Grandma Break


Following a lot of other bloggers is a wonderful thing. You get to open your WordPress reader and see so many interesting posts streaming down the page just waiting to be read. I follow writers, readers, travellers, photographers, cooks, grandparents, young people, middle aged people, older people – everyone with their own unique point of view and special location.

But at times this abundance, this potpourri of story is a double-edged sword. The times I watch all those great posts streaming down the page and I have no time to read and know I will never catch up – those times are hard to bear.



But we all need a change of pace at times and the stories will keep coming, fresh and new for when I finish up doing active Grandma duty and have a moment to sit back and relax. For now, it’s go, go, go. Swimming pool, park, go for a walk, play in my room, let’s build a fort, let’s play a game – LET’S PLAY ANYTHING AT ALL! And my all-time favourite – they wanted to play book store and they let me sell my books at their store. What could be more fun?


The swings

Patience all my favourite bloggers, I will be back to read and like very soon. Until then, well – the order of the day here is fun, fun, fun.

Bike Riding at Jerry Sulla Park

Author Kristin Anderson’s double book review: Disappearing in Plain Sight and The Light Never Lies

A couple of really thought-provoking book reviews for the Crater Lake Series – Disappearing in Plain Sight and The Light Never Lies. Kristin Anderson’s take on the novel gave even the author a couple of ‘aha’ moments 🙂 This blog is another stop on the tour so get your comments in over on Kristin’s blog for a chance to win a book.

Author Kristin Anderson

Earlier this year, I announced that I would be delving into the world of Indy author book reviews. Since then I have acquired a diverse array of reading material, and it was difficult to choose whom to read first. But then I came upon the intriguing Crater Lake series by Indy Author Francis L. Guenette. Set in a lake side community in Canada, the Crater Lake Series currently comprises: Disappearing in Plain Sight (January 2013, Friesen Press) and The Light Never Lies (2014 Friesen Press).

Disappearing in Plain Sight by Francis Guenette

When I read the first chapter of Disappearing in Plain Sight, I knew that author Francis Guenette was an accomplished writer, but I was worried that I had signed up to read a teen romance. Instead, I discovered a book that explores relationships between friends, lovers, personal identity and the myriad factors that shape a person’s current…

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To Read Gillian Hamer is to Fall in Love with Northern Wales

Menai Bridge & Menai Straits

It is my great pleasure to have Gillian Hamer on my blog today. She is the author of three exquisite, crossing genre books (Closure, The Charter, and Complicit), all set in Northern Wales.

SONY DSCBorn in the industrial Midlands, Gillian’s heart has always yearned for the wilds of North Wales and the pull of the ocean. A company director for over twenty years, she has written obsessively for over a decade, predominantly in the crime genre. She is a columnist for Words with Jam magazine and a founder member of Triskele Books. She splits her time between Birmingham and a remote cottage on Anglesey where she finds her inspiration.

Without further ado – take it away, Gillian.

My love of North Wales and Anglesey is genetic, passed down particularly from my father who spent most of his childhood holidays along the North Wales coast as his family (courtesy of a car mad eldest brother) were one of the lucky ones to own a motor at that time.

Consequently, that passion filtered down into my childhood too. Caravan trips were followed by a family owned cottage, and some of my earliest memories (like digging for treasure from the Royal Charter on Red Wharf Bay) have later made their way into my stories.

Anglesey is such a beautiful island (if you catch it on a good day with the sun shining) and reminds me very much of the landscape of Cornwall. It has the same rocky coves and golden beaches, the same high cliffs and tidal estuaries, and most importantly the same strong Celtic traditions.

Southstack Lighthouse, Holyhead

It also caters for my love of history and archaeology. You can’t help but admire the Neolithic remains, from burial mounds to hut circles. Plus the Roman influences, from abandoned towns to Bronze Age slave chain finds. Coming from the Midlands, right in the centre of the UK, I’ve always been amazed at the wealth of archaeology to be found around Anglesey, but after reading Island of the Seas, I came to realise that the coastal areas were populated so much earlier than the mainland, because of the inhospitable forests that covered most of Britain, and the earliest transport being ships. It was easier for Bronze Age people to transport themselves and goods from Cornwall to Anglesey than it was to venture inland.

TheCharter_Cover_KINDLEI find inspiration everywhere on the island. My first novel, The Charter, came from the earlier mentioned tale of treasure hunting. I grew up with the legend of the wreck of the Royal Charter and have visited the church at Llanallgo (that features in the novel) many times.

