Saturday, May 30, 2015


Today I have the pleasure of hosting Nick Wilford (Scattergun Scribblings) on his blog tour announcing the sale of his short story anthology A CHANGE OF MIND and other stories. Please give Nick a warm welcome as he answers some interesting questions about himself, the anthology, and his upcoming projects.

Nick Wilford is a writer and stay-at-home dad. Once a journalist, he now makes use of those rare times when the house is quiet to explore the realms of fiction, with a little freelance editing and formatting thrown in. When not working he can usually be found spending time with his family or cleaning something. He has four short stories published in Writer’s Muse magazine. Nick is also the editor of Overcoming Adversity: An Anthology for Andrew. 

Visit him at his blog or connect with him on Twitter or Goodreads.

What influenced you to write speculative fiction stories? How did you come up with the title of the anthology.
I started out writing stories which were quite straightforward and rooted in reality – my first novel was a thriller. Then I wrote a book about a man who had lost his memory and nothing is certain in his life, including his partner. That took on a more speculative edge. I guess I started wondering about things that go beyond what we can physically see around us, and that’s the direction I’ve been going down since then. It could be sci-fi, fantasy or dystopian, but “speculative” encapsulates all these genres.
The title comes from the novella in the collection, and honestly, I have a really hard time coming up with them! Once I came up with this title, I hung onto it. It didn’t have a working title before that. It sounds fairly innocuous but takes on an extra meaning once you know the premise of the story.

Do you write novels as well as short stories?
Yes, I have written four novels and two novellas at this point. I think some people find short stories more of a challenge, but to me they are much more manageable. I’m still working on getting that longer form nailed down, but we will always keep learning for the entirety of our writing journeys.

Are any of the stories published elsewhere? Have you considered traditionally publishing your works; or trying to publish in Scotland?
Yes, four of the accompanying stories have been published in Writer’s Muse, a British magazine that is now sadly defunct. The editor, Jim Butcher, was highly encouraging and supportive when I was only a fledgling writer. I have submitted queries to agents before, but I decided I could have much more control if I published myself. I haven’t ruled out traditional publishing, though. Those novels I was submitting are far from my strongest work. As to publishing in Scotland, it might work if my writing was more naturally Scottish. I still feel like a newcomer here, although I have been here since 2003, and only my first novel has actually been set in Scotland. My wife told me I had a lot of work to do to get the accents and phrasing right!

Do you have a favorite story from the collection?
I would say A Change of Mind, because it forms the centrepiece of the collection, it’s the story I worked the hardest on, and it’s an idea that I’m proud of bringing to fruition.

Is there a particular theme that runs through the collection? An overall larger plot or concept that the placement of each story progresses?
I don’t think there’s an overarching plot, but the characters in each story are driven by something – some ambition or desire that leads them into some pretty extreme behaviour, and the stories examine the consequences of that. Is it all worth it?

What is next in your writing career?
Drafting the final part of my YA dystopian trilogy, completing editing on the first two books and prequel novella, and preparing Book 1 for release in the early part of 2016.

Thanks for having me, Donna! I had a lot of fun answering your questions.

Title: A Change of Mind and Other Stories
Author: Nick Wilford
Genre: Speculative fiction
Format: Ebook only
Page/word count: 107 pages, approx. 32,000 words
Release date: 25th May 2015
Publisher: Superstar Peanut Publishing
A Change of Mind and Other Stories consists of a novella, four short stories and one flash fiction piece. This collection puts the extremes of human behaviour under the microscope with the help of lashings of dark humour, and includes four pieces previously published in Writer’s Muse magazine.  In A Change of Mind, Reuben is an office worker so meek and mild he puts up with daily bullying from his boorish male colleagues as if it’s just a normal part of his day. But when a stranger points him in the direction of a surgeon offering a revolutionary new procedure, he can’t pass up the chance to turn his life around.  But this isn’t your average surgeon. For a start, he operates alone in a small room above a mechanic’s. And he promises to alter his patients’ personality so they can be anything they want to be…  In Marissa, a man who is determined to find evidence of his girlfriend’s infidelity ends up wondering if he should have left well alone.  The Dog God finds a chink in the armour of a man with a megalomaniacal desire to take over the world.  In The Insomniac, a man who leads an obsessively regimented lifestyle on one hour’s sleep a night finds a disruption to his routine doesn’t work for him.  Hole In One sees a dedicated golfer achieving a lifelong ambition.  The Loner ends the collection on a note of hope as two family members try to rebuild their lives after they are torn apart by jealousy.

