A Lover of Books

Archive for the tag “humour”

Book Review – ‘An Armful of Animals’ by Malcolm D. Welshman ~ @malcolmwelshman

‘An Armful of Animals’ is Malcolm D. Welshman’s memoir.  He self-published it last year and it is available in paperback and as an eBook.  I was sent this book a while ago to review and would like to thank Malcolm for my copy.

I will tell you all in a minute what my thoughts on this book are.  First though, here’s what its about.

 

Book Blurb

Malcolm D. Welshman has had a lifetime filled with exciting encounters with animals. As a lad in Nigeria, he is attacked by soldier ants and terrified by a snake in his treehouse. His treasured companion, Poucher, an African bush dog, prevents him and his mother from being savaged by baboons.

Once qualified as a vet Malcolm has to attempt life-saving surgery on his beloved parrot. On a road trip across the Sahara, there is a tussle with a lame camel and the operation on an Ostrich gored by an antelope.

Settling back in West Sussex in England, he tackles a cow that’s got stuck in a tree, wily cats and battles with cunning badgers and baby bats.
He shares all these fascinating experiences in this gently humorous memoir that will guarantee to tug at the heart strings while bringing a smile to your face. Anyone who loves animals will be enchanted and enthralled.

‘A witty take on a young vet’s life that pet lovers will find endearing.’ – Bel Mooney, Daily Mail.

‘A joyful read full of animals and fun.’ – Celia Haddon, author and former Daily Telegraph columnist.

‘Bursting with exotic creatures and eccentric characters, this touching memoir makes for a spellbinding read where the author’s love of animals shines through.’ – Jenny Itzcovitz, editor of Sixtyplusurfers.co.uk.

 

My Review

Having previously reviewed one of Malcolm D. Welshman’s books, I was really looking forward to reading ‘An Armful of Animals’. I must admit I don’t usually read memoirs but as this was a book about animals, I thought I would give it a go and I’m so glad I did.

I found ‘An Armful of Animals’ an absolute joy to read. The author has done a wonderful job of putting this book together. There was just so much packed into each chapter. I loved the style of writing and the humour throughout, though there were some sad moments too of course. It felt as if the author was sitting there in front of me telling me about his life.

I got to meet a large variety of birds and animals including a few pets from Malcolm’s childhood which was nice. It was very interesting to learn what made him decide to become a vet.

It’s very hard to pick my favourites out of the chapters as they were all good, so I won’t. One that really amused me though was about the cows and sheep. That made me chuckle a bit. The way the author described the owners was absolutely hilarious. They should have had name tags on! I also loved the chapter about Polly the African Grey Parrot. She sounded like a right little cracker. One thing though, the author can keep the snakes as I wouldn’t want them anywhere near me.

‘An Armful of Animals’ is a treasure chest of tales from Malcolm’s childhood onwards. If you are a pet or animal lover, then I urge you to read this book. You certainly won’t be disappointed.

I hope to read more about this author’s life sometime in the future. I am sure there are many more stories he could tell.

 

About Malcolm D. Welshman

Malcolm Welshman is a retired vet and author. He was the My Weekly vet for 15 years and has written many features for magazines such as She, The Lady, The People’s Friend, Cat World, Yours, and newspapers such as The Sunday Times and the Daily Mail. He is the author of three pet novels, the first of which, Pets in a Pickle, reached number two on Kindle’s bestseller list. His third novel, Pets Aplenty, was a finalist for The People’s Book Prize 2015. His latest book, An Armful of Animals – published September 2018 – is a memoir of encounters with creatures as diverse as a cow stuck in a tree and a red-footed booby. Jim Wight, James Herriot’s son, says of it, ‘A most enjoyable insight into a fascinating life.’ While author and columnist on The Daily Mail, Bel Mooney, states, ‘A witty take on a young vet’s life that pet owners will find endearing.’

A fourth pet novel, Pets are a Pleasure, is due to be published this autumn.

Malcolm is also an international speaker on cruise ships, having completed 47 such engagements over the past eight years. He is a bi-monthly contributor to a local community radio, Keep 106 in Dorset.

 

Links

‘An Armful of Animals’ is available to buy from:-

Amazon UK – http://amazon.co.uk/dp/B07H1HM7ZB

Amazon US – http://amazon.com/dp/B07H1HM7ZB

 

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

Twitter – twitter.com/malcolmwelshman

Facebook – Facebook.com/malcolmwelshman.7

 

Guest Post by Angelena Boden ~ @matadorbooks

I am delighted to welcome the lovely Angelena Boden back to my blog.  Her latest book, ‘Edna’s Death Cafe’ was published last September as an eBook by Matador and it has been getting quite a few good reviews.

Angelena has written a post about the fear of dying for my blog.  There is also the chance to win copies of the book.  First though, lets take a look at what ‘Edna’s Death Cafe’ is about.

 

Book Blurb

As in life, death is not without its agenda. This is something seventy-nine year old Edna Reid finds out when her partner, Ted, suddenly dies.

To cope with her loss, she sets up a Death Cafe to break down the taboo around death and to encourage other members of the community to discuss it openly. Over tea and cake, the participants hide their fears behind a veil of dark humour.

Religious fanaticism clashes with Victorian spiritualism as Edna’s meetings trigger lively conversations on the fragility of life, anxiety over dying, cost of funerals, and making sure long-lost greedy relatives don’t benefit from inheritances.

Soon, a series of events begin to unfold which threaten to undermine Edna’s livelihood and the Death Cafe meetings. These events just happen to coincide with the arrival of a mysterious stranger into the village.

