Category Archives: Guest Posts

Guest post by Erika Gardner: Everyday and Not-so Everyday Magic & Miracles

I am a big believer in miracles and magic. Yes, I write about fantabulous things, magical creatures and wondrous sorcery, but I see quieter magic all around us. People can do great things on a daily basis. The power of a hug, the comfort of prayer, and the outcome of a sympathetic ear all have a ripple effect upon the world at large. One person holds a door for another, then that second person picks up something someone dropped, the third subsequently compliments a friend on something and so on. The positive vibes flow, changing each person’s day for the better.

It’s no less special than the stuff in my books though it’s easier to miss the power of a kind word than a dragon appearing in the sky before. And on that note I’d like to share exactly that. This is an excerpt from my new novel The Dragon in The Garden. This is Daisy coming home. Please enjoy.


“Siobhan,” Turel said. The intensity of his tone caught my ear, and I turned to him. He lingered a few feet away from me, his eyes fixed serenely on a point far away.

I joined him, my eyes on the horizon. The setting sun painted the sky a vivid seascape of blues, pinks, violets and oranges. As the sun lowered to the lowest point in the sky, in the instant before its rays spilled over the back of the world, there shone a beam of concentrated light, as precise as a laser. After a second, the light expanded, becoming a brilliant, white ray. It continued to grow, morphing into a tunnel in reverse, but instead of darkness, it blazed a corridor of light. The white light became prismatic, flickering with a rainbow of dancing diamond sparkles, splashing colors of all hues in front of my dazzled eyes.

Turel enclosed one of my hands in his warm grasp. “It is something to see, yes?” His tone reflected true awe.

“Is this your first time seeing this?” I asked in a whisper. The tunnel became larger, dwarfing us. With my free hand I shielded my eyes. Leia sat at my side, gazing in the distance.

“No, I have seen this many times.” He held out his other hand and waved it at the mighty light show. “But a miracle is no less glorious for having previously happened.”

To my left Tim and Alex continued their ridiculous rock throwing competition. Their stones sailed right through the expanding brilliance they could not see. “Guys, are you kidding me?” In the emotion of the moment, my voice growled, low and hoarse.

They stopped and gave me matching blank expressions. “What?” Alex said.

“Hey, what are you guys staring at?” Tim sounded defensive.

Before I could answer their questions, I heard it. A sweet sound, soft at first, barely a whisper, carried on the breeze. Turel’s smile grew even brighter, matching the shining portal. “She comes.” His eyes shone as they met mine.

Alex glanced this way and that. “Does anyone hear that sound?” he asked.

Tim craned his head. “I hear it. It sounds like bells.”

“Wind chimes,” I corrected, still staring straight ahead. “It’s wind chimes.” The air shimmered. Light danced in an intense aurora borealis. Patterns of colors streaked and swooped in a heavenly painting. One hue dominated the others. The deep shade of jade green spread. An enormous form took shape, dressing itself in swathes of color. The huge outline solidified: graceful wings, a serpentine neck, and a curving tail. Two amber lights appeared like jewels in the viridian air. Everything intensified, heightening each of my senses; the lights pulsed. A beautiful, green dragon hovered in the air. With two mighty beats of her massive wings, she crested then landed behind us. I ran forward with a cry. “Daisy.”

“Damn it,” growled Tim. “I can’t see anything even a bit like a dragon.”

“Unless it’s a super little one,” said Alex, his face downcast.

Turel laughed— a big, belly laugh full of joy. “Gwyrdd, you sly minx, show them. Drop the glamour and let our friends see you.”

Daisy twisted her head to one side in a coquettish gesture and in that voice I had never forgotten said, “Certainly, Turiel, dear one.” Suppressed mirth laced her tone. “How’s this, children?”

When she spoke these last words the music of wind chimes came again, louder this time. As their bright notes sounded around us, I saw the precise instant when both my brother and my first love, the two who believed in me all these years, finally saw my dragon.

TheDragoninTheGardenbyErikaGardner-200To purchase The Dragon in The Garden please see:




erikagardnerauthorpicThis post was written by Erika Gardner. She’s a native Californian, lifelong lover of fantastical adventures, and a dedicated Whovian.  If you enjoyed it, please sign up to receive updates on   Or you can follow Erika on Twitter @Erika_Gardner, “Like” her Facebook page Erika Gardner- Writer and Storyteller. Or check out her contributions to the BBB Blog.


