Friday, 2 December 2011

Calamity's Corner

The Christmas issue is dedicated to all of our contributers
and to the readers over the world who subscribe to
Calamity's Corner. I hope Calamity's Corner has provided
something of interest to mull over in your leisure time or
stirred your creative juices.

No Author of the Month for this month - instead we display their books.
What a wonderful variety.

Calamity takes you to Kent, England, Tricia McGill introduces her 2
new best friends, Ted and Wendy have a whale of a time in
Twofold Bay, NSW.

Laurel Lamperd sets writers a task to break the block
 and Tanja Cilia challenges our knowledge of Latin.
(Tanja I haven't studied Latin but got 9/12 so I'm thrilled :)

LJ and Jacquie present their regular columns and Wendy begs
 your vote for her book video on 21st -26th December
(just my luck it's over the holidays, lol, so I really need you) # 2 The Unhewn Stone.
You can view the video at the You Gotta Read site from Dec 2nd.

Thank you everyone for your friendship and support.
Happy Christmas!
For a copy of this .pdf just email Calam: Calamity's Corner

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

'Happiness Guaranteed' has a COVER!

Cover artist: Tiger Matthews.
The concept is absolutely fantastic. Thank you Tiger!

Bianca, a beautiful Epicurean Supremo from a privileged futuristic society has a flaw which, if discovered and reported to the Rulers, will threaten her life and that of the man she loves. Unable to pinpoint the cause, she tries to hide her anxiety until an ingenious birthday present from her husband provides a respite. Now, on her thirty-third birthday, her primitive behaviour and thought patterns return; stronger and more dangerous.

Due for release December 2nd 2011

From MuseItUp Publishing Happiness Guaranteed

Friday, 11 November 2011

MuseItUp Authors Book Launch Party



has her  3RD BOOK in THE CHRONICLES OF CALEATH SERIES released today


Cover Artist: Delilah K. Stephans


The threat facing the Southern Regions of Allorn spreads north as warm weather awakens the Tarack. An alliance of Vergöttern and human forces now face overwhelming odds as they battle to keep the rich grain belts free from the giant ants. Without Caleath, hope of keeping the Tarack confined fades.
On Dragonslair Island, Caleath’s return heralds a new threat. Releasing the dead Archimage Tallowbrand and surviving as the Deathbringer brings the sorceress Azriel’s plans closer to fruition.
To save Nasith he must face the Tarack queen and her horde. Each survived challenge only brings him closer to confronting the ever powerful Azriel.

AVAILABLE from Amazon and Muse Bookstore 'Exiled: The Legacy of Lathraine’s Pledge' 



Cover Artist: Kaytalin Platt

In the modern Kingdom of Ireland, few mortals believe in the fairy folk.
Without that belief, the fairies are dying. Finvarra, the King of the
Fairies, would rather dance than worry-but he must have a mortal dancing

When Janet Gleason's grandfather becomes the new U.S. Ambassador to Ireland,
the sixteen-year-old orphan must leave Boston and her friends behind. Janet
is lonely in Dublin and unused to her grandparents' stuffy social life. An
invitation to a royal ball terrifies her. She can't even waltz and dreads
embarrassment. Finvarra's fairy witch overhears her fervent wish to learn to

Seventeen-year-old Prince Liam Boru loathes the idea of escorting another
spoiled American girl to a ball. In fact, he detests most of his royal
duties. He dresses down to move through Dublin unnoticed and finds himself
on his royal backside when Janet crashes into him. Intrigued, he asks to see
her again, and she willingly agrees. Unaware of each other's identities,
they arrange to meet. When they do, the fairies steal Janet away.

Liam's attempts to find her trigger a series of frustrating misadventures.
Can he and Janet outwit a treacherous fairy king who's been hoodwinking
mortals for centuries?

Available from Amazon and Muse Bookstore 'Glancing Through The Glimmer'



Cover Artist: Delilah K Stephans

Fourteen freaking hours in the hell that was the interior of a jet plane. He tried to read, listen to music, watch a film. Nothing. He could see nothing but her lying in a hospital bed, tubes and technology running from her, surrounding her with their manufactured sterility. She needed to be touched. He needed to touch her. Make sure she was warm, well, alive.

A nagging weight lodged in the pit of his stomach. No food, no drink, just her. She was the cure.

He slid the sunshade up. The first rays of light sliced across the horizon as they chased the day at thirty six thousand feet. He could scarcely make out the scallop of cumulus below as they drifted by. The world went on, not caring a thing for the concerns of man. His world was suspended like an insect in amber. The rest of humanity could look in at him, but he was paralyzed to act, to move, to breathe.

