Friday, December 20, 2019

Power Down for Christmas

My last day at the computer,
before the holidays
and I'm still scheduling posts
completely in a daze

I've made cookies, trimmed trees,
bought presents, and more,
but there's still wrapping, and baking,
and cheese to eat galore!

I'll never get to eat it
if I don't finish up soon,
but I'm powering through on hopes
that Christmas day I can sleep until noon!

One more tweet on twitter
and some witty Facebook quips to fine tune.
I'll be present with my children
I swear no Insta-posts of cranberry spoons!

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Christmas breathing...

A Christmas Breath

I am trying to breathe.
with days intent to race.
time - ever fleeting
Hours stripped to seconds double-paced

My mental list reams off the rails
even as tasks tick,
tick, tick
and the clock steals another minute - curtailed

just breathe
see the silver
grasp the linings with wispy fingers

my dervish whirls away
on sweet-laced cookie dreams
as I dance through to Christmas
on eggnog and mulled wine streams

Sleep divine people
Peace beautiful friends
May the spirit of the season
keep you going until New Year's end...

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Knives and Needles

Knives and Needles: Tattoo Artists in the Kitchen by Molly Kitamura, photos by John Agcaoili, © 2019, Schiffer Publishing

Today, you are in for a treat; a most delicious treat at that, both visually and gastronomically! I received a review copy of 'Knives and Needles: Tattoo Artists in the Kitchen' from Schiffer Publishing and was thrilled when it arrived. If you have any foodies on your Christmas list this year—who also happen to be tattoo fanatics—this right here will win you best gift of the year! You will be drooling as soon as you crack the cover—over body work and recipes galore.

Molly Kitamura started the blog Knives and Needles back in 2013. It featured tattoo artists with a penchant for food. She mixed together glossy images, culinary tips, and plenty of great recipes. It should come as no surprise then, that she wanted to take that space one step further. That step was this gorgeous book.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Ever Alice

Ever Alice by H.J. Ramsay, © 2018, Red Rogue Press

Have you read Alice in Wonderland? Who hasn't been swept down the rabbit hole by Lewis Carroll's classic novel written in 1865. Well, you are in for a treat today. This much-loved book has finally got a sequel with the help of H.J. Ramsay. Only 'Ever Alice' is a little darker than Carroll's original version.

When Ramsay reintroduces us to Alice, she is locked in an asylum; put there by her concerned parents. Alice can't stop talking and thinking about the White Rabbit, the Queen of Hearts, and everything she saw in Wonderland. The inhabitants of Wonderland haven't forgotten her either. But the Queen of Hearts has stepped up her game. Heads are rolling faster than ever. It seems like the only way to stop her is for Alice to return to Wonderland. If Alice is willing...

Intrigued? You should be. Maybe you need a little more to whet your appetite though? How about a little taste of what Alice and the Queen are up to.

Ever Alice Excerpt

Chapter 1
Warneford Asylum, Oxford
September 15, 1888

Alice stared at the spoonful of red syrup. It may as well have had a note saying, “Drink me.”
Nurse Hazel said, “Open wide.”
Alice took the medicine into her mouth and let it pool under her tongue while she made a show of swallowing. The taste of nutmeg and something metallic, almost like blood, made her eyes water.
“That’s a good girl,” the nurse said. She wiped the spoon, capped the bottle, and left the room.
The lock clicked.
Alice waited until the nurse’s steps faded into the symphony of shrieks and moans that always rang down the hallway, and then she spat the medicine in the sink before her thoughts could curdle like an overheated custard.
She wiped her mouth on her sleeve and reached under the bed, wiggling the loose floorboard. Her tattered notebook lay in a cavity between the joists. She dusted off the cover and flipped past her drawings and recollections until she came to a fresh page.
Her hand itched to fill it, but she waited with her eyes closed. At last, he came to her, like he always did. She drew the White Rabbit, a timepiece in his paws, the chain dangling from his waistcoat pocket.

