#GuestPost “Wicked Writing Skills – Activity Book for ages 7+” by Lexi Rees

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Thanks so much for inviting me to join you today to chat about the inspiration behind my new kids activity book – Wicked Writing Skills.

My first creative writing book, Creative Writing Skills, is a best-seller and has now been translated into German and Italian, whilst the Spanish edition will be released in early 2021. That book focuses on fiction writing, i.e. what a parent would normally associate with “creative” writing, but I always wanted to build on this. 

Creative Writing

Non-fiction writing is such an important skill, not just as part of the curriculum, but in life, but I realised there were no creative writing activity books for children on the market that show them how to approach all these topics. Whilst Wicked Writing Skills explores opinions, debates, persuasive writing, instructions, news reporting, and marketing.

Although my first published book was fiction, I’ve always loved the non-fiction side of writing. When I was ten, I wanted to be a journalist, in fact my first “job” (work experience whilst still at school) was in the offices of my local newspaper. Anyway, despite studying Journalism, my writing went in a different direction and I ended up working in corporate and investor communications. I’ve also had articles published on a freelance basis, but I never ended up working as a full-time journalist.

The pair of books, Creative Writing Skills and Wicked Writing Skills, therefore, play to both of my passions – as a fiction author and as a corporate comms person!

Over the summer holidays I ran a series of kids creative writing camps, via Zoom for obvious lockdown reasons, including one on news reporting which proved really popular. Over half term, I ran a Hogwarts inspired creative writing course, and two of the most popular activities (as voted by the kids) were being Rita Skeeter (i.e. news reporting) and potions class (i.e. instruction writing).

I really hope Wicked Writing Skills inspires youngsters and helps them gain confidence in every aspect of their writing, regardless of the format.


Wicked Writing Skills: Over 90 non-fiction activities for children

Writing is like a spell. It can melt hearts and fry brains, twisting and turning as the magic works.

Want the world to fall at your feet, destroyed by the might of your pen?

– Sharpen your powers of persuasion

– Sky-rocket your debating skills

– Add ooomph to your reports

– And lots more!

Packed with top tips, this awesome workbook has everything you need to know to become a WICKED WRITER.

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Win an activity book – Wicked Writing Skills (UK Only)


Author Bio

Lexi Rees

Lexi Rees was born in Scotland but now lives down south. She writes action-packed adventures brim full of witch-doctors, fortune-tellers, warriors and smugglers, combining elemental magic with hints of dystopia. She also writes fun activity books for children. 

Her fantasy adventure, Eternal Seas, was awarded a “loved by” badge from LoveReading4Kids. The sequel, Wild Sky, is available now. 

She’s passionate about developing a love of reading and writing in children and, as well as her Creative Writing Skills workbook, she has an active programme of school visits and other events, is a Book PenPal for three primary schools, and runs a free online #kidsclub and newsletter which includes book recommendations and creative writing activities.

In her spare time, she’s a keen crafter and spends a considerable amount of time trying not to fall off horses or boats.

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#GuestPost ‘One Simple Trick for Writing’ by Jessica Jiji, author of “How to Judge a Book by Its Lover”

There is no ideal environment for writing, but there is one simple trick.

You can travel to a mountain retreat for a private room splashed in sunshine, the perfectly clean desk holding your fully charged laptop – and still have no idea where to begin.

Or if you prefer the invisible bustle of intellectual energy, you can get the best carrel at the library or most choice spot at the café, steeped in an atmosphere of collective thought – and still feel completely stuck.

That’s when you reach for the easy hack: be grateful for that struggle, not in some new-age sense where you thank the universe for what is actually driving you crazy, but with a very practical approach where you mine your trouble for material.

primroseFelicia Denise hints at this concept in her novel Free when a son relates the characteristics of perennials to his mother’s strength.

“Perennials are sturdy and thrive in adverse conditions,” he says. “Some flower bulbs need to be dug up and stored during winter. But perennials’ roots run deep. They grab hold of the earth and pull nutrients from it. They learn to get by with less and sustain themselves. As the weather warms up, perennials wake up and let their buds grow until their blossoms burst forth in the warmth of the sun. Perennials are some of the most beautiful flowers you’ll ever see.”

This resonated deeply with me, recalling a passage written by my Buddhist mentor, Daisaku Ikeda, whose profound writings I encountered when I took faith in Buddhism at the age of 17:

“Flowers appeal to us because they bloom only after a long, persevering peonystruggle. Beautiful colors and sweet perfume are the crystallization of the wisdom of flowering plants to survive. They attract insects that spread pollen and seeds, thereby contributing to their proliferation. Flowers are tough, sometimes even tougher than people; they are contenders who fight to win. They teach us this lesson: to live is to fight.”

A contemporary author and a Buddhist philosopher reflecting on the power of flowers to endure and encourage both seem to see the very struggle of these blossoms to survive as the source of their beauty.

For me, anyway, struggle drives the drama that inspires art.

Maybe this is on my mind because I listened to a lecture by a screenwriting expert last week who opened with that basic question: what does every story have?

It is an answer we all know: conflict.

No one wants to read a novel where, metaphorically, the paint just dries, even if that’s in a stunning mansion.

As a writer, you can be glad for all the crazy experiences in life because instead of being mere problems they suddenly become material. As a reader, you can relate to the conflict when the pages come alive in your imagination.

My latest novel, How to Judge a Book by its Lover, centers on a character who has some rough family relationships, a turns-out-to-be toxic friend, plenty of romantic struggles and a ton more rejection. Fiction? Sure, but inspired by fact. Writing it helped me to shift perspective on all those elements from my own life. Hopefully, the novel will give others who aren’t sitting in their pretty mansions watching the paint dry a chance to laugh at what’s familiar and love the way it can turn out.

A big dream, wrapped in a comedy, inside an unexpected romance….

Lucien Brosseau: those blue eyes, that thick hair, his messy shirts – Laurel Linden dreams of the chance to kiss a guy as sophisticated as he’s sexy. But while Lucien is a Belgian art critic raised in Nicaragua, Laurel barely escaped the suburbs of Long Island with dreams of publishing her hilariously messy, 600-page historical novel about Napoleon Bonaparte’s hairdresser. At least she loves her day job walking adorable puppies, and when she finds Vanessa – a wise mentor – they’re off on a wild ride through New York City’s hottest clubs and coolest boutiques. Along the way, Laurel’s dreams start to come true but she’s shocked by just how. That’s when she gets an even bigger prize: the one truth that always brings happiness in life, but only if you earn it.






Meet Jessica!

Jessica JijiI. Love. Readers! You are part of an awesome tribe. And I am one of you. My mother always told me we could travel far with books. Long before there were virtual tours and Google Earth, she introduced me to books that transported me across seas and centuries. One of my favorites is “The Alexandria Quartet,” a set of four linked novels set in Egypt. If you haven’t read them, that’s at least one recommendation I can offer by way of thanks for visiting this website.

