Friday, July 20, 2018


I am pleased to welcome Allie Burns to my blog. Please leave comments or questions at the bottom of the blog.


From Chapter 1 of The Land Girl 

Right in front of her, at the bottom of the enclosure was the farmyard, where the chickens bustled about, clucking. Behind the yard were orchards full of apple, cherry and cob trees, hop gardens and other meadows for the sheep and cows.
Two women she recognised from the village caught her attention. Olive Hughes the wheelwright’s wife and Ada Little the blacksmith’s wife hurried over a stile to the right of her. Lily’s new calf was on its own at the farmyard boundary, while Lily herself was higher up the paddock. The cow stamped a warning hoof at Olive and Ada who were now a wedge between the mother and her adopted baby.
The two women were in such a rush that they hadn’t even noticed. What on earth were they thinking, getting in between a cow and her calf?
‘Watch out!’ Emily called from the tree, causing Olive to start and let out a yelp. Lily turned her head, looking directly at the village women. ‘Mad cow on the loose!’ The cow snorted. Ada screamed. She tried to smother it with her hand, but it was too late – she had startled Lily.
The cow was slow away, heavy and lolloping, but within a few strides it was clear she was picking up pace. She was running down the hill, her head high as she charged down, homing in on her targets.
Emily dropped from the tree with a thud. ‘Stand your ground,’ she called to the women. Ada took no notice, turned on her heels and ran like the clappers back towards the stile. Olive, meanwhile, remained rooted to the spot, mouth agape, whimpering.
Lily dropped her chin to her chest, took a deep breath and sprinted. Olive would be trampled if Emily didn’t do something. Lily was fast, her size deceptive. Emily’s boots thumped down the paddock. She bent to pick up a stick, didn’t drop her pace, and then she reached Olive and stood between her and Lily, facing the cow down.
‘She’s going to flatten us!’ Olive cried.
‘Run like stink,’ Emily yelled, her breath coming thick and fast. ‘Don’t look back and don’t stop until you’re over the stile.’ Olive hesitated, her eyes darted back and forth, torn between saving her own skin and leaving Emily there. But there wasn’t time to think it through – Emily pushed her away. ‘Go!’ she cried.
As the footsteps and the whimpering receded, it was just the two of them: Emily and Lily. Emily spread her feet wide, waved the stick at the cow, stretching out her other arm to make herself as large as possible.
‘Now, girl,’ she shouted, her heart pounding as violently as Lily’s hooves. The thud, thud grew louder; the ground even shook.
Behind her came a scream that carried through the air. Emily ignored the hysterics, and kept on waving the stick.
‘Look, you daft beast, the calf is safe. It’s just me. You know me. We’ll both die if you don’t stop.’




BLURB: War changes everything…

Emily has always lived a life of privilege. That is until the drums of World War One came beating. Her family may be dramatically affected but it also offers her the freedom that she craves. Away from the tight control of her mother she grabs every opportunity that the war is giving to women like her, including love.

Working as a land girl Emily finds a new lease of life but when the war is over, and life returns to normal, she has to learn what to give up and what she must fight for.

Will life ever be the same again?



Allie lives in Kent with her family and two tortoises. When she's not writing for business or penning her women's historical fiction, Allie enjoys swimming and yoga. She has an MA in Professional Writing from Falmouth University and The Lido Girls is her debut novel. She is currently working on a second interwar years novel, which is due for publication in the summer of 2018. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018


"Music calms the savage soul" is a saying I often heard growing up. It comes a British poet, William Congreave, whose actual quote is "music hath charms to soothe a savage breast." That has proven to be true depending on the music playing. I need soothing, gentle music as composed by such artists as Chopin, Beethoven, Mozart, Enya, and John Tesh. 

When I am writing I prefer music without lyrics. Music helps me to not hear outside activities, noises, or be aware of people around me. In my home office, I close the French doors, look out at the lake, and enjoy the sounds of nature, or listen to relaxing music. 

Neuromusicology studies how the brain is affected by music. According to this science, brain scans show different results from those who are musicians and those of us who are not.

Music boosts brain chemicals: increases dopamine (a pleasure-reward neurotransmitter) and oxytocin (bonding and trusting molecule).

Listening to music makes you more productive, increases performance under pressure, and with upbeat or happy music creativity is increased.

Studies on our prosocial behavior has shown improvement when listening to music. When lyrics speak of kindness, love, generosity, forgiveness, advocacy, and so forth people are motivated to act or behave in kind. An example is "I'd Like To Teach The World" or "It's A Wonderful World."
Let's do a survey: in the comment section share the type of music you prefer when you are writing. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2018


I am pleased to have Rave Reviews Book Club member, Mark Bierman as my guest this week.  Drawing on his work as a private investigator and a correctional officer, Mark combines his unique experiences and imagination to create stories and characters.


