Saturday, October 29, 2016

How much fiction is autobiographical? by Beverly Breton

We all know there's truth in fiction. But don't we want to know specifics? What is autobiographical in this particular story? Read on, and find out!

Under A Halloween Moon
opens up with Annika and her five-year-old daughter Mindy on a windy overcast day at a town Halloween parade that finishes in a town park where families visit over hot chocolate and donuts. TRUE. I took my son to this exact parade when we lived in western Pennsylvania.

Attending the parade is Robin Hood on a horse. TRUE. Where we lived had enough undeveloped areas that a few people still had acres of land, and horses. One of these men dressed up in full Robin Head regalia and rode his white horse in the parade.

Annika, Mindy, and her friend Livvy ooh and ah over a baby costumed as a flower in a terra cotta pot. TRUE. This baby won one of the costume awards at the parade I went to…beyond adorable.

The fiction starts when single mother Annika locks gazes with Livvy’s single father Cameron. He’s an architect, but what's TRUE here is that I have always been attracted to architect’s handwriting. So I’m giving my hero a sexy head start for any notes he’s going to write to the heroine!

I hope you’ll pick up with Cam and Annika and Mindy and Livvy and find out what else is in store for the four of them as a magical Halloween weekend unfolds…

Under A Halloween Moon
Beverly Breton

Friday, October 28, 2016

Living with Ghosts by Heather McCollum

Hello everyone! I write light paranormal romance, both historical romance (The Dragonfly Chronicles) and YA paranormal romance. I love the idea of magic in the world, especially the kind that exists right under our noses where everyday people, too wrapped up in their idea of reality, miss it. I am a relatively average mom of three, ovarian cancer ass-kicker, creative wife (wink, wink), author of romance, and lover of chai lattes. I also totally believe in ghosts, mostly because I lived in a haunted house for five years.

Yes, really!

I’m an only child and my parents divorced when I was nine. My dad moved to Virginia. He loved, and still loves, “fixer uppers” which is why he bought an abandoned house. I first came to see “the mansion” when I was twelve years old. The grass around the two-story, slate-roof house stood to my waist. A sloping wrap-around porch had turned completely gray and loose boards along it could swallow your foot if you weren’t careful. The clapboard paint was peeling but looked like it had once been white. A huge barn sat, its middle sinking like a swayback horse, in the yard. We didn’t go in that first evening because the paperwork hadn’t been signed yet, so I stared at the vacant, dark windows that reminded me of assessing eyes. Yeah, I was spooked, but Dad was so excited about the house and its history that I agreed it was beautiful.
The house had been built in three parts, the oldest being up front, sitting just a few steps from the narrow dirt road winding before it. This part of the house was built before the Civil War. It was the manor house of a small plantation, and unlike many others in the area, it hadn’t been burned to the ground because it was used for a short while as a hospital for the soldiers. My dad gleefully showed me several regimental-looking buttons that he’d unearthed in the basement.

The first time I stepped into the house I stood stunned, staring at the terrible graffiti that had been painted across the walls by vagrants who’d used the empty house for who knows what. Swastikas and profanity yelled back at me from warped, horse-hair plaster walls. While Dad mowed the foot-tall grass with a hand mower, I was supposed to sweep the floor and wash down the walls so we could paint them. The electricity had yet to be turned on in the house. I pushed the broom around in that silent room while the sun set outside. All I could hear was the whir of Dad’s mower as it choked through the grass and the broom bristles scratching the wood floor.

I stilled like a panicked bird as cold enveloped the room. Goosebumps prickled up all over my arms and I felt…anger. No ghostly howls came from the staircase in the hall, no chains shook, no television turned fuzzy (maybe it would have had there been one). But I had the overwhelming feeling that someone or something wanted me to “Get out!”

