Behind the Book: Stuck on Vacation with Ryan Rupert by Pagan Malcolm

I am so excited to do this interview with the talented Pagan Malcom. She’s a best selling author of both indie and traditional books and shares her wisdom to support others.

Today’s Behind the Book is on her debut novel Stuck on Vacation with Ryan Rupert.

What inspired you to write this contemporary romance?

I went on a week long holiday to an island resort in my hometown area back in 2012. During my stay, I wasn’t really enjoying myself—so I began to fantasize about what would make the holiday more interesting. The setting around me inspired me, and my fantasies developed into proper characters and a plot. By the time I left the island resort, I had a whole story idea ready to be written.

How hard was it to self-publish your first book?

Not that hard, actually. That’s not to say that I did everything right (hence why I relaunched the book two years later), but in terms of researching and going through the actions, it was quite easy. Platforms such as Createspace (which is what I used originally) and Amazon KDP make the process SUPER easy.

It’s not the publishing part that’s difficult—it’s the launching part, because a launch is more marketing than anything else. That’s why I created my course Storyseller Academy (now that I’m more versed in publishing and launching), which dives into all that sort of stuff.

What has been the biggest challenge for you?

Back then, it was building my readership. I was from a small regional town in Australia of just over 3,000 people. I didn’t have an online presence. I didn’t live near any big cities so I couldn’t just head over to a writer’s festival or attend a panel to listen to experts. I didn’t know how to find my ideal readers, or market my book, or anything like that. Because of this, my first launch flopped and I think the most discouraging thing was feeling isolated—like I didn’t have anyone to reach out to for help because I didn’t know anyone.

What is the earliest story you can remember writing?

It was a 10 page, illustrated book called “The Adventures Of Sandy Island” and it was a rip off of Charlie And The Chocolate Factory. I replaced all the characters, changed Willy Wonka into a pirate, and added an evil lion (???). I was like, in Grade 4, and my parents had to educate me on what copyright was. I soon felt embarrassed and threw it in the bin—and my mum has never forgiven me because she wanted to preserve it for later years.

Can you name any similar books to Stuck on Vacation?

Quite a few—none of them are exactly alike but a lot of these share similar themes of love-hate relationships, boys next door, being stuck in places you don’t want to be and adorable romance:

  • Magnolia by Kristi Cook.
  • My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick.
  • The Boy I Hate by Taylor Sullivan.
  • Faking Delinquency by Ashley Winters.

Please share a snippet or teaser from Stuck on Vacation?

He pulled me into the room as I reached out to drag in my suitcase. I dropped it on the floor as he shut the door behind us.
And then he had me pressed against the wall, breathing in my scent, holding me in his embrace. “I can’t stand the thought of you slipping through my fingers again,” he whispered.

“I’m not going anywhere,” I promised. His intense gaze was driving me a little crazy—in a good way. I hadn’t realised how much I wanted him around me. I’d been so focused on the thought of him betraying me that I’d ignored the raw pain I felt in his absence.

He pressed his lips to mine. His kiss was soft and gentle, like he was afraid I might yell at him again. His fear of losing me was evident in his touch. He was treating me delicately, as though I was fragile, like he was afraid to cause another fight.

Have you ever had a holiday romance?

snorts I wish! That’s why I just write about my fantasies instead. Hahaha!

Who is your book crush love interest?

Okay at first I thought you meant the person I based Ryan Rupert off of (which is a secret I will NEVER tell—mwahahaha) but my book crush love interest?


What a question.

How does one even narrow that down?


I’m going to have to go with Wes from Clouded by Envy, by Candace Robinson. There are a LOT of great book boyfriends out there, and Wes isn’t really dramatically special when you take them all into account (I’m perfectly aware I could be claiming stake on a supernatural boyfriend right now—trust me). But I like his humour and he seemed attractive and he was a good big brother. All big brownie points in my book.

What project are you currently working on?

Quite a few. I’m writing 3 books right now that are all due… like, now—lol. I also just launched a membership site for my readers to access bonus bookish content, and I’m working on a ~secret project~ that I can’t say much about yet, but it involves tea. wink

Where can we find out more about your coaching, courses and buy your books?

For my books, check out (you can also find the membership site there—but you have to be a Patreon supporter of mine for access).

For my coaching and courses, check out

Redfae Bookshop is my Affiliate shop link.


If you enjoyed this you will like:

Behind the Book: Soul Bearer by Elexis Bell

Behind the Book: The Sentinels (series) by Cassidy Reyne

Book Review: Wiccan Romance – Amelia’s Story by Nicola Hebron

Book Review: The Practice Boyfriend by Christina Benjamin

Book Review: And The Stars Were Burning Brightly by Danielle Jawando

The book I received was an ARC copy through Net Galley. The copy had a few typos but it didn’t detract from how incredible this book is.

The novel deals with some very serious issues; bullying, cyber bullying, mental health, bereavement, and suicide. If these are triggers for you then you should avoid but if not… THIS IS A MUST READ!

The Beginning

The book is told in first person from three characters.

Each chapter starts in italics with Al’s thoughts. But, Al has gone. He’s dead. He commit suicide.

Nathan is the younger brother of Al. Nathan is in shock and blaming himself. Not only did he find the body but he ignored a phone call from Al. In addition, Al’s death doesn’t make sense. Nathan obsesses with wanting answers.

Megan was in Al’s art class. Megan liked Al, he understood her better than her long term best friend, Tara. But, Al isn’t considered popular so she kept their friendship hidden from others. When Al dies she creates a Facebook page to honour him, much to the surprise of Tara.

