New Release from Author Timothy J. R. Rains

Author Timothy J. R. Rains joins me this week to talk about his latest release, The Blade from the Barrow.

SJJ: What genre(s) does this new book fall under?

TJRR: The Blade from the Barrow is a Viking Fantasy based on the Norse Sagas. In particular, it’s a mashup of The Saga of Hervor and Heidrik and the Saga of the Volsungs, featuring the protagonists Hervor Angantysdottir and Sigurd (or Siegfried) the Dragonslayer.

It’s worth noting, however, that this book takes place in 400 AD, a few centuries before the traditional Viking Age and that the word Viking does not appear anywhere in the narrative. That said, the Nordic cultures and religions depicted are very much what the average person would associate with Vikings. For example, a shieldmaiden berserker sailing around on a long ship practicing human sacrifice and praying to Odin.

SJJ: Is this a genre you normally write in or are you trying something new?

TJRR: I normally write fantasy, but this is the first time I’ve written fantasy that is anchored in a real historical period.

It was extremely challenging. The sagas themselves are full of anachronisms and many of the real-life characters that show up in one place are from different centuries. It would be the equivalent of George Washington joining forces with Robin Hood and Joan of Arc to fight the Nazis. It’s interesting stuff to work with, but as an author it puts you in a strange situation.

For instance, if you’re writing historical fiction you’re working within the parameters of that historical time period and you have to do a lot of research to determine what those parameters are and work with them as best as you can; when you’re writing fantasy, you might want to draw on history to influence your characters and world building, so you still have to do significant research, but your main parameters are something you’ve invented (ie. How magic works in your fantasy world). But in The Blade from the Barrow, I was working with history, and the sagas and the story, and I frequently had to choose which of those parameters I was going to hold. And each time I had to make that kind of decision I was giving something up.

SJJ: When was The Blade from the Barrow released and where can your readers purchase a copy?

TJRR: It was released in the end of January and is available now exclusively on Amazon.

SJJ: Please tell us a little about your new book.

TJRR: It has been sixteen years since the infamous berserker Angantyr Arngrimsson and his eleven brothers were struck down on Samso Island. But, on the cold coast of northern Scandinavia, echoes of their savagery linger on…

With a scathing tongue, a volcanic temper, and a punch that could drop a polar bear, Hervor: Princess of Lofoten is a hurricane of trouble. After discovering the truth about her father, she’ll do whatever it takes to retrieve his magic sword and carry on his name. But that means exhuming a terrible curse, and she soon finds herself with few friends and a whole lot of enemies.

The explosive start of the High Fire trilogy, The Blade from the Barrow is a Viking fantasy composed of an epic blend of history and Norse mythology. Fans of The Red Queen’s War by Mark Lawrence or Joe Abercrombi’s Shattered Sea won’t want to miss this visceral retelling of the Tyrfing Cycle.

SJJ: What is the time and place of this story?

TJRR: The story takes place all over Scandinavia, Iceland, and Germanic Europe in the year 400 AD during the decline of the Roman Empire.

SJJ: What inspired you to write this story?

TJRR: My brother was really into Viking stuff and at one point he sent me an article about bad-ass women, and one of the women mentioned was Hervor. It briefly outlined her story, enough to get me interested in reading the saga she featured in. I toyed with the concept of writing a book about her for a couple years, but the exact moment it all came together for me was once when I was watching 13th Warrior. And the part where they’re all standing up to go on the quest, after Antonio Banderas watches them sacrifice that girl on the longship, I knew that I needed to write this Hervor book.

SJJ: How did you come up with the title and did you have any other working titles?

TJRR: For the longest time I was going to call it Angantyr’s Daughter, but I thought that might be giving too much away, and Angantyr is kind of a weird name that not everyone can pronounce confidently.

Also, The Blade from the Barrow is more cohesive with the other two (future) working titles in the series, The Deathless Acre and The Norns’ Doom – all of which are from lines from the Saga of Hervor and Heidrik.

SJJ: I love the cover of your new book. Who designed it? Did you have much input in the design?

TJRR: I made the cover myself. I did a bit of photoshop/graphic design stuff when I was in cartography school, and there is actually a fair bit of overlap between making maps and making book covers. They’re both aesthetic forms visual communication. And in addition to being emotionally appealing, a book cover needs to communicate exactly what the book is about. So, I tried to put something together that looks sharp and screams this book is about vikings and magic swords.

SJJ: I think you accomplished what you wanted. Well done!

What is one of your favourite lines or quotes from the book?

TJRR: There is a scene where Hervor is about to stab one of her allies in the back—she finds a dagger in a treasure pile and tests the blade against her finger…

“Her skin parts at the slightest pressure, causing a red tear to dribble down her finger. Sharp as the kiss of Judas.”

I always thought that was a deadly line and I always felt proud of myself when I read it over.

SJJ: Did you enjoy writing any particular scene and can you tell us a little about it?

TJRR: The scene where Sigurd and Gunther are hiking up the volcano to meet Brunhilde the Valkyrie Queen of Iceland was really fun to write. I think it introduces the juxtaposition of their personalities pretty well and highlights the codependent nature of their relationship.

