Wednesday 29 July 2020

A Slice of Cake with... Simon Woodward

This week I am delighted to be having a slice of cake with author Simon Woodward.

Though having an interest in writing at secondary school and dabbling a bit whilst he was working in London, it wasn’t until 2004 when Simon Woodward’s interest really took off when he decided to write a book for his daughters as a Christmas present.

From there everything escalated; finishing the book, sending it to a professional editing agency, being told it needed a lot of re-work (the story was cool but the way it was conveyed was crap), taking beginning and advanced creative writing courses through Southend’s Adult education college, re-writing the book, getting an agent, having the book published, becoming involved in Southend Book Fair, starting a writing group with course members, publishing 11 anthologies of short stories and verse with Writers Anonymous writing group, completing 3 screenwriting courses and being given the opportunity to represent the Written Word as part of Southend-on-Sea Arts Council (SOSAC) in 2010. Not much has happened except, handing the reins of the book fair over to SOSAC, resigning as a SOSAC member, and finally resigning from Writers Anonymous in 2015, to leave him time to create more written works and especially focus on his novels. With a rewrite of his first kids’ fantasy fiction completed and sent to a publisher, he is now concentrating on completing his second horror novel steeped in the paranormal, whilst enrolled in James Patterson’s masterclass on creative writing.

What kind of stories do you write?

I write in 2 different genres. One is for young adults, a target audience I call the Harry Potter audience, i.e. 7-77 and beyond. These stories’ protagonists are superheroes, not in the usual connotation of the meaning, but more like how they try to achieve things heroically, but most often fail, but still succeed in their endeavours. Dave, the primary protagonist believes he’s a real superhero, but the nearest he gets is the fact he has bottomless pockets, which is amazing for a feather, and his “side-kick”, Tariq, a most excellent engineer, for a tortoise, but definitely not the chef he believes he is – in fact, both are delusional, to one extent or another.

The other genre is macabre and gore-filled, it always includes overlaps from different dimensions and the impact on those of us in this dimension. Sometimes the characters are aware of the things beyond our normal, sometimes they are not. On the periphery, the police get involved in the situations presented, situations that are far from their comfort zones. Other times there are no police, but most stories involve a puzzle that needs to be solved.

Can you describe your writing why?

I got motivated into writing as something for my daughters after a messy divorce rendered my contact impossible. They loved books and I knew they would not be stopped from receiving Christmas presents, so I decided to write them a book for their Christmas present. That's how I started writing and the process of creating universes from the imagination is the why – it’s amazing to experience.

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

I don’t have a book I enjoyed writing the most because I make sure I only write stories I enjoy. I believe the reader can tell when one’s written something “by force”, i.e. have had to write.

One of the most enjoyable paragraphs I’ve ever written is actually the blurb for the 4th book in the young adult Brave Dave series A Space Oddity, it goes;

Using some castoff D.O.N.T matter and securing the help of Clive, a Worm Captain, our heroes unknowingly aid a tap-like alien with his goal to take over the Earth.

Three intrepid travellers use the TarCapoPodyDontDis-o-Sule, something Tariq just happened to knock up, to travel to the alien’s home planet – Ahbloo.

Confusion ensues, food is made. Can Tariq save the day? Or does Dave do “the usual”? Everything is up for grabs; even the possibility of peace.

Tell us about your latest project

It’s a long way from finished but its working title is Parole. The premise of the story is the over-crowding of prisons and a new incoming government that got voted in for its ”tough on crime” message. The country does not have a lot of spare money, so the civil service is charged with finding “innovative” measures to reduce the prison population, and senior staff come up with a novel plan. But not so novel that it hadn’t been tried by the USA in the 1920s and in the 1950s by the UK itself. However, now the technologies used back then, have been improved immeasurably there is one civil servant, charged with implementing the new government’s prison population reduction policy, who’s pushed to looking at the strategy used in the past.

What is your favourite cake?

