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Archive for the category “Guest Blog Posts”

Guest Post by Sheila Myers

I am delighted to welcome Sheila Myers back to my blog.  Her latest novel, ‘The Night is Done’, the third book in the Durant Family Saga was published in paperback and as an eBook last year.

Sheila has written a wonderful guest post about research which I really hope you enjoy reading.

 

Enough Already! When do Historical Fiction Authors Climb out of the Research Rabbit Hole?

By Sheila Myers

 

I was recently interviewed on the History Author Show podcast about the Durant Family Saga, and the interviewer asked me a question that had me stumped:

If you could fill any gap about this fascinating family after three novels, what would you choose?

Of course, there’s more I could have uncovered about the Durants to extend my trilogy into a series. I had been receiving emails from extended family members who were reading my books and blog, offering me tidbits of information, leads to follow, contact information of descendants with interesting histories of their own. But for me, enough was enough. I’d spent five years of my life researching this famous family from the Gilded Age. I had traveled to several libraries and museums on the east coast of the U.S., visited the Isle of Wight in England, and all on my own dime.

At some point authors of historical fiction rely on conjecture, the lens we use to offer our interpretation of events given the information we have on hand. Indeed, at the end of the trilogy, I have one of the narrators, a historian, remark:

I’m sure that in the future, someone will come along and find gaps in my research. It’s the historian’s curse. Our job is to sift through the tall tales and determine what’s worth including and what’s best left as fodder for others to chew on. The truth is found in the abyss of the unknown.

If my readers believe it’s me, the author saying these words, they aren’t far off. I put myself in the head of the narrator, a historian, tracking down and interviewing an elderly member of the Durant family, and by the time I was done writing the last book in the trilogy, it was how I felt. But still… there’s one piece of information waiting for somebody to get their hands on: a civil court case between William and his wife Janet, thrown out by the judge in 1898. News reports at the time included juicy testimonials from servants and friends about cruelty and adultery (the only two ways to obtain a divorce back then). The record is ensconced in an uncatalogued collection at the New York University Library. I tried, but I couldn’t get access, which was unfortunate because it was a precursor to the divorce case between two of my main characters. (I was able to find the final case and unseal it after 100 years of sitting in a Manhattan Court old records division).

Historical fiction is fascinating because we read it to discover history in an interesting, entertaining fashion. Authors of this genre are all too aware that some research could take up a lifetime and if we wait for all the facts to be known, the stories would never get written. This is especially true as libraries and museums digitize their collections making them more accessible to the public.

For example, Green Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, NY is now digitizing the biographies of the 560,000 people buried there (there is a saying that there are more dead than live people in Brooklyn because of all of the cemeteries). Since 2009, the staff and volunteers at Green Wood have been digitizing the archives: family trees, last will and testaments, and family correspondence. In fact, the characters of my story, the Durant family, have a mausoleum at Green Wood. I took a picture of the Durant mausoleum on a visit to Green Wood and used it for my cover of the last book in the Durant Family Saga trilogy titled: The Night is Done. The title is from a Kipling poem called The Dawn Wind:

At two o’clock in the morning, if you open your window and listen,
You will hear the feet of the Wind that is going to call the sun.
And the trees in the shadow rustle and the trees in the moonlight glisten,
And though it is deep, dark night, you feel that the night is done.   

And when I finally hit ‘the end’ on the last book in the trilogy, so was I.

 

~~~~~

 

Book Blurb

William and Ella Durant, heirs to a bygone fortune, are recounting the events that led to the Durant family downfall during the Gilded Age. In 1931 William returns to visit the estate he once possessed in the Adirondacks to speak with the current owner, copper magnate Harold Hochschild, who is writing a history of the region and wants to include a biography of William. Simultaneously, Ella is visiting with an old family friend and former lover, Poultney Bigelow, journalist with Harpers Magazine, who talks her into telling her own story. William recounts the height of his glory, after his father’s death in 1885 when he takes control of the Adirondack railroad assets, travels the world in his yacht and dines with future kings. However, his fortune takes a turn during the Financial Panic of 1893 and amid accusations of adultery and cruelty. Ella’s tale begins when she returned from living abroad to launch a lawsuit against her brother for her fair share of the Durant inheritance. The court provides a stage for the siblings to tear each other’s reputation apart: William for his devious business practices and failure to steward the Durant land holdings, and Ella for her unconventional lifestyle. Based on actual events, and historic figures, The Night is Done is a tale about the life altering power of revenge, greed and passion.

‘The Night is Done’ can be purchased from:-

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Night-Done-Durant-Family-Saga-ebook/dp/B074WG1QTG/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1523183149&sr=1-5 

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/Night-Done-Durant-Family-Saga-ebook/dp/B074WG1QTG/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1523250881&sr=1-1&keywords=the+night+is+done+by+sheila+myers

 

About Sheila Myers

Sheila Myers is an Associate Professor at a community college in Upstate NY. Her Durant Family Saga is available at all major online retailers. Visit her website for more information.

 

Links

Amazon Page – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sheila-Myers/e/B00K2YTA0A/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_5?qid=1523250997&sr=1-5

Twitter – https://twitter.com/SheilaMMyers

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/sheila.myers.526

 

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Guest Post by Claire Boley

I am delighted to welcome Claire Boley to my blog today.  Her novel, ‘If Only I’d Listened’ was published last year in paperback and as an eBook by Olympia Publishers.  Claire has written a lovely guest post which I really hope you enjoy reading.

~~~~~

Hello everyone,

First I must thank Sonya for hosting my guest post and to say that I have never met her in person but on social media she comes over as a very approachable lady who has been kind enough to do a post about me and my second book which is my debut novel. The first book I wrote was a craft book which I was commissioned to write in 2011, title Hand Spinning and Natural Dyeing.

When I was at secondary school and in between lessons while waiting for the teacher to arrive I used to make up stories for my school mates who enjoyed sitting and listening to me telling them.

It was not until I retired from nursing that I thought about writing and decided the best way to start was to write articles for magazines which I did for a number of years on different subjects including hand spinning, natural dyeing, pottery, gardening to name just a few. After a year of writing articles I was approached by The Good Life Press to write my first book.

My debut novel – If Only I’d Listened is based in 60s’ London when 16 year old school girl Samantha Smithson gets pregnant by her 6th form boyfriend Peter Knight in an era when pregnancy outside of marriage and especially when still at school carried a stigma.

The reason the story of Samantha and Peter is based in London is because I lived there from 1964-68 and know different areas well. I wrote about a school girl getting pregnant as I was a nurse in London in this era and heard quite a lot about pregnancy outside of marriage and how it upset family life.

