Once Upon a Night

With a new title and a new cover…two stories and two songs that inspired them.

My two-story novella is available on Amazon and Smashwords for preorder. The launch date is January 25, 2018.

Thank you, Susan Toy, Kristin M. and Merry from Anessa Books. You’ll know why.

The first story, Once Upon a Nightis a retelling of Cinderella, inspired by the embedded song (click on the title!)

At first glance, Angela and Nick don’t seem to have much in common: she’s a young widow trying to make ends meet, and he’s a self-made billionaire in his mid-thirties. He’s confident, well-educated and eloquent; she’s shy, has struggled through school and communicates more easily with horses than with people.
But they share a deep, aching loneliness and the need for a brief escape – Angela from the ghosts of her past, and Nick from his uncertain future.
When the clock strikes midnight, will it bring the end or a new beginning?

 Blind Date from an unorthodox beginning to happily ever after in one hour and a half. The embedded song is a kind of clue–Lovers at first sight in love forever.

Two years after her divorce, Hannah is ready to move on. But when her friend pushes her to go on a blind date with a gallery owner, Hannah is hesitant. She’s attracted to Edward, an architect who works in the same building, even though they’ve barely exchanged two words.
Edward also has a blind date. The woman he’s about to meet, according to his friend, is “brilliant and gorgeous”. Edward would be intrigued, if only he could stop thinking of the quiet, shy and sexy-as-hell Hannah, the book editor from the top floor.

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Merry merry, happy happy, ho-ho-ho! Happy New Year!

There are a few writing/reading-related things that made 2017 a good year.

I had the pleasure of reading three wonderful books written by friends: Betrayal, the fifth installment in the Gift Legacy series by Jo-Anne McLean, One Woman Island, the second book in the Bequia Perspective novels by Susan Toy. and A Spanish Dilemma, A Regency Novella, by Meredith Bond.

Photo by Rodion Kutsaev on Unsplash

I published Blind Date, my long-anticipated novella in two stories, then unpublished it. I wasn’t happy with the title nor the cover, and there was one typo too many in it. Now Meredith Bond from Anessa Books, my wonderful formatter, friend and fellow author currently living in Belgium,  is working on it once more.  It will be published in February under a different title —Once Upon a Night— and with a different, much better cover made by a talented designer from Greece, Annoula. Once Upon a Night is a true international corroboration. BTW, I read the second story last night, perhaps for the first time as a reader, and I LOVED IT. Very sexy *and very emotional. If someone else wrote it, I’d like to read more of her stories for sure. Well done, J. F.

I had my website revamped in August, and since then I have managed to have a new post every week. Many thanks to my editor/assistant/colleague Kristin, and occasionally my son, who’ve also been kipping an eye on my grammar and spelling (English is my second… no, wait, third… no, fourth language).


I took two fiction writing courses through Steven Alcorn’s Writing Academy. I discovered that online courses worked well with my personality (I’m an introvert, as you suspect).

I did NaNoWriMo. I’m not happy with the outcome. I wrote the required number of words, but the concept of reducing the creative process to a competition doesn’t make much sense to me. Yes, some people can produce a good first draft in a month, working under pressure and counting the words they write every day. I can’t. It’s not how I write, and for me, writing is much more than a competition, even if I compete against myself.

My website had a dozen followers in 2017, which is great because I started with two.

In 2017 , I was able to keep up with my normal pace of reading — two books per week. I watched Season 7 of Game of Thrones. dreamed of being a Targaryen, riding a dragon and having a reason to say “Dracarys!” every once in a while. (Embedded music is from Season 6, though, but that’s my favourite season so far.) I listened to lots of other music, mostly at work, when I needed to tune out the noise while cataloguing Arabic and Farsi books…

I don’t believe in New Year resolutions, so for  2018 I won’t promise anything.

I only hope I’ll be less alone and have more time to write.

*Music pieces: for ‘sexy’ Maurice Ravel’s Bolero; for ’emotional’ Chopin’s Nocturne Op. 9 No. 2; for ‘Season 7 Light of the Seven (Ramin Djawadi) and Game of Thrones The Winds of Winter (Ramin Djawadi);  for ‘music’ The Best of Mozart.


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Good novels have nine structural points. Bad novels have them, too.

