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Archive for the tag “contemporary fiction”

Blog Tour – ‘Girlfriend, Interrupted’ by Patricia Caliskan ~ @SapereBooks @Caliskaniverse_

‘Girlfriend, Interrupted’ is being published as an eBook and in paperback on the 28th June 2018 by Sapere Books.  I am thrilled to be taking part in this blog tour and would like to thank the lovely Caoimhe O’Brien for inviting me to take part.  This sounds like such a fun book.

I have something very special for all of you today.  First off an extract and, wait for it, a chance to win 1 of 3 x copies of this book.  Before all that though here’s what ‘Girlfriend, Interrupted’ is about.

 

Book Blurb

Brown-eyed, brunette, 25.

Enjoys walking barefoot across shards of broken home. Likes loaded silences, resentment and insomnia. Dislikes romantic weekends, lie-ins and any chance of future happiness.

Former GSOH. Developing PTSD.

Ella Shawe was undomesticated, unattached and uninhibited.

Until she met Dan. Sexy, charming and funny, Dan ticked all the right boxes and Ella threw herself head-first into the whirlwind romance.

But now she’s moved into his family home, complete with two demanding children and a hyperactive dog.

Throw in Dan’s impossibly perfect ex-wife, Ella’s interfering sex therapist mother and the snooty and dismissive mother-in-law from Hell, and Ella is almost ready to throw in the towel.

But, ready or not, Ella is part of the family now, and getting it right for Dan’s kids means getting it right for everyone. She just needs to figure out how to include herself in the mix…

Girlfriend, Interrupted will have you laughing-out-loud, gasping in embarrassment and rooting for Ella all the way.

 

Extract

Chapter One: Capital Punishment

It hadn’t occurred to me that the love of my life would turn out to be somebody else’s dad. If I’d thought about it long enough I’d have realized, the best thing that happened to me ended up being the worst thing that happened to Dan’s kids. Well, at least since the divorce anyway. And, if it was any consolation to them, I got a second-hand romance. It wasn’t exactly the kind of thing you’d look out for in a dating profile:

 

Brown-eyed, brunette, 26.

Enjoys walking barefoot across shards of broken home.

Likes loaded silences, festering resentment and insomnia.

Dislikes romantic weekends, sexy lie-ins and any chance of future happiness.

Former GSOH. Developing PTSD.

 

But, as with all great love affairs, it hadn’t started out that way. Those two, very separate worlds had slowly collided. We never really talked about what that meant. I mean, how could a man love you if his children didn’t even like you? You’ve probably already guessed, but that was exactly the question I’d been trying to avoid lately as I made my way into the office Friday morning. Only a few hours ahead of being utterly useless around the children for yet another weekend. Although, I thought, glancing over at reception, it was a far better option than falling in love with somebody else’s husband…

‘I am going to leave her, Karen!’ Harry Collins, Head of Digital, was leaning over the reception desk. ‘I promise I will, but it’s not that easy. I’ve got three children to think —’ He flinched at my footsteps. ‘So, those er … those staples? We’ll need at least another two boxes up there…’

Suddenly scrutinizing her to-do list, Karen-From-Reception, all blow-dry and diamante earrings, rearranged her cardigan. Scribbling everything down with a professionalism bordering on the provocative.

‘And those A5 notebooks, please, like we said.’ He pretended he’d only just noticed me. ‘Not the A4.’ He raised a hand. ‘Ah, morning Ella!’

‘Morning, Karen. Harry…’

The three of us exchanged polite smiles as I carried on towards the stairs, avoiding the lift in case I ended up stuck in there with him.

Steen & Heard Communications was located on the second floor of a listed building on Hanover Street. Sunlight streaked through the blinds as I fixed my jacket onto my chair and opened my first email of the day:

 

URGENT!

FOR IMMEDIATE ACTION.

ACCOUNT DATA FOR PREVIOUS 12 MONTHS!!!

 

This was a typical greeting from Heather Constantine, Public Relations Manager extraordinaire. I’d found the best way to deal with her emails was to pretend they were computer-generated by a machine too primitive to know any better. Although, the ‘Read Receipt’ she included on every message was particularly annoying. Especially when she sat close enough to accept my offer of a Smint without leaving her seat.

I glanced over at her, peering behind her bifocals. Her short, sharp, red hair, hinting at her short, sharp disposition. She scrutinised her screen, searching out juicy worms of commission fit for the taking. First thing in the morning, her lack of hello, eye contact, please or thank you, had the same effect as having a jug of iced water poured over your head. In fact, I’d have chosen the ice bucket challenge every time.

Heather Constantine was the reason I dreamt about being sacked the way other people dreamt about winning the lottery.

Initially, I had worked for James Steen (who was really posh and semi-retired, which is what really posh people aged around sixty seemed to do), and his partner, Audrey Heard, as a copywriter. I was initially hired to write press releases, manage website copy, oversee editorial pieces for our clients, that kind of thing. But within weeks, Heather made me into her unofficial personal assistant and psychological punch bag. Nowadays, I took care of her admin, weekly diary and, on one occasion, a furious outbreak of cystitis, rather than becoming some kind of capable business protégé to her wise mentor-figure, the way Audrey seemed to think it worked.

‘Morning, Ella!’

Leah, Office Support, walked in behind Harry. Her neon-painted grin brightened the shadow of Heather, looming permanently over the rest of our day.

‘Morning, Heather…’

The typing continued.

Leah hung up her coat and straightened her skirt.

‘Would you like a cup of tea, Heather?’

Heather glanced at her watch.

‘Ten minutes ago. I trust you’ll be deducting the time from your lunch hour?’

I gave Leah a sympathetic look. Heather classed five-past-nine as unforgivably late. The only time she’d left the office for anything other than a meeting was when she gave birth to her son.

‘Would you like a coffee, Ella?’

‘I’d love one, please.’ I was deliberately perky. I hoped Heather might pick up on more pleasant ways to interact with other human beings. ‘Thanks for asking. Hey, Leah — we made it! No matter what happens, they’ll never take Friday away from us…’

‘Make sure you use my almond milk.’ Heather’s fingernails clawed at high-speed across her keyboard.

Almond milk? I’d never heard of it. I wondered if they made it especially for people like Heather, who must have problems with turning the regular stuff sour.

‘Will do.’ Leah smiled, not wasting another minute. She paused briefly at Harry’s desk to take his order as he fired up multiple screens on the digital bank.

Harry headed up a team of three almost identical lads. They all wore beards, checked shirts and sprayed-on jeans. As far as I knew none of them had any interest in harvesting trees, but you’d’ve sworn they’d just trekked back from an Alaskan Lumberjack convention. Either that or been knitted as a matching set by someone’s well-meaning grandma. I’d tried striking up conversation with them in the past, but they only communicated in instant messages. And, while the rest of us lived on the stuff, none of them drank tea or coffee, even though it was the lingua franca of our offices. Maybe there’d been some sort of technological advancement, I thought. Apple had launched the iRefreshment while the rest of us still stood around, boiling the kettle.

‘Is almond milk good for you?’

Heather caught my eye, standing to unlock her filing cabinet.

‘Well, obviously.’ She inhaled a laugh, combing through an assortment of colour-coded files. ‘I wouldn’t be drinking it if it were bad for me, now would I?’

I wasn’t sure if she was trying to make a joke or not.

I’d never learned to speak fluent Dictator.

‘It’s vegan friendly. Cholesterol and lactose-free. Those things are bad for you,’ she explained as if talking to a three-year-old. ‘So, yes. It is.’

She shut the metal drawer with a thunk!

Heather was vegan? I was surprised. You’d have imagined most vegans being quite nice to the people they worked with, considering they were so kind to animals.

‘Good morning!’

All heads turned as Audrey Steen, lady boss and agency owner, walked in, looking chic as ever. All curled lashes and nude lip gloss. Wearing my favourite outfit of hers, the grey trilby and pastel pink trench combo.

Audrey was utterly fabulous. One of those gorgeous, older ladies who crystal and diamonds cried out for, rustling up timeless glamour every morning.

‘How’s everything going, Heather?’ She cast a brief smile of hello my way. ‘Apollo doing well?’

If we hadn’t already worked out Heather had a messiah complex, she’d humbly named her first-born after a Greek god.

‘He’s doing brilliantly.’

‘Good to hear it. Did I tell you Peter’s wife’s expecting in the next few weeks?’

‘You must be thrilled.’ Heather still managed to look glacial despite the baby talk.

I’d tried mentioning Dan’s kids, Grace and Ethan, to Heather once. She’d looked at me as if I’d been clipping my toenails at my desk. I’d decided to drop the topic indefinitely.

‘We are. We are.’ Audrey smiled. ‘Listen, we really must have that catch-up. I’ve been meaning to put some time aside, see where we’re up to.’

‘Everything’s back on track.’ Heather squinted at Audrey with what I think was meant to be a smile, unless the sun was in her eyes. ‘I’d like to schedule in a meeting with you today if that’s convenient, Audrey? Four o’clock?’

‘Right-o!’ Audrey said. ‘Well, nothing pressing springs to mind…’

‘Ella?’ Heather rearranged her desk. ‘Could you update my diary?’

‘Of course, Heather.’ I wished I could schedule her in for a routine personality transplant while I was at it.

‘And, by the way.’ Audrey took off her hat, running her fingers through her perfect hair. ‘It’s great to have you back, Heather. Oh.’ She glanced at Leah’s desk then looked my way. ‘Have I missed the first brew of the morning?’

‘Coffee?’

‘Please. Do you mind? I’m always in need of a complete transfusion by the end of the week.’

I noticed a faint sneer from Heather as I walked past her desk, possibly because I wasn’t taking IMMEDIATE ACTION on compiling her account data. Instead, I made my way into the staff kitchen and found Leah standing against the counter, mobile in hand.

‘What’s the matter?’

‘I’m fine.’ She put her phone inside her pocket and took a teaspoon from the drawer. Then stopped, eyes flooding. ‘I split up with my boyfriend.’

‘Oh. That’s not good.’

‘But then we got back together.’

‘And that’s bad?’

‘He’s just messaged saying he thinks we should leave it tonight. And.’ She checked her reflection in the mirror. ‘I just can’t handle Heather today. Urgh.’ She wiped inkblots of mascara from the corners of her eyes. ‘I missed the early train, doing my makeup. Now it’s ruined and I’m not even seeing him…’

‘Here.’ I grabbed another cup for Audrey. ‘You go and get yourself fixed up. I’ll finish the drinks.’

‘You sure?’

The kettle clicked to a halt as I busied myself at the counter.

‘Thanks, Ella. Oh.’ She paused on her way to the door. ‘Make sure you use her special milk, whatever you do. Heather’s almond milk’s in there. Bottom shelf. She’s labelled it.’

Of course she has, I thought. Even though everyone else in the office shared the same two-litre carton, it obviously wasn’t good enough for the Constantine constitution. Almond milk. I stared at the weird, peachy liquid. It didn’t look all that bad, but it definitely smelled a bit funny. Sod it. If Heather was going to stress us all out, the least she could do was lower our Cholesterol. I gave us all a free sample.

Back at my desk I found another email lying in wait to sabotage my happiness:

 

URGENT: FOR IMMEDIATE ACTION.

Re: SUBJECT HEADING.

Re: Previous email: Account data for previous 12 months!!!

 

I couldn’t help but look over again.

Not a flicker.

Working with Heather was like catching a virus. You started slightly off-colour and ended up wanting to crawl under the covers, slayed by a highly contagious case of her utter misery. I found the files on the system and opened a new document. It was so bad that the thought of meeting mum for lunch formed an emergency raft in my mind that saw me safely through to half-past twelve.