Samantha spent most of the nine months in and out hospital due to high blood pressure caused by her parents behaviour over the pregnancy and not wanting Samantha to live with them once she had become pregnant – they felt that Peter’s parents should look after her and take full responsibility for her. All of this upset Peter’s mother and made her ill.

Peter spent his time going out and about in the West End of London to pubs and clubs and was encouraged by his mates to get drunk and meet other girls, all of this was in between studying for his A levels which he lost interest in.

There may be a sequel to If Only I’d Listened this won’t be until I have finished my second novel – False Teeth.

 

Book Blurb

IS YOUR GIRLFRIEND PREGNANT? How ready are you for that? How would you deal with becoming a parent before you’ve left school? One thing’s for sure, you can’t unmake babies. A fact that’s borne in on Peter Knight and Samantha Smithson, sixth formers at the South East Comprehensive in Deptford, living at a time when many parents are still of the old school and pregnancy outside marriage carries a stigma. Having to face their parents, their school friends, teachers and gossip is only the beginning. Pete’s plans for university are scotched as he must seek work and accommodation suitable for a young family. And all the time he still wants to have fun, with friends’ quite happy to tempt him to do it. As for Samantha, abortion is no easy option. Yet as her health and her faith in Peter goes up and down, she may have to think the unthinkable.

‘If Only I’d Listened’ is available from Amazon UK – http://amzn.to/2vG4AvX

 

About Claire Boley

I was born in Exeter during the war. Aged five my parents and I moved to Buckinghamshire where my father worked at Bletchley Park.

While at school in Aylesbury and in between lessons I used to tell stories to my school mates, looking back this must have been the beginning of my story telling. After leaving school I left home to train as a nurse so the stories went on the back burner until I retired.

One afternoon I visited W H Smith and read an article written by a friend and decided that perhaps I could write. From that day I have been writing articles on different subjects – hand spinning, pottery, gardening, natural dyeing and also cooking for many national magazines. In 2011 I was commissioned and given an advance to write my first book – Hand Spinning and Natural Dyeing. After finishing this book I decided to see if I could write a novel – it took three years. Once it was completed I soon found a publisher.

My debut novel – If Only I’d Listened is a family saga based in 60s London. Samantha Smithson a 16 year old school girl gets pregnant by her 6th form boyfriend – Peter Knight, in an era when pregnancy outside of marriage carried a stigma. Having to explain to their parents, school friends and teachers about the pregnancy is just the beginning for Samantha and Peter. Along the way Peter is encouraged to go out and about enjoying himself with his mates in between studying for his A levels while Samantha spends most of the pregnancy in and out of hospital getting more and more upset by Peter.

 

Links

Hand spinning and natural dyeing – http://amzn.to/2DAe5Rp

Twitter – https://twitter.com/claireboley?lang=en

Facebook – https://facebook.com/claireboley

 

Lynne Milford’s (aka LM Milford’s) Monthly Guest Post – March 2018

It’s time for Lynne Milford’s monthly guest post. I hope you have enjoyed her posts so far. They really are fascinating. For ease of reference I will add the links to them at the bottom. Today Lynne is talking about creating the perfect cast for her book.

 

Creating the perfect cast for A Deadly Rejection

JK Rowling famously said that Harry Potter walked into her head fully formed. Sadly, my main character, journalist Dan Sullivan, certainly did not. Instead he’s been dragged, kicking and screaming into the person he is now.

I started writing A Deadly Rejection a long time ago and, as I was writing what I know, I based Dan very loosely on the male friends I had at the time. Boys in their early 20s are a bit daft and don’t really take things seriously – or at least the guys I knew didn’t – and so that’s what Dan did.

But then I shared the book with my editor and she said ‘he seems a bit childish’. And indeed he was. He was a terrible sulk and didn’t really think things through. This worried me because I needed the reader to take him seriously. So I took a step back and Dan grew up a lot, very quickly.

I’d decided to write a male main character because I always struggled to develop realistic female characters. Instead of coming out as real people, they were always what I wanted to be – tall, slim, gorgeous and brilliant at everything. That doesn’t work for a fictional character because no one is perfect – and frankly they’ll just come across as smug and annoying for the reader. So instead I took a step away by choosing a male lead.

All great characters generally have a fatal flaw, something that will prove to be their downfall. For example, Macbeth’s fatal flaw is ambition. In a journalist, this works particularly well and so Dan developed a serious ambition problem. You can see by the mistakes he makes and the way he acts that he’s getting carried away. He needs someone to bring him in line. That’s where your supporting cast comes in.

Your main character needs friends who bring out the best in them and enemies who bring out the worst. In the first instance, Dan has Emma and Ed, both work colleagues and friends. I often feel deeply sorry for them as they battle to keep Dan from flying off at a tangent. Then there are those who play on his fatal flaw and drag him towards danger knowing that he’ll follow where they lead, desperate for the next step in his career.

But the relationships between Dan and Emma and Dan and Ed are not straightforward. For a start, Emma can’t stand him. His ambition and borderline arrogance get on her nerves. But one of the reasons that happens is because she shares his ambition, up to a point. (There is a reason but that’s for a later book.) However, she has a well developed sense of self preservation. You can’t imagine her behaving the way Dan does. Ed again is different. He’s not ambitious but he does a good job at what he does. At times Dan drives him mad because he doesn’t understand why Dan behaves the way he does. He doesn’t understand the need to prove yourself because he’s secure in himself and what he wants.

It’s equally important to create a good villain. Your bad guy needs to work against your hero and frustrate him at every turn. This means that your bad guy needs to know how to push your hero’s buttons. In A Deadly Rejection, the bad guys know exactly how to reel Dan in until they’ve got him exactly where they want him. But your bad guy needs to be realistic. He (or she) needs to fit into the book, sometimes fit right into the world your characters live in, hiding his evil nature in plain sight. It’s as important for your villain to be right, as for your hero.

I hadn’t initially planned for Dan to be a series character. I’d intended to make the town the centre of the story, with the same police officers, but Dan would only play cameo roles in the later books. But he seems to have been popular with readers so far and so he’s going to be leading the series. Let’s just hope it doesn’t go to his head, eh?

 

 

Book Blurb

How far would you go to get what you want?

Beneath the bustling, respectable exterior of the Kent town of Allensbury lies a world of corruption and greed.

When local news reporter Dan Sullivan scents a story in the local council, he begins to ask questions. But when his source dies in mysterious circumstances, Dan is implicated. He is quickly drawn into a world of lies, ambition and avarice as he fights to clear his name.

The more he digs, the more someone tries to stop the story from ever seeing the light of day.

Dan must decide what’s more important to him…the story, or his life.

