Monthly Archives: September 2016

Happy ‘Everybody Reads YA’ Sunday

Welcome to ‘Everybody reads YA’ #SundayBlogShare.

Today I’m posting an excerpt from my contemporary teen novel And Alex Still Has Acne which features two teen boys, Alex and Sam, and Alex’s younger sister Nicky, as they come to terms with alcohol, anorexia, adoption – and other stuff starting with other letters of the alphabet. Oh, and acne.


And Alex -cover“Well, what now?” asked Alex after a while, as he wiped cheesy smears off his shirt with the inside of his blazer.

“There’s no more food I’m afraid.”

“No, stupid, I meant what now about tracking down your mum.”

“Oh. I’m not so sure it’s a good idea after all.”

Alex looked at his friend exasperatedly.

“You can’t pack in now – we’ve hardly started. And shouldn’t you be more worried that she wasn’t in any of the places you expected, rather than less?”

“Course I’m worried – just don’t know what to do for the best.”

“Well,” said Alex, looking meaningfully at the mobile phone tucked into the corner of the table. “You could check her messages again.”

Sam raised his eyebrows. “You’ve changed your tune.”


Life 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 him and making him promise not to tell anyone. Then Nicky goes missing and only Alex feels he knows where to find her. But is Sam anywhere around to help?


For  more of my stories go to: festive-treats

Note: Festive Treats is currently on Amazon as a free download.


Write about what you know?

Aspiring authors are often told to ‘write about what you know.’ Advice that seems to have been taken by the successful ones in patchy form, as far as I can see. It is true Ddickensickens used his childhood experiences when writing several of his novels – David Copperfield, for
example. But he also wrote about social issues that concerned him, like the education system in Hard Times.

I don’t think JK Rowling had much experience as child in a boarding school for wizards. Nor, before writing her adult books, did she spend much time working in a detective agency. And it is probably her concern with social issues that prompted the writing of A Casual Vacancy, rather than personal experience.

Mostly, both writers have used their imaginations, skillful plotting, and some judicious research, to get under the skin of their characters and craft stories and scenarios to captivate their readers. As a result, their book sales have been the envy of most of the rest of us humble pen wielders.

When I started writing Girl Friends, it was based on my own work experience, and a young woman (Courtney) who was a combination of several girls I had met over the years. All of Girl Friends - coverthem wanted to do well and move on from their rotten home lives. In most cases they failed, and found themselves dragged back down – usually because they got pregnant in their teens by someone who would prove to be a hopeless partner and father. It was good to write about someone who looked as if she was going to make it – and being a work of fiction, of course she does!

Her friend Grace, however, is much more a creation from my imagination. I tried to imagine what it would be like to be born into her circumstances and how it was she would fall in with someone like Kal and end up being trafficked for sex. When I first attempted to get the book published, some publishers were afraid to handle it: child sexual exploitation – and the racial connotations associated with it in many cases – was a hidden crime until exposed by the Times newspaper a few years ago. The book was eventually published by the American Solstice publishing group just as some critical court cases were dealt with in Britain.

Now there is a lot more knowledge available about child sexual exploitation and how it happens. My story would seem to be on the tame side rather than sensationalising a particularly pernicious grooming process for the young victims. But Grace’s plight has struck a chord with some of the current workers in the field – to the extent that one actually asked me if it was based on personal experience.



The New Anthology from Solstice is out now!

The latest Solstice anthology:

From castles to forests, humans to animals, bards to the rainbow bridge—journey into magical lands, imaginations, and adventure with seven talented Solstice Publishing authors. Cats prepare for one of their kind to cross the rainbow bridge. A minstrel assists in protecting the kingdom he serves. A queen is in hiding… and other stories that will fire the imagination of all who enter this realm.

The anthology contains one of my layest stories, The Ghost Queen, based on Shakespeare’s The Winters Tale. Wil Hermione ever choose to return to the world of the living, and give up the quiet comforts and security of being dead?

realms of fantastic stories-001Realms of Fantastic Stories Vol 1 features K.C. Sprayberry, Stephen St. Clair, Rocky Rochford, Rick Ellrod, KateMarie Collins, Debbie De Louise, and Margaret Egrot with tales sure to delight and please.


Why an Anthology?

Everyone knows what an anthology is – it’s a collection of short stories or poems. Sometimes they are all by the same author, sometimes by several different authors. Sometimes they are themed – love, horror, sci-fi, for instance.

