Sagas: keeping it in the family

I count myself very fortunate to have such wonderful writing friends as Thorne Moore, whose blog post this is, and Judith Barrow, another blogger about books. Thorne has posted her about family dramas which we’ve all exploited by writing sagas about them.

Thorne Moore

I was slightly surprised when my first novel, A Time For Silence, was classified on Amazon as a family saga. My publisher had told me it was crime fiction and I had thought of it as a simple mystery. Besides, it was a single book and I never expected to add to the series. Surely a family saga has to fill half a shelf on the bookcase, like the Forsyte Saga or the Poldark novels.

But of course it doesn’t. A family saga follows the affairs of members of a family through a period of time and that’s it. It can be one volume or a hundred. It can involve crime, like mine. It can focus on family relationships or it can use the family’s affairs as a means of reflecting changes and events in the world beyond. In fact a family is a perfect vehicle for just about…

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The end of an era

It is with regret that I’m announcing my retirement from Gower Serenity. I’ve reached a certain age! I’m loving writing my books ( so I’m making the transition to being a full-time writer.

Thank you to each and every client who’s shared their lives with me. I hope that you have benefitted from Nature’s bounty through the medium of the wonderful herbs and essential oils we have shared together.

May love and light go with you in your next adventures.

Alex Martin

Unsolved and Unexplained: A Guest Post by Thorne Moore, author of Shadows

Linda's Book Bag


I’m delighted to welcome Thorne Moore, author of Shadows, to Linda’s Book Bag today. I adore the atmospheric cover of Shadows and although I haven’t had time to read it yet, I was so pleased when Thorne agreed to come on the blog and tell me a bit about it.

Shadows was published on 14th June 2017 by Endeavour Press and is available for purchase in e-book here.



Kate Lawrence can sense the shadow of violent death, past and present.

In her struggle to cope with her unwelcome gift, she has frozen people out of her life. Her marriage is on the rocks, her career is in chaos and she urgently needs to get a grip.

So she decides to start again, by joining her effervescent cousin Sylvia and partner Michael in their mission to restore and revitalise Llys y Garn, an old mansion in the wilds…

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The new me, no, the old me renewed!

Okay, I admit it, I lost my way. Big time. Blame the menopause but mostly blame LIFE! I’ve been busy writing novels. This entails sitting at my desk for days at a time, nights too if the muse allows. Wonderful exercise for the brain, not so good for the body.

Embarrassing symptoms lead me to take Ovestin – the oestrogen cream for ‘down below’. It worked for a time but then I started to experience severe heart burn. My digestion has always been crap but controllable with my beloved herbs. Distracted by book sales, promotions and creation, I ignored it and eventually succumbed during an intensely busy personal phase, to taking Oesomeprazole.

It worked. Such a relief! I could eat what I liked, drink what I liked and forget about digestion. Not a problem. So I did just that during the next six to nine months, while a relative needed nursing, a book needed finishing to a deadline and I got involved in an exciting personal project with my dear spouse in France. Life was full on and I was full too, stuffed with bread, wine, cheese, chocolate – to  fuel the vast energy stores needed to juggle all the plates. And I grew. Not in a deeply spiritual way – I just grew. About a stone and a half, most of it around the belly.

Then, a pause in the hectic schedule broke through.  A new dawn. As part of my CPD programme (continuing professional development that all herbalists must do to retain their practising license) I attended a Seminar run by NIMH (National Institute of Medical Herbalists) on PPI’s (Protein Pump Inhibitors) – the generic name for Oesomeprazole and her sisters Lanzaprazole, Omeprazole etc. This drug is dished out to millions of people worldwide for indigestion and heartburn issues and, let’s not forget, it works.

What I learned under the tutelage of Richard Adams, a fellow of NIMH, was a revelation. Protein Pumps exist in every cell. In the stomach they produce hydrochloric acid to disinfect our food and kill off any bugs. We need an acid stomach. What Richard suggested was that far from less acid production, we actually need more. PPI’s reduce acid production by 90%. They do indeed inhibit these protein pumps, and their host cells then die off. What I didn’t know was that protein pumps exist in all cells of the body. No wonder I was so tired and every time I looked in the mirror I looked older. (In fact, what really freaked me out was I saw my mother, an alcoholic who suffered from dementia – not a good look – looking back at me. The edges of my face had blurred, losing definition; my skin was dry, growing wrinkles at an alarming rate and keeping me awake at night because it was so itchy.) What I’d been experiencing was cell death and my body was working overtime to produce new, replacement cells. Exhausting.

