Anita's Haven

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Who is SHE? – Elizabeth Horton Newton

One of my favourite indie authors, a lady with an incredibly big heart and a curious knack for psychological horror and mystery, is the fabulously supportive Eluzabeth Horton Newton. She is here today to do a no-questions interview and share some of her writing news with her fans. I asked no questions; she just got some words to prompt whatever it did, be it about herself, the world or writing.

Elizabeth Horton Newton

Who me?

Dreams – I’ve always felt my dreams are somewhat precognitive. I will dream about people or places and sooner or later, somewhere down the road, I will see the place or meet the person. At first I thought I would simply have forgotten a prior incident. However, I have come to accept I have some sort of little old fortune teller living in my head. Often I will use things I dream in the stories I write, with a bit of elaboration of course.

Stress – My husband insists stress is bad for me. I disagree. I work best when I am stressed or on a time limit. I love the challenge of pushing myself harder.

Release – It’s rather embarrassing but I have always found release to be a sexual word. It brings to mind orgasms. Perhaps that’s why I did such a good job with the steamy love scenes in my book, “Carved Wooden Heart”.

Support – Bra. That’s it. You reach my age and that’s what you need.

Model – A model is something you put together a piece at a time; for instance a model of a ship. My father used to make models when I was a little girl and we would often work on them together. We did ships and movie monsters. Now you see why my stories can be somewhat gruesome.

Issue – Social issues; homelessness, domestic violence, child abuse, so many social issues that need to be addressed. I’m involved with a few social issues in my state and wish I could devote more time to working with groups.

Journey – Life is a journey; an exhilarating journey with twists and turns down winding paths. I love looking back on my life and I love hearing about the life journeys of others. We all have a lot more in common than we realize. We may come from different parts of the world but there are still things that are remarkably similar.

Relevance – This word has a legal connotation for me. What is the relevance of your information to the substance of this case? How does what you know apply to this crime? Perhaps I watch too much “Law and Order”. 

Joy – Joy is such an understatement for the unbridled ecstasy of being on the deck of a ship at sea. The ocean stretches out in all directions, meeting the sky on the horizon. It makes me conscious of how small we all are on this planet we call home. We came from the sea, crawling out as small, insignificant creatures and have developed into what we are now. We are now able to sail on the seas. It all makes my heart swell with joy.

Haven – A haven is special, secret place, safe from all outside bothers. It’s a spot where I can go to let my imagination run free.  Everyone needs and should have a haven. We all need to disconnect sometime.

I am currently working on two books; “Stolen” has been almost finished for over a year but I keep getting involved in other projects. It’s a story about a young girl who finds out she was kidnapped as a small child and raised by a Gypsy couple. As more of her story is revealed, she learns she was supposed to be in the Witness Protection Program but was “lost”. There’s romance, mystery, and action in this book. It comes complete with Gypsies, drug cartels, incompetent federal agents, and, of course, a twist at the end. The other book I’m working on is tentatively called “Murder on the Highway of Tears”. It is based on a factual place and real life events. There is a stretch of highway in northern British Columbia where a significant number of indigenous girls and women have either been murdered or disappeared. The government is just beginning to take notice. It has largely been overlooked because natives in that part of the world are viewed as unimportant. My story revolves around a native police chief who is investigating recent murders of native girls. A writer and a photographer from a travel magazine are in the area doing a story on adventure travel. They get caught up in the occurrences. As with some of my earlier works the story addresses the social issues surrounding the illegal adoption of and removal of native babies from their biological families. I’m anticipating having both books completed and available by the end of 2017.

I have a short science fiction story titled, “From Where I Come” coming out in an anthology at the end of May. The collection is called “Gems of Freedom” and all the stories revolve around female soldiers or freedom fighters. It’s the third in a series from a group called The Sisterhood. I have another short story, a detective noir, in a soon to be released collection called, “Cons, Dames, and G-Men”. My story is called “Dark at the Top of the Stairs” and is full of the flavor of 1940’s film noir.

Author Website:

Author Blog: “Between the Beats”


Amazon Author Page:

Goodreads Author Page:

Linked In:







Thank you, Elizabeth. Always great to have you over and looking forward to your new thrillers!


