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Blog Tour – ‘The Lighterman’ by Simon Michael

‘The Lighterman’ was published in paperback on the 8th June 2017 by Urbane Publications and is out as an eBook as well.  I am delighted to be taking part in this blog tour.  Having loved ‘the Brief’ I just know that this is bound to be a winning series.  I have an extract for all of you to read and a competition at the end, but first here’s what the book is about.

 

Book Blurb

The Lighterman is the third book in the bestselling series of legal thrillers starring barrister Charles Holborne.

Simon Michael’s follow up to the bestselling The Brief and An Honest Man, continues the adventures of criminal barrister Charles Holborne. The Lighterman provides more of Charles’ personal history, dating back to the war years when he worked on the River Thames with his cousin Izzy.

When Izzy is accused of murder Charles must dig up the secrets of the past to defend him. But brutal gangland leader Ronnie Kray will stop at nothing to get his revenge on Charles for the events of An Honest Man. Can Charles save his cousin…and his own life?

Simon Michael brings the past vividly back to life across a beautifully rendered 60s landscape, and delivers a gripping piece of thriller fiction that will excite any fan of the genre.

 

Extract

Prologue
September 1940

Luftwaffe Hauptmann Heinz Schumann releases his bombs at 03:45 hours. His Dornier 215 is in the middle wave of the attack and although several of the escorting Messerschmitt 109s have been shot down, the approach has been easy. The cloud cover as they crossed the Channel had melted away, and the bomber squadron had simply followed the meandering line of the Thames, deviating slightly every now and then to avoid the puffs of smoke from the anti- aircraft fire and then returning to its course. Ahead of Schumann clusters of incendiaries continue to rain onto the city, dropped by the leading bombers in his formation. As each new cluster falls there is a dazzling flash followed by a flame soaring up from a white centre, turning the underside of the barrage balloons silvery yellow and throwing up great boiling eruptions of smoke. And as each burst of black smoke clears in the breeze, the great river reappears, a black snake in a brightly-illuminated landscape of uncontrolled fire.

As he releases his payload, Schumann is able to look down and obtain a perfect view of the U-shaped bend in the river known by the Britishers as The Isle of Dogs. He watches the bombs drop, becoming tiny black dots before they are swallowed up by the great orange and yellow tongues of flame which leap hundreds of feet into the night air, as if making futile attempts to lick the belly of his Dornier. The Port of London is burning to the ground, and to Schumann’s eye it is both terrible and beautiful.

It takes the 1000 kg bombs 42 seconds to hit the ground. This is what happens on the ground during that period of 42 seconds:

Hallsville Junior School, Agate Street, Canning Town is heaving with over 600 East Enders – men, women and children – awaiting evacuation. Almost all of them are homeless, their houses and schools having been destroyed in the first few days of the Blitz. Some have gathered together a few treasured possessions; some have a cardboard suitcase or two; some, recently dug out from collapsed buildings, have nothing but the nightclothes they stand in, their modesty covered by borrowed blankets, soot and building dust. Almost all have lost family members and the majority carries injuries; the walking wounded of working class London.

New dazed families continued to arrive at the already overcrowded building but, despite all, spirits have been reasonable for much of the day. Then, as the hours pass and the promised transports fail to materialise, muttering turns to anger and anger to shouting at the hopelessly overrun authorities. They are sitting ducks, they protest, with no air raid shelter to protect them and another bombing raid inevitable. By early afternoon a blind eye is being turned to the dozens of East End servicemen who desert from nearby postings to slip into the school and spirit their families away.

The unrest turns to barely-contained panic when the air raid starts. Children shriek with terror and cling to their mothers’ legs as the bombs scream down, shaking the ground with each impact, and the drone of the oncoming Luftwaffe planes goes on, and on, and on, wave after wave, dulling the senses, making it impossible to think beyond the thundering engines and the rising hysteria.

40 seconds.

Harry Horowitz, tailor and furrier, lately of British Street, Mile End, and his wife Millie Horowitz, milliner, huddle at the very end of a corridor at the back of the school with their boys, Charles aged 14 and David, 12. Despite the noise of the German planes, the bombs raining down all around them which shake the entire building, and the thick dust-laden air which catches in her throat, Millie’s lifelong debilitating anxiety is focused mostly on David. Her younger son had been running a fever when dragged out of their damaged home two nights earlier, and he now lies in her arms, sweating and shivering uncontrollably. Crouched next to them on the floor of the narrow corridor are four other families, one being that of Millie’s best friend, Sarah, who along with her husband and three girls had arrived earlier that afternoon to claim the last remaining floor space just inside the door leading out to the playground.

30 seconds.

Another bomb – one in fact released by the plane preceding that of Luftwaffe Hauptmann Heinz Schumann – screams down towards Agate Street and for a few seconds every adult in the school building holds their breath and falls silent. It lands with an almighty impact and the entire building shakes violently, but it misses the school, destroying instead the row of buildings on the opposite side of the road. Pieces of masonry and shrapnel ping off the cobbles of Agate Street and several heavy pieces of debris crash into the school roof at the front of the building.

‘That’s it,’ announces Harry. ‘We’re leaving.’

Harry Horovitz is a short, dapper man, always perfectly turned out in a three-piece suit, a watch chain across his slim torso. He works long hard hours in his little East End factory which produces high-quality fur coats, stoles and hats for the carriage trade. When he returns to the family home, invariably late and tired, he speaks little, preferring to sit in his armchair by the coal fire in waistcoat and shirt- sleeves and read the newspaper from start to finish in silence. Everyone knows that Millie, sharp-featured and sharp-tongued, wears the trousers in the Horovitz household. However, few realise that on the rare occasion when Harry put his foot down, Millie always complies without a word. She stands and lifts David to his feet, turning to her friend.

‘You coming, Sal?’

Sarah looks up at her husband, who nods his assent.

The nine East End Jews grab their pathetic suitcases and shoulder their way through their terrified neighbours and friends, shouting their apologies over the drone of the aircraft and the explosions all around them, and emerge through the door into the playground.

15 seconds.

‘Run!’ shouts Harry, as he leads them across the playground.

