Smorgasbord Open House – Artist, Poet and Colorist – Tracy Campbell.

smorgasbord open house two

Today my guest is Tracy Campbell who has turned her artistic talents to fantastic use by publishing a colouring book for all ages. Calm Coloring: Faith, Hope & Love. Tracy also brings colour to her writing as you will find out as she shares stories of her family history and her work.  Recently, Tracy’s book was released in print and proudly displays the Amazon besteller logo.

N.B. To preserve Tracy’s colour scheme to showcase her book.. I have used a previous post as a base to incorporate into her open house.. so you might see your original likes at the bottom. The text of course and Tracy’s interview are original today.

Amazon Best Seller

Tracy Campbell is a published artist of calendars, wrapping paper, and gift cards, and as an author of how-to-paint magazine articles, her happy heart sings again sharing the work of her hands through Calm Coloring: Faith, Hope & Love (Art & Soul Therapy for Kids-At-Heart).

When Tracy’s not writing, she loves to sharpen pencils, flip open paint lids, and yank off marker caps to create whimsical works of art just for ewe. Customers say her art is sweet and so warm the designs might leap off the page and land right in your heart.

She lives with her hubby and fur baby in Wasaga Beach (the Canadian tourist town known for having the longest freshwater beach in the world). Tracy is also a rare breed dog owner, chocoholic, motorcycle mamma, antique lover, and a collector of roosters and sheep (thankfully, not live ones).

About Calm Coloring: Faith, Hope & Love



A Printable Coloring eBook for Ages 9 to 99.

C. Graham CC Transparent BG Closed Cropped - Jpeg

Calm Coloring: Faith, Hope & Love (Art & Soul Therapy) will help readers (colorists) walk by faith, soar on wings of hope, and blossom with sunshiny love when they meditate, memorize and pray over Big Bible Blessings paired with 30 designs of inspiring whimsy.

Exclusive Coloring Features:

– 21 full-size, whimsical designs suitable for framing
– encouraging gift tags to attach to thoughtful tokens of love
– 3 journal pages to jot down uplifting verses, prayers, and happy heart thoughts
– 2 motivating bookmarks to tuck into your favorite books

The book is now in print but if you do buy the Kindle version there is a bonus link included at the end for you to download a high-resolution, printable copy of the entire coloring book


C. Graham Designs 3D Stacked Colored Spread 02 - JPEG

3D eBook Mock-up: Chris Graham, The Story Reading Ape with heart.




The book has already received rave reviews and here is a small selection.

Yummy Goodness By Skye Goddess on June 7, 2016

Tracy Campbell’s book, Calm Coloring has gorgeous drawings just aching to be filled with color! I absolutely love the author’s whimsical style, and positive spirituality. Every page is filled with yummy drawings and optimistic spiritual affirmations. I can’t see how you could not feel good after coloring a page from this book. My personal favorites are the Heaven mushroom, the Kindness fish, and the Thank You Bonus cupcake at the end (you really want the bonus cupcake, it’s good enough to eat).

FINALLY … an adult coloring book with pages I can actually finish. The whimsical designs are beautiful, yet simplistic enough to complete in a reasonable amount of time.

As a Christian I love the way the artist matched coloring pages with inspiring scripture references. Also, the journal jots are a great way to capture what God speaks to your heart as you meditate on His word while coloring. The bookmarks and gift tags are a great bonus as well!

Calm-Coloring … What a wonderful way to leave the stress of the day behind. What a creative way to enhance your prayer time.

I became interested in coloring books again when my mother had a heart attack and stroke 3 years ago. When she was in rehab, all the family members, young and old, would color pages out of a stack of coloring books and we would put them on her wall. As mom was further recovering, I looked for coloring books for her, to help her fine motor skills in her hand and to help cheer her up. When I came across Tracy’s Calm Coloring book, it had EVERYTHING Mom had been asking for. It had hearts, which are her favorite. It had beautiful Bible verses that are so inspiring, and uplifting pictures that she can enjoy coloring. So I printed out pages and she began to color. She loves them and they have truly put a smile on her face. I love them for my self as well. The book was brilliantly put together and my mother and I both can’t say enough wonderful things about it!


