Friday, 26 November 2010

A Chat with Author Susan Schreyer

How could I be so lucky!  *all smiles* I recently joined a writers' group O-Pen Writers when a friend sent me an invite....and through that, I met a new on-line writer friend, Author Susan Schreyer, whose debut novel 'Death by a Dark Horse' has recently been launched.

Guess what!  Susan has kindly given me the opportunity for an interview! Yay!!!

I'm so excited to share with you what we've talked it is:

When did you realise you wanted to be a writer?

Susan Schreyer (SS): You know, that's hard to say. I've always admired writers -- kind of held them in awe and wished I could weave a captivating story, too. I've played around with writing all my life and didn't get serious about it until I found myself with time on my hands and a need for a creative outlet.

Do you remember the first writing piece you’ve written?

SS: Yes! I remember the title, but not the story! It was called, "The Mystery Of The Golden Horseshoe." I think I must have been about 7 when I wrote it.

Is there a particular place, aside from your work space at home, that you favour when you write?

SS:  No. I do my best work at home where I know I won't be interrupted. It's important for me to be able to lose myself in my story-world and turn off the radar that keeps me aware of my surroundings. When I come out of my story-world I often find I'm disoriented as to the time of day, or even what season it is!

Do you want it quiet when you write or do you prefer some kind of music in the background to help you concentrate?

SS:  It really has to be quiet, at least in the room where I work. Listening to music will put me too much in the here and now, and keep me from "hearing" my characters.

Let’s talk about your debut novel, Death by a Dark Horse – how long ago was it when you began to write this novel?

SS:  I started writing Death By A Dark Horse about five years ago. It started out as an experiment. I wasn't sure I could do it, but decided I wouldn't know unless I tried. The first draft only took me about four months to complete -- which astounded me. Of course the rewrites and editing went on for quite some time. It was a learning experience of major proportions!

Can you tell us about Death by a Dark Horse? What is it about?

SS:  Death By A Dark Horse is about a young woman, Thea Campbell, who is yanked out of her peaceful, ordered existence by the theft of her horse, and then pushed beyond the boundaries of her experience. Here's the back-cover blurb:

Thea Campbell goes out for revenge when the one person who is the most likely and least likely candidate for thief steals her horse. But Olympic hopeful Valerie Parsons is past caring about being arrested. She’s dead. At first Thea’s horse is assumed to have killed the woman, but when the coroner determines it was a human hand and not a horse’s hoof that ended Valerie’s life Thea becomes a person of interest. Now intimidating people with little regard for due process are showing up on her doorstep looking to even the score. Toss in her wrecked love life, a sexy geology professor who stirs up more than dust, and an alleged psychic horse, and it soon becomes apparent that Thea’s predictable life is now out of control. As she takes charge of clearing herself of the murder she discovers the victim had a knack for making enemies—one of whom is Thea’s ditsy sister. She pursues her investigation with more at stake than ever, and in a seedy biker bar comes face-to-tattoo with information that will lead the police to the real killer. She dutifully reports to the detective in charge. But Thea is wrong. As close to dead wrong as she ever wishes to get.

Did you have to research to write the story?

SS:  I did some, but not a lot for this book. Since I've trained and taught dressage for many years and live in the area where the story takes place I didn't need to research those parts.

How did you create your characters? Are they real people?

SS:  The characters are very real to me, but didn't previously exist! Seriously, this is a really good question, and it has a complex answer. Certainly, each character is born from my own imagination, and therefore part of me. I've used my memory of people I've known -- mannerisms, physical characteristics, and so on -- to draw them into fully realized individuals. Once in a while a character will leap, fully formed, into my mind. It's a startling experience! Other times I have to almost beg a character to reveal himself or herself to me.

Can you tell us a little bit about your characters?

SS:  Thea is twenty-nine, single and, in addition to being an accomplished amateur dressage rider, runs her own accounting business. She's smart and self-assured -- at least on the outside -- and pretty "button down." Her younger sister, Juliet is the wild-child. She rides a motorcycle, acts impulsively, and is pretty sexy. Their Aunt Vi and Uncle Henry live nearby. They're British and Henry represented Great Britain in two Olympic games before retiring to raise horses and teach. Thea and Juliet both depend on Vi for motherly advice. And then there's Paul, the handsome geology professor, who adds confusion to Thea's world when she's already got more going on than she can handle. I could go on, but I'll let you discover Valerie, Greg, Eric and the rest on your own!

