It’s an exciting day today to share the goodnews with you about my friend, Elizabeth Gauffreau’s new release GriefSongs: Poems of Love & Remembrance.
About the Book
“Poetry readers willing to walk the road of grief and family connections will find Grief Songs: Poems of Love & Remembrance a psychological treasure trove. It’s a very accessible poetic tribute that brings with it something to hold onto–the memories and foundations of past family joys, large and small.” ~Diane Donovan, Midwest Book Review
“Grief Songs: Poems of Love & Remembrance is a passionate ode to loved ones lost and an intimate portrayal of one family’s shared grief. It holds the key to solace in home photographs and illustrates just how special our singular moments can be. ~Toni Woodruff, Independent Book Review
“A beautiful, personal collection of family photos and poems that express the author’s most inner feelings. Nostalgic and heartfelt, Gauffreau’s poems are written in the Japanese style of tanka, simple, thoughtful, and full of love. Filled with wonderful memories of the past.” ~Kristi Elizabeth, Manhattan Book Review
Grief Songs: Poems of Love and Remembrance is a poetry collection written in Tanka form. After her mother passed away, Elizabeth Gauffreau cleaned up the “forbidden rooms” and found the “hidden photographs.” These are the photographs of the author and her father, mother, and brother George.
Grieving is a personal process that can last for any length of time. The memories of the loved ones could be fleeting or lingering moments, and the emotion of grieving could be of the surface or intensely deep.
In Grief Songs, the photos brought back the intensity of the precious memories to the author. Elizabeth expressed her grief in poetry. She paired the poems with each photo included in this collection.
One poem was about the author’s mother took her and George to the vaccination. Their mother gave the kids a treat of root beer floats for being good for the occasion. By the way, root beer is a soda, not a beer with alcohol! Another fun poem was about a youth group picnic when the author and her brother waited for their dad in the car after the picnic. Apparently, their dad didn’t come right away. They pressed the honk for so long that when their dad finally came back; the battery was dead. I loved the poem and the photo with Elizabeth and George sitting on their father’s lap for reading time as a nightly ritual. The lines were, “Waiting until your father gets home, not a threat but a promise.”
There were poems about Elizabeth as a kid for the first sacrament, confirmation, and baptism. What precious memories as she could see the history from the beginning of her life when father and mother holding her in their arms that led to her present life.
Family time such as clam bake at the beach and the family reunion always flashed back fond memories that ache the heart yet bring smiles on the face. The dying takes away a part of the ones left behind yet leaves them something sweet and long-lasting.
The poetry is a short read, yet the emotion of joy and sorrow lingers long after I put down the book. Highly recommended
Elizabeth Gauffreau writes fiction and poetry with a strong connection to family and place. She holds a B.A. in English from Old Dominion University and an M.A. in English/Fiction Writing from the University of New Hampshire. She is currently the Assistant Dean of Curriculum & Assessment for Champlain College Online, where she is an Associate Professor. Her fiction and poetry have been published in literary magazines and several themed anthologies. Her debut novel, Telling Sonny, was published by Adelaide Books in 2018. Liz lives in Nottingham, New Hampshire with her husband.
The 2021 WordCrafterParanormal Anthology, Where Spirits Linger, was released today – September 20, 2021!
Where Spirits Linger Authorswith Kaye Lynne Booth, editor
“I hope you will stay with us and follow thetour to each blog stop to learn more about the stories within to picque your interest. Of course, I hope you buy the book, but each comment you make along the way earns an entry into a random drawing for a free digital copy of Where Spirits Linger, so you could be our next lucky winner!” – Kayne Lynne Booth
I’m excited to host the tour on Day 2 featuring Roberta Eaton Cheadle’s piece “Listen to Instructions.”
I’ll let Roberta tell you about the process she went through to write her story. Here’s Roberta:
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The Location of “Listen to Instructions”
This year the WordCrafter short story challenge required a story built around a specific place. This was a new idea for me as my stories are usually built around an event or a character. Never before had I tried to write a story that focused primarily on the setting.
I went through my file of story ideas and came across a true South African haunting of a farmhouse in Stellenbosch in the Western Cape. The clip about this haunted house was only a few sentences long and involved a man who had stolen a large sum of gold coins. Following his death, the thief returned to haunt the house where he’d stowed the treasure.
This story interested me. I wondered if the ghost regretted stealing the money which led to his being trapped indefinitely in the nether world between life and death. Would the spirit take an opportunity of redemption if it was offered?
I wondered how any person who occupied the farmhouse and found the hidden money would feel about it? Would the finder keep the treasure, or hand it over to the state? How would the ghost react if his hidden horde was discovered?
From these thoughts and questions, my short story, Listen to Instruction, was borne.
Stellenbosch is a university town in the Western Cape province of South Africa. The town is surrounded by the vineyards of the Cape Winelands and the nature reserves of Jonkershoek and Simonsberg.
