Tag Archive | Santa Barbara California

Woman and writer on the Verge

I’m a woman on the verge

Women on the Verge is a wonderful community of women, not afraid to speak their minds, coming from all walks of life and spread over the world. All wonderful women with stories to tell, experiences to share and most of all very supportive of each other.

It is an honour to be part of this wonderful community. I’d never joined one before but I’m glad I was introduced to WOTV. Wish I had more time to chat to all of them and in particular  Ana, it’s been a funny year, so much happening !I created my first post on their site, never realising how much I’d love it and how liberating it would be.

I’ve always found writing a good way to exorcise pain. As a novelist I write fiction, although there’s a little piece in me in everything I write and I don’t mean the blood, sweat and tears…Writing blogs posts on WOTV prompted me to start my own blog. Sharing experiences and pain lightened my soul and it’s amazing the response you get when you opened to people.

I’ve often been in tears because of it. Even if you only help one person by writing about abuse, heartache, grief… it’s a blessing. We all have a voice and experiences to share, it’s a powerful and amazing way to help each others.Long live women on the verge!
So go have a look :


This is a repost as Elle is not well. Thank you for all the good wishes.
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Once a victim, always a victim?

My new novel follows a British student as she leaves her past behind her to go and study in California. Make no mistake, Natasha is a go-getter, a fighter, not a victim.

Abuse is ugly and all too often an assumption takes place, labels stick. Once a victim, always a victim? Abused children go on to replicate what was done to them?

I don’t think so. Yes, of course it does happen, but a difficult upbringing is never an excuse and many of us do go on to become loving parents. Perhaps it makes us better parents, I don’t know but for those who recover and break the cycle life becomes a constant search to better ourselves, a perpetual discovery and lightbulb moments.  For even after all these years you suddenly get a better understanding of past events and with life experience you might understand, not excuse, what pushed people to act the way they did but also to understand you were not the only one, that it didn’t happen because of something you did.

Whatever happens to us, we have a choice, we can turn our lives around instead of seeing ourselves as victims.

In Nowhere Left to Hide, Natasha has to fight her childhood ghosts. She’s had to run away many times, she knows what it is to live in fear and run away in the night.

When she’s offered the opportunity to study in Santa Barbara she does not hesitate despite being warned of the challenge ahead of her. She doesn’t even consider it a challenge, rather she sees her chance to be free and seizes it.

Being so far away from her tormentors and her fears she can finally be herself and shake off the labels. She makes friends and falls in love. The big question is: can she conquer her last fear?

An interview with Molly Hacker

This interview was such fun, loved doing it. I highly recommend my friend Lisette Brodey’s blog.

Do check it out: Too picky?…I think not!

My special guest this week is author Elle Amberley. Although a British author, Elle likes to dabble in French too and hopes to resume work on her French novel when time allows. She also enjoys writing articles on women’s issues and whatever she feels passionate about.

Hi, Elle. It’s an honor to have you as my guest this week. Please, tell the cool peeps about yourself.

I’m British. I love reading and writing. I am passionate and engaged. Most importantly I’m a mum to two lovely children.

How interesting that you have lived in many countries from an early age. How has that experience molded you into the person you are today?

It has given me a love for different cultures and languages but also means I find it hard to settle anywhere. I’m not sure how much of it has influenced my eccentric side.

I probably look at issues from a different angle and more empathy as I understand the difference between cultures.

You write in many different styles — both fiction and non-fiction. Tell us more about your writing.

I love writing and the freedom to write different things in different styles. I’m not one to fit into boxes and I don’t like to be restricted.

When it comes to non-fiction I mostly write articles in a knee-jerk reaction, issues that I’m passionate about.

In a recent blog post on your website, you wrote an interesting post called “Should we mourn the end of chick-lit?” Can you tell us about your feelings on the term “chick-lit” vs. “women’s fiction?”