Do you have a favourite character in Death by a Dark Horse?

SS:  I haven't mentioned Blackie -- The Black Queen's Bishop -- Thea's 7 year old Hanoverian gelding. He and Thea have a special connection, and if you're a horse-person, or any kind of an animal-person, it's the connection you've harbored close in your heart ever since you fell in love with the four legged creatures as a child. I promise you, you will understand how she feels about him.

Are you working on any other projects right now? If so, can you tell us about them?

SS:  I'm currently getting the second book in the series ready for publication. The title is Levels Of Deception and will likely be available in February. This book takes Thea from western Washington to the wilds of Montana to solve a murder and crack a theft ring. Many of the same characters are in this book that were in Death By A Dark Horse. Plus there are new, and fascinating, additions. There is also third, yet untitled, book that I'm working to polish, and a fourth in the planning stages.

Do you have any tips to share with aspiring writers out there who would like to follow in your footsteps?

SS:  The first tip is WRITE! Then find yourself a support group of other writers who can help you through the rough patches. Take classes when you can, seek advice when you need it. Listen to constructive criticism, but not to the criticism that crushes your spirit. Writing is hard work. Don't give up!

Thank you very much, Susan, do you have anything else to add?

SS: I'd love to have your reader come visit me at my website - Susan Schreyer, or my blogs - Writing Horses and Things I learned From My Horse . Thank you so very much for having me on your blog! Best of luck in your own writing!


There you go, I hope you've enjoyed reading the interview as much as I did.  If you love mysteries, you'll love Susan's novel, Death by a Dark Horse.  Please remember to visit her blogs!

Thank you so much again, Susan,  for this opportunity.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Be safe in this weather!

Just got home.  We were supposed to relax tonight but it was totally the opposite.

On the way home from Great Yarmouth, there was a heavy fall of sleet, rain and snow.  As a strong gust of wind blew against the windscreen of the car, my husband and I heard something snap.  We did not know what it was until we noticed the wipers had stopped moving.  We couldn't see the road!  We were on a long narrow road with no lay-by!  We stopped for a few minutes but realised that we were causing too much traffic so husband drove slowly to find a safe place to stop so we could phone the breakdown service.  It scared the hell out of me!  We couldn't see a thing with all the rain and the big lorries coming from the opposite side of the road splashing and spraying more water and mud on our windscreen!

After a few more minutes - which felt like forever - of facing danger, we finally found a safe corner and pulled over.  The breakdown van came in less than half and hour, fixed the windscreen (which needed replacing so the repair was only temporary) and followed us home - to safety. 

Whew.  Thank God we're okay.

Now I'm going to grab a blanket and wrap myself up, have a cup of hot choco and relax in front of the telly.

How about you?  Anything exciting happening?  Whatever you are doing, I hope you are all safe this Thanksgiving. Take care!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, 22 November 2010

Would I finish it?

My manuscript, that is.  I'm currently reading Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird.  One chapter is all about sh**** first drafts (yes that's really how the author called it in her book) .  I've just finished my sh*** first draft and now working on the second draft.  The first time, after more than 3 weeks of 'hiding' it in my drawer, I've had a look at it, I couldn't make myself to read it.  It felt like I've wasted months and months of hardwork.  I've written rubbish.  There's no story at all, just a collection of senseless chapters!  I wonder if all writers feel this way?

Tonight, I was sat in the loo -LOL! yes, of all places, that's where my characters haunt me, when I try to concentrate to read something or file my nails - so there I was, thinking and saying to myself  'No way I'm ever going to finish this story!  No way! Then I saw his lovely face in my head.  Yes, my main character who is an eleven year old boy.  I'm not kidding you - I could see his beautiful blue imagination could be frightening my characters become alive in my mind.  And earnestly, he asked, 'Don't you want them to know about me? Don't you want to tell them my story?'

It's weird but I had goosebumps on the back of my head.  Then I thought of the film, The Neverending Story, where the characters in the book are dying.  The only thing that can keep them alive are the children reading their story.  Without them, the story doesn't exist. 

In my weird 'vision' in the loo, it was as if my main character was telling me that if I don't write about him, he'll die.  He will never exist. Oh, God.

So I replied (in whispers of course, or my husband who was in the living room would definitely come to a conclusion that I still talk to myself in the mirror - this time in the loo!) Okay, then, I will finish your story.  I will write about you.  I will tell them your story.