Stellenbosch was established in 1679 by Simon van der Stel, the governor of the Cape. He granted land in the vicinity of Stellenbosch to interested farmers. Stellenbosh officially became a village in 1682 and in 1685 it became the Cape’s second magistracy, with an authority that extended for 25,000 square kilometres. It is the second oldest European town in South Africa.
The farmers build Cape Dutch houses with graceful gables and irrigation furrows for their lovely gardens.
In 1690, some of the French Huguenots settled in Stellenbosch and planted the grapes that turned the town into the centre of the South African wine industry. Stellenbosch became an important educational hub in 1859 when the Dutch Reformed Church opened a seminary. The University of Stellenbosch was established in 1918.
Thank you, Roberta, for the interesting information. Now, here is my review of the story “Listen to Instructions.”
I listened to ghost stories with my dad when I was a kid. Once a week we stayed up late because the ghost broadcasting didn’t start until 11:00 p.m. A perfect hour to cuddle up next to someone in case I got scared. I still hear a vibrating voice announcing the Midnight Zone.
If you enjoy ghost stories, you’re into a treat with the new release of Where Spirits Linger, an anthology with Kaye Lynne Booth, Robbie Cheadle, Stevie Turner, Enid Holden, Sharon Kretschmer, and Crysta Planko.
We hear the cliché “RIP” (rest in peace) when someone passed away. Do all the spirits rest when people passed away. Will they have unfinished business to cause them to linger?
In Where Spirits Linger, Roberta Eaton Cheadle writes about the spirit of Simon Pienaar, who didn’t cross over to the other side of the world. He broke into someone’s home one night, killed the owner, and stole his collection of antique Kruger coins. The police arrested Simon Pienaar and charged him with murder, but nobody found the treasure.
Jake bought the 19th-century house owned by Simon Pienaar despite rumors and gossips about the haunted house and all the stories behind it. He got a bargain on an auction, planned to renovate it over time, and wanted to live there while he did so.
He soon found out the restless spirit haunted him by asking for help. He ignored the chilling voice that invaded his dreams night after night but finally asked what the ghost wanted him to do. It was Simon Pienaar’s spirit asking him to do something with the antique Kruger coins he had stolen. He gave instructions to Jake to help him take care of his unfinished business.
How hard could that be to help a ghost put the closure in his business? It’s not as easy as it seems, especially for following Simon’s specific instructions. Roberta will let you know Jake shouldn’t have messed around with Simon.
Roberta’s “Listen to Instructions” is entertaining, so are the rest of the ghost stories. Highly recommended for an evening reading. I received a free ARC to do an honest review.
After Tom and Michelle Cleveland move into their recently built, modern townhouse, their housewarming party is disrupted when a drunken game with an Ouija board goes wrong and summonses a sinister poltergeist, Estelle, who died in 1904.
Estelle makes her presence known in a series of terrifying events, culminating in her attacking Tom in his sleep with a knife. But Estelle isn’t alone. Who are the shadows lurking in the background – one in an old-fashioned slouch hat and the other, a soldier, carrying a rifle?
After discovering their house has been built on the site of one of the original farms in Irene, Michelle becomes convinced that the answer to her horrifying visions lies in the past. She must unravel the stories of the three phantoms’ lives, and the circumstances surrounding their untimely deaths during the Second Anglo Boer War, in order to understand how they are tied together and why they are trapped in the world of ghosts between life and death. As the reasons behind Estelle’s malevolent behavior towards Tom unfold, Michelle’s marriage comes under severe pressure and both their lives are threatened.
Through the Nethergate
Margaret, a girl born with second sight, has the unique ability to bring ghosts trapped between Heaven and Hell back to life. When her parents die suddenly, she goes to live with her beloved grandfather, but the cellar of her grandfather’s ancient inn is haunted by an evil spirit of its own.
In the town of Bungay, a black dog wanders the streets, enslaving the ghosts of those who have died unnatural deaths. When Margaret arrives, these phantoms congregate at the inn, hoping she can free them from the clutches of Hugh Bigod, the 12th century ghost who has drawn them away from Heaven’s White Light in his canine guise.
With the help of her grandfather and the spirits she has befriended, Margaret sets out to defeat Hugh Bigod, only to discover he wants to use her for his own ends – to take over Hell itself.
Roberta Eaton Cheadle is a South African writer and poet specializing in historical, paranormal, and horror novels and short stories. She is an avid reader in these genres and her writing has been influenced by famous authors including Bram Stoker, Edgar Allan Poe, Amor Towles, Stephen Crane, Enrich Maria Remarque, George Orwell, Stephen King, and Colleen McCullough.
Roberta has short stories and poems in several anthologies and has 2 published novels, Through the Nethergate, a historical supernatural fantasy, and A Ghost and His Gold, a historical paranormal novel set in South Africa.
Roberta has 9 children’s books published under the name Robbie Cheadle.
Roberta was educated at the University of South Africa where she achieved a Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1996 and a Honours Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1997. She was admitted as a member of The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants in 2000.
