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.