Now time to hand over to Tracy to share some fascinating family history and more about her work and blog.

Tracy Campbell PICMONKEY

Where were you born and can you tell us something about the history of your place of birth or any interesting historical fact?

I popped into the world a very long time ago, in the City of Timmins, Ontario, Canada. Timmins is 1,252 miles south of the Arctic Circle. I’m assuming that’s air miles, not dog sled miles. In January, Timmins temperatures drop to minus 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Brrrr!

As a child, I loved the cold. And I especially loved listening to the snow crunch beneath my boots while dragging my toboggan uphill. My snowmobile suit kept me toasty warm too. Before I headed outdoors, Mom wrapped a wooly scarf across my forehead, behind my hood, over my nose, and around my mouth so my skin wouldn’t freeze. Only my eyes were exposed to the elements.

Timmins, “The City of Gold”, is a small Northern Ontario mining community.

Sadly, on January 15, 2016, the Toronto Star reported, “the century-old mine that is located in one of the most prolific gold regions in Canada will close this summer.”

My paternal grandfather was a mine boss. Unfortunately, his exposure to silica (mine dust) scarred his lungs and affected his ability to breathe. He passed away when I was three-years-old.

My maternal grandfather was killed in a horrific mine accident when my mother was seven-years-old.

Here’s what went down.

Shortly after 8:00 a.m., on a frigid February 2nd morning in 1945, sixteen miners stepped into a mine cage.

With helmet beams lit, they began their descent into the pit of darkness—just another ordinary day to dig for gold in muck and clay.

The cage was outfitted with an emergency stop system called “dogs”. The “dogs” job was to grip the timbers on the sides of the shaft should the cables ever break. The “dogs” malfunctioned, and the cage plummeted 1,500 feet. My grandfather and fifteen other miners lost their lives that fateful day.


An earlier photo of The Paymaster Mine Site taken in 1938.
My grandfather is in the second row, fourth from the right.

I gathered up newspaper clippings, family photographs, and stories, and published The Kohtala & Hakala Legacy for my mom. I presented the book to her on Mother’s Day in 2014.

The poem below is one I wrote to commemorate the 71st anniversary of my grandfather’s death (a grandfather I never got to hug).

SIXTEEN MINERS by Tracy Campbell

Down, down, down,
Men toil all day,
Dig for gold
In muck and clay.

Down, down, down,
No time for play,
Miners sweat
For meager pay.

Down, down, down,
Write on this page—
Sixteen miners
Step in a cage.

Down, down, down,
Men, weary worn,
Cage door creaks
One frigid morn.

Down, down, down,
Torn cables snap,
Gloomy thoughts,
We’re in a trap! 

Down, down, down,
Lift cage drops,
Plummets fast,
Blasting stops.

Down, down, down,
Shriek, old and young,
“Help us!” heard
In mother tongue.

Down, down, down,
Torches lit,
Crowbars bend,
Friends don’t quit.

Down, down, down,
No helmet beams,
Loss of breath,
Ends miners’ dreams.

Up, up, up,
Prayers of strife,
Mother, child,
Plead for life.

Up, up, up,
Sirens blare,
Bodies rise to
Greet despair.

Up, up, up,
God knew why,
Eased each painful,
Desperate cry.

Up, up, up,
Cast in bronze,
Miners’ shrine
Gleams like dawn.

Down, down, down,
Tears freely flow,
Lives endure,
As memories glow.

On a happier note, I’m staking a claim to fame. You see, I share the same birthplace as Canadian singer and songwriter, Shania Twain, a 1976 Olympic Downhill Gold Medalist, Kathy Kreiner, and numerous NHL hockey stars. I’m related to a one too, Hector Marini, my cousin’s hubby.

I currently live in a raised bungalow, situated on the banks of the Nottawasaga River in Wasaga Beach, Ontario. Our touristy town is known for having the longest freshwater beach in the world, and it’s approximately 367 miles south of Timmins, Ontario.
I didn’t stray too far from home.