Like parents everywhere, my father used to tell me bedtime stories. Being Iraqi, he made up tales about a brave girl named Cassima. Instead of starting with “Once Upon a Time…” he would open with the line, “I was a cook for the Queen of Iraq…” The cook was never much good at fighting off bandits or protecting the palace but Cassima would swoop in and save the day. I was mesmerized.

Somewhere between being raised on the power of reading and those imaginative tales, I started writing. As a die-hard fan of rom-coms, I try to capture the heartache and the happiness, the meaning and the madness of life. Sometimes, I cross continents and decades to write about the Arabic culture I was raised to revere. Other times, I stick with here and now, where contemporary love meets timeless desire. Either way, it’s a journey we’re on together.

To readers everywhere, I offer my gratitude, solidarity and allegiance. You rock.

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#GuestPost “Eris Rising” by Courtney Ramm

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10 Things Reader’s Would Be Surprised To Know About You

by Courtney Ramm

  1. I started taking writing classes at eight years old. (I went to a summer program in Long Island, NY where we had to pick a major and minor. My major was dance and minor was creative writing.)
  2. I grew up in a Buddhist family in the middle of NYC.
  3. My first aspiration (at 5 years old) was to be a chef, inspired by my dad’s daily gourmet cooking for our family. By age 9, I had devoted myself to becoming a ballet dancer.
  4. I went through an anti-technology phase in my twenties where I refused to own a smartphone.
  5. I healed myself of severe health issues, after traveling around the world seeking answers to chronic conditions.
  6. I lived off-grid in a treehouse in the jungle Hawaii with my hippie boyfriend.
  7. I lived on a cruise ship, sailing the Caribbean for months on end.
  8. I gave my birth to my son at home in water.
  9. I ride a kick scooter to get around faster (and sometimes just for fun!)
  10. I wrote my memoir while I had a newborn and 1-year old baby as a single mom. (It wasn’t easy!)


Date Published: September 1
Publisher: Acorn Publishing
Warrior’s aren’t born, they are forged from the harsh experiences that shape them as they strive to defend what is sacred and true. And geniuses aren’t born either—or are they? Courtney Ramm would know, as she’s one of 229 offspring born from the controversial “Genius Sperm Bank”, a genetic experiment that existed in the 1980s and ‘90s. With a predisposition for “genius”, Courtney found herself driven toward success. Following her passion for dance, by the age of eight she was studying at the renowned School of American Ballet and soon thereafter, performing on New York’s greatest stages. At twenty-five years old, she acted upon a strong inner calling to start her own dance company—in Hawaii.
Moving across the globe from the concrete jungle of Manhattan to the tropical jungle in Hawaii, Courtney brought along her endless to-do lists and a strong determination to succeed. But one thing was missing from the picture-perfect life she had imagined: a perfect husband.
When she first locked eyes with Marcus at a spiritual gathering, she sensed something was off in the uncanny intensity of his stare. But she dove into a relationship anyway, not grasping the graveness and outright danger of the decision.
Eris Rising is a story of breaking deep karmic patterns, grappling with the calling of destiny, and changing long-held karma into mission. With the powerful feminine warrior spirit of Eris as inspiration, this memoir shows how it’s possible to move forward after life-altering “mistakes”, and recover the true “genius” within.


About the Author

Born and raised in the heart of New York City, Courtney Ramm has followed her passion for dance since childhood, which led to a career as a professional dancer, choreographer, and teacher. She’s directed dance schools, performed, and taught all over the world, from Singapore to Thailand to Manhattan.
With her Master’s degree in Dance Education, Courtney has led wellness retreats in Hawaii, focusing on empowerment and transformation. Courtney is the founder and artistic director of RammDance, a non-profit dedicated to keeping the legacy of modern dance pioneer Isadora Duncan alive. She blends her love of dance with holistic healing, and is a certified Pilates instructor, Yoga teacher, Ayurvedic consultant, Theta healer, Master Detox Chef, and Reiki practitioner.
Alongside her focused training and career in dance, writing has always been one of Courtney’s passions. She knew she would write a book—although she never imagined her memoir would take such a twisted turn.
Courtney is a full-time single mama to two toddlers. Eris Rising is her first book.
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#GuestPost “I Love You Always” by LaBena Fleming

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10 Things I Didn’t Know About Becoming a Self-Published Author

By:  LaBena Fleming

When I first made it known I was writing my non-fiction book, I Love You Always, One Family’s Alzheimer’s/Dementia Journey and the Lessons Learned Along the Way, I allowed others to convince me that traditional publishers would have no interest due to my lack of a “substantial” social media following.  Believing what I was told, I decided that I would self-publish.  Knowing little to nothing about the publishing and self-publishing industry, I spent several months conducting research.  I was determined to put out a high-quality book.  Below are some of the things I learned.

  •  If you believe in your book and are not in a hurry to have it published, go through the experience of seeking an agent and pursuing a publisher.  All they can do is tell you no, it’s free, and nothing, other than possibly your pride, will be lost in the process. With traditional publishing, you’ll have the opportunity to earn much more than you spend.
  • Beware of Vanity Presses.  A Vanity Press is a publishing company that you pay to publish your book.  They are not concerned about the quality of your book, or the appeal of your story.  If you are willing to pay, they will publish your book.  Run!
  • Writing your book is the easiest piece of self-publishing.  Once you have written your story, the work of polishing, publishing, and promoting begins and that’s no easy task.
  • Don’t discount the importance of trusted Beta Readers.  My first group of Beta Readers identified a problem with the flow of my story.  Although I hated the feedback, because I liked my story the way it was written, I heeded their advice and rewrote it.  My second group of Beta Readers loved the rewrite, so I’m happy I followed the advice of the first group. 
  • A quality editor is one of your most important investments.  No matter how many times I read through my story, I needed fresh eyes to edit and offer advice.  I believe that one of the quickest ways to end your writing career is to put out a product filled with grammatical and spelling errors.  Your book is a reflection of you.  Invest in yourself.
  • Invest in a high-quality book cover that will look good as a thumbnail.  Your book cover is your first impression.  Is the cover representative of your content?  Many people disregard books solely because they don’t like the cover.  “You only get one chance to make a first impression.”
  • You don’t “need” to purchase your ISBN, but doing so expands the reach of your book.  I published on Amazon’s KDP, which offers free ISBNs.  Accepting their ISBN meant that my book could only be distributed by Amazon or an Amazon distributor.
  • Securing reviews before publishing is very helpful, especially if your goal is to become a best-selling new release author.  Seek social media influencers who are willing to read and promote your book.  Order and send ARC’s (Advance Review Copies). 
  • Understanding book categories is extremely important, especially if your goal is to become a best-selling new release.  Study books that are similar to yours and monitor their rankings over time.  You want to categorize your book where it is appropriate and you have the best chance of becoming a best seller.
  • Marketing is a full-time job and there is life after the launch.  Be ready to put in the work to keep your book visible in the field of millions of other books.  You will need to invest both time and money to do this.


