Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Sneaky peek at interview with Don Mayhew



My next author interview is with Don Mayhew and, in a real coup, I get to meet his doggie detective protagonists too, the funny Roscoe and Muldoon 🎉🐶

Writing for middle-grade children, 'Roscoe & Muldoon: The Mayor Is Mad' is Don's first book and we discuss how using dogs as lead characters has its challenges and much more. You're in for a real treat!

The interview will go live on the 1st September but you can learn more about Don and his work here:

Amazon UK:
Amazon US:

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Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Author interview with J. E. Andrews/ S. Hawk

This week I’m interviewing an amazingly creative author John E. Andrews who writes under the names of J. E. Andrews (for his family books) and S. Hawk (for his mature books). So let’s meet him:

‘I've always been hooked on books, so writing was a natural next step. My most important project came with raising 2 daughters by myself, through that I learned a lot about me and people. They turned out nicely, since they were mostly self-propelled.

I've always been creative, with everything I do. I've been a Florist, Carpenter, Scene Shop Tech in a big Theatre, Grocery store, and now retired... though never 'retired' from being a dad. I use all the experiences and observations from a full life to create the character driven stories I write.’

He sounds very busy, no wonder he’s managed to indie publish 26 novels and 1 novella in 11 years! He’s created a tweetable introduction for you below (tweet here):

‘For character driven stories of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Contemporary Paranormal, with more than a touch of the unique, check out ‘S.Hawk’ for Mature, or ‘J.E.Andrews’ for Family.

Before we started chatting about his writing, I had to ask about his twitter handle ‘Neverborg1’ -does it have roots in Star Trek?

‘First –thanks, I did put some thought into my handle, though not in the direction you think. When I first joined Twitter (which will always be Twitter) I was doing it more to tune in to the political talk, back in the 2016 US election cycle. 

My avatar image (right) is James Stewart from the movie – Mr. Smith Goes To Washington. It was a political movie about the corruption in government and how frustrating it was for an honest politician to face that and try to maintain his integrity... while trying to get something done for his constituents. A good movie. So, that image, which I hoped would be recognized and portray my leanings in the political realm. 

The name Neverborg1 was to state that I oppose the Conglomerate Mind – the Hive Mind of being obedient to the Machine. I believe in the individual and the rights of all people to be themselves... recognizing the Borg as being the greatest evil while appearing to be inevitable. Resistance is Futile. AI will take over everything. So, that's the origin of the handle.’

Gosh, I wasn’t expecting that answer! And in case you’ve not met Borg before, they’re scary baddies who inject nanoprobes into individuals so they lose free will and become Hive workers – or as I like to think of them, bad dudes! Before we move onto his writing, my final indulgence is to ask which is his favourite Captain?

‘I'm old enough to say I watched the original episodes on TV, so I like William Shatner and enjoyed the show from the first. I liked Janeway, and the Voyager series. I also enjoy Picard (in fact, Patrick Stewart in all roles - The Canterville Ghost was fun), Scott Bakula in the Enterprise series and Chris Pine in the recent movies.
Leonard Nimoy was always my favourite. I used to practice the hand-sign and raised eyebrow.  (I know, cool).’

I’m sorry, I’m giggling at this, but I suspect many of us have done the same! John continues,

‘I love Science Fiction overall, so I also loved the Star Wars movies, along with all decent SF movies through the years. (Blade Runner, 2001 a Space Odyssey, Logan's Run, Planet of the Apes –original, The Black Hole, so many).

I'm not much of a fanboy, I read too much to be hooked on movies or TV. I've read in every genre but for romance, I get hooked on particular writers and read all their stuff until something else catches my attention (or if they get predictable LOL).’

It’s one thing to read a lot, but quite another to write, so what inspired him to take that leap?

‘I was often sad when a book ended, having to wait a year for next book, so I started writing my own. My imagination keeps me going. I've got books I've written 40 years ago that'll never be published because of the ones I'm starting in these days... imagination never ends.’

