Friday, 20 December 2013

Interview with Effrosyni Moschoudi

I'm delighted to welcome Effrosyni Moschoudi to my blog today as we share a special interest in Greece. We first connected through Twitter and have since become good Facebook friends. She is so hard working and is a great example of how social media can work at its best. I hope you take the time to read her fascinating interview and become a new fan of her writing. 

About the writer
Effrosyni Moschoudi was born and brought up in Athens, Greece. She has a BSc in Computer Science and has worked for large companies for twenty years, mainly in the hotel and airline business. Her work background has been diverse and has involved among other things computer support, customer care, office management, aircraft material purchasing, logistics as well as translations of airline magazines. Effrosyni has been writing since childhood, starting with rhymes and poems and moving on gradually to short stories, articles and novels. Recently, she discovered the joys of blogging. Her future plans for her blog involve hosting fellow authors with interviews and reviews of their books. She lives in a quaint seaside town near Athens, Greece with her husband Andy and a naughty cat called Felix. She is passionate about books and movies and suffers from a strange fixation on Twilight and Robert Pattinson. She’s the author of ‘ The Necklace of Goddess Athena.’

About the book
Efimios is an ancient Greek and an unsung hero of Athens. He has saved the city countless times by undertaking time-travelling missions as instructed by Goddess Athena herself. Now an elderly man, he sends his son Phevos and his adopted daughter Daphne on a time-travelling quest to modern-day Athens. Mysterious as always, he only advises his children to look out for the signs without offering any explanations. Mystified, yet eager to obey their father’s will, Phevos and Daphne settle down in this new world, having been offered assistance by two orphaned siblings: Ksenia and Manos. New friendships and romantic love change their lives while their father’s covert purpose is gradually revealed. As the youngsters continue to unravel the secrets of their family past, inevitably they get caught up in the ongoing conflict between two Gods, one of which becomes their protector and the other, their worst nemesis. Who will prevail when the rival Gods meet again and will the mortal bystanders survive to tell the tale?

Welcome to the hot seat, Effrosyni – I’m delighted to welcome you here today.

Can you tell us what prompted you to first start writing? What was the first thing you wrote?

I have clear childhood memories of me sat down scribbling rhymes on a notebook about flowers and butterflies or the night sky. I am guessing it was my way to express my overwhelming sentiments and my mystification for the wonders of the world that surrounded me.

Can you summarise your latest work in just a few words?

“The Necklace of Goddess Athena” is a book about love for country, God and family with a few time travelers and Greek myths thrown in for good measure!

What was the inspiration for this book?

The first character that ‘visited me’ was Efimios. I recognised him at once as the embodiment of the patriotic spirit inside the Greek heart. So I set out to write a story about love for country. Once I had Efimios fully formed in my head, the rest of the characters and their situations just evolved naturally from there.

How do you decide on the names for your characters?

I never have to think up a name for a main character. They sort of ‘visit me’ as I like to say. It’s like they knock on my door. They say their name so I just smile and say ‘welcome’! I do have to think up names for some secondary characters though.

What are you working on next? Do you have a WIP?

I am working on a historical novel called “The Lady of The Pier”. It tells two different love stories and although the two heroines live in different places and times, somehow they are connected. It is set in Brighton, England in the 30’s and Corfu, Greece in the 80’s. The backbone of the story is the famous ‘West Pier’ in Brighton, which sadly no longer exists.

What has been the best part of the writing process…and the worst?

The best part was when I was reaching the end. The climax was rising all the more and the characters kept talking insistently in my head. Sometimes I had trouble falling asleep because of that, it was so intense. The worst part was once I had written the book and polished it as well as I could which was the time I had to let it go. It was emotional leaving my characters behind. They felt as dear as family to me by then.

Tell us about your travels.

I visit Corfu every year (my favourite place on earth!) as it is my mother’s homeland and I have family there. I also love to travel around Greece and especially to the islands such as Lemnos, Spetses, Milos, Sifnos and Santorini. I have visited various European destinations too; the most treasured ones being London, Brighton, Bruges, Rome and Paris.

Tell us about your childhood.

My fondest childhood memories involve my summers in Corfu in the company of my grandparents and cousins. Life in Athens was mostly about school and it was a bit mundane as we lived in a flat. However, during the weekends that we spent in our cabin on the seaside I enjoyed nature and was always seeking to befriend stray cats and dogs as well as play with the local children.

Do you plot your novels or allow them to develop as you write?

