Welcome to Day 2 of the “NO PEDIGREE” Blog Tour! @NonnieJules #RRBC #RWISA @4WillsPub

Today, I’m honoured to host Author, Nonnie Jules, the founder a president of two international literary communities: Rave Reviews Book Club and Rave Writers International Society of Authors. Nonnie is touring with her new book, “No Pedigree”, a short story that you won’t soon forget! Take it away, Nonnie!

Nonnie Jules Logo

Hi, and thanks for dropping in on Day 2 of my NO PEDIGREE blog tour! I’m so grateful to John for sharing his space with me today as I share a little of a historical topic that I mentioned in the book. Since John is a historian, I could think of no better place to share this.


In the 1st chapter of NO PEDIGREE, I reference a historical event now known as the TULSA RACE MASSACRE (also known as Tulsa Race Riot, Greenwood Massacre or the Black Wall Street Massacre).

To give readers a bit of clarity as to how strongly my main character, Baylee, felt about her new environment, I had to reference an event that would lend credibility to those feelings. Although I didn’t go past a mere mention of the event, I felt that if readers were as curious as I am when I happen upon such references, they would do their own research. For you, here’s the back story…

On May 31st and June 1st, a mob of white residents of the Greenwood District in Tulsa, OK, attacked a group of black residents and businesses. The massacre, which began over Memorial Day weekend in 1921, stemmed from the arrest of 19-yr-old Dick Rowland, a black shoe shiner, accused of assaulting 17-yr-old Sarah Page, a white elevator operator in the Drexel Building on May 30th.

Rowland was well-known among attorneys and other legal professionals within the city because of his profession as a shoe shiner. Some witnesses later recounted hearing several attorneys defend Rowland in their conversations with one another. One of the men was quoted as saying, “Why, I know that boy, and have known him a good while. That’s not in him.”

While Rowland was in custody, a group of angry whites gathered outside the courthouse, where he had been moved for his safety. Rumors quickly spread throughout the black community that he had been lynched, prompting some members of the black community to swarm the area outside the courthouse, weapons in hand. Shots rang out and, in the end, 12 were killed – 10 whites and 2 blacks.

That night and the next morning, mobs of angry whites rushed through the black neighborhoods killing men and burning and looting homes and businesses. This attack was carried out from the ground and via private aircraft, destroying over 35 blocks in that district, which at the time was the wealthiest black community in the U.S. – also known to many as the “Black Wall Street.”

It wasn’t until around noon the next day that the troops from the Oklahoma National Guard were able to get control of the situation by declaring martial law. But, in that short span of time, in less than 24 hours, 10,000 black people were left homeless and property damage was listed at more than $1.5 million in real estate and $750,000 in personal property. (Equivalent to $32.25 million in 2019).

Many of the survivors of that massacre (not sure if this would have been more blacks or more whites or a mix of both) left Tulsa. Black and white residents who remained, never spoke of this horrid event and it was largely omitted from local, state and national histories.

The charges against Dick Rowland were dismissed at the end of September 1921. Once he was exonerated, he immediately left Tulsa, moving to Kansas. Little else is publicly known about the remainder of his life.

Seventy-five years after the massacre (in 1996), a bipartisan group in the state legislature authorized the formation of the Oklahoma Commission to Study the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 (later renamed in November of 2018, the Oklahoma Commission to Study the Tulsa Race Massacre), established to specifically investigate events, interview survivors, hear testimony from the public and prepare a report of events. Through this process, the group also aimed to educate the public about the event.

In 2001, the Commission published its findings which stated that the city had conspired with the mob of white citizens against black citizens. The report also recommended reparations to the survivors and their descendants. The state passed legislation to establish scholarships for descendants of survivors, encourage the economic development of Greenwood and develop a memorial park in Tulsa to honor the massacre victims. The park was dedicated in October of 2010 and named the JOHN HOPE FRANKLIN RECONCILIATION Park, in honor of one of the survivors who became a leading scholar of black history. John Franklin died shortly after the dedication of the park.

“We can tell the nation the story of a whole community decimated by hate but rebuilt by a community full of hope,” Tulsa Mayor, Dewey Bartlett said.

