A Lover of Books

Archive for the month “March, 2015”

Interview with Trace Conger


I would like to introduce you all to Trace Conger.  He recently contacted me regarding his book and was keen to be interviewed for my blog.


Can you tell me a bit about your book please?

My novel, THE SHADOW BROKER, introduces the world to Finn Harding (Mr. Finn to his clients), a PI who recently lost his PI license.

To make ends meet he begins working for criminals who pay in cash and don’t care if he’s licensed or not. Finn gets ensnared in a plot to take over a black market information brokerage and finds himself entrenched deeper in the criminal world than he ever expected.

With his own clients gunning for him, Finn (and his family) must evade a psychopathic killer, special agents from the FBI’s cybercrime unit, and a Detroit mob boss.


Did it take you long to write?       

I outlined the novel in November of 2013 and then began writing in January 2014. I completed the first draft in May. From there it went through review with my beta readers, editing by me, review from my editor, more editing by me, and then I had the final version published in October of 2014.

So it took about five months for the first draft and then another five months for reviews, editing, and all the other responsibilities (cover design, formatting, etc.) that comes with publishing a novel.


Where do you get your ideas from?

Everywhere. I find most of my ideas come while I’m writing or reading, as if those acts open up the part of my brain that generates ideas. The original idea for THE SHADOW BROKER came to me several years ago, and at the time, I thought it would be a short story. I wrote the story several times, but never really liked it, so I shelved it.

About a year or so later I had a conversation with a retired PI who explained that she used to work as a black market information broker for a very short time to make ends meet. In that role, she acquired illegal personal information for her clients who paid top dollar. After learning that these shadowy individuals exist, I was intrigued and disturbed at the same time.

I combined this plot point with some of the other plot elements from the original short story and THE SHADOW BROKER was born.


Did you have to do any research for your book and if so what did it entail?

I try to be as accurate in my work as possible and that can entail a lot of research. The “Mr. Finn” series is set in Cincinnati, and since I live there, scouting out the locals is pretty easy. I also have a few private investigators and law enforcement contacts who I work with at times to flesh out specific situations.

There is one scene in THE SHADOW BROKER where two FBI agents interview my protagonist at the FBI office in Cincinnati. I tried to get a visit through the FBI so I could see the inside of the building in an effort to capture it accurately (within reason) in the book, but as you can imagine the FBI didn’t go for it. They did hook me up with a contact though who answered a lot of my questions and helped me visualize the setting for the novel.

I understand that most readers wouldn’t know if I’m painting an accurate picture or not, but I’ve always tried to be as accurate as I can. It doesn’t matter if I’m describing how to pick a lock or how to steal a specific drug to cut heroin. It needs to be real.


Would you like to see your book made into a film or drama?

I think every author would love to see his or her work on the big screen (not to mention the cash that comes with it). I’ve visited several book clubs to discuss my novel and during every meeting someone has said they could see THE SHADOW BROKER as a movie.

It’s very fast paced, so I think it would lend itself well to film, but it was never something I considered while writing it. Of course, if Hollywood comes knocking, I’ll answer the door.


What are you working on now?

I’m working on the follow-up novel to THE SHADOW BROKER. It’s called SCAR TISSUE and picks up a few weeks after the previous novel ends. It’s been a lot of fun to write, and with my first novel out of the way, I feel much more confident about my writing process. The second novel dives deeper into the characters’ background and readers will learn a lot more about some of the ideas brought up in THE SHADOW BROKER.

In addition to SCAR TISSUE, I’m also outlining the third novel in the Mr. Finn series as well as researching a standalone novel that leans more to the horror side of suspense than the crime side.

I also enjoy writing short stories, so I have a few of those in the works as well.


What made you want to start writing?

It sounds hokey, but I’ve always enjoyed writing and never really saw myself doing anything else. I cut my teeth in the PR business in New York and my responsibilities included a lot of writing. It wasn’t the writing I wanted to do—I always gravitated toward fiction—but it was great experience and helped me discover my voice and taught me how to pitch journalists and work under the pressures of a deadline, all things I still have to do as an author.


Describe a day in your life.

That’s a tough one, because with two children, my days are anything but typical. As far as writing is concerned, since I’m also a freelance writer, I split my time between writing for clients, promoting THE SHADOW BROKER, and writing the follow-up novel, SCAR TISSUE.

I try to keep an even split with 50% of my week writing fiction and the other 50% writing copy for clients, but this ebbs and flows as any freelancer will attest. For me, one of the most important aspects of a writing career is to be consistent. While I strive to write fiction every day, sometimes life gets in the way and this isn’t possible, but at a minimum, I try for 1,000 words of fiction every day.


Where can readers connect with you?

The best way is through my website at http://www.traceconger.com. I love hearing from readers and answer all of my email (though it can take some time).

Readers can also connect via Facebook at (www.facebook.com/tracecongerauthor) or Twitter @TraceConger.

Readers can also sign up for my newsletter on my website or through my Facebook page to get updates on my work (and a free short story).


About Trace Conger


Trace Conger is an author in the crime, thriller and suspense genres. His Mr. Finn series follows disgraced private investigator Finn Harding as he straddles the fine line between criminal investigator and criminal.

Conger is known for his tight writing style, dark themes and subtle humor. He lives in Cincinnati with his wonderfully supportive family.

Find out more about Trace Conger and the Mr. Finn series on his official website, http://www.traceconger.com.


