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Welcome

 

Hello, I’m Belinda (McGrath) Witzenhausen and in a nutshell; I am a Writer, Creativity Coach, Artist, Student, Bookworm, History Geek, Armchair Archaeologist, Amateur Photographer, Coffee Connoisseur & Hubby’s Grossly Under-Paid Bass Roadie. 😉

I have always enjoyed helping others, as well as being creative. Both my education and work history have revolved around social services, counselling, art therapy, coaching and expressing my creativity be it through writing, art or photography.

Over the years I have been blessed to cross paths with many interesting and creative people who have been a source of inspiration. I love life and try to make sure that each of my days is touched by the creative process. I make it my mission to help others heal by igniting their creativity, as well as acting as an advocate for children and young adults with special needs and learning challenges.

Currently, I am working on an Urban Fantasy novel to be released 2019/20 and am a contributing writer for various mainstream websites, main writer/creator/coach at www.IgniteYourCreativity.netwww.WriterzBlox.net, a partner at Professor Owl’s Book Corner, main reviewer at www.bohoandbookish.wordpress.com and www.UrbanWordNerd.wordpress.com.


© Belinda Witzenhausen, 2009-2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Belinda Witzenhausen with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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#NetGalley #BookReview Music Macabre (Phineas Fox #4) by Sarah Rayne #Historical #Mystery

Review

Music Macabra Cover

Music Macabre

(Phineas Fox #4)

by 

Sarah Rayne

Release date: December 3rd, 2019

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of Music Macabre(Phineas Fox #4)
by Sarah Rayne from NetGalley and Severn House Publishers in order to read and give an honest review.

” …clever, complex and incredibly well-written, this book keeps the reader enthralled…

This is the first novel I have read by Sarah Rayne and I know I will definitely be reading her others as well.  A modern-day mystery interspersed with a gothic victorian murder set in the late 1800s, the author manages to intertwine multiple plotlines wonderfully.

Music researcher, historian and author,  Phineas Fox is collecting research to write a biography about famous and flamboyant composer Franz Liszt. While researching he comes across Linklighters, a  recently opened restaurant that was once a well-known Victorian music hall.  Phineas meets it’s mysterious owner Loretta Farrant and uncovers old memorabilia that points to Liszt, Jack the Ripper and about the murder with the famous performer known as Scaramel at its centre. The story travels back in time to meet Scaramel, Daisy, Joe and hear about the gruesome murders that are occurring in the area. Present-day we follow Phineas as he uncovers research and we also learn about Loretta Farrant, her husband Roland as well as the mysterious death of Roland’s mother.

I actually really enjoyed this book but wished I would have seen more of Phineas.  This is the fourth book in a series and I regret not reading the previous three to get more of a glimpse into Phineas’s character but it was a fantastic read as a stand-alone.  Overall I found it clever, complex and incredibly well-written, this book keeps the reader enthralled until the last page and I would highly recommend it!

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Compassion in Action #WATWB

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Welcome to the “We are the World Blogfest” (#WATWB ). The #WATWB was inspired by a simple conversation about how all the negativity on social media was weighing on us. Wanting to make a difference we decided to try to do our part to infuse social media with all the good stories that are out there. We hope to share the stories that show kindness, compassion, hope, overcoming challenges and in general, the impressive resilience of the human spirit. For every dark, negative story out there, there is a positive, heartwarming story that will add some light and lift the human spirit. The last Friday of every month bloggers will share their stories led by five co-hosts, this month’s co-hosts are Damyanti BiswasLizbeth HartzShilpa GargPeter Nena, and Simon Falk.

After  Jonathan Pinkard, a 27-year-old man with autism collapsed at work he discovered he needed a life-saving heart transplant. Sadly, he wasn’t able to meet the requirements because he wouldn’t have anyone to care for him after the surgery. Pinkard had been in and out of the hospital for a few months and often stayed at a men’s shelter. His grandmother passed away in 2012, and his mother was in rehab leaving Jonathon all alone. In steps ICU nurse Lori Wood who knew she had to get involved and help Pinkard. Just two days after meeting him, she asked if she could be his legal guardian. Watch the video below for more about this heart-warming story…

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Blissfully busy season ahead! #amwriting #UrbanFantasy #Egyptology #amstudying #Archaeology #ForensicAnthropology #IrishMythology

November December Montage

“I know you’ve heard it a thousand times before. But it’s true – hard work pays off. If you want to be good, you have to practice, practice, practice. If you don’t love something, then don’t do it.” ~ Ray Bradbury

Between now and next January is shaping up to be blissfully busy! November and December have always extremely busy for me and this year is no exception.  I have been busy taking courses for both pleasure and business.  I’m currently studying Forensic Anthropology, Archaeology and Irish Mythology as well as pursuing complementary courses and workshops for my creativity coaching practice at IgniteYourCreativity.net which I will be relaunching with new content, new courses and new look in Winter 2020.