Who is she and why is she so hostile to Edna?

~~~~~

‘Edna’s Death Cafe’ is available to buy from Amazon UK:-

https://amzn.to/2Q046aN

 

Guest Post

THANATOPHOBIA – The Fear of Dying

Death isn’t something we like to talk about. If it pops up in conversation we suddenly find the floor covering very interesting. In researching for my new book, Edna’s Death Cafe I talked to many people about how they feel about death, particularly their own, and the response was the same – they didn’t want to think about it because it made them feel anxious. I can relate to that as I suffered for a long time with a similar affliction which verged on panic, usually in the early hours of the morning.

I would spring out of bed, grabbing my throat, unable to swallow or breathe. Breathing into a paper bag or my cupped hands helped to calm the nervous system enough to make a cup of tea and put things back into proportion.

Now in my sixties I’ve experienced many losses as you would expect.  When my father died a few years ago, I realised on a very conscious level that I would be next in line (according to the natural order of things). It’s a sobering thought.

I became obsessed with everything to do with the dying process, funerals, body disposal and the age old question of whether consciousness really continues. I read voraciously the stories of near death experiences, the works of doctors such as Pym Van Lommel and Raymond Moody. My mind was having great difficulty in accepting that death was the end – hence the anxiety. I no longer had control over my life at that point.

For two years it made living in the moment impossible.  Every waking thought was controlled by the ‘horror’ that one day I was going to be no more – such is the power of the ego. I thought I was going crazy but death anxiety is very, real and very common.

In trying to avoid my own premature death I took ridiculous precautions.  Germs were monsters and my hands became raw from scrubbing them clean. I feared leaving the house in case a bus happened to mount the pavement and squash me. Everything I did had to be risk assessed until I found myself sobbing in front of my doctor. Fortunately she was understanding and suggested something to calm me down as well as a grief counsellor who was trained in this field.

My condition was exacerbated by the fact I had post- traumatic stress syndrome which, despite therapy, was recurring especially when under stress. Death of a loved one is the number one stressor so my thought processes were understandable.

As well as these excellent therapies which help sort out the muddle between the rational and irrational I discovered my own path through the nightmare.

I trained as a funeral celebrant which put me in contact with the fundamentals of the dying process and of course with grieving relatives. I had to be the strong one and keep things together for the families. My work desensitised me to the fear of dying but strengthened my new belief that you can die well following a fulfilling life. Being at a burial site or in a crematorium for the final goodbye is a privilege but also provides a form of exposure therapy. It’s the fear of the unknown that gives the demons something to play with.

Writing about those things that make us anxious can be healing. My novel, inspired by the international death café movement provided succour and support. Through the main character Edna, an octogenarian who sets a good example of how to celebrate life we learn how we can talk about this last taboo. I think we need to name it properly: – death, dying and dead as opposed to the many euphemisms we use to lessen the impact of the reality.

We might not wear black or cover the clocks and mirrors as the Victorians did or have a religious belief – many funerals result in natural burials in woodlands – but we need to allow ourselves to mourn and not stiffen the upper lip or maintain a dry eye when someone kindly asks us how we are doing.

The only way to get through grief is through that painful, but necessary act of grieving, in our own time and at our own pace. We need to allow ourselves to feel the tidal wave of emotions knowing that we won’t drown. Grief doesn’t mean neglecting everything and everyone or shutting ourselves away in a darkened room. It means nurturing yourself with good food, fresh air, walks in nature and slowing down to appreciate that we’ve been lucky to be given this opportunity to experience life in all its glory.

The best things we can do for ourselves when faced with crippling anxiety over our eventual demise is to learn to relax. Yoga, gentle exercise, breathing exercises, meditation all help. When things get overwhelming, you can focus on counting backwards or reciting a bit of poetry – whatever will distract your mind from the mental pain.

So if you can relate to any of these feelings, don’t despair. You are normal and it will get easier.  ‘Sometimes a bit of humour can really help too. This is what Mark Twain had to say,   ‘I do not fear death: I had been dead for billions of years before I was born and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.’

 

Competition

Angelena is giving away 4 eBook copies of ‘Edna’s Death Cafe’.  2 lucky winners will receive their book via Amazon UK and 2 will receive an iBooks code.  To enter just leave a comment and let me know how you would prefer to receive your book.

 

Terms and Conditions

This competition is open to UK residents only.

The closing date is 11:59 p.m. on the 31st March 2019.

Winners will be randomly chosen within 7 days of the closing date and their email addresses will be sent to Angelena Boden.

 

About Angelena Boden

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

She originates from the Peak District which is where her new book is set. Angelena has spent a life time travelling and living in places as far apart as Vancouver, Dubai, Paris, Seville and Iran. Now semi-retired in Worcestershire, she writes every morning, walks the hills and paints landscapes, fitting family and reading in between.

Angelena is writing stories for her new grandson about a little dachshund called Digger who is a very special sort of detective!

She is the author of two traditionally published novels and many articles and blogs.

Her most recent novel, Edna’s Death Cafe is published as an e-book by Matador. A new Edna Investigates will be available for Christmas 2019.

Angelena is keen to meet readers, old and new, and is available for book talks, events, and always chatting over a cuppa (within 60 miles of Worcester).

 

Links

Website – http://angelenaboden.com/

 

Blog Tour – ‘Smart Moves’ by Adrian Magson ~ @DomePress @AdrianMagson1

‘Smart Moves’ was published in paperback and as an eBook on the 16th August 2018 by The Dome Press.  I am thrilled to be part of this blog tour and would like to thank Emily Glenister for inviting me to participate and for my review copy of this book.

I have both my review and a guest post by Adrian Magson for you.  First though here’s what the book is about.

 

Book Blurb

International troubleshooter Jake Foreman loses his job, house and wife all in one day. And when an impulsive move lands him in even deeper water – the kind that could lose him his life – he decides it’s time to make some smart decisions.

The trouble is, knowing the right moves and making them is a whole different game. And Jake, who has been happily rubbing along doing things he always suspected were just a shade away from being dodgy, finds it all too easy to go with the flow.

Now he’s got to start learning new tricks. If he doesn’t, he could end up dead.

 

My Review

I thoroughly enjoyed reading ‘Smart Moves’ and thought it to be very cleverly written. I liked Adrian Magson’s style of writing and the fairly short chapters kept me reading on.

I really felt for Jake Foreman. Not only did he lose his job, but he then discovered that he had lost his wife and his home all in the same day. I mean surely you can’t have so much bad luck in one day. I guess this is proof that things really do come in threes.

Jake soon managed to get a temporary job via his friend and it seemed that things were starting to look up for him. He got to travel around again which maybe wasn’t such a bad thing. That is until he was given one particular assignment. Little was he to know what he would end up being involved in. Somehow I knew it would be trouble. That’s when the story itself started to hot up and things got really rather exciting. It was as if Jake had been given several lives, much like a cat. He actually managed to cheat death.

I liked how things started to fall back into place for Jake and I was just as made up for him as his brother was. Jake went through some bad times, but he learnt a few valuable things along the way. He made some new friends and realised what real friendship was. He also met someone special. The rest I guess is left to the reader’s imagination but hopefully everything will work out for Jake.

