Blast from the Past: The Bee Talks With… Rachel Thompson

October 2019

Today I share an author interview from 2015 with an incredible lady:

May 2015

Profile Picture R. Thompson via Goodreads

Rachel Thompson profile picture
via Goodreads

Today I am happy to introduce you to Rachel Thompson. She is a writer with topics close to my heart: sexual abuse, suicide, healing and love and she does it in poetic words. Her new book “Broken Places” is out and it’s on my reading list.

But no more words. Let Rachel tell you more about herself and her writing experience:

*How would you describe yourself in one paragraph?  

Determined, compassionate, driven, lover, quietly powerful.

•A fun fact about you?  

I took 10 years of classical piano, though I mostly play Beatles songs. I can pick out pretty much any melody by ear, though.

•What made you write in the first place?  

I fell in love with The Secret Garden in fourth grade and decided I wanted to write a book as amazing as that. It’s still a goal!

•Which Author has influenced you and why?  

John Irving — I love how rich his characters are.

•What is your favourite book?  

The Time-Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger — it has all the elements of a great story: a hero’s journey, time travel, romance, mythology, beautiful language, interesting characters, a plot that moves. I have read it repeatedly.

•Your writing ritual (if you have one)?  

I find a word or phrase that moves me and noodle it for awhile. Eventually, I shut out all the ‘noise’ of life — no internet, no kids, no phone — and typically turn on some quiet music and just write without editing, just letting it flow. Getting that first draft out is so important.

•Your secret “sin” when you write?  

Other than no self-editing, that’s really it.

•Do you suffer from writers block and if, what do you do against it?

Not really block, more making myself focus and do it.

•Your advice for apprentice writers?

Don’t self-edit. Write what scares you. Don’t think about what ‘others’ will say — nobody can see your screen except for you, so go for it!

Thank you very much Rachel for letting us have a peek into your writing experience.

Book cover R Thompson Broken Places

Photo source: Goodreads

Rachel’s “Broken Places”

If you want to know more about Rachel, please have a look here:

Rachel’s homepage
Rachel on Twitter
Rachel on Facebook
Rachel on Amazon

Rachel’s “Broken Places” on Goodreads

Blast from the Past: The Bee Talks With… Khalid Muhammad

photo of Khalid Muhammad

photo of Khalid Muhammad

September 2019
Another blast from the past author interview
December 2014
Life can be ironic but maybe there are no co-incidents:
A day after Malala Yousafzai born in Pakistan’s Swat Valley received the Peace Nobel Prize an author born in the same place has agreed to talk to The Bee:
I am very proud to introduce you to Khalid Muhammad author of “Agency Rules ~ Never a Quiet Day At The Office” that will give you an inside point of view of what is going on Pakistan. But I’ll let the man speak for himself:
How would you describe yourself in one paragraph?
“I only need one word – driven. My childhood was filled with disappointments and hardship, it taught me one thing – never give up. I am very outgoing in my personality, always around to help others, but at the same time, I know what I want and will find a way to get there, no matter what it takes.
What made you write in the first place?
Well, I would have to take you back to 7thgrade English to explain that one. My English teacher was someone who encouraged us to express ourselves through writing. There were never any bounds placed on what we could write in our composition time. I still have some of the stuff that I wrote back in that class. It’s an angry teenager venting what he sees wrong with the world, explaining how things could be done better and looking for support and acceptance for his views. I think that is where I caught the bug.
If you are asking in terms of my current novel, Agency Rules – Never an Easy Day at the Office, the motivation was to tell the story of where Pakistan has come from and what we have been through internally to end up at the place that the media likes to highlight every evening. This was not a quick trip. The nation is not a haven for terrorists, but we do have a great deal of confusion in the narrative and no one seems to be able to tell the story right. My book is a path to learning what happened to Pakistan to make it the way it is, rather than offering a standard War on Terror symbolic novel. I wanted people to know what my Pakistan is all about – that we are a nation of good people; that we are a nation struggling to find our identity again after having it hijacked by extremists and terrorists and that we are a country that deserves to be explored because one visit to Pakistan and you’ll never believe what the media is tell you anymore.
Which Author has influenced you and why?
I would have to say that two authors greatly influenced me and my writing style. John LeCarre is one of my favorites. His ability to craft a character that is both dark and good is something that I am just honing in my own writing. Kamal Khan, my protagonist, is exactly that. He is quite dark from the perspective of the traditional playboy spy that readers are accustom to, but his intentions are always good for his nation and people.
The second author that has really influenced me is Fredrick Forsyth. Forsyth is a storyteller in the greatest form. He takes you from one location to another without skipping a beat. He will place you there and create an environment that actually makes you feel like you are really there. That is a fantastic ability to have and it’s something that I hope I will be able to achieve in my writing as time goes on.
Your writing ritual (if you have one)?
I don’t know if I would call it a ritual, but I am very set in the way that I write. I am one of those that jots and scribbles throughout the day and in the evening, during the quiet of the night, I settle in with a yellow legal pad and pen to start writing. I tried to do my writing on a computer at first, but I found that I am not able to type as fast as I think so I would have to go back and re-edit rather than stay in the stream of thought as I wrote. When I switched to the pad and pen method, I found that my writing got a lot clearer and the story developed easier for me.
Once I am done writing a chapter, I punch it into my computer and then start editing out and expanding on what is already there. It’s a longer process than some have, but it gives me a better result.
Granted, none of it would work without the thundering beat of heavy metal and hard rock in my headphones. It helps me go to the world that I am creating and forget everything else around me.
Do you suffer from writers block and if, what do you do against it?
I constantly suffer from writer’s block. I think you have to when you are writing otherwise it gets old and stale. My cure for writer’s block is television and books. It helps me to refresh my mind while entertaining me at the same time.
Your advice for apprentice writers?
Don’t get caught up in what people might think of your writing. Everyone goes through an adjustment phase where they have to get their internal thoughts to link up with the written word. The problem that most aspiring writers, including myself, have is that we try to perfect the writing thinking of what the reader is going to write in a review. That’s the worst way to write.
I tell the aspiring writers that talk to me to write for themselves. Tell your story the way you want to tell it. And for God’s sake, don’t take the reviews that you get to heart. Everyone has an opinion based on what they think, have read in the past and it comes out in their reviews. Most of the people who really love your book will not write a review, they will tell other people about it and spread the word that way. Your biggest fans will never make themselves public. They will reach out in private to tell you the impact your work had on them, how much they appreciated your writing and to encourage you to write more. Those are the people that I write for and those are the people that everyone else should write for.”
Thank you, Khalid, for visiting “The Bee Writes…” and letting us know a little about your writing life.
You are curious and want to know more about Khalid and his book? Please read on:
Blurb for Agency Rules – Never an Easy Day at the Office

