Category Archives: Famous Five Plus

MY LIFE IN A NUTSHELL a novel – by Tanya J. Peterson

My Life in a NutshellBOOK BLURB

 My Life in a Nutshell: A Novel is the story of one man’s struggles with debilitating anxiety. Brian Cunningham has isolated himself to such a degree that his human contact is barely more than an hour a day. While lonely, he feels powerless to change his life. Unexpectedly, his safe little world is invaded by one Abigail Harris, a seven-year-old girl who, for the last five years, has bounced from foster home to foster home. She has come to live with an aunt and uncle she has never known. Unsure if she can trust her new environment, she turns to Brian. Neither one quite knows how to live in the world. Can they possibly help each other?


I had the opportunity to interview Tanya about this project and her writing in general. So, welcome to Celtic Connexions, shall we get down to it?

How long does it take you to get from the initial concept for a novel to the finished product?

For me, the process involves two main stages. The first is my main love, the creation of the story and the characters and the world. This is a fluid, circular process that involves research, brainstorming, outlining, and writing. I flow among these activities for approximately five or six months (depending on how many other things vie for my attention), and then, hooray, there’s a novel! At this point, I have a bit more left in the first stage. This is when I go back through from beginning to end and do edits (I edit throughout the process, of course). Next, it’s onto stage two. I send it to my editor, and once the two of us have exchanged the document back and forth and are satisfied, it goes on to Inkwater Press. It takes another couple months for it to be fully designed and formatted. Then, it enters the ARC (advance reading copy) stage and is sent out for early reviews. Once those are all in, it’s ready for release! Typically, the entire process takes about a year. That seems like a long time, but I grow so very close to my characters that I’m not ready to let them go soon, so I don’t mind. (Oh, I’m ready to let them go into the world, but I’m not ready to let them go to be replaced with a new set for a new novel.)

Do you see yourself as one of the characters in your books, or are they an amalgamation of a number of people you’ve met throughout your life?

I write realistic fiction, and I draw on things from the real world (including my own world); however, all of my characters are purely fictional. Their struggles are based on real-life struggles, but they’re their very own people.

What motivated you to begin writing?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved writing. I wasn’t always confident enough to do anything with it other than writing things for school, college and, later, graduate school. I’m also passionate about social justice, particularly around mental health/illness. I’ve worked as a teacher and a counselor, I have personal and professional experience with mental illness, I want to increase understanding and empathy, and of course I still have that love to write. I decided to be brave and combine them all into a writing career that includes writing novels that illustrate what it’s like to live with mental illness or to love someone with mental illness.

Most authors have difficulty coming up with titles for their work. Do you have the same problem?

Most definitely! I can write a nearly 400-page novel with ease, but I can neither summarize it or come up with a title! The title of my last novel (Leave of Absence) was developed with the help of my editor. She created a fantastic list of options, and I selected the final choice.) I’ll share the story of my current novel below!

How did you decide on the title for this book?

I actually came up with this one all by myself! I asked my editor for input if she didn’t like the title I used, but she had none. She approved of mine! As I was writing, I would think of the title here and there, while doing dishes or showering or other such things. Nothing really jumped out at me. One day when I was writing a scene in which Brian (the main character) was meeting with his new therapist, he was asked to describe his life in a nutshell. Bingo! That was it! That phrase is symbolic of a few different things (which become evident in the story), and I knew it was perfect. The story is told in the first person POV as Brian, thus the title My Life in a Nutshell: A Novel (The term “A Novel” was tacked on by the publisher just to make sure people didn’t think it was a memoir.)

Is your family supportive of your writing?

I’m very fortunate that yes, they are very supportive indeed. Both of my children are still at home, but at ages 17 and 12, they are definitely old enough to make this easier. If they were young, that would be a different story. My husband, too, is supportive of my doing this. Trying to make a career of writing is a huge risk, and I feel quite anxious about it often. But I believe in my “cause,” and my family does, too, so that’s really helpful and quite encouraging.

Thanks for stopping by today, Tanya. I know you’re busy what with the promo party over on Facebook and all. Good luck with your novel. It sounds like a fascinating read.