 

Links

Book shortlink to Amazon http://ow.ly/57IG30fS5F5

Long link UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/Deadly-Rejection-would-what-want-ebook/dp/B0768WP1SB/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1507972626&sr=8-1&keywords=a+deadly+rejection

LM Milford’s blog – http://www.lmmilford.wordpress.com/

Twitter – @lmmilford

 

Previous Guest Posts

First guest post (January 2018) – My writing journey

https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2018/01/31/lynne-milfords-monthly-guest-post/

Second guest Post (February 2018) – Where did A Deadly Rejection come from?

https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2018/02/27/lynne-milfords-aka-lm-milfords-monthly-guest-post/

Blog Tour – ‘Trafficked Girl’ by Zoe Patterson

Big congratulations to Zoe Patterson whose book, ‘Trafficked Girl’ is out today in paperback and as an eBook, published by Harper Element.  I am absolutely thrilled to be taking part in this blog tour and would like to thank Rosie Margesson for inviting me to participate.  Though I am not a big reader of non-fiction, this book really caught my eye and I was intrigued to know why Zoe decided to tell her story and what she hopes to achieve in doing so.

Zoe has written an exclusive guest post for my blog, but first here’s what ‘Trafficked Girl’ is about.

 

Book Blurb

When Zoe was taken into care at the age of 13, she thought she was finally going to escape from the cruel abuse she had suffered throughout her childhood. Then social services placed her in a residential unit known to be ‘a target for prostitution’, and suddenly Zoe’s life was worse than it had ever been before.

Abused and ostracized by her mother, humiliated by her father’s sexual innuendos, physically assaulted and bullied by her eldest brother, even as a young child Zoe thought she deserved the desperately unhappy life she was living.

‘I’ve sharpened a knife for you,’ her mother told her the first time she noticed angry red wounds on her daughter’s arms. And when Zoe didn’t kill herself, her mother gave her whisky, which she drank in the hope that it would dull the miserable, aching loneliness of her life.

One day at school Zoe showed her teacher the livid bruises that were the result of her mother’s latest physical assault and within days she was taken into care.

Zoe had been at Denver House for just three weeks when an older girl asked if she’d like to go to a party, then took her to a house where there were just three men. Zoe was a virgin until that night, when two of the men raped her. Having returned to the residential unit in the early hours of the morning, when she told a member of staff what had happened to her, her social worker made a joke about it, then took her to get the morning-after pill.

For Zoe, the indifference of the staff at the residential unit seemed like further confirmation of what her mother had always told her – she was worthless. Before long, she realised that the only way to survive in the unit was to go to the ‘parties’ the older girls were paid to take her to, drink the drinks, smoke the cannabis and try to blank out what was done to her when she was abused, controlled and trafficked around the country.

No action was taken by the unit’s staff or social workers when Zoe asked for their help, and without anyone to support or protect her, the horrific abuse continued for the next few years, even after she left the unit. But in her heart Zoe was always a fighter. This is the harrowing, yet uplifting story, of how she finally broke free of the abuse and neglect that destroyed her childhood and obtained justice for her years of suffering.

 

Guest Post

Why I decided to tell my story and what I hope to achieve in doing so

For many years now, I have wanted to share my story with a view to helping others. Receiving and reviewing my Social Services’ records and realising that the abuse I was forced to endure was actually so easily preventable made my resolve to tell my story that much greater.

On a professional level, I would like my story to reach those who have the power to prevent and put a stop to physical, sexual and emotional abuse in all of its forms. I want to shine a light on the failures of those in charge of other people’s care and safety in the hope that lessons will be learned.

I understand that many social workers are perhaps underpaid and overworked. Whilst this may be true, it should not take away from their moral duty to protect others from the risk of serious damage or harm. It must not be forgotten that children in care are human beings, no more or less important than any other child in the world who is fortunate enough to live within a loving family home.

The police also have a moral obligation to protect the vulnerable from the risk of serious damage or harm. When I was a child, the police often visited my primary school. From these visits I concluded that police officers were ‘good’ and could be relied upon in any emergency. You can imagine my surprise when those very same police officers who smiled at me in primary school looked upon me with scorn and contempt not more than two years later because I was a child living in the care system.

I wondered what it was that had changed for them, because I can say with absolute certainty that I was the same girl I had always been, only now a little more damaged, hurt and betrayed. And it really did hurt to know that the police officers I had admired just a couple of years earlier thought so little of me and had absolutely no intention of rescuing me from the men who so shamelessly trafficked me.

On a personal level, I want to use my story to reach out to others who have experienced abuse. I want you to know that whatever happened to you was not your fault. You are not to blame.

I want you to know that, as survivors of abuse, we are beacons of hope. We are the proof that good exists within the human race. We survived something horrific and chose to carry on living, hoping and loving despite being exposed to the darker side of humanity. That takes a tremendous amount of courage and strength, which is something abusers just don’t have.

As survivors of abuse, we are the proof that whilst abusers may change our lives, they cannot change our spirit, and in that sense we are untouchable. How incredible is that!

© Zoe Patterson 2018

~~~~~

What a fabulous guest post.  I really admire Zoe for how she has dealt with things and I hope her story is of inspiration to all those who have been in a similar situation.  I am looking forward to reading Zoe’s book.

 

‘Trafficked Girl’ is available to buy from:-

Harper Collins – https://www.harpercollins.co.uk/9780008148041/trafficked-girl/

Amazon UK –  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Trafficked-Girl-Abandoned-Exploited-Fighting-ebook/dp/B073Z6TPF1/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1521660513&sr=1-1

 

 

About Zoe Patterson

Zoe Patterson is 29 and a qualified personal trainer. Having discovered that she has a natural talent for boxing, Zoe is about to start training as a boxing coach in the hope of being able to help other women who have been disadvantaged in some way to improve their self-esteem and create positive futures for themselves.

To find out more about Zoe and her story follow her blog – http://www.zoepattersonfightingback.com/

 

 

Blog Tour – ‘The Absent Man’ by Robert Enright

‘The Absent Man’, the second book in the Bermuda Jones Case Files series is out tomorrow the 9th March 2018 as an eBook and is already available in paperback.  I can’t tell you how thrilled I am as I absolutely loved ‘Doorways’.  I really can’t wait to read this book.

I would like to thank Robert for inviting me to take part in this blog tour for which he has written a guest post.

 

Writing a sequel

Hello! So as part of my blog tour, Sonya has agreed to let me write a guest post that she will very kindly share with all. I had the pleasure of meeting Sonya at an Urbane night in a room full of authors and she was as lovely in person as she is on social media. She has been one of the most supportive and engaging people I have had the pleasure to meet since trying this writing malarkey, so I thought I’d start this by saying a big thank you to her for her constant support and also badgering me to write this damn sequel!

So that is the topic of this guest post. Writing a sequel.

You know what…it was harder than I thought. I had a good chat with a friend of mine about it and he thought it would be easy, because so much of it is already established. Now if you have read DOORWAYS, then you would have been introduced to my hero, Bermuda Jones and his enigmatic partner, Argyle. Not only that, you would have been introduced to the entire concept of ‘The Otherside’, the BTCO and the backstory involving the truth between our world and the other.

But what happens if you haven’t read Doorways? (By the way, I am not encouraging you to skip Doorways. Please buy my books and make me happy!)

That was the biggest problem to tackle. Because some people will join this series on this book, so I need to re-introduce EVERYTHING that was established in the first book, with enough detail so a new reader gets on board and dives in. However, I can’t repeat myself from Doorways, because those readers who have finished that book will be annoyed by forking out cash for a repeat novel. Establishing that fine line was a lot trickier than I thought it would be and it was a real challenge.

What I will say is that having a book with all of the key details noted down for each character was a real help. I know everything from their facial features to their dates of birth, which allowed for easier introductions. Once the first few chapters were written, I’d say probably when I got to about chapter six, I was able to stop trying to introduce the characters once again and was able to run with the story, which was a lot of fun. By the time I got to the end of the book, it felt nice to see just how fleshed out the characters and story was.

I really hope you pick up the Bermuda Jones series (wow, feels weird to know there is more than one book now!) and I really hope you enjoy it. The Absent Man is very special to me as it marks an exciting new direction not just for Bermuda Jones and Argyle, but also my career as a writer.

Thanks for reading and take care.

Robert Enright

