Wednesday 31 July 2019

A Slice of Cake With... Richard Dee

This week I am delighted to have a slice of cake with Richard Dee. 

Richard is from Brixham in Devon. He was never a writer, at least not for ages. Life, a wife, three daughters and now three grandchildren have kept him busy.

He spent forty years in shipping, firstly at sea, then in Port Control and as a Thames River Pilot, with adventures to match anything he could imagine. When Richard retired, he just moved them out into space, changed some of the names and wrote them down.

Richard writes Science Fiction and Steampunk adventures, as well as chronicling the exploits of Andorra Pett, reluctant amateur detective. When he's not writing, he bakes bread and biscuits, cooks delicious meals and walks the Devon coast.

Richard's first novel Freefall was published in 2013, followed by Ribbonworld in 2015. September 2016 saw the publication of The Rocks of Aserol, a Steampunk adventure, and Flash Fiction, a collection of Short Stories. Myra, the prequel to Freefall was published in 2017, along with Andorra Pett and the Oort Cloud CafĂ©, a murder mystery set in space, the first of a series featuring Andorra Pett, an amateur detective. 

Sequels to most of them have either followed or are in production. Richard also contributed a story to the 1066 Turned Upside Down collection of alternative history stories. He's currently working on more prequels, sequels, and new projects. 

What kind of books do you write?

I write about the future, and occasionally about an alternative now. The thing is, we may explore space, boldly go etc. etc. but when we do, we’ll take all our vices with us. And there’s plenty of scope for adventure when you mix the wonders and perils of the Galaxy with human nature. Or alternatively, when you change one thing in the past and get to invent a new present.

Can you describe your writing why?

I’ve always seen stories in my head, like watching a film. At first, I ignored them, then as they became more insistent, I thought that by writing them down, it would make them go away. But all it did was just made room for more. I can rewind one as it unfolds or watch it in slow motion. All I have to do is write what I see. I can’t fast forward though, the end of the story (when it comes), is as much a surprise to me as I hope it will be to you.

Share with us your favourite passage from the book you enjoyed writing the most

Tricky without context, but here goes, an extract from Myra, where our hero, navy deserter Dave Travise, meets a new shipmate.

The events that had led me here still gave me sleepless nights, and whatever Rixon and his bunch got up to, it could hardly be worse.
Rixon was looking past me, over my shoulder at the doorway. I heard the swish as the curtains parted. 
“Well our engineer has chosen to join us,” he said. Again his tone was one of gently mocking affection, it seemed to be his default setting, but it was so warm and without obvious malice that it would be difficult to get upset at his comments.
“Hey, Myra, I thought that would get you away from the engine room, have you come to check out the new Nav?”
I turned, and even though I didn’t immediately realise it, it was then that I fell in love.

Tell us about your latest project

Life and Other Dreams has just been published. It’s the story of two men, here’s the blurb,

Rick lives here on Earth now, with Cath. His life is boring, writing adverts for cat food and exotic holidays. When he’s asleep, he dreams vividly.
In his dreams, he lives as Dan, spending his time with his wife Vanessa. They live six-hundred years in the future, half a galaxy away. They’re explorers, searching for valuable minerals on Ecias, an alien paradise.
Dan has no dreams about Rick’s life, he lives on Ecias, loves his life and Vanessa. 
When the two worlds overlap, Rick starts to question what is real. Events in his waking and sleeping lives are mirrored, similar people inhabit both and coincidences mount up. Then disaster strikes in each world at the same time. In his dreams, Dan is accused of a crime he didn’t commit. Meanwhile, after one coincidence too many, Cath thinks that Rick’s dreams are hiding an affair and leaves him.
Is Rick going crazy, or can he be living in two places, in two times, at once? If not, then which one of them is the reality? Will one life carry on when the other is on hold?

If the idea of dreams being real interests you,  Life and Other Dreams is available HERE.

What is your favourite cake?

I’m a cakeaholic, so I would have to say a large one! Cheesecake or Millionaire’s Shortbread, failing that, I like a rich fruit cake. Thank you for letting me guest on your blog, great questions!

You are so welcome, Richard - and great cake choices!

Connect with Richard at his website to see what he gets up to and you’ll find free short stories, regular features on writing, book reviews and guest appearances from other great authors. There’s even some cookery! Click the FREE STUFF tab or the PORTFOLIO tab to get all the details about his work and pick up a free short story.

Facebook at RichardDeeAuthor and Twitter at Richard Dee Sci-Fi, he can also be contacted on email.

Join me next week when I'll be having a slice of cake with Mark Roman.

If you would like to take part in A Slice of Cake With... please fill in the form found here. I'd be delighted to have you.

You can also support my writing endeavours and buy me tea & cake - it's what makes the world go round!

Claire Buss is a multi-genre author and poet, completely addicted to cake. Find all her books on Amazon. Join the discussion in her Facebook group Buss's Book Stop. 