Bruhilde has sworn to marry any man who can overcome her in a test of strength, and Gunther has determined to be the one to do it—only he has no intention of defeating her himself. He has recruited the help of his giant-blooded friend Sigurd, a renowned champion and chronic worrier. Right away there is the sense that Gunther has somehow manipulated Sigurd into doing this against his will, because he’s clearly uncomfortable with it and thinks the whole plan is a bad idea. And Gunther doesn’t even tell Sigurd how he intends to carry out his plan until they’re almost at the top of the volcano – that they will have to cast a magic spell on themselves and change shapes so Sigurd can defeat Brunhilde while pretending to be Gunther. Presumably, Sigurd has already refused this suggestion, only for Gunther to spring it on him again at the last moment when he has no choice but to go along. He does, but he insists that the whole thing is a terrible idea and will all go horribly wrong.

And of course, he’s right…

Author Bio

Bewitched at a young age by all things to do with swords and magic, Canadian fantasy author Timothy J. R. Rains spent his youth slaughtering Minotaurs in the misty woods of rural Nova Scotia.

He studied cartography at the Centre of Geographic Sciences and has a degree in theology from Briercrest College. When he isn’t caught up in another dimension, he’s usually out in the middle of some cold river with a cigar in his teeth and a fishing rod in his hands. He lives with his wife and daughter in Riverview, New Brunswick.

Author Links

Amazon Link for The Blade from the Barrow



Beyond the Story – Jasper Amazon Parrot A Rainforest Adventure


Jasper and his family enjoy living in the Amazon jungle. It’s full of family, friends, and adventures. Knowing their sister, Piper, will soon learn how to fly, will only add to the fun this family of birds will embark on.

The brothers, Jasper and Willie, are growing up in this wonderland of colors, sounds, and smells. They will need to rely on each other and friends as a strange new animal turns into a new buddy, while another can disrupt their lives forever.

While new challenges are always popping up, nothing can prepare Jasper and his friends for what is about to happen – something unexpected that will change everything.

I am thrilled to have this different kind of guest on Beyond the Story Character Interviews. This week’s character, Jasper, lives in a series of children’s books, and he is an Amazon Parrot. What is also unique is that Jasper is based on the real Amazon Parrot living with Author Sharon C. Williams and her husband.

I hope you enjoy our “conversation”.

SJJ: Hello and welcome to Beyond the Story Character Interviews. For those who aren’t familiar with you, can you please tell our audience your full name and where you live?

JTW: My name is Jasper T. Williams. I own a house in North Carolina where I allow my loyal subjects to live and serve me. It doesn’t compare to the Amazon rainforest, but it will do for now.

SJJ: (LOL!) Ahh, so you’re the house owner. I suppose my cats and dog believe they own the house and allow us to serve them too.

But seriously, how would you describe your personality?

JTW: I have wings and can soar through the sky. I am majestic as I fly above people beneath me. I guide and help people with my presence that is equivalent to royalty. What else can I be but a benevolent humble angel.

SJJ: So, what you’re saying is you’re the cat’s meow.

Now, this is a two-part question, Jasper, do you do anything for a living? (I know, strange question for a bird). And what is your dream job? Providing you’re not already doing it. (Also, a strange question)

JTW: What do I do for a living? The real question is what don’t I do for a living? I raise the sun each morning to eliminate the darkness. You’re welcome. I defend my throne from outside animals. I spread my wisdom to my humans with my wonderful singing voice. Even to those who don’t appreciate it. I observe human culture and entertainment while critiquing it. Trust me, both needs lots of critiques. I don’t have a dream job, because my dream will be a reality. I will be loved by all as I should be. I hope to have several statues in my honor very soon and made from platinum or diamond, because gold can’t capture my beauty.

SJJ: What is the biggest obstacle that is preventing your from achieving your goals?

JTW: When the sun sets and the darkness covers the lands, I lose motivation to do work and happen to fall asleep, but even asleep I maintain my beautiful image. Most humans look ugly while sleeping, they drool and snore, but not me, I have dignity. Maintaining my perfect image takes a large portion of my day through perfect grooming of each of my feathers. I really should hire someone to groom me so I can focus more on complete world admiration and adoration of me.

SJJ: Okay, so you’ve told us how wonderful and beautiful and amazing (and humble) you are but can you tell us something about you that not everyone knows?

JTW: I secretly don’t hate my mom. I know she thinks I do. And it is not that I hate her per say. I just love dad and my brother so much more. They think I am the most awesome thing since peanut butter. And let me tell you, their right. She comes in handy. She kills bugs for me, buys me treats, pats my head, cleans my cage, fluffs me, has written three books about me and has written a few songs as well. So, I have to throw the lady a crumb or two so she doesn’t spiral downward. I mean I have to keep the old girl around, right? See I am sensitive. You can add that to the question about my personality.

SJJ: (Chuckling) Okay, noted. But I am glad to hear you appreciate all your mom does for you.

Now tell us, are there any defining moments in your life that made you who you are today?

JTM: I can think of none. You humans are so quick to mark defining points in your life like they defined you or molded you, but not me. I was Jasper before I was born and I will be Jasper when I die. Everything that I am I was born with. The beauty, charisma, grace, and etc. come naturally as easily as breathing to me. If I were to change in the future, make no mistake it wouldn’t be a defining moment of fate that changed me. But it would be changing only for a whim on my own accord.

SJJ: I’m probably going to regret this question, but do you have any regrets?

JTM: Bitch please, I’m Jasper. Excuse my language.