For my fantasy novel I didn’t plot a thing. I started with the first two chapters that were sort of ready in my head and then I took it one chapter at a time. However, the historical novel took a tremendous amount of research so I had to plot around various historical facts. I think it made me more organised in the process but I felt it restricted me somewhat too. Between the two, I definitely prefer having free reigns and to start on the journey of creative writing mystified, not having a clue what is to come next.

What book(s) are you reading at the moment?
It’s been about a year now that I’ve been reading a lot of historical fiction by British authors. I am currently reading ‘The Secret Keeper’ by Kate Morton. She is one of my favourites across all genres by the way.

If you were stranded on a desert island and could only take three books with you, what would they be and why?
The Lord of The Rings by J.R.R.Tolkien because it is the best escapism I have ever experienced, any book by Dan Brown to get the blood flowing when I feel bored and a Caveman Diet recipe book. Entertainment is important but let’s be practical: I’d also have to eat at some point!

Do you have any advice for new writers?

Follow your instinct. Don’t research for emerging trends and for what is fashionable. That would make you an imitator and what you want is to be original and fresh. You are unique and your book should reflect that. Don’t think what others would say about your book. Just write for YOU! When you write without passion, it shows. When you write with love in your heart, again it shows. Stephen King said it best: “You cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing, until it has been done to you.”

You can catch up with Effrosyni at the following sites:


Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Interview with June Gadsby

Today I'm delighted to welcome June Gadsby into the hot seat.  I discovered that June is a great fan of Christmas so it seems appropriate to be interviewing her today.

About the author

Born on the high banks overlooking the Tyne Valley in the small mining town of Felling, June Gadsby decided at the age of eight that she would one day be a published author. It seemed an impossible dream for a shy, working class child of a single parent living with grandparents who were barely literate - the grandmother overly strict, the mother neurotic and possessive. Always passionate about books, June started writing at the age of eight, but it was to be half a century later when her dream finally became reality. She is a prime example of why we should never give up the dream, whatever it is. However, it takes more than a simple desire to be successful; it takes talent, dedication, a lot of hard work and - oh, yes - luck. "I was told I would never be a writer and should stick to painting," June recalls. Since 2001 she has had more than twenty titles published, 7 full-length novels, the rest being pocket novels for The Peopole's Friend and My Weekly ( all published in Large Print). For June, the dream hasn't ended;  after a spell of health problems, she is now getting back on track. She lives by a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson: "Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm".

About her work

June is currently working on two books; one is a cosy crime set in the twenties called A Lady in the House. The other is a very long saga which was inspired by a true story. It's called The Last Monsoon and is set in Ceylon [as it still was at the beginning of the 20th century] and England covering 100 years of the life of a mixed-race woman who is eventually wrongly accused of a horrific murder and lives out her later life as an anonymous resident of a retirement home. [Don't want to say any more than that.]

Welcome June, now here goes.

Can you tell us what prompted you to first start writing? What was the first thing you wrote?

My mother used to read to me when I was very young and I made up my mind then that I would like to be an author. I believe I was about eight when I wrote my first story about chickens being menaced by a marauding fox and the main hen character had to outwit him. Even then I had to have suspense.

Can you summarise your latest work in just a few words?

“The Raging Spirit” was my latest publication. It’s an adventurous, romantic-suspense story set at the turn of the last century when a group of naturalists go on an expedition to the wild archipelagos of St. Kilda off the coast of north-west Scotland. One young woman accompanies them and she is the character around whom the story is woven. Mystery, murder and repressed passion abound.

 What was the inspiration for this book?

My naturalist husband visited these islands some years ago and the stories and the photographs he brought back with him fired my imagination.

 Did you do any research for the book?

I do a lot of research for every book I write – especially the historics. In this case I had a book on the history St. Kilda, which gave me as much information as I needed. After that there were some searches on Internet.

What does a typical writing day for you involve?

I used to write 12 hours a day every day, but I wouldn’t recommend that to anyone. It destroys you physically. Now, I tend to write in the afternoons only, but this will probably be extended now that I’m getting back on form after a long period of annoying health problems.

 How do you decide on the names for your characters?

It varies. Sometimes names will just jump out at me; other times I have great difficulty choosing, which often ends up with several name changes as I get into the story. I hate it when that happens. It can be so confusing. And I try to avoid names beginning with the same first letter or names which sound similar. If I get confused over these characters think what will happen to the poor reader.

 Do you have a favourite book by another writer?

I think I have to say ‘no’ to that. I like any author who keeps me on the edge of my seat from the first page and keeps the pages turning, whatever the genre.

Which writers have influenced your own writing?