‘The Shadow Broker’ is available to buy on Amazon:-

UK – http://alturl.com/6toob

US – http://alturl.com/8phqx

Another Guest Post by Albrecht Behmel

The Stronghold

Albrecht Behmel is back with another interesting guest post.



When people ask me what I do for a living, I usually lie. I either tell them that I am a writer or I tell them that I am a painter. I rarely say that I am both – which would be the truth. Okay, it is only a lie by omission but most people don’t like the idea that one person can be both. In my eyes, however, these two things are almost the same. Traditionally, painters were storytellers just like film directors. This is why we use the term “moving pictures”. A picture that moves. Writing a story is like painting in many ways as anyone can tell who has seen a Delacroix, Rubens or an El Greco. Paintings are about stories, characters, situations and emotions that take place in our minds when in fact, what is really out there hasn’t even a colour. There is nothing but wave-length and shape. All the rest takes place in the human mind. The brain is the one and only storyteller. I believe it is the artist’s job to facilitate this transition. We have to put stories into the minds of our readers, viewers or, simply, the audience.

Funnily, it also works the other way round. Stills or screen shots from films sometimes make great images, think of the scene where Darth Vader beckons Luke Skywalker and says, “I am your father” or with the T-Rex chasing the car in Jurassic Park? Would a painter like Goya have said no to a commission?

All a writer needs to learn is how to hold a brush. All a painter needs to learn is how to spell and how to be patient because putting word after word is a much slower process than arranging shapes on canvas. What I am trying to say is that the mental process in the artist’s mind is very similar. The goal is to interest the reader or viewer in the outcome of a conflict because art is usually about confrontation. That says a lot about our species. Homo sapiens – we are a violent lot, there can be no doubt about it; the most vicious monster that ever walked on canvas (and the silver screen is canvas, too). Who killed the Alien, King Kong or the great white shark? Who defeated the Martians, Predators or Zombies? Yes, it is us, the deadliest of them all. Humans love wars and fights, just open a history book! To understand and to examine this human thirst for violence is an artist’s job and it does not matter where the discussion takes place. Being an artist is about understanding human nature. The expression is a matter of the craft we chose, writing, painting, drawing, dancing. Are all arts basically one? When it comes to a deeper level of meaning, I suppose they are: the big dividing line running not between the different types of the arts but between those who think and work like an artist and others who do not.


About Albrecht Behmel

Albrecht Behmel

Albrecht is an award winning-playwright and novelist. He studied history, arts and philosophy at Heidelberg University and at Humboldt-University, Berlin before his career as a writer for German tv, radio and film in Berlin. He has written over 20 novels and non fiction books, games and plays. Almost a renaissance man, Albrecht is also a painter and designer He enjoys the nature of the German Black Forest where he lives with his family.

‘The Last Treasure Hunt’, er, hunt…


‘The Last Treasure Hunt’ was published on the 26th March 2015 and to celebrate its release a number of book bloggers are taking part in an online treasure hunt.  Today on my blog is clue number 3, but first I thought you might want to read what this book is about.


Book Blurb

At the age of thirty, Campbell Johnstone is a failure. He’s stuck behind the bar of a shabby pub, watching from the sidelines while everyone else makes a success of their lives. The most visible is Eve Sadler, a childhood friend and rising Hollywood star.

When Campbell tries to rekindle their relationship, he longs for the glitter of her success to rub off on him, but a single shocking night – the novel’s shattering twist delivered with a knockout punch – changes everything. Campbell is about to discover the bittersweet taste of fame, and in the process, struggle to save his soul and overcome his own self-delusion.

The Last Treasure Hunt explores our obsession with fame and celebrity with great intelligence and sly wit – it’s a modern media morality tale with bite.


Clue 3

For the man with the lethal licence
Here’s the site of his May Day
A fruitless pursuit; the assassin’s glider
Carries her away


How the hunt works:

  • Each clue refers to a landmark or iconic location in a film. The landmark/location is the answer – when you figure it out, make a note of it!
  • (If you need a hand, check out the #treasurehunt hashtag on Twitter or Instagram for a hint to the landmark’s location…
  • Clues will be revealed by some fantastic book bloggers from March 26th until April 21st. Keep checking back on Jane Alexander’s dedicated treasure hunt page (http://janealexander.net/join-the-hunt) or on the #treasurehunt hashtag for links and new clues
  • When all the clues are revealed, the first letter of every answer will make an anagram. Solve the anagram and you have your final answer!
  • Email this answer and all the landmarks you figured out to hermes@saraband.net by April 30th to be entered into the prize draw. Two entrants will win a signed copy of The Last Treasure Hunt – and if you’ve guessed the most landmarks and locations, you’ll win a goodie bag and something special from Jane personally! On top of that you’ll get bragging rights on Twitter and we’ll publicly dub you queen/king sleuth.
  • Good luck!

Extract of ‘The Evil Beneath’ by A.J. Waines


AJ Waines has kindly provided me with an extract to her book ‘The Evil Beneath’.


About the book

The Evil Beneath went to No 1 in ‘Serial Killers’ in UK Kindle Charts and, in March 2015, to No 1 in the entire Australian Kindle Charts.

There’s a body in the water – and she’s wearing your clothes…

Impulsive and intrepid psychotherapist, Juliet Grey, can’t resist responding to an anonymous text message telling her to go to Hammersmith Bridge at dawn. But it isn’t simply the dead body in the water that disturbs her, it’s the way something uniquely personal to Juliet has been left on the corpse.

