Guest Posts

Not Myself Today – Muriel Ellis Pritchett

I am pleased to welcome Muriel Ellis Pritchett to my blog today. Muriel is here to talk to us about character creation as part of the blog tour for her YA novel, Not Myself Today. Many thanks to Muriel for taking the time to talk to us, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the tour.

BLURB:

High school soccer star Lindsey Anderson was at the top of her game with graduation approaching and a full-ride soccer scholarship offer in her hand. Then she dropped dead on the soccer field, only to wake up in the body of a teenage sex-trafficking victim. No one believes who she really is. Not even her dad. Chased by her new body’s drug-dealing pimp and rabid parapsychologists out to dissect her, Lindsey searches to get her body and her life back before graduation day. Can her BFF and the high school nerdy boy she detests help save her life?

PURCHASE LINKS:

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Not Myself Today Front cover

GUEST POST:

Someone recently told me – quite excitedly, I must say – that they knew who a certain character in my second book really was. I quickly assured him that the character was completely fictional. That all of my characters were fictional. Still, he walked off grinning like the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland.

Are your characters real people? How do you create your characters? Those are two questions I have been asked many times. They are right up there with “Where do you get ideas for your books?” and “I have a great idea for your next book. Would you like to hear it?”

All of my characters are made up of bits and pieces of real people that I know or have met at a party or spotted in the airport or somewhere else. I keep a notebook of interesting physical characteristics and personal flaws.

I usually start with physical characteristics like the colour of their hair or eyes. Do they have a beard or moustache? Are they bald or have a hairy chest? How is their hair styled? Spiked or shaved head or a man bun? Do they walk with a limp or stutter when they talk? Do they have any distinguishing features like freckles or a wart on the end of their nose or a dragon tattoo on their forearm? How are they dressed? Are they wearing dirty and worn T-shirt and jeans or dressed in country-club casual clothes or sporting a three-piece suit with bowtie? Is she wearing a spandex leopard-print mini-skirt and thigh-high faux-alligator boots or an impressive Christian Dior-designer original skirt and jacket?

Once I have some idea of what my character looks like, then I work on the personality and flaws. What makes them unique? Are they a narcissist or a womaniser or a bully? Do they have a raging temper or are they as cool as a cucumber or weak and frail? Milquetoast or overly aggressive? Do they have any phobias or issues? Are they afraid of heights or snakes or tall women? Are they superstitious or a brazen hussy or a risktaker or street savvy?

In my new YA paranormal thriller, Not Myself Today, I wanted a big contrast between Lindsey and Annabeth. Lindsey is a star soccer player. I looked through high school yearbooks to get a picture of a female athlete in my mind. I made her strong, solid, in great health, and smart with curly red hair and blue eyes. I made her 18 years old and graduating from high school with a full-ride soccer scholarship to Stanford. I wanted Lindsey to be from a fairly well-to-do family with a highly respected father in the science community. Life can’t get any better than this. Then she dies on the soccer field after kicking the winning goal for the state championship and wakes up in the body of Annabeth, a sex trafficking victim.   

Annabeth is the opposite of Lindsey. She’s a 14-year-old runaway from a small South Georgia town. Her father, a farmer, died young. Her mother remarried a scumbag who abused Annabeth, causing her to leave home. I made her very skinny with a thick South Georgia accent, long, straight, dirty-blonde hair, hazel eyes, tattoos, and body piercings. For a stronger contrast, I turned her into a drug addict, which further complicated Lindsey’s new life in Annabeth’s body.

I enjoy creating unique characters for my stories. I probably spend as much time bringing my characters to life as I spend plotting out the story line. The next time you read a book, please remember that all characters are fictional and have been created from many bits and pieces to entertain the reader.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Not Myself Today - MurielPSBorn and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, Muriel Ellis Pritchett graduated from the University of Georgia and began her journalism career while living in Japan and Germany. Her journalism career included playwriting, editing and writing for magazines and newspapers, and working in public relations, university relations, and media relations.

After retiring, Muriel’s family doctor recommended she get a hobby.  So, she began writing fun fiction about feisty older women who had been wronged and had to pull themselves up out of the muck. But her award-winning fourth book, Not Myself Today, is a change in genres—a YA paranormal thriller. It is scheduled for release September 24, 2020. Her first three “fruity” books, fun romance for older women, are Making Lemonade, Like Peaches and Pickles, and Rotten Bananas and the Emerald Dream. She is currently working on another “fruity” book, titled Sour Grapes and Balmy Knight.