 

Competition

I really hope you enjoyed the extract.  Now for the competition.

Sapere Books are kindly giving away 1 of 3 x eBook copies of ‘Girlfriend, Interrupted’.  To enter just leave a comment telling me what you thought of the extract and why you want to read this book.

 

Terms and Conditions

This competition is open worldwide.

The closing date is 11:59 p.m. on the 3rd July 2018.

The winners will be chosen at random within 7 days of the closing date and their details will be passed on to Caoimhe O’Brien of Sapere Books.

 

About Patricia Caliskan

Following a childhood spent writing her first books, most notably, Our Book about Jesus – a self-help guide for fellow young Catholics, and, The Sleepover – a compelling tale of a midnight feast, shockingly intercepted by fictitious parents with badly drawn hands, Patricia Caliskan always liked to play with words.

Patricia first saw her name misspelt in print aged 17, interviewing hungover rock stars and illegible actors for an Arts and Entertainment magazine. After graduating from the University of Liverpool, Patricia joined Trinity Mirror Newsgroup, working as editor across a portfolio of lifestyle magazine titles.

Patricia likes a good pair of boots, wearing perfume with her pyjamas, and laughter. Lots of laughter. Because without it life feels far too grown up for her liking. Told with mischievous humour, Patricia’s stories explore family dynamics, office politics, and the divergent roles of women throughout their lives.

Girlfriend, Interrupted is Patricia’s second novel: her first, Awful by Comparison, will be reissued by Sapere Books this summer.

 

Links

The eBook of ‘Girlfriend, Interrupted’ can be pre-ordered from:-

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07BZVC2YF?tag=geolinker-21

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/Girlfriend-Interrupted-twenty-something-mother-two-ebook/dp/B07BZVC2YF/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1530001026&sr=1-1-spons&keywords=girlfriend%2C+interrupted&psc=1

 

Patricia Caliskan can be contacted via:-

Website – https://patriciacaliskanauthor.com/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/Caliskaniverse_

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

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15574926.Patricia_Caliskan

 

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Blog Blitz – ‘A Garden in Cornwall’ by Laura Briggs

Happy publication day to Laura Briggs whose new novella, ‘A Garden in Cornwall’, the twelfth and final novella in the A Wedding in Cornwall series is out today.

I am absolutely thrilled to be taking part in this blog blitz which was organised by the lovely Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources.  I have a guest post for all of you.  First though, here’s what the book is about.

 

Book Blurb

With their lives exactly what they’ve always dreamed, Matt and Julianne await the arrival of the third member of their family — but their happiness is threatened when their landlady Mathilda announces her intention to sell their beloved Rosemoor Cottage for an impossible value. Devastated, Julianne struggles to accept the cold reality of her and Matt making their home elsewhere.

Matt’s life has taken a new turn as he finally puts aside his academic work to pursue his gardening hobby as a career: his first new job as a landscape designer involves neglected Penwill Hall’s ‘lost’ garden — one with a truly romantic Cornish past. But the task of restoring its legendary beauty from nearly seventy years ago proves difficult among the ruins lost in weeds and wilderness.

With notions of secret gardens and wartime stories echoing in her thoughts, Julianne is determined to help Matt and the estate’s new owner after the discovery of a hidden mural in the hall itself, depicting a breathtaking garden that may well be the lost one. Her efforts to uncover the past lead her to a curmudgeonly local gardener who just may hold the knowledge that would restore the ‘lost garden’ to its former glory. Will Julianne’s quest help her find a way to deal with losing the home she loves?

Hellos and farewells abound as Dinah returns to lend a helping hand at Cliffs House and Julianne relives her favourite memories of her and Matt’s beloved cottage in Book Twelve — the final instalment in the bestselling series A WEDDING IN CORNWALL.

‘A Garden in Cornwall’ is available to purchase from:-

Amazon UK – https://amzn.to/2IUC9AY

Amazon US – http://smarturl.it/agardenincornwall

 

Guest Post

I would like to thank Sonya for inviting me to share about my writing with all her readers at A Lover of Books!

Two years ago when I penned the novella called A Wedding in Cornwall, I had no idea how readers would respond. After all, I’m an American author whose never set foot on Cornish land in her life and has mostly the internet and PBS airings of Poldark and Doc Martin to help them picture its beauty as a literary setting. But those breathtaking cliffs and images of water breaking on the rocky shore were just too good to resist. So in the end, my heroine, an American wedding planner named Julianne, took the leap ‘across the Pond’ to work at a beautiful Cornish manor house…and twelve novellas later, I’m happy to say it has been a fantastic experience.

Readers in the UK have overwhelmed me with their support for Julianne’s world. Overlooking the cultural inaccuracies (and I fear there are many, many of them), they have embraced its tiny fictional village and its characters, returning again and again for each new adventure. From a holiday ball to a baking competition, a royal wedding, and even a talent show, they have followed Julianne and her friends with a level of enthusiasm I never anticipated. Their reviews are a joy to read, especially those who know and love Cornwall and feel the series has a special meaning for them as a result. One reader even remarked that it inspired them to revisit that very county after many years—a truly lovely sentiment to hear as an author hoping to pay tribute to the place they’re writing about.

Now, as the story draws to a close with the bittersweet A Garden in Cornwall, I look forward to sharing new projects, including another Cornish-based romance series for 2019. A different heroine discovering Cornwall under very different circumstances than Julianne, but I very much hope that readers will enjoy these new characters and adventures.  I’ll be releasing details on Book One and the series as a whole throughout the year, including title and cover reveal, story synopsis, and special excerpts from the manuscript’s rough draft. I’m very excited for readers to meet these new characters (especially the dreamy hero!) over the next few months.

And I’m not forgetting those who enjoy the excitement of the wedding planning world. In fact, this summer will launch the first book in a new wedding-themed series I’m writing for the UK publisher Bookouture. I can’t wait for readers to meet its trio of plucky heroines as they navigate their own romantic troubles while making sure their client has a picture-perfect big day.

To be notified of all my new book releases, readers should be sure to follow my Amazon author page here: http://author.to/briggsauthorpage

 

Giveaway

Win an e-copy of A Garden In Cornwall (Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Click on the link to enter http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c6949487/?

 

About Laura Briggs

Laura Briggs is the author of several lighthearted romance novels and novellas, including the bestselling Amazon UK series A Wedding in Cornwall. She has a fondness for vintage-style dresses (especially ones with polka dots), and reads everything from Jane Austen to modern day mysteries. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with family, caring for her pets, going to movies and plays, and trying new restaurants.

 

Social Media Links

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

Twitter:        https://twitter.com/PaperDollWrites

 

Blog Tour – ‘The Gardener’s Daughter’ by K A Hitchins

The Gardener’s Daughter was published on the 15th March 2018 in paperback and as an eBook by Instant Apostle.  I am delighted to be taking part in this blog tour for which I have interviewed K A Hitchins.

 

First of all can you tell me a bit about your new book please?

The Gardener’s Daughter is a Young Adult thriller exploring the theme of identity. The main character is a motherless nineteen-year-old girl who accidentally discovers she was adopted and runs away in search of her biological father. Penniless and cut-off from everything she’s ever known, and trapped in a deadly game of cat and mouse with a ruthless criminal gang,  her journey of discovery unearths the shocking truth behind her mother’s death and the identity of her real father – with plenty of excitement and a sprinkling of romance along the way.

 

What made you decide to write this book?

When I lost my Dad to cancer and began speaking to friends about what he had meant to me, I realised just how many people don’t have a good relationship with their fathers, or even have any real contact with them. Most of the positive things in my life are a direct result of the happy and secure upbringing my parents gave me, rather than the result of anything especially good or talented about me. What would happen, I wondered, if I woke up one day and realised that everything in my childhood had been a lie, and that my real father had abandoned me before I was born? That was the premise for the book. Ava’s identity is intrinsically linked to knowing where she’s come from and finding a place she can call home.

 

How long did it take you to write?

It took about five months to write, but then another couple of months working with my copy editor and proof reader to really tighten up the manuscript.

 

Did you have to do any research?

Much of the action takes place in a cheesy caravan holiday park. As I’ve had more than my fair share of family caravan holidays, I didn’t have to do much research on the setting. Surprisingly the most difficult part of the book was the historical era. I’ve set the book in 2003, before Facebook, Twitter and Smartphones. I had to keep reminding myself that my main character, Ava, couldn’t check her emails on her phone. It’s amazing how much we depend on technology to know what’s going on and to connect with people. Without it, Ava has to depend on more traditional detecting methods to track down her real father.

 

What do you hope readers will get out of this book?

I hope readers have a really great experience. I love it when I get reviews from people who couldn’t go to bed until they’d finished one of my stories. That makes it all worthwhile. However, there is an underlying message in the book about love and forgiveness which I hope readers will find uplifting.

 

Are you working on any other writing projects?

I have another completed manuscript called Love in the Village of Drought which requires some editing before I submit it to a publisher, and I’m in the very early stages of writing my fifth novel, provisionally entitled, ‘The Shortness of Life’.

 

What has the publishing process been like for you?

I started writing seriously in January 2012. While I was writing my first book, The Girl at the End of the Road, I joined the HarperCollins online writing community called Authonomy. Authors would post up their chapters or completed novels and receive feedback and ratings from other writers and readers. Every month the top five books would receive an editorial report from HarperCollins, with the possibility of a publishing deal. The feedback I received from other writers really helped me polish my manuscript about a shallow, materialistic man who falls in love with a woman with Aspergers until it was ready to be sent out to publishers and agents.

By January 2015, my novel reached number four out of more than 6,000 books on the Authonomy site. I waited for the promised critical feedback from a Harper Collins Editor, but heard nothing. I was still sending the manuscript out and in May 2015 I was offered a contract from a small independent publisher called Instant Apostle. After a few agonising hours of wondering whether to hold on for my Harper Collins review or accept the bird in the hand, I agreed to meet the publisher and signed the contract the following week. Four days later, Harper Collins sent me their review and expressed an interest in the book.

I must confess, I had a short internal tussle of, ‘What if’, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m with the right publisher for now. They are small, flexible, inclusive and supportive, and want to bring me into all the decision making relating to the cover and the blurb etc. Even with this support, the experience has been overwhelming so I know I wasn’t ready back then for anything more high-powered.

While planning the launch for The Girl at the End of the Road (which took place in March 2016) I mentioned to my publisher that I’d started writing a book about a girl in a coma who was trying to solve her own murder. They immediately asked me to sign a contract, even though I’d only written a few chapters. The Key of All Unknown was launched in October 2016. It’s the story of brilliant scientific researcher, Tilda Moss, who wakes up in hospital unable to speak or move and with no recollection of what happened to her. Determined to find answers and prove to her family and doctors that she’s not in a persistent vegetative state, she searches for clues in the conversations she overhears and in the fractured memories that haunt her.

In between writing The Girl at the End of the Road in 2012 and The Key of All Unknown in 2016, I’d finished two further manuscripts: Love in the Village of Drought in 2013 and The Gardener’s Daughter in 2015.  It’s been great to work with the Instant Apostle editors to bring the latter project to completion. I can’t believe I’m about to publish my third novel in two years. I’ve learned such a lot about the publishing process and how to promote my books on social media, that I now feel confident to call myself a proper writer.

 

What advice have you got for anyone wishing to write a book? 

My advice to everyone is to read widely and step outside of your comfort zone every now and then. It’s all too easy to get into a rut with a favourite genre, but mixing it up a little and picking up a book you wouldn’t usually choose, particularly one which stretches your heart, mind and soul, is a great way to broaden your reading experience and improve your writing.

