Archive for the ‘fiction’ Tag

A Visit with Jane Bwye   1 comment

Today’s guest on the blog is Jane Bwye, a longtime friend and fellow writer. Welcome back to the blog, Jane.

Bwye Author PicLela, it’s good to be visiting you again. While browsing through your Writing Wednesday blogs, I discovered our interview way back in 2014. It was the very first one in your series. You mentioned that I might be following it up with an article. Well – here it is – three years later, on the eve of the launch of another book!

GRASS SHOOTS, the sequel to Breath of Africa, will be launched on Amazon on 30th March, 2017!

Caption: Elephants in Shaba Game Reserve

“More rocks had appeared on the near shore, captured by the sun. She glanced at the original clump, and back again. They had multiplied, and were covering the sand bar. They were moving…  ‘You’ve seen the elephants?’”

Bwye breath of africa - 902kbThis tender inter-racial love triangle concludes the saga of Caroline’s and Charles’s inter-racial families. Their children climb an erupting volcano, explore archaeological sites along the coast, and go on safari in Kenya’s exotic game reserves. The book pivots round the devastation in a highland village caused by the violence after the elections of 2007.  It touches upon present-day problems with foreign aid, beset by politics and corruption. It explores the possibility of alternative ways to help, which include input from the people on the ground – the ordinary villagers – and a burgeoning Kenyan middle class.

That’s sounds like a great book, Jane … one that really touches on the issues faced in Africa today.

The words I wrote in our previous interview have evolved into the main theme which is one of hope, and charity.

Faith and hope are strong among the poorest of its people, who exhibit a simplicity, happiness and gratitude for the smallest of mercies. Volunteers from churches overseas have had life-changing experiences when visiting to help communities in Africa, and I suspect the spiritual benefit received by those offering charity can be greater than that of the recipients. Africa can teach the rest of the world a thing or two about faith, forgiveness and the philosophy of life. I guess that is why I believe so firmly that there is a future in Africa – even though it may not be the same hope as understood by the rest of the world.

Bwye Kenya07 003 (2)Although I have no personally had the opportunity to do missions in Africa, I have friends who are involved in mission efforts in Tanzania and I think you’re probably right about the spiritual benefit accruing as much ot the missionaries as to the recipients. It’s my experience that Christians who live in difficult circumstances are much more reliant on God’s grace as exercised through faith than we are in the 1st world.

The name of my fictitious charity, which is founded in the United Kingdom, is Grass Shoots; and a significant part of the action takes place in the make-believe highland village of Amayoni, which – in Swahili – means birds.

Bwye I lift up my eyesTropical forest grew in great entanglements around her and its immensity engulfed her. It was denser than she could ever have imagined, with myriad shades of green and mystical shapes and forms, vibrant with life. Bursts of song filled her ears, yet she could see no birds in the thick foliage, which rocked and swished as the wind gusted through.

            Suddenly a branch bent over with a crack, and something large and blue flopped partially into view. Her senses were filled with the glorious sight of a large bird, a flash of yellow on its beak, its blue-green feathers melding into the background. It stayed, majestic, still, for a breath-taking second, then crouched forward and hopped in smooth bounds up the branch.

            “That’s a great blue,” a voice said at her shoulder.

            “A great blue?”

            “Turaco. You’re lucky. They’re a rare sight in this forest. The name of the village you’re going to visit tomorrow is Amayoni, which means birds.”

            They were standing on a closely-cropped lawn gazing over the carefully cultured flowerbeds at a dense wall of trees. A stream raced between them and the forest, its bank smooth and inviting. On the other side, a disarray of broken sticks and branches trailed in the water. A tumble of trunks growing at various angles dissolved into the mass of trees, blocking off the evening sun.

Bwye Grass RootsShe stooped to dip her finger in the torrent. It was icy cold. She straightened her back and pulled her cardigan round her shoulders before following the manager into the Kakamega Forest Lodge.

There is an enhanced Glossary of terms at the back of this book.

This sounds like another great book, an excellent follow-up to Breath of Africa.

Thank you for having me again, Lela. I will be happy to return the favour any time.



Jane lived in Kenya for over half a century, where she brought up her large family. An intermittent freelance journalist and business owner, she has written a cookbook, Museum Mixtures (1989) in aid of the National Museums of Kenya, and a History of her church in Eastbourne (2013).

Her first novel, Breath of Africa (2013) was nominated for the Guardian First Book Award. It draws on her experiences growing up in the country she still calls her home. Grass Shoots, the sequel, completes a family saga through to modern day Kenya. The novella, I Lift Up My Eyes, (2015) is set in Sussex.

A world traveller, Jane has bought a bird book in every country she visited. Now living in the UK, she is a business mentor and dressage judge, while indulging her love for choral singing, tennis, and playing bridge.

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What They’re Saying About “Transformation Project”   Leave a comment

“I had never read any of Markham’s books until last night, and I read two of them in one sitting.” Texanna – Amazon Reviews #apocalyptic #kindle #indiebookboost

Two Cover Montage

#Free #Apocalyptic   1 comment

lifeasweknewitA small town must forge its own disaster plan when terrorism cuts them off. Free Today ONLY.

#Apocalyptic #Free   Leave a comment

lifeasweknewitToday only. Character-focused apocalyptic fiction.

Interview with Sandra de Helen   1 comment

Today’s interview is with Sandra de Helen. Welcome to the blog. Tell us something about yourself.

sandra-de-helen-author-picI grew up in mid-Missouri in the 1950s. I’ve lived in several states including Alaska, Texas, and at the bottom of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. I lived in Portland, Oregon for 35 years before I moved to Southern California last year. I’ve retired from the day job, and I supplement my income by editing, teaching, and writing. I’ve been an out lesbian for forty years, and most of my writing includes diverse characters including LGBTQQIA and people of color.



At what point did you know you wanted to be a writer?

As soon as I knew there were books by living authors, I realized I too could write a book. I think I was eight. I won my first writing contest for an essay when I was twelve. I had a poem published when I was fourteen. The essay was something like “Why I Love America,” and the poem was about abortion, which was illegal at the time.




What is something you cannot live without?

I suppose technically I could live without the internet, but I don’t want to. I love today’s technology, and have been an early adapter forever. I first bought an electric typewriter, then a word processor, and got my first Mac in 1989. Today I use a Mac Air.



Have you written any books that made a transformative effect on you? If so, in what way?

The first book I wrote was a 600-page memoir. In it I tried to tell every story I could remember from age twelve to sixteen. I wrote the 600 pages in six weeks, by hand or on typewriter, and I cried nearly every day. Putting all those painful and shameful stories on paper released me in a way that years of therapy hadn’t. I was able to look at the experiences in ways I hadn’t considered. I was no longer a victim, but the master of my life.


What sort of research do you do for your novels?

I read books, I search online, I contact experts in the pertinent field, and I use my imagination.


If someone who hasn’t read any of your novels asked you to describe your writing, what would you say?

I have a mystery series featuring a female Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, and I have a lesbian thriller in which the serial killer kills only men. (Shocking, I know. Most books are about helpless females being tortured and killed by men.)


Do you have a special place where you write?

I write in my living room in my old Eames lounge chair with my feet up and my lapdesk holding my laptop.



Are you a plot driven or character driven writer? Why?

My fiction is character driven, but I pay attention to the plot. I tend to write tight and not long. I have a story that I show through the actions of my characters.



Do you write from an outline or are you a discovery writer?  Why?

sandra-de-helen-tdc-2700I write from a loose outline. I use the Save the Cat! template created by screenwriter Blake Snyder. That allows me to have a road map and keeps me from getting lost. It’s flexible enough that I have lots of room for discovery. For example, in the book I’m writing now (Valley of Fear, another Shirley Combs and Mary Watson mystery), I’ve reached number five on the template, and all it says is “Debate. Should she try to replicate what is lost? Or to build something new?” And I’m supposed to write thirty pages exploring that question.


What point of view do you prefer to write, and why?

The Shirley Combs series is in the first person, as Dr. Mary Watson narrates, just as the original Doctor Watson narrated the Sherlock Holmes adventures. My thriller is in the third person. I like them equally.



I’m going to drop you in a remote Alaska cabin for a month. It’s summer so you don’t have worry about freezing to death. I’ll supply the food and the mosquito spray. What do you do while you’re there and what do you bring with you? If you’re bringing books, what are they?

I spent six weeks — in winter — in the mountains of Oregon, where I could have frozen to death, but didn’t. I was in a cabin with no radio, no television, no car, and an old wood stove for heat. We got a couple of feet of snow, the temperatures dropped below zero, the water pipes froze, and I was there alone. No telephone either. I took plenty of food with me, a few reams of typing paper, writing paper, pens, a dictionary and thesaurus. I didn’t do much reading while I was there because I had set myself a goal of 100 pages per week. I brought a few crime novels, all by Ruth Rendell or P. D. James.


Talk about your books individually.

My first novel was The Hounding, which is Book One in the Shirley Combs/Dr. Mary Watson mystery series. The second is The Illustrious Client, Book Two, and the most recent published book is Till Darkness Comes, my lesbian thriller.



What do you want readers to think or feel after reading one of your books?

Satisfied, entertained, ready for the next book.



What influenced your decision to self-publish?

I was first published by Fiction Works in e-book format in 1999. It was too early for e-books, and the company went out of business. When the rights to The Hounding were returned to me, I decided to try self-publishing through Amazon. By the time I finished the second in the series, I decided to start my own indie publishing business and continue to self-publish through IngramSpark. By then I had learned a lot about publishing, marketing, and creating my own brand, so I’ve continued.



What do you find to be the greatest advantage of self-publishing?

People who are able to sell books get a better return from self-publishing than from publishing. I’m sure that isn’t true for the big name authors who are with big publishing houses, but they still have to market, and they have less control over their products and their time.


