An Interview with the Author of “Under Your Skin” – Rose McClelland, and a Random Drawing @rosieamber1 @RoseMcClelland1

An Interview with the Author: Rose McClelland – Author – “Under Your Skin”

Question: How did this book came to be, what drove you to write the book?

Author pic

“When I wrote this book, I didn’t realise how apt it would be for lockdown”

When I sat down to write “Under your skin”, I obviously had no idea that we’d be in the middle of lockdown during publication. The fact that the main character is trapped indoors is eerily relevant.

Of course there are some differences – my main character is locked inside – whereas we are free to go for our daily walk each day and to pick up essentials.

However there are many similarities. The truth is, that this novel was inspired by the fact that I had started working from home several years before. When my boss first suggested that I could work from home, I jumped at the chance. No daily commute in the pouring rain? Yes please! Rolling out of bed at five to nine instead of the alarm clock blasting at 7am? Yes please again!

However, as the weeks and months rolled on, working from home became a bigger chore than I’d envisaged. I began to realise that all those small pockets of social interaction add up; the chat with the friendly barista in my favourite coffee shop when ordering my morning latte; the small talk with colleagues at the coffee dock; catching up with tit-bits of everyday chat – what their kids were up to, what was good on the tele the night before. Suddenly it was just me and the four walls.

It became a little bit like Stockholm syndrome. I knew I needed to make extra special effort to get out and meet people and to get some daily exercise but quite frankly, I couldn’t be bothered. I became lazy, introverted and even a little depressed. It affected my mental health.

And that’s when I began to write about Hannah being trapped in a basement. Who put her there? Why? And that’s how the story evolved.

Thankfully, I’m much more able to cope with working from home now. I know what works for me and what doesn’t. I know the things I need to do to look after my mental health. And so, in many ways, by the time lockdown came along, I was well and truly used to this way of living. And of course Zoom online meetings happened and that is wonderful because I connect with people more than ever on a daily basis.

When lockdown lifts, I’m looking forward to getting back to my hairdresser. God, I’ve missed her. But as for working from home, rolling out of bed at five to nine and missing the rainy commute, yeah, I’ll keep it.


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Random Drawing for two lucky winners, your choice of eBook or paperback.

Under Your Skin paperback cover

For a chance at your choice of an eBook or paperback copy of Under Your Skin,  please comment on this post and tell me “Do you like Psychological Thrillers, and if so, what draws you to them?”

I will randomly draw two names from the comments for winner’s on Saturday, June 20, 2020. It will be the winners choice of eBook or paperback copy.

Author Spotlight: E. L. Croucher Author of Honored Winged Blessed out now @TBOFmbs



About E L Croucher

E L Croucher is a young author, living in London. She started writing over two years, with her first novel The Butterfly on Fire, which she published on Amazon. Alongside her career as a writer, she works as a Japanese translator and interpreter for a well-known Japanese gaming company, after studying Japanese at university and living in Tokyo, Japan.

Her latest novel, Horned Winged Blessed is an ironic look into a world in which gender roles are swapped, and minorities are forced into labels that they did not choose. With a mix of feminist views and a pro-LGBTQ+ stance, E L Croucher writes to further her dream of a world free from prejudice, hate-crimes and bullying.

Follow her story on her website or find her on social media:
Instagram: @emi13230
Facebook: Emi Louise Croucher



Author Insights from the author of Sound by Catherine Fearns @rararesources @metalmamawrites #TuesdayBookBlog

How Walking Helps Me Write

“Methinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.”
Henry David Thoreau

There is currently a trend within non-fiction for books about walking. Writers such as Robert Macfarlane (with his elegiac modern classic The Old Ways) and Cheryl Strayed (whose hiking memoir Wild was made into a Hollywood movie) have spawned a veritable subgenre of books about why walking is good for the soul. And good for creativity – in particular literary creativity. This is nothing new, of course. Back in the eighteenth century Jean – Jacques Rousseau’s beautiful Reveries Of The Solitary Walker was a homage to wandering alone, while biographers have calculated that Romantic poet William Wordsworth clocked up 180,000 miles on foot in his lifetime.

