A Lover of Books

Archive for the month “April, 2015”

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Lindsay Complin is an unpublished author working on her first novel.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.

Interview with Sandra Danby

Ignoring Gravity Cover

‘Ignoring Gravity’ was published last year and is the first book in a series.  Sandra Danby contacted me with regards to being interviewed.


Your book ‘Ignoring Gravity’ sounds very interesting.  Can you tell me a little bit about it please?

This is Rose Haldane’s story. She is confident about her identity. She pulls the same face as her grandfather when she has to do something she doesn’t want to do, she knows her DNA is the same as his. Except it isn’t: because Rose is adopted and doesn’t know it. Ignoring Gravity connects two pairs of sisters separated by a generation of secrets. Finding her mother’s lost diaries, Rose begins to understand why she has always seemed the outsider in her family, why she feels so different from her sister Lily. Then just when she thinks there can’t be any more secrets…


Where did you get your ideas for this book from?

Separate strands came together over many years, not in any conscious process. I’m not adopted, nor are my close friends, but from my childhood I was always fascinated about what makes us the people we become. How much is genetic, how much is learned behaviour, likes and dislikes, that we develop as we grow up, influenced by family, friends and where we live. If I had been born in a big city, rather than on a small dairy farm in Yorkshire, would I have longed to go to London to be a journalist? Was the drive to be a journalist in me thanks to some unknown relative two or three generations back? I turned these questions over and over in mind, and a story started to form. Most importantly, it left me with literally hundreds of questions.


Did you need to do any research for the adoption storyline? 

I read endlessly about adoption and particularly the social attitudes and adoption processes in the UK in the Sixties. It was a different world then: pre-computer, paper records, names were mis-spelled, records misplaced, many adoption agencies were private and when they closed down the files disappeared. Researching is so difficult: Google can’t find a piece of paper from 1963, or decipher some dodgy handwriting.

So many girls who found themselves unexpectedly pregnant were given an ultimatum by their parents: the baby goes or you do. It was so bleak. The secrecy was based on shame, and this still compounds the difficulties facing people today who are trying to trace relatives via records from the 1960s. There are many families out there today who don’t realize they have relatives they have never met, don’t know they exist. That teenage girl who gave birth to a child in the Sixties and gave it away in shame is today a grandmother or even great-grandmother. And many of these women are still keeping the secret. A husband may not know his wife had a secret baby. And there are adults now in their forties and fifties who were never told their true origins by their adoptive parents, so perpetuating the secrecy. Records are being opened up now, but the research trail is still fraught with dead-ends and distress.

It is an emotional goldmine for a novelist. The Rose Haldane series will consider the various viewpoints of people caught up in the adoption triangle. Ignoring Gravity is the story of an adult who discovers she is adopted. Connectedness is about a birth mother, searching for the child she gave away in the Eighties. Sweet Joy, the third in the series, is the story of an adult who was a foundling, a baby abandoned on a doorstep. And so on. Adoption is a complex subject and it is impossible to cover all angles, all emotions, all possibilities in one novel.


Can you relate to any of your characters?

Rose is adopted, and I’m not. Lily longs for a baby, which I never have. But I was a journalist and I did live in Wimbledon. The correct answer to your question is yes, I can relate to them, they are my creations. But they are not real people. I have a vivid imagination, always have had, so I let my imagination do the work.


When will the second book in the series be out?

I’m writing Connectedness at the moment and it’s going pretty well. I’m aiming for a publication date in late 2015/spring 2016. The characters are formed, the research is done, I just need to get the words down on paper. Meanwhile, the plot of the third book in the series is churning around in my brain too. So there’s a lot going on!


Have you got any other writing projects on the go?

Yes, I’m researching the Second World War for a novel idea which is maturing like good wine. It will be a few years I think before I have the space and time to write it, so I’m content to enjoy research at the moment.

At the same time as writing Connectedness, I also write regularly about creative writing at my blog http://www.sandradanby.com/blog/. I love reading and so cannot resist reviewing books for my blog. Some are advance preview copies and some are bought on recommendation from friends. Probably 50% are old favourites taken from my bookshelf or borrowed from the library and re-read with pleasure.

My second blog, Notes on a Spanish Valley http://notesonaspanishvalley.com/ is a diary about our life in the quiet countryside of Andalucía. Nature notes, recipes, our journey to self-sufficiency with solar power and spring water, and photographs of our beautiful hidden valley. It is an adventure to live here, and 900 followers share our Spanish journey.


Do you think that reviews help books sell?

I know that I buy books based on three things: book covers which catch my eye in a bookshop, usually passing through an airport or railway station; reviews in newspapers, magazines and book blogs; word of mouth recommendations from friends. On my Kindle are two books recommended to me by a friend who lives in Singapore: The Gift of Rain and The Garden of Evening Mists by Malaysian writer Tan Twan Eng.


Were you ever given any good advice about writing and if so what was it?

Don’t get hung up on word count when you’re writing. Just get it out, get the words down. Don’t count or keep a regular tally: that’s like trying to swim while wearing a strait-jacket. And definitely don’t re-write as you go along: that’s what re-drafting is for. Greg Mosse, author and creative writing teacher – and husband of Kate Mosse, author of The Languedoc Trilogy – said once that Kate’s first draft of Labyrinth was half a million words. Half a million! And I was worried that the first draft of Ignoring Gravity was 140,000 words. Greg’s point was: just let the story develop, and go where it takes you.


If you had a chance to live your life all over again would you still write books?

And read them too… absolutely, I can’t imagine ever doing anything else!


About Sandra Danby

Sandra Danby

Sandra Danby grew up on a small dairy farm at the bleak edge of East Yorkshire where England meets the North Sea. She started reading early and has never stopped. After a degree in English Literature in London, she became a journalist. She now writes fiction full-time.



