Saturday Shoutout: Q & A with Mark Tilbury @MTilburyAuthor

Happy Saturday everyone, I hope you’re all having a wonderful start to your weekend. I have a Q & A to share today with Mark Tilbury, I recently read his latest release, The Key to Death’s Door and LOVED it! Here’s a little information about the book:


If you could discover the murderous truth of a past life and seek justice in this one, would you?

Teenager Lee Hunter doesn’t have a choice when he nearly drowns after spending the night at a derelict boathouse with his best friend, Charlie Finch. After leaving his body and meeting a mysterious light that lets him to go back to the past, Lee finds himself reliving the final days of another life. A life that ended tragically.

After recovering from his near death experience, Lee begins to realise that he is part of two lives linked by the despicable actions of one man.

Struggling against impossible odds, Lee and Charlie set out to bring this man to justice.

Will Lee be able to unlock the past and bring justice to the future?

The Key to Death’s Door is a story of sacrifice, friendship, loyalty and murder.

Q & A

1. What’s a typical writing day for you look like? Describe your perfect writing environment.

I tend to write in the afternoons. I’m pretty useless at doing anything in the morning except drinking coffee! I sit in a room with the curtains closed and music on to drown out any possible distractions. I target 2,000 words a day and try to keep going until I reach it. Not that it always happens that way – sometimes the muse decides to have a day off, and I just have to walk away and leave it alone.

2. How did you get started writing? Was it something that you’ve always loved?

I started with poems and adventure stories when I was about eight or nine. I was naturally quite good at English, and one particular teacher encouraged me to write. I loved creating my own worlds. It was my way of being in control in a world controlled by adults. Make them do what I wanted for a change!

3. Who are your favorite writers/inspirations?

Stephen King, Dean Koontz and Tom Sharpe. I’ve tried to take a little something from each of them and mould it into my own style. Koontz’s description, King’s natural way of talking to his audience and Tom Sharpe’s humour

4. Anything you can tell us about current projects?

My latest novel, The Key to Death’s Door is being published by Bloodhound Books on 16th April. Teenager Lee Hunter nearly drowns after spending the night at a derelict boathouse with his best friend, Charlie Finch. After leaving his body and meeting a mysterious light, Lee is sent back to relive the final days of another life. A life that ended tragically. As time passes, Lee begins to realise that he is part of two lives linked by the despicable actions of one man.

I’ve also just finished the first draft of a new novel which has a working title of The Hunter of Lost Souls. Without giving too much away, it’s about a woman who is attacked and left for dead after her assailant is disturbed by a man walking his dog. As she recovers, the headaches and nosebleeds begin, and she soon realises she has been left with an ability to see into the mind of her assailant.

5. Normally how do you develop plots/characters? Brief us on your process.

I nearly always start with a character. He/she speaks in my head. Something completely random. Peter King in The Liar’s Promise said, ‘What doesn’t kill you will make you wish it had.’ That was interesting enough for me to really take notice. Think about who would say such a thing? Where could they fit into a story? The stories themselves are usually random ‘what if?’ ideas. In the Liar’s Promise it was – what if a young child remembers a past life in which she’d been murdered, and the killer is still at large? Then it’s just a case of matching story to character and seeing where it leads.

6. Favorite character from one of your own novels?

Liam Truman from The Abattoir of Dreams. Gutsy, stood up for what he believed in, took no crap. Someone I really admired. He held onto hope for all he was worth, even when facing death. The only character in one of my books who made me cry when writing him.

7. Preferred method for readers to contact you?

Readers can e-mail me using this address or send me a message on my Facebook page

8. On average, how long does it take you to write a book?

Three months. I’ve written six so far, and each one has come in around that time, regardless of length.

10. Which one of your characters do you relate to the most?

Lee Hunter in The Key to Death’s Door. He’s more of a follower than a leader, but he’s never afraid to take part or test himself. Fortunately, I’ve never experienced any of the horrors Lee does in the book, but I imagine it’s how I might react if I did.

11. What’s the best compliment that you’ve received about your work?

I’ve been extremely lucky to have received a lot of compliments about my books, but for me it’s the ones who say they wouldn’t normally read this type of book, but they are really glad they did. It’s as if I’ve converted them, and that, for me, is so rewarding.

Huge thanks to Mark for joining me today!

Saturday Shoutout: Q & A With author S. A. Stovell @GameOverStation

Happy Saturday everyone! Today I have author S. A. Stovall who is the author of Vice City and several others. Read on for more information about the book and an interview. 

Release date: June 20, 2017

Publisher: DSP Publications

Genre: Mystery/Thriller


After twenty years as an enforcer for the Vice family mob, Nicholas Pierce shouldn’t bat an eye at seeing a guy get worked over and tossed in the river. But there’s something about the suspected police mole, Miles, that has Pierce second-guessing himself. The kid is just trying to look out for his brother any way he knows how, and the altruistic motive sparks an uncharacteristic act of mercy that involves Pierce taking Miles under his wing.

Miles wants to repay Pierce for saving his life. Pierce shouldn’t see him as anything but a convenient hookup… and he sure as hell shouldn’t get involved in Miles’s doomed quest to get his brother out of a rival street gang. He shouldn’t do a lot of things, but life on the streets isn’t about following the rules. Besides, he’s sick of being abused by the Vice family, especially Mr. Vice and his power-hungry goon of a son, who treats his underlings like playthings.

So Pierce does the absolute last thing he should do if he wants to keep breathing—he leaves the Vice family in the middle of a turf war. 

Q & A



1. What’s a typical writing day for you look like? Describe your perfect writing environment.


​The first thing I do before I write is re-read the last chapter/couple paragraphs from the day before. Or, if I’m starting a new project, I like to go over my outline or make a basic structure for the novel.

​And the perfect writing environment? I wonder if there is such a thing!

​I do my best writing when I’m passionate about the story, no matter where I’m physically located. Sometimes I’ll be doing something else unrelated, like walking through the grocery store, when I get a good idea and feel the urge to write. I’ll bust out my phone, or my laptop, and get to writing, no matter what my family or friends are doing, no matter the time of day. That’s the best environment—drowning in the passion of storytelling.

