Tima is a former ancient historian and archaeologist who accidently smashed a 3,000 Egyptian vase while on her first dig! Her supervisor made her glue it back together again. It took a week. From there she went on to specialise in late Roman-British archaeology, and the military forts along Hadrian’s Wall, because buildings don’t smash as easily.  Now she’s combined her love of history with another passion—story-telling—to create a dark tale of Roman soldiers cursed by a British witch.

Is your recent book part of a series?

My recent book, Bloodpledge, is Book 2 of my gothic series, The Dantonville Legacy. Before this year ends, I hope to release Book 3, BloodVault.


What are the special challenges in writing a series?

There are a few. Contradicting yourself is one of them. By that I mean, if you’ve killed off a character in Book 1, make sure they don’t suddenly make an appearance in Book 3! Unless, of course, you’re writing sci-fi and they’ve been resurrected. I remember reading one series, by a well-known traditionally published author, where the main character’s name was changed!

To avoid inconsistency, I keep detailed notes of all my characters and their world.

How did you choose the genre you write in? Or did it choose you?

It definitely chose me, lol! Being an archaeologist and ancient historian, I always thought I’d write a historical novel, so it was a surprise to me when I began to write a paranormal gothic suspense series. I’ve always loved paranormal suspense mysteries, so maybe it was inevitable. But saying that, possibly Book 4 or 5 of this series will be set in 3rd century Britain, where the story began.

If you were to advertise your book on a bumper sticker, what would it say?

Are You Bloodgifted?

Is it important for you to know the ending of a book before you write it? The title?

For me, yes. When I began writing Bloodgifted, I knew the story from beginning to end. In a way, I was working backwards from the end as most mystery writers do.

How important is the choosing of character names to you? Have you ever decided on a name and then changed it because it wasn’t right for the character?

I find the name has to fit the character and their world. For example, I chose the name Dantonville because is the English version of the French D’Antonville, which is itself derived from the Latin, Villa Antonii—the House of Antonius (Marcus Antonius Pulcher), a cursed Roman soldier.

You’ll have to read the book to find out.

Can you tell us about your road to publication?

I didn’t consciously set out to be an indie author, but the more I researched it, the more I thought to give the indie road a trial. After entering a couple of writing competitions and reaching the finals, I was offered a publishing contract, which I seriously considered.

I’m still not sure if I made the right decision.

How much research was involved in writing your book? How did you go about it?

Before I began writing Bloodgifted, I was working on my Masters in Romano-British Archaeology. After I handed in my introductory thesis I had a two-month break, and being bored, I began to write a fictional story based around my research. Bloodgifted was born.

Having our work out there to be judged by strangers is often daunting for writers. Do you have any tips on handling a negative review?

Okay, I learnt this the hard way – you ignore it. Take what you can from it and move on, because no matter how good your work, you will never please everyone. There will always be someone who will hate it.

That’s their problem, not yours.

Write for the readers who love your books and ignore the rest.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known five years ago?

Get off social media and write that next book!

It’s important to have a social media platform/presence, but, it can suck your time (excuse the pun) and take you from what’s really important – your writing.

If you’ve written a good book (great story, good plot, professionally edited and formatted) readers will be hanging out for the next one.

That won’t happen if you’re forever on facebook or twitter or tsu or tumblr….

What’s your favourite comfort food? Least favourite food?

My favourite food is my mother’s amazing Czech potato pancakes. Three words – To. Die. For.

My least favourite food? Tripe. Wouldn’t eat it even if my life depended on it!

What are the most important traits you look for in a friend?

Sincerity. To me a genuine friend is the person who loves me for me, and no other reason

If you had a million dollars to give to charity, how would you allot the funds?

I’d give it to one charity that is close to my heart—cancer research. A member of my family suffered breast cancer, and I thank God she’s in remission. I would love to see that horrendous disease eradicated

What’s your favourite film of all times? Favourite book?

I have a few favourite films, but topping the list has to be the 1940s movie version of Laura

My favourite book is Charlotte Bronte’s, Jane Eyre

What simple pleasure makes you smile?

Eating potato pancakes; playing with my baby grandniece (she’s so cute!); sitting in a cosy corner reading a book on a cold, rainy afternoon.