10 seconds.

Charles hesitates, looking back down the corridor as the rest of his family hurry outside into the orange tinted, dust-filled, cacophony of the air raid. Further down the corridor, into the bowels of the school and just outside its combined gymnasium and hall, is another East End family. The Hoffmanns live only 30 yards from the Horowitz household and their house had, like that of the Horowitz family, been almost completely destroyed in the raid two nights before. The two families often queue together with the same ration books; eat the same sparse food; speak essentially the same language in their respective homes, and have much in common besides. But they never speak beyond an occasional nodded greeting. The Hoffmanns, although refugees from Hitler like many in the surrounding streets, are not Jewish, and Millie and Harry Horowitz’s social circle simply does not include non-Jews. Their lives simply revolve around their home, their business and their synagogue. The Hoffmanns are, simply, “goyim” – of “The Nations” – and accordingly outside the circle. But the Hoffmanns have a daughter, a slim, fair and blue-eyed girl of fourteen, named Adalie. Unknown to either set of parents, while walking back from school every evening Charles Horowitz and Adalie Hoffmann have become friends. They have shared their thoughts on their teachers, their homework and on Hitler. And at Adalie’s instigation, they have shared several sweet, chaste, kisses.

So Charles lingers for a second or two, trying to catch a last glimpse of Adalie, and as a result very nearly loses his life. The rest of his family have stumbled across the rubble- strewn playground and are disappearing through the rear gates of the school. Outside on the street the air glows, backlit by orange flames on all sides; the fires of hell.

The shriek of Luftwaffe Hauptmann Heinz Schumann’s bomb fills the air as Charles, having given up his quest, races across the playground after the shadowy figure of his mother, the last of the party to disappear through the school gates ahead of him. Charles reaches the gate and takes two steps up Agate Street.

Impact.

The 1000 kg bomb scores a direct hit on the school. Charles is blown off his feet and finds himself sailing eight feet into the air, the explosive pressure drop making him feel as if his eyeballs are being sucked out of their sockets. He lands in an adjoining garden, destroying the rhododendron bush which breaks his fall, and suffers a bruised back and a cut to his scalp from a piece of flying masonry from the school wall. Everyone else in the family is unscathed. Although winded, Charles manages to roll back onto his feet in a single movement and continue running.
Harry Horowitz, soft-spoken East End tailor, has saved the lives of his family.

Later that day the government places a “D Notice” on the event, preventing accurate reports of the number of casualties to avert a collapse of morale in London. Officially 73 people died. Locals know that of the 600 or so men, women and children in the building, over 450 were killed instantly, many more in the hours thereafter, and almost all of the survivors suffered injuries. The Hoffmann family were blown to unrecognisably small pieces.

Four days later the Horowitz family unfolds stiff limbs and climbs down the steep steps of a bus in the centre of Carmarthen, and are introduced to the farmers who are to take them in. Four weeks of regular enforced chapel attendance later, Charles runs away and jumps on a Great Western milk train to London where he spends the next, and best, years of his life, running wild on the rubble-strewn streets of London and the one artery the Luftwaffe never managed to close: the River

 

Competition

Matthew Smith of Urbane Publications is very kindly giving away a paperback copy of ‘The Lighterman’ for each stop on the blog tour.  To enter just leave a comment telling me what you thought of the extract.  Has it left you wanting to read more?  Are you totally intrigued?

Terms and Conditions

This competition is open to UK residents only.

The closing date is 11:59 p.m. tonight, 13th June 2017.

The winner will be randomly selected and notified by the end of this week and their details will be passed on to Matthew Smith who will send out the prize.

 

‘The Lighterman’ is available to buy from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/the-lighterman/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lighterman-Book-Charles-Holborne-x/dp/191158300X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1497331771&sr=1-1&keywords=the+lighterman

Blog Tour – ‘Deadly Alibi’ by Leigh Russell

The wonderful Leigh Russell is back.  ‘Deadly Alibi’, the ninth book in the DI Geraldine Steel series was published in paperback by No Exit Press yesterday the 25th May 2017.  I am delighted to be participating in this blog tour and have I got a treat for you.  First though, here’s what the book is about.

 

Book Blurb

A hand gripped her upper arm so suddenly it made her yelp. Biting her lower lip, she spun round, lashing out in terror. As she yanked her arm out of his grasp, her elbow hit the side of his chest. Struggling to cling on to her, he lost his footing. She staggered back and reached out, leaning one hand on the cold wall of the tunnel. Before she had recovered her balance he fell, arms flailing, eyes glaring wildly as he disappeared over the edge of the platform onto the rails below. . .

Two victims and a suspect whose alibi appears open to doubt: Geraldine Steel is plunged into a double murder investigation which jeopardises not only her career, but her life.

When her previously unknown twin Helena turns up, her problems threaten to make Geraldine’s life turn toxic in more ways than one.

 

Competition

Hopefully the blurb has left you dying to read more.  If so, you’re in luck as I am running a competition in which you can win 1 of 3 x paperback copies of ‘Deadly Alibi’.

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 4th June 2017.

The winners will be notified within 7 days of the closing date.  Their details will be passed on to No Exit Press who will send out the prizes.

 

About Leigh Russell

Leigh Russell is a CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger Award nominee, a CWA Dagger in the Library longlisted author and People’s Book Prize finalist. She is the author of the internationally bestselling Geraldine Steel series: Cut Short, Road Closed, Dead End, Death Bed, Stop Dead, Fatal Act, Killer Plan, and Murder Ring. Cold Sacrifice was the first in a spin off series featuring Ian Peterson and followed by Race to Death and Blood Axe. Leigh studied at the University of Kent gaining an MA in English and American literature.

 

‘Deadly Alibi’ is available to buy from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Deadly-Alibi-gripping-thriller-Geraldine-ebook/dp/B01M5AMWY3/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1495739398&sr=1-1&keywords=deadly+alibi

 

Interview with Anthony Lavisher

Hello everyone!  I am finally back blogging and I have a lot coming up for all you readers over the coming weeks.

