Carnival of Details and Colours


“The Gallery of Vanished Husbands”

Reviewed by Ia Uaro

Author: Natasha Solomons

Publisher: Plume

ISBN-10: 0142180548: ISBN-13: 978-0142180549

Proposed release: September 2013

Welcome to the carnival of details and colours featuring a massive blend of vanishing husband mystery, post-Holocaust trauma of the Hungarian-Jews, London Jewish community and its woman emancipation, as well as 1960s bohemian painting scene of London. At the heart of the story is Juliet Montague, nee Juliet Greene, portraitists’ model extraordinaire, abandoned wife, worrisome daughter, rebellious Jewess, eccentric mother, remarkable businesswoman—and oh so woman.

Juliet’s life has been documented in canvases since she was a fidgety nine-year old, and we follow the stories behind each canvas from the unintentional sittings for her early portraits through the period when various artists clamour to paint her, until her final portrait at 79-year old by her son. We watch Juliet develops from a flirty teen who doesn’t think twice about playing truant from her father’s factory to become a successful gallery manager.

Daughter of practising Judaism migrants in London, all her life Juliet lives among close-knit strict Chislehurst’s Russian Jewish community which observes religious rituals to the most scrupulous degree; a community that can be caring yet refuses to tolerate or forgive Juliet’s misfortunes, rationales, liberal views and modern life choices.

Juliet disappoints her dad from birth with her audacity of being born a girl when his company is called Greene & Son, having good eyesight when his company produces the best spectacles in London, always being underfoot or getting in everyone’s hair, and marrying a Hungarian stranger instead of a nice Russian boy. Juliet shames the family by her inability to keep her husband, by her disreputable vocation and her non conformity to the Jewish laws. All these give her parents so much hurts because they truly love her.

Masterfully woven and brilliantly structured, this is a women fiction that any literary lover will appreciate. Not only will you forgive the lengthy descriptions, you will savour them. Each evocative sentence drips with witty analogies that made me chuckle, beauty that made my imagination running, and painful truths that ripped at my heart. (When Juliet fretted about what might have happened to her lost portrait, I cried remembering my best drawings that I’d never see again because I’m too scared to find out what’s happened to them.)

More than a clever play of words, this book showcases the author’s soul. The Gallery of Vanished Husbands is peopled with a diverse array of strong characters resulting from Natasha Solomons’ deep understanding of the human faculties, psychology, habits, and insecurities. Her thorough observations of adolescent rebellion, mean kids and bullying, demeaning neighbours, secretive husbands, and genuinely caring parents are all very touching. And with her admirable knowledge in fine arts, her 1960s’ London’s bohemian painting scene is stronger than Victoria Holt’s 1860s Parisian bohemian painting scene in “Daughter of Deceit”.

An enjoyable read.

Meet Wayne Zurl, former police commander, author of Sam Jenkins police mysteries.


Author Wayne Zurl is a retired police commander and a Vietnam veteran who writes witty and very realistic police stories, Sam Jenkins mysteries—like an episode of NYPD Blue in the Smoky Mountains. Wayne honors us with an interview today.

Wayne Zurl, US author of Sam Jenkins mysteries—like an episode of NYPD Blue in the Smoky Mountains. “All my novels and all but two novelettes are based on actual incidents—either cases I investigated, supervised, or just knew a lot about. My stories come from real experience, not something I learned after a two-hour lecture at a writer’s conference.”


You have led a very interesting life. But first, please tell us about your current home.

Wayne Zurl, author of Police mysteriesI live in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, East Tennessee,  only a few miles from the most visited national park in the United States. It’s also “jest a hoot an’ a holler” from the small fictional city of Prospect where my protagonist, Sam Jenkins, became police chief. The Smokies are full of history and the natives are part of a fiercely independent and hardy group. The landscape is beautiful, the communities unique, and the region deserves character status—just as Raymond Chandler gave to Los Angeles in his Philip Marlowe stories and books, James Lee Burke gives Dave Robicheaux’s Cajun country of southern Louisiana, and Loren D. Estleman gave to Amos Walker’s Detroit.

Your beautiful home sure deserves one! And Sam is quite a character. Now, for thirteen years you were a New York police commander who supervised investigators. Please share with us what you do there.

I spent more than half of my police career serving as the CO of a specialized unit. The nature of these sections makes a supervisor’s life easier than for those who lead the line organizations of any agency. Everyone I worked with was chosen from a pool of volunteers. Everyone wanted to be there, doing that specific job. They were all self-motivated, experienced cops who wanted to investigate complicated and specialized cases. I dealt with the cream from a good crop. All I had to do was coordinate our efforts, offer some advice, check over reports, and make sure morale stayed high. I liked the people I worked with . . . then there was management.

You sure downplay your role, but how lovely to work with such people! You deserved that after serving in Vietnam and in the Reserves. Would you like to talk about Vietnam?

Young people should never be subjected to war. During the Vietnam conflict, the average age of the soldiers I saw serving in that country was between eighteen and nineteen years old. I was an old man—almost twenty-three when I got there on April Fool’s Day of 1969.

I served in a special warfare unit manned by career soldiers and volunteers. Our motto was ‘De Oppresso Libre.’ In English:‘Liberate the Oppressed.’ Unfortunately, most of the Vietnamese people didn’t want us in their country. They didn’t ask to be liberated or see their land occupied by a bunch of foreign soldiers who believed in the domino theory of Communist oppression and domination.

Discussing the ramifications of the Vietnam War could take me more time than I have left on earth.

Yes, I read Trang Sen by Sarah Anne Smith, a book about the Vietnamese and the Americans during that war. What happened on your return from Vietnam?

I returned to the U.S. after my time in Vietnam and a second “hard tour” in South Korea. I landed at McCord Air Base in Washington. The rhododendrons were in bloom. The pines reached way up into the sky and the Seattle-Tacoma region was experiencing a rare period of clear blue skies and sunshine—a beautiful homecoming. I walked from the Air Force facility to the civilian SEA-TAC airport where I would hop on an Army bus and ride to nearby Fort Lewis and the mustering out station.  I wore a set of custom-made khakis, spit-shined jump boots, a jaunty beret, and all the appropriate ribbon bars and silver badges. I thought I looked like the cat’s ass. While marching over the highly buffed terminal floor, I encountered the first two hippie panhandlers I’d ever seen. The male was tall and fat and bearded. The female would have been attractive had she been scrubbed with a push broom. He put down his guitar, lifted his T-shirt, and flashed a hairy stomach at me. She shook her tambourine, gave me the finger, and called me a baby killer. Welcome home, kid.

Here’s an excerpt from A LEPRECHAUN’S LAMENT and what Sam Jenkins said about his homecoming from the Vietnam War:

I felt similar to how I did after returning from overseas many years before. I spent two hard-tours in East Asia for the Army, one in Vietnam and one in South Korea. Upon my return to the U. S., I possessed little tolerance for the street punk or college student who somehow escaped national service and behaved like they knew something of the world. I believed that only I, and those of my ilk, owned the right to feel worldly or world-weary. We had seen it all and done most everything, or so we thought. But as I grew older, I learned most everyone gets to see and do just a little more.

Before all that, you worked in the fledgling business of computers—when they were seven feet tall. What happened there?

When I started college in 1965, a counselor bamboozled me into taking several courses in computer programming and data processing. He claimed that Sperry-Rand’s UNIVAC machines had been eclipsed by IBM and recommended I get into the business as advancements emerged. Back then, you wrote programs on paper worksheets and key punch operators transcribed each line onto a punch card to become one element of a total program. The older and simpler plug-board accounting machines were programmed by a series of wires telling the machine what to do. Both depended much on logic to instruct the computer. The programming methods I learned linked that logic with orderly common sense. I did well and during school scored a couple of part-time jobs to help provide tuition and gas and pizza money. After I graduated and got married, I found a cushy job at a major university. I wrote programs, but when a system runs well and no one asks to improve what works, there were no programs to write. So, I helped the machine operators run the computers and generate reports, payroll checks, billing statements, and whatever paperwork makes a business go around. That’s where my problems broke water. Operating a data processing machine is boring. My mind wandered. Inevitably, I pushed the wrong button or crossed hands and fed the wrong sequence of cards into the hopper. I was a disaster.

In retrospect, I realize the local draft board breathing down my neck saved me from getting sacked. Uncle Sam sent me a “greetings” letter, but I opted to speed up the inevitable by going into the Army three months early. I left the university a local hero.

I can envision some of that! When I started work in 1986, I wrote numerical programs and typed them into black and green screen of a fat computer. Then the operators run the programs at night time on seven-feet-tall mainframe computers, storing the data in big reels and giving us boxes of velocity rolls or seismic sections in the morning. And now it’s almost paperless! So, you were disenchanted with the IBM/data processing business then. You scrapped reentry into that world after returning from your stint with the Army overseas. You collected unemployment insurance until you were offered the only job compatible with your military background. Would you like to tell us more?

Almost five years later (there were aspects of the Army I liked and stayed a bit longer than my obligatory two years),  I separated from active duty and became one of the unemployed masses. A woman at the New York State Division of Employment asked if I wanted to return to the world of computers. Remembering the seven-foot-tall processing units, eighteen inch “RAMAC” discs, and massive reel-to-reel data drives clicking and ticking away in frigid air-conditioned dust-free rooms and the frantic month-end closing days of reports, reports, and more reports, I mumbled some excuse for not pursuing that career path.

Well,” she said, “based on what you did in the Army, you have no marketable civilian skills, but your military salary allows us to pay you the maximum unemployment benefit of $104.00 a week. Keep a record of the job interviews you go to and report in every Monday.”

FBI advanced firearms school 1977

I faced choices in life. Go back into the Army? I kinda liked the idea, but my wife hated it. To make a few extra bucks to help offset the high cost of New York life, I opted to go into the active reserves. Go back to school on the G.I. Bill? I didn’t know in which direction to go with further education. I decided to follow many indecisive young men from New York when looking for a job: Go into civil service. I could be a cop, a fire fighter, or a garbage man. Smoke gave me a headache and I didn’t want to spend twenty years smelling other people’s refuse. That left being a policeman. I liked the idea of the paramilitary structure, the chances for advancement, and the benefits. So, I took the entrance exams for the three major departments in the Metro New York area.

The results of the test I took on February 24th were published first. I placed number 24 on the list and was hired in the first academy class on April 24th. I found a bookie and played that number in all combinations.

Hahahahaha! You are witty like your character Sam 🙂 Speaking of your many writings, you sure are a very busy and a very happy retiree. Would you be so kind to give readers a one-sentence synopsis of each book? Please share your favourite paragraph in each book.

HEROES & Lovers by Wayne ZurlHeroes & Lovers


After helping her friend Chief Sam Jenkins with a fraud investigation, a beautiful TV reporter is abducted in Prospect by a deranged fan.


I rose up on my knees and unzipped my field jacket. I took it off slowly and dropped it on the floor. In doing so, he saw the holstered Glock hanging on my right hip.

“You have a gun?” He rose up, too, and snapped his pistol directly at my head. “You wanted to kill me.”

He sounded disappointed in me.

A Leprechaun’s Lament


Records show that a long-term employee at Prospect city hall doesn’t really exist, and then the man is found dead in a Smoky Mountain creek bed, killed assassination style.


I think about the little guy often. Murray McGuire looked like a leprechaun. He played darts like a pub champion and drank stout like a soccer star. If you worked for the city of Prospect and found problems with a piece of office equipment, Murray would work tirelessly to remedy your troubles. But after I interviewed him for thirty minutes, I could have cheerfully strangled the little bastard.

A New Prospect by Wayne ZurlA New Prospect


A retired New York detective finds a job as police chief in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, investigates a grisly homicide with less than a week on the job, and encounters more political corruption than he ever wanted to see.


Few people believe me when I speak about my life altering experience at the checkout in Wal-Mart.

How long did it take you to write each of them?

I began writing my first novel, A NEW PROSPECT, in the summer of 2006 with no formal education in creative writing. It took a long time and served as a learning process not only on how to write fiction, but the publishing business in general. When I thought I’d finished, I hired a “book doctor” to evaluate the manuscript and received good news and bad news. The retired editor and author of nine novels told me he liked my main character, the story, and my writing voice, but . . . “It would have been a hit in 1985, but it doesn’t conform to the structure today’s publisher demands.”

So, I jumped through hoops to move chapters around, trim lots of fat, add some necessities, and got it ready to submit.

After a blessing from Dr. Book, I began sending query letters to literary agents. As the answers came trickling back and the rejections piled up, I began to wonder if my deodorant had failed. Then one of those pedantic power brokers who must have had a free afternoon sent a scribbled note saying, “I like the way you write, but a 60-year-old retired NY detective in Tennessee just isn’t trendy. Consider changing your character from a middle-aged police chief to a teen-aged private eye from Orange County.”

I gave up on the agent idea and began writing to any publisher willing to accept submissions directly from an author and accepted the first reasonable contract offered. A NEW PROSPECT was traditionally published in January 2011.

The next two novels came along quicker. I wrote them faster and a new publisher found me posting chapters at an on-line writer’s workshop and offered contracts. A LEPRECHAUN’S LAMENT was published in April 2012 and HEROES & LOVERS followed in August that year.

Interesting! How real are your characters?

