Guest Post ~ A Dream of Love and Antiques by Helena Fairfax

Hi Everyone! Please welcome Helena Fairfax, author of The Antique Love!
Helena Fairfax photo Helena Fairfax was born in Uganda and came to England as a child. She’s grown used to the cold now and that’s just as well, because nowadays she lives in an old Victorian mill town in Yorkshire, right next door to windswept Brontë country. She has an affectionate, if half-crazed, rescue dog and together they tramp the moors every day—one of them wishing she were Emily Brontë, the other vainly chasing pheasants. When she’s not out on the moors you’ll find Helena either creating romantic heroes and heroines of her own or else with her nose firmly buried in a book, enjoying someone else’s stories. Her patient husband and her brilliant children support her in her daydreams and are the loves of her life.

A Dream of Love and Antiques

“Where do you get your ideas from?”

It’s a question writers are often asked, and one I usually find really difficult to answer. Ideas can descend at the unlikeliest times. Whilst waiting in a traffic jam, or pegging out washing.

I do remember how I got the idea for The Antique Love. I was feeling quite ill with a flu-like virus. So ill, I was too tired to read (now that’s really ill, for me!) And so I was lying on my settee, flicking through the TV channels with a temperature, when I came across a programme all about antiques. Two dealers were in an old vintage car, travelling round English country villages, rummaging in antique shops for treasures.

The Antique Love 333x500The antique shops and their owners were fabulous, like something out of a story book. My heat-filled brain began to think how brilliant it would be to own one of these shops: a cornucopia of marvellous treasures, from porcelain dolls, to painted fans, to delicate china ornaments. The shops began to take on a totally romantic lustre in my mind, and gradually I dreamed up my heroine, Penny Rosas. I created an antique shop for her which she owned, in a street in London. My flu-like delirium induced a dreamlike state, and I envisaged Penny as also a dreamer – an imaginative heroine, who sees the beauty and life in these antiques, and who believes in romance.

So my heroine came first in my mind – but what about a hero? Every heroine needs her counterpart – someone who balances her in temperament. Spirited Lizzie Bennett has her dour Mr Darcy; gentle Jane Eyre has her brusque Mr Rochester. Who would be the foil to Penny, my romantic dreamer? Gradually another figure emerged in my mind. He was tall, broad-shouldered, good-looking, and at first sight everything a romantic hero should be.

But appearances are deceptive, as Penny finds out. In character, my hero is anything but a romantic. Kurt Bold works in the logical world of finance, where everything is ordered and controlled. In Kurt’s words, romance is for dreamers.

How will two such opposing characters ever come together? Well, I gave them a glimmer of hope in the romance of Kurt Bold’s setting. Although he works in London, in the City, he is originally from Wyoming. The crowded streets of London are a far cry from the wide open spaces Kurt is used to, and so I gave him a house on the edge of Richmond Park. Richmond Park is the largest Royal Park in London, and is virtually unchanged in hundreds of years.  It was established as a Royal Park by Charles I in 1625.  Charles came to Richmond to escape the plague in the city, and loved the hunting there so much, he decided to turn the place into his own park, and walled it in with eight foot stone walls.

And that’s how I worked through my ideas for The Antique Love. Of course, my ideas didn’t all fall together quite as easily as I’ve described here (I wish!) Someone once said writing involves 10% inspiration (my Eureka moment with the antique shop) and 90% perspiration – constantly writing down and revising ideas until I had the whole story straight in my mind.
Sometimes it seems like only yesterday I was lying down with a fever, and I can’t believe my book is finally published. It’s like a sort of magic!
If you’d like to find out a little more about The Antique Love, here is the blurb:

One rainy day in London, Wyoming man Kurt Bold walks into an antique shop off the King’s Road and straight into the dreams of its owner, Penny Rosas. Lively, spirited and imaginative, Penny takes this handsome stranger for a romantic cowboy straight from the pages of a book. Kurt certainly looks every inch the hero…but he soon brings Penny’s dreams to earth with a thump. His job is in the City, in the logical world of finance—and as far as Kurt is concerned, romance is just for dreamers. Events in his childhood have shown him just how destructive love can be. Now he’s looking for a wife, right enough, but what he wants is a marriage based on logic and rational decisions. Kurt treats Penny like he would his kid sister, but when he hires her to help refurbish his beautiful Victorian house near Richmond Park, it’s not long before he starts to realise it’s not just his home she’s breathing life into. The logical heart he has guarded so carefully all these years is opening up to new emotions, in a most disturbing way…