And now, I'm back to work.  Yes, doing the second draft.  I hope this comes out good, that in the end it will not be as sh****, help me, God!

How about you?  Have you ever felt this way?  Like your story is going nowhere?  Did you feel like what you've written was all rubbish? 

Sunday, 21 November 2010

What are you reading?

First of all, let me thank author Margo Kelly for the Sunshine blog award she's recently given me.  Thanks, Margo!  You've certainly made my day!

I have been trying to keep my mind away from my finished first draft manuscript.  I have been successful for two weeks now.  I still think of what I have written and I can honestly say I still do know each and every chapter so I don't know what it really means by 'rest and take your mind away from your manuscript so that when you read it to do your 2nd draft, it's as if you are reading it for the first time' when everything will still be fresh in my mind after one or two more weeks.  I honestlly feel an urgent need to do revisions now!  I have to switch on to my 'editing mode'!  I wish I could do this instantly like other writers!

So, what have I been doing?  I've been reading ravenously.  In ten days, aside from living a busy, normal life, I've finished four novels (which I still find to be rather slow but I've improved a lot) - Billionaire Boy by David Walliams, I am Number Four by Pittacus Lore, Can You Keep a Secret by Sophie Kinsella and Talli Roland's debut novel, the enjoyable, book-you-cannot-put-down:  The Hating Game.  I thought I'd share with you what I've read. The Hating Game will have a separate review post on 01 December 10.

The Billionaire Boy by David Walliams is hilarious!  It really made me laugh in delight whilst reading it, to the amusement of my husband who seemed to think I've gone nuts! 

Here's the gist:
Meet Joe Spud, the richest 12-year old inthe world.  Joe has everything he could ever want:  his own Formula One racing car, a thousand pairs of trainers, even an organg-utan for a butler!

Yes Joe has everything he wants, but there's just one thing he really needs:  a friend....

For 9 years old and above.
My rating: Five stars.  A must-read by both children and adults for a good laugh!

I am Number Four by Pittacus Lore is another one to read!  It's a page-turner.  (Author's name is also fictional).

Here's the gist from the book:
John Smith is not your average teenager.  He regularly moves from small town to small town.  He changes his name and identity.  He does not put down roots.  He cannot tell anyone who or what he really is.  If he stops moving, those who hunt hiim will find and kill him.

I recommend this to teenagers, it's a good read!

Can You Keep A Secret by Sophie Kinsella
And yes, it's been awhile since the last time I've read a Sophie Kinsella...and this one rocks!  I enjoyed every page!  A must-read!

Here's the gist on the back cover:
Emma is like every girl in the world.  She has a few little secrets.
1.  I lost my virginity in the spare bedroom to Danny Nussbaum while Mum and Dad were downstairs watching Ben Hur.
2.  I'm a size twelve.  Not a size eight, like Connor thinks.
3.  I've always thougth Connor looks a bit like Ken.  As in Barbie and Ken.
4. When Artemis really annoys me, I feed her plant orange juice (whichis pretty much every day)
5.  It was me who jammed the copier that time.  In fact, all the times.
6.  My G string is hurting me.
7.  I faked my maths GCSE grade on my CV.
8. I have no idea what NATO stands for.  Or even what it is....

.....Until she spills them all to a stranger on a plane.  At least, she thought he was a stranger....

My rating:  Four Stars

The Hating Game by Talli Roland
Please see excellent reviews on  I will also be posting my review on 01 December 2010, in time for Talli's Blogsplash!

How about you? What are you reading?

Note: The above are quotes from the books mentioned. This is not a paid advertisement.

Disclaimer: This is my web blog, the opinion expressed above are 100% mine and not that of the author's or publisher of the above-mentioned book. This site makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, currentness of any information and will not be liable for any errors, omissions in this information arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Exciting Shout-Outs!

Hello!  I have missed you all my fellow bloggers!  Life gets in the way at times :( and the weather, too, haha!  I have got a few shout-outs that I don't want you all to miss.
Here they are, in no particular order:

Exciting Shout Out One - One of my favourite bloggers, Gemma of Retrochick was featured in Shout Mag, pages 48 and 49.  She was one of the judges of the Search For A Teen Simple Star competition.  I find it exciting to see a blogger friend and a former colleague to be featured in a mag! She will also be on BBC radio Norfolk at 11:30am with Flint Hair and Flamingo Amy to promote the vintage hair styling event on 26th November!!  Please don't forget!!!

