Children are Little Sponges

Holly be careful what you say, children absorb information, innocent listeners 4 Comments

child listeningHow many times have we seen adults talking to each other over the heads of their children as if those tiny people are deaf. After all the child is looking around while standing near their parents as if the words being said are of no interest. That parental assumption is a big mistake. Our little ones are sponges with fully functioning ears. They may not be indicating they hear but they do.

So what are these children overhearing? Disparaging comments about themselves or family members? That can be damaging and hurtful. Perhaps they are learning insults or swear words of which they don’t know the meaning but the tone of voice attracts them. What is said can seem innocuous to the adult…but is it?

Let me give you some examples from my own childhood. I recall standing next to my mom as she registered me for first grade. I was looking around the room and appeared to be inattentive. The woman at the table asked her if I should be placed in a slower learning environment or a more accelerated classroom. My mother answered. I was placed in the slower classroom. A week later found me clutching my pencils and crayon box as I was moved to the accelerated classroom. At that moment my mom’s words took on a deeper meaning.

Sometimes the conversation floating above the child has serious notes that won’t be realized for some time. I was very young when Joe McCarthy’s anti-communist hearings were going on. Before WW2 many disenchanted college aged students had joined the communist party in a search for an alternative political system in a time when our country was working though big issues. It was an innocent choice that took on serious connotations when Hitler rose to power.

I remember adults talking about one couple in our community who had joined the Communist party in just that manner. The conversations I heard were about if they were to be trusted– if they were good people. I must have asked my grandmother something about all of this strange talk because she took me to a school play starring one of their sons. I watched that young man on stage and remember thinking that he looked so normal. He didn’t even have horns! At that moment I just shuffled the overhead conversations into the “grown-ups don’t make much sense” file in my head.

Roll forward about twenty-seven years. My son was a toddler and we were going to Grandma’s house for Christmas. As I was getting ready to get in the car I was listening to the TV playing in the background and a news item stopped me in my tracks. It concerned that same family I had heard about as a child. Someone had followed the McCarthy era controversy, had heard the stories and believed the demonization that was floated about them. The nut case had broken into one of the son’s home, tied the family up and bludgeoned them to death.

These examples may seem extreme but the damage–from mild to catastrophic– is real.   Please think before you speak and do not disregard who may be listening…even if it is a child.

HollyChildren are Little Sponges

Read: It’s as necessary as the air you breathe!

Holly Books, Dreams, Learning, Readers

Screen Shot 2015-01-18 at 9.56.03 PMIt’s interesting. I recently saw a sign that said, “Read More Books than Blogs” and here I am writing a blog post. I think I understand what that person is saying but it doesn’t have to be an either/or sort of things. That would be like saying just fiction is worth reading…or only non-fiction books are worthwhile. Actually I’ve found that you can glean information and truth from both kinds! The key is to READ!

I have the interesting pleasure of working with my five-year-old grand niece. She’s in kindergarten and they’re expected to be reading a little by the end of the year. She is a smart child but her learning pattern isn’t the usual audio/visual-wham-bam-I’ve-got-it. The teachers are stretched thin and this little one is slipping between the cracks. She has already learned how to guess and fake it as well as how to wiggle and avoid to give herself thinking time to come up with the right answer. Neither technique works all that well and she is slipping further behind.

There are several things I need to work on simultaneously: Learning strategies and focusing, confidence, phonics and sight words to name a few. If we can get a handle on those elements this child will soar. So-far-so-good but we have a lot of ground to cover before May. Wish us luck!

Reading is so important. There are people who aren’t big readers for a variety of reasons. In some ways that makes it rough as the world is spinning faster everyday. I think it’s extra important for this upcoming generation to be able to read as more and more information is thrown at us and we need to sort through it and analyze. I won’t say that you can’t accurately evaluate information without reading… but it certainly helps. Otherwise you are vulnerable of getting your information from other people’s spin.