Llanddwyn Island - Cover for Closure

With Closure (which was actually the first book I wrote about the area) I used my love of

Closure_Cover_EBOOK Llanddwyn Island (on the Menai Straits opposite mainland Caernarvon) as the inspiration and setting. The name Llanddwyn comes from the Saint of the same name, who is actually the patron saint of lovers. There is an ethereal quality to the place, which I just had to write about, including the pilot boat cottages and lighthouse as they are today.

Complicit_Cover_EBOOKAnd finally, in Complicit, I used my love of history. I’ve spent many hours in Beaumaris, or one of the other villages along the Menai Straits, staring out at the beauty of Snowdonia Mountains on the mainland opposite, and pondering where the Romans actually staged their invasion. There have been rumours and counter-rumours over the years, but still it is a mystery, and I wanted to explore what it would have been like at the time, from both the Roman and Druid sides.

I’ve enjoyed taking these real life historical facts and threading them into modern day murder mysteries. However, in my next books, I step away from the past and focus on the present, with a series of straight crime, police procedural books, titled The Gold Detectives.

But it goes without saying, location won’t change, Anglesey and North Wales will remain at the heart of my novels.

Gillian, thank you for sharing your writing inspirations with us. Now, just in case you aren’t totally hooked and already on your way to buy one of Gillian’s books, I want to share my five star review of, Complicit.

Prose that snaps off the page, crisp, clear and powerful

I loved this book and simply couldn’t put it down. If it takes a special reader to enjoy bouncing from AD60 in Northern Wales to a police investigation in 2013, then I must say, I am that reader.

No spoilers in this review – the book is a mystery wrapped in layers of history and I won’t give any of that away. What I can say is that the characters in this book come alive with thoughts and emotions that ring true and make the reader truly care about what’s going to happen to them. I was amazed at Hamer’s ability to describe a setting with such clarity – be it a windswept cove or the inside of an older woman’s home. Thinking back on the novel, it is almost as if I had been watching a movie rather than reading a book, the images of the setting are so clear.

Without a doubt, I am on the lookout for more of this author’s work. Bravo, Gillian Hamer.

Llyn Penninsula on Welsh Mainland

Click any of the three book covers above to go directly to or follow this link to a special boxed set of all three titles.

For more information visit Gillian’s website or follow her on Twitter

All photos courtesy of Gillian Hamer with many thanks Smile

Selling My Books: Francis Guenette’s Top Tip for Book Promotion

The latest stop on the blog tour – I discuss book promotion with Deb Young over on Off The Shelf. Remember – every comment gets you another chance at a free book.

Every Writers’ Wednesday, a successful self-published author shares a favourite book promotion tip here

Francis Guenette Meet Canadian author Francis Guenette

I’m delighted to welcome Canadian author Francis Guenette for the first in a series of conversations with self-published authors talking about the best way to sell more books.  Fran is the author of two excellent novels (read my reviews on my author blog here). Living and writing in the vast, sparsely populated countryside of British Columbia brings its own marketing challenges, and I really admire how Fran has capitalised on local opportunities to get books into bricks-and-mortar stores. 

Debbie Young: What is your all-time favourite top tip for book promotion? This needn’t be the one that has sold the most books – it might equally be one that you enjoy doing so much that it keeps you motivated for the rest of the book marketing grind!

Francis Guenette: Developing contacts…

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“So many people are shut up tight inside themselves like boxes, yet they would open up, unfolding quite wonderfully, if only you were interested in them.” ― Sylvia Plath

A thoughtful review of Disappearing in Plain Sight. Should get you in the mood for the sequel – The Light Never Lies. This post is another stop on the blog tour. Commenting makes you eligible for a free book.

Jade the Obscure

Beautifully captivating.

Disappearing in Plain Sight – Francis Guenette


Francis Guenette lives with her husband on the West coast of British Columbia. She has an MA in counselling psychology and is on the way to completing a PhD in education psychology. Throughout the course of her life she has worked as an educator, trauma counsellor and researcher. Guenette now spends most of her time writing novels that draw on her own life experiences. The first book in her debut venture, The Crater Lake Series, is entitled Disappearing in Plain Sight and was released in 2013.

The book introduces the reader to sixteen-year-old Lisa-Marie, sent to spend the summer with her aunt Bethany in a remote town on the edge of the fictional Crater Lake. Her aunt resides in a simple A-frame within the confines of Camp Micah, a counsellor’s camp for young ways and strays. Like any sixteen-year-old, Lisa-Marie is instantly…

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The Woods by Ron Geigle. Location, Location, Location–Special Feature

Skyriver - Geigle Designs

I am happy to welcome Ron Geigle to my blog today as part of my special location, location, location feature. Ron is the author of a stunning novel entitled, The Woods. In his guest post, he has been kind enough to share his own connection to the specific location that has influenced his writing.

