A Lover of Books

Guest Post by Julie Shackman


The lovely Julie Shackman is back on my blog with another guest post, this time with some very useful tips for writing.


The Write Way!

My tips for writing – even when you don’t feel like it!

  • Get some fresh air first. Looking at people and places around you, can often trigger ideas and creativity.
  • Read something! Pick up the latest novel you’re reading and dive in. I find reading somebody else’s work often helps to kick-start my writing mojo!
  • Go and scribble down anything – random notes; ideas; story-lines; a bit of poetry. Sometimes doing this can just help you get into the flow.
  • Treat yourself to some gorgeous new notebooks (any excuse!) Seeing all those lovely, crisp white pages and decorated covers, will spurn you on to fill them with your latest creations.
  • If you read my Blog or follow me on Twitter, you’ll know that I find it very difficult to write at home – so I go to a local coffee shop instead. A couple of hours sitting writing, people watching and observing can do wonders.
  • Browse around your local Bookshop. Seeing all those lovely, glossy covers can really give you lots of encouragement.
  • Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t write as much one particular day. Any amount of words is progress, so just keep going.

Good Luck, persevere and remember to read and write every day if you can!

Julie Shackman
March 2015.


Interview with Christian Jensen

Book Cover

I would like to introduce Christian Jensen to you.  He is a horror writer and his new novel, ‘Lone Survivor’ will be out soon, published by Booktrope.  Below is my interview with him.


Can you tell me a bit about your upcoming book, ‘Lone Survivor’ please?

It’s about a man trying to survive the apocalypse alone. He knows groups attract too much attention and has seen them fail time and time again. He’s better off alone, doing his own thing. He’s happy, if not a little lonely. Until one day he meets Bigfoot. They start an unlikely partnership that works for them both, until Bigfoot gets bitten by a zombie and turns. Now Jim, our hero, has to fight scores of the living dead, help protect a couple of damaged women that accidentally find him, and kill zombie Bigfoot. The apocalypse can be rough.


Are you working on any other writing projects at the moment?

I’m always working on another project. After Lone Survivor I wrote Demonic Possession in about a week. It was a blast to write and the story just flowed. Right now I’m working on another zombie novel, Prison of the Dead.


You have had so many novels published. How long on average does it take you to write each one?

It depends on the book, but anywhere from one to four weeks for a first draft.


What is your favourite genre?  

Horror has always been my favorite genre. I love reading, writing, watching, and living it.


Where do you get your ideas from?

Everywhere. They pop into my head at the grocery store, while I’m sleeping, eating, talking to people, and pooping. Sometimes it’s a news story or something I read that twists my imagination and gets my muse really turned on. They come from all places at all times.


Do you find yourself having to do much research for your books? 

I try not to because that slows down my process. I try to stick to what I know, but when research is needed I always go as deep as I can into a subject. I want to sound like I know what I’m talking about, so I don’t piss off the reader.


Have you got any good advice for anyone wanting to write their first novel?

Read. Read every day, read more than you write. Write every single day, even if it’s just for 15 minutes or so, set a goal every single day and beat it. Take no days off. Ever. Work tirelessly and strive to create the best worlds and characters you can.


What do you like to do in your spare time?

Spare time? I don’t believe in it. When I have time to myself I read and write. That’s really all I do.


Can you see yourself still writing ten years from now?

I see myself writing until the day I die. I’ll hopefully write my own Eulogy. It’ll be funny and sad.


Who are your favourite authors and have they influenced your writing at all?

Every author I’ve ever read has influenced my writing in some way. I take a little piece of them with me when I finish their books. Some of my favorites (and only some, because this could take hours and dozens of pages) are: Ray Bradbury, H.G. Wells, Falkner, Poe, Collier, Dickens, Kipling, Lovecraft, I can keep going, but those are my classical influences, the old, dead guys that shaped me when I was a kid. Later in life I was introduced to Brian Keene, Johnathon Mayberry, Richard Laymon, Bryan Smith, Jack Ketchum, Wraith James White, and dozens of others. There are still plenty of authors that are influencing me, people that got started in the industry after me are influencing me.



