Monday, 20 February 2017

Author Spotlight - Alison Stuart

By Cassandra Samuels

Firstly, I must confess I love Alison's books, but beyond being a brilliant author she is also an amazing person who often puts herself out to help others and is a major contributor to Romance Writers Australia.

Alison has published seven full-length historical romances and a collection of short stories. Her disposition to write about soldier heroes may come from her varied career as a lawyer in the military and fire services. These days when she is not writing she is travelling, and routinely drags her long-suffering husband around battlefields and castles.

We are very happy to have Alison as our very first Author Spotlight guest. Enjoy!



Hi, girls! Thank you so much for inviting me to your blog today.

Name one thing you’re scared of.
Just one? Really, really scared? I’m not fond of spiders or snakes or heights, but I think I am really scared of vast tracts of water. I have this terror of what is underneath me (sharks, monsters…you know the usual things!) ! I am OK in large boats but in small yachty type boats, I am generally clinging onto something for dear life and hoping we don’t capsize. I blame my husband…and an unfortunate incident with a catamaran on our honeymoon.

Like to share an embarrassing moment?
My most truly embarrassing moment was the day I unwisely followed my husband down a ski slope and dislocated my shoulder. Despite the fact I was quite capable of walking, the ski patrol insisted on strapping me into a gurney and skiing me out along a track, strapping me on to a ski lift and then ski-doing to the medical centre right through the centre of the village. I was scarlet by the time I was eventually unstrapped! Oh yes… did I mention my husband routinely tries to kill me on holiday (see answer above)

What is the premise of your latest book?
My latest book (AND THEN MINE ENEMY) is the first in a two book series spanning the years 1642-45 (a somewhat ambitious project!). I wanted to explore the English Civil War from the perspective of, firstly, a family divided and secondly, with a hero on the parliamentary side (instead of the more romantic royalists!).

Buy this book here

What unique challenges did the book pose?
This story was originally intended as a single book and had been lingering in the cyber sock drawer for some years. I would get it out and tinker but I just couldn’t get it to work. I guess with maturity in my craft, it hit me the last time I re read it, that the reason it didn’t work was because it had two quite distinct story arcs, in other words it was two stories, which is how it became the Feathers in the Wind series.

What are you working on at the moment?
I am working on Book 2, NOW MY SWORN FRIEND, but for the reasons I cited above, it’s not coming easily! I have had to effectively scrap everything I had in mind for Book 2 and start from scratch!

Love to love...

My greatest joy is my family. Nothing gives me more pleasure or fills my heart as much as having all my family together around my table, particularly as we have recently expanded by one with the addition of our first grandchild.

Love to laugh... 

At really great British humour. Blackadder, Yes Minister… they have been around for a long time and they still reduce me to tears (in the good way!). I love clever humour (and loathe slapstick!).

Love to learn about...

New aspects of history. Travelling around Europe I can link the bits and pieces I have gleaned, the intricate family and political relationships. It doesn’t matter where I go I always learn something new. 

More About Alison
Award winning Australian author Alison Stuart learned her passion for history from her father. She has been writing stories since her teenage years but it was not until 2007 that her first full-length novel was published. Connect with Alison at her website, Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or subscribe to her newsletter for exclusive free reads, contests and more…

BUY AND THEN MINE ENEMY at these places.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Who was Saint Valentine and How Did His Death Become All About Love?

By Cassandra Samuels

Happy Valentine's Day for tomorrow! Ahh, the most romantic day of the year for some of us. A day to celebrate love, whether it be potential or committed. But who is this St Valentine and how did all this Valentine's Day malarkey all come about?

Short history:

The truth surrounding the origin of Valentine's day is a little sketchy. One theory says that Valentine (a priest) conducted outlawed weddings during the third century in Rome. Weddings for soldiers had been banned as the Emperor Claudius II thought that unmarried men made better warriors. It is told that Claudius had Valentine killed when he discovered the outlawed marriages.

