Guest Blogger: Victoria Zigler on Writing for Children

Today I am pleased to welcome a first time visitor to From the Pen of Mae Clair. Please say hello to Victoria (Tori) Zigler as she shares a glimpse of why she chooses to write children’s books, and also takes a look at her newest release, Voyage of the Crimson Sail.


Book cover for Voyage of the Crimson Sail by Victori Zigler shows image of pirate above a sailing ship with red sailsWhy do I write for children?

Well, it turns out the answer to that question isn’t very exciting.  But here it is anyway.

First of all, I know it’s been said many times by many authors, but I’ve been writing ever since I knew how.  I learned to read and write somewhat before I even started school – bearing in mind, children start school at around four years old in the UK –partially  due to having older siblings, but mostly because my main regular babysitter was in her teens, and would often do her homework while watching me, and I wanted to, “Do homework,” too.

Yeah… I stayed that eager to do schoolwork.  Don’t hate me for it.  I’d say sorry, but I’m not.

So, anyway, once I started school, and was introduced to the idea of writing my own stories and poems, there was no stopping me.  I fell in love with the idea, and loved doing it.  Though I dare say my early attempts were terrible.  Although, having said that, I won third place in a writing contest my teacher submitted one of my stories to when I was seven, so I was showing promise with writing by then at least.  I still have the medal I was awarded that day, in case you’re interested.

Of course, it’s only natural that, as a child myself, the characters in my early stories would be children too.  At least, those that weren’t animals. Oh, and there was that one story involving little green aliens and the cereal Ready Brek, but that was written for school, so I’m not sure that counts.  Although, I do wish I had a copy of that so I could rewrite and improve on it, as I did the story that eventually became my book ”Isabelle’s Runaway Racehorse” (which was originally a story called “Running Away” I’d written at the age of 10, before going through a lot of revisions).

Hmmm… Maybe I’ll have to just write a new version of the Ready Brek story.  I know the gist of what it was about, and it could be fun…

Erm… Sorry, got sidetracked there.

Anyway, most people know I’m completely blind. But what they don’t know is I have other health issues too.  I won’t bore you with the details, but the thing you need to know is that, with one thing and another, I spent a lot of time in the hospital growing up, especially during the first six years or so of my life.  Escaping in to make believe stories, whether by being read to, reading something myself, writing, or playing imaginary games with my toy animals, helped me deal with all those hospital trips.

Just for a while, I could pretend I was somewhere else, with no doctors sticking needles in me, or shining painful bright lights in my eyes to get a better look at them. Just for a while, I could be anywhere and anything.  I loved that then, and still do now. What greater joy can there be than going anywhere and being anything, either through my own imagination or through the imaginations of other authors?

Young girl sitting on a log at night with moon in background, open book on her lap, young boy in background reading by lantern light; whimsical and magical image

As I grew older, I spent less time in the hospital, and started to spend some time in the real world.  But I still spend most of my time in stories, because I know no greater joy than escaping in to stories, either through reading or writing. Well, apart from spending time with my furkids, who are my world.  Oh, and my hubby too, but he knows the “kids” come before him, and loves when I escape in to stories, because then I’m not nagging at him to do anything, so he can play computer games in peace.

Wanting my characters to grow with me, in my late teens and early adulthood, I attempted to write for older audiences.  But something was always lacking. I could write poetry for older audiences – though even that I tend to lean more towards writing for children with more often than not – but struggled with writing from the point of view of older characters for some reason. Still, I persisted, never managing to complete anything, because I’d either lose interest in the project, or be unsure how to handle writing part of it, set it aside, and forget about it.  An issue I don’t have with my children’s stories, which I’d continued to write from time to time, along with poetry, in between attempts at writing “grown up” stories.

Gradually, as time went on, and more and more people suggested I stick to writing children’s stories, rather than attempting to write stories for older readers, since I seem to have a knack for writing for children – and am apparently good at putting myself in the heads of animal characters too, according to comments I’ve gotten – I abandoned attempts to write anything but poetry and children’s stories. After all, they were what I enjoyed writing most, and people enjoyed reading them. It just made sense.

That also provided the answer to me writing something I wanted to write about adjusting to sight loss.

I’d been trying to write something to help both me and others with adjusting to sight loss for a while by this point.  But I’d been trying to write it from an adult’s point of view, and just couldn’t, despite being an adult myself by the time I lost the last of my sight. When someone who knew about my writing of children’s stories suggested I take that approach instead, I instantly knew how to write it, and my five book “Toby’s Tales” series was born.