When not writing, Muriel loves cruising all over the world, eating good Belgian chocolate, and spending time in any Disney park. Her favorite Disney attractions are SOARING at Disney World’s EPCOT in Florida, Alice’s Curious Labyrinth at Disneyland Paris, Journey to the Center of the Earth at DisneySeas in Tokyo, and Indiana Jones Adventure at Disneyland in California.

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GIVEAWAY:

Win a Signed copy of Not Myself Today (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 dispatch or delivery of the prize.

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Make sure you visit the other blogs on the tour to find out more about Not Myself Today.

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Guest Posts

Miss Smith Commits The Perfect Crime? – Guy Rolands

Today I am joining the blog tour for Miss Smith Commits The Perfect Crime by Guy Rolands, and I am delighted to be joined by the man himself talking about the story behind the book. Many thanks to Guy 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:

Recovering from a brutal attack where she was savagely raped, university student Sam Smith attempts to rebuild her life and overcome the ongoing effects of her ordeal. Her ultimate goal is to bring her assailant to justice, but before she can do so her life and loves take a series of intriguing turns as she continues her sometimes unconventional education.

Eventually she is able to identify her attacker and decides to exact retribution in her own particular style, but during her preparations Sam becomes aware that her every move is being tracked by a mysterious organisation. To avoid detection by the police and also her hidden watchers, Sam Smith attempts to commit the perfect crime. However in the aftermath of her vigilante action events change rapidly to bring about a most unexpected outcome.

Miss Smith Commits the Perfect Crime? is the first book in the Sam Smith Adventure Series and can be read as a standalone.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

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Miss Smith Commits the Perfect Crime

GUEST POST:

I suppose one way or another I have written for most of my life. As a teenager, I penned my first article under the pen-name of Ugly Panic. After this inauspicious start, I found myself writing professionally as a small part of my work in television. From continuity scripts and trailers, I progressed to writing commentaries for factual programmes. It was only when I stopped working in broadcasting that I could turn my attention to the far more interesting task of writing fiction, and this happened in a quite bizarre fashion.

Last year I rather clumsily fell and broke my foot. As I was virtually immobile for a couple of months, my eldest daughter (the author Jules Wake) said to me, ‘If you’ve nothing better to do Dad, why not write a book?’

I thought about this for a couple of days and tried to come up with some characters and a plot. The books of Stieg Larsson with his unlikely heroine Lisbeth Salander had been favourites of mine, and so I decided to create a British female agent with a bit more style, who would be hopefully more appealing than her grungy Swedish inspiration – a sort of female James Bond.

Thinking back over the many beautiful women I encountered when I produced and directed shows for television, I looked for someone who could visually represent my heroine, and one young dancer came to mind. This woman, who was barely twenty, had a flawless complexion, naturally golden hair, a figure to die for and a naive sexual allure. The men on the crew couldn’t do enough for her. Even our gay choreographer was drooling all over the young woman. This woman may be beautiful, graceful and athletic, but my heroine needed to be exceptionally tough physically and mentally as well.

My research for a series of lectures I gave about the Second World War had uncovered a woman who was fascinated me. Dropped into a chaotic situation in wartime France, resistance agent Nancy Wake took control through stealth, cunning and diplomacy, to unite disparate resistance groups into a well-organised fighting force which eventually numbered over five thousand men. She led her troops in guerilla warfare against the Nazis, unleashing surprise attacks against the enemy, killing some with her bare hands. Combining these two fascinating women into one, created my heroine, Sam Smith.

I started writing with a vague idea of where the plot was going, and to my surprise, the characters I had created took over. They dictated my story for me. I would wake up every morning with the outline of the next chapter clear in my mind. There’s a school of thought that says you need to work out the entire plot before you start to write. Maybe that works for some people, but to start with I just sat down and wrote. As I went along, I re-read sections and ruthlessly edited out anything that didn’t work. I stuck to the guidelines of the old radio programme “Just a Minute”: no hesitation, deviation or repetition.

