Writer Chats 7: Rae Stoltenkamp talks about writing and the inspiration behind her books


Things we cover in this chat:

  • The inspiration behind Rae’s books (Magical Realism, Kid’s Fantasy and her YA Fantasy/ Sci Fi series)
  • Rae’s writing process and “team”
  • Why Rae (and I) write fantasy fiction
  • The book launch plan for Rae’s new book.

Rae’s website:


Rae’s books:

Her next book When Rainbows Cry is due to be released in December, so check out her website for more information!

I’ve written about Six Dead Men here.

From my bookshelf: May 2017 books I have read

In May, I was busy writing A Touch of Magic for the fantasy anthology War Torn, and I’d began to prepare for some public appearances for my non fiction side of things so I didn’t get a lot of reading done. Although I read one of my friend’s debut non fiction book (pictured above, my thoughts on it are below).

Indie non-fiction

How to rock at restaurant management by Katelyn Silva. This was a great little book. I found the tips generally useful for anyone managing people (as I could relate the info to a lot of my personal experiences, at various jobs over the years in retail settings, having been a committee member on many committees and also with producing an online cooking show. Katelyn’s put a lot of examples from her personal life and experience in the book too which makes it helpful, and she’s also given advice with actionable steps you can take and what you need to focus on and how to work with your team when you’re in a management position. Katelyn’s currently working on her second non-fiction book too. You can check out this book, and her author page over on amazon here.


From my bookshelf: April 2017 books I have read

Well, this post is a little late coming as I’m writing it in August!! (Things have been busy with writing, editing and publishing my novella in a fantasy anthology check that out here). But finally, here is a summary/ review of the books I read back in April.

In April I was recovering from “minor” surgery so I was in bed a lot, and reading helped the painkillers last longer, so I got a lot of reading done. I also finished some Indie books I started in March, and I’ve chatted about those here (they were great). But in this post, I’m chatting about the mainstream published books I read.

The fifty shades series: Well one day I might give a longer chat about why I’m a bit over sex scenes in books, but not today. Today, I’m going to write about the Fifty shades books and how I was actually pleasantly surprised to enjoy them! (Also I keep finding myself wanting to say “Laters baby” haha). Anyway, everything I’d heard about these books was always about the sex. It was always “Ooh have you read those books?” (and usually asked in a slightly shocked voice). And so I assumed there was no actual story line.  So it wasn’t until I was chatting with Sarah after I finally watched the first movie (which I didn’t like) and Sarah said there was more to their relationship in the books that my curiosity was piqued so I decided to give the books a go. So here’s my conclusion/review, I didn’t expect to like these books but I did! I confess I pretty much scrolled past the sex scenes (not because I’m a prude – though I might be by some standards;-) but more because if you read enough contemporary romance and paranormal romance  over the years, you end up having already read a lot of it and it just becomes a race to see who can write a crazier sex scene). So anyway, with all that aside, I liked seeing how Christian evolved (I’m putting it firmly in the escapism category and with the disclaimer of “don’t try this at home kids” because I expect a wounded human like Christian would take more than his heroine’s love to recover (but I could be wrong) but all in all, I enjoyed the romance within the books. I found the email conversations and Christian’s constantly changing signature really funny and I also liked reading the Grey book which was written from Christian’s perspective. Like Midnight Sun (Twilight from Edward’s Perspective, by Stephenie Meyer, which I’ve talked about in a few writer chats) Grey gives writers a chance to explore the many ways a story can be told and how shifting the POV of the story can change the vibe of the story. So if you’re a writer, it’s good to read and if you’re a reader, the extra insight to his character is good too:-).

The girl with a dragon tattoo – I’d heard so much about this book over the years, that my expectations were really high. I enjoyed it, but I haven’t bought the second book in the series just yet. I found the characters interesting and I actually guessed the plot twist early on but that was only because so many people over the years had said, “Oh you’ll never guess the twist at the end,” which made me think as I read it, “It would be funny if….” and it turned out I was right. Still, it was a good book and I can see why it’s such a popular book. I’m interested in seeing the movie though, and that’s on the “To watch” list.