Amazon Author Page


Sarah_BoucherTime to chat with Sarah!

Sarah E. Boucher spends her days instilling young children with the same
love of literature she has known since childhood. After hours, she pens
her own stories and nurses an unhealthy obsession for handbags, high
heels, and British television. Sarah is a graduate of Brigham Young
University. She lives and teaches in Ogden, Utah. Becoming Beauty is her
first novel.

What is your latest book?

My latest book is Becoming Beauty, a Young Adult twist on Beauty and the Beast. With serious entitlement issues and an inability to recognize true beauty, Bella is sometimes more of a Beast than a Beauty. Her plans to snag a wealthy gentleman and her own household are curtailed when she’s forced to become the Beast’s servant. Though her new position is humiliating, Bella begins to glimpse the man beneath the monster.

Is your recent book part of a series?

Becoming Beauty is part of a loosely connected fairytale series. It happened as a part of what I like to call a happy accident. I started writing the second book in the series, a twist on the Twelve Dancing Princesses while Becoming Beauty was in preproduction. As an inside joke (I love those), I added Jonas, the main character from the second book, into the finale of Becoming Beauty. Then, as I played around with the idea for a third book, I thought, “Why not put them all in the same area?” The first two are already based around the same forest, so why not?


How did you choose the genre you write in? Or did it choose you?

I have been unabashedly obsessed with fairytales since I was old enough to hold books. There’s something magical about the words “Once Upon a Time” and “Happily Ever After.” I played around with other genres but when I started my version of Beauty and the Beast, it felt like I’d come home. As soon as I plunged into fairyland, my mind came alive with plans for upcoming books. At the end of the day, I blame my mom who kept great books around and my dad who taught me to love reading.

I hear you have some very exciting news! Can you share it with us?

I submitted Book Two, my twist on the Twelve Dancing Princesses to my publisher! I chose the supremely awesome moment right before my carpal tunnel surgery to hit the fateful submit button. Now I’m playing the waiting game. Hopefully they see enough potential in it to accept it. Fingers crossed!

How often do your characters surprise you by doing or saying something totally unexpected?

My characters tend to be slightly obnoxious, snarky, and teasy. Also, I’m a fly-by-my-pants writer. A very loose outline and away I go! So, yes, I tend to be surprised by my characters. I learn about myself, life, and love as they interact with one another. It’s a process I really enjoy. I hope the audience sees something of themselves and their life in my stories as well.

Some authors, like me, always write scenes in order. But I know some people write scenes out of order. How about you?

There’s always a specific scene that I visualize clearly before I start writing anything. I use that as a springboard for the story, whether I write it at the beginning or just hint at it. Other than that, I write everything in order. When the juices really start flowing and I don’t feel a scene, sometimes I’ll sketch it out and jump to the next one. Also, I leave myself notes when things don’t quite work and fix them when I’ve let my mind relax a bit.

Is it important for you to know the ending of a book before you write it? The title?

So far I haven’t known how one of my books would end at the beginning. Little twists, turns, and interesting flips occur to me along the way and change the ending. I really enjoy the surprising aspect of writing. Likewise, none of my books had their titles at the beginning. Titles usually come to me mid-project or after I’ve finished writing. And no, it doesn’t bother me in the least!

Some writers edit excessively as they write; others wait until a novel is finished to do the bulk of the editing. How about you?

Generally, I’m an edit-as-I-go gal. I try not to get bogged down in the editing mire before the story wraps up, but I find that making small tweaks along the way helps me to keep the momentum going. However, heavy-duty editing is saved for the end of the project when I have the whole project before me.

After working for a very long time on a novel, many authors get to a point where they lose their objectivity and feel unable to judge their own work. Has this ever happened to you? If so, what have you done about it?

I think many (if not all) of us reach the “Writer Suck Fest” when everything you write begins to sound like crap. When I arrive at that point, I know that it’s time to switch gears and either a) shelf the project and work on something else (another writing, creative, or work project) or b) pass the book on to someone else, whether it be beta readers, a trusted author friend, or an editor. We lose perspective for several reasons and withdrawing from the project helps me see it with clear eyes.

Having our work out there to be judged by strangers is often daunting for writers. Do you have any tips on handling a negative review?

