Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Review - Mr Rook's Island - there's trouble in paradise

Date read: 16-18 Dec 2018 (the whole series!)

My rating: 4.5* (overall)

Genre I reckon: spooky, sexy, romance

Buy link: Amazon or boxed set on Amazon UK

Everyone needs an author to turn to when they want a guaranteed good read. Mimi Jean Pamfiloff is one of mine. I love her style. Her heroines are snarky and sassy.

Warning: do yourself a favour and download the boxed set as this is an addictive series.

Mr Rook (book 1)

Stephanie is on the hunt for the killer of her sister - a hunt which is going to cost her dearly.
She goes incognito to the island where her sister died, along with some very excited women who seek pleasure only.
The island is an expensive, exclusive resort where your every fantasy really is catered for.
But the very sexy, mysterious Mr Rook is off limits. Was he the killer?

Now, for an island full of sexual fantasies, this series is oddly not chockablock full of lusty scenes. I knocked a star off because of this.
BUT what you do get is a tantalising tale which slowly unfolds.
The island seems to have a life of its own, and has a strange effect on people.

I read this book in a day, and immediately downloaded book 2 - this is a rare thing for me.

Pawn (book 2):

Have you ever watched a series on TV, where not much happens until right near the end, then it's all systems go and you're left screaming for the next episode? That's kinda how I'd describe this book. It's not meant unkindly. Just this book is more of a slow-burner.

Some very odd things happen. And the tension continues to build.
Having finally their wicked way together, Stephanie then discovers something shocking, and is more determined than ever to uncover this man's secrets. She isn't afraid to delve deep.

As I read this immediately after book 1, the flashback scenes weren't required for me and became annoying. But I appreciate they'd help those who paused for breath between them.

I really liked the development of the weird, wonderful paranormal aspect. Mr Rook becomes more and more mysterious! Is he good or is he very very bad?

And what is the true price to be paid?

Straight onto book 3!

Check (book 3): 

Well, that's much more like it! Action-packed, satisfying end to the series.

Just as poor Stephanie thinks she's coming to terms with all of this nightmare, something else crops up. For pity's sake! This book starts with the fallout of the last revelation in book 2. And boy, is she in trouble.
Problem is, the only man who can help is...compromised? Unavailable?

How much can people sacrifice?

There's some unexpected twists in this book. One in particular that I really didn't see coming.

Overall, Rook's Island is compelling and addictive.
There's some great characters along with some mystery, lust and strange goings on.
Honestly, I preferred this author's Accidentally series - well, y'know, Cimil and a unicorn; need I say more?
But this series is very good nonetheless. I was hooked!

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

What Are Trigger Warnings? ~ Should I put a trigger warning on my book?

OMG, am I about to offend someone? Quick, put a trigger warning on it! 😲

Alright, calm down.
First, let us look at two different types of triggers.

Emotional Triggers

Someone may make a joke, but to you it hurts and can affect you, making you feel off-kilter.
You question whether the person making the joke respects you or not.

Feelings brought up can include:

  • A sense of rejection
  • Being left/singled out
  • Disapproval

~ basically you feel inferior in some way

Reactions to this can include:

  • Withdrawal
  • Anger
  • Self-medication (drugs/alcohol/food etc.) 
  • Compliance
These are normal human reactions, and are often associated with things from your own past. It is your reaction based on previous experience, and not the fault of the person making the joke, which to everyone else is harmless. 
This does not mean in any way it is your fault either. It's just one of those less pleasant experiences of life. Good news is, there's coping mechanisms and people trained to help you with this. 

Emotional triggers are not what trigger warnings are about, as we cannot feasibly all foresee how every single person is going to react. We all have the potential to associate an infinite number of innocuous things with a negative reaction. 

Psychological Triggers

These go way beyond our feelings being trampled on (which is unpleasant enough, right?). These are so much more. 

These types of triggers can be set of with a particular sound, smell or sight which are associated with a trauma, and often cause flashbacks. Often used in conjunction with PTSD (and other anxiety conditions) , and commonly (but not exclusively) include post-war/combat soldiers and survivors of sexual abuse. 

