Interview with Maria Savva

Today, I’m pleased to welcome a Londoner, who happens to be one of my oldest Greek online friends. Maria Savva writes terrific short stories and loves to promote music as well as books. If you love Rock music, you’ll love the exciting resources Maria shares today!



A family saga spanning fifty years and three generations…

Cara fell for the tall, dark, handsome stranger, fifty years before. Now Frederick is about to return to her life. Can true love stand the test of time?

When Cara’s granddaughter, Penelope, flees her home to escape a violent husband, Cara’s world is turned upside down. She returns to Huddlesea, the town she grew up in. Her estranged sister Gloria is less than happy to see her again. Can they rebuild their relationship after the tragic circumstances that tore them apart?




Human nature is not neat and predictable.

What makes us betray a loved one?
Can isolation lead to irrational behaviour?
Why do other people’s lives always look more appealing?



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Nigel Price has MURDER on his mind.

He can run but he cannot hide. Nigel’s past has come back to haunt him. The truth is, his past has never left him… it follows him without remorse, catching him at every turn. There is no escape. Regret, guilt, nightmares, despair… these fill his every waking hour and disturb his sleepless nights.

Take a trip inside Nigel’s mind, in this dark, psychological thriller with a paranormal twist.



Hello Maria! Welcome to my blog!

Thank you for inviting me, Fros!

Maria, knowing what a prolific author you are, I bet you’re always working on something new. So, what are your current projects?

(*laughs*) Indeed. I’m currently working on a new novel. The first draft was easy enough to write. It only took two months and that was working around my full-time day job. The editing is a different story! I had it edited by Bob Helle who is a professional editor I found through my good friend Darcia Helle (the surname is a coincidence; they are not related as far as they know!) I then sent the book out to a couple of beta readers. One of the beta readers was Darcia. She spotted my ignorance about the difference between stun guns and tasers, and she also found a couple of other minor issues. This led to me re-reading the book and changing some bits. I am known for being obsessive about editing and every time I read the book I find more things to edit. So far the editing process for this one has been about ten times longer than writing the first draft! I think the light is at the end of the tunnel though, and I should hopefully be sending that out for formatting soon.

I’ve also started another collection of short stories. These were five stories that just came to me in the space of about the same number of days. They are at the very rough draft stage at the moment, but I’m hoping to make them part of a collection.

Any hobbies or interests that you enjoy in your spare time?

I love music and going to gigs. I started writing a music blog a few years ago for the UK Arts Directory and when that closed down last year, Maria Haskins (author and poet) asked if I’d like to join her Real Rock and Roll music blog. She’s been running that for a few years and we have a very similar taste in music. I suggested that Darcia Helle also joins us because she’s as mad about music as I am. Now the three of us have two blogs between us, Real Rock and Roll, and another one called Soundwaves Review for anything that is not-quite-rock. It’s a lot of fun being part of that blogging gang, and all the new music I’m finding feeds my music addiction (*smiles*)

Sounds wonderful! Which are your favorite authors, and what do you love about them?

More and more these days, my favorite authors are my fellow indie authors. I love the passion they have for the writing and how they keep going even when there is no sign of any reward at the end of all the hard work. Some of my favorites are Darcia Helle and Maria Haskins (my two fellow music bloggers, who also help to keep me sane!) Michael Radcliffe, who is one of the most talented authors I’ve had the pleasure to know and is also so kind and helpful; Julie Elizabeth Powell, who has written hundreds of books by now, I think. She’s a great friend and very supportive. Her writing is so imaginative. I’ll stop there, but I have been blessed with many wonderful indie author friends and the great thing is I also love their writing.

Do you have any advice for other indie authors?

Try to make sure your book is the best it can be before you publish it. The urge to publish quickly is always there, especially when you write your first book because there is a lot of excitement about getting the thing published. Publish in haste, repent at leisure. I read a lot of indie books because I like to support indie authors and I do notice lots of typos. The stories are usually great, but the editing lets them down. Just taking that extra time to polish the manuscript really makes a difference. I’d recommend always using a professional editor for novels, as well as a few beta readers. Every reader will be reading the book from a different perspective and so you’ll get more accurate feedback if you use a few beta readers.

Are there any sites or writing tools that you find useful and wish to recommend?

My cover designer Kat from Aeternum Design is amazing. She designed the covers for “A Time to Tell” and “Lost and Found”, and I’m also using her for my new novel. I used to design my own covers, but have learned that for a book to sell it has to have a certain type of cover. Professional cover designers know what sells and what doesn’t. It’s all about marketing and reader expectation of what should be on a cover. It’s like a different language. For example, I went to a conference a few years ago and was told that for a chick lit book there should always be some pink on the cover and the title should be in swirly script, and it should include a woman’s leg from the knee down.

That’s right. There are standards in images, colors and fonts so the reader is informed about the genre on a subconscious level as soon as they lay eyes on the cover. It’s pretty thrilling once you’ve delved into this. It amazes me as well.

(For the benefit of my readers, here’s a pretty awesome post on the subject on Freebooksy).

Indeed. Now, I would never have guessed most of that, but apparently it’s what sells the most. I think spending a bit of money on a good cover is worth it in the end.

Also, I’d recommend EBookBuilders for formatting e-books. I think they also do print books now too. My contact there is Deena; She’s an expert in book formatting!

Tell us about your website/blog. What will readers find there?

My website is designed and maintained by someone else because I am clueless about setting up websites. He did a great job with the design. Readers can find all my books listed on the site. I try to add news there whenever I have a new release. It links to my Goodreads blog, which is where I do most of my writing-related blogging. I’ve posted my book trailers there, and there’s information as to where you can buy the books. I’ve also added some links to other sites, and to my social media.

What do you enjoy the most as an indie author that you imagine you wouldn’t if you were traditionally published? If you had a choice would you still go indie?

I think I’d miss the freedom to publish something exactly the way I want to publish it. I’ve heard that editors for mainstream publishers will change things because they are only interested in what will sell. There is a formula for what sells books and that means that there are certain expectations. Just like the book cover design, there are things that readers want and expect. The big publishers have obviously tapped into that formula, so if I publish through them I’d probably get sales, but at what cost? I think there is a place for all types of literature. I read so much fantastic indie fiction that is being turned down by the big publishing houses. Readers are missing out on these gems. It’s like all the indie music that I’ve been discovering on my blog; there is an underground scene that no one knows about but it’s brilliant. As indies we just need to find a way to tap into the market. Obviously, if I was offered a publishing contract with a major publisher I’d consider it, but it would have to be under the right terms. I wouldn’t want to sell my soul.

What were your most and least favorite subjects in school?

I loved History, Biology, Art, and English Literature. I didn’t understand Physics. I was actually a genius at Maths until about the age of ten and then it went downhill. I failed the O-Level!

LOL! This has been a delightful chat. Thank you for your time, Maria.

Thank you for the opportunity to talk about my work, Fros.



Maria Savva lives and works in London. She is a lawyer, although not currently practicing law. She writes novels and short stories in various genres, including drama, psychological thriller, and family saga. Her short stories have appeared in the BestsellerBound Anthologies and she is a regular contributor to the The Mind’s Eye series of books. Maria is also a music blogger at Real Rock and Roll, and Soundwaves Review.




Real Rock and Roll blog:

Soundwaves Review blog:

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Interview with Yannis Nikolakopoulos

Today I’m pleased to present a different kind of author and book: Yannis Nikolakopoulos is a Greek from Australia. He writes delightful children’s books that teach the young ones Greek the fun way, while delving into the Greek culture as well. Here’s a fine sample:


Today is Sofia’s nameday and her cousins are coming to visit. She has to prepare a salad, but all the ingredients are busy in the Olympic games! Can she and Artmeis her cat make the salad in time?” The Greek Salad is an adventure in the kitchen that teaches kids their first Greek words using fun stories, characters and games. By placing the included stickers in your kitchen, you can continue the lesson and effortlessly integrate Greek into your child’s life. Written inline in English, Greek and Greeklish, no knowledge of Greek is needed for a parent to read the story in Greek to their children, and as the child grows into being able to read themselves, they can also discover the language without prior knowledge of the Greek alphabet.