                           His book, Vanished is a remarkable story about human trafficking.

When a shared tragedy strikes the lives of John Webster and his son-in-law, Tyler Montgomery, they seek healing by embarking on a good will mission to earthquake-ravaged Haiti. 
The mission quickly changes from benign to perilous after a young girl is kidnapped by human traffickers, and the pair make a promise to the child’s mother that may cost them everything.  
The two ordinary men undertake the extraordinary, forming unholy alliances with the seedy underbelly of an impoverished land, as they struggle to keep their moral fiber from unravelling.   
1.          Giving back: Fifty percent of the proceeds from the sales of Vanished are donated to organizations     that help victims of human trafficking. 
2.         Coincidence? A few months after completing Vanished, Mark befriended a missionary family that was actively helping victims of human trafficking in Cambodia. He now supports them in their amazing work! 
3.       Change of plans: The idea for Vanished came about when Mark decided to write a magazine article about an actual mission trip to post-earthquake Haiti. The trip had been undertaken by his father and brother-in-law and the main characters were loosely based on them. They each kept a journal about their experiences, and though they did not encounter human-traffickers, a portion of the facts and experiences they logged were used in the novel.   

Karen’s book review: 5 stars

The subject of human trafficking is a painful subject to read about, but it is something that we all need to be aware of in hopes of bringing an end to this horrible part of most societies. Mr. Bierman does an excellent job bringing the subject to the forefront through a fictional story. The actions of two Americans in a foreign country to bring one little girl safely back home is the storyline.
I had to give it 4 stars because there was too much detailed description of their hunt through the forest and the mine. All in all, this is a book I would recommend to anyone.

Gail M. review: 5 stars

Really great book about the hidden world of human trafficking. A friend referred me to this brand new author and I'm glad he did. The story is based in Haiti and is not only a good read but is also thought provoking and well written. I highly recommend it and am looking forward to seeing what other books this author will create. Great job, thanks!


Born and raised on a farm near Brockville, Ontario, Mark Bierman’s childhood consisted of chores, horseback riding, fishing rips to a local lake, snowmobile racing, and many other outdoor adventures. 

Transitioning towards adulthood also meant moving from the farm into large urban areas that introduced the ‘country boy’ to life in the big city. 



Blog: Wordpress

Friday, July 6, 2018


Last week I highlighted some of my favorite historical books. One was titled Henry by Katrina Shawver. Ms. Shawver is a member of Rave Reviews Book Club, wrote for The Arizona Republic, and has her degree in English and Political Science.

Henry Zguda was a champion swimmer from Poland, born in 1917 and died in 2003. Ms. Shawver tape recorded her many interviews with Henry and wrote a fascinating book from those interviews. The reader will learn about his early childhood years, how he learned to swim at the newly constructed YMCA and how over a short period of time he became a championship swimmer.

Henry and his family were Catholics and yet he spent many years in Auschvitz and Buchwald. The Nazi's hated and feared all Poles, not the Jewish because historically Krakow some thousand years before was a part of Germany. Henry used his intelligence, sense of survival, strong belief in hope, and connections with important friends he was able to survive those many years of living hell. His escape and how he made his way to the United States is fascinating and demonstates his strength of character.

From reading the history and learning about the geography of Poland I came to a better understanding of how World War II and the holocaust came to be a part of world history. Briefly, it is completely surrounded by Russia, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Lithuania. The kingdom of Poland was founded in 1025 and had converted to Christianity. In the 16th Century it established an elective monarchy and guaranteed religious freedom. In the ensuing years its borders had been invaded time and time again. With each invasion, its borders were changed.

I appreciated how the author included her own experiences when she visited Poland and saw the places of which Henry spoke. She was deeply affected when she visited Aushwitz. By including photographs and documents the author added credibility and more interest in the life of Henry.

The friendship that developed between Henry and Ms. Shawver was touching and beautiful.

"Henry was a champion, not only of swimming, but of survival. His unique narrative told by Shawver, is a gift to us all." (Ann G.)

"It is hard to put down, and will make you think. I found it comforting to think that such a good man existed and survived in such incomprehensible circumstances.
Highly recommended." (Janet)

"This is a most fascinating read about the life of Henry Zguda, who was a champion swimmer in Poland. The author tape recorded her many interviews of Henry, researched to verify facts, visited and saw places in Poland of which he spoke, and included photographs. The tumultuous history of Poland and its unique political position made it a target for such countries as Russia and Germany to invade. It was difficult to read about Henry's years in two concentration camps because the reality of those places were so well described.
A must read for everyone. It is historical, biographical, interesting, and well written." (Karen Ingalls)

Twitter: @KatrinaShawver

Wednesday, July 4, 2018


Here in the United States we are celebrating Independence Day, the 4th of July. Every country has a rich, interesting, sometimes volatile history and there are incredible books for us to read, enjoy, and learn. This is but a short list. What are your favorite history books?