Thank you, Melanie, for taking the time to “chat” with me. Thanks to you and your readers for wanting to get to know a little bit about me!





Barnes & Noble


My Life in a NutshellAbout the Author:

Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC
Mental Health Novelist, Writer, & Speaker

Tanya J. Peterson holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education, Master of Science in counseling, and is a Nationally Certified Counselor. She has been a teacher and a counselor in various settings, including a traditional high school and an alternative school for homeless and runaway adolescents, and she has volunteered her services in both schools and communities. Peterson is an active volunteer with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), and she is a regular columnist for the Anxiety-Schmanxiety blog on

She draws on her education, experience, and personal background with bipolar 1 disorder and anxiety to write stories about the psychological aspect of the human condition, specifically mental illness and the impact it has on human beings. Her goal is to change the way the world thinks about mental illness and the people who live with it.

Peterson believes that fiction is a powerful vehicle for teaching fact. Further, she knows that people empathize with characters in novels, and commonly they transfer their empathy to real-life human beings. To that end, she has published Leave of AbsenceMy Life in a Nutshell, and the YA novel Losing Elizabeth.  Additionally, she has published Challenge!, a short story about a person who finds the confidence to overcome criticism and achieve a goal, and a book review of Linley and Joseph’s Positive Therapy: A Meta-Theory for Positive Psychological Practice that appeared in Counseling Today, the national publication of the American Counseling Association.

Peterson has also been interviewed on numerous radio shows, given presentations on mental illness and book readings nationwide, spoken on mental illness at the 2013 national conference of the Mothers of Incarcerated Sons Society, Inc., and has been quoted in various articles about mental health and mental illness.

You can follow Tanya at:


Twitter –


Wasn’t that a party?


My online party celebrating A SHADOW IN THE PAST was a huge success. There was virtual food, fun and music.

blog party buttonThings were hopping on a couple of other locations, too. In conjunction with my party here, I celebrated on Facebook, Loveahappyending Lifestyle magazine, Brook Cottage Books, and found the time to do a Quickie Paranormal Interview on fellow 4RV Publishing author, Susan Meyers’ blog, I Spy Something Wicked.


Book swag packs

a shadow in the past ebook postcard fronta shadow in the past postcard backa shadow in the past postcard fronta shadow in the past postcard backa shadow in the past bookmarkOriginally, my plan was to only giveaway two but things changed because of the huge response to the party’s theme “if you could travel back in time, which era would you most like to visit?”

When I got to 100 party peeps over on Facebook, I put their names in a hat and had hubby draw a winner from there. That lucky person was

Laura Williams

 Random winners of book swag packs (chosen by my husband – Mr MR-K) from those who left comments here on the party day post are:

Ali Bacon

JB Johnston

Marie Macpherson

Linn B Halton

Gina Dickerson

And the one lucky winner of the 2014 A Shadow in the Past wall calendar (drawn at random by my grandson) was

a shadow in the past 2014 calendarDorothy Bush!

I would have left the giveaway open longer but as I’m off on holiday at the end of this week, it would be the end of the month or even into September before the winners were announced and prizes mailed out.

And I’ll close out this post with this little video (apologies for the advert at the beginning).

e-book launch party + giveaway for A SHADOW IN THE PAST

Welcome to the e-book Launch Party for A SHADOW IN THE PAST + GIVEAWAY

blog party button

The big day is finally here! I’m so excited. Today, I’m hosting the e-book launch party for my debut novel, A Shadow in the Past. I know I’ve been urging you not to download my novel and there’s been a really good reason behind this. If everyone waits until launch day – today – then my book will soar up the ratings at amazon, especially if everyone buys the kindle version… hint, hint… The Classic Wink Smiley



ebook cover on readerWhen a contemporary teen is transported back through time to the Victorian era, she becomes A Shadow in the Past…

Nineteen-year-old Sarah Shand finds herself thrust back into the past. There she struggles to keep her real identity from a society that finds her comments and ideas strange and her speech and actions forward, unlike Victorian women. When Sarah verbally confronts confining social practices, including arranged marriages; powerful enemies commit her to a lunatic asylum. After falling in love with the handsome Laird of Weetshill, Robert Robertson, she must decide whether to find her way back to her own time or to remain in the past with him.

confetti burstNow that you know what the book is about – let’s PARTY!