Available from Amazon and Muse Bookstore 'When We Were Amazing'



Cover Artist: Delilah K Stephans


This science fantasy romp is not what it seems. Ostensibly a foray into the inner reaches of space, the characters take you for a spin into a digital existence that literally lights your fire. Then douses it, permanently. One jolly good romp in the hay and it is sayonara, baby. Police Detective Jim Smith chases the horny, high-charged devil down as it fries victim after victim. When he goes digital as a part of the chase, the conclusion looms, but with a twist that could not have been anticipated. Sweet dreams! Read and enjoy, but whatever else you do, do not hit the escape key…

Contains graphic sex, and is not for the young or the faint of heart.

Available from Amazon and Muse Bookstore 'Blue Streaks'


Cover Artist: Tiger Matthews

A sadistic cold-blooded killer is loose inside the domes on Terra. Galactic P.I. Majestic Kane soon learns the deaths are acts of vengeance against him, his friends, and acquaintances. To end the slaughter, Kane must put everything on the line to stop a madman, before it’s too late…

Available from Amazon and Muse Bookstore 'Obstructed Vengeance'


CHAMPAGNE AFTERNOON is released today.

Cover Artist: Delilah K Stephans
Available from Amazon and Muse Bookstore - Champagne Afternoon

Lin wishes her fellow Muse Authors who have books released today her very best wishes for their success. She is sorry she can't be with us today but is definitely with us in spirit. So we should raise our champagne glasses to Lin and  Rosalie, Pat McD, PJ, Christine and Pat Dale.
Come and join the boistrous party via the comments- if you are game - and you might be the first to win a copy of one of these new books.
The garden gate stands ajar-- WELCOME IN said the spier to the fly hehehehe

Monday, 31 October 2011

Calamity's Corner

In the November issue, I'm delighted to present an old critique partner of mine,
mystery writer, Rick Bylina, as Author of the Month. My new friend, writer
and photographer, Alanna, gives us Part 2 in her series on beautiful
Brittany.(What a superb setting for writers to use).

Australian authors Carole Sutton and Dell Brand share their
experiences with the amazing Maned Wood Ducks and the Mt Isa Rodeo,
and the movie quiz from Sheryl might stump you. :) Plus the regular

For this free monthly ezine for writers, readers, travellers, movie buffs etc email me at Calamity's Corner

Happy leisure time. You owe it to yourslves.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

My Book Review of 'Thank You Mom and Thank You Dad For All The Wonderful Things I Have' by Sherri Lubin Carpenter

Sherri Lubin Carpenter’s charming children’s picture book, Thank You Mom and Thank You Dad For All The Wonderful Things I Have, introduces the toddler to the five senses. Written in verse and repetition, it could be set to music. The focus is on the importance of parents in a child’s life and the child’s gratitude towards them. I think this idea helps to reinforce the respect and love that flows between them. Elisa Elaine Luevanos’ beautiful illustrations clearly show this. I found the irregular metre and rhyme not to my taste, but the warmth and sentiment of the visually graphic imagery in the words held me.

Carefully chosen examples to engage the young reader define the five senses, especially when he encounters the smells of raw fish and skunk and the taste of bitter radish, and when he touches the hot slide. I can imagine him laughing and screwing up his noses and using lots of facial expressions, and his wide-eyed wonder as he explores the beach. This would make a lovely bedtime story of young children to be read and reread many times over.

Available at Willow Moon Publishing
meet Sherri at Sherri Carpenter

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Review of Laurel Lamperd's Crossroads at Isca

Crossroads at Isca is a wonderful journey, both for the reader and the characters. Roman Britian opens up before us and draws us in. This is a real experience for historians. If I didn't know better I would swear this was a first hand account. Laurel Lamperd's understanding of the stuggle to survive in a Britian invaded in Roman times brings to life this engaging story of two young women and the men who admire them. Faine and Marella are cousins but quite opposite in their dispositions. It is easy to care about both of them. Some of the scences made me feel uncomfortable since they touched on my personal taboos but were honest in keeping with the times. I found Crossroads at Isca to be well written, entertaining and enlightening. I recommend it to adult readers.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Spitzli's progress.

Spitzli had her stitches out today. She was so brave and the vet so gentle, I didn't even flinch. Her orthopaedic surgeon, is very happy with her progress and said she isn't in any pain. However we must continue to keep her quiet - no twisting or sudden turns- for a few more weeks.

This mini Schnauzer thinks her leg has healed and is anxious to reclaim her active life so we might find the next two weeks a little trying.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Rochelle Weber's book Rock Crazy is published today!!

Welcome to my blog, on your release day, Rochelle.

Can you tell us a little about your sequel to Rock Bound,  Rock Crazy from MuseItUp Publishing?

Rock Crazy is about 41K words, or about 128 pages.