The moment I started looking at it as a children’s story idea, I had my character, a rough plan for the whole series, and some key details I would include in the books laid out in my head.  Considering I’m a pantser, the fact that light bulb moment came with so much detail told me it was meant to be.

On top of that, I got it in to my head that stopping blogging would give me a better chance at making a go of it as an author. Huge mistake, since it cost me a lot of the followers I’d gathered during my early blogging days, even though it was the same blog I returned to when I went back to blogging after realizing my mistake, and I didn’t stay away from blogging all that long.  Seriously though, take my advice: have a bit of a break if you must, but don’t announce you’re stepping away completely.  It’s a bad move. Just saying.

But at least one good thing did come out of my mistake: Kero’s books.

You see, I had a feature on my blog where I’d post from the point of view of one of my pets, most often the West Highland White Terrier I had at the time, whose name was Keroberous – Kero for short.  I did a couple of random posts from Kero’s point of view at first, and when they proved popular, made it in to a regular feature. When I stopped blogging, I missed writing those posts. That’s how I came to write and publish my seven book “Kero’s World” series, which was originally meant to be a six book series, until I wrote “Kero Crosses The Rainbow Bridge” after losing Kero in 2014.

True, it’s possible I’d have written those books anyhow, eventually, but missing writing Kero’s posts certainly helped push those to the top of my writing priorities list.

They’re children’s stories, and got great feedback.  Plus, I loved writing them; even if I spent the whole time I was writing and publishing the final book in tears.

Two stripped kittens huddled together, one sitting up, the other crouched beside it, both looking toward camera, cute and cuddlyI’ve since reinstated “Furkid Friday” posts on my blog, and even introduced a “Friends Of Furkid Friday” feature, where one of my pets will interview the pets of fellow writers and bloggers (details can be found on the page for it on my blog, if you’d like to get in touch for an interview, by the way) and those pet posts remain the most popular on my blog, judging by the number of views the stats section on my blog says they get compared to my other blog posts.

In other words, it appears I have a knack for writing children’s stories, as well as anything from the point of view of animals. Since I also happen to love doing so, and apparently my muse is more helpful when I try to, it only makes sense for me to keep doing it. After all, the fact my pirate themed adventure story turned in to a middle grade pirate adventure story called “Voyage Of The Crimson Sail” told mostly from the view points of a pair of rats, makes it pretty clear my muse is determined to keep me writing children’s stories, especially ones featuring animals, regardless of genre. Luckily, that’s fine by me.

So, that’s why I’m a children’s author.

Sorry this wasn’t more exciting.  But thanks to Mae for inviting me to write it anyhow, and thanks to anyone who stuck with me and read to the end.  If you did, you’re awesome!

~ooOOoo~

About the author:
Victoria Zigler is a blind vegan poet and children’s author who was born and raised in the Black Mountains of Wales, UK, and is now living on the South-East coast of England, UK, with her hubby and furkids.  Victoria – or Tori, if you prefer – has been writing since she knew how, and describes herself as a combination of Hermione Granger and Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter books: Hermione’s thirst for knowledge and love of books, combined with Luna’s wandering mind and alternative way of looking at the world.  She has a wide variety of interests, designed to exercise both the creative and logical sides of her brain, and dabbles in them at random depending on what she feels like doing at any given time.

To date, Tori has published nine poetry books and more than 40 children’s books, with more planned for the future. She makes her books available in multiple eBook formats, as well as in both paperback and audio. She’s also contributed a story to the sci-fi and fantasy anthology Wyrd Worlds II, which is available in eBook only.

Find Tori at the following haunts:
Website | Blog | Goodreads | Facebook Author Page | Twitter | YouTube

Find Tori’s books on:
Smashwords | Amazon
…Along with a variety of other online retailers

~ooOO0oo~

Voyage Of The Crimson Sail
Blurb:
After weeks at sea with nothing to show for it, the crew of the Crimson Sail is growing restless, and ready to mutiny. Only the promise of a treasure worth more than gold keep the pirates from making their own captain walk the plank, along with his beloved rats, Star and Skye.

But when a violent storm comes out of nowhere, delaying their journey to the island where the promised treasure can be found, and the treasure isn’t what any of them expected, will Star and Skye’s plan be enough to stop the pirates from leaving Captain Charlie marooned on the island? Or will their attempts to save him send them – along with the rest of the crew – to Davey Jones’ locker?

