Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Series Review: The Knitting Mystery Series by Maggie Sefton

I can just hear the eyes rolling out there. Knitting? Seriously?
And I going to say, yes! But while there may be a knitting pattern at the end of the book, this mystery sleuth is not one to be trifled with.
Enter Kelly Flynn, self-employed accountant, softball player, property owner and murder investigator.
Sure she knits, but only learns to do so when she moves to Fort Connor and starts a new life.
Meet Kelly's circle of friends who supports her through the good and bad of life and its relationships, to say nothing of applying their considerable combined brainpower (lawyer, architect, therapist, real estate agent, computer programmer, and more) to help her solve murders happening in and around their town.
But real life happens too and the difficulties of the farmers, a down turn in the economy, changes in relationships are brought to life in this very entertaining series.
The stories follow a timeline and I would recommend that you read them in order. And being the romantic at heart, I am forever holding my breath to see if Kelly finds the love that she deserves. :)

A series well worth reading, even if you don't care for knitting! Lots of interesting facts about alpaca farming, wool dyeing and spinning are woven into the story without being just dry facts to make up the page count.

In my book this series deserves 5 stars all the way!

Sunday, 28 September 2014

How to Optimise your Guest Post on a Host's Blog

This post was reblogged with permission from Chris Graham @ The Story Reading Ape 

While I cannot speak for other bloggers on this topic, I suspect that similar advantages may be gained by using the following tips and suggestions when invited to appear as a guest on any blog:

1.  Always read any conditions and/or requirements pertaining to the host blog, follow them and check everything before you send your submission. Especially any hyperlinks you provide.  This will minimise any research and correspondence time between you and your host. Some blogs (like mine) schedule their posts in advance (up to two months in advance in my case), so requests to change your article, even only slightly, can be problematic.

2.  Never forget that a guest post is your opportunity to touch base with potential readers, other authors and even possible future friends (WordPress visitors are especially friendly and I have found them to be always willing to help other authors and bloggers, as well as me)

3.  Never, ever consider using a guest post ONLY as a “Buy My Book” advertisement – there are other vehicles you can useto do this, e.g., Book Promos, Giveaway Announcements, Freebie Day Announcements, New Book Release Announcements, Book Tours, etc.
After all, if you are being introduced to a stranger by your party host, or a mutual friend, do you immediately wave your book in front of the new face and scream “BUY MY BOOK” instead of saying “Hello” and allowing a little time to get to know each other a little better?
Of course you can (quietly) mention your books, but only after they’ve got to know you a bit better :)

4.  Never, ever share a personal secret online. Ambitions, hopes, things that inspired or comforted you are OK for public consumption, but never, ever, a personal secret. It could be just as damaging as sharing an embarrassing photo of yourself on Twitter.

5.  Respond to any comments made on the host blog about your published guest article, especially thank the folks who have re-blogged your post, they are helping spread your fame further afield.
Visit the blogs of commenters and re-bloggers, you might like what you see there, become a follower, gain a friend and maybe even appear on that blog in future :)

6.  Share the published blog post in as many media groups you are a part of, not just by re-blogging it, or doing a quick tweet, or even uploading it onto your Facebook page.
Many bloggers (like me) provide as many sharing facilities as their blog format gives, so visitors can share posts they like with their friends (and even their online groups).

7.  Take full advantage of these sharing facilities, not just once or twice, but revisit and use them again and again over a few days or weeks.
Share with your Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ Groups, and respond to any and all comments made there as well, especially thank the folks who have re-shared your article (see point 5 above).

8.  DO NOT SPAM - Overdoing the sharing will have a negative effect on your popularity and your books.

9.  Definition of Spam: NAGGING – i.e., repeating the same thing over and over and over in an almost automatic way till the point is (quickly) reached that you lose followers, friends (and possibly even family)

10.  So how often SHOULD you share? Ask yourself how often you would care to see someone else’s repeated messages, then divide it by two :D
It has been suggested not more than twice per day twelve hours apart and vary the timing by an hour each day thereafter.
STOP SHARING AFTER 12 DAYS – it is now stale and old news – even if you change the introductory headline each time!