SJJ: LOL! Well at least you have some manners.

I think I can guess your answer to this question, but Is there anyone you look up to, consider to be a mentor, either in the past or right now?

JTM: I don’t find many people to be worthy of my praise, but I must admit one movie has had a profound effect on my life. That movie is The Lion King. When the big cat looks into the water, sees his own reflection and got all emotional, I realized I am my own mentor. Why look up to others when I can look up to myself both literally and metaphorically?

SJJ: Just as I thought. Okay next question, and once again I think I can guess your answer but it will be much better coming from your lips, I mean beak. When you think of all your accomplishments, what is your proudest moment?

JTM: I like to think I accomplish more in a single day than most people accomplish in their lives. Though that is unfair of me to compare myself with commoners who are trying their best. Though if I had to choose one, I think the year of 1999 comes to mind. It’s when I uplifted the lives of three new humans and showed them what their lives were missing to be my crowning achievement. It wasn’t easy, but I clearly changed their lives for the better. They say that is the year they rescued and adopted me. But let’s get real. I saved them.

SJJ: (Shaking my head, with a smile) What’s your idea of the perfect day?

JTM: All days are perfect when your name is Jasper.

SJJ: Jasper, your answer does not surprise me.

What are your strengths? And because it’s part of the interview, what are your weaknesses? Though I am sure you don’t have any.

JTM: My humble personality, limitless stamina, graceful movements, beautiful voice, and courageous nature are just some strengths. My weaknesses would be the fact that I can’t be in two places at once. I can only share my image and enrich other people’s lives through the internet…for now. I promise I will help all humans and animals on this planet no matter how beneath me they may be.

SJJ: (Shaking head again, with maybe an eyeroll and because you’re a bird, a chuckle as well) Humble, huh? Anyway, I am surprised you found some weakness, though I’m not quite sure it really is.

Okay, moving on. Tell us Jasper, a busy parrot saving the world and all, what do you do for fun?

JTM: I do lots of things for fun, but I have taken an interest in this wall lately. There is nothing special about it. It’s an ordinary wooden brown wall, but I find myself lost on its texture and can stare for hours. It has the benefit of showing off my beautiful backside as well as being more entertaining than 90% of what I have seen of human television.

SJJ: I guess you could say you watch it like a hawk, sounds like a blast. But I don’t think I’ll try it.

And what do you do to relax?

JTM: I’m always relaxed. I am the definition of posed and calm or at least I will be soon once Webster gets back to me.

SJJ: I’m speechless.

On to the next question. What are your plans for the future?

JTM: I don’t plan for the future it distracts me from the now. Though I do believe I mentioned complete world admiration and adoration of me. That is always on the agenda.

SJJ: Okay, Jasper, if a movie was made about your life, who would you want to play you?

JTM: The only person who can play Jasper is Jasper, but unfortunately most humans can’t understand my message accurately. So, if possible, I would like that black actor who played God in that one movie to narrate the movie. The one with the moles who hasn’t aged in years. I like his voice almost as much as I like the French language. Definitely get him to be in the movie.

SJJ: Well, Jasper, I think you mean Morgan Freeman. And I do have to agree with you, he is a wonderful actor with a fabulous voice. Il est magnifique! (Just a little French for you). Jasper, with regards to your books, are you happy with the way your story was told?

JTM: Well I say this all the time. Every moment where I can share my life with others makes me happy. First or third person, movie or book, paintings or photos, and so on makes no difference to me. Jasper is Love and Jasper is Life.


Sharon C. Williams is a native of New England raised in Northern Maine. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and son. She is also owned by a flock of six birds. Sharon has a B. S. degree in Chemistry. She loves to read, sketch, take pictures, walk, exercise, go to the movies, and listen to music. She is a budding bird watcher, and knits on the side. She is a huge sports fan of baseball, basketball, hockey, and football. She is also a shutterbug and is always looking for the next big shot.

Two of her short stories were published in the anthology, Cassandra’s Roadhouse, which is no longer published. Sharon also has two short stories published in the Dragons in the Attic anthology, which was written by her writing group, The Wonder Chicks. Two short stories in the anthology The Reading Corner: Book One which was released by Fountain Blue Publishing. Her children’s chapter book, Jasper, Amazon Parrot: A Rainforest Adventure, and Jasper: Amazon Friends and Family, were previously released by Fountain Blue Publishing in 2013 and 2015. The second edition of volumes one and two were published by Peculiar Possum in July of 2019. Volume three, Jasper, Amazon Parrot: The Perils of the Jungle, was published by Peculiar Possum on November 27, 2019. Her comedy novel about her war with her backyard squirrels, Squirrel Mafia, was also released in the spring of 2015 by Peaceful Musings Publishing, followed by an anthology titled Everyday Musings, which was published in in 2016 by Lysestrah Press.

Where to find Sharon

New Release Interview with Author Zach Abrams

Author Zach Abrams joins me for this week’s interview about his newest release, 133 Hours. Find out all the details in our interview below.

SJJ: What genre does your newest book fall under?

ZA: Psychological Thriller

SJJ: Is this a genre you normally write in or are you trying something new?

ZA: Both. My fist novel, Ring Fenced was also a psychological thriller but it could hardly have been more different. It was written in the third person with an obsessively controlling male protagonist. By contrast, my new thriller, 133 Hours, is the first time I’ve written a book in first person present tense. Its female protagonist is a victim, desperate to know what’s happened to her.