Another theory is that Valentine fell in love with a jailer's daughter while imprisoned for helping Christians escape said prison, and sent her love letters signed "from your Valentine." A phrase we still use today.

courtesy of Catholiconline

So why February 14th? The theory is that the Catholic church introduced a feast day in the middle of February in order to make the pagan celebration of Lupercalia (traditionally February 15th, and during which women were slapped with bloody goat skins for fertility) more Christian. It was moved to the 14th after the pagan celebration was outlawed at the end of the fifth century.

Lupercalia courtesy of paperdroids.com

In the middle ages, it was thought that the 14th of February was the beginning of bird mating season. Mating season was when birds would compete for mates and indulge in the rituals of courtship. So it isn't hard to believe that people came to compare this time with courtship and love as well.

In the Victorian era, Valentine's Day was one to be savoured, and many spent a lot of time making or purchasing cards for their special someone.

Victorian Valentine's Day Card Courtesy of VictorianPaperlace.com


I'd like to think we have moved on from whips made of bloody goat's hide and now prefer to wine and dine our lovers.

courtesy of nursetogether.com

Or present flowers

Courtesy of HDimagesNew

and chocolate instead.

Courtesy of DramaFever.com


Much nicer don't you think?

How do you like to celebrate Valentine's Day?


Love to Love sharing time with my hubby. I am one lucky gal.

Love to Laugh at my husband's dry wit. He always surprises me and makes me laugh.

Love to Learn how things are made - like yummy chocolate.








Monday, 6 February 2017

How to Achieve Your Goals (When You Haven’t Even Started Yet)

with Marilyn Forsyth

Image courtesy of pinterest.com
Did I set my writing goals for the new year? Yep. :)

Did I start working towards them on January 1st? Nope. :(

So what was stopping me?

It was the actual 'getting started' bit. 

Wth? I mean, I’m a writer. The Farmer's Perfect Match was published last year and my next book, Falling in Love Again, is coming out in April, so what the heck was going on?

This…

It’s hard! Being a writer is hard work!

Image courtesy of onsizzle.com





There’s self-doubt. Life getting in the way. Brain drain. That kitchen drawer you've been meaning to get around to cleaning out. 
There’s, like…at least a million things to stop you from achieving those goals you set yourself. 









But here’s the good part: you can do something about it.

In no particular order, here are some things that got me back on track. Maybe they'll help you, too.

1. I re-read some completed stories and story ideas from my bottom drawer and realised I had some great stuff there. Maybe I wasn’t as useless as I thought.

2. I started writing a diary in the words of my new MC – just a few sentences about her daily life and innermost thoughts, to get to know her better (the book’s a historical time-slip, a total change of genre for me)

Own photo




3. I began using the ‘Don’t Beak the Chain’ method. I have to write every day — I don’t want to break that chain!








4. Before finishing writing for the day, I’ve been making a list of specific things to work on the next day. (Love to tick things off a list!)

5. I’ve broken my big goals into small, achievable outcomes. Nothing’s guaranteed to upset your equilibrium more than having a goal that’s just too hard to achieve.

6. This was a biggie! I skipped writing the first chapter. I had an outline and I knew where I wanted my story to go but I just didn’t know how to start it and that was causing me angst (we all know how important that first page is, don’t we!). The pressure really came off after that.

Link to listen to or buy



7. I’m writing to music. I’ve tried this sporadically in the past, but this time I have a proper playlist. I’m also using headphones and finding it a really nice way to work.







8. Before I start work on the computer, I’ve been handwriting what I want to achieve with the scene I’m working on. This is giving me a focus.

9. This might sound a bit airy-fairy but I’ve been saying out loud to myself ‘You are a writer. You can do this.’ (You know what they say – talk to yourself and you’ll always hear what you want to hear.)

10. I light my ritual citrus-scented candle, and off I go.

So there you have it: my guide to getting started for 2017. Hope it helps you. (And fingers, legs and eyes crossed that it continues for me!)

Have you had trouble getting started this year? What did you do to overcome it?

Love to Love…a thunderstorm after a sweltering day, and the smell of earth after rain.

Image courtesy of bestanimations.com

Love to Laugh…at Game of Thrones memes.


Love to Learn…by doing on-line writing courses. The last one I took was through the Margie Lawson Academy; it was about writing Historical Fiction and it was brilliant!