Monthly Archives: November 2016

Festive Treats for the Christmas Stocking.

Looking for something to get for a family member, or friend, with limited time or a short attention span? Well, you could try them on an anthology. There are plenty to choose from on Amazon Books – and you could treat yourself to one too whilst you were at it.

The beauty of an anthology at this time of year is that, when there is so much going on, it offers a chance to get away from the festive noise and chaos and engross yourself in a complete story that only takes up about 15 – 30 minutes of your time. Then, relaxed and re-energised, you can throw yourself back into the fray.

By definition, an anthology contains a choice of stories so, if one doesn’t grab you, you can swiftly move onto another. A new anthology, full of a great variety of stories, is Festive Treats, which was recently published by the Birmingham based Pigeon Park Press. It has the added bonus of being FREE, and would make a great digital stocking filler – just check out the reviews on Amazon before you download.


Festive Treats – A delicious selection box of Christmas tales.


Festive Treats is a selection box of Christmas tales stuffed full of delicious delights and surprises. Fifteen of the best writers around present you with seasonal stories that are, by turns, joyful, wondrous, bittersweet and heart-warming.

Includes stories by:

AA Abbott

Justin Lee Anderson

James Brogden

David Croser

Margaret Egrot

Katharine D’Souza

Simon Fairbanks

Heide Goody

Iain Grant

Hilary Mortz

Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn

Suzanna Stanbury

RE Vance

A Stuart Williams

Debbie Young

If you like a story by a particular author you can go to their Amazon author page and see what else they have written.                                                                                                                                                       My author page is:



Happy Everybody Reads YA Sunday.

Welcome to another ‘Happy Everybody Reads YA’ #SundayBlogShare.

Today I’m sharing an excerpt from s short story called Sleeping Beauty. I will be re-reading it myself over the next few weeks as I am going to have a go at turning it into a screenplay. I’ve just been to a workshop on writing film scripts, and think this has some of the basic elements for a first attempt. We’ll see how it works out in the New Year.

sleeping beautyExcerpt:

“Get out, get out! You little bitch!” my stepmother had screamed. Sukie wasn’t technically my stepmother, not having properly married my Dad. She’d just drifted into our lives a year or so after Mum died, stayed over one night, and never moved out. I thought Dad was a bit scared of her, to be honest. Sukie was beautiful, with long blond hair (dyed, of course) and if she laughed when she and Dad had visitors it was like wind chimes tinkling in a gentle breeze. Everybody thought she was charming, and beautiful, and Dad was so lucky to have met her, him being a widower with a small kid (me) in tow. What a help she must be to him, now he was no longer lonely, and had a mother figure again for his little girl. I think Dad thought that too, at least at first.


Dawn has been in a coma for a year and is visited in hospital every day by her devoted father, occasionally by the ghost of her dead mother, and once by her vicious stepmother. Unable to move a muscle she monitors their coming and going and relives the events that lead to her accident. She yearns to wake up and live like a teenager again, but nothing so far has been able to rouse her from her deep, deep sleep. Then, on her fourteenth birthday she is visited by a mysterious delivery boy with a strange package.


Sleeping Beauty is available as a single story download from the above link. It also appears in the anthology, First Love, published by Solstice.


Small Presses vs. the “Big Houses” – Something for Everybody

diane-libraryheadshotOn my blog today I am delighted to host the author Diana Rubino again (see  my author interview in September) . Here she talks about the pros and cons of the small presses, and encourages aspiring authors to have a go.

At the end of this blog is information on her New York Saga, and where to buy it.

Diana – Writing for a small press can be a stepping stone to a career leap—or it can be your entire career. Since no author can plan on a best-selling career with a big house, pitching to the small presses can be your ticket to publication.

The independent “indie” publishers are much more willing to take chances on new writers and cultivate their talents. Sure, their bottom line is important, as it is to any for-profit business, but they don’t have the time constraints the big houses have. This gives their editors the luxury of taking more time to work with authors, and spend much more one-on-one time with them on technical details such as point of view, character consistency, and basic grammatical and style issues. Small presses also accept unagented material, so authors can avoid the Catch-22 of not being able to land an agent because they’ve not yet established a track record.

Most likely, your small press book will be POD (print on demand) which means copies will be printed only when a customer orders one. It’s up to the author to visit his/her local bookstores, and some stores will order a few dozen copies, arrange for a signing, and give your books a valuable promotional push. But most small presses run on tight budgets, and the author must take the necessary time and funds to finance a promotion; i.e. costs of designing a website and keeping it current, ads on internet sites such as BTS Book Reviews and BookDaily,, business cards, bookmarks and other giveaways, travel expenses to signings and conventions, etc.

