Jera’s Jamboree : Neverland Blog Tours ~ Author Interview Stephanie Keyes


JJ is delighted to be interviewing Stephanie Keyes.


Stephanie Keyes grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and spent years traveling and working as a Corporate Trainer before she made the decision to pen her first novel. As a teen, her family always accused her of having an “overactive imagination.” Now, she’s encouraged to keep her head in the clouds and share her world with readers.

Still a resident of the ‘Burgh, Steph is now Mom to two little boys who constantly keep her on her toes. In addition, she’s best friend to her incredible rockstar of a husband. She is an active member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), as well as a featured author for Love a Happy Ending Lifestyle e-magazine.

Keyes is the author of the YA Fantasy series, The Star Child, which currently includes The Star Child, After Faerie, The Fallen Stars, and The Star Catcher, all from by Inkspell Publishing. The Fallen Stars was a 2013 semi-finalist in the Kindle Book Awards. The Star Child has topped the Amazon best-seller list several times since its 2012 release. Steph writes YA novels because she’s a hopeless romantic who lives to believe that Magick truly does exist. She is hard at work on a new YA novel.



Hi Steph,

Did you travel to any places or undergo any new experiences while you were writing The Fallen Stars?

I packed my entire family (my mother included) into a rented minivan and drove sixteen hours to Bar Harbor, Maine for research. Now, keep in mind, I’d already been there ten years ago, but I wanted a refresher. So I went everywhere in the area. We drove to the top of Cadillac Mountain, had breakfast at Jordan’s (which I call Jacob’s in the book), hiked through the woods by Jordan Pond. I even went on the spooky Compass Harbor Trail and climbed the steps to the remains of the Old Farm estate—the inspiration for the Compass Harbor chapter in this book. It was a great trip and really helped me get into the Maine frame of mind for the book.

Do you have a most creative time of day?

Yes. Early morning. I’m usually up and writing by 5am. I have the house to myself and I can be as grumpy as I like. This usually requires copious amounts of coffee, but it works.

Are you a panster or a plotter?

Oh, God. I am a serial plotter. I probably need help. I can’t write anything valuable without an outline! Of course, once I have an outline, I’m happy to throw it out the window in order to follow where my story needs to go.

Which authors have influenced your writing?

OR Melling, JK Rowling, Cate Tiernan

What are you reading now? Opinion?

Mist Walker by Saundra Mitchell. I am inly about ten pages in, but loving it so far.

Being a writer can be lonely.  Do you have a support network?

Yes, it can! My husband is my number one supporter. He reads everything, listens patiently as I bounce ideas around, and makes me banana and Nutella crepes. I am also a member of The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and participate in a critique group. That Monday night writer’s group is a big part of what motivates me every week. Those guys and gals are the best.

Does your book tackle a social barrier?  How have you incorporated it into the story?

It’s not contemporary, however, there are several underlying themes throughout the series. I think the most important is that, no matter who you are and where you come from, no one else defines you. YOU define you. I believe in that message wholeheartedly. That’s something that applies whether you’re in a fictional world of Faeries or deciding whether you’re ready to have sex for the first time. We all make our own destiny.

Do you make use of local resources for promoting your book?

Absolutely. I’ve appeared at local bookstores and many of the libraries in the Pittsburgh area. This fall, I’ll be presenting at the Three Rivers Romance Writers retreat and at the Peters Township Library, as part of the PA Speak Up For Libraries! program. Details are on

What has been the worst part of your writing journey so far?

Finding my way back to writing. This is, without a doubt, the hardest job I’ve ever had. Keep in mind that I came from a decade in the corporate world with 60+ hour workweeks. That being said, this is also the most rewarding job. I’ve not only found myself in the hundreds of pages I’ve written, but I’ve discovered friends I’ll never forget. The best part is I get to share them with the world. 🙂

Finally Steph, what tips do you have for other aspiring writers?

Embrace critique. Be hungry for feedback. It will only make you better. Hunt down a good critique group and become an active participant. You’ll be a better writer for it.

Thank you for sharing Steph.

Wishing you success with all your writing projects.

17293205When all is lost, he will have to make the ultimate decision.

Kellen St. James was just your average seventeen-year-old prodigy, until he eighty-sixed the Lord of Faerie and proposed to the Celtic Goddess, Calienta. But then everything in Kellen’s life gets turned upside-down when he and Cali end up on the run from a seriously irritated group of faeries. The worst part? They have zero idea why they’re being hunted.

Suddenly, Kellen is stuck in the middle of another prophecy that foresees him turning away from Calienta and embracing the dark. He’ll be forced to take sides in a struggle to claim his birthright, while discovering secrets about his father’s past. Meanwhile, his passion for Cali grows stronger, even as the prophecy threatens to tear them apart.

In the end, will Kellen and Cali survive the fates? When the ultimate power is within reach, which side will he choose?

Amazon UK

Amazon US




Jera’s Jamboree : Author Interview Neil Grimmett

JJ is delighted to be welcoming Neil today



Neil Grimmett has had over eighty five short stories published. In the UK by among others: London Magazine, Stand, Panurge, Iron, Ambit, Postscripts Magazine, Pretext etc. Australia, Quadrant, South Africa, New Contrast. Plus stories in the leading journals of Singapore, India, France, Canada, and the USA, where he has appeared in Fiction, The Yale Review, DoubleTake, The southern Humanities Review, Green Mountains Review, Descant, The Southern Review, West Branch and Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. He has appeared online in Blackbird, Plum Ruby Review, Tatlin’s Tower, Web Del Sol, In Posse Review, m.a.g., Word Riot, Blue Moon Review, 3AM, Gangway, Eclectica, The Cortland Review, Segue, The Dublin Quarterly , Ducts, Sugar Mule, Mysterical E, Thuglit and over thirty others. His stories have also appeared in the anthologies: ENGLAND CALLING, BOOK OF VOICES and Italy’s ISBN’s Top International Stories. He has made the storySouth Million Writers Notable Short Story list for the last three years. In addition, he has won the Write On poetry award, 7 Oppenheim John Downes Awards, 5 major British Arts Council Awards, a Royal Society of Authors award and was just awarded a major grant from the Royal Literary Fund.  He has been signed over the last ten years by twelve of the leading literary agents in both the UK and USA. His current agent is Jon Elek at United Agents .

THE HOARD, Neil’s next novel is about to come out on Kindle.


Welcome Neil,

What was the idea/inspiration for The Threshing Circle?

 The murder of a young English woman who had fallen in love with a Greek Resistance hero and was betrayed to the occupying Germans.

If you could choose to be one of your characters in your book which would you be? and why?

Barba Yiorgos, because he is a complicated, reluctant hero who eventually makes good.

Please tell us about the characters in your book

Kirsty: feisty divorcee who tries to rescue a kidnapped couple. Barba Yiorgos, her reluctant and devious (at first) accomplice. Nikos and his sons: band and evil to the core. And the Cretans with their special take on life.

Was there anything about your protagonist that surprised you?

My characters always end up surprising me. That is how I know when they are alive!

What scene did you most enjoy writing? Why?

The tunnel to the prison. I loved the smell, memory and tension.

What scene was the hardest to write? Why?

The end. Can’t say as it is a spoiler.

Who would you cast in the role of your characters if your book were optioned for a movie?

Several reviewers have said Sean Connery for Barba Yiorgos and he would be perfect if still young enough to try! Julianne Moore for Kirsty.