Katie McGowan is bi-polar, and she’s run the gamut of medications, but nothing works anymore.  Everyone says her she should have a microchip implanted in her brain that can regulate her mood swings.  But Katie doesn’t want to be a robot.  In a tough love move, her husband, Scott takes her to the Moon—and dumps her. Katie’s stuck on that God-forsaken “rock,” and thinks she’s space sick. But she’s wrong; she’s pregnant. Now the surgery’s too dangerous and she has to go off her meds until the baby’s born.

Scott’s elated that he’s going to be a father and assumes Katie will take him back.  He has no clue how badly he’s hurt her, how thoroughly he’s broken her trust—or that he may not get her back at all.

That sure is a fascinating concept. Where did the germ of this idea come from? 

In college, I wrote a book called “Comes the Dawn” working through the angst of my own divorce.  Each semester I wrote to my professor, so I ended up with eight different storylines with the same two characters.  My ex-husband dumped me for my best friend (really the only other person I knew) in a town I’d never heard of, 750 miles from home, because he couldn’t cope with my mood swings. 

My own bi-polar disorder had not been diagnosed then. When I graduated from school, I no longer had time to write and the book languished.  Once I became disabled by my disease, I started writing again, that town became the Moon and the disease became the real villain in the book.  Some of the scenes really happened.  Many of the arguments with Katie’s mother are arguments I had with my mother when I was awake and she was alive.  I believe now that she was bi-polar and self-medicating with alcohol.

Oh my goodness. This sounds like a powerful book. I've always said, the most potent writing comes from within, from what we know.

Earth Rise
How did you choose your setting? Have you woven your own environment into your story?
The opening scene on Earth really happened to me and does take place in an area where I used to live.  Obviously, I’ve never visited the Moon.  However, I’ve used a lot of my own experience in the book.

Never visited the Moon? How do you know :)? You might have astral travelled.

Who is your favourite character in your novel?
Goodness, I love the Johnsruds, but Lena Johnsrud cracks me up all the time.  She’s such a typical teenager. 

I put my galleys on my Kindle, because I thought typos and such would jump out better on the different screen and I was reading it at Wendy’s.  Anytime someone walks into Jake’s Cafe when Lena’s working and asks for the manager, or asks for Jake by name, her reaction is, “Sure.  Daddy!”  Hopefully their ears will stop ringing by the time Jake comes out of the kitchen.  I read one of those passages and cracked up.  Then I realized I was laughing at my own book and started laughing at myself.  So there I was sitting alone at Wendy’s having this great laugh-fest for no apparent reason.  So, okay—I’m not certifiably crazy; I’m already certified by the Veteran’s Administration!

If an author can laugh or cry at her own story then it's pretty sure a reader will too. Congratulations.

 How many drafts did it take before you felt satisfied to submit Rock Crazy for publication?

Jiminy!  I did a draft a semester in college, then picked it up and put it down over the years, then gosh—I’ve lost count.

 What's the one thing you hope your readers will take away with them, after finishing Rock Crazy?

If one person laughs or cries while reading the book it’ll be worth it.

If one person recognizes him or herself and gets help for this disease, it’ll really be worth it.  People who are bi-polar are often misdiagnosed.  It never occurred to me that my temper tantrums had anything to do with mental illness.  I just thought I was a spoiled brat who hadn’t grown up. 

Brain Surgery
I saw a psychiatrist for several years and was treated for clinical depression until I had a housemate who recognized the symptoms, gave me copies of “Call Me Anna,” by Patty Duke and “A Brilliant Madness” by Ms. Duke and a doctor, and made me check into the VA for a week of diagnostic observation followed by a week of getting started on the appropriate cocktail of medications.  I always thought bi-polar disorder meant crushing depressions alternating with maniacal highs.  If my roommate and Ms. Duke hadn’t told me my highs could manifest as temper tantrums, I’d probably still be on anti-depressants, but screaming and throwing things at people.

If, by chance, you became trapped inside one of your stories, would you try to escape to your real world?
I am trapped in Rock Crazy.  If I go off my meds, I get violent.  You haven’t lived until you’ve been the only woman on the locked ward at the VA, but I’ve been there, done that several times, and I like it out here in the real world, so I’ll keep taking my meds and hope they keep working.  And if someone invents a chip and I can get the VA to implant it, I’ll be right there!

Do you have a daily writing routine?
I’m sure the Boss Lady is going to wet noodle me, but I’m very bad at sticking to a daily routine.  I get up around eleven and try to spend about an hour on the internet doing e-mail and promo, then write for about three hours, write a review for my Rochelle’s Reviews blog, and read an hour or two while I have a late lunch.  That doesn’t always work, because usually around four my granddaughter wants a ride somewhere and the rest of my day is blown.