Hello Yannis and welcome to my blog!

Hi, Fros! Great to be here!

What has inspired you to write The Greek Salad ?

A very strong cup of coffee in 2009 is to blame.  It was like a lightning bolt of inspiration and I had an entire series of stories and characters in my mind that would bring Greek history, philosophy, culture, and most importantly, language into children’s lives.  Since then I have fleshed out the characters, scoured the world for the perfect illustrators to bring them to life, and drafted over 40 children’s book stories, each of which is a micro-lesson in some aspect of Greek culture. The Greek salad is the first book for the youngest kids; it is designed to familiarize them with a few basic words, and to turn the act of making a salad into a fun game.

What was the first thing you ever wrote and how old were you then?

When I was 6 years old I wrote a story about the giants hiding in volcanoes and how they had to control their anger so as not to destroy the villages with lava, and a little boy who could whisper to the volcanoes and calm them down.

Oh, sounds wonderful! What other writing have you done? Anything else published?

Most of my writing is newspaper articles from the early 2000’s and since then I have been running my own film production company in which I have produced hundreds of short to medium length documentaries. I have also written and directed several short films and satirical videos online that have gone viral, most notably “Quiet signs of love”, a short romantic film for the deaf community that won awards globally with millions of views.

How impressive, well done! What are you working on at the moment? Tell us a little about your current project(s).

I am busy with the next two books in the Grammatakia series.


Firstly, The Alpha goes to Athens, which follows the adventures of Alpha as he travels through Athens searching for the rest of the Grammatakia, cute pokemon-style characters in the shape of the Greek alphabet, and blends it with a quasi guide book for tourist kids.

And secondly, Pappou’s Pappou’s Pappou where Sofia asks her pappou who his pappou was and who his pappou’s pappou’s pappou was etc. right back to ancient Greece. So that book is actually an outline of Greek history for kids.

Do you have any advice for other indie authors?

I think I probably need as much advice as I can give, but my perspective boils down to one thing: Audience is everything. The only thing that gave the old paradigm of publishers legitimacy is access to an audience through bookstores and similar networks.  It was a passive crowd that browsed stores for generally interesting new material. Today’s crowd is active. They specifically search for a particular interest, so the power of the indie author is that, unlike the older publishing model, MUST specifically target a niche need of a niche audience and  find ways for active seekers of that niche to find them, and then be able to win their loyalty and trust in delivering to that need.

The need itself is paradoxical, to be familiar but to feel new, and fresh.

The writing needs to tap into the shared space of a common belief or desire, whether that is cultural, historical or the promise that a genre holds to deliver a specific emotional experience. But on top of that shared common knowledge, it needs to innovate and deliver a fresh experience.

Yes, it’s important to find a small niche and, as you said, to deliver a fresh experience…

That’s right . . . Our writing must build on what we know and allow the audience to feel their emotions in a fresh way. That is more important than being original, to make what we experience over and over as people to feel new.

Indeed. Are there any sites or writing tools that you find useful and wish to recommend?

You can often find me typing furiously into my phone at any point of the day, trying to capture the lightning bolts of inspiration. For this I use Evernote, although any note software would work. Sometimes, if the idea comes too fast, I use the Voice recorder app, and can capture the nuances of a character’s accent or attitude as I play it out.

When I sit and write and untangle the moments of inspiration into an ordered script, I can only use Scrivener. Its snapshot feature is a savior as it allows me to destroy earlier drafts with confidence.


To make a children’s book, as with my other writing, I end up creating a universe of characters and stories to fit it into, and if this becomes difficult I use a piece of software called Aeon Timeline. It maps out all the characters and events in a story on a timeline and allows an overview of multiple complex character interactions. It’s extremely useful, and integrates nicely in to Scrivener; although paradoxically I like to manually transfer to Scrivener and use that process as a review.

What do you enjoy the most as an indie author that you imagine you wouldn’t if you were traditionally published? If you had a choice would you still go indie?

The more distance I get from traditional publishing the more clearly I see it in the rear view mirror and indie is the only way to go. As a filmmaker, my projects were judged even more harshly by how large an audience and therefore money they could attract.

But  most people do not want to make bland stories to suit a vague and disconnected broad audience that wants inoffensive writing. The indie author creates a hard core group of fans deeply connected to the subject, and the author can write much more to that passion, and deliver something of much greater value and intensity, and make it economically viable also.

Indie is the only way to go! (*gives a thumbs up*)

I may be partial, but I agree! (*laughs*) Being an author involves a lot of sitting around. What do you do for exercise?

My exercise of choice is Bikram Yogam in a room heated to 40 degrees Celsius. It’s meditation, stretching and a sauna. It is not for everyone but the value of three things rolled into one leaves more time to sit in a café, writing.

Haven’t heard that one before. Interesting. If you could have one superpower what would it be?

To sit up all night writing instead of sleeping.

What has been the most important lesson you’ve learned so far in life the hard way?

04_book 2

Start with marketing. Marketing is seen as tasteless and tacky self promotion by many creatives, and people don’t know how to do it. I specifically prioritized my Grammatakia series of books because marketing the books is not about self-promotion. The books have a real impact on people’s lives. So for me, marketing begins with what stories I can tell around the book that will honestly have a positive benefit to the reader’s life. Now that the books are selling, I am getting great feedback. I just received a video of a Filipino dad reading in Greek to his half-Greek daughter. And that means the world to me. Marketing means more than shameless promotion; it requires deep thinking so that the story AROUND the book (and before the book even begins to be written) delivers something special, unique and positive. I have abandoned hundreds of book and film ideas because, while I love them, they don’t deliver to an audience that is more assertive, demanding and knows what they want.

What are the things in your life that you’re most grateful for?

My wife and children.


Oh, and what a wonderful family it is!

Thank you. This is my wife with the real Sofia (7), Artemis (5) and our dog, Nala (5 months)

Thank you so much for sharing this, and for your time today. It’s been a pleasure.

The pleasure’s mine, Fros. Many thanks for introducing my work to your readers.



Yannis Nikolakopoulos is a writer, social researcher and filmmaker who has won awards for his short stories and films internationally, including a Webby Award. He has written for newspaper and journals, and his research documentary work has taken him deep into the lives of hundreds of people. His latest venture is to create a series of children’s books that open the rich tapestry of Greek history, philosophy, culture and language to make it attractive and exciting for kids of all backgrounds.


Book presentation:

Purchase link:




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Tripfiction: an awesome site for authors and readers

reading woman beach

Last week, I blogged about Yonndr, a site where readers can search for books set in their travel destinations – or for books set in their favorite places in general! The post was a hit and many among my author friends went on the site to submit their books. I did too, goes without saying. Yonndr have been wonderful and listed my books quickly and impeccably. Today I am back to inform you about Tripfiction, another site that’s based on this awesome concept.



Tripfiction allows refined searches, for example for the Greek island of Corfu, you can refine the search for the village of Kavos. This site also provides the option to add a review!

Anyway, I’m busy today creating new artwork to promote my Corfu-based romance, The Ebb. So I’ll leave you with this little sample that makes me chuckle. Why? The smiling Brit floating in the sparkling Ionian waters is my hubby, Andy. Ah – happy times, and I really can’t wait for my next Corfu holiday.


The process of making the images today is making me all dreamy about Corfu, so I’d better run before I bore you! I expect you have things to do, anyway, like submit (or look for) books on Tripfiction!

Have a wonderful, prosperous day!

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Interview with James Collins

Today, I’m pleased to welcome James Collins, an author who makes his home on the small Greek island of Symi. James has recently realized the dream that all authors seem to share: he’s been involved in a movie based on his own work! Join me as I ask him a few questions to find out more.