Conversely, what do you think self-published authors might be missing out on?

I don’t think they’re missing out on anything. Again for top tier established authors I’m sure there are perks I don’t have access to.


Who designed your book cover/s?

Beverly Standish at Digital Elf Studios.



Do you believe that self-published authors can produce books as high-quality as the traditional published? If so, how do you think we should go about that?

Yes, I do. But one person working by herself is not likely to achieve that level. I hire a book designer, I hire a cover designer, I hire an editor, as well as a copy editor. I’ve had enough experience now that I have developed a program to ensure my manuscript is as clean and tight as it can be. I have worked diligently to remove all typos and grammatical errors from my books, going so far as to republish them if a reader finds an error. In fact, in January 2017 I will offer my method in an online course called No More Typos!






Till Darkness Comes:                       

Barnes & Noble Nook: 

The Illustrious Client:




Barnes & Noble:




Tanum (Norway):

The Hounding:




Barnes & Noble:




Tanum (Norway):

Posted January 11, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Author Interviews, Uncategorized

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World Wide Release   Leave a comment

Release worldwide on December 11th, both paper and kindle format. The kindle price will be $0.99, and free if a subscriber to KindleUnlimited. The paperback version is $12.00US.
The Beyond Experience by [Reid Jr, Michael]
Michael Reid, Jr.’s website, has the first two chapters, as well as information about the author.

Dr. Lewis had always found a way to hide his deepest secrets: the abuse as a child, the loss of his fiancé, the reasons why he rejected the lucrative offer from Harvard. But, when Kyle, his lab assistant, convinces him to push the limits of the drugs he’d spent a decade perfecting, his lies begin to unravel.

Kyle’s emotional events during treatment forced him to believe it was an event on another plane of life, a spiritual experience at its highest echelon. Thousands of people all over the world were experiencing similar events to Kyle’s, claiming they’d been to heaven. However, Dr. Lewis disagreed, and spent countless hours searching for a neural pathway within the brain itself as the source of the augmented reality.

More secrets, lies, and love drive the two close friends apart, beginning a cascade of events that point Dr. Lewis toward entering The Beyond Experience himself. He fought the treatment for nearly two decades, convinced his terrifying past would confront him. What he experiences becomes far more world shattering than he’d ever imagined possible, but will finally give him the answer to why his fiancé, Lily, had spoken her haunting final words: “forgive me.”

Market Fairs as Economic Experiements   Leave a comment

As a writer with a libertarian bent, I balked at writing pure peasants stuck under the thumb of their overlord, but it would be incorrect to suggest that there were no opportunities or avenues for experimentation in trade in Medieval Europe. The Medieval Fair provided the most successful avenue to experimentation in trade. A trade fair usually required the permission of the king or sponsorship by a local lord or a church dignitary. In Daermad Cycle, Lord Ryen oversees the Cenconyn Horse Faire, for example.

Image result for image of a medieval market fairThese fairs were frequently held at the crossroads of famous and much-travelled trading routes, often where towns were founded that later became famous cities. They coincided with religious festivals or other holidays that would attract large gatherings of people. They might last for a few days, or up to six weeks. The more successful and prominent fairs became national or international institutions throughout Europe, attracting merchants and tradesmen from across the continent. Besides business, the fairs also served as occasions for social diversion and merry-making, with sideshows, wild animals, dancing bears, magicians, musicians, and “freaks.”

The duke or bishop hosting the fair would try to promote its success by arranging for merchants, dealers, and tradesmen to be exempt from the usual taxes, tolls, and trading regulations and restrictions while these individuals were at the fair. Of course, they paid the noble or religious sponsor for this largess through a special fee.

The relatively free trade environment that surrounded the events resulted in them coming to be called “free fairs.” This system of trading fairs came to have two important functions:

First, it acted as a medium through which the different parts of Europe could have regular, though infrequent, contact with each other, and be made familiar with the types and qualities of goods and their methods of manufacture.

Second, it introduced rules of commerce, and concepts like contract and property rights in a setting which showed the gains from exchange provided enhanced opportunities for mutual benefit and profit when regulations, tolls, and taxes did not rigidly hamper the free flow of men and goods. People began to learn the lessons offered from a practice of more-free trade.

Even with emerging appreciation and recognition of property rights and legal contract relationships for commerce and exchange in the towns, the economic system was one of strict regulation of prices, production, and employment through the craft and professional guilds.

The manorial and guild systems meant that the economic focus, political loyalties, and social relationships tended to be limited to extremely narrow geographical confines. Little attention and few political or economic ties connected the various parts of Europe except for the periodic free fairs.

Again, adapting rather than slavishly recreating the system from Europe, my Celdryans have much more freedom of movement and commerce in a system that lacks a king and whose rigs cannot lay claim to a man’s labor if he moves outside of his realm, but a guild system does strangle trade in many places except for the market faires which nobody seems to be able to properly control.

Posted October 27, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in History

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