Mr Kipling’s Bakewell Tarts, although these are like Kryptonite to me, due to my type II diabetes! But not as bad as a pint of good cider.

A fine choice Simon, my favourite when I was pregnant with my little girl lol. You can find out more about Simon and his books on his website -, follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

Join me next week when C.H. Clepitt returns!

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 out more about her books on her website Join the discussion in her Facebook group Buss's Book Stop.

Tuesday 28 July 2020

Tuesday Poem - Locked Down

A murmur in the concrete jungle
Of an invisible killer on the loose

Uncertainty fell like a soft cloud
And we dithered
not knowing
where to go

A seed of fear planted deep within
Watered by daily news
and climbing death rates

Not safe to go outside

To work
To live
To breathe

Encased within our unyielding bubbles
Missing each other in the dark
Praying for a light to rise

We stepped outside blinking at the tempered freedom
Limbs flexing, they’ve forgotten how to fly

Worker bees still buzzing at home
runners still pounding streets
but families out walking
Hyper-aware of every step and
every person they meet out
on the not so empty street

Someone coughs

There’s an instant retreat
Facemasks and anti-bac spray our desperate armour
against this invisible killer
who locked us all down

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

Monday 27 July 2020

Tales From the Pirate's Cove

It's that time again - a new book from Inklings Press! Tales from the Pirate's Cove is an anthology of short stories all about pirates. All kinds of pirates - charting courses across sea, space and even time.

The press kit on the Inklings Press website is available for anyone to use - reviewers, bloggers, friends and soon-to-be friends. We love seeing reviews, whether you love the book or whether you don't. We value your opinion regardless of whether it's a five-star or a one-star. The graphics in the press kit are free for you to use wherever you please - blog, social media, and so on.

If you want to request an ARC of Tales from the Pirate's Cove email or

The book is currently on eBook pre-order at Amazon - - release date is 14th August and paperback will be available from then. 

The Blurb
Set sail for adventure!

Join us in the company of pirates in this treasure trove of stories from a crew of talented authors.

Expect the unexpected - with tales stretching from the high seas to high orbit, from swashbucklers to space corsairs. Navigate these pages to find monsters, time travelers, buccaneers, ghosts and more.

Twelve stories. Twelve authors. Twelve worlds to explore.

Come, me hearties, there are new horizons to discover.

I am very excited about this anthology because my short story The Last Pirate is included and it has a very cool graphic:

All the short story titles, images and author bios can be found on the official press release from Inklings Press - click here to take a look.

I look forward to hearing what you think of the newest Inklings Press anthology and, of course, my short story The Last Pirate.

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

Wednesday 22 July 2020

An Extra Slice of Cake With... E.M. Swift-Hook

This week I am delighted to welcome author E.M. Swift-Hook back to my blog for an extra slice!

In the words that Robert Heinlein put so evocatively into the mouth of Lazarus Long: 'Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards.' Having tried a number of different careers, before settling in the North-East of England with family, three dogs, cats and a small flock of rescued chickens, E.M. Swift-Hook now spends a lot of time in private and has very clean hands.

Describe the types of books you love to read.

I enjoy a broad range of reading. Although I write mostly spec. fic, I find that reading other genres is a very healthy way of broadening my perspective. A good book, for me, is one that has at least one central character who I find feels like a real person, is well written and has a plot that I can’t predict. The genre comes second to those requirements. 

Which authors inspire you to write?

Every book I read inspires me to write. But the authors that I can point to as having the most impact on me as a writer would be Dorothy Dunnett, Adam Hall and Mary Stewart.

Since we last had a slice of cake, what have you been working on? 

I am really excited that I have just published the latest in my dark space opera Fortune’s Fools series.  Not To Be is both the middle volume of the Iconoclast Trilogy and the penultimate book in the entire series. This has been the main focus of my writing for most of the last two years so it is great to have it finally out in the world.

