Thursday, 28 March 2013

A Poem a Day (15): Spirit of green

Five-minute inspiration...

Spirit of green

We walk beneath the boughs
Treading a path of silken green
It meanders to and fro
As a stream of water flows

I listen to the murmurs
Of the leaves swishing on high
A green and yellow patchwork
That flickers below the skies

Daffodils bob their heads up
Tall in the easy coming breeze
Parcels of light investigate
Where butterflies flock to mate

We walk beyond the boughs
Into the street that opens up
Offering its grey, lifeless concrete 
Upon which our footsteps echo

Copyright Vickie Johnstone

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

A Poem a Day (14): Looking back

5-minute flash poems to keep the hamster wheel rolling...

Pink worm wriggles up
The rancid apple's core, so
Turning green to grey

Looking back

In the grey places where we once played
Life now stands still and empty;
A basketball hoop bends this way
The split black net having met its day

In my mind I wander down these streets
Where we used to hang and chat
In a bid to kill time that lasted too long
Laughing and singing to some 80s song

These days I sit and count the hours 
As sweet blessings I do not deserve
We treated things lightly like a feather
Yet a chance event changed us forever

It's funny how innocent we all were
Larking about in the midnight hour
Now I watch life pass outside my window
As this sand of mine nears the end of flow

Copyright Vickie Johnstone

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Words with... Diana Rozevskis #WW

Welcome and thanks to author Diana Rozevskis for this interview


What is your day job or are you lucky enough to write for a living?

I’m only working part-time at the moment as the kids keep me rather busy, as any parent will no doubt know. My jobs: beauty therapist and a bit of cleaning.

What books have you written so far?

Crystal Waters – It Began in Europe is my very first book to be published.

What works in progress do you have?

I’m working on book number two, Crystal Waters – And on to North America, at the moment in this series of seven.

How long did it take you to write your book/s?

I initially started book one six years ago, when I was pregnant with my second child. I only started it as a bit of a hobby and for my eyes only, but over the years I became braver and started to show it to people, including the writing group I had joined. It was not until I came second in a writing competition that I thought I had better finish it and get it out there for everyone to read.
Do you write linear, or jump back and forth? Do you plan or write by the seat of your pants?

I think it all depends on the chapter I’m writing and how much detail I need to insert into the story. For instance, the journeys in my books have specific routes along the countries’ rivers, lochs and seas, which need researching. Not only for the waterway names, but cross-referenced with the era as they go back in time. I’m a real stickler to try and be as authentic as I can, so my story becomes quite believable in the reader’s mind. Then, when all the planning has been done, I just type away.

Why do you write?

I absolutely love it and I have so many ideas jumping around my head most of the time that I think it would be a shame not to share them, don’t you think?

How long have you been writing?

I have always written stories since as far back as I can remember. It’s just a shame I didn’t recognise what I really wanted to be, a writer, a lot sooner in life. But I guess it’s never too late to start.

Where and when do you write? Do you have set times?

At the moment I write in my dining room when the kids are at school or in bed. But I’m soon to get a garage converted into a room and I’m definitely claiming that as my den. This move will be great for my writing schedule as it is rather sparse at present. I think once I get my den/office sorted, it will feel like I’m off to do some real work and I will feel more disciplined, which I so desperately need.

Which character from your books do you like most / are most like?

I think there is a little of me in most of my characters. Yes, even Ceber, my purple dog! :)

What / who inspired you to write and still inspires you?

I am mostly inspired by my children. Although at times they can drive me crazy, they never cease to amaze, fill me with pride, capture my heart and crack me up in their quirky funny little ways. I’m a real people studier, so friends and family be warned – you may just find yourselves in one of my books one of these days.

What do you think is the ideal recipe for a good novel or story?

A good plot line, interesting characters and, above all, knowing your audience; what they like.

Have you ever based a character on someone from real life? And did you tell them?