Too true! What does he enjoy the most about writing?

‘Creating the worlds and developing the characters. Most of my stories are character driven or character studies, each in their own particular world. Which is why SF*, F*, and contemporary with some paranormal thrown in is most fun.’
*(SF- Science Fiction, F – Fantasy)

Does he have a daily writing routine?

‘It's rather random according to mood and what phase of a story I'm on. Yesterday I was editing and I worked from 10am until 1am the next morning with lunch/ dinner breaks. I don't have a standard time, though I try to write 8pm until 1-ish every day.’

So, a real night bird then! What has been the hardest part of his writing experience?

‘Deciding which story to work on. I might have a dozen books going steadily yet must choose which one to focus on (and when uncertain, I use dice).’

I’m sorry, a dice? I need to know more!

‘LOL. I have 3 dice – a 6-side, and two 12-side gamer's dice, in a clear jar. The only time I really turn to them is when I've hit a wall with whatever I was working on. Usually this means I know what I need to write to continue a story I'm working on, but it must work in the context of the story. For instance, in my book Dragon's Magic, I had to figure a way for my MC (main character), a witch, to kill Dragons. Seeing as how the Dragons are nearly immortal, it was a tough problem. It took me nearly 5 years to solve that in a way consistent with the elements of the series of 9 books. I wrote other books as I dealt with that problem.

So, when I hit the wall, I'll roll the dice to choose one of my WIPs (work in progress), unless I'm already drawn to one. (I rarely need the dice, it's a safety net, so I don't waste time). My WIP list is only at 30 stories but there are many more files of potential books in my computer.

When I do roll, I will stick with the choice and work on it, either until I finish the book, the section... or get caught by a really LOUD new idea. 

My problem with all the WIPs is that I know all the stories, but they are all fun to work on. Also, stories evolve. Like the 9-book series mentioned above, I knew the entire story arc as soon as I created the first character. But, by the time I wrote book 5, developing the Stories of the Characters, I had to go back to the first couple of books to elaborate details I'd only hinted at previously. 

I sometimes think of my books like the social evolution equation in Foundation which expands in all direction as details are known. (I read the series by Isaac Asimov back in the 70s).’

I admit, I had to google this and now I’ll have to learn more as it sounds fascinating! So, what does he consider the best money he’s ever spent as a writer?

‘I'm a little bit of an artist, so I did my own covers for the first batch of books, a fantasy series. I'm not a computer artist but freehand, so my art never translated well to digital. So, hiring an artist for the covers has proven beneficial. It's one initial outlay I wish I could've afforded then.’

And what does he find the most difficult thing about writing characters who are very different from him?

‘The voice (how the character presents her/himself) is it. I try to make each an individual, so once the character clicks for me, I'm good. A trilogy I'm working on has such a distinct MC that I reread the story to get the feel of her each time I work on it.’ 

I find this fascinating, as writing in so many genres and series surely must entail some rereading of previous notes or manuscripts? If so, how does he manage all this data? 

‘You're right. I believe most of my MCs have strong individual voices, so I do reread all I'd written. There is a lot that goes into creating the voice of the character, it's not only the actual dialogue, but actions, intentions, purpose... all of it, how they observe the world around them. I try very hard to have identifiable voices for each character so the reader can hear the features I'm aiming at. I have to be both subtle and blatant... you know, doing the impossible LOL. It's especially difficult when there are a dozen (or so) characters in a book, such as my SF series SeaScape, which has three Main Characters with Mates, Children, and Crew... everyone is different.

As far as managing the data, rereading is one primary part, but I think a large part is keeping each of my characters alive and growing in my head. I can set a story aside for a year or two and bring it back to life after reading a bit.’

Wow, that’s amazing! Does he read reviews of his books and how does he deal with them?

‘I definitely do not seek out reviews. I first published at Amazon and never received reviews. Publishing at Draft2Digital meant I got notified of reviews, so I checked them out. I also receive some direct communication with mutuals who have read some of my stuff. There’s also face-to-face talks with friends/readers but I don't think reviews should influence my writing, unless everyone hated them. I have to please myself, and I'm very critical and picky.   

