Saturday, 30 October 2010

International Book Giveaway Winner

After visiting a short while ago, I am delighted that I can now announce that the winner of the copy of E.J. Stevens book 'She Smells the Dead' is, (drum roll!):


Congratulations to Lori who is the winner of this International book giveaway! If the winner sends me their postal details, I'll forward this to E.J, who will then organise the delivery of your prize.
My e-mail address is:
Winners have seven days to claim their prize. If this is not done then a re-draw will take place.

Thank-you to everyone who entered this particular book draw and left wonderful comments. Thank-you also to E.J. Stevens for her interview and for visiting The Secret Writer blog!

A Chance Meeting that I'll not Forget

'No Half Measures'
By Marilyn Lamont

Choice Publishing and Book Services. Ireland.2008
ISBN No: 978 1 905451 78 4

Well another weekend has arrived! Quite a few of us have probably been looking forward all week to this particular time, so that we can get a break from the Monday to Friday job, catch up with some chores around home and possibly have a glass or two of wine or a beer on Friday or Saturday evening!

I purposefully tend not to talk about my personal or professional life on this blog, but I have mentioned in the past on a certain book site forum, that my full time ‘day job’ is in the field of mental healthcare. This can be particularly demanding work and so I like to get a bit of a rest from it all when I’m off duty, so naturally I do not talk much about it when I’m chilling out with such a relaxing diversion as my blog!

This week as part of my professional development, I attended a Mental Health Nursing Conference, which turned out to be a very interesting and thought provoking day for me. I like to attend events like this now and again, as I feel my ‘batteries get re-charged’ when listening to speakers talk about the positive developments that they have either introduced, or are working on, within the ever changing field of healthcare.

After the first couple of speakers had delivered their enlightening presentations, the conference then broke for morning coffee. As I left the conference room and started to walk downstairs to where the coffee was being served, I noticed a woman sitting behind a table in the corridor that was in front of me, as the flight steps I was coming down came to an end. The books on the table in front of her were all the same. Immediately it sprung to mind that this could be an author who was trying to promote her book, but at the same time I was thinking that you usually do not see authors promoting their books at mental health conferences!

I must say that curiosity got the better of me being a book lover, and so I went over to the table and lifted one of the books to see what it was all about! Before I could start reading the synopsis on the back of the book, the lady behind the table began to talk to me and to tell me about her story. This lady was the author of this particular book (I was spot on with my first assumption when I first saw her sitting behind the table of books!) and her name was Marilyn.

I only had a short period of time to talk to Marilyn, but she was a fascinating person to converse with. From speaking to her, you could tell straight away that she was a very natural story teller and yet, when reading her story within her book, she did not like school, left school before she was really was supposed to, and had no formal training in writing, never mind writing a novel! But Marilyn had a story to tell about her life. Marilyn told me that her father encouraged her to tell her story and this she has done within her book.

Marilyn was born in 1954 in Greenock, an industrial town on the West coast of Scotland. She lived in a lovely bright house in the centre of the town. It was initially a happy house filled with music, laughter and love. As Marilyn grew up, she became involved in show business and modelling. Photographs of her appeared quite regularly in quite a few of the well known tabloids at that time and she also had a record produced as she was quite a good singer as well(these existed before music CD's). Marilyn went on to tell me, that her book tells the story about her two lives, or chapters, in her ‘one lifetime’.

As the title of her book suggests, ‘No Half Measures’, when she was younger Marilyn was too busy having a ‘good time’ partying, too busy drinking and too busy becoming an alcoholic. The first part of this book tells the story of Marilyn’s childhood, adolescence and early adulthood. There are no punches spared in this particular story. As Marilyn states in the synopsis of her book, there were good times, bad times, happy times and sad times. Quite quickly Marilyn’s life hit rock bottom through the results of her drinking. She told me that towards the end, when she had hit rock bottom, all that was left in her house was empty boxes to sit on and empty bottles!

The first chapter within Marilyn’s book is much longer that the second chapter, but as Marilyn told me she could have filled a book with enough ‘life story’ to make ‘War and Peace’ seem like a pocket book! The second chapter of Marilyn’s book describes her new found life without alcohol. Marilyn has thankfully experienced sobriety since 1985.