Purchase links:

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon Canada  | Audible | SmashwordsiBooksiTunes | Barnes & Noble | Kobo


Thanks for welcoming Tori today, and please make use of the sharing buttons below. I started writing at a very young age as well and have fond memories of the children’s books I got to read in those formative years. A lot of that whimsy I have yet to outgrow. It’s wonderful to think of Tori contributing to that magic for a generation of young readers, don’t you agree?

A Blog Visit Today #Eventide #GhostFiction

Hello, friends! This spot is usually reserved for my Tuesday Book Reviews, but I have nothing new to share this week. Yes, I went a whole week without reading a book—shocking I know 🙂

I did, however, do a beta read for a friend, so I still had my nose buried in something.

scared young woman with candles image in victorian styleToday, the fabulous Joan Hall is hosting me with another look at Eventide. I hope you’ll pop over to Joan’s blog where I’m sharing an excerpt from my “past” timeline, which is set in 1878.

If you’ve followed any of my mini-tour posts, you’ve already met Madison, the heroine from the present day timeline. Today, I’d like to introduce you to Hollande Moore, my heroine from the past.

You can find the post HERE. Drop by if you have a spare moment, and say hello. And, by all means, if you’re not already following Joan, now is the perfect time to click FOLLOW on her blog. She always has something interesting to share, especially her Mystery Monday posts, which I love.

‘Nuff said. I’m outta here, and hope to see you at JOAN’S PLACE. 🙂

Wednesday Weirdness: The Brown Mountain Lights

pathway between large, gnarled trees with words "on the path of Wednesday Weirdness" superimposed over image

Just last week, I had the pleasure of hosting my good friend, Marcia Meara, with her latest release The Light—book four in her Wake Robin Ridge Series. If you missed, that post, you can find it HERE. You may also want to check out my five star review of this fabulous story on my January 7th Book Review Tuesday post, HERE.

The Light employs the legend of the Brown Mountain Lights, a phenomena I’ve written about in the past (If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you know I’m smitten with folklore). With that in mind, I thought it was a good time to trot out the history behind this fascinating legend once more. I hope you enjoy!


Brown Mountain is a low lying ridge tucked into the Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina. For hundreds of years (some say longer) a phenomenon known as the Brown Mountain Lights has been observed by countless witnesses. The illumination, which appears as multi-colored balls floating above the mountain, has even resulted in two surveys conducted by the U.S. Geological Society–one in 1913, the other in 1922. Many believe the Cherokee Indians observed the lights as far back as the 13th Century.

According to eye witnesses, the lights usually begin as a red ball which transitions to white before vanishing altogether. Sometimes a single orb will divide into several before reforming. Witnesses have also reported seeing blue, green, yellow and orange orbs, most lasting only a handful of seconds before fading or winking from sight.

A stony overlook extending into a treed gorge in

Overlook at Wiseman’s View in Linville Gorge, NC, one of the best vantage points for viewing the Brown Mountain Lights.
Photo of Wisemen’s View by Ken Thomas (KenThomas.us (personal website of photographer)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The phenomenon is so consistent there are specific mile markers within the Blue Ridge Parkway overlook designating from where they are best viewed.

Usually “spooklights” of this sort occur in swampy areas where decaying plant matter produces methane gas. This in turn spontaneously ignites, causing mysterious light manifestations. There are, however, no swampy areas where the Brown Mountain lights materialize, and unlike gaseous orbs, those of Brown Mountain appear concentrated with the ability to maneuver about the mountain.

Naturally, theories have developed. Many involve ghosts, energy beings, UFOs and even aliens. Older folklore relies on stories passed through generations. One tale dates back to the year 1200, when a bloody clash took place on the ridge. According to that legend, a fierce battle between the Cherokee and Catawba Indians claimed the lives of many braves. That night, grieving for their fallen warriors, Indian maidens scoured the mountain by torchlight, searching for bodies. To this day, that eerie torchlight can still be seen flickering on the ridge as they continue their endless hunt for the fallen.

Another tale speaks of a cruel man who butchered his wife and child then buried the bodies on Brown Mountain where he thought no one would find them. Not long after he completed the grisly deed, lights began to appear and hover over the graves. The mysterious illumination drew others to the site, enabling them to discover the murder victims. The killer fled before he could be punished for his crime, and was never seen again. Perhaps the forest enacted its own fatal justice.

Whatever the source of the Brown Mountain Lights, they have been captured on film and video and witnessed from miles away.  As for the surveys conducted by the US Geological Society, investigators concluded witnesses mistakenly reported the oncoming headlights from trains and autos as something more mystifying.

In direct counterpoint, locals reported seeing the lights before autos and trains descended on the area. Additionally, in 1916, a flood wiped out area transportation routes for a full week. During that time the lights were still active and observed.