Since I am a lover of history myself, I could spend days on John’s blog going on and on about this event, but, I won’t (because I’m pretty sure eventually he’d kick me off). I referenced this event in NO PEDIGREE because I wanted readers to know the atmosphere that Baylee was in – an atmosphere that hadn’t changed much in over 90 years.

I’d like to end this post by sharing that just recently (in 2020) the massacre became part of the Oklahoma school curriculum!

Thanks for spending time here with me today, and John, I have no words to thank you for allowing me this time. My little THANK YOU will have to suffice.

Sources: Wikipedia and TulsaWorld.com

Book Cover for "No Pedigree"


Growing up on the wrong side of the tracks, Baylee never quite fit in… anywhere. She was taunted and teased because her clothes had no designer labels, and spit upon because her only pair of shoes had holes in the bottom. The butt of many jokes, she was excluded from all social activities, sneered at by the parents of her peers after school as she waited for the bus, watching them drive away in their fancy cars; assaulted in the most unthinkable fashion.

Having been born to a white father and a black native American mother didn’t make things any easier. In fact, that circumstance made her life ten times harder – until the day she made them all stand up, take notice, and regret every ugly word and deed they had inflicted upon her.


Hi, I’m Nonnie JulesPresident & Founder of RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB {RRBC} and RAVE WRITERS – INT’L SOCIETY OF AUTHORS {RWISA}. As a writer who values the (polished) written word, it is my mission to help my fellow authors understand that their reputations as writers should be treated as rare treasure and that the only way to be taken seriously in this business, is to ensure that your writing (no matter the forum) is impeccably written and well-edited. If not, you’re just another “Joe” with a pen who was the first to raise his hand when Amazon asked, “Hey, any old Joe out there wanna publish a book? Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be good and there’s absolutely no hard work involved.”

FYI: If you don’t care what you put out into the world, you’re just a laughingstock in the literary community … and your name is “Joe.”


Connect with Nonnie via Twitter: @nonniejules

To purchase your own copy of NO PEDIGREE, https://www.amazon.com/NO-PEDIGREE-Really-Short-Story-ebook/dp/B083SB1RMN/

To learn more about Nonnie and how to connect with her, please drop in on her RRBC Author Page!


GIVEAWAYS: (2) e-book copies of NO PEDIGREE, (2) $5 Amazon gift cards & (1) 3-Day Weekend blog tour! You must leave a comment on this page and also the author’s 4WillsPub author page to be entered into the drawing.



To follow along with the rest of the NO PEDIGREE blog tour, visit the author’s tour page.

If you’d like to schedule your own 4WillsPub tour to promote your books in a similar fashion, click HERE.

Welcome to Day 2 of the “WHILE THE BOMBS FELL” Blog Tour! @bakeandwrite @4WillsPub #RRBC

Book cover for While The Bombs Fell

It’s my pleasure to host colleague and fellow member of Rave Reviews Book Club, Robbie Cheadle, to our Fiora Books site today. Please support this gifted author.

The benefits of living on a farm during the war

While the bombs fell is a collaboration between my mother, Elsie Hancy Eaton, and me and tells a fictionalized account of her life as a small girl growing up in the small English town of Bungay, Suffolk during World War II.

Life for the children of a farmer in England during the war brought a lot of benefits compared to city and other children.

The greatest good fortune for my mother and her family was that, as a farmer, their father was exempt from fighting in the war. Farmers, like firefighters, medical practitioners and policemen, were considered to provide an essential service to the nation. All the other men in the town, between the ages of eighteen and forty-one years old, were obliged to enlist in the army and their families were left to fend for themselves while they were away.

Another advantage of living on a dairy farm was that the family suffered no shortage of milk. As an agricultural worker doing a heavy manual job, my grandfather also received extra cheese rations, although other luxuries like butter were in short supply.

The children were also able to supplement their diet with other food sources such as the occasional egg from a swan and eels from the river as per the following extract:

“After tea, Wendy set a fishing line which she left overnight. She was excellent at this and frequently caught an eel or two. She dug for worms in the kitchen garden to bait the line.

The green-brown eels looked like snakes, but they tasted delicious, cooked in milk and water in a frying pan and flavoured with pepper.

Elsie hoped that Wendy would catch some eels for them to eat. In the morning, Wendy would run down to the river to see what she had caught.”