Sometimes they are collections of stories by writers just starting out (like the collected works of a writers’ group where modest sales are guaranteed – at least to the group members who have a story included). Sometimes they are the selected works of someone at the top of their game and sell well. (Here the name of the Canadian short story writer, Alice Munro, springs to mind).

But does the word anthology really mean what we think it does? And where did the term come from?  My Collins dictionary describes it as a collection of literary passages or works, especially poems, by various authors, (from the Latin anthologia.) So far, so boring and predictable. But it’s origins become more intriguing when you discover that the Romans probably pinched the word from the Greeks. To the ancient Greeks, an anthology was a collection of bunch-of-flowersflowers (from the Greek words anthos – flower, and Legein – to collect). Much more exotic!

My latest blossom, is appearing in a Solstice anthology, Realms of Fantastic Stories, to be published at the end of the week. The story, called The Ghost Queen, is part of my Shakespeare’s women project and in it we hear from Hermione, the queen in The Winter’s Tale – does she really want to return to court life, sixteen years after her husband the king thought she’d died?

Hermione, by the way, is Greek for of the earth. I’m thrilled that this flower I’ve just grown has now been taken from the earth and selected for the latest Solstice bouquet – sorry, anthology!




Happy Everybody Reads YA Sunday

Happy ‘everybody reads YA’ Sunday Blog Share.

Today I’m sharing another excerpt from my contemporary teen novel Girl Friends.

Blurb: Of all the things worrying Courtney, her best friend being exploited for sex isn’t one of them. But then another friend describes to her what the tell-tale signs are – and Grace ticks every box! Now her only worry is – can she get through to her friend before it is too late?


“That’s interesting. But I can’t see Grace falling for anything like that. She may not work hard at school or get great grades, but she’s not stupid.”

“Well, maybe she believed that Kal had something more to offer her, something she really, really wanted. Something that made the loss of your friendship, the rows at the home, and missing school etcetera, all worthwhile.”

“Oh, God, yes,” I am about to sit down again, but Hannah’s words deliver another shock. “He’s told her he can put her in touch with a man who can arrange a modelling contract for her. She’s mad to be a model— would do anything for it.”

“There you are then.” Hannah sounds almost pleased, and this makes me so angry I nearly hit her.

“But that solves nothing. We think we may know now why she’s behaving like she is, and can guess it won’t work out for her. And aren’t we the clever ones. But meanwhile, she believes she has a modelling contract almost in the bag. In fact she’s going today to meet this mythical man to get it sorted.”

“Oh, Christ!” Both Hannah and Laurence turn to me with a look of dismay.


Girl Friends - coverLinks:

Meet author Diana Rubino

Today, American author Diana Rubino talks about her fascinating new novel, Dark Brew, a time travel romance that takes you to medieval Ireland from modern-day Cape Cod. What’s more, at the end of the blog, there is an excerpt from the book to tempt you into reading more.

diane-darkbrewpaperbackDARK BREW –  Learn from the past or forever be doomed to repeat it. 

Accused of her husband’s murder, druid Kylah McKinley travels back through time to her past life in 1324 Ireland and brings the true killer to justice.

Two months of hell change Kylah’s life forever. On her many past life regressions, she returns to 14th century Ireland as Alice Kyteler, a druid moneylender falsely accused of murdering her husband. Kylah’s life mirrors Alice’s in one tragic event after another—she finds her husband sprawled on the floor, cold, blue, with no pulse. Evidence points to her, and police arrest her for his murder. Kylah and Alice shared another twist of fate—they fell in love with the man who believed in them. As Kylah prepares for her trial and fights to maintain her innocence, she must learn from her past or forever be doomed to repeat it.

An interview with Diana about Dark Brew diane-libraryheadshot

Where did the story come from?

The story took 12 years from start to finish. I’m a longtime member of the Richard III Society, and in the spring of 2004, I read an article in The Ricardian Register by Pamela Butler, about Alice Kyteler, who lived in Kilkenny, Ireland in 1324, and faced witchcraft charges. After her trial and acquittal, she vanished from the annals of history. I couldn’t resist writing a book about her.

How did you decide to make it a paranormal?

I’m a believer in reincarnation, and I go on paranormal investigations whenever I can. I’ve gone on several past life regressions. Cape Cod has a lot of history and paranormal activity. I’ve been on many ghost walks and ghost hunts there. I wanted to connect Alice in the past with someone in the present, her reincarnation.