Website: http://www.sandradanby.com/

Watch Sandra Danby talk about the inspiration for Ignoring Gravity: http://youtu.be/TcOzrhGRc48

Watch the book trailer for Ignoring Gravity: http://youtu.be/jpzWKR4gx8I

Twitter: @SandraDanby

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sandradanbyauthor

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/sandradan1/

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6563021.Sandra_Danby

For the latest information about the ‘Rose Haldane: Identity Detective’ series by Sandra Danby, sign up for her newsletter [published 1-2 times a year]: http://www.sandradanby.com/about/

Paula Daly Competition


Paula Daly has so far had two books published, both of which I loved.  I reviewed ‘Just What Kind of Mother Are You?’ a few days before it came out in hardback in 2013.  You can read what I thought of it here:-




Last year I took part in a blog tour for ‘Keep Your Friends Close’ in which I reviewed the book:-




The lovely Paula Daly has offered signed paperback copies of her books.  2 lucky people will each win a copy of both ‘Just What Kind of Mother Are You?’ and ‘Keep Your Friends Close’.

To enter all you have do is leave a comment telling me about one of your favourite books.


Terms and Conditions

The competition is open worldwide.

The closing date for this competition is 11:59 p.m. on the 2nd May 2015.

The lucky winners will be notified within 7 days of the closing date and their details will be passed on to Paula Daly who will send your prizes out.


Good luck! 🙂

Guest Post from Tim Baker

Book Cover

‘Eyewitness Blues’ is Tim Baker’s latest novel.  He has written a guest post for my blog about research and how important it is.



There’s nothing worse than spotting inaccuracies in a novel.

Suspension of disbelief aside, even fiction should be as factually accurate as possible…I mean if your character is being chased by a pack of time-traveling zombies riding flying monkeys, and he/she shoots ten of them dead with a Colt single-action revolver, I’m afraid I’d have to call that bullshit.

A simple Google inquiry will tell you that particular weapon only holds six rounds.


Every novelist should do his/her research because, as Genghis Khan said, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.”

Actually, that quote belongs to Abraham Lincoln, but I had to research it to be sure, which took me about 45 seconds. If I hadn’t taken the time to verify it, I would have looked pretty silly, and those people who knew the truth may have stopped reading and dismissed me as a hack (or worse).

You might think that since I’ve written seven novels, two novellas and a collection of short stories I enjoy research.

You’d be wrong.

Research, to me, is a necessary evil…like going to the dentist. If I could go the rest of my life without it, I would. Since that’s probably not going to happen I’ve found a way to minimize it. I simply limit the amount of verifiable information needed to make my stories believable.

My research can be divided into two classifications: Plot research and technical research.


Plot Research:

Plot research isn’t really research as much as it is discovery.

I’ll give you an example…

In the summer of 2010 I read an article in my local newspaper about a man arrested for performing cosmetic surgery by injecting women with industrial grade silicone (aka caulking). When one of his “patients” died he was arrested and it was soon discovered that he had escaped prosecution for the same crime in Miami by ratting out his partner.

I did an hour’s worth of internet research and found that this practice was not uncommon.

Using a few key facts from a few articles, I came up with the plot for my fourth novel, Pump It Up.

The plot idea for my second novel, Water Hazard, was inspired by the speaker at a work-related seminar on ground water.

Once I’ve done this “research” it’s simply a matter of creating the right characters and letting them write the story for me.

Occasionally, and unavoidably, there are some aspects of my stories which require some factual information beyond my ken.


Technical Research:

In my first novel, Living the Dream, Kurt, the antagonist, finds a gun.

It’s a semi-automatic pistol, the kind with a slide. You’ve seen TV and movie characters “rack the slide” of such guns a million times, as have I…however…in the story, Kurt’s right hand had been recently mangled in a car door rendering it pretty much useless.

I realized I had a problem right away…How can he rack the slide with a mangled right hand?

Since I know next-to-nothing about guns, it was research time.

I emailed a writer friend (Tony Walker) who is a bona-fide expert on all things gun.

I asked him if a man with a severely broken hand could perform the task and, if not, what were his options?

Tony’s initial response was “give him a revolver instead”.

Given the nature of the story and Kurt’s misadventures, this wasn’t an option, so Tony explained how Kurt could do it using one hand.

Most readers probably didn’t give that particular passage a second thought…but I’d bet there were a few gun enthusiasts out there who were impressed with my apparent knowledge of guns.

The most research I’ve done for a single novel was for my sixth book, Unfinished Business.

The story involves a woman who works as a mortician. My plot research consisted of a casual conversation with a real-life friend who is a mortician.

The technical research was a bit more involved.

In the story I had to accurately describe the embalming procedure, so I interviewed my friend for over three hours.

She gave me more information than I needed. Much of it was never used in the story, but if a mortician should happen to read Unfinished Business they won’t be distracted by technical inaccuracies.

I also needed some information about paralytic drugs, so I called a friend of mine who works as a nurse-anesthetist. Fifteen minutes later I had enough information about succinylcholine to prevent any readers in the medical profession from scoffing at my lack of knowledge.

If I had to guess I’d say that I average between one and two hours for research per novel, which works for my novels because they are primarily character driven. They revolve around people…and I’ve been watching people my entire life!

Unbeknownst to me, I was researching my novels all that time.

My methods fit my books, but if I wrote historical fiction, medical thrillers or political espionage stories I’d probably need to do much more.

This is why I don’t write in those genres!


About Tim Baker


Tim Baker was born and raised in Warwick, Rhode Island.

He enjoys a wide variety of activities including sports of all kinds, music, motorcycles, scuba diving and, of course, writing.

An avid dog lover, Tim was a volunteer puppy raiser for Guiding Eyes for the Blind, raising and socializing potential guide dogs.

He has also studied and taught martial arts.

Tim writes fast-paced, off-beat crime stories full of colorful characters and loaded with unexpected and often humorous twists and turns, set in Flagler Beach and St. Augustine, Florida.

