Wednesday 13 September 2023

A Slice of Cake With... Abby Goldsmith

Abby is the author of the Torth series, originally released on Wattpad and Royal Road, with 700,000+ reads. She’s an alumni of the Odyssey Writing Workshop, where she received a personal critique from best-selling author George R.R. Martin. Her short works are published in Escape Pod and Fantasy Magazine, as well as in anthologies by Writer’s Digest Books.

A former animator and game content writer, Abby is credited on more than a dozen Nintendo games for Nickelodeon and Disney. She co-hosts the Stories for Nerds podcast from her home in Texas.

What kind of books do you write?

I’ll only write novels or series that I believe contribute something uniquely new to the world, or that depict something vitally important that isn’t expressed well enough anywhere else that I’ve ever seen. I like to explore society through the exaggerated lens of sci-fi and fantasy, and I play with interpersonal power dynamics. My villains tend to be darkly absurd. My heroes tend to be larger-than-life and/or rise to overpowered heights.

Can you describe your writing why?

I’ve always been a storyteller. Epic stories grow and mutate in my mind. I've experimented with animation, comics, and game dev, as well as screenplays and novels. With novels, I have the most creative control, and I don't need a team or a massive budget. So I've chosen this art form as the one to concentrate the most energy on.

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

The Torth Majority did not care about individuals, and so Yellow Thomas had not cared about individuals.

That was a toxic approach, he now figured.  Slaves had healthier priorities.  To slaves, large groups were abstract, whereas a single individual could matter more than an entire city or planet.  That strange-but-wonderful outlook made them superior to the Torth. 

So during his imprisonment, Thomas had deconstructed who he was, and pieced his identity back together from a human perspective.

He was smart.  He was dying.  He was a Torth hybrid, but he was also half human.  American.  A friend.  A foster brother.  A prisoner.  A target.  A power to be reckoned with.  A seeker of knowledge, and a teller of truths.  He used to be a nameless Yellow Rank, equal to all other Yellow Ranks, but now that was only a fraction of his identity.  He was a sapient being with a lot of unique complexities, and, like the mysterious magic of telepathy and Yeresunsa powers, the whole of who he was transcended the parts.

“The Torth are not my family anymore,” he said.

The orator was quiet for a moment, perhaps mulling over his simple answer.

“Very well,” she said.  “Your answers are acceptable, Thomas.  I have one final question.  If you join us, will you give your assurance that you will not harm us?”

Tell us about your latest project

What if everyone could peer inside your mind and judge you? What if a thought could get you killed? Welcome to the Torth Majority. Are you a thought leader? Or are you a slave?

The galaxy-spanning Torth own everything and know everyone. They are shepherded by supergeniuses, the greatest of whom is crushing hard on Thomas. There is no way to refuse the Torth Majority, no way to escape, no way to help his enslaved friends… unless Thomas can trick thirty trillion mind readers. 

And so Thomas’s galactic conquest begins. 

The Torth series is completely pre-written with an online following. It’s dark sci-fi progression fantasy with dual protagonists, one brawn and one brain. 

What is your favourite cake?

I’ll have to go with a 7 layer chocolate cake.

You can connect with Abby here:

X (formerly known as Twitter):

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. Never miss out on future posts by following me.

Wednesday 6 September 2023

Extra Slice of Cake With... Jessica Thompson

This week I am delighted to have author Jessica Thompson back for another slice of cake.

Jessica is the author of the Amazon best-selling mystery novels A Caterer’s Guide to Holidays and Homicide and A Caterer’s Guide to Love and Murder which was a finalist in the Wishing Shelf Awards. She also curated and featured her own short stories in a family friendly anthology of campfire stories, Beyond the Woods: A Supernatural Anthology. Active in her local writing community, she volunteers as the Assistant Communications Chair for the Storymakers Guild and as a Program Assistant for the Writer’s League of Texas. 

Jessica lives in the suburbs of Austin, Texas with her husband and two children. When not writing, she’s getting her boots dirty at her parents' nearby longhorn cattle ranch. Whether ranching, cooking, or gardening, she sees it all as plot-inspiring material for her next mystery.

Describe the types of books you love to read

Ooooh! I love Agatha Christie. I’m almost done reading her whole collection of novels. I really love all mystery, but especially clean mysteries. If it’s cozy, so be it, but it’s got to be clean. 

Which authors inspire you to write?

Again, Agatha Christie, but modern writers I love are Josi Kilpack (my favorite cozy author), Joanne Fluke (when I need to remember that I CAN do this), Bruce Hammack (his books are similar to my newest release), and J.R. Lancaster (again, her book is similar to my Shoot Shovel and Shut Up because it’s clean and compelling, but not cozy.)

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

I last came on to talk about my culinary cozy mysteries series, which has a new book coming out in January called A Caterer’s Guide to Valentines and Violence, but mostly I’ve been trying something new. My latest book is called Shoot Shovel and Shut Up. It’s a clean, classic mystery, but it’s not a cozy. It’s a modern Western mystery with a splash of romance.

I’ve also been in several anthologies, like Riddles, Resolutions and Revenge, A Beach of a Crime, and Bippity Boppity Boots - Southwestern Fairytale Retellings.

What is your next project?

The third book in my Caterer’s Guide to Crime series is coming out on January 11, 2024. It doesn’t have a link or cover yet, but … blurb time!

Feel the love … with a caterer, a captain, and a criminal.

