Archive for October, 2014

The month of October is a special time for me:

my debut novel, my baby,


tessa cover - front - 092314

will be released IN PRINT on Halloween!




rem: Good afternoon, Tessa, welcome.


Tessa: Good afternoon. It’s good to be here.


rem: Your childhood was rather a Cinderella story. What was it like growing up without your mother’s attention?


Tessa: I didn’t know any different, until I started school and my friends talked about their mommies. But, Carlotta was there for me since the day I was born, and Aunt Vandy is in my earliest memories. I grew up with her kids, they are like sibling-cousins to me, perhaps more than anything else. Of course, Molly has always been like a big sister to me, and now that we’re adults, we have an amazing friendship.

Once Mother and Heath began courting – they never just dated, it was so society oriented, and once they finally became exclusive, I guess everyone knew they’d marry. He was kind to me, paid more attention to me than Mother did really. His mother, my Grandmother Lila was particularly sweet to me, too. I know now that was for his sake.


rem: What about Kase? What effect did he have on your childhood?


Tessa: Kase was the one person who made my childhood special. I was still so little when he and Mother split up, and I didn’t understand. I’d see him in the gallery sometimes, and he’d wink at me, and give me great big hugs. He was so withdrawn with other people, but with me, he was the most affectionate and tender man you could imagine. And I mean that in the best way, not inappropriate at all.


rem: How did you feel when your sister was born?


Tessa: I knew there was a baby coming, but I was only ten years old. I thought they would go get her somewhere, or that Santa might bring her. I remember being so disappointed that Christmas morning, because Santa hadn’t come, and Mother and Heath weren’t home.


rem: That must have been difficult for you. How did that make you feel about the baby?


Tessa: Oddly enough, it made me feel protective. After the new baby novelty wore off, something in me kicked in that made me want to protect her, to be sure she never felt as put off as I did. I knew Aunt Vandy would love her too, and I wasn’t jealous. I wanted to be for her what Vandy was for me.


rem: So you two were close. Her death must have been traumatic for you.


Tessa: [pause, deep breath] In a word, yes. I watched [author privilege, no spoilers here; Tessa was about to give away too much!]


rem: And when your mother arrived in Greece, what was that like?


Tessa: Remember, she had already said how she felt on the phone. She didn’t know it was me she was talking to, of course, she thought I was Connie. That was the more traumatic part. I knew how she felt, but to hear it put into words, I just… [deep breath and pause] And then she got there, and she was showering me with affection. I tried, truly I did, to tell her. But I couldn’t make the words come out.


rem: Didn’t you think someone would discover what you did?


Tessa: Every day. Not a day went by in thirteen years that it didn’t cross my mind at least once. I couldn’t tell Howie, I couldn’t tell Molly, nobody. I was terrified if they found out, if they knew, that they’d hate me. That they would feel the same way my mother always had about me, unwanted, indifferent.


rem: Why did you choose the name Tessa? You were living life as Connie, why not keep her name?


Tessa: I couldn’t bear it. I loved her, I couldn’t let myself be called by her name. Tessie was my nickname for her from the time she was a tiny baby. And a twisted sort of bonus, Mother hated it. To insist she call me by the name she hated, gave me a sort of wicked glee.


rem: How did it make you feel when you got the phone call? Did you have any idea who it was?


Tessa: Honestly, the cruelty of it made me think of Mother at first, that she was behind it. But then again, she was indifferent toward me, but never cruel. I couldn’t fathom who could know what happened or how they found out. I wracked my brain trying to figure out who might possibly know, or who might loathe me so desperately to be so cruel.


rem: Tessa, thank you for being with us today. I hope our readers are sufficiently intrigued to want to know your whole story.


Tessa: I sure do hope so. Thank you for having me.



If you haven’t already, be sure to stop by and like my Facebook page, follow me on Twitter, on my blog! Please leave me a comment, let me know you’re here!











#tessacharacterinterview, #TESSARELEASEDAY, #onemothertwodaughters, #onefavoriteonenot


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The month of October is a special time for me:

my debut novel, my baby,


tessa cover - front - 092314

will be released IN PRINT on Halloween!