When I think of a fictitious character for my book, I always find real traits in the people around me. Of course, this means most of my characters are a mixed bag of real people and not a specific one in particular.

If you had to pick some actors/actresses to play the characters in your book, who would you hire?

I must admit that I love to have an image in my mind when I’m writing about a character and, of course, actors/actresses are usually my first choice. Here are a few I thought about when developing my characters:

Fave things: animal? food? drink? film? colour? band? song? place? item of clothing?

This is a hard one; so many to mention, but if I have to choose one, here are my favourites:
Food – chicken korma
Drink – Dr Pepper
Film – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Band – Evanescence
Song – Good Enough by Evanescence
Place – by the sea
Item of clothing – black jeans with studded belt.

When you were a kid, what did you want to do / who did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was really young I wanted to be an air hostess or a pop singer. Of course, not being gifted with languages or singing, I had to have a back-up plan. J

Would you say that your dreams have come true or are you still working on them?

I think it’s still a dream in progress, but I’m definitely getting there.

You’re walking in the forest and you bump into an alien librarian from Mars. He wants five book recommendations from you…

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
Twilight by Stephenie Myers
Northern Lights by Phillip Pullman
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

Who is your favourite character from any book and why?

I think my favourite character has to be Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen. I just find her character determined and intelligent with a spirit and wit that can only be admired.

Who is your hero / heroine?

Apart from soldiers of war, I’m a little like Dumbledore with his view that “personally, I never have had much time for heroes”. Of course, the real heroes of life are usually the ones that go unrecognised: a parent’s unconditional love for their child; a young child suffering in terrible conditions, but bravery overcomes; the loss of someone dear and being able to carry on. These, to me, are true heroic actions.

Which book do you wish you had written?

Definitely the Harry Potter series.

Which three authors would you like to take to the pub?

J.K. Rowling, Phillip Pullman and Terry Pratchet.

Are you published or self-published? What is your experience?

I tried numerous times to go down the traditional route, but, like many others, I received many rejection letters to tell me I was unsuccessful. I even, at one point, came second in a new author competition with the promise of publication. This was, of course, before the company announced they were going into liquidation and could not fulfil their obligations. That was when I decided to take matters into my own hands and self-publish. I have a story to tell and I don’t want to waste any more time. I just want to get it out there for people to read.

How do you find the marketing experience?

It’s probably too early to say at this point, as I’m just getting started. I think I have a lot to learn still.

What advice would you give other writers just starting out?

If you have a passion for writing and have a story to tell that you think people will want to hear, get it down on paper and get it out there. But, above all, believe in yourself and I’m sure you will one day have the success you deserve.

Do you have a blog? What do you blog about?
Yes, my blog is at I usually use it like a diary about my writing experiences and where I get inspiration from. In the future it will be used to show events, where to buy my books and competitions. 

What other hobbies do you have?

I like studying crystals and I’m fascinated by the art of crystal healing.

What would you like to achieve in the next five years?

I hope to have all seven books written and published. I hope that everyone enjoys reading them as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them.

If you won the Lotto or a major publishing contract, what would you do with that dosh?

I would love to set up a company that helps new, up-coming authors. I know how difficult it is to just get the first foot on the ladder.

Complete one of these stories in 100 words or less…

There was once a wee worm called Fred (story option 1)
Who went to his friend and said
You have something to tell
A great story as well
So go follow your dream now instead.

What question do you wish I’d asked and, of course, what is the answer?

What is your book about?

Crystal Waters  - It Began in Europe.
It’s an adventure story, with a bit of ancient legends of the world mixed in. This first Crystal Waters book takes two sisters, Emma and Grace, back in time to ancient Crete, after they discover their gran’s magic crystal and a secret doorway in her cellar. They have a quest: to save the Gi-fyli tribe (Earth tribe) from the hideous monsters that terrorize and force them to live in the underworld caves. 

