it up in such a way

that the topic appeared to be Mandrean’s choice.

“Give an old warrior some elixir, boy.”

Mandrean brought a cup of medicine over. It contained roots

and the like in a solution, which dulled the senses. After taking a

drink, Gramlick winced and laid his sweat-soaked head back on

the bed.

“So I heard you whipped Tathbar. Did the grain distribution

upset you that much?”

“It wasn’t that at all,” Mandrean stated. “He mentioned that

elf’s name. You know it is banned.”

Gramlick had made the emperor open the subject. He could not,

however, take pleasure in his simple maneuver. The general tried

to put on a good face but was beginning to fade. “So you publicly

humiliated the commander of your largest army because he dared

to say Linvin Grithinshield?

“It would seem that I have chosen a battle I cannot win with

this leg of mine. You do remember the lesson about that, don’t

you?”

“Yes, school master…Fight no battle you cannot win. It was the

second lesson you taught me. It followed the one about never

underestimating an opponent. I never forgot.”

“You may not have forgotten, Lad, but you have paid them no

heed.”

Mandrean jerked his head over at Gramlick who knew he had

special privileges at that moment. The emperor’s teeth ground

together, and his face tightened.

“Tathbar knew the rule and deliberately broke it,” Mandrean

fumed. “And Grithinshield will pay for all the trouble he has

caused.”

Gramlick’s vision was failing so he paid attention to the

direction of Mandrean’s voice to maintain the illusion of sight. “I

think you give the Sartanian too much credit. Our troubles are not

his doing.”

“How can you say that?” Mandrean erupted while coming to

the bedside. “You know what happened. That man humiliated me.

He destroyed my palace…annihilated my elite guard, crushed

entire legions, and left me for dead in a pool of my own blood. Oh,

I give him credit. I credit him with creating this foul climate

throughout the empire. He has wronged me in the worst possible

ways, and he will pay for it. All will see that no one betters Lord

Mandrean and lives.

“He must die, to be sure, and his death will renew the people’s

confidence in me. The army’s morale will improve, and the

impotent group I met with earlier will pour the glory upon me like

a shower of golden raindrops. Forget the grain. The death of

Linvin Grithinshield will bring me all I desire.”

Gramlick was completely blind by the end of the oration. His

time was short. Mandrean had finally voiced his opinion, and

Gramlick had little time to get his point across.

“Boy. Grithinshield did not make the crops fail or the

conquered territory rebellious or the roads crumble or the Goblin

Nations fight. You credit the man for too much. His death will not

solve these problems. Most have forgotten the incident in the

mountains. The only person keeping this issue alive is you. You

seek revenge. That is an expensive thing that a wise emperor

knows he cannot afford.”

Mandrean was so self-involved that he paid no heed to the

faltering voice of his mentor. “I will have that revenge no matter

the cost!”

“Child, you have tried for a year to kill him. How many

assassins have returned—how many soldiers?” Gramlick began to

shake and start convulsions.

“Stay with me, schoolmaster,” Mandrean pleaded as he clasped

the general’s hand. “I need you.”

Gramlick fought to speak as his body contorted.

“There…is…more you must know. Acreas, Betrimpia and

Necromancer…. Don’t trust them.… They all want you dead for

their own…” Gramlick’s body stopped fighting and collapsed on

the bed.

LINKS

Web Site: http://www.rivalgates.com/

Blog: http://www.rivalgates.com/blog

Tumblr:   http://rivalgates.tumblr.com/

Facebook: Author http://on.fb.me/1qqrjiB

Series: https://www.facebook.com/thesapphirechronicles

Twitter: RivalGates1

Purchase “Quest for the Red Sapphire”

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1npYd0S

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1mSIAkT

Purchase “The Sapphire Crucible”

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1lGfOVN

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1n8o0yN

Goodreads “Quest for the Red Sapphire”

http://bit.ly/1u1DJxN

Goodreads “Sapphire Crucible”

http://bit.ly/ZqUav3

RECREATING SPECIAL TIMES THROUGH CHILDREN’S FICTION: MAIGHREAD MACKAY

margaret mackayPlease welcome author Maighread MacKay to the blog. Maighread and I met at a Book Trailer 101 class earlier this year and have been great friends ever since. Thoughtful and contemplative, Maighread is also an artist. Always reaching, her first adult-themed novel STONE COTTAGE is set to release soon through Solstice Publishing. Welcome, Maighread.