I think I’m a pretty tough critic. I’d never finish a one-star book, much less review one. (And yes, the one-star review has happened to me.) I’ll never understand the rationale behind leaving a completely negative review, but I keep in mind that my book isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and not everyone will connect with my characters. I also remind myself that whenever you introduce people to something new, they may love it, they may hate it, or it may leave them cold because everyone is entitled to their opinion and they’re allowed to express it as loudly as they’d like. Lastly, I remember that just because someone doesn’t love my book, it doesn’t reflect badly on me. (And at least in my experience, when you pour all your best into what you do there are few people who truly hate it.)

We all know the old saying; you can’t judge a book by its cover. This is true. However, how much importance do you place on your book cover design?

I think a lot of professionalism can be conveyed in a cover. But there have been books with beautiful covers that have completely let me down. Generally, I’m picky. If it doesn’t have a compelling cover, I probably won’t give it a second glance. That said, I’m very pleased with the cover of Becoming Beauty and hope that subsequent books have equally lovely covers.

Trains, planes, automobiles, or boats?

Yes, please! Trains are lovely and car rides are great if we’re going somewhere cool and there’s something interesting to look at on the way. But planes are my favorite. You hop in and in a matter of hours, you’re in a totally new place! I don’t know by I’m still so surprised by that. (By the way, I’m still waiting for today’s technology to catch up with Star Trek and beam me up without charging extra for my luggage. Also, the TARDIS would be acceptable.)

If you could have one skill that you don’t currently have, what would it be?

I have always had the dream of standing on a spot-lit stage in a long sequined gown and wowing the crowd with my stunning vocals. But since I’ve never taken vocal lessons, that’s not happening. Sadness. (Also, belting out mad tunes in Spanx doesn’t sound like fun either. I guess I’ll stick to writing. *sigh*

What makes you angry?

I get extra cranky when people are just plain dumb. I grew up with five brothers and I work with kindergarteners, so I have a fairly high tolerance for nonsense. But sometimes people take it to the next level. (Or possibly I just need a snack. #hangry

Do you have any guilty pleasures?

I adore chocolate (in practically any of its forms) and romantic comedies (in literature and movies). Both together? Yes, please!

What simple pleasure makes you smile?

I really do love laughing and I appreciate anyone that can crack me up. Most recently that was my four-year-old blonde angel of a niece who repeatedly threatened my life with a play light sabre. Kids and laughter are two things that make me supremely happy.

Amazon (Becoming Beauty)








Helen J. Rolfe writes contemporary women’s fiction. She enjoys weaving stories about family, relationships, friendships, love, and characters who face challenges and fight to overcome them.

Time to chat with Helen!

What is your latest book?

Handle Me with Care is my latest book. It’s a book about second chances and here’s the blurb…

Does true love come along more than once in a lifetime?

Maddie Kershaw doesn’t think so. She lost the love of her life in the 9/11 attacks, and since then has hopped from one casual fling to the next. But when she delivers an erotic cake to a one-hundredth birthday party by mistake, she meets Evan and starts to believe in second chances … until she realises there’s a risk of getting hurt all over again.

Evan Quinn is serially single, yet when he meets Maddie he feels an instant connection, so much so that he confesses on their first date that he may have testicular cancer. Was it a mistake to tell her? He wants Maddie more than he has ever wanted any other woman. But he doesn’t want her pity.

With the odds stacked against them both, finding love won’t be easy. But beneath the Australian sun, a Happy Ever After could be worth fighting for.

Handle Me with Care

How did you choose the genre you write in? Or did it choose you?

I think the genre chose me because I love to read the same sorts of stories. Romantic fiction has always been my go-to genre, whether it’s in the form of a book or a film.

For me, there’s always a romantic thread in the stories I write and I think that will always be the case, but the story isn’t just about that romance, it’s about real men and women who are faced with everyday challenges. I like to explore deep themes sometimes, which means more research, but I enjoy creating stories that my readers will relate to.

What else have you written?

My debut novel was The Friendship Tree. I set this novel in Australia too, where I lived for fourteen years. The Friendship Tree is about facing up to problems rather than running away.

