#FindingFamily Chapter IV

Carefully I skip down the stairs to the restaurant, admittedly giddy and loving the feel of the long wool coat flapping on the back of my legs.

Worry crosses my face when I see just how fancy the place was and how under dressed I am in an old black mini skirt, stiletto heels and a newer dusky-green tee-shirt. “I’m sure whatever you are wearing under my coat is fine.” I heard him whisper in my ear.

I jumped, “Mr. Barrowman, can you hear now?”

He chuckled, “Yes, they took out the hearing devices about an hour ago.” He glanced at his watch.

He placed a hand on my back, “This really wasn’t necessary, I appreciate it immensely but really not required.” I started rambling on, I don’t want to hurt his feelings.

“Anytime my colleagues get chewed out by someone trying to help me, I have to take them out.” His easy going demeanor was relaxing my nerves and I was starting to realize he really is just a sweet normal person.

“Oh no, they told you? I’m sorry. They just ticked me off and I flew off the handle, if I need to I can go back and apologize.”

“No need for that, they needed the wake up call and I’m glad I got to see someone stand up to them for those who are afraid or unable to.” John ordered us each a Beef Wellington, after being talked out of shrimp as I am allergic, and a bottle of Medoc red wine. “So what is your story? How did you end up on that crosswalk tis morning?”

“It’s not pleasant dinner conversation Mr. Barrowman.” I smiled weakly and sipped the delicious wine.

“John, please, and I think  that someone like you would have an interesting story.” He gave me his gorgeous grin and  my crumbling resolve was falling faster than a bowling ball two inches off the ground.

“Umm…not much to tell really, grew up in Missouri, a very small town. My parents should have never been together, volatile is the word that comes to mind with those two. Saved up my money, graduated high school and got admitted to Oxford. Those are the highlights.” I chugged my glass and refilled it in the awkward silence.

“What happened to your mom?” he asked quietly, his demeanor changed from his happy usual self to one of solemn.

Suddenly my seat was uncomfortable, I squirmed around. “umm… my…father kind of a took care of her two months ago. He is in prison now.” I keep my eyes focused on the white table cloth, picking at imaginary threads.

“I’m sorry. You are right, not a good dinner talk. I’m sorry you’re father was an arse. It sounds like it is behind you now and you are rising up from the ashes.” It was is turn to squirm. He was changing the subject, “What are you going to study at University?”

“Music. I’m pretty good with a cello, but I would like to be a classical music professor.” I feel the blush rising in my face, I’m still embarrassed about my choice of career. “My family has never thought of it as a good choice, but it’s where I want to be.

“Are you just into classical music or do you like other music?” He must have noticed that it was a touchy subject and tried to change it.

We talked for four hours through the great dinner and the most amazing chocolate lava cake ever. After he helped me put my coat on, he called for a car and decided to escort me back to the hostel.

 

Tune in next week for Chapter Five and don’t forget to like my Author page for updates on this and more!

#FindingFamily Chapter III

The outside world silenced the moment the ancient door closed behind me to Saint Paul’s Cathedral. My place of peace still brings calm to my mind as I dip my fingers in the cool holy water and cross myself before taking a seat in the last pew.
I’m far from religious, but the only place I have been able to clear my head is a church. Specifically an old Catholic Church. Other newer churches, just don’t do it. The noise of the city penetrates through the walls and sullies the serene bubble. Where better to empty one’s thoughts and be alone for awhile than a beautiful piece of art?
I say I’m not religious, but I do know some of the rituals and I guess you could say my time spent sitting in bliss as Eucharistic Adoration. I’ve never had a eureka moment or clarifying call, but it makes me feel safe and content.
Once my hour was up, don’t want to overstay my welcome, I stood up to leave, bracing myself for the chaos on the other side of the door. “What do I do now?” I ask myself aloud.
As I walk down the street my thoughts turn to this morning and how great it was. If I had taken another turn on the Eye or had been paying more attention to my surroundings, I never would have met Barrowman. I kept my promise, though if was tough, no pictures or questions. No proof of our meeting, and it sucks but it was still the best hours of my life.

My feet brought me to a charming sci-fi shop proudly displaying Doctor Who and Torchwood merchandise in the window. I had to stop in and spend a little mad money. I have time to kill before dinner and what geek-girl can resist her guilty pleasure?
I am at the cash register with a mock trench coat, when I get a text from an unknown number. “Plans for dinner?”
Depends, who is this?” I swipe my card and wait for an answer. There is only one guy I gave my number to recently and know he wouldn’t be the one.
“Forgot about me already? I’m really beginning to wonder if you are a fan.”
“Holy shit.” I gasp.
“What? Wrong size?” the cashier asked a little worried.
“What? Oh no, the coat is perfect. I just heard from someone I never thought I’d see again.” I babbled, staring at my phone. “Well if you could see what I just bought, your mind would be at ease.” I joke with him. I slipped the coat on and walked out.
“Come to dinner and show me? I need to repay you for your help, support and lunch.”
Where? When?
Chapter One. Not too fancy, but nice and great food. Two hours give you enough time to clean up and get there? Need to talk with my husband.”
“Sounds good.”
I leave for the hostel and to prepare for a fun evening.
“See you there Chandler.”

