Anita Dawes & Jaye Marie

Two determined authors, bulletproof and dangerous…


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What is Your Favourite Pastime?

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Someone asked me this question the other day and I had to hesitate before answering. I thought it would be writing or reading, but other hobbies pushed the word aside. And it is true, there are so many things that I enjoy doing. There are also many things I no longer have the time for.

The next question is usually, “but one of them must be special in some way?”

Again, there isn’t just one that comes to mind and this must be true for most people.

Depending on our mood, we like doing different things. For instance, my writing mind works best first thing in the morning. Later in the day, I have trouble writing anything. And when I am tired, I like to spend time in the garden with my bonsai.

I love jigsaw puzzles too, but these days I prefer to do them on line. So much choice, easier to do, no more juggling hundreds of pieces on limited table space. You can’t lose any of the pieces either.

In many ways, I realise that all my favourite pastimes are very similar. They all involve a degree of patience, attention to detail and an over active imagination.

At the moment, I have a huge pile of work in progress. Two fiction books to finish, a collection of short stories to prepare for publication and various editing jobs for Anita’s books, not to mention a veritable queue of reviews to finish.

My collection of bonsai should come quite high on my list, as they always need something doing. There is a very good reason they are never considered finished. They continue to grow and need constant attention. Plus, they are all different ages with different needs.

Add to this list, two crochet projects and a pile of dressmaking as yet unfinished. And all those other urgent things that hide in my brain, lulling me into a false sense of achievement.

So the answer to the original question, what is my favourite pastime, should be . . .

 

“My favourite pastime is living and enjoying everything I do get around to. . .”


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Rosie’s #BookReviewTeam #RBRT Cleaved by Sue Coletta @SueColetta1

 

#RBRT Review Team

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Cleaved     by Sue Coletta… to be released 3rd May


Cleaved … such an old fashioned emotive word and one used to great effect in this thrilling crime story.

This crime thriller opens with a gripping prologue. A woman is trapped inside a steel drum, terrified for her life. You are instantly there with her, experiencing every gruesome and terrifying moment as she tries to escape.

Somewhere in the Lake Region of New England, a ruthless killer is on the prowl. He needs to kill Sage Quintano, the author wife of the Sheriff, Niko Quintano, but his reason is not clear.

Someone starts to follow Sage, tormenting her with a nursery rhyme and then her world starts to fall apart. I loved the way the chapters alternated sometimes, as the two women in the story, Sage and her husband’s female deputy, Frankie Campanelli take turns to build the tension and the story, and you couldn’t have two more different women than these.

I thought the plot and storyline were expertly handled, for despite all the confusing clues I couldn’t  tell the guilty from the innocent. The dialogue was handled well, with arguments strongly portrayed and believable. The tension builds gradually, almost painfully so. I read somewhere that the author actually experienced being inside a steel drum, for the sake of realism, I hope!

The interaction with the Quintano dogs, Colt and Ruger, was rather special too, the scene where Sage and the dogs comfort one another was really moving.

I would have preferred an English vocabulary, as some of the terms used were unfamiliar to me. And I’m not sure about the over-description of the maggots!

I will be reading Marred, the first book in this series, as I know I will enjoy that one too, and I can find out what happened to Sage’s sister…

Book Description

Author Sage Quintano writes about crime. Her husband Niko investigates it. Together they make an unstoppable team. But no one counted on a twisted serial killer, who stalks their sleepy community, uproots their happy home, and splits the threads that binds their family unit.
Darkness swallows the Quintano’s whole–ensnared by a ruthless killer out for blood. Why he focused on Sage remains a mystery, but he won’t stop till she dies like the others.
Women impaled by deer antlers, bodies encased in oil drums, nursery rhymes, and the Suicide King. What connects these cryptic clues? For Sage and Niko, the truth may be more terrifying than they ever imagined.

(Thank you to the author and to #RBRT for my #Free review copy)


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Good, Bad, or indifferent?

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What is the most important achievement in an author’s life?

