Magical Mystery Tour: Part III #Travel #America

Magical Mystery Tour Part IIIWelcome to the final instalment of my magical mystery tour. If you haven’t yet discovered my excitable posts about Celebration, Disney Springs, and Florida then you can follow the links below:

Magical Mystery Tour: Part I

Magical Mystery Tour: Part II

When my cousin moved to Bentonville, Arkansas eighteen months ago, I had to buy a map to find out where she was going. It wasn’t a state that I was familiar with. In my defence, I’m pretty bad at remembering where all the English counties are too, so not knowing anything about Arkansas shouldn’t come as a shock!

Following our Disney-tastic antics at the Magic Kingdom, I thought this would be the more sedate part of our trip – how wrong I was. There is so much to do in and around the beautiful town of Bentonville, home of Walmart.

We arrived in Northwest Arkansas after a slight delay (our plane wouldn’t work so we were taken off one and moved to another!). Straight away I was blown away by how green the area was. The drive to my cousin’s apartment allowed me to take in the sites (and grab a fabulous wrap and salad from Taziki’s).

Unfortunately, my cousin had to work on Thursday, so my aunt and I were left to our own devices, something I’m fairly sure Becky won’t let us do ever again. Let’s just say the local’s will remember us when we return! We started the day with a lovely walk and a gorgeous pie from Fork & Crust, and then hit the shopping centre. I’m now totally hooked on Bath & Body Works products (and gutted that we can’t get them here in the UK!) and we’re also BFF’s with the fabulous staff in Versona, Luna, and P.F. Chang’s.

We finished the day off with an incredible experience thanks to Becky’s friend, Alex, who took us out on his boat around Beaver Lake. Now, when I say lake, I mean LAKE, this place makes Lake Windermere look like a puddle! It’s located in the Ozark Mountains and has 487 miles of natural shoreline. Beautiful just doesn’t cover it. The bonus of a stunning sunset, Ed Sheeran playing in the background, great company, and a slap up Mexican meal once back on dry land made this night my favourite of the holiday. I also got to taste re-fried beans which is something else I can now tick off my bucket list.

We were up and out early the next day as we headed to Devil’s Den State Park. This place is a natural treasure trove with miles of trails winding through the lush oak-hickory forest. As we hiked our way along one of the trails we felt like something out of an Indiana Jones movie, slashing at the spider webs that strung across our path – it was all worth the squeamish yelps and spider-jig as we emerged at the overlook. Words failed me – yes, you read that right – words failed me! The view was absolutely stunning. I experienced yet another bucket list moment as I swung my legs off the end of the world and breathed in the forest air. My aunt couldn’t watch as I shuffled my way to the edge under the supervision of my cousin. I was so glad I did it as I looked out over the blanket of treetops and Lee’s creek winding through the forest far below me.

Saturday is well known in the area for Bentonville’s Farmer’s Market, so we headed to the town square and enjoyed milling around the stalls and shops. I loved watching the ice-cream eating contest and would have put money on the one guy hurling before they announced the winner! The main square is also home to the first Walmart store and the Walmart museum. It was so interesting to learn about Sam Walton and how he built the Walmart (Asda) empire from such humble beginnings.

In the evening we met up with Becky’s friends to attend a local art and music event at Crystal Bridges Museum – Chihuly: In the Forest. This incredible event combined live entertainment with a stunning exhibition of glass art which was displayed throughout the local woodland. We walked through the exhibit as the sun set and the stars emerged, listening to live music drifting through the trees. I also got to tick off another bucket list item when I spotted fire flies in the woods. It was a truly magical evening.

We headed back into Bentonville town square on Sunday for the incredibly popular brunch at Table Mesa Bistro. I’ve never seen so much food in one place! You pay per head and can fill up your plate as many times as you like. There was a huge choice from freshly made omelettes, fajitas, pastries, right through to deep fried chicken and waffles (not potato waffles, but pancake waffles and yes, I had them, and they were delicious).