Since A Shadow in the Past takes place in Scotland, I thought we’d start out with some Scottish music to get things started.

How about a little Old Blind Dogs to start things off with their song Bennachie.

The hill of Bennachie is in Aberdeenshire and not all that far from the fictitional village of Kendonald where A Shadow of the Past takes place.

I suppose you’re starting to get hungry. I know it’s not Scottish fayre, but let’s order in pizza. I know not everyone likes the same toppings, so you can all choose your own by clicking on this link.

While we’re waiting for our pizzas to arrive, I’ll put on some more music. Runrig is another one of my favourite Scottish bands, and when I’m listening to CDs when I’m driving, I love to crank the volume up for this song – Alba.

Pizza’s here! Too bad real delivery wasn’t this fast. I’ll just fetch us some bubbly that I’ve had chilling to celebrate with.


champagne flutes

While we’re recharging our batteries with a bite to eat and a glass or two of bubbly, I’ll pop on 500 Miles by the Proclaimers. Every time I hear this song, I think of the movie Benny and Joon.

Anyone for dessert? It’s a hot day so I thought ice cream would be fitting. I’ve got it and frozen yogurt in case you prefer that along with waffle and sugar cones, dishes, and loads of toppings. I’ll set everything out on the kitchen island and we can make our own – sundaes or cones!

As my e-book launch party winds down, I must give you the most important links of all – the where to buy links! logo logo


You could win one of two A Shadow in the Past swag packs.

a shadow in the past postcard fronta shadow in the past postcard backa shadow in the past ebook postcard fronta shadow in the past postcard backa shadow in the past bookmarkor

 A Shadow in the Past 2014 wall calendar with photographs taken by me depicting the area(s) where the book was set.

a shadow in the past 2014 calendarTo enter the draw, leave your answer to this question “If you could go back in time, what era would you like visit?” in the comments. A winner will be chosen randomly.

Good luck!

I hoped you enjoyed my launch party today but even more importantly, I hope you enjoy reading A Shadow in the Past as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Book Review: Missing Believed Dead by Chris Longmuir

Book Review

To celebrate Chris Longmuir’s paperback launch of MISSING BELIEVED DEAD at Waterstones, Dundee, I’m posting my book review of this latest book in her Dundee Crime Series here today.



Missing children! Internet predators! Dead bodies!

She crossed his arms over his chest, and placed the jade beads in his eyes. ‘To remind you of me,’ she said.

Jade was 13 when she disappeared, five years ago, and DS Bill Murphy suspects someone from her family is responsible for recent Dundee murders. But is it her mother, Diane, who now suffers from OCD? Or Emma, her twin sister, who was catatonic for a year after Jade’s disappearance. Or Jade’s brother, Ryan, who enjoys dressing in women’s clothes and is going through a sexuality crisis, unsure whether or not he is gay.

What happened to Jade? Is she alive or dead? Or has she returned to wreak a terrible revenge on all male predators?

My Review

Thrilling read that kept me turning the pages!

Chris Longmuir has done it again. In this chapter of her Dundee Crime Series, we travel into the seedy world of Internet predators. DS Bill Murphy has to solve the case of missing girls who have disappeared after being on Internet chat rooms. Will he find them in time? Or are they already dead? In true Longmuir fashion, you never really know who the suspect is and just when you think you’ve figured it out, she twists the plot yet again leaving you with that ‘I was so sure I had it’ feeling.

Missing Believed Dead is a must read for anyone who likes dark, gritty crime.

Author Bio

Chris LongmuirChris Longmuir was born in Wiltshire and now lives in Angus. Her family moved to Scotland when she was two. After leaving school at fifteen, Chris worked in shops, offices, mills and factories, and was a bus conductor for a spell, before working as a social worker for Angus Council (latterly serving as Assistant Principal Officer for Adoption and Fostering).

