Friday, 16 February 2018


This month as we celebrate the centenary of the right for some women to vote, I find myself remembering the remarkable women in my family who have shaped my life but never had the vote in their lifetime. By the time Mandela was released in 2014 my maternal grandmother had been dead almost a decade. It wasn’t until after Mandela’s release that the question of the right for all South Africans to vote was a viability. As South African women under the yoke of the Apartheid system, my grandmother and mother were denied the vote because of their racial status, never mind the fact they were female. Voting for all in South Africa finally became a reality in the 20th century. This is a stark reminder the struggle for equality is very much an ongoing one.

When I reflect on what these women gave me in terms of self-belief, psychological nourishment and love, I’m overwhelmed they did so despite the odds. It highlights the strength of character inherent in their natures. I have no doubt I would never have embarked on my precarious writing journey if I had not had the solid grounding they provided me with.

My mother was a feminist at heart. The example of her fortitude was always before me. In a society and time period which was particularly chauvinistic in nature my parents had a very equal relationship and shared the work load financially and on the home front. I remember my dad being teased by his friends for having a wife who wore the trousers. My dad regularly joked he was ruled by a petticoat government.

My mother was a Jack of all trades, forced to be so by the difficulties of finding a well-paid job for an educated mixed race person in an unequal society. At one point she even opened her own business – a modelling school and agency for African, Asian and mixed race people. Her entrepreneurship in a time when daily discrimination was the norm still astounds me.

 A voracious reader on a variety of subjects, she even took it upon herself (after purloining a chunk of my father’s gambling proceeds) to buy a plot of land. She had realised there was a loophole in current law and took advantage. She then designed a house and commissioned a builder. Sceptical of my mother’s drawings, the builder brought an architect on board. He declared the drawings sound and to scale. My mother never did anything by halves and always urged me to finish whatever I started regardless of whether I was enjoying it or not. This attitude to life was no doubt passed to her from her mother who also endured much hardship during her lifetime.

As an Asian, my maternal grandmother was disowned by her family when she eloped with my grandfather - a strapping mixed race member of the ANC who favoured his Black ancestry more so than his European. Not only did she have to deal with the financial and emotional fall-out of his subsequent imprisonment but later the domestic abuse he heaped on her after imprisonment left him a changed man. She had the bravery to divorce him in a society where divorce was considered a cop out.

So this is the female stock I hale from. I could not be prouder to stand in line with them. Someday I hope to make my mark and pass on the baton of resilience they handed down to me.

So who are your personal Suffragettes and what did they do for you?

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Fighting Talk

Noticing how slow you are to go to the polls dear readers, my WIPs wish to state their arguments for publication one last time before voting ends.  So here they are, speaking for themselves. When you've made up your mind please cast your vote in the poll in the sidebar.

Hi there
My name is THE WITCH ADOPTION PROJECT and I'm a WIP sitting in a folder on Rae's laptop. I want more out of life. I don't want to stay a draft forever more. I want to be published.

So I'm appealing to you dear followers to support my cause and vote for me. Yes I'm young. Yes I'm precocious. But age is only good for wine and cheese. I'm neither.
The rest is now up to you. You know what you have to do.

So folks
The young upstart makes some interesting comments but I'd like to stop you in your tracks. What you want to be doing is voting for me.

It's simple really, I'm the final instalment in a trilogy so you know that means I'm going to be one heck of a read. Besides, I'm SciFi and that cheeky young thing is merely Fantasy. We all know I'm the better genre. So get those voting fingers going. You know it's the right thing to do.

Friday, 9 February 2018

#Indie Intro

#Review: The Spellbound Spirit by Lana Hart

5 Stars for engagement and plot
3 Stars for execution

The plot is a haunting, murder mystery, erotica hybrid with a triangle of lead characters: Misty, Jack and Cassie. We all know the power of the triangle, especially where passion is involved. The murder victim also plays a key role in the events which unfold.

During horrific descriptions there is an engaging use of language which incorporates the senses to good effect. At times though it is somewhat clich├ęd. Some of the turns of phrase are lovely with a clever twist on well used phrases: “She wasn’t about to look a gift ghost in the mouth.” But it is during erotic descriptions where I’m less convinced. This is because it tips into Barbara Cartland mode at times.

The author negotiates big themes of loss, grief and familial mental health with great sensitivity. Misty’s fears regarding these issues feel authentic and are described with an accuracy which suggests the author has an intermit knowledge.

Sections where Jack and Misty are investigating are very engaging as is the dialogue between them as they negotiate old grudges and lingering feelings of attraction. Their characters are well realised and motivations believable.  Dialogue between characters is sometimes over long and at one point there is an overabundance of dialogue back to back which serves as exposition.

The book’s premise is what drew me to it in the first place. However, the main issue I have with it is that it cannot decide whether to be erotica or horror. There is no problem with a hybrid text but unfortunately the erotic aspects do not meld seamlessly with their horror counterpart.

The typography of the chapter headings and end chapter decals was also a touch distracting. Unless I’m reading a graphic novel I feel these to be unnecessary. The book could also have benefitted from a second set of eyes as there are some editing issues. There are also a couple of shifts in point of view which I understand were necessary to help move the plot along but jarred with the rest of the book as the majority of it is from Misty’s perspective with italics for her inner thoughts.

Overall this was an enjoyable read even though I anticipated some of the events which played out at the end. I look forward to reading more of what this author has to offer in future.

Other books by Lana Hart

Friday, 2 February 2018

In The Works: Part 2

When Rainbows Dare [WRD] is the final book in The Rainbow Quest Series of Science Fiction for young adults.  The series is set in an environmentally fragile domed London of the future.  People with limited resources are forced to remain in the Dome unless they can find another way to get off planet. Wealthier denizens rely on artificial intelligence to cater to their every need and prefer living off-world.

In Where Rainbows Hide [WRH], Book 1 in the series, people use genetically engineered chimpanzees (Gen-chimps) to do menial tasks. As is often the case, these Gen-chimps have little rights and suffer constant abuses. A small group escape and set up a resistance movement. So we meet 19 year old Neera Luxquaera who inadvertently becomes embroiled in the resistance when she finds employment on-board a shuttle heading out on an expedition beyond her Domed world.   On-board she meets Chi, a genetically engineered chimpanzee who has managed to move beyond the confines of domestic slavery and Zaq, a child genius who appears more mad-scientist than juvenile.  In this last ditch attempt to find her niche in a fractured world Neera discovers there is more than just gold at the end of the holographic rainbow.

When Rainbows Cry [WRC] is the second book in the series and takes place 80 years after WRH. It tells the story of 14 year old Petra Sucher. Frustrated with the demands her parents place on her as unpaid babysitter for her 4 year old twin brothers, she does what every teenager would in this situation – conducts illicit activities. These lead her on a cross-dimensional adventure with an octogenarian (one of the characters from WRH) and a genetically engineered chimpanzee in tow.  Petra’s shyest twin brother is sucked into the adventure and she is forced to acknowledge that family ties mean more to her than she cares to admit.

Now we finally come to the book bidding for your vote: When Rainbows Dare. The plot of this final novel revolves around several characters from WRC. The focus centres on Petra’s twin brothers, several Gen-chimp younglings, and a cameo or two of characters from WRH and WRC. The twins and Gen-chimps are now teenagers coping with raging hormones and all the angst that brings with it. To top it all off they are engaged in the fight of their lives to ensure the survival of their city and others like it. Towards the end of WRC several characters were tasked with a mission to assist the recovery of the remaining domed cities on earth. Can the youth of the future put aside their differences and curtail their burgeoning love lives to save their worlds?

Now it's decision time: The Witch Adoption Project or When Rainbows Dare

Head on up to the poll at the top right of this post dear readers and cast your vote!

Friday, 26 January 2018

In The Works: Part 1

The main task for the start of this year is to complete the final edit of Palindrome. My aim remains to publish this prequel to Six Dead Men in the Summer. Once this is done there are several projects I could be working on for next year and beyond. But which one should be my main focus for 2019?

Help me out dear readers!  Please vote for the book you’d most like me to work on for publication in 2019. The hopeful contenders are:

The Witch Adoption Project
When Rainbows Dare

This week’s post will state the case for The Witch Adoption Project. It is the sequel to The Lonely Dragon [TLD] and continues the tale of Clarissa, Bruberon & Kastaspella. While TLD was set mainly in Bruberon’s homeland, this story centres on Clarissa’s life now that Jocasta Spellatrix (aka Kastaspella) has become a member of Clarissa's family. It is a coming of age story which also focuses on the trials and tribulations of a young girl forced into the care system by tragic circumstances. But first you will need to know how The Lonely Dragon ended.

Extract from The Lonely Dragon

Clarissa had tidied the bathroom after using it.  Jocasta made sure she left everything as messy as possible and giggled to herself before going to the kitchen.

Horatio Henry turned round from the cooker as he heard Jocasta's usual rumble through the house and down the stairs.  “Jocasta Spellatrix, you go back up to that bathroom this minute and clean it up!”