Ink and Bone – I really liked this book. I’d class it as magical realism/ thriller/crime as the main character is a psychic who helps a detective solve a missing child case. Author, Lisa Unger taps into people really well (it’s a bit like reading Liane Moriarty in the way she really captures how people think and interact), although this was in a different context with the thriller/ magical realism vibe and it’s a lot darker than Liane Moriary. I really enjoyed it, I wanted to read more books with this character, and while there seem to be more books in this “world” (it’s contemporary and set in a place called “The Hollows”) I don’t think this particular character has a sequel (which was disappointing). I’d definitely read more books by Lisa Unger, especially with this magical realism/ psychic angle.

Anyway, I’ll be back with my May reading list soon:-)

Writer chats 6: What makes a good story, giving advice, genre expectations, Sarah’s launch plan and the “5” years.

In this writer chat, Sarah and I chat about the following:

  • Giving advice (and being given unsolicited advice) and constructive criticism
  • What makes a good story?
  • Different ways to write a story
  • Genre expectations – and the story you want to write (what if they’re not the same?)
  • Sarah’s launch plan for her book Autumn’s Dance (it’s since been published and I talked about it here).
  • My writing update (the anthology has since been published, read about that here).
  • My favourite twitter feed for inspirational quotes and images is Novelicious (check it out it’s beautiful!)
  • The 5 years….it’s a marathon not a sprint.

Sarah and I recorded this chat earlier in the year, and then I ended up having “minor” surgery which took awhile to get over, and life happened with other commitments for my cooking show and also I ended up writing a new novella for the fantasy anthology which took up some time. But this chat with Sarah is still very relevant if you’re a new writer, and so I thought I’d still publish it:-)

Also, this chat got a bit long and so I decided to make it a 2 part series, and so I’ll publish part 2 (which is about burnout: how much it sucks to have it, and how to avoid it) in a separate post.

I hope you enjoy this chat!



(P.S. none of these links are affiliate links)

From my bookshelf: March 2017 (The Sitting Room and Taming Shadows)

Technically, March was a little crazy as I was preparing for minor surgery in April, so I started both of these books in March and finished them in April. However, since I decided to catch up on some books I missed over the last 7 years while recovering from surgery in April, I decided to break this “from my bookshelf” post up into Indie Books (March) and mainstream published (April), so the indie books didn’t get lost. I also did a beta-read for Sarah Gai’s new book Winter’s Song which was really good. I’ll share more about that one when it’s published (soon) but all I can say for now is to get the really good tissues, because you’ll be crying when you read that one!

Sometimes, the lines between the genre blur, so I’ve separated these as follows, but in a nutshell: I loved both of them and eagerly look forward to the second book in the series:-)

Paranormal Romance / Magical Realism

The Sitting Room by Aimee Juarez -This is the first book in The Society for Psychical Studies series and it’s great. It’s set in the 1800s in London, and is about Dr. David Gosford (a medical doctor doing research into psychical matters) and Adele Ledford (a psychic and the niece of a famous illusionist). I love the use of the time period (and how that adds conflict for their unconventional relationship) and the inclusion of the fascination with mystical and spiritual practices at the time (loved it!). I gave the book 5 stars and look forward to reading the next one.

Urban Fantasy

Taming Shadows by Fiona Skye-This is the first book in the Night of Revelations series and it had the feel of classical urban fantasy, though it meshed nicely with fantasy when Riley O’Rourke the shifter/ fae main character has to enter the fae realm. I really enjoyed reading about Riley’s world and have bought the next book in the series:-) So if you’re looking for an urban fantasy read with a shifter heroine you’ll enjoy this one. Escapism guaranteed:-)


(P.S. These aren’t affiliate links and these are my honest reviews of the books).

Writer chats 4: Chatting with PJ Whittlesea about writing books, selling print books, writing a series and more

In this writer chat:

  • In this chat Paul chat’s about his two writing groups and how he finds the different challenges of writing in silence and writing in a busy environment affect his focus.
  • We talk about hand-selling print books (if you’re thinking of doing a print run for your first book then you need to listen to this)
  • Paul talks about how he turned the traditional idea of witches on it’s head for Complicated Blue (his take on it is really cool).
  • We talk about the challenges of writing a series arc.
  • Paul talks about how his very interesting experiences in his previous careers as a musician and theatre technician have shaped and inspired his author journey
  • He also talks about the inspiration behind his two books (really interesting! I love hearing how other authors come up with their ideas:-)

Resources we talked about in this chat:

Paul’s books

To check out Paul’s books and his website click here.