Roberta has worked in corporate finance from 2001 until the present date and has written 7 publications relating to investing in Africa. She has won several awards over her 20-year career in the category of Transactional Support Services.
The haiku is my favorite form of poetry. It has been part of my life for almost two decades. I have written hundreds of them. However, it is not the reason why I opted for the haiku for this new collection. And this is what I would like to share with you today.
In the English-speaking world, when people think of the haiku, they may remember what they were taught in school: a short poem of three lines that follows the 7-5-7 syllable pattern. The seasonal reference (‘kigo’) and “cutting word” (‘kireji’) may be mentioned, but the obsessive focus remains on the 17 syllables. If your haiku does not contain those 17 lines, it does not qualify as such. This is wrong.
The haiku was invented in Japan. Japanese poets count in phonetic sounds or units called ‘on’, ‘onji’ or ‘morae’, which are different from English syllables. An “English syllable may contain one, two or three morae” to quote Wikipedia. In his excellent book titled The Haiku Handbook, William J. Higginson states that the 17 onji of traditional haiku are about 12 syllables in English. Other books talk about the number of words and recommend sticking to 8-12 words.
There is something liberating in knowing that you do not have to stick to a rigid syllable pattern when you write haiku. Your creativity is suddenly unleashed.
The haiku is an intimate form of poetry that goes beyond its syllable count. To write a memorable haiku, you need to understand the importance of conciseness and simple language, and how to leverage the kigo to evoke a specific mood. Every word counts!
A haiku does not just freeze a scene in time. It also implicitly reveals the author’s innermost feelings at that precise moment. As such, it tells a story about the human journey.
Ultimately, that’s what Kahlil Gibran and Alphonse de Lamartine successfully did with their writing. They were driven by a desire to awaken the human spirit. And that is what the haiku allows me to do.
Thank you for reading!
NB: Wondering who Kahlil Gibran and Alphonse de Lamartine are? Read my posts here and here.
Originating from Japan, the Haiku has been a source of inspiration and comfort for people of all ages and from all walks of life for many years. This versatile poetry form is cherished around the world. Inspired by the timeless words of authors Kahlil Gibran and Alphonse de Lamartine, After the Fires of Day is a hymn to life, the emotion of the moment, and our connection to nature. Every haiku in Cendrine Marrouat’s collection is sure to stay with you for a very long time…
Formats: ebook and paperback
Release date: September 7, 2021
Availability: Everywhere books are sold, including Amazon, Kobo, Apple, Chapters-Indigo, Barnes & Noble, and FNAC. Readers are encouraged to support independent
Cendrine Marrouat is a French-born Canadian photographer, poet, and the multi-genre author of more than 30 books. In 2019, she founded the PoArtMo Collective and co-founded Auroras & Blossoms with David Ellis. A year later, they launched PoArtMo (Positive Art Month and Positive Art Moves) and created the Kindku and Pareiku, two forms of poetry.
Cendrine is also the creator of the Sixku, the Flashku, and the Reminigram. Cendrine writes both in French and English and has worked in many different fields in her 17-year career, including translation, language instruction, journalism, art reviews, and social media.
It’s my pleasure to have Robbie Cheadle on my blog today to celebrate her new release.
Dear friends, please join me to welcome Robbie and her new book Behind Closed Doors, a Collection of Unusual Poems.
I’ll let Robbie tell you about her book cover, the title, and the different aspects of the poems. Here’s Robbie:
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The cover of a book and its title are both important selling points.
The cover needs to be eye catching, suit the genre, and hit at what the book is about. My previous poetry book is called Open a New Door, a phrase taken from the song Open a New Window from the musical production of Mame starring Angela Ladsbury and Beatrice Arthur.
I first listened to my mom’s record of Mame when I was a little girl of five. My mom had numerous records most of which were Broadway musicals, but Mame was always my favourite. I loved this song the best. It is rejection of the run-of-the-mill ordinary life and a quest for something new and exciting.
I wanted to retain the doors concept for my second poetry book, Behind Closed Doors, even though it had a different focus. The poems in this new book look at the various parts of my life and what effectively goes on behind those doors that are closed to social media and the world.
The poems are collected into the categories of In the Boardroom, In death, In my mind, In relationships, In lockdown, and In nature. I wanted a cover that would complement the idea of the many doors into people’s lives and souls so when I saw this cover of multiple multi-coloured doors designed by Teagan R Geneviene, I knew this was the one.
The doors in many different colours suited my own personal idea that the doors in peoples live come in different shares. Some are the yellow, pinks, and oranges of joy, the reds of love, the blues and greens of comfort and coolness, and the purples of sadness and depression.
What are your thoughts about the importance of covers? Tell me in the comments.
Thank you, Robbie!
Now, here is the book information
What goes on behind closed doors: in the boardroom, after death, in the home, during lockdown, and in nature? This collection of poems, ranging from rhyming verse to twisted nursery rhymes, captures the emotions and thoughts people hide behind the masks they present to the world.