Currently, Tim is enjoying life in Palm Coast, Florida.



To contact Tim or find out about upcoming works please visit his website at www.blindoggbooks.com

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/BlindoggBooks

Twitter – https://twitter.com/blindoggbooks

Goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/2873061-tim-baker

Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B002U64TCW

Blog – https://blindoggbooks.wordpress.com/

Ringwood Publishing

Ringwood Publishing

I am very interested in learning about various publishers and what they do.  Ringwood Publishing kindly took the time to write a guest post for me.


First of all, we would like to thank Sonya for giving us the opportunity to write a piece for her blog.

Ringwood Publishing was founded by a group of Scottish friends who appreciated the difficulty of getting published in Scotland when you don’t have an agent or are not already known to the public. Creating Ringwood was an alternative to self-publishing for Managing Director and author Sandy Jamieson. His first published book, “Own Goal”, became a best-seller which allowed the company to go forward.

Ringwood quickly opened itself to other authors and has now for central mission to nurture and support new talented Scottish writers and established writers wishing to change the focus of their work. Its mission is to get their initial work published and then continue to support them and publish their further work, until such time as bigger, better–resourced publishers wish to publish them. All profits are directly re-injected in the company, in order to make future projects possible.

Ringwood is dedicated to publishing work of fiction and non-fiction, with a focus on Scottish key themes: politics, football, religion, money, sex and crime. Our catalogue contains a wide range of books, which include, amongst many fascinating titles: Carol Fox’s “Memoirs of a Feminist Mother”, a powerful and fascinating story about the author’s fight to become a single parent through infertility treatment; Sandy Jamieson’s “A Subtle Sadness”, an exploration of Scottish identity and politics; Stephen O’Donnell “Scotball”, a searing examination of the current state of Scottish football and the various social, political and economic forces that combine to strangle its integrity and potential; Jonathan Whitelaw’s “Morbid Relations”, a darkly comic take on modern Scottish life and family relationships; but also Gordon Johnston’s “Calling Card”, a crime novel which explores the impact of stress and trauma on individuals, encompassing their resort to addiction, recovery, and denial.

For more information, please visit www.ringwoodpublishing.com, where all our books can be ordered. Paperbacks and e-books are also available on Amazon.

Laure Deprez
Managing Director

Blog Tour – ‘The Liar’ by Nora Roberts


‘The Liar’ by Nora Roberts is being published by Piatkus on the 16th April 2015 in both hardback and eBook.  I am one of a number of book bloggers taking part in a blog tour to celebrate its release.  Below is my review.

Just imagine being betrayed by the one you love.  You thought you knew everything there was to know about him or her and you trusted that person immensely.  Then one day you find out you have been living a lie.  Horrible thought isn’t it?  For Shelby Pomeroy this is exactly what happened.

When Shelby’s husband Richard dies in an accident she is naturally devastated.  Left widowed with a three-year-old daughter Shelby is in for a very nasty shock.  She finds out that Richard wasn’t the person she thought he was.  Having lied to her from the start he has left her with huge debts.  Shelby is absolutely heartbroken but is determined to sort this mess out for the sake of her daughter, Callie.

Returning home to Tennessee to her family who she thought she had lost after running away with Richard, Shelby finds that they welcome her back with open arms.  Being back home really helps and gives her a new sense of strength and freedom as well as hope when she meets the lovely Griffin Lott.  Things are peaceful for a while until a shocking act of violence is traced back to Richard’s shady business and it becomes clear that her life is in danger.  Will Shelby be able to put the past behind her and move on?

For me this is the first novel by Nora Roberts that I have read and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  This was a very hard book to put down.  I really liked the writing style throughout and thought that the descriptions of the characters and places were just wonderful.

I warmed to Shelby straightaway and I loved her little girl, Callie.  She was left in a terrible situation but instead of giving up she got up and fought.  Shelby’s family were lovely too my favourite being her grandmother, Viola.  Griffin was such a nice man and so good for Shelby.

I read this book on my kindle but it is worth getting the hardback.  The cover is just so beautiful.  It will look great on any bookshelf.

I will be going on the hunt for Nora Roberts’ previous novels.

I give this book 4 out of 5.


About Nora Roberts

Romance novelist Nora Roberts

Nora Roberts is the number one New York Times bestseller of more than 200 novels.  With over 450 million copies of her books in print, she is indisputably one of the most celebrated and popular writers in the world.  Her last three hardback novels were all top ten bestsellers in the UK and in 2013 alone Little, Brown Book Group sold over 1.2 million net copies of Nora Roberts’ books.

Blog Tour – ‘Letters To My Husband’ by Stephanie Butland


Last year Stephanie Butland’s debut novel ‘Surrounded by Water’ was published in hardback by Transworld.  It is now out in paperback and has been renamed ‘Letters To My Husband’.


Book Blurb

Dear Mike, I can’t believe that it’s true. You wouldn’t do this to me. You promised.

Elizabeth knows that her husband is kind and good and that he loves her unconditionally. She knows she hasn’t been herself lately but that, even so, they are happy.

But Elizabeth’s world is turned upside down when Mike dies in a tragic drowning accident. Suddenly everything Elizabeth knows about her husband is thrown into doubt. Why would he sacrifice his own life, knowing he’d never see his wife again? And what exactly was he doing at the lake that night?

Elizabeth knows that writing to Mike won’t bring him back, but she needs to talk to him now more than ever . . .

How much can you ever know about the people you love?


As part of this blog tour I am posting an extract from the opening to the book; a letter from Elizabeth to her husband, Mike.



This is stupid. It’s 4am and I’m sitting downstairs
in the dark, writing a letter to you by torchlight. I don’t
want to put the light on. I don’t know why not. I
don’t know anything. I don’t know what day it is.
I don’t know where you are but I know you’re somewhere.
You can’t just be nowhere. Not all of that you.
You can’t have just gone.