Tuesday 30 July 2019

Tuesday poem - Morning at the Beach

Sandals on, suncreamed up
Forget that bit at the back of your shoulders
Sunhat, strappy top, shorts as short as you can dare

Bottle of water, money for an ice cream
Keys in your pocket, leave the multiple bags at home
Just got space for buckets and spades, a towel and go

Brisk steps wreathed in bright chatter and laughter
Not too many on the beach yet so stake your claim
Deckchairs, blankets, windbreaker, cool box - forgot the lot

Just one bag with bits and bobs
Two children to run after
And a healthy aversion to seaweed

Sun beats down, sun hats discarded
Complaints about sand in shoes
The bag gets further away as the tide slips out unnoticed

Little feet leaving little prints on a wobbly trail out to sea
Wet shorts and salty lips, sun blazing through the sky
Ice cream bribes pull them away from the water

A beach wall seat and drippy cone all peppered with grains of sand
Itchy toes and feet and ankles all crusty in need of watering
It's late now, time to go in, before the mad tourist rush

Early doors on the beach outside my flat
Kids showered and changed before ten
We live by the tides, no need for equipment to enjoy our seaside

Claire Buss is a multi-genre author and poet, completely addicted to cake. Find all her books on Amazon. Join the discussion in her Facebook group Buss's Book Stop. 

Monday 29 July 2019

Flashing through July

The powers that be declared July to be flash fiction month so of course, I had to get involved with a series of daily prompts throughout July. With just a couple of days left to the month, I wanted to blog all the prompts I shared in one place, just in case you missed any.

I did not think these prompts up. I came across them on Pinterest and thought they were too good not to share.

AND because I enjoy writing flash fiction so much, I also released a new book this month called Flashing Here and There which you can download from Amazon for just .99 and enjoy reading the short yet snazzy stories over coffee and a slice of cake.

Here are your first five prompts:

  • An impulse buy leads to intergalactic warfare
  • Smoke hung so thick in the library's rafters that she could read words in it
  • The language of flowers, pjs and a secret passageway
  • His wife was having tea with the king and he didn't even know about it
  • The story of how your parents me, transposed to another era in time

You might be asking, what is flash fiction? Let me clarify for you:

"fiction of a type characterized by being very short, typically consisting of only a few hundred words"

So think around the 500-word ballpark and you're doing great.

Here are the next five prompts (I thought one long list might be off-putting):

  • A balloon, a ball and balustrades
  • A language class for aliens
  • She liked to fit people into the world like puzzle pieces
  • Go to extreme lengths to return something you borrowed
  • An explorer with multiple personality disorder, a widow and a house in the woods

Your next question is probably how exactly do I go about writing flash fiction? Google has some great advice. Start in the middle of the story - don't use too many characters - make sure the ending isn't at the end - sweat your title - make your last line ring like a bell - write long, then go short.

Here are the next five prompts:
  • Winter was the only season we could be together
  • The fate of the telegraph operator
  • Life has new meaning after discovering an unusual tree
  • A sailor comes home and his wife knows every detail of his life away
  • Plague, a piece of chalk and the colour viridian (blue-green)

What sorts of things should you avoid when writing flash fiction?
Don't confuse your reader - don't bore your reader - don't use a hokey dialect - don't fail to provide a plot - don't use incorrect facts where accuracy matters - don't use your story as a soapbox

Here are your next five prompts:
  • There were 48000 gods in their mythology and not one...
  • Stuff that generates ideas, a spy and 1 minute
  • The floor tasted like...
  • A light test, an actress and two worlds
  • Obsessed with marmalade

When you've written your flash fiction, what should you do with it? Blog it! Share it with your readers in your author newsletter. Give it away as a free book. Enter it into competitions - you've got nothing to lose.

Here are your next five prompts:
  • Steampunk sleeping beauty
  • An unfinished work of art, a mycologist and a sense of foreboding
  • Please shut the interdimensional time rift when you've quite finished
  • Mind controlling wallpaper that creates a happy ending
  • Lancelot, a flannel and aeronautics

If you're still not sure and you don't want to splash out any money but you do want to read some flash fiction, check out my free collection The Blue Serpent & other tales. You can get your hands on it by signing up to my author newsletter.

Here are your final list of prompts:
  • Story sandwich
  • The colour of her blood was the least of my worries
  • A single lily, a cliff and 3 hours
  • The story begins and ends with a bicycle
  • Champagne truffles, physio exercises and a fan

I hope you've enjoyed this post and that you'll check out my books of flash fiction. I'd love to read any flashes that you are inspired to write yourself so don't hesitate to get in touch. Happy writing!

Claire Buss is a multi-genre author and poet, completely addicted to cake. Find all her books on Amazon. Join the discussion in her Facebook group Buss's Book Stop. 

Wednesday 24 July 2019

A Slice of Cake With... Jenny Brown

Today I am delighted to be having a slice of cake with author Jenny Brown.

Jenny studied history in graduate school. Her first professional sale as a writer was a biographical piece about Louisa May Alcott's childhood. Years later, her favourite hobby continues to be reading biographies of people who lived in the 18th and 19th centuries. She has earned her living in many different ways: performing as a singer-songwriter in Western Massachusetts and Nashville, writing nonfiction, and, for the past twenty-four years, running a successful small press. 

Jenny's characters are often outcasts or rebels. Her heroes have a long way to go before they become the loving men her heroines deserve. Her heroines are strong, adventurous women who take control of their own fate but must do so within the limitations of the society they were born into. Readers of mainstream historical fiction appreciate that her books are written with respect for the language, history, and culture of the Georgian era in England where they are set.