~~~~~

Thank you so much for the lovely introduction, Robert.  I am really quite touched.

 

 

Book Blurb

BERMUDA JONES AND ARGYLE ARE BACK IN THE THRILLING SEQUEL TO DOORWAYS

Something is killing…

A woman is found dead in her flat on a freezing night in Glasgow, her heart ripped from her chest. With no signs of a weapon or forced entry. Hours later, her heart is delivered to the Necropolis on the outskirts of town.

Six months after stopping the terrifying Barnaby atop Big Ben, Bermuda finds himself on the hunt for a killer in a city he doesn’t know with a police force that doesn’t want him. With no links between the victims and the death toll rising, Bermuda has to face a sceptical detective, a seemingly distracted Argyle and an unknown horror that stalks from the shadows.

All in the name of answering one question…

Who is The Absent Man?

The Absent Man is an urban fantasy thriller that revisits The Otherside and will have you on the edge of your seat.

~~~~~

‘The Absent Man’ can be purchased in paperback from Amazon UK – http://amzn.to/2oSVI0E

Pre-order the eBook from Amazon UK – http://amzn.to/2oYaZN6

 

About Robert Enright

Robert Enright was born and raised in North London and resides in Chesham, Buckinghamshire. Working as a HR System Manager by day, he spends his evenings and weekends writing (or binge watching TV with his fiance).

Robert first self published One by One in March 2016 and saw it published by Britain’s Next Best Seller in October 2017.

In early 2018, DOORWAYS will be re-released as an ebook, paperback and audio book under Robert Enright’s management. The sequel, THE ABSENT MAN will also be released in early 2018. The third in the series, WORLDS APART, is set for a late 2018 launch. A prequel, titled BERMUDA, is in the works for a 2018 launch also.

Robert can be contacted via:-

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

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

Twitter – https://twitter.com/REnright_Author

 

Guest Post Number 1 by Anne Coates

My competition on Twitter last year for one author to feature on my blog for a whole year was so popular, I decided on a runner-up prize. The lovely Anne Coates was the winner and this year she is writing a series of six guest posts. Here’s Anne talking all about reading and reviewing.

 

The Two Rs – Reading and Reviewing

For most of my working life I have worked either as staff or freelance in publishing/journalism and a lot of my time has been spent, reading and assessing manuscripts, editing, abridging fiction and narrative non-fiction and judging competitions. So when it comes to reading for pleasure I love taking off my editor’s hat to immerse myself in another world.

Although I review some YA and parenting books on my website Parenting Without Tears and therefore receive advance copies, I usually buy novels even though I’m registered with Netgalley. I aim to support other authors by adding to their sales figures and posting a review on Amazon. As an author, I know how important reviews are! However I would rather not leave a review at all, if I didn’t like a book or had problems with it. Who am I to judge a book just because it doesn’t resonate with me? Just writing a book and getting it published it a major achievement and should be celebrated which is wonderful to see on Twitter.

One of the joys of Twitter for me has been finding new (or new to me) authors and getting to know bloggers. I fell in love with Mel Sheratt’s books and was thrilled when she invited me to a launch party in London some years ago. My first Twitter party and I met numerous people in real life who had previously just been names and faces. So many of those people have become friends…

Like most book lovers I have a pile of unread books. Some are patiently waiting their turn while others I have started but not finished for a variety of reasons. When I’m in the middle of writing a book, my reading time is limited so if after a few chapters I’m not engrossed, I tend to put the book aside, often seeking out authors I know whose writing I admire and enjoy.

What I love is being captivated by a narrative so all I want to do is read on – without interruption. The moments when my editor’s hat is left out in the hall are beyond compare but even with some of my favourite authors I get pulled up short by a mistake like someone wiping their nose on the sleeve of a coat they took off two pages before! Or a funeral being arranged two working days after a fatal traffic accident… But these are minor niggles really.

I am full of admiration for book bloggers who manage to read – and review – so many titles as well as having jobs and family commitments. It is obviously a real labour of love. And I feel honoured when anyone reviews one of my books or invites me to be featured on their blog (thank you Sonya!). A couple of years ago I wrote round-up of books I’d read and enjoyed. I was stunned to receive a DM from an author demanding to know why I hadn’t included one of her books. So I am always saddened – but not surprised – when I see that bloggers I know and respect have been subjected to abuse or bullying from writers and publishers.

That’s when I move away from social media and lose myself in a book.

 

About Anne Coates

For most of her working life in publishing, Anne has had a foot in both camps as a writer and an editor, moving from book publishing to magazines and then freelancing in both. Having edited both fiction and narrative non-fiction, Anne has also had short stories published in a variety of magazines including Bella and Candis and is the author of seven non-fiction books. Telling stories is Anne’s first love and nearly all her short fiction as well as Dancers in The Wind and Death’s Silent Judgement began with a real event followed by a ‘what if …’; That is also the case with the two prize-winning 99Fiction.net stories: Codewords and Eternal Love. Songs of Innocence will publish summer 2018.

 

Links

Dancers in the Wind
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dancers-Wind-gripping-thriller-Weybridge/dp/1911129635/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1486815984&sr=1-1

Death’s Silent Judgement
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Deaths-Silent-Judgement-Hannah-Weybridge/dp/1911331353/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1487075630&sr=1-1&keywords=death%27s+silent+judgement

Cheque-Mate & Other Tales of the Unexpected
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cheque-Mate-Other-Tales-Unexpected-Coates-ebook/dp/B008G1FI5M/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1487075707&sr=1-1&keywords=Cheque+Mate+and+other+Tales+of+the+unexpected

Author website http://www.annecoatesauthor.com/

Twitter – @Anne_Coates1

Lynne Milford’s (aka LM Milford’s) Monthly Guest Post

I am delighted to welcome the lovely Lynne Milford aka LM Milford back to my blog.  Lynne was the winner of my competition to feature on my blog for a whole year.  Here is her second guest post.

 

Where did A Deadly Rejection come from?

When you’re starting out as a writer, one of the first pieces of advice you’re given is ‘write what you know’. There are several schools of thought on whether this is good advice or not – some say you can write about what you like as long as you’ve done the research. But I think when you’re first starting out, writing about something you know well means you can concentrate on learning how to write, without having to stop and research every step. That can come later, once you have writing experience.

In a former life, I was a local newspaper reporter for about 8 years. In that time I did some great jobs and some awful jobs. One of the not-quite-so-bad jobs was covering council meetings. I’d been to them all – planning, licensing, governance, for example. These meetings could be fascinating and dull in equal measures. Sometimes you had to dig to get a story from them, but there was always something there if you looked hard enough.

It was during a meeting of the ‘Innovation Panel’ that my brain started to stir.

The meeting had run on for two hours, with very little innovation taking place, when the councillors decided they’d better have a comfort break. My heart sank at the idea of yet more time wasted. Bear in mind that it was now after 8pm and I’d been working since 9am. In addition, I have to file what stories I could glean from the meeting before I could go to bed (to fill any spaces left in the next day’s edition). I had pages and pages of shorthand notes and began to review them to make writing up easier. Near me, as I sat at the desk kept for the press, was a small gaggle of councillors and officers deep in whispered conversation. As I picked up my pen to make a note in the margin by a useful quote, they all stopped talking, stared at me and then, as a group shuffled away to the back of the room.

Immediately my suspicious journalist brain lit up with ‘what were they talking about that they thought I’d overheard?’. It was probably nothing, but for the next few weeks I couldn’t shake that idea from my head, that if something was going on, what would they do to stop me from printing what they thought I’d overheard?

There would have been a lot of ways to do that without going to the extremes of what happens to Dan, the reporter in A Deadly Rejection, but I’ve always been somewhat over-dramatic about this type of thing – a good skill for a crime writer to have, don’t you think?

I can’t recall the moment I sat down to write the book, but it probably began to emerge over the next few weeks. It seems strange to look back now, when the book has been edited and changed so much, and think that without that one moment, that one reaction to a journalist, A Deadly Rejection might not have happened.

The book took over my life for many an evening, weekend, holiday for years but finally I’ve got it onto the virtual bookshelves and readers are enjoying it (most importantly).

I thank those councillors and officers for the inspiration. I promise that none of them is in the finished book, nor is the innovation panel. After all, who would believe that such a thing existed? You couldn’t make it up.