Chris is an award winning novelist and has published three novels in her Dundee Crime Series. Night Watcher, the first book in the series, won the Scottish Association of Writers’ Pitlochry Award, and the sequel, Dead Wood, won the Dundee International Book Prize, as well as the Pitlochry Award. Missing Believed Dead is the third book in the series.

Her crime novels are set in Dundee, Scotland, and have been described as scary, atmospheric, page turners. Chris also writes historical sagas, short stories and historical articles which have been published in America and Britain. Writing is like an addiction to me, Chris says, I go into withdrawals without it. She is currently working on a further 2 crime novels.

Chris is a member of the Society of Authors, the Crime Writers Association and the Scottish Association of Writers. She designed her own website and confesses to being a techno-geek who builds computers in her spare time.



Blog: Chris Longmuir, Crime Writer

Amazon Author Page: Amazon author page UK

Amazon Author Page: Amazon author page US


Riddles… the big reveal is today.

Riddles… the big reveal is today

Was this one of those riddles that has driven you mad trying to come up with solution? Or are you a riddles aficionado  and able to figure it out right away?

Are you ready for the solution? I’ll go over the clues one last time.

 Clue #1

James Allan [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

The building pictured above is the Rannes Hall in Kennethmont, Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

Clue #2

a shadow in the past cover 500x773of course you recognize my book cover…

and finally…

Clue #3

Aug 2013 calendar page

Take a really close look at the heading on the calendar page… August 2013. It’s in the future. It’s not here yet. Okay, my book is a time-travel but that’s not it.

So without any further ado, may I have a drum roll, please…


Are you ready for the answer? Should I make you stew any longer? No. I won’t do that. I couldn’t be that mean to my loyal blog followers.

I will be in Scotland in August 2013 and on the 17th, I’ll be hosting a book launch for A Shadow in the Past at the Rannes Hall in Kennethmont!

Isn’t that brilliant? I can hardly wait for my feet to touch good old Scottish terra firma. It’s been way too long since I was last there.

Author Interviews – Next Up Lizzie Lamb author of Tall, Dark and Kilted

Today, I’m thrilled to host in my Author Interviews Scottish native but now English resident, Lizzie Lamb.

Freighter passing by the Three Sisters Islands in the St Lawrence River

Normally, I conduct these interviews in my cozy lounge here at Celtic Connexions, but today, since today is too nice to be stuck indoors, I thought sitting by the river on a bench at Blockhouse Island looking over this beautiful part of eastern Ontario and New York State was more suitable. And look! We’ve been lucky enough to see a freighter coming up river.

After a slight diversion and the tea and biscuits I’ve brought along with us, it’s down to the business at hand.

BookCoverPreview-2-001 I love the title of your book – Tall, Dark & Kilted. How did you come up with it?

It was a bit of a fluke really. I had a one to one with an editor at the Romantic Novelists’ Association Convention a year ago where she read three chapters and the synopsis of the novel – which was then called BIG BAD WOLF. Her feedback suggested that the title told the reader nothing about the setting or what the novel was about. Furthermore, she said that most readers took between 3-5 SECONDS to decide if they wanted to buy a book without moving on. I thought about calling the novel HIGHLAND FLING but there were already about two dozen novels of that name. Off the top of my head I suggested Tall, Dark and Kilted and she LOVED it. The name stuck and I’m glad I changed it.

Your book is set in the Scottish highlands. What made you decide that part of Scotland? Is there a specific area that readers will recognize even if it goes under a fictitious name?

A Scot by birth and heritage, I’ve loved the west coast of Scotland ever since I can remember and have spent many holidays there. The scenery, the history and the fact that the Gulf Stream touches its shores and palm trees and other tropical plants thrive in the shadow of snow topped mountains has a real resonance for me. I also adored Monarch of the Glen (the TV series) although that was filmed elsewhere and the movie Local Hero (filmed in Pennan). Kinloch Mara is an amalgam of lots of the places I’ve visited but Port Urquhart was based on the towns of Oban and Portree.

I love the TV series Monarch of the Glen and the movie Local Hero. The first time I saw palm trees in Scotland was when I visited Finlaystone Estate at Langbank. The next time was when I was in Plockton. I’ve never been to Oban or Portree but hope to rectify that very soon.