“Hey, gorgeous!”

As she decides how she feels about her not-so-ex-fiancé, Violet and her friends must cater a formal Army event as their secrets boil over. When she and the handsome investigator discover the boss has been beaten, and not with a whisk, and her fiance becomes the prime suspect, Violet must bite off more than she can chew, decide who to trust, and find the creamy center of the crimes. 

But can she crack the criminal before she melts?

A Caterer’s Guide to Valentines and Violence is a prequel to the mystery series that’ll give you heart eyes!

Have you recently tried any new cake? What was the last cake you made/bought?

My most recent cake was chocolate and raspberry for my daughter’s birthday, but I’m hoping to soon make America’s Test Kitchen’s Magic Chocolate Flan Cake. I made it once years ago and it’s sooooo sexy.

You can connect with Jessica here:

My book Shoot Shovel and Shut Up:
Amazon Author Profile:

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. Never miss out on future posts by following me.

Wednesday 16 August 2023

A Slice of Cake With... Zoe Dawson

Today I am delighted to have a slice of cake with author Zoe Dawson.

Zoe says "I love to write. I always have. For me it doesn’t matter what genre it is, the constant is always the happily ever after.

I’m producing work that runs the gamut of genre—romantic comedy, new adult contemporary, urban fantasy, romantic erotica, and syfy/fantasy. Sounds crazy like I can’t make up my mind, but that’s so far from the truth.  Writing across all the genres is what excites me, keeps my mind fresh, and lets me tell the stories that are clamoring to get out. I’d tell you about the people in my head who talk to me, but don’t want you to freak out too much. So, I’ll keep that to myself.

I currently live in North Carolina, but hail from the beautiful Green Mountain State, Vermont. I miss the mountains, but love the warmth of not only the climate here in NC, but the warmth of the people I’ve meet since moving here.

The words feed my soul and the happily ever afters feed my heart."

What kind of books do you write?

I’m an outside-the-box thinker, so my plots are complex, nonconventional, and unpredictable, and you can expect expansive settings and deeply engaging characters that populate my stories. I write strong heroines who don’t care about stepping on toes, fight for what they believe in and know how to kick some ass, either verbally or physically and look good while doing it. My heroes are sexy guys with hearts of gold. Some live in small towns or big cities, and others travel a global landscape with a solid home base. Some have that laid back charm and bad boy quality, and others the special training to back up their disregard for danger, whether it’s running into bullets, shielding people, or doing what’s necessary. All of my stories are emotional, suspenseful tales of beating the odds, finding their place in the world, and falling deeply in love. That’s always the constant in my novels, the happily ever after.

Can you describe your writing why?

I have voices in my head who clamber for attention and their own, concrete story. (Don’t tell the guys with the white coats.) Seriously, I’m fueled by an imagination that won’t let me just live a normal life. I’ve got scenarios and fight scenes, people dangling off cliffs, firefights, sweat, blood, and tears, epic love, sassy characters, dangerously sexy men, and larger-than-life ideas for vast tales that I can’t contain. Writing is like breath for me. If I’m not telling a story, there’s no oxygen.

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

This excerpt is from my recently completed manuscript, Easy, part of the SEAL Team EAST series, but Easy was actually introduced in my SEAL Team Alpha novel, Hemingway. Easy and Hemingway were swim buddies while they endured Basic Underwater Demolition/SEALs or BUD/S. He’s now on the East Coast with the Gold Guardians (a unit I made up), a covert, secret part of Special Operation Command, under the Department of Defense. They are stationed at Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story in Virginia Beach, Virgina.

She shivered at the sudden drop in temperature and stayed close to Easy. They walked against the howling wind driving water into their faces, so they could barely see where they were going. The whole world seemed to be made of sheets and sheets of water. 
They made it into the meager cover of the trees. The sky gave them very little light. Mountains rose around them, the tree line silhouetted in silver against the gray sky.  As she took a step, she could feel the water rushing over her ankles. She looked down, thinking she had stumbled into a stream. Confused, she looked at Easy, but then there was a rumbling roar and she looked to her side. A ten-foot rushing wave of water rolled toward her, and if that wasn’t bad enough, it had swept over the truck and caught it up with debris and branches. It was a raging flash flood.
Easy shouted, but it was too late. The water hit her with a driving force that knocked the breath out of her and took her off her feet in an instant. The power of it rolled her around in the stream like a rag doll and she couldn’t even get her bearings to try to swim, the sudden current swift and treacherous. Part of the truck’s door came perilously close to her head, the edge of the rusted metal scoring her cheek with a painful slice of pain. Without warning, the ground was gone and there was nothing there. She couldn’t even draw a breath to scream.
Then suddenly she stopped short, someone had her wrist as the water continued to pour over them and disappear below. It was a drop-off, and she couldn’t even see anything but darkness underneath her as she dangled in midair, the water continuing to strike her face, flowing over her shoulders.
Finally, the deluge slowed then stopped altogether. She gasped for breath as she looked up to see that Easy had his arm securely around a tree root.
“Don’t panic, Jack. If you thrash, I’ll lose my grip.”
It took everything she had, every ounce of willpower and trust she had in the man above her. “Okay,” she said, gritting her teeth.
“Good.” There was that beautiful calm voice, and it worked its soothing magic. “Look over your left shoulder. See that outcropping of land?”
She swiveled her head, and her mouth went dry. There was an outcropping all right, but the land was ragged and torn. It was clear trees had toppled, their roots ripped from the ground. There was no way to know if the rain and flash waters had loosened the dirt.
“I’m going to toss you over there. Grab on and don’t let go.”
Don’t let go? Oh, God. She looked up at him and met his gaze. They stared at each other as seconds passed. She felt a connection with him, strong and unbreakable. There was no way he was going to drop her, and no way he was going to let them die. All of that was in those gorgeous blue eyes.
“Are you going to count to three on this He-man maneuver, Prince Charming?”
He huffed a breath. “Jack–I can’t be both.”
“I would appreciate it if you didn’t argue with a woman dangling in mid-air. Now, that three-count?”
“Will that help?”
“No, but at least I’ll know when to dig deep for my inner spider woman.”