What thoughts are hidden
Behind her immobile face
Eyes cold and indifferent
Scrutinising me – hawk like
This book includes some of Robbie Cheadle’s spectacular fondant art and cakes.
I’ve read Robbie Cheadle’s first poetry book Open a New Door and loved it. I knew I would enjoy reading Behind Closed Door. I’ve also read Cheadle’s children’s books, a young adult fictionalized biography about her mother’s life, and her historical fiction. She is a prolific writer while maintaining her demanding full-time job and home-schooling of the two teenage boys during the pandemic.
Behind Closed Doors is a poetry collection with themes about the author’s complex emotions and thoughts on her cooperated world, her personal dreams, her family life as a daughter, wife, and mother, as well as her thoughts on the lockdown during the pandemic.
Robbie is a qualified Chartered Accountant and specializes in corporate finance. The poem “Climbing Cooperated Ladder” vividly portraits the harsh reality of the cooperated world. Many individuals give up their family and social life to meet the never-ending demands with no guarantee of success:
“Sit in your office, juggling ideas and possibilities, while your friends watch movies, eat out, drink, and socialize, spending their weekends having a jolly good time.”
“There are no friendships in the corporate jungle Colleagues left to demise in this uncaring world.”
It reminds me of the headache, heartache, and disappointment during my ten years in administration.
I could relate to the poem “He Walks Away” that describes the mother’s joy, pride, and pain:
“She watched over him tenderly as he learned about life… her smile healed all wounds; her kiss cured all pain…
“It’s heart-wrenching to let go knowing he must… encounter setbacks and loss before success… but it’s the duty of a mother to set her son loose to fly alone.”
Cheadle’s poems about lockdown remind us how vulnerable life is. “One day I had freedom, the next, it was gone. How will this end? I find myself wondering, Will we take a big step backward in time fifty years or more?”
Cheadle’s Behind Closed Doors is a delightful hour-long short read, but the provoking thought will stay for a long time. I highly recommend this book to poetry lovers and non-fiction readers.
Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with 9 children’s books and 1 poetry book.
The 7 Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.
Robbie has also published 2 books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.
Robbie has 2 adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories in the horror and paranormal genre and poems included in several anthologies.
Robbie writes a monthly series for https://writingtoberead.com called Growing Bookworms. This series discusses different topics relating to the benefits of reading to children.
I’m delighted to have my exercise buddy Jacqui Murray on my blog. Jacqui and I use Strava to track our exercise, cheer and give kudo to each other.
Today Jacqui will share with us about her new release Laws of Nature, book 2 of the Dawn of Humanity trilogy. Please join me to welcome Jacqui and help her celebrate the great success of her research-based prehistorical fiction.
Laws of Nature: A boy blinded by fire. A woman raised by wolves. An avowed enemy offers help.
On the right side of Jacqui’s blog, she has scheduled the publication of her next four books in 2022, 2023, 2024, and 2026. Have you wondered how she could keep up the schedule?
I asked her to share with us about her writing day, and here isher answer.
My Writing DayBy Jacqui Murray
Much of my day is spent writing, either freelance articles, client reviews, guest posts, or working on one of my many fiction and nonfiction WIP. Any leftover time goes to marketing what I’ve written–trying to get the word out to as many people as possible. That includes outreach, responding to inquiries, interactions with fellow writers, and exploring new marketing channels.
Since I work out of my house, I like to break my day into three parts:
I consign tasks to each portion of the day, stopping for lunch and dinner and a few breaks to pet the dog. Because I’m not writing to a deadline (as is required by agents or publishers), I don’t count words like some writing efriends. I count what I get done.
Here’s a rough list of tasks that I sprinkle throughout my writing week:
In this second of the Dawn of Humanity trilogy, the first trilogy in the Man vs. Nature saga, Lucy and her eclectic group escape the treacherous tribe that has been hunting them and find a safe haven in the famous Wonderwerk caves in South Africa. Though they don’t know it, they will be the oldest known occupation of caves by humans. They don’t have clothing, fire, or weapons, but the caves keep them warm and food is plentiful. But they can’t stay, not with the rest of the tribe enslaved by an enemy. To free them requires not only the prodigious skills of Lucy’s unique group–which includes a proto-wolf and a female raised by the pack–but others who have no reason to assist her and instinct tells Lucy she shouldn’t trust.
Set 1.8 million years ago in Africa, Lucy and her tribe struggle against the harsh reality of a world ruled by nature, where predators stalk them and a violent new species of man threatens to destroy their world. Only by changing can they prevail. If you ever wondered how earliest man survived but couldn’t get through the academic discussions, this book is for you. Prepare to see this violent and beautiful world in a way you never imagined.
A perfect book for fans of Jean Auel and the Gears!