Exciting Shout Out Two - I was reading Grazia Magazine (Issue 295, 15 November 10) yesterday when I chanced upon two articles that really made me gasp (I always do that when I hear or read about writers I like)!  They were Emily Giffin, page 137 (a small article about her book, Heart of The Matter) and Jodi Picoult, on page 143, telling us about the books she's currently reading.  How amazing!!!!  Here are some snapshots of the pages:

So you might want to have a look eh?  I have read Jodi Picoult's Picture Perfect and Change of Heart and they were absolutely brilliant books! Jodi has got a unique way of writing.  I have never read anything like her kind of writing.  One of my TBRs is Emily Giffin's Love the One You're With and I got very good feedback about it!!! Will tell you about it soon!

Another Exciting Shout-Out - Please don't forget Talli Roland's Blogsplash on 01 December 2010.  The Hating Game is absolutely fantastic!!!! :))) Will post my review very soon! You can visit Talli's book website, here's the link - Talli Roland.

Oh and by the way, we've got a little bit of sunlight today, yay!!!  My husband and I went to Great Yarmouth to take advantage of it...and I've been so bad - I had KFC! 

I hope you all are enjoying the weekend :))))

Monday, 8 November 2010

Another Rainy Monday

Yes, it's another rainy Monday...and the wind is freezing!!!  This is why I've got some good news for you to cheer you up. 

There are more giveaways!!!! Jen Daiker is getting close to reaching 1000 followers so she's got some giveaways, please visit her blog and hurry!  Here's the link:  Unedited.

Another exciting news! Theresa has got another article published on BlogHer! Please don't miss it:  Substitute Teacher's Saga.  Theresa has mentioned in her article, Break or Break Up how she misses bloggers when they disappear.  It's the same with me...I do miss my blogger friends. I am so guilty of not posting very often when life gets busy and when I have to focus on my writing so I don't even get to reply to comments and sometimes not regularly visit blogs when I disappear for a week or so.  So I hope you all forgive me, but I will try my best to come and visit you and leave a comment when I can.

Tonight isn't too bad.  I'm watching a Michael Caine film with my husband, munching chocolate coated raisins and peanuts (they are not M&Ms, they only look like they are!)....hmmm...the calories, I know! 

Would you like some?

Here, have some.

Hope you are having a beautiful Monday, although I know it's quite miserable out there.

I hope you are all keeping warm! :)

Sunday, 7 November 2010

A glass of red wine with Julie and Julia

The weekend has come and gone!  It's been raining at this side of the world, but I never let the weather put me down.  Saturday night, while it was pouring down with rain outside, I was warm in my blanket and had a glass of red wine in front of my laptop, watching Julie and Julia.  Awhile back, I have read somewhere that it is a good film so when my husband and I went to Asda Saturday afternoon, I headed to the DVD shop and finally got it! (And just want to throw this in - I ate rubbish yesterday, too - McDonald's!  Is that too bad?)

If you haven't seen it yet, go and get a DVD because it is absolutely inspiring.  Merryl Streep was superb!  And Amy Adams, too!  I love how Paul (Julia's husband) told her how amazing her book is and that is a book of genius and that it is a book that will change the world!!!  That scene was so endearing.  Julie's husband wasn't so bad himself, ever so supportive of Julie all the time, even in her madness.

Yes, I liked the film so much.  And I felt really sad that Julie never met Julia.  And Julia never really knew what effect she had on Julie and how she turned her life around.  Tonight, I surfed the net and looked for anything written about Julie and Julia and came across Julie's blog!!! Yes, her real blog!!! The blog that was on the film!  I got so excited so I am now sharing it with you.

Here's the link:  The Julie/Julia Project .

Hope you enjoy it...and the film, too.  Because I did.

Have a great Monday, everyone!!!!

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Jessica Bell is giving away Prizes!!!

Hi all!  How's your week going so far?  I know, I know, it's only Thursday, isn't it?  Hang in there, it will be Friday tomorrow, then it's the weekend once again...yayyyy!!!!

Now, to my blog post - more prizes to win! This time it's Jessica Bell!!! Please visit her blog - The Alliterative Allomorph for details on how to win!!!