Tamara Harding leaves her manipulative ex behind in London and heads to Australia to get away from him and spend time with family. She is soon drawn in to the small community of Brewer Creek where she becomes the coordinator for an old fashioned Friendship Tree – a chart telling people who they can call on in times of trouble. Things get complicated for Tamara when she meets Jake, a man with secrets of his own.

Again, The Friendship Tree is romantic fiction with a little bit of suspense thrown in when the past catches up with one of Brewer Creek’s residents.


The Write Romantics are a group of writers who met via the Romantic Novelists’ Association and we blog together about writing, reading, our books and everyday issues. Last year, with the help of other published writers, we put together Winter Tales, an anthology of winter and Christmas stories that raised funds for the Teenage Cancer Trust and the Cystic Fibrosis Trust. My story, Christmas in July, was based in Sydney’s Blue Mountains and again there’s a featured romance. The story is currently featured for free on my website.

How often do your characters surprise you by doing or saying something totally unexpected?

All the time! I plot my books beforehand but I know it’s important to stay flexible because once I start writing my characters evolve in ways I didn’t predict

In The Friendship Tree for example, I didn’t originally plan for Mr Wilson or Danielle to have any significant involvement with Tamara, but the friendships formed as I wrote. It was fun that way and I guess teaches us that friendship sometimes surprises us and age is no barrier. Mr Wilson is elderly but he and Tamara have a bond and understand each other. He’s the first to see that she’s in Australia because she’s hiding something about her ex, and she finds herself confiding in him. Tamara also bonds with Danielle, who is, I think, someone Tamara can relate to. Danielle sees Tamara as brave and independent, and I think she helps Tamara realise that what she’s actually good at is hiding the way she really feels.

In Handle Me with Care I had no idea until I started writing, what journey Evan would follow with testicular cancer. I didn’t want the book to be about the nitty gritty of cancer and medications, but more about the emotions that come to the fore when you’re faced with the disease. I wanted to be able to highlight the importance of early detection and the importance of leaning on people when you need to, and with these goals in mind, my character evolved as I wrote. Sometimes it’s hard to know how characters will work together until you actually get them on the page, side by side. Then they often surprise you!

What part of writing a novel do you enjoy the most? The least?

It sounds strange but I enjoyed all of it. The research was fun because it gave me the confidence to pen characters who were realistic and to whom readers could relate to. I enjoy the first draft because it’s so free…the story can go anywhere you like!

The editing is fun too, because it means the first draft is complete. This is the chance to turn it into a better story and as that happens it’s really satisfying.

Some writers edit excessively as they write; others wait until a novel is finished to do the bulk of the editing. How about you?

I’d definitely get my first draft down first. My first draft is full of question marks and italics with notes to go and check on this and that, instructions to refer to research. That way I’m not thrown out of the story. Also, I think if you obsess too much about getting each bit perfect, not only do you lose momentum, but you lose some of the passion for the story you’re writing.

I guess different methods work for different people though!

After working for a very long time on a novel, many authors get to a point where they lose their objectivity and feel unable to judge their own work. Has this ever happened to you? If so, what have you done about it?

I think this always happens. I think it’s important to put a novel aside and have time away from it. This is usually when I pass it to at least 2 beta readers and they flag up any major issues or criticisms. Then the novel goes to an editor and once it’s returned I’ve had enough time away to look at it afresh and make changes that’ll help it be a better story.

Authors, especially Indies, are constantly trying to understand why some authors sell very while their talented fellow authors have a hard time of it. It’s an ongoing conundrum. What do you make of it all?

I think it’s a tough job to do, being an author. And it’s much tougher than most outsiders give you credit for! To a lot of people, an author’s life is all about long lunches and sitting at a table signing books. They don’t realise that 9-12 months, often much more, of hard work has gone into that book and then equally as much work must ensue to promote it.

I also think the marketplace is crowded now and it’s hard to get books noticed. There’s a lot of advice out there although I think if you obsessed about it too much you’d never write anything else.

Whenever I start to feel overwhelmed with it all, the cure for me is to get away from obsessing about rankings and sales and write something else. This is when I’m at my happiest. 🙂

How much research was involved in writing your book? How did you go about it?