2. How did you get started writing? Was it something that you’ve always loved?


​I’ve always loved a good story.

​But I guess it all started when I got into Dungeons and Dragons. It’s a table-top role playing game where one person (the Dungeon Master) creates a campaign for everyone else to play through. The campaign is the story, and the better the campaign the more fun the players have.

​A lot of friends enjoyed my games, my stories, my characters—and their praise fueled my desire to write a novel. Then a wrote a few and everyone got excited, kept asking me for the sequels, or other novels, so I wrote more and more until eventually I realized it was what I was passionate about.

​I actually wrote my debut novel, VICE CITY, for a friend of mine. She’s one of my biggest fans, so I wrote this crime thriller (with a dash of romance) as a personal story for her. To my surprise, several agents loved it, and eventually a publisher scooped it up, so I’ll always be thankful for my friend’s encouragement. (I even dedicated the novel to her!)


3. Who are your favorite writers/inspirations?


​My favorite authors are Robert A. Heinlein, Tom Clancy, Stephen King, and J.K. Rowling. Heinlein’s science fiction is some of my favorite, Tom Clancy has amazing characters, and J.K. Rowling has a fun balance between serious and whimsy that I’ve yet to see matched.

​Stephen King is my biggest inspiration, however. He writes in so many genres, and he writes so many books, that everyone can probably find something of his they like. I want a career akin to his. I want to write in numerous genres and have so many novels that someone, somewhere, will find something they enjoy.


4. Anything you can tell us about upcoming projects?


​I have a WWI fantasy about a girl who joins a special military unit of sorcerers. I also have a speculative fiction/urban fantasy about a world ruled by the undead. And last, but not least, I have a science fiction adventure that deals with manipulating genetics (with an arrogant anti-hero protagonist that makes the whole thing hilarious).

​VICE CITY, my debut novel, already has a sequel slated for April 2018. It’s titled VICE ENFORCER and continues eight months after the first, with the mob enforcer main character getting wrapped up in old business while trying to avoid having his identity discovered by the cops.

​Fun stuff!


5. Normally how do you develop plots/characters? Brief us on your process.


​I usually start with an idea, something simple, and then I imagine the ending. The ending is my favorite part of any good story—the crescendo and climax make or break my enjoyment. If the ending is good, I will usually forgive weird stuff that happened in the middle of the story. If the ending is terrible, I’ll walk away from the story hating it.

​That being said, I think of a good ending first. Then I think of the main character and all the personality traits that would be involved in such a story. Good characters are important to me—they’re what hook me in and plant the seed of desire to see the ending. If the characters are well realized, it’ll take me to end (again, even if the middle is terrible).

​And then I think of the relationship the hero would have with the villain. I love stories where the villain and the hero have history—whether they’re related, or they were once lovers, or if it’s a story of revenge. I want the struggle to be personal at some level, because it adds to the intensity.

​Then I usually start writing and things get changed around from there.


6. Favorite character from one of your own novels?


​My favorite character from my own novels is a young man by the name of Ereziel Tyne. (Fun fact, true fact, you can tell its fantasy character by the ‘z’ and ‘y’ in the name.)

​But seriously—he has a sarcastic and jaded personality, is rarely impressed, but even when he is, he doesn’t like to admit it. Ereziel is intelligent (which is where he gets his arrogance) but not the nicest of individuals. He meets a girl who had a rough life and shares his jaded attitude, and their relationship turns him around—he gets a little nicer and empathizes with new people a little more.

​My second favorite is Nicholas Pierce, the main character of VICE CITY, for similar reasons. Although Pierce isn’t arrogant, he is jaded and sarcastic, and often feels the world is a lot darker than everyone else sees it.

​I just love characters that come to the realization that life can be wonderful, even if some aspects are dark. Pierce and Ereziel definitely have that in common.


7. Preferred method for readers to contact you?


​Probably through Twitter (@GameOverStation) or through my website ( Either method will get to me pretty quick.


8. On average, how long does it take you to write a book?


​It depends on the genre. Science fiction and fantasy typically take me several months (3-6). Thriller or contemporary usually take me a month to a few months (1-2).


10. Which one of your characters do you relate to the most?


​I don’t usually write myself into any novels. Don’t get me wrong, a piece of me makes it into a lot of characters (I’m sarcastic, just not jaded) and I use my law degree and history degree to help build people’s backgrounds, but I don’t think that’s the same as relating to a character.

​So, in that regard, I guess I relate to all my characters at some level.


11. If writing wasn’t your career what would you be doing?


​Teaching. I’ve taught as a professor at two universities, I’ve worked as a personal tutor for LSAT exams and history classes, and I’ve tutored children with autism. I like knowledge, I think it helps and furthers humanity, and I want people to feel the passion as well.


12. What’s the best compliment that you’ve received about your work?


​It was about VICE CITY, actually. Let me quote you what she said:


“The characterization is top-notch. Redemption stories can be a hard sell, especially for a character like Pierce who has been in the business for a long time. But his growth is gradual, hard-won, and very believable. One of the things I respect most about your writing is your ability to hit on a single, often small, detail that captures the essence of a character or setting. You are often able to express in a few words what could take others paragraphs of description. It goes to show that when a detail is perfect, you don’t need a lot of them.”


​She actually wrote me way more than this, but the above paragraph is a good snippet of what she said. The praise really motivates me to write more, write better, and to continue honing my craft for potential fans.





AUTHOR the Author 


S.A. Stovall grew up in California’s central valley with a single mother and little brother. Despite no one in her family having a degree higher than a GED, she put herself through college (earning a BA in History), and then continued on to law school where she obtained her Juris Doctorate.


As a child, Stovall’s favorite novel was Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell. The adventure on a deserted island opened her mind to ideas and realities she had never given thought before—and it was the moment Stovall realized that story telling (specifically fiction) became her passion. Anything that told a story, be it a movie, book, video game or comic, she had to experience. Now, as a professor and author, Stovall wants to add her voice to the myriad of stories in the world, and she hopes you enjoy.