Take it away, Ron

Writing “The Woods”

One of my earliest memories—I was about five—is of the terrifying screams of a woman several houses down the road who had just learned that her husband had been killed in the woods. He was hit in the head by a broken limb. I was riding my tricycle, but hurried inside at the behest of my mother.

Geigle Designs 3Where I grew up—in a valley on the west side of the Cascade Mountains in Washington state, very similar to the setting in which my novel, The Woods, takes place—the mountains and the woods were where the earth touched the sky. To the east of our house, the horizon was a jagged line of soaring, snowy peaks; on the west, it was green-black forest.


Most of the men in the community worked in the woods—hard, back-breaking work. And such dangerous work, where whipping cables and falling trees were just the start. Young men, when they got out of school, went to work there too. They didn’t have a lot of other options.

Maybe it was because this was how our community lived, and how so many of its members died—or how the forest and mountains defined every part of our lives, sun-up to sundown—that I wanted to write a book about the woods. Or maybe it was the stories my father told me about the years he spent up there as a young man. He used curious words that, to me, rung of Americana—riggingslingers and whistlepunks, to name two. And, of course, I heard from him tales of the brawny, foul-mouthed axe men, the union zealots, the many drifters trying to make their way, as well as of the ordinary men who were churchgoers and family men. All of this, I suppose, made me want to set down this hard, yet often heroic kind of life, in words.

But that’s still only part of it. Growing up amidst these natural wonders made we want to tell about them. I loved the woods. I loved the dank and mossy smells; how you could stand amidst soaring firs and not even see the sky.

Geigle Designs 2

I hiked in them and played in them. Fished the lakes that you got to only by laboring upward for five miles, then dropping down another on the other side, to reach a lake of pristine blue, packed with rainbows. From the tops of the ridges where the Pacific Crest Trail travels, you could see ice-caked mountain tops for miles, craggy granite ravines below, and trees—the mighty Douglas firs, mostly, that covered the valley floors and the shoulders of the steep mountains and that ran every direction the eye could see.

To me, these were, and are, natural monuments. They defined our existence, even as they confined it. They provided such beauty and life; even as they brought fear and death and hardship.

Although my novel is about logging, it is also about other things. One of them is the spiritual aspect of things, of life. For me, and many of the characters I write about, these mighty firs and these granite monoliths—unmoving, ice-capped, powerful—take on a presence far beyond their physical manifestations. The loggers may log, the hikers may hike, and men and creatures may move in and about the woods, but the unfettered, god-like power of the natural world prevails—no, dominates. The trees, the streams, the hawks, the snowcapped peaks, even men, are but texts from that natural bible.

Geigle Designs 1

Thank you, Ron for this wonderful guest post.

Here is my review of Ron’s book, The Woods

Landscape Artist of the Word

The Woods CoverThe Woods is an amazing book – a sweeping examination of an era, an industry, and the political forces that swirled around both. But more than that, it is story of emotions and relationships that are timeless.

I would describe Geigle, the author of The Woods, as a landscape artist of the word. His descriptions are so finely layered and crafted, whole pages flew through my mind as if I was watching a movie. If I close my eyes now, I can see the trestle bridge that spanned the Three Sisters Ridge, high up in the Cascade Mountains, the depression era streets of the town of Seakomish, the remote Skybillings Logging Camp, the Shay locomotive chugging along, loaded with huge logs, the shantytown – Hooverville – on Seattle’s waterfront.

This review would be remiss if it didn’t highlight a few snippets of Geigle’s descriptive voice. In every case it is the juxtaposition of images that is so riveting. The horizon swam from its blackness to a murky grey; St. Bride hitched up his pants over a melon belly; he scrambled easily over the matchbox chaos of fallen firs; the feathery blue water of Puget Sound; most people wrote him off as another meaty logger, uneducated and coarse; describing the city of Everett – a small, ugly fighter, never standing a chance in the fight; describing the Seakomish River – the white-water anger at the upper elevations churned clouds of pine needles; ravines so steep winter leaves only on the summer wind; an image of the loggers at work – stripped to their waists, the steam rose from their shoulders as the sharp curls of red, oily wood sprung outward from the ends of their saws, like spools of confetti in New York ticker-tape parades; and finally, Lummi Island – rising like a humpback whale out of the water.