Tell us about your latest project

My current release is GQ, the third book in my SEAL Team Tier 1 series. My Tier 1 team has been battling an elusive and shadowy terror group called No Safe Haven, who leave behind a mutilated American flag with a red X through it and the no safe haven slogan. They have attacked Americans in Paris (Iceman, Book 1), and Bolivia (Preacher, Book 2). Usually a three-pronged attack: civilian, government, and military. But they have now confiscated a laptop leading them to London, England where the third book takes place. Here’s a description.

Ready to deliver some well-deserved justice to the terror group Remington "GQ" Nash and his teammates have been fighting, No Safe Haven, he and the team head to England where the next attacks are scheduled to happen. But this time they have confiscated a laptop they hope contains the information on the attacks they need to prevent them. To top it off, they have a team of NSA cryptologists on hand to decrypt the safeguards on the computer. That's when GQ meets, shy, repressed, and brilliant Dr. Celeste Potter, a woman so buttoned-up she hides behind her large glasses, baggy sweats, and unbound hair. He can't seem to help himself as he gets involved in bringing this woman out of her shell...and falling hard for her during an active and dangerous mission. Celeste is nonplussed to discover that this gorgeous Navy SEAL has taken an interest in her. It's the last thing she would have expected. Her life is reclusive by choice, the world is so intrusive, but this man draws her out bit by bit until she can no longer deny how much she has missed in her life, nor how she's going to handle this dynamic man. As the mission progresses, Celeste finds disturbing evidence that NSH has their sights set on her, and she can no longer ignore the real world for her safe bubble. Is she up for the final showdown where their lives are on the line and NSH's plans are so extreme, they could succeed in destroying everything?

What is your favourite cake?

Pretty simple. Chocolate layer cake—chocolate frosting, yellow cake. I prefer the store-bought kind from Harris Teeter. It’s so darn delicious and HT has my back, the slices come in individual servings, so I don’t overindulge (except on my birthday). 

Connect with Zoe here:

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. Never miss out on future posts by following me

Thursday 3 August 2023

A Slice of Cake With... Naima Haviland

This week I am delighted to have a slice of cake with author Naima Haviland.

Naima says " I write novels and short stories, mostly in the dark fantasy, and horror genres. Lately, I've branched out into romance, erotica, and literature. There's no telling where my imagination will take me next!

I'm inspired by the Southeast United States, including the Florida panhandle, an ocean paradise that has been home to pirates, outlaws, eccentrics, explorers, UFOs -- and me!"

What kind of books do you write?

Readers can expect immersive worlds and complex characters. However, my plots go in unexpected directions. I’ll mix vampires with folk magic or modern gothic with erotica. Or I’ll start a short story as a romance and finish it as a time-travelling mystery. My latest novel, The Name I Chose, weaves the worst of our influencer culture into an alternative version of Victorian England. The story combines romance, body positivity, and social justice.

Can you describe your writing why?

I want something of myself to live on after I die – hopefully, I have lots of time ahead to make that happen but I write like there’s no tomorrow. I want to uplift, fascinate, and entertain people I don’t know.

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

After all the day’s shock and danger, it was the subterranean tunnels that threatened Philomena’s spirit. She had the feeling now, as she had whenever they’d locked her in the closet, that she should never see daylight or people again. Philomena sat against the tunnel wall in the darkness and stifled a sob against her knees. 
But then her mind’s eye conjured the image of Mordecai from the encompassing darkness. She considered the challenges arising from physical malformations. How mean the array of opportunities presented him, yet he’d built a career that earned him a comfortable income. How cruelly people may have treated him, yet in his chosen profession Mordecai helped people flourish. 
Philomena dried her tears with the back of her hand. She stood, felt about in the dark for the track, and began once again to follow it.
Mordecai persevered, and if she intended joining her life to his, she must match him. He thought you too delicate. Prove him wrong.
Though she had much to make her anxious, Philomena gave preference to reliving the pleasure Mordecai’s infrequent smiles had afforded her. When they composed together at the piano, her soul frolicked with its sympathetic twin. Despite his physical asymmetry, his form fit perfectly with hers when he embraced her. Though absent at the moment, his presence sustained her.

Tell us about your latest project

The Name I Chose is a novel of passion and peril set in an alternative Victorian England. 

Bold inventions usher in a new age, while genetic and cosmetic sciences reinforce an age-old class system. For the rich, immunity to disability and disease justifies their hold on power. Born disfigured, Mordecai Michaelson has employed his musical talent to rise above a life of poverty. Philomena Paulson appears no less perfect and no more talented than her upper class world requires. But she has secrets only Mordecai understands. Acceptance, trust, and a passion for music compose bonds of forbidden love between them. When chance discovery of Philomena's darkest secret threatens scandal and revolution, she's determined to save Mordecai from the gallows. But Mordecai is just as determined to keep her from social suicide, even if it costs him his life.