‘Smart Moves’ is a story about what happens when you lose virtually everything in your life and the choices you make. It’s a serious read with a bit of humour added. I am certainly interested in reading more of Adrian Magson’s books and I would like to thank both him for and The Dome Press for several hours of pure entertainment. I am really liking what this publisher is publishing and I hope they continue to grow.

I give this book 4 out of 5.

 

Guest Post

BELIEVE IN RANDOM

I’m a great believer in random. Things surprise us that we haven’t planned for, circumstances change without warning, and we get caught short through no fault of our own. Stuff happens.

Most of us try to control our lives. We might end up swimming against a current now and then, or take a detour here and there to get where we want to go. But we usually push through in the end.

After writing a number of crime and spy thriller series (some 22 books in all), with determined and focussed lead characters, some of them women (as in the Riley Gavin series and the Ruth Gonzales duet) some men (as in the Harry Tate, Marc Portman and Insp Lucas Rocco series) I got the urge to try something a little different.

How about, I thought, instead of writing about characters whose lives are closely controlled through training and instinct, where they assess risk and cater for the unexpected, I write about Joe Ordinary, whose life simply isn’t like that? This Joe – or Jake, in my latest book and first standalone, ‘Smart Moves’ – isn’t expecting bad luck, but suddenly finds himself on the nasty end of a severe kicking from circumstances he hasn’t seen coming. As a friend tells him afterwards, that’s what happens when you don’t pay attention to detail.

For Jake, it couldn’t be worse. His wife doesn’t want him, his job’s redundant and his home has been overtaken by a bunch of Kiwi tree-huggers. The only way is up. However, making the right decisions after years of going with the flow doesn’t come easy, and Jake’s soon in hot water up to his ears. If he wants to survive he’s got to do something radical.

This means making some smart moves. Of course, we can all say we‘ll do that but as Jake discovers, there’s always random just waiting round the next corner.

Fortunately, he also finds that random isn’t always bad.

 

About Adrian Magson

Hailed by the Daily Mail as “a classic crime star in the making”, Adrian had written 21 crime and spy thriller books based around:

Gavin & Palmer (investigative reporter Riley Gavin and ex-military policeman Frank Palmer; Harry Tate, ex-soldier and MI5 officer; Inspector Lucas; Marc Portman (The Watchman); investigators Ruth Gonzales and Andy Vaslik.

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

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

 

Links

‘Smart Moves’ can be purchased from Amazon UK – https://amzn.to/2vWqzwM

Website – https://www.adrianmagson.com

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

Twitter – https://twitter.com/adrianmagson1

Facebook – https://facebook.com/adrianmagsonbooks

Blog Blitz – ‘The Serial Dater’s Shopping List’ by Morgen Bailey @bombshellpub @morgenwriteruk

I am thrilled to be taking part in this blog blitz along with a number of other book bloggers and would like to thank Sarah Hardy for inviting me to participate.  ‘The Serial Dater’s Shopping List’ was published in paperback and as an eBook yesterday the 12th July 2018 by Bombshell Books and it sounds really good.

I have a guest post by Morgen Bailey, but first here’s what the book is about.

 

Book Blurb

31 days. 31 dates.

Izzy is a journalist who usually writes a technology column for a Northampton newspaper. Her somewhat-intimidating boss William sets her the task of dating thirty-one men, via an internet dating site, all within a month, and writing about it for the paper.

Having an active, though fruitless, social life with her friend Donna, Izzy knows what she wants in a man, so creates a shopping list of dos and don’ts and starts ticking them off as she meets the men.

Follow the ups and downs of the dating process including Tim ‘the Weeble’, whose date leads Izzy to see banoffee pie in a whole new light, Lawrence the super-skinny social worker, Felix with his bizarre penchant for Persian Piranhas, and ‘the music maestro but don’t talk about dead pets’ Jake.

By the end of the month, will Izzy have met Mr Right?

A laugh-out-loud comedy about the highs and lows of dating.

 

Guest Post

How I got published… (810 words)

I came to writing later than many. I was thirty-seven and a half when I spotted, in a University of Leicester prospectus, an evening creative writing workshop class led by crime writer Sally Spedding (http://sallyspedding.com) which renewed my passion for the craft started at school. That said, Sally also nearly killed it by pulling apart one of my (fairly dreadful) poems, but the homework was to write a crime short story and it was very much the proverbial light bulb moment.

Sticking with short stories, I submitted a page of sixty-worders to Woman’s Weekly and they published the first one. Yay, my mum could finally tell her friends – and probably everyone else she met – that I was a published author. I thought the magazine was then going to publish the rest, one by one, so I bought the following issue, only to find they’d shelved the sixty-word slot. Over the next few months, other magazines that had run short stories also stopped doing them: Bella, Best, Chat, Woman, Woman’s Own to name a few.

So I turned my attention to competitions. I entered a few with varying levels of success, gratefully printing off the congratulations emails and certificates, as well as the commiserations (although most don’t reply so you just have to assume) for my ‘rejections’ folder which by this time was outgrowing my ‘successes’.

I only ever planned to be a short story writer but as most people know, it’s easier (as if it’s ever easy) to make a living as a novelist. I couldn’t envisage spending a year though – as I’d heard the average being – on one story but then I discovered NaNoWriMo (www.nanowrimo.org), the yearly (November) 50,000+ words in a month project. I ‘had a go’ in 2008, with a comic crime, which was just over the minimum, which I self-published in 2016 as Hitman Sam. I enjoyed it so wrote another, After Jessica, between January and October the following year (most of it actually in the final month!) before writing my epic women’s fiction novel, The Serial Dater’s Shopping List, in November 2009 which ended up being 115,640 words (in twenty-eight of the thirty-one days!). Because I had to write 50,000+ words in a month, I didn’t want anything too ‘heavy’ and it was a fun write (and hope it’s a fun read). Of course that’s when the hard work starts, the beloved editing process.

Since then, ‘life’ has again intruded so I’m much slower but I have two completed, for which I’m looking for homes, and have planned or part written others – including the follow-up to The Serial Dater. I’ve also written and self-published eight eBook collections of short stories for, or inspired by, the thirty-one short stories in a month that is Story a Day May (http://storyaday.org), which I’ve since combined into two paperback books.

So yes, I’m the classic example of a ten-year overnight success, although I’m still working on that final word. Some writers do it for the money but most because they love it. Isaac Asimov is quoted as saying, “I write for the same reason I breathe … because if I didn’t, I would die” which is somewhat dramatic but ‘they’ say that when you find something you love doing, that it’s never work. Although it feels like it is much of the time, as it leaves little time for writing, I do count myself very lucky.

Other than creating our characters, it can be a very lonely experience. I like being solo though but it’s usually tumbleweed when you self-publish so, at a friend’s suggestion, we co-founded Northants Authors (www.northantsauthors.com) to help fellow local writers promote their books. We do a variety of events and it all helps the ‘profile’.

I’ve interviewed or spotlighted over 800 authors for my blog and it makes that lonely experience far less so. I ‘found’ Bombshell Books having been recommended as an editor for their parent company, Bloodhound Books, and for Serial Dater it was very much third time lucky (twice). From my blog and writing groups, I’d had offers for Serial Dater from two publishers but after reading the contracts and received feedback from The Society of Authors, I turned them down. Bombshell was my third contract for this book, and having Bloodhound already reject two of my other (crime) novels, this book was my third submitted.

Having gone from self-published to traditionally published, I love the support of the team behind me. It doesn’t stop me self-publishing and won’t do my backlist any harm. While some authors will prefer that route because they get to keep a higher percentage of royalties, given the choice of a high percentage of not a lot and a lower portion of many more, there’s no contest.

How did you get published? Are you still on that journey to your first ‘sale’? Do share your story.