One Family’s Alzheimer’s/Dementia Journey

and the Lessons Learned Along the Way


Date Published: July 10, 2020

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I Love You Always introduces you to Lottie Mae Polk Berry, a self-proclaimed badass who battles Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia for years, hoping to make it to age 90. Her daughter, LaBena, gives a detailed account of Lottie’s life from her teenage years, through diagnosis and beyond. 

I Love You Always will have you on an emotional roller-coaster as Lottie’s wit and antics send you into hysterical laughter one moment and leave you silently sobbing the next. Calm, turbulence, and laughter are recurring themes throughout. 

Her children struggle to see that she receives the best medical care while hoping, in spite of her condition, that she makes it to her 90th birthday. LaBena shares valuable caregiver tips she’s learned, in the form of “lessons” throughout the book as well messages of faith in the form of beloved biblical passages. Believers and non-believers alike can benefit from reading this story. 

About the Author

LaBena Fleming was born in Detroit, Michigan, raised in Ravenna, Ohio, and presently resides in Richmond Heights, Ohio with her husband. LaBena received her bachelor’s degree in Human Resources Development from Notre Dame College of Ohio. She went on to earn master’s degrees in Education and Educational Administration from Ursuline College in Pepper Pike, Ohio. A former insurance industry professional, school teacher/administrator, and community education and outreach coordinator for an organ and tissue procurement organization, LaBena retired from her position as Provider Relations Manager/Community Outreach and Education Coordinator with Hospice of the Western Reserve in 2017. Retiring afforded LaBena the opportunity to serve as one of the caregivers for her mother, who had Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia. 

LaBena currently enjoys spending time with her husband, daughters, and granddaughter, public speaking, gardening, cooking, traveling, reading, and of course writing. Although she has always “dabbled” in writing; having written multiple poems and freelancing for a few greeting card companies, I Love You Always is her first book. 

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#GuestPost Starting Out as a Writer – 5 Things to Know by Alison Levy, author of “Gatekeeper: Book One in the Daemon Collecting Series”

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Book One in the Daemon Collecting Series

Date Published: October 6, 2020

Publisher: Spark Press

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Starting Out as a Writer – 5 Things to Know

by Alison Levy

            If you want to write but find the prospect of getting started daunting, here are some tips that I found helpful when I decided to write a novel.

  • Decide why you want to write.

It’s important to decide this up front because it will affect the way you write.  If you want to write as a hobby, you can write any way you like.  If your goal is to eventually publish, you will need to write with a reader in mind.  I like some of my earliest pieces but at the time I was just writing for myself; if I wanted to publish those stories, they would need a lot of work to read coherently.

  • Never stop reading.

The more you read, the better you will understand writing in general: sentence structure, plot, character development, dialogue, etc.  If it’s hard to find time to sit down and read, try audiobooks.  I listen in the car, while I shop, while I walk my dogs, and while clean my house.  I’m a better writer for it.

  • Don’t wait for inspiration.

Writers are artists, and society likes to think of artists as eccentric, free-spirited people who live their lives according to the whims of their muse.  I love the feeling of inspiration washing over me but if I waited for it to hit, I’d never get anything done.  When I get an inspiration, I take notes in my phone and refer to them when I sit down at my regular writing times.  Whatever your mood, just sit down and write.  Once you get in the habit, you’ll find you don’t need to be inspired to produce quality work.

  • Get honest criticism.

When you’re ready, seek out a writer’s group.  It’s nice to get reactions from friends and family but even if they’re professional writers, they’re going to temper their feedback because of their relationship with you.  Joining a writer’s group has been extremely beneficial to me; the quality of my writing has dramatically increased since I started going to regular critique meetings.  It can be hard to share your work and let others point out its flaws, but getting honest criticism is the best way to grow as a writer.

  • Write every day.

Start writing!  Write the beginning of a story, or the end, or the middle.  Write an outline, a character description, or some dialogue.  Write anything!  What’s important is just to get started, to write often, and to build momentum.  Even if you find writing everyday difficult at first, if you keep at it, you’ll find your stride.  As the philosopher Epictetus said, “If you wish to be a writer, write.”

Good luck and happy writing!



Rachel Wilde comes from a dimension that exists adjacent to ours. The people there have structured their society around daemon collecting: they locate, catch, and repair malfunctioning daemons (creatures out of phase with our world that tempt people to do good or evil). Now Rachel has been given two unusual assignments: 1) find a person who has been trying to break down dimensional barriers, and 2) track down a missing line of gatekeepers, human placeholders for a daemon that was too badly damaged to repair.

Authorities of Rachel’s world believe the missing gatekeepers are descended from a girl who went missing from West Africa hundreds of years ago, likely sold into slavery. With no leads to go on, Rachel seeks help from Bach, a raving homeless man who happens to be an oracle. Bach does put her in the path of both of her targets―but he also lands her in a life-threatening situation. Somehow, Rachel has to stop the criminal, reunite a gatekeeper with her stolen past, and, above all, survive.

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About the Author

Alison LevyAlison Levy lives in Greensboro, North Carolina with her husband, son, and variety of pets. When she’s not writing or doing mom things, she crochets, gardens, walks her collies, and works on home improvement projects.

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#GuestPost “Not Myself Today” by Muriel Ellis Pritchett

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Using Real Life Social Issues in Fiction

by Muriel Ellis Pritchett

Today’s social issues, which affect us in real life, are often addressed in fiction. But reading about a social issue in the morning paper or seeing it on the evening news is different than reading about it in a fiction novel. Usually, the social issue is not the main plot of the story and is brought up in such a way that it is not overwhelming. Yet, the author is able to get across how serious the issue is and leaves the reader something to think about.

Social issues often tackled by fiction authors include drug addiction, alcohol abuse, spousal abuse, political corruption, poverty, racial discrimination, bullying, unemployment, economic deprivation, immigration, and prostitution/sex trafficking.

In my YA paranormal, Not Myself Today, I address the social issue of sex trafficking, which is not just a problem in the United States, but is a worldwide problem. My protagonist, Lindsey Anderson, is an 18-year-old high school soccer star who kicks the winning goal for the state championship, drops dead on the field, and wakes up in the body of a 14-year-old sex trafficking victim.