Blake was in tears and in uniform when he came
to the door, and all I could think of was that you were
hurt, that something had happened to you, that you’d
got in the way of some idiot drunk driver or waded into
an argument that had got nasty. I remember thinking,
sod’s law that you’ve got hurt walking the dog when it’s
your job that’s supposed to be dangerous. I was already
thinking about how we would all tease you, for getting
into trouble walking a West Highland terrier. I didn’t
want to look at Blake’s face. It wasn’t a face that looked
as though it was planning to do any teasing, so I didn’t
look. I couldn’t.

I took my coat from the hook and I started to put
it on over my PJs because I assumed he was going to
take me to the hospital to see you. And then I started to
think about it all more seriously. How sad it would be
if it was something that meant you couldn’t do your job
any more – if you were going to be in a wheelchair, if
you had lost your sight – and of how we would get
through it, whatever it was, because – well, because
what else would we do? It would be you and me, our
world inside the big world, a yolk in an egg. It would
work. We would make it. It wouldn’t have been the first
time things didn’t go according to plan. I was so ready
to be strong.

But my fingers struggled with the zip, and I
couldn’t see properly, and Blake still wasn’t saying anything,
even though I was asking, asking, what’s
happened to him, where is he, was it a car crash, did
someone hit him, why can’t he ever learn that off duty
means off duty. He was just crying, and then he put his
hands over my hands and took them away from my
coat, and he said my name, twice, once gently, and then
again firmly so I had to look into his face, and then I

Blake caught me as I fell. The next thing I knew,
I was on the sofa and he was trying to make me drink
bloody tea. I think I screamed. I might have thrown the
cup – there’s a mark on the wall, anyway – and I was
shaking, shaking, and he was sitting next to me and
talking, but I couldn’t hear a thing. Nothing. The
newspaper was on the floor, we’d been halfway through
the crossword when you took Pepper out. And suddenly
I got the one that we were really stuck on. 3 across, Geg 
(9,3). Scrambled egg. Of course. How often have we
said how, once you get it, it’s impossible to see how you
ever couldn’t? And I opened my mouth to tell you. And
you weren’t there. And just for a split second I saw the
world in which you’d never be there again. I think I
pulled out some of my hair.

I don’t know why I wasn’t worried when you were
gone so long. I suppose I assumed you’d found some old
lady to help across the road. Maybe I didn’t think about
it at all. Already I look back at that me, happy and
unaware, and barely recognize her. Another world. A
better world.

Andy came – I suppose Blake had called him –
and he took my hand, and he cried but I didn’t. I just
felt sick at the thought of how many hands would touch
mine in my life, but never yours again. I felt as though
I was underwater too, with you, although of course I
knew they’d got you out. Pepper jumped up on to my
lap, and he was still a bit damp – Blake said it was
him, standing barking on the bank, then swimming
round in circles, who drew attention to where you were
– and his wet fur felt like the only real thing in this
whole horrible world.

And I’ve been blundering around in the blackest
blackness ever since. It hasn’t even been two days and
already this terrible place feels as though it will be my
home for ever. I could never have imagined how dark,
flat, endless this place would be. Maybe that’s why I’ve
stopped putting the lights on: they’re pointless. They
don’t stop the dark.

Oh, God, Mike. I can’t bear it here, but at the
same time I can’t be anywhere else. I can’t believe that
it’s true. You wouldn’t do this to me. You wouldn’t. You
promised. You’re the person who’s supposed to protect
me, so you can’t be the cause of this.

And anyway, there is so much of you. You can’t be
nowhere. Where are you?

Come home.

E xxx



I am running a competition in which 3 very lucky people will win a copy of ‘Letters To My Husband’.  To enter just leave a comment telling me why you want to read this book.


Terms and Conditions

This competition is open to UK residents only.

The closing date is 11:59 p.m. on the 27th April 2015.

The winners will be notified within 7 days of the closing date and their details will be passed on to the publisher who will send the prizes out.


Good luck! 🙂

Interview with Katie Stephens


The lovely Katie Stephens expressed an interest in being interviewed for my blog.  I thought her novel, ‘Catching Lightning’ sounded really good and wanted to know more about it.


Your new book ‘Catching Lightning’ sounds really interesting.  Can you tell me a bit about it please? 

Catching Lightning follows the story of Mel who has spent the past 14 years resenting her parents for abandoning her at a boarding school in England while they went back to Kenya, a country she hates, to run an orphanage and school for their charity.  A tragic accident forces her to return to Kenya for her parents’ funeral but meeting the gorgeous, English educated Sam was not part of the plan.   Finding her mother’s diaries reveals a lot of unanswered questions and the discovery of a detailed itinerary of a trip round Kenya that her parents dreamed of making with her makes Mel realise that maybe she had things wrong.  But will taking the trip make her fall in love with the man, the country, neither or both?


Where did you get the idea for this book from? 

I wanted to look at what would happen if you fell in love with a man who lived in a country you hated and whether love could win over hate.  I also wanted to show how secrets used to protect someone can ultimately create more problems than they solve.


Have you ever visited Kenya? 

Yes I was very lucky to go to Kenya in 2001.  I had the most amazing holiday there and completely fell in love with the country.  I feel very honoured to have been able to relive that holiday through writing this book.  Kenya is a beautiful country that will always hold a very special place in my heart – especially as it is where my husband proposed to me!


Can you relate to any of your characters? 

I think a lot of us have been in the situation where we have fallen in love with someone but know that the time and place seem so wrong.  Mel really believes that her feelings for Sam are wrong but thankfully love does find a way of making things right!


Are there any more books in the pipeline? 

Yes I am writing book three at the moment and it is very different from my first two as it is actually based in England.  I am enjoying writing it but am missing the chance to escape to Italy or Kenya in the way I did with my first two!