I finished writing the first draft of Miss Smith Commits the Perfect Crime, but I had a problem: the original opening where the heroine was violently raped, was an instant spoiler; it gave completely the wrong impression, so I scrapped it. My goal was to create a light-hearted adventure romp. In desperation, I turned to one of my favourite authors, PG Wodehouse. The great writer was not noted for thrilling escapades, but he did have a penchant for setting his plots around prize pigs. In the footsteps of Lord Emsworth’s precious porker, I created Reggie, Super-Pig PP1052. The rest, as they say, is a mystery.

Having completed my first book and feeling quite pleased with myself, my daughter dropped a bombshell: ‘Dad, if you are self-publishing, one book is not enough; you have to write a series!’

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Miss Smith Commits the Perfect Crime Photo Guy Caplin 1Guy Caplin worked in television broadcasting for over 40 years and is one of the few people to have achieved success in both the technical and artistic branches of the medium.  He has worked with many celebrities including, the Beatles, Ella Fitzgerald, Bob Hope and Maria Callas.

He moved to ITV’s Yorkshire Television in 1969 as a Producer and Director of Sport, Outside Broadcasts and special events.  Among the many programmes he devised was the quiz programme “Winner Takes All” fronted by Jimmy Tarbuck and Geoffrey Wheeler, which under his tenure was regularly amongst the Top Ten TV programmes and twice reached the coveted Number One Spot.

When the final series of the hit American programme Dallas ran into technical problems in Hollywood in 1989, Guy left YTV and joined a UK broadcast engineering company to try to come up with a solution.  The solution proposed resulted in the creation of the DEFT process, which although too late to be used on Dallas, was used initially on the Simpsons and subsequently on Friends, Frasier, Superman and many others America series.  DEFT was awarded an Emmy for outstanding technical achievement.

Back in the UK Guy owned and ran a company creating video productions for both broadcast and industry, was a freelance trainer at the BBC and a visiting tutor at the National School of Film and Television

For the past thirteen years Guy has also been regular lecturer for P&O cruises and Cunard and has effectively travelled twice around the world.

Now, having closed his video company, he spends his time writing under the name of Guy Rolands and has now completed four novels in the Sam Smith Adventure series. Having worked all over the world and encountered hundreds of remarkable characters, his experiences provide colour and intrigue to his work.

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Guest Posts

The Punishment – Paul Clayton

As part of the blog tour for his book, The Punishment, I am joined by Paul Clayton as he proves he is a man after my own heart with a passion for reading past his bedtime. Many thanks to Paul for taking the time to talk to us, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in this blog tour.

BLURB:

What do you do when you are an ex-soap star down on your luck and running out of money?

For Daniel Maple, a chance meeting in a nightclub presents him with an offer he finds hard to refuse…

But crime makes you pay.

And someone, somewhere, wants you punished.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

The Punishment Cover

GUEST POST:

Reading in bed came from the fact with as a child I hated the moment Mum turned the light out. For a long time, I had to have a little purple night light in the corner of the room, but even that allowed corners of darkness to creep into the bedroom, so I would stretch out a chapter or two for as long as I could. It’s still the place where I do most of my reading. There is always a book by my bedside and it’s most likely to be a thriller or a mystery. The well-written ones do nothing for my sleep. Each chapter ending with a question or a problem makes me want to read on and solve it.

I can never forget the night when reading Fingersmith by Sarah Waters, I was approaching the end of the chapter and about to place the book on my bedside table and head into slumber when I read the sentence that changes your perception everything you have read so far. I gasped aloud, and after a quick dash to the loo, it was another three chapters and a very late night. Sometimes I don’t know when to give up and my partner will find me dozing with a Kindle that has fallen to the floor at the side of the bed, but in the main. I will set myself a certain number of chapters to read and hope that I make it.

When it came to writing my first fiction, the idea of keeping somebody up late at night by the nature of the story I told was foremost in my mind. It’s been immensely gratifying to receive messages from readers castigating me for the fact that they stayed up till 3 AM last night in order to finish “The Punishment”. It’s a page turner, hopefully thrilling, clever, and funny. (but that’s for you to make up your mind) It’s the sort of book I love to take to the beach. Something that keeps me glued to the pages. One thing that is important to us as actors as we tell stories that our audience are engaged. You can feel a room of people who are listening. It’s a warm feeling. A supportive cocoon of concentration.

When I became an author, this was the relationship with my audience I thought I would miss. Readers take the books into their own world, at their own speed, and in their own way. 