Another obscure message – another London bridge – and Juliet finds herself caught up with a serial killer, who leaves personal mementos instead of collecting trophies.

Teaming up with local detective, DCI Brad Madison, Juliet strives to find out why she has been targeted and how it’s connected to the accident that killed her brother, nineteen years ago.

Can Juliet use her knowledge of the human psyche to get inside the mind of the killer, before another body is found under a bridge? And how long before Juliet herself becomes the next target?




Sunday, September 20th 

She had been lying there, facedown in the water long before the tide had turned at 3.04 that morning. Her eyes were staring into the river, her blonde hair first fanning out, then drawing back under her head with the wash of the water, like a pulsating jellyfish. The belt of her raincoat was caught on the branches of an overhanging tree and she’d been hooked, destined to forever flap against the corner of the broken pier with outstretched arms. She wasn’t going anywhere now; she was simply bobbing up and down with the rhythm of the water – and she hadn’t blinked in a long while.

A male jogger came down the ramp from the main road and ran straight past her. Then a cyclist dipped under the bridge and pedalled at speed with his head down. He, too, passed the bundle tucked under the tree without noticing it. But by 7.15am, the creeping sunrise was opening up the scene for all to see.

Her arms were held away from her body forming the shape of a cross on the water and tiny pieces of weed and broken twigs were caught up in her hair, making her head look like the beginnings of a bird’s nest.

An old man with a poodle stopped to stare at the sodden shape in the water, then a woman who had been power-walking joined them, followed by a couple with their arms around each other.  Another cyclist, older and slower than the first, joined them. He was the boldest of the group so far. He was wearing black lycra shorts and without taking off his trainers, he began to wade into the river.

In the distance, standing on Hammersmith Bridge, someone was starting to feel pleased with themselves. From that position, you didn’t need the binoculars to see a group was starting to form at the water’s edge. Where was everybody coming from so early on a Sunday morning? It was like watching wasps gather around a spoonful of raspberry jam.

The cyclist went up to his thighs in the water, getting within a few feet of the body and then turned around shaking his head. He was shouting something to the woman who had been power-walking and she began reaching into her backpack.

The woman’s legs were sticking out from beneath the gabardine. They were covered in purple striped tights and she was still wearing both ankle boots. Everything looked intact.

No one would notice the binoculars now trained towards the towpath. She had to arrive at the scene any time now, to get a good view, before the body was bagged up and taken away by the river police.

Take your time, came a whisper from the bridge, we need a certain person to get here before the police tidy everything away.

Another woman, who seemed to have come from nowhere, doubled over and rested her hand against the tree. Someone put their arm around her. You couldn’t tell from this distance if she’d been sick.

Then she was there. The chosen one. On her own, walking tentatively towards the water. She’d got the message and she’d responded. All was well with the world. How long would it take her before she realised? Before the shit hit the fan. That was a good image; it had the ring of old Tom and Jerry cartoons.

Was it worth waiting around for that moment or not? She might not make the connection straight away. Some people’s brains didn’t work as fast as others.

There was a sound of a siren. An ambulance and a squad car pulled up and in a flash, she was lost in the tight little gathering. No point hanging around. The show was over, but the party was just beginning.

An eye for an eye; that’s how the saying went. Proper punishment where it was due. And this was going to be one hell of a payback.

Strains of idle humming came from the bridge. It was time to start dreaming of fried eggs and two pieces of toast – and perhaps even some beans on the side. Wasn’t that justified?


About the Author


AJ Waines writes Psychological Thrillers. She has an Agent and book deals in France and Germany. As a former Psychotherapist working with ex-offenders from high-security institutions, she has come face to face with the criminal mind. Her first two stand-alone novels, THE EVIL BENEATH and GIRL ON A TRAIN, feature strong intrepid women in modern, grizzly London settings.






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The Evil Beneath is in the Kindle sale right now at only 99p ($1.48). Grab it while you can. UK: Click here US: Click here.

Book Launch – ‘The Perfume Muse’ by Alex Johnson

The Perfume Muse

‘The Perfume Muse’ is Alex Johnson’s new book.  It is out on the 2nd April 2015.


Book Blurb

The Perfume Muse is the sequel to Alex Johnson’s debut novel Run Away: this first story is about the break-up of a family and how Julie, the protagonist, copes with life as a single mother and her wayward teenage daughter. Julie falls in love with gorgeous French perfumer but must decide whether he can offer the future she longs for.

The Perfume Muse sees Julie and Olivier move to Grasse, the French perfume capital, but her dreams are dashed when, almost straightaway, he accepts a job in New York. Their relationship is tested by long periods apart and Julie finds comfort in a budding friendship with the intriguing and sexy Jean-Jacques.

Both men, both acclaimed perfumers, vye for Julie’s affections through perfume: each create romantic, sensual perfumes inspired by and especially for her. How can she possibly choose between them?

Julie’s resolve is further tested by the unexpected arrival of Olivier’s son, Michel.

What were his reasons for Michel turning up out of the blue?

Can the disappearance of the perfume formula Olivier invented for Julie be connected?

And to top it all, it looks like Michel is falling in love with Julie’s daughter, Lisa.

