Sunday, 13 August 2023

BOOK NEWS and REVIEWS


NEW BOOK COMING DECEMBER 2023!!

I'm so excited to tell you about my upcoming new novel from Severn House Publishers (a division of Canongate Books). It's called THE NIGHT SIDE and is coming out in hardback and and all major digital platforms on December 5th 2023. You can pre-order it now at Waterstones, Barnes and Noble as well as Amazon, Apple Books and Kobo. The Trade Paperback will follow in the late spring. Here's a synopsis: 

  TWENTY YEARS OF SECRETS. ONE DEADLY TRUTH 
 
When Ruby Carlson was eighteen, she ran away from her home in Stoneybrook, Montana, and vowed she'd never return. Never return to life under the control of her manipulative mother, Ida, a self-styled medium and psychic scammer who made a career out of ruining people's lives. Never return to the small town where enemies lurk at every turn. But now, twenty years later, Ruby is back. Her mother is missing, presumed dead, and Ruby reluctantly returns to a home filled with chilling memories to settle Ida's affairs. Did she really commit suicide by drowning, or is this another dark scheme? Ruby thought she knew everything about her mother, but finds herself unraveling a web of lies and secrets to reveal a story more twisted than anyone could have imagined . . .

Stay tuned for upcoming blog posts with more information about the inspiration behind the novel!

AUDIO BOOK NEWS




New audiobook versions of THE PERFECT FAMILY MAN and THE SECRET SISTER are now available on Amazon and the Audible store. I was so stoked to learn that THE PERFECT FAMILY MAN is narrated by the wonderful Helen Laser who also narrated the amazing smash hit, YELLOWFACE, July's Reese's Bookclub pick. I'll be reviewing it next blog post. Check the books out. They're amazing to hear on audio.

NEW COVER

Check out the new cover for my popular romantic suspense novel, LILAH, available on all Amazon platforms. This one really captures the snowy winter setting of Silver Narrows, North Dakota.




BOOK REVIEW





WHITE IVY by Susie Yang

 

Right from the get-go in Susie Yang’s twisty novel, we understand the protagonist, Ivy, is a morally ambivalent character trained by her immigrant grandmother at an early age to use her unassuming appearance for cover to steal items from second-hand shops and yard sales. Ivy continues this trend into her adolescence, blithely shoplifting anywhere and everywhere in order to acquire all the trappings necessary to be accepted into the ‘in-crowd’ at her exclusive private high school and, more importantly, attract the attention of her idol, ‘golden boy’, Gideon Speyer. 

Gideon becomes her perfect ideal of a man, but her darker side prefers loner and social outcast, Roux with whom she embarks on a torrid sexual relationship. When her hardworking parents discover her crimes, she’s sent back to China to ‘learn a life lesson’ but instead lands at her wealthy aunt’s home and continues to enjoy the excesses of materialism and learn everything she can about good taste and shopping. A short stay with the ‘poorer’ side of her parents’ family only confirms her determination to enjoy ‘the good life’ and become part of what she perceives as society’s ‘upper, privileged echelons’.

Interestingly, Ivy doesn’t conform to stereotype or to her parents' expectations, with her unspectacular college career that lands her a job as an elementary school teacher. But when she runs into Gideon’s sister and re-establishes contact it seems her plan to insert herself into his ‘privileged existence’ is back on track again as she pretends to prepare for law school entrance and continue a relationship with Gideon. Too bad it’s threatened by an unwelcome ghost from her past.

Ivy is an incredibly complex character. Vulnerable one minute, ruthless the next. Yang captures her internal struggle as she attempts to negotiate a society that values white privilege and all the trapping of their perceived socio-economic superiority, yet somehow causes her to devalue the financial success of her hardworking parents who turn out to be much more business-savvy and financially stable than their white counterparts.

What follows is a chain of unexpected events and a totally unpredictable ending where Ivy realizes she’s not so different from her mother in that she’s prepared to do anything to achieve her dream. Written in gorgeous razor-sharp prose, this is a remarkably subversive debut that introduces one of the most complex but compelling characters in recent fiction and cleverly shines a light on the alienation and forced ‘otherness’ of the immigrant experience.

