Wednesday 27 November 2019

A Slice of Cake With... Matilda Scotney

This week I am delighted to have a slice of cake with author Matilda Scotney.

Matilda is a former professional classical singer, musical director and actor. She wasted part of her youth as a stand-up comic and folk singer trolling the London Underground stations with her guitar and singing Irish folk songs. When she finished her music studies with the Royal College of Music, she took up acting. Matilda knew she was getting too old to continue in the theatre when she started getting cast in parts such as Granny in the stage version of The Addams Family. Instead, she took up scriptwriting for local amateur theatres and also offered her services as a voice coach and director which was huge fun. Now Matilda is a happily retired Star Wars nerd who lives life with very little seriousness in a house ruled by a five-inch high chihuahua. Her home is in the mid-west of Western Australia. And she likes to write.

What kind of books do you write?

I love the idea of Time Travel and a utopian future. My first two books were on those themes. My second series was more interdimensional, multiverse, galactic empire but I love all my characters to be on some sort of mission of self-discovery. I always add in a touch of the metaphysical as well. And I like to write.

Can you describe your writing why?

It started with Star Wars in 1977! I wanted to build worlds too! And now I do. Simply being able to imagine worlds and universes and bringing people to life in my stories is my motivation. I also draw on events in the news, from history and people I see in my everyday routines. Changing the context of a life, an event, a location in my imagination; it’s very compelling.

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

Oh crumbs. This is a really hard question. I love all of my first two books, The Afterlife of Alice Watkins Books One and Two. But I think the prologue for The Soul Monger Book One is nicely chilling, particularly as it is a tale of intergalactic slavery. I hope it’s not too long.


Scotland Yard: Missing Persons Files (Cold Cases–Overseas Agencies) Summary research only.

Christmas Eve, 2008: A family of five headed home after a pre-Christmas get-together with friends. Travelling along the M25 motorway near Junction 20 at Hemel Hempstead, their car collided with a speeding drunk driver who’d strayed into their lane. The force of the impact lifted the family’s car into the air before it plunged to the ground and rolled several times before landing on its roof. Horrified witnesses rushed to help, but the car was already a fireball, and flames beat back any would-be rescuers. Emergency services recovered four bodies from the burnt-out wreck of the family’s car. Anxious friends later told police a teenaged girl accompanied her parents and two

brothers on the journey; a fact corroborated by a service station attendant who spoke to the family less than ten minutes before the accident. Witnesses testified no-one could have walked away from such carnage. The girl was never found.

This and other strange, unsolved cases of missing persons are listed on several government databases. The files date back more than a century and make extraordinary reading although the very early accounts are poorly documented, often recording the attending police officer’s mistrust in the witness’s descriptions and making personal observations about intoxication and “seeking notoriety”. Later incidents, those which occurred within living memory, are profiled more efficiently and without bias; such as the 1964 disappearance of a young man from a locked, virtually windowless cell in a South African prison; or the nurse who left a Chicago hospital very early one January morning in 2018, and was witnessed by a cab driver vanishing into “thin air”. (The cabbie’s blood alcohol reading accompanied the report).

An intriguing entry, from 2017, reported the disappearance of an Australian woman in Bali. Her departure was reported to police by a Balinese masseuse who described her missing client as, “Gone! Poof! Just like that!”

Equally compelling is the 2012 account of a German woman, witnessed by several of her colleagues getting into her car in an underground car park when she was due at an important meeting. Three of the witnesses went to speak to her, but the car was empty, the keys in the ignition and the woman’s shoes kicked off in the driver’s seat well.

But perhaps the most bizarre? In a small Sicilian town in the spring of 1991, a woman and her child went to chat with their elderly neighbour, whom they’d known for years. As they approached, the man, “walked into the scenery, out of sight”. Why was this more bizarre than the others? According to the report, the man stepped purposefully, and as he vanished, he looked at the mother and child, and waved.

Police enquiries found homes left as if the occupant planned to return; food in the fridge, open bank accounts (which went untouched), and in the case of the Sicilian man, the washing machine in mid-cycle. Mystified workmates and employers were unable to shed light on their colleague’s disappearance and in every event, no doctors’ records documented any psychiatric disorders.

In time, these and the mystery of the teenaged girl were packaged together and marked as cold cases. A scribbled memo sticky-taped to the lid of the archive box lends a poignant epitaph:

“Bill, (Archivist) These are the foreign ones. I put the English kid in as well. Scan ‘em and shove the physical files in the archives. Don’t waste resources. They’re gone.”

Tell us about your latest project

I’m currently writing the third and final book in The Soul Monger series. The series starts with an intergalactic war and deals with slavery, war and intrigue and focuses on the main character’s quest to find the origins of humankind. It has a strong metaphysical and visionary theme throughout and as in my other books, deals with the ordinary human finding themselves facing the extraordinary.

