Blog Post

Welcome to A Cup of Conversation with C.L. Walters, a wonderful author, who I have had the pleasure of connecting with on Instagram just before Christmas and who has already engaged in the writing community with passion, authenticity and most of all creativity. Here she reveals her career as an English teacher has spanned twenty years and shares her favourite quote from Michelle Obama’s book and what her latest book Swimming Sideways is all about.


1. When did you start writing creatively?

The first story I remember writing for an audience, I was eight or nine. It was the story of an older man riding a bus with a bouquet of flowers bunched in his fist. He was dressed up in a suit and pondering his impending reunion. The man recalls a promise he made during the war and the plan he and his friend made to reunite after they’d established their lives. As a reader, we followed the protagonist through his thoughts about his friend, the war and friendship from the bus as he walks the remainder of the way to the meeting. Finally, upon our protagonist’s “hello,” we learn he’s ventured to a cemetery where his friend has been long buried.

This makes me chuckle, now, because what would an 8 or 9-year-old girl know about being an older man? Or a soldier in WWII? Or what it would feel like to have developed a brotherhood? There are so many layers in this story that my limited perspective would never have been able to capture, but I also am a bit surprised by it too. Where did that story come from? It seems so nuanced for an eight or nine-year-old child to conceive.

I remember after I finished writing the story, I rushed to read it to my mother – an obviously biased audience. She cried, she was so moved, and her reaction was addictive for me. I’ve been writing creatively ever since.

2. In your own words you are ‘a teacher of stories and a writer of make believe.’ How does this translate into the reality of your life?

I’ve been an English teacher (among other positions in education) for over twenty years and have taught nearly every age from Kindergarten through Seniors in secondary school. I love opening doors to literature for students, specifically with regards to the elements of story and devices writers use to leverage meaning. When the light bulb is illuminated on the layers of an exceptional piece of literature, and a student has that ah-ha moment – it’s as addictive as my mom’s response to that first story I read her.

I believe my experience teaching story – of studying it and then attempting to make it accessible and relevant to those not as enamoured with it as I am – has made me a better student of writing and story structure. Over the years, as I’ve taught story and writing, I can see the development of my own writing craft.

3. How have you incorporated your own experiences of growing up in Oregon and Hawaii in your books? 

Swimming Sideways, the first book in the YA series I published this year incorporates both Hawaii and Oregon. The protagonist, Abby is part Hawaiian grappling with her identity as both a young woman and as a native Hawaiian in a foreign land (and attitude) of Oregon. My experiences in both places – growing up in Oregon, moving to Hawaii, teaching Hawaiian students, being a mother of Hawaiian children – have definitely influenced the initial writing of the book, however, given that Abby is Native Hawaiian, I also drew heavily from my Native Hawaiian friends and colleagues to write her appropriately. I would never want to appropriate a culture to misrepresent it in edited snapshots. Aside from that, I remember what it was like to be a young adult, and working with teens has kept me connected to the high drama and vitality of those visceral experiences.

The other two titles: The Ugly Truth (also published) and the third book (to be released in 2019) are all set in the fictional town of Cantos, Oregon. I grew up in Oregon and it wasn’t until I graduated from university and married my Hawaiian sweetheart that I moved to Hawaii.  I’ve lived in Hawaii for almost as many years as I have Oregon at this point in my life, so both places have embedded their power in my identity. That makes it difficult to escape those attitudes, though I do make a conscious effort to develop characters who aren’t a reflection of me. And while I am a woman, I definitely find writing male characters so much easier. I attribute it to being only one of two girls during my youth in my extended Oregon family of all males.

4. You recently read Becoming by Michelle Obama. You mention this quote, “Failure is a feeling long before it becomes an actual result…’ How or why is it a favourite?

The quotation spoke to me on many different levels, but I think as an artist it spoke the loudest. Creative endeavours are so lonely. I find myself willingly trapped in my own head a lot, but there’s a danger to being there in that lonely creative space, because – and I think you as a writer will understand – the self-doubt is a giant monster we are continually slaying. After so many rejections of my work as I attempted to walk the traditional publishing path, the self-doubt was giant and co-mingled with fear, it was paralyzing.  I stopped writing for some time, afraid because I didn’t think I was good enough – that I had failed. I think that’s why this quotation stood out. It’s always why I think about how important a fellowship of creatives is in order to work through those doubts. I think about CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien and their writer’s group without which neither The Lord of the Rings or The Chronicles of Narnia would exist.

5. Tell us a little about your next release/WIP.

I’m working on the final installment of the story that swirls around the characters of Abby (Swimming Sideways), Seth (The Ugly Truth) and Gabe. The third book, told from Gabe’s point of view, is entitled The Bones of Who We Are, and I expect it will be out this coming October.

The three books are contemporary Young Adult novels with a coming-of-age slant. While I call the books a series, a better description might be companion novels. All three narratives are distinct in that they are told from a different character’s point of view. The period of time is the same, but by telling the story from varied perspectives, it highlights the idea that we can never really understand someone outside of ourselves without really trying to understand their story.

6. Are any of the characters in your novels based on yourself?

No. Not really, though if you’ve read Swimming Sideways and The Ugly Truth, I do see parts of myself, my friends, my family, my experiences in situations or in conversations. It is the nature of writing and the writer, I think, to draw from our experiences and twist them as the narrative warrants. While the stories aren’t specifically about me, there are touches of who I am in the layers of the prose. For example, Seth’s story which is about abuse and alcoholism isn’t one that I have personally lived through, but there are things like working on his truck with his dad, the lockers in the high school, or in the love of music that are ghosts from my own memory and experience.

