Friday, November 22, 2019

If I Could Change America...

Good evening, beautiful readers! As a member of RWISA, I was challenged to think about how I could change the world if money and time were not an issue. Although I deviated a little from the question, I was inspired to write this poem. I hope you enjoy it!

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Author Spotlight - Balroop Singh!

Hello, beautiful readers! Today, I'd like to share you with a wonderful poet, Balroop Singh. She is a member of the Rave Reviews Book Club (#RRBC). Here is more about her from her author bio:

Balroop Singh is a former teacher and an educationalist and has always had a passion for writing.  She is a poet, a creative non-fiction writer, a relaxed blogger and a doting grandma. She writes about people, emotions and relationships. Her poetry highlights the fact that happiness is not a destination but a chasm to bury agony, anguish, grief, distress and move on! No sea of solitude is so deep that it can drown us. Sometimes aspirations are trampled upon, the boulders of exploitation and discrimination may block your path but those who tread on undeterred are always successful.

When turbulences hit, when shadows of life darken, when they come like unseen robbers, with muffled exterior, when they threaten to shatter your dreams, it is better to break free rather than get sucked by the vortex of emotions. She has always found poetry a more suitable genre of expression as it flows spontaneously and smoothly. Just a metaphor can evoke emotions that can’t be described in a thousand words. Poetry touches our deepest cords; develops perceptions and liberates us from the mundane. Due to its ambiguous nature, it can be interpreted in more than one way, depending on how the reader discerns the thoughts.
 A self-published author, she is the poet of Sublime Shadows of Life Emerging From Shadows and Timeless Echoes – her widely acclaimed poetry books. She has also written When Success Eludes, Emotional Truths Of Relationships, Allow Yourself to be a Better Person, her latest poetry book Moments We Love has just been released.
Balroop Singh has always lived through her heart. She is a great nature lover; she loves to watch birds flying home. The sunsets allure her with their varied hues that they lend to the sky. She can spend endless hours listening to the rustling leaves and the sound of waterfalls. The moonlight streaming through her garden, the flowers, the meadows, the butterflies cast a spell on her. She lives in San Ramon, California.
Her bio makes me want to visit her and spend time with her amid her surroundings. So, let's read some of her beautiful poetry. 

Excerpt from Emerging From Shadows


Blooming blossoms, whispering wind
Carried me far into the haven of peace
Solitude softly spoke in serene tone,
We welcome weary travelers alone

Divesting dirty robes of dissent
We revel in the glorious sun
You too can embrace this light
Just follow it with smiling delight

The light that enlightens the mind
The light that permeates all around
Adds new dimension to thoughts
Guides us out of those knobby knots

Illumines those innate virtues
When we try to shake them off
In annoyance, in rage, in resentment
Leisurely hours are wistfully spent

Rejoicing in the new found glee
We sat and shared upon His knee
Palpable peace pervaded all around
Into which all dismay drowned.
© Balroop Singh

Excerpt from Timeless Echoes


The ink dried on the pages
You left at my desk
Words glare at me
And echo your thoughts…
All that you didn’t say!

Did you say you love me?
How could my arms oppress you?
Was your soft tone a show off?
The sea of your eyes
A delusion?

The ghosts of your journal
Follow me unawares
The embers of your love
Still smolder within me
Smothering my breath out

I carry dead demons of your memory
Looking for a place to bury them.
© Balroop Singh

Excerpt from Moments We Love:

When Love Whispers

We walked those woods
A thousand times
The silence; the symphonies
The shadows; the light

Lingering in the aura of love
Velvety sky watches
Stars shine brighter
With our whispers

Our love deeper than woods
Paces through night
Swaying with the breeze
Stilling my heart, singing lullabies.
© Balroop Singh

Balroop doesn't only write poetry. She also writes non-fiction. Here is an excerpt from Allow Yourself to be a Better Person.


   Self-esteem is not given; it is earned; it is cultivated and it is snatched when others try to smash it. I have faced the worst of criticism and ridicule for being too thin and tall, for failing in Math, for writing beautifully and neatly but incapable of completing a given test within the specified time, for keeping aloof and being arrogant. The list is very lengthy but the reality is that my self-esteem could never get shattered with the insensitivity around me because I knew those were hollow observations of jealous people. I knew I am enough!

   People around me could never hurt my self-esteem, not because I was never in such a situation but because I never let them! Even as a child when I was asked to apologize for no fault of mine, to please somebody’s ego, I refused. I knew I would be punished but I didn’t care!