Chapter 2
House of Hearts, Wonderland
Lilly of the Valley 11, Year of the Queen

A light drizzle misted the air while the drummers played “March-O Death-O.”
Rosamund, the Queen of Hearts, tapped her fingers to the beat.
So very appropriate.
Of course, Rosamund wouldn’t have expected anything else. All ways were her way, and whatever way she wanted, she generally got, even if only in the end.
Her perch on the tower balcony gave her the best view of Thomas as her guards led him to the block. Her lips melted downward when she saw the proud expression on Thomas’s face.
The traitor.
Rosamund wanted Thomas to look afraid, pathetic even, but he appeared exalted, as if he were walking to his coronation, not his death. It would be better if he acted a little remorseful, but that was Thomas’s problem—he never did what she wanted.
She bit her lip until she tasted blood. Tears sprang to her eyes, and Rosamund dabbed them ceremoniously with her handkerchief. She glowed with satisfaction as her people followed suit, shaking their heads and giving her their bravest faces.
They’ll always love me.
Rosamund forced more tears to flow until she could taste them. She took a breath as the drummers rattled out a long, steady beat that reminded her of a purring cat.
She hated cats, but that didn’t concern her at the moment.
The traitor stopped before the block, and the drumming ceased. A dreadful calm lingered in the air. Slowly, he dropped to his knees and rested his chin on the chipped stump.
Thomas’s eyes flashed toward her.
She expected to see anger in them, perhaps even hatred, but there was only pity.
The executioner raised the axe and the drummers started a low and steady roll.
Brrrrrrrrrruuuuuuuuummmmm…buh DUM.
The axe sliced through the air, and his white head dropped into the basket in a baptism of blood. No one turned away. Not even as Thomas’s legs twitched on the ground. They watched her, waiting for what she’d do next. She draped a black veil over her face.
“Lower the drapes,” Rosamund said to a palace servant. “I am a widow today.”

And just so you know, Ever Alice is available now on Amazon.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Mischief and Mayhem

Mischief and Mayhem: Part 1 of the Faerlands Chronicles by S.D. Nicholson, © 2019, köehlerbooks

You are in for a treat today. Not only has a new book hit my bedside table, but I have a little more insight into it and the author that wrote Mischief and Mayhem—S.D. Nicholson. As it is the first book in a series, this offers an opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a new world.

Meet the Faers and the world they inhabit. And meet Samuel, our author and host, as we step into a world of fantasy that is sure to pique your interest.

Mischief and Mayhem: Part 1 of the Faerlands Chronicles

Q: This is your first novel – what got you interested in writing?

Nicholson: For the few who knew I was writing the manuscript; it was all about an escape. I was a commercial real estate agent at the time and was enjoying it, but it was a relentless grind, day in and day out. Stepping away from it, I have a far greater appreciation for the brokers who survive and keep at it. Mischief and Mayhem was my outlet into a world other than my own, dictated by the rules I chose. I feel like a broken record, but I truly believe in the concept of “escape through entertainment” and I decided then that I wanted to not only escape, but become the creator of the worlds I escape into.

Q: Where did the idea for the The Faerlands Chronicles series come from?

Nicholson: It’s difficult to narrow inspiration down to specifics. From my own childhood adventures to reading Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones to “ticking away the moments that make up a dull day,” I want to say everything has been an inspiration. I believe every interaction we have, be it with others or in an activity, shape how we view the world. In this case, I feel like the realm of the Faerlands is constantly growing and evolving as I too learn and do more.

Q: Many fantasy books today are aimed at teens. Why did you choose to write for adults?

Nicholson: Honestly, I find it easier to target adult interests more than teens or young adults. Yes, adults are more complex in their judgment and preferences, but they are also more accepting of new ideas. There are two key elements here. First, there is a level of enjoyment that nearly everyone has for fantasy, whether it be creature specific, magic, or just the general world of a “Middle-Earth.” Second, people don’t like to say it, but humans are intrigued by violence. Part of you enjoys the flutter of your heart when tension rises and emotion overtakes judgment. You cheer for some characters to live and hope certain ones to die. To make a long story short (too late), I felt I could ease adults into my world and attach them to characters, before dousing them with fantasy, and then be more violent and expletive along the way.

Q: Mischief and Mayhem takes readers into a very complex world. When you began writing, was it more around character development, or world creation?  

Nicholson: It was always world building, which is weird to say now that I’m nearly finished with Part Two and I know and love the characters to death. I knew who my characters would be and their general attitude, but until you put the letters on the page and make words come out of their mouths, you only have a description. I started writing with the idea that I’m going to let my characters evolve on their own and “grow into themselves” throughout the story. I said earlier that I wanted to escape into the world, not necessarily walk with the characters. The Faerlands is only one landmass in this world, with many others hinted at. I felt that the reader needed to see what trees and foliage surrounded them in the Woodlands. They need to smell the sweet aroma of honeysuckle and shiver during a cold breeze.

Q: Mischief and Mayhem introduces readers to a lot of new characters. Which one is your favorite? And why?

