Wednesday 29 April 2020

A Slice of Cake With... Ken Goudsward

This week I am delighted to be having a slice of cake with author Ken Goudsward.

Ken writes codes, poetry, science fiction, games, ontographies, and music. He writes in rusty scratches. He may be found in a tree-top, a mountain fountain, a desert shoreline, or submerged in a musty pond.

What kind of stories do you write?

I write books with robots and humans learning to work together to recover from trauma, survive, and help their friends.

Can you describe your writing why?

I get ideas which won’t leave me alone.

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

Here’s the opening section from Symphony of Destruction, Book 1 of the Spindown Saga.

Hannah stared at a small dark spot on the grey wall. Perhaps dark was not really the right word though. It was a bit dark-ish. But certainly not dark. Not dark like the dead space through which she sailed. Not dark like the blackness eating a hole in her soul. Hardly dark at all, really.

Hannah barely noticed anymore. She barely noticed the constant whine that pummeled her eardrums. She barely noticed the glaring red emergency lighting. She barely noticed the dozens of corpses surrounding her, coated in clear spray epoxy. More accurately, it should be said that she barely noticed the clear epoxy, body-shaped shells, nearly empty now, save for what appeared to be a few handfuls of dirt, and, judging by the slight bulges of the shells, some pressurized gases whose identity she could only speculate at, having never had any inkling to study the sciences. Probably carbon dioxide though, she surmised. Wasn’t that the fate of all things? Being gradually overtaken by carbon dioxide? But what did she know?

The passage of time was one thing though that had gone far beyond barely noticing. Hannah was acutely aware that she had in fact ceased to be capable of sensing time in any way. This was natural I suppose, given that days and years had been abandoned along with earth, and given that the computer systems were mostly non-functioning and her access had been denied long long ago, and given that anyone who ever gave a shit about what time it was was also long gone. There was of course the shit itself. And the piss. These had become the most reliable markers for time. But that was a very dubious level indeed. And besides, what did it matter anymore. Time was a meaningless vestige of the past. How ironic. A past with people and lives, and planets, and suns. A past with mothers singing sweet little homemade lullabies to their young daughters. “Little babe, blessed babe, there’s nothing to fear, so sleep my dear.” But there were, she knew now, many things to fear.

Tell us about your latest project

I’m currently writing book 2 of my series The Spindown Saga. Essentially, the series is a long, complex time travel story, but it’s not your typical time machine scenario where you hit a button and voila, you are instantly in another time. It turns out, time travel is not easy and it requires huge investments of time and energy. The series also covers a lot of ground in terms of AI and personal growth as well as the nature of culture, civilization, information, computation, with a little bit of economics and religion thrown in for good measure.

What is your favourite cake?

I like lots of kinds of cake. Chocolate, White, Yellow, Cupcakes, whatever, it’s all good. I really like those Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker cake mixes. To me, the thing that makes or breaks it is the icing. I’m kinda picky about it, and if the icing isn’t right it ruins the cake. Also – ice-cream cake is NOT cake!

You can connect with Ken on the Dimension Fold website, Facebook and Goodreads. All his books are on Amazon

Join me next week when I'm joined by Justin Lee Anderson. 

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 22 April 2020

A Slice of Cake With... Stacie Eirich

This week I am delighted to be having a slice of cake with Stacie Eirich.

Stacie is a writer and mother who reads poetry by moonlight and dreams of traveling beyond the stars. She's published poetry & stories in Scarlet Leaf Review, MUSED, Wee Tales and Ruby Magazine. Author of The Dream Chronicles, a fantasy series for middle-grade readers, she lives north of New Orleans with her family and two feisty furballs - writing, mothering, and dreaming.

What kind of stories do you write?

I write stories of wonder, magic and adventure, stories that allow readers to enter new worlds or imagine our world in a different way. The kind of stories that I loved reading as a child and teen, and still love reading as an adult. 