What kind of books do you write?

I write historical novels that explore how men and women with difficult childhoods or past histories find their way to a satisfying love relationship. I do my best to respect the realities of the time period they are set in, which is the 19th century up until the advent of the railroad. 

My characters are always outsiders, no matter what their rank in society. They struggle to love and it is by surmounting that struggle that they become fully heroic. My heroines are strong, independent women whose ideal mate is a man whose hunger for adventure matches their own. They don’t yearn for a rich husband and a nursery full of babies. When they find the man they want to spend their life with, they want to keep on living the kind of adventure that brought them together.  My dark and dangerous heroes are truly dangerous. My rakes are real rakes who have done things in the past they bitterly regret. Even my most kind and light-hearted hero, who stars in An Unexpected Heir, is a survivor whose warmth and confidence result from his having created a satisfying life for himself against the odds. 

Can you describe your writing why?

I grew up loving historical fiction, starting with Mara Daughter of the Nile when I was old enough to read chapter books by myself and moving on to everything every written by Rosemary Sutcliffe. When I was older, I fell in love with the works of Susan Howatch, Dorothy Dunnett, Sharon Kay Penman, Judith Merkle Riley, Gillian Bradshaw and the other great authors of my time. I always wanted to write novels that could stand on the shelf beside theirs.

But I am far more interested in people’s psychology than I am in historical events, so when I discovered the great Historical Romances of the 1990s, including those written by the likes of Laura Kinsale, Judith Ivory, Patricia Gaffney and several others, I felt like I had finally found my niche.  

I pretty much write the books that come to me begging to be written, and I rarely know where the story is going to end up when I begin it. I start with a premise. For Undisciplined Ardor, it was to explore what it would have been like to be gender non-conforming in the early 1800s. I knew I wanted a girl raised as if she were a boy to be the heroine. I was planning to set the story on a ship because I actually have some experience sailing in 19th-century wooden vessels, but the story stalled out until I had an intense dream where I saw a woman standing on the saddle of a beautiful horse at Astley’s Amphitheatre. Once I made the hero a man who has mastered very difficult feats of horsemanship, the story just blossomed. An Unexpected Heir originally began when I thought about that standard plot where someone humble discovers they are the heir to something important—in this case, an earldom—and gave it a twist. I asked what if you found your long-lost parents and they were awful people? The story blossomed into a cultural clash between a self-made American-raised man and his snobby, class-conscious, possibly real parents who mercilessly bully the chamber pot heiress they need to marry their heir—whoever he turns out to be because they need her fortune to pay off their erstwhile heir’s ruinous gambling debts.  

What keeps me writing is the excitement of having these stories unfold and learning what the characters have to teach me. For Lord Lightning I learned all about how the traditional Astrology was practised in the Georgian period, going to the source, William Lilly’s Christian Astrology

For Undisciplined Ardor, I learned a great deal about the British cavalry in the Napoleonic wars, trick riding, how acrobats train, and the way duelling was actually practised in the early 1800s, which turned out to be quite different from what you read in most novels. 

For An Unexpected Heir, whose hero has been raised on the American frontier of the 1820s, I researched the early expeditions across the American Great Plains in the 1830s and travelling “medicine” shows. I read quite a few small-town American newspapers of the time and ran across a wonderful account of a mountain man who kept a baby beaver in his cabin as a pet. That led me to an English magazine article describing how an American beaver was being exhibited in rooms in London in this period, and voila! I had the beginnings of a plot.

Share with us your favourite passage from the book you enjoyed writing the most

Many of my favourite passages only work in the context of the story leading up to them, but I think readers might enjoy this scene. Ned Prentice, the hero, has just been hailed as the long lost eldest son of an earl who was supposedly kidnapped by his nurse and spirited away to America. But the earl will only acknowledge him if he proposes on the spot to the heiress who was already about to marry Ethelred, the earl’s previous heir.