Nicholson: This is difficult, because I know more characters and more importantly, who dies (insert maniacal laugh). My favorite is by far Ophelia. In short, she’s a little badass. She’s far stronger than she realizes, but it comes at a great cost. Her power forces her to relive tragic moments and nearly drives her insane. I cannot even count how many hardships I’ve forced upon her, yet she always has a positive outlook and refuses to let any loss or wrong doing define her. It hasn’t been shared on socials yet, but I had my most recent tattoo be of her. Soon it will be done with more imagery from different scenes and fights. All in all, I couldn’t think of a better character’s mindset to tell most of the story from.

Q: Mischief and Mayhem is the first book in the series. When will the next one come out, and what can readers expect from it?

Nicholson: Hopefully soon! My goal, as I’m sure is any debut author’s, is to reach a point that I’m constantly producing content. I moved to the Outer Banks at the beginning of the off-season and right when I began the publication process, knowing that I would have a lot of free time. I’m pleased to say that in the past six months I’m just over the three-quarter’s mark with Part Two and it is full speed ahead. As far as expectations go: more story. Part One ideally sets the stage of the world and lays out what surface issues are occurring. Part Two brings in a third storyline, following the forces in the Meadows as they defend against the invaders. It also follows the antagonists more, learning a little about their story. Overall, Part Two is a hurricane of emotion, violence, and mysticism. More races are introduced and understood, along with even more fantastic creatures!

Q: What do you want the reader to take away from Mischief and Mayhem?

Nicholson: I want them to take away the concept that even when the world looks bleak and empty, you only need to turn the page and find a silver lining. Our characters face far worse problems than any of us could imagine in day to day life, yet they endeavor to persevere. I know it’s cliché, but our issues are always minute in the grand scheme. Sometimes we just need to see others, whether they are fictional or not, overcome something worse and inspire them to do better and enjoy life for what it is. TLDR…don’t wait to be happy, go seek it.


Thank you to S.D. Nicholson for sharing some insight into his debut novel and the worlds you can get to know within its pages. I look forward to the next installments already! If you want to learn more, visit his website for a deeper dive into his world.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

A Devil Comes to Town

A Devil Comes to Town 

by Paolo Maurensig
Translated by Anne Milano Appel

Excerpt read to you by Katherine Krige
Reading from pages 21-23 

World Editions is hosting a page-a-day Read Along of Paolo Maurensig's newest novel A Devil Comes to Town. I was asked to contribute a reading of his book as well.

Listen along, as illustrious readers, including Paolo himself, spin the tale of a devil who arrives in a town full of writers, intent on shaking up the Swiss village's harmony. I join other authors, publishers, booksellers, and more, as we work through Paolo's literary thriller page by page.

It's a beautiful day for a dark tale of narcissism, vainglory, and our inextinguishable thirst for stories. Care for a listen?

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Award for Best Supporting Actor Goes To...

The bell rang signalling the end of first period. I walked out of Mr Warne's class with a new textbook, my class list, and a dull fear of how I was going to maneuver the rest of the school day minus the one thing that everyone else seemed to have—a locker. Somehow, I fell short in the locker lottery and would now be forced to carry all my possessions for the rest of the day. Scratch that, for the rest of the school year. Not so bad now with only one textbook in my backpack, but there were seven more classes to go, and sure to be many more books added to the load before the day was through. The office suggested sharing a locker with a friend, but that was something I had in short supply. I had squeaked through primary school with one and she now went to a different high school.

By my first spare, I had picked up a couple more textbooks, but no more friends. Always painfully shy, this would be far harder than solving a math equation or analyzing an English paragraph. I slipped towards the gymnasium looking for a corner to hide out in and ease my backpack off my shoulder. And that is when Nikki smiled in my direction.

"Hi," she said. "I think you were in my homeroom with Mr Warne. What did you think of him?"

"Um. He's alright I guess," I mumbled.

No one ever typically sought me out for conversation. I felt out of my depth, but somehow buoyed by her friendliness. She had mousy brown hair, an English Beat tee-shirt, and big, beige glasses that took over half her face. Just like mine did. And apparently she wasn't put off by my Bi-way cords or equally mousy haircut in a slightly light shade.

We chatted for a few minutes, and then she commented that my bag looked heavy.

"Yeah," I replied. "I didn't get a locker. I guess I'll have to get used to it."

"Do you want to share mine?" she asked.

And with that, I gained a best friend who would fade in and out of my life for years, but would always be there to share the load when I needed a friend the most.


Today's 30-Day Writing Challenge though is two parts. The above is part one. The second half of the challenge is to imagine what life would have looked like if my supporting actor had not stepped into my world. 

How did they change you and how have they influenced your life? Try to imagine who you would be without them. Write that scene again but without them


I walked out of Mr Warne's class. Barbie and Kelly pushed by me laughing at some inside joke I wasn't privy to. Kelly looked over her shoulder, as they got to their locker.