Perhaps it’s frivolous, inconvenient – since walking is very time-consuming – but walking is absolutely essential to my writing process. To every stage of that writing process. Why?


Walking is when we do our best thinking, and that’s a biological fact. When we walk, the heart pumps faster, circulating more blood and oxygen to all the organs, including the brain. It improves memory, and stimulates new neuron connections. But unlike other forms of exercise, or driving, we don’t have to devote much attention to the act of walking. Our minds are gloriously free.

There’s a difference between the effects of urban and rural walking too. To ‘flaner’, or to wander aimlessly in the city, is an act of wide-eyed stimulation. Whereas to trod a well-known country path is to relax your mind, free from distractions.

When I was a child my family did a lot of hiking in the Lake District, and we would often walk in amicable silence, lost in our own thoughts. I came up with all sorts of abandoned childhood novels that way, but my first book, Reprobation, came to me aged 38 while I was alone in one of my other favourite walking places – Crosby Beach in Liverpool.


Location research is a great excuse to go for walks! My books are set in a real-life place, Liverpool, so it’s important that my locations, their descriptions, and the distances between them, are accurate. Before writing Sound, I spent many happy hours walking around central Liverpool, calculating how long it would take my villain to flee from Duke Street to Lime Street; whether you can see the Kingsway Tunnel vent from the Liver birds, etc etc. In a more general sense, it helps to just ‘be’ in different parts of the city, to get a feel for it.

I noticed that my characters do a lot of walking too; for example Darren on Crosby beach, Helen in the Formby pinewoods. It’s an opportunity for the characters, and therefore the readers, to process their thoughts. It’s also an opportunity to map out locations and distances for the reader.


The writing stage itself is very intense, and emotionally exhausting. Even at your most inspired, you are rarely going to write more than 3000 words of new stuff in a day. And while the physical act of doing that doesn’t take very long, there’s a necessary amount of faffing about that has to go on for the rest of the day. And it’s far healthier to faff about walking than faff about on social media. Although I do treat myself to a bit of social media too, to reconnect. I usually write out of the house, in coffee shops, so I plan my little walks with a destination in mind – the next coffee shop for example. This gives me a goal, something to look forward to, and when I arrive at the new change of scenery, my mind is fresh for the next onslaught.

Sound Fearns-square-web

A walking-reading list:

Jean-Jacques Rousseau ‘Reveries Of The Solitary Walker’
Henry David Thoreau ‘Walden’
Cheryl Strayed ‘Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail’
Geoff Nicholson ‘The Lost Art of Walking’
Rebecca Solnit ‘Wanderlust: A History of Walking’
Robert Macfarlane ‘The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot’
Stephen Graham ‘The Gentle Art of Tramping’
Lauren Elkin ‘Flaneuse: Woman Walk The City’
Kate Humble ‘Thinking On My Feet’

Guest Post: Michael Jenkins, Author of The Kompromat Kill @rararesources


It’s an honor to host Michael Jenkins, Author of The Kompromat Kill. I am enjoying the book and the suspense that is so prominent in this book. A unique mixture to be sure! 

The Kompromat adverts kompromat 7

The Kompromat Kill – Spies, Secrets, Bomb Disposal, and Forensics – a unique mixture

 For those that have read the book, I hope you enjoyed the mixture of geo-politics, mysterious locations, and the fascinating mission that Sean, the main character, has to achieve set against tumultuous odds. A task he felt was impossible from the outset.

I thought for many months about how I might fuse some of the modern-day geo-forensics and bomb disposal into such a story. I wanted to immerse the reader with a rich insight into the modern-day world of intelligence operations, from strategic level and national assets, right down to simple and applied forensics on the ground, with a smattering of bomb disposal scenes too. Of course, most spy and espionage novels don’t have such a unique mixture, so what led me to explore these themes?

For many of my years, I was privileged to serve on operations with some incredible forensic and bomb disposal experts, both during my days on counter terrorist operations with the police, and also on overseas operations acting with the intelligence services and the military. Hence nearly all of the search, EOD (explosive ordnance disposal) and forensic scenes are authentic, but have of course been adapted to ensure we retain integrity around procedures, and the need to reduce long forensics processes into scenes that will keep the reader’s attention.

