Friday, 31 December 2010

Happy New Year!

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2011 New Year's Smash!

2011 New Year's Smash -
 International Book Giveaway Draw 
and Blog Hop!

To welcome in the New Year, The Secret Writer Blog is  taking part in the '2011 New Year's Smash Blog Hop'! The links to the ther blogs that taking part in this Blog Hop, can be found towards the bottom of this webpage. There are more book draws and goodies to be found and won by visiting the other blogs that are taking part in this New Year's Hop!

On this site, I am offering one copy of the novel 'Brooklyn' by Colm Toibin to one lucky winner in a draw. All you have to do to enter, is to be a 'Google Connect Follower' of this blog, and leave a comment to this post with your e-mail address (so it makes things easier for me to contact the winner!). If you are not already a GC Follower of this blog,  you can easily join as a Follower, by clicking on the Google 'Follow' button above the box with all the pictures of those already following this blog with Google, towards the top of this page's left sidebar.

This draw is open to International entries. Entry to the draw will close at midnight on the 3rd January 2011(GMT). The winner will be announced as soon as possible after this date, and will be used to select the winner.

Can I wish everyone a very Happy New Year for 2011 and say good luck to all who enter the draw!

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Visiting Soon!

The author E.J. Stevens, will shortly be paying 'The Secret Writer Blog'  a second visit, in order  to talk to us about the latest book release in her Paranormal Spirit Guide Series, 'Spirit Storm'!  Keep visiting this site, so you do not miss out on this special feature!

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

The Nestor Maronski Case

News Update!!
 Recently I was able to post a news scoop interview on this web site, with one of the main suspects being sought in the investigation of the disappearance of the book critic Nestor Maronski. I highlighted in my post that this case was being followed closely by some of my colleagues, and if there were any further developments in relation to this high profile case I would let you know.

I am putting up this post for those who have an interest and are following this particular investigation, as I have just been informed a short while ago that another interview in relation to this particular intriguing case has been posted on the web. 

If you click on the following link it will take you directly to a new interview with Dar Templeton, one of the many Indie authors whose careers appear to have been destroyed by Nestor Maronski:
I have also been told by a very good 'underworld' contact, that Nestor Maronski has set up a facebook page and that people are friending him there!!! Has this been done by Maronski himself or by somebody else posing as him?  I have not had a chance to visit the actual facebook page to check this out myself, but I have been told that the page can be accessed by searching for Nestor Maronski on the facebook search bar!

For previous updates in relation to the Maronski investigation, please follow the links below:

Stay tuned to this web site for updates on Nestor Maronski’s whereabouts, as well as the release of an upcoming book detailing the events leading up to his disappearance, written by Jason McIntyre and Maria Savva. The latest word on the street at the moment is, that Nestor Maronski might be trying to organise a contract !!  :-O

Monday, 20 December 2010

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This is what it is like in quite a few parts of the UK at the moment! Snow, more snow and ice.  Where I am at the moment it is minus 18 degrees C tonight. It's the coldest it has ever been here on record, and don't we know it, Brrrr!! The only upside to all of this, is that it is great book reading weather. :-) Keep warm and safe everyone. Happy reading!

Winner of the Maria V Snyder International Book Giveaway!

The Winner!
I would like to say a great big thank-you to everyone who joined my blog as a follower or were already a follower and entered the draw and posted a comment, during this great event! Again I wish that I could send everyone who entered this draw a book, but within the rules, there was to be only one lucky winner! For those of you who have not won this time, there are plenty more giveaway draws to come. Please keep visiting this blog and entering the Giveaways. You never know your luck, you could be our next winner!

I visited earlier today and the winner of this draw is, drum roll!!!



I will contact the winner for their postal details. If I have not been able to make contact with the winner within 48 hours of this post, another winner will then be drawn. Thanks again to everyone who entered this draw and who follow my blog. Happy reading!

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Merry Christmas!