"Nice glasses," she muttered to Barbie with a nod in my direction. Both girls snickered cruelly, as they jammed their heavy backpacks into the shared space.

"Oh, look," Barbie added.

"Twinsies," she cried as another girl slunk out of the now empty classroom. "It's the nerd squad!"

I put my head down and quickly walked away from them. The weight of my backpack was nothing compared to the embarrassment that weighed me down by being centred out by the 'cool' girls. I might not ever had been overly popular, but being singled out to be picked on was more than I could stomach on my first day of school. My only friend from primary school went to another high school, leaving me alone in a sea of strangers. Anxiety swelled inside me as I fled away from their taunts. I was too scared to stand up to their cruelty and too shy to seek out the other poor girl who was sadly lumped into my geek domain. She didn't need that kind of stigma.

At the end of the hall, I escaped into the girls bathroom. Older girls stared at me, as I stumbled in. This wasn't the refuge I imagined. Those weren't friendly eyes boring holes into my cheap Bi-way outfit. I wouldn't fit in here either. Maybe I wouldn't fit in anywhere...


Would it have gone down like that? I don't want to know. With a new friend at my side, I gained confidence to find my voice, to find my tribe, to find my path. I am blesses that she walks on my path still and has influenced my life for the better every step of the way. She is a positive role model and amazing cheerleader for anyone who needs the boost. She might have experienced her own ebbs and flows in life, but she sure isn't afraid to fight for what's right for the downtrodden, little guys, or marginalized. And her soul makes mine stronger to fight for the same rights for those in need in my neck of the woods. She is definitely one of the best supporting actors in my life. 💕

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Roll the Dice: Amazing Inventions


Character: A child
Conflict: Invents something amazing

I have 15 minutes to create. Where will the story go?


"Mom! Dad! Check this out," Ginny yells excitedly, as she stands in front of her hand-crafted workbench.

Calling it a workbench is generous. Old nails stick out of scavenged plywood and pilfered two-by-fours. A scrap of Ginny's shirt snared in a rusted peg not quite flush with the uneven surface. She is infinitely proud of the bench though, having made it when she was nine. Still standing, but barely...

"Will you go and look?" Lizelle begs, hands covered in flour as she pounds chicken for schnitzel.

When no movement arises from the living room, she adds, "It's your turn. I got to see the marvels of the marble run last week!"

"mmmrhh... Fine. But these taxes won't finish themselves!" John shoots back, as he clumps out to the back room that they have designated for Ginny's workshop.

"What do we have today?" John asks. "Something to help me find more money on our taxes? Maybe a meat tenderizer for your Mom?"

Ginny rolls her eyes.

"Meat tenderizers have already been invented Dad," she exclaims. "And I don't know why you still do your taxes yourself. That nice lady in the mall said she could do them for you and was sure to find
you oodles of rebates."

"Anyway," Ginny continued as John rolled his eyes. "This is something WAY cooler! It's amazing! Check it out!"

Scraps of lumber littered the floor. As did a good pile of sawdust and Lizelle's new hammer. John nimbly avoided the spill of nails and overturned yoghurt container lying in the midst of the mess. It was a good thing that he came for this invention unveiling, as Lizelle would lose her mind at the chaos.

"It's... umm," John started. He cocked his head and looked at it from one side, then the other. "It looks interesting Ginny. But uh... What is it?"

Sawdust, Saw, Wood, Woodworks, Timber, Logging


That's it! My 15 minutes is up. We'll never get to find out what Ginny invented and whether Lizelle or John would be as amazed as she was by its invention. Did I set the scene? Did I build any tension? Would you keep reading if there was more to the story or should there have been more depth, intrigue, or character development? 

Day 3 of my 30-Day Writing Challenge!

Monday, April 1, 2019

DAY 1: Stream of Consciousness

words educate injustice questioning my place here
white skin hurts
mirrors on history show us
water be damned fingers broken heart of stone drop
hear the name

prayers aren't enough social divide to remember
face the chant
bleed into past present future
forget remember at the table more than hand wringing
money puke mouth

dance mother earth lecture tells the story
listen for you
place babies label guilt own
tears added to sky aunties uncle arrows claw truth
more stories told

tomorrow strength together cedar smudge own it
see the totem
equal parts grief reconciliation stand
leaves touch bodies bend dance beat drum house pain
change turn amend


Words. A collection of them. Random, but somehow formed into a stream of consciousness based upon listening to this year's Massey Lectures. Punctuation isn't part of the game, as I tackle Day 1 of April's 30 Days of Writing Challenge

7 words
3 words
5 words
9 words
3 words
1 word

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Boekenweek Part 2: You Have Me to Love

You Have Me to Love by Jaap Robben, Translated by David Doherty, © 2014, World Editions

Grief is a familiar topic for me. So when I read the description of 'You Have Me to Love' by Jaap Robben, the theme spoke to me.