The Middle

Nathan unlocks Al’s phone and finds texts between Al and a girl, Sophie. He never knew Al had a girlfriend. It looks like they broke up suddenly. He notices Al has drawn her in pictures and tries to contact her to find out more, but can’t get hold of her.

Nathan finds other secrets in Al’s paintings. He believes Al was trying to tell them what happened. There’s a symbol drawn over and over. Nathan’s family encourage his to drop it. But, Nathan can’t let it go. What does the symbol mean?

Megan feels guilty for not being a better friend to Al. His absence forces her to face how Tara isn’t really her friend. Tara is always with her boyfriend Eli who enjoys making fun of Megan. And, Tara isn’t much better.

Megan decides to make a Facebook page in Al’s memory. When she sees Al’s younger brother she let’s him know. The page is positive with people sharing their condolences.

Nathan sees a comment on the page from Lewis saying he’s sorry. Nathan tries to find out what Lewis is sorry for. Lewis used to be Al’s best mate but they stopped hanging out together. Lewis began hanging out with Eli, someone with a very bad reputation. Nathan wants to know why but whenever he tries to speak to Lewis, Eli gets aggressive. This fuels Nathan’s suspicion and anger with Lewis.

The Facebook page starts to attract the wrong attention. People make fun of Al’s appearance and making fun of his suicide. Nathan is upset by the comments and blames Megan for creating the page. Megan deletes the comments and is upset. This wasn’t what she wanted.

When Nathan calms down he apologises to Megan. She’s very understanding. She has a lot of empathy as she lost her dad in a car accident. Al’s death brings some old emotions to the surface for her. She uses her experience to support Nathan through this difficult time. Megan and Nathan begin to bond over grieving for Al.

Al was a talented artist. Megan feels a great loss over Al and decides to put on an Art Gallery with all his work to remember him.

Megan and Tara fall out. Tara doesn’t understand why Megan cares so much about Al and is very rude and insensitive. She only is nice to Megan when she falls out with Eli but as soon as they are back together she drops Megan. Megan is at the point that she no longer cares. She doesn’t need Tara. Tara decides to throw a house party the same day as Al’s funeral.

The End

Nathan does get his answers. Things come to ahead at the funeral and everything unravels. He discovers the reason Lewis is so sorry. He discovers the ugly horrific truth behind the symbol and what drove Al to his end. Nathan goes after revenge and I didn’t see the end coming.

Megan learns through Al to go after what she wants. That she doesn’t have to accept her home town is all she can be and realises she could go to uni.

And, despite the heartbreaking truth, Nathan and Megan get a happily ever after.

Final Thoughts

Wow! You must read this book.

The voices of the characters were so vivid. I could see them as real people. Even Al. These people will stay with me forever.

The story was heartbreaking and expertly written. I had to find out what happened next and sometimes I had to calm down before going to bed. I had no idea how it would end. I was shocked by the revelations but it made sense.

Never has a novel caused me to shake with anger, fear and sadness all at once. OMG! As a writer I want to learn from Danielle’s mastery. As a reader I am desperate for more!

Despite all the sadness and ugliness the novel still has a happy ending. But, there is also a strong message about bullying and suicide. This book should be read in every high schools and discussed. This book could save lives.

Redfae Bookshop is my Affiliate shop link.


If you enjoyed this, you will like:

Book Review: Wiccan Romance – Amelia’s Story by Nicola Hebron

Book Review: The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa

Book Review: The Practice Boyfriend by Christina Benjamin

Behind the Book: Soul Bearer by Elexis Bell

My To Be Read Pile

Click my link tree to discover more ways to connect with me:

Where To Find The Best Indie Books

There are so many amazing books out there. It’s easy to go for the main stream books because they’re easy to get hold of. And, they are awesome.

But if you only read main stream, you are missing out. Once you delve into indie books you’ll discover unique books that don’t have to fit a mould. But, where do you find these amazing Indie Books?

Don’t worry, World Indie Warriors has sorted it for you.

WIW Spring 2020 Brochure

Who are World Indie Warriors?

That’s a good question. They are a diverse group of creatives and indie businesses that have all come together to support each others growth.

The Indie Brochure

I helped WIW by creating a brochure to showcase their members’ products and services.

Did I mention, the brochure is FREE!

It’s packed full of indie books, products and services. There are details on how to connect, buy or get involved. The best way to discover what’s inside is to take a look.

Go check it out now! Click here.

Get Involved

The best way to get involved is to:

Indie Authors / Indie Services / Indie Products

To be in the next brochure, discover how by reading the Submissions Call post on the WIW blog here.

If you enjoyed post, you will like:

World Indie Warriors Brochure (Dec 2019)

Why I Love WIW

Camp NaNo Progress – Days 11 to 20

Behind the Book: The Sentinels (series) by Cassidy Reyne

Camp NaNo Progress – days 11 to 20

I finished day 10 days by editing chapter 4. This update is on how the middle of April has gone (days 11 to 20).

I started off by celebrating how well the first 10 days had gone by watching Contagion with my husband.

Chapter 5 and 6 needed more work than I expected. This slowed my progress and affected my motivation. I got them done but I felt like I was getting nowhere fast.

Then, I literally was getting nowhere. I was so exhausted in the evenings that I wasn’t doing any editing. I read. I attended online writers meets. But, I wasn’t editing. I realised I needed a break and took a night off to watch The Quiet Place with my hubby.

I’ve been using Google Docs and a Trial of Dabble Writer. I really love Dabble writer but can’t use it on my mobile. On the last day of my trial, they released the Dabble Writer App for mobiles. I really liked it and was very tempted to buy it.