And yet, to know that a story of twists and turns, of double-cross and disaster has made people gasp and laugh across the world is more exciting than I can say.

Creating the world of “The Punishment” and taking the little pinch of truth on which it’s based, sprinkling it with mixed moments of my life and whipping it up into a confection that I hope people want to finish in one go has been the greatest of fun. For to me, that’s what stories are. Fun. A ticket to a world that someone has created just for me. That reaches out and brings the audience closer.

And just as someone says in ‘The Punishment” – “If this were your problem, what would you do?”

I hope you take the time to find out.

Paul Clayton

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

The Punishment - Paul (91) - Full ResolutionClayton is an actor best known for his appearances as Ian Chapman in five series of the awardwinning Channel 4 comedy Peep Show and as Graham in two series of the BAFTA winning comedy Him and Her. Other credits include Coronation Street, Hollyoaks and Holby City as well as This is Alan Partridge, Doctor Who, The Crown, Vera, Wolf. He is a former member of the Royal Shakespeare Company.

His previous books are So You Want To Be A Corporate Actor? and The Working Actor and he is a regular columnist in The Stage.

He is a proud patron of Grimm and Co, the children’s literacy charity, based in his home town of Rotherham.

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GIVEAWAY:

Win 5 x E-copies of The Punishment (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 dispatch or delivery of the prize.

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Thanks again to Paul for taking the time to talk to us today. For more information on The Punishment, make sure you visit the other blogs taking part on this tour.

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Guest Posts

Life Lessons – J.E. Rowney

Today I am hosting J.E. Rowney as part of the blog tour for her medical drama, Life Lessons. Many thanks to Ms Rowney 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 tour. Before I hand over to Ms Rowney, here is all the info you need about Life Lessons.

BLURB:

For fans of “Call the Midwife”, “Hard Pushed” or “This is Going to Hurt”.

Life Lessons is a new adult chick-lit medical drama, with splashes of clean romance.
Expect an unputdownable emotional page-turner that will take you deep into the life lessons of a student midwife.

Violet wants to be a midwife, but she has struggled with anxiety throughout her teenage years.

With her best friend Zoe at her side, she gets a place at University and starts training for her dream job.Can she overcome her fears and find the self-confidence to make it through her first year?

Will Zoe’s romance with their housemate spell dating disaster?

Book one of the Lessons of a Student Midwife series.

This book is a prequel to Ghosted, the bestselling novel.

PURCHASE LINKS:

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Life Lessons Cover

GUEST POST:

Now I will hand you over to J.E. Rowney to talk about why she wanted to write a book about a student midwife.

Although I have always written stories since as far back as I can remember, being a writer wasn’t my first choice of career. I thought it was something people did as a hobby. In the past it was far more difficult to have a book published. When I went to university I didn’t study English or Creative Writing, I trained as a midwife. I have returned and studied Creative Writing, but I have never forgotten my roots!

I worked as a midwife for ten years, and it as rewarding and fascinating a job as my character Violet imagines that it will be. There were ups and downs, of course. As Violet comes to realise, midwifery isn’t all about delivering babies and getting to cuddle them on the postnatal ward. Midwifery is hard work, physically and emotionally. That said, being a midwife is being part of a community. I wanted to share an insight into the midwife’s world with my readers.

When I think about the medical themed books that I have read, they have usually been thrillers or dramas, rather than the light, feelgood type of story that I have aimed to write with this book and the rest of the series.

I introduced Violet in my novel “Ghosted”, interspersing the chick-lit story with the medical fiction twists of Violet’s life. One of the phrases you hear repeatedly when you start out as a writer is “write what you know”, so it was only a matter of time before I wrote about a character who was a midwife.

I had a lot of positive feedback about “Ghosted” and requests for a sequel. I had never considered writing a follow-up before, but I started to think about how I could add to Violet’s story.  There are glimpses of her past in “Ghosted”, but exploring her time at university with her best friend Zoe felt like a wonderful opportunity. I planned to write three novellas, but when I began working on “Life Lessons” I realised that Violet’s story was going to be too interesting to keep it contained within  short books.