Christian Jensen’s blog – http://www.horrorwritingdaddy.blogspot.com

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/ChrsitanJensenAuthor?fref=ts

Twitter – @Hororwritindad

Blog Tour – ‘Set Me Free’ by Daniela Sacerdoti

Set Me Free Blog Banner

‘Set Me Free’ is Daniela Sacerdoti’s latest novel.  It was published by Black and White Publishing in paperback on the 30th April 2015 and it is also available as an eBook.  I am truly delighted to be a part of this blog tour.  Below is my review and a competition.



Margherita’s marriage seems to be falling apart.  After trying for a baby and not having any success, Margherita and Ash decide to adopt a child.  A few years later Margherita eventually falls pregnant and is naturally over the moon.  However, her husband doesn’t seem to be very pleased with her news and is of very little support to her.

Needing a break and some time away to think things through, Margherita decides to spend the summer in Glen Avich where she can help out at her mum’s new coffee shop.  She also feels that she needs to spend time reconnecting with her adopted daughter and young son.  Glen Avich can have a very strange effect on some people and when Margherita starts working for Torcuil Ramsay at the rather neglected Ramsay Hall things begin to change.  Margherita finds that she is happy and Lara begins a new friendship with a local boy called Mal.  But there is something about him that just doesn’t add up.

I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Set Me Free’ from start to finish.  The prologue which was set in 1916 had me totally intrigued.  Daniela Sacerdoti writes beautifully.  I thought her descriptions of the characters and Glen Avich were wonderful.

Most of the characters were really likeable.  Margherita was just so lovely and kind.  Lara had had a very difficult time of things at the start of her life and Margherita gave her buckets full of love and lots of understanding.  Maybe Ash simply found it hard to be a proper dad, I don’t know, but he sure didn’t deserve to have Margherita as his wife.

I absolutely loved the sound of Ramsay Hall and I felt as if I was in there with the characters.  How I would love to have explored all the rooms and spend time in the library surround by all those lovely books.

Some of the cakes and biscuits which were baked for the coffee shop sounded scrumptious.

‘Set Me Free’ is a story of love, loss, hope and pastures new.

I give this book 5 out of 5.


Black and White Publishing have produced a small recipe book containing baked products which are mentioned in ‘Set Me Free’.  I was sent a copy of it with the book and it is lovely.  The recipe book is free to download from their website:-


You can also get it free from Amazon:-




Black and White Publishing have kindly offered two paperback copies of ‘Set Me Free’.  To enter just leave a comment telling me what your favourite baked products are.


Terms and Conditions

This competition is open worldwide.

The closing date is 11:59 p.m. on the 18th May 2015.

The winners will be randomly chosen and notified within 7 days of the closing date and their details will be passed on to Black and White Publishing who will send the prizes out.


Good luck! :-)

Guest Post by Lindsay Complin

Lindsay Baldwin

Lindsay Complin is an unpublished author working on her first novel.  She has written an interesting guest post about how and why she writes.


The Odd Half Hour

Six months ago I was sat at my desk at work dreaming of that magical day, which was bound to arrive shortly, when I would be a full time writer and my days would be spent drifting about in a joyous haze of book signings, literary talks and endless hours focussing on my next novel. I hadn’t actually written anything at this point beyond some half started notes comprising plot lines and character biographies. But in my head were at least half a dozen best sellers all jostling to get out. It was only a matter of time I was sure.

These books had remained in my head for years and not found their way onto the page because I had no time. Work. Two daughters. Home. Friends. Family. There were so many things tugging at my sleeve needing attention that my quiet author aspirations were constantly overlooked. I wasn’t sure how these books were going to get written but surely they would. Maybe next week. Or next month.

And then eighteen months ago my mother passed away. Very suddenly and very unexpectedly. I am not sure whether a grown up can be called an orphan, but my father had passed away six years before and I found myself without the conventions and expectations of being a daughter. And I also found myself wondering why I was flogging away at work saving for my retirement when all I really wanted to do was see if I could write a book that was good enough to be published.

Thicker Than Water was an idea that wouldn’t go away. It is the story of a woman whose brother comes to her one evening having run someone over after he has been drinking. She has to decide whether to help him or turn him into the police.

I gave myself a good talking to of course. Did I think the story was a good one? Was it something that could be commercially successful? Was the plot intricate enough to sustain a whole book? Were the characters believable? Did I think I was good enough? Did I truly feel I wrote well enough to pull it off? Did I believe?