Tuesday, 13 June 2023

BOOK REVIEW: EVERGREENS by Liam Brown

EVERGREENS by Liame Brown
This fast-paced page-turner by Liame Brown poses the age-old question, Who Wants to Live Forever? The answer, it seems, is not as straightforward as we might think, particularly when the two people in a romantic relationship hold diametrically opposite viewpoints on the issue. The story is told from two points of view and spans a period of sixty-five years. We first meet Sophie and Ben in the year 2070 as elderly Sophie watches a youthful Ben as he lies in his hospital bed, aging in front of her eyes. Rewind back to 2005 when Ben and Sophie meet for the first time as carefree nineteen year old backpackers traveling during their gap year. Ben comes from a troubled, more deprived childhood while Sophie's life has been one of comfort and privilege, which Ben finds somewhat intimidating. So begins their on-again, off-again relationship which takes many twists and turns through the years, the most significant one being when Ben signs up for the Evergreens Project which guarantees that the clients will not age physically and will stay twenty-one forever. the problem is that Ben lacks motivation and becomes stuck in a rut with all the time in the world to figure out what he wants to do and if he even wants to do it.
The novel is a fascinating exploration of what might happen to a person facing a life that could go on forever. Suddenly priorities change, and relationships become risky when you know you'll outlive all your friends and you'll do it as someone who stays permanently young. The same goes for intimate relationships which might work, but only for a limited length of time before the differences between you and your aging partner become too great. Then there's the conflict between your youthful body and your aging mind and character. You might have the body of a twenty-one year old, but your experience and attitude towards life will be that of a fifty-year-old, which poses all kinds of challenges in terms of how you want to spend your time. Liame Brown explores these questions and more through the lens of Ben and Sophie's relationship. Only later does he widen his scope and begin to consider the societal effects that age-reversal technology might have on society. I'd like to have seen more of this during the novel, but perhaps narrowing the scope is a more realistic way to deal with such a massive question. Overall this was an enjoyable read with an intriguing premise. Thanks to Legend Press for sending me an early copy to review.

Monday, 8 May 2023

BOOK NEWS AND SPRING TRAVELS!!