Their father was also able to supplement their table with game, especially rabbits, which often came onto his land. My grandmother would make a rabbit stew to feed her large family of two adults and six children and a baby.

The following extract explains how my grandmother made her rabbit stews:

“She cut the rabbit into joints using her knife and put it to soak in a bowl of cold water with one

tablespoon of vinegar. After thirty minutes she removed the pieces from the water and dried them well with a cloth.

Mother mixed a small amount of flour with salt and pepper and coated every piece of the rabbit with the mixture. In a large pot on the paraffin heater, she heated a small amount of lard, a white animal fat, and the rinds of two rashers of bacon, when available. She then added the coated rabbit joints and cooked them for about ten minutes until they were golden brown. The meat in the pot sizzled and fried, and it smelled good.

Mother removed the rabbit from the pot and added two rashers of chopped bacon, if she could get it, as well as two medium onions, cut into slices, and three medium carrots, chopped into pieces. After she sautéed the vegetables and bacon for approximately five minutes, she returned the rabbit to the pot. She added water and one grated apple. Wendy would help Mother stir the liquid as it came to the boil and thickened slightly. Finally, Mother added gravy salts and whole peeled potatoes and allowed the stew in the pot to simmer for about three hours until lunchtime. The family heartily appreciated rabbit stew as a mid-day meal.”

From both a family and food, perspective, my mother and her siblings were a lot more fortunate than many other children, a lot of whom were evacuated from London during the blitz and had to live with strangers, not all of whom treated them well.

Book cover for While The Bombs Fell


What was it like for children growing up in rural Suffolk during World War 2?

Elsie and her family live in a small double-storey cottage in Bungay, Suffolk. Every night she lies awake listening anxiously for the sound of the German bomber planes. Often they come and the air raid siren sounds signalling that the family must leave their beds and venture out to the air-raid shelter in the garden.

Despite the war raging across the English channel, daily life continues with its highlights, such as Christmas and the traditional Boxing Day fox hunt, and its wary moments when Elsie learns the stories of Jack Frost and the ghostly and terrifying Black Shuck that haunts the coastline and countryside of East Anglia.

Includes some authentic World War 2 recipes.

Portrait of Author, Robbie Cheadle


Hello, my name is Robbie, short for Roberta. I am an author with six published children’s picture books in the Sir Chocolate books series for children aged 2 to 9 years old (co-authored with my son, Michael Cheadle), one published middle-grade book in the Silly Willy series and one published preteen/young adult fictionalised biography about my mother’s life as a young girl growing up in an English town in Suffolk during World War II called While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with my mother, Elsie Hancy Eaton). All of my children’s books are written under Robbie Cheadle and are published by TSL Publications.

I also have a book of poetry called Open a new door, with fellow South African poet, Kim Blades.

I have recently branched into adult and young adult horror and supernatural writing and, in order to clearly differential my children’s books from my adult writing, I plan to publish these books under Roberta Eaton Cheadle. My first supernatural book published in that name, Through the Nethergate, is now available.

I have participated in a number of anthologies:

  • Two short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Dark Visions, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre under Robbie Cheadle;
  • Three short stories in Death Among Us, an anthology of murder mystery stories, edited by Stephen Bentley under Robbie Cheadle;
  • Three short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Nightmareland, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre under Robbie Cheadle; and
  • Two short stories in Whispers of the Past, an anthology of paranormal stories, edited by Kaye Lynne Booth under Roberta Eaton Cheadle.

Wall poster of the book cover While The Bombs Fell


Robbie Cheadle











Roberta Eaton Cheadle












TSL Publications:






Thank you for supporting this author and her tour.  To follow along with the rest of the tour, please drop in on this author’s 4WillsPub tour page. 
If you’d like to schedule your own 4WillsPub blog tour to promote your book(s), you may do so by clicking HERE.

Welcome to Day 4 of the #RWISA “REVOLUTION” Blog Tour! #RRBC @PeggyHattendorf #RWISARevolutionTour

RWISA Tour Banner

Welcome to Day 4 of the RWISA “REVOLUTION” Blog Tour! We’d like to introduce you to an amazing supporter and RWISA member, Author, Peggy Hattendorf.

We ask that you click on the author’s RWISA Profile below and visit all of her profile pages – some offering more insight into the member and others showcasing the author’s talent.