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Thank-you to the authors, writers, readers, followers and visitors to this site, who have made this blog as successful as it is. I have really enjoyed my first year as a 'blogger'. Thank-you again for all of your support!  I hope that next year will be just as successful for my blog as this year was!

I would like to wish everyone a very Happy Christmas, as well as a Happy and Peaceful New Year from me, to you!

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Winners of the Book Bloggers Holiday Bash Draw!

The Winners!
I would like to say a great big thank-you to everyone who joined my blog as a follower or were already a follower and entered this draw and posted a comment, during this fantastic blog hop event! I wish I could send everyone who entered the draw a book, but within in the rules for this draw, there were to be only three lucky winners!

I visited earlier today and the winners of this draw are, drum roll!!!!:

Lexigirl - wins the  copy of 'Never Let Me Go'
Ammy Belle - wins the copy of 'Ghost Town'
Jennifer Mathis - wins the copy of 'Twelve Days of Christmas'

Congratulations to the winners!

I will contact the winners for their postal details. If I have not been able to make contact with a winner within 48 hours of this post, another winner will then be drawn. Thanks again to everyone who entered this draw and who follow my blog. Happy reading!

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Maria V Snyder Interview and International Giveaway!

Author Interview and International Book Giveaway with Maria V Snyder

Maria V. Snyder earned an MA in Popular Fiction Writing from Seton Hill University. Her freelance articles appear in magazines and newspapers, and she enjoys teaching fiction writing classes at the local college. Maria is the very popular author of the 'Study' and Glass' fantasy fiction series.

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

MVS: You’re very welcome. Thank you for inviting me.

TSR: What sort of books did you read when you were a child and what was your favourite?

MVS: When I was very young, I read Dr. Seuss and Leo Lionni. My favourite book at that time was Fredrick, by Leo Lionni. I moved onto Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys mysteries, and then into Agatha Christie, Dick Francis and Ed McBain (all mystery writers).

TSR: Can you tell us a bit about where you live generally and why do you like living there?

MVS: I live in south-central Pennsylvania in the United States. After I graduated from Penn State University, I was hired in this area. I met my husband here, and we settled in the area. I like the change in seasons, and being close to my extended family.

TSR: What made you choose to study meteorology at University?

MVS: As a child, I was always fascinated with storms. When I learned about meteorology in sixth grade, I thought I might want to pursue that occupation. Plus not many adults at that time knew what a meteorologist was, and I was a brat, delighting in their ignorance and asking if they even knew what a hydrometeor was. Do you? Without looking it up? (I’m still a brat ;-)*.

TSR: When did you first start writing seriously?

MVS: Back in 1995 when I was home with my son. I only had a couple hours to myself, and I spent them working on my first novel, Poison Study.

TSR: Did you always want to become a writer and why?

MVS: No. I wanted to chase tornados and do research on severe storms. I only started writing when I was bored at work (shhh...don’t tell my former employer). I discovered I wasn’t very good at forecasting, so I worked as an environmental meteorologist for a consulting firm. With consulting, you’re either busy or bored. So I started writing short stories during the slow times. I really enjoyed it, so I kept writing.

TSR: What made you decide to focus upon the ‘fantasy’ genre in your writing?

MVS: I enjoyed reading fantasy and most of my story ideas are within the fantasy genre. I also write science fiction, which I also enjoy reading. Plus fantasy allows me to play more than science fiction. For example in Storm Glass, I had magicians called Stormdancers who can harvest the energy from deadly storms and bottle it in glass orbs. Not only does it render the storm harmless, but it creates an energy source for the world.

TSR: How do you decide the names for your characters when planning your stories?

MVS: Before I start a story, I look through a couple baby name books I have, and find names I like that have a special meaning, making a list of names. For example, Yelena means shining light. Since she starts her adventures in a dungeon awaiting execution in Poison Study, I liked how her name represents a glimmer of hope that she still had even when at the lowest point in her life. I wrote an article about Naming Characters on my website. Here’s the link if anyone is interested in reading more:

TSR: Do you use writing plans for the books that you write?

