16 Butterflies (and a Turtle)

As we head into the holiday season, I thought I’d share some favourite posts from the past. This was originally posted on 12 February, 2o18…

Recently I paid a visit to the Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory (Ontario, Canada) and I’m so glad I did. Besides being the perfect respite from the freezing weather, it was a magical experience being surrounded by butterflies (many more than 16). I highly recommend it. I thought I’d share a few of the photos I took…

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Basking in the sunshine

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You’d never guess what this butterfly looks like with its wings open….

Continue reading “16 Butterflies (and a Turtle)”

Would You Rather: Book Edition

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I thought I’d post something fun today, so I snagged this from A.M. Molvik’s Ramblings.

Would you…

1. Rather read only a series or standalone books?

A series. Standalone books can be unsatisfying, but I can happily read a good series for as long as the author is willing to keep putting out books. With a series you can also go back to the beginning and rediscover things you’d forgotten, or notice something new (technically you can also do that with a standalone, but a series gives you so much more to work with).

2. Rather read a book whose main character is male or female?

Female. I’m tired of the male perspective, which has really had a disproportionate amount of emphasis put on it for far too long. I’d also rather read female authors–they usually can write all characters with depth, not just the half they personally relate to.

3. Rather shop only at Barnes & Noble (or other actual bookstore) or Amazon?

I’d rather shop online. I’m an introvert and crowds make me uncomfortable. Also, shopping online doesn’t require pants. (Most “actual” bookstores have websites too–you can see a whole list of the ones that carry my books here–just scroll to the bottom.)

4. Rather all books become movies or TV shows?

I’ll have to go with TV because that format offers the chance to fully explore a story. The Harry Potter series would have been so much better if they’d made it into a TV show instead of movies, with one or two seasons per book.

5. Rather read 5 pages per day or read 5 books per week?

This is a tough one. I like to savour books, but 5 pages a day doesn’t give you much. Still, 5 books a week sounds like it would become a chore rather than a pleasure, so I guess I’d rather get 5 pages a day and fully enjoy them.

6. Rather be a professional book reviewer or an author?

Author. Done and done. 🙂

7.  Rather read only the same 20 books over and over or get to read a new book every 6 months?

If I can still re-read books I’ve already read, then I’ll take a new book every 6 months. If I can read only one new book every 6 months, I think I’d prefer the same 20 on repeat (if I get to pick them).

8. Rather be a librarian or own a book store?

I’ve thought about doing both, but I still sometimes dream about owning a bookstore, so I’ll go with that.

9. Rather read only your favorite genre or your favorite author?

Genre. Authors can stop writing, but there will always be something new to read within a genre.

10. Rather read only physical books or eBooks?

Physical books. They aren’t always as convenient to cart around, but I find them more enjoyable to read (and screens are bad for your eyes).

What do you think–do you prefer series or standalone books? Physical or ebooks? Share your answers in the comments below (and let me know if you do the whole thing and post it).

PS: Have you stopped by my book tour yet? Find out about my books, read excerpts and guest posts, ask a question, and enter the giveaway for a chance to win a sweet custom Love Lies Bleeding travel mug filled with goodies (including a little something handmade by me)!

Read Fiction, Be Happier

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Sign outside Waterstones, Bloomsbury, London

I have a theory that people who don’t read aren’t happy people. Or at least, they’re not as happy as they could be. It’s a highly unscientific theory, and maybe a little unfair, but think of some famous readers you know, then think of someone who famously doesn’t read, and decide for yourself whether I might have a point.

Actually, it turns out that I’m not entirely wrong. Science is discovering that to be a happier, healthier, and overall better person you do need to read…fiction.

Apparently (and unsurprisingly) reading fiction teaches empathy, provides a sense of belonging, and relieves stress. It helps with cognitive and social skills–it might even help you live longer. And it offers a healthy escape from a not-so-healthy reality.

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Anyone who reads both non-fiction and fiction will recognize the difference in the two experiences. Much as I enjoy non-fiction, it’s rare to get lost in facts. Non-fiction is interesting, it can make you excited about learning–but it doesn’t capture you. Fiction makes you part of the story, it lets you live another life. A good work of fiction will lead you to happily blow off everything else you had planned for the day, just so you can keep reading. For me, fiction shows the possibilities of what could and can and does exist. Fiction is proof of the power of imagination. And it’s good for you too.