I also write stories that have characters with strong connections to their family and friends, characters who are real and emotional and flawed. No matter the genre I’m writing (fantasy, science-fiction, romance, etc.) it’s important to me to write strong, relatable characters that readers will want to root for. 

Can you describe your writing why?

I write to make sense of the world and my experiences, their sights and sounds and smells. But I also write to go beyond the world and into my imagination, allowing myself to feel and wonder and dream. 

The stories and poems in my head are what inspire me to connect with others and seek new experiences; they are the reason I get up in the morning, brew a fresh cuppa – and get writing. 

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

“You must prove yourself to me, show me that you are capable of this quest. Find the place where I’ve hidden the stone, the place where it now rests. Within the rock lies hidden a single flower, its song will help you unlock its magical power. Use its melody to pass those who stand before, the key you carry will open the door. You will not have help from the dragons, nor from I, Orion, Warrior and Guardian of the Stone. This you must do on your own.” And in a single breath he raised his great wings into the air, lifted his paws to the sky and disappeared into the darkness.” 

This is a paragraph from Chapter 6 of Dragon Kingdom & The Wishing Stone, the third and final novella in my fantasy series for middle-grade readers, The Dream Chronicles. It’s the chapter where my young characters meet Orion, the Griffin – who is at first rough and intimidating, but ultimately one of the most loyal, kind and awesome characters in the story. Here he speaks in rhyme to give the protagonists a riddle to solve and a quest to fulfil. Though I sometimes struggle with dialogue as a writer, I enjoyed writing this rhyme and, later, richer dialogue as my young protagonists got to know Orion better. 

Tell us about your latest project

I have this little dream of a European vacation, complete with plenty of visits to seaside cafes, bookshops, Shakespearean plays and Italian operettas. The idea of developing my dream holiday into a story began brewing in my bedside notebook last year, and this year I decided to give the story wings. 

Tentatively titled ‘A Highland Holiday’ – the story follows 30-year-old Editor’s Assistant Fiona, as she travels to Scotland in search of a holiday away from her stressful job in NYC, time to pursue her writing – and the Scottish man of her dreams. I’m currently sharing chapters on Wattpad as I write, and love connecting with my readers there! You can find me, Fiona’s story and others there @spacetodream. 

What is your favourite cake?

My Mom’s made-from-scratch, double layer Red Velvet cake is the hands-down winner, always! 

You can connect with Stacie on her website, Facebook, Twitter and on Instagram

Join me next week when I'm joined by Ken Goudsward. 

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

Monday 20 April 2020

Locked Down

We're now in week five of lockdown here in the UK and it's remarkable how adaptive people have become. Yes, you've still got those who refuse to follow government guidelines and ignore social distancing because they're immortal idiots and nothing bad ever happens to them. But, on the whole, people are doing what they've been told. And the curve is being flattened.

Now, the figures we're seeing are the reported deaths in hospital and whilst that is both staggering and frightening, it is also not the whole picture. What of the deaths happening in the community? And believe me, they are happening. Has that curve flattened out? And what's the deal with having a flat curve anyway?

The point of the lockdown was/is to control the number of deaths to a more manageable level whilst the NHS scramble to prepare themselves for a massive overload of patients. Apparently, they are now ready and don't get me wrong, I salute every single NHS staff member for being absolutely incredible but I worry, are they really ready? Coronavirus has not gone. It hasn't decided to visit another country for a while and leave the UK alone. It's still out there. It's still deadly. And it still has a lot more people to kill. And those people will start to die when the lockdown is lifted as it may well be in a couple of weeks time.

Other countries in the EU are cautiously lifting their own restrictions to see what happens and obviously, we will observe and hopefully adapt our own plans accordingly. There is talk of the schools being reopened in May. That feels frighteningly too soon to me. But we are where the government wanted us to be as a result of lockdown - an alleged flattened curve and a prepared NHS. So all that remains is to gradually lift the lockdown and return to your life.