My Countdown Celebration is winding down. Or, should I say, RAMPING UP!! Tomorrow’s the day, Tessa’s official Release Day. Of course, she’s been available for a couple of weeks now, but tomorrow’s the HOOPLA and CELEBRATION!! TWO parties, one online, one live. It’s been a tall order, writing a blog post every.single.day. I’ve loved it, but it was a lot of work!!


So how am going to celebrate NOT posting every.single.day? For one thing, except for my Sunday Devotional post, I’m taking a hiatus from ye olde blogge for November. And the other little reason, the next consumer of my time shall be NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month. “NaNoWriMo is an annual (November) novel writing project that brings together professional and amateur writers from all over the world.” (NaNoWriMo.org) Yes, I’m taking the plunge. From one high-volume writing task to ‘nother! Fifty thousand words in 30 days! How could I not? It’s a challenge, yes? Gauntlet thrown, no? Challenge accepted, gauntlet picked up!



According to the rules, actual writing does not begin until the stroke of midnight on the 1st of November. I can’t speak for others, but I shall abide by this; in fact, I may not even begin until the 2nd….. What with my event on Saturday ‘n all! I have my title – that’s a biggie – The Key on the Christmas Tree, and my main character, Risa, and a couple of others, and I have a most general story line, something of a cross between The Divine Secrets of the Ya-ya Sisterhood and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. I think. The key is, well, key in connecting Risa to Lina. That’s about all I know to this point. Suffice to say, I am not an outliner, but a “pantzer” which is to say, I write “by the seat of my pants,” which is to say, my characters tell me the story as we go along.


I do know this will be the first in a series of novellas, something entirely new to me. Like the whole Author Hat isn’t new enough, or NaNoWriMo itself for that matter; I hadn’t even heard of NaNo until this month! LOL The connections Risa makes, through the key, will each be the main character of his or her own story.

A general summary / notion of The Key on the Christmas Tree: Risa lives alone, maybe has a cat, works a solitary job – as yet undetermined – and leads a fairly solitary life.  On her visit home for Christmas, with her large and bustling family, she discovers an antique key hanging on the tree.  She becomes fascinated with it, why it’s there – the tree is always decorated the same every year.  She asks, albeit quietly, but no one has a clue about the key. It seems it has mysteriously appeared, and that it is there specifically for Risa.


The scope of the adventure is yet undetermined, but the key sets in motion a new life for Risa, and connects her to new people, who become fast friends for life.


NaNoWriMo will be a fun venture for me, I can’t wait to see where Risa’s story takes her, us! If I pull it off exceedingly well, it might even be available in time for Christmas!! A Christmas miracle!

For all the work that went into posting daily, I’ve truly enjoyed it. (not so much I want to even attempt to maintain on an ongoing basis though!) I plan to be back on track, posting regularly on Fridays. After the first of the year (is that so close that it’s already “a thing” now!!!) I will continue with book reviews and author interviews – both of which intimidated me at first but I discovered I enjoy! Monthly though, definitely not weekly! And, the sequel to Tessa is brewing; stay tuned!











#countdowncelebration, #TESSARELEASEDAY, #nanowrimo, #keyonthechristmastree, #yayasisterhood, #travelingpants, #authorinterviews, #bookreviews

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The month of October is a special time for me:

my debut novel, my baby,


tessa cover - front - 092314

will be released IN PRINT on Halloween!




I moderated a spot on this Facebook event today.



Staying on topic – for me – I discussed wearing masks. Halloween, of course, is all “fun-n-games” candy-seeking. Right? I did not address Halloween or its origins, I did not discuss the do or don’t participate. Intentionally.



“A mask is an object normally worn on the face, typically for protection, disguise, performance or entertainment. Masks have been used since antiquity for both ceremonial and practical purposes. They are usually worn on the face, although they may also be positioned for effect elsewhere on the wearer’s body, so in parts of Australia giant totem masks cover the body, whilst Inuit women use finger masks during storytelling and dancing.” [taken from Wikipedia]


rem: I lifted this pic and quote from Mia Botha on Writers Write this morning. [my bonus post today] The quote is by Oscar Wilde, “Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask and he will tell you the truth.”


rem: What do you think about that statement? true or no?