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular prehistoric fiction saga, Man vs. Nature which explores seminal events in man’s evolution one trilogy at a time. She is also the author of the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers and Building a Midshipman , the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. Her non-fiction includes over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, reviews as an Amazon Vine Voice, a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Natural Selection, Winter 2022.
I’m excited to have Denise L. Finn on my blog to share with you about her new releaseTree Fairies and Their Short Stories. She’ll also share with you about her love of nature, the forest where she resides, and the facts about the redwood trees.
Thank you, Miriam for having me and the fairies here today to celebrate “Tree Fairies and Their Short Stories” release day!
Tree Fairies and Their Short Stories is set in a place I adore. I have a deep love of nature and have lived in the forest for 31 years. Although, I visit the ocean often, as it still calls to me. I have considered living in the trees above the sea… maybe someday. Redwood forests have always felt magical to me, and anytime I can visit one, I do.
For Mother’s Day 30 years ago, I received a sequoia tree to add to our forest. It has grown faster than I expected, and with it comes that redwood/sequoia magic that is so strong in my story.
Here are some redwood tree facts:
1. They can grow to over 200 feet tall.
2. They are believed to have been around in California for over 20 million years.
3. There are redwoods over 2000 years old still standing.
4. They are resistant to insects, fires, and rot.
5. There are three types of redwood trees: Dawn Redwood, Giant Sequoia, and Coastal Redwood (this is the one in my story.)
Fun Finn Facts:
The forest sounds at night from foxes and mountain lions are chilling.
I’ve driven through a giant redwood.
When reality and magic meet in the forest
It’s 1969, and twelve-year-old Daniel Burns is camping in the redwood forest with his family. Danny wants to listen to his music and read, but his family has other plans. S’mores around the campfire and stories end their first day. The family is sleeping soundly in their secluded tent when Danny wakes up and finds his sister, Colette, is missing. Assuming she went to use the outhouse, he goes after her. When he finds his sister, they discover there is a thin veil between reality and fantasy.
Two bonus short stories offer a glimpse into the magical world that finds Danny and Colette. These hidden beings not only share our world but have a role in protecting their forest.
“I had a dream about them,” I replied before I could stop myself.
Colette was studying the treetops like she was hoping to find fairies.
Dad tossed me another marshmallow. “Tell us about it, Danny.”
I pushed the dirt around with my sneaker. “I don’t think—”
“Please! For me? Pretty please with sugar on top!” Colette’s eagerness was contagious.
“It’s just a dream, but I guess I could try to tell it like a story. You know, because we’re around the campfire and all.”
“Good idea! Thank you for sharing this with us.” Mom’s smile gave me the courage I needed.
“Well, okay, but don’t expect much. I’m not a writer like you.” I cleared my throat and finished my cherry Kool-Aid. The silence was heavy with expectation, which made my palms sweat, but part of me wanted them to hear this. So, I took a deep breath and started. “There is a forest where the fairies live in the trees. No one sees them except the squirrels and birds. Until one day, this boy and his family were camping in the woods. The boy went off by himself while wishing he had his tunes to listen to on his new radio. Bummed, he sat down below one of those giant redwood trees.
“He hung out for a while, watching two squirrels run up and down a tree. A nearby stream and a bird’s tune lulled him to sleep until a small branch hit his nose, waking him up. Rubbing his nose, he looked around and saw a bird directly above him. He shrugged and sank back against the tree and fell asleep again.
“Another branch hit him, startling him awake. This time there was no bird, so it had to be a squirrel. The sun had set, and the moon was rising. Soon it would be dark. He knew it was time to get back to his campsite, but he heard humming coming from above as he got up.
“He squinted and tilted his head back. All that he could see were needles, branches, and a darkening sky. He turned to head back to camp when a female voice began singing. It was beautiful, like he imagined an angel’s voice would sound, but he couldn’t understand the words. That’s when he saw the colors and thought they were dragonflies until they got within a few feet of his face. They were tiny, humanlike beings with silver wings. He almost fainted when the green one spoke to him.
“‘Hello . . .’ I reached out to her, and then I woke up, so that’s the end.”
D. L. Finn is an independent California local who encourages everyone to embrace their inner child. She was born and raised in the foggy Bay Area, but in 1990 she relocated with her husband, kids, dogs, and cats to Nevada City, in the Sierra foothills. She immersed herself in reading all types of books but especially loved romance, horror, and fantasy. She always treasured creating her own reality on paper. Finally, surrounded by towering pines, oaks, and cedars, her creativity was nurtured until it bloomed. Her creations include adult fiction, poetry, a unique autobiography, and children’s books. She continues on her adventure with an open invitation to all readers to join her.
I’m excited to have Darlene Foster on my blog to share with you about her new release Amanda in Malta: The Sleeping Lady (An Amanda Travels Adventure Book 8). When Amanda turned twelve, she made a wish as she blew the birthday cake candles. Here she is with her wishes come true – traveling all over the world.
I was curious about writing the Amanda series, so I asked Darlene to share with you her experience.
