Monday 28 January 2019

Guest Post: Sparking a Writer’s Creativity by Leigh Goff...

If I struggle with writing a descriptive scene, I know it’s time to step outside my present environment (the sofa, a hot cup of coffee, and a fluffy dog at my feet) and explore the world around me—really explore it. There’s something about traveling and sightseeing that stimulates my senses and creativity and it might be just what other writers need, too.

Photo courtesy of Cody Board Unsplash
When I was little, I loved traveling to visit my grandparents every summer. I remember counting down the days and planning what to pack in my blue and red-striped suitcase. I remember the excitement of my first airplane ride and my first trip to Disney World. Disney was like nothing else I’d ever experienced. It went something like this—the Florida sun blazed hot against my skin while the magical kingdom around me smelled of caramel apples and mouth-watering vanilla waffles. And, oh, the stomach-whirling water rides and fantasy-filled adventures that swept me away while I was there. When I arrived home after that first visit, I wrote all about it in my diary, every scrumptious detail. I didn’t want to forget where I’d been and what it felt like to be there because if I didn’t go back ever again, I would be able to revisit that dream-like place in my diary.

I’m an adult now, however, I still need to explore different worlds in order to get my writer’s creativity flowing. Whether my travels include walking in the woods, trekking through London, or taking a ghost tour of the historic buildings and cemeteries in my hometown, every trip is filled with descriptive possibilities. I don’t know if a future main character will end up lost in a city cafĂ© ordering escargots and later singing along to a street musician’s rendition of ‘Chevaliers de la Table Ronde,’ but I’ll be able to describe it with accuracy because I’ve done it.

One memorable sightseeing trip was to Paris, which included a stop at the Louvre. Breathtaking. I’m talking about the artworks—every single one I saw, including Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. The masterpiece was smaller than I’d imagined, but she was a rock star. Crowds lined up outside the salon for a glimpse of her. Finally, it was my turn. She was beautiful, mysterious, wise, and timeless.

As I stood there before her, I thought about the Da Vinci Code written by Dan Brown. I found myself recalling his vivid descriptions of the museum including its parquet floors, vaulted archways, glass pyramid, and the paintings’ gilded frames. Being there in person was amazing, but if I hadn’t had that experience, Dan Brown’s descriptions of the Louvre and a few of its precious contents were the next best thing to being there.

Writers create or recreate worlds with words and traveling experiences can be the spark for those words. As author Larry Brooks once said, “Writers experience the world…in a unique way. We look for meaning. We see it when we are not paying attention…We are scribes to the ticking of the days, and we have a job to do.” We just need to get out there and experience it for ourselves.

Here is a little from my latest novel for your reading pleasure.

Sixteen-year-old Hannah Fitzgerald has always known she is descended from a royal legacy of dark magic. Although a stranger to her coven in Annapolis, she is no stranger to grief and denial. However, when an ancient prophecy reveals the rise of a young, powerful witch and the impending death of another, she realizes she can no longer afford to suppress the magic that has taken away so much. She seeks out the frighteningly scarred, yet mysterious W who is destined to change her life, but even he cannot prepare her for the danger that lies ahead.

Engaged in a deadly game and not knowing whom her true rival is, Hannah isn't certain she will survive, and if she loses, she may lose everything, including the ones she loves.

Leigh Goff loves writing young adult fiction with elements of magic and romance because it's also what she liked to read. Born and raised on the East Coast, she now lives in Maryland where she enjoys the area's great history and culture.

Leigh is a graduate of the University of Maryland, University College and a member of the Maryland Writers' Association and Romance Writers of America. She is also an approved artist with the Maryland State Arts Council. Her debut novel, Disenchanted, was inspired by the Wethersfield witches of Connecticut and was released by Mirror World Publishing. Leigh is currently working on her next novel, The Witch's Ring which is set in Annapolis.