I’ve given a review on Complicated Blue here.

Paul’s books sharing table space with other well known writers:-)

Online writing / indie author community

The Alliance of Independent Authors (Alli)

Books Paul loves

(These books are great they’re pretty well known and would be widely available)

  • The Writers Journey By  Christopher Vogler
  • The Hero With A Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell
  • The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
  • The Authentic Swing Steven Pressfield

We hope you enjoyed this writer chat. Have you watched all of our other chats? If not, click here.

From my bookshelf: Feb 2017 (FAB, The Wolf You Feed, Six Dead Men)

It’s been a busy month of getting back into the swing of things; catching up on work I needed to do for Alternative Chef Kitchen which involves publishing some new books this year, releasing season 3 and quite a lot of other stuff:-) As well as getting the kids settled in the new school routine (which happened surprisingly well). Writing a new novella called Conflicted which is part of the Familiar world and will be released in June as part of an anthology with other fantasy and urban fantasy writers (more about that later:-).  I also did a little beta reading for some other authors and…I turned 40! Yep that’s right kids, I’m a “real” grown up now. Technically. So they tell me;-).

So all in all I haven’t managed to read as much as I’d hoped, yet writing all that out I’m kind of impressed I managed to read anything at all really.

Ok so let’s get stuck into it…. what I read in February.

From the fiction shelf:

It was all fiction this month.

Speculative fiction

  • FAB (Book 1) by Mark Gillespie. So this was a cool little book actually. I don’t usually read speculative fiction but I found myself intrigued with the blurb/ story concept (What if John Lennon had lived?) also triggering me to press “buy” and read it is that my hubby is a big Beatles fan and we’d just watched  the Beatles movie 8 Days A Week. So the basic premise is: What would happen if John Lennon lived and Mark explores the possibility of him entering politics. So considering what’s been going on in the USA I found myself thinking of the movie Wag the dog. Anyway it’s easy to read and not weighed down by too much political jargon, with some good story points too. I’ve bought another of Mark’s books after reading this one in another of his series (which also sounded intriguing:-).

Urban Fantasy

  • The Wolf You Feed by Angela Stevens. The name for this book comes from the Native American Indian poem about the battle between the two wolves that lives inside each of us (one is evil and one is good). Which one grows? The one you feed. The story follows the life of Tore Valgr (a werewolf) from the age of 18 to his mid 30’s and the conflict with his brother Erik. It had that “long book feeling” (which I like in a book) but is also really easy to read. It’s a tear-jerker though so I’d suggest buying some good tissues. I’ve bought the second book in this series too:-).

Magical Realism

  • Six Dead Men by Rae Stoltenkamp. From the moment I started reading this book I was drawn in. It was a great read and if you like reading about psychics, murder mysteries and romance then this is a book for you. In the book detective Robert Deed has an uncanny ability to pick his suspect and is trying to solve the mystery of six seemingly unrelated deaths when he comes across the unsuspecting suspect Maddie  Briscot. His gut instinct says she’s guilty, but his heart say’s she couldn’t be. I’ll leave you to read the rest:-)

Beta Reading

Beta reading is when you read someone’s manuscript before it’s published (generally before it’s properly edited after the author has written the full draft, and made sure the story is comprehensive and readable). A beta reader is a bit different to being on an Advanced Reading Copy list (or an ARC list). Being on an ARC list means you’re an avid reader for books that author writes and you’re one of the first people that get to see an almost final copy of the book – or sometimes it is a final copy of the book. The book is given to the “special” group of readers so they may leave an honest review when the book is officially released. Generally getting on an ARC list is a position you apply for. I’m currently looking for ARC readers as I am looking to release two (hopefully three) books this year Familiar, the novella Conflicted and a third which isn’t yet named. If you’re interested in becoming an ARC reader for me then enter your name and email address below and I’ll forward more details soon. In the mean time… here are some writers to watch/ stories to look out for based on my Beta reading for the month of February.