~~~~~

‘The Serial Dater’s Shopping List’ is available to buy from:-

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Serial-Daters-Shopping-List-comedy-ebook/dp/B07F8VRRYY/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1531166894&sr=1-1&keywords=the+serial+dater%27s+shopping+list

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/Serial-Daters-Shopping-List-comedy-ebook/dp/B07F8VRRYY/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1531421027&sr=1-1&keywords=the+serial+dater%27s+shopping+list

 

About Morgen Bailey

Morgen Bailey – Morgen with an E – is a multi-genre author, freelance editor, writing tutor, Writers’ Forum magazine columnist, blogger, speaker, and Northants Authors co-founder. The former Chair of three writing groups, she has judged the H.E. Bates, RONE, BeaconLit, BBC Radio 2 and Althorp Literary Festival short story competitions. She also runs her own free monthly 100-word competition and is a forthcoming Flash 500 judge.

 

Links

 

Blog Tour – ‘Dead Ernest’ by Frances Garrood

‘Dead Ernest’ is being published as an eBook tomorrow the 1st March 2018 by Sapere Books.  It is also out in paperback.  I am absolutely thrilled to be kicking off this blog tour today along with two other bloggers.

I have an exclusive extract from the book for all of you to read, but first here’s what its about.

 

Book Blurb

No one had expected Ernest to die, least of all Ernest…

Ernest Bentley was a pillar of the community. But when he suddenly dies of a heart attack his wife Annie refuses to have the words ‘beloved husband’ added to his gravestone. Their son, Billy, is exasperated with his mother and worries about how she will cope on her own. Unwilling to take time out of his own busy schedule to take care of her, he enlists the services of the local vicar, Andrew, to keep an eye on her.

Before she knows what is happening, Annie finds herself telling Andrew things she has kept hidden for years. Dark secrets that had plagued her sixty-year marriage to Ernest. When Annie’s estranged granddaughter, Ophelia, turns up for a visit, the two bond over their mutual contempt for Billy and his controlling behaviour. But when Ophelia meets Andrew, the unhappily married vicar, things start to get very complicated…

What is the truth about Ernest? Why is Annie behaving so strangely now that he is dead? And how can Andrew reconcile his growing feelings for Ophelia with his respect for his marriage and his religion?

Spanning from the Second World War to the present day, Dead Ernest by Frances Garrood is a poignant, moving and, at times, very funny look at what really goes on behind closed doors in the ordinary lives of ordinary people.

 

Extract

CHAPTER ONE 

Dead Ernest

No one had expected Ernest to die, least of all Ernest. He prided himself on coming from tough, Yorkshire stock, and had often told Annie that he would easily outlive her. So, when he had his heart attack, Annie’s feelings were at first of surprise rather than anything else.

“Are you sure?” she asked the policewoman, who was making tea in the kitchen. (How odd that it was always the police who were sent to break bad news; almost as though dying in the street were an offence against the law). “Are you sure he’s dead?”

“Quite sure. I’m so sorry, dear.” The policewoman handed her the tea (much too sweet, and not hot enough) and put an arm around her shoulders. “It must be a terrible shock. Is there anyone you’d like us to contact?”

“Billy. My son Billy. You’ll need to contact him.”

Because, of course, Billy must be told. Strangely, Annie had rather wanted to keep the news to herself for a while; to taste it and think about it on her own before sharing it with anyone else. But Billy would think it odd if she didn’t tell him at once, and besides, there would be things that would need doing. Annie had only the vaguest idea of what those things were, but she was sure Billy would know how to deal with them. Billy was good at that sort of thing.

“How do you know it was a heart attack?” Annie asked. “How can they tell?”

“Well, they can’t tell. Not for certain. But that’s what it looks like. There’ll have to be a post-mortem, of course.”

“Ernest wouldn’t like that,” Annie said, remembering Ernest’s dislike of being touched and even greater dislike of anyone seeing him in a position of disadvantage. A post-mortem, she could see, was going to place him in a position of considerable disadvantage.

“It has to be done, dear. It’s the law. Because he didn’t die in hospital.” The policewoman poured herself a cup of tea, although Annie hadn’t invited her to have one. Death, it would seem, muddled up all the rules of normal behaviour.

Ernest would have hated dying in the street like that, with everyone watching. Dying in hospital would have been acceptable, with dignity and nurses and clean sheets. But then Annie might have had to sit with him while he was doing it, and she wasn’t sure she could have managed that. Perhaps, after all, it was a blessing that he had died in the street.

“Where was he?” she asked. “Where did Ernest die?”

“Outside the fish and chip shop.”

“Outside the fish and chip shop,” Annie repeated, surprised. It seemed such an odd place to die. She wondered what he had been doing there. The fish and chip shop was the wrong end of town for the barber’s, which was where Ernest was supposed to be, and he’d only just had his lunch, so he couldn’t have been hungry. But now she would never know. Nobody would ever know what Ernest was doing before he died outside the fish and chip shop.

Annie was aware of the policewoman watching her, waiting to see how she would behave. “What do people usually do?” she asked, suddenly interested.

“Do?” The policewoman looked bemused.

“Yes. When someone dies. You must see a lot of them. When you tell them, what do they do?”

“Everyone’s different of course,” said the policewoman carefully. “They cry, of course, and some people even scream. And sometimes they’re just shocked and quiet. Trying to understand what’s happened.”

“And what am I?”

“What are you?” The policewoman’s teacup paused, trembling, halfway to her lips.

