A Mother’s Loss

Book Link

From Amazon:

Two women share a loss no mother should have to bear, connected across time.

Present day: Liz Stamford uproots her family to the Norfolk countryside to escape a traumatic loss. Their new house, a renovated pub, holds a ghostly secret from the past. Liz tunes into those memories; uncovering a loss which tethers a young girl into the fabric of her new home. Grief drives Liz to solve the mystery of the girl in her dreams who cannot rest in peace.

1860: Sarah Whiting lives with her mother and siblings in the Crown and Hare pub. One night she is attacked by her stepfather. The consequences of his actions lead to heartbreak and scandal for the family.

Can Liz discover what dreadful events haunt her new home? Can she solve the mystery and bring peace to Sarah?

My Review:

This is a heart-rending story of love and loss, and connecting two different time periods together. Plenty of strife, sadness, abuse, and love. A mother’s love is the backbone of a child’s life. Unfortunately, repeated, incestuous rape brings on pregnancy, unwanted yet birthed. Drastic changes happen with all in both timelines. This book touched me deeply.

Note: Triggers for those who’ve been sexually assaulted.

Pilot Who Knows the Waters 

Book Title: Pilot Who Knows the Waters

Series: The Lord Hani Mysteries (#6)

Author: N.L. Holmes

Publication Date: June 15, 2022

Publisher: WayBack Press

Page Length: 330

Genre: Historical mystery, political intrigue

Twitter Handle: @nlholmesbooks @cathiedunn

Instagram Handle:  @n.l.holmes  @thecoffeepotbookclub

Hashtags: #HistoricalMystery #AncientEgypt #BlogTour #TheCoffeePotBookClub

Tour Schedule Page:   https://thecoffeepotbookclub.blogspot.com/2022/10/blog-tour-pilot-who-knows-waters.html

Blurb:

Hani must secretly obtain a Hittite bridegroom for Queen Meryet-amen, but Ay and the faction behind Prince Tut-ankh-aten are opposed–to the point of violence. Does the death of an artisan have anything to do with Ay’s determination to see his grandson on the throne? Then, another death brings Egypt to the brink of war… Hani’s diplomatic skills will be pushed to the limit in this final book in The Lord Hani Mysteries.

Guest post for When Angels Fly

When I think of fascinating moments in the millennial history of Egypt, the reigns of Akhenaten and his immediate successors come to mind. This slice of the mid-fourteenth century BCE is marked by Amenhotep III “The Magnificent” on one end—a moment during which Egypt was at the height of its imperial power and wealth—and on the other, the brief reign of “King Tut”, whose youthful face is so well known to us because of his fabulous tomb. In between lies a terrain completely unsuspected until its rediscovery just more than a hundred years ago. To this day, our knowledge of Akhenaten and his times remains spotty, reconstructed from slender archaeological clues. But this is what we think we know:

The son of Amenhotep seems to have co-ruled with his father for a few years under the name Amenhotep IV. At this period, the elder king was gradually setting in place a religious shift that emphasized royal power by claiming that he himself incarnated all the most powerful gods of the Egyptian pantheon. This was a step beyond the traditional idea of a divine king. He often referred to himself as the Shining Sun Disk (pa-Aten Djehen), that is, a manifestation of godhead. We can’t know what role his teenaged son played in this campaign, but he was obviously drinking it in. Picture 1—face of Akhenaten

When Amenhotep IV became the sole ruler, he moved fast to take his father’s theology to its logical extremes. Over a period of several years, the Aten (Amenhotep III) not only absorbed but replaced the other gods, especially Amen-Ra, the mighty “Hidden One”, whose powerful priesthood had long been a target of royal animosity. The young king changed his name from Amen-hotep, Amen is Satisfied, to Akh-en-aten, Serviceable to the Aten. Many of his courtiers likewise jettisoned their old-god names, and eventually his henchmen even desecrated people’s tombs by chiseling out the mention of other gods in their names. The world’s first Thought Police! Within a few years he built an entirely new capital in Middle Egypt, in a place where the cliffs seemed to form the hieroglyph of the horizon—and called it Horizon of the Aten.