Learn more about Leigh Goff on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Monday 21 January 2019

Removing the Chains…

Today marks Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the USA, which promotes equal rights for all Americans, regardless of their backgrounds. So, I thought it would be appropriate to honor this civil rights leader’s memory, and those who have sacrificed and struggled before him, by sharing one of the most powerful books I’ve recently read, with you. While researching for the next installment of The Last Timekeepers series, entitled The Last Timekeepers and the Noble Slave, I came upon this non-fiction gem, To Be A Slave. Released in 1968, To Be A Slave was actually written for middle grade children, and has garnered many awards including a Newbery Honor. Authored by Julius Lester and illustrated by Tom Feelings, the book explores what it was like to be a slave. It includes many personal accounts of former slaves, accompanied by Lester’s historical commentary, and Feelings’ powerful and muted drawings.

I found that To Be a Slave fills a void in the documentation of American history by providing a concrete illustration of the culture and history of blacks in the United States. It contained a treasure trove of research material I was able to glean for my book, and I’m humbled to have received a glimpse into the lives of slaves through Lester’s thorough research. The book focuses on the plight of blacks: their brutal capture in Africa, their confined passage to America in slave ships, and their subsequent servitude. Rather than offering a dry summary of these events, Lester brings history to life, presenting the testimony of former slaves (including Solomon Northup of Twelve Years a Slave) who describe their experiences in visceral detail. Because most slaves were illiterate, their stories were passed along orally, but most written historical accounts of slavery ignore this oral tradition, focusing instead on how slavery as an institution affected the white, mainstream society. Hence, Lester fills a historical gap by providing a black perspective on the same situation.

In my opinion, To Be A Slave (along with Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl) should be part of every school’s curriculum to educate our youth on what it’s like to walk in the shoes of those who lived before them. It’s also like having a time travel portal in the classroom. Of course, slavery still exists throughout the world, but humanity’s view has changed in leaps and bounds since the 1700s. We still have a long way to go, but we’re making headway and removing those chains, one link at a time.

If you’re interested in Julius Lester’s phenomenal book, To Be A Slave, you can check it out HERE. I’ll leave you with a taste of this classic book that forever pulled me into Lester’s shoes:

It was the late forties. I was not yet ten years old. One day there came in the mail a letter addressed to my father in which a company promised—in big and bold letters—to research the Lester family tree and send us a copy of our family coat of arms. I was excited, but when I saw my father fold the letter as if to discard it, I asked anxiously, ‘Don’t you want to know our family history?’

He laughed dryly. ‘I don’t need to pay anybody to tell me about where we come from. Our family tree ends in a bill of sale. Lester is the name of the family that owned us.’
His words were one of the defining moments of my life.

Monday 14 January 2019

Guest Post: The Conundrum of Time by Anne Montgomery...

The passing of theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, who famously wrote A Brief History of Time, had me thinking about, well … time.

I teach high school and my students often complain when, upon being late to class, I am undeterred from marking them tardy.

“But I’m only a few minutes late,” they plead.
Which is all I need to hoist myself onto my soapbox. “When I was in television, I had to be in my seat when the red camera light blinked on. I couldn’t be one second late. And when I referee a football game, what if I’m late while the players, coaches, and fans are all waiting for kickoff. What if my students arrive at my classroom and I’m not there to let them in?"

My young charges roll their eyes.

“You have to be on time,” I say. “If you’re the worker who’s always punctual, no one wants to fire you. It shows you care about being professional and not imposing on your co-workers.”

Here is where I admit that my nightmares consist mainly of me unsuccessfully trying to get somewhere on time. Whether it be a TV set, a classroom, a ballgame, or an airport, the scenario is always the same. I am late, horrified at the prospect, and no matter how hard I try, I just can’t get where I need to be on time.

Just a few days ago, I was revisited by the terrors of being tardy. My student reporters were in a contest with a deadline. We were six minutes out. I found myself repeatedly checking the second hand on the classroom clock … tick, tick, tick … as we tried to rectify the software glitch that was holding up delivery of our final product. I flashed back to those days when I had to run onto the news set, heart racing, and slide into my chair while pasting on a smile.

My students made their deadline, and the flashback gave me pause.

I will retire from teaching in two years, and I’d like to think those deadline dreams will diminish. But, it seems, I might have another time-related problem.

“I worry about you when you retire,” my long-time beau has said more than once.

“Why, my sweetie pie?”

“I’m afraid you will not have enough to do.”

I consider his concern.

“You don’t know how to relax,” he says. “You always have to be busy.”

“I will have plenty to do in retirement,” I say. “No worries.”

But he doesn’t look convinced.