You can contact her at the following addresses.


Saturday Shoutout: Q & A with author Marie Jones @MarieJones14057

Happy Saturday friends! I have a Q & A with author Marie Jones, but first let me share a little information about her book, Into the Shadows. 


Arriving home from a short holiday in Dingle, Lily Crossways makes a staggering discovery – on one of her photos taken on ‘Inch Beach’, a woman’s desperate face is staring directly at her. Yet Lily knows she was alone that day on the beach. Who is she, is she even real, and why has she appeared to Lily? Unable to let the woman go, Lily makes the uncharacteristic decision to leave behind her safe world in England and return to Dingle to try and find her. Her search eventually leads her to cafe owner David Carson, this woman’s brother, who hasn’t seen his ‘missing’ sister in five years. Lily must now convince him to trust in her, taking bold steps to prove herself to him, and together track down his sister before it’s too late. Yet are either prepared for the hidden secrets they are about to uncover in their earnest desire to find her, and the impact it will have on those they love? 


Q & A

1. What’s a typical writing day for you look like? Describe your perfect writing environment.

My typical writing day is trying to squeeze in an hour or two between finishing working around lunchtime at a local primary school (as a teaching assistant) and picking up my children from school. It means I have to be very disciplined and turn the computer on as soon as I get home. No time to even have a cup of tea! Sometimes I write in the evening if I my husband is out.


​My perfect writing environment would be to have all morning to write – what bliss that ​would be! I do prefer the house to myself, as I can get distracted by my children and what ​they are up to.


2. How did you get started writing? Was it something that you’ve always loved?

Yes, I have always loved writing from a very young age, as soon as I could read and write. I’ve always loved reading, and I think writing flows from that. I used to love nothing more than writing into my A4 lined notebook. I remember one of my stories being read out to the whole class in my secondary class and my teacher really encouraging me. That meant so much to me.


3. Who are your favorite writers/inspirations?

My greatest inspiration was Barbara Taylor Bradford who most famously wrote ‘A Woman of Substance’. I wrote to her when I was about 11 as I wa studying her life and work, and she wrote back to me personally. I couldn’t have been more excited to receive a letter all the way from New York!


4. Anything you can tell us about upcoming projects?

I’m working on my second novel, working title of The Perfect Storm, set in the highlands of Scotland, again a romantic suspense/mystery, which is my favourite genre to write. I’m also hoping to break into the stage and screenplay world – fingers crossed.


5. Normally how do you develop plots/characters? Brief us on your process.

My other great passion is photography. Photography plays a huge part in sparking a story into first life. To me, writing and photography flow together, enriching the other. Words are so powerful, beautiful, haunting. They can transport you into a world so unlike your own, even into a different realm, time or space. They can express your thoughts, dreams, desires, with such great depth and power.


But when I take photos, my eye will be drawn immediately onto something beautiful or breathtaking. It’s a quick rush of feeling, different to what I experience when writing; which evolves over a longer timeframe.  


For me, the photos I take of this beautiful world we live in will always inspire me in my writing. For my debut novel, Into The Shadows, the photo I took on Inch beach near Dingle in Ireland, had such a profound effect on me, literally taking my breath away, that once I’d returned home, the writer in me sparked into life and began to weave a story around this one photo, so much so I used the idea of a woman’s face on a photo to take my main character, Lily, on an extraordinary journey of her own. One image, one moment, one chance to take it.


For my new novel I’m writing, The Perfect Storm, again, it was the beauty of these raw, wild mountains alongside the calm beauty of the clear waters of the lochs that first drew me in as a photographer. I framed these images on my mind, and now setting to work on bringing a story to life around them.


6. Favorite character from one of your own novels?

I’m always rather drawn to my male leading role – for Into The Shadows that was David. Perhaps because he is strong yet vulnerable, flawed yet has a strength you can admire. Plus I rather like his looks!


7. Preferred method for readers to contact you?

Via my facebook page, or via my twitter @mariejones14057, or even my email address And of course the very best way is via a lovely review on amazon and goodreads. Every wonderful review is like Christmas to a writer, nothing beats reading a 4/5 star review where the reader has absolutely loved your story.


8. On average, how long does it take you to write a book?

Too long … I wish I had more time. It took me nearly three years to write Into The Shadows, and currently 18 months for this one, but I’m planning to finish in the next six months, all being well.


10. Which one of your characters do you relate to the most?

Lily, my main protagonist from Into The Shadows. She struggles in where she fits in the world and how to love and be loved, always doubting her own gifts and abilities, until she embarks on her own life journey throughout this story. I think, at heart, we all feel as she felt and can identify with her internal struggles.


11. If writing wasn’t your career what would you be doing?

Well, I do have another career as a Teaching Assistant. Otherwise I would be a travel photographer as I love travelling and exploring new countries.


12. What’s the best compliment that you’ve received about your work?

Any one of my amazing, incredible five star reviews, including one from ReadersFavorite would be the best compliment. Please feel free to go check them out on




​and on goodreads:




Thank you so much for having me on your Saturday Shoutout Series x

 About the Author: 

Learn more about British writer, Marie Jones, here.

Her first novel, ‘Into The Shadows’, has been published and is available now on Amazon. The novel was awarded a special 5* Review on

The busy mother of two has a strong creative streak and enjoys photography, drawing, as well as writing.

‘Into The Shadows’ is a romantic suspense, woven with mystery and family drama.

Click here to see this book on Amazon.

Marie was inspired to write the novel whilst visiting a stunning part of Ireland.


Saturday Shoutout: Guest Post from author D. E. Haggerty @dehaggerty

Happy Saturday everyone! Today I have a super fun guest post from D. E. Haggerty, it’s a playlist inspired by her most recent release, Fat Girl Begone!

