Monday, 29 February 2016

Book Review: Latina Authors and their Muses by Mayra Calvani

I volunteered to read and review this non-fiction book. First off, I didn't like the format of the book. It is a collection of one interview after the other. While it is okay to read an interview, this many was a bit of a challenge. The author interviewed 40 Latina authors.
What I should have done, and only realised this about 40% through, was to check the table of contents first to see if I knew any of the authors being interviewed. Not personally of course, but knew as in have read any of their books.
I wasn't familiar with the majority of the authors, purely because I don't read in their genre. I did find one author who happened to be a favourite of mine, Caridad Piñeiro. I love her books and skipped immediately to her interview.
I would suggest that you do the same if you want to read this book.
From the interviews I did read, and I read many of them in detail, the authors were forthcoming in their answers. Their words could serve as inspiration to many young and new authors, and not only if you are of South American descent.
The interviews showed that even though these Latin ladies are published, and many award-winning and best-selling authors, their struggles would be familiar to many authors or aspiring authors. I quite liked their comments on their muses. Despite their sometimes humorous take on the muse, it is clear that inspiration is only a small part of the story and hard work the true way to get things done.
If you are looking to read a book about how real authors deal with the daily grind of producing stories and how they got to be where they are today, this will open your eyes to what the real life of a writer is like.

I give it 

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Linzé's Mischief: 28 February 2016

This year is two months old and already people are asking: where did the time go? Time is not ticking by any faster than it did last year or the year before or even ten years ago, and yet people still ask. I have been wondering about that for a while now. Why do we feel that time goes by faster, when in actual fact it does not.
Does it have to do with the rat race we found ourselves in? Or perhaps it is the increasing levels of stress we have to deal with every day? Or perhaps...I don't know...drifting along doing what is required - work, family, chores, work. Would we feel the same if we lived life for ourselves?
I don't mean that in a selfish, egocentric way, but do we even bother to make an appointment with ourselves, to meet our own needs of comfort and pleasure and self-expression?
My husband mentioned that December and January flew by at the speed of white light, but didn't make the same statement about February. While I was sketching today, I had a thought about that.
Yes, December and January for us had been hectic. Some things unplanned crossed our paths and for that he could be forgiven to think that time flew by.
But February was not like that, was it? Yes, we were busy, for him especially but that is normal in our lives.
I did another lesson in my tai chi class today - I am a bit behind on learning new forms, although I have been keeping up with my practicing. Especially after my horrible day yesterday, had an awful migraine that kept me in bed most of the time, another lesson was a welcome distraction. But it also reminded me of what I am doing with my time. My tai chi teacher (I am doing David Dorian-Ross' course) mentioned that a student of tai chi should be more aware of her next move. Her next choice. Her reaction towards a threat or simply what is going on around her. This way you have a measured response, a responsible counter reaction.
I think it is true about everything going on around us. A little philosophical perhaps, but maybe it is necessary to step back once in a while and think about the future. Time is only in our future. We cannot do anything about what has gone past. If we are more aware of what we spend our time on, on where we are wasting our time, will this not help to not ask the question 'where did the time go?'
Maybe I am more aware of time with the passing of my mother recently, but I think it was just one more prompt for me to look at what I am doing with my time and my life. Am I using time as best I can, or am I fooling myself about it?
Francois had been to a Photographic Society board meeting today and upon his return, he asked me what the soccer score had been between Man U and Arsenal. I had no idea. I didn't watch the game. I was utilising my time on the activity I promised myself as my new year's resolution - doing art. It will be a gift for a family member. Until he asked, I didn't know they had a game today. I used to love watching, but it has become less important to me. Maybe it never really was that important to begin with.

Are you still keeping up with that resolution for 2016? Is your time spent doing the important things you have been promising yourself? Do I dare ask the question: where did your time go this year?