In writing Handle Me with Care, there was a bit of research particularly around the topic of testicular cancer. I wrote articles for health and fitness magazines a few years ago and I approach my research for novels in the same way as I did then for non-fiction. Firstly I trawl the internet and read up, from reliable websites, to get a feeling for the subject matter. This also helps me devise a list of questions that I need answered.

Next I find an expert or two, depending on how many questions I have and what level of detail I need. For Handle Me with Care I interviewed the Cancer Council in Australia and they sent me booklets that usually go out to patients. These were particularly helpful when trying to deal with the emotions of cancer and develop my character, Evan.

I also interviewed a doctor who specialised in testicular cancer and I was able to expand what I’d already found out. As I was writing, I could also email him to check I was along the right lines with my character.

Interviewing specialists / experts also gives you confidence when you’re writing. For example, an editor had queried the chemotherapy aspect in my novel as they didn’t think it sounded as in depth as it should be. I was able to go through my interview transcript and check that I was correct with how my character had experienced chemotherapy, and to double check, I reconfirmed with the doctor too.

Do you allow others to read your work in progress, or do you keep it a secret until you’ve finished your first draft? Can you elaborate?

I tend to keep it a secret – the title, the subject, everything, until I’m well on the way to having it ready. I’m not sure why but I think it helps me work it out in my own mind first so that my writing isn’t clouded my anyone else’s opinions on how I should or shouldn’t write the story.

Are you a fast typist? Does your typing speed (or lack of it) affect your writing?

Yes, I type at about 75 wpm! It was probably one of the best things I ever did, learning to type. My Dad brought home a library book teaching touch typing when I was about 14 and I learned on one of those old-fashioned typewriters. I’ll never forget it … the ‘a’ key stuck all the time and you needed to give it quite a whack with your little finger to make it move.

Being able to type was a godsend at University, typing a 10,000 word dissertation, and then in temporary jobs during school holidays where I could be an office assistant.

And now, of course, as an author it’s great to be able to type quickly, particularly when the ideas are flowing!

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, how do you get around it?

A long walk or an exercise class really helps. Anything that’s time away from my desk really. The other day, my plotting for novel number 4 was painful. All day, I tried and failed to really get going with it. Then, waiting in the car for my child to do their gymnastics class, the ideas just kept flowing!

Where do you live now? If you had to move to another city/state/country, where might that be?

I have just returned to the UK after living in Australia for fourteen years.

If I had to live in another country then Australia would have to be first choice. I fell in love with Melbourne, where I spent 9 years, and Sydney was pretty spectacular too. It’s an amazing country with lots of space, brilliant weather and so many opportunities. The only thing missing from Australia was family. 🙂

What’s your favorite comfort food? Least favorite food?

It’s a tough choice…crisps or chocolate! My least favourite food is avocado!

What are the most important traits you look for in a friend?

Trustworthy, loyal, and easy to laugh with.

If you had a million dollars to give to charity, how would you allot the funds?

That’s a really tough question. I think I’d divide it between ten charities but it would be so hard to choose.

What might we be surprised to know about you?

In 2000 I resigned from my job in the UK, bought a one-way ticket to Australia, and not knowing a single person there and having never been to the country myself, I moved to Melbourne.

It was the best experience ever!

What was the most valuable class you ever took in school? Why?

English for sure. I still remember my teacher saying she’d wanted to be a journalist and that I should never give up on my dream. Her words kept me going when I doubted I’d ever become a published author.HelenR6








From Vines to Wine—a research journey to Tuscany, Italy, Switzerland, and California: Guest blog by Christa Polkinhorn

I love a glass of good wine with my meals and I love Tuscany, which is one of the reasons I situated my novel, The Italian Sister, in one of my favorite areas of Italy. Since I knew almost nothing about grape growing and winemaking, I had to do quite a bit of research. I read books, navigated the internet, but the best parts of the research were my trips to Tuscany, to Switzerland, and also to one of the wine regions in California, Paso Robles. I walked through vineyards, took photos, and most of all, I talked to many people involved in growing grapes and making wine. It was an eye-opening adventure. I was amazed to find out just how much work, science, and art goes into the process of transforming vines into wine! All the people I met were extremely helpful and generous with their time and made this part of my research a truly memorable experience. My friends and family patiently followed me around vineyards, introduced me to vintners, and shared their knowledge with me. And, of course, I got to taste some excellent wine.

