Travelling around Greece - Monemvasia Winery

A while ago, whilst watching Rick Stein travel around Europe for his ‘Venice to Istanbul’ series,
he visited a winery in Monemvasia and for some reason, other than the fact, that my husband and I both love Greece, we remembered it and decided it would be an absolute inclusion of our Peloponessian sight-seeing. 

Monemvasia Wines are known for their decadent sweet white wines, that are fermented from sun-dried grapes. This process gives the wines their distinct notes. Everything and I kid you not, everything I tasted was of stellar quality. Even the wineries ‘most lower grade of wine’, as Nikos said, had an authentic and original appeal to me and my palette. I am by no means a wine connoisseur but, I certainly enjoy a good drop and can appreciate wine in all its grades. What you will find in the Monemvasia Winery’s selection, is that there something for everyone. 

History of the monemvasia region

The history of the Monemvasia region goes back to the Neolithic period, about 8,000 years ago. The region was active in the Bronze Age and right through to the construction of it’s impregnable fortress, the castle of Monemvasia, in the Byzantine era. Malvasia wine, as it is know in the Monemvasia region, has a long history. From the 12th century onwards it influenced the Western and Eastern marketplace.

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

To understand its popularity one only needs to look at the wine’s name – Monemvasia. The Italians call it Malvasia, the French call it Malvoise and a brilliantly executed line comes to us from Shakespeare’s “King Richard III,” where he calls it Malmsey. 

I had the pleasure of meeting Elli and Nikos and whilst there they met and chatted with my husband and children. They are knowledgeable people and know their industry like many wine professionals around the globe. They were also very accomodating and excellent hosts. I totally recommend that if you are travelling around Monemvasia, you pop in and grab a couple of bottles to enjoy. 

We drove away with some amazing bottles of wine that will be shared with relatives. After all, that is what good wine is for. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kourambiethes - Almond Cookies

I’m sharing a recipe that I included in my August Newsletter.  

Kourambiethes, are a an almond shortbread that is coated in icing sugar. They are traditionally baked at Easter and Christmas time. The Christmas recipe calls for a single clove to be placed in the centre. These cookies are so popular that you will find them all year round at any Greek patisserie. The origins of the Kourambie (cookie) comes from 7th century Persia, when sugar was a common used staple in cookery. The origin of the word is from the Iranian word “Qurabiya.” Naturally, the cookies have changed over time and many countries have a variation of this transcendent buttery cookie. Today I am sharing my Greek recipe with you all.  

 
Ingredients
250 grams unsalted butter (room temperature)
1/2 cup blanched almonds or Slivered Almonds
1/2 cup castor sugar
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup ouzo (you can omit ouzo and add 2 teaspoons of vanilla essence and 4 tablespoons of fresh orange juice.)
3 cups self-raising flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup icing sugar, for sifting. 
 
Method
1. Preheat oven to 140 degrees celsius. Line two baking trays with baking paper. 
2. Place Almond Slivers on a baking tray. Toast for 5-10 minutes, stir them once or twice. Then take them out of the oven to cool. As soon as they are cooled, place them on a chopping board and chop roughly with a mezzaluna or knife.  
3. Place the sugar and butter in bowl and mix with an electric mixer till pale and creamy. 
4. Beat egg yolks and add to butter and sugar. 
5. Add vanilla or ouzo. 
6. Sift flour and baking powder.
7. Remove bowl from mixer and add the flour and baking powder till mixture is soft. Then add the chopped almonds and mix till you have a nice dough. 
8. Take a heaped teaspoon of the mixture and kneed it into the palm of your hand, making a round shape. Then place on tray.  Continue till all dough is used.  Don’t forget to leave a little space between each cookie. 
9. Bake for 15-25 minutes till cookies are light golden brown.  
10. Remove and leave to cool on wire rack. 
11. When cooled arrange on a plate and sift icing sugar over them. 
 
 12. Enjoy with a nice cup of coffee or tea! 
 
Trust me you’ll want to eat more than one. 
 
Smiles,
Efthalia
 
 
P.s. Don’t forget to sign up to my newsletter to get the gossip on book news first. There’s also a random giveaway every month! 
 