When I was a child, I was an Enid Blyton fan. Later on it was Catherine Cookson, but a more modern writer who really impressed me with his style is Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. His prose is simple, yet so beautiful.

What are you working on next? Do you have a WIP?

I have two books on the go at the moment. A short cosy crime novel – A Lady in the House. And a long saga of mystery, murder and intrigue covering about 100 years called The Last Monsoon. I’ve been working on the latter for a long time, trying to sort out the best way to treat it. Although it’s pure fiction it was inspired by a true story and is the most difficult work I’ve ever attempted.

What has been the best part of the writing process…and the worst?

For me, the best part of writing is putting flesh on the bones of both plot and characters, and then letting the whole thing flow. The worst part is coming up with a synopsis. I always leave this to the end, because I don’t always know how things will work out. Even then, I find it difficult to condense a full-length novel into just a few words.

Tell us about your travels.

I don’t travel any more, but in the past I travelled to the usual European countries and later I was lucky enough to go with my husband, Brian, who led natural history tours for Swan Hellenic. We visited places such as Sri Lanka, Kenya, Patagonia, Argentina, Chile and The Galapagos Islands. These countries have given me some wonderful memories and often form backgrounds in which I set my novels.

Tell us about your childhood.

I’m a war baby, the only child of a single parent. For the first ten years of my life I lived with my grandparents in their miner’s cottage high up on the banks of the River Tyne in a small town called Felling. My grandfather was a miner, my grandmother was barely literate. From the age of 21 months I started to draw recognizable images and by the time I was eight I was already becoming proficient. However, I surprised everybody at that time by saying that I wanted to become an author. I started writing stories. I went to the local school and did well, though because of exam nerves, I didn’t get beyond Secondary Modern education and left school at the age of 15.

Most writers have some quirks – what are yours?

I don’t know whether this can be considered a quirk, but I firmly believe in omens that give me ideas and inspiration. Also, I can never start a new book without tidying up my office. I like starting with a clean palette.

 Do you plot your novels or do you allow them to develop as you write?

A bit of both, really. I need to have a clear beginning and a positive ending, with a middle that’s like a cauldron into which I throw all sorts of ingredients and mix well. I’ve just thrown aside a novel I was trying to write without plotting. It just didn’t work for me. However, if I plot too comprehensively it can tend to wander from the mapped out track and that leads to complications. So, my advice to anybody would be to plot the storyline loosely and see where it goes.

 Have you taken any creative writing courses and would you recommend them?

Not courses as such, but I did win a place on a Northern Arts Summer School many years ago and I enjoyed writing weekends at Beamish Museum in County Durham. I was a member of a writer’s group for a good number of years and found this both useful and inspiring. I would certainly recommend any would-be writer to mix with other writers on a regular basis. There’s nothing like being with like-minded people to spur you on.

What book[s] are you reading at the moment?
I've just discovered a wonderful writer called Dorothy Koomson and I'm reading her "Flavours of Love!", which is quite different from anything I've ever read and I'm loving it. She really knows how to write page-turning prose and I'm looking forward to reading more of her work.

Do you have any advice for new writers?

Well, first of all I would say find out whether or not you have what it takes to become a writer. Simply wanting to write isn’t enough. You need to be passionate about it. This isn’t something you can learn from a course. It’s already inside you. You need stories in your head crying out to be written and you need to write them with a fluidity of words and spirit. Don’t create flat, cardboard cut-out characters. Give them a sparkle so that they come alive on the page and in the reader’s mind. Do your research well and, finally, most important of all, don’t hold back on the editing. Once is not enough. Don’t end up with egg on your chin because of badly edited text. Finally, never give up. I didn’t and the years of work and waiting were worth it in the end.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Winter's Sweet Kiss

Winter’s Sweet Kiss

Publisher: Roane Publishing
Release Date: December 16, 2013

When Wayne Edwards moves to town, Lillian Douglas experiences stirrings she thought were long dead. Guilt ridden over betraying her deceased husband and the feelings Wayne inspires, Lillian reluctantly lets him in. Secrets of the past – an old promise emerges, but will it threaten their forever?

MELT By Shaya Roy
Newlyweds in an arranged marriage, Naina and Dev go to the mountains of Shimla, India in search of snow. Unfortunately, they find fifteen inches more than they expected.
Being snowed in with her husband is not necessarily a bad thing. It gives Naina an excellent excuse to snuggle up to her deep, quiet man, but every time Dev spurns her, a little more of her heart drips away. Melting the ice around her husband’s heart before the snow outside does might take more pride than Naina’s ready to surrender.

Angela is in love with someone she can never have--her best friend, Rebecca’s older brother.