Thursday, 25 February 2016

The laundry, the writer and the timer they both used

I wrote 8500 words last weekend. I decided to sit and write my story for the JOURNEY project and get the first draft done after weeks of excuses. I did write, but other stories, so I wasn't procrastinating. I was avoiding the story that I should have been writing. The reasons for the avoidance are many, but let's just say that writing a story where grief is the main theme just after my mother passed away, was not going to be easy and I dreaded that. But I did it.
Before I get into the how of that, a small laundry lesson. My washing machine beeps when it has finished the program I had chosen for that load. I use that as my timer. I don't have to watch the clock or worry about how much time or how many words I still have to do. I write, and the washing machine's beeps will call time for a session. Since the lengths of the programs vary according to the load, how many rinse and spin cycles I chose, etc., I can use that to suit my energy levels.
Mid-morning will require a shorter cycle since I have to watch my blood sugar and eat at predetermined intervals. After I had something to eat, I can select laundry that requires a longer cycle. While this might be weird to you, it helped me to write a story that I had to write, but had been avoiding. With a deadline (that I set) not too far away, I had to make a plan to force myself to do this. And here is how I did that:
Saturday - it was short before 11 am, and I had to have a meal at about 12 pm. I went through my laundry basket and chose light fabrics, of mixed colours - typically clothes I would wear to work that won't get dirty because my job is mostly office based. Cycle = 40 minutes.
I started writing at 10h56. I didn't hear the machine beep because of music playing on my computer and the air-conditioner running in the passage outside my home office. I stopped at 11h57 and managed to get from 466 to 1651 words in that time.
The scene was emotionally draining, and I felt tired, so I took a long break. Took care of the laundry, had lunch, took some time to play with the dogs and got back to my computer at 13h39. I had another load of laundry ready but this time, the cycle was 1hr and 35min.
Again I stopped at 14h49 and managed to get to 2921 words. I was beginning to see a pattern that had nothing to do with the story. I could sit and write for about an hour before I had to get up and move around because of a back problem. I had noticed this before (also at work) but never really paid attention until I had this story to write. Okay, now I could work around that too.
Saturday evening I added a few more words and went to bed with 4527 words written. Not bad for a day where I had multiple tasks to do and had a story to write.
The requirements for the story are a minimum of 9000 words, so I was aiming towards that. This was the basic story, I would have to do a lot of editing, but this minimum target was not a bad place to aim for.
On Sunday my husband and I had our usual breakfast out, so I could only start writing again once we were back home a few minutes before 10 am. I didn't do much laundry, except some underwear because I was running low. Since I now knew that my body could handle being still for an hour at a time, I could work with that without worrying about the clock or my word count.
Here is how my Sunday went:
10h07 to 10h49 - I added another 858 words.
By 12h03 I had 6042 words in the story.
14h23 - 6451 words
14h34 - 6663 words
16h35 - 7485 words
16h50 - 7751 words
17h01 - 7984 words
17h31 - 8455 words
18h11 - 8975 words
As you might guess, I wasn't writing continuously, but that was okay. I had been able to consistently add words to my story until I felt the story was done. The above info I wrote down on a piece of paper next to my computer. This habit of mine to keep track of my words helps me to keep going.
Yes, my story is not 9000 words, but it will require more words to paint the complete picture that I want for my readers.
Don't misunderstand me - I cannot do this every weekend. I have other obligations most weekends, and I was utterly exhausted afterwards. So much so that at work on Monday I was having a hard time focusing. This it not the most number of words I have written over a weekend. If memory serves, I have done more than 10 000 words for NaNoWriMo one year.
These 8500 words came at a high emotional price for me, but having read the story afterwards (not ready for editing yet) I feel it could it be a story worth publishing. Let's hope my writers' group agree otherwise I will have to come up with a new idea - and soon!

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

The Friendship Affair

The Friendship Affair by Linzé Brandon, blog serial
Not all long lasting marriages are happy. But what do you do if divorce is not an option?
University friends, Stephanie and Nick, meet again after twenty years. But life has not been easy or simple for either of them. Will this friendship affair stand a chance against reality?