The Antique Love is available from MuseItUp Publishing,
Amazon US, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
and all major e-tailers.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my short introduction. You can find out more about me and my books at http://www.helenafairfax.com
on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7082986.Helena_Fairfax
on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/HelenaFairfax, or on Twitter @helenafairfax
Please do get in touch – I love to meet new people!

Thanks so much for having me today, Kim. I’ve really enjoyed talking about Penny and Kurt. Thank you for welcoming me to your blog!

Book Talk Tuesdays: Meet M.K. Chester

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What to Write?

Surrender

When Kim asked me to guest blog, I wasn’t sure what to write about. It’s been a couple weeks, and I’m still not sure. Kim and I have known each other in the virtual world long enough to be real-life friends, so she’d know if I was giving her a bunch of BS. And then (again) I thought, “I’m not sure what to write about.”

And that’s what I’m writing about. That foggy, gray place in a writer’s mind where ideas are just not quite developed—yet. They’re large enough to tug at your sleeve and ask for a little attention. Persistent enough to be able to lose yourself in some research. But the nucleus of the tale remains elusive. It’s not unpleasant, because you can enjoy the feeling of sorting through ideas. The hard work has not yet begun.

I spend a lot of time there. From a practical standpoint, there are no new stories. There are old themes and memes and characters reborn in different places and times—but there are no new stories. We all know this and yet…this drive to create something new that is not new.

How does one get through the fog and grasp The Thing we really want to write about? For me, it’s a process, and I’ve learned not to rush though, lest I lose that feeling. I scout around for settings, both general and specific. What time frame best fits this slippery idea, and what does that look like? I poke around for representations of my elusive characters, so they might become more real. Again, this usually has more to do with what emotions do the images evoke—do they match the tone in my mind?

Sometimes there’s historical research to be done, and sometimes there’s other worlds to create from nothing. And at some mystical point, something becomes clear. Goals. Motivation. Conflict—yes, I use Deb Dixon’s formula, why do you ask? But it’s some thing enigmatic, something different for each story, that tells you when it’s ready. The idea has percolated long enough and it’s time to get to work. For me, that magic has to be strong enough to recall throughout the entire process, or else I lose interest, so the ground work, the research, is important to take me back to when this full-blown story was just a little, nagging thought in the back on my mind.

authorbio

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M.K. Chester is an award-winning, multi-published romance author who loves complex characters, off-beat eras, and of course, happy endings.  When not writing, Marty works as a college administrator and history professor at a local creative college. She spends weekends cheering at her son’s basketball games, and the rest of her ‘free’ time corralling two beastly Scottish Terriers, Stewie and Angus. She is published with Carina Press and The Wild Rose Press, and you can find her at these virtual locations:

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Twitter
Goodreads

Guest Post by SS Hampton, Sr

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Is There Really Closure Here…?

It’s not very often that I write a story about modern, contemporary life that does not have some sort of military influence. That is probably because I have spent most of my adult life in or associated with the military in some capacity. At the same time many of my writings have some sort of supernatural influence, probably because I have a very strong interest in the subject. Not only is it interesting, but if there is something valid, something factual to the presence of the supernatural, then that tells me that there really is more to the universe than what we see or what science can explain.

Being in the tightening grip of advancing age I find that possibility somewhat comforting.

All of the above being said, I tend to be drawn to stories (and movies) where everything is sometimes not what it seems.

For example, have you ever had one of those days where you have a feeling that something is not quite right? Everything looks normal but it feels like there is something out of place—you are a little uneasy because there is “something out of kilter” in your world. You try but cannot put your finger on it. It feels like there is some unknown truth lurking just out of sight that would explain everything if only you could find “it.”