Julie must get to the bottom of this.  She flies out to New York to confront Olivier about the son he’s never mentioned and to determine whether her future lies with him or with Jean-Jacques.


‘The Perfume Muse’ can be pre-ordered on Amazon – http://amzn.to/1BLJXF0

Blog Tour – ‘Black Wood’ by SJI Holliday

Blog Tour Poster

‘Black Wood’ is SJI Holliday’s debut novel.  It was published by Black and White Publishing in paperback on the 19th March 2015.  I have been hearing a lot about this novel and was really looking forward to reading it.  As part of this blog tour I have written a review.

As young girls Claire and Jo had a very nasty experience which would change their lives for good.  It happened while they were in the woods resulting in Claire being paralysed for life and Jo being left with deep mental scars from which she had never totally recovered from.

Twenty-three years later and Jo gets a shock when a customer walks in to the bookshop where she is working.  There is something so very familiar about him and Jo is convinced that she has seen him before  Elsewhere, Sergeant Davie Gray is investigating reports of a man wearing a balaclava who is apparently attacking young women on a disused railway.  This comes as a shock to the residents of Banktoun, a small and quiet town where crime very rarely occurs.  Is there a connection between the man from the past and the one going around scaring young women?

I found ‘Black Wood’ to be intriguing right from the start and couldn’t wait to read more.  It was thrilling and fast-paced.  I really like the way SJI Holliday writes.  The story goes back and forth from the past to the present which I thought worked well. The majority of the chapters are very short and have been written in such a way that you are left in suspense waiting to find out what happens next with a particular character.  It’s a bit like someone tantalising you with a bar of chocolate whilst opening it really slowly.

The author described the old cottage where Jo’s grandmother had lived so well that I could almost feel the chilling atmosphere.  Maybe some of what went on in there was in Jo’s mind with all the anguish she was going through, but I think there was definitely more to it.

‘Black Wood’ is a dark and disturbing story with a number of shocking revelations.  For fans of crime fiction this is a must read.

I am looking forward to seeing what SJI Holliday comes up with next.

I give this book 4 out of 5.


SJI Holliday has kindly written a guest post for me.


When A Character Calls

When I first started plotting Black Wood, I had it planned in my head as a fairly straightforward, linear tale of obsession; written in first person, by the deeply flawed protagonist, Jo. It was a tale of revenge, and Jo was going to tell it all by herself.

Except it didn’t work out like that.

A few chapters in, and I was already starting to panic that Jo was too dark, too intense. There were plot points that had to happen to see the story through, and it soon became obvious that Jo couldn’t tell the story alone.

The thing about writing in first person is that you can follow the character on a journey, you can get right into their head – you might feel like they’re carrying you on their shoulders as they lead your through the story. But there are limitations. You can only see what they see, and you can only know what they know – unless you force things in – things that sometimes work, and sometimes don’t – such as the character being told things in dialogue by others, or the character finding a letter or a diary. There are many ways, but I was struggling to find the best way.

I realised I needed to lift the reader out of Jo’s head a bit – give them some respite from her unravelling thoughts.

So in walked Sergeant Davie Gray.

Well, he didn’t walk, actually. He was sitting in a police station, bored out of his tree, playing wastepaper basketball with his colleague. A phone call from their boss takes him away from his chair and out into Banktoun, a place where nothing ever happens… except when it does. He walks smack into Jo, and it soon becomes clear that the two of them have some history – but maybe not in the way you might think.

I never planned to have a police character. I never planned to have one that people would love and want to hear more about. I never planned to write a series… yet Davie is calling me. He has many more tales to tell.

I can hardly just ignore him now, can I?

Guest Post by Peter Davey

Love and Friendship

Today I would like to welcome Peter Davey to my blog.  He has written a guest post about his novel, ‘Love and Friendship’.



First of all, I’m extremely grateful to Sonya for allowing me the opportunity to do what writers love doing best – talking about their own work.

My novel ‘Love and Friendship’ (or l’Amour et l’Amitié – the French title sounds so much better!) is part of a trilogy of short novels entitled La Récherche – ‘The Search’ – about ordinary people searching for different things in their lives – mostly ways to fill spiritual and emotional voids and find some sort of ultimate fulfilment. The others are ‘Simone, Simone’ and ‘Marielle’ and I’ve now translated them all into English.

This one, the longest, concerns a close friendship between two thirty-something women living in Paris. Laura is the constant, reliable one – the mother of two small children and wife of Robert – a successful but nonetheless frustrated composer.  Her friend Genevieve is beautiful, impulsive and incurably romantic and has always relied on Laura to be her support and confidante through the emotional roller-coaster of her life. But then something happens to put their friendship under severe strain and force them both to question and re-evaluate it.

It has been suggested to me that for a man to write a novel in which both principal characters are women is a challenge best avoided. I didn’t think of it like that. I simply had an idea – based loosely on characters and events in my own life – and got on with developing it. Plots are hard enough to come by, after all, and when they do pop into your head you can’t afford to just pass them up.  What came to fascinate me while writing the novel, however, was the different ways in which male and female sexuality is viewed in society both by men and by women. Genevieve is passionate and highly sexed and has worked her way through a good many men but not because her attitude to sex is “easy” – on the contrary, she is engaged in a deeply serious search for the love of her life, her true soul mate.  This is not how the rest of the world views her progress, however.  She has already been rejected by her strict Catholic parents and, in the course of the novel, Laura herself comes to question her friend’s true motives and morality – and, ultimately, her own.

