Read If You've Ever Subscribed to My Blog Posts Via Email

December 30, 2019
Hey folks!

How did 2019 go by so fast? I'm interrupting our usual blog posts to let you know that I've switched to sending out blog posts via FeedBurner. I had some issues with how MailChimp worked with blogger blogs and other things and so I've decided to go old school and use FeedBurner.

So if you've ever read my blog via email before, I would love it if you subscribed via FeedBurner.

Sign up here! 

I hope to bring some good things in the New Year. Things have slowed down for me a little, but I would love to bring this blog back in some way.

Hope you are well and had a wonderful holiday!
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Interview with Holly Bell, Author of the Amanda Cadabra Series

December 11, 2019
I'm so excited to interview author Holly Bell about her Amanda Cadabra series. Be sure to check out her entertaining Saturday night post and then come on back! 

First, here's a little bit about her book Amanda Cadabra and the Hidey-Hole Truth.

Asthmatic furniture restorer and covert witch Amanda Cadabra is a survivor. After all, her family’s bus went over a Cornish cliff. Now the presentable but irritating Inspector Trelawney is dogging her footsteps as he investigates the unexplained deaths. But that’s the least of her problems. Amanda has just got a furniture restoration job at the old English Manor of Sunken Madley with its murky past.

Armed only with a wand and Tempest, her grumpy reincarnated cat, she’s going in. A body, ghosts, hidden tunnels, chills and unexplained lights; can Amanda solve the mystery in time and save the village from the scandal of murder?

This book is set in England, so the language reflects how we spell and speak here (however strange!). This may be a little different from what you’re used to, especially in the US, but never fear, there’s a glossary at the back of the book if you need help.

Doesn't that sound like a fun, exciting read? Make sure you check it out on or add it to your GoodReads list.

Me: First, what inspired you to write this series Amanda Cadabra?

Holly: One day I had a phone call from my author pal Tim, TJ Brown. Had I heard of this new genre called ‘cosy (cozy in the US) mystery’ and its paranormal off-shoot? he asked. No, It was new to me. He told me it was right up my street, there was no competition because the readers love the genre so much that no one writer can write fast enough for them. I’d written reams of non-fiction including three books, even a bad sci-fi novel as a teenager, but for years I’d insisted, ‘I can’t write fiction’. Yet, within minutes, Tim had convinced me. And that is the day it began.

Me: What an unbelievable start! What type of research did you do for this book? Did anything surprise you?

Holly: I began by researching the ingredients of the genre. Then I had to find a location. It had to be a village, I knew that but … I’ve never lived in one, city-girl, born and bred. So if I was going to ‘write what you know’ it had to be a hamlet on the outskirts of the metropolis. I looked at the map, found a candidate and went to see it. This was the greatest surprise of all my research. I drove around the bend that leads to it and there it was. As though it was saying, ‘Behold! Your village.’ And in a sense, it has become mine, and I have become the villagers’ author. Because you see, the next surprise was how warmly I have been welcomed by them.

Me: That sounds like a dream come true actually. I can see based on the reviews that you took so much time in building this world for your characters - and your readers. How did you do that?
Holly: As I say, it began with the location. I wanted this world to be as rooted in reality, such as it is broadly thought of, as possible. Then I drew on the characters of people that I have known in real life or through fiction. And here is the remarkable thing, which Tim told me this would happen; once you create your characters and place them in a location, they decide what they would and wouldn’t do or say. You could say they operate within their given parameters. As for the magical side of things, my friend, who acts as my creating sounding board, took a course in paranormal studies with a well-known professor of the subject. She has been able to steer me away from what would be less credible and keep me on the course of observed phenomena. Then again, I think anyone who is reading paranormal cozy has a belief, or a wish to believe, in magic of some kind. And I believe that magic of some kind happens every day, don’t you?

Me: Absolutely! I am obsessed with cozy mysteries. What about that genre draws you?

Holly: I talked about being rooted in reality, and yet the very genre itself is born of a fantasy England eternally 1932, sunshine on the cricketers on the green and murder in the library with the candlestick, discovered by the maid. It’s there in Agatha Christie, Margery Allingham, the Lord Peter Wimsey stories; it’s in PG Wodehouse, the Ealing Comedies and other British films of the 1930s to the 1950s. I could give you a list. This fantasy has an innate charm, and components of it do exist but perhaps not all in the same place. However, in a cozy mystery, they can be brought into one place. And this leads to the most important thing about the genre for me: it makes people feel better. If only for while they read it. It conjures a world of the best of the best of people for all their foibles, in the best of places, rising to the occasion of crisis, which is the murder, the mystery. I feel better for the writing of each book. If a reader feels more hopeful, happier, entertained than before they read a book that I wrote, then I have achieved the ultimate goal. That is the appeal of this genre.

Me: We just finished National Novel Writing Month! Have you ever tried? If so, how was it for you? If not, how come?

