Just a quick update from me today, I’m having a rough start to my week with an abscess in my ear which burst on Sunday, so yeah, not much is happening from me this week as I recover – but I would hate for you to miss out on this week’s incredible authors, Anne Brooke and Dianna Roman, so let’s get down to business!
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Anne Brooke is a multi-published author who lives in the UK. When not writing, she enjoys gardening and swimming. She would love to be able to dance. Sadly, she’s never seen a ghost – or at least she doesn’t think she has!
Anne’s Quirky Questions
Holly: If you could live anywhere real or imaginary where would it be and why?
ANNE BROOKE: It would have to be south Wales. Specifically Pembrokeshire. I LOVE it there! Whenever we go on holiday to Pembrokeshire, I feel astonishingly calm and really happy. Which is strange as I have absolutely NO Welsh blood in me at all. One of my best ever days there was when my husband and I unexpectedly came upon a totally deserted beach (yes, really!), and decided to stop the car and go for a paddle. It was just so beautiful. And afterwards, we were on our way again when we saw a sign for an open garden which we hadn’t heard about and so visited there as well – the garden was incredibly beautiful, plus it had the best coffee and cake I think I’ve ever had. All in all, a perfect day.
Holly: Would you visit the future or the past, and why?
ANNE BROOKE: I’m definitely drawn to the past. The future is just too scary and unknown, I think. One of my favourite periods in history is way back in the Anglo-Saxon age – I studied some of the literature at university and I think the poetry is amazing. Perhaps it’s the lure of men with swords (LOL!) and all that feasting, I don’t know! I’ve never written anything historical so perhaps that’s something to consider one day?…
Holly: What other artistic pursuits (if any) do you indulge in apart from writing?
ANNE BROOKE: I do like visiting art galleries and museums – I find art very inspirational though I have no talents in that area at all. That said, I have attended a few art party evenings in the past – where you paint a picture, copying the tutor, in an evening and then get to take it home. I don’t think any of my efforts are up to much, though I really enjoyed the event. You can drink wine too, and maybe that helps! In the last few months, I’ve also been attempting to teach myself to play the piano – my music-reading skills are pretty poor, but it’s been nice when I vaguely recognise the tune I’m supposed to be playing. I’m not convinced that happens very often though …
Holly: What are some day jobs that you have had/have? Do they impact your writing, share an example.
ANNE BROOKE: My CV is pretty wide-ranging as I’ve had quite a few jobs in my career, all office-based. I started off in insurance (which I hated) and then moved to office administration (which on the whole I really enjoyed), though I’ve definitely had some very difficult bosses – and one or two fabulous ones too! Most of my administration career has been in universities, though my last couple of jobs before retiring this spring were in churches. My job definitely impacts my writing – you get to deal with all sorts of people if you work in an office, some lovely and some not so lovely, and this definitely gives you a deeper understanding of life, which in its turn feeds through into writing. And I’ve used office settings and situations in some of my fiction too. For instance, Jamie in gay romance The Hit List is an events administrator – which is a job I’ve had to do a number of times. And of course Alicia in paranormal comedy An Unexpected Haunting works in an office, though it’s a very unusual setting.
Holly: How did you come up with the idea for this book?
ANNE BROOKE: I was driving on the motorway to see my mother and I passed a van. It was just a normal vehicle but the branding written on it after the company name was: “Paranormal investigation agency.” It made me laugh as it was so unexpected, but also made me think about how it might be for the office staff working in the agency. And the characters of Alicia Stonebright and her nephew Alex were born and just grew from there. I then absolutely had to find out their story.
Holly: What was the hardest part of writing this book?
ANNE BROOKE: I always find the initial draft very hard going anyway – I prefer the editing process to actually writing the story. I think I’m happier knocking words into shape once they’re there rather than staring at the blank page hoping they will turn up! And for this book, I had to learn about runes as they are a key part of the plot, so that was quite a challenge. Fascinating too. I also found it tricky to get the right balance between the paranormal investigation going on and the budding romance Alicia has with her neighbour, so it was nice when I could join those two strands together in the story.