Whom do you most admire and why?
My favourite author is Robert A. Heinlein because he wrote intelligent science fiction and he wrote it well.  I would have loved to have met him when he was alive.  I also admire Gene Roddenberry for his positive vision of the future, JK Rowling for her wonderful facility with words in the Harry Potter series, Ginger Simpson for her humor, Cyrus Keith who never fails to keep me on the edge of my seat burning up the pages, Roseanne Dowell for her sweet romances, and our fearless leader, Lea Shizas who is tireless in her efforts to make MuseItUp and each of us authors shine.

Here! here!

When you aren’t writing, what do you enjoy most?
I love spending time with my grandkids, playing Buzztime trivia, singing karaoke, and prowling the Volo Auto Museum and making people feel welcome there.

What's the most important thing you would like readers to know about you as an author?
I try to write honest books with both heart and brains.

Apart from ‘never give up’ what advice as a writer would you give to someone who takes their writing seriously?
Buy a dictionary and Style Guide—the Chicago Manual of Style is what most publishers use.  Study commas, comma splices, semi-colons, ellipses, em-dashes, homonyms, capitalization, etc.  Write your first draft and set it aside until you’ve finished the first draft of your next book.  Go back and look for head-hopping, consistency, info-dumps, passive voice, too many adverbs, and set it aside again.  When you go back to it, do a line edit for spelling and grammar.  Go through it backward if you have to.  Don’t rely on Word; they’re frequently wrong.  Use that style guide.  It’s much more important than a Thesaurus.

Well, Rochelle, it is clear to me you have written a timely book that will be of great benefit to the people who need your help, and to those who care about their fellow man.
Where can we reach you.
See What I’m Reading at Rochelle’s Reviews:
Follow Me on Twitter:!/RochelleWeber
Thank you for being my guest today, Rochelle

Thank you for having me.  Here’s a short excerpt of Rock Crazy.  This takes place soon after they’ve landed on the Moon.  Rock Crazy will be available from today at MuseItUp Publishing. Here’s the link:

Rockton, the Moon 19° North 29° East
February, 2066

Scott came home, and she was doing her hair. It was sticking up all over, and she actually thought it looked cool.
“Whad’ya do?” he asked. “Stick your finger in a socket?”
Now a sane person would have taken that as a joke. But not crazy Katie. She went off on him. She screamed, shouted, and tried to rage around the room, but she wasn’t used to the lower gravity, and she bounced off a wall and ended up on her butt. In fact, she fell slowly, but then she bounced again when she hit the floor. She came back down still in that maddening slow-motion, spluttering and throwing her same arm out to break her fall. Fortunately, she landed softly enough to prevent anymore damage to her wrist.
Falling in slo-mo tends to put a real damper on one’s temper. Scott laughed so hard, he ended up bouncing onto the floor next to her. She glared at him.
“Y-You looked so f-funny floating d-down to the f-floor,” he gasped.
She glared some more.

“And…and then, y-you b-bounced!”
“There’s nothing funny about it,” Katie replied, trying to keep her own laughter from bubbling up at their predicament. Scott stood up, managing to do so without bouncing, and offered her his hand.
“I can do it,” Katie said, stubbornly. She over-compensated the amount of energy she’d need to stand up and bounced again. Scott tried to catch her, and they both went back down.
“C’mon, honey,” he said. “You have to admit it’s funny as hell.” Tears were leaking from the corners of his eyes, he was laughing so hard.

Rochelle has a copy of her novel Rock Crazy to give away to one lucky guest at her Launch Party which follows right. Please enter the garden gate, via the comments, at your own risk, hehehe. Right Here and Now. Welcome! and writers, bring your own characters with you to share in the fun.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

The Unhewn Stone cover is up for the October award.

I'm excited that The Unhewn Stone is nominated for the October Cover awards at Alternative-Read at

The cover shows a rather cheeky magician with 2 masks. Tiger Matthews from MuseItUp Publishing is the cover artist. It is # 5. Voting has another 17 days to go. I'd love to win if you could spare a vote. Thank you.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Release Day for Exiled: Winter's Curse by Rosalie Skinner

Today I am thrilled to announce the release of  ROSALIE SKINNER's
The second book in the series The Chronicles of Caleath

Alone, Caleath rides south to kill the Tarack queen in her dormant colony, and thus, ensure the safety of the people. His ‘kill or be killed’ mission is not altruistic. Although he justifies his motive, saving the people, gaining his own freedom and acceptance, deep within his soul he battles a yearning for Tarack stim crystal. However, a small child's plea for help dissolves Caleath's simple plan.

His new quest takes him on a desperate path traversed by bandits, dragons, bloody battles, danger, and death. No longer is Caleath alone.