~~~~~

You can read Lynne’s first guest post about her writing journey here https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2018/01/31/lynne-milfords-monthly-guest-post/

 

Book Blurb

How far would you go to get what you want?

Beneath the bustling, respectable exterior of the Kent town of Allensbury lies a world of corruption and greed.

When local news reporter Dan Sullivan scents a story in the local council, he begins to ask questions. But when his source dies in mysterious circumstances, Dan is implicated. He is quickly drawn into a world of lies, ambition and avarice as he fights to clear his name.

The more he digs, the more someone tries to stop the story from ever seeing the light of day.

Dan must decide what’s more important to him…the story, or his life.

 

Links

Book shortlink to Amazon http://ow.ly/57IG30fS5F5

Long link UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/Deadly-Rejection-would-what-want-ebook/dp/B0768WP1SB/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1507972626&sr=8-1&keywords=a+deadly+rejection

LM Milford’s blog – http://www.lmmilford.wordpress.com/

Twitter – @lmmilford

 

Guest Post by Angelena Boden

I am delighted to welcome the lovely Angelena Boden back to my blog.  Her latest novel, ‘The Future Can’t Wait’ was published last November in paperback and as an eBook by Urbane Publications.  Angelena has written a very interesting guest post about finding balance in her writing life.  I hope you enjoy reading it.

 

Finding balance in my writing life 

When I semi-retired from my training consultancy three years ago, it was with the intention of writing a novel. I made the decision to, partly fulfil a long held ambition like many writers, but also to keep a promise to my English teacher who wrote on my school report, Angelena writes graphically about the dark side of human nature. She’d make a good novelist. I was about to sit my O’ Levels at the time. It was 1972.

I enjoyed the writing process so much that I carried on and published a second book, The Future Can’t Wait with the forward thinking Urbane Publications.  What has given me the most pleasure is the number of online associates I’ve made.

Even though I’m fortunate to have the resources and support to write full time and indulge my hobbies, take courses and travel, I’m choosing to leave my self-imposed isolation and re-join society. Not only do I need the stimulation of other people for my mental health, I am thirsty for a stream of fresh perspectives that, as a character writer, come from observing the behaviour of others first hand.  I’ve been asked if my career as an author is now over. That would be like asking if I’m giving up tea.  Unthinkable.

This year will see me organising a new but limited schedule of workshops and coaching sessions for people who are going through major life transitions and need help in making sense of them. As a transpersonal coach with a professional background in psychology and training, I work with people to harness their Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and Spiritual Intelligence (SQ) so as to tap into the deeper meanings in their lives.

This helps to widen perspectives on issues which block progress.   I’ve already had a company express interest in adding a spiritual dimension to their training programme so it could be a big thing in years to come.

Being out and about will mean greater opportunities to reach potential new readers for my books. It’s when people get to know authors on a face to face basis that they build up a relationship and want to buy a book or two. My hairdresser, a couple I met in the park, my dentist, a few dog walkers have all downloaded my novels because of a casual conversation about what I do. No hard sell. I’m uncomfortable with pushing my work in people’s faces whether in person or online so being able to chat about stuff on great blogs like yours is an ideal platform for me.

I shall continue to offer lots of free downloads as in my new Little Book Series which can be found on my website. These are condensed observations (about 6,000 words) about popular topics.  I am sure my blogging content will grow once I am back out there as I tend to be a prolific writer who loves to give back to those kind  people who support me.

I’ve enjoyed my three years in my writing room, walking in the Malvern Hills where I live and setting my own pace after the years of frenetic travel. My training and experience assures me that when we reach sixty, we reassess life on the approach to the final lap of our journey. It’s a salutary thought. We undergo some major internal transformations in identity which can cause upset and confusion so it’s natural to want to cling to the past.  My goal is to help people manage these transitions through coaching and writing.