About Nothing - McGuffin

I have been writing and scrapping posts all day and then it hit me, mid sentence, write about the McGuffn, the nothing that moves a story or movie along. Best example of a McGuffin is Seinfeld – a whole show dedicated to nothingness.

So what is the McGuffin?

…powerful piece of nothingness or hook that drives the story forward and keeps the viewer engrossed and pinning for the outcome…

The McGuffin is a powerful piece of nothingness or hook that drives the story forward and keeps the viewer engrossed and pinning for the outcome, only to be diverged and thrown on another path. In other words it is a plot device that leads nowhere. In my book Phantasma, I use a seedy character named Tom as the McGuffin. He is the nothing I created to lead the heroine to the ‘call to action.’ Everything about him is left un-answered, intentionally. 

As I mentioned above, Seinfeld was nothing but a BIG McGuffin. I think the creators of this show were very clever indeed and knew exactly what they were doing and how to hook an audience. Artistically, they introduced the McGuffin that drove the show forward and then veered in another direction, by dropping the McGuffin without the audience even realising.

 

…the question of what is buried in the garden – the McGuffin that keeps the audience pinned…

Hitchcock coined the term McGuffin and was a master in using it. He enticed viewers and drew them in, a good example is ‘Rear Window,’ and the question of what is buried in the garden? We never find out because it’s the McGuffin that keeps the audience pinned until it’s dropped. At some point in all suspense, thrillers, and comedies the McGuffin becomes the insignificant factor and is all but forgotten, allowing the first and second acts to build to the climatic crescendo of the third act.

Hitchcock was also talented in drawing out the McGuffin, in order for the third and final act to carry more impact. I like this idea because the audience leaves the movie with the final climax still in mind, and with it, all the makings of a successful, suspenseful and memorable film.

I hope you all enjoyed this little bit of nothingness.

7 Minutes with an Author

WELCOME LEE MURRAY!

So glad you could pop in and share a little about yourself and your writing.  

Hi Efthalia! Thank you so much for hosting me on your blog. I’ve been a Fan of 7 Minutes with an Author for a while now, so it’s a thrill to appear here. (I’m glad that you’re here.) 

1. What is the theme of the book you are working on?

I’m currently working on the stand-alone sequel to Into the Mist, another military thriller with mythological and cultural connections. (Oh, I’ll be keeping my eye out for it.) 

2. What is one of the hardest things about writing one of your books/current manuscript? (Did you or do you want to throw it in the fire  like Frodo?)

I’m a slow writer. It’s so frustrating. I see other authors posting comments about their daily word-count and I feel so inadequate. I’ve tried all sorts of brain gymnastics—nothing seems to work. It might have something to do with the editor in me, which, for the life of me, I can’t switch off. And yes, I am the annoying person in the group who points out the misplaced apostrophe in street signs. (Hahaha. The truth be told Lee, we need some annoying friends.) 

3. Because everyone always wants to know. Are you a panster or plotter?

Definitely a pantser, although I like to have a vague idea of where I’m going. It’s a bit like my life really: I have an end point in mind, but with the freedom to go off and explore the tangents. (It’s about what works best for you.) 

4. How important are reviews to you? Do you get upset when they aren’t favourable? (Like stalk the reviewer and wish they get infested with a thousand fleas.)

They’re important, but mostly because of their effect on the discoverability of our writing. Of course, I’m not immune to a bit of flattery: I glow when a positive review comes in, and anguish over what I might have done to improve the work and please the naysayers, but as many other 7 Minutes contributors have already said, you can’t please everyone. Readers are just part of the story. At its essence, as writers, I believe each of us has a responsibility to ourselves, to write the story that resonates for us and in a way which best tells the story we intend to impart. We write the books we want to read—we’re our own target audience—and if we want to stay motivated, if we wish to continue craft work that we are proud of and can stand behind, then perhaps the only review that counts is our own.