Little by little, the temples of other gods were shut down, their tens of thousands of priests and lay employees sent packing, and their extensive lands requisitioned for the Aten. Akhenaten himself was the high priest of the new cult, and it was exclusively through him that one made himself heard by the god, unlike the old religion, where everyone’s prayers were valuable. The afterlife, which was traditionally conceived as an eternal life like that on earth only perfectly full of comfort and good things, was now the bleak prospect of fluttering around the altars of the Aten while Akhenaten offered sacrifice.

We can only imagine the confusion and anger of the populace, deprived of their dearest traditions and hopes. Especially the fury of dispossessed priests and bureaucrats. The suppression of the temple system had sent the economy crashing to the ground, bringing misery to many. But the king either didn’t know or didn’t care. There was just one hole in his theology: what happened when the Sole Mediator died?

Akhenaten did die, and he was only in his thirties. It seems that he might have taken a brother as a co-ruler before his death to pave the way to the reign of his baby son, but this youth predeceased the king. There is some evidence that the successor of Akhenaten was his queen, the beautiful Nefertiti, who ruled briefly before she, too, died. These years immediately following the death of the Heretic King are murky. No doubt there was pushback against the changes he had wrought, fed by hope of a return to the old ways after his disappearance. Nefertiti was advised if not controlled by her father, Ay, a powerful military commander. Was he for or against the Atenist religion? He seems to have been a pragmatist who followed the path most likely to maintain him in power.

At some point in this period after the death of Akhenaten, a strange event took place. Hittite documents tell us—it is never mentioned in the Egyptian archives—that some unidentified queen of Egypt approached the Hittite king to request the hand of his son, who would thus rule over Egypt and unite the two empires. This was mind-blowing stuff. The Hittites were Egypt’s chief rivals! At first, scholars assumed that the queen in question was Tutankhamen’s widow, but external dating issues make it increasingly likely that this episode took place before the boy-king’s reign. So who was she? Maybe Nefertiti? But wouldn’t she have wanted to see her own son on the throne, if he was her son? A more likely candidate is Meryet-aten, the eldest daughter of Akhenaten and his wife. After the death of his brother, Akhenaten seems to have promoted Nefertiti to a kind of co-rule, making her essentially a second king. Thus, he needed a queen to fulfill public duties, and his daughter was promoted to this place. She likewise served as her mother’s “queen” under Nefertiti’s solo reign. Was she the one who sought support from Egypt’s enemies against partisans of her young brother?

All of this is speculative, and we’ll see in a minute why.

One can imagine that this plotting and conniving used the promise of a return to the old ways as its leverage. The priests of Amen would surely have supported anyone who started unraveling Akhenaten’s reforms. Meryet-aten disappeared from sight without a trace. Was there a violent conflict—a civil war?  And then, the nine-year-old Tut appeared on the throne, and the world’s face seemed to have come around to the front again. In almost no time, the Heretic’s capital was abandoned for a return to the traditional double capitals of Thebes and Memphis. The temples of Amen-Ra and the other gods were restored and their priests reinstated, and the economic wheels began once more to roll. Little by little, all the changes that had turned society on its head were were reversed, as Tut published manifestos highly critical of his father. We have to see the ideas of adults behind all this. No doubt Grandpa Ay. And also a certain officer named Horemheb, who apparently gained the boy-king’s confidence.