 

What do you like to do in your spare time? 

Writing is what I do in my spare time. I’m a busy mum, a Trustee of a children’s charity working in Togo, West Africa, and I also help other authors with their social media promotion. It’s difficult  not to let my writing get pushed to the bottom of the pile of things to do. To get away from the ever present housework, I take myself out to a supermarket café at least once a week for a couple of hours of writing.

 

 

Book Blurb

Motherless nineteen-year-old Ava has always believed brilliant botanist Theo Gage to be her father. But when a chance discovery reveals she is not his daughter, her world falls apart. Determined to discover her true identity, Ava impetuously runs away and enlists the help of inexperienced private detective, Zavier Marshall. Pursued by shadowy figures, she takes on a new name and follows in her dead mother’s footsteps to work at the mysterious Fun World Holiday Camp. Penniless and cut-off from everything she’s ever known, and trapped in a deadly game of cat and mouse with a ruthless criminal gang, will Ava survive in a world where she’s more valuable dead than alive? Will she discover the shocking truth behind her mother’s death? And will she find her real father before it s too late?

‘The Gardener’s Daughter’ can be purchased from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Gardeners-Daughter-K-Hitchins-ebook/dp/B07B3V1PQF/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1521880845&sr=1-2-fkmr0&keywords=kathryn+hitchins

 

 

About K A Hitchins

K A Hitchins studied English, Religious Studies and Philosophy at Lancaster University and later obtained a Masters in Postmodern Literatures in English from Birkbeck College, London University. Her debut novel, The Girl at the End of the Road, was published by Instant Apostle in March 2016, followed by The Key of All Unknown in October 2016. Both books were short-listed for Woman Alive magazine’s Readers’ Choice Award 2017, with The Key of All Unknown reaching the final three. Her third novel The Gardener’s Daughter was published on 15 March 2018. She is married with two children and lives in Hertfordshire.

 

 

Links

Website:   www.kahitchins.co.uk

Twitter:  @KathrynHitchins

Facebook:-

Kathryn Hitchins

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100015464465799

K A Hitchins, Author page

https://www.facebook.com/KathrynHitchins/

Instagram:  kathryn_hitchins

 

Cover Reveal – ‘The Magic of Stars’ by Jackie Ladbury

Happy New Year to you all!  I hope it’s been a good one so far.

This is my very first post of 2018 and today I am absolutely delighted to be sharing the cover for ‘The Magic of Stars’ by Jackie Ladbury.  The second book in the Blue Skies Airline series, it has been published as an eBook by Fabrian Books.  I can tell you now that I fell in love with the cover the moment I first saw it.  This is a series I would really like to read.

So, are you ready for a treat?  Here goes……..

 

Book Blurb

Sapphire Montrose always felt like a loser in the struggle of life, but when she becomes the airline manager of a run-down airline she starts to believe she is a winner – until she unwittingly propositions her new boss and all her hard work is undone.

In a moment of recklessness air stewardess, Sapphire Montrose throws caution and her dress to the wind by propositioning a handsome stranger in a hotel in Florence, only to find herself waking up alone and embarrassed in her hotel room.

Unfortunately for Sapphire, it turns out that her new boss, Marco Cavarelli, is the man she failed to seduce and she is now fighting for her job and her self-respect when he tells her there is no place in his revamped airline for an alcoholic woman with lascivious tendencies. To make matters worse she is increasingly attracted to him and he seems to be giving out the same vibes. Or is he simply testing her? One wrong move could be the end of her career. But what if he really is offering love – and is he worth the risk?

~~~~~

I really hope you like the sound of this book.   If you do then you’ll be pleased to know that it is available to purchase from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Magic-Stars-feel-good-heavenly-romance-ebook/dp/B078BF91XS

 

About Jackie Ladbury

Jackie Ladbury was desperate to become a journalist when she left school but was ousted within minutes on the day of the exam at her local rag because she’d forgotten to bring a pen.

Short and sharp lesson learned.

Her budding writing career was not on hold for long, though, as Jackie found herself scribbling love stories of pilots and ‘hosties’ while she flew in aeroplanes of various shapes and sizes as a flight attendant herself.

Fast forward a good few years and, after being short-listed in a couple of prestigious romantic writing competitions, Jackie decided it was time to discard her stilettos, say goodbye to the skies and concentrate on writing romantic novels, where the only given is a guaranteed ‘happy ever after.’

 

Social Media Links

Website – https://thewriteromantics.com/

The Write Romantics – https://thewriteromantics.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/jackie.ladbury

Twitter – https://twitter.com/JackieLadbury

 

Book Extract – ‘Random Acts of Kindness: Part One’ by Victoria Walters

Part One of ‘Random Acts of Kindness’ by Victoria Walters was published on the 4th December 2017 as an eBook by Simon & Schuster UK.  I have a real treat for all of you today.  Yes, the author wants to share the first chapter of her book.  Isn’t that just lovely?  The extract will follow in a moment, but first here’s what the book is about.

 

Book Blurb

An emotional, cosy, community read that will reaffirm your faith in human kindness; perfect for fans of Cathy Bramley, Penny Parkes and Jo Thomas. 

Welcome to Littlewood, a small town community with a big heart. Abbie has fled London and the humiliation of not being able to make rent after being made redundant. Louise, seriously unlucky in love, has thrown herself into her career at the local hospital. And Eszter, who has travelled from Hungary with her daughter, Zoe, hopes to reach out to the mother-in-law she never met while her husband was still alive…

Can a little bit of kindness really change your life? Three very different women are about to find out…

 

Extract

Chapter One

The endless green countryside stretched out as far as Abbie Morgan could see from the train window. The urban blanket of London had transformed into the rolling Surrey Hills as she made her way to the small town of Littlewood. It had been a nightmare of a week and her head was still pounding. Her suitcases were wedged in beside her, another painful reminder that this wasn’t a quick visit to see her younger sister, Louise, she was actually moving in with her. Hopefully not for long, but still . . .

Abbie sighed and leaned her head against the cool window so that her shoulder-length dark curls fell across her cheek, screening her from her fellow passengers. She was relieved that her train carriage was relatively empty, save for a mother and daughter a few seats away, so she could dwell on recent events in glum peace. She had lived in London for five years since leaving university and couldn’t believe she was being forced to part ways with it. But when she had been made redundant from her job at City PR, where she had worked for the last two years, she knew there was no way she could stay in the city she loved. The worst part was that her ex-boyfriend, Jack, a partner at the company, had been the one to deliver the news.

Abbie’s phone on her lap buzzed with a call. ‘Hi, Lou,’ she greeted her sister, forcing a smile into her voice, if not fully onto her face. She was grateful to her little sister for putting her up but wished she didn’t live in such a tiny town. At least the train would be quite quick for getting back to the city if she had interviews to go to.

‘I’m so sorry I won’t be there to meet you from the train,’ Louise said. ‘I won’t be much longer though. Do you want to meet me at the café near the station and we can go home together?’ Louise was a nurse at a hospital in the next, larger town, and her shift would be over soon. Abbie agreed to the plan and got directions to Brew. Louise said she was excited to finally show her town to Abbie, who hadn’t had any time since getting the assistant job at City PR to make the trip out of London. Louise had always come to stay with her when she had time off instead. To Abbie, London was the place that everyone should want to be, so she had been surprised that Louise had settled somewhere so quiet.

The train soon drew into the small station of Littlewood. Colourful hanging baskets adorned the platform. It made a stark change from the graffiti Abbie was used to seeing on her old commute. She heaved her two wheelie cases off the train and rattled along the platform with them. She had sent the rest of her things to her parents’ house in Cornwall.

After struggling through the barriers with her bags, she began to walk to the café – which turned out to be in the grounds of a grand stone house perched on top of a hill looking over the small town.

The uphill walk was not at all easy in her favourite four-inch-heeled boots, but when you were as tiny as she was, you needed the extra height at all times, so she dragged herself and her bags towards the stately home. Louise said the café stood at the beginning of the estate and was the best place in Littlewood for coffee. And, God, Abbie needed a large cup.

She heard a faint noise in the wind behind her, but she kept up her brisk London pace, thinking it was probably someone after money or something. That was usually why people tried to get your attention nowadays.

Finally, she made it to the top of the hill. The café was just through the imposing iron gates of the stately home. There was a green and gold sign proclaiming the house to be Huntley Manor – a luxury hotel, apparently. Abbie glanced at the tall, light-brown stone building as she made her way to the cute-looking café on the edge of the green. The hotel looked as if it could have been lifted out of a Jane Austen novel and Abbie resolved to explore it soon.

Abbie gratefully pushed open the door to Brew to escape the light drizzle of rain starting to fall on top of her shoulders, and she went up to the counter to order. The café was cute and colourful with small, round wooden tables with a vase of sunflowers on each and slate chairs in different shades of blue, a black and white tiled floor and a large counter at the back with a vast array of delicious-looking cakes. Abbie breathed in the fresh coffee smell that lingered on the air. She loved cafés and this one felt like home as soon as she walked through the door.

‘Good morning!’ said a lady with a messy grey-haired bun and big smile, leaning on the counter to greet her. Her apron was blue and white with ‘Have a Brew!’ written on it in big letters. ‘What can I get you?’

‘A large latte, please.’

The woman started making it immediately and glanced back at Abbie as she did so. ‘I haven’t seen you in here before, have I?’

Abbie shook her head. ‘No, I’m here to stay with my sister.’

‘Well, I’m Joy and I own Brew with my husband, Harry. He’s in the back making sandwiches. Welcome to Littlewood,’ she said cheerfully, sliding Abbie’s drink across to her. She moved to the till.

Abbie reached for her bag, but her hands grabbed air instead. ‘Oh no!’ she cried, looking down at her cases in horror.

‘What’s wrong?’ Joy asked, leaning over the counter to see.

‘But I picked it up off the train, I’m sure I did,’ she said out loud, shaking her head. She had kept her handbag balanced on top of one of the wheelie cases so she didn’t have to carry it on her shoulder. ‘I can’t find my bag,’ she admitted to Joy.

‘Oh, dear, I’m sorry,’ Joy said, sympathetically.

Abbie checked around her again, a sinking feeling in her chest. ‘What am I going to do without it?’ she said. If living in London had taught her anything, it was to keep a tight hold of your belongings at all times. She’d have to cancel her cards immediately. Oh, God. Her phone was in there. She started to feel panicky at the thought of not having it with her. How would anyone get in contact with her?

‘Look, try not to worry. You’re in Littlewood now and everyone looks out for one another here. I’m sure someone will find your bag and deliver it back to you. Go and sit down and drink your latte; you’ve had a shock and you need your coffee.’

‘But I can’t pay for it,’ Abbie admitted, her cheeks turning pink. She had never lost her bag before. This week was just going from bad to worse.

‘Don’t be silly, it’s on us.’ Joy grabbed a brownie and put it on a plate. ‘This too.’

‘Oh, no, I couldn’t possibly accept . . .’

Joy waved off Abbie’s protests. ‘Sit down, I insist. You can pay next time, after you find your bag.’

Abbie wished she shared Joy’s faith that her bag would be found. She carried the brownie and latte over to her table, hoping Louise would hurry up and get there so she could use her phone to ring the bank.

The door to the café banged open, making Abbie turn with a start. ‘There you are,’ a woman cried, waving something at her. ‘I’ve been chasing you from the station.’ A little girl followed her inside the café; both of them were pulling suitcases. ‘Your bag fell off when you went through the barrier,’ she said, a distinct accent to her brisk tone, holding up what Abbie could now see was her lost handbag.

Abbie recognised her from the train carriage and breathed a huge sigh of relief. ‘Oh, wow, thank you so much,’ she said, amazed that the woman had followed her all the way to Brew to get it back to her. She took it from her. ‘I’m so grateful.’

The woman, who looked a similar age to Abbie’s twenty-eight years and had a sharp, blonde bob, smiled. ‘Of course. I would be so upset if I lost mine.’

‘See? I told you it would turn up,’ Joy called from the counter. ‘All’s well that ends well.’

‘It certainly wouldn’t have got back to me so quickly in London,’ Abbie said. She pulled out her purse. ‘And now I can pay you.’

‘No, this one is still on us,’ Joy said, firmly. ‘What would you like?’ she asked Abbie’s saviour just as a tall, round-bellied man came out of the kitchen with two plates of egg and cress sandwiches for an elderly couple sitting by the door. ‘This is my husband, Harry,’ Joy told them. ‘And I can see you’re new to Littlewood too,’ she added to the blonde woman who had seated her daughter with their bags at the next table to Abbie.

‘I’m Eszter. This is Zoe. We’ve just arrived in England from Hungary.’

‘Well, we hardly ever get any newcomers and now we have three! Coffee?’

Joy took Eszter’s order and brought her drinks to the table. She glanced at Abbie who was marvelling at how delicious her brownie was. ‘You look so familiar; have we met before?’

Abbie shook her head. ‘No, but my sister Louise lives here.’

‘Is that Louise Morgan?’ Joy asked, her eyes lighting up.

‘That’s right, yes.’

Harry came over and put his arm around his wife. ‘We know Louise well, lovely girl, she helped looked after me in hospital and started coming in here then. Drinks too much coffee for a nurse, though.’

Abbie smiled. ‘It runs in the family.’

‘So, you’re here to stay with Louise, and what about you?’ Joy asked Eszter.

‘We’re here to see family too. Well, sort of family, anyway.’ She sipped her coffee with a nervous look on her face. She glanced at her daughter, who had long, fair hair and the same sharp eyes as her mother. ‘It was a bit of a rush decision to come here. We don’t even know where we’re going to stay.’ She bit her lip, then smiled quickly when Zoe looked at her. Abbie suspected she was putting a brave face on things and was intrigued by their story.

‘I’m sure we can help with that,’ Joy said. Then she clapped her hands together. ‘And, Abbie, I just remembered, you must put Eszter’s kindness to you up on the board,’ she said, gesturing to the large chalkboard that hung across one wall. It was filled with chalk scribbles in various styles of handwriting and colours.

‘What’s that?’

‘This is our Kindness Board. If anyone has an act of kindness done to them, they write it up on the board. We started it this summer and it’s already filling up. Eszter finding your bag is definitely worthy of being up there,’ Joy said, going back around the counter to make Louise’s regular coffee for her arrival. She held out a piece of chalk to Abbie.

‘A Kindness Board?’ Abbie glanced at her, wondering if it was a joke, but Joy told her to go on up. Sensing everyone’s eyes on her, Abbie went to the board and looked at some of the entries already up there. Feeling like she was back in school, she added Eszter’s random act of kindness to the board.

My lost handbag was returned to me by Eszter. Thank you for your act of kindness!

She added a smiley face to it.

‘And now you’ll have to pay her act of kindness forward,’ Joy said from behind her.

‘Huh?’

‘In Littlewood, if someone is kind to you, you repay their act by being kind to someone yourself.’

Abbie stared at Joy, wondering if she had walked into some kind of cult. ‘That’s a thing?’

Joy laughed. ‘We are trying to make it “a thing”, yes. Ever since Harry was in hospital, and the whole town rallied around us and helped us keep Brew going, we have tried to be kind to the community when we can. Harry thought having a board in here would encourage others to do the same.’

‘Is it working?’ Abbie was sceptical. She was certain no one had ever been what she would call ‘kind’ to a stranger back in London.

‘You’ll have to come back and tell me if it works for you.’ Joy went to serve another customer and Abbie watched her go, wondering if she was really expected to pay Eszter’s kindness forward.

Was kindness something that could be sprinkled around as if it was confetti?