Celebrated as a ragtag force that defeated and broke the Soviet Union, no one predicted the Mujahideen would bring with them a plague that would spread like wildfire through Pakistan in the years to follow. When the battle-worn fighters returned with no enemy or war to fight, they turned their sights on the country that had been their creator and benefactor.

From the same battlegrounds that birthed the Mujahideen, a young Kamal Khan emerges as a different breed of warrior. Discarding his wealthy family comforts, Kamal becomes a precision sniper, an invincible commando and a clandestine operative bringing intimidation, dominance and death with him to the battlefield. Ending the plague is his prime directive.

Shrouded in political expediency, hampered by internal power struggles, international espionage and doublespeak that makes Washington’s spin doctors proud, Kamal’s mission is a nightmare of rampant militant fundamentalism that threatens to choke and take Pakistan hostage. For him, the fight is not just for freedom, but the survival of a nation.

Book Cover Agency Rules by Khalid Muhammad

Photo Book Cover: “Agency Rules”

Author Bio:

By day, Khalid Muhammad is a mild-mannered business executive keeping busy running a marketing and brand management company. By night, his alter ego emerges; one that has a penchant for sadistic retribution towards those who wrong others, and that spends its time devising intricate and detailed plans for a nefarious end.

Born in Pakistan’s troubled Swat Valley, educated and raised in the United States, Khalid returned to Pakistan almost 17 years ago and fell in love with his country. His debut novel, Agency Rules – Never an Easy Day at the Office, is a journey behind the headlines about Pakistan, the world’s most dangerous place, to deliver an intense story that will challenge the reader to question everything they have been told about the country.

He began writing to let the wickedness escape, as the other option means a great deal of blood, numerous torture implements and… well, infinite ways to dump a body. It’s safer for everyone involved and less dangerous for the guilty… until he writes another book.

Buy Links:
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Blast from the Past: The Bee Talks With… Allie Burke

Portrait of Allie BurkeToday, a little out of the usual “The Bee Talks With…”-rhythm, I am happy to introduce to Allie Burke. She is a young author from Burbank, California, who writes books she can’t find anywhere in a bookstore as she says on her homepage.
It is close to the end of her virtual book tour with where she introduces her acclaimed “Enchanters” series. And again I am meeting someone who can say everything in just a few words. Now that speaks of talent. But without further ado let’s see what she has to say:
“How would you describe yourself in one paragraph?
I am a societal rebel, loyal friend and represented by tough love. That’s really it. There’s no way I could talk about myself for an entire paragraph.
A fun fact about you?
I’m not actually as badass and hardcore as people think I am.
What made you write in the first place?
I was bored.
Which author has influenced you and why?
Maggie Stiefvater, because she effectively writes what’s in my head.
What is your favourite book?
The Fault in Our Stars.
Your writing ritual (if you have one)?
No, I don’t have one. I just write.
Your secret “sin” when you write?
That made me laugh. I don’t even know what that means.
Do you suffer from writers block and if, what do you do against it?
No, there’s no such thing as writer’s block. It’s an excuse for lazy people.
Your advice for apprentice writers?
Stop calling yourselves aspiring, writers. If you write, you’re a writer. This is what Tymothy Longoria told me when I was writing my first book, and it was the best writing advice I’ve ever received. Well, I never listened to any of the other advice, but that’s not the point.”
Thank you very much, Allie, for letting us have a peek into your writing experience.
Image of Enchanted Series books
If you want to know more about Allie, please have a look here:
Allie’s homepage
Allie on Twitter
Allie on Facebook
Allie on Amazon
Allie’s Enchanters Series on Goodreads

Blast from the Past: The Bee Talks With… Sarah E. Olson

Book Cover Becoming One by Sarah E. Olson

This was first posted in April 2015:

Today I feel honored to host Sarah E. Olson who kindly agreed to answer my questions. Sarah has written a book called “Becoming One” where she describes her healing journey from abuse victim who has dissociated to becoming one and supporting others via her blog “Third Of A Lifetime”.