LOL, I feel quite strongly about this. I certainly don’t like the term “chick-lit”, although I have nothing against that genre. Many women authors find themselves patronised in that way and resent the label especially if they feel their novel has nothing to do with the genre. Others will argue that we should not have such label as “women’s fiction” either.

I loathe labels and stereotypes of any kind but I recognise the need to label books for marketing purposes. Like it or not.

That said as a reader I don’t look at the genre and am quite open-minded about what I read.

Tell us about your novel, Nowhere Left to Hide.

Natasha is a young British student. She is tired of running scared and when offered the chance to study in California she jumps at the chance.

She finds love and friendship away from the ghosts of her childhood. But what will she do when her visa expires and her boyfriend asks her to marry him?

Santa Barbara holds a piece of my heart and became a life-changing experience for me. So, when Natasha popped up in my head, demanding to be written, I knew this was the place for her. A safe place, away from harm, where she could relax and drop her guard, find and be herself.

Natasha is very special to me because we share similar experiences. However, I did not want to write a story that was merely about living in fear. I wanted to show that many of us who have gone through dreadful events do get stronger, that we can all break the cycle. Sartre said that we always have a choice. Indeed how we react is up to us, we can lie down as victims or pick ourselves up, live to see another day and grow from it

This has been the story of my life. As a young child I thought of ending it all, I did not know the term “suicide” then but I knew about finality and deliverance. As an adult, grieving many years later I came close to that feeling again, although this time I just wanted to slide away. Being in so much pain that you want it stop just for a minute, but having too many responsibilities to allow this selfish act of giving up. Only two little blond heads carrying you through another day but enough already, that’s another storyline altogether.

Social media helps us make extraordinary connections, but it has a downside for many. What are your thoughts about the pros and cons of social media? Any advice for those struggling to use it effectively?

I’m by no means an expert. I have made such extraordinary connections that I’m very grateful about. People whom I would otherwise never have met.

When I started out on Twitter I never imagined I’d end up with nearly 4000 followers, especially since I used a pseudonym. It was only supposed to be a bit of fun with some friends of mine and my husband. Little by little I found some great people and it’s grown from there. I particularly like the fact so many writers are on it.

I’d always said I wouldn’t go on Facebook, yet, I’m on there too. My publisher nagged me about this and also insisted I used my pen name. I am stubborn but occasionally I do listen.

The advice I’d give? Be nice and don’t believe everything you read. Not every self-proclaimed expert is what he/she says. Don’t forget life and if you’re a writer, focus on that. Yes, I hear it’s all about platform but if you waste all your time on social media, what’s going to happen with your writing?

The world of publishing is changing so rapidly. It’s hard to keep up. Any thoughts about the ever-evolving landscape? Predictions?

It is hard. I believe people will always want to read and hear good stories. Ebooks are catching up but I still prefer paperbacks.

You said that you’re shy, but no so in the right environment. Can you elaborate? As an author, what do you do to overcome your shyness?

Me and my big mouth! I get very nervous when I do interviews or any public engagements. I haven’t found the magic trick to overcome that, I shake and wish to run away. I’m all right if people are friendly and start talking to me, it’s the first contact I dread. Otherwise it helps if somebody holds my hand, literally. I’ve done some interviews where my husband was right there by my side. OK, OK, don’t say it!

But saying that, I’m not scared to stand my ground. I have been in scary situations and roared very loudly, then shook and whimpered when it was over.

Elle’s private universe


Elle’s writing grotto — “Maybe I’m a hermit,” she says.

I was intrigued to learn that you’ve had to start your life over a few times. What was that like?

Scary and liberating. In the first instance I had to run away when I was a teenager and I lived in fear, it never really goes away completely.

Also, I nearly died a few years back. I don’t know how I survived, some instinct. Had it not been for my family, I would not have cared. I lost my unborn baby in the process. It was one of those moments where I wished I could have slid away and come back to life again. Which I sort of did, over a period of time.

