Guest Posts

Book Review Log Book – Jennifer Gilmour

I am delighted to be welcoming the lovely Jennifer Gilmour back to my blog today with something a little different to her previous books. I will be telling you all about her Book Review Log Book in just a moment, but first let me hand you over to Jennifer who has kindly written a guest post on using creativity to raise awareness of domestic abuse.

GUEST POST:

I have always been a creative person but never had the opportunity to use it for something important. It meant that after school and college I didn’t really tap into my creative side that often, it was no longer needed to create art, write stories or even act.

When I was at University I ended up entering an abusive relationship and I was in that relationship for several years. Abuse is progressive but looking back I can see the subtle signs that lead to the control he had over me. He controlled my work life and sadly I gave up my studies at University, there were many factors to this but the fact I worked at the same place didn’t help. Things changed when I had children and we had to work different shifts, I was relieved as it offered space however after every shift I would arrive home to an interrogation. Things got worse when he found out I had given work colleagues a life after their shift as it was on my way home, he would refuse to sit in the car for 24 hours because they had sat in his seat. Eventually I reduced my working hours to just 4 hours a week and had hardly any money.

At the time a friend of mine was expecting and as a gift I decided to make a nappy cake, I was always creative so I thought I would give it a go. It followed with a friend of hers asking if I could make one for her for a fee, that’s when I opened up my first business and this was the key to my freedom. Despite why I set up the business it offered me the opportunity to be creative and I had so much enjoyment from this. At the beginning stages of a business you do everything and I enjoyed putting together graphics of my work.

The business gave me a focus and an excuse to be in the dining room away from him on an evening. I started networking with people online and grew my Facebook page to 4,000 likes in just over a year. I went to craft fairs and didn’t care that he wasn’t going to support me by looking after the children, I took them with me and juggled it all.

When I finally fled the relationship and moved back to my home town I spent time figuring out how I was going to go forward with my life. I was lucky enough to access support and I went onto a recovery programme called The Recovery Toolkit. This was a big turning point for me because I not only had all the tools to live my new life but I also discovered how common domestic abuse is (1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men). That was the moment I knew I needed to help raise awareness of domestic abuse and that was the start of my writing journey.

My first book was all about educating through a form of entertainment, Isolation Junction, because I knew I had to reach into people’s lives without the jargon. My creativity streak came back and I started to build my own website and raise awareness in different ways.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and each year I try to do something different, I’ve done an Instagram challenge, last year I lit Hull City Centre purple and this year I am tweeting each day what I have learnt since leaving. You can find me on Twitter and most social platforms as: @JenLGilmour.

At this point you are probably wondering how my latest publication ‘Book Review Log Book’ fits in with raising awareness. The book itself is a journal style and right at the back there is a nod to my domestic abuse publications and advocacy. It’s small but it’s still there, sometimes we don’t need to be blunt about it but subtle. In terms of awareness, it could reach more readers so you never know how one book can roll onto reading another.

I don’t think I will ever stop being creative in raising awareness of domestic abuse, TikTok has been my latest go to platform to express my lived experiences. I feel that it not only helps others but it helps me personally because even several years later I am still working my way through the triggers, flashbacks and loss. I am building my life up and I share my journey openly online.

BLURB:

Keep a track of your reading progress and your book reviews in one place:

  • Reading Goals
  • To Be Read List
  • Book Release Dates
  • Word Cloud
  • Your Reviews
  • Your Notes

PURCHASE LINKS:

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REVIEW:

Now, I snapped up a copy of this book the second I heard about it, and I am so glad I did. Of course, like any good notebook and journal hoarder, I am now too scared to write in it in case I spoil it. But, with enough space for a year’s worth of reviews, and a handy release date calendar, I have decided that this is going to be my “go to” book log for 2022. I even have new pens specifically for the purpose. It is a fab book with a wonderfully clear layout, and would make the perfect Christmas present for that special bookworm in your life.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jennifer Gilmour is an author and advocate for women in abusive relationships, using her own experiences of domestic abuse as a catalyst to bring awareness and to help others. Jennifer has published two publications, Isolation Junction and Clipped Wings which have both been Amazon Best Sellers and received awards. Jennifer speaks at events across the UK and continues to raise awareness through her blog posts, public speaking, radio interviews and social media.

Most Informative Blogger Award 2018 (Bloggers Bash Annual Awards)
UK & European Award for using Social Media for Good 2019 (Social Day: Social Media Marketing Awards)

Jennifer says: “Together we are Louder”.

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Guest Posts

The Legacy – Alison Knight

I am joined today by Alison Knight as part of the blog tour for her book, The Legacy. Many thanks to Alison for taking the time to talk to me, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to be a part of the tour.

BLURB:

An unexpected inheritance. A web of deceit. A desperate escape. 

London, 1969.

James has his dreams of an easy life shattered when his aunt disinherits him, leaving her fortune to her god-daughter, Charlotte. He turns to his friend, Percy, to help him reclaim his inheritance – and to pay off his creditors. But when their plans backfire, James becomes the pawn of Percy and his criminal associates.

Charlotte is stunned when she is told of her windfall. After an attempt at cheating her out of her inheritance fails, James tries to intimidate her. But she is stronger than he thinks, having secrets of her own to guard, and sends him away with a bloody nose and no choice but to retreat for now.

Resigned, James and his spoilt, pampered girlfriend, Fliss, Percy’s sister, travel across France on a mission that promises to free James from the criminals for good. But James isn’t convinced he can trust Fliss, so he makes his own plans to start a new life.

Will James be able to get away, or will his past catch up with him? Will Charlotte’s secrets turn the legacy into a curse?

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The Legacy Cover

GUEST POST – ADAPTING A STORY TO FIT A DIFFERENT AGE:

I think it was laziness on my part that led me to write contemporary fiction when I started my writing career. I thought it would mean I could get away with little or no research, although I soon learned you still need to get your facts right. But after having two contemporary novels published, I had a great idea for a time-travel story, where a twenty-first century girl falls through time to the Blitz in London. I had great fun, writing about how a girl who is used to having a mobile phone, lattes and hot showers copes with rationing, tin baths and bombing raids. I based a lot of what happened to her on stories of my own family at that time but also needed to do a lot of research.

Family stories are great inspiration

This led me to my fourth book, Mine, which is based on real events in my family in the late 1960s. Even though I was there at the time, I needed to supplement my childhood memories with some serious research, from reading court files to checking the names of players in the Millwall football team.

An expected gift

My new book, The Legacy, Is also set in the 1960s and follows the fortunes of James and Charlotte when they receive an unexpected legacy. This time, my research included the influence of organised crime on the gambling industry, train routes across Europe and house prices in Chelsea from 1967 to 1969.

Mind your language

It can be tricky, writing about a time within living memory. It’s easy to forget that words and phrases we use now didn’t mean the same thing then. For example, gay meant happy, and a cappuccino was a frothy coffee in the sixties.  It’s also important to remember that attitudes and opportunities are very different today.

It’s different now

I wonder how different my 1960s stories would be if I made them contemporary? I’m not sure I could translate them. What led to a tragedy and disaster in the 1960s has become every-day in the 2020s. Illegitimate children, extra marital affairs, gambling debts and same-sex relationships are still commonplace, yet the repercussions of these were very different just over fifty years ago.

Trolling, sixties-style

If I were to bring my characters from The Legacy forward in time to today, I think the tone of the book could be much darker. James is a spoilt, arrogant man who has lost one fortune and is relying on his aunt’s legacy to bail him out, only to find that she has left the inheritance to Charlotte instead. He has built up huge gambling debts in West End casinos, encouraged by his friends and the criminals who ran the casinos. There’s every chance he would have gambled away even more money in today’s world of online gaming and been labelled a gambling addict.

In dire need of money, James tries to discredit Charlotte so that he can claim the legacy. He succeeds in disrupting her life, but the effect is limited in an age before the internet. If the same were to happen today, James would probably be an online troll who could wreak havoc in Charlotte’s life and all of that vitriol would be available online forever.

Between a rock and a hard place

When James doesn’t succeed in getting the money from Charlotte, he is given an impossible choice by his creditors and he is pulled into a criminal scheme. As he travels through Europe he is able to evade capture thanks to the lack of computerized information. Today, he would be quickly tracked through his mobile phone, credit card payments, border crossings and even CCTV sightings.

Guarding her secrets

On the other hand, while Charlotte is a law-abiding soul, she is guarding secrets about people in her life. She needs to protect their reputations against society’s disapproval. Revealing them could have dire consequences. But if she were in the same situation in the 2020s, these so-called terrible secrets would make no difference at all and could not harm anyone. It would take away the drama of the story.

So, The Legacy is firmly entrenched in the 1960s, with all it’s flaws and joys because it just couldn’t be the same story if it happened today.

What’s next?

For my next book, I’m taking my readers to the US in the early 1970s, again before mobile phones, computers and microwaves. But I’ll be exploring the very modern theme of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which didn’t even have a name then. Maybe after that I’ll think about writing a story set in a post-Covid world, but let’s see what that looks like first, eh?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

The Legacy - april 2021 head shot Alison KnightAlison has been a legal executive, a registered childminder, a professional fund-raiser and a teacher. She has travelled the world – from spending a year as an exchange student in the US in the 1970s and trekking the Great Wall of China to celebrate her fortieth year and lots of other interesting places in between.

In her mid-forties Alison went to university part-time and gained a first-class degree in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University and an MA in the same subject from Oxford Brookes University, both while still working full-time. Her first book was published a year after she completed her master’s degree.

The Legacy is a drama set in 1960s London. Like her previous book, Mine, it explores themes of class, ambition and sexual politics, showing how ordinary people can make choices that lead them into extraordinary situations.

Alison teaches creative and life-writing, runs workshops and retreats with Imagine Creative Writing Workshops(www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk) as well as working as a freelance editor. She is a member of the Society of Authors and the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

She lives in Somerset, within sight of Glastonbury Tor.

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Guest Posts

Pixeldust – T.K. Arispe

As part of the blog blitz for Pixeldust, I am handing you over to T.K. Arispe today who is sharing their guest post, “When is a villain not a villain?” Many thanks TK for taking the time to talk to everyone, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of the blitz.

BLURB:

Maria Elena thought she’d sworn off gaming forever. But she hates her new internship, so her brother Balt convinces her to play Heroes of Avonell, a cutting-edge virtual-reality video game with such complex programming that it’s like the non-player characters are self-aware.

Disappointed with the usual cliché job class offerings, Maria Elena’s character Quinny stumbles through a glitch in the game and ends up in Caed Dhraos, a strange city populated with friendly monsters. Quinny decides to work for the resident dark lord as part of his magic personnel, but she can’t tell anybody she’s playing in off-limits areas of the game—not even Balt. Soon Quinny finds herself getting to the bottom of a mystery surrounding an ancient demon and why Caed Dhraos is suffering from the Blight.

But the artificial intelligences in the game really are self-aware, and some of Avonell’s so-called “heroes” have decided they don’t like humanity very much. The game has gone out of control, and Maria Elena and her new friends have to find a way to set things right. Can she save Avonell – and Earth – while juggling her real job and trying to salvage her crumbling relationship with her brother?

Pixeldust is a dive into a fantastical, fun virtual world where the universe may be made of data, but the dangers, friendships, magic, and lessons learned are very real.

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Pixeldust cover

GUEST POST:

Please note, this guest post contains spoilers for Pixeldust.

Growing up, I never rooted for the villains, but I sure felt sorry for them. So much wasted potential, I thought. I mean, villains are usually powerful and skilled—they have to be, in order to present a satisfying challenge for the heroes. It seemed like such a shame to me to have all of those good qualities go to waste, especially when the villain met their end in the climax of the plot. Or, arguably worse, when the villain was redeemed and then immediately died afterward, because obviously once a character has had a change of heart there are no more directions you can go with them. (cough Darth Vader cough)

Whenever I read a book, watch a movie, or play an RPG, I want everybody to win. I want the heroes to be okay. But I also want the villains to be okay. They need help, too. I always feel that twinge of sadness when I get those experience points for vanquishing someone who could have been a cherished friend and powerful ally.

Those thoughts were swirling around in my head when I drafted the character arc for Lord Zaragoz, the villain who doesn’t know he’s a villain. He doesn’t even know he’s a video game character or that his memories are false. Before he meets Quinny, as far as he’s concerned, he has to protect and provide for his subjects, and he has a hungry demon to appease. If that means invading other kingdoms to steal their pixiedust, so be it. Especially because his people were originally driven out of those kingdoms simply for being different, so there is no love lost there.

At first, Quinny doesn’t know Zaragoz is the villain, either. But when she finds out, she’s devastated—not necessarily for her sake, but for his. By that point he has become a good friend to her, and the last thing she wants is for him to be antagonized by all of the other player characters and the “hero” non-player characters. She is willing to put aside his technical role in the game, and focus on the person he is and the person he could be if he started making better choices.

And Zaragoz, to his credit, believes in himself in the same manner. Upon learning the truth about himself, he rejects his villainous role and tries to make things right, and he ends up becoming one of the heroes of the story when the game’s “actual” heroes make some very unwise and selfish choices and put everyone in danger.

After that, I did not callously dispose of Zaragoz simply because his character arc had wrapped up. He deserved better than that. So I had him use his powerful end-boss magic to make his world real, and he became one of its benevolent rulers. He had proven to everyone that he and his people had just as much place in their world as the “prettier” characters, he had chosen his own path and stuck to his integrity, and he got his just reward for his ultimate heroism.

So Zaragoz is really a stand-in for what I wish I could do for every other villain. Villainy is not a permanent status, but a plot construct. Usually, in order to have a conflict you have to have someone opposite the protagonist driving that conflict. But there are clearly other ways to resolve the conflict than by getting rid of the antagonist. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we lived in a world where everyone was helped rather than hated?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Pixeldust Author very realistic icon versionT.K. Arispe is an illustrator, gamer, and unashamed nerd with a background in animation and webcomic production, including the webcomic Trainer Wants to Fight! which somehow got its own page on TVTropes. She loves interesting stories, well-crafted worlds, and memorable characters, and is passionate about creating quality, intelligent, slightly offbeat media that everyone can enjoy. Most of her story ideas come from random research binges, usually in the fields of theoretical physics, computer science, or oddly enough food history. She lives in California, where she enjoys not having to deal with snow because it is terrifying.

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Guest Posts

Locks – Ashley Nugent

Today I have the privilege of hosting Ashley Nugent, author of Locks, talking about the hero’s journey. Many thanks to Ashley for taking the time to talk to me, and to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of the blog tour for Locks.

BLURB:

“1993 was the year that Stephen Lawrence got murdered by racists, and I became an angry Black lad with a ‘chip on his shoulder’.”

Aeon is a mixed-race teenager from an English suburb. He is desperate to understand the Black identity foisted on him by racist police, teachers, and ‘friends’. For want of Black role models, Aeon has immersed himself in gangsta rap, he’s trying to grow dreadlocks, and he’s bought himself some big red boots.

And now he’s in Jamaica.

Within days of being in Jamaica, Aeon has been mugged and stabbed, arrested and banged up.

Aeon has to fight for survival, fight for respect, and fight for his big red boots. And he has to fight for his identity because, here, Aeon is the White boy.

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Locks Cover

GUEST POST:

After completing the first draft of LOCKS, in 2013, I picked up a book I’d been meaning to read for a while: The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell. In it, Campbell describes the narrative arc he noticed as a recurring theme in myths and religious stories. The hero’s journey, as he called it, dates back to antiquity and is prevalent throughout the world.

This blew my mind for a number of reasons: because it seemed so incredible that we’d been telling the same story the whole time; moreso, because the idea felt so right to me; but mostly because I’d just written a hero’s journey without any prior knowledge of its existence. And, if that wasn’t incredible enough, LOCKS isn’t a story I picked out of the ether; before writing LOCKS, I lived it.

I hurried back to my manuscript and scanned the whole thing. Amazing! Not only were all of the stages described by Campbell there in the story I’d written (and lived), they were even narrated in perfect order, step by step.

I have since come to recognise the hero’s journey myth as it is disseminated in contemporary western culture through comic books, science fiction movies, novels and so on. Popular examples include Marvel, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Frozen, Wonder, and The Hunger Games.

For those who aren’t familiar with the theory, here’s a breakdown: The protagonist is prompted to leave the ordinary world behind and go on a journey. They either refuse or society tries to stop them. Then they meet a wise mentor who guides them over the threshold and into the world of the adventure. Once there, they have to work out who are their friends and who are their foes. They prepare for a big battle which culminates in their death (real or metaphorical). Coming back from the darkness, they seize their newfound power and return back home to make the world a better place.

So, how would it come to be that we all tell this story? And why is it so powerful that it’s inspired us throughout the millennia? And how could it be that I lived a mythical narrative I’d never even heard of?

To answer my first question is to answer my third question. We all connect with this narrative because we all live it. It is, in its simplest form, the story played out in the firmament: every 24 hours the sun lives, dies, and is reborn. The moon plays out a more protracted version every month. And the plants and animals that die so that we may live all go through the cycle. And this happens everywhere, for everyone. Moreover, we all face challenges that take us over the threshold: coming of age, marriage, childbirth, a new school, a new job, divorce, sickness, loss. And those who do their best, seize their power, and then use it to make the world a better place; they are the ones to be revered – the real heroes.

And so to my second question: why is the hero’s journey so powerful? People have told this story to each other around the campfire as a guide, as a moral compass, and to offer hope in times of despair. And we have found no better way of telling a story that achieves those ends. And once a story becomes so prevalent it resonates in and all around us. It is not only in the mouths of our parents and their parents ad infinitum, it’s also in our dreams, and in our genes.

I lived a hero’s journey when I was stabbed, mugged, imprisoned, and, finally, forced to flee Jamaica in 1993. It is now the subject of my first book, LOCKS.

And sat here now, in January 2021, trapped in another lockdown, I am prompted by yet another opportunity to embark on a hero’s journey. Will I dare to venture into new realms, to leave old, tired patterns of behaviour behind, to shed my skin and emerge with a power great enough to change my world?

The likes of Joseph and I may be wrong, of course. Maybe we have no such universal narrative. But what we definitely do have is choice in how we interpret the world. To quote Negus, a character from LOCKS: “Some people say all story are different. But I suppose it just depend on perspective – some are always seeking difference; some are always seeking the unity in all tings.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Locks Author Headshot 2020 6Ashleigh Nugent has been published in academic journals, poetry anthologies, and magazines. His latest work, LOCKS, is based on a true story: the time he spent his 17th birthday in a Jamaican detention centre. LOCKS won the 2013 Commonword Memoir Competition and has had excerpts published by Writing on the Wall and in bido lito magazine. Ashleigh’s one-man-show, based on LOCKS, has won support from SLATE / Eclipse Theatre, and won a bursary from Live Theatre, Newcastle. The show has received rave audience reviews following showings in theatres and prisons throughout the UK. Ashleigh is also a director at RiseUp CiC, where he uses his own life experience, writing, and performance to support prisoners and inspire change.

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Guest Posts

Dark Memories – Liz Mistry

I am delighted to be welcoming Liz Mistry to my blog today to talk about killing off her characters, as part of the blog tour for her book Dark Memories. Many thanks to Liz for taking the time to talk to us, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of the tour.

BLURB:

Three letters. Three murders. The clock is ticking…

When the body of a homeless woman is found under Bradford’s railway arches, DS Nikki Parekh and her trusty partner DC Sajid Malik are on the case.

With little evidence, it’s impossible to make a breakthrough, and when Nikki receives a newspaper clipping taunting her about her lack of progress in catching the killer, she wonders if she has a personal link to the case.

When another seemingly unrelated body is discovered, Nikki receives another note. Someone is clearly trying to send her clues… but who?

And then a third body is found.

This time on Nikki’s old street, opposite the house she used to live in as a child. And there’s another message… underneath the victim’s body.

With nothing but the notes to connect the murders, Nikki must revisit the traumatic events of her childhood to work out her connection to the investigation.

But some memories are best left forgotten, and it’s going to take all Nikki’s inner strength to catch the killer…

Before they strike again.

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Dark Memories_FINAL

GUEST POST:

Why I Sometimes Kill Good Characters.

I remember reading JK Rowling’s last Harry Potter novel and getting to the point (SPOILER ALERT!!!!) where Dobby the House Elf dies. I was in tears and was really affected by the death of this brave quirky and loveable character. I was sooooo angry that Rowling had done it …. Then … I realised that it had to be done. Dobby had to die for many reasons and as a writer, I realised that sometimes making the hard choices are the best for the story.

In the Dobby instance, Dobby’s death allowed the reader to connect wholeheartedly with the raw emotion involved in grieving. It made us angry and exposed the Dark Arts for the evil they are. It also gave us more insight into the characters affected by the death and it was a tool to make us even more firmly on board with the good wizards. Dobby’s death also reflected the reality of life and death; Good people die and sometimes bad people get away with it … if we, as readers, want to run the whole gamut of emotions and really engage with the narrative then sometimes the authors decisions will be unpalatable.

In my Gus McGuire series, I have killed off a few characters that I liked and was emotionally attached to and again in Dark Memories (Book 3 of my Nikki Parekh series) I chose to kill off one of the good characters. It is never an easy decision to make, but sometimes it is the only way forward for the series or the narrative. When I kill off a loved character, I often cry and suffer from a minor form of grief. When a character is dear to the author they become a friend and part of the tapestry of the writer’s life. Writing their death can be traumatic, but that trauma is offset by the knowledge that it will open up countless possibilities for future narratives.

So, here’s three reasons why it’s healthy to make the final cut on a well-loved character.

  1. Sometimes, for the author, although the character is loved, they may have come to the end of their usefulness in terms of future storylines. They may have to be side-lined in order to allow a new character to emerge. This was definitely the case when I killed off a much loved character in Uncommon Cruelty. I had a new character in mind and that new character wouldn’t let go. The problem was that I had to choose between them and so my existing character had to go.
  2. Often the character being killed off is a way of allowing a detailed exploration of the main character’s emotions through their connection to that character. It’s a way of making existing characters more three-dimensional and sometimes it can be the catalyst for erratic behaviour – it helps push the remaining characters in different directions and allows the author to really turn the screws on the characters which of course leads to dynamic scenes and often opens characters up to new experiences. It also provides the element of surprise for the reader when a character acts out of character.
  3. I use it as a way of exposing the fight between Good and Evil, which is what any good crime fiction is about. It makes things real for the reader. After all life isn’t always a bed of roses its it? There are always thorns in that bed and it’s when those thorns pierce the readers heart that the author has done their job well. The connection between reader, characters and author is tenuous – it lasts for the duration of the novel, but if it is to linger in our readers’ thoughts for a while, then we as authors sometimes have to make difficult decisions.
  4. The evolution of the series is also a reason for deleting a character permanently from the series. Whilst I sometimes retire characters on a temporary basis because I have plans for them in the future, likewise, I sometimes make the decision to end a character in order to provoke future storylines. We all know there are consequences for every action and sometimes those consequences make future storylines or character development stronger.

Thanks so much for reading this guest post and if you read and enjoy Dark Memories, I’d love to hear from you.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Dark Memories lizplusmistry_upscaled_image_x4-1Born in Scotland, Made in Bradford sums up Liz Mistry’s life. Over thirty years ago she moved from a small village in West Lothian to Yorkshire to get her teaching degree. Once here, Liz fell in love with three things; curries, the rich cultural diversity of the city … and her Indian husband (not necessarily in this order). Now thirty years, three children, two cats (Winky and Scumpy) and a huge extended family later, Liz uses her experiences of living and working in the inner city to flavour her writing. Her gritty crime fiction police procedural novels set in Bradford embrace the city she describes as ‘Warm, Rich and Fearless’ whilst exploring the darkness that lurks beneath.

Struggling with severe clinical depression and anxiety for a large number of years, Liz often includes mental health themes in her writing. She credits the MA in Creative Writing she took at Leeds Trinity University with helping her find a way of using her writing to navigate her ongoing mental health struggles. Being a debut novelist in her fifties was something Liz had only dreamed of and she counts herself lucky, whilst pinching herself regularly to make sure it’s all real. One of the nicest things about being a published author is chatting with and responding to readers’ feedback and Liz regularly does events at local libraries, universities, literature festivals and open mics. She also teaches creative writing too. Now, having nearly completed a PhD in Creative Writing focussing on ‘the absence of the teen voice in adult crime fiction’ and ‘why expansive narratives matter’, Liz is chock full of ideas to continue writing.

In her spare time, Liz loves pub quizzes (although she admits to being rubbish at them), dancing (she does a mean jig to Proud Mary – her opinion, not ratified by her family), visiting the varied Yorkshire landscape, with Robin Hoods Bay being one of her favourite coastal destinations, listening to music, reading and blogging about all things crime fiction on her blog, The Crime Warp.

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Guest Posts

A Remedy In Time – Jennifer Macaire

I have the honour of welcoming Jennifer Macaire to the blog today, as part of the blog tour for her book, A Remedy in Time. Many thanks to Jennifer for taking the time to talk to me, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of the tour.

BLURB:

To save the future, she must turn to the past . . .

San Francisco, Year 3377. A deadly virus has taken the world by storm. Scientists are desperately working to develop a vaccine. And Robin Johnson – genius, high-functioning, and perhaps a little bit single-minded – is delighted. Because, to cure the disease, she’s given the chance to travel back in time.

But when Robin arrives at the last Ice Age hoping to stop the virus at its source, she finds more there than she bargained for. And just as her own chilly exterior is beginning to thaw, she realises it’s not only sabre-toothed tigers that are in danger of extinction . . .

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Headline

A Remedy in Time - macaire_remedy in time cover

GUEST POST:

In our family, the women have the reputation of being witches. It started with my great-grandmother, who used to put curses on things. She cursed a reservoir and it dried up. Because witchcraft is seen as something bad, we don’t talk about it much. But it has always been present in my life. I have no particular talents, I can’t fly on a broomstick, I can’t heal with my hands. I can’t see anything in the crystal ball my sister gave me for my wedding. But I can cast the cards, and about once a month I’ll sit down with the tarot deck my father gave me on my 14th birthday, and I’ll read the cards. It’s just for fun, although sometimes (often), I’ll ask questions about things that worry me – will my son pass his exam? Will my daughter like her new school? Will my husband’s heart valve operation go well? And the cards tell me, in their own way. Or perhaps it’s just my mind reading patterns and finding the answers. However, for months now, things have been strange with the cards. I keep getting the same ones.

I always ask the cards a vague question – a sort of “How are things in the world?” and of course, I’m thinking about Covid-19, right? And this is what I’ve been getting: We were woefully unprepared (the 7 of wands) and the worst is right over our heads (the 10 of swords), but when it all dies down, there will much rejoicing (the 3 of cups) and it will include people from all over the world (the 5 of wands).  However, in order to get there, we we have to overcome individualism (6 of wands reversed) and work together. There will be a lot of deception and fake news (the 7 of swords). There were also the 9 and 10 of pentacles – two cards representing wealth – but the ten of pentacles was reversed, which represents the dark side of wealth, financial failure or loss. There are many, many people who will lose money. But there will be those who profit from the situation. It is going to be very important to share the wealth in the years that come, so that there is not a total collapse of government. The main card for this reading was the Hanged Man, which is the card of ultimate surrender, of being suspended in time, and of martyrdom and sacrifice to the greater good. The hanged man also represents a search for wisdom – and in this case I think we can say it’s representing not only the scientists searching for a cure, but the people working tirelessly in health care as well.

Anyhow, all that is just cards on a table. I’m far too imaginative for my own good, which is how I came to be sending one of my hapless (though certainly not helpless!) characters into the far past to collect samples from sabretooth tigers in order to help stop a pandemic! I wrote the story long before Covid-19 hit, so it wasn’t at all inspired by that. It’s just a coincidence – like the cards getting mixed up and dealt – and seeing patterns in things that may or may not be there! If you like action and adventure, romance, and a dash of danger, please do check out “A Remedy in Time”, I hope you enjoy it!

Happy reading!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

A Remedy in Time AuthorJennifer Macaire lives in France with her husband, three children, & various dogs & horses. She loves chocolate, biking, & reading. She grew up in upstate New York, Samoa, and the Virgin Islands. She graduated from St. Peter and Paul high school in St. Thomas and moved to NYC where she modeled for five years for Elite. She went to France and met her husband at the polo club. All that is true. But she mostly likes to make up stories.

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GIVEAWAY:

Win a $25 Amazon Gift Certificate (Open INT)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter link below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves 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 Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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Guest Posts

A Taste of His Own Medicine – Linda Fawke

My second guest today is Linda Fawke, author of A Taste of His Own Medicine. As part of the birthday blitz for this book, I have the honour of sharing a short story that Linda has written. Thank you so much Linda for sharing this with me! Thanks also to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of the celebrations.

BLURB:

How long can the desire for revenge last?

Kate Shaw, a successful pharmacist, goes to a thirty-year reunion at her old university and uses the weekend to settle some old scores. Her main target is her ex-lover, Jonathan. She decides to scar him for life as he scarred her. Her bizarre plan works but he shocks her with his strange, unwanted reaction.

What is the unexpected link between Jonathan and Kate’s husband?

What is the significance of the ‘Love Bite’ photograph?

What hold does Jonathan have over Kate?

Revenge is never simple.

A darkly humorous story of love, lust, loss and vengeance.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

A Taste of Hiw Own Medicine Front cover

GUEST POST:

The Unexpected Disappearance of Arnold Harris

Linda Fawke

‘…so Dinky Dinosaur nursed his foot and decided he would never run away again.’

Arnold looked up at the faces around him and closed the book. The children clapped. Story-time at the library was fun. Or was it? He was tired of being the entertainer. Was he even that? Routine readings of his own books, written years ago. Once, he thought they were original, had a spark about them. His publisher said he had a good descriptive talent but either over-familiarity or simple truth made him doubt it now. An ageing children’s writer, no JK Rowling. His writing income was insufficient to live on so he did part-time jobs as a handy-man.

On the bus going home, he spotted a magazine that had slipped down beside the seat. A man’s magazine. Top shelf stuff he never bought. He slid it into his briefcase for later.

He wasn’t shocked. No, he thought, neither shocked nor embarrassed. Just amazed at what you could print these days. He remembered when stickers were put over nipples on magazine covers. Seems anything goes now. There were a couple of stories, too. Erotica, he supposed they were called, more respectable than porn. They outraged him. Not because of their content but because of their bad punctuation, poor style and clumsy descriptions.

‘I could do better than that!’

He spoke out loud to the empty room. Fired with a desire to write he hadn’t felt for years, he tapped away on his computer. Where his life was lacking in experience, his imagination stepped in. There’d been a few interesting events in his handy-man jobs. The audible goings-on in the adjacent room while he was putting up some shelves; the open bedroom door he walked past; the amorous effect a few glasses of wine can have even at three o’clock in the afternoon. Nothing was wasted.

He looked up a few suitable publications and sent off his story. To his surprise, one magazine accepted it. Paid well, too. And asked what else he had written.

He could hardly admit to Dinky Dinosaur.

But there was a problem. Arnold Harris did not sound like the author of erotica. He needed a nom de plume, an alter ego.

He became Frankie Dunmore. He held his head higher, walked with a brisker step, smiled more, had a glint in his eye. Wrote in every spare moment. He felt like Frankie, liked his new persona. All the copies of his children’s books went to a charity shop and he abandoned the library. His new income helped him move to a smarter flat where he took an interest in the widow next door. Some letters from the library for Mr Harris were forwarded to his new address. He wrote Not Known on the envelopes and returned them. The librarian would be puzzled.

There was one more thing to do. He discovered it was cheap and easy to change your name by deed poll. Arnold Harris had disappeared.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

dav

Linda Fawke is an arts person who studied science but always wanted to write. Now retired, she indulges this passion, writing fiction and non-fiction, even occasional poetry, preferably late at night. She has now written two novels, ‘A Taste of his own Medicine’ and its sequel, ‘A Prescription for Madness’ using her background in pharmacy as the setting of both. These are easy books to read, suitable for Book Club discussions. ‘ A Prescription for Madness’ is more serious than the first book, dealing with such issues as pregnancy in later life and Down’s Syndrome.

She has been a winner of the Daily Telegraph ‘Just Back’ travel-writing competition and has published in various magazines including ‘Mslexia’, ‘Litro’ online, ‘Scribble’, ‘The Oldie’, ‘Berkshire Life’ and ‘Living France’. She was a finalist in the ‘Hysteria’ short story competition.

Linda blogs at http://www.linimeant.wordpress.com where her ‘Random Writings’ include a range of topics from travel to ‘Things that pop into my head’.

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Guest Posts

Mine – Alison Knight

I would like to welcome Alison Knight to my blog today, with a guest post entitled, “Who’s Truth Is It Anyway?” Many thanks Alison for taking the time to write this post as part of the blog tour for Mine, and thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of the tour.

BLURB:

“What’s mine, I keep.”

London, 1968.

Lily’s dreams of a better life for her family are shattered when her teenage daughter refuses to give up her illegitimate child. It doesn’t help that Lily’s husband, Jack, takes their daughter’s side.

Taking refuge in her work at a law firm in the City, Lily’s growing feelings for her married boss soon provides a dangerous distraction.

Will Lily be able to resist temptation? Or will the decisions made by these ordinary people lead them down an extraordinary path that could destroy them all?

Mine – a powerful story of class, ambition and sexual politics.

PURCHASE LINKS:

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Mine Cover by Alison Knight with endorsement

GUEST POST:

Hello, I’m Alison Knight, author of Mine, a novel based on real events in London in the 1960s. The story charts my family over a year, showing how ordinary people made decisions that lead them into an extraordinary situation that changed our lives forever.

Writing Mine has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, not least because I soon realised that what I saw as the truth didn’t necessarily match with other people’s truths.

Different perspectives

I remember having a conversation with my sister about our late mother. It soon became clear that we each had completely different views of her. I got to a point in the conversation where I had to say: “I don’t recognize the woman you’re talking about. Mum wasn’t like that at all.”

My sister then said she thought the same when I’d been speaking! We argued back and forth for a bit but in the end had to accept that we each had very different experiences of our mother.

Reliable witnesses

As part of my research for Mine, I had to go to the City of London Coroner’s office to read some inquest files. This isn’t something anyone can do. You need special permission because the records are all kept locked until seventy-five years after a death. I wasn’t allowed to take copies of anything in the files, but I was allowed to make notes for my personal use. I therefore wrote down what the various witnesses said in their statements.

I was shocked when I saw one statement of an incident I witnessed. I don’t remember it happening like that at all! I started to wonder whether I had got it wrong, but the images in my head of those moments was crystal clear. I spoke to my university tutor, Dr Jonathan Neale, about this. He writes non-fiction and has decades of experience in interviewing witnesses. He assured me that children often had the clearest memories, especially of a traumatic event, while adults were prone to miss details because their minds are elsewhere and they can often change their memories to explain or justify why things happened as they did.

I also found the statements of two witnesses who had been standing side by side as they saw another incident. One reported shouting and screaming had attracted their attention and that a lot of other people were around them as well. The other said he heard banging as though furniture had fallen over – but no screams or shouts – and that there was no one else in the hallway where he and the other witness stood.

Talking to the Coroner’s Officer about these conflicting statements, he said that it was quite normal for several witnesses of the same event to give completely different accounts of what happened.

Car Crash

Think about it. Imagine a group of people are walking down a street and suddenly there’s a squeal of brakes and a crash. They all look in the direction of the noise. One might be worrying that he’s late for work; another might be distracted by their child; maybe someone has toothache and is distracted by the pain; another is checking their phone. These people all witness the same thing, but because of their distractions they register different images in their minds. Some might notice colours, others smells, some might be frightened, others rush to help. It might trigger memories of a similar incident for someone. All of these things will have an effect on what and how they remember what happened.

It’s then the job of the accident investigation team to go through their statements and try to piece together what really happened.

My Dilemma

In the light of these conflicting statements and my sister’s different opinion of our mother, I had to wonder whether I could actually write about what happened with any kind of authority. My impressions of what happened might well be very different from those of the rest of my extended family. But the people who were there are now all gone. I’m the only person left to tell this story. If I didn’t write it down, it would be lost forever.

I really wanted to write it. It was important to me that my children and grandchildren had the opportunity to get to know their relatives who are no longer here, to understand what motivated them, to see that extraordinary things happen to ordinary people.

My Truth

In the end, I decided to write the story as fiction. I knew a lot of what happened – as I mentioned earlier, I witnessed some of it. But there were huge gaps, questions I couldn’t get the answers to because the people who knew the truth are no longer around to tell it. So, although the story is based on real events, I can’t claim to know the absolute truth of it. I can tell you my truth – what I saw and heard and felt – but I can only speculate on everything else.

The aim of Mine isn’t to tell you exactly what happened to my family in the late 1960s. Rather, it is to show you the people that I knew, their lives, their dreams, their problems. It is my imagining of what might have happened, mixed in with what I know definitely did happen. It’s written with a great deal of love. I hope I’ve done them justice.

Mine

Kit de Waal, the award-winning author of My Name is Leon, says the following about Mine

“A heart breaking tale of love and loss told by a great story-teller. Alison takes you into the heart of the tragedy with compassion, wit and even humour. A beautiful story.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Mine - Alison Knight head shot

Alison has been a legal executive, a registered childminder, a professional fund-raiser and a teacher. She has travelled the world – from spending a year as an exchange student in the US in the 1970s and trekking the Great Wall of China to celebrate her fortieth year and lots of other interesting places in between.

In her mid-forties Alison went to university part-time and gained a first-class degree in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University and an MA in the same subject from Oxford Brookes University, both while still working full-time. Her first book was published a year after she completed her master’s degree.

Mine is a domestic drama set in 1960s London based on real events in her family. She is the only person who can tell this particular story. Exploring themes of class, ambition and sexual politics, Mine shows how ordinary people can make choices that lead them into extraordinary situations.

Alison teaches creative and life-writing, runs workshops and retreats with Imagine Creative Writing Workshops(www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk) as well as working as a freelance editor. She is a member of the Society of Authors and the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

She lives in Somerset, within sight of Glastonbury Tor.

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Guest Posts

Just A Girl – Becky Monson

I am delighted to be welcoming Becky Monson to my blog, as part of the blog tour for her new novel, Just a Girl. Many thanks to Becky for taking the time to write a guest post, and to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the tour.

BLURB:

What happens when the right girl and the right guy meet at the wrong time?

One thing that can be said about Quinn Pearson is that she has a knack for doing the wrong thing at the wrong time. Like, the worst time ever. Take her job for instance. One little slip of the tongue using the mother of all swear words while reporting the news, and suddenly she finds herself with over 18 million views on YouTube and her employment in jeopardy. If that wasn’t bad enough, when she meets the man of her dreams, she nearly chokes to death on a powdered sugar donut.

Thankfully for Quinn, the dashing Brit, Henry, finds her near death experience quite charming. But just when Quinn thinks her luck is going to change, she finds out her timing is all wrong again. Henry is off limits. Or is he? Maybe it’s time for Quinn to quit settling for what life hands her. Perhaps it’s time for her to become more than just a girl.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

JAG Final - for Amazon

GUEST POST:

Now I’ll hand you over to Becky to tell you the story behind Just a Girl.

Story ideas come to me in strange ways. It almost always happens when I don’t have pen and paper or a phone with me to write down some notes, like while I’m in the shower. Actually, that’s where most of my ideas come to me. There’s probably something to that—like it’s the only time during the entire day where I can really be by myself and have no other distractions … but that’s a whole other post.

I have to write ideas down, though, because gone are the days that I can just tell myself I’ll remember that and I will actually remember it. In fact, I sometimes still tell myself that, and then by the time I’ve dried off and grabbed my phone or a pen and paper, the story is gone. Poof. Back into the atmosphere. This has happened too many times to count.

For Just a Girl, Quinn and her story came to me fairly quickly … in the shower, of course. I knew she was going to be a news reporter (which also played into the first story in the series—Just a Name); I knew she was going to have a love interest who was British (and who also would look like Henry Cavill, because duh); and I also knew she’d have some body image issues.

My stories don’t always start out how they end up, and this book was no exception. In the beginning, Henry (yes, I even named him Henry) was going to be a love interest Quinn met in college. They had a whirlwind romance, but then he ended up ghosting her when he went back to London, only to return years later, this time with a child in tow (hence the ghosting). But the story wasn’t sticking with me. Usually when I have a story I know I want to write, I get excited about it, butterflies in my stomach and all that. But this storyline wasn’t doing any of that for me.

So I went back to the beginning and changed it. Henry was no longer going to be someone she knew before, but a new person in her life. He also didn’t have a child. But he was still going to look like Henry Cavill, because duh. Once I changed it, the story just clicked into place. My outlining went smoothly. The butterflies were back. 

What always stayed the same was Quinn and her journey within herself. I have a special place in my heart for Quinn. I’d say I “get” her the most of the characters I’ve written, having had some of the same issues myself. 

I hope you enjoy her story as much as I did while writing it. I also hope you picture Henry as Henry Cavill, because duh. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Just A Girl AuthorBy day, Becky Monson is a mother to three young children, and a wife. By night, she escapes with reading books and writing. An award-winning author, Becky uses humor and true-life experiences to bring her characters to life. She loves all things chick-lit (movies, books, etc.), and wishes she had a British accent. She has recently given up Diet Coke for the fiftieth time and is hopeful this time will last… but it probably won’t.

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GIVEAWAY:

Win 2 x $25 Amazon Gift Cards (Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter link below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves 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 Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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Guest Posts

Boomerville at Ballemegille – Caroline James

Today I am joined by Caroline James, as part of the blog tour for her latest novel, Boomerville at Ballemegille. Many thanks to Caroline for taking the time to talk to me today about Cumbria, the inspiration behind the book, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to take part in the tour.

BLURB:

Boomerville is back!

Join Hattie and Jo as they head to Southern Ireland to open Boomerville Manor, a holiday retreat for guests of ‘a certain age’. There’s Irish craic and shenanigans aplenty for the colourful cast of characters as everyone gathers for the grand opening.

Meet Melissa, an ex-cabaret singer running from her abusive husband, and Bill, a bachelor bullied from beyond the grave by the ghostly voice of his mother. Along with local bobby Harry the Helmet, ageing aquatic team the Boomerville Babes, eccentric artist Lucinda Gray, and heartthrob Finbar Murphy, they gather in Ireland and the fun begins. But murder is in the air and there’s mischief afoot. Will the residents get more than they bargained for at Boomerville?

Set in the beautiful Irish countryside, ‘Boomerville at Ballymegille’ is a heart-warming story of friendship, fears and new beginnings.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Boomerville at Ballymegille COVER high res

GUEST POST:

Mai, thank you so much for hosting me on your lovely blog as I launch my new book, Boomerville at Ballymegille. Here I talk about the county of Cumbria, which is one of the inspirational settings for my novel.

Boomerville at Ballymegille is partly set in the beautiful county of Cumbria, also known as the Lake District, in North West England, and the area is the inspiration for many of my novels.

I write about Cumbria after falling in love with the county many years ago. Nowhere can compare to the Lake District, it is a creative’s dream. My novels often feature a fictional hotel and the latest. Boomerville at Ballymegille is no exception as guests’ flock to the area and book in, to experience the beauty and splendour of the landscape.

For several years, I ran a pub, then a hotel, in the Eden Valley and was captivated by the warmth of the locals who were so supportive to a newcomer. Walking along the shadowy ridges of the fells in my spare time restored my spirits after a hard day at work and spurred my creative juices, for even then I knew that I wanted to write stories based in this special place. More recently I was touched by the floods that devastated parts of the country. In particular, the town of Appleby which had once been my home and the floods feature in writing.

I write feel-good novels to uplift and inspire and with the magic of the mountains and sparkling waters of the lakes, I owe a great deal to beautiful Cumbria.

Mai, I wish you and your readers many hours of happy reading, 

With love

Caroline xx

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

CAROLINE JAMES (PROMO SHOOT 26.06.2018)

Best-selling author of women’s fiction, Caroline James has owned and run businesses encompassing all aspects of the hospitality industry, a subject that often features in her novels. She is based in the UK but has a great fondness for travel and escapes whenever she can.

A public speaker, which includes talks and lectures on cruise ships world-wide, Caroline is also a consultant and food writer. She is a member of the Romantic Novelist’s Association, the Society of Women’s Writer’s & Journalists and the Society of Authors and writes articles and short stories, contributing to many publications. Caroline also runs writing workshops.

In her spare time, Caroline can be found walking up a mountain with her two Westie dogs, sipping raspberry gin or relaxing with her head in a book and hand in a box of chocolates.

Books by Caroline James:

Hattie Goes to Hollywood

The Best Boomerville Hotel

Coffee Tea the Gypsy & Me

Coffee Tea the Chef & Me

Coffee Tea the Caribbean & Me

Jungle Rock

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