Release date: May 1, 2017

Genre: Romantic Comedy


I’m a total mess. My boyfriend dumped me – get this – because I diet too much. Not because I’m fat, mind you. Of course, this spurs me into the diet-fitness-revenge-plan of the century, which leads me to the gym and a scorching hot personal trainer. I even manage to make some cool new friends, including a millionaire if you can believe it. Things are looking up! Naturally, that’s the moment my ex decides he wants me back, the personal trainer asks me out, and my millionaire male buddy decides to throw his hat in the ring. But that’s not enough drama. No, not for me. Because I’ve also lost my job and decided to start my own business. Just call me Ms. Drama. 

Warning: Bad language, bumpy roads, and embarrassing moments ahead. But there’s also more than a bit of romance and even, if we’re lucky, love. Fingers crossed.

Not endorsed by or affiliated with any brand of tequila.

Guest Post

Playlist ~ Fat Girl Begone!

D.E. Haggerty



I’m often asked if I have a playlist for my books. I usually don’t, but there are so many songs that are great matches for my latest release, Fat Girl Begone!, that I couldn’t resist making a playlist for the book and its heroine, Everly.  

Shout Out To My Ex by Little Mix

Any book that begins with a woman getting her heart broken has to have a theme song like Shout Out To My Ex. Funny enough (or maybe just an indication of my age), I’d never heard this song, but it suddenly popped up on my YouTube suggestions while I was writing Fat Girl Begone! and bam! Everly’s got herself a theme song.

We Are Never Getting Back Together by Taylor Swift

It’s not possible to write a playlist for a book that includes heartbreak without including a song from Taylor Swift. There is a reason the woman is a chart-topper after all. She writes the songs that every girl or woman wants to hear/sing/shout when their heart has been broken. Fingers crossed Everly listens to the lyrics and follows the implicit advice it contains.

Try by Nelly Furtado

This beautiful song by one of my favorite singer/songwriters perfectly describes Everly’s struggle. There comes a point when Everly has got to make a decision – try or give up. There’s no way a heroine of mine is going to give up. She’s gonna Try.

I Can See Clearly Now by Johnny Nash

This is one of my all-time favorite songs. I will often just start singing it out of the blue because I’m crazy like that. It’s also on the Thelma & Louise soundtrack. The movie makes an appearance in Fat Girl Begone! in a very sweet way. I couldn’t resist adding one of my favorite songs from one of my favorite movies to this playlist.

Wide Awake by Katy Perry

I go back and forth on Katy Perry – unsure if I like her or not. One thing’s for certain, I love this song and how empowering it is. I like to think that Everly had her own revelation about seeing things clearly for the first time during Fat Girl Begone! and that’s why I added this song to the playlist. The fact that Wide Awake is one of my favorite karaoke songs and I love Perry’s hair in the video has nothing to do with my adding the song to the playlist. Nothing at all.

Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You) by Kelly Clarkson

I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve always been a huge Kelly Clarkson fan. Stronger is one of the most empowering songs out there. I often listen to it when I’m running and thinking I’m going to die. But if that run doesn’t kill me, it’ll make me stronger (pun intended). I like to think of Everly listening to this song on her purple iPod while riding the stationary bike at the gym – something she absolutely hates and constantly complains about!

Just The Way You Are by Bruno Mars

Fat Girl Begone! is – in addition to a romance with a bunch of laughs – about self-empowerment and loving yourself – no matter what size or shape you come in. How can I not include a song entitled Just The Way You Are? This teaser perfectly fits with the song.


I could add pages and pages more of empowering songs to this list, but the above are the songs I think fit best with Everly and Fat Girl Begone!

 What a fun playlist! You can buy Fat Girl Begone on Amazon

About the Author: 

I grew-up reading everything I could get my grubby hands on, from my mom’s Harlequin romances, to Nancy Drew, to Little Women. When I wasn’t flipping pages in a library book, I was penning horrendous poems, writing songs no one should ever sing, or drafting stories which have thankfully been destroyed. College and a stint in the U.S. Army came along, robbing me of free time to write and read, although on the odd occasion I did manage to sneak a book into my rucksack between rolled up socks, MRIs, t-shirts, and cold weather gear. After surviving the army experience, I went back to school and got my law degree. I jumped ship and joined the hubby in the Netherlands before the graduation ceremony could even begin. A few years into my legal career, I was exhausted, fed up, and just plain done. I quit my job and sat down to write a manuscript, which I promptly hid in the attic after returning to the law. But being a lawyer really wasn’t my thing, so I quit (again!) and went off to Germany to start a B&B. Turns out being a B&B owner wasn’t my thing either. I polished off that manuscript languishing in the attic before deciding to follow the husband to Istanbul where I decided to give the whole writer-thing a go. But ten years was too many to stay away from my adopted home. I packed up again and moved to The Hague where I’m currently working on my next book. I hope I’ll always be working on my next book.

Fat girl Begone! is my eleventh book.

Author Website

Saturday Shoutout: Spotlight on Betty Jean Craige 

I’m sure you all figured that I’ve given up on my Saturday Shoutout series, but I haven’t! Life has been crazy in general lately and it basically got pushed to the side, but I’m slowly going to try and revitalize it. If you’re an author and are interested in participating email me at

Today I’m going to share some more information about author Betty Jean Craige and her Witherston murder mystery series. 

The series consists of three books and the latest, Dam Witherston was released earlier this year. 


 The mayor of the north Georgia town of Witherston and one of its prominent attorneys are being blackmailed by a mysterious Donna Dam, who threatens to expose the two men’s shameful activities of forty years ago if they do not take a paternity test and pay a hefty sum of money, and if Mayor Rather does not withdraw his proposal to build a dam, creating a lake on top of a sacred Cherokee burial ground. Blackmail leads to murder, and when Detective Mev Arroyo and her two teenage twins investigate, they discover some dark secrets, putting all their lives in danger…


About the Author: 

Dr. Betty Jean Craige has published books in the fields of Spanish poetry, modern literature, history of ideas, politics, ecology, and art. She is a scholar, a translator, a teacher, and a novelist.

Saturday Shoutout: Magic Chest @MagicChests

Happy Saturday everyone! Today I have some info for you about a new book subscription service called Magic Chest. Read on for more information. 

Do you need more adventures in your life? I have the solution!

