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Guest Post by Pankaj Giri

I am delighted to welcome Pankaj Giri to my blog.  His new novel, ‘The Fragile Thread of Hope’ was published as an eBook in November and I have been hearing very good things about it.  I will be reviewing Pankaj’s book next month.

Pankaj has written an interesting post about writing.  I hope you all enjoy it and that it proves useful for many of you.

 

Writing Tips

I have been writing for the past few years. In 2015, I authored a novel and got it published by a small publisher. However, as I began getting reviews, I realized the monumental blunders that I had committed, as far as writing is concerned. Over the years, experience has enabled me to cultivate certain writing tips that I would like to point out so that it could be of some help to aspiring writers.

Avoid big words and read extensively before beginning writing: In order to be different from other commercial authors, I committed a huge mistake in my first book: I used a lot of big words. Perhaps, it was one of the primary reasons that my book failed to be lapped up by prospective readers. The idea of using big words came to me when I read a book containing flowery language and happened to check out its review in Amazon. The reviewer stated that this is the kind of writing that young authors should emulate rather than trying to copy the bland language used by popular commercial authors. Misguided, I began to use big words, hoping publishers would be impressed by my vocabulary, but alas, it turned out to be a blunder. Later, after the debacle of my first book, I began reading some critically acclaimed books. Strangely, before writing my first book, I had not read many books. I’d just read a couple of mass market books similar to my genre, and as I had a story ready, I foolishly dived into the stream of writing. Somehow, I did manage to finish my book, but since I hadn’t read much, dangerous tips like the one mentioned above trapped me in their tentacles and thus I ended up corrupting my own book. The turning point came when I read the award-winning novel ‘The Kite Runner’. Then I realized that the key to good writing isn’t using big words, but weaving together simple words to create a magical effect, like Khaled Hosseini does. After that, I read a lot of books, which ended up influencing my writing style. So I would advise you to read a lot of books, especially critically acclaimed books before even venturing into writing. Also, while reading you should ensure that you are very observant. Whenever you come across a beautifully constructed sentence, a wonderful metaphor, or a magical simile, note it down somewhere and try your best to form a mental imprint of it. This will really help you to take your writing to the next level, as when you sit down to write next time, your brain starts suggesting those sentences when you come across similar scenarios in your book. You can then refer to your notes and try to imbibe those writing tidbits into your narrative. Once you have read a variety of books, a blend of different writing styles seeps into your subconscious, which eventually helps you forge your own unique writing style/voice.

Use fewer adverbs and adjectives: Another mistake that I had made in my first book was the blatant overuse of adverbs. As the prominent writer, Stephen King, says, “The road to hell is paved with adverbs”. Adverbs are a reflection of weak, lazy writing as they don’t form a good enough picture for the reader, thus violating the show-don’t-tell rule. For example, consider this sentence: “You are wrong,” Fred said angrily. Does this help you picture or feel anything? How was the anger? How was Fred’s voice? However, consider this alternative: “You are wrong,” Fred barked, his eyes glinting with anger. Now, with the stronger verb bark, you can imagine the rough tone of voice. Also, his eyes are shining with anger, helping you visualize the scene better. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use adverbs at all. Occasional use of adverbs, especially if it is not in dialogue tags, is alright. Also, try your best to remove redundant adjectives from your narrative. For example, instead of saying the smelly, intoxicated drunkard was walking, just say the drunkard was walking, as drunkards are already smelly and intoxicated.

Show, don’t tell: This is a slightly confusing rule as, traditionally, a story is meant to be told. However, if you remember, even the good traditional storytellers made us visualize the scene, which made the story much more compelling. The reader should feel as if he is travelling, seeing, hearing, experiencing everything along with the characters. For example, instead of saying that it was a rainy day and Mary got wet while going home, show her walking towards home, raindrops flirting with her hair, her shirt sticking to her skin. The traits of the characters should be shown by their actions, their mannerisms, rather than being told in a blunt way. For example, instead of saying that Tom was a funny man and he used to make everyone laugh, show Tom cracking a joke and everyone laughing at it. Also, weave the backstories of the characters as either plain remembrances or a photograph or object taking you to the past, which helps develop the character, rather than writing direct blocks of telling in between scenes. Also, writing dialogue is the best way to follow the show-don’t-tell rule. The characters are actively involved and their expressions, actions come to the fore. It is also easier to reveal certain things (character traits, backstory) in a dialogue rather than telling it in the narrative, but you should make sure that the revelation doesn’t seem forced or else it might backfire.

Don’t do head hopping: If you are writing in the third person, ensure that you don’t end up showing the thoughts of other characters apart from the main character. That ends up confusing the reader and diminishes the emotional connect that the reader has with the primary character.

Ensure proper punctuation: Read about the proper usage of commas, semicolons, colons, em dashes, parenthesis, exclamation marks before beginning your project. Make sure that your dialogue tags end with a comma if it is followed by he/she said/asked, but if the dialogue tag ends with an action, ensure that you use a period. For example, a dialogue ending with he said/asked: “I will kill you,” he said. A dialogue ending with an action: “I will kill you.” He banged his fist on the table. Ensure you use as fewer exclamations as possible, as it is considered as a form of casual, weak writing. Parenthesis/brackets also should be used very sparingly in a literary work.

Use proper editing tools: Don’t forget to use the grammar checking functions of Microsoft Word. It helps to identify a lot of errors like split infinitives, passive sentences, punctuation errors, and other basic grammatical errors. Also, I would recommend using the Grammarly tool, which weeds out all the bugs that Microsoft Word overlooks.

Be careful with descriptions: Ensure that you strike a perfect balance between insufficient and excessive descriptions of surroundings and feelings. The feelings shouldn’t be redundant, and you should weed out any descriptions which may seem unnecessary to the theme of the particular scene. But of course, some description is necessary to create a proper ambiance, and you should not remove them altogether. It is a fine line, but you have to tread it carefully to ensure that the book turns out to be perfect or at least close to it.

Write shorter sentences: The shorter and simpler the sentences, the lesser the chances of making a mistake. Short sentences contribute to easy readability, too. However, longer sentences are also necessary sometimes. You should be able to weave paragraphs with care, mixing short and longer sentences skillfully. It is an art which takes times to master.

Use unique metaphors and similes: Some metaphors and similes have been so overused that they have now become cliched and should never be used. For example, metaphors like ‘dead as a door-nail’, ‘as tall as a giraffe’, ‘only time will tell’ etc. will mostly put off the seasoned readers. Instead, unique metaphors and similes should be constructed. If not, then you should remove the metaphor/simile altogether and try to frame the sentence in a simpler way. To write a simple sentence is better than to write a cliched sentence.

Research and read your book’s reviews: Keep reading articles about writing tips and fuel your fire for knowledge daily. If you have already published a book, read reviews with a positive frame of mind and try to learn, even from the harshest review. Although negative reviews might dampen your spirits for some time, you should try your best to understand which aspect of the book the reviewer didn’t like and try to improve upon it in the next book.

On a parting note, I would like to say that writing is a never-ending journey. There is scope for improvement even for accomplished writers and the process of learning always has to go on. Cheers!

 

Book Blurb

A gripping emotional inspirational fiction about love, loss, and finding hope in the darkest of times.