Fast forward to 1982, when a man named Tommy Hunter claimed to have touched one of the lights. Supposedly it bobbed up to the ridge where he was standing and hovered several feet off the ground. A few times larger than a basketball, it appeared yellowish in color, and gave him an electrical shock when he extended his hand. The light dimmed slightly at the contact, then floated off into the woods.

If you would like to know more about this puzzling phenomenon, check out Joshua P. Warren’s free booklet, The Brown Mountain Lights:Viewing Guide available for download in PDF.  As someone who has always been fascinated by spooklights, I found it mesmerizing reading!

What are your thoughts? Let’s chat in the comments below.

And if you’d like an interesting take on this phenomenon in an engaging book, be sure to check out The Light for inspired reading!

New Release: The Light by Marcia Meara #WakeRobinRidge

Banner ad for The Light, Wake Robin Ridge book 4 by Marcia Meara

I’m thoroughly jazzed (chuffed if you’re on the other side of the pond) to have my good friend, Marcia Meara, here today with her new release The Light. She’s sharing a super cool post about wake-robins which figure into the series title, Wake Robin Ridge.

Confession time: this yankee thought wake robins were birds. Duh! Fortunately, Marcia is here today to set me straight and educate me about The Wake-Robins of Wake-Robin Ridge.


Thank you so much for letting me visit with you and your followers today, Mae. I’m pretty excited about the release of my latest novel, The Light: Wake-Robin Ridge Book 4, and hope folks will be curious to learn more about this book and the preceding three:

Wake-Robin Ridge
A Boy Named Rabbit
Harbinger

Happy New Year to You All!

Many readers have asked me how I came up with the name of my first novel, and the answer is very simple. In fact, it’s staring at everyone the minute they pick up any of the four books in the series. I did mention it at the very start of the first book, but many people either miss it, or have forgotten it by the last page of the story. It all comes back to my beloved North Carolina mountains and the trillium erectus, or wake-robin.

Anyone who has ever walked through the woods in the Appalachian Mountains knows that bluebells, bird’s foot violets, and trillium carpet the forest floor in early spring. Beneath the evergreens, dogwoods, and redbuds, these low-growing wildflowers spread in every direction and are a delight to behold.

As you might imagine, bluebells are blue, and bird’s foot violets are violet. Trillium, on the other hand, are usually white. Except when they aren’t.

Scattered here and there among those snowy white trillium are a few that are a deep, wine red. Those would be the ones commonly called wake-robins. The splashes of red amidst the usual sea of white draw the eye immediately, and I’m certain I’m not the only one to find them beautiful. In fact, I love them so much, before I’d written one word of my first book, I knew I wanted to name my fictional mountain ridge after them. I loved the idea of Mac’s secluded home on top of a sparsely-populated mountain being surrounded by wildflowers every spring, with the wake-robins popping up just often enough to warrant being the namesake for the entire ridge—and my newly conceived series, too.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The next time you have an opportunity to walk through the wooded areas of the northeastern part of the country, keep an eye open for bluebells and violets on the forest floor, and search every patch of snow-white trillium for the splashes of dark red that mark the wake-robins.  I hope you’ll enjoy spotting them as much as I do.

BLURB FOR THE LIGHT:

Book cover for The Light by Marcia Meara shows young boy standing on a rock with hand extended toward a floating orb of lightThe Magic is Back!

For Robert MacKenzie Cole—or Rabbit, as he’s known to all—the chance to accompany his family to see North Carolina’s infamous Brown Mountain Lights has him nearly dizzy with excitement. And what better night to watch this unexplained phenomenon unfold than Halloween?

But when the entrancing, unpredictable lights show up, Rabbit gets far more than he bargained for. He’s gifted with what folks in the Appalachians call “the Sight,” and it’s this extrasensory perception that enables him to spot the one light different from all the rest.

In his biggest challenge to date, Rabbit—aided by his daddy and his newest friend, Austin Dupree— begins a quest to learn more about the mysterious light. Their investigation unveils a web of cons and corruption none of them expected and exposes a brutal murder along the way.

Throughout all, Rabbit is unfaltering in his commitment to do whatever it takes to understand the truth behind the glowing orb and to determine how he can help it. After all, it followed him home.


Intrigued? I can vouch for all of the books in this series. I rated each one 5-stars, with The Light earring a five star glittery review. If you missed it, you can find it on my Tuesday Book Reviews.

PURCHASE HERE

About the Author:
Author, Marcia MearaMarcia Meara lives in central Florida, just north of Orlando, with her husband of over thirty years, four big cats, and one small dachshund.