On a final note, I’m editing my third book, which is set in my home town in Derbyshire. The lead character, Edna Reid, ponders the meaning of life and death and decides to set up a safe space in her café for the locals to talk about their feelings and fears. It’s not at all morbid!

My editor described it as a “humourous, thought-provoking and moving account of a strong, elderly woman’s struggle to make peace with grief and mortality”.

Thank you Sonya for hosting this post and to everyone who supports my work. You give me the encouragement to keep going. We all need that from time to time.

 

About Angelena Boden

Angelena Boden (M.Soc.Sc PGDE) has spent thirty-five years as an international training consultant, specialising in behavioural management and conflict resolution. She trained in Transactional Analysis, the psychology of communication and behaviour, her preferred tool for counselling and coaching.

She is the author of The Cruelty of Lambs, a novel about psychological domestic abuse.

Her new book, The Future Can’t Wait tackles the issue of mother-daughter estrangement and addiction to psychics.

Both books are published by Urbane Publications.

 

Links

‘The Cruelty of Lambs’ can be purchased from Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cruelty-Lambs-Angelena-Boden/dp/191112966X

 ‘The Future Can’t Wait’ can be purchased from Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Future-Cant-Wait-Angelena-Boden/dp/191158314X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1499170184&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Future+Can%27t+Wait

Website: angelenaboden.com

Twitter: @angelenaboden

Angelena Boden can be contacted by email at bodenangelena@gmail.com

 

Guest Post by Andrea Jutson

I would like to welcome Andrea Jutson to my blog.  Her book, ‘Senseless’, the first volume of The James Paxton Mysteries was published in paperback and as an eBook last month by Williams & Whiting.  Andrea has written a guest post which I hope you all enjoy.

~~~~~

Pick Your Poison – The Many Flavours of the Crime Novel

What I love about reading – and writing – crime is that, as all crime readers know, there’s no such thing as “the crime novel”. When I set out to write my first crime novel, Senseless, choosing my genre wasn’t as simple as going ‘I’ll write a book with murders in it’. I had to fight really hard to keep my writing and my characters on track, with just the right level of humour to keep it from being the sort of dry police procedural I’d grown tired of, but not so funny it headed into screwball territory. I spent some time reading the kind of authors I aspired to be, and thinking: “What would Mark Billingham sound like here?” Or conversely, having to murder my own best lines, in agony, because the punchlines ruined the punch.

It made me really think about how much crime, as a supposedly single genre, really encompasses all sorts of different conventions that each require their own skills. There’s cosy, there’s Sherlock Holmes-style detective, there’s the eight-minute hardboiled, and six-minute with a few soft bits, there’s darkly funny, the serial killer thriller, there’s police procedural, spy novel, historical – and that has as many sub-genres again – screwball caper, psychological thriller, supernatural…the list goes on. Despite all the genre-blending and bending that goes on, the hardest thing for me as a new writer doing a serial killer thriller with elements of the supernatural was staying on my side of the road. Or even finding the road.

Oddly, the amount of detail I spent describing people’s meals also seemed to come highly loaded – too much detail, and it sounded like a cosy American novel where everyone always seems to eat delicious meals of lobster or linguine with garlic-buttered dinner rolls hot from the oven and pie for dessert, but too little and it came out Lee Child. This seems like a pretty firm rule, and yet while Canadian author Louise Penny is always describing her characters’ gourmet meals – so far, so cosy – the books are somehow psychological studies. Likewise, Andrea Camilleri’s novels can spend chapters on the seafood and pasta dishes Inspector Montalbano stuffs in, and they’re hilarious, but they’re also as political as all hell. The very best crime novelists – hello, Stuart MacBride – can play very close to the edge, regularly veering off into farce while still managing to shock the hell out of us. Rules, it would seem, are meant to be broken.

It makes me shake my head when I see pages of reviews devoted to supposedly “proper” literature, when crime is reduced to just a sidebar. To me, crime is the most multi-faceted genre of all, and it’s definitely the hardest to write. Not only do crime authors need to give you plenty of clues – often more than the real police get – but like the anti-Christmas present, the clues should only be recognisable once they’re all wrapped up. Many’s the time, while pondering how much to reveal at any given moment, that I wished I’d started something easier, like a doctorate.

Now that I’ve had some time to let my own voice develop, the battle’s become easier. I’ve got to understand my characters better, and who I am as a writer. If the flavour of my books matures along the way, that’s fine with me. The wonderful thing about subtly changing your formula is that there are always plenty of readers with tastes to match. (Although the one sub-genre that stubbornly fails to excite me is the psychological thriller – I’ve never been super-keen on unpleasant protagonists! Unless they’re funny…)

 

About my books

Senseless and The Darkness Looking Back both feature barman and reluctant psychic James Paxton, an Englishman who tries to escape his reputation back home, but ends up hunting murderers in his adopted city of Auckland, New Zealand. The twists and turns are spiced with dark humour and the beautiful Auckland setting (if I do say so myself). They are now available for the first time in the UK, and are intended to be read, first and foremost, as crime novels, with a tinge of the supernatural.

 

Here’s the blurb to Senseless:

A small park in a nice Auckland suburb is the least likely spot to stumble across a body. The discovery of a man recently bludgeoned to death shatters the illusion of midwinter calm. But unfortunately for James Paxton, death is nothing out of the ordinary. Suspicion falls all too easily on the Englishman who’s hiding a secret. Not only did Paxton find the dead man – he spoke to him, too. Gifts he wished he never had are called into play when Mark Bradley begs him to track down his killer, for the sake of his daughter. Paxton’s carefully constructed new world threatens to crumble as he is sucked into the hunt for a predator, while the police snap close at his heels. And the corpses keep on mounting, one by one …

A darkly gripping mystery with an other-worldly twist.

 

Paxton’s story continues in The Darkness Looking Back. No matter which flavour of crime novel you prefer, I hope you’ll enjoy them!

~~~~~

‘Senseless’ is available to purchase from Amazon UK:-

Paperback – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Senseless-1-James-Paxton-Mysteries/dp/1911266829/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1518460367&sr=1-2&keywords=andrea+jutson

eBook – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Senseless-James-Paxton-Mysteries-Book-ebook/dp/B078S6YT1F/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1518460367&sr=1-1&keywords=andrea+jutson

 

About Andrea Jutson

Andrea Jutson is a writer from Auckland, New Zealand. She has written two crime novels featuring reticent medium James Paxton, the first of which is Senseless, and is at work on a third. In her career, Andrea has been a bookseller, journalist, collections librarian, book buyer and journalist again, and once spent almost a year selling tickets at a heritage site in London. She now works at a public relations agency, and lives in South Auckland.

