Category Archives: Interviews

Shaz’s Stars Feature on

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Today I’m being interviewed by Sharon Goodwin,’s resident astrologer. Hope you enjoy it…

Shaz’s Stars Interviews Melanie Robertson-King

Shaz’s Stars – Welcome to the regular feature on ‘The Buzz’ of Shaz’s Stars!

Using sun sign astrology I will be interviewing Associate Readers to see how the traits of their sun sign affect their reading habits.

I hope you enjoy getting to know our Associate Readers as much as I’ve enjoyed interviewing them.


Twitter @shazjera:


In the hot seat today I would like to welcome: MELANIE ROBERTSON-KING

Hello Melanie, thank you for letting us have a peek behind the scenes.  Your sun sign is  SCORPIO.

Q.  Scorpions are said to have an excellent memory.  Are you able to stop reading at any point …………..  and then when you pick the book up again remember exactly what has happened, who the characters are and where you are in the story?

When I’m reading, I prefer to stop at the end of a chapter but we all know that isn’t always an option. Quite often, I read during my lunch hours and when it’s time to go back to work, it’s mark the page if I’m reading a physical book or shut down the reader device. I have a Sony and the Kindle app on the iPad.

I don’t have to go back normally to refresh my memory of what’s happening. Usually, once I pick up the story and begin to read again, I fall into the familiarity of the people and places that I’m reading about.

Sometimes, my memory about books is a little too good. I read a book by an author a year ago. I read the second one by the same author this year. When I got to the ending of this second book, I felt a déjà-vu moment. I had read this before. I checked the first book, because after all, an author wouldn’t end two books the same way but in this case that’s what happened.

Q.  Associate Readers are avid readers.  Scorpions are very conservative about spending their money.  Does a novel have a set criteria for you to purchase it?  What attracts you to the books you choose to buy?  Do you use your library?

I haven’t used my local library much of late, I’m ashamed to say. I’ve used it for researching my articles of a historic nature that are set in the area. I have borrowed books and as a young girl, I practically lived there—taking books out and returning them on a regular basis.

When it comes to books if I want it, I go ahead and buy it. I’ve built up quite a collection of physical and e-books. I do like the fact that most e-books are a fraction of the price of physical books although I’m not so sure that’s my inner Scorpio or my Scottish roots and their thriftiness.

As far as a criteria for novels to purchase goes, if the cover is interesting enough to make me want to pick it up off the shelf (again we’re talking our local independent or chain bookstore), then I read the blurb on the back. If it sounds like something I’d be interested in, then I buy it. I’m particularly interested in novels set in England, Scotland or Wales.

The e-books I’ve purchased have been recommended by friends or authors I know.

Q.  A typical Scorpion never gives up, they are determined to reach their goal.  Does this affect your reading?  Do you read to the end of a book even if you’re not enjoying it?  Does this affect your choice of book?

I’m on a reader panel for a well-known publisher and some of the books they’ve sent me are a struggle to get through but I persevere. I’ve almost put a book down because of bad copy editing. The storyline was good so I kept reading and I’m very glad I did.

There’s only one book that I couldn’t read. Not that it was badly written but when you move a castle from within the heart of rural Aberdeenshire and plunk it on the North Sea coast south of Aberdeen… I draw the line. I’ve travelled to that area of Scotland many times and know the two castles… the real one and the mis-located one. I couldn’t get past that flagrant error.

Q.  Scorpions are known for being interested in the paranormal, the occult, conspiracy theories and mysteries.  Does this interest extend to your choice of genre?

Since I was young, I loved the idea of ghosts. My grandmother’s house was close to a cemetery so I played there a lot with my cousins. The stories we conjured up there, well we were kids, but at the time were fantastic. I spent many a happy hour having séances or with the Ouija board. Vampires and werewolves were favourite subjects. Some of the earliest books I read (borrowed from my local library) were Alfred Hitchcock mysteries.

I love a variety of genres—crime, romance, paranormal, mystery, occult. I have a couple of books from my younger years… Tales to Tremble By and Ghosts around the

House by Suzy Smith that I refuse to give up. Not to mention earlier works by Stephen King. The scarier books are the better I like them. I hope I haven’t deviated from your question too much.

(Ed.  No deviation from your question – we want to get to know you ?)

Q.  Scorpions always seem to accomplish their goals.  This is because they set tangible short-term goals that they know they can achieve.  Do you use this trait in scheduling your book reviews?  Do you plan which book you will read next?  How do you choose which book you will read next?