Rod Serling’s “The Twilight Zone” was good at presenting those sort of visual dramas. Sometimes there is closure to the stories, everything is explained and understood. But once in awhile there is no real closure (just like real life). It may feel like there is closure, but not really. When I think about it, Serling and his show were a larger creative influence in my life than I realized—many times in my writing I try to present the “feel” of a “Twilight Zone” episode.

One of the best examples of such a story where the truth is lurking just out of sight, is one that I have read many times and am still in awe of: Ambrose Bierce’s “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” (1890). (In 1962 the story became a short French-produced film that was later shown as an episode of “The Twilight Zone.” It was the only episode not produced by the TV series (Wikipedia).) Bierce was a Civil War veteran (Shiloh, Chickamauga) who suffered a serious head wound in combat. Bierce’s Civil War experience no doubt lent special authenticity to his writing. I have often thought that the enduring mystery of his disappearance in Mexico in 1913 is how he would have liked to be remembered.

So, in my writings I may think (hope) I have accomplished such a Twilight Zone “feel,” but only the readers will know for sure.

RUSH

“For the Glory Forever and Ever.” R.U.S.H. – Raw Unbridled Stories of Heroism – Anthology, Melange Books, September 2011.
ISBN: 978-1-61235-239-8

BLURB

Sometimes there is a blurry division between life and… An Army platoon is holding a combat outpost near Las Vegas. None of them can remember much about their lives before the war, or even the details of the war. Their final battle only hints at a possible soul shattering truth.

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“For The Glory Forever and Ever”

Sergeant First Class Dominick Brenner pinched the flesh on the back of his hand. Hard. He didn’t feel a thing. Maybe he wasn’t dreaming, though he hoped he was.

“Riders coming in from the south!” a soldier gasped as he darted into the platoon command post, the CP.

Dominick stared at the back of his pale hand as he told the radioman, “Tell 2nd Squad to give them covering fire.” The soldier spread his hands helplessly, for without batteries even the internal land line between the CP and the fighting positions was useless.

Dominick swore disgustedly and pointed at Private Ernesto Gonzales, a weary looking visitor from 1st Squad. “Go tell 2nd Squad to give covering fire!”

Dominick threw on his MOLLE gear, grabbed his Kevlar helmet and M6 Assault Rifle, and hurried out the bunker exit. Once outside he heard the zip of incoming weapons fire and the short, sharp explosions of impacting mortar rounds. From the perimeter came a steady rattle of outgoing weapons fire and the sharp crack and ‘whoosh’ of mortar fire. He splashed through the muddy rain puddles as he wound his way past the sand bag protected Morale, Welfare and Recreation bunker, the Mobile Field Kitchen, and one of the many reserve ammunition bunkers.

Dominick thought that while they were short of everything else, fortunately the lack of munitions was never a problem.

The blare of an air raid siren sounded across the lonely, rainy outpost. He looked around and spotted a pair of dark aircraft coming low out of the north. The turret containing four Longclaw anti-aircraft missiles whined and swiveled like a hungry beast. With a loud WHOOSH! amid clouds of sand, mud, and oily smoke, a pair of missiles leaped into the drizzling air. Glowing fireballs dropped from the aircraft; one of the Longclaws exploded against a fireball and the other blew up one of the aircraft. The stricken aircraft did a flaming cartwheel across the desert.

The rumble of the approaching jet rolled across the outpost as did the sharper cracks of shoulder fired Shortclaws. A trio of smoky trails raced toward the lone Eurofighter Typhoon as it dropped more flares and veered to one side, then whipped back to its original course.