I always like to inspire aspiring authors by telling my unique story: I received my first publishing contract 18 years after writing my first novel. I believe it was my ninth written novel that became my ‘first novel’ – the first that got published, with British publisher Domhan Books (a small press). At the time I signed my first contract, it was the fastest-growing publisher in the U.S. Unfortunately, the owner suffered health problems and could no longer actively run the company, but my five-year tenure there earned me many rave reviews and a Romantic Times Top Pick award. I never gave up on my dream of that ‘big house’ contract, but continued submitting to small presses, eventually landing contracts with Dreams Unlimited, Stardust Press, Eternal Press, The Wild Rose Press, Solstice Publishing, and Sarah Publishing. Although my agent is currently submitting my most recent works to the big houses, the small presses have been very good to me. I’ve had my backlist republished with Solstice Publishing and The Wild Rose Press, and I do promotional offers such as offering my Ebooks at discounted prices on significant dates, i.e., the anniversary of the Lincoln assassination or the end of Prohibition. The promo I do with Twitter, Goodreads and the author/reader groups on Yahoo have brought me reviews and sales that I’m happy with. My editors at The Wild Rose Press and Solstice Publishing are among the best editors I’ve ever worked with. They make my work sparkle. There’s a lot of talent out there in the small press world, and I advise any aspiring author to submit to them, because they offer great opportunities to start your writing career on the right path.

A few caveats to look out for are the vanity presses, which require that authors pay to have their books published. Some writers decide to go this route and self-publish. Of course some of these books have become best sellers. But make sure you choose a royalty-paying publisher if you don’t wish to go the self-published route.

Small presses have always been around, but with the miracle of the internet, many more are thriving, and authors have the choice of a great variety of outlets for their work. Some specialize in certain genres. You need to do your research to find the best fit for your work. But never before have authors had such a wide range of publishers; something for every taste. Now that the Kindle and other E-book readers have come down in price and their sales are increasing, E-book sales have exploded. E-books have been around since the 90s, but never before have they been so popular.

With the outlets that small presses have to offer, so many more writers than ever before can now share their talents with the world, which shrinks more and more every day!

THE NEW YORK SAGA by Diana Rubino diana-ny

Poverty, Prejudice and Murder Won’t Stand in the Way of True Love

The New York Saga spans three generations of the McGlory family, starting in 1894 amidst the poverty and crime on New York’s Lower East Side, through the wild, boozy years of Prohibition, and ending in 1963 as the country mourned President Kennedy’s assassination.

In Book One, FROM HERE TO FOURTEENTH STREET, it’s 1894 on New York’s Lower East Side. Irish cop Tom McGlory and Italian immigrant Vita Caputo fall in love despite their different upbringings. While Tom works undercover to help Ted Roosevelt purge police corruption, Vita’s father arranges a marriage between her and a man she despises. When Tom’s cousin is murdered, Vita’s father and brother languish in jail, charged with the crime. Can Vita and Tom’s love survive poverty, hatred, and corruption?

In Book Two, BOOTLEG BROADWAY, it’s 1932. Prohibition rages, the Depression ravages, and Billy McGlory comes of age whether he wants to or not. Musical and adventurous, Billy dreams of having his own ritzy supper club and big band. On the eve of his marriage to the pregnant Prudence, the shifty “businessman” Rosario Ingovito offers him all that and more: fame, fortune, his own Broadway musical.
Can anything go wrong for Billy? Only when he gets in way over his head does he stop to wonder how his business partner really makes his millions, but by then it’s far too late…

THE END OF CAMELOT begins on the day Camelot truly ended—November 22, 1963. The assassination of a president devastates America. But a phone call brings even more tragic news to Vikki Ward—her TV reporter husband was found dead in his Dallas hotel room that morning.

Finding his notes, Vikki realizes her husband was embroiled in the plot to kill JFK—but his mission was to prevent it. When the Dallas police rule his death accidental, Vikki sets out to find out who was behind the murders of JFK and her husband.
Vikki falls in love with Aldobrandi Po, the bodyguard her godfather hired to protect her. But he’s engaged to be married, and she’s still mourning her husband. Can they find happiness in the wake of all this tragedy?


The Wild Rose Press:

About Diana in her own words:

I’m a self-confessed history nut, my favorite eras being Medieval and Renaissance England, and all American history. I’ve written several novels set in England and the U.S., two time travel romances, a vampire romance, and an urban fantasy, FAKIN’ IT which received a Top Pick award from Romantic Times. I’m a longtime member of Romance Writers of America and the Richard III Society. In my spare time, I bicycle, golf, play my piano and devour books of any genre.




Happy Everybody Reads YA

Welcome to another ‘Happy Everybody Reads YA’ #SundayBlogShare. Last week my publisher, Solstice, organised a promotion on Amazon Books for my contemporary YA novel – Girl Friends. To my delight it reached the #1 slot in the UK and #4 in America in the ‘friendship’ category – and not far behind in ‘dating and sex’!

( #1 in Kindle StoreBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Literature & Fiction > Social & Family Issues > Friendship

( #4 in Kindle StoreKindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Literature & Fiction > Social & Family Issues > Friendship

Here is another excerpt from Girl Friends, this time from near the beginning of the story:

Girl Friends - coverThe front door slams, making the whole house shake. The pair of them are back and it is not good news. Good news would be if we only heard the slight click as the latch goes down. Then they would be coming straight up to bed, giggling and mumbling and we could all relax and get a bit of sleep. A slam means a row, which is scary.

