Veronica's #WritersDiary: Celebrating #Writers; My Top 3 Books for 2021!
“I have done, this year, what I said I would: overcome my fear of facing a blank page day after day, acknowledging myself, in my deepest emotions, a writer, come what may.”
― Sylvia Plath
Happy Almost New Year! Such a privilege it has been to read so many awesome books in 2021. Mysteries, thrillers, fantasy, romance, poetry and some exquisitely spooky, ghostly encounters rounded out my reading list this past year. As we count down the final moments of 2021, I wanted to share with you the authors and their fine stories that became my Top 3 Book picks of the year:
From Canada, Author Wendy Bayne lit up my 2021 TBR with her Crimes Against the Crown historical fiction/mystery series. The first book, Untitled, sets the stage for an unlikely group of characters that keep 19th century England in check from the ne'er do wells with dubious and destructive intentions.
U.S. Author Cathy Maza's Midnight in Savannah whisks us to the southern city steeped with a legacy of paranormal charm. We walk the cobbled street with the characters as they experience the haunting creatures and mysteries of local lore--is it real, shadows of what has been, or, what's to come?
U.K. Author John Dolan treats us to an epic adventure of the spirit and mind with the Adventures of Mythopoeia. In the pages of his magnum opus, we meet the unlikely heroes of a world that suddenly veers terribly off course, exposing us to bizarre situations and comedies of the satiric, humorous kind.
I want to thank each of these authors for providing this reader a fabulous, literary getaway from the humdrum and dramas of 2021. Your books were outstanding reads, and I thank you very much! Now let's meet these inspired writers:
Author John Dolan, Adventures in Mythopoeia
It’s fair to say that the underlying concept(s) for Adventures in Mythopoeia had been swilling around in my head for a few years before I put virtual pen to virtual paper. And the basic idea was to take some classical myths and legends, along with some ‘recent’ heroic stories, mix them in a pot; then put them into a modern setting and reduce them from something epic to something rather more banal. In doing so, my hope was to create something humorous which had relatable characters and an underlying darker, overarching storyline which would by degrees sneak up on the reader.
One of the problems with all this, of course, is that it doesn’t really fit into any genre. (If ‘Adventures’ were a dog, it would definitely be a mongrel: though with luck a cute one.) My hope was that the notion would appeal to those who like gallows humour, and who enjoy playing literary detective; but I was also mindful that my regular readers know me best for crime thriller/mysteries and that this oeuvre might leave them feeling confused about how they ended up falling down this literary rabbit-hole. Regardless – and with the true arrogance of an Indie writer who doesn’t have to worry about allaying the concerns of a third-party publisher – I decided to press on; compressing what was originally conceived as a trilogy of books into one whopping door-stop of almost a quarter-of-a-million words. The whole thing, from detailed planning to publication – took me eleven months: pretty much the whole of 2020. And, I have to say, it was a fun way of spending Year One of Our Blessed Covid.
The downside was that writing it melted about half of my brain, and therefore it’s taken another twelve months before I can seriously contemplate writing again. Regardless, the deed is done. So, if you like satire, loveable rogues, epic adventures, corny jokes, Greek myths, adultery, murder, mysticism, talking cats, and British weather, there is a chance that Adventures in Mythopoeia might be for you. If you prefer a more ‘traditional’ story trajectory, however, I wouldn’t touch this one with a ten-foot barge pole if I were you. Happy New Year. May the Virus Not Be With You.
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/John-Dolan/e/B008IIERF0
Author Cathleen Maza, Savannah at Midnight
Thank you, Veronica, for taking a special interest in the book of mine that is nearest and dearest to my heart. Why? Because, quite simply, the city of Savannah spoke to me.
I first visited Savannah in the summer of 2018. My high school Senior was touring art colleges that year and the Savannah College of Art and Design was on the Top 10 list. The school ended up knocking all other competitors out of the box, and the city managed to run away with my heart in the process.
