Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Pirates. Explorers. And Spooky Ghost Hunters.

A very warm welcome to the lovely and talented author, Bish Denham. I'm thrilled to be able to share my blog with Bish today and to let the world know that her second novel The Bowl and the Stone is OUT NOW! So grab your copy! You're in for a treat!

Bish, I've been looking forward to this day for weeks. So pleased you've joined me and happier still that you've brought along Sam and Nick. Please go ahead and tell everyone about your new novel. 

Thanks for inviting Sam, Nick, and me to have a chat, Nicola! They’re excited to be here, and have brought a tall, cool pitcher of limeade and cookies to share with everyone.

Bish: So, tell us why the two of you are such good friends.

*they look at each other and smile*

Nick: Obviously, it’s because of my charm.

Sam: *lightly punches Nick’s arm* He’s about as charming as a mongoose.

N: Seriously, it’s because Sam doesn’t tease me about having such a hard time with school. She helps me.

S: Seriously, it’s because Nick makes me laugh.

Together: We’re practically twins!

S: We say the same thing at the same time a lot.

N: Or finish each other sentences. And Sam’s not afraid of things like a lot of girls.

B: Like what?

N: Like bugs and exploring the bush.

S: That’s because I taught you.

B: How come you have such a hard time with school, Nick?

N: *shrugs* I like school okay. It’s just that numbers don’t stay in my head, my handwriting is terrible, and I can’t spell worth a darn. Oh, and it’s hard for me to sit still for very long. *knee bounces up and down*

S: That’s because his brain is going a mile a minute. He’s always thinking about something to do, something to make.

B: But you like to read?

N: I LOVE to read.

S: It’s the only way he can be still, otherwise he’s up and doing.

*Nick grabs a cookie and slurps some limeade*

S: Such a slob. *he grins*

B: So do you two have a favorite story?

N: Any kind of adventure, like Treasure Island, Tarzan, Call of the Wild.

S: I like those stories, too, but I also like the Oz Books.

N: Oh yeah, I forgot about those. And she likes history.

S: LOVE history!

B: What about ghost stories?

*they look at each other*

N: Used to like ‘em, but since Sam and I got haunted—

S: Not so much.

B: If you could give one piece of advice, what would it be?

S: *no hesitation* Don’t judge people by how they look.

N: *stares up at the ceiling, rolls eyes around*

S: He’s having a brain fart.

N: *makes a face at her* I’d say be nice to people, you never know when you might need the one person you’ve been mean to.

S: *sticks her tongue out at him*

*they laugh*

B: Well, thanks for talking with us. I hope everyone has enjoyed the Sam and Nick Show.

S. & N.: Thanks for having us over, Nicola!

It's been lovely to have you all and thank you for the cookies. Wishing you all much success with The Bowl and the Stone. Great cover by the way! Enjoy the rest of your tour.

About the Author

Bish Denham, whose mother’s side of the family has been in the Caribbean for over one hundred years, was raised in the U. S. Virgin Islands. She still has lots of family living there whom she visits regularly. 
She says, “Growing up in the islands was like living inside a history book. Columbus named the islands, Sir Francis Drake sailed through the area, and Alexander Hamilton was raised on St. Croix. The ruins of hundreds of sugar plantations, built with the sweat and blood of slave labor, litter the islands. Then there were the pirates who plied the waters. It is within this atmosphere of wonder and mystery, that I grew up. Life for me was magical, and through my writing I hope to pass on some of that magic.”

The Bowl and the Stone: A Haunting Tale from the Virgin Islands, is her third book and second novel. You can find Anansi and Company: Retold Jamaican Tales and A Lizard’s Tail, at

To learn more about Bish, you can visit her blog, Random Thoughts.  She can also be found on Facebook, Twitter @BishDenham and at Goodreads.

Pirates. Explorers. And spooky ghost hunters.

It’s 1962. Sam and her best friend, Nick, have the whole island of St. John, in the U. S. Virgin Islands, as their playground. They’ve got 240 year-old sugar plantation ruins to explore, beaches to swim, and trails to hike.

But when a man disappears like a vapor right in front of them, they must confront a scary new reality. They’re being haunted. By whom? And why? He’s even creeping into Nick’s dreams.