As well as my courses and usual to-do list,  I’m also halfway through tackling this year’s NaNoWriMo. To sum it up,  in between writing essays, blog posts, book reviews and articles, I am attempting to finish my draft of a  50,000 word (min.) on my #UrbanFantasy #Gothic novel by the 30th.  So far I’m on track, but as with most writers, the first draft is awkward, messy and often frustrating but it’s become an addiction I’m not ready to quit.

Keep your eyes open for Professor Owl’s Book Corner December Newsletter for Young Adults coming out this weekend, my #WATWB We are the World Blogfest post on November 29th and a few book reviews coming up over the next few months. I will be taking a hiatus of sorts over the last two weeks of December to celebrate the holidays with family.

“This is how you do it: You sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until it’s done. It’s that easy, and that hard.” ~ Neil Gaiman

Wherever you may be in your day or evening, I hope you’re living with passion and purpose!  🙂
Live, laugh & love! ❤

#amwriting #researching #mythology #egyptology #urbanfantasy #gothic #writerscommunity #studying #archaeology #history #arttherapy #coaching #volunteering #palaeography #transcribing #amreading #photography #blogging #bookreview #authorinterviews #journaling

““Trust dreams. Trust your heart, and trust your story.”~Neil Gaiman

My Spotify Playlist ~ #AmWriting #UrbanFantasy #Egyptology #Mystery ~ The Secret of Living

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Psssst…A Secret Revealed… #ShortStories #SCCA4 #AnimalsAcrobaticsAttitudeand Amore #AwardWinner #NewAppleLiteraryService

A Secret Revealed

New Apple Literary Services has been holding on to a secret for a few months. Why? Because they wanted to provide their viewers with all the information and the sparkles that are medallions on their website. Just like National Novel Writing Month #NaNoWriMo it’s been a work in progress.

Not sure what I’m saying?

New Apple Literary Services held a Summer eBook Awards competition earlier this year (2019). After the results were tallied, some categories had more than one book that met or exceeded their expectations. Since there is only one Solo Medalist per category, the judges must determine the best of those and then assign the others in the Official Selection category. November 10, 2019, they updated their website with the winners.

If you’d like to see who won what, you can visit: http://newappleliterary.com/2019ebookwinners.html

Why am I telling you this?

My friend and fellow author, Lynn Hallbrooks, participated in this competition. Her book, Animals, Acrobatics, Attitude, and Amore, won Official Selection in the Short Story Collection category. http://www.newappleliterary.com/2019ebook/2019ebookCat20.html

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What can you do?

You can help me applaud her efforts. That can take the form of sharing this blog post, purchasing her book (see links below), and/or simply saying congratulations to her here or on social media.

Bonus: The book is currently on sale for 99 cents (USD) and equivalent around the various global market places.

Of course, you aren’t limited to saying congratulations to Lynn, you can say it to all the winners of this competition. If you’re an author you could consider participating in future events: http://newappleliterary.com/awards.html

CONGRATULATIONS LYNN!

About Lynn

Lynn Hallbrooks posing

 

Lynn Hallbrooks is a USAF veteran who enjoys reading as much as she does writing. She even started a website to share the love of books with fellow authors and readers. https://author-reader-cheerleader.weebly.com/

Lynn runs her own business, Call Sign Wrecking Crew, LLC where she self-publishes books among other things. You can see the range of her books and connect with her social media platforms via her website: https://cswcllc.weebly.com/

You can find Animals, Acrobatics, Attitude, and Amore via multiple vendors. Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07N6C2FB3

Amazon global: mybook.to/SCCA4 Multiple vendors: https://books2read.com/SSCA4

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#BookReview You Beneath Your Skin by Damyanti Biswas ( @damyantig ) Proceeds benefit @projectwhydelhi & @stopacidattacks #CrimeFiction #AcidAttacks

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You Beneath Your Skin

by Damyanti Biswas

Release date: September 15th, 2019

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of You Beneath Your Skin
by Damyanti Biswas from the author and Simon & Schuster in order to read and give an honest review.