The Historical Fiction Company gave The Name I Chose a 5-star review: "... what we have here is an excellent screen play for an equally excellent film. All the necessary component parts are present: romance and love interest, beautiful music..." — and distinguished the novel with 2022 Silver and Highly Recommended Awards. 

Order The Name I Chose from your favourite bookseller. While we’re sharing a slice of cake, try a yummy bite of the audiobook

What is your favourite cake?

The mint-chocolate birthday cake I baked for myself on my last day of being 29. I put so much green food coloring into the homemade icing that the whole thing looked like a malformed TicTac. I circled the top of the round layer cake with chocolate-covered coffee beans. I woke up 30 years old to find that all the icing had slid off and the coffee beans now lay on the plate. It looked like a metaphor for aging. That was a tasty cake, though.

Connect with Naima here:
Learn more about her books and creative projects on her website:
Connect with her on Facebook

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. Never miss out on future posts by following me.

Wednesday 26 July 2023

A Slice of Cake With... Dagmar Rokita

Today I am delighted to have a slice of cake with author Dagmar Rokita. 

Dagmar is a Polish writer and an artist. She writes and illustrates dark sci-fi series called Bloodstained Skies. There are two things that inspire her: imaginary world of geek culture and the deepest corners of human psychology. Huge doses of heavy metal are her creative fuel. She wants to become a famous artist because she needs money to buy sophisticated food for her cat.

What kind of books do you write?

I write a smooth blend of epic cinematic action and gritty character development. I often see two groups of people arguing with each other: one of them prefers entertainment for the very sake of entertainment and the second group wants deep and philosophical stories. I’m the one who says “why not both?” I also enjoy creating advanced civilisations with ancient/medieval aesthetics (Celtic space elves and dragon cyborgs are my favourite). 

Can you describe your writing why?

There are a few things:
- I want to get rid of some thoughts and fears. Almost all of my characters have a little part of my own problems, phobias and worries. When I write, I unleash all my negative emotions in a safe and controlled way.
- I want to be proud of something I did by myself, something I made with my own hands, or something I did from the very beginning to the very end.
- I enjoy challenging the readers. Many people have short attention spans, they prefer sanitized art and they don’t want to leave their comfort zone. I want to make them wonder who is good and who is bad, pay attention to details, or just make them step out of the comfort zone (or at least that’s what I’m trying to do...)

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

I love describing weird technology and this giant tank controlled by minds is my favourite (from Bloodstained Skies: The Core of Rage).

The Kehrians stood on circular platforms, facing the wall. The respirators gave them oxygen, and virtual reality goggles covered their eyes. They held their hands raised over their heads like entranced shamans who wanted to summon their Devi with a sorcerous mantra. Thick controlling gloves, linked with the board supercomputer, let them pilot the Katrikeya precisely through the slightest of moves and gestures.

Taking the mid place, the Technician Operator grimaced on hearing an automatic communication in his headphones.

“Distance to the target: fifteen…”

“Yeah,” he mumbled. “Technician Cannoneer, ignore these data.”

“Why?” asked Cannoneer, still standing motionlessly like a statue.

Tell us about your latest project

I’m slowly finishing my 2nd book Bloodstained Skies: The Vanquisher of Kings I. It’s not the sequel of my previous book, Bloodstained Skies: The Core of Rage. I plan to start a new trilogy in the same universe, where I will show the events from around 1000 years before “The Core…”. It may be a short novel or a long novella, I’m not sure how long it will be. I would describe it as “what if Tarantino directed The Lion King”.

What is your favourite cake?

I have two. Apple pie is the best. I’m a big fan of sweet-and-sour things, and some shortbread with apples from my garden is absolutely delicious.

Cheesecake is my number two, it’s soft and not too sweet. But only without raisins. How can people destroy this masterpiece with raisins!?

Connect with Dagmar here:

Join me next week when I will be having a slice of cake with Naima Haviland. 

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. Never miss out on future posts by following me.

Wednesday 19 July 2023

A Slice of Cake With... Kate Darroch

Today I am delighted to have a slice of cake with author Kate Darroch. 

Living on the beautiful Devon Coastline, Kate melds her lifelong love of reading Cozy Sleuths with her love of writing and years of living in foreign climes to write Travel Cozies. Devon is such a friendly place living here is like living in a time warp. The strong sense of community takes Kate back in spirit to the Glasgow of her childhood - and that's how Màiri was born!

Màiri is a Scots Irish teacher whose home is Glasgow as it was in the 1970s, a time and place Kate recalls fondly. Passionate about Accessibility, Kate insists that all her writing is published in Large Print and Dyslexia Friendly editions, in addition to standard print, eBooks and audiobooks.

What kind of books do you write?

I write funny, frothy, action-packed Cozies, escapism pure and simple. Yes, I know Cozies aren’t usually action-packed – but mine are. Màiri, the reluctant sleuth heroine of the Death in Paris and the Màiri’s Home for the Holidays series, is endlessly escaping from one dire peril only to fall into the next, as frighteningly danger-prone as the heroine of that old silent film The Perils of Pauline Hunt, the British consulting detective in my Huntingdon Hart Investigates series, is an ex-MI5 operative, with a unique skillset and billions in the bank. The man can hardly draw a breath without being in ferocious physical danger, yet he finds time almost every day to rescue someone from something, even while obsessively pursuing the love of his life, the Dowager Duchess Sophia Lovely ditsy Erin, the heroine in the Found Money series, attracts criminals like a magnet. The Scotland Yard detective pursuing her around the globe soon finds himself in a sticky situation - he’s fallen in love with her. How can he save Erin from the bank robbers and drug dealers who have her in their toils?