He sat back in his chair, and when he spoke again he was no longer whispering. “I have to say, the customs of you English beat out anything I’ve ever run into, and I saw me some pretty strange things when I traveled across the Great Plains with the Prince of Wied-Neuwied’s expedition. We lived with the tribes and got to know their ways of doing things. But even though your people call them savages, no father in Indian Country would sell a son like your people do. I reckon, it’ll take me some time to get used to that particular custom. ’Specially since I’m the son whose supposed to be getting sold here.”
She gritted her teeth. “I’m sure when you become more aware of the benefits of being a viscount, the oddness of our customs may seem less jarring.”
“Could be. Which is why I haven’t hightailed it out of here. I’m an adaptable man, Miss Haddock. I’ve lived with plenty of strange folks and gotten used to their strange practices. The Osage, now there’s a people I wouldn’t want to have to marry into. They hang their bachelors on metal hooks, pierced through their backs, to test their courage before they let them wed. Good thing my father didn’t turn out to be one of their big men.”
She did not let herself smile. “I’m sure that being the son of an earl offers far less hardship.”
“Perhaps.” He smiled. “Though it’s not without its inconveniences. This suit they made me put on is powerful uncomfortable. This starched-up collar’s like to strangle me. That Ethelred of yours must have a neck as slender as a chicken’s. And these pants!”
“He’s not my Ethelred anymore. You’ve put paid to that.” She tried to sound disappointed, but in truth, the showman’s neck did compare favorably with Ethelred’s, as did his thighs. A life of dissipation in London did not put much muscle on a man. 
”Did you really want to marry him?” he asked, again looking serious. “Were you secretly in love with him, whatever the arrangement might have been?”
“Of course not. I married him to do my duty to my father.”
His eyebrows rose. “So he forced you into it.”
“Of course not! I did it willingly. I love my father more than anyone on earth. For years he has labored to earn enough money so I could marry a peer. How could I not gratify his wish?”
He thought about that for a moment. “So if I could prove I was the real heir, you’d be perfectly happy to marry me, just to make your daddy proud? Without me having to win your heart?”
“My heart has nothing to do with it.”
“No, it’s clear it that it don’t.” The look he gave her could have soured milk. She knew right then that whatever respect he might have still retained for her after that interlude in the caravan had vanished.
It hurt. Worse, it made her feel ashamed. 
But really, he was being too unfair. Plenty of wealthy fathers bought titles for their daughters. It was only his American ignorance that made him judge her so harshly. A people without a nobility of their own would never understand the importance of rank. 
Having paused for a moment for his contempt to sink in, Mr. Prentice asked in a tone of idle curiosity, “Do your people have some special form they use when declaring their heartlessness before entering into the married state? I mean, am I supposed to reply in kind and assure you that I’m taking you solely for the money your pa has laid down and my expectations of more of the same?”
She could feel her face reddening. 
He was smiling that deceptively charming smile, but his eyes had lost their warmth. “Help me out here,” he demanded. “I’m trying to get this right. I need to know the details of your customs, just like I did when I was living with the Tribes out on the plains. Do I get down on my knees when I say it, or is there some other way this reassurance should be delivered?”
She snapped. “If that was supposed to be an example of American humor, it was in very poor taste. The marriage of convenience of sophisticated aristocrats bears no comparison to the peculiar customs of painted savages.”
“It’s still a very peculiar custom. Here I’m supposed to go proposing to a woman who’s made it clear she don’t like me, but that it’s okay with her. Am I also supposed to assure her that if she accepts me I’ll return the favor and not like her either? That’s very strange to my way of thinking. But if that’s what I have to do to stick around for long enough to get to know my new pa, I just might have to do it.” 
He favored her with that serious look for only a moment longer, then a mischievous smile lit up his treacherous blue eyes. “I’ve done worse. Why, when I spent some time with those Omeeomi Indians, up in Michigan Territory, their chief wanted me to propose to his daughter. Well, the custom there is that the man must pull out his private parts when making his proposal, and if the lady accepts—”
But whatever the Omeeomi ladies be might do, she was never to learn, for she’d had enough. “You go too far, Mr. Prentice. A gentleman here in England would never expect a well-bred young lady to listen to something so improper!”
“Where I come from, Miss Haddock, we don’t expect well-bred young ladies to barter themselves off to prodigal sons who suddenly find themselves in need of money.”
He tugged at Ethelred’s constricting collar. “I’m a firm believer that a man should follow the customs of the people with whom he’s visiting as much as possible. But there are some things a decent man can’t do. When I was with the Sioux, I didn’t eat that dog meat that they served me, though it was rude to refuse what they believe to be a delicacy. I don’t see as how the situation here is much different. A decent man can’t bargain away his independence for money. Not if he’s to retain his respect for himself.”
He stood up, and fixed her with a severe look. It was odd how dignified he looked even in those ridiculous clothes. “You see, I didn’t get a lot of respect growing up. The woman I called ma since I was knee high to a grasshopper had her struggles with the bottle. Besides that, there were plenty of folks who looked down on us because I didn’t have a pa. I had no man’s name and no man’s money. All I had to work with was my self-respect. It made me into what I am today.” He paused. “You might not think much of me, but I can tell you there isn’t a man in the whole United States or in the Territories, who doesn’t respect me. William Clark never sent out a better man to bring back specimens. I know where to find those ancient bones and can tell the difference between a fake Indian trinket and the genuine article. But it all started with my self-respect and I’m not about to give that up for anything.”
“Not even to become the lord of all this?” she motioned towards the richly appointed chamber.
He locked eyes with her. “Not even for all this.” 
He dropped back into the chair and leaned towards her again, speaking so only she could hear him. “We have a little ditty they sing in my neck of the woods:

Silver chains and golden handcuffs don’t improve a prison’s walls. 
Better you should wander homeless than be caged in palace halls. 

“You may be thinking that it’s the simple song of a simple people, and maybe you’re right. But that’s how I feel. And feeling that way, I just can’t do it. I can’t make you a proposal right now, whatever that earl fellow might want.”
He stood and stuck out one hand as if waiting to shake hers. “It’s been a pleasure, Miss Haddock, and I thank you kindly, but we’ll have to continue our conversation later. I’ve left poor old Jackson alone in the wagon too long as it is.” 
He was almost to the door when Lady Edith intercepted him.
“Have you settled it then?” she demanded. “Has Miss Haddock accepted your proposal?”
He shook his head, “The only thing I proposed to her was to go and feed a very hungry beaver.” 
“I beg your pardon?” her eyebrows rose. “Did you say you were going to feed a beaver? Is that an American figure of speech? I beg you to explain it to me.”
“It’s simple English, ma’am. I left my pet beaver in my wagon this morning before I hiked up here and he’s got to be feeling pretty neglected by now.”
“And this—animal—takes precedence over your responsibility to propose to Miss Haddock?”
“I’m afraid so. After all, the beaver treats me with considerably more affection.” 