I am also branching out into a new genre for me, LitRPG. This was prompted by my wanting to support an anthology of short stories in that genre which is being published to support an Australian wildlife charity to help with care for animals following the terrible fires there. As a player of MMORPGS myself, it was a really interesting experience to write in the genre – and the story is a humorous take on the theme.

I have also brought out more novellas and an omnibus collection in the Dai and Julia series with my co-author Jane Jago. 

What is your next project? 

I am working on the final volume of Fortune’s Fools which is called A Necessary End and aim to have it finished and published before the end of the year. That might be an over-ambitious target, but I am trying for it.

Have you recently tried any new cake? What was the last cake you baked?

I don’t bake – and do jam-filled doughnuts count as cake?

I'll weigh in on this one and confirm that doughnuts can count as cake lol. You can connect with E.M. Swift-Hook at the following places:

Join me next week when I interview Simon Woodward. 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 21 July 2020

Write On! Magazine - Issue 5 OUT NOW

An exclusive interview with Sunday Times bestselling author Jane Corry sits at the heart of an extraordinary COVID-19 edition of Write On! 5. However, Jane’s is just one of the voices that has contributed experience, strength and hope to the issue. This Special Edition (see it here)  brings together the diverse voices that have created such power through Write On! Extra into a beautifully designed, digital magazine.

Write On! Extra, the online daily digest, was launched in early April. During lockdown, it allowed writers from the local community to share experiences which encouraged other writers to reciprocate with their own. The result: positive engagement with thousands of creatives and writers – many sharing their response to the pandemic in a variety of forms. These included: spoken word, prose, flash fiction, illustrations, cartoons, essays and poetry. It has put Barking and Dagenham at the heart of words and stories flying in from across the UK and 93 countries around the world!

From Sunday 19th to Wednesday 28th July we will be showcasing Write On! Digital Issue 5 by featuring pages from this edition. Then, through the summer and into the autumn, Write On! Extra will continue to explore our evolving ‘new normal’. The new Write On! Extra season officially starts on Wednesday 29th July. The stories and ideas collated will feed into Write On! Issue 6. Themed A Kaleidoscope Of Colours, we explore the shifting landscape we are living through at the moment, looking at how we are adapting to the ever-changing, ever-swirling patterns of life. Government restrictions permitting, we are planning a printed 32-page bumper issue 6 in September, to include issue 5.

Since Write On! Extra launched, thousands of visitors have engaged with our content – so you can be sure your writing and ideas will be read and treasured. We also welcome partnership discussions with organisations wishing to contribute, so the voices of their beneficiaries and teams can be heard.

London Borough of Barking & Dagenham Cabinet Member for Community, Leadership and Engagement Cllr Saima Ashraf shares the following statement of support:

“As Chair of the Pen to Print Advisory Board, it has been an honour to contribute to the work of the programme. BAME and LGBTQ+ writers, and writers from working-class backgrounds, have long been underrepresented in the publishing industry. We established Pen to Print in 2014 to address this; nurturing our local writing talent as a way for the voices of residents in Barking and Dagenham to be heard.”

How To Get Involved:
If you have something to say or share, please do get in touch at For further details around Write On! Extra and also submission guidelines, please see the Editor’s Introduction.

For online advertising and partnership opportunities, please see our Media Pack.

Wednesday 15 July 2020

A Slice of Cake With... Noelle Nichols

This week I am delighted to be having a slice of cake with Noelle Nichols.

Noelle is a writer, a creator and most of all a dreamer. She writes fantasy. Mostly inspired by Japan, but she's also written a few short stories that only have minor magical elements. Noelle focuses a lot on the internal struggle of characters, as well as questions that don’t really have answers to. Like the morality of killing, how we grow and help one another as a people, and what it takes to become a strong person. (What does strong even mean?)

