Monday, 16 January 2017

Book Review: Unintended by Justine Alley Dowsett and Murandy Damodred…

Who doesn’t love a good Shakespearean-style tale that makes the reader want to throttle the characters in one chapter, and by the middle of the book, cheer for those same characters? Throw in the fact that Dowsett and Damodred created a whole new fantasy world to cast their eclectic characters, and then give them so many ups and downs, you felt sorry for them one minute, and wished for their demise the next. Honestly, it was like riding a medieval roller coaster right along with the characters!

So what’s my take on a story that’s all about a Clan Chief’s Daughter, a Crown Prince, an Ismeran Lord, and a dethroned Princess? This is what I posted on Amazon and Goodreads…

A 4-Star Frolic Shakespearean-style!

Dowsett and Damodred hooked me in from the moment their character, Kenzie en Shareed marries the wrong guy. What a faux pas! From there, the dominoes fall one after the other as the cast of Unintended try to right wrongs in the most hysterical and sometimes disturbing ways. I really enjoyed the fantasy world of Ismera the pair of imaginative authors created, which gave me a nostalgic feeling of Old World Scotland and Britain, coupled with their use of modern day language to bridge the gap of the past and present.

The twists and turns in this romantic comedy end with a few surprises, and leaves the reader feeling satisfied and ready for the next romp in the Ismeran world! Bravo, ladies!

About the Book:

Four people. Four very different lives. Four tales interwoven.

Meet Kenzie en Shareed, the High Clan Chief’s daughter who is sent south to fulfill a treaty by marriage only to marry the wrong man; Kadrean Authier, the Crown Prince who must come to terms with his new bride, even if he doesn’t much like the idea; Garron D’Arbonne, a noble Lord who has been commanded to marry a cool and aloof princess he doesn’t love; and Vivianne Chappelle, a young and ambitious woman who is in love with her abusive father’s manservant and must find a way to avoid having her entire future decided for her.

Fate and wills collide in this Shakespearian-style romantic comedy about good intentions and their unintentional consequences.

Purchase Links:

Amazon ~ 



Mirror World Publishing ~ 



Meet the Authors:

Murandy Damodred and Justine Alley Dowsett

With a background in Drama and Communications from the University of Windsor, Murandy Damodred (left) enjoys fantasy fiction with strong romantic subplots. She is an avid roleplayer and is happiest when living vicariously through her characters. Though she’d rather think of herself as the heroine of her next novel, in the real world she is an expert in sales and management living in Windsor, Ontario.

From obtaining a BA in Drama at the University of Windsor to becoming an entrepreneur in video game production and later, publishing, Justine Alley Dowsett’s unswerving ambition has always led her to pursue her dreams. Today she lives in Windsor, Ontario and is still writing and publishing fiction novels. When not focusing on growing her business, she enjoys role-playing with friends and developing new ideas to write about.

Connect with the Authors:

Publisher: Mirror World Publishing 


Monday, 9 January 2017

39 Building Blocks to Develop a Positive Mental Attitude…

To survive as a full-time author, I believe it’s necessary to develop a positive mental attitude (PMA) to get you through the humps and hurdles that every writer meets in today’s publishing paradigm. Say what you will, but nothing great has ever been achieved without PMA. I must admit, there’s a lot to keeping up a PMA these days. So much of a writer’s time and attention seems to be pulled in every direction, and I’ve found that negative thoughts can creep in on you when you least expect it. But if you keep up the good fight and learn to tame your mind by subjecting it to positive thoughts, then I believe the sky’s the limit.

One of my personal pacesetters and all-time mentors is Napoleon Hill, who once said, “Whatever your mind can conceive and believe it can achieve.” Amazing insight from a man born in the rugged mountains of Southwest Virginia in 1883 in a one room cabin!