The Assassin Who Couldn’t Dance by Glen Barrera – my review

Can you resist the title – The Assassin Who Couldn’t Dance? I couldn’t, which is why I added the book to my TBR pile even before I had the time to read it. My only regret now is not having read it sooner. Let me try to be brief so you can go and get this thriller and enjoy it the way I have.

Hector is a young, well-trained assassin with a shady past and partial lack of ordinary social skills who encounters an unlikely group of ex-military pals and their families, only to find himself questioning his own mission. Not only will the author sail you successfully through the numerous plots and subplots, twists and turns, concerning the good old money scams of enormous proportions, where any means is supposed to justify the end, but he will make you care about the characters, just as he makes Hector care. I hated my own eyes when they got tired of reading and having to go to work in the midst of the action scenes, and I am still trying to decide on my favourite character (Morgan and Lucy take the lead, but only by an inch). 

This thriller has it all – all shades of good and bad, tough and likeble heroes (both female and male), a rich variety of gruesome villains, cliffhanger moments, actions with guns blazing and foreheads sweating (great writing overall), intelligent romance where you hope for it, skillfully crafted dialogues… And one thing I truly admire – attention to detail in the midst of chaos. Lana’s lipstick on the glass Parks uses, Annie’s Christmas decorations… The author has a way with words that suits me just like when you find good rock tunes which fit your taste. I am not one to hang on first lines, but this one had me reading well past my bedtime…

“Nazar ran his tongue over cracked lips as he considered, for intellectual exercise, the varied forms of torture yet to be discovered.”

Movie-like and better, with all the suspenseful feel of a movie and the great quality of the written word, this is a treat for any thriller fan with a taste for intense, intelligent action mysteries. Looking forward to more.

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CROOKED INTERVIEW with Joseph Mark Brewer

This is an author who will draw you into his exotic world of the Shig Sato mysteries with ease and elegance. It gives me great joy to have Joseph Mark Brewer over as my guest today, chatting about his short story Nothing But The Truth in Crooked Tales, as well as his other books.

Author’s bio

From an early age, Joseph Mark Brewer loved travel and learning about the world. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy as a journalist and spent the next four years on sea duty, serving on ships that would allow him to visit more than 40 cities around the world. His three years based in Japan and subsequent time working as a journalist in Tokyo forms the foundation of an interest in that country that continues today.

You can get a copy of Tokyo Summer at

You can find Joe’s other work on his Amazon author page at:


What is your Crooked tale about and what inspired it?

1. My Crooked Tales story is a sort of morality tale: neglected kids, broken homes, and witnesses keeping to themselves, for whatever reason.

What do you like writing and/or reading best? 

2. I like reading best. Reading is the well from which my writing emerges. 

What else do you do in life apart from writing?

3. I work in the news business, and am a historian by nature/inclination. I spend as much time reading history and biography as I do literature, or mysteries, or even writing my own stories.

What are you currently working on?

4. These days I am writing the next three books in the Shig Sato series, and shaping the outline of another trilogy quite different from Shig.  

Crooked Interview – My 5 questions for myself:

What interests do you have besides writing and history? 

I developed an interest in the world and travel at an early age, and was fortunate enough to indulge in that before finishing my university education. I don’t travel as much as I’d like these days, but hope to resume that interest someday soon.

Why did you set your Shig Sato mysteries in Japan?

 I had no notion or interest in Japan until I was stationed there while serving in the U.S. Navy. But I grew to like the country’s art, literature, and music. And living in a culture so different from my own, I found similarities all humans share. I think this gave me confidence to write, and to write about people no matter their background or situation. All human emotion is the same.

How did you come to write a mystery series?

 Again, I surprised myself, in that when I took stock of what I like to read, and what type of story I wanted to write to convey some of my feelings about Japan and its culture, I found that a mystery series suited my purpose. I’ve always been a Sherlock Holmes fan, love Agatha Christy, and am drawn to noir and thriller books and films. I found it intriguiing to create that world to say what I wanted.

You worked as a journalist in the Navy. Did that influence your writing? 

 I think it helped me decide that that I could earning a living in the news business and learn how to write. I have worked for newspapers for almost 30 years. It’s a great way to learn how to write and edit. 