SJJ: Who is your target audience for this novel?

ZA: My novel is aimed at an audience of fiction loving adults who enjoy suspense.

SJJ: When was your newest book released?

ZA: The scheduled release date for the e-book version was 20 January 2020.

SJJ: Please tell us a little about your new book.

ZA: ‘Arriving at work to find she’s lost more than five-and-a-half days (133 hours), Briony Chaplin, has no recollection of where she’d been or what had happened to her. She is distraught. Has she been ill, or had a breakdown, or could she have been drugged and abducted?

Doubting her own sanity, Briony is fearful of what she’ll find. Yet she’s driven to discover the truth. When she trawls her memories, she’s terrified by visions, believing she may have been abused and raped.

Assisted by her friends, Alesha and Jenny, and supported by a retired detective, she’s determined to learn where she’s been and why.’

SJJ: Where does the story take place?

ZA: The story is set in and around Glasgow, in Scotland.

SJJ: What inspired you to write this story?

ZA: I awoke one morning, with the concept of a character coming to realise that she’d been missing for several days, where she had no recollection and no one she knew had seen her, or heard from her. Initially, I tried to dismiss the idea, but it persisted. I knew it would form the premise for a book.

SJJ: What kind of research did you have to do?

ZA: I spoke to a range of people with expert knowledge, including medical professionals, police, support officers and social workers. I visited locations I used and, of course, I used the internet.

SJJ: Was any part of this book particularly difficult to write?

ZA: For me, giving voice to a twenty-five-old female took a bit of imagination and a lot of help, which was resolved by speaking to others and asking them to check that my efforts sounded authentic.

SJJ: How did you come up with the title? Did you have any other working titles?

ZA: I wanted a title which was different and stood out but would also be relevant to my story. My protagonist was missing for a period of time in excess of five and a half days. This, I calculated, amounted to 133 hours. It seemed right and it’s the only title I’ve used for this story.

SJJ: Who designed the cover? Did you have much input in the design?

ZA: The cover was produced by Cover Mint, commissioned by my publisher Next Chapter. I gave them a synopsis and told them the sort of impression I wanted to make and they took it from there.

SJJ: What is one of your favourite lines or quotes from the book?

ZA: “I know who my real parents are – they’re the ones who’ve cared for me and raised me for the last twenty-five years. Just because some man and woman went through a random act of fornication, resulting in an egg being fertilised, doesn’t make them parents. It certainly doesn’t make them my parents.”

To explain the context – Briony had been adopted at birth and this quote is her response when questioned (insensitively) by the police about her birth parents.

SJJ: Did you enjoy writing any particular scene? Please tell us a little about it if you can.

ZA: I enjoyed writing the opening scene of the book, trying to introduce my protagonist while showing her to be vulnerable and in a confused state.

SJJ: Does your book have any message or is it purely entertainment?

ZA: The book was mainly written for entertainment but there is a subtext of the importance of honesty and the consequences of trust being breached.

SJJ: How long did it take you to write? To edit?

ZA:133 Hours took longer to write than the title suggests. It took about three months to write the first draft and then was ready for presentation after another two.

SJJ: Who is your favourite character? Your least favourite character?

ZA: Although Briony has, by far, the biggest role, I enjoyed writing the character, Alesha, her newly discovered friend. She’s kind and caring, but there’s a hint of mystery as to her past and her motives.

SJJ: Just for fun! If this book became a movie, who would you like to see play the main character and if there’s a villain, who would play that role?

ZA: I think Margot Robbie would be ideal in the lead as Briony Chaplin. As well as acting ability, having Scottish parents might help her adapt to the location.I do have ideas of who I’d like to play my villain, but as the whole story is about Briony trying to discover the identity of the villain, it would be a spoiler to tell you who it was.

SJJ: Is this book a stand alone or part of a series? If part of a series, please name other published works in the series.

ZA: Stand-alone

SJJ: Please provide links to where your new book can be purchased.

ZA: Available from Amazon – non-geographic link is

Direct to US and UK sites are

Author Bio

Zach Abrams is a writer of thrillers and crime novels. He lives in Scotland but spends much of the year in the Languedoc region of France.

Having an unusually varied education and work history, Zach was equipped with an extensive range of life experiences to draw on when developing his characters and stories. Following a science degree, a management post-grad and a professional accountancy qualification, he spent many years working as a CFO, business director and consultant in a range of industries as varied as transport, ostrich farming, manufacturing and public service.

Although having considerable experience of writing reports, letters and presentations, it’s only fairly recently he started creative writing of novels – “a much more honourable type of fiction,” he claims.
Prior to ‘133 Hours’, he has six novels published plus his collaboration with Elly Grant on a book of short stories and a nonfiction business guide book. So far there are four tartan noir books in his Alex Warren Murder Mystery series, set in his hometown of Glasgow, Scotland.