Author’s bio:   

Maighread MacKay is an author and visual artist from the Greater Toronto Area in Ontario, Canada.  She is a member of the Writer’s Community of Durham Region (WCDR), and the PRAC (Pine Ridge Arts Council).

Her publishing credits include three books for children:   Bedtime Treasures, The Mysterious Door and the Crystal Grove written under the name of Margaret L. Hefferman. Her novel Stone Cottage is her first foray into adult literature. She has also published articles for a variety of magazines, including most recently, the Durham Region online magazine – More 2 Life 4 Women and the WCDR publication Word Weaver.

Where are you from?

I was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

What inspired you to write your first book?

My Mother read to me every night at bedtime when I was small. I loved the stories and the love and comfort that I received from her. I had written a number of short stories over the years and when my Grandchildren came along, I wanted to leave them a legacy of those stories so that they and future descendants who will not know me personally, will have a glimpse into who I am. I compiled some of the old stories with new ones plus a poem and published it as Bedtime Treasures, hoping to recreate the special time my Mother and I had for other families.

Did you like reading when you were a child?

Absolutely. It was my favourite thing to do.

What were your favourite books as a child?

That’s a hard question as I had so many. My Mom would read to me from The Bumper Book and Maggie Muggins. One of my favourite books, which I still have, is entitled Artie and the Princess. The main character is Artemis Peter Edward Aldebert Jehosophat Dragon…Artie for short. He was the inspiration for my Peabody character in Bedtime Treasures. As I got older, I loved all the Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys mysteries. Mysteries have always had a draw for me and as an adult, I have read all of Agatha Christie’s books.

For what age group do you recommend your books?

Bedtime Treasures is to be read to the child by an adult, so it is suitable for any child that wants to share that experience with a special adult in their lives.

The Mysterious Door is a first chapter book, so is suitable for a child who likes to read by him/herself. It is not too long to be intimidating, but enough to be fun for them. Age wise, probably around the 10 -11 year old, maybe a little younger or older depending on the likes of the child.

The Crystal Grove is a sequel to The Mysterious Door and is a little longer and more involved. Again, it would be suitable for the same age range as The Mysterious Door.

Where did you get your inspiration for The Mysterious Door and The Crystal Grove?

A few years ago I was studying Celtic Shamanism and the first meditation that we did was to travel to the otherworld and meet our Guardian animals, who would be our guides and guardians whenever we travelled to the otherworld. I loved the exercise and felt it would make an excellent adventure story for children so I wrote The Mysterious Door. I also thought that it may be a useful for any parent that wanted to share the meditation experience with their children.

The Crystal Grove came about as I was listening to all of the news reports on bullying. I remembered being teased as a child for being smart, wearing glasses and having a physical deformity. The remarks and pranks were very hurtful and my self esteem was very low. I spent a great deal of time trying to make people like me and worrying about what other people thought. As I have aged and studied, I have learned that “I am not a human being having a spiritual experience, but a Spiritual Being having a human experience”. I wish I had known that when I was younger. I hope that any child who reads The Crystal Grove will learn who they are much earlier than I did.

From what you are saying, it appears that your books have hidden messages or morals. Do you agree? (Morals as in like Aesops Fables type of “The moral of this story is..”)

Yes and no. The books can be read just for the story, but there is an underlying message to them.

What life experiences influence your writing?

I have always been interested in mysteries…none more so than the mystery of life and why we are on this planet. I was raised as a fundamentalist Christian, but my curiosity has led me to study Eastern mysticism, Native theology and culture, Celtic Shamanism, Buddhism and a number of other modern theologians and spiritual writers. When I write, first and foremost I want to tell a good story that people can connect to, but I also hope to get them thinking about new paradigms of life on earth that they, perhaps, had never thought of before.

Would you say you’re a “happy ending” writer?