The characters of Violet and Zoe (and Luke, of course) are so much fun to work with. I hope that you will enjoy reading the “Lessons of a Student Midwife” series. Book one, “Life Lessons” is available now, and “Love Lessons”, the second in the series, is available for pre-order. The final book will be on sale later this year.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Life Lessons - jerowneyauthorphotoJ.E.Rowney spent several years in the cold Yorkshire hills, which brings the flavour of the moorland countryside into her work. She now lives in Dorset, and the sun and sea are slowly creeping in as influences.

“Charcoal”, her first novel, was published in 2012 to wide critical acclaim, and was a bestselling novel across the whole of Amazon within days of release.

Ms Rowney has recently been awarded the Dinesh Allirajah Writing Prize 2020.

Her third novel, “Ghosted”, was released in January 2020 and quickly also became a bestseller.

She spends lots of time writing in coffee shops, so if you see her, say hello.

Ms. Rowney says: “I always dreamed of being a writer, until I realised that I was. Then I started to write.”

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Why not check out the other blogs taking part in this tour for more information on this book.

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Guest Posts

The Book Dragon Club – Lexi Rees

A huge welcome back to Lexi Rees today, as she joins me to talk about The Book Dragon Club and diversity. Many thanks Lexi for taking the time to talk to me today, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the tour for this book. Before I hand over to Lexi, here are all the details of the book.

BLURB:

Packed with awesome activities, this journal has everything a book dragon needs!

  • Tackle the fun reading challenges
  • Set up a book club with your friends
  • Host award ceremonies and parties
  • Make up games and quizzes based on your favourite books

Plus space for book reviews, reading lists and so much more. 

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

The Book Dragon Cover

GUEST POST:

Now, let me hand you over to Lexi.

Hi, and thanks so much for inviting me onto your blog to share my hope for The Book Dragon Club.

Like everyone, I’ve been watching what’s been going on around #blacklivesmatter, listening and learning. We all know that books play an important part in shaping our views of the world. I saw a study from the CLPE (Centre for Literacy in Primary Education) which showed statistics that highlight the lack of diversity in publishing currently. In addition, a lot of book lists that I’ve seen circulated have focussed on the non-fiction side, and of course that’s really important. But to be truly diverse, fiction reading also needs to be balanced. Our bookshelves should be varied, both in terms of authors and in the characters portrayed within the stories. As an aside, if you’re looking for a diverse reading list, I think this one has an interesting mix of books for a range of ages and reading interests, and it’s updated regularly. https://www.lovereading4kids.co.uk/blog/collections/diverse-voices-childrens-books-that-celebrate-difference-6090. 

It’s very easy for a child (or grown-up!) to get stuck reading one author or one genre. One of my hopes for The Book Dragon Club is that it will encourage children to read a far wider variety of books. For example, in order to complete the Globe Trotter Challenge and the Passport Challenge, children will have to broaden their horizons.

Some of you will know that as well as writing, I run an online kids book club for tots to tweens (https://kidsclub.family). Not only is this packed full of cross-curricular activities, I’ve made a positive commitment that the books explored in this club will be diverse. If you’d like to have a look, I’d be delighted!

Oh, and in case you were wondering, we’re book DRAGONS, because who wants to be a WORM?!

I hope The Book Dragon Club sparks encourages readers to explore new authors and to visit new countries. Please do share your club photos with me!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lorraine-16Lexi Rees was born in Scotland but now lives down south. She writes action-packed adventures brim full of witch-doctors, fortune-tellers, warriors and smugglers, combining elemental magic with hints of dystopia. She also writes fun activity books for children.

Her fantasy adventure, Eternal Seas, was awarded a “loved by” badge from LoveReading4Kids. The sequel, Wild Sky, is available now.

She’s passionate about developing a love of reading and writing in children and, as well as her Creative Writing Skills workbook, she has an active programme of school visits and other events, is a Book PenPal for three primary schools, and runs a free online #kidsclub and newsletter which includes book recommendations and creative writing activities.

In her spare time, she’s a keen crafter and spends a considerable amount of time trying not to fall off horses or boats.

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Guest Posts

The Borrowed Boy – Deborah Klee

I am joined today by Deborah Klee as part of the blog tour for her novel, The Borrowed Boy. Many thanks to Deborah for taking the time to write a guest post for me to share, and to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of the tour.

BLURB:

A borrowed boy, a borrowed name and living on borrowed time.

What do you put on a bucket list when you haven’t done anything with your life? No interesting job, no lovers, no family, no friends. Believing she has only weeks left to live, Angie Winkle vows to make the most of every minute.

Going back to Jaywick Sands, is top of her bucket list. Experiencing life as a grandmother is not, but the universe has other plans and when four-year-old Danny is separated from his mum on the tube, Angie goes to his rescue. She tries to return him to his mum but things do not go exactly as planned and the two of them embark on a life-changing journey.

Set in Jaywick Sands, once an idyllic Essex holiday village in the 70s, but now a shantytown of displaced Londoners, this is a story about hidden communities and our need to belong.

PURCHASE LINKS:

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TheBorrowedBoy_coverDesign_final

GUEST POST:

Now, I will hand you over to Deborah, who is here to talk to us all about community.

One of the themes that emerged, as I wrote The Borrowed Boy, was the importance of community. This is hardly surprising as I spent several years working with communities as a social entrepreneur, enabling them to use what they already had – skills, experience, networks, and facilities, to make their community a better place to live.

In The Borrowed Boy, Angie Winkle and Nikoleta both experience feelings of exclusion. Angie has spent forty years watching life pass her by. She has no sense of belonging. Low self-esteem, social awkwardness, and feelings of shame as a result of something in her past, have isolated her.

However, in Jaywick Sands, Angie finds a place where she belongs. Her knowledge of car mechanics, skills as a machinist, and above all her ability to care for others, mean that for the first time in her life she feels needed.

Nikoleta comes from a close community in Poland, where she grew up. She moves to London with her partner and his son, with expectations for a new life full of opportunity. Losing Danek, her partner’s son, on the day of her arrival, is the worst possible start to her life in the UK. She feels excluded because her English is poor, and unused to travel she lacks confidence in an unfamiliar city. 

There are many reasons why a person might feel isolated:

  • Moving to a new area
  • Losing a partner, husband, or wife
  • Retirement
  • A new parent
  • Disability
  • Low self-esteem

We may all feel a sense of isolation at different times in our lives, from being excluded on the school playground, to becoming a new mum at home- lost and bewildered in an unfamiliar role and missing work colleagues. Fortunately, for most of us, these feelings pass. However, there are some people, like Angie, who always feel that they are on the outside looking in.

Community is not necessarily a cosy village from bygone days. Communities can be found everywhere and anywhere. Community is more than having followers and likes on social media, it is where people connect in a meaningful way to exchange something of value. We all have skills and knowledge that are valuable to somebody else. We fulfil one another’s needs, whether it is practical help and support, information, or sharing an interest. I don’t believe there is anybody in this world who does not have something of worth to share with others.

Communities have natural connectors: the man in the newsagent, the publican, or the retired doctor who always seems to know somebody who can help. In The Borrowed Boy, it is Josie at the Sea Shell café who brings people together.

Even in a busy metropolitan city, like London, there are pockets of community. Nikoleta finds community in her friends at The European Food Emporium. She also discovers another hidden community. One that is all around us, with its own rules and networks – not all communities are good. But you will have to read The Borrowed Boy to find out more.

I have been fascinated by communities for some time, as each has its own characteristics and can only really be known by its residents. Although Jaywick Sands is a real place, the community I have described is entirely fiction.  My observations as an outsider, and the stories of people who have lived, worked, or spent holidays there fired my imagination.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

The Borrowed Boy - head and shoulder DKDeborah has worked as an occupational therapist, a health service manager, a freelance journalist, and management consultant in health and social care.

Her protagonists are often people who exist on the edges of society. Despite the very real, but dark, subject matter her stories are uplifting, combining pathos with humour. They are about self-discovery and the power of friendships and community.

The Borrowed Boy, her debut, was shortlisted for the Deviant Minds Award 2019. Just Bea, her second novel will be published in 2021.

Deborah lives on the Essex coast. When she is not writing she combines her love of baking with trying to burn off the extra calories.

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Guest Posts

Space Academy – Hannah Hopkins

I’d like to give a very warm welcome to Hannah Hopkins, who has kindly written a guest post on her mission as a writer, as part of the blog tour for her MG Fantasy novel, Space Academy. Many thanks to Hannah for taking the time to do this, and also to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of the tour.