I finished day 20 by completing my edits for chapter 7. I’m frustrated with myself as it’s not as far as I’d hoped for.

Here are my responses to World Indie Warriors Instagram photo challenge:

#NationalPetDay – My Cats

I have two cats, Evie and Gracie.


Evie has the nickname Evie Knievel for all her dangerous antics and vet visits as a kitten. She thought she was the neighbourhood vigilante. Thankfully, she is more chilled now.


Gracie looks very elegant, like a Burmese Blue but she’s just a moggy and shows her true colours when she’s fed. Greedie-Gracie-Guzzlechops sings for her super and scoffs it down like a pig, with the snorting noises.

Favourite writer memes

There are so many but I thought it might be fun to make my own up.

Here is my “Aspiring Indie Author” meme, inspired by the ‘What I do…’ memes.

Aspiring Indie Author

When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?

Age 5. As soon as I learned books were written by someone, I knew I wanted to be that someone. My first stories would be classed as fan fiction as they featured characters from Orchard Tree books and were about more magic key adventures.


I think I’m a Plantser. I’m somewhere in the middle.

For a long time I would just pants my way through a novel. Sometimes I’d write a brief outline. But, I was just writing for fun, for me, and it didn’t matter if it was any good.

It wasn’t until I decided I would try and publish that I realised what a mess my manuscript was in. And how much I hate editing. I realised I need to plot more to reduce editing.

I invested in Save The Cat and it showed me how to plot. It’s been a game changer and I now use it before starting a novel. I still write a brief outline and only plot one Act at a time, not the whole novel.

I like the freedom of pantsing too much to plot every detail. In my plotting, I still allow myself some gaps to fill. An element of surprise is the fun part of creating.

MidMonth Check In – How’s It Going

I’ve split the month into thirds. So, on my blog I’m sharing how I got on at the 10 day mark, 20 day mark and 30 day mark. But, I gave a mid month check in on Instagram.

Indie or traditional publishing?

I’ve spent a long time chasing the Traditional route. It appealed because I wanted validation from someone in the industry. I wanted someone to support me with guidance on what to do when and with access to the resources I needed. I wanted publishing and marketing done for me.

But, now, I am pursuing indie publishing.

As a member of World Indie Warriors I am not alone. Many other members have published successfully before me and are willing to share their experience on what worked (or didn’t) and the best resources. I am also doing Pagan Malcom’s Story Seller Academy course which is full of useful information. I now struggle with time to digest it all but I know what I’m doing or who to ask for help.

The biggest hurdle was a change in mindset. The moment I decided I no longer need validation to be good enough because I know I am. With that, I no longer needed permission to publish. I will publish when I want.

As for the marketing… it turns out I really enjoy it. I love talking about my writing and connecting with others. I love sharing book reviews and recommending books. My creative side loves making images to support my content. One day, I’m hoping to make videos too.

It is hard to find the money to invest in myself but when someone says, “What do you want for your birthday?” My answer is money. It goes in my publishing pot. I keep adding to it. It’s not much but little by little it grows. One day, this pot will by my published book(s).

#FactFriday – Tell us something interesting about yourself?

I’m a pretty open person that I’ve probably already shared anything remotely interesting already.

I am a natural redhead. I now love my hair and embrace it as part of my identity but that wasn’t always the case.

Favourite Indie Book?

Campfire stories: Any local myths/legends

My favourite folk story is about the green children of Woolpit, Suffolk. During the 12th Century, a boy and a girl appeared. Nobody knew where they came from and they could not speak a word of English. But, the most bizarre detail was that they had green skin and would only eat green beans.

As they learned to eat different foods they became a more normal colour. They were baptised but sadly the boy died shortly after. The girl learnt to speak English and told of the place she came from called Saint Martin where everyone was green. The girl was called Agnes and married Richard Barre.

I discovered the story because I fell in love with Michael Talbot’s faeries. I’ve collected many. The original three were my favourite and has green skin (but, I only own one of these). When I learned the factory allowed tours, I planned a day out for my mum and boyfriend to come with me. We saw the faeries being made & hand painted & their delicate wings crafted. Afterwards, we visited the local church when I happened upon a leaflet about the Green Children of Woolpit.

My favourite film is Labyrinth. I discovered the artist behind the film was Brian Froud. I bought his books and one of them contains a story about The Green children of Woolpit.

The Green Children are special to me. They inspired two of my favourite artists and filled my heart with wonder.

If you ever switched genres, what would you switch to?

I’ve written most genres but there are some that I’d like to give more attention.

Current plot bunnies include a dark fantasy, an erotic paranormal romance, a contemporary YA, dystopia sci-fi, a children’s chapter book and more picture books.

I like magic, fantasy and sci-fi in stories so I am unlikely to write a novel that is a cosy mystery, crime or a thriller. But, I’d never say never.

I would love to see your answers to the above. Let me know if you are taking part on IG or posting somewhere else.

If you enjoyed this post you will like:

Camp NaNo Progress (days 1 to 10)

Book Review: Save The Cat

Book Review: Crown of Conspiracy by Kara S Weaver

Behind the Book: Sorceress of Truth by J D Groomuh

Behind the Book: Soul Bearer by Elexis Bell

Soul Bearer – Elexis Bell

What genre is this book and can you name any similar books?

This one, like many of my other books, is high fantasy romance. It’s slow burn romance mixed into a hero’s quest.

You write books of different genres, does this mirror your reading style?

Very much so. I tend toward high fantasy romance, but also read dystopian, post-apocalyptic, thrillers, psychological novels, paranormal, and various things relating to WW2. In most cases, I prefer to have a romantic arc within the story. I don’t like contemporary or reverse harems. And I rarely read younger than Young Adult.