In the autumn of 2012, destiny wreaks havoc on two unsuspecting people—Soham and Fiona.

Although his devastating past involving his brother still haunted him, Soham had established a promising career for himself in Bangalore.

After a difficult childhood, Fiona’s fortunes had finally taken a turn for the better. She had married her beloved, and her life was as perfect as she had ever imagined it to be.

But when tragedy strikes them yet again, their fundamentally fragile lives threaten to fall apart.

Can Fiona and Soham overcome their grief?

Will the overwhelming pain destroy their lives?

Seasoned with the flavours of exotic Nepalese traditions and set in the picturesque Indian hill station, Gangtok, The Fragile Thread of Hope explores the themes of spirituality, faith, alcoholism, love, and guilt while navigating the complex maze of family relationships.

Inspirational and heart-wrenchingly intimate, it urges you to wonder—does hope stand a chance in this travesty called life?

If you love contemporary literary fiction novels by Khaled Hosseini and Jhumpa Lahiri, contemporary christian fiction novels by Melissa Storm, and tragic romance novels by Jojo Moyes and Nicholas Sparks, then make time for Pankaj Giri’s new heartbreaking inspirational novel The Fragile Thread of Hope.

 

‘The Fragile Thread of Hope’ can be purchased from:-

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fragile-Thread-Hope-emotional-inspirational-ebook/dp/B076ZGGNH8/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B076ZGGNH8

 

About Pankaj Giri

Pankaj Giri was born and brought up in Gangtok, Sikkim—a picturesque hill station in India. He began his writing career in 2015 by co-authoring a book—Friendship Love and Killer Escapades (FLAKE). Learning from experience and the constructive criticism that he got for his first book, he has now written a new novel—The Fragile Thread of Hope, a mainstream literary fiction dealing with love, loss, and family relationships. He is currently working in the government sector in Sikkim. He likes to kill time by listening to progressive metal music and watching cricket.

 

Links

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

Twitter – https://twitter.com/_PankajGiri

 

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Guest Post by Pete Adams

It’s a pleasure having both Pete Adams and his famous hat back on my blog again.  I recently asked Pete where he was going with his writing and after seeking some good advice from his hat (it talks you know and is a real hatleman) he, or rather they, came up with an answer.

 

Life after

Kind Hearts and Martinets

 

“There is no limit to my creative ability, provided I am not required to be coherent”

Someone said that, didn’t they, not sure who…was it me?

Sonya Alford, your inquiry for an update on my writing is opportune. Although book 4 of the Kind Hearts and Martinets series, Ghost and Ragman Roll, is only recently published, you are correct that all the originally planned 8 books have been completed. You ask good questions, astutely probing:

So, what is next? Is it hard to start something new after living with Kind Hearts for so long? Where do you go when you have written a long series over an extended length of time? Do you look to the supporting characters, who over time, have developed, and maybe deserve a leading part of their own? I love a series, and love also spin-offs, where a new book might relate to characters and storyline extensions. So, what of:

 

Your Readers?

An author is aware when readers like to hear what happens to the people who have populated the books they have enjoyed. The difficulty, if there is one, is when some of the characters have become so popular, the reader demanding more, coinciding with a writer wanting to move onto pastures new. I often think this of authors who have a long running series with a detective or a detective pairing; how do they cope?

Your Publisher?

A Publisher likes to have a series that readers can become wedded to. It means they will buy the next book. I believe that the reading public are intelligent beings and do not want to be spoon fed a diet of more of the same. Characters can be taken on, maybe in different directions, provided there is a satisfactory coherence, and the storyline extensions are in context and believable.

…and You, the Writer?

As an author I like to explore different characters, and often find they can  drive a new narrative. I worry about becoming stale. I love it when I fall upon a new storyline and direction, with or without established characters. Balancing that with demand from my Publisher and my readers, now, that is a different matter.

Your Advisors, do you have any?

Yes, and lately I have been quiet, but not inactive. After nearly nine years writing, I have made good friends, and acquired positive critical colleagues and advisors who I will listen to, even if sometimes their probing is uncomfortable. I have completed eight books in the Kind Hearts and Martinets series, books 5 to 8 awaiting publication. However, following up on often insightful suggestions, and thinking long and hard, I have distilled a new direction I want to take. I intend to create a line of books that will develop into 3 separate (new) series:

 

Book 5 – Merde and Mandarins, when published next year, will be the final book in the Kind Hearts and Martinets series. There is a natural conclusion, but, as in life, it opens up new directions and opportunities to be seized.

Over the past few months I have been rewriting books 6 to 8, and they are now adapted to the future I am striving toward. These books will form the start of two separate series, albeit there are extensions and linking references back to the narratives in Kind Hearts, and some of the previously secondary characters take on a life of their own. Having said that, the central protagonists in Kind Hearts have become very popular, and appropriately, they will continue in another of the series, retiring from the police to form, DaDa, an eccentric Detective Agency. The character of Jack (Jane) Austin is just so radically fluid, if that is not an adumbration, the emphasis on the  dumb, and so long as he continues to be expertly steered by his intelligent wife Amanda, he opens up so many possibilities for real and surreal narratives, much as I believe life is, if only we would stop to look.

The fascination of Dadaism? It was an arts movement that flouted the conventional by producing works marked by incongruity. For me, in this series, it is about writing books with an idiosyncratic narrative, but with a grounded underlying concept, albeit it may appear at first skewed, there is a rational intendment, and, a significant ending.

Picasso said, “Everything you can imagine is real”, and that is the joy of the DaDa books, in the writing, and, I suggest, will be in the reading.

 

——

 

The Dada Detective Agency books:

Book 1 – The Duchess of Frisian Tun, writing as my female pseudonym, Susan Narmee, is a pivotal novel that embraces Kind Hearts as well as setting the scene for the subsequent Dada books. New characters join Jack (Jane) Austin, and his wife Amanda. The story, with a World War 2 twist,  is loosely, though lavishly, based upon the Canterbury Tales, except the characters go nowhere, the story set principally in one room in a house on Frisian Tun:

An au courant, romantic comedy, crime thriller. A droll and saucy insight into the Middle Class, Haute Monde, and Geography. Tales of a reclusive England with: The Journalist, The Professor, The Synchronised Swimming Instructor, The Fish Wife, The Dame, The Actress (really Jack Austin), The Geography Teacher, The Gossip Columnist, The Spy, The Police Inspector, The Man from the Council, The Priest, The Knight, The Super-grass (deceased), The Gangster, and, The Lady Blanche.

I see this also as a script that can readily become a stage play, something I would love to see.

Book 2 – Umble Pie – the Nun’s Orchestra, continues the genre, crime thrillers with an idiosyncratic narrative, the generative concept being Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. A spiraling, intertwined DNA of a real and surreal plot that exposes a conspiracy within a spate of sacrificial religious murders, featuring, the Vatican Intelligence Agency, The Pope  with his parrot Claudio, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Numpti of Cairo, and, heaven forefend, The Holy Barbaras. And what of Dada, rescuer, narrator, or maybe instigator? This novel establishes progressive new characters and storyline threads for future DaDa novels.

Book 3 – currently in my head and will NOT keep quiet:

DaDa and the Man from the Council.

 

——

 

Series 2: The Rhubarb Papers – Nakka of the Yard.