The first is ‘Made a Killing’. This British Police Procedural features Detective Chief Inspector Alex Warren as the senior investigating officer, assisted by female detective Sergeant Sandra McKinnon and supported by a team of detectives, scene of crime technicians and other specialists. They carry out their investigation after the discovery of the corpse of a much hated criminal, found with an elephant tusk impaled in his chest. Besides the main murder investigation, the team research a range of other criminal activities including financial crime, fraud, blackmail and extortion. Away from the crime investigation, there’s family drama as well as a touch of romance and more than a sprinkling of humour. Readers familiar with the geography of Scotland, and Glasgow in particular, may well recognise locations as the detectives tread their weary path on their way to researching the crimes to solve the mystery.

The second in the series, ‘A Measure of Trouble,’ sees Alex’s team seek the murderer of a CEO, killed within the cask room of his own whisky distillery. There’s no shortage of suspects. Investigations lead them to interview the victim’s family, employees and colleagues as they consider the varied motives of greed, revenge, adultery and nationalism.

The third, ‘Written to Death,’ begins with the mysterious death of a successful author, the murder taking place on stage during a writers’ group meeting. Alex and Sandra are swamped with work as they must deal with a second enquiry, this one into organised crime, and it runs in parallel with the main murder investigation.

The fourth, ‘Offender of the Faith,’ follows the investigation after a young Asian girl was sexually assaulted and murdered in the home she shared with her Scottish boyfriend. With Sandra of work on maternity leave, imminently due to give birth, Alex and his team require to use kid gloves to handle the ultra-sensitive investigation with both the victim and her boyfriend’s families brought under intense scrutiny. Potential motives of racism, islamophobia, hate, jealousy and honour killing all have to be considered. But who is behind the killing… and what is the real reason?

These are fast moving, gripping, murder mystery novels set in and around the tough, crime-ridden streets of Glasgow.

Zach’s first novel was ‘Ring Fenced’, an unusually themed psychological thriller. It’s a crime story with a difference, following one man’s obsession with power and control. The main character, Benjamin, uses five separate personae to independently control the different divisions of his life. The story shows how he juggles the five separate existences and follows what happens when the barriers break down. The anti-hero, Benjamin, was nominated and shortlisted in the category of best villain in the 2013 eFestival of Words.

Zach’s quirky thriller, ‘Source; A Fast-Paced Financial Crime Thriller’ centres on financial crime. It sees three investigative journalists travelling across the UK, Spain and into France. They suspect economic terrorism as they research corruption and sabotage in the banking sector. Resulting from their investigations, they face personal threats and all the time they’re trying to cope with their own fraught private lives. Despite the weighty subject matter, it’s a light and amusing read with plenty of humour, family drama and romance.

A collaboration with Elly Grant produced ‘Twists and Turns,’ a book of short stories, which range from flash fiction to a novella. They all have mystery and an element of the unexpected, with content ranging from Gothic horror to mild comedy.

All of Zach’s books can be purchased from Amazon as eBooks and paperbacks. Audiobook versions of both Ring Fenced and the Alex Warren series are already available and the other titles are in progress.

Alike his central character in ‘Ring Fenced,’ (Benjamin Short), Zach Abrams completed his education in Scotland and went on to a career in accountancy, business and finance. Married with two children, he plays no instruments but has an eclectic taste in music, although not as obsessive as Benjamin. Unlike Benjamin, he does not maintain mistresses, write pornography and (sadly) does not have ownership of a mega internet distributor. He is not a sociopath (at least by his own reckoning) and all versions of his life are aware of and freely communicate with each other. More in keeping with ‘Alex Warren’, Zach was raised in Glasgow and has spent many years working in Central Scotland.

Zach’s Links



Amazon author page

Goodreads page

Publishers author page


Links to Zach’s other books:

Beyond the Story – Yesterday Today Always

Who is stalking Katherine and why?

Still reeling from the death of her husband in the London Bombings, Katherine builds a wall around her heart to prevent further hurt. In a serendipitous moment her first love, Jared Martin walks back into her life. Old feelings are rekindled but as their second-chance-relationship develops, another cruel twist of fate strikes. The helicopter Jared is a passenger on ditches in the North Sea.Who, if anyone, will survive the ordeal? Is fate still not done its dirty deeds?

Will a reckless moment from her past come back to haunt her?

Contains adult content, violence, and strong language. 18+ recommended.

Buy links



I am delighted to have Author Melanie Robertson-King’s character from the novel, Yesterday Today Always, as my guest on Beyond the Story – Character Interview. Let’s get to know this protagonist and her story.
SJJ: Can you please tell us your full name and where you live?

KWM: Katherine Murphy-Whitorn, although I’m in the process of legally dropping the Whithorn bit. Aberdeen, Scotland is the place I call home.

SJJ: Wonderful! I’ve never been to Scotland, but I hope some day I will get the chance. And how do you make your living in Scotland?

KWM: I own a small independent bookstore on Exchequer Row in Aberdeen – As the Pages Turn – perhaps you’ve heard of it?

SJJ: No, I can’t say as I have. But what a lovely name for a bookstore. Have you ever wanted to do anything else?

KWM: Running this store is my dream job. I absolutely love it.

SJJ: Can you tell us, Katherine, something about you that not everyone knows?

KWM: When I was dragged off to Canada (kicking and screaming no less) by my parents, I didn’t fit in at school. I was the outsider, the ginger, the one who talked funny. My best – actually only – friend back then was a stuffed rabbit. (Melanie didn’t even know that, that’s how secret it was).

SJJ: Aw, that’s so sad. Kids can be cruel. But you sure know how to keep a secret, even from your author. Mind you, some of my characters do things I did not expect. So, I guess it’s not that extraordinary. Anyway, I hope things improved.