So my fine author friends, there you have it.  Good Luck in your endeavours and don’t forget DO NOT SPAM.

Note from Linzé: Please follow Chris over at The Story Reading Ape, he supports and promotes indie authors like me, thank you! ❤ ❤ 

Friday, 26 September 2014

Romance in September: The Scent of a Soul by Jennifer Thompson

Fleeing her recent past, Lilliah Woods finds refuge in the anonymity of the present day inner-city slums. As she settles into the seedy apartment she must now call home, she meets mysterious Marek Jamison when he materializes in her doorway demanding to know who she is. From that moment, he becomes a guardian and guide as she gradually discovers his hidden world. As their relationship develops, Lilliah learns of Marek's dark past and of a brothers' quarrel he has been embroiled in for years. The quarrel turns into a larger battle of good and evil, liberty versus tyranny, and the separation of love and lust. With Lilliah as the ultimate prize, the deadly conflict reaches out to threaten her family, and the outcome of the final battle will determine her fate. Lilliah must embark on an unexpected path that teaches her to trust in the man she has come to love, and give of herself as she never thought she could....

Crossing the worn, unpolished floor boards to the windows, Lilliah slid back the curtains to see empty, pale gray clouds cover the sun, adding to her depression. The tears fell, and she let them. She almost considered pushing aside her pride and calling her parents. They had pleaded with and warned her. She had not listened and now she had to face the consequences.
Startled by the sense that she was not alone, Lilliah turned towards the open door. A man stood near it, watching her. His imposing figure boldly filled the doorway, and he stared at her with such intensity that it made the hair on the nape of her neck stand up. He had hair the perfect color of brown—like dark chocolate—and a well-groomed ruggedness about him that made him seem out of place in their surroundings. He looked at her with troubled eyes. She couldn’t distinguish their color because of the shadowing of the room, but they made her feel very aware of herself, from her puffy eyes to her runny nose.
He walked towards her with careful, measured steps. There was no look of malicious intent on his face, but Lilliah wondered if she should be afraid. He looked at her like he had seen her before and was seeing her again after a long absence. He stopped so close to her that she took an unconscious step back and bumped into the lamp, causing it to tip. He reached out to steady it, and her. She quickly moved out of his reach. Some of the intensity left his eyes and was replaced with comprehension that he had frightened her. He stepped back.
They were blue. An unbelievable blue. Deep and dark like a newborn baby’s. Lilliah had never seen eyes like his before and they were the last thing she needed to add to her complicated day. They stared at each other, and Lilliah wondered again if she should be frightened. She calmed her breathing to ask, “Can I help you?”
His voice was deep as he demanded, “Who are you?”

Buy Links:            Amazon         CreateSpace         Barnes & Noble

Author Bio
Jennifer Thompson is a native Arizonan whose newfound love for writing stemmed from her great love of books. She enjoys immersing herself in an engaging story and can always be found with a good book close by. A graduate of Brigham Young University with a degree in History Teaching, Jennifer and her husband reside in southern Arizona with their five children. The Scent of a Soul is her debut novel, and with the creative flood gates now opened, she is working on bringing to life other stories waiting to be told.

Online Links:

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Infographic Thursday: How to Focus

A few tips on how to deal with all those things that we have to do, want to do and simply need to manage in our daily lives.