BOOK DEAL NEWS: I'm delighted to tell you about my latest book deal with Severn House, an imprint of Canongate Books
This new suspense novel, will be published in early December of this year, and I hope to have a cover reveal and more info by the time my next blog comes out. I'm also excited to tell you that an audio version of my bestselling novel, THE PERFECT FAMILY MAN, will be available on July 18th, 2023 and can be pre-ordered here.
SPRING TRAVELS
This year I escaped the final chapter of one of our longest winter seasons yet, by traveling south to Arizona. We stayed in the beautiful suburb of Fountain Hills and spent a couple of weeks golfing, swimming and walking. As usual I took a whole lot of pictures to store in my "possible locations for a novel" folder and filled a notebook with observations, descriptions, potential characters,intriguing scenarios and story ideas.
It's true that fiction writing is a twenty-four-seven obsession. As a writer, you're always on the lookout for the quirky side of humanity. Constantly watching to see how people interact and always collecting sensory details that will help you develop a rich and plausible setting for a future novel. Since we made the journey by car, I was able to experience many different types of landscape from the endless, flat prairies of Manitoba and North Dakota to the hills and canyons of South Dakota, to the wild, undulating hills of Nebraska, to the spectacular foothills of the Colorado Rockies, to the intense desertlike vistas of New Mexico, and finally to the red-rock mountain splendor of Arizona. We returned home to a virtually snowless Winnipeg. Mission accomplished!
In this blog I've chosen to review sci-fi works with feminist themes, starting with CAMP ZERO by Michelle Min Sterling: This thought-provoking and intriguing read had me hooked from the beginning, with its portrayal of a world utterly changed by rising temperatures and extreme weather conditions. As a result, the greedy powerbrokers and plunderers of earth's riches turn their sights to Canada's northern regions—the only place in North America where cold temperatures make life bearable and fresh water, ice and snow actually exist. Also the only place still hiding precious mineral reserves under the permafrost. The story follows Rose, a paid escort/prostitute who travels north from The Floating City (in Boston Harbour), to a bleak camp in Northern Alberta's old oil patch where a reclusive architect is supposedly building an idyllic campus dedicated to finding ways to live in harmony with nature. Rose's new life is reminiscent of The Handmaiden's Tale in that she's there simply to "service" the project's management who subscribe to a strongly patriarchal version of life. Another story strand follows Grant, an idealistic young academic, eager to escape his power-magnate father and forge his own future path. But the most fascinating story is of "White Alice" an all-female research group of scientists sent to the far north to monitor climate change. Instead they gradually discover the real reason why they've been sent there. The author paints a plausible and chilling vision of a future world , and poses the question that even when earth's resources are dwindling and we are on the brink of potential disaster, how far will power-hungry men go to continue to amass personal wealth when the consequences might be the destruction of humanity and how can women band together and work in harmony to prevent them? Thanks to NetGalley, Atria Books and Knopf Canada for providing an ARC of the book in exchange for an honest review.
SERIES REVIEW: THE POWER (Amazon Prime)Based on the brilliant bestselling novel by Naomi Alderman, this series truly brings the book to life thanks to a brilliant script by Alderman, Sarah Quintrell and Raelle Tucket and a stellar cast of Toni Collette (Margot), John Leguizamo (Rob),Ria Zmitrovicz (Roxy),Halle Bush (Eve), Toheeb Jimoh (Tunde) among numerous others. The main premise of the story poses an intriguing question—what happens when women develop a mysterious power to elecrocute at will? The answer being a complete reversal of the global power balance. Tables are turned when men are forced to realize that mere physical strength is no match for women's newly discovered ability to generate deadly electric force. Some male characters embrace the opportunity to forge a new future in which men and women work together as equals, while others see it as an unwelcome subversion of nature's natural order that must be curtailed by any method possible. The result is a thrilling and action-packed series driven by unforgettable characters. I highly recommend!!