Meanwhile Nasith travels south with Lachlan, Gwilt, and a band of soldiers prepared for the battle with the Tarack. As they travel, Gwilt voices his concern about the malevolence surrounding a newcomer to the group. Convinced his doubts have fallen on deaf ears, he remains alert and wary. His attitude leads to a confrontation from which neither he nor Nasith emerge unscathed.

Winter allows the people of Allorn time to prepare, while other nefarious schemes rise to destroy them.

Caleath curled one gloved hand around the hilt of the Karadorian sword. His finger traced the outline of two missing jewels, used to purchase a pack horse and supplies before leaving Sheldarc. Cold leached through the fabric of the spare blanket draped around his shoulders as he tried to encourage sleep. Deep within the sheltered cowl of his hood, his eyes closed.

Caleath cocked his head to listen. Well beyond the horses resting with their tails to the wind, he heard a wolf’s howl disturb the quiet of the night. The baying stirred a well of loneliness. Gwilt and Nasith traveled elsewhere. They probably spent the cold, dismal night indoors, sleeping on warm beds with full bellies.

Thoughts of Nasith warmed Caleath’s blood, but he quelled them before they ruined his hope for sleep. He cherished the memory of moments spent in her company. They had been desperate moments. Survival dominated his thoughts then, preventing him from savoring her presence. Now assassins no longer hunted him, nor did ghosts haunt his nights. Nor did Nasith ride with him. He rode alone, south toward the growing threat, in a desperate quest to prove his worth to the old mage Penwryt.

With his chance of returning home destroyed, Caleath fought the despair of homesickness. Cold made his inner arm scar tissue ache. Anger warmed him, banishing thoughts of Nasith. Instead, rage focused on Ephraim, the man who manipulated Caleath’s exile. Although Ephraim managed to delay Caleath’s plans for revenge, they fermented even now. Left without galactic citizenship, or a means to get off the planet, Caleath cursed his enemy with every breath.

Outrageous plans and fading memories blurred as slumber edged past dreams of vengeance. Drifting into an uneasy sleep, Caleath’s guard lowered.

A taint of corruption carried on the cold night air.

Adrenaline pumped, boosting barriers within his mind. Caleath flinched. Sleep dulled the alarm, but instinct reacted to the touch of sorcery. Dragged from a dreamlike state, Caleath braced, rousing to repel the probing of another mind against the defenses inside his head.

His fingers clasped the Karadorian blade, already drawn beneath Caleath’s heavy cloak. Caution saw the sword bared against the threat of ice forming in the sheath and preventing the weapon’s release. Despite his precautions, the sword could not protect him from magic. The effort needed to prevent the persistent intrusion caused his heart to pound and his head to ache.

The barriers in his mind loomed as intangible walls, protecting the detritus of dark magic left by dire conjurations. The threat of incursion into the morass of unfathomed magic terrified Caleath. He recognized his feeble efforts, compared to the power ranged against him.

A trickle of dampness spreading along his spine became a river of cold sweat. Fully awake, Caleath trembled as he fought a silent battle against an invasive and invisible foe. The horses shuffled, as if they too sensed the desperate conflict. Caleath didn’t open his eyes, his focus turned inward. Neither cold, nor the scent of corruption, nor the sudden quiet in the forest seemed important as he fought to keep his mind free from manipulation. He called upon all the ways and means of constructing and maintaining barriers, learnt during three years as the source for Karadorian dread lords.

Even so, his efforts seemed futile. Nothing he offered prevented the aggressive sorcery from broaching his wards.

He dragged cold air into his lungs, clamped his jaws shut, and clenched white-knuckled fists around the hilt of the sword. His sense of futility spread, though he refused to capitulate. He tasted blood, smelt bitter corruption and heard Death’s dark humor in the cascade of a nearby creek.

Between one heartbeat and the next, an explosion of burning flame rampaged behind Caleath’s eyelids. He gasped, opening his eyes when the image of a dragon rampart burned into his vision. He sensed a presence; human, insubstantial, but carrying dread potential. Before he could react to the awe-inspiring presence of the dragon, all three apparent threats; dragon, human, and the touch of sorcery dispersed. No longer under attack, Caleath shuddered. Both horses snorted, shying as Caleath staggered to his feet. Blinded by the sudden light, it took another heartbeat before vision adjusted to the darkness before dawn. Caleath stumbled against Enigma’s flank, his sword flailing toward two unseen foes.

“Balls of a hairy goat.” Caleath rammed the sword into its scabbard and tried to shake off the feeling of impending doom. He took time to settle his racing heart, fill his lungs with sweet air and relish his continued freedom.