So I got out, running straight off the porch to my dad and refusing to go back in until he had electricity. Luckily by the time I turned fourteen and moved in with my dad and stepmother, he had electricity and running water and even a room for me. Guess where my bedroom was? In the oldest part of the house of course. We seemed to attract stray dogs, so we had five. One small Benji-looking dog was mine. Since I was an only child, and my dad and stepmother left at 5:30 AM and returned home at 7:00 PM, I was alone most of the time. Just me and my dogs and…

It became pretty apparent that something was going on in the house. All of us would hear footsteps going up the worn wooden stairs that led to the hall just outside my room. We’d hear the unplugged vacuum cleaners rolling on the wood floor at night and find it on the other end of the hall in the morning. The dogs would stare together at a single corner, tipping their heads in unison and whining.
“What? What is it!?” I’d yell, but they never told me. Once I woke up for no apparent reason to see my little dog whining at something in the shadowed corner of my room. Then she jumped up on my bed and dove under the covers. I joined her there until morning.

I had a friend sleep over. I didn’t tell her about the weird sounds in the house because I didn’t want to scare her off. We started hearing the rattling downstairs hours after my parents had gone to bed. I told her to stay put. I walked down the dark stairs into the dining room (yes, also in the oldest part of the house). Silence sat with the moon beams coming through the naked windows, as if waiting for me. Then suddenly all the china in the glass hutch began to vibrate in their little stands. Nothing else moved in the room, but all the china quivered, making a ringing noise. I was literally petrified, couldn’t move until it stopped and I ran back upstairs. Throughout the night I kept hearing it, but never again after that night.

Occasionally doors would open on their own, reminding me that we were sharing our home, but there were no more angry feelings. In fact I began to feel like the ghosts (as we felt there were more than one, not sure why) were looking out for me. Perhaps once they realized we weren’t there to harm the house further, they accepted us.

They certainly didn’t accept one of my boyfriends. Poor Mark. One night we had a fight. I remember him saying “fine, then I’m leaving.” I didn’t want him to go and perhaps the ghosts could see it in my face. As Mark strode to the door of the room (old houses seem to have doors on every room, no open floor plans), the door, which was standing open about three feet, slammed in his face. Well, now!
After that Mark wouldn’t leave my side when he visited. When I had to use the bathroom, he’d stay just outside the door. LOL! One night as he was leaving, very late after my folks were asleep, I stood on the front porch waving. He stopped his car, stared at me with huge eyes and then peeled out of the driveway, his tires spitting gravel. The next day I asked him what the hell he’d been doing as he’d woken my dad.

“Was your dad wearing white and standing on a chair right behind you when I was leaving?”
“Uh, no.”
“That’s why I left. The ghost was watching me leave.”
“And you just left me there?!”
“They like you!” was his defense.

Well, yes, that was true. They did like me. They looked out for me, perhaps even growing attached to me. When I was packing up to go away to college, they were quite unhappy. I had a music box with a porcelain doll holding a miniature bird cage on top of it. For two nights before I left for the University of Maine, starting around 2AM, I would wake up to my music box singing and the doll’s coiffed head tipping and tilting on its gears. Yes, every hour on the hour, those pranksters wound up my music box and I’d have to listen to it until it wound down. I had already learned to sleep with my head under the pillows from years of freaky night noises. Perfect preparation for dorm life.

The first time I came home from college, the electricity just happened to be off only in MY room. I had been away, living with real people with no ghosts around, for months. When I walked into my totally black room, I felt what I can only call a presence or pressure, like someone was in the corner.

“I’m not used to you anymore. I’m sorry, but you’re scaring me,” I said. “I think you should move on or whatever you need to do to leave this house. I’m going back downstairs and when I come back in five minutes, I’d really like it if you were gone.” I threw in a “in the name of Jesus Christ” just in case and left. When I came back up, the pressure seemed to be gone. The next day my dad found the wire that had mysteriously come undone in the wall. After that Dad said he didn’t really hear anything from our ghosts. The footsteps up the stairs to my room had faded away.

Maybe I should hire myself out for exorcisms or something. Since then my dad has sold the house and a lovely family lives there. They have not heard nor seen anything unusual. I’m glad that the ghosts, perhaps of those soldiers (although I sensed a female at times, I mean what guy would bother to vacuum?), moved on to wherever their spirits were supposed to go. I will certainly always remember them. They have influenced me in so many ways, in my writing, my ability to consider the unusual, and my conviction that there are magical things in this world if we are willing to open our eyes and “see” them.
Have you ever experienced something you can’t explain? Do tell : )

Heather McCollum
Romance Wrapped in Magic
A picture of the house as it looks today is at the beginning of my book trailer for my YA paranormal romance, SIREN’S SONG

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Writing A Series by Kate Loveday

When I finished writing my first novel I had no idea to write either historical fiction or a series. However, we had moved to an area on the mid-north coast of New South Wales, an area that figured prominently in the early days of Australian colonization, and I became interested in its history.