If I’m reading a number of books by one author then I tend to read them in order of publication. As far as book reviews go, I tend to write them after I’ve read the book while it’s still fresh in mind. Some folks say they keep notes while they read when they know they’re reviewing a work, not me.

When it comes to what book I’ll read next, I would have to say what mood I’m in at the time. If I’m feeling dark, then I’ll pick up a crime or mystery. Otherwise I’ll grab something at random off my overloaded bookcases.

Unfortunately, when it comes to my writing (revisions especially), I’m not so good at achieving my goals. I usually manage to write something every day but it might not be on my WIP. My goal for 2011 was to write every day. That fell by the wayside some time ago.

Q.  On the ‘outside’ a Scorpion sun person will present a cool, detached and unemotional air.  However, on an inner level, they are intensely passionate.  When you write your reviews, are you cool, detached and unemotional or does that passion come through?

I’ve not written many reviews so this is a hard question to answer. I would have to say so far I keep my reviews on the cool side and stick to the plot and characters. I suppose the more reviews I write, the more passion I’ll inflect into them. I do agree with the statement that Scorpios present a cool, detached and unemotional air but underneath lies a totally opposite person. I think that is a self-preservation measure that Scorpios have constructed to keep our passionate inner selves safe, lest we crumble.

(Ed.  Thank you for your honesty)

I consider myself a romance writer but write in other genres, too. Currently, ten of my non-fiction articles have been published, with one being a feature cover article.

I have two novel-length manuscripts completed. One is languishing with a publisher waiting for a yay or nay, the other (my first) is undergoing a major revision. When I need a break from it, I pick up a book and read or I write short stories.

My father was a Home Child who came to Canada through the auspices of The Orphan Homes of Scotland in 1930. My article Always a Home Boy is his and his siblings story. I also speak to local historical and genealogical societies on the subject of Home Children.

My father encouraged me to study Highland Dancing and take part in local competitions. I last competed in the summer 1969, a few short months after his death, at the 1000 Islands Highland Games and won the Silver Medal in the Sword Dance. In addition to Highland dancing, I took piping lessons and own a set of bagpipes which haven’t seen the light of day in a number of years – probably much to the relief of my neighbours.

I love to read but now that I’m writing, I have to be careful what I choose. I don’t want things from other people’s writings finding their way into my own work. So, to that end, I try to read from totally different genres. I don’t think I could write it effectively, but I love to read crime fiction – Ian Rankin, Stuart MacBride, Val McDermid, PD James, and of course, my good friend Chris Longmuir.

My other interests include genealogy, especially the study of Home Children, photography and travel – particularly Scotland because of my kinship with my father’s homeland. It was on a trip to Scotland, that I had the honour of meeting The Princess Royal.

To find out more about Melanie, please visit:-

Twitter Account @RobertsoKing:


Melanie’s Celtic Connexions Blog


Interview with Chris Hanna – author of In A Flash

I had the chance recently to sit down and speak with Chris Hanna, fellow Writer’s Ink member and author of In A Flash.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

In my early teens I really started to read a lot of books. I fell in love with science fiction and read every sci-fi novel I could get my hands on. Since my family did not have much money we usually picked up books second hand at flea markets or yard sales for a quarter each. Due to the age of the books I mainly read from the golden age of science fiction; Isaac Asimov, Frank Herbert and Robert A. Heinlein.

Loving to read such fascinating and thought provoking speculative literature eventually led to the idea that I could do it myself. It was a decade later before I actually took the first step to do what it takes to be a writer, write.

What genres do you write in?

I thought I wanted to be a science fiction writer. In actuality I am a speculative fiction writer. The difference being that instead of creating a story around the science, you write about people and a ‘what if?’ scenario to advance the plot. For example; Robert A. Heinlein asked what if a human child was raised by martians? Would that person in fact be human since their thoughts would inherently be alien? The result was “Stranger In A Strange Land.” Probably the most recognized Heinlein novel. I’m afraid I am not educated enough to write hard science-fiction so I am more comfortable writing speculatively.

I realized long ago that my writing is innately morbid. Because I have a proclivity for the morose I have tried my hand at horror writing. It is fun because I do not have to try and hide the darkness. I can let it run free!

What is your favourite?

Speculative fiction, definitely. It is my first love.