I really enjoyed showing some of the capabilities of modern-day cyber operations – highly trained operators using cutting edge technology to conduct intelligence gathering roles in support of covert missions. It’s no secret that many of these techniques are employed by many nations, and there have been lost of media coverage and articles about the power of cyber operations, hacking, and stealing secrets that are embedded in servers, networks and IT systems.

But how does Sean use all these techniques and procedures to achieve the mission that Jack gave him on the sunny slopes of a mountain retreat in Italy?  One of the main themes here is that he needs trusted friends and experts to achieve the mission, something he could never do alone. And so he brings in his team of eclectic, erratic, and eccentric operators together. I loved creating their oddities in the first novel, The Failsafe Query, and then bring them together again for their second high-octane mission. Each of them are based on people I served with, and I blended in multiple characters to make them who they are today in the story. I always chuckle when I meet up with some of them for a drink and I’ve included most of their own personal traits into each character. The characters feel real because of it.

It was important to me that Sean did not become the tired ‘lone wolf’ superspy that you usually find in spy thrillers, but I wanted him to use his charisma and flair to lead a team of highly skilled geo-forensics and bomb disposal operators.  Sean is a highly skilled professional, who pulls off his missions by selecting and leading the right team of people for the job. He is flawed, he makes mistakes, pays his dues, and has to find ways to live with the extensive trauma his profession has caused him.

The activities of Sean on the hunt, are based upon my experiences of working in the world of bomb disposal and high-risk search for counter terrorist operations. But I adapted the principles to make a story out of it, and used the skills of what is known as Search Advisors to create the conditions for him to succeed. Police and military search advisors are those officers who conduct investigations into missing persons and finding criminal items – and they are superbly trained and lead the world in this type of activity.

It was great fun to blend in the military and geo-forensic aspects of the operation into the novel, and I hope you enjoy those scenes. What exactly does it all reveal though……the twists and turns will eventually lead you to a very dramatic finale. Sean’s route to success and contentment is blocked by many disturbing and hidden facets that he didn’t know were in play. It seems an almost impossible mission. And just as you thought it couldn’t be any worse, along comes a standoff that needs Sean to make the right decision.

Just as all seems lost, Sean senses an opportunity…….

The Kompromat Author Pic


I was introduced to Bry Ann when I read Roses & Thorns. I have since completed the series of Roses & Thorns and I have go on to read the following books that came from this series; Cut, Enzio, and the Shattered Duet. I have become a big fan of Bry Ann and need to find time to read some of her other books. Since I just finished reading Accepted & Rebuilt, the second book in the Shattered Duet, I wanted to do a spotlight on Bry Ann.

The second book in the Shattered Duet is coming out on November 23, 2018. Please pick it up and read it. If you like dark romance, mafia, suspense, and books with strong women who can bring powerful men to their knees, then you will love the Roses & Thorns Series as well as the Shattered Duet.

Roses & Thorns


So, how I get inspired is always a little weird and random. Roses & Thorns took a complete life of its own. Rose is actually a character from another book of mine that I have not released yet. I really liked her and her sweet disposition so decided to make her the staring character in the mafia romance I’d been desperate to write, as is the trend right now.

As the story progressed two other characters, the ‘Boss’ and Lacey, really stole my heart. Lacey especially. They became just as imperative to the story and it suddenly became this twisted double romance, haha.

As for Nix and Sage and the Shattered Duet, originally I was writing Nix’s book because I loved his personality and his relationship to his serial killer father. That fascinated me. On the side of that, I’d ALWAYS wanted to write a book that sheds some light on human trafficking. Helping trafficking survivors is a major passion of mine. It’s something I care about more than I can express. When it came time to write Nix & Sage’s story, I knew the ideas were meant to blend. Everything about Sage’s actions and scars lent to her having a past of being trafficked and surviving. No, thriving. In time. ❤


Roses & Thorns inspired their story. I would have never known about Nix if it weren’t for Roses & Thorns BUT Sage’s story would have always been told. She may not have known Nix, which would have been tragic for her and left her story lacking, but her story is one I’ve had on my heart for years.