In the distance the wolf yowled as the morning light crept across the forest floor. Shrugging off the cloak, Caleath adjusted his shirt where damp fabric chilled warm flesh.  The cheerful chatter of crickets, birds greeting the dawn, and the innocent babbling brook mocked Caleath’s rank fear. Again thoughts of Gwilt and his wolf rose to provoke his loneliness. Cursing his penchant to dwell on their plight, Caleath savored a moment wondering how Nasith greeted the dawn.
The forest remained quiet. A white owl winged silently into the gloom. No dragon or sorcerer disturbed the peaceful tableau.

The BALLS OF A HAIRY GOAT AND ADDER'S SPIT competition is in full swing.
Check out the list of prizes available.
at Ramblings from Lady Rosalie
Visit The official
Chronicles of Caleath website 
and send your contest entry to to get your word puzzle.

Thanks to Wendy for having me here today!! 

For those who haven't already read Book One, Exiled Autumn's Peril is now available from Amazon, Museitup Bookshop and Smashwords.

Come and join Rosalie's blog party... ON NOW via the comments.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

My Spitzli

On her 2nd Birthday
Spitzli's knee reconstruction operation is over.
The vet said they were happy with the way things went. When she comes home she will have to be kept quiet. No running for six weeks, at least.

Friday, 30 September 2011


On this most auspicious occasion, the launch of
her beautiful novel, Laurel's Miracle, let us  welcome  our guest of honour, Nancy Bell.

Hi Wendy, thank you so much for having me as
 your guest.

hands over hostess gift of home baked gingersnaps to Wendy

 Yum, perfect for the party table, thanks.

Cover artist: Kaytalin Platt

So, Nancy, what prompted you to start this story about Laurel’s Miracle?
 That’s a long story for sure. I suffered a life changing injury in August of 2005. Actually, it was 6.01 pm MST August 2, 2005. I know the time because I looked at my watch a nanosecond before I caught my leg on a piece of farm equipment in the corral. I spent the next four months on crutches and mostly in bed, so I had tons of time to think.

Going from a million miles an hour to zero in a minute is a very humbling experience. I took the time to start studying and researching some things I just hadn’t gotten around to. One of the things was the earth energy lines which cross southern England. I have always been fascinated by Glastonbury/Avalon and the Arthur legends. I read anything I could get my hands on to stave off the boredom and became engrossed in it.

I spent quite a bit of time going to physical therapy at the Foothills Hospital in Calgary and was quite moved by a fellow patient whom I never really met, I don’t even know her name. She was quite young and fighting cancer.  The germ of the idea for Laurel comes from there. I just wove the story in my own way and gave her the miracle I hope really came true. 

 That is lovely, so touching, Nancy, but I'm sorry about your poor leg.
Yes, well I broke my pelvis and did nerve and ligament damage to my spine.
Trotting horse, immobile farm equpment and me, I lose. :~) Upside is it gave me the time to write.

Oh, that was a bad accident. I admire your spirit 'to get on with it.' Having a passion for writing must have helped. Can you tell us a little about Laurel’s background?
Laurel is a thirteen year old southern Alberta girl who lives on the family ranch near Pincher Creek, Alberta. She’s a bit of a loner and likes the company of her horse more than most people. She does have two friends who live on the next ranch, Chance and Carlene. They spend a lot of time together helping out on the ranch and just riding on the prairie. Her mom is a special woman who is open to the magic of the natural world around her. Laurel’s dad, however, doesn’t hold with such nonsense, although he’s not sure why he feels so strongly about it. 

That last sentence has just added another dimension to the story for me. Did you let the dad discover what was holding him to his reaction?
I don’t include him in the story other than the fact Laurel refers to him sometimes, but if you read Laurel’s Miracle you’ll find out what the secret is. There is more to find out in Arabella’s Secret which I haven’t finished yet. Arabella is Laurel’s grandmother.

 Why did you choose the YA genre to tell her story?
Honestly, it wasn’t a conscious decision, Laurel just presented herself to me and off we went on the wild ride of telling her story. Her name was inspired by a horse I owned for 19 years, her name was actually 
photo: Michelle Kannenberg
Laura’s Miracle. She was a foal from a nurse mare at  a huge thoroughbred farm, when an expensive TB mare died Laura’s mom was given to the orphan TB foal. That’s why big farms keep a nurse mare band, Laura wasn’t doing well and a friend of mine who worked there told me about the little black foal. So long story short, the foal came to me. My friend’s name was Laura which is why we called the horse Laura’s Miracle because it was a miracle the foal survived. 

Did you write the story from beginning to end? 
Laurel’s Miracle is the only thing I have ever written out of sequence. I actually wrote the ending in one eight hour stint (thought I was going to die I was so sore) but it had me by the throat and I had to finish it. So I had to map out a plan, I knew where I wanted her to go and in what order I just had to figure out how to get her there and still keep the story interesting and fresh.