Rhubarb in the Mammon – is a crime thriller that picks up a popular secondary character from Kind Hearts, a Priest, who subtly steers this, the first book in the Rhubarb Papers series, that ranges from Portsmouth, and firmly places itself in London, where the series will be based.

An inept grandfather becomes a recluse in Portsmouth, to protect his granddaughter, Juliet; his wife, daughter and her husband, killed in a London car bomb ten years ago, a bomb that permanently disfigured his granddaughter. Juliet grows into a precocious 16 year old, and with her boyfriend, they stir a hornet’s nest when she tries to find out what really happened to her parents and Nan. A Scotland Yard Detective Inspector, landed with the old case notes, visits Nakka and his granddaughter in Portsmouth. Juliet’s unofficial, mysterious, back door inquiry, has been flagged at the Yard, opening a can of deadly worms thought buried; multiple murder, conspiracy, a corruption riddled Met Police, linked, tenuously at first, to an Establishment Bank in the City of London.

The second book in the Rhubarb Papers series has the working title:

A Misanthrope’s Toll – Wigs on the Green.

 

——-

 

Series 3: Completely new, will be a saga, from 1966 to modern day.

Book 9,  Larkin’s Barkin’, A Midsummer Night’s Chutzpah, is written, and is completely different to my other books. It is a sober, dark, crime thriller, set in 1966, East End of London. Two family gangs, a woman police detective sergeant, a  Palestinian Doctor, and a mysterious Irish detective inspector, who turns out to be looking to disrupt a planned IRA campaign in London. The link, a ceaselessly bullied and abused runt of a schoolboy, Chas Larkin, who through his experiences, and love of Roisin Dubh, the Black Rose, discovers his chutzpah, and asserts himself in a most unusual way, with unpredictable results.

This book stirred my emotions during the writing, often causing me to question where the story came from, it not having the light touch, of my previous books. It introduces a number of characters, both sides of the law and order divide, and gives the reader an insight into their personalities and circumstances. I see this opening up a long series of novels, with swings in character focus, that will eventually take us to modern day. A saga, following two families, The Larkins and Saints, The Police, MI5, the clergy, as they lose their grip on the hearts and minds, and a multitude of East End of London characters popping in and out, and their reaction to the politics and news of the day.

The tenth book and sequel, Flummery, A Syncopated Palaver, is underway, and we are in 1969 (the first IRA bomb in London was 1970).

And what of the Black Rose, I hear you ask, myth or reality? Wikipedia describes a Black Rose: “The symbolism in many works of fiction usually contrives feelings of mystery, danger, or some sort of darker emotion, like sorrow and obsessive love.” Now what is there not to like about that?

 

——-

 

How will these new series progress to Publication? You are a prolific writer, what else is there?

I would like to see my self-published first two books of Kind Hearts and Martinets, brought out by my Publisher with coordinated covers to go with the series (I love the Urbane designed covers). The first book, Cause and Effect, was originally titled Kind Hearts and Martinets, and I would revert to that. Then, book 5, Merde and Mandarins, published to conclude the story and set the platform for the future divergent series of books. However, all this will depend largely on the Publisher, but the books being all written, offers a tantalising next few years, and not unusually, I find myself in the hands of others, while I teeter on the precipice.

In the meantime, I just write. Outside my novels, my short story collection is growing, and I have written and illustrated 3 Whopping Tales. I would like to find a Publisher for them, and as you can see, things are moving along nicely at the gym:

 

 

Links

‘Cause & Effect’ (Kind Hearts and Martinets Book 1) can be purchased from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/CAUSE-EFFECT-Kind-Hearts-Martinets-ebook/dp/B00BG12YO2/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

‘Irony in the Soul’ (Kind Hearts and Martinets Book 2) can be purchased from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Irony-Soul-Kind-Hearts-Martinets-ebook/dp/B00G6OP8TW/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

‘A Barrow Boy’s Cadenza’ (Kind Hearts and Martinets Book 3) can be purchased from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/a-barrow-boys-cadenza/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Barrow-Boys-Cadenza-detective-Martinets-ebook/dp/B01080YCJQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1489138659&sr=1-1&keywords=pete+adams

‘Ghost and Ragman Roll’ (Kind Hearts and Martinets Book 4) can be purchased from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ghost-Ragman-Roll-Hearts-Martinets/dp/1911583034/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1489138659&sr=1-3&keywords=pete+adams

 

Pete and his hat can be found on Twitter – @Peteadams8

 

Guest Post by Sharon Booth

I am absolutely delighted to have the lovely Sharon Booth on my blog today.  Sharon’s new novel, ‘Saving Mr Scrooge’, the second book in the Moorland Heroes series, was published as an eBook on the 14th November 2017 by Fabrian Books.  Sharon has written a wonderful Christmas guest post which I hope you all enjoy.

~~~~~

Christmas. Just saying that word makes you feel all cosy and warm inside. What do we associate with Christmas? Off the top of my head, I would say, family, snow, Christmas trees, turkey, Christmas pudding, Christmas carols, holly, mistletoe, gifts, church, the Nativity, love, forgiveness, redemption, hope …

Some people, perhaps going through darker times, would associate the word with loss, with grief, loneliness, poverty, deprivation, with feeling excluded from the jollity that others seem to be enjoying, with greed and consumerism.

And some, refusing to accept any negativity around the Big Day, would label those people who are less enthusiastic as “Miserable”, “Miserly”, “Scrooge-like”.

All of these things are referred to — or stem from — Charles Dickens’ masterpiece, A Christmas Carol. Think about it. The Christmas we know and love, is so associated with the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, that the typical Christmas scene we often see on Christmas cards and decorations, is referred to as “Dickensian”. Charles Dickens, who – unbelievably – completed his novel within the space of six weeks, could never have imagined that his name and his characters would come to embody everything we imagine Christmas to be.

With the December release of the film, The Man Who Invented Christmas —  the story of those six weeks and how Charles Dickens came to create such an extraordinary piece of fiction — I decided to look back at how Christmas was celebrated before the publication of A Christmas Carol. What I discovered was that, generally, it wasn’t celebrated very much at all. Although once marked with much gaiety and joy, it became associated with Pagan festivals and fell out of favour during Puritan times. After the Restoration, Christmas was once again celebrated, but it never meant as much in the Christian calendar as did Easter, or even Boxing Day. At the beginning of Queen Victoria’s reign, Christmas was barely recognised as a holiday. By the end, it was the most celebrated day of the year, and many of the traditions we hold dear today were forever embedded in the nation’s consciousness.

Although Dickens didn’t exactly invent Christmas, he was certainly responsible for pushing it to the forefront of people’s minds, and fixing in our imaginations what the “perfect” Christmas should be like. Yet, A Christmas Carol started life in his imagination as a plea for better treatment of the thousands of child labourers, forced into terrible working conditions.  Dickens wanted to do something about their plight. He wanted to stir up support for improvements. He wanted to open people’s eyes to the injustices that were happening in the factories and mills. He wanted to shame the businessmen and manufacturers, and force change to happen for the good. Eventually, he came to realise that lecturing the privileged classes wouldn’t be so effective as appealing to them in the form of a story. And so, A Christmas Carol was born, with its focus on a wealthy miser who — from his position of strength, power and wealth — could no longer see the depths to which the poor were suffering.

Dickens used the plight of one family in particular, the Cratchitts, and the uncertain fate of the frail child, Tim, to prick at his readers’ consciences. His use of the spirit world appealed to a Victorian society that was in the grip of a fascination for the occult. He passionately wanted to educate people to the truth of what was happening in the workplaces and slums of Britain. He believed the ignorance of the middle and upper classes to the suffering of the poor was a grave danger:

This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased.”

In A Christmas Carol, the traditions we know and love today are drawn so beautifully — the snow, the plump turkey in the shop window, the Christmas dinner with its plum pudding, the giving of gifts. But, more importantly, the story of Scrooge and his redemption reminds us that, at Christmas, there are still people who suffer, still people who are ill, lonely, poverty-stricken, and that we need to remember those people, find room in our hearts for them, and open our eyes to the injustices in the world. It also leaves us with a sense of hope, that change is possible. That we can learn from the lessons of the past. That we can find love again. That we can truly know what the spirit of Christmas means.

When I wanted to write a Christmas novel which was all about second chances, redemption, and forgiveness, I knew there was no better model to look to than A Christmas Carol. Throw in a place of work where the employees appear to be suffering under their apparently uncaring boss, Kit, and a “ghost” from Kit’s past, called Marley, who is determined to save him, and I had the beginnings of my own small tribute to this wonderful story. Of course, there is a twist to the tale, and things may not be as they appear on the surface … I loved writing Saving Mr Scrooge, and I hope people enjoy reading it.

My own Christmas traditions include watching another tale of hope, love and redemption, It’s A Wonderful Life, on Christmas Eve every year, and reading A Christmas Carol during Christmas week. We can’t guarantee the snow, but I’m lucky enough to be having a Christmas tree, good food, and presents, wrapped up in the love of my family. I’m looking forward to a very Dickensian Christmas!