Tell us about your latest project

The most recent novel I finished is Undisciplined Ardor. As I mentioned earlier, the heroine has been allowed to grow up living as if she were a boy. Because of this, she has taken to heart the way that men of her time think of women—that they are weak, frivolous, obsessed with their clothing and a love of gossip. Understandably she totally rejects anything in herself that seems “womanly.” When her father dies, she finds herself forced to behave like a woman and is put under serious pressure to marry so as to avoid shaming the rest of the family. So she has every motivation to keep living the much freer life of a male, even though, as it becomes clear as the story evolves, she is not a man trapped in a woman’s body. She is a woman trapped in a society that doesn’t respect women or grant them the freedom to run their own lives. 

She turns to a hyper-masculine man for help. A cavalry officer whose overly pretty looks have led him to prove his masculinity obsessively, in ways that have hurt not only himself but the people he has been closest to.  When my heroine turns to him for help, his attraction to this risk-taking, very boyish woman terrifies him, because underneath the manly facade and the years of rugged military achievement there lurks a man who for reasons of his own wonders about his sexual orientation.  

There’s a lot going on in this story, and I feel like it may be the most interesting of all the stories I’ve written because of the way I explored these issues, while managing to bring this couple together in a way that produces a successful relationship that doesn’t sugarcoat the issues they will be confronting for the rest of their lives. 

It is different enough that beta readers either love it or hate it, but those who get it tell me they found the ending very moving and that it made them think more deeply about what it meant to be a woman during before the advent of birth control. 

What is your favourite cake?

This is the one my daughter baked me for my 70th birthday.  It was a cheesecake with a nut crust. 

That is so cute! If you want to find out more about Jenny and her books, visit her Amazon page here.

Join me next week when I'll be having a slice of cake with Richard Dee.

If you would like to take part in A Slice of Cake With... please fill in the form found here. I'd be delighted to have you.

You can also support my writing endeavours and buy me tea & cake - it's what makes the world go round!

Claire Buss is a multi-genre author and poet, completely addicted to cake. Find all her books on Amazon. Join the discussion in her Facebook group Buss's Book Stop. 

Wednesday 17 July 2019

A Slice of Cake With... LL Thomsen

Originally from Denmark, now resident in the UK since forever and a day, fantasy author L. L. Thomsen, began her writing journey relatively late. This is to say that like most people who never had an instant calling, she tampered with other things like archaeology & prehistory, teaching and shop work for a while.  However, with the birth of her first child, so was her muse discovered and whether a demon or an angel, this ‘muse-who-must-be-obeyed’ has yet to let her down. 

Interested in the idea of mixing it up, L. L.’s work includes multiple genres under one title - grimdark, romance, mystery, sword and magic, adventure - her series: The Missing Shield, is far from your average read.  

L. L. is inspired by Wurts, Hobb, Erikson, and Martin. She endeavours to look beneath the surface of her characters, whilst providing the reader with an epic experience full of visual candour and elaborate world-building.  She always puts the best and worst into the melting pot, always making hers a guaranteed unique read. 

L. L. currently lives with her family + two cats and a dog, in the back-of-beyond near Sherwood Forrest.  She’s yet to discover the truth about the Universe, but feels she sometimes comes close; certainly, without Coffee, Chinese food and candles, the world would be a much darker place. If you like to chat books and writing, please feel free to drop her a line anytime. Her inbox is only a click away.

What kind of books do you write?

I like to mix the genres. My writing is character-led and deep. In my books you’ll find epic worldbuilding, gritty details, magic & darkness, romance & friendship – and of course a quest, to seal the deal. It’s a lot of poetic prose, visual honesty & without a doubt a unique read. 

Can you describe your writing why?

It just caught me hook, line & sinker. 

I cannot explain other than to say that I discovered the muse (or she discovered me?) after our first child was born, and I have never really looked back. Plus, I have all these ideas, characters, things, floating around in my head. I often feel compelled to ‘put them on paper’. Of course, I’m also motivated by many small things – perfect moments, horrible ones, emotions, the weather, landscape, seasons, friends, family, other writers, music, dreams…I just love to tell a story.

Share with us your favourite passage from the book you enjoyed writing the most

I always felt that a particular line from the first book in my series The Missing Shield was a super-strong sentence that was meant to be used as the opener.

To this day, I am not proud that I could not find a way to make it so.  For the sake of the narrative time-line, I was forced to squirrel it away in chapter 3, instead.

Anyway, from A Change of Rules – Episode 1 of The Missing Shield - it goes like this:

“What’s the matter? Can’t get the girl you want?” 

Solancei heard the teasing, double-edged words fly forth before she could check herself, but didn’t much care anyway. The perfectly-honed New Wood accent helped add slight to every syllable and with her eyes locked upon her sparring partner in casual readiness, her sardonic ‘concern’ held just the right measure of caustic disdain to make his nostrils flare, if only for a broken heartbeat. 