In the process I read Hamish Miller and Paul Broadhurst’s The Sun and The Serpent and it helped me show Laurel the way to her Miracle. I also made a wonderful friend in Hamish Miller, although I only ever corresponded with him by email. He was an exceptional man.

That is pretty special. Had it not been for your research, this novel, the young patient, your leg injury, that instant of inattention you wouldn’t have had experienced this wonderful friendship.
The patient wasn’t that young, she had small children at home which made it worse. She was a very brave woman from what I observed.

Being a MuseItUp editor as well as an author, do you find it difficult to turn off your internal editor during the first draft?
I can’t seem to turn it off <laughs> I edit my stupid email for heaven’s sake.

Well, that must really hurt. Hahaha.
What do you like about writing?

Photo: Frances Watt
I love the magic of it, the thoughts and actions flowing from my fingers and so often surprising me because I didn’t think that was where the story was going at all. I love research, it’s addicting and I have to be careful I don’t get so caught up in following one lead to the next that I forget I have a story to tell and I need to get to it.   

What don't you like about writing?
When my editor tells me I have too many uses of ‘that’ and I have to go weed them out before she comes after me with a whip. Honestly, I love the creative process. I don’t know how NOT to write.

My editor has a thing about 'that' too, and 'had' ;~)
Is there anything about the writing process you found surprising?
How addicting research is. My characters constantly surprise me with their thoughts and actions. They seem to grow and mature without any direction from me which I find a bit unsettling at times. I mean, am I just a conduit for them to tell their stories through?

If you are just a conduit, then you are truly blessed as a writer.
Thanks, that’s so sweet of you to say that.

Apart from the impact of the brave patient on you and the foal’s name, are any story lines based on things that have happened to you or you have heard about?
I would have to say, no, not directly. However, everything we see or hear or experience is grist for the writer’s mill. So in that respect, I do pull emotions and thoughts and sometimes ideas from my own experiences.

Well, the dog in Christmas Storm which releases in March of 2012 is based on a foster dog I cared for. Lily was quite the character, the peacock incident is a gift from her of sorts. I still miss her, but she is very happy with her new family out on Vancouver Island.

What advice would you have for other authors?
 Believe in yourself and your work. There are so many naysayers out there, “You’re not a writer because you not published”, “Oh, you write , that’s not really writing” and the list goes on. Never be afraid to take constructive criticism and implement it. Talk to people, go to writers' conferences and talk to editors and publishers, learn all the aspects of your craft.

What are you passionate about?
This will sound hoakey, but Truth and Love. Anyone who knows me knows I am an animal lover. I believe each life is sacred and deserves respect, my concept of ‘life’ includes flowers, trees, bugs, the land, in short everything which exists in all worlds on all planes of existence. Learning and growing and having the courage to look my own faults in the face, acknowledge them and then strive to change them to something closer to my idea of what I should be. This doesn’t mean there isn’t a warrior in me who wants to take a few heads when cruelty is perpetrated on innocents; I am of Celtic ancestry after all. 

That doesn’t sound hoakey. If more people thought like you do, there’d be harmony on our planet. And your charity . . .?

Yes, $1 from every copy of Laurel’s Miracle sold between September 30, 2011 and December 31, 2011 will be donated to Dare to Dream Horse Rescue in Dalemead, Alberta. They buy horses at auction which would normally go to the meat buyers and end up at the packing plant. They work with these animals and rehome them; they also incorporate a youth ministry into the mix. This is a wonderful cause and one I support whole heartedly.

Where can we get to know you better, Nancy?
 You can visit my website -

Nancy M. Bell    the m is because there is another author writing as Nancy Bell and I want people to find me.

Nancy Bell Author Page  at MuseItUp Publishing
BOOK VIDEO   this is a lovely book trailer

Thank you so much for hosting me on your blog, Wendy and best of luck with your own writing. I understand The Unhewn Stone was released recently from MuseItUp Publishing. Congratulations.
Thank you. Now the PARTY begins via the comments. One lucky guest will WIN a copy of Laurel’s Miracle. So welcome EVERYONE! Come and feast on Nancy’s special day!

Tuesday, 27 September 2011


I can't remember a time I didn't read. I still have the first book I bought with my own money -- Jane Eyre for $0.50 through Scholastic Books. Since 1994, I have coordinated the  East Bay Mystery Readers' Group

My transition into being a reviewer started by keeping notes for my own sake, just so I’d remember which authors’ writing I liked.  Over time, I began sharing my reviews on-line.  Poisoned Pen Press asked me to be a reader for them, evaluating manuscripts.  After reading the vast number of really bad manuscripts, I couldn’t do it anymore, but they had taught me how to evaluate the various elements of a book and I started reviewing seriously.  