Flashbacks are no laughing matter. They have oddly become more common since movies started. And it is a bit like watching a film, only this is the 3D, fully immersive kind. Your brain throws you right back into the traumatic event, and you relive it as if you were there. It is terrifying, debilitating and to be avoided. It is deeply traumatic in itself. 

These are the folk we need/want to protect, right? 
We do not want to drive anyone to despair. 
In all fairness to them, a little word of caution so there's no nasty surprises is a simple courtesy which can save severe pain and suffering. 

It serves as a warning for them to put their coping strategies in place and/or choose not to read a book they will find too difficult to cope with. 
By the way, they may well choose to read your book anyway. With the correct coping strategies in place, it may help them face/overcome their issue/s. 
What we are doing is offering them the information so they may make an informed decision. 
Trigger warnings give people the power of control and choice.

So, if your book (especially if it's unexpected) contains scenes of:
  • Violence/war
  • Sexual/physical abuse
  • Mental illness
  • Oppressive language
  • Self-harm
  • Eating disorders
  • Suicide
...please put a trigger warning under the blurb to save long-term psychological damage.
It just makes sense, doesn't it? 

No, you do not need a trigger warning if there's something such as a cliffhanger. 
Get a grip!! 
If book 1 in a series does not say, "And they lived happily ever after. The end." it is NOT going to inflict long-term psychological damage. It will not cause flashbacks. It might just cause mild annoyance/aggravation. 

Please learn this important difference. 

There are people with actual debilitating problems (hopefully seeking professional assistance to come to terms with their trauma).

Demanding trigger warnings for things which cause disgruntlement helps no-one. 

To help you further, the dictionary definition of trauma:

  1. 1.
    a deeply distressing or disturbing experience.

    "a personal trauma like the death of a child"

  2. 1a. mass noun Emotional shock following a stressful event or a physical injury, which may lead to long-term neurosis.
    ‘the event is relived with all the accompanying trauma’
  3. 2.
    physical injury.

    "rupture of the diaphragm caused by blunt trauma"
    "the gallstone can be extracted without unnecessary trauma to the liver"

~ basically events outside the ordinary, expected human experience
~ experience which involves actual or threatened death or severe injury (of self or others)
~ involves overwhelming fear, helplessness and/or horror 

This has been a public service blog post, brought to you with concern for mental well-being.  
It is meant to inform and educate, not to criticise or belittle. 
My aim is to help authors decide whether or not to include a trigger warning under their book description, and the reasons why. 
And to bring a little perspective to the confusion that exists out there. 

Always with love and light,

If you are affected by the contents of this blog please do seek help. 
There are so many people, trained, willing and ready to take your call. Don't be alone. 
Thank you.

Monday, 3 December 2018

A quick catch up from TL Clark

Sorry I've been quiet lately.
November was a challenging month for many reasons, including my SAD kicking in, battles with Facebook AND Amazon (as so many seem to have had to do recently), and germs trying to attack me.

Hopefully the worst of all that is now behind me.

I wrote 15,000 words of my Regency romance last month, bring the total to 65k words so far. There's progress being made. Please bear with me. I'm trying so hard to finish draft 1 soon.

There's now a fab video banner at the head of my Facebook page.
New business cards have been designed and delivered.
I'm trying to arrange some public appearances (ongoing).
'Help for the Holidays' Facebook event was held this weekend (lots of organisation involved!).
My Christmas tree is now up (muchly happiness has been brought in by this).

And Love Bites Harder (part 2 of the Darkness & Light Duology) is now available in papaerback:
~ On Amazon (should be linked to my ebook soon)
~ And the Waterstones website

If you're missing me, don't forget you can always stay up-to-date via my Instagram and Facebook pages.

Once this book's done I'll be creating a Regency information blog post.
I've had to look up so much, despite being a massive Jane Austen fan, and having read many historical romances! So, I'm going to plonk it all in one place; share the knowledge.

Also, all my books are available on all platforms (due to the volatile nature of Amazon).
You can check them out via Books2Read (which takes you to your preferred store), but they are still on Amazon too (no panic).