When did you first develop your love of reading and how did it progress over the years?

I cannot remember a time when I was not reading. Apparently I picked up a book, aged three, and that was it. I haven’t stopped since. When living in France I was so desperate to read I picked up books from the local libraries and picked up the language.

Please tell us what it’s like to homeschool your children.

Rewarding, exciting, exhausting and time-consuming.

What do you hope to know in five years that you don’t know now?

How to do everything in record time and not be a perfectionist.

I’ve been forever called picky, but I maintain that we’re all picky creatures. What are you picky about?

I like things to be put away properly, I can’t sit down if I see something out of place and I can’t stand rude people…OK, stop me now.

Where can people find you online?

Elle’s Website
Amazon UK

Any parting words for the masses? Any shameless plugs?

I hope you will have liked finding out a bit more about me and enjoy what I do.
Come and check me out, I always enjoy interacting with readers.

Thanks again for the interview, it’s been a pleasure.

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Living in fear, and writing about it

Living in fear, and writing about it


Elle Amberley

Having your name out there in public can be a frightening thing for some, especially for us denizens of the internet. Mother and author Elle Amberley talks about fighting that fear and coming out as a writer and about her new book Nowhere Left To Hide.

This madness possessing me, the one that stops me in my tracks, forcing me to write, so compulsive and obsessive.

I’m a mum first and then an author. I’ve been very good at hiding the writer side of me for the last few years using a pen name and keeping my private life well out of my professional life.

So why am I coming out now under a new pen name? Why was I not content with being known as the hermit author on the other side of the Atlantic?

I’ve stopped being a wuss? Well, let’s just say when I started I was scared, I had been living in fear for years. I broach this in my latest novel but also I’ve been talking more publicly about my own experience and grown more confident.


Imagine living in fear for most of your life, your first memory being of terror. Dreaming night after night of escape plans, only to be woken up by your worst nightmare.

Writing has been a wonderful healing process and talking about it helps, sharing with others has surprising rewarding benefits. I still have lightbulb moments when I get a better understanding of past events, where I can see how people are sometimes driven to do what they do, or fail to (re)act.

Furthermore, time has passed and the nasties have got older, time to let go of the childhood ghosts. As a teenager I ran for my life, I escaped several times until I realised I had to go further away in order to get on with my life. This time I escaped for good and ended up on the other side of the world.

I always find it easier to express myself through my writing and also on my own blog than on other people’s. I suffer from the Great British reserve and fear to be seen as a “look at me” type. Truth is I really suck at promoting myself. But I’ve been asked to do interviews and nudged to go on Facebook. God, I was dreading that and yet, in only three months I have a fantastic group of friends and so much support.


So this is how I came to write Natasha’s story. It is not my story although there are similarities. I wanted to show “victims” do not have to accept labels, we can all break the cycle. Sartre said that we always have a choice. Indeed how we react is up to us, we can lay down as victims or pick ourselves up, live to see another day and grow from it.

Nowhere Left to Hide is not a sad story, but a positive one. You will not find graphic details in my book but you will meet a strong woman who is determined to turn her life around. She is not a victim, she’s a fighter and a go-getter.

Writing for me is fun, it’s what I enjoy the most. I can write anywhere, I even have to stop the car sometimes to get hold of my notebook. Nobody around me bats an eyelid, well not the people who know me anyway. The others I wouldn’t notice, my head is down, I’m in my own universe.

Characters speak to me and yes, I used to fear for my sanity. Is this normal, and what is normal anyway?

The good news is men in white coats have not come to take me away yet. A friend of mine, who also happened to be a novelist, once told me “You’re not mad, you’re creative.”

I like the sound of that, that’s my excuse anyway.

I’m always very happy to hear from readers or fellow writers. You’re very welcome to follow me on Elle Amberley Twitter and Elle Amberley Facebookwhere you will find updates and details of book signings.