To or not to self-publish?

10353184_10204372130369223_1878311095685583151_n (2)Today, I have the marvellous Mary Wood on my blog today. She will be talking about self-publishing and traditional publishing. Over to you, Mary!

Hello Malika, nice to be here, thank you for asking me.

To introduce myself, I am Mary Wood. I am a published saga author of Pan Macmillan Publishing House. I began my career as an Indie author and I hope my blog about my different experiences is interesting to you.

Let me explain the terms of the title: An Indie author is a term given to an independent author who publishes themselves, mostly on ebook outlets. A traditionally published author is one who is published by a publishing house and their books are in paperback and hardback in the shops as well as on ebook outlets.

  • Of course there are some things that are the same for authors in both fields: Firstly, however we are published we are all authors.
  • Secondly, we all have to work extremely hard to become successful.
  • Thirdly, we all have a readership, something that amazes us and pleases us all.

As an indie author: I was on my own. I wrote my books on what subject I wanted to. I wrote them in my own time. I had my own style, length and chose location. I paid to have my books edited. I designed, or when I could afford it, paid to have a cover designed for me, and promoted myself and my books with limited outlets and no help (I’m not talking about the wonderful support other authors, family, friends, or indeed my amazing readers were, but about practical and financial help.) And, lastly, financially; I did really well as an indie author, and my royalties came in every month, which was very nice. All of this can be summed up in one word, freedom – freedom to make all my own decisions. Freedom to determine my own success.

As a traditionally published author, I find every process that I have mentioned above very different. It took me a while to get used to some of them, but I can say that though I loved being solely an Indie author, I wouldn’t want to go back despite losing the freedoms above. For me I have swapped freedom for verification. I had this from my readers, but now I have it from the most respected professionals in the publishing industry as well. I still pinch myself every time I wake up. It is a dream come true. All of this I say with fingers crossed as not being in charge of my own fate, I rely on being offered a new contract every time one comes to an end and that isn’t guaranteed. When authors were dropped by publishing houses in the past, that was it. Now I have the security of knowing I can go back to being a full time Indie author.

The differences outlined: I will list each process that I have mentioned above and explain how each is different in the trad pub world to the Indie pub world.