AC: I think it is true.

rem: thanks AC, can you share an example?

rem: Reminds me of the internet. I am really backward and shy in person but I’m not online. Make sense?

rem: that’s really good!!! don’t we all hide behind our digital personna!!!


rem: Other than burglary, why would anyone want to hide their identity????? I think we associate masks with fun, Halloween and parties. But there is a darker side to masks. what about someone breaking into your home or a bank? what are they hiding and why?



AC: Their face of course. If someone sees them, then no one can identify them by their facial features.

rem: EXACTLY!!! hiding their identity!!!

RE: And possibly their own fear. You feel braver in a mask.

rem: fear is one, absolutely



The use of masks in rituals or ceremonies is a very ancient human practice across the world, although masks can also be worn for protection, in hunting, in sports, in feasts or in wars – or simply used as ornamentation. Some ceremonial or decorative masks were not designed to be worn. Although the religious use of masks has waned, masks are used sometimes in drama therapy or psychotherapy.” [Wikipedia]

 Slide7 Slide8 Slide9


rem: AC, you mentioned being shy. I understand that so well. and apparently, it’s a trait not uncommon to writers, and artists in general. I think we compensate [some do] with inflated ego. Some of us, however, prefer to stay in our safe cocoon. and when we must venture out, we put on a brave front, i.e. a mask of sorts.
thoughts? agree? disagree?

AC: Agreed!

rem: for reasons to complicated too address here, I lived most of my life with a crippling lack of confidence. even with evidence to the contrary!! I could not, no way, no how, let anyone be aware that I was mistaken, or even that I did not know something. my “mask” then, was a false bravado and a total facade.

AC: Exactly! The same here.


rem: Once upon a time, there was a little girl who was invisible. Or she thought she was invisible, felt that way at least. And when she felt people were staring at her, she wished she was invisible. That little girl was me. Hello, my name is Robin, and I’m a recovering invisiblet. I wasn’t shy, I was terrified. [lifted from my blog 050214]

Slide10 Slide11 Slide12



CG: Nice to meet you, Robin, and glad you are not invisible any longer!

rem: me too CG!! thanks!!


rem: my personal spiritual journey and walk with God has brought me to the place I am now – still learning – confidence, in who I am, and in the gifts, talents, and abilities He has given me!

CG, you just made a great comment, “Scary,” to one of the images of masks. Question: which is scarier – visible masks or invisible?

AC: I have to say invisible. A lot of times when we hear about a serial killer, many friends, family and coworkers are shocked that they did those things.

CG: That is so true, the initial “scare” over a grotesque mask is one thing, but when we become lured in by the other kind of masks, whoa is me….

rem: and I rest my case!!! unabashed plug –> this is exactly what my novel Tessa is about. she wore a “mask” for 12 years, thinking no one knew. and mostly, no one did. still, she was tormented every single day, living a lie. ok, end of “plug” LOL
I am now living without masks, learning to reveal more and more of my real self, to trust [dear God, trust!!!] others with my heart!!! but oh, the joy!!!


KS: Hello Robin, I used to be invisible, too, very shy. I would be so surprised when people noticed me and said hello. Like you, the Lord Jesus Christ has brought me out of my shell. I was told as a child that “children are to be seen, not heard”! I must have adopted the invisible part unconsciously; if I couldn’t give my opinion then I must become invisible. One way I compensate now is with a partial mask; when things are getting too serious I pull out my Billy Bob Teeth I got on eBay and start telling jokes or just talking funny. It changes the sad, tired waitress, the boring meeting, the family arguing, and it gets everybody laughing. I am amazed at how my personally changes into this latent comedian. I have a wig and hat and housecoat when I do Maxine jokes at a monthly lady prayer group and for senior luncheons! HERE IS MY HAPPY MASK!




rem: KS, what a wonderful example of God using that which the enemy intended for evil!!! the very thing that kept you intimidated – you are now using for His glory!!! LOVE this pic by the way!!


rem: what about this? classic and complete change of personality??? because of a mask…..



a final word, there are instances in which masks are a good thing, a safety feature: gas masks, military, sports even. GC, thanks for giving me the chance to share my [scattered] thoughts on masks and identity!! I look forward to the rest of the event, and I’ll plan to join in again next year!! thanks to all for participating with me!!