If you could have given your characters one piece of advice before the opening pages of the book, what would it be … 

Kirsty, run; Barba Yiorgos, stay hidden; Eleni and Patrick don’t come to Crete. But then there wouldn’t have been a book!

Did you do any research for your book?  What resources did you use?

Orthodox Academy of Crete; Chania Museum and several interviews with Resistance fighters and about everyone who I met during six years on Crete!

What inspired you to write?

Like Faulkner said every time I sit down to write, I am inspired! But also, the short story that came out in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and the fascination with the story I felt.

Do you have a most creative time of day?

Morning before anything or anyone gets in the way!

Who designs your book covers?

Damon Za  for the Kindles and a painter, Louise Yeandle, for my early literary novel, The Bestowing Sun.

How do your characters come into existence?  Do they have a bio?

They grow hair by hair, tooth by tooth until flesh covers bone and they begin to move off the slab  by that spark of life I’ve managed to generate.

What are you working on now?

A new novel about to come out called, THE HOARD. And 300 pages into a supernatural thriller.

Do you have a favourite book? Why?  What is it about that book?

Too many; but recently read again Polar Star by Martin Crutz Smith and was amazed that a writer could take a different culture, place it in an almost alien environment and make it totally credible and so surreal at the same time. Great writing. But so many. Comfort book: Brideshead Revisited.

Do you think movie adaptations do books justice?  Do you have a favourite?

Yes and no. Loved Shutter Island and Mystic River nearly as much as the books. Thought Life of Pi better than the book. Thought Blood Works destroyed a good novel.

What are you reading now? Opinion?

Gone Girl; contrivance but an original one. Dr Sleep; brilliant as King often is.

Are there any tips you could share with self-published writers that have worked well for you or was there something difficult you overcame?  How?

At the moment this is new to me after having had top literary agents for the last decade, but something I have been told many times already by Amazon’s top reviewers is: (a) most of the query letters are so badly written they don’t bother to ask to see the book; and (b) most self-published novels are so bad, they are refusing to read them all! So, just because you can self-publish, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are ready to be read. Work, work and work some more. And remember what King said: To write is human; to edit divine.

What has been the best part of your writing journey so far?

My literary credits; the prizes and the recent reviews for THE THRESHING CIRCLE. Plus meeting other writers.

What has been the worst part of your writing journey so far?

14 major literary agents signing me; and all the publishers not quite willing to take a risk.

 Finally Neil, what tips do you have for other aspiring writers?

Keep writing; keep reading. Don’t lose the fact it is about the story and your vision. And do not try to write for the market.

Thank you for sharing with us today Neil.

Wishing you success with all your writing projects.

The Threshing CircleD (4)A young couple arrive on Crete and start prying into the execution of a beautiful English woman during the German occupation sixty years before. They enter a labyrinth of betrayals, murder, greed and vendettas, old and new. Then they disappear.

A feisty Scottish lady and an irascible, Zorba-like Greek, form a reluctant allegiance in a desperate attempt to save them. Each has a very different motive for their actions. Their search will take them to hidden rituals and remote gatherings, famous monasteries and villages abandoned after years of vendettas. To the remote island of Gavdos and to a place ‘even the gods do not know exists’.

All the time they are being stalked by the sons of a man who seeks to complete the crimes of his father and sate his own greed. His sons are more animal than human and have been raised in the mountains for the sole purpose of fulfilling his brutal will.

The mystery of Crete runs deep and the novel explores some of the myths and magic while not shying away from its violent history.

By the end choices will have to be made; if such things are possible on a island where many Cretans still believe, ‘The Cycle of Blood’ can never stop flowing.

US Amazon

UK Amazon



Jera’s Jamboree : Author Interview with Michelle Read ~ Long Lost

JJ is welcoming local author Michelle Read to the blog today.  


Michelle grew up in a small town in South Wales but moved to Dorset in her early teens, and is where she has lived for the past 22 years. In her spare time she enjoys visiting stately homes, castles, museums, archaeology sites, food festivals, reading copious amounts of books, and chatting on Facebook and Twitter. She works as a full time administrator but still manages to fit researching and writing novels around her busy day.

To find out more about Michelle and The Centuries of Love Trilogy please go to:


 UK £1.99

USA $3.36
CANADA $3.25


Twitter @chelle52



Hi Michelle, welcome to JJ!

What was the idea/inspiration for Long Lost?

I was researching my family tree when the idea of time travel to the nineteenth century came to me. Reading and finding out about my ancestors really inspired me. I also became interested in everything to do with Jane Austen and fell in love with her world. I also love Pride and Prejudice and wanted to write my own love story based on that concept.

If you could choose to be one of your characters in your novel, which would you be? and why?

I would love to be my main character, Emily, because I’d love to go back in time. I love British history so I’d love to be able to witness it all first hand. I’d also love to meet a real gentleman as they seem few and far between these days!

Did you do any research for Long Lost?  What resources did you use? 

I love history anyway so doing research for my book was no chore. I visited many stately homes and museums. As I live in Dorset, on the border of Hampshire, I’m surrounded by nature and the countryside, so I often wander through the countryside to immerse myself in nineteenth century England. I also visited Jane Austen’s house and tomb for inspiration. I bought so many books on the nineteenth century and did lots of online research.

What inspired you to write?

My first book, Long Lost, was the first thing I wrote, other than silly plays when I was a child. I first started writing to banish feelings of melancholy but I soon caught the writing bug which developed into something more than a hobby. It became my passion, my reason for being.

Are you a panster or a plotter?

I usually have a vague idea of the plot but the story usually develops as I’m going along. Sometimes what I had planned for the story in the beginning will turn out very differently by the end. I don’t write in sequence either, I prefer to wait for the story to come to me, no matter what order that is. Sometimes it could be the middle and end that gets written first and beginning can be the last.

Long Lost is part of a trilogy.  What is in the future?

Long Lost is the first part of The Centuries of Love Trilogy. I am currently editing part two, which is called Long Last, while part three, Long Love, has been written and waiting patiently for its edit. I explore more of the nineteenth century whilst adding more characters and twists to the story.

What has been the best part of your writing journey so far?

I love losing myself in a fantasy, forgetting all my troubles and immersing myself in a make believe world with the possibilities of them coming true.

What has been the worst part of your writing journey so far?

Imposing self-inflicted deadlines is what I hate the most. But if I don’t set them then my book will never get anywhere. I prefer to go with the flow and not be rushed as I’m quite a laid back person, but eventually there comes a time when I really need to knuckle down.

Which authors have influenced your writing?

I’m not sure if my writing is influenced by any one person as I have so many favourite authors, though I doubt my writing style is anything like theirs. Marian Keyes, Freya North, Lisa Jewell and Jane Green have always been my staple book diet over the years.

Finally Michelle, what tips do you have for other aspiring writers?

Enjoy the process. Don’t get too bogged down with rules, grammar etc, it will all come together at the end as you learn your way through writing your novel. Listen to your heart and not other peoples’ opinions; you know what’s best for you and your writing.

Thank you for being my guest today 🙂

Wishing you success with all your writing projects Michelle.

Long Lost E-Book CoverSometimes the past can be your future

Emily Case is a lonely woman. No family, few friends, job she hates and is single. Life is one long struggle for her.

Then one morning she wakes up two hundred years in the past and her whole world is turned upside down, as she is faced with a new era she knows nothing about. However, she soon finds that she likes her new lifestyle, and the people in it.

On meeting William Chester, owner of The Westfield estate, she quickly falls for him, until she is threatened by a rival for his affections.

But when she realises this life is all she’s ever wanted she is torn away from it and back to her life two hundred years into the future.