Can you describe your writing why?

We all need a good laugh in these troubled times, I think. I try to give my readers a laugh. 

In the 15 months I’ve been writing my little stories, I have received over 1800 emails from readers, more than half of whom have been going through some ghastly life crisis and need some escapism. Not to mention the war in the Ukraine and spiralling prices for everything (except my eBooks). 

My desire to take people to a better world, if only for a few hours, is what sends me to my keyboard every day.

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

My fave is the first train sequence from Death in Paris, my debut novel, which has won 15 international book awards, including the Readers Favorite Gold Medal for Humor and Incipere Awards for Best Christian Fiction and Best Clean Mystery. It also came a close second in the 2022 Cozy of the Year contest, chosen by Cozy Readers’ Tribe Votes.

Màiri, the reluctant sleuth heroine, who narrates, is a Scots Irish teacher. Lianna is her Glaswegian BFF. They are on a train from Le Havre to Paris

Seizing his cane with a wordless roar, the military man brandishes it like a weapon (despite very obviously needing it to steady a gimpy leg), over-balancing his hot water jug as his other hand grabs at his tabletop to haul himself onto his feet. His dishes all go flying.
He has managed to jump up – only his fury lending him the ability to stand without falling – and attempts to bring his cane down hard on the little man’s head.
The little man dodges away from the blow, but he can’t get past the roaring lunatic, who is shouting at him with tremendous passion, thrashing about him with his cane in the most astonishing surge of violent energy, even though he can hardly stay upright and looks as if he’ll fall any second.
“You damned scoundrel! You double-dyed liar! You little sneak! You embezzling skunk! I’ll skin you alive! I’ll break this cane over your lying skull, see if I don’t!”
And with another startling lunge he actually manages to connect his cane with the little man’s shoulder, quite a vicious blow. The little man screams. Lianna screams. The attacker is still roaring. 
And over it all, in sweet, measured tones yet as penetrating as any sergeant-major’s on the parade ground “Charlie, what have you done now?” blares out the Glasgow-accented voice of the grey-haired woman.
I see it all in a flash. I’m not going to get any cream cakes; and bringing Lianna to Paris has been a mistake.
But I’m giving myself too much credit. I don’t yet know the full dimensions of this fiasco, because it happens that I’m sitting by the window, and Lianna’s seat gives onto the central passage-way. As she rises, shaking, there is nothing to prevent her from moving anywhere she likes – and I don’t even want to think about what Lianna might like to do to Charlie Stout.
Ferghal looks from my agonised expression to Lianna’s contorted face, and proves himself         a man of action.
He moves smoothly into the passage just behind Lianna and catches at her arms. “Wheesht,” he murmurs, “Sure I think they’ll get on better without a lady in the mix.”
Lianna’s last vestige of control slips. The hated enemy is in front of her, and she is going to get him where it hurts, even if that means hurting someone else first.
Forgetting for a moment that she is a lady, Lianna elbows Ferghal viciously (I really can’t bring myself to say where) and screams “Let me at him.”
Ferghal, to his credit, somehow manages to absorb the blow and stay on his feet, and he hasn’t let go of Lianna. In fact he tightens his grip.
Lianna is beside herself, screaming at poor Ferghal. “Let me at him! I’ll strangle him! I’ll cut his lying tongue out and stuff it down his throat! I’ll kill him! I’ll break every bone in his rotten body! I’ll throttle him!”
Obviously she can’t cut his tongue out (there are no sharp enough knives in the carriage) but I wouldn’t wager a groat on the chances of her not doing the rest.
Not while Ferghal has a good hold of her though.
The lunatic by the entranceway has Stout trapped, he can’t get out and he can’t get past. And even although Stout is leaping about nimbly, and the military relict can hardly stand, every now and then a vicious blow from the cane connects.
The military gentleman is still roaring insults and threats. Stout screams every time the cane hits him. Lianna never stops screaming about how she’s going to strangle Stout and/or break him to bits (her precise intention isn’t fully clear, though not from want of poor Lianna trying to make her wishes known). 
Ferghal is still murmuring soothingly to her. He might as well save his breath. 
The noise level is indescribable.
It’s almost as bad as when 3C first pour out into the playground after double period maths.

Tell us about your latest project

I’m currently working on a “forever” series of Huntingdon Hart consulting detective stories. Hunt is ex-MI5, a retired hitman in his early 30s, independently wealthy. He enjoys propping up the bar at his local and going to the races at Newmarket. People are always coming to them with their complicated troubles, and usually he makes life good for them again. 

His happy carefree existence is disrupted when he falls in love with a woman 23 years his senior, who leads him a merry dance; and simultaneously his old boss in British Intelligence wants him back on the job. As if that weren’t enough trouble, he soon encounters his old enemy The Stingbat, the CIA are gunning for him, he is struggling not to become a victim of office politics, and he gets embroiled in a complex plot against the British throne.

A different animal is featured in each Casefile, and two of them, an adorable pekingese puppy and a baby kitten, become a part of Hunt’s life.