~~~~~

I really hope you enjoyed reading the extract.  You can buy ‘Random Acts of Kindness: Part One’ from:-

Amazon UK – http://amzn.to/2ivgEL2

iBooks – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/random-acts-of-kindness-part-1/id1275148057?mt=11

 

About Victoria Walters

Victoria Walters has always loved creating stories. Her first book was handwritten when she was sixteen years old, and was closely modelled on the Sweet Valley High series. Victoria studied sociology at Warwick University and has since worked for a business publisher and as a Waterstones bookseller. She lives in Surrey with her cat Harry (named after Harry Potter, not Harry Styles).

You can discover more about Victoria – and find pictures of Harry the cat – by following her on:

Twitter:  https://mobile.twitter.com/Vicky_Walters

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/vickyjwalters/

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

Blog:  https://victoria-writes.com/

 

Cover Reveal – ‘A Prosecco Christmas’ by Sylvia Ashby

This is the cover for Sylvia Ashby’s new book.  Isn’t it lovely!  ‘A Prosecco Christmas’ is the third book in the Pot Love series and here’s what it’s about.

 

Book Blurb

Family is where life begins.

And what better time to spend with your family than Christmas week?

Ashley and Giacomo go to Upper Swainswick, a postcard village ten minutes’ drive from Bath, to stay with Ashley’s mum and step-dad. It’s their last visit before the arrival of their first child.

But babies have a habit of being unpredictable.

So when Ashley goes into labour on Christmas Eve, three weeks ahead of schedule, it takes everyone by surprise.

She’s not ready! Her perfect Birth Plan is packed away in her hospital bag two hundred miles away, she has no going home outfit, and she has a live event planned on New Year’s Eve for her YouTube channel, The Sinking Chef. People have been signing up for it for weeks. She can’t possibly disappoint them on the last day of the year. What is she to do?

The tinsel gets even more tangled when Giacomo’s parents decide to fly from Italy to meet their first grandchild. Hotels are fully booked, so everyone has to stay under the same roof.

Would eleven people in the house, not counting the baby, turn out to be simply too much for Ashley?

~~~~~

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sylvia-Ashby/e/B00DK8M2NM/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1495186857&sr=8-1

 

About Sylvia Ashby

Sylvia Ashby is fond of the written word: books, blog posts, recipes, even an explanation to the HM Revenue & Customs as to why she thinks skirts should be exempt from VAT – she’s written it all!

She likes travelling and has lived all over Europe – London, Brussels, Amsterdam and Sofia, Bulgaria. Currently, she lives in Leuven, Belgium with her husband, daughter, son and a sparrow called Jack, who comes occasionally to peck the seeds she leaves for him on top of the garden shed.

 

Links

Blog – http://www.sylvia-ashby.com

Twitter – https://twitter.com/bysylvia_a

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

Amazon Author Page – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sylvia-Ashby/e/B00DK8M2NM/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1495186857&sr=8-1

 

Cover Reveal – ‘The Big Event’ by Anne John-Ligali

I am thrilled to be taking part in the cover reveal for ‘The Big Event’.  The first book in the Friendship Online Short Story series, it is being published as an eBook on the 30th November 2017.  I totally love the design of this cover and the colours are just gorgeous.

Anyway, I’m sure you all want to know what the book is about so read on.

 

Book Blurb

Constance Jeffries is excited when she gets the chance to meet up with virtual friends at a get-together in a London hotel. She’s been tweeting and messaging her lovely friends for years and feels they must be just as excited to finally meet her in person too.

Or so she hopes.

A short story about the importance of ‘real’ friendships and how it’s the little things that matter the most.

~~~~~

Like the sound of this book?  Well, you’re in luck then because you can pre-order it from Amazon UK.  Here is the link – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Big-Event-Gorgeous-Possibly-Friendships-ebook/dp/B076NMB2G6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1508756132&sr=8-1&keywords=anne+john-ligali

 

About Anne John-Ligali

Anne John-Ligali is a writer and the founder of Books and Authors UK, a popular website featuring author interviews and book reviews. She loves all things books: reading, writing, going to book events, and meeting other book lovers. She has written a series of short stories and is currently writing her first novel.

Anne has always loved stories and read many books as a child, including the entire Sweet Valley High and Caitlyn series. Her interest in writing fiction came years later, when she began writing for pleasure in 2007. Since then, Anne has been writing on and off and enjoys participating in writing groups. Twice in 2014, she won the monthly Novelicious Pintrest Prompt Fiction Competition.

When Anne is not writing, she is likely to be at soft play with her kids, taking long evening walks in Hyde Park, making green smoothies, window shopping, or having a pampering session at her local beauty salon (whenever she gets the chance). She can also be found watching box sets (albeit with a bit of shame at still having to catch up on Scandal, Grey’s, and Downton).

Originally from Peterborough, Anne now lives in London. After moving to London, she studied graphic design at the University of Arts and has held a number of IT administration jobs in the city. Anne continues writing and aspires to write more women’s fiction books, a non-fiction book and several children’s books.

 

Book/Author Links

Website – http://annejohnligali.com

Twitter – @AnneJohnLigali

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

Instagram – booksandauthorsuk

 

Book Blog Website – http://www.booksandauthors.co.uk

Twitter (Blog) – @BooksNAuthorsUK

Blog Facebook Page – http://www.facebook.com/booksandauthors

 

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

 

Guest Post by Dianne Noble

Dianne Noble’s new book, ‘Oppression’ was published as an eBook on the 14th June 2017 by Tirgearr Publishing.  The lovely Dianne is back on my blog with another wonderful guest post which I hope you all enjoy reading.

 

Oppression

The first time I saw Egypt I was seven years old and sitting on the deck of the troopship Dunera with my head buried in Enid Blyton’s Ring-o-Bells Mystery. I looked up as we docked in Port Said to see the gully gully man coming aboard. He was an Egyptian magician who fascinated everyone, young and old alike, and he accentuated the other world atmosphere of this exotic country. As we sailed down the Suez Canal – much narrower than I expected – Lawrence of Arabia figures seated on camels appeared on the desert banks. I can truly say Egypt was the first place interesting enough to get my head out of a book.

Three years later, in December 1957, the Canal had been closed and we flew back from Singapore in an RAF Hermes plane. The journey took almost three days, stopping in several countries to re-fuel and de-ice the wings. This time there were no hot and vibrant sights and I didn’t see Egypt again until I reached my early forties, when I travelled by train from Cairo to Aswan, glued to the windows as we passed by villages which looked like they’d come straight from the pages of the Bible. The Pyramids fascinated me, the River Nile, the Temple of Karnak at Luxor, the people, everything. My lifelong love affair with Egypt had begun and I’ve been back many times. The last time, I visited the City of the Dead in Cairo, a vast necropolis which features in Oppression and houses many poor people who would otherwise be on the streets.

This novel is the story of Beth who prevents the abduction of a young girl in a North Yorkshire town, but is powerless to stop her subsequent forced marriage. In time to come Beth travels to Egypt to search for the girl, Layla, and finds her living in the City of the Dead. Oppression is the tale of two very different women, both of whom are oppressed in their lives, and how they triumph despite the odds.

 

About Dianne Noble

I was born into a service family and brought up in Singapore in the 1950s, before it gained its independence, then Cyprus when the Turkish Navy sailed to the island for the first time to protect the interests of the Turkish Cypriots and we had to travel everywhere in a military convoy. I went on to marry a Civil Engineer and moved to the Arabian Gulf in the 1970s at the time of the construction boom. A hedonistic lifestyle with too much alcohol and partying which saw the demise of my, and many others’, marriages.