MVS: No. I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer (a.k.a. pantser ;-). I get an idea and have a general ending in mind, and I discover the rest of the story as I go. The fun part is when something unexpected happens, the scary part is I always spend the first half of a novel worried I won’t have enough plot for a full novel, and then spend the second half worried I have too much. You’d think after writing 8 books, I’d relax, but I don’t!

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

MVS: Yes. I write from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. every night and I can’t go to bed until I write at least 1,000 words. Some nights I can do 2,000 or more, yet other nights it’s a struggle to get those 1,000.

TSR: Where do you like to do your writing?

MVS: I have a home office and that works, unless I have too many non-writing things to do. Then I have to leave the house or go down in our recreation room where I can’t see the distractions. For example, I have three boxes of holiday cards on my desk that are waiting to be filled out and mailed. If I go downstairs, I can’t see them :-)

TSR: Would you have any sound advice for those who would like to start writing a book for the first time?

MVS: I have advice and tips on my website. From finding a critique group to how to find agents and publishers, there’s a good bit of information. Here’s a link for those who are interested:

Persistence is always my biggest piece of advice. I’d been writing for ten years and submitting for eight before I sold anything. Learn the craft of writing as well as the business of writing and attend writer’s conferences and classes if you can. Consider that time an apprenticeship. Be wary of predators, if someone is asking you for money proceed with the utmost caution. Get feedback on your stories from fellow writers before submitting. Joining a critique group is very helpful. I also find that if I let a story sit on my desk for a few weeks I can pick out all the problems, typos and inconsistencies easier. And I agree whole heartily with Stephen King’s advice in his book, On Writing. He wrote, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” And don’t give up! Ever!

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

MVS: I love playing volleyball, and play on two recreational teams. I also enjoy photography, and have been taking classes to learn more about the art and science of taking a good photo. Reading is, of course, a must, and I’ve been dabbling in making bead jewellery to feed my addiction with anything sparkly :-) Travelling is another enjoyment of mine.

TSR: ‘What was your inspiration for writing your ‘Study’ Series?

MVS: I was reading Orson Scott Card’s book, How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy. In chapter 3, Card tells the writer to consider some questions before choosing the main character. He wrote, “Too often—particularly in medieval fantasy—writers think their story must be about rulers. Kings and queens, dukes and duchesses—they can be extravagantly powerful, yes, but too often they aren’t free at all. If you understand the workings of power in human societies, you’ll know that the greatest freedom to act in unpredictable ways is usually found away from the centres of power.”

This comment led me to think about a person who was close enough to the centre of power to witness important events, yet not be the Prince or Princess. I thought about a food taster and a scene jumped into my mind. I saw a woman tasting food that was most likely poisoned through the eyes of the King. He watched her with heartbreaking horror because he had fallen in love with her. That led me to wonder about this woman. Who was she? Why was she there? Why would a King fall in love with her? And Poison Study was born.

TSR: How did you think of and then develop Opal’s character, in the Glass Series?

MVS: Opal’s character grew out of my need to find a close relative of Tula, one of the victims in Magic Study. She had a bigger role in Fire Study where her glass magic was discovered. This wasn’t planned at all – I needed some way to imprison evil souls and using Opal came to me in one of those wonderful, I’m-glad-to-be-a-pantser moments! I have to give credit to my editor who suggested I expand on Opal and explore her story, and that’s how the Glass series started.

TSR: I love the covers of your books, do you have a say in their design?