Is it difficult to write a series?
Writing a series can be fun. I love getting to know the main characters, Amanda Ross and her friend Leah Anderson. But I worry that the stories might get too predictable. I know my readers expect some things to be familiar, but each book needs to come with something new to keep it fresh and entertaining.
Coming up with new settings is easy for me as I love to travel. I often travel with an Amanda adventure in mind, taking tons of notes and pictures to be referred to later when writing the story. Coming up with a storyline that is original and exciting is not always easy.
A few things that have helped me get new ideas:
● Hanging out with young people to learn what they get excited about. I get many of my ideas from young people.
● Watching TV shows and movies that feature kids, but not necessarily kids’ shows. I once got a great idea while watching Midsommer Murders!
● Reading lots of books in a variety of genres including the classics as well as recently published novels, both adult and children´s books.
● Reading newspapers and magazine articles. I clip and save interesting and bizarre stories and go through the stack of clippings once in a while. There is usually something that will pop out and generate a new idea or two.
● Listening to conversations in coffee shops, on the bus, on the street, on the beach – wherever. Conversations between adults, kids, or teenagers can inspire excellent ideas. I have become great at eavesdropping.
● Asking “what if” often. What if Amanda did something she knew she shouldn’t? What if a character said something they wouldn’t normally say? What if she walked down that alley? What if…?. Sometimes a character has to do something out of character to keep it interesting.
● Making sure every book tackles at least one new problem or issue.
● Introducing intriguing new characters in each book. Even minor characters can create interest and keep the series from getting stale.
● Bringing back a character from a previous book. I introduced Caleb, Amanda´s classmate, in the New Mexico book. He was so popular that he has returned in the Malta book.
● Being consistent in the details can be a challenge. A good memory helps, as do notes. I had Amanda wearing glasses in the first book and I don’t think I mentioned them in the next two! I have a list of all the characters names to be sure I don´t accidentally change any.
The twelve-year-old Amanda is a world traveler who visited an exotic island in the middle of the Mediterranean. It came as a surprise when she received a postcard from her best friend Leah asking her to come to Malta, hinting there was something wrong. She did not know how to get to Malta from Canada. Her friend Caleb and his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Sorensen, were going on a vacation in Malta and would like Amanda to come along.
After arriving in Malta, Amanda went to find the house according to the address from the postcard but was told Leah was not there. It was like in some detective story that a mystery boy slipped a piece of paper written with lipsticks into her pocket, urged her to try again. It turned out that Leah asked this boy, Max, to connect with Leah to meet at St. Lucian Tower. The Sorensens wanted to go to a museum. While they toured the cave, Amanda went to the Tower and saw Leah. Leah revealed that the people in the house where they stayed wanted her aunt to steal an ancient figurine of Sleeping Lady.
I find that Darlene’s book is educational for middle schoolers and adults. I followed the tour along and learned many interesting facts about this island.
· Ghar Dalam means ‘cave of darkness’ and It is over 500,000 years old. It holds evidence of the first humans on the island, such as Neanderthal teeth, from 7,400 years ago.
· The Falconry Center has many rescued birds. Maltese falcon is called the peregrine falcon, known for its speed, it can reach over 320 kilometers per hour or 200 miles per hour.
· the Knights of St. John built The St. John Cathedral in 1572. As each knight gained wealth, he and his family donated art and decorations. The inlaid marble graves showed many knights were buried here.
· The 1980 Robert Williams’ Popeye movie was filmed in Malta.
Amanda’s crime adventure weaved through the sightseeing and the historical facts made this reading interesting and enjoyable. I highly recommend this book.
Amanda receives a postcard from her best friend, Leah, and is surprised to learn that she is in Malta with her aunt. Reading between the lines, she senses Leah is in trouble. Desperate to help her, Amanda travels to Malta with her classmate Caleb and his parents.
Amanda is intrigued by this exotic island in the middle of the Mediterranean, full of colorful history, sun-drenched limestone fortresses, stunning beaches and fascinating birds. But…who is killing the protected birds? Who stole a priceless artifact from the museum? And why is Leah acting so strange? She couldn’t possibly be involved in these illegal activities, or could she?
Join Amanda and her friends as they visit ancient temples, an exciting falconry and the enchanting Popeye Village, as they try to get to the bottom of the mystery of the Sleeping Lady.
Be sure to read all the books in this exciting Amanda Travels series! 1. Amanda in Arabia: The Perfume Flask 2. Amanda in Spain: The Girl in the Painting 3. Amanda in England: The Missing Novel 4. Amanda in Alberta: The Writing on the Stone 5. Amanda on the Danube: The Sounds of Music 6. Amanda in New Mexico: Ghosts in the Wind 7. Amanda in Holland: Missing in Action 8. Amanda in Malta: The Sleeping Lady
Darlene Foster grew up on a ranch in Alberta, Canada, where her love of reading inspired her to see the world and write stories about a young girl who travels to interesting places. Over the years she worked in rewarding jobs such as an employment counsellor, ESL teacher, recruiter, and retail manager, writing whenever she had a few spare minutes. She is now retired and has a house in Spain where she writes full time. When not travelling, meeting interesting people, and collecting ideas for her books, she enjoys spending time with her husband and entertaining rescue dogs, Dot and Lia.