What adventures have you had publishing your work?

Once upon a time, I dreamed of being a published artist. But a wicked art teacher crushed my spirit.

Fast-forward twenty-two years to 1991. That’s when I signed up for a painting class. I’m a self-taught artist. In 1994, a friend and published illustrator encouraged me to draw my own designs. But that grating voice from high school stomped inside my brain. “You don’t have any talent. Don’t bother trying.”

My friend didn’t relent!

With shaky fingers, I picked up a pencil and gave it a whirl. And voila! A design was born. Okay, it wasn’t quite that easy. Then a brilliant idea popped into my head. Why not write instructions to coincide with the design? I took the plunge, studied “How to Paint” books, and then typed up my first pattern packet.

During that time, I attended a Tuesday morning group for young moms at a local church. With the rug rats kids locked away in the nursery, I painted the morning away. The other moms said they loved my designs, and they encouraged me to teach a class. By that time, I had a published a handful of pattern packets.

Then that irritating voice came knocking again. “Tracy, you don’t know how to teach.”

Guess what happened next?

Not only did I get a break from my children, but I was asked to teach other moms how to paint. As an added bonus, my designs sold.

My confidence bloomed like the flowers weeds in my garden. That’s when I decided to sell my expanding portfolio. Without access to the Internet, I packed up my car and traipsed all over Southern Ontario, begging and pleading with store owners to stock my designs.

Krafty Kennedy’s, a craft store in London, Ontario, took a chance and purchased all of my designs. Wait, it gets better. They even asked me to teach workshops. A few years later, I taught at national painting shows in Toronto, Ontario, and London, Ontario.

Why stop there? Why not try to get traditionally published?

I pored over magazine guidelines, sent up prayers, and dropped query letters into the mailbox. I waited, and waited, and waited. The rejections arrived. I kept submitting. After ten years of hard work and perseverance, a Canadian art magazine published my first design.

After penning numerous magazine articles, my artistic travels led me to Regal Gifts (a Canadian mail-order company). And wouldn’t you know it, I wrangled an interview. They hired me to design wrapping paper and gift enclosure cards for their Country Charm Collection. (At the age of twelve, after pounding on doors in my northern Ontario neighborhood, I sold similar Regal Gift products. Go figure.)

My confidence soared. I submitted additional designs to a well-known calendar company in Markham, Ontario. Rejected, I sulked, unaware God was still at work. A few months later, I received a phone call. Apparently, my name had been passed on to another publisher who published calendars for the Calendar Club. Flabbergasted might be the right word to describe how I felt. Anyway, I interviewed for the job and was hired to design a “Baby’s First Year” calendar.

The following year, I designed a “Folk Art“ calendar. Both calendars sold like hot cakes in mom-and-pop book stores, Chapter’s book stores in Canada, and Barnes & Noble in the U.S.

I, then, took a very long break from art to obtain my interior decorating accreditation. I’ve since retired from that field. By the way, I think the word “retirement” should mean “to begin anew”.

Is there any invention that is a major part of our lives that you wish had not been invented?

I often wish the world-wide-web had not been invented. I believe we’ve lost that personal connection. Many of us don’t write letters, send cards or visit friends and family as often as we should. Instead, we text, tweet, like and poke those we care most about.

I’m guilty as charged. Sometimes, okay, most of the time, I text my hubby when he’s in his man cave to let him know dinner is on the table. Grin.

On the upside, the world-wide-web has allowed me to sell my art and showcase my writing. More importantly, I’ve met supportive and encouraging folks from all over the world and from all walks of life.

Do you have a favourite quote? What does it means to you as an individual?

“In all the work you are given, do the best you can” (Colossians 3:23a ERV).
This is my all-time favorite Bible verse because no matter what tasks I engage in—cook or scrub toilets (my least favorite tasks), draw, color, or write (my most favorite tasks), my heavenly Father, the Great Conductor of my life, only asks that I do the best I can to please Him. I often fail miserably, but hey, I’m a work in progress. I’m just thankful, I’m covered by His love and grace.