Since then, with sons grown and flown, I have continued to wander all over the world, keeping extensive journals of my experiences. Fifteen different schools and an employment history which includes The British Embassy Bahrain, radio presenter, café proprietor on Penzance seafront, and a goods picker in an Argos warehouse (complete with steel toe-capped boots) have resulted in rich seams to mine for inspiration.

I’ve always written, from editing the school magazine to short stories and letters to magazines, but it was only on retirement that I had the time for a novel. My writing is atmospheric, steeped in the smells, sights and sounds of exotic locations. I live – when not travelling – in a small, Leicestershire village. My favourite destinations – so far – have been India, Egypt and Russia, with Guatemala a close third.

 

Links

You can purchase ‘Oppression’ from:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B071KY8BJ8

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071KY8BJ8

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/721501

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/oppression/id1231926575?mt=1

https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/oppression-4

 

Website: www.dianneanoble.com

Twitter: @dianneanoble1

Facebook: facebook.com/dianneanoble

 

Cover Reveal – ‘Felicity at the Cross Hotel’ by Helena Fairfax

I am delighted to be revealing the cover for ‘Felicity at the Cross Hotel’ which is being published as an eBook on the 7th July 2017.  Isn’t it just gorgeous?  It’s so bright and summery.  Read on to find out what this book is about.  There is also an exclusive extract.

 

Book Blurb

A quaint hotel in a romantic landscape. The Lake District is the perfect getaway. Or is it?

Felicity Everdene needs a break from the family business. Driving through the Lake District to the Cross Hotel, past the shining lake and the mountains, everything seems perfect. But Felicity soon discovers all is not well at the Cross Hotel …

Patrick Cross left the village of Emmside years ago never intending to return, but his father has left him the family’s hotel in his will, and now he’s forced to come back. With a missing barmaid, a grumpy chef, and the hotel losing money, the arrival of Felicity Everdene from the notorious Everdene family only adds to Patrick’s troubles.

With so much to overcome, can Felicity and Patrick bring happiness to the Cross Hotel … and find happiness for themselves?

 

Extract

Chapter One

Fliss

At last it had stopped raining. Fliss lowered the window of her old car, letting in the smell of damp asphalt and sodden leaves. A faint whiff of burning mingled with the earthier odours, and she cast an anxious glance at the bonnet.

‘Don’t give up on me here, Agnetha,’ she pleaded. ‘This is no place to break down.’

For the past three miles as she’d climbed the steep incline out of the valley, Fliss hadn’t seen a soul. The village of Emmside, whose high street had provided her with the last latte of civilisation, now lay far below her. Here, high up on the fell, there was nothing but shadows and the dark, brooding branches of trees hanging over her head. It was enough to make a girl feel dismal.

Fliss, never one to remain downcast for long, switched on the radio to banish the silence, and soon the merry sound of her singing streamed down the hillside through her open window. She put the car into its lowest gear to round a sharp curve and slammed on the brakes.

‘Wow. Look at that. This was worth the climb.’

Agnetha, Fliss’s faithful car of many years’ travel, rumbled and spluttered in agreement. The road had surfaced above the trees and far below was Lake Emmswater, shimmering green and silver, like a scene from a fairy tale.

On an impulse, Fliss turned her car into a lay-by on the other side of the road, pulling up beside a dark four-by-four. There was a man standing by the dry stone wall that bounded the steep slope. He was gazing down at the lake, shoulders hunched, hands thrust deep in his jacket pockets. Apart from the light breeze ruffling his hair he could have been carved into the wall himself.

Fliss climbed out of her car and moved to stand beside him. The jagged mountains of the Lake District rose and fell in great dark peaks on the skyline, their sides flecked with splashes of bright, mossy green. Soft fields crept down into the valley, dotted with the fluffy white forms of sheep, and lying at the centre of it all was the gleaming lake.

Fliss took in a deep breath, letting the fresh air fill her lungs.  ‘What a magical place,’ she said to the man standing next to her. ‘All those gloomy trees – and now this.’

Her neighbour turned at the sound of her voice, moving slowly, as though surfacing from a dream. Fliss, who’d been too enthralled by the scene to pay him much attention, was taken aback to confront eyes as sombre as the trees behind them, and as cheerless. His complexion was browned by the sun, and his strong hands, which he’d removed from his pockets to rest on the wall, were weathered. Wherever he’d spent the past few years, it wasn’t under these leaden skies. Something about his bearing made Fliss think of the sea. It was as though here, on dry land, he was lost and out of his element.

Fliss wasn’t often given to fanciful thoughts. If you see someone without a smile, give them one of your own. It worked for Dolly Parton, and so Fliss smiled. The stranger blinked at the full wattage of her beam.

 

About Helena Fairfax


Helena Fairfax is a British author who was born in Uganda and came to England as a child. She’s grown used to the cold now which is just as well, since these days she lives in an old Victorian mill town in the north of England, right next door to the windswept Yorkshire moors. Helena walks this romantic landscape every day with her rescue dog, finding it the perfect place to dream up her heroes and her happy endings. Subscribers to Helena’s newsletter receive news of free stuff, competitions with prizes, gossip, and links to cool websites she’s been looking at when she should have been writing.

 

Links

You can pre-order ‘Felicity at the Cross Hotel’ here – http://mybook.to/FelicityCH

Social Media Links:-

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bRQtsT

Website: www.helenafairfax.com

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

Twitter https://twitter.com/HelenaFairfax

Pinterest https://uk.pinterest.com/helenafairfax/

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/helenafairfax/

 

The gorgeous cover was designed by Rachel Lawston of Lawston Design http://www.lawstondesign.com/

 

Cover Reveal – ‘Pot Love: Books 1 and 2’ by Sylvia Ashby

I’m thrilled to be taking part in this cover reveal.  Today I have not just one but two covers to share, both of which are absolutely gorgeous.  Here’s more information about ‘Pot Love’.

 

Book Blurb

Ashley Burkе is your average next-door girl. She lives with her boyfriend, loves her work and secretly fancies her boss.

When Ashley loses it all through no fault of her own, well, apart from snogging her boss and getting caught by his fiancée, she needs to act fast to find a new job. A lucrative vacancy comes her way – a spot on a popular day-time TV – but there is a catch. It’s a cookery spot and Ashley can’t cook to save her life.

 

PRAISES FOR POT LOVE

“I feel like exploding with how much I love this book. I almost didn’t want to read the last few chapters because I wasn’t ready for it to be over. I feel like I made a new best friend and visited England, without ever leaving my house.

If this book were a movie, it would be the biggest romantic comedy of the next five years, and I’d be first in line to pay my $10 for a ticket and $20 worth of popcorn and soda.”

BestChickLit.com
“Like a late night, post-pub cheeseboard or the final few drops of Rosé, it will prove mighty hard to resist.”

“Great characters, interesting plot line and wonderful writing bringing it all together! Well worth the read. Kind of hoping for a sequel.”

 

‘Pot Love’ is available to buy from Amazon.com – https://www.amazon.com/Pot-Love-Sylvia-Ashby-ebook/dp/B00DJB79EW

 

Feast your eyes on the second cover.  Those cupcakes look delicious don’t they!

 

Book Blurb

Ashley has a YouTube channel, The Sinking Chef. It’s filmed right in her kitchen, so she doesn’t go out much. When James calls with an offer to take her to lunch – the same James that got her fired from her dream job three years ago – she accepts. Against her better judgement, of course.

Now Ashley has all kinds of secrets and things are only going to get worse.

The Sinking Chef (Pot Love 2) is a light, enjoyable and easy to read romantic comedy. With Sylvia Ashby’s gift of humour there is plenty to laugh and smile about, but the book does have its serious moments.

 

PRAISES FOR POT LOVE

“Oh wow – what a fabulous ending!  I actually had tears pricking my eyes.  I’m so happy for Ashley.  After all she’s been through in the course of the book, all the problems and insecurities… the ending was just perfect.”

Heather Belleguelle

Captivating read!! I found myself charmed by Ashley- all her flaws and insecurities kept me reading page after page.”

Celeste Rogers

 

‘Pot Love 2: The Sinking Chef’ is available from Amazon.com – https://www.amazon.com/Sinking-Chef-Pot-Love-Book-ebook/dp/B06ZYGMPLB

 

About Sylvia Ashby

Three random facts about me

I graduated university with a Graphic Design degree and spent my twenties working in advertising. Never did it occur to me that my degree would come in handy when I start publishing books.

In my early thirties, I was a shop owner. I owned four shops, one of which was in St. Christopher’s Place London W1. I was doing everything from buying the collections to submitting monthly PAYS. It was madness. I’m so glad the economy crashed in 2008 and I had to give up retail.

Then I started writing. It felt like the first conscious decision I’ve ever made in my life. I felt a sense of belonging. The thought “I could be doing this for the rest of my life” didn’t scare me half to death. Four years and four books later I still feel the same way. This is love, home and vocation wrapped in one.

My first book, Pot Love, was about food and love. My second, The Treachery of Trains, is about finding love in unlikely places. The third book I wrote is actually Pot Love‘s second instalment. It’s called The Sinking Chef (Pot Love Book 2) and in it my eponymous heroine Ashley is in even bigger trouble then she was in Pot Love. The two books are standalone and you don’t have to read them in order. My fourth is The Official Pot Love Series Cookbook and you can get it completely FREE.

Currently, I live in Leuven, Belgium with my family.

 

Links

Twitter @bysylvia_a

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

Amazon author page https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sylvia-Ashby/e/B00DK8M2NM

 

Interview with Patrick Garratt

It’s time for another interview now.  Patrick Garratt’s debut novel, ‘Deg’ was published last year and I asked him all about it.

 

Can you tell me a bit about your book, ‘Deg’ please?

Deg is screen culture paranoia, anarchic politics and drug exploration written in an automatic, surrealist style. I wrote it in a fit of desperation I doubt I could ever replicate. The diary element to its method set the form of my further books, but it now seems that opinion and inspiration based on imaginary input will alway be subservient to reportage for me. Deg was likely a once in a lifetime event.

 

Is this a book you’ve always wanted to write?

In a way, I suppose. I’d been working on another novel called The Ooning, which I eventually canned after two rewrites, and was spending a lot of time reading twentieth century postmodernism. That these authors could write as they pleased, with little thought for the traditional notion of readability, was revelatory. In that sense I’d always wanted to write Deg. I was just ignorant of the fact.

 

Where did you get your ideas for it from?

Deg is my life story, a psychedelic diary. Thematically it’s a product of my family’s environment at the time of writing. Roughly three years before I wrote Deg we’d emigrated from the UK to Corrèze, a rural department in the Limousin region of southwest France. My wife and I lived in a huge house surrounded by forests with our three small children. Corrèze is so sparsely populated that it’s possible to get back to nature in a way I didn’t realise still existed in western Europe, and I allowed myself to start using cannabis again after a long abstinence from any drugs at all, including alcohol. The result was explosive. I just let it come out.

 

How long did it take you to write?

I wrote the first draft in around three months. It was a little like vomiting.

 

Do you see yourself in any of your characters?

Absolutely, yeah. As I said, it’s a thinly-veiled diary.

 

What was the publication process like for you?

A little bizarre, but ultimately amazing. I tried to get Deg published via the traditional route of finding an agent, but, unsurprisingly, it got rejected everywhere. I’d moved onto writing the next book, and had given up reasonable hope of seeing Deg published at all. On the advice of a friend I approached video game artist Ste Pickford to draw the cover as a precursor to self-publication, and he liked it so much he decided to illustrate every chapter. I saw Matthew Smith, Urbane’s boss, requesting book pitches on Twitter, and he showed immediate interest.