~~~~~

 

Book Blurb

It’s the time of peace on earth and goodwill to all men, but at Carroll’s Confectionary, the meaning of Christmas seems to have been forgotten. New boss, Kit Carroll, is hardly winning friends with his high-handed attitude, his foolhardy approach to production, and his tight-fisted treatment of the factory’s employees.

Marley Jacobs, his self-styled PA, is determined to make him see the error of his ways, and return the festive spirit to Carroll’s Confectionary.

Unfortunately, the little matter of their previous relationship, along with Kit’s callous treatment of her when they were teenage sweethearts, keeps getting in the way of her good intentions.

With encouragement from co-worker Don, romantic sister Olivia, and — astonishingly — the usually sceptical Great Uncle Charles, Marley decides to save this modern-day Mr Scrooge from himself, despite having no well-meaning ghosts to help her.

But revisiting the past doesn’t just stir things up for Kit. As Marley struggles to deal with bittersweet memories, present-day events take a surprising turn. Can the future be changed, after all?

And is it only Kit who needs saving?

 

‘Saving Mr Scrooge’ can be bought at smarturl.it/savingmrscrooge

 

About Sharon Booth

Sharon wrote her first book when she was ten. It was about a boarding school that specialised in ballet, and, given that she’d never been to boarding school and hadn’t a clue about ballet, it’s probably a good thing that no copy of this masterpiece survives. She is the author of nine novels, and has also written for The People’s Friend. Sharon lives in East Yorkshire, with her husband and their dog. She is one tenth of The Write Romantics, and a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association. She has a love/hate relationship with chocolate, is a devoted Whovian, and prone to all-consuming crushes on fictional heroes. Find out more about Sharon at www.sharonboothwriter.com

 

Links

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/sharonboothwriter

Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/sharon_booth1

Amazon Author Pages:-

UK – http://bit.ly/sharonboothpageUK

US – http://bit.ly/sharonboothpageUS

 

Blog Tour – ‘Class Murder’ by Leigh Russell

I am beyond thrilled to be kicking off this blog tour.  ‘Class Murder’ is being published as an eBook on the 7th December 2017 by No Exit Press and will be out in paperback on the 29th March 2018.  Having previously read a couple of Leigh Russell’s books I am really looking forward to this one.

To celebrate the publication of the TENTH novel in the DI Geraldine Steel Series, Leigh Russell has written an exclusive list of TOP TENs – a different one for each of the ten days of the Blog Tour.  First though, here’s what ‘Class Murder’ is about.

 

Book Blurb

‘Leigh Russell has become one of the most impressively dependable purveyors of the English police procedural’ – Marcel Berlins, Times

Detective Geraldine Steel is back in Class Murder – her tenth case!

With so many potential victims to choose from, there would be many deaths. He was spoiled for choice, really, but he was determined to take his time and select his targets carefully. Only by controlling his feelings could he maintain his success. He smiled to himself. If he was clever, he would never have to stop. And he was clever. He was very clever. Far too clever to be caught.