Holly: What do you do when you get writer’s block?
ANNE BROOKE: To approach this question from a slightly different angle, I think a break from writing is a healthy thing, so I don’t write every day. On a normal week, I’ll write on the weekdays only, and not write anything at weekends. And if it’s a bank holiday, I don’t write then either, and I don’t do any writing if I go away on holiday. That said, if I really can’t get any words to come, then I leave the scene I’m working on for a while and write something else – either another part of the book or some poetry. Whatever feels right for that moment. If the words still won’t come, then I just write any nonsense down, as it doesn’t matter as nobody needs to see it, and nonsense writing can be quite a powerful tool as well. Often, if you can’t write what you usually write, then writing something meaningless can allow other issues or even other storylines which you can use later to pop up.
Holly: Do you ever base your characters on real people? Do you tell them?
ANNE BROOKE: I do occasionally base some attributes of characters on people I know, but they’re never the actual person themselves. Interestingly, in the past, one or two people have thought certain characters are them, but that’s actually not the case! I do use incidents in my fiction that have happened to people I’ve known in real life, but never in a way that it’s obvious. Or not usually anyway. One friend did once say she really liked her hatred of The Lark Ascending as a piece of music appearing in my gay crime novel Maloney’s Law, and her Smart car also made a brief appearance in the follow-up novel The Bones of Summer, which she was quite chuffed about. But I knew she’d find those two snippets amusing, and she did! But, no, most of my characters are more or less aspects of me – which I think is true for most writers.
Holly: Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
ANNE BROOKE: Yes, I do read reviews. I’m not sure I believe any author who says they don’t read them! I do get a steady number of poor reviews, but that’s fair enough really. At the start of my writing career, they really upset me, but now I’ve come to realise that writers don’t write for everyone’s taste. I write the stories I want to read, and some people like them and some people don’t. That’s just how life is. I had a few bad reviews for gay crime thriller A Dangerous Man – which is very intense and some people did find that difficult, which I totally understand. It was difficult enough for me to write it! And when I wrote The Prayer Seeker, many Christians found that very upsetting as Michael, my hero in that novel, is a bisexual Christian, which they found hard to accept. On the plus side, I am very grateful for people who like anything I’ve written and review it positively – for an independent author like myself, reviews do make a huge amount of difference – so many thanks indeed to you! It means a lot.
An Unexpected Haunting
Alicia Stonebright is more than happy with her life. She works for her beloved nephew Alex in the Stonebright Paranormal Agency and things are pretty good. Except for the odd mischievous ghost and her growing attraction to her new neighbour Tom, that is. Still, as a woman in her fifties, she’s sure she’s more than capable of handling both the spirits and her own hormones without too much embarrassment. She hopes.
However, the town ghosts have other ideas and very soon the level of hauntings reaches overwhelming proportions. The library appears to be the epicentre of the problem, and Alicia and Alex are determined to solve the mystery, with help from the rather eccentric members of their local paranormal committee. Could her neighbour’s rune books be an essential part of the solution? And, even if they are, will the Stonebright Agency ever uncover the heart of this unexpected haunting?
Teaser from An Unexpected Haunting
My name is Alicia Stonebright and I work for my incredibly irritating but ultimately lovable nephew, Alexander Stonebright (Alex for short). And our business? Together, Alex and I are joint partners of the Stonebright Paranormal Agency.
Basically, we dealt with ghosts. Or rather Alex did and I ran the business. Sometimes the ghosts found us – which explained the peculiarities of my filing system as ghosts in an office really did not work and, if I had any psychic power of my own, I would never allow them in.