Tune in next week for Chapter Four

#FindingFamily Chapter II

There is glass everywhere. The doors, walls and even some squares of the checkered pattern floor are made of glass. Someone has hung posters of different shows with a few floral prints in-between, to distinguish the walls from doors.
The bustling women dress with enough class they seem to be from another time, a more refined era. The men flitted about dressed in sharply tailored suits, belt only no suspenders here. I am too caught up in the wonder of it all I trip over my own feet and almost John down with me.
John informed an angry gnome-looking colleague about what he was doing and who I am while I worked through the shiny breakable surroundings. I am beginning to feel like a bull in a window shop, the tables were also made of frosted glass.
I felt him tug on my shirt sleeve, “Do you need some water or something while we’re here?”
I shook my head no and pecked a short message to him, “I’m good. If you don’t mind, I’ll wait outside if you don’t need me.” I smiled weakly, nodding to a hard gray office chair. I’d be out of the way and still nearby if he wanted help. Two nodded and went to meet six people sitting at a sharp oval table.
Carefully sitting down, I pulled my mangy copy of “Love & Drugs” out of my MARINES messenger bag and began reading. I may be on an adventure but I’m always prepared for downtime. It becomes a habit when you spend as much time in a hospital waiting to hear if your mom is going to be ok from her latest “accident” as I do…did.
Mom had fifty-two trips to the hospital by my twenty-first birthday, and a couple of months ago she had a final incident with my dad’s baseball bat. Needless to say, childhood wasn’t that great. Thankfully I was the only casualty of that toxic life. I am trying to start a new life with a new college in a new country.
Shouts snapped me out of memory lane, John looked angry. The others had a range of anger, bored and frustration. I put my book away and grabbed my phone then walked into the room. “Excuse me, is everything ok n here?”
The grumpy gnome started barking, “You’re his handler, tell him this isn’t working. Either take out the hearing device or sit quietly in a corner.”
John looked at me, confused. I handed him my phone with the text open, “give me a second.” I turned to the rest of the board. “Is this how your meetings usually go? Mr. Barrowman just sits in a corner with no input on how his life goes? I don’t believe it.” My own experience with my friend being mistreated was coming up ticking me off even more. “I highly doubt that. He is doing some research for a charity an you are asking him to forsake that because you don’t want to find a way to work with a disability?
“I’m sorry, but he is a wonderful person and you are an evil little man who should know better! Going under the assumption that you were more than likely picked on in high school. I don’t know how you got this far in life, but you need to change the way you deal with people. Let him do what he normally does and find a way to converse with him.” I jabbed my finger onto the table to drive my point home before telling John everything was okay and to finish his meeting.
I went back to my chair outside the room, glaring at the man, letting him know I will step in if he doesn’t do as I say. Secretly, I am scared shitless and hoping that I didn’t screw anything up for John. It took a few hours, but John finally finished his meeting (they started writing things down for him) and we left for lunch.
I managed to talk, err…text, him into just fish and chips from a street vendor instead of a fancy restaurant. Mostly so I could say that I took him out, hey it is a fantasy full-filling day so why not? After we went to a dog park to wait for a guide dog.
Once the German Shepherd arrived I gave him my number ad took my leave. He was in safe…paws for the rest of the day and I had a date with a Cathedral.