Switching gears here, what about regrets, do you have any?

KWM: Marrying Colin Whithorn, hence dropping Whithorn. Oops, (claps hand over mouth) I hope I didn’t create a spoiler here. Best leave it at that. If your readers want to know why I said that, they’ll have to buy Melanie’s book to find out.

SJJ: Ha, ha, ha, well played, Katherine. So, readers, if you want more information, you know what you have to do.

When you think of all your accomplishments, what is your proudest moment?

KWM: It has to be opening As the Pages Turn and making a go of it. The store is still in profit, despite the roller coaster the economy has been through.

SJJ: That is something to be proud of; running your own business is hard work. So, tell us then, what is your idea of the perfect day?

KWM: Being able to have a lie-in. Staying in my pyjamas all day if I want, not having to put on makeup. Just a lazy day at the flat. And if someone special is with me, it’s even more perfect.

SJJ: That does sound nice. And what do you do to relax?

KWM: This is going to sound crazy since I work with books all day, but I love to curl up on the sofa with a blanket, cup of tea and a novel. My favourite genre is crime, followed closely by women’s fiction, then romance.

SJJ: That’s not crazy at all. That’s a great way to relax after a busy day. And on the flip side, what do you do for fun?

KWM: It usually involves (faraway look appears in eyes) anything with my girlfriend, Stephanie. Shopping, girlie nights in or out at the clubs.

SJJ: Katherine, it sounds like you have a great time when you spend it with friends. What are your plans for the future?

KWM: Marrying my childhood sweetheart, Jared Martin. He was the reason my parents dragged me off to Canada. We’ve since reunited, and although it’s been a rocky road, he’s proposed.

SJJ: Congratulations! I hope you and Jared have a long and happy life together. Katherine, if a movie was made about your life, who would you want to play you?

KWM: Well, except she’s dead, Maureen O’Hara. Her hair was about the same colour as mine, I loved her Irish accent (not Scottish, but still has a nice lilt), and in any of the films I’ve watched her in, she’s got a fiery personality to go along with her red hair.

SJJ: Who knows, with today’s technology, CGI and whatever else there is out there, that is a possibility.

Thank you, Katherine, you are lovely person, and I am happy to have met you today. I wish you the best of luck with your bookstore and of course your future with Jared.

Author Bio

A native of eastern Ontario, during her pre-school years, Melanie Robertson-King lived in a winterized cottage on the shore of the St Lawrence River. Before starting school, her family moved to Brockville where she received her education, including a post-secondary degree in Computer Programming.

Growing up as an only child, Melanie was an avid reader and remains so to this day. She knew then one day she would be a writer. When she wasn’t talking about her dream of becoming an author, she wrote stories and began honing her skills at an early age.

Melanie’s father was a Scottish national. He came to Canada as a ‘Home Child’ through the auspices of The Orphan Homes of Scotland. She promised herself that one day her feet would touch the soil in her father’s homeland. That first trip was in 1993, and she’s not looked back since, having returned to the auld country a further eleven times and is looking forward to trip number twelve. On one of her many trips to Scotland, Melanie had the honour of meeting Princess Anne (The Princess Royal) at the orphanage where her father was raised.

Encouraged to study Highland Dancing, she competed locally. Her final competition took place during the summer of 1969, a few short months after her father’s death, at the 1000 Islands Highland Games. In that last event, she won the Silver Medal in the Sword Dance.

Melanie began her professional writing career in non-fiction. She published eight of her articles. One graced the cover of an international publication. At the same time, she continued to develop her writing voice: short stories as well as novel-length work.

When she’s not sequestered in her cave writing, plotting or editing, you’ll find her out about. In addition to writing, she loves to travel, prowl through cemeteries (the older, the better), and photography.

Melanie’s Links



Connexions Blog

Facebook Author Page


Twitter @RobertsoKing

Beyond the Story – Sea Scope

Sarah Collins needs an escape. Mourning her brother’s death and the impending breakup of her marriage, she returns to her childhood home in South Carolina, where her family operated an inn.

Sarah hasn’t been back to Sea Scope for twenty years; not since she and her brother Glen discovered a body by the nearby lighthouse. She never understood why her parents left Sea Scope so suddenly, or the reasons behind her father’s suicide.

After Sarah returns to the inn, she faces long-buried memories, text messages and strange clues. Something is not right in Sea Scope. Reunited with people from her past, she tries to figure out what’s going on in her childhood home.

When past and present collide, Sarah must face truths about her family, and what happened that summer day by the lighthouse. But will she survive to tell the tale?

Welcome to another Beyond the Story character interview. Joining me is a character from Debbie De Louise’s novel, Sea Scope.

SJJ: Good morning, can you please tell the readers today your full name and where you live?

SC: My name is Sarah Collins. I live on Long Island but am originally from South Carolina.

SJJ: And what do you do for a living, Sarah?

SC: I’m a children’s book illustrator.

SJJ: Now, that sounds like a fun job. Is this your dream job or is there something else you’d like to do?

SC: I enjoy what I currently do and would like to continue doing it, but I also hope to be a mother. I consider that a job and one I would be honored to do.

SJJ: Can you tell us what is the biggest obstacle preventing you from achieving your goal?