They met the following Sunday afternoon at the coffee shop.
“How has your week been?”
“Rough, but I managed. Yours?”
Nick smiled at the memory of his kids' visit two days earlier. “Splendid actually. Work was busy as usual.”
Stephanie pointed to his mouth. “That smile tells me there is more.”
A few minutes later she was laughing with him.
“Sounds like your children want you to be happy.”
He nodded. “Yeah, I think so too.”
They finished their coffee and decided to go for a walk in the fairy garden. They didn't go to the cottage but stayed on the public paths.
There were more people in the garden, some even with dogs or baby strollers out to get a breather from the heat.
They didn't talk much, each lost in their own thoughts.
He wondered what she would say to a change in their relationship. The more time he spent with her, the more he wanted to kiss her, hold her, make love to her. And yet something was holding him back. She was not like the others. They were friends and he wanted that connection to stay.
Maybe it was people always saying that you lose the friend if you gain the lover.
He watched the sun sprinkle highlights in her red-brown hair, and wondered why they hadn't been lovers all those years ago. She was highly intelligent and beautiful on top of that. They were almost the same age, and yet time had been her friend when he compared her to other women of his era.
When the path might a tight turn, they were almost enclosed by trees and shrubs in their own little world.
He caught her looking at him.
“Will you—”
He cut her words off by sealing his lips to hers.
And then the world exploded in an array of colours and flavours.

* * *
Stephanie caught herself smiling at the oddest moments. Even her oldest friend knew something was up when they met for lunch on Monday.
While Denise knew about her husband, Stephanie never told anyone about the affairs, fearing her friend's censure and loss of friendship.
With a great deal of effort, Stephanie managed to get through lunch without making a fool of herself.
Neither did she tell Denise about meeting up with him again. She too knew him at uni, might even have dated him once or twice. But Nick was her secret. Something she didn't want to share with friends and family. Her own happiness.
Stephanie stopped in her tracks. Happiness?
When was the last time she felt something even remotely resembling that emotion?
She opened the door to the building of her afternoon appointment. After signing in at security, she got into the elevator.
Many people returned after going out for lunch and the car stopped at every floor. She stood at the back and watched the numbers of the floors slowly roll over.
Her cheeks heated with the memory of the kiss in the garden. She touched her lips remembering the way his moved and teased hers. Even her body recalled its heated reaction.
Nick wanted to be lovers, he made that clear, but he didn't kiss with sex on his brain. There was desire, and heat, which they shared once she got over the shock of that first touch. She wanted him too. All because of a kiss that made her happy. Happy? Could a kiss do that? How could he do that?
The floor number rolled around that woke her mind to the reality of getting back to work.

Missed the previous chapters? Read them on Wattpad

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Linzé's Mischief: 21 February 2016

It has just gone past 7 pm and I am exhausted. I set myself the target to sit and write the first draft of Galen's Hope this weekend. I have been coming up with excuses for weeks now and on Friday, I decided that enough is enough. So I kept my notes close, the box of tissues closer and I wrote the story.
Yesterday was bad. I had to do the scenes where Galen's found out that his entire family was killed, except his sister. Then he had to watch her die. Man, it was exhausting. I was crying so much my nose started bleeding. I also seemed to have a burst vein in one eye, although that could have been from the pressure test the optometrist did on Friday. The crying probably made it worse, but yeah, it wasn't fun.
Today's scenes were as emotional but the story was not an easy one to write. I have asked for people to read it to see if the story works. If not, there is still enough time for me to do another one before the JOURNEY project's deadline.
But it's done and I am not going to touch it for a few weeks before editing it.
On a lighter note, I have started editing another story for my blog - The Billionaire Baritone. It is a sweet romance that will soon grace the pages of the Broomstick.
On that note, people have been saying that the links to early chapters of The Friendship Affair were not working. Since I have not had such difficulties, I also published the chapters (already available on my blog) to Wattpad. Now you can read them in order. You can also follow me on Wattpad to get the latest instalment right away.
Look out for several reviews coming over the next few weeks. And they are not just romance novels, I promise.
You might have seen the post about my mother's passing a few weeks ago. In there I mentioned her love for cross-stitch. My dad gave me all my mom's embroidery stuff and the finished projects. I have been pondering what to do with them since the colour schemes of the various designs she had done do not fit my home.
Then I got the idea to make a quilt - a couch cover really - and to use them in such a way that they will blend in with the colour scheme of my living room. So my project for the upcoming winter will be to make the quilt. I have done it before, but this will be a challenge of a different kind. Will keep you posted.
I am going to get some coffee, put my feet up and read the next Embroidery Mystery by Amanda Lee, Cross-stitch before dying ( loving the series!)

Until next time!