Tune in next week for Chapter Three

#FindingFamily Chapter I

Chapter 1
The Eye looks daunting from the ground, it once inside it is beautiful. London unfolds before you, giving you a different view than those too scared to come aboard. The sun rising over the horizon is gorgeous from the top, I almost cry as the wheel begins its descent.
My vacation is off to a great start, I landed yesterday and caught up on sleep. I have ridden the Eye twice now and am looking for a coffee shop. I bump into a man, spilling coffee on his black silk shirt. “Shit! I’m sorry.” Quickly I grab napkins out of his hand to help clean up, then I look up. “Oh…my…god.” I feel the blood drain from my cheeks and my heart gallops into overdrive.
Smoldering blue eyes and a cheeky smile stare down at me as I’m frantically wiping off his torso, he takes my hands in his and I freeze. “It’s ok. I’m fine.” THE John Narrow man said slowly, and a tad loudly.
“Oh Shit!”
“What, is, your,name?”
“I-I-I am Chandler Forbes, Mr. Barrowman.” I stammer, my movie-star crush right in front of me and I can’t talk. I am an idiot.
“Sandra? Sorry, I’m working with a charity to help deaf people. I’ve gone deaf for a day.” His Scottish lilt is even, more memorizing in person.
Someone jostled me as the pedestrian light turned green. I took his arm, (why did I do that?), and walked him across the street. As we walked I pulled out my phone, and carefully typed “Do you need help getting around today?” He glanced at me curiously, and I quickly added, “I promise not to fan girl out or take fifty pictures. I just want to help.” Having a task to focus on was helping me regain my confidence and a little dignity I’ll admit.
“Sure if you’re not busy.” His grin lights up the sidewalk as I let him pull me to wherever our destination was going to be.
Back in the silence, my stupid brain started working again,John Barrowman is letting me help him around! Captain Jack Harkness is dragging me off on some adventure, this is amazing!” He may not be able to hear me right now, but I’m beyond thankful he can’t read my thoughts. I feel the blood warming my face again and know I just look crazy. There is a goofy grin plastered on that I can’t get rid of.
“Sandra, you have my permission to fangirl a little, I can’t hear your shrieking.”
That sobered me and I texted out my response, “It is Chandler Mr. Barrowman, and I’m ok. I’ll freak out on my own time.”
“Not a normal fan then.”
“Oh no, big fan of both voice and shows, but I also like to help those in need. Someone really should be helping you around.”
“It’s about experiencing a day in the life of a deaf person. They don’t always have someone to help.” He opened the door to a tall building for me.
It’s different, but I have a good friend back home that is blind. She gets around well on her own but it’s nice to have me around to help once in awhile. What floor?” We pause by a bank of elevators and he gently releases my hand to press the up button.
“Top. These guys you are about to meet can be a bit pushy so be careful ok?” he winked at me, we stepped inside and off we flew. I’m about to meet some bigwigs either in show business or the music industry, this so does not happen to girls from small Midwestern towns…with celebrities!
This vacation is going to be epic!

Tune in next week for Chapter Two

#ASI: Julia Brannan

Hi Julia Brannan, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background? Hi Courtney, thanks for asking me to answer these questions! I’m based in the UK, and am lucky enough to live in the beautiful countryside of Wales. I’m an only child, and was brought up in Manchester, England. I’ve had a variety of jobs, including office work, teaching, gilding, call centre work, and I now edit for a few very successful authors. I love travelling, and have been on extended trips to many countries. Well (if Google Translate can be trusted) Helo!

Discuss your newest book. My newest book will be published at the beginning of July, and is the third in a series of historical novels about the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745. The series is set in England, Scotland and Europe, and deals with the lives of Beth Cunningham, her family and friends during the build-up to the rebellion, the actual rebellion itself, and the aftermath. There is a romance at its heart, but I’ve taken great pains to ensure the historical setting and events are accurate. Sounds great, and like you should have been my history advisor for a book I’m working on.

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 Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? My interest in writing originated with my mother, who taught me to read before I went to school, and who showed me just how magical and influential the written word is. I wrote little stories from the age of 5, and she encouraged me all the way. #MothersDay

What are your current projects? At the moment I’m editing book three – The Gathering Storm, and preparing it for publication, and spending all my free time doing background research for the next book.

What books have most influenced your life most? That’s a difficult one, because there are so many. I would say as a child that Heidi gave me my love of travelling, because I wanted to go to Switzerland. I also loved the Moomintroll series, and really identified with Snufkin, who goes off travelling alone for months at a time. The dark and brooding Wuthering Heights helped me through a very turbulent puberty, because it matched my dark and brooding moods!

What inspired you to write your first book? In honesty, the wish to make lots of money inspired me to write my first book, a long time ago when I was 18. I foolishly believed that it would be really easy to write Mills&Boon romances and make a fortune, even though I wasn’t really interested in the genre, and I spent a long hot summer slogging away at writing one, only to (quite rightly) have it promptly rejected.

Later I realized that it’s far more important to be passionate about your subject, and write for the sheer love of writing, which is what I do now. Dreams have to start somewhere.

 Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special? There are two main characters. Beth is a fiercely independent woman who has to fight for her freedom against a family and society who believe women should live very restricted lives ruled by men.

Sir Anthony is an effeminate, foppish man of fashion, a flippant social butterfly, but there is clearly more to him than meets the eye.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? I would like to inspire my readers to love history as I do, and to realize that although laws and customs may change, the dreams and desires of human beings remain constant. History is amazing in my opinion.

Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book? I really have no idea at all. I’m sure my readers will have some thoughts on that, though!

When did you decide to become a writer? I always wanted to be a professional writer, but life got in the way for many years, as it has a habit of doing!

Why do you write? Because I have to. I can’t imagine not writing something. For many years I wrote for my own pleasure alone, keeping a diary, writing poetry, then experimenting with ideas for novels. But I’ve always written, since I learned how to form letters.

What made you decide to sit down and actually start something? I went on a walk across Spain – the Camino de Santiago – and just for a joke, I sent emails to my boyfriend about my adventures, but wrote the whole thing in a Tolkienesque style. I became an elf going into the west, and meeting hobbits, orcs etc along the way. It was enormous fun, and every time something happened, I’d work out how to turn it into a Lord of the Rings type of event. He showed the first email to his friends, who loved it, and after that they were all waiting for the next episode. I really enjoyed having an avid audience, and it gave me confidence to start writing with a view to publishing once I got home. That’s sweet! and AWESOME!

Do you write full-time or part-time? Part-time at the moment. I have another job that pays the bills, but it’s my dream to write full-time.

What is the hardest thing about writing? Actually sitting down and starting.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book? Finding the time to do it. I have a very full life.

What is the easiest thing about writing? It’s fun! Once I start, it becomes an obsession, and I live in the period I’m writing about.

What book are you reading now? At the moment I’m only reading research books. My current one is about poverty in the eighteenth century.

 What is one random thing about you? I have trekked to Everest Base Camp, and once there, got to sing ‘Tom Dooley’ with guitar accompaniment, with the Swedish Climbing Expedition. Cool.

 What is your preferred medium of writing? Pen and paper or strictly tablet and computer? I use a computer for the actual writing, but I keep handwritten index cards with details of all the characters, and a hand-drawn timeline of historical events etc. I also carry a notebook with me everywhere to jot down ideas that might come to me at random times.

What does your writing process look like? I start by researching the historical period in general, reading anything and everything I can get hold of – biographies of historical characters, books about the period, military books about the battles, newspapers from the period, etc. Then I plot out the storyline and start to research in more depth the specific events etc. Once I start writing, I may change my ideas about certain things, or decide to include a specific skill etc, so then I research again. I write chronologically, unless I suddenly have a full scene from further along the book come into my head; then I’ll write that as a separate document and rework it later.

 Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the shower)? Not when I’m actually writing, but I did astonish the neighbours somewhat by teaching myself to throw knives at the door of the garden shed, because one of my characters has that skill, and teaches it to another character, and I wanted to know how it was done, and what mistakes you’d make when learning. So, readers, beware of flying knives while writing a review! Lol Jk.

 How important are names to you in your books? Some of the names of fictional characters just pop into my head. Some of them are names of actual ancestors of mine. But the surnames of MacGregor and MacDonald were chosen because the clan histories fitted what I wanted from my characters and plot.

 Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? I think the hardest thing with historical fiction is to keep the characters as true as possible to the time they’re living in, whilst still ensuring that a 21st century reader can identify and sympathise with them. This can be extremely difficult at times.

 Did you make any marketing mistakes or is there anything you would avoid in future? I’m still relatively new to marketing, so am trying different promotional ideas and am open to suggestions!

What is your favorite motivational phrase? I’m not really a fan of motivational phrases. Sometimes I hear one that strikes a chord, but having worked in several office-based jobs over the years, I have realized that the worst employers are usually the ones whose walls are littered with motivational posters, such as ‘Every great journey starts with the first step’, when all the employees longed to do was take that last step out of their appalling job asap. I am, however, a fan of the sarcastic demotivational poster…

What is your favorite book and why? My all-time favourite book is Lord of the Rings. Tolkien’s mastery of language and description blew me away, and decided me on studying English Literature at university. The world he creates is totally believable, and you just live there for the duration of the book.

 Do you have any advice for other writers? Don’t be discouraged if you get a one-star review, and never, ever respond to it. On the other hand, if ALL your reviews are one-star, then it’s worth having a look at why. Often it’s not because you’re a bad writer, but because your book needs editing or proofreading. That can make all the difference in the world!

What do you like to do when you’re not writing? I love fitness training, reading, gardening, walking, travelling, and photography, although I’m not very good at it!

 From where do you gain your inspiration? The inspiration for the Jacobite Chronicles came from family history research, when I discovered that one branch of my family were almost certainly Jacobites. I started reading a little background history to see how they would have lived, and became completely absorbed in the period. I had no idea the mid-eighteenth century was such a fascinating period of history until then.