Are there any genres you cannot see yourself writing?

Contemporary, Harem, or Reverse Harem. I got close to harem/reverse harem with a novel that’s currently in edits (title to be announced later), but it doesn’t quite fit the bill. It just has several love triangles.

What inspired your novel Soul Bearer?

A dream, actually. The prologue was a dream. None of the characters in it were going to do the work of fixing the whole dragon problem, though. It was perfect for setting up the world and showcasing the issues facing the main characters, so I kept it as the prologue.

Which mythical or magical creature do you wish was real?

I’ve given this a lot of thought, probably too much. Honestly, I don’t know which one I would choose. I can’t think of a single one that wasn’t an absolute nightmare in some tale or other, and I have terrible luck. If I chose a mythical or magical creature to make real, it would be the bad version of it. Or it would be the good version, but humans would poach them for their horns or magical feathers. I do wish humans were more interesting, though. Horns, wings, tails, whatever.

Tell me about the krakken style octopus on your website?

That octopus was a gift and rests in the center of the coffee table in my library. It’s my favorite animal, and I have several of them scattered through the library (most of which are not real, though I do have a few preserved in formaldehyde). They’re intelligent, creative, and unbelievably unique. They use tools and communicate by changing the colors of their skin. They shapeshift, morphing their bodies and altering the texture of their skin to lure prey and hide from predators. There are even a couple octopus cities in the ocean now, a fact which is one part awe-inspiring and one part terrifying. Basically, I just find them fascinating.

Please share a snippet or teaser from Soul Bearer?

Spinning slowly, Aurisye looks at everything around her. Chaos rules the land as the great red beast rules the air. Another roar threatens to shatter her eardrums, quickly followed by another stream of fire as the dragon flies overhead, so close that Aurisye could count its scales if it would only hold still.

She reaches out, passes a hand through the tip of its tail as it passes her. The dragon roars so loudly that, for a moment after, the world loses all sound. A high-pitched ringing sound punctuates everything, chasing away the screams and the crashing of buildings falling in upon themselves.

Up above, the dragon executes a perfect hair-pin turn and rockets itself toward Aurisye. Yellow eyes shining in the firelight, it stares straight at her, the only being here capable of seeing her. Each flap of its wings fans the fires all around, sending them climbing even higher into the atmosphere. Jaw dropping, it prepares to launch a blazing assault on Aurisye.

In an instant, she snaps back into her body, sitting bolt upright on the roof of her cottage. Her chest heaves with choppy breaths, pulling nothing but panic into her lungs. Her heart races, and she puts a hand to her chest to calm it.

Only then does she notice the soft red light coming from the mark on her arm. Her world goes cold. She pulls the sleeve of her jacket down to cover it, hoping it didn’t draw any undue attention.

Where can we find out more and buy your books?

My website has information and links for all my published works, as well as little tidbits about my WIPs. My blog is chock full of (blunt) writing advice and updates on all my work.  


All my books are available on Amazon, and can be found on my Amazon author page.


If you enjoyed this, you should check out:

Behind the Book: Annabelle by Elexis Bell

Behind the Book: Gem of Meruna by Elexis Bell

Book Review: Wiccan Romance – Amelia’s Story by Nicola Hebron

Behind the Book: Sorceress of Truth by J D Groom

To discover more ways to connect, please click my link tree:



Behind the Book: The Sentinels (series) by Cassidy Reyne

The first two books of Cassidy’s Romantic Suspense series is out with more coming. Here she shares her inspiration, process and snippets.

What inspired you to write The Sentinels Series?

Over 10 years ago, I woke up one morning from a dream and immediately thought it would be exactly the kind of story I would like to read. I didn’t remember more than a few snippets from that dream, but in my head I started to create the story in my head. I worked out who all the characters were, how they acted, and what they looked like. Then, I figured out what their likes and dislikes were and what made them who they are as individuals. Eventually, I had the whole story written in my head from start to finish, but that’s where it stayed until I decided to stop being scared and just throw it out there.

How long did it take to write and publish from the first idea?

The actual writing didn’t take me that long as I had everything already worked out and I also type quite fast. I think I had it all down on the screen in around 6 weeks. Then I spent another 6 weeks or so re-writing, editing, fixing continuity mistakes and filling potholes. From opening a new document on my computer to pressing the publishing button too about 3 months in total. I probably should have taken more time with it, but I knew that if I didn’t get it out of my hands and into the world, I would never actually put it out there. It was a do or die kind of thing.

Did you know it would be a duology from the start?

I don’t think I ever thought beyond the first book until it was published and I’d had some time to process. Then I got this feeling that the main characters’ story wasn’t quite finished. There were events in their pasts that needed to be brought their full conclusion. So, I started to work on book 2 and it didn’t take long for some of the other characters to start telling me they wanted their stories to be heard as well.

Consequently, I now have a complete first draft of book 3 and I’m also plotting book 4. Will there be a fifth? Well, a voice in my head keeps telling me so, but for the time being I’ve told him to shut up.

Why did you choose a pen name when you published?

I’m a fairly private person and don’t like everyone knowing every aspect of my life, so to protect my privacy I chose to use a pen name. That way I can accept friend requests from readers on Facebook and know that real my life, and the lives of my family and friends, won’t be displayed to complete strangers.

What genre is The Sentinels and can you name any similar books?

The Sentinels Series comes under romantic suspense, although it has a tiny bit of paranormal thrown into the first two books. It is similar to Rescued by Stephanie St. Klaire and the styles of Lucy Score and Ivy Smoak.