When not writing or blogging, she spends her time gardening, and enjoying the surprising amount of wildlife that manages to make a home in her suburban yard. She enjoys nature. Really, really enjoys it. All of it! Well, almost all of it, anyway. From birds, to furry critters, to her very favorites, snakes. The exception would be spiders, which she truly loathes, convinced that anything with eight hairy legs is surely up to no good. She does not, however, kill spiders anymore, since she knows they have their place in the world. Besides, her husband now handles her Arachnid Catch and Release Program, and she’s good with that.

Spiders aside, the one thing Marcia would like to tell each of her readers is that it’s never too late to make your dreams come true. If, at the age of 69, she could write and publish a book (and thus fulfill 64 years of longing to do that very thing), you can make your own dreams a reality, too. Go for it! What have you got to lose?

Marcia has published seven novels, two novellas, and one book of poetry to date, all of which are available on Amazon:

Wake-Robin Ridge
A Boy Named Rabbit: Wake-Robin Ridge Book 2
Harbinger: Wake-Robin Ridge Book 3
The Light: Wake-Robin Ridge Book 4
Swamp Ghosts: A Riverbend Novel
Finding Hunter: Riverbend Book 2
That Darkest Place: Riverbend Book 3
The Emissary: A Riverbend Spinoff Novella
The Emissary 2: To Love Somebody
Summer Magic: Poems of Life & Love

Find Marcia at the following haunts:
Marcia’s Amazon Author Page
You can reach Marcia via email at marciameara16@gmail.com or on the following social media sites:
The Write Stuff | Facebook | Pinterest
Twitter: @marciameara

Are you hooked? You should be. Rabbit is one of the most unique characters I’ve encountered in fiction. Don’t forget to grab your copy of The Light HERE, then drop Marcia  a line in the comments below.


And, on another note, I am visiting with friend and Story Empire colleague Harmony Kent today, sharing a new excerpt from my current release. Eventide. If you’ve got a spare moment, I’d love for you to pop over and say hello! 🙂


 

Going Visiting

Banner ad for Eventide, a mystery novel by Mae Clair, features a dilapidated old houseHi, friends! Just a quick note to let you know I’m traveling the blogosphere today and hanging out with my good friend Marcia Meara.

Marcia is graciously hosting me as I share an excerpt from my new release, Eventide.

I’ve closed comments here, but would be happy for you to join me at Marcia’s place. I hope to see you THERE.

Last Minute Christmas Shopping? Preorder an ebook!

In many ways, December is a double-edged sword when it comes to book releases. On one hand—prior to Christmas—many are looking to gift books as presents. After Christmas, there is usually a huge pool of readers who have received gift cards for books, and are considering what to purchase.

The downside?

Not a lot of bloggers and readers are online during the week leading into Christmas or the week after. So, what’s an author to do?

If you’re like me, you take a chance, and float a post in the blogosphere anyway.

The last book on my publishing contract with Kensington is being released on December 31st. In one respect, it’s a cool way to close out the year. In another, I fear Eventide may get lost in the shuffle. I’d love if it launched with New Year’s Eve fireworks and a lot of rah-rah-rahs to pave the way. It’s been on pre-order for a while now, and I know many of you have already clicked that button (THANK YOU!). If you haven’t, here are a few snippets from pre-release reviews that I hope may entice you.

Book cover for Eventide, a Hode's Hill novel by Mae Clair shows an old abandoned house in a wash of blue tones

“Mae Clair has an unparalleled voice. Her writing is lyrically beautiful and powerfully evocative. She sets a sinister mood like no other author on the market. She’s on my auto-buy list, and with good reason. Just when I think she can’t possibly top her last work, she does. I’m eagerly awaiting her next title, and it is without reservation I give this novel five well-deserved stars.”
…Author and editor, Staci Troilo

“Once again, Mae Clair makes things that “go bump in the night” come to life with devilishly detailed scenes, a plot that encompasses decades and a mystery that begs to be uncovered . . .Great characters, a touch of the paranormal, and a rollercoaster ride to the end!”
…Tome Tender Book Reviews

“The plot runs both in the past (1800s) and in the present day and gives you plenty of mystery, suspense, and twists in both timelines. While I sussed out that something was up with the historical brothers early on, I completely failed to work out what it was, so kudos to the author for that bit of cunning. A solid five star read.”
…Author and editor, Harmony Kent