So how do you develop a PMA to make life pay off on your own terms? The following thirty-nine building blocks were taken from Napoleon Hill’s book, Keys to Success: The 17 Principles of Personal Achievement. Read on…

1.      Recognize that your mental attitude is the only thing over which you—and only you— have complete control, and exercise that control.
2.      Realize that every adversity, sorrow, setback, or defeat, whether or not you caused to happen, contains the seed of an equivalent benefit which you can nurture into a blessing that soars above the disaster that brought it.
3.      Clear your mind of any influence which does not support a positive mental attitude.
4.      Find out what you want most in life and go after it.
5.      Select the person, who in your opinion, is the finest person in all the world, past or present. Make him or her your pacesetter for the rest of your life, emulating him or her in every way possible.
6.      Determine what kind of resources you need, and set up a plan for acquiring them based on the idea of not too much, not too little.
7.      Form a habit of saying or doing something every day which will make someone else feel better. (Also known as doing a random act of kindness). Remember, one good deed will keep old man gloom away!
8.      Make yourself understand that what whips you isn’t defeat, but your mental attitude toward it. Train yourself to look for the seed of equivalent benefit in every disappointment you face.
9.      Ascertain what you like best to do, and do it as a labor of love with your heart and soul. Don’t let boredom or brooding get you down!
10.  Understand that often when you have searched in vain for a solution to a problem, you can find it by helping someone else solve his or her problem.
11.  Take a complete inventory of every asset you possess. You’ll discover that your greatest asset is a sound mind with which you can shape your destiny.
12.  Acknowledge that the space you occupy in this world is in exact ratio to the quantity and quality of the service you render for the benefit of others, plus the mental attitude in which you render it.
13.  Break bad habits. Do this one at a time. Show yourself who is boss. If you need help, get it. Don’t let your pride master you!
14.  Comprehend that no one can hurt your feelings, make you angry, or frighten you without your full cooperation and consent.
15.  Perceive that self-pity is an insidious destroyer of self-reliance. Believe that you are the one person on whom you can and should depend on at all times.
16.  Relate to every circumstance in your life as something that has happened for the best, for it may be that your saddest experience will bring you your greatest assets if you give time a chance to mellow your distress.
17.  Divert an urge for control over others. Channel that energy into better control over yourself.
18.  Occupy your mind with doing what you want to do so that no time will be left for it to stray to the things you do not want to do.
19.  Attune your mind to attract the things and situations you desire by expressing in a daily prayer your gratitude for what you already have.
20.  Demand a reasonable amount of dividends from life every day, instead of waiting to receive them.
21.  Live in the style that suits your physical and spiritual requirements. Don’t waste time keeping up with the Joneses!
22.  Refuse to heed anyone’s advice—unless that person is willing to give you satisfactory evidence of the soundness of his or her counsel.
23.  Discern that personal power does not come from the possession of material things alone.
24.  Exert yourself so that you keep your body in shape—your body like your mind—must be kept active to remain positive.
25.  Reinforce the habit of tolerance, and keep an open mind on all subjects and toward all people no matter what their race or creed.
26.  Admit that love is the best medication for your body and your soul. Love changes the entire chemistry of your body and conditions it for the expression of a positive mental attitude. By far, the best way to receive love is to give it!
27.  Return every benefit you receive with one of equal or greater value.
28.  Avoid the fear of old age by remembering that nothing is ever taken from you without being replaced by something of equal or greater value. Youth, for instance, is replaced by wisdom.
29.  Trust that adequate solutions can be found for all your problems, but accept the fact that the solutions may not always be the ones you want.
30.  Rely on the examples of others to remind you that any disadvantage can be overcome. Think Thomas Edison or Helen Keller.
31.  Embrace any opportunity to learn how others see you, and use it to take inventory of yourself and look for things which need improvement. Do not fear criticism; encourage it.
32.  Create a mastermind alliance with others to work actively together toward a common goal and purpose. Discuss your progress and insights and gain the benefit of a much wider range of experience.
33.  Grasp the differences between wishing, hoping, desiring, and having a burning desire to achieve your goal. Only a burning desire gives you a driving motivation, and it can be fueled only by a positive mental attitude.
34.  Abstain from negative conversations, especially gossip, or tearing apart other people’s reputations.
35.  Discipline your mind to shape your destiny toward whatever purpose in life you have chosen.
36.  Be yourself at all times.
37.  Say nothing that does not reflect your positive mental attitude!
38.  Believe in the existence of Infinite Intelligence, which makes it possible for you to draw on all the power you need to take possession of your own mind and direct it toward whatever you choose.
39.  Believe in your ability to become free and self-determining, and put that belief to work by acting upon it. Do it now!

If you read over these building blocks at least once a week for six months, you will so thoroughly indoctrinate yourself with these habits and mind conditioners that your mental attitude will become and remain positive at all times. Good luck and best wishes for creating your new improved life! Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. Cheers and be well!