What made you decide to self-publish your collection of flash-fiction and poetry?

To test the waters. The work was sitting in my folder gathering dust and was probably never going to be used in a regular market. Flash-fiction is a growing trend in Internet story telling and I wanted to try self-publishing. The hardest part was figuring out how to create the document. After much research and lots of trial-and-error “In A Flash” finally came to be.

You mentioned being approached by a publishing company for your short stories after seeing some of your posts on FB… how did that work out for you?

I find out today (July 20th, 2011) if McGraw-Hill Ryerson will be sending me a contract. I am just waiting to hear from the editor if the education committee is happy with my submissions.

I understand you belong to a writers’ group. What can you say about the helpfulness and support from being involved with other writers?

I think I would have given up if it were not for the group. They are there when I need that extra push to keep going when the journey seems futile. I am very self-critical and I find I can ease up on myself when I receive such positive feedback and support from my peers.

Do you have any advice for writers who might be contemplating the self-publishing route?

My only advice would be to work hard at self-promotion. No matter how brilliant your self-published book may be, it is not going to sell itself. This entails a learning curve for folks such as myself who may be too humble for their own good.

Comments on my Review Chair of 1923: A Memoir

For those of you who aren’t on Facebook or Twitter or a member of the Love a Happy Ending group, I thought I would share the comments my review of 1923: A Memoir generated…

Harry Leslie Smith:  What an insightful ‘Review Chair’ of my memoir 1923 by Melanie Robertson-King. She did a marvellous job! I could not ask for a better associate reader.

Melanie Robertson-King:  Thank you for your kind words, Harry. It’s been a pleasure.

Janice Horton:  Your Memoirs sound like a must read, Harry, and Melanie’s enthusiasm for your writing shines through in this review.

Melanie Robertson-King: Happy to help.

Linn Halton:  A big round of applause to Melanie, Harry and Janice – what a brilliant example of team working to produce something to capture the readers’ interest! Well done.

Chris Longmuir: Yes it was a good one. Hope it leads to lots of sales.

Kathryn Brown: This book fascinates me. My late father-in-law lived here for all his 83 years and passed away 4 years ago. He would have had a lot to talk about with Harry, I’m sure.

Harry Leslie Smith: Cheers to all of you. If you were near, I would offer you all a gin and tonic or what ever your poison might be…

Melanie Robertson-King: If my dad was still alive, he’d have lots to talk to you about, Harry.

Melanie Robertson-King: Thanks Linn for your round of applause for us… you’re making me blush.

Coming soon to the website

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Coming soon ……..the ideas don’t stop!

Category: Coming soon

Join us on 1 August 2011 to celebrate the launch of  featured new Author Sue Johnson’s novel Fable’s Fortune, published by Indigo Dreams.

Coming up on 8 September 2011 another celebration –  Sue Watson’s tale entitled  Fat Girls & Fairy Cakes goes on sale, courtesy of Rickshaw Publishing.

We will be showing extracts from both these novels that can’t be read anywhere else!  So do come back and help us celebrate style!  We would also like to know what you would like our future book ‘launches’ to include.  Do you find small extracts tempting, or would you prefer to see a few pages lifted from the story?  You can post a comment or click on our Feedback contact link on the righthand side of the website.

So who else will we be talking to on our ‘magazine style’ blog?

We will be talking to publishers – Indigo Dreams and Rickshaw Publishing will be featuring on our blog in the coming weeks to talk to you, our readers, about what is happening in publishing today and giving an inside view of what it’s like on the other side of the fence!  We will be asking them what they think of our innovative and new interactive website – asking them about what does make a difference in today’s changing world.

We also have our very own Resident Astrologer – Shaz Goodwin, who is on hand to talk to our new Authors and Associate Readers about how their star signs affect them –  Shaz’s Stars. But does Shaz have anything else in store to surprise us?  I’ve been sworn to secrecy, so you will just have to keep coming back to see what’s going to be on offer!

We will also be launching a new graphic to head up Shaz’s articles, which has been designed by one of our own new Authors – Lun Kikogne! So thank you Lun – who (by the way) also designed his own book cover … so check out Lun’s author page on the righthand side of our website ——->


And we have new Author Janice Horton wearing her Editor’s hat, as she interviews our wonderful Featured and Associate Readers when they sit down in the Review Chair to talk about some of our authors’ books.  But we want to know all about those readers too, because it’s readers who buy books and feedback is invaluable to our new Authors.