OK, back to the writeuming!

I hope you're faring well.

Always in love and light,

Saturday, 3 November 2018

REVIEW - Companion of Darkness - is dark indeed

Date read: 22nd October 2018

My rating: 5*

Genre I reckon: YA;dark fantasy

Buy link: Amazon

As you're on my blog, you may well be familiar with Love Bites, my paranormal romance. You know I'm a sucker for fantasy. So, how could I resist?

This book is YA, but it's not a sugary sweet tale by any stretch of the imagination.
Jesaela, the poor faerie, is thrown into the clutches of the evil Lyssa. But is she really as awful as she appears?

Enter into this magickal world, full of dragons and fantasy beings.
But beware; who is friend and who is foe?

I love the means of travel, especially the portals. And the characters have depth and come to life with full force.
I don't want to say who my favourites are, in case of spoilers. There's some clever twists in this tale.

The author has woven the terrific world of Teralia with expert hands. I can see, smell and feel it all.
And dammit; I want more. NOW! Hopefully the next book won't be too far away.

NB - there are some (not overly detailed) scenes of torture in this book.
But if you enjoy a good fantasy tale (no matter how far above the age of YA you are), then give this a read. You won't regret it.
Because; dragons! :)

Friday, 2 November 2018

Interview With an Author - Closing Thoughts

A huge thank you to all authors who took time out of their busy schedule to respond to my interview - you are all totally awesome πŸ’—
Let's all give them a massive round of applause, folks:

Please do make sure you go back and read them all, and follow them on your preferred social media (links at the bottom of each interview). 

Thanks also to the wonderful readers and bloggers who have followed this interview series.
If you would like to see more interviews in the future, please leave a comment here. 

So, what have we learned? 

My observations:

πŸ’­ Writing is hard! 
Yeah, no surprise there. But we ALL go through times of strife. 
It can be solitary, furstrating, gut wrenching, BUT we love it! 
As hard as it can be, we are all passionate about sharing our books. 

πŸ’­ No matter how many millions of books you sell, you're still grateful for a spotlight. 
We love interacting with our readers and will grab the opportunity to do so when we can. 
(*everybody wave to each other*) 

πŸ’­ Writers support writers. 
Those just starting and those who have reached dizzying heights; we all appreciate the hard work involved. 
We want each other to succeed as we appreciate how much we put into our creations.

πŸ’­ We are all readers. 
Writers love to read too, and will do so as much as possible. 

πŸ’­ Given the chance, the preferred uniform of an author is pj's. 😁
One can sit in the same position for many hours; we have to be comfy! 
Our writing spots are our little creative nests, wherever they happen to be.

πŸ’­ We are never too big to take advice. 
Life is all about lessons, and we are forever learning. 
Read, write and carry on - kinda the basis of all the advice we love! 

πŸ’­ Huh, NOT all writers drink coffee. Who knew?! πŸ˜•
But many of us DO use it as writer's fuel, so it's not fully debunked. 

πŸ’­ So, readers; come say hello to us. Read our books, leave a review, follow us on social media. We appreciate you more than you can ever know. 
Writers; support one another. Whatever breed you are, we are all the same species...writer!

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Interview With an Author - Number 10 - Amanda Prowse (last but by no means least)

Author Bio
Amanda Prowse is an International Bestselling author who has published twenty novels in dozens of languages. 
Her recent chart topping No.1 titles 'What Have I Done?', 'Perfect Daughter' and 'My Husband's Wife' have sold millions of copies around the world.

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Interview With an Author - Number 9 - Julia Blake

Author Bio
I was born and raised in the lovely historic market town of Bury St Edmunds, where I live still with my daughter. I'm typical Cancer, in that although I like to visit new places and see new things, I'm always very pleased to get home again.

Author name: Julia Blake

Are you a traditionally publisdhe/indie/hybrid author? 
My first book was small press but I found that really wasn’t working for me, so the six books since then have been indie.

What was the last book you released?
The Forest, released on the 23rd of October 2018.
How long have you been writing? 
Ever since I was old enough to pick up a pencil really, but seriously writing novels since 2005. My first book was published in 2014.