So the reign of Tutankhamen must have seemed like the return of a golden age to the people of Egypt! There is an epilogue of sorts, because, as we know, the youth died suddenly at nineteen—without issue. Nobody was left of the family but old Ay, who ascended the throne for four years, then died in his turn. And who stepped up to fill the gap next? Horemheb, who completed the reversal of the Heretic’s experiment by razing his old capital to the ground and tearing down every monument, chiseling Akhenaten’s name and likeness from wherever they appeared. Worse still, every mention of his reign and those that followed were expunged from the historical record! Within a few generations, it was as if Akhenaten and his family had never existed, until archaeologists in the nineteenth century came across an inexplicable city in the middle of nowhere that went by the name of Horizon of the Aten.

[Note: All images are in public domain.]

Buy Links:

Universal Link (if you have it): https://books2read.com/u/47gPVa

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Pilot-Who-Knows-Waters-Mysteries/dp/1735291676/

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09ZQWK45J/  

Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/Pilot-Knows-Waters-N-L-Holmes/dp/1735291676/

Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/Pilot-Knows-Waters-Lord-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B09ZQWK45J/

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/pilot-who-knows-the-waters-nl-holmes/1141493258?ean=2940166467379

Waterstones: https://www.waterstones.com/book/pilot-who-knows-the-waters/n-l-holmes/9781735291673

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/search?query=pilot+who+knows+the+water

iBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/id6442831285

Author Bio:

N.L. Holmes is the pen name of a professional archaeologist who received her doctorate from Bryn Mawr College. She has excavated in Greece and in Israel, and taught ancient history and humanities at the university level for many years. She has always had a passion for books, and in childhood, she and her cousin (also a writer today) used to write stories for fun. Today, she and her husband live in France with their chickens and cats, where she weaves, plays the violin, gardens, and dances.

Social Media Links:

Website: https://www.nlholmes.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/nlholmesbooks

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nlholmesbooks

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/n-l-holmes/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/n.l.holmes/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/nlholmesbooks/

Book Bub: https://www.instagram.com/n.l.holmes/

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/N-L-Holmes/e/B0858H3K7S

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20117057.N_L_Holmes

This entry was posted on January 20, 2023. 2 Comments

A Dutiful Son

Book Link

From Amazon:

What will Fitzwilliam Darcy do when his beloved father stands between him and happiness?

Darcy has always emulated his wise and honourable father, George Darcy. But following a sinister act of betrayal by a former family friend, his father rejects his most benevolent principles.

When Georgiana forms a friendship with Miss Elizabeth Bennet, Darcy convinces his father to allow the association to continue. However, Elizabeth soon presents a thorny problem: she entices Darcy as no other lady has before, and with his father’s current outlook, he would not approve of her as a daughter-in-law.

Still, Darcy’s problem may resolve in time: his father, after getting to know Elizabeth, is certain to recognise her many admirable qualities and change his mind. But what if he does not?

In this Pride & Prejudice Regency variation, Fitzwilliam Darcy is caught between the influences of love and duty. Which of these will wield the greatest power?

My Review:

I have decided that “A Dutiful Son” is my most favorite reimagined version of Pride and Prejudice. Miller can weave the characters perfectly and change each of the character’s verbiage and thoughts easily. Or at least, Miller makes it look easy to do. Any fans of early 1800s romance will want to read this book.

This entry was posted on January 19, 2023. 2 Comments

His Castillion Hawk

Book Title: His Castilian Hawk

Series: The Castilian Saga

Author: Anna Belfrage

Narrator: Greg Patmore

Publication Date: Audio version, November 3, 2022

Publisher: Timelight Press

Page Length: Audio book

Genre: Historical Fiction, Medieval Historical Romance

Twitter Handles: @abelfrageauthor @cathiedunn

Instagram Handles: @annabelfrageauthor @thecoffeepotbookclub

Hashtags: #HistoricalFiction #MedievalRomance #BlogTour #TheCoffeePotBookClub

Tour Schedule Page: https://thecoffeepotbookclub.blogspot.com/2022/11/blog-tour-his-castilian-hawk-audio-book.html

Book Title, Author & Narrator :

His Castilian Hawk

By Anna Belfrage

Narrated by Greg Patmore

Blurb:

For bastard-born Robert FitzStephan, being given Eleanor d’Outremer in marriage is an honour. For Eleanor, this forced wedding is anything but a fairy tale.