I didn’t know anything about sex trafficking victims other than what I read in the Atlanta newspaper and saw on network news. I remembered reading stories in the AJC about 20 years ago written by investigative reporter Jane O. Hansen. I did a Google search and found her January 2001 series, “Selling Atlanta’s Children,” which documented child prostitution in Atlanta. I reread her series and found the facts as disturbing as I remembered.

One incident Hansen described involved a 10-year-old girl being escorted into the courtroom with shackles around her ankles. The young girl—dressed in flipflops and a jail-issued jumpsuit—had been in and out of an Atlanta jail for months. She quietly told the judge she wanted to go home and began to cry.  I was horrified that a sex trafficking victim could be that young.

The average age of children who first become sex trafficking victims in the United States is 11-14 years old. Sex trafficking is not a social issue dominated by young Asian women brought to the United States and forced to pay back their transportation fees through sexual slavery. It is a homegrown problem where young American-born girls are forced to work the streets as prostitutes–controlled by men who house, feed, and clothe them, and then sell them to other men for sex.

Which girls are at risk of becoming a child sex trafficking victim? Runaways. Girls having issues and problems at home. Maybe their parents or guardians seem too strict or they are abusive. Or maybe the girls lack love and attention. Annabeth Shepard, the sex trafficking victim in Not Myself Today, runs away from her South Georgia home after her step-father abuses her. She is later found starving and begging in Atlanta by a drug-dealing pimp.

Today, social media is a common recruitment tool used by child sex traffickers. Here young girls can connect with men online. Men who convince them that they will love them and take care of them. Once a sex trafficker lures a girl away from home or “rescues” a runaway, she can be forced to become a sex slave.

Over the past twenty years, the sexual exploitation of children in the State of Georgia has only become worse. Statistics show that 3,600 kids become victims of sex trafficking each year. That’s enough children to fill 72 school buses. Not Myself Today is written with a dark, humorous bite, but child sex trafficking is a serious national problem. Make that a serious worldwide problem.



High school soccer star Lindsey Anderson was at the top of her game with graduation approaching and a full-ride soccer scholarship offer in her hand. Then she dropped dead on the soccer field, only to wake up in the body of a teenage sex-trafficking victim. No one believes who she really is. Not even her dad. Chased by her new body’s drug-dealing pimp and rabid parapsychologists out to dissect her, Lindsey searches to get her body and her life back before graduation day. Can her BFF and the high school nerdy boy she detests help save her life?

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Author Bio

Muriel Pritchett

Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, Muriel Ellis Pritchett graduated from the University of Georgia and began her journalism career while living in Japan and Germany. Her journalism career included playwriting, editing and writing for magazines and newspapers, and working in public relations, university relations, and media relations.

After retiring, Muriel’s family doctor recommended she get a hobby.  So, she began writing fun fiction about feisty older women who had been wronged and had to pull themselves up out of the muck. But her award-winning fourth book, Not Myself Today, is a change in genres—a YA paranormal thriller. It is scheduled for release September 24, 2020. Her first three “fruity” books, fun romance for older women, are Making Lemonade, Like Peaches and Pickles, and Rotten Bananas and the Emerald Dream. She is currently working on another “fruity” book, titled Sour Grapes and Balmy Knight.

When not writing, Muriel loves cruising all over the world, eating good Belgian chocolate, and spending time in any Disney park. Her favorite Disney attractions are SOARING at Disney World’s EPCOT in Florida, Alice’s Curious Labyrinth at Disneyland Paris, Journey to the Center of the Earth at DisneySeas in Tokyo, and Indiana Jones Adventure at Disneyland in California.

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Win a Signed copy of Not Myself Today (Open Internationally)


*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days, then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organizer and used only for the fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for dIspatch or delivery of the prize.

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#GuestPost “Eternal Forever” by Syl Waters

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Oh, I do love to write beside the seaside!

by Syl Waters

Out of my window I can see a fat seagull. I don’t know if it’s a he or a she (how do you tell – note for self to check on google). Note to reader, having consulted the expertise of the web I have learned it’s very difficult to tell the difference between a male and female seagull. For your reference, the male may have a bit brighter and more colourful plumage, but the difference is so subtle, so I’ve read, only experienced bird watchers can tell the difference.

I am not an experienced bird watcher.

And so I’m wondering if this seagull is fat or pregnant.

The internet hole looked longer this time and so I have resisted. I can tell you though that a seagull usually lays its eggs at the beginning of May and has a clutch of three. The number three may have special significance in seagull circles, as it’s also after three weeks the eggs begin to hatch.

And so my mind wanders to what a baby seagull looks like and if I’ve even seen one?

Cue google images.

You may or may not be interested to learn baby seagulls (from my expert scanning of images online), appear to be dappled grey. I find myself pondering how such greyness can turn into such strong swipes of black and white in later years. I mean, when you look at a seagull it’s colours are very striking, not striking in a zebra sort of way, but still the body is always white and the wings are always black.

Isn’t it amazing how nature knows where to put the colours?

The baby seagull (also known as fluffy chicks – I’m not sure that’s right…), also is missing the red slash on its yellow beak that adults acquire later in life.

I’ve always thought the red was from the blood of a seagull’s victims.

That could be unfair. I don’t know how dangerous seagulls are, but I bet they aren’t as bad as swans.

Swans scare me.

You can ask my other half, we were out on a hot day having a romantic walk by the canal and I wouldn’t walk past a swan which was sat hissing. He took the mick, royally.

Me? I walked off in the other direction. Romance or saving my life? I’ll save my life every time.

And while writing this, I’m now starting to wonder if my fear of swans is undeserved and I’m ruining my chance of romance. And so I’ve searched the net for ‘are swans dangerous’. There’s a report from the BBC in 2012 called ‘Who, What, Why: How dangerous are swans?’ In it they detail a couple of swan attacks where the birds capsized kayaks and attacked rowers.

I am alarmed.

I would read more, but I don’t know if any of this is helpful for me overcoming my existing fear of swans.

I close the tabs and look back out of the window at the fat seagull. I wonder if soon she’ll give birth to some fluffy chicks? Whether true or not, that’s what I’m always going to call baby seagulls from now on. J

Syl Waters is the author of Who Killed Patrick? and Eternal Forever.

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Fame, glory and… foul play!

Jessie was a shop worker dreaming of the big time, then YouTube found her. But staying in the limelight requires meticulous management: pop stars are made not born.

With awards night approaching, the pressure’s on for Tito, Jessie’s manager, to whip her into shape. Getting so close wasn’t in the contract, but then neither was him being murdered in Spain.

Alone and scared of the negative publicity, Jessie turns to Mack, her account manager at Eternal Forever, the UK’s first digital legacy management agency. But Mack’s got his own issues: the company’s fast running out of cash, his key developer’s on the turn and a blogger’s suicide looks suspicious.