7. Which of your characters is your favourite and why would your readers like them?

Am I allowed to say all of them? (LOL). When I first started writing this series of stories, it started as a paranormal fantasy with demons and angels. I was inspired to write it because I hated how Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight Series dealt with Jacob – the contrived pairing of him with Bella’s daughter really bothered me. Abby – as a character – had already been on my mind so, I began writing her story which introduced me to Seth and Gabe. Shortly after I finished the first novel which I’d tentatively titled Fallen, the novel Fallen by Lauren Kate and Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick were published with a very similar premises (Fallen angels, demon antagonist), and I was crushed creatively. I stopped writing (here’s the full-circle moment of that quotation by Michelle Obama).

Seth, however, was persistent and wouldn’t stop talking to me. I don’t blame him since at the end of the original Fallen story I’d taken him into hell and left him there for Gabe to come and rescue (Ha, ha, ha). Seth kept saying to me: “you can’t leave me here.” So, I did return to his story years later. I decided to draw Seth’s story out of the paranormal world and make it a stand-alone novel. I spent time getting to know him. In the original story, Seth wasn’t very likeable (which still remains in Abby’s story Swimming Sideways), and I wondered why. As I began to get to know him, I realized the struggle of his story, and as I began to understand him as a character so deeply flawed, in understanding his why I began to love him. In the rewrite, I brought Seth into the contemporary world (though there’s still some magical realism in his story) and that is how The Ugly Truth came to be.

To be honest, though, I find that my favourite is whoever I’m writing – because right now, I adore Gabe. He hits my heart strings in a different way than Seth but I think I might have a thing for the flawed hero.

8. How do you organise your writing process and how do you prepare your books for release?

I journal every day and that is where I start my writing day: First with some prayer and study (I am a Christian, so I spend time studying the Bible), then I journal to reflect on my personal life, choices and experiences. The reflections always take me toward whatever creative endeavour I’m working on and provides me the space and quiet to ponder the questions I have on my mind. I find that journaling is a great way to get me focused and present.

In the midst of my process, I use a calendar to keep me honest to the writing. In it, I set my monthly goals (which is usually a specific goal like “develop character A” or “explore conflict between B and C” rather than a word count. Word counts freak me out and tend to paralyze my creativity). Then, every day, I record the work I do with a quick check in. For example, I might note: Gabe (the book), fight (the scene).

With regards to release, the first book Swimming Sideways, I released to Amazon in October 2018 (I’m relatively new to the independent author world) and shared it with all of my contacts on Facebook. In a fortuitous series of events, I’d already started an author Instagram, an Author page on FB and my own website. I began to use to those platforms promote the work. I’ve been really humbled by the response to Swimming Sideways which has been reviewing at five stars. Especially after coming from a place of such doubt and fear.

For The Ugly Truth I did a cover reveal (the book was released December 2018), which I’m not sure if it was successful or not. Sales are slow, but I anticipated a slow start because it’s realistic when no one knows you or your work. I’m working to build an author platform which I know takes time (even if I don’t want it to because I’m impatient). I’m attempting my first give away on Instagram, and I have made a wonderful world-wide group of writer friends on Instagram who have reviewed my books and provided a space for an interview (Thank you, Soulla!). That has been a blessing because it makes me realize I’m not alone. Sometimes Instagram can make me feel like I am failing in comparison to everyone else, but I return to the belief that I’m doing what I can and maybe the time isn’t mine to worry about. Truthfully, I have no idea what I’m doing, I’m just doing it because I LOVE writing, NOT writing isn’t an option, and I want it to be my day job, too.

9. Is there any aspect of the writer’s life you least enjoy? Why?

I just described it; self-promotion and marketing myself (my work) doesn’t come naturally. I’m actually a perfectionist which I know Anne Lamott warned is “the voice of the oppressor,” but when I do something, I want it to be exceptional. So, because I don’t know much about marketing, sales, and publicity and because it isn’t natural to this introvert, it’s a struggle. That said, I do have a healthy enough ego to believe in the work I’m trying to get out there, so I’ll step outside of the comfort zone and do what needs to be done to build that platform. If it means sharing stories that I believe in, then so be it. That, and I try not to take “no” personally.

10. What do you do to relax or recharge and how does it help your writing?

Read! Read! And Read! Stephen King wrote about the importance of reading in one of my all-time favourite reads On Writing: a memoir of the craft. I learn so much from other writers at varying stages of their own careers. I study story and craft and find ways in which maybe I’m falling short and see different approaches which help me refine my own approach to the craft. I love to watch movies (which my husband and I enjoy together. We have a website and Facebook page where we review movies). This is also about studying story for me.

I enjoy spending time with my family, but they don’t necessarily re-energize me since I tend to be introverted (they are soul suckers, but I love them so very much) but being with them gets me out of my own head where I can often get lost. I love going to the beach – the sound of the ocean, the feel of the water. I’m always listening to music (Spotify is incredible) because music inspires story in my mind. A moving piece of music can move my imagination. I enjoy traveling (and would love to do more of it). It offers me perspective, new experiences, and pushes my comfort zone which I know is essential as a developing human and as a creative writer, but my favourite place to be is home.

11. Are you a planner or a pantser?

I think I’m a planner. I’d like to be a pantser – and maybe scenes are born from the spontaneity of a moment, a sound, a scent, a song, a word – but once the scene is written, I have too many questions. I begin to answer them and that is where the planning is born.

12. What are your three big plans for 2019?

  1. Release The Bones of Who We Are (Gabe’s Story)
  2. Begin work on a new project. One is a mixed genre fantasy/Sci-Fi that I worked on for Nanowrimo this year. I’d like to complete a solid, cohesive draft since the 70,000 words I wrote for Nanwrimo are a mess.
  3. I also have a new idea in the works for Nanowrimo 2019.


It’s been a pleasure having you on A Cup of Conversation Cami and wish you all the best with your writing and new books in 2019…and thank you readers for joining us. You can connect with Cami on any of the links below as well as have a closer look at her books too.

Until next time, Happy reading, Happy writing, Happy you.