Monday, 2 January 2017

Ringing in the New Year with a New Series…

Happy New Year to all my followers and readers, and I wish you the very best in 2017! Now that the holidays are over and it’s back to the grind, I’ve got an awesome announcement I’d love to share with you. After getting traction with The Last Timekeepers time travel series—now having three books under my belt—I decided to take a chance and submit my teen psychic mystery series, Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls to Mirror World Publishing this past fall. On November 17th 2016, I received a contract for publication for Lost and Found, the first book in the series, which targets readers aged 12-17. Lost and Found is slated to be released sometime during the summer of 2017. Woo hoo!

Here’s a glimpse of the series overview:

Imagine a teenager possessing a psychic ability and struggling to cope with this freakish power, all the while trying to lead a normal life. Now, imagine being uprooted and forced to live in a small tourist town where nothing much ever happens. It’s bores-ville from the get-go. Welcome to Fairy Falls. Expect the unexpected…

Set in a small northern cottage community, Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls, speaks to many of the important issues facing teens today. With Fairy Falls as the backdrop that glues the series together, each book is a stand-alone project with a different cast of characters, one of whom possesses a unique psychic, supernatural, or prophetic ability.

Lost and Found, the first of the five-book Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls series, finds the Fairy Falls Animal Shelter in trouble. Money trouble. It’s up to an old calico cat named Whiskey—a shelter cat who has mastered the skill of observation—to find a new pack leader so that their home will be saved. With the help of Nobel, the leader of the shelter dogs, the animals set out to use the ancient skill of telepathy to contact any human who bothers to listen to them. Unfortunately for fifteen-year-old Meagan Walsh, she hears them, loud and clear...

BTWLost and Found is near and dear to my heart and a true labor of love, since I wrote this novel after my experience with working at a local animal shelter as an animal care attendant. Every dog and cat featured in in this story is based on an animal which I cared for or handled in some capacity. This is a novel that truly speaks for the animals!

So there you have it, a sneak peek at the next series I’ll be penning! And don’t worry about me falling behind on The Last Timekeepers series, I’ve already planned and started Book #3 The Last Timekeepers and the Noble Slave, featuring Drake Bailey as the point-of-view character. I guess I’m just gonna have to learn to juggle between these two book series. Wink.

Heads-up: I’ve got my Annual Birthday Goodreads Giveaway happening in February, so I’ll keep you posted. As always, thank you for taking the time to read my blog today. I really appreciate all your input and comments. Cheers and be well!

Monday, 26 December 2016

Relax and Spice up your Holidays...

The holidays are here! Kids have big smiles, and adults are gearing up for parties with their neighbors or loved ones. The anticipation of being with family and friends deserves a festive appetizer. So, juice up your taste buds and dive into my easy to make spicy dip.


Family Fiesta Dip

250g package of cream cheese (soft)

1 tbsp. margarine

½ cup of mayonnaise

1 small jar of salsa (vegetable chunk style)

1 medium red pepper, finely chopped

1 medium green pepper, finely chopped

1 medium tomato, finely chopped

3 green onions, finely chopped

1 cup shredded cheese of your choice (I prefer the nacho or tex-mex brand)

1 bag of Tortilla chips

MIX cream cheese, margarine, and mayonnaise until smooth. Spread in a medium-sized dish with edges to prevent spill over.

COVER with salsa – not too much so it’s not runny.

LAYER as follows: chopped red pepper, chopped green pepper, chopped tomato, chopped green onions, and then top with shredded cheese.

REFRIGERATE before serving. Serve with tortilla chips (and napkins).

While you’re waiting for the Family Fiesta Dip to set, why not kick back on the couch by the fire or wherever you’re enjoying your holidays and take a trip back into time with The Last Timekeepers time travel series. Season Greetings and Happy New Year to all my readers and followers! Cheers!

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Author Sharon Bidwell gets into the Holiday Spirit with her #Free Christmas Download...

A new series set after the 1968 Doctor Who serial The Web of Fear follows the adventures of Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart spanning the four years from when he was a colonel in the Scots Guards to his
promotion to brigadier and head of the UK branch of UNIT. Candy Jar Books brings additional life to Lethbridge-Stewart, fully licensed by the executor of the Haisman Literary Estate, Hannah Haisman, and endorsed by Henry Lincoln. Whilst the series is not restricted to Young Adult fiction its intention is to maintain that family-friendly feel balancing the classic with a sense of modernity, suitable for almost all.