But generally, yes, Roses & Thorns inspired the Shattered Duet. 🙂

Thank you so much!

xx- Bry Ann


Spotlight on Author of Reprobation, Catherine Fearns on her writing habits

This post has been written exclusively for Sassy Redhead Book Reviews. Thank you very much for the opportunity!  

Catherine Fearns: My Writing Habits

I write in snatches; snatches of time, snatches of space. I never have a free day to myself, and there’s no private space at home, so I am an opportunistic, furtive, stealth writer; words always at the ready in my head. Five minutes in a supermarket queue is a chance to type a few lines on my phone. Ten minutes sitting in the school car park and I can jot a paragraph in my notebook.  These writing habits are not borne of choice but of necessity. I’m a stay-at-home mother with four small children so my time is constrained by their needs, which are immense and different every day. But I don’t lament this at all; indeed if I wasn’t in this position I’m sure I wouldn’t have become a writer. When I had a normal job, a long time ago now, my head would be filled with that all day, and in the evening I would flop, mentally exhausted, in front of the television to clear my mind and regroup. There was no room for anything else, other than vague fantasies. But now I grab each tiny moment of headspace in my day – a toddler napping, a baby breastfeeding, a child late out of karate class – I combine it with my craving for creative stimulation, and words come together.

If I did have a whole day stretched out before me to write, I would probably waste half of it messing about on social media and procrastinating. As it is, I am focused and efficient, carrying a notebook wherever I go; in fact I find that the discipline of writing long-hand helps my focus. If I have research to do then I make sure the relevant books or print-outs are in my handbag just in case I get a chance to read. I have never considered using a dictation app, because I absolutely loathe the sound of my own voice! In any case, I’m a very fast typist and it takes me only minutes to type up the day’s scribbles on my laptop before bed; sometimes it is just lists of words, phrases and ideas, sometimes concrete paragraphs. But it builds and moulds and eventually a coherent story is formed. I would much rather end a day with 1000 words of drivel than one or two perfect sentences, so I don’t worry too much about getting it right in the early drafts.

I do my best writing when I’m out of the house; at home I have to write at the kitchen table and am distracted by household tasks and the internet. I prefer to go out and find a public space, and I discovered that I prefer nondescript, bland, liminal spaces to atmospheric or beautiful ones. My city is filled with hipster coffee shops and lake view cafes, but I find them distracting and I feel exposed; I prefer fast-food joints, train stations, park benches; places where I can tune out of the world and sit unnoticed. My current favourite writing location is the McDonalds inside my local indoor shopping centre. Cavernous, windowless, with the white noise of piped music and some surprisingly decent coffee, I go very quickly into a sort of writing trance. I can get down 1000 quality words an hour in there, and then do the grocery shopping on my way out.

I have only been writing seriously for a couple of years. There was never a moment when I decided to write a novel, I just suddenly had the urge to write, perhaps because it was the only thing I could do in the short bursts of time available. It began with a blog. The age of thirty-seven was a vulnerable time in my life; pregnant with an unexpected fourth child, a husband often absent with work, a few months from yet another move to another country as a trailing spouse, and the knowledge that I was still very far away from being able to return to the career I always thought I would have. I began writing the blog as a sort of diary, and the style was light-hearted but looking back, it was infused with pain and possibly some postnatal depression. The blog took its toll on my already-strained marriage, since my husband was suspicious of what on earth I was getting up to on my computer late at night. Sometimes I would wait until he had gone to sleep then sneak back downstairs so he wouldn’t know. When I finally showed him my writing he was very hurt; I hadn’t mentioned him or the children in the blog, but he still saw the outpouring of feeling as a betrayal. There was nothing suspicious about it though; for me this was a necessary catharsis, and in contrast to an outpouring it was in fact a taking back of the private life I had been denied for a long time. The blog coincided with me learning to play the electric guitar and rekindling my childhood love of heavy metal, so it became a sort of metal-parenting blog, and eventually led to me getting work as an online music journalist. This is where my writing confidence really took off; not only was my work being validated by real journalists, but it was being professionally edited, an essential lesson in discipline after the unwieldy freedom of a personal blog.