What is your current WIP?

This summer, between soaking up the rays at the beach, meandering down the Nottawasaga river in an old fishing boat, pedaling my bicycle along the shoreline, riding on the back of my hubby’s motorcycle and spending time with family and friends, I might get a chance to work on my next, untitled, inspirational coloring book.

Sally, I’m truly honored, thankful, and grateful to be a guest on your wonderful blog.

Happy Heart Hugs

Connect with Tracy on her websites and social media.

Fine Art Shop:
FB Page:

My thanks to Tracy for the fascinating look at her life and work and we would both of course, be grateful for your feedback and also if you could share on your own network.. Sally

Smorgasbord Open House – Jazz singer, composer and musician William Price King

smorgasbord open house twoFor the last two years I have had the wonderful experience of collaborating on music posts with my friend jazz singer, musician and composer, William Price King.

We met through Twitter when I was researching guests in the music industry for the first of my Sunday morning shows. I sent William an email and was delighted when he immediately agreed to do the interview.. You can read that original post here. William Price King

I love music and I wanted the blog to reflect this with posts on artists and their work. I needed someone with expertise in the subject to do justice to the subject and approached William in the hopes that he might have the time to write an occasional post. I certainly got more than I bargained for.

Since November 2014 William has been providing us with fascinating insights into the lives and work of some of the greats of the music industry including his two mentors, Nat King Cole and Mel Torme…followed by Ella Fitzgerald, Roberta Flack, Nina Simone, Sir George Shearing, Quincy Jones, Diana Krall and Tony Bennett.. Currently we have a series on the late Natalie Cole which began this week. If you would like a trip down memory lane then you will find the previous series here. Jazz Royalty

Before we head into William’s interview I thought I would give you an brief overview of his life and work to this point and share some of his performances that show the breadth and talent that he brings to the stage.

pricestudioWilliam was born into a family that loved music and both his parents sang in Church. He studied piano from an early age, sang in the Youth Choir and then studied the clarinet at High School. This led to William joining the marching and concert bands and performing in parades at half time at football games. As a family, there were also visits to concerts by the Atlanta Symphony and the opera.

Growing up William was not your typical teenager despite the then rock ‘n’ roll scene and he instead preferred ballads and beautiful singing voices. His first exposure to Nat King Cole was on television and he identified with the emotional expression and phrasing.

William went to the prestigious Morehouse college to major in music and rather than studying the clarinet he took up voice training. This included the classics which suited his voice perfectly and he travelled across the US with his College Glee Club and Quartet. The Glee Club also did many concerts the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and William was one of their soloists.

His first Nat King Cole number that he performed in public was The Christmas Song written ironically by Mel Torme, at a gala in honor of Martin Luther King’s parents. William also felt privileged to have heard Martin Luther King speak at one of his rallies and also the great Sidney Poitier at a graduation ceremony. Here is William with The Christmas Song written by Mel Torme.

William auditioned for the School of Music at Yale University and was given a full scholarship as a classical singer. This opened up wonderful opportunities to travel with the Yale Symphony as a soloist and this included a tour of Europe. Following his graduation, William moved to New York with the attention of following a career in opera but found that he was too young and that it was a challenge to find gigs in the classical field.

This resulted in a change in direction and performance style over the next two years and it was listening to a recording of Mel Torme’s that proved to be a turning point. William immediately felt an affinity with both Mel’s style and delivery and with this revelation came new opportunities including the formation of Au Naturel with two other singers in Manhattan. With a repertoire of jazz and pop the trio auditioned for record companies and agents which led to bookings all over New York including at the famous Rainbow Room.

Here is another performance from William. This time a Mel Torme classic – Love Me Or Leave Me.

William spent his spare time going to performances of the top artists such as Lena Horne, Josephine Baker and Sarah Vaughn and having absorbed elements of their individual talents, he and the trio embarked on a tour of Canada and Europe. This was to be a fateful tour as William met and fell in love with his wife Jeanne when in France and has lived and performed there successfully since then.