Thursday, 9 March 2023

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY

With International Women's day falling on March 8th, I'm featuring notable books I've read recently, written by women and focusing on women's issues, while fearlessly pushing the boundaries of fiction. ON THE SAVAGE SIDE by Tiffany McDaniel
This was an incredibly brutal yet beautiful novel. Not for the faint of heart, it tackles addiction, parental neglect, child abuse, child sexual abuse, prostitution, police brutality, male brutality and the never-ending cycle of poverty and addiction,, and it achieves all this without being gratuitous, sentimental or judgmental. McDaniel gives humanity to the women struggling with the savagery of life in a dying Ohio town. The novel was inspired by the unsolved murders of The Chillicothe Six; six women--mothers, daughters, sisters--who went missing. When the first is found floating dead in the river, and more bodies follow, some disturbing truths about the people in this small Ohio town are revealed. This harrowing and haunting novel tells the story of twin sisters, Arc and Daffodil, who can't escape the generational cycle of prostitution and addiction and who could both be the next victims of the River Man, an elusive killer. This novel digs deep into its main characters, tracing the course of their lives right from childhood when they still believed, with the help of their incredible grandmother, Mamma Milkweed, that "there are things that not even fire can destroy. And one of these things is the strength of a woman". Also that the savage side of life can always be mended and made beautiful.The author's brilliance shines in her ability to use poetic and lyrical language to create the kind of magic rarely seen in such portrayals of the darker side of life. TIFFANY MCDANIEL is an Ohio native whose writing is inspired by the rolling hills and woods of the land she knows. Drawing from her Cherokee heritage, she is a poet, a novelist, and a visual artist.
ON HOME by Becca Spence Dobias
This beautifully written debut novel is a sensitive and insightful portrait of three generations of women struggling with sexuality, relationships and belonging. Grandma Jane's story begins post-WW2 as she leaves her small town in West Virginia to go and work in the big city - Washington D.C where men in uniform seem to prey on young, impressionable women. Paloma, Jane's daughter-in-law, meets her husband, Ken in Prague while she's teaching at a university there. Cassidy, Paloma's daughter, left West Virginia behind and is a cam girl in Southern California. When her father, Ken is killed in an accident, she comes home intending only to stay for the funeral, but fate takes a turn . The setting of small town, West Virginia is a major factor in this novel. Jane sees it as a place of safety while Paloma, who at first viewed it as a good place to raise a family, feels suffocated and longs for the liberated lifestyle she left behind in Prague. Cassidy feels that returning to Buckannon is a sign of her continued failure in the eyes of her mother, and the interaction between the two is prickly and distant as they try to interact without the buffer of Cassidy's beloved father. The interaction between the three women and their attempts to come to terms with their life in the small town, and their place in the world as women, is skilfully and expertly portrayed by Dobias who weaves a well-paced, compelling story that deals with many deeply human themes such as the fleeting nature of experience as well as the sanctuary of home and family, and the power of love. Becca Spence Dobias grew up in a small town in West Virginia and now lives in Southern California with her husband and two children. Her work has been published in two Writing Bloc anthologies, Inlandia: A Literary Journey, and the Inlandia Anthology, A Short Guide to Finding Your First Home in the United States. She misses West Virginia every day but playing banjo helps. On Home is her first novel.
WOMEN TALKING by Miriam Toews, WOMEN TALKING, the movie adapted and directed by Sarah Polley
Usually when one watches a movie adaptation of a novel, there's a feeling of disappointment that the images and ideas you conjured up in your head while reading, are far more engaging than the choices made by the screenwriter and director of the movie version. This is defintely not the case for WOMEN TALKING. Author Miriam Toews worked closely with director and screenwriter, Sarah Polley, collaborating every step of the way to create an unforgettable movie adaptation of Toews' bestselling novel. Adapting this exploration of the brutality of the patriarchy without becoming gratuitous is no mean feat, and Sarah Polley succeeds in capturing the horrific circumstances of these women without exploiting them. Based on a real case fron the early 2000's of a Mennonite sect living in an isolated community in Bolivia. Toews focuses on eight female members of the community who climb into a hay loft to conduct a secret meeting. For the past two years, each of these women, and more than a hundred other girls in their colony, has been repeatedly violated in the night by demons coming to punish them for their sins. Now that the women have learned they were in fact drugged and attacked by a group of men from their own community, they are determined to protect themselves and their daughters from future harm. While the men of the colony are off in the city, attempting to raise enough money to bail out the rapists and bring them home, these women—all illiterate, without any knowledge of the world outside their community and unable even to speak the language of the country they live in—have very little time to make a choice: Should they stay in the only world they’ve ever known or should they dare to escape? Rather than focusing on the horror of the assaults, Toews concentrates on the struggle these women experience when trying to take back the power that has been systematically stripped from them. Both novel and movie emphasise the strength of the bonds between these women, and the undeniable fact that working together as women is the only way to challenge the rigid religious rules that have bound them for so long. The book and the movie eventually become a compelling examination of all patriarchy and the possibility that those who have been most brutally oppressed by it, can actually remove themselves from its influence. Miriam Toews is a Canadian writer of Mennonite descent. She grew up in Steinbach, Manitoba and has lived in Montreal and London, before settling in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Finally I can't let this International Women's day pass without spotlighting some incredibly powerful female artists that I've always admired: first off, LAURA NYRO
One of the greatest performers and songwriters of the 20th century, check out Nyro's incredible appearance at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival For some inexplicable reason, her brave, impassioned performance of THE POVERTY TRAIN didn't make it to the final film version of the festival and lay on the cutting floor. Check it out here.
LISA FISCHER has been a favorite of mine since her early diso days when she won a Grammy for her hit, HOW CAN I EASE THE PAIN. Later she garnered praise for her work with The Rolling Stones when her incredible vocals transformed GIMME SHELTER into a rock and roll masterpiece. Check it out here. Lately she's branched out as a solo artist and also appeared together with the incredible singer LEDISI in some unforgettable performances. Check out this amazing collaboration with LEDISI,VULA MALINGA and SHARLENE HECTOR at The Royal Albert Hall when they perform FOUR WOMEN. Click here to enjoy.
BOOK NEWS..... I'll have some incredible news in my next blog about my new, upcoming book, so STAY TUNED to find out more about it, and when it will be coming out!! Can't wait to tell you.