Describe a day in your life. 

A typical day in my life involves getting up early to get some exercising done before the family wake up.  It is then a case of getting children to the right place, at the right time, and if it’s a work day, me to the office.  If I’m not working them once the girls are at school, and I have any errands that need doing finished, I am at my computer, with my chocolate and get as much writing done as possible before it is back to the school run and afterschool activities.


Have any authors influenced your writing and if so who?

I’m not sure whether any authors have actually influenced my writing but I would certainly say that Carole Matthews, Lisa Jewell and Adele Parks have inspired me to put my writing out there and let people read it.


What do you like to do in your spare time?

As a working and writing mum spare time is limited but my Kindle goes everywhere with me so while I am parked up waiting for school or activities to finish I get some reading done.  I also love the cinema so will often sneak off during the day to watch a film.


About Katie Stephens

Katie Stephens

Katie Stephens works in PR and lives in Surrey with her husband Will and two young daughters.

In 2008 Katie signed herself up for a creative writing course and absolutely loved it.  She then found herself spending all her spare time (not much with 2 young children) at the computer.  Her first novel Candles on the Sand, set on the Amalfi Coast, was published in 2011 went on to become an Amazon bestseller.



Website – http://www.katiestephens.co.uk

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Katie-Stephens-Author/222608691088931

Twitter – @KatieStephensGB – https://twitter.com/KatieStephensGB


‘Catching Lightning’ is available to buy on Amazon:


Book Launch – ‘The Gingerbread Cafe Trilogy’ by Rebecca Raisin


Today is a very exciting day indeed for Rebecca Raisin.  ‘The Gingerbread Cafe Trilogy’ collection published by Carina is out.  I’m just loving the cover! 🙂


Book Blurb

Enjoy the warmth, cupcakes and hot chocolate of The Gingerbread Cafe series, and follow Lil’s journey to happily ever after…

Lil has every recipe down, from gingerbread men to cinnamon muffins. So when gorgeous outsider Damon opens a shop opposite The Gingerbread Cafe, Lil refuses to let him steal her customers without a fight – no matter how much he makes her heart flutter.

When it comes to love, Lil’s never quite got the method right! But it looks like this time, deviating from the recipe might just lead Lil to the magic ingredient she’s been missing all along…

Don’t miss this delicious series from best-selling author Rebecca Raisin – the ultimate romantic indulgence.


Book One – Christmas At The Gingerbread Cafe

The icing on her Christmas cake!

Christmas is the season the Gingerbread Cafe in Ashford, Connecticut was made for…but owner Lily couldn’t be feeling less merry if she tried. She’s spent another year dreaming of being whisked away on a sleigh-ride for two, but she’s facing festive season alone – again. And, just to give her  another  reason to feel anything other than candy-cane perky, a new shop across the road has opened… Not only is it selling baked goods, but the owner, with his seriously charming smile, has every girl in town swooning.  But Lily isn’t about to let her business crumble — the Gingerbread Cafe is the heart of the community, and she’s going to fight for it! This could be the Christmas that maybe, just maybe, all her dreams – even the  someone-to-decorate-the-Christmas-tree-with  ones – really do come true!


Book Two – Chocolate Dreams At The Gingerbread Cafe

Chocolate…the most irresistible temptation?

The Gingerbread Cafe is all a buzz! This Easter, Lily and the rest of the town of Ashford, Connecticut are planning a truly decadent Chocolate Festival. Cooking up a storm, CeeCee and Lily are not just baking a batch of their sinfully delicious chocolate-dipped gingerbread men, but an excess of chocolate truffles, squidgy, cinnamony hot cross buns and melt in your mouth chocolate eggs. The Gingerbread Cafe staff have definitely enjoyed the tasting process!

Add in Damon’s cute-as-a-button seven year old daughter, Charlie, up for a visit and Lily’s perfect Easter may just be around the corner. Until her ex-husband Joel turns up demanding twenty thousand dollars… Suddenly the future of the Gingerbread Cafe is not so clear…and Lily finds herself eating far more of The Gingerbread Cafe’s treats than her skinny jeans allow…

Can Lily concoct a brilliant plan to save her beloved café, convince Damon she has no feelings for Joel and still throw a Chocolate Festival the town will be talking about for years? There’s only one way to find out…

Welcome back to the warmth, cupcakes and hot chocolate of The Gingerbread Cafe – your home away from home.


Book Three – Christmas Wedding At The Gingerbread Cafe

You are invited to the wedding of the year!

Snow is falling thick and fast outside the Gingerbread Cafe and inside, its owner Lily is planning the wedding of the year. Her wedding! She never dreamt it would happen, but this Christmas, she’ll be marrying the man of her dreams – in a Christmas-card-perfect ceremony!

The gingerbread is baking, the dress is fitted and the mistletoe’s in place – for once, everything’s going to plan. That is until her mother-in-law arrives… Suddenly, Lily’s famous cool is being tested like never before and her dream wedding is crumbling before her eyes.

In the blink of a fairylight, the Gingerbread Cafe has been thrown into chaos! Lily thought she had this wedding wrapped up, but with so much to do before she says ‘I do’, can Lily get to the church on time – and make this Christmas sparkle after all?


About The Author

Rebecca Raisin is a true bibliophile. This love of books morphed into the desire to write them. She’s been widely published in short story anthologies, and in fiction magazines. And now she is focusing on writing romance.

Rebecca aims to write characters you can see yourself being friends with. People with big hearts who care about relationships and believe in true love.


Buy Links







Guest Post by Virginia King


The lovely Virginia King is back on my blog with a guest post.