With the assistance of J-Pop, Mack’s assistant and wannabe reality TV star, Jessie turns sleuth. But in a world where everybody’s watching, it’s hard to escape. Reputation is everything and some people will do anything to protect it.

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Author Bio

Most people know crazy cat ladies are a ‘thing’, but I’m a proud crazy guinea pig lady! I love fun in the sun and plenty of cocktails. My happy place is flip flops. I write stories to keep me company – my characters ensure I’m never lonely and always smiling (when I’m not tearing my hair out!)

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#GuestPost “Airborne” by DiAnn Mills

Airborne by DiAnn Mills Banneron Tour September 1-30, 2020


Documentaries and Movies that Accurately Depict Viruses


DiAnn Mills

Airborne was written and edited before the coronavirus plagued every person on the planet. One of the bedrocks of research resulted from viewing recommended documentaries and movies that accurately depict deadly diseases and viruses.

Research occupies an essential role in a writer’s life. The process involves factual reading, reliable online sources, professional interviews, and applying the knowledge to my story. Taking notes while watching reliable films paved the way to create emotional conflict and in-depth sensory perception in the characters. Without this in-depth information, my readers would not have otherwise been able to experience the trauma and potentially catastrophic outcome of a deadly virus unleashed on innocent people.

Upon the recommendations of experts in microbiology and immunology, I viewed and took copious notes on a Netflix mini-series titled Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak. I recommend this documentary to anyone who is curious about the spread of viruses and how worldwide medical professionals work to keep us safe. The series shows not only what the professionals are doing but what we can do to help prevent the spread of disease.

The 2011 movie Contagion shows how a disease is spread with deadly implications. Although the storyline is fictitious, the producers consulted the medical and scientific community in casting roles. The realism mirrors what we’ve seen with the coronavirus.

 The Hot Zone is a six-part National Geographic miniseries. The series frightened me because it’s based on a true story about a shipment of monkeys from the Philippines arriving at a private lab in Virginia. The monkeys were infected with Ebola. The realization of what can happen and the fear I experienced while watching the series helped me portray authenticity in Airborne.

I’m sure there are many more viewing options that parallel credible virus and disease cases, but these are the ones impacting my story. For certain, we are all washing our hands and adhering to healthy practices.


Airborne by DiAnn Mills

Heather Lawrence’s long-awaited vacation to Salzburg wasn’t supposed to go like this. Mere hours into the transatlantic flight, the Houston FBI agent is awakened when passengers begin exhibiting horrific symptoms of an unknown infection. As the virus quickly spreads and dozens of passengers fall ill, Heather fears she’s witnessing an epidemic similar to ones her estranged husband studies for a living—but this airborne contagion may have been deliberately released.

While Heather remains quarantined with other survivors, she works with her FBI colleagues to identify the person behind this attack. The prime suspect? Dr. Chad Lawrence, an expert in his field . . . and Heather’s husband. The Lawrences’ marriage has been on the rocks since Chad announced his career took precedence over his wife and future family and moved out.

As more victims fall prey days after the initial outbreak, time’s running out to hunt down the killer, one who may be closer to the victims than anyone ever expected.

Book Details:

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Published by: Tyndale House Publishers

Publication Date: September 8th 2020

Number of Pages: 400

ISBN: 1496427173 (ISBN13: 9781496427175)

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Goodreads


Airborne Trailer:


Read an excerpt:

Chapter One

Early July
Monday, 6 p.m.

Vacations offered a distraction for those who longed to relax and rejuvenate, but FBI Special Agent Heather Lawrence wrestled with the decision to take an overseas trip alone. Normally she arrived for a flight at IAH eager to embark upon a new adventure. Not this time. Her vacation expectations had bottomed out over four weeks ago after Chad had slammed the door on reconciliation. Was she working through her grief or avoiding the reality of a husband who no longer wanted her?

She waited to board the flight in a designated line at the gate. The hum of voices blended with airport beeps, and announcements swirled around her as though enticing her to join the enthusiasm. In the line beside her, passengers shifted their carry-ons and positioned their mobile devices or paper boarding passes. Ready. Alert. People eager to be on their way.

Heather offered a smile to those nearest her. An adorable little blond boy with an older woman found it hard to stand still. A middle-aged couple held hands. The bald head and pasty skin of the man indicated a medical condition. He stumbled, and the woman reached for him. A robust man held a violin case next to his heart. A twentysomething woman with pink hair and a man behind her with a scruffy beard exchanged a kiss.

Chad used to steal kisses.

If she pinpointed the exact moment when he chose to separate himself from her, she’d say when he returned from a third trip for Doctors Without Borders late last fall. He’d witnessed suffering and cruel deaths that had scarred him. She’d encouraged his desire to help others, not realizing their future would take a backseat. While he drove toward success, their marriage drifted across the lanes and stalled in a rut.

The boarding line moved toward the Jetway. Each step shook her to the core as though she should turn and try to reverse the past seven months. She’d ignored her and Chad’s deteriorating relationship in an effort to make him happy. A huge mistake. But she didn’t intend to add the labels beaten or weak to her dossier.

A cell phone sounded, and a man boarding in front of her stopped to answer it. His shoulders stiffened under a tan sports coat, and he talked in hushed tones. Heather dug her fingers into her palms and forced one foot in front of the other while the man pocketed his cell phone and proceeded into business class.

A flight attendant greeted her, a dark-haired young man wearing a wide smile, relaxed and genuine, an obvious sign he enjoyed his job. She returned the gesture. His black jacket with two rows of silver braid on the sleeves and black trousers were magazine perfect.

Heather walked to a rear aisle seat in business class and hoisted her tote bag into the overhead compartment. Although it held essentials for every emergency in case her luggage was delayed, the bulging piece weighed less than the burden on her heart.

Easing onto her seat, Heather pulled the brochure from her shoulder bag describing Salzburg’s music festival, a celebration of musicians past and present. First a layover in Frankfurt and then on to her destination. She’d rented an apartment for ten days within walking distance of the historical center. The flexibility allowed her to choose her itinerary and cook or dine out. From the online photos, the centuries-old building had just enough updates to be comfortable without damaging its historic charm. She’d have hours to explore Mozart’s roots, museums, the many churches, immerse herself in the culture, and think.

A female passenger, sporting red spiked hair and chin-length hooped earrings, stopped beside her. The woman carried a Venti Starbucks. “Excuse me.” Her German accent a reminder of the destination. “Would you mind holding my coffee while I store my carry-on?”

“Of course.” Heather held the cup while the woman shoved her small suitcase into the overhead bin.

“Sorry for the inconvenience. I wasn’t thinking when I bought the coffee.”

“It smells heavenly.” Heather stood to let the woman pass and then handed her the cup.