Yes, or if not, I try to give the reader hope that things will get better. That is one of my main goals…to write an encouraging book that will leave the reader feeling good about themselves and life in general. We are fed a plethora of frightening propaganda and news through today’s technology and I like my writing to counteract that fear and provide some balance.

Who is your publisher? Or do you self-publish?

I published the children’s books under Soul Asylum Publishing, which is a self publishing company located here in Canada.

Do you write other genres?

Yes, I have just completed an adult novel Stone Cottage, which has been picked up by Summer Solstice Publishing, out of Farmington, Missouri. They are a traditional publishing company, so I am very excited to move on to the next level.

Did you change your Author name for this book?

Yes. For my adult books, I will publish them under the Pen Name of Maighread MacKay.

What genre would you place Stone Cottage into?

It is paranormal fiction and deals with life, death, reincarnation, past life regression and second chances. Here is a short synopsis:

Victoria Anne McBride is dead, mourned and buried. Unfortunately, she doesn’t see it that way and refuses to move on. There’s something she needs to tell her husband, Will. Until she does, she will wait for his return to their home, Stone Cottage. For as long as it takes, she will wait…wait…wait.

Rebecca Wainwright is a 21st century woman. Determined, her world is perfect and in control. Just the way she likes it. Tragedy strikes and she descends into chaos. Trying to heal, she searches for a sanctuary…a place of her own, away from the burdensome concern of her family and best friend. A place where she can lick her wounds without anyone watching. She stumbles across a lovely stone home located off the beaten path and feels completely at home, as if she’d been there before. Why is she so drawn to this place? How can it help her to heal?

Perhaps, Victoria Anne can help.

How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?

Stone Cottage will have taken me three years by the time it comes out later this year.

If this book is part of a series…what is the next book? Any details you can share?

I am currently working on another novel entitled (so far) Friday: Dinner at Mother’s. I haven’t decided for sure if it will be a sequel to Stone Cottage, but at the moment, I am working on that premise. It is a murder mystery with a feisty ghost and some interesting characters. Hopefully, it won’t take me three years to finish it, but at the moment I am in the middle of research and interviews to get the scenes correctly.

Who do you feel supports you aside from family members?

My friends at the WCDR (Writer’s Community of Durham Region). They are a group of writers, artists, editors, publishers, etc. who are very supportive and helpful to anyone who would like to write. The workshops, classes and retreats that I have attended have been enlightening and have helped me up my game. I have learned so much through them and highly recommend the group to anyone wishing to learn and grow as a writer.

What are your views on editing?

Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. Get others to review your work. If you are self publishing your work it should be reviewed and critiqued by colleagues and/or a professional editor. You get so close to your characters and know them so well that you often forget the reader doesn’t know them at all. An editor will pick up any gaps in the story, inconsistencies, scenes that don’t fit, structure that needs to be modified…any number of things that will enhance your writing. Even if you are going to send your work to a traditional publisher, make sure that it is the best that it can be before sending it off. Their editors will also look at it and recommend changes, but make it absolutely the best it can be before shopping it around.

Which format of book do you prefer, eBook, hardback, or paperback?

I love the feel of holding a paper book in my hands. That said, I have read a number of books in eBook format and thoroughly enjoyed them…but there is something about holding a solid copy of a book in your hands that is quite delightful. I prefer the new Trade Paperback size. It’s soft cover but larger than the traditional paperback (and the print is bigger so I can see it! Lol)

Do you think books transfer to movies well? Which is you favorite/worst book to movie transfer?

I think it’s hard to transfer a book to a movie because in the book you can get the nuances of character that are sometimes lacking in film. Also, depending on the length of the novel, scenes that you felt are vital to the plot of the story are left out. You can lose yourself in a book in a way that is not always possible in the movie. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed all of the Harry Potter films even though they couldn’t do the books justice.

I’ve been told by many people that they think Stone Cottage would make a good movie. Wouldn’t that be fun?

Now let’s learn a little more about you. What’s your favourite colour?

Blue/green with purple a close second.

Your favorite food is?

Good question. I love to eat and it depends on day. I also like to try new things. One thing I’m not fond of is Brussel Sprouts. Yuck. An Sushi…not a big fan of Sushi. I do love fruit and at this time of year, I love salads made from Spring mix with fruit, nuts, goat cheese and chicken. Mmmmmm.