Of course, Editor Missy P Wadkins will be keeping you up to date with all the fun and gossip that comes with being a part of this innovative interactive website, and The Fizz will be full of snippets on our magazine style blog.

If you see one of our new Authors or meet up with them online – please contact us as Missy would be delighted to hear about your interaction!  Photographs would be fun……

Also coming soon is new Author Mandy Baggot doing just a little ‘mingling’ to report back on how important music is to aid inspiration whilst writers sit glued to the keyboard….

If you buy one of our authors’ books because of our website, then tell us so we can shout about it.  If you don’t want to be interviewed that’s fine, we understand, but we would like to acknowledge ALL levels of support.  We are grateful if you choose one of our authors books to help an unknown, one book at a time….  a simple Email via our ‘Feedback’ Contact Us page and why your hand selected that book…….. sharing is caring!

So whether you are someone who wants to join our team and take an active part, or you are just visiting the website to read what’s going on – we love having you and we appreciate your support.  Hope to see you again soon!


Patricia Sands joins

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Welcome to Patricia Sands …

Everyone at is delighted to welcome new Author Patricia Sands, as her author’s page goes live here today!  Patricia lives in Toronto, Canada and has a very busy family life with seven adult children and, at last count, six grandchildren!  She devotes quite a bit of time to her love of photography as well as  promoting her debut novel, The Bridge Club, published through iUniverse.  Read more about Patricia’s intriguing story of life time friendships, check out her new author page on the righthand side of our website ——>

Currently at work on her second novel, Patricia admits the writing muse has possessed her. She is particularly drawn to the rewarding friendships of women and the challenges many embrace once their families are grown. “It’s never too late to begin something new,” she enthuses. “As the saying goes, just do it!”

So a very warm welcome Patricia, we hope you will enjoy taking part and interacting with our Associate Readers.

*** The Bridge Club is included in Barnes & Noble’s “Catch A Rising Star” feature for the month of July with special discounts****

A few words from Patricia about ‘The Bridge Club’:-

“Although this novel is a work of fiction, many of the issues are based on the experiences of my real-life Bridge Club of over forty years. The friendship is certainly true of us. I chose to write about the controversial topic in the final chapter after watching a friend deteriorate intellectually and physically in a locked Alzheimer’s ward at the age of fifty-three. It was shattering to observe.

Throughout the story each of the characters faces challenges and change in her life. The Bridge Club emphasizes how strong friendship helped to enable these changes and demonstrates how these women empowered each other and indeed how much they learned from each other in the process. Change is inevitable and personal growth should always be the outcome. This novel encourages women to feel positive about facing the challenges, large and small, that may arise at any stage of our life and to recognize how building a strong foundation of friendship is a priceless asset in so many ways. Knowing you are offering true friendship to someone is as rewarding as receiving it.”

Last day for the contest giveaway

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This is the last day to get entered in the contest giveaway. Over 70 books are up for grabs!

Click on the link above and check out the list of authors participating in this fun interactive project with writers and readers. Then, visit the authors individual blogs and leave a comment there telling them why you want to win their book!

It’s simple! But don’t delay. The contest giveaway ends at midnight tonight!

And don’t think it’s all romance books. There are crime, fantasy, paranormal, Young Adult, memoirs… something for everyone. – Review Chair with Janice Horton

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The Review Chair – 1923: A Memoir

The Review Chair

Welcome to our regular Review Chair feature where we link up with our Featured and Associate Readers to discuss a author’s book.

19231923: A Memoir presents the story of a life lyrically described. Capturing a time both before and during World War II, when personal survival was dependent upon luck and guile and when life, full of raw emotion, was never so real. This book is available as a hardback, a paperback, and also as an e-book.

Our featured author is Harry Leslie Smith. Harry was born in England in 1923.  He went on to become a World War 2 Veteran. He has a keen interest in British and European history and contemporary politics. He is fluent in German. Presently, he is working on his next volume of memoirs which deal with his life in post war Germany and the UK. Currently, he divides his time between Canada, Great Britain and Portugal.

In 1923: A Memoir he chronicles the tragic story of his early life. He presents his family’s history of misfortunes and experiences of enduring poverty, infidelity, and abandonment.

