Meet Author – Donna Alice Patton

 Donna Alice Patton is a gardening enthusiast from the Midwest who has won numerous donna-alice-patton-1trophies and ribbons for her flowers and vegetables. In the winter, when she can’t play in the dirt, she soothes her creativity by writing instead. She’s the author of five books for children including: Saddle Up!  – based on a real-life California horse camp, and a finalist in the 2017 Silver Spur Awards from the Western Writers of America, as well as Snipped in the Bud: A Tale from the Garden of Mysteries.

 What is the title of your latest book? The Mystery in the Maze – Book Two in the Maggie and Em series. When a friend tells them about an overgrown maze and a Donna 1missing treasure in gold coins, the twins are off on another adventure!

Blurb: What do ten silver dollars, an invasion of annoying relatives and a cackling voice in a mysterious, overgrown maze have in common? Eleven-year-old Maggie Brandenburg! While most of the US suffers through the Great Depression of the 1930s, all Maggie’s first-wish-on-a-star dreams have come true. Her family has a new home. Maggie and her twin sister, Em, are enjoying school and their first ever new bicycles. Best of all, her parents aren’t struggling to make a living. Life would be a bowl of cherries – except for those pesky, lip-biting worries.  If those vanished silver dollars aren’t found. . . if the relatives can’t be helped . . . and if that maze didn’t hold so many mysteries! Mysteries that are squeezing all the happiness out of Maggie’s dreams.  Can Maggie find her way through the tangled maze before time runs out?

 What are the most challenging aspects of being a writer? And the most rewarding? The most challenging aspects are the social media and non-writing related activities.  Self-promotion does not come easily to me! The most rewarding aspect is just writing and finishing a story – having it feel ‘done.’

What is your top tip for an aspiring writer? Keep writing! Don’t stop or be discouraged because publication doesn’t happen right away. Try new things like entering contests or writing something different. 

What are you working on at the moment? At the moment, I’m doing the final editing of a western for children. It’s part of a series – wish I could think of a clever name – but right now I call them the Jenny books. This one is The Cattle Rustling Catastrophe. It’s almost ready to send to the publisher. 

What do you like to read? My reading habits are hard to pin down!  I’m interested in just about everything. Currently I’m on an armchair travel kick – reading Heidi’s Alps, A Walk in the Woods, The Hitchhiker’s Diary, etc. Mysteries, westerns and historical fiction never let me down! 

Where can readers find you?

Donna 2Facebook: 1111365852244019/








Meet Author – Nancy Wood

Nancy grew up in various locations on the east coast of America, and now calls central California nancy_wood_author_photohome. She retired recently, having spent 35 years as a technical writer – translating engineer-speak into words and sentences, which she describes as like translating ancient Greek, where you’re not too familiar with the Greek part!

From September, 2016 to August, 2017, she and her husband wandered across the planet, visiting France, Spain, England, Sri Lanka, and New Zealand, ending up in the delightful city of Ghent, Belgium for three months. They’re still on the move, having just returned from Amsterdam, where they participated in a home exchange. They’ll be travelling in India in December and January. You can check out their travel blog at: In addition to travelling and writing, Nancy is a keen photographer, especially macro photography. She keeps a photography blog at:

What is the title of your latest book? My latest book is called The Stork. It was released by Solstice Publishing in February 2018. It’s the second book in the Shelby McDougall series. This book picks up Shelby’s life five and one-half years after the events in Book 1, Due Date. The Stork can be read after Due Date or as a standalone. I included plenty of backstory for a couple of reasons: I didn’t want to require that readers read Due Date before reading The Stork. And, because of the gap between the two books (six years), I knew that no one would remember any of the characters or the story line!

Book blurb for The Stork: It’s been five and a half years, and Shelby McDougall is finally on track. Back in Santa Cruz, California, she’s sharing an apartment with her nancy the stork-001brother, and is in her second year of criminal justice studies. She’s landed her dream job as intern to local PI Kathleen Bennett. And her stone-cold love life is heating up. Her past is behind her. Almost.

A late-night phone call puts Shelby’s perfectly ordered life into a tailspin. One of the twins she put up for adoption has been kidnapped, snatched from his home in the middle of the night. There are no witnesses. After meeting the family, Shelby knows something is off. The adoptive parents tell her the children don’t sleep. They eat constantly, and their IQs are off the charts, qualifying them for either Ripley’s Believe It or Not or a sideshow act in the circus.