Not willing to accept that the twenty-first-century is where her destiny lies she endeavours to seek out the truth of the life she led in the nineteenth-century.

What will she discover on her journey? Was it reality or all just a dream?

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Jera’s Jamboree : Author Interview with Joanne Phillips ~ Cupid’s Way

JJ is delighted to be welcoming Joanne Phillips today.


Joanne Phillips lives in rural Shropshire with her husband and young daughter. She’s the author of romantic comedies Can’t Live Without and The Family Trap, and the Flora Lively series of contemporary mysteries. Can’t Live Without was an Amazon top 20 bestseller in 2012 and her books regularly appear on category bestseller lists. Before becoming a writer, Joanne had jobs as diverse as hairdresser, air hostess and librarian, but now divides her time between writing and finding creative ways to avoid housework. She’s a fan of super-dark chocolate, iced coffee and Masterchef. Visit to say hello.






Hi Joanna,


What was the idea/inspiration for your novel?

Cupid’s Way is the name of a Victorian terrace which is up for demolition to make room for a new development. The inspiration came from a street in Milton Keynes which had been saved from the Development Corporation 20+ years ago and turned into a co-operative.  The street was as colourful as you could get, with cute window boxes and brightly painted front doors, and housed a real mix of characters. Cupid’s Way – and its heroine, Evie Stone – arrived in my head and off I went!

Did you do any research for your book?  What resources did you use?

I had to do quite a lot of research for Cupid’s Way – more than I usually have to. I needed to research planning laws and permissions, and also the location – Bristol – in detail. I didn’t actually go to Bristol at all during my writing process, which probably sounds terrible! But Google Street View is so helpful, and I have lots of friends who know the area really well. As I said above, I had a strong inspiration for the street itself, so my field trip took me to Spencer Street in Milton Keynes to take photos of the original. There’s also a Roman angle to one part of Cupid’s Way, and for this research I used the Bristol City Council’s archive website.

Do you have a most creative time of day?

My most creative time is generally whenever I get a good chunk of time to work. It can take a while to get into a piece of writing, so I don’t do so well with little snippets of time. That said, during the summer holidays when my daughter is at home, I have to take my opportunities wherever I can!

Do you have a theme for your book covers?  Who designs them?

Cupid’s Way is quite different than my previous romantic comedy covers, which were photo-based, whereas this is a lot lighter and brighter. All my covers are designed by Chris Howard, who is brilliant to work with. I think Cupid’s Way and The Family Trap are my favourite covers to date. (I love the cover of Cupid’s Way – it is really uplifting!).

I really have to love a cover to get behind the book – I feel so sorry for some traditionally published authors who have covers foisted upon them that they really don’t like.

Are you a panster or a plotter?

I am a plotter through and through! I tend to write the first three chapters off the cuff, and often re-write them over and over from different perspectives or in, say, present or past tense, until I find which style works for the topic and characters. Then I stop and begin to make a plan. I plan out every scene in detail, and often this plan will be a quarter of the length of the finished novel! But from this I can then be free to write creatively without worrying about plot. Of course, if something isn’t working I just go back to the plan and redo it.

If your book is part of a series, what is in the future?

You know, until this week I had not intended Cupid’s Way to be in any way a series, but then I started thinking: Wouldn’t it be cool to go back to the street and find out more about the other characters? So, right now I’m thinking that Cupid’s Way and its residents will be back in future books, either in full-length novel form or in short stories and novellas.

What is your WIP?

My current WIP is another romantic comedy called You Are Here, due for release in the autumn (or possibly Christmas). It’s about a woman who suddenly decides to leave her husband and go in search of her teenage love. It’s a bit darker than Cupid’s Way, but still a lot of fun.

Being a writer can be lonely.  Do you have a support network?

I’m a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors, and I find their network of support really helpful. It was great to meet up with them at London Book Fair this year, and the Facebook forum is a great source of advice and support. I’m also studying for a Masters in Creative Writing at the moment, and my group of fellow students have been great to work with.  I meet up with a couple of author friends regularly, and I do think meeting up in the ‘real world’ is important even when these friendships originated online.

Have you done any creative writing/writing courses that you would recommend to others?

As I said above, I’m doing a Masters at Manchester Metropolitan University. It’s a really good course, gaining a deserved reputation as one of the most successful of its type. I’ve also studied with the Open University, and attended many one-off writing courses such as Miranda Dickinson’s Write Foxy! one day workshop earlier this year. I would recommend studying the craft if you want to continue to grow as a writer, but that study can take many forms. If done properly, reading other books is one of the best forms of study!

Thank you for sharing with us today Jo.

Wishing success with all your writing projects.

Cupids Way cover smallWhen Evie Stone’s grandparents enlist her help to save their home in Cupid’s Way, Evie is happy to oblige. On the cusp of her thirties, and still disappointingly single, Evie’s so-called dream job with a firm of architects has been driving her crazy for months. What she needs, even more than a new man, is a challenge.

But saving Cupid’s Way won’t be easy. A perfectly preserved Victorian terrace, surrounded by modern estates and retail parks, the street is a proud oasis of quirky characters, cobbled pathways and communal gardens. Unfortunately, it also sits on prime development land worth millions.

Dynamite Construction have the deal in the bag, and soon the residents of Cupid’s Way will be forced to sell up and ship out – CEO Michael Andrews, charismatic and super-successful, has certainly never let sentimentality get in the way of business. At least, he hadn’t until he met Evie Stone.

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Jera’s Jamboree : Author Interview Jules Wake plus excerpt

JJ is delighted to be welcoming Jules Wake today.

Jules Wake_portrait

Writer of fun, contemporary romance. My debut novel Talk To Me published by award winning publisher, Choc Lit, is out now on Kindle and paperback.

From an early age I’ve been an avid reader and started writing when I ran out of books from my favourite authors. In the fantastic digital world we now live in that would never happen.


Twitter @Juleswake

Author Facebook Page


Hi Jules, welcome to JJ!

Hi Sharon

Thank you very much having me on your blog and interviewing me.  I think we share many of the same views on our dear friend Mr Gove! I work in a junior school too … thankfully not as a teacher!

If you had to summarize the book for the readers here …

Talk To Me is the story of Olivia who has been in love with Daniel forever, they’re great friends but one night, inexplicably, he goes off with her flatmate Emily.  In a bid to get over her feelings for Daniel, Olivia goes on speed-date and finds herself in a much worse predicament.  Who is going to rescue her now.

Please tell us about the characters in Talk to Me.

Olivia, the heroine, is a down to earth, sensible, natural leader who gets on well with everyone.  She’s a bit of a golden girl except when it comes to relationships.   Having caught one boyfriend in flagrante delicto, she’s not about to trust anyone with her heart again, unless she’s damn sure they deserve it.  Her moral compass is set due north and she assumes those around are as honest and trustworthy as she is.  Unfortunately she learns the hard way that this isn’t always the case.  She also suffers very badly from car sickness!

Emily, Olivia’s flatmate, is gorgeous, blonde, petite and has a double D chest she’s not afraid to flaunt.  Sadly she’s horribly insecure and if there’s an easy way out, you can guarantee she’ll be first in the queue to take it.  Fiercely jealous of Olivia, she can be an absolute cow sometimes and makes some incredibly rude comments which quite frankly take your breath away.  Typically Olivia puts up with her because she knows Emily came from a very unstable background.