   My mirror has never told me that I am not the best or I can’t excel. I always knew I am much better than many. Criticism of others affects me in a positive manner. I try to introspect and dismiss the judgment of others as their opinion. I try to work on my imperfections in such a manner that enhances my self-esteem.

What lowers self-esteem?
·         Negative home environment
·         Broken families
·         Bullying
·         Insensitive friends
·         Shaming by a parent or a teacher
·         Self-blaming
·         Intimidating or controlling partner
·         Demanding boss
·         Dwelling on your weaknesses

What can help?
   Positivity: Read positive quotes, think positive thoughts, spend more time in the company of positive-minded people. Walk away from those who don’t respect your opinion. Try to understand that there is no age for personality enhancement and your growth and development is an ongoing process. Have faith in yourself and your capabilities. Don’t compare yourself to your friends or colleagues. Stop blaming yourself just because others try to shift their responsibility.

   Face your fears: If you let your fears hibernate, if you don’t discuss them even with yourself, they could shrink your heart, wound your spirit and keep consuming the remnants of your mettle to fight them. Let those alligators out of your mind. Discuss them with a confidant or a therapist. Learn to accept the fear of failure because only when we fail do we rise with renewed zeal and energy.

   Forgive yourself: Forgiveness is that virtue, which sets us free and acquaints us with the finest emotions. It unshackles the chains of guilt that we weave around us. It soothes our mind. We can emerge out of those dark corridors of fears and insecurities that people around us pushed into. We can see ourselves in a new light. Self-forgiveness, even if we may be guilty of hurting others, is of utmost importance to build our self-esteem.

   Quit self-criticism: Self-judgment is more detrimental than the nasty remarks of others. It makes us doubt our own intentions, it ruins our confidence, it pulls us back into the dumps of depression and lowers our self-esteem. Self-reflection is good as far as it encourages us to work on our weaknesses. It is better to train your mind to think positive, to remember that those who attack our self-esteem are actually dealing with their own insecurities.

   Take pride in pursuing activities you love: Invest in yourself. Search within. Spend time with yourself and indulge in those activities that you enjoy. Stop pleasing people around you. Be proud of yourself and your little accomplishments. Self-love is not being selfish, it is being kind to yourself. Don’t allow anybody to disrespect what you like to do. Count your strengths and your blessings. Be yourself. The best freedom is being you.
© Balroop Singh

As you can see, Balroop Singh writes beautifully and has so much to share with everyone. If any of this has peaked your interest in her works, you can connect with her here:

Thanks for joining me today for this author spotlight! Feel free to share your comments below. I'm sure Balroop would love to hear from you. :-)

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Author Spotlight - Beem Weeks

Hello, beautiful readers! Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to Beem Weeks, a dedicated and incredible member of the Rave Reviews Book Club#RRBC) and the Rave Writers - International Society of Authors (#RWISA). He is an author, editor, blogger, blog talk radio host, video producer, and social media director for Fresh Ink Group. He has written many short stories, essays, poems, and the historical fiction/coming of age novel entitled Jazz Baby. Beem has also released Slivers of Life: A Collection of Short Stories and Strange Hwy: Short Stories. Apart from two years spent in Ft. Myers, Florida, Beem is a lifelong native of Lansing, Michigan, USA.

So, let's learn more about Beem and his writing!

What inspires you to write?

All sorts of things. Little snippets of conversation overheard at the grocery store, a story on the news, an obituary in the newspaper, simple ideas with a “What if?” tossed in the mix. Inspiration is all around. We just need to become aware of it.

What do you love most about writing?

The creativity of bringing a story to life is always an amazing feeling. At a certain point in writing, that flow will take over, and the story almost writes itself. I’m also a big fan of completing the story. Nothing beats the finished product.

What do you find to be the most challenging part of writing?

Finding time to actually write. I have so much on my plate these days, writing time seems scarce. When I do have a few hours, they’ll often come at the end of the workday, when I least want to stare at a computer again. I have ideas for a dozen short stories and three novels written in notebooks, on scraps of paper, and in partially written form on my computer. I just need to find the time, and to be motivated when I have a few hours. 

How do you craft your stories and characters? 

The characters are often ideas in my head. I’ll get a feel for certain personality traits for a character. From there, I’ll conjure some situations for this new person inside my head. I’ll usually come up with a short outline of the story from start to finish. Then, when the actual writing part begins, I’ll play around with it until I find the narrator’s voice, the cadence of that voice pacing the story, and the weave of the plot threads (Does the story make sense?). Sometimes this might take a few attempts. But often, all these items will fall into place and I’ll be off and running.