You have a rather catchy tagline for your novel. Would you share it with us?


I chose that tagline because I thought that non-UK readers would have seen the movie and/or watched the TV series and they would understand what my rom com was about.

You recently took part in a “literary lunch” with another author. Enquiring minds need to know… was this something you both organized or did the venue do it and invite you? Would you deem the event a success?

The event came about because Adrienne (one of The New Romantics 4 – our indie group) is managing director of her own PR company. She was having lunch with the owner/manager of the hotel and he was looking for a range of events to draw customers into the hotel. As the Leicester Book Fest was looming on the horizon, Adrienne suggested a literary lunch and he jumped at the idea. Adrienne asked me to join her as I am used to public speaking and am confident when talking about my path to publication and Tall, Dark and Kilted to potential readers. The lunch was a great success and we hope to host another event there in the run up to Christmas/ Valentine’s Day.

You can read more about the event and see photographs of it on our blog

When you’re not writing, what do you like to do?

To be honest I seem to have so little time when I’m not writing in one form or another!

I like to visit friends, have them for dinner or afternoon tea and meet up with girlfriends in coffee shops. I try to read as much and as widely as I can and write reviews of the books I’ve read, which takes up quite a bit of time. I have this dream of sitting in the garden in the sun and doing nothing at all – but the weather won’t play ball and my mind is always buzzing with new writing ideas. Before I know it I’ve reached over for the iPad and started typing … I also like listening to music on my iPhone through headphones and watching movies. My latest resolution is to spend less time social networking and more time chillin’ and unplugging from the wonderful but time consuming career I’ve chosen. Hm, wonder if I’ll manage it.

Author Bio:

2012-09-12 09.24.38Of Scottish/Irish/Brazilian heritage, I was born up in a steel mining town in the Scottish Industrial Belt. The massive RAVENSCRAIG steel mill was quite literally in my back garden. In order to escape from the forbidding industrial landscape I learned to play imaginatively with my friends in the back garden and then started writing extra scenes and characters for the movies I saw on a Saturday morning. I was bitten by the writing bug and never looked back. I lived in Scotland until I was 11 when my parents moved to England in search of work and better opportunities for me and my siblings… Scoll forward to 2006 –

Sorry to interrupt, but if I recall correctly, Ravenscraig was in Motherwell which is a part of Greater Glasgow? Do carry on.

After teaching my 1000th pupil and working as a deputy head teacher in a large primary school, I decided it was time to leave the chalk face and pursue my first love. I joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers Scheme, honed my craft and wrote Tall, Dark and Kilted. I’d always wanted to write a romantic novel set in the Highlands and Islands and Tall, Dark and Kilted is the result. Not a steel mill in sight!! Much of my time is taken up publicising Tall, Dark and Kilted and finishing my second rom com which will be published autumn 2013. I am also a founding member of an indie publishing group: The New Romantics 4 and enjoy meeting readers and talking about my writing.
I live with my husband (also a retired primary deputy head teacher) and my naughty parrot Jasper in Leicester and I have the best job in the world.

You can buy Tall, Dark and Kilted from amazon via this universal link.

Lizzie’s Links
Goodreads: Tall, Dark and Kilted
twitter: @lizzie_lamb
twitter: @newromantics4

I hope you’ve enjoyed my chat with Lizzie as much as I have. Thanks for making the “virtual” trip from England to Eastern Ontario and my wee corner of the world.

It’s “Tell A Story Day”

Tell A Story Day!

Never heard of it before? Well, believe it or not, there is a quirky holiday for every day of the year. Hallmark had an ultimate holiday site which has now closed but they’ve kindly listed some other links where you can discover what the holiday of the day is.

To celebrate Tell A Story Day, I’ll be a guest at fellow loveahappyending lifestyle contributor and author, Anneli Purchase at her blog Anneli’s Place.

Okay, so here’s my story… in keeping with the day.

a shadow in the past cover 500x773


Nineteen-year-old Sarah Shand finds herself thrust back into the past. There she struggles to keep her real identity from a society that finds her comments and ideas strange and her speech and actions forward, unlike Victorian women. When Sarah verbally confronts confining social practices, including arranged marriages; powerful enemies commit her to a lunatic asylum. After falling in love with the handsome Laird of Weetshill, Robert Robertson, she must decide whether to find her way back to her own time or to remain in the past with him.