What is your favourite cake?

Chocolate cake.

Keep up to date with Matilda by visiting her website and checking out her Facebook.

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

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 26 November 2019

Mince Pies

Mince pies are nice
Mince pies are yum
Mince pies sit nicely in your tum

Have them warm
Have them cold
Have them when you're young or old

Good with custard
Good with cream
Good with anything, you know what I mean

Make your own
Make a trip to the shop
Make sure you've got some ready to drop

There's one for you
There's one for me
There's one for Santa with his cup of tea

Some have icing
Some have stars
Some sit prettily in festive jars

Christmas treats for you
Christmas treats for me
Christmas treats for everyone, underneath the tree

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 25 November 2019

Give a little this Christmas

The Sparkly Badgers' Christmas Anthology is a collection of wonderfully festive short stories by a talented group of indie authors. The proceeds of every book sold go to the Avon Riding Centre for the Disabled - providing the therapeutic benefits of horse riding to people with disabilities.

Before you rush out to buy your loved ones all their presents, please consider spending a few pounds to support this wonderful charity and give a little love this Christmas. 

Meet the authors & their stories

C H Clepitt and Claire Buss - A Badger Christmas Carol
A modern retelling of a classic story, with badgers.

Ted Akin - Christmas Underwater
Ever wondered if Santa could make it to mermaids?

Amy Bethan Evans - Invisible Christmas
A poem from playwright, dramaturge and disability activist Amy.

Ann Frowd - Mrs. Claus's Holiday
Sometimes even Mrs. Claus gets overwhelmed, but how will Santa manage Christmas without her?

A.M. Leibowitz - Wishin' You Were Here By Me
Will Lindsey and Claire get their happy ever after when Lindsey runs out on their wedding?

Maria Riegger - Midnight Lasagne
Some of the best conversations happen at midnight, over lasagne!

Joanne Van Leerdam - Christmas Eve, Despondent
A poem from poet and novelist Joanne.

Lyra Shanti - Unidentified Flying Reindeer
Staying awake to meet Santa doesn't always go as planned.

Layla Pinkett - Santabot!
How on Earth can Santa get around all of the houses in just one night?

Margena Holmes - Joey the Little Christmas Tree
Discover Christmas from the viewpoint of the tree.

Sophie Kearing - Zoe Quinn and the Best Christmas Ever
Spend Christmas with Zoe Quinn, as she learns that there is a lot more to it than just presents.

Chloe Hammond - The Visit
A spine-tingler of a tale with a twist at the end that you will not see coming.

E.M. Swift-Hook and Jane Jago - A Christmas Tail
A cute story in verse about a girl discovering the meaning of Christmas with the help of a mouse.

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 20 November 2019

A Slice of Cake With... Sybrina Durant

Today I am delighted to be having a slice of cake with author Sybrina Durant.

Sybrina is an author, singer and songwriter whose books span a wide range between illustrated picture books, colouring books and YA novels to technical and how-to books. 

What kind of books do you write?

I write purely fanciful yet somewhat sciency science fiction and fantasy unicorn adventure books.

Can you describe your writing why?

I pondered how to develop the story of the Blue Unicorn and his tribe of Metal Horned unicorns for about 35 years before I finally got it ready to share with fantasy book lovers. 

My world-building and writing style was inspired by another unicorn storyteller named Piers Anthony.  I just loved his wit and colourful characters and wanted to see if I could create my own unicorn world with engaging characters.  

I came up with the idea to have metal-horned unicorns whose names, colors and even magic that was directly and sometimes indirectly tied in some way to the real scientific properties of their metals. For instance, there’s a copper horned unicorn in the story.  Her mane and hide are green because that is a prominent color you see in a flame with copper burning in it.  Her name is Cuprum because that is the Latin word for copper.  She has the magical ability to purify water with her horn because it is a reality that over the centuries, humans stored water in copper containers because of its bacteria and germ-killing powers. Cuprum has the power to manipulate any water source, even one as powerful as a water-filled tornado.  The story revolves around 12 unicorns.  Eleven have metal horns and magical powers.  One does not.  Journey To Osm is his story.

I always intended for it to be a full-length novel but I got distracted when I came across the amazing illustrator Steve Disgupta.  I loved his water-color style artwork so much that I condensed the text of the story and published it as an illustrated novella of sorts.  That book contains 40 something full-color illustrations that each span 2 pages.  Between each of those pictures are exactly 2 pages of story text. I actually went a little crazy publishing that book in several formats.  In addition to the full-color illustrations, I also requested each picture to be drawn in a black and white woodcut style like you used to see in old fairy tales.  That version is available for sale as a “Read and Color” book.  The shorter story is also available as an audiobook.  Finally, for readers who want to know more about the metal-horned unicorns, the 85,000-word novel will give them lots of insight.