Robert FitzStephan has served Edward Longshanks loyally since the age of twelve. Now he is riding with his king to once and for all bring Wales under English control.

Eleanor d’Outremer—Noor to family—lost her Castilian mother as a child and is left entirely alone when her father and brother are killed. When ordered to wed the unknown Robert FitzStephan, she has no choice but to comply.

Two strangers in a marriage bed is not easy. Things are further complicated by Noor’s blood-ties to the Welsh princes and by covetous Edith who has warmed Robert’s bed for years.

Robert’s new wife may be young and innocent, but he is soon to discover that not only is she spirited and proud, she is also brave. Because when Wales lies gasping and Edward I exacts terrible justice on the last prince and his children, Noor is determined to save at least one member of the House of Aberffraw from the English king.

Will years of ingrained service have Robert standing with his king or will he follow his heart and protect his wife, his beautiful and fierce Castilian hawk?

Buy Links:

The Kindle ebook of this title is available to read on #KindleUnlimited.

Universal Link: http://myBook.to/HISHAWK

Audible Amazonhttps://www.audible.com/pd/His-Castilian-Hawk-Audiobook/B0BLPXJL8M
Bingebooks : https://bingebooks.com/book/the-castilian-hawk
NOOK (Barnes and Noble): https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/his-castilian-hawk-anna-belfrage/1137734133
Chirphttps://www.chirpbooks.com/audiobooks/his-castilian-hawk-by-anna-belfrage
Librohttps://libro.fm/audiobooks/9789198507249
Storytelhttps://www.storytel.com/se/sv/books/3555095
Scribd: https://www.scribd.com/audiobook/600535465/His-Castilian-Hawk
Kobo & Walmart: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/audiobook/his-castilian-hawk
Google Playhttps://play.google.com/store/audiobooks/details/Anna_Belfrage_His_Castilian_Hawk?id=AQAAAEBCAX5BLM
Audiobookshttps://www.audiobooks.com/audiobook/his-castilian-hawk/640346

Author Bio:

Anna Belfrage

Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a time-traveller. As this was impossible, she became a financial professional with two absorbing interests: history and writing. Anna has authored the acclaimed time travelling series The Graham Saga, set in 17th century Scotland and Maryland, as well as the equally acclaimed medieval series The King’s Greatest Enemy which is set in 14th century England.

Anna has also published The Wanderer, a fast-paced contemporary romantic suspense trilogy with paranormal and time-slip ingredients.

Her Castilian Heart is the third in her “Castilian” series, a stand-alone sequel to her September 2020 release, His Castilian Hawk. Set against the complications of Edward I’s invasion of Wales, His Castilian Hawk is a story of loyalty, integrity—and love. In the second instalment, The Castilian Pomegranate, we travel with the protagonists to the complex political world of medieval Spain. This latest release finds our protagonists back in England—not necessarily any safer than the wilds of Spain!

Anna has also authored The Whirlpools of Time in which she returns to the world of time travel. Join Duncan and the somewhat reluctant time-traveller Erin on their adventures through the Scottish Highlands just as the first Jacobite rebellion is about to explode!

All of Anna’s books have been awarded the IndieBRAG Medallion, she has several Historical Novel Society Editor’s Choices, and one of her books won the HNS Indie Award in 2015. She is also the proud recipient of various Reader’s Favorite medals as well as having won various Gold, Silver and Bronze Coffee Pot Book Club awards.