Against her better judgment, knowing that every cop in the state of California is doing their best to find this boy, Shelby agrees to help. By the time she realizes she’s up against something powerful, something evil, it’s almost too late. As Shelby fights for her life and that of the kidnapped boy, she learns the shocking truth about her babies. And she also discovers her own truth, a lesson she has to learn over and over: her best instincts might have unexpected, damaging, consequences.

What are the most challenging aspects of being a writer? And the most rewarding? Most challenging: Making the time to write. For me, it’s something I have to do every day; it’s truly a practice. Most rewarding: Holding the actual book with an actual cover in my hands!

What is your top tip for an aspiring writer? Don’t let your inner critic wear you down. It’s there, it’s persistent, and it’s deadly. Best ignored!

What are you working on at the moment? I’m working on the third, and final book, in the Shelby McDougall series. I have the plot figured out, and am currently working on outlining each chapter. Once that’s done, I’ll start to write.

What do you like to read? Before I decided to write a mystery, I never read crime fiction. Now, it’s all I read! When I was growing up, there was Agatha Christie and that was about it. Now, crime fiction includes any subgenre of literature you can think of. Literary, social, cultural, historical, romantic, horror: it all can be incorporated in a mystery. There’s something very compelling about a one-size-includes-all genre! I also love a series; getting to know a character over time and in multiple settings.

Where can readers find you?

  • Website:
  • Email:
  • Buy links: 
  • The Stork:
  • Due Date: – About Due Date (Book 1 in the Shelby McDougall series): Surrogate mother, Shelby Nancy - due date-001McDougall, just fell for the biggest con of all—a scam that risks her life and the lives of her unborn twins. Twenty-three year-old Shelby McDougall is facing a mountain of student debt and a memory she’d just as soon forget. A Rolling Stone ad for a surrogate mother offers her a way to erase the loans and right her karmic place in the cosmos. Within a month, she’s signed a contract, relocated to Santa Cruz, California, and started fertility treatments. But intended parents Jackson and Diane Entwistle have their own agendaone that has nothing to do with diapers and lullabies. With her due date looming, and the clues piling up, Shelby must save herself and her twins. As she uses her wits to survive, Shelby learns the real meaning of the word “family.”

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The origin of your computer bug.

Not many people know about Grace Hopper who died in 1992. She completed her Ph.D. Grace_Hopperin mathematics at Yale in 1934 and taught mathematics at Vassar for the next ten years. During the Second World War she joined the naval reserve and retired in 1986 as a Rear Admiral.

She was also a renowned computer programming pioneer. Among her achievements are her involvement in designing the common business orientated language (COBOL) for the first commercial computer, and her role in standardising the computer languages used by the navy.

She was a clever and remarkable woman, but what merits her inclusion of a blog about writers, writing and language, is her coining of a new meaning for the word bug. The average author may not know much about computer languages and programming but, unless they are sticking firmly to pen and paper, few will have completed a manuscript without the occasional bug freezing their computer. Although the first computer bug was, in fact, a moth.

Here is how Grace Hopper tells the story: Moth dead from natural causes isolated on white.

Things were going badly. There was something wrong in one of the circuits. Finally someone located the trouble spot and, using ordinary tweezers, removed the problem, a two-inch moth. From then on, when anything went wrong with a computer, we said it had bugs in it.”

Whilst we are talking about female mathematicians, another little known fact is that a magazine for ladies know initially as the Ladies’ Diary and then the Woman’s Almanac was a mathematical publication. It started out, as you might expect with titles like that, with recipes and articles on health and beauty. Within a few years however these had been supplemented by mathematical puzzles and questions about arithmetic, geometry, algebra and astronomy that would be answered by the readership. Increasingly, this readership included well known (male) mathematicians. But mostly it was the women readers who supplied solutions, often under pseudonyms.

The magazine flourished – it was published for nearly one hundred and fifty years (1704 – 1841) and suggests that the stereotype of women who can’t do maths, was less dominant in the eighteenth century, than in our own time. The original editor believed in cultivating the female mind as well as offering tips for improving her attractiveness to potential husbands. “Wit join’d to Beauty … leads more Captive than the Conqu’ring Sword.

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Scrabbling for a new word?

The English language is constantly changing. If it didn’t, we’d still talk (and spell) like people in the time of Shakespeare, or Chaucer, or Beowulf. Which wouldn’t really be a beowulfproblem – the problem we have now is because, as the language has evolved, we have lost the ability to understand how it was written and spoken in centuries gone by. We don’t get the puns in Shakespeare (were they funny even then?) We realise words must have been pronounced differently in Chaucer’s time to make any rhythmic sense. And the different spelling / pronunciation / syntax in Beowulf makes that poem almost completely incomprehensible for modern readers and listeners. Though the word Hwaet is still about the most effective way to open a poem, ever. It certainly makes you sit up and listen – much more than its feeble translation – so.