My top six list of well written and informative history books are the following:


Henry by Katrina Shawver. It is based on the true story of Henry Zwag and his life growing up in Poland and eventually settling in the United States.


1776 by David McCullough. A historical account of events and prominent people involved in the American Revolution.



Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown. An Indian history of the American West.


War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. A history of Russia from the time of France's invasion and Napoleon Bonaparte's influence on the time of tsars.


The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. The writings of Anne Frank.


The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan. History of the world on an epic scale and the birth of civilization.



Saturday, June 23, 2018


I have probably read several thousands of books in my lifetime, but there are some that have left a lasting impression on me. I have either learned powerful lessons or been inspired by them. Here are just a few.

One such book is Desiree by AnneMarie Selinko. It tells the story of Bonaparte Napoleon's first love, Desiree Clary. Though they never married, they impacted each others lives. She falls in love with and marries Napoleon's general Jean Baptiste Jules Bernadotte, who later became Charles XIV, King of Sweden and Norway. Upon his death, Desiree became the ruling monarch.

What did I learn?
      It is a beautiful love story based on historical fact. Desiree proves that a woman from even a middle-class family, can rise to greatness. She proved that she could overcome her lack of self-esteem and be the Queen Consort with dignity and earned respect.

It is still available on Amazon:ésirée-Bestselling-Story-Napoleons-First/dp/1402244029/ref=sr

In his book Reverence for Life, Albert Schweitzer shares about his life in Africa and his philosophy "that we can establish a spiritual and humane relationship with both people and all living creatures within our reach."

    It is a short book from which I learned that I wanted to adapt his reverence for life. 

Available on Amazon at

Who cannot love and admire Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbirdwho defends a black man of a crime he has been falsely accused? Atticus is also the ideal father any child would want to have. It is a moving story with powerful characters and a storyline that raises awareness.

     This book impacted me in many ways. One is the injustice to black people. I have never understood or believed in racism of any kind, and that this book reinforced it. I learned that kids will be kids and their imaginations can sometimes get them in trouble. I also gained a sense of justice that sometimes gets lost. And, at an early age, I knew what kind of a father I wanted for my kids.

Available on Amazon at

Wednesday, June 20, 2018


It is my pleasure to welcome Lizzie Chantree to my blog today. Lizzie is an accomplished and award-winning author and a member of Rave Reviews Book Club. Look for her official launch date, July 6.

                                 IF YOU LOVE ME, I'M YOURS



Maud didn't mind being boring, not really. She had a sensible job, clothes, and a love life...if you counted an overbearing ex who had thanked her, rolled over and was snoring before she even realised he'd begun!

Dot should have fit in with her flamboyant and slightly eccentric family of talented artists, but somehow, she was an anomaly who couldn't paint.

Nate, a smoulderingly sexy and famous artist, was adored by everyone. His creative talent left them in awe of his ability to capture such passion on canvas.

The revelation of who the prodigious artist was interlinked in Maud, Dot, and Nate's lives forever, but their worlds came crashing down.


     4 stars:
      Another wonderful romantic drama from author Lizzie Chantree set among the vibrant art world. Maud and Dot come from opposite parenting spectrums but both have been stifled from being who they really are until a chance meeting. Maud’s secret passion for art causes all sorts of dilemmas when she meets Dot’s famous artist brother Nate. With lashings of wine and drunken mishaps this romance story is filled with plenty of humour and colourful artsy characters. The ending is an absolute perfect gem for those with a romantic heart.


1. It took 8 months to write, edit, and have "If You Love Me, I'm Yours" ready for publication.

                That is an amazing accomplishment...congratulations, Lizzie/

2. "If You Love Me, I'm Yours" is about an eccentric family of famous artists. Lizzie grew up withing a very creative family of entrepreneurs. Although they are not famous, they are all wonderfully bonkers and very supportive of her writing.

                 Lizzie has been a named Fair Plays London's Innovators!
                          She invented Runaway Spray for hosiery.

3. Much of this book was written in cafes, where Lizzie ate a lot of cake and used the excuse that she was working very hard and that the view of the sea was intrinsic to her story. The book is set in a town!

                 I have used the same excuse to go to my favorite coffee shop!

Social media links:

Universal book buy link:

Author Bio:

Award-winning inventor and author, Lizzie Chantree, started her own business at the age of 18 and became one of Fair Play London and The Patent Office’s British Female Inventors of the Year in 2000. She discovered her love of writing fiction when her children were little and now runs networking hours on social media, where creative businesses, writers, photographers and designers can offer advice and support to each other. She lives with her family on the coast in Essex. Visit her website at or follow her on Twitter @Lizzie_Chantree