  • Upcoming romance By Kay Seeley. Having grown up as an avid romance reader, I offered to beta read this new romance by Kay Seeley. It’s a broad sweeping romance and had me thinking of Gone with the wind, Pride and prejudice (though it’s a contemporary story). Kay has a number of books published already (which I haven’t read yet, but after reading her new book, I’m certainly curious to go and check out).
  • Upcoming urban fantasy By C.C.Beth Currently I’ve only read the first chapter of this book, but I was intrigued and would be interested in reading the rest of the book. What I read had me thinking of Lauren Kate’s Fallen series (which I like). So she’s an author to keep a look out for:-)

Anyway that’s all for this month. I’ll be back again next month with more. If you’d like to check out what I read in January, just click here. And if you’d like to suss out my March list then just enter your name and email address below and I’ll send you an email next month.


P.S. If you’re wondering how magical realism is different to urban fantasy you can read the books to find out because both are a good example, but also Angela and I had a chat about this in Writer chats 3 (If you’re a writer, you can check that out here.)


A trip to the Adelaide Botanical Gardens and some “research” for Familiar.

As I was writing at the end of 2016 I found I wanted pictures to refer to while I’m writing certain scenes. (My memory isn’t quite what it was pre-kids;-). So on a lovely summer’s day we headed out to the Adelaide Botanical Gardens. I’ve got a bit of an obsession with “gothic” style gates. I just love them, and I can’t help but think about vampires and the magical witchy world when I see them. One of my favourite sets of gates in Adelaide is this one at the Gardens.

The Friend’s gate at the Adelaide Botanical Gardens (isn’t it beautiful?)

I also wanted to take a few pictures of some “forests” and as we walked past these two areas in the gardens I couldn’t help but take a picture and think of Familiar.

There’s a mansion which features in the second half of Familiar. The mansion is situated in one of my favourite suburbs in Adelaide (Hyde Park) where the streets are lined with beautiful trees (and so are most of the properties – I’ll do a separate post on Hyde Park because I love it so much). But anyway, one of the reasons I wanted to go to the Botanical Gardens is because of the Plain Trees and the Morten Bay Figs (probably two of my favourite trees and yes, they feature in Familiar). I just love the intertwined roots of the Morten Bay Figs (I can’t help but think of lover’s entwined legs when I look at the above ground roots – and also Lord of the Rings;-). The Plain Trees are also beautiful and I always find my self awed by them when we drive down Plain Tree Drive (the access road to the Botanical Gardens).

I think Adelaide is a really pretty city with it’s own magic (which is why I’ve decided to set Familiar here. There are definitely not-so-pretty parts too (I’ll take you to Port Adelaide soon because I mention it in Conflicted a novella I have coming out in an anthology soon).

I think Adelaide has it’s own cool background when it comes to the magical and urban fantasy. While our oldest buildings might not be more than 180 years young, our land certainly is old and with so many migrants and cultures forming “our culture”  I can’t help but think of my familiar world as I drive (and walk) through the streets here.

I drive through Hyde Park and think, this is where Tabby lives (featured in Conflicted and Familiar), or North Adelaide, and think, this is where Nyssa and Mason live (Featured in Familiar) or Port Adelaide and think, this is where Finn lives (in Conflicted).

Anyway, off to do some more reading and writing and I’ll be back soon to share some more of my Familiar world🙂


(P.s. If you want to keep in touch, just enter your name and email address below:-)


Writer chats 3: Chatting with Angela Stevens about writing habits, schedules, genre definitions and more!

Resources we talked about in this chat:

Angela’s books

To check out Angela’s books and her website click here.

NaNoWrMo if you’d like to learn more about NaNoWriMo then check it out here.

Wattpad  If you’d like to check out or learn more, click here.

If you’d like to hear a little more about the project I’m working on click here.

If you’d like to be notified when new Writer Chats are released (I’m aiming to do these weekly) then enter your name and email address below. If you’d like to watch other Writer Chats click here .