Nowhere Left to Hide now on Amazon


About the author

Although she is a British author, Elle Amberley likes to dabble in French too and hopes to resume work on her French novel when time allows. She also enjoys writing articles on women’s issues and whatever she feels passionate about, as well as poetry. A follow up to Nowhere Left to Hide is due for publication in Spring 2012.


Nowhere left to hide Elle Amberley

Nowhere Left to Hide by Elle Amberley 

Described as “A heartfelt tale, told with a deft touch” by novelist Rowan Coleman.

Sometimes sad, sometimes funny, sometimes romantic, this much awaited novel is a story of hope, fighting against the odds & the determination to do the right thing.


‘Lyrical from start to finish, Elle Amberley embraces the essence of women and friendship in Nowhere Left to Hide. Natasha, a young poet and writer, is wise beyond her years, as she lets us accompany her on her year long journey from England to the sunny coast of Southern California as she finds courage, her true calling and love.’ Ana Lewis, Founder, WomenontheVerge.net


This post was originally posted here : Guest post on Heather Sunderland

Please visit Heather’s wonderful blog, many thanks to her for hosting me.


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NOWHERE LEFT TO HIDE / An extract for Thanksgiving


Natasha loved the concept of Thanksgiving, everyone coming together to give thanks. She appreciated the meaning of it upon finding out what an important holiday it was in America. Many guests had invaded Tyler’s house, all very friendly. She already knew some of them, like Judy, the neighbour from across the road who was a regular visitor to the house.

Here it didn’t matter if she was shy, people were interested in her and actively sought out her company. There was no ice to break in California, unlike at home where you could have stood in your little corner for ages with no one to talk to.

The usual British questions flowed in a regular stream, curiosity abounded. ‘You’re a gutsy lady,’ commented the woman she’d been talking to. ‘Imagine, coming all the way over here on your own, not knowing a soul.’

Funny, thought Natasha, how all these people referred to her as gutsy. A word she had never even heard of before coming here. What was so brave about her, she wondered. Not one of them had a clue what she had been running away from.

Natasha and Tyler had helped Susan decorate oranges with cloves the night before, setting the scene for the celebrations ahead.

The feast prepared by Susan centred not around a turkey, as tradition called for, but a crispy roast duck accompanied by a spinach salad and mashed potatoes. Susan explained she had wanted to do something different. Wasn’t one turkey enough in a year? Who wanted to cook one for Thanksgiving and then again for Christmas?

Natasha, sitting between Tyler and Judy, was so inundated with questions, she didn’t feel like eating, rather she nibbled like she often did.

When it came to puddings though, Natasha couldn’t ignore the sounds of her tummy rebelling at the lack of food. She politely declined the pumpkin pie. Traditional or not, it didn’t appeal to her. Her eyes rested on the more familiar apple and pecan pies before settling on a slice of chocolate meringue pie. Good choice, she thought and well worth going hungry for, as the pastry melted in her mouth, oozing chocolate.

Mike and Kirsten arrived as they were finishing their desserts and the four of them retreated to Tyler’s bedroom to chat and listen to music, but not before Mike helped himself to a generous portion of pecan pie.

‘Let’s hit the shops tomorrow Nat, we can get our pressies sorted,’ suggested Kirsten excitedly.

‘Yeah right, not on Black Friday,’ said Tyler, rolling his eyes.

‘What on earth is Black Friday?’ asked Natasha puzzled. Surely it had nothing to do with Black Monday.

‘One of America’s greatest traditions, that’s what it is. Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving and marks the start of the shopping season.’

‘You mean for Christmas?’

‘Yep, that’s right.’

‘Kirsten, you can’t take Nat to the mall on that day, it’s murder out there.’

‘Oh come on Ty, you’re exaggerating.’


NOWHERE LEFT TO HIDE signed copies available here, reduced shipping fee for the US 🙂

Or click on the buttons on the right-hand side to connect to amazon.

Thank you, hope you all have a great Thanksgiving.


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