Infographic from www.visual.ly

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Romance in September: Larkin's Letters by Jax Jillian

As Ryan Boone struggles to come to grips with not being able to keep a promise he made to his dying wife, LARKIN’S LETTERS propels readers into the mind of Ryan as he struggles with frequent visits from her ghost and a series of letters she behind.  Ryan worked hard to become one of Hollywood’s most sought-after actors, but no matter how busy or famous he became, he always remained loyal to his childhood best friend, Larkin James.  When Larkin is diagnosed with leukemia, Ryan sacrifices his career to be by her side and in turn realizes how much he had always loved her.  Throughout Larkin’s sickness, Ryan promised that he wouldn’t let her die alone.  But we learn that not all of our promises are within our control.
     Ryan Boone sat on top of the lightning-white sand dune underneath the darkening sky as the sun was starting to set over the New Jersey shoreline. This was the first time he came to this spot since...since...well, he still couldn’t believe what had happened. It was late March 2013, and there was a crisp, chilly breeze in the air. He should have brought a sweatshirt with him, he thought to himself. Wearing only khaki shorts, flip- flops, and a gray Harley Davidson T-shirt adorning his 6’2” muscular frame, he was still used to those warm and sunny California springs. The storm clouds were getting closer and closer. It’s going to be a big one, he thought. There were about a half-dozen shrieking seagulls circling overhead, but there was something refreshing about the sounds of their screams. It was a familiar sound, one that he had grown accustomed to over the past year living here. Ryan threw out some pieces of bread for his old friends.
     “Sorry, I haven’t been here in a while,” he said.
     He looked out into the surrounding unsettled Great Egg Harbor Bay and noticed it was empty. All the boats had docked due to the impending storm. But it was fitting. He didn’t really want anyone around right now. All he wanted was just him and these letters he held in his pocket. As he grasped the envelope and pulled it out, he felt his hands shaking. Why was it so hard? Why couldn’t he just open it? For the past year, he had been as strong of a man as any man could possibly be. But now, this envelope, this piece of paper, was breaking him down.
     He stared at the sealed envelope for a moment before placing it back in his pocket. He noticed the corners had slightly folded over and the blue ink that read “Ryan” on the front had faded a little bit. It had been two months since he got the letters, and it looked like they had been through a war, just like he had been for the past year and a half. They had been constantly in and out of his pocket every day with his every intention of opening them, but he had yet to. Every time he looked at them, he felt sick to his stomach. He began to think about how he got to this place in his life. The last two years had been the best years of his thirty- six-year-old life, but now he was in the darkest place he could ever imagine. He was in hell, he thought, and he couldn’t imagine that a heaven even existed.

Buy Links:    Publisher      Amazon        Barnes & Noble
LARKIN’S LETTERS is Jax Jillian’s debut novel which was inspired by her love for modern day love stories.  She lives in Philadelphia, PA with her husband and son and is currently writing the sequel.  A graduate of La Salle University with a degree in Communication, she also received her a degree for Physical Therapist Assistant from Central Pennsylvania College.  She currently works as a Physical Therapist Assistant outside of Philadelphia.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Series Review: A Books by the Bay Mystery series by Ellery Adams

May it not be said that having money solves all your problems. Meet Olivia Limoges. Millionaire. Aspiring author. Orphan. Business owner. And amateur sleuth.
Accompanied by her canine companion Captain Haviland and her ever helpful Oyster Bay writers group, murder crosses her path more often than she would like.
Of course it helps that one of the writers and a close friend is the local police chief Rawlings.

After years of being away Olivia returns to her home town to finally settle down and get some closure to all the things haunting her - hopefully.
What she did find were new friends, maybe a boyfriend, and murder happening on her doorstep!
Not the kind of homecoming anyone would wish for herself.

Linzé's Comments: I have read several books in the series and I really hope that Ms Adams will write many more. I love the characters and the interaction in the writers' group as they struggle with their novels, their daily lives and of course, putting their collective intellects together to solve the murders plaguing their town.
As the series progresses you learn more about Olivia and her difficult childhood and while she is an intensely private person, I constantly hope that amidst all the murder and mayhem there would be someone waiting in the wings to love her. Hey, I am a sucker for romance!

There is no label on the cover to show that Ms Adams is a best-selling author, but to my mind she should be. I love the books and can highly recommend the series to any mystery lover.