"On a remote island somewhere in the North Atlantic, a nine-year-old boy looks on helplessly as his father is swept out to sea. Consumed by guilt and paralyzed by his mother's frantic grief, Mikael cannot bring himself to tell the truth about what happened. As the pair struggle to restore the fragile balance of their isolated lives, the young widow starts to demand the impossible of her only son."

A woman distraught over the loss of her husband is relatable. Hearing the story from her son's perspective is intriguing. Delving into her complicated and prolonged grief is disturbing, but worth exploring with the help of Robben's powerful prose. How does anyone handle someone stuck in their bereavement, especially when you have your own loss to process and understand? That is Mikael's challenge, and he is only 9 years old when his father drowns. Plus, he lives on an isolated island with no other support at his disposal to help either himself or his grieving mother. It sounds like a recipe for disaster.

While the subject matter is challenging, Robben tackles the novel with an unexpected beauty. Guilt is a familiar emotion in grief and Mikael struggles with it, especially as he is the only witness to his father's death. As the years pass, he tries to embrace love and acceptance once more, only to be confronted by his mother's inability to process her own grief. Add to that the spectre of loneliness—another component of bereavement—and compound it with their remote island home. How is one to find hope? Readers can only pray that Mikael can find the strength and maturity to combat his mother's impossible demands. To say anything more, would spoil the plot for readers eager to dive into Robben's highly-acclaimed novel.

The book is currently being adapted into an English-language film.


Jaap Robben

'You Have Me to Love' is the second novel I had the pleasure of reading for Boekenweek. What a week to celebrate; a festival of literature for 10 days! I choose to read Thirty Days and You Have Me to Love to explore both a Belgian (Verbeke) and Dutch (Robben) author—Belgium and the Netherlands being the two main host countries of Boekenweek.

While Verbeke's novel was excellent, Robben's perfectly touched on this year's theme—The Mother The Woman. The blurred lines between those roles are a stark part of Robben's engaging narrative. As a woman, where do the lines start and end in motherhood? You might want to check out more books from this year's Boekenweek theme to help figure that out.

World Editions also provides more information about Boekenweek and the many tours, readings, and festivals going on in North America from March 23-31, 2019. They are proud supporters of high-quality English literature on a world scale, with an affinity for their European and, more specifically, their Dutch roots. Care to read more of their books? World Editions can help.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Boekenweek: Thirty Days

Thirty Days, by Annelies Verbeke, Translated by Liz Waters © 2015, World Editions

The back cover of Thirty Days introduces the story of our main character—"Alphonse is a Senegalese immigrant who uproots his life in Brussels to become a handyman in rural Flanders." This is but the tip of the iceberg.

Annelies Verbeke creates a character loved by most of the people he meets in Thirty Days. Alphonse has depth, sensitivity, and a thoughtfulness borne from a caring, if distant, mother. His travels around the world help too. But while most people like and open up to Alphonse as soon as they meet him, that experience isn't universal. There are still those who have issue with him. That issue stems directly from the colour of his skin.

Thirty Days is a timely novel that scratches beneath the glossy veneer of civilization. Refugees are everywhere today and their treatment isn't always civil. While Verbeke shows us the ugly image of refugee camps on the fringes of Flanders, the presence of refugees is not exclusive to Europe. Plenty of displaced people can be found in Canada as well. Their plight is a global issue. And while many wish the problem (and people) would disappear, it would seem not enough people do their part to ease this crisis.

As Alphonse is an immigrant himself, he cannot ignore the pain of displaced people. He knows all too well of leaving family behind and the struggle to find a place to call home. Even as he is welcomed on the surface by neighbours and clients, Alphonse still comes across racism and anger on a regular basis. The obvious reactions less painful and confusing than the subtle words and actions from people closer to him. All Alphonse wants is to be loved and to belong. A noble goal for all, I believe. One that is close to Verbeke's heart and I think that she illuminates beautifully in her novel.


One of the exciting parts for me about reading Thirty Days is that it is part of Boekenweek. Boekenweek is a week-long celebration of books in the Netherlands and Belgium. This year, those celebrations have spilled over into North America. So not only was I fortunate enough to read Thirty Days, but I am also taking part in the North American Blog Tour celebrating Dutch and Flemish authors.