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

The Friendship Affair

The Friendship Affair by Linzé Brandon, blog serial
Not all long lasting marriages are happy. But what do you do if divorce is not an option?
University friends, Stephanie and Nick, meet again after twenty years. But life has not been easy or simple for either of them. Will this friendship affair stand a chance against reality?


“Hey, Dad. What's up?”
Nick smiled at his youngest holding out a beer to him while she sipped her soft drink.
“I am good. So how was the last official day of school?”
“Surprising,” she replied. “I thought I would be ecstatic, but there is a lingering sadness too. Too weird.”
He nodded. “I get that. It is a phase of your life that will soon be over. I think it's okay to feel a little sadness about that.”
Lindie curled her legs up on the chair. “I guess.”
She took a long drink and pointed the bottle top at him. “So what are you going to do?”
“What do you mean? I will still be here.”
“You should get married again. Then you won't be so alone all the time.”
He almost snorted beer through his nose. Luckily most of it went down the right hole. After wiping his nose with a handkerchief, he eyed the young woman. When did she grow up on him?
“Did your brothers put you up to this?”
She grinned. “Nah, but we all agree.”
“Agree on what?” two more, deeper, voices echoed.
After a lot of hugging and teasing, the younger men settled down and popped their beers. Both having detoured through the kitchen on their way to the outside patio. Neither lived at home, but they always seemed to pop in at the right, or was it wrong, time.
“Dad needs to get married again,” Lindie supplied the belated answer.
The guys tapped their bottle necks together and took a long swallow.
Ñick swallowed around the tightness in his throat. He was so proud of them. Gary and Albert both went to university on scholarships for which they had worked their butts off, saying that he should save his money for their sister. Lindie wanted to go to medical school, and scholarships were rarely awarded to students right out of high school. The boys went into engineering, albeit different disciplines.
“Yeah, Dad. You have been taking care of us all this time. It is time to find someone of your own again.”
“I thought you should have done so years ago, but now you cannot use us as an excuse anymore,” the cheeky chirp came from his other side.
He coughed, even though he had nothing in his mouth. “Why this sudden matchmaking scheme?”
The three siblings laughed together, but it faded into the quiet Friday afternoon. “We know how tough it has been to raise us after our mother had left, but we thought to tell you that we are okay with you getting married again.”
Still trying to get over the shock, he stared at his children. They were laughing and joking about something else, but he simply watched their faces. They were all technically adults, but his eyes had opened to the incredible people his children had become.
Too bad their mother would never see that. Even though he had tried to make their marriage work, it had been clear that she had no interest in doing the same. Lindie had barely been a week old when Lena packed her bags and asked for a divorce.
He had never told them where she was, although they had only kept in contact out of necessity.
He smiled when the youngest and oldest conned the middle one into getting everyone another round. Yeah, they turned out more than just alright.

Missed the previous chapters? Read them on Wattpad

Friday, 12 February 2016

I need your help...for a character

My Intimate Stranger by Linzé Brandon, cover teaser
Synopsis: Juliana needs a man that has some adventure in his blood. She meets Ryland on her way home, but does not see his face. She becomes intimately acquainted with his hands though. To preserve the mystery and the excitement of their public affair, she never tries to look at him when he touches her on the crowded bus.
My Intimate Stranger is the first in a trilogy of two people who embark on the sexual relationship adventure of a lifetime.

My challenge to you: I need an occupation for Ryland.
He has to have the kind of job where a regular bus ride would not be out of character, even if it's not an everyday occurrence. It has to be the kind of job my readers will associate with an adventurous, confident man in his early thirties.
Juliana is a forensic accountant the same age as Ryland. Her confidence and adventurous spirit are reflected in the story in the way she dresses and wears her hair.

Share your answer in the comments below and remember to leave a way (one link will suffice) for me to contact you (email, blog URL, Facebook page or Twitter handle). I will choose an answer I think will work best for the story and give the winner a discount coupon for a free download of my erotic romance ebook, Their+1.

The competition closes on the 14th. I will announce the winner on the 15th on my blog and my Facebook page.

I look forward to your suggestions!