What is the most challenging thing about writing for you? 
Finding time to write for a start. 
I have a very busy life and am a shocking procrastinator as well, so actually getting myself sat down in front of my laptop is a challenge. 
Once the book is published, promoting and marketing – I really struggle with these. Being naturally not a pushy person, I find it incredibly hard to put myself out there and promote my books.

And what is the best thing about writing?  
The beginning, when a whole world of possibility lies before you, full of characters and plot and twists and turns. I love that feeling, that anything, literally anything, could happen. 
Then after publication holding my book in my hands. There’s no greater feeling. 
I also love any feedback I get from readers, when someone takes the time to write a review or even contact me to say how much they enjoyed one of my books, that’s pretty special.

Where is your favourite writing spot?
My little desk in the corner of the lounge. It’s the only place in the house that’s truly “my spot” apart from my bed. No one else goes near it and all my writing tools are there. 
When I sit down at my desk, it’s as if I’m sending a signal to my imagination that it’s time to wake up and shake up.

What do you do during times of self-doubt or (goodness forbid) if “writer’s block” strikes? 
I don’t tend to suffer from writer’s block. 
Time to write is so rare that when I do finally sit down to create, the words have been building up in my mind to such an extent it’s like the floodgates opening and they pour from my imagination. 
As to self-doubt, I think we all suffer from that to some degree or other, I just try to block out the negative thoughts and concentrate on all the positive things people have said about my books.

What is the most frivolous thing you’ve purchased with your royalties?
Nothing, literally nothing. I haven’t spent a penny of my royalties in the four years I’ve been receiving them. They go into a separate bank account every month and I pretend that they’re not there. 
The plan is for them to be a little extra for when I retire. You never know, by the time that happens there may be enough saved up for a weekend away somewhere.

What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
Don’t take advice. No, only kidding, although sometimes I think it is easy to get bogged down in well-meaning and not so well-meaning advice. 
You should learn to listen to the knowledge that experienced authors pass on and turn a blind eye to those writers who are at the same stage of the journey as you, but think they have the right to tell you how it’s done. 
Every author is different, and we all write in different ways. For example, I never plan or plot out my books and I don’t have time to write every day, so according to some “experts” that means I’m not a proper writer, but with eight books out there I beg to differ on that score. 
Someone once told me to write from the heart and the gut and everything else can be fixed in the edits, and I think that’s probably the best thing you can do.

Do you prefer tea/coffee/hot chocolate?
Tea first thing in the morning, I like it strong and unsweetened to kick start my brain. 
If I’m writing that day, then a coffee mid-morning to reboot my flagging energy. 
Hot chocolate is only for treats or on the snowiest days in the middle of winter when I have time to make it properly and savour it.

Is there anything you’d like to add…?  
Being a writer is such a hard road to take, it’s thankless and soul destroying and can be incredibly lonely. 
You need to develop a hide like a rhino and tunnel vision tenacity to ignore the negatives and focus on the positive. 
It is so much easier if you’re not doing it alone. 
No matter what you feel about social media it can be a warm, supportive and helpful place, but it’s one of those situations where as you sow, so shall you reap. 
You can’t expect help and support unless you give it in return. Don’t be one of those authors who are all about themselves. Connect with others, interact with them, support them, and offer assistance where needed, and don’t just restrict it to other authors. 
Readers span all walks of life and you never know where your biggest potential fans could be.

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Interview With an Author - Numer 8 - Ysa Arcangel

Author Bio
Ysa Arcangel is the author of the Moments to Remember Series, Underneath It All and Love at First Sit. She has also written an urban fantasy novella, "Nexus Series Book 1: Anathema". She is based in Manila and is a loving partner to a very talented chef. She is also a fan of tattoos, a lover of giant dogs, and an enthusiast of extreme sports.

Author name: Ysa Arcangel

Are you a traditionally publisdhe/indie/hybrid author? 
I’m a hybrid author. Indie and published with Limitless Publishing. 