Was Alice Kyteler famous in 14th century Ireland?

Not at all but she was the richest woman in Kilkenny, and for that reason the villagers hated her, especially the men. They accused her of killing her first husband, but she was acquitted. Then they accused her of killing her fourth husband, John LePoer, with witchcraft, the accusations more absurd than those of the 1692 witch hysteria in Salem, Massachusetts. Chancellor Edward de Burgh arrested Alice because her stepsons claimed she had murdered John by casting a witch’s spell with malefecia…and she used the enchanted skull of a beheaded thief as her cauldron.

She went to trial and her dear friend Michael Artson had her acquitted, but she vanished into the annals of history. According to legend, she went to England. But no one knows for sure.

Why did you make it a time travel?

Because my heroine, Kylah McKinley, is a druid and has done many past life regressions, she knows she’s the reincarnation of Alice. So she has to go back and find out what happened to Alice, because too many weird things are happening to her in this life that parallel Alice’s life.

Kylah lives on my beloved Cape Cod. She’s a druid, a ghost hunter and owns a new age store in a restored Revolutionary War-era tavern. She was also the target of a hit-and-run. Another hit-and-run crippled her husband Ted. That’s no coincidence—she’s convinced someone’s out to get them both.

She brews an ancient Druid herb mixture, goes back in time and enters Alice’s life to find out exactly what happened and who killed her husband.

These two months of hell change her life forever. Kylah’s life mirrors Alice’s in one tragic event after another—she finds her husband sprawled on the floor, cold, blue, with no pulse. Evidence points to her, and police arrest her for his murder. Kylah and Alice shared another twist of fate—they fell in love with the man who believed in them. As Kylah prepares for her trial and fights to maintain her innocence, she must learn from her past or she’s doomed to repeat it.

Have you ever spoken to Pamela Butler, who wrote the article about Alice?

Yes, we’ve corresponded. She lives in New Mexico, so we’ve never met in person. I asked Pam what inspired her to write about Alice. I’d never heard of Alice until I read her article, “Witchcraft & Heresy. She replied:

“You asked why I wrote about Alice Kyteler, who preceded Richard by a century-and-a-half. I only wrote it because others on the listserv encouraged me to write about witchcraft, a subject about which I knew very little. I ordered three books from on the subjects of witchcraft, heresy, Satanism, etc. for research reasons. That was my basis, plus I searched the Internet. The Malleus Malleficarum was published in 1487, just two years after Richard’s death, so it’s almost contemporary. I chanced across Alice in this reading and thought that it was an interesting case. Witch burning was fairly rare in Ireland, and wasn’t as bad in England at that time as it had been on the Continent. I wish that the M.M. had never been published; still, the fact that it was published and accepted may reveal the mindset of those times.”

An excerpt from Dark Brew

Kylah shut Ted’s den door. She couldn’t bear to look at the spot where he gasped his last breath. His presence, an imposing force, lingered. So did his scent, a blend of tobacco, pine aftershave and manly sweat. Each reminder ripped into her heart like a knife. Especially now with the funeral looming ahead, the eulogies, the mournful organ hymns, the tolling bells . . .

These ceremonies should bring closure, but they’d only prolong the agony of her grief. She wanted to remember him alive for a while longer, wishing she could delay these morbid customs until the hurt subsided.

Throughout the house, his essence echoed his personality: the wine stain on the carpet, the heap of dirty shirts, shorts and socks piled up in the laundry room, the spattered stove, his fingerprints on the microwave. But she couldn’t bring herself to clean any of it up. Painful as these remnants were, they offered a strange comfort. He still lived here.

“I’ll find that murderer, Teddy,” she promised him over and over, wandering from room to empty room, traces of him lurking in every corner. “I’ll do everything in my power to make sure justice is served. Another past life regression isn’t enough anymore. I know what I have to do now. And I promise, it will never, ever happen again—in any future life.”

She inhaled deeply and breathed him in. “Go take a shower, Teddy.” She chuckled through her tears as the doorbell rang. She cringed, breaking out in cold sweat when she saw the black sedan at the curb.

“Not again.” No sense in hiding, so she let the detectives in.

“Mrs. McKinley, we need your permission to do a search and take some of your husband’s possessions from the house,” Nolan said.

“What for?” She met his steely stare. “I looked everywhere and found nothing.”