Lastly, we ask that you support this member as well as the host of this blog, by sharing this page and the author’s profile pages across all your social media platforms.

RWISA Profile

What Peggy has to say about RWISA

Peggy Hattendorf's RWISA Revolution Banner

Peggy has a book she’d like to introduce you to:


Book Cover for "Son of My Father".

Now, we’d like to give you a chance at some of this awesome promotion for yourself!

Have you written that book or short story you want the whole world to know about? Are you looking for a great way to promote your creative endeavours? Perhaps you’re seeking to add some prestige to your body of work! If this sounds like you, we invite you to come on over to RAVE WRITERS – INT’L SOCIETY OF AUTHORS, otherwise known as RWISA.

At RWISA, we invite and accept into membership only the very best writers the Indie community has to offer.

If your work is exemplary and speaks for itself, stop by the RWISA website today at RaveWriters.wordpress.com and find out how you can submit your sample of writing for consideration.

We’re an exclusive bunch but we’d love to have you join us!

NOTE: If you’re looking to improve your writing while taking another route to membership into RWISA, while you’re at the site, visit RWISA UNIVERSITY!

Thanks for dropping by and don’t forget to leave us a comment and a “LIKE” below!


Book Cover - Journey to the Rainbow's End by Forrest Stepnowski

It is my pleasure to host a special member of Rave Reviews Book Club today. Forrest Stepnowski has been selected as this month’s “Spotlight” Author – a well-deserved honour!

Author “Q & A” 

What inspires you to write?

Answer: One of the things that pushes me to write is when readers email me, or instant message me, to thank me for making them feel less alone. Loneliness is a double edge sword for many. For some, a life of a hermit can be positive one. They have time to heal from past hurts and heart breaks. They become confident within their soul and are able to successfully figure out what it is they want in the world. For others, loneliness can bring depression and disdain for the world. We are all very different. We think, desire, and process things differently. I fully admit I am a unique individual who many have a hard time relating too. When I make that connection with others through my performance life, or my writing, it empowers me to keep going. We have all experience trauma in one way or another in our lives, this is just one way I am able to cope and become a better person.


Social Media Links:

Website/Blog: https://www.forresttakesajourney.press/

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/frstepnowski

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/forreststepnowski


Amazon Purchase Links:


Journey to the Rainbow’s End: A Drag Queen’s Odyssey (Available on Kindle and Paperback)



Headshot of Author, Forrest Stepnowski

Forrest Robert Stepnowski is an advocate, writer, social worker, and performance artist in the Pacific Northwest. He has been writing poetic works and prose for most of his life. He realized how important it would be to share his work with others, who may have tread similar paths of self-hate, self-deprecation, and self-loathing, in the hopes that they find they weren’t alone. Helping others who have been deemed as “different” because of varying sexual orientations or identities to realize that they are not deviants nor are the “against human nature” has always been of grave importance to him. He wants this group of beautiful people to know they are part of a collective, on an island where being different is embraced and accepted.

#RRBC – February 2020 SPOTLIGHT AUTHOR – Forrest Stepnowski @frstepnowski

Forrest Stepnowski is a talented poet and member of Rave Reviews Book Club. The club is celebrating Forrest this month as its “Spotlight” Author. You will see exactly why after you’ve read the post below.

Writing and Music

I am thrilled to be the first host of the first #RRBC SPOTLIGHT AUTHOR Blog tour of 2020! Congratulations to Forrest Stepnowski for landing in this hot seat!

Take it away, Forrest!

Writer’s Q&A

When did you start writing and what inspired you to write?

Answer: I began writing when I was twelve-years-old after experiencing one of the most depressing times of my life. The summer of 1987, I attempted toend my life. I struggled with a great many things, such as identity and traumatic stress caused by events that occurred during my earlier childhood. Events I do not talk about very often, but one day I will put them pen to paper, as they say. Anyways, during the fall of 1987 I was lucky to have an incredible English Teacher by the name of Mrs. Carr. Now our school was not the prettiest or fanciest, but we were lucky…

View original post 972 more words


Please give my colleague and friend, D.L. Finn, a warm welcome as RRBC’s November “Spotlight” Author! D.L. is an accomplished author across several literary genres and today she is featuring her book of poetry called, Just Her Poetry.