  • Being on my own: As a traditionally published author, I am not on my own. I have an agent, who does so much for me and is in my corner. It is sometimes like having my own union rep as all of my interests are taken care of. Financial matters are in her hands. The correctness of contract. The fighting for new contracts and making them as flexible as she can to fit me. Also as lucrative as she can. She is concerned for my welfare and often telephones me if something is going to change to make sure I am alright. When I have to go to London she will meet me at the station and make sure I don’t get lost. She advises on plot if she thinks I am not on the right track. She checks that my statements are correct. And, she is a friend. She is paid 15% of all I earn but is well worth it. Besides her, I have a whole team of people in the publishing house, my own Editor, who works closely with me. She commissions my work – or could reject it – not happened so far, thank goodness. She guides and advises me and also supports me in any way needed. And is also a friend. I also have a dedicated publicist and both she and my editor have a team who are there to support help and advise me as well as to do all they can to further my career.
  • Subject: There is quite a leeway with this, but within a framework. For instance, at the moment, my novels are set in wartime and I have two world ones to choose from. This gives me a massive scope as I have chosen to write about women’s roles in the war and the family and personal toll on those who stayed behind and those who went to fight, or took up war work.
  • Timeframe: I have a stipulated deadline now and have to meet it. Mine is in November for a book that will be published the following November.
  • Style: Every publishing house will have their own style. Mine uses the ‘z’ spelling as in realize etc… Chapters are presented in a certain way and layout is special to the house too.
  • Length: For a saga, such as I write, there is a stipulation of minimum of 100.000 words. And this is a figure they would really like you to keep as near to as possible. Most of my indie books, which are gradually being published traditionally, are at least 20.000 words longer than that and I often find myself writing an epilogue in my new books to tie all the ends rather than give everything wordage. It is a process that I rather like as all my sub stories are drawn into it and it gives a lovely rounding off to the novel.
  • Location: I have been given a main setting for my books. This is because we authors cannot be all writing about the same things and the same area. We need an identity. Our readers need to know that Mary Wood books will be set in London and the North, and may take you to other countries. Whereas, Diane Allen books will be set in the Yorkshire Dales, and Annie Murray books in Birmingham etc: I found this particularly difficult to adapt to as I knew very little about London and had thus far had set all but one of my indie books around Leeds. It was the one that I didn’t, venturing out from the North to London and back, that won me the publishing contract and set the seal on my location. However, my subject helps with this as people travelled all over during the wars. Londoners went north, west, and east to become Land Girls, Special Agents went to France. Factory girls went to cities, so I can still have London based characters, but can mix them with Northerners.
  • Editing: This is a very difficult discipline for authors in traditional publishing as your editor and her/his team strive to give your work its very best face and to keep the pride of the publishing house standard too. A book can have several edits before it is ready to go. A structural edit is the first and the most painful. A first chapter may have to be moved to 4th (all authors will know what disruption this could cause!) Scenes can be cut, or elaborated on. Detail is scrutinised – in the sense of giving a grounding to where the characters are, what time of day it is, are they sitting or standing, and all has to be subtly written in so it doesn’t appear that you are stage managing your characters. Next will come a line edit, when punctuation is looked at and correct use of words etc… Next will be an edit that picks up on research, and if names are spelt the same throughout, and situations that couldn’t happen, or that deny something that has already happened. And finally there is the proofread edit. This is the last chance to put anything right that is wrong, and usually done by an independent reader followed by the author giving it a last sweep. A long process that often has you thinking that you cannot possibly read your words through again! But a very worthwhile one that makes your work sing off the page.
  • Cover: The author does have some input, but not the final say on the design of the cover. Portfolio pictures of models who might fit the bill are sent to me and I choose the one I think looks most like my imagined main character. Next there is a photo shoot in whatever costume has been decided upon. I am sent the photos and I get to pick the one I like best. The background, font and colour are the editor’s choice. Though there was one of them that I thought too light and said so, and this was changed. So, all in all very much a partnership choice.
  • Promotion: This is where I have felt an amazing change. Yes, there is still social media for me, but beyond that, I have been featured in a national magazine twice (People’s Friend). For each book I have an expenses paid book launch party and book tour. There are opportunities to have your name on other author’s books in the form of a comment about the book. I am featured on Margaret Dickinson’s next release The Buffer Girls. My books are visual as physical copies in supermarkets and leading bookshops. Local papers want to feature me. Papers from other areas review my book. I am suggested to bloggers as someone to feature.  I co-authored a book of Christmas short stories with four other very famous authors. And I’m featured in and often write a piece for Pan Macmillan’s own publication Tales from the Heart, an annual publication which gives news from Pan MacMillan saga authors, and showcases their next publications. Most of this is exposure I could not get as an Indie author.
  • Finance: I think this is where the biggest difference is between the two modes of publishing. I loved knowing exactly how many books I had sold and being able to see my royalties growing on an hourly basis. I also loved having a good payday every month. And with the kindle books I still have published, I do get this, only on a much smaller scale than I used to earn as the number of books that I own the publishing rights to gets less and less. Also they have been up for a long time and their popularity is diminishing. In traditional publishing finances work in a very different way and I have to wait six months before I receive a statement of sales and any money due to me.

I welcome your comments, and if there are any authors reading this who would like further information on any of the aspects I have talked about above, please ask the questions, I don’t mind sharing with you more about the finance for instance as that was always a mystery to me.

Well, that’s it in a nutshell, but just before I go a quick note on ‘Tales from the Heart’ magazine. Besides the features I have mention above, there are also competitions to enter and special offers on books. If you would like to receive this free magazine write to: Pan Macmillan, Saga Newsletter, 20 New Wharf Rd, London N1 9RR give your name and address and tell them you read about it in a guest blog written by Mary Wood, on Malika Gandhi’s Inspiration blog.