Reprobation was not my first attempt at a novel; a 60,000-word manuscript for ‘The Veilmaker’ lies hidden password-protected beneath a series of subfolders on my laptop. This was the unpublished novel where I taught myself how to write. I cringe to think that I actually submitted it to a few agents, and it has now been abandoned. Soon after though, the idea for Reprobation came to me unannounced, and I knew this one had potential. The book was written in a matter of weeks, in a flurry of inspiration, and fortunately was picked up by a publisher very quickly. No doubt in a couple of years I will cringe when I read over Reprobation as well.

My writing style is still developing. When I was a teenager my style was more florid and descriptive, but after university I became a financial risk analyst and any literary tendencies were quickly beaten out of me by the need for precision, conciseness and legal accuracy. I am still trying to get away from this enforced brevity, and my main problem with the first draft of Reprobation was that it was simply too short; I had said all I thought I needed to say in 50,000 words. With its sequel, Consuming Fire, I can feel myself becoming more expansive and descriptive; plus, I’m using some more experimental literary techniques, since part of the book is a gothic ‘found text’, so I’m writing some extracts in eighteenth century pastiche.

If I were to write this post one year from now it might be completely different. So far I have managed to become a writer, of sorts, without impacting too much on my husband and children, but I am starting to yearn for more structure and more time. I do feel that if I had longer periods in which to work I would reach coherence more quickly. I may have gotten away with one furtively written novel, but I can’t carry on sneaking around between McDonalds and the school car park and expecting to be a serious novelist. With the publication of Reprobation in October and Consuming Fire in February, the next few months are going to be seminal, and I can’t wait to see what’s around the corner.



Guest Spotlight for Blog Tour of: THE OTHER VICTIM by Helen H. Durrant

blog tour banner - THE OTHER VICTIM

My interest in family history began because of my odd surname. Depending on the pronunciation it could sound French. During the war my father was in Paris with the rest of his troop after D-Day. He met a family with the same surname and they let him stay with them. Months later, the young lady of the house was still writing to him, much to my mother’s disapproval! I was intrigued. I determined to find out if we did in fact have a French background. Not something I have got to the bottom of, but it is possible the name is Huguenot.

When I started on this quest – and that’s what it is because Family History is a life’s work – there was no internet. All research had to be done by turning pages, searching through the physical archives. I’ve been to St. Catherine’s House in London, umpteen parish churches to trawl through their baptism records and then finally I discovered the Mormon church and their archive.

However, one of the best starting points is the family. Advice – ask, ask and ask again. Get as much info from elderly relatives as you can. Names, places, rumour and gossip. One day it will pay dividends.

I won’t bore you with a blow by blow account but I have discovered a great deal. My ancestors were ordinary folk working hard for a living, and desperately trying to make ends meet. They lived in Macclesfield in Cheshire. A town famous for the manufacture of silk. The women worked as ‘throwster’ or ‘piercers’, and the men, ‘weavers’.



You can see the Durrant family about a third down.

The only two that had money emigrated to the USA in the eighteenth century. Caroline Durrant, and a few years later her sister, Kate. Kate left under a cloud and took her older sister, Caroline’s name. Even today I have difficulty trying to persuade her descendants that she is really Kate and not big sister. They don’t believe a word of the tale I told them!

Caroline moved to a town called Paterson, New Jersey. A number of Macclesfield folk moved here. I believe it too manufactured silk. Caroline went with her husband to start a new life. She prospered and went home to Macclesfield often. Kate, set off on her own and made her own way.




Kate Durrant is one of the more colourful among my ancestors. A pretty girl, with dark hair, she found herself pregnant at twenty. Not unusual, it had happened to one of her sisters and the family had rallied round. But they ostracised Kate. She was forced to give birth in Macclesfield workhouse. Why? I asked myself. What was the story here?

Kate Durrant was ‘lodging’ with her big sister, Eliza. One day Eliza returned home from the silk factory early and found Kate in bed with her husband. She kept him but threw poor Kate out. When she found herself pregnant it was accepted that the child was Eliza’s husbands and the family wanted nothing to do with her. The poor child died in the workhouse and is buried in a common grave in Macclesfield cemetery.