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

Chapter Twenty-Six
Speed And A Pepo Seed  

The Firebird hovered at the entrance of the canyon watching the three of them. Blue “sipped” on his second rock and giggled something that sounded like “silly bird” to the Pendragon. They all laughed.  

Girasol felt completely powerless, and her feelings stung, but she had no idea how to help. “How can I make them listen?” she demanded of the mountains.   

“You can't,” came a voice from nowhere and everywhere at the same time. “I have induced hebephrenia in their feeble minds.”  

“Who are you? And what is heb-phren-what-ever you called it?” Girasol flared, melting some of the ice from the nearby rock faces.  

“My, aren't you a hot-head?” the voice chuckled at her display of wrath. ”I am Yegwa, the Spirit of False Springtime. I have put your companions and the Pendragon under a spell, which makes them think this is a wondrous place. I've altered the way their senses perceive things. They believe their delusions are reality.”  The unseen entity let out a peal of laughter at that.

“Let them go,” the Firebird demanded. Blue-white sparks spouted from her feathered crown. She could not see the spirit, and was getting more frustrated by the moment.  

“Let them go? I wouldn't dream of it,” Yegwa said in a voice hungry with anticipation. “It’s not often I have this much fun! Their antics will provide me with hours of entertainment. It gets so boring sometimes. You seem to be immune to my magic, though. Must be that hot blood of yours.”  

“What kind of spirit are you? How can you enjoy watching your victims freeze to death?” Girasol asked. ”Are you so wicked? Are you an evil sorcerer, like Magh?”    

“Magh? Sorcerer? Do tell,” Yegwa inquired. “He sounds like someone after my own soulless heart. Is he single?”  

“Single? What?!” Girasol blazed. “Never you mind about Magh. I don’t have time for this back and forth with you.”  

“Oh, you are indeed a peppery dish.” Yegwa let loose a shrill cackle. “If I had teeth, I’d eat you right up!”  

“What about my friends?” the Firebird pursued. She looked around the top of the canyon walls for the source of the disembodied voice.   

“You're welcome to keep company with them, if you wish. I don't keep anyone imprisoned, you know,” the spirit said, trying to sound sugary sweet. “My guests are quite free to wander about, as you witnessed when you met the Pendragon.”   

“You're too kind,” Girasol thanked her in a voice drenched with sarcasm. The Firebird wanted to keep a close watch on Blue and Gaiso, and now that she knew Gwyn was in the same predicament, she worried about her, as well. She tapped her head with her right wing, trying to figure out a way to save her friends.   

Hot blood … hmmm … Warmth … that’s it. They need to be warm!  

They would freeze to death, if she did not help soon. She remembered the pepo seeds Blue had stashed for her, so she flew down to where the delusional trio were still playing house. They were not even aware of her presence, as she rummaged in the sack slung across Blue's shoulder.    

Thank-goodness, Blue brought these along, she thought. Nothing grows up here! 

She brought one out of the bag and bit into the nutmeg flavored treat. It all depended on how much she exerted herself but under normal conditions, one Pepo seed equated to at least two days of revitalization. As she launched into the air, she hoped this one would be enough to warm up her friends and get them away from this canyon of certain death. She started slowly, flying continually around the oblivious little group, fanning her wings so that warm gusts circulated through the square-shaped space. 

”If nothing else, I’ll keep them from turning into ice lollys.”    

As the warm air encouraged the blood to flow through their veins, they noticed her once more. 

“Look at that,” Blue exclaimed. He pointed at the Firebird with his horn. ”It's a flying unicorn!”

“No, it isn't,” Gaiso corrected him. ”That, Sir Unicorn is a flying doe!” 

“You're both mistaken,” Gwyn informed them. ”It's the Pendragon who was being so rude. Remember? You told her to wait outside.” 

“They see me!” Girasol exclaimed, relieved that her efforts were working.

Each of them saw her as a different creature, and as they argued with each other so vehemently, Girasol wondered how they could communicate at all. The fact that they could at least see her gave her some hope, and an idea. 

Needing to generate more heat, she continued circling her friends, picking up speed as she flew. She raced around and around inside the canyon with the speed of a peregrine diving to strike its prey. 

Strawberry-colored flames licked the thin, melting ice from the frozen mountainsides until they were drier than the surface of the moon. The very walls stretched themselves toward the unaccustomed sunny glow. 

Still, she flew faster. 

The Firebird now generated a blue-flamed heat rivaling that of a star. Round and round the canyon she spiraled, as if chased by hounds from a netherworld.