“Yes. How would you say I was taking it?”

“I would say,” the teacup returned firmly to its saucer, “I would say that you were being very brave. Perhaps it hasn’t quite sunk in yet,” she added gently. “It’s a terrible shock for you.”

Was it? Was it really a terrible shock? A surprise, certainly, but a shock? Annie wished the policewoman would go away and let her think. She needed time to sort herself out; to get to grips with what had happened. Ernest was dead, and she didn’t feel anything much at all. Not sad, not happy, not anything. Was she normal? Was it okay to feel like this?

“Ernest is dead.” She tried the words to see what they felt like. “Ernest — is — dead. It sounds so strange.” She paused. “He had this little joke he used to tell: ‘Once upon a time there were two worms fighting in dead Ernest.’ I never thought it was funny, and Billy didn’t like it, but it always made Ernest laugh.”

The policewoman smiled.

“Did he have a sense of humour then, your Ernest?”

“Oh, I wouldn’t say that. Ernest only had the two jokes, and I’ve forgotten the other one.”

“Would you like another cup of tea?” the policewoman asked.

“No thank you. I think I’d like you to go now,” Annie said.

“But we can’t leave you here on your own. Not at a time like this. Is there a neighbour who might sit with you? Just until your son gets here.”

Annie thought of her neighbours. Of odd, secretive Mr Adams, a tiny man of indeterminate age who lived alone and who hoarded things. Annie had only once been inside his house and had been left with an impression of disturbing smells and what appeared to be wall-to-wall jumble and bric-a-brac. The piles were neat and appeared to be in some kind of order, but the impression was not welcoming. On the other side lived a young couple, with a frog-faced toddler who screamed a lot. Annie certainly didn’t want to involve them, and she quite definitely didn’t need the toddler.

“I don’t really have much to do with the neighbours.” She stood up. “I want to be by myself now. I don’t need anyone else.”

After the policewoman had gone, Annie locked and bolted the door. Then, because it was getting dark, she drew the curtains and turned on the gas fire. Ernest would be home any time now, and wanting his tea. Ernest was very particular about his tea. He always had it at six o’clock on the dot, the same time as he used to have his meal when he got home from work. Ernest liked routine and order, and because it was easier to do what Ernest wanted, Annie had always gone along with it. Yes. She must get Ernest’s tea ready. A nice piece of fish (it was Friday) and some mashed potatoes and cabbage. Annie thought it was odd to have cabbage with fish, but Ernest had read a book about green vegetables being particularly good for you, and recently he had insisted on having them with everything.