An ancient curse? Desperation in the economic crisis? What is causing the suicides of so many adults and children on this small Greek island? When Chris Trelawney arrives on the island to take away his late father’s belongings, he finds that he has been left little more than a mystery. Was his father mad at the time of his death, or did he actually believe that he had awakened a powerful evil? An ancient evil that now stalks the islanders, growing stronger by the day…



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A collection of writings that present an honest and often humorous account of two Ex-pat’s experiences of living on Symi, a small Greek island. This book also contains extracts from the symidream website and the complete guide ‘How to move to a Greek island or other place in the sun.’ “Even if you are not thinking of moving abroad this little collection will entertain and inform.”



jason create space cover front

A mysterious iron chest arrived on the island of Symi, Greece in 1882 and was immediately hidden for its own safety. 121 years later and Jason is working as a holiday rep for SARGO holidays. When his grandmother turns up as one of his guests she brings with her a locked cigarette case, left to Jason by his recently departed grandfather and given to him on Symi in 1944. The case is opened and reveals a piece of music, but the music is not what it seems and Jason and his small group of pensioners soon realise that they have stumbled on a secret that has been kept hidden on Symi all these years. A secret both dangerous and valuable. Jason and the Sargonauts is a contemporary comedy adventure full of fun and mystery, ‘A comic, camp and musical romp.’



Hello James and welcome to my blog!

Thank you, Effrosyni! It’s great to be here.

I must say, your thriller, The Judas Inheritance, sounds absolutely intriguing! And now, it’s been turned into a movie, right?

Thank you. Yes, the film is titled “The Thirteen”. It’s 99% finished and we’re now waiting for the backers to watch a copy. Then, they’ll find a distributor for us, fingers crossed (*smiles and crosses fingers*)

Good luck, James, and well done! What has inspired you to write this story?

The Judas Inheritance was inspired by two things. First, I was approached by 1066 Productions, a British film company, to come up with a story for a low-budget, indie movie. It’s a film-world fact that horror sells best, so they were looking for a good horror story but also for something that could easily and cheaply be filmed with a small cast and an incredibly low budget of £20,000.

Photography by Neil Gosling

Secondly, I have always been fascinated and enchanted by the ruined houses on Symi, left abandoned during the depression and after the World Wars. And so, I decided to write a story set on an unnamed Greek island that combined history and these dark, sad ruins.

The Judas Inheritance (later filmed as ‘the Thirteenth’) grew from that. It takes a solid ‘horror’ premise along the lines of ‘The Omen’ where historical and Biblical myths collide with the present day in the form of cursed pieces of silver, 30 of them, naturally. This curse becomes the reason for the abandoned village (and, later, spreads to become the cause of the state of the Greek economy, to give the story some wider relevance), and the ruins play a large part in the background and action.

Wow, sounds riveting! What was the first thing you ever wrote and how old were you then?

I was nearly 12 years old when the Moorgate tube crash happened in London, England. We were asked, in an English class, to write a story based on this horrific event. I know, not what you’d normally be asked to use for inspiration when at that age. I wrote a story about archaeologists exploring a pyramid that then collapsed about them. I remember this story not because it was horrible, but because I was asked to re-write it again in my best handwriting so it could be presented to the school. Hours of laborious handwriting later and I had what I would now call a reasonable second draft. The story didn’t put me on the road to writing horror (I have only written two horror novels) but it taught me valuable lessons: let your imagination flow, don’t be scared to shock, and above all, re-write until it’s written right. (Poor use of English is intended there.)

What other writing have you done? Anything else published?

I have written four full-length stage musicals (book, music and lyrics) that were staged in Brighton, England. Two of them won Arts Council Awards, one of them was also shown in London and elsewhere. I have written revues and cabaret songs, choral pieces for local choirs and other artists and incidental music for theatre companies.

You said the magic word – Brighton! And, very impressive background, I must say!

Thank you, Effrosyni.

How many books have you published?

Nine self-published books so far . . . Three are about life on Symi, Greece. (‘Symi 85600’ is a compilation of emails, letters and posts reflecting my first five years here; ‘Carry on up the Kali Strata’ is the second and contains articles, a short story and photos; and ‘Village View’ is a collection of edited blog posts through 2013, again with photos by my partner, Neil Gosling.

Two are horror stories, two are thrillers and two are comedies. One of the comedies, ‘Jason and the Sargonauts’, is also set on Symi.

I am shortly to publish a new body-swap comedy (through RC Publications, our own small indie endeavor), and am working on another comedy about Greece’s first gay civil partnership. This is called ‘Shocking the Donkeys,’ and it is taken from a screenplay I wrote a few years ago.

What are you working on at the moment? Tell us a little about your current project(s).

As usual, for me, I have several projects on the go and being worked up, even if only in my head and notebooks.

Soon we shall bring out ‘Remotely,’ a gay/straight body-swap comedy set in a small seaside town in the UK. This is all about the brainless state of British ‘reality’ and ‘talent’ show TV, but mainly about how solid friendships can be made, lost and made again through miscommunication. As with a lot of my comedy, it’s slightly camp, a little bit gay and has something to do with theatre.

Meanwhile… A few years ago I co-wrote the screenplay for ‘Shocking The Donkeys’ which was about a gay civil partnership taking place in Greece. It’s not based on the actual civil partnerships that took place on Tilos and resulted in the arrest of various people involved, it’s more about what would happen if a small Greek island (very traditional) found itself hosting a gay civil partnership between one of its own and a man from America. Civil partnerships in Greece are now legal but still cause an amount of uproar – hopefully that will be satirized in the book version which I am slowly putting together.

But also… I am working on a mystery thriller, and taking a course in scriptwriting. I shall be heading for my annual writing retreat on Tilos in June to work on this mystery, or ‘Donkeys’, or something else. So, several projects all at one time!

You keep yourself busy, that’s for sure! What genres do you read mostly, and what are you reading now?

I prefer to read autobiographies and history books but also delve into literature as much as possible. I know every writer should either be writing or reading and I am, but I am not always reading other novelists’ work. Books about writing are on the shelves, as are books about screenplay writing and the use of the English Language. Right at the moment I am reading an English history book in print version, and Thomas Hardy’s ‘The Return of the Native’ on my Kindle. The Kindle also houses a collection of books about true crimes, mysteries and Jack the Ripper. (I know!) Funnily enough I read very little comedy, which is the thing I most enjoy writing.

But then when you live on a Greek island, comedy is all around.

Oh sure! Anywhere in Greece, I believe! Tell us about your website/blog. What will readers find there?

I have been writing an almost daily blog at for about the last nine years. It is about our life on Symi and my writing. Some days it’s fun and satirical, other days it’s informative (I hope), other days its publicizing my books, or those by others that I have enjoyed, but always it’s about what I see going on around me on this small, Greek island.

It’s quite popular now, and I have loyal readers who tune in each day to catch up on my writing, film and Symi news, or to get what some call their ‘Symi fix.’ We also have a very popular deaf rescue cat called Jack, also known as The Alarm Cat due to his early morning alarm calls; he’s proved very popular and has his own following on the blog.

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As well as the blog posts and photos each day, there are links to our old Symi Dream, site that carries articles on Symi history, travel to the island, books about, and films filmed on Symi and other things related to the island and ex-pat life in Greece.

What do you enjoy the most as an indie author that you imagine you wouldn’t if you were traditionally published? If you had a choice would you still go indie?

I most enjoy the freedom that publishing through a small indie arrangement brings. Having worked in collaborative arts such as theatre, I find the freedom to write alone and for fun the biggest draw for me. However, I appreciate the importance of having someone else edit and work with me to make each book the best it can be. And yes, it would be great to have a large publishing house pick up one of my books and take care of it and sell it, but as for the publicity trail, the book signings, the interviews and all that would go with it… That’s not really for me. I am happy where I am.

So, at the moment, I can’t see me aiming for traditional publishing though I have tried many times in the past. What I really need is a secretary to handle submissions and rejection letters, not because I can’t cope with the rejections and not because I am lazy – sorry, not just because I am lazy – but because it takes up so much time and energy; resources that can be better spent on my creative writing. I admire authors such as Anne Zouroudi (Bloomsbury’s Greek Detective novels, and a friend of mine) for their persistence in not only their writing routine, but in their bashing away at publishers until their work was (quite rightly) accepted.