New words enter the lexicon every year and, if they catch on, they find their way into dictionaries. Purists sometimes tut-tut, others just accept it; after all there is no rule forcing you to say ‘misspoke’ if you don’t want to – you can still use the good old-fashioned ‘lie.’

American English and British English have diverged over the years – not for nothing are we described as two nations divided by a common language (a ‘fanny bag’ sounds a bit saucy to an English woman – we prefer to strap on a ‘bum bag.’)

scrabbleThe gap has just got wider, causing consternation in Scrabble playing households. English players rely on the Collins Official Scrabble Wordlist, Americans rely on Merriam-Webster’s Official Scrabble Players Dictionary. The latter has just published its sixth edition with around 300 new words with which to out-play your opponent. On this side of the pond we have to wait till May 2019 for Collins to update their last edition.

American players can now put emoji and frowny on the board, alongside zomboid (like a zombie), twerk (dance whilst wiggling your bum, sorry – fanny), beatdown (massive defeat), sheeple (people who are docile / sheep like), bizjet (business jet). Handy two letter words that are now accepted, include ew (expression of disgust) and OK (I hadn’t realised this was not acceptable in the UK – but I’ve just checked in my Collins dictionary, where it is written as O.K.  – so therefore not okay).

Not that the Brits should despair. Although Scrabble was invented by a New Yorker, American players who want to compete internationally have to learn to use a larger board and use words only contained in the Collins dictionary. Which may come as a surprise to some – or as the latest Official Scrabble Players Dictionary would have it: Yowza!

Links to my books

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A Busy Day (not) Writing.

Up at 6am and off to the pool for a swim. After all a healthy body leads to a healthy mind, saves time showering at home and all those laps provide thinking time for plots and character development.

Home to cook and eat breakfast (can’t be creative on an empty stomach)

9am. Check emails, Twitter and Facebook. Need to keep in touch with putative readers and do a bit of marketing. So what if I get side-tracked by videos of cute kittens andP1000226 playful puppies – they could make it into a story one day.

10.30. Time to take the dog for a walk, fetch the paper, pick up a bit of shopping. Put a wash on when I get home – more thinking time.

11.30. Coffee break and read the paper. Not just to keep abreast of the news, but authorial research, you understand. There may be something about authors; or book, film, and play reviews. Even stuff about language and grammar which could come in useful for my blog.

12.00. My goodness, the room looks dusty, better give it a quick tidy. Put the wash out on the line, pull up a few weeds and some essential dead-heading whilst I’m out there. Clearing the decks so I can get down to work. Except I’m a bit hungry …

1pm. Time to prepare and eat lunch – food for the mind.

2pm. Another stint at Twitter and Facebook. And now it really is time to get down to work. Must just clean the keyboard and screen first. Spend time looking at the now Cauchy - pensivespotless screen and chewing my thumb.

4pm. Dog is fussing round wanting another walk – might as well give in as I’ll get no peace otherwise.

5pm. A little light Pilates. All that sitting staring at a screen is bad for the back – pre-emptive action needed!

5.30. Gosh, is that the time? I really MUST write something. 700 words simply fly along. Result!

Reward myself with a choc-ice. Still hungry, so …

7pm. Cook and eat supper.

8pm Attend friend’s launch – her 30th book. Buy a copy. She tells me she’s half way through the sequel. She promises to buy a copy of mine when I get round to finishing it. How rude!

10pm. Back home. Check what I’ve written during the day. Delete half of it. Check emails, Twitter and Facebook. Friend has already tweeted and added photos to Facebook about her launch.

11pm. Into bed to read the start of friend’s book. It’s really rather good – where does she find the time to write so much?

I do get some things finished! Links to my books


FREE E-Books all this week.

On my last blog I posted the blurb and excerpts from my two YA novels that are currently free to download from Amazon books. And many thanks to those of you who downloaded a copy – you’ve put me back into the best seller rankings again!

Today I am posting the blurb and an excerpt from my collection of short stories, CAST OFF, which is also free to download until the 22nd September.

Blurb: Have you ever thought what a Shakespeare character might be thinking or doing when she’s not on stage? Does she like the role that’s been created for her? Would she prefer a different plot? Or love interest? How does she really feel about all that cross dressing? In this light-hearted collection of short stories, the author suggests a few answers to these and other questions.