I looked myself in the eye and amazingly I answered yes to all those questions. So I took my modest inheritance and invested in me. I handed in my notice and told myself I wasn’t going to go back to work until my book was finished. I treated my writing like my job. I got up, took the children to school then wrote until it was time to pick them up, stopping only for a quick lunch and to check my phone which I had left on silent. I didn’t Tweet, or blog, or update Facebook, or go to coffee with friends. I just wrote my book. And I finished it.

Six months later I am still an unpublished author but I feel very differently now. I have the completed manuscript of a novel which an independent editor has judged as good with commercial potential. I have a small but growing number of Twitter followers. And I have a blog. It is called The Odd Half Hour because I am back at work now (mortgages have to be paid) and this is how I do my writing, grabbing small scraps of time here and there; writing a new novel like a quilter makes a patchwork cover. But I am now inspired and motivated. I feel like a writer who is working rather than someone working who would like to write. I have confidence in myself and writing doesn’t feel like a chore to be tackled but something exciting to be explored as I have no idea what might happen but feel more than ever that something might. And soon.


About Lindsay Complin

My book is called Thicker Than Water and an excerpt is on my website http://www.lindsaycomplin.com. On my website you will find my blog The Odd Half Hour where I post about the challenges of writing whilst holding down a full time job.


I would like to wish you every success in getting your first novel published, Lindsay.  You will get there! :-)


Cover Reveal – ‘Appleby Farm’ by Cathy Bramley

Appleby Farm PB

Today I am very excited to be revealing the absolutely gorgeous cover for ‘Appleby Farm’, which is being published in paperback and kindle as a full novel on the 13th August 2015.


Book Blurb

Appleby Farm is a charming, funny and romantic story for anyone looking for a feel-good, light-hearted read, from the author of bestselling Ivy Lane.

Freya Moorcroft has wild red hair, mischievous green eyes, a warm smile and a heart of gold. She’s been happy working at the café round the corner from Ivy Lane allotments and her romance with her new boyfriend is going well, she thinks, but a part of her still misses the beautiful rolling hills of her Cumbrian childhood home: Appleby Farm.

Then a phone call out of the blue and a desperate plea for help change everything…

The farm is in financial trouble, and it’s taking its toll on the aunt and uncle who raised Freya. Heading home to lend a hand, Freya quickly learns that things are worse than she first thought. As she summons up all her creativity and determination to turn things around, Freya is surprised as her own dreams for the future begin to take shape.

Love makes the world go round, according to Freya. Not money. But will saving Appleby Farm and following her heart come at a price?


Interview with Praveen Asthana

Book Cover

Praveen Asthana’s debut novel ‘The Woman in the Movie Star Dress’ was published at the end of last year, with the paperback coming out in January.  Praveen contacted me as he was interested in being interviewed for my blog.  I found the idea for his book so fascinating I just had to know more.


Can you tell me a bit about your book please? 

“What if you borrowed someone’s clothes and when you wore them, their personality transferred on to you?” That’s the premise behind this magical realism mystery set in Hollywood.

The Woman in the Movie Star Dress is the story of a young Native American woman who comes to Hollywood to escape her past. She finds work in a vintage store that sells clothes used in the movies. One day she discovers a way to transfer human character through these vintage clothes and uses this ability to search for love, identity and mooring. But the threads of her past intervene like trip wires and complicate her quest, forcing her to look within her soul to understand who she really is.


The idea that wearing someone else’s clothes can lead to their personality
transferring on to you is absolutely fascinating.  Do you think this can really happen? 

Well anything is possible–we don’t fully understand the physics of how our chi is connected with the universe so we can’t rule it out absolutely. Certainly, you can see how it can be possible from a psychological perspective–i.e. if I put on someone else’s clothes and believe that personality has transferred then I might trick my mind into acting like that other person. I’d also like to add that the belief that personality can transfer from clothing is present in many cultures, even in modern America: Pat Robertson, the famous Christian evangelist, warned publicly a couple of years ago that ‘there might be demons in those Salvation Army clothes’ so be careful what used clothes you wear!


How long did it take you to write this book? 

It took me about 9 months. I had the idea almost ten years ago, but didn’t get serious about writing it till recently.