There are some well-known legendary beasts and some that are quite new, but there is never a dull moment for Emma, Grace, Robert, Herman (the gardener) and his purple dog, Ceber. Along the way, they make friends with the Mer-people and the Fyli-thentro (tree tribe) who help them with certain tasks, which they have to conquer, before they can move on. They must find and destroy Gran’s hairbrush, which she had left behind many years ago, thus creating the monsters. Emma and Grace, having similar DNA to their gran, are the only ones who can do this. So, the search is on to seek it out and rid the land of these creatures, once and for all.


Monday, 25 March 2013

A Poem a Day (13): The red visitor

Five-minute whimsical stuff that I wrote just now...

The red visitor

She blows in with the tide
Her skirts lifting in the breeze
Red hair twisting like leaves
Shoes speckled with dust

Many roads she has walked
Crossing fields and waters
Gripping a well-worn suitcase
Packed with an entire life

She sees summer in the skies
Though autumn cuts its tongue
Through the thinning trees
Making the broken twigs twirl 

Many conversations she has had
Some rich, poor or ragged;
Days she counts on her hands
Remembering but a few of them

She flows through this life 
Like a stream that never ebbs
Forwards she strides, confident
Of the waiting surprises ahead

Copyright Vickie Johnstone

Fairy Tale Giveaway Hop

Welcome to my stop on the Fairy Tale Giveaway Hop
This hop is in conjunction with the 3rd annual Fairy Tale Fortnight.  

I am giving away 2 ebook sets of the following books: 

All you need to do is answer the question in the Rafflecopter, which asks you what your favourite fairy tale is - please leave your answer as a blog comment. 
When I was a kid my favourite fairy tales included The Little Mermaid, Little Red Riding Hood and Sleeping Beauty.
A winner will be picked by random on April 3. Good luck!

The Kiwi Series

Have you ever wished your cat could talk or wondered 
where he/she goes when you are not around?

Kiwi seems like a typical moggie, content to nap in the sun and chase shadows, but she has a secret. She is a magical cat from a place called Cat City. With her two humans, James and Amy, Kiwi finds mysteries and adventures, dealing with catnappings, jewel thieves, giant rats, time travel, haunted houses, Father Christmas, pyramids and more. The fun stories contain positive messages about loyalty, friendship, honesty, bullying and the power of standing together. 
The books contain illustrations by Nikki McBroom. Furry fun for ages 9-99.

"Very well written fantasy about an alternate reality for cats. It creates a richly detailed place called Cat City where a suspenseful mystery story unfolds. Two young children are transported to this realm by their magical cat where they play an important role in solving a case of catnapping. The details of this world are amazing, but equally impressive are the details of the characters which are brought to life vividly by the author. I found myself laughing aloud at the many witty sections and comical situations. If Pixar is looking for their next animated feature hit, they should contact this author about an adaptation of this book." (Ed Drury)

Good luck in the giveaway. Click the linky to check out the other fantastic blogs taking part. Happy reading and writing to ya! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, 24 March 2013

A Poem a Day (12): haiku

Well, I haven't posted my 'Poem a Day' since March 8, due to lots of birthdays and being busy... mine, Gema's, Gurdip's and Angela's. You can see my problem... I'm so easily distracted and life gets in the way of writing. I started this idea because I hadn't been writing since the start of December, and it has been helping. I'm still working on my fantasy novel, so I guess this helped to kick my writing butt a bit! So, here's today's poems, hoping to keep the hamster wheel of creativity turning! Good luck with whatever idea you're using to keep your own words, ideas or graphics coming! :)

Cheers! And happy March Equinox to you! :)

Okay, so for more five-minute haiku off the top of my head...

Signs of morning bliss -
Bird song lifted on the breeze
Rippling through the grass

Lifted on a wave,
The blue board scoops up white surf -
Echoing dolphins

Tick tock starts again
Striking the witching hour
While we drown in dreams

Out of a mirror
He exits the shimmering
To walk here once more

With a "hee-haw" there,
Scampering across the field,
Fred wins his carrots

Copyright Vickie Johnstone

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Happy World Poetry Day !