Noelle is also pretty big on philosophy and thinking about the deeper aspects of the world. By nature, she loves trying new things. Noelle enjoys playing with words and figuring out what she believes in the epic fantasy scope. She's always said that her work is how she translates the world. Which Noelle feels is at the heart of herself as an author. Life is an adventure.

A Colorado native, Noelle lives in the mountains with her artist husband, three border collies and two cats. She spends most of her time creating things and learning about cultures and philosophy.

What kind of stories do you write?

I write stories where heroic characters put themselves between the enemy and the people they wish to protect. Their duty is to stay true to themselves and their people in order to restore peace back to their world.

Can you describe your writing why?

To me writing is a way to explore how things work in the real world. It’s a way to make sense of life and to figure out what would happen if a character did a thing or if a certain ideal was compromised. Would the character be willing to sacrifice A to get B? It’s a way for me to sort through the deeper thoughts of the world in a fun way, and it allows me to create worlds and characters that reflect what I wish the world and myself to be. 

Without writing the world seems…empty. I feel most alive when I’m bringing characters and scenes to life.

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

This is a small portion of a favorite scene from the first book in my series, Shadow’s Hand
It’s short to attempt to cut out most of the spoilers. :) 

I brought one knee up and rested my elbow, sinking my chin into the folds of my cloak. Finae sketched without care or worry. Her judgement of Hitori was simplistic and absolute, with no room for error. Bad people deserved death—only good people were allowed to live—but life was more complicated than that.

I watched the flames with unfocused eyes, analyzing the play of light and dark across the cold stone.
The False Shadows killed. 

Their transgression: taking innocent lives. However, more than a handful of them had been forced into being False Shadows and killing to protect those they loved. Were they to be charged with the same justice as Hitori? With Finae’s absolute judgement, some would say yes. Others, no. It mattered how a person executed their own personal judgement. When did we make exceptions to the rule of life and death?

Tell us about your latest project

The last project I finished was a short story, Guiding Light, that is set before my main series, The Shadow’s Creed Saga. It’s a piece that explores the holiday season with my main cast of characters and gives them a break from the twists and heartache of the main series. With…more heartbreak. LOL. No seriously, it’s a really nice little piece that has all the feels. There’s some fun foreshadowing about what was in the past of some characters as well as a great lead in to the main series with Kilo and his reason for pursuing being a Shadow.

What is your favourite cake?

Ice cream cake! Or homemade chocolate cake because let’s be honest, we bake to eat the batter.

You can connect with Noelle at her website -

Join me next week when E.M. Swift-Hook returns!

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 out more about her books on her website Join the discussion in her Facebook group Buss's Book Stop.

Tuesday 14 July 2020

Tuesday Poem - Going Out

Going to the shops is a stressful job
Trying to stay clear of the general mob
Some wearing mask, some definitely not
Some keeping distant, some in your spot
The kids do pretty well
Stay close for a spell
Manage to people dodge a bit
Know not to share coughs and spit
Their new habit is washing their hands
When they get home, it's grand
They even use the in-store hand gel
Rubbing it over their hands so well
Kids adapt so quickly completely unphased
They constantly surprise me, constantly amaze
It's me that ends up like a piece of jelly
Relieved to be home, sit down, watch telly
Will it get better, will it get worse
Will I stop going out with my purse
Is internet shopping the future for me
Because I have this problem you see
I can't wear a face mask without stress
Can't breathe, can't cope, I'll confess
They cause me such panic attacks
There'll be no more nipping out for snacks
A housewife, stay at home mum
Inside my bubble, sat on my bum
Working, living, existing indoors
Pacing up and down the same floors
Trying my best to go out for fresh air
Showing my kids how much I care
That they get their sunshine and fun
While I fight the urge to cut and run

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

Monday 13 July 2020

And then...?

My little boy often talks about when coronavirus is over we will be doing this, that and the other. He understands that this contagion has put a hold on things but he doesn't really grasp that we don't know for how long. He clings to the concept of when this is over. 