Once our bellies were full, we returned to Crystal Bridges to look around the main museum rather than the woodland where we’d spent the previous evening. The art is pretty amazing, and there is a lovely restaurant area which you can hire out for weddings and events. The giant spider was like something out of Harry Potter! From here we headed off to Thorncrown Chapel, nestled in a beautiful woodland setting. The church is an incredible wooden and glass structure, forty-eight feet high with 425 windows and over 6,000 square feet of glass. Since opening its doors in 1980, the chapel has welcomed over six million visitors, and I can understand why. Despite the relatively busy influx of people, this place was like a haven of peace and tranquillity. Sitting on the wooden pews and soaking in the atmosphere was soothing for the soul.

Feeling fully restored and meditative we left Thorncrown Chapel and drove to Eureka Springs. Before heading off on my magical mystery tour I read a wonderful blog post by Tiffany, one of my favourite travel bloggers, all about Eureka Springs, you can read it HERE. She does a fabulous job of describing the amazing things you can do here.

The highlight of Eureka Springs, for me, was when we took a tram (red route) and visited Crescent Hotel which is America’s most haunted hotel. The views from the observation deck are pretty amazing. As is the view down the flights of stairs where some guests checked out…literally! If I do return to this part of Arkansas, then I’m booking on one of the ghost tours! According to the staff, there is a particular ghost who, if she doesn’t like the look of you, packs your suitcase as a way of telling you to leave. So cool!

Our time in Arkansas came to an end, and we made ready to fly back to Winter Park in Florida for a couple of days before heading home. I can honestly say I didn’t want to leave. I haven’t covered everything we did and saw while in the area in this post but merely included the highlights. Bentonville is a beautiful town and well worth a visit. I can’t wait to go back again.

Here are links to just some of the incredible places we went should you ever find yourself in the area:

The Walmart Museum –

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art –

Thorncrown Chapel –

Crescent Hotel –

Fork & Crust Pie Company –

Taziki’s –

Wilson & Wilson True American Art –

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my magical mystery tour. This wasn’t just a holiday, it was an experience that nourished my soul and swept away a lot of the anxiety I’ve been carrying around for the past few years. To say it opened my eyes to how I want my life to be is an understatement. It’s too easy to get bogged down by real life stuff, social media, and negativity, but this trip proved to me that switching off completely is not only refreshing but necessary. Until next year!

Thanks for visiting my blog, I hope you enjoyed this post. Want more? Connect with me here:  Twitter @ShelleyWilson72, Instagram or check out my Facebook pages and You can also find me on Pinterest

Meet Fantasy Author @KamVerdee #Fantasy #YA

I love finding new authors, especially when they write YA fantasy which is my favourite genre. Imagine my delight when I discovered YA author, Kam Verdee, and then found out she was a fellow Birmingham lass.

Kam Virdee Publicity Photo

After a small amount of stalking (on my part!) I managed to convince Kam to join me on my blog for a chat about her writing, love of fantasy dramas, and her latest book, Heera Watson and the Rise of the Dark King. Over to Kam.

The Fun Stuff:

What part of the world do you come from?

Yes, I’m a fellow Brummie! I’ve lived in Great Barr, Birmingham all my life, and in the same house would you believe for the past thirty four years, and I have no plans as yet to move out of the city.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be many things to be honest. For the most part in secondary school, I had my heart set out on manufacturing and designing my own cosmetic brand. I used to call it being a Make-up Scientist (of course that profession doesn’t exist) but I was going to show all my friends what a great Make-up brand I would be able to create. Funny enough, when we were given work experience placements from school for a day, I was sent to HSBC bank, and I didn’t like it one bit. BUT, little did I know, I’d end up building a career in the banking industry years later. It’s funny how things can work out.

List three words to describe yourself.

Ambitious, Loyal, Hardworking

Who would play you in a film about your life?

I’d love Helena Bonham Carter to play me because not only is she a talented actress, but she’s different, and there’s something very dark and mystical in the way she acts in movies. When she played Bellatrix in the Harry Potter franchise, I was probably the only one rooting for her! (Nope, I was a secret Bellatrix fan too, Kam!) 😉

What’s your favourite snack food when writing?

I don’t tend to snack when I’m writing, but I am rarely seen without a big mug of either coffee or lemon green tea.

If you had a super power, what would it be?

I’d love to have the ability to travel anywhere in the world just by thinking of a particular destination. When I want a bit of me time, I’d think of a deserted, tropical island, and with a click of the fingers… tada… I’d be there.