I can think of many thinks that are equally important, like

Completing a novel

Seeing your book in print

Being published, either traditionally or self

These are all important of course, but the one I’m thinking about is receiving good reviews for your work.

But apparently, according to Tara Sparling, there are better reviews we could get. Reviews that could sell more books than any of those 5-star reviews.

These are the bad reviews.

You may have heard the expression, “there is no such thing as bad publicity” and history has proved this to be true. The minute someone says how much they hated something, people immediately want to see for themselves.

Think of all the books that have been banned. People will break their necks to get a copy. Some of the best-selling books in the world started out by being banned.

Bad reviews actually contain more useful information for prospective readers, like…

“I didn’t like the main character, he didn’t have to be so mean…”

“this book is so depressing. Don’t read it unless you want to end up being miserable…”

“I hated the ending. Can’t understand why the author did that…”

“Too much violence/sex/ swearing in this book for me…”

So, I want someone to give one of our books a bad review, just to prove this theory…

Any takers?        (#Free copies available on request)

 

 


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The amended beginning to The Broken Life…

This is really a continuation of the recent post ‘The Critique’… I think it is a vast improvement on the original beginning. What do you think?

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DI David Snow has a serial killer to catch, a killer as mysterious as the crimes he commits.

Snow is due to retire, but not before he discovers why someone killed his sergeant and is now coming after him.

The killer seems to have a personal vendetta against Snow, but he is determined that no one else should die because of him. His efforts are hampered by the arrival of a new sergeant, ‘ruthless’ Ruth Winton, for she is not what she seems. Alarm bells start to ring when Snow realises she is after more than just his job.

 

It was almost midnight, the cold rushing wind the only sound in the empty, deserted streets. The detective was unaware that someone had been following him ever since he left the public house. This had not been a social visit, he had been looking for information, seeking to loosen a few tongues with the help of the local brew.

It had been another waste of his time, and his mood was as black as the night around him.  He heard a sound behind him and stopped walking, waiting for the person to come into view. When no one appeared he knew he was alone and more than a little drunk and frustrated.

As he stood in the middle of the road, something hit the side of his head, something hard and painful. He had been right, after all. Someone had been following him, and they had just thrown something at him. His senses began to fail as the pain intensified, his sight the first to go. As his knees buckled, he reached up, his fingers touching the alien object that was protruding from the side of his head.

The shock of realising what was happening accelerated his system failure, and he collapsed, his head hitting the road hard. As he lay dying, someone walked up to him and knelt down beside him. He couldn’t see who it was, or whether they were friend or foe, but he had the feeling it didn’t matter anymore anyway. The last thing he felt were the icy cold fingers on his face…

Chapter One

Detective Inspector David Snow stared at the black and white photograph, struggling to grasp why the familiar face of Jim Harris was looking back at him from the whiteboard in his office.

Snow’s brain refused to acknowledge that the man he had worked with for years wouldn’t be coming through the door again, grinning, with a Costa coffee in his hand.

Snow had attended the post mortem, feeling it was the least he could do for his friend. Jim would have been impressed, knowing how much Snow hated them. It had to be a mistake. Jim Harris couldn’t be dead. Why had he been out at that time of night? Snow found himself thinking like all the surviving relatives he had ever tried to console over the years, if you didn’t believe, it couldn’t be true, didn’t happen.

His job had been wearing Snow down for a while, and he was bone weary of the constant struggle. The last few years had been difficult, his energy never at full strength when he needed it most. Without Jim Harris, the future not only looked bleak, but it also seemed doomed.

Snow closed his eyes, remembering the optimistic presence, the calm and persuasive way jobs and problems were solved. No one else could diffuse a situation quite like Jim. They would replace Jim with some snotty-nosed Yahoo, intent on playing cops and robbers.

The sheer frustration of the situation threatened to ruin another working day, and the cheap pen he was holding snapped in two in his hands.

One piece of paper caught his eye, and he couldn’t look away. It was the preliminary coroner’s report. Blunt force trauma to the head, although not the cause of death. Skull penetration by a thin, pointed weapon still to be found.