Kate must have been at rock bottom at that point. She made the decision to emigrate to the US. She landed at Ellis Island and set about finding a husband. She married well. Gave birth to two daughters and was pampered by her American husband’s family for the rest of her life.



Today we have the internet and sites like Find My Past and Ancestry, plus the free ones, like Family Search. Here you can find births, marriages and deaths, parish records and the census information. All of it vital to the family historian.



GUEST POST FROM S. C. CUNNINGHAM @rararesources @SCCunningham8

Crime Investigator & Crime Author S C Cunningham

Unfinished Business – Book II of The David Trilogy


Sowing the seed for The David Trilogy

The Penance List, Unfinished Business, For My Sins (in progress)



I’m lazy, I tend to write what I know; my storylines are founded on real life experiences.

From a very young age I’ve always known that my job in life was to entertain. To drag folk kicking and screaming into a world of escapism, to situations they’ve never experienced before and have them championing characters, willing them on and punching the air with a “Yesss!”

When building a character I draw on observations of people I know or have closely watched, it’s easier to write from truth.  Luckily, I’ve had a hectic life path, worked in a few fascinating industries, and been able to study a wide range of characters – some glamorous, some inspiring and some downright evil.

In a nutshell my path has been – am British born of Irish parents, was plonked from the age of 8yrs into an Irish Catholic Nuns Boarding School then on to College. After a short spell of studying law (realising there is too much injustice in our systems) I went on to work as a fashion model, married a rock musician and worked in the music to film production industry. Got divorced and then as a single mum worked within football, sports celebrity management, horseracing/tennis/golf events, children’s charities, and more recently for the Police as a Crime Investigator – Intel Analyst, Major Crime Team, Wanted and Absconder Units.

For the past ten years I’ve been drawing on these experiences to write steamy Psychological Thrillers The David Trilogy and gritty Paranormal Crime Romance The Fallen Angel Series.

The David Trilogy was kick-started by an incident that happened to me in my twenties when I was living in London. Quite frighteningly and out of the blue, I crossed paths with a prolific serial attacker who targeted single girls living alone in basement flats in Notting Hill and Olympia. It was then that I realised evil can sit around any corner, learn to trust you gut.

This male haunted London for a long period of time; he was astute, studied his victims for days and avoided capture. I believe he attacked 14 or so women, luckily I got away unscathed (must have an Angel looking out for me) and managed to help Police ID him with a photo fit. He was a nice looking, well dressed, calm, cold, precise and unhurried. He didn’t say a word, just stared, seeming to revel in the fear he instilled.

I remember looking into his face and asking why? I needed to understand how a human could be that cruel to another. He had the look of a spoilt mother’s boy; I guessed his mother must have loved him at some stage, but what life changing event or who had turned him from a sweet little boy into an evil adult? The seed for complex protagonist David Howard was sown.

Using a mix of my own experiences (nuns, boarding school, modelling, the press, celebrity management and fun loving career girlfriends) I created a fantasy world of manipulation, shining a light on the ripple effect carnage that the misuse of power, religion and passion can cause.

I enjoy complex characters that slowly reveal themselves, are not who they seem and engage with the reader, pulling at heartstrings and worst fears. I try to create a person who the reader would either like to hang out with or see as their worst enemy. Someone they feel empathy for and understand their choices, right or wrong. Someone they champion.

And because I’m an old romantic who loves a bit of drama, my books also have to have a few oh-so-sexy personalities with complicated love lives, evil exes, edge of seat fear, twists, turns, steamy romances and cheeky laugh out loud banter.

Working on a series allows you to build characters that hopefully people will fall in love with and get excited about. David is a very bad person, but fans often write saying they’re hooked; they love his charismatic charm warts and all, and can’t wait to see what he does next. They understand and champion the boy, but fear the man he has become.

Book I of the trilogy, The Penance List, has been adapted to film script, so we may see David on our screens one day. I love working on this character so much that I have dragged him into The Fallen Angel Series where he causes a bit of more chaos in the skies.