Soulla x 


Twitter: @peeledandcored

Instagram: @cl.walters

Facebook: CLWalters (@clwaltersofficial)



Amazon link to books:

Welcome to the first A Cup of Conversation of 2019! I’m kicking off with author Anton Marks who I was introduced to by Anne John-Ligali at the London Book Fair in March 2017 and who I have since not only had the pleasure to talk to about books and his works but have also read his book 69! I am starting off here with a real bang as Sci Fi, Fantasy and supernatural Thrillers are genres so many readers enjoy and his books have been described as being “fast paced, witty yet very, very dark…”, having “some fantastic action and quite really well written scenes of intimacy…” and of his novel 69 as a “futuristic thriller that definitely stirs the reader’s imagination and wonder…”.

So I think I’ve built the anticipation and intrigue enough now so let’s join Anton Marks as he spills all about his writing, inspiration and reveals which author he would most like to meet! 

1. When did you start writing creatively?

I started writing creatively from a young age? I was bitten by the writing bug from primary school. I watched a lot of TV – nothing much has changed, and I wanted to write continuing stories of my favourite programs. I guess my short stories were more like comics because I had intermittent illustrations running through it. I didn’t care what it was, I was excited to write it and my small audience of classmates was too.

2. In your own words you write fiction ‘that highlights the black experience through the lens of the extraordinary’. What does this mean?

I grew up with an insatiable appetite for reading. I was drawn to stories that had an adventure, Sci-Fi, Fantasy or Horror element to them. As I matured I began to realise these stories that were so dear to my heart were written by authors who seemed to believe people of colour did not exist in the worlds they created. I vowed to one day write stories about ordinary people who find themselves in extraordinary circumstances. Highlighting the black experience through the lens of the extraordinary for me means including my African – Caribbean heritage within the pages of any story I write and not being afraid to include my passion for the fantastic.

3. How have you incorporated your own experiences of growing up in Jamaica in your books?

I tend to incorporate characters in my stories who are of Jamaican heritage giving me the opportunity to add some of my life experiences of growing up there. Like all countries the island occupies its own unique place in the world. It adds verisimilitude to whatever tale I tell when I weave in these personal anecdotes. I think readers appreciate truth, when it’s being expressed as the written word or spoken.

4. What was the last book you read and what lasting message did it leave?

A steamfunk novella called Black Gods Drums. One of its themes was unity is strength and it was also a wake-up call for me to realize there are some great speculative fiction stories out there. I need to keep improving my craft.

5. Tell us a little about your next release/WIP.

Good II be Bad is the second in what will be a series of supernatural thrillers. It’s the continued adventures of three mystical gifted women who have been ordained with the responsibility of maintaining the delicate balance of good and evil. Their first adventure in the novel Bad II the Bone had the girls battling a very powerful Witchdoctor. In their second outing in the novel Good II be Bad they come up against a ruthless Vampire queen. With ever novel I write about the trio I enjoy the experience more and more. It’s great getting to know them in the quiet moments as well as the fights.

6. Are any of the characters in your novels based on yourself?

Not specifically but I share different aspects of my character with the characters in my books. From the antagonist to the protagonist and even walk on characters.

7. Which of your characters is your favourite and why would your readers like them?

If there is a character in any of my books that I gravitate to the most it would be Joshua N’Gon. Joshua is the fourteen year old protagonist of a Sci-Fi/Fantasy YA novel called Joshua N’Gon: Last Prince of Alkebulahn. I like him because he has a bright spark of passion about him. Everything he does is an adventure filled with vast possibility. Maybe I created him as a reminder that I need to re-capture that spirit of adventure myself. All I know is writing the character fills me with optimism.

8. How do you organise your writing process and how do you prepare your books for release?

My writing process begins with the idea. If it’s a new concept I have a scene in my head with the main character. If it’s a continuing series then I’ve worked out a rough premise and plot. Depending on the complexity of the story will depend on whether I create a mind- map or a chapter by chapter break down. First draft is to get the rough shape of the novel. I need at least five drafts working with my editor to bang the manuscript in shape for publication. I didn’t mention that the cover idea usually appears with the concept of the story. I get my graphics artist to start working on it from early on. Percolating in the background with everything else that is happening, is my marketing strategy. It is ideally implemented six month before launch date. Within that marketing campaign I have my street team read and review the book in advance. My final task is to produce two versions of the finished manuscript for digital and paperback reproduction.

9. Is there any aspect of the writer’s life you least enjoy? Why?

I enjoy most aspects of the writer’s life; my challenge is the quantity of tasks required to be successful as a self-published author. I definitely need a virtual assistant.

10. If you were able to meet any author, alive or dead, who would you choose and why?

Stephen King. His stories are amazing and his imagination is prodigious. He has an uncanny ability to focus on aspects of the characters inner world that you wouldn’t expect to be not just entertaining but vital to the story. I’d want to know how he effortlessly brings his characters to vivid life.

11. Are you a planner or a pantser?

A bit of both.

12. What’s on your current to-do list?

A short story with my son and the second in a YA Sci-Fi/Fantasy tetralogy.

Thank you Anton for a wonderful interview and I wish you lots of continued success with your writing. If you would like to connect with Anton his links and social media accounts are listed below. 


Thank you too for joining us and until next time,

Happy Reading, Happy Writing, Happy you!

Soulla xxx





Amazon link to books:

Omega Point short story –

Bad II the Bone –

Chauffeur Audio Book –

Joshua N’Gon:Last Prince of Alkebulahn –

Messiah Short story –

Bushman –

69 –

Dancehall –

I wanted to mark the beginning of 2019 by looking back at what a fabulous group of authors I interviewed for my A Cup of Conversation author interview series.

I think I covered many different genres and styles of writing, authors at different points along their writing journeys and careers and from all over the world and I have since read many of their books too!