Kate, is possibly my favourite character and deserves a story to herself.  She’s Olivia’s sister, outspoken, bossy, opinionated and wedded to the high life.   Luxury and quality are her mantras in life and she’ll settle for nothing less, even if it doesn’t necessarily make her happy.

Last but absolutely not least is Daniel, loyal, intelligent, warm, caring and a little bit haunted by the aftershocks of his parent’s marriage break-up. An endearing chip in one tooth is all that spoils his perfect all American teeth, a sporting wound that makes him ever so slightly less than perfect.

Was there anything about your protagonist that surprised you?

What surprised me the most was how persistent Olivia and Daniel were?  Once I had them in my head, they wouldn’t let go.

Originally the book was called Dislodging Daniel, he was supposed to be a selfish sod who played cricket constantly and she was supposed to be a bit of doormat who learned how to stand up for herself.

Somehow the two characters took root and did their own thing, which meant the story unfolded very differently.   He turned out to be a really lovely guy, just going out with the wrong girl and she turned out to be a good, solid character who needed to learn to play by other people’s rules to get what she wanted.

What scene did you most enjoy writing? Why?

The speed dating scene was probably my favourite.  Obviously some of the dates are going to be awful, so you can have a huge amount of fun with their characters.  The character of Anthony was based on someone I once saw on University Challenge who was gorgeous to look at but had an utterly loathsome personality.

During the speed date he demonstrates passive rudeness in the extreme and it was great fun writing the dialogue between him and Olivia.  She just keeps putting her foot in it and making things worse and worse.

What scene was the hardest to write? Why?

I think the final scene was the hardest to write, you want to wrap things up in a satisfactory way but where do you stop?  Readers want them to have the happy ever after and see a glimpse of that … how much do you give them and if you don’t give them enough will they feel cheated.   It was also a bit sad saying goodbye to these people whose lives you’ve been totally absorbed in for the last however many months.

Who would you cast in the role of your characters if your book were optioned for a movie?

Olivia would probably be Katherine Hegl because she always comes across as an intelligent actress and I loved her as the wise cracking, Stephanie Plum in the adaption of Janet Evanovich’s One for the Money.

Emilia Fox could play Emily but would have to be much cattier of course.

Kate is a much younger Kristin Scott Thomas, she has that aristocratic decisiveness about her.

Although he’s not actor, now that his rugby and dancing career is over, I’m sure Ben Cohen would be up for playing Daniel.

If you could have given your characters one piece of advice before the opening pages of the book, what would it be …

Don’t trust the Tom Cruise look-alike

And why? That would be telling!


A question for readers

Sometimes Emily says some outrageous things, they’re so shocking Olivia and Daniel often can’t quite believe it, so don’t react?

A friend of mine told me that her mother had told her she’d be quite attractive but unfortunately her ears were in the wrong place. What’s the worst thing anyone has said to you?



Although I really didn’t want to travel home with Daniel and Emily, it was the most logical thing to do. Perhaps I could doze off in the back without feeling sick. I knew it was a hopeless wish.

‘But, Daniel …’ said Emily, her voice quavering with the unfairness of it as we left the hotel reception. She wasn’t happy that he’d relegated her to the back seat.

‘If Olivia goes in the back seat we’ll have to stop every few minutes because she’ll feel like throwing up. Believe me, we have history.’

I winced. Did he have to say that? Emily was twitchy enough about our long- standing friendship without being reminded of it at every turn.

‘We’ll be lucky to make it back without at least one stop as it is.’

I felt like the troublesome family dog.

The tree-shaded car park was almost deserted when we got to Daniel’s Audi, most of the wedding guests having already departed.

I climbed into the passenger seat, feeling guilty.

‘Got your two pences?’ asked Daniel in a clipped voice, as he slid into the driver’s seat.

‘No … good idea.’

He beat me to it, producing two shiny copper coins from his wallet before I could open my bag. ‘Here you go. Don’t spend it all at once.’ He handed them over, with the semblance of a smile and started the engine.

I watched as he put the car into gear, his tanned, capable forearm scant inches from my knee and then held onto my breath a second too long as he put his arm across the back of my seat to reverse out of the car park.

I closed my eyes momentarily.

It wasn’t fair. With his tousled blond hair, twinkling blue eyes and that endearing slightly chipped front tooth which showed when he smiled, why did he have to be so damned irresistible.

The first time I met him I’d gone all gooey.

There’d been a card on the Student Union noticeboard: Available – lift share to Maidenhead area. Half petrol costs. It didn’t say people with chronic carsickness need not apply.

When he pulled up in his tiny Mini he had to ask twice if I was Olivia. My tongue had glued itself to the roof of my mouth. Wearing loose, faded jeans and a Diesel T-shirt, he’d unfolded his six-foot frame from the car and given my hand a firm shake. At that point I’d have said yes if he’d asked if I was Edna from Edinburgh.

Him being the perfect gentleman was an added bonus. He stopped three times on that first journey to let me heave up my breakfast.

You’d think I wouldn’t see him for dust after that but no, he kept offering me lifts, cementing a strong friendship. Let’s face it, you cover an awful lot of ground in a three hour car journey and you can’t help but love a guy who brings you a new travel sickness remedy to try each time. We went through wristbands, Joy-Rides, ginger biscuits – which I later discovered are for morning sickness – and mint tea before discovering that, for me, clutching copper coins works best.

TTM_packshot copyOlivia and Daniel certainly aren’t talking the language of love …

Olivia has been in love with Daniel forever but, despite her best efforts, they’ve never been able to get it together. Their relationship has always been a series of mixed messages and misunderstandings and the final straw comes when Daniel mysteriously starts dating her flatmate, Emily. Hurt and confused, Olivia resolves to forget her heartache with a spot of speed dating. After all, what could possibly go wrong?
One crazy stalker later and Olivia’s life is becoming increasingly strange and scary. Can she rely on Daniel to step in when events take a terrifying turn or will their communication breakdown ultimately result in tragedy?

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Jera’s Jamboree : Promo blitz interview ~ Tanya J Peterson

JJ is delighted to be taking part in Brook Cottage Books promo blitz today with an interview.

Tanya Peterson

Tanya J. Peterson holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education, Master of Science in counseling, and is a Nationally Certified Counselor. She has been a teacher and a counselor in various settings, including a traditional high school and an alternative school for homeless and runaway adolescents, and she has volunteered her services in both schools and communities. Peterson is an active volunteer with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), and she is a regular columnist for the Anxiety-Schmanxiety blog on

She draws on her education, experience, and personal background with bipolar 1 disorder and anxiety to write stories about the psychological aspect of the human condition, specifically mental illness and the impact it has on human beings. Her goal is to change the way the world thinks about mental illness and the people who live with it.

Peterson believes that fiction is a powerful vehicle for teaching fact. Further, she knows that people empathize with characters in novels, and commonly they transfer their empathy to real-life human beings. To that end, she has published Leave of AbsenceMy Life in a Nutshell, and the YA novel Losing Elizabeth.  Additionally, she has published Challenge!, a short story about a person who finds the confidence to overcome criticism and achieve a goal, and a book review of Linley and Joseph’s Positive Therapy: A Meta-Theory for Positive Psychological Practice that appeared in Counseling Today, the national publication of the American Counseling Association.

Peterson has also been interviewed on numerous radio shows, given presentations on mental illness and book readings nationwide, spoken on mental illness at the 2013 national conference of the Mothers of Incarcerated Sons Society, Inc., and has been quoted in various articles about mental health and mental illness.

Twitter @tanyajpeterson1

Author Facebook Page


Hi Tanya, welcome to JJ

Please summarise My Life in a Nutshell : A Novel in 20 words or less.