Pleased be warned, The David Trilogy is a sexy thriller, think Psycho meets 50 Shades. It can be a little naughty at times and may not be for everyone. But if you’re brave enough, grab a glass of vino, close the bedroom door and read alone.

Thank you for joining me and remember to follow that gut of yours, it’s the strongest tool in the box.


S C Cunningham Unfinished Business Author Poc


The David Trilogy – The Penance List, Unfinished Business, For My Sins (in progress).

The Fallen Angel Series – The Deal, Karma (in progress).


If you would like to find out more, would love to have you link up on social media.


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I am pleased to host Sue Bentley, the author of “We Other” for a Guest Post on her writing routine. @rararesources @suebentleywords #WeOther

We Other - Sue author pic 5

My writing routine – Sue Bentley

I write something every day. When I’m hard at work on a novel, I aim for around 1,000 words, at a stretch. If things are going well, I sometimes do more – but I find it works for me to stop in the middle of a scene or even a sentence. That way, when I return to the narrative the following morning, I’m not faced with a blank page. Carrying on from where I left off, tricks me into believing that I’m straight into ‘proper’ writing – even if I might have to go back and forth through the text to pick up the thread.

I do my best work in the mornings and try to stay off social media or dealing with emails until the afternoon. Not always successfully, I admit.  If I’ve been invited as a guest by a book blogger or someone’s been kind enough to post a review, I’ll be tempted to re-tweet it and say how delighted I am. Reviews in particular are so important for an author, because they really help with book sales and to get the title onto best-selling book lists. After you get a certain number, Amazon with promote the book. That’s how you get to see books images as ‘you might also enjoy’ titles, when browsing or buying books online. I used to think this happened by magic.

So I attempt to tear myself away from any such bookish business, and discipline myself to do some proper work. I remind myself it’s better to write rubbish (it’s usually better than I think when I re-read it the following day) than to write nothing and then feel annoyed for having made no progress.

Even though I’ve been published for over twenty years and have written a lot of books for children, YA and adults, I still struggle to be disciplined and find the impetus to keep on and finish a book. Every book throws up its own challenge. I find it easier to apply myself when I have a deadline, but it’s been a while now since I’ve been commissioned to write a novel. So when writing ‘on spec’ I have to keep faith with my WIP and just write the best novel I can. I’m a perfectionist, so a first draft will have had many re-writes and edits before I submit it to my agent. Some parts of my WIP will have been seen by members of a monthly writers group. It’s so helpful to have Beta readers to give constructive criticism and toss ideas around.

I don’t have a particular reader in mind while writing. I write the sort of books I enjoy reading. I like to read about strong characters who are often troubled or fighting their own demons. I like rich, complex settings. These can be contemporary, historical or fantasy, but there has to be an element of suspense or danger, and a definite broad brush-stroke of darkness and hint of the extraordinary.

If I reach a sticking point in my WIP, I might write a new chapter to slot in at a later date. Or work on a short story or a feature, or the content for an author event. I might research something for a later scene or work on the outline of my next book. I find that exercising the ‘writing muscle’ in any way staves off the dreaded writer’s block. If I really can’t move the narrative forward, I’ll go for a walk. Which I find clears my head – something about the movement and fresh air allows ideas to rise and take shape. If all else fails, reading a good book always work for me. Something I read might inspire a chapter or relate to one of my characters. Just a word or phrase might provide the basis for a fresh scene.

I need my own writing space, where everything’s to hand. My spacious workroom looks out onto the front garden. A wildlife hedge has grown into tall tree cover, so I’m semi-secluded, but can see people walking past. I like the feeling of being in the world, but not off the world.

I type straight onto my desktop PC with its lovely big monitor at eye level, to reduce neck and eye strain. On my desk it’s organised chaos, with stacks of research books, containers of pens and pencils and piles of scribbled notes on scraps of paper. There’s a print-out of my WIP, once I’m reasonably happy with them. Like many authors, I hold a lot of the book in my head and I like to see the pile growing. It makes the book seem more real.

I have far too many books. My bookcases and full and there are stacks of books on the floor. I cannot resist buying books or rather I choose not to. It means that inspiration is all around me. And the crammed shelves of my own novels and many foreign editions remind me on bad days that I’ve done this before and can do so again.