I’m delighted to Welcome Breakfield and Burkey to Day 9 of “THE ENIGMA THREAT” Release Blog Tour! @enigmaseries @1rburkey @4WillsPub @4WP11 @RRBC_Org #RRBC
Please leave a comment to win:
(1) $25 Amazon Gift card
(10) e-book copies of the “shorts” in the Enigma Series
I invited my guests to introduce themselves and their book to you.
We want to talk about our inspiration for writing.
The paradox about being a writer is that you must be a reader as well. Inspiration for Breakfield and Burkey comes from the daily consumption of written words for work and pleasure, as well as thoughts from other writers and podcasters.
Each of us receives a daily stream of material for blog posts, correspondence from colleagues, technical presentations from vendors, and books from other authors. We read, listen, and see a great deal of material during our work week. We use these three media types then aggregate the data onto the idea conveyor belt that feeds our imaginations. Current events from streaming media, voice actor audio reviews, reading reviews on our work, and non-technical publications discussing world economics or security are all excellent sources of ideas for our storylines.
Each of these informational feeds provides a level of research snippets into the real world. These are not like deep-dive research with cross-checking you might require for a historical novel, but they often capture our imaginations and drive us to research further. This is especially true with emerging technologies we are exposed to for solving our customers’ problems.
A perfect example of real-world input that impacts one of our novels was the buzz around cryptocurrencies, built on the underlying blockchain technology. This is a complex subject that is applied in multiple ways. However, we were interested in all the speculation of the various currencies, which made us do some more in-depth research into the history of it and how each operates.
As this was in progress, we started looking at the vulnerabilities blockchain has around cryptocurrency applications. Finally, we explored how their adoption in different locations around the world would affect our global economy. After we completed that research, we launched into the fictional aspects of what could happen when the cyber bad guys drive toward their specific agenda of power and greed.
We then took this research a step further to create an intriguing story of competing cryptocurrency providers. We introduced bad actors from the Darknet that had motives of corruption, power, greed, and control. Voilà, you have the concept of our TechnoThriller, story The Enigma Source. See how easy that was? J
Admittedly cryptocurrency is an easy technology to find greed lurking nearby. Money and materialism tend to work together. The whole focus of artificial intelligence and machine learning captured our attention as more vendors were offering solutions with those technical capabilities at the foundation. The promise of we’ll do that for you sounds the alarm bells in our minds. The evolution of technology takes aspects and then builds upon them to be more and do more.
Machine learning is best accomplished with oodles of data to learn from. We have that in bulk with social media today. Think about the content of social media. If this is being used as the classroom for artificial intelligence, what is it learning? If the computer creators using these capabilities goals are misaligned to societal norms, then the end game could be unexpected.
We took this as the foundational basis for our newest story, The Enigma Threat. This book has cyber heroes battling cyber thugs from the Darknet, both with supercomputers as resources doing their bidding. It is a battle of wits from machines, some have guardrails, and some do not. You’ll need to read to learn all the details or listen as the ebook, paperback, and audible will be available on January 8th, 2021. We also have launched a Kickstarter campaign to help start work on a screenplay for this book. We invite you to check it out to support or share it with your friends. The campaign has additional information about the story and a book trailer you might enjoy.
Make no mistake, we are inspired by the world around us and the technology we use to live, work and play.
In the new digital world, there is no tolerance for privately owned supercomputers. Globally, computers are hunted and destroyed for the greater good, by the new cyber police CESPOOL. The information this group receives is manipulated by subversive hidden machine learning devices, the MAG running on the dark net.
Judith and Xiamara are freebooters who steal machine time for their PaaS, porn as a service business. The machine they chose for delivery is the last untapped supercomputer not in the hands of a sovereign. Their activity is spotted by the MAG, but the renegade R-Group steps in to alter the outcome. Leroy teams up with Zara to help these opportunists escape prosecution. They are drafted as reluctant participants in the fight.
Jacob and Quip are trapped in the Chihuahuan Desert trying to reconstruct the base of ICABOD’s logic core. The stress of their isolation is taking a toll. Their wives and children are safe in Brazil for the time being, but Interpol is prowling for answers.
The R-Group has assembled a way to communicate with orphaned satellites. While the next R-Group plans the ultimate honey pot to trap their nemesis who is driving their corrupted agenda. The odds are against R-Group’s success, but they have creative surprises on their side.
The stakes have never been higher. The R-Group young and old must rise to defeat the MAG.
About the Authors
Breakfield is a 25+ year technology expert in security, networking, voice, and anything digital. He enjoys writing, studying World War II history, travel, and cultural exchanges. He’s also a fan of wine tastings, winemaking, Harley riding, cooking extravaganzas, and woodworking.