One of the first exposures to winemaking during a vacation in Tuscany together with friends and family was in Querceto, a Tuscan hill town about half an hour inland from the Mediterranean coast. Querceto is a small hidden pearl of a place. The only tourists here seem to be those who have heard about the excellent wine that’s being produced in the local wine press house.

Figure 1

We found a castle, a church, one restaurant with lodgings, the winery, and plenty of friendly, helpful people.

Here is where it all happens, the magical transformation of grapes into wine. In these huge fermentation steel tanks, the grapes simmer and sizzle until just the right time. After pressing and fermenting the grapes, the juice is transferred into barrels where it ages and is eventually put into bottles for us to enjoy.

Figure 2Figure 3Sounds magical? In reality, it is hard, backbreaking, and often dirty, sticky work. And the risk of a bad harvest when Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate has ruined many small vineyards and winemaking outfits. You really have to love this process to continue. I haven’t met a vintner or winemaker who wasn’t passionate about his work.

And here are some of my loyal friends who patiently took me around to vineyards and wineries. Cheers! By the way, that young boy on the right is NOT drinking wine, just smelling it!

Figure 4If you want to know more about this charming hill town and its vineyards, here is a link:

Marchesi Ginori Lisci

The Tuscan villa near Cecina we stayed in as well as the many Tuscan houses made its appearance in my novel as well.

Figure 5Figure 6On one of the days, my nephew and I took a trip to Volterra, the hill town that served as inspiration to my imaginary town of Vignaverde in the novel. The drive through the gorgeous Tuscan landscape made me aware again, why I chose this to be the locale for my work. No matter what time of the year or day, Tuscany always shows its mysterious and charming face.

Figure 7Figure8Figure 9And here we are in Volterra. The walls surrounding the town are a mixture of Etruscan (about 700 BC) and medieval architecture. Situated on top of a hill and protected by thick walls, the towns were in a perfect position to fight off roving aggressors during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Inside the city, the narrow cobblestone streets are lined with a multitude of shops, coffee shops, small restaurants, and art and crafts galleries. Volterra has fewer tourists than the more famous hill towns such as Siena. The majority of the people are locals and the town has a vibrant life of its own.

Figure 10Figure 11Figure 12

In Switzerland, I visited a vineyard as well. My friend Silvia De Lorenzi did an apprenticeship as a young girl on a vineyard and introduced the family of vintners to me. Now in their third generation, members of the Obrist family were generous enough to take time out of their busy day during the grape harvest to show me around the vineyards and the wine press house. Another good friend accompanied me on this outing to a beautiful part of Switzerland, called Bündner Herrschaft.

Figure 13Figure 14

As you can see, winemaking is heavy-duty physical work as well as an art and science.

Back in California, I didn’t have to look very far to find excellent wine areas. One of my favorite places is Paso Robles in the Central Coast area of Southern Calfornia. Here I discovered the vineyards and winery of the Caporone family, one old Italian immigrant family of vintners and winemakers. It is a small outfit, run solely by a father-son team. Marc, the son, spent hours showing me around and answering my many questions. And he introduced me to my favorite Italian wines: Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, and Aglianico among others.

Figure15Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 8.52.34 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-28 at 7.14.13 PM

If you want to know more about The Italian Sister, here is the blurb and links to the book and my website.


Standing at her father’s grave in California, Sofia Laverne mourns his untimely death. Henry had not only been a loving parent but Sofia’s best friend and mentor. Imagine her shock and grief when she finds out her father had lived a double-life, that she has a ten-year younger sister and inherited a vineyard in Tuscany. Torn between anger about his betrayal, grief for her loss, and hopeful anticipation, Sofia packs her bags and takes off for Italy to meet fourteen-year old Julietta. Arriving in the small hill town of Vignaverde, she is greeted by olive groves, neat rows of grape vines, and picturesque houses. Some of the inhabitants of this beautiful estate are, unfortunately, less welcoming and resent her intrusion into the family business. Soon, strange occurrences begin to frighten Sofia. When a suspicious accident lands her in the hospital, Sofia fears for her life.

Cheers! You can find me on the following websites. I love to keep in touch with my readers!

Amazon Author Page



Facebook Author Page