How is writing a mystery novel the same or different from writing for news media? 

It’s similar in that facts matter, and that a certain logical sequence has to be followed. Answering who, what, when, where, why is a good starting point. The main difference is in length. The challenge in writing a 60,000 word mystery is sustaining the narrative and holding the reader’s interest. Very few news stories, or longer pieces in magazines, are book- length. Learning how to do that was quite an adjustment. 

The blurb for Tokyo Summer:

It was classified as an overdose. Or was it?

Setsuko Usami, the wife of a top Bank of Japan economist, is found dead in her bathroom. The police report points to an accidental drug overdose. Government officials want to keep the death under wraps to avoid scandal. But when the toxicology report arrives, it points to murder.

Despite his independent streak and reputation for turning down promotions, the bureaucrats in government and at the Tokyo Police headquarters know there’s only one man for the job: Inspector Shig Sato. He re-opens the case and follows the clues. What he discovers is more shocking than any official can imagine.

Will Sato bend to the will of his superiors and keep the case quiet, or will Sato go the distance to catch a killer?

Because someone just might get away with murder.

MARK FINE’S QUESTIONS for other Crooked Tales authors

Do you find a silver lining in a bad review? If so, please give an example.

— I had one reviewer complain about the mistakes and errors and such, and I went back and had to sheepishly admit to myself that I had missed a lot of small things in the final edit. Let that be a lesson: Even an editor needs an editor.

What percentage of the research you do for a novel actually lands up on the printed page?

— Not much, but the Shig Sato series will eventually be 12 volumes. A lot of what I’m researching now, facts and answers to questions I have, and reviewing things I’d forgotten, will eventually make it into the series.

Do you have an author you admire? If so, why?  

— Patrick O’Brian, the author of the “Master and Commander”  Aubrey/Maturin series. What he created — the British Royal Navy during the time of the Napoleonic Wars — and the characters, settings, adventures, plot twists, naval engagement, world travel, history, natural science; it’s simply a masterpiece. I found myself rereading the series five times, and realized about the third time through that what I was doing was learning how to write a series from him. I regard that series as the how-to for anyone who wants to write a series, regardless of genre.  

Question for authors from Joe Brewer:

Who is your favorite story or character or author  from literature – any genre-  Why?

Does that story/character/author help you in your writing process?

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GUMMSHOES: MISSION 1 by Erica Gore – my review

Erica Gore has certainly become one of my favourite preteen writers. Having read some of her Taya Bayliss books, I was interested in the new Gummshoe series and it certainly does not disappoint.

This will be a review lacking favourite bits and quotes, as Gummshoes is a detective story and spoilers are the last thing I’d want to give you. But have no doubt – kids will love reading this short, intense mystery tale with a positive message. Erica Gore has once again managed to write a clean and fun read, incorporating bullying, family issues, sports and geeks, teenage crush and proper friendship into one. The characters are easy to picture (Olly is my favourite for now) and relate to (Frankie in the library reminds me of some children). Although the language is not too complicated (in fact, perfectly balanced for this age group), the author never underestimates the readers, providing them with dialogue, descriptions, sounds, smells and feelings which will draw them into the story just as effectively as in the Taya Bayliss series (if not better:). 

The Perfect Plan in the end brought a huge smile on my face, as a mother and a teacher, and I will definitely be recommending this teen detective story to my friends and students.

This review will also appear on the Readers Review Room, awarding the story a gold bookworm.

This book on Amazon

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Why authors ♡ their characters – by Erica Gore

Erica’s books have been a source of joy in my house and lessons, and Taya is one of the most positive preteen heroines girls could have. Read all about why her creator, Erica Gore, loves her.

Why I Love Taya

Taya Bayliss (Taya Bayliss Mysteries) is the bold, daring little girl that I wanted to be. 

When I was growing up, I was a red-haired, freckle-faced child with a tendency to throw up when I was nervous. I was outwardly shy but inwardly adventurous. 

I wanted to know and to do everything. 

My favourite thing in the world was reading. Books fired my imagination and created new worlds for me to explore. I was the star of the books I read. 

Now Taya is the star of the books I write.