I will now hand over to William to share the questions he has chosen about his place of birth, favourite leisure pastime, the most important event to affect our lives in the last 100 years and a delicious recipe for Chicken Crumble.

Welcome William and perhaps you can tell us more about where you born and can you tell us something about the history of your place of birth or any interesting historical fact.

I was born in Atlanta, Ga., the home of the late Dr. Martin Luther King (Nobel Peace Prize, 1964); the Atlanta Braves (baseball, three world series championships); the Atlanta Falcons (football, NFC champions); CNN (founded in 1980); Coca-Cola (since 1944); the Centennial Olympic Park (1996 Summer Olympics); and the world’s busiest airport, “Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport.” Atlanta is called the “gateway” to the South, a “world city” ranking 36th among world cities and 8th in the USA. Atlanta played an important role in both the Civil War and the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. The Atlanta History Center chronicles the city’s past, and the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site is dedicated to King’s life and times.

From an historical point of view, the “Battle of Atlanta” was fought on July 22, 1864. Union forces, commanded by General William T. Sherman, defeated the Confederate forces who were defending the city. This was a major turning point in the Civil War. Atlanta was totally destroyed, which destroyed the southern morale and sent them the last big blow. Sherman’s victory is credited for aiding the re-election of Abraham Lincoln, preserving the Union, and the abolishment of slavery. The battle was later dramatized and brought to popular attention through “Gone with the Wind.”

Atlanta is cosmopolitan in every sense of the word, from world-class restaurants and a myriad of cultural attractions to a hip night life and sporting events galore.

Which is your favourite leisure pastime?

Price - Mountain climbing
Without a doubt my favorite pastime is hiking in the mountains. This is an exhilarating and rewarding experience which allows me to commune with nature as well as testing my limits. There is nothing more gratifying than winding my way up the side of a mountain enjoying the beauty along the way, not to mention the satisfaction when I reach the summit. I get goose bumps when contemplating its majesty.

The changing colors from the clouds and snowy peaks are mesmerizing, as are the flora and fauna. Mountain climbing gives me inspiration and joy because it is more than a pastime or a sport, it’s a passion. It’s stress-free, and I always take the time to stop and contemplate the beauty around me. It is good for my heart, lungs, legs, ankles, feet, blood pressure, and peace of mind. Moreover, it helps me to connect with myself and with nature in a way that brings serenity and a sense of well-being.

What do you believe is the most important event to have affected our lives in the last 100 years?

That’s a pretty tough one because there are so many events that have happened on the world stage over the last 100 years which have had direct or indirect consequences on our lives. To name a few, we have survived major wars; stock markets have crashed and the economy has fallen flat on its face; we saw the fall of the Berlin wall; apartheid came to an end; and the Twin Towers came tumbling down. Now we’re engulfed in a war on terrorism which will, undoubtedly, have ramifications for years to come. There is an on-going refugee crisis, a crisis that is putting the European Union in grave danger of collapse.

For me, living in Europe, this crisis, caused by armed conflict and global warming, is probably the most important event of the last 100 years because it affects us now and there seems to be no end to it. The influx of refugees and the recent terror attacks in Paris have placed the E.U. system of passport-free travel under tremendous strain and if it were to collapse then this could be the beginning of the end of the European Union, which could have dire consequences. Of course, the rights of these voiceless people who have experienced hunger and indignity, and who have seen death with their own eyes, must be defended, too. We are all humans.

Perhaps the answer, if there is one, can be found in the Middle East because it will be impossible for Europe to provide sanctuary to everyone in need. In the meantime, our leaders must come up with long term solutions on how to bring about genuine peace through education and development and take serious action on climate change. Time is running out!

If you cook do you have a signature dish that everyone loves to eat? Can we have the recipe?
I learned how to cook when I was a student living in the dormitory on campus in New Haven, CT. I was lucky in that there were a lot of good cooks among students my age (I was 21 then). I watched how they prepared their meals, took notes, and tried to do the same thing more or less. Sometimes it worked, most times it didn’t, but It helped me to be patient in the kitchen and to learn the hard way.

