Saturday, 29 January 2011

Death by a Dark Horse by Susan Schreyer - Blog Tour De Force Stop 12!

It's been awhile since I've read a mystery so when Author Susan Schreyer offered me an e-copy of her debut novel, Death by a Dark Horse, I was excited!  So, first and foremost, I'd like to thank the lovely Susan who's now become an on-line friend, for the opportunity to read a very good book and to post a review on it.

Death by a Dark Horse is the first in the Thea Campbell Mystery series.

Here's the back cover blurb of her book:

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

The book is narrated by Thea Campbell.  She is an accountant and amateur dressage rider.  Now, if like me, you don't know anything about horses, dressage means:
From dictionary.comthe art or method of training a horse in obedience and in precision of movement.   The story revolves around Thea and her seven year old Hanoverian gelding, The Black Queen's Bishop who she calls 'Blackie.'

Why I like it

The story will keep you guessing from the beginning to the end!  It's a total page-turner.  I love how Thea cares about Blackie like a friend, beyond caring for a pet.  At times, she almost even forgets about herself and the fact that the police may also consider her a suspect!

Thea is a magnetic character who you'd want to stick with in a book, you'd want to be friends with her if she was a person in real life, and perhaps even help her do the detective work!  I admire her braveness and can't forget the moment she saw Valerie's body, right there in front of her.  I gasped as I read this part and thought 'My God, if this was happening to me, I'd drop dead!'  Each time I guessed who the killer was, I was wrong.

If you are a mystery book-lover, this book is definitely for you! A book that is cleverly-written!  I'm giving it 5 stars!  I would certainly get the next book when it is out.  Yes, the next in the series, Levels of Deception, will be out in February 2011 so watch out for it! 

I'm sure you'd like to get to know Susan more and find out more about her books.  Please click here to see her website and check out her blog!

Author Susan Schreyer is the new mystery author to watch out for!

This book review is part of the Blog Tour de Force that I am participating in.  I hope you find the time to visit other blog participants as well. To view authors and books in the Tour, please click here. Win prizes, including a Kindle! Go!

You can also go straight to Susan Schreyer's Blog for details on how to win! Go!

Disclaimer:  I received a free electronic copy of the book from the author for an honest review and I was not compensated for this review.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011


There is no such word.  I've invented it.  It means evolution of a blog - Blogvolution.  Hhmmm, doesn't sound right, does it?  Sounds more like blog revolution.  But never mind.  Ok, so what's with the title, you ask.  Well, I thought I'd write something about the changes in my blog since some friends who have been my followers and readers (some lurk and just read my posts and not commenting which I really appreciate) have began to wonder what's happened to this blog of mine.

You see, Conversations with Self began as an on-line journal sometime in 2006-2007 when I moved to the United Kingdom from The Philippines.  It was to keep my friends abreast on what's going on with my life.  It was easier than e-mailing each one of them, then I began to meet blogger friends so my blogging changed.  I started to write my thoughts out, at times writing seriously.  Those who are close to me have always known my love to write and I'm sure they are not surprised to see that my blog has evolved from writing the mundane to writing about books, chats with authors and writers and what's new in the writing world.  Of course I still write about life in general and life experiences, I cannot separate that at all.  After all, it's my life I'm writing about.  Now, why am I writing this?  It's to purposely mention the changes in my blog and to let my blog friends and readers out there know that the reason why I have not opened a new blog for my writing career is that I cannot keep more than one blog at a time.  I tried but I ended up deactivating my additional two blogs.  Maybe one day when I'm ready, I will open a fresh blog account, but not right now.

Yes, my darlings.  That's what's happened to this blog.  It just changed a little bit...ok, ok, maybe not a little bit but evolved hugely *laughter* but, hey, it's still me blogging.  I still write about life, about the little things, but mostly, I post more on writing because it's what I love the most.  I hope I don't bore you when I do.  I promise I will try to make it sound interesting *winks*

And to you, my fellow bloggers and writers, do you have more than one blog?  How do you keep them up-to-date both or all at the same time?  As a writer, would you recommend or suggest that I open a fresh one?