What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around? I think the advantages of self-publishing are that you have total control over your book – the content, the cover, the blurb, the marketing, and when you publish. Also you get a larger percentage of the royalties. The disadvantages are that some people still think of independent publishing as somehow inferior, something you only do if your book isn’t good enough to be traditionally published. This view is slowly changing, though. Also, having all that control means a lot more work for the author, which is hard when you’re also trying to actually write the books!

How do you market your books? At the moment through social media, promotions, etc.

Why did you choose this route? As I said, it’s still early days for me, so I’m using media I’m already familiar with. I now intend to branch out into new avenues, though.

Would you or do you use a PR agency? I don’t at the moment, and don’t know enough about what’s involved to answer this, really.

Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books? I wouldn’t like to give advice yet – I’m still learning myself.

What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book? Probably not enough! But I want to actually WRITE! And as I also have another job, I market as and when I see an opportunity, and am experimenting to see what might work!

What do you do to get book reviews? I periodically post on media just asking people, if they read my book and like it, to post a review. If someone contacts me directly to say they’ve enjoyed my book, I ask if they’d be kind enough to review it. That’s all.

How successful has your quest for reviews been so far? Not as successful as I’d like it to be!

Do you have a strategy for finding reviewers? No.

What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews? As long as they’re constructive, or an honest opinion, I really don’t mind. Of course I love getting five-star reviews! I put an enormous amount of work into writing my books and it’s wonderful to get praise. But if someone gives me a bad review, then I try to look at it objectively, and take any comments on board.

Any amusing story about marketing books that happened to you? Not as yet, but I’m sure there will be.

What’s your views on social media for marketing?  I like it. I like the fact that your readers can contact you directly to ask questions and give feedback. It makes it more personal than just doing promotions en masse.

Which social network worked best for you? Facebook, possibly because I’m very familiar with it, but you have a huge prospective readership on there.

Any tips on what to do and what not to do? Set up an author page. Don’t pester people too much to read your book, or drown their newsfeed with your promotions. If you do, they’ll unfollow you.

Did you do a press release, Goodreads book launch or anything else to promote your work and did it work? I do a Facebook launch party and hire an excellent person to help me with it. That has been a very successful strategy.

Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why? There are so many…but I would love to meet William Wallace, because he must have had enormous charisma to unite Scotland as he did, and incredible courage and dedication to his country never to waver for a moment in his loyalty.

 If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why? Lord of the Rings. I would love to be able to invent a whole language, and write so beautifully.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers? Stop wanting to do it, and start writing. Write a journal, poetry, short stories, anything. It’s all practice, and it’s only by writing that you will improve, and find your style. Don’t write with the sole intent to make money; write about something you’re passionate about, and you’re more likely to do it well. #WriteOn

How can readers discover more about you and you work? (links – FB, Pinterest, Twitter, Goodreads. Web site coming…

Facebook: https://facebook.com/pages/Julia-Brannan/727743920650760

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BrannanJulia

Pinterest: http:/www.pinterest.com/juliabrannan

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14060028.Julia_Brannan

 

#ASI: Laura Ag #Wattpad #author

Tell us a little about yourself and your background? 
So I’m a second year Biochemistry student at Warwick University in England. I have always loved science. In fact, I am not at all artistic or creative apart from with literature. I think that’s probably because I immigrated from my family to the UK from India in 2000 when I was 5 and I picked up English quite quickly. Other than that, background wise I’m pretty average. My immediate family consists of my mum, my dad and my younger brother and I have a typical humongous extended Indian family. So I suppose it’s also the slight lack of privacy growing up that meant ‘me’ time was in a book.

Discuss your newest book.
So right now, I’m working on my book ‘Cafe Rouge’ and as many of my reader’s know this started out as a ‘One-Shot’ (ie. a single chapter story) but then due to popular demand I decided to extend it into a book.At first I was only thinking of making this into a small short story to wrap things up nicely with a big, pretty pink bow but then as I started writing I started to want to intricate more things into it. I wanted to explore the characters and this concept of family loyalty more. Now, it’s over 200 pages on my Word document and still not over, so I guess that ‘short story’ concept is blown straight to pieces.

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Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? 
I think any good author will tell you that their favourite place in the world is probably a library. I absolutely LOVED libraries as a child and my parents would take me each week to take out books. That’s really where it came from. Reading books and growing to want to emulate these authors who’s stories you loved so much. From that it was a leap of faith to writing. Of course, my English lessons at school caused me to write a lot and before they got too serious and focused on exams it was a lot about creative writing. I truly enjoyed those lessons and when those lessons did stop, I carried on by myself. Then it became about wanting to share my passion and that’s where writing for an audience came in. So my interest in writing was never sudden but rather a slow burn, who’s origin I cannot exactly pinpoint, that turned into a fire of passion.