She has the adventures that I dreamed of having. She is a child who wonders about things and likes to figure out puzzles.  She can be a scaredy-cat, but she can also be amazingly brave, far braver than I could ever be. She has a social conscience that leads her to step in to help senior citizens, stand up to bullies, and to protect the environment. And she never throws up when she’s nervous. I like that about her

I also like that she is not perfect. Eleven-year-olds are rarely perfect. Taya tells the occasional fib, has sulky moments, and disobeys her parents. She doesn’t like closed in places or boys who pick their noses. (Yuk!)

Her best friend, Chris, would tell you that Taya has Chronic Nosy Parker Syndrome. 

I like that about her too, but I would call it a thirst for knowledge. 

Taya asks questions of the world. She is driven by the need to know things. She likes to know what makes things tick and what would happen if they didn’t. In my case those questions usually resulted in my being told to be quiet, mind my own business, or leave the classroom. For Taya, however, curiosity leads to interesting and exciting times. 

I love that Taya doesn’t live in a fantasy world, that she has no super powers, that she has no weapons. I love that she is clever and observant. I love that she snorts when she giggles. I love that she has a happy dance. 

I love that Taya Bayliss is an average kid – just like the kids I taught, like the kids who live in my street, like that little freckle-faced, red-haired girl from so many years ago.

And what I really love is that now a whole lot of young readers love her too.


Thank you so much, Erica. Go on creating wonderful books for kids.

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Meet Ted Tayler

It has been a pleasure to read and review the first book in the thriller series of The Phoenix by Ted Tayler. Non-stop action, spies, plots, terrorism and the precarious balance of justice are masterfully tackled by this author and have grown into a five-book series (for now;) – see a sneaknpeek into no.6 below). I am very grateful Ted Tayler has taken the time to be my guest for an interview.

“I grew up with reading and writing all around me. My mother loved books and I had 2 aunts who taught English. There was no escape. I put it on hold after school because of my music and work. I wrote my book of memories from my life in bands in 2008. It was eventually published in 2011. At the end of 2012, I wondered if I could write fiction! Those are the when’s. I’m beginning to wonder why!

I think of myself as a storyteller; I hope with each successive book I get better at it. What I’ve been told is the reader feels as if we’re sat across the table from one another over a drink, and I’m just chatting with them.” 


Interview Time

1. Why do you write? 

I enjoy communicating with people. If it’s verbal, face to face, then that’s fine and I enjoy that too; however, I can reach more people with the written word and long after I’m gone the books I’ve managed to get finished will be available, somewhere for anyone who wishes to read them.

2. What’s your latest project?

The sixth book in The Phoenix Series, ‘A New Dawn’. I’ve introduced several new characters, and expanded the reach of the stories; this one is designed to be the springboard for books seven to twelve. Although the style is transitional, I hope there’s still enough excitement for my readers.

3. What is your favourite character among the ones you created? 

The Phoenix (Colin Bailey) has been the best thing to happen to me in the last decade. He’s a stone-cold killer; so why do I like him so much? He’s a joy to write about that’s why! Perhaps I’m uncovering a character trait I’ve masked all my life but villains are far more fun to write about than a dashing handsome hero. 

4. Which books/authors do you admire and why? 

I’m a crime fiction anorak I’m afraid. As a young man, I read all sorts of things, but over the years I’ve ‘homed’ in on thrillers, murder mysteries etcetera; if I’m not reading, I’m watching a TV series or a film about it. I still marvel at the ingenious methods people use to kill their victims. 

5. What was your favourite book when you were younger or a child? Why?

“A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens. He wrote entertaining stories, with great characters. Yet behind each story there was perceptive social comment that laid bare the troubling side of Victorian England.

6. If you didn’t write, would you try any other arts or crafts? 

I love all kinds of music. As a former singer in bands during the 60’s and early 70’s I travelled across the UK. Since then I have been a DJ, a promoter, and a manager. Whatever job I was doing, my main hobby was always music related. I still write a review most weeks on gigs at a local venue. My last stage performance was in November 2012. I was keen to carry on, but one month later I started writing ‘The Final Straw’, my first novel. Colin Bailey was born, and I was hooked on writing about him. Now I don’t have time for any other hobbies! 