When I finished school and went to New York I had a few culinary skills under my belt to keep me alive so I didn’t have to be a regular at McDonald’s. When I was dating my future wife in France, I was amazed at her cooking skills. Being “French,” believe me, she knew how to cook! Once married and with a family to raise, my wife did all of the cooking as she wanted to make sure our kids ate the right things, had enough vegetables, proteins, etc. I would do desserts, mostly American brownies, carrot cakes, pumpkin pies, and the like.

The kids finally grew up and left home, by then my wife had had more than enough of being in the kitchen cooking. So, I took over the reins of preparing meals and got promoted from desserts to full menus. I must say that I do enjoy cooking on a daily basis. Cooking a meal is one of the most personal and intimate things you can do for someone. You’re literally providing plated nourishment made with your own hands and creativity. I have found that cooking can be really relaxing, fun, and I love the challenge of preparing good food. Since I consider cooking to be an art, I always try to create something new – another way to express myself. I also love to explore new tastes and get a tremendous sense of satisfaction when I make a dish that rivals one in a good restaurant.

In our family and among our friends, my Chicken Crumble is well received and it’s one of my favorite dishes. It’s simple and filling.  (Also it looks like it would be very welcome after a day in the mountains. SC).

Nyika,Gene,MarionI must admit that I rarely stick to a recipe 100%, I always improvise. That probably comes from my being a jazz singer. Why not?

Chicken Crumble Recipe

6 chicken breasts
3 apples
2 medium size onions (you can always substitute with shallots)
2 garlic cloves
2 tea spoons of curry (or more depending upon how much you like curry, I always put more)
½ cup of raisins
3 table spoons of fresh cream
2 table spoons of olive oil

150 grams of oatmeal
120 grams of soft butter
90 grams of parmesan cheese


Peel and mince the onions. Cut the chicken breasts and pealed apples into cubes. Preheat the oven at 180°C.

Heat the olive oil in a wok or skillet over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, stirring occasionally until they soften or are translucent. Add the cubes of chicken breasts and apples. Salt and pepper and let cook for about 10 minutes. Add the curry, cream, and raisins and stir gently. Rectify the seasoning, you can always add more curry, salt, and pepper if you like. Pour into an oven dish. Prepare the “crumble” by mixing the soft butter with the oatmeal flakes and the parmesan. Spread the mixture evenly over the meat and place it into the oven and let it cook for 20 minutes. Bon appétit!

That sounds delcious and a recipe I shall definitely be trying out.  My thanks to William for joining us today in a different capacity and I will leave you with another performance from one of his live gigs.. Lullaby of Birdland

Thanks for dropping by and please leave a note and feel free to share William’s Interview. We hope you will join us next Wednesday for the second part of the Natalie Cole Story.

Smorgasbord Open House – Australian Author Toni Pike – The Magus Covenant

Smorgasbord Open House

My guest today is Australian author Toni Pike who grew up in a suburb of Sydney. She studied Veterinary Science at Sydney University and following her marriage to an Air Force officer she travelled around both Australia and overseas to postings in London and Washington D.C. Toni taught high school as her family grew up and later went on to work in public office; including some time as a contract writer for the NSW Department of Agriculture, writing guide books for farmers. Now permanently settled in the national capital Canberra with her husband, Toni has launched her career as a novelist.

Apart from her writing; family, taking long walks and catching up with friends over coffee are important elements in her life. We will take a closer look at Toni’s debut novel and will find out more about her second book in the series at the end of her interview.

About The Magus Covenant

 COVER_Magus Covenant

The Reverend Jotham Fletcher is in Rome to give a lecture on his PhD thesis about Simon Magus at the church where he fell to his death beside the Roman Forum. Magus was a cult leader mentioned in the Bible and his libertine sect disappeared by 400 AD. But did it really die out?

A robed man is pushed from the belltower of the church at midnight and Jotham becomes the prime suspect. His lover Antonella, an expert on ancient documents, has a shocking secret. Rumours fly about a papyrus scroll that mentions Magus. A ruthless Catholic Brotherhood will stop at nothing in their hunt for the Simonian Sect. And a reclusive billionaire has the chance of a lifetime to get his revenge.