Summarizing things isn’t my strong suit! I’ll give it a shot, though: a novel about a man and a girl coping with anxiety and instability. Ta-da! Thirteen words that don’t do it justice.

What was the idea/inspiration for your novel?

Tens of millions of people worldwide live with anxiety disorders, and I wanted to show the world what that’s like. (I’ll elaborate on this below.)

Did you do any research for your book?  What resources did you use? 

Research? Definitely! I must admit that I’m a bit of a nerd. When I was in high school, college, and even graduate school, I loved receiving the course syllabi because I couldn’t wait to see what papers I’d get to write, then I would begin research as quickly as I could. (Okay everyone, please don’t stop reading this now. I promise that my novels aren’t dry research papers!)

In all seriousness, I did indeed do research. I do for all of my novels. I want to portray mental illness accurately, so I do things to make sure I do. I’m a nationally certified counselor (US) so I do have a background in things like anxiety. I myself have experienced significant anxiety, so that helped. I write an anxiety column for, and I drew on the research I do for that. Also, I talked to people who experience anxiety. This way, I was able to draw on scientific/factual research, personal experience, and the experience of other real people in order to create Brian, a fictitious character who is indeed realistic. Also, with my background as a teacher and a school counselor plus being a mother, I know kids and their developmental stages, how they’re affected by life’s problems, etc. So Abigail, the little girl in the story, was also born out of research and reality.

What inspired you to write? 

Many things came together to motivate me to write what I do. I write because I want to increase understanding about what mental illness is like and, especially, to increase empathy for those who live with it. I want to humanize mental illness. (The term mental illness is very broad. My novels are more specific. My previous novel, Leave of Absence, is about a woman with schizophrenia and a man who has PTSD and depression. This new novel, My Life in a Nutshell, is about debilitating anxiety disorders).

I write what I do so I can (hopefully) help reduce the stigma and the stereotypes associated with mental illness. Stigma is definitely a social barrier; it’s a prejudice that really works against people. I know this because as a certified counselor, I saw people who were misunderstood and were suffering because of it. I also know this because I’ve faced these prejudices myself. I live with mental illness. I have bipolar 1 disorder and experience various anxieties.

I write novels instead of non-fiction because they’re fun, I always fall deeply in love with my characters, and characters are people so real-world people can connect with them. I definitely want to increase empathy and understanding, but I want to do through storytelling rather than merely informing or preaching. People deserve that!

How do your characters come into existence?  Do they have a bio?

It’s strange. My characters always feel as though they’ve been with me, an integral part of me, forever. It’s as though they’re all there, even future ones, waiting for a chance to be heard. (My novels aren’t autobiographical, so it’s not like they’re my memories. They’re definitely characters in their own right.) I first think of the story I want to tell, the message I’m relaying, then I envision how to tell it and who is going to experience it. Then they’re instantly there, and we’re intimately connected. Throughout the entire process, I “feel” them rather than “think” them. I “think” the facts and the research and some aspects of the plot, but I “feel” the characters and much of their experiences.

What is your WIP?

I’m currently working on a novel about dissociative identity disorder and how it impacts people’s lives – and how it messes with them in often painful ways, but it does not make them unable to love or to be loved.

Do you have a book trailer?  What do you think book trailers achieve?

I do!

I think that book trailers are neat. They offer readers a way to take a quick peek into a book in a unique way. Sure, there are written descriptions and reviews, which are always going to be the most powerful ways for readers to see if they want to read a novel, but trailers could be an initial way of drawing attention. I once had someone, who was considering a trailer, ask if I thought that trailers paid for themselves through increased sales. I don’t think they should be thought of that way. I think they’re one piece of this huge puzzle. On their own, each little piece doesn’t do much, but together, they create a unified “picture” of who an author is and what his/her books are like that help readers decide what they want to read.

Who is your targetted audience? Have you written for other genres or plan to in the future?

My work is geared for adults. Teens could read my novels because they’re pretty clean, but neither of my novels is in the YA genre. I write primarily for those interested in psychology, mental health/illness, and the like. Writers do need to have a specific target audience, and I do. However, I write stories that are entertaining rather than heavy-handed and preachy and are human interest stories and will thus appeal to readers who just want to read about people and their general struggles and triumphs.

I really love my genre and feel passionate about my characters and what they go through, so I don’t foresee myself switching genres any time soon. It’s said that people should never say never, so I won’t! But I have no active plans to mix it up.

What has been the best part of your writing journey so far?

I have two best parts (yes, I’m one of “those” people who couldn’t handle true/false tests in school because I saw little nuances in the choices and could never pick just one). The first best part is the writing itself. I absolutely love writing novels (even more than I love writing my various articles and the HealthyPlace column). It’s the one activity where I can lose myself and experience flow. My thoughts stop racing, or rather, they continue to race, but they’re focused on one thing: the story. It’s a wonderful feeling.

My second best thing is the reaction from, and interaction with, readers. I’ve had people contact me or write in reviews that they have friends or relatives who live with mental illness and that my novels help them understand them better (for real!). I’ve had people say that my characters (in Leave of Absence because My Life in a Nutshell is just barely out) stayed with them for a very long time or are even still with them. Leave of Absence, because it addresses an important social issue, has been nominated to be the 2016 “common read” for all incoming freshmen at a university here in the US. I won’t know for quite a while if I’ve been chosen, but the very idea that I’ve been nominated for this is an amazing feeling. To me, this is special not because it fuels my ego but because it means that my novels are starting to do what I wanted them to do: open eyes and hearts to people living with mental health issues as well as to family and friends of such people.

Thank you for being in my hot seat today Tanya.

Wishing you success with all your writing projects.

Blank white book w/pathMy Life in a Nutshell: A Novel is the story of one man’s struggles with debilitating anxiety. Brian Cunningham has isolated himself to such a degree that his human contact is barely more than an hour a day. While lonely, he feels powerless to change his life. Unexpectedly, his safe little world is invaded by one Abigail Harris, a seven-year-old girl who, for the last five years, has bounced from foster home to foster home. She has come to live with an aunt and uncle she has never known. Unsure if she can trust her new environment, she turns to Brian. Neither one quite knows how to live in the world. Can they possibly help each other?

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Jera’s Jamboree : Author Interview Jane Lovering

I’m delighted to be welcoming Jane to JJ today.

In August 2012 I reviewed Vampire State of Mind (the first book in the series) and the second book, Falling Apart, was published in May.

Jane with award copy

Jane Lovering was born in Devon but, following extradition procedures, now lives in Yorkshire.  She has five children, four cats, two dogs and doesn’t believe in housework so the the bacteria and dust are approaching sentience and now rank among the pets.  Incidentally, she doesn’t believe in ironing either, and the children all learned self-defensive cookery at early ages.  She works in a local school and also teaches creative writing, which are extreme ways of avoiding the washing up.  Jane is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and has a first class honours degree in creative writing.

Jane writes romantic comedies which are often described as ‘quirky’.  One day she’s going to find out what that means.

Hi Jane,
If you could choose to be one of your characters in your books which would you be? and why?

Well I wouldn’t want to be one of the vampires, they’re all so broody and obsessed with doing the Right Thing, except Zan, who’s just obsessed… I think I’d like to be Liam, my heroine’s sidekick in Falling Apart.  He’s sensible and down to earth and in charge of the biscuits, so…yes, given my own fondness for a well-turned HobNob, I think I’d aim to be the bloke with the biscuit tin.