The Shortclaws exploded against the flares…

 

authorbio

SS Hampton, Sr. is a full-blood Choctaw of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, a divorced grandfather to 13 wonderful grandchildren, a published photographer and photojournalist, and a member of the Military Writers Society of America. He is a serving member of the Army National Guard with the rank of staff sergeant, with prior service in the active duty Army (1974-1985), the Army Individual Ready Reserve (1985-1995) (mobilized for the Persian Gulf War), and enlisted in the Army National Guard in October 2004, after which he was mobilized for Federal active duty for almost three years. Hampton is a veteran of Operations Noble Eagle (2004-2006) and Iraqi Freedom (2006-2007); he has recently been told that he must retire from the Army National Guard on 1 July 2013. His writings have appeared as stand-alone stories and in anthologies from Dark Opus Press, Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy, Melange Books, Musa Publishing, MuseItUp Publishing, Ravenous Romance, and as stand-alone stories in Horror Bound Magazine, The Harrow, and River Walk Journal, among others. Second-career goals include becoming a painter and studying for a degree in photography and anthropology—hopefully to someday work in and photograph underwater archaeology. After 12 years of brown desert in the Southwest and overseas, he misses the Rocky Mountains, yellow aspens in the fall, running rivers, and a warm fireplace during snowy winters. As of December 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada, Hampton officially became a homeless Iraq War veteran.

Melange Books
http://www.melange-books.com/authors/sshampton/index.html

Musa Publishing
http://www.musapublishing.com/index.php?main_page=index&manufacturers_id=50

MuseItUp Publishing
http://museituppublishing.com/bookstore2/index.php?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage.tpl&product_id=514&category_id=60&manufacturer_id=249&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=1

Amazon.com Author Page
http://www.amazon.com/SS-Hampton-Sr/e/B00BJ9EVKQ

Amazon.com. UK Author Page
http://www.amazon.co.uk/SS-Hampton-Sr/e/B00BJ9EVKQ

Goodreads Author Page
http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6888342.S_S_Hampton_Sr_

BOOK TALK TUESDAYS: Guest Post by Carlene Rae Dater

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Please give a warm welcome to Carlene Rae Dater, author of eleven novels, including her most recent mystery releases, Not for Sale and Deadly Deception!

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Middle Aged Packing Blues

I’m getting ready to go on a vacation, and I dread it. It’s not the trip I mind, it’s the packing.

Things were so much simpler when I was twenty. I opened my duffle bag, threw in a couple changes of underwear, a few clean T-shirts, my toothbrush, comb, lipstick, acne cover-up and I was on my way. If I happened to stay longer than a few days, I’d just wash out what I needed in the bathroom sink and hoped it would dry overnight. Wearing slightly damp panties didn’t bother me a bit.

Oh, how things have changed! Now that I’m in my middle years, I have to take at least one coordinated outfit for each day of my vacation, with shoes and purse to match. I wouldn’t dream of traveling without a nightie, robe and slippers. Who knows what could happen in the middle of the night? An earthquake? Tsumini? Native uprising? I shudder to even think about being caught oust side my room in the nude. Then there’s my makeup: foundation, powder, moisturizer, several colors of eye shadow, eyeliner, eyebrow pencil, false eyelashes for evening, blusher – the list goes on and on. Of course I wouldn’t dream of traveling without my makeup remover, moisturizer, dental floss, mouthwash and toothbrush.

Always the well-groomed traveler, I must bring my curling iron, hot rollers, brushes, combs, mousses and gels. And jewelry. Do I pack it in my suitcase and hope the airlines don’t lose my luggage? Do I trust the baggage handlers to keep their hands off? Or do I take everything in my handbag and pray I don’t run into a mugger on some strange foreign street corner. I didn’t have to worry about things like that when all I owed was a Mickey Mouse watch and a pair of imitation gold hoop earrings.

Of course, I’d never leave home without my sinus pills, anti-acid tablets, aspirins, vitamins, eye drops, migraine medication, sewing kit, bandages, ear plug, sleeping mask or extra pair of eye glasses. I’ll probably never need any of these things, but I have to take them along, just in case.

Packing was much faster back in the good old days too. When I was 23 I went to Europe for two weeks. It took me fifteen minutes to pack. Now when I contemplate travel, I start at least two weeks in advance, making lists so I don’t forget anything crucial. The sad fact is I need almost as much junk for a week-end trip as I do for a two week cruise.

My husband thinks he’s come upon the secret of packing for a middle aged travel. (He’s the smart one – I’m the pretty one.) He says the thing to do is take twice the money and half the stuff you think you’ll need, and everything thing should come out even. Maybe I’ll try his method this time.