Marilyn explained to me that when she was at her ‘rock bottom’, she actually felt that life was not worth living and had attempted suicide. The message Marilyn was now trying to broadcast through her verbal story to me and others and through her book, was that if she could recover from the depths of her problems with alcohol, anyone can and that there is no such thing, as a ‘Hopeless Case’.

I bought a copy of Marilyn’s book which she signed for me, and I have read it. This book is the very interesting and straight forward tale of Marilyn’s life and the detrimental effects alcohol has had on it from her early years. Surprisingly there is no hard preaching about the dangers of alcohol within this tale, just Marilyn's story which I think is enough. The story is sad, horrific in places and yet in other sections of the story there is laughter and humour. This story has not been written by a famous author or a writer who has undertaken a degree in the craft. It is a true well told story written by a very brave lady who has encountered horrific life experiences that not many of us could even start to imagine.

If you visit the Amazon website you will find Marilyn’s book listed there. Her book was first written in 2004 and eventually printed in 2008. It states on the Amazon site that there are currently no copies of this book in stock. Marilyn had quite a few copies of her book sitting on the table in front of her the day I met her, so I dare say if Amazon get a number of orders for this particular book, copies will quickly appear back into their stock again.

The author that I met at this particular Conference was an individual who had really hit rock bottom in her life and yet had managed to climb back up again. Marilyn is now telling her life story to others in a way that may provide hope to others who may find themselves in the same situation as she had previously been in. Marilyn's parting message to me that day was,  if she could find a path to recovery from alcohol anyone can.

By writing this particular post I hope that I can help Marilyn spread her personal story a bit further afield. This is a human story that needs to be read by everyone. After reading Marilyn’s story it might also make one reflect upon that drink or two that some of us may tend to so look forward to on a Friday or Saturday and query the idea about alcohol being as good for us as we might have initially thought?

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Poetry Society's National Poetry Competition

Deadline Approaches for National Poetry Competition

The deadline for the Poetry Society’s National Poetry Competition, one of the world’s biggest and most prestigious poetry competitions, is fast approaching.This year’s judges SinĂ©ad Morrissey, Deryn Rees-Jones and George Szirtes are standing by, waiting to read poems submitted to the National Poetry Competition.

Entrants have until 31 October to send in their entries.Now in its 33rd year, the Poetry Society’s National Poetry Competition is one of the world’s biggest and most prestigious poetry competitions. Winners include both established and emerging poets and for many the prize has proved an importantmilestone in their professional careers. Carol Ann Duffy, Ian Duhig, Philip Gross, and Jo Shapcott have all won in the past.

As well as receiving a monetary prize, winners have their work published in the Poetry Society’s leading international journal,Poetry Review.The prizes are: £5,000 for the overall winner, £2,000 for the second, £1,000 for the third. There are also seven commendations of £100.

Entrants can enter online or download an entry form at:

Friday, 22 October 2010

Author Interview and International Book Giveaway!

An Interview With Author E.J. Stevens

As Halloween is fast approaching, I think that it is only appropriate that we get into the atmosphere of this spiritual occasion by meeting and talking to a popular author of paranormal poetry and stories.Today I would like to welcome E.J. Stevens to my blog.

E.J. Stevens is the author of the haunting collection of dark poetry ‘From the Shadows’, the chilling collection of paranormal poetry ‘Shadows of Myth and Legend’, and newly released novel ‘She Smells the Dead’ the first book in the Spirit Guide young adult paranormal romance series. E.J. also manages the very popular paranormal blog, ‘From the Shadows’. E.J. is currently working on ‘Spirit Storm’, the second book in the Spirit Guide series, due to release early 2011.

This author is also a graduate of the University of Maine at Farmington with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. She has worked a variety of jobs that demonstrate the human condition including schools, psychiatric hospitals and shopping malls! E.J. currently resides in a magical forest on the coast of Maine where she finds daily inspiration for her writing.