 Do you have a favourite place  you go to for inspiration or a favourite activity?

Well, apart from eating biscuits, I usually find that I get most inspired when I am as far as possible from any medium on which I can record my fabulously inspired ideas.  Out walking the dogs is one.  I walk along and leave the dogs largely to their own devices (it’s fine, they are mostly well behaved), muttering to myself and practicing dialogue.  It helps that everyone in the village already considers me to be the far side of bonkers.  I also get terrific inspiration in the shower.  These has resulted in me being possibly the fittest and cleanest author you will ever meet.

 Do you have a theme for your book covers?  Who designs them?

Both the covers for the books in my Vampires of York series have a ‘theme’.  Vampire State of Mind has York Minster all blood red and outlined with ivy; York Minster features in the book as the place where the Dead Run statues chase our heroine, and Falling Apart’s cover has Whitby Abbey in an eye-catching purple with more ivy.  There is a big denouement at Whitby in the book, where the Abbey plays a role, so it’s very apt and also makes a very atmospheric cover!  The covers are designed, as are most of the Choc Lit covers, by the lovely Berni Stevens, who is massively talented and always manages to capture the ‘spirit’ of the book on the cover.

Plus they look great side by side on any bookshelf.

Are you a panster or a plotter?

I am a pantser to a disgusting degree.  In fact (and I shall whisper this, because it distresses some people), I was so pantsy whilst writing Falling Apart, that I actually started it, realised that the story wasn’t working, and deleted 30,000 words.  Then I had to go back to the drawing board and start again.  In some ways this was a good thing, because I’d ‘written myself back in’.  Vampires of York is my first ever attempt at a series and I was having trouble getting my head back into the Alternate York where I’d set the first book.

Also, Falling Apart follows the same cast of characters, and I realised I needed to get back ‘into’ them, which the 30,000 words helped me to do.  After that, I just sort of wrote things, which seemed to work.

I start out with characters, in all my books.  I know the people, and I know roughly what needs to happen, and I usually have an end scene in mind.  The rest is all the work of my subconscious, I just sit back, eat biscuits and look at pictures of kittens, while my subconscious does the hard bits.

 What’s is in the future for the series?

Aha, you are trying to trick me now!  I’ve just confessed to being a ‘pantser’ and now you are trying to get me to admit I have some vague idea of what happens next!  I see your plan!

Actually, I do have some ideas…most of which I will not reveal here because..well, I’m not entirely sure what they are yet, but rest assured, by the time I write the third in the series, I will.  I do know that it involves a national threat, Jess, Zan and a werewolf on the North York Moors, and everybody on the run.  Any more than that and you’ll have to apply to my subconscious.  In writing, it’s very strict about that.

 What is your WIP?

Actually you’ve hit the jackpot here, because there are two.  One is just completed, except for the tweaking, and the other is just started.  The finished one is called I Don’t Want to Talk About It, and is about a woman who is writing a book about grave fashions (that’s the style of gravestones and inscriptions, not the clothes people are buried in) and running away from her editor, and the other is called Crush, where our heroine is an introspective girl who is desperately in love with the man who runs a Historic House.  This one features falconry and tea shops, which are two of my major loves.

 Being a writer can be lonely.  Do you have a support network?

 I work in a school, where I’m a Science Technician, and, as you can probably imagine, there are quite a lot of people around me most of the time.  Everyone is massively supportive of my writing and anyone who catches me at the photocopier (where, unscientifically, I spend a lot of my time – seriously, you would not believe the amount of photocopying which goes on in schools) asks after the writing.  I work with a lovely team of people who don’t mind me bouncing ideas off them and, in extreme cases, practicing things.  There is a smoke bomb in Hubble Bubble which was trialled quite extensively up in the Science Department… (I remember that smoke bomb in the story!)

Then there’s my local chapter of the RNA, the Yorkshire Terriers, who are tremendous fun, very supportive and a general all round bunch of Good Eggs. Plus we have wonderful arguments about the necessity of man-titty on covers, which I find fabulously encouraging…

What has been the best part of your writing journey so far?

Oh, far and away it has to be winning the Romantic Novel of the Year with Please Don’t Stop the Music in 2012. My first book with Choc Lit, and, incidentally, a book that got turned down by loads of other publishers – and it won!  I still get little moments of shivery giggles about all that.  Although I fear I did make the most disgraceful speech, so I’m probably never allowed to win anything else ever again.

 What has been the worst part of your writing journey so far?

I’m not sure there has been a ‘worst part’ really.  It’s writing, it’s not alligator wrestling or working down a mine – I can do it in my bed, in my pyjamas, with a stack of biscuits to hand, and there’s not many jobs you can say that about, really.  Oh, there are always set backs (see above, re deleted 30,000 words) and bad reviews and a lack of ideas and everything, but compared to working on a trawler off the Dogger bank in February…it’s not so bad.  Although I’ve never worked on a trawler, I imagine it’s not all salty shanties and lying on deck drinking Tizer.  I stand to be corrected, of course.

 Finally, what tips do you have for other aspiring writers?

 If you want to write, write.  Don’t imagine it’s your gateway to fame and fortune and TV appearances though, write because you have to, because you can’t not write.  And finish what you write.  The world is full enough of first chapters, and it’s only through actually writing a novel that you find out how characterisation works, and plot arcs and growth and things.  Practice, practice.  And read too, everything you can find, not just in your chosen genre but crime and biographies and sci fi and everything else.  You can read my books too, if you like.  No pressure.

Thanks for being in my hot seat today Jane.

Wishing you success with all your writing projects.

9781781891131In the mean streets of York, the stakes just got higher – and even pointier.

Jessica Grant liaises with Otherworlders for York Council so she knows that falling in love with a vampire takes a leap of faith. But her lover Sil, the City Vampire in charge of Otherworld York, he wouldn’t run out on her, would he? He wouldn’t let his demon get the better of him. Or would he?

Sil knows there’s a reason for his bad haircut, worse clothes and the trail of bleeding humans in his wake. If only he could remember exactly what he did before someone finds him and shoots him on sight.

With her loyalties already questioned for defending zombies, the Otherworlders no one cares about, Jess must choose which side she’s on, either help her lover or turn him in. Human or Other? Whatever she decides, there’s a high price to pay – and someone to lose.

Paperback includes a free digital copy – details within the paperback.

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Jera’s Jamboree : Author Interview Ben Peek THE GODLESS ~ a new fantasy series

JJ is delighted to be welcoming Ben Peek today


Ben Peek is an Australian author who lives in Sydney with books, a cat, and a photographer named Nik.  He has written several books and contributed to many, many anthologies; a short fiction collection, Dead Americans, was published in March 2014, and the first novel in the Children trilogy, The Godless, will be published in August 2014.


Twitter @nosubstance


Hi Ben,


Please summarise The Godless in 20 words or less.

 The Godless is the story of an army laying siege to a small mountain town that has been built over the corpse of the dying god, Ger.

 Please tell us about the characters in your book

There are three main characters in the book: Ayae, an apprentice cartographer, Zaifyr, a man adorned with charms, and Bueralan, a mercenary.

Each of them represent a different point of view in the events that unfold.

If you could have given your characters one piece of advice before the opening pages of the book, what would it be …

Exs are always trouble.

Do you have a most creative time of day?

It tends to change. Right now, I enjoy writing during the day, but in previous years, I have liked the night, and the early morning more. I guess, like most things, changing it up is a good bit for your creativity.

 Are you a panster or a plotter?

A mix of both. I tend to rewrite a lot.