As it's World Poetry Day, here are some... guess what? Yep, little poem things for you  ...  :)

Here's one that I wrote today...


Voices call me from the distant past
With dreams and hopes that never last
As morning wakes me in my mind's eye
I sense the distant draft of days gone by

Here are some I published earlier...

So we go

Into the night we go
Free as birds
Soundless and unseen
Trivial and green
Unknowing, unthinking
With no boundaries
No obstacles –
With wings, groundless


Ballet dancers painted by Degas
Bright sweeps across a canvas
Lithe bodies captured in movement
On tiptoes, a fleet of lace

Swan Lake shimmers in snow
White tufts of hazy dew
Tap-tap tapping across the stage
Soaring then to sink and fly

Leaping skyward full of life
Jumping in motions eternal
Over again in a silent curve
Showering the empty stage

Danced out and spent
They sit and wait chattering
Dizzy with a bright energy
That leaves them laughing

Painted with a sharp compass
That scrapes across the skin
The model suffers for her art
But marvels at the result

Captured for an eternity
She shares an enigmatic smile
Standing tall and straight
As still as a porcelain doll


A strange glow through my bedroom window
Woke me from my twilight dreaming
Rubbing my eyes I heaved on my slippers
Stumbling across the floor to glance outside

A yellow-green glow chased across the lawn
Dark shapes dotted all the lit spaces
Little green men with melon-shaped heads
Staggering with six arms and four stumpy legs

Heading towards me they wiggled as they walked
Tripping on stones and bobbing their faces
A dark green glow swimming among their heads
Carrying strange pointed objects I’ve never seen

Gripping the curtain I tried not to fall over
With laughter or fright, I’m really not sure
Not believing my eyes, I lay down to sleep
Swearing never to eat cheese before bed again 

Moon beams

Distancing the days
In her fragile accolade
The moon reaches down
Towards coloured boats bobbing
Twinkling she shines
Lighting the way
For every stranger passing
And old friends returning
She travels the skies
In a silvery glide
Always remembering
The shortness of time


Stillness wakes
The sleeping
In the silences
Between things

Frosted dreams
In the dark

Stillness turns
The restless
With the soundless
Slumbered dreams

Some haiku

Bend in the river
Where the sharpest roses grow
Shelter my repose

Rain fallen like stars
Sprinkles silver-like touches,
Dancing beside me

Thoughts unwind, unseen,
Remembering rain-filled days
Where the grass smells green

She stands still, in tune
With the silence of the sea,
Its roar stifled for now

Some distant day she’ll
Return when she sees beauty
In a rainbow sing

Copyright Vickie Johnstone
Follow your muse down the winding path of your poetic dreams... :)

Monday, 18 March 2013

Coral Russell's Sacrifice Book Release & Tour

Guest Post #22 by Coral Russell 
It's Just Business Part 3

Thanks to The Indie Exchange for kicking off the Sacrifice Book Tour! Here's part one of It's Just Business. Part two is on The Bunny's Review, and we're wrapping up part three here at Vixie's Stories.

The one thing you won't see in the story Sacrifice is junkies. There are a lot of good stories and memoirs dealing with people who use drugs. Memorable examples for me is the movie Trainspotting and the book Eating Smoke.

I'm no junkie. I swear on a stack of bibles that I have not touched drugs. I was given morphine once in the hospital and spewed all over. Although I didn't care because I was high on morphine. That stuff is good! I can't even drink. I usually fall asleep and my hubby does not find that romantic.

So since I have zippo-zip-nada experience with using drugs I didn't feel comfortable writing about it. Probably never will. As we hinted at in the last two posts dealing drugs is big money. Governments and law enforcement agencies can only guess at the actual dollar amount but the number is in the billions of dollars.