The series earns 5 stars from me :)

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Romance in September: Love: Lost and Found by Pamela Beckford

Love: Lost and Found is Pamela's latest collection of poetry depicting the ups and downs of love. Poems filled with the ecstasy and joy of an abiding love, as well as the heartache of love lost.  Her book trailer can be found here - http://voice.adobe.com/v/USjFF45ByPZ

Buy Links Amazon

Author Bio:
Pamela Beckford started writing poetry in 2013 and quickly began centering all her efforts on poems dealing with the angst of heartache and the exhilaration and joy of love.  She incorporates many different poetry forms (with descriptions in the back of her book to aid the reader). Poetry can be very therapeutic for both the writer and the reader and Pamela's poems are heartfelt and draw out emotions. One reviewer said "She makes me feel things when I read her work that usually stay buried beneath the surface. " She has received several five star reviews for both of her love poem collections. Her poetry is written for those who don't normally write poetry. 

Pamela is a nonprofit executive by day and is passionate about her work with her community. She lives in northeast Indiana and has a grown daughter who is a talented fashion designer and the world's most adorable grandson.

Connect with Pamela online:

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Series Review: Hamish MacBeth Mystery series by MC Beaton

A few years ago I found out that I have Scottish ancestors. Scotland is also one of the places that I want to visit before I die.
So reading this mystery series falls right into my "bucket list" if you want to call  it that.

While the sleuth is not an amateur, he is a police officer, the location and isolation of the village requires his investigative skills to rely on more than forensics and science.
Hamish MacBeth is not you average police officer. People call him lazy and the lord of the manor is of the opinion that he is not good enough to be considered for the dinner guest list. But underneath that veneer of society's perceptions, Hamish is a man that understands people and the things that make them tick, or is that what drives them to murder?
A series with very likeable characters, Hamish is not liked by all, the least of which is another officer who believes that Hamish's ambition is to take his job.
With his dog, hens and sheep to care for, a girlfriend of whom he is not always so sure of, and villagers who are perpetually up to no good, life is never the laid back, lazy thing that he is often accused of.
Set in the Scottish Highlands, in the village of Lochdubh, the reader experiences the life and love and investigations of Hamish MacBeth through the series of 25 books (so far).
Ms Beaton has written several series of books under various pen names, of which the Hamish MacBeth Mystery series is the longest running.

I always look forward to the next book on my reading list, and it is always one of the first that I would read when my order is delivered.

Worth its rave reviews and five stars? Definitely!

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Infographic Thursday: Managing the distractions and disruptions in my life

This is one busy picture, but if you take the time you will see that it explains the reasons why we are running around doing lots of things and accomplishing...nothing.
Focus is essential in this digital era we live in. Email and social media and all kinds of other real life stuff, like dirty dishes, keep our minds spinning in all directions and yet at the end of the day (or week) we are exhausted and still feel as if nothing got done.
Does it happen to you?
Source visual.ly
It happened to me and for a long time before I realised that I can control what I do. Yes, there are distractions everywhere and disruptions all the time.
At work priorities need to be set so you can focus on getting the job done.
When a disruption occurs, make a quick decision: 1. will it prevent me from getting the job done today? 2. if important or serious, then yes, deal with it. 3. if not, add to the list of things that needs to be done after the important thing(s) have been completed.
Our own lives are much the same. What is important to you?
As a writer, my third novel needs to be finished and in my life that is important.
So what will distract me from doing what I want to do? Dirty dishes? Laundry? Dogs that need feeding? Family obligations? The party my husband committed the two of us to go to, three weeks ago?
Manage them. I try write for two hours everyday before I go to bed, if I cannot then half and hour or fifteen minutes will do too.
By then, what is not done has to wait until the next day, or the weekend. As you can see I am not an anal housekeeper, but my social life can be challenging, since my husband is more of a social animal than I am.
While saying 'no' is no longer a problem for me, I cannot alienate my friends, family and husband all the time, so I have to write around this. It works most of the time, and when things go wrong, there is always the fifteen minutes before I go to bed.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Romance in September: The Troublesome Apprentice by Liza O'Connor