Unfortunately ‘Love and Friendship’ is currently available only as an Amazon ebook. I am trying to find someone to publish the whole trilogy in one cover but that is another search which goes on! I’m always delighted to receive feedback, though – both bad and good!

Interview with Rebecca Bradley + Competition


‘Shallow Waters’ is Rebecca Bradley’s debut novel.  I love reading crime fiction so was keen to interview Rebecca.


Can you tell me a bit about your book please?

I can! Shallow Waters is a police procedural crime novel with a female detective inspector protagonist, Hannah Robbins. It’s told in first person narrative for the most part so you know what’s going on inside her head, how she feels and what she’s thinking as she deals with some pretty ugly crimes and a difficult personal life. Teenagers are being murdered in the city of Nottingham but Hannah’s team soon discover that it is a crime that has its net cast much wider than their city and they find themselves up against the clock as they cross county borders trying to stop another murder.


Did you have to do much research for it?

I’m lucky in that I know a lot of police officers so I didn’t have to do a lot of research for this one at all. The next one is the one where research is necessary due to mode of death!


How long did it take you to write?

It took about a year to write, then there were some re-writes and edits with different people before it was finally published in December last year. 


What made you write crime fiction?

I absolutely love crime fiction. I have read practically nothing but crime from being a child. I started with the usual Enid Blyton stuff; Secret Seven, Famous Five, then moved on to Nancy Drew before finally making the leap to adult crime in the form of Agatha Christie. It was then a natural progression when it came to writing, that I would write crime.


Are there more books planned?

Absolutely. DI Hannah Robbins is a series character. I’m writing the second book. The synopsis is written for the third and I already know what the storyline is for the fourth. These are just for this series. I also want to write another series plus a non-crime book!


Where do you do the majority of your writing?

I’ve claimed the spare bedroom at home as my office. Because I’m ill, I do my writing in spurts throughout the day or even just once in the day. But I have a desk and chair and far too much crap on my desk!


Do you think book reviews help with sales?

I think they can. Seeing that a book has reviews as opposed to a book that doesn’t have any, is a positive, but I personally try not to read the reviews before buying a book online because it can colour my reading experience.


If you could start all over again would you still write books?

I would, but I would have had the guts to have started a lot younger than I did. I feel quite old to be trying to get into this world now.


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

Keep trying and don’t give in. Don’t be disheartened. It’s those who keep going and keep trying that succeed. You won’t succeed if you give up at the first hurdle.


Thanks for having me on the blog Sonya.


About Rebecca Bradley


Rebecca Bradley lives in Nottinghamshire with her family and her one-year-old Cockerpoo Alfie, who keeps her company while she writes. Rebecca needs to drink copious amounts of tea to function throughout the day and if she could, she would survive on a diet of tea and cake while committing murder on a regular basis, in her writing of course.

Once a month Rebecca hosts a crime book club on Google+ hangouts where you can live chat about a crime book everyone has read. It’s great fun. Members join in from the UK, the US, France and Australia on a regular basis. As it is online, there are no geographical boundaries and you can sit in your home to join in. You can find details of how this works on the blog http://rebeccabradleycrime.com



Website – http://rebeccabradleycrime.com

Twitter – http://twitter.com/rebeccajbradley

Author Page – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Rebecca-Bradley/e/B00R9RVT98/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0



One very lucky person has the chance to win an eBook copy of ‘Shallow Waters’.  To enter just leave a comment about the interview.


Terms and Conditions

This competition is open worldwide.

The closing date is the 6th April 2015 at 23:59 p.m.

The winner will be randomly picked and contacted within 7 days of the closing date and their details will be passed on to Rebecca Bradley.


Good luck! 🙂

Cover Reveal / Guest Post – ‘Eden Burning’ by Deirdre Quiery

Eden Burning

This is the cover for ‘Eden Burning’ which is being published by Urbane Publications in June of this year.  Below is a lovely guest blog from the author, Deirdre Quiery.


The Making of “Eden Burning” – Deirdre Quiery

“Eden Burning” started as a flicker of an idea almost fifteen years ago. I remember sitting on a red sofa in Oxford watching logs sizzle in the inglenook fireplace. My mother walked into the sitting room holding a plastic bag filled with letters which I had written to her from University in the 1970s. She said, “You have to do something with these.”

She smiled at me. It was one of those smiles in which a bond is created – a conspiracy even – to which no-one else is invited. I took the bag from her.

I wonder what she would now make of “Eden Burning”. I think she would like it. She would see herself in there – not as Rose or Eileen or Lily – but she would know that she was there.

In the plastic bag stuffed with letters still in their envelopes were stories which I told to my mother in the days before the internet – stories of University, of friends and expeditions – which I knew would provide a relief from the reality of Belfast in the 1970s. I knew the importance of being an “entertainer” in a crisis. There were also in the bag some letters which my mother had written to me. It is strange to see a person’s hand writing on a page when they are dead. The writing seems every bit as unique as a fingerprint, louder than a spoken word and more visual than their face in front of you. I filed the letters in date order and wondered what I could do with them.

The letters came with me to Mallorca when in 2001 my husband and I decided to come here, leaving the security of full-time employment, the company cars and more importantly friends. We sold our house, gave away all our possessions, boarding a plane for Mallorca with two suitcases and our cat Ziggy.