Are you pleased with what you have been able to achieve? 

Yes! My greatest pleasure is learning that most of the readers who have read the book liked it and found it very entertaining. As a writer you never know if the elements of suspense, emotion, and pacing that you work to put in the book will actually work for the reader. When they do, it’s a great feeling.


Would you like to see your book made into a movie? 

I certainly would. The book is about Hollywood noir after all, which is perfect for a movie.


What are you working on now?  

I have started working on a novel about a man who fights oil well fires here in Texas. The theme is ‘there are some flames you can never put out,’ which applies not just to the oil fires but to a love affair from his past that has returned to haunt him.


Where do you usually do your writing? 

I have a very nice sun room overlooking a forest. It’s perfect for writing. But sometimes, when traveling, I take advantage of long plane flights and airport waiting rooms.


Describe a day in your life.

It is important to write every day. So I get up very early, get dressed and then write. I still have a full time job so at some point I have to put on my work face and go to the office. Evenings, when I get back, are for research or for marketing my current book (which is a lot of work).


About Praveen Asthana

Praveen Asthana

Praveen Asthana has been writing since the age of twelve when he started banging away on his dad’s Olivetti. He grew up in Ethiopia and Zambia where he learned the art of oral storytelling, which he incorporates in his writing. He has lived in many countries across the globe, but calls Austin, Texas his home. He writes both fiction and non-fiction. He has won awards for his fiction and his non-fiction has appeared in many leading publications such as Forbes and Spectrum.


‘The Woman in the Movie Star Dress’ is available to buy on Amazon:-


Cover Reveal – ‘The Hunt’ by Tim J. Lebbon

The Hunt

This is the cover of Tim J. Lebbon’s new book, ‘The Hunt’.  Read on to find out a bit about it.


Book Blurb

She will hunt down the men who took her family. She will have blood.

Rose is the one that got away. She was the prey in a human trophy hunt organised by an elite and secret organisation for bored super-rich clients seeking a unique thrill. She paid a terrible price – when she escaped The Trail murdered her family. Every moment since she has been planning her revenge. Watching, waiting …And now her day has come.

Chris returns from his morning run to find his wife and children missing and a stranger in his kitchen. He’s told to run. If he’s caught and killed, his family go free. If he escapes, they die. Rose is the only one who can help him, but Rose only has her sights on one conclusion. For her, Chris is bait. But The Trail have not forgotten the woman who tried to outwit them.

The Trail want Rose. The hunters want Chris’s corpse. Rose wants revenge, and Chris just wants his family back.

The hunt is on…


About Tim J. Lebbon

TIM J LEBBON is a New York Times-bestselling writer with over thirty novels published to date, as well as dozens of novellas and hundreds of short stories.  Recent releases include The Silence, Coldbrook, Into the Void: Dawn of the Jedi (Star Wars), Reaper’s Legacy, and Alien: Out of the Shadows.  He has won four British Fantasy Awards, a Bram Stoker Award, and a Scribe Award, and been shortlisted for World Fantasy and Shirley Jackson awards.  A movie of his story Pay the Ghost, starring Nicolas Cage, will be released soon, and other projects in development include My Haunted House, Playtime, and Exorcising Angels.

He has had around 20 novellas published and hundreds of short stories, steadily building a dedicated following among the horror & dark fiction community.  A movie of his short story PAY THE GHOST was filmed last year in Toronto, starring Nicolas Cage and Sarah Wayne Callies, directed by Uli Edel. He is also working on two TV series ideas, as well as a new original screenplay.

He has won 4 British Fantasy Awards (3 for Best Novella, one for Best Novel), a Bram Stoker Award and a Scribe Award.  He has also been shortlisted for the British Fantasy Award multiple times, the World Fantasy Award, and the Shirley Jackson Award.

Interview with Caroline Mitchell


I would like to congratulate Caroline Mitchell whose new book, ‘Don’t Turn Around’ is out today.  Caroline has kindly answered some questions for me.


How does it feel to have a new book out?

Hi Sonya, thanks for having me. It feels like a dream come true to see the story I carried in my head become something other people can read. I am truly grateful to the people who have helped me bring this to fruition.


Can you tell me a bit about ‘Don’t Turn Around’ please?