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Monday, May 25, 2015


Hosted by Sarah Foster of The Faux Fountain Pen

The party is happening on Monday, May 25. You can bring your muse or one of your characters. On that day, answer the questions below on your blog.

1. Who is your muse (or character)? Tell us a little bit about him/her and why you brought them.
My muse is a Boggart.
"A boggart is an amortal shape-shifting non-being that takes on the form of the viewer's worst fear (in this case fear of .. . Muggles (and this writer) can sometimes see Boggarts, but rarely see them plainly and are often easily convinced that they are a figment of their imagination.. . In Celtic mythology, a boggart (or bogart, bogan, bogle or boggle) is a household spirit, sometimes mischievous, sometimes helpful."
I'm not sure if my Muse is male or female or some kind of Daemon. Shows up when least expected, sometimes drunk, sometimes in a nasty mood, or so silly I can't stand to write that stream of consciousness. But when Muse wants to work, she can be witty, dramatic, sexy; or he can be insightful, sensitive, or devious. Muse changes with the characters Muse wishes to inspire into creation.

2. What are you guys wearing? Dressing up or keeping it casual?
We always keep it casual and comfortable. Jeans, t-shirt and tennis shoes. Yes, we can line dance and two step in sneakers, but the boot stomping just isn't as satisfying without the cowboy boots.

3. It's a potluck! Did you bring something yummy?
Devil'd eggs and/or potato salad. I make an awesome rainbow cake (jello cake), not at all stingy on the whipped cream, and if we add vodka to the mix it might even be better. Shall we try it?

4. Open bar! What are you both drinking (booze or otherwise)?
I'm a wino, Muse will drink anything if its free. We both agree on Strawberry Daiquiri and Sloe Comfortable Screw against the wall.

5. Wallflowers or social butterflies?
Depends on the crowd. If we go with a group, know enough people, we can flit around for a bit. But we're not good at taking the initiative in a crowd, especially if there are a lot of strangers.

6. What song(s) will you and your muse sing for karaoke?
Bette Midler's THE ROSE and Kentucky Headhunters OH! LONESOME ME

7. What's your favorite party game?
Hmm, been a long time since we played party games. Don't remember any. Will there be dancing involved?

8. Which one of you is more likely to end up dancing on a table top?
My Muse, of course! He's invisible when she wants to be, and always full of mischief. Besides, I have this fear of falling - won't even wear heels.

9. Has your muse been a good date and would you ever hang out with them again?
Capricious as Muse has been, s/he is always welcome, even when inconvenient. Nobody else is willing to listen to my crazy ideas and somehow make them sound sensible.

Monday, May 18, 2015


Is this cool or what!! Alex J Cavanaugh and Heather Gardner are hosting the BLOOD, BOOBS AND CARNAGE blogfest today. Here’s the details, short and simple:

On May 18, 2015, post about a movie, television show, book, or all three that falls into the category of Blood, Boobs, and Carnage. (Or just Blood and Carnage or other mixture.) It can be any genre that fits the bill – fantasy, science fiction, action, adventure, western, thriller, etc. Post the badge and visit other participants.

Just one huh? Pshaw, that's about impossible.
(WARNING: I realize my interpretation of this blogfest may be more graphic than our hosts intended, so don't click on any videos if you are used to blood and carnage in narrative as opposed to descriptive. Many popular sci-fi's, dystopia's and gaming imply carnage through bombings and news reports of mass death without showing the blood and devastation.)

I've read many books that fall under the category of BLOOD, BOOBS and CARNAGE (BBC); well, blood and carnage mainly. The Road, The Things They Carried, Helter Skelter, The Sword of Truth series, Charlaine Harris' Dead And . . series (True Blood). The effects of gore and a well endowed naked woman lose the effects on the written page. I am currently satisfying my BBC needs by both watching and reading George RR Martin's Game of Thrones Series. I am on book one, and am almost disappointed in the lack of sexual details and foul language in the books compared to the explicit viewing of the HBO series. Almost. I am hilariously disappointed that the HBO series can't seem to find a whore bigger than a B-cup for their nude scenes however.

But of course the boobs of this segment don't necessarily have to be bared and nude to be present amongst the blood and carnage.