MVS: No. The publisher has the right to package the book however they want. I do fill out an Art Fact Sheet where I can suggest interesting visual scenes, describe characters and clothing/colour schemes. I can suggest changes to the covers and on occasion they will change it because I had a logical reason. For example, the US cover of Inside Out – at first they had the girl looking pass the reader’s shoulder and I told them the main character, Trella is a very direct character and she’ll look you in the eye and tell you exactly what she thinks of you. So they sent me a number of pictures of the model and I was able to choose the one I liked best. But overall, the covers have been lovely and I love them all – I trust the art department to know what will grab a readers’ attention.

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

MVS: I’m reading The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa. It’s the second book in a YA fantasy series set in the world of the fae. It’s wonderful and just as good as the first book, The Iron King.

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

MVS: This is a super hard question to answer! I have so many favourites in various genres. If you twist my arm....ow! Okay, okay, I’ll tell you....geez. It would be The Gate to Women’s Country, by Sheri S. Tepper followed closely by Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card and third would be Jaran, by Kate Elliott. All science fiction, by the way – odd considering I write mostly fantasy :-)

TSR: You have two new books being released in the UK in January and April 2011. They are entitled ‘Inside Out’ and ‘Outside In’. Can you tell us a bit about your new books?

MVS: Inside Out is a dystopian science fiction novel that focuses on Trella, a scrub living in the lower levels of Inside. The world of Inside is basically a metal cube, and the inhabitants have forgotten what’s outside their world.

Trella hates her life, the other scrubs, and the uppers who rule their world via the Population Control Police (a.k.a. Pop Cops). She prefers to stay in the ducts to avoid everyone except her single friend, Cogon. Cog is friends with all the scrubs, and he's the one bright spot in this dull metal world. He tends to believe the propaganda spouted by the prophets in the lower levels. Trella believes these prophets are all Pop Cop spies. However this new prophet claims he has the location of a Gateway to Outside on a disk that's hidden in the upper levels. He wants Trella to retrieve the disk and find Gateway.

Why Trella? Since she spends most of her time in the ducts, she alone knows every single duct, pipe, corridor, shortcut, hole and ladder of Inside. It’s suicide plain and simple, but she can’t let a challenge like that go unanswered. And as soon as she finds that disk, her world gets turned upside down.

Outside In continues Trella’s story about 12 weeks after the events in Inside Out. So much has changed and not everyone is happy with the changes. Plus Trella feels her job is done, and thought she can now relax, letting others take over. Too bad she thought wrong.

I can’t say too much about Outside In as it would spoil some of the twists in Inside Out. If your readers would like more on Inside Out, there is a website with a cool video book trailer, quiz, and the first three chapters of the book. Here’s the link:

TSR: Are you planning to write any other books at the moment?

MVS: Yes. I’m currently working on another fantasy novel about a healer set in a world that is recovering from a deadly plague. Her world has blamed the plague on the healers and has hunted them down. She is finally caught only to be rescued by a group who wants her to heal their Prince. The group's leader, Kerrick, knows the healers aren't to blame for the plague and that she could do some good for a change instead of hiding. Unfortunately, she believes this Prince is the one who started the plague as an attempt at biological warfare so she isn't risking her life for some pampered Prince. As they travel to the Prince's hidden location, they're pursued by others who have realized having a healer around might just be a good thing for them, but not necessarily for her. This book is tentatively set for a January 2012 release in the United States.

TSR: What simple things in life make you smile?

MVS: Email from my readers. Flowers from my husband. And my children.

TSR: If anyone is interested in learning more about you and your books, where’s the best place to go?

MVS: All are welcome to visit my website. I have the first chapter of all my books online as well as a number of free short stories to read. Here’s the link: I also have a blog where I post updates, interviews with authors, book reviews, contests, and general comments on life and writing. My blog’s address is:

TSR: Maria, I have been absolutely delighted and very honoured that you agreed to be interviewed by me for this site. I would also like to thank-you again for taking the time to speak to us today.

MVS: Thank you for this opportunity to spread the word about me and my books. It was a fun interview and a legitimate excuse to procrastinate :-)

* The answer to what hydrometeors are... they’re rain drops :-)

International Giveaway!