The Godless is part of a series, what is in the future?

 The second book is called Leviathan’s Blood. I turned that in just recently and have begun work on the third.

 Do you think movie adaptations do books justice?  Do you have a favourite?

Nah, I tend to think most are rubbish, if you have read the book first. Occasionally, if you have seen the film first, it works out alright. I quite enjoyed Joe Connelly’s Bringing Out the Dead, though I saw the film first, for example.

Have you done any creative writing/writing courses that you would recommend to others?

Actually, I have a doctorate in creative writing. Mostly, I recommend doing courses only if you have something you want to try, and want to push. It is a good way to put an artificial boundary around yourself early on, when the struggle to finish work is at its hardest.

What tips do you have for other aspiring writers?

 Beware anyone selling you a short cut.

Thanks Ben.  Looking forward to reading The Godless and wishing you success!

Ben Peek

An exciting new fantasy series in the vein of Mark Lawrence’s Prince of Thorns and Joe Abercrombie’s The Blade Itself.

Paperback: 438 pages
Publisher: Tor; Air Iri OME edition (14 Aug 2014)
ISBN-10: 1447251261
ISBN-13: 978-1447251262

Fifteen thousand years after the War of the Gods and their corpses now lie scattered across the world, slowly dying as men and women awake with strange powers that are derived from their bodies. While some see these powers as a gift – most call them a curse.

When Ayae – a young cartographer’s apprentice in the city of Mireea – is trapped in a burning building, she is terrified as a dormant power comes to life within her. The flames destroy everything around her but she remains unscathed – fire cannot touch her. This curse makes her a target for the army marching on her home – an army determined to reclaim the body of the god Ger, who lies dying beneath the city, and harness his power for themselves.

Zaifyr, a man adorned in ancient charms, also arrives in Mireea. His arrival draws the attention of two of the ‘children of the gods’, Fo and Bau, powerful, centuries-old beings who consider themselves immortal. All three will offer different visions for Ayae’s powers – and whatever choice she makes will result in new enemies.

Meanwhile, as the army approaches ever closer to Mireea, the saboteur Bueralan and Dark, his mercenary group, look to infiltrate and learn its weaknesses. Alone in a humid, dangerous land, they find themselves witness to rites so appalling they realize it would take the Gods themselves to halt the enemy’s attack – and even they may not be enough.

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Jera’s Jamboree : Author Interview Joseph Rinaldo

JJ is delighted to have indie author Joseph Rinaldo on the blog today.

Headshot Joe Rinaldo

Joseph Rinaldo lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with his family that included a cat named Caesar. Caesar plays himself in this book.

The protagonist in Valerie’s Retreat runs off with a man sixteen years her junior. My wife is sixteen years my senior, so many of our triumphs and trials have made their way into this book. Our relationship provided a good foundation for the two main characters’ lives together. The way his and her friends react to their age disparity also derives, at least in part, from my own experience.

For approximately one year I labored as a Head Teller at a bank. This employment history enabled me to create a believable bank robbery. The theft described in Valerie’s Retreat is easy to conceive and execute, but leaves a very clear path to the perpetrator. That is why the characters had to immediately run.

If you are part of a book club, I would be more than willing to be a guest at one of your meetings where any of my books are discussed. Please feel free to contact me through my website ( or on Facebook.


Hi Joseph,

Please summarise Valerie’s Retreat in 20 words or less.

Valerie’s Retreat tells about the life of a Cougar. Not the sex-hungry older woman looking for another younger man trophy, but a woman you could relate to and will probably like.

What was the idea/inspiration for your novel?

Valerie’s Retreat follows the life of a forty-one-year-old woman who happens to fall in love with a man sixteen years younger. My wife is sixteen years older than I am, so that might have helped foster this idea for a book. The jokes Valerie must endure, such as, “Do you have to cut his meat for him?” are actual barbs my wife received during our dating process. Like Valerie, I also worked in a bank. Unlike Valerie, I never considered robbing the bank where I worked.

Valerie doesn’t consider herself a “Cougar”. Franco, her boyfriend, happened to attend the same church singles dance on the same night. They talked, talked some more, went on a date, and presto- they’re boyfriend/girlfriend. That’s how it happened with my wife and me. “Cougar” makes the women dating younger men seem somewhat predatory. That isn’t the case at all with Valerie or my wife. For the record, my wife never considered robbing a bank either. Well, maybe considered, but never planned it out.

If you could choose to be one of your characters in your book/books which would you be? and why?

That’s tough to answer. All of the characters in my books have flaws and inner turmoil. Who wants to take that on?

Did you do any research for your book?  What resources did you use? 

Research for me falls into two categories: intentional and inadvertent. Intentional is when I needed to learn about extradition treaties between the US and an unnamed country in Valerie’s Retreat, I looked it up. If you do a lot of intentional research for a work of fiction, I suspect the book will be terrifically boring as you try to show off all the stuff you’ve learned. The much more important research happens as life goes on. Valerie is a hodge-podge of people I’ve met, seen, and made up. Watching other people react or studying patterns of behaviour, that’s the kind of knowledge that makes for an interesting story.

Which authors have influenced your writing?

This question is not: Who does your writing style mirror? But people often read the answer and hear, “He likes Dan Brown, so that’s what his books are like.” I read a book by Bob Woodward about the CIA during the Reagan years. Shortly after that I wrote A Spy At Home. Garrison, a CIA operative in A Spy At Home, sees his professional life as a wasted career. The idea germinated while reading Mr. Woodward’s book; however, none of the factual account from his work made it into my novel.

Do you have a book trailer?  

I have a trailer for Valerie’s Retreat, A Mormon Massacre, and A Spy At Home. The process of writing the script, working with the actors, and filming is a great deal of fun. Unfortunately, the trailers have not accomplished anything so far. I would recommend not making one. Please feel free to leave comments on any of my trailers’ YouTube pages. I’m interested to know what you think.  Here are the links:

Valerie’s Retreat:

A Mormon Massacre:

A Spy At Home:

What has been the worst part of your writing journey so far?

Editing! I hate rereading my own work and thinking, does that word fit there? Does that scene fit here in the story? Should the scene be included at all? Can I create a better plot twist? Does Valerie’s friend Janet come across as intelligent? Does… you get the idea; I hate that part.

What tips do you have for other aspiring writers?

You really need to find someone who will tell you if your work stinks. Most people won’t. In fact, it’s very hard to find someone honest enough to do that.

How do you launch your books?

We focus on the internet in a variety of ways. The toughest part is to get people to read that first book.I understand people are hesitant to give independent authors a chance. If any of my books: A Spy At Home, Hazardous Choices, A Mormon Massacre, or of course Valerie’s Retreat (all available on Amazon) interest you, please go to the free “Click to Look Inside” and sample the first chapter. If a book grabs you that quick, you’ll probably be glad you got it. Also, if you are in a book club that reads one of my books. I’d be honored to join your discussion. Feel free to contact me through Facebook or my website,

Thank you for your honesty Joseph.  Wishing you success with your projects!

V.R. book cover for KindleValerie, a middle-aged woman, leading an average life as a head teller at a bank finally finds her soul-mate, Franco. He’s sixteen years younger and studying for a Ph.D. in Archeology, but they click. Suddenly, the evil hand of fate causes their lives to fall into a downward spiral. They lean on each other. Trying to find happiness they happen to commit a little crime – make that a little felony, and dash out of the country. Now they’re happy – mostly.