” …a flawlessly written, atmospheric, intriguing story with…”

In her debut novel, You Beneath Your Skin, Damyanti Biswas gives us a compelling psychological thriller which is not only a brilliant page-turner but shows us the truth about the misogyny and violence against women which sadly happens throughout the world.

The story opens when Anjali Morgan, a well-respected psychiatrist, is called to consult on a string of murders of young slum women, raped, murdered and disfigured with acid on the streets of New Delhi. Anjali already living a complicated life, being a single mother raising a special needs son named Nikhil, bearing the weight of a secretive past and working along-side her married boyfriend of ten years, Special Commissioner of Crime Jatin Bhatt, is dragged into the center of a dark and dangerous case. Atmospheric and gritty we are witnesses to the investigation and the very real, very disturbing details of the crime. During the climax, Anjali finally begins to realize that she is on a path that may put herself and those she loves in grave jeopardy.

Personally, I loved everything about this book, I loved the detail brought to every scene, being immersed in the culture and most of all I love the way Anjali was written…her honesty, intelligence and insecurities all felt genuine making her very relatable.

To sum up, Ms Biswas gives us a flawlessly written, atmospheric, intriguing story with well developed, authentic, characters and an intricately plotted realistic crime story which makes this such an incredibly entertaining and engrossing read that I would highly recommend!


D Biswas Bio Picture

About the Author

Damyanti Biswas lives in Singapore, and works with Delhi’s underprivileged children as part of Project Why, a charity that promotes education and social enhancement in underprivileged communities. Her short stories have been published in magazines in the US, UK, and Asia, and she helps edit the Forge Literary Magazine. You can find her on her blog and twitter. All the author proceeds will go to Project WHY and StopAcid Attacks.

#WATWB, Art, Chronic Illness

#Art for #Recovery ~ Using Art to Help Heal #WATWB

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Welcome to the “We are the World Blogfest” (#WATWB ). The #WATWB was inspired by a simple conversation about how all the negativity on social media was weighing on us. Wanting to make a difference we decided to try to do our part to infuse social media with all the good stories that are out there. We hope to share the stories that show kindness, compassion, hope, overcoming challenges and in general, the impressive resilience of the human spirit. For every dark, negative story out there, there is a positive, heartwarming story that will add some light and lift the human spirit. The last Friday of every month bloggers will share their stories led by five co-hosts, this month’s co-hosts are Sylvia McGrathLizbeth HartzShilpa GargMary Giese, and Belinda Witzenhausen.
To learn more about #WATWB or to join us click here!


“Art is the meeting ground of the world inside and the world outside.”~ Elinor Ulman

Establish in 1988, the University of California, San Francisco’s Art for Recovery (Ernest H Rosenbaum Art for Recovery)Program,  is a creative arts program introducing art, writing and music to adults living with cancer and other potentially terminal illness. To date, it has helped thousands of patients find a voice to express their feelings about their illness.  By being able to communicate they build confidence in themselves and finding a way to cope with life-changing illnesses. 

Approximately 200 patients participate in Art for Recovery’s weekly, three-hour Open Art Studios workshop. Other activities they offer include writing workshops and visits by musicians at Mount Zion and Mission Bay. Volunteer guitarists, harpists and madrigal singers also perform in hospital lobbies. Both inpatients and outpatients may attend and participate.  Program director, since it’s inception, Cynthia Perlis  discusses the benefits of the program in the video below:

“Expressive art therapy integrates all of the arts in a safe, non-judgmental setting to facilitate personal growth and healing. To use the arts expressively means going into our inner realms to discover feelings and to express them through visual art, movement, sound, writing or drama. This process fosters release, self-understanding, insight and awakens creativity and transpersonal states of consciousness.” ~ Natalie Rogers

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#Author #Interview with Damyanti Biswas ( @damyantig ) About Her Debut Novel #YouBeneathYourSkin proceeds to go to @projectwhydelhi & @stopacidattacks

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Recently had the pleasure to interview author Damyanti Biswas about her debut novel “You Beneath Your Skin”. Welcome, Damyanti! Please tell us a bit about yourself and your debut novel, “You Beneath Your Skin”.

You beneath Your Skin” is my debut published by Simon And Schuster. It is a literary crime novel set in New Delhi, about a woman who suffers an acid attack, against the background of a crime spree. I’ve been writing short stories for more than a decade, and they’ve been published in a few venues, and for the last three years, I have been one of the editors of the Forge Literary Magazine.

Please share with us what was the inspiration behind your novel?