Which character is most like you and why?

There’s a little of me in all my female characters but I would say Anya is probably the one who is most like me. She loves with abandon, is loyal to a fault, but won’t allow anyone to tell her how she should behave and soon gets up if she’s been kicked to the floor. She’s independent, stubborn and finds something good in everyone she meets. Except her worst enemy.

Tell me about a typical day in the life of author Cassidy Reyne?

Hmmmm, a typical day. Well, I’m usually up and having my morning coffee around 8.30 in the morning and sitting with my laptop looking through whatever I was working on the night before. I’ll also scroll through social media, reply to emails, and say good morning to my writer friends who are doing almost the exact same thing as I am. After the usual household chores are out of the way, I usually have a few things to do for our main business, but before lunch I want to be sitting at my desk getting stuck into whatever I’m working on. I’ll take a break for lunch with my husband before going back to work till around 4 in the afternoon. By that time, I’ll be needing a longer break so I’ll get on with other things till after dinner when I’ll go back to my writing for a while. I’m not quite so focused during the evening and often fit in other things like social media and chatting with friends. I might even watch some tv if I feel I need a distraction. Since I work from home I have the luxury of going to bed when I want to so you can often find me still at my desk around 1 am.

During the week I also fit in a yoga and pilates session and a non-syllabus ballet class, as well as a few walks around the neighborhood for some fresh air.

Please share a snippet or a teaser from the book?

The Sentinels 1 — Saving Her

The helicopter rose up from its platform by the East River dock and started a sweep out over the water. It circled the whole of Manhattan and they could see all the big sights and buildings. The view from the air put a whole different perspective on the city. It was a warm day for being in early March and the first signs of spring could be seen even from this height. When the chopper veered away from the center and left the city behind, Anya turned to Nikolas looking puzzled.

“I’m taking you for lunch at this little place I know in Montauk, you’ll love it. It’s right by the beach and as it’s out of season there shouldn’t be many people around.” He explained with a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. Anya grinned at him in delight and turned to gaze out through the window again as Long Island stretched out beneath their feet.

“Oh Nikolas, this place is beautiful. Have you spent a lot of time here?” Anya drew a soft sigh of pleasure at the sight of the little New England style restaurant overlooking a wide, deserted beach. The sun glittered on the blue water and seagulls soared on the air currents overhead. It was a beautiful spot that he always enjoyed coming back to. He explained that it belonged to some close friends of his but he hadn’t been there for a couple of years or so.

As they walked in, Anya gasped in surprise. The restaurant was all lit up with soft lights and music playing in the background. One table by the windows facing the ocean was set for two with white linen, flowers and a flickering candle. Outside, the sun was setting on the horizon and painted the whole sky in red and gold.

Anya had a wonderful time with Nikolas, having dinner at the gorgeous little restaurant with his friend’s parents serving up the most delicious food. They had lobster and crab for entrées, a wonderful home cooked stew as their main course and a mouthwatering chocolate and raspberry cake to finish off. Anya didn’t think the helicopter would be able to take off with all the extra weight they must have just put on. Nikolas laughed and agreed with her. He felt so full he didn’t think he could walk but it was all worth it seeing the look on her face.

Anya decided this was the birthday she had ever had. God knew she hadn’t had much reason to celebrate anything in the last few years. It was a relief to finally feel that life could be good and there was every reason to be hopeful for the future. As she looked across the table at Nikolas’ face, which was lit up by the soft light from the candle, she was amazed at how fate intervened sometimes. Even if nothing ever came from this she would always be grateful to Nikolas for helping her see that this was the beginning of her new life. She just hoped he would be a part of it for a long time. When he placed his hand over hers on the table a warm tingle spread up her arm and into her chest and the butterflies in her stomach took flight.

“I have something for you.” He said softly and brought out a small box prettily wrapped with a bow on top.

“Please, Nikolas, you’ve already given me too much. I can’t accept this.” Anya pleaded with him.

“It’s only something small to remember this day by. Open it, please, I can’t take it back now.” Anya carefully opened the present and under white tissue paper nestled a silver case with an engraved leafy vine trailing around the outside edge. Nikolas explained he thought she could put her new business cards in it for when she had decided what she wanted to do after selling her current company. Anya gently opened the case and drew in a soft breath when she saw the inscription on the inside of the lid. It read ‘Et hoc est solum initium est’ in italic script.

“It’s Latin and means ‘This is only the beginning’.” Nikolas said. His voice was soft and warm and made Anya smile. He was right. This was just the beginning of the rest of her life.

“Thank you so much, it’s the most thoughtful gift I’ve ever been given. I just don’t understand how you had time to organize all this, and why you would go to so much trouble for someone you hardly know.”

Because I want this to be the beginning of the rest of your life — with me.The thought of wanting her always in his life no longer surprised Nikolas, he just wasn’t sure how she felt yet and didn’t quite know how to take the next step, but he was confident he’d be able to win her over.