Read some fiction right now–download my FREE short story Blood Magic.

Check out this new review of Blood Magic on Vamped.org.

Find out more about why reading fiction is good for you.

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Interview with Rita Lee Chapman

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I’m pleased to post my first author interview, with mystery author Rita Lee Chapman (http://ritaleechapman.com). Welcome, Rita!

Thank you, Aspasia, for inviting me to your blog. It is lovely to have this opportunity
to talk to your readers.

Thanks for being here. Why don’t you start by telling us a bit about yourself?

I have lived most of my life in Australia, but I was born in London and migrated to
Australia in my early twenties. Before I retired I had started writing but never finished a novel. Of course in those days it was written on a typewriter so it required much more planning in terms of the storyline and also the formatting. It is so easy now with computers to turn paragraphs around or even to move whole chapters. I find the editing and formatting much harder and more time-consuming than the writing.

Editing is a chore for me, as well (I think many authors would agree). When did you write your first book?

It wasn’t until I retired and moved from Sydney to Queensland that I finished my first book, Missing in Egypt. This became Book 1 in the Anna Davies Mystery Series, followed by Missing at Sea and Missing in London. In between I wrote Dangerous Associations, a crime mystery, and Winston – A Horse’s Tale, one for horse lovers from teenagers upwards.

You’ve accomplished a lot since you retired. What do you do when you’re not writing?

I play tennis, walk on our lovely beaches or around the river or lakes, and swim. My husband and I are lucky to have a great circle of friends through our tennis club and spend many hours socialising, taking it in turns to cook for each other. We also enjoy travelling around Europe and this year drove around the South of France exploring the Loire Valley, the Dordogne, La Rochelle, Nice, Marseille and most places in between! Horses are still my passion, although I no longer ride.

Wow–can you take me on your next vacation? Where can readers find your books?

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Missing in Egypt
Book 1 in the Anna Davies Mystery Series

Amazon
Large Print
Smashwords

Missing At Sea Cover

Missing at Sea
Book #2 in the Anna Davies Mystery Series

Amazon
Large Print
Smashwords

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Missing in London
Book #3 in the Anna Davies Mystery Series

Smashwords
Amazon
Large Print

 

Dangerous Associations:

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Smashwords
Large Print

 

Cheers, Rita, for being part of my blog and giving my readers a chance to get to know you! Find out more about Rita and her books here.

Weird Habits of Writers

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I recently read an article about 11 weird habits that all writers can relate to, and I’ve got to say they weren’t wrong. Dramatically staring into space while thinking about what my characters will do next? Check. Ending up on security watch lists thanks to my online research? Check. Losing track of time, dates, and reality itself thanks to working from home immersed in a fantasy world of my own creation? Check check.

Reading the list got me thinking about my own odd habits, which I’ve decided to share. After all, as the article pointed out, writers spend a lot of time alone–why not take a moment to bond over our mutual strangeness?

My Weird Habits as a Writer:

Seeking Out Mindless Activities so I Can Think: When my hands are busy but my mind is free to wander, that’s when I come up with some of my best ideas, solve problems with my stories, or mentally write entire passages (my phone is handy–and more likely to be nearby than pen and paper–for getting it all down before I inevitably forget). Mindless activities I recommend: weeding the garden, easy crafts, cleaning the house, ironing…

Telling Myself Stories to Help Me Fall Asleep: I’ve had trouble sleeping my entire life–the one thing that’s almost guaranteed to get me to sleep is telling myself a story in bed. It’s been the same story for a while now, with minor variations. Strangely enough this repetitive storytime actually does help with my writing. Every so often I’ll get an idea for a new character, or notice themes I should explore.

Watching (a lot of) TV: Sometimes it’s background noise that works a lot like any other mindless activity (see above). Sometimes it’s inspiring, giving me ideas to consider. Sometimes it’s instructive, helping me with pacing, or seeing aspects to storytelling that do or don’t work. Sometimes it’s just entertaining, which is also important.

I’ll leave it there, although there are more (so many more). What weird habits do you have as a writer (or in general)? Share your weirdness…

(Note: This is a re-post from 19 February 2018. If you’re looking for something new to read, how about my free short story “Blood Magic”https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/816146 or my novel Love Lies Bleeding, available in paperback and e-book at most online booksellers.)