That's how I wanted to approach this story. Drugs as a business and how that business runs in some ways parallel to a legitimate business: consumers, trust, product, distribution, supply and demand. Now businesses like the tobacco industry don't try to kill their consumers if they want to give up smoking. Not so much with drugs. The cartels have targeted and killed people in drug rehab, going even so far to bomb drug counseling centers in Mexico.

So there are big differences between running a legal business and running an illegal one and hopefully my take on it is an interesting part to the story.


When Mexican drug cartels fight for control along the border, Juarez becomes the murder capital of the world. In El Paso, Texas it's drug business as usual: a grifter sets out to buy her freedom, a car salesman runs drugs to make his fortune, a gang leader battles to rise among the ranks of the cartel, and a detective and his wife are ripped apart by a family secret. Everyone's fate lies in the hands of an old woman. Will she let the past die with her or take revenge the only way she knows how?

Sacrifice is a fast-paced, gritty story that'll keep you guessing, gasping, and gripping your eBook.

About the author

Coral Russell runs the blog where she reviews Indie books/authors. "By the end of 2013, I will have read close to 300 Indie titles. I can vouch that the quality and diversity of Indie authors is worth investing in." On the blog you can find links to her on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Google+ and email.

The Indie Exchange is a group of authors, readers, and book bloggers who post reviews, articles, and giveaways. Listen in Fridays to our radio show at

Ms. Russell won the 2003 McCaleb Peace Initiative, which produced the non-fiction articles Peace on the Peninsula. All profits from the sale of that ebook goes to rebuilding Joplin, MO.

Titles available: Amador Lockdown, Playing with Fire (Devil of a Ghost Tour and Key to a Haunting), Peace on the Peninsula, The DIY Guide to Social Media Marketing and eBook Publishing, and Twelve Worlds (profits go to Reading is Fundamental).


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Vixie's Stories is NOT responsible for distributing the prizes. All prizes will be distributed by Coral Russell at

For the next blog tour dates go to

19th - Keeping Up With the Rheinlanders "Cars are important"
20th - Library Girl Reads and Reviews "Family means everything"
21st - Tweet Chat #indieexchange
22nd - Cabin Goddess "Fourth Wall Friday"
24th - Bias Books "Narcos Corridos"
25th - My Other Book Blog Review
26th - Fresh Pot of Tea Book Excerpt
27th - Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dave Side by Side Review
27th - The Diary of Mr. Kain Character Interview
30th & 31st - Pick up Sacrifice on Amazon for FREE at Girl Who Reads or The Indie Exchange. If you read ePub or PDF email

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Page Turner Book Tours Presents... Into the Spiral

We are honoured to join Erin Danzer today as she reveals her brand new cover for the eagerly awaited Into The Spiral (The Spiral Defenders, Book 1)

Fifteen-year-old Veronica “Ronnie” Lambert wants to get out from under her older brother’s shadow. When Ronnie gets a tattoo and then is struck by lightning, she suddenly finds herself able to see and hear things in shadows that don’t appear to others. Then Ronnie meets Gavin Clearwater, the hot new guy in all of her classes and finds out he can see and hear the same things she can.

Gavin tells her about the Spiral Defenders, a group of warriors that travels through space and time to defend the planets of the Spiral. After meeting the Commander of the Spiral Defenders and realizing his intentions might not be pure, Ronnie struggles between following her destiny to become a Spiral Defender and trying to regain the life she had before being struck by lightning.



She looked and gave a little wave before turning to walk into her room only to find her way blocked by yet another guy. This school seemed to be crawling with hotties! This one was only a few inches taller than her, kind of short for a guy, with straight black hair and dark slightly slanted eyes. He wore black cargo pants, a black t-shirt that did nothing to hide his six-pack abs, and black combat boots. He looked her up and down and arched an eyebrow as he stepped aside.