But Ernest is dead, she realised again. Ernest is dead. He isn’t coming home for his tea. The green-vegetable book came too late to save him. He won’t be coming home at all; not ever. His heavy tread on the gravel (a slight limp because of his bad hip), his key in the door, his voice calling her name as he hung up his coat and cap. None of these things would ever happen again. The coat and the cap were — where? At the hospital, presumably. And Ernest himself; where exactly was he? Lying somewhere, cold, waiting for the post-mortem. Annie shivered. At least she wouldn’t have to go and identify him. Billy would see to that. She couldn’t understand why anyone had to go and identify Ernest, when he’d been carrying his pension book.

~~~~~

‘Dead Ernest’ can be purchased in paperback from Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dead-Ernest-behind-closed-doors/dp/1912546019/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1519756569&sr=8-1 

The eBook can be pre-ordered – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dead-Ernest-behind-closed-doors-ebook/dp/B077Y1R7PP/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1519756569&sr=8-1

 

About Frances Garrood

My main career was in nursing, but I also trained and worked for many years as a relationship counsellor with Relate. Widowed in 1992, I re-married and now live with my husband in Wiltshire, where I enjoy riding my horse in the beautiful Pewsey Vale, reading, writing, singing in our large church choir and keeping up with my grandchildren. I also write regularly to a prisoner on Texas Death Row and do local voluntary work with homeless and vulnerable adults.

I first started writing as a child; mainly poetry, but there was one horrific novel (mercifully, never finished) in which a woman gives birth to a hideously deformed child in a thunderstorm. While I was bringing up my four children, I began writing and selling short stories to magazines before the enforced immobility following a fractured spine gave me the time to tackle my first novel, Dead Ernest.

All my books are very strongly relationship-based. My writing has also been affected by my widowhood and my experiences with my Relate clients, and my books sometimes include issues of death and bereavement. Strangely (and not by design) they all seem to include pet animal funerals (not a subject which normally occupies my mind!).

 

PRAISE FOR FRANCES AND HER BOOKS

“Frances Garrood is a magnificent writer.” — thebookbag.co.uk

“Dead Ernest is remarkably well written, well constructed.” — Grumpy Old Bookworm

“Light-hearted, heartwarming and enjoyable.” —writers-online.co.uk

 

Links

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

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

 

Book Review – ‘Reunited’ by Daniel Gothard

‘Reunited’ is Daniel Gothard’s second book to be published by Urbane Publications. It came out in October of last year and seems to have been getting some very good reviews. I bought a copy for my kindle.

It’s 2012. Ben Tallis is thirty-six years old, has achieved his ambition of becoming a journalist and he’s engaged to a very ambitious lawyer. But there seem to be a couple of problems within the relationship. When Ben receives an invitation to a 20 year old school reunion he really doesn’t want to go. By mistake he mentions the reunion to his editor who smells a great feature article and insists that Ben returns home, faces his past, and writes a feature on how much we change and yet in so many ways we stay the same. It doesn’t look like Ben has much choice. So he reluctantly returns home, re-engages with his past and realises that you can never run from the truth or who you really are. The reunion gets Ben thinking back to 1992 when he was still at school and his best friends, including one he was secretly in love with. How will Ben get on at the reunion? Well, that’s for you to find out.

I started reading this book straight after ‘Simon says’. Again, the cover is very retro and bright which is a good thing as it stands out. Having read and enjoyed Daniel Gothard’s first book I was looking forward to ‘Reunited’, although to be honest I wasn’t entirely sure how I would get on with it. My school days aren’t exactly something I like to think about and I would never even consider going to a reunion. As it goes I really enjoyed this book.

I think going back between the past and present worked extremely well. I did on a couple of occasions get a bit confused though, as in I thought I was still reading about Ben’s school days when in actual fact the story was back in the present. Maybe this is because I got hooked and wanted to know what happened next in Ben’s past. Ben and one of his best friends had a really hard time because of bullies. I think going back home and meeting people from his past really helped Ben to put things into perspective.

I am looking forward to reading future books by Daniel Gothard and will definitely be buying a copy of ‘Reunited’ in paperback to add to my collection.

I give this book 4 out of 5.

 

Links

‘Reunited’ is available to buy from:-

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

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Reunited-Daniel-Gothard/dp/1911129546/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1489950517&sr=8-1

 

Interview with Daniel Gothard

I can’t believe this is the very last day of my Urbane Blog Event.  Where has the time gone?  Today I have for you an interview with Daniel Gothard and then later on there will be reviews of both of his books.

 

You have so far had two novels published by Urbane Publications. For the benefit of my readers can you tell me a bit about them please?

“Simon says” is a book about youth, love and the value of great friends – classic tenets of a lot of romantic comedy. I think what sets the novel apart, or so I’ve been told by various readers, is this type of story being from a male point-of-view – heartbreak, starting over, strong friendship … A few people have referred to the novel as “male chick-lit”.

“Reunited” is set in 1992 and 2012 – the story is told in a first-person narrative by Ben Tallis (aged 16 in ’92, at school, dealing with the death of his dad, and being in secret love with one of his best friends. And then in ’12, at 36, a journalist, going to a 20 year school reunion). The chapters go between the 2 time frames and seem to have worked well – reviews have been very positive (to date!)

 

What led you to write them?

I’ve written in various genres – even a 16,000 word 2nd person Dystopian short story! – and I’ve always loved rom-coms: “When Harry Met Sally”, “Four Weddings And A Funeral”, et al. I had the ideas in quick succession and had a really good time writing the books. Writing can be genuinely hard work, but these were a pleasure and I found myself smiling and laughing at my own references and comedic scenes. It was a bit pathetic!?

 

Where did you get your ideas from?

Ah, the BIG question. Probably watching too much TV, too many films and listening to too much music in the 1970s and 1980s! My head is full of useless cultural markers – but they come in handy sometimes. The actual moment of inception, when the idea happens – for me – is just something I can create. That reads as a bit arrogant, but it’s just a thing I’ve done since childhood.

 

Would you like to see either of your books made into a film or TV programme?

Oh yeah! Money, money, money!! And for a wider audience. Artistically, of course, most books don’t translate that well on to the screen. But I love film and TV, and there are some brilliant actors and directors around these days. It would be fantastic

 

What would you do if a character from one of your books knocked on your door?

Pretend I wasn’t home! I mean that wholeheartedly … They are nice enough people, I’m the misanthrope.

 

Can we look forward to more books from you?

Yep. I’ve got 2 books out with literary agents and publishers, but the difficulty with success in the creative arts is always about ‘shifting product’. Quality naturally counts, but a publisher and/or a literary agent has to be VERY sure of you to take the financial risks. I’ve been hugely fortunate. YouGov found, in 2015, over 60% of the UK had writing as their dream-job. 98% of submissions are rejected – and there are, literally, thousands of submissions each week.

 

How easy was it to get published?

Not easy at all. 2013-present has been very busy and my publication rate looks very good. But I started learning the craft in 2000, got married, had a day job and have 3 kids. It’s been a very long process. You have to REALLY want to write, act, make music, etc. to succeed. And there are absolutely no guarantees.

 

Have you got any pearls of wisdom for anyone wanting to write a book?

Look at my answer from the last question. Keep writing, read great, ‘difficult’ books, learn from the best, take chances. Don’t give up. As one of my bosses used to say, “You’re a long time dead. So get on with getting on.” Morbid but true!

 

Has social media been of much benefit to you?