What was the last book you released?
I have a new book titled Love at First Kiss. It’s the second book under my Single Moms TribeCollection. It is now up for pre-order! 

Monday, 29 October 2018

Interview With an Author - Number 7 - Tamara Geraeds

Author Bio
I was born in 1981, in a small village in the south of The Netherlands.
I started writing books at the age of 15 and my first book was published in 2012. After 6 books in Dutch, I decided to start writing a young adult fantasy series in English: The Cards of Death.

The first book in this series will be published February 2019.
Updates on this series can be found on my Facebook page, and if you're also looking for tips, Q&As with other authors, and inside info on my writing process, please subscribe to my monthly newsletter.

Author name: Tamara Geraeds

Are you a traditionally published/indie/hybrid author?
My Dutch books are all traditionally published. I have switched publishers a couple of times, so my work is divided over 7 different publishers.

In February 2019 I’m publishing my first indie book, in English. It is the first in the YA supernatural fantasy series Cards of Death, of which the first three books will be released in 2019.

What was the last book you released?
That was the 3rd book in my Christopher Plum series, a Dutch fantasy book for 9- to 12-year-olds about the modern Knights of the Round Table. They are tasked with finding magical objects and beings and keeping them safe. Book 4 in the series will be released March 2019.
If you live in the Netherlands, you can buy it here 

The Cards of Death series will be available through Amazon.

How long have you been writing? 
I wrote my first poem just after I learned how to write, so at six. Later on, I wrote some short stories at school. 
At fifteen I wanted to try to write a whole book. It took me nine years to finish because of school, college and work, but after that I was hooked. My first book was published in 2012, so I have officially been a writer for almost seven years.

What is the most challenging thing about writing for you?
To create believable, lively characters. 
The hardest thing about that is imagining what people who are different than me feel, think and do. We all have a tendency to make all our characters behave the same way we do. But in real life everyone is different. In a book it should be that way too. So as a writer you have to try to really get into someone else’s head.

That was especially hard when I wrote Echo, a heart-breaking story about abuse, that was based on several true stories. To make the mother believable, I had to try to understand her, which was the hardest – but probably most interesting – thing I ever did as a writer.

And what is the best thing about writing?  
When characters decide to throw all your plans for their lives overboard and just do whatever they want to do. This behaviour started when I was writing the book that eventually became my debut, and thankfully it hasn’t stopped.

When I was writing my second book Jasper, I had planned the last ten chapters. This makes it a bit easier to write, because you have a basic idea of what is going to happen in each chapter.

But Jasper didn’t want to do the things I made up for him. Where I wanted him to go right, he turned left. I decided not to force it, but just go with him on his journey.

Since then, this is the way I always write. When characters want to do something else than what I planned for them, I just go along with it. I let them lead me. This way the characters behave according to their personalities, and I have more fun, because they keep surprising me.

Where is your favourite writing spot?
My favorite writing spot is in the mountains in Germany. Somehow they always inspire me.
I do however like to sit inside to write, with a cup of hot chocolate and a snack in front of me and a view of the mountains.

What do you do during times of self-doubt or (goodness forbid) if “writer’s block” strikes? 
Feel really bad mostly. When I get insecure, I remember everything that was traditionally published and all the great reviews I got.

A writer’s block can be broken by writing somewhere else or talking about the story with someone. If that doesn’t work, I probably need a break.

What is the most frivolous thing you’ve purchased with your royalties?
I really don’t remember.

What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
Keep going.

Most authors that make it, have been trying for years (to get published or to get more readers). You have to keep going and keep learning. Practise and never give up, if you really want to get published and/or be successful. 

Do you prefer tea/coffee/hot chocolate?
Well, I prefer hot chocolate, but I try to stay away from it as much as I can, because my tummy is already not so yummy anymore. ;-)

I don’t like coffee and I sometimes drink tea, but usually not at home. While writing I drink water, then milk and in the afternoon and evening diet coke.

Is there anything you’d like to add…?  
Thanks for having me and to the readers of this interview: thanks for reading this. J

If anyone wants to beta read book 2 in the Cards of Death series (in January) or the next one, please contact me through my website: