Featured Author – Roberta Goodman

Today Roberta Goodman, author and relentless supporter or her fellow indie-authors is on the blog to talk about herself and her book.

Hi Roberta, thanks for taking the time to answer a few of my questions. I’d like to start with some personal ones if you don’t mind. (She can’t answer because I’ve just offered her a huge chunk of delicious chocolate and she’s in heaven right now.)

Given the choice would you rather live in the city or a small town?

Since I’ve actually lived in both, Lucy, it’s a very interesting question to start off our interview. I grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where I lived for almost twenty-five years. For the past nine and a half years, I’ve lived in a small town in Maryland. I prefer the city, because I love the atmosphere and energy generated from lots of people living in close proximity.

What does living life to the max means to you?

Living life to the max for me means appreciating every day I’m lucky enough to wake up. It means constantly moving forward toward the future by not holding onto the past. While it’s important to work hard to achieve our dreams, I also believe we all need to regularly indulge in activities that make us happy. Hobbies can be just as important to fulfill a person as the career he or she has chosen.

What is your idea of a great holiday?

In the United States we call it taking a vacation and a great one to me means going someplace I’ve never been before and being able to explore everything the location has to offer. It doesn’t matter if I go to an exotic island, or a new city, I love to immerse myself in the culture of an area. I’m married with two children, so I also love to introduce my kids to new places. I want them to realize there’s a big world outside of the small town we live in. Any holiday that provides me the chance to relax and spend quality time with my family creating wonderful memories is a great holiday for me.

I know you’re familiar with the real possibility to loose a loved one. How did that influence your writing?

When my husband was diagnosed with Testicular Cancer, I chose to write about the situation to ease the fear I had that he might die. I think fear forced me to be incredibly honest in describing the whole journey from diagnosis, through treatment, and up until he was cured. I needed to document everything that happened, because I knew our suffering and the eventual triumph over that suffering would give comfort to those going through similar situations.

After that book was done and out off your hands into those of the readers, did you ever wish you hadn’t written it?

If I hadn’t written it, I would regret it. By writing about a very dark time in my husband’s and my life, I created something I can read to remember how bad it got so I can appreciate when things are good. My children were nine and six when their father was sick, so they weren’t aware of certain things. When they’re older they’ll be able to read about exactly what went on and how we got through it.

Is there any food or beverage that is a constant factor in either your books or life?

I can’t say there’s any food or beverage I consistently write about, but chocolate is a constant factor in my life. I can’t go a day without eating something containing chocolate.

What is your favourite dish and can you give me the recipe?

My Italian-American maternal grandmother made the best meatballs I’ve ever tasted. I could make a meal of those meatballs. Unfortunately, before she died I never got the recipe. I’ve spent years trying different recipes in an attempt to replicate her meatballs. So far, this recipe is the closest.

Ingredients make 8 servings

1 pound ground beef

1/2 pound ground veal 

1/2 pound ground pork

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 eggs

1 cup freshly grated Romano cheese

1 1/2 tablespoons chopped Italian flat leaf parsley

salt and ground black pepper to taste

2 cups stale Italian bread, crumbled

1 1/2 cups lukewarm water

1 cup olive oil


  1. Combine beef, veal, and pork in a large bowl. Add garlic, eggs, cheese, parsley, salt and pepper.
  2. Blend bread crumbs into meat mixture. Slowly add the water 1/2 cup at a time. The mixture should be very moist but still hold its shape if rolled into meatballs. (I usually use about 1 1/4 cups of water). Shape into meatballs.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Fry meatballs in batches. When the meatball is very brown and slightly crisp remove from the heat and drain on a paper towel. (If your mixture is too wet, cover the meatballs while they are cooking so that they hold their shape better.)
  4. I usually place the cooked meatballs into a pot of hot spaghetti sauce, cover, and simmer for at least 30 minutes, but this isn’t necessary.

NOM! I am going to try these out this week and will let you know how they turned out.

What is the title of the book you would like to talk about, and can you give us a small taster of it?

The title of my memoir is Perseveringthrough the Unforeseen: One Couple’sExperienceConquering Testicular Cancer.

PTTU eBook Cover copy


Below you’ll find the prologue:

We’d been married for almost eleven years. Our union had produced two healthy, beautiful children. Our lives were filled with the routines most people flourish on. There had been some rocky times like most couples experience, but overall my husband and I were living unassuming lives. We never anticipated our world could change in a short amount of time, but on a cold winter night at the beginning of January 2011 it did. Suffering from pain in his groin, Eric was sent by our family physician to a hospital thirty minutes from our home to get an ultrasound. Our doctor suspected a contortion of the right testicle, and he acted quickly. Upon further investigation, Eric was found to have two masses contained in his right testicle. The preceding months would test our strength as a couple. It was hands down the darkest period of our lives to date. I chose to document what we went through in the hopes our experience can give comfort to those on a similar journey. The battle against Testicular Cancer was one my husband won, but it’s a battle my family will never forget. From the beginning, I’ve emphasized Testicular Cancer is to men what Breast Cancer is to women. Because more women are affected by Breast Cancer every year, than men are affected by Testicular Cancer, this disease gets publicized with greater frequency. By revealing the everyday struggles we encountered, and the hardships Eric faced as a cancer patient, I hope to educate, enlighten, and bring attention to a disease that affects thousands of men all over the world. I can’t emphasize enough to every man how important yearly check-ups are to maintaining his well-being. Pain is an indication something’s wrong and should never be ignored. Testicular Cancer is a fast growing threat many men could catch in time if they just make sure to look for the warning signs. I want to thank in advance all those choosing to read our story. It’s a personal one that wasn’t always easy for me to write down, but by doing so I knew I might be able to inspire others to fight when faced with a cancer diagnosis.

Did you have difficulty coming up with the title?

No, I didn’t have any difficulty at all. I knew in my heart my husband would survive, so the title came to me instinctually.

What do you do marketing wise and what do you think generates the most attention to your books?

As a self-published author, I’ve had to do all my own promotion. It’s not always easy when you don’t have a substantial amount of money to invest, or people with powerful connections behind you to help, so I’ve been forced to think outside the box. I realized early on into my career I needed to create a very visible online presence so readers from all over the world would become familiar with me.

Since very few things happen overnight, I realized it was going to take years to build up a fan base through social networking sites. This fact has been very frustrating for me at times, so it’s forced me to try different approaches. I did an internet radio show which was a complete waste of time and money. I don’t recommend any author try this unless they’ve established a strong fan base. I’ve also consistently attempted to contact bloggers to review my work every time I publish a new book, but they’re not always receptive.

I can honestly say the most attention I get for my books comes from using Twitter. I’ve been trying to establish myself as an active supporter of the indie writing community for several years, because I believe there’s a tremendous amount of undiscovered talent in the world. These are people just like me who deserve a chance to be read. If I can help them achieve their dreams, it benefits every person who makes a decision to become a self-published author. Most of the wonderful people I support on Twitter have reciprocated by supporting my dreams, and for this I’m incredibly grateful.

Okay, now that we have the mandatory questions out of the way, shoot your mouth off. Tell me whatever you want the blab about. But please no cat’s, dogs, or children. Make me laugh, or cry, or even envious. Tell me something none has ever heard before from you. hehehe, love those little dirty secrets, real or make believe. 🙂

Before I begin, I’d like to thank you for featuring me on your forum, Lucy. I always value the support I’m given 🙂 Since I don’t want to discuss my “dirty little secrets” because I’d hate for my words to come back and haunt me, I’ll disclose something very few people know about me, with the exception of my family. I possess the coldest hands and feet of anyone on the planet. This is especially true during winter months. My husband calls my

extremities “The hands and feet of death”, because they really are as cold as blocks of ice.

It’s caused by low blood pressure. I’m not prone to get heart disease, have a heart attack, or a stroke in the future, but I’ve had quite a few fainting episodes throughout my lifetime. It usually happens when I’m suffering from some sort of illness, like a virus, but it has occurred when I’m completely well. On more than one occasion my husband has had to catch me before I hit the ground. On days he hasn’t been around I have hit the ground.

One occasion stands out in my mind:

My husband was working overnight, so he wasn’t home at the time. My immune system was compromised, so I was suffering some illness. It was the middle of the night, and I’d woken up needing to use the bathroom. After I was finished, I started feeling nauseous which is a precursor to fainting. Instead of sitting down on the ground until it passed, I decided to stand up to wash my hands. I turned on the water, everything went black, and I woke up looking up at the ceiling. The water was still turned on, so I stood up to turn it off. Before I knew it, I was looking up at the ceiling again. I didn’t want it to happen for a third time, so I crawled on my hands and knees over to the faucet to turn off the water then I crawled over to my bed and carefully climbed in. I called my husband to come home from work, because the whole episode scared me to death. 

Thank you Roberta for being here and sharing all of this with me and the readers. I do hope you’ll come back to talk about your other books. 

For those readers who want to know more about Roberta, she can be found online at:

Her website/blogFacebookTwitterLinkedInGoodreads, and Google+


Featured Author – Matt Johnson

matt johnsonHi Matt, Thanks for taking the time to pop in and answer some of my questions. Before we talk shop I’d like to offer the readers an insight into the psyche of the author by posing some personal questions. Is that okay?

I know you’ve had a bit of an adventurous life in your uniform days, without going into detail, can you tell us what shocked you the most?

The evening in 1984, when I switched on the television after coming home from the Libyan Peoples Bureau attack. I had escorted an injured officer to hospital. It was only when I got home that I found out that it was a personal friend of mine, Yvonne Fletcher.

That affected me emotionally. I witnessed very unpleasant scenes at bombings, car accident etc, but that was the one and only time that I lost a friend.

Which uniform suited you best? Police or soldier?

Police. According to my mum, I look better in blue. Besides, have you any idea how much effort goes into keeping No.1 Army dress looking tip-top?

Hahaha, no I don’t but I can imagine it requires a lot of polishing and ironing, not really my cuppa. 🙂 Would things have been less stressful could you have seen yourself serving until your pensioners date, or would you picked up writing anyway?

I’m not really sure. What I can say is that joining the police was something of an accident. After I left the Army, I met up for lunch with a mate who had just joined the Met after being in the Marines. He showed me his pay chit. Three times as much as we had been earning as 2Lts. I thought, ‘why not’ and decided to sign up until I could think of something more interesting. Leaving early did present me with an opportunity and a stimulus to write when I started doing notes to describe symptoms of stress I was experiencing, incidents that caused me discomfort and flashbacks and other things that was receiving counseling for. Becoming a writer was also something of an accident, as it was my counselor that prompted me to start a book and my brother who pushed me into independent publishing. So, to answer the question, I doubt if I would have started writing, as it took a particular combination of circumstances to create the stimulus and opportunity for it to happen.

Was it hard to adjust to ‘normal’ life after being in the service? What is ‘normal’ life according to you?

The longer you are in the services, the harder it is to adjust. Much has been written about it but suffice to say, the change in attitude to work, discipline and many other factors is very different in civilian life. Personally, I was a bit of a ‘square peg’ in the services and never really abandoned my civilian view of life so, for me, the adjustment wasn’t too hard. But, ask others, and they may say different. They may say that I changed and I couldn’t see it myself. As to ‘what is normal’ well, that’s very hard to define. There are so many parameters within the range of normality that is acceptable to people but suffice to say, I still put on my shoes one at a time, still like to walk my dogs and find that I need more time every day than I ever seem to find. I work hard at not having a ‘normal’ life. I like to push boundaries, try things, pursue hobbies and interests and get as much from life as I can. Old cliché I know, but I do plan to arrive in heaven on my Harley with a glass of wine in one hand and a bar of chocolate in the other screaming ‘wow, what a ride.’

Now that’s a goal I can relate to. Stick to this and you can’t go wrong. Can you ever see yourself free of the live you’ve lived, or will that always play a major part in all your future projects?

My histotory is, and always will be, a major part of my life and has left me with old mates, memories and experiences that will always be with me. The services moulded me, made me what I am and, for better or worse, set me on a path that I now follow.

Enough with the chit-chat, because you’ve come to talk about writing and your work. So,what is the title of the book you would like to talk about, and can you give us a small taster of it?

The book is called ‘Wicked Game’.



It fits loosely into the genre of crime thriller. It’s set in 2001 and is centred on a police inspector called Robert Finlay.

Age is catching up with Finlay. As a police officer on the Royalty Protection team based in London he is looking forward to returning to uniform policing and a less stressful life with his new family.

But fate has plans for Finlay. His past is about to come back to haunt him.

When a fellow policeman is killed in a bomb explosion and a second is gunned down on his own driveway, Finlay discovers that both of the murdered policemen are former Army colleagues from the SAS Regiment. His family learn that he is not the ordinary man they once thought.

Finlay isn’t hero, just a survivor. He isn’t a ‘Jack Reacher’ just an ordinary bloke, of the kind that might live next door to you. The story is of how an ordinary man deals with an extra-ordinary threat from his past

Did you have difficulty coming up with the title?

Yes… and No. Wicked Game is the third title. Although I started with a working title, the new one came about from the dialogue between characters. I liked the title, and at the time there was no other book in the genre with it. Since WG has done so well, I have noticed several independent authors have also used the title. Imitation is a form of flattery, I suppose, but it’s not something I would personally choose to do. Indeed, I think it is incumbent on an author to check their title and not to imitate others to try and bring search results to themselves

If you would have to change the genre in order to be able to publish it, what would it be then? i.e. would you conform your work to suit the market?

No, I wouldn’t change it to suit another market. My writing comes from me, if people like it, that’s great. If not, then I am not destined to be an author. The reviews and feedback have both astounded and humbled me. It’s really quite surreal to think that so many people have gained so much enjoyment from my work. To realise that people have given up several days of their lives to read my work, and have kept reading as they have enjoyed it is an absolute treasure of an experience to me. That said, WG is more than simply a thriller. It is a story about friendship, family, betrayal and loyalty, as well as being a thriller involving life-threatening adventure and a plot that should, hopefully keep you guessing until the end.

Can you tell me how you celebrate finally getting that tricky chapter (or para) right?

No celebration, but a feeling that it is right. Often, I write and re-write, work and re-work. I read back aloud, and only then do I get a sense of whether it works. I find I know when it doesn’t and, when I think its right, I just keep my fingers crossed that others will agree.

What do you do marketing wise and what do you think generates the most attention to your books?

Without any doubt, twitter has been a Godsend to independent authors. But the advent of the e-book has created the opportunity to get your work into the public eye. I’m no marketing expert, I simply used the kindle direct programme to start with and then switched to smashwords after a few months. I think that it is important for a new face to build up a readership and to be patient. If your product is good, word will spread, albeit slowly. You can help this along using twitter but you cannot force people to read your offerings and, if they do, they had better not be disappointed. People prepared to give new indie authors time and to read their work are few and far between as they expect the best to come through the mainstream channels. Now you and I may know that there is some fantastic indie talent out there, but the public want be in a position that they are not going to wasting their time when they open up a new book. For me, I think that the Amazon review system has paid immense dividends. The system has it’s flaws but it does provide a means for the public to guage whether a book is worth their precious time. The cover needs to be attractive, the synopsis exciting and the reviews encouraging. Given all three, people don’t mind reaching into their pockets to give you a try.

What is the most disgusting thing you’ve ever come across in your writing career?

I think it was when I was dragged from the naive view of an amateur writer into the commercial world of writing. At that point I learned about authors who manipulate the review systems by using ‘sock puppets’, fake profiles, and how it is possible to buy 5* reviews through a couple of companies operating outside of the UK. Like most starters, my indie publication was followed by a few reviews written by friends and family. That said, my family are pretty straight and made it clear to me that they wouldn’t positively review the book if they didn’t like it. After that, I was in the hands of the public. As the book started to gain reviews I then found myself being approached by ‘authors’ who would ask for a ‘quid pro quo’ review exchange if I would give them a great review, they would do the same for me. I always decline. Just lately, maintaining that position has resulted in some unpleasant reviews from people. I do wonder what motivates people to be so unpleasant, but when I read articles where some of our best known and most successful authors have admitted to creating ‘sock puppet’ profiles to rubbish the work of other authors, then I learned that it it more widespread than you might think. 

It does disgust me that people would stoop so low, but human nature being as it is, it shouldn’t really surprise me.

Is there any food or beverage that is a constant factor in either your books or life?

Tea…. On the hour, every hour. Well, maybe not so much now, when it dawned on me how much I was drinking. I also adore cider.

Yes, since coming to the UK I have discovered the pleasure of drinking cider too. What is your favourite dish and can you give me the recipe?

Hmmm…. Very eclectic taste and not much of a cook. My curries seem to go down well, though. I like to use natural ingredients rather than packeted, and yes, you can have the recipe… one day.

Okay, thank you. I’ll have to come up with my own curry recipe then.

Now that we have the mandatory questions out of the way, shoot your mouth off. Tell me whatever you want the blab about. But please no cat’s, dogs, or children. Make me laugh, or cry, or even envious. Tell me something none has ever heard before from you. hehehe, love those little dirty secrets, real or make believe. 🙂

That will happen over a cider, not before. But one thing I do hope for is to make enough of a name for myself that I can help to do something about the state of PTSD treatment in the UK. There are so many little groups doing there bit but no umbrella organization and no concerted, centralized, consistent system in place to do our level best to help the very large numbers of people, from all walks of life, that suffer without receiving appropriate help.

I’ve been very fortunate with my book, but must recognize that if it didn’t cut the mustard, it wouldn’t have had the reception it has. It was read by a couple of well-known authors (no name drops here) who out me onto their agent. I’ve now signed with him, done some additional work on the MS, worked with him on a biography and synopsis and now he has just started to pitch it to the publishers. It’s an exciting time, but there are still no guarantees, it could all fall at the last hurdle. We will see…

Thank you Matt for answering all these questions. I hope you will succeed, and when you do please come back to me and let me do another round of grilling on you. 🙂

For now I would like to present the readers with a sample of the book. (Thank you for the signed paperback, I will cherish that and of course read it. At the moment it’s at the top of the stack. i.e. next to be read.)

Right, for those who are curious and would like to read more, there’s a whole excerpt below.

British Airways Flight BA 783 taxied slowly to a stop. As the passengers started to gather their hand luggage, the stewardesses released the safety catches to open the airplane to the world outside. Bright sunlight blazed in through the door. The cool, artificially chilled air inside was quickly replaced by heat and humidity.
This was Kalikata, India, at the start of the monsoon season. On the runway it was over a hundred degrees. Inside the plane the temperature quickly climbed.
Jed Garrett and Mac Blackwood were amongst the first passengers to start the sweaty journey down the steps to the waiting airport bus. Both men wore jackets and ties. They looked uncomfortable.
“Fucking hell Jed, what is that smell?”
Garrett had smelled Kalikata before. Sweat, exhaust fumes and local spices combined to produce an aroma that was particular to India. It was a pungent, musty smell that some loved but many found hard to bear.
“That’s the smell of India, Mac. Get used to it, we’re gonna be here a while.” Jed was American. His companion was a Scot.
The men boarded the airport bus. Garrett could see that his friend was getting impatient. He was anxious to get to their hotel and get their business underway. Garrett smiled. His friend was just going to have to adjust to the slower pace of life here. The heat was the problem. That, and the humidity. Put the two factors together and you soon stopped any ideas of hard work or doing things quickly. Mac Blackwood was used to the windswept, chilly streets of Glasgow. Garrett was from Florida. He was used to humidity and he had been to India many times before. This was Mac’s first trip.
The two men were instructors, brought in to teach their specialist subjects. They had been hired at rates many teachers could only dream of. But then not many teachers could teach the subjects that these men were experts in. Inside a week they would be in the mountains of Kashmir showing their students how to plant mines, lay booby traps, destroy tanks and, of course, the many other uses that plastic explosive could be put to. Garrett and Blackwood were soldiers of fortune, mercenaries. Former Special Forces soldiers from differing parts of the globe, united through the use of their life skills to make a buck.
The bus returned them to the air-conditioned atmosphere of the arrivals hall. Mac stared through the windows whilst they waited for their luggage.
“No wonder they call this the black hole of Calcutta.” Blackwood pointed through the window to the crowds of poverty stricken who stood waiting to try and beg from, or sell to, the arriving travellers. There were hundreds of them. Men, women and children of all ages. Kids with filthy hands, blackened nails and faces with puppy-dog eyes chased around begging small change from the tourists.
“I fuckin’ hate this place already.” Blackwood turned away from the window. “Ach, fer Christ sake. Look at the state of that kit.” Blackwood pointed to the uniforms of the soldiers who milled around the airport concourse trying to look efficient.
Garrett was starting to get tired of his friend’s constant moaning. He hailed a taxi. As the driver quickly took their bags, children surrounded them. Tiny open hands were extended in hope.
“Gimme dollar, gimme dollar.”
One youngster held up a tatty, soiled copy of Penthouse. “You buy, you buy,” he called.
Mac Blackwood reached for his pocket. His travelling companion was wiser and more cynical. Giving just one some cash would mean another fifty blocking your way. They had a meeting to get to and they needed to get away from the airport. Garret shook his head as he grabbed Blackwood’s arm.
“Oberoi Hotel.” Garrett gave their destination to the driver. Blackwood had to prise children’s fingers from the door handle before he could join Garrett in the back. As they accelerated away, stained and grimy hands smacked incessantly on the windows of the car.
In the relative privacy of the taxi the noise and bustle of the airport faded away behind them.
“Over three million of those kids die ever year in this country from diseases caused by poverty. Help one, they’ll all want a piece of you,” said Garret.
Blackwood simply nodded. Not helping a needy kid didn’t sit comfortably with him.
They had been travelling for only a moment when the taxi started to slow.
“What now?” Blackwood turned to ask. The taxi was stopping to let a cow cross the road.
“Cows are sacred here Mac. Just be patient.” Garrett did his best to calm his excitable friend.
At that moment the front passenger door swung open. A filthy teenager in a simple shirt and trousers had jumped in for a ride. The first thing Blackwood noticed was the smell. Garrett noticed the holdall the kid carried.
“American?” The kid smiled as he turned to ask them the question.
“Canadian,” Garrett lied. Canadians were popular everywhere.
“Have a nice day.”
The last thing Jed Garrett saw was two wires that stuck out from the side of the bag the kid was carrying. As the boy pressed the wires together the car was torn apart by the resulting explosion.
Debris rained down. Even before the smoke began to clear, barefooted men clawed and fought over the Westerners’ luggage. Some gawped at the scorched and mutilated figures that hung from the wrecked car.Nobody tried to help them.

If that has tickled your reading muscle, you can get your copy at:



If you want to follow Matt on his journey you can find him online at his website.

Featured Author – Carolyne Steele

?????????????????Today Carolyne Steele is a guest on my blog. I promised her to go easy, so I’ll not grill her but just slow roast for a change. 🙂

Hi Carolyn, thank you for stopping by my blog today. I’d like to get started by asking you a few personal questions so that we can get a feel of the person behind the author. If that’s okay with you?

Hey, I’m a memoirist, we love talking about ourselves it’s cheaper than therapy.

Given the choice where would you rather live, the UK or Canada? Flat land or mountains?

Definitely Canada, I fell in love with the place very fast and hankered after being a Canadian for years before it happened. I mean no disrespect to England by this, I think some of us just have to leave our roots to feel truly alive, just as others of us have to return to them. As for plains or mountains, I don’t mind, just so long as there’s a vastness about either.

Another choice question. An action packed, or a quiet life?

Oh, difficult, I love both. I’m as happy dealing with drama and crisis as I am sitting about with some sewing and a cozy play on the radio. My perfect life alternates between both, which is pretty much the way I have it organised these days.

Would you say you are a socially engaged person, or do you generally shy away from society?

mugshotcompressedI’m getting more antisocial as I age, but that might just be lack of stamina. After 5 years running a B&B and having people in my face 24/7 (and not always nice people) I went very introverted for a while. That’s actually one of the reasons I went off to drive for a living, but that wore off after a few years and I can bear company again.

Well, that wasn’t too bad, or was it?

Relatively painless, thank you Lucy.

I’m glad to hear that. 🙂 But since you’ve come here to talk about your work, can you tell us the title of the book you would like to talk about?

Trucking in English, it’s part of a series about being a Brit abroad.

tie compressedAMAZON

Did you have difficulty coming up with this title?

To start with yes, but then I was trying to find a title for a blog. I had a drunken chat with a pal via Facebook one night and we came up with Trucking in English as a holding title for what were going to be my online musings from the cab as I drove long haul. Once the name had stuck, it seemed an ideal title for the eventual book.

If you would have to change the genre in order to be able to publish it, what would it be then? i.e. would you conform to the market?

I’ve thought this over a great deal, ever since my first book came out. People tell me nobody reads memoir and I could sell more by pretending that what happens to me is fiction. They’re probably right and I did consider making the third book in my emigration trilogy into a Bridget Jones type novel but so much would be lost. The problem with real life is that it’s always more outrageous and weird than you can get away with in fiction. I learned that back when I was driving ambulances, we’d occasionally send a really wacky story to a TV series about paramedics and they’d invariably reply that it was too unbelievable to put in a script. So, I’m sticking to non-fiction for now. Even if nobody reads memoir, I want the stories out there in all their mad and messy glory because I love the bizarreness of real life. Everything in the tale of what happens when a middle-aged Englishwoman takes it into her head to drive 18-wheelers across America is true, as will be the next and oddly frightening story of trying to run a Canadian B&B. If I were to put the fires, floods, drugs, prostitutes and life sentences for 1st degree murder into a novel about a B&B, people would rightly call it far-fetched.

It does sounds like a fantastic novel! 🙂

Can you tell me how you celebrate finally getting that tricky chapter (or para) right?

A Snoopy dance of glee and a gin and tonic. Spot of fiction there for once, that would be how it went if I ever realised at the time that it was right, generally I have to be yelled at by my fiercest critic. This is my son and since I instituted a ‘rule of three’ when he was growing up he has turned it round on me. I refused to say anything more than three times back when the conversations were about treats and homework; now he refuses to say, ‘Yes it’s fine now!’ more than three times.

What do you do marketing wise and what do you think generates the most attention to your books?

I have the typical British reserve when it comes to blowing one’s own trumpet and find marketing very difficult. I try to engage with readers and authors and be a person with things to say other than ‘buy my book’, hence I love to join in with blogs such as yours. I write for The Displaced Nation as well as Indies Unlimited and try to be useful and helpful as well as amusing, but as far as actual book marketing goes I struggle to find direct ways that work. Beyond leaving sneaky bookmarks here and there, and an annual Facebook ad at Christmas all about how Trucking in English would be an ideal gift for the driver in your life, I flounder a little. I do see a little spike in sales after I’ve contributed a guest post somewhere, so I try to do as many of those as possible. The subjects of my books aren’t necessarily of immediate appeal but it looks as though readers will risk a download if they enjoy my take on the world.

Is there any food or beverage that is a constant factor in either your books or life?

The joy of new food is probably most constant. Whether I like it or I don’t (and don’t get me started on Poutine) I am fascinated by the way food changes as you move around, not just the world but within one country. My travel writing began with strange things on menus and it’s remained a theme. I love the way you can drive, say, from the Canadian border to Florida and know how far south you are by what’s on offer to eat. I don’t want to eat biscuits and gravy, or grits, but I love the troubling images they conjure up in my British mind when I read about them.

What is your favourite dish and can you give me the recipe?

So many favourites, it’s hard to choose, but here’s a dish that has become one of my new Canadian Christmas traditions. My son and I made it for our first Christmas away from home, mainly because the job I had at that time (and the subject of my first book) was caring for a senior with Alzheimer’s. Living with this lady, stovetop cooking was kinda dangerous but we wanted to have a festive vegetable dish of some sort. We made this braised red cabbage in the oven and it came to represent the fun of starting over in a new life. Now I make it every year to go with the turkey. As a bonus, once the leftovers have been in the fridge overnight, it turns into a sort of chutney for cold meat sandwiches.

Braised Red Cabbage

picture found on Foodnetwork.com

Layer shredded red cabbage and chopped red onion in an ovenproof dish, add chopped apples if you like. Sprinkle each layer with a little chopped garlic, some ground cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, a spoonful of brown sugar and some salt and pepper. There can be quantities involved but it’s just as easy to stick in a bit more of what you like and a bit less of what you don’t. Finally, dollop over about 3 tablespoons of wine vinegar and dot the top with butter. Cover and bake in a slow oven for 2-3 hours, stirring once or twice. Additional bonus, you can make it the day before and then just reheat when you are up to your ears in relatives and trimmings.

Sounds delish, and I will prepare that one this crapmas.

Would you be able to come up with a credible excuse why you haven’t written a whole day? Remember, I have to believe it!

Ah, that’s an easy one for me, since I divide my life in half. I go off and have adventures for a while, during which time I make a few notes but don’t necessarily ‘write’. Then when I think I have a bookful, or when I collapse with exhaustion, whichever comes first, I stop and turn the mayhem into a book. So, if I didn’t write today, clearly I was having a tiring adventure instead.

Okay now that we have the mandatory questions out of the way, shoot your mouth off. Tell me whatever you want the blab about. But please no cat’s, dogs, or children. Make me laugh, or cry, or even envious. Tell me something none has ever heard before from you. hehehe, love those little dirty secrets, real or make believe. 🙂

I only became a writer because I once tried to be a stand-up comic and failed miserably. I could get whole roomfuls of people smiling inwardly and producing the occasional polite titter, which was obviously pretty mediocre as stand-up goes. Then one day I was reading a great book on the bus and smiling to myself. I tittered out loud and looked around embarrassed to see if anyone thought I was mad. When I heard myself recommended the book saying, ‘I even laughed out loud on the bus,’ it hit me that a reader’s titter is a triumph!

Therefore I should be writing my version of the world down, not trying to win over comedy clubs with it.

What else? I once got drunk with Terry Jones from the Monty Python team, 

I’ve made a rabble-rousing speech in the UK House of Commons, I have a tattoo of a maple leaf on my bum, I jumped out of a plane at the age of 39 and met the love of my life at 54. One of those isn’t true. (Yip, the tattoo is really a bear.) And, finally, Trucking in English really is an ideal Christmas gift for the driver in your life.

Hahaha, those are a few great ‘dirty’ secrets. Thanks for sharing Carolyn. Now let me tell the readers to find you online at:

Featured Author – Amber Lea Easton

AmberinSantaMonicaAmber Lea Easton joins me today to talk about what drives her. What, Amber? Yes, of course you also get to talk about your book. 🙂

But first I’d like to thank you for taking the time to hop over and answering my questions. Have a seat and make yourself comfortable. Coffee, or tea? Cookie or chocolate, or a chocolate cookie?

Tea, please. I’ve never been a coffee drinker. Oh, and I definitely want the chocolate cookie.

I know you’ve been through a lot, can you tell me if you ever thought of giving up?

Yes, I’ve had very dark times where I wondered why I even bothered trying anymore. Despair is very real and hard to navigate. After my husband’s suicide, we experienced a lot of fallout from family and friends. It’s true that you find out the characters of people during a crisis. There were days when I felt like giving up–but I am all the family that my kids have. I’m IT. Knowing that always pulled me back from the edge and made me keep trying.

Do you think you could have done anything to prevent it from happening?

No, I don’t go there anymore. I dealt with a lot of guilt after Sean’s death, have played out all the scenarios, and honestly don’t think I could have stopped his plan. And that’s what it was–a plan. After the fact, I found notes he’d stashed away that spoke of his great love for the kids and me…and also his struggle with addiction and sorrow. Those notes have been extremely painful to find, usually because they fall out of a book or a drawer when I least expect it, but they’ve also given me insight that I didn’t have at the time. He kept a lot of his sadness hidden from me–from everyone–and thought through all of the details of his death. Because of things he said to me during our final family vacation together, I think he had second thoughts about his plan, but he was also methodically filling me up with stories about how much he cared about our family. I think in his own way–in his dark place–he thought he was doing us all “a favor” by killing himself. That makes me cry right now as I write those words because I’d give anything to have him alive today–and would have fought so hard for him if he’d given me the chance–but I do believe that is what he thought.

Amber, hearing that from you makes me cry too. I admire you for being able to find a way to cope with it.

Can you honestly say you are at peace now? And how do you manage to keep smiling?

Yes, I am at peace now, but it took me years to get here. As for smiling, I love life and don’t take anything or anyone for granted. I find great joy in nature and my work. I have my moments when I’m sad, when something reminds me of this great love I had that is no longer, or when something fabulous happens and I wish Sean were here to share it with me. However, I’ve accepted that that will always be the case, which is where the peace comes in. When my kids get married or when I have grandchildren, I’m sure Sean will drift across my mind and I’ll have a moment of sadness for what he’s missed. I do smile a lot and I love laughing. It took me a long time to realize that I didn’t die, that my life wasn’t over. Once I realized that and gave myself permission to be happy again, the smiles came more frequently.

And on a lighter note, if you were a dog would you chase cats or ducks?

I’d chase cats because they are very clever and would put up more of a challenge.

Which I think says a lot about the kind of person you are. I challenge the readers to tell us what kind of person they are. Take on the challenge, or go for the easier thing?

But what you are really here for is to talk about your book of course.

First, what is the title of the book you would like the readers to know about?

Well, since we’ve been discussing Sean’s suicide, I’ll talk about my memoir ‘Free Fall’. I wrote this book because we did experience a lot of judgment and fallout after Sean’s death. We felt very alone. As a young widow, there weren’t many resources to help me with my particular journey. Books about widows were targeted to the elderly (at the time that’s what I found) and people assumed I simply knew how to “deal with it”. I never want another person to ever feel that alone while they navigate grief. ‘Free Fall’ is to shed some light on a dark subject and hopefully create understanding.


Did you have difficulty coming up with the title?

No. I felt as if I’ve been in free fall ever since the moment I found him hanging dead.

If you would have to change the genre in order to be able to publish it, what would it be then? i.e. would you conform to the market?

It’s a memoir so I’m not sure–I suppose it could be easily made into fiction by changing up a few things, but I’m pretty sure people wouldn’t believe it then. Ha! This is one of those real life stories that seems stranger than fiction–but is all too real for too many people.

Sometimes telling the real thing is better than any fiction could ever get, from a reader’s point of view. I can imagine from where you stand, you’d rather seen it had been fiction.

Can you tell me how you celebrate finally getting that tricky chapter (or para) right?

I didn’t celebrate anything about this book. It was incredibly painful to write, in fact I cried throughout every revision. I had to essentially relive the experience in order to write it accurately. When it was finally published, I felt a great sense of relief that I’d done what I set out to do. I don’t plan on writing another nonfiction book–it’s back to fun fiction for me! 

Right with that out of the way and to confuse you we’ll take the alternative route now.

What don’t you like about writing.

The pay. LOL

Hahahaha, you could say that. But I’ve heard you just signed a contract with a publisher, so that might change in teh near future. 🙂 Let’s hope it does, because you deserve it.

What do you do marketing wise and what do you think generates the most attention to your books?

I do what everyone does–twitter, Facebook, blogs, blog hops, ads here and there, radio appearances. I honestly don’t worry about it much. I keep writing more books. I think word of mouth amongst readers carries the most weight at the end of the day so I keep producing work that I hope they like.

Is there any food or beverage that is a constant factor in either your books or life?

Rum and coke seem to be my characters’ favorite drink in every book I write, which is probably because it’s one of mine! I do it unconsciously, but did catch it in my work in progress and am trying to switch it up a bit. I should be getting an endorsement fee from the rum industry!

What is your favourite dish and can you give me the recipe?

image found on The Sweetery.com

image found on The Sweetery.com

Sorry. I’m not a great chef these days. I like grilled chicken with slices of green chiles on top covered by melted pepperjack cheese–either wrapped in flatbread or on a sandwich. I add a fresh tomato and some lettuce. Yum. It’s simple and I love Southwestern American food. I have that at least once a week.

Amber! You tell me you have no recipe and then give me a thing I am going to have for lunch today! Sounds delish!

Would you be able to come up with a credible excuse why you haven’t written a whole day? Remember, I have to believe it!

Again, I’m going to disappoint you. I write every day, even on vacation. I feel like I’m letting you down. I guess I’d have to be dead not to write every day—or in a coma. Or, God forbid, had my hands amputated in a horrible accident and needed to learn to type with hooks! That would probably take awhile to learn and I can’t see myself talking aloud into a recorder or something like that. Wow, that would be a nightmare! I honestly write something every day, even if it’s short and simple. Now I’m going to have nightmares about hook hands, though.

And finally why would you ever want to live life behind a keyboard slaving over a manuscript?