Now isn’t that a great story? I think so, but then I’m biased.

Find me on my Facebook Author Page

and @RobertsoKing on Twitter.

A Shadow in the Past is available for purchase from 4RV Publishing, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and bricks ‘n mortar locations.

You can find out more about Loveahappyending Lifestyle here. And “like” our facebook page at this link.



I’ve received the Sunshine Award!


This award couldn’t have come at a better time after yesterday. If you read my blog post from then, you’ll see what I mean.

So, I have to answer a few random questions, then nominate twelve blogs that I love to visit. Easy-peasy, right? Well, maybe not quite.

Okay the random questions and answers:

Favorite Color: Blue – light, blue, dark blue, royal blue, navy blue, sky blue…
Favorite Animal: Horse. They are so beautiful but since my dog will likely get his nose out of joint and eat one of my big stuffed animals in revenge, I best nominate him – Jake – aka the Jakemeister.
Favorite Number: I don’t think I have one but since I have to choose I would say 7 since it was on the 7th of June that my hubby and I were married.
Favorite Non-alcoholic Drink: Coffee.
Facebook or Twitter: I’m not the most creative with 140 characters so I would have to say Facebook, but even that changes everytime someone sneezes it seems.
Your Passion: Scotland and my Scottish heritage. Get me on that subject and you’ll never get me off it.
Giving or getting presents: I like to get but it’s more fun and rewarding to see the look on someone’s face when they open a gift that you’ve carefully chosen for that person.
Favorite Day: Since I work Monday to Friday, my choice would be Saturday. It’s the first morning that the alarm clock doesn’t go off before six o’clock. Mind you, the aforementioned dog usually scratches on the bedroom door about the same time. He doesn’t believe in lie-ins. Drat!
Favorite Flowers: Lilacs. I love the smell and have a number of bushes in my back yard.

And now I nominate 12 author bloggers whom I love to visit:

Suzy Turner
Ali Bacon
Carol E Wyer
Brian Henry (Quick Brown Fox)
Mandy Baggot
Lou Graham
Jo Lambert
Susan Livingston
Kathryn Brown
Michelle Betham
Carol Wright



Until my Goodreads giveaway for 2 signed copies of A Shadow in the Past ends!

a shadow in the past cover 500x773Nineteen-year-old Sarah Shand finds herself thrust back into the past. There she struggles to keep her real identity from a society that finds her comments and ideas strange and her speech and actions forward, unlike Victorian women. When Sarah verbally confronts confining social practices, including arranged marriages; powerful enemies commit her to a lunatic asylum. After falling in love with the handsome Laird of Weetshill, Robert Robertson, she must decide whether to find her way back to her own time or to remain in the past with him.

If you don’t win, you can always purchase a copy from my publisher 4RV Publishing,, .ca, and, Barnes & Noble, Chapters/Coles and some bricks and mortar stores, too.

Good luck to everyone who entered!

It’s Read an E-Book Week!

I have to admit being late to the “party”. I didn’t even know it was Read an E-book week! And to be honest – I didn’t even know such a week existed, but I am glad it does.

Coincidentally (or not) since I’m a book lover, I started reading the ebook Voodoo Wedding by Scottish author (and my friend), Janice Horton.

With the number of devices available, we’re spoiled for choice. Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Sony, and iPad, e-book retailers, amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, the Sony Store, Diesel, iBooks, and more, not to mention direct from the publishers’ websites in many cases.

But what titles to put on your device? Why not check out the authors over at Loveahappyending Lifestyle, traditionally published, self-published in e-book and print. The group Famous Five Plus are primarily indie authors, although they did invite me to join them. Both of these groups cover a wide range of genres including Young Adult, Chick-lit, Mystery, Romance, Paranormal, Memoirs, Crime.

What are you reading?
What device do you have? If more than one, which one do you prefer?
And finally, print or e-book – what’s your preference?