Monday, October 25, 2010

Anne Hamilton's Tiki Hut Winner

Thanks to all of you who stopped by to visit with our special guest Anne Hamilton as she talked about the inspiration for her new book A BLONDE BENGALI WIFE.

Congrats to Sandy B. - your name was drawn as our winner! Anne's publisher, LL Publications will be contacting you for your information - thanks for leaving your email address!

Monday, October 18, 2010

This Week's Special Guest Anne Hamilton

The Story of A Blonde Bengali Wife

There’s a torn billboard along the urban sprawl that links Zia International Airport with the dusty clamour of downtown Dhaka; it has the tag line “Come to Bangladesh before the tourists do.” I, the so-called Blonde Bengali Wife did just that and in doing so framed the story of a three month journey through the landscape and culture, the people and places, the humour and highlights of a little-known Bangladesh.

Whilst the book invites you to swim at Cox’s Bazaar, the longest sea beach in the world; to trek rare tigers amidst the earth’s largest mangrove forests in the Sunderbans National Park; to refresh your taste buds beside Srimangal’s verdant, rolling tea gardens, and to watch the sun rise and set at the same most southerly point in Kuakata, it is so much more than a travel memoir because A Blonde Bengali Wife has inspired, and is supporting, a UK based charity called Bhola’s Children.

It all began with my first (of eight and counting) visit to Bangladesh as a volunteer for a Non Government Organisation (NGO) when I fell utterly in love with the country. Draft after redraft followed until it was read by literary agent Dinah Wiener. It wasn’t remotely commercial, Dinah said, but it made her want to visit Bangladesh, and that was enough for her to agree to represent it—and to make a trip to Bangladesh herself. By chance, there she met Howlader Akkel Ali. Ali, orphaned at the age of eight and with forty years’ experience of caring for disabled children, had a dream of a home and a school where children and young people with different disabilities could live, learn, and work together.

Ali comes from the Barisal district of Southern Bangladesh in which lies the island of Bhola, jutting out to the Bay of Bengal. In Bengali, bhola means “forgotten” and it was on this “forgotten island” that Ali had found the property that is now called Bhola Garden. Together with some orphaned and disabled children and staff, he carried out basic renovations, and then began encouraging families all over the island to send their disabled children to daily lessons. Dinah discovered that Bhola Garden took the traditionally grim notions of orphanages, third-world poverty and disability, and simply knocked them on their heads. Full of life, love, and colour, the word Dinah used to describe it was “magical.” Thus, the charity Bhola’s Children was established by Dinah and registered in March 2007 with a commitment from all of the Trustees, of which I am one, to nurture and progress everything that makes Bhola Garden what it is today and what it can be tomorrow.

Bhola Garden is now a home to about forty children and a school for another fifteen, with many more waiting in the wings. In practical terms, Ali and the children live in very basic conditions. They bathe, swim, do their laundry, and breed fish all in the same pond. Their staple food is rice, with meat or fish a couple of times a week; milky, sugary sweets are a rare treat. They grow most of their own vegetables. When they receive gifts, they are delighted with toothbrushes, plastic combs, and hair oil. There is little to spare for visits to the doctor, the dentist, or anything unexpected.

Outreach work, that is teaching the community about disability, is part of daily life. Ali oversees hospital arrangements in Dhaka for the many infants whose frightened parents agonise over cleft palates and club feet. Better, he says that these are prevented—and educating people about the need to reduce inter-marriage and avoiding very young pregnancies is the best way forward. Better, too, that families learn there is no stigma in their child being blind or deaf and sending them to school, rather than hiding them away, will significantly improve their life chances.

As well as the day-to-day financial support, the charity’s first purchase was a Toyota microbus so that, for the first time, outings and picnics and trips to appointments didn’t rely on public buses or rickshaws. The initial major project was to complete a properly-built, two-storey hostel for the children, staff, and Ali to live in year-round safety and far greater comfort than the tin shacks that barely protected them from monsoon, floods, and hurricanes. Two years on, the current scheme involves updating the equally primitive sheds in which carpentry and tailoring are taught. Proper workshops mean these will grow into businesses creating much needed income. Longer term, the grand plan is for a dispensary and health clinic that will meet the needs of not just Bhola’s Children but the surrounding community too. Ultimately, of course, it relies on successful fundraising and charitable donation.

All money earned from A Blonde Bengali Wife goes direct to Bhola’s Children. Not because Dinah or I are particularly generous or kind people, but because once you’ve been to Bhola, you just can’t not be involved. A Blonde Bengali Wife it isn’t about Bhola, but it is a tribute to my journeys into Bangladesh and all the friends I have made there. Most of all, it is the story of the country that inspired Bhola’s Children.

Between her travels, Anne Hamilton currently lives in Scotland where she is working on a novel whilst studying for a PhD in Creative Writing at Glasgow University. Anne and her husband celebrated the birth of their first baby in August 2010.

A Blonde Bengali Wife is available in print and in several ebook formats. It can found at,,, as well as many other print and ebook retailers.