TSR: A very warm welcome to you E.J., and a very big thank-you, for taking time out of your schedule to talk to us today.

E.J.’s answer: Thank you for having me here today at The Secret Writer!

TSR: What can you remember as the happiest memories from your childhood?

E.J’s answer: My happiest childhood memories are of stormy nights, when the power was out, telling terrifying tales with my family by candlelight.

TSR: What sort of books did you read when you were in your teens and what do you remember as your favourite book of that time?

E.J’s answer: I have always had a love of fantasy and gothic fiction. During my teen years I was still enraptured by the writings of E.A. Poe though I also began reading more science fiction and recall ‘Neuromancer’ by William Gibson being a favourite of the time.

TSR: Have you always lived in Maine?

E.J.’s answer: I have travelled to many places around the world. I love to travel, but always come home to Maine. I love the beautiful rocky coastline and magical forests. I am also in close proximity to Boston and not terribly far from New York City.

TSR: Why did you choose to study psychology at University?

E.J.’s answer: I have always been interested in the workings of the human mind and intrigued by human nature. Studying psychology gave me a fabulous foundation of knowledge on which to build as a writer and great insight into character motivation.

TSR: Do you still work in a ‘day job’ as I would call it, or do you write full time now?

E.J.’s answer: I write full time and am currently working on Spirit Storm, the second book in the Spirit Guide series.

TSR: When did you first set up your blog and why?

E.J.’s answer: I set up my blog, From the Shadows, in September of 2009 when I was promoting my collection of dark poetry of the same name. The blog quickly became a place where I could celebrate the paranormal books that I love and interact with other authors and readers with the same passion.

TSR: Did you always want to become a writer?

E.J.’s answer: I grew up in a family of prolific storytellers. My childhood was steeped in tales of supernatural horror and suspense. When I was very young I would join in and tell stories orally. Writing was a natural progression that has always been strongly encouraged and supported by my family and friends.

TSR: What made you decide to focus upon the paranormal genre of books on your blog and in your writing?

E.J.’s answer: I was raised on stories of faeries and goblins and really did believe there were bloodthirsty monsters hiding in the shadows. The myths of my childhood opened my mind to the possibility of magic in our everyday waking world. This belief in magic and monsters, and my massive childhood Edgar Allan Poe obsession, inspired much of my earlier writing and led to a love of paranormal literature. This love for paranormal literature can be seen in my writing and on my blog where I celebrate paranormal books and authors.

TSR: Do you have a set routine when you are working on a novel?

E.J.’s answer: Yes. There are certain key concepts that I will research before I begin full-time work on a novel. Once I am satisfied that I have the necessary information at hand, I will then begin work on the actual writing. When working on a novel I write each day. After a rough draft has been written I submit for beta reading and editing and the revision process begins. I much prefer actual writing over the later stages, but each step of the process is important.

TSR: Where do you do your writing best?

E.J’s answer: I am at my most creative when deep in the magic of the forest where I live with my corgi companion at my side and my writing implements at hand. There is that wondrous moment when, with an artist's eye, you find the perfect slant of sunlight through the trees, a cluster of mushrooms growing from a bed of lush green moss and you know that when you blur your eyes you will be able to see the wee folk and the shadow spirits dancing in the periphery. During inclement weather I retreat to my writing desk.

TSR: Have you any advice for those who want to start writing a book for the first time?

E.J.’s answer: My advice to any aspiring author is to write. Make time in your schedule to write even if you are very busy. No excuses. Write, write, write!

TSR: Do you have any other hobbies or interests that you enjoy?

E.J’s answer: Aside from reading I enjoy crocheting, belly dancing, and going on walking adventures with my corgi.

TSR: There is an air of mystery about your real identity and your public literary image, was this created on purpose or did it just develop?

E.J’s answer: An air of mystery? I do like the ring of that. Seriously though, if there is an air of mystery it developed naturally.

TSR: ‘What was your inspiration for writing ‘She Smells the Dead’?

E.J’s answer: The idea for She Smells the Dead originally came to me while walking past the overgrown graveyard beside my home. I was overwhelmed by a strong smell and suddenly wondered what it would be like to have a psychic connection with spirits of the dead that came in the form of smells, rather than sight or sound.

