Category Archives: guest blog

Big News From Little Writer


I recently read Alison McQueen’s new book Under the Jeweled Sky. I loved it! I am honored to have Alison as a guest blogger today. I hope you will enjoy her post and I encourge you to read her beautifully written book!


I am thrilled to be guest blogging for Rott-I-Tude today. So what shall we talk about? I have a book out this month, Under The Jeweled Sky, but let’s not dwell on that. I don’t get to see anyone’s reviews until they’re out there, so I can only hope that the one Lauri is putting up today is kind.

Under The Jewelled Sky

Quite apart from the books and the torturous business of writing, I do happen to have some very big news indeed which will overshadow everything else this year. And now, for the first time, in a major exclusive for Rott-I-Tude, I shall share that news with you: I am going to turn 50, the big Hawaii Five-O, and my husband is having kittens.

As far as I am concerned, all bets are off this year. I have had one whole career (in advertising), written a bunch of novels (when I couldn’t stand the advertising any longer), and raised a family. And that, my friends, entitles me to do whatever I want to for this one year. I have survived five decades without killing anybody in my family, and trust me, the temptation has sometimes been very strong.

I mentioned all this to my husband a couple of days ago. I think he thought I was joking. The Christmas just gone I really pushed the boat out, transforming the house into a scene from Narnia, inviting my disabled brother and his family for 4 whole days, looking after everybody, conjuring huge meals out of the kitchen three times a day for eleven people.

Everybody thought they’d got it made, that I had finally thrown in the towel and decided to surrender quietly and become the perfect wife and mother they have all longed for. Oh, the bliss of it. As they say: revenge is a dish best served after the cranberries have been eaten.

I’m so excited about the year ahead that I can barely contain myself.  In no particular order, a big house-wrecking party, a lovely US book tour, friends and aeroplanes, (no friends with aeroplanes sadly), and a long-awaited holiday in the fall with the demand that my husband takes a whole month off work. He looked genuinely panicked and reminded me that not everybody is able to fit their entire job into a small shopper.

So although it’s almost the end of January and a little late for things like this, I would like to wish you all every happiness for 2014. It’s going to be a very special year.

Thank you Rott-I-Tude. This has been fun.

Readers can connect with Alison at:

Website & Blog:





Molly Ringwald, Ruby Wax and me…

I recently read Newton Neighbors by Suzy Duffy. I really enjoyed this book and am honored to have a Suzy’s guest post today about tending to your bucket list. With my own list of over 100 things I plan to accomplish, I’m fully behind this idea.  Enjoy! 🙂


How’s your bucket list looking these days? Do you still have a wish-list of things you want to do?

Or did you dump it along the way with work, family and funding pressure? As autumn rolls in and kids head back to school, I think it’s a great time to remind you how precious your list really is. Haul it out and let’s think about this.

Ask any seven year old worth their salt about their wish-list and they’ll happily regale you with their  plans to become a pop star, then an astronaut – maybe a spell in the white house before  curing cancer and achieving world peace.  While they’re a tad over-optimistic, I think as we get older we become a bit over-pessimistic.  Somewhere in the middle is a good flight path.

Here’s my suggestion.  Get a pen and paper and list ten things you’d like to do in your life.  It isn’t as easy as it sounds because we’ve become so darn good at building excuses – reasons why things can’t be done.  For now try to ignore all those excuses and write down the top ten things you really want.  When you’ve got that done, list them in order of priority – one being your top ambition and ten, the least important.  If we don’t have goals, how are we ever going to reach them?  Here’s the funny thing, sometimes when we’re aiming for one thing, we get a totally unexpected bonus that wasn’t even on our radar.