I will post a review of “Becoming One” tomorrow and I can only say that it is a powerful book. But enough said: here is what Sarah has to say for herself:

“How would you describe yourself in one paragraph?

Thank you for inviting me to your blog, Bee! I’m the author of Becoming One: A Story of Triumph Over Dissociative Identity Disorder, and have been active in online child abuse survivor support groups and talking with survivors for 20+ years. I curate links dealing with PTSD on my blog, Twitter, and Pinterest. My husband Dan and I live south of Boston with three inside cats who rule everything. I enjoy living in New England with its vivid changing seasons, although this winter has tested me! I began writing as a child, and never stopped. I’m intellectually curious, and relentless in tracking down details, which both helps and hinders productivity. In nonfiction, I read a lot about psychological trauma treatment, while in fiction, I primarily read police procedurals, dystopian novels, and dark psychological thrillers. There is often an overlap between my nonfiction and fiction interests. As one example, I loved The Hunger Games trilogy, not just for its story of revolution, but for how Katniss’s multiple traumas were subtly developed into very recognizable PTSD symptoms over the length of the series. It felt authentic to me. Fiction or nonfiction, I always want to read things that make me think.

A fun fact about you?

A strange artifact of my childhood abuse is that I hear music in my left ear, which is otherwise nearly deaf. It’s not music from an external source — it emanates from within my head. 🙂 I can’t change it, override it, or turn it off, and sometimes the selection is incredibly annoying. Like, why the muzak version of Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel” on endless repeat when I love her original?! Sometimes I can sing harmony with myself, which makes me laugh! It seems to pick up volume when I’m stressed. It’s not crazy or schizophrenic; it’s a dissociative thing that I accept as part of me. I’ll be exploring this and similar phenomena in more depth in my follow-up book titled Becoming One Every Day: Living Purposefully with Dissociative Identity Disorder, due in late 2015.

What made you write in the first place?

As a child, I began writing fairy tale stories which featured bright, beautiful, most-loved, and safe little girls. I wasn’t getting much of that in real life. In high school, I wrote poetry and short stories which I showed no one. As an adult, I trained to be a paralegal — a ghostwriter for attorneys. I’d learned my entire life that attention was not a good thing, so instead of going to law school I chose a support profession which guaranteed I would never receive credit for my writing. My quest for the last 20 years has been to challenge myself to risk putting my writing out there in a public way.

Which Author has influenced you and why? Combined with “What is your favourite book?”

I first read The Talisman, by Stephen King and Peter Stroub, about 30 years ago, and have reread it several times. It describes an alternate — but adjacent — universe to our own, kept separate by a force field which occasionally rips open and creates chaos in both worlds. It introduces the idea of ‘twinners,’ whereby if you are a happy person here, you have a twinner in the other realm with darker aspects. Or if you are evil here, your twinner is most likely fighting for forces of good on the other side. A lonely little boy accidentally steps into the other reality, and learns that he must find the Talisman which will either unite both realms or destroy them.

I read The Talisman long before I was formally diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder. The intriguing notion that there were ‘twinners’ in a nearby alternate reality hit me as very close to home, and fascinated me. I’d often felt that I must have crossed some huge surreal force field where all the rules and people were different, but somehow still very weirdly familiar. And I could never explain it, to myself or anyone else — but here was a book that offered an alternate reality that actually made some sense of my bizarre life. I believe that reading The Talisman made me much more open to exploring alternate realities within me, in therapy, than I’d ever have entertained otherwise.

Your writing ritual (if you have one)?

I don’t really have a ritual. I’m grateful any time I feel inspired, and take notes in those moments so I won’t lose the thread of what was important about it. At any one time I have numerous projects, fiction and nonfiction, floating around in my brain, but I’ve learned that I must really focus on one at a time or nothing gets finished.

Your secret “sin” when you write?

I drink far too much coffee! 🙂

Do you suffer from writer’s block and if, what do you do against it?

I do get writer’s block. For me, it’s about procrastination paired with perfectionism. Somewhere as a child I learned that if I can’t do it perfectly, I shouldn’t do it at all, which then makes me delay even trying. I fight that self-judgment daily, because it just stops me cold sometimes. I want the writings I put out into the world to be as good as they can be, but if I wait for “perfect” they’ll never be released. My commitment to myself this last year has been to finish things, which is why the ebook version of Becoming One exists today.

Your advice for apprentice writers?

No matter what you want to write, fiction or nonfiction, you need to keep writing. You need practice to learn your style and hone your voice. Like any skill, you get better the more you work it. At the same time, don’t stop reading! You can learn so much about writing craft by examining how other writers do it.