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So far in her career, Carlene has published eleven novels in the romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romantic suspense humorous romance, mystery, and humorous mystery. Check her website for titles and buy links. Questions? Comments? Email Carlene at: carlenedater@sbcglobal.net.

Carlene Rae Dater

www.carlenedatercom

www.themysterystartshere.com

www.Facebook.com/CarleneraeDater

www.ManicReaders.com/CarleneRaeDater

www.amazon.com

HOLY HELL BLOG TOUR & CONTEST: Interview with Lucifer

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Please welcome give a warm welcome to Viola Ryan, author of The Mark of Abel! Today she’s here interviewing Lucifer!

Holy Hell Tour

Viola Ryan: Thank you for being with us today, Lucifer. It’s quite an honor to interview the Prince of Darkness.

Lucifer: Not if you call me that. There’s nothing darker than what lies inside the human heart.

VR: I’m sorry. What do you prefer I call you?

Lucifer: I go by Luke now.

VR: All right, Luke. Thank you for being with us today. Shall we get started?

Lucifer: Whatever. Just as long as you agree to help me find the artist I’m looking for.

VR: You promised me earlier you won’t harm her.

Lucifer: You have my word.

VR: Pardon me if I’m skeptical.

Lucifer: I can always leave.

VR: Fine. Kim and her readers are more than happy to help you find this artist.

Lucifer: I only hope it’s in time.

VR: For what?

Lucifer: Before she dies. She keeps dying.

VR: Humans tend to do that. What’s it like to be immortal?

Lucifer: Tiring. Tedious. Lonely.

VR: Lonely?

Lucifer: There aren’t too many creatures who are immortal. Why become attached to someone who is only going to die?

VR: So you don’t have friends?

Lucifer: One.

VR: Tell us about him?

Lucifer: Her. My friend is Maggie. You know her as Mary Magdalene. I turned her into a vampire nearly two thousand years ago, but she’s usually busy with the Gnostics. She turned them about a hundred years after I turned her.

VR: Why did you turn her into a vampire?

Lucifer: I promised Yeshua I’d look out for her if anything happened to him, and we all know what happened to him.

VR: Yeshua?

Lucifer: Jesus.

VR: Why a vampire?

Lucifer: Because that’s what I am.

VR: How did you become a vampire?

Lucifer: Not on purpose. I was sick of the special treatment Adam received. I was the highest of God’s angels. I should have been the favored son. Not that overgrown ape. The only thing separating Adam from the other lower forms of life was the blood of humanity. I drank it, like Adam and Lilith had. That’s what turned me into a vampire. I don’t regret it. Angels lack free will. Now I have it.

VR: Tell us about this artist you are looking for.

Lucifer: Yeshua gave me a prophecy, a way back to heaven. I need to find this artist, study her artwork and a map will be revealed telling me how to get back to heaven.

VR: You mentioned she keeps dying. Human’s only die once.

Lucifer: Not this one. She keeps reincarnating.

VR: How do you know she’s the same artist?

Lucifer: She always bears a mark–a circle with three curved lines radiating from it. I call it the Mark of the Artist. Maggie’s been helping me, but there are so many people on the planet now, I need more help.

VR: What will you do with her once you find her?

Lucifer: Nothing. She is irrelevant. What matters is her artwork.

VR: Okay folks. Lucifer needs your help. Have you seen anyone with a circle with three curved lines radiating from it?

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Lucifer: Thank you.

BLURB

Lucifer is fed up with humanity. He created hell to deter evil, but man’s inhumanity is only escalating. He just wants to return home to heaven, but ever since that little problem in the Garden of Eden, the Pearly Gates remain firmly shut to him. It doesn’t help that he’s the first vampire, an abomination in God’s sight.

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Fortunately, two thousand years ago Lucifer’s estranged brother, Jesus, gave him a prophecy. To fulfill it, all Lucifer has to do is find the right artist, study her artwork and the path back to heaven will be revealed. The artist even bears a symbol so he knows who she is. Too bad she is murdered every time he finds her. Janie’s a frustrated artist and college art teacher who wants two things—a guy she can show her paintings to and a night without nightmares. Each nightmare plagues her until she paints it. She doesn’t realize these paintings are key to unlocking her destiny, one that could redeem the original fallen angel.