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Writer's Platform Building Crusade

Hello there!  Thank you all for all the beautiful comments on my husband's post on The Significant Other Blogfest.  I did not force him to say all the good things, honest!  But I did glare at him for the parts I didn't like, har har har!  I really admire him for his honestly.  He does tell me when he doesn't like a thing and I do tell him the same.  I find myself lucky to have such a supportive husband and I thank the Universe everyday for him.  I hope you get to read all the posts as they are all quite interesting.  You can click on the link on DL's blog on the post below dated 21 Jan.

Now, about the title of this post....

Have you heard of the Crusaders over at Rach Writes?  I have and it's an exciting thing that Rachael Harrie and blogger friends did last year.  She's just given us the heads up on her blog - Rach Writes because they are doing it again this year!  Go and visit her blog to know more! :)

Basically, the Crusade is a way to link aspiring writers, beginner bloggers, industry people, and published authors together with the aim of helping to build our online platforms.

The Crusaders are all bloggers in a similar position, who genuinely want to pay it forward, make connections and friends within the writing community, and help build each others' online platforms while at the same time building theirs.

You might be interested, so come and join us!

Friday, 21 January 2011

The Significant Other Blogfest by Mr JL

My wife, Len, has asked me to write this out for her on her blog.  The wife's 'The Boss' so we have to do what 'The Boss' says.  After all, I have a bit of free time now that I've finished washing the dishes.

The following are all about my wife, Len, who now writes in her spare time after leaving her corporate life to look after our son full time.  The first three items are answers to questions posted on DL's blog. (I will have to ask my wife to do the links for me, darn this blog!)

1.  Len loves pizzas to bits.  This always seems to stimulate her and puts her in a good mood.  Her favourite flavour is Pepperoni.

2.  Writing Habit - My wife doesn't have any writing routine.  She sometimes just sits with me in front of the television and starts writing by hand and when she does, she loses track of time.  I won't change any of her writing habits.

3.  It is very difficult to even think that my wife will not succeed as an author because I believe in her.  I am English-born and bred, yet I think my wife writes better English than I do.  I know she will succeed because she has the determination and in times of self-doubt, I am here to give her back her confidence.

(Sorry, I keep saying 'my wife' because that's how I refer to her when I talk about her...I will now try to refer to her as 'Len'...)

4.  My wife, sorry I mean Len, is a loving and very caring person.  Even in hard times, she has always shown her affection.  Having said that, I must say that she has bad days too and when that happens, I must disappear.

5.  As a wife, Len has an eye for detail and never lets me get away with anything which is not necessarily a bad thing - but what I don't understand is when I watch my favourite television programme, that's when she tries to tell me something that is very important.  But what can I do?  I'm just a mere man.

6.  Aside from writing, she loves public speaking and was a member of Toastmasters International in Manila.  She misses it and one day she may go back to it.

7.  Len had a short stint as a radio broadcaster.  This was years ago and I'd like to hear her again live on the radio.

8.  My wife can be really funny and comical.

9.  Some people have a funny reaction towards her as they automatically think she can't speak English because of her Asian looks.  When she starts to speak, they look startled.  Can you imagine how wonderful it would feel like for me when she gets published?  And I'd be grinning ear to ear. 

10.  She is not easily fooled.  She observes everything from getting the shopping to analysing documents and people.  Especially people.  I think that's the 'writer' in her.

Most of all, my wife Len is a loving wife and a good Mum and I'm proud of her.

Written by:  Mr JL (Len doesn't want me to reveal my identity..I don't mind becoming popular but it's her decision and this is her blog...and worst of all, I have to do what I'm told)

Monday, 17 January 2011

The Significant Other Blogfest

Yes, another Blogfest!  I don't know what I'm getting myself into but I luuuurrrrvvee Blogfests and no matter how busy life is, it's fun getting even busier with all these Bllloooggs!