7. How do you deal with criticism, promotional activities, editing/proofreading?

A writer must accept criticism. You can’t please everyone. If it’s informed criticism, then it’s useful. You can use it to improve your writing. The reviews I hate are those that offer nothing helpful. My mother used to say ‘if you can’t find something nice to say about someone, don’t say anything’.

Nobody told me in December 2012 writing was only 10% of the process! I’ve used dozens of book promotion techniques. For three and a half years I got nowhere. In June 2016, I switched to two or three popular sites, and downloads suddenly rocketed. I’m planning to promote The Phoenix Series in 2017, rather than individual titles, and I’m hoping to increase my marketing budget.

The editing process is my major drawback. I use the free Grammarly app to correct issues with my grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Using Pro-Writing Aid helps to reduce other problems, but I’m aware my titles aren’t as slick as they could be if I sent them to a professional editor.

There’s the rub. If I pay for an editor, I can’t afford promotions. I’m retired, on a limited income, and I commit as much as I can afford to supporting my writing. 

8. What has been the most difficult thing for you to write so far?

The blog post after a young woman I had known for twenty-five years died of breast cancer at forty-five. You can find it on my website under ‘Time for Reflection’. 

9. If you could sit down for a chat with any famous author or character, who would it be and what would you talk about?

John Arlott, the writer, poet, cricket commentator, and wine connoisseur, who died in 1991. We would sit in the Members Stand at Lords on the first morning of a Test Match against Australia, talking cricket and enjoying a bottle of his favourite red wine. 

10. What do people usually say about your writing? 

Forgive me if I select a few of the more complimentary things! They say I create dynamic characters, and intricate plots; and using current issues of political and economic concern gives my stories an intensely realistic feel. A reviewer said my ability to weave recent events into a tale of good versus evil was unsurpassed. There’s no shortage of material for my next six books to complete the series. Every TV bulletin or newspaper headline is a potential story line. Evil is all around us. 

Extract from ‘A New Dawn’

“Even if our armed forces, security services, and judiciary were overhauled and refocussed, things wouldn’t change. That would only happen if our leaders were prepared to accept significant levels of collateral damage. Change is painful; unpalatable decisions are not taken. When that happens; evil smiles, and continues to flourish.”

“Then we must show them the way forward; guide their hand. Our actions must highlight the benefits of change. We must never shrink from taking the difficult decisions.”


Meet Elizabeth H. Newton

Absolutely thrilled to be interviewing one of my favourite authors, whose villains from Riddle and Twisted Tales haunt me to this very day (in a good, book-fan way;). If you love mystery or romance, she packs it all together neatly, and her anthology contributions are gems among short stories. Her latest, Carved Wooden Heart, toys with romance and erotica, and is pure joy for fans of both genres. Her social engagement is worldwide and she is not just an author, photographer and blogger, but an amazing human force to be reckoned with.


Elizabeth Horton-Newton was born and raised in New York City. She began writing when she was a child. In elementary school she wrote an essay about her dream job—she wanted to be an author. After attending Long Island University in Brooklyn, NY and East Tennessee State University, she worked in the social work field for thirteen years. She lives in East Tennessee with her husband, author Neil Newton, and a collection of rescued dogs and cats. Her first book View From the Sixth Floor: An Oswald Tale was published in October 2014; a love story that revolves around the assassination of President John Kennedy and the ensuing conspiracy theories. This was followed in June 2015 with the release of Riddle, a romantic thriller about a Native American convicted of killing his high school girlfriend. Elizabeth’s third novel, Carved Wooden Heart is an erotic romance following one woman’s journey through love, loss, and resolution, was released in the fall of 2016. In addition she has written short stories for several anthologies.

1. Who are you in a nutshell? 

I’m a writer and photographer who loves to travel and try new things. A mother of four, grandmother of five and a third, great grandmother of one, and a wife.

2. Why do you write? 

Mostly I write because I have so many stories in my head if I don’t put them on paper they haunt me. It gets pretty crowded in my head.

3. What’s your latest project? 

I’m rewriting a book I’ve been working on for a couple of years and beginning a joint project with my husband which we expect to turn into a series.

4. What is your favourite character among the ones you created? 

That’s a tough one. I tend to fall in love with all my male protagonists. Right now I’d have to say Jesse Wolf Carver from “Carved Wooden Heart”.