Tuesday, 3 January 2023

HERE'S TO 2023!

It's always exciting to welcome in a new year even though that means cold, snowy winter weather here. It's even more exciting now that I have new agency representation from Trident Media Group and have completed two new novels. More news to come later about that! For now I've attached reviews of two novels I read recently. Both very different. Hope you enjoy!
WARLIGHT by Michael Ondaatje
Only Michael Ondaatje could pull off a novel like Warlight. Named after the twilight that shrouded London during World War 2 when all the streetlights were dimmed to avoid lighting the way for German bombers, the story itself seems to flicker in dreamlike fragments as the world awakes from the horrors of war. The world in this novel is post-war London, brilliantly captured in loving detail in Ondaatje's achingly beautiful prose. This is a battle-scarred and battered London where people who have worked covertly in the shadows, find themselves emerging into the changed world of the Cold War where actions taken during wartime must be answered for. The story begins when teens Rachel and Nathaniel's parents disappear, leaving them in the care of a mysterious guardian named The Moth and his enigmatic friend, The Darter. Over the next year a selection of strange, elusive characters pass through the house. They stay for a while, impart their wisdom, and leave. Rachel struggles with feelings of abandonment while Nathaniel, whose story this really is, finds school difficult to stick with as he's drawn to the fascinating world of The Darter who proves to be an unlikely mentor. The Darter is a barge rat who knows every inch of the River Thames. Nathaniel starts to accompany him on his trips to pick up illegal French greyhounds which are then taken back to the docklands to fuel the newly growing greyhound racing racket. The Darter also gets him a job in a restaurant where he meets and become romantically involved with Agnes. There is a mystery at the heart of the novel that results in a catastrophic end to the arrangement and comes to dominate Nathaniel's life even after he goes to work for the Foreign Office but it's clear that his parents' actions have a lasting impact on his life. This is a haunting story that stays with you long after the last page is turned. Perhaps because of its fragmentary structure where memories drift in and out, mirroring the nature of true human experience and life.
It's clear from the start of this page-turning novel that the main character, Nadine is on edge and burdened by secrets that have clouded her life for a very long time. The story unfolds over the course of one day as she prepares to host a sixtieth birthday party for her mother, a best-selling author. Right for the onset Nadine seems suspicious of other people's motives, a little paranoid and not a little unlikable as a person. But she's a fiercely protective mother to her two children Isobel, 16 and Damien, 14, both of who are struggling with their own personal crises. We already know from the prologue that someone at the party will be dead by the end of the night, so Stuart artfully builds up the tension, introducing characters who may have a motive to uncover some secrets Nadine would like to keep under wraps. Set in a small town somewhere in North America, the setting felt a little generic and lacking atmosphere, though the author does capture some of the drawbacks of small town life where all eyes are on you at all times. A well-written and interesting read.

Saturday, 11 June 2022

THE SHORTEST SPRING ON RECORD



After a crazy, turbulent winter season that lasted until April, we here on the prairies entered a brief spring period that has now transformed quickly to summer with temperatures in the high 20's and blossoms only just blooming on the trees. 

A walk along English Bay











Thankfully we were able to escape the unexpected April blizzards and rainstorms by escaping west to British Columbia in April where spring was in full bloom . We flew out of Winnipeg just as the storm approached, and landed in the mountain-ringed, oceanside, leafy green city of Vancouver. The city is a bustling beautiful metropolis and perfect for endless walks around English Bay, Granville Island, Davie Village, Yaletown, Robson Street, Gastown and the stunning harbour front.

I can highly recommend the location of the hotel we stayed in: The Executive Suites at Vintage Park, which is a short walk away from the Granville Island taxi and the sweeping panorama of English Bay. It's also just across the street from The Fresh Street Market, an amazing grocery and deli that we visited almost every day.

On our first morning walk we marvelled at the green grass, bright flowers and lush cherry blossoms, knowing we'd left a screaming blizzard behind us. That was just the beginning of our daily outings spent walking up to 20,000 steps a day!


View from The Sandbar Seafood Restaurant

Vancouver is home to incredible restaurants and we soon found our favourites:
The Happy Noodle on Davie Street serves handmade noodles and amazing stir fries. Spicy green beans were one of our favourites. The Sandbar Seafood Restaurant on Granville Island boasts stunning waterfront views of Vancouver at night and serves the freshest, tastiest seafood. I also enjoyed a mouthwatering lobster and shrimp risotto at Ancora another gorgeous oceanfront restaurant that serves Japanese/Peruvian cuisine and looks out onto a marina of luxury yachts and across to Granville Island.
On our final day in Vancouver we discovered another gem of a restaurant—Ca Marche Creperie, hidden away under the Granville Street Bridge. Their specialty is savoury buckwheat pancakes. I had the mushroom pancake, which is filled with sautéed mushrooms cider onion jam, asparagus, goat cheese and a perfect soft-boiled egg. They also serve the most decadent dessert pancakes—strawberry, caramel apple, salted caramel served with buckwheat ice cream. After all that eating it's good that we were walking so much!! 
Mushroom Crepe from Ca Marche Creperie



We did take side trips, driving through the mountains along the famous Coquihalla Highway where the clouds truly meet the road, to the beautiful city of Kelowna. Afterwards we cut down south and had a short stay in the fun city of Seattle. There I can highly recommend The Mediterranean Inn, which has a great rooftop patio, and is in a quirky, hip part of Seattle—close to great restaurants, the incredible Museum of Pop Culture, and the Space Needle.

It was a great three-week trip, the first we've taken since the pandemic, and just the beginning of many more.




BOOK NEWS

In-person book events and conferences are going full-swing now and I'm happy to say, after many virtual book club appearances, I've been able to attend some book clubs, the most recent being with a group who'd read The Savage Instinct. It's so good to get live feedback about your work. So much of a writer's life is spent alone in front of a laptop, it's great to emerge and chat with enthusiastic readers who make all those long hours worthwhile.



I've re-released my romantic suspense, LILAH, with a brand new cover. It's available in paperback and e-book on all Amazon platforms. Also I still have some great new projects on the horizon, but I can't talk about them yet, since they're in the development stage with an agent and publisher. Same goes for some exciting film projects under consideration with a Canadian production company.

CONFERENCE APPEARANCES

I'm happy to announce Ill be presenting at two major writers' conferences:



THE HISTORICAL NOVEL SOCIETY 2022 CONFERENCE: The leading conference for writers of historical fiction is being held in Durham City, UK in September 2022. As you all know Durham City is my birthplace and the setting of THE SAVAGE INSTINCT. So I'm honoured to be presenting a session there.






COLORADO GOLD WRITERS' CONFERENCE organized by THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN FICTION WRITERS: I attended this conference in Denver about ten years ago and it really inspired me to keep going with my writing. I'm thrilled to be presenting a hands-on workshop there as well as doing some mentoring sessions.

Hopefully I'll be able to update you on my new projects by the time the next blog comes out. In the meantime, happy reading and don't forget how much authors appreciate your reviews on Goodreads and Amazon!


Monday, 28 March 2022

BACK TO BLOGGING: THE PUBLICATION ROLLERCOASTER

 I'm so happy to get back to my blog after a long hiatus spent writing, revising, experiencing three book launches and seeing those novels catapulted out into the big, wide world. It's been an exhilarating experience, but one that's not for the faint of heart.

After years of self-publishing, in 2021 three of my novels were picked up by publishing houses. The Savage Instinct was published by Inkshares in May, The Secret Sister by Canelo in April, and The Perfect Family Man by Canelo in October.