Excerpt from – Is Not this Well? (based on The Taming of the Shrew):

Cast OffI felt I had to put a stop to it. Making people laugh is all very well; but not at my expense it isn’t. Besides, his proposed plot was bound to spoil his reputation one day, when people became more sensitive about such matters. I felt he should be more careful, even though, seeing as this was early days in his career, he didn’t have much of a reputation to spoil. However, it was my character he was slagging off, and I had a right to look out for my own reputation, never mind his.

His study door was open and I marched straight in without knocking, which I knew he hated, and put both hands on the back of his chair.

“Why do you want to write a play that will make you look like a mis… a mis…” I started.

“Misogynist?” he filled in, slapping down his quill impatiently.

He was always like that. Good with words, even ones that were not yet in common use. And if he couldn’t find the right word—well, he just made one up!

I nodded. Misogynist sounded like just the word I was looking for. Having given me the word, he shrugged dismissively and, picking up his quill again, turned back to his writing. I poked him sharply. So what if he hated being interrupted when he was working, he still hadn’t answered my question.

“Why do you want to look like a misogynist, and why do you have to portray me as such a cow in the process? You know me well enough by now; I don’t mind playing a feisty character if that’s what you want – give as good as I get and all that jazz. But you’re making me out to be a monster.”

He shook his head crossly, and a small spray of dead skin floated from his scalp. He really ought to do something about that bald patch, I thought, as I brushed the dandruff from the front of my dress with theatrical sweeps. Also I noted, but only to myself, by letting his hair grow all long and wispy around the sides he was only drawing attention to it.

“You’ve got to be larger than life and frighten all the men away, or the rest of the play won’t work,” he said, without stopping writing.

“I’m okay with that,” I conceded grudgingly, but I wasn’t letting him off the hook yet. “But why do I have to be such a shrew as well?”

He paused again and turned towards me. This time his face lit up. He really is quite good-looking when he smiles, even with a flaky pate.

“Thanks Kate,” he said, and I’d have sworn he was about to reach round and pat my bum till he remembered what happened last time. “You’ve given me a great idea for the title.”

He turned his back again, shuffled through his papers till he came to the first page, and re-inked his quill. He scratched out the title at the top and wrote instead in big bold letters. The Taming of the Shrew. I don’t think I’ve ever actually thumped him before, but it was bound to happen sooner or later.


Links to free downloads (to 22nd September).

TIP: Try right clicking on the links  if left clicking doesn’t work.

Cast Off:

Links to all my books

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OFFER – Free e-books.

On Monday I am reading an extract from one of my short stories at a literary event in Warwick (Merchants, Swan Street, 7.30pm, price £3.00). The theme is ‘Once upon a word – stories and poems based on fairy tales and traditional stories’. My contribution is a modern twist on the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty. This story was published in the Solstice anthology, First Love, which is still available on Amazon. But Sleeping Beauty is no longer available as a stand-alone download.

However, to tie in with the Warwick event, three of my full length works will be FREE to download from 18th – 22nd September. You are welcome to download any or all of them. If you read them too, so much the better; and if you have time to leave a review (a few words will be fine, preferably positive, but honesty is important) you will be my best friend forever.

Here, as a teaser, are the blurb and closing sentences for the two novels. They are aimed at the YA market, but I know several adults who have read them and – to my face at least – said they enjoyed them.

And Alex Still Has Acne

And Alex -coverLife for fourteen year old Alex is OK most of the time. He enjoys school, has a best friend, Sam, and a pretty and only mildly irritating younger sister, Nicky. But then Sam starts acting strangely, and so does Nicky – and both insist on sharing secrets with Alex, making him promise not to tell anyone. The Nicky goes missing, and only Alex feels he knows where to find her. But is Sam anywhere around to help?

They stopped for a moment to look up as the sun finally sank beneath the horizon leaving, briefly, a pink and gold tinge to the landscape. Now they would have to walk most of the way in the dark; but tomorrow was going to be OK.

Girl Friends

Girl Friends - coverNothing is working out for Courtney, and even Grace, her beautiful best friend, has no time for her now she has a boyfriend who has promised to get her a modelling contract. Courtney senses something is wrong – what is Grace getting herself into? Can Courtney and her new found friends rescue Grace before it is too late?

And Laurence? You may be asking yourself why I haven’t mentioned him yet. What’s happened to that budding relationship? Well, tomorrow Laurence and I are going camping for a week before the autumn term starts at the college. So I’d better stop writing now – got to go and pack.

On Wednesday I’ll provide excerpts from my collection of short stories, CAST OFF, which is also free to download. Meanwhile, here are the links to the two novels and the anthology listed above. – FREE 18-22nd September – FREE 18-22nd September

 First Love Anthology

 Links to all my books

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