From then the process was incredibly relaxed. Matthew is eminently professional and I couldn’t be happier with the result. The hardback really is a thing of beauty, from the physical materials to the reproduction of Ste’s drawings, and that’s all I could have hoped for. Being published by Urbane was a great experience.

 

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

Jeepers. So much of this depends on your goals. Many people approach writing as a career, as a job. There’s a financial element to it, as in they want to make money from novels. They attend seminars and buy places on courses and do degrees in creative writing and whatever else, eventually (hopefully) becoming trained in the creation of commercial fiction. If that’s what you want, then off you go. There’s an entire coaching industry waiting for your cash.

I always wanted to be a literary author, meaning the route to success is far muddier. The truth is that if you “want to be a writer” then you must write. Write anything, everything, in any way you want, but you must be productive. Embrace your fear and write your brain, not someone else’s. Don’t worry about making money or getting published or getting an agent. Just be as good as you can be, and that means a constant striving for personal betterment, for self-tuition and the overcoming of internal struggle. If you want to create art then learn art. Allowing yourself to be the person you want to be, to be you, could well be the hardest thing you ever do, but you’ll only reach your core by remorselessly breaching personal barriers. Stop giving a shit about the opinions of others. You won’t be recognised for replication.

To give an example. While I was working on the book following Deg, I lapsed into quite a serious period of self-doubt (yes, this is normal: few people are more pitiable than unpublished novelists), and signed myself up for a distance learning course in novel-writing. After I’d completed the first lesson, part of which was to outline my goals as a writer, the tutor told me I would never secure an agent or a deal if my work wasn’t “accessible”. Urbane signed Deg the following week. I never got round to lesson two.

 

Are you working on any other writing projects?

It never stops. I’ve written two full novels since Deg and I’m about to start another.

 

Have any authors influenced your work and if so, who?

The more experimental twentieth century postmodernists, such as Gaddis, Burroughs, Ballard, Acker and Pynchon, have heavily influenced me. Ballard’s The Atrocity Exhibition (it’s noteworthy as I read it just before starting writing Deg) showed me how strange fiction could be, that writing could be powerful as a result of being simultaneously formless and structured. It had a strong impact on my work.

I’m starting to read more theatre and poetry. Fiona, my wife, just passed a Masters in translation studies (with distinction, I should add: I’m very proud to be married to a genius), and she focused on Peter Weiss’s Holocaust play The Investigation for her dissertation. This type of experimental form is currently interesting me as I’ve been fixated with novel-length fiction up to now. I’ve also just finished a collection of Daniil Kharms’s poems and plays, something completely different from my usual reading. Some of his pieces are so beautiful, so insightful. It’s hard to not be influenced by him.

 

How long have you been a journalist for?

Forever. I started working as a video gaming journalist in 1998.

 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

We now live in the Vosges, a mountain region in the northeast of France, so I’m able to ski when there’s snow and go mountain biking when there isn’t. I work out a lot. Travelling is becoming a lot more important to me, and, obviously, I love to read.

 

If you were only allowed to own two books what would they be?

Probably Infinite Jest and Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson. Ibbotson’s my children’s’ favourite author, so it’d always remind me of when they were young. I’d take Infinite Jest because I still haven’t read the endnotes. I’m such a fraud.

 

Links

‘Deg’ is available to buy from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/deg/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Deg-Patrick-Garratt/dp/1911129481/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1489694327&sr=1-1

Patrick Garratt’s Personal Website – https://patrickgarratt.com/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/patlike

Deg Illustrator Ste Pickford’s Instagram account – https://www.instagram.com/stepickford/

Interview with PJ Whiteley

I am delighted to have PJ Whiteley back on my blog.  His new book, ‘Marching on Together’ was published last month and I asked him all about it.

 

As you know I thoroughly enjoyed reading ‘Marching on Together’ when it was a work in progress.  For the benefit of my readers can you tell me a bit about it please?

Thanks Sonya. Marching on Together is about belonging, family and memory, with a hint of romance. A short description would be: ‘Last Orders meets Fever Pitch’. It follows six Leeds United supporters, two of them brothers, on a sojourn to Bruges and the Flanders battlefields in August 2014, for the centenary of the start of the First World War. Yvonne, a central character, has cause to reflect on how a sporting controversy from 1975 continues to haunt her. She was caught up in some post-match violence after a major final, then a transport strike; the combination knocked her young life off course, for reasons that become clearer as you read the book. At the age of 56 in 2014, she has the opportunity to reflect, but also, finally, to move on.

 

Where do you get your ideas from?

I love to combine depth and humour, and to have characters reflect on the most profound matters in quite mundane settings. Other writers can do war, murder and tragedy; I’m more fascinated by how a seemingly small turn of events can alter our life course, and even how we view the world, a bit like in the movie Sliding Doors. Sport and a sense of identity and belonging are also fascinating themes for me.

 

Are you a sports fan?

Yes, and I like to explore the comedy and tension that can lie when one person is devoted to a sport and their significant other is not! In Marching on Together I invert the stereotype because Yvonne is the obsessive football watcher and her husband becomes disenchanted, and feels left out. In Bruges, she has a bit of an argument with a German football fan, but then discovers he loves the band Genesis, and they bond over that. Plus, she fancies him.

 

What do you hope readers will get from ‘Marching on Together’?

I’ve had some very positive feedback, and strong start to sales; I think people engage with the characters. There’s drama in the fine line that can separate good and bad fortune in life – whether it’s on the football field or in your love life.

 

What would you do if one of your characters knocked on your door?

They wouldn’t dare: I know too much about them 😉

 

Can we look forward to more books from you?

Yes. I will write books for as long as I’m breathing. The third novel is called The Rooms We Never Enter, and it’s a spin-off from Marching on Together; it’s a romance, and there’s only a little sport this time!

 

Can you describe Urbane Publications in twenty words?

Urbane Publications is an innovative, independent publisher that dares to publish original voices and empowers authors. It deserves success.

 

How has social media helped you?

Facebook and Twitter are essential for an author, when you don’t have a huge publicity budget. You can build a readership, and engage with existing readers.

 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given about writing?

From my first magazine editor Roy (can’t remember his surname), in 1988: ‘Tell such a strong story, in such an elegant style, that the reader doesn’t notice it’s written; they’re just caught up in the narrative.’

 

If you had a second chance at life would you still write books?

Yes, and I would start at a younger age.

 

Who are your favourite authors?

I love a lot of the greats: Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Mario Vargas Llosa, Charlotte Bronte, Charles Dickens. I’d like to give special mention to two very underrated post-war British authors: David Lodge and David Nobbs, whom I’ve sought to emulate in combining humour and depth. Javier Marias is an astounding author, so is Donna Tartt and Louis de Bernieres.

 

If you were only allowed one book on your bookcase what would it be?

La Peste, by Albert Camus, still the finest novel I’ve ever read: poetic, beautiful, bleak in its description of the harshness of fate, yet heart-warming in its portrayal of human friendship, funny and astonishingly profound, philosophically and politically.

 

 

Links

‘Marching on Together’ is available to buy from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/marching-on-together/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Marching-Together-P-J-Whiteley/dp/1911129333/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1489606690&sr=1-1

‘Close of Play’ is available to buy from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/close-of-play/

Amazon UK – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Close-Play-Philip-Whiteley-ebook/dp/B01080YEAI/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1458070338&sr=1-1&keywords=close+of+play

Website – http://www.whiteleywords.com/

Blog – http://felipewh.wordpress.com/

Twitter – @Felipewh

Guest Post by Rose McGinty

Rose McGinty’s debut novel, ‘Electric Souk’ is out on the 23rd March.  I am absolutely thrilled to have Rose on my blog today with a guest post.

 

Electric Souk by Rose McGinty

This is my first piece about Electric Souk for a blog review and I am delighted it is for Sonya’s site as her love of reading shines from the screen and she is such a supporter of new writers. Sonya asked me what inspired my story and to say something of my travels. I really enjoyed thinking back to my time in the desert and I hope you enjoy a glimpse into that world too.

Electric Souk started out as a letter home – from the desert. I had taken a job in the health service in the Middle East.  The day started early and finished by 1pm.  Now, I had always craved living in a culture where you could while away the afternoon in dreams. But I was somewhere that so saturated the senses that sleep was impossible. So while the desert afternoon was still I wrote a diary and long letters home, based on  my entries.

My letters at first documented nights in the shisha-smoky souk, or the bizarre scraps I found myself in as a lone, white, western woman. Such as the time when I had a meeting with the Director of the ambulance service and was given the typically hazy desert directions of ‘Go to the hospital and her office is next to the line-up of ambulances.’ I found a line-up of ambulances at the A and E.  I had my doubts and the receptionist quickly put me right.  The ambulance station was on the other side of the hospital complex.

‘Shukran,’ I called to her as I turned to walk back out. The receptionist and three porters bore down on me, ‘Lady! Lady! Where are you going?’ I was heading to the ambulance station.  ‘Are you crazee?’ It was at most a ten minute walk, admittedly in forty degree heat and humidity like a wet velvet towel.

There wasn’t a hope I was going to be allowed to walk there. I was going to be late. I didn’t have time to call and wait for a taxi. Taxis were almost as mythical as magic carpets. If you did manage to persuade a taxi to come and pick you up, you were in for a minimum hour wait in a city where the roads were permanently grid locked with Land Cruisers, and mostly the taxis never turned up.

I could walk I insisted, trying again to exit, managing to get half a foot over the threshold. I should have known better. Within seconds everyone in the A and E was shrieking at me. Step forward my hero in a green boiler suit.  Sami was a paramedic and he was heading over to the ambulance station. He would give me a lift. I was so grateful it didn’t click immediately that within the next minutes I would find myself hurtling downtown, the opposite direction to the station, in an ambulance.

Sami explained that the hospital enforced a strict one way system, which meant that whenever the ambulances needed to return to base they had to detour downtown. I gulped, fished out my mobile and rang my office to ask them to let the ambulance Director know I was going to be late.  A trip downtown meant a good hour in the snarling traffic, at least. As I explained my predicament on the phone, that I had got a lift but was stuck in traffic, carefully neglecting to mention I was in the back of an ambulance, I felt a sharp lurch.  Sami had stamped on the accelerator. The undeniable wail of the siren somewhat gave away my mode of transportation. I got to my meeting pretty much on time, Arabic time, but I never heard the end of it back at the office.

As the weeks turned to months my initial thrill of being somewhere so completely unfamiliar and disorienting wore off, and my diaries and letters became my life line.  The ripples of recession in Europe and America lapped at the edge of the desert. Gas and oil prices plunged deep. Threats of purging ex pats from government jobs intensified.  Suspicion about foreigners spread. The champagne brunches at seven star hotels lost a touch of their wild abandon. Was it time to cut and run? Would there be a coup? What was the truth about the rumours of a power struggle at the palace? The locals were whispering about it and after all power never transferred without bloodshed out here. You just can’t sweep away the desert, however many times a day you take a broom to the piles of sticky, red sand that insinuated through every tiny crevice.

Why did our mobile phones click, when they never did that at home? Who was the man now sitting on a stool outside my office every day? Who had been in my apartment, gone through my things yet not taken anything, just moved everything by an inch, and left the door open and a stubbed out cigarette – to let me know? And that night, that pitch, blistering night out in the desert – what really happened then?

Back home, free from the sand djinn, they still scorched my dreams. The only way I knew how to deal with them was to write. I took up my letters and diaries and pulled out morsels, popped them in the mouths of the characters that haunted my night terrors and Souk spoke as I put my pen to the page.