Heera Watson full cover 3

The Sensible Side:

Tell us a little about yourself. (How did you get started writing?  What do you do when you’re not writing?)

I began to write as a way of escape really when things weren’t going so well in my life. I suffered with depression for a long time, and I knew I had to divert my mind somewhere else. I’d go up to bed early and put pen to paper and began to write about a young girl who had to face her own challenges, and the more I wrote about the girl, who ultimately would become Heera, the better I was coping with keeping my anxiety at bay.

When I’m not writing, I’m always either watching some sort of American fantasy drama or film or spending time with my family and friends. I also love to listen to music, and I pick the genre depending on my mood so it varies from Rock, RNB to Hip Hop. If I didn’t have any of these things in my life, I wouldn’t know what to do.

Where did the inspiration for Heera Watson and the Rise of the Dark King come from?

I’d have to say from the Harry Potter books. When I found myself feeling low, the Harry Potter books transported me to a magical world, where Kam’s problems simply vanished for a short space of time. And when things became really bad, I wanted to relive that magic again but from my own perspective, so I created a character, gave her a name, and described how she feels, where she lives and what challenges she must face. Like the Harry Potter books, I wanted to write a book which helped me to escape to another world and fall in love with all of the different characters you meet along the way… even the baddies too.

What do you like the most about writing young adult fantasy?

I love the fact that there is no limit to your imagination when writing about the different types of creatures, characters or plots in this genre. I also like to highlight issues of what young adults are facing at the moment such as bullying, low self-esteem and the constant pressure to fit in with the ‘in’ crowd, and just because it’s a fantasy book, doesn’t mean you can’t talk about these topics.

Just like me, you’re a fan of fantasy dramas. Which one is your favourite? Do you draw inspiration from these kind of shows?

As you probably know by now I love all things fantasy and supernatural, and my favourite TV series is called, wait for it… Supernatural, where you can see two brothers, Sam and Dean Winchester (they’re very easy on the eye so that helps) hunt monsters, ghouls and other mystical creatures. I do find inspiration from these types of shows because the writers and producers also bring humour, love, family dynamics and romance into the episodes, keeping the viewers on their toes, and this is something I bring into my writing as well. In that way, there is a little bit of something for everyone in my book, and the reader won’t want to put the book down as the plot twists are revealed from chapter to chapter.


DEFINITELY easy on the eye, Kam!!


Heera is a great protagonist. Where did your character inspiration come from?

I feel there is a lot of pressure on youngsters these days to look, dress and act in certain ways, especially when it comes to following celebrities on social media like Facebook and Instagram. I use both these platforms, and images of celebrities looking flawless are constantly put on display and it’s hard to ignore this. With Heera, I wanted a character who was faced with this type of pressure to look and act a certain way, but she doesn’t follow the crowd. She just wants to be herself, and in saying that, I wanted Heera to be a bit like me. Being a British Asian woman, you are expected to have certain beliefs, act a certain way, but I have never conformed to pressure and I refuse to let anyone change who I am. Heera is like any normal teenager, and when she knows what she can achieve, she becomes strong, independent and a great role model for young adults.

Can you give us a brief excerpt from Heera Watson and the Rise of the Dark King?

‘NO! That’s not Mrs Mead… something’s wrong with her. Look at her eyes!’ How could he not see the scarlet eyes transfixed on me? I tried to pull away from him so I could run out of the office, and it was only then I saw his eyes flash red. ‘You’re quite right, Heera. Mrs Mead is not really here, and I am not actually Mr Powers… he is somewhat indisposed,’ he grinned. He grabbed my hand and wouldn’t let me go, while his other hand was placed firmly over my mouth. I could feel him pushing me towards Mrs Mead, who was now leering at me.

Within seconds, I felt a cold rush of air surrounding me, and in the next moment, I dropped to the floor with the sheer force of something hitting me. I slid away from Mr Powers, who lay knocked out cold on the office floor. Lena and Kal were standing over him. Lena was holding a wand. It was dark brown, carved and appeared to be smooth, and the tip, although blunt, was drawing smoke. Could it have been a spell that hit me? It couldn’t be… I mean what was I thinking?