Your favourite genre of music?

Again, depending on my mood I like an eclectic mix of music. Some days I like the New Age/meditation music. Other days I want to dance around the house to Bluegrass or Country. I also like Scottish and Irish ballads with such groups as Celtic Thunder (of course they’re not hard to look at either). Of course, there’s always the Golden Oldies with Elvis, Roy Orbison, the Everley Brothers, the Righteous Brothers etc. Now that’s fun music.

What books/authors have influenced your life?

Again, there are so many it’s hard to pick. Neale Donald Walsh and his Conversations with God series is good. Robert Schwartz with Your Soul’s Plan. Excellent book to expand your thinking. Wayne Dyer, Ted Andrews…books about angels, past lives, quantum physics, …the list goes on.

For light reading, I really enjoy J.K. Rowling, Norah Roberts, Mary Balogh, Amanda Quick, Jayne Anne Krentz and numerous others. Sigh. It’s so hard to pick just one!

What interesting fact do you think your readers might enjoy knowing about you?

Well, one thing I did quite a few years back, I attended clown school with my husband. I had a mime clown character named Sunshine and he was Jellybean. We used to do shows at various churches around the province. We even got a call to perform in Arlington, Texas! It was a lot of fun and we really enjoyed performing for the children.

How can your reader’s reach you?

They can contact me through my website at www.mhefferman.ca. They can also view my book trailers on You Tube at Margaret Hefferman Stone Cottage.

Thank you Margaret, and best of luck with the new release.

Bedtime Treasures

Bedtime Treasures jpgBedtime Treasures is a collection of 8 short stories and a poem that will capture your child’s imagination, while gently sharing with them valuable life lessons.

  • Tag along with Myrtle as she deals with a bully and discovers what friendship really means
  • Read how The Beautiful Peach Tree learns about jealousy and being the best she can be
  • Listen as David begins to understand what beauty and harmony are all about
  • Read the old legend of the Spring Goddess Ostara and her companion, the rabbit
  • Join Mandy as she travels on her great adventure and finds that she just has to be herself to have friends
  • Follow Peabody the Dragon and read why he is so sad and then watch as he and his friends face their fears in the Fearsome Phantom of Pirate’s Cove
  • Stand with Elliott, the Christmas Star, as he finally accepts himself for who he truly is

The poem, Grandmother Moon, will soothe your child to sleep with sweet dreams and happy smiles.

I hope that you and your little ones will enjoy reading these stories together, as much as I enjoyed writing them.

Sweet dreams,

Margaret L. Hefferman

The Mysterious Door

The mysterious doorWhile practicing in Emma’s backyard for the school baseball team, Charlie hits a ball into the woods.  When Emma searches for it, she finds an old oak tree that is very unusual.  Calling Charlie, she asks if he notices anything different about the tree.  “Oh, my gosh,” he says.  “Do you mean the door?”  “Okay, so you do see it.  I thought I was seeing things,” replies Emma.

From that moment on their lives change as they approach the door, open it and enter a totally new world.  They meet talking flowers, Pip, a Leprechaun, the Hunter and many animals, including their Animal Guides as they journey through a small portion of the Otherworld and run into a tricky problem on their way back home.

The book also leaves us with a few questions.  Will the door be there the next time they wish it to be?  Who is the caretaker of the tree?  Where will their next visit take them?  Why don’t some of the animals like them?

The Crystal Grove

They Crystal GroveHow could I have been so stupid?  Why would Kyle think I’m special?  I’m nobody.  He’s hot.   No wonder he likes Cindy better.  I don’t fit in with them.  I hate my life.  It sucks big time.