Thank you for having me on your blog for day three of the Just Her Poetry Spotlight Tour!

Finn Facts:

They walked on the moon on my 7th birthday

I write poetry while sitting on the back of a Harley.


Take a journey with D.L. Finn as she blends her love of nature with her deepest emotions. Sit with her on the forest floor observing its tranquil beauty, or stroll along the ocean’s shore admiring the vastness of its horizon. Here in these peaceful moments, you’ll be able to experience her thoughts and feelings in the light—and in the darkness. This is a thought-provoking collection of poetry that invites the reader into all the seasons of a soul.

Excerpt from Just Her Poetry: MUSING FROM THE BACK OF A HARLEY


The landscape is filled with tall evergreens.

Red peeks through winking at us.

Temporary signs on the side of the street…

Offer apples, pies, and cider to hungry travelers.

The air is chilled in anticipation…

Of winter’s coming frost.

Riding through the changing scene…

I realized I’m changing with it.

Carefree in my moment…

Before the holidays.

I remember.

I remember I’m grateful to be here.

Seeing all the changes…

And becoming them, too.

Amazon Purchase Link

D.L. Finn is an independent California local who encourages everyone to embrace their inner child. She was born and raised in the foggy Bay Area, but in 1990 relocated with her husband, kids, dogs, and cats to the Sierra foothills in Nevada City, CA. She immersed herself in reading all types of books but especially loved romance, horror, and fantasy. She always treasured creating her own reality on paper. Finally, being surrounded by towering pines, oaks, and cedars, her creativity was nurtured until it bloomed. Her creations vary from children’s books, young adult fantasy, and adult paranormal romance to an autobiography with poetry. She continues on her adventures with an open invitation for her readers to join her.

D.L. Finn Links:





D.L. Finn blog

Welcome to “MOMENTS WE LOVE” Blog Tour! @BalroopShado @4WillsPub #RRBC

Please welcome my esteemed Rave Reviews Book Club colleague as she opens her “Moments We love” blog tour with me at Fiora Books!

About the Book:

Book Cover - Moments We Love - Poetry by Balroop Singh

Moments of fragrant love that stand frozen in time, of dreams that dare not unfold, of passion that fleets by, of erratic joy that we meet at the crossroads of life, butterflies of time that add color to our dark moments to scare the demons away – I have gathered all of them in this book. Some of them whisper softly to create a magical aura while spring of life sings with them, trying to wipe silent tears. Mother Nature steps in with all her grandeur to breath quiet messages of tranquillity.

Each poem would soothe your emotions with élan and add a dash of color to your life. Life – that doesn’t halt for your sad moments; that just floats by. You just need to dive in to soak in myriads of moments to discover how it could ignite positive tones. All the poems in this collection are imaginary but inspired by people around me, some of whom chose to share their frustrations and tremors with me. Sometimes I could read between the lines to pen my thoughts down.

Memories and moments merge here

Today when I return to share

The glow of rainbows

Embers of emotional entreaties

And smouldering debris.

Buying links:

US / UK / DE / FR / ES / IT / NL / JP / BR / CA / MX / AU / IN

Excerpt from Moments We Love:

When Love Whispers

We walked those woods

A thousand times

The silence; the symphonies

The shadows; the light

Lingering in the aura of love

Velvety sky watches

Stars shine brighter

With our whispers

Our love deeper than woods

Paces through night

Swaying with the breeze

Stilling my heart, singing lullabies.

© Balroop Singh

Where Should I Begin?

Last night

The angel of forgiveness visited

She woke me up

I was wonderstruck to see

Blue and purple light

In my room

She sat by my bedside,

We had a cozy conversation

Caressing my locks, she counseled

“Forgive them dear,

Forgive them all.

Don’t carry any affliction.”

Abrasively I looked up

The pain in my eyes dwindled

With the promise – “ I will try.”

A strange light spread around me

Immersed me completely

And my Angel smiled.

But I don’t know where to begin.

Should I begin with childhood robbers?

Or devils I encountered

While growing up

Or tyrants

Who tried to snatch my freedom of speech

Or those hypocrites

Who took me for a ride?

Or those who feigned friendship?

The list may be long

But the purple light of forgiveness

Is all around me, encompassing all.