Beyond that, there’s never been a more exciting time to be a writer! You can control your own writing destiny, either by self-publishing or seeking a traditional publisher. Becoming One was first published by a very small press in 1997, and I was grateful for that opportunity. But today, with self-publishing, there are no gatekeepers, and you have choices that didn’t exist 20 years ago. Research those choices carefully, to be fully informed about whatever path you choose.

A great place to start that research is at to which I’ve subscribed for five+ years. Joanna Penn has steadfastly and honestly blogged her journey from being a blogger who writes about writing, to taking the leap into writing thrillers. Her website is a wealth of information for anyone looking to get started with writing and publishing. (I have no affiliation with her other than knowing that she is a genuinely helpful and generous person.)”

Thank you again, Bee, for your hospitality!

You are very welcome!


Please find her book on Amazon (link. below). A countdown deal of $.99 runs from 31. March to 6. April 2015 both on Amazon UK and US and it is also available on Kindle Unlimited.


Please find out more about Sarah here:

Sarah onTwitter
Sarah onPinterest


Life happens or am I the only one?

Quote by Charles R. Swindoll: "Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it."
photo credit: Brainy Quote

Good Morning, my dear readers. How are you doing? I hope life is treating you well. I am just back from my morning walk with Sherky who happily tried to hunt squirrels. Unfortunately for her, she is on a lead… She makes me laugh every time when she squeals because she really, really wants that squirrel.

I use these walks to meditate when I don’t have to calm down the crazy greyhound (I know it’s not her fault and she is far from crazy but hey…). It feels good to calm down my inner chatter of worry and somehow several different ways of meditation have developed. Today I chose to connect with my inner teacher. I got this idea from a chant I am listening to often lately which you can find on Meditative Mind’s YouTube Channel here. The Mantra that is repeated means: I bow to the universal creative wisdom. I bow to the divine teacher within.

For me there is no doubt that we all have inner wisdom we just do not always know how to listen to it. So my walk is mindful, listening to whats inside and as I am not a master also accepting my worry voices and letting them go. Its ongoing practice. A good one I feel.

Do you have a meditation practice you follow? How do you go about it?

My quest for wisdom of different sorts doesn’t stop there though. When I come home I consult Guardian Angel cards and one or the other sort of card by Colette Baron-Reid.

Today the Guardian Angels told me this:

Time to transform your perceptions into prosperity. Luck is with you today. You will be shown what to do next.

It is quite scary that this message comes up because my mindset is something I am pondering a lot lately. I am so fed up with feeling that I am a victim, that there is no job for me out there and not enough abundance either. Over time I have observed how successful people seem to think. To me it seems it is a positive spin on everything they do no matter how many setbacks they have. They do keep going and I feel that is something to pick up on.

I wonder a lot lately if its only me who seeks guidance from a higher source however you might call it. Surely even the starkest atheist uses something as his or her guidance to go forward and know what’s right or wrong for them? And science isn’t always as true and right as we might believe. What do you think?

The second guidance I chose today are Baron-Reid’s Wisdom of the Oracle cards which I don’t usually like. They usually tell me things I don’t want to hear. Today’s message basically is: You are the only one to get yourself out of your own sh.., listen closely and make sure you take good care of yourself.

Fair enough 🙂

At the moment I sit at the table in our front room (yes we call it “library” because we have all our books in there 😉 ) and can look through the window out on a blue but cloudy sky. One branch of the clematis sashays in a light breeze and the weather app tells me it is 19c/66.2F. It’s about 10AM.

I am so grateful that I have this time to sit and ponder life and to write. It feels like I slowly come back from the caged animal I have been for such a long time. But I just sit in the door not ready yet to go out and change what needs changing.

A little later my beautiful daughter from another mother will arrive to spent the weekend with us. She is homeschooled by her mother for a couple of years but unfortunately we haven’t managed to engage too in her education. Communication isn’t going well but maybe that is just a teenager thing and will change once she has outgrown all the angst and worry. I am hoping because I have learned if I “do” stuff and try to change something it usually backfires in some sort of way. So I wait and when she is ready I will be there as honest as I can be.

I often wonder how she sees her future. When I was her age I struggled with my mothers death and with the fear of a nuclear war breaking out and of course the environment. Acidic rain and air pollution were the main topics then. The difference I am seeing is that we had time to change things. Well, we perceived we had time. About 11 years are left and politicians and big business do jack sh.. to change anything because they are under the illusion that they can… well, what can they? Hide in a bunker? Get rid of the minions and bath in the riches they accumulated? Not quite sure how they want to eat their cash when noone can grow any food anymore but what do I know?

video credit: Just Have A Think via YouTube

I am not sure I want to go any further into this. Our news are full of the Tory leadership contest and I just can’t bear it anymore. Even though I prefer Mr Hunt (at least he stood up to the orange bafoon in the White House and said to keep Sir Daroch on) I believe either just promise us heaven on earth to keep the tories together and not to make our life better. But again what do I know?