So as a recap I’m sharing their names and book links with you so you can build your reading list ready for 2019.

Everything is here from SciFi to Romance, Coming of Age to Historical Fiction, Rom-com to Young Adult, Fantasy to Women’s Fiction, Thrillers to Crime reads, Magic and Fairytales…

So Happy New Year everyone and Happy Reading!

January 2018


Heather MacKinnon –

Phyllis Duncan –

March 2018


Jackie Baldwin – Here and Here

Aaron Brinker –

April 2018


Anne John-Ligali –

Chris Toedt –

May 2018


Ian Sutherland –

June 2018


Effie Kammenou – kammenou

Elisa Gianoncelli –

July 2018


Kristy Jo Volchko –

Chariss K. Walker –

August 2018


Andrew Mowere –

Mark O’Neill –

September 2018


Amy J. Markstahler –

Cassie Faber –

October 2018


Tina-Marie Miller –

November 2018


Joe Congel –

December 2018


Patricia M. Osborne –



A bit about me.

I’m an author of adult fiction and have two books – Broken Pieces of Tomorrow, coming of age and The Summer Will Come, historical fiction – both with a thread of romance running through them available via Amazon as well as Sunshine after Rain, a collection of poetry inspired by old sayings and proverbs.

Before writing I was a teacher in a secondary school where my specialism was Business Studies which I taught at GCSE and A Level and BTEC Levels 2 and 3. I was also Head of PSHE, Deputy Director of Learning for the Sixth Form and Head of UCAS. I taught English one-to-one as part of a programme to improve overall grades at GCSE too. I was busy!

Since leaving my career in education I have devoted my time to a number of different roles; writing, marketing to for a fashion brand and for a local private school, editing, ghost blogging and private tuition including creative writing classes. I am still busy!

How I came about writing the 12 part Writer’s Guide.

This guide came about as a result of my observations across social media regarding the sort of information new writers were looking for and often had to hunt across multiple sources to find, as well as my own experience of writing my books, publishing them and marketing them. Finding the right information at the right time took up a lot of my time and energy and I found it tedious and often quite stressful. There didn’t seem to be a one-stop shop or site to help me.

It is an introductory yet comprehensive guide with examples, links to professional writing organisations and associations and suppliers of and experts in the fields of publishing and marketing too.

It is a mini encyclopaedia of everything a new writer needs to know in order to successfully write, publish and market their book, whether their work is fiction or non-fiction.

What are the 12 sections?

Quite simply:

  • Part One – Completing Your First Draft
  • Part Two – Writing Fiction or Non-Fiction
  • Part Three – Knowing Your Genre
  • Part Four – Researching Your Book
  • Part Five – Editing For Your Self-published Book
  • Part Six – Proofreading Your Book
  • Part Seven – Rewriting Your Draft
  • Part Eight – Finding a Self-Publisher Online Self-publishing
  • Part Nine – Printing Your Own Book
  • Part Ten – Off-Line Marketing To Sell Your Book
  • Part Eleven – Online Marketing To Sell Your Book
  • Part Twelve – So Your Book Is Printed
  • Bibliography – Links, Sources and Authors Quoted

Where is the Writer’s Guide available to buy?

It’s available via my website. Go to the red band at the top of the page…let it roll across and then click when prompted) and there is a simple payment option to buy the guide as well as extracts and information there too.

Any questions?

Please just email me or contact me via one of my social media platforms (all on this website)



I wrote this poem – friends…discombobulated – over a year ago when I first started working seriously on the manuscript for my third book – currently titled Trust is a Big Word – though this may change.

For those of you not up to date with my next story it is about a friendship which begins online, across Twitter, as a bit of harmless flirtation and which ends up crossing the line and developing into an illicit affair, the main character is married.

It is a story about why so many people stay in relationships and make do, thinking they are not worth more, getting so comfortable in their relationship they lose their own identity and how one casual comment can turn their world upside down, make life worth living again.

It is a story of love and lust, of friendship and more and of how accepting who you are can create a whole new world where you can live, and breathe and laugh…it’s going to be an incredible story.

And in the meantime this poem catches some of the essence of the book…hope you enjoy it.

I always believed you would be the one

From the wannabe excitement to the

Fat belly diets and silly football jokes

Besties through the good and the bad

But then something changed

Like ships on the wild sea, discombobulated

The clouds leaked unwanted watching

Into what became a useless, wrong lazy love

From gay spring happiness to utter desperate failure

Our love from virgin pure

To a disgusting addiction, intoxication

Now unusable, a one-sided single passion it seemed

Ears listened no more, lips moved wordless

Emerging, sounds solidifying on the ice air

Likes and fans, watching moving Twitter blue

Our bed a cake of disappointment

Bitter taste on our tongues,

Like a telling off from our mums

So we turned away from each other

To never return, to never say I could love you again.


Thank you for reading and I hope to share some of my writing with you again soon. Until next time, Happy Reading, Happy Writing, Happy You.

Soulla xxx

PS: My poetry collection Sunshine after Rain is available as an e-book download on Amazon…why not take a look here? Mwah xxx




Welcome to A Cup of Conversation with author Patricia M. Osborne who wrote her first poem when she was in Infants School! Things have certainly moved on since then and she now has an MA in Creative Writing via the University of Brighton. She has a new book coming out soon and shares her writing journey with us here so let’s have a read…

1. When did you start writing creatively?

I’ve been writing creatively for as long as I can remember. I won my first poetry competition when I was around six or seven. The poem was about clothes, but that’s all I remember. It was only when I took up creative writing during my Open University BA degree that I started to take writing seriously. At first, learning all the technical tools stifled my creativity but as time went on, I found my creativity returned and my writing improved.

2. How have your interests outside of writing supported your writing journey?

I love walking and that helps because it gives me the excuse to wander around inspiring places like my local park and lake, and National Trust Properties. I also like to play the piano which clears my head.