© Balroop Singh

(Excerpt from Sublime Shadows of life)

Author picture of Balroop Singh
Balroop Singh

Author Bio:

Balroop Singh, a former teacher and an educationalist always had a passion for writing.  She is a poet, a creative non-fiction writer, a relaxed blogger and a doting grandma. She writes about people, emotions and relationships. Her poetry highlights the fact that happiness is not a destination but a chasm to bury agony, anguish, grief, distress and move on! No sea of solitude is so deep that it can drown us. Sometimes aspirations are trampled upon, the boulders of exploitation and discrimination may block your path but those who tread on undeterred are always successful.

When turbulences hit, when shadows of life darken, when they come like unseen robbers, with muffled exterior, when they threaten to shatter your dreams, it is better to break free rather than get sucked by the vortex of emotions.

A self-published author, she is the poet of Sublime Shadows of Life,  Emerging From Shadows and Timeless Echoes – her widely acclaimed poetry books. She has also written When Success EludesEmotional Truths Of Relationships, Allow Yourself to be a Better Person, her latest poetry book Moments We Love has just been released.

Balroop Singh has always lived through her heart. She is a great nature lover; she loves to watch birds flying home. The sunsets allure her with the varied hues that they lend to the sky. She can spend endless hours listening to the rustling leaves and the sound of waterfalls. The moonlight streaming through her garden, the flowers, the meadows, the butterflies cast a spell on her. She lives in San Ramon, California.

You can visit her blog at http://balroop2013.wordpress.com

Connecting links: https://twitter.com/BalroopShado




To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the author’s tour page on the 4WillsPublishing site.  If you’d like to book your own blog tour and have your book promoted in similar grand fashion, please click HERE.  


Hi and “WELCOME” to Rave Reviews Book Club’s OCTOBER-WEEN BOOK, BLOG & TRAILER BLOCK PARTY at Fiora Books!

Here’s What I’m Giving Away Today!

One $10 Amazon Gift Card

# of Winners For This Stop: ONE

The lucky winner is Jennie Fitzkee!

My name is John Fioravanti and I am a writer – among other things! I am also a proud member of Rave Reviews Book Club and RWISA. To date, my wife, Anne, and I have self-published four of my books through our publishing company that we named Fiora Books. What follows is a showcase of my first offering to the literary world.

Partners in love and in business.

My First Book: A Personal Journey to the Heart of Teaching

Trailer created by 4 Wills Publishing
Back Cover Blurb:

This is a story about decency, family politics, family, fear, and triumph.

Teaching is the canvas but the portrait is so much richer and more colourful. This book will capture and absorb you. Fear of failure is a powerful motivator and as John Fioravanti battles and defeats his demons you will find yourself cheering for him as if he were contesting a sporting event.

Teaching is not a discipline confined to schools, and the lessons in this book about planning, listening, empathizing and sympathizing have applicability to all professions and walks of life − from a police lieutenant training officers to a sales manager teaching sales representatives and everything else in between.

John Fioravanti shaped, elevated, and improved the lives of thousands of young people. After you’ve read this short story, you’ll be fulfilled and uplifted.

John signing a book for his mother at the book launch event.
Signing a book for my Mom. I was so happy to have her there for the launch of my first book!
Background Story:

Near the end of my teaching career, Kenneth Tam, a former student and friend, visited me at St. David Catholic Secondary School at the end of the school day. He and his parents had created their own company to publish his novels and those of his mother. Kenneth asked me to author an inspirational book for them about my career in the classroom. I felt honoured to be asked yet perplexed as to how to approach this project.

After some soul searching, I proposed that I write honestly about my journey in struggling to become the teacher I wanted to be when I decided to enter the profession. Thus, the project became autobiographical in nature as I talked about growing up and identifying the factors that led me to the momentous decision to teach. The story follows the ups and downs I experienced and reveals the demons that drove me on for thirty-five years.

John Fioravanti reading an excerpt from "Journey" at the book launch.
Reading an excerpt the night of the book launch in the library of St. David Catholic Secondary School where I taught

After the book was launched, one of my colleagues shared with me that he thought the book was very personal – in a tone that expressed surprise and perhaps some disapproval. I smiled and pointed out that this was the purpose of the book and that’s why we inserted the word “personal” in the title.