Today I would like to welcome the lovely Anthony Lavisher to my blog.  Anthony self-published his latest novel, ‘Vengeance of a Storm’, the last book in the Storm Trilogy on the 1st December last year.  Below is my interview with Anthony which I really hope you enjoy.

 

Can you tell me a bit about ‘Vengeance of a Storm’ please?

Thanks for having me, certainly, Sonya. Vengeance of a Storm is the culmination of seven years of work, the finale of my Storm Trilogy.

 

What made you decide to write a trilogy?

I grew up reading trilogies, starting with The Lord of the Rings and from there, falling in love with, and devouring, as much fantasy as I could afford or borrow. I love the format of a trilogy, be it on the page or on the silver screen, that natural progression through the story of the characters journey, all of the story arcs, so carefully stitched and threaded through the tale, finishing, hopefully, in a rich tapestry of adventure for both myself and the readers.

 

Where did you get your ideas from?

I overheard a conversation one day in my local supermarket; two members of staff were being, ahem, shall we say, less than complimentary about one of their colleagues. I moved on quickly, but as I queued at the checkout, I thought “Hmm! What if I had overheard something important? Something that would put my life in danger if I chose to do something about it?”

It offered up all sorts of possibilities and the first book Whispers of a Storm began to evolve from there.

 

Did you have to do any research at all?

I did a lot of research on the Middle Ages, one of my favourite periods in history. The trilogy is set in the Four Vales, an imagined medieval land, and I wanted to look at the everyday things people would have faced, their customs and their beliefs, the governance and political system, the tools and clothes they would have worn and the lives they would have led.

 

How long has it taken you to write each book?

It took two years for Whispers of a Storm and three for the sequel Shadows of a Storm (I moved to Wales during that time and started working for the Vale of Glamorgan library service). Vengeance of a Storm, the longest of the trilogy, took 17 months to arrive.

 

Can you relate to any of your characters?

I think there is a little of all of them in me somewhere. Everyone I have met in my life and many that I have not have sown the seeds of the characters that evolved through my tale.

If I had to relate to any of them closely, I think it would be Khadazin and, probably, a bit too much of Arillion.

 

Are you planning to write more books?

I have the ideas for at least seven more, so far…. ah, this is question seven 🙂 I have already started my next tale, a stand-alone modern thriller, a complete departure from my fantasy writing. From there, I shall spend several books in historical fiction before coming back to some thrillers and, who knows, perhaps one day a return to the Four Vales…

 

Where do you do the majority of your writing?

In the summer, I write at the rear of the cottage, where the sun is warmest. During the colder months I migrate to the dining room, closest to the largest radiator. Currently a part-time writer, my dream is that one day I can write full-time and have a study to write from.

 

How has social media helped you?

It has been a wonderful tool and for me, conversely, also the hardest part about the writing process. It puts you in touch with people you may never have met, a legion of eager readers and the other authors out there who are also trying to carve their path in the Ether. It helps to get you noticed, make people aware of your work, a platform from where your voice can at least have a fighting chance to be heard from.

I also find it a burden, however, as it takes up so much of my time. I don’t want to be camped over my laptop 24/7, or checking things on my phone all the time, but in this digital world we now live in, it seems that to get noticed, you do have to spend quite a bit of your day doing so.

 

What’s the best advice you’ve been given regarding writing?

“Be true to yourself and to your writing” – don’t be influenced by what people might want from your tales.

My own belief is also that if I am not enjoying it, nobody else will. The day I stop loving what I am doing, is the day I put the pen down (or switch off the laptop).

 

Who are your favourite authors?

First and foremost, David Gemmell – the British Fantasy writer who sadly passed away in 2006. His style, his tales opened up the floodgates for me and I have never looked back since my friend Alan loaned me a copy of his first novel “Legend.”

I also really enjoy Robert Harris and Bernard Cornwell’s work.

 

If you had another chance at life would you still write books?

Without any hesitation. The only exception/change I would make is that I would make sure I joined the E-book revolution a lot sooner that I did.

I am a stickler for the belief in the physical page and I held out far too long to get with the times.

~~~~~

Competition

Hopefully this interview has left you wanting to read Anthony Lavisher’s trilogy.  If that’s the case then you’re in luck as Anthony is very kindly giving away two paperback copies of ‘Whispers of a Storm’, the first book in the trilogy to start you off.

To enter just leave a comment telling me what you are reading at the moment.

 

Terms and Conditions

This competition is open to UK residents only.

The closing date is the 15th May 2017.  Any entries after this date will not be accepted.

The winners will be randomly chosen and notified within 7 days of the closing date.  Their details will be passed on to Anthony Lavisher who will send out your prizes.

~~~~~

About Anthony Lavisher

Born in Berkshire, England, Anthony has always loved writing stories. After many years of enjoying other authors works, he decided to try and give something back to the literary world. From an early age, since reading The Lord of the Rings, he has been inspired to write his own stories. He states that his favourite author is David Gemmell and that his style of writing has been inspired by the sadly missed author.

Anthony lives in Wales with his wife Amy and Mertle the cat. He is about to start work on his next novel ‘The Last Tiger.’

 

Links

Website: http://alavisher.wordpress.com/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/alavisher

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Anthony-Lavisher-Author/118025884963443

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4242577.Anthony_Lavisher

G+: https://plus.google.com/102712490566399197548/posts

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Anthony-Lavisher/e/B0079N6V68/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1485522874&sr=8-1

 

Blog Tour – ‘Unknown’ by Phil Price

blog-tour-banner

I am delighted to be taking part in this blog tour today.  ‘Unknown’ was published in paperback on the 1st July 2015 and is also available as an eBook.  I have an extract for you all and there’s a Rafflecopter giveaway at the end of my post.

 

Extract

Chapter 1

Year 10974 (1674 A.D.)