But what will this new normal be like? It cannot go back to business as usual despite the elastic adaptivity of the human race. Should everyone continue to walk around with face masks on as a precaution? And what about social distancing? I've read that keeping yourself apart from others should be the new method of social interaction going forward. Gone is the handshake or the platonic air kiss greeting. Instead, we will stand a respectful distance away and incline our heads or bow. Maybe wearing gloves to interact with others will become standard or the continual use of hand sanitisers an acceptable business meeting routine.

The incredible effectiveness of working from home has got to raise questions on whether the polluting commute and the brain-numbing office-based 9-5 is really the best option for everyone. I truly hope that businesses become more flexible on where people work especially since the entire country has proven they can get the job done. Of course, there are jobs you cannot perform from home and I am by no means suggesting that people should remain locked inside their houses. I just wonder whether a new degree of flexibility will emerge.

I think about my high street, similar to so many of your own, and wonder which shops will still be there. Will that wonderful indie coffee shop still serve its delicious vegan mochas and immense vegan chocolate cake slices? What about the charity shops - with their older generation of volunteers, how will they be affected? Will they continue to take donations? Will the library be flooded with people desperate for new reading material or will it remain empty and barren as people can't bring themselves to leave the house. Did local business get the help they needed on their rent or mortgages? Were all the staff successfully furloughed? I hope everyone has a job to go back to.

There have been many dire warnings of the economic fallout once lockdown lifts so I guess we have to continue to observe and wonder who will rise and who will fall. Now, more than ever is the time to go local and support the little guy.

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 15 April 2020

A Slice of Cake With... Lawrence Oliver

This week I am delighted to be having a slice of cake with Lawrence Oliver.

Lawrence N. Oliver struggled in school. He has dyslexia and he hated reading, especially aloud. So, his father bought him a copy of The Foundation and The Hobbit. He can’t remember which was first but he fell in love with the genres. He'd always had a vivid imagination and a daydreamer’s attention span, they'd have called it ADD were he in school today. Even now he catches himself staring out of the window thinking about his characters, their misadventures and the other worlds they inhabit. 

As he grew up it was life, responsibilities and procrastination that had kept him from ever putting any of his daydreams down on paper.

One day he found himself home alone with a few days off work. He was reading a book, sitting by the window in his overstuffed cliché suburban recliner. It was just good ole' space opera, high adventure, the good guy is always good and always right in the end kind of stuff. Nothing wrong with that but he kept finding himself drifting from the book, looking out the window thinking of a different story. One that was a little more in keeping with the accounts of conflict he’d grown up listening to. What he knew and had read about points of view and good people making bad decisions in impossible situations where no matter what you did it could end up wrong and people could die. But if you didn't do something you and your fellow soldiers would be the casualties. Things aren't black and white, even the good guys screw shit up and sometimes the good guys aren't really the good guys at all, again depending on your point of view. 

So he put down the book he was reading and he started writing.

What kind of stories do you write?

Futuristic, action/ adventure that takes place on other worlds and the dark expanses of space in between them. Gray areas, Flawed characters and humor are things I like all of my stories to have. 

Can you describe your writing why?

I’ve always had an overactive imagination, even to the point of distraction. I was always staring up at the clouds or out of a window when I should have been paying attention. Stories running through my head of characters and places I’ll never see. Now I try to focus my imagination and commit the stories and characters to the page. I want people to read my work and say “wow, that was good. I want more.” I love building worlds and telling stories. That and I’d like to get to a point where I can do what I love for a living some day or at least supplement my income significantly.

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

From The Last Marines my space opera novel.