Magic Chest is about bringing more adventures in our daily lives full of phone bills, classes and jobs. It’s a subscription service where every box contains a new world to explore and the things you need to make the journeys through unknown parts of your imagination.rahmen

You can find our page at

The Story behind the Chest…

I have been a bookworm for a long time and as many of us, I found the internet more than useful to find new books. As I got older, I stumbled across shops which would sell monthly book boxes. Unfortunately, there weren’t any of those in Germany, where I live, especially not English titles.

So I went online and searched for boxes and I found quite a few but the only thing was, barely any shipped to Europe, as most of them were from the US or Canada.

At some point, I thought: Why isn’t there a book box from Europe which sends cool items and English books to people around here?

This is how this shop came to be.

This is why I include local goods whenever possible.

So the whole idea was to give people from Europe the opportunity to get English books of their favourite genre along with other cool bookish items from their region. With less shipping time and lower shipping costs.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that people from other parts of the world can’t buy Magic Chest boxes. If your country isn’t on the list of possible delivery locations but you’d like to get our magical boxes too, write us an email at

What kinds of boxes are there?m-photo

There is a monthly box, a three month subscription and a six month subscription box. Each box will contain a hand-picked fantasy book and 3-5 times. Food or drink, cards and maps, bookish items and magical surprises.

Feeling adventurous? Visit the webshop at

Know somebody who might need a magical journey? Spread the word!

And follow me on Twitter @MagicChests for latest news.


Saturday Shoutout: Q & A with Helene Leuschel @HAleuschel

Today I have the lovely Helene Leuschel here for an interview. She’s the author of Manipulated Lives

About the book: 

Five stories – Five Lives. 

Have you ever felt confused or at a loss for words in front of a spouse, colleague or parent, to the extent that you have felt inadequate or, worse, a failure? Do you ever wonder why someone close to you seems to endure humiliation without resistance? 

Manipulators are everywhere. At first these devious and calculating people can be hard to spot, because that is their way. They are often masters of disguise: witty, disarming, even charming in public – tricks to snare their prey – but then they revert to their true self of being controlling and angry in private. Their main aim: to dominate and use others to satisfy their needs, with a complete lack of compassion and empathy for their victim. 

In this collection of short novellas, you meet people like you and me, intent on living happy lives, yet each of them, in one way or another, is caught up and damaged by a manipulative individual. First you meet a manipulator himself, trying to make sense of his irreversible incarceration. Next, there is Tess, whose past is haunted by a wrong decision, then young, successful and well balanced Sophie, who is drawn into the life of a little boy and his troubled father. Next, there is teenage Holly, who is intent on making a better life for herself and finally Lisa, who has to face a parent’s biggest regret. All stories highlight to what extent abusive manipulation can distort lives and threaten our very feeling of self-worth. 


About the Author: 

Helene Andrea Leuschel was born and raised in Belgium to German parents. She gained a Licentiate in Journalism, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh. Helene moved to the Algarve in 2009 with her husband and two children, working as a freelance TV producer and teaching yoga. She recently acquired a Master of Philosophy with the OU, deepening her passion for the study of the mind. Manipulated Lives is Helene’s first work of fiction. 


Q & A
 1. What’s a typical writing day for you look like? Describe your perfect writing environment.


I write anywhere and at any time really. I always carry a small notebook with me or jot some ideas down into my mobile phone which means I never get bored standing in a queue. My typical day writing though is sitting at my laptop at home in our lounge because every time I look up, I have a splendid view of the Atlantic Ocean. I usually write at least 1000 words per day and am most productive in the morning and early afternoon. I have found that setting myself a minimum word count target helps with my motivation!


2. How did you get started writing? Was it something that you’ve always loved?


I have always loved writing and being a journalist for many years, I found it was one of the most enjoyable parts of the job. When I decided to move to Portugal seven years ago with my Scottish husband and our two young children, my dream of enrolling with a postgraduate MA programme in philosophy came true. It meant reading a lot and writing a lot which is exactly what I enjoy most in life. I felt immensely grateful for that opportunity. Tragic personal circumstances then led me to start writing fiction. Someone close to me has been the victim of domestic abuse for decades. The more I spoke to others who’d suffered similar experiences, studied the important phenomena of empathy and case studies about people who lack it, I had the idea of writing about five people at various ages and with different backgrounds but all suffer from someone exerting psychological manipulation on them.


3. Who are your favorite writers/inspirations?


I take my inspiration from a wide selection of areas such as philosophical or psychological essays, novels, art (especially paintings) and simply everyday life which inspires my thinking and my writing. A sound or a smell can make me want to sit down somewhere on a bench or the steps of a staircase and jot down some ideas. Another time, it is a conversation with the neighbour or watching people walk passed as I have a drink with my family or a friend in a café on the weekend which gives me ideas for settings in my book.

As for which writers are my favourites, there are so many I love – Margaret Atwood, Doris Lessing, Maggie O’Farrell, Stefan Zweig and Jamaica Kincaid to only name a few. I’d have to say though that my all-time favourites are Simone de Beauvoir (because she wrote great fiction as well as non-fiction and I have enjoyed reading her work ever since I am a teenager), Helen Dunmore (because she conveys what our senses make us feel, smell, hear and see in such a memorable and compelling way), Iris Murdoch (because I feel as if I was part of the plot, a shadow of her characters), Daniel Dennett and Richard Dawkins (because they write about philosophy in an engaging, stimulating as well as entertaining way), Amélie Nothomb (her long novellas have convinced me that nothing is ever what it seems) and finally I need to mention Jacqueline Harpman (because she wrote stories that are hugely imaginative and thought provoking and are always set in my home country: Belgium).


4. Anything you can tell us about upcoming projects?


I am currently working on my second book which further explores the dynamics of psychological manipulation. I have also written half of another novel, which I intend to finish once I have published the second book.


5. Normally how do you develop plots/characters? Brief us on your process.


For my characters to come ‘alive’ so to speak, I need a setting that I am familiar with myself. If I cannot situate the person, I don’t think they can be believable. Then I decide on their age and looks, the kind of skills and dreams they have, their main personality traits and the way they perceive themselves. These various aspects become apparent as I write a first chapter, then re-read it and edit the parts where I feel there is a discrepancy or lack of logic.