The two prone figures lay in the centre of the scorched field. Any grass or trees were either ashes, or twisted souls looking on at the slaughter. Bodies lay all around as tendrils of smoke caressed their cold limbs, moving slowly across the horseshoe shaped crater. The southern edge of the landscape gave way to a dense forest, whose trees were melded together in a brown and green weave that looked impenetrable. The walls on the east and west of the crater rose up high over the death and destruction, slowly falling at the northern edge where a raging river cut through the land on its way to the sea. The sunset, obscured by a thick blanket of cloud gave the crater a claustrophobic effect. The birds that circled overhead, or that sat in the branches in the trees, looked on with interest, their caw-cawing the only noise to be heard apart from the crackle of tinder.

A giant rook landed on a blackened twisted limb of a tree near the centre of the field, its beady red eyes searching out the best option for a quick meal. He knew what lay around him. Meat was meat. Whether dead, or undead. He hopped down from its perch onto a headless corpse, poking his beak into the cold yellow flesh where the head once rested. Slithers of meat were pulled away from the ragged stump as the rook feasted as fast as he could – before something saw him as a meal option too. He ignored the two corpses further on that lay almost touching. Their capes and tunics distinguishing them from the rest of the carnage. Both bodies were missing limbs. One had lost an arm and both legs below the knee, along with several gaping wounds across the body. The head was almost severed. Only the spinal cord barely held it in place as it lolled unnaturally to one side. The white tunic was now no more than a bloodied rag. The eagle emblem across the chest was covered in chunks of flesh and smears of charred earth. The other corpse had lost a hand and half its left leg. Its body was almost free of punctures, except for one in its chest that still had the sword that inflicted the wound lodged there. The black tunic was also covered in blood while the red spider in the centre of the chest was skewered by the large blade.  The battle was over for now. The next stage of the war was about to begin. Hibernation.  On opposite ends of the tree line, two groups walked through the smoke towards the cape wearing bodies. Their heads bowed as they trooped towards their masters. Two figures split from the packs, coming together in front of the bodies, one dressed in red, one in black.

“Looks like a dead tie. Pardon the pun Elias,” the figure in black whispered.

“So it would seem Torg,” the red clad figure said. They removed their hoods to address each other face to face.

White skin meeting grey skin.

Fangs facing tusks.

The larger black figure looked at the pitiful remains on the floor. “This will take some time. Let’s hope next time they meet it’s finished once and for all. Then our master will rule both lands, and maybe one day the other places. When that day comes my dear Elias, you’ll bow down to him.”

“Only in your sickened dreams Torg,” the red figure spat. “Next time we’ll be ready. He’ll be stronger. Things are already in place. The race is on, my friend, to see who wakes first.”

They beckoned their respective groups forward, hurrying to their masters, a stretcher being laid next to each of them. Carefully, they hoisted the bodies into the gurneys before setting to work binding the lost limbs back into place. The severed head was bound with strips of damp cloth and two wooden splints to hold it in place for the journey home, the limbs likewise until both groups gave a series of satisfied grunts and nods. The sword that protruded from the black figure’s chest was left in place for fear of doing more damage by removing it.

“Deliver that back to us when the time is upon us, for Korgan will not miss the mark next time. Once he’s slain his brother he will close the doors to your land for eternity. Then you can feed only on the mutant beasts that roam that place. Let’s see if that satisfies your hunger.”

Both groups parted to sneers and hisses as they made their way in opposite directions across the crater.

They would not return here until the brothers were ready to finish the feud that had festered for millennia.

 

About Phil Price

author-picture

Phil Price was born in Sutton Coldfield in 1974. He lived in various places until his family settled in Rednal, Birmingham in 1979. Growing up with an older brother and sister he always flirted with reading as there were always books lying on shelves around the house. Then in 1997 he embarked on a travel expedition that took him from Greece to Thailand, via East and Southern Africa. Sitting in dusty bus stations in Kenya, Tanzania, and Malawi gave him the opportunity to ignite his imagination fully. Since those far off days he has never been without a book to read.

He toyed with the idea of writing a book in 2009. After writing a few short stories he caught a whiff of a story in his head. It grew and grew in 2010 until he had enough to begin. Marriage and two children came along, with the story being moved to the back burner for periods of time. However during those periods of writing inactivity the story continued to evolve until it just needed to be written down.

The book is littered with places that had influenced Phil’s life. From the Lickey Hills in Birmingham, to the Amatola Mountains in South Africa with other locations, in-between and far beyond.

 

Purchase Links

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Phil-Price/dp/1515236757/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1483440933&sr=8-1&keywords=unknown+by+phil+price

Amazon.com – https://www.amazon.com/Phil-Price/dp/1515236757/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1483440983&sr=8-1&keywords=unknown+by+phil+price

 

Giveaway

Enter this giveaway by clicking on the link below.  The prize is 2 x eBook copies of ‘Unknown’.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

My 5th Blog Anniversary

It’s my 5th Blog Anniversary today!  I really can’t believe how fast the past year has gone.

I am still very much enjoying my blogging journey.  2016 has seen so many wonderful books being published and I truly wish I could read them all, but I guess that would be impossible.  No harm in trying though.  Through my blogging I have attended a number of book launches and events.  It’s been truly amazing meeting so many lovely authors and fellow bloggers.

My aim is to continue supporting authors and publishers as much as I possibly can.  I want to help get all those wonderful books out there.  I want to shout about them from the rooftop.  Over the next few months there will be lots going on.  The Urbane blog event I did back in March was really popular and I hope to be doing another one next year.

 

Competition

To celebrate my blog anniversary and to thank everyone for their support I am running a competition and everyone is welcome to enter.  Just leave a comment.

First Prize – A book or books of your choice worth up to £20.00 from Amazon

Runner-up Prize – A mystery prize

 

Terms and Conditions

This competition is open worldwide.

The closing date is 11:59 p.m. on the 6th November 2016.

The winners will be randomly picked and notified within 7 days of the closing date.

 

Good luck! 🙂

 

Book Launch – ‘Single by Christmas’ by Rosa Temple

book-cover

Congratulations to Rosa Temple whose new book, ‘Single by Christmas’ is out today.  There’s a Rafflecopter giveaway towards the end, but first a bit about this novel.

 

Book Blurb

You’ve heard the saying, ‘opposites attract’ haven’t you? Well meet 27 year old Alex Marshall, a party girl with a penchant for free flowing Prosecco, and her devilishly handsome scientist boyfriend, Charlie, who loves jazz and dinner for two.

