animals/Books/fiction/Random and interesting items/writing/authors/interview/crime fiction

Dick Lochte talks about his Sleeping Dogs:

Can you tell your readers something about why you chose this particular topic to write about? What appealed to you about it? Why do you think it is different and your approach is unique?

Originally, my book SLEEPING DOG would have had a much different title. I got the idea for the book from an article in the Los Angeles Times about racehorses being stolen in California and transported into Mexico where they would literally be run to death in small tracks there. The plot popped into my head: when a teenage boy’s beloved animal is horsenapped by a Mexican cartel, he and a grumpy, not-entirely-sober horse trainer would undergo a series of adventures searching for the horse.  Alas, the book and especially the popular film BLACK STALLION appeared suddenly and it seemed the boy, the trainer and the horse story, while considerably different from mine, was not different enough. I put the concept aside for a while, but one morning a local television news show carried a feature about dogs that were being stolen locally to be used to train illegal fighting dogs. I thought I could have my young heroine, Serendipity Dalquist, discover her dog is missing. After getting the run-around from the police she decides to hire the human bloodhound, private eye Leo Bloodworth, to find the dog. He refuses. His sleazy office mate, takes the case and is murdered.  And Serendipity’s and Leo’s adventures begin.

 As for my approach, I decided to play with the first person narrative, letting Serendipity and Leo narrate their own chapters, not always agreeing on what really happened.

How long do you think about a topic before deciding to write about it? Do you have a set of notes or a note book where you write down topics that appeal before making a decision as to which topic this time?

I get an idea for a story (from news reports, a person I notice on the street, a comment someone makes, whatever). I don’t think too much of it at the time, but if it persists, I’ll spend a few minutes spinning it around and either wind up discarding it or noting it down in an “Ideas” file. Most of these remain in the file, but on rare occasions, two or more of the ideas seem to coalesce. And that will be my next book.     

 How long does it take to research a topic before you write? And for this book?

A friend says he believes research to be a writer’s tar baby: you can get so caught up in it, the book is never written.  That won’t happen to me. I keep research at a minimum, either by writing about things I know very well, making stuff up, or by spending quality time with my good assistant Google.

 SLEEPING DOG was a different situation. Written before Google’s Sergey Brin and Larry Page were even in their teens, it required a number of hours in neighbourhood libraries studying maps of California, current news about dogfights and dog thefts, the 1960s hippie movement, banking conventions, conversations with members of the Los Angeles Police Department, a working private detective, bankers, and visits to various locations in Southern and Northern California.

What resources do you use? In general and for the last book that you wrote?

See answer to 3.

How helpful do you find authority figures such as the police when you say you want to write about them? Is there a good way to approach them in your experience?

The easy way to get cooperation from the police is to go through their public relations department. That’s true for business executives, too. But you have to be very careful in making your request sound as if your subject’s contribution will benefit the organization.

How many times have you been rejected before your first novel was accepted or before this book was accepted?

SLEEPING DOG was my first novel. On the first week it was submitted, it was turned down by one publisher and purchased almost immediately by another.

Did you need to self-publish on e-books before a publisher took you up?

No.  All of my book originally have been brought out by publishers.

Would you recommend self-publishing and building an audience before approaching a publisher? If so, what benefits do you see that it might have for the aspiring novelist?

Sorry, but I have no practical experience in self-publishing. If you want an uneducated opinion, I would recommend an aspiring novelist submit her or his work to a publisher first.  The success of 50 SHADES and the handful of other examples of self-publishing best sellers strike me as rare as white alligators. 

Does writing provide sufficient income to live on? And how long did it take before this happened?

I’d say the income will probably not be sufficient enough. SLEEPING DOG was a fairly successful first novel that went into three printings and earned a very nice paperback advance, along with an advance for the next two novels. That, and the very quick option of film rights, meant I could cut back on journalism, which was my occupation at the time.  But many of my writer friends have continued their day jobs. And that’s another plus for the writing profession: you don’t have to give up the day job. 

What is the best piece of advice you were given that you could pass on to aspiring writers?

The advice is painfully simple: finish the book. Don’t keep polishing that first chapter until it shines. Don’t get four or five chapters down and set it aside to start “something more saleable.” Don’t talk yourself into turning your idea into a screenplay. Write the book, all 90,000 words. And then show what you’ve done to the most critical person you know – preferably someone with no empathy affect. You don’t have to agree with everything they say, but if they trigger any doubts, pay attention to them.