And when I look at the state of the environment very soon the squabble of the political elite will be our least problem anyway. So I rather have a look at what Extinction Rebellion is up to here in their latest newsletter. I see myself as a rebel for life as they put it even though I am not going to die-ins or stick myself to streets and buildings. That’s not my style even though I am rather tempted to go to one of their bike rides in Norwich.

Currently I see my position in creating poetry that works on questions of worry, sadness, grief, wondering and hope about our environment and giving you bits and pieces to make up your own mind about the worldwide movement called Extinction Rebellion. Find more information about them here in their FAQ’s.

Then there is Wimbledon. I am not interested even though young Coco Gauff has impressed me a lot. Wimbledon for me means to think of my grandad who always watched it and my auntie who is a fully blown Roger Federer fan. She is from Switzerland so she can’t help it I guess 😉 (sorry aunty…)

Yesterday I changed to WordPress’s new block editor. Not sure what to make of it. I have started to learn coding via FreeCodeCamp some months ago and know a little about HTML and CSS but this editor seems a little confusing. But before I judge I am going to use it more and try to use my newfound knowledge to create something cool. Just not today LOL.

I guess I move on now. Still want to write down what good luck I had yesterday and what I am grateful for but I am not bothering you with it today 🙂 . Better leave you with a “Blast from the Past: Interview with Judith Works from 2015:

Portrait of Judith Works

February 2015

Today I am honoured to introduce you to Judith Works who has been living in Italy for 10 years and used her experiences in her two novels “City of Illusions” and “Coins In The Fountain”. She has kindly reached out to me and answered the questions and for that reason I won’t keep you from reading:

“How would you describe yourself in one paragraph?

I am a traveler and a writer who lived in Rome for ten years while working for the United Nations as an attorney in the Human Resource department. The experience turned me into a lover of all things Italian and also resulted in many friendships which I still treasure. I have visited over 100 countries but always return to Rome to throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain to ensure yet another return. My husband and I will be there again this spring.

A fun fact about you?

It wasn’t fun at the time, but I slept for a month on a deflated air mattress and cardboard on the marble floor in our empty apartment in Rome. Furniture had not yet arrived.

What made you write in the first place?

When I returned from Rome I wanted to capture the experience for others to enjoy. The stories resulted in a memoir titled Coins in the Fountain. Since that time I have continued to write, now with the novel, City of Illusions.

What author has influenced you and why?

Reading the lovely books about life in Tuscany by Frances Mayes was an inspiration. My experiences were not the same (no Tuscan Farmhouse and some dangerous experiences in Rome) but Ms. Mayes captures the lure of Italy and I wanted to do the same.

What is your favourite book? 

My favourite book is usually what I am reading, but if I have to choose one I would say it is Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerite Yourcenar.

Your writing ritual? 

I am a morning person, so it’s up at 6:00 with coffee. Also, I have a pad and pencil beside the bed in case a have a thought in the middle of the night.

Your “secret” sin when you write?

dark chocolate!!

Do you suffer from writers block and if, what do you do against it? 

I do “suffer” sometimes. I think a walk is always a good idea to clear my head.

Your advice for apprentice writers?

Recognize that unless you are a genius writing is hard work and it takes time to get it right. Also, the ability to receive and consider critique is essential.

What is in it for you?

I find writing a satisfying – a chance to put thoughts in order and to convey experiences to others. No doubt a feeling shared by other creative people.”

Dear Judith, thank you so much for giving us a glimpse of your writing life. May your return to Rome be blessed!

Book Cover of City of Illusions

You would like to know more about Judith and her work? Please look here:

Judith on Facebook
Judith’s Blog
Judith on Twitter
Judith’s Website 
Judith on

I love the fact that we now can have such close relationships with authors and often see their writing progress too. Isn’t that gorgeous? Which reminds me that one of my plans for this year was to publish another poetry book. This time I would need someone to beta read as I can’t afford an editor. Anyone interested?

Up until then could you please be so kind and do some advertising for me? I have put up some of my photos for purchasing via Dreamstime.

You can find my profile here (its an affiliate link btw)

Bee Halton on Dreamstime


And also have a look at these great authors & bloggers:

Carol Anne:


and for my German readers:


greyhound Sherky looking for a squirrel on Paston Way
greyhound Sherky looking for a squirrel on Paston Way

A happy life

just eat, walk and sleep

drama behind me

Thanks for stopping by. It’s been a pleasure to spent some time with you. Be asured you are in my thoughts and prayers. I pray for the whole world because I believe we desperately need it. In this sense

Love & Rage my friends Love & Rage

The Bee Talks With… Maria Luisa Lang

This post was first published in July 2017

Today I am honoured to introduce you to author and amateur Egyptologist Maria Luisa Lang who has written two interesting novels with a walking and talking cat. How curious is that?

She has been so kind to let us know more about her way of writing and about herself and with no further ado I let Maria introduce herself:

How would you describe yourself in one paragraph?

I was born in Italy and live in New York City. I have a degree in art from the City University of New York, and my artwork has been exhibited in New York galleries. I love all animals, especially cats, and I’m an amateur Egyptologist. I’ve published two novels, The Pharaoh’s Cat and The Eye of Nefertiti. The latter is both a sequel to The Pharaoh’s Cat and a standalone novel.