Alex and Charlie are together for 11 blissful months until Alex goes out of town and does something she will later regret. Was she drunk? You bet. Does she want Charlie to know? Well what do you think?

With the couple about to spend their first Christmas together will Charlie be the forgiving kind or will Alex be Single by Christmas?

This is a feel good, Christmas novel with very few mince pies, not much snow and absolutely no mistletoe – just a couple of best friends, a sociopathic nemesis and a lot of drinking.

 

Excerpt

You might be wondering what I was doing, sitting in a graveyard at five minutes to midnight on Christmas Eve. And if you guessed gravedigger or graverobber, you’d be wrong. But ask yourself, who sits in a graveyard when it’s cold and out and out spooky unless it’s absolutely critical? The church, where I attend Midnight Mass with my family every year, is just across the way. But sitting on that particular bench just inside the graveyard was absolutely critical.

You see, in the lead up to Christmas I managed to lose something. Well, not something, someone. Charlie; my reason for living, my heart, my soulmate …  you get the idea. And before you start crying, don’t worry, he wasn’t buried there. At the time, I wasn’t exactly sure where Charlie was, but he knew I was there. Waiting.

By the stroke of midnight I would have known for sure if I’d truly lost him. I’d asked him to join me and my family for the service. They’d arrived earlier. I smiled and greeted them all – Mum, Dad, big sister, Elise, and her husband and my younger sister, Jo-Jo. They asked where Charlie was and I managed to hide my worst fears and say he’d be along soon, that he was held up. So they just kissed me and piled inside with the rest of the congregation.

My family had been looking forward to seeing Charlie, even more so than they were me. You see, like everyone who meets Charlie, they’d fallen in love with him. Who could blame them? He’s charming, he’s intelligent, he’s sweet, kind, generous. The list could go on. I admit those things weren’t what first attracted me to Charlie. No, the attraction was pure lust and desire. He walked into that New Year’s Eve party the year before and I was stunned into silence. And I’m never silent. Tall, well dressed, mesmerising looks and those dimples that appear every time he smiles, which he does a lot by the way.

And I love Charlie’s family, too. His mum, Leeza, his dad, Don, who Charlie gets his looks and sense of humour from, and his brother. I wasn’t sure Leeza approved of Charlie having a white girlfriend, at first, but I realised that was just paranoia on my part. His family are not like that. His mum, who I grew to admire and love, was just being protective, the way some mothers are.

But, I digress. My family had no idea that I’d seen Charlie twenty-four hours prior to the service and that we’d had a heated argument and that Charlie had practically slammed a door in my face. Minutes before that I’d made a complete and utter fool of myself in front of his wonderful family and he’d walked away with such disgust and disappointment in his face my heart broke in two. He’d closed the door on me but I hadn’t stopped sending begging texts and hysterical voicemails just so he would show up on Christmas Eve – like he’d promised me. I wasn’t expecting a miracle, just praying for one. Because it would have taken a miracle for Charlie to walk towards the church, bypass the tall wooden doors, see me on the bench, push open the graveyard gates and tell me he’d forgiven me.

With everyone nice and warm inside the church, I continued to sit watching puffs of vapour appearing in front of my face from every exhale, brimming with an apology that may never be heard.

You might be saying, “If Charlie’s that wonderful, why couldn’t he just come to the church, it’s Christmas after all?” You have to know, he’d never be that unforgiving without very good reason.

Honestly? It took a whole year of knowing Charlie to finally understand what it is to love someone completely and to be loved the very same way in return and just one month to lose it all.

And this is how …

 

Competition

Hopefully the blurb and excerpt have whet your appetites and are making you want to read this book.  If so, you’re in luck because Rosa Temple is running a competition in which she is giving away 5 eBook copies of ‘Single by Christmas’.  The closing date is 1st November.

To enter click on this link: Rafflecopter giveaway

 

About Rosa Temple

author-picture

Rosa Temple is a writer of romantic comedies, chick-lit and contemporary romance. To date she has published one novella, Sleeping with Your Best Friend, and her first full length novel, Natalie’s Getting Married, was published on 14th March 2016.

She has tried her hand at various occupations, from tea lady (albeit for one morning only after being returned to the agency because half an office block suffered caffeine deprivation) to supervising the office running the London Bar Exams.

Rosa is a Londoner born and bred and still resides in West London with ambitions to escape to the country when a suitable country pile becomes available.

In 2014 she was awarded a Distinction in her Creative Writing MA from Brunel University.

Rosa admits to being a reluctant keep fit addict. She owns a yoga mat, a pair of trainers and a spin cycle that gathers dust in the corner of her writing room. She vows that she will run the London Marathon again but has been saying this since her first and only marathon, run in 2010. Hence the trainers.

Having been a ghostwriter for several years, Rosa has written several magazine articles and has penned a multitude of one off novellas and novella length series in the romance genre and in its various sub-genres to include: contemporary romance, historical, adult only, romantic comedies and sweet romances.

Rosa is a member of a writing critique group who meet monthly. This lively and hard working group keep her on her toes as she hones her writing, listening and editing skills.

Rosa’s husband and eldest son are both musicians, her second son swims at a National level for his London team.

Before devoting the majority of her time to her writing of romantic comedies and chick-lit, Rosa was a singer (that’s how she met her husband) and still continues to perform and write songs.

Early reviews show that Natalie’s Getting Married is a favourite of many readers and book bloggers and she follows it with Christmas romantic comedy novel, Single by Christmas, with plans to publish a book series in the very near future.

Rosa loves to chat (about anything really) so follow her on Twitter @RosaT_Author or visit her blog, Rosa Temple Writes, on rosatemplewrites.blogspot.co.uk

Read an excerpt of Natalie’s Getting Married on Goodreads or Facebook

 

Links

Blog – Rosa Temple Writes: http://rosatemplewrites.blogspot.co.uk/

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RosaT_Author

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14071311.Rosa_Temple

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01LY2MLIH

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LY2MLIH

Google+ : google.com/

 

Blog Tour – ‘The Trouble with Seduction’ by Victoria Hanlen

Tour Banner

‘The Trouble with Seduction’ was published on the 25th April 2016 by Carina UK.  Today it is my turn on this blog tour.  Read on for my review.