We rented a house in an olive grove, high in the mountains above Soller. There was no running water. A lorry delivered water once a month, winding its way around the twenty seven bends to the house. There was no fixed line telephone and no television. There was no work. I felt for the first time in my life rooted in the earth. There were no neighbours – only sheep. I had time to look at the orange blossoms change into a small green fruit which grew in size and changed in colour. I marvelled at life. Everything seemed miraculous. Clouds appearing, disappearing, birds singing, dogs barking. Everything was imbued with a sense of wonder. I felt a part of it all – a part of nature. I knew myself to be connected to the earth.

I opened the filed letters which my mother had given me. I began to write “Eden Burning.” I didn’t want to write an autobiography about Belfast during the 1970s. I did want to honour the spirit of the people who had suffered and who I had met. I wanted “Eden Burning” to offer something positive to the world. There is nothing so dark that cannot be turned into light. There is always hope because fundamentally everything is good as Julian of Norwich said, “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”  ― Julian of Norwich

Guest Post by Albrecht Behmel

The Stronghold

‘The Stronghold’ was published by Urbane Publications in February of this year.  Albrecht Behmel has written a couple of posts, one of which you can read below.



What really fascinates me as a writer is the question why some stories enter tradition and others don’t. There is plenty of good stuff out there that nobody reads anymore. Material that is totally forgotten but once was really en vogue, like the stories about Phantomas. Then there are stories that somehow made it into the canon even though they are dull as hell. Generations of students have suffered here and nobody, e.g. knows why on earth we still read James Joyce when there is Flann O’Brien.

Then there is a third kind of literature, good stories that are badly written. Badly, that is, by modern standards, and the myth of William Tell is one of them. Friedrich Schiller can’t be blamed for the fact that he lived a long time before HBO and that he never had a chance to watch Star Wars or to read Robert McKee. It is the story of the man who shot an apple from his son’s head to save their lives. This is one of the great dramas of world literature. Strangely, nobody ever made a decent film of it. Why is this?

I believe, the answer is that Friedrich Schiller’s play got it all wrong – dramatically not in substance – which resulted in a very poor model for a screenplay and screen writers, directors and producers are notoriously lazy. So I took this old story and made it new.

In “The Stronghold” I follow the traditional three-act-structure which means that the first part is about a world which is threatened, like The Shire in the Lord of the Rings. Somebody’s life will change. The second act is about the conflict between those who want the world to change and those who do not, like when Harry Potter needs to save Sirius Black. The third act features the violent solution of the conflict and offers the best of two worlds (of acts one and two) to those who survive the struggle, this is when you return from Narnia. Yes, it is as simple as that. Poor old Friedrich Schiller used a five act structure – and big surprise! Hollywood ignored his masterpiece. But there is more: A good thriller needs a strong bad guy.

The antagonists or villains are usually simply people who try to shape the world and create something new whereas heroes tend to be reactionaries. Heroes in general hate change and bad guys love to trigger developments which is why, in some genres, bad guys are often depicted as entrepreneurs, scientists or visionaries while heroes are – in most cases – of the type average Joe, especially when portrayed by Bruce Willis. I admit that I love bad guys in stories. So much in fact that I am working on an encyclopaedia of film antagonists with some 850 entries which will be available later this year. In the Stronghold, the bad guy is Arminius Guessler, a governor of Switzerland who tries to prevent civil war but in doing so triggers a rebellion.


‘The Stronghold’ is available to buy from http://urbanepublications.com/books/the-stronghold/


Look out for another guest post from Albrecht Behmel soon.

‘The First Lie’ Cover Poll – Thank You from Virginia King


Last month I did a poll for Virginia King to see which book cover people preferred.  To see the original post please click on the link below:-


The overall winner was the second cover (above).  I also ran a competition in which one person who commented would win an ebook copy of ‘The First Lie’.  Virginia has written a thank you post for everyone who took part in the poll.


A warm thank you to everyone who voted in the cover poll for The First Lie – and a very special thank you to Sonya at A Lover of Books for hosting and managing the poll.  Sonya continues to support authors like me in very practical ways.

The quality of the responses to the cover poll was very high, so I have chosen two winners to receive a copy of the ebook (see below).  Authors really need honest feedback from readers and other authors about such elements as book covers, because they are so important in attracting new readers.  A quality cover is the first indication that the book is well-written and worth investing time and money in.  I’ve written a little about my cover journeys below.


Does the Cover Tell a Story?

I love the old cover of The First Lie, which is a section from a painting called Watching by artist Lindena Robb (http://www.lindena-robb.com.au).  Some voters noted the quality of this image as a work of art – I agree.  I thought it would be a winner at attracting readers.  But when The First Lie hit the bestseller list in Psychic Suspense and there was no spike in new sales, I wondered if the cover was the problem.  The First Lie has a lot of positive reviews but if readers don’t click on the cover they won’t get to read them.  I got feedback from book reviewers that this cover doesn’t “tell a story”, so doesn’t invite the reader to explore further – and get to the book description and reviews.  Boo hoo!