“I liked the entertaining and gripping plot that kept me on the edge, the well thought cast of characters and the world building. Even if it’s the last in a series I had no issues with the plot or the characters. I look forward to reading other books by this author as I really liked her style of writing.”
…Anarella, NetGalley Reviewer

“Mae Clair paints her stories with masterful imagery and a host of lovable characters just as imperfect and flawed as the rest of us. That makes walking beside them within the story, all the easier! If you love a great mystery with a touch of the paranormal, you won’t be disappointed in Eventide!”
…Author, Debbie Peterson

These are only snippets from a few of the reviews that have already surfaced on Goodreads. I’ve been really happy with them, and especially from the number of people who commented how easily Eventide read as a stand-alone, despite it being the close to my Hode’s Hill series. That’s always a concern for an author, but apparently, not something I need to be worried about.

So…If you’re looking for a book to gift, or even scouting out a read of your own, it’s the perfect time to pre-order Eventide. It will have the distinction of popping onto your e-reader on the final day of 2019. A close to a series, and a close to the year. Not such a bad match, when you think about it 🙂

Banner ad for Eventide, a mystery novel by Mae Clair, features a dilapidated old house

BLURB:
The darkness is coming . . .

The old house near Hode’s Hill, Pennsylvania is a place for Madison Hewitt to start over—to put the trauma of her husband’s murder, and her subsequent breakdown, behind her. She isn’t bothered by a burial plot on the property, or the mysterious, sealed cistern in the basement. Not at first. Even the presence of cold spots and strange odors could be fabrications of her still troubled mind. But how to explain her slashed tires, or the ominous messages that grow ever more threatening?

Convinced the answer lies in the past, Madison delves into the history of the home’s original owners, only to discover the origin of a powerful evil. An entity that may be connected to a series of gruesome attacks that have left police baffled. No matter where she turns—past or present—terror lingers just a step away, spurred on by a twisted obsession that can only be satisfied through death…

UNIVERSAL PRE-ORDER LINK

Presenting: Oh, Baubles by @harmony_kent #NewRelease #ChristmasNovella #ChristmasRomance #CleanRomance

Are you in the holiday spirit? I’ll be the first to admit I turn into a sentimental sap for the entire month of December. I’m kind of a sentimental sap the whole year, but I’m extra sappy during the Christmas holidays. Among other things, I love reading Christmas stories (and watching holiday movies). Which is why I’m excited to be part of Harmony Kent’s blog tour for her new release, Oh, Baubles. I’ll let her tell you about the book, but be sure to check out my review at the end of this post!

Book cover for Oh, Baubles, a Christmas romance novella by Harmony Kent shows Christmas bulbs with silhouette of embracing couple in a large bulb topped by a red bow

Hi everyone, Harmony here. I’m so thrilled to be visiting with Mae today to tell you about my latest book, a Christmas Romance Novella. It’s a fun, quick read at around 80 pages, and I had fun crafting this one. Below is a ‘sneek peek’ from Chapter 3 of ‘Oh Baubles.’


The line rang once, twice, three times, and more. On and on. Eventually, after sixteen full rings, it went to voicemail. Flustered, John hung up and cursed himself. How stupid could he be? If she reported him, he wouldn’t just lose his job but his whole career. Was some woman worth that? No. But then Charlie wasn’t just some woman, was she? No, she was a whole lot more than that. And John felt as though he would never feel happy again unless he at least took this chance and told her how he felt. So, with another heave in of air, he redialled—ready for the voicemail this time.

‘You’ve reached … Charlene Matthers … She cannot take your call right now. Please, leave a message after the tone.’

John waited for the tone, and sweat pooled in his arm pits and palms, and a cold droplet oozed down his spine. Then he caught an unpleasant whiff of man-pits. He’d have to do something about that as soon as he’d hung up. At last, the beep sounded.

‘Hey, Miss Matt—Charlene … Charlie, erm, this is John. John Andrews? Erm, oh god, I … er …’ He cleared his throat, determined to see this through before the damn machine cut him off. ‘Charlie, this is John. I’m sorry I haven’t called. Idiot that I am, I completely forgot to give you my number. The thing is … I want to see you again. Um, not in clinic. Oh, hell. I like you.’ He took a breath and wiped sweat from his brow. His words were all wrong.

‘Charlie, I don’t know what else to do, so I’m just gonna blurt it out … I love you. There, I’ve said it now. If you never want to hear from me again, or see me, I get it. Just don’t, please, report me. Lol. Ahem … I’m sorry I left things so long. I was a stupid damn coward. But I love you and want to get to know you better. The real you, not the hospital you.’ Flustered beyond belief now, and out of breath, John hung up, disappointed with himself. He’d messed that up badly. And only after he’d disconnected did he remember that he could have pressed the hash key and done a re-record. Too late now.


