Light at the End of the Tunnel


Well, it’s done. The last scene needed to complete the manuscript for book three of my Papilion Trilogy, Berserker, is done. All that’s left to do it to blend the snippets into the main story, to diligently consider the beta readers’ feedback I received (some of which is still on the way), and then hit the last rounds of editing.

I won’t lie. I felt like giving up. This has been the toughest year in writing yet, and there were more than a few periods when I felt like walking away. It’s tough to be a writer, tougher when resources are financially out of reach, when human resources are scarce (reviewers, beta readers), and when Life keeps getting in the way. Discouragement and lack of motivation were constant enemies; we wrestled a lot.

When I started The Purple Morrow four years ago or so, I had one book in mind. I purposely wrote a simple story, being that it had a complex theme : exploring self-doubt and loss and what it takes to move on, in a fantasy context. That grew to two books—Wolf’s Bane literally became the bane of my existence for 2 years, and Berserker—well, yeah. I was often two hairs shy of losing it more than once. … …Funny how the book titles see, to reflect my mental state at the time of writing…

Anyway, the end is in sight. Berserker started as a writing challenge :  write a million words in a year. I started out great—in two months I had about 50k or something. But then I hit a block and let the manuscript sit. I worked on other things while periodically going back and adding to it. But there were challenges, the main one being: How to write a satisfying trilogy ending? Some people have been faithful, reading all the books, they are invested in the characters and what’s happening to them, screaming at the end of book 2 and rabid for more–

Don’t you sometimes feel that writing the ending of a story is tough? So coming to writing the ending of a trilogy…

I was afraid of screwing it up.

Actually, I lied. I haven’t written the ending yet. But I will. I’m waiting for the editing to pull the story threads together to inspire the right ending in order to satisfy my readers. Fingers crossed.

Anyway, I guess this is a thank you to everyone who has read my books, who has motivated and encouraged me with their comments and feedback and support. Know that you played an important role in getting this project finished. 🙂

So, back to work! Still lots to do but at least now there is light at the end of the tunnel.

I’d love to hear your writing stories, both good and bad. Are you struggling, or riding the wave of success? Tell me about it 🙂



Re-Wired – by Greg Dragon (featuring Dyane Forde) for One Breath Books

I interviewed Ned Hayes, author of Sinful Folk, a while back. Months later, I got an email from him with a very interesting offer:  Would I like to contribute to “A book podcast with very quick reviews of books. One Breath for each book…”

Say what?

Well, I gave it a shot and here it is! You can read the full written review here. But if you’d rather be moved and caressed by my lovely voiced (ha!), click on the link below and be transported to the world of Rewired. Oh, and if you’d like me to review your book, contact me for a review exchange. Your book could end up being reviewed in One Breath.



Crossroads and a New Direction

Sometimes we come to a crossroads in our lives where we have to make a choice and/or change direction. For the last little while, those of you who follow my blog might have noticed a sharp decrease in the number of posts and overall level of activity. There are a lot of reasons for this, but the foremost reason is that I have been steadily coming to that Crossroad in my life personally as well as creatively.


I am a writer, and I am a Christian. The latter isn’t something I broadcast with a bullhorn, as I’ve always felt more comfortable just living and doing my best to show who I am by actions rather than words. Words not backed by actions are empty anyway; I guess I figure why waste precious breath?

I’ve been online for years, participating in various groups and interacting with numerous people, and one thing has struck me: there are a lot of Christians Creatives like me (artists, writers, actors, musicians) floating around cyberspace. I can really only speak to the writing world since I know it best, but I’m thrilled to see the variety and innovation of what these Creatives have produced. I was never a fan of the ‘western’ Christian romance novels that were all the rage (and standard) throughout my teen years, for example, and I craved the imagination-stirring visions offered in my favorite secular science fiction and fantasy novels. Over time, quality offerings in these genres became more common in Christian bookstores (yes!). However, when compared to Bibles and devotionals, fiction, and more specifically, speculative fiction, remain but a small portion of what is consumed in the marketplace.

So where am I going with this?

I want to do my part to change this. I know how hard I’ve worked over the last few years to learn my trade and to improve my craft, and I know I’m not the only one who wishes to make more of an impact with my creations. Also, despite all the contacts and connections I’ve made, I’ve never really found ‘my place’–I often feel caught between the secular and Christian worlds. I figure I can’t be the only one. So, I’ve been turning over a bunch of ideas of how to better support Christian Creatives (and not just authors) and I have some thoughts, including the start of a new blog and other services for that purpose. But I’d also like to hear from other Christian Creatives out there: What do you think would be helpful in order to improve exposure, support, community building, etc?

For those who are wondering, this blog will remain but it will continue to be writing-oriented and independent of my new endeavor. 🙂

Thanks for reading! If you have comments, drop me a line below. Have a great week!