5. How do you market your books? Any events you want the reader to know about e.g. Coming appearances or signing?

It’s a good question, because even traditionally published authors are required to contribute to publicity these days, which means blog posts, podcasts and radio interviews, guest articles in magazines and newspapers, and readings and appearances at conventions and conferences. Whenever I can manage it, I like my publicity to add value in other ways, so I tend to jump at opportunities to judge writing competitions, edit charity collections and mentor young writers. It’s good publicity for me and also important work, helping to develop writers and writing and promoting their work to a wider readership. Where am I appearing next? In a few months, I’m heading across the ditch to participate in Book Expo Australia in Sydney (8-9 October, 2016), contributing to a panel on mythology and appearing alongside some of my Cohesion Press colleagues like Greig Beck, Alan Baxter and Kaaron Warren, all of whom I’m excited to be meeting in person. If you live in the region, please stop by and say hello. (Sounds exciting!)

6. Social Media – Love it or hate it? Where do you hang out the most? Any tips to share?

I have a love-hate relationship with social media. I love the opportunity to connect friends, but there is a superficiality to it, which is frustrating. It’s understandable: after all, it’s human nature to want to put our best foot forward, but are we seeing anything real? On the other hand, some of what we see is simply too real: the brutality of recent news reports almost undoing me. I’m on Facebook and most days people can find me there, talking about my family life and, occasionally, my latest book projects. One caveat, if you’re tempted to join me there—I’m almost afraid to say this—I’m not a big fan of cats.  

7. What is your favourite motivational phrase or positive saying?

“I meant what I said and I said what I meant, an elephant’s faithful, 100%.” — Horton the Elephant (Dr Seuss). (Love this!)

If you want to know more about Lee you can find her here at: 

leemurray.info

Into the Mist

Buy link: Amazon

When NZDF Sergeant Taine McKenna and his squad are tasked with escorting a bunch of civilian contractors into Te Urewera National Park, it seems a strange job for the army. 
Militant Tūhoe separatists are active in the area, and with its cloying mist and steep ravines, the forest is a treacherous place in winter. 

Yet nothing has prepared Taine for the true danger that awaits them. Death incarnate. 
They backtrack toward civilisation, stalked by a prehistoric creature intent on picking them off one by one. With their weapons ineffective, the babysitting job has become a race for survival. 

Desperate to bring his charges out alive, Taine draws on ancient tribal wisdom. Will it be enough to stop the nightmare? And when the mist clears, will anyone be left? 

Me Tarzan, You Jane – A Review

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ Five Stars

Me Tarzan, you Jane! Those lines are stellar because they epitomize a simple and concise introduction. I grew up watching Tarzan movies over and over again and they never got old. So what does the re-booted version give us? Apart from the drool worthy abs on Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgård), it certainly gives us much more but that means taking a deeper look. This is what I took away from the film and why I gave it five stars.

Firstly the big bang elements; the historical narrative is what pulls you in immediately. Belgium did commit unspeakable atrocities to the natives of the Congo. The narrative follows the exploitation of the Congo by King Leopold, a man who wants more than just coca beans, he desires the real prize – diamonds. The truth is that colonialism is ugly no matter how you approach this subject there is no easy feelings at the injustice caused.

As the layers of the movie were reveled, thoughts of a different kind flicked through my mind and they did not have anything to do with Skarsgård’s immaculate body and his spellbinding hip-flexors. No, what drew my attention was the parallel themes from Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness,” and those simple lines spoken by Kurtz, the Russian trader, “The horror, the horror.” Kurtz is brutal in his raids leaving a bloody path in his wake. Again the parallel on screen of Leon Rom’s (Christopher Waltz) character reminded me so much of Kurtz. Rom does not flinch at the loss of his men. Everyone is disposable in his quest. A complete analysis on both Conrad and Burroughs works, would illuminate the numerous similarities and not just from a philosophical and thematic perspective. Heart of Darkness and Tarzan both share striking parallels, in fact it is mirrored in the setting, plot and character portrayal. I will not go into that, as it will turn into an essay.

He is no normal man. He was thought to be an evil spirit, a ghost in the trees. No man ever started with less.”

As you get deeper into the story you can not ignore the unmistakable motif of identity dancing or swinging through the movie. Tarzan at the root of it all is a man raised by the Mangani. He leaves his life to join an aristocratic life in England. Where does he belong and who is he? Even Jane (Margot Robbie) confirms that he is far from the usual stock. “He is no normal man. He was thought to be an evil spirit, a ghost in the trees. No man ever started with less.” These lines clearly allude to the difficulty in categorizing Tarzan. I think Tarzan has some serious identity issues! :)

The movie is also heavy with symbolism. These are some of the things that give you the proverbial slap in the face, even if you are not looking for them.