I understand you’ve brought some more stills from the filming to show us today. And if you’d like to tell my readers more, or to mention the cast, this would be great! I’m sure I’m not the only one who would love to see and hear more.

Thank you, Effrosyni. The film was filmed in its entirety on Symi. Local businesses helped out, local people were involved as actors and extras. Starring in the film are British actors, Richard Syms (‘Gangs of New York’, ‘The Iron Lady’), Kurtis Stacey, an actor best known for his role in the British soap drama ‘Emmerdale’, Rebecca Grant, a West End, film and TV actress, and Wookie Mayer, a very popular and successful German actress who also has a house on Symi.

The cast and crew team were made up of people from Greece, England, Denmark, Germany, Spain, Wales, Afghanistan, Scotland, America, Canada, Ireland – and a local goat. A truly multinational effort.

Photography by Neil Gosling

Starring in the film are British actors, Richard Syms (‘Gangs of New York’, ‘The Iron Lady’), Kurtis Stacey, an actor best known for his role in the British soap drama ‘Emmerdale’, Rebecca Grant, a West End, film and TV actress, and Wookie Mayer, a very popular and successful German actress who also has a house on Symi.

The cast and crew team were made up of people from Greece, England, Denmark, Germany, Spain, Wales, Afghanistan, Scotland, America, Canada, Ireland – and a local goat. A truly multinational effort.

Thank you for being here today, James, and good luck with all your exciting projects.

Thanks a lot, Effrosyni, for letting me present my work on your site!


James 2013

James is a British born writer who now lives on Symi, Greece. Having worked in musical theatre and cabaret in the UK, he moved into writing novels and travel books in 2002 when he moved to Greece. Since then he has indie-published three books about living in Greece charting his experience as an ex-pat, and six novels one of which has been adapted for film. James is also a composer, pianist and screenplay writer.

Daily blog about our life on Symi:

Links to James’ books etc.:

Facebook page:

Neil Gosling Photography:

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Interview with Peter John

Today, I’m pleased to welcome paranormal author, Peter John, for a chat. If you love ghost stories, you’re in for a treat. An awesome collection of chilling tales by the Indie Collaboration (Peter John’s brainchild) is currently FREE on Amazon! Check out these samples of his work:

Dead Medium New Cover Art50

“The Strangest Things Happen When You’re Dead.” – May Elizabeth Trump.

The deathly silence is about to be broken. She disliked the company of others and death did little to warm her spirit. She had led an independent life and she faced death in much the same way. She was finally alone, finally free from the mindless babble of others, at least that’s what she thought. May Elizabeth Trump was the rarest of spirits and she was none too happy about it either. She was a dead medium, a ghost who can speak with the living, and her services were to become in great demand. Flung into the limelight and smothered with unwanted attention, May soon discovers that it’s not only ghosts with long awaited messages that have taken an interest in her. Something dark was lurking in the shadows, stalking her. Even the dead are not left to rest in peace…




A selection of chilling stories from some of the best indie authors on the market. We dare you to venture into these pages of spine chilling tales and stories of ghosts and goblins. Freely donated by the authors themselves, these dark passages are a great example of their various, unique styles and imaginations. This is the first of a series of topical collections brought to you by The Indie Collaboration.



wrapped up

A collection of 35 poems spanning subjects such as homelessness, public transport and kitchen utensils. This poetry collection swings between being both humorous and thought provoking. Illustrated by Christopher Raven.



Hello Peter and welcome to my blog!

Hello Effrosyni! Thank you for inviting me.

What has inspired you to write Dead Medium: Not Your Average Ghost Story?

Over the years, my mother visited many psychics and mediums in a never-ending search for answers from beyond the grave. I grew up listening to her as she recounted her experiences and have even been privy to some of the tape recorded sessions. Several years ago, on probably the first and last time I accompanied her to the home of a psychic, I found myself pondering the whole concept of a medium. It occurred to me that such a person was merely a bridge between two worlds and it shouldn’t matter on which side of the river they stood; it wasn’t necessary for a medium to be alive.

I love the concept! What was the first thing you ever wrote and how old were you then?

My earliest written work, as I remember it, was a short story called ‘Thinking Crash’. It was a monologue of the thoughts, emotions and fears of a person trapped in a car directly after a major accident. I was 14 years old at the time. I wrote this story for GCSE English and was graded A. Sadly the only copy has been swallowed up by the education system never to be seen again. It was handwritten and I never had the opportunity to make a copy. I have often considered rewriting this story but I don’t believe I could capture the intensity I gave it at the time. I  now prefer to regard my introduction into creative writing a lost work.

What other writing have you done? Anything else published?

I am a founding member of The Indie Collaboration, a group of international authors who have produced several short story anthologies. I have contributed to many of these publications with either short stories or poetry.

Well done, what a wonderful idea! Which are your favorite authors, and what do you love about them?

My favorite authors are Piers Anthony and Terry Pratchett. Their books are written with unfettered imaginations; anything is possible.

Choose a male and a female character from your book and tell us which actor and actress you’d cast to play them in a film adaptation.

My book Dead Medium is available on Audible and I had to answer the same question during its production. May Trump was based on Maggie Smith, Margaret was Miriam Margolyes, Barbara was Maureen Lipman, Victoria was Julie Walters, and Deborah was Thora Hird.

Oh, so many delightful actresses – I am hooked! Tell us about your website/blog. What will readers find there?

The Trump Diary Blog

I have a blog called The Trump Diary where you will find, among other things, an ongoing prequel diary about May Elizabeth Trump’s life before Dead Medium.

What do you enjoy the most as an indie author that you imagine you wouldn’t if you were traditionally published? If you had a choice would you still go indie?

I spent a year under contract with a small publisher when Dead Medium was first released and I couldn’t wait for that contract to expire. I had no control over my book and the publisher seemed to do very little to promote it. I am much happier now as an independent author and would never sign up with another small publisher. However, if a large publisher offered to put my book on the shelf of my local Waterstones I would be a fool not to consider it.

I fully agree with you, Peter. Do you listen to music while you write and if so, what kind?

I don’t listen to music while I write, I much prefer silence. However, I have found transpiration through music. I imagined that the Squirrel Nut Zippers song, “Hell”, was playing in the background throughout chapter 18.

 Thank you for this chat, Peter. It was a pleasure.

For me too, Effrosyni. Thank you for introducing me to your readers.

Peter John

I was born in Bromley, Kent back in the early seventies. I spent most of my childhood riding bikes, playing tag and kicking tin cans around the street, unless there was an actual football to hand. At the age of fourteen I had a milestone experience. Prior to that I had never shown the slightest interest in writing, if I remember rightly I wanted to be an astronaut, but then I got put into detention one afternoon. I had failed to bring in my homework assignment and the teacher had punished me by forcing me to write a short story during the lunch time break. While all the other boys kicked tin cans around the playground, I was sat in a room on my own with a sandwich, a carton of Kia-Ora and an exercise book. I picked at the sandwich while staring at the blank pages in front of me and then it happened. All of a sudden a story formed in my head and I almost instinctively threw in down on the paper. 45 minutes passed in what felt like seconds and the short story which I had called ‘Thinking Crash’ was spread throughout the exercise book in my scruffy, barely coherent handwriting. I had never fallen into a story like that before, where my hand was struggling to keep up with my brain and I didn’t look up once from the pages until I heard the lunch bell ring. Ever since that day I have been hooked. I could have been circling the earth in a tin can and eating my dinner out of a tube if it wasn’t for that one stint in detention; I still like to consider it as a lucky escape.

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Interview with Christian Kallias

Today, I’m pleased to welcome scifi author Christian Kallias. Christian is half-Greek and lives in Switzerland. He writes fabulous space operas and makes his own covers. Check out these beauties!



“That ending! I’ll only say that I did not see it coming and I can’t wait for the next one! Read this book! Kallias does not disappoint.” ~ Van Warren 

When the evil Obsidian Empire delivers a deathblow against the Star Alliance, hot-headed fighter pilot Lieutenant Chase Athanatos leads a few survivors to a remote planet called Earth. The Obsidian Empire is hot on their trail, and now the Alliance and the planet itself are facing the danger of total annihilation…




Ten thousand years ago, the Furies nearly exterminated all life in the universe, but thankfully, a coalition of worlds led by the Olympians defeated them.