The screaming of the Yegwa broke through the trance that held her captives. “This isn't fair! You're ruining my fun!” she yelled in savage irritation. 

Her voice echoed throughout the canyon and her screams frightened them all, but Girasol was joyful that her friends had recovered. They stood in the middle of the canyon, dripping with sweat, but had regained their faculties.

“What's going on?” Blue asked, trying to see the Firebird through the glaring light.

“There's no time to answer questions. Follow me. You too, Gwyn,” she ordered them. “I’ll lead you to safety.”

Blue and Gaiso scrambled after her, but the bigger bird hesitated. “Do I know you?” the Pendragon asked, wavering. 

Another of Yegwa’s terrible screeches echoed. 

With the increasing screeching of the enraged Yegwa, Gwyn decided it did not matter whether she knew these creatures or not. She hastily followed Blue and Gaiso down the trail after Girasol. The Firebird was frantic to find an escape for her charges. Their lives depended on it. If they got cold again, the Yegwa would regain her power over them.

No matter how far they ran, they could still hear her venomous taunts. ”There's no escape from Yegwa! Your friends are doomed, Firebird.” Her laughter rang obscenely. 

Girasol’s energy began to wane, but she refused to give up hope. She flew far ahead, seeking an exit from the canyon for her land-bound friends. She never stayed away from them longer than a minute, so that they would not lose too much body heat.

The Firebird was growing tired from over exertion. Never had she flown so fast before, but Yegwa easily kept up, laughing evilly at her attempt to save her friends. 

“You will fail!” the evil spirit screeched. Her voice bounced around the canyon walls, and it was this that finally allowed Girasol to see it. . .well, she saw something.

A crystalline vapor chased after the group. It shimmered like a mirage in the desert, but this quivering apparition was born from the cold, rather than the heat. 

Girasol did not stop to stare at Yegwa. She had to find an exit. She could not give up. All their lives all depended on it. 

The Firebird was expending her energy reserves quicker than usual, and there was no time to stop for another Pepo seed. Besides, she had no idea what the effects might be of eating another one so soon. For all she knew, she might completely flame out. She could not chance losing her strength, or her fire. Her friends needed her. 

The Yegwa was always right with her, laughing and taunting her failing strength, “You’re growing weak. You’ll never beat me at my own game. My essence will turn even you icy cold!”     

Hearing those words, Girasol faltered, dropping like a stone toward the ground. ”No!” she yelled defiantly. Her fall halted just two feet from the icy surface. A mighty surge of her wings pushed her back into the sky.

There, just a little ahead, the tired bird saw a small opening in the rock face. Through it, she could see a wide band of purple land. Her heart lifted. That was the way to freedom! 

She had flown over the rainbow-colored Bands of Weita. The colored bands were laid out exactly like a rainbow shining in the sky after a storm. First purple. . .then, blue, green, yellow, orange and red. The bands flowed seamlessly together, with only gentle hills and dells in the distance. Crossing should be easy. She smiled happily. Her energy could not have lasted much longer.

“Here,” she called triumphantly. “This is the way to safety!”

The opening proved smaller than she had thought. Blue exited first. The hole was a little wider than his shoulders, so he made it through with room to spare, but Gwyn got stuck half way through. Blue heard her cries for help and turned back. Grasping her flippers with his cloven hooves, he pulled, but could not budge the large Pendragon. 

Gaiso immediately positioned his antlers under her tail so that the sharp tines would not puncture the poor chick-drake. Pushing and pulling until the rocks crashed and crumbled, Gwyn finally squeezed through with a grunt and a groan. The hole was now large enough for the stag’s antlers to pass through without even touching the sides. He leapt through in a single bound and the three survivors waited anxiously for the Firebird to join them. 

Seeing them flee to safety, Yegwa called caustically, “Go that way, if you dare! You won't be any safer from those who dwell within the Bands of Weita than you are with me!” She laughed with harsh malice, and then vaporized back into nothing.

Girasol had soared back and forth before the opening in the side of the mountain, protecting her companions as they escaped the canyon. Now, they were all safe. “We'll take our chances,” she said wearily, exiting behind them. 

The instant they were all through, the screeching of the Yegwa mercifully ceased, as if an invisible sound barrier had sprung up between them.

Tell us about your latest project

I have two new metal horn unicorn projects going on concurrently.  One is something I’m calling The MarBryn Compendium.  It will be a rather large pictorial glossary about the unicorns and all of the other denizens of the Land of Marbryn, where the metal-horned unicorns were trapped for several centuries before they made their way back to their home planet of Unimaise.  The other is a children’s book featuring the metal-horned unicorns when they were little ponies.  I am co-writing it with Sandi Johnson and Enrique Vignolo is creating the adorable illustrations. It’s going to be amazing.