I also believe that we are who we are, behave the way we behave not only because of the environment we live in but very much because we interact with certain people, some who have a great influence on us and others less. Then comes the reason why we choose to interact with certain people and I ask myself what it is that attracts us to them? So, once I feel comfortable with the main character and decide on one or two others, I write a rough plan and alter it as I go along, always staying flexible and open-minded because I think that nothing is ever what it seems!


6. Favorite character from one of your own novels?


I have published my first work of fiction, a collection of five novellas, in June 2016. Each story has a main character at its heart. I guess my favourite character has got to be teenage Holly because I can imagine writing a sequel about her and I feel like I want to know how she gets on in life.


7. Preferred method for readers to contact you?


The easiest and quickest way for readers to contact me is via twitter @HALeuschel and/or on Facebook


8. Which one of your characters do you relate to the most?


I would say it must be Sophie in ‘The Spell’ because when I arrived in London back in 1994, I was a bit naïve like her, yet so open-minded, curious and keen to meet different people. Like her, I had the caring backing of my family and knew who to turn to when things got a bit tough.  


9. If writing wasn’t your career what would you be doing?


Apart from a career as a journalist, I am qualified yoga teacher which was a wonderful part time job when my two children were very young. I think if I hadn’t been able to follow my dream of completing an MA in philosophy when we moved to Portugal and start writing fiction, I’d have happily continued teaching yoga!


10. What’s the best compliment that you’ve received about your work?


A few readers have mentioned that Tess from ‘Tess and Tattoos’ has moved them to tears and that they felt like wanting to hug her. I´m amazed when I hear that my writing stirs up such strong emotions and do take it as a compliment.

 Thank you to Helene for answering my questions and joining me today! 

Saturday Shoutout: Q & A with Amanda Laneley @amandalaneley

Hey everyone! I’m pleased to bring you an interview with author Amanda Laneley today. Amanda recently release a romance novel called What I Love About Dublin


Let’s suppose you are a heartbroken woman trying to get over the pain of a failed relationship. You’ve always wanted to see the world. What do you do? Perhaps you would do what Sarah does: travel alone to Dublin and leave your worries behind. She wants to start from scratch, to forget about it all; to enjoy the lush green countryside, the Celtic music, the famous pubs. However, her life turns upside down when she finds herself living under the same roof as Daniel, a handsome yet stubborn Irishman.

Both Daniel and Sarah have their reasons for not falling in love, but love has other plans.

Things become more complicated because love affairs are prohibited between housemates. This is an unbreakable rule that also applies to the three other residents: a shameless womanizer, an absent-minded musician and a new female best friend, intrusive and meddling. It’s a fun and exciting intercultural household for Sarah to adapt to! And as if that wasn’t enough, she also has to deal with Daniel’s heated misunderstandings, with an insistent ex-boyfriend and some compromising situations with a very sexy Frenchman.

This is a new life in Dublin and there is certainly a lot to love!

Goodreads|Amazon|Author Website
Q & A

1. What’s a typical writing day for you look like? Describe your perfect writing environment.

I usually write during mornings. I turn off mobiles, internet and everything. I go to my office and I sit down on the most comfortable couch you could imagine next to a cup of hot chocolate or coffee. Silence and solitude are my best friends at that moment.

2. How did you get started writing? Was it something that you’ve always loved?

I always loved reading and I used to write when I was a child, but then I stopped. Almost 20 years later I started to write again, because I dreamt a wonderful and romantic story that I liked so much I wanted to share it with the world. At that time, I didn’t know I was going to publish it, so now I’m thrilled!

3. Who are your favorite writers/inspirations?

Romantic movies of Meg Ryan are great inspiration. I loved them because they are sweet, funny and charming. I also adore Jane Austen with “Pride and Prejudice” and Jane Webster with “Daddy long-legs”. I’m absolutely dazzled by their writing. Besides I listen music, I try to choose one song per scene.
4. Anything you can tell us about upcoming projects?

I’m working in a romantic comedy. This is the preview:
Lucy is a brilliant engineer who is in love with Gabriel, a handsome personal trainer. She lacks confidence because she is a little chubby and considers herself a nerd.
Max is a personal trainer who works with Gabriel. He dreams about having his own business. He´s funny and attractive, but not very skilled as an entrepreneur.
The deal is simple: Lucy will advise Max with his business and, in exchange, he will help her win Gabriel’s love. But what happens when the deal becomes friendship and friendship becomes love?

5. Normally how do you develop plots/characters? Brief us on your process.

Once I tried to create a separate file containing the information of each character, but it was a disaster. Now I just write and I discover them while the story goes forward.
6. Favorite character from one of your own novels?

Sara the protagonist of “What I love about Dublin”. She’s a passionate woman who dreams about travelling the world. She is brave and follows her heart, but she is far from perfect. She makes mistakes but tries to improve.

7. Preferred method for readers to contact you?

I love Twitter and I check my account every time I can, so if you send me a message I’ll try to respond as soon as possible. My account is @amandalaneley

8. On average, how long does it take you to write a book?

At the moment, one or two years. I’m crossing my fingers to reduce that amount of time, because I have so many ideas that I can’t wait to write them all!

9. If writing wasn’t your career what would you be doing?

I’m hypnotic therapist and a meditation instructor. (I know, not very common). I also love languages and I worked as a teacher of Spanish.

10.. What’s the best compliment that you’ve received about your work?
Kathryn Simmil, writer and blogger, told me my book was “brilliant”. I was so happy when I read her review I almost cried! I also enjoy when my readers recommend “What I love about Dublin” in Twitter or Facebook. It always makes my day a better one!

Thanks so much to Amanda for spending some time with me today. 

Saturday Shoutout: Q & A with Author Craig Hart @craighartwriter

I’m so pleased to have Craig Hart here today for a Q & A. Read on for more information about his book and the interview.