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

The Friendship Affair

Not all long lasting marriages are happy. But what do you do if divorce is not an option?
University friends, Stephanie and Nick, meet again after twenty years. But life has not been easy or simple for either of them. Will this friendship affair stand a chance against reality?  


Stephanie knew she was running late, but had warned Nick of the possibility earlier in the day. The meeting had taken longer than usual since the client had misplaced an invoice she had needed to calculate the VAT.
She rushed forward a few steps, then stopped to consult her tablet for his directions.
Five minutes later, she stopped again, this time, to admire the view.
Like the week before, she couldn't believe this place existed.
A tiny cottage, hidden from view in the fairy garden. She had passed several people on the main path.
“For a secret, this place was popular,” she muttered to herself.
Only when she reached the fifth bench situated on the left-hand side of the path did she pause to look around. Once she was sure she was alone, she quickly stepped off the path and slipped into the trees behind the bench.
The trees and bushes were denser, but it wasn't too difficult to find the overgrown footpath.
He was waiting at the entrance.
“Glad you made it.”
She ran a hand through her hair, pulling out a few leaves that were caught in her curls.
“Me too.”
He waved a hand to his left. “Shall we?”
They walked a few meters away from the cottage into a small clearing.
“A picnic?”
“Had to offer you at least something to drink in this heat. Make yourself comfortable.”
While the pencil skirt wasn't exactly suited for casual wear, she managed to sit down on the blanket without making a fool of herself. Of course, holding his hand had helped. That was after she almost let go when she felt an electric current sizzle up her arm.
She only relaxed when it appeared that he hadn't noticed.
After making himself comfortable, he reached into a cooler camouflaged as a backpack and pulled out a bottle with two long stemmed glasses.
Her eyebrows rose. “Are we celebrating something?”
The bottle opened with a pshh.
“Yep,” he replied as he poured and handed her the first glass.
Bubbles tickled her nose when she smelled it.
“Sparkling apple juice. How appropriate.”
He grinned. “Can't have you drinking during working hours now, can I?”
He touched his glass to hers. “I ended it with Danielle.”
She took a sip of the refreshing juice. It was better than anything she had had before. Or maybe it was the surroundings.
“Why? I thought you kissed and made up after the previous time.”
He reached into the backpack and pulled out a prepackaged platter with cheeses and an assortment of crackers beautifully arranged around slices of apples and pears.
Waiting until she had helped herself, he leaned back against a tree trunk.
“I found someone better to spend my time with.”

Nick's words followed her the rest of the week.
When she was updating the books for her clients, or doing the laundry or shopping, it was as if he was haunting her. Not in a bad way, but somehow his presence was everywhere.
When she called the hospital, a sense of guilty relief enveloped her, when the nurse reported that “he was not having a good day”. Those good days were becoming less and less frequent.
She sighed after thanking the woman.
In the beginning, she naively thought that he would remember her and be the man she had married. Now she called first. It was painful to see him as lifeless as a dummy, or so aggressive that she often feared he would hurt her.
Shaking her head to let go of the depressing thoughts, Stephanie poured herself some iced tea and got back to work.

~ Read Ch 1  Ch 2  Ch 3 Ch 4 
~ Next week: Chapter 6

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Book Feature: 4 Novellas by Stevie Turner

1. Lily (Historical/ Paranormal)
 Lily is 92 and failing in health.  Her family tells her she is going on a little holiday, and although she finds herself still on her beloved Isle of Wight, to her horror she is now living permanently in a residential home at the mercy of Bridie, the ‘horrible’ one. 
To make what is left of her life happier she thinks about years gone by, and once again wonders about the strange disappearance of her 14 year old sister Violet in 1897.  However, every cloud has a silver lining, and amidst the daily horror of her life she is delighted to find out that somebody at the home can shed new light on the mystery.

2.  The Noise Effect:   (Women's Fiction/ Suspense)
 What lengths would you go to in order to ensure a peaceful existence?  Newlyweds Eve and Leigh Chandler are thrilled to be given a council house on a recently built estate after living with Eve’s parents for a year, and are eager to get to know their new neighbours.  Eve quickly forms a friendship with Tessa Patterson at number 16, but things turn sour when Mark Denny moves into number 18 with his two teenage sons.
 The Dennys enjoy playing their music loud enough for the whole street to hear.  Leigh and Eve, both normally easy-going and placid, complain to the council after being driven to distraction by noise emanating from the house next door.  However, this only serves to make them a sitting target for Mark Denny’s anger, causing Eve to discover a previously hidden side of her new husband that she was totally unaware of.