I tell everyone I have more memory than imagination. Most of my characters are based on people I know/knew well. Sometimes they’re composites of multiple personalities. Some are caricatures of brief acquaintances. But they’re all real people. Being able to see these players makes writing dialogue easier. I can hear them—their voices and delivery, so duplicating their speech comes naturally.

I noticed that attention to speech 🙂 Now, how did you come up with the titles?

My first book began life as Murder in the Smokies. Reflecting on that, I didn’t want readers to think this was just another story of a murder investigation. I wanted the book to be more character driven and didn’t want a body by page 3. I woke up at 3 a.m. one morning and said, “A NEW PROSPECT.” A double meaning. A new prospect in life for former Detective Lieutenant Sam Jenkins and a new [city of] Prospect for the residents, gaining an honest and professional cop as their chief. Will Prospect ever be the same?

The second book’s main antagonist is a little redheaded guy named Murray McGuire. He claims parental ties to Ireland, but turns out to have no past and meets a horrible future. A LEPRECHAUN’S LAMENT seemed appropriate.

I first called HEROES & LOVERS Christmas in the Smokies, which sounded terribly bland. It took me until the end of the book to dream up something I liked better. The final title also has something of an ambiguous and double meaning.

What inspires you the most? 

Remember what I said about more memory than imagination? All my novels and all but two novelettes are based on actual incidents—either cases I investigated, supervised, or just knew a lot about. I’m never sure when or why I’ll get an idea or inspiration for something new, but these old memories surface and with luck I figure out how to twist things a little and transplant them from New York to Tennessee. In GRACELAND ON WHEELS (a soon to be published novelette) I took the New York murder of an old alcoholic who everyone thought to be wealthy and turned it into the killing of an Elvis Presley impersonator. Who knows where that transition came from?

And with your life experiences you have so much more memories to write about! When did you first know you just had to write?

I had been writing non-fiction magazine articles for ten years and woke up one morning feeling burnt out. Around the same time, I started reading Robert B. Parker’s NIGHT PASSAGE, the first Jesse Stone mystery. Parker’s premise was an ex-LAPD detective who became chief in a small Massachusetts town. A mental light bulb popped on. I had been a cop and Parker hadn’t. Why couldn’t I write about a retired New York detective who moved to Tennessee and found a chief’s job? How hard could it be? Refer back to Question #10 and that business about agents.

You’ve achieved so much since then. Who would you say have been the most influential authors in your life? What is it that really strikes you about their work?

I could make a long list of favorite authors, but for the sake of brevity, I’ll choose a few people who give me good reason to hold them in esteem.

Someone gave me a copy of James Lee Burke’s BLACK CHERRY BLUES and started me reading mysteries. I’ll always place Burke on my list of favorites and admit I’ll never be as technically as good as he, because my mind doesn’t work in the directions his does. Burke can describe people, places and events with pure poetry. He can also take you into a character’s head in psychological and philosophical ways that I admire.

I mentioned Robert B. Parker before. I like everything he wrote—Spenser, Jesse Stone, Sonny Randal, and the other non-series novels. His strong point is an easy-going, minimalist style. From him, I’ve gotten the urge to tell my stories in the fewest possible words. He did that quite well. I’m working on it.

I’ve read every piece of fiction and several of the non-fiction books from Joseph Wambaugh. He’s excellent with police procedurals because he’s an ex-cop. He gets the details right and doesn’t pander to expected formulas. His books aren’t for the action junkie who likes the unrealistic, over-the-top, fantasy police novels some best-selling authors peddle.  Joe writes interesting, compelling, and real police stories.

Who gives you the most encouragement?

No doubt about this—my wife. She offers plenty of encouragement, compliments, and a true touch of honesty and reality by saying, “I’d never want you to embarrass yourself. After I read something, I’ll tell you the truth.”

Tell us about your audio books and your experience producing them.

While I was trying to peddle A NEW PROSPECT to a publisher, I wrote shorter novelettes (the accepted definition of a novelette is between 7,500 and 17,500 words) for practice, but encountered problems trying to sell long stories to mainstream mystery magazines who typically want pieces between 3,000 and 5,000 words. Then I ran across a relatively new company called Mind Wings Audio who was looking for stories between 8 and 11 thousand words to produce as audio books (read by professional actors) and simultaneously publish as eBooks. They called them “commuter audio books” or something to listen to other than the same old am/fm station on trips to and from work. They duplicate the old-fashioned one-hour radio programs I remember from the 1940s and 50s. They sell very well and Mind Wings pays royalties faithfully. MP3 downloads far exceed compact discs and eBooks outsell them all. So far they’ve bought nineteen of these short Sam Jenkins mysteries.

 Any writing tips?

What you write should not only be grammatically correct and have all the elements of a well structured story but they should sound good. ALWAYS read your finished product aloud to yourself. It should flow smoothly, have rhythm. If you hit an awkward bump—reword it until it sings to you.

What are you working on right now? Tell us your latest news.

A new full-length novel is under contract and the publisher is doing the first round of edits. Here’s my proposed dust jacket summary for PIGEON RIVER BLUES:

Winter in the Smokies can be a tranquil time of year—unless Sam Jenkins sticks his thumb into the sweet potato pie.

The retired New York detective turned Tennessee police chief is minding his own business one quiet day in February when Mayor Ronnie Shields asks him to act as a bodyguard for a famous country and western star.

C.J. Profitt’s return to her hometown of Prospect receives lots of publicity . . . and threats from a rightwing group calling themselves The Coalition for American Family Values.

The beautiful, publicity seeking Ms. Proffit never fails to capitalize on her abrasive personality by flaunting her alternative lifestyle—a way of living the Coalition hates.

Reluctantly, Jenkins accepts the assignment of keeping C.J. safe while she performs at a charity benefit. But Sam’s job becomes more difficult when the object of his protection refuses to cooperate.

During this misadventure, Sam hires a down-on-his-luck ex-New York detective and finds himself thrown back in time, meeting old Army acquaintances who factor into a complicated plot of attempted murder, the destruction of a Dollywood music hall, and other general insurrection on the “peaceful side of the Smokies.”

Mind Wings has four novelettes on the coming soon list: NOTHING FITZ, THE SWAN TATTOO, ALVIS IS IN THE BUILDING, and GRACELAND ON WHEELS.

And I’m working on revisions of A TOUCH OF MORNING CALM, a novel about Korean organized crime in Tennessee.

How much do you have in common with your protag?

Reality and authenticity of detail mean a lot to me in mysteries or police procedurals. Allowing a reasonable amount of suspension of disbelief is good for any story, but too many bestselling authors insult our intelligence with what they write. I promise, I’ll never expect you to believe that in real life Sam Jenkins would shoot a steel cable from his wristwatch so he can “slide for life” across the gap between two tall buildings and chase a suspect over the rooftops of beautiful downtown Prospect, Tennessee. That’s pure hogwash. So, to bring this much needed authenticity to my stories (and make my writing life easier) I decided that my protagonist would act a lot like me. I can look back on twenty years of being a cop in a busy place and allow Sam to do what I would do and say what I might say. Initially, I thought it would be a chance to take that extra time often not available to a street cop, reason out a foolproof plan, and make everything come out perfect. But that’s not reality and perfect is boring. Sam occasionally acts impulsively and makes mistakes. We share the trait of sometimes lacking the patience necessary to do things safely. I hope readers grit their teeth, say, “Oh, Jenkins, you know better,” and feel the tension.

What are your hobbies apart from writing?

My wife and I travel a lot. With travel comes photography, and it’s a lot more enjoyable to take nature and landscape photos than to capture the nuances of a crime scene or dead body. A couple of years ago, we rekindled an old interest in fishing that had been on hiatus for more than thirty years. And like my protagonist, I have a keen interest in old British sports cars. Sam’s 1967 Austin-Healey 3000 is not a work of fiction.



Sam Jenkins 1967 Austin-Healey 3000.
This series of police stories is full of interest, authenticity, humor, and quirky characters. The protagonist is middle-aged, not an alcoholic, he regards police work as fun, and remains steadfast in the philosophy that politicians should not try to influence a cop.

Tell us a bit about who or what matters to you.

I’ve always had a small family and not many of us are left. So, living a healthy and tranquil life sits high on my priority list. From a writer’s standpoint, before I fall off the perch, I wanted to bring readers a series of police stories full of interest, authenticity, humor, and quirky characters. My protagonist is not your average police/detective hero—he’s middle-aged, not an alcoholic, he regards police work as fun, and remains steadfast in the philosophy that politicians should not try to influence a cop. If nothing else, I hope readers finish a Sam Jenkins mystery and say, “Score one for the old guy.”

What one thing is important for your readers to know about you? Why?

I care how the public looks at the police. I believe that society has the right to expect more from the cops they hire than they might expect from themselves. No civil servant likes to hear a complainant say, “Hey, I pay your salary.” But that statement is true and the paying public deserves 100% professionalism and talent from a good cop. I do my best to make Sam Jenkins adhere to those standards. My stories come from real experience not something I learned after a two hour lecture at a writer’s conference. A combination of two Twitter messages I often use tells people what they can expect: He’s not just another fictional cop. Mysteries told in minimalist style. No BS. Meet Sam Jenkins.

Thank you so much for your time and the very interesting chat, Wayne.  Happy writing and best wishes!

Readers. I trust you have enjoyed meeting Wayne Zurl. Come visit his website and author pages on  Amazon,  B&N, and Mind Wings Audio. Follow Wayne on TwitterFacebookGoodreadsGoogle+.

His most recent novel, HEROES & LOVERS, is available from AmazonBarnes & Noble , and Books-A-Million

Now, here comes my mini review of Wayne’s novellete, Heaven’s Gate

Heaven’s Gate, reviewed by Ia Uaro

Author: Wayne Zurl


Sam Jenkins is the Police Chief of quaint little town Prospect, which is peopled by real and quirky characters of friendly police officers, obnoxious Mayor Ronnie Shields, news-hungry journalists, and obtuse crooks. In Heaven’s Gate, Chief Jenkins goes undercover to buy automatic illegal weapons from a gun show hustler, with the money supplied by  the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

The story opens with illegal-firearm trading by Patriots at the Gate, a neo-fascist militia group of genuinely patriotic but sadly misinformed men. Members of this group arm themselves with automatic weapons and military munition in order to defend their American ideals. They must prevent the minorities, women, and Democrats from forcing their ways on society.

 Heaven’s Gate is a short men fiction, which even female readers will be interested in. Here we learn about real police procedural with the right details but Wayne’s minimalist style prevent these details from bogging down the plot. An interesting look into the minds of gun lovers and black-market firearms, in a country where the  number of the annual gun casualties is extremely high.

sydney's song s logo

Meet Cindy Smith, Author of Poetry Book “They Won’t Shut Up”


Cindy Smith, author of poetry books Voices in my Head  and They Won’t Shut Up honours usor honors us, since she’s an Americanwith her visit today. Cindy was raised in upstate New York. She has worked a variety of jobs during her lifestore associate, certified electronic technician, and currently an over-the-road truck driver. Cindy has lived is many states from Maine to Florida, and now resides in Indiana.

Cindy Smith, poetess who composes while driving a semi. Through all her experiences, Cindy hears voices in her head dictating poems. The voices will not relent until Cindy writes the poems down. She invites you to eavesdrop.


Hello Cindy, thank you so much for coming in. First, congratulations on the release of They Won’t Shut Up. Would you like to give us a one-sentence summary of this book?

Poems that help deal with life’s situations.

What compelled you to write it?

I have written poetry all my life as a means of understanding the world I see.

How did you come up with the titles of your books, Cindy? 

Voices in my Head I came up with because that is where I get the poems from.  I hear them.  They Won’t Shut Up is a continuation.

Would you share one-paragraph excerpt from each of your books?

Voices  In My Head:


The winds of change are blowing cold

Within my world today.

My dreams of love and happiness

Have all been drawn away.

No longer can I feel the warmth

From his once gentle touch.

My heart now aches within my chest. Oh, I miss him so much!

Where has the caring tenderness

Gone from this old life?

What happened to the vows we made

Joining as man and wife?


Hindsight shows so clearly now

It’s been coming for a while. I got lost in fun and cheer And the lie behind a smile.


They Won’t Shut Up:



Amazed that two

Oceans apart

Can meet online

Find share a heart


A chance remark

Or comment played

Forms a strong bond

New Friendship made


Worlds are now joined

Problems we share

Both blessed with one

Who shows they care


Distance unknown

It matters not

For heart held tight

By friend we got!


Beautiful! Thank you, Cindy. How did you start to write?

I have written as far back as I can remember, it is the only way to get the rhymes out of my head.

Who would you say have been the most influential authors in your life?

Dr. Seuss, Alex Huxley and Dalton Trumbo.

What is it that really strikes you about their work?

Each of them shows the world as it is becoming and asks us to think about what the consequences of our actions will be. Very powerful ideas.

What story would you like to share about the joy, challenge, or hardship of writing?

The biggest challenge for me is believing anyone wants to read what I write.  I know it sounds strange, but I never saw myself as a published poet.  I really just did the first book for my daughter and to get my friends to stop telling me I should do it.

Cindy, the world is more beautiful with your contribution! Keep writing 🙂

Now, who gives you the most encouragement and why is that important to you? 