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Books/blogtour/Fantasy/fiction/Random and interesting items

Arcane Forest: Blogtour

Arcane Banner Large - Arcane Forest: Blogtour

97899988877771 200x300 - Arcane Forest: BlogtourTitle: Arcane Forest Anthology
W.J. May, Chrissy Peebles, C.J. Pinard, Kristen Middleton, Karen De Havin, Kaitlyn Davis, Emma Shade, Kate Thomas & Natasha Brown
Publication Date:
March 19, 2015

Get Lost in Worlds of Fantasy and Awe

Read 9 different first books from 9 different Fantasy (romance) series. We hope you enjoy the books you are about to read and meet some new characters to love!

Note: Some of these books are part 1 and may end on cliff hangers.

Book 1 by W.J. May – Rae of Hope
Book 2 by Chrissy Peebles – Eternal Vows
Book 3 by Kaitlyn Davis – The Golden Cage
Book 4 by C.J. Pinard – Enchanted Immortals
Book 5 by Kristen Middleton – Wicked
Book 6 by Karin De Havin – Jin in Time
Book 7 by Natasha Brown – Fledgling
Book 8 by Emma Shade – Finding Obscurity
Book 9 by Kate Thomas – Resounding Truth

iTunes | Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

Author Bios

Kaityln Davis
Bestselling author Kaitlyn Davis writes young adult fantasy novels under the name Kaitlyn Davis and contemporary romance novels under the name Kay Marie. Always blessed with an overactive imagination, Kaitlyn has been writing ever since she picked up her first crayon and is overjoyed to share her work with the world. When she’s not daydreaming, typing stories, or getting lost in fictional worlds, Kaitlyn can be found indulging in some puppy videos, watching a little too much television, or spending time with her family.

Author Links:

Website | Facebook Fan Page | Amazon Author Page

Natasha Brown
Natasha Brown was born in Nevada City, California. Being an only child, she resorted to using her imagination while exploring the forest surrounding her home (a nasty habit she hasn’t been able to break). Her natural interest in fantasy ignited when her parents read The Hobbit to her as a youth, and from then on anything seemed possible. Once awarded with a Hershey’s bar ‘the size of a Buick’ in her high school English class for creative writing, her passion and interest in literature has never dimmed.

She now lives in Littleton, Colorado with her husband, two children, and two dogs.

Author Links:

Facebook | Twitter | Blog

CJ Pinard
A little about me – I’m a west coast native who has lived on both coasts and now lives near the middle, in Colorado! Coming from a family of writers and editors, I feel writing is in my blood and hope people will lose themselves for a little while in the fantasy and fun of my stories. I also love sweet red wine, the SF 49ers, and unlike most authors, I don’t have any cats. When I’m not writing, I can be found chasing around my kids or working at my day job, which I totally feel interferes with my real life, but it also gives me inspiration for my books, since reality is sometimes way more interesting than fiction.

I also love getting notifications that people have sent me an email, added me on (like page) Facebook or (friend page) Facebook or on Goodreads. So stop by and say hi – don’t be shy! I’m not! Email me at:

Author Links:

Find me:
Like me:
Follow me:

Karin De Havin
Karin De Havin is a historian, turned writer. Karin writes Young Adult fantasies as well as New Adult contemporary stories from her timber frame home in the Pacific Northwest. She lives with a pair of tuxedo cats that like to help her write by jumping on the keyboard, and her pianist husband who occasionally is known to wear a tuxedo and tinker with the keyboard too.

Follow the latest news about new releases at:
Karin De Havin website

Karin loves to hear from her readers.
Contact her on her Facebook Fan Page.

Emma Shade
Emma lives in Indiana with her husband and three crazy cats. She’s currently pursuing a degree in Visual Communications with Photography. When she’s not busy writing her next novel or doing college homework, Emma enjoys curling up with a good book.

Author Links:

Author’s Website

Kristen Middleton
Kristen Middleton lives in the Midwest and enjoys writing Horror and Fantasy, as well as Contemporary Romance. Since 2011, she has written over nineteen books, many which have been translated into other languages. Kristen also writes gritty biker stories under the pen name of Cassie Alexandra.

Author Links:
Facebook | Amazon | Website

WJ May
Wanita May grew up in the fruit belt of Ontario – St.Catharines. Crazy-happy childhood, she always has had a vivid imagination and loads of energy.

Wanita and her husband run an online business, dealing in antiques and collectables – particularly jewelry and porcelain (one of the business’ website: ).

Her first book, Rae of Hope – from the Chronicles of Kerrigan was a huge success and she’s gone on to write many more books. Check her out!

Author Links:

Facebook Fan Page | Website | Twitter


SIGN UP FOR W.J. May’s Newsletter to find out about new releases, updates, cover reveals and even freebies!

Chrissy Peebles
Chrissy Peebles has always loved reading and writing fantasy from the earliest age she can remember. She lives in a busy city with her husband, two young kids, and three cats. Chrissy also loves to snap photos as her favorite hobby.