Thank you so much for reading my blog. I have very much enjoyed exploring this subject with you. Much love to all, Mary x

Thank you, Mary, for a brilliant in-depth explanation of the ins and outs of traditional and self-publishing. It surely is an eye-opener, and I am sure, it will be very beneficial to my readers.

Author Spotlight: Caroline Bell Foster

Author Image - Caroline Bell Foster (2)Today, in the Author Spotlight is Caroline Bell, a successful East Midlands (UK)  author of many novels, including her recent book Feline Fix. Let us find out more about her, and her inspirational success!

  1. Please tell us a little about yourself and your books

Firstly, thank you so much for having me. I live in Nottingham, England, with my husband, two children and lady of the house a cat called Naomi.
In my early teens my family went on what should have been a six holiday to Jamaica, but we ended up staying. It took me almost 18 years for me to return to England, with long diversions through Canada and Kenya.
I like romancing and exploring different cultures. I write contemporary romantic fiction and my work reflects all that I am and my many travels.


  1. Can you tell us something quirky about yourself?

Hmm, hard one. I look forward to one day being called ‘The mad Cat lady down the street.’ I can belly dance? Is that considered a quirk? I love wine gums, Jamaican and Moroccan food and always always have music playing in my house.


  1. What is the name of your recent release, and can you tell us a little about it?

The Feline Fix, is my latest novella. It is part of the Valentine Pets & Kisses boxed set, alongside 13 other
The Feline Fix Book Cover
The Feline Fix
authors from around the world and is available to pre-order right now.
I loved writing it as it combined two of my favourite things. Romance and cats and although it wasn’t planned, it followed on from The Cat Café, although it is a stand alone novella.


  1. What new releases are you planning this year?

Aside from The Feline Fix, I have two full length novels.
Distracting Ace (Spring) and the follow up novel Convincing Kyle (Autumn) Both are set primarily in Derbyshire and then go over to different parts of the world. In both, I’m exploring disabilities and how people manage and are treated by others, although still very romantic.


  1. This blog is all about inspiration. Where do you find your inspiration from to write?

Someone once said, whatever you were doing before the age of 10 is what your were destined to be, before the noise of the world intrudes. I have two distinct memories.

The first, was seeing my name in print. It was under a photograph of myself in the Derby Telegraph celebrating Victorian Week when I was around 8 or 9 years old. I remember looking at my name, seeing the black fuzzy script and liking the feeling.
The second memory, was when I was around 11 years old. I had this crush on a boy and wrote him a love letter. In that cruel way of kids, he’d posted it on the blackboard for everyone to see! But to me, I was really proud my romantic words were actually being read! Unofficially, that love letter was my first ‘public’ works.
But I’ve always written in some capacity and inspiration is all around. I’ve learned to look at everything and everyone with a writers eye. I’ll be out shopping and see someone with an interesting face, and then match them with someone else, give them a history, and thus, a story is born. My characters are diverse and I like that I have an international fan base.


  1. Are you a self-published or traditionally published author? What do you like and dislike about it?

I’m what is called a Hybrid Author. I’m contracted to a publisher and I also self publish some of my own titles. I have the best of both world’s. My publisher is like family and we discuss titles and time frames and see what works for both of us.
I do like self publishing though and have a lot of fun doing it. Call me a control freak, but there is something very satisfying about being in charge of an entire project, right up to release day and beyond.


  1. In the current publishing era, it is known that all authors, new and established, have to do a lot of their own legwork to get their books out there to the readers. What is your best marketing strategy you have used, and did it bring in the results you wanted to see?

 Be yourself. I’m very personable online, well I hope I am (smile). I don’t spread myself too thinly across social media, and concentrate on my Facebook pages, as well as Twitter and Pinterest to ensure I have enough time to interact with people online and of course have time to write. I have found that my fans like when I do a Facebook page for a single title and when I host online parties. But mainly, I’m just me.


  1. Now let’s find out about some fun facts about you. What is your all time favourite novel and why?

Not a fair question as I love and cherish practically every book I’ve ever read, too many to name and most of the authors’ are now my friends.
Although, as a little girl I read the Milly Molly Mandy series and loved them and also a series about an old man who had a black and white cat. I don’t remember the name of that series but I do remember one story where he picked up the glue instead of toothpaste and glued his mouth shut. He couldn’t talk to his cat and started crying. His tears dissolved the glue and he and the cat lived happily ever after! Ah so sweet. I must have been around 6 years old when I read that.
As an adult, whenever I want time to myself I usually read The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.  I’ve read it countless times and still find it fascinating and entertaining.