This question of readers giving feedback was tweeted about recently, and I do wonder about it. A reader has no obligation to the writer to give feedback. It's only in this age of personal social media where everyone expects a two-way conversation on opinions. 

When I first considered being a writer (this was pre-computer, to say nothing of pre-internet) it could take a genre author ten years to make a name - cut that in half if you get a big-name publisher -but there was no instant feedback for a novel... everything took time. Now, everything is supposed to happen in a week, or less.’

Too true! So which of his books should readers try first?

‘For fantasy, Too Much Magic – book 1 of a 9-book urban series. For SF, Sea's Dance – book 1 in the series. For my Mature books, Buried Draughts –book 1 of 3. For a conspiracy thriller with sex and ghosts, Pet- book 1 of series. (As an aside –although labelled  ‘Adult’, they do not rank as Porn – this disappoints some people!).’

Gosh, plenty of choice for readers then! Can he give us an extract from one?

‘Notice on pin board
Female pet wanted? Whaaa?
Petite, attractive, twenty to thirty years old. Full time. Limited.
This was funny.
Couldn't be what I'm thinking…
What did limited mean? Pet?’

That had me laughing! Which book is this from?

‘LOL – it’s from PET. This is where the MC, Emily, needing to find a job, first steps foot into a mysterious side of this renewed civilization. It's really something of an SF storyline, with alternate reality mixed in. It's kind of Post- Post Apocalyptic. 

The world is meant to be a perfect world/ civilization, where everyone can be the Best of who they are meant to be. This is book 1 of a 6-book series, book 6 is being written as we speak. The difficulty is wrapping it up, tying all the loose ends in a manner I'll be satisfied with. 

Interesting thing with this book Pet... listing a book as Adult, or Mature, only allows one category, so they all look the same intensity, unless you read the sample or blurb. So, people looking at the title Pet, as an Adult book, automatically think it's something about kink... usually thinking its instant, deep, pornographic kink. Except all of my books are character driven, and porn is not really like that. It does have kink, sensuality, and stuff, but there's a lot more to it than a simple porn story. So... when there's a sale on the site, I can watch when copies of Pet get sold... which is great... but then I'll see Pet2, Pet3... all 5 sell... This tells me there are people enjoying the Story, the Tale, rather than the titillation of the story. While I might sell 10 or 15 copies of Pet, I'll only sell 1 or 2 of Pet2. Usually these people buy most of the books I list. I find it amusing.’

Honestly, you learn something new every day! I ended the interview asking what’s next for him?

‘Top of the list is book 6 of my Pet series to wrap it (it's complicated), but there’s also book 3 of Beck series, book 1 of The Vessel, book 5 of SeaScape SF series, book 2 of Alice of MW series, I have a list, and I never know what new idea I might get later today which might start something else. I simply write. Oh, I do have a Steampunk trilogy which is nearly finished, too.’

Jeez, I don’t know about you but I find his enthusiasm exhausting – I need a cuppa and a lie down! If you’d like to find out more about John, please visit his links below and help support this creative author:

Also available on Amazon

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Saturday, August 12, 2023

Sneaky peeky at interview with J. E. Andrews/ S. Hawk

 My next author interview is with an amazingly creative author John E. Andrews who writes under the pen names of J. E. Andrews (for his family books) and S. Hawk (for his mature books). His photo's above but he has an author avatar to differentiate his work and he just bounds with endless energy!

He's indie published 26 novels and 1 novella in 11 years and has been a Florist, Carpenter, Scene Shop Tech in a big Theatre, Grocery store... now he's 'retired', he can focus on writing in his chosen genres - Science Fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal, Mature Science Fiction, Mature Paranormal, Mature Fantasy... experimental!