Holly: No. My books come organically, they flow out when they’re ready and at their own speed. That is how I do my best work, which is what my readers deserve. Usually, I write the first draft in about 3 weeks and then editing begins, so if the process happened in a November, yes then I could do it. It’s like a cat: the gestation period for a kitten is about 100 days. My books are my kittens, and they come in their own time!

Me: So, I can’t help but notice you are an Agatha Christie fan! What about this author inspires you?

Holly: To me, she is the godmother of the cosy (yes with an’s’ as we spell it here in the UK) mystery. I believe she has been largely responsible for the creation of the fantasy England I described earlier. I greatly admire her puzzles, her ability to create suspense, tension, total absorption in the plot all without gore. Almost Hitchcockian. As I read each book, I quickly come to believe in the existence of her characters and care about them. She depicts anger without the need for expletives, romance without reference to anything that could not be read by the youngest reader. Christie is an all-access pass to escapism, drama, humour, tension, relief and the balance of yin and yang, crime and justice. I look up from where I write and the first book that catches my eye is ... The Murder at the Vicarage, Christies’ first Miss Marple!

Me: So, what advice would you have given yourself when you were younger?

Holly: Make all decisions based solely on this: which course will make you feel the happiest?

Me: Any lasting messages for readers (and writers) out there?

Holly: Everyone has a novel in them. We are all born story-tellers, and each person has a unique voice and a unique story. You could be a physicist and have never read a novel in your life, and I could ask you, ‘When was the last time you were late?” You’d answer, and then I’d say, ‘Why were you late?’ And you would tell me. And that would be a story. All right, a true story, but it’s still the stuff of which novels and novelists are made. Write it, speak it into your phone, scribble it, draw it. If you want to write, you can and you will. And when you do, come and say hello. I promise not say, ‘I told you so!’

Thank you so much Holly! Make sure you visit Holly's blog where you can find out about this incredible series. Also, check the latest Amanda Cadabra book on or add it to your GoodReads list.
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Remember When? by Gila Green

December 9, 2019

“Nice and quiet here,” David says. 

“I can’t wait to see what you’ve brought me,” Yael says.

“I can’t wait to see your reaction.”

“To what?”

“You’ll see. I paid for an extra suitcase. There’s a ton of things from your parents,” he says. “Went by the house. They’re almost done packing.”

His words are like cold water down her back. Her smile disappears. Her parents hadn’t wanted her there when they were selling Erez’s things…

—Excerpt from No Entry, Gila Green

In my novel, No Entry my heroine, Yael Amar, is both haunted by and trying to tear herself away from memory. Though the novel's main focus is Yael's experience with deadly elephant poachers on a safari in South Africa's famous Kruger National Park, a sub-thread in the novel is all about coping with tragic memories. In Yael's case, at fifteen she left her brother behind in a Montreal café, impatient to get to the bus stop minutes before a terrorist attack. Her older brother didn’t survive. Though she lives daily with this tragedy, ironically, there is not a line in the novel she begins with anything close to "Remember when?" She cannot give what she doesn't have, not to her old or new friends in the novel, though she loves them, and not to the reader.

Yael's South African parents did not tell her about the final moments of her brother's life, possibly because they're unsure themselves or perhaps, to protect their young daughter from additional pain. She wasn't actually in the café itself; she was too busy seeking out her bus home, no longer looking in her only sibling's direction.

There's no one else available to clue her in unless you count her therapist, who is trying to get her to process her memory, not expand it. Yet, throughout No Entry, her brother shadows her, she dialogues, prays, questions, all to her brother who is long gone. She remains faithful to his memory, particularly of how she thinks he would want her to act and react.

The Battle for Memory

It is precisely what she believes her brother would want of her that propels her forward, a new layer on top of her old memories. When she admits defeat at the hands of the criminals in the novel and has all but walked away from a crime she knows deserves the full weight of the punishment the law can dish out, it is to this layer on top of her memory that she clings. Instead of weighing her down in grief, it yanks her up out of her hopelessness and toward actualizing her strengths and finally, success.

Family Factors

At seventeen Yael is not yet old enough to articulate how she feels about the dark space that is her family' past, but it is no more than a few pages into the story that the reader discovers how unanchored she really is, truly lost at sea. The emptiness inside of her is not because she lacks a happy childhood to carry her forward, but because she can now be triggered without context and experience the painful emotions of her loss all over again.

When siblings share their own memories of growing up with each other, they strengthen the connection between them because they share a database of events. Yael still has her parents and that familial collective database to draw on, but a massive chunk of it is now irretrievable. She must steer forward without it and building this resilient layer on top (what would Ezra want me to do now?) is one way for Yael to do this.

This is only one way in which I use memory in No Entry.