“Where to?” the pilot asked grudgingly.
“The hell we are. They’ll shoot us down.”
“No, they won’t, I’m an emissary,” Corbin said with a grin, motioning toward the cockpit with the muzzle of the pistol.
The pounding persisted outside the hatch. Damn. He hated to make Hammer’s day any worse than it already was; she seemed alright. Corbin kept a close eye on the pilot as he took the copilot’s
seat for himself.
“That hatch gets opened from up here, it won’t be good for you either.”
“I don’t give a damn. Emissary or whatever, what makes you think they won’t blast our asses out of the sky?”
The shuttle slowly lurched up off the pad, but it wasn’t more than three feet up when Hammer stepped in front of the cockpit. Her blaster leveled at Corbin’s head. He knew she wouldn’t fire.
Either because they both knew the shuttle was armored, or because she knew he wasn’t worth anything to the alliance dead.

Instead, she shifted her aim to the pilot’s head and fired two bolts.
“What the hell!?” The pilot ducked down as far as she could in her seat. “You said they wouldn’t shoot. She just to tried to burn me out.”
“She knows it’s armored. I think she was sending a message,” Corbin said uncertainly.
“Really aho, what made you think that? Fucking message . . . What message? ‘We shoot hostages!’ What the hell?”
“I think the gloves just came off. All you need to know is that they won’t really shoot us down.”
“Oh, okay. Well if you say so, I should just take your word for it. You hijacking me being such a great character reference and all.”

Tell us about your latest project

Short stories. A fellow writer, blogger and publisher I know encouraged me to try them out as a way of promoting my major work. I’d never written a short story before, ever. I didn’t think it would be for me, hell even my grocery lists run onto the back of the page sometimes. But I gave it a shot and now I’m hooked. 

From the Ashes will be the third short story I’ve had published since I started writing shorts about eight months ago. It’s a post-apocalyptic anthology available on Amazon. My contribution is The Two Waters. Climate change didn’t just melt the ice it caused thousands of undersea volcanos to erupt over decades raising the sea floor and truly flooding the world. Pockets of humanity survive on floating mega cities and walled mountain top city states. But there are threats greater than the people know, creatures that would have this world to themselves and enslave or slaughter what is left of humankind. 

What is your favourite cake?

White cake with white frosting eaten with Blue Bell vanilla ice cream.

A classic for sure! You can keep in touch with Lawrence at his website, check out his books on Amazon and follow him on Facebook.

Join me next week when I'm joined by Stacie Eirich. 

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 14 April 2020

Tuesday Poem - Crisps

I love crisps
I love the crunch and the munch
I love the rustle of the packet
and that salty nomnomnom

Me and crisps go way back
Back when they used to come with a little salt pack
Back when cheese & onion used to be green
and salt & vinegar used to be blue

These days there are so many flavours
In can be hard to choose what to munch
And now that I'm dairy-free
I have to read alllllllll the ingredients

A crisp sandwich is still a fun guilty pleasure
And dipping crisps in food or with pate
They go with every filling
Perfect for every snack occasion

I just try not to note the fat content
Especially in the share bag I didn't share
Or the tube of Pringles I hid behind the microwave
until the kids had gone to bed

Crisps can be shared
But they're more likely to make you mean
As you hold the packet possessively
And lick your fingers after each dip

Yeah me and crisps are good mates
We see each other nearly every day
I just can't seem to leave them alone
Maybe tomorrow I'll...

... ooooh is that a new flavour?

Image by Daniel Reche from Pixabay
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 13 April 2020

Head in the Virtual Cloud

Morning dawns. The streets are quiet, the roads empty. There are no bustling commuters setting out for work. Instead, they are brewing coffee in their dressing-gowns and choosing which end of the sofa to sit on as they spend another day working from home. We are truly working with our heads in The Cloud. And thank goodness for the wonders of modern technology, with remote connection to networks, allowing virtual meetings to continue, workflows to be uninterrupted (with possibly a little too much dedication – I, too, am guilty of sending work emails close to midnight).

When we think of ‘head in the clouds’ we think of the perpetual dreamer, the person who has the fantastical idea but often can’t translate that blue-sky thinking into concrete action. But this imaginative idea of self cannot be how we view our heads any more. Now, more than ever, it can be difficult to separate reality from pixels as we depend increasingly on a virtual reality. The Cloud that we’re currently firmly stuck in is an inter-connected network for work, family and friends. It is an immense support framework that, quite frankly, we would be utterly lost without. If you have a kid under the age of eighteen, I can guarantee you’ve weathered the no-you-cannot-have-screen-time tantrum and if you don’t, then trust me, it’s horrific.