Find out more about Anna, her books and enjoy her eclectic historical blog on her website, www.annabelfrage.com 

Social Media Links:

Website: www.annabelfrage.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/abelfrageauthor

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/annabelfrageauthor

Instagram: https://instagram.com/annabelfrageauthor

Book Bub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/anna-belfrage

Amazon Author Page: http://Author.to/ABG

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6449528.Anna_Belfrage

This entry was posted on January 19, 2023. 2 Comments

A Child’s Love

Book Link

From Amazon:

“A Child’s Love” is a heartwarming story evoking the unbreakable chain of love between mother and daughter. It dares the reader to hold back tears as a mother watches her daughter become a mother herself, and the daughter then tends to the mother’s needs as time takes its inevitable toll. This “circle of life” process is keenly observed by the granddaughter, who will someday herself need to extend such care and compassion to her mother, thus allowing love, devotion and compassion to pass from one generation to the next.

My Review:

This is a perfect story told in rhyming words about the love of a mother and her child. Almost a complete cycle of human life. Litle girl who needs/loves her mother, she grows up, they still need each other and then near the end, the child is seen in a drawing depicting the grown child feeding her aged mother. Love is the greatest of all.

Caged by Steel & Gems #dystopian

Book Link

From Amazon:

After the Final War swept away most of the earth’s population and left the land in ruins, an agreement was made between the Americas. Inside the protecting Wall, a marital binding between queens is arranged for peace. But the North and South don’t only share a treaty, they hide a secret. A genocide in plan to eliminate a defect. One that can revive the memories of the Old World and call an uprising bigger than the growing tides.

The twin heirs are forced to compete for one crown. Amelia and Veronica are a mirror in many ways, both as each others’ opposites and as a reflection. In a rising rebellion, Veronica’s heart is torn between saving her people and protecting her sister. Amelia can’t seem to get around the snarky Prince to keep the Americas in order. While Veronica works to save the free will of her people, Amelia manages her rule with complete control.


Will the serum destroy the minds of the Americas, or will the twin Heirs come together to stop the Council? Or, will one sister lose her freedom completely?

Sometimes what’s best for a country can come between the love of two sisters.

A rising rebellion.

A mind-controlling serum.

The North and South are divided by two crowns.

My Review:

Wow. This book is chock full of a last war post apocalyptic society. The Americas, separated by an amazing wall so high and stuffed full of technology appropriate to the story. I don’t like giving too much away, but this book has about anything you can think of. What was to be one twin chosen as queen it only the start. What if you were vaccinated, and lost your memories? Could a medicine to negate the vaccines be created?

The Magic Vodka Wardrobe Book 5

Book Link

From Amazon: The next instalment of this wacky series is set between December 2019 and the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic in February 2020. Still light-hearted and witty, book 5 starts in December 2019 with the General Elections. Aunt Sheila is deciding whether she should wear her peach coloured jacket to the first winter elections in one hundred years. Boris Johnson’s landslide win brings the usual customers into the little corner shop to have their say on the new weird haired Prime Minister. The girls continue to drink in the wardrobe with the funny little Sikh barman, Bachittar, who keeps the magical wardrobe spotlessly clean as the virus in Wuhan becomes ever more threatening. We have Shaz and Trace becoming more environmentally conscious. They even try to recycle their old clothes in the old wardrobe and avoid the fast fashion of Primark. They begin to follow Greta, the climate activist but it’s Mrs Singh who prays to the portrait of Greta daily. The local thrash metal band are wearing Witcher costumes and entertaining the clientele in the local Dog & Drum public house. We have Christmas, New Year, Megxit and a Royal visit to the hilly town in Yorkshire. We still have the lovesick Rajeev trying to win over the lovely Shaz, unfortunately he is still living in the caravan (RV) on the enormous grassy roundabout with his pal Gypo Bob. We have Odin Trevor, the ex-jailbird pigeon fanatic teaching Rajeev the tango while trying to stay on the good side of Mad Mush Martha, mother to all the sodding little Avengers. Read as a standalone or go back to the start, either way this little series is guaranteed to brighten up your day. Released at a time when the world needs a lift, we even have a guest chapter from the much talented Bjorn Larssen, look out for yippinglish and the Cheeky girls

My Review: This is book 5 in a series, and the first book I’ve read in this series. The books do not have to be read in any order. Patel has a unique writing style for sure. I seriously laughed out loud! The book incorporates real life issues with non sense. Quirky and uplifting.