Top of my list for the last five years has been to get to No. 1 in the New York Times bestseller list. This is practically unheard of for a new writer.  I don’t know any mothers-of-five who have done it (except Debbie Macomber, and she has a thirty year head start on me) but that’s not the point.  The point is the mountain is there and I want to climb it, page by page and book by book.  Wellesley Wives got into the top one hundred in the Amazon Bestsellers list so I’m hopeful Newton Neighbors will climb even higher and so far so good, because reviews are excellent.  Nowhere on my wish-list did I have plans to visit Australia.  That didn’t even enter my mind but thanks to the success of Wellesley Wives in the USA, my publisher, The Writers Coffee Shop flew me to Australia – to speak at The Sydney Writers Festival on how to write romantic comedy.  That was four months ago and I’m still flying high on the endorphins.  Sydney was everything I imagined it to be and more.  I was familiar with the landmarks of the city but to see them up close was just amazing.  Sydney was an unbelievable fringe benefit of aiming for No. 1 in the bestsellers list.  The same could happen to you.  Aiming for goals puts you in the way of other fantastic adventures and experiences that might never have come your way if you ignore that bucket list.


I’ve been a huge fan of Ruby Wax for years.  She’s American, living in the UK and did a hilarious TV series a few years back – interviewing some of the most colorful characters on the planet; Imelda Marcos, Pamela Anderson and the like.  There was nothing Ruby wouldn’t say. She was wildly inappropriate and even wildlier funny!  Imagine my thrill when I discovered she was staying at the same hotel as us in Sydney. She was Down-under to promote her new book too. I was rubbing shoulders with my idols.  Another major celeb who checked in was Molly Ringwald. Yep, she has a book out too.

It kinda makes me wonder how in the heck I’m ever going to get to the top of the bestsellers list with so many people writing books.  Then again look at the fun I’m having along the way.

This is a really good time of year to get your list back out and think about what you want.  I’m sure your days are already full with family and work but we’ve got to squeeze as much fun into life as we can.  Don’t ignore your bucket list – you owe it to yourself and who knows, it might be you I meet in Sydney next time.  Wishing you good luck with your list and get connected through the links below to let me know how you’re doing.

Lots of love,

Suzy xx


Molly D. Campbell – The Soul Selects Her Own Society

Molly D. CampbellToday’s post is by Molly Campbell. Molly and I connected a few years ago on twitter and I have so enjoyed knowing her. I know you will enjoy this guest post by Molly.

I am reading a book about Emily Dickinson.  I love her poems, but I am more fascinated with her life.  She became a recluse in her family mansion in early adulthood.  She loved to bake; evidently she walked about the house covered in flour.  She wrote beautiful and pithy poetry that speaks to all of us.

I have often thought that it would be very romantic to become a recluse myself.  Of course, in order to be a happy recluse, you must have a beautiful place to hide in.  I think I have finally achieved that.  My house is now, after we have lived here for twenty years, nicely decorated, and every room is beautiful. It also seems to me that there is an irony involved.  Recluses need nice surroundings, but the recluses I am familiar with were INDIFFERENT to those surroundings most of the time.

This is because a recluse must have a life’s work.  Otherwise, staying home twenty four seven would get very boring.  So I would need a beautiful room to work in.  I would require a desk placed in front of a window, so that I could watch the world go by and ruminate about the neighbors, the surroundings, and the outside world.  There would have to be inspiring art on the walls. Granted, as a successful recluse I would become inured to all the beauty of my study, but rules are rules!

This brings me to the life’s work.  Problematic, because I can’t think of a subject large enough to consume me every day.  Recluses are devoted single-mindedly to a life passion.  My only real passion is pets.  Could I spend every day in my workroom thinking about cats, writing about dogs, or researching animal diseases? Could I become a crusader for animal rights right there in my little room?  Not likely.  In the midst of a treatise on dog fighting, I would need a snack.  While researching Von Willenbrand’s Syndrome, I would look out the window and realize the bird feeder was empty.  Are recluses allowed out in the yard with sunflower seed?

