Chilling with Books October 2023

Spotlight on Barbara Strickland, Indie Author and on the unexpected

In recent times I have become extremely aware of the frequency of the word or expression unexpected in my life but in particular with other book titles out in that big wide universe. I did have an inkling, more than an inkling that the word might haunt me, but life’s realities are often unexpected, and it felt right to use those words as part of my series title and the books themselves.

The opportunity to write and publish arrived unexpectedly when I had almost given up on dreams. Looking through photos of my travels I knew I had to use those experiences and so I have, more so in this second book. That’s me in the photo in Florence’s market place. He captured me very well, I think. Actually, his impression scares me and so does this. This month the spotlight is on me and my unexpected second book, a book that has taken me a long time to complete but is finally alive and kicking.

Why so long? Good question. I wanted to continue writing contemporary romance, but I wanted to go deeper with a sense of reality, of possibilities when the heart is open despite the mind getting in the way. As an avid reader myself I wanted other readers to think this could happen to them – there is always a time and place for possibilities. If there isn’t then generally it is because we set up some kind of roadblock and usually that wall we build has a name – fear. I wrote that into the book.

A recent reviewer made an interesting point. She said she wanted to crack heads together. Well, so do two of the peripheral characters. However, wrongly or rightly, each individual has to make up their own mind and risk being wrong. It’s why I wrote the book the way I did. I didn’t want a fairy tale; I wanted possibilities if we allow them.

red stop sign
Photo by Pixabay on

Lexie is resilient and that resilience comes because she maintains her sense of humour in a world of painful events, and she is afraid to risk herself despite wanting the fairy tale. His history is also painful and so he has concentrated on what he thinks he should have in life. Doubts plague them just like mine do as a writer. Mine come with a stop sign I finally ignored.

Part contemporary romance with a touch of drama and lots of humour, a feisty female lead, a male who thinks he knows it all and an Italian and Greek setting sums up Unexpected Passion, Book 2 in my Unexpected Love series. Fears or not, it’s up there waiting to be read. I have to get over myself and let readers decide the outcome. Just to give you an idea about my two lead actors in this new drama, here is a poem I wrote for them that featured in a post not so long ago called Distractions of the Heart.

Unexpected Obsession

Unexpected Passion

Barb’s news:

The world around me

This has been a blur this month of technical hiccups, but my cacti garden is coming along nicely. The hacks I tried from Instagram though have not been successful and I am so disappointed. Both the one where you put chillies inside a banana skin and plant it, and the other one where you plant date seeds have been dismal failures. I don’t have a green thumb. Easy fix. I am sticking to the cacti.

Books I’ve read and Films I watched.

My comments in this section are not meant as a review. Reviews are an entirely separate issue and not something I do on my blog. I just present unexpected discoveries I have made when reading, watching or re-watching films.


My choices this month were all so different this time from my normal reads, but I am so glad I took the time. They are fascinating reads.

Everyone in this room will Someday be dead – Emily Austin

I debated so much on whether I like this but the one thing I was sure about was that it deserved a maximum rating. The more I read, the more it got to me. It made me think about the way we make our lives so hard. Humans can suck in their behaviour and it’s not so much about them not accepting differences as the fact that those people are just not nice people. This was the point made in this book – dark but hard-hitting truths and for this alone, the book deserved five stars.

Chai Time at Cinnamon Gardens – Shankari Chandran

Another book to make us reflect. Though dealing with Tamil history, it is really a story that can be applied to many group of people including my own parents. They too were immigrants and adjusting to life here in Australia was not easy. When I turned the last page I was disappointed because I could have, would have kept reading more. Another book to make us consider what humans are capable of – not always good things but sometimes they can surprise us with the extraordinary.

The Invisible Women’s Club – Helen Paris

Uncertain as to whether I would like this book, I took a chance. It grew on me with each turn of the page until I couldn’t stop. The characters also grow on you particularly Janet who in the beginning, is the neighbour from hell. What we think we see is not always the case. Love books about so much more than surface appearances.



Just the one but Canola broke my heart with its beauty. If you can find it, get this beautiful South Korean film. I glanced at my television, meaning only to glance, and stayed motionless on my soda until the end. It is about family being so much more than blood. You will know by now if you have read my Unexpected Love Series that that last line is a real thing for me. I believe we can forge bonds that go beyond blood and this one about a grandma and her ‘granddaughter’ was a wow. Not even the fantasy element at the end could break the bond between film and my engagement with the emotions. Canola had no image to be found but if you manage to see this film then make sure you wait till the very end when the story, in a series of beautiful paintings, scrolls slowly to win and break your heart again.

Special note:  I should have done this on my combined July/August chilling corner. My apologies and appreciation for your images to Nick Abrams for the tortoise, to Jessica Johnston for the chocolates and Elisa Stone for the hare.

Alla prossima,


If you are feeling kindly disposed, remember to check out my books

Unexpected Obsession

Unexpected Passion

Emotions in Eruption

Emotions in Evolution

Emotions in Existence

The Emotions Anthology Box Set

Questions for me? Want to share your views and ideas? I’d love to hear from you. Liking and commenting will keep me working harder. Reviews of any books I have featured, including my own would be much appreciated. It helps writers become better writers. Consider leaving one at your place of purchase (click on the appropriate book links below for my books) or click on Goodreads if that is your preference. Thank you either way.

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  1. I can’t imagine the excitement of publishing a book Barb. As for trying hacks from Instagram, it seems to be no different than recipes, they stink! I can never figure out how they go viral.

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