What is your favourite cake?

Chocolate – the chocolatier, fudgier and gooier the better.  In fact, I’m sure Tinam, the Tin-Horned unicorn – he’s the magical chef of the tribe - could whip an incredibly edible chocolaty confection right out of thin air that would more than satisfy the sweetest tooth of any unicorn.

You can find out more about Sybrina's books on her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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

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 19 November 2019

Tuesday poem - Closing In

Dark nights
Dark morning
Winter draws in

A saw a red breast bobbing along
And wished him a good morrow

Chill mornings
With a snap
And a dragon puff

The end of the year is running now
Each day competing with the last

Sleep in
Snuggle down
Hot cup of tea

Christmas bells are jingling in the distance
Not a scrap has been bought or wrapped

Lights on
Heat up
Early to bed

It feels like time to reflect on the weight of the year
To batten down and prepare for the next

Family time
Phone calls
Love to all

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. 

Sunday 17 November 2019

Half-Way Through

It's Mid-November and we are half-way through NaNoWriMo!

Congratulations to everyone who is still writing - you've made it this far. Now, I don't know about you but I'm behind on my word count. I'm at 20,770 out of 50,000 words and I've got 13 days to write another 29,230 words which work out at... roughly 2,250 words per day.

So for the stay at home mum who has no time to write it could be a challenge. How can I try to manage this?

I've been dabbling with scheduling my social media and using a website called Later to set up posts for Instagram and Twitter as well as using the new (to me) scheduling tools for my Facebook groups and pages.

I've been attempting to stay on top of that pesky housework stuff by doing a little regularly rather than letting it mount up and I've been menu planning so I don't have to think too much about what to cook each day. It sounds like I'm super organised but honestly, that's so not me!

The other thing that I've done this year different to previous NaNo years is a little bit of planning. Now usually I'm a discovery writer with no idea of what's going to happen next but last month I worked through a planning guide and made some notes on my story arc, character descriptions, motivations and it's really helped. I still had a scary moment when I stumbled seven chapters in and realised I had no plot LOL. That's the fun of NaNo I guess.

To everything who is storming ahead - way to go! To everyone who has fallen behind - don't worry. It is not the be all and end all if you don't make your 50,000 word count. Be kind to yourself and enjoy your writing time.

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 13 November 2019

A Slice of Cake With... Nils Odlund

This week I am delighted to be having a slice of cake with Nils Odlund.

Nils Ödlund is originally Swedish, but lives these days in Ireland. He's an avid reader, gamer, and fan of geek-culture. Ödlund picked up writing as a hobby, almost by accident, back in 2010, and it quickly grew into something of an obsession. In 2017 he decided to get serious about it, and in early 2018, he published his debut novella Emma's Story. Since then he's been working on the Lost Dogs series. When not writing, Ödlund enjoys hiking through the Irish countryside, reading, or playing games.

What kind of books do you write?

I write books about ordinary people in a fantasy world in modern times. Except, the people aren't quite as ordinary as I originally intended them to be, before I started the story. I'm writing a series, and both of my characters are therianthropes (werewolves, kind of), and on of them is a world-famous celebrity. The focus is on character development and internal conflict rather than on action and quests to save the world.

Can you describe your writing why?

It's fun. I enjoy it, and I feel like I'm good at it. Also, and perhaps more importantly, I want to be read. I want to give people an escape from the real world, and a glimpse into something else. Escapism. 

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

Here, from Lost Dogs #4, which is probably still my favourite book in the series, and which meant most to me as I wrote it:

She turned her head up the street. Looked away into the dark for a moment. Thin black tendrils of hate and revenge wound their way into her mind as she thought about the future, but she closed her eyes and pushed them away. A hot shower, and a soft bed in a private room. That's what she wanted. 
It'd be better than any vengeance ever could be.

The second paragraph there was initially something like “a hot shower and a soft bed in a private room would be better than any vengeance” but it fell away while editing the second draft. I wanted to keep it in though, because it's very central to the character's personality, and this is how it ended up.

Tell us about your latest project

I'm currently working on the ninth part of the Lost Dogs series. At its core, the series is a story about trust, friendship, and belonging. On the surface, and from a distance, it's about werewolves on a train.

If you want to go somewhere in between, it's about Roy and Alene. Roy is a middle-aged man who gets a chance to correct the biggest mistake of his life, and who drops everything to do that. Alene is an aspiring young journalist who decides she's the one to uncover Roy's story.

The most recent book in the series Lost Dogs #8: North Into The Past was released on September 6, and the 9th part will be out in later November or early December.

What is your favourite cake?

My favourite cake is Sans Rival. My dad used to make it for birthdays when I was a kid.