TSR: How did you think of and then develop the main character in your book, ‘She Smells the Dead’?

E.J.’s answer: The character of Yuki was originally based on myself at her age, but the things she must face during this series push her to grow and develop her own personality.

TSR: I love the cover of your book ‘She Smells the Dead’! Did you have a say in its design?

E.J’s answer: Yes, I did have some say in its design and am delighted to hear that you like it. The response to this cover has been amazingly positive.

TSR: Are you currently reading a book at the moment, and if so what is it?

E.J’s answer: I am currently reading ‘The Haunted’, the second book in The Hollow series, by Jessica Verday.

TSR: What is your all time favourite book and why?

E.J’s answer: That is a very difficult question! I have a great love for so many books, but the collected works of Edgar Allan Poe have a very special place in my heart.

TSR: Have you any other books in the making at the moment?

E.J’s answer: I am currently working on Spirit Storm, the second book in the Spirit Guide series, due to release in early 2011.

TSR: What simple things in life would make you smile?

EJ’s answer: Bird song in the morning, seeing the young deer that nibble from my orchard, and the bark of my corgi are all simple things that bring a smile to my face.

TSR: If you could meet one of your characters in real life, which character would you choose to meet?

E.J’s answer: I would love to spend the day with Simon. His roguish personality and good looks make him an easy choice and his usual reticence when it comes to revealing his true feelings is an intriguing challenge.

TSR: E.J. I am delighted that you agreed to be interviewed on my literary site. I really have enjoyed our interview! I would also like to thank-you again for taking the time out of your busy schedule to speak to us today, and for providing a copy of your book for our International book giveaway. Good luck with your future writing and I look forward to reading your new book when it is published next year.

E.J.’s answer: It has been my pleasure. Thank you for having me here at The Secret Writer!

TSR: Here are a number of web-links if anyone would like to find out more about E.J. Stevens and her writing:

E.J. Stevens’s blog:
 Official Spirit Guide Series website:
 Books by E.J. Stevens page:

International Book Giveaway!

E.J. has very kindly supplied one copy of her latest book 'She Smells the Dead' for this International book giveaway (giveaway limited to anywhere that The 'Book Depository' ships).

This giveaway will only be open to the 'Google Connect Followers' of my blog. You have to join this blog as a 'Google Connect Follower', in order to be able to post comments on this blog.

Post a comment to this author interview , between the 22nd October and 29th October 2010, to be entered into a draw for this book giveaway. Please include your e-mail address at the end of your comment, which hopefully should make things a bit easier for me to inform the winner!

The winner will be announced on this blog after the draw has taken place. The winner will be asked to send their postal details to me so that the book can then be shipped directly to them.

Good Luck!

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

'Movers and Shakers' - Author E.J.Stevens

'She Smells the Dead'
by E.J.Stevens

Sacred Oaks Press. August 2010
ISBN No: 978 0 9842475 2 1

Not only does E.J.Stevens write paranormal poetry, E.J. has now also written and published her first novel for Young Adults (YA) as well!  'She Smells the Dead' is the first book in E.J. Stevens new 'Spirit Guide Series'.This paranormal romance and supernatural mystery, tells the story of Vanessa Stennings, otherwise known as Yuki.

It's the beginning of senior year and Yuki's psychic awareness of ghostly spirits is threatening to ruin her life. Her ability to sense spirits of the dead isn't glamorous like the ghost hunting on television.

The smell impressions are becoming stronger. Yuki is being visited in her dreams, and she suspects that her friend Calvin is involved in something strange. To make matters worse her crush on Garrett is going unrequited, Yuki's friend Emma is on a rampage against bee oppression, and annoying Calvin Miller mysteriously disappears.

Will Yuki be able to focus her powers in time to save the lost soul who is haunting her? Meanwhile, who will save Yuki from following the spirits into the light?

This is a facinating read scattered with paranormal happenings, a touch of humour and of course some teenage romance! E.J. Stevens is already a popular author, who I am sure is heading upwards to greater things with her paranormal writing !