3. You have an MA in Creative Writing via the University of Brighton. How has this helped your writing?

The MA has introduced me to so many wonderful resources, given me the opportunity to meet lots of writers and artists, and played a big part in expanding my platform and network. There was always plenty of opportunity to workshop and critique with peers.

4. You write novels as well as poetry. How does your process for writing each differ?

They are different, yes, but for me they go hand in hand. Writing poetry encourages me to ensure that every word counts in my novel writing. Working on a novel takes me time to warm up and I don’t always have that time whereas  I can start a poem even when time is short

5. Tell us a little about your next novel, The Coal Miner’s Son.

The Coal Miner’s Son runs alongside House of Grace, A Family Saga. It may be read as a sequel or stand-alone. It begins in 1962: when nine-year-old George is ripped away from his family after tragedy strikes the village coal mine. Six years on, and living with his noble grandparents, he discovers he’s been living a lie. He feels betrayed and unsure who to trust.

House of Grace is set in the 50s and 60s and opens in 1950 with sixteen-year-old, Grace, leaving boarding school. All she wants is to become a fashion designer but her father has other plans for her.

(In October 2017, House of Grace won a ‘Chill with a Book Readers’ Award.’)

Back to ‘The Coal Miner’s Son’, I was hoping to release this in December 2018 but the MA dissertation took over more than I’d anticipated. I’ve now resolved to finish it by the end of December with a view to release in March 2019.

6. Who designs your book covers and how much input do you have?

House of Grace was a joint project with Create Imaginations (now ceased trading) designing the picture and PJ Formatting and Cover Design did the rest.

I had lots of input with the cover illustration. I told Paul Beeley, Create Imaginations, exactly what I wanted. It took a few drafts to get it right but we got there in the end. I’m sure you’ll agree that the cover for House of Grace is quite striking. I intend ‘The Coal Miner’s Son’ to be just as eye catching.

7. How do you ensure your books are ready for release?

Firstly, I make sure my manuscripts are thoroughly edited by a qualified person, correctly formatted, and ensure it has a professional cover. It has to be every bit as good as a cover that a traditional publisher would use. I employed PJ Formatting and Cover Design to complete the formatting for House of Grace.

8. What was the last book you read and what lasting message did it leave?

The last book I read was Pat Barker’s Regeneration. I suppose the lasting message for me, was just how tough those poor soldiers in the trenches had it. Even when their comrades had been blown to pieces they had to stay put. Horrendous. So important that these stories are passed on to the younger generation to hopefully keep wars at bay.

9. What aspect of the writer’s life do you least enjoy? Why?

Probably the marketing. I actually love marketing and networking but it mean less time to write.

10. If you were able to meet any author, alive or dead, who would you choose and why? 

I think I’d quite like to meet Barbara Taylor Bradford as it’s been said by some of my readers that my writing style is like her early writing.

11. Are you a planner or a pantser?

A bit of both although I normally like to know the ending. However, I changed my mind about the ending for ‘The Coal Miner’s Son,’ so in this instance, definitely more pantser.

12. What’s on your current to-do list?

I have a couple of poetry collections that I’d like to get out.

  • When I was Poet in Residence to my local Victorian Park, I wrote a poetry portfolio for my module assignment. This collection uses a fictional timeline to narrate the story of the park and is broken into four sections.
  • I have worked on another poetry portfolio for my MA dissertation. This was on myth, folklore and legends around trees. However, I still have a few more poems to write to add to this collection.
  • And of course my priority at the moment is to complete ‘The Coal Miner’s Son.’

Patricia thank you for your lovely message, “Once again Soulla, thank you for having me here. I’ve enjoyed answering your questions.” and I wish you all the best with the completion of The Coal Miner’s Son. 

Thank you readers for joining me this week and you can connect with Patricia across any of the links below. Until next time, Happy Reading, Happy Writing, Happy You! 

With much love, Soulla x 






Website / Blog:


Amazon link to books:

Hi everyone and welcome to my poetry post this week. This is a special one as it will feature in my third novel, currently titled Trust is a Big Word but this may change. The story is set in London and Scotland and follows the friendship of two people who then become involved in an illicit affair; chatting on Twitter begins as a bit of harmless flirtation but quickly escalates into something much more intense and passionate and there’s no going back…or is there? Are Alexander and Maria in too deep? Will they leave the lives they know to be together or will circumstances and old habits keep them apart? Can’t wait to share it with you towards the end of 2019/beginning of 2020.


The first time I saw you was before you saw me

Walking towards me, consciously unaware I was there

I observed you whole, your walk, your look, your stare


Like an outlined drawing I could now fill in the blanks

The gait of your step, the movement of your swagger

How tall you were and the way you held your head


I averted my eyes to avoid you yet noticing me

I wanted that moment of recognition just right to be

One of held locked gaze, not a crumpled weight


Colours of want and pages of love swept through me

Long felt caresses, silver-edged dreams almost a reality

Melting deep within me, sensations infused me abound


Then you caught my eye, and smiled an open song

A collision of desire and brushstroke this is for real

You took me in your arms and wrapped me in scarlet lust


Our hearts tender, entwined threads of silk in fine gold

A sip of eternity as our lips for the first time touched

Creamy beads I felt release as I breathed a heart’s wisp


And you held me there for seconds but of all eternity

Lost in your strength, a wrap of comfort, love’s creation

Inside the fluttering white wings of angels dusted my heart



This week’s A Cup of Conversation is with the enigmatic Joe Congel. One of Joe’s tweets caught my attention a few months ago and I decided to rather cheekily comment about the book he was tweeting about. Well, little did I know I’d met my match and he enticed me to read his book, Dead is Forever…his debut novel held me hostage in the pages of the story for 4 days and nights…totally unputdownable. If you like crime fiction, with “real” people and a fabulous raw edge to the writing then Joe is the author to look out for.