With few exceptions, no self respecting heroine (or devious fem-fetal/spy), from the colonial era Anna Strong (Turn, Washington's Spies), to kick-butt urban fantasy, to modern dystopias,

would even contemplate a fight of any sort in a garment that doesn't display their boobs (well endowed or flat chested).

Still, in books or video, I like sex and violence in a story the same way I like romance and humor: as a well integrated part of the story, not as the entire focus. It might surprise you to learn that I'm an avid fan of the TV series The Walking Dead and Vikings, and can't imagine them keeping my interest without killing SOMETHING (and making a bloody mess of it) in every episode; but I have no desire to watch any of the SAW movies, and wasn't impressed with 300.

However, what's a war without carnage, and I prefer to view the effects as opposed to read about them. Some of my favorite bloody movies are: The Patriot, Braveheart, Last of the Mohicians, The Gladiator, The Last Samurai . . well, you get the idea?

Truly though, the series that I think embodies the sentiment of Blood, Boobs and Carnage: Sons of Anarchy. The sex (not shown at all in the below clip) borders on gratuitous, but the show is so visceral that to close the door on that segment of the larger-than-life outlaw society would be an injustice (pun intended). Not to mention I'd get to see a whole lot less of Jax Teller (Charlie Hunan) and Nero Padilla (Jimmy Smits). Hubba, hubba, I'm all for man-boobs! But street/gang war is still war, and the mass executions are no less devastating, even when perpetrated one at a time. The biggest reason I'm drawn to this series though: it's a "real" depiction of modern societal issues, possibly right  here where I live. Over the fence, down the street, in that quiet looking neighborhood. Makes me appreciate my uneventful, average little life.

Hopefully the write up wasn't too graphic for ya'll; and for those brave enough to click on the vid's, I hope it was satisfying. Click here for the sign-up list and visit more BLOOD, BOOBS and CARNAGE blogfest participants.

See ya at your own sites.

Friday, May 15, 2015


I had drafted this for my 2014 end of year post, but of course I took a two month long holiday at that time. The sentiment of I HOPE YOU DANCE works as well for Mothers Day, however. This is one of my many favorite songs about relationships; a reflection, sort of, on who you were, and who you are now, and all the hopes for the future.

In an interview with Songwriter Universe magazine, one of the song writers (Tia Sillers and Mark Sanders) says:
she was going through a painful divorce when she wrote this song. Said Sillers: "For 'I Hope You Dance,' I had written the opening line, 'I hope you never lose your sense of wonder. I had just broken up with someone, going through a brutal divorce. I needed to get away, so I went to a beach on the Florida Gulf Coast. Sitting on the beach and reflecting about the breakup, I felt so small and inconsequential. But out of this difficult time came the inspiration to write 'I Hope You Dance.' As I was leaving the beach, I remember thinking that things weren't really so bad, that I would get through it. That's when I came up with the line, 'I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean.'"

I have been married and divorced three times in my life. I've had countless jobs and life experiences; successes and defeats. Through it all, I've survived to be the person I am today, at this moment in my life. Sometimes I wish I had a time machine to go back and change some decisions at critical moments in my life; but then I wonder what I would have missed without this specific journey. I'm not sure I want to know. Fate is a fickle thing, and I take my blessings in my life where I can.

Below is my two Battle of the Bands video's. I've tried to make all things equal in this battle; the lyrics, the orchestra, the video content.Open your eyes (and your heart) as you watch the videos this time; I don't feel either video will sway your vote. The content is the same. The only difference I present is: male or female vocals. As authors, and human beings, I think the message - love, beauty, hope - bears repeating, and I could use some of this sentiment in my life right now.

I HOPE YOU DANCE is considered Lee Ann Womack's signature song, originally recorded in 2000 on an album title the same, and it reached number 14 on Bill Boards top 100. It won CMA and BMI awards for best song of the year in 2001. Wommack told The Today Show: "You can't hear those lyrics and not think about children and—and—and hope for the future and things you want for them. And those are the things I want for them in life." In another interview with Bill Board she states: "Certainly, it can represent everything a parent hopes for their child, but it can also be for a relationship that's ending as a fond wish for the other person's happiness or for someone graduating, having a baby, or embarking on a new path. It fits almost every circumstance I can think of." (Wiki source)

Irish singer/songwriter, former Boyzone lead singer Ronan Keating covered this song as a non-album charity single. I was unable to locate a link to the charity, or the release year, but the video below is dated 2004. Keating is well known for his charity work, mainly in the UK for the Marie Keating cancer foundation. And yes, I do believe Dad's can be as lovingly sentimental with their children and grandchildren as Mother's. I am sure Keating was thinking of his own mother's dreams for his future after her death from breast cancer.