After being betrayed by a friend, Emma is having a hard time believing in herself or feeling she is worthy of being liked.  Charlie suggests they go back to the Otherworld to find Mystique, Shadow and Ramses to see if they can help her.  Discovering they have dangerous enemy in Anu, the yellow tiger, this journey will be more perilous than the last.  As they make their way to The Crystal Grove, they will need all of their strength and courage to outwit the new threat.  Their own friendship is tried as they learn things about each other they didn’t know.  New friends are introduced who help them reach their destination despite the challenges they face.  When they arrive at the grove, the Goddess Quan Yin helps them remember Who They Really Are and how to deal with Emma’s problem

Links

Website: www.mhefferman.ca

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

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/pub/margaret-hefferman/29/3b/650?domainCountryName=&csrfToken=ajax%3A5440960073888923967

You Tube:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCALeVhVIkWq5q0-S8VqxuiA

SPOTLIGHT! CONTEMPORARY ADULT FICTION WRITER LINDA K. SIENKIEWICZ

SPOTLIGHT Linda

LindaKSienkiewicz-book-photo-300x247Ohio born Michigan resident Linda K. Sienkiewicz and I met on-line at Twitter hashtagfest #1lineWed and have been friends ever since thanks to a shared love of art. Whether through the paint brush or through the printed word, Linda expresses herself with zest and conviction. I am delighted to know her. Her new book IN THE CONTEXT OF LOVE is in preorder on Amazon. I can’t wait to tuck into it.

Here’s what her publisher has to say:

What makes us step back to examine the events and people that have shaped our lives? And what Context-of-Love-Cover-high-reshappens when what we discover leads to more questions? In the Context of Love, contemporary fiction by Linda K. Sienkiewicz, revolves around the journey of Angelica Shirrick as she reevaluates her life, and its direction.

Returning from their first visit with her now imprisoned husband, she tries to figure out where it all went so wrong. Can she face the failures and secrets of her past and move forward? Can she find love and purpose again? Her future, which once held so much promise, crumbled like dust after the mysterious disappearance of her first love, and the shattering revelation that derailed her life, and divided her parents.

The book is already garnering high praise from critically acclaimed authors such as Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of the NY Times bestseller,Deep End of the Ocean: “With humor and tenderness, but without blinking, Linda K. Sienkiewicz turns her eye on the predator-prey savannah of the young and is still somehow hopeful.”

Sienkiewicz is a writer and artist who is always searching for a good story. Her poetry, short stories and essays have appeared in over fifty literary journals in print and online, and her awards include a Pushcart Prize Nomination. She holds an MFA in Fiction from Stonecoast at the University of Southern Maine. Linda lives with her husband in southeast Michigan, where they spoil their grandchildren and then send them back home.

BUDDHAPUSS INK LLC is based in Edison, NJ. Founded in 2009, it is led by Publisher Mary Chris Bradley, a thirty-two-year veteran in the book industry. “Our company mission is to put readers first. We are committed to finding and growing new authors at a time when the major houses have turned their backs on writers without an already well-established track record or movie credits to their name.”

http://www.BuddhapussInk.com – Website

SEE THE BOOK TRAILER

Freshly minted, this beauty gives readers a taste of what’s ahead IN THE CONTEXT OF LOVE.

BE SURE AND VISIT HER CONTENT-PACKED WEBSITE

http://lindaksienkiewicz.com/

BUY LINK

To buy In the Context of Love on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Context-Love-Linda-K-Sienkiewicz/dp/1941523048/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

MORE LINDA

twitter: https://twitter.com/LindaKSienkwicz

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/linda.k.sienkiewicz

pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/lindaksienkwicz/

goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5623982.Linda_K_Sienkiewicz

ROMANCE AUTHOR GILLI ALLAN TALKS ABOUT HER NEW RELEASE AND HAS A GO AT THE PROUSTIAN QUESTIONNAIRE

It’s with great pleasure that I welcome multi talented artist, author Gilli Allan to the blog. As her biography suggests, the road taken was not a direct one, yet it yielded amazing results. A woman after my own heart. Welcome Gilli.

Biography

P1010802 - Copy (2)Gilli Allan started to write in childhood, a hobby only abandoned when real life supplanted the fiction. Gilli didn’t go to Oxford or Cambridge but, after just enough exam passes to squeak in, she attended Croydon Art College.

She didn’t work on any of the broadsheets, in publishing or television. Instead she was a shop assistant, a beauty consultant and a barmaid before landing her dream job as an illustrator in advertising. It was only when she was at home with her young son that Gilli began writing seriously. Her first two novels were quickly published, but when her publisher ceased to trade, Gilli went independent.