Anyway, back to the day in question. 5pm on a hot Thursday evening and I’d had enough. My third and last client of the afternoon had just left after crying into her coffee and providing me with a completed form telling me all about the poltergeist in her house. I suspected this was her teenage daughter having a hormonal hissy fit and causing the household spirits to rebel but I didn’t say that. I left the haunting issues entirely to Alex. The client had managed to fill two whole pages with her slanted tiny script and the thought of having to type it up tomorrow was giving me the beginnings of a serious headache.
I needed to go home and celebrate getting to the end of Thursday without actually killing anyone. And I needed to do it soon.
https://mybook.to/HauntingBrookePB – paperback book
Anne’s Follow Me Links:
Facebook writing page: https://www.facebook.com/annebrookebooks/
Facebook profile page: https://www.facebook.com/AnneBrooke21
Twitter page: https://twitter.com/AnneBrookeBooks
Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/annebrooke1993/
Pinterest page: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/annebrooke1S/
Linked In page: https://www.linkedin.com/in/anne-brooke-98922032/
Main website: www.annebrooke.com
Dianna Roman is the author of M/F and M/M contemporary romance and romantic comedies.
She believes in laughter, happily-ever-afters, unsung heroes and heroines, internal struggles, chocolate, talking to yourself, hard work, and above all, love.
She enjoys rooting for the underdog and writing stories about characters who don’t have this thing called life quite figured out yet.
Dianna lives with her husband and daughter in the woods where sunsets and gardening are the reason her house may be a bit messy.
Dianna’s Quirky Questions
Holly: If you could be an animal for a day what would it be and why?
Dianna: A hawk. They don’t have many predators, so I’d be free to fly as far and wide as I like, taking in aerial views of the landscape.
Holly: If you could have any superpower what would it be and why?
Dianna: The power of healing. It amazes me that in this modern day and age, there are still so many ailments we can’t cure.
Holly: If you had to write yourself a warning label what would it say?
Dianna: Inappropriate humor, terrible dresser, loves chocolate.
Holly: What’s your favorite underappreciated novel, yours, or someone else’s.
Dianna: Bad Things by Varian Krylov. The psychological journey of healing both characters endure is nothing short of fascinating.
Holly: What’s your writing process like?
Dianna: A dumpster fire? Lol. I have ideas for stories constantly bubbling around in my brain. For the most part, however, I type out a plot and all the dialogue for the ones I have the clearest picture of in my head from beginning to end. Once I get to that point, I choose which one to write out in its entirety. Then, I usually end up writing them on my phone because having a family equals uber distractions that prevent me from being on a computer. So, I bring you finger-typed novels.
Holly: What comes first for you, plot, or characters?
Dianna: It’s a mix of both. Some stories, the characters have come first. Others, the plot has emerged first.
Holly: What’s on top of your fridge?
Dianna: Paper plates
Holly: What’s your favorite thing to do to relax?
Holly: Which household chore do you find the most agitating?
Dianna: all of them, but if someone could explain why my floors always still seem dirty even after I just cleaned them, that would be great.
Holly: Explain your book terribly in a few words. (For example two men meet and hate each other, until they don’t)
Dianna: One man gets another to let his guard down by giving him lacey underwear.
Holly: Where did your inspiration come from for your MCs?
Dianna: Unfortunately, there’s a plot twist in my book that prevents me from being able to say so until after release day.
Holly: What did you do to unwind in between words when writing this book?
Dianna: Play with my daughter—be a mom and realize that summer moments for her are fleeting.
Holly: Tell me three reasons I should buy this book today!
Dianna: We all judge people, so I think this is a good story to show how easily we can get caught up in doing so. Grief shapes us, long after a loved one is gone. Being happy is a choice that’s much more difficult for some to make.
Holly: Was there anything lost in the story in the editing process that you wish you’d been able to keep?
Dianna: No, actually. Not yet, anyway. A bit left to attend to, so we’ll see.
In the Eye of the Beholder
When Daniel lands himself in trouble, the last thing he expects to find is sanctuary with an aloof older man who frequents the bar where he works.