I’m glad we crossed paths and here he is today sharing his author life with us…so grab your cuppas and let’s see what he has to say about all things writing and books.

1. When did you start writing creatively?

I caught the writing bug in the early ‘90s. Before that, I thought I wanted to be a professional cartoonist. I adore newspaper comic strips. They were an important part of my life for a long time. I grew up in upstate NY and was only about three hours away from where the Museum of Cartoon Art was located at that time. I travelled the three hours every first Sunday of the month so that I could catch the Museum’s First Sunday Cartoonist Lecture Series. They would feature a working professional cartoonist every month that would talk about cartooning and how they got into the profession, the tools they used, and the business in general. And of course, it always included plenty of up close observation and teaching of the technical part of drawing cartoon characters by that month’s featured artist. It was entertaining and informative, and helped keep my cartooning dream alive for many years. I drew a lot of comic strips that never saw the light of day, but I also did have a smidgeon of success. The Syracuse New Times, a local weekly paper where I grew up, did publish a comic strip of mine… once. At the time they had a weekly revolving spot that local cartoonists were invited to fill, and I got one of those coveted spots. Later on, I drew comic characters for an advertising campaign for a local video store. Those spots ran every week in the New Times for a year or so. This was all in the late ‘80s.

Then, in 1991, a friend of mine was writing a book called ‘Housetraining Your VCR: A Help Manual for Humans’, and he needed someone to draw the cover art and some spot illustrations throughout the book. He asked me since it was a light hearted book, and he wanted the cover and illustrations to be cartoons to match the light, humorous vibe of the contents. So I did the book with him, and it was during that project that I actually caught the creative writing bug. I got a first-hand look at the publishing business, and with encouragement from my friend, decided that I’d try my hand at writing. His was a non-fiction book, but I thought I was better suited to give fiction a whirl. I began ‘Dead is Forever’ shortly after that. I wrote that book during the mid-nineties. I even found an agent that shopped the book around for me. But it was one of those, you pay us for the printing and postage to package your manuscript, type of agencies. I was so happy that someone, anyone, wanted to help me sell the book that I agreed. Luckily, I had only signed on for six months, and of course, we never sold the manuscript. Later, I realized that a real agency does not charge for those services, but instead is paid when the book sells. Lesson learned. After that, I shelved the book for twenty-years while I helped raise two wonderful kids. The creative writing bug returned with a vengeance in 2016 and I took ‘Dead is Forever’ off the shelf and began to update and revise the storyline. I finally took the plunge into self-publishing in 2017, and I’ve been writing creatively ever since.

2. You have written a number of novels as well as short stories. How does your process for writing each differ?

Well, I thought that if I was really gonna give this writing thing a chance, I needed to learn more about the actual craft of writing a story. I took a creative writing course which focused on short stories, and learned a lot about how to structure a beginning, a middle, and an end, without a lot of extras, yet keep it a satisfying reading experience. When I’m writing a short story, I have to put myself in a frame of mind that allows me to cut out all the extra fluff. I pack in a lot of fluff (smiling here), when writing the full length stuff. For the shorts, I have to tell a complete story in as few words as possible. As you can probably tell by the length of my answers to this interview, that’s hard for me. I like to talk and my writing reflects that.

I love writing short stories. So I started a little experiment to help me when writing a short story for publication. I began stretching myself a little bit on my blog. I’ve posted a couple of oddball short stories (odd for me, anyway), and it’s given me a way to exercise that part of my brain and work out the kinks. It’s something that is needed to help me keep the so called fluff out of my short stories. They are also written in a genre I don’t normally write in, which pushes me to think differently.

I tend to take more time labouring over writing a short story than when working on a full length novel. I will sometimes spend hours changing sentences or words to make the story as concise and complete as possible. One of the biggest challenges I have is simply ending the story.

As I said, I like to talk a lot. So the longer form of the novel is where I probably belong. I think I am at my best when writing a full length book. I have several more ideas for Tony Razzolito stories, which will keep me busy for a while. So other than on my blog, I don’t know how many other published short stories you’ll see from me. Except for one – I’m participating in a short story anthology book that will be out, I believe, in April of next year. I can’t say anything else about that right now, other than it’s a fun project and the proceeds are going to be donated to a good cause.

3. How do you carry out your research to ensure the police procedures are correct in your detective novels?

The internet is my friend. I use it for almost all of my research. I’ve also been able to draw on the experience of a couple of my relatives. I have a cousin that was a Police Officer, who now in retirement, works security jobs for a casino and other venues around the central NY area. I also have a brother-in-law who worked as a Correctional Officer for the New York State prison system for thirty years. Just listening to the stories told by both of these guys over the years has given me a unique perspective on how police detectives interact with each other, which has helped me create believable law enforcement characters.

4. Tell us a little about your next release Dirty Air.

‘Dirty Air’ is the third full novel in the ‘The Razzman Files’ series, starring PI Tony Razzolito. It is the fourth book overall, counting the short story collection.

First off, let me explain where the title, ‘Dirty Air’ comes from. It’s a racing term which is used to explain when the turbulent air currents caused by a fast-moving car (usually the lead car in a race) can compromise the aerodynamics of the car following behind, causing it to lose control. Essentially, it is the effect that air passing over the top of the lead car has on the car behind it.

A question authors are often asked is… Where do your ideas come from? What inspired you to write that book? Well, in the case of where the idea for writing a story of murder in the world of NASCAR and street racing came from, inspiration hit when I came across the term, Dirty Air, while researching something totally unrelated on line. I had actually already started another storyline for the third book which I was building around a minor league baseball team and an old mob guy who disappeared years ago after turning informant. I was looking up some information for this, when I came across the Dirty Air definition. I can’t even explain it, but the plot of the NASCAR story just came into my head and started to write itself. I immediately changed gears, shelved the other idea and started over. So in this case, the story was inspired by and built around the title, rather than writing the book and then trying to figure out what to call it.