The individual cases are released as a serial, and collected as Casebooks. Eventually, there will be Collections of Huntingdon Hart’s Cases, 10 cases per paperback, also available digitally and as audiobooks. The first audiobook is currently being created, and I hope that the first full length novel To Serve My King will have been released by the time this blogpost appears.

What is your favourite cake?

Coffee sponge with buttercream filling, chocolate icing and walnuts. Second fave, any kind of cream cake.

Join me next week when I will be having a slice of cake with Dagmar Rokita. 

You can support my writing endeavours and buy me tea & cake on Kofi - 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. Never miss out on future posts by following me

Friday 14 July 2023

A Slice of Cake With... Wendy Van Camp

Today I am delighted to have a slice of cake with author Wendy Van Camp.

Wendy is the Poet Laureate for the City of Anaheim, California. Her work is influenced by cutting edge technology, astronomy, and daydreams. A graduate of the Ad Astra Speculative Fiction Workshop, Wendy is a nominated finalist for the Elgin Award, for a Pushcart Prize, and for a Dwarf Stars Award. Her poems, stories, and articles have appeared in: Scifaikuest, The Starlight Scifaiku Review, The Lotus Tree Literary Review, The Junction, and other literary journals. She is the poet and illustrator of The Planets: a scifaiku poetry collection and editor of the annual anthologies Eccentric Orbits: An Anthology of Science Fiction Poetry and Anaheim Poetry Review. She was also a guest editor for the SFPA’s Eye To The Telescope #46: Quests.

What kind of books do you write?

I am a speculative poet. Some authors specialize in writing science fiction and fantasy themes in their books. I do too, but I write in poetry form. My main form is a haiku style known as “scifaiku”, but I also write free verse and other poetry forms. I am the Poet Laureate for the City of Anaheim, California and am one of only four poets laureate in the United States who write speculative poetry. Anaheim features STEM programs in their library system and they felt a poet who wrote about astronomy and the space program would be a good fit for the city.

I am also a novelist and short story writer. I am currently working on an Austen Regency series featuring the characters of Jane Austen’s Persuasion. While it is romantic, I also try to capture the spirit of the Regency era and give the reader a sense of what it was like to be in that era. I have various science fiction trilogies and short stories in different completion stages. Only the start of my Regency series is available for purchase, but I hope to get my science fiction books out in the next few years. However, since I was named a poet laureate, I have been more focused on publishing poetry, public speaking, and the duties to my city.

Can you describe your writing why?

I’ve always been a storyteller. Some of my earliest memories are telling little stories around the campfire as a small child. I started writing my first book when I was four years old, wanting to capture my stories on the page and I dreamed of being a novelist when “I grew up.” I can’t stop telling stories. It is part of my nature. Perhaps I tell too many? There are those who probably think so, but I can’t help being who I am. I suppose I was born to be a writer. The trick was learning the craft to support the inner talent and desire of who I am.

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

One of my favorite poems from my twice Elgin Award nominated poetry collection The Planets is from the Pluto section of the book. Pluto once was considered the ninth planet of our solar system, but was downgraded to the status of a dwarf planet. It was quite the controversy in astronomy circles.

Planet Pluto:
in the Kuiper belt
dwarfs mingle with comets
size doesn’t matter

Tell us about your latest project

I am the editor of Eccentric Orbits: an anthology of science fiction poetry published by Dimensionfold Publishing. We put out an issue once a year and recently dropped volume 4 of the series. My anthologies are filled with some of the top names in speculative poetry and I’m honoured to showcase their talents. Each issue also has a poetry offering of my own included. If speculative poetry is new to you or you would like to read a sample of quality work in this specialized poetry niche, I hope you’ll give our latest offering a try.

What is your favourite cake?

Cassata Cake. This is an Italian cake with a sweeten ricotta filling. It was what we served at my wedding, to the delight of my Italian mother-in-law, and it has since become my favorite. We only serve it at special occasions because it is rather expensive to bake, but it always makes the event more delicious and memorable.

You can connect with Wendy here:
Twitter - @wvancamp
Instagram - @nowastedink
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Join me next week when I will be having a slice of cake with Kate Darroch. 

You can support my writing endeavours and buy me virtual tea & cake through Kofi - 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. Never miss out on future posts by following me

Wednesday 5 July 2023

A Slice of Cake With... JR Lancaster

Today I am delighted to have a slice of cake with JR Lancaster. 

JR says "My love of books came in large part from my mother who made every attempt to keep books in mine and my brothers hands. After she began homeschooling us, my grandmother would make routine trips to our house with a bag filled with goodies she picked up from her local library.

And we would fly through them one by one. As I grew up, my tastes in genre began to change and expand my every growing “To Be Read” piles. Until at last landing on fantasy and becoming wrapped up in the Harry Potter series sweeping the nation. I loved the series so much that the Christmas the second novel was released, my grandfather picked my gifts. I would later find out just how big of deal this was when my grandmother would reveal that he always shopped for the boys and she shopped for the girls. Even with their own children.

Anyway, that year I couldn’t open my gifts fast enough. Each one revealing another Harry Potter themed present until I came upon the second novel. I jumped up and hugged my grandfather so hard while he whispered in my ear that he purchase the book for himself as well so he would read it with me. As each of the movies came out he would take my brother and myself to see them but only if we got through the book, of course. Book five was when the cancer took him from me. My brother, husband and I braved the movies in honor of him, all the way to the finale and spinoffs alone knowing full well we will get to tell him about them one day. He gave me the best gift ever, an experience that I will never forget.