Getting Inside her Head

How a Group of Real Women Became One Feisty Heroine

Reviewers are describing Selkie Moon as a character they can relate to – “charming, spirited, intelligent” as well as “enchantingly honest” with “a fine sense of humour”.  In ‘The First Lie’, Selkie’s got to dig deep to “take on the challenges that are literally haunting her steps.”  One reviewer says: “King gives the reader a perfect story on a silver platter that ties us tightly to the fate of this remarkable woman.”

As the creator of Selkie Moon, I’m delighted that readers are finding her fascinating and real.  I’d like to say she’s just like me, but for a start she’s thirty-four and I’m “somewhat older” 🙂  Here’s a glimpse into how I created her.


Food, Wine, Secrets

To make Selkie a multi-layered character, I needed to get into the heads of more than one modern woman.  I invited a group of thirty-something singles to have lunch with me.  I plied then with food and wine and got out my notebook!

They talked about their lives.  I got insights into different careers – from life coaching to copywriting.  They explained the challenges of short-term contracts and a freelance life.  I learnt about the meaning of ‘friends with benefits’ and the need to use your ‘gaydar’ with potential lovers.  We talked about the biological clock and their desires around career and children.

“If Selkie meets a guy she likes,” Emma told me, “she’ll definitely google him before dating him.  She doesn’t want any surprises.”

“She’ll have at least one gay friend,” Sally said. “Someone she confides in.”


Soul Mates Suck

“I’ve changed my profile on RSVP,” Kate shared, “to cut out the men looking for their soul mate.”  She pulled a face. “You’d be surprised how many arrange to meet you and when you walk up you can tell they’re waiting for lights to flash and an orchestra to play or they’re out of there.  I put ‘forget the fireworks and the violins’ on my profile and my responses dropped by fifty percent.”


Committed to Non-Commitment

As the afternoon wore on secrets were revealed.  Jules lived with a guy on and off and he was the one who wanted more.  “I was the girl who didn’t commit.  Life was frivolous and fun.  No strings.  I found out later that he married someone just like me – she even looks like me.  I’d treated his love way too casually.  I was … afraid.”


Not Passion, Control

Prue told us about her ex.  “I didn’t have any concept of emotional abuse until I met Ben.  I was smart, with a great job and a flat, and he was in a band, penniless and couch surfing.  I know now that he knew the only way he’d keep me was to control me.  He was ‘into me’ big time – telling me what to wear, getting insanely jealous over nothing, putting me down in a twisted way.  He systematically isolated me from my family and friends until I lost all my confidence.”  It was only when Ben went on tour with his band, that Prue suddenly saw his ‘passion’ for what it was.  “While he was around I believed it,” she said.


A Scream across the Table

The wine was doing the trick.  “I was so lonely one night,” Rosie said, “I actually took JJ back to my flat.”  “Oh God,” Sally screamed. “I’ve slept with him.  I didn’t want anyone to know.”  We dissolved in tears of laughter.


A Woman under Pressure

These real women gave me the background to make Selkie Moon a complex character.  If you read ‘The First Lie’ you’ll recognise snippets from that lunch.  It’s the qualities of her relationships that interweave to create this multi-dimensional story about a modern woman under pressure to unravel a frightening psychological mystery – to find out the truth about herself.  I’m very grateful to my lunch partners for their generosity and honesty.  Selkie is ‘real’ because of them.



About Virginia King 

Virginia King lives in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney. She’s been a teacher, an unemployed ex-teacher, a producer of audio-books, a writer of 50+ children’s books, a writing workshop presenter and an award-winning publisher. “The First Lie” is her debut novel for adults, the first mystery in the Selkie Moon series.

In The First Lie, Virginia combines her love of psychological mystery/thrillers with her fascination for mythology and fairy tales.  Her writing process is to work without a plot and let the book evolve and gain depth from the ideas and serendipitous happenings that turn up along the way.  She believes that if the writer is surprised by the twists and turns in the story, the reader will be too.  Book Two in the series will be published in early 2015.

‘The Good Girl’ by Fiona Neill

The Good Girl

‘The Good Girl’ is Fiona Neill’s latest novel and it is out today, published by Michael Joseph.  I was very kindly sent a proof copy to review.

The Fields decide to leave busy London behind and relocate to Norfolk.  Ailsa has managed to get herself a new job as a headmistress in the local school and Harry who is a neuroscientist has taken time off to work on his book.  Teenagers Luke, Romy and nine-year-old Ben find life a bit boring at first and nothing much changes for them until two months later when the Fairports move next door.

When Romy and Jay meet properly for the first time they find that there is an instant attraction between them.  But Jay has a dark and shameful secret, one he thinks will put Romy off.  He eventually confides in her and to his surprise she promises to do what she can for him which is when the problems really start.  In her mission to help him Romy unravels some secrets from the past to do with her parents.

‘The Good Girl’ has been narrated by Ailsa and Romy giving the reader the views of both the mother and daughter as events unfold.  I thought this was a good idea and that it worked well.

This was a good story but I found it quite hard to get into it at first.  I felt that it was dragged out in places and that though interesting and informative there were just too many references to neuroscience and the brain.

There were a variety of characters in this story but out of all of them I really liked Ben.  For a nine-year-old he was very intuitive.  No-one could pull the wool over his eyes.  I felt bad for Romy even though what she did wasn’t particularly smart.  Always a hardworking student I don’t think she ever thought about what the consequences could be.

‘The Good Girl’ really does make you think.  Fiona Neill has covered a number of topics including one which is extremely controversial and shocking.

I give this book 3 out of 5.

Cover Reveal – ‘The Definition of Icing’ by Aven Ellis


This is the cover of ‘The Definition of Icing’ by Aven Ellis.  Don’t you just love the colours?

Read on to find out a bit more about this book.


Book Blurb

Kenley Hunter finally has everything sorted out. Fresh from studying chocolate making in Europe, she’s gambling everything on her new business, Confection Consultations.