Burkey is a 25+ year applied technology professional who excels at optimizing technology and business investments. She works with customers all over the world focusing on optimized customer experiences. She writes white papers and documentation, but found she has a marked preference for writing fiction.
Together they create award-winning stories that resonate with males and females, as well as young and experienced adults. They bring a fresh new view to technology possibilities today.
To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the authors’ tour pageon the 4WillsPublishing site. If you’d like to book your own blog tour and have your book promoted in similar grand fashion, please clickHERE. Thanks for supporting these authors and their work!
Hello! My friends and visitors! Welcome to my blog!
I’m excited to have Jan Sikes here today. It’s my pleasure to share with you the great news of her new release. The holiday is upon us and her book is the best holiday gift ever! Please join me to welcome Jan.
Hi Jan! What an honor to have you as my guest today. Please tell us about your new book.
Hi, Miriam! Thank you for sharing your blog space with me today so that I can talk about my new book. I deeply appreciate it!
One of the scenes in Ghostly Interference included Jag Peters purchasing a book of poetry for Rena Jett. He wanted something that would help comfort, and start the healing process after losing her brother, Sam Jett, in the war in Afghanistan.
As I am sure you know, you cannot quote someone else’s work within your own body of work. So, I had to create a poem to include in a specific scene.
I had to do the same thing with song lyrics as you also cannot quote someone else’s song lyrics within your work without their written permission. With the song lyrics, I only had to create lines, not the whole song.
Excerpt 1: Poetry
She filled her coffee cup and sat down at the table. The poetry book Jag had bought her lay at one end and she reached for it, lightly running her fingers over the cover.
The book fell open to a poem entitled “Next to You.”
You cannot see me or touch me
But I’m standing next to you
Your tears can only hurt me
Your sadness makes me blue
Be brave and show a smiling face
Let not your grief show through
I love you from a different place
Yes, I’m standing next to you.
As she read the words, tears flowed. “Oh Sam,” she whispered. “You’re here. I just know it. But I can’t help but wish your body was here too. You’d get along great with Jag, even though he’s very different from us. He said he loves me and I think I’m falling for him too.”
Excerpt 2 – Song Lyrics:
The years of working at Granite Technology seemed like an eternity ago. Quitting that job was perhaps the best thing he’d ever done.
Almost colliding with Rena had been totally out of his control and yet a life changing event so big he could never have imagined it.
How could he not have known he needed something more than just the job security and safe circle of family and friends? And yet someone somewhere in the Universe knew.
Knew that he and Rena Jett needed each other. He was grateful that their two worlds had collided. Grateful for divine intervention.
Inspired, he reached for pen and paper. With one hand on the keys and the other holding the pen, he composed the beginning of a tender love song.
“I didn’t know I needed you. I didn’t have a clue. I imagined I was happy, but my window had no view…”
Hours passed before he stopped and stretched. He flipped the switch and covered the instrument.
“Let me hear you sing something. I’ve got a feeling you have a good voice.”
“Okay. I’m more than a little nervous, but I’ll give it a shot. I’ll sing something I wrote just the other day.”
Damien raised his eyebrows. “You write too? That’s fantastic. Let me hear it.”
Jag avoided looking at Damien while he played and sang the song he’d written for Rena. He tagged the ending. “And you can’t see tomorrow through yesterday’s eyes.”
Damien clapped. “Oh hell! That was great! Do you have more? I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging, but I can get them heard by some heavy-hitters if you’re interested.”
“I’ve written quite a few over the years. I hadn’t thought of trying to do anything with them. I just write to express my feelings.”
“That’s all any of us do. With every song I write, every guitar lick I play and every performance, I give a little of myself away. That’s what music is. And the key to the whole deal is making people feel it. Then they become a part of the song and a part of you.”
“That’s beautiful, Damien.” He stared at the man who’d walked into his life.
Damien laughed. “Don’t get too serious on me. But it’s true. Hey, let’s play some more.”
Have you ever had to create poems or song lyrics to weave into your stories? I’d love for you to share it in the comment if you have.
You’re so talented, Jan. You not only write books, but poems, and song lyrics also. I loved the excerpts you included here.
Here is the book information.
Jag Peters has one goal in his quiet comfortable life—to keep his karma slate wiped clean. A near-miss crash with a candy apple red Harley threatens to upend his safe world. He tracks down the rider to apologize properly. Slipping into a seedy biker bar, he discovers the rider isn’t a “he”, it’s a “she”, a dark-haired beauty.
Rena Jett is a troubled soul, who lives in a rough world. She wants no part of Jag’s apology, but even while she pushes him away, she is attracted to him. When he claims to see a ghost—her brother—can she trust him? And could her brother’s final gift, a magical rune stone with the symbol for “happily ever after” have the power to heal her wounds and allow opposites to find common ground—perhaps even love?