This led me to explore the attitudes towards women in the nineteenth century, and I decided that my next book must be about the life of a woman in that era, when women had few rights and were dominated by men. I determined that my character would be a spirited woman who did not take kindly to subjugation. Then I began to look at the attitudes towards women over the years, and decided it would be interesting to do stories of three generations of women – mother, daughter and grand-daughter – spanning the second half of the nineteenth century and up to the end of the flapper era. Would the patronizing attitudes of men towards women have altered? And how would women change? I realized it could not be told in a single book, and decided it would be in a series of three books, one for each generation. So far so good.
What I did not realize was the problems posed to writers of series.

The first book, "A Woman of Spirit", was straightforward. The main character, Kitty, lived her life in the book and when book# one ended, she had a daughter, Joy, who was a baby. Now, I had to continue Kitty’s story in book# two, so I couldn’t just start it when Joy was a grown woman, too much time would have passed.
First problem – how to cover the years as Joy grows from child to young woman, and hold the reader’s interest. Not an easy task. She went to school. She learned to ride and developed a love of horses. Not riveting phases of her life. So book# two," In Search of Love", continued Kitty’s story, and covered Joy’s life from age thirteen to young womanhood, a period when every young woman’s thoughts turn to love and, eventually, to marriage.

Second problem, as time passes there is the continuation of characters, and how they change as they were affected by the changing history of the times. I thought I knew my characters well but when it came to writing scenes I realized there were so many small details to remember, particularly with places and minor characters. How exactly had I described Lady Barron? Craddock? Harry Osborne? Which hotel in Sydney had Kitty stayed in? Minor points perhaps but important.

With a series there is always the question of how much to explain in the second, and subsequent, books in case readers start with that one first. Each book must be able to stand alone as well as being read in sequence, but it’s hard to do that without boring readers of the first book. Finding the balance between these needs is challenging. Each book must have its own plot, its own characters, including some from previous books, and its own changing tensions. But it must still relate to the preceding story, and answer the questions left unanswered at the end of that book, and, if you want readers keen to continue the saga, to have its own problems unresolved at the end.

When I finished "In search of Love", which is due to be published soon, I knew it was time to get on with book# three, but already I could see that the planned trilogy would not be enough if I was to fulfill my original intention.
Now that book# three, "An Ambitious Woman", is finished I am already thinking ahead to book # four. And will that be enough? Only time will tell.

Kate Loveday

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Devour your Romance- Halloween Sale on The Dressmaker's Duke

 Rhys Merrick, Duke of Roydan, is determined to be the antitheses of his depraved father, repressing his desires so severely he is dubbed "the Monk" by Society. But when Olivia Weston turns up demanding payment for gowns ordered by his former mistress, Rhys is totally flummoxed and inexplicably smitten. He pays her to remove her from his house, and mind. But logic be damned, he must have this fiercely independent woman.

Olivia's greatest fear is becoming a kept woman. She has escaped the role of mistress once and vows never to be owned by any man. Rather than make money in the boudoir, she chooses to clothe the women who do. But when a fire nearly kills her friend and business partner, Olivia's world goes up in smoke and she is forced to barter with the lofty duke.

As their lives weave together, Olivia unravels the man underneath the Monk, while Rhys desires to expose the lady hiding behind the dressmaker. Will his raw passion fan a long-buried ember of hope within her? Can this mismatched pair be the perfect fit?

On sale for .99 cents
at all major online retailers including Amazon


She knew he was tall. Any fool could see the man was at least two or more inches over six feet, but from this vantage point—directly beneath him—he was so very tall. She could smell the starch of his shirt mixed with a faint whiff of smoke and possibly brandy. She slid her gaze over the shirt and waistcoat to his cravat—a conservatively tied Oriental—to the firm, slightly cleft chin, moving on to the lips, very swiftly past those, and finally resting on his eyes. Pure molten gold. Yes, exactly like those of the Burmese tiger she had seen at a menagerie in Paris. His bearing was just as predatory.