We have one copy of Maria's novel 'Inside Out' to give away in a draw with this post (UK edition which has just been released!). All you have to do to enter the draw for this fantastic prize is to join this blog as :
A new Google Friends Connect Follower (one entry)
A new Network Blogs Follower (one entry)
A current follower by either GFC or Network Blogs (one entry);
and also leave a comment on this post for each type of follower you are to The Secret Writer blog. This giveaway draw is also open to those who are already followers of this blog.

Please remember to also leave details of your e-mail address with each of your comments (both new followers and old!), so we can then contact the winner following the draw. Entry for this draw will close on Sunday 19th December 2010. The winner will then be announced as soon as possible after this date. If the winner cannot be contacted 48 hours after the draw has taken place, a new winner will then be chosen.

Good luck everyone!

Friday, 10 December 2010

Visiting this Sunday!

Author Interview with Maria V.Snyder

The very popular, and bestselling author of the 'Study' and 'Glass' series, Maria V.Snyder, will be visiting The Secret Writer blog this Sunday evening. Maria will also be talking about her latest book release, 'Inside Out' and its sequel, 'Outside In'. There will also be an International Book Giveaway draw linked to this interview! This is a privileged interview that you should not miss!!  Please spread the word!

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

The Nestor Maronski Case

News Update!

Recently I was able to post a news scoop interview on this actual blog, with one of the main suspects being sought in the investigation of the disappearance of the book critic Nestor Maronski. I highlighted in my post that this case was being followed closely by some of my literary colleague's, and if there were any further developments in relation to this high profile case I would let you know.

I am putting up this post for those who have an interest and are following this investigation, as I have just been informed a short while ago that another interview in relation to this particular intriguing case has been posted on the web. If you click on the following link it will take you to a recent interview with Richard and Lily Ferguson, who appear to have suffered at the hands of Nestor Maronski:

For more information on this investigation follow the links below:

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Book Bloggers Holiday Bash! - TSR International Book Giveaway!

Book Bloggers Holiday Bash!
Three Books to be Won by Three Draw Winners!
5th-15th December 2010

Welcome to the Book Bloggers Holiday Bash! 'The Secret Writer' blog is currenly taking part in a festive Blog Hop that includes seventeen other blogs! The names and links for the other participating blogs can be found at the very bottom of my home page. The Blog Bloggers Holiday Bash picture, can be found  above the links. Please visit these other blogs for more great prizes. The second method of hopping around the participating blogs, is to click on the Book Bloggers Holiday Bash pictures, situated at either side at the top of my site page. By clicking on either of these pictures, it will then bring you through to the organiser of this Blog Hops link page relating to this event. The participating blog links can be found there as well!

If you visit this blog and join this blog as a Google follower, and leave a comment on this post (also include your e-mail address in your comment so I can contact you if you are a winner), you will be entered into a draw for one of the following great book titles:

'Ghost Town' by Rachel Caine
'Never Let Me Go' by Kazuo Ishiguro
'Twelve days of Christmas' by Trisha Ashley


Only one book can be won by each  draw winner. There will be three winners of this draw. Each entrant will be allocated a sequencial number. After the closing date for this draw (15th December), the winning numbers entered for this draw will be chosen by

Followers of this blog can also enter this draw too, by leaving a comment to this post (again do not forget to leave your e-mail address in your comment, so I can contact you if you are a winner). This is an International Giveaway! Hopefully I will have the winners books in the post to them by the 16th December 2010!

Good Luck Everyone!

Trisha Ashley - 'Twelve Days of Christmas'

Book Review

Published by Avon: 2010
ISBN No: 13:978-1-84756-115-2

This book not only has a great seasonally designed  cover, it also contains a great story inside! Trisha Ashley has done it again by producing another five star read. I have recently become a fan of Trisha Ashely's writing and I think Katie Fforde has got it right when she states that Trisha Ashley is, 'one of the best writers around'.