Buy Links

MuseItUp Publishing: http://museituppublishing.com/bookstore2/index.php?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage.tpl&product_id=516&category_id=69&manufacturer_id=250&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=1&vmcchk=1&Itemid=1

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-Mark-of-Abel-ebook/dp/B00B0FSH9A/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1358130524&sr=8-4&keywords=The+Mark+of+abel

authorbio

~~halloween 2012

A very good friend of Viola Ryan in high school said, “You don’t think outside the box. You blow the thing up.” Sometimes boxes need exploding. That’s why she’s here. She has a whole bag of C4 and isn’t afraid to use it. She’s blessed with people who treasure her eccentricities or at least put up with them.

Sometimes the box can be a cozy place. Without some sort of stability, her two daughters’ and her life would be unmanageable. That stability comes from her husband. He’s the rock holding her family together.

On the flip side, his career is anything but stable. He’s a Chief Marine Safety Technician in the US Coast Guard. They’ve lived from Kittery, Maine to Yorktown, Virginia. Fortunately, the moves have all been on the east coast. Then again, the Coast Guard tends to guard the coast.

Her oldest daughter (16) was born on Cape Cod, not far from Plymouth. Massachusetts. Her youngest (12) was born in Yorktown, Virginia, down the road from Williamsburg. Viola jokes they’re doing the colonial America tour.

Website: http://www.violaryan.com

Blog: http://violaryanauthor.blogspot.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jeanie.ryan.9

pinterest: http://pinterest.com/violaryan/

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6922260.Viola_Ryan

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/violaryan

Watch the Trailer: http://is.gd/LuciferVid

*****Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway!*****

Master of Deception – Why People Lie

At some point in our lives we’ve all done it—told a lie. According to studies, 12% of adults admit they have lied sometimes. I’m guessing the number is much higher.

For most, we justify a lie in hopes of putting our conscience at ease, to push a gagging guilt or issue to the back of our minds.

So why do people lie in relationships?

They cheat and need a way to hide the fact.

They lie to hide the truth about themselves or about something in their past.

They don’t want to deal with drama with their partner over an issue in the relationship.

And what about the people who lie in the workplace? Certainly, the desire to get ahead of their co-workers will cause people to become skilled ‘storytellers’. Some people lie to avoid work responsibility or for financial gain. Some lie to discredit a colleague in hopes of making themselves look good.

People will also lie to themselves and justify the lie to internalize the fabrication and even end up believing the lie. Denial at times…is much better than the harsh truth.

Of course there are pathological liars. These people do not value honesty. They don’t believe it’s bad to lie. If they’re caught in a lie, they become very defensive and will even get defensive and uncomfortable if you ask a seemingly innocent question. They don’t like to feel threatened and have no remorse when they do lie.

In some cases, people “stretch the truth” for other reasons—not necessarily in a negative way, such as, having to control a situation.

In REFLECTION, Blake Neely (aka Blake Barnett) is a master of deception. It’s part of his job. As a veteran undercover FBI agent, Blake must manipulate the truth in order to protect himself, and his cover. He lies not only in hopes of nailing the villain but to ensure the well-being of a person, a small child—the world’s first cloned human.

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Where to Buy
MuseItUp Publishing | Amazon | AmazonUK | Bookstrand | Smashwords | CoffeeTime Romance | Omnilit | ARe | iTunes | Kobo | Barnes & Noble

Now available in paperback at Amazon & Createaspace

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Meet Judith Barrow – Author of Silent Trauma

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Hey readers. Please welcome Judith Barrow to Book Talk Tuesday!

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I’ve been a compulsive reader for as long as I can remember. As a child, every Saturday morning I went to the local village library with my mother and carried home a stack of books that didn’t always last the week. My father didn’t believe in the television or radio, so reading was always my greatest pleasure. Books were both my passion and an escape.