“It would appear, sir, in order for me to move, as you require, you will have to bestir yourself as well.”

She thought she saw one side of his mouth shift ever so slightly upward into what might have been the merest twitch of a smile. She could not be one hundred percent sure because, to do so, she would have to look at his lips. The duke shifted his weight and made a small bow. Her shoulder brushed the superfine of his midnight blue jacket as she hurriedly squeezed past him.

She strode almost to the mirrors before wheeling around and giving him what she hoped was an accusatory look.

“Well, Your Grace. I hope you are satisfied.”

“Satisfied, Mrs. Weston?” He raised that infernal eyebrow. “Oh no, madam, I am very far from satisfied. However, I am hopeful I will be, in the not so distant future.” Again his gaze raked over her. “Yes, I do live in hope.”

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Evolution of Character

Many successful authors of creative fiction recommend outlines of plot and characters before beginning the story. It keeps a writer on track with the storyline and fleshing out the details of a story’s cast of characters. For many writers, already knowing the details of their characters, like description, history, associations, and motivations within the story can enrich their writing, giving depth and atmosphere to the story.

I highly recommend outlining as a writing tool, but this technique just doesn't work for me. The fastest way to kill a story idea of mine is to work out the details of plot and characters in outline form first. They die a swift and horrible death in such a dry, analytical environment. By the time I get to the first page of writing, there is no magic left and I have to let it go.

However, I don’t begin from scratch, sitting down to a blank page with not a thought in my head on plot or character. I make general sketches and keep notes as the story progresses to remember crucial details and keep a logical progression of the story. But the magic in writing is the unexpected evolution of both plot and character. In my writing world, this evolution is driven by the characters.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve begun to write with a storyline in mind and had it go in a completely different, unexpected direction due to the unfolding dialogue and actions of the characters. I’m the creator, so I’m supposed to know where these things come from, but this is why I call it magic. The twists and turns take me as much by surprise as they do my readers. It fascinates me to watch the story unfold beneath my fingers, to see the characters grow and change before my eyes. They begin as two dimensional figures and blossom into beings so real I can almost believe they are alive.

Some might argue this makes my story two-dimensional at the beginning, but the beauty of editing is I can go back and flesh out the characters and storyline, or hack and slash as necessary. This writing method affords me all the creative joy without the life-sucking, mind-numbing effects of the formal outline. I can’t recommend this method to every writer, though. What works for me might drive another author to drink or ruin their writing experience. To each their own. As for me, I’m into evolution.

Happy Reading,
Michelle O'Leary

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

What Comes First for You-- Movies or Books? by Cj Fosdick


Ever see a movie based on a book that drives you to pick up a copy of the book? Or vice versa--read a book that sends you to the theater adaptation? Chances are you may be disappointed by one or the other...unless you are an author. I was conflicted after seeing "The Girl on the Train" at a theater recently. The flashbacks and setting locales were confusing. While reading the novel would have helped clear things up, it would have removed the suspense and "who-done-it" conclusion.

Any author who has gone through the editing process with a professional editor is often cautioned every scene should drive the story forward. Rule exceptions that stands out with a "but" are mysteries that requires red herrings--like Girl on a Train--or historicals that call attention to actual history. A backstory that reveals character may also earn a pass for adding length to a novel that may or may not be cruicial to the story.
about how each scene must thread into plot lines and some are more important than others in driving the story forward. In fact, most editors say that

A screenwriter's job is to taper that novel length down to a fixed number of screen minutes. That may mean vaporizing characters, dialog, and even some plot lines until a viable outline of the novel remains to be adapted. Even some of the author's "little darlings" that remain may end up on a cutting room floor once the screen editor does his job. If you've read the book first, at least you can plug in missing links to the story.