What the report didn’t say, and never did, was why. Snow pushed himself away from the desk, the wheels of his chair squeaking on the vinyl flooring.  He stood, unsure and puzzled. What was the time? Or the day? He had no clue. He also needed a coffee.

 

On his way to the high street, the image of a wild-haired woman with sad eyes flashed through his mind. Kate Devereau had been a victim in one of his cases last year. Her ex-husband had taken it upon himself to slaughter everyone who had ever upset him. Kate was one of the few survivors, rescued by Snow himself. Because of the trauma, she had suffered a complete mental breakdown, unable to communicate or recognise anyone. Once in a while, Snow would see her, hoping for a miracle, but her eyes were as dead as the people she had lost.

Further down the road and out of the corner of his eye, the familiar flash of red hair signaled the imminent arrival of his neighbour and nemesis, Susan Miles.  It was too late to take evasive action, so he braced himself for the meeting.

‘How lovely to see you, David… but why didn’t you say if you needed something in town?’

He stared at her, trying to think of something non-committal to say, but the desire to be rude was overpowering. ‘I’m not shopping, Susan. I just needed a coffee … and a few minutes peace and quiet.’

They continued walking, his strides deliberately longer than hers, hoping her impossibly high heels would slow her down or at least trip her up, he didn’t really care which.

‘David, please slow down, I can’t keep up with you. I wanted to invite myself to dinner tonight, as I’m making your favourite…?’

She was really pushing it today, he thought. So many times, he had tried to explain that he neither wanted nor needed a replacement for his wife. Since Anne had died, he didn’t think about women like that. Even if he did, he wouldn’t choose Susan Miles. ‘Sorry Susan, I’m working late again. Too much work on at the moment…’

She frowned, and he could hear the wheels turning in her brain as she tried to think of something that would get her what she wanted. One of these days, he knew he would have to be blunt and put an end to her dreams of romance.

She had always been a problem. The reason Snow worked so late most of the time was to avoid her, and he knew he should have done something about the situation a long time ago. The trouble was, he didn’t know how to do it without hurting her. But if he wanted to retire, it would be time to retire her too, now wouldn’t it?

The whole idea seemed unattainable and impossible to fathom. Why wasn’t Jim still here, he would know how to make her leave.

(Feel free to pull it apart…I would love some constructive criticism!)

 

 


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The Critique…

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The other day in a post, I mentioned a critique I received for Broken Life, the third book in my ‘Lives’ series.

I had been reading an article about Cathleen Townsend and how thorough a job she had done on a certain book. The writer swore it had made the difference between it being a good book and a great one. After a conversation between writer, the Cathleen, and me, she offered to analyze the opening chapters of one of my books.

It just so happened that Broken Life hadn’t been beta read… a huge oversight on my part and something I do usually do, so I leapt at the chance.

I wasn’t prepared for the result, however. Huge chunks of the text had been scored through, and the general indication was bad. My heart sank into my boots, and I slunk away, very ashamed of myself.

I spent two whole days thinking I was a crap writer, trying desperately to find a reason not to rip all my books into pieces.

Then something happened. I don’t know what made me read the critique again, and this time I could see what Cathleen wanted me to see. So I deleted the offending text and read it again. It was more dramatic, the content tighter, better befitting a crime thriller. Cathleen also suggested that an ‘action prologue’ a dramatic passage at the beginning of the book, either as a prologue or new chapter one, would give the reader an idea of the quality of the story.

I had never written one of these before, although I had read other peoples, and they do lend an extra element.

Broken Life has been updated and republished now, and this post is my way of thanking Cathleen Townsend for her valuable advice…

 


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Some of you may remember the posts I wrote last year when I was fighting breast cancer. It was my way of coping with a completely alien and difficult situation.  The support I received from everyone at that time was truly wonderful and really helped a lot. All these caring arms reached out to me from around the world to give me all these hugs, and I will never forget any of you.