My reviews now are found in "The Strand Magazine," "Mystery Readers Journal," international e-zine "Calamity's Corner",  on-line at Mystery*File , I Love a Mystery and Criminal History UK  as well as being a Top 500 Reviewer on Amazon US, Canada and UK, posting on DorothyL, 4MysteryAddicts, and Crime Thru Time, a distribution list of people to whom I email  my monthly reviews and all of my reviews can be found on  LJ Roberts_Goodreads .  I also have a blog, It is purely my opinion, where I write about books and other things.

CONUNDRUM--don’t you love that word?  It has such a wonderful sound and it’s fun to say: conundrum.  But I digress…

I write reviews of mystery books.  I write them for on-line communities, websites, subscription e-zines, and print publications.  I enjoy writing them, which is a good thing.  Most of the books are ones I buy.  A very few are sent to me by author’s from whom I shamelessly beg.  Even fewer are from authors who, judging by my past reviews of their work, know I’m a fan and send me their newest book. 

Two outlets do send me free ARCs, AREs, UPs or some other alphabet soup combination of pre-published works and, even better, from some I am able to choose the authors whose works I’d like to receive.
There is one publication for which I review that actually pays me.  Real money.  And considering how few paid gigs there are for reviewers, being paid at all is a thrill.  Book publishers pay for advertising which supports this publication.  They also send copies of their new releases to the reviewers in order to spread the word about those new books and, hopefully, boost the sales of those books, thus increasing their revenue and justifying their marketing dollars spent on advertising

Now comes the reviewer, me. As a reviewer, I have always felt my responsibility is to fellow readers.  Over the years, I built my reputation on giving an honest opinion.  I received one of the greatest compliments to date when the publisher of the international e-zine for which I review said, “
I love the way your reviews are teaching tools for authors. You point out how the writer brings the characters to life and makes a story great.”  Through focusing on, and describing the strengths and weaknesses of the elements of a book, I believe other readers may judge whether that book will appeal to them; it is this for which I strive.

Therein lies my—here it comes—conundrum—I do love that word.  When reviewing for an outlet whose revenue comes from publishers, they want you to write positive reviews.  This wouldn’t be bad if the selection of books from which I have to choose were broad and diverse.  But it isn’t. There are three primary houses from whom I receive books:  two of which send me sub-genres I don’t normally read as they are not to my personal taste.  I do, however, love the third house as they are the source for some of my favorite authors.

One conundrum arose when the paid outlet changed the text of the review without my knowing.  For example, I wrote ”The plot is very well constructed.” yet in print, the sentence morphed into ”The novel is superbly constructed.”  Happily, I did receive an apology from the Editor for the copywriters ‘enthusiasm’.  So, the question is: do I own the copy because I wrote it, or do they own the copy as they paid me for it? Since the relationship I have with the magazine’s editor is quite casual, should I expect to view the changes in advance?

When reviewing books not of my selection, there often arises a double conundrum!  First, I’m faced with reading a genre for which I, personally, don’t care because it is outside my area of interest.  I tend not to read cozies, suspense/thrillers, or noir.  This is a generalization, of course, as there are authors whose books are the exceptions and books that have cross genres.  Second, as a reviewer, I must set aside, as best as possible, my personal preferences and be as objective as possible. 

How do I handle my review?  Carefully, and occasionally with small compromises, I choose from the selection I feel most suits me.  For example, I was asked to review a cozy.  There are a lot of people who love this sub-genre so I needed to look at it from their perspective.  The book did have some stylistic choices that bothered me.  I focused on the book’s strengths but didn’t completely ignore the weaknesses.  In my review, one line, of which I was particularly proud and thought quite clever as it was a play on the book’s setting of a pizza parlor, was:  “The book had more portents than slices of pepperoni one would hope for on their pizza.” The magazine editor disagreed and asked that I remove it or rephrase it. I changed it to:”There are a lot of portents…”, but I still prefer the original. In another review for a book I felt was poorly written, I wrote: “Normally a book such as this would be a good airplane book as one could lose oneself in it for a few hours. In the case of this book, however, one would do best to lose the book.”  Funny, that review wasn’t published. 
Normally, there is a middle ground.  I do strive for that, I really do.  I want to be fair to the publishers, writers, and readers, of all genres.  At the same time, I do feel it would not be fair to anyone, were I not true to myself first.

The wall behind my desk.
 The books in my den are ~1/6 of all my books
And yes, that is a mini-T.A.R.D.I.S on top of my monitor.
Reposted with kind permission from Kaye Barley of  Meanderings and Muses 
(article Sept 23rd)