One of my favorite movies, Gone With The Wind, was a very large and popular novel that became a very long and popular classic movie. But when I read the book, I noticed several characters had been eliminated in the movie. Scarlett had two other children by her previous husbands before she married Rhett, and commentary about Civil War battles was obliterated by the character-driven plot. I appreciated the history in the novel, but I loved the streamlined romantic movie version that still took four hours to tell.

I felt the same about other favorite movies, after reading the books, Raintree County and Pride and Prejudice. The screen version of The Last of the Mohicans was almost unrecognizable as a book adaption when the romanticized Daniel Day Lewis movie was released twenty years ago. However, To Kill a Mockingbird was entertaining in both of its venues.

Some fans of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander books have commented about some of the casting in the Starz TV series of Outlander. Wrong hair or eye color, a different twist in the plot? I've read all the Outlander books and think the small screen version has brought the books to life with uncanny accuracy. Diana wrote one of the screenplays herself, and has been concordant about any changes, remarking instead on the talented cast and scriptwriters in the lavish production. I wholeheartedly agree. Adapting a novel to the screen is a huge validation and compliment to any author. And reading the book--before or after you see the screen version--can be a DOUBLE TREAT, even with a preference. Which do you prefer?

Cj Fosdick


                       Order  "The Accidental Wife" or "Hot Stuff"
                Cj's Website         Cj's Newsletter          Cj's Books 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Magic of Fiction by Judith Sterling

This morning, I overheard my twelve-year-old twin sons concocting a story. One took charge of the writing; the other, the illustrations. The longer I listened, the younger I felt. Memories from my own childhood came rushing back. The hours I spent dreaming up stories. The passion that flowed through me as I put pen to paper. The joy of conjuring just the right words to paint a picture, a character, an entire world. That passion and joy guided me toward my present life as an author. They took center stage as I penned my historical romance, Flight of the Raven, the first of The Novels of Ravenwood.

Fiction is fun! It’s magical and fills me with childlike wonder. Inspiration strikes, and my mind comes alive with faces, names, settings, and scenarios. Characters become as real as family and friends. Dialogue flows, and suddenly, I’m taking dictation. The story unfolds, and one page wends toward three hundred.

Before I know it, I’ve created a whole world. Readers I’ve never met will enter and inhabit it. Their imaginations will add to it, shaping my world into something unique to each reader. That’s the miracle of fiction. As writers and readers, we co-create experiences that not only enhance everyday life but lift us out of it into a realm where anything is possible.

The greatest gift for an author is knowing her work makes others happy. Needless to say, I’m a fan of happily ever after. And I’m a fan of anyone who embraces the magic of the written word. A big thanks to my children for reminding me of it this morning.

I hope you enjoy Flight of the Raven. Happy reading!

Judith Sterling
Available at:
The Wild Rose Press


Barnes and Nobles

Monday, October 17, 2016

Romantic Attraction - What makes an Alpha Male?

Do you remember the first time you met your significant other? Did you know it was love at first sight? Well, I didn't. Sometimes we meet the "mirror" of us. We are interested at first. I suspect that this is because like personalities attract like personalities. But then...conflict happens.

I certainly am no expert at relationships, but I know what I've learned over the past forty years.

As good feminists, we know what we are supposed to think - we are strong, confident, driven. We must be appreciated as equals with our male coworkers - and we are. But then why do some women fall into escapism of being drawn to

Success can take place in many forms, and all successful people are certainly not perfect people. No human is. Everybody has an Achilles Heel, a vulnerability. They are our challenges. If we overcome them, we become successful. It isn't that these obstacles are gone from our lives - we just learned to step over them.


With success comes confidence. With confidence, the fear of failure decreases with the each subsequent challenge.

So, what does that have to do with romantic attraction and an alpha male?

An alpha partner no longer allows a fear of failure to stop them. They run head-on into a challenge. That is why we see them in romance novels as the military man, the business CEO, the Navy Seal, the police officers, the warrior, and even the paranormal wolf - or whatever strikes your fancy. Even a building engineer who knows his stuff, and shamelessly wears his kilt in public exhibits alpha male personality (Yes, Welshman - that means you too! ).

Their confidence also comes from many failures, as yours did. They faced trials, learned from them, and overcame obstacles. Most of all, the alpha recovers from his failures. He is still evolving...just as you are.