Reflecting the Genre without Being Clichéd

The new cover is the result of an exhaustive design process by Julia Kuris at Designerbility (http://www.designerbility.com.au).  The First Lie is a psychological mystery/thriller with a touch of the mythical, set in Hawaii.  Julia took note of many of the elements in the book and its genre and produced nine cover concepts – an awesome choice!  We rejected some as too YA and others as not mystical enough or too clichéd.  Others didn’t communicate the island setting.  By gauging the WOW response from readers and feedback from my editor, I selected the concept that has become the new cover.  Thank you to people who commented that it might be a little clichéd.  It’s difficult to place a book firmly in its genre and keep the image fresh.  The limited colour palette catches the eye and, as other voters noted, it reflects the psychological and mystical elements in the book, as well as the setting.  Julia was also working with a series “look” in mind – she’s creating concepts for Book Two at the moment.  Exciting!



I’ve chosen Paul and Kendra to win an ebook copy of The First Lie.  Their comments reflect thoughtful consideration of the issues I’ve grappled with.  Many thanks.



I think the second cover, which I voted for, is the most commercial. i.e. most likely to entice people to buy. But I still like the original cover for its own sake and think it is the most interesting artistically.


I chose the second cover because of the water and reflection of two different faces. I found this image both disturbing and intriguing, which is how I expect to feel when reading a psychological mystery/thriller. Good luck!


‘The First Lie’ is available from Amazon.

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/First-Lie-Selkie-Moon-Mystery-ebook/dp/B00K1VC20Y/

Amazon UK: http//www.amazon.co.uk/First-Selkie-Moon-Mystery-Series-ebook/dp/B00K1VC20Y/


Website:  Virginia blogs about writing and book matters at http://www.selkiemoon.com/

You can also follow Virginia and Selkie Moon:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/selkiemoonmysteries

Twitter: https://twitter.com/selkiemoonbooks

Cover Reveal – ‘Just The Way You Are’ by Lynsey James


Today I am taking part in the cover reveal of ‘Just The Way You Are’ by Lynsey James.  Her debut novel, it is being published by Carina UK on the 8th April 2015.  Below you can read a bit about this book.


Book Blurb

Dear Ava,               

How do you start writing a letter to someone, six years after breaking their heart?

Ava is unlucky in love as well as in life. The new office bitch has landed the dating column Ava wanted, and she can’t remember the last time she had a second date. It’s a good thing she has best friends Max and Gwen to pick up the pieces.

Deep down, Ava knows the reason why one date never turns into two – she’s in love with someone else. Someone she’s never even met.

It all started six years ago, with a letter from a secret admirer, Mr Writer…but then they suddenly stopped and Ava was heartbroken.

Now the letters have started again and Ava knows it could mean winning back the dating column at work. This time she’s determined to unmask Mr Writer…and find out once and for all if he’s Mr Right or Mr Very Definitely Wrong!



You can buy ‘Just The Way You Are from Amazon:-

Amazon UK – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Just-Way-You-Lynsey-James-ebook/dp/B00ULP98PM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1426588394&sr=8-1&keywords=Lynsey+James

Amazon US – http://www.amazon.com/Just-Way-You-Lynsey-James-ebook/dp/B00ULP98PM/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1426588427&sr=8-2&keywords=Lynsey+James

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25128842-just-the-way-you-are?from_search=true


Guest Post by Helen Carey

Author Picture

Today I would like to introduce all of you to the lovely Helen Carey who talks about why her novels are set in the Second World War.


Why do you set your novels in the Second World War?

I have always been interested in the Second World War. My uncle died in it as a glider pilot in the Sicily landings and my father had often told me about his experiences including how he kept chickens at his army camp and sold the eggs to his fellow officers! I had also met a wonderful neighbour who had lived in the same house in London right through the war. I happened to mention this to my agent and soon afterwards I was commissioned to write three wartime books, which became the LAVENDER ROAD series.

It all happened really quickly and at first it seemed a daunting task, but after months of research I began to realise that the Second World War is an amazing period to write about. So much happened during those six traumatic years, especially in London. As well as the bombing and the fear of invasion, there was also a kind of breaking-down both of class, and of traditional male/female roles. People, who previously would never have met, were thrown together, often in unusual circumstances. The privations of war and the constant anxiety for friends and family put extra pressure on everyone, and people coped in different ways.

I quickly realised that all of this makes a fantastic background for a novel. I have always been interested in the way people often show unexpected strength in difficult circumstances. The war offered me so many avenues to explore, whether it be a wannabe actress fighting for the chance to get into ENSA, or a girl determined to reopen her parents pub after it was bombed, or a society debutante deciding to put her languages to good use by volunteering to join the SOE.

My research gave me a plethora of stories, some poignant, some tragic, some funny, and led me to meet so many wonderful people who had lived through those difficult and challenging years.

Sadly many of those people have now passed on. And it was their memories that I found the most interesting element of my research when I first started writing the Lavender Road books. Yes, historical records are great, but nothing compares with someone telling you at first hand what it was like to be caught in an underground station when a bomb severed the water main, or to crawl through the cellars of a collapsed building searching for a trapped child, or to take a tiny riverboat over to rescue stranded soldiers at Dunkirk, or to be parachuted into occupied France. And it’s not just the big events, it’s the small memories too, Americans soldiers sticking their chewing gum on the door of a hospital ward while they visited injured colleagues, a precious pound of sugar carried in a tin helmet, the terror of a war office telegram, the delight in a fresh egg.

Last year I interviewed a ninety year old doctor who, as a medical student in Oxford in 1941, had been shown the laboratory where a little team of scientists developed the first ever usable penicillin. He told me they were having to use bedpans to grow the cultures in, they simply didn’t have anything else available.