About the Book: 


Do You Love Thrillers? The New Shelby Alexander Thriller Series Is Here! Don’t Forget To Breathe… A woman dies in his arms…a drug dealer offers him $10,000…a gunman is determined to kill him. And then everything goes to hell.

Shelby Alexander is an aging ex-boxer and retired fixer, whose activities often flirted with the wrong side of the law. Looking for a little peace and a slower pace of life, he moved to Serenity, the small Michigan town where he grew up. But trouble follows men like Shelby, and he finds himself embroiled in an underworld of drugs and violence that may prove to be his undoing. The first book in the new Shelby Alexander Thriller Series, Serenity is an action-packed read with a lovingly rendered cast, witty dialogue, and a main character who doesn’t know when to quit.

If You Love These Authors, You’ll Love the Shelby Alexander Series: Nick Stephenson, Mark Dawson, David Archer, John Hemmings Christopher Greyson.

Q & A:

1. What’s a typical writing day for you look like? Describe your perfect writing environment.

As the stay-at-home dad for twin boys, my writing happens whenever they’re not taking the house apart brick by brick. This generally means either during their lovely afternoon nap or after the even more lovely bedtime. I do have a sitter come in twice a week, and that affords a few hours to really focus on the project at hand.

My perfect writing environment would be a cabin on the shore of Lake Michigan. My dream–and this actually will happen, mind you–is to own such a place where I can go a few weeks a year and do nothing but write and yell at the seagulls.

2. How did you get started writing? Was it something that you’ve always loved?

I started writing in my mid-teens, although I’d always loved reading. By the time I was in my early twenties, writing had become my obsession. And it hasn’t let up much since. I’ve learned how to temper that obsession a bit (although not well) in order to function as a normal human, but I don’t think I could not be a writer. Having said that, I can’t profess to always love writing. I almost always love having written, but that’s a different thing altogether. I often loathe the writing process, and dread sitting down at the keyboard. There are those days. On the other hand, the times when the muse is generous and the words flow…that’s a high I wouldn’t trade for anything.

3. Who are your favorite writers/inspirations?

I have a literary bent (which readers will find on full display in my 2015 novel Becoming Moon), so I admire writers such as Hemingway and Capote. I don’t pretend to write like those giants, by the way, but they inspire me nonetheless. I also enjoy the Prey novels by John Sandford and some stuff by Lee Child and Michael Connelly. By the way, if you all haven’t seen the Amazon series Bosch, made from the Connelly novels, check it out!

4. Anything you can tell us about upcoming projects?

My newest book, Serenity, is the first in a series of Serenity thrillers, starring Shelby Alexander. The books will all be connected, with recurring characters and continuing storylines, although each book will contain a resolution as well. I have the second book well underway and am planning the third. I intend to have the next two finished and available by summer 2017. 

5. Normally how do you develop plots/characters? Brief us on your process.

It varies. Sometimes it happens in a moment and I am suddenly presented with a plot line or character that works. Other times it is like hacking granite. More often it’s the latter. In this case, I often resort to outlining for plot and freewriting for characters. In the case of characters, it’s useful to get as well acquainted with them as possible. The better you know the characters, the more you will understand their motives and potential actions, which in turn opens up all manner of avenues in the plot.

6. Favorite character from one of your own novels?

This is going to sound like a plant, but it’s Shelby Alexander, the star of the new series. He is an aging ex-boxer who is struggling with his declining physical prowess and the ongoing relationships with his temperamental daughter and the too-young-for-him girlfriend. I find him fascinating. He can be tough as nails, but also has a vulnerable side that shows up, especially in conversation with the girlfriend (and occasionally the daughter). I suspect that Shelby (and I’ll have to ask him to be sure, although he’ll probably just blow me off) is having a difficult time accepting change in his own life and prefers to think he can continue his tough guy approach to life forever. We all know how that is going to turn out for him; hopefully he’ll figure it out before it’s too late.

7. Preferred method for readers to contact you?

You can pop over to my website and go to the contact page! Fill it out, and that will send me an email, which I always read.

8. On average, how long does it take you to write a book?

Average…that’s a tough one. Becoming Moon took three years. Serenity took about two months, from beginning to the final edit. I don’t intend to ever again write a book as fast as I wrote Serenity. I’m very happy with how it turned out, but it also exhausted the hell out of me. I’m sure there are writers who write like this routinely, but I’m not one of them. I’m planning four months each for the next two books, but I’d take six months and be happy.

10. Which one of your characters do you relate to the most?

It’s a tie between Shelby and Nigel Moon, the eponymous character from Becoming Moon. Put those two together and you have the kind of person I intend to become over the next few decades: crusty, surly, but with a good heart and gummy, fifty-year-old peppermints covered in pocket lint for all the kiddies.

11. If writing wasn’t your career what would you be doing?

Probably sitting around wondering why I felt so unfulfilled. No, seriously, I would have likely stayed in my job at the public library system or shuffled off to teach English at some college no one’s ever heard of. Both of those things actually sound fine to me (as long as I could write on the side).

12. What’s the best compliment that you’ve received about your work?

I once had a woman say that my work inspired her to give writing another shot, even though she had stopped years ago. I don’t think she meant professionally, but just as something she could do that might be cathartic. Anytime someone finds my work inspiring in some way…yeah, that makes it worth it.

About the Author: 

Craig A. Hart is the stay-at-home father of twin boys, a writer, editor, Amazon bestselling author, lover of the arts, and only human. He served as editor-in-chief for The Rusty Nail literary magazine and as manager for Sweatshoppe Media. He also served as director for Northern Illinois Radio Information Service, an outreach that brought daily news and information to the visually impaired. 


He has been published in The Orange Room Review, Voices, The Stray Branch, Red Poppy Review, The Mindful Word, Inclement, Right Hand Pointing, 7×20 Magazine, and others. 


In 2015, Kindle Press published his novel Becoming Moon. NPR affiliate Northern Public Radio featured Becoming Moon in their Winter Book Series.