“After you, Princess,” he said, making a sweeping gesture with his arm as he slightly bowed. Ronnie didn’t know whether to be appalled or to laugh at him and didn’t have time to make up her mind as their Homeroom teacher asked if they would be joining them today. Cheeks flushed, Ronnie walked into the room and sat in the first available seat. The guy in the doorway sat at the desk behind her and gave a small smirk that she pretended to ignore. Who the hell did this guy think he was? She looked across the room and smiled when she saw Shawn sitting in the back corner. He smiled and nodded when he saw her and her heart fluttered.

“Boyfriend, or someone you wish was?” the boy behind her whispered. Ronnie rolled her eyes. Her shoulders tightened as she tried to ignore him but he wasn’t going to be dissuaded so easily.

“Huh, well, if you’re not going to answer, then I’m going to have to guess,” he continued. “My guess would be that he’s not your boyfriend but you want him to be. Since you didn’t walk in with him, it makes me wonder if he’s even interested in you. What is he, an oblivious friend? Or does he not even know you exist? Is that what this outfit is for; so he will finally see you?”

Ronnie’s ears reddened and it took the last of her willpower to keep from turning around and telling him to shut up. She clenched her hands together on top of her desk, praying the teacher would call on either one of them just so he would stop talking. A million comebacks flashed through her mind, but she ground her teeth, knowing she would never say any of them. Despite her promise to herself to become her own person, she really didn’t know how to go about doing that. She thought it would be easy once she got the tattoo, but she knew she was failing. Even showing it off this morning, the little bit that she was able to, had taken more courage than she normally possessed—and she hadn't even had the satisfaction of Shawn seeing it.

Thinking about Shawn took her mind off the jerk behind her and she managed to tune into what the teacher was saying. Unfortunately, it wasn’t that interesting (all about locker assignments and hall passing times) so she tuned out as quickly as she’d tuned in, her mind wandering back to Shawn. She snuck another peek at him and was thrilled to find him watching her—or at least that’s what it looked like at first. He was actually looking at something behind her. She moved her head to get a better look and felt a tug on her hair.

“Stop moving; I’m almost done,” the guy behind her muttered. Ronnie spun around.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” she shrieked, unable to pretend ignorance anymore. She ran a hand over her hair and found a thin lock he had apparently been braiding. Her eyes narrowed as the rest of the class waited for his reaction. Even the teacher had stopped talking.

“I was bored,” he muttered. “And your hair is really pretty.”


Purchase Links:


Erin Danzer wrote her first book at 10-years-old for a Young Authors competition, where she was awarded an Honorable Mention and discovered a passion for the written word. She’s written several novels and short stories since that spark ignited. Into the Spiral is the first of a four book series. In addition to her novels, Erin writes a monthly short story serial, The Cassandra Serafin Chronicles, posting alternately on her blog and in Literary Lunes bi-monthly online magazine. Erin resides in Racine, Wisconsin, with her husband, two children, and their cat.

You can connect with Erin at the following places:


About Page Turner Book Tours

Page Turner Book Tours is fronted by the face behind Read2Review Kate. Page Turner Book Tours has been put together to help promote authors and give something back to the writing world. Kate has put together a team of incredibly talented people to help with the project by incorporating their individual skills into making new, fresh and exciting promotional plans that we hope you agree are amazing. If you would like to book a tour with Page Turner Book Tours please check out their tour packages. If you would like to become a tour host with Page Turner Book Tours please check out their Tour Host page. You wont be disappointed!

Disclaimer: post not edited by Vickie

Friday, 8 March 2013

A Poem a Day (11): some haiku

My 'Poem a Day' thing was skipped yesterday because, astonishingly, I managed to write something. I started and I couldn't stop. I was writing all afternoon and ended up with 9000 words to add to a fantasy that I started in 2009, but really haven't got anywhere near finishing since then! I'm so hoping I can keep writing now after this weird silence since the start of December, but I'll keep going with the poems, hoping that it kind of breaks the silence and keeps the hamster wheel of creativity turning!

Cheers! Happy day to you! :)

Okay, so for more five-minute poems off the top of my head...