A fun fact about you?

I enjoy going to flea markets and thrift shops. So, not surprisingly, my cat visits a Bath flea market in The Eye of Nefertiti.

What made you write in the first place?

I’ve sketched and painted, and writing seemed a natural extension. Writing seems to be in my blood. My mother wrote a memoir of her experiences in Rome during the war, and one of my brothers is a noted Italian art critic and the author of several books and numerous articles. I’m fascinated by both cats and ancient Egypt and wanted to make an ancient Egyptian cat my protagonist. I also wanted to make ancient Egypt funny, and I’ve always felt that cats are natural comedians.

Which author has influenced you and why?

There are two actually: Kingsley Amis and Mikhail Bulgakov. I’ve been heavily influenced by Amis’s style of comedy and Bulgakov’s kind of fantasy. I describe my two novels as adult comedy, fantasy, historical. Without the creative freedom comedy and fantasy gave me, I couldn’t have written the novels I wanted to, one not only set in ancient Egypt but reflecting my love of cats.

What is your favourite book?

Again there are two: Amis’s Lucky Jim and Bulgakov’s Master and Margarita. One of Bulgakov’s characters is a cat who talks and walks upright, but the resemblance to my cat ends there. Bulgakov’s cat is a demon. Mine is no saint, but he has heroic qualities.

Your writing ritual (if you have one)?

I come up with my best ideas in the middle of the night. It must be the quiet.

Your secret “sin” when you write?

I often stop writing to count the pages I’ve already written. It gives me a break and reassures me.

Do you suffer from writer’s block, and if so, what do you do against it?

With me, it’s the opposite. My problem isn’t starting, but stopping. I revise a great deal, adding, subtracting, fine-tuning the prose. Whenever I read over what I’ve written, I find ways to improve it. With The Pharaoh’s Cat, this might have gone on forever if I hadn’t started planning The Eye of Nefertiti.

Your advice for apprentice writers?

The first chapter is the most important and the hardest. Don’t try to please an imaginary reader. It will only inhibit you and your writing will reflect that.

Thank you very much, Maria, for giving us a little insight into your writing experience. It was a pleasure having you on “The Bee Writes…”

You would like to know more about Maria Luisa Lang? Please have a look here:

Maria Luisa Lang on Goodreads

Maria Luisa Lang at Author Amy Shannon Blog

Maria Luisa Lang at Normandy’s Book Reviews


The cat must free Queen Nefertiti from a horrific curse 

The Eye of Nefertiti is both a stand-alone novel and a sequel to The Pharaoh’s Cat. The time-traveling ancient Egyptian feline with human powers returns together with his beloved Pharaoh and his close friends, the High Priest of Amun-Ra and Elena, an Egyptologist’s daughter.

The cat is quick-witted, wise-cracking narrator as well as free-spirited, ever-curious protagonist, and the story he tells is an exotic, imaginative, spell-binding tragicomedy. The cat travels from present-day New York City to England, both ancient and modern, then to ancient Egypt, where he confronts a horrible demon and experiences a sublime emotion. Once back in England, he descends into a psychological abyss so deep only the Pharaoh can save him.

The Eye of Nefertiti interweaves feline and human, past and present, natural and supernatural. It contains numerous surprises, twists and turns, intriguing characters, both human and animal, fascinating revelations about ancient Egyptian history and culture, and an ingenious application of the Tarot and an Italian opera.

The Eye of Nerfertition Amazon

The Eye of Nefertiti on Goodreads

Blast from the Past: The Bee Talks With… M.J. Williams

May 2019

The more I work through my old posts the more I want to interview authors again. Maybe I start this series anew? What do you think?

January 2015

A new year and a new interview. I am so looking forward to all the exciting authors who will be a guest on “The Bee Writes…” this year.

If you are interested: Please feel free to send me an email with the subject “The Bee Talks With…” to bee.halton(at) You can find more information about this interview series here: The Bee Talks With…

Today I am welcoming M.J Williams an author duo consisting of sisters-in-law Peggy Joque Williams and Mary Joy Johnson (nee Williams). They are writing the “On The Way To…” mystery series with their main characters Emily and Stan Remington. Both love to drive an RV and seem to end up in murder mysteries wherever they go.

But enough of the introduction. Let M.J. Williams speak for themselves:

How would you describe yourself in one paragraph?

We are a writing team comprised of Peggy Williams and Mary Joy Johnson (nee Williams). In fact, we are sisters-in-law.  Peggy is an elementary school teacher and a free-lance writer and screenwriter. Mary Joy is a retired college teacher and a professional quilter.

What made you write in the first place?

Peggy has been writing since forever. Her memories of writing go back to grade school. She writes in multiple genres and for multiple forums and media. Mary Joy taught writing on the college level and when approached by Peggy to work together on a mystery thought it would be a good idea to put her words into action.

Which Author has influenced you and why?

For models we look to mystery writers Louise Penny and William Kent Krueger for their character studies and use of setting. But our mentor is Christine DeSmet, author of the Fudge Shop mystery series, who reads our work and pushes us to write to the best of our abilities.