From March 23rd to April 1st, bloggers across the continent are writing reviews, hosting Q&As, and offering book giveaways for many of World Editions featured authors. A few of those authors, including Annelies Verbeke, are even touring the United States, attending festivals and talks about their novels and the themes within them. If you get a chance, I'm sure those events would be enlightening, especially Annelies' take on racism and refugee issues inherent in today's world.

Thank you to World Editions for including me in the tour. If you get the chance, take the time to visit some of the other bloggers on the tour to see their takes on the Boekenweek novels. I plan to!

Friday, March 8, 2019

Countdown America

In celebration of International Women's Day, today I look at a book not only written by a woman, but featuring an amazingly strong female protagonist. As a woman, we often feel like we have to do it all to come close to making it in today's demanding world. As a single parent, that pressure is even more, as there literally isn't anyone else to step up and take the reins to give that much needed break on occasion. 

Author M.C. Fox gets that and created a character all women can relate to and gain inspiration from. You won't be able to put down her newest book Countdown America. Don't take my word for it though. Hear what Fox has to say about her novel in her own words.

Countdown America: Talking with M.C. Fox

Question: Tell us what Countdown America is all about.

M.C. Fox:. Countdown America is about a single mom, Isabella Bendel, who rises through the ranks of the CIA to Chief Supervisor of the Cyber Terrorism Unit. She finds herself at the other end of a case she never thought she would ever be on. Trying to figure out why she has become a target, while also trying to figure out why her family has been abducted. This is the toughest mission she has ever worked. She finds herself fighting her way through assassins, cyber-terrorists, and duplicitous fellow agents, as she uncovers a Russian plot that is hell-bent on destroying the United States.

Q: What inspired you to write this novel?

Fox: Initially it was hearing about Russia’s attacks against countries of the former Soviet Republic. More recently, the news of the moles found in the United States, the hacking of our elections, and as reported, political meddling in several other countries. I thought it was the perfect ingredients for a spy story set in the world of political cyber-espionage.

Q: Isabella Bendel seems like a fierce character. What was your motivation behind creating such a strong female protagonist?  

Fox: Firstly, I wanted to create a female lead. There are not a lot of female lead characters in the spy genre. In my mind, Isabella couldn’t be anything but strong considering she is a single mom, and in her case, her line of work. I believe she is a good role model for women. She rises above her emotional distress and her vulnerability and carries on with the task at hand.

Q: It is interesting that you created Isabella to be a single mother. What was your thought behind that choice?

Fox: My thought was to create a strong yet vulnerable character. Being a single mom can be very vulnerable. You are doing it all. There are so many single mom’s out there that feel they can’t make it on their own, can’t do what they need to do to take care of their children.  I think it can speak to those single mom’s that don’t feel they can do it all. When they see Isabella doing it, it could help them see that they can too.

Q: And why cyber security – why did you tackle that subject?

Fox: It is a very “now” thing and I thought it would make a great plot line. We hear more and more of cyber related threats out there, for example, identity theft, and hacking financial institutions to name a few. More recently Russia’s reported involvement in the hacking of the elections in the United States. Everything is cyber related and it is a real threat, as we see played out in the news more and more.

Q: Beyond being entertained, what do you hope readers take away from reading Countdown America?

Fox: I hope it moves people to rise above circumstances and succeed. To move past the notion that because they are female, or vulnerable, that success is not an option.  I also hope to bring awareness around cyber threat. We live in a day and age when everything is cyber related.  The threats are real and so too must be the efforts to remove that threat. 

M.C. Fox
For more information, please visit and connect with her on Facebook and Instagram. Countdown America can be found on Amazon and other retailers

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Advice for Lovers: Author Interview with Dalma Heyn and Richard Marek

Ah, sweet love. The wisp of tender passion is in the air, as Valentine's Day creeps ever closer. With its imminent approach, many people dwell on love and how to attract and/or keep it, I myself within that poignant crowd. What gentle fools we are...

As much as it would be nice to think it's as easy as an arrow into the heart from Cupid's deft bow, don't fool yourself. Love isn't quite as easy as that. Even Cupid has a harder time these days, despite us living in a time of avid "social" media. Ironic that in many ways, our social media use has actually left us even lonelier than we were before.

It doesn't have to be that way though and I am lucky enough to have a few love experts willing to share some tips on how to fall in love. I recently reviewed How to Fall in Love, and authors Dalma Heyn and Richard Marek have a few tips and advice for the singletons amongst us. Help me welcome Dalma and Richard to A New Day!