It is my greatest desire to give that special gift to someone else through reading or writing. I want to foster connections with my readers, the writing community and the friends I meet along the way. I hope this will be the place to do that but don’t stop here… Come find me on social media!

All of this has brought me to where I am today, a reporter, editor, freelance writer and author. I have published more than 100 articles in our local paper, the Parke County Sentinel of both personal interest pieces and breaking news. In the midst of writing my first novel, I am serving my faithful client base through Musings & Company. I guess you could say that reading and writing consume me. In fact, you will never find me without a book or two at any moment. I tend to read three books at a time and hope to never tire of traveling somewhere new."

What kind of books do you write?

I write books with twists and intrigue led by a cast of characters that are compelling, witty and lovable. My plots are designed to sweep you off your feet and carry away to somewhere new. If you like page-turning mysteries with heart, then my books are for you!

Can you describe your writing why?

My why is simple, I have an overactive imagination and love to think through the “What-if’s” in life. Writing gives me a constructive space to explore. And, thankfully, I have a super supportive family that gives me the time to do it. 

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

“We looked to see a man approaching us with a line of cats in tow. Dressed in house slippers and a robe tied over his stained undershirt and boxers, he looked as if he hadn’t been out of bed long. No matter if it was in the evening. His appearance was topped off with a coffee cup in one hand and hair that stood on its own.”

This paragraph happened to come when I was introducing a character that was never actually planned for the novel! But, I immediately knew he needed a place in the story. 

Tell us about your latest project

Right now, I am launching my debut full-length novel, Someone's Always Watching. Here is the synopsis: 

Someone's Always Watching follows Basil Billinsgly, a quirky horticulturist who became a recluse following his implication in the unsolved murder of his mother. After spending ten years in solitude with no one to keep him company but his mother’s best friend, Mrs. Greene, Basil is about to get thrust into the thick of a murder investigation he wanted no part of.

What began as a quiet morning in his conservatory turned deadly in the little village of Badgers Hollow. Detective Chief Inspector Dowden Thornhill turns up on Basil’s doorstep prepared to get answers to his questions from the only man on the street that never leaves. After realizing the murder of a young mother looks too similar to that of his own mother's, Basil becomesdetermined to help these children not suffer from the same fate.

Together they team with the assertive Barmaid, Poppy Pembrook, to sift through clues and secrets that could lead them into the hands of the killer. As they get closer to the truth, Mrs. Greene and Poppy go missing. Forcing Basil to face the demons of his past on his own. Will he fight for them or for isolation?

What is your favourite cake?

Pineapple Upside Down Cake for the win! I’m an August baby, so pineapple was never in short supply. The delicate texture mixed with the sweet flavors are a perfect combination!

You can connect with JR on Facebook as J.R. Lancaster Author, Instagram as and Twitter under @jrlauthor. As always, her website is a perfect place to connect,

Join me next week when I will be having a slice of cake with Kate Darroch. 

If you would like to take part in A Slice of Cake With... please get in touch. I'd be delighted to have you.

You can also support my writing endeavours and buy me tea & cake at Kofi - 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. Never miss out on future posts by following me.

Wednesday 28 June 2023

A Slice of Cake With... Brittany Hester

Today I am delighted to have a slice of cake with author Brittany Hester. 

Brittany says "Growing up in the foothills of Tennessee, I have always been enchanted by nature, magic, and powerful stories. My one wish was that there were more characters that looked like me in the books I loved reading. 

My hope is to blaze a path for diverse, strong, and authentic characters of colour to enter the forefront of popular fantasy and science fiction in every medium."

What kind of books do you write?

I write character-driven stories that take place in big, diverse, normally magical worlds. Honestly, the more immersive I can make someone feel while they read, the better! As a reader, I’m pulled towards the stories that leave you connected with the characters--you know the ones where you feel like you could run into them when you’re walking down the street--and I strive to create those types of stories. 

Can you describe your writing why?

I want to provide an escape from reality so people can live out a different story in a different setting when they need a break. Honestly, I write the books I needed and wanted when I was younger. As a Black woman, I fill my stories with diverse characters that I would have identified with and who would have helped me identify myself. The world is a unique place filled with people of all different backgrounds and experiences. I do my best to echo that in my own worlds, because stories are windows for people to try and understand some of life’s hardest questions. Within and through them, you can often find the answers you’ve been looking for or even come up with something more. As an author, I’m motivated to tell stories that can do just that. 

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

This was one of my favorite scenes from book 2. I just love how their relationship has been building to this conflict for so long, and they finally had this blowup. It was drama, there were tears, and Ren finally saw some vulnerability from Akeno: 