Your writing ritual (if you have one)?

The closest we come to a ritual are the Sunday afternoon writing sessions that take place in Peggy’s dining room while her husband (Mary Joy’s brother) watches football in the living room. However, we will brainstorm, write, and rewrite anywhere and anytime.

Do you suffer from writers block and if so, what do you do against it?

Not “writers block” per se, but we take longer to complete a novel than we would like. We have lots of excuses, such as work and our social lives getting in the way, but sometimes it comes down to fear of not writing well. Then we just have to knuckle down and challenge ourselves to “get ‘er done.”  Deadlines are a good way for us to overcome writers block.

Your advice for apprentice writers?

Don’t be afraid of writing badly. Get those first words onto the page. But never publish bad writing. Don’t be satisfied with just one or two drafts. Find people who know how to write and know your genre and ask them to read and give specific feedback on your work. Continually ask yourself if there is “a better way to say that.” Do a search in your manuscript of words and phrases that you tend to use often and see how frequently you really do use them…then challenge yourself to find a way to say what needs to be said using different words and phrases.

Portrait of P & J Wiliams

You would like to know more about M.J. Williams or want to purchase their books? Please look here:

M.J. Williams on Amazon

M.J. Williams on Facebook

On the Road to Death’s Door (1st in the series)


On the Road to Where the Bell’s Toll (2nd in the series)


Musings of a MadCityWriter

Blast from the Past: A New Series: The Bee Talks With…..

Description for visually impaired readers: Illustration of three trees with differently coloured canopies to the left. In middle black writing says: The Bee Talks With…

March 2019

I already have re-posted several of the “The Bee Talks With…” post but I think it’s good to see where it all started 🙂

September 2014

It is my pleasure to announce a new series this blog will start on Thursday:

It is called “The Bee Talks With…”

and is a little Q & A series with authors for you to find out what makes them write, how they deal with writer’s block, advice for apprentice writers and most of all to find out about their great books and where you can purchase them.

First Interview: CandiSilk

First in line will be the delicious CandiSilk, who has given wonderful answers. I cannot wait to bring you this exciting interview, so please stay tuned to not miss the fun.

Are you interested in taking part?

If you are interested to take part in “The Bee Talks With…” please send me a message at bee.halton[at] with the subject “The Bee Talks With…” and I’ll send you the questions.

Don’t worry: only 6 questions

Don’t worry, it won’t take you hours to answer them: they are 5 about yourself, your writing, your advice for apprentice writers and of course introductions to your books and links to your pages and where to purchase your books. If you have not published yet, this is a great way to advertise for your future book and shout about the publishing date.

And more conversations

When CandiSilk and I discussed Thursday’s interview we realised that there are more questions to be examined surrounding the prejudices about writing and reading erotica. Therefore, we will continue the conversation in another series called “Let’s Talk about …. Erotica”

The exact in’s and outs are not set yet, but I will let you know as soon as we have found the right setting for them.

Taking Stock

I have been taking stock not only of my life lately (mid-forties the mid-life crises is hitting in 😉 ) but also about where this blog is going and I realised I am not exactly happy with the features I have used so far.

Need your Feedback

Three will stay for sure which are “Good Morning Writers!“, “Resources for Free” and of course ” A Prompt A Day For Bee“. Everything else is up for revision and I would be very grateful for your feedback of which posts you enjoy the most.

I love Change

I love change as it keeps us alert and alive and I am really excited to see where this blog moves. Those interviews are a great feature and I believe they will be fun both for authors and readers. And therefore:

So long….

and thank you for the … feedback and taking part ;-)!

The Bee Talks With…. Derek Haines

photo permission by Derek Haines

March 2019

In 2014 I started an author interview series for self-publishing author’s which I have retired last year.

But the interviews are still great and the author’s answers often incredibly funny so on and off I am re-posting them. Here is one from November 2014 by an incredibly versatile author who does a lot for self-publishing authors. Just check out his blog at the end of the post.

November 2014

Today I am proud to present Derek Haines, who calls himself “Writer, Teacher, Blogger”. Aussie living in Switzerland and writing what he enjoys.

I have met Derek a few years ago online and he has been so kind as to take part in my “Proust Questionaire” series on my old blog. On and off I follow his brilliant blog “The Vandal” and if you are a self-publisher you should follow it too: It is a well of great information and advice to guide you through the labyrinth of publishing yourself.

Several of his books have entertained me brilliantly, most of all his sci-fi series “The Gothic Tales” which still make me laugh long after I have finished the books (well, I still have to read book three 🙂 my reading list is just toooooooo long… ).

And last but not least his book lovers page “Whizbuzz” which brings together readers and writers in new ways and has brought them much reading and writing joy.

But enough of the introduction. Here are his answers to my “infamous” (;-) ) questions:

“How would you describe yourself in one paragraph?

In one word, a nonconformist. No matter how hard I have tried during my life, swimming with the fish has never been one of my strong points, as I have the annoying habit of continually questioning the orthodox, accepted and norm. With this attitude, I discovered very early in life that I was destined to be a difficult employee, so I saved potential employers any possible future torment by becoming self-employed – and on occasions of course, self-unemployed. In either state however, I have always managed to do what I love best. Create.