What are your current projects? 
So currently I’ve got ‘Cafe Rouge’ to finish and after that I’m still considering what I want to do. I have some ideas but it’s really a toss up. It’s either going to be a romantic, magical type story with elements of supernatural in or I may start another series of books. Or it may not even be any of those.
Other projects are of course, the endless job of editing and while that’s on hold at the moment, when I get more time, that’s also a priority.

What books have most influenced your life most? 
Ohhhh, that’s a tricky question. I think every book you truly read, good or bad influences you and your writing; whether it’s ‘I’m never going to write like that’ or ‘I love how this author has done this’. Books that have truly influenced me and inspired me are psychological thrillers and romance. As strange as both those sound in the same category it’s true. I feel the thing they both have in common in the exploration of the mind. Sometimes in both cases the character’s mind may not be working rationally and I love having to think like them, to figure out what makes them make their decisions and how they react to situations emotionally. Now at least I read a pay less attention to the author and more on the book, unless there’s an author I truly loved.
When I was a teenager that person was Meg Cabot. Her ‘Mediator’ series was my all time favourite and I still to this day have the entire collection. The thing that struck me was the main female character was so strong. Strong but in a subtle way and I loved it. I loved everything about that character.
I also enjoyed a lot of her other books and I think that’s where I grew to love romance stories.

What inspired you to write your first book?
To be brutally honest, it was seeing other people doing a terrible job at it. My first series of books are BDSM featuring books and seeing abuse written as BDSM was not right. Not only because it’s wrong and no impressionable young person should be taught that being forcibly taken and smacked (no matter how hot the person is) is not BDSM unless it’s consensual or agreed upon beforehand. So immediately I wanted to write the community in a true (or truer) sense. But I wanted the stories to have actual storylines with character and relationship development as any other story would. So providing a more representative view of a BDSM relationship between character’s that could be seen as realistic was my target for writing my first book.
Which surprisingly people enjoyed and where I spanned it into 3 more stories.
Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?
So my main character in ‘Cafe Rouge’ is arguably Carlos Castellano. Carlos is a conflicted man who’s father runs the local mafia and who he is expected to predecease from. But Carlos isn’t the same cold, blood killer as his father and when Lola (the female protagonist) finds this out she challenges him on it. Thereby making him question his family loyalty and how far he’s willing to sacrifice himself in the process of making his family happy. So really the thing that he does which makes him special is a juggling act where; he wants to protect Lola, wants to protect the shreds of his humanity that are left but at the same time also wants to honour his family and stay loyal to them.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? 
The message is (I think) really a question for the reader. How much would you sacrifice of yourself for your family? How loyal would you stay to them, even if what they’re asking is compromising your integrity and your conscience?
Although it may seem like it, I’m exactly trying to say that love will make you turn on your family but more that you need to respect and love yourself enough to be able to stand up for yourself, even if it is against those who love you (or claim to).

Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book? 

Ah-ha. This caused a bit of controversy for ‘Cafe Rouge’. Unlike for my other books, I never had even a vague casting idea for the characters. I simply went by descriptions and in all honestly, I have yet to find actors/actresses that match (what I feel) are my character’s descriptions. When I asked several of my reader’s they all had very different answers and in fact, many said they just go by imagination too.

When did you decide to become a writer? 
I honestly don’t feel like I’ve ‘DECIDED’ (in definite) to be a writer at all. Although I write stories (and I suppose that therefore makes me a writer) I don’t think of myself as a ‘real’ writer. I still consider this my hobby and at the moment I’m happy with that. So to be honest, I haven’t decided to be a writer at all.

Why do you write? 
I think there’s many reasons. Firstly, for excitement. I live (what I consider to be) an average, boring life. I mean, sure I go out on the very rare occasion and let loose with my girlfriends but it’s not the same. And while I am grateful for the hand that life has dealt me so far, writing and reading are my sources of adventure and excitement. It’s my way of living another life, one that you may never be able to experience and this is pretty exciting.
Another reason for me is a sick sense of playing God. It’s pretty darn cool to be able to control ‘lives’ and control what you’re characters do. It’s like a far less cool, geeky, weird version of Sims. Seriously?!? I’m thinking we might have been separated at birth. 🙂

What made you decide to sit down and actually start something? 
Again, it was partly stemmed from the whole writing a good BDSM book but also because I latched onto an idea which I started testing out and I got really excited about it. And there’s nothing to loose, people like the story or they don’t. So I just started writing. And because I liked what I was writing and was interested in it, I was able to get more and more written generating more and more interest in the story.

Do you write full-time or part-time?
Part-time, definitely. No, actually, I think a few times my reader’s will probably say less than part-time.