Here are some of my takeaways from this dizzying year:

  • Many would-be authors strongly believe that getting an agent and an offer of publication means their troubles are over and they won't have another anxious moment. That's like saying, once the wedding is over, you'll never need to worry again! Publication opens up a whole new set of concerns: reviews—how will the readers respond? Will they love the book and become your newest fan, or will they pan it or worse still DNF it! Reviews are all-important. Publishers watch them, future promos are dependent on them. Writers find themselves obsessively tracking them!!
  • You can't sit back on your laurels and kick up your feet for more than a few days, because if you want to stay in the business, you need to keep writing the next one - or two - or maybe even a few more, just in case the other two are rubbish!
  • Accept that not everyone truly understands the amount of time, effort, skill and imagination it takes to write a novel. You may end up with 90,000 words, but that word count is a result of scouring your imagination for the best, most original ideas; extensive structural editing, careful revisions; backbreaking editing sessions and a whole lot of self-doubt and angst. So be prepared not to receive the level of adoration or appreciation you think you deserve—especially from those close to you, some of whom may not even read or comment on your masterpiece! It's not personal. People are busy. Learn to find your own satisfaction.


  • Reader feedback is the force that drives you to keep going. I've had some incredible feedback from readers about my books. Dedicated beta readers who take the time to read early drafts and give honest feedback are an invaluable help. Reviewers on Instagram, Tim Tok and Facebook are a dedicated army whose support is inspiring. I can't tell you how wonderful it is to wake up and see a list of Instagram notifications from readers who read your work and have taken the time to post thoughtful reviews and eye-catching pictures featuring your novel. It was also a real thrill to receive personal fan messages and invitations to online and in-person book clubs. 
  • Don't go into writing for the money! Believe me, there are easier ways to make a buck! And if you don't like waiting for your money then this is definitely the wrong career for you. While some writers hit the bestseller jackpot and get movie deals and spots on Reese's Book Club, most writers toil long hours and make sporadic money, many working other jobs to keep afloat. Do it for the love of it! If you can.


  • Other writers are generous with their friendship and form an incredibly supportive network. One of the best aspects of this year was meeting other writers and sharing our experiences, answering each other's questions and generally reassuring each other that we weren't bonkers for taking the road we've chosen. I've also discovered that some bestselling authors truly believe in paying it forward and have been floored by their generosity in providing reviews and shoutouts.
So those are just a few of my takeaways from an incredible year that has been an absolute rollercoaster! I'll be posting again soon with other book news and reviews of some terrific books I've read this year, but I simply have to mention one novel by an author from my home province. If you're looking for something witty and suspense filled, then The Retreat by Sherri Smith is one for you. See review below.




This fast-paced, captivating thriller is a hidden gem featuring fresh, original characters that jump off the page and a tone that is wry, witty and laugh-out-loud hilarious at times in its send-up of the wellness industry and its pretensions. Reminiscent of Liane Moriarty's earlier novels, this book is far funnier than some of the more hyped books out there that involve groups of disparate people thrown together in challenging locales where inevitably someone dies. The central character, Katie, is a washed-up child star, with no direction, now living a totally messed-up life. When her future sister-in-law, the perfect Brit, Ellie, suggests they go for a wellness weekend to a wilderness camp famous for its hallucinogenic tea ceremony, Katie invites her two college friends along, unaware of the personal crises in their lives. The camp is run by the Uber-hip, good-looking and promiscuous Dr. Dave and his much older wife, Naomi, a wealthy ex-student who ruthlessly keeps the admirers at bay. When a bloodied knife is found and a guest is missing, the hi-jinks begin and suddenly everyone is concealing secrets. This is such an entertaining read, told from four points of view, each with a unique, distinct voice. I highly recommend it.

BOOK NEWS and REVIEWS

NEW BOOK COMING DECEMBER 2023!! I'm so excited to tell you about my upcoming new novel from Severn House Publishers (a division of Canon...