  • Civilization vs Nature
  • Man’s most primitive roots
  • Imperialism and destruction
  • Christianity vs Native beliefs systems
  • Birth and death – lots of death

There is also a scene that brings us smack bang into the present and that is the ugly subject of elephant poaching, the ivory being a source of funding for armed groups. It is very hard to ignore the reality of it. I might leave it for you to ponder when you see it. Again this will turn into an essay if I keep going. :)

At the heart of my inner critical assessment is one thread that tests the boundaries of human relationships, and that is love. The love that Tarzan has for the family that raised him and the love he has for his wife. There is just enough of Tarzan’s and Jane’s relationship to allow for the emotional moments in the movie. This all adds to the rhythm and pacing, allowing the audience the right amount of ups and the downs. I would have liked more Tarzan and Jane scenes but then that would have changed the rating. :)

…should be controversial, informative and most of all entertaining.”

To sum up, a good movie should be controversial, informative and most of all entertaining. For me Tarzan certainly hit all the right spots. I walked away asking myself a few questions and thinking about the consequences of imperialism. Tarzan wasn’t just about the special effects and those drool worthy abs which are everywhere on the internet. I walked away feeling it was more about the physical and psychological journey to heart of Africa and the hypocrisy of imperialism.

 

7 Minutes with an Author

WELCOME Juanita kees!

So glad you could pop in and share a little about yourself and your writing.  

1. What is the theme of the book you are working on? 

Home to Bindarra Creek is a small town story about a girl who has loved and lost, and a guy who thinks he’s lost everything until he finds love where he least expects to. It’s time for both of them to leave the shadows behind.

2. What was/is one of the hardest things about writing one of your books/current manuscript?  (Did you or do you want to throw it into the fire like frodo?) 

Midway I want to rip them to shreds. By the end I want to burn them, and somewhere during the edits, I’m always convinced they’re not publishable. The hardest thing is trying to get your characters out of a situation that wasn’t written into the plot. Characters often develop a mind of their own :) (Oh I totally understand!)

3. Because everyone always wants to know. Are you a panster or plotter?

I’m a plotpantser, a hybrid author who sometimes gets the plotting right until the characters decide to fly by the seat of their pants instead. (Ha ha ha, you gotta love those unpredictable characters!)

4. How important are reviews to you? Do you get upset when they aren’t favourable? (Like stalk the reviewer and wish they get infested with a thousand fleas.)  

Reviews are important. They are the yardstick other readers use to decide whether or not to buy your book. A bad review can rip your heart out and destroy your spirit, but reviewers don’t have to be mean, nasty trolls. A good constructive review can help an author give the reader what they want in the next book or a revised issue. Not everyone will enjoy your writing. I have to remind myself of that often. The only time I get upset is when a reviewer leaves a one star review and doesn’t take the time to tell me what it was they didn’t like about the book. (We do need thick skin, don’t we?)

5. How do you market your books? (Stand at the top of a building and shout buy my book?) 

I believe in doing everything in moderation because the most effective marketing tool is still word of mouth. So if you loved Home to Bindarra Creek, please tell your friends about it. :)

6. Social Media – Love it or hate it?  Where do you hang out the most?  Any tips to share? 

I’m not so keen on Twitter and Instagram. I’m on LinkedIn, but seldom even look at it. I love Facebook because it’s a mix of interaction, pictures, quotes etc. I can always find something there I can relate to or share. (It’s the hotel California, where you can check in and never leave. Lol) 

7. What is your favourite motivational phrase or positive saying?

Many years ago, racing legend Peter Brock told me to live my dreams … so I did. (Brilliant!)

 

If you want to know more about Juanita, you can reach her here: 

Website: https://juanitakees.com/

Home to Bindarra Creek

Buy Links: https://juanitakees.com/shop-now/

Park Ranger, Alice Pritchard lives with the ghosts of her past. As long as she has her rescued wildlife to rehabilitate and Bindarra Creek parks to care for, she’ll never need a man again. Now, with rejuvenation of the town in the pipeline, she has no choice but to let go of the past.