If you enjoyed this piece, you can read more about the moments that formed a backdrop to Electric Souk at my blog http://rosemcginty.wordpress.com

 

Links

‘Electric Souk’ is available from Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/electric-souk/

It can be pre-ordered from Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Electric-Souk-Rose-McGinty/dp/1911129821/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1489520881&sr=1-1

Twitter – @rosemcginty

 

Extract from ‘The Cursing Stone’ by Adrian Harvey

I hope you all enjoyed Adrian Harvey’s guest post.  I now have an extract from ‘The Cursing Stone’ for you to read.

 

Book Blurb

From the Small Isles to the big city, The Cursing Stone charts the perils of finding what you’re looking for.

‘Oh come now, Mr Buchanan. When one goes out into the world, one always ends up smelling of something or other.’

Fergus Buchanan has led a charmed life: a doting family, a loving sweetheart and the respect of his neighbours. All is as it should be and nothing stands between him and the limitless happiness that is his destiny. But then he is sent from his remote island to retrieve the cursing stone, and his adventures in the wild world beyond cause him to question everything he thought he knew. Succeed or fail, nothing will be the same again.

This modern quest is a story of courage, duty and revenge, of family ties and loves lost and found, of dragons and postcodes.

 

Extract

Extract from ‘The Cursing Stone’

 

Guest Post by Adrian Harvey

I am thrilled to welcome Adrian Harvey back to my blog.  I loved his first book, ‘Being Someone’ and am really looking forward to reading ‘The Cursing Stone’ which was published last year.  Adrian has written a guest post for this event.

 

Writing myself

It was my own fault. I had decided to write my first novel in the first person, so I should not have been surprised when family and friends started to ask pointed questions. You see, the protagonist of Being Someone was not written sympathetically: he is not someone men should aspire to be. And yet, when my brother described the book as ‘brave’, I didn’t quite get his point.

Things started to dawn on me when a friend’s friend apparently told her that she wasn’t sure that she would like me as a person if she were to meet me. When my mother said that she was disappointed in me, I began a short but intense period of denial. James is not me, I would tell anyone who paused long enough to hear it.

Fiction is not autobiography, of course, and even when authors write about what they know, their novels are not transcriptions of their lives. And yet some readers wanted only to uncover the ‘me’ that they assumed was woven into the text.

There is plenty of ‘me’ in Being Someone, of course, but that ‘me’ is not contained in a single character, but spread across everyone that appears within the book, not just the narrator/protagonist. My second novel, The Cursing Stone, is written in the third person, but there is still plenty of ‘me’ in that too, again contained within a set of diverse characters who are nothing like me, except in the very important regard that they are human. How could it be otherwise? The only perspective I have is my own; the only loves, fears, and doubts I have ever felt are mine. Other people can only ever be seen through that lens.

Because making characters means drawing on yourself but also on what you observe in others: the raw material, especially for the fine grain, the patina, is everyone you’ve ever met. When you’re writing a novel about human relationships (aren’t they all?) and you’re perpetually hungry for ever more granularity, every conversation – those you participate in, those you overhear – is legitimate source material. Every haircut, every nose, every pair of shoes or nervous laugh is fair game. A writer observes, for sure; but more than that, a writer listens. If you can’t hear it authentically as you write it – the words and the cadence – then nor will the reader when they read it.

This I knew. Then I started to notice that I was actively mining conversations, exchanges, and interactions for material. Not just observing, noting, what was going on, but mentally writing it into my novel as the exchange was happening. And if the conversation didn’t fully meet the needs of the character or plot, I found myself steering it in ways that would. I stopped doing that, of course, for my own sake as much as my friends: it felt like stealing, but moreover I was disturbed by the idea of fictionalising my life, of turning my relationships into the components of a novel.

Sometimes even observing feels like stealing. But mostly I know it is simply the only way to draw a believable character who will carry the attention of a reader, and behave with sufficient authenticity to make solid the make-believe of my narrative. So while I was not brought up on a remote Scottish island, I was once 20 years old (although not for a very long time) and there is enough of me – and of you – in Fergus Buchanan to make his quest for the cursing stone worth following.

 

Links

‘The Cursing Stone’ is available to buy from:-

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

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cursing-Stone-Adrian-Harvey/dp/191112918X/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1489317079&sr=1-1

‘Being Someone’ is available to buy from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/being-someone/

Amazon – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Being-Someone-Adrian-Harvey/dp/1909273090/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1451575323&sr=1-1&keywords=being+someone

Interview with Simon Wan

I’m delighted to welcome Simon Wan to my blog.  His debut novel, ‘Love and a Dozen Potatoes’ was published last year.  Below is my interview with Simon.

 

I absolutely love the title of your book. Can you tell me a bit about ‘Love and a Dozen Roast Potatoes’?

It’s about love, addiction and obsession, and how all of these three things can very easily get muddled. I also like to think that it can serve as both a warning and encouragement to people who read it. We do foolish and brave things when we’re falling in love, but we do terrible and hurtful things when we are forced to look in the mirror when it all falls apart, and this is normal. Even in the depths of despair there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes it’s a tiny flicker, often its a firework. A cautionary tale, a fairy tale, maybe a little bit of both.

 

How did you come up with this wonderful title?

In my family, and I guess in many other large families we only get to spend time together at Easter, Birthdays, Christmas and so on, and these times usually come with a roast dinner. We all love to cook as much as we love to eat so every meal there’s usually heated discussion on who makes the perfect roast potato. Which made me think my search for the perfect partner in life was just the same, I was looking for perfection, even though perfection isn’t real. The dozen came from counting how many times I’d fallen in love and it just clicked.

 

Did events in your own life make you decide to write this book?

I had always wanted to write a book and with my 40th birthday crashing towards me I only had about 3 months from making that decision. I did start writing a sci-fi opus but soon realised that time was running out. So, one night in my old flat in south London while eating a homemade pie with my house mate Tony I mentioned that I was going to struggle to finish the sci-fi book in time. His simple reply was, ‘Just write what you know mate’. I thought about it for a few mouthfuls and replied ‘All I know is falling in love with the wrong women…’ And there it was.

 

What do you hope readers will get out of it?

I want people to know it’s okay to completely lose yourself in another person and open themselves to being hurt, because you will. It will hurt and sting and make you feel rotten, but, and but but but but there will always be someone else if you just let go. Someone else will walk into your life when you least expect it. I want readers to know it’s okay to take risks and it’s okay to fall flat on your face. I want people to know it’s okay to be happy with who you’re with and not secretly be searching for that special perfect prince or princess who only exists in your mind.

 

Would you like to see your book made into a film and if so, who would you choose as the cast?

As an actor, I’d be foolish to say I wouldn’t want to play myself in the later years plus my agent Tom would tell me off. For an American remake, Joseph Gordon Levitt would be a good pick for my late 20’s early 30’s. It would be a gold mine for female casting as there are 12 featured female lead roles. Oohh, actually I’m gunna cast a few loves right now…

Lily Rose Depp as the Girl who Looked French
Jenna Louise Coleman as the girl with the perfect smile
Shakira as the Sunshine Stripper
Rose Byrne as the Ballerina

And that will do for now, or people will start recognising themselves!

 

What are you working on at the moment?

I’ve just finished the sequel to Love and a Dozen, which is called ‘Life and a Dozen Months till Meltdown’ and it follows on almost right away from the first book. I have a few things in the pipeline, or up in the air, depending on what day it is. I’m developing book one into a TV series with my directing partner Robin Schmidt and we’re also waiting on a pitch for Creative England which, if successful will allow us to start production of our first feature film together. I had a week away from the keyboard when I finished book two, but have spent the past few days cracking on with screen plays which have been nipping at my heels now for the last few months.

 

What has the publication process been like for you?

I’m probably going to piss people off here, but it’s been really good. Matthew Smith (Urbane Publications) has made the whole process really easy and I trust him. He took a punt on me and for that I’ll always be grateful. The only negative things I had to get used to was the pace of the industry and having to faff around with the artwork because of a major retailer, proving that they actually do judge a book by its cover. Other than that it’s all pretty new to me so I’m just taking it how it comes.

 

I just have to ask you this. I saw a quote by Limahl in your book. Oh how I love his songs! Do you know him for real?

Yeah, Limahl and I go way back to the days I was in a pop act. He was part of our team and as we were riding the electro 80’s vibe we thought it was cool to have him on board. The reality of it was that he’d spend most of the days in the studio talking about when he went to dinner with Diana Ross or a million other celebrity encounters rather than helping us come up with hooks and melodies. Bless him. I remember one night we all drove to a studio in Bedfordshire because Kajagoogoo had finally made up after decades of money disputes and bad vibes and I’d convinced Limahl to let me film it. They played ‘Too Shy’ and ‘Never Ending Story’ just for us and as cheesy as it was, it was also amazing.

 

Do you really write just wearing a towel?

Yes of course! Although I have been double dressing gowning lately which is decadent. I don’t like writing fully dressed, it doesn’t feel right somehow. If I do find myself having to write in an office I’ll secretly take my shoes off.

 

Have any authors influenced your work?

I’m going to have to say Douglas Adams for comedy and pace, Antony Burgess for his melody and brutality, Bukowski for his honesty and exploration of the mundane.

 

What do you like to do in your spare time, apart from wearing towels that is?

Since moving up to Leeds, I spend any free time at my little brothers gym doing gymnastic ring work and martial arts tricking, it’s great fun and keeps you fit especially after being hunched over a laptop for so many hours. I do love to cook, mainly because I love to eat so much. When the suns out and it’s dry I skateboard. I’ll be a skater till the day I die. In fact, my dream would be to listen to ‘A hitch hikers guide to the galaxy’ on headphones while I skate down a hill wearing my towel eating a pork bun. I’m going to probably do that. I’ll send you the video when it gets sunnier.

 

Describe your life in three words.

Passionate, Foolish, Lucky.

 

Links

Amazon book link – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Love-Dozen-Roast-Potatoes-Simon/dp/1910692905

Urbane Author Link – https://urbanepublications.com/book_author/simon-wan/

Actor show reel

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZC-xTlmiBig

Music link (Fearnes show)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plPgTyGL6Ms&t=35s

Super Massive Sizzle

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jevwuWsRPWQ

BOOK PROMO link 1

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jc1JZwJ6NkU

When I went to WHSmiths and saw my book for the first time on the shelves and signed them for random people so they had to buy it 🙂

https://www.facebook.com/loveandadozenroastpotatoes/videos/145482772539166/

Guest Post by Jared A. Carnie

The lovely Jared A. Carnie has written a guest post especially for this event.  His debut novel, ‘Waves’ was published in September last year and has been getting some really good reviews.

 

Island Inspiration

Waves, my recent novel, is set on the Isle of Lewis, where I used to live. Frankly, I find it amazing that anyone could live in the Outer Hebrides and not write a book set there. It’s hard to get across what a wonderful and unique place it is.

Here’s an example:

I was working for Western Isles Council doing admin work (the council is one of the only places up there for unskilled office workers to get a job). It was a Friday afternoon and I was nearly done for the day. I got a text from my friend Callum. It said do you fancy going out to Horgabost tonight? We can camp out. I’ll pick you up after work.

Horgabost is a beautiful, isolated campsite down on the Isle of Harris, which is actually the same bit of land as the Isle of Lewis. I know that’s confusing. I got told it’s like that because hundreds of years ago, when these places got named, the mountains in the middle of the two isles made it impossible to get from one to the other through any route except by boat, so they were in effect two separate isles, despite being connected by land. Today, they still have their separate names despite the fact that you can drive straight from Lewis to Harris. And if you’re ever up there, I recommend you do, as it’s an incredibly beautiful stretch.