A new one for me, Nils, but it sounds yummy! You can keep up to date with Nils's writing endeavours on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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

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 12 November 2019

Tuesday poem - Bye Bye Cow

The juice of a cow
such a simple thing
and something most people don't even consider
This person's stomach has cried out loud
No more!
I cannot!
Our bodies have wonderful ways of talking to us
Constant nausea - foul wind - griping pain
This unleaded is full of diesel
Maybe it's an age thing
Maybe it's a 'too cheap to buy different' thing
Maybe it's been a long time coming
Now times, they are a-changing
And this tummy
Is on the goat

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 11 November 2019

The Gaia Solution - now available

I am delighted to announce that The Gaia Solution, book 3 in The Gaia Collection is now available from your favourite book retailer.

The Gaia Collection is my hopeful dystopian trilogy set 200 years in the future after much of the planet and the human race have been decimated during The Event, when the world went to war with high-energy radiation weapons. In The Gaia Effect, Kira and Jed Jenkins – a young couple who were recently allocated a child – together with their closest friends, discover Corporation have been deliberately lying to them and forcing them to remain sterile. With help from Gaia, the spirit of the Earth, the group of friends begin to fight back against Corporation eventually winning and taking over the governance of City 42.

In The Gaia Project, Corporation fight back under a new, more terrifying organization called New Corp and Kira, Jed and their friends end up fleeing for their lives trying to find a safe place to live. They travel to City 36 and City 9 in vain and must go further afield.


In the final book, The Gaia Solution, the main characters have ended up with the Resistance and not only do they have to deal with surviving against New Corp but an extinction environmental event is looming on the horizon and they’re running out of time to save what’s left of the human race.

Kira, Jed and their friends have fled New Corporation and joined the Resistance, but their relief is short-lived as they discover how decimated the human race has become and learn of an environmental crisis that threatens to destroy their existence. Kira and Jed must travel up the mountain to the New Corporation stronghold, City 50, to bargain for sanctuary while Martha and Dina risk everything to return to City 42 and save those who are left. With the last of her reserves Gaia, the fading spirit of the Earth uses her remaining influence to guide Kira and her friends but ultimately, it’s up to humanity to make the right choice.

Early reviews have been encouraging - "Hopeful dystopia is my new favourite genre" - "A very moving story" - "Unusual eco-science-fantasy trilogy"

When you finish reading The Gaia Solution, please take a moment to write a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads, I'd love to know what you thought.

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 6 November 2019

A Slice of Cake With... Rachel Bross

This week I am delighted to be having a slice of cake with author Rachel Bross.

Normally this is where I give you the interviewee of the week 3rd person bio but Rachel's intro was so chirpy I thought I'd leave it as is and let her southern charm wash over you!

My name is Rachel Bross. Allow me to give you a good ole Southern greeting of “Howdy! It’s so very nice to meet you! How’re y’all today?" I am currently twenty-seven years old, a mother of two, and about to start my career in nursing. My main hobbies are painting, sewing, and singing. These hobbies are the closest to writing I can get, where I still retain the ability to tell a story. I have my Associates of Arts in English and Associates of Career Tech in Practical Nursing from Northwest Mississippi Community College. My senior year of high school, I won second place in the Delta Youth Writing Contest sponsored by Morgan Freeman when my maiden name was Brooks. I have been writing since I was sixteen, but didn’t get serious until I turned nineteen when I had the great joy of taking the creative writing classes available on campus. Writing has become a passion of mine. I want to move people out of their realities and into worlds unknown. Growing up, yes I had friends to play with and television to watch, but I never was truly satisfied until I got hooked into a book that took me to worlds beyond my reach, but at the same time made it seem obtainable. That is what I want to do with my writing, for children, teens, and adults. I want to make them feel like they can walk through the cover and stand right next to the characters.

What kind of books do you write?

I write many different types of stories. My main current WIP, part of a trilogy, is considered medieval in nature with a sprinkling of magics, swordplay, and sarcasm. I like to dabble with whatever pops in my head, so I’m also working on an on the fly, action-packed, raid full of air pirates, metal parts, and steam. Lots of steam. Another is about the sensual caress of working hands with the occasional rooster call or oink. I have others, but their just in thought bubbles at the moment. I hope this is enough for now.

Can you describe your writing why?

I write because it’s second nature for me. Not only do I want to, but I have to. Once the idea emerges, I must get it down or else I’ll be itching until I do. I don’t stay away from a pencil and paper, laptop, or phone for very long so that I can get down what I want when I want. I often toss and turn with running thoughts keeping me up at night. I didn’t know I had this urge in me until after high school, but once it showed itself, it’s never gone away. I can be sitting in the car or in the tub, looking at a picture, or even pose a question to myself and come up with a story right there on the spot, that’s how great the desire to tell stories is for me.