This story is set in London, England, 1855.  Sarah, Lady Strathford, twice widowed and still fairly young is ready for a little bit of harmless fun, preferably with a man of her own age with and someone who she can have an adventure with.  That’s not too much to ask for is it!

Her hopes are raised when the very dashing, roguish and rather baffling Mr Cornelius Ravenhill appears.  As Sarah soon discovers though he is not the gentleman he seems and she finds herself battling against the corrupt and harsh world around her which threatens to destroy everything precious to her.  Will her seduction at the hands of Mr Ravenhill prove to be her saviour or was she better off on her own?

As most of you probably know by now I really enjoy historical fiction.  I liked the sound of ‘The Trouble with Seduction’ so was more than happy to give it a go.  The blurb is at the front of the eBook, something I think is ever so useful.  It’s very handy especially if like me you have loads of books on your e-reader and can’t remember what it’s about.

I thought this to be a very enjoyable read with an extremely complicated plot which keeps you guessing as to what really happened.  The author has an eye for detail and I loved reading about Strathford Hall and all its grandeur.  It made me wish I was there exploring it and searching out secret rooms and hidden passages.  Sarah Strathford’s late husband, Edward, the Earl of Strathford was an inventor.  He had created many wonderful things including some rather saucy sex toys.

There were a number of characters some of whom were very unsavoury indeed.  I took an instant dislike to Lumsley.  Sarah was one of my favourites though.  She had been through so much and her real problems were only just beginning.  I thought Sarah to be a very kind person.  She had set up a charity where children and adults came with their problems for help and to be educated.  I also really liked Damen.  I don’t want to give too much away but he was good for her even though he wasn’t who she thought he was.  He went about things in a bit of an underhand way but had his reasons.

Whilst reading this novel I came across a lovemaking scene that had been split between two chapters which was slightly off putting.  I personally felt that it should have all taken place in the same chapter.  There was also a fair bit of violence in this book but don’t let that put you off.  If you’re a fan of historical fiction then I would say that ‘The Trouble with Seduction’ is worth reading.

I give this book 4 out of 5.

 

About Victoria Hanlen

Author Picture

Award winning, historical romance author, VICTORIA HANLEN, has worked at a wide range of jobs, from fashion, to corporate business, to treading the boards of stage and professional opera. A lifelong writer, she once put her skills to use in PR and advertising. But her favorite form of writing is stories with happily-ever-afters.

Additionally, she likes to bake (especially pies), paint (especially barns with cows), and take photographs (especially of sunsets and critters) Victoria and her husband live in rural New England surrounded by a host of wildlife.

 

Links

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29538610-the-trouble-with-seduction?from_search=true&search_version=service

Amazon UK – http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01ARSC5O8/ref=x_gr_w_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb_uk-21&linkCode=as2&camp=1634&creative=6738

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Victoria-Hanlen-Books-1611094709107251/?fref=ts

Twitter – https://twitter.com/VictoriaHanlen

Website – https://t.co/GgwQxl2FSx

 

Competition

There’s a chance to win a £15 Amazon Giftcard.  To enter just click on this link – Rafflecopter Giveaway

 

Guest Post by Pamela Holmes

Author Picture

‘The Huntingfield Paintress’ is being published on the 2nd May 2016 by Urbane Publications.  The author, Pamela Holmes has written a guest post which I am very happy to be able to share on my blog.  There is also a chance to win copies of her book at the end.

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Don’t Ask Them

I probably did many things wrong when raising our two boys. But one mistake I did not make was to ask: ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’  I winced when a friend or relative, seeking to find something to say to awkward teens, posed that most dreaded of questions.  Why my dislike? Because I know there is no answer. What we want to be and to do changes as we go along, and that is to be applauded. For our lives and our wishes and even our skills change as we age. I have always feared that a child or teenager, keen to provide a polite answer to a polite question, may settle with equanimity, even relief, on an automatic reply, putting in place an assumption about what they ‘will be’ or ‘will do’ that he or she never re-visits.  How many lawyers and bankers and dentists have wandered into those professions because their mother or father did that job? Or worse, felt pushed to follow in the family business or job, having never asked themselves what they wanted?

Behind the question is an assumption that there is only one answer. But these days more of us are living longer, healthier lives so why should we settle to one profession or job or work type? Due to finances, health, caring responsibilities, even boredom – the prompts are myriad – many of us will change what we do and do so happily. I have worked as a farmhand, nurse, journalist, TV presenter, campaigner and dementia trainer. I am now embarking on a career as a novelist. My first book, The Huntingfield Paintress, comes out in May when I will be 61 years old. It is based on a true story, a Suffolk Victorian vicar’s wife who created a medieval ceiling, a fresco of angels and saints, in her parish church over a six year period starting just before she turned 50. As Mildred Holland worked from 1859 onwards, she would have been considered bonkers to risk life and limb painting up a ladder at this age.

Of course many people start writing in later life, and thank goodness for it. Diana Athill, Penelope Fitzgerald and Frank McCourt are examples of three people who, after employment or child-rearing or teaching, embarked on highly successful careers. Martin Amis may have argued that writers lose their edge once they reach old age (although I do not understand how he can deny that Tolstoy, Goethe, Yeats wrote with virtuosity as they aged) but he cannot challenge the fact that increasing numbers of people begin successful writing careers in later life.

Writing is not the only imaginative endeavour which marinates with experience and understanding. Many of us in the UK are engaged in creative activities but I wonder how many would have predicted in earlier years that this would be the case? So don’t ask the young what they want to be when they grow up. It assumes that we human beings stop developing and changing and growing as we go along.  I don’t want to do that. Do you?