Lockdown in the UK is definitely easing. Restaurants and pubs are re-opening as are hairdressers and nail bars. Swimming pools will open by the end of July and social bubbles can mix in gardens provided you keep the 1metre safety distance. Oh, and you can travel on bus or train with the assistance of a face mask. 

This has translated to many people as 'back to normal' so you have half the population walking around like nothing has changed. No face masks, no social distancing, barging in shops and queues, getting their McDonalds fix and meeting up with all their friends and family.

To others, this has meant that we can go out but cautiously. They are wearing face masks and gloves and spraying anti-bac, avoiding contact with everyone and disinfecting all their purchases.

So what do I do? Back to normal or stay as I am?

There's not much difference, to be honest. I remember smiling when friends talked about how much their lives had changed due to lockdown. It didn't feel much different to me being a stay at home mum who already worked from home. As the months went on, homeschooling was definitely a challenge but still, I'm a stay-at-home mum so I spent a lot of time with my children anyway.

Then the lockdown blues hit and it got scary. Spiralling death tolls and this general sense of unease and ignorance because we just don't know what is going to happen.

Now? Well... other people's lives are returning to normal. They are going to work, seeing friends and family, shopping, eating out and travelling. And me? I'm no different. A stay-at-home mum who works from home. 

It's a little anti-climactic if I'm honest. My holiday has been transferred to next year but it was the first one I've had in five years so I'm not overly devastated. School has now closed for the summer holidays so I can do nothing but wait for September to see what happens.

My 'and then' is same. What's yours?

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

Wednesday 8 July 2020

A Slice of Cake With... Eric Wicklund

Today I am delighted to be having a slice of cake with author Eric Wicklund.

Eric is an IT Consultant living in Austin, Texas with his beautiful wife and daughter.

He got hooked on books at a very early age and by twelve, had read every Jack London book he could find. The first Science Fiction book he read was "Decision at Doona" by Anne McAffrey. Eric's favorite author of all time is Ray Bradbury, though he has many favorites. While living in the San Francisco Bay area, he discovered a wonderful used book store named "A Change of Hobbit." It was one of those magical places that would feature in a Charles deLint story. It even featured a friendly cat that liked to be petted while you sat on the floor to read. These days, Eric reads a lot of Military Scifi, Steampunk, and Cyberpunk, and anything related to nanotechnology. Neil Stephenson's "The Diamond Age" triggered a major paradigm shift in his thinking.

Eric served in the US Navy, as an Operations Specialist aboard several surface warships. His first view of San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge was on a radar scope where he could watch the cars driving over it. Though he has retired from the Navy, he still keeps up with all the latest naval and aviation technological developments.

Eric's primary writing influences are Ray Bradbury, Gordon R. Dickson, Robert Sheckley, Keith Laumer, C.S. Forester, Jerry Pournelle, David Weber, and John Ringo. He thinks as you read his works you can see a little bit of all of them in there.

What kind of stories do you write?

I like to write about high technology and how it is used in a futuristic society. Even more so, how has society changed because of this technology. I think science fiction should attempt to make a guess at how people might live in the future. All of us instinctively know not to place metal in a microwave, but would a Victorian age person know this? I want my futures to be wonderful and fascinating and strange as a Victorian age person would perceive our own. It’s not only world-building that I like. I want humor and laughs in my adventure. As I reader, I want it all, so as a writer, that’s what I want to deliver. 

Can you describe your writing why?

Rampant, unfettered imagination. I’m always thinking “what if?” This is happening every second of my day. No matter what I’m doing, alternative ideas and interpretations spew forth, not like a faucet, but like Niagara Falls. All those ideas need to go somewhere, so the printed page it is.

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

From The Huralon Incident.