The story mixes the world of NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) with the world of illegal street racing. Tony’s PI firm becomes involved when a young, up and coming NASCAR race car driver is murdered during Speed Street, which is a 3-day festival that takes place in Charlotte before the Memorial Day weekend race event.

The driver’s widow employs Tony and his partner, Scott to find out why and who killed her husband. She needs the service and discretion of a private detective agency because she’s afraid that the investigation will uncover secrets she doesn’t want the police, their fans, or the media to find out about—namely that her husband was moonlighting as an illegal street racer. She’s certain that is why he was murdered and needs Tony to prove it, yet keep her husband’s reputation from being ruined in the process. A juggling act that Tony and his team are not sure they can or should worry about while trying to find the killer.

Stock car racing is not in Tony’s wheelhouse, but luckily for him, his partner is a big fan. Between the two of them, and with a little help from Vinnie, a locally connected hood wannabe, they dig deep into both worlds, uncovering that there’s still a big link between the two worlds, going all the way back to NASCAR’s moonshine running roots.

Within the main plot, I try to blend enough of the central character’s back story that if you’ve not read any of the other books, you still get a good idea of what makes them tick. For instance: In the short story collection, ‘The Judge’ which is the third story, I began a story arc where we find out that Scott’s father is sick and he goes back home to be with him. In ‘Deadly Passion’, we learn more about that situation and about Scott’s relationship with his father. In ‘Dirty Air’ I continue that arc. It’s the same with Tony. From the first book, through the short stories, the second book, and now into the third, we get to see how he’s grown from a self-centered person into a man who can handle his chosen profession and a mature adult relationship. Not always perfectly, but with all the flaws, which (hopefully) makes you appreciate the progression of character building and development throughout the series. That being said, it’s important that the books can be read out of order and not lose anything or feel like the reader missed something just because they discovered the series with book three. But it still needs to be balanced just right to encourage the reader to like it well enough to want to go back to the beginning and catch up.

As I am the only one I answer to regarding when I release my books, I want to make certain that I’ve got this one buttoned up right. I live in the middle of NASCAR country, so it’s important to get the details perfect. That being said, I had hoped to release it at the end of October. Some personal life stuff derailed me and I am now looking at an end of December or a January release date, still to be determined. But rest assured, no longer than that!

5. How has your main character evolved as more books have been added to the series?

Tony Razzolito was an out-of-work retail appliance salesman. The first book, ‘Dead is Forever’, introduces Tony as a lazy, self-centered, borderline ass, not trying real hard to find a job. The store he was working at went out of business and he felt it was an excuse to try his hand at something new. He wanted to be a private detective, but had no formal training to do so. That is, except for a TV gameshow where the contestants had to try to solve a fictional crime. He was obsessed with the show and felt that based on that, and that alone, he could be a pretty good PI. He gets his chance in a very unusual way—his wife is murdered and he and his best friend, who just happens to be a police homicide detective, work together on solving the murder. Through trial and error, and some self-reflection, he grows quite a bit during the course of the book. But in order to turn him into a viable PI that readers would care about, I relocated him from his hometown and advanced the timeline in book two, ‘Deadly Passion’, by about five years. Now he is a PI that knows his business and he and his partner, Scott McHenry, run a Private Investigation Agency in Charlotte, NC. So, to answer any questions a reader of book one might have after reading book two, I devised a short story trilogy that bridges the time gap and learning curve for Tony’s advancement into the professional PI business. I encourage my readers to read ‘The Razzman Chronicles: A Trio of Tony Razzolito PI Stories’, to fill in any gaps in the series timeline. It’s not absolutely necessary to read the short story collection as book one and two will stand on their own as a series, but I believe reading it in-between the two full length novels will make the overall series more enjoyable.

6. Which of your secondary characters is your favourite and why would your readers like them?

Wow! That’s like asking me which of my children I like the best. But I am partial to the two homicide detectives that made their first appearance in the second Tony Razzolito book, ‘Deadly Passion’. Detective John Cahill and Detective Lucy Havens are partners and have a great chemistry which has made their scenes very easy to write. The interaction between the two are reminiscent of the buddy cop relationships you see nowadays on TV or in the movies. I actually looked forward to writing the chapters where they appear. It also doesn’t hurt that Cahill and Tony rub each other the wrong way. The interaction between the two men is a constant dick measuring contest, which also makes for a fun writing experience.

I liked writing about Cahill and Havens so much that they will definitely be in future Razzman books. I’ve also been kicking around an idea for a storyline that will feature them in their own series.

7. How do you ensure your books are ready for release?

My first draft writing process is fairly slow. I’m not one that can just write quickly and leave all the editing for later. I have a bad habit of editing as I go along. But once I’ve got the first draft completed, it makes the rest of the process go by a bit faster. I then send it out to my four trusted beta readers. All four are on the lookout for different things, and they give me their input and make suggestions. I then send each one’s suggestions to another one of the four. This gives me a sort of cross-pollination effect. We keep the suggestions that we all agree on and throw out any where there is not a unanimous positive vibe. It’s kind of like pushing it all through a funnel with a strainer where it all goes in the top, and the good stuff comes out the bottom leaving all the crap behind.