Or so everyone thought… Now they’re back and a new reign of terror has begun.




Can be read as a standalone!

“Although Initially I read Ryonna’s Trials through my Kindle Unlimited, I decided to buy it anyway… Worth reading. A solid 4.0 out of 5 stars.” –Bill Anderson (Top 500 reviewer) 

Ryonna, the Droxian who helped Chase and Sarah in their fight against the Zarlack forces threatening Earth, embarks on a mission to rescue her abducted son, Ronan. 




Hello Christian and welcome to my blog!

Thank you for inviting me, Fros!

What has inspired you to write the Universe in Flames series?

I’ve always been drawn to storytelling but it wasn’t until not long ago that I realized words would be the best medium for me to create stories. In the past I’ve worked on many projects, video games, a manga/comic crossover and other things until I realized, after a burnout in 2014, that the best way to tell my stories was through books. So late 2014 I finished a book I had started more than 10 years ago, and I quickly finished it. In June 2015 I went the self-publishing route and I’ve been writing almost daily since then. Many things inspired the series really, first and foremost the Wing Commander games in the 90s, but also Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate, Babylon 5 and Dragon Ball Z & Saint Seiya.

What other writing have you done? Anything else published?

I have reviewed a lot (hundreds) of metal music albums on a website my brother and I created back in 2000, At first my English was really poor and it hurts my eyes reading my older reviews. But over time I got better at it, and I think it was extremely helpful for me to review all these years as I got a better grasp at the English language along the way and it has facilitated the transition to writing novels.

Any hobbies or interests that you enjoy in your spare time?

I love movies and TV shows, and while I have much less time to indulge in them lately it’s still one of the few things I enjoy doing. I also love to draw. Since I have been doing traditional and digital art for more than 20 years I also used these abilities to make my own art covers for my books. I also enjoy playing video games even though I seldom have time lately. Now that most of the work on the latest book is done, I think I will take a little time and try to finish Legend of Grimrock 2 (an old school RPG that has a very nostalgic factor, as it reminds me of games like Eye of the Beholder that I loved playing when I was a teenager, but with today’s awesome graphics). I’m also looking forward to Virtual Reality games involving space combat; I have tried Elite Dangerous on my Oculus Rift devkit but I can’t wait for Star Citizen, which was created by Chris Roberts of Wing Commander fame, my all-time favorite games and probably the reason I wrote Universe in Flames in the first place.

Do you see yourself in any of your characters, or do any of them have traits you wish you had?

I think many of my characters have one or more facets of my personality embedded into them one way or another. I also give them traits I wish I had, yes. On an emotional level a lot of what I write is rooted into my own psyche, sometimes I don’t even realize it until I re-read the book and see it more clearly. The position I put my main characters in often reflects things I have had to deal with in the past or even things I deal with at the moment.

What are you working on at the moment? Tell us a little about your current project(s).

I’ve recently published the fourth book in the Universe in Flames series, The Beginning of the End, and have now started writing the next volume.

Well done! What genres do you read mostly, and what are you reading now?

My favorite genre is, hands down, Science Fiction. I also enjoy Heroic Fantasy but I haven’t read many of these since the time I read the Elric books from Michael Moorcock. I haven’t even finished the full cycle, I think I still have one or two books to read. These days I read a few books on how to improve my writing as well as books on how to publish successfully as an indie author. I’ve also started Darkspace from Jasper T. Scott last week.

Choose a male and a female character from your book and tell us which actor and actress you’d cast to play them in a film adaptation.

Chase Athanatos & Sarah Kepler. It’s an interesting question and I would have to say finding which actor to cast for a movie adaptation isn’t really that easy. For Sarah I could see Scarlet Johansson playing her role. For Chase I would have more difficulty singling out a specific actor. A non-exhaustive short list would be: Ben Browder, Michael Shanks, Freddie Prinze Jr., Travis Fimmel, John Cusack or Shane West.

What do you enjoy the most as an indie author that you imagine you wouldn’t if you were traditionally published? If you had a choice would you still go indie?

I absolutely love the freedom that going indie has provided me. I am very much a control freak when it comes to my stories. I’m not sure how I would react if I was told to remove a character or a scene from one of my books if I had gone the traditional route. I love that I can control every aspect of what I publish from beginning to end. That is not to say that being an indie writer is a dream every day of the week. There is a lot of work that needs to be done outside of writing, such as maintaining a social media presence or building a platform that takes a lot of time – time that I often wished could be spent writing more. It’s still a very interesting journey but I never imagined when I finished writing my first book how much time I would have to invest in these other tasks. But to answer the second part of the question: Yes, definitely, I would still go indie. That’s not to say I wouldn’t accept a traditional deal if one came my way, but I haven’t even tried that route yet. I like having 100% creative freedom, doing my own covers and not having anyone tell me what I should change. I do listen to my readers though, and sometimes I make corrections on my books when they point out something that can be improved.

Do you listen to music while you write and if so, what kind?

Yes, about ninety percent of the time. I think it helps me focus on my task. Suffering with adult ADHD, I’ve noticed that listening to music while I write allows my brain to not get distracted by other external stimuli and helps me gets focused for hours on end. I listen to metal music. It’s a very large category so I can listen to very calm hard-rock or much more aggressive melodic death metal. I usually whip up a huge playlist of 100+ songs and put that in the background when I write. Metal has always been part of my life and I even use metal band names for some of the ships in my books. When I was done with the first draft of my first book, Earth – Last Sanctuary, I contacted bands I knew (Axxis, Iron Fire, Far Beyond, Euphoreon etc) to ask them if it would be okay to use their band names as names for my battleships in the series. I really wonder if any reader has picked up on that. My previous work reviewing these bands’ albums on made it a very simple process; I was thrilled that they all looked forward for me to use their band names.

If you could have one superpower what would it be?

Why can’t have I more than one?

Be my guest! (*chuckles*)

(*laughs*) I think flying would be the main one but I would love to be able to cast fireballs as well. It’s a tie between these two, but I could probably whip up in no time at all a list of twenty plus abilities I’d like to have. I never like to restrict myself to one of anything in life really – with the exception of love partners (*laughs*). Kinda goes against my personality. I am someone who can get bored quite easily and I tend to always look for something new to do, to learn, to experience. I definitely struggle with routine of any shape or form, but then again that may be tied with ADHD and how my brain works.

I understand you have brought some pet photos to show us today!

Yes! I brought photos of my hamsters and cat. Here are two of my three hamsters, Obiwan and Screech.

How cuddly! And this cutie? Oh look at those fangs!

Yes, even though her name is Daisy, I’ve nicknamed her Vampirella because of the long fangs.

Adorable! Thank you for this wonderful chat, Christian.

Thank you for introducing me to your readers, Fros!



Photo by Valentina Kallias

Christian Kallias was born in Geneva, Switzerland. As a teenager, he was forever imagining stories, enjoying video games and creating various art projects. His novels reflect many of his favorite things, like Wing Commander, Star Wars, Star Trek and Babylon 5. Christian’s utopian aspirations for a better world where humanity shines and evolves towards a higher level of civilization, often find their way into his stories. As his surname suggests, he has Greek roots and often dreams of life in Greece. The rest of the time, he plots space operas and fantasy stories at home in Switzerland. He lives with three hamsters, Patate, Obiwan and Screech, and a cat, Daisy, who has prominent fangs and is nicknamed Vampirella.

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Interview with Stephanie Wood

Today, I’m pleased to welcome Stephanie Wood, British author of the Aegean Sun series. Stick around to see her old photos from Kos and catch a glimpse of the sights and experiences that inspired the books. A couple of the books are currently discounted to 99c (and 99p in the UK). Grab your copies while this limited time offer lasts!