Book Description:
After a tragic accident one Christmas, Charlene loses her husband and her leg.

Scarred and damaged, the losses leave her lost and reeling, and a long recovery lies ahead of her.

When John, a hot young physiotherapist, comes into her life with his ripped abs and good-god good-looks, she can’t imagine he’d give somebody like her a second glance.

Then she falls for him.

Can Charlene overcome all obstacles to gain back her life and find true love once more?

Find out in this fun-filled, clean Christmas romance novella from award-winning author Harmony Kent.

Oh Baubles is available on Amazon for just 99c/99p And the link is: http://mybook.to/OhBaubles


This is a short, enchanting story sure to warm the heart. Charlene, a young widow, requires physical therapy due to a tragic accident in her past. She feels an immediate connection with John, her PT, but can’t believe he’d spare a second glance for her. Although this is a romantic story, I really enjoyed seeing the progression in Charlene’s character from beginning to end. The author delivered that change—and the build up of romance—in a believable manner. Watching Charlene transform as the book progresses is like watching a beautiful buttery emerge from a cocoon. With its holiday setting, Oh, Baubles makes a charming novella for the holidays, but it will leave you with a warm feeling any time of year. Lovely! MY REVIEW:
This is a short, enchanting story sure to warm the heart. Charlene, a young widow, requires physical therapy due to a tragic accident in her past. She feels an immediate connection with John, her PT, but can’t believe he’d spare a second glance for her.

Although this is a romantic story, I really enjoyed seeing the progression in Charlene’s character from beginning to end. The author delivered that change—and the build up of romance—in a believable manner. Watching Charlene transform as the book progresses is like watching a beautiful butterfly emerge from a cocoon. With its holiday setting, Oh, Baubles makes a charming novella for the holidays, but it will leave you with a warm feeling any time of year. 5 Lovely stars!


About the Author:
After spending around thirteen years as an ordained Buddhist monk, living in a Zen Buddhist temple, and six years after a life-changing injury following a surgical error, Harmony Kent returned to the world at the tender age of forty.

Now, she is famous for her laughter, and has made quite the name for herself … she’s also, um, a writer … and fairly well known for that too. She’s even won a few awards. Harmony lives in rural Cornwall with her ever-present sense of humour, adorable husband, and quirky neighbours. Harmony is passionate about supporting her fellow authors.

To Learn More About Harmony Check Out:
WebsiteStory Empire (co-authored) | Amazon Author Page | Twitter | LinkedIn | Goodreads | BookBub | bio box for author, Harmony Kent

My Girl Tour and Giveaway #newrelease #romance @JacqBiggar

Happy Monday, everyone! I’m kicking off the week by participating in a book tour for Jacquie Biggar’s newest release, My Girl, which sounds positively delightful! I’ve read quite a few of Jacquie’s books, and she always delivers an exceptional heartwarming tale. I’ve already got my copy of My Girl and look forward to getting lost within the pages.

Check it out, and don’t forget the awesome giveaway at the bottom!

My Girl
Gambling Hearts Book 3
by Jacquie Biggar
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Sometimes, the right decision isn’t the easiest one to make
Trish Sylvester knows her family and when they accept a week long stay at a rustic dude ranch, she is concerned- especially since it’s at her ex’s home.
Aaron is overjoyed at the opening of his family’s guest ranch, until he learns their first guest is his ex-girlfriend, her parents–and a fiancé.
And that isn’t the only surprise.
**99cents!**
JACQUIE BIGGAR is a USA Today bestselling author of Romantic Suspense who loves to write about tough, alpha males and strong, contemporary women willing to show their men that true power comes from love. She is the author of the popular Wounded Hearts series and has a new series in paranormal suspense, Mended Souls. She’s been blessed with a long, happy marriage and enjoys writing romance novels that end with happily-ever-afters.
Jacquie lives in paradise along the west coast of Canada with her family and loves reading, writing, and flower gardening. She swears she can’t function without coffee, preferably at the beach with her sweetheart. 🙂 Free reads, excerpts, author news, and contests can be found on her website below!
Jacquie lives on Vancouver Island with her husband and loves to hear from readers all over the world! You can also join her street team on Facebook called Biggar’s Book Buddies.
$25 Amazon gift card
Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

New Release: Silent Payback @jaydawes2 #DetectiveFiction #PsychologicalFiction

Tour banner for Silent Payback by Jaye Marie lists participating blog hosts against a background of a city street/alley with ligjts

Today, I’m delighted to welcome Jaye Marie to my blog. Jaye is awesome at supporting other authors and is a talented writer. She’s dropped by to share her latest release, Silent Payback. If you like mysteries and suspense, this is a book you’re going to want to check out!

book cover for Silet Payback by Jaye Marie shows profiles of two men, one side by side, one with long hair, beard and mustache, other clean cutBLURB:
A city on edge – a detective on shaky ground…

A serial killer roams the streets of Brighton, hunting for his next victim.