Fall in Love with Richard and Dalma

Richard Marek and Dalma Heyn
Being single in the digital age is hard work. There are dating apps to fill out, finding the perfect pics to show off your fun and quirky side, and then all those profiles to swipe through. And that’s just to hopefully get a date or two! How is anyone expected to find and nourish true love via 1” pixelated photos and brief blurbs that leave you feeling flat? Do you have any tips for the lovelorn in 2019? 

Being single IS hard work—much like an audition for a part you don’t even know you want but nevertheless have to keep returning to for call-backs. The “perfect pics” to show off your “fun and quirky side”—plus all other attempts to present the “you” you want a potential date to “get” at first glance—it’s exhausting.

In all the years I’ve written dating columns, I’ve just one serious piece of advice—and it’s mostly for women. (A man seems able simply to be ambulatory and under age 80, and not a serial killer to be considered a good date.)  But women are caught in the age-old “I’m the perfect woman” trap. Here’s how to get out of it: YOU are looking for someone, and that fact is more important than presenting yourself to be looked at. Think of it as looking out of your eyes, not looking at yourself through the culture’s. By that I mean, do not try to please this mysterious group of dates out there—instead be clear about what pleases YOU. This little switch sounds easier than it is. I’ve spoken with some women who aren’t sure what they want and so naturally fall back on ways to be wanted. But focusing on YOUR desires will go far to make filling out these dating apps more of a pleasure than a drag.

Excellent Advice! Knowing yourself is half the challenge when looking for a new mate. What do you really want in a partner? Do some soul-searching first before expecting someone to fit a role which you don't even know the parameters.

Okay, so say we’ve been out on a date or two. Fantastic, but how do we take it to the next level? 
Going from a first or second date to “the next level,” as you put it, is more a matter of intuition. If you’re both feeling good about seeing each other, and are both shy, it just takes a nudge—in words and In person. Before you leave your last date, you say, “This is fun. I hope we can do it again.”  Responsive but not too eager, and hardly requiring much of an attention span.  Your date’s response will either be, “Yeah, let’s go for pizza at that new place on Saturday, okay?” Or it won’t elicit more than a grunt. Either way, you’re ahead. It’s either moving forward or you’re moving on.  

PS: It may take a lot of these deadly attempts at connection, but, as my mother used to say, it only takes two minutes to meet someone and know it’s right. So you have to plow through.

It makes sense that it takes work to find someone you truly connect with. Not everyone is a perfect match to you, but there is someone out there for everyone. Keep looking! And once you find them, keeping working to grow that love every day. 

One of those ways is with a simple note sharing your heart's desires—a love letter. Are love letters still valid and valued today? Do you have tips Dalma and Richard on how readers can create the perfect love letter for their beloved? Or even win your 2019 Love Letter contest!
Love letters are more valid, and more valued, than ever. Attention spans may have hit rock bottom, but that doesn’t mean a quick “Love ya! ” is going to catch anyone’s attention, short as it may be, unless you’re speaking to your dog-walker. Just as desire needs space, time, and room to breathe in order to expand into love, so do words between lovers need space, time, room and thought in order to express love. Part of the joy of sending AND receiving a love letter is that it does take time. Precious time devoted to revealing a precious emotion—one that no little heart-faced emoji can possibly express. 

All letters are valid and valued—when was the last time your received a thank-you note via snail-mail? An apology, written out with care and heartfelt concern for reparation? A letter can say, and mean, everything. And a love letter, of course, means more than anything.

You seem to know a lot about love letters and what should go into them. Is there anything that star-crossed lovers should steer clear of when expressing their undying love to their sweetheart? What are some love letter don’ts?
We could give you a list of don’ts for business letters, personal letters, apology letters….but we have no such list for love letters. Unlike the former, which require certain formats and sign-offs; proper margins and good grammar and correct placement of addresses and dates, the love letter is totally without rules.  It’s as free an expression of an overwhelming feeling that you’ll ever have, an emotion that simply must be expressed.  Your way. It’s YOUR expression, in YOUR voice, with YOUR wit and soulfulness and charm.  You love this person and can’t bear holding in your feelings one more moment., grammar, punctuation, be damned. All that’s required is that it be pure; it mustn’t have any other agenda than to express your love. Our sense of how we’ll judge the letters is simply that we feel what the writer feels!

Hear that readers? You don't need a Masters degree in Love OR University level English to express what your heart feels. Just let those heartfelt emotions flow!