This fast paced contemporary story takes place at the Aegean Sun Hotel in Greece over the summer season. Focusing on the various visitors who stay in room 101 on a weekly basis, it interweaves with the stories of the hotel staff and holiday reps based there over a six month period. The karaoke nights, bar crawls, barbeques and boat cruises are enjoyed by some more than others, but they all have a tale to tell. Several characters are open and honest whilst others keep secrets from their fellow holidaymakers, reps and even their own partners…




Follow the escapades of some of the holidaymakers who stayed in Room 101 at the Aegean Sun Hotel to find out what happens when they leave the freedom of their holiday and return to the routine of their lives back home. Discover the after effects of a Greek holiday on characters who are seeking a better work/life balance, those who are navigating a more serious relationship, and those preparing for an unexpected addition to the family which is not wholly desired by both parties…





Meet the office girls: Janet, Carla and Melissa. It’s another hot Greek summer season and they have many issues to deal with, both in their workplace and in their private lives, but just how much does one affect the other? Janet is settling into a serious relationship, until outside influences start pushing her towards a future she may not be ready for. Carla embarks on a new romance, oblivious to the secret anguish this arouses in her close friend. Melissa is searching for Mr Right, although Mr Rich would be more preferable…



Room 101 balcony


Hello Stephanie and welcome to my blog!

Hello Fros! Thank you for inviting me!

How did the AEGEAN SUN series come about? Can you tell us a little about the inspiration behind it?

When I worked as a holiday rep in Greece I had a lot of interesting experiences which were always a good topic of conversation among my friends, and they often said I should write a book about some of the more amusing incidents. I promised myself that I really should do it one day…

Years later, I was on holiday in a budget hotel where the bathroom light flickered annoyingly and I was regularly woken at dawn by the maids chattering loudly as they removed their equipment from the storage cupboard on the other side of the wall. I began to wonder who else had stayed in that room and how they had reacted to the same problem. I had enough experience working with the general public to realise that although many would have stayed quiet (as I did), others would have caused a scene and the rep would’ve had to handle things diplomatically if they wanted to stay on speaking terms with the maids! Suddenly, lots of scenarios came to mind and I started jotting them down, giving the viewpoint of both the rep and the holidaymaker and the first book quickly took shape.

At the time, I was staying at the Aegean Sun Hotel and I was in Room 101, so it seemed perfectly fitting to use that as the title, plus it’s an easy number for people to remember.

I wrote the book from the viewpoint of what happened in that one particular room, but it was clear that the characters’ stories didn’t finish there and a sequel quickly followed to show how the after effects of that holiday unfolded. The rest of the books have been a natural progression of getting to know some of the regular characters better whilst still keeping the excitement and surprise of new visitors in unexpected situations.

Sounds delightful! I used to clean rooms in Moraitika, Corfu in the 80s at a family guesthouse and know what you mean about amusing incidents… Any hobbies or interests that you enjoy in your spare time?

I love reading, of course, but I can’t read as much as I used to now that I’m constantly writing or promoting the books. Usually, I set aside an hour or so before bed to unwind and lose myself in some fictional landscape without any other distractions. If I can find an hour or two in the afternoon sometimes it’s a real treat!

I also like to watch some sports on TV. I used to be fitter when I was younger, but two decades of back problems mean that it’s safer to watch these days! I enjoy golf, Twenty20 cricket, cycling and tennis. I was lucky enough to see the Becker v Edberg final at Wimbledon in 1988 and I’d love to go again. In the winter I love watching bobsleigh and ski jumping, although I wouldn’t go to watch those in person as I can’t stand the cold and much prefer warm, sunny skies!

What are you working on at the moment? Tell us a little about your current project(s).

The Aegean Sun series is an ongoing project, so I usually have one book being edited at the same time as I am writing the next – not to mention all the scribbled notes which will form the basis of the one after that! Luckily I am up to speed with these books, which now gives me time to work on my new seasonal series of quick reads: Christmas on The Close.

Last November I released the first in the series – aptly titled The First Christmas – but I was not ready to publish any of the others as I wasn’t satisfied with a few scenes here and there. Also I wanted to organize my covers so that they would be recognized as a series and hadn’t found the right person to assist with that side of things. This year I am preparing the next three books for Christmas publication with appropriate covers for the genre, which have just been finalized.

By the way, the characters in the books frequently refer to where they live as ‘The Close’ as though it’s a person’s name, which is why I have capitalized it in the series title… it’s not a misprint!

Which are your favorite authors, and what do you love about them?

I have recently finished reading the latest Jodi Picoult book so, having read them all so far, I’m eagerly awaiting her next publication. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend her books as, even though some are better than others, they all tell quite different stories with important messages buried within the characters or storylines. She does a lot of research into the subjects she writes about but it doesn’t often impede the narrative; it generally enriches it so that you can understand why some of her characters take opposing viewpoints.

I also love reading Paulo Coelho. Again, not all his books have hit the spot with me, but most of them have awakened an understanding of a different way of thinking. He describes a person’s character, or a beautiful location, or a scene of devastation with such poetic language that it has an almost ethereal quality. He creates a world where you are happy for him to push the boundaries of comfort so you can discover where that journey will take you personally. I would say it can be a challenging, but still an enriching experience.

Yes, “ethereal” is a great way to describe Coelho’s writing… Choose a male and a female character from your book and tell us which actor and actress you’d cast to play them in a film adaptation.

Ooh, that would be exciting… However, I think the books would work better as a TV mini-series, so I’d be thinking of small screen rather than Hollywood actors!

The first one that comes to mind is Zoe who has a vulnerable side, but can be quite feisty and isn’t one to give up – I think that would have to be Michelle Keegan (ex Corrie).

As for Michalis; he hides his real feelings behind a mask of arrogant bravado, but underneath he is passionate, devoted and a bit of a sweetie! I would love to see Luke Pasqualino (The Musketeers) play him as he actually looks very similar to the guy I based the character on…

Being an author involves a lot of sitting around. What do you do for exercise?

As I have recurring back problems, I attend regular physio sessions where I’ve picked up quite a few exercises that are easy to do around the house. Obviously they are more like what you would do in a pilates or yoga class, rather than anything too energetic, but I did a lot of ballet at school and I still like to dance a little now and then.

I sympathize about the back problems… From my own experience, yoga is a great way to keep the spine pain-free. Describe your workstation. Are there any favorite objects you have there for inspiration?


Actually, no. I like a very clear workspace, as you can see from the photo. I need to have no distractions, just my notebook and a good imagination. When I have to walk through a scene in my mind I gaze out of the window to the peaceful open space of the garden. It metaphorically turns the page onto a new location and it encourages the flow of new ideas while giving my eyes a temporary rest away from the screen.

Do you listen to music while you write and if so, what kind?

I absolutely love listening to music, anywhere and everywhere – except when I’m writing! I sometimes have relaxing classical music playing when I am going through my previous work or filing notes into a usable order, but once I start it has to go off! I did have a meditation CD I used to play at a low volume, but I would only notice it had finished a couple of hours later when I came to the end of my writing phase; it wasn’t distracting, but I didn’t notice it anyway so I stopped using it and now I love the silence. The music comes later when I’ve fulfilled my target for the day!

If you could have one superpower what would it be?

Speed-reading! I have so many books waiting to be read, I just can’t imagine when I’ll get through them all. Unfortunately, during some conversations I have let authors know that I have bought their book and I know they are waiting to find out what I thought about it, but I just haven’t had the chance to read them yet.

Who is your favorite poet? Quote a couple of lines from your favorite poem.

I used to read poetry quite a lot after studying Wilfred Owen’s verses for O level exams. There was so much despair, longing and obligation in his words that I was inspired to read anything I could get my hands on. After living through countless poets’ expressions of wonder, frustration, love and disenchantment I started writing some poetry of my own and realized that it was an extremely personal experience.

Now I find that different poets suit different moods and I’m often surprised by the poetry of song lyrics on the radio which waft over me, arouse an emotion and then pass by leaving a pleasant aftertaste. It’s refreshing and light-hearted, but when I need a bit of strength I find it in the final words of Invictus by William Ernest Henley:

“I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.”

I love this, and it’s one of my favorite affirmations. Thank you for this delightful chat, Stephanie!