Don’t Turn Around is a haunting crime thriller, and very different to any other crime book on the market. DC Jennifer Knight works in the sleepy town of Haven with her partner Will. She complains that nothing ever happens, but all of that changes when she discovers a serial killer is on the loose, and they are copying the murders of a killer her mother helped convict when she was just a child. Is a copycat killer on the loose? Or is something far more sinister at play? You’ll have to read the book to find out!


Where did you get the idea for your book from?

I work as a full time police officer, and I enjoy bringing my readers into a busy police environment and showing them what it’s like to interview a suspect. I have also experienced real life paranormal activity in my home, and I wrote a book of my experiences called Paranormal Intruder. It made sense when I wrote my first novel that I would infuse my experiences in both the police and paranormal to create a chilling crime thriller. People have told me it’s a fast paced hide-under-the-duvet crime novel so I think it’s worked quite well. :-)


Can you relate to any of your characters?

Unfortunately I’m not an obsessive cleaner like DC Jennifer Knight, but I can relate to her on so many other levels. Working in the police is tiring with very long hours but you never know what each day will bring. I also empathise with Jennifer as she struggles to understand what is going on around her, and does not know who to confide in. I felt like that when strange things started occurring in my home. One minute you’re a capable person, and the next you’re someone who is completely helpless from forces beyond your understanding.


Are there any other writing projects on the go?

I absolutely adore writing and I have another crime series in my head that I’m dying to get down on paper. But first I’m finishing off the DC Jennifer Knight series, and book two is set to be very suspenseful. I’ve actually been on edge writing it myself!


Did you always want to write?

I was a real daydreamer as a child and English and Art were my favourite subjects in school. However, I never considered actually writing a book until my husband nagged me to tell our true story. After that, I was bit by the writing bug and had to keep going.


Has social media been a big help to you?

Oh gosh yes! My first book was self published and did pretty well. Sometimes people email me for advice on getting their book noticed. My advice is to get online and start networking, because you could have the best story in the world, but you’re not going to sell it if nobody knows about it. I feel so fortunate to have met so many new friends through Facebook and Twitter. These are the people that make dreams come true. I cannot thank the wonderful book bloggers, readers and fellow authors enough for their support. (I’m getting all emotional now so I’ll stop here!)


Do you have a favourite place in which to write?

It depends on my mood. I’m very fortunate to live near the beach so sometimes I’ll drive down there and sit in the car with my laptop overlooking the sea. I have a nice study, which I recently redecorated. There’s a quote on my chalkboard wall that says ‘it always seems impossible until it’s done.’ I also have nice Buddha’s, candles, and incense. It’s a very inspirational room … when my kids aren’t knocking on the door demanding my time that is!


About Caroline Mitchell


Caroline, a detective, lives with her husband, four children and two dogs in a pretty village on the coast of Essex.

Three years ago, Caroline encountered true paranormal activity from an unknown entity in their home. A writer at heart, Caroline documented her experiences and wrote a book in the hope of helping others. She discovered a passion for writing and based her fiction thrillers on the two subjects she is most passionate about: crime and the paranormal.


Follow Caroline on Twitter – @Caroline_writes

Caroline’s Website – http://www.caroline-writes.com

Blog Tour – ‘Disclaimer’ by Renée Knight


‘Disclaimer’ is Renée Knight’s debut novel.  It was published on the 9th April 2015 by Doubleday.  When I first heard about this book I was intrigued and I really wanted to read and review it.  I am one of a number of book bloggers taking part in the blog tour for ‘Disclaimer’ and today it is my turn.

Catherine and Robert Ravenscroft have recently moved home, downsizing as their son is now flat sharing with some students.  They both have successful careers and what seems like the perfect marriage.

When an intriguing looking novel appears on Catherine’s bedside table she can’t recall ever seeing it before.  Naturally interested she opens the book and starts to read, failing to notice that the disclaimer at the front has been crossed out with a red pen.  As Catherine reads on she is horrified to discover that someone has actually written a book about her.  It could just be a coincidence of course but she recognises an account of a day from twenty years ago, one which she had blocked out.  Who would do such a malicious thing like this?  Desperate for answers, Catherine somehow manages to get through the rest of the novel.