“Mrs. McKinley, the cupboard door was open, four jars of herbs are missing, and the autopsy showed he died of herb poisoning. Those herbs,” Nolan added for emphasis, as if it had slipped her feeble mind. “Foxglove, mandrake, hemlock—and an as-yet unidentified one,” he read from a notebook. “The M.E. determined it was a lethal dose.”

Sherlock Holmes got nothin’ on him, she thought.

“Where’s this cupboard, ma’am?” Egan spoke up.

“Right there.” She pointed, its door gaping exactly the way she’d found it that night. Nolan went over to it and peered inside.

“Ma’am, it would be better if you left the house for a half hour or so. Please leave a number where you can be reached,” Egan ordered.

Nolan glanced down the hall. “Where is your bedroom?”

What could they want in the bedroom? “It’s at the top of the stairs on the right. But we didn’t sleep together,” she offered, as if that would faze them. It didn’t.

After giving him her cell number, she got into her car and drove to the beach.

An hour later, she let herself back in and looked around. They’d taken the computer, her case of CDs, her thumb drive, her remaining herb jars, Ted’s notebooks, and left her alone with one horrible fact: This was now a homicide case and she was the prime suspect.

Purchase Dark Brew:

Kindle Amazon Paperback B&N Nook The Wild Rose Press–Paperback & Ebook

Contact Diana:

Website Blog Facebook Twitter Goodreads

#RomanticIdea:  Cook an authentic Italian meal, cheese ravioli with marinara sauce, garlic bread, a salad with Italian olive oil, a fine Italian red wine, and a sweet gelato for dessert. Then put on some Sinatra CDs and dance the night away! My favorite Sinatra album is Come Dance With Me We always had Sinatra playing in my house when I was growing up. Nearly everyone from Hoboken or anywhere near Hoboken has a Sinatra story; being from Jersey City, I have a Sinatra story: my great-grandmother and his mother Dolly were very good friends. Unfortunately I never asked Great Grandma about what she and Dolly talked about but I’ll bet a lot of juicy gossip went around!





Happy Everybody Reads YA Sunday

Happy everybody reads YA Sunday blog share!

Today I’m sharing another excerpt from YA novel – Girl Friends.

Girl Friends - coverGrace looks at her watch—I notice for the first time that it is new. A new alertness comes over her. She digs into her bag and gets out her make-up—peering into the mirror to touch up an already flawless face. She looks across at me.

“Oh, Cor, you do look a mess. Here.”  She starts to lay about me with the powder.

“What the…? Heh, get off.”  I pull away but she has grabbed me firmly and continues to powder my nose. Then she releases me and sits back.

“Well that’s sorted the greasy shine. Now for the eyes.”

“No, Grace, lay off. I don’t really go for much make–up.”

“Time you did,” she retorts, advancing on me with eyeliner. “I’ve bought you your tea, remember, so you do as I say.” That’s true, so I sigh and let her get on with it, even allowing her to re-style my hair, pulling some bits across my face, and pushing other bits behind my ears. Across the restaurant, I see the lads behind the counter looking at us. Surely it must be against company rules to use the dining area as a beauty parlour and one of them will come across and throw us out. But it’s not busy and they are just laughing, enjoying the show. Eventually she is finished and stands up to look at me from all angles.

“Mm, not too bad.” She is obviously pleased with her work. “You should wear a tighter top.”  She pulls at mine from behind and then looks round at the front, before sighing and letting it hang loose again.  “But first, you will need to get yourself a proper bra—that one is doing nothing for you—it must be a least one size too big—and the cups are too small—so you’re just all saggy.”

“Yeh, well, it’s an old one of Mum’s that she’s got too fat for,” I reply.

“Why am I not surprised?” Grace rolls her eyes. “Time you thought about yourself a bit,” she adds reprovingly. “You’ve got to make the most of your assets— use them or lose them as they say.”

It is news to me I have any assets worth making anything off in that department and I pull away from her, embarrassed. “I’m off to the loo,” I say, heading that way as I speak.

Blurb: Courtney and Grace are best friends. But will this friendship hold when Grace starts dating a young man who showers her with presents and promises to turn her into a model? And when Courtney finally realises that the new boyfriend is nothing more than the leader of a gang out to exploit teenage girls, is it too late to rescue Grace?

Girl Friends has been described as ‘unputdownable’ in a recent five-star review on