How much research is involved? 

That all depends on the story itself. Jazz Baby required long hours of research, spread out over months—and even years. That story takes place in the 1920’s. Since I came into this world many decades after that era, I needed to learn the details of a typical life in 1925. But it’s often the little things that matter most. I couldn’t have my characters listening to a car radio at that time, since those weren’t available until 1927—and even then, most people couldn’t afford such a luxury. I learned radios in cars didn’t become common until 1931. Upon learning this fact, I was forced to change a scene in the story—which worked out even better. Most of the time, I’ll spend a few hours on research, then Google anything specific as I’m writing. 

How long did it take from idea to finished book? 

Jazz Baby took eight years. However, I put it away for two years, leaving it alone for that entire duration. I never intended to release it. I did many rewrites on the story—which ate up most of that time. My short stories and short story collections took much less time. I can write a 2500+ word short story and have it ready for publication in under three days. 

Do you have any writing rituals or habits? 

Well, I’ll usually sacrifice a unicorn and roast it on an open fire. Just kidding. I have no ritual or habit—other than needing complete silence when writing. I lock myself inside my room and just write. There’s no special preparation, nothing that sets the mood.

What is your favorite theme or genre to write? 

I love historical fiction. Writing in a long-past era is like traveling through time—if done correctly. My short stories are written in various genres: sci-fi, spiritual, horror, coming of age, humor, young adult. I love to tell stories about people who feel like your neighbor or friend or former classmate. 

Which character you've created is your favorite and why? 

Emily Ann “Baby” Teegarten is my favorite. She’s really the one who kicked things off for me as a published writer with the release of Jazz Baby. She’s just a strange mixture: complex, yet simple. Writing her really sharpened my skills in character development. After her, I’d say Vrable Tambor, from my short “Looking for Lucy”, is a close second. He’s a young boy, ten years old. His parents have separated. I just really connected with him, as my parents divorced when I was seven. I knew the pain and confusion this boy dealt with.   

What do you hope readers take away from your books? 

I hope they’ve been entertained, first and foremost. And I’d like the story and the characters remain fresh in their minds once they’ve finished the story. There are books I read years ago that still creep back into my mind from time to time. Good writing will do that. 

Do you ever hate something you've written? 

Sure. Most writers have those things they’re not happy with. These are the pieces that never meet the readers. They stay in a file on my computer. Sometimes I’ll cannibalize them and take scenes or lines of dialog from them and add them to a current work. But mostly they stay hidden from public eyes until I can re-write them. I have three such items in that file at the moment. 

How do you overcome any nagging self-doubt that inevitably creeps in? 

I’m not arrogant or cocky where my writing is concerned. But neither am I filled with self-doubt. All I can do is write the piece and let readers determine if it’s good or bad. I am blessed and fortunate to have mostly positive reviews for my work. But I have also received some not so positive words concerning my stories. As with any creative endeavor in this life, some will like it while others may not. In those rare moments where I may feel self-doubt creeping in, I just sit at my computer and write my way through it.  

Do you read all the reviews left for your books? 

I read each and every review I receive. Most have been encouraging. 

Why are reviews important? 

Reviews allow the author insight into readers thoughts on their work. It’s a good way to know if the author is connecting with readers. 

What advice would you give aspiring writers? 

Know what you’re doing. If you don’t understand proper punctuation, sentence structure, or the difference between showing what is happening versus telling the readers what’s going on, reach out to others who may be able to teach you these things. Nothing kills a good story quicker than mistakes. If the tense or the POV keeps switching up, I won’t bother finishing the story. I have a Kindle full of half read stories. Be sure of every word you are releasing into the world. 

What can you tell us about what we will see from you next? 

I am currently hard at work on several projects. I hope to have a stand-alone short story (5000 to 8000 words) ready for release around Christmas. I’m still working on my second novel, another historical fiction piece, entitled The Secret Collector. That may be finished by spring—though I make no promises to that. There are also four other short stories in various stages of creation. Hopefully those will meet readers in the new year.  

Do you have any other words of wisdom to share with our readers? 

Take your work seriously, but at the same time, have fun with the entire process. If you find yourself frustrated or angry during the run from writing to release, take some time away, clear your head, and change your attitude. And always be sure to share only your very best with the world. If it’s any good, your work will most assuredly outlive you. 

Thank you, Beem! If you enjoyed this interview, check out his newest release, Strange Hwy: Short Stories.