“Thank you.” The woman blew on the lid and took a sip. “I’m Mia.”

“I’m Heather.”

“Long flight ahead but soon I’ll be home.” She pointed to Heather’s brochure. “Salzburg?”

“Yes. For a much-needed vacation.”

“I’m from Frankfurt. Really missing my daughter and husband.”

“You’ll see them soon.”

Mia broke into a wide smile. “We’ve done FaceTime and texted, but I want to touch their faces and hug them.”

Heather continued to read the Salzburg brochure to avoid any personal comments from Mia, like whether she was taking a vacation solo. An elderly man wearing a straw fedora and a white mustache sat in the aisle seat across from Heather. He pulled his phone from his pant pocket and used his thumbs on the keyboard like a kid.

Mia placed her coffee on the tray and made a phone call. “Wie geht es meinem kleinen Mädchen?”

Heather translated the German. How is my little girl? The woman’s excitement resonated through every word. Love. Laughter. Priceless commodities that Heather didn’t possess. Yet this trip offered an opportunity to rekindle her faith in God and chart a course for the future.

While the attendants made their way through business class with drink orders, Heather longed to have confirmation she’d made the right decision to take this trip. No one knew of her vacation plans except her parents and Assistant Special Agent in Charge Wade Mitchell in Houston. No one needed to know the why of her trip until she made a few decisions.

Stuffing the Salzburg brochure into her bag, she snatched the aircraft’s information and confirmed the layout for 267 passengers, restrooms, exit doors, in-seat power, on-demand entertainment, and three galleys. She always noted the details of her surroundings, another habit of working so many FBI cases. Always be prepared for the unexpected.

If the trip had been FBI sanctioned, her present circumstances might not hurt so much. How ironic she worked the critical incident response group as a behavior analyst, and she wrestled to understand her own life.

Right on time, the flight attendants took their assigned posts while miniature screens throughout the plane shared the aircraft’s amenities and explained the passenger safety instructions. The captain welcomed them moments before the plane lifted into the clouds.

On her way. No turning back. She prayed for a safe journey and much-needed answers.

Food smells from business class caught her attention, a mix of roasted chicken and beef. Too often of late, she forgot to eat or nothing appealed to her. To shake off the growing negativity, she paid for Wi-Fi and grabbed her phone from her bag. Time to concentrate on something other than herself.

She glanced at the incoming notifications. No texts. Her emails were an anticipated list of senders when she longed for a change of heart from Chad. Sighing, she closed her eyes. Between her job, Chad, and stress, too often she fought for enough pillow time.

Two hours later, she woke from a deep sleep to the sound of a woman’s scream.

Chapter 2

Heather whirled toward the ear-piercing cry behind her. She released her seat belt and rushed back to the economy section. The overhead lights snapped on to reveal the middle-aged couple whom she’d seen at the gate. The panic-stricken woman beside him held a tissue to his nose. Blood dripped beneath her fingers and down her wrist.

Not a muscle moved on the man’s face, and his eyes rolled back into their sockets. Heather approached him in the aisle seat. Before she could speak, the woman gasped, a mix of sobs and a struggle for composure. “Help me. I can’t stop the bleeding.”

Heather used tissues from the woman’s lap to help block the blood flow. “Try to stay calm.”

The woman nodded. “I shouldn’t have let him talk me into this trip. He’s been so weak.”

From the front of the plane, the male flight attendant who’d greeted passengers earlier rushed their way. He carried two kits, one labeled first aid and the other biohazard. A female attendant trailed after him.

“Help is here,” Heather said to the woman. She moved aside for the attendant to administer aid. She prayed the ill man was undergoing a minor problem—an easily resolved issue—and for the woman’s comfort. But his lifeless face showed a grim reality.

“Sir, how do you feel?” Not a sound or movement came from the man. Blood flowed from Heather’s mass of tissues.

The male attendant twisted off the seal of the biohazard kit and searched inside. He drew out a pair of nitrile gloves and wiggled them on. The female attendant opened the first aid kit, ripped into a gauze package, and handed it to the male attendant, who applied it to the man’s nose. She opened the biohazard waste bag to dispose of the soiled materials.

The male attendant captured the woman’s attention. “Ma’am, I’m Nathan. Is this your husband?”

“Yes. He’s very hot.”

Nathan touched the man’s forehead. “How long has he been feverish?”

“He was fine when we boarded. Perhaps over an hour into the flight?” Her sobs subsided to soft cries. “Do something. Blood’s coming from his mouth.”

Heather touched her shoulder with a clean hand. “Take a deep breath.”

“How can I? Roy’s not breathing.”

“That’s his name?” His gentle voice ushered in compassion.

“Yes. I’m Catherine.”

He bent to speak to Roy. “I’m Nathan. Give me a few minutes to administer first aid.” He replaced the gauze on Roy’s nose for the second time and turned to the female flight attendant, who’d paled but didn’t tremble. “Leave the kits. Call the flight deck and tell them what’s happening.”

She rushed to the front of the cabin.

“This is my fault.” Catherine held Roy’s hand. “He finished chemo and radiation for lung cancer, but his doctor hadn’t cleared him for the trip.”

“Catherine,” Nathan said, “I know you’re worried, but try to stay calm. Has he experienced these symptoms before?”


A voice spoke over the interphone. “If a licensed medical professional is on board, we have a medical issue. All other passengers, please remain in your seats.”

Within moments, a lean man arrived from the right side of business class carrying a leather case. “I’m a doctor.” Heather stepped back while he examined Roy and spoke to Nathan.

While the doctor stood over Roy with his back to Heather, Nathan turned to her. “We’ve got this handled. Please return—”

“No, please. Let her stay,” Catherine said. “If she doesn’t mind.”

Nathan frowned. “Okay, for the moment. Our manual states we have to keep the aisle clear around the patient.”

“I understand,” Heather said. “I’d be happy to sit with her, and I’m Heather.”

“Miss, if the pilots call our med service on the ground, I’ll need you out of way so we can relay instructions.”

The doctor and Nathan lowered Roy to the aisle and treated him. They blocked Heather’s view of the procedure, but the doctor rummaged for something inside the leather case. For the next ten minutes, she waited for the doctor to reassure passengers of the man’s recovery.

Catherine’s hysteria spun in a cloud of uncertainty that left unchecked often spread panic. She unfastened her seat belt and rose on unstable legs. “Please, tell me my husband is all right.” The female attendant gently urged her back onto the seat.

The doctor eased up from Roy and spoke reassuring words to Catherine. He peeled off his blood-covered gloves and tossed them into the bag. Had Roy succumbed to the lung cancer or a complication?