5. What was the most difficult thing for you to write so far? 

The sexy parts of “Carved Wooden Heart” were a big challenge for me. I felt as though they needed to be in the book to truly capture the passion between the characters but I had to really free myself from my own inhibitions to write those parts.

6. How do you deal with criticism, promotional activities, editing/proofreading? 

I value criticism because it helps me understand what my readers want and are hoping to find in my books, You can’t please everyone but if I get several comments that are similar I can tell where I went wrong in connecting. I enjoy promotional activities. That’s probably based on my first college experiences. I HATE editing and proof reading! When I finish a book and I have to go back and read it through it drives me crazy.

7. What are your writing plans for the future? 

I don’t actually make plans for writing. When I have a story that I feel good about I start to write it. I’ll continue to write and blog but what comes next? I’m as much in the dark as my readers. 

8. Which books/authors do you admire and why?

 The book I most admire is “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee. She captured the American story in such a simple yet complex story. Beautifully written and a pleasure to read, I have re-read it multiple times. I love Stephen King for his ability to take the same simple towns and people and weave stories that are so unexpectedly horrifying he can make me gasp. 

9. What makes you happiest in the writing process? 

Two things; I am happy when I re-read my stories and find myself enjoying them. That lets me know I’ve written something pretty darned good. Of course positive and genuinely enthusiastic feedback from readers also makes me happy. It’s nice to know I’ve given someone pleasure with something I’ve done.

10. What do people usually say about your writing? 

I get the most positive reactions on my characters and how they are developed. Most readers find the characters are so realistic they relate to them and even become attached to them. That’s delightful. 

11. If you didn’t write, would you try any other arts or crafts? 

I’ve done some sketching and painting, I also dabble in photography. Something will catch my eye and I want to hold that vision so taking a good picture will take me back to the moment.

12. What was your favourite book when you were younger or a child? Why? 

My father gave my two books when I was about seven years old; The Complete Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and a Complete Collection of the Works of Edgar Allan Poe. I read and re-read those books many times. I loved the complexity of Conan Doyle’s stories and the amazing simplicity of Poe’s. Poe’s writing was so lyrical but the point was always right there. On the other hand Conan Doyle created complex stories that made me think. 

13. If you could sit down for a chat with any famous author or character, who would it be and what would you talk about? 

I’d have to choose two, one character and one author. I’d love to sit down with Sherlock Holmes and learn how he developed such incredible powers of observation. He was the first true behavioral analyst. Then I like to have a sit down, tell all with Stephen King. Prolific but not always popular he has a wonderful mind. I don’t think he always writes to please his readers. I think he sometimes writes to keep from getting sick of the same story haunting him. 

14. Pick one of your books and explain it to us as if it were a movie, listing the cast and crew if you wish. 

Ah. View From the Sixth Floor should be a movie. Starring Gary Oldman as Bill/Lee and Meryl Streep as Olivia this is a story of discovery; self discovery and the discovery of truth. When we first meet the main characters they are both hiding. Bill is hiding from the world because he has been accused of a heinous crime that changed the course of history. Olivia is also hiding from the world as well as herself; a widow who suddenly finds she has lost the identity of the quiet southern wife and mother. She craves something new and exciting in her life as much as she is frightened by the prospect.  As the couple journey cross country they learn more about one another. Freed from the small town they live in they find strength and courage within themselves. But they are not the only characters who experience this. Olivia’s best friend Judy also changes as do Olivia’s son Jesse and paralegal Shelli. The story says when we are able to step outside our comfort zone we may find strengths we didn’t know we had. Of course there is also the truth of history and the assassination of President John Kennedy that will be exposed.

15. Do you have any special promos, charity releases, appearances or book releases you’d like to tell us about? 

“Carved Wooden Heart “will be free on Amazon Kindle the second week in December. Thank you! This is a sexy and sweet story of a young woman and her journey to maturity. I love this character and her passion and courage. It would make a great holiday gift for a reader but it is definitely for adult readers. By the beginning of January 2017 my husband Neil Douglas Newton and I will be doing a giveaway of a book of our short stories, some available in other anthologies and some new stories. This collection will be a freebie for followers of our works who sign up for our mailing list. There are already some, shall we say interesting, short stories going into this anthology. 