 I hope you enjoyed the sentiment of this song, even if you don't enjoy the music genre. This time of year makes me sentimental; makes me wish everyone feels they have lived a full and happy life. Leave your vote in the comments. And if you can't decide; at least leave a comment that shows you understand the song, and perhaps how it has touched your own life.

And do visit the list at Stephen McCarthy's Battle of the Bands Blog or Far Away Series for other BotB posts. Dance, and Live your life my friends, whatever that means to you.

Thanks for visiting today.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015


Sylvie Grayson has published romantic suspense novels: Suspended Animation, Legal Obstruction, and The Lies He Told Me; all about strong women who meet with dangerous odds, stories of tension and attraction. She has also written The Last War series, a romantic fantasy set to be released in 2015.

She has been an English language instructor, a nightclub manager, an auto shop bookkeeper and a lawyer. She lives in southern British Columbia with her husband on a small piece of land near the Pacific Ocean that they call home, when she's not travelling the world looking for adventure.

For more information on Sylvie and her other books, visit her about me and books tabs at her official website.

Where are you from, Sylvie?
I was born in Victoria, British Columbia and moved around the province quite a bit, from the North Peace River, to the Kootenays and back. I've returned home and live near Victoria now, and love it here.

Tell us a little about yourself?
I'm a wife, mother and grandmother. I travelled a bit, spent a year in Japan, then returned to University for a degree in sociology and one in law. I have had a lot of different jobs, but have been self-employed most of the time. I ran nightclubs, worked in an autobody shop, for large stores and for government. I practiced as a lawyer and a consultant.

Every one of those jobs taught me something. The people I met enriched my life and added to my knowledge. When I write, I draw on all that and find myself putting it to good use in my characters and their stories.

When did you decide you were a writer?
I have written for about ten years, but always worked as well. It was when I cut back to part time work that I had the leisure to look at publishing. Then I needed to learn more about the industry. I joined RWA, and the local group. I formed a critique group and that helped tremendously. Everyone has been so generous with sharing their expertise and knowledge.

Tell us your latest news?
My book The Lies He Told Me is my third and was released in February of 2015. And I have a new series, The Last War, that will be released soon. I am waiting for covers! I'm very excited about it, they are more sci-fi/fantasy which is an entirely new genre for me. But I loved the freedom of writing where I could make it up, create whatever world I felt like. It was great.

Who designed the covers for you books?
Steven Novak designed them. He's wonderful to work with and very creative and patient. I couldn't ask for a better designer. He can be reached at

To learn more visit Sylvie's website at and you can find her on facebook.

The Blurb: Romantic suspense
When Chloe Bowman woke to find her husband gone, never did she imagine it would take so long to find him, or that in the midst of the search she'd discover she didn't really know this man at all. She soon realizes she has been left alone with her young son and a time bomb on her hands. Then the earthquake throws everything into question. Lurking in the shadows is the mysterious Rainman who travels under an unknown name.

Police Detective Ross Cullen was already investigating Chloe's husband when he disappeared. Although he's powerfully drawn to Chloe, Ross also knows that when one member of a family disappears, the first place to look for the suspect is among those closest to him. No one is closer than Chloe.

But the deeper Ross digs the less he knows, and the more he's attracted to the young wife as she struggles to put her life back together. Can Ross break through the Rainman's disguises to solve the case so he can be with Chloe?