Monday, 18 October 2010

New Visiting Author and Paranormal Book Giveaway!

Paranormal author E.J. Stevens will be visiting this site on Saturday 23th October 2010.

There will also be an International Book Giveaway connected to E.J.'s interview for 'Google Followers' of this blog, so make sure you sign up as a follower, and visit this site on Saturday!

Happy reading!

Sunday, 17 October 2010

'Movers and Shakers' - Paranormal Poetry

'Shadows of Myth and Legend'
by E.J. Stevens

Sacred Oaks Press. March 2010
ISBN No: 978 0 9842475 1 6

I love poetry and so when I opened up this particular book for the first time and started reading, I quickly became captured by the imagery and depth that is so beautifully revealed within this amazing collection of paranormal poems written by E.J. Stevens.

This slim book is divided into four parts under the headings of Earth & Below; Air & Spirit; Fire & War and Water and Ice. The four headings acts as the structure within this book, around which 54 paranormal poems written by E.J. Stevens are presented.

Each poem found within this book recounts a vivid story which at times can be dark, haunting, disturbing and yet beautiful in its own individual way.

For lovers of paranormal writing and those who have not read anything from the paranormal genre before, this collection of poems is really worth obtaining and taking time to read.

It can be difficult to write a review on a collection of poems. In order to help me with this, E.J.Stevens has kindly given me permission to reproduce a poem from her collection here. Please leave a comment and let me know what you think about this particular poem. Enjoy!

Elven Bride

Clans and families gather

In this valley glade with pride

And await the appearance

Of the lovely Elven Bride

Elegance of the high born

Her beauty beyond reproach

Bare foot lightly touching moss

Exiting the bridal coach

Slender legs bring her forward

As all gathered weep and bow

Dancing gracefully forward

Ready for her wedding vow

Clad in a fluttering gown

Of red monarch butterflies

Setting off the sparkle of

Her shining emerald eyes

Alabaster skin gleaming

Her face luminous and pale

Beneath the shimmering threads

Of her spider woven veil

Wet dewdrop diamonds glisten

In her fiery orange hair

Morning sun climbs in the sky

To shine on our maiden fair.
Copyright: E.J.Stevens. 2010

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Childrens Books - Author Marita Conlon-McKenna

Author Marita Conlon-McKenna

Under the Hawthorn Tree
The O'Brien Press. Dublin. 2008
ISBN No: 978 0 86278 206 1

Wildflower Girl
The O'Brien Press. Dublin
ISBN No:978 0 86278 283 2
I know that quite a few of of those who visit this blog have children, so for a bit of a change from talking about adult books, I would like to introduce you to the fantastic children's author, Marita Conlon-McKenna.

Marita has become known as one of Ireland's most popular children's authors. Living in Dublin, Marita has written quite a number of bestselling children's books.

Marita's first book, 'Under the Hawthorn Tree', immediately became a bestseller and has been reprinted numerous times since it was first published in 1990. This historical fiction story is set in Ireland in the 1840's, when this country was devastated by famine. The story tells the tale of three children Eily, Michael and Peggy, who have to fend for themselves when tragedy strikes and they loose their parents. In danger of being sent to the workhouse and starving with hunger, the children escape in order to try and find their great-aunts, who they heard about in their mother's  stories. This story recounts the children's courageous journey and the strengths they had to possess in order to find their great-aunts.

In 1919 Marita then published a second book in her 'Children of the Famine' series called 'Wildflower Girl'.This story focuses on Peggy, who was seven when she made the journey to find her great-aunts with her brother and sister. Now thirteen, this book tells the story of how she sets off alone, across the Atlantic ocean to America.

The third book that Marita wrote in this very popular children's trilogy is called 'Fields of Home'. Back in Ireland Eily and her family struggle trying to make a living on a small farm, while Michael works at the Big House helping with the horses. At the same time in America, Peggy is being drawn towards the Wild West.

'Under the Hawthorn Tree' has won an International Reading Association Award, while in 1992, 'Wildflower Girl' won the Irish Children's Book Trust Book of the Year, in the Historical Novel Category.