Over the years, Gilli has been a school governor, a contributor to local newspapers, and a driving force behind the community shop in her Gloucestershire village.  Still a keen artist, she designs Christmas cards and has begun book illustration. Gilli is particularly delighted to have recently gained a new mainstream publisher – Accent Press. FLY OR FALL is the second book to be published in the three book deal.

 

FLY or FALL

Cover FOFEleanor – known as Nell – thinks of herself as a wimp.  Even though her life has not been easy, she clings to the safety of the familiar. Married young and dependent on her teacher husband’s wage, Nell has stayed at home, in Battersea, with her children and her increasingly invalid mother.  Following the death of her mother the family’s fortunes suddenly change.  Trevor, is wildly enthusiastic about their ‘move up in the world’; he plans to give up teaching and move house away from London.  Nell, however, is gripped by a nebulous fear of some unknown disaster waiting to trip them all up, but her husband, steamrollers her objections.

Now in her early thirties, and living in an unfamiliar landscape away from old friends, Nell feels cast adrift.  She is increasingly aware that Trevor is no longer the man she married, and their young teenage twins, Jonathan and Juliet, are grumpy and difficult. The women she meets, Felicity and Katherine, seem shallow and promiscuous. The new house is unwelcoming and needs modernisation; she’s thrust into a continuing chaos of rubble and renovation.  Patrick, one of the men working for the building firm, is infamous as a local Lothario, but he doesn’t make a pass at her. At first she’s grateful – she’s not that kind of woman – but her feelings towards him grow increasingly confused and ambivalent.

When Nell takes a bar job at the local sports club, she is exposed to an overheated atmosphere of flirtation and gossip. Influenced by her new friends and the world in which she now moves, she begins to blossom and to take pleasure in the possibilities which seem to be opening up for her. She meets and forms a deeper friendship with the quirky, new-age Elizabeth, a very different character to her other friends.  As Nell begins to enjoy herself and to become enthusiastic about her life, it seems her husband is on a downward trajectory, on the opposite end of a cosmic seesaw.  When she is pursued by a beautiful and enigmatic young man, called Angel, she is tempted into behaviour she would never previously have imagined herself capable. The earthquake, felt as a tremor of apprehension at the start of the story, rumbles through her life and the lives of those around her.  When the dust settles nothing is as she previously understood it.

FLY OR FALL follows the dismantling of all of Nell’s certainties, her preconceptions and her moral code. Unwelcome truths about her friends, her husband, her teenage children and even herself are revealed.  Relationships are not what they seem. The hostility between brothers is exposed and finally explained. And the love that blossoms unexpectedly from the wreckage of her life is doomed, as she acknowledges the hair’s breadth between wishful thinking, self-deception and lies.

By the conclusion of FLY OR FALL everything has altered for Nell, the woman who doesn’t like change. But she has rebuilt herself as a different person, a braver person, and she has embarked with optimism on a totally transformed life, a life that offers the chance of love.

Deep into her book tour, Gilli took time to answer The Proustian Questionnaire…

Proustian Questionnaire Image BIG

What are your thoughts on muses and do you have one?

 

I don’t have an external muse as in an ideal or mythical individual who inspires me.  In my understanding, the muse is more associated with visual artists or poets.  But I will try to answer this by offering a fictional muse.

When I was fifteen I read Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment.  I can’t now say whether this confirmed in me a predilection I already had, or was the original spur to the direction of my writing. The main protagonist of the story, Rodion Raskolnikov, is an impoverished student with a Napoleon complex. Believing that greatness in an individual elevates him above the normal constraints of humanity, Raskolnikov murders a couple of unpleasant, money-lending old crones, partly to steal from them and partly to prove his theory. If he is great, he can do this without guilt or remorse.  But extremes of guilt and remorse then pursue and torture him for the rest of the book.

I have never written about an axe wielding hero who feels impelled to prove his superiority in so drastic a fashion! But I have always been fascinated by the tortured or damaged hero. Over and over again I have given my main male protagonist guilt and pain from some unresolved misdeed or loss in his past.  Raskolnikov has a lot to answer for.

Characters have a great capacity to love, yet they’re starved. Why do you think this happens in fiction and in real life?