When the case lands on detective David Mallory’s desk, will his personal demon prevent him from bringing this vicious monster to justice?

As the body count rises, Mallory finds himself sinking under the weight of his heavy secret – one that could jeopardise his job and his reputation.

With the pressure building, can the troubled detective reconcile his issues and solve the case, before more women die?

About Jaye:
Jaye Marie is affectionately known as the giant redwood, probably because she is very tall, but also because of her love for trees. Most afternoons she can be found repotting or taking care of her bonsai collection, but her love of detective mysteries soon brings her back indoors. She has written three fiction novels in this genre, Nine Lives, Out of Time and Crossfire and is looking forward to publishing Silent Payback, her fourth book.

She spends any free time learning everything she can about self-publishing, and despite all the obstacles, she never gives up on anything and is as stubborn as a mule. She also shares a website http://jenanita01.com with Anita Dawes…

Connect with Jaye at the following haunts:

Email: jayemarie01@btinternet.com
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon | Pinterest | Instagram | Medium

Sound good? Then you’re going to want to One-Click on AmazonRight now you can grab this engrossing story for only .99c. I know I’ve already got my copy. Happy reading!

Creative Solutions for the Modern Writer #newrelease @harmony_kent

Happy Monday, everyone! To kick off your week I’ve got a book to fire your creativity and imagination. Good friend, and Story Empire colleague, Harmony Kent, is here with her newest release. This is one you’re going to want to check out!Book cover for Creative Solutions for the Modern Writer by Harmony Kent

Hello everyone. Harmony here. I’m excited to share my latest non-fiction book with you all today. Huge thanks to Mae for hosting me today.

Creative Solutions for the Modern Writer does what it says on the tin (or cover, lol), and offers tools to fire your imagination. With chapters on things such as using chess and tarot to develop stories, plots, and characters—as well as adopting the principles of nursing triage, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, horoscopes, and more—this little guide is full of fun tips and tricks to get your muse working overtime.

This excellent writer’s companion is available to by now in both ebook and paperback.

Here’s an excerpt for you:
Taken from the chapter on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs …

A series of yellow balls in a row, each with a different expression, frowning, smiling, confused, mad

Where our characters sit on this scale will affect how they respond in any given situation and to any given stimulus. Their position will determine their current aspirations. And the great thing with this as a characterisation tool is that your characters can climb up or fall down as needed.

As your characters evolve and grow throughout the story, you can use the higher levels on the triangle to determine what their aims and responses are likely to be. Likewise, this can also help place their behaviours when everything falls to pieces around them. The lower on the triangle we are, the more animalistic we’re likely to behave. The higher on the scale, the more enlightened.

This tool is excellent for character development as well as for plotting. And it shows how any one character can change in how he or she responds depending upon the situation in which he or she finds themselves.

A kind, gentle woman may morph into a rabid knife-wielding cold killer if her children’s lives are at stake. A big, rough, tough villainous type might go all gooey-eyed over an abandoned puppy … who knows what memories/associations the cute little animal might have tapped into? Perhaps he’s on the yellow level of the triangle, needing belonging, acceptance, and love. Or you could go the other way and make him even more monstrous by having him kill the puppy and eat it because he’s scrabbling around on the lowest level of the triangle and desperate for food.

Author, Harmony KentAuthor Bio
After spending around thirteen years as an ordained Buddhist monk, living in a Zen Buddhist temple, and six years after a life-changing injury following a surgical error, Harmony Kent returned to the world at the tender age of forty.

Now, she is famous for her laughter, and has made quite the name for herself … she’s also, um, a writer … and fairly well known for that too. She’s even won a few awards. Harmony lives in rural Cornwall with her ever-present sense of humour, adorable husband, and quirky neighbours.

Harmony is passionate about supporting her fellow authors.

You can connect with Harmony at the following haunts:
WebsiteStory Empire (co-authored) | Amazon Author Page Twitter | LinkedIn
Goodreads Author Page | BookBub 

Creative Solutions Purchase Link