I recently read ‘How to Fall in Love’, co-authored by you both. Did collaborating on this novel bring you closer together? What inspired you to write a love story orchestrated by Cupid, but bungled through by two unlikely characters – Eve, a former ballet star cum maple sugar bush owner, and Evan, an anthologist and car enthusiast? Are the lessons they learned along the way important for anyone contemplating love?
We were inspired to write the book by just what you so wisely point out in question 1: That everyone is overwhelmed with dating apps, texting, sexting, tagging on Facebook, getting the right makeup highlighter for Instagram…..that we wondered how two people not seriously wired got together.  And since we wanted our question to be presented in a light-hearted way, we thought of the old-fashioned idea of Cupid—how his arrow, when it hit, engendered love in one person.  And the rest just flowed. 

Richard is an editor, so an anthologist was a fun way to present an editor, and I know a bit about dancers. We both know a lot about second chances, and the difficulties of making love happen when two lives are so different from each other’s. It was a great collaboration and we had so much fun!

What about you Dalma and Richard? How do you keep the romance alive in your relationship? Any tips on those struggling to find or keep love vibrant and meaningful in their lives?
We have been blessed with a kind of ease between us; we don’t “work” on our relationship as much as we keep in touch about what we’re feeling.  When trust builds over the years, so does empathy for one’s partner.  Even when we’re furious at each other, we can each feel, somehow, what the other is going through, and find ourselves letting it go faster than we did when we were younger and had to make our points really clear.

Thank you so much for speaking with me Richard and Dalma. I appreciate all your advice and inspiration on love and keeping passion alive and well in today's fickle digital age. We need to slow down and take the time to know ourselves and others better if we are to keep our connections strong. Your enthusiasm for reaching that level of connectedness is heartening.

If you want to connect with Dalma and Richard, you can find them on FacebookTwitter, Instagram, and on their website. Don't forget to take a look at their love letter contest. You can win a rose gold Tiffany Paloma Picasso love ring, plus a hand-written, framed copy of your love letter. 

Happy Valentine's week my friends. May love find you and keep you in a special place, even if it's just falling in love with yourself all over again. 



Husband and wife team Dalma Heyn and Richard Marek are the authors of  How to Fall in Love , a provocative love story for the digital age. Heyn is the author of the New York Times best-seller The Erotic Silence of the American Wife, Marriage Shock and Drama Kings. Her books, published in 35 countries, have been best-sellers both here and abroad. Richard Marek is one of the most accomplished book editors and publishers of his generation, working with writers James Baldwin, Thomas Harris, and Robert Ludlum, among many others. He is the author of Works of Genius and has ghostwritten a number of best-sellers.

Monday, February 4, 2019

How to Fall in Love

How to Fall in Love by Dalma Heyn & Richard Marek, © 2018, The Story Plant

Valentine's Day is coming up fast. That leads some to think about love and how to attain it. In today's digital age though, many have become jaded on Cupid's domain. We've all got baggage and sometimes it seems too much to make us viable in today's shallow dating pool. But Dalma Heyn and Richard Marek are betting otherwise with their new novel set to be released this week.

Cupid is in trouble with the big guy. Jove figures the world doesn't need help from Eros, what with the vast majority of people dialing into Tinder hookups, sexting, and love in the dot com age. Nobody looks to Cupid anymore, so it's time for him to go.

Of course Cupid, isn't convinced and gambles that he can prove that real love still exists. He just needs a likely couple to prove it, and a bit of time. Enter Evan Cameron—anthologist and car enthusiast—and Eve Golyakovsky—prima ballerina, cum maple sugar bush owner. An unlikely couple who happen to live on opposite sides of the US. Jove gives Cupid seven months; no magic, potions, nor tricks. Love must be won on its own merit, with only the slightest manipulations from the love god. Heaven help all those who dream of romance in their future!

While Cupid flits in and out of the story, the bulk of the novel is all about Evan and Eve. Like so many of us, they have both been in previous relationships with mixed acclaim. Neither one found overwhelming love. Both thought it was their fault. But Heyn and Marek manipulate us to believe that maybe there is that special someone out there for everyone. A special someone who might not be perfect in all ways, but once you find them, is willing to move heaven and earth to be a part of your life.

How do you fall in love? Sometimes fate intervenes on occasion, but we need to open to it. While the novel follows the ups and downs of Eve and Evan's personal uncertainties and previous preconceived notions, ultimately, it asks us to be honest with ourselves. You don't have to be perfect to fall in love, but you have to be willing to make time and space for someone in your life. And that includes face-time. If we are to learn anything from this simple love story, it's that texts, emails, and even phone calls can be imperfect modes for communication. If you dare to give love a chance, do it one on one and with your whole heart.

So to hopefuls and romantics out there, good luck finding and keeping love. And good luck to Dalma and Richard with their new novel, which you can find on Amazon.


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