That was all she needed. Ren sprinted into the night. She huffed as she looked around for Akeno until she noticed a small, almost forgotten pebbled path along a line of mid-calf hedges. Ren stared, unsure where to go next until she spotted marble-sized stones that glowed with fluorescent yellow light partially hidden between the plain pebbles of various sizes. 
Without taking her eyes off the path, she followed it until the lush green grass turned into patches of weeds and dirt. When she finally looked up, Akeno stood before a disregarded shed. Elastic-reinforced white bandages wrapped his hands, and a large bag as big as Ren was on his shoulder. 
The spot was ugly, bare, and somehow perfect in its forgottenness. From the way Akeno flung the bag down next to him when he saw her through the bright moonlight, Ren guessed there were no cameras. He would never show so much emotion if he thought people were watching.
“Nice spot.” Ren gestured at the space around them with an apologetic smile. “How’d you find another spot without any cameras?” She took a hesitant step forward when he didn't answer, afraid he would dismiss her. She was more afraid of what would happen if she didn’t try to mend the damage she had caused. 
He turned his back and kicked the bag until it rolled against the side of the shed with a thud. 
“I hope Conal isn’t in there,” she tried again. 
He kicked the bag harder. “What do you want, Ren?”
 He was the opposite of how he had been earlier when she had picked a fight with him. Then he had been a simmering pot of black anger firmly contained under an airtight lid. Now he was explosive. His anger, disappointment, and hurt were tangible, making the air almost too hard to breathe. She had said what she did, and there was no going back. How could she take back the hammer blow of her accusations when all that was left was the shattered glass of her destructive behavior? 
She looked around, suddenly aware that they were out in the open and that anywhere in the shadows around them, cameras could be focused on them. 
“You’re safe, okay?”
“How can you know for sure?”
“Someone I trust told me about this spot before I came.”
Akeno turned and fixed a pointed stare at her. 
“Another secret, huh.” She had meant to poke fun at their fight inside the manor, but the words had tasted too sharp as they came out. Too close to the pain she felt at the truth that there were secrets Akeno felt he couldn’t trust her with. 
You won’t trust him with all of yours, either. 
Akeno tilted his head to the stars as if they could help him conquer whatever emotions were so dangerously battling to come out. “Do you think it’s easy for me to be in this situation with you? Fresh off of carrying your too-still body in my arms? Of hiding those armored rings you still wear? Of watching you and Lennox?”
“What about Lennox and me?” Akeno brushed a hand in her direction like he could wipe away the traces of his words, but Ren only boiled with anger. “We didn’t do anything wrong.” 
Finally, he looked at her, and Ren took a step back from the intensity of his anger. “That’s not the point,” he yelled. 
“Then what is the point, Akeno? Why do you keep bringing it up?” Ren yelled. They were loud, too loud. Ren imagined Sky opening a window and watching from her room as Ebba watched from behind them, eating her stupid late-night snack. It all made her mad, and Ren wanted to let the anger consume her. 
She crossed her arms and stomped over to Akeno, the only sound between them the crunch of the rock under her feet and their panting. 
 “You’re reckless, stubbornly single-minded, and you don’t give a damn about who could get hurt as long as you get what you want.”
“That’s not true,” she whispered. 
“Yes, it is.” He ran a wrapped hand through his hair, and the world stopped. Even Ren stopped breathing as Akeno looked at her. “God, you run right through me, Ren. I can see your wheels turning. You’re not as difficult to read as you may think you are, oh stoic queen of masking—”
“I am not!” She interrupted, but Akeno kept going like he couldn’t hear her anymore. 
“You know the worst part? I’m okay if you want to use me, Ren. I’m okay with being a little pawn in your game, and I hate that. I hate how perfectly fine I am with repeatedly letting you do this to me.”
“It wasn’t real,” Ren protested, although she wasn’t sure which one she was trying to convince. “If you can read me as well as you think you can, you would know it wasn’t real!”
“It might have started out as an act, but somewhere along the way, you forgot you were pretending. You forgot it was me you were throwing punches at. For what?” His eyes were red now like he had spent too much time staring directly into a bright, artificial light. His words were a serrated knife’s blade slicing through her.

Tell us about your latest project

Sunrise and Ashes, book 4 in The Chosen Legacy series is out 30th June 2023. Here's the blurb:

Ren uncovered the council’s deadly secret, and it means make or break for the resistance.

After experiencing the devastating capabilities of the combat-ready bioadvanced machines firsthand, the resistance and their allies realize that the council created the CAMs to wreak destruction wherever they cannot control.

The choice is clear: annihilate the technological monstrosities and their masters, or lose everything they’ve fought for.

Ren always knew getting out from under the thumb of the council carried a huge risk for everyone involved, but the price of overthrowing their overlords has become too high.

The oppressive rule of the council hangs heavy over Ren's head and the entire world. With the CAMs in their arsenal, innocent lives will be sacrificed, hopes destroyed, and families torn apart forever.

While some of the factions are prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice to prevent the council from succeeding, Ren refuses to spend the lives of the people they’ve been trying to free from tyranny.

Love is a choice Ren never believed she would make. The freedom she’s been fighting for is closer than ever, and so is her destruction.

Ren’s desperate search for hope uncovers an unexpected bond that could provide her with the answer she’s been looking for. But her solution could turn out to be more dangerous than the resistance’s plan.

With freedom within reach, she must make a decision that will define humanity’s future.

Can Ren bring an end to the council’s regime without paying for it in blood? If she can’t make the right choice, is she ready to lose someone again?

This series and its diverse cast of characters will resonate with readers because Ren wrestles with the same problem we do today: what do I do if the future I’m moving towards isn’t the future I want? 

What is your favourite cake?

That one is HARD because I love desserts. If I had to choose one, I would have to pick chocolate lava cake. Oh my lanta, the warm chocolate cake, the melted chocolate in the middle…then top it off with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Connect with Brittany here:

Join me next week when I will be having a slice of cake with J R Lancaster. 

If you would like to take part in A Slice of Cake With... please get in touch. 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. Never miss out on future posts by following me