Anyway, I told Callum I’d love to go camping and would see him in a bit. So, at half past four (because it’s an island and nobody has to work late) Callum picked me up outside work. We drove down to Horgabost, passing the sheep in the road, passing the glassy lochs reflecting the sky.

When we got there, unsurprisingly, we were the only people at this giant, white, impossibly clean, beach. Callum and I set up the tent ready for the evening. By the time we were done, a few of Callum’s other friends had started to arrive. One of them had brought some fireworks for later. He said he’d called the coastguard, and warned them that we would be setting off fireworks around 10pm, so that was when we would have to use them.

Callum had brought some burgers and after an hour or two of sitting around drinking we got a fire going to cook some of the meat. At that point, as it was starting to get dark, Mike arrived. I’d not met Mike before. Mike was just back from being out on his boat, and he’d brought some lobster he’d just caught with him. Now, I’d never had lobster before. So, this ended up being the way I had lobster for the first time: with six people, alone, on a vast, mediterranean-looking beach, by a roaring fire, with our own, private fireworks display.

And it was all pretty much free. And just down the road from my house. And at 3pm that day I’d expected to just be spending the evening at home watching TV. That’s the magic of the island. Things like that would happen all the time. My girlfriend and I would text each other at lunch sometimes and suggest a bit of the island we wanted to head to after work. We’d head out and find ourselves alone on other beautiful beaches or seeing whales off the top of the island or stumbling across deer on walks or eagles in the sky. Things people would pay thousands of pounds to do were just down the road for us. And that’s why, when people ask why I decided to write a novel set on the Isle of Lewis, I can’t help but think how could I not?

 

Links

‘Waves’ is available to purchase from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/waves/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Waves-little-book-beauty-escapism-ebook/dp/B01KP84V5G/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1488655553&sr=1-1&keywords=waves+by+jared+carnie

Jared A. Carnie’s website – http://www.jaredacarnie.com/

Twitter – @jacarnie

 

Interview with Mark Mayes

mark-mayes

I am delighted to have Mark Mayes on my blog for this event.  His debut novel, ‘The Gift Maker’ was published last month and it is getting a lot of positive reviews.  Mark very kindly answered my questions.

 

I’ve heard so many good things about your book, ‘The Gift Maker’.  Can you tell me a bit about it please?

Thank you so much, Sonya, for inviting me onto your wonderful book blog to talk about The Gift Maker, and about writing more generally. I appreciate this opportunity so much. Well, The Gift Maker is a debut novel, and I would say it straddles several genres, in that it has some fantastical or magic realist elements, but it also might be considered a literary novel ( I hope). It comprises a quest, or rather several interlocking quests, undertaken by several characters. In addition, a romantic theme runs through the narrative. So, quite a mixture, I’d say. I’ve been overjoyed with the reception thus far, and very glad that readers have not found the blend of elements confusing or overwhelming.

I won’t recap the blurb here, but will say that themes of identity and the exploration of the purpose of an individual life figure strongly in this story. The theme of personal responsibility also comes up; as does that of how much we should be for ourselves in life, fulfilling our own needs, contrasted with how much we ought to be for others, and the concomitant requirement to adapt to a shared world.

The three young people in this novel, Thomas, Liselotte, and Jo, each of whom are given a gift by the eponymous gift maker, Daumen, have important discoveries to make about themselves, and their resolve and sense of honour are very much tested. There is a maxim that character is revealed under pressure, and this application of pressure is what I attempt to bring to bear throughout the story, so to enable the said characters to question themselves, and (hopefully) overcome obstacles, leading to personal ‘growth’, or possibly even moments of enlightenment.

Both fairy tale and mythical tropes play a part in The Gift Maker, and as these are ancient forms of storytelling, I hope some of the symbolism employed may resonate with readers on a subconscious level. Lastly, for some light relief, I have attempted to leaven some of the scenes with humour, albeit somewhat of a dark(ish) nature.

 

I absolutely adore the cover.  Did you decide what you wanted it to look like?

The cover was really down to Matthew Smith, founder and owner of independent publisher Urbane Publications. Matthew very kindly gave me a selection of cover ideas to look at, and as soon as I saw the open hands and the butterfly, I knew this would make an excellent cover. I love the muted colours and overall texture of the image. Moreover, it expresses a dichotomy of action – are the hands releasing the butterfly, or are they seeking to trap it? This mirrors nicely some of the themes/motifs that are laced throughout the narrative.

 

Where did you get your ideas from for this book?

When I began it, I didn’t know I was writing a novel. I assumed I was writing another short story, as I’ve been writing stories for quite a while now. All I had was the simple idea of a man in bed being woken in the night by a knock at the door. It might seem a bit vague, but from there I just followed my nose, as it were, and gave my imagination free rein. The characters seemed to appear, as did the setting, bit by bit, and before I knew it I’d gone beyond the traditional length of a long short story (i.e. beyond eight thousand words, say), and thought, Oh, goodness, this could be a novella, or even a novel. I don’t really know where ideas come from, or at least the kind of ideas that might be apparent in this novel – perhaps they have an amalgam of sources – memory, imagination, dream, other stories, the collective unconscious, and some mysterious element, guiding you, for some reason that cannot be discerned.

 

How long did it take you to write?

About two years, including drafting and editing, although there were some gaps during that period due to various life events and situations, and working other jobs. Often, the editing stage can take quite a long time, but that’s all to the good, I feel.

 

What would you do if you met any of the characters from your book for real?

I love that question, and the potential for that to happen is quite fascinating. Accepting a multiverse theory, or allowing for an infinite number of universes or realities, perhaps every character from every book or play is out there somewhere. I don’t know. Thinking about that leads to needing a lie down in a darkened room.

If I met one of the characters from the book, I would hope it might be in a neutral sort of place – perhaps a bar, or sitting on a park bench. I would try to keep calm, and pass the time of day, hoping they might reveal things I didn’t know about them, which amounts to an awful lot.

 

Can you relate to any of them?

Yes, all of them to some extent, except maybe some of the meanies who work at the slaughterhouse in Grenze, but even with them you have to try and get under their skin to some extent. The one I most relate to is Thomas, I suppose. The truck driver character, Peter, also seems to be quite popular, and I can see why. He’s honest, uncomplicated, and has a very good heart – and he likes chocolate!

 

Can we look forward to more books from you?

I very much hope so. I’d love to one day have a collection of poems, and a collection of stories. I am also working on a longer story just now, but it’s at an early(ish) stage, to be frank. I’d love to do more with my songs eventually (and some co-written songs) – perhaps make a CD, and see if some other musicians could play on the tracks, and do it properly, in a studio. Might need to come up on the horses first.

 

Where do you do most of your writing?

During the writing of The Gift Maker, I moved a few times, but in each case I did the writing at a desk in my bedroom, fortified by a constant drip of tea and ridiculous amounts of biscuits. Occasionally, I would sit in cafes or a pub, and think about how it was going, or indeed where it might go. Simply going for walks, or waking up first thing, ideas for a scene or a problem that needs ‘fixing’ can just simply come to you – most often when you stop striving for them, I find.

 

Have you found social media useful?

I think especially these days it is vital; vital to build relationships with readers, and readers who are bloggers, and with more general marketing matters. Great for connecting with other writers, who are usually voracious readers, too, of course. Getting news of a book ‘out there’ relies a lot on social media these days, and word can spread very effectively. People have been so very kind – individual readers, and especially book bloggers, who really are a wonderfully supportive community in themselves, and are part of an invaluable network that gets other people turned on to new books as well as older ones. Social media is also an important means of promulgating such an event, to hopefully create a bit of a buzz.

 

If you had the chance to live your life again would you still write?

That’s a great question, as are they all, Sonya – and the answer is an unequivocal yes. The only change I might make is to start earlier. I didn’t read much as a child, outside of comics, and only began to develop an interest in writing around the age of thirty (although I had written some songs prior to then). Having said this, things happen the way they do for a reason. In my twenties, my passion was for acting, and nothing really could have got in the way of that at the time.

 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

In my spare time I love to read – pretty much anything, although I really want to go back and read a lot of the ‘classics’ that I haven’t as yet tried. There’s only so much time, I suppose. I do consider reading an indispensible aspect of the writing ‘journey’ – for inspiration, connection with language, and simply to immerse oneself in worlds created by imaginations and sensibilities other than one’s own. A reader is also a time traveller.

I would love to learn other languages, or at least little bits of them; and then to read some stories and poems in their original incarnation. I keep trying.

I enjoy walking – which can also aid the imagination, as mentioned above. Just a nice gentle pace for me these days due to the old knees. I pretty much drink tea all day – not sure if that’s a hobby, more of an addiction, but not the worst you could have, I suppose.

Music is the other main thing I love, specifically playing the guitar, singing, and writing songs, or singing songs by other songwriters. I’ve been doing it for quite a while, and in the last couple of years have been active on Soundcloud – a site I love, as it has such a wonderful community of musicians, songwriters, poets, storytellers, and spoken word aficionados.

 

You are given the challenge of staying on a desert island for a month.  You are only allowed two books.  What would they be?

I know on Desert Island Discs you are given the Collected works of Shakespeare for ‘free’, as it were – but if I didn’t have that on offer, then I’d surely like the Bard as one of my two chosen books. The second book would be either Lao Tsu’s Tao Te Ching, or Basho’s complete haiku – I think either of those could put me into a nice contemplative state of mind.

 

Links

Urbane Author Page: http://urbanepublications.com/book_author/mark-mayes/

Urbane Book Page: http://urbanepublications.com/books/the-gift-maker/

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/pumpstreetsongs

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Gift-Maker-Mark-Mayes/dp/1911331779/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=14767072

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33398102-the-gift-maker

Blog: https://darklingilistenblog.wordpress.com/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/Mark_J_Mayes

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

 

‘Silver Rain’ by Jan Ruth

Silver Rain

Jan Ruth writes contemporary fiction about the darker side of the family dynamic.  She very kindly sent me a copy of ‘Silver Rain’ to review a while back.

After failing to save his marriage, Alastair Black decides to return to his childhood home at Chathill Farm for a while.  His brother George isn’t very welcoming though and would rather that he isn’t there.

Kate has recently lost her husband and is finding that she is increasingly being put upon by her daughter, sister and mother.  At over fifty years of age she is already beginning to feel that her life is over, until she meets Alastair that is.  He is everything she isn’t but there’s definitely more to him than meets the eye and it is up to Kate to find out what that is.

I really enjoyed reading ‘Silver Rain’.  Told by the two main characters, Al and Kate, I found myself feeling as if I knew them both.  I loved the setting of this story.  Chathill Farm sounded lovely.

It was obvious from the start that Al and Kate were attracted to one another, but things weren’t that straightforward.  In fact it was all very complicated.  For a start off Al had lots of skeletons in the cupboard, one of which was a bit of a shocker.  Al had a great sense of humour, but he was a very sad and lonely man.  I felt sorry for him and wished that he and Kate would get together.

I thought Fran was just so lovely.  She doted on the animals she took in at Chathill Farm.  If money wasn’t an object I reckon Fran would have possibly opened an animal sanctuary.

I’m so glad that I read ‘Silver Rain’.  I think it’s great that Jan Ruth has written a novel where the characters are that little bit older and I will definitely be checking out some of her other books.

I give this book 4 out of 5.

 

‘Silver Rain’ is available to buy on Amazon:-

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Silver-Rain-Jan-Ruth-ebook/dp/B00GS87VW8/ref=sr_1_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1453405859&sr=1-6&keywords=jan+ruth

To find out more about Jan Ruth and her books visit her website – http://janruth.com/

 

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