As I mentioned earlier, plotting’s not my thing. If writers are either architects or gardeners, as George R. R. Martin says, I, like him, plant a seed and watch it grow.

I wrote my first four novels relying on my intuitive storytelling abilities. They’re not perfect, but they’re solid. When I wrote them, I didn’t think about three-act structuring, nine (or six, of fifteen) points, turning points, big black moments. I felt them, and I used them spontaneously. They’re all there, in my stories.

And then I made a mistake and started reading books on how to write, and got lost. Except for Steve Alcorn’s classes, which are great and teach you all you need to know about structuring, everything else only confused me, not to mention the negative effect on my self-esteem.

I soon realized something important. All the great fiction novels, regardless of the genre, have all these elements, from Pride and Prejudice, to Susan Elizabeth Philips’ romances (my favourite).

The thing is, all the shallow, boring or downright stupid novels have them, too. I know this because I occasionally read them, sometimes because I have to, sometimes because, as I like to say, your writing persona learns something useful from every book you read, so I force myself to finish reading what I foolishly started.

What makes the difference between Susan Elizabeth Phillips and total trash is somewhere else, not in the nine structural points.

I decided to go back to my writing foundation—my inner sense of storytelling.

It’s a relief.

If anyone ever asked me for a piece of advice, I’d say – don’t let anyone tell you how to write your story.

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2017 – Some of my favourite Authors whose books I read this year!

Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing

I have read many, many books this year! Some were written by authors I have promoted previously on my other blog, Reading Recommendations, and these books I considered to be outstanding! And, in a few cases, I read more than one book by the same author. So, without further ado, here’s a list of those authors’ names and the titles of their books I read in 2017 …

(The links below will take you to that author’s original promotion on Reading Recommendations.)

Thanks to all Authors for continuing to write so well!

Gail Anderson-DargatzThe Spawning Grounds

Tim Baker24 Minutes (to be published in 2018)

Gail BowenThe Winner’s Circle

Kevin BrennanIn No Particular Order

Sharon ButalaWhere I Live Now

Paul ButlerThe Good Doctor, The Widow’s Fire

Sally CroninSam, A Shaggy Dog Story

Tricia Drammeh

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Post-NaNoWriMo blues

I feel I owe it to myself to record my first NaNoWriMo experience.

I’m glad I took the challenge. I like competing against myself. All the support I needed I found inside me and in a few friends who knew I was doing it. In my mind, writing is a solitary business; that’s why I write. Or perhaps writing chose me because I’m a solitary person. I’m dancing on my own.

Photo by Paul Wellner Bou on Unsplash

I finished five days ahead of schedule. Up until today, I didn’t check the NaNo website. Apparently, I had to validate my writing, but I  missed to do it.  In my mind, my job was done the moment I hit 50,000 words (more accurately, 50,052, to finish the sentence). I challenged myself, I completed the challenge. End of story.

So what else did I learn except that I could write under pressure? Continue reading

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I. Did. It. 


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Who was J. R. R. Tolkien’s writing coach?

My free seminar saga – the conclusion.

But before that — I’d like to tell you I’m doing NaNoWriMo, for the first time ever, and I’m four days AHEAD of schedule. Steve Alcorn, my instructor from several Gale courses I’ve taken, convinced me I could do it. I didn’t share his optimism–I have a full time job and two teenage kids–but it turns out he believed in me more that I believed in myself. Thank you, Steve!

Ah, yes. Forgot to tell you how much I love challenges. So here I am. As of yesterday, November 21, I have 42,000 words. As of the title, I thought “Living Next Door to Elise”, but my heroine started her journey as Lucy and didn’t let me change her name. But I have the most gorgeous cover–hot and sexy and all mine.

Back to the main topic: One of the presenters spoke about the biggest mistakes preventing just-authors from becoming best-selling authors.  Mistakes 1-3 and the remedies can be found in my previous post.

So, mistake #4.

The presenter promised to give beginner authors the best piece of advice, something they should do right away. I held my breath in anticipation. It turned out to be something inapplicable to me: to hire a small army of coaches and mentors for various aspects of your book. Well, why then not throw in some more money and find someone to write you a book? (This is me asking a rhetorical question.) Continue reading

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