Jotham is kidnapped, tortured and on the run. He races from Italy to England to Sweden. But the body count continues to rise and so does the heat in this non-stop thriller that will leave you breathless.

One of the recent reviews for The Magus Covenant

A real page turner. By sarah hardy on 9 Jan. 2016 Format: Kindle Edition

The Magus Covenant is the ideal read for fans that love books like The Da Vinci Code.

With short chapters and quite a fast paced storyline, I flew through this book in no time at all.

I don’t read many books like The Magus Covenant and to be honest I really don’t know why as the whole church and religion storyline really fascinates me. The Roman Catholic Church for one has always been steeped in history with rumours and secrets that will always be something that intrigues many of us.

Jotham is on the run and you can really feel the adrenalin that is coursing through him and the constant mixture of emotions that he is experiencing. I enjoyed the closeness and relationship that he has with Antonella.

The Magus Covenant is a story steeped with lies and secrets. It’s one of those stories where you become a bit like the main character and trust no one. There are certainly some twists that I didn’t see coming that makes the novel even more enjoyable.

Buy The Magus Covenant


USA     UK       Aus       Canada      France       Germany

Smashwords       Barnes and Noble       Kobo

Toni the blogger

Apart from her own blog posts with articles on travel, writing and motivation, Toni also has written some guest posts including one for the Story Reading Ape earlier this year. The article is a guide to writers on how to include that adrenaline rush correctly and effectively when your characters are faced with flight or fight response situations.

‘This is a simple guide to adrenaline and its effects on the human body. An adrenaline rush is often referred to as the flight or fight response. You, the writer, put your characters into the most incredible situations and then decide if they will confront the enemy or run away – or do something completely unexpected. But what really happens when a person confronts an assailant or has a panic attack’?  Adrenaline – A Simple Guide for writers

It is clear from this next post that not only has Toni a love of travel, but that food in the various countries she has visited is also enjoyed. We take pizza rather for granted with huge variations in the crust and toppings depending on where you live. Here is a master class on Pizza when in Rome!

‘Pizza has become a favourite meal around the world, one that has been popular for decades. Australians love to go to an Italian restaurant with family and friends, choose several different varieties laden with all sorts of toppings and then share slices around the table. And they usually eat it with a knife and fork.

The method of eating pizza in Rome is very different. You may like to try the traditional approach and see how you enjoy it. It will certainly make you feel like a local.’ Eat Pizza the Roman Way

Now it is time to hand over the blog to Toni who has chosen her selection of questions about her family history, favourite television series, what she believes is the next big thing in the publishing industry and five experiences she feels we should all enjoy.


If you have looked into your family history have your found any surprises that you can talk about!

 I grew up in a leafy suburb of Sydney, at a time when it was not considered respectable to have a convict in your family background. But now it is generally regarded as a badge of honour. Delving into the past, I have found more than one fascinating surprise.

The First Fleet arrived in Australia in 1788. Fourteen years ago, I was delighted to discover that I could trace my descent all the way back to a marine on the Friendship, one of the convict transport ships. Private Thomas Williams had a relationship with Anne Davis, who arrived soon afterwards on the Lady Juliana, a ship transporting female convicts. It was nicknamed “The Floating Brothel” for reasons better left to the imagination. Before too long, their son Thomas Williams II was born and the rest, as they say, is history.

My great-great-great grandfather Richard Hunt arrived on a convict ship in 1816. His father worked at the Worshipful Company of Saddlers in London, where young Richard was tempted to steal some silverware. Transported to Australia, he soon became a respectable citizen: a farmer and lay preacher with a wife and five children. After his first wife died, he re-married and had five more children. Unfortunately, Richard was living in the town of Gundagai, where the early settlers had unwittingly built their settlement along the flood plain. In 1852, there was a raging one-hundred-year flood and the waters quickly rose. Everyone climbed onto their rooftops, but all the houses were swept away. More than 90 citizens were killed, including Richard Hunt and his second family.