If we consider the typical family for a moment, both parents are now praising their high-speed broadband as they login and try to get through their daily work. Older children sigh at how easily their school has been able to upload lessons for completion, whilst younger kids lean on parental indulgence in touchscreens and educational games online. It was only a few short months ago that screen-addiction, hours of productivity lost to swiping ‘next’ and the rise in game-rage were top news stories. What will the fallout be from allowing excessive digital and virtual consumption in our families? Or will we see a resurgence to the family dinner table, as people crave that companionship and interaction, that desire to have a real conversation and spend some quality family time together?

The energy that we would usually funnel into our work and leisure time has now fired us up to find unique and inspiring solutions for our connectivity problems. Apps like Zoom, Houseparty and Skype have been around for a while but perhaps not all of us were aware of them. In the three weeks since everything shut down, I’ve interviewed a fellow author on Zoom, been recording daily videos for my YouTube channel, I’ve been live on Facebook with my kids as we ventured outside for our allotted exercise and Skype’d my mum. I’ve met with my book club on Google Hangouts. We usually meet in central London and I haven’t been able to make a meeting for months, so I was doubly thrilled to ‘see’ everyone. I’m having weekly team meetings with my fellow Write On! Editors through Microsoft Teams. At first, I didn’t turn on my video feed, feeling too self-conscious, but then I realised how much I appreciated seeing the faces of my colleagues and so now I click ‘video on’ with wild abandon.

I have set up family groups for everyone on WhatsApp. Necessary, as  I have a complicated multiple step-parent on both sides configuration with half-siblings and step-siblings, so having just one group was never going to work. I think this is the most connected we’ve ever been. I haven’t seen my brothers for about eighteen months and next week we’ll be Zooming. I can’t wait!

Another thing I’ve noticed happening, is how everyone is taking full advantage of the extra time they have on their hands. Well, everyone apart from me; my workload seems to have trebled, but I don’t mind. I’ve seen posts from friends and family colouring, styling and cutting their own hair, making complicated recipes and baking their own bread, building complex Lego creations and digging out those dusty board games and puzzles. I myself have begun to learn French with my son, completing daily exercises. The two of us have also been learning how to code and draw shapes on the computer. It’s a small thing, but it’s something I never seemed to have the time for before. Spending those precious moments with him are definitely a huge plus for me during lockdown.

In fact, home-schooling has given me a much-needed distraction from the live news feed on the BBC, the disturbing death toll counter and the danger my keyworker husband faces every time he goes to work. This reliance on virtual support networks seems to me to be a positive result to a frightening situation we’ve found ourselves in, and maybe also a dry run for the next deadly virus that is sure to come our way.

Which brings me on to thinking about what happens next? Will my local café, butchers, greengrocers and bookshop be able to open their doors when the lockdown lifts? Or will their customers have adjusted to virtual life and online shopping without a backwards glance? And what about all the people working from home, proving that they can perform efficiently without being in an office? Should they be made to return to a physical workspace and re-clog the environment with their poisonous commute? Will my book club decide that a virtual meet-up is just easier all round and we’ll never again meet for wine and literature in a London pub? If I’m honest, I’m conflicted myself as to whether I think we should return to our old ‘normal’ or not.

Instead, I cling to the faint hope that the ruling powers in our global economy will see the benefits of how work, shopping and connectivity has changed. That perhaps once people see the positive impact on the planet the reduction in industrial, air and travel pollution has had, they will really think hard on whether we just all go back to the way it was. We must remember what we achieve while our heads are in The Cloud; how we are allowing our creativity and imagination to grow without limits and then bring those experiences with us into the new future we are embarking upon.