Author Feature: Maggie Tideswell, Paranormal Romance Author


Please welcome Maggie Tideswell, paranormal romance author, to Dropped Pebbles! Today she stops by to share on a subject that’s close to her heart, a piece she entitled… 

I love the paranormal romance genre! 

Let’s face it, love really is all around us and it is love, not money, that makes the world go round. Even when you read a murder mystery or a horror novel, there are romantic elements in it, because people fall in love all over the place and in any kind of a setting. People find each other in the most unexpected or dangerous situations. It is human nature.

People want to be scared. Fear gets the primitive fight or flight response going. And that is where the paranormal comes in. When I say paranormal, I don’t mean zombies and vampires. Creatures with tentacles and many teeth also don’t interest me. Those are not scary and only have entertainment value as far as I am concerned. Don’t get me wrong, I am not putting authors of those genres down, all I’m saying is that those elements are not what I write about. I am interested in what isn’t visible to the eye, things that go bump in the night, ‘nothing is as it seems’, and witches getting up to mischief or doing genuine work to help. And ghosts, of course.What fascinates me about romance is firstly what characteristics attract people to each other enough to fall in love and secondly, what traits keep them in love for a lifetime when one in three relationships fail. This is the mechanics behind relationships, a throw-back from studying psychology at university.

We all have those creepy little experiences of something moving just at the edge of your vision and when you turn to look, there is nothing there. Or the sound we hear for which there are no logical explanations. And who of us haven’t known what was going to happen next or what somebody was going to say, before it actually happened? This is what is termed déja-vu.


People are not always what they seem. It is a known fact that people represent themselves in the best light and what they show to the world is only the tip of the iceberg of their personality. I like to say people wear ‘masks’ to hide their true selves from others, for reasons of their own.

But my biggest interest is ghosts and why some people seem to get stuck on the earthbound plane after death. I even joined a paranormal investigation group, but I am yet to come face to face with a ghost I could have a conversation with. I have been told I look too hard and that was why I am unlikely to see a ghost, but I do experience them. On one occasion I had fallen asleep on the couch and I startled awake with the distinct feeling that somebody was leaning over me. There was nobody there, but the room had been freezing. It was the middle of summer.

Romance in combination with the paranormal is what I write. Instead of placing my characters in mortal danger of burning buildings, an erratic gunman or in the path of a tidal wave, I scare them with what they cannot see.

Cover - CoupleThe first book in my new series about bridesmaids, weddings and honeymoons was published on 1 July 2015. In The Run-Away Couple, it is more Piper’s perception of Marcus that was a bit skewed. To her he was a nuisance because that was how she got to know him growing up. When she thought of Marcus at all, it was to anticipate his next humiliating prank. And now Piper’s sister appointed her and Marcus to be maid-of-honor and best-man at her wedding. Disaster, for Piper at least. And of course there are things happening that scared the whatnot out of Piper. Would it be better for her to keep Marcus with her and risk another prank, rather than being alone?

Want to know more about Maggie Tideswell and her books? Have a look here:

Author Interviews

Author Interview with Psychological Thriller Author Maggie James

829 resized 2I’m so happy to present today’s interviewee, psychological thriller author Maggie James. Stick around and meet this talented author!

It’s great to have you with us, Maggie James. Can you start by telling us a little about yourself?

I’m a British author who lives in Bristol. I write psychological suspense novels.

HKS_blogI wrote the draft of my first novel, His Kidnapper’s Shoes, whilst travelling in Bolivia. What inspired me? A combination of an impending milestone birthday along with annoyance at having procrastinated for so long in writing a novel. Ever since childhood, my dream has always been to be a novelist but I’ve only achieved it recently. His Kidnapper’s Shoes was published in 2013, followed by my second novel, Sister, Psychopath. My third novel, Guilty Innocence, like my first two, features my home city of Bristol. I’ve recently published my fourth novel, The Second Captive.

Before turning my hand to writing, I worked mainly as an accountant, with a diversion into practicing as a nutritional therapist. Diet and health remain high on my list of interests, along with travel. Accountancy does not, but then it never did. The urge to go off travelling is always lurking in the background! When not writing, going to the gym, practicing yoga or travelling, I can be found seeking new four-legged friends to pet; animals are a lifelong love!

Where does writing fit into your life, and what keeps you motivated/inspired when discouragement sets in?

I’m now a full-time writer, which is wonderful. When I was a child, being a novelist was all I wanted to do as an adult; it never occurred to me that things might not turn out that way. Sure enough, they didn’t. As a young adult, I lacked confidence, telling myself I didn’t possess enough life experience to write a novel. I procrastinated for several decades, until my fiftieth birthday loomed large on the horizon. That was enough to galvanize me into action, and I’ve been writing ever since.

GuiltyInnocence_BlogI’m blessed in being able to write full-time; I doubt I’d have accomplished as much over the last four years if I was still working as an accountant.

As for discouragement, from what I’ve read online, it sets in occasionally for many authors, myself included. When it does, I remind myself of my overall goal to be a successful full-time novelist. That’s enough to spur me on.

As a reader, what do you think makes a good story? What have you learned to never do in your own writing?

I think good characters are essential. They don’t need to be likable, but they should be interesting and believable. Sometimes I read a book in which the characters resemble cardboard cut-outs, with no individuality, no quirks. For example, middle-aged women dressed in twinsets and pearls, dumpy, and with graying hair. That’s clichéd, as well as boring.

The other essential is a plot arc that flows well. There don’t need to be twists, turns and sensational events in every chapter, but loose ends should be tied up and everything makes sense. The last novel I read contained a scene in which the protagonist held two people hostage but also let them go. Not sequentially, but at the same time; the author must have been deliberating between two outcomes and forgotten to remove one. It made for disjointed reading, that’s for sure!

When it comes to reviews, do you have a thick skin? How do you handle negative feedback?

I suspect the majority of writers have skins as thin as tissue paper when it comes to reviews. I do. A great review has me dancing with delight; a bad one can dampen my whole day. No matter how good the book, it’s inevitable it’ll attract adverse comments; it’s impossible to write a novel that wows all readers. It’s all part of the learning curve for writers. I tend not to read my reviews anymore, and I certainly would never respond to them, whether they’re good or bad. That’s on the basis of advice I’ve been given by more experienced authors, and it makes sense. Reviews are written by readers for other readers, not for the author. A writer’s time is best spent writing.

Reviews aside, I deal with negative feedback every time I send a new novel to my beta readers. That’s fine, and I have no problem with it. I don’t want them to respond with glowing praise – that wouldn’t provide me with the feedback I need to improve the book. Instead, I’m seeking to know what’s wrong, so I can put it right before publication. So long as my beta readers are tactful (and they are), I’m fine with them telling me what doesn’t work with my book.

What draws you to your preferred genre? Why do you think it’s so popular?

SecondCaptiveBLOGI’m fascinated by human behaviour and how the mind works, so it’s natural for me to gravitate to psychological thrillers. I believe we’re much more complex than conventional psychological theories can explain, and our behaviour provides fertile material for novelists like me. The genre is certainly popular, and I suspect that’s because other people are as interested as I am in human quirkiness. Take my last novel, The Second Captive, which deals with the fascinating psychological phenomenon of Stockholm syndrome. It’s hard for many of us to imagine how somebody can become emotionally dependent upon their captor/abuser, but it captured my imagination as soon as the idea came on my radar.

Can you tell us about your books? What other projects are you working on?

SP_blogSo far I’ve published four psychological suspense novels, and four non-fiction books from my time as a nutritional therapist. I don’t plan to publish any more nutrition books, but I’m currently working on another non-fiction offering. So many people have said to me that they’d dearly love to write a novel, but haven’t a clue where to start. I’m hoping my book will plug that gap. Once it’s finished, I’ll write another psychological suspense offering – probably a novella that’ll be free to anybody who’d like to read my work. After that, another novel. For now, I intend to stay with the psychological thriller genre, but further down the line I may diversify. Possible future genres include dystopia and erotica.

What advice would you give to new writers, especially those looking to break into your genre? Advice on marketing and selling? 

I’d advise new writers to set up a website, and probably also a blog, before they publish their first book. I wish I’d done that. As it was, I hadn’t a clue what I was doing; my focus was on writing my novel, and I didn’t give any thought to learning about book marketing or creating a website. Oh, the benefit of hindsight!

I’d also say that wannabe novelists should read widely in their chosen genre. What else? Well, I’d advise anyone, if their spelling punctuation and grammar isn’t up to scratch, to brush up their skills or find a good editor. Many otherwise good self-published novels are marred by such issues, and it’s increasingly common to find typos in traditionally published ones.

As for marketing, there are many great books available from Amazon that can give far better advice than I can. Identify your target audience, and then decide how to reach them. Get included in book recommendation emails and become proficient with social media. Learn about SEO and keywords.

Finally, I’d advise new writers to grow a thick skin. The Internet can be a brutal place. There will always be people who delight in flaming you and doing their best to drag you down. Ignore them.

How can readers get into contact with you?

I’m very active on social media, and I’m always happy to gain new followers and friends. I also blog weekly on all topics of interest to fiction readers, including author interviews and book reviews. Why not take a look?

If anyone wants to contact me directly, they can do so via my website. Here are my links:

Website and blog:




Google+ :





Why not drop Maggie James a message below or go visit her on her links? I’m sure she’d love to meet you and talk to you about her books. Thanks for reading!