While investigating the death of a friend and client, Maddy Hamilton, Xavier Thorn (reputed to be the greatest sleuth in England) is greatly impressed with Maddy’s nephew, Victor, and offers him a job as his secretary. Aware of Xavier’s history of firing secretaries, Victor garners a promise that for three months he cannot be fired. Vic then proceeds, in Xavier’s view, to be cheeky and impertinent at every turn.
Xavier endures the impudent pup because Victor is most skilled in extracting the truth from clients and intuiting facts with little evidence to assist. As they solve a string of cases, Xavier discovers a few more important details about his troublesome apprentice, such as her true gender, and the realization that she has awakened his long dormant heart.

Vic knelt down to reduce her height and reached to the sill of the fireplace. “What if he knocked over the vase when searching the sill, then feared the item might have been in the vase and had fallen into the embers?”
“A reasonable possibility. Do you think he recovered what he sought in the ashes?”
“No, for he continues his search. You can see soot on the coffee table and side table drawers.” Vic pulled them open to study the contents. Dark smudges marred the napkins and doilies in the top one. The other, however, was completely empty. “How odd.”
“What did the bottom one have in it?”
“As in buttons for dresses?”
“Rather too bold for a dress, although some had been snipped from coats. Aunt Maddy collected fanciful buttons.” Vic stared at Xavier’s suit. “The ones on your vest would have caught her eye. I used to tease her she was part crow, for they are reputed to have a weakness for gewgaws.”
Pain filled her heart. She’d never tease Aunt Maddy about anything ever again. She paused and choked back the tears threatening to fall.
“Were they valuable?” Xavier’s voice lost its bark.
“Some had jewels embedded, but nothing one would kill for.” Vic shook her head. “I don’t think he came for Maddy’s collection, I think he simply couldn’t resist it once discovered.”
“I agree. How did you reach your conclusion?”
“Because he now searches the desk. If he had come for the buttons, he would have left directly.”
“And how did you determine he searched the desk last?”
“The footprints show he went first to the fireplace, and from there we can follow a trail of soot until we reach the small side table. It is here the soot stops. Perhaps he took out his handkerchief, wiped his hands, before bundling the buttons in the cloth. With his hands now clean, he ran them through his hair, either because he has a nervous tick or perhaps a stray lock had fallen into his eyes. Intending to search elsewhere, he walked to the door and tried to open it. In doing so, he left an oily residue from his hand. Finding the library door locked, he returned to the desk and, using the letter opener, pried free the center drawer.” Vic opened the desk drawer and frowned at the chaos. “He certainly searched in here. Aunt Maddy kept a very tidy desk.”
“Can you tell if anything is missing?”
“Not in this state. I would have to put everything back in place first.”
“Do it,” Xavier said. “So far all we know about the object the man sought is it isn’t paper. Had it been, he would have gone to the desk first.”
“Nor is it something he expected Aunt Maddy to value greatly, or why would she leave it on the fire sill or in a table drawer?”
Xavier stared at her.
“Nothing. Continue on with your work.”
As Vic put all the objects of the drawer back into their proper places, she discovered one thing: Xavier Thorn had absolutely no patience.
“How long could this possibly take?”
“There are hundreds of items,” Vic explained.
Xavier exhaled in frustration. “It is good I sent home my driver. He would have died from pneumonia by now. By the way, your butler has obligated you to provide me with a carriage home.”
Vic smiled at his declaration.
“I trust your smile is one of compliance. Are you not done yet?”
“I will tell you when I’m done,” Vic snapped. “And why are you suddenly so impatient?”