When two people are murdered, their only connection lies buried in the past. As police search for the elusive killer, another body is discovered. Pursuing her first investigation in York, and reunited with her former sergeant Ian Peterson, Geraldine Steel struggles to solve the baffling case. How can she expose the killer, and rescue her shattered reputation, when all the witnesses are being murdered?

~~~~~

TEN THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT GERALDINE STEEL

1. She cooks a wonderful Thai curry

2. She likes to read in bed

3. When she’s not working she listens to music in the car

4. She visits her grandmother’s grave once a year

5. Her first kiss was with a boy called Dan when she was thirteen

6. She is haunted by the memory of a killer who got away

7. She had a parrot when she was a child

8. Her favourite subject at school was Biology

9. She often wears black at work but her favourite colour is purple

10. She fell out of a tree and broke her arm when she was twelve

 

About Leigh Russell

Leigh Russell studied at the University of Kent, gaining a Masters degree in English and American Literature. She worked as a secondary school English teacher for many years, and is now a creative writing tutor for adults. She is married, has two daughters, and lives in North West London. She is a Royal Literary Fellow and CWA debut judge. Her first novel, Cut Short, was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger Award in 2010. This was followed by Road Closed, Dead End, Death Bed, Stop Dead, Fatal Act, Killer Plan, Murder Ring and Deadly Alibi in the Detective Inspector Geraldine Steel series. Cold Sacrifice is the first title in a spin off series featuring Geraldine Steel’s sergeant, Ian Peterson, followed by Race to Death and Blood Axe.

 

Links

‘Class Murder’ can be pre-ordered from:-

Amazon UK – http://bit.ly/ClassMurderAmazon

No Exit Press – http://bit.ly/ClassMurderNoExit

 

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

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/leigh.russell.50

Twitter – https://twitter.com/LeighRussell

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2919056.Leigh_Russell?from_search=true

 

Blog Tour – ‘Rocco and the Nightingale’ by Adrian Magson

‘Rocco and the Nightingale’ is the fifth book in the Inspector Lucas Rocco series.  It was published in hardback, paperback and as an eBook on the 19th October 2017 by The Dome Press.  I am delighted to be taking part in this blog tour for which Adrian Magson has written a guest post.  First though here’s what the book is about.

 

Book Blurb

When a minor Paris criminal is found stabbed in the neck on a country lane in Picardy, it looks like another case for Inspector Lucas Rocco. But instead he is called off to watch over a Gabonese government minister, hiding out in France, following a coup.

Meanwhile, Rocco discovers that there is a contract on his head taken out by an Algerian gang leader with a personal grudge against him. Against orders, he follows some leads on the original murder case, discovering as he does so, that the threats against him are real. The minister he is protecting is kidnapped, and it soon becomes apparent that the murder, the threats and the minister’s kidnap are all interconnected…

 

Guest Post

I DID IT TO SEE IF I COULD

It’s not unusual to hear authors say that they always knew they wanted to write. I’m not sure that was ever the case with me, but I do remember thinking when I was very young that telling stories must be the best job ever.

It came about when, aged 8, I was given a stack of Leslie ‘The Saint’ Charteris books and some Zane Grey westerns. Living at the time in very rural, wet and windy Norfolk, I was quite happy to be told to get reading and stay out of trouble. Although a lot of the words and meanings went right over my head at that age, I devoured the books and made my way to others, and that’s where my desire to read even more began.

I think my desire to write must have followed later, probably helped by winning a story competition at school.

The Saint books appealed to me because here was a character who solved crime, rescued people in distress and generally helped himself to the already ill-gotten gains of criminals in the process. What wasn’t to admire? Then there was Hank Janson and Mickey Spillane and a host of other stronger material to help me through the teen years.

But it was stumbling on the likes of Alistair MacLean, Desmond Bagley, Adam Diment, John Gardner, Adam Hall and many others that wedded me to the idea of writing a spy thriller.

It took a while and many attempts, in between a day job and writing hundreds of short stories and features for women’s magazines, but I eventually got a publishing deal (a crime novel, ironically, followed by four more in a series). Then came my first spy thriller – ‘Red Station’, also the first in a series. But that wasn’t all; by chance I’d also written a book set in France, where I grew up and went to school during the 1960s. ‘Death on the Marais’ turned out to be the first in what was to become the Inspector Lucas Rocco series, and both books were sold by my agent within 48 hours of each other, setting me on the path of writing two books a year.

The Rocco book came about because I wanted to try something different to the spy novel simply to see if I could. And that was where a lot of my writing began over the years, from comedy gags for Roy Hudd, short stories for BBC radio, a (very) short play featured during the Oxford Literary Festival, even some poetry which convinced me I was no poet when a magazine bought them but asked me not to submit any more. There were features for magazines here and abroad, words for greetings cards, T-shirts and beer mats.

Basically, trying anything to see if I could.

And now I’ve come back to Lucas Rocco with ‘Rocco and the Nightingale’, simply because I wanted to. After four books and a novella, it was bugging me – quite apart from being asked by readers when was I going to produce another one.

Here it is, and I hope you like it.

AM

 

About Adrian Magson

Hailed by the Daily Mail as “a classic crime star in the making”, Adrian Magson’s next book is Rocco and the Nightingale (The Dome Press – October 2017). This is the fifth in the Inspector Lucas Rocco series set in France in the 1960s.

Before this, Adrian had written 21 crime and spy thriller books built around Gavin & Palmer (investigative reporter Riley Gavin and ex-Military Policeman Frank Palmer) – “Gritty and fast-paced detecting of the traditional kind, with a welcome injection of realism” (The Guardian); Harry Tate, ex-soldier and MI5 officer – “fast-paced, with more twists and turns than a high-octane roller coaster” (New York Journal of Books); Inspector Lucas Rocco (crime series set in 1960s Picardie) – “Deserves to be ranked with the best” (Daily Mail), “Captures perfectly the rural atmosphere of France… a brilliant debut” (Books Monthly); Marc Portman (The Watchman) – prompting one reviewer to write: “the most explosive opening chapters I have read in a long time. Give this man a Bond script to play with!”; investigators Ruth Gonzales and Andy Vaslik – “Magson takes the suburban thriller overseas and gives it a good twist. [Readers] will happy get lost in the nightmare presented here” (Booklist Reviews).

Adrian also has hundreds of short stories and articles in national and international magazines to his name, plus a non-fiction work: Write On! – The Writer’s Help Book (Accent Press).

Adrian lives in the Forest of Dean and rumours that he is building a nuclear bunker are unfounded. It’s a bird table.

 

Links

‘Rocco and the Nightingale is available to buy from:-

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rocco-Nightingale-Adrian-Magson/dp/0995751056/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1508870169&sr=1-1

The Dome Press – https://www.thedomepress.com/product-page/rocco-and-the-nightingale-hardback

 

Adrian Magson is on Twitter @AdrianMagson1

Website – http://www.adrianmagson.com

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

 

Blog Tour – ‘A Litany of Good Intentions’ by Andrew Harris

Congratulations to Andrew Harris whose new book ‘A Litany of Good Intentions’, the second of The Human Spirit Trilogy is out today, published by Faithful Hound Media.  I am delighted to be taking part in this blog tour for which Andrew has written a guest post, but first here’s what the book is about.

 

Book Blurb

A thrilling, powerful and important story of a discovery that could change the world, that some would stop at nothing to keep hidden… 

Leading oncologist Dr Hannah Siekierkowski and her partner Lawrence McGlynn are visiting New Delhi for a conference, and enjoying a well-earned break. By chance, they meet Lawrence’s old friend Toby and his passionate daughter Okki, a charity worker. She introduces them to the organisation Sanitation In Action, and its charismatic leader, the young Chinese philanthropist Jock Lim.

An end to world poverty is more than just a dream for Jock. Through his charity connections and his fiancée Nisha’s extraordinary scientific breakthrough, Jock has discovered a way to release 2.6 billion people from the imminent threat of death and disease. Caught up in their passion and energy, Hannah agrees to help present their project at a conference in Uppsala, Sweden.

But with the discovery of a dead body, they realise that someone will stop at nothing to prevent them from achieving Jock’s dream. As the clock ticks down to the conference, Hannah and Lawrence are drawn into a web of corporate greed, racial prejudice and a seething hatred of the new world order: a hatred that originates back in the Second World War, with even earlier links to Einstein’s general theory of relativity.

An urgent fast-paced thriller, about right and wrong, people versus profits, and the best of intentions pitted against the failings and greed of humanity, which fans of Robert Harris, John le Carre and Michael Cordy will love.

 

Guest Post

A Reluctant Celebrity

For most people, finding a cure for cancer or saving the world from poverty, would be a momentous achievement. For Dr Hannah Siekierkowski, CEO of New York’s own Klinkenhammer Foundation for Medical Research, it’s what she gets paid to do: just another day in the office.  Matthew Cox wanted to know how she was coping with so much media attention.   

“Wealth is like sea water: the more we drink, the thirstier we become. The same is true of fame… for most people anyway. But for me? I’ve got other things to do.” She quotes Arthur Schopenhauer like he was her great uncle. Maybe he was – the European connections run deep in her family history, according to the official bio I’ve received.

The coffees arrive with a fanfare. She waits while the table is being laid out. Restless fingers continue to drum on her stylish black skirt. She checks her watch for the third time in as many minutes.

Is this making you nervous, I ask? I offer to turn off the recorder. She shakes her head briefly, flashing a tepid smile before her attention is caught by something going on behind me.

“I didn’t think this place really existed,” she continues, back with me, at least for now, “yet it’s only a few blocks from our office. Even the cab driver didn’t believe me.”

I’d chosen the location for our interview carefully. My boss said Number Sixty Nine was classy and discreet. There was no signage on the outside. Entrance was by keypad through an unmarked door in the back alley. My best friend said it was an upmarket knocking shop for the rich and famous when they were in town….well, Getting It Off Broadway’s what he actually said.

“How was Scandinavia? Good Conference?” I tried to get her talking about her recent trip. Her A-list status was pretty high before the live TV appearance from Sweden. What we all witnessed that day had shaken the world and rocketed her into the media stratosphere.