I am so blessed with great friends that encourage me.  I can’t name just one.

It is such a blessing to know that there is someone who wants to know the real answer to “How are you doing?”  Your heart just fills.

Gratitude is the first step towards inner peace, good on you Cindy. What are you working on right now? Tell us your latest news. 

I am working on book three.  I already have 33 new poems written.  I have also submitted my first book to the publishers of the second one for consideration of a re-release.

Good luck for that. Your new book has been so well received. What’s your best marketing strategy? 

Haven’t found it yet…got any ideas, lol?

Lol back. What are your other hobbies, Cindy? 

I love to read, listen to music and cook.

What is your other profession?

I drive a semi over-the-road with my husband.

Oh wow, how fascinating! You might like to read Crossing The Double Yellow by Stuart Land. So when do you find the time to write, Cindy? 

I usually get my poems while I am driving so I carry a voice recorder to capture them.  Then I just type when I feel like it.

Tell us a bit about who or/and what matters to you. 

People matter to me.  It bothers me when I see how much hate there is because of someone’s skin color or religion.  Every group has some bad apples, it doesn’t make them all terrible.  Some of the worst crimes have been done by white AngloSaxon Christian males, and yet a few Muslim terrorists has created a web of hate for the millions of gentle followers.

World peace will arrive when duality stops, Cindy, so let’s do our part towards end. What one thing is important for your readers to know about you?

I will write about anything.  If you say it in a comment on Facebook…I will steal it.  Why?  I never know what my mind is going to decide as a poem topic.  I have written several based on comments on Facebook.

Looks like your mind is awake and you’re forever alert—perhaps from your habit while driving.

Any tips on reading and writing? 

I believe you should not force writing.  If it isn’t coming to you smoothly, it won’t come to the reader smooth either.  Readers should always remember to review any indie book.  It is the only way to let people know about us!

How true. And your beautiful poems sure comes from the heart, my best wishes for them.  

Would you like to tell us about who you are at home?

My husband and I will soon be celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary.  Our daughter is an angel now and we are proud grandparents of a beautiful little girl.  I love animals and used to have 10 cats and 3 dogs.  Purple is the only color that anyone really needs.

Purple! I loved purple when I was a little girl, I remember asking mum to add purple flowers to the tablecloth she was embroidering. And congratulations on the anniversary, Cindy! Happy wishes for the both of you and your granddaughter too. Thank you so much for your time.

Readers, I hope you have enjoyed meeting Cindy. Come follow Cindy on Facebook and Goodreads and you can find her book-purchase links by clicking on the images above.

Cypher Lx, US Law Enforcer Who Writes Suspenseful Psychological, Paranormal Thrillers

I’ve recently discovered that some book publicists and used-car dealers have one thing in common: their job description necessitates that they praise the merchandise, regardless of what their own personal opinion about this product might be. This makes me very wary when I’m offered books to review—“astounding” books by “incredible” authors.

Let me just make one thing clear: I don’t receive any payment in any forms for the reviews or videos I make. When I praise an author, that’s because I genuinely like what I read; not because I’m obliged to do so. And the reason you don’t find me criticizing an author/book is because I send any constructive review to the publicist/author instead of posting it for the public.

Some authors or readers here may make undisclosed donations to the charities I support, but any praise from me is unsolicited and unconditional.

Okay, recently two masterful authors, Cypher Lx (“Darkest Before Dawn“) and Stuart Land (“Epiphany“), have convinced me to praise books from a genre I rarely read: paranormal. Stuart is busy working a film project in Beijing, but we are honored that Cypher is here for an interview today.



Cypher Lx works full-time in law enforcement, part-time as an alternative model, and has a B.A. degree in Forensic Psychology. When she is not busy with those things, she participates in cowboy action shooting, makes Victorian gowns by hand, reads and writes. She is an avid reader of horror, mystery, and more specifically, vampire and zombie novels.


Her novel Darkest Before Dawn is a suspenseful thriller of mystery, action, psychological and paranormal intrigues.


“I am an author who will write just about anything paranormal, whether it’s vampires, zombies, other supernatural creatures, and anything else that goes bump in the night, with a psychological twist.” ~ Cypher Lx


Hello Cypher, thanks so much for coming in. Would you be so kind to give readers a one-sentence synopsis of Darkest Before Dawn? 

Darkest Before Dawn is the strange and twisting journey Elissa Greyfield takes to solve the mysterious disappearance of her sister and how it may tie in with more recent serial killings where the victims are posed as angels in Laurel Hill Cemetery.

What compelled you to write this book?  

I have always been fascinated with large, old cemeteries and the statuary.  Combined with my studies in Forensic Psychology, I thought it would be interesting if a serial killer actually turned his victims into works of art that blended in with their surroundings.  I decided to add a supernatural element to it, which is probably influenced by all the paranormal books and movies that I read and watch.

I can see how your work in law enforcement influenced this story. Would you like to elaborate? 

In law enforcement, you undergo a lot of training, from firearms to handcuffing, and interviewing to investigating.  The thought process in using these elements is as natural for me as it would be for a doctor writing about a medical mystery or a teacher writing about the educational system.


Tell us about cemeteries and the Goth club. 


Laurel Hill Cemetery is a real historic cemetery in Philadelphia, PA.  It covers over 70 acres of land and has many beautiful statues and mausoleums.  It is also an arboretum and is just wonderful to walk through.  The Goth club I used in the story is also a real place, though the Goth nights are no longer held at that venue on a weekly basis.  There are still many Goth events held in Philly and the culture is very “colorful” despite the mostly black attire many people wear.  It’s a very accepting group where age, gender, race, or pretty much anything else has no bearing on you as a person.  As long as you are nice to people there, they will treat you the same.




Your characters are very convincing. How real are they? 

That’s a difficult question.  There are elements in each of my characters that are very real.  Except for the family tragedy, Elissa kind of depicts the rebellious person I was when I was younger.  Like her, I was an art student who later on went into law enforcement.  But I wrote her having much more experience in the career than I ever had to this point.  Sage is probably more like I am now.  Still rebellious, but with a sense of authority and responsibility.  She’s probably one of my favorite characters and has a few surprises coming.  Sean and Michael are different blends of various men that I have encountered in my life.  I have to admit, Sean is probably the most realistic of all my characters.  He’s down to earth with a good mix of humor and protectiveness.

How long did you develop the book to its final state?  

I started writing it in 2009 and published it in early 2011, so a little over a year.

How did you come up with the title? 

Long before I started writing the novel, I worked night security at a chemical facility.  There is an actual phrase that says, “It’s always darkest just before dawn.”  Walking around at night, I realized that it was true and I thought it would make a good book title.  At the time, I was just considering writing a vampire novel, but I didn’t actually start writing in earnest until four years later.

What’s your favourite paragraph in Darkest Before Dawn?


“Dance with me,” the familiar voice spoke softly in my ear.  His breath was like velvet against my skin and his hand travelled down my arm to my hand, which he raised slowly to drape around his neck.  He pressed his chest closer to my back and I took a shallow breath, my heart pounding as hard as the beat of the song.  Briefly, I wondered how he had crossed the room without me seeing him, but his fingertips sliding down my side to encircle my waist distracted me and I lost the thought completely.  To our left, I caught the sight of Wraith glaring at me, incensed.  I gave him a defiant glance as my dance partner turned me to face him, still holding me intimately close.  Looking into his eyes once again, I felt as though I was losing myself in his gaze.  The lyrics of “The Sinner in Me” seemed to echo in the distance as our sensual dance intensified.  The subtle scent of him only amplified the sensations I was experiencing, and I began to feel a bit lightheaded.  If I had been able to think at all, only one word would have been suitable to describe these feelings.  Euphoria.  My eyes closed as his lips tenderly brushed against my cheek and down my throat.  It was so soft and fleeting that I was unsure if it had happened at all.  The song was nearly over as I felt him release me.  I opened my eyes and he was gone, just as quickly as he had appeared only minutes before.

Thank you Cypher. Now let’s visit its sequel, “The Cold of Night”.

Would you like to give us a one-sentence synopsis of the book?

The Cold of Night is the continuing story from where I left off in Darkest Before Dawn, using Sean’s perspective of losing his partner and trying to cope with that while continuing the murder investigation.

Where do you get your inspiration for this sequel? Did you base the sequel on what readers like from the first book or your own inspiration? 

I purposely left loose ends in the previous novel to continue where I wanted the story to go.  I also couldn’t leave Sean the way I did in the end of the first novel.  There’s a lot more about him in the second one.  I used my own inspiration for the sequel.  If I wrote what people expected to happen instead of what I felt should happen, I think I would be doing a disservice to the reader.

Tell us about these fabulous characters. Which actors would you choose to play them in a movie rendition? 

I always have a problem trying to decide what actors would suit the characters in my books.  One that I can definitely pin down is Elissa.  I could see Molly C. Quinn pulling off the role if she was just a little bit older.  She has the look and if you’re not familiar with who she is, watch the television series Castle.  Sage is so much a part of me that I would have a very difficult time being satisfied with any actress.  Typically, I have mental pictures in my head of what the characters look like that is never based on celebrities.

What sets this one apart from the first book? Is this a repeat or are there new excitements?

I’ve introduced several new characters and revisited others who didn’t get as much face time in the first novel.  Things happen that are hopefully unexpected.  There is a lot more that was only hinted at before, so I hope it’s exciting.

Why is this a must read? 

The characters have evolved and there is much more action.  There are also some questions that are answered, as well as more questions that crop up.

Sample paragraph, please?

Laurel Hill 2

My eyes snapped open and for several moments I stared at the blank ceiling, watching the shadows and waiting for my pulse to slow.  I knew that I had been dreaming, but couldn’t recall the content.  Whatever it had been sparked another anxiety attack.  Stumbling out of bed, I opened the window to let in fresh air.  A sudden chill went down my spine and I felt like I was being watched.  Great, Sean.  Now you’re just being paranoid, I thought.  Until I saw him perched on the fire escape across the way.  Michael Sheridan.  I scrambled for my gun, trying to keep my eye on him at the same time.  I had only glanced away for a split second as I checked to make sure there was a round in the chamber, but that fast he was gone.  And just as quickly, I felt as if a railroad spike had been driven into my skull, dropping me like a rock.  The entire dream in all of its detail slammed into me as if a rubber band had been snapped back into place.

When is the planned release?  Tell us your latest news.

I’ve had to delay the release, I will announce it on my author page.  I also have a new idea for a novel that may very well have some sci-fi overtones.

Good luck with that. Now on writing. When did you first know you just had to write? 

I’ve been writing on and off since middle school.  Mostly just short stories and poetry with a few failed attempts at longer stories that I gave up on.  In 2009, one of my professors asked us what goal we wanted to meet in our lives.  I wanted to write a novel.  Little did I know that we had to share with the entire class.  He encouraged me to pursue that goal and Darkest Before Dawn was dedicated to him.  I now have four complete novels and several more ideas for future works.

Who would you say have been the most influential authors in your life?

What is it that really strikes you about their work?  It sounds so cliché, but Stephen King and Anne Rice.  I started reading King’s books when other girls were reading YA romance about cheerleaders.  He really knows how to dig into the darkest part of the human psyche and bring it to life.  It’s sometimes scarier than the monsters he writes about.  Rice combines the horror and romance of vampirism so artfully that the reader can feel fear and sympathy at the same time.  The Vampire Chronicles was just the start of my Anne Rice reading, but The Mayfair Witches and The Violin are also very good.

What story would you like to share about the joy, challenge, or hardship of writing? 

Writing is a real roller coaster ride for me.  I hate staring at that first blank page wondering how to start.  When I finally jump off, everything starts to flow.  Then I hit those loops where I have to keep going back to make sure I connected everything properly.  Climbing that final big hill, I struggle to find a way to end it satisfactorily.  Then it’s full speed ahead.  There is the anxiety that builds toward that last big drop, because I wonder how people will accept the ending.  Will they be happy?  Will they hate it?  After the ride is over and I publish, there’s almost a sense of disappointment that it’s over.  Then I jump back on and ride again.

Who gives you the most encouragement? Why is that important to you?

My husband and my mother are probably my biggest supporters.  I have other friends and family that support me as well, but they are the most important.  My husband allows me to write for hours on end and will even help me out with parts of the plot that he is knowledgeable about, which is evident toward the end of The Cold of Night when I had to use his military expertise.  My mother reads over my novels before I publish and tells me what sounds right and what doesn’t.  She’s also excellent at catching spelling and grammatical errors that I may have missed.  Above all, she’s my biggest promoter.  She just loves telling everyone that her daughter writes books and will do just about anything for me, including going out in the rain to model for the new cover of Darkest Before Dawn.

You are so fortunate in your supporters!

You lead a very busy life. Would you like to elaborate on who you are when you’re not writing? Please tell us about some unique experiences in law enforcement.

As a female in any kind of law enforcement, it’s more difficult to prove that you’re just as capable as your male counterparts.  I tried to reflect this in the character of Elissa, because I have had situations where the sexist perspective still persists.  While I don’t go overboard with this particular theme, I want the reader to understand where Elissa is coming from in Darkest Before Dawn and how others in the department saw her in The Cold of Night.