Marita Conlon-McKenna's books have been reprinted many times since they were first published. You may find current editions of her books under a different printer than the editions which I have cited above.These books have been written for children within the age group of between 11-13 years of age. If you have not heard of this author and her books yet, I would strongly advise you to hunt out some of this author's work, and then let your children decide what they think of her stories!

Friday, 8 October 2010

International Book Giveaway Winner!

After visiting a short while ago, I am delighted that I can now announce that the winner of a signed copy of author Maria Savva's new book 'Second Chances' is (drum roll!):

Suzy Turner
Congratulations to Suzy who is the winner of this International book giveaway! If the winner sends me their postal details, I'll forward this to Maria, who will then post out your book. My e-mail address is:
Winners have seven days to claim their prize. If this is not done then a re-draw will take place.
Thank-you to everyone who entered this particular book draw and left wonderful comments. Thank-you also to Maria Savva for her interview, for visiting my blog and for her friendly and encouraging comments that she left for followers who commented on her interview. Maria I can safely say that your visit was very much appreciated by all!
For winners of the Trisha Ashley book draw, postal details have been sent to the publisher Avon Harper Collins, so hopefully it will not be too long until you receive your books!
Have a great day everyone!

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Movers and Shakers: Author Leigh Russell

'Author Leigh Russell'

                                      'Cut Short' : by Leigh Russell                                       
No Exit Press.2009
ISBN:978 1 84243 271 6


'Road Closed': by Leigh Russell
     No Exit Press. 2010
       ISBN: 978 1 84243 344 7

For those of you who enjoy reading crime fiction books, can I suggest that you watch out for a relatively new UK author Leigh Russell. I do not usually read crime thrillers, but last year something attracted me to search out and read Leigh Russell's debut novel 'Cut Short'. Leigh kindly sent me a copy of 'Cut Short' just after it was first published, and I must honestly say, that for a debut novel, I found this a very good read. Since being published last year, 'Cut Short' has already been reprinted three times! 'Cut Short' has also been shortlisted for the CWA New Blood Dagger Best First Crime Novel Award.

'Cut Short' by Leigh Russell, is the first in a series of books, where the central character for a change, within crime fiction, is a female Detective Inspector called Geraldine Steel. 'Cut Short' begins with DI Geraldine Steel, relocating home to a quiet rural village, where one would expect nothing much out of the normal to happen. In truth, without providing too many spoilers, this assumption is far from the reality of the situation. Geraldine Steel working with her police Murder Investigation Team, soon finds that she is on the case of tracking down a disturbed killer who is preying on local young women within the village area.

This story flows from start to finish. As a psychological thriller it is an easy and quick read which is difficult to put down once started. It also has a twist at the end to look out for!

I am just coming to the end of reading Leigh Russell's second book 'Road Closed', and I think that it's an even better read than 'Cut Short'! Again the compassionate and complex heroine, Detective Inspector Geraldine Steel, working with her police Murder Investigation Team, tries to solve a series of crimes that take on a terrible twist. I've seen a lot of positive reviews about this book already.

Leigh Russell is a secondary school English teacher, specialising in supporting pupils with Specific Learning Difficulties. She is married with two daughters and lives in Hertfordshire, England. Leigh only started to write seriously for publication about three years ago and now has recently completed her third book in this crime fiction series 'Dead End', which will be published next year. Leigh Russell is now working on her fourth book, the title of which, is still a closely guarded secret!

 If you are interested in finding out more about Leigh Russell and her writing success, you should visit her blog, which can be found at:

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Free Book for the 100th Follower!

Free Book for the 100th Follower!

Since yesterday I've watched the number of followers of my blog sit at ninety nine, and have been wondering who will join to be our one hundredth follower!

To encourage someone to click the site 'Google Follower' button, so that we can get past ninety nine and reach one hundred followers, I will send a free copy of Trisha Ashley's book 'Chocolate Wishes', to the one hundredth follower of this blog.

It's easy, just join as a follower of this site and leave a comment with your e-mail address on this post. The first one to do this will be the winner!