Claire is a Pen to Print Alumnus, Deputy Editor at Write On! magazine and an award-winning author. Visit her website for more information about Claire and her books.

Wednesday 8 April 2020

A Slice of Cake With... JT Morse

This week I am delighted to be having a slice of cake with JT Morse.

JT Morse is an award-winning, multi-genre writer/poet with a focus on character-driven narratives and hybrid works. She likes to dig deep, find magic in the mundane, and pry open doors with her wordsmithing skills. Morse’s work has been published by Balance of Seven Press, Texas Living magazine, Paragraph Planet, Central Coast Poetry Show, Haiku Journal, Nightmare Press, and Art Houston Magazine. She’s a facilitator/instructor at Writespace Houston and is frequently a featured panelist/presenter at literary festivals and cons across the U.S. Most of Morse’s work is penned from her garden balcony at her mystical ranch in the Piney Woods of Texas, where she lives with her husband, daughter, and twenty-three spoiled-rotten rescue animals. Her website is perpetually in a state of flux, but you may be able to find out more about her at if you’re lucky. 

What kind of stories do you write?

Well, this is right up my wordsmithing alley; I’m an incredibly multi-genre writer and the novel I’m currently working on happens to be a cross-genre hybrid! Note: For me, ‘book’ is singular – most of my published works (fiction, nonfiction, poetry) have been pubbed in anthologies, print magazines, e-zines, and lit journals. I’m just now embarking on my first real book-length project.

Three Killers, Three Wives is a character-driven, epistolary novel about three diverse women who discover their spouses are serial killers. And, I think it’s going to be trad pubbed and series worthy. So, stay tuned. 

Can you describe your writing why?

Iunctus is my ‘why’ for everything I do in life, including writing. I believe this so strongly that I have the word tattooed on my left, inner forearm. Note: For those that don’t love Latin as much as I do, Iuntcus means to connect or adjoin. 

I write to connect with myself, the magic of the universe, the principles of creation, the insanity that is my wild imagination, and, of course, you—readers, fellow writers, and all of the other people we share our beautiful planet with.   

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

In Three Killers, Three Wives, one of the women is a complete hoot, and I’ve loved spending time with her. Here’s a bit from one of Lanie’s diary entries toward the end of the book. 

From the diary of Lanie Beally Smith on June 12th, 1945:
 “Lordy, Jesus in Heaven! I don’t know where to begin. Everything has gone sideways and topsy-turvy today. John has kidnapped me. Actually kidnapped me. I’m being held hostage in my own bedroom by my own husband, who, as it turns out, is a serial killer. That’s not a sentence I ever envisioned writing, even in my wildest nightmares. And yet, here we are. Well, here I am.”

Love her! She’s goofy, brazen, naïve, and a lot of fun to spend time with. I’m going to miss being the purveyor of her story. 

Tell us about your latest project

Which one?!? Yeah, I’m that kind of crazy, prolific, always-has-fifteen-irons-in-the-fire kind of writer. I do have a nonfiction article coming out in Art Houston magazine on March 1st that I’m really proud of and would love to promote. 

An artist-philosopher from Bolivia—now living in Houston, TX—granted me an in-home interview, and I was blown away. This man provided so much brilliant fodder to write about that I might consider offering to pen his biography—for free. (Hear that, Fernando?) 

The article opens with: As Fernando Casas leads me into what would be utilized as a walk-in closet in most homes, I am overwhelmed by the obscene number of paintings stored and stashed in this oil-scented oasis. The furniture-barren room is stuffed to the proverbial gills with canvases, and I’m thrilled. Since most of the pieces are masked with butcher paper drapes, I fidget and salivate like a child entering a secret garden as Casas, my gracious host, gingerly unveils half-a-score of them for me. 

Should you want to read the rest of this article or others I’ve written for this stunning arts magazine (six thus far), visit  

What is your favourite cake?