Our interview will go live on the 15th August but if you'd like to find out more about him, please visit his links below:


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Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Author interview with Kelly Miller / Book review 'The Darcy Secret'


This month's book review and author interview is with award-winning author Kelly Miller. She’s written seven books to date, her first in 2019, and she’s indie / hybrid published. So, let’s meet Kelly:

‘I am a native Californian and Anglophile and made my first visit to England in 2019. When I’m not pondering a plot point or a turn of phrase, I can be found playing the piano, singing, or walking my dogs. I reside in Silicon Valley with my husband and our pets.’

And here’s a tweetable for you (tweet here):

‘”Ms. Miller is quite skilled at recreating this Regency-era world under different scenarios”

I asked for more information about her books:

‘I write Austenesque Regency romances. One of them, “Death Takes a Holiday at Pemberley,” is a paranormal romance. A couple of them, “Accusing Mr. Darcy,” and “The Darcy Secret,” are blends of mystery and romance.’

I was privileged to read The Darcy Secret and my review’s below (spoiler, it’s fab!), but is it part of a series?

‘All of my books are standalone. It’s my latest release and an Amazon #1 Best Seller.’ Wow! That’s impressive! She continues, ‘“The Darcy Secret” is a romantic and suspenseful variation of Jane Austen’s “Pride & Prejudice.”’

What inspired her to write this book?

‘Since childhood, I have been a fan of mystery and suspense, so I wove these elements into the plot of this Regency romance.’

But how does she reimagine such a well-known story?

‘My stories start with an idea. For "Death Takes a Holiday at Pemberley," I thought about writing an old-fashioned fantasy in which Darcy and Elizabeth as a married couple deal with an angel of death. I loved the classic movie, "Death Takes a Holiday," and used the title, along with plot points from that story and from a few other classic movies like "The Bishop's Wife" and "Heaven Can Wait."’

I can see that most of her books are inspired by Pride and Prejudice (great choice!) so when did she first read it and was it an instant favourite?

‘It is rather embarrassing, but I did not read "Pride and Prejudice" until just before I started writing, around 2017 or so. And until I read it, I did not understand all the fuss over Jane Austen. However, I did see the 1995 miniseries of "Pride and Prejudice," and it, or more precisely, Colin Firth, made a big impression upon me!’  

Oh yes, he made an impression on me too! Talking of which, does she enjoy Austen’s work being dramatised?

‘I liked the 2006 film of "Pride and Prejudice" but did not love it. It has silly things in it, like Darcy entering Elizabeth's bedroom to give her a letter or Elizabeth choosing to walk alone from Pemberley to Lambton when she did not know the area. I thought Greer Garson in the 1940 version was too old for the part of Elizabeth. The 1995 "Persuasion" is very well done as is the aforementioned 1995 miniseries of "Pride & Prejudice."’

And as a native Californian, how has she managed to make the language sound so authentic – both in its British feel, as well as the historical accuracy?

‘In my books, I have attempted to restrict myself to words/terms that would have been used in Regency England, and I have benefitted from experienced and knowledgeable editors. But in "The Darcy Secret," I worked for the first time with editor Jo Abbott, who has the advantage of being a UK native.’

It certainly shows, I wouldn’t know where to begin (and I’m English!). I suspect a lot of research goes into her work, so how does she go about finding period information and how important is it to be historically accurate?

‘The Internet is my first resource, and I have found books and other resources online. For instance, all of Jane Austen's books are available to read for free. I have a few other books at home on Regency era topics like clothing and lifestyle. I want to be as historically accurate as possible.’

That’s admirable! I can’t help but wonder how she manages all the information she’s collected though. Is she the Queen of spread sheets, or owns copious paper files, or something else?

‘One of my editors had started a file of common words not used in Regency, and even gave me a copy. But I have found that it is just as easy to check Etymology Online Dictionary or do a quick search for other subjects as I write/edit. I remember many of the words I cannot use (like mesmerize or hello) so I do not need to look them up.’

There’s a great tip for any historical writer! What does Kelly most enjoy about writing?