Stranded in the bitter cold after a disastrous blind date with yet another company Christmas party looming, a standing offer from the boss’ nephew gets a little more appealing. Desperation. Not a good sign. Surely when Rebecca rescues her from the blinding snow, she can also convince Angela to just go to the party alone. She can always count on her best friend.

That is, as long as she never finds out about Angela’s secret crush.


Stella’s got everything she needs in life: a great job, a beautiful house, and her independence. But on last minute trip to the local Christmas tree lot she finds something, or rather someone, she desperately wants - Grayson. An emergency trip to Target, an unexpected wreath, and a little Christmas magic make the season much brighter.

SANTA BEBE By Lily Carlyle

Disillusioned by men and her belief that they see her only as an object, Bebe is determined to find a man with money. Her geeky, but unfailingly kind, next-door neighbor James tries to convince her of the possibility of real love, even as she reveals to him the troubled childhood that made her so cynical about relationships. When her mother dashes her hopes for a perfect Christmas, Bebe finds herself turning to James once again, and in the process, learning a lot about herself and the promise their relationship holds.

My review

This is a new anthology of sweet romantic stories by various authors. I was sent an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

The first story, ‘An unexpected Wreath’ by Annabelle Blume caught my attention with the character of Stella, who is determined to have the kind of Christmas she wants after becoming newly single. All five stories, though very different, centre around hopes and misunderstandings at Christmas time.

The second story in the anthology, ‘Santa Bebe’ by Lily Carlyle tells the story of Bebe who sells lingerie and is determined not to follow the same path as her mother. Her only hope is to marry a rich man as in the meanwhile she struggles to pay her tuition fees in order to better herself. Will love blossom between Bebe and her neighbor or will her past hurts stop her from seeing what is literally on her doorstep?

I loved the third story,’Melt’ by Shaya Roy’ as it’s a Christmas story with a difference set in India. Naina can’t understand why her husband is so distant towards her. Dev on the other hand has his own reasons for keeping his wife at a distance. It is a very touching story as you wait to see if they will manage to overcome their differences. Spending Christmas in Shimla so that Naina can see snow for the first time, Naina feels that she has lost her husband until she discovers a secret that warms her heart.

‘One in a million snowflakes’ by Michelle Ziegler warns what happens when you fall in love with the brother of your best friend. Nick is out of bounds warns her friend Rebecca and so Angela has to make the choice between the two of them. The bad dates that she has along the way as she tries to put Nick out of her mind will have you giggling and groaning.
The final story, ’Beginning of Forever’ by Terri Rochenski is unusual in the anthology is that it’s set in 1955 and moves to the early sixties. I probably enjoyed this story the most because of the evocation of a simpler time and the emotional heartstrings that it pulled. You may find yourself shedding a tear at this one, so hankie at hand is in order.
All in all a delightful collection of Christmassy short stories that anyone who enjoys sweet but not cloying romances will enjoy. 

Best for....

Dipping into with a sneaky mince pie and a Bailey's as you get into the mood for Christmas.

My rating

3.5 out of 5  - As with any anthology, there will be some stories that appeal more than others but all of them are worth a read.

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Sunday, 15 December 2013

Holiday Survival guide blitz- Jane O"Reilly

The Holiday Survival Guide
By Jane O’Reilly
Release 1st January 2014

Witty, clever, and sharp. It's going to be the holiday from hell...and that's just how Erica wants it.

When tabloid journalist Erica Parker is forced to take a holiday, she's determined to make it the most miserable holiday she possibly can, but not even her impressive imaginative powers could have come up with sharing a tent with survival expert Nathan Wilde.

Nathan was a married man with a successful TV show before Erica got to work on his life. Now the hottest man she’s ever met is single, furious, and he’s got her alone in the wilderness for three long days…

Goodreads Praise for Once A Bad Girl : Once A Bad Girl is an amazing debut by author Jane O’Reilly. It is actually hard to believe that it is a debut novel. The interlaced humour and sensuality in this story sucked me in from the start and held me captive throughout...”

Jane O‘Reilly writes for both Escape and Carina UK. The Holiday Survival Guide is her third title with Escape.
Perfect for fans of Victoria Dahl

About the Author

Jane O’Reilly started writing as an antidote to kids’ TV when her youngest child was a baby. Her first novel was set in her old school and involved a ghost and lots of death. It’s unpublished, which is probably for the best. Then she discovered contemporary romance, and that, as they say, was that. She lives near London with her husband and two children. Find her at, on Twitter as @janeoreilly, Facebook or email her at