Kal helped me up. I blinked several times trying to fathom out what was going on because I had only seen wands in movies and read about them in books, and I knew what I was seeing couldn’t be real. I had to be dreaming.

What can we expect from you in the future? 

I am currently writing my second book in the series. Heera Watson will definitely have to face more challenges, and I’ll let readers know when it’s due for release. I have many other book ideas I’d like to pursue as well, but my main focus is writing this second book before I can think of another project to delve into.

How can we contact you or find out more about your books?

Facebook Page:




BUY a copy of Heera Watson and the Rise of the Dark King today –

Amazon UK


Amazon US

KAm - HW book and phone


Heera Watson is like any ordinary fifteen-year-old girl…not! Torn between the British way of life and her Indian heritage, she’s the target of catty comments at school in Birmingham from Laura Foster, the ‘It’ girl at St Claire’s, and her gang. Heera is constantly pressured at school to look and dress in certain ways, but all she has ever wanted is to be herself. Her journey to becoming the person she really wants to be starts when she finds three sacred crystals in a safe at home. This discovery puts thousands of lives in danger, and catapults Heera into a mind-blowing quest through the magical kingdom of Fallowmere. There, forging new friendships with people and creatures she never imagined could exist, Heera bravely confronts deadly challenges to save her loved ones from the devious Dark King, who will stop at nothing to carry out his evil schemes. Heera Watson and the Rise of the Dark King is a wonderfully imaginative tale of courage, friendship, battle and what it means to face your true destiny.

Author Bio:

Kam Verdee was born in 1983 and currently works and lives in Birmingham with her family. Kam has always had a passion to write, and after establishing a successful career in banking, Kam began to write her debut novel, Heera Watson and the Rise of the Dark King, which she worked on for three years. Besides writing, Kam’s life revolves around her family, listening to music, and enjoying British and American fantasy TV dramas.

Thanks for visiting my blog, I hope you enjoyed this post. Want more? Connect with me here:  Twitter @ShelleyWilson72, Instagram or check out my Facebook pages and You can also find me on Pinterest

Interview with Actress, Natalie Edwards PLUS #WritingCompetition

Recently I shared a post about the Enter.Stage.Write 2017 writing competition. You can read that post HERE. Today, I’m delighted to introduce the founder of this event, and glamorous New York actress, Natalie Edwards, who has agreed to pop over for a chat about her career, Transition Stage Company, and supporting aspiring screen writers. Over to Natalie.


The Fun Stuff:

What part of the world do you come from?


What did you want to be when you grew up?  

I always wanted to be an actor, but didn’t have the confidence to commit until I was 27, so I worked as a model, but did many jobs such as event planning and even personal training

List three words to describe yourself.

Driven, scatty, glamorous

Who would play you in a film about your life?

Dorothy Dandridge (if she was alive) Catherine Deneuve in younger years

If you had a super power, what would it be?

Telepathic reading minds …. I feel like have this already very good at reading human behaviour and energy Acting gives you a fantastic emotional intelligence

The Sensible Side:

Tell us a little about yourself. (How did you get started in your acting career?  What do you do when you’re not performing?)

When I am not performing I know it sounds cliché … I will be in the gym, working in promotion, event planning job and most importantly working in my new start up production called Transition Stage company

Where did the inspiration for Enter.Stage.Write come from? 

I was sick of going to Networking events in Birmingham and also being invited to think tank events asking how we can help BAME and Minority actors, I found these events patronising and a waste of time. I don’t really like to be labelled. I suddenly realised the only way to create equality of opportunity is through opening up to writers! The writers are the most important component

Your business, Transition Stage Company, began in New York City to provide a platform through theatre, cinema, and events. What do you love most about working with visual artists?

I am like a child, I don’t ever want to lose the art of play, so I get really turned on organising and creating events and incorporating the arts! that’s my thing! I love bringing people together and the fruition of projects and ideas that come from making those connections, I like to see myself as an innovator and that’s the legacy I want leave in this world.


Can you tell us a bit about studying for your MA at the Birmingham School of Acting?