I've read Talli Roland's and DL's blogposts in December announcing The Significant Other Blogfest but I couldn't bring myself to ask my other half to do it for me.  But I don't want to miss it, really I don't, so tonight, after watching his favourite TV programme 'Question Time,'  I went up to him in the living room. This is when he is in a very good mood.  When he smiled at me, I thought it was the best time!  You see, he doesn't like reading blogs, let alone write the blog post for me!  But you know what?  He gave me a resounding YES!  Woo-hoo!!! So, yes, I'm taking part in The Significant Other Blogfest - this is when I give the floor to my husband to write about me.  Let's just hope he doesn't give too much information and reveal all my secrets on line!  I hope you come back on 21 January to read what my husband has to say!

If you haven't yet joined (come on, you know you really want to!), please click on the links below which will take you to Talli's and DL's Blogs:

Talli Roland

DL Hammons' Cruising Altitude

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Blog Tour de Force!

Some Blog news!  I am taking part in Blog Tour de Force's premier tour, Get Loaded by posting a book review on 29 Jan. The Blog Tour officially begins on the 17th and ends on the 31st of January.  There are 12 Authors and 12 Books on this tour and there are give-aways!  Please visit the official website:  Blog Tour de Force or visit Amber Scott's Blog for more details.

I am currently reading and will be posting a review on Death by a Dark Horse by Susan Schreyer on 29 January.  I am inviting you all to come back and say hi on the 29th and also to visit all the participating Bloggers who will also be posting their reviews on the other books.  If you click on the box on the right hand side of this page, you will find details of this fab Blog Tour!  Hope you enjoy visiting and reading all the Blogs!

Friday, 14 January 2011

Poems of Contradictions

Oh my God.  It's Friday once again.  And I still have not thought of what to post.  I must post something.  I must.  I must.  What do I say?  What do I blog about?  Arrrrrggghhh.  Nothing. 

*Light Bulb Moment* 

OK.  I thought of something to tell you.

Did I tell you that my husband loves Geoffrey Chaucer?  Yes.  The Father of English Literature.  Husband tirelessly coaxes me into reading his books.  In old English.  But you see, I have a problem reading old English.  I tried.  So hard.  But, for the life of me, I don't get it.  My husband insists, I must read all of Chaucer's books.  Read I must - to master the English language.  So, from time to time, I pretend that I am reading Canterbury Tales.

To state the obvious, my other half loves poetry.  What is really amusing is that he recites silly poems, most of the time in the car, and it doesn't fail to crack me up!  Now, a word of caution, when I say silly, I really do mean SILLY.  Sorry, he does forget Chaucer when he does this.  The poems I am going to share with you are full of contradictions.  What amazes me is that, after so many years, he can still remember these poems from his childhood word-for-word.  He doesn't know where they came from but reckons they may have been passed from generation to generation.  Some of you may have heard them somewhere.

Here goes:

Poem Number 1

It was four o'clock in the workhouse
The snow was falling fast
A barefooted man with shoes on
Stood sitting on the grass
A lady, she gave him an apple
He ate it and gave it her back.

He told her he was in the cinema last Saturday
And he had a front seat at the back.

Poem Number 2

One fine day
In the middle of the night
Two dead men
Got up to fight
They faced themselves
Back to back
Then drew their swords
And shot each other

Okay, don't shoot me *giggling*.  I just thought it would be fun to share them with you.  Isn't it nice to be reminded of those childhood memories - how it was fun to not have a care in the world.  Most of all, to not think of grammatical rules and editing your prose, ha!

Do you remember a song or a poem that you loved when you were a child?

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

A Chat with Writer Theresa Milstein

Imagine this:  celebrating the New Year with writer friends and fellow bloggers!  The coolest, isn't it?  Well, I have - sort of - started the New Year having a nice natter with a friend and fellow blogger - only virtually.  I don't want you to be too jealous so I will tell you all about it!  I had a lovely-lovely chat with Writer Theresa Milstein...and we drank lots and lots of coffee - of course!...And ermmm, no snacks for Theresa though, but we had her favourites - Lindt Truffles and Reese's Peanut Butter cups!