SC: My husband Derek and I have had trouble conceiving, and he is against fertility treatments.

SJJ: I’m sorry to hear that, but I am sure it will happen for you some day. Now let’s switch gears here and please tell us something about you that not everyone knows.

SC: I discovered a body with my brother when we were children. It was near the lighthouse by the Inn where we lived as children in South Carolina. It was the body of a guest who’d we’d befriended and was thought to be suicide.

SJJ: Wow! That must have been quite a shock. Now you say you lived at an Inn, were there any defining moments in your life that made you who you are today?

SC: My years at Sea Scope with my brother and two friends had a great deal of influence on me. I remember them fondly, even though they were cut short by a tragedy.

SJJ: Sarah, it sounds like you faced some tragic moments as a child yet despite that also have some fond memories. But what about regrets. Do you have any?

SC: I regret that I wasn’t closer to my mother and that I blamed her for being weak and drowning herself in alcohol. I now know the reason she did it and am sorry for all that lost time with her.

SJJ: Sarah, I think you are not alone in your regret. Is there anyone you look up to, consider to be a mentor, either in the past or right now?

SC: My aunt Julie was always and still is a role model for me. She is strong, independent, and artistic.

SJJ: So, artistic talent certainly runs in your family. Sarah, when you think of all your accomplishments, what is your proudest moment?

SC: When I learned that I was finally pregnant.

SJJ: What??? Well, you had me fooled. I told you it would happen for you. Of course, I had no idea you already are expecting. Congratulations, I am happy for you. Okay, one final question and I will let you get back to your book. Are you happy with the way you told your story?

SC: Yes. I tell most of my story in first person except in the past where it’s told in third person. Some of the other characters also tell their stories in different chapters. You won’t get confused, though. The past and present come together in an interesting way. People have said they enjoyed that, and I like to read stories that are written that way, too.

SJJ: Thank you, Sarah. I am happy you could join me today on Beyond the Story.

Author’s Bio:
Debbie De Louise is a reference librarian at a public library. She is a member of the Cat Writers’ Association, The Long Island Author’s Group, Sisters-in-Crime, and International Thriller Writers and the author of seven novels including the four books of her Cobble Cove cozy mystery series. Her latest release, Sea Scope, is a psychological mystery.

She lives on Long Island with her husband, daughter, and three cats.

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Positive Focus

I believe in the law of attraction and have seen it work both positively and negatively. And whether you believe in it or not, you have seen it work too.

Take for instance that time when you forgot to turn on your alarm clock. First, you wake up late. In your haste to drink your coffee, or whatever, you spill it down the front of your shirt. Now you have to change. As the morning progresses you get more frustrated causing other little irritations to occur. Finally, you’re in the car (or maybe you take public transportation). For some reason, you hit every red light possible, or get stuck behind a school bus or other slow-moving vehicle.  When you do make it to work, you’re ten minutes late, maybe more. You keep focusing on these events that made you late, replaying them in your head, telling them to your co-workers. Your day goes from bad to worse. And the more you keep focusing on all those frustrating, irritating, “bad luck” things, the more you’re going to get. You are setting yourself up to receive more because of the negative energy you are putting out into the universe. It’s like you are advertising, “Hey, look at all this crap I’ve dealt with today” and the universe responds with “Hey, you keep focusing on all that crap and sending out all that negative energy. You must like it, so here’s some more. Deal with it.”

Same thing happens when you’re having a great day and everything keeps going your way. Why? Because you are happy and that converts to positive energy and the universe responds with “Hey, you must like all that stuff, let’s give you more.”

Ever notice that the people who complain a lot, seem to have a lot to complain about? – Law of Attraction.

Right now, we need to collectively focus on positive and good news. The terrible things that are happening are filling us with negative thoughts which produces more negative energy.

“Energy is in everything. As we see and feel things, the Universe responds to the messages and energies we are sending out in this world.” – Lynne Demers

Let’s focus on the good, send out positive energy for the world and ourselves. Start small and tell me something good that happened to you today; look for that silver lining.

Beyond the Story – A Character Interview

Welcome to Beyond the Story, where readers can learn a little more about their favourite (or not so favourite) characters.

I introduced you to Author Brian L. Porter just a few weeks ago and this week he would like for you to meet one of his characters from the Mersey Mystery Series.

SJJ: Hi Andy, and welcome to Beyond the Story. Thank you for taking some time away from capturing criminals to answer a few questions for your fans. And who know, maybe you’ll get some new ones too. 😊
Now, let’s get started so you can get back to the Merseyside Police Headquarters.

Can you please tell us your full name and where you live?

Andy: My name is Andrew (Andy) Ross and I live in Prescot on the outskirts of Liverpool on Merseyside in the United Kingdom.

SJJ: How would you describe your personality?

Andy: I’m definitely something of terrier when it comes to my personality. Although I consider myself to be a loving, soft-hearted, loyal and faithful husband to my wife, Maria, a local GP to whom I’ve been married for over twenty years, when it comes to my work, I have a never say die attitude and that’s a trait that I try to instill on all the detectives who are part of my team, the Merseyside Police Special Murder Investigation Team. Once I embark on an investigation, I can become obsessed with solving the crime and apprehending the murderer(s). So far, it’s a trait that has stood me in good stead, as the team has so far never failed to bring the perpetrators of the cases we’ve been assigned to justice.