“Look, I know you’ve got magazines to sell. I have a copy in my apartment. And I know why people are interested in what I’ve been doing. But do they really want to know what razors I shave my legs with or how I take my coffee?” she smiles, warmer this time, sips another mouthful of espresso. “This is good by the way, thank you.”

“OK, try this.” Her bio said she’d been brought up in Brooklyn so I went for the more direct approach. “It isn’t about you. Our readers want to meet the person behind the job title. Someone they can relate to. Someone they can believe in. Someone they can trust with their hard-earned cash.”

She goes quiet. I’ve finally got her full attention. “This article will be syndicated into the business press and picked up by the pharmaceutical companies, the trust funds, the healthcare corporations, the investment bankers. They want to know if you can make a fast buck for them. If you can maximise the return on their investment, as they say. That’s what this is all about.”

She leans back into the sofa and pulls the cuff down over her watch. She looks me full in the face for the first time. I feel her warmth wrapping itself around me. Somehow I’ve crossed a threshold. What will come next will be from the heart. From the heart of a woman who has saved so many hearts from a lifetime of misery and suffering.

“Making money has become an obsession at the expense of really matters.” She holds up her hand before I have a chance to speak, “and before you jump in, I know, I’m just as much a part of a money-making machine. Our medical research could not continue without it.”

Her hands are running over the soft chintzy material. She’s starting to relax.

“Lawrence was right. There never was an economic argument against slavery.” Any pretence at playing the media game has now gone. This was the person I really wanted to meet.

“People used to be more religious, more connected to a spiritual world of right and wrong, of good and evil. It wasn’t economics that led to the abolition of slavery. It was the moral argument. Nowadays, the moral argument has been washed away in a world of accountancy, financial investment, banking….a world of purely making money.”

Lawrence was the new man in her life. Her Head of Diabetes Research at the Foundation: he was also her partner, her live-in lover. Her colleagues told me she had taken fierce criticism over his appointment. Lawrence was under-qualified for the job. He’d had no previous medical training. Accusations of favouritism were thrown at her. It had been a challenging year, she pointed out.

“We have lost touch with our own humanity. People have become resources again to be bought and sold. Even in my own world of medical research, we are developing more and more profitable drugs to treat disease rather than trying to find out what causes the disease in the first place or how to prevent it.

She tells me that Alexander Fleming never profited out of the discovery of penicillin. The most important medical breakthrough in our history was his gift to world, she explains. Such an act of human kindness today would be unthinkable. What’s changed, she continues, is our attitude. For Fleming, it was about how he could save lives. Today is about me and how I can benefit financially, often at the expense of others.

“I can’t change the world. But I can lead by example. I feel very privileged to be who I am.” She checks her watch again. Times up. The ordeal is over. Her media obligation is fulfilled. We shake hands.

And one last question. What about the future? Her work in finding a cure for Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes is reaching a tipping point, so her PR agency reports. Would she like to comment?

The smile says it all. I’ll have to wait. We’ll all have to wait until she is ready to tell us. She may be a reluctant celebrity but I’m hooked – she is one fascinating, enigmatic woman.

 

About Andrew Harris

Andrew Harris moved from the United Kingdom to New Zealand in 2008. He was born in Liverpool, survived a grammar school education and graduated with a first class honours degree from the University of Leeds. He had a successful career in people management before running his own executive search consultancy. In this capacity, he travelled extensively and has been privileged to meet some remarkable and influential characters around the world.

One of his passions is crime fiction. Andrew strongly believes this genre provides the perfect vehicle for stimulating debate and challenging the status quo. He writes thrillers with a social conscience, putting fictional characters in real life situations.

A Litany of Good Intentions is the second book in Andrew’s The Human Spirit Trilogy, a series of thrillers with a social conscience based on exciting scientific discoveries in medicine, physics and biology. The second book follows The C Clef, published in April 2016 and available on Amazon.

In The Human Spirit Trilogy, Andrew combines the factual world of science with pacey, action-packed thrillers to explore urgent questions faced by humanity. Why isn’t there a cure for cancer? How do we end world poverty? What will eradicate addiction? How are we going to feed 9 billion people without destroying our precious planet?

Each book is a standalone novel and features the main characters of Dr Hannah Siekierkowski, leading American oncologist and Lawrence McGlynn, British project manager.

 

‘A Litany of Good Intentions’ is available to buy from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Litany-Intentions-Human-Spirit-Trilogy/dp/1911195492/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1507744547&sr=1-1

 

Blog Tour – ‘Fox Hunter’ by Zoë Sharp

‘Fox Hunter’ was released as an eBook last month and will be out in hardback on the 11th October 2017, published by W. W. Norton & Company.  This is the 12th book in the Charlie Fox series.

I was asked by the lovely Ayo Onatade if I would like to take part in this blog tour.   Although I have never read any of Zoë Sharp’s books I thought this series sounded interesting and so I was delighted to participate.  Zoë has written a guest post, but first here’s what ‘Fox Hunter’ is all about.

 

Book Blurb

‘The dead man had not gone quietly … There was a time when I would have given everything I owned to be the one responsible for that.’

Charlie Fox will never forget the men who put a brutal end to her military career, but she vowed a long time ago she would not go looking for them.

Now she doesn’t have a choice.

Her boss and former lover, Sean Meyer, is missing in Iraq where one of those men was working as a private security contractor. When the man’s butchered body is discovered, Charlie fears that Sean may be pursuing a twisted vendetta on her behalf.

Sean’s partner in their exclusive New York close-protection agency needs this dealt with—fast and quiet—before everything they’ve worked for is in ruins. He sends Charlie to the Middle East with very specific instructions:

Find Sean Meyer and stop him. By whatever means necessary.

At one time Charlie thought she knew Sean better than she knew herself, but it seems he’s turned into a violent stranger. As the trail grows more bloody, Charlie realises that unless she can get to Sean first, the hunter may soon become the hunted.

 

Guest Post

MY WRITING DAY

I’d love to be able to say I have an incredibly organised and unfailingly productive writing day, but sadly I’ve never quite been able to manage it. Some days the words just flow, and others every dot and comma has to be sweated out of the keyboard. It can be rather like trying to fight a lion in a phone box.

I still prefer to work from handwritten notes. Preferably written in pencil on an A4 pad rather than a small notebook. I call it using my neck-top computer, and claim I’m saving up for an iBrain. Somehow, crossing out and starting again in pencil seems less of a false start than it would in pen. Pen would be better, because I could read it in low light, but I’ve tried, and pencil just connects my mind better to the page.

Writing up my notes usually produces far more words on screen than there were to start with. The notes become a springboard, and I’ll often stop typing and go back to pad and pencil for the next section. As long as I’m making story, I’m happy.

I try to do chunks of about 500 words at a time, two or three of them a day, and editing the earlier work as a stepping stone into the next batch. I’ll often go and do other things during the day and go back to writing in the evening. I don’t have TV, so it seems natural to simply keep working.

I know other writers who are far more productive than this, but also those who take longer to complete a book. We all work at our own pace, and the only person you can compare yourself to, ultimately, is … yourself.

I’m planning a non-fiction book over the winter. For this I’m going to try using dictation software. I stayed with a friend recently, fellow crime thriller author JS Law, who uses it and reckons to produce thousands of words a day by this method. Considering the trouble I have getting the voice-activated function on my phone to dial numbers for me when I’m driving, I’m approaching this experiment with some trepidation.

Before I start on a book, I do tend to plan quite a bit. I’ve tried the seat-of-the-pants method and it just doesn’t work for me. Instead, I go for a slightly more halfway-house approach. I plan the main events of the storyline, but not the reactions of the characters to those events, preferring to leave that aspect as a more organic process.

However, I do keep a detailed summary as I go. Just a paragraph of each chapter, with Day 1, Day 2, etc, at the start of it, and whether there’s a time gap from the previous chapter, or if the chapter break came in the middle of a scene. My instinct always used to be to finish writing a scene and end the chapter there, but I’ve found that, more frequently, it’s better to break in the middle of a scene, both to keep the chapters short and to make it that bit harder for the reader to put the book aside.

I keep a note of the gist of conversations, of any action, and if any characters are carrying injuries I need to remember for forthcoming scenes. This not only helps me keep track of the story as I’m writing, but also makes edits easier afterwards. It’s less cumbersome to work out where a subplot needs to be threaded in to a story, or two characters amalgamated, if you’re working with a 20-page summary rather than a full typescript.

And I do try to end each day’s writing not quite at the end of a scene. Even if I only type the opening sentence of the next chapter, it’s better than opening up the computer the following day only to stare at that dreaded blank page!

 

About Zoë Sharp

Zoë Sharp was born in Nottinghamshire not too far from the site of Robin Hood’s famous oak tree, but ran away to sea when she was seven. (OK, her parents took her to live on a boat, but she does have an imagination, after all.) She hand-wrote her first novel at age 15, which her father kindly typed up. Publishers gave it ‘rave rejections’. She decided to write a crime novel partly because the police told her she was not allowed to beat up the two teenagers who stole her first motorcycle. She’s been creating havoc in print ever since. www.ZoeSharp.com

 

‘Fox Hunter’ is available to buy as an eBook from Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/FOX-HUNTER-mystery-thriller-Charlie-ebook/dp/B0756FV4YY/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1507055156&sr=1-1&keywords=fox+hunter+zoe+sharp

You can pre-order it in hardback from Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fox-Hunter-Charlie-Thrillers/dp/1681774380/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1507055156&sr=1-1

 

Guest Post by Alex Day

I am pleased to welcome Alex Day to my blog.  ‘The Missing Twin’ was published as an eBook by Killer Reads in August of this year and has had a lot of good feedback so far.  It is out in paperback tomorrow, the 5th October 2017.  Alex has written a guest post which I hope you all enjoy.