Now I live in Canberra, Australia’s capital city. The hero of my thriller The Magus Covenant is in Rome to give a talk, but he is an Anglican Minister and rector of the oldest church in Canberra. It was built in 1845 and surrounded by a small graveyard, reminiscent of a church in an English village.

What is your favourite all time television series?

 The 1995 adaption of Pride and Prejudice, starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth, remains my favourite television series. Everything about it combined into a perfect synthesis almost as splendid as Jane Austen’s novel. The scenery and locations were the ideal backdrop, with a range of historic houses so well suited to the different characters who resided there. Through each episode, snippets of everyday life were revealed like a sumptuous visual feast for Jane Austen fans.

The series was recorded on film for a more painterly effect that enhanced the visual impact. Who could forget the luscious but refined Elizabeth Bennett, the dashing Mr Darcy and the incredible range of actors who all seemed to ideally suited to their roles. Most important of all, the screenplay remained true to the novel. It is the perfect story, where everything goes from bad to worse until finally all is resolved.

 What do think will be the next big development in the publishing industry?

I am certain that the next ten years will bring unparalleled changes to the publishing industry. Printed books will gradually be phased out and replaced by ebooks as an ever-increasing number of people adapt to using an electronic device for reading. The only exceptions will be printed books for young children and lavish coffee table books. The editorial process to produce an ebook will be reduced and the marketing process will increasingly become the sole responsibility of the writer.

The traditional publishing industry will slowly shrink until it finds creative alternatives to the traditional methods of publication. As digital publishing takes over, alternative forms of writing will increase their market share, including shorts stories, novellas and a range of non-fiction.

Online publishers are introducing more methods to ensure that published ebooks do not contain too many errors. At the same time, they are trying to ensure that all reviews posted are honest and unbiased. The standard of indie publishing is already high, and I believe that in the next ten years, the overall standard will improve and social media will become fully integrated into the world of publishing.

What are the top five experiences or activities that you feel that everyone should complete in their lifetime?

I love to travel the world, and my favourite mode of transport is to take a cruise. I never anticipated that I would be able to visit so many extraordinary places. I drew on some of those experiences in The Magus Covenant, as Jotham Fletcher races from Italy to England to Sweden.

There are five special travel activities that I recommend for inclusion on any bucket list. You will remember them for a lifetime, but none involve climbing a mountain or sailing white water rapids. I love to put my hero in great peril, but prefer safe activities for myself.

  1. Visit Petra in Jordan to feel like Indiana Jones as you walk down the winding sandstone canyon and then emerge into the vast archaeological site that was carved out of red stone.
  2. Sail along the Panama Canal, one of the world’s greatest engineering marvels. It takes an entire day to pass through six massive locks, Miraflores Lake and the enormous Gatun Lake that is dotted with small islands.
  3. Explore the ruins of the Temple of Delphi in Greece. It is one of the most beautiful sights in the world, set on the side of a hill and with views all the way to the coast.
  4. Wander around Taormina in Sicily, a wonderful old hilltop town that has the remains of a Roman amphitheatre and vistas of Mt Etna.
  5. Cruise through Alaska’s Inside Passage in early May, when ice is still floating in the water. See the spectacular sight of whales and orcas, mountains, fjords and glaciers.

Tell us about your work in progress, plans for your blog in the next year and any special events that are coming up that are very special to you.

I am currently working on the second book in the Magus series. The Rock of Magus should be released by the middle of 2016. Once again, Jotham Fletcher is the hero and this time there is a problem in the Vatican. He will be travelling from England to America, Spain and Rome in his search for the truth.

You can read more about me on my website or visit my Goodreads page Goodreads. I write occasional articles about travel, writing and motivation. This year I’ll be visiting Brisbane and Melbourne to spend time with my grown children and hope to spend some time in Britain and take a cruise to see the Norwegian Fjords for the first time.

Link to Toni on her website and social media.

My website
My author page on Goodreads

My thanks to Toni for such an interesting response to her chosen questions and we would of course be delighted to receive your feedback.

Thank you for dropping by and please feel free to reblog and share.  Sally