What made you write in the first place?

My high school English teacher, who was just so drop-dead gorgeous and had the habit of wearing very short mini-skirts, gave me the ideal motivation to write. She smiled at me every time I handed in my essays, and during class writing sessions, she would lean over my shoulder to offer advice, with her long dark hair brushing my cheek. A totally macho-sexist explanation, but she must be credited with giving a wild and rebellious early seventies teenager a reason to appreciate the beauty of the written word and the English language. She was a Jimi Hendrix fan too, which made her even cooler. Thirty years later, and thanks to her perhaps, I began my studies to become an English language teacher.

Which author has influenced you and why?

I have always been influenced by the last good book I read, so the list is very long. However, if I go right back to when I was a kid, it started with Enid Blyton, by introducing me to the pleasure of reading, and then as a teenager it was Erik von Daniken, because of his totally off the planet views and beliefs. Later came Douglas Adams for cleverness and James Clavell for epic continuity. More recently, Jasper Fforde became a favourite of mine because of his insanely unique stories based on Mother Goose characters in his Nursery Crimes Squad books.

Your writing ritual (if you have one)?

When I write a new book, I write like crazy and skip meals, forget to do the shopping, ignore humans and generally pop off the planet for quite a while. Luckily though, there are very long periods of normality between these episodes, during which time I lead a boringly normal and routine existence, with my feet firmly planted on the planet, and I return to communicating with the humans in my life once again. I write almost every day; be it an article or a blog post, which I suppose makes me a writer, but one who suffers from episodic bouts of being an author.

Do you suffer from writer’s block and if, what do you do against it?

Never. My only writing affliction as far as books are concerned is abject laziness, which I accept is part of the process and happily categorise it as productive thinking time. So, I wait patiently for the motivation to pop off the planet to arrive once again, and then the words flow easily. For day-to-day writing though, I am quite disciplined and have no trouble finding ideas to work with.

Your advice for apprentice writers?

Become a plumber or a dentist. Those vocations pay much better. But if one must pursue the life of a writer, and worse, an author, learn to eat less, and don’t give up your day job. Becoming a successful writer is a tough road to travel and very, very few manage to make a living from their words. But being a writer is intensely satisfying if you have a passionate reason to write, and the burning desire to express your inner self. By far, the most important factor in learning to be a writer is in developing your own unique writing voice. Without this, writing is merely text on a page. The only other advice I would give is to learn to accept that criticism is as an ongoing and positive process that helps a writer improve. You learn little about your writing from those who love you, but you can learn a hell of a lot from those who don’t, and aren’t afraid to honestly say what they think.”

Thank you Derek, for letting us peek into your writing life and your advice.

Derek’s latest book

You got curious? Look here for Derek Haines and his books:



Blast from the Past: The Bee Talks With… Shandy Jo

December 2018

I have just been checking Shandy Jo’s links but most of the blogs etc are removed. She is also not on Twitter anymore. I have found one link where you can read her books which is on Manic Readers. The link is at the end of this post. Well, of course, it might be better to not post this one again but I loved her books and I think they are worth checking out. No idea what happened to the lady 😦

But this is part of my old “The Bee Talks With…” series so I’ll keep it for you, my dear readers…

November 2014

Wow, guys and gals this lady is brilliant. Her name?

Shandy Jo, author of the Survivalista’s series which was my first book review for Butterfly-O-Meter. She can say it in practically one sentence. At least that is what she has done in this interview. Short, exact and to the point.

As a family lady she has to be I suspect to get where she is now with her blogs and her three-part series. So with no further ado, I let you see what I mean :-):

“How would you describe yourself in one paragraph?

Um, I hate describing myself. I’m eclectic, weird and very family oriented. I know that’s not a paragraph but it sums me up pretty good.

What made you write in the first place?

I love reading. After reading so much, it just seemed natural to start writing my own stories.

Which Author has influenced you and why?

I always say Peirs Anthony, because I was reading his books when I decided to start writing.

Your writing ritual (if you have one)?

 I turn on my laptop and start typing or grab my notepad and start writing. I really don’t have time to have a ritual, I write when I can, where I can.

Do you suffer from writer’s block and if, what do you do against it?
Oh yeah, I just have to let it run it’s course. I might read or do research on the book’s subject, to help but overall I think for me writer’s block is my way of telling me I need a break.

Your advice for apprentice writers?

Keep writing. Don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t do it. Just keep at it.”

Dear Shandy thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions and for letting my readers have a closer look into your writing experience.

As for you dear readers: Survivalista’s is a three-part series which follows Indiana, Lyric and Mica three girls who have to find their way through a zombie apocalypse. This is not your usual zombie book as it does not concentrate mainly on the gory bits but on how these girls deal with it in their own special way. Certainly worth reading!

You are curious now and want to know more about Shandy and the Survivalista series? Look here:

Manic Readers: Author Shandy Jo

This is the only source I could find where you still can get her books. All links on that profile are the ones I used to have and they are removed.