‘I enjoy the challenge of putting a complete story arc together; it is a bit like completing a puzzle. Restricting myself to Regency era words, phrases, and customs adds to the difficulty in editing my manuscripts, but I think it is worth the effort.’

And what does she find the hardest part?

‘It can be difficult for me to stop editing a manuscript and resist the urge to keep looking for ways to improve it.’

Oh, that internal critique can be a taskmaster! Does she read reviews of her books and how does she deal with them?

‘Yes, I read my reviews. It is gratifying to read the positive ones, and I try not to allow the negatives ones to bother me; after all, no author can please everyone.’

Very true! So, I can guess the answer to this one, but what is her favourite novel?

‘Since most of my books are based upon “Pride and Prejudice,” I must choose it. Ms. Austen filled this masterpiece with delightful prose and created unforgettable characters. The novel’s popularity has persisted for two centuries and seems to get stronger as time goes by.’

As she mentioned visiting England, I wondered if Austen settings were high on the list of places to see and where she managed to visit?

‘We began in Bath and walked all over that delightful city. We visited Jane Austen Centre, the Roman Baths, and several museums. We had a lovely day in Derbyshire where a guide took us to locations I used in my romance/mystery, "Accusing Mr. Darcy," including Chatsworth House, Pool's Cavern, Bakewell, and Tideswell. Then we spent five days in London. Among other places, we went to The Tower of London, the British Museum, and saw a performance of "Austentatious" in Covent Garden. I absolutely loved every part of the trip.’

That sounds a very busy holiday! Before moving onto my book review, I asked Kelly for a tweetable synopsis (tweet here):

‘“Unique and captivating”

"The Darcy Secret," a #Suspenseful #PrideandPrejudice #Regency #Romance! On #KindleUnlimited!

And a tweetable extract too (tweet here):

‘A glimmer of hope bloomed within me, but my doubts persevered. “You must feel differently towards me now. My family, my name, my blood—it is all…tainted.”

“The Darcy Secret”’

I ended our interview asking if there’s anything she’d like to say to you, her readers?

‘Thank you so much for reading my work!’

How lovely – such a special and talented lady – and now to her book.


This is the first of Kelly’s work I’ve read and it makes me realise how much fun can be had by taking a beloved classic like Pride and Prejudice and giving it a new twist – I wish I’d thought of it!

We begin with some backstory about the dreaded ‘Darcy Secret’. George Darcy (Fitzwilliam’s father) is dying and decides not to tell his son and daughter (Georgiana) about the family secret, instead entrusting it to a confidante and asking it be disclosed at the right time.

Fast forward six years and Fitzwilliam pops the question (yes, we see it!) and Elizabeth says yes (or, more exactingly, ‘I thank you for your offer, and I am happy to accept it.’ – lovely!).  Darcy heads to London to tell his family the news and although it’s well-received, he’s finally told the disturbing family secret and it knocks him sideways. It poses so many worrying questions - will the secret medical condition be hereditary? How will this impact Elizabeth? Will she call-off the engagement? And what about children…?

It’s not a surprise that he doesn’t handle the news well but (SPOILER ALERT) Elizabeth is strong and the marriage goes ahead, but this isn’t where our tale ends. Kelly has more interesting storylines up her sleeve, but I’m not going to spoil it by revealing any more, even though I want to!

It’s faster-paced than I was expecting and told through several first-person viewpoints. The use of language, particularly dialogue, sounded very authentic to me - not that I was around then you understand, but I am English and can’t begin to imagine how anyone, let alone a non-UK native, can achieve such a feat!

It’s a suspenseful romantic novel, with a mystery to be solved and problems to be overcome, all wrapped up in a period drama that seems very well researched. It’s a great concept, well delivered, and it took me to places I wasn’t expecting which I thoroughly enjoyed. If you like Jane Austen or similar authors, then pick up a copy of ‘The Darcy Secret’. It’s one I’ll certainly remember.

To find out more about the author, please follow her links below:




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