I also learned that PPI’s have undergone extensive research, mostly in the States by the medical profession, and are linked to a 20% increase in MI’s (myocardial infarction or heart attack), sclerotic arteries leading to dementia (my personal nightmare scenario), joint pain and possibly even cancer. Quite motivating.

The regime I’m now following is working, and it’s been less than a week. Although I was only taking half a 20mg tablet of Oesomeprazole every day, I felt lousy. Since the seminar on Saturday, I’ve taken none. I’ve added calendula tincture to my herbal formula of milk thistle, withania, camomile, rosemary, red clover, turmeric, sarsaparilla, nettle, agnus castus vitex, leonorus, hawthorn and verbena. Before bedtime I take a heaped teaspoon of slippery elm in water to heal my sore oesophagus. Before each meal I chew 2 deglycyrrhized (to avoid a raise in BP) lozenges of liquorice enzyme. I also am using “Wellsprings Serenity” Cream 20-1 transdermal progesterone/oestrogen cream day and night.

On top of that natural medicine I have changed my diet to a Paleo one. No carbs, lots of vegetables, natural oils and grass-fed meat, free range eggs.

This new approach has been transformational. I woke up this morning with tons more energy, happy mood (I’ve been very, very grumpy), a clear head, no heartburn, no joint swelling as before, and already I’ve lost 5 lbs in weight. My stomach is flatter (some way to go, it has to be said) and my breasts have reduced in size and tenderness. My libido is clawing its way back and my husband’s smile has returned.

Drugs have their place and I wouldn’t want to be in a world without them but they are strong stuff and should be kept in reserve for those times when they are life saving. Food, herbs and a natural approach really do work better. I wish I hadn’t wasted time and energy forgetting that.

Talking to Sally Spedding about “Cold Remains”

Fascinating interview between two gifted writers,both adept at excavating the human, flawed, psyche.

My Place for Mystery

Chilling suspense thrillers seem to be increasingly popular among readers of crime fiction.  They move in a world that is a far cry from the novels that introduced me to murder mysteries many years ago, the novels of Dorothy L. Sayers, for example, with her genteel detective, Lord Peter Wimsey.

A straw in the wind: I recently read in the Harrowgate International Festival blog that chilling suspense thrillers lead the way in the 2012 Shortlist just announced for  Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year award: “One of the most prestigious crime writing prizes in the country [UK], the 2012 short list reflects the ever increasing popularity of psychological and suspense-driven thrillers.”

I have often in this blog raised the question of why people read quite horrific thrillers for pleasure, but have not managed to provide answers to the question. After reviewing the sixth chiller thriller of the British…

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An Interview with Alex Martin, author of The Rose Trail

Great to chat with book blogger extraordinaire, Linda Hill.

Linda's Book Bag


I was lucky enough to win a copy of The Rose Trail by Alex Martin recently and so I decided to ask Alex if she would mind being interviewed for Linda’s Book Bag. Luckily she agreed. The Rose Trail was published on 11th December 2016 and is available for purchase in e-book and paperback here.

The Rose Trail


Is it chance that brings Fay and Persephone together?
Or is it the restless and malevolent spirit who stalks them both?
Once rivals, they must now unite if they are to survive the mysterious trail of roses they are forced to follow into a dangerous, war torn past.

The Rose Trail is a timeslip novel set in both the present day and during the English Civil War. The complex story weaves through both eras with a supernatural thread.

An Interview with Alex Martin

Hi Alex. Thank you so much for…

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My Review of The Rose Trail by Alex Martin

Thrilled with this review of The Rose Trail by busy book blogger extraordinaire, Judith Barrow.

Judith Barrow


The Blurb:

Is it chance that brings Fay and Persephone together?
Or is it the restless and malevolent spirit who stalks them both?
Once rivals, they must now unite if they are to survive the mysterious trail of roses they are forced to follow into a dangerous, war torn past.

The Rose Trail is a time slip novel set in both the present day and during the English Civil War. The complex story weaves through both eras with a supernatural thread.

My Review:

Way back in 2015, I interviewed Alex Martin after I’d read her first books: And then again in 2016,   (when she was part of the Tenby book fair: now evolved into the Narberth Book Fair: ( ). I have enjoyed all her work and I must admit  I was looking forward to reading The Rose Trail, expecting the same genre.

 It’s not! But…

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