“A lucky shot,” grated McCray. 
“Standby,” said Xiang, looking worried. “More data coming in. Critical hits on the hyper control runs. Secondaries are down too.” She looked up, the shock plain on her face. “Captain, we cannot enter hyperspace!”
“That’s not possible,” growled McCray, feeling the same shock. He gestured in the air and a screen opened with the harried face of Chief Engineer, Commander Guillermo Parsamayan. “Gui, what the hell happened?”
Gui looked frustrated. “A one-in-a-million shot, sir. Shrapnel from the strike slipped through a gap in the armor and hit both the hyperdrive control runs. This is supposed to be impossible.”
“How long to fix it?”
“I need a couple days at least.”
McCray felt his face sag. “Two days? You gotta be joking.”
Gui shook his head. “No way around it, sir. I got the nanoprinters making parts now, but hypercontrol junctions are complicated pieces of kit. Hyper capability is down for now.”
“Keep me informed, Commander.” McCray ground his teeth in frustration. How could a piddling little pirate do this to his ship and from such a long range? What would those assholes in the admiralty say to this? Whatever the reason, the choices on action had become far simpler now. “Helm! Roll ship and come port to 2-8-5.” 
The maneuver neatly unmasked three of Springbok’s lasers. She had four lasers to the Brazil’s two, but while Brazil could only fire one laser in a stern chase, Springbok’s cleverly designed geometry meant she could return fire with three in the same stern chase. At the helm, Raj replied to his order as McCray turned to Lieutenant-Commander Piper. “Guns, you have a targeting solution?”
Piper grinned ferally. “Locked and ready, sir.”

Tell us about your latest project

My next project is the second book in The Springbok Chronicles. The working title is: The Madrid Solution. A running theme in the book is scientists who try to do one thing, sometimes make accidental and huge discoveries. Also in the second book’s time of war, ESS Springbok may finally fulfill her mission as a merchant raider. However, I always demand humor in my work. Thus the following scene:

Far from being truly asleep, the two marines worked in a virtual reality that looked very much like a standard assault shuttle’s cockpit. That way, Tran could see Candless reaching under her butt. 
“Sure,” said Candless. “I’ll just pull a tractor beam out my ass.”
“That must explain why it’s so…”
“Say it, and you’ll clean the bilges for a month!”
“...Perfectly formed?”
“Nice recovery.”
Tran launched again and the grapple bounced off. “Damn! This one’s tough.”
“Let me give it a go,” said Candless. The flexibility of VR proved it’s worth as the controls for the grapple suddenly appeared within reach before her. She manipulated the sighting reticule with her eyes, the onboard computer interpreting her desires via Iris. She fired, and the grapple finally found purchase in a groove and stuck there.
“Ooh rah!” crowed Candless.
“Whatever. Lucky shot.” 
The cable suddenly went taught and yanked hard on the heavy shuttle. Inertial balancers reacted perfectly to the sudden motion, and the marines hardly felt the shuttle beginning to spin, though the view of the stars veered wildly.
“Stabilizing,” said Tran. The shuttle’s dark paddles increased their frequency, responding to Tran’s joystick inputs. Fightin’ Franny’s spin slowed and thereby slowed the rotation of the lifeboat. “That did it. Lifeboat is now stable.”   
“See that shot?” said Candless. “That’s why I’m the top dog in this outfit.”
“If you’re top dog, does that mean you’re a…”
“Bilges, Tran. Think about it.”
“...Shining example of officerhood?”
“Nice recovery.”

What is your favourite cake?

Any dense, moist cake, like Red Velvet or Black Forest. Minimal icing though. I usually scrape most of it off. I get Sugar Blues real easy and end up zoning out on the couch.

You can check out all of Eric's books here -

Connect with Eric at the following places:

Momus News Blog:

Join me next week when I interview Noelle Nichols.

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 out more about her books on her website Join the discussion in her Facebook group Buss's Book Stop.