Some haiku

Entering my dreams 
At ten o'clock they wake me -
Chirpy highs of song

Happiness played here
Laughed in the audience found
When not seeking one

He dips his nose, squeaks,
Flicks a strand of algae - caught
On the dolphin's fin

She strikes a pose, turns
Amid flashing lights and cheers
For the curtain raise

Sitting in doorways,
Invisible to the world,
He waits for a coin 

Copyright Vickie Johnstone

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

A Poem a Day (9): haiku

Five-minute poems...

Some haiku

We dance on water
When the roar becomes too much;
Smiling 'gainst the tide

In sparks of pure white
Sunlight splinters the morning -
A rush of birdsong

Copyright Vickie Johnstone

#WW Words with... Laurie Boris

Thanks to Laurie Boris, author of The Joke's on Me, Drawing Breath and the newly released Don't Tell Anyone. Laurie likes cats, REM and coffee with amaretto (mmm), can rustle up a pretty good lentil soup and once fancied being Lois Lane. Read on to find out more...

What is your day job or are you lucky enough to write for a living?

I’m lucky enough to do both. I work a few days a week, keeping a local community college’s website up to date, and the rest of the time I’m writing and editing.

What books have you written so far?

I’ve published two contemporary novels, The Joke’s on Me, about a stand-up comic who loses everything but her sense of humour in a mudslide, and Drawing Breath, about the complex relationship between an art teacher and his student. Besides that, I’ve written several more that await either editing or the wood chipper, depending.

What works in progress do you have?

I’m just about to publish another contemporary novel, Don’t Tell Anyone, about a family with too many secrets. After that, I have a few more story ideas begging for my attention.

How long did it take you to write your book/s?

Some take months, others take years. I wrote the first (very rough) draft of Don’t Tell Anyone as a NaNoWriMo project in thirty days, but I’ve been fleshing it out and editing for almost two years.

Do you write linear, or jump back and forth? Do you plan or write by the seat of your pants?

It depends on the story. One book began when I saw the last scene in my head, so I started there. Others lead off with a situation and proceeded linearly. Generally I don’t plan. I prefer to let the characters tell me how the story unfolds.

Why do you write?

Because I’m very crabby when I don’t. It’s like a release valve. Also, I love the feeling of disappearing into a universe of characters. Makes the bad stuff go away for a while.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing for over thirty years, and writing novels for almost twenty years.

What/who inspired you to write and still inspires you?

I was initially inspired to write by a high school English teacher, who tasked us with keeping a journal as an assignment. I’d thought writing had to be all highbrow, snooty stuff, but with that I realised everything is material for fiction; even watching the sun set or reliving a silly childhood memory. Being around creative people, like my husband’s friend with cystic fibrosis, who kept pursuing his creative passions despite his illness, inspired me to try to write a novel. As I finished the first and wrote more, my mother-in-law was a huge inspiration. She kept nagging me to finish the next book because she “needed something good to read”. Sometimes I can still smell her perfume in my writing room.

What do you think is the ideal recipe for a good novel or story?

I don’t know that there’s an ideal recipe (my lentil soup recipe is pretty good, by the way), but I don’t think you can go too far wrong by starting with a strong character who wants something desperately.

Have you ever based a character on someone from real life? And did you tell them?

I’ve sometimes used non-virtual people as armatures for characters. And I’ve had people in my life SWEAR that such-and-such character was based on them. Not so.

Fave things: animal? food? drink? film? colour? band? song? place? item of clothing?

Cats. Chocolate. Coffee with amaretto. Casablanca. Purple. REM. Michael Franti’s ‘Say Hey’ (this week, anyway). Nantucket Island. A variety of plushy sweatshirts.

When you were a kid, what did you want to do/who did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to play second base for the New York Mets. Next I wanted to be Lois Lane. And a marine biologist. Then I saw Jaws. I decided to stick with Lois Lane.

Would you say that your dreams have come true or are you still working on them?