Cake. Yum. Boston Cream Pie is, and has been since I was a kid, my uber favorite. Yes, its name suggests pie, but in fact, it’s two hunks of vanilla cake with yellow custard slathered between them and a heavy coating of chocolate icing over the whole luscious concoction. It’s amazing! And, it’s cake—no matter what its misleading nom de plume suggests. I promise. 

Do they have this dessert in England? They should! If not, come to Texas, and I’ll make you one. 

I'm taking that as an invitation and if I ever make it to Texas, I'm coming for pie! You can keep in touch with JT Morse across her social media - Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Join me next week when I'm joined by Lawrence Oliver. 

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

Monday 6 April 2020

Book Reviews March 2020

Esio Trot by Roald Dahl - 5 stars
I just finished reading this to my kids at bedtime and we enjoyed reading the magic tortoise words lol.

A Rare Book of Cunning Device by Ben Aaronovitch - 3 stars

Sweethearts of Ilford Lane by Farzana Hakim - 5 stars
Recap: Samina and Hassan, childhood sweethearts when they shouldn't have been, ripped apart by grief and destroyed by family.

Review: Oh. My. Goodness! I read this book in a day because I couldn't put it down. I was equally horrified and transfixed by the abuse Samina endured, endeared by and repulsed at the family love and dynamics. The last part of the book had me sobbing my heart out. Fabulous debut novel.

The Vidents by J.McClean - 5 stars
Recap: Tag starts seeing shadows and they're not happy about it.

Review: An ordinary teenager's life gets turned upside down when he becomes tuned into the supernatural world around him. There's so much life in this book as different characters deal with their grief and teenagers deal with love, loss, school life, family life, bullying and pain in the neck teachers. It fits firmly into it's YA fantasy genre and has an interesting cast of characters. I read the whole thing in one sitting and at times my heart was thumping in my chest! Let's hope McLean returns to the world of the vidents!

The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi - 3 stars
Recap: the old emperox has died, there's unrest on End and something's up with the Flow.

Review: it took me a while to get into this book because I didn't really connect with any of the characters and so wasn't that invested in finding out what happened to them. I did enjoy the scientific mix-up and the resulting fallout.

Stone of the Sea by Jeanette O'Hagan - 4 stars 
** spoiler alert ** Recap: Siblings Delvina and Retza have to make difficult choices in order to try and save their people.

Review: Obviously with book three we are well acquainted with our favourite characters and the unrequited love story is a nice touch. It was inevitable that the twins would separate eventually but they didn't seem to get very far with their respective quests/jobs. This does feel a little bit like a filler book story-wise as not much advances but we do learn more about the other races in this fantasy realm.

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 1 April 2020

A Slice of Cake With... Marvin Neu

This week I am delighted to be having a slice of cake with author Marvin Neu.

M.D. Neu is an award-winning Gay fiction writer with a love for writing and travel. Living in the heart of Silicon Valley (San Jose, California) and growing up around technology, he’s always been fascinated with what could be. Specifically drawn to sci-fi and paranormal television and novels, M.D. Neu was inspired by the great Gene Roddenberry, George Lucas, Stephen King, Alice Walker, Alfred Hitchcock, Harvey Fierstein, Anne Rice, and Kim Stanley Robinson. An odd combination, but one that has influenced his writing.

Growing up in an accepting family as a gay man, he always wondered why there were never stories reflecting who he was. Constantly surrounded by characters that only reflected heterosexual society, M.D. Neu decided he wanted to change that. So, he took to writing, wanting to tell good stories that reflected our diverse world.

When M.D. Neu isn’t writing, he works for a nonprofit and travels with his biggest supporter and his harshest critic, Eric, his husband of nineteen plus years.

What kind of stories do you write?

When it comes to the books I write, I try to write novels that take the readers to new places, I write books that deal with aliens coming to our world “today” and us as a human culture having to learn to work and live in this new reality. How do we relate to an alien species when we can’t get along with each other?