Author Links:

Facebook Fan Page

Kate Thomas
Kate Thomas, is the author of the upcoming Equilibrium Series, a five-book supernatural new adult series and The Resounding Series, an eight-book series, with plans for a few more series in 2015.

She is a CPA by trade, a church planter and entrepreneur at heart; however, writing and reading are passions she just can’t help but indulge in. With more ideas than one person should be allowed, she is blessed to have a muse that doesn’t seem to take a vacation and more energy that one might consider healthy.

She writes under the following pen names:
L.A. Starkey – Young Adult & Middle Grade Paranormal
Isabella James – Sci-fi/Fantasy

Author Links:

Goodreads | Twitter | Website | Amazon


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62999 final5 - Arcane Forest: Blogtour
This tour was organized by Good Tales Book Tours.

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Books/book review/fiction/crime fiction

Hubble, Bubble, Boil and Trouble

I was recently invited by NetGalley to review a book by Susan Boyer called Lowcountry Boneyard.

I read half the first chapter and realised that if I really wanted to understand the character’s motivations, reading book 1 was required, plus the reviews of book 1 were excellent and book 3 started well so off I went and bought book 1. Not a bad result for Susan!

Anyway, this is my review of book 1 which is called Lowcountry Boil.

Now what the title meant was interesting so I did some research. The area we are looking at geographically is the Charleston Low Country – ie the river delta and the offshore islands – of which there are several that appear in this book under pseudonyms. Not knowing the area at all I assume that we are reading something approaching reality and certainly from what I hear, the Charleston area is boiling hot in the summer so that is one possible meaning for the title. The barrier islands  vary in size and capability to support homes, many are just beaches and others are nature parks. The main islands seem to be: James Islands. Johns Island, Sullivans Island, Kiawah Island, and the Isle of Palms.

charlesislands - Hubble, Bubble, Boil and Trouble

The unknown to me food I discovered when I read the book – the Lowcountry Boil is a speciality of the Islands called in the book ‘Stella Maris’ or Star of the Sea. According to the boil was created by Richard Gay, of Frogmore, S.C., this one-pot wonder was used when this resourceful cook, a National Guardsman, needed to prepare a meal for 100 soldiers. This is a real mixture of ingredients according to the book and includes a combination of boiled smoked sausage, potatoes, corn and shrimp; seasoned with seafood boiled and cooked in a big pot. Crab, onion and butter are frequent additions. Ideally all the fresh summer ingredients of the area.

The other food specialities mentioned in the book include fried chicken, cabbage and collards, lima beans, okra soup and corn bread. This type of food is called Soul food or Gullah food. Gullahs being the slaves from West Africa who worked in the plantations and later settled in the Charleston low country. But all very fattening indeed…

The book has all the usual motivations for murder and corruption including:

  • Greed
  • Hate/love
  • Envy
  • Disappointment

There are several murders. Some blackmail. Lots of hidden motivations and secrets. A veritable boiling cauldron of seething emotions.

Great fun and 4 stars for sure..







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Books/book review/fiction/health/London/net galley/Random and interesting items/crime fiction

Keeping You Safe: Away from Harm?

A Review of No Other Darkness by Sarah Hilary: a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘keeping you safe’. Net galley review. 4.5 stars.

Keeps you wondering just what can happen next. Some notes about Post Partum Depression (PPD) follows – don’t read this if you are pregnant

  • For the mother, PPD may result in sleep disturbance, feelings of worthlessness, diminished concentration, recurrent thoughts of self-harm. Mothers with PPD can become withdrawn, socially isolated, and have difficulty caring for themselves and their children. Severe cases may feel helpless, despair and shame, even leading to suicide attempts.
  • The PPD can exacerbate her social isolation (which may also have contributed to its development in the first place). The birth of a child often entails leaving work, narrowing the mother’s social network.
  • Postpartum depression can also significantly strain relationships within the family, and is associated with the father developing a depression or other psychiatric problems (Condon, J. Australian Family Physician 2006;35(9):690).
  • No one single cause of PPD has been identified; a number of biological (e.g., hormonal changes), social and psychological factors have been implicated. Plausibly social, psychological and biological factors need to be linked in a causal chain.
  • Puerperal psychosis is more severe and involves fluctuating extremes of elation and depression with delusions and hallucinations. This rare condition may affect about .01% and requires extensive medical intervention.

Looking at the issues highlighted in this book and the evidence presented about the mother it is clear that this is not a normal case of post partum depression but rather puerperal psychosis. (I checked this with my handy clinical psychologist just to be sure that I was identifying everything correctly.) Puerperal psychosis can be associated with late onset bi-polar and in this book we see a dissociative personality split – the before and after of the behaviour and person. We also see a mother who is unable to set and keep to appropriate boundaries.