You Beneath Your Skin” was written over six years, so I don’t know if there was a firm inspiration. Anjali’s character came to me first, and I kept going back to her. Her son, her lover, her friend, her troubles. The rest of the novel came from there.

 You are a very prolific writer, how was working on this novel different from your previous work?

I’ve written “You Beneath Your Skin” over many drafts. 15 rewrites, 15 edits, and many rounds of copyedits. I draft my work several times of course, but this one took more patience and perseverance that anything I’ve ever done.

 As an author what does your average work/writing day look like? Do you have any writing quirks or rituals?

I do not have average days—my days are all different. Some days I write like a maniac for 14 hours, and others, I don’t write at all. Most days I try to get in a long walk, some exercise, a bit of gardening and cooking. I try to write either in complete silence at home and if the words don’t come, at a busy café with white noise earphones. Once in a while I would use a song when writing characters—I did that a fair bit for “You Beneath Your Skin.”

What are some of the biggest challenges you face as a writer and how do you overcome them?

The biggest challenge is within. Mostly, it is about writing without any expectations. To write a novel over months and years needs a lot of discipline and self-motivation, and to sustain this gets difficult on days when the words don’t pour out or the rejections trickle in. The writing life is a head game. To keep at it despite the obstacles can be a challenge sometimes, but I don’t know that I have any tips to overcome them. I cope with self-doubt and disappointment from rejections by writing for fun, for no reason at all. That always reminds me why I wanted to write in the first place, to create worlds, to go out of myself, and for a sense of immersion.

What advice would you give someone new to writing?

Writing is about writing. Not reading about writing. Not writing about writing. Writing is also about figuring out your own process, about listening to advice but taking only that which works for you. About true clichés like hard work and grit and not giving up. It is also about reading a lot, pretty regularly.

What message do you hope your readers take away with them after reading your book?

I don’t necessarily think You beneath Your Skin does or needs to, carry a message. When I began writing it, I had no message in mind. Now I feel it is about appearances and reality, and the ability to look beneath the surface. About women and their place in this world. I had set out to tell a good story, but I hope readers carry away an experience of what it is to be a person in New Delhi in contemporary India.

Can you tell us what is coming up for you and where can we find you online?

I’m on my website http://www.damyantiwrites.com, and that will connect you to my entire online presence. I’m continuing to write more crime novels and short stories, and am currently wrapping up travels in India about You Beneath Your Skin.

About You Beneath Your Skin

Review Blurbs

“You Beneath Your Skin” is a crime novel about the investigation of an acid attack on a woman from Delhi’s upper class, set against the backdrop of crimes against underprivileged women. They are assaulted, disfigured with acid, and murdered. While the framework is that of a thriller, the novel threads together different narrative strands. The author tackles various social issues: crimes against women and why they occur, the nexus between political corruption, police and big money; the abuse of the underprivileged, be it, adults or children. Of these, the issue of crimes against women is the strongest—why do men attack women? Why do they gang together? What happens when a woman tries to break the glass ceiling? Can toxic masculinity masquerade as benevolent patriarchy? Parents would also find this novel fascinating: how do you bring up a good human being in today’s troubled times? How much do you know about your teenager’s life? If you’re the parent of special needs child, what challenges do you face and what sort of support can you expect? It is a whodunnit, but also a whydunnit because violent crime unravels those affected: the people, the relationships, the very fabric of society, and we get a glimpse of what lies beneath. That’s why the title, You Beneath Your Skin. The narrative of the book was researched and shaped during the author’s work with ProjectWHY and some of the experiences generously shared by acid attack survivors from the non-profit Stop Acid Attacks. To return this debt of gratitude, all author proceeds from the book will go to these two non-profits.

D Biswas Bio PictureAbout the Author 

Damyanti Biswas lives in Singapore, and works with Delhi’s underprivileged children as part of Project Why, a charity that promotes education and social enhancement in underprivileged communities. Her short stories have been published in magazines in the US, UK, and Asia, and she helps edit the Forge Literary Magazine. You can find her on her blog and twitter. All the author proceeds will go to Project WHY and StopAcid Attacks.

I would like to thank Damyanti for taking the time to speak with us, please Check back next week to read my review of “You Beneath Your Skin“! 

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#NetGalley #BookReview The Adventure of the Peculiar Protocols by Nicholas Meyer#Historical #Mystery #Sherlock

Review

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The Adventure of the Peculiar Protocols

Adapted from the Journals of John H. Watson, M.D.

by Nicholas Meyer

Release date: October 15th, 2019

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Adventure of the Peculiar Protocols
(Adapted from the Journals of John H. Watson, M.D.) by Nicholas Meyer from NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press/MacMillan in order to read and give an honest review.