Because I lost my mind long ago and am trying to find it through my Muse. 🙂

Okay now that we have the mandatory questions out of the way, shoot your mouth off. Tell me whatever you want the blab about. But please no cat’s, dogs, or children. Make me laugh, or cry, or even envious. Tell me something none has ever heard before from you. hehehe, love those little dirty secrets, real or make believe. 🙂

When I was 22, my friend Michelle and I were in Paris drinking too much wine. I’m sure we probably drank other things, too, but we were definitely drinking wine at the end of the night. We were with a bunch of guys from Long Island, NY, and some Puerto Ricans. This was part of my roaming through Europe tour I did after college to avoid getting a real job, much to my parents’ chagrin. I admit that we were being a bit wild (uh-hem), but I’m not exactly sure what happened on the street outside the bar. I know one of the New York guys asked me put a half-full bottle of wine in my purse while we were on the street, saying we shouldn’t be carrying it in the open like that. So I did. (It was corked.) One minute we’re waiting for a taxi to take us back to our hotel, the next some woman is screaming at us and the only word we understood was “police”. What?! We laughed it off and kept waiting for the taxi, but then we heard sirens! Sure enough, the crazy screaming French woman had called the police on us. I swear to God to this day I have no idea what we did to commit a crime. So we did what any drunk 22 year old American would do–ran like hell. Michelle and I took off with the Puerto Rican men racing through the streets of Paris, laughing so hard we could barely breathe. Just when we thought we escaped, more police came. Sirens sounded everywhere!What did we do? We don’t know, but running sounded like the best option. By now we’re all incredibly lost. We found ourselves in a residential area in the middle of the night. We started discussing our predicament when another French woman starts yelling at us from an open window–I assume she told us to be quiet. So we took off running again. The Puerto Rican guys found a taxi for us, but then they got into an argument with the cab driver. They’re screaming in Spanish, the driver was screaming in French. Michelle and I decided to part ways from the men at this point, and leapt out of the taxi. We had no idea where we were…but we had a half-full bottle of wine in my purse. 🙂 So we wandered around, drank wine out of the bottle, sang some songs, lost in Paris. We were still laughing in between sips when we finally found our cheap hotel where others from our group were hanging out on the steps wondering where we’d been all night. We never told them–mainly because we weren’t certain if we were officially wanted by the police or not! We outran the Paris police, ditched the Puerto Ricans, and finished off a fine bottle of wine. Ah, those were the days… 🙂 True story. We left for Amsterdam later that day and I haven’t been back to France since.

Maybe the police weren’t after us, but we were drunk and young enough to believe it. 

All of my misadventures in Europe as a recent college graduate (which took place over 20 years ago) will serve as the basis for a new adult romance series I’m doing with Entangled Publishing. There will be five books so far based in the following cities: London, Paris, Amsterdam, Rome, and the Greek Islands. These will be fiction, but will make me smile with certain secrets as I write them!

Thank you Amber for taking the time to be with me and answering all these questions. Congratulations on the series and I’m looking forward to seeing them come to live. Please remember me when it’s time to promote them. 🙂

For now I’ll leave the readers with links to where they can find you online, and ask them if they would think they’d ever be brave enough to write about such a life changing experience as you did.

Amber can be found online at Facebook, Twitter as @MtnMoxieGirl, and on her website.

How To Survive the Sex Industry – Lucky Girl by Violet Ivy

lucky girl tour button


I’m hosting a Lucky Girl today, and am curious as to how she got to be that Lucky, aren’t you? Let’s see what the book is about, shall we?

Lucky Girl book cover 1


Is the intimate autobiography of an international call girl. Scary, funny and bizarre stories recorded for your amusement, edification or simply for interesting dinner conversation.

The sex industry is clouded in mystery. It has to be to some extent or it wouldn’t survive. But in this age of internet porn, buying pubic hair trimmings online and wife swapping parties it’s about time the veils of mystery were taken down.

For moralists, let’s visit the chicken and the egg scenario. Which came first the prostitute or the client? If there were no clients then obviously there would be no sex workers. But what if there weren’t any prostitutes? Would guys wank themselves silly to porn? Harass their post-menopausal wives? Frequent bars trying their luck? Or hassle the secretary and risk being charged with sexual harassment? Would statistics for rape be on the increase? Is prostitution a necessary evil in our society? Don’t mindlessly believe and quote information spoon fed to you by friends, family or the media. Make an educated decision.

Although it was never my intention to get into this industry, I’ve travelled the world, had incredible experiences and bought several properties. I won’t have to rely on the government pension when I retire.

My closest friends are co-workers, madams and clients. Brilliant people who I would never otherwise have had the good fortune to meet. I will never regret my decision to enter this field. It has not always been a bed of roses, but when I compare it to what my life might have been; cleaning job, shitty boss, marriage, perhaps divorce, mortgage, kids, living in the burbs, scraping by to give my kids a better life than I was destined for, I feel that I have been rescued…. 

Lucky Girl pic About the author

Violet Ivy grew up on a small wheat and sheep farm in the outback of Western Australia. A spray of freckles across her nose, pigtails streaming down her back as she swam naked in the local creek to cool off during the endless summers.

Who could have predicted her transformation into one of the world’s most elite, international escorts? The wanton woman satisfying the needs and desires of the most affluent men and women of the globe.

Well, that made me curious to the actual woman behind the story. So I’ve  arranged for an interview.

Hi Violet, thanks for taking the time out of your schedule to give us a little insight in the real you.

Let’s start with, what do you do for fun?

My puppy and I are café goers. Living in central Melbourne we are spoiled for choice. I travel a lot with work so I try to spend quality time with her playing at the beach and cuddling on the couch when I can.

I think it’s important for ladies in my profession to really look after and pamper themselves. We give a lot emotionally, mentally and physically at work. Massages, mannies and peddies, facials and of course retail therapy all serve to restore our vitality levels.

My life is blessed with quality friends. Dinner parties, gallery openings, exhibitions…we are always attending some fabulous event or other with a glass of bubbles in our hand. Life is a celebration, that’s how Bubbles, my puppy, got her name.

What is sexy to you?

My Facebook stream is full of pics of hot guys thanks to my large contingent of gay friends. But sexy is much more than just skin deep. I’ve had my fair share of sex with both great looking guys and some who have unfortunately been hit with the ugly stick, so I’ve had a good opportunity to consider this question.

I heard a joke the other day…men fall in love with their eyes. Women fall in love with their ears. That’s why women wear makeup and men tell lies. Sad but true in a lot of cases. The trick is to find a man you can relax with and trust. The sex can be worked out if you’re both open minded and not too far apart in your tastes. A man who’s got your back and isn’t always looking for the newest, best thing around the corner is sexy. One who loves you even though they’ve nursed you through the flu or a hangover. One who does little spontaneous things for you to keep it fresh and exciting. Intelligence, hard working in his field, whatever that may be, and someone who can handle my life choices…oooh now that’s a tough one to find. In my past I’ve met men who are fine with my working at the beginning but as they develop feelings for me they want me to quit and be the good, suburban housewife living on $600 a week. Sorry…never going to happen.

Why did you write this book?

Several of my closest friends know what I do for a living. Whenever we go out for drinks or dinner they urge me to tell them naughty tit-bits from my experiences. They suggested I share these with a larger audience. Hence Violet Ivy the author was born. Sometimes they ask me if I have spent time with anyone famous. Of course I have; house hold names from the sporting, entertainment or financial world. However I work under the same rules as doctor-patient privilege. Discretion is a huge part of my job.

Who would play the characters if this was a movie?

Who doesn’t love Keira Knightly after the Pirates movies? Angelina Jolie of course or maybe Cameron Diaz.

For Bobsicle it would have to be Pierce Brosnan or Johnny Depp. Both suave, sophisticated and totally hot.

Dominique the London Madam at the fetish establishment could perhaps be played by Sigourney Weaver or Jodie Foster because they’re beautiful but also have strong, commanding personalities.

My friend Celeste would maybe suit Kristen Stewart. Often we’re really not on the same page about men.

How long did it take to write?

I started to write the book part time as a fun project. It took the form of a diary much like that of the London Callgirl books. That took a couple of years. I thought it was a finished product until my editor Graham Whittaker took one look at it and called it a ‘collection of snippets’. We then spent another year teasing out all the juicy details of each story. The emotions behind my decisions, the atmosphere during bookings, a more in depth look at my life both within the industry and interactions with friends and family. Working girls are not two dimensional. We also live next door to ‘normal’ people. Our kids go to regular schools. We shop at supermarkets and no one would even know what we do for a living. We don’t have a neon sign that follows us around announcing we’re hookers. I see girls out on a Saturday night with heavy makeup and skirts so short they might as well be belts. They look way more like hookers than I ever do when I head out.

What is your next project?

My second book ‘Sex and Sexuality’ has hit the book sales websites. I chat to 21 unique individuals who I’ve met due to my lifestyle. For example a transgender bondage and discipline Mistress, a real-life slave, a gay guy, a bisexual girl who works on sex phone lines, a nudist, a street-walker and her client, a couple of my clients, another high class escort, a paraplegic who talks about before and after his motor bike accident, a brothel madam, a guy who works in an adult store and so forth. Each one candidly reveals their views on sex and sexuality. It was a real eye opener for me. I think they were very honest as they knew what I did for a living and that I wouldn’t judge them for their life choices.

I have another completed book ‘Cougar’which is due for release January 2014. It’s an interview book of both the mature ladies and the young guys they date. None of the answers to my questions have been modified to make them more acceptable to the everyday reader. Some responses are what you’d expect, others are totally left of field. It was really interesting for me to get an insight into why it’s becoming more and more common for people to seek out lovers away from their own age bracket. Readers will not be able to put it down.

What do you measure success to be?

A woman can never be too thin, too young or too beautiful. Men desire to be rich and powerful. It’s in our DNA. That being said, the basic human drive is to be happy, however this takes dramatically different forms depending on personality and background experiences.

Every working girl, without fail, does this job for the money. Other factors such as flexible working hours, travel, gifts, perceived glamour etc are also involved. Please note that it is NEVER because a girl is a nymphomaniac. Yes some of us enjoy great sex at work with certain clients but no working girl would do it for free. That’s just a myth. So to be a successful working girl and make wads of cash is certainly the goal but not a measure of overall success to me. It’s not only about how much you make but how much you keep.

If a girl can be wise with her money, set herself up to be independently comfortable financially, get an education so she isn’t trapped into the lifestyle, provide for her children and keep her sanity I think she’s made a success out of her time in the industry. Unfortunately you don’t need more than a pretty face and a vagina to be a working girl and there is no financial education given to the girls. Statistics suggest that only about five percent of girls are better off financially after having been in the industry for two or more years. Many are addicted to shopping, expensive leases on cars and apartments, support a loser man, dabble in illicit drugs or waste they money in some other way because they believe the money will always be there the next shift. One day they wake up and they’re forty with nothing to show for their years in the industry and the money is harder and harder to make. Youth is so highly prized in this industry. They wonder why guys don’t want them like they used to. It can be very sad to watch.

Who inspires you?

Men and women who have come from difficult circumstances or had unforeseen life challenges and done something about it. There’s no point sitting around on unemployment benefits blaming the government, your parents or anyone else for the situation you’re in. Asses, learn, look for options and work your way out of it for your own sake and for your family’s. The universe doesn’t owe you an easy way out. There’s no knight in shining armour on the way. Grow a set and get on with it. We all choose to either be winners or losers. The winners inspire me.

Who is your favourite author?

Armistead Maupin who wrote the Tales of the City series uses wonderfully simple language, but it flows and paints the most beautiful scenes.

And my editor would shoot me if I didn’t mention him of course and his latest work The Girl from Kosovo.

Who are you as a person? Tell us more about you?

Ohhh, that’s tricky. I have many names and natures to reflect who I am in and out of s#x work. A chameleon who adjusts for her environment. I work in the corporate field and no one in that area of my life would ever pick me as a working girl. But when I’m entertaining as Violet Ivy the client would have no idea that I’ll be in my power suit on Collins St at 8am the next morning brokering deals and kicking corporate butt. It’s amusing for me to mix the two.

A lot of ladies in the industry also have a ‘real’ job as a nurse, accountant, teacher and so forth. It’s a good way to keep the balance and a realistic perception about the big bucks we earn in our lingerie. And when it’s time to quit being a working girl, these ladies have built careers so it’s not such a wrench money-wise to let go of their ‘night jobs’.

I grew up poor on a wheat and sheep farm in the south west of Australia. Every step of my life getting out of that situation was a challenge. Sometimes I made the right decisions, other times I fell flat on my face. But I kept struggling and eventually came out on top, (shall we say). Now I’m independent, financially comfortable, healthy and happy both physically and emotionally. I have a lovely partner who knows all about my ‘other side’ and supports me unconditionally. I’ve just been offered my own radio show and I travel the world on my client’s dime, wining, dining and entertaining the richest men and women on the globe. Not bad for a girl who was destined to work at Kmart and struggle all her life.

Not bad at all, Violet! Kudos for doing what you do and take the best from a world that could just as easily have destroyed you.

I wonder how many readers have a profession that isn’t looked upon with universal approval and dare to talk about it, or would dare to come forward if they had?