8. What was the last book you read and what lasting message did it leave?

Lately, I’ve been reading nothing but indie books. Most of them have left a lasting message or impression on me, mainly because a book written by an indie author seems to have been crafted with more passion than most traditionally published books. They’re just good writing. I even made it the subject of a recent blogpost. I listed the last five books I’d read that left a lasting impression on me. In the interest of space, I will talk about one of them here and direct you and your readers to my blog to read what I would consider the true answer to this question. And since you are conducting this interview, I’m happy to say that your book, ‘Broken Pieces of Tomorrow’ was the first book I mentioned in that blogpost. Your book left an impression on me for a couple of reasons. It was obviously very personal to you, which made it more than just a woman’s coming of age story. It was based on your coming of age story, and that made it special for your readers. I really could feel that you put your heart and soul into writing it. The message for me was that no matter what life throws at you, we all have the inner strength to persevere and have a successful outcome. It might not be the outcome we originally envisioned, but the path we all walk on has many twists and turns on it and quite often that path divides into two distinctly different directions—one that may be familiar yet destructive, and one that is unproven… unknown. Having the courage to choose the unfamiliar, taking you in that unknown direction can be scary. But if we believe in ourselves, we can and will find a satisfying life… and maybe even happiness. Anyway, that was the lasting message I took from your book.

9. Is there any aspect of the writer’s life you least enjoy? Why?

You probably hear this quite often, but the promoting or advertising part is my least favorite part of the writer’s life. I know it is very necessary if I want to sell any books, but it’s a whole separate profession in and of itself.

Trying to balance a regular day job along with fitting in time to write, leaves nothing left to devote to promotion. So I have to carve a chunk out of my writing time just to promote and advertise my work. I’m getting better at fitting it all in, but I’d rather just create the work and leave the selling to someone else. But such is the life of an indie author.

10. If you were able to meet any author, alive or dead, who would you choose and why?

Hmm, well it would have to be Robert B. Parker. He was undoubtedly the biggest influence on why I write PI Detective novels. I discovered his Spenser, PI series during a dark time in my life. I was going through some serious marital difficulties, and reading was what kept my mind occupied during that period. I picked up “Promised Land’, the fourth book in the series, on a whim. This was in the late ‘80s. The book was originally published in 1976. I loved it and went back to the first in the series and read the entire series in order up to that point, which was something like fifteen books. He wrote thirty-nine Spenser novels before he passed in 2010. When I decided that I wanted to write, I reread all of his books, and studied his style of writing. He was a mentor to me even though he obviously never knew that. I would like to meet him so that I could simply thank him

       11. Are you a planner or a pantser?

Total pantser! The only real planning I do is jotting a few notes at the bottom of the WIP word doc so that I can refer to them as I go along. But most of the time, the notes become obsolete since I really allow the characters to write the story. Although it can be a little bit of a pain when the characters take a left turn in the story’s direction that I didn’t see coming. That usually requires that I have to go back somewhere earlier in the text to insert a clue or add a passage so that the left turn makes sense. I never wait for a revision to change or add what’s needed when that happens for fear that I’ll forget or miss it later. It’s worked for me so far, so I don’t see myself changing the way I do things anytime soon.

       12. What’s on your current to-do list?

Well, right now, it’s finishing up ‘Dirty Air’. Life pretty much got in the way these past few months, putting me behind schedule. The good thing? It’s my own self-imposed deadline, so I have the luxury of re-evaluating and changing my release dates… within reason. I certainly don’t want to put it off too far from my original date. Readers have short memories, even if they like your work. If they come back for more, and there’s nothing next for them to go to, they move on and maybe never return.

Like I mentioned earlier – I’m also writing a story to be included in a short story anthology coming out next year.

If you would like to connect with Joe or buy any of his books then please follow him on any of the links listed below. Thank you for joining us and I hope to see you again soon!

In the meantime, Happy Reading, Happy Writing, Happy You.

Lots of love, Soulla x 


Twitter: @JoeCongelAuthor





Amazon link to books:

The breeze it blows

My hair around my face

Curls tangled and knotted

Like our feelings confused and

Mixed up like morning’s half-awake mess

My face wet from the cold rain

Summer evading time and space

We walk, you limp, I slow my pace

But wonder whether your love will wait

As my heart threatens to run away


Tall buildings and beautiful architecture

You recall tales of times gone by

Stories I listen to intently

Yet know they will later pass me by

Your voice, a twangy soft tone

Gentleness true, like cotton wool balls

Clouds drifting aimlessly

Nothing threatened yet all anew

My mind is muddled, befuddled

My heartbeat a sonnet, a song


Coming from it the most beautiful sound

As I watch in wonder at your realness aground

The rain keeps coming

You reach out and take my hand

Our fingers touch, electricity bolts

Through my body a thousand volts

I pull away knowing it’s too much

How can I bear the lovingness of such?

When you’re so close now, closer than ever


A force from you comes shining through

A bright lightning strike

A thunderclap of rolling thunder

A message delivered by the universe

Like gravity it pulls and tugs

As if from God in the heavens above

Looking down and the message is clear

The words saying don’t give up

Don’t move from each other away

You can stay together…for another day.

Thank you for reading my poetry and for visiting my website. If there’s anything I can help you with please comment below or fill out my contact form. 

And if you’d like to read some more of my poetry I have a collection of 30 poems in my book Sunshine after Rain.


This is one of my poems which was published on – where words matter – on May 19th, 2018. It’s about that little word love which has the power to build us up, knock us down, have us sitting up in the clouds, or mooching around in our jim-jams all day unable to do anything!

I hope you enjoy it! 


Careless carefree love

Rose tinted giggles, memories

Discarded clothes

Tangled lace panties,

shocking pink bra

Your passion takes me

A surprise hot flame

Which wanton

Lays me bare

Flowing and perfum’d

Bed covers strewn

Pillows crumpled

Jealous love ravaging

Winking at me with burning intensity

Holding me hard, breathless


First disbelief

Heaven on earth is this

My balance evaporates

As I lay vulnerable, open

Your wild hunger grabs all of me


Your conviction wanting

Love, master over my secret

Trustless longing over and over

As gazing forth, our bodies on fire

You’re inside melting me.

Thank you for joining me this week and if you’d like to read some more of my poetry my collection of 30 poems, Sunshine after Rain, is available as an ebook on Amazon. 

Until next time, enjoy the loving! 

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