To find out more about Andrea Jutson’s books visit – http://williamsandwhiting.com/

 

Blog Tour – ‘Romancing Robin Hood’ by Jenny Kane

When Jenny Kane was looking to put a blog tour together for ‘Romancing Robin Hood’, which was re-released in paperback and as an eBook by Littzwitz Press on 1st February 2018, I was only too happy to help.  The title had me intrigued and I wanted to know more about this book.

Jenny Kane has written a guest post for my blog all about her love for Robin Hood.

 

For the love of Robin Hood
Jenny Kane

Many thanks for inviting me to visit today, so I can share a little of my part modern/part medieval novel, Romancing Robin Hood.

Ever since I was a teenager I’ve had a serious outlaw obsession- all thanks to Richard Carpenter’s wonderful 1980’s television series, Robin of Sherwood. The moment I saw the first episode (which for me, happened to be the 9th episode of series three), I was hooked- not just on the show, but on anything and everything to do with the legend. I watched every film and read every book on the subject of Robin Hood I could find. This interest lasted through my GCSE years, took me through an A’ level history project, a degree, and a PhD in Medieval ballad literature and crime.

Ever since I took up a career in writing, thirteen years ago, I’ve been looking for an excuse to go back through my old history books so I can use them as research for novels. With the writing of Romancing Robin Hood I found that excuse.

Although this novel (first released in 2015 and now re-edited, re-covered and re-released), is 60% modern contemporary romance, the remaining 40% is a fourteenth century adventure. It was a real joy to read through all my old Robin Hood notes and relive the obsessions of my formative years.

 

Book Blurb

When you’re in love with a man of legend, how can anyone else match up?

Dr Grace Harper has loved the stories of Robin Hood ever since she first saw them on TV as a teenager. Now, with her fortieth birthday just around the corner, she’s a successful academic in Medieval History—but Grace is stuck in a rut.

Grace is supposed to be writing a textbook on a real-life medieval criminal gang—the Folvilles—but instead she is captivated by a novel she’s secretly writing. A medieval mystery which entwines the story of Folvilles with her long-time love of Robin Hood—and a feisty young woman named Mathilda of Twyford.

Just as she is trying to work out how Mathilda can survive being kidnapped by the Folvilles, Grace’s best friend Daisy announces she is getting married. After a whirlwind romance with a man she loves as much as the creatures in her animal shelter, Daisy has press-ganged Grace into being her bridesmaid.

Witnessing Daisy’s new-found happiness, Grace starts to re-evaluate her own life. Is her devotion to a man who may or may not have lived hundreds of years ago really a substitute for a real-life hero of her own? Grace’s life doesn’t get any easier when she meets Dr Robert Franks—a rival academic who she is determined to dislike but finds herself being increasingly drawn to… If only he didn’t know quite so much about Robin Hood.

Suddenly, spending more time living in the past than the present doesn’t seem such a good idea…

***

So, what is it about the Robin Hood story that appeals to me – and to Grace- so much?

At its base, the ballads of Robin Hood are about hope, about right triumphing over wrong – no matter who you are- and about doing the right thing. Of course, that is a very simplistic overview. Anyone who has studied the outlaw legends will quickly tell you that Robin Hood didn’t steal from the rich to give to the poor- he stole from the corrupt and cruel- if they were poor that did not matter. Nor did he give his money away- he had his own company of men to feed after all.

The notion of the Robin Hood ballads is a romantic one- despite the lack of a love story in the original tales (Maid Marion didn’t join the story until much later on). I think it’s the idea of justice prevailing no matter what the odds- no matter who is in charge. There is something so appealing about that.

The Robin Hood stories are more popular than ever. With another new Hollywood film about the outlaw due out any minute, and the original Robin of Sherwood cast from the 1980’s back in the studio recording audio dramas for a whole new generation to enjoy, that popularity is not so surprising if you think of the world we currently live in. If ever there was a time for a hero to come and right the corruptions of the country then it’s now!

Here’s an extract to whet the appetite…

It was all Jason Connery’s fault, or maybe it was Michael Praed’s? As she crashed onto her worn leather desk chair Grace, after two decades of indecision, still couldn’t decide which of the two actors she preferred in the title role of Robin of Sherwood.

That was how it had all started, ‘The Robin Hood Thing’ as Daisy referred to it, with an instant and unremitting love for a television show. Yet, for Grace, it hadn’t been a crush in the usual way. She had only watched one episode of the hit eighties series and, with the haunting theme tune from Clannad echoing in her ears, had run upstairs to her piggy bank to see how much money she’d saved, and how much more cash she’d need, before she could spend all her pocket money on the complete video collection. After that, the young Grace had done every odd job her parents would pay her for so she could purchase a myriad of Connery and Praed posters with which to bedeck her room. But that was just the beginning. Within weeks Grace had become pathologically and forensically interested in anything and everything to do with the outlaw legend as a whole.

She’d watched all the Robin Hood films, vintage scenes of Douglas Fairbanks Jr and Errol Flynn, Richard Greene, Sean Connery, and Barry Ingram. As time passed, she winced and cringed her way through Kevin Costner’s comical but endearing attempt, and privately applauded Patrick Bergin’s darker and infinitely more realistic approach to the tale. Daisy had quickly learnt to never ever mention Russell Crowe’s adaption of the story – it was the only time she’d ever heard Grace swear using words that could have been as labelled as Technicolor as the movie had been.

The teenage Grace had read every story, every ballad, and every academic book, paper, and report on the subject. She’d hoarded pictures, paintings, badges, and stickers, along with anything and everything else she could find connected with Robin Hood, his band of outlaws, his enemies, Nottingham, Sherwood, Barnsdale, Yorkshire – and so it went on and on. The collection, now over twenty years in the making, had reached ridiculous proportions and had long since overflowed from her small terraced home to her university office, where posters lined the walls, and books about the legend, both serious and comical, crammed the overstuffed shelves.