All Kenley wants in life is people to take her seriously, to see the person on the inside rather than the blonde beauty on the outside. While pursuing her passion of chocolate, Kenley discovered people seek her knowledge. They see past the exterior and fall for the chocolate delights in front of them.

So with work as her focus, Kenley is ready to start her career in Dallas. Men are out of her recipe, because she fears that once they get past her looks, they’ll be disappointed in what they find. Kenley decides she’s all about the chocolate now.

Or is she?

Because a chance meeting with new Dallas Demon hockey star Nate Johansson might change everything. Sent to Dallas in a blockbuster trade, Nate is somewhere he doesn’t want to be, for reasons that have caused him heartbreak on multiple levels. Nate knows he will never trust a woman again after what happened to him in Minnesota.

But when he meets a woman with an intriguing name and a passion for chocolate, Nate isn’t so sure about his theory. And he might just learn a definition of icing other than the one used in hockey with Kenley as his guide…


‘The Definition of Icing’ will be released by Soul Mate Publishing on May 27 and will be available on amazon.com and amazon.co.UK.


Guest Post by Alex Johnson

Alex Johnson

Today I have the lovely Alex Johnson on my blog with a guest post in which she talks about her love of perfume.


A Love of Perfume

I’ve wanted to write a novel with perfume as its main theme for a long time, but always knew it would be a tricky subject to tackle. How can you truly put into words what a perfume smells like? As a journalist, writing about the marketing and selling of perfume every day, you might think I would be well qualified to put into words the mysteries of fragrance. But it’s much harder than you might think.

Take a sniff of your favourite scent. What does it smell of? Do you notice the individual “notes”, such as lavender, rose, or sandalwood? Do you get a rush of memory when you catch a whiff of it? Are there fragrances that strongly remind you of the person who wears it?

All these things and more I find fascinating and want to put into words. Rather than write a non-fiction book about fragrance (and there are plenty of those around!) I decided to put perfume as the central theme of my novel The Perfume Muse.

But first, I needed to do some research, and where better than in Grasse, the world’s perfume capital? It was the perfect excuse for a weekend away.

Nestled between the hills on the French Riviera, Grasse was everything I’d imagined it to be and the perfect setting for my characters Julie, Olivier and Jean-Jacques. The ancient winding streets, the narrow yellow buildings with their pastel blue shutters, the breathtaking views of the rolling hills and of course, the smell of perfume that wafts down the street from the world famous Fragonard perfumery in the centre. I took a tour round the Fragonard museum where I learnt about the ancients methods of making perfume before immersing myself in more fragrance history in the tiny dedicated perfume museum across the road.

But the best bit was visiting the perfume museum gardens outside Grasse and getting up close to the many wonderful plants, flowers and herbs used in perfumery. It was an absolute gem, with its miniature lavender and jasmine fields and plant specimens from across the world, which the visitor is encouraged to smell, feel and even taste. I’d read and written about ingredients such as ylang ylang and tuberose, but seeing, smelling and touching them up close helped me appreciate why perfumers prize these blooms and want to use them in their gorgeous creations.

Not many people have a perfume created just for them, because it’s a lengthy and costly experience. It can also be incredibly intimate and it was this that I wanted to get across in The Perfume Muse. The story is about the difficulties of falling in love: how Julie is torn between two men, both perfumers, who tangle with her affections through the creation of perfume inspired by and exclusively for her.

It was a journey for me as much as for Julie.

We both learnt so much about perfumery, but also about ourselves.

When you let perfume into your life, you must be prepared for the consequences.


About Alex Johnson

Alex Johnson arrived on the writing scene in 2012 with the launch of her first novel Run Away, a story which took root and grew after spending many anxious weeks waiting for emails from her teenage son who was on his Gap Year travelling round South East Asia. Some of his adventures were hair-raising, to say the least, and, in retrospect it was probably a good thing she wasn’t able to follow his travels on Facebook or on twitter!

Run Away also draws on Alex’s “main” career as an award-winning beauty journalist and she has a passion for perfume and cosmetics. By the end of the novel, she felt there was another story waiting to be told, with perfume as its central theme.

So, The Perfume Muse is a sequel to Run Away and takes her main character Julie to the beautiful Grasse region of France, the heart of the perfume industry. Alex was able to explore the mysteries of perfume and its impact on memory and love – with devastating consequences.

Alex has recently finished writing her third novel on a completely different theme that takes her deep into her mother’s past and survival during the Dutch Hunger Winter in World War 2.

Follow Alex on twitter: @oxfordnovelist

Cover Reveal – ‘Game of Scones’ by Samantha Tonge

Game of Scones

This is the moment we have all been waiting for.  I am pleased to reveal the cover of ‘Game of Scones’, Samantha Tonge’s new book which is being published by Carina on the 20th April 2015.


Book Blurb

A story of icing and flour…and how love doesn’t always go to plan!

Growing up, Pippa Pattinson’s summers were spent in the idyllic Greek island fishing village of Taxos. There she spent many long hazy days determinedly ignoring thoughts of the life her parents had mapped out for her (a dreary-but-secure accounting job and obligatory sensible husband!) Instead she daydreamed of running her own tea shop – serving the perfect scones –with mocha-eyed childhood friend Niko by her side…

Arriving back in Taxos for the first time in years, with suave boyfriend Henrik, Pippa barely recognises the tired little town – but is relieved to catch glimpses of the quaint, charming village she’s always loved. Together Niko and Pippa put together a proposal to save Taxos from tourist-tastic ruin, and at the heart of their plan is Pippa’s dream project – The Tastiest Little Tea Shop in Taxos. It’s time for Pippa to leave her London life behind and dust off her scone recipe that’s guaranteed to win over both locals and visitors. And amidst the rolling pins and raisins, it seems romance is blossoming where she’s least expecting it…

If you’re a fan of Lindsay Kelk or Lucy Diamond then don’t hesitate to step into Samantha Tonge’s truly delightful tea shop.