~~~~~

Psychological thrillers are such big news in the book world at the moment that most people will have read one or two or ten. I love to read this genre so it seemed a logical step to write my own and, amazingly, as soon as I’d had this thought the plot for The Missing Twin appeared before me like a mirage. I know, that sort of thing doesn’t happen often – even in a psychological thriller!

The great thing about the genre is that it’s very broad so as a writer, I didn’t feel limited about what I could or couldn’t write, or that I had to include certain things in order for it to be ‘accepted’ into the fold. I’m not a fan of graphic violence in books of any type, and I simply couldn’t go into the gory details of a bloody murder or gruesome torture or anything like that. That’s not to say that there’s no violence at all in The Missing Twin. Sadly, there is – but I hope that readers will understand how and why it happens and will appreciate how and why sexual violence is so often used as a weapon of power and control over women.

It’s interesting to be writing this guest post now, after the first reviews for The Missing Twin have come in. The level of engagement with the story is fantastic, with Fatima fast becoming a firm favourite. The most gratifying thing is that many readers have said how her experiences have made them stop and think about how lucky they are in their cosy lives, and made them more aware of, and sympathetic towards, the refugee situation in the world today.

Poor Edie, bless her, is often misunderstood. I hope that readers will understand, as they progress through the book, why she is the way she is and why she does the things she does. Her character arc – what she experiences, and how she deals with it, and how she comes out the other end – is hugely important to the narrative. I really love Edie, who has so many demons to overcome, and I was rooting for her just as much as for Fatima as I was writing the tale.

I always love to hear how other authors research their work, and I have to confess to being overcome by jealousy when I hear of those who can spend six months living in a refugee camp so that they can better write the character of an asylum seeker or whatever. It would be great to have the opportunity to do this but unfortunately it simply isn’t possible for me or for the vast majority of writers. I have a home and three children to support and to do this, I must work full time as a teacher in an inner London secondary school. My writing is something I shoehorn into whatever time is left after the commitments of ten to twelve hour working days and my own kids’ needs.

As with many authors, my dream is to make enough from my writing to give up the day job – but that dream is still a long, long way off. Most ebooks sell for just £1 or £2, on which 20% VAT is payable, unlike print books. So if you buy a book for £1, 20p of what you’ve paid goes immediately to the Exchequer. The publisher takes the bulk of what’s left, with the writer getting only a small percentage, some of which goes to their agent and some to the tax man when they do their own tax return. You can do the maths and work out that it’s hard to make serious money. Writers rich as Croesus in the JK Rowling model are rare indeed.

So, to get back to the research, for a story like Fatima’s it involved hours on the internet, studying news reports and blogs and videos and photographs. I also drew on my own experience of teaching the children of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees in London schools. Many of them have horrendous, and desperately sad, stories but what is amazing is their tremendous resilience and their ability to keep going. Having said that, the Syrian children I’ve met have clearly been deeply traumatised and I simply cannot imagine how that country is ever going to recover and rebuild after everything its citizens have been through.

All the research in the world, however, does not make a fiction book and the icing on the cake is one’s own imagination. How does it feel to be sure that someone’s out to get you, to know that you’re being lied to but not to know by whom? What is it like to be fleeing for your life, with no idea what new dangers lie around every corner, always fearing that you, or your children, won’t make it?

If you can imagine those scenarios, and write about them, then you can write a psychological thriller – or any kind of book, for that matter. I’m hugely excited about The Missing Twin and I hope that you will be, too, and will enjoy the experience of reading. You can follow me on Twitter at @alexdaywriter.

 

About Alex Day

Alex Day is a writer, teacher, parent and dreamer who has been putting pen to paper to weave stories for as long as she can remember. The Missing Twin is her first psychological thriller but she is a bestselling author of fiction under the name Rose Alexander.

Inspired by a real pair of identical twin girls, The Missing Twin also draws on Alex’s experience of teaching newly arrived refugees, migrants and asylum seekers in a London comprehensive school.

 

‘The Missing Twin’ is available to buy as an eBook on Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Missing-Twin-gripping-psychological-thriller-ebook/dp/B072TYXKLB/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1507053705&sr=1-1

It can be pre-ordered in paperback here – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Missing-Twin-Alex-Day/dp/0008271291/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1507053705&sr=1-1

 

Blog Tour – ‘No Way Back’ by Kelly Florentia

‘No Way Back’ was published in paperback and as an eBook on the 21st September 2017 by Urbane Publications.  I am currently reading this book and am enjoying it immensely.  For those of you who are planning to read ‘No Way Back’ I can tell you now that you are in for a real treat.