Eric Jordan is layer upon layer of mystery, not that Daniel cares. This agreement to work as the rich widower’s assistant is only temporary, while Daniel hides from the trouble following him. Except, he soon finds himself obsessed with solving all his unanswered questions about Eric and the unexplained looks from the straight older man that seem a lot like a level of desire Daniel has craved his entire life.
Chest heaving from his speech, his shoulders relax as he pushes off the pool wall as though he’s mentally schooled himself for showing weakness. “It’s selfish. I know, and that’s why I’m not good like Harper.”
Tromping toward the steps, he hesitates for a second likely realizing he’s still naked. His body rises from the water, droplets sluicing down the chords of his back muscles, the curve of his spine, the globes of his cheeks. The sound of the splatter is symbolic, washing away his humility as his feet slap to the place where his clothes lay. Leaning to the side, the angles of his body morph into more beautiful lines that I can’t wait to sketch as he snags up his clothing. Glancing around for a towel, his spine stiffens when he gives up his search, and he heads toward the door stark naked and proud. He’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.
“Daniel,” I call.
Stopping, he turns his head slowly, back to his apprehensive nature as though my words could be weapons. How many weapons have been wielded at him in his short life?
“You’re better than you think you are.”
His back rises and falls on a breath, processing my words however he will.
Until I Saw You: https://mybook.to/UISY
The Shutout: https://mybook.to/theshutout
You Again (Men of Olympus book 1) https://mybook.to/youagain
Tough Love (Men of Olympus book 2) https://mybook.to/toughlove
In the Eye of the Beholder (on Goodreads, 25 July 2023 release date) https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/122997499-in-the-eye-of-the-beholder
Dianna’s Social Links
NEW IN MM ROMANCE THIS WEEK!
One Last Chance BL Maxwell
Book Three in the Small Town City Series Stu Lawson had always lived in the small town of Occident. He’d been born a farmer, and he was more than happy to stay a farmer even when his dad decided it wasn’t the life for him. He’s been raising his daughter since the day she was born, and he’s never regretted being a single dad, but Stu has a few secrets.
Morgan Grant was born into a life he never wanted and had done everything he could to avoid. Staying drunk helps him forget and numbs the pain he can’t bring himself to face. After a long night of drinking, he ends up dumped in a small town north of Sacramento without money, his phone, or a way to get back to the city he calls home. Stu’s focus has always been his daughter, but he can’t control his curiosity about the stranger who shows up in Occident alone in the middle of the night. He offers to help, even when he knows he shouldn’t.
Old feelings rise to the surface and he’s helpless to ignore them, or Morgan. This stranger could be his chance at happiness, or his downfall.
singledad gayromance stranded smalltownromance secrets Book One, Remember When: https://mybook.to/RememberWhenST
Book Two, Try To Forget: https://mybook.to/TryToForget
The Undeniable Book 4
MM, Mafia romance, Enemies to lovers, Hurt/Comfort, Romantic suspense, Virgin MC vs Possessive MC
INFURIATED is book 4 in the undeniable series. While it follows a new couple, it is strongly suggested you read Shameless, book 1, Fierce, book 2, and Obsesses, book 3, to have a full understanding of the story.
* THIS BOOK IS NOT SUITABLE FOR READERS UNDER 18. It contains violence, trauma, and (domestic) abuse. https://www.amazon.com/Infuriated-Undeniable-Book-Lola-Malone-ebook/dp/B0BZVT3PB1/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?crid=2FPWHRHN0S78E&keywords=lola+malone+infuriated&qid=1688061770&sprefix=lola+malon%2Caps%2C209&sr=8-1
I hope you enjoyed this week’s episode of Holly’s Quirky Questions.
A huge thank you to Anne Brooke and Dianna Roman for being so open and amazing. Next week we have Denver Shaw and Jaiyde Thoman, so until then, keep smiling, read lots, and be kind – the world needs it!
Find a Spark of Magic Every Day.