Undoubtedly. I wouldn’t have met Matthew Smith – MD of Urbane Publications – without it. I wrote, as an arts correspondent, for After Nyne Magazine and met the editor, Claire Meadows (another Urbane Publications author) through Twitter. It has changed everything for me.

 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Watch great TV/films. Read those ‘difficult’ novels.

 

Describe your writing journey in three words.

Long. Tough. Fulfilling.

 

If you could do all this again, would you?

Absolutely!

 

Links

Twitter – @bookslifelove and @GOTHARDDANIEL

 

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 Gina Kirkham

gina-kirkham

The fabulous Gina Kirkham has written a guest post for my event.  Her debut novel, ‘Handcuffs, Truncheon and a Polyester Thong’ is being published on the 18th May 2017.

 

GIN, BOOK & LAUGHTER

Opening one eye as light sneaked its way through the gap between my budget B&Q blind and the window frame, I stretched lazily out in eager anticipation of the summer day ahead.

Slipping out of bed, my knees popping and crackling like a bowl of Rice Krispies, I simultaneously chided myself for getting old and patted myself on the back for having managed to negotiate my way to the bathroom without falling over the cat.

This was to be my first day of no shirts to iron, no SWAT boots to polish, no shifts, no pub fights, no 999 response runs and no paperwork.    This was my first day of retirement as a Police Officer.

I was a civilian again.

To be honest, my visions of slipping into Gin & Tonic induced  ‘Nana Naps’ in the garden, shaded from the afternoon sun by dappled shadows from the trees, whilst the busy world I had been part of carried on without me, had seemed rather exciting.

Sadly, as romantic as this vision had appeared, it was doomed to failure.  The reality was that the first three months offered only perpetual rain, high winds, which are the downside of living by the beach (along with globs of sand sticking to your lip gloss when you step out of the front door) and a huge price increase on the gin!

So, logs on the fire, a pot of tea on the go, half a packet of Ginger Nuts and three sheets of paper later, I had drafted out a plot, a character and a story and I was off on a most exciting adventure.

I was going to write a book.

It would chart my career in the Police, not as a Super-Detective or a muscle-ripped fighter of crime, but as an ordinary woman, a single parent, who looked towards humour as a coping mechanism in a demanding career.   This book was not to be for public consumption, after all, I had never written before and I certainly wouldn’t dare to think that anyone would be interested in reading my ramblings.   It was to be cathartic.  A way of storing my memories of a fabulous career, honour those I had worked with…..

…. actually no, scrub that!   It was to fill in the hours whilst the rain systematically destroyed any hope I had previously held of staggering around my back garden like a manic Miss Hannigan after a litre of homemade sloe gin, once boredom had set in.

Within eighteen months I had completed my first manuscript, all 142,000 words, and had avidly scoured the pages of The Writers & Artists Yearbook 2014  for the do’s and don’t’s of submitting and the etiquette of querying.  By page 639 I was frantically editing down my offering to 78,000 words whilst wailing in despair into my coffee.   For someone who suffers from verbal diarrhoea at the best of times, particularly when nervous, a reduction in words can be deemed to be complete and utter torture.  I then had the added trauma of producing a work of art called a ‘Synopsis’.

I mean, come on….what’s that all about?  Eighteen months of my life, a final 78,000 words, 1,478 mugs of tea, 23 packets of Aldi Digestive biscuits, 19 packets of Polo mints and a rather alarming increase in the size of my derrière, only to be told it all had to be reduced down – my writing, not my derrière, I hasten to add.   Not to be downhearted I ploughed on, carefully creating ‘My Book of Submissions’.  This masterpiece was crafted with the best four-ring binder I could find, that sported a rather fetching picture of Joyce Grenfell on the front.  Various coloured felt-pens were used to rigidly mark-up columns and headings with the assistance of a freebie Kellogg’s Cornflakes coaster in the absence of a ruler.

I was on a roll.

Each submission would have its own page so that I could meticulously keep track of who I had submitted to and who had replied.  In the very real fear of forwarding spelling bloopers, poor grammar and dreadful predictive howlers, I read and re-read my first submission e-mail over and over again before my index finger hovered over that one button on a keyboard that could suddenly make even Donald Trump become super-indecisive –  the SEND key…..

……I pressed and clicked…..

……and no sooner had the ‘swooooosh’ sound informed me that it had gone, did my keen eye catch my sign-off at the bottom.  I felt sick.  Hands trembling, a trickle of perspiration meandering its way down my back, I re-read my email to the poor, unsuspecting Literary Agent, again.

‘…….thank you for allowing me the opportunity to query and submit my novel, Handcuffs, Truncheon & A Polyester Thong.

Kindest regards
Gonorrhea Kirkham

Jeez, I bet my Mum hadn’t seen that coming when she’d christened me Georgina in the 1950’s pre-predictive text era.

If announcing the rather off-the-wall title of my book wasn’t bad enough, I had also fan-fared a name that would never, ever grace the cover of a book on the shelves of Waterstones.  I also knew, with another bout of absolute gut-wrenching certainty, that after making a first impression of that calibre, I had about as much chance of getting a reply and an offer of a publishing deal as Elvis would for a comeback concert.

I’m just hoping the shortened version I now use won’t get me into trouble, although if you get rid of the ‘a’ and add Tonic…. I’m actually back where I started!

Gina

 

Links

‘Handcuffs, Truncheon and a Polyester Thong’ can be pre-ordered from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Handcuffs-Truncheon-Polyester-Thong-Kirkham/dp/191133171X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1488735781&sr=1-1&keywords=gina+kirkham

Website:  www.ginakirkham.wordpress.com

Twitter: @ginageejay and @MavisUpton

Facebook: MAVIS UPTON page

 

Cover Reveal – ‘Breakfast at Poldark’s’ by Samantha Tonge

Book Cover

It’s time to reveal the cover of Samantha Tonge’s new book.  It’s so lovely and colourful don’t you think?  ‘Breakfast at Poldark’s’ is being published by Carina as an eBook on the 28th July 2016 and will be out in paperback on the 25th August 2016.

 

Book Blurb

DREAMING OF THE PERFECT MAN?

Kate Golightly needs to move forward and what better way to do that then with a trip to the Cornish coast with best friend and boss, Izzy.

The sea wind is just what Kate needs to finally relax and begin to let go of her past. Except she’s suddenly got one big reason to panic! She RSVP’d ‘yes’ to the Queen Bee of her high school’s wedding saying she’s bringing her boyfriend (she doesn’t have one) who looks just like Ross Poldark!

With only two weeks to find the Poldark look-alike of her dreams Kate is under a lot of pressure for the Cornish coast to deliver…

A hilarious and moving romantic novel from bestselling author, Samantha Tonge. A must-read this summer!

 

About Samantha Tonge

Author Picture

Samantha lives in Cheshire with her lovely family and a cat that thinks it’s a dog. Along with writing, her days are spent cycling, willing cakes to rise and avoiding housework. A love of fiction developed as a child, when she was known for reading Enid Blyton books in the bath. A desire to write bubbled away in the background whilst she pursued other careers, including a fun stint working at Disneyland Paris. Formally trained as a linguist, Samantha now likes nothing more than holing herself up in the spare room, in front of the keyboard. She has sold over 80 stories to women’s magazines. Her bestselling debut novel, “Doubting Abbey”, from CarinaUK HarperCollins, was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction best Ebook award in 2014. Game of Scones won the 2015 Love Stories Awards Best Romantic Ebook category.

 

Links

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29219342-breakfast-at-poldark-s?ac=1&from_search=true

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1XA9oIT

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1XA9IHl

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=423066221136190&fref=ts

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/SamTongeWriter

Website: http://samanthatonge.co.uk/

Cover Reveal – ‘The Bookshop on Rosemary Lane’ by Ellen Berry

Book CoverIt’s time for another cover reveal.  ‘The Bookshop on Rosemary Lane’ is being published by Avon as an eBook and in paperback on the 14th July 2016.  My mouth is watering already.

 

Book Blurb

In the beginning…

Kitty Cartwright has always solved her problems in the kitchen. Her cookbooks are her life, and there isn’t an issue that ‘Cooking with Aspic’ can’t fix. Her only wish is that she had a book entitled ‘Rustling Up Dinner When Your Husband Has Left You’.