Tuesday 7 July 2020

Tuesday Poem - Just A Minute

Mum, can I have a snack?
Just a minute, please
Mum, can I have a drink?
Just a minute, please
Mum, she hit me
Mum, he took my toy
Just a minute, please

Can you upload that file?
Just a minute, please
Can you create all those posts?
Just a minute, please
Can you proofread everything?
And then attend a 2-hour meeting.
Just a minute, please

Did you write today?
Did you read today?
Did you workout today?
Did you eat right today?
Did you get enough sleep?
Have you done all your work?
Just a minute, please

Is dinner ready?
Why aren't you smiling?
Did you wash my shirts?
Is there any milk?
What show do you want to watch?
Shall we go out tomorrow?
Just a minute, please

Let me breathe
Let me take stock
Let me remember what day it is
Let me be by myself
Let me sleep
Let me not have to answer all your questions
Let me have time to write a list


Monday 6 July 2020

Book Read in June 2020

Imogen's Journey by B. Fleetwood - 4 stars

Recap: Imogen goes to her home planet

Review: I couldn't put too much in that recap because I didn't want to give too much away lol. There's some solid world-building highlighting the differences in the two worlds but our villains are all dastardly with figurative twirly moustaches so it was interesting to read Leo's character reveal. I liked the ending very much, it gives us the uplift for book three and the grains of hope for retaliation because let's face it - book two doesn't look too good for our heroes! Look forward to seeing what happens next.

The Last Secret by Lana Melyan - 5 stars

Recap: Nicky kicks ass and rescues Nate

Review: Now we're cooking with gas! It was fast-paced, action-packed and that cliffhanger ending! I mean we kinda knew it was coming but we were still rooting for the good guys. Good character interplay and I'm desperate to know what happens next...

Promise of the Opal by Lyra Shanti - 3 stars

Recap: Sam and Jon are dreaming of past lives where they are lovers, then they meet and fall in love but things are not that simple.

Review: I really enjoyed the first part of the book but the last section seemed a little rushed and unfinished. Throughout the book the characters had had these beautifully expressive dreams and then at the end they talked through flashbacks which lost the impact. Sam's boyfriend gets an intense I'll get her back scene and then gets a brief drunken flurry and is not heard of again which felt odd, we saw Sam and Jon's reaction but not his. Jon's ex also had a convenient turn up then disappear again scene - that man is a saint. When the past lives were written so well and Sam's inner turmoil and Jon's shame handled so so well it made these brief secondary character appearances less impactful especially when their past lives were more fleshed out and interesting. I think there will be a book two and I want to find out what happens to everyone so I shall be keeping an eye out.

The Watchmaker's Daughter by C.J. Archer - 5 stars 

Recap: India Steele has lost her father, her home and her fiancee. Then she meets mysterious Mr Glass who is looking for a watchmaker.

Review: I love how there is so much scope going forwards and yet we still feel like we know our characters well. Historical supernatural suspense romance - what more could you ask for?
Mother of Floods by Madeleine F. White - 4 stars

Recap: After the loss of her husband Martha finds spiritual comfort in drumming but her actions begin the catalyst that will end the world.

Review: It took me a long time to read this book because I found I could only read one chapter at a time in order to have a break and digest everything properly plus I started reading just before lockdown and for several weeks I couldn't read anything at all. It's a jam-packed book and at one point I was really struggling but then I attended the online book launch with the author and listening to her explain that it was really the knitting together of different stories helped me compartmentalize what I was reading. I think the author could have even split out the stories and written four books in a series based on the depth of content. It's a very spiritual book with references to lots of different religious beliefs. I think I would have to read this book a couple of times to really understand and absorb everything properly. I really enjoyed the imagery and Martha was a particularly grounded character who I could relate to.