It was absolutely brutal I will be honest, I think I was a nervous wreck for a year combining intense theory and 10 hour days of rehearsal and preparation of particle work. However, the training is of elite quality! It was like running a 100 miles an hour for 12 months, but after that I can do anything and I am mentally prepared for anything. It was not the best experience but the school is very good at what it does and I am proud to be part of that institution.

You have a guest panel of judges made up of industry experts and business and community leaders for the Enter.Stage.Write competition. What are they looking for from the entries?

To be honest I cannot really answer that, as I am not a writer, and I would never judge as it’s not my forte.  But I guess every story has to be captivating and a good pace.  But remember to follow guidelines of script as mentioned on website!

What can we expect from you in the future? 

This Competition is going to get bigger and bigger.  It has real potential to grow.  The plan is to bring it to Cardiff and back to New York and possibly Chicago … but one step at a time.

At the core of this I am an actor and I hope to be working more on my personal acting. I’ve been in the UK for a few years and finally landing shows on BBC – it takes time and if I can give anyone a leg up through my events I would love it!

How can we contact you or find out more about Transition Stage Company and Enter.Stage? Write?

If you have any reservations about anything please contact me or please go to

Listen to Natalie chatting with Radio hosts Sunny and Shay at BBC WM 95.6 (forward to 1:44:00) *listen for the next twenty days*

Thanks for visiting my blog, I hope you enjoyed this post. Want more? Connect with me here:  Twitter @ShelleyWilson72, Instagram or check out my Facebook pages and You can also find me on Pinterest

Magical Mystery Tour: Part II #Travel #America

Last time, I shared my tales from Celebration and Disney Springs (you can read that post HERE), today I want to spread a little fairy dust and invite you to visit Cinderella’s castle as we head to Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Magic Kingdom.

Yes, this is the portion of my trip that was full on Brit-Abroad-Disney-Tastic! Today’s outing was extra special as it was also my cousin’s birthday. After retrieving Becky’s ‘It’s My Birthday’ and my ‘1st Visit’ badges, we were ready to go.

Animal Kingdom was already buzzing when we arrived, swarming with excited children and steadfast park regulars looking to enjoy a day in the Florida sunshine. We rushed off to our first point of call which was the Safari. The queue was averaging at a fifty-minute wait but as we talked, laughed, and jumped into any shade we could find it went reasonably quickly. We finally boarded our rickety windowless wagon and were jostled off onto the trail on the hunt for the park’s inhabitants. We were lucky as all the animals made an appearance for us, from the water wallowing hippos to the king of the jungle. Despite the 92 degrees heat, it seems no-one was camera shy.

Once we disembarked from the Safari bus, we made our way across the park to a brand new attraction. Pandora is based on the world building from the film Avatar and has two new rides and a stunning Valley of Mo’ara setting. It was the middle of the day when we visited, but if you were to pop along at night, then you’d see all the foliage glowing just like in the movie. I have no idea how they made the hanging mountains, but they looked incredible.

From Pandora, we moved to The Pride Lands to watch the Lion King show which was absolutely stunning. The singers were hugely talented, and there was plenty of audience participation involved, so I got to warble out a few Hakuna Matata’s before the end.

Leaving the wild life behind us, we headed off to the second park of the day, Disney’s Magic Kingdom.

I’ve seen thousands of photographs and videos from Disney World, but standing on Main Street in front of the iconic castle is mind blowing and needs to be experienced to understand the magic of it fully. It’s also true that Disney isn’t only for the kids. I was totally spellbound by everything I saw, and although I was wilting under the midday sun, I couldn’t resist waving and yelling to Tinkerbell, Ariel, and Mickey Mouse as the parade rolled past us.

The park was bustling and so the wait times for many of the rides were high. However, this didn’t stop us from joining in. Obviously, I had to pay a visit to Adventureland, home of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride and the Tortuga Inn. Johnny Depp didn’t pay us a visit this time, but that didn’t stop me studying anyone in a hat – just in case!

My favourite part of the day had to be going on Splash Mountain in Frontierland. I’m a huge fan of the log flume, and as the temperature soared, it seemed like a great idea to jump on a water ride. I now believe that the phrase ‘soaked to the skin’ came about after being on Splash Mountain. I haven’t laughed that hard in years.