While I do plan, upon retirement, to hammer to death the obnoxious alarm clock that has pestered me for decades, I’m not really sure just how I’ll respond to a world with far fewer deadlines.

As Hawking famously said, “Only time (whatever that may be) will tell.”

I hope you'll take the time to peek into my latest novel.

Two Arizona teens find their fates intertwined. Are there any adults they can trust? Can they even trust each other?

Rose Madsen will do anything to keep from being married off to one of the men in her Fundamentalist Mormon (FLDS) community, even endure the continued beatings and abuse of her mother. But when her mentally handicapped baby sister is forced to strangle the bird she loves at the behest of the Prophet, Rose frees the bird and runs away.

Adan Reyes will do anything to escape the abusive foster care system in Phoenix, even leaving his good friends and successful high school athletic career behind him. Ill-prepared for surviving the desert, Adan hits the road only to suffer heat stroke. Found by a local handyman, he catches a glimpse of a mysterious girl—Rose—running through town, and follows her into the mountains where they are both tracked and discovered by the men of the FLDS community.

With their fates now intertwined, can Rose and Adan escape the systems locking them into lives of abuse? Will Rose be forced to marry the Prophet, a man her father's age, and be one of dozens of wives, perpetually pregnant, with no hope for an education? Will Adan be returned to the foster home where bullying and cruelty are common? Is everyone they meet determined to keep them right where they belong or are some adults worthy of their trust?

Anne Montgomery has worked as a television sportscaster, newspaper and magazine writer, teacher, amateur baseball umpire, and high school football referee. She worked at WRBL‐TV in Columbus, Georgia, WROC‐TV in Rochester, New York, KTSP‐TV in Phoenix, Arizona, ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, where she anchored the Emmy and ACE award‐winning SportsCenter, and ASPN-TV as the studio host for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. Montgomery has been a freelance and staff writer for six publications, writing sports, features, movie reviews, and archeological pieces.

When she can, Anne indulges in her passions: rock collecting, scuba diving, football refereeing, and playing her guitar.

Learn more about Anne Montgomery on her website and Wikipedia. Stay connected on Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter.

Thursday 10 January 2019

Book Tour: Fey Guardian Series Box Set by Tiffany Shand...

Welcome to the Virtual Book Tour for Tiffany Shand's Fey Guardian Series Box Set.

About the Box Set:

Our memories are who we are.

But for Zoe Finn, it’s all a blur. She has no memory of the first ten years of her life. The world around her is shrinking as she’s pushed up against her own inner demons. It’s a daily struggle just to breathe – until a handsome stranger enters her life.

Nick Trevelyan can help Zoe put her life together. As the last guardian, he enforces the law of The Circle, the council of races. With him by Zoe’s side, there’s no telling what they’ll discover. And as Zoe investigates the mysterious deaths of psychics, the truth about her own past slowly crawls into the light. As her unusual abilities come into focus, Zoe learns more about herself than she ever thought possible.

Will she succeed in unraveling her mysterious past? Or will this cruel world keep her shrouded in darkness?

Exclusive Excerpt:

“What’s up with you?” Carmel asked, moving out from behind the counter. “You’re so jumpy today.”
Zoe glanced over at her foster mother then back out the window. “Nothing, I... Something weird happened to me last night.” She moved to the window, sure she could feel someone watching her. She’d never felt unsafe in the tiny shop before now.
She hadn’t had much sleep that night and had been too afraid to go home. She’d crashed at Mia’s flat, only returning home to check on her cat and grab some clean clothes. Chloe had called to tell her Jim hadn’t opened up the club, which made her even more nervous.
“Zoe, what’s going on? You’re shaking.” Carmel moved around the counter and put her hand on her shoulder. “What’s wrong? You’re scaring me.”
Zoe checked out the window again. The feeling of being watched lessened but something still felt wrong. “Carm, I don’t know what to do.” She put her head in her hands and blurted out everything that had happened the night before with the strange man. “I think he killed Jim. I-I want to go to the police, but I’m afraid they’ll think I’m mad.” 