Author Bio

Samantha lives in Cheshire with her lovely family and two cats who think they are dogs. Along with writing, her days are spent cycling, willing cakes to rise and avoiding housework. A love of fiction developed as a child, when she was known for reading Enid Blyton books in the bath. A desire to write bubbled away in the background whilst she pursued other careers, including a fun stint working at Disneyland Paris. Formally trained as a linguist, Samantha now likes nothing more than holing herself up in the spare room, in front of the keyboard. Writing romantic comedy novels and short stories is her passion.

Samantha has sold over 80 short stories to mainstream women’s magazines. Her debut romantic comedy novel from CarinaUK Harlequin, bestselling “Doubting Abbey”, was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction best Ebook award, 2014. Its fun sequel is From Paris With Love. Mistletoe Mansion is a fun standalone Christmas novel.



Website – http://samanthatonge.co.uk/

Blog – http://doubtingabbey.blogspot.co.uk/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/SamTongeWriter

Facebook Page – https://www.facebook.com/SamanthaTongeAuthor


‘Game of Scones’ can be pre-ordered on Amazon:-

UK – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Game-Scones-deliciously-summery-read-ebook/dp/B00ULP98BQ/ref=la_B00FB6KDNC_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1427385329&sr=1-4

US – http://www.amazon.com/Game-Scones-deliciously-summery-read-ebook/dp/B00ULP98BQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1427385827&sr=8-1&keywords=game+of+scones

Guest Post by PJ Whiteley + Competition

Close of Play

‘Close of Play’ is PJ Whiteley’s first novel.  Below is an interesting guest post from the author.


Men don’t ‘do’ romantic drama. Or do we?

Recently, I joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association. As expected, there are rather more women than men. I thought that the ratio might be 85-15 or 90-10. In fact, it’s more like 99-1, and a few of the male card-carrying members use female pseudonyms. There is a similar story in the readership profile. The extent to which the cover and other aspects of marketing of my first novel Close of Play, a romantic comedy, have been tilted towards the expected female audience has been a fascinating learning experience, as my publisher applies the finishing touches.

If you read the mini-biographies on the Romantic Novelists Association’s site, many relate how they grew up as bookworms, typically devoted to fantasy tales and romantic melodrama. My CV is very different. I didn’t read Jane Austen or Jean Plaidy as a boy. I played sport, read about sport, made Airfix kits and watched war movies. The books I enjoyed usually had a male lead figure and a fair amount of sport or danger. So it was a long and very indirect route by which I came to pen a romantic novel in my early 50s. My childhood influences can hardly have had any impact at all.

Or so it would seem. But if one uses an expanded definition of romantic drama, my early years were filled with the most heart-rending, achingly emotional tales, often rendered by alpha males. Their names included Mick Jagger, Bob Dylan and John Lennon. There were a lot of tears and much insecurity; probably more direct soul-baring than any female scribe would dare, until Alanis Morrissette came along. Above all, these and other singers expressed an intense longing; this desire really to know a woman as well as love her.

So what is it about songs that gives blokes permission to get in touch with our inner feelings (or any other feelings, for that matter)? And why do we struggle when it’s on the printed page or at the pictures?

I’m afraid I can’t provide definitive answers, only a few observations. There is something about the ‘will they/won’t they’ drama that struggles to hold the male attention as the main or sole story arc; especially in a movie featuring Kate Hudson or Reese Witherspoon because, of course, we know they will in the end, after a break-up 20 minutes from full time as she discovers the secret that he had kept hidden (I still enjoy them, mind – guilty pleasure).

Humour helps. I might not have struggled with Far From the Madding Crowd at O-Level if Gabriel Oak hadn’t been so dour and earnest. Or a bit of political intrigue or philosophical depth. Or at least a car chase. Somehow, the question: ‘Is he The One for me?’ is not enough to hold our interest for 90 minutes or 288 pages. But for three and a half minutes, with a soaring chorus, and a macho guitar solo to come, we can give our passion a full-throated roar. We do have a romantic heartbeat, but it’s detected in different ways.

Close of Play has many ‘romcom’ features. I make no apology. It has a slightly different slant in that it’s from the man’s point of view. The two main male characters have been a bit sniffy towards love n romance n girly stuff in their early adult years. They prefer playing cricket and drinking beer. But each of them aches for the woman they really, really want, and fear that it might all be too late. I hope the female readers will be touched by their longing and forgive them their mistakes. And maybe, just maybe, the occasional bloke will read it, disguised inside GQ magazine, as he listens to Blood on the Tracks via his headphones.

PJ Whiteley, March 2015.


About PJ Whiteley


PJ Whiteley, who writes non-fiction as Philip Whiteley, is an experienced author, principally about management. He has written extensively about how low wages are bad for business, as part of a bid to try to convince economists that society consists of people. Taking a break from this Quixotic task, he has turned his hand to romantic comedy, seizing on the potential of men preferring to play or watch sport than talk about their feelings and stuff.

Close of Play is the first novel, centring on perennial themes of the human condition: love, loss, hope, life choices and that nagging feeling in the back of the mind that you may not fully be up to date with how your team is doing.

PJ Whiteley’s boyhood ambition was to represent Yorkshire Cricket Club. He gave up playing as an amateur a few years ago when facing the quicker bowlers became a bit too tricky, but still plays five-a-side football. He works from home full time as an author and is married to a sex therapist, so things could have turned out worse.



To celebrate the publication of ‘Close of Play’ I am running a competition in which 10 lucky people will win a paperback copy of this book.  To enter just leave a comment telling me what you think is romantic.


Terms and Conditions 

This competition is open worldwide.

The closing date is 11:59 p.m. on the 16th April 2015.

The winners will be randomly picked and notified within 7 days of the closing date.  Their details will be passed on to Urbane Publications Limited who will send out the prizes.


Good luck! 🙂


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