I am thrilled to be taking part in this wonderful blog tour for which Kelly Florentia has written a really interesting guest post.  First though here’s what the book is about.

 

Book Blurb

When two eligible and attractive men are vying for your heart, it should be the perfect dilemma…

Audrey Fox has been dumped by her unreliable fiancé Nick Byrne just days before the wedding. Heartbroken and confused, the last thing she expects when she jumps on a plane to convalesce in Cyprus is romance. But a chance meeting with handsome entrepreneur and father-of-one Daniel Taylor weaves her into a dating game she’s not sure she’s ready for. Audrey’s life is thrown into further turmoil when she discovers on her return to London that Nick has been involved in a serious motorcycle accident that’s left him in intensive care. Distraught yet determined to look to the future, Audrey must make a decision – follow her heart or listen to well-meaning advice from family and friends? Because sometimes, no matter what, it’s the people that we love who can hurt us the most…

 

Guest Post

Creating Characters

On the bus the other day, a pregnant lady sat opposite me with her little girl – about four-years-old, blonde hair tumbling over her narrow shoulders, blues eyes, incredibly cute. Her legs dangled over the seat, feet almost touching my legs.

“We used to go to that park,” she announced suddenly, pointing out of the window. “The one with the brown gate.”

“Yes,” Mum replied, smiling, “Highgate Woods, and we’ll go there again when the weather warms up.”

“Yes,” said the girl, “Highgate Woods.”

She gazed out of the window for a few moments, swinging her little legs over the seat, then took a sip of water, ate a few gummy bears that her mum handed. It wasn’t long before her pink canvas shoes collided with my knees. She looked at me, eyes wide, clinging to her mother. “I kicked that lady with my feet,” she said warily. Mum looked at me, apologised, and I smiled warmly, said it was okay.

“The lady knows. It’s okay,” she told her.

The little girl studied me for a while, chewing on a gummy bear, then said, “Mummy, I think you’ve got bigger feet than the lady.”

Of course, I glanced down at mum’s feet, I think we all did, and yes, mum’s feet were considerably larger than mine. But I’m not sure she wanted to share this information with the entire bus.

“Yes,” Mum said dryly, “I think I have.”

And I smiled again because in that instant I recognised that little girl. She’s Lily from my second novel No Way Back. I took snapshots of her with my eyes and brought her to the forefront of my mind whenever I wrote a scene about her. And that’s how I create some of my secondary characters.

 

About Kelly Florentia

Kelly Florentia was born and bred in north London, where she continues to live with her husband Joe. No Way Back, released 21st September, is her second novel.

Kelly has always enjoyed writing and was a bit of a poet when she was younger. Before penning her debut The Magic Touch (2016), she wrote short stories for women’s magazines. To Tell a Tale or Two… is a collection of her short tales.

Kelly has a keen interest in health and fitness and has written many articles on this subject. Smooth Operator (published in January 2017) is a collection of twenty of her favourite smoothie recipes.

As well as writing, Kelly enjoys reading, running, yoga, drinking coffee, and scoffing cakes. She is currently working on the sequel to NO WAY BACK.

 

Links

‘No Way Back’ is available to buy from Amazon UK – http://amzn.to/2xGjZMe

Website – http://www.kellyflorentia.com

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

Twitter – @kellyflorentia

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/kellyflorentia/

‘No Way Back’ Spotify Playlist – https://open.spotify.com/user/11135145039/playlist/0IbxzB3L6ZPdbrFiUY5fAI

 

Blog Tour – ‘The One That Got Away’ by Annabel Kantaria

‘The One That Got Away’ was published in paperback and as an eBook on the 21st September 2017 by HQ Stories.  I am delighted to be closing this blog tour along with Creative Misfit and I have for you a guest post by Annabel Kantaria.  First though, here’s what the book is about.

 

Book Blurb

Everyone has one. An ex you still think about. The one who makes you ask ‘what if’?

Fifteen years have passed since Stella and George last saw each other. But something makes Stella click ‘yes’ to the invite to her school reunion.

There’s still a spark between them, and although their relationship ended badly, they begin an affair.

But once someone gets you back, sometimes they’re never going to let you go again…

 

Guest Post

On the mixed emotions of school reunions

Hello Sonya, and thanks for hosting me today as part of my blog tour.

How do you feel about school reunions? Have you been to one? Avoided one?

‘The One That Got Away’ begins when a couple who used to date at school meet up at their fifteen-year school reunion. As the story begins, you see the protagonist, Stella, who’s now a successful businesswoman, taking a moment to gather her thoughts before she goes into the venue. She’s not sure if she wants to go: she knows that her ex-boyfriend George – who’s now a bit of a celebrity – will be there. They parted on bad terms when they were eighteen, and Stella hasn’t seen him since. In fact, as she sits in the taxi, she’s not sure why she clicked yes to the invitation in the first place. Her life’s sorted now… but then, there always was something special about him. He’s ‘the one that got away’, and a part of her wants to show him what a success she’s made of her life.

My own year group had a reunion a few years ago and I knew at once that I wanted to go: aside from hoping that no-one would remember the incident involving the music teacher and a scotch egg, I had no need to avoid anyone, and I’m very nosy, which is ultimately what it’s about, isn’t it? You want to see how everyone’s really turned out without the benefit of Instagram filters and Facetune. And, despite experiencing last-minute nerves just like Stella, I’m glad I went. It was fun to see everyone again. It was really good to meet them all as adults, and to realise that, no matter who was in the ‘in’ crowd and who was geeky back in the day, we’re all treading the same paths now: even the coolest kids are just pretty normal adults dealing with partners, families, jobs and aging parents.

But, more than that, it was wonderful to meet up with people with whom I have a shared past. I realised that night that, whether or not you liked them at school, you have a unique bond with your classmates. No matter where you all live and what you do now, there’s a pot of really special memories that you can share only with them. Memories of teachers, of catch-phrases and of silly things that happened in the classroom – that time you projectile-vomited on the biology teacher’s shoes / set fire to your pencil case with a bunsen burner / fell flat on your face collecting an award in assembly – no-one else remembers these things and it’s fun to reminisce.

So, yes, for me, the reunion was a good thing, but for my fictitious Stella, the reunion’s a catalyst that kicks off a chain of increasingly dark events. I’d go as far to say that, if you’ve got a reunion coming up – and especially if your ex will be there – you might want to save reading ‘The One That Got Away’ until after you’ve been!

 

About Annabel Kantaria

Annabel Kantaria is a British journalist and columnist who’s written prolifically for publications in the UK and the Middle East. She lives in Dubai with her husband and two children. Her debut novel, Coming Home, won the Montegrappa Prize for First Fiction at the 2013 Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. Her second novel, The Disappearance, was published in Spring 2016.

 

Links

‘The One That Got Away’ is available to buy from Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/One-That-Got-Away-ebook/dp/B01NCMVD8U/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1506016748&sr=1-2

Website – http://annabelkantaria.com/

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

Twitter – https://twitter.com/bellakay

Instagram – http://instagram.com/dubaipix

 

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