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

That’s a difficult thing to do, seeing as how it’s really three books and two aren’t quite done yet, but I’ll share from the first book. This is after the antagonist has been vanquished, leading into the denouement:

As Lamia dies, Peter screams out in agony beside them.
Sarah turns her head, and he becomes quiet. She waits for a long moment, and he moans. She watches him try to get up, falling back to the ground each time. She runs to him, dropping on her side, and almost slides past him.
Hovering her hands on either side of his head, Sarah fights back tears. “Ssshh sshh, don’t move Peter. I’m here. It’s okay, it’s over.” She looks up.
Aengus stands near her, looking down at them.
Sarah offers a weak smile.
Aengus doesn't return the favor, only turns away.
Strange. Shrugging, it off, Sarah grabs Peter’s tunic, pulling him to her, and sets his head in her lap. Heat soaks through her pants. So hot, it forces her to let his head lie on the ground between her legs. She strokes his cheeks, jerking her hand away from his scorching hot skin.
Peter coughs. Smoke, embers, and ash float from his mouth.
She looks him over. His clothes are still intact. Nothing else seems out of place. He looks like his normal self. Then he looks up at her. She jumps, putting her hands to her mouth, and a small squeal escapes.
Peter coughs again, rolling onto his side, and tries to get up.
Sarah moves a leg, putting out a hand to help only to pull it back from the heat.
Peter stops, returning to his back, and tries to speak, but his words are scratchy. “What is it Sarah?” He lays his head between her legs again, looking up at her.
Sarah shifts, anticipating the burning heat against her legs, but it’s bearable. “Peter, your eyes, they’re no longer blue, but orange, red, and yellow.” She sits on her feet, placing his head in her lap.
Peter smirks, coughing out more smoke and ash, and puts his hand on Sarah’s knee. “Do they look bad?” He closes his eyes, taking in a deep breath only to cough it back out.
Sarah laughs, sniffling, and stifles back tears. “Of all the things in the world right now, you’re worried about your new eyes looking bad?” She laughs again, wiping her nose.

Tell us about your latest project

Strange Glow Collective is the survivalist story of two seven-year-olds, Peter, the boy next door, and Sarah who reluctantly come to live with each other through tragedy. On Sarah's eighteenth birthday, she finds a glowing rose in the woods. She and Peter try to hide it on the farm. A shared secret. When Sarah’s mother finds it, she immediately sends the two of them on the run with nothing more than instructions to run past the new moon. Just before Sarah and Peter leave, her parents fall dead without warning. While on the run, Sarah must come to grips with ultimately being the reason her parents are dead while not having enough time to mourn properly. Peter fights another side of himself that is slowly changing despite his efforts to ignore it. His feelings towards Sarah get tangled in awkwardness, built-up anger, and jealousy towards a new man in her life. What lies ahead for Sarah and Peter on their journey of discovery and fright? Dive on in and discover a world that even they are still trying to navigate.

What is your favourite cake?

My favorite cake is undoubtedly strawberry with cream cheese frosting!

You can check out Rachel's books on Amazon.

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

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.

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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 4 November 2019

Write What You Want, Be Who You Are

(re-published from Write On! magazine with permission)

Ensconced in Howard Linskey’s ridiculously comfortable sofa, I cast an appraising eye over the stack of DVDs, a pre-release copy of his new book Alice Teal is Missing and of course, the wonderfully stuffed bookcase hinting at delicious home cooking, World War II histories and naturally, crime fiction.

I’ve travelled two hours to meet with crime writer Howard Linskey. A recent Achilles tendon break has left him sporting a leg brace. Quite apt really, as our issue theme is all about what needs to be broken to create good writing. I’m here to find out what boundaries he has broken in his writing career to date. So, with his long-haired and incredibly vocal dachshund, Bonnie, joining in when she feels a bit of support is needed, we start our conversation.

I first met Howard in 2016, the inaugural year of the Pen to Print competition. I was an aspiring author and he was one of the judges. Howard’s generosity was immediately apparent as he freely gave advice on what to do once your book has been written, the intricacies of finding an agent and the importance of hanging on for dear life for that book deal.

Since then we’ve crossed paths a few times; I’ve congratulated him on subsequent Penguin book deals, and he’s agreed to be interviewed for my blog. We’ve also met at a number of Pen to Print events and will, from time to time, swap a Tweet or Facebook message. Along with an affable nature and generosity of spirit, it’s this approachable quality that sets Howard apart. 