When my son was in school he too had a different learning modality and was being lost in the system. Working with him every night did wonders and in one years time he moved up five grade levels in his reading. Woot! Success! The teacher wanted him to read a variety of genres and got a bit nasty because he wasn’t interested in biographies but preferred science fiction or Sherlock Holmes. Good grief! He was reading! Wasn’t that the main idea? Today he’s primarily a non-fiction reader and while it is a trifle sad that he will never read my books I’m delighted that he is proficient. That’s a valuable tool he takes through life.

Books, blogs, newspapers, magazines, internet articles are all wonderful and each have flaws but the more you read and learn the better you are prepared for dealing with life. Yes, read them all! Give your kids comic books and picture books when they are small. Encourage them. Reading is an incredible gift.

Thomas Jefferson once said, “An educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people.”

And education starts with reading.


HollyRead: It’s as necessary as the air you breathe!

In the Spirit of the Season: Pay-It-Forward

Holly Cancer, Friends, In the Spirit of the Season, Innocent Victims, inspiration, Pay-It-Forward, Reach out and help, strength to overcome

This is the season where people of many different beliefs celebrate special days. We get caught up in our plans, our shopping and decorations. It’s easy to do …but today I’m asking you to take a moment and do just one thing for someone who is hurting. Perhaps they are hungry, need a coat or scarf or are ill. Can you give of your time or spare something you have which they can use?

I’m typical of many. Our business gets frantic busy this time of the year. There are deadlines that have to be met. People need their table (or other furniture pieces) back to them before the big family dinner or holiday party. It’s our job to meet those dates. At the same time I have gifts to make, a story to finish, dinner to plan and a house to decorate.

Into this whirlwind my sister contacted me. She asked if I had time to crochet a hat for a toddler of two and a half. The little girl has cancer and is going through chemo. She won’t have hair during Christmas and the cold winter months. How could I say no?

We all have our troubles but sometimes when we stack them against someone else’s worries…ours pale in comparison. Cancer has not touched my family but I’ve lost wonderful friends to the disease. This is a child! It makes my heart bleed that she and her family are going through this. So– I made time and have sent two hats. I hope they brighten this child’s day.hats for the child

So I ask of you…please pay-it-forward. Do something for someone less fortunate. It will mean so much and that is the spirit of the season. For me the wish is Merry Christmas but I’m not so narrow that I don’t recognize that there are many other celebrations out there. Happy Holidays everyone. If you can…give the gift of caring.

HollyIn the Spirit of the Season: Pay-It-Forward

Tell Captain America, “I’ve got your back!”

Holly elections, inspiration, News, persevere, Personal responsibility, politics, Veterans, Vote

UnknownIt’s November and thoughts drift to things happening this month. In the US we start the month by voting on the first Tuesday and move to Veterans Day on the 11th. In my mind the two are related in a way. Individuals who are willing to put their lives on the line for us, help protect our freedoms. They deserve to be honored. Those of us who are not part of the armed services are the ones who have dropped the ball. I’ll get to that in a moment.

The roots of Veterans day began on November 11,1918 with the cessation of fighting in the World War 1. It was the first time a war had been fought on that global scale and was called “The War to End All Wars”. Unfortunately that label didn’t prove accurate and later it became a day set aside to honor veterans of all wars.

We now have another related holiday for our vets, which in my mind is a little confusing as the two overlap. It is Memorial day which is celebrated on the last Monday in May honoring those veterans who have died while serving in the armed forces. Don’t get me wrong. I think the vets deserve two holidays for the work and risks they take, it’s just the definitions of the two holidays that seem redundant.

Be that as it may, these soldiers are doing a service so we can be safe at home and have certain freedoms. Voting is one of those privelages and yet many Americans just can’t be bothered to vote! There are countries where voting is mandatory and their turn out is in the upper 90%. In the US  it isn’t a must  but a please take this responsibility seriously. Our numbers are not that impressive. During the presidential elections we might have about 57% but with the midterm elections it’s frequently less than 40%. I personally find that shameful. This is our duty to our country and is one way to honor our soldiers. It is saying, “Thank you, troops. We’ll do our part to protect our freedoms.” Our voting participation is backing up our troops and saying to our leaders, “I’m watching you and you need to listen to what I have to say!”