Successful recluses have doting families who do their shopping, invite guests over in order to freshen the outlook of the shut-in, and accomplish all the tasks that the recluse simply can’t do, by virtue of the fact of being a recluse.  I don’t have that kind of family.  My husband is always gone.  He is the opposite of reclusive.  My kids aren’t around, either.  I don’t have any loyal retainers to do my bidding.  I think servants are a prerequisite for recluses.  HERMITS, on the other hand, live completely alone, don’t want any family ties, and shun the concept of servitude for anyone.  By that definition, being a hermit is totally out, as far as I am concerned.

Back to the reclusive life.  I think a successful recluse must also have a highly developed sense of the  small. Spending all day at home, every day, would require an appreciation of life’s little details.  For instance, I am sure that Emily Dickinson reveled in the dust motes in the air around her, watching as they swirled and caught the sun.  She probably counted the pleats in her peplum.  I feel confident that looking out the window at the garden was tantamount to meditation for her.  I am not good at this.  I have no idea how many buttons are on my favorite cardigan.  I have noticed that there is dust on tops of all the picture frames, but that is about it.

Recluses often carry on long conversations with friends by exchanging letters.  Emily Dickinson maintained lifelong relationships with a number of people, some of whom published her letters to them.  Thus, she was able to make her friendssomewhat famous, just because they knew her.  Today’s recluse would have access to Facebook and Twitter.  I can just imagine what dandy tweets Emily could churn out.

I did actually try out the reclusive lifestyle last winter, when I had a skin cancer on my face that required surgery of Frankensteinian proportions.  I was on a recliner in my TV room for two weeks.  It was hell.  Without Netflix, a cell phone, and Facebook as lifelines, I would have descended into sheer madness.  It is because of this experience that I have such admiration for Emily and her ilk.

If Emily were around today, would she restyle her life?  Would she at least talk with her friends using Skype?  Would she still bake gingerbread from scratch, or would she use a mix?  Would she have a cell phone and carry on conversations with fellow intellectuals from the safety of her room?  Is it possible to be a productive recluse in today’s world without the use of technology?  I couldn’t do it.  My hat is off to Emily.

“The Soul selects her own Society—

Then–shuts the Door—

To her divine Majority

Present no more


Unmoved—she notes the Chariots—pausing

At her low Gate—

Unmoved–an Emperor be kneeling


Upon her Mat

I’ve known her—from an ample Nation—

Choose one—

Then—close the Valves of her attention—

Like Stone—“

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Fiction / Short Stories

Rating – PG13

More details about the author & the book

Connect with Molly Campbell on Facebook & Twitter


A Visit With the Artist

Today I want to introduce you to my dear friend, author Mariam Kobras. Born in Frankfurt, Germany, Mariam lived in Brazil and Saudi Arabia with her parents as a child before they decided to settle in Germany. She attended school there and studied American Literature and Psychology at Justus-Liebig-University in Giessen, where she met her husband. She lives in Hamburg, Germany, with her husband, two sons and  two cats. I know you will enjoy her post below!


Sycamore trees.

I keep telling Ginny, those trees lining the streets of Salt Lake City are sycamores, not maples, but she’s still skeptical. We’re driving through Sugar House, that much I know. That’s the name of this part of town. It’s elevated, all the streets on our right lead downhill, toward the valley with the city proper and the Great Salt Lake beyond.

Sugar House, and if you don’t know the history of the place it might sound a bit kinky, right? But no, I’m told, it’s because there was a maple plantation here, and the sugar house is where they make the syrup. Right, but Ginny, those trees are still sycamores.

We’re going to visit Eric. His art is on the covers of my books, first The Distant Shore, and now on my new release, Under the Same Sun. I’m very excited about this. I’ll be seeing Eric’s studio, all of his lovely paintings, and meeting the man himself.