AC: Have a great day, rem!

CG: Very interesting and thought provoking discussion, Robin. Thank you!

rem: thanks ladies for your great discussion!!
















#monstermashbookback, #sheddinglightinadarkworld, #hidingouridentity, #wearingmasks, #themask, #jimcarrey

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Masks reveal more than they conceal

What would your protagonist wear for Halloween?

What do Tutankhamen, Zorro and Batman all have in common? They all wore masks. Granted, Tutankhamen’s most famous mask was worn posthumously, but he did wear a fake beard while he was alive. Just like Santa – the fake one in the mall, not the real one. The real one obviously has a real beard.

Even today, we wear masks. The most common celebration of masks for most of us is Halloween. The costume or mask you choose to wear reveals a lot about you. It allows you to express a part of your personality that you usually hide or repress.

The history of masks

We have been wearing masks and costumes for centuries. Death masks, fertility masks, funeral masks, plague masks.

We wear outfits and masks to keep us safe – consider the hazmat suits worn by doctors and aid workers in West Africa. We wear them as disguises – think of bank robbers or actors. We wear them for occupational reasons – consider welders, astronauts and firemen. We wear them for sports – think ice hockey and American football. We even wear them for punishment – think of muzzles, a la Hannibal Lector. Ok, there might be a debate about punishment or pleasure in some circles. For me, it would be punishment. Can you see how I am revealing myself?

In comics

Super heroes, as an example, wear masks to hide their identity. Those masks change their behaviour. Peter Parker is awkward and fumbling, but add the suit, and he turns into a web-slinging-swinging-villain-fighting machine. Clark Kent is a super geek, but Superman is well, super. Masks and costumes allow us to have alter egos.

Like super heroes, masks allow us to hide who we are as well. At best, they give us freedom. A chance to have fun and misbehave. At worse, they give us distance from our responsibilities and ourselves. We no longer hold ourselves accountable. Everyday women wear make-up to change, improve or conceal appearances. Think of how far Renée Zellweger took that.

In books

In The Lord of the Flies by William Goldberg, the boys paint their faces. This allows them to set their animalistic natures, their ‘beasts’, free. In Phantom of the Opera, Erik wears a mask to hide a deformity.

As writers

As writers, we reveal much of ourselves in our work. We hide behind our characters; we live lives different to our own. It seems the more we try to hide, the more we show. We choose our characters as we choose our masks; to live a different life. We write to escape. Why do you get dressed up for Halloween? To stay home and stay sober? I think not. Consider this quote from Oscar Wilde:

Source for QuoteThink back to your past Halloween costumes or think about the last fancy dress party you attended. Why did you choose that particular costume? What were you trying to say or not say? In your fifteen-year-old-Goth-phase, what did you choose to wear? In your awkward shy twenties did you dress as a sexy librarian or a warrior woman? These decisions tell us a lot about where you were at that time of your life.

In character

Use this to explore your characters. What masks or costumes would your characters choose to wear?  Why? What did they wear five years ago? Have they ‘progressed’ or are they still the same get-drunk-every-Friday-night-university-kids they were a few years back? Did your character wear the same costume for four years straight? What we hide and what we think we hide are closely related.

What mask do you wear? What mask does your character wear?

 by Mia Botha

If you liked this post, you will enjoy Do Not Underestimate NaNoWriMo – Five Life-Saving Tips for Writers

Mia Botha facilitates for Writers Write. She is also a novelist, a ghost writer, and the winner of the Mills&Boon Voice of Africa Competition. When she isn’t writing, she is the mother of two children and the wife of a very lucky man. Follow Mia on Pinterest and Facebook and Tumblr and Twitter


Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. If you want to learn how to write a book, write for social media, and improve your business writing, send an email to news@writerswrite.co.za for more information.