Imogen's Destiny by B. Fleetwood - 4 stars

** spoiler alert ** Recap: Imogen must go back to her home planet to try and save her friends, family and Earth.

Review: They had a plan, then they were foiled. They had another plan, then they were foiled. Throw in a couple of major character deaths before you're even three-quarters of the way and it looks bleak for our heroine. And that's great! We don't want to 'know' that we're going to have a happy ending, we want to suffer and despair with our characters. There were a few places of 'convenient' dialogue which jarred an otherwise good flowing book. Kudos to the use of LOTR in rallying speech. And I really liked how Naomi's tractus travels affected the whole plot of the trilogy, really well thought out story arc providing lots of ohhhhhh moments.
5 Minute Vacations by Cindy Tomamichel - 4 stars

Recap: A series of very short imagination gettaways.

Review: An different kind of collection of shorts, these are designed to take you away from it all and give you a break. My favourite vacations were the baking ones as sense memory for me was so strong. A nice book to dip into when you need it.

Wednesday 1 July 2020

A Slice of Cake With... Mercy Hollow

This week I am delighted to be having a slice of cake with author Mercy Hollow.

Mercy was born in Florida, where she was terrorized by alligators, fire ants, rabid raccoons, sharks, drunken college students, 100% humidity, and mouse-ear-wearing, heat-loving tourists. She has lived on three continents (four if you count the foreign realm of her imagination) and planted her feet in San Francisco. She has a love of hockey, motorcycles, and anything deemed weird.

She is a freelance editor, workshop presenter, avid facilitator of late-night read and critiques, and slinger of whimsical, on-the-edge humor. 

What kind of stories do you write?

I write about broken heroes, gritty underworlds, and villains you long to hate, with a punch of sarcasm. My Legions of the Claimed series is set in a modern-day Chicago you’ve never seen, with twists, deception, strong men, and stronger women. Fantasy that grips you by the neck, heart, and balls.

Can you describe your writing why?

Writing fantasy allows me to escape reality and at the same time dive deeper into issues. Exploring topics that we face today through fantasy and characters has a freedom to it. It’s time spent with friends and foes. People I care about that are going through struggles in life and striving for a better future. And that helps me gain understanding of myself and the people in my life. Plus, I get to make up cool shit. 

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

This section is from Scythe and is the only scene in the Legions of the Claimed series that is from a child’s point of view. It’s from the point of view of Smoke, one of the current Rulers of the Legion, when he was ten. The scene sets up the stakes of that character as well as the stakes of the series.
The Curator’s voice resumed, small hitches in his speech. “A man is as good as those who serve him. Loyalty, once it chooses you, once given, cannot be exchanged or borrowed. It is earned, and it is permanent.” He motioned to the five Shields and pointed to the stage floor. Each Shield got down on his knees. The Curator picked up the straight razor and approached the back of the first Shield in the line. “We honor your service and loyalty. Your loved ones will be cared for.” He reached around the man’s neck and drew the razor across his throat. Blood dripped from the opening. The man clutched his neck but remained in position. The Curator stood behind each man in turn. Repeating the statement. Slitting the man’s throat.
Smoke’s mother sniffled, dry and empty. “Why do they have to do it like this? It takes so long. Honor them by ending their suffering.” 
The men remained stoic. 
Smoke counted. 
Every five seconds or so a small pulse of blood would drip from their wounds, run down their chests, and trickle over the emblem branded on their stomachs. 
Smoke gripped his father’s hand. “Did they do bad things too?”
“No.” Rubidium turned Smoke to face him. “They served their Ruler well. They served us all, selflessly. They are good men.”
“Then why did he do that?”
“Tradition. Beliefs.”
“Beliefs make people kill?”
His father stared at the men. “Yes.”

Tell us about your latest project

I’m currently working on Vegan, the third book in the Legions of the Claimed series and a new YA Fantasy trilogy, but the next projects I have coming out are the audiobooks for Scythe and Grim, the first two books in the Legions of the Claimed series, both narrated by the amazing Melanie Hooks. 

What is your favourite cake?

My favorite cake is yellow cake with old-fashion, buttercream chocolate frosting. 

You can connect with Mercy at her website

Join me next week when I interview Erik Wicklund.

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 out more about her books on her website Join the discussion in her Facebook group Buss's Book Stop.