Like lightening, my twin sisters, Josie and Mel, jump out of their own bed and into mine. I groan, and pretend to be put out but, to be honest, their small warm bodies against mine are comforting. “Don’t you dare pee in my bed,” I hiss at Josie, and she shakes her head without saying a word. Both have their thumbs in their mouths and are tense and shivery. I hug them both to try and comfort them, but I feel my own body becoming tense and shivery too.  We wait. We know any minute now the row will erupt again.


Nothing 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? And can Courtney and her new found friends rescue Grace before it is too late?


For more of my stories, try one of my amazon author pages – some stories are free!

Where did the word ‘blog’ come from?

I’ve been writing this blog since March, and never once given a thought as to where the word ‘blog’ came from. That is, until today, when I decided to do a bit of ferreting around on the Internet. Here is what I found.

Not surprisingly, the word is quite new – less than twenty years old. In 1997 Jorn Barger used the term ‘weblog’ to describe a discussion paper or informal website that was published on the World Wide Web. This was shortened to ‘blog’ by Peter Merholz in 1999. Both used the term as a noun only. But very shortly after, one Evan Williams used the term as both a noun and a verb, and also coined the term ‘blogger.’ So now you know!

Throughout this century the popularity of reading and writing blogs has grown enormously. You can find a blog for every human activity in a multitude of interpretations – news, politics, cooking, child care…. You name it, there’s a choice of blogs about it. We also have ‘micro-blogging’ (e.g. on Twitter) and ‘vlogs’ – video blogging.

By and large, blogs are benign ways of exchanging information between people of similar or compatible interests, advertising and informing people of your services (or latest book – see below!), or getting something off your chest. One can learn a lot of new stuff and make a lot of new friends via blogs. There is a dark side, however, especially in regard to news and especially, especially, politics. As Obama (who famously didn’t want to be parted from his Blackberry and the digital world when he became president) is quoted as saying:


‘If the direction of the news is all blogoshere, all opinions, with no serious fact checking, no serious attempts to put stories in context, then what you will end up getting is people shouting at each other across the void, but not a lot of mutual understanding.’


I don’t feel you need worry about Obama’s concerns too much when you are reading this blog. And, if you’ve read this far, here is a reward. Solstice Publishing has placed my latest YA novel – Girl Friends – on a free promotion for this Wednesday 16th November:

If an anthology is more to your taste, then you can read my story – Mary’s Christmas –  in the Pigeon Park Press anthology – Festive Treats. The anthology is free to download until Christmas.

(Check out the page on this blog re published work for more information)


Free YA e-book on Amazon next week

Girl Friends - cover

Hello and welcome to Everybody Reads YA #SundayBlogShare. Today I’m sharing another extract from my YA novel, Girl Friends, which my publisher, Solstice, is promoting for free on Amazon books on 15th and 16th November. (Yes, that’s next Tuesday and Wednesday, in plenty of time to put in a virtual Christmas stocking).



“I hate this miserable, sodding life,” I mutter to the unsympathetic darkness of our smelly, drab bathroom.

“Hate it, and nobody cares.” I carry on mumbling and swearing as I wipe my face on the hem of the bathrobe. Slowly, I pull myself together, shrug on the bathrobe, and head downstairs. Yes, I really have had enough. But meanwhile, I have to sort Mum out.


Nothing 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? And can Courtney and her new-found friends rescue Grace before it is too late?

Links:  Girl Friends:

Girl Friends is FREE to download on Tuesday 15th and Wednesday 16th GF cardNovember! And my story in Festive Treats is also available free until Christmas. This anthology, and all my novels and short stories can be viewed on my blog page for published work, or on my Amazon Author pages:



Remembering war-time in Coventry


Coventry city centre after the Blitz

Dusk on the 14th November 1940 in Coventry UK was just like any other chilly evening during the early stages of the Second World War. Then came the air-raids. Hitler had decided to blitz Coventry with bombs. He hoped to devastate the city and in doing so, break the morale of the British people. He devastated the city all right, but he soon found the Brits then were made of sterner stuff.


The bombed cathedral


My short play Not Tiggerty Boo Tonight commemorates the Coventry Blitz through the eyes of a teenage girl who set off for the cinema that night, only for the cinema to be bombed. The play is being read at one of the theatres in Coventry on Friday 11th November (Armistice Day).

Also being read is a short play, Dancing Cheek to Cheek, which gives a picture of the life of ordinary people in 1939. They were still feeling the effects the First World War whilst harbouring a growing expectation of another war.

So, if you’re in Coventry, and have the time, why not pop along to the Criterion Theatre, Earlsdon, Coventry? The plays start at 7.30pm, with the bar open from 7pm. Free admission.

If you can’t make it, but would like a copy of either script, you are welcome to send me a personal message, giving your email address, via Facebook:

Brief details of these two plays, and others, appear on another page on this blog, as does information about my published stories and novels.                                                                                   Look out for bargains! The anthology Festive Treats which contains a story I wrote (Mary’s Christmas) is currently free. The YA novel, Girl Friends, will be free to download on the 15th and 16th of November, and the YA novel, And Alex Still Has Acne, will be free to download on the 6th and 7th of December. All excellent virtual stocking fillers!!!