It was precious little to feel encouraged by, but hey... right now she’d take what she could and run with it; the banter was a welcome chance to relieve some of the stress that came with the fact that she’d been stupid enough to almost let a rookie mistake cost her this jackal fight in the very first round. It was not good enough! She was uncommonly distracted today; for this, her mentor would have her guts – and worse. 

The thought made her want to grimace. 

She didn’t

Tell us about your latest project

Well, my latest project is also my current project. 

I have always loved epic fantasy for the scope and the characters, and so I am currently writing the first book (The Missing Shield) on my intended on-going series called The Veil Keepers Quest.  

The deal with this is that for ease, and to introduce the readers to a number of bite-size books rather than a huge tome, I split the original manuscript for the first book into 11 episodes. The Missing Shield as a whole has hence been transformed into a series within the series if you like. It primarily centres on ‘how it all began’ and is basically a missing person’s adult high fantasy mystery.

It’s a dark story in places, full of mystery and with multiple POVs & main characters, but it evolves mostly around a noble lady (Solancei) who is a cousin to the realm’s heiress (Iambre). By some quirk of fate, Solancei has ended up as Iambre’s secret body Guard and handmaiden. This is the front story if you like, and the main details are about the emerging problems between these two friends, as well as a desperate race to find Solancei when she disappears after an illegal training duel. 

However, buzzing in the background of this main story is the bigger picture, which is a) about a crooked knight who wishes to usurp the current regime, and b) about the fact that the Veils that separate the mad gods from the realms of the 9 races, may soon fall. 

There’s a problem with magic, the all-powerful Guardians who protect the realms and the Veils have been left to pick up the pieces of betrayal that almost undid everything a thousand years ago. Everything is turned on its head and so begins a dance to ensure the survival of life itself. 

Expect the Unexpected. 

Episode 7 of The Missing Shield is called The Lure of an Ancient Fable. It’s out now. 

What is your favourite cake?

I love pecan pie.  Or sticky toffee pudding. But really… why choose? ;-) 

I agree completely! You can keep in touch with L.L Thomsen on Twitter and Facebook and all her books are on Amazon.

Join me next week when I'll be having a slice of cake with Jenny Brown.

If you would like to take part in A Slice of Cake With... please fill in the form found here. I'd be delighted to have you.

You can also support my writing endeavours and buy me tea & cake - it's what makes the world go round!

Claire Buss is a multi-genre author and poet, completely addicted to cake. Find all her books on Amazon. Join the discussion in her Facebook group Buss's Book Stop. 

Wednesday 10 July 2019

A Slice of Cake With... Jennifer Reynolds

This week I am delighted to be having a slice of cake with author Jennifer Reynolds.

Jennifer is a native of North Alabama. She has a Master of Fine Arts degree from National University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of North Alabama. 

She is a multi-genre author who focuses mostly on post-apocalyptic novels with plagues and zombies as their source of destruction and paranormal romances, especially shifters, werewolves, and ghosts. She does occasionally dabble in other genres such as general fiction, horror, and suspense thrillers. 

When she’s not writing, she’s her mother-in-law’s full-time caregiver, a stay at home wife, an avid reader, and the mother to two kitties, Lilith and Midnight. 

What kind of books do you write?

Mostly I write about shapeshifters who fall in love with plus size women, but over the next year or so, all of my releases will about how to survive zombies.

Can you describe your writing why?

I write because I love telling stories. At any given moment, one story or another is playing out in my head, but my everyday life interrupts it, so I write it down to see how it plays out. 

Share with us your favourite passage from the book you enjoyed writing the most

Here’s a scene from Leaving Liberty, a Shore Haven short story that released March 2019.

The lights in the room flickered. They hadn’t been bright to begin with, and I’d assumed they were solar powered.

No, I thought, looking at the light bulb hanging from a wire in the ceiling. No, you can’t go out. You can’t leave me in the dark.

The lights flickered again before going out completely. I threw myself into my door, and that time I felt it give a little. Or at least I thought I did. It had to because the back wall of my cell was caving in from all of the bodies pressing against it, and if it gave all the way it would spill zombies in on top of me, and I would be trapped.

I hit the door, again and again, not paying any attention to what was happening on the other side of my cell. My eyes stayed on the slowly bulging frame of the door. More bullets flew by me. One even grazed my arm, but I didn’t feel it. 

The last time I hit the door, I felt something push back as if there was a person on the other side trying to get in the room with me. I froze. I watched the doorknob, what I could make out of it anyway, to see if anyone was trying to unlock it. No one was, but someone was pushing on the door, trying to get inside. 

“I’m in here,” I screamed. I twisted and turned the doorknob, but didn’t have the strength to break the lock. “I’m here,” I screamed again to keep the person from giving up on getting to me.

Not once did it occur to me that the person wasn’t trying the knob either. Nor did it occur to me that there was more than one person on the other side of the door or that they might not be a person at all. I just kept screaming and pulling on the door.