Thanks for the opportunity to share my thoughts and works with your readers. 


Author Website:

Blog: Between the Beats

Twitter: @redqueenliz




Carved Wooden Heart:


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Linked In:

YouTube: (View From the Sixth Floor)

YouTube: (Riddle)

YouTube: (Carved Wooden Heart)

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CreateSpace: (View) (Riddle) (Carved)

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Recommending #romance #books #romance – great villains and good guys&gals by Elizabeth Newton! Read my review here.

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TAYA BAYLISS TREE HUGGER by Erica Gore – my review no.36


Fun, courage and heart

Having already enjoyed Taya’s adventures as The Snake Charmer, I was thrilled to receive an ARC of her new adventure. Taya is a (pre)teenage detective who lives above a bookstore, builds a cool tree house with her best friend Chris, and searches for a hundred-year-old document to preserve a nature park from a  modern developer. How many 12-year-olds do you know who take on the system to protect their beliefs and help an old man?

Taya and Chris never think twice about doing the right thing in the story, regardless of the possible danger. Their friendship is an investigative partnership, and, just like all detective duos, their characters and skills perfectly complement each other. There is also their extraordinary assistant – a big, loyal dog. This time Taya and Chris are trying to save a precious piece of natural riverside beauty, which gives the author a chance to point out  the importance of preserving greenery and environment. History and cultural heritage play an important part in the plot, but I will avoid spoilers here, and you will have to read the story to see if and how the modern can go hand in hand with the traditional.

The author tells the story in a simple, straightforward way, so that pre-teens or teens will have no problem reading on their own, and teachers and parents need not worry about content sensitivity. The author never sounds condescending to young readers, nor does she try to use sensationalism or high-tech gadgets to keep their attention. The traditional feel of storytelling does not take away from the story for a second — there is more than enough intrigue, danger, and even ghosts to stir interest and keep readers on their toes.

Who among us never wanted to explore an ancient house filled with peril, ghostly history and secret passages? And share the adventure with your best friend! This is just the perfect book for a curious young mind with a kind heart, teaching all the positive values our children should learn as they grow, so they can remind us, just in case we forget!

Taya on Amazon

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RIDDLE by E. H. Newton – my review no.32

Ah, the secrets that lie beneath the surface!


Four things drew me to this book – the fabulous title, recommendations from some friends, an amazing cover, and the teaser chapter posted on the website. It was intriguing, and the author’s style seemed so easy to read through and visualize, carrying hints of picturesque bitterness and ominous gloom which confirmed Riddle was not your typical romance, but much more. If you take the time to read the foreword, which I do, out of respect for any author, you will be on the hero’s side from the beginning, and I thank the author for a glimpse into social matters.

The main character is Kort, Native American uprooted and adopted, mistreated from childhood, and later convicted of murder under unclear circumstances. The fact that he returns to the town which accused him, speaks volumes by itself, but keeps you wondering if he came back for justice or vengeance. Meeting the heroine, Grace, made me like her immediately —  there is just something likeable about people who help others on gutt instinct, not calculating the odds and interests. With Norma, Tony and Agnes the story begins to spin in directions that remind me a bit of Twin Peeks, and your mind starts making assumptions, and all the what-ifs crawl in, keeping your interest.

Although the book needs slight editing and proofreading, which will certainly be dealt with soon, it truly lures you into its riddle. The scene with 2 significant letters waiting for the pizza to be finished was where you really get that fan feeling and want to shout at the characters ‘Darn the pizza, what’s in the envelopes?!’ The physical fight between the killer and a police deputy is really striking. I did guess the killer (the analogies are a nice touch), but the author led the story skillfully to its climax and untangled it fully, with a surprise waiting in the prologue. The final pages of chasing down the culprit had me on my toes, and the unravelling of the workings of the crazy criminal mind is shockingly vivid.

When you feel like reading a book which feels like watching a good mystery, with strong hints of romance and scary thriller scenes, this is the book for you. Strong characters on both sides (if you’re going to have a villain, make him/her memorable, right?) will have you rooting for and against them, happy to know there is always a happy ending. Or is there;)?

Riddle is available here