Our Associated Reader in The Review Chair is Melanie Robertson-King, who as a native of Ontario, Canada. Melanie spent her pre-school years in a winterized cottage on the shore of the St Lawrence River. Her family moved to town where Melanie received her education. She returned to post-secondary education a number of years later where she received a degree in Computer Programming. Her interests, other than reading include genealogy, photography and travel – particularly to Scotland, as she is the daughter of a Scottish national who came to Canada as a ‘Home Child’ through the auspices of The Orphan Homes of Scotland.  Melanie blogs at Celtic Connexions.

I asked Melanie about her love of reading and if she had any particular reading preferences.

“I read crime, romance, horror, some fantasy, and historical fiction; although the best part of being a reviewer with is that you get to discover authors and genres you might not otherwise have read.” When I asked her if she had always been an avid reader she laughs and explains how, as a child, her cousins had bought her a book every year for Christmas. “That could have been the beginning of my love of books.” She then tells how she went on to read the complete series of Nancy Drew (only 33 books in the series back then) along with a number of Alfred Hitchcock mysteries borrowed from the local library before moving on to heavier reading.

So what was Melanie’s verdict of loveahappyending author Harry Leslie Smith’s 1923: A memoir?

“Having never read a memoir, I wasn’t sure what to expect. But from the moment I got involved with and selected Harry Leslie Smith’s book to review, I knew I would be a fan of the genre, at least this particular author’s account of his early years.

As an Associated Reviewer for you get to choose which authors to support. What in particular made you choose Harry Leslie Smith?

“Just from the brief blurbs on the site, there was a parallel resonance between Harry’s life and my father’s, although comparing the two, my father’s life wasn’t nearly so tragic and poverty-stricken. Although, in their later years, they both fought in Europe during WWII.”

So you felt an immediate connection to the story and the times of Harry’s early years. What is your opinion of his recollections and storytelling?

“Harry doesn’t pull any punches and is brutally honest when reliving his experiences. It’s hard to imagine the type of childhood he experienced in 1920s and 1930s England. In that period, people did what that had to in order to survive, including digging through trash and stealing from others to obtain something to eat. His account of his father’s years of working in the mines until he could no longer work below ground to being pensioned off and shamed out of the family home because of the actions of his mother, who only did what she had to in order to ensure their survival (such as it was). I think it must have been extremely painful for Harry to be able to put his childhood on paper for all to see yet cathartic at the same time.”

And what can you tell us of the rest of his family – do they feature?

Harry is quick to credit his older sister, Mary, for his survival. When she finally leaves home, he’s devastated. They remain close but it’s not the same. When he talks about corresponding with Mary after he’s enlisted with the RAF, you can feel the hurt in his words as he knows they’ve drifted apart.

Melanie, how would you sum up 1923: A Memoir if I asked you to do it in just three words?

“Heartbreaking and uplifting.”

After reading 1923: A Memoir do you think you will read any other books in the same genre?

Well, there are two more chapters forthcoming in this series of Harry’s books. 1947: A Place For The Heart To Kip and the final book, tentatively entitled 1953: Empress of Australia. After reading his first, I’ll definitely be purchasing the next two.”


Harry Leslie Smith’s loveahappyending author page

Harry Leslie Smith’s Website

To Buy 1923: A Memoir from Amazon UK in Kindle, Paperback or Hardback.

To Buy 1923: A Memoir on Amazon US in Kindle, Paperback or Hardback.

To Buy 1923: A Memoir from Barnes & Noble (Nook)


Link to: Melanie Robertson-King’s BlogCeltic Connexions

This Review Chair feature has been edited by on behalf of by Janice Horton and you can always visit me at my website


If you enjoy reading and would like to be in the spotlight as a Featured Reader on this page, please read the associate reader rules and apply. Our authors need readers and in particular they need feedback. As an Associate Reader you will go one step further and affiliate yourself with one or more of our exciting new Authors to make a real difference to their writing career by actively supporting them: spreading the word using your social media and review websites such as Amazon, Goodreads, etc, as well as your own blog. Remember, any reviews featured on the Review Chair will be used not just on this website but by the authors themselves when promoting their books, crediting you as an Associate Reader and Reviewer.


Launch Day is here!

The official launch of is here! Drop by the site and check out the authors.

Lots of giveaways. At last count there were 73 books up for grabs. All you have to do is leave a comment on one of the author’s blogs to be entered into their draw.

I’m thrilled to be an Associate Reader for and my authors – Joanna Lambert, Harry Leslie Smith and Chris Longmuir!