3.  The Pilates Class:  (Humorous)
 The Pilates Class is a quick read, and a humorous look at the lives and loves of several different characters attending a Pilates exercise class for the first time. 
Roger is a down-to-earth builder type, Judy is the harassed single mother of four teenage boys, and Thelma is a librarian who usually looks as though she's been sitting on a wasps’ nest for most of her life.  Neville is on the lookout for a woman (any woman will do), and Julian just wants to be young again.  Edie is the wrong side of 70, and Roz is a size zero fitness queen.
These characters, together with one very overweight Alice, all meet up for the first time at their local Pilates class.  Petra, the class instructor, has no idea what she has let herself in for!

4.  Cruising Danger:  (Thriller / Suspense)
 When Pauline Edmunds agrees to accompany her friend Shirley on a Caribbean cruise, she is disappointed to be left alone almost at the start when Shirley starts a holiday romance with Joe Collins, a guitarist in a band working on board the ship.  However, Pauline does not like the look of Joe, and tries to dissuade Shirley from continuing the affair.  When Shirley suddenly cannot be found one morning, Pauline suspects that Joe may have something to do with her friend’s disappearance and she starts to investigate deeper, opening up a whole can of worms amidst a background of Caribbean scenery and sunshine.

About the Author 

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

The Friendship Affair

Not all long lasting marriages are happy. But what do you do if divorce is not an option?
University friends, Stephanie and Nick, meet again after twenty years. But life has not been easy or simple for either of them. Will this friendship affair stand a chance against reality?


“Hi Annie, have you been waiting long?”
Two bright red spots appeared on Stephanie's cheeks. “I happened to be in the vicinity to see a client.”
He sat. “Did you change your appointment to another day?”
Both knew Nick didn't need to elaborate on who the appointment would have been with.
She waited until the waiter, a young woman today, delivered his coffee, before replying. “I broke it off. Last week. After our talk, I realised that he was getting involved.”
She looked down at her hand resting on a picture of the lunch special. “I couldn't let it go on any longer.”
“Are you okay with that?”
She shrugged, turned the page on the menu and then turned it back. In the end, she pushed it away. “If you wonder about my emotional state, there is no need. I will find something else to help me forget for a few hours. Maybe join a book club. I saw a notice at the library—”
He took her hand. “Talk to me. We are still friends, aren't we?”
She nodded. They were friends. She could feel that.
He pointed to the door. “Let's get out of here and go for a walk. What do you say?”
He dropped a few bills on the table, and ignoring her protest, took her hand in his and led her to the door.
“There is a park close by,” he said and promptly turned right.
Two blocks down they entered the park and took the path to the left.
“It's like a fairy world,” she whispered turning around and around. Small twinkling lights were hanging from almost every tree. Next to the path were statues of gnomes and fairies. Even a dragon made its presence known.
“It is a local secret,” he said standing a few steps away watching her face.
“How do you know about it?” she asked when she joined him, still glancing here and there not to miss anything.
He laughed softly.
She stopped and stared.
He had a lovely way of laughing. Warm and sincere. “My Dad built this place when I was about nine years old. He was the city parks' landscaper. When the city wanted to build another exercise park, you know the kind with obstacle courses and jogging paths, the residents went up in arms. The city relented and brought my dad in to redesign the area. It placated the locals, and it has been a green area ever since.”
“It is beautiful. I think the kids must love this place.”
He nodded with a smile. “Mine sure did, when they were still children.”
She shared a grin with him. “Teenagers?”
“The youngest. She will finish high school this year. The boys are working already.”
She turned in a circle once more. “I would love to live in a place like this.”
“Quiet. Peaceful. Inspiring.”
She shared a sad smile with him. “Yeah. If only....”
Stephanie stopped and shook her head. This was her escape time. Reality wasn't going anywhere.
He waved her closer. “Come with me, I want to show you something.”

~ Read Ch 1     Ch 2     Ch 3
~ Chapter 5: Next week