Jocasta stood in the doorway pouting and balling her hands into fists.  Her face began to look like a tomato.

“Kas.”  Mr Henry's voice dropped a level as he walked towards her, spatula in one hand.  With a gentle hand on her shoulder he swivelled her round to face the stairs.  “It's a simple equation.  One messy bathroom equals no pancakes for you.”  Then he kissed the top of her head and gave her a gentle shove.

Kas walked back up the stairs as though she was under a spell.  She touched the top of her head.  Then looked at her hand.  She could swear that she saw a golden glow sitting there from the kiss.  Jinx swished passed her.

Back in the kitchen Clarissa jumped out of her chair.  She hugged her apron wearing dad hard.  “I love you dad!”

He hugged her back.  “Love you too kiddo.”  Then went back to making pancakes.  “We're going to keep her no matter how hard she tries to makes us hate her right?”

“Right!”  said Clarissa as she spooned more blueberry sauce over a pancake.

Jinx did some cat yoga in a patch of sunlight on the kitchen floor then flopped down contentedly. Clarissa winked at him and he winked back.  Snookie, her mixed breed terrier, came in through the dog flap and flopped down back to back with Jinx in the patch of sunlight.

Clarissa stabbed a bit of pancake, swivelled it round her plate to mop up blueberry juice and popped it into her mouth. She closed her eyes as she chewed and smiled contentedly.

Next week I’ll present the case for When Rainbows Dare then the voting can begin.

Friday, 19 January 2018

Routine Interruptus

I’m big on routine.  As soon as the Christmas break was over and done with I was keen to resume my usual schedule of works. I’m always more productive when I’ve got a regular routine to follow. I’m also lucky that I’m naturally an early riser so getting the majority of my work done in the morning after a large coffee is no chore at all. I don’t even need to set my alarm. I’m sure for those who find early mornings a trial this must sound unbelievable. Perhaps what set the tone was all those 5am wake-up calls when I was a teenager training for ice skating championships. Whatever the reason, I find mornings easy. And I’ve found them increasingly easy the more I do the thing I love to do so much.

So I expected this January to be no different. Of course I wasn’t counting on a bout of the flu to stop me in my tracks.  It caught me totally unawares. I felt a bit out of sorts but was eager to get on with the day to day stuff so contacted parents about resuming schedules. Then followed the projectile vomiting, shivers, painful joints and blinding headaches. No, it was not fun.

Thankfully I’m on the mend but always find a period of illness such a chore. My thoughts always seem to be fighting their way out of an endless fog. It also means I can’t read much because I lose the thread after about 5 minutes.

In short – being ill sucks.

One advantage was that to stave off boredom I watched a lot of TV. I managed to catch up on the majority of my To Watch list on iPlayer. I finally got through the entire series of Peaky Blinders which was recommended to me over a year ago. So it turned out this illness had some gogglebox compensations.

But I’m very glad indeed to be writing once more and am eager to get on with my main task this Spring – editing Palindrome.  Keep your eyes peeled for more news of this prequel to Six Dead Men. It’s due out in the Summer.

So whatever your writing plans for 2018 – may you be productive and achieve everything you set out to. May you also escape the flu.

I write therefore I am.

Friday, 12 January 2018

#Indie Intro

#Review: A Touch of Magic by Lisa M White

5 Stars for story concept
3 Stars for execution

This book was a tonic which helped pull me out of the glums I was feeling after having recently read two overly prophetic books about current society.

It tells the tale of isolated plastic surgeon Jessie Inglewood whose pride and prejudice regarding her profession and practitioners of natural medicine lands her in turbulent waters. With the help of the mysterious Angel and a bit of magic she comes to see the error of her closed off mind.

An easy read, the style is relaxed but plays with ideas of thwarted romance giving us two leading men in the form of heart surgeon Dr Bergh and naturopath Adam Newfield. Which one of these men will claim Jessie’s heart and lead her to happiness? The plot also touches on the consequences of bereavement.

There were moments when I didn’t really believe the dialogue but that did not take away from my enjoyment of the content. It was also a little too obvious who Jessie would end up with ultimately and that aspect of the story could possibly have been more disguised with a few red herrings.

I was however disappointed the author chose not to explore the threat of Jessie’s disbarment from the medical profession. None of this conflict is present in the book. This is a shame as it would have added an extra dimension to the plot. Nor do we discover how Jessie reconnects with her true love.

Ultimately this is a book to help ease the stresses of a hard day and certainly does that. I would however have liked there to be a bit more of it.

Lisa M White