'Twelve Days of Christmas' is a romantic comedy, full of the fun for the festive season and some delicious tales about cooking as well! The book tells the story of the young widow Holly Brown who is asked to look after a remote house in the Lancashire moors. Without providing any spoilers, lets just say the fun and romance starts to begin here! There is always some down to earth humour in Trisha Ashley's writing and her descriptions of her characters always leave a lasting impression in my mind. The characters of Holly Brown and Jude Martland are no different within this particular story! This is a story that once started is hard to put down.

Fans of Trisha Ashley will not be disappointed with 'Twelve Days of Christmas'. This title has been consistently at the top of the Tesco book charts for the past number of weeks and it has also been in the top of the Amazon charts for a number of weeks as well. This book is very reasonably priced within the UK for a 408 paged paper backed book, both with Amazon and Tesco. It would make a very affordable Christmas present or stocking filler for a friend or family member who would like reading  this type of story!

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

International Indie Books Holiday Giveaway Event!

Fantastic International Indie Book Giveaway!
Today Darcia Helle Indie author and founder of the BestsellerBound website launched the great Indie Books Holiday Giveaway Event! A couple of months ago, this idea drifted through Darcia's mind. Darcia wanted to showcase indie authors, thank Indie readers for hanging out with Indie authors, and introduce new readers to indie books. Darcia sent her idea out to her networking world and received an incredible response. That passing thought quickly spiraled into a pretty huge event and here's the result. Hundreds of print and e-books, written by 47 indie authors, offering 76 unique titles! This is an international event. Regardless of where you live, you have a chance to win one of the prizes. All you need to do is fill out the entry form on Darcia's website. But first, let's take a look at the authors who are participating:

1. Darcia Helle
2. Joel Blaine Kirkpatrick
3. Stacy Juba
4. Sylvia Massara
5. Jason McIntyre
6. Susan Helene Gottfried
7. Pendred Noyce
8. Judith Marshall
9. Cheryl Anne Gardner
10. Jenny Hilborne
11. Philip Nork
12. Roseanne Dingli
13. Sydney Tyler Thomas
14. Charlie Courtland
15. Ottilie Weber
16. Marty Beudet
17. Magdalena Ball
18. Carolyn Howard-Johnson
19. Jennifer Lane
20. Jaleta Cregg
21. Jane Kennedy Sutton
22. Adelle Laudan
23. Tonya Plank
24. Magnolia Belle
25. Patricia Rockwell
26. Diane Morlan
27. Christopher Dunbar & Heather Poinsett Dunbar
28. Maria Savva
29. Roy McConnell
30. Linda Gould
31. Theodore Odrach with translation by Erma Odrach
32. Ann Mauren
33. Sherrida Woodley
34. Jennifer DeLucy
35. Tricia L. McDonald
36. K. Michael Crawford
37. Apryl Skies
38. Deborah Shlian & Linda Reid
39. J.R. Lindermuth
40. Debra Purdy Kong
41. Scott L. Collins
42. Karen Vaughan
43. Doug Hiser
44. Karen Boutilier Kendall
45. Michael Dyet
46. Donna McDine
47. Gregg Seeley

This event runs throughout the month of December. Winners will be picked at random on January 1. Winners will be anounced on Darcia Helle's blog, as well as on the entry form page for the event. There will be one winner for each prize, so you've got great odds of winning something!

Ready to see the books? You can browse through all the titles by visiting the holiday event page on Darcia Helle's website. Each title is linked to Amazon, so that you can click for further details. Also, you'll find each author's website listed beside his/her name. After you've checked out the selection, click on the entry form link on Darcia's website and fill out the form. That's all you need to do! Oh, and don't forget to tell your friends!

Happy holidays, everyone! And good luck!

Web link to Darcia Helle's blog and the International Indie Books Holiday Giveaway: