Guest Post

#BlogTour #GuestPost
Die Every Day by Gordon Bickerstaff
@GFBickerstaff @LoveBooksGroup #LoveBooksGroupTours

#BlogTour #GuestPost Die Every Day by Gordon Bickerstaff @GFBickerstaff @LoveBooksGroup #LoveBooksGroupToursTitle: Die Every Day

Author: Gordon Bickerstaff

Genres: Mystery/Thriller

Pages: 396

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

A woman is murdered in a Glasgow city hotel room. Police have everything they need to charge a suspect. Caught at the scene, he confessed, and he’s filled with guilt and remorse. With undeniable evidence; the police expect him to plead guilty.

Rumours suggest the man will plead not guilty and tell his story. If he faces trial, the truth will cause international outrage and the government will fall. Faceless mandarins in corridors of power are determined he will remain silent.

Lambeth Group agent, Zoe Tampsin, is ordered to make him plead guilty. What she discovers will crush her soul and place her next in line to be murdered.
Who is pulling the strings? What secrets are they hiding?  

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from the following link!

 

And now Gordon Bickerstaff with:

 

Unusual Characters

Unusual characters can add a quirky dimension to a book and one character with a life-saving role that I incorporated into my first book, Deadly Secrets, was the humble pineapple. It proved interesting and a number of readers contacted me to ask if the background information on the properties of the pineapple was true or fiction.

More than 500 years ago, Christopher Columbus ‘discovered’ the pineapple, which he received in exchange for trinkets from natives on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. Columbus tasted the fruit and instantly appreciated its commercial potential as a delicious fruit. He was also intensely intrigued by the medicinal uses claimed by the natives.

Columbus discovered they drank pineapple juice as an aid to digestion and a cure for bellyache, particularly when feasting on meat and women used it as a cleansing agent to improve the texture of their skin. Injuries, he discovered, were treated with pineapple flesh to promote healing.

Columbus was more interested in the claim by warriors that pineapple flesh promoted rapid healing when applied to wounds sustained in battle. It is now understood that the pineapple flesh can remove damaged skin tissue and kill bacteria to stop infection and provide a clean, smooth, wound. To Columbus, it was a miracle made for the military but it was a short-lived one. The pineapple had to be fresh and once cut, it soon rots. It wouldn’t travel.

In more recent times, biochemists have established an explanation for these varied uses; the pineapple plant is a rich source of bromelain, an enzyme that can degrade protein. It aids digestion by chopping food protein down to its building blocks, peptides and amino acids.

The natives of Guadeloupe used pineapple juice as an active ingredient for skin care lotions as the bromelain degrades dead or damaged outer layers of skin to expose the softer inner layers. They also used concentrated lotions to remove body hair because bromelain degrades keratin (hair protein).

In more modern times, doctors treating skin burns must first remove dead, charred and damaged skin to provide a clear foundation for a graft and frequently use a combination of surgical techniques and enzymes such as bromelain, which as the additional advantage of reducing accumulation of fluid and lowering inflammation.

Other studies have show that bromelain may be valuable in destroying protein blood clots, which cause heart attack and stroke as well as important anti-inflammatory properties for management of trauma.

With such great potential, why has it not been realized? Only large pharmaceutical companies have the money to undertake the detailed research that would reveal the benefits that can be found in pineapple, and there is no money to be made in showing that pineapple might have health benefits. For the time being, pineapple bromelain must remain an unusual character.

 

About Gordon Bickerstaff

Love reading, writing and reviewing thrillers, mystery, suspense.

I was born and raised in Glasgow but spent my student years in Edinburgh. On summer vacations, I learned plumbing, garden maintenance, and I cut the grass in the Meadows.

I live with my wife in the west of Scotland where corrupt academics, mystery, murder and intrigue exist mostly in my mind.

I have written six stand-alone crime thrillers (Lambeth Group Thriller Series): Deadly Secrets, Everything To Lose, The Black Fox, Toxic Minds, Tabula Rasa (clean slate) and Tears of Fire.

I enjoy walking, 60s & 70s music, reading and travel.

 

Thank you to Gordon Bickerstaff for being featured on my blog today!

 

#BlogTour #PromoPost
Vile by Keith Crawford
@keithcrawford77 @LoveBooksGroup #LoveBooksGroupTours

#BlogTour #PromoPost Vile by Keith Crawford @keithcrawford77 @LoveBooksGroup #LoveBooksGroupToursTitle: Vile

Author: Keith Crawford

Genres: Fantasy

Pages: 349

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Elianor Paine is a Magistrate of the Peace in the Kingdom of Trist and a republican secret agent. She has 6 days to subvert her investigation, supplant war-hero Lord Vile, then coerce his adult children to start a revolution, before her masters discover the truth and have her killed. Just how far is she willing to go? And can she change the world without changing herself?

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from the following link!

 

About Keith Crawford

Keith Crawford is a retired Navy Officer, a disabled veteran, a Doctor of Law & Economics, a barrister, a stay-at-home Dad, and a writer. He has written for collections of scholarly works, academic journals, and newspapers including The Economist. He has had more than thirty plays recorded or produced for stage, been listed in a variety of short story competitions (in spite of his hatred of short stories), and runs a radio production company, www.littlewonder.website, which regularly runs competitions promoted by the BBC to help find, develop and encourage new writers.
In 2014 he was lecturing at Sciences Po in Paris and negotiating a contract to write a book on banking regulation, when he and his wife discovered to their delight that they were due to have their first child. Rather than writing more work that would only be read by his poor students, and then misquoted by politicians, he decided he would do his bit to stick his fingers up at the patriarchy and stay home to look after his own kids rather than the grown-up kids of rich people. Two more children swiftly followed. Keith has discovered that if you recite Stick Man backwards you get the lyrics to AD/DC’s Highway to Hell.
This (looking after the kids, not satanic rites with Stick Man) allowed him to support his wife’s career, which appears to be heading for the stratosphere, and also gave him the space to write about swordfights and explosions. And spaceships. All of which are more fun than banking regulation. As an extension to his work in radio production, he set up his own small press, and his first novel, Vile, is due to be published in December 2019. More novels will swiftly follow, like buses in countries that don’t privatise the bus companies.

 

Thank you to Keith Crawford for being featured on my blog today!

 

#GuestPost #Q&A
Love is a Rebellious Bird by Elayne Klasson
@JKSlitpublicity

#GuestPost #Q&A Love is a Rebellious Bird by Elayne Klasson @JKSlitpublicityTitle: Love is a Rebellious Bird

Author: Elayne Klasson

Published by: She Writes Press on November 12, 2019

Genres: Women's Fiction

Pages: 336

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Who is it we love and why do we love these people? Toward the end of her life, Judith asks these questions, trying to understand why she chose Elliot Pine to love. Why, for sixty years, did she persist in loving someone who never gave as much as he was given? In her quest for understanding, she writes her story to this exceptional man. Meeting as children in Chicago, they move to opposite coasts. Elliot embarks on a remarkable legal career in Washington and New York while Judith raises her children alone in California, after tragedy. Coming together again and again throughout their lives, their love is never equal, Elliot defining the terms of the relationship.

 

“A beautifully written tale of enduring love by a master storyteller.”

— Jill G. Hall, author of The Black Velvet Coat & The Silver Shoes

 

And Now a Little Q & A with Elayne Klasson

 

Can you tell us where the title of this work came from?

The title comes from the opening line of The Habanera, the aria sung by Carmen in Bizet’s great opera of the 1870s. Flamboyant Carmen sings of how you can’t control love. When love does come, you may not want it. However,  “…you call him quite in vain if it suits him not to come…”. There is also a lyric in The Habanera saying “love has never, ever, known a law…” which is fitting and ironic as Elliot, the object of Judith’s love, is a prominent lawyer, for whom the law serves as a type of religion. This is actually the first and fourth title! I abandoned it originally after a friend in publishing dismissively said, “no one likes opera.” But then, after trying two other titles, went back to the original. I love opera. 

 

Why did you choose to write this novel in second person – to have Judith speak directly to Elliot?

I found that after the book was nearly complete, I questioned who Judith was telling her story to. I wasn’t happy with this being told to an anonymous audience. I thought Judith could finally be honest with Elliot by telling the story to him..addressing him even if there was a possibility he might not hear her. She had, for so long, been afraid to express her true feelings to him. If Portnoy hadn’t already done it so perfectly, I might have had it be in a long therapy session! 

 

Childhood love is often dismissed as naive, but Love is a Rebellious Bird follows lovers from childhood throughout their mature lives. Why do you think it’s important we discuss and acknowledge love at every stage of our lives?

I agree that childhood love is often dismissed. Yet, I think these formative relationships in pre-adolescent and teen years are crucially important to who we become and how we view ourselves in relationship to others. I am in such awe of Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend and the subsequent 3 books in her Neapolitan Quartet. She explores relationships formed in the character’s early years and how this put a deep mark on the women the girls in the quartet become. In Love is a Rebellious Bird, Judith had such admiration and adoration and compassion for Elliot as a kid, no one else could ever match up. She says in the novel that her feelings for him, even when they were young, become the definition of what love is. Similarly, the rejection she experienced from Elliot and others in their elementary and high school years, left marks on her, perhaps forever. I think the sometimes cruel rankings kids give each other, may stay with us. I went to my 50th high school reunion recently. It was a large Chicago high school and a surprisingly well-attended event. And while there were many surprises, the crowds and cliques were still firmly in place.

 

You have lived in a variety of locations over the years, from the midwest, to Barbados, to California. Has this sort of worldliness influenced your approach to writing or the way you understand your characters?

Perhaps the years in the midwest, the Caribbean, and northern and southern California has convinced me of the importance of our universal search for love. I’ve been a columnist in both the Caribbean and California, and it is obvious that everyone wants to be “seen” and understood through intimate relationships. I interview people for most of my columns and I know how much people (old, young, disabled, athletes, professionals, working class) want to be heard and how rarely we listen deeply to each other. I also know that coming into people’s lives at a particular age means we never get to know the person they were in earlier stages. My husband and I recently moved to a different area of California, four hours south of the previous town we’d lived in. I feel sad that no one really knows who we were earlier, just as I can only guess at the rich and juicy lives of the people we are meeting now who are in the later stages of their life (sixties, seventies, beyond). Who were the babes? The powerful men? What were the tragedies? The accomplishments? 

 

While this is your debut novel, you have extensive experience a columnist and journalist. What was your experience in this transition?

I have been writing fiction for twenty-five years. Plowing away at it. My idea was that if I kept writing, I’d keep getting better and eventually, I’d get read. I won a few awards, writer’s residencies, but got very little recognition. But I kept writing fiction because I love doing it. I love creating characters and populating a world with them. But novels take years to complete, and I live inside them. Writing columns and features is another matter completely. It allows me to finish something in a few hours and have that sense of completion and see it in print the next week. It also allows me to broaden my world by talking to real people..not just the ones in my head!

 

Do you find that your background in psychology and studying human behavior has aided you in your writing, especially your fiction writing?

I really do love talking to people and trying to figure out what makes them tick. The act of giving someone your undivided attention, is a successful one in both a therapeutic sense as well as in writing and in life. For years, I taught a university course called, “Frames of Reference,” in which I would lecture psychology students on the various therapeutic schools: analytic, behavioral, humanistic. But I always stressed that the most successful therapeutic method is to truly listen deeply, giving the person the honor of being really paid attention to. I think this works in newspaper interviews and in fiction writing. In fiction, I try to really listen to the character’s voice and what they might be saying and feeling. Sometimes the characters come from real life as I remember them, sometimes they are completely imaginary. But I try to listen respectfully.

 

“A deeply touching story that moves deftly through the decades to a sweet and graceful finale.”

— Carl Alasko, Ph.D., author of Beyond Blame and Emotional Bullshit (Tarcher/Penguin)

 

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links!

                             

 

 

Thank you to Elayne Klasson and JKS Communications for being featured on my blog today!

 

About Elayne Klasson

ELAYNE KLASSON is the author of Love is a Rebellious Bird. She went to university and graduate school in the Midwest—Ohio State University and the University of Michigan with a Masters of Public Health and then a PhD in Psychology. She has lived in Barbados, West Indies, first working as a health-care consultant with Project Hope and the U.N. in the Caribbean; then, several decades later, as a writer and columnist for the Barbados Daily Nation. Her professional career has largely been in academia at San Jose State University, with her research and clinical area of expertise being the severely mentally ill. A recent transplant to the Santa Ynez Valley, she is a popular lifestyle newspaper columnist. Elayne has also appeared on San Francisco public television as a restaurant critic. She is married to David, a scientist. Between them, they have five children, all grown.

#BlogTour #GuestPost
Tight Lies by Ted Denton
@UrbaneBooks @LoveBooksGroup #TedDenton #LoveBooksGroupTours

#BlogTour #GuestPost Tight Lies by Ted Denton @UrbaneBooks @LoveBooksGroup #TedDenton #LoveBooksGroupToursTitle: Tight Lies

Author: Ted Denton

Published by: Urbane Publications on July 4, 2019

Genres: Mystery/Thriller

Pages: 360

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Ted Denton’s explosive debut novel is an exhilarating action thriller pitching the privileged, seductive world of a professional sports agent against a backdrop of political double-dealing, corporate corruption and brutal violence.

A young Daniel Ratchet arrives in Spain to begin his dream job as a golf agent on the European Tour. In London, the Russian Rublex Corporation, with its history mired in ‘Vory‘ mafia criminality, is working on a huge gas deal off the Falkland Islands with the British government. Veteran civil servant Derek Hemmings is tasked to rubber-stamp the deal for the Foreign Office.

But things are not what they seem … With the help of Wallace, a cantankerous old golf coach, Daniel discovers match fixing, fraud and corruption on the Tour, all at the seeming behest of Rublex. A thorn in the Russians’ side, Daniel is kidnapped before he can expose the truth. Wallace, needing help, contacts an old army buddy who deploys violent loose cannon Tom Hunter on a mission to save him.

A tense race against time ensues, both to rescue Daniel from the clutches of the Vory and for Hemmings in Whitehall to prove that the deadly deal is corrupt. The stakes are high. As the body count mounts will the volatile Hunter reveal the truth or will he be too late?

Dead or alive, the truth always comes at a cost.

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from the following link!

 

And now Ted Denton with:

 

CHARACTER PROFILE

Tom Hunter is the violent protagonist of the Ted Denton thriller Tight Lies. A blunt instrument deployed by The Unit, a private kidnap-rescue organisation assembled by the shadowy Charles Hand who is known ubiquitously as the Hand of God, Hunter is a powerful, larger-than-life character to write. Relentless, honest, unpredictable, good humoured, violent and consistently flawed. He represents the extremes that can exist in all of us, serving perhaps as an exemplar of the fragility of the common human condition. As a consequence, there is a relished freedom that accompanies writing this character.  He is not afraid of the consequences of his savage actions nor ashamed by his often-puerile attitudes which may often be incongruous with a decent, moral and politically correct society. The writing can reflect this. Hunter is a visceral character. He is the anti-hero that the reader can at once find repellent yet remains inexorably drawn towards, unable to look away from, compelled to know more. He straddles the line of right and wrong and that incongruity can make the reader feel uncomfortable as they have to work to understand how they do actually feel about him versus the response that their own relationship with society demands of them.

Despite accepting what he is, at a base level, with an overt bloodlust and rampant carnal appetites for sex, drugs, coffee and alcohol, Tom has a ready, often self-depreciating sense of humour and underlying intelligence which belie the abhorrent machismo and unedifying sexist behaviour – for which there is no excuse given.

He wears his manifold mistakes and challenges with an uncurrent of bravado. Whilst Hunter displays self-awareness, embracing a relentless torrent of painful introspection through the recognition of his own personal demons, it cannot be said that he truly likes himself. Nevertheless, he embraces his fierce capabilities and understands what drives him. The deep contradictions that ride as an unwelcome passenger with all of us, however much we may battle against them, are evident in his ever-present discomfort with normality. Hunter is haunted by persistent waking nightmares left over from a life lived absorbed in so much violence, addiction, and of his true love brutally ripped from him as a consequence of his own bad choices. The disconnection he feels from belonging within a civilised society is exacerbated by his pervasive feeling that he doesn’t actually deserve that privilege. Instead Tom clings onto his sanity by his ragged fingertips and a pervasive belief that if he just keeps moving forward relentlessly and at least makes an attempt to show some signs of conventional social norms and interaction, then he might just get away with it unnoticed. Tom Hunter’s lust for extremes in all things is simply perpetuated by this overriding need to feel something relatable. To feel alive. The daily torment he endures from the terror of his retrograde memories may serve to generate the unwelcome illusion to him that he is already residing within a version of Hell itself. The physiological responses that he craves to pain, adrenaline and high octane risk-taking therefore, which are induced by the human body’s real-world stimuli and response mechanisms, serve to prove to Tom Hunter and to his sense of self, that he is still very much alive and kicking. And he is determined to make a dent in the world in order to prove that to himself.

 

About Ted Denton

Author Ted Denton was offered a bursary at an early age to serve as a commissioned officer within the British armed forces. Fascinated with both geo-political relations and bipartisan negotiation, Ted has engaged with international governments, political faculties and Non-Governmental-Organisations (NGOs).

Ted has forged an exciting career through his founding of a private international consultancy. He undertakes extensive global travel and exploration. Ted is passionate about writing, boxing and adventuring

 

Thank you to Ted Denton for being featured on my blog today!

 

#BlogTour #GuestPost
They Shoot Corpses, Don’t They?
by CS McLean @seasick_stu
@LoveBooksGroup #LoveBooksGroupTours

#BlogTour #GuestPost They Shoot Corpses, Don’t They? by CS McLean @seasick_stu @LoveBooksGroup #LoveBooksGroupToursTitle: They Shoot Corpses, Don't They?

Author: CS McLean

Published by: CS McLean on April 28, 2019

Genres: Mystery/Thriller

Pages: 224

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

An original blend of hardboiled crime fiction and horror –  Zombie Noir.

Pat O’Hare is the only (living) private detective in Farrelton, a crime-ridden city still recovering from the ravages of an undead uprising.  Pat is hired to find the missing granddaughter of a rich industrialist.  But, what starts out as simple enough job turns into a fight for survival as he finds himself pulled into a deadly mystery where nobody can be trusted.  Helped only by a trigger happy ex-cop and a washed up boxer with a pathological fear of trees, Pat has to use every trick in the book just to stay alive.

Caught between corrupt police, gun-wielding hitmen and a ruthless crime lord, Pat soon learns that the zombies are not the most dangerous creatures in town.

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy of this novel from your favourite retailer or from the following link!

 

 

And now CS McLean with:

 

TO RETREAT OR NOT TO RETREAT?

There are few things that split writers as widely as the subject of writing retreats.  For some – like Stephen King – they are to be avoided, partly because they give the impression that writing is something ‘special’ rather than an everyday activity.  For others, they are an ideal environment to boost your writing.

So, how did they become so controversial?  Well, I think it is a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy.  People that think retreats are a waste of time find them to be just that.  And those that expect them to be worthwhile get the most out of them.

I can only speak from my own experience. Having visited Moniack Mhor in the Highlands for a number of courses and retreats, I have always found them incredibly productive, and have always returned buzzing with energy for my next project.

One of the criticisms is that you focus all of your writing into a short period of time.  I’ve never found it to be that way.  I’ve always found that a writing retreat gives me an energy boost that lasts for a long time after I leave.  Also, in my day job I don’t know any writers.  If I tell someone I’m struggling with my main character’s story arc they look at me like my head just exploded.  So, to be surrounded by other writers who know what you are going through, it’s a treat, something that makes me feel like I’m actually a real human being instead of just some sad individual tapping at a keyboard while my cat looks on in judgement.

I do write most days.  I write wherever and whenever I can.  And I definitely don’t sit around waiting for the muse to come knocking. But, to have a period of a few days when you can focus your energy on your writing and nothing else, I can only say that it works for me.

Writing retreats are not for everyone.  But, if you are so inclined, I’ve found them to be a real source of inspiration.

 

About CS McLean

Stuart McLean (aka CS McLean) is a writer currently living in St Albans. He studied Chemistry at the University of Hertfordshire – although, this was back in the days when the Premiership was still called Division One and Hatfield was still a Polytechnic.

He was shortlisted for the first Margery Allingham short story competition, and was twice shortlisted for the Bloody Scotland short story competition.

Stuart was a finalist in the 2016 Bloody Scotland Pitch Perfect competition, in which he pitched his brand of zombie noir to a largely bewildered group of panellists. He was also chosen as one of the 2018 Bloody Scotland Crime in the Spotlight authors, a platform to highlight new and emerging crime writers.

When not writing, Stuart likes to play various musical instruments, all very badly; guitar, ukulele, trumpet and harmonica. But, not at the same time.

 

Thank you to CS McLean for being featured on my blog today!

 

#BlogTour #GuestPost
The Red Gene by Barbara Lamplugh #Barbara Lamplugh
@UrbaneBooks #LoveBooksGroupTours

#BlogTour #GuestPost The Red Gene by Barbara Lamplugh #Barbara Lamplugh @UrbaneBooks #LoveBooksGroupToursTitle: The Red Gene

Author: Barbara Lamplugh

Published by: Urbane Publications on April 18, 2019

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 360

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

When Rose, a young English nurse with humanitarian ideals, decides to volunteer in the Spanish Civil War, she is little prepared for the experiences that await her.

Working on one front after another, witness to all the horrors of war, she falls in love with a Republican fighter, Miguel. In 1939 as defeat becomes inevitable, Rose is faced with a decision that will change her life and leave her with lasting scars.

Interspersed with Rose’s story is that of Consuelo, a girl growing up in a staunchly Catholic family on the other side of the ideological divide. Never quite belonging, treated unkindly, she discovers at a young age that she was adopted but her attempts to learn more about her origins are largely thwarted.

It falls to the third generation, to Consuelo’s daughter Marisol, born in the year of Franco’s death and growing up in a rapidly changing Spain, to investigate the dark secrets of her family and find the answers that have until now eluded her mother.

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy of this novel from your favourite retailer or from the following link!

 

 

And now Barbara Lamplugh with:

 

FACT TO FICTION

I didn’t really think about writing fiction until I had children. My first two books were travel narratives, the first describing my overland journey by truck to Kathmandu in 1974, the second an account of my 1975 trip on the Trans-Siberian Railway and by boat to Japan. It was soon after I returned from that second trip that we decided to start a family, which obviously meant letting go of any ideas for more extensive travels – at least for the foreseeable future. But it didn’t mean goodbye to writing. I could conquer my addiction to travel (becoming a mother brought its own rewards) but I saw no reason to go cold turkey on my recently acquired addiction to writing. It would just have to be a different kind of writing.

I wrote my first novel while I was pregnant and carried on writing fiction throughout the years of bringing up my children. I love creating characters and a story, which fiction allows me to do. It involves the imagination in a way that travel writing doesn’t yet I can still use my descriptive, travel writing skills to build a setting that is both vivid and authentic. It seemed only logical to set my novels in Britain where the culture was familiar. After all, I’d been immersed in it all my life, absorbed it from birth.As it happened, none of those six novels was published – whether from bad luck, lack of persistence or because I was still honing my skills – but they served to keep my creativity alive and taught me some useful lessons.

When I moved to Spain in 1999, my previous travel writing experience came into its own again. I found work as a features writer for the English magazine Living Spainand also wrote occasional pieces for The Guardian. At the same time, I continued to write fiction. It took a few years but there came a point when I began to feel sufficiently connected with the culture of my adopted city and country to locate my writing as well as my life there. Secrets of the Pomegranate, my first published novel, was set in Granada, though the three main protagonists were English by birth. To write from the perspective of Spanish characters, whether historical or contemporary, presented a much greater challenge. It felt imperative that what I wrote should be authentic enough to convince Spanish as well as native English readers. But did I have the necessary in-depth understanding of the Spanish mind-set and culture, contemporary and historical? After all, I was an outsider here too.

In writing The Red Gene, I took on this challenge. After years living in a country, you get the flavour, the feel of how people think and speak, an insider’s familiarity with the culture. It’s more than just the landscape, the customs and habits, the daily routines; it’s something much more fluid and difficult to define, the psyche of a nation, shaped by its history. Of course, each of us is unique, the differences between individuals huge: it’s important to avoid generalisations and stereotypes. And perhaps I’m being a little arrogant in thinking that I’ve managed to capture this, even after twenty years. What I do know is that I now feel out of touch with life in my birth country. I’m not sure I could write convincingly any more of contemporary life in Britain. Cultures don’t stand still and some of the cultural references familiar to my family and British friends no longer mean much to me.

As I became more absorbed in my new country and learnt more about its recent history, had conversations with – in particular – older Spaniards, the story of The Red Gene began to form in my mind and eventually became compelling.

 

About Barbara Lamplugh

Barbara Lamplugh was born and grew up in London. An experienced traveller, she described her journeys in 'Kathmandu by Truck' and 'Trans-Siberia by Rail' published by Roger Lascelles. In 1999, spurred by the challenge of living in a different culture, she headed for Granada in Spain, where she still lives, inspired by views of hills and the Alhambra from her sunny terrace. A regular features writer for the magazine 'Living Spain', she has also written for 'The Guardian', 'The Times' and published her first novel Secrets of the Pomegranate in 2015.

 

Thank you to Barbara Lamplugh for being featured on my blog today!

 

#GuestPost #Excerpt
Postcard From Paris by Holly Willow
@HWAuthor

#GuestPost #Excerpt Postcard From Paris by Holly Willow @HWAuthorTitle: Postcard From Paris

Author: Holly Willow

Genres: Contemporary Romance

Pages: 327

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Paris is always a good idea…

When Poppy finds a postcard from Paris, sent by an aunt she didn’t know existed, she books a flight to France to investigate. Just days after arriving in Paris, she accidentally lands herself a job thanks to a case of mistaken identity. To complicate matters further, she soon starts to fall for her new boss. Falling in love with your boss is never a good idea and she knows it. But when he makes her an offer she can’t refuse, her heart just might win the battle against reason and logic.

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy of this novel from your favourite retailer or from the following link!

 

 

Excerpt:

In the past, I avoided shopping for clothes until I couldn’t put it off any longer. My sisters were huge believers in retail therapy. I had yet to experience the therapeutic effects of shopping. I felt as though that was about to change. Paris was already having an effect on me.  

I grabbed Selma’s spare keys from the hook she had mentioned in her note and made sure that the door was locked before hurrying down the stairs. I kept my eyes on my feet so I wouldn’t miss one of the narrow treads. That was why I didn’t realize there was an obstruction at the foot of the stairs on the second-floor landing. I had no idea there was something in my way until I barreled right into it at full speed.

The collision made me lose my balance. I was about to keel over the banister when the obstruction sprouted arms and pulled me back to safety. This arm-sprouting obstruction turned out to be a man. A very tall man with quick reflexes and a strong grip. His dark hair had threads of silver running through it and his eyes were a hypnotic shade of gray. Wolf eyes, I thought. The expression in those eyes suggested that he wasn’t in a good mood. This man, who had saved me from almost certain death or at least grievous bodily harm, was scowling at me much like Callum the artist had the previous day. It was a little disconcerting. Men in Paris appeared to take an instant disliking to me.

“Sorry,” I said, looking up at my savior. I wasn’t used to looking up at people. I was taller than many women and just as tall as most of the men I met. “I didn’t see you.”

“You’re late,” he declared with unconcealed irritation.

“Excuse me?”

“Don’t let it happen again,” he replied. Clearly, he mistook my question for an apology. “You were supposed to be here three hours ago.”

“Three hours ago,” I parroted in confusion.

“I made it very clear to the agency that I need someone punctual.” He bored his wolf eyes into mine. “I fired the last assistant they sent me because she couldn’t tell the time. And the one before her couldn’t speak English. You speak English, right?”

“Yes, I do,” I said. “I’m American.”

“So am I.”

His scowl deepened, which struck me as odd since it was imperative that his assistant could speak English. Of course, I wasn’t his assistant, but he didn’t know that. He was making an ass out of himself by making assumptions.    

Despite his irate expression, he was a good-looking man. If I was honest, he was the walking definition of rugged handsomeness with his strong features and chiseled, stubble-covered jaw. Judging a person by their looks wasn’t my style. I wasn’t often impressed by a man just because he had the kind of face that you couldn’t help ogling. But this man was undeniably attractive. It was an unavoidable fact that was staring me right in the face. I could only have escaped this fact if I was blind.   

Just as I was about to tell him that I wasn’t the person he was waiting for, he spun around and stormed into his apartment. I was going to have to follow him. I was tempted to continue down the stairs but he had saved me from tumbling over the banister and plunging to my death. Even though he had the personality of an ogre, I thought that I owed it to him to let him know I wasn’t the assistant from the agency. 

With a niggling sense of apprehension, I crossed the threshold and entered his apartment. It appeared to have the exact same layout as Selma’s apartment upstairs but his place was as tidy as hers was cluttered. His decorating style would have appealed to my mother. The hallway didn’t have a single piece of furniture, not even a coat rack, and the living room beyond boasted nothing but a black leather couch and a glass-topped coffee table.  

The man was nowhere in sight. At a loss, I came to a halt in the middle of the living room. I knew that the door on the right would take me to the kitchen and that the one on the left opened into the corridor leading to the bedrooms and bathroom. Which door was the irritated ogre hiding behind?

My question was answered two seconds later.

“Are you coming?” he called from somewhere down the corridor.

The irritation in his voice was loud and clear as church bells on a Sunday morning. 

Starting to get a little irritated myself, I followed the direction his voice had come from. I found him in the room that was my bedroom in Selma’s apartment. Down here, the room was utilized as a home office. Bookshelves lined the walls and a large glass-topped desk with chrome legs, which matched the coffee table in the living room, stood by the window. The chair behind the desk was, like his couch, clad in black leather. It was such an eyesore that I knew it had to be one of those ergonomic designs. Half a dozen tall stacks of paper covered by handwritten notations of some sort sat on the desk, crowding a laptop computer that looked like it was a relic from the early nineties.   

“Um,” I said, searching for the right words to explain the case of mistaken identity.

“I need you to type my handwritten pages into the computer and print them out when you’re done,” he growled without as much as a glance at me. He was now busy glaring at the laptop. “And I need you to be punctual. I expect you to be here at ten o’clock in the morning from Monday to Friday. You will leave at two o’clock in the afternoon. Make sure you leave at two o’clock exactly. I don’t want you around here after two. Is that clear?”   

“Um,” I repeated.  

It wasn’t like me to let the cat catch my tongue. His utter boorishness had thrown me. He was an utter boor. There was no other way to describe him. Except handsome.  He was a handsome utter boor.

“You can type, right?” He looked up and directed his critical gaze at me. “Punctual. English-speaking. Computer literate. These are the only skills I’m looking for in an assistant. I have been very specific with the agency. Very specific. But they sent me two useless girls in a row. And the three before them quit for no good reasons.”  

“I can type,” I said.

“Good,” he replied before I managed to get another word out of my mouth. “You can type. You can speak English. If you can learn to tell the time and remember that I’m on the second floor, not the third or fourth, then we won’t have any problems.”

I should have stopped him right there and then. I should have spoken up. I should have said, “Goodbye and good luck finding an assistant who will tolerate you for more than a day.” But I didn’t. Something stopped me. Perhaps it was the scent of a challenge. I had never been able to resist a challenge.

Five assistants had failed to complete the task of turning the veritable mountain of handwritten pages into neat printouts. I could be the one out of six assistants to conquer the Mount Everest of transcribing. Except I wasn’t an assistant. Still, the challenge called to me.

 

 

And now a note from Holly:

Postcard From Paris, as the title suggests, is set in Paris. My mother took me to Paris for the first time when I was five years old. I’ve been irrevocably in love with the city ever since that first visit. The architecture, the history, the ever-present air of romance, not to mention the food, never fails to thrill and enthrall me. Paris is entirely to blame/credit for Postcard From Paris.

The main character in the story, Boston born and bred Poppy Parker, gets thrown for a loop when the promotion she has been promised for two years is given to someone else. Meanwhile, her fiancé accepts a job offer in Hong Kong without consulting her and postpones their wedding. So when she finds a postcard from Paris with a message written by an aunt she didn’t know existed, she can’t think of a reason to not book a seat on the next flight to France.

Poppy has worn the dutiful daughter and supportive sister hat for as long as she can remember, the loyal employee hat for her entire professional career, and the patient fiancée hat since she started dating the man she is supposed to marry, a man who is already married to his job. It’s time for her to try some new hats on for size. In the process, she uncovers long-buried family secrets and a chance at true love if she is brave enough to take it.

Postcard From Paris was the first full-length novel I wrote. Soon after I finished it, I started working on Love By Chance and One Little Lie. They’re all complete stand-alone stories but they share a theme: finding out what you want in life and working up the courage to try and make it happen. Oh, and there’s romance too of course. 

 

About Holly Willow

Holly Willow has lived her life on the move since her early childhood. She grew up in stables in the Middle East and South East Asia, surrounded by horses, philandering polo players, and wonderfully oversharing expatriate housewives. Currently, she's bouncing around Europe. Growing up, if she wasn’t on horseback, she had her nose in a book. Characters in novels were her best friends. And ultimately she started creating her own.

 

Thank you to Holly Willow for being featured on my blog today!

#BlogTour #GuestPost #Giveaway
The Talisman – Molly’s Story by Eliza J. Scott
@ElizaJScott1 @rararesources

#BlogTour #GuestPost #Giveaway The Talisman – Molly’s Story by Eliza J. Scott @ElizaJScott1 @rararesources

#BlogTour #GuestPost #Giveaway The Talisman – Molly’s Story by Eliza J. Scott @ElizaJScott1 @rararesourcesTitle: The Talisman - Molly's Story

Author: Eliza J. Scott

Series: Life on the Moors #2

Genres: Contemporary Romance, Women's Fiction

Pages: 325

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Molly’s dream of taking over her childhood home at Withrin Hill Farm with husband Pip and their three children has finally come true. And, as they settle into the stunning Georgian farmhouse, with their plans to diversify into glamping nicely taking shape, the family couldn’t be happier.
But tragedy suddenly strikes, and Molly’s world is turned upside down.

Heartbroken and devastated, she struggles to face each day. True to form, her fiercely loyal best friends, Kitty and Violet, rally round offering love and support, but Molly doesn’t think she’ll ever be able to smile again. Until the day a tall, dark stranger with twinkly eyes arrives…

Follow Molly’s story in book 2 of the Life on the Moors Series set in Lytell Stangdale, a picture-perfect village in the heart of the North Yorkshire Moors, where life is anything but quiet.

A heart-warming story of love, friendship and hope.

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy of this novel from your favourite retailer or from the following link!

 

 

And now Eliza J. Scott with:

 

What I’ve Learnt Since Publishing My First Book

Hi there, What’s Better Than Books, it’s great to be on your wonderful blog and thank you for taking part in the Blog Tour for The Talisman – Molly’s Story. I thought I’d share what I’ve learnt since I published my first book – The Letter – Kitty’s Story – in June last year, so here goes:

One of the first things I realised after all of the publication day excitement had settled down, and I was ready to work on the outline I had for The Talisman, was that I would have to be more disciplined with myself in how I organised my time – something I regularly find myself rather short of. Unless my husband can help out, I have to take my daughter to school which is a 1½ hour round-trip, sometimes twice a day, so this can take a huge chunk out of my writing window.

Of course, it’s not just writing I have to squeeze into these precious hours, but I also have to manage my social media platforms, occasionally prepare blog posts and also market my book. Though, I have to say, I’ve met so many wonderful people on Twitter, and being a natural chatter-box, I find I can spend a considerable chunk of my time on there! Not that I’m complaining, the book community is so friendly, supportive and inclusive, and I’ve got to know lots of great people through it.

Since my time has become so precious, I’ve realised that I work better if I set myself targets, which I put into lists, so I can tick things off as I do them; it gives a sense of achievement and makes me feel much more organised. It seems to take the feeling of pressure off, too.

Marketing is something that I’ve learnt such a lot about since last June – and continue to do so. At first, I thought that being an indie-author was just about writing a book, publishing it and then sitting back, waiting for sales. Duh! How wrong was I? It didn’t take me long to realise that indie authors need to be constantly proactive in finding successful ways of advertising their books to potential readers, and then keep up with the changes that take place along the way. It certainly keeps you on your toes!

While I was preparing to publish the paperback of The Letter – Kitty’s Story, my old laptop was becoming so slow and lethargic. Everything seemed to take forever to get done on it – even the simple task of starting it up, took forever, which was incredibly frustrating. After just about tearing my hair out, I decided to take the plunge and treat myself to an Apple MacBook Air, and I can honestly say, it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made. This change also meant that I could download Vellum, the book formatting programme (0nly available for Macs), which, oh my goodness, is such a joy to use and has saved me heaps of precious time. And, here’s a little fact for you: I discovered that it was actually developed by two colleagues (both called Brad) who used to work for Pixar. With their skills, it explains why it’s so awesome!

So, there you are, I really feel I’ve learnt a lot since The Letter – Kitty’s Story hit the virtual shelves on Amazon last year, and can only imagine what I’ll learn after The Talisman – Molly’s Story is published.

Eliza Jxxx

 

About Eliza J. Scott

Eliza lives in a 17th-century cottage on the edge of a village in the North Yorkshire Moors with her husband, their two daughters and two mischievous black Labradors. When she’s not writing, she can usually be found with her nose in a book/glued to her Kindle or working in her garden. Eliza also enjoys bracing walks in the countryside, rounded off by a visit to a teashop where she can indulge in another two of her favourite things: tea and cake.

Eliza is inspired by her beautiful surroundings and loves to write heart-warming stories with happy endings.

 

Thank you to Eliza J. Scott for being featured on my blog today!

 

Giveaway:

Win The Letter – Kitty’s Story, chocolate and a clutch bag (Open Internationally)

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

*Terms and Conditions – Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box above.  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.

 

#BlogTour #GuestPost
Start by Graham Morgan #GrahamMorgan
@FledglingPress #LoveBooksGroupTours

#BlogTour #GuestPost Start by Graham Morgan #GrahamMorgan @FledglingPress #LoveBooksGroupToursTitle: Start

Author: Graham Morgan

Published by: Fledgling Press on October 10, 2018

Genres: Non Fiction

Pages: 256

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Graham Morgan has an MBE for services to mental health, and helped to write the Scottish Mental Health (2003) Care and Treatment Act. This is the Act under which he is now detained. 
Graham’s story addresses key issues around mental illness, a topic which is very much in the public sphere at the moment. However, it addresses mental illness from a perspective that is not heard frequently: that of those whose illness is so severe that they are subject to the Mental Health Act.
Graham’s is a positive story rooted in the natural world that Graham values greatly, which shows that, even with considerable barriers, people can work and lead responsible and independent lives; albeit with support from friends and mental health professionals. Graham does not gloss over or glamorise mental illness, instead he tries to show, despite the devastating impact mental illness can have both on those with the illness and those that are close to them, that people can live full and positive lives. A final chapter, bringing the reader up to date some years after Graham has been detained again, shows him living a fulfilling and productive life with his new family, coping with the symptoms that he still struggles to accept are an illness, and preparing to address the United Nations later in the year in his new role working with the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland.  

 

And now Graham Morgan with:

 

Inspiration for Start

When I was getting help from writerly friends as I wrote START, I had the occasional bit of advice about the chapters I included about Wendy; a slight “We know you love her, but you don’t need to make it too saccharine, too gushy and cloying!” And I do know that this was good advice but Wendy was the main inspiration for the most important chapters of the book and remains one of the main reasons why my life is currently such a good one.

I had lived a difficult life for a number of years which included a terrible break up of my marriage and estrangement from my son and had become used to admissions to hospital when I only wanted to die. Meeting Wendy, finding out that I could love again and be loved in turn woke me up, gave me a balance and an energy that was wonderful and also gave me a chance to get closer and closer to my family, made me aware of what people close to me have gone through by keeping me in their life for so many years.

At one point I was inspired by recording my story of what it was like to lose contact with my son, my possessions, my friends. I thought a man’s side of how people can treat each other at such times may be important but as time went by, I tempered this, took out some of the more blatant examples of what happened. I listened to people who said that I was not adding to the story, was maybe motivated by bitterness and anger, began to consider my own behaviour at that time and adapted what I was prepared to say publicly.

I remember a long walk to Lochinver on a hot summer’s afternoon, plagued by clegs and midges but delighted by the land, the sky, the hills, trees and rivers around me; slowly trusting the people I was walking with, with my worries about what I could say when telling my story, when it involves other people who may be more private than me. At that point I found some sort of slight resolution to the need to tell my version of whatever that truth might be. I began to believe that I have a right to tell some of my tale, but maybe not all of it. Which is partly why none of the people I talk of in the book have their real names recorded, apart from Wendy, and why some of the more shameful things people did were not in the final version of the book.

Lastly, apart from the wonderful inspiration and peace that living in the Highlands and latterly in Argyle, by the Clyde, has given me; has been the joy I have had in living with and working with so many people who experience mental illness. In this book I rarely say too much of their stories; maybe that will come in another book. This one is more my story, but their daily experiences, which are often similar to mine, weave themselves throughout it. I have spent my life trying to help my friends and colleagues and acquaintances speak out and bear witness to the gross injustices so many of us experience and those extreme ways of being and feeling or, for that matter, not feeling, that are so hard to describe and which I would so much love to be recorded.

I hesitate to define it properly; I want as much to record the indignity that trauma and mental illness causes; the terrible agonising loneliness and alienation that can come from the experience of mental distress and the reaction of our society to that distress. But also, in contrast, the joy and comradeship that has come when we have joined together as a community to make a difference both for ourselves and others who will experience mental illness in the future. To say that inspires me is an understatement; nearly all my friends have experienced mental illness, nearly all my working life has been working in partnership with them; their willingness to still see the good in other people, despite what has been done to them and what they have experienced in the way of sorrow and sadness, daily invigorates and inspires me.

 

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy of this novel from your favourite retailer or from the following link!

 

 

About Graham Morgan

Graham was born in 1963 in York. He went to university as an angst-ridden student and was quickly admitted to one of the old mental asylums, prompting the work he has done for most of his life: helping people with mental illness speak up about their lives and their rights. He has
mainly worked in Scotland, where he has lived for the last thirty years, twenty of them in the Highlands. In the course of this work he has been awarded an MBE, made Joint Service User Contributor of the Year by the Royal College of Psychiatrists and, lately, has spoken at the UN about
his and other peoples’ experiences of detention. He has a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia and has been compulsorily treated under a CTO for the last ten years. He currently lives in Argyll with his partner and her young twins. Start is his first book.

 

Thank you to Graham Morgan for being featured on my blog today!

 

#BlogTour #GuestPost
The Bloomsbury Affair by Anita Davison
@AnitaSDavison @aria_fiction

#BlogTour #GuestPost The Bloomsbury Affair by Anita Davison @AnitaSDavison @aria_fictionTitle: The Bloomsbury Affair

Author: Anita Davison

Series: A Flora Maguire Mystery #5

Published by: Aria on November 20, 2018

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 333

 

 

 

Synopsis:

1905 London is a heady mix of unimaginable wealth and simmering political tensions, and with war looming Flora Maguire wants to keep her family safe.

So when her beloved charge Viscount Edward Trent is accused of murder, she’s determined not to leave the investigation to the police. Flora has trodden the path of amateur sleuth before, but with so much at stake, this time it’s personal.

Slowly the body of the victim found stabbed on a train bound for Paddington starts giving up its secrets, and Flora and her husband Bunny become mired in a murky world of spies, communists and fraudsters. And with the police more sure than ever that Edward is their murderer, Flora must work fast to keep him safe.

Anita Davison’s compulsive story-telling, combined with the irresistible mix of historical drama and gripping mystery, make this unputdownable.

 

And now Anita Davison with:

 

The Positives and Negatives of Writing a Historical Series

When I began writing about Flora Maguire, my amateur sleuth, I intended it to be a standalone story. However once published, I received e-mails from readers asking me questions like: What happened to Flora’s mother? Will she ever see Bunny again? What is Edward like as a grown up? etc.

When I was contracted to write Books 2 to 5, I began to wonder if my characters’ pasts were interesting enough to impact on their futures? Apart from the unique mystery at the core of each book, how could I develop the characters so they were worth reading about in themselves?

I implied in the first book that Flora’s mother, Lily Maguire disappeared mysteriously when Flora was a child. An incident in her early childhood related to her mother haunted Flora, giving her unexplained dreams.  I carried this theme into the next story, and although some aspects were covered, what happened to Lily wasn’t fully explained.  I didn’t want to drag out the mystery too long, so the full story was revealed in Book 4, giving closure for both the reader and Flora herself.

A disadvantage of an accidental series, is that I gave one major character an upper-middle class nickname, which seemed a good idea at the time, but after four books, I began to regret it, although it was too late to change. Some of my readers love the name, while others find it puerile and annoying – but I’m stuck with it.

One of the challenges which face me in each successive novel, is to make sure the information I included in a later book doesn’t contradict an earlier one. Eye colour and appearance is straightforward, but things like personal idiosyncrasies need to be dealt with. Flora had a nervous habit of chewing the base of her thumb which she acquired as a child; a reaction to her nightmares about what happened to her mother. Later on, when her questions are answered and her nightmares stop, she doesn’t do it anymore. It occurred to me recently that I have rationalised this to myself, but maybe I should have explained it to the reader as well?

Also, if a character’s childhood was portrayed as happy and secure in Book 1, introducing some new trauma as a reason for not entering a lift, or a graveyard jars with the reader as they were unaware of this. Bunny is a self-contained, loving man with a progressive attitude to women. I discovered there were many more like him too, but to suddenly make him into a wife controlling misogynist would anger some of my readers who adore him; especially the ones who point out if he is missed from more than one chapter!

Technology did not change as quickly in the early 20thCentury as it does now. For instance, telephones were few and far between right up until after WW1, so I cannot have everyone calling each other all the time.  Fingerprints were in the very early stages of being used in criminal cases, first used to convict someone in 1902, so weren’t universally searched for or used.  Identification of blood groups, X-Rays and the use of motor cars were all in their infancy Most people still used horse-drawn vehicles and women who ate in public on their own were rare enough to be remarked open, even criticised. All this, while suffragists were marching on Parliament, but weren’t yet smashing windows in Downing Street. Getting the historical timeline right is imperative – as inaccuracies can spoil a good story.

In a murder mystery series, the focus is on the mystery itself, so the history of the characters takes second place. However, I’m aware readers like to read about those characters. How their careers progress, their relationships with parents, husband, how many children they have etc. I enjoy aging my characters, some by popular demand, for instance the thirteen-year-old boy who made an appearance in Book 1 reappears in a later book as a young man. Flora also had a child of her own, one who might even get to talk back if the series continues.

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy of this novel from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links!

                              

 

 

About Anita Davison

Born in London, Anita has always had a penchant for all things historical. She now lives in the beautiful Cotswolds, the backdrop for her Flora Maguire mysteries.

 

Thank you to Anita Davison for being featured on my blog today!

 

 

For more information on Aria visit them at:

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