To get a feel for the series, visit Candy Jar Books offers and drop down to the bottom of the page for this year’s Christmas free download.
http://www.candy-jar.co.uk/books/offers.html


LETHBRIDGE-STEWART
PRE-ORDER FREE STORY


Candy Jar Books is pleased to announce its latest brand new free story!

The Wishing Bazaar by Sharon Bidwell will be sent out to all subscription customers, and those who pre-order the forthcoming novel, Blood of Atlantis by Simon A Forward.

Sharon Bidwell was born in London on New Year’s Eve. She has been writing professionally for
many years, with her first short story receiving praise for being “strong on characterisation, and quite literary, in terms of style”. Her work has appeared steadily in both print and electronic publications, such as Midnight Street, Aoife’s Kiss, Night To Dawn, and  Radgepacket. She was propelled into the universe of Steampunk as one of the writers for Space: 1899 & Beyond, winning the approval of series creator and award-winning game designer, Frank Chadwick. She wrote three books in the series, one of which was co-authored with editor (and writer) Andy Frankham-Allen. The Wishing Bazaar is her first piece of Doctor Who related fiction.


Range Editor Andy Frankham-Allen says: “I first met Sharon via the wonderful world of social media back in, I think, 2009. I was very impressed with her work, and soon enlisted her for my Space: 1889 & Beyond series. Her work ethic was proven to me when a novella fell through at the last minute and she agreed to co-author a replacement with me – which we did, in only two weeks! Sharon’s first drafts are often better than a lot of published works out there, and from the off I told her that I would get her writing for the Lethbridge-Stewart series. She resisted for all of five minutes.”

Sharon says: “I've written for and with Andy before with great success, so I was not entirely surprised when he got in contact about his latest project. For one thing, he'd been 'hinting' for some time that he wanted to rope me in and Andy isn't someone who understands no as an answer. Whenever I hear from Andy, I never know whether to cheer or groan. All those who write novels for well-known television shows now have my utmost respect. Some find it easy; for others the experience feels difficult and involves a lot of angst. I'm one of those worriers. Despite the responsibility, Andy has dragged me into incredible worlds and stories that are part of history and there's no way not to be grateful for that. Invariably the experience of writing for Lethbridge-Stewart was, for me, daunting, exciting, fun, and adventurous…a bit like the character himself.”

Shaun Russell, head of publishing at Candy Jar, says: “Sharon was an unknown quantity for me, but I knew that Andy had worked with her before, so I was more than happy to see what she’d come up with. Having read her short story, and looked up her other work, I now believe she’s going to be a wonderful addition to our stable of authors on this series.”

This story is set between Times Squared and Blood of Atlantis.

Blurb: Back from New York, Lethbridge-Stewart is investigating one of the strangest cases that has come across his desk yet. Wishes are coming true, and if there’s one thing Lethbridge-Stewart still doesn’t believe in it’s magic. But what if he’s wrong?

The cover of The Wishing Bazaar is by regular cover artist, Richard Young. Richard says: “I adore
working with Candy Jar, and their cover briefs are always so specific, but this one was rather ambiguous as there were several elements that I could have used on the cover. I decided to concentrate on the alien of the piece. One passage of the story mentioned its burning eyes. Using a combination of traditional drawing and then colourisation in Photoshop (to really get the blazing eyes right), this is what I came up with. And I'm pleased to say everyone loved it.”


The Wishing Bazaar will be sent out to every person who pre-orders Blood of Atlantis (as a single book, or as part of our bundle/subscription offers).

Blood of Atlantis can be pre-ordered individually, or as part of the Series 3 Bundle (both UK and overseas), which includes the previous novel, Times Squared by Rick Cross, and the forthcoming novel, Mind of Stone by Iain McLaughlin, or the subscription deal for those wishing to get six books for the price of five.

Candy Jar is pleased to announce that the subscription offer is now being extended to international customers. Please see 
http://www.candy-jar.co.uk/books/subscriptions.html for more details.

Candy Jar is also offering a special promotion for its online customers. Buy Blood of Atlantis for £8.99 and get Times Squared for £5. This promotion also applies to six other Candy Jar titles. Please see 
http://www.candy-jar.co.uk/books/offers.html for more details.

Monday, 19 December 2016

Favorite Christmas Story Ever…

Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge’s name was good upon ’change, for anything he chose to put his hand to. Old Marley was as dead as a doornail.