Among my intended audiences were people thinking about entering the profession and those who were in preparatory studies, as well as rookie teachers. I hoped the book would give them the courage to pursue a great vocation. It wasn’t long before one of these people gave me her feedback.

I was walking along a hallway in our school heading for the Staff Room when I was stopped by a young lady who was supply teaching at our school that day. She had a copy of my book on top of the stack of books she carried in her arms in front of her. She thanked me profusely for writing the book and claimed that it was just what she needed to quell the panic she felt every day in the classroom. Then she hurried off to her next class. I felt so humbled by this experience. Even if no one else read this book, I could retire a happy man!

Available at:

Amazon.ca / Amazon.com / Indigo Books

Welcome to “THE MEREST LOSS” Blog Tour! @StevenNeil12 @4WillsPub #RRBC


The Merest Loss by Steven Neil

A story of love and political intrigue, set against the backdrop of the English hunting shires and the streets of Victorian London and post-revolutionary Paris.


Steven is giving away (3) Signed Paperback copies of “THE MEREST LOSS.”  For your chance to win, be sure to leave him a comment below.


Getting to know Steven Neil, the author.

*What is your novel about?

 The Merest Loss: A story of love and political intrigue, set against the backdrop of the English hunting shires and the streets of Victorian London and post-revolutionary Paris. It is historical fiction but it is also a romance. Most of the novel is written from the point of view of the omniscient narrator, writing in the present tense, although this is interspersed with four strategic chapters, from the point of view of one of the characters, in the past tense. I like the idea of varying the presentation and I also make use of letters, newspaper articles and reviews to provide additional perspective.

Originally I was planning to write a Dick Francis style thriller and I was researching a jockey called Jem Mason, who won the first Grand National at Liverpool in 1839. I found a line in his description which said something like ‘also famous for his relationship with Harriet Howard, who ran away to live with him in London when she was fifteen and who also became Louis Napoleon’s mistress and financial backer’. I decided she was an even more interesting character and I set about writing a fictional account of her life.

*Who are the main characters?

Harriet Howard is the heroine. She is independent, feisty, stubborn, beautiful and intelligent. Jem Mason is the main love interest. He is taciturn, difficult and moody, but also charismatic, talented and single-minded. Tom Olliver, friend to both Harriet and Jem, is loyal, tough, reliable and a brilliant horseman. Louis Napoleon is arrogant, feckless, self-regarding and a womaniser.

*What is the main plot line?

Having settled on Harriet Howard as the main character, I learned that although she did not come from wealth or position in society she became Louis Napoleon’s mistress and financial backer in his ambition to become Emperor of France and she  died a multi-millionairess in today’s terms. I could find nothing from research to satisfactorily explain where the money came from or how she came into contact with the future emperor. The Merest Loss is my fictional attempt to explain how this might have happened.

*What research did you carry out?

I did a lot of historical research on the internet and at the British Library, trying to make sure the historical timeline was correct and that the language and cultural references were appropriate to the age. I also read a lot of 19th century novels and books on the history of Britain and France in the 19th century. The Merest Loss took three years from conception to publication: two years of research and one year of pure writing.

*What appealed to you about this subject matter?

 I love the Victorian era. I warmed to Harriet Howard as I wrote about her. She was arguably a woman ahead of her time. I also had a strong connection with the character Jem Mason. I have great admiration for the skill and courage of the jump jockey. I share some of his characteristics and was able to empathise with him.

I was also fascinated by the idea of a romance where the two main characters are thwarted by their own temperaments; they are both unromantic, stubborn and uncompromising. How will it ever be possible for them to get together when they seem unable to resolve arguments, even though everyone around them can see they are well suited together?

*What was the most difficult part of writing the novel?

Getting started was probably the most difficult part. Writing doesn’t come easy to me but I am very disciplined and I keep going.

*Why should we want to read The Merest Loss?

Almost all the characters in The Merest Loss are real. Harriet Howard, Jem Mason, Tom Olliver, Louis Napoleon are all real. The timeline is historically accurate but the substance of the storyline is entirely a fiction arising out of my own imagination. You might like to play ‘guess who is the made up character’ when you have finished reading the novel. Oh, and it has lots of five star reviews.

*Do you read your reviews?

I read all my reviews. I know I can’t please all the people all of the time and that no two people read the same book the same way. One of my creative writing tutors advised me to look up my favourite books of all time on Goodreads and see how few of them have an average rating above 4 out of 5. Only one of them did.