    Ross Cullen shifted on the seat of his truck and cranked his neck sideways to snap the stiffness out of it. Surveillance duty was hard. He was staff sergeant now and had become detective a year ago. He didn’t have to do a lot of the grunt work anymore. But he’d wanted this case. He’d already had Jeff Sanderson in his sights.
   When a few months later the Missing Persons Notice crossed his desk, it all seemed too convenient. After the husband disappeared, the house got finished, the lawn went in. The property taxes were paid. He’d checked. How did the wife Chloe have the money to do all that if the husband had taken off leaving her high and dry? He didn’t buy it.
   Today was his day off and he didn’t have to be here. But now and then he came over and parked, keeping an eye on the yard. Dan might be right, he had too much time on his hands. Dan Parker was the Constable who’d drawn surveillance duty on the wife right after she laid her Missing Persons information. He had lots to say about her. He certainly couldn’t fall asleep with this kind of duty, he reported.
    Ross had thought Dan was joking, but from where he sat Ms. Bowman was wearing a tight camisole and not much else. Well, maybe a pair of shorts if he looked hard and squinted his eyes. Good God, didn’t she have neighbours? He panned the area with his binoculars. No one could look into her yard, she had a lot of privacy.
    He’d seen the tapes of Chloe’s first interview at the station. After she filed the report about her missing husband, she’d been asked to come in and answer some questions. Her brother John had come with her, but Chloe herself had been impressive. She was obviously shaken. She’d looked tenuous but dogged as she recounted everything she claimed she knew about her husband’s last days in Victoria. Her husband was gone, his laptop, his cell phone, his dog and car were gone. She answered the same questions over and over as they were put to her different ways, until she sagged back in her chair in exhaustion.
    “Well,” she said. “I’ve had enough. If there’s anything else you want to ask that might help find my husband, then please ask now. Otherwise I’m going home.”
    She stood, looking down at the officer who sat with his finger midway down the page and a surprised look on his face. “You may have more to say but I’m through. Now you’ve had my cooperation and I want yours. Find my husband. Quit dragging your feet, quit pretending he ran off and find him!”
    She turned her back and headed toward the exit, followed closely by her brother. The officer at the door looked past her to see what his instructions were, then opened the door and escorted them out. It was Ross’s opinion that Chloe and her brother John were cut from the same cloth. Chloe was just younger and hid her steel under her feminine nature. But she was just as tough in her own way and just as determined.
    And beautiful. He’d been fascinated by her dark glossy curls and fair skin, the large liquid eyes. He’d watched the recording of the interview more than once and it irked him to know that it was as much to look at her as to analyze the information.
    He watched from his truck now as Chloe called across the yard to her little white dog and leaned down to ruffle his ears. Ross slowly panned the binoculars over her form, feeling his temperature rise. Maybe this kind of surveillance wasn’t healthy. He might get a fever just watching her.

Review of The Lies He Told Me, by Sylvie Grayson
Review title: A heartwarming narrative

The plot concept of The Lies He Told Me was intriguing and well developed. Chloe Bowman’s husband mysteriously disappeared six months earlier, and she is well on her way to putting her life together. She has finally made the decision to take over all her missing husband’s business affairs, and navigates the court systems, uncooperative lawyers, corporate heads, and established tenants with focused efficiency.  While managing all the legalities, she runs ads for boarders in her recently finished home, conducts the interviews, cooks, cleans and looks after the boarders, and her four year old son.

Chloe is an emotionally strong, business savvy, feminine character, who has an ability to always look for the good in people and events. She is surrounded by the loving support and confidence of her family and friends, and is able to garner many heartwarming moments with her son, dogs, family members, boarders and friends. It is no wonder the handsome Sergeant Detective Ross Cullen, who heads the investigation into her husband’s disappearance, falls instantly and madly in love with her, and is willing to risk losing his job to be with her.

There are several mysteries to be resolved in this story: the sudden disappearance of her husband Jeffery, what his role is in the money laundering scheme, who is the mysterious Rainman and what is his connection to Jeffery’s business; and through it all, how the growing romance between the detective and his lead suspect is to be maintained during the investigation, and what will happen to their love once her husband is found.

If you are a fan of the heartwarming craftiness and domesticity of a Debbie McComber romance, and the intense intrigues of Danielle Steele, you’ll enjoy the writing style of Sylvie Grayson; where the bad guys are not heartless, and the good guys are virtually flawless.

I was given a pdf version of this novel for free in exchange for an honest review. While I found the mystery concept intriguing, and the characters and contemporary world well rounded and fully developed, I did not easily connect with Chloe’s character through much of the story. The author narrates extensively in a stream of consciousness, nearly omniscient third person point of view; and includes unnecessary details in setting descriptions, recipes, craft creations, and intimate details of every character and event, no matter how minor the role. There are three main perspective characters in the novel, and the story is consistently repeated through each character. Several times the author summarizes all the events of the investigation, giving a laundry list of involved people, events and outcomes.

I am giving this novel a 3 star rating based on my pdf reading experience. Many of the editing errors I discovered and heavy use of pronouns that so distracted me from the story may have been corrected in the Kindle or print book formats. However, it was the stream of consciousness narrative and repetitious story telling that mostly affected my rating.