 

A lot of people are self-defeating when it comes to love.  I know I was when I was young.   At heart I think I was frightened of a relationship with a real, flesh and blood man, so I only ever set my sights on men who were unavailable to me. They were either gay, already engaged or married, or were womanisers who already had a bevy of more sophisticated, glamorous and experienced girlfriends.  Added to this, I only ever fell for men who were very attractive and, despite being asked, refused to go out with those who fell short of my ideal, so I further limited the options open to me.

In fiction it is far more interesting to follow characters who fail to find love until the final pages – to follow their ups and downs, and their travails. If they meet near the beginning of the book, realise they are in love and consummate their passion straight away, where is the story?

 

Without giving spoilers, would you say you’re a “happy ending” writer?

 

I already had two books mainstream published when I joined the Romantic Novelists Association (the British equivalent of the Romance Writers of America).  The RNA is a broad church; it covers a very wide range of women’s fiction from historical, through category romance and chick-lit, to erotica.  Even though the membership writes in a wide variety of different traditions, it is very clear that the great majority of readers – and writers – of romantic fiction prefer the ‘Happy Ever After’ resolution to a story.  Readers can feel cheated, and even become angry (and leave bad reviews!) if they are disappointed.

When I started out, my understanding of all this was pretty close to zero, but I wanted to be published. In my first book, Just Before Dawn, I followed many of the tropes of romantic fiction – including the HEA. Because I found a publisher swiftly for that book, I blithely felt ‘let off the leash’ when I came to start my second novel. In Desires & Dreams I simply wrote the story that was unfolding in my imagination, and I’m afraid I killed off my hero.  I still say there was no way he could have survived. To stay true to the story and the characters, he had to commit suicide. But it was not an entirely doom laden ending.  There was the strong implication that my heroine would grow, and become more independent and proactive about the direction her life was taking.  I still defend my belief that that book WAS a love story and, more importantly … my publisher loved it!

Since those days, and knowing what I now know, I have never been so cavalier.  I do not write the flurry of confetti and wedding bells type of ending, and my stories might not resolve exactly as every reader wants them to, but they are upbeat and offer the chance of future happiness.

 

If you could dine with any historical figure living or dead, who would it be and why?

 

I write contemporary relationship fiction, but I’ve always been fascinated by Richard III. He would be my guest and I’d feed him a dose of truth drug in his dinner so that I could get the ‘once and for all’ low-down on what really happened to the princes in the Tower.

Past, present or future? Where does your mind dwell?

 

Although I have a good visual memory, my memory is poor for facts and figures, names and dates. I don’t dwell much in the past. I envy those who can call up the detail of past adventures, and match faces to the names of old schoolmates, teachers and colleagues.  I recall the headline facts of my life and, of course, there are individuals who stand out, but I can’t relive past events in any detail.  That is one aspect of ageing I’m quite looking forward to. I hope to be able to call up passages from my life that at the moment are lost to me, or are only an impressionistic blur.

I do sometimes worry that I wish my life away. I don’t absorb and enjoy ‘the now’ sufficiently.

So I have to admit that I am always thinking to the future. What if….? What next….?   Supposing…?

What informs your writing most?

 

The best way I can answer you is to try and explain why I write what I write.   When I first started down this road, I was driven by the desire to write the story I wanted to read.  I was ten and ‘my book’, written in a small form notepad, copiously illustrated, was only a few pages long.  In my teenage years YA books did not exist and writing the book I wanted to read was the driving force that continued to impel me.

Now I read across a range of genres and I can find lots of books I enjoy – but there is still a gap (fortunately a narrowing gap) in women’s fiction.  I enjoy contemporary fiction with a developing love story at its heart, and this is what I write, but I need something broader and more involving than the central relationship.  In my own writing I try to honestly reflect the world I live in. Relationships are not straightforward – there are problems and issues which can challenge the most committed relationship.

To paraphrase the original blurb from my book TORN, I like to face up to the complexities, messiness and absurdities in modern relationships.  Life is not a fairy tale; it can be confusing and difficult. Sex is not always awesome; it can be awkward and embarrassing, and it has consequences. You don’t always fall for Mr Right, even if he falls for you. And realising you’re in love is not always good news.