 If you ever find yourself on the Strange Hwy—don’t turn around. Don’t panic. Just. Keep. Going. You never know what you’ll find.
You’ll see magic at the fingertips of an autistic young man,
•A teen girl’s afternoon, lifetime of loss.
•A winged man, an angel? Demon—?
•Mother’s recognition, peace to daughter.
•Danny’s death, stifled secrets.
•Black man’s music, guitar transforms boy.
•Dead brother, open confession.
•First love, supernatural?—family becomes whole!
You can exit the Strange Hwy, and come back any time you want.
See, now you know the way in, don’t be a stranger.

Do you want to learn more about Beem? Find him here:

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Welcome to Part 2 of "THE MEREST LOSS" Blog Tour! @ StevenNeil12 @4WillsPub #RRBC #RRBC_Community

Hello, beautiful readers! Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to Steven Neil, a member of the Rave Reviews Book Club (#RRBC)! Steven writes historical fiction and Victorian historical romance. He has a BSc in Economics from the London School of Economics, a BA in English Literature and Creative Writing from the Open University and an MA in Creative Writing from Oxford Brookes University. He has been a bookmaker's clerk, bloodstock agent, racehorse breeder and management consultant amongst other professions in his varied career. He is married and lives in rural Northamptonshire, England. The Merest Loss is his debut novel. Steven is here today to share with us some authors who inspire him.

Inspirations for writing: Ten authors.

Here are ten snapshots of the authors who have inspired me in my writing career.

Jane Austen
Ground breaking. Smart, funny, acute and influential on authors ever since. All her novels can be read again and again but I particularly love Mansfield Park and Persuasion.

Anthony Trollope
The master craftsman. Witty, arch, satirical and full of wonderful observation and subtle character assassination. Try the Barchester Chronicles or The Way We Live Now.

Thomas Hardy
The doyen of 19th century rural romance with a cutting edge. Tess of the D’Urbervilles and Far From The Madding Crowd combine plot, character and setting to great effect; elegies to a time gone by.

Ernest Hemingway
The man who showed us all how to tell a lot more story in a lot less words. The Old Man and the Sea and For Whom the Bell Tolls do not disappoint.

F. Scott Fitzgerald
A gifted, extravagant and flawed genius. The Great Gatsby still glitters. The best short stories have their own special magic and The Diamond as Big as the Ritz  and The Lees of Happiness are two of my favourites.

John Steinbeck
Doesn’t seem to get the attention he deserves these days but Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath are great examples of how to develop character through dialogue and action rather than telling.

J.D. Salinger
First person stream of consciousness writing at its best. The Catcher in the Rye is quite rightly a modern classic but the much less well known, and equally brilliant, short story collection, For Esme with Love and Squalor, is also a joy.

John Fowles
A truly English 20th century author with his roots in the 19th century. The Magus is wonderfully exotic storytelling and the effortless switching between points of view, in Daniel Martin, shows how it should be done.

Kazuo Ishiguro
An author other writers can learn from: meticulous, elegant and atmospheric. Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go are very different but equally captivating.

Hilary Mantel
A modern ‘great’ in my view. Wolf Hall is not an easy novel but it repays investment and the omniscient narration in the present tense is a powerful mix in Mantel’s hands.

© Steven Neil

I'm sure many of us can agree with him on those authors! If you love historical fiction or Victorian historical romance, then you are going to want to read his debut novel, The Merest Loss

A story of love and political intrigue, set against the backdrop of the English hunting shires and the streets of Victorian London and post-revolutionary Paris.

When Harriet Howard becomes Louis Napoleon’s mistress and financial backer and appears at his side in Paris in 1848, it is as if she has emerged from nowhere. How did the English daughter of a Norfolk boot-maker meet the future Emperor? Who is the mysterious Nicholas Sly and what is his hold over Harriet?

Can Harriet meet her obligations and return to her former life and the man she left behind? What is her involvement with British Government secret services? Can Harriet’s friend, jockey Tom Olliver, help her son Martin solve his own mystery: the identity of his father?

THE MEREST LOSS is available in paperback and eBook in the UK, US, France, Canada and Australia.

Follow Steven Neil on for information on how to purchase the paperback through an independent bookseller in the UK.

Would you like to learn more about Steven Neil? Try these links:

To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the author's tour page on the 4WillsPublishing site.  If you'd like to book your own blog tour and have your book promoted in similar grand fashion, please click HERE.

Thanks for supporting this author and his work!