I have friends and relatives who don’t believe that voting has any impact. I get that. The politicians are bought and aren’t paying much attention to the good of the people. But it is a question of which came first. Was it voter apathy which left a vacuum which was filled by monied interests? Or was it campaign finance policies that allowed the money to talk the loudest? Either way you look at it there will be no getting back control and our voice without a concerted effort to vote.

Everybody plays a part. Do yours. If you are too young to vote at least stay informed. Volunteer your time and talk to people. When you come of age and can vote, be active and don’t let one election go by without your participation. You may think your vote isn’t listened to but trust me, when you don’t vote your silence screams that you don’t care and the politicians will listen to someone else.




HollyTell Captain America, “I’ve got your back!”

What is Steampunk?

Holly Dreams, fantastic alternate timeline, Fantasy creatures, other genres, society & culture, steampunk

Steampunk photo

There are delightful aspects of steampunk that draws interest. If you are into cosplay nothing beats a fantastic steampunk outfit: Corsets, brass goggles, top hats or newsy caps, pocket watches and fascinating sci-fi level gadgets. A blend between the Victorian steam-powered world and advanced machines. Wow what a combination!

There was the Wild Wild West series and decades later a movie with the same name. Both fit the above description but when I began reading steampunk, I realized it really is poorly or loosely defined. Some were labeled steampunk but had little of the four core elements. So today I’m going to take a crack at defining it.


Let’s start with the fact that the world has to run on steam: cars, dirigibles, trains, factories all steam powered. That places the general era as sometime from 1870 to 1915, roughly, if the story takes place on Earth though it’s really an alternate timeline or history. It fits as a sub-genre of science fiction or science fantasy so it can take place on another world as long as all other characteristics are correct.


Elements of that time period set the society in an early industrial frame complete with the tug of the problems that era had. It was gritty with old social standards yet going against convention (which is the PUNK in the title).

The era had the very rich and the very poor. Factories were becoming the main working situation but regulations were not necessarily in place. It was free-wheeling and fanciful yet at the same time outlandish, dangerous and possibly grotesque. Sometimes the change is handled through the players of the story. Kick-ass heroines step out of the Victorian norm to be cutting edge, society changing characters. Other times the culture itself is on a pivotal point of transformation.

The birth of the change between the old and the emerging new opens up with the fantasy inventions that are liberally sprinkled in the stories. Steampunk could be seen as Victorian science fiction. Believe me, that’s a fascinating part of it’s charm!


Steampunk has the romance of that bygone time yet has incredible, futuristic inventions and mechanicals that run with gears, clockworks, primitive computers and pressure plates. It can have robotics from household helpers to war machines and these inventions are woven into the life and story line.


There can be magic (shades of Harry Potter) or can have elements of Sherlock Holmes. Fantasy creatures can be present as can elements of the occult but these are secondary to the above core elements: steam, change and fantastic mechanicals.

I hope that helps. I’d love to hear your input as it is a fascinating genre. Go forth and read Steampunk!  :D


HollyWhat is Steampunk?

Michelle Franklin’s Blog Tour

Holly Uncategorized

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Follow the tour!
Today I’m pleased to host Michelle Franklin for this stop on her blog tour. I’ve read,  enjoyed and recommend The House Guest. It’s a wonderful tale for the young and young at heart.
When winter comes early to Frewyn and the first snowfall of the year traps a young mouse in her home, fate brings an old mole to her door, but is the young mouse prepared for all the challenges that catering to a fussy house guest can bring?