Tell us about your latest project

Shore Haven is about a group of people living in a world that has already suffered through one post-apocalyptic event that has split the contents into a multitude of large islands when the zombie outbreak occurs. The group has to survive the zombies and prove to the rest of the world that the US has a vaccine and is working on a cure to keep them for bombing what remains of the country to prevent the outbreak from spreading. 

What is your favourite cake?

Cheesecake. All types.

A fine choice indeed! You can catch up with Jennifer on her website, follow her on Twitter and Facebook and all her books are available on Amazon.

Join me next week when I'll be having a slice of cake with Linda Thomsen.

If you would like to take part in A Slice of Cake With... please fill in the form found here. I'd be delighted to have you.

You can also support my writing endeavours and buy me tea & cake - it's what makes the world go round!

Claire Buss is a multi-genre author and poet, completely addicted to cake. Find all her books on Amazon. Join the discussion in her Facebook group Buss's Book Stop. 

Tuesday 9 July 2019

Tuesday poem - The Pox

The last few weeks we've been growing spots
Too many to count in the end, simply, lots
The pox has hit our household
Starting with what seemed like a cold
The boy brought it home from school
Thinking it was ever so cool
He went pale and blazed a fever
Wouldn't eat anything either
Claimed a nest on the front room floor
Groaning every time I walk in the door
We counted his spots
He didn't get lots
A very good boy, hardly scratched at all
One or two potential scars, only small
He bounced in less than three days

A peace descended upon the house for a week
But we knew the outlook was bleak
My little girl with her soft baby skin
Surely she'd get the same as her kin
A spot appeared on her back then her tummy
At first the spotty outlook was sunny
But then her skin became awash with dots
Looking at her filled my stomach with knots
So many there was no skin left to see
Plenty of calamine lotion is the key
As I brush my hands over the niggly bumps
My heart breaks after touching each lump
I'm crying inside as I look at her poor face
This has to have been the very worst case
I wish I could clear it with a mothers touch

Claire Buss is a multi-genre author and poet, completely addicted to cake. Find all her books on Amazon. Join the discussion in her Facebook group Buss's Book Stop. 

Thursday 4 July 2019

New Book of Flashes

Writing flash fiction is an indulgence of mine. I love it when a writing prompt sparks inspiration and those words come tip, tip, tapping out of my fingers so it is with great pleasure that I'm announcing a new book of flash fiction, released today - 4th of July no less, right at the beginning of flash fiction month.

The definition of flash fiction is fiction of a type characterised by being very short, typically consisting of only a few hundred words.

Lots of writers find is tricky to write flash fiction because you have to squeeze the entire story into a few hundred words. The usual word limit is 300-1500 ish but these things are fluid which I like.

When the muse is with me and the writing prompt tickles my inspiration I really enjoy writing short, short stories and I'm being completely honest and upfront that all the stories in the book are short and flashy. There are twenty in total ranging from stories in the different rooms of your house, alien realtors and some spooky goings on. I didn't stick to any particular genre so it really is an eclectic mix of tales.

I also worry when releasing a collection. Is it long enough? Does it have value? Will my readers like it? There's the usual writing doubt that I can't string the letters of the alphabet together in any logical format but I hope I have put together something that readers can enjoy over a cup of coffee.

To the sales bit! You can get your hands on your very own copy for the princely sum of 99p ($0.99). It's only available in ebook format so click on through and enjoy yourself.

Claire Buss is a multi-genre author and poet, completely addicted to cake. Find all her books on Amazon. Join the discussion in her Facebook group Buss's Book Stop. 

Wednesday 3 July 2019

A Slice of Cake With...Nix Whittaker

Nix Whittaker is an English teacher who lives in the central North Island of New Zealand in the shadow of an active volcano. Nix Whittaker writes in Science Fiction and Fantasy/steampunk. 

She writes because she ran out of books to read. When she was young she discovered she was dyslexic and read books to improve her spelling. Her love of reading started then as she immersed herself in Terry Pratchett and Mercedes Lackey. Now she is more into Patricia Briggs and Anne Bishop and they have all certainly influenced her writing.

What kind of books do you write?

I have everything from people on other planet, dragons who changed history or tattoos which can give you superpowers. I’m busy writing a book with shapeshifting foxes in Canada.

Can you describe your writing why?

I’m dyslexic but undiagnosed as a child so I thought I could fix my spelling by reading more books. I ran out of books to read so I had to start writing my own as the stories in my head don’t let me sleep at night.

Share with us your favourite passage from the book you enjoyed writing the most

A black and white sketch of the naginata graced half the page and it didn’t give it a name. Despite Haku’s claim that the Yokai were different from the Japanese people, they had one thing in common. Naginata, a woman’s weapon, didn’t get as much flash and ceremony as the weapons usually wielded by men. It didn’t even have a name. She was tempted to get her followers to name it but then it might end up being Sticky Mcpointy Stick. 

Tell us about your latest project

I have a lot of things on the fire at the moment. I just put up on preorder the second book in my model humans series. That is a story set on another planet with genetically engineered people. But I also just released the first book in my latest series, called Lady Golden Hand. Set in my Wyvern Chronicles world it is my first attempt at a mystery. Great fun to write. But the snippet above is from my next book which is also the first in a series and my first Urban Fantasy book with Kitsune in Canada.

What is your favourite cake?