*What is your favourite review?

All the five star reviews are my favourites.

*Who would you cast if The Merest Loss was made into a film or TV series?

I think Australian actress Emma Hamilton would make a terrific Harriet Howard. Dominic Cooper for Jem Mason perhaps. Johnny Flynn for Tom Olliver. James Norton as Louis Napoleon.

© Steven Neil

THE MEREST LOSS is available in paperback and eBook in the UK, US, France, Canada and Australia.

Follow Steven Neil on https://twitter.com/stevenneil12 for information on how to purchase the paperback through an independent bookseller in the UK.

Author Bio

Steven has a BSc in Economics from the London School of Economics, a BA in English Literature and Creative Writing from the Open University and an MA in Creative Writing from Oxford Brookes University. He has been a bookmaker’s clerk, bloodstock agent, racehorse breeder and management consultant amongst other professions in his varied career. He is married and lives in rural Northamptonshire, England. The Merest Loss is his debut novel.

Twitter:  @stevenneil12



Has Our Soul Been Taken?

The true identity theft is not financial. It’s not in cyberspace. It’s spiritual. It’s been taken.”

Stephen Covey

Portrait of Stephen Covey.
Stephen Covey

Born in 1932 in Salt Lake City, Utah, Stephen Covey was an American educator and taught at Brigham Young University. He fathered a large family and died in 2012. As an author, his greatest achievement was his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People which is cited as the most influential book in business education in the 20th Century.

There has been much written and discussed about our materialistic society. As a group, we collectively pursue the relentless acquisition of goods which has resulted in a spectacularly prodigious amount of personal debt. I do not wish to enter into a discussion or debate about how this materialism came to be. But this reality is the backdrop for Stephen Covey’s words cited above.

Covey speaks of the current issue of identity theft. Our personal identity is sacred to all of us. The theft of our name and official government identifiers, like social insurance numbers, is a vexing problem that the existence of cyberspace has made more dangerous than ever before. Victims of identity theft face financial ruin and, perhaps, criminal and civil consequences in the courts.

And yet, Covey boldly states that true identity theft is not about financial loss or about cyberspace criminals. No, he claims that we are the victims of the theft of our spiritual identity. He also claims that our spiritual identity has been taken – not lost. Really?

For most of my life, the spiritual realm and religion were one and the same. Certainly, there is a relationship between the two, but they are not synonymous, not the same. The human spirit is not necessarily about religion in general or about a specific religion. I believe that everyone possesses a soul, the spiritual core of our being. We cannot see it, hear it, or feel it. But it is powerful.

Many people turn to religion to satisfy their spiritual needs. And for some, religion has become a badge of social respectability that one has earned by attending church regularly – saying all the right prayers and singing the right hymns. For them, it goes no farther. Others work hard to live the tenets of their chosen faith in their daily lives. But religion is not for everyone because the rules and regulations of formal religions can be restrictive.

Our common spirituality transcends religious practices and communities. The human spirit is about the values and personal truths we hold dear. These realities are not our birthright as humans, but they must be cultivated through great personal effort. It means setting aside alone time to meditate or think deeply about the things we truly value. To question ideas that originate within ourselves and from others. What do we truly value? Things? Yes, sadly, things.

I believe that Covey is telling us that our craving for material possessions which has been institutionalized into mass shopping sprees on days designated by the corporations that profit from them, has driven us not only into deep personal debt but also into a soulless existence. Our education system prepares us for jobs. Jobs are our means to earn a living. Those jobs give birth to an overwhelming need to be promoted into higher-paying jobs so that we may acquire more things.

We are not being educated to live our lives well. We are not encouraged to seek out and meditate on the wisdom of those who went before us. In fact, we are not encouraged to meditate at all! Where are we now? We are facing ecological disaster and extinction. Are we waking up to the fact that our rampant materialism has stolen our souls? No, it doesn’t look like it. Listen carefully to the messages of politicians running an election campaign. Look at the commercials on television. What does our behaviour reveal about our values?

I agree with Stephen Covey but I’m not prepared to write off the human race just yet. It is clear we need to nurture our spiritual identity. How we do that is a matter of choice. But we need to take back our spirituality.

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