Author Links

author website:
author blog:
Amazon book link (US ebook):
Amazon book link (US paperback):
Amazon book link (UK ebook):
Amazon book link (UK paperback):
Twitter profile:
Facebook author page:
LinkedIn author profile:
YouTube video book trailer:
Goodreads book page:
Other novels available on Amazon:
A Spy At Home
Hazardous Choices
A Mormon Massacre
Google+ page:
Library Thing profile:
Pinterest profile:
Shelfari profile:
Other YouTube video book trailers –
A Spy At Home:
A Mormon Massacre:


Jera’s Jamboree : Author Interview + Giveaway ~ Phoebe Fox

JJ is delighted to be welcoming Phoebe Fox on publication day!


Phoebe Fox has been a contributor and regular columnist for a number of national, regional, and local publications; a movie, theater, and book reviewer; a screenwriter; and has even been known to help with homework revisions for nieces and nephews. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and two excellent dogs.



Hi Phoebe,

Happy Publication day!

Please summarise your debut, The Breakup Doctor, in 20 words or less.

Former therapist finds successful new career coaching people through breakups, but breaks all her own rules when she gets dumped.

Did you do any research for your book?  What resources did you use? 

It was funny—as soon as anyone found out the premise of my book, they would immediately begin telling me the most outrageous, awful, hilarious, sad breakup stories. And I mean not just friends, but people I would randomly meet. Some of these may have found their way into the book, in some form… 🙂

The central development for Brook—the way her boyfriend dumps her by pretty much vanishing—was inspired by something that happened when my now-husband and I were first dating. We had been talking or e-mailing almost every day since we met, but a month or so later he went to a yoga retreat type of thing—not a silent-meditation retreat, but more like a wellness resort. And after all this intense conversation and interaction, he fell off the grid for days. It was early enough in that I was pretty sure he was there with someone else, and I was kind of poleaxed by it, because we had been connecting so well (and so much!) that I wondered how I could have misread things so badly. I call this the Great Disappearance, though my husband still thinks I was a little mental about it. Which argument I probably cannot counter…even retelling this story here, I’m blushing a little at how insecure it sounds to me now. But this is yet another piece of the genesis of the book—even the most logical and sane of us can get a little crazy in a relationship, especially if our feelings are deeply engaged.

I still have friends tell me so often about bad breakups they are going through, or even ones that friends of theirs went through, and I’m constantly reminded how universal some of these things are: the devastation of rejection, the pain of loneliness, the fear of inadequacy. These are such common, human vulnerabilities, and they get tapped so keenly in relationships, and especially their endings. And yet there are seemingly endless permutations of them in our individual relationship travails. It’s like Brook says in the first book, Paul Simon had it wrong—there are so many more than fifty ways to leave your lover. Heartbreak has so many faces, but it’s often through that pain that we learn and grow the most.

If you could choose to be one of your characters in your book/books which would you be? and why?

Sasha, without question. She’s Brook’s—my therapist—best friend since childhood, and where Brook is ego or superego, Sasha is all id. She has this Zen-like understanding that being human means not being perfect, and she’s just so comfortable with that, even when she’s a total wreck. She’s nothing at all like me. She just vomits up whatever’s on her mind, follows her impulses, and when it all falls apart around her, she just kind of shrugs and starts over, no judgments. She’s like a really good-natured but slightly out-of-control dog. I don’t even know where she came from as I was writing her, but I love her.

Are you a panster or a plotter?

Oh, total pantser. I wish I could tell you different, because pantsing results in great swaths of deleted material as I find my way through the story, but for some reason I have to do it that way. If I outline everything in advance, then I know the story and I don’t need to “tell it to myself,” as I like to think of my drafting process. I do have the general idea in mind of what happens, and to whom—the broad strokes of plot and character. But the little discoveries I make as a pantser as I write—my “happy accidents”—have been some of my favorite plot and character elements. I’m always afraid that won’t happen if I plan out too much.

But as I said, I don’t know if I recommend this method. I have probably three or four novels’ worth of discard files, if they were worth doing anything with….

If your book is part of a series, what is in the future?

I’m currently at work on the second—right now the series is slated for three, but who knows? I love these characters and could see exploring beyond three. Sasha features prominently in this next one, and we have the return of Chip Santana, Brooks’ bad-boy former patient with whom she gets into a bit of trouble in the first book. He might throw a bit of a wrench into Brook’s new relationship, which has been going quite well. 🙂

Which authors have influenced your writing?

At the risk of sounding pandering, all of them that I’ve read influence me in one way or another. But Lolly Winston was a revelation to me with her debut Good Grief. I loved that she examined one of the worst heartbreaks—losing your true love to death—and yet did it with not just a really honest, touching story, but great humor. I think that for many of us, finding humor in even the darkest moments is what keeps us sane, and it’s certainly what keeps me getting back up on my feet. I hope I’m able to do that too—Breakup Doctor is really a comedy, but it deals with heartbreak and sadness I think (I hope!) in a real way, one that embraces all the humor inherent in most our crazy human dealings together in love.

And of course, I have to shout out to Liz Tuccillo and Greg Behrendt, coauthors of He’s Just Not That Into You. Not only did that book heavily influence and inspire The Breakup Doctor, but it’s the reason I’m happily married today. Once you realize what a relationship is supposed to look like, you can’t possibly keep accepting so much less. So thanks, Liz and Greg.

Have you joined any writing groups? 

I have a critique group that is almost wholly to credit if there’s anything of value in my writing. I’ve worked with these same writers for maybe five years now, and have seen how much better they have made me. Having a positive, supportive, constructive group of insightful writers who help you be objective in your work (and call you on your BS) is just about the most valuable thing I can think of for a writer. Not to mention that they are the support network who celebrates with you, commiserates with you, and keeps you from chucking your career and all your writing files in those times when you are certain that you suck and will never not suck.

What has been the best part of your writing journey so far?

There is nothing on earth like the feeling of someone reading your work and saying, “I really got something out of this.” I gave early drafts to a couple of friends going through bad breakups, and they said it made them feel so much better, and let them laugh and see the light at the end of the tunnel. That just lit me up inside.

What has been the worst part of your writing journey so far?

Oh, like every writer, I suppose it’s the frustration of feeling so good about it some days, like it comes so easily and is such a joy, and then, for no apparent reason, suddenly the next day each word is like pulling your own wisdom teeth. I wish I understood this awful phenomenon.

What tips do you have for other aspiring writers?

One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was from author Sarah Bird. She said that the only thing that separated her from all the unpublished writers she knew was persistence. I remember thinking, “Okay, I can do persistence.” I remind myself of that anytime my spirits flag—on days when the writing is hard, or I see a negative review, or I feel pretty certain that somehow as I slept any talent I may have had leaked away… 🙂 And I always repeat it to other writers—persistence, that’s all.

Thank you, Shaz, for hosting me on Jera’s Jamboree! It’s a pleasure to be part of your blog.

There’s nothing like being in love to make you into that crazed person who is prone to losing their sanity …


Publisher Henery Press

Out-of-work therapist Brook Ogden has found her calling as the Breakup Doctor: giving her always-on-the-ball relationship advice to help clients shape up after a break up. But when her own boyfriend dumps her—by text message—she finds herself spectacularly breaking every one of her own rules. As her increasingly out-of-control behavior lands her at rock-bottom, Brook realizes you can’t always handle a messy breakup neatly—and that sometimes you can’t pull yourself together until you let yourself fall apart.


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To celebrate publication day, Phoebe is giving away an ecopy of The Breakup Doctor.

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Lisa B

Happy Reading 🙂