The Sentinels 1 – Saving Her

The Sentinels 2 — Saving Him

She hadn’t slept all night, not that that was any different from all other nights these last three weeks. She couldn’t even remember the last time she’d had any kind of restful sleep; certainly not since she’d been told Nikolas wasn’t coming home again. Everyone kept saying he was dead but she knew better, didn’t she? Their bond was still there and she refused to believe she could still feel it just because she hadn’t accepted the truth, that she was clinging to false hope, an echo. But if he wasn’t dead then why hadn’t he come home? Gray and Logan had checked all the hospitals in a 30-mile radius but no one matching his description had been brought in. That meant he wasn’t lying injured and unconscious in a hospital bed somewhere. There were only a couple of other reasons for him staying away that Anya could think of. She tried very hard to keep those thoughts out of her head, but his behavior in the weeks leading up to the explosion made it almost impossible for her to do so. She slumped down on the unforgiving tiles, exhausted and covered in a cold sweat. She needed to start getting herself ready but she didn’t want to. She just wanted to hide in a dark room so she didn’t have to face what was coming; Nikolas’ Memorial. She had told Rick she didn’t want to go but he’d said Nikolas’ friends needed to say a last farewell to their friend. His parents, Connor and Elizabeth, needed some closure and to celebrate their only son’s life. And they all wanted Anya there, to be able to support her and show her how loved her husband had been. She already knew how loved and cherished he was and as he wasn’t dead there was no need for a Memorial! She felt like shouting out to the world that there was no need for any of this, he was alive! In the end, though, she’d agreed to attend just to get everyone off her back and, most of all, for Nikolas’ parents. She loved them dearly and didn’t want to make the situation any worse for them than it already was. They couldn’t feel the tether that was still connecting her and Nikolas and she couldn’t convince them it wasn’t just a whisper of what had once been the strongest bond two Sentinels could possibly share. Anya dragged herself off the floor and into the shower. She turned the water to scalding and stood under the streaming jets, hoping it would ease some of the tension in her tightly wound muscles. As she slowly lathered her skin she could feel the hard outlines of her ribs and hips, a sharpness that hadn’t been there a few weeks ago. Not eating or sleeping properly and running too many miles every day for several weeks would do that to a person. Her fingers lingered on her skin, remembering when it had been Nikolas’ hands on her body. She’d always felt so safe and protected in his hands. So loved. When the water started running cold Anya got out and slowly attempted to dry herself off. She wrapped a towel around her hair and pulled the bathrobe around her thin body. She wouldn’t be picked up for the service for a few hours yet but she still started to slowly get herself ready. She was hoping it would keep her mind occupied and away from the thoughts that were slowly eroding the tenuous hold she still had on her sanity. The heat from the hairdryer felt soothing on her scalp but she didn’t have the energy to try to style her hair the way she usually did. In any case, it had lost all its usual shine and bounce so all she could be bothered to do was to pull it into a severe bun at the nape of her neck. After trying, and failing miserably, to cover the shadows under her eyes with foundation, and adding some blusher to her pale cheeks she dressed in a black pencil skirt, cream blouse with a short fitted jacket, and the red-soled black stilettos that had been Nikolas’ favorites on her. Her motions were robotic and automatic. She couldn’t allow herself to think too much about what she was doing and why she was doing it or she’d flee the apartment and find an isolated corner of the world where no one could ever find her. After she’d finished getting ready she made her way downstairs and slumped down on the sofa in the living room. The Memorial still wasn’t for another few hours and Mac was picking her up in the car so she wouldn’t have to drive. Anya sat stiff with her back ramrod straight and her hands twisting and untwisting until the skin was red raw, staring out the large window in front of her. Her heart hammering in he chest and a terrifying speed. She didn’t want to do this, she couldn’t! How could anyone expect her to say goodbye to her husband, her best friend, the love of her life, her soulmate — when every fiber of her being told her he was still alive?

The Sentinels 2 – Saving Him

What project are you currently working on?

That should really be projects — plural, as I’m editing a standalone novel as well as first round edits of book 3 and I’m also plotting and planning book 4 in The Sentinels Series.

Where can we find out more and buy The Sentinels — Saving Her?

If you go to my website, you will find all the information on both my books and links to where to buy them. They are both available from Amazon in paperback and ebook, and also free in Kindle Unlimited. You can find me on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter as well.

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Check out World Indie Warriors for more amazing reads.

My Skin Organic Box (March 2020)

This was a lovely surprise. For Mothers Day, my husband bought me a Skin Organics box. He remembered how much I enjoyed receiving this before having our daughter.

And, the timing couldn’t be better. In March the Government placed the UK in lockdown. Adjusting to this new lifestyle wasn’t easy but with the Skin Organic box being appropriately themed “Meditate” it was filled with beautiful products to help me relax.

Blue labelle Boutique – Face Oil

Blue Labelld Face Oil

This it the 10ml travel size bottle and retails at £7.50, but it is a decent size as you only need a little and can last 2.5 months if used daily. The full size is £22 for 30ml.

I really like that it has a spray. I cant help but do two squirts so my bottle will likely go faster. I don’t need two squirts but I can’t help myself. I will want to replace this when it runs out.

Help Me Organics – Room Spray

Help me have a mindful of calm

This isn’t the sort of thing I would usually buy. I wasn’t sleeping well and the virus was playing on my mind. I decided to give this a go. I’m not a fan of lavender so I wasn’t sure but it resulted in the best nights sleep ever.

I woke up rejuvenated and have started spritzing my room whenever I need a boost of calm. For £9 this is great value. I think if I re-buy I might try a different fragrance.

Refresh Tea Soap & Soap Co – Zzz Zone Out Bath Bar

Zzz Zone Out Bath Bar

This bar of soap is really big. It doesn’t fit in my soap dish! With the extra hand washing, and soap being the most effective, I am loving this bar.

I have been using it to wash my face and it’s so gentle I’ve not had any breakouts. It costs £12 and I think it will last forever.

Om Shanti Alchemy – Meditation Oil

Om Shanti Alchemy Fire Meditation Oil

This was the first product I used. I was having a very challenging day and snuck upstairs to calm down. I searched for some guided meditation on YouTube as I wasn’t sure what to do.