As a teaser, she's giving away Amazon Cards and a Surprise Prize - Something Greek!!! Is there anything else cooler than that? Here's the link again - Alliterative Allomorph.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Ali Cross is giving away a new Book by Rick Riordan!

Hello fine friends! Thank you for all your comments yesterday on my writing space! It was fun seeing yours as well....I've seen the most divine writing desk, the perfect window, the most serene work space I have ever seen!!! I must thank you because it also prompted me to clean my desk and de-clutter my own space!!!! Yay! I still have my bulletin board to clear.  My husband has been complaining about the phone numbers, he doesn't seem to know where to find them because they are all over the board. So, okay, okay, will type them up tonight.

But that's not what this blog post is about.  It's to announce once again about Ali Cross' contest. Sorry, the announcement was drowned by my excitement about the Show Your Space blogfest. 

So here is it once again.  Ali is giving away a signed Rick Riordan's The Lost Hero!  It is sooo cool!  For details, please click here.  Go now go! :)

Monday, 1 November 2010

My Space!

I think I'm getting addicted to blogfests, har har har!!!!  I just found out that Summer has another exciting thing going on - Show your Space Blogfest!  So here I am!

Here is my little corner at home:

Pardon me for all the mess on my desk...I think my space is rather too small for all the clutter!!! 

I don't have a certain ritual when I write.  Usually, my background music is my son's CD player playing the tune of Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 or The Carpenters with the pipes.  I have come to learn to concentrate and let the thoughts flow with songs in my ears.  I don't usually listen to any kind of music when I'm writing or reading.  I don't know - there are times when I just cannot concentrate.  But I guess I just got used to it.  So most often, I don't mind any more. Right now - it's Beatles' Michelle with the harp!

What have I got in this little corner?  Let me show you some close ups:

My desk with less clutter:  my laptop, phones, desk lamp, pens and that small note box is a gift from a friend.

1.  I have a map - I don't have any geographic sense so I need this all the time when I'm writing and I have to refer to a specific place or country.  I also need it when I'm reading - and yes, even when I'm catching up on blog posts of my bloggie friends!!! I need to know where you are exactly in the world!!!

2.  I have a calendar - Again, I forget the date all the time!  I need to be able to refer to the calendar when I've got a phone call from the school, the GP, or the nursery.  Yes, that's my life...but hey, no complaints!

3.  I have lots and lots of post-it notes on my cork board...which reminds me, I've got to clean it up!!! So sorry for the mess :(  These notes have all the important thoughts or ideas for my next chapter that I don't want to forget, other times they are lists of books that I'd like to read or names of authors, and some of them are telephone numbers that I've got to, again, keep on my wall and again, for easy retrieval!

4.  I've also got a shelving unit to my left with all of my TBR books...ooops sorry some of them I've already read but got mixed with the TBRs! :)

Oh, please don't forget to visit other participants and have a look at their work spaces!!!! Here's Summer's blog link again - ...And This Time Concentrate!

Happy First of November, NaNoWriMo and A Contest!

Let me thank everybody who visited my blog and left comments for Theresa's Halloween Haunting!  I'm so pleased to meet new bloggie friends!!!! 

Writers get all busy today, as it is the first day of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) so all the best to all of you are participating!  I hope that November will not be too quiet or it will be too lonely for me and the rest who have not joined the fun!

Not a big blog post today.  It's been a busy weekend but in all the 'busy-ness', I still got myself a few more books to read - three of which are Sister by Rosamund Lupton, Family Album by Penelope Lively and I am Number Four by Pittacus Lore.  I am so excited to read I am Number Four.  I couldn't find a paperback so I've got a hardback which is toooooo heavy to carry around with me (Kindle to be considered??? Hmmmm.) And of course I also look forward to reading the others!

And...I'd like to share with you a very beautiful quote which my bestfriend sent me (Thanks, Wen!).  It's from a book entitled "A Perfect Day" by Richard Paul Evans. Here it is:

"All life belongs to you, [young novelist] and do not listen to those who would shut you up into corners of it and tell you that it is only here and there that art inhabits, or those who would persuade you that this heavenly messenger wings her way outside of life altogether, breathing a superfine air, and turning her head from the truth of things. There is no impression of life, no manner of seeing it and feeling it, to which the plan of the novelist may not offer a place."
By Henry James
The Art of Fiction

Waaaiiittt!!! Please visit Ali Cross' website, she's got a contest and you can win Rick Riordan's The Lost Hero!!!! Go now go!!!! :)