Her undergraduates who’d chosen to study medieval economy and crime as a history degree option, and her postgraduates whose interest in the intricate weavings of English medieval society was almost as insane as her own, often commented on how much they liked Dr Harper’s office. Apparently it was akin to sitting in a mad museum of medievalism. Sometimes Grace was pleased with this reaction. Other times it filled her with depression, for that office, its contents, and the daily, non-stop flow of work was her life – her whole life – and sometimes she felt that it was sucking her dry. Leaving literally no time for anything else – nor anyone else. Boyfriends had come and gone, but few had any hope of matching up to the figure she’d fallen in love with as a teenager. A man who is quite literally a legend is a hard act to follow…

***

I hope you enjoyed that. If you would like to read more about Grace, then you can buy Romancing Robin Hood from all good retailers, including…

Amazon – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Romancing-Robin-Hood-Jenny-Kane/dp/1999855248/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1517319761&sr=1-2&keywords=romancing+robin+hood+Jenny+Kane

Also- should you wish to revisit the heady days of 1980’s Robin of Sherwood- I (as Jennifer Ash) was lucky enough to be asked to write 2 episodes of the new audio series. You can find the buy links here- https://spitefulpuppet.com/product-category/robin-of-sherwood/

***

Many thanks again, Sonya.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny xx

 

About Jenny Kane

With a background in history and archaeology, Jenny Kane should really be sat in a dusty university library translating Medieval Latin criminal records, before writing research documents that hardly anyone would want to read. Instead, tucked away in the South West of England, Jenny Kane writes stories with one hand, while designing creative writing workshops for ‘Imagine’ with the other.

Jenny spends a large part of her time in her local Costa, where she creates her stories, including the novels Romancing Robin Hood (Littwitz Press, 2018), Abi’s Neighbour (Accent Press, 2017), Another Glass of Champagne (Accent, 2016), Abi’s House (Accent Press, June 2015), the best selling contemporary romance Another Cup of Coffee (Accent Press, 2013), and the novella length sequels Another Cup of Christmas (Accent Press, 2013), Christmas in the Cotswolds, (Accent Press, 2014), and Christmas at the Castle, (Accent Press, 2015).

Jenny also writes medieval crime fiction as Jennifer Ash.

The Outlaw’s Ransom and The Winter Outlaw will both be published by Littwitz Press in early 2018

Jenny Kane is also the author of quirky children’s picture books There’s a Cow in the Flat (Hushpuppy, 2014) and Ben’s Biscuit Tin (Hushpuppy, 2015)

Keep your eye on Jenny’s blog at www.jennykane.co.uk for more details.

Twitter – @JennyKaneAuthor   @JenAshHistory    @Imagine_Writing

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/JennyKaneRomance?ref=hl

Facebook for Jennifer Ash – https://www.facebook.com/jenniferashhistorical/?ref=bookmarks

Facebook for Imagine – https://www.facebook.com/ImagineCreativeWriting/?ref=settings

Jenny Kane also writes erotica as Kay Jaybee. (www.kayjaybee.me.uk)

 

Lynne Milford’s Monthly Guest Post

Last year I ran a competition on Twitter, the prize being for an author to feature on my blog for a whole year.  The lucky winner was Lynne Milford aka LM Milford.  During the course of this year Lynne will be writing a variety of guest posts which I hope you all enjoy.

 

My writing journey

If you’d asked me as a child what I wanted to be when I grew up, my answer would, without any thought, have been ‘a writer’. By that, I meant a published author with a shelf groaning with my books. I think I was about seven or eight-years-old when I developed this ambition. It was last year, at the age of 36 and a half, that I finally achieved that aim. That should tell you just how long my writing journey has been!

But in actual fact, I’ve been a writer since the day I picked up a pencil at the age of seven or eight and started to try and write a story. When I look back at my work it’s clear what I was reading at the time because my writing very much mirrors it. When I was in my Famous Five phase, it was always children having adventures without the problem of parents stopping you from having fun. When I hit my teens and moved on to Sweet Valley High and other romantic fiction, I tried my hand at that but soon realised it wasn’t for me. I simply couldn’t create a heroine who wasn’t a carbon copy of any other heroines out there. Maybe it was that I didn’t really believe in romance – it was something that hadn’t really touched me and so I couldn’t express it.

Then I met (figuratively speaking) a nice lady called Agatha Christie. Suddenly reading, and writing, took on a new dimension. I’d found my home – my genre – in the tightly plotted mystery. I recently said to a friend that Agatha Christie was one of my major influencers and she said you can see it in my book – what a compliment! So it’s clear that you learn to write by reading extensively in your genre.

It was an exercise in a Year 9 English literature class that really set me off on my journey to being a crime writer. We were told to write the opening scene of a novel, using a number of set words. Mine turned into a private detective heading down to a country house party to tackle a mysterious circumstance. You can see Agatha Christie’s influence there, can’t you? I never finished that book (I may one day, who knows) but it gave me the taste for sitting down and creating people and a mystery that my main character had to solve. And, of course, he would be the only person who could solve it!

I’ve always been aware that a career as a full-time writer is a long way off – if not out of my grasp – and so I’ve always had a full-time job. I started out in journalism and it was during a very dull council meeting that the book that became A Deadly Rejection started to develop. That was in about 2007, so that will also tell you how long the writing journey is (or can be). Over the next two years I poured the unplanned story onto the page and then learned, the hard way, that a novel needs to be plotted out before you start writing. Otherwise you spend ages going up blind alleys and wasting a lot of time. At the end of the two years I was quite pleased with the story and after a bit of tinkering sent it out to a few agents. I now recognise this was a bit of a mistake because the book was nowhere near ready, but I have a very nice rejection letter from one agent which I’ve kept all these years.

When nothing happened with Book One, I decided to sit down and write another. Again it took two years, thanks to my full time job and a period of illness. It was also unplanned. However, this gave me the confidence that I could do it again – by which I mean finish something. That’s a big challenge in writing – to not decide that what you’re writing is a load of rubbish (it probably isn’t) and give up.

Since then, I’ve learned a lot. I revised A Deadly Rejection over and over again, learning more and more about the plotting and editing process as I went along. It’s been slow progress and has taken longer than it took to write to kick the book into shape. It’s taken blood, sweat and tears (literally in some cases) to get the book to where it is, but it’s been worth every second. To stand there holding your paperback, knowing that you did it all yourself (it’s self-published) is a feeling that’s second to none.

Publishing the first book is fantastic, but it’s not the end – it’s only the beginning. I’m currently kicking Book Two into shape and am hoping to publish it later this year. Then it’s onto writing Book Three and editing the novella that I’ve already written.

Sometimes writing is hard work. Just getting into the writing chair feels impossible. But it’s worth it for the end result!

A Deadly Rejection is available in paperback and ebook through Amazon https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0768WP1SB

 

About Lynne Milford

By day, I work in PR and communications; by night (and at weekends) I write crime fiction (as well as baking pies and chocolate brownies).

In a previous life I worked as a local newspaper reporter. This gave me the inspiration for the story that has become my first novel, A Deadly Rejection.

I live in Kent and spend far too much time on trains commuting into London for work, which does however give me time to work on plotting and writing my books.

You can keep tabs on what I’m up to by following me on Twitter @lmmilford or by checking out my blog www.lmmilford.wordpress.com. I write about what I’m working on, advice on what I’ve learned through my work and how to move forward with writing.

 

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

 

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

 

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