Forty years later…

On Rosemary Lane, Della Cartwright plans to open a very special little bookshop. Not knowing what to do with the hundreds of cookbooks her mother left her, she now wants to share their recipes with the world – and no amount of aspic will stand in her way.

But with her family convinced it’s a hare-brained scheme, Della starts to wonder if she’s made a terrible decision. One thing’s for sure: she’s about to find out…

Lose yourself in Della’s world of food, family and friends. The perfect read for fans of Trisha Ashley and Carole Matthews.

 

‘The Bookshop on Rosemary Lane’ can be pre-ordered from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bookshop-Rosemary-Lane-Ellen-Berry-ebook/dp/B01ARS8J0C/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1463939562&sr=1-1&keywords=ellen+berry

 

Interview with Zara Stoneley

Author Picture

Today I have an interview with Zara Stoneley, author of ‘Stable Mates’ and ‘Country Affairs’ for you.  Zara’s new book (the third in the Tippermere Trilogy) is coming out soon and I wanted to know more about it.

 

Can you tell me a bit about the type of books you write please?

One reviewer said ‘Think Bridget Jones in the Country’ which is pretty accurate! I like to think they’re a more modern take on Jilly Cooper books – less intense, with a lot more humour and strong independent women – but still lots of sexy men! I hope they make you laugh, cry, and cross your fingers for the perfect romantic ending. They’re set in the Cheshire countryside so there are stately mansions, dashingly handsome men, horses and dogs, but also footballer’s wives, celebrities and a good dollop of sex, secrets and scandals!

 

What’s your new book, ‘Country Rivals’ about?

Country Rivals is the third Tippermere book (but you don’t need to read the other books in the series to enjoy it – they are all standalone). After a fire at her ancestral home, Lottie’s wedding business has to be put on hold, and she desperately needs to find a new source of income – but she’s got bride-to-be’s on the warpath, a film crew causing mayhem, scandalous reports in the press, marital problems and family tragedy – so life is far from straightforward. The race is on to see if she can see through all the deceptions, come up with a plan, and work out what she really wants before it’s too late – and she loses her husband as well as her home.

 

When is it due out?

The ebook is out on 26th May 2016 (you can order it now), and the paperback on 11th August.

 

How long did it take you to write and was any research involved?

It’s taken about 6 months to write. I live in a village, and have always had horses and dogs, and know lots of wonderful characters ranging from competitive horse riders to farmers, and a nearby village is home to lots of celebs including footballers, so I didn’t need to do too much research! A friend of mine is involved with the Cheshire Polo Club, so I did go along to a few matches and chatted to some of the players.

 

Where did you get your ideas from for this book?

The initial idea for Country Rivals came from a real-life event – when a disgruntled guest at a function set fire to a country house hotel (which happened to be a castle) near here. In the second Tippermere book, Country Affairs, my heroine Lottie had set up a wedding business in her stately home (Tipping House) – I wondered what she’d do if this happened to her, if her business, and the means of keeping the family estate going, went up in flames? I then threw in a film crew (because there is so much filming goes on around here – check out the gorgeous Lyne Hall which was used for Pride and Prejudice for example), a man from Lottie’s past, some scandal (there is always lots of gossip in villages), and some emotional turmoil… and there you go!

 

What’s next for you writing wise?

My next book is a bit of a departure from my Tippermere books, its set in two locations – a UK country village and Barcelona in Spain. If you loved the film ‘The Holiday’, this could be the book for you! It’s already up for pre-order on Amazon and you can find it here.

 

Have you got any pearls of wisdom for anyone thinking of writing a book?

Know your characters before you start, set yourself deadlines and targets (even if it’s only 100 words a day), believe in your story.

 

Will you be doing any book signings?

I will – but I’m afraid dates aren’t finalised yet. I will be updating my Facebook page and website soon!

 

Describe a day in your life.

Coffee. Sit down and write at least 500 words. Breakfast. Write until lunchtime. Jog (this is new for me and I’m trying hard to keep it up!). Have a snack, catch up with emails and social media. Write any blog posts I’ve promised. Then mid-afternoon onwards I get back to my story and write until I run out of steam (which can be 6pm or late into the night!). At some point I fit in an evening meal and a TV break – which is when I tend to get more inspiration, so end up grabbing my laptop again.

If my son is home from Uni, or I’m in Barcelona with my husband, then mealtimes tend to be more rigid and I quit my desk mid-afternoon. We usually then go for a nice long walk along the beach.

 

Who are your favourite authors?

I’d hate to try and single out one or two as I do like to discover new authors. I love reading, my TBR pile is a dangerous thing, and I read all kinds – whatever suits my mood, sometimes a thriller, another day something light and funny, one day a full blown romance, the next a bonkbuster…

 

What three things could you not live without?

My family, coffee and something to write with.

 

Country Rivals eBook

Book Blurb

A hilarious, sexy rom com for fans of Jilly Cooper and Fiona Walker!

Dashing eventer Rory is ready to button up his breeches and settle down. His gorgeous wife, Lottie, wants a bank balance in the black so she can protect the beautiful family estate for future generations.

But with the wedding business at Tipping House going up in flames, and rumours that it was arson not accident, Lottie begins to wonder who she can trust with her future.

Tranquil Tippermere is under siege as movies moguls and insurance investigators invade the countryside, and as events gather pace rescue plans start to look too good to be true, and intentions may not be as honourable as they seem.

As a moody, but definitely marvellous, polo player enters the fray and squares up to the eventing hero of Tippermere, does Lottie stand to lose her husband as well as her home?

‘A great treat for readers…jam-packed with sexy men and horses.’ Bestselling author Fiona Walker

 

Author Bio

Zara was born in a small village in Staffordshire, educated in Cheshire, and went on to study at Liverpool University. After a successful career as an IT consultant, she decided to follow her heart and ran a dog grooming business for several years before becoming a full-time writer.

Her fun, romantic, romps draw on her experiences of village life, and her various love affairs with dogs, cats and horses. These days if she’s not at her laptop, you can usually find her trudging across fields on foot, or sat on the back of a horse.

Zara divides her time between a country cottage in Cheshire and an apartment in Barcelona. Her most recent novels include the popular Stable Mates, Country Affairs and Country Rivals.

 

Links

You can buy ‘Country Rivals’ from Amazon or visit Zara’s website to see all buy links.

And you can grab the other Tippermere books (all the books can be read independently) here –

Stable Mates’   –    ‘Country Affairs’    –     ‘A Very Country Christmas’ (FREE!)

 

Find out more –

Website     Twitter    Facebook    Amazon    Pinterest

 

‘You Must Be Joking’ by Douglas Gallagher

You Must Be Joking

I was thrilled when I received this book to review from Austin & Macauley Publishers Ltd as I love reading jokes.

‘You Must Be Joking’ looks at several different aspects of everyday life, everything from the office to the pub.  It even looks at the English language and the different ways in which words are misused.  This was one of my favourite sections, as was Pillow Talk.  There is also a test at the end of some of the chapters which adds to the entertainment.

They say laughter is the best medicine and this is certainly true of ‘You Must Be Joking’.  There are famous quotes, one liners and longer jokes throughout.  I have been going through a difficult and stressful time recently and this book has really helped me.  I read it from start to finish, but it’s also ideal to dip into if you just need a quick five minute laugh.

This is a book I will always treasure as I am sure to want to read it again soon, plus I am going to share some of the jokes with my family and friends.

If you are still looking for Christmas presents then this really is the ideal gift.

I give this book 5 out of 5.

 

For this and other great books visit Austin & Macauley’s site here:-

http://www.austinmacauley.com/

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