I also enjoy writing stories that can be classified as ‘cosy vampire stories’ I write these stories based in a believable reality and not so much based in gore, legends, and sex. Even though there is quite a bit dealing with mythology my vampires aren’t mindless feeding machines in human skin, and they certainly aren’t the damned creatures of the night that we have all come to expect.

Another area I explore in my writing is the world of ‘what ifs’. What if Dragons were real, and they helped fight off deadly curses? What happens to a group of friends after their hometown is no more? What happens if an Angel of Death loses his wings and has to live as a human? What if there is a lost continent off the Pacific Ocean, hiding under the sea where no one can find it?

These are the books I enjoy writing, and that I hope people appreciate reading.

Can you describe your writing why?

For me, I want to write what my teenage self would have wanted to read. I want to write about epic adventures that take me out of our world and put me down in a new world to explore. I also find myself remembering how I craved for the works that spoke of the world I wanted to see. What this means, to me and my writing, is I endeavour to be as inclusive in my writing as possible. I focus all my works on the queer community, showing that queer as not only normal and every day but that queer is cross-cultural, cross economics, and cross-gender. 

I believe representation is everything. The more we shine a light on the queer world the less scary it becomes for others. My hope is, through my works readers will see more and more of us as we truly are, we’re just like them. Nothing more and nothing less. I believe we are one people and what we do or don’t do in our private lives really doesn’t affect anyone but ourselves and the people we chose to be around. So, everything I write reflects that philosophy.

With all my novels and short stories, I could've written the main characters as ostensibly straight. However, how many times have we heard that perspective? Wouldn't it be a more interesting if we went against expectations showing more diversity in our writing and in what we read. 

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

The section I would like to share today is from The Calling.  It’s a moment near the beginning of the book where my main character Duncan is having a conversation with Juliet about the idea of who and what God may have created. For me, I love the interplay and this was one of the first moments I envisioned between Duncan and Juliet:

“Are you a religious man?”
“I believe in God,” I replied with complete certainty. I didn’t follow any one faith, well not since my mother passed away. “I was raised Catholic.”
“You believe God created Heaven and the Earth and even Hell.” Juliet put her glass down on the coffee table. “He created man and the angels, including the devil and demons. So, wouldn’t it be possible that he created other creatures as well?” She paused, taking several breaths. “As you said, this is a large world. Is there no room for the likes of those creatures?”

Tell us about your latest project

My most recent novel is T.A.D.-The Angel of Death

Tad loves bouncing around in time and watching humanity grow and change. He loves humanity and helping when he can. However, his job isn’t conducive to helping people.  He’s an Angel of Death.

Doug is fun-loving and a drama queen.  Despite his witty exterior, he has a dark history and is prone to self-destruction. He’s also an amazing drag queen and hairstylist with big dreams.

When Tad pushes the boundaries of his duties too far, his angel wings are stripped away from him, and he is sent to New York City to live as a human. Lost and alone he ends up meeting Doug, and the two start a friendship that will shape them both and last a lifetime.  But nothing is simple when you’re dealing with a former Angel of Death and a Drag Queen. Could these two cause the fabric of our world to collapse or will they manage to keep the future as it should?


I have three additional projects right now. First, I’m wrapping up the sequel to The Calling, which I’m hoping to send off to my publisher by the beginning of February. Second, I’ve finished book three in my award-winning Sci-Fi series A New World, which I’m hoping to get out either by the end of 2020 or beginning of 2021.  Lastly, I have my newest novel I’m writing, it’s all about a lost continent found in the Pacific Ocean. It involves a former porn start, a scientist, and the Prince of this long-lost continent. It’s set a few years in the future. I’ve really enjoyed writing this story, the characters are fun and I hope people enjoy the novel when it comes out. There is a long way to go before this new novel is released so people can subscribe to my website, or follow me on Social Media for updates not only on this story but all my works.

What is your favourite cake?

I love double chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting.

Keep up to date with Marvin's books on his website. Follow him on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Check out what Marvin is reading on Goodreads

Join me next week when I'm joined by JT Morse. 

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