Purchase at: Amazon

Wednesday, May 6, 2015


Its that time again.  The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time.

Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Alex's co-hosts this month are: Eva Solar, Melanie Schulz, Lisa Buie-Collard, and Stephen Tremp. Be sure to visit and thank them all for their support.

April flew by for me, and while I did not participate in the A-Z Challenge as many of my friends did, I was quite the busy bee off-line. The days here in NorCal have been beautifully warm and sunny, perfect for cleaning the winter (what winter?!?) sludge from the yard and house. Gads, I'm losing my pale complexion (as in: freckles are taking over, I don't really tan). I have so many outside projects I didn't think of blogging, or writing, and missed lots of deadlines for my critique group. Eeek, sorry CPs!

Luckily some much needed stormy weather rolled in during the last week and I remembered that some days I'm a writer, lol. I scheduled some blog posts, wrote a couple reviews, read some excerpts for the group, and opened a couple unfinished WIP for revision. Hopefully I won't slack off so much during May . . .

Now that everyone has survived the annual April Challenge, are you ready for some down-time off-line? Looking forward to home and yard projects as the days get warmer and longer? Unless you live down-under, and perhaps the days are getting shorter and colder. Opposites are fun too.

I am looking forward to hopping around the blogs and seeing what everyone is gearing up for during May.

Monday, May 4, 2015


Please welcome guest author Olga Godim, who's "novels and short stories are about magic, swords, and the wonderful folks of my imagination." Olga is here today discussing her love of fantasy and magic, and how her day dreams forged her into a successful author. After her post, stick around to read my review of her short story anthology SQUIRREL OF MAGIC.

Thank you, Donna, for inviting me to your blog. You asked me to talk about myself and my love affair with fantasy. Let’s start with the basics. I live in Vancouver, Canada, and work as a journalist for a local newspaper. My children are both adults and live by themselves.

I became a writer pretty late in life. By education, I’m a computer programmer. I worked with computers for over two decades. I’m also a daydreamer. Since I remember myself, I always made up stories and played them in my head, like a theatre for one, but I never told anyone about my daydreams. They were my secret. Frankly, I was a bit embarrassed to admit I liked daydreaming. Even my family didn’t know. I was a professional woman, a single mom with two children, and I dreamed of magic, swords, and adventures fit for fairy tales. It wouldn't do.

I never thought of myself as a writer either, never wrote anything down. No, that’s not exactly true. I thought about writing once before. When I was in grade one, I attempted to write a book. I drew a cover picture, something with a cosmonaut and a spaceship. It was horrible – I have no artistic talent whatsoever. I also made up the back cover, complete with a price. My mom was impressed. She kept that cover for years afterwards, but I soon got distracted by other projects and never wrote what should go between the covers – a story. It remains untold, fortunately for all.

In 2002, I got seriously ill. During my long recovery, I read a lot. I have always been an avid reader, and at that time, I wasn't strong enough to do much else. I read mostly fantasy novels, and although some of them were wonderful, many didn’t impress me. I thought I could do better if only I could write my own daydreams as stories. And then I thought: why not? Maybe I could.

At the same time, my daydreams became more persistent. They swarmed me, they wanted to be told. So I decided to be brave, stop resisting, and let my daydreams out. In February 2003, as soon as I went back to work, I bought a laptop from my first paycheck and started writing a story, the first writing I did since high school. I didn’t know if it was a short story or a novel. I didn’t know anything about writing or publishing. I just wanted to write.

Of course, I needed to learn a lot to get from that naïve, ignorant beginning to now, but the journey has been fascinating.

Why fantasy? I’m not sure. I've always liked fantasy, liked magic, princesses, and knights. I didn’t like reality. People who read my blog know that I’m bilingual – English and Russian. I grew up in Russia. Reality wasn't too nice there, and I didn’t like Soviet literature at all, with very few exceptions. It was too dreary, like life around me.

I wanted an escape, but fantasy as a literary genre didn’t exist in Russia. It wasn't political enough, I guess, so neither translations nor original fantasy stories were ever published. I didn’t know the genre existed; never read Tolkien or any other fantasy classics. To satisfy my craving for fantasy in my youth, I read Russian translations of fairy tales, legends, myths, medieval romances – anything that had a ‘fantasy flavor.'

When we immigrated to Canada, I finally discovered fantasy. And I knew right away I found my dream-home. Since the first fantasy novel I read in Canada (and in my life) – Mercedes Lackey’s Magic Pawn – my daydreams have migrated to fantastic worlds and stayed there.