” …an intelligent and intriguing read …”

I have always been a fan of author Arthur Conan Doyle and have always loved stories that bring the brilliant duo back to life. In The Adventure of the Peculiar Protocols, Nicholas Meyer does just that.   At an auction, a newly discovered mysterious journal of Dr JohnWatson surfaces with the notes from a 1905 investigation: The Adventure of the Peculiar Protocols. After a lengthy absence from his partner Sherlock Holmes, Dr Watson a newlywed and very busy physician is drawn back into the life when a murder points to a mysterious document, zionists, antisemitism and political corruption. Fiction mixed with real events in history this is a unique approach taking us on the Orient Express from Paris to Russia. Holmes, Watson and their fiery and very beautiful translator, Anna Strunsky are on a quest to find the original source of the document and the corruption behind it. They are chased by a wide-reaching group who wants to stop them from asking questions that could disrupt their plans and destroy their future!

I have to say although slow to get into at first I enjoyed it and found it an intelligent and intriguing read that I would definitely recommend!

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#NetGalley #BookReview Welcoming the Unwelcome: Wholehearted Living in a Brokenhearted World by Pema Chodron #Mindfulness #Meditation #Bodhisattva

Review

Welcoming the Unwelcome

Wholehearted Living in a Brokenhearted World

by Pema Chodron

Release date: October 8th, 2019

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of Welcoming the Unwelcome: Wholehearted Living in a Brokenhearted World by Pema Chodron from NetGalley and Shambhala Publications, Inc. in order to read and give an honest review.

“…is a brilliant yet challenging read and one I know I will read again…”

I recently became a fan of Pema Chodron after reading Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears and was so pleased to hear she had a new book coming out. Just beginning my journey toward Bodhisattva, I appreciate her downtoearth and non-intimidating approach to Buddhist teachings.  

In Welcoming the Unwelcome Chodron offers us wisdom on how to face the often overwhelming and uncomfortable aspects of life, embracing our emotions about those aspects while fostering a sense of peace by putting things in perspective. Each chapter discusses a particular practice with stories of others as well as personal insight about her journey.  The overall message to me was learning to see both the positives and negatives in ourselves in order to foster a level of understanding of our vulnerabilities and to help us to gain insight and compassion towards others. 

Throughout the book, Chodron offers us spiritual teachings to awaken us and assist us through our journey towards enlightenment. Although the practices are discussed in detail in each chapter, she has been kind enough to include a detailed outline of the practices at the back where they are mentioned in a more direct “how-to” approach. This book is a brilliant yet challenging read and one I know I will read again learning more each time I read it.  

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#NetGalley #BookReview The Books of the Dead: A Death in Paris Mystery by Emilia Bernhard via @crookedlanebks #Mystery

Review

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The Books of the Dead

A Death in Paris Mystery #2

by Emilia Bernhard

Release date: October 8th, 2019

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Books of the Dead
(A Death in Paris Mystery #2) by Emilia Bernhard from NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books in order to read and give an honest review.

Having read Ms Bernhard’s first book in the series, Death in Paris, I have to say she has outdone herself!

Best friends Rachel and Magda are at it again after being persistent amateur sleuths and beating the police in solving a murder in the first book of the series Death in Paris.  This time when dining at a small cafe Rachel stumbles across the body of a male librarian from the Bibliothèque National.  Reuniting with Capitaine Boussicault, she is thrilled when he asks her to go undercover as a volunteer at the library to observe after a previous murder had occurred as well. Rachel is thrilled to be given the opportunity, unfortunately, Magda feels left out when the mission is only for Rachel.  Although just meant to observe Rachel gets pulled deeper into the investigation which appears to be linked to missing antiquarian illustrations.  After overstepping boundaries Rachel eventually gets dismissed by the police but is determines to solve the crime needing her best friend Magda’s help.  Working together they work to solve the two murders.

After reading several very “heavy” books this was a fun and intriguing cozy murder mystery which kept me guessing to the very end.  I was sure I knew who did it but was left second-guessing after coming across some very cleverly placed red herrings. I also love the quirky, flawed and very fun characters that Ms Bernhard has created.

This book would be great as a stand-alone, but I do recommend reading the first as it is also a fantastic read, both I feel are suitable for most ages.  A fun, brilliant read that will keep you turning pages!