Nathan walked to a galley area. “Ladies and gentlemen, I am Nathan Howard, your lead flight attendant on board your flight today. We appreciate your concern for the man receiving medical attention. We will transport him to the rear of the cabin, where he’ll be comfortable. A doctor is tending to him, and the medical concern is under control. Thank you.”

Heather supported the airline’s protocol designed to keep everyone from alarm and terror while the crew addressed issues. Yet a few people craned their necks to watch the scene as though it was a morbid form of entertainment more interesting than the recycled movies on the screens in front of them.

Nathan returned to Catherine. “I know you’d like for the young woman to sit with you, but it would be easier for the flight crew and safer for her if we placed an attendant here. Can we do that?”

“I guess.” Catherine’s lips quivered.

Heather bent to speak. “I’m not far.” She understood how Catherine had latched on to her, a stranger, for moral support.

Nathan and the doctor picked Roy up and carried him to the rear. Roy was either unconscious or dead.

The female flight attendant sat in Roy’s seat and held Catherine’s hand. “I’ll stay with you for as long as you like.”

“Can I join my husband?”

“When the doctor is finished, I’ll escort you back.”

Heather returned to her seat—her mind weighed with concern.

“Gott hab Erbarmen,” Mia said.

“Yes, God have mercy.”

“You speak German?”

“A little. Spent a year in Frankfurt when I was in college.”

“The sound of it makes me long for home.” She hesitated. “What’s wrong with the man?”

“His wife said he’d recently completed chemo treatments for lung cancer. I’m sure the doctor is doing all he can. The airline has doctors on the ground, and they’ll consult with the doctor on board. Between them, they’ll figure out what’s best.”

“Do you work for the airlines?”

“No.” Heather smiled. “I’m with the Department of Justice.”

Mia rubbed her palms together. She’d already stated her desire to see her family. “Will the flight be diverted?”

“It depends on lots of factors. The man may just require rest.” Heather wasn’t going to state the excessive blood from Roy’s mouth and nose pointed to his death. By now the doctors at Medi-Pro-Aire, an advisory service for airlines, had been contacted and put in communication with the pilot.

“I read the airline’s cost to emergency divert range from $10,000 to upwards of $200,000,” Mia said.

“I don’t doubt the cost, but with this airline, the safety and welfare of the passengers always come first. They don’t blink at the cost of diversion. It’s on management’s mind post-action.”

“Can the pilots be called to the carpet for making a safety decision?”

“I’m sure their procedure is in place to protect the passengers.” Heather forced comfort into her voice. “We’ll be okay.”

Muffled voices around her prompted alarm.

A man shouted for help. “My wife has a terrible headache.”

A man in business class vomited.

“My son has a fever,” a woman said.

“Please, the man beside me has a nosebleed, and he can’t stop it.”

“What is going on?” Mia whispered. “All these people are suddenly sick. Frighteningly sick.”

Heather wished she had answers while horror played out around her.

“I’m afraid.” Mia’s face turned ashen.

“We have to stay calm.” Heather craved to heed her own advice.

Throughout the plane, people complained of flu-like symptoms. Another person vomited. Heather touched her stomach. A twinge of apprehension crept through her.

Nathan spoke over the interphone. “If you are experiencing physical distress, press your call button. Flight attendants will be in your area soon with damp paper towels. Use these to cover your mouth and the tops of beverages. As always, remain in your seats.”

Heather messaged ASAC Mitchell in Houston with the medical emergency report, including the symptoms.

He responded. The FBI, TSA, CDC, and Medi-Pro-Aire are on it. Are you okay?

Yes. People’s symptoms indicate a serious virus.

The doctor on board has given a similar conclusion.

She trembled as she typed. Looks similar to what Chad described in Africa.

The doctor said the same. Is the man dead?

I think so.

How many others are sick?

Heather surveyed the passengers within her sight and typed. From my seat, I see around ten in business class, and I hear the sick in economy. Will the plane divert?

No decision yet. Keep me posted. You are our eyes.

Beyond what the doctor on board relayed to those on the ground, ASAC Mitchell must believe she held the voice of reason and objectivity. The irony of their interpretation. The viruses were usually zoonotic or caused by insects, and the symptoms created intense suffering. She blinked to clear her head and not ponder the worst.

With panic gripping her in a stranglehold, she imagined what others were feeling. A man questioned why the plane hadn’t landed. A woman bolted to the galley and held her mouth. The man who held the violin marched to the business class restroom but fell face-first and vomited.

The elderly man across the aisle from her coughed. His nose trickled blood.

Heather grabbed tissues from her bag and handed them to him. “Will this help?”

“Tell me this is a nightmare.” He gripped her arm—fiery hot.


Excerpt from Airborne by DiAnn Mills. Copyright 2020 by DiAnn Mills. Reproduced with permission from DiAnn Mills. All rights reserved.



Author Bio:

DiAnn Mills

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She is a storyteller and creates action-packed, suspense-filled novels to thrill readers. Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests.
DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She is the director of the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference, Mountainside Retreats: Marketing, Speakers, Nonfiction, and Novelist with social media specialist Edie Melson where she continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country.

Connect with DiAnn On:
DiAnnMills.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Instagram, Twitter, & Facebook!


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#BookBirthday “The Rue Stone” by Janet Stock

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~ G u e s t P o s t ~

Fantasy First

Writing fantasy is new to me, and my novella, the Rue Stone, is my first attempt at this genre.

The Rue Stone is based on the idea of a magical, portentous stone, and many years ago now with only this to go on, I rather hastily put a short story together. But I couldn’t decide on the ending, and I originally left it open ended. I thought it would be fun to let it hang, and let the reader decide what happened! Completely ignoring the element of resolution that is needed (?) in a story.

Unsurprisingly, when people read it, I got some emotive comments about my unresolved ending.

‘A story should have a nice neat ending!’

’It should have resolution; those are the rules!’

Well I don’t mind bucking trends and breaking rules, but to satisfy all tastes I re-wrote the story for my first book, Dark and Fluffy and added two endings, leaving it up to the reader to select which one they were happy with. Then I got comments about the story being too short, and readers wanted to know more about the rue stone and Janna, the female protagonist, and these comments I did agree with.


That was how the idea for a novella based on The Rue Stone came about.

It gave me the chance to explore Janna’s character in more depth and to describe the world in which she and the rue inhabited from her viewpoint. The setting could now be described in more detail, the magic could be expressed by the way the villagers gossiped about the mystical beings that reside in their world, and the whole fantasy element which grew from a love story could be explored and expanded.

Now love as a theme maybe considered a bit cheesy. But I think most of us,

even if we don’t like to admit it, find love in any form one of the most compelling and enduring themes.

The supernatural element of fantasy allows us to suspend our reality in a completely different direction, we’re given a story that allows us to be transported away from the real world in a manner that can surpass any other genre.