Not only was Savannah, Georgia tourist friendly and visually stunning, but the city seemed to be bursting with a tangible historic, haunted vibe. It seemed that nearly every piece of property had at least one fabulous tale to tell. Story after story unfolded about the area’s history, people, and the spirits that graced so many of the streets and buildings. I felt an immediate connection to the idea of creating a collection of short stories centered around Savannah folklore, but I wanted a unique way to connect everything.
Fast forward to September of 2020, where I was having lunch in a famous Savannah restaurant with an author friend who lived in the area. We were trading thoughts on ghosts and haunted places when an idea struck me. Could old emotions be strong enough to not only linger in time, but be given an almost-human form to occupy in the present day? Bam! The last part of the puzzle fell into place and the stories for “Savannah at Midnight” began to flow from my pen.
Suddenly, Savannah was not only a beautiful, haunted city, but so much more. Represented as a lovely, lively Southern woman who knows all aspects of the city’s living and departed residents, Savannah is a force to be reckoned with. Think you can disrespect the dead and get away with it? Think again. Think a rouge spirit can just do whatever it pleases? Think again. And so, it goes throughout the twelve chapters. Twelve being particularly significant, as the witching hour is when Savannah conducts her business, both professional and personal. Sometimes she’s a benefactor to humanity, but woe to those humans foolish enough to cross her the wrong way. Ditto to the countless spirits who still roam her city streets. How, exactly, did this vivacious woman come into her role? Well, that’s something readers will have to discover between the pages of the book.
With so many more stories to tell, I recently committed to making Savannah at Midnight the first installment of a trilogy entitled Haunted Savannah. This development is exciting to me for two reasons. First, there will be more to learn from additional stories showcasing Savannah’s haunted encounters. And second, I’ll definitely need to head down South again to conduct more research!
Amazon author page: www.amazon.com/author/cathleenmaza
Author Wendy Bayne, Untitled
Untitled: Crimes Against the Crown was my first novel, and to tell you the truth, I did not set out to write a book. I had retired from a long and satisfying nursing career in 2014 and frankly found myself at loose ends and bored.
I had always loved History and was an avid reader of novels set in the past dealing with crime and hardships of the people had always intrigued me. Charles Dickens, Arthur Conan Doyle, Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte are my favourite authors. So, as I looked for more reading material combining all those elements, I found that they were either set in the Regency Period, the Napoleonic Wars or the later Victorian Period. But what about those intervening years? What would it be like for a person to find their identity once the country was at peace when all you had known was war for twenty years?
I am not a historical scholar by any means, but I looked at those years and thought I could perhaps bring it to life. Things were changing society was in the midst of the Industrial Revolution, social norms were being challenged. I felt I had found my niche that there was a story to be told. So, Clarissa Turner, an outcast in her own family, was born. I started to write. I am not a plotter or planner; I write as the saying goes by the seat of my pants.
Untitled is a story steeped in secrets, good and evil, slowly unravelled by Clarissa and her close friend and eventual love interest Miles Johnson, another outcast in his own family. He, too, has secrets which together he and Clarissa eventually untangle. The entire book is through the eyes of Clarissa or Lissa as she is known in the family. In my book, Lissa challenges and question the social norms of the times, so I interject some of my own modern-day thinking into her point of view.
This book is an adventure, a love story, and a crime drama with a lively cast of characters that enrich and complicate Lissa’s life.
Untitled is the first in a series of books about Lissa’s family and friends who suddenly find themselves, Agents to the Crown and all the harrowing and horrifying adventures that entails.
If I had any wisdom to impart to writers, it would be to write what you are passionate about and not just trendy.
For readers, my advice would be that there are so many exceptional writers out there who are self-published or published by small independent presses, so give us a try.
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Wendy-Bayne/e/B08STJSV56
I encourage you to please check out these authors and put their books on your TBR list for 2022--great reads await!
Wishing you all a very, Happy New Year! I do not know what's in store, but it will likely keep us on our toes, LOL. Best wishes for a safe, healthy, prosperous, enlightening, and fun 2022!
Crowns and Kisses,
P.S. Happy New Year! Gemma and Rikkhe approve 💖👑