Books in the Box Set:

Memories Lost, Book 1
Memories Awakened, Book 2
Memories Found, Book 3

Box Set Details:

Print Length: 333 pages
Publisher: Tiffany Shand
Publication Date: January 7, 2019

Purchase Your Copy from Amazon

Add the Box Set to Your Shelf on Goodreads

Tour Schedule:

Meet the Author:

Tiffany Shand is a writing mentor, professionally trained copy editor and copy writer who has been writing stories for as long as she can remember. Born in East Anglia, Tiffany still lives in the area, constantly guarding her work space from the two cats which she shares her home with.

She began using her pets as a writing inspiration when she was a child, before moving on to write her first novel after successful completion of a creative writing course. Nowadays, Tiffany writes urban fantasy and paranormal romance, as well as nonfiction books for other writers, all available through Amazon and on her own website.

Tiffany’s favourite quote is ‘writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go’ and it is armed with this that she hopes to be able to help, inspire and mentor many more aspiring authors.

When she has time to unwind, Tiffany enjoys photography, reading and watching endless box sets. She also loves to get out and visit the vast number of castles and historic houses that England has to offer.

You can contact Tiffany Shand, or just see what she is writing about at:

Tiffany’s Website

Tiffany’s Blog




Fey Guardian Box Set

Enter the Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday 7 January 2019

Out with the Old Year. In with the New Year…

Justine and I selling our reading wares...

First, I want to wish my readers and followers a very Happy New Year, and all the best in 2019! I can’t believe how fast 2018 flew by. I guess we say that about every year, I’m afraid. I usually start off a new year with a post on what’s happening in my writing life, any newsworthy tidbits, and what I hope to accomplish this year. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a book release in 2018, so I’ve had to reassess and reevaluate my future goals and plans. Something I believe we all should do on a personal and professional level at the end of every year.

That said, shall we get this new year started! In December, I had the pleasure of working with my publisher, Justine Alley Dowsett at a Christmas Market in Windsor. It was so refreshing to get out of my writing lair and meet potential readers. We chatted up eager holiday shoppers and sold many books during our three-week stint each Wednesday night. And I’m happy to report that there’s a lot of young readers out there waiting for the next book in my series, so I’d better get my butt in my chair and finish off the next novel! I also met a teacher who seemed quite interested in our books, and promised to pass along our names to her school’s librarian. Sweet!

At the end of December, I write down where I’d like to be in twelve months—one book published, one book written, outline next book, and how to reach more readers. This strategy usually works for me, but for some reason, I fell short in 2018. Hence the importance of reassessment. Now, everything would have worked out great if I hadn’t applied for a Canadian grant for the Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls series. A grant, by-the-way, I did not receive. Sigh. Glad I developed a thick skin throughout the years of writing! Anyway, I ended up submitting Blackflies and Blueberries, Book Two in Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls series, to Mirror World Publishing last winter, and I’m happy to announce that this book will be released in May, 2019. Woohoo!

In order to reach more readers, I hired a book promotion specialist last January, which helped with my social media presence and got my books out into the cyber-world. Time will tell if this is a good investment or not, but I realize that this publishing gig is a marathon, not a sprint, and patience is the name of the game. I truly believe that hard work eventually pays off, and I’m continuing to see slow and steady growth as an author, and in book sales. I’ve also revamped my website to make it ‘mobile friendly’, updated my author photo, and added a couple of free cookbooks on the site where some of my recipes are featured along with other prominent authors’ recipes. It’s a win-win for readers and foodies! Check out my mobile friendly website HERE.

I also want to announce that I’ve scheduled a week-long Birthday Book Blog Tour starting February 4th and running until February 8th to showcase my two book series, and give readers a sneak peek at my upcoming release in May. There will be an international Rafflecopter giveaway for the first book in The Last Timekeepers series and Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls, plus Mirror World Publishing has agreed to put my books up for sale for the entire month of February! I’ll also be busy finishing up the next installment of The Last Timekeepers time travel adventure series set to be released in 2020, and will continue to connect with my readers on the numerous social media networks. So that’s all the news for now. Thanks so much for your continued support throughout the years. Readers Rock!

Below are the links to my website, blog, and social media accounts. Please consider following or connecting with me:

Learn more about Sharon Ledwith on her WEBSITE and BLOG. Look up her AMAZON AUTHOR page for a list of current books. Stay connected on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, PINTEREST, LINKEDIN, INSTAGRAM, and GOODREADS.