Christmas Muddle by Robin Densmore Fuson

Book Link

From Amazon: Can a child’s doll change the way a person see’s God? Problems arise. Muddles happen. Attitudes need adjustment. CEO Anadara Richardson likes the way things run in her well-ordered world. For years, she’s “adopted” one-child families for Christmas and lavished them with gifts.

Zachary Hall is an entrepreneur who specializes in construction. He sponsors a different family each year for Christmas. This year, he’s excited over a special plan for the “adopted” family.

A computer glitch partners up Anadara and Zach to sponsor a large family with seven children. This is a huge snag in their plans, but they both trust the person who manages their “adoption” accounts.

Can they work together and pull off a great Christmas to a large family in need?

How many more glitches need to happen to bring these two together for the best Christmas ever?

Find out in this heartwarming Christmas romance.

My Review: I won’t recap the story but I will write my thoughts on what I read. This is a Christian romance centered around Christmas. The generosity of many of the characters helping families in need melted my heart as I’m doing the same for a local family each year. The warmth and the love is immensely giving me pause and reflect on Christmas when I was a child. Great read!

Meet Vanita Shukla Hork

Please welcome Vanita Shukla Hork to my blog. Hello Vanita – shall we sit and have a chat?

Please introduce yourself to those reading this blog post.

Thanks for having me as your guest, Mary, I am delighted to have the opportunity to connect with your readers!

I started writing poetry at the age of 13. Writing and sharing my poetry is my passion. I have a full-time job in the corporate world, so my poetry related work is done after work hours in the evening and during weekends.

I launched my poetry blog in November 2021 and published my first collection of poems written as a young girl in November 2022, Memories from Another Lifetime: Pain.

I’ve written about my writing journey in my blog. My mission is to make the voice of my younger self heard.

I come from India but I grew up abroad including in the U.S., as my father was an Indian career diplomat. I have lived in Denmark since 1986 and am married to a Dane. Our son moved to college in 2022, so we are now empty nesters.

Has writing always been part of your life and when did you “know” that it was time to start writing your first book?

I started writing poetry in 1981 at the age of 13. I had returned home to live with my parents, after a harrowing year at a very well-reputed girls’ boarding school in India. I did not realise it at the time, but I had been the victim of severe bullying at a very vulnerable age for a girl. It took me almost four decades to get over it, to regain my self-confidence and heal, and to step more fully into my own power. (Oh how I understand this all too well.)

The trauma unleashed the poet in me. Needing an outlet to express my emotions, I started writing.

It came naturally. The topics I wrote about were very personal, private, and at times, dark – unrequited love, desire, pain, betrayal, and my budding sexuality. The catalyst for many of these poems seems to have been a deep pain of some sort, which needed an outlet, release, and ultimately, redemption. Many of my poems also have a spiritual undertone.

I wrote actively and copiously until the late 1980s, when I got married. I was now in my early twenties, and the everyday existence of being married, getting a university degree, and starting a career took over. After our son was born, motherhood became my primary focus, alongside a full-time career. The hand-written poems were forgotten, stored away in cardboard boxes, testimonies of another time, another identity.

A few years ago, I suddenly started writing again, after a hiatus of more than three decades. Even though pain was once again the catalyst, I was immensely relieved and grateful that I had not lost my inner voice, and that the poet in me was not dead.

During the corona lockdowns in 2020, I found myself with more time on my hands while working from home. Inspired by my most recent spell of writing, I decided the time had come to type my hand-written poems, before the papers disintegrated or got lost. My idea initially was to save the poems for our son and his future family, so they would know who their mother and grandmother had been.

At the back of my mind, I also had a hope of publishing my poems one day. My late father, who strongly supported my poetry writing, had tried to get them published in the ‘80s, but it was not meant to be. But now, with the advent of the internet and modern technology, this goal was within my reach.

I purchased a personal laptop and started typing the almost 40-year-old poems during our annual family holiday in France in June 2020. As I typed the poems, I marvelled at the wisdom and depth of the young girl I had been, and how some of the emotions had not really changed in the years between us. I was also confronted by her darkness and felt overwhelmed by the pain and intensity in my poems. They were mature beyond my years when I wrote them.

This young girl deserved to be heard.

I decided to start publishing my poems and launched my poetry blog in November 2021. The response was very positive, not least on Twitter. I joined Twitter in December 2021, and I was warmly welcomed by the writing community and poetry lovers alike.

By the summer of 2022 I realised I needed a new challenge – the time had come to publish my first book of poems.

How difficult was it writing your first book?

Very difficult, indeed! As I describe in my blog Making a dream come true, I was practically leaping out of my comfort zone, and it was extremely uncomfortable.

I quickly understood, that even though writing poems is a creative endeavour, publishing a book of poems is an entirely different matter! It requires structure, analysis, and discipline.

I had to learn a lot about the technicalities of self-publishing, and there were critical decisions to make along the way: Which poems to select; which order to present them in; what to call my book series, so the name would be apt for all the titles in the series; and finally, selecting the perfect picture for the cover.

Memories from Another Lifetime: Pain is the first book in the series. Since pain has always been the catalyst for my poetry, I felt it apt that the first compilation of my poems should be on this theme.

Have you ever wanted to give up and what stopped you?

As I mentioned, writing that first book was a daunting task. To keep me going, my mantra for several months was: Feel the fear and do it anyway!

The decisions I had to make were difficult. I also felt doubt along the way and asked myself if my poems were good enough to publish a book. It was one thing to appreciate my own poems as the poet, it was another to look at them with the impartial eyes of an editor and publisher. I was highly critical of them, and several poems did not make the final cut.

The process was challenging and protracted, and I was doing all of this on top of the demands of my corporate job and family obligations at home. I did feel like giving up or at least delaying it, but I decided to keep going.

I felt I owed it to my younger self and to all the wonderful people I had met on Twitter, who genuinely appreciate my poetry and who encouraged me to keep at it. Several of them have become good friends, and they continue to support and encourage me in my mission.

Just a few days short of my 55th birthday, my younger self was given her voice and introduced to the world. After a journey of 4 decades, a dream became a reality, and my book was published on 26 November 2022.

Who is the most supportive of you and your dream to be a writer?

That is a really difficult one to answer! There are three people who have played a key role for my dream as writer.

My mother Kusum Shukla, an accomplished artist and poet herself, whose love and talent for writing poetry has rubbed off on me. She has always been a role model for me in courage, strength, and grace.

My father, late Ambassador Ramesh Chandra Shukla, who believed in my poems and wanted to publish them all those years ago, when I was a young girl. I wish he could have seen my blog and my book. He would have been very happy and proud, indeed.

Finally, my sister, Vatsala Shukla, a career coach and published author herself, who gave me invaluable support and encouragement in setting up my blog and publishing my book. She has guided me as my coach through many years and has played a key role in helping me find my voice and stepping into my power again.

Anything specific you want to tell your readers?

I think I would like my readers to keep in mind my age when I wrote those poems, I was a teenager at the time. All my poems are dated.

I think it is difficult for some people to believe or understand that a very young person with limited life experience can write poems of such pain and intensity. But as I also write in the introduction to my book, I believe these poems are memories and messages from a previous life; that the initial trauma blasted open a portal to other lifetimes.

Hence the title of the series – Memories from another Lifetime.

What is the best advice given to you (book or otherwise), and by whom?

As a youngster I was always extremely nervous before my school exams. My mother would tell me, ‘Do your best, and leave the rest to God’. And it’s true – one should focus on things within one’s control and not worry about the outcome. We can waste a lot of time worrying, instead of just getting on with it.

I have passed on the same advice to our son. While he was in school I would tell him, ‘I don’t expect you to be the best, I expect you to do your best. The rest will follow’. Seeing the fine young man he is today, I know I was right!

What is your target audience and what aspect of your writing do you feel targets that audience?

I don’t have a specific target audience, although the nature and themes of most of my poems are more suited for grown-ups.

Having said that, I did a video in April 2022 on one of my latest poems, Positive Abundance, for Author’s Week at a middle school in Long Island, New York. My poem was very well received, and touched the hearts of the youngsters, who opened up and reached out to me with their own thoughts and feelings! They had felt inspired by my poem and my story and wanted to start writing themselves, and some of them in fact wrote already. I could sense their sensitive hearts and, in some cases, feelings of being lonely. This is something I could relate to from my own teen years. I have written about this wonderful experience in my blog, Reaching out to the next generation.

One of the things I realised when I started posting my poems in my blog and on Twitter, was that my poems resonate with people in different ways. It’s fascinating to see how people relate to my poems and interpret them based on their own life experiences. The themes of my poems are universal to the human experience – love, desire, heartbreak, betrayal, hurt and denial.

Did the cover evolve the same way, or did you work with someone to make it come together for you?

Choosing the cover for my book was one of the key decisions I had to make. My poetry can be very intense. I needed a unique picture for the cover for the book series. A picture that would complement the poems well. A picture as vivid, passionate, and intense as my poems.

While looking for the perfect picture, one of the paintings in our study at home caught my eye. It was a beautiful and haunting painting by my mother, the artist Kusum Shukla. I took the painting off the wall to see if there was any inscription behind it. And indeed, there was. The painting was from 1995, and my mother had named it ‘In Search of Soul’.

This was my cover!

Before I could use it, however, I needed to ask my mother’s permission. As an accomplished artist, she is very particular about her paintings and the context in which they are used. She does not take such requests lightly. I am very grateful that she was generous enough to make an exception for me, and I am proud to have her painting as the signature look of my poetry.

What are you working on now? Can we get a peek, an excerpt?

I am currently compiling my second book of poems written as a young girl, due to come out early this year. The central theme this time will be love. I’m afraid I can’t share any of the poems yet, but I invite all your readers to visit my blog, https://vanitashuklahork.com/ and sample a broad selection of my poems.

Any last words before we wrap things up?

Once again, thank you so much for the opportunity to do this interview, Mary! My mission is to make the voice of my younger self heard, and I am very grateful for your kind and generous support.

Author bio:

Vanita Shukla Hork started writing poems in 1981 at the young age of 13, following a deep personal trauma. She needed an outlet for her raw and powerful emotions, to find relief, release and ultimately, redemption.

The topics she wrote about were very personal, private, and at times, dark – unrequited love, desire, pain, betrayal, and her budding sexuality. Many of her poems also had a spiritual undertone. The maturity and depth of her poems as a young girl belied her age.

After a hiatus of almost 4 decades she started writing again, and launched her poetry blog in November 2021. Memories from another Lifetime: Pain is the first collection in a series of poems written as a young girl and was published in November 2022. Vanita’s mission is to make the voice of her younger self heard and she invites the reader to join her on this journey.

Vanita Shukla Hork lives in Denmark with her husband. They have one son.

Blog/website: https://vanitashuklahork.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/VanitaHork

Author page, Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Vanita-Shukla-Hork/e/B0BNZ5HXNC

Author page, Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/23219227.Vanita_Shukla_Hork

Book link, Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Memories-another-Lifetime-Vanita-Shukla-ebook/dp/B0BNG8SHXP