Dan Molyneaux roars into her life in his high-powered V8 and reopens the Riverside Pub forcing her to face her ghosts, his possum problem, Curly the cockatoo who swears like a sailor, Old Man Jake who’s appointed himself caretaker of the property, and Grandad Charlie who’s determined to find her the man he thinks she deserves. Alice would love to ignore them all and keep living in the cocoon she’s created for herself in sleepy Bindarra Creek, but fate has other plans for her.

Dan isn’t looking for love or the friendship of the two crazy old men who appear to have ‘adopted’ him. All he wanted was the peace and quiet of the country, away from the city highways. Soon he’s swept along by renovations, fundraisers, hell-raisers and the problems of a small town coming back to life. But it’s the park ranger he’s curious about. Why would a girl as beautiful as Alice bury herself in a backwater town so far off the main highway, it was merely a blip on the satellite map? What he uncovers raises some of his own ghosts from the dead.

 

7 Minutes with an Author

WELCOME Erin grace!

So glad you could pop in and share a little about yourself and your writing.  

1. What is the theme of the book you are working on? 

I’m working on the Sequel to my Scottish time-travel romance Love in Ruins. THe new book, called ‘From the Ashes’, will features some of the favourite characters from the first story. From the Ashes is also a time-travel romance, but this time the hero is from the future. (I’m very excited about this book.)

2. What was/is one of the hardest things about writing one of your books/current manuscript?  (Did you or do you want to throw it into the fire like frodo?)

To answer your last question…every single day. The hardest part I found was trying to make the book stand alone from the first and not let the original ‘cast’ take control, as they are not the main characters this time. It’s harder than you think. Characters really do have a way of controlling the story if you let them. (You really have to slap them back in their place. Don’t you?) 

3. Because everyone always wants to know, panster or plotter?

Bit of both. For me, the story usually starts of as a type of synopsis (which I love doing, by the way!), and it doesn’t always start at the beginning. Quite often I get a ‘scene’ in my head and flesh it out from there. I use plotting like breadcrumbs, scattering them ahead through the book, as its a lot less scary than facing an empty page. Yet, I’m flexible enough to move or change ideas when I get to them (in the plotting) or delete them altogether.

4. How important are reviews to you? Do you get upset when they aren’t favourable? (Like stalk the reviewer and wish they get infested with a thousand fleas.)  

Reviews are important to me, especially if they contain good, constructive feedback – good or bad. Anyone can be a critic, but it takes a special kind of reader to give a ‘critique’. In any profession I believe you benefit from different points of view, but it’s also about the inner satisfaction of knowing how you made a reader feel and how they reacted to the characters you worked hard to evolve. (Makes what we do so worth while when a reader nails your story.)

5. How do you market your books? (Stand at the top of a building and shout buy my book?)

I probably don’t do as much marketing as a I should, but after 9 years I’ve found the best kind of ‘marketing’ is to keep producing books. As I once heard, you can’t stock a store with only one shirt. If your customer likes the shirt, they may want pants, etc. And, the best time to give them what they want is while your ‘goods’ are fresh in their mind. My initial advice is to always start off with at least one book ready to go and one waiting in the wings….and keep writing! 

6. Social Media – Love it or hate it?  Where do you hang out the most?  Any tips to share? 

Good in moderation. It can become a time-vampire (as I’m sure many would agree). I rarely tweet, as the lines are so saturated with people promoting one thing or another. I prefer to ‘hang out’ on Facebook as this gives me an open and direct contact with readers and fellow authors. I’m always happy to answer questions from readers and try to engage in many events. My only advice to anyone is to keep the tone pleasant, never make it personal.

7. What is your favourite motivational phrase or positive saying?

“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”  ~ Anton Chekhov

If you want to know more about Erin you can find her here; 

http://www.eringrace.info/#!

 

Love In Ruins 

Buy at AMAZON

Eager to escape a disastrous relationship, archaeologist, Ellie Harper, jumps at the chance to travel to the remote Scottish Highlands, and excavate the ruins of Castle MacKinnon. However, no matter where she goes, the shadow of her ex follows her, promising she will never be free of her painful past. 
But, when a mysterious stranger turns up half-dead on her doorstep in the middle of a violent storm, Ellie is thrust into the realm of ancient secrets and impossible magic that challenges everything she holds dear. 