Not even a year ago, I didn’t know he existed, didn’t know I’d fall in love with his art so much. Then, one Sunday morning, a friend of a friend posted one of his paintings on Facebook. It was stunning. It was beautiful, and it was the perfect depiction of a scene in my first novel, The Distant Shore. I did what every Facebook user does: I shared it to my own wall. My publisher saw it, and commented, “Where did you find this?”

“Right here,” I more or less screamed back, “And I want it on my book, I want it on the cover!”

And now we’re going to visit him.

I’m nervous. I’m scared, and I’m sweaty. I know I have to make a good impression, because I want more of Eric’s art on my future books, and I’m sure if he thinks I’m just another oldish, frumpy, housewife with the will to write, he’ll sneer at me and throw me out instead of signing the new contract the publisher gave me for him.

The door opens before we’re even properly out of the car, and there he is, his wife right behind him, and they’re smiling, waving, just as excited as I am!

“I love your book.,” Eric says. “You’re a wonderful writer!”

How many ways can you spell “abashed”?

I stand there in the Salt Lake City heat of July, purse pressed to my chest just like some frumpy old lady, and here is this tall, handsome man giving me a blinding grin, speaking to me in his wonderful, melodic voice, and I’m smitten.

I mean, I was smitten from afar before, by proxy, if you wish, through his art. But this is still different, this is Meeting the Artist.

His wife Hilary, the lovely girl on my book covers, is even prettier in real life. She really is, and she does look a lot like I pictured Naomi in my stories: slender, dainty, with very white skin and black hair, and a beautiful face.

I’ve brought a copy of  The Distant Shore, carried it with me all the way across the Atlantic and nearly across the US, to have Eric sign it for me. It already has a few really nice words from the publisher in it, and now I want his handwriting there, too.

The two people who, other than me, contributed the most to this book, one by giving me his art, the other one by signing me as their author.

“Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your wonderful book!” Eric writes, and I blush, reading those words from him, whom I admire so much. Does he really not understand that only with his art, is it, for me, complete?

We go into the studio, and there it is, the painting called Sunday Morning, the one that’s on the cover of Under the Same Sun.

I remember being at the Louvre the first time, just before my husband and I got married, and we walked all those miles through the endless hallways of that mammoth building to get to where they were hiding the Mona Lisa, and reaching it felt pretty much the way I felt seeing Sunday Morning: I could’t believe I was seeing the original, the real, paint-on-canvas piece of art.

By the way, I still have my doubts about the Mona Lisa. I believe that’s not the original, hanging in the Louvre, unprotected. I’m sure it’s a very, very, well done  copy, and the original is somewhere safe in the vaults.

But Sunday Morning, is right there before me, in the artist’s studio. I touch it, and Eric smiles.

Ginny is sitting on a couch in the corner and playing with the Thompson’s dog, chatting with Hilary, while the sun shines through the windows on Eric’s paintings, and for a moment, for as long as it takes to take three breaths, the world feels complete, stopped, perfect. I’m holding my first book in my hand, I’m standing before the painting that will be on my second, and Eric has signed, gladly, excitedly, the contract for the third painting on my third book. How much better can it get?

Later that night, on the plane, on my way back home, I get out the much-traveled copy of The Distant Shore and look at the handwritten dedications in it.

Serendipity, for sure. A blessing.

Thank you, world.

This was the thirteenth stop in Mariam’s Blog Hop celebrating the launch of her latest book, Under the Same Sun (Book II in the Stone Trilogy) which hit the bestseller list on its first day on sale!

We hope you enjoyed her guest post, and invite you to write a comment below about this blog post for a chance to WIN one of three copies of Under the Same Sun (plus some pretty gosh, darn, yummy chocolate)!

You can get additional chances by following Mariam at every stop on her hop and leaving comments after each post. And hey, while you’re here, why not follow this blog—you won’t regret it.

Join Mariam tomorrow, 10/31, when she stops by Wendy Mason’s blog.

And this is the link:

Check our blog for the full calendar and more details about Mariam and her books!