Mud cake. Anything with huge amounts of chocolate and very little icing. I don’t like icing. But mud cake with chocolate ganache hits all my cravings for chocolate.

An excellent choice! Check out all of Nix's books on her Amazon page here.

Join me next week when I'll be having a slice of cake with Jennifer Powell Reynolds.

If you would like to take part in A Slice of Cake With... please fill in the form found here. I'd be delighted to have you.

You can also support my writing endeavours and buy me tea & cake - it's what makes the world go round!

Claire Buss is a multi-genre author and poet, completely addicted to cake. Find all her books on Amazon. Join the discussion in her Facebook group Buss's Book Stop. 

Tuesday 2 July 2019

Tuesday poem - Just One More

Just one more episode of that top TV show
It's Netflix and chill time dontcha know

Just one more chocolate biscuit to dunk in my tea
My waist is expanding but I choose not to see

Just once more chapter of my latest read in bed
Despite two tired eyes filling full of zeds

Just one more snooze hit on the phone alarm
A brief moment before kids destroy the calm

Just one more cup of tea, with the milk in first
There's nothing quite like it to quench your thirst

Just one more sweep of my social media feed
It goes on and on, growing at tremendous speed

Just one more hug at the end of the day
Spending some time in my favourite way

Just one more poke into your sleeping ribs
Cos you snore as loud as a stuck pig

Claire Buss is a multi-genre author and poet, completely addicted to cake. Find all her books on Amazon. Join the discussion in her Facebook group Buss's Book Stop. 

Books Read in June 2019

Recap: Meet Harry Dresden, Wizard. He's trying to solve a murder without being murdered himself and it's not going exactly to plan.

Review: I watched the tv series a while back and thought I must read the books then never got round to it. This is probably a good thing because the memory of the tv show is romanticized and diminished so I'm able to fully immerse myself in the book. It's a complex case but not so complicated that you get lost. There are strong characters throughout plus obvious stereotypes but you don't mind because it's an entertaining read. The first in a series so obviously there are lots of questions but good world building and a clear definition on the magical system in place. I look forward to the next one.

Recap: an unknown menace strikes the human race, turning you mad if you look at it. Malorie survives blindfolded but must travel down river with two small children to a potential sanctuary.

Review: I watched the Netflix movie before I read the book and loved it. The book enhances that experience. The fear is closer and the desperation more desperate, less Hollywood. I found it hard to read the parts explaining how Malorie trained the children to keep their eyes closed and the suggestion of Don's to blind them because that would be my reality as a mum to young children. What would I do??? I enjoyed the back and forth narrative, it helped keep the tension high and the fear was written so well.

Recap: Rosie and Sam are asked to investigate a murder at a crime writers writing retreat.

Review: As always you are given glimpses of the supernatural that are never quite explained fully away. We're given a smidge more information on Rosie's parents but not enough, we need more! I really hope there's a full reveal planned for the future. The writer characters at the retreat were amusing and as always I had no idea whodunit - I never do lol. Really liked the Dorcus character - will we learn more about him? I hope so. Rosie and Sam's interplay feels more natural and we got a kiss! Just not quite that kind lol. Less witches but lots of local lore and history which is very interesting.

Recap: Miranda doesn't want to get married or be the daughter of the First Apostle and that's before she finds out what her family is responsible for and her own abuse memories resurface.

Review: Lynette has constructed such a well thought out alternative America that is feels chillingly realistic. The antagonists are unlikable and dastardly, our mentor is cranky yet loyal and our heroine kicks butt! The concept of the Azrael isn't quite fully explained enough, I have some questions about the inner power that's described but I'm hoping that will be further revealed in book two. There's lots of scope for a prequel as well. You might not root immediately for Miranda's personality but her circumstances will compel you to read on and crucially, she makes mistakes and is all the more believable for it. I could say more but I don't want to write spoilers so instead, I'll recommend you read this dystopian tale for yourself.

Recap: Mielitta doesn't fit into her perfect society and longs for something different. Circumstance provides her with the password to outside, to the Forest and her new life begins.

Review: A coming of age story with bees! Intriguing world building with insidious antagonists that provoked strong dislike - I think that was to do with all the clever scent and colour descriptions throughout the book that reinforced the characters. There are lots of unanswered questions so I'm looking forward to finding out what happens next.

Recap: The Torri-Tau are a little miffed about having been imprisoned for eternity and are now rewriting everyone's history unless Pierre and George can do anything about it.

Review: Pierre and George are back - hooray - but the entire universe as they know it is being erased unless they can come up with a plan. I have enjoyed reading this series and I loved the fact that Pierre and George are back together in this instalment. Despite stumbling from one disaster to another there are some poignant moments as well and the ending was well deserved for both characters. Pierre should have got the goat though, feels like a missed opportunity lol.

Recap: Newport Pagnell, wizard, is looking for dragon shell to make toothpaste.

Review: Highly amusing, far too short and a great lead into what I hope will be further books. Strong worldbuilding and sense of place, expected fantasy trope characters seen from Newport's point of view which adds a little freshness. Definitely on the smelly and yucky side of realistic setting though lol.

Claire Buss is a multi-genre author and poet, completely addicted to cake. Find all her books on Amazon. Join the discussion in her Facebook group Buss's Book Stop.