You may imagine yourself to be another person, in another place, experiencing new things when you read your favourite contemporary books, but only good fantasy can convey you to another level of being. Allowing your mind to really transcend all that is recognisable.

 Fantasy allows you to change the people you interact with, from human to alien, or it can shift your home to an unexpected world. It can alter time and perception or pop you onto another planet after an inexplicable journey. You are in another realm where there are no limits, and physical, mental, and social bonds cease to exist. Anything is possible, there are no constraints.

So, whilst The Rue Stone maybe a gentle foray into this vast genre, I hope it’s enough to give some enjoyment. Who’s to say that that I won’t plunge further into the fantasy world in the future, with even more imagination, quirkiness, oddity and humour. All I need do now, is think of a different theme…



The rue is a mysterious and rare being who is rarely seen, and Janna is amazed when one arrives at the inn where she works, looking for a room. The next morning, her life has changed, and she is left wondering whether she will ever see him again, but only time and the rue stone know the answer to that question.

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Author Bio

Janet Stock

Having written all of my life, I decided to self-publish my writing when I turned 50. I have published four books since then. Two are collections of short stories; Dark & Fluffy; Dark & Fluffy II and 500 Words, which is flash fiction. My latest book, The Rue Stone, is a fantasy novella.

My passion is medieval fiction, and I am working on my first novel, The Little Servant – The Wait’s Son, set in the 12th century, in Lincoln, where I live.

All four books are available on Amazon.

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#GuestPost “Miss Smith Commits the Perfect Crime?” by Guy Rolands

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Miss Smith Commits the Perfect Crime?

coverI wanted to create something different. During an enforced period of immobility following an accident, I started writing about the adventures of a female agent. I decided my heroine would be clean-cut, athletic, skilled in martial arts, possess advanced driving skills and would be a crack shot.

It occurred to me these skills are not exactly easy to acquire. How does one go about becoming someone with such an unusual range of talents? What turns an ordinary young woman into someone extraordinary? This was the starting point for my first novel Miss Smith Commits the Perfect Crime?

Having lived in Yorkshire during the dreadful events leading up to the capture of the Yorkshire Ripper, I well remember the awful atmosphere of fear hanging over the entire community. As a man, it is almost impossible to conceive how appalling the effects of rape would be on a woman. However, I could well imagine, in the aftermath, apart from the physical trauma, a victim would be mentally affected.

This was my starting point. My heroine, Sam Smith, is gradually recovering from a savage attack, and as the police are impotent in bringing the rapist to justice, she is motivated to take the law into her own hands and exact savage retribution.

It was most difficult for me to get the opening of the book right. After various attempts, I was forced to abandon the chapters describing the rape and the subsequent ongoing effects. It’s not that kind of book. Even though the plot is motivated by Sam’s awful experience, it’s largely a light-hearted adventure romp. Starting with such a gruesome opening gave it completely the wrong feel.

I decided to follow the lead of PG Wodehouse: the great man often based his plots around Lord Emsworth’s prize pig. Following in the footsteps of the master, I came up with Reggie, the most valuable pig in the world. Below is a brief extract.


Consequently, she was again out in the middle of the night, crawling on her hands and knees through the foul field to where Reggie’s pen was located.

On reaching the pen, she removed the exterior plastic label, 1052, and swapped it with the label from the adjacent pen. Now for the tricky bit. She crawled into Reggie’s pen. Her hand descended into something warm and smelly. Yuk. The stench made her want to gag. He grunted softly as if happy to see her. Slowly, so as not to startle the great beast, Sam approached, and on Wilf’s advice, began gently rubbing the pig’s neck with one hand to keep him calm. In her other hand, she held a small pair of wire cutters, and carefully snipped the plastic tag to remove the numbered label from his ear, before repeating the action in the recently renumbered adjacent pen. This contained the special pig that she’d requested from Wilf. Despite, to her eyes, looking identical to Reggie, this poor pig had no breeding value whatever, and sadly, was expendable: her sacrificial pig. The animal looked at her sadly. Sadly? She could have sworn it was as if he knew.

‘Sorry mate,’ Sam apologized.

From her backpack, she removed a small tool and tagged this pig’s ear with Reggie’s label. She then returned to Reggie’s pen and gave him his neighbour’s ear tag. The trap was set. If the villains believed they had taken the wrong semen, they would have to make another attempt. With the high-security measures now in place, they could never get their hands on the right semen. Their only alternative was to steal the Super-Pig itself; hence, the lookalike had been created: the sacrificial pig.




Recovering from a brutal attack where she was savagely raped, university student Sam Smith attempts to rebuild her life and overcome the ongoing effects of her ordeal. Her ultimate goal is to bring her assailant to justice, but before she can do so her life and loves take a series of intriguing turns as she continues her sometimes unconventional education.

Eventually she is able to identify her attacker and decides to exact retribution in her own particular style, but during her preparations Sam becomes aware that her every move is being tracked by a mysterious organisation. To avoid detection by the police and also her hidden watchers, Sam Smith attempts to commit the perfect crime. However, in the aftermath of her vigilante action events change rapidly to bring about a most unexpected outcome.

Miss Smith Commits the Perfect Crime? is the first book in the Sam Smith Adventure Series and can be read as a standalone.

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Author BioGuy Rolands

Guy Caplin worked in television broadcasting for over 40 years and is one of the few people to have achieved success in both the technical and artistic branches of the medium.  He has worked with many celebrities including, the Beatles, Ella Fitzgerald, Bob Hope and Maria Callas.

He moved to ITV’s Yorkshire Television in 1969 as a Producer and Director of Sport, Outside Broadcasts and special events.  Among the many programmes he devised was the quiz programme Winner Takes All fronted by Jimmy Tarbuck and Geoffrey Wheeler, which under his tenure was regularly amongst the Top Ten TV programmes and twice reached the coveted Number One Spot.

When the final series of the hit American programme Dallas ran into technical problems in Hollywood in 1989, Guy left YTV and joined a UK broadcast engineering company to try to come up with a solution.  The solution proposed resulted in the creation of the DEFT process, which although too late to be used on Dallas, was used initially on The Simpsons and subsequently on Friends, Frasier, Superman, and many others America series.  DEFT was awarded an Emmy for outstanding technical achievement.

Back in the UK Guy owned and ran a company creating video productions for both broadcast and industry, was a freelance trainer at the BBC and a visiting tutor at the National School of Film and Television

For the past thirteen years Guy has also been regular lecturer for P&O cruises and Cunard and has effectively travelled twice around the world.

Now, having closed his video company, he spends his time writing under the name of Guy Rolands and has now completed four novels in the Sam Smith Adventure series. Having worked all over the world and encountered hundreds of remarkable characters, his experiences provide colour and intrigue to his work.

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