From across the North Atlantic Ocean, we talked about our favourite subject - writing.  I'm sharing it with you on this post!  Hope you enjoy it!

How long have you been writing seriously?

I began writing seriously over four years ago, but I had much to learn about writing because I’d never considered that I had enough talent so I hadn’t worked it. I thought it was something you were born with – not something you had to learn and practice.

When did you realise you wanted to be a writer?

For years, I’d begin to write a story, remind myself I wasn’t a writer, and then stop. But then Melissa Glenn Haber spoke to my fifth-graders. She told the students she used to write stories and hide them away. At some point, her husband told her she’d be happier if she tried to do something with her stories.

That resonated with me. I decided to write a middle grade novel. I finished the hot mess in six weeks.

What was the first novel you read?

The first novel I read was Charlotte’s Web. It made me cry in third-grade and it still makes me cry now. It’s a beautiful book.

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

We weren’t encouraged to write fiction in elementary school. I took a creative writing class in high school, but I can’t remember anything I wrote. I don’t think I tried fiction again until I was twenty-four, but that was during my hiding-writing phase.

Would you like to tell us about novels you’ve finished?

My last completed YA novel is The Mist Chasers. Here’s the pitch:

Sixteen-year-old Eve and her best friend Adam are the sole witnesses to a badass mist that obliterates a Walmart, launching them on a ludicrous quest to salvage the planet before it reaches the tipping point.

I’m shopping it now. The query and beginning are on my 2nd blog, Earnest Writer’s Excerpts:

Did you make any research on the novels you’ve written?

Yes, I’ve done plenty of research. For one novel, I studied celtic traditions. For another, I looked up information about witches. I’ve researched vampires. For The Mist Chasers, I read plenty about global warming.

What do you think can make a character interesting to the readers?

To me (and Stephen King) character is more important than story. If the reader doesn’t identify with the character and know what s/he wants, then they won’t care about the plot. And it’s important for that the character grows. They need to control instead of be controlled by the action. Is that too vague?

Who are your favourite authors and favourite books?

That’s tough. I have a list of some of my favorite books in my Blogger profile, so I’ll mention a couple of authors. Although I read adult books too, I really pay attention when reading middle grade and YA authors. J.K. Rowling, even though I know that doesn’t make me unique. She’s truly a genius. And I like Kate DiCamillo because each of her stories is so different from the other.

Who inspires you the most in your writing?

I think my childhood inspires me. Relationships with my parents, insecurities, friendship issues, awkwardness, the feeling of wanting to be free of parental rules but frightened of being on my own. And writing helps me work through my past.

Any current projects?

Yes. I’m about halfway through a YA WIP called Naked Eye. Lucienne runs with scissors and loses her eye. When she’s sixteen, her prosthetic eye is replaced with a magical one and when people lie, she knows the truth. She has to figure out whom to trust. It’s my most complicated manuscript yet.

Do you have any tips to share with aspiring writers out there who’d like to finish their story?

Writing “The End” isn’t the end. You must keep editing. Know your grammar because no agent or editor is going to do that work for you. And find critique buddies. Don’t submit until you have a polished piece, which means all that’s left to do is move commas around.

What is your biggest dream as a writer?

I would LOVE to make a living from writing. Now that I teach full-time, I really begrudge the lost writing time. When I was a daily substitute teacher, I devoted hours to writing and editing each day.

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

Thank you for interviewing me, Len. And for you and all the writers out there, don’t give up. I love this quote:

"Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don't recognize them." ~Ann Landers

There you go, dear readers!  I hope you enjoyed reading my absolutely exciting chat with Theresa.  And thank you, Theresa, I enjoyed every minute of it immensely!
Theresa blogs on Substitute Teacher's Saga.

Also, I'd like to thank you all for all the lovely holiday greetings you've left on my blog and Facebook page.  I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year's!

Oh, wait! I have a question for you before you go - I'm really curious - what was the first novel you read? Mine was Swords of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs.  That was the beginning of my book addiction.  Please tell me what was your first book! Did you like it?