I enjoyed meditating and it did help me relax. Since then, I’ve tried it again. I can see how certain scents could help you get in the zone and this smells really good, but I keep forgetting to use it.

Skin AlchemistsIntense Skin Treatment (Sweet Dreams)

Skin Alchemists Sweet Dreams Intensive Skin Treatment

I’ve not used this yet. It sounds very indulgent so I’m waiting for a moment I can fully enjoy this.

What you do it light the candle and wait 15 minutes and enjoy the scent. Then blow it out. Wait 2 minutes and then use the warm oil to massage your skin or add a few drops to the bath. The full size costs £38.

I was really spoilt this mother’s day and I love how these brands are not only cruelty free but also use organic ingredients. Have you tried any of these products or brands?

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Camp NaNo Progress (days 1 to 10)

This is an update on how the first 10 days have gone.

I wanted to start April having already completed my read through. Unfortunately that didn’t happen. So, I spent the first few days getting it done.

Monday, 6 April, I was able to start my editing. Using the feedback from my Developmental Editor. I have managed to edit 4 chapters (about 9k words). The biggest changes have included:

  • A new scene added to chapter 2
  • Kya O’Malley is now Kiely O’Neil
  • Murray O’Malley is now Murray O’Neil
  • A scene in chapter 4 has been completely rewritten

I am in the World Indie Warriors cabin (now called groups) on NaNoWriMo. On Instagram they’ve set a photo challenge:

I haven’t had time to keep up on IG but my team spirit won’t let me let it go. So, I decided to post my pics every 10 days on my blog.

Camp Goals / Tell us about your WIP

Both of these are covered in my blog post titled Are you doing Camp NaNo?

Camp Buddies

What will you do to celebrate?

It feels hard to think about celebrating during a lockdown. I can’t go anywhere and I’m only buying necessities.

It will be something simple like watching a film with my husband and maybe ordering a take away if we are still able to.

Camp Music

I find music distracting whilst writing/editing. The other day I was feeling tired after work and was procrastinating. I clicked on an IG live video by @aquabunart. She was playing her harp. It was really relaxing and helped me get focussed on what I needed to do.

I think I find music useful to get me in the right headspace but not during the task. I also enjoy music whilst plotting or coming up with ideas and have come up with story ideas whilst listening to the radio.

Who inspires you?

Hundreds of authors have inspired me but here are the most notable:

Orchard Tree Books: Yes, they publish children’s first readers. The magic key stories inspired my first stories and awoke my desire to be an author at the age of 5.

Rachel Vincent’s shifter series. I loved the world she built and I wanted to create something similar but my own.

More inspirational people are my granny and grandma. My granny was tenacious and never let anything stop her doing what she needed to. And, my grandma had a big heart and was the first person to believe in my writing.

Camp Fuel

Mmm tea ☕️

One Line

He danced in the sunlight whilst I lurked in the shadows.

Favourite genre/trope

I love YA fiction, Paranormal Romance, Contemporary Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, High Fantasy, Low Sci-Fi, Dystopia, Contemporary Romance, Erotica, Chick Lit, and Children’s Fiction (especially picture books).

I mainly blog and write YA Fantasy. But I also dabble in poetry. And, I’ve drafted a picture book. One day I may also write horror, dystopia and erotica.

Your ideal writing space

I have a Pinterest board with images of my dream space. I’d share it but my boards are so messy they need a spring clean.

I don’t have a dedicated space but I’d like one.

The desk would be a bureau that I could fold away all my mess inside so when I return it is ready. It would have a pin board with inspirational quotes and book plans. A shelf to keep my favourite notebooks and resource books. A draw to hide away my stash of pens and pots for my frequently used. The desk will be large enough to spread out all my papers. Ideally, this space would be in a lodge with beautiful views of a meadow, forest or beach.

I would love to see your answers to the above. Let me know if you are taking part on IG or posting somewhere else.

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12 tips for self editing

This post was really popular last year, so I decided to revamp it and create a series of editing posts. 

I love writing. It is so liberating to allow the words to flow out however they may come. But, this means they need to be tidied up later. And, I’m not a fan of editing.  Without further ado, here are my tips to make self editing easier.

Take a break from your project

Don’t start editing as soon as it is written. When your writing is still fresh, you will be too close to the text that and will miss mistakes as you know what it is meant to say.

By distancing yourself, you’ll read it with a fresh perspective.

Set Goals & Create Trackers

After giving your novel space, this is the next thing you should do. Setting yourself a target is what will keep you going through your edit. Break the task up into manageable chunks and it will seem less daunting.

I will soon share a post about how I use a spreadsheet for this but for now, here is an example of my paper tracker. Seeing your progress is extremely rewarding and motivating.


I always copy & paste to a new document so I don’t edit the original. This helps protects your work if you realise you cut something you shouldn’t have or find the new version isn’t working.

Change the format

There are several ways to do this and it will result in you seeing the novel from a different perspective.

Print it: I currently don’t have a printer at the moment so can’t take advantage of this one but having a hard copy will enable you to read it in a. You have the added bonus of being able to write notes on your document.

Change the font: Different fonts have different vibes and some fonts will make identifying mistakes clearer. On this note, you may find certain fonts help to be more creative when writing. I would recommend cursive or italic for creativity and sans or serif fonts for serious editing.

Audio: If you have software that reads your text aloud, this can help you hear mistakes. You can also try reading it aloud and see if you stumble over and of the text or parts that don’t flow right.

Basic Spellcheck

Today there are no excuses for misspelt words. Every modern word processor program comes with a basic spell checker built in. However, it won’t pick up the misuse of words if spelt or used correctly which leads me on nicely to my next point.