Combined with the ability to paint an incredibly clear picture, Geigle has created characters that stay on the reader’s mind long after the book has been completed. The multiple-viewpoint perspective has been done flawlessly. We hear the story through the eyes of Albert, an eighteen-year-old working up in the bush with the scepter of his own father’s logging-accident death hanging over him. Albert is wise beyond his young age, a thinker, a lad open to the swirling, mystical landscape that surrounds him. Bud Cole, a man trying to breathe life back into a small logging operation he lost in the worst years of the depression, haunted by so much of his past he is willing now to risk all. Lydia Weissler, Albert’s mother, a responsible school-teacher trying to rebuild her life in a relationship with Claire Ristall, union organizer and slick talker who would seem to be the perfect catch.

My hat is off to Ronald Lee Geigle – he obviously set out to write a blockbuster and he succeeded. A brilliant story, artfully crafted against stunning settings, with nothing at all in the way of editing, proofing or formatting issues to distract the reader. Well done on all fronts.

You can find The Woods at or at the iTunes Store.

(photos courtesy of Geigle Designs)

Location, Location, Location


Have you ever read a novel where the setting was so breathtakingly described that you almost felt as though you had seen the movie version?

Lately, I have had the pleasure to read several self-published books that left me with just that feeling – novels in which the setting became a character in and of itself. I started to get curious about the relationship between a writer and a setting that was so vividly described. I speculated that to write in this way, an author probably has a unique relationship with a particular location. I decided to explore this idea by inviting these authors over to my blog to do a guest post on this topic.

The first of these authors has already appeared – Linda Gillard was here to tell us about her inspiration for her latest novel, Cauldstane. Her post was resplendent with Scottish castles and Highland scenes. This Saturday, March 15th, I will be featuring Ron Geigle, author of The Woods – a stunning novel set in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State. The following Saturday, March 22nd, Gillian Hamer will be here to share how her relationship with Northern Wales became integral to three of her novels.

After organizing these guest posts, I realize I’m setting a pattern. I’m indebted to Deb Young from Off the Shelf for giving me an idea. She wrote a post announcing a new guest feature on her blog entitled: Selling My Books – Top Tips from Self-Published Authors. Guess who is going to be her first guest, next Wednesday, March 19th? Yes, yes – it will be me – the next stop on my book tour. I hope you’ll pop over on the 19th and get in on another chance to win a book prize.

Anyway, as I read Deb’s post, I realized that I might do something similar.

So – here goes – I am announcing a new feature on my blog – Location, Location, Location. If you have self-published a novel that is set in an area you are intimately acquainted with and if you would like to write a guest post on the ways your knowledge of this setting has influenced your writing, please let me know. You can email me at

I’m going to try and schedule these posts for the 1st Saturday of every month. I’ll want to read and review your novel before featuring your guest post, so give me some lead in time. I’ll also ask that you supply a few photos of the location you are writing about.

I’ll leave you today with a photo of the location that figures so dominantly in my books – the inspiration for Crater Lake.


Getting Out and About with Book Signings and Blog Touring

The past three days saw me out front and visible in several small communities in my local area, hosting book signing events. I’d like to tell you I sold a ton of books, but the reality of these types of activities is that they’re not about the bottom line of selling. They’re about showing up, connecting with readers and having a good time while doing both. Selling books is most definitely an icing-on-the-cake (maybe) by-product.

Here’s a little photo album of the last three days.

DSC_0219         P1100058


All set-up and ready to go! Don’t you love the back-drop to my book table? The Oscar Hicke’s Hockey weekend saw most people busy over at the arena, but F.P. Foods had its share of traffic as well.


P1100076           P1100118

Over in Port McNeill, at MarketPlace IGA, my books are prominently displayed and I have time for chatting with old friends like Bob Wheeler.




Coffee meet and greet over at Captain Hardy’s in Port Hardy. Wonderful chat with other local authors, aspiring writers and readers! Stayed until lunch and the Hawaiian Chicken Burger and fries was to die for.  (And P.S. – I did sell some of those books!)

Many thanks to the local merchants who let me come in and set up shop in their space. And thanks to all the people who stopped by to chat. Nothing warms a writer’s heart more than someone who sits down and says, “Tell me how you wrote a book?” or, “Tell me why you wrote a book?” or even, “Who the heck do you think you are to write a book?” As Bob Dylan would say, “It’s all good.”

On the social media front, my blog tour is officially in full swing. Please pop over to The 4 A.M. Writer where Gwen Stephen’s has been kind enough to host a guest post and please jot down a comment. Remember – there are two free softcover books (mailed to the lucky winners) up for grabs during this tour. Every comment gets your name in the draw bag. More comments = more chances. Check out the whole tour schedule on the separate page tab at the top of the blog so you can stay up to date on all the stops.