What is the hardest thing about writing?
The most frustrating part is demotivation. Sometimes it just hits you and you just can’t force yourself to write even one sentence, even though you may have ideas about where the story’s going. So I try and think of something else I’m working on in the meantime and come back later to it.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book? 
I’m not an action writer yet despite that I want action in my story so it definitely very difficult for me as more of a romance writer to incorporate those bits of action in, even though it’s not my strong suit.

What is the easiest thing about writing? 
There’s nothing easy about it. But it can bring a lot of satisfaction. Especially when you can get two characters to fall in love and grow that relationship. Then to share it with readers and watch them getting attached to your story brings about a real sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

What book are you reading now? 
Right now, I’m reading a romance novel called ‘Me Before You’ since that is being produced into a film starring Emilia Clarke, Sam Claflin, Charles Dance, Jenna Coleman etc. And my friend leant me the book. It’s a light read as I consider most romance novels are so I tend to read a psychological/crime thriller along with it, to keep my interest on both stories and the psychological/crime thriller I’m reading right now is: Alone in the Dark.

What is one random thing about you? 
Argh, I’m so bad at these. I’ve never had acne. Even when I was going through puberty, I only ever had one or two little spots on my face. I would consider myself pretty lucky for that if I didn’t have eczema.

What is your preferred medium of writing? Pen and paper or strictly tablet and computer?
Computer. I’m a touch typer so as much as I like good ole’ fashioned pen and paper, I use it enough for my revision and if I wrote my entire story on pen and paper it would be considerably shorter. Typing I find I can just keep going and pad out my stories a lot more. I also use an online thesaurus and auto-correct is a life-saver so I’m afraid I’ve joined the 21st Century when I say I definitely prefer writing using a keyboard on a computer. Nothing wrong with going New School.

What does your writing process look like?
I would argue there is a process even if it looks like there isn’t. I tend to start with a basic story starting idea. So X and Y characters do this and they meet like this. Then I like to explore the background of X and Y, think about what makes them unique and compatible. Next I go through basic situations (or ‘scenes’ as I like to think of them as) between X and Y which will solidify their relationship and take them through to the end of the book. Usually these will only be 3 or 4 scenes at the start and I’ll have a definite vague idea of an ending I’ll want. Then I start writing and because I write in short stretches, when I’m in the shower or lying in bed, I ponder over the story and the next scene I want happening between the characters and slowly the story starts to build.
So there’s some structure to it but because many other things in my life are so structured, with writing I like to let it flow more organically. As I write the characters I get a better sense for them and what they would do, how they would react to certain situations and therefore, things tend to naturally build in my writing, taking me to places and scenes I may never have thought of at the start.

Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the shower)? 
Not particularly. When writing I often can’t just focus on typing since I tend to find I get more antsy so I write less. That means that as I’m writing, I tend to also listen to TV shows, occasionally glancing up at it as I’m writing, or listen to music. Most of my writing happens in bed where I’m more comfortable and relaxed too, so no shower writing I’m afraid. LOL

How important are names to you in your books? 
They’re important but I don’t think they’re a great focus of mine. Different people tend to have different connotations to names anyway. I chose ones that I feel sound right for my characters (taking into account their ethnicity and heritage), but I’m not particularly one to look into deeper meanings of names unless it relates to the story.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? 
The most challenging parts are background research. It’s a pain but it’s important and it’s really what gives the story more realism. When an author sounds like they know what they’re talking about even if they don’t, to most reader’s that’s good enough and they will accept that. Especially because I like to set stories in the US and I grew up in the UK, there are gaps in my knowledge of the US government factions, politics etc. so for me research (although challenging) gives me the information necessary to make a realistic character. Research can be a pain, but it pays off in the end.

What is your favorite motivational phrase? 
I’m very into my motivational quotes. I have a rotating background on my laptop of motivational/inspirational phrases on pretty backgrounds to try and keep me focused. If pushed my favourite one has to be: This too shall pass.

What is your favorite book and why? 
That’s a horribly unfair question but I will try my best to answer it. I love a lot of books. A lot. And although I have bookshelves stacked with them, I don’t really tend to read a book (even ones I love) more than once. Well…maybe only the hot scenes in a few. But one book I absolutely adored and read completely more than once is Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. It’s such a conflicting, though provoking book on your own morals, where there’s no character that’s completely ‘good’ or ‘pure’. For me, the psychology of it was incredibly deep and I loved unravelling it. I love unravelling it each time I read it. So in that regard, it is definitely my favourite book.  One of my favorites as well.

Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write what you want. This is a world you’re free to explore and worrying about things like the number of ‘votes’ and ‘comments’ in my opinion only lower your freedom as a writer and the quality of your writing. New genres will always pop up and if your writing doesn’t fit neatly into one or the other, don’t worry about it. Alternatively, if yours does fit solely into one then that’s fine to. It’s about finding what you love to write, writing it and then being able to proudly share it, even if there are some people that don’t like it. Good advice!

What do you like to do when you’re not writing? 
Reading is the obvious one. But I also like to play netball with my university’s society team. When it’s summer I love going on long walks with my mum and since we live in the countryside, it’s absolutely beautiful. Shopping of course is another favourite love of mine and when I can get into the mood, I love cooking too.

From where do you gain your inspiration?
Sometimes, I’ll pull little bits in from other books I’ve read or want themes similar to them. But generally if it’s character behaviour, much of it is from the people around me. But I like to mix and match and try out different combo’s in my mind before committing it to a character. Mostly, inspiration for me is through going through scenarios of the books and character’s in my mind until I click with one and run with it. It takes a while and it’s not instantaneous but for me, that’s just how it works.

What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?
Well, if I ever get published I’ll let you know 😛

How do you market your books?
I’m a crappy marketer. I don’t market at all. I like writing and that’s what I do. I don’t do PR and Marketing but since I’m only on Wattpad as a small time writer and doing it as a hobby, it’s fine. I do the minimal amount of placing awareness on my books and frankly, I’m shocked myself as to why people have actually followed me giving my lack of marketing, though I am grateful. The writing speaks for itself.

What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?
A person’s opinion is their own. I don’t tend to allow good or bad reviews to go to my head. And unless those bad reviews have constructive criticism on which I objectively look at and agree with, I would dismiss it.

Which social network worked best for you?
Again, crappy marketer-don’t use social media for my books.
Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
Oh that’s a loaded question. I’m one of those weird, liberal people who doesn’t really have a role model. I mean, don’t get me wrong I am in awe of many people’s accomplishments and certain inspirational characteristics they have, but no one person is perfect and I don’t believe in idealising them to be. So my choice of wanting to meet Marilyn Monroe isn’t because she’s my role model or anything but it’s a well known fact that the girl knew how to have fun (maybe a little too much), and to have fun with Marilyn Monroe in arguably one of the sexiest Hollywood era’s.

If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?
I warn you now, this is a cop-out answer. But apart from my ‘favourite’ book Lolita, I don’t know which book I’d want to be the original author of. I’ve have a few ‘great’ books that I truly love like Before I Go To Sleep, Thirteen Reasons Why, 1984, Ender’s Game, Room (to name a few). Though I enjoyed them immensely, they’re not ‘me’. In that it’s not my writing style or tone so I can’t imagine having written anything like those incredible books and frankly, I’m damn glad I didn’t even try because their respective authors did awesome jobs on them. I don’t think that’s a cop-out. It’s one of the best answers I’ve had.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers? 
Learn yourself. Don’t be afraid to explore once in a while but really try and get to grips with what you enjoy writing and finding your ‘voice’. Keeping at it and persevering is also important as in any task you do. It may not be as easy as you first thought it would be and you may not be brilliant in the first book you write but as long as you keep at it, the only way is up.

How can readers discover more about you and you work? 
Check out my Wattpad profile with all my works for free on there

#BookReview: Highland Wolf Pact by Selena Kitt 5/5 Stars

Overview: Sibyl’s dad has passed, but her mom has quickly remarried to her uncle (Sibyl’s dad’s brother). Now she is set to marry the Laird of the MacFalon clan. In her short time there she learns of a race of people, descended from Adam’s first wife Lilith, called wulvers. Shapeshifting wolves, and the Laird “hunts” them for sport. Finding his way of hunting despicable, she saves a beautiful wulver that is very pregnant. Subsequently she is captured by their King, and learns she is his mate. MacFalon will not be thwarted and takes one of the wulvers captive. To avoid war and save the lives of those she cares for most, Sibyl rushes back to save her friend and marry the MacFalon. Even though she saved the day, with only one casualty, her mate is mad because she tried to sacrifice herself.

Opinion: Now this is a romance novel! There is danger, romance, sacrifice and still everything turns out alright. It even had coups to overthrow the King of England and raw snapshots of women’s rights…or lack there of. Instead of just two people finding themselves in love, both are worried about the repercussions their union would have. The Wulver King is expected to mate with and conceive a wulver. Sibyl has been promised to the MacFalon Laird as a debt settlement between England and Scotland. The two try to stay apart for the better of the clan, but love wills out and steps are made by both to still avoid destroying the lives of others. Most romance novels say be damned to the consequences and jump in, this was actually settled by a couple thinking about others instead of just what they want.

Recommend: YES