The idea to publish these posts as a short story was to give hope and support to others, and I genuinely hope it helps someone else in their time of need.

I called the story “Apple Blossom” because that is the abiding memory of my time at the hospital. In the radiotherapy room, above the treatment table, some of the ceiling tiles had been replaced with illuminated pictures of apple blossom against a blue summer sky. In the darkness of that room, I stared at those images every day for three weeks, desperately trying to remain calm and as peaceful as I could manage.

Even now, months later, I cannot look at apple blossom without remembering how alone I felt, but also how lucky I was…

Universal Amazon Link:  myBook.to/appleblossom

 


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“Faring to France on a Shoe”

Our review for one of our favourite authors, Valerie Poore and her book “Faring to France on a Shoe”

 

A travelogue about a dream come true. After seven years of owning their barge, Hennie-Ha, seven years involving catastrophe and crisis, Val and her partner finally go ‘faring’ to France for the first time. This travelogue is about the places they visit and the people they meet along the canals on their route from the Netherlands, through Belgium and into northern France. It tells a gentle story about how they experience their life on board during the four weeks they spend cruising. Written as a journal, the reader joins them on their travels through rain and shine and reveals how day by day, Val learns to cast aside the stresses and demands of the real world and to appreciate life’s simplest of pleasures to the full.

 

 

 

Our Review

I have loved reading all of Valerie Poore’s books about her adventures afloat. “Faring to France on a Shoe” is a very different challenge. This time, Valerie and her partner Koos find and fall in love with a Dutch barge called the Hennie-Ha. Smaller than their other barges at just 15 metres long and not big enough for Koos, a tall Dutchman, but it would be perfect for ‘faring’ or cruising the French waterways, something Valerie has always wanted to do.

Living on a boat or a barge is a challenge, for everything is so compact with not much room to spare. This alone leads to situations that would test anyone’s patience. I have always admired the way Valerie copes with whatever life throws at her, her ingenuity and determination always leading to the joy of her achievements.

In her previous books, Valerie has been faced with some immense challenges, and you come to admire the strength and humour it took to overcome them.  This time, I thought, would be different. A delightful holiday on the French waterways. What could be better?

Right from the start, the problems arrive, some more disastrous than others. Undaunted, as usual, Valerie and Koos master them all, leaving just the numerous locks to contend with.

I have had the misfortune to be introduced to the locks on the River Thames in the UK, something I didn’t enjoy and wouldn’t do again even if my life depended on it! So take it from me; locks can be tricky and dangerous places.

But the holiday in France turned out to be worth the trouble it took to get there. Valerie’s brilliant powers of description introduce you to so many amazing sights, sounds and delights of an amazing journey, leaving me sorry to come home…

 

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About The Author

Val Poore was born in London, England, and grew up in both north London and the west of Dorset. After completing her degree in English, History and French at Bournemouth, she took a further course in the conservation and restoration of museum artefacts at Lincoln College of Art which qualified her for nothing at all really. She then spent two years doing furniture restoration before going to South Africa in 1981 with her husband and small children.

Valerie left South Africa permanently in 2001 and has settled in the Netherlands, where she shares her time between a liveaboard barge in Rotterdam and a cottage in Zeeland. She teaches academic and business English on a freelance basis and still writes in her spare time, although she admits there’s not enough of that at the moment. In fact, she has been writing since childhood and wrote stories, articles and radio plays for years before embarking on her first book in 2005. Val loves travelling especially when it involves roughing it a bit. She feels that she has better adventures and more interesting experiences that way.

She has written six books altogether: the Skipper’s Child (teen/kidult fiction), How to Breed Sheep, Geese and English Eccentrics (sort of grown-up, humorous fiction), Watery Ways and Harbour Ways (memoirs of her first years of living on a barge in Holland), Walloon Ways (three years as a weekend Belgian) and African Ways (a memoir her life on a farm in South Africa). Her seventh book (another novel) is in progress but is taking rather longer than she had hoped. This is simply due to real life getting in the way.