 

Links

‘The Huntingfield Paintress’ is available as an eBook from Urbane Publications and the paperback can be pre-ordered – http://urbanepublications.com/books/the-huntingfield-paintress/

Can be pre-ordered from Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Huntingfield-Paintress-Pamela-Holmes/dp/1910692662/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1461510776&sr=1-1&keywords=the+huntingfield+paintress

Author’s Website – http://www.pamela-holmes.com

 

Competition

Book Cover

Matthew Smith of Urbane Publications is very kindly giving away three copies of ‘The Huntingfield Paintress’.  To enter just leave a comment telling me why you want to read this book.

 

Terms and Conditions

This competition is open worldwide.

The closing date is 11:59 p.m. on the 9th May 2016.

The winners will be notified of their win within 7 days of the closing date and their details passed on to Matthew Smith who will arrange to have the prizes sent out.

 

Good luck! 🙂

Guest Post by John Simmons

John Simmons

I now have a second guest post by John Simmons.

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The sum of reading and writing

Reading, writing, arithmetic – somewhat bizarrely called the three R’s. I always inclined towards the first two, but increasingly see them as two sides of the same equation. To become a better writer, become a better reader.

I always wanted to be a writer. And I’ve always read. But it wasn’t until I started training others to write with more impact that I fully appreciated the importance of reading for any writer, particularly to be effective writers at work.

In probing what makes writing ‘effective’ I realised that writing had to be ‘creative’. Now as I was training people to be better writers in the business world – rather than to be novelists, poets, playwrights etc – this was quite a leap for some people to make. Can business writing really be creative? Doesn’t it just need to communicate clearly and factually, with no frills, like the Ronseal ad to do just what it says on the tin? Well, no, because that will only take you so far and people – customers of any kind – are actually looking for a greater human connection. They are not inert recipients of information. Those customers respond to stories and the emotions that are unlocked by stories; stories that help them hear the individual human voice rather than the anonymous corporate one.

So my workshops were not ‘top ten tips to target higher sales’ but were about helping people to tell better stories. Of course, for those stories to work they have to be authentic, true to the writer and the organisation. So I have a fundamental mantra ‘put your personality into your writing’ – because it works. You realise as a writer that you are communicating not with a faceless mass categorised into A/B/C demographics but with one individual at a time – and that individual is your reader.

What are your readers reading by choice? Probably they are reading novels, biographies, poems. One of my fundamental workshop exercises became ‘your favourite book’. By asking a group of writers to talk about a book that represents their best-loved reading, enormous animation enters the room. When I then ask them to produce fictional writing based on, say, To Kill a Mockingbird or Girl on the Train, they begin to find out important elements of writing that can be applied to business writing. You learn by doing, discovering a novelist’s skills and realising that those same skills can be applied to the next strategy document you have to write.

So too with poetry. The techniques of rhythm, alliteration, assonance can all – used well – lift the quality of your business writing. You learn to influence people by using the emotional value of words chosen with care and used with deliberation.

To sum up, you can become a better writer of any kind if we break down the barriers between different kinds of writing. Read well, by which I mean read widely. Reading a good novel will give you pleasure and help you to become a better writer at work.

 

 

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Book Cover

Competition

Matthew Smith is kindly giving away three copies of ‘Leaves’.  To enter just leave a comment about the book cover.

 

Terms and Conditions

This competition is open worldwide.

The closing date is 11:59 p.m. on the 3rd April 2016.

The winners will be randomly chosen within 7 days of the closing date.  Their details will be passed on to Matthew Smith who will send out the prizes.

 

Good luck!

 

Interview with Jo Ely

Jo Ely

Jo Ely’s debut novel, ‘Stone Seeds’ is out on the 24th March 2016.  I asked her a few questions.

 

Can you tell me a bit about your debut novel, ‘Stone Seeds’?

Stone Seeds is set in the future, in the world of New Bavarnica. Its people live under a menacing dictator, The General, and even the words in their mouths, their food, their clothes, their children, are under the control of somebody else. The punishments for stepping out of line are swift and severe, and yet … Bavarnicans have found ways to grab back their humanity.

There are several tribes in Bavarnica and the general and his vicious accomplice, the shopkeeper Gaddys, have been clever enough to divide Bavarnica’s people. There is a living fence running like a line of spite between the tribes. There’s a killing forest which has its own mind, and a false-information system run by Gaddys. There is the stigma of ‘the greening’, a government policy in which any slave not taking their ‘forgetting medicine’ will undergo … Changes. After which anyone might take a potshot at them from an upstairs window. There have been routs and mobs against the ‘greened’. Worse things.

There are three main characters in Stone Seeds. Antek is an Egg Boy, a government controlled machine with a chink in his system – he feels. Zorry is a Sinta slave who serves the general’s feast table by day and hunts down lethal plants in the killing forest at nightfall. Difficult, dangerous work. Jengi is the shopkeeper’s ‘tame’ assistant and the last surviving member of the notorious warrior tribe, the Diggers.

Stone Seeds isn’t the kind of dystopian novel to feature swashbuckling macho men or swords flying, epic battles … But there is a silent war going on in Bavarnica every day. Nothing in Bavarnica is quite what it seems to be.

 

Can you relate to any of your characters?

I think this is a really great question and it makes me think of that saying, and I’ve no idea where it comes from, ‘We are all the people in our dreams’. I think that’s true of a writer and their characters, there is a little piece of me in all of the people in Stone Seeds, probably even the bad ones and the cowardly ones. Although not, I hope, Gaddys. Because Gaddys is a bona fide psychopath. I don’t even want to relate to her.

Of course there are the characters who have the qualities I can only dream of having, I would love to have Zorry’s courage, or that of her mother, Ezray, or her elder, Mamma Zeina. I would love to have Jengi’s genius for hiding out in plain sight, slipping through and under any fence put in his way. Or his gift for reaching out to people across the lines.

Antek is an empath and I feel very protective of him, but it’s difficult to know whether someone like Antek can survive in a place like Bavarnica, especially given that he doesn’t yet know what the general has planned for him. Little Zettie reminds me of my children when they were small, she’s resourceful and adventurous and very vulnerable. It would be impossible for me not to relate to her.

I feel as though I’ve been living with these characters for a long time now, I know them all pretty well and I love ’em for their flaws and their weaknesses as much as for their good points. All except for Gaddys. I don’t love Gaddys at all.