  1. Who is your all time favourite author and why?

I have two answers to this. The first is longevity and who I will always read. Throughout my teen years I read every novel by Johanna Lindsey. I loved her writing style and the way she could write in various genres from historical romance, to futuristic and everything in-between. Her writing has always inspired me.
The second answer, includes all the various authors who champion diversity in not only romantic fiction, but all fiction. For years an entire demographic had been ignored by publishers and agents. I am so proud of the likes of Delaney Diamond, Brenda Jackson, Harper Miller and JL Campbell to name but a few. These ladies ignored the rules and like me, defied convention to ensure readers have a choice.


  1. Any last inspirational words from you?

 Find the time to do what you are passionate about. New writers always say they don’t have time to write. They are in school, have full time jobs, a family and say there just isn’t enough hours in the day.
I write in the wee hours of the morning, for a few hours everyday and when I’m not writing I’m doing something writer relate, to ensure I’m always moving forward and following my bliss. Always make time to follow your bliss.


  1. How can we find you?

Amazon Author Page:
Available to Pre-Order from Amazon!

Writing in a Room with a View by Patrice Fitzgerald

Writing in a Room with a View

Patrice Fitzgerald

I became a self-published writer on July 4th, 2011, which is Independence Day in the U.S. I figured it was a good day to declare myself an “indie writer.”

Since that time, I’ve published a political thriller about two women running for president, a series of science-fiction books based on the best-selling WOOL by author Hugh Howey, and a number of short stories for anthologies. Right now, I’m working on a novella about time travel that was commissioned by Amazon’s Kindle Worlds.

I’m a very lucky writer—I get to sit at my computer while watching nature. I have a little room with a beautiful view that overlooks a pond. Every day, the view changes.

WinterIn the winter, what I see is a backyard full of snow, stark, bare trees, and an iced-over pond. This is probably the least distracting season, but it’s still quite lovely. The snow features the tracks of animals that have snuck through my backyard in the night and makes me think of what a character might have going on beneath the surface. Occasionally, I see a group of young people playing ice hockey on the pond. Before they can start a game, they have to push the snow out of the way to create a makeshift hockey rink. Teamwork, conflict, competition—it all goes into the draft I’m writing.

SpringIt’s only February, but I’m already looking forward to warmer weather. In the spring I’ll look out on the tender buds on the
trees. The leaves will be small and light green, and gradually fill in the view. They block some of the pond, which I love to watch as it transitions from ice to “living” water, moving with the breeze. I was told by someone (who knows far more about trees than I do) that the beech trees in my backyard are more than 100 years old. I contemplate beginnings and endings, age, time, and change. This wisdom gets pulled into my manuscript.

SummerAnd then comes glorious summer, when the grass is fully green again, the trees are thick with leaves, and the water sparkles. This is the time of year when it can get quite hot here in New England. When I find myself procrastinating with my writing, I head down to our little beach on the far side of the pond and jump into the lake. Escape, freedom, a new environment… all fodder for the writer’s brain and the current book.

AutumnThe most glorious season is unquestionably the fall. There are days when the air is so bright with the afternoon sunlight that the trees seem to be part of an enchanted forest outside my window. It can be hard to write for the beauty. I’ll be sitting at my computer, typing away, and I’ll see the sun break through the clouds and turn my whole backyard gold. I have to jump up and grab my phone to snap a photo. In those moments of perfection I think of a happily-ever-after ending, or the impossibility of possessing the ideal. Once grasped, it slips from us, leaving only memories.

I will not always live in this house. Someday I won’t have this view. But it will live on in my mind’s eye as the room in which I began my writing career, and where I spent many happy hours distracted—and inspired—by the loveliness outside my window

Patrice Fitzgerald is a best-selling writer whose ebooks can be found on Amazon as well as on other popular platforms. Some are also in print. Her website is





Karma of the SiaI Dream of PiaPATHanging with Humans