Find The Troublesome Apprentice on Amazon

About the Author
I’m tired of telling my proper bio. So you get the improper bio. Liza O’Connor was raised by feral cats, which explains a great deal, such as why she has no manners, is always getting in trouble, and doesn’t behave like a proper author and give you a proper bio.She is highly unpredictable, both in real life and her stories, and presently is writing humorous romances. Please buy these books, because otherwise, she’ll become grumpy and write troubled novels instead. They will likely traumatize you.
Mostly humorous books by Liza:
Saving Casey – Old woman reincarnates into troubled teen’s body. (Half funny/half traumatizing)
Ghost LoverTwo British brothers fall in love with the same young woman. Ancestral ghost is called in to fix the situation. There’s a ghost cat too. (Humorous Contemporary Romance)
A Long Road to Love Series: (Humorous Contemporary odd Romance)
Worst Week Ever — Laugh out loud week of disasters of Epic proportions.
Oh Stupid Heart — The heart wants what it wants, even if it’s impossible.
Coming to Reason — There is a breaking point when even a saint comes to reason.
Climbing out of Hell — The reconstruction of a terrible man into a great one.

Investigate these sites:

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Series Review: The Cat Who Series by Lilian Jackson Braun

This is the first of the promised amateur sleuth series reviews I mentioned in August. I deferred the posts until the Follow Me Tour was over.

If you are a mystery fan and cat (or animal) lover this series will grab your attention straight away.
The sleuth of the series is a Siamese cat called Kao K'o Kung (Koko for short). He meets his human assistant James Qwilleran in the first book when he is left homeless after his first owner is murdered.
Of course a male needs companionship, and Yum Yum is the perfect female to fit into his domain. They have Qwill well trained when it comes to their choices in food, nothing so ordinary as canned tuna, thank you very much!
These three characters, Qwill, Koko and Yum Yum, will steal your heart and before you know it you will be as addicted as I am. Fortunately, there are many still for me to read. Ms Braun wrote 30 books in the series before she passed away in 2011.
I read the books in order, and find that it is best to do that. The mystery in each book stands on its own, but the backstory is better understood if you read them in order. Aside from the mystery to be solved in each book, you follow the path of James Qwilleran (Qwill to his friends), a middle aged, recovering alcoholic newspaper reporter, who also wants to write a novel. His return to the world of newspaper ink, also brings some really weird, funny and interesting people crossing his path to give added colour to the stories.
Life events, interesting women (read sometime girlfriends), cats with attitude and murders make for an entertaining series with the three companions as they dig up (or dig out) clues to find the murderers.
If you love character driven stories, old fashioned murder mysteries, and cats that have their own personalities, this series is definitely for you.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Follow Me Tour: The last of Botswana

Hippo not happy with us being so close
With almost 4000 photographs under my belt for this trip, it will take several weeks, if not months, to work through them all.
It was an amazing experience to take these photographs from a boat on the Chobe river, or a Unimog driving overland in the Chobe Nature Reserve on the northern most area of Botswana.

I have added more of the photographs to Pinterest if you want to have a look. As I work through to 4000, more will be added to my Botswana board. My perfect picture turned out to be not so perfect after all.
The composition is very good, but the photograph is not perfectly sharp so there is not much that I can do with it in terms of printing and framing it for an exhibition we will be having later this year. But such is life :)
I am thinking of painting it in oil, then at least the effort will not have been wasted.
Then again, my husband thinks it can be fixed since the photograph is good enough. I am so happy now!
He just made my day, and via Skype too!
Oh, if you want to see what the hubbub was about - here is the link :)

Water monitor basking in the early morning sun

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Issuu Sept/Oct Edition

In this issue, cover author New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Dianne Duvall shares with us about her Immortal Guardian’s paranormal romance series. Join us as we chat with Dianne about her work, then take a sneak peek at Night Unbound, the latest in her popular series.

Many more wonderful authors including A.L. Jackson, Quinn Loftis, Mary Manners and more.

Don't miss these entertaining columns -> Our New Column Debut
Bestseller’s Secret

Chic Trends in Romance

The Hot Hunks of History

The Heat Diva

Ali B. and the Forty Spaceships

The Scrying Eye

Forever Young

BTS Goes Hollywood


The CreativeLife in review - planning, time management, and the creative life

  Hey there, creative friend! It's been a week or more since my last post but mostly because I have been taking time to do other things....