Stephen Brigstocke, a retired teacher, knows all about Catherine including her past, but she has never met him.  He is determined to tear her life apart and he will stop at absolutely nothing to get his revenge.

This story has mostly been told by Catherine and Stephen.  It starts off from Spring 2013 onwards and goes back and forth so as to give the reader a good insight into events from the past.  Each chapter is headed up with the relevant period in which the story is taking place.  I personally felt that it would have been a better idea to have the name of the character who was narrating that particular chapter as the heading instead so as not to confuse.

I really enjoyed reading ‘Disclaimer’ and couldn’t wait to get back to it.  I didn’t know what to think of Stephen.  On the one hand I could understand how he was feeling, but I thought what he did was right over the top and just so wrong.  With his devious and twisted mind he did his best to wreck lives without knowing all the facts.

As I got towards the end of the story and things became clear regarding Catherine’s secret from the past, I realised that there were in fact a number of subtle clues throughout the book which hinted at what really happened.  Very clever the way the author has done this.

I really didn’t anticipate what the ending would be and was quite shocked.

‘Disclaimer’ is a thrilling and fast-paced read.

I give this book 4 out of 5.


About Renée Knight

Renee Knight

Renée Knight worked for the BBC directing arts documentaries before turning to writing.  She has had TV and film scripts commissioned by the BBC, Channel Four and Capital Films.  In April 2013 she graduated from Faber Academy ‘Writing A Novel’.  ‘Disclaimer’ is her first novel arising from that course.  She lives in London with her husband and two children.

Mystical Mystery Bundle – 21st to 30th April 2015



Mystical Mystery Series Book Bundle

Three Award-winning Authors – Book Giveaway and Sale

Discover a touch of the mystical and an innovative take on mystery from an international trio of authors.  Australian Virginia King, American Amber Foxx and British Marion Eaton – all B.R.A.G. Medallion winners – have teamed up for a giveaway and over a week of discounts from April 21 – 30.


Win a Paperback of Each Book

Enter the drawing below to win a paperback copy of the first book in each author’s series.


Buy each e-book during the sale for only US $1.99 (adjusted for other currencies)


The First Lie – Virginia King

Selkie Moon Mystery Series, Book One

Selkie Moon is a woman on the run.  In a mad dash for freedom she’s escaped her life in Sydney to start over again in Hawaii.  But her refuge begins to unravel and she’s running from something else entirely.  A voice in a dream says that someone is trying to kill her.  Not that she’s psychic, no way. But the messages and threats escalate until she’s locked in a game of cat and mouse with a mysterious stalker.  Entangled in Celtic and Hawaiian mythologies, the events become so bizarre and terrifying that her instinct is to keep running.  But is she running from her past?  Or her future?

Website: http://www.selkiemoon.com/

Buy the ebook for US $1.99:




The Calling – Amber Foxx 

The first Mae Martin Psychic Mystery

Obeying her mother’s warning, Mae Martin-Ridley has spent years hiding her gift of “the sight.” When concern for a missing hunter compels her to use it again, her peaceful life in a small Southern town begins to fall apart. New friends push her to explore her unusual talents, but as she does, she discovers the shadow side of her visions – access to secrets she could regret uncovering.

Gift or curse? When an extraordinary ability intrudes on an ordinary life, nothing can be the same again.

The Mae Martin Series

No murder, just mystery. Every life hides a secret, and love is the deepest mystery of all.

Website & buy the ebook for US $1.99:



When the Clocks Stopped – Marion Eaton

The Mysterious Marsh Series, Book One

When lawyer Hazel Dawkins decides to write some wills while she waits for the birth of her first child, she unwittingly triggers dramatic consequences. Mysteriously, she encounters Annie, a woman whose tempestuous life took place more than two centuries earlier when Romney Marsh was a violent place, dominated by smugglers.  Soon that past collides with the present, and Hazel finds herself pitted against an evil that has stalked the marsh for centuries.  As her destiny intertwines with Annie’s in the shifting time-scape, Hazel confronts a terrifying challenge that parallels history – and could even change it. If she survives.

Website: http://www.marioneaton.com/

Buy the ebook for US $1.99: amzn.to/17THZ83


The raffle is open to all countries.  It starts from April 21 – April 26, with the extra days after the winner is announced to give readers the chance to buy the ebooks at a discount.

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