Buy the book atAmazon | Smashwords

Children’s Books That Inspire Me: Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

It was one of the first books I read by myself once I was old enough to do so, and though I can remember enjoying it, I can certainly say that at the time I had no idea what it was really about. Black Beauty, like most classical literature, is often grouped into the children’s genre and I cannot really understand why. The book was not written for children; Sewell wrote it as means of helping readers to understand the torment that horses underwent in the Victorian Era, and while readers sympathized with the character of Black Beauty and the book revolutionized the way many Victorians treated their horses, the book became marketed as a children’s story. Of course Black Beauty can be read by children, and what young child obsessed with the idea of having her own pony doesn’t want to read a story of a horse who is saved from torture, but there are lessons in Black Beauty beyond just being good to animals that might be lost on a younger audience. There is a deeper meaning to the text which is missed by the average nine-year-old. To a young child, it’s nothing more than a very good story with a moral, but to the adult it’s an exquisite tale of cruelty, abuse, redemption, and the power of true friendship. It tells the story of Black Beauty, a carefree colt who is bought, sold, and traded several times over the course of his life. He is called by many names and is many different things to his various owners: a cab driver, a conveyer, a steed, sometimes a friend, and other times a mere beast of burden, but always valuable and always a companion to the other horses he is paired with. Though Beauty endures much suffering throughout his life, he is always hopeful and thinks the best of men, even of those who mistreat him most. Given the overall dark tone of the book, beginning with the death of a rider, and the gravity of the prose, I cannot understand how Black Beauty is still being considered as a children’s book, but so it is. My love of the story has inspired me to write from an animal’s perspective on numerous occasions, encouraging me to express how they might think and feel. If you have only read Black Beauty as a child, I urge you to go back and read it again, and I can guarantee that the text will have much more meaning the second time around.

About the Author: Michelle Franklin is a small woman of moderate consequence who writes many, many books about giants, romance, and chocolate.

Follow the author at: Website | Facebook | Twitter

HollyMichelle Franklin’s Blog Tour

The Chain-Letter Blog Tour

Holly adapting, author, Author interview, Blog tour, Dreams, Friends, Fun Social Network, Indie YA Books, inspiration, Jade Kerrion, New world, Paper Crane Books, Patience and writing, persevere

1.edgy Holly PhotoA while ago I was tagged by my friend and fellow indie author Jade Kerrion to participate in a chain letter / ongoing blog tour. The idea was to have fun and to pass that convivial moment forward. So without further ado…

What am I working on?

Just a few days ago I finished Sunstone. It is a sci-fi / steampunk / thriller. Where my Sage Seed Chronicles series flowed fairly easily out of my fingertips and were written quickly, Sunstone and I have played ‘Twister.’ (Anyone remember that old game?) It started as a futuristic sci-fi piece with elements similar to a few in SSC. Those were ripped out and, taking the remaining threads, I bent and braided it into the early industrial steampunk time frame with strong parallels to our contemporary world. Sunstone is currently with its second beta reader. When it comes back to me in a few days I will finish my edits and send it on to Paper Crane Books. It may get out late this year.

Currently I’m mentally plotting a fantasy short story which will complete my multi-genre collection called Tendrils.

How does my work differ from others of this genre?

My writing has been somewhat hard to classify. Basically I write crossover between genres and age categories.

I like to separate my stories from the here-and-now because I’d like the reader to see the story with fresh eyes instead of slipping into a predisposed mind set. I invent a fictional world to do that, complete with believable science and mechanics. That makes it a soft sci-fi. I also add elements that are not necessarily possible which puts it in the fantasy genre.

In the SSC series most of the characters were adult but my protagonists were seventeen. To be classified as Young Adult fiction usually means most of the characters are in their teens and dealing with teen related issues inside the story. Primarily my lead characters are dealing only with adults and at the tail end of the growing-up-and-finding-themselves process. So technically the Sage Seed Chronicles can be classified as YA but it also has appeal to people of all years. Crossover.

Sunstone, and my short story anthology, Tendrils, won’t be YA.

Why do I write what I write?

I write what appeals to me. When I was a teen I needed to deal with adults. I also moved around a bit so anchoring my middle and high school experiences with one set of friends was impossible. I write stories of all ages working and blending together as I think that’s closer to reality. At least it was mine. *grins*

The stories come from inside me and have different layers. For instance I live in a beautiful area and am very conscious of eco balance, niches….. My publisher says my voice is green. That doesn’t necessarily mean wacko tree-hugger. It means that I weave eco themes with things that are on the news or that concern me. Have you ever watched the news and wanted to throw something at the TV set? I have, so I make my own worlds and I fix things my way.

How does my writing process work?

It starts with an image or an idea. If it intrigues me I examine it from all sides and see if I can stretch and embellish it. I build layers for the world to work. Then I add the adventure, thriller aspect. I weave in memories, concerns and liberally mix with my imagination. I do this until I have at least half of a story in my head and on an outline.

I mentioned that Sunstone mutated as it grew. There were a few scenes that were the early kernels of the idea for the book. I liked those and kept them even as everything else changed. It was a bit of a mess for awhile as I filled and refined around those disparate pieces. I really hope I don’t write another book that way again or you may find me committed to a padded room. Whew! Tough going!

So the short answer would be that inspiration comes from my core beliefs, my concerns, my memories and imagination. *smiles*

Now I’m suppose to tag three authors. I would rather the writers tag themselves and answer these few questions. Just reference me so I can see who passed this baton.

So those writers who read my blog posts, I’m throwing down the challenge. Have fun!

HollyThe Chain-Letter Blog Tour

GEM: Linda Lee Williams

Holly author, Colorado, Dreams, Friends, GEM Feature, Linda Lee Williams, Paranormal romance

Today’s GEM is Linda Lee Williams. She is an author that has become a friend and she writes Paranormal Romance. I’d like to share an excerpt with you from her book Elsewhere. Linda

First here is the blurb to set the scene:

When Errol Fleming moves in across the hall from Andie McNaughton, her life takes another unforeseen and perilous turn.  Sweet, shy, and a bit reclusive, Andie has enough phobias to confirm that she’s “crazy.”  Beautiful but imperfect, Errol bears his own disability.  Despite the challenges their relationship faces, they decide to take a chance on each other.

Their future is threatened, however, when she hears a voice and dreams about “Noah.”  She begins having visions of the handsome stranger and traveling in her mind to a mystical tropical island.  Errol’s haunting dreams about the island and Noah’s obsession with Andie only add to the mystery of what’s happening…

Is Noah a figment of Andie’s imagination?  Or does he exist in an alternate reality?  More important, can Errol save Andie from Noah and the idyllic world she’s escaped to?  Or will he lose her to her phantom lover?

EWFinal-smallElsewhere by Linda Lee Williams

He leaned over to kiss her lips.  They were dry and cool, not at all the way he remembered them.  Her fair skin, which normally blushed at the slightest provocation, was colorless, as if the life had already been drained out of her, and her spirit wasn’t far behind.  It made the deep bronze hair that framed her face seem even darker.

“Andie,” he whispered, close to her ear.  “Andie, please hear me.”

Errol sighed in frustration.  He had to find the right words.  Words that could break through the barrier of the other world she had escaped to in her mind.  Something he could say that would convince her she belonged here, not there.

His grip tightened on her arm, as if willing her to pay attention.  “Andie, wherever you are, wake up.  Wake up and listen to me.  You can’t leave me, Andie.  You can’t.  I need you, more than you ever needed me.  I know I’m not perfect, like he is…but I’m real, and what we have together is real.”

For a moment, he thought he detected movement behind her eyelids.  He kissed her lips again, more firmly.  “I’m here, Andie, and I love you.  I love you, just the way you are.  You’ve heard voices in your head before.  Damn it, hear mine.”

Intrigued? Contact or find Linda at these links:


HollyGEM: Linda Lee Williams

GEM: Jennifer Theriot..& 7 more

Holly A Special Deal, Aubree Lane, author, Blog tour, Cherime MacFarlane, Diane Rinella, Dreams, Friends, GEM Feature, Jennifer Bryan Yarbrough, Jennifer Theriot, Kelly Cozzone, Linda Lee Williams, personal heros, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Romance, Sammie J, Uncategorized, Veterans

Today I’d like to feature a great author that I met online. Jennifer Theriot writes in the romance genre and when I first approached her with the idea of this feature she gave me information for Out Of The Box Regifted which is the second of her series. I will share that with you BUT since that time she has joined with seven other authors in a wonderful effort. For 30 days eight authors are bringing you 8 novels in Love, Honor, & Hope. All proceeds benefit The United States War Veteran’s PTSD Foundation….and some of those days are up. This is a phenomenal opportunity to pick up eight books together for 99 cents AND give money to help our veterans with PTSD. On this week where we celebrate our independence day it is truly the time to help our veterans.


The authors who have contributed their books to this Love, Honor, & Hope volume are: Jennifer Theriot, Aubree Lane, Jennifer Bryan Yarbrough, Diane Rinella, Kelly Cozzone, Linda Lee Williams. Cherime MacFarlane and Sammie J

You can get this great e-boxed set at:

Please help our veterans. Check out this book. Meet new authors and build your summer reading library.

Now to share with you more about Jennifer Theriot’s sequel to the book (Out Of The Box Awakening) she is offering in the above set.

Jennifer Theriot has given us the next chapter of Olivia’s journey as she discards the meek, obedient wife role and morphs into the free spirited, determined woman who not only deserves to be loved, but commands respect from those in her life.  Can she maintain her courage to seek what she needs to be free from the past, while clinging on to what Ash offered her as a future?

Here is the blurb for Out Of The Box Regifted:J

Betrayal, Lies, Loss, Truth, Secrets…..

With a new beginning for Olivia and Ash on the horizon, what could possibly stop them from finding their happily ever after?

In order to move on, Olivia must face the haunting demons from her past life with Alan, her ex-husband. Demands and more betrayals will force her to come to grips with things she couldn’t change and practice forgiveness not only for those in her past, but for herself as well. 

Faced with his own hidden secrets, will Ash allow Olivia to stand by him?  In the midst of happiness, this blended family will find they will also have to trust in the love and family bonds to get them through what is coming next or they will self-destruct. How long can Ash keep parts of his life hidden from those who love him?

Will Olivia be able to gain the confidence she needs to explore the new life Ash is offering while staying true to herself?  Can she let go of the need to know the whole truth and be willing to trust what she’s building with Ash? 

You can find this book on Out of The Box Regifted eBook: Jennifer T…

And there is a blog tour coming up also:

HollyGEM: Jennifer Theriot..& 7 more

An Interview With Author Will Macmillan Jones

Holly author, Author interview, Chocolate, chocolate-toffee, comic fantasy, dragons, Fantasy creatures, Friends, hobgoblin beer, humor, inspiration, interview at the pub, Summer Reading, Taste bud delight, Wales, Will Macmillan Jones, YA

bio photo

Todays author interview is with comic fantasy writer Will Macmillan Jones who lives in Wales. My virtual airplane and flight crew are ready and as we taxi down the runway I pull out my notes.

I met Will online in some writer groups and was charmed with his humor and irreverence. It is a delightful and healthy way to view the world that few master. (I’m sure he will outlive many of us.)

Wales is a lovely green, verdant land with a rich cultural heritage. He tells me he does his best to support this heritage by drinking the local beer and shouting loud encouragement whenever International Rugby is on the TV.  A fifty something lover of blues, rock and jazz he has just fulfilled a lifetime ambition by filling an entire wall of his home office with full bookcases. (An admirable goal I can get behind.)

Will has asked that we meet at a pub he frequents: The Uplands Tavern, Swansea. He says it has a small band with two guitars and one harmonica.  I just hope I can hear his answers but I’m game and it sounds like fun.

My virtual plane touches down a few hours early and I use the time to see some of the sights in the beautiful countryside. Living in the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. I fully appreciate his lush green world.

I make it back to the pub by early evening and find Will at a corner table. This is a busy place with a lot of people around the bar, talking and laughing. There are photos and portraits of Dylan Thomas hanging about the place, with some famous lines painted on the walls at an angle as decoration. Nice spot!