WIN - Leave Anne a comment or question this week at the Tiki Hut and your name goes in the hat for your choice of either a print or ebook of her new book, A BLONDE BENGALI WIFE. To be entered, you must leave your email address, so we can contact you if you are this week's winner - Good luck!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Desiree Holt and Cerise DeLand's Tiki Hut Winner

Thanks to everyone who stopped by to visit with Desiree and Cerise this week! Congrats goes out to Marybelle - you win a free download of the first book they co-authored together UNTIL THE DAWN.

Monday, October 11, 2010

This Week's Special Guests Desiree Holt and Cerise Deland

This week at the AuthorIsland Tiki Hut , we welcome award-winning authors Desiree Holt and Cerise DeLand who stop by to talk with us about co-authoring. Together they just kicked off the Nemesis Series, a new series for Ellora's Cave's Breathless line of erotic romantic suspense, with their first book together UNTIL THE DAWN.

Meet Desiree Holt: All her life, Desiree dreamed of faraway places and unbelievably sexy men. From baseball players to rock musicians to television personalities she met them all and each one enriched her life. Now tucked away in the Texas Hill Country, she shares her fantasies with her readers. In her satin robe, with her scented candle burning and a chilled glass of wine at hand, she lets her mind run wild — and hopes you’ll take the journey with her. When she’s not writing, she reads and indulges in her other passion — watching football.


Meet Cerise DeLand: What’s a gal to do if she hails from D.C., lives now deep in the heart of Texas, travels often everywhere, and adores Paris, Florence, London, Tokyo and all points east and west? Ah. She becomes an author who can write about those romantic places. And if your sweet tooth craves spies, pirates, body guards and gutsy women of today and yesteryears of medieval and Regency England, then she is the author you crave for smoldering erotic encounters and delicious love affairs!

Her name? Cerise DeLand. What’s more is that Cerise is the award-winning author of 18 print novels of mystery, mainstream and romance with St. Martin’s Press, Pocket Books and Kensington. Her books have been on every book club list you can name, including Featured Selections of The Mystery Guild, Doubleday and Rhapsody. And when she isn’t dreaming up fiction? Cerise also writes non-fiction. Busy lady. Happy writer.


Co-authoring…the spice in the stew
Cerise Deland and Desiree Holt
Authors of Until the Dawn, Nemesis: Book One

So you’re doing really well as a solo author. Great. Most of the authors out there are right there with you. But did you ever think about sticking your toe in deeper water? Finding the ticket to enhancing your ‘voice’? Bringing a new dimension to your writing? Exchange ideas? Give your work a fresh voice? Put the ‘fun’ back in writing? Then maybe co-authoring is for you. It offers continued interaction with another writer outside a critique group, and the interaction helps keep you sane, happy and creative.

Co-authoring is different than collaborating. In collaboration two or more authors get together to create a series, each one writing an entire title. In co-authoring, you are writing simultaneously. In some instances this means alternate chapters, in some alternate POVs. You have to find out what works for you. What your best method of working together is. This means brainstorming plots, refining characters, finding the common ground on which to build the story. And as you do this, the best method of co-authoring emerges.

How do you decide the point in your career to try this? For everyone it’s different. Maybe you’re stuck in a genre rut and want to try something new. Maybe you’ve become too plot-oriented and want to hook up with someone who’s more character-oriented. Maybe you want to try a new genre altogether but doing it alone is scary and intimidating. And maybe you’re having coffee, or wine, or a long cyberchat with another writer with whom you’ve developed a great relationship. And then suddenly out pops an idea and you both say, “Let’s write a book together.”

The first thing to consider is whether your styles blend. Have you read each other’s work? Do you know how the other person writes? For example: if a writer tends to write dark but you have a light and fun style could you work together? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe the style could complement each other and create a fresh new voice for both of you. That’s definitely something to hash out.

Another point to consider is how you write. Are you a plotter or a pantser? Do your characters talk to you when you’re writing and sometimes send the story in another direction? If it happens to one of you and not the other, then you have to discussing detail if the two methods can blend without disrupting the story. Following a timeline is another point to discuss. How much time a day you each spend writing and will you both keep to the schedule you collaboratively set for yourselves.

And finally, can you each accept the other’s critiques without blowing a gasket. Writing is probably the single profession where having a thick skin gives you the best advantage. You may be in love with every word you write but not everyone else will be. And you will not grow as a writer—or work effectively with another one—if you are not willing to be a sponge and soak up every bit of logical criticism. And then between you, you take what works and toss the rest.

We consider ourselves very fortunate. We blend our styles, work easily and well together, love the same kind of stories and the same kind of characters. This series, Nemesis, of which Until the Dawn is the first book, is iour first co-authoring venture but you can bets it won’t be our last.


WIN - Leave Desiree and/or Cerise a comment or question this week at the AuthorIsland Tiki Hut and your name goes in the hat for a copy of their first book together UNTIL THE DAWN. Please leave your email address so we can contact you if you are this week's winner - Good Luck!