Faced with a heartbreaking decision, Ellie must put her emotions and logic aside to help Laird Ewan MacKinnon find a way home to the thirteenth century – if one exists. What she doesn’t expect is to journey to a past more astounding than history, find a love more precious than ancient treasure, and survive the deadly wrath of an evil man’s revenge. 

 

7 Minutes with an Author

WELCOME Ann b. Harrison!

So glad you could pop in and share a little about yourself and your writing.  

1. What is the theme of the book you are working on? (Note: this can be your current release too if you want to talk about that instead) 

Can someone in the present right the wrongs of the past when they little connection or knowledge of what happened? In The Summer House, Billie finds herself being catapulted back in time and she feels she’s finally lost her mind after the sudden death of her husband. The only person who can help her is a tweedy professor of psychology who she thinks wants to commit her. Her life unravels in front of her eyes as she tries to hang onto the final threads of her sanity.

2. What was/is one of the hardest things about writing one of your books/current manuscript?  (Did you or do you want to throw it into the fire like frodo?)

Making it all tie in together because it covers two different time lines. (I guess the more complex the plot the more you need to map it out eh?)

3. Because everyone wants to know, panster or plotter? 

Generally I’m a panster but with this story I plotted it out fairly well because I had a dream about it and I didn’t want to get it wrong. 

4. How important are reviews to you? Do you get upset when they aren’t favourable? (Like stalk the reviewer and wish they get infested with a thousand fleas.)  

Seriously, I rarely look at reviews. They’re for other readers, not me and what’s the point of getting upset. My story wont be for everyone, the same as I don’t like every book on the market. It pays to grow a thick skin and not let it get to you. (Wise words Ann.)

5. How do you market your books? (Stand at the top of a building and shout buy my book?)

I’ve tried all different types of promo when I first started writing and I doubt any of them really work that well. They cost you time and money that I feel is better spent writing the next book. (It’s so easy to fall into the promo trap and spend ridiculous hours trying to make a go of it. Like everything, nothing in excess.)

6. Social Media – Love it or hate it?  Where do you hang out the most?  Any tips to share? 

I love Facebook https://www.facebook.com/annb.harrison.7 and generally check in a few times a day.

7. What is your favourite motivational phrase or positive saying?

You cant edit a blank page. I think that was Nora Roberts and its true. Bad words on a page are far better than no words. (I have to agree with this one hundred percent.)

If you want to know more about Ann you can find her here; 

http://www.annbharrisonromance.com

 

Latest release – Outback Cafe

Buy from Here: Amazon

Blurb

Lena Hawkins has spent her every waking moment building her reputation as a top chef and when her money grubbing husband takes the credit and tosses her aside she calls it quits for the sake of her son and returns to the country town where she grew up thankful for the support of her close knit Italian family. Coerced by the local community she opens a restaurant in a disused dairy. 

Adam Chapman, one time Sydney lawyer now deer farmer, is more than happy to provide the premises and have an outlet for his produce. Little does he realize that they have unsavory connections that have nothing to do with the restaurant business. Old secrets are uncovered that rock the small town and drag them both into the world they thought they’d left behind them. 

When Lena discovers Adam was involved in her cousin’s court case, she sees red and tries to back out of the lease but her father convinces her to follow through. It wasn’t Adams fault – his father did a deal to keep him out of trouble. Now Adam feels responsible for Simon’s jail term and joins forces with the local police to set a trap for the people who were ultimately responsible for the money laundering. For it to work though, Simon has to die. 
Lena is rocked to the core when she discovers her ex-husband used her and love never was a part of their all too brief marriage. She was in the right place at the right time, nothing more. 
Can Lena be convinced to start again and conquer her demons?

7 Minutes with an Author

WELCOME SUSANNE BELLAMY!

So glad you could pop in and share a little about yourself and your writing.  

1. What is the theme of your new release?

Trust is integral to relationships and has to be earned. In Long Way Home (Hearts of the Outback bk 3), Sarah Tait will neither trust nor forgive Detective Caleb Richards. The first time they met he slapped handcuffs on her and now, he’s asking for her help to find a kidnapped thoroughbred stallion. But sometimes it’s easier to trust when you dislike a person because there are no rose coloured glasses to distort the picture. (Sounds like fun. Looking forward to this one.)