Thank you so much for hosting me on the We Other blog tour.


A spot light on Susan Sage, and my review of A Mentor and Her Muse, by Susan Sage @SusanSage #TuesdayBookBlog

I would like to Spot Light Susan Sage, Author of “A Mentor and Her Muse”.

I asked Susan how she came to write “A Mentor and Her Muse”, and if she had a muse when writing this story, who it might have been:

I’ve often heard that novels begin with questions, so here were a few of mine: What would it be like to spontaneously take a road trip? Where would I go and who would I want to go with? I’ve always enjoyed traveling, though trips I’ve taken with my husband have always been pretty well-planned out – especially longer ones. It was easier for me to write about places in Ohio because I’d been there, but well into the first few drafts of the novel, I’d never been to North Carolina. Internet research came in handy regarding a few of the places I wrote about, though I have to admit that the area I wrote about outside of Asheville was a little less populated in my imagination. Also, I’ve never taken a long road trip by myself, though it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. What prevents me is that, like my main character, Maggie, I don’t like driving much. However, she’s definitely the sort who can ‘throw caution to the wind’ way more than me. She doesn’t back away from obstacles, even if it means breaking the law, something I would never do. She chooses Taezha to accompany her primarily because she regards ‘Tae’ as her muse. But I don’t think I would’ve had Maggie take the trip, had it not been for Tae.

My muse for the novel was a girl, younger than Tae by a few years. I met her at an urban school where I was an educational coordinator.  I coordinated field trips, tutored, and ran an after-school program. One of the fifth graders in the program was a girl who had just discovered that she wanted to become a writer. She often stopped by my desk with her poems or stories, and it impressed her because I read what she wrote with interest and my full attention. Who doesn’t want to be taken seriously? She knew I had published some of my writing and had lots of questions. Yet it wasn’t simply her writing interest that caused her to become my muse. She had this great, positive energy, and a lovely laugh! After I left my job to work at another school, I lost touch with her, but her memory burned bright – and it was then she became my muse and I came up with the idea for A Mentor and Her Muse.

I had little doubt who would accompany Maggie on her journey. (Tae was definitely more an older version of the girl from the north side of Flint than Maggie was me.) I’ve had way more mentors in my life than muses. The trick of having a muse is that we can’t get to know them too well; if we do, they can no longer fulfill that role – or at least not as well. Hope this isn’t too much of a spoiler alert!

A Mentor and Her Muse

My Review:

Taezha Riverton, a young girl who wants to become a writer. She lives in Flint Michigan. She’s a bright girl, a talented young writer, and according to Maggie, an “intellectually curious” young girl. She lives with her mother and three sisters, although she questions whether Quintana is actually her mother. Taezha befriends Maggie Bennett, a woman in her 50’s who works at the school Taezha attends. Taezha (Tae) has discovered in Maggie something that has been missing since her Aunt Serafina died. She looks to Maggie as an Aunt, and she finally feels like someone cares about her.

Maggie Barnett works at Jefferson Middle & High School in the library. She has met several smart and talented students, but none have effected her as Tae has. Maggie is a woman who is rarely settled in her life, she published a book and just about the time she thought it was beginning to take off and become a top seller, it stopped. Maggie decides that she wants to take Tae on a road trip and help her become a great writer by seeing life and living in on the road. She also tells Tae that she will take her to meet her Uncle Tyler, a very good friend of Tae’s Aunt Serafina.

This was a different story from what I normally read, but it was a good read. I found myself questioning Maggie’s motives of going on the road trip with Tae. Was she really looking at Tae as her Muse, or was she trying to find something that was missing from her life, like a family? It is clear that Maggie cares for Tae, but is it a healthy relationship for either of them? Is Maggie trying to recover her youth, her writing, or a family that she was denied for so many years due to her lack of finding the right man for her, and the fact that she has no living children of her own. I give this book a 4 star review. Ms. Sage did a great job of painting the picture for this book. Her description of Maggie was so detailed that I could almost see her in front of me.

If you enjoy women’s fiction and psychological novels, this is a good book to read. It a book about social norms, obsession, and the ambition to succeed.