Love those first lines in A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Dead as a doornail really sticks out in my mind. Dickens sure had a way with words! And believe it or not, Charles Dickens wrote the classic Christmas tale as a novella—something I never knew. In fact, I decided to read A Christmas Carol for the first time a few years ago. I knew the story like the back of my hand, and most movies based on the book were true to form. But there’s nothing like reading the actual script written by an author’s hand. Though the language was a little archaic, it still didn’t take away from the magic of the story.

For many historians, the success of A Christmas Carol directly redefined the modern Western conception of Christmas and its sentiments, in effect creating the modern version of the holiday itself. Charles Dickens wrote four more novellas with a Christmas theme after the great success of A Christmas Carol, which was published in 1843: The Chimes, The Cricket on the Hearth, The Battle of Life, and The Haunted Man. Hey, when you’re on a roll, you don’t want to disappoint your readers!

Since it’s less than a week before Christmas, I thought I’d share the movie trailer of my favorite version of A Christmas Carol starring British actor Alastair Sim made in 1951. Love Mr. Sim’s take on Ebenezer Scrooge, he’s truly an original!



Wishing you and your families a very safe and happy holiday season, and a prosperous 2017! I thought I’d leave you with Charles Dickens’s preface to A Christmas Carol:

“I have endeavoured in this ghostly little book, to raise the ghost of an idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it.”

Their faithful friend and servant,

Charles Dickens
December 1843

Monday, 12 December 2016

Tis the Season to go Dutch…

You sure work up an appetite fighting fascism, saving the world, and helping out the Dutch Resistance. In my newest time travel adventure, The Last Timekeepers and the Dark Secret, my characters got to taste some of basic Dutch food such as cheese, bread, and fish (herring) stew. Yum. It’s too bad the time travelers didn’t get to check out some of the must-try Dutch treats while they were in Amsterdam during 1942, but they had bigger fish to fry, and a Timekeeper mission to complete. So, I thought I’d compile a list of some Dutch goodies in case you ever get a chance to visit the Netherlands.

Stamppot: One of the best known Dutch dishes is stamppot, an old-style Dutch dish. It is made of mashed potatoes mixed with one or more vegetables like kale, carrots, endive or sauerkraut. Stamppot is traditionally served during the winter and enjoyed best with rookworst (smoked sausage).

Broodje kroket: The ‘kroket’ is a deep fried roll with meat ragout inside, covered in breadcrumbs. The original Dutch ‘kroket’ is made from beef or veal, but there are many different flavors like chicken satay, shrimps, goulash or even a vegetarian ‘kroket’. You can eat a ‘kroket’ as a snack, but most of the time they are served on sliced white bread or hamburger buns with mustard on the side—even fancy restaurants serve them. Caution: the ‘kroket’ can be extremely hot inside.

Bitterballen: Translated as bitter balls When you go for drinks or visit a birthday party it is most likely that these little, round, often dangerously hot snacks are served.  They are battered in a crunchy breadcrumb coating and filled with a gooey mixture of chopped beef, beef broth, flour, butter, herbs and spices. They are typically served with mustard for dipping. The red-white-and-blue flag is also nearly mandatory while serving them!

Stroopwafel: This delicious chewy cookie the stroopwafel—translated as a syrup waffle—was first made in the town of Gouda in the Netherlands during the 18th century. In fact, until 1870 stroopwafels were made only in Gouda and there were about 100 bakeries selling these treats in that city alone. This sweet waffle made from two thin layers of batter with a sticky syrup filling in the middle. They can be purchased in packages at nearly every grocery store and bakery in the Netherlands, as well as freshly made at street stands at markets and festivals.

And this food choice somehow made me cringe…

Fries (Patatje Oorlog): While fries are popular in nearly every corner of the world, in the Netherlands they eat them with everything on it. And with everything they mean Patatje Oorlog (Fries like War). Fries with peanut butter, sauce, ketchup, mayo, onions and if you wish, you can put curry on it too! Um…I think I’ll stick to gravy or ketchup.

These treats are just a sampling of what the Dutch have to offer. So why not try something a little different and go Dutch for the upcoming holiday season? Do any of these foods whet your appetite? If so, which ones? What other ethnic foods do you savor for the holidays? I would love to know, so please share in the comments below! Cheers and happy holidays!