Will had his favorite Hobgoblin beer in front of him. We had talked about the brew before I came. I’m not a beer drinker. The various American beers I’ve tried have left me less than ambivalent to the drink but I googled his Hobgoblin and it sounded quite tasty. It’s brewed with special malts and hops to produce “a full-bodied, Ruby beer that delivers a delicious chocolate toffee malt flavour, balanced with a rounded moderate bitterness and an overall fruity, mischievous character.  Yum, right? I get one too and soon we’re comfortable and enjoying the atmosphere. We manage the interview by adapting to the ebb and flow in the friendly din. During a break between sets we begin:

What experience do you want for your readers?

I think of myself as an entertainer, Holly.  I can’t sing, can’t dance, and have been accused of sending my guitar tutor into depression.  So I write to entertain.  Not to move my readers to deep emotions, but mainly to make them laugh, and sometimes forget their cares for an hour.  I know a lot of ‘serious’ writers who win proper prizes and stuff who frankly forget that bit of the craft: but for me it is the whole point of writing.

Are any of your character traits or settings based on real life?

I’m bone idle, Holly.  That’s not a boast, but an acceptance of my character.  So all my settings are based in real life, and all my characters are people I know, or have met.  I may be a fantasy writer, but the very best fantasy is based on real life, don’t you think?  Who knows what might happen if you take that small turning in the road that you haven’t seen before… where you might go…who you might meet… every day can be an adventure and every turn lead to a fantasy if you keep your mind and eyes open.

What are you currently working on?

I’ve presently got five different projects I’m playing with.  There’s the sequel to Snort and Wobbles, my first book for children: the second in my paranormal/horror series about half finished, and of course I’ve always got a Banned Underground novel – or two- on the go.  I also have a YA fantasy work with a cracking first chapter to finish.

Do you have any writing advice you would like to share with aspiring authors?

Yes: do NOT do what I did.  My first release, The Amulet of Kings, was initially written over 30 years ago now.  Once it had gained an inevitable and enviable collection of well-deserved rejection slips it lay mouldering under my bed for 30 years.  What a waste.  I could have become driven, exhilarated and frustrated  (the normal gamut of emotions per day for most writers) much, much earlier if I had stuck at it instead of giving up.

But I would also advise writers not to rush to self publish.  There’s a reason many manuscripts ( not all, of course) get rejected – and often it’s because they are awful.  Mine was.  Three rewrites later, it got me a contract, but it needed those three rewrites.  And now I’d give my eye teeth to be able to rewrite it again, and make it so much better than it is.  Be patient and practice .  I don’t pretend to be any good at this, but I know that I’m better than I was three years ago.  Keep writing, and you’ll get better too. 

Tell us about your most recent release.

The most recent is Snort and Wobbles.  This is aimed at children, aged 8 – 10 who love having bedtime stories read to them and are becoming confident at reading for the first time themselves. The story is about a young girl who loves dragons, and then meets one living at the bottom of her garden.  I envy her every day, which is probably why I wrote her in the first place… There’s dwarfs and Goblins in the story, and a big brother to be rescued.  It’s a traditional childrens’ fantasy, and seems to go down very well with the target audience.  Possibly because there’s a little bit inside me that is still eight years old and looking out every day in the hope of seeing a dragon at the bottom of my garden.

When did you decide to become a writer and why?

I didn’t.  It just sort of happened.  I started writing stories and poems when I was eleven, and never really stopped.   After I had left school I did a lot of writing at work, although of a more technical nature.  Thinking about it, since I worked as a taxation advisor, I suppose it was mostly still fantasy even then. And of course I wrote the first draft of Amulet of Kings in my mid twenties.  One thing I do regret: I made up a lot of stories to read to my kids at bedtime, and never wrote them down.  I’ll have to try and recover them from memory some day.

What inspires you in your writing?

Places, mainly.  I love the Lake District in England.  If you have never been, google it – it is one of the World’s most beautiful areas.  In fact the characters for the fantasy collection (The Banned Underground) came to me one day when I was lying in the sunshine on top of a rather large hill called High Street. Actually, the highest Roman Road in the UK runs along the top of the hill, as a matter of interest.