Later on in our chat, he casually let slip that when he was crossing the Atlantic in 1942, the ship he was on was torpedoed at night, and he spent several hours tossing about in the dark on a makeshift raft in his dressing gown and slippers, before eventually being rescued.

That is one of the odd things about the war, people who lived through it often look back as though it was all quite ordinary. But it wasn’t, it was extraordinary and it forced people to show extraordinary amounts of courage and resilience. That’s what makes it such a fascinating period to write about.


About Helen Carey

Novelist Helen Carey is best know for her World War Two novels Lavender Road, Some Sunny Day and On a Wing and a Prayer, which has recently been voted the winner of the e-Festival of Words Historical Fiction Award.

Helen’s two contemporary novels, Slick Deals and The Art of Loving, are also available as e-books.

As well as writing Helen likes to paint and works from a small studio in a converted goat shed on the small Pembrokeshire coastal farm where she lives, and which she and her husband run as a wildlife haven. She also teaches creative writing at Trinity Saint David and Aberystwyth Universities.

Helen has recently signed a fabulous deal with Headline Books. Her new novel, London Calling, the fourth in the Lavender Road series, will be published at the beginning of 2016.



Helen’s website: http://www.helencareybooks.co.uk

Helen’s blog: http://helencareybooks.wordpress.com

Or join her on Twitter: @helencareybooks

Or Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/helencareybooks

Find Lavender Road on Amazon: http://viewBook.at/B0066DLQGM

Blog Tour – ‘Ivy Lane’ by Cathy Bramley

Cathy Bramley - Blog Tour Poster

Last year saw ‘Ivy Lane’ first published in four parts as a digital series which proved to be very successful.  It is now out in paperback, released by Corgi on the 12th February 2015.  I was very lucky to be sent a proof copy and having now read it, I feel very privileged indeed to be part of this blog tour.

Tilly Parker has been through a terrible time but knows that she has to do something about her situation.  She needs a fresh start and some peace and quiet while she mends her broken heart.  So she decides to take on an allotment at Ivy Lane.  Tilly soon finds herself amongst a very friendly community who bring her out of her shell.  Can she start letting people back into her life and her heart?

I loved everything about ‘Ivy Lane’ including the cover which is just so pretty.  From the very first page I knew I would find it hard to put down this book.  I found it to be a very addictive read and it made me feel all lovely and warm inside.  Cathy Bramley has a wonderful way of writing.

There was a really good mixture of characters throughout this story, all of which were likeable.  Some of them had great personalities.  I like the way they all pulled together as a community.  Tilly was just so lovely and did so much for people.

At the back of the book is a collection of Cathy’s recipes some of which were mentioned throughout the story, so for those of you who like to cook and/or bake you will be in for an extra treat.  Some of the cakes made in the story certainly made my mouth water.

I can see why ‘Ivy Lane’ did so well last year.  I don’t somehow think that I would have been patient enough to read it in parts though.  I now have another favourite author to add to my list and I hope to read everything that Cathy Bramley writes.

‘Ivy Lane’ is a story about community spirit, friendship, love and new beginnings.

Thank you for an absolutely amazing read, Cathy.

I give this book 5 out of 5.

Blog Tour – ‘Behind the Scenes’ by Sophie Childs


‘Behind the Scenes’ is Sophie Childs debut novel.  It was published by So Vain Books on the 26th February 2015.  Today sees the start of a blog tour in celebration of Sophie Childs book.  I was kindly sent a copy of ‘Behind the Scenes’ to review.

Bethan Brooks lives in Kilburn with her boyfriend, Lee.  Bethan having recently got herself a secretarial job finds herself working for the boss from Hell.  However, it seems she doesn’t have much choice at the moment but to stick it out.  You see, she has to support Lee whilst he spends his time rehearsing with his band and singing at weddings.  He keeps telling her that one day they’ll make it big, but that’s hard to believe.  Bethan is a big film fan so escapes by treating herself to trips to the cinema.

One day on her commute to work Bethan gets a big surprise when she sees her favourite actor on the tube and soon finds herself chatting to him.  A further encounter finds Bethan being invited to spend a day on set.  This leads to serious repercussions for her but maybe it was meant to be, especially when Bethan soon finds herself involved in the world of glamour and celebrities.

On first starting ‘Behind the Scenes’ I wasn’t too sure if I would like it, but I was soon engrossed and found myself really enjoying it.  I thought Bethan was a bit too dreamy at first but as the saying goes anything can happen.  I was so glad that she was able to achieve what she wanted to.

I didn’t warm to Lee at all.  He struck me as wanting to have his cake and eat it right from the start.  He didn’t want to support Bethan at all which I thought was very selfish.  It seemed to be all about him.

I found this story to be very predictable at times but that didn’t put me off.

‘Behind the Scenes’ is a light-hearted, relaxing and enjoyable read.

I give this book 4 out of 5.



One very lucky person has the chance to win a copy of ‘Behind the Scenes’ in paperback.  To enter just leave a comment telling me why you love to read.


Terms and Conditions 

This competition is open internationally.

The closing date is the 15th March 2015 at 23:59 p.m.

The winner will be randomly chosen and contacted by myself and their details given to So Vain Books who will send out the prize.


Below is the list of bloggers taking part in this blog tour:-

Monday 2nd




Tuesday 3rd




Wednesday 4th




Thursday 5th



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