As I grew older they also became an inspiration for the writing I did in secret. I hadn’t the confidence to show anyone what I was doing; the short stories, plays and poems stayed firmly hidden. And, later again, like many women, work, getting married and bringing up a family was a priority for a lot of years. I didn’t start writing seriously until I was in my forties, had gained a BA degree and a Masters in Creative Writing.

My first book, Pattern of Shadows, and the sequel, Changing Patterns, which is due out in May 2013, could be described as sagas, the life stories of my characters. But, because they’re written during WW2 and in the fifties I think of them as Historical fiction as well. And there again there’s also touches of romance and crime … so, in the end I leave it to the reader to decide.

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Buy from Honno
Buy from Amazon

My latest book, Silent Trauma, is even more awkward to categorize; it’s fictional but based on fact. It’s a story of four women affected in different ways by a drug, Stilboestrol, an artificial oestrogen prescribed to women between the decades of the nineteen forties and seventies, ostensibly to prevent miscarriages. Not only was it ultimately proved to be ineffectual it also caused drastic and tragic damage to the daughters of the women. I learned about the charity (DES Action) some years ago through a relative and became involved. I wrote an article for the annual newsletter and mothers and daughters affected by the drug began to contact me

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Buy on Amazon Kindle

The characters are a disparate group; their stories are run both in parallel and together and have been described by readers as ‘strong’ and ‘speaking with a true voice’.

Both Pattern of Shadows, and next year Changing Patterns, are published by Honno, brilliant independent publishers. But I chose to self-publish Silent Trauma initially as an eBook, now also in paperback, mainly because, after years of research, I was impatient for the story to be told. Luckily, I was given permission to reprint an interview from the Independent on Sunday with two DES Daughters as the Foreword (which lends both veracity and authenticity to the book) and I’ve been given quotes from many women affected by the drug to use at the beginning of each chapter.
But, ultimately the story is fictitious and has been described as’ a good read’ and ‘sad, fascinating and poignant’.

Research is extremely important to me; I need to know the physical world I’m going to let my characters live in. I need to know their homes and their surroundings. For my first two novels I actually traced over a street map of the town I wanted to use, adding a few places and renaming the roads and various places. Most important of all I need to make sure of the setting in time is correct; that the period my characters exist in is true, real in every way to that decade. And that each character reflects that in their uniqueness and in the way they deal with the conflict and tension in their lives.

I know what I want my characters to look like but I need to sort out their personalities first. I don’t think you can be a good writer without empathy for your characters. They can’t be one-dimensional; good or bad. I suppose, initially, they’re a mixture of people I’ve known but mostly they become rounded by their place in the book. Once I have a clear picture in my head of my character’s personality I can feel free to tell the story. But it rarely finishes up as the one I have in the beginning; the characters lead the way in that; I can sense how they react to the events in the plot, how they feel, what they say, invariably means I change the direction of the story.

I’m an extremely slow writer. Even before I sit in front of my computer I carry and explore characters, ideas, a story in my head. If I know when and where events take place I will research that. And because I let myself be easily distracted by past characters and the history of places I inevitably emerge realising hours have passed and I haven’t even started writing. But on the plus side I know my settings, the details of the background in my books are strong and a fitting place for my characters to live in.

When I don’t have a particular project to work on my imagination is triggered by something I see or hear; an expression of someone I pass; an overheard phrase or sentence. I lead creative writing classes and often the exercises I set for the students will trigger something for me as well. Or the discussions we have can lead to an idea for a character.

I also believe our memories are a powerful tool in writing; we have within us a subjective and original collection of past senses to draw upon; to transpose and merge, to form our experiences into our own words in order to evoke images and pictures for our readers. Mainly though I have to admit my imagination can run riot through some problem, an internal conflict I’m struggling with. Then I can conjure up wonderful dialogue for characters to use somewhere.

I usually write very early in the morning before the day begins, but if I’m on a roll I can carry on all day, firmly ignoring all the domestic trivia, the housework, which is shouting at me from the other side of my study door. I’ve also been known to write all through the night.

Reading was my all-consuming passion in my childhood but now it also runs alongside my obsession to write. I’ve earned to give my creative self some time without feeling there are other more important things to get on with.

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