They need help, but the one who might be able to give it is Trumps, a reclusive hunchback who doesn’t like people, especially kids. Are Sam and Nick brave enough to face him? And if they do, will he listen to them? 

As carefree summer games turn into eerie hauntings, Sam and Nick learn more about themselves and life than they could ever have imagined.

Available now at:  Amazon  and Smashwords 

Pop over to Bish's blog now and take advantage of her generous GIVEAWAY!

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Ready or Not?

Today is the first Wednesday of the month:  Insecure Writer's Support Group blog! The IWSG is a safe place for writers to express their fears and insecurities in a supportive environment. Join us at And don't forget to sign up for the IWSG Newsletter - it's filled with great advice written by writers for writers.  

This month's IWSG Reflective Question: When do you know your story is ready?

Another thought provoking question from the IWSG this month and a difficult one to answer. Are we ever 100% sure that a story is ready? I always ask myself: have I written the story to the best of my ability? Once I can honestly answer ‘yes’ then it’s time to get another opinion and call on my critique group.

Critique groups are great because they can point out things that the writer has missed – maybe there’s a flaw in the storyline or a surplus character that detracts from the story. Once I’ve gained different perspectives, I’ll make any necessary adjustments, go through my editing process again, read it out-loud, let it rest for a day or two and then give it a final read through before submitting.

During the publication process of my short story collection, I went one step further and asked 12 willing friends, with different backgrounds and careers, to read through each story and give me their honest opinion. This worked really well and the feedback helped me to make each story the best it could be. I was also reminded that I have some amazing friends – so grateful.

My main insecurity this month: Feeling overwhelmed
My biggest insecurity this month has been tackling the rewrites of my novel. I let it rest a couple of months after I received the report and notes from my editor and now that I’ve started working on it, I’m a bit overwhelmed. But soldier on I will. I just want to get it done and finished so I can start my next big project! (Two years is long enough!)

Thanks to all for another superb and extremely helpful IWSG Newsletter. Great job!

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Alpine Adventure

Last week, I visited the idyllic Alpine town of Obertsdorf in Germany. On a previous visit, I came home with lots of scribblings for story ideas. This time, not so many written notes but mental notes of the experiences: the food, the local street markets, the friendliness of the people, the spectacular views, plus the unfortunate experience of being rescued from a mountain due to physical exhaustion! Oops - should have read the map more thoroughly. 

A View Outside my Window
The view from my hotel window was lovely and directly opposite was the town's church with a working bell tower! Dreamy - but not during the night when the bells toll every quarter of an hour!

The weather was glorious for a couple of days. I took the cable car up the mountain and then walked along mountain paths, enjoying the scenery. 

Söllereckbahn Obertsdorf

It was hot! Hot! Hot!
I ventured higher on the second day and watched the weather rolling in through the mountain peaks.

Fellhorn, Obertsdorf

Alpine water
The final hiking day ended with me in the back of an ambulance, but the views before that were amazing.

Over the border into Austria

Fast flowing due to the steep gradient

Alpine cows, happily grazing on the mountainside

Enough adventures for me for a while. Now it's back to getting words down and completing projects - before Christmas!

Have you ever visited the Alps? Does nature inspire you?

Happy writing!

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Time and Uncertainty - IWSG September

Today is the first Wednesday of the month:  Insecure Writer's Support Group blog! The IWSG is a safe place for writers to express their fears and insecurities in a supportive environment. Join us at And don't forget to sign up for the IWSG Newsletter - it's filled with great advice written by writers for writers.  

 This month's reflective question: How do you find the time to write in your busy day?

Writing is always part of my day, in some form or another. I have notepads and pens placed around the house and in my handbags, and my mobile phone is close at hand, so any ideas that pop into my head are quickly written down or recorded. For actual sitting down at my computer and writing, I plan!! Normally on a Sunday evening or a Saturday when my husband is watching Bayern München play football, I plan my writing week. My best time for actually writing is first thing in the morning before the day starts to interfere with my routine. I retreat to my office space (the spare bedroom), close the door and don't allow anything to disturb me until I've accomplished what I set out to do. Naturally, as with us all, if I hit a stumbling block on a particular day, I either leave that piece and come back to it, go onto something different, or take a break - without beating myself up.

My main insecurity this month has been 'uncertainty'. 

I used to have a top job that gave me financial independence, confidence because I was extremely good at it, self-worth and daily doses of motivation and adrenaline. It did come hand in hand with truck loads of stress and I was working 14 hour days - sometimes including weekends. Three years ago, I decided to leave that job in order to concentrate on my writing, as well as finally having time for my family. But I do miss the financial independance - I thought I would have at least earned some money from my writing by now. My confidence has dipped due to the lack of results - hard work is supposed to pay off but I'm not seeing that just yet and my motivation to continue down this lonely track is dwindling. Do you have these feelings of uncertainty at times? How do you manage them?

Wishing you all a super September! Thanks to our IWSG co-hosts this month: C. Lee McKenzie, Rachel Pattison, Elizabeth Seckman, Stephanie Faris, Lori L MacLaughlin, and Elsie Amata.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

10 Things to Consider

As I stepped out into the garden this morning, I immediately noticed an autumnal scent in the air – a clear reminder that summer has been and gone for another year. But I am not sad. There is so much autumn fun coming up: novel edits, new short stories to be written and subbed, NaNoWriMo, meeting old friends and making new ones, and the IWSG fantasy anthology details are due out next week! All good stuff! Life is peachy.

In light of the forthcoming IWSG short story competition, I thought I’d share my top 10 tips for writing a successful short story. Hope you find them useful.
  1. A catchy, no nonsense first couple of sentences, introducing the problem and the main character.  eg. Max hit the ground hard. The bullet whizzed past his ear, scorching his skin. This immediately plunges the reader to the ground with Max and the intrigue begins. What’s happening? Who’s shooting at him? Why?
  2. Ensure your protagonist is likeable – the reader should be rooting for him/her throughout the story.
  3. Don’t fall into the trap of too much telling. Lift the story and keep its dynamic by showing the reader what’s going on, how people are feeling. Too much telling slows the pace and can lose the readers’ interest.
  4. Use effective dialogue. Let the reader hear your characters, after all it’s their story. And try to show how things are said rather than tell the reader. ie. “Get out,” yelled Max angrily could become Max’s jaw tightened and his nostrils flared. “Get out!”
  5. Maintain suspense – throw in an obstacle, complication and/or a crisis that the protagonist needs to overcome in order to resolve the initial problem.
  6. Don’t be predictable. The reader may feel cheated if something is too obvious or if they guess the outcome too early in the story. Naturally the outcome is generally in favour of the protagonist but he/she must work for it and not be handed the solution on a golden platter or an intervention from a genie or magical being (unless you are writing for Walt Disney, then go for it! That would be a cool job…'When I wish upon a Star…’). Now, where was I…?
  7. Choose a catchy title that will give the reader no choice but to delve right in and read the story. I usually leave my title to the end but I do know writers who can’t write without a title. Whatever works best for you.
  8. Use a variety of sentence lengths. This is a great way to control the pace of a story if done effectively. A one word sentence can have a tremendous impact as can a lengthy sentence with two or more commas to ensure the reader doesn’t pass out whilst engrossed.
  9. Edit the story well. Find and eliminate all unnecessary words. Tighten up the sentences. Check for spelling errors and typos. Read it out loud. Record it and listen to it. Get someone else to read it. Chrys Fey has an excellent ‘Ultimate Editing’ list – check it out. Thanks Chrys!
  10. Most importantly, the writer should enjoy writing the story. Feel excited during the writing process. The words (at least in the first draft) should flow easily. If you are searching for words or struggling over a sentence then leave it and come back to it when you are more relaxed. I learned this the hard way and continue to learn. Readers pick up on a writer’s stress. If the writer isn’t feeling it, then the reader won’t either. For example, I wrote a story that I worked really hard on. The story needed to be told but I focused too heavily on vocabulary and perfectionism rather than telling the story through my characters eyes. This is what my trusted Beta reader commented: I would love you to rewrite this, really from your heart. I need to feel the anger, the uncertainty, the smell and the fear. I don't. It comes across in a removed, over descriptive mode which can feel forced and artificial due to the number of adjectives used. I think what I am saying is it is not raw enough. You are trying too hard which can at times make it too contrived. Naturally I was disappointed but she was so right -  an invaluable learning curve.
Are you entering the IWSG anthology competition? Do you have any tips to share about writing short stories? Are you looking forward to the Autumn season?