In the Seventies, school kids were encouraged to think globally and act locally. Have you ever flirted with this philosophy?

 

I’m not much of a joiner and I can’t say I was particularly active in any way. I was aware very early of the ecological problems the world faces, and the over-use of the world’s resources. On the local level, I hate litter and have been known to pick it up when I’m on a walk and bring it home to dispose of.  I’m tolerant and broadminded and hate religious, sexual or race prejudice.  I stood with a crowd outside the South African embassy in London once, to protest against apartheid and wouldn’t buy South African produce.  I supported Women’s Liberation but never actively campaigned for it.

Guilty pleasures: we all have them. What is yours?

 

When I was young my guilty pleasure was definitely pickles. Preferably pickled onions or the sour ‘cocktail’ type gherkins. And mustard pickle came in a close second behind those two. Pickles were a guilty pleasure because I would help myself to whatever was in the larder when I was at home on my own.  I would even concoct what I called a pickle mess – a helping from every jar of pickles, sauces, vinegar, mayo and ketchup. Sounds revolting now, but I liked it.

Reading the books of Ethel M Dell – English Edwardian lady novelist, who is arguably the first ‘romance writer’. They are very very funny.

Through my young adulthood I was always trying to lose weight.  I don’t have a very sweet tooth, but the moment I embarked on a diet I instantly craved doughnuts – all varieties – cream, jam, custard et al.

Now, I suppose, it is alcohol. I am always trying to drink a little less and feel vaguely guilty when I don’t stick to the new regime I’ve set myself.

Your greatest victory?

 

Having my son. I lost two babies before he arrived. So that was a momentous event, one I had to work at – a surgical intervention, a long period of hospitalisation and then living very quiet life.

Second to that is having the first novel I ever completed, published.

Tell us about the one that got away. Person, place or thing.

 

Different aspects of the ones that got away appear in every one of my books. More than that I’m not prepared to say.

What are some of the overriding themes in your work? Do you have a favorite?

 

I think this is answered in the above questions.

Who do you admire and why?

Nan, Pops & my mumAn impossible question.  I could name so many, Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, Emily Pankhurst, but they all sound a bit pious.  So I’m going to plump for my own ‘cockney’ grandmother, who we all called Nan.  Louisa Jane Routley was a small woman, but she was feisty and she was determined; in other words, a force to be reckoned with.

Born into a working class family in the east end of London, she wasn’t from a totally impoverished background but she had a poor and humble beginning in life.  She was her father’s only child; he died in the Boer war before her birth in 1899 and her mother then married his brother. Nan’s memories of her stepfather were of a man who became violent and abusive when drunk. She had several younger half brothers and sisters.

She was fourteen, when her eighteen year old boyfriend, Jim Kelsey, went to fight in WW1.  He was fortunate to be wounded badly enough to be invalided home from the Somme, but not so badly he didn’t make a full recovery. After recuperating, he spent the rest of the war in Ireland. They married and doubtless at her instigation, my grandfather (Pops) joined the Post Office – a respectable white collar job.  This was the beginning of their move up in the world. They married and had two daughters – the eldest, my mother – and moved house twice, to finally settle in the respectable outer London suburb of Orpington. She was the only one from her generation in the family, to manage this step up out of the class she’d been born into.

Nan’s incredible drive, energy and ambition were something to admire. Her house was always spotless.  Pops loved his garden, and Nan cooked, pickled, bottled and made jam. My salivary glands still respond when I think of her steak and kidney pudding and her apple pie. She was widowed when she was only in her 60s. Although devastated by the death of her quiet, kind, and dependable husband, she went on to live another 35 years, until she was nearly 104, still in possession of her faculties and of her fiery and indomitable spirit.

Are writers fully formed works of art or works in progress?

 

Definitely works in progress, I also believe that writers are born not made. In my view, having been put on this earth with the impulse to write is not the same as being a good writer. You may have the embryonic instincts and drive to tell stories, but you have to work at your craft. I know I am an immeasurably better writer now than I was when I had my first book published.

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FLY OR FALL- myBook.to/GilliAllan (universal)

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