SJJ: What do you do for a living? What is your dream job?

Andy: I’m a Detective Inspector in the Merseyside Police and lead the Merseyside Police, Special Murder Investigation Team, based at Merseyside Police Headquarters in Liverpool. I run the day-to-day front-line investigations of the cases we’re assigned to, working under Detective Chief Inspector Oscar Agostini, who was once my partner when the two of us were beginning our careers as police detectives. The team was set up to handle the more unusual and sometimes complex crimes that occur within the Merseyside area, often with international connections. My dream job is exactly the one I’m now doing. When the former head of the unit, DCI Harry Porteous, retired, I was offered promotion and the opportunity to head up the unit, but turned it down as I didn’t want to spend most of my time behind a desk, and far prefer the cut and thrust of the hands-on task of the murder investigations my team is involved in.

SJJ: Tell us something about you that not everyone knows.

Andy: Not everyone knows that I have both Portuguese and Indian ancestry. Back in the 19th century, I had a great-great grandfather of Portuguese origin who married an Indian lady and established himself as a merchant ship owner, with a fleet of three ships, operating out of Macau, which carried cargo around the world. I’ve only learned of this part of my family history recently and I am involved (in my spare time), with investigating my family tree, in an attempt to trace any potential relatives still living in that part of the world, so far without much success.

SJJ: Are there any defining moments in your life that made you who you are today?

Andy: It came late in life, just after I’d been appointed as the DI to head up the Special Murder Investigation Team. It was when my new assistant and second-in-command, Detective Sergeant Clarissa (Izzie) Drake was appointed to the team. Almost from the start, we hit it off as partners, and before long we developed a special relationship and the ability to virtually read one another’s thoughts. That ability has helped us to solve more than one case and makes it so easy for us to work together. Working with Izzie has helped me to become a better investigator, and I certainly miss her at present, as she and her husband Peter recently had a baby girl and Izzie is now away on maternity leave. I definitely miss her input on the team, though I have a new Detective Sergeant in the form of DS Fenella Church who is a real go-getter type of police officer. I still look forward to Izzie’s return though and us being able to continue our unique mind reading investigative technique.

SJJ: Do you have any regrets?

Andy: My biggest regret is that I never got to know my maternal grandmother as well as I might have done. Sarah Jones died when I was quite young and was the one person who knew the most about my family’s Indian and Portuguese roots. I’d have loved to have been able to learn more from her about my family history, but I was only in my teens when she passed away and hadn’t thought about such things until I was more mature, by which time it was too late.

SJJ: Is there anyone you look up to, consider to be a mentor, either in the past or right now?

Andy: When I was a young police constable in uniform, I worked under a Sergeant Alfie Bailey. Alfie instilled in me the need to view every case as important, not to discriminate between victims and to treat people with respect at all times, not always easy, as he readily admitted. I’ve always tried to live up to his simple mantra, and hope it shows in my dealings with everyone, from my team to the victims of crime, and even, surprisingly, to the perpetrators we apprehend.

SJJ: When you think of all your accomplishments, what is your proudest moment?

Andy: Without a doubt that would be my wedding day, when the beautiful Maria Kendall walked down the aisle of the church and became my wife.

SJJ: What’s your idea of the perfect day?

Andy: Wrapping up a complex case, criminals in custody, followed by going home to Maria, and enjoying a romantic meal together before having an early night, and…I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.

SJJ: What do you do for fun?

Andy: I’m a great fan of Everton Football Club and when time permits, I love going and watching my team in action. Sadly, that doesn’t happen too often nowadays.

SJJ: What do you do to relax?

Andy: I like to relax by listening to classical music or watching one of my favourite thriller/adventure DVDs in the company of my wife, Maria, accompanied by an excellent bottle of red wine and a Chinese Takeaway.

SJJ: What are your plans for the future?

Andy: I plan to go on doing what I’m doing at present, fighting crime and protecting the public from the worst elements of our society by bringing them to justice and ensuring they’re locked away where they can do no harm. Maybe, in a few years, I might contemplate early retirement so Maria and I can take time to enjoy our lives together, but for now, we’re both happy with what we’re doing, each of us serving the community in our own way.

SJJ: If a movie was made about your life, who would you want to play you?

Andy: I’d love Liam Neeson to play me, (OK, he’s a lot taller than me, but it’s just a movie, right? If he was unavailable then I’d go for Tom Hardy, another great actor, who I think even looks a bit like me.

SJJ: Are you happy with the way your story was told?

Andy: Definitely, as no one knows me better than the author, who has presented the stories of my most important cases perfectly.

Bio – Brian L. Porter

Writing under three different names, Brian L Porter is an Amazon best selling author, with numerous bestsellers to his name.

All Brian’s novels plus his short story collection, After Armageddon have been signed for movie adaptation in a franchise deal with ThunderBall Films, including his most recent release, the highly successful A Mersey Killing.

Brian has also become thoroughly integrated into the movie business since his first involvement with Thunderball Films LLC and is now also an Associate Producer and Co-Producer on a number of developing movies, as well as being a screenwriter for many of the movies soon to be released by Thunderball.

You can find information on the works of Harry Porter and Juan Pablo Jalisco on their individual book pages.

He is a dedicated dog lover and rescuer and he and his wife share their home with a number of rescued dogs.


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