As it was Becky’s birthday, it seemed quite fitting to stop for an early dinner to celebrate. So, we headed to Crystal Palace, home of the character dining experience. The food was exceptional with a varied choice for both adults and kids (although the kids’ sticky ribs were way better than the adult chicken legs!) The meal is a buffet where you can go back as many times as you like (eek!) with table service for drinks and birthday buns! As you sit in the open plan conservatory, you are joined by the characters from the hundred acre wood. We got to snuggle with Eeyore, Piglet, and Pooh but we had to watch Tigger as he was a bit frisky!

As the day drew to a close, we made our way back to Main Street in time for the fireworks at 9 pm. This is something they do every single night, and it is worth staying to witness. The firework displays were incredible, but there was also the bonus of a new feature. The fireworks are now coordinated with a projected show onto the Disney Castle. It gave me goose bumps to watch the show and see the awestruck faces of the children around me. It all ends with Tinkerbell whooshing from the highest turret in a blaze of fairy dust (via a zip wire I was informed!).

Once the show is over, you get caught up in the swell of thousands of people as they exit the park. It was incredible to see so many people in one place, but the thing I loved the most was the fact everyone was smiling!

A busy day but full of magic, laughter, and fun. Whether you’ve got kids or not, Magic Kingdom is worth a visit.

Next time, I’ll be sharing the next leg of our tour when we flew up to Arkansas.

I hope you’ve enjoyed part II of the Magical Mystery Tour.

Thanks for visiting my blog, I hope you enjoyed this post. Want more? Connect with me here:  Twitter @ShelleyWilson72, Instagram or check out my Facebook pages and You can also find me on Pinterest

Liebster Award #Blogging Fun #MondayBlogs

liebster-awardI’ve been nominated for four awards/tags over the past year but haven’t been able to get around to posting my responses. So, when the lovely Claire from BrizzleLass Books nominated me for the Liebster Award, I knew I had to sort myself out! These posts are great fun and contain different questions, so it’s great to keep them going! If you don’t follow BrizzleLass Books already then I urge you to pop over and take a look, she’s AWESOME!

The Rules:

Thank the person who nominated you and link to their blog
Answer the 11 questions the person asked you
Nominate 11 people (comment on their blog to let them know)
Ask the people you have nominated 11 questions

Here are Claire’s questions for me to answer: Continue reading “Liebster Award #Blogging Fun #MondayBlogs”

Magical Mystery Tour: Part I #Travel #America

A couple of weeks ago I shared a post announcing my imminent departure to America and the resulting radio silence this would entail (you can read that post HERE). I was excited about my trip as it’s been twenty-three years since I last visited the States. Even more exciting was the fact that this was a girls only/no kids/no cat kinda holiday.

I wanted to blog about my Magical Mystery Tour, and I wanted to share some of the incredible places I got to see on a trip that was brimming with inspiration, laughter, and positivity.

To avoid a 10,000-word blog post I’ve decided to write this up as a short series! Pull up a chair, grab a cuppa, and let me share a journey that lit up my soul, rekindled my smile, and filled my heart with joy.

USA 2017 433

The Itinerary.

Before we get going I must just say a HUGE thank you to my aunt and cousin, Vicky and Bex, who were my travelling companions for this trip. In my humble opinion they should venture into organising trips on a professional level as the itinerary they prepared for me was not only delightful but also allowed for impromptu stops at Krispy Kreme for a 10pm snack-attack. Continue reading “Magical Mystery Tour: Part I #Travel #America”

Meet Author Sacha Black @sacha_black #WritingTips

It’s an absolute delight to introduce my next guest to the blog today as she is a popular figure in the blogging community, ‘Boss Lady’ of the Annual Bloggers Bash Awards, and recently published author of the brilliant 13 Steps to Evil writing craft book (you can read my review of the book HERE).

So, without any more waffle, allow me to introduce the very lovely, Sacha Black.

Photo close crop

The Fun Stuff:

What part of the world do you come from?

I was born in London. But spent most of my youth growing up in the countryside a couple of hours north. I went to university in Hertfordshire, and have stayed here ever since. That was 12 years ago, and now Hertfordshire feels like home.

What did you want to be when you grew up? Continue reading “Meet Author Sacha Black @sacha_black #WritingTips”