Besides his award-winning novel, Craig is the author of The Writer’s Tune-Up Manual, The Busy Writer, and The Girl Who Read Hemingway. He is also the author of the new Shelby Alexander Thriller Series. The first book in the series, Serenity, launched on Oct. 31, 2016.


Craig lives and writes in Iowa City with his wife, sons, and two cats.

Twitter|Facebook|Website|Amazon Author Page

Huge thanks to Craig for joining me today! 

Saturday Shoutout: Q & A with Author Arnulfo Cantatero @ArnieCantarero

Today I have Arnulfo Cantarero here for a Q & A and some information about his book, Emotions. Read on for all the details!


Jason Ariaz is not your average 22 year old. He has been enhanced in many ways but that’s only the beginning. He is an emotionless extraterrestrial born to human parents and living amongst us. Both him and his implanted thinking computer were damaged on landing and must go through life as less than what they really are. The purpose of their mission: to gain permanent emotions from the more primitive society that is Earth. If he is successful, he will be the first of his species to do so in nearly 200,000 years.
Hope lies in the fact that he is capable of emotional episodes and he has been able to forge true friendships. However, he does have the chance of completing his mission if he can truly care for Ariel, the closest human in his life. But he better know his heart soon. Their lives are in danger of ending tonight, unless he can recover what his species has lost.

Q & A

1. What’s a typical writing day for you look like? Describe your perfect writing environment. 

A: My typical writing day involves finding time to write. Since I’m not a full-time writer just yet, so I’ll use whatever time I can find. I will usually use my lunch hour, when I’m standing still at my day job, I’ll pull out my phone and start writing.  

However, my perfect writing environment does involve just being at my desk ( clutter free), with the tv in the background and, if I’m lucky, a cloudy day. I find I can dive into my imaginary worlds much better this way. 

2. How did you get started writing? Was it something that you’ve always loved? 

A: I had always loved reading (imperative if you’re a writer) and I realized they weren’t a lot of books with what I wanted to read. So, I embarked on the journey to write the book I had always wanted to read. Before I knew it, I had found my calling. 

3. Who are your favorite writers/inspirations? 

A: Even though I’m not a fan of horror, I admire Stephen King for his tenacity. That man sacrificed for his art, writing up to 2 am in a boiler room while married and with a full-time job. J.K. Rawlings for similar reasons, but I also happen to love her books. Jim Butcher, Issac Asimov, Arthur C Clarke, and Rick Riordan among others. There are so many fantastic writers out there, it would be hard to mention them all. 

4. Anything you can tell us about upcoming projects?

A: I’m currently working on the sequel to Emotions, my first book. I am also working on getting my first book turned into an audio book. Trying to get the right voices for the characters is very important so that may take some time. I hope to have that done by early next year. 

5. Normally how do you develop plots/characters? Brief us on your process. 

A: I get the seed for my books from my dreams. Being a big science fiction fan, my dreams tend to float around that area. Once that happens, I’ll work out the plot in my head, with twists and turns being added that will develop the characters and the story to match what I saw. 

The characters I tend to base on people I know, since that gives them an air of realism that may not otherwise exist. This has the extra advantage that I can call them up and ask them “Hey, what would you do if I tell you your outfit is funny?”. Naturally, I will embellish some of their details. After all, I don’t know of anybody yet that has had a polar bear as a pet (spoilers) 

6. Favorite character from one of your own novels? 

A: It’s a character from my newest book (the sequel to emotions). Any way you see it, she’s had it rough, from her upbringing to the point she is “rescued”. She manages to make the best out of any situation and, despite the fact that humanity has treated her poorly, she is willing to give her life for the people that have helped her. I have big plans for her and she’s a joy to write. 

7. The preferred method for readers to contact you? 

A: Email is always the best way. With social media the way it is, an email address contains plenty of information while at the same time allowing for privacy. Not only this but you can send larger files via email than with a text message. Like most people nowadays, if I get a call from an unknown number, I may not actually answer but an email, you better believe I’ll reply. 

8. On average, how long does it take you to write a book? 

A: I’d say about six months give or take. Editing may take just as long since that’s when scenes take on a life of their own. Naturally, this is also when grammar is checked and re checked and then the editor checks as well.  

10. Which one of your characters do you relate to the most? 

A: I have to admit, I relate to my main character from my first novel the most. Like him, I feel that most people took a special class on how to deal with social situations, and I missed the memo. I like to believe I’m always evolving, just like him, and even to this day, I sometimes miss the point.  

11. If writing wasn’t your career what would you be doing? 

A: I always wanted to be a scientist, but I love inventing things as well. When I was a kid, I wanted to have my own company called Gadget, Inc where I’d invent everyday gadgets yet also contribute cutting edge technology. 

12. What’s the best compliment that you’ve received about your work? 

A: I have to say how many people related to the main character. More than one reader has told me how they could see themselves in Jason (minus the alien part). I have to admit, that felt good.

About the Author: 

Author Bio

Being a part of two worlds give you a really good perspective. By two world’s I mean I was born and mostly raised in another country (Honduras) but I kept coming to the United States so often that I adopted many characteristics of what I liked about the culture.

I have always been an avid reader as far as I can remember. One of my first books was from the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne, and I couldn’t get enough of it! I don’t remember how many times I read it, but I was fascinated by how you can create new worlds just be using words. People would come to life, worlds could be seen through the mind’s eye, and you could be created of all of this. What could be better than that?

I wrote my first book (and every book after that) on the principle of “what I’d like to read” and naturally what others would find to be a great story with fleshed out characters that they would want to follow. Even while studying computer engineering I wanted to write books that I would be proud of.

My first book is available for digital download at and paperback, but all authors dream of seeing their book on the big screen. I did write with the intention of one day seeing it up on the silver screen.

I never stop writing using whatever is around as inspiration since you never know when your next big idea may come from. Editing can be just as exciting as writing because you never know how you’ll expand on a chapter and make the plot work for the overall story. What other medium allows to be the creator of your own universe, follow your own rules, and if needs be, you can break the rules.

You can find Arnulfo on Twitter @ArnieCantarero, InstagramGoodreadsFacebook, and his website.
Thanks Arnulfo for joining me today!