One major issue highlighted in this book is the lack of support for the husband who does not reach out himself. Whilst there are a number of online support groups for the husbands of wives suffering from PPD there seems to be little intervention from health care officials for these husbands. Additionally, most of the internet support groups are aimed at wives whose husbands are not sufficiently supportive. Many husbands do not know how to be supportive of their wives.

What happens though to the self-worth and emotional and mental health of a husband whose wife actually kills a child /children through PPD is seems to have very little written about. They are survivors and must suffer survivor guilt as well as the guilt that comes from not keeping their children safe from their wives. The depression must be severe and the over-compensation if they start a new family must be expected though as in this case, if this mental over-compensation – obsession is not dealt with then it can in itself turn into a form of mental illness with associated problems as is shown in this book.

The book threw up for me a lot of points – I shall write about the Thames and what lies under London in a different blog as it would take too many words to add to this review. But the book really gave me a lot to think and ponder about and to look into. One of my childhood-friend’s sister had PPD and was hospitalised with both children she bore, which must have been devastating for the family I now realise though at the time she was somewhat older than me, although living still in the same road – presumably now to keep close to her parents to look after the children whilst she was away.

This book raises so many good points that perhaps there is too much to think about? But it all links in so well and fits like a glove in the story which is told in such a way that the true horror only hits you part of the way through when you read the characters’ stories. Overall a well crafted novel and I look forward to reading more in this series.


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biography/writing/book review/non-fiction

Springing through childhood

Springfield Road by Salena Godden

This unlike most of the books I read was not only non-fiction but also a memoir/autobiography written not by someone famous, or at least not very famous even though they do perform. In most ways this was a memoir about the childhood of what appears at first instance to be an ordinary girl. It is based largely around her memories of a house she lived in – in Springfield Road – hence the title.

She is the daughter of a quite famous white jazz musician who played with most of the bands and stars of his era and a black dancer – a go-go dancer at the time of their marriage.

salena1 - Springing through childhood salenagodden 8 - Springing through childhood

She therefore has a mixed heritage, although it was her mother’s family who had most impact on her.

Her father deserted her mother when she was quite small – he was fairly typical I suppose of musicians of that time who were promiscuous and in many ways it is more surprising that he actually married her mother than that he left and had many affairs.

Salena now has a career as a poet and musician herself and her poetry often came through in this book as much of the text was quite lyrical. However, as this book was published by Unbound publishers – a sort of cloud-funding site for publication there was insufficient editing and this book needed a stronger line of story. It jumped around rather too much and was confusing. The first chapters were also off-putting and you needed to read well into the book to want to continue. Once you did, you got fascinated by, what for me, was not reminiscent of my childhood and foreign to me as I lived in a very different area of the country – a ‘safe’ London suburb where we ran riot in our cul-de-sac and each other’s houses. Another difference is that she was always looking for her father, and believed as a child, he would come home to her soon. As a child I lost my mother to an illness and so knew she never come home to me.

Memory of childhood is often patchy and yet Salena’s seemed very strong indeed and you just wonder how much was filled in by guess or desire when memory missed. Certainly her family helped her a lot, but again our memories are skewed by what we want to believe. Can we really remember everything? Especially what it was like to be a child? The racial issues that she would have encountered then must have been ones that remained strong in her memory though as such a mixed marriage was rather uncommon in the 1970s though it was becoming more common it’s true.

I was given the opportunity to read this book through the website for women called forbookssake which specialises in encouraging female authors.

Salena says about her book:

Springfield Road is a journey into childhood. My childhood, maybe your childhood too. I set out to capture a snapshot of the seventies, a world without health and safety, a time of halfpenny sweets, fish and chips in newspaper, cassette tapes of the Sunday night top ten, scrumping apples and foraging for conkers, through the eyes of my child self.

It is the memoir of our family home on Springfield Road in Hastings, but it is also a memoir of the journey I took writing this book. These are my memories of my attempts to understand the beauty, the brutality and the contradictions of the adult world; why my Irish jazz musician father mysteriously disappeared from our lives; how my mother’s transitions from her Jamaican girlhood to her teenage dreams to represent Britain in the Olympics, to her life as a go-go dancer and then single-parenthood affected us all. It’s about discovering that life is unfair and that parents die. Its also about seeking the good in the world, the humour and the tenderness, this book is not a misery memoir.

Springfield Road is peppered with daydreams, a poetic and universal child’s eye view from the cracks in the pavement to the faces in the clouds. This book is a salute to every curly-top, scabby knee’d, mixed-up, half-crazy kid out there. We had afros, we had free school dinners and hand-me-downs.

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