 

How does it feel to be having your first novel published? 

The story’s been rattling around in my head for so long that it feels really great to be able to share it with other people at last. And it does make all the hard work feel worth it. But it is pretty nerve racking at the same time, seeing it go out into the world. A bit like watching your first child start school.

 

Has writing always been something you’ve wanted to do?

I’ve always written stories and poems, although I wouldn’t have wanted to keep any of the early ones. And mostly, when I was young, I had to hide my stories from my older brother, who would find them and read them out to his friends in a high pitched voice. But actually, looking back, that is pretty good early practice for being a writer. You’d have to make sure that the line would work, even read out comically, and to a fairly disbelieving audience.

As a child I read a lot and lived mostly in my head, in my imagination, but for some reason, and in spite of the fact I was surrounded by books, it somehow never really even occurred to me to make that leap into thinking that I might ‘be a writer’. You know, as an actual Thing. Being a writer seemed like an audacious and impossible idea for a very very long time. It still does really.

 

Have you got any good advice for anyone wishing to write a novel?

Well read lots of books, obviously. But you knew that already. I think really the first trick is to try to carve out some time in your day to do it, and this may take a little creativity in itself. I used to get the paints and felt pens out and cover the floor in Lego, when my children were very small, to try to buy me some time with the old notebooks. It didn’t always work. Skip the housework, that’s a must. Or at a minimum, lower your standards. Invest in a pair of noise cancelling headphones and head out to your favourite cafe after work.

There is always a way to find the time if you’re truly committed – poet Salena Godden gets up at 4 am to write, and short story writer Jacqueline Crooks managed to write on buses and trains on her way to her seven day a week job at one point. Not many people have that kind of commitment, mind. But it does show that it can be done if you’re determined enough.

Another good tip, when you’re submitting your work, is to have nerves of steel. And if you can’t manage that then a good Plan B is to have at least one friend who will be able to make you laugh about it all. My best friend wrote me a spoof version of my first rejection letter, her letter was pompous and hilarious and it cured me of fear. Well … Almost. But everyone needs a friend like that when they’re writing.

 

Have any authors influenced your work?

It’s very hard for me to be objective about who has influenced me, I can only really tell you who I love to read, and top of the list would be Toni Morrison, Melanie Rae Thon, Jean Rhys, Alice Munro and I’ve read and re-read Olga Tokarszuk’s House of Day, House of Night more often than I can remember. I suspect that the stories I’ve read aloud to my children have altered my brain just as much as the stories I’ve chosen for myself. My youngest loved Mark Twain, Philip Pullman and Jack London. You have to be careful what you’re reading, mind, once you’re really imbedded in writing your novel. I once went on a manic reading splurge of Faulkner and all my sentences came out long and dreamy and deranged without having an ounce of Faulkner’s genius. I had to read Elmore Leonard for a straight month to cure myself.

The writer Trevor Byrne advised me to study the opening pages of Stephen King’s novels, to see what made them tick and made you want to read on, and that was a very helpful exercise. And I’m very lucky to work with a hugely talented writer, Sandra Tyler (she is a New York Times notable author and the chief editor of a small American literary and arts magazine, Woven Tale Press, which I help her to edit) and her love of a more pared back style of writing has made me tame my own words. Sometimes the best way to let the poetry come through is to say much less.

But really, for me, the big influence was always Margaret Atwood, specifically her speculative fiction. She’s creating these science fiction worlds but it’s really all about the characters for her. Who they are and how they respond to their circumstances, and to one another. How they feel. That’s the challenge I’ve set myself in my own writing.

 

What are you going to work on next?

I’d like to write another dystopian or speculative fiction because this genre lets me go to places where I wouldn’t normally be allowed, and to say much more than I could get away with saying in a real life setting. Having said that, I always want my science fiction settings to feel realistic. To feel like something which could actually happen, given the right, or the wrong, set of circumstances. I’m allergic to magic and dragons, if I’m being really honest, and you’ll never find them in my novels. But in this genre, speculative fiction, dystopian fiction, I can really let my imagination come out to play and that’s exciting.

Having said that, I always start with the people in my novels and that’s what I’m doing with this next novel too. I have all my characters and I’ve named them. They’re rattling around in my head. We’re just getting to know each other for now.

 

If you could live your life all over again, would you do exactly the same things?

This is a really good question but I think, on balance, I probably I wouldn’t do it the same way twice. There are the obvious mistakes I made, which everybody makes – should have worked harder in school, and at Uni, instead of partying and day dreaming. Shouldn’t have dated that guy, or err … That one either. Should have been braver in life, maybe. But these are only small things. The big thing I’d do differently is a cliche, and I apologise for that, but I think that when someone you love dies unexpectedly then you’re always left wishing that you had told them how much you loved them. Or told them it more. Those are the big things.

 

About Jo Ely

Jo spent her early years in Botswana, where the family garden was a fenced off piece of the African Bush. Having successfully dodged the snakes in the tomato plants, Jo came back to England and slowly read her way to Oxford Uni to study English. Her first job was editing multicultural education and anti-racism books for schools. Since then Jo’s published short stories, non-fiction and children’s books and written reviews for the world’s first online Empathy Library.

Described as “an intelligent, creative, imaginative, original writer” by Guardian Book of the Year author Trevor Byrne, Jo has been Shortlisted for the Fish International Short Story Prize and has had a short story selected for an anthology edited by New York Times Notable Book of the Year author Sandra Tyler (US edition 2016).

 

‘Stone Seeds’ is available to buy from Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/stone-seeds/

It can be pre-ordered from Amazon UK – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Stone-Seeds-Jo-Ely/dp/1910692875/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1458401003&sr=1-1

 

 

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Book Cover

Competition

Matthew Smith is kindly giving away three copies of ‘Stone Seeds’.  To enter just leave a comment about this interview.

 

Terms and Conditions

This competition is open worldwide.

The closing date is 11:59 p.m. on the 3rd April 2016.

The winners will be randomly chosen within 7 days of the closing date.  Their details will be passed on to Matthew Smith who will send out the prizes.

 

Good luck!

 

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