I do a lot of solo hill walking, and being in the wild places, alone with your thoughts and a notebook: well that’s a brilliant place for any writer to find themselves.

Who is your favorite author?

Sir Terry Pratchett.  Not just a great author, but an immense human being and an inspiration to anyone who picks up a pen or opens a laptop.  His books shine with his humanity and warmth, and the way he has dealt with the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease is astonishing.  Interviews are pretty much beyond him now, but I once read a piece in which the interviewer asked him why his later books dealt with themes not present in his early books: his reply – When I first started writing I didn’t have the tools to do what I can do now.  Who would not want to be blessed with his talent and his humility? 

What is your favorite movie and why?

The Rocky Horror Motion Picture Show.  Why? It’s irreverent, hilarious and anarchic.  Perfect.

Describe yourself in three words.

A bone-idle dreamer.

Do you ever wish that you had an entirely uncreative job, like data entry or working in a factory?

I still earn money as an accountant.  Will that do?  Writing is an escape from the mind-numbing boredom of accountancy.  Without writing as an escape, I might have easily grown up.  What a tragedy that would have been.

How much impact does your childhood have on your writing?

It’s huge.  My father started reading Enid Blyton books to me when I was young.  He loved the stories about elves, goblins and wizards as much as I do. The Magic Faraway Tree, for example. Still available now – and why? Because it is a lovely childrens’ fantasy book, of course. I guess I started reading fantasy by the time I was six, and just never stopped.   One of the very few regrets I have for my life is that my father died whilst I was still young, and he never got to see my published books.  That would have been something he could have really understood.

Do you admire your own work?

No.  I know I can do better, in fact one reason the books take longer to write than you might imagine is that I’m always trying to do better.

What’s the most blatant lie you’ve ever told?

Yes, I’ll have the next book ready for the deadline. (My publisher knew I was lying though, so it’s all right.)

Do you research your novels?

You do know I’m a fantasy writer, right?  Of course I research my work.  Normally in my dreams, with the help of late night cheese or a glass of Merlot.

Actually I research the locations quite carefully.  Everywhere my characters go, I’ve been.  Since I write about musicians, that means I have to go into loud pubs and clubs to listen to a wide variety of bands play whilst drinking alcohol.  Which is research. And hence tax deductible, right? Right!

While Will and I enjoy our Hobgoblin beer and the fun evening I’ll let you read a bit about BASS INSTINCT : The Banned Underground 1V

(Break is over and the band begins the next set. Companionably we sit back and savor the brew and the music.)

willBass Instinct is the fourth book in The Banned Underground collection of comic fantasy books.  Each is a stand-alone novel, needing no previous acquaintance with the characters.

The Banned Underground are a dwarf rhythm-and-blues band, led by a luminous green, saxophone playing bog troll with a passion for mushrooms, beer and pizza … and more beer … and for playing jazz, blues and rock ‘n’ roll, of course.  The latest addition to the group is a bright red Welsh dragon that plays bass guitar.  But he’s in trouble.

Dai the Drinking Dragon has been kidnapped by the Dark Lord for nefarious purposes, and by the Dark Lord’s dragon receptionist for even less reputable reasons. Without their bass player, the Banned Underground are now in deep trouble with their record label. They have to produce a set of recordings for an album, and someone has stolen the tapes from the last gig. Can they make some more recordings, or will Freya, the renegade dwarf bass player hired by the Dark Lord, distract the boys whilst the Dark Lord’s evil schemes come to fruition?

The Dark Lord has found some thugs to help him in his latest plan to invade the underground Dwarf Mansion he would like to own (as an alternative to his garden shed as a place to hide from his wife), but they have other things on their minds – like looting and pillaging the locals – and it’s all going wrong for him again.


Review:Described on The Guardian newspaper’s book review pages as ‘Lord of The Rings as written by stand-up comic Milton Jones to the soundtrack of Led Zeppelin IV’, The Banned Underground series is an underground hit, full of both crackling one-liners and more subtle jokes.



HollyAn Interview With Author Will Macmillan Jones