Marriage is full of challenges, and everybody knows that. An alpha will evolve from failures to become confident and strong. As the cream always rises to the top, so will the alpha in their mate's eyes. After all, strength attracts strength and all people are attracted to leadership.

So, are you with that person who challenges you?


Cindy James
Their Highland Trust FB @BiokmstWrites
an alpha male? Doesn't that make us submissives? How could we ever be happy marrying one?

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Morgan D'Arcy: A Vampyre Rhapsody - Nightingale

In Morgan D'Arcy: A Vampyre Rhapsody, the hero Morgan D'Arcy is an avid horseman, and his horse of preference is the Andalusian. Guessing why is easy: I bred, trained and showed this marvelous horse for many years, my stallion earning 2 national championships in halter competition.

For years I loved the Arabian horse and bred the Egyptian Arabian. They are refined and lovely, but then I met the Andalusian horse at a show in Atlanta. I also met a long-time friend, Irene Benjamin, who helped me along with my passion for becoming a great rider (I don’t think I ever achieved this goal, but I had another partner—my Andalusian stallion Bonito). I sold all my Arabians and bought this young stallion imported from Costa Rica. He was simply gorgeous with the most beautiful eyes and wonderful personality, even if occasionally spiced with mischief. He had quite a sense of humor! We had a bumpy journey sometimes because he was trained to a higher level than I was, but I wouldn’t trade a moment.

In fact, he was such a friend that when I was getting a divorce and was confused and sad, I’d go to the stables into his stall, and he’d hug me with his big arched neck while I cried.

We did a musical freestyle to Phantom of the Opera. The ride began with a complete side pass across the arena. We performed a bit of piaffe (trot in place) and a canter pirouette (canter in place). He was not your ordinary horse, but then no Andalusian is ordinary. I have a poster in my guest bath that says “This horse will change your life.” It is absolutely the truth.

Allow me to tell you a little about this extraordinary breed. They are the bullfighting horses of Spain—either quick or dead.

The Andalusian is an ancient pure breed that has been carefully preserved over the centuries. In Northern Spain, cave paintings depict men leading Mesolitic horses with convex heads, solid muscular bodies, elegant necks and luxurious manes. Circa 1,100 B.C., Homer refers to the Iberian horse in his Iliad. The Iberian horse carried Hannibal across the Alps in his invasion of Italy (though the elephants got all the credit!). History records Richard I and many of his knights mounted on "airy Spanish Destriers".

In the heyday of European monarchies, the Andalusian's flair, style and formidable carriage made him the mount of choice for the aristocracy. Not only did the Spanish horse excel in battle but he was a fancy parade horse and an elegant fine harness animal. This popularity earned the Iberian horse a grandiose title, "Horse of Kings" or "Royal Horse of Europe." Indeed, there was a time when no crowned head would consider having a portrait painted on any horse other than an Andalusian.

Linda Nightingale - Author
Out of the Ordinary… Into the Extraordinary

Friday, October 14, 2016

Hide and Seek, Jo A. Hiestand

The plot for McLaren’s sixth mystery, “No Known Address,” was mentally making a nuisance of itself, so I decided to do something about it while I was in England. I wanted a unique setting for a section in the novel, and--after book-researching candidates such as Matlock Bath’s cable cars, the flooded Speedwell Cavern, Peveril Castle’s ruined keep (erected in 1176), and the moors surrounding the Cat and Fiddle Inn (the two centuries-old pub is the second highest in England)--I thought the old windmill in Heage, Derbyshire sounded a perfect choice. Heage is about seven miles as the crow flies from the bed-and-breakfast where I would be staying in Dethick. But add at least twice that mileage for the twisting roads.

Armed with directions from the B-&-B owner, and confident I could find the thing, I set off. Twenty minutes of driving in what were probably circles, U-turns and figure eights never brought me to the mill. Nor produced any signs proclaiming the thing’s existence. I was more than disappointed; my frustration verged on panic. That wonderful scene was evaporating into the hedgerows and stone walls that kept me from my goal. But when my anxiety finally lessened, I realized I had another option.