My first love, in reading as well as in writing, was high fantasy. I have two novels published in the
genre – Almost Adept and Eagle En Garde – and many more are still in my head or in the first draft stage on my computer. High fantasy allows me the escape I always wanted. That’s why I read it and that’s why I write it.

My fantasy heroes are free. There’s no passport control or DNA in the fantasy worlds I create, and magic is there, when you need it. You read my stories and you forget (I hope), if even for an hour, that your bills are overdue, that your boss is an asshole, that your mom is eighty, and you’re helplessly watching her slip away. If I can give you this tiny escape from your worries, then I've done my job as a writer.

Recently, Eagle En Garde won EPIC eBook Award in the Fantasy category, and I’m very proud of it.

Urban fantasy is a departure for me. I have written few stories in the genre of urban fantasy, and most of them are included in my story collection Squirrel of Magic. It started with a random fact I stumbled upon while surfing the internet: that it’s illegal to bring a squirrel to Canada as a pet. At least that’s what Customs Canada website said at the time. You could bring in a crocodile or a panther, but not a squirrel.

Of course, a contrary daydreamer that I am, I started thinking: what if I had magic? How would I smuggle a squirrel into modern Canada? And the characters of Squirrel of Magic were born. After the first story, I couldn't resist the charm of Darya and Beatrice. I wrote more stories about them, taking absurd situations and real dangers and mixing them with magic and humor. All the stories are set in Vancouver, my home city.

I've also written a number of stand-alone short stories in various genres: some fantasy, some science fiction, and a few magic realism stories. Over the years, they were published in numerous magazines. You can access them for free from my website.

My favorite social media haunts:
Website and blog   Twitter   BookLikes   Pinterest   Wattpad

Thank you Olga for guesting at my site today. It has been a pleasure to host you.

A bane of short story compilations (by various authors, or a single author) is the lack of reviews. Olga contacted me after reading one of my comments on a mutually followed blog post (sorry, I forget where) and asked if I would be willing to read her anthology and post a review. After much discussion (no guarantees of a favorable review) she sent me a Kindle copy. I loved the stories that followed the witch Darya and her squirrel familiar Beatrice on several stand alone adventures.

The Blurb:  After smuggling her familiar, squirrel Beatrice, to Canada, young witch Darya embarks on a series of adventures. Whenever Darya needs a supportive ear or a sharp setdown, Beatrice is there for her, loving and grumbling. Together they kick butt of the bad guys and always help friends in trouble.

Buy Squirrel of Magic:
Smashwords (epub, pdf, mobi)
Amazon (Kindle)

My Review:
I really enjoyed this collection of short stories. Author Olga Godim has done something rare in the genre of short stories: she has written a series of stand alone adventures, all involving Vancouver’s city-protector witch Darya and her unique familiar Beatrice the squirrel, yet strung them together with novel like potential. The opening story was well chosen to show off the intrinsic quirkiness of Darya and introduce the story of how Beatrice became her familiar.

The first story also set up the contemporary world of Vancouver, Canada as a living character with a story plot of its own. What I liked most about the setting in all the stories is that Darya and Beatrice interact with the city in such an overt manner. Naturally there are forms of magic and magical creatures that ordinary people cannot detect, but the story plots are careful to blend both worlds in a completely believable reality. The line up of the stories was well thought out, creating increasing tension and drama, exactly as a well plotted novel would achieve; forcing Darla to become more creative with her skills and increasing the stakes to both her rescued victims, and her own moral character.

Darya is obviously a good witch. She is talented, confident, has good moral character, a usually accepting disposition (non-judgmental), a quirky sense of humor, and she loves being a witch. She is neither ordinary (as a witch or human), nor does she stand out. She is comfortable with her solitary life, but is adequately sociable, and sometimes her values as a witch and woman conflict with her sense of moral justice. I loved the author’s use of the cozy mystery writing style, yet Darla herself has a subtle agelessness to her persona. Beatrice is just plain adorable; animated, snarkish, endearlingly loyal to Darya.

I was given this ebook collection for free in exchange for an honest review. It appealed to me as a short story reader, and also as a series book reader. Each stand alone story was thoroughly entertaining, good for a quick read as a break between daily tasks, or as a sit down, lazy afternoon relaxation. I give the collection, and the author, a well deserved 5 star rating.