Writers Write – Write to communicate


#writerswrite, #miabotha, #masks, #addamsfamily, #tutankhamen, #zorro, #batman

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The month of October is a special time for me:

my debut novel, my baby,


will be released IN PRINT on Halloween!





The Land is primitive and simple, and its people are content. They live minimal lives, at least by the standards of the 21st century. Except that this is 2025. And The Land is isolated from the world, and its turmoil that swirls around them. No one had left The Land since the ancestors arrived there seven generations ago. Nor had anyone else discovered the island.


Until Lieutenant Connor Bradshaw. Ejected from his aircraft during a military assignment gone bad, Lieutenant Bradshaw’s body washes up on the shore of The Land. Strolling the beach, Lydia Colburn watches in amazement as he drifts from the heavens, clad in unfamiliar military garb, and unconscious. As a doctor, Lydia’s concern for an injured patient outweighs her curiosity of his arrival.

His injuries are not life threatening, and with treatment of gray leaf tree, Connor recovers quickly.

The lieutenant’s military training demands that his priority be to recon with his squadron, but he finds that to be impossible. There is no technology in The Land, and no communication with the outside world, and the ocean currents surrounding The Land are too treacherous to navigate As time passes, however, Connor becomes acclimated, and satisfied, living in The Land – and attracted to Lydia. As his feelings for her stir and grow, he not only feels the need to protect her, but to protect The Land from the world outside. His world, a world of war and destruction.

For the first time in her life, Lydia feels her heart stir, and allows the hope of romance to begin to warm her heart.


Keely Brooke Keith presents a unique story, in which two worlds collide. Not unlike traveling back in time, the modern day knight in black army gear is suddenly thrust through a portal of sorts, to a world of simple means. She deftly builds tension, not only between Lydia and Connor, but with a disgruntled admirer who hovers on the outskirts of the story right up to the ending pages. Ms. Keith has created a very believable characters in Lydia Colburn, dedicated to her calling as a doctor, who struggles with real life issues, and in Lydia’s family members, as well as Connor Bradshaw, who struggles at first with being unable to return to the life he had known. Ms. Keith has also created a very believable world, The Land, in which the society is structured neatly; but not to be utopian or Pollyanna, evil lurks at the borders.

A delightful read, The Land Uncharted pulled me easily in to the story line, and as I came to know the characters, I found myself rooting for them in their quests. I look forward to more by this author.









#bookreview, #keelybrookekeith, #thelanduncharted, #grayleaftree, #twoworldscollide, #technology, #waranddestruction

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Mary Ellen Bramwell

You know you’re a writer if . . .

… you’ve ever googled how quickly someone might die from poison

… you’ve asked your writer friends for help writing a suicide note

… you’ve asked a doctor how quickly and in what manner a disease will kill instead of how one might survive

… you’ve taken a vacation and could deduct it on your taxes as “research”

… you’ve read a good book for work and pleasure

… you’ve researched how to commit a crime (fraud, theft, espionage, etc.)

… you’ve researched the meanings of your character’s names more than your own children’s names

… you talk in word counts not page numbers

… you explore your dreams and nightmares for possible material

… you’ve ever cried over the death of a character, but killed him or her off anyway!

Please feel free to add your own!

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The month of October is a special time for me:

my debut novel, my baby,


tessa cover - front - 092314

will be released IN PRINT on Halloween!


Contest begins today and goes through the Day of the Event! On the Day of the Event, I will randomly select one correct entry as the winner.


CONTEST #2: Scavenger hunt – peruse through my Countdown Posts to find

A – Style of art preferred by Marni, Cassie, and Connie; OR

B – Which authors I interviewed this month; OR

C – Which books I reviewed this month.


Ready! Set!! GO!!!








#contest, #countdowncelebration, #scavengerhunt, #authorinterviews, #bookreviews

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