I can relate to that! Geophysics was dominated by males:)

f11c7fd6a5030a7e9d9aff.L._V167923710_SY470_ How about being an alternative model?

Becoming an alternative model happened by chance.  I had gone to traditional modeling school and was essentially told that I would never get a job in the field because I wasn’t tall enough, thin enough, or conservative enough.  That was before I had all the tattoos.  Several years ago, I transitioned from the “normal” Goth style to cybergoth and, because it’s not as common in the US, it drew attention.  I was asked to model for the BizR Babes, and I still do from time to time when my schedule allows it.

What you do with your B.A. degree in Forensic Psychology? 

Currently, there isn’t a high demand for careers in Forensic Psychology unless you have a Ph.D.  I’m looking into furthering my education, but for now I mainly use my knowledge in my writing.

And cowboy action shooting?

My husband initially got into cowboy action shooting and after watching, I decided I wanted to participate as well.  It’s an international sport where people dress in period clothing and register under a specific shooting class like Traditional, Gunfighter, or Duelist.  The shooter is timed while shooting for accuracy at interactive metal targets.  Unfortunately, because my work schedule has changed, I haven’t gotten to do it in a while, but if I ever become a full-time writer I will be spending more time doing it again.

What fun! You also make Victorian gowns by hand. How is it?

The short answer is…I can’t work a sewing machine to save my life.  The longer answer?  Victorian ball gowns are beautiful, suit almost any formal event, and are very, very expensive if you buy one already made.  Cowboy action shooting full weekend events tend to have a formal dinner and that started my obsession.  But I have also made them to wear to the Gravediggers’ Ball, which is a fund raising formal dinner Laurel Hill Cemetery holds every year to keep the grounds beautiful through the donations of the patrons.

Would you tell us about your charity drive?

Due to the nature of the plot for my novel Christmas Evil, I have chosen to donate fifty percent of the proceeds of its sales to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

What one thing is important for your readers/audience to know about you? Why?  

The most important thing to me is that my readers enjoy reading my work.  If I have made you laugh, cry, or even hate me for what I’ve done to one of my characters, then I have done my job, because I want my readers to experience the same range of emotions that I have while writing.

Share with us some of your photography work and their story. When and why did you take them? 


Each of my book covers has an example of my photography.  The original Darkest Before Dawn cover is a photograph of one of the angel statues in Laurel Hill Cemetery.  The newest cover, as well as the cover for The Cold of Night, are also of Laurel Hill.  The models I photographed were digitally added later.  All of the cemetery photographs were taken on rainy nights during an event called Dining Amongst the Dead, where patrons eat a delicious meal at the gatehouse prior to taking a guided stroll along the winding paths.  The cover of Salt Bowl Death is a composition photograph by myself and my husband using us as models and his best friend’s barn as the background.  Christmas Evil’s cover was a fun experiment in photography.  I mixed up fake blood and smashed Christmas ornaments and candy canes just to see what I came up with.  That cover is the result.  More of my photography can be found on my website.  Eventually, I would like to start putting prints up for sale, but I haven’t had the time or finances to make that available yet.

My best wishes on that, Cypher.

Now would you tell us about your home in Pennsylvania?

I live in a pretty typical middle-class neighborhood, I suppose.  My house is a half a twin, which means I can sometimes hear my neighbors.  Most of us have dogs or other pets and grill outside when the weather is warmer.  Generally, we know everyone in our little stretch of houses.  It rains a lot in Pennsylvania.  Sometimes too much for my liking.

Any tips on reading and writing? 

Read a lot and write a lot.  Reading keeps the imagination going and writing only improves over time.

Thank you so much for your time, Cypher. Best wishes for all the books!

Readers, I hope you have enjoyed meeting Cypher. Following is my review of Darkest Before Dawn.

31y1btRXQCLDarkest Before Dawn, reviewed by Ia Uaro

Title: Darkest Before Dawn
Author: Cypher Lx
ISBN: 978-1460963791
There are so many things I want to say about this book. So, I’ll make a list of WHAT I LIKE:

The masterful writing
These days it’s very rare that I can lose myself in whatever I read without analyzing the structure and noticing all kinds of errors. Reading DARKEST BEFORE DAWN however, I was allowed to fully focus on the story and enjoy myself.

The deftly drawn characters
Goth girl with attitude Detective Elissa Greyfield–who is obsessed with dark clothes, frequents Goth club Nocturne, and decorates her room with pictures of cemeteries–joins the Homicide department of Philadelphia Police Department, where nobody can stand or understand her bitterness and strangeness, except the ever loyal and patient Detective Sean Winters, formerly the investigator of her sister’s case. Sean knows what has shaped this girl, and their interaction is precious.
Enter mysterious newcomer Michael Sheridan, who brings suspicion in the protective Sean and rage in former Goth boyfriend Wraith. These characters, Michael and Wraith, are remarkable, but I really can’t be a spoiler here.

The deep mystery
The plot is meticulous. Elissa is the last surviving member of her family, after her sister disappears and is presumed to be brutally murdered. Four years on, as detectives she and Sean investigates a series of murders where the victims are exsanguinated and posed as angels in a cemetery by a psychopath who leaves notes of warning. But who is he warning? How much danger will Elissa’s fearless search for her sister’s bring? Why is someone shadowing her? And who is the mysterious Michael; is he the last gentleman on earth or is he too good to be true? And there are so much more to this book. Expect the unexpected.

The author’s knowledge
The details are amazing. No matter what topic or setting she’s describing, without overdoing anything the author pays scrupulous attention to providing fascinating facts, teaching you either from her thorough researches or from her wealth of experience in the law enforcement and Goth culture.

The uniqueness
This book is first of all a suspenseful mystery, something fans of Kay Hooper will enjoy, but there’s nothing quite like this one. “Darkest Before Dawn” is massive–a wholesome and intriguing blend of deep mystery, murder suspense, psychological thriller, police action, Goth community, family drama, and paranormal adventure. Do not expect your normal fares of these genres though, because Cypher Lx will take you on a journey to where you know not.

This is not good bye
I have mentioned the perfect balance of the book’s structure. Everything is just at the right proportion. But I fell in love with the story and its characters and dreaded the approaching end. I didn’t want it to end! And so I was glad when Cypher announced on the last page that a sequel should arrive soon. Yeay!


Perfectly balanced, cleverly written, and stylish, this one is a masterpiece by a talented author who excels in everything that she does.


sydney's song s logo

Art Expert Terry Stanfill Talks About Her Novels “The Blood Remembers” and “Realms of Gold”


TERRY STANFILL’s first novel The Blood Remembers was published in 2001 and was a finalist in 2002 Independent Publisher Awards and 2002 Dorothy Parker Awards of Excellence. Her new novel Realms of Gold has won the Bronze Medal in Romance of the 2013 eLit Awards. Born Therese Olivieri in West Haven, Connecticut, Terry is a first generation American of Italian descent. She received a degree in English Literature with a minor in Medieval History from the University of Connecticut. Until joining Christie’s as an International Representative, she served as a director of the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, CA. She is an overseer emerita of The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens and a founding member and Life Trustee of Los Angeles Opera. For her efforts in fund raising for the restoration of San Pietro di Castello, the ancient cathedral of Venice, Stanfill was decorated by the president of Italy with the Ordine al Merito, Cavaliere della Republica Italiana, and more recently as Commendatore. She is vice president of Save Venice, Inc. and was a founder of The California Chapter of Save Venice.

Terry is married to Dennis Stanfill, former CEO of Twentieth Century Fox, and MGM. Their daughter Francesca Stanfill Nye, is a novelist and journalist. Their son, Dennis, is partner and managing director of HBDesign, Singapore.

We are honored to have Terry visiting with us today, and she brings along her fascinating wealth of knowledge and experience.


Terry Stanfill, US author of Realms of Gold: “For me writing is a mystical experience. I don’t work “on” a book; I work “in” a book… I guess you can call them visions~the visions of my mind’s eye breaking through the layer of consciousness and called the imagination. I believe that the story is already written in the unconscious and it has to be mined out from its depths.”


Hello Terry, thank you so much for coming in. 

You dedicated Realms of Gold to your daughter, in memoriam. I am a mother myself and I feel you have to be very strong to have written this. Would you like to tell us about her?

Michaela Sara Stanfill, our daughter, was a brilliant girl who suffered from bi-polar disorder.  After graduating with a B.A. from Harvard, she received a Masters Degree in Communications from Boston University.  Michaela, (or “Cada” to rhyme with Michaela), was a professional researcher.  My oldest, rarest articles on the Vix Krater are those she discovered at the Boston Public Library.   After Cada died I went back to the idea of writing a novel about the Krater.  I found that storytelling helped to sublimate my inconsolable grief.

Years before, I’d put together a sketch about the Krater, an immense bronze vessel (archaic Greek) from the 6th century BC.  This was way back in 1994 after I came upon this virtually unknown object in a backwater museum in ChâtillonsurSeine, Burgundy.  Soon after, I wrote a very simple storyline and showed it to my editor, the late Alan Williams, retired Editor in Chief at Viking press. He liked my ideas but advised me to put them aside and concentrate on finishing my first novel, The Blood Remembers, which, like Realms of Gold, is also set in Italy and France.

When I returned to the idea of writing about the Krater.  I abandoned the original sketch and found myself writing a completely different book—now Realms of Gold begins with a wedding in Venice and the opening chapters are from the point of view of Giovanni.  And Bianca has developed into a much more interesting character.

Giovanni Di Serlo, by the way, is a character, an archaeologist, in The Blood Remembers.  When he talks about the woman who went back to her husband in California, he’s talking about Rose Kirkland, the protagonist of the novel.   Why not use him as the archaeologist in The Krater (working title), I thought. Many of my readers liked him and so I decided to “keep Giovanni going.”


"Realms of Gold" by Terry Stanfill, winner of Bronze Medal, 2013 eLit Awards.

“Realms of Gold” by Terry Stanfill,
winner of Bronze Medal, 2013 eLit Awards.
A huge vessel used for the mixing of wine in ceremonial rituals was unearthed in a tomb from 600 BC, along with the remains of a woman of great importance.


Bianca has mystical visions of people from the past. Personally, I’ve had telepathic “contacts” with living people and “see” them—mostly when they’re in trouble—but they are not strangers or people from the past. Do you know a person with visions such as a “medium” or a “seer”, or do you have this ability? Please share your experience and opinion with us. 

I too don’t know anyone personally who has a gift of prophecy—although I have heard of people in Italy who have this oracular power, handed down for generations to certain women supposedly from the seeresses and sybils of antiquity.   As for myself, I do have some pretty good hunches every now and then.

For me writing is a mystical experience. I don’t work “on” a book; I work “in” a book.  It all begins with my dreams. I have hundreds of pages in my dream-journal computer files and several pre-computer notebooks with dreams written by hand.  When I write, some of the images loom large, and I use them in my storytelling.  I, as a Jungian, believe that much of what we know and remember comes from the unconscious—and the deeper one goes into the unconscious by meditation or dreams, the more visual the storytelling. The back-story images in Realms of Gold are parts of actual dreams.   Before I began my first novel I wrote poetry, and relied on those visual images. Most of Bianca’s ritual stories for the magazine were written this way.  I guess you could call them visions—yes—the visions of my mind’s eye breaking through the layer of consciousness and called the imagination.  I also believe that the story is already written in the unconscious and it has to be mined out from its depths.

Synchronicity, important in the narrative in Realms of Gold is also activated by digging deeper into the unconscious.  I have had some startling occurrences that could never be merely coincidences.


The Blood Remembers

“The Blood Remembers” was a finalist in 2002 Independent Publisher Awards and Dorothy Parker Awards of Excellence.
A jewelry designer inadvertently unravels a mystery surrounding the medieval emperor, Frederick II.


Coming from a strongly matriarchal people myself, I like the independent women in your story. Who are the special women in history you particularly admire, and why?

There are two women who come to mind immediately—not so much women that I admire, but women who made a mark on the history of England, France and Italy, women who were in my area of research for my first novel.

The first, Constance de Hauteville, the daughter of King Roger of Sicily, and the mother of the Emperor Frederick_II.  Frederick was born in December 26, 1194, died in 1250.   Constance became the wife of Henry VI, Holy Roman Emperor.  When Constance was forty years old she gave birth to a son on her way back from Henry’s German kingdom to Palermo, where her ancestors the Normans had founded a great kingdom.  Her son, who would one day become Frederick II (grandson of Frederick Barbarossa), was born in the public square of Jesi, near Ancona, in the Marche area of Italy.  An elaborate tent was set up and any matron in the town could witness the birth of her child. Since Constance was over 40, she wanted to put to rest any stories that might arise if the birth had not been publicly witnessed. She also nursed her son to prove that she was indeed his mother. The image of this town square, with its great tent, eventually propelled the storytelling in The Blood Remembers. Years ago, long before I picked up the pen, it had become a vision imbedded in my mind’s eye.

The second historical character is Eleanor of Aquitaine; mother of King Richard the Lion Heart, and King John (of Magna Carta notoriety) was Queen to both Louis VII of France and to the Plantagenet Henry II of England.  She lived a long life, and had enormous influence on the politics of Aquitaine, England and France.  Eleanor was a patron of the arts.  She brought with her the refinements of her beloved Aquitaine, poetry, troubadours, courtly love.  Her daughter Marie, by King Louis of France was the patron of Chrétien de Troyes, and it is conceivable that Queen Eleanor was also Chretien’s patron, as well.  Chrétien and his romance Le Conte du Graal (The Story of the Grail) is also an important part of the story telling in Realms of Gold...

One of the contemporary women I admire is the late Dorothy Buffum Chandler, who raised enough funds to build the three theaters of our Music Center, and who wisely engaged the very young Zubin Mehta to become the first conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic in its new setting, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.  Buff Chandler was a very strong woman and it was hard to say no to her when she was so convincing about her mission. She raised millions of dollars for this great city which was bereft of a performing arts cultural center.

Another woman for whom I have a lot of admiration is the controversial writer, Camille Paglia, who is very strong in her opinions.  I was impressed by her book, Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson (1990), her best-selling book of literary criticism.  I admire Paglia for defending the canon of the western literature when so many colleges and universities want to abandon the classics and great writers throughout history.


Bianca Caldwell is quite a personality. How real are your characters?

My daughter was never far from my mind as I wrote.   Even though Michaela is not Bianca, she had some of her characteristics. She too had a strong personality, definite opinions, and wasn’t the least bit shy about giving them. I know that she would have liked Bianca and she would have smiled at some of her descriptions, attitudes, little eccentricities—just as I’m smiling now as I write this for you.  My characters are sometimes, but not always, composites. My mind is always at work combining the fruits of my imagination with people I know, or have known in reality.


Burgundy, the Village of Vix

Terry Stanfill: “I’d put together a sketch about the Krater, an immense bronze vessel (archaic Greek) from the 6th century BC. This was way back in 1994 after I came upon this virtually unknown object in a backwater museum in Châtillon-sur-Seine, Burgundy.”


Would you share the joy, the challenges, or your special experiences in regards to developing Realms of Gold and what has happened afterwards?

After The Blood Remembers was published I felt an enormous vacuum in my life, in my daily routine. After years of studying the Normans in South Italy I was suddenly without the dedication and the pleasure I derived from historical research. Because the Vix Krater had made such an impression on me on that day in 1994, I thought I might return to the idea of writing a novel about it. Before long I was reading everything I could find about the archaic period in Magna Graecia, the art, philosophy, about the early Hallstatt Celts, the many Celtic tribes in France.   When finally I sat down to write in 2006, the historical detail was in my head, and the narrative flowed—especially on Bianca’s ritual pages. This was exhilarating!

The joys have come from the excellent reviews of Realms of Gold, and by the recent ward of a bronze medal (third place) in the romance category from the E-Lit Awards.   The Blood Remembers, in hard cover, was first runner up in the general fiction category—Independent Publishers Awards back in 2001, it was also short-listed for the Dorothy Parker Award.


At Vix in Burgundy in 1953, Archaeologist René Joffroy unearthed a huge krater, a vessel used for the mixing of wine in ceremonial rituals, in a tomb from 600 BC, along with the remains of a woman of great importance. With the height of 1.63 m, the Vix Krater is the largest known metal vessel from antiquity.

At Vix in Burgundy in 1953, Archaeologist René Joffroy unearthed a huge krater. With the height of 1.63 m, the Vix Krater is the largest known metal vessel from antiquity.


How did your love for history develop?

I can’t remember when I didn’t love history—especially ancient history—Greek and Roman in particular. I couldn’t have been more than six or seven years old when my Auntie Luisa returned from Italy with postcards of Pompeii and Herculaneum—how fascinated and terrified I was to hear the story of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.  I read The Last Days of Pompeii by Edward Bulwer-Lytton when I was in my teens—and one of my favorite novels of the past decade is Pompeii by Robert Harris.  When I was a little older I also became interested in mythology, a subject which interests me still.  I also enjoyed The King Must Die by Mary Renault, a retelling of the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur, as if it were reality—the works of Robert Graves, among them, The White Goddess, have been helpful.  And of course, Jessie L. Weston’s From Ritual to Romance which I’d attempted to read when studying T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland as a freshman in college.   I was far too young to understand why Eliot paid homage to her ideas.

Later on, at university, I studied Medieval history.  Years later, the history of the Norman conquest of in South Italy was the subject of my research at the Huntington Library where I was a Reader.

Sometimes I scold myself for not being more knowledgeable about American history.  I feel somewhat redeemed after reading David McCullough’s John Adams, then 1776, and more recently, The Greater Journey, his book about great Americans, writers, artists, and scientists in Paris in the 19th century.


Terry Stanfill, US author of ancient-history fiction

Terry Stanfil: “I can’t remember when I didn’t love history—especially ancient history—Greek and Roman in particular. I couldn’t have been more than six or seven years old when my Auntie Luisa returned from Italy with postcards of Pompeii and Herculaneum—how fascinated and terrified I was to hear the story of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.”


On your work and writing. Who would you say have been the most influential authors or historians in your life? What is it that really strikes you about their work?

Ernst Kantorowicz, who, before he became a professor at Princeton, published (in 1927) the first complete monograph in English on Frederick II, King of Sicily and Holy Roman Emperor. He clears Frederick of all contradictions and portrays him as a genius, a precursor of the Renaissance, who was advanced in law, science, art, architecture, philosophy. He spoke many languages including Arabic and Hebrew.

I bought this biography in Blackwell’s in Oxford, where Dennis (my husband) was a student.  Years later I could find no other book on Frederick II in the English language.  And it was this book, and my fascination with Frederick II, that became a seminal influence, and my novel, The Blood Remembers was the ultimate result.  Kantorowicz portrays Frederick as “the genius and master of all times and eras before and after him.”

Certainly John Julius Norwich was a great influence with his two books on the Normans in South Italy and Sicily—The Greater Conquest and The Kingdom in the Sun, his volumes on Venice and Byzantium.  Although Norwich claims not to be an academic, he writes with historical accuracy and clarity, in his own inimitable voice, making his books a joy for the layman to read.

Chrétien de Troyes was an important influence.  Chrétien, as I mentioned earlier, was a court poet to Marie of Champagne, and Eleanor of Aquitaine.  It was Chrétien who first mentioned Camelot, describing it as a place on a hill, by a river, surrounded by forests, with plains beyond.  I make good use of his description in Realms of Gold!  Chrétien was also the first to write about King Arthur and his court.  

Jesse L Weston’s provocative words from her landmark book From Ritual to Romance, referred to Chrétien de Troyes and especially his romance, The Story of the Grail.

“It is most probable that the man who first told the story, and boldly, as befitted a born teller of tales, wedded it to the Arthurian legend, was himself connected by descent with the Ancient Faith, actually held the Secret of the Grail, and told in purposely romantic form, that of which he knew.”

The subtitle of Realms of Gold: Ritual to Romance is my tribute to Jesse Weston.


Jess Weston2

Terry Stanfill: “The subtitle of Realms of Gold: Ritual to Romance
is my tribute to Jesse Weston.”


Thanks, Ia for your provocative questions.  Thanks for reading through this.  I hope I haven’t gone on too long!

It’s a great honour to have you with us Terry. Thank you so much for your precious time!

And readers, I hope you have enjoyed meeting Terry Stanfill. Following is my review of her intriguing book, “Realms of Gold.”


Route of the krater.

Route of the krater. Archeologist Giovanni and New York art-writer Bianca follow the journey of the ancient queen Zatoria from Sybaris to Vix in France to help them connect Bianca’s visions with Giovanni’s scientific findings of the origin of the Vix Krater.


A Memorable Journey to an Ancient World
“Realms Of Gold”, reviewed by Ia Uaro

Author: Terry Stanfill
ISBN: 978-0615 657 547

There are several layers of stories inside this story and intelligent readers with interest in historical mysteries and the intricacies of ancient arts would be intrigued by how the plot unfolds.

At Vix in Burgundy in 1953, Archaeologist René Joffroy unearthed a huge krater, a vessel used for the mixing of wine in ceremonial rituals, in a tomb from 600 BC, along with the remains of a woman of great importance.

In July 2007 archaeologist Giovanni Di Serlo attends a cousin’s wedding in Venice and meets Bianca Caldwell, an American art writer who depends on her visions for guidance as she writes about ancient objects and their use in ritual.
Bianca is obsessed with the mystery of her great grandmother Nina Evans, especially being in Venice, because this never-married Nina had returned from a 1902 Venice holiday pregnant.
Giovanni doesn’t think much of Bianca’s looks and her abysmal fashion sense, however he is kind to her and tells her about his latest archaeological work.

On the plane home to New York, Bianca receives inspiration that connects the Vix Krater with medieval poet Chrétien Troyes and King Arthur’s Grail. On her arrival home, her flat has been broken into and vandalized by the Mafia group Sacred Crown United, but nothing is lost.
Bianca continues to receive visions about strongly matriarchal peoples, and in her mind eye she sees the life events of the Lady of Vix, Zatoria, from her childhood with her storyteller mother and her travels with her spiritual-teacher father, Zalmoxis. Bianca also sees visions of Nina, and what had happened to her in Italy in 1902.

Giovanni invites Bianca to visit his dig of the lost city Sybaris, and Bianca connects her visions of Zatoria with his scientific findings of the origin of the Vix Krater. To understand more about their findings, these two set off to follow Zatoria’s journey from Sybaris to Vix in France.

The author’s fantastic imagination combined with her thorough knowledge of the artifacts lead us to the ancient world as we follow Zatoria’s journey from Olbia to Sybaris, to Vix. Terry Stanfill shows us these places and how their peoples had lived, what they had used and what mattered to them. And at the same time the real-life plot gets thicker as tomb-looters and underground art smugglers emerge, and romance blossoms.

This book isn’t for everybody but may hook avid mystery readers, who will lose themselves in learning intriguing new knowledge. A wonderful experience.


sydney's song s logo

My Review of “DEAR CAPTAIN, ET AL”

"Dear Captain, et al" by Allan Wilford Howerton. An authentic day-to-day account of infantry combat during WWII

“Dear Captain, et al” by Allan Wilford Howerton. An authentic day-to-day account of infantry combat during WWII


A beautiful book about friendships and a study of human behaviour under fire.

Book Title: DEAR CAPTAIN, ET AL: The Agonies and the Ecstasies of War and Memory, a Memoir from World War II
Author: Allan Wilford Howerton

This book was written by one of my very best friends, but I’ll try to be objective here.

“Dear Captain, et al” is a witty, cracking good novel from a modest author who uses amazing factual details such as war records, friends’ notes, and his personal notes and memory that have been diligently and scrupulously researched for accuracy 50 years later. I’d bought “Dear Captain, et al” over a year ago, but only had the chance to read it in May 2013. I wish I’d read it much earlier.

Young Allan Howerton hoped to avoid the conscription for WW II. In 1943 he was studying at Drexel University under the Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP), which aimed to produce civil engineers and pencil pushers ostensibly to occupy and rebuild Europe after the war was won. On weekends Allan visited his first love sweet Mary in a nearby town, planning that when he would become a lieutenant upon his graduation, to marry her and to whisk her away to live in Europe where he would be commissioned to carry out civil work. Alas, his dreams were dashed when the Army aborted the ASTP in 1944. The compulsory military recruitment age had been lowered, and the deeply disappointed, mad-as-hell ASTP boys were sent to the Army’s training barracks in Claiborne, where none of them wanted to be. Here, brute and merciless officers shaped the unfortunate bunch to become combat soldiers. Several months later, as Company K, they were packed into a train to a destination they knew not, ended up being shipped to the war fronts at the border of Belgium and Germany, clawing in the mud, hiding in miserable foxholes, fighting in the extreme cold, shooting and being shot, most of the time not knowing what was happening or where they would be next, and always, they ended up in a war zone with worse miseries than the previous.

In Company K, circumstances bonded the men together as a troop, and friendships developed between individuals. In the beginning Allan was very interested in the officers’ antics, and later on his focus shifted to friends and their group effort to survive. A very keen observer, he scrutinized various personalities and noted their views and their habits. Allan, who was the loudest snorer, complained when one night his close friend Ceroni kept talking aloud preventing sleep; only to be heartbroken when it turned out to be this friend’s final night alive. Even after 50 years his agony is palpable in his narration. His friends and leaders were important to Allan, yet one by one they became war casualties. His was a gentle soul that hurt inside, even while jokingly referring to the soldiers’ injuries, followed by evacuation to hospitals which freed them from front-lines’ horrors, as their million-dollar wounds.

Since this is a war memoir ~ otherwise known as a series of unfortunate events ~ perhaps it was bad form of me to chuckle from time to time. Yet Allan has a fine sense of humor. Even during the war he rarely failed to notice the funny bits or the bright side of people, places or circumstances, even while grumbling, worrying, commiserating, sympathizing, or shaking in fear. I found myself glued to the pages in interest, engrossed in following detailed day-to-day conditions of the endless war, the actions, Company K’s hard-luck movement, and what actually befell Allan’s comrades. Many brilliant young lives met sickness or untimely end in horrendous ways. Many courageous souls developed amazing personalities, toughness, and various skills to support and to lead their own proficiently. Allan was later promoted to be Company K’s communication sergeant, working close to its commanders in exciting actions, and eventually assisted the last one with his considerable staff knowledge from people-watching.

This is a beautiful book about friendships, a behavioral study of how humans react and cope under fire, and firsthand’s account of how a group of cynical college boys journeyed to become a crack military team.

Allan Howerton is almost 90, one of my favorite people, and is the most remarkable and inspiring oldie I know. I’ve been telling whining young authors to pull their acts together, to stop complaining about having to learn new things, and to copy savvy Allan who is undeterred by changes, adapts accordingly, and never loses his infectious smile. I wish so much that no-one had had to experience or see what Company K had been through, but Dear Captain, et al shows me many elements that had helped to shape my beautiful friend’s ever-advancing mind, his dynamic strides in keeping up with changes, his smiles and his caring attitude towards others. The beginning is always the hardest, but tough times don’t last. You are what you have overcome. Be grateful and kind, everyone you meet may be fighting a psychological battle. Definitely, we, whining younger generations, can learn a thing or two.


sydney's song s logo


After the war Allan attended the University of Denver earning a B.A. degree in international relations and a M.A. in education plus graduate study in economics. He had a long career as a federal civil servant with the U.S. Civil Service Commission. Later, Allan became a general manager of a cable television channel. He lives with his wife Joan, a Registered Nurse, in Alexandria, Virginia.

Books by Allan:

– “DEAR CAPTAIN, ET AL.: the Agonies and the Ecstasies of War and Memory, a Memoir from World War II” — an authentic day-to-day account of infantry combat written from original source records over a period of several years. Many readers have called it one of the best books of its type to come out of World War II or any war.

– “WAR’S WAKE”—a novel, is a love story set on a university campus (much like the University of Denver) crowded with ex-GIs studying under the GI Bill of Rights in the aftermath of World War II. Against the background of the Communist scare and the ever-darkening shadows of the Cold War, WAR’S WAKE is an enticingly seductive romance about a time which is gone forever. Whimsical, brainy, and fun to read, WAR’S WAKE is also a serious novel about war and its repercussions, time and its mystery, love and its consequences, memory and its caprices, writing and its perils, and death and its regenerations. And there is also a bit about the Communist scare and the Cold War, the debut of the national security state, the manners and mores of the Truman era, as well as reflections about the formative years of the “Greatest Generation” myth.

– “BAPTISTS, BIBLES, AND BOURBON IN THE BARN: the Stories, the Characters, and the Haunting Places of a West (O’MG) Kentucky Childhood.” —a soon-to-be-published book together constitute a trilogy of my life experience through and beyond World War II.

Allan Howerton, one of my favorite people, the most remarkable and inspiring oldie I know.

Allan Howerton, one of my favorite people, the most remarkable and inspiring oldie I know.


Watch out for my interview with Allan around the publication of BAPTISTS, BIBLES, AND BOURBON IN THE BARN.

Meet G.R. Holton, US Award-Winning Science Fiction Author

read-tellG.R. Holton, US award-winning science fiction author of YA novels, is visiting us today. Bob’s novella “Soleri” won the 2010 Best Science Fiction from, while his horror novel “Deep Screams” won in 2011, the year Bob also won’s “50 Best Writers You Should be Reading”. Bob also writes children’s picture book and screenplays.

Born in a little town in Massachusetts G. R. Holton served 4 ½ years as an Army Military Police officer until he had a severe breakdown caused by Bipolar. After a couple of failed marriages he found his angel who led him to Christ and changed his life. He appreciates those around him and loves life. We will chat with Bob about his soon-to-be-released novel “The Mob” and his writing life.


"I have three words that are printed out and taped above my monitor. They are Faith, Focus, and Patience. As a writer you need to have faith in your writing, maintain a focus on what you are trying to accomplish, and above all the patience to work the story through."

“I have three words that are printed out and taped above my monitor. They are Faith, Focus, and Patience. As a writer you need to have faith in your writing, maintain a focus on what you are trying to accomplish, and above all the patience to work the story through.”


Hello Bob, a warm welcome, a very happy wish on your birthday, and congratulations on your soon-to-be released novel THE MOB. Let’s chat about this one first. What is it about?

The Mob is a 1930s mobster story, a tale of a woman’s revenge for the death of her father. It is a new novel and screenplay due out on June 1st, 2013.

Would you like to give readers a one-sentence synopsis?

A ten year old girl swears vengeance for her father’s murder by a young mobster.

Where will it be available?

The book will be available on my website, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Books a Million, and most eBook sites.

What compelled you to write this one?

It is a collaboration work with Producer Marlene Mendoza. She had the idea of a woman wanting to become a singer and then marries into the mob. I thought it would be great to have it start out as a little girl losing her father to a gangster and then having her living for nothing but revenge.

What sets this one apart from the rest of your books? Is this a repeat or are there new excitements? 

This is an altogether out of the box for me. My other works are science fiction and fantasy. I loved the thought of the 1930s and gangsters. I grew up around an old Italian neighborhood where the mafia was known to be.

Tell us about the characters. Which actors would you choose to play these characters in a movie rendition? 

Well there is of course Antonio Capresi, the husband of Maria. I would love to see someone like Leonardo DiCaprio. Maria the vengeful wife… Hmmm…  Jessica Biel comes to mind first.

Why is this a must read?

Not only is this a story of a woman losing her father, but it is about the depths she would go to make his killer pay and include anyone that gets in her way.

When is the planned release?

Tell us your latest news. The book is now in final edit and is slated for release by World Castle Publishing around mid-June.

Coming soon

Coming soon

Sample paragraph, please?

Once they landed in Cozumel, Antonio took her straight to the room. Maria unpacked the suitcases while Antonio stood out on the balcony smoking a cigar and drinking a glass of Scotch from their in-room bar. She then went out on the balcony and joined her husband.

“Antonio, do me a favor and pour me a glass of champagne?”

“Sure doll, but do you want to drink before we go to supper?”

“Yeah…we are celebrating, aren’t we?”

“You got me there. One sec and I will get it.” Antonio said as he turned and faced her. He looked deeply into her eyes, took her face in his hands, and kissed her passionately. Maria returned the kiss as she had many times before.

Antonio opened a bottle of champagne and poured them both a glass. Returning to Maria on the balcony, he handed one of the drinks to her. “Maria, a toast. To us—may we have many beautiful years together, and love as long as time itself.”

“Cheers,” Maria said, placing the glass to her lips.

“Okay, enough with the drinks. I hope you are hungry, because I made reservations at the most renowned five star restaurant in the area.”

“I am ready to eat. Can I go freshen up my makeup?”

“Sure dollface, you have plenty of time. Go do your thing and then we will go.”

Maria went to the bathroom and stared into the mirror. She knew what this was all leading up to, and it almost made her want to vomit, but she was locked in. There was no turning back now. She had to play it through no matter what it took. She fixed her makeup, and then the two of them went downstairs to the front of the hotel. There they took a horse drawn surrey around town before stopping at a beautiful restaurant called Sammy’s Place.

After they had dinner they went dancing, and Maria had a few drinks. In fact, she had planned to get a little tipsy, because she knew she could never handle what was to come if she was sober.



White Magic, Black Magic, Ogres, Trolls, Dragon’s, and Fantasy galoreWould you like to tell us about Dragon’s Bow too?
Two sisters both seek the power of a fabled bow to change their lives, but for different reasons.

How real are your characters?

I like to consider my characters as real people in my head. They are often made after people I know and not just by name. I add their character also.

How long did it take you to write Dragon’s Bow?

My mentor has a name for me… “the machine”. I can sit and write 5,000 to 8,000 at a time if the day is good. But usually I average about 3,000 a day. This book took me just under two months to write.

How did you come up with the title?

Actually like most of my work it came to me in a dream. I was walking in a cave and found the bow and as soon as I picked it up it began to glow and the dragon that protected it came around corner. I woke up at that point and came out and started to write.

What is your favorite paragraph in Dragon’s Bow?

It is the poem that my wife and I came up with to locate the bow: Above the altar the wall shall be the secret of the wall to see. The holder of the heart must own, and be placed upon the wizard’s stone.

When did you first know you just had to write?

Writing was never a thought for me until I met my mentor Derek Milton, a movie director/screenwriter. He let me read his work and I knew at that point I had to try. It became the best therapy I could ever do.

Who would you say have been the most influential authors in your life? What is it that really strikes you about their work?

Ray Bradbury is one of the biggest. There is something about his style that just forces me to read further. When I read Fahrenheit 451 I couldn’t believe the way he put me in that story.
What story would you like to share about the joy, challenge, or hardship of writing?

Well I am a disabled veteran. I said earlier that writing was therapy. I suffer from severe Bipolar disorder and can’t work around people. But with writing I can escape the real world and immerse myself into the worlds I am creating.

Who gives you the most encouragement? Why is that important to you?

I get my biggest encouragement from my Mom who lives with me and my wife. She is always asking me about my stories and telling me that I need to write when I am depressed or my manic side is getting the best of me.

How do you see writing Bob? And why?  

Writing is now my career. I love sitting and creating new worlds or new characters. It is either that or I go back to playing Farmville… I don’t think so…

How much do you have in common with your protag? 

I am nothing like my protags. They are usually very heroic, outgoing, and straight forward types. I am happy in my little house and to have my back to the wall whenever we go out to eat.

What are your hobbies?

I do a little bit of Fishing but other than that I play angry birds usually as a way to escape writer’s block. But that is going to change. I just found out I have congestive heart failure and need to make my hobby exercising.
When do you find the time to write?

Being disabled I am lucky I guess that I can write anytime that the people in my head want to talk. I usually do most of my writing in the late afternoon and evening. I am not a morning person.

Tell us a bit about who and what matters to you.

I am a fifty-year-old happily married man with three absolutely fantastic children, two cool step-children, and three of the most beautiful little granddaughters you could find. My granddaughters mean the world to me; though they are far away they are always in my heart.

How has your published work influenced others and their attitude towards you?

My family can’t believe that I have become a writer. They support me and always want to be characters in my work. People treat me so nice when they hear that I am a published author and that I have won awards for it.

What one thing is important for your audience to know about you? Why?

I am an award-winning author and I am very proud of that. I won the 2010 Books and’s Best Science Fiction for my book “Soleri” and again in 2011 for “Deep Screams”. I was also named as one of the “2011 Best Authors you Should be Reading” by The Author’s I do the best I can at writing good stories people will like.

Any tips for us on reading and writing?

Yes… I have three words that are printed out and taped above my monitor. They are Faith, Focus, and Patience. As a writer you need to have faith in your writing, maintain a focus on what you are trying to accomplish, and above all the patience to work the story through.

Thank you so much for your time Bob, and I hope you will win many more awards. Best wishes for all of your books!

Readers, I hope you have enjoyed meeting R.G. Holton. Come check out his website and follow his updates on

Click on the book covers in this interview for the books’ Amazon links.




Soleri: Three teens are teleported to another galaxy to help the aliens turn on a defense shield.



Deep Screams 100



Deep Screams: Horror and Death abound as a Space Station searches for a new Earth.



GuardiansAlliance 100



Guardian’s Alliance: A Science Fiction Space Opera where nine elite fighters brought together to protect the Heledrium Galaxy.



Click cover for Amazon US



SQUAZLES!: Teach your child with this picture book how not to judge others by appearance alone.




And here are my mini reviews of Soleri and Dargon’s Bow:


 SOLERI, reviewed by Ia Uaro 

Title: Soleri
Author: G.R. Holton
ISBN: 978-1938243707
Wesley, the son of an electronic engineer, builds a robot. When he uses Dad’s new transducer chip, he, together with his sister Macy, her best friend Ashley, and their dog Poston are accidentally teleported to an alien planet.  This planet called Soleri, and the Solerians are slaves of their cruel neighbours the Tojinians, who force them to grow food.  The Solerian leader informs the teen about an imminent attack from the Tojinians and he needs to activate his defense shield. However the shield controller, which will also needed to help the teens return to earth, is deep within the catacombs of Soleri and is under the control of the Tojinian guards.
Einstein once said that if you can’t explain it simply, then you don’t understand it enough. G.R. Holton clearly shows a fantastic imagination in creating a brand-new planet and its inhabitants, and he knows how to explain it simply with just the right amount of fascinating details as the story flows.
Soleri is a steampunk science fiction peopled with likeable characters and filled with lively dialogues and suspenseful obstacles. Highly entertaining and moving, this is a book for readers of all ages.


DRAGON’S BOW, reviewed by Ia Uaro
Title: Dragon’s Bow
Author: G.R. Holton
ISBN: 978-1938243691
Inventive author G.R. Holton creates horrible creatures and beautiful humans in the island Kratonin and its surrounding fantasyland, and weaves fun interaction among them as he rolls out an exciting plot of white magic clashing with dark magic.
Evil Malahan plots to deceive the white-witch Queen of Kratonin in order to obtain a powerful offspring from her, and twin sisters Adria and Audra are born as the results of this mix black magic and white magic. Audra is determined to follow their father’s evil ways and conquer the world, while her twin is determined to cleanse her sister’s dark soul.
Trust Holton’s ability to give young readers an entertaining fun-pack action adventure and to throw in moral values without shoving it down their throats. The twins’ training and dangerous challenges are detailed with excellent imagination, as always, and thoroughly thought-out.



sydney's song s logo

Meet Liliana Soare, Australian Author of Romantic Action Comedy Novel


Liliana Soare, Australian author of romantic action comedy novel Listen to the Heartbeat, is with us today. She has two children and a 10yo mongrel dog by the name of Dodi. Her (almost) 17yo daughter goes to TAFE and works part-time, her 22yo son is doing his doctorate in quantum computers. Liliana has two other novels awaiting publications later this year, and another one in early 2014. Let’s visit Liliana’s debut novel.


Liliana blog

I believe that the purpose of writing has something infinite about it. Once the writing bug bit us, we authors fight our entire life to bridge the gap between our vision and its ultimate expression. A perpetual, painful challenge that clings to every word we write, yet the most rewarding experience.


Hello Liliana, so glad to have you coming in. Would you be so kind to give readers a one-sentence synopsis of Listen to the Heartbeat ?

When two powerful business tycoons clash over an orphan’s love, one’s interests will endanger her life while the other’s will keep her alive. Which one will achieve what he wants?


Why is this a must read? How is this different from others of the same genre?

The action of the novel takes place in the ultra-rich world. A world that is fascinating to most of us, untouchable. The book brims with action, humor and snappy dialogues. It is a tale of love and betrayal that takes the readers through a provocative mix of events, and is aimed at women aged between 18 – 40 years. The characters display very strong personalities and constantly challenge each other throughout the novel. The evolution of their relationship will be very appealing to the readers.


Interesting. What compelled you to write this book, Liliana?

Just impulse. When I start writing a book, it’s just ‘on-the-spot-inspiration’. I only know how it begins. Whatever comes next, it’s just a blank page in my mind. It fills up as I go along. Sometimes it works, sometimes I stall for a very long time.


How real are your characters?

Well, not much. I must say I picked some very romantic, ideal characters that would make women dream. Both my heroes and my heroine are gorgeous, ultra-rich young people, but they do go through emotional turmoil, heartache, life blows, just like everybody else. So it’s easy for the reader to step in the characters’ shoes and get engrossed in the story.
How long did you develop the book to its final state?

It took me 16 days to write the book and probably ten times as much to finalise it. The work with the editors was painstaking, but very rewarding I must say. I have learnt a lot from it, a priceless lesson that I will use for all novels to come.
How did you come up with the title?

The title came up naturally from something that happens in the novel. I am very pleased that it fits so well, and it is so relevant to the book.
What’s your favourite paragraph of the book?

Dear God, that’s a good question. I doubt I could pick one, really. ‘Listen To The Heartbeat’ is my baby, I love it from the beginning to the end. If I were to start looking for a particular paragraph, I’d be at it for hours, and I’d still be undecided in the end. Why don’t you, dear readers, choose one for me instead? J
I’m sure they’ll have many favourite paragrahs, Liliana 🙂



When two powerful business tycoons clash over an orphan’s love, one’s interests will endanger her life while the other’s will keep her alive. Which one will achieve what he wants?


 Now, when did you first know you just had to write?

I find that most authors believe they had the gift of writing from the moment they were born. They nurtured it throughout their lives, started by writing essays, short stories, participated in all sort of literary activities, you name it. I didn’t have a clue that I could write novels. Then one day, some three years back, I sat down in front of my computer and started doing some bullet train typing, all because an idea had crossed my mind. It sounded fun. Obvious enough, my writing ability must have been born sometime along the way. Couldn’t tell when, because I know no reliable study to have researched the period of gestation of personal skills. One thing is certain, my aptitude had mellowed by the time I started writing my first novel. When I finished it, I thought it was a masterpiece. And a masterpiece it was, being the ripe fruit of my heart and soul. I still love it to pieces, even though it now sits on a shelf, full of dust that makes me sneeze and hazes my eyes with tears every time I look at it.
Who would you say have been the most influential authors in your life? What is it that really strikes you about their work?

It would definitely be Margaret Mitchell. I read ‘Gone with the wind’ so many times, I lost count. The first word that comes to my mind when I think about her writing is ‘perfection’. There is a purity and a simplicity in the flow of her words that I believe no other author was ever able to attain. Simply magnificent.


Any specific reason for writing romantic action comedy?

I think it naturally suits me. I can’t see myself writing something different. Not that I have ever tried…
What story would you like to share about the joy, challenge, or hardship of writing?

I believe that the purpose of writing has something infinite about it. Once the writing bug bit us, we authors fight our entire life to bridge the gap between our vision and its ultimate expression. A perpetual, painful challenge that clings to every word we write, yet the most rewarding experience.
Who gives you the most encouragement? Why is that important to you?

My children represent my greatest encouragement. Knowing that I can make them proud is the most wonderful feeling in the world.


What are you working on right now? Tell us your latest news.

I have just started a new novel, but since it is in its very early stages, I will stay tight-lipped. A little patience, I’m a fast writer. 🙂
Liliana, how much do you have in common with your protag? 

Well, I am probably just as stubborn and loud-mouthed. But that’s about it.
What are your hobbies?

Now you are going to find my little secret. I’m absolutely crazy about fishing. I have six fishing rods and a mad fishing tackle kit. I could go fishing and be gone missing for days, that’s how much I am in love with it.


Who are you when you’re not writing?  What is your other profession?

Staying at home and writing for the time being. I plan to start a business in the near future.


Who or what matters to you, Liliana?

First and foremost, my children. My relatives. My friends.


What one thing is important for your audience to know about you? Why?

I always strive to be original in everything I do, and that is reflected, I believe, in my writing as well. When I have first submitted ‘Listen to the heartbeat’ to my publisher, I have received an email in return from the head editor. This is what she had to say, I have to boast a little 🙂 , ‘You have an open invitation to send complete manuscripts to me any time you have something completed.  If your complete work is a fraction as entertaining as your cover letters, your books are sure to be huge hits.  Your emails make me smile and have cheered me up—they are indeed their own little works of art.’


Share with us some unique experiences about living in Sydney.

Well, I guess that everything about Sydney is unique, so every step I take around this beautiful city is a wonderful experience. From the sandy Bondi beach to Paddington’s terrace apartments with wrought iron lace balconies and leafy streets, to the Rocks district with its boutique shops and fine art galleries, and well beyond that, Sydney always has something magnificent to offer. I always enjoy walking around, and I think there’s never enough time to discover it all.


Any tips on reading and writing?

One advice that I would give to anyone: never, ever schedule your writing. There’s no set number of hours of writing a day that can bring quality to your work. Write only as much as you feel like, be that ten minutes or ten hours. Inspiration doesn’t follow a schedule.


Thank you so much for your time Liliana. Best wishes for your work!


Readers, I hope you have enjoyed meeting Liliana Soare. Her book Listen to The Heartbeat is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Musa Publishing. Liliana can be reach at her website, and come follow her on Shelfari, her blog, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads.


sydney's song s logo



Meet Reyna Hawk, US Author of Mafia, Murder Suspense and Psychological Thriller


~If it is to be~it’s up to me~

(Reyna Hawk)

Reyna Hawk, American author of romantic suspense Valentine/Petrilo Series, the standalone paranormal Angels & Arrows, and the psychological thriller The Alter-Ego of Insanity, is with us today to chat about her novels and her writing life.  She is a 45 year old mother of one son and grandmother to one beautiful 4 year old little girl. Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio Reyna has always loved writing and story-telling. Her passion for telling stories began at a very young age when she was making up stories to tell her school friends. Reyna has an Associate of Arts in Psychology and a Bachelor of Arts in Cultural Anthropology. Other than writing Reyna also has a passion for photography and image manipulation; when she’s not writing she can be found wandering parks and cemeteries taking photographs.

Reyna Hawk, US author of mafia, murder suspense and psychological thriller.

Reyna Hawk, US author of mafia, murder suspense and psychological thriller:
“I think each person needs to be grateful for the things they have instead of unhappy and miserable for the things they don’t have. It is also about time women woke up and realized that playing “dumb” and the damsel in distress routine is not attractive.”


Hello Reyna, thank you so much for coming in. Let’s first visit your newly release: The Alter-Ego of Insanity—a psychological thriller about a mafia boss’s son that discovers he’s a necrophiliac. Would you be so kind to give readers a one-sentence synopsis of this book?

At the age of 18 Gino Poletti discovers not only is his father the Boss to one of Chicago’s biggest crime families; but also that he himself is a necrophiliac?

You have an Associate of Arts in Psychology and a Bachelor of Arts in Cultural Anthropology.  Is this book based on your interest in these fields?

Somewhat, my Associate’s degree in Psychology helped me to understand and better write about those that are mentally ill. The Bachelor in Cultural Anthropology helped me to study those with the fascination for the dead and just how ordinary they see themselves; many seeing nothing wrong with their lifestyle.

How real are your characters?

I think they are very real characters. They are the type of people that you would find living next door to you; then when the secret comes out about whom they really are everyone in the neighborhood is shocked to learn that these types of people would be living such normal lives.

What compelled you to write this book?

Well my niece and I had discussed a book with this basic platform; it did not originally start off this way. I can honestly say this is one of those books with characters that literally took over and wrote the book themselves. I wanted something different and dark from what I had normally written; and I sure got it.

How long did it take you to write The Alter-Ego of Insanity?
Surprisingly very short; if I add up the time of writing, editing, and proofreading then maybe a week.

How did you come up with the title?
I actually had help with that. I couldn’t decide and was discussing it with my cousin. I wanted something that spoke about Gino’s mental state and his desire to live a normal life. After turning over many titles my cousin suggested it and I thought it was perfect.

What is your favorite line in this book?

“Well ole Dave here is about to become part of the concrete slab in the new bakery.” Angelo laughed.

At the age of 18 Gino Poletti discovers not only is his father the Boss to one of Chicago's biggest crime families; but also that he himself is a necrophiliac?

The Alter-Ego of Insanity, a psychological thriller
by US author Reyna Hawk.
At the age of 18 Gino Poletti discovers not only is his father the Boss to one of Chicago’s biggest crime families; but also that he himself is a necrophiliac.


Reyna, how do you see writing?

I don’t see it as a job. I see it as my career but also my escape from reality.

When did you first know you just had to write?

When I was about 25 I had the overwhelming urge and desire to put the stories in my head onto paper and share them with the world.

Who would you say have been the most influential authors in your life? What is it that really strikes you about their work?

I would have to say there are several: Stephen King, Patricia Cornwell, VC Andrews, Mary Higgins Clark, and Charlaine Harris. Each one of them have a uniqueness about their writing that makes their stories not only believable, but pulls you into the scenes leaving you to feel to like you’ve lived the life of the character.

Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio Reyna has always loved writing and storytelling. From a very young age she was making up stories to tell her friends.” What story would you like to share about the joy, challenge, or hardship of writing?

The biggest joy is to have someone compliment your writing and tell you how reading the book really touched them in some way. I find it fascinating how each person will have a bit of a different perspective on the characters.

Tell us about The Valentine/Petrilo trilogy. Would you be so kind to give readers a one-sentence synopsis of each title?

The Valentine/ Petrilo trilogy: Twists and turns of Janie Valentine’s life when she becomes entangled in the Petrilo Crime Family’s webs.

The Valentine/ Petrilo trilogy: Twists and turns of Janie Valentine’s life
when she becomes entangled in the Petrilo Crime Family’s webs.

Looking Through Blind Eyes: Janie Valentine has to cope with the reality of learning that the love of her life is not who she once thought he was and the untimely suspicious death of her brother.

Reflection of Secrets: The world Janie has come to live and love turns out to be nothing of what she had dreamed it to be.

Shattered Visions Haunted Memories: Janie’s reality turns to suspicion and vindictiveness as the past comes knocking on her door.

Revealing Visions: This is where it all began for Janie, Daniel, Rico and Malachi are brought into perspective.

Seeing Karma: Twenty years has passed since Janie’s fateful fall off the cliff in NC, yet here that day is coming back to haunt not only her but also her and Rico’s daughter Sophia.


How  about Angels and Arrows, Reyna?

“Angels and Arrows”, a novel by Reyna Hawk and L.K. Russ,  based on true paranormal events that happened either to the authors or a close family member.

“Angels and Arrows” (Co-written by L.K. Russ) was released in October of 2012 and is based on true paranormal events that happened either to the authors or a close family member. 

Would you like to  elaborate on the true paranormal part?

Many of the events that occurred in the book occurred to me or someone close to me. I am currently in the process of completely revising the book and I think many people will want to read the new edition even if they’ve read the first one. I have included many events that happened during and after the first initial writing. I also have changed the point of view from third person to first person.

How do you find the experience of co-authoring and how did you manage this?

It was a bit tricky but a lot of fun to include one of the main witnesses to the events in on the writing.

Who gives you the most encouragement? Why is that important to you?

That would be two people, my cousin and best friend Lisa and my niece and also best friend Jen. It’s important because I feel that at the end of the day when I am doubting myself, there is someone in my corner to show me why I chose to publish my work and to knock sense back into me.

What are you working on right now? Tell us your latest news.

Well right now I have two things in the works. I am revising Angels and Arrows and I am writing another “paranormal” stand alone titled Between the Pages. I will release more information on it as I get further along; right now it is the beginning stages and I don’t like to give too much detail about it.

reynas website

How much do you have in common with your protag?

Anyone who knows me would say a great deal! LOL

That means you’re a fabulous friend and mother 🙂 What are your hobbies besides writing?

Reading, photography, and spending time with my family and friends.

What is your other profession? When do you find the time to write?

Here lately I have been tutoring but I would consider writing my profession. I write at any opportunity that I can or when an idea comes to me; albeit that may be at 3am.

You are a grandmother to one beautiful 4-year-old little girl. Would you like to share your most memorable experience/moment with this little one?

This little one cracks me up every day with her words and actions. I’ll never forget the day she came home from preschool and announced “I’m going to marry Preston when I grow up. Of course, after I go to college and get a career.” Smart girl!!

Tell us a bit about what matters to you.

Wow, there is so much! I believe wholeheartedly in the Golden Rule. To me if everyone practiced that there would be less drama, prejudice, racism, discrimination, and hatred in this world. I think each person needs to be grateful for the things they have instead of unhappy and miserable for the things they don’t have. It is also about time women woke up and realized that playing “dumb” and the damsel in distress routine is not attractive.

How has your published work influenced others and their attitude towards you?

This has been good and bad. Many people have stepped up to show moral support and then others chose to walk away. I’m not sure why, but they have. However, instead of dwelling on it I chose to take the high road and understand they are the ones missing out, not me. Many have come forward and said that inspired them to begin writing again; which always brings a smile on my face. All I want is for my writing to matter and to make a difference to someone.

What one thing is important for your readers/audience to know about you? Why?

That I am a real person with real thoughts and feelings. Who I am online is who I am in real life. I am goofy, funny, and yes sometimes a dork but I’d have it no other way. I do not want to be this uptight proper person; it’s just not me. I want them to know this so that they know it is not an act. I am who I am. I get cranky, sad, hurt, happy, and goofy just like everyone else.

Any tips for other authors in marketing?

My suggestions are to try everything at least once and go with what works best. Keep in mind even though something may not have worked once, doesn’t mean next month it won’t work miracles.

Thank you! Really appreciate your visit. Best wishes for your work!

Readers, I hope you have enjoyed meeting Reyna. Her books are available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords. Come follow her latest updates from her websiteGoogle+, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook’s page and group, Goodreads, Pinterest, Author’s Den and AuthorsDB.


 And here is my mini review of The Alter-Ego of Insanity:


 Do Not Read This Book Before Sleep!

Book Title: The Alter-Ego of Insanity

Author: Reyna Hawk


Genre: Psychological Thriller, Mafia


The novella opens with the warning that it contains graphic language and graphic violence, that some scenes contains blood and gore; and that it is intended for very mature adults only. In other words, faint-hearted me shouldn’t be reading this. But I trudged on in trepidation.
Under one of  Chicago’s bridges Gino Poletti witnesses his father shooting his colleague and the violence gives Gino euphoria. The blood smells wonderful to Gino and the dead body thrills him. It is his 18th birthday; his mafia father wants him to learn the family “business”.
Alas, his father doesn’t kill for fun, but as the last resort. So Gino satisfy his newfound fascination for tortures by watching gore videos of an online necrophiliac community. However, this proves addictive and life can only get worse…

This is a very sad story written with clinical detachment by an expert of the mentally ill. Gripping my seat in fear, I’m not the right person to review this kind of material, but the author sure knows what she is talking about. Surprising and shocking, The Alter-Ego of Insanity shows readers the way some people live. It could be that charming neighbours of yours…

If you are brave, and strong, and curious, this one is for you. Just don’t read it before you go to sleep!



sydney's song s logo


Meet Jan Ruth, Welsh Author of Contemporary Fiction


Our guest today is Jan Ruth, Welsh author of  contemporary fiction ~ love stories with strong, identifiable characters, about family life and relationships.

Jan has been writing for more than 30 years and despite various dalliances with the more traditional publishing routes, she is now pleased to be an independent author.

Jan was born in Bowden, Cheshire, and moved to North Wales in 1998, although she has always maintained a strong connection with the area from a much earlier age. Her feel for the Welsh landscape is evident in all of her books.
Jan started writing at primary school, winning prizes for poetry and short stories. Her first novel attracted a London agent, but failed to find the right niche with a publisher because it didn’t fall into a specific category- not quite light enough for romance but not literary fiction either, sitting somewhere between these two genres. Her second novel, again snapped up by a London agent; suffered the same fate. Undeterred, Jan has continued to write, believing her market is out there.

After a polish makeover, Jan has recently re-release her four romantic dramas: The Long and Short of It, Midnight Sky, White Horizon, and Wild Water.  Jan is with us today to give us  a glimpse about her work and her life as a writer.


“I like to think my books convey some serious threads with a good blend of humour, a balance of light and dark. Different, I feel from the majority in that I often write from the male perspective.” ~ Jan Ruth, Welsh author of contemporary fiction.


Hello Jan, thanks for visiting! Would you be so kind to give readers a summary and short excerpts of each of your books?

Readers, please click on the book titles for the US links, and on the book covers for the UK links.

Click on book title for the US link. Click on the cover for the UK link.

The Long and The Short Of It:  An emotive collection of stories and excerpts from the Welsh Mountains of Snowdonia.

Excerpt: Tom gave the group a furtive glance and sidled into the shrubs to relieve his bladder. He pushed through a thicket of gorse; no sooner was he in an uncompromising position when two things happened. First of all he spied Helga’s unmistakable shape through the trees, but there was something else unmistakable too. What the… what on earth? She was stood, braced, like a man taking a pee. Helga was clearly, unmistakably, a man! Tom’s mobile suddenly sprang to life, but before he could silence it, the theme tune from Live and Let Die filled the small copse with a dramatic burst of music. Helga quickly turned and met his eyes and for a nanosecond of embarrassed shock, both men stared at each other.

Click on the book title for the US link. Click on the cover for the UK link.

Midnight Sky: Opposites attract? Laura Brown, interior designer and James Morgan-Jones, horse whisperer – and Midnight Sky, a beautiful but damaged steeplechaser.

Excerpt: James placed the bottle down carefully, nestled it in a bed of gorse. He still held her eyes, then he held her, as if she were made of porcelain. It was different to the other times, in that she was very aware of his heart hammering against hers. When he pushed his hands into her hair and began to kiss along her collarbone she almost stopped breathing, it was so exquisite. Then he traced along her throat, every nerve ending on fire until lips touched lips. She opened her mouth to his. The soft hardness of his body, and the funny sadness of his mind were both finally in her arms.


White Horizon, a landscape novel by Welsh author Jan Ruth

White Horizon: On-off-on lovers Daniel and Tina marry in typically chaotic fashion, witnessed by old friends, Victoria and Linda who become entangled in the drama, their own lives changing beyond recognition.

Excerpt: Victoria made to dive across the bed to the door, but Max was faster. He grabbed her ankle and she fell awkwardly, hitting the side of her face against the solid oak headboard. For a moment she was stunned by the pain of it. Victoria somehow found the strength to grab the brass bedside clock and hurl it towards Max. It fell several feet wide of the mark. She listened to it thud against the door and roll to a halt on the deep pile carpet. He laughed. Slowly, he dragged her back towards him by her ankle.


Wild Water, a landscape novel by Welsh author Jan Ruth

Wild Water: Jack Redman, estate agent to the Cheshire set. An unlikely hero, or someone to break all the rules?

Excerpt: Anna took him outside before the light failed. There was a listed barn and a dairy, some broken farm equipment, and a lot of hens.
“How many acres altogether?” Jack shouted above the wind.
“About twenty,” she shouted back.
He followed her to the little cottage by the lake. At first Josh and his ghosts had amused Jack but now he changed his mind. The water was like ink and full of moving reflections, the only relief being long islands of dead grasses. There was a rich sense of ancient atmosphere here, haunted even. Anyone with half an imagination could take it all very seriously.

How real are your characters?

My characters actually exist, of course they do! If I didn’t believe this, then they would be very sad people indeed. I think each and every one of them has a little bit of me in their psyche, poor souls.

What compelled you to write these books?

I think my writing is driven by two factors, inspiration and experience.
The different stages of life with all its highs and lows, bring a whole range of experiences to draw on, and this is the foundation of my fiction, the spark that gives my characters life. I tend to use landscape as a character in its own right, so I feel lucky to live in the area which most inspires me; the Welsh Mountains. It is rich in history, diverse and dramatic, it’s a great backdrop for my stories.

How long did you develop them to their current state? Tell us about John Hudspith too.

Wild Water was written 25 years ago, and I was lucky enough to have two traditional agents, both of whom worked quite hard for me. However, my work was knocked back so many times by publishers claiming that the books fell ‘between genres.’ How many times have we heard that from self-published authors? So then a long barren period when family and job took centre stage, and then my son persuaded me to look at self-publishing a couple of years ago.
However, I didn’t really tackle the editing, formatting and marketing with very much enthusiasm! I had a lot of falling over to do before the books reached their current state of ahem… near perfection. All of the technical aspects of publishing have been a huge learning curve. I was recommended to John Hudspith after a lot of false starts, and my covers were designed by Jane Dixon-Smith. Editing and design costs money, but I do think it is important to offer the best quality we can.
Wild Water won Cornerstones book of the year 2011, and it is listed in the eFestival of Words book nominations. All my titles are also listed with The Awesome Indie Site, which is a seal of quality approval. So I do feel that two years of editing (yes!) has paid off and yielded some very satisfying results.

Good on you, Jan! Now, how did you come up with the titles?

My first book was called Under Offer, but then my agent changed it to Wild Water. Midnight Sky was a natural follow on, and then I found that I had a theme going, and it has worked itself into a brand. The titles sit very well with the landscape. The work in progress has already moulded itself into Silver Rain (but that could change!)

When did you know you just had to write?

I’ve always been a bookie kid, and it just went from there. I recall winning little prizes at school for creative writing, but it wasn’t till I reached my twenties that I realised writing a novel was a craft that had to be learnt. I made a lot of mistakes.

Who would you say have been the most influential authors in your life? What is it that really strikes you about their work?

George Orwell. I loved the social message and the depth of character. On a more current theme, I enjoy Linda Gillard’s novels, and my all-time favourite The Misremembered Man by Christina McKenna. There are lots more but I think I’m a character freak and if it features big Celtic landscapes, then it’s got me hooked, just a personal preference.

What story would you like to share about the joy, challenge, or hardship of writing?

My first novel Wild Water attracted agents and publishers, then it went on to win an in-house competition in 2011 and it has recently been listed on the Festival of Words 2013.

These boosts are great, but the ordinary reader feedback is the best, the reader with nothing to gain and who takes the time to get a message to you, to say how much they enjoyed reading your fiction. The downsides are probably negotiating the sometimes rather insidious, nasty side of the internet.

Who gives you the most encouragement, Jan?

My readers give me the most encouragement.

What are you working on right now? Tell us your latest news.

My latest work in progress is called Silver Rain. I’m hovering around chapter four, working through a lot of plot threads in my head, so day dreaming is a common state! It’s another romantic drama, but this time the main characters are in their fifties. I also have ideas for another set of short stories based on my recent travels, so a sort of global assortment.

Best wishes for Silver Rain. This time you will have John to assess it for  restructure and to edit before publishing, I guess. It will give you so much confidence against naysayers when an expert has already given his approval. Now, what’s your best marketing strategy?

To write quality fiction.


"I tend to use landscape as a character in its own right, so I feel lucky to live in the area which most inspires me; the Welsh Mountains. It is rich in history, diverse and dramatic, it’s a great backdrop for my stories."

“I tend to use landscape as a character in its own right, so I feel lucky to live in the area which most inspires me; the Welsh Mountains. It is rich in history, diverse and dramatic, it’s a great backdrop for my stories.”


How much do you have in common with your protag, Jan?
Oh, I think there is a little of me in all my characters!

What are your hobbies?
I have a passion for horses, so after books, I love riding, with walking the hills a close second.

How nice! When do you find the time to write?
I’m lucky to have lots of time for writing, I’m at that age where I can be my own boss, my time is more or less my own. Adult children are a wonderful invention
What one thing is important for your audience to know about you? Why?

My books are sometimes described as romance, but there is a strong element of drama and reality. Lots of male readers have enjoyed White Horizon, and Wild Water is mostly written from the male point of view. There’s a sprinkling of black humour too.

Any tips on reading and writing?

If you want to write well, you need to read a lot too.

You visited Sydney recently. Would you like to share with us some experiences from this trip?

Loved Sydney! It has the wacky wow factor; bold, brash, buzzing. A sprawling cosmopolitan city with a complex waterfront connected by bridges, walkways and several quaysides. Old fashioned ferries next to multi-million pound boats and cruise ships had me in mind of Windermere crossed with London – there’s even a Kings Cross and a Paddington – but clearly with more sun. Some of it was touristy with boomerangs for sale and folk playing the didgeridoo, but I liked that, it gave the place a strong identity; I would have felt miffed if I hadn’t seen all the trademark Aussie paraphernalia in the flesh. Rolf Harris, Crocodile Dundee and Dame Edna just couldn’t belong anywhere else. And where else could you buy a genuine kangaroo scrotum?
Only in Australia! 🙂

Thank you so much for your time Jan. Have a smooth sailing onwards!

Readers, I hope you have enjoyed meeting these fabulous author. Come visit her website: and find out more about her work and follow Jan’s Twitter to stay up to date with her latest news.


sydney's song s logo