Am I even an author?
I steer our conversation towards the obstacles Howard has had to overcome in his writing career. As a young lad from the North East of England, a writing career seemed beyond reach. He blames this on the imposter syndrome which dogged him for a long time before his work was read and applauded by the publishing world. And it’s been a long road... For example, despite securing agent Phil Patterson with his historical novel pitch in the early 2000s, getting a publishing deal proved much more elusive. Eventually, Phil suggested Howard try ghostwriting crime novels for Harlequin and he jumped at the opportunity, which led to him finally being published in 2009. He remembers attending the Theakston Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate with this one book in the bag but still riddled with self-doubt.

Since then Howard’s book, The Drop, was voted as Top 5 Thrillers of the Year by The Times and has been optioned for TV by Harry Potter producer, David Barron. Unsurprisingly, his writing confidence has continued to grow, securing first a three-book then two, two-book deals from Penguin.

Bonnie barks at us from time to time, to remind us to throw her favourite toy – a soft blue whale - and helps to keep me on track with the interview. I could listen to, and be inspired by, Howard’s writing journey all day long but I really want to find out more about his writing habits. We move topics. 

Quality is key
Howard’s first crime novel, Streetwise was penned under the name, Chris Freeman. It was about a Nigerian detective who’d fled his war-torn country to become a cabbie in the Bronx. Harlequin had provided the pre-set topic; one Howard freely admits did not sit in his comfort zone or immediate knowledge base. Despite this, he set to researching everything he possibly could. Even though this wasn’t his story of choice, Howard decided to write the best book he possibly could; his mantra for every subsequent novel.

The first draft of The Drop, book one of his David Blake thriller series, was so highly polished that it was snapped up by independent press, No Exit Press. These days the first draft sent in to his editor might not be quite so polished, but the depth of research remains the same and the quality of writing is still evident. 

“An important thing to bear in mind for writers looking to be picked up,” says Howard, “Even though you may have to change it, it’s crucial you make what you submit as polished as you possibly can. When you’ve built a relationship, the polishing process is a joint one with the editor, but until then you’re on your own.”

So why crime?
Lulled by Howard’s northern accent, Bonnie snoozes on the floor as I ask him why he chose to write crime fiction novels in the first place. His answer is simple; “I wanted to read something that was more film-based, with a grittier underworld.” 

Unencumbered by the rules of writing crime or bogged down by trying to avoid tropes and clichés, he tells me he has continued to write what he wants to write – interesting characters, a good dialogue and conflict for the characters to resolve. 

“A Howard Linskey book is about quality of writing.”

He wants his readers to be certain that they can expect the same workmanship every time they pick up something he has written, no matter what the genre. 

His focus is currently split as he is working on three different projects. He tells me this is proving tough, especially with the highly demanding Bonnie and of course family life with his wife and daughter. Howard feels though, that his somewhat different writing style keeps him on track in terms of his 1000-word daily count. He usually sits down to write after the school run in the week and carves time out on weekends. Avoiding the temptation of social media is also important, as he writes individual scenes rather than sequential prose. Howard begins each book with a pre-determined beginning and ending so that all the clues and foreshadowing can be worked into each mystery as each scene is revealed. As a writer, I was suitably impressed. Howard did confess though, that trying to fit these separate scenes into one cohesive story was an interesting process in itself.

Boxed In or Boxed Out?
Howard has always taken charge of his author identity and writing career. He stopped pursuing the ghostwriting because he didn’t want to be the ‘Nigerian crime guy’. Deciding that three books in the gritty, white-collar, underworld gangster, David Blake series were enough he moved book type again to create a North-East of England crime series, gaining him Penguin as a publisher. To them, of course, he has become that ‘North East crime bloke’. 

Despite his successes, Howard refused to be boxed in. Seventeen years after writing the first draft, Howard went back to his historical fiction novel, Hunting the Hangman, featuring high-ranking German SS official, Reinhard Heydrich. Penguin had first refusal but interestingly enough No Exit Press wanted it and offered him a publishing deal. Hunting the Hangman will also be published in America along with his second WWII novel, Ungentlemanly Warfare. Howard feels that working with multiple publishers allows him to take greater creative risks; meaning he can write what he wants to write. 

Penguin are also revisiting the ‘box’ they assigned to Howard. His latest novel is being published under H. A. Linskey. Howard tells me this is a typical publisher ploy; playing to the supermarkets' love of a debut book and rebranding him in the process. 

Sadly, all conversations must come to an end and while our attempts to get Bonnie up on the sofa for a photo were an abject failure (she posed after we left!), we did have a wonderful conversation. Howard’s single-minded, unshakeable belief in his dream of being an author is something that can inspire us all, it certainly did me!

Connect with Howard on Twitter @HowardLinskey and visit his website for more details about his books. Ungentlemanly Warfare came out in June 2019 and Alice Teal is Missing comes out in November 2019.

Find out more about Pen to Print and Write On! magazine at

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.