Memory and Tragedy

Memory is also greatly affected by trauma and when Yael's world collapses in No Entry, she's plagued by her inability to react the way she wants to. When a friend is badly injured, she does not immediately move him to safety, instead she allows her fear to engulf her, putting them both at risk. Then her initial attempts at gathering evidence against the criminals fall to pieces. The result is her own confusion about her role. Why isn't she effective in the face of new tragedy? Is it now her destiny? Will she forever race ahead to the bus stop and leave whatever's behind to explode?

This thought is so disturbing, she cannot bring herself to share it, not even with, strong, stable, David, the boyfriend she adores. All she can do is ask him to accompany her, out of his comfort zone to Africa, and stand by her side while she attempts to integrate the horrible. This plan backfires. When things begin to unravel in a truly bloody way, she shields David from her new reality, and lacking trust, she lies to him.

Real Life in Fiction
While Yael ruminates on next steps, the lines between true friends and enemies blur; her emotional memory is on overdrive, thus, fiction mirrors real life. When our emotional memories are authentic, the details don't matter. We know what we feel and those are the scars we will have to contend with, and in doing so we might push the wrong people out of our lives.

This is a harsh lesson but one Yael needs to learn in her path towards maturation. How she will deal with tragedy going forward is what matters.

Collusion Ahead

Just as memories are not fixed in real life, they are not fixed for my heroine. It is left up to the reader to decide how Yael will confront the people she loves the most when tragedy strikes again, as it inevitably will. Will she be open and honest with David next time, put her faith in her best friend Nadine? Or will she justify her deceit again to her boyfriend and cast doubt on Nadine?

The question for the reader is if it is believable that Yael has grown enough to stand her ground and resist the temptation to toss everyone in her life in the same basket when the going gets rough. Or can Yael turns things around? Can the reader imagine a higher resolution Yael Amar by the end of the novel? A heroine who fingerprints a firm protective layer over her brother's memory, so that she can preserve what's lifegiving about the familial database she does have and avoid turning it into an excuse to deceive and abandon the people she loves the most. I invite you to read my sequel No Fly Zone when it's released to find out. Meantime, I would love to hear your thoughts.

About No Entry:

Broken-hearted after losing her only brother in a terrorist attack, 17-year-old Yael Amar seeks solace on an elephant conservation program in South Africa’s Kruger National Park. She is soon catapulted into a world harmonious with nature where she can heal and devote herself to the wildlife that is so important for the continued existence of all mankind. She is dazzled by her new best friend, reunites with her devoted boyfriend, and is fascinated by a local ranger who peels back another layer of meaning in her surroundings with each lesson. Then, on a drive through the safari, she sees something shocking. Soon her heaven on earth is seething with blood and betrayal and she is warned that she is no match for the evil that lurks in the men’s hearts around her. Now she has a secret she must keep from the people she loves the most if she is to stand against the murderous forces that threaten Kruger, her new friends, and her own life. But will taking a stand do more harm than good?

About the Author, Gila Green

Canadian Gila Green is an Israel-based author. Her novels include: No Entry, White Zion, Passport Control, and King of the Class and she's published dozens of short stories. She writes about racism, war, alienation, immigration, and survival. She has a fascination with the 1930s and 40s in the Middle East, and most recently has turned her attention to African elephant poaching. She does most of her work in a converted bomb shelter overlooking the Judean Hills. She loves to hear from readers. Please visit:

Make sure you follow author Gila Green on Instagram, Facebook, and Make sure you purchase a copy of No Entry on or add it to your GoodReads list.
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A Note to My Future Writing Self #IWSG

December 4, 2019

I've decided to join the Insecure Writer's Support Group and today is my first post with the group. Today's prompt asks you to describe your future writing self and your future life as if you were already "living the dream." Funny thing is today is my birthday and every year I write a letter to myself for the next year. So, I guess this is a letter to myself whenever that whole "living the dream" thing happens.

I'm imagining by now I have a couple of books published that are bringing in enough income for me to live off of - or at least very close. I can't say what my future life will be like, though, in terms of who is around me or where I live. I don't tend to think like that.

I've only been published once - two poems that were featured on a website called "The Voices Project" but once the initial excitement wears off, what remains is this idea of wanting to do it again. The publishing high doesn't last long. Or maybe it lasts as long as the length of the work. Who knows. I'm imagining if somehow I've managed to make a living off of writing that the publishing high has faded quite a bit and writing is now it's more of a habit and lifestyle.

If my ideal scenario is that I am making a living off of writing than I'm imagining that if I could change anything, I want that excitement back of first publishing my work. How does one change that, though? I guess you can always try something new and maybe that's what I'd like to encourage my future self to do. Don't forget to challenge yourself along the way. Write outside that comfort zone.

Oddly that is what I'm encouraging myself to do this next year. I want to write outside of my usual comfort zone. I am hoping to challenge myself to write in at least 2 unfamiliar genres next year. I also want to challenge myself to finish a previous work that I left undone. I have a few in mind that I want to see complete.

What is your ideal writing life? What does it look like? What would you want to change about that idealized version of your writing life? Tell me in the comments.

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