2. What was/is one of the hardest things about writing your current release?  (Did you or do you want to throw it into the fire like frodo?)

I needed to do quite a lot of research on horses, endurance riding, and plants of the outback. While I rode a few times as a teenager, I’m not a rider but I was fortunate to connect with Sandy Vaile, whose help with the equine elements was wonderful. The tricky part was to use her information and make it sound realistic. I actually enjoy research because I love to learn. (Same here Susanne. I love research.) 

3. Because everyone always wants to know. Are you a panster or plotter?

I’m an organic writer. Each story begins with seeing a ‘meeting’ between the protagonists followed by asking questions to get to know them and what they are doing in that place. The story grows as I get to know the characters and see them interacting with one another. I wish I could plot more than a brief outline, but after ten or so stories, I realise that I have to do what works for me. A story ‘grows’ in its own way and reveals itself when it’s ready. (I like the term ‘organic.’) 

4. How important are reviews to you? Do you get upset when they aren’t favourable? (Like stalk the reviewer and wish they get infested with a thousand fleas.)  

No writer likes to read bad reviews that offer nothing by way of constructive criticism. That said, I try not to pay too much attention to negative statements, although it’s brilliant when a reviewer absolutely ‘gets’ my story. Those reviews, I read again, just to remind myself that real people actually enjoy my book babies. 

5. How do you market your books? (Stand at the top of a building and shout buy my book?) Any events you want the reader to know about e.g. Coming appearances or signing?

I use social media, FB and Twitter, and my infrequent newsletter to let readers know. Friends and fellow authors often share these posts for me, which is greatly appreciated. My experience with blog tours is that they can be fun, but not to expect too much from them. 

6. Social Media – Love it or hate it? Where do you hang out the most?  Any tips to share? 

By nature I’m more of an introvert. I’m also a technogumby so you could say I have a love/hate relationship with electronic devices and the Web. Best tip: deal with people as you would like to be dealt with; and keep your posts positive! 

7. What is your favourite motivational phrase or positive saying?  

Don’t worry, be happy. To a fair degree, happiness is a choice for most of us so, as much as possible, I choose to be happy and look for the good.

As for my writing, Nelson Mandela said it best: It always seems impossible until it’s done. (Both are very good quotes and true.)

If you want to know more about Susanne, you can visit her here; 

http://www.susannebellamy.com 

 

Long Way Home 

Available 30 June. Pre-order on: Amazon

Blurb

The first time they met Detective Caleb Richards snapped handcuffs on Sarah Tait and she vowed never to forgive him. But when he seeks her help to find a kidnapped thoroughbred stallion she becomes his unwilling assistant. 

Sarah sets out on a marathon endurance ride. As Caleb tags along, he realises that the horse whisperer has deeper secrets than he’d ever suspected.

Can he uncover Sarah’s secrets and win her trust? 

 

 

Other books in the outback series,

Book 1
Book 2

 

 

7 Minutes with an Author

WELCOME Ebony McKenna!

So glad you could pop in and share a little about yourself and your writing.   

1. What is the theme of the book you are working on?

I wait until I’ve finished a draft to see what themes my subconscious has let through. It looks like my forthcoming novel, Robyn and the Hoodettes, has themes revolving around family bonds and good friends supporting each other, especially when Dad’s off fighting a war in the Middle East.

In 1916-Ish, I didn’t realise until I was done that the theme is about dealing with everyday conflict – between friends and between countries. And also that you can never escape your fears, you have to face them. (It’s rather universal isn’t it?) 

2. What was/is one of the hardest things about writing one of your books/current manuscript?  (Did you or do you want to throw it into the fire like frodo?)

I am easily distracted. In my current manuscript, Robyn and her mates keep having little adventures and side trips that delay the proper action. I let them play, but now I’ve had to slash and burn to get things back on track. It’s a stronger book for it – I know the characters much better and I’ve cut the waffle. 

3. Because everyone always wants to know. Are you a panster or plotter?

I love to plot. I’m a huge fan of structure. Before I write too much of a story, I like to know what the midpoint is, what the black moment is, and how they ‘storm the castle’ and get the result they need. (although not always the result they want). 

There’s something to be said for letting the characters off the leash to see where they end up. It helps me write my way into the story and get to know them. Then I edit it out later. (Very true and I agree. I think utopia is a mix of both.) 

4. How important are reviews to you? Do you get upset when they aren’t favourable? (Like stalk the reviewer and wish they get infested with a thousand fleas.)  

Reviews are incredibly important, and it’s wonderful when readers take my characters to their hearts. I’ve never had a particularly nasty review (thank goodness) but I’ve had careless ones, where the ‘reviewer’ has left a single word (‘boring’) and one star. I know nobody reading the rest of the reviews will change their purchasing opinion based on that, but it does stuff up my average.

What did I do about it? I started a fun facebook page called ‘My one-star review is better than your one-star review.’ It’s a place where authors can laugh and gently mock those utterly pointless reviews. (I need to visit. I was thinking along the same lines…the Darwin awards for reviews. Let’s face it, some of them are way off base. Truth be told we can giggle about it.) 

Catharsis is good. 

5. How do you market your books? (Stand at the top of a building and shout buy my book?)

I use a third party to send review copies out to readers – so I can get a few reviews up. I promote the title via my newsletter, which is growing steadily, and I will casually mention the book (but not too often) on social media.

I’ve also joined four awesome writers (Maree Anderson, Vanessa Barneveld, Robyn Grady and Sara Hantz) for our Dangerous Boys anthology. Teaming up is wonderful because I can recommend people buy the book for everyone else’s stories rather than mentioning mine.

Competitions are good for promotion, but the prize must be tied in to the books in some way, otherwise you’ll just get competition seagulls, who fly in, take the prize and fly off. For example, offering an Amazon voucher is no guarantee that the winner will be interested in you or your books. They’ll be very happy with the prize, but the value isn’t linked to the author’s ‘brand’.

I’ve given away copies of my books and not received a review afterwards. Some winners do read them and review them, but others are gone and never heard from again.

My four Ondine novels are about a girl whose ferret starts talking with a Scottish accent. They’re fun and full of swooning and magic. I’ve run competitions to win ferret pins, cards and jewellery. I might not get as many people entering the competition, but at least I know the entrants are interested.

I’ve used book promo places like E-Reader News Today and seen my book rocket right up into the bestseller lists. It’s an amazing feeling, and I’m happy to use them again. I’d love to get into BookBub, but I might have an easier time catching a unicorn. (All good advice here, thanks Ebony.)

6. Social Media – Love it or hate it?  Where do you hang out the most?  Any tips to share? 

I adore social media, it’s where I am very sociable. I hang out the most on facebook and twitter. I keep the ‘buy my book’ talk to an absolute minimum. I hate being spammed, so I don’t like doing it to other people. But I love facebook for chatting and sharing funny pictures, and I love twitter for the witty hashtags – they are so much fun. I also love to join in the organised chats – when the time zones are kind. I love #UKYAChat but now that the UK is in daylight savings and we’re out of it, I have to get up at 5am on a Saturday.

7. What is your favourite motivational phrase or positive saying?

“Keep going.” (Simple yet wise words Ebony!)

If you want to know more about Ebony, you can find her here;

Website: www.ebonymckenna.com

 

1916-ish by Ebony McKenna

“Romance, time travel and daring adventure await Australian exchange student Ingrid Calloway as she journeys to France. When she joins in a war-games re-enactment with Luc and Marianne Durand, it turns into the real thing. Real guns, real dangers and real bullets put them in mortal peril in the midst of the First World War. Suddenly Ingrid’s fighting two battles at once; one for her personal safety and another against her growing attraction to Luc, who looks super-hot in uniform.

Life in 1916 France soon takes a nasty turn – because the Eiffel Tower isn’t even there. They’re not just stuck in the past; they’re in a parallel world. How can they dodge the dangers of history when history won’t follow the script?

1916-Ish. History, with a twist.”

 

Links for books

iBooks : https://itunes.apple.com/us/author/ebony-mckenna/id429033242?mt=11

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Ebony-McKenna/e/B0057PRSL2

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