In my circular wandering I had discovered the village of Crich and the old Wakebridge Engine House. Wakebridge is a remnant of the by-gone lead mining days in Derbyshire, and joins the list of other mines with colorful names: Bacchus Pipe, Leather Ears, Merry Bird, Pigtrough, Silver Eye, Wanton Legs… The region wallows in mining history stretching from Roman times into the 1950s. With such a past, surely I’d get something useful out of Wakebridge. So, assuming a bird in the hand is worth more than trying to locate its nest, I latched onto the mining house. Which is why you’ll read about Wakebridge instead of the Heage windmill in “No Known Address.”

I still love the idea of a scene in the mill, though. The creaking of its six sails, the moaning wind whipping up the hill, the birds huddled in the loft, the scuff of thick-soled shoes on the wooden steps… Perhaps next trip I’ll find where it’s hiding. A potential scene in a mill is too good to become chaff in the wind.

Jo A. Hiestand,

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Haunting Highland House Review

Haunting Highland House by Kathryn Hills

You'll be hearing a great deal about this new author!

I was given an ARC of Haunting Highland House for an honest opinion and review, and I am so thankful I was because Kathryn Hills' debut novel is definitely a winner.

Set in New England in the present--and 100+ years prior-- this is a story of a love that survives the vestiges of time, war, death, and change.

When Samantha Merrill arrives at Highland House as the new event manager, she feels a tiny sense of familiarity and a little niggle of uncertainty. Has she been here before? Things look familiar, but they...don't and aren't. An orphan raised by two much older adoptive parents, Sam knows nothing of her life before the age of 4. Pretty soon she starts to doubt her sanity when she's confronted with what she thinks is the ghost of Robert Pennington, the original owner of the now historic museum. But he's not a ghost. He's a living, breathing, powerful man. And he wants Samantha; almost-- if not more than-- she wants him.

Sam's life quickly spins out of control, traveling back and forth through time to meet with Robert, his family and friends. When she discovers a terrible event will befall his family, she wrestles with telling him and potentially changing the future, or allowing events to proceed as they already have.

I don't like spoilers so I leave the plot line there, but this book utterly captivated me from page 1 until the very last page. And what a last page!!!!! I'm usually fairly good at knowing how a book ( or TV show!) ends, but Ms Hills' ending totally blew my mind! And in a great, great way.

Mark my words, you 'll be hearing a lot about this wonderful author from now on.
Haunting Highland House gets 5 well deserved stars from me!
Reviewed by Peggy Jaeger
Available at Amazon, and all online ebook retailers.

Saturday, October 01, 2016


One of my best holidays was the time I saw an Australian platypus, a bizarre semi-aquatic mammal that lays eggs and uses echo-location to find its prey, which it digs from the river bed. It is an egg-laying, duck-billed, beaver-tailed, otter-footed mammal with water proof fur. And its elusive behaviour means most people never see it outside a zoo or sanctuary
I hoped to see the shy and mainly nocturnal animal in its natural habitat, swimming in the Broken River in the Eungella National Park, Central Queensland, Australia.

So here we were before dusk, standing in the viewing area on the bridge over the Broken River. We’d taken up our positions an hour earlier, waiting patiently, and scanning the river for signs of activity.

“Watch for bubbles on the surface of the water,” the Ranger told us. “The platypus dives to the bottom for food, and strains it through his bill. Then he comes to the surface to eat it. He’s only on top of the water for a few seconds, and then he dives down again searching for more, so you have to watch carefully. And it won’t happen until the sunlight is off the water.”
Accordingly we scanned the shady areas of water carefully. We had a few false alarms as we saw tortoises swimming below us, and insects skimming the surface often gave the appearance of bubbles.

Peter trained his binoculars up-river and suddenly there it was, many meters upstream. Creating wide ripples as it dived, the platypus was clearly visible. We watched its progress as it dived and swam towards us. Finally it passed directly below us, under the bridge. It was larger than we expected at about two feet in length, and we saw quite clearly its distinctive bill, the tail, and the dark brown fur. We hurried to the other side of the bridge, hoping for another glimpse, but it had disappeared.

It was truly a unique event to see this shy, elusive creature in its natural environment.

Kate Loveday