Thank you too, Fros, for introducing me to your readers.


Stephanie Wood was born in the North West of England and has returned there after working in Europe for several years as a holiday representative. She made the decision to change career after a wonderful holiday in Kos, accepting contracts in Spain, Malta, Cyprus, and a handful of Greek islands, but found she was happiest working in the place which had originally inspired her. Now, with regular visits to catch up with her Greek friends, she treats Kos as her second home and writes fictional stories about the kind of people who might go there to work or to spend time in its hotels and cafés.

So, if you visit Kos one summer and find yourself having a relaxing lunch in a beachside taverna, watch out for the woman in the corner, scribbling madly into her notebook with a satisfied grin on her face…

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Interview with Ayesha Shoulders

Hello! Today, I’m pleased to welcome Ayesha L. Shoulders, an author who loves to incorporate life messages in her contemporary fiction novels.


Mariah Langston has a life many women would envy. She has a great job, a nice house, a luxurious car, and a boyfriend who understands her every need, even when that need is to not get married…for the third time. When he breaks rule number one in their relationship and proposes out of the blue, Mariah must overcome her worst fears. Will she give marriage one more try or is love just knot enough to save her relationship with the man of her dreams?

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Lies, Betrayal, and Secrets – Can friendship overcome all three?

Shellie Simone’s dream job as a Project Manager for an IT company turns into a nightmare when she finds herself the victim of sexual assault in the workplace. When she reports the perpetrator to Human Resources, the VP tries to stop her by bribing her with an increase in her salary. Shellie decides to confide in her friend Standra, who is having some serious problems of her own concerning a mutual friend. Three women will become involved in a whirlwind of major life events. Will their friendship survive the storm or is it Time to Walk Away?

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Hello Ayesha and welcome to my blog!

Hello Fros, thank you for the invitation.

Tell us a little about your writing journey. How did you become a writer?

I was inspired to write at a young age after reading series such as The Baby-Sitters Club by Ann M. Martin and Sweet Valley High by Francine Pascal. My love for reading an entertaining, attention-getting book—no matter the genre—definitely contributed to my wanting to publish my own work someday, which I’m happy has come true with two books now published. I self-published When it’s Time to Walk Away in May 2011, and When Love’s Knot Enough was published by French Press Bookworks in April 2015.

Any hobbies or interests that you enjoy in your spare time?

Lately, I would say sleep is on the top of the list. I know, I know… I can’t really use this one since it’s something we all have to do, but I love to take a long nap whenever possible to keep up with my ever growing to-do list. In addition, I enjoy serving in my church ministries and as the Vice President of the Northern Virginia Writers Club, shopping for unique and trendy shoes (yes, I’m a big time shoe lover), and spending time with my six-year-old son—I saved the best for last: I’m also a football mom!


Oh your son is so cute!

Thank you, this photo was taken at a Halloween event, well, obviously! (*laughs*)

Delightful. Thank you for sharing this, Ayesha. Do you see yourself in any of your characters, or do any of them have traits you wish you had?

I see myself in my characters Shellie Simone and Eboni Gilliar from my first book, When it’s Time to Walk Away.

Shellie always put her friends’ wants, needs, and problems before her own. She was even blindsided when her best friend, Strandra Wilcom, from childhood tried to use her in a plot to steal their friend’s husband (you’ll have to grab the book to see what happens!). She never thought Standra would do that to her after being such a loyal friend from the beginning. I too encountered those same experiences with others, but as I have matured from life’s experiences, my thought process has changed.  I’ve transitioned into someone more like Eboni’s character. Eboni was the strong-willed character in my book. Yes, she faced challenges in her family, but she never allowed them to make her crumble. She also doesn’t give into other people’s insecurities. She knows who she is as a woman and remains true to those standards regardless of what she has to face. This is why I enjoyed creating Eboni’s character. I firmly believe my joy and inner peace do not come from people, so why should I allow them to steal it from me? I refuse to let that happen!

Good for you, I say! What are you working on at the moment? Tell us a little about your current project(s).

Currently, I’m working on starting a new blog focused on Women, Love, and Romance. Readers can join my mailing list from my website to receive email notifications for new entries that I post.  I’m preparing to start posting next month in April.

Good luck, and I hope you get lots of followers! Which are your favorite authors, and what do you love about them?

I would say Emily Griffin. I remember the first time I read her book “baby proof.” I thought the storyline was so cute. I enjoyed the book so much that I couldn’t put it down. I also love the simplicity of her book covers and how her books focus on topics that readers can relate to and be entertained at the same time.

What genres do you read mostly, and what are you reading now?

I love to read Chick Lit when my schedule allows, but I’m not solely bound to this genre of fiction. I’ll read anything that has an intriguing storyline, great characters, and keeps me engaged. I met author Peter G. Pollak last year at a conference and decided to purchase his murder mystery, Making the Grade. I typically don’t read murder mysteries, but I decided to read the synopsis on the back of his book because I liked his book cover (book covers play a major part in me picking up a book to read more).  The synopsis sounded interesting, so I decided to give it a try! I’m glad I did.

I recently started reading “Put a Ring on It” by author Beth Kendrick. This is my first time reading literature from this author.

Do you have any advice for other indie authors?

Learn as much as you can about the publishing industry. You have to look at being an author as a business and you’re the owner, whether you choose to self-publish or go the traditional route.  It will be your name on the line. This means having a basic understanding of the marketing, financial, sales, and networking elements that are involved in becoming an indie author.

When you take the time to build your brand and learn the ends and outs of the publishing business, you will know when something can be done when someone else says it can’t. Most importantly, never give up! When I first started appearing at book signing events, I was so excited. I didn’t care if I only sold one book (thankfully, I always walked away selling more than that); I always thought that was one more person who didn’t know about Ayesha Shoulders before who now does.

Just remember you’re not alone and there are other authors out there who understand the different challenges and victories you’ll encounter as an indie author. Consider joining a writers group and attending conferences as well. There’s a wealth of information available out there for you, but you won’t get it staying at home. If you can learn from another author what works and what doesn’t when marketing your book, then this will be a big time and money saver for you in the long run.

Sound advice, Ayesha, thank you. Tell us about your website/blog. What will readers find there?

Readers can find a host of information on my website. I provide access to a list of my books, up-to-date calendar events, posts from my blog, and testimonials from professional reviewers. I also have a Bio that visitors can read to learn about me as an author and a contact page where they can reach out to me. I love to hear from readers and other authors, so I do respond in a reasonable timeframe when I receive an inquiry.

Do you have any other photos to share today?

Yes, two more. I recently discovered my artistic side again at an art studio. I attended a class called Walk in Paris and painted the picture you can see here. In another life, I would have gone to art school instead of college for business and computers!


That looks fantastic, well done, Ayesha! Thank you for this interview and for the lovely photos you shared!

Thank you too, Fros, for the opportunity to present my work.


Author Ayesha L. Shoulders

Ayesha L. Shoulders is an ambitious woman who lives life to the fullest. She has a passion for writing jaw-dropping contemporary fiction that is relatable and sprinkled with a life message. Ayesha self-published her first novel, When it’s Time to Walk Away, in May 2011. Her second novel, When Love’s Knot Enough, was released by French Press Bookworks in April 2015. Ayesha loves to connect with readers on Facebook and Twitter. She can also be contacted at her website.

Ayesha’s Amazon page

Ayesha’s website



Women's fiction sprinkled with life messages by @ayeshashoulders #ASMSG #booklovers Click To Tweet
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Interview with Doug Cooper, author of the Crystal series

Today I am thrilled to welcome Doug Cooper, scifi author of the riveting Crystal series. Check out these stunning covers and stick around to meet the scientist behind the novels!

Crystal Deception-ebook

Criss lives in a special kind of prison. He can see and hear everything around the world. Yet a mesh restrains his reach and keeps him cooperative. His creator, Dr. Jessica Tallette, believes his special abilities offer great promise for humanity. But she fears the consequences of freeing him, because Criss, a sentient artificial intelligence with the intellect of a thousand humans, is too powerful to control…

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Crystal Conquest - Ebook

Crystal Conquest, book II in the Crystal Series, builds on the exciting storyline and characters you first met in Crystal Deception. While Crystal Conquest stands on its own as a great read, book I, Crystal Deception, delivers a solid story foundation and is the recommended starting point for new readers.