This is so important. A spellcheck is following rules of the English language but when you read it you may find you’ve used the wrong word or the sentence in not saying what you intended. For example, ‘do’ and ‘don’t’ are spelt correct but mean the opposite. Whilst proof reading you will also identify ways to strengthen weak text. I also will highlight text I need to return to look at again.

Hemingway App

This is a browser app. On the website I copy and paste the chapter I’m working on into the app. I tend to proofread in this app as it highlights weak words like those ending in ‘ly’ and passive words. It also highlights complex sentences which you may want to simplify for your readers.

It grades your writing. You don’t necessarily want a high grade. If your novel is graded high then it might feel like a chore for your readers. It actually is more enjoyable if it is a lower grade.

Hemingway will slap you in the face with your over use of ‘just’, ‘that’ and other unnecessary filler words.


Next, I paste my chapter into Grammarly. This focuses on different qualities in your writing and always makes further suggestions. It often picks up on my over or under use of commas.

It is an advanced spell check but it is following a set of rules and sometimes writers like to break these rules. For example, it might identify a character is not speaking in a grammatically correct way but maybe I want them to speak like that. This is why you must always review the suggestions.

I prefer the browser version to the mobile app.

Find & Replace

Use F&R to replace name changes or look for repetitive words. You can also use it to check for mistakes with spacing.

I used it to check my formatting for speech so I get it to find ” in my manuscript. I’ve also used it to change a name throughout my MS.

Structural edit

I used Save the Cat during my edit to check the pacing of my story.

Based on the original length of the novel, I calculate where in the story different beats should happen. For example, by doing this I was able to identify that my start was too slow so I looked at what was unnecessary to cut.

Back up

You’ve spent a lot of time working on your novel so ensure you back it up. There is nothing more upsetting than discovering you lost it.

Easy methods to back up is to save to more than one location: Pc/laptop, USB, Google drive, email yourself.


Once you think it is perfect, it’s time to get a second opinion. Here are a few options to consider:

  • Editor: Do your research to find one that you would like to work with.  There are also different editors for different stages of your book.  
  • Mentor: Work with an experienced author to learn from them.
  • Critique Group: Join a group of writers to exchange novels and give each other feedback.
  • Share Online: Post on sites like Wattpad to see how your novel is received.
  • Beta Readers: Find a group of readers and gather there feedback on your novel (can ask them to complete questionnaires).

Some feedback will be based on personal opinion. Writing is an art after all and you can chose to ignore their suggestions especially if it is pulling you away from your original vision and voice. But if several people are raising issue with the same part, it is likely that they have a valid point.  They have taken their time to read your novel and help you, so respect their input and consider their feedback.  

Do you use any of the above methods? Have you any tips to add that I missed?

I’ve have recently received my novel back from a developmental edit.  The feedback has been unbelievably useful and my novel I once thought was close to ready is now requiring a lot of work. 

The editor wasn’t harsh.  In fact her feedback is what I have been craving for year.  It is like having a best friend who understands what you are trying to achieve and has the skills to help.  She has been honest with me about what is and isn’t working and even even shared resources to help me.    

Have you ever used a professional editor?

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Comma ‘gain!

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Ally plus text


What to watch: viruses

If you want to escape Covid-19 by watching shows about viruses, here is a list to get you started.

Pandemic: How to prevent an outbreak

This is a documentary that speaks to experts in the medical field. They share their stories about pandemics and explain what happened, how they were handled and future plans to prepare and prevent.

The series covers how serious a flu pandemic would be and the high possibility of an Outbreak in China… this was filmed and aired before Covid-19. Worth watching if you want to know more about pandemics.


The inhabitants of Pretty Lake are quarantined. Mysteriously, anyone over the age of 22 has died of an unknown disease. Now, they need to adapt to life where society has changed and their 22nd birthday is a ticking bomb.


A city goes into lockdown following an outbreak. The series follows those trapped on the inside fighting for their life and those outside the barricade trying to support them.

The Last Ship

There is a global pandemic and this team are tasked with getting what the doctor needs to create a vaccine. There are others that want the doctor and her research for themselves.

Now they are Fighting to stay alive against the threat of the virus and terrified people. Can they do what they need to, to save the world.


The Strain

A deadly parasite starts killing people and claiming hosts. Released by a secret society for ultimate power (like vampires), this could be the end for humans.

V Wars

Two scientists/archeologists uncover an ancient dead body in Antarctica. It has been perfectly preserved including the virus.

When they return, the men are quarantined while they fight the bug and get better. One guy is immune, the other is transformed into a vampire. The virus spreads. Dividing the human species.



This is a gruesome teen comedy about surviving the zombie apocalypse. Teens have survived the outbreak and created a new society.

The main character finds refuge in a mall. He is on a mission to find his girlfriend and picks up some oddball stragglers along the way, creating a group of misfits.

The Walking Dead/Fear The Walking Dead

If you love zombies, you probably have already watched these but they had to be mentioned. Based off a comic, TWD is after the outbreak and FTWD starts before/during the outbreak. Both seasons have different characters.

The zombies are scary but are predictable. The survivors can fight and defend against these predators. But, the true danger is other people. And that is truly terrifying, a feeling that nobody can be trusted.


Fortunately this doesn’t cause an outbreak but the MC attends a party where she gets infected. She works at a forensic morgue and uses her zombie powers to eat the brains of victims ajd solve crimes.

Meanwhile she is also working hard to keep her hunger under control and stop the bad zombies.

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What to watch if you love witches

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Discover more ways to connect by clicking my Link Tree: