The Ritual

The Ritual
Horror mini-series set in Southwell. Six buxom slices of horrible deaths, cruel murders, giant monsters, mad sex demons and senseless violence - all drenched in a giant cauldron of blood. Only 77p each - and the first one, on your right, is FREE forever!

Saturday, 30 August 2014

The Wizard's Cauldron 100th interview special edition: Star US chickliterati, Katie Oliver

For followers of the Wizard's Cauldron, Katie Oliver needs no introduction. Most people's odds-on favourite for global romance superstardom, Katie has been writing stories ever since she was old enough to hold a pencil.  

With her star currently shining brightly in our corner of the literary firmament, I thought of no-one more appropriate than Katie to be our 100th interview.

A big fan of the old Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers romances and later, the Stephen Curtis chickflicks "Four Weddings" and "Notting Hill", Katie is known for her light touch, effervescent humour and gentle observations of the "battle of the sexes". 

As a prolific writer, Katie also is fond of long term character development, so you really get a sense of the creation of a literary world. 

I'm a big fan of the way she does business and am wishing her to the top. I picked up the Wizphone and caught up with Katie in her garden somewhere on the Eastern Seaboard.  Here's what she had to say to me.

Click HERE for Katie's First Appearance Around the Wizard's Cauldron

For the record, who is Katie Oliver?

Hmm…that’s a good question.  She’s an American author who writes romantic comedy with a distinctly British twist.  

What’s been happening in Katieoliverworld since we last spoke?

Quite a lot of stuff has happened, actually.  After over fifteen years of working, I’ve finally left my day job so I can concentrate on writing full time.  That’s something I’ve dreamed of doing for…well, for over fifteen years!

Yayyy!! How has everything gone in the last year or so?

It’s been a tumultuous year. Back in August of last year I learned that UK Carina, a digital publisher, bought three of my books; shortly afterwards, my mother died after several mini-strokes, which was stressful and totally unexpected; there were story revisions and copy edits to complete and deadlines to meet; then, beginning in January of this year, my ebooks were published in three consecutive months – all of this while I was still working full-time.  

Phew. I'm exhausted just reading that!

Looking back, I honestly don’t know how I did it all, ha ha. I got up at 4:30 AM in order to get ready for work and to Tweet with my transatlantic followers.  There were a couple of days at work when I locked myself in the bathroom and cried.  But I kept (mostly) calm and carried on…as one does.

It's all paid off, hon. I hear you've received some great news lately? 

Yes! I’m excited to announce that I’m under contract to write three more “Dating Mr Darcy” ebooks for Carina UK.  Two of the books are finished and submitted to my editor; the third is half finished and is due by early December.  

Two of the stories feature Natalie and Rhys, which I hope will make my readers very happy.

How did you originally get your job with Carina UK? 

My agent, Nikki Terpilowski, submitted my work to an editor at Carina UK who read my manuscripts and loved them…all three of them!  She offered me a contract and made me a very happy girl!  Nikki Tweeted me to say, ‘Check your email! Great news!” and sure enough, her email stated Carina UK wanted to buy all three manuscripts.  That’s the moment that writers dream about.

Your stories are set in the UK.  Has that helped or hindered your US sales?

Funnily enough, it’s helped.  My US sales ratio is about two-to-one to the UK’s.  I honestly thought it would be the reverse, with more British readers buying my books than Americans.  While I have a strong fan base in England, Scotland, and Wales, I think the fact that many readers (including myself) are hungry for British chicklit and romantic comedies has helped sell books in my own country as well.

You write full time. How does that feel? Is it like jumping off a cliff? Do you feel any differently than you did when you worked to support your writing?

It feels absolutely wonderful.  I love waking up, knowing that I can spend all morning or afternoon (or sometimes both) doing nothing but writing.  It’s certainly helped with my output.  I’m averaging five chapters a week – and I couldn’t be happier.

Of course, it’s a little scary, too.  Deadlines have to be met and so I have to get the story down on paper (or on screen), regardless of what else is going on in my own life.  I have to limit distractions like social media (not always easy to do!) and keep myself focused. Luckily, my husband and family get it – they’ve put up with my writing for so many years now, they’re used to it.

So yes, writing at home full time feels different – it’s wonderful, but I also expect more of myself. I don’t have the excuse of “I’m working, I don’t have time” any more. I have to deliver.

You are a prodigious marketeer. Any advice to new authors on the subject? What is your favourite platform?

Wow, thanks.  I’ve never been called a “prodigious marketeer” before!  I like it! 

You're welcome. I sometimes think you live in Twitter.

Ha ha ha. As far as platform, I love Twitter. I can chat with readers, bloggers, reviewers, and other writers; I can Tweet book links and promos; I can Tweet jokes or silly comments or just talk to people about the things they want to talk about (in 140 characters or less, of course).

My advice to new authors? Even if you’re not yet published, even if your book isn’t finished, start building your platform now.  Create a Twitter account.  Create a Facebook author page. Create a website and/or a blog.  There are plenty of free sites available; or if you want to own your content, you can run a self-hosted site.  I’ve had a self-hosted site on for nearly three years, since before I was published.

I would strongly recommend you blog as often as you can, preferably at least once a week.  Why?  Blogging gives your readers a sense of your writing style.  It helps to build your following.  And it will help your name come up in search engines more often, ensuring that new readers find you. 

Knowing what you know now, if Carina UK had never happened, would you self-publish?

Possibly...although I now know first-hand what a lot of work it is to put a quality ebook together, even with a publisher and a team behind me.  There’s marketing, cover design, editorial revisions, copyediting, formatting, online placement, promotions…it’s head-spinning. I have deep respect for anyone who self-publishes, because it takes a lot of effort to produce a great book.  And when you self-publish, you do most of it yourself.

It's a nightmare, Katie. But at least it's your own nightmare. I hear on the grapevine that you caused uproar with a certain word which has a different meaning in the US than it does in the UK? Care to share that with us.

LOL!  That darned Rebecca Raisin, always spilling my secrets…

She's a rascal alright...

I posted a comment to Rebecca on my Facebook page a few days ago, and I mentioned ‘getting off my fanny’ to do something I really needed to get done.  Rebecca messaged me a few minutes later, laughing hysterically.  Mystified, I 
asked what was so funny.  

She explained that in Australia (and in England too, evidently), ‘fanny’ means ‘lady bits,’ and so ‘getting off my fanny’ had a very…different meaning and…oh, crap, I’m blushing again…

Needless to say, I updated my status to explain the two very DIFFERENT meanings of ‘fanny’, and got a gazillion likes and comments.  My American friends got a real laugh out of it.

Ha ha ha. Highly amusing and bang on too. What are you reading, watching religiously, and listening to at the moment?

Right now I’m reading a hilarious book by Lisette Brody, “Molly Hacker is Too Picky,” and I absolutely love it! 

Lisette has nailed Molly’s character…she’s a smart, sassy young woman who’s not about to settle for the first guy who comes along, no matter how many people – friends and family included - try to ‘fix her up’ with Mr Right.

I’ve been watching the final episodes of “Master Chef” here in the USA and I’m riveted.  

Who will win the title of Master Chef this year?  Only 5 contestants remain. Who will emerge triumphant from the final Mystery Box and Elimination challenges dished out by Gordon Ramsey, Joe Bastianich, and Graham Elliot?

On my iPod I’ve been listening to “California Love” by Tupac and “Vogue” by Madonna, and lots of Fleetwood Mac.  

I like music that gets my fanny – erm, I mean my rear end! – to move on the treadmill.  “Love Shack,” “Groove is in the Heart,” “Life During Wartime,” anything by Talking Heads or Salt-n-Pepa or the Rolling Stones – good music always gets my heart rate up!

When are you coming over to Great Britain?  

I have tentative plans to cross the pond this coming spring and meet up with Rebecca and a few of the other lovely Carina UK writers in London.  I’d love to meet you, too.

Love to. I'll bring my Wizard's pointy hat and magic wand. Will you be eating local delicacy mushy peas when you do?

I most definitely will!  I want to try mushy peas, and fish and chips (I’ve heard the English version is far superior to the American), steak and kidney pie – all of that classic British fare.  

And I’ll want lots and lots of Hobnobs and Jaffa Cakes and Cadbury’s chocolate too, of course.

My Uncle Sid works for Cadbury. I'll bring a bucket. Katie, what are your plans for the future? When can we expect to see a new ebook?

The Dating Mr Darcy trilogy has arrived!  So if any of your readers haven’t yet met Natalie or Rhys or Dominic and Gemma, they can get all three books in one lovely package.

I’m also very excited to be featured as an Apple iBook of the Week on iTunes through 1 September.  Readers can grab Prada and Prejudice for free, and the other two books in the series are on offer at an attractive price.

Right now I’m in waiting mode.  My fourth book, Prada and Plaid, has been revised and returned and is in my editor’s capable hands.  Once the copy edits are done, I imagine this next instalment, featuring Natalie and Rhys and set in the Scottish Highlands, will appear sometime before or around Christmas, or perhaps just after.  I’ll keep everyone posted.

A second book is in the wings as well, this one featuring British rocker Dominic Heath and his tempestuous girlfriend, Gemma.  

There are a couple of new characters that I hope readers will like as much as I do, as well as plenty of action and adventure, and a really devious villain.

And finally, the book I’m writing now stars Natalie and Rhys once again, this time in Manhattan.  Rhys is opening the first Dashwood & James store in America. There are misunderstandings and stolen jewels and…well, it promises to be a lot of fun.

I'm sure it will be. Katie, it's been an absolute pleasure once again and I am sure Wizardwatchers around the world will join me in wishing you the best of luck.

Thank you so much for your wonderful support, Wiz. You’re terrific.



Book Links:

Dating Mr Darcy Trilogy – Amazon US

Amazon UK

Prada and Prejudice–

Love & Liability-

Mansfield Lark –

 Dating Mr Darcy Trilogy-

The perfect trilogy for Austen-and-shopping-mad fans! Give in to your love of scandal and Prada in this glamorous collection of the Dating Mr Darcy trilogy!

Here's to love and all its complications...

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Angelic Wendy Steele makes a Wrathful comeback...around the Cauldron

Today, around the Cauldron, it is my pleasure to invite Wendy Steele, who many of you will know, love, or at least remember from the days when Facebook fulfilled an incredibly useful function for Independent Authors.  

Wendy was the first author I ever interviewed and it was she who gave me the idea for the dedicated author interview blog, and also, the ill fated, but once massively successful, Independent Paperback Gift Shop on Facebook. She's one of my favourite people in Indielit.

Back in the day, I met at least twenty people I am still in contact with through Wendy's regular Share-Fests. Nowadays, such an endeavour would cause a ban, as the teeth of the Wall Street tiger sharks take ever more vicious bites at the concept of accessible social networking.  

Not that this would ever stop Wendy. A popular author of occult fiction, pagan enthusiast, teacher, dancer and, most recently, house restorer, I picked up the Wizphone andinterrupted Wendy's incredibly busy schedule somewhere in rainy, windswept, Wales. Here's what she had to say.

The first EVER Wizard's Cauldron Interview - with Wendy Steele

You knew I would do it, Wendy :D - Ed!

Tell us about yourself, Wendy.  What have you been up to in the past year? We thought you’d got lost!
Not lost, just moved to another country! I've been dreaming of starting a new life in Wales for more than ten years now but the children and their education had to come first. Once all three were through school and university and all had jobs, it was time to move.

Not a year! I lived in a tent for 6 weeks with my partner and three cats. ... then almost 5 weeks in a small caravan. Once the house purchase went through, we painted one room white and we've been living in that room for 9 months while we attempt to renovate the house.  We've added a bathroom, relined the chimneys and installed two wood burners, chipped concrete off the walls and begun to re-mortar with lime. 

We are now waiting...for permission to remove the old tin roof over the disintegrating thatch and re-thatch the house. We've installed a new septic tank so, once we have permission for the roof, we should be watertight and hygienic. Tent life was windy! After 3 days and nights of wind and rain in the tent, we decided to buy the caravan. Tent life is like living inside a flag when the wind blows...noisy, really noisy!

Where did you write? 
I attempted to write in the tent but with little success...managed a few blog posts but the internet connection via the car battery was a tad unreliable. 

That's dedication!

Destiny of Angels was the first Indie book I noticed back in 2012. How did it do? Were you pleased with the response? Did the criticism you received, both positive and negative, help you evolve as an author?
It went fairly well but my inexperience at marketing really showed. I met some lovely people when I ran ***The Amazing Karmic Sharefest*** but sharing for others didn't do much for my book sales.

The reviews are still coming in for Destiny of Angels but my Big Birthday Promo where I gave away thousands of books evoked not one single review...I was disappointed with that, but that's just me...if someone gives me something for free, I want to give something back in return so I always review.
My second novel was edited even more than Destiny of Angels and by writing more, I'm definitely a more accomplished writer.

How long did it take you to write your d├ębut novel? Were you surprised at this? Was it hard work or did it come easy to you?

From conception to publication was about 18 months. 'Destiny' was written in 9 months. Once focussed and with the time to write, it was easy..... that was a lovely surprise. Editing was hard...getting it perfect for publication was even harder. 'Wrath' took over a year to write.

Tell us about Wrath of Angels?
It's the second book in the Lilith Trilogy. Although all the characters grow through the book, it's more about Angel's journey and the developing of her magic. Not only are Angel's strengths portrayed but her human failings too. The book is a homage to the power of our emotions and how we can choose to base our lives around anger or love. There's a lot more magical path workings in the second book and I learned so much by researching them.

BUY exciting Occult Fiction Thriller "Wrath of Angels" HERE

Snappy dialogue, intricate plot or detailed place descriptions? Tell your readers what they can expect from a Wendy Steele book in the future?

As a visual learner, I'm also a visual writer. Snappy dialogue and detailed place description, yes, but my plots aren't intricate; it's the characters and their interaction with each other that weave the intricacies of the story.

What has changed in Indie since you got back? Anything? What are your marketing plans?
Everything has changed! While in my tent, I read and reviewed over 20 books and I'm continuing to do this as a way to broaden my reading genres but also to read what else is 'out there'. There are even more badly written, badly edited books available and it makes it even harder to market ones own work. 


Facebook is no longer a great help to letting people know what you're writing or promoting...unless you pay and even then, who knows what difference it will make so I'm employing a new strategy. I'm working with just three groups on Facebook and have begun to Tweet again. I'm also marketing the Lilith Trilogy as paranormal/occult fiction, attempting to create a fan base of readers who enjoy this genre.

Boo Greedy Facebook!! How does Wendy Steele unwind away from the typewriter?

ATS® Belly Dance is my other passion next to writing. I've recently started teaching two beginners classes here in Wales and I love it, introducing non dancers to a unique dance form that inspires me so much. 

ATS® is a dance language, enabling dancers from all over the world to dance together, even if they can't speak the same language. I work hard writing lesson plans and supporting my dancers but it's a labour of love.  

I'm booked to teach a workshop at the Cardigan Belly Dance Festival in August and I get a real buzz from introducing non dancers to the unique dance style that I love. I love visiting Essex and dancing with my tribal sisters. My dance teacher Deana is a great source of inspiration to me.

Shetland Ponies wearing cardigans - will they belly dance at
the festival?
I'm reading more widely since my birthday gift of a kindle from my children so, I'm devouring books at the moment, exploring genres I might previously have avoided.

Where before I had to travel to experience the wonders of nature, I've only to step out of my front door to be thrilled by red kites circling overhead, swallows diving between the ash saplings and insects busy and abundant.

What five books would you take with you on a year's voyage around the world? And with your first choice, why?

Two years ago, I chose 5 books and my choice would be very similar. Having reread Lord of the Rings (it's amazing how much time there is to read when you're sitting in a field!), I'd swap it for Magic of Qabalah by Kala Trobe. 

My fascination and understanding of this magical tool that helps us understand the workings of our mind in the context of our place in the universe, has grown so, a year would give me time to digest the more complex issues and work on path workings of my own.

Celebrate the Earth – Laurie Cabot. 'Celebrate the Earth' was the first book that introduced me to 'the Wheel of the Year'. I have read and collected many others on the same subject but I always refer to 'Celebrate the Earth'. While travelling around the world, I would feel connected to the earth and the seasons of home and know that my journey would take me back there.

The Complete Works of Shakespeare (because I've explored so little)

All the books that include Granny Weatherwax – Terry Pratchett

E Sea Priestess – Dion Fortune (I'd take Moon Magic too if you'd let me)

Invite a writer, an actor and a figure from history to dinner. And what culinary delight would you supply?
Whoever I invited would have to enjoy vegetarian food! As I love sharing, I'd prepare a feast of Indian dishes, tarka dahl, chana, spiced potatoes, balti vegetables, rice and onion bhajis and it would be fun to share it with Eddie Izzard

(another great friend of the Wizard's Cauldron - Ed!) Mary Ann Bernal 

and Cleopatra...

all three are well-traveled and would have wonderful stories to tell.

What are your current projects and what are your plans?
I'm currently writing the third book in the Lilith Trilogy, Angels and Demons. The second book, 'Wrath of Angels', was published in June 2014...such an exciting moment when that copy arrives in the post!

'Wendy Woo's Year – A Pocketful of Smiles – 101 ideas for a happy year and a happy you' was published in November 2012 and I'm working to get this book into paperback.

If you would like to find out more about how I've been following my dream, do drop into my blog for a cuppa and a read at

Wendy, it's been an absolute pleasure to speak to you again - 98 interviews later! - and I am sure Wizardwatchers will join me in wishing you the very best of luck in the coming year, not only with your novel, but with your house!

Wiz, it's been a pleasure. Thank you!



Author pages:

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Brenda Perlin chats about anti-bullying novella Ty the Bull...around the Cauldron!

I'd like to welcome back terrific faction author, Brenda Perlin, a massive friend of the Wizard's Cauldron, who is going to talk about her anti-bullying tome "Ty The Bull, written in conjunction with Rex Baughman and Kim Emerson Mutch. 

For those of you joining us for the first time, Brenda is well known for her "fictionalised" retelling of the demise of her marriage and her subsequent rebirth. Well reviewed and written in a hard, arid, almost journalistic style, her work is worth downloading.

Read Brenda Perlin's second time around the Cauldron HERE

Here's what Brenda - who really IS from Orange County! -said to me on the Wizphone as she wandered the orange groves...

So Brenda, what is Ty The Bull about?

Ty the Bull is about bullies and divorce. Kid’s can be so cruel to each other. Bullying has been going on forever but now it is better in some ways because now it is more talked about.

Fight Club. In one interpretation, a commentary
on masculinity, bullying and handling divorce

This ten year old Ty has to deal with kids at school who turn on him as the wind blows. If things are not bad enough his parents have split up and he feels alone. Ty feels lonely. He doesn’t feel understood and doesn’t get the attention he needs. 

What gave you the idea?

It was ten year old Rex that inspired me to write this story. He is my boyfriend’s grandson who has been having a hard time since the divorce and school change.

Rex Baughman - the inspiration for Ty The Bull

Is it a true story? Or have you inculcated Rex into your mysterious world of “faction”?

Kim Mutch Emerson
Haha. Funny you should ask. All the faction, I wrote. Kim Mutch Emerson came in and added her fiction. She prettified the story and gave Ty’s story instant inspiration, something that was surely missing. 

Is Peacock a real character?

Peacock belongs to Kim and I believe he will make an appearance in some of her other projects. He is a great character. We all need a Peacock of our own. Some never meet anyone who is so understanding and supportive. It sure would make a difference.

Book Trailer Ty The Bull

Co-writing is a nightmare, as far as I can see. How did you and Rex work together? 

It was the three of us. I did a lot of “interviews” with Rex. I wanted to use his wordage. After the story was laid out Kim came in and did her magic. It has been a great collaboration because her heart is in it as much as mine.

Top five wrist-slasher and classic case of co-writing egoquake
cooly avoided by Brenda, Rex and Kim. 

Would Rex like to be a scribbler? 

You mean an artist? I had to think about that Mark. Haha. I think he would love to be a paid artist. Comes pretty easy to him. After doing Ty the Bull and selling some of his rubber loom bracelets he likes the idea of starting his own business. He says he wants to be a business owner. He is pretty darn cute. He sees dollar signs.

Were you bullied at school? Is this partly some form of subconscious redemption?

Maybe there is some redemption in this story. All my books have to do with outcasts and people who are misunderstood because I can relate to that feeling. Ever since I was young I never felt like I fit in and even when I was accepted I still couldn’t relate to my peers.

Bullying Story from Ultra Violence - Harrowing Read

What have you been up to since Burnt Promises? A little bird tells me you are writing a work of fiction, rather than faction. Is this true, or have I been cheekily misinformed?

Fiction? Are you serious? Not me. I have so little imagination. Oh gosh NO! I am working on the third book in the Brooklyn and Bo Chronicles called Fractured Vows (upbeat, right?) which is based on my boyfriend's life. 
Call it fiction by changing names, places and dates. It is as close to faction as you can get. I like to tell it as it is and that is what I do.

Is Kindle Unlimited the end for the Indie author on Amazon?

It’s not looking good for us but I think this has been happening before Kindle Unlimited ever came about. 

The Guardian's Take on Kindle Unlimited

The market is flooded and we are okay with giving our work away for free. There is something so wrong about that. Also, there are some pretty bad books out there that are un-edited and rough giving us all a bad name.

Personally, Brenda, I think its all over for us tiny Indies. If readers pay 9.99 each month for a netflix style service supplying ANY book you want, they are going to purchase books from the big names. Brand books. Customer buying decisions will be subject to the misapprehension of brand value. Minnows will all get lost in the stream. And how many books will readers actually complete? I hope I am wrong, Bren. I have often suspected that the democracy and literary freedom represented by Amazon Kindle was always going to prove an illusion. Hey ho! Bit of politics, Brenda, what was the most recent book you consumed?

The Night Porter comes to mind. You wrote a very entertaining book Mark. Such a fun escape.

That's very nice of you Brenda! What about Rex? What has he been watching, reading and listening to? Is everything going better for him at school?

Rex is doing better. For some reason he is now interested in pleasing his teachers and is getting good grades. 

It’s hard to get kids to read these days. I think he only reads what he has to. Like many kids, he spends far too much time on the computer playing silly games and watching Youtube videos. It’s hard for parents to pull it in. They see EVERYTHING!

I often wonder whether I would read like I did had I been faced with FIFA 14 or Rage when I was a kid. Finally, what do the legion of Brenda Perlin’s fans have to look forward to in the coming year

Legion? I believe you are kissing up to me? Not that I have a problem with that. ;-)

Ha ha. Would I do something like that, Bren?

I believe you would! So, other than working on Fractured Vows, I am also writing another short story just to make myself happy. I am going with my passion here.

It will be called Alex the Mutt. This is pure faction. Even the names are untouched. I really want to spread the word regarding how wrong it is to go to a breeder or pet store. There are so many dogs in shelters that need homes. 

This story is a love story to my first dog Alex. I always said she was the love of my life and I still feel that to this day. I hope this story will be informative and will make people think twice before ordering a pup

Brenda, once again it's been a pleasure to see you around the Cauldron. I wish you the best of luck with Ty the Bull and - I'm looking forward to this! - Fractured Vows.

Thank you so much for playing with me today. You are such a gracious host. Always fun to hang around the wizard. xx

84 5* reviews. US customers can buy Ty The Bull HERE!

19 5* reviews UK customers can buy Ty The Bull here!

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