Aliens fire the first shots in their invasion of Earth, and that’s when Criss realizes he’s outmatched. He spent years preparing for this moment, working with his human leadership to develop weapons and refine strategies. Created with the thinking and reasoning ability of a thousand people, Criss never expected the invaders to arrive with an artificial intelligence that dwarfed his capabilities, nor did he expect to be the target of their vengeance…

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Crystal Horizon - Ebook

This prequel takes place five years before the time of Crystal Deception, where we meet Cheryl as a captain of a military space cruiser and Sid as a covert warrior for the Defense Specialists Agency. We learn in Crystal Deception that Sid and Cheryl have a shared history and, in particular, a romantic relationship that has somehow gone awry. In this prequel, we join them on the day they first meet and we experience that history with them…

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Hello Doug and welcome to my blog!

Thank you, Effrosyni! This is quite a thrill.

What have you been up to? Tell us about your latest project.

I am now finishing Crystal Rebellion, the third full-length scifi-suspense book of Crystal series, and I am very excited. I love the story, think it’s my best work yet, and am anxious to learn if my fans and new readers agree.

The first two books, Crystal Deception and Crystal Conquest, established the characters and defined their world—Earth in the not-to-distant future with aliens at our door and AI helping with our defense.

This new book is different because it introduces our heroes as an established and functioning team rather than one in the process of self-discovery. I’ve written the story as a stand-alone book so new readers can start with it and enjoy the fun.

The setting is on Mars, and the bad guys are three AI crystals left behind after the last alien invasion of our solar system. The story contains all the grand elements of the Crystal series tradition—aliens, spies, artificial intelligence, romance, and battles in space!

Our heroes struggle to save the world and soon realize they need to save themselves. I’ll leave it at that as I don’t want to reveal any spoilers. I invite everyone to give the book a read when it is released in August, 2016, and enjoy the ride!

Sounds like a riveting read, Doug. What other work and writing have you done?

I am professor of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Connecticut.  I also am founder of Control Station, Inc., a software and services technology company. These are both exciting endeavors and consume the bulk of my day.

In these professional roles, I have authored or co-authored more than 80 scholarly publications, including technical journal articles, conference papers, and a textbook. All that writing gave me the basics I have been building upon for my creative work. It also has given me lots of practice presenting science and technology concepts in a manner accessible to a broad audience, and this is something I draw upon in writing my books.

What inspired you to take up the life of a writer?

I was looking for a new creative outlet in my life and started chasing a handful of ideas. I storyboarded a series of webcasts to go with my online textbook (, I outlined intellectual property ideas for a new technology company, and I tapped away at my keyboard writing a science fiction novel. Within months, my writing morphed into a passion and I dropped my other projects to give myself more time for it. I’ve been at it for about four years and my writing time remains a most treasured part of my day.

For the Crystal series, my goal is to write books that I would enjoy reading. My preference is fast-paced, action-adventure stories with great characters, a space tech theme, and a plot line with surprises.  I leave it to readers to tell me if I succeeded in that goal.

How do you get ideas for your characters? Do you model them after people you know?

None of my characters model a particular person. Rather, they all are a collection of traits and habits that I have observed in people, through reading, or from movies.  I write in a rotating point of view (POV) style where the reader spends time with each of the central characters, sometimes in different story lines that eventually merge as the plot develops. It’s great fun to sit down and “be” a character for a few days, observing events, drawing conclusions, and responding appropriately as that portion of the story unfolds.

I would describe my process for developing a character as much like building a jigsaw puzzle. I enjoy being at a particular point in an adventure, with characters deployed here and there, all with histories and in certain situations, and now I must move the story forward in a plausible and entertaining fashion. And in doing so, each character must behave in a manner consistent with their personality.

Which authors influenced you and what do you love about them?

As a kid, I discovered Tom Swift, Jr., a young adult science fiction series. In different books, Tom builds a flying lab, a jet submarine, a giant robot, a rocket ship—I was in heaven. During my teens I gobbled science fiction, reading authors like Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke, and Bradbury. I started mixing in fantasy authors, ranging from Tolkien to Piers Anthony to Zelazny.  Now, too often I find myself reading best sellers, because that’s what’s available in airports when I travel.

Many among the authors I’ve interviewed have a pet as a writing companion. Do you have one?


Yes, I do! My wife got a kitten about six months ago—Bailey Cooper. He gets up with me every morning and hangs out in his perch, watching me type. That is, until he gets bored. Then he works hard to distract me. 🙂

Oh, he is so beautiful! And I have a cat too, I know what you mean! Do you have any advice for new authors?

Write every day and have fun doing it. Writing is art, and so there will be people who like what you do and those who don’t. So like any art form, do it for yourself. Write what brings you joy and satisfaction, and you will produce the best work you are able to.

One way to practice is to write pieces and then stick them in a drawer. An alternative is to write things that will help society. Your neighborhood library, museum, senior center, or shelter all have access to grant opportunities and would benefit from a talented individual willing to help them write one. It’s hard work. It’s only creative to the extent you can spin the circumstances of the organization you are supporting to the requirements of the granting agency. But I know that anyone who writes a dozen grant applications will be judged a dozen times. It’s frustrating work, but like practicing your scales on an instrument, this sort of activity strengthens writing skills.

Great advice, thank you Doug. Is there a message in your novel that you hope readers will grasp?

My highest priority is to entertain. The educator in me reveals himself, though, because my next priority is to teach. I spread those pieces out so (hopefully) no one notices. But I enjoy weaving tidbits about science and technology into the stories.

For example, in a scene in Crystal Conquest, a character is in space looking back at Earth, marveling that the atmosphere responsible for protecting and nourishing all life appears as a thin layer—a wisp of gas—circling the planet. The scene continues with him wondering how that meager film can feel so thick and boundless when standing on Earth and looking up at the sky.

So, perhaps next time readers see a picture of Earth taken from space, they might take a moment to consider if “meager film” is an accurate descriptor of the atmosphere that protects us. If they agree and this is a new observation to them, perhaps it will inform their future thoughts and actions about how to treat that wisp of gas.

In the books, you can find a science-filled sentence or two about AI inference engines, orbital mechanics, automatic control systems, cloaking devices, and lots more, all buried in the stories so you don’t even know!

Why did you choose to become an indie author rather than follow the traditional publishing route?

I chose the indie route for a number of reasons: I’m anxious to get new works out to readers in a timely fashion; I want to maintain long-term control over the work, and I am excited by the entrepreneurial challenge.  Self-publishing has all aspects of the small business enterprise, including product creation, branding and marketing, finance, project management, and intellectual property concerns. I love exploring ways to pull those levers to advance my writing career.

Well, Doug, this has been a real pleasure. Thank you very much for your time.

Thank you, Effrosyni, for this opportunity to talk about my work.



As a child, Doug stood on a Florida beach and watched an Apollo spacecraft climb the sky on its mission to the moon. He was thrilled at the sight of the pillar of flames pushing the rocket upward. And then the thunderous roar washed over him, shaking his body and soul. The excitement of the moon landing inspired Doug to pursue a career in technology. He studied Chemical Engineering in college and now works as a professor and entrepreneur when he is not writing. His passions include telling inventive tales, mentoring driven individuals, and everything sci-tech.

In the books of the Crystal series, Doug swirls his creative imagination with his life experiences to craft science fiction action-adventure stories with engaging characters and plot lines with surprises. He lives in Connecticut with his wonderful wife and with pictures of his son, who is off somewhere in the world creating adventures of his own.

Visit Doug’s Amazon page

Visit Doug’s website





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Follow the blog (see right sidebar) to get notified of all future posts. Sign up to Effrosyni’s newsletter to receive her news and special offers (very sparse emails). Head over to Effrosyni’s Blog, where you’ll find delicious Greek recipes!