I’m still working on them, although some are coming true. I wanted to make a living by writing and publishing novels. Well, a few of those words have come true, but not the entire sentence as yet.

You’re walking in the forest and you bump into an alien librarian from Mars. He wants five book recommendations from you…

I imagine he’s already read Men are from Mars..., so maybe he needs a good map of the solar system to find Venus.

Who is your favourite character from any book and why?

Jo from Little Women. I adore her. She’s creative, tough and bold; not girly-girly, but loves her family and her sisters. She’s everything I wanted to be.

Who is your hero/heroine?

He’d hate it, but my friend who inspired Daniel in Drawing Breath. Despite his cystic fibrosis, Bill lived for his passions, gave of himself whenever he was asked, and never – in public, anyway – talked about himself in terms of limits. Not until the week he died.

Which book do you wish you had written?

So hard to choose! Okay, I wish I’d written about a certain boy wizard, you know, for my retirement. Seriously, I’d love to have written Ian McEwan’s Amsterdam; it’s such a perfect little jewel. And Anna Karenina. Lolita. Joyce Carol Oates’ Middle Age, Blonde, Black Water or Zombie. Anne Tyler’s Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant and The Accidental Tourist.

Which three authors would you like to take to the pub?

Dorothy Parker, TC Boyle and Oscar Wilde – should make for an interesting evening. We’ll see if we can ‘out-snark’ each other.

Are you published or self-published? What is your experience?

My first book, The Joke’s on Me, was published by a small press, 4RV LLC, in 2011. I self-published Drawing Breath, my second book, and plan to self-publish the next one. What I liked about working with a small press is the personal attention and the dedicated team that helped with developmental editing, copyediting and proofreading. My publisher, Vivian Zabel, works tirelessly on behalf of her authors, taking our titles to trade shows and events. What I like about self-publishing is the complete freedom and artistic control, but with that comes the responsibility of putting out a quality product. I’m learning so much about marketing and promotion. I don’t always get it right, but I can change course quickly; something that might not be as easily done under the aegis of a publisher.

How do you find the marketing experience?

It’s tough. The formula so many ‘experts’ recommend – reaching the right people at the right time with the right product and the right price point – seems to be constantly shifting. I still find that word of mouth is the best advertising. Many people who have read my books did so because a friend recommended them. That’s how I normally pick up a book, too.

What advice would you give other writers just starting out?

If writing is in your heart, if you can’t imagine doing anything else, then give it your all and do not quit. Keep growing and learning. Read omnivorously. Seek constructive criticism. Ask a lot of questions. Know that you might suck at it for a while, and that learning your chops and finding your voice could take time.

Do you have a blog? What do you blog about?

I blog about writing, books and popular culture on my personal blog, and I’m a regular contributor to Indies Unlimited, where I write about pretty much everything related to writing, publishing and marketing for the indie author.

What other hobbies do you have?

I enjoy watching baseball, I’m a voracious reader and I love to cook. Something about chopping onions is like meditation.

What would you like to achieve in the next five years?

Write about seven or eight more books, and publish them to rave reviews and fabulous sales. Help my editing clients achieve their dreams. Find a new place to live that does not require so much time and effort.

If you won the Lotto or a major publishing contract, what would you do with that dosh?

After taking care of the creeping debt and the necessities we’ve been putting off to buy silly things like food, I would love to be able to buy more books to support my fellow authors. And go to the movies once in a while. And maybe hire someone to clean up after me.

Complete one of these stories in 100 words or less…

There was once a wee worm called Fred;
He lived with a panda named Ed.
Ed ate some bad clover
And, sadly, fell over
And squished his poor, wee friend’s head.

What question do you wish I’d asked and, of course, what is the answer?

What does your writing space look like?

Horribly messy, and full of baseball hero bobble-head dolls and stuffed Opus penguins. This is why I need to win the Lotto. Or get therapy.


The Joke’s on Me  
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Drawing Breath               
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Don't tell Anyone
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