BLURB:

It’s the year 2100. Earth is dying. A young woman, Elsie, has risked everything to get her newborn son, Will, aboard ‘The Mayflower’ – a spaceship that will transport a select number of people to a new planet they can call home. Elsie’s luck takes a turn when she discovers the captain of ‘The Mayflower’ is an old friend. He allows her to board with her son, giving them a place on the luxurious Floor One, where they live amongst the most honoured of ‘The Mayflower’s’ passengers.

Thirteen years later, and Will is ready to start school at Space Academy, an institute specialising in subjects such as Alien Studies, Technology, and Rocket Control. While a pupil there, Will starts to uncover secrets about his father’s death, becoming wrapped in a mystery that he and his friends must solve if they are to have any hope of saving humanity from the threat that lies in wait.

Lose yourself in this brilliantly addictive novel as it takes you on a journey through the stars. But be warned – you might be surprised by what you find.

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Space Academy Cover

I’ll pass you over to Hannah now so she can tell you all what she wants readers to take away from her stories.

As a writer, first and foremost I want to entertain my readers. I fell in love with the magic of the written word at a young age, and have since spent my life either buried in books or my own imagination. Giving somebody the opportunity to escape into a different reality and explore another world brings me such joy, and I love the idea that my readers can connect to characters and settings that I have invented. It’s like sharing a piece of your imagination or a piece of your soul, and it creates a unique and enduring bond. I love it when readers become invested in my stories, and hearing phrases like ‘when is the sequel?’ or ‘I felt really sad when I finished the book,’ is so rewarding! I know how it feels when I fall in love with a novel, and knowing I can give that to someone else is giddying.

 In terms of a message, I think the most valuable thing I can give to readers is the feeling they are not alone. Whether they befriend the characters in their mind or simply relate to what they’re growing to, I truly believe the best power of a story is allowing you to feel as though you are understood. The idea that as human beings, we all experience the same hardships is incredibly unifying, and helps release the burden of thinking we are the only ones who struggle. Stories can help us make sense of our own lives. They use beautiful prose to summarise ideas and feelings we cannot articulate, and make us feel a part of something bigger. They give us hope when we can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel and help us believe in the magic and mystery of life. Part of my mission as a writer is to reach people who feel alone and give them something that eases their pain. Whether that is a piece of entertainment or a deeper message of support, a story is a tremendously important and valuable tool.

 Recently, I have tried my hand at writing as advocacy. As a young woman, the feminist cause is incredibly important to me, and is something that I have become deeply passionate about. I have always been fascinated and saddened by the stories of well-known women in history, and I started to imagine how things might have been if we had had more power. I started writing about a fictional world, where inherited power is passed from woman to daughter instead of father to son, and began to realise the issues I was exploring in the novel are extremely relevant to real life and modern society. If I can create a gripping and immersive story which also serves to further a cause I care about, then I feel I will have completed my mission as a writer! Writing makes the world a better place, and it is a privilege to be able to tap into that power.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Space Academy - hannah hIn 2017, Hannah Hopkins released a self-published novel entitled ‘The Split’; the story of four teenagers navigating life after Earth as they journey through space to a new planet. Two years later, the book was picked up by ‘The Conrad Press’ and re-vamped as ‘Space Academy,’ with a new cover, new title and new additions to the story. ‘Space Academy’ was released in 2020, kickstarting Hannah’s career as a writer.

Hannah is currently busy writing a historical fiction novel with a feminist twist. She spends the rest of her time working at a University and caring for her two young children in the UK.

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Guest Posts

The English Wife – Adrienne Chinn

In the second of today’s guests posts, I am delighted to welcome Adrienne Chinn to my blog, along with lots of seriously tempting photographs! Many thanks Adrienne for taking the time to write a guest post for me, and also to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part in the blog tour for Adrienne’s book, The English Wife.

BLURB:

Two women, a world apart.

A secret waiting to be discovered…

VE Day 1945: As victory bells ring out across the country, war bride Ellie Burgess’ happiness is overshadowed by grief. Her charismatic Newfoundlander husband Thomas is still missing in action.
 
Until a letter arrives explaining Thomas is back at home on the other side of the Atlantic recovering from his injuries.

Travelling to a distant country to live with a man she barely knows is the bravest thing Ellie has ever had to do. But nothing can prepare her for the harsh realities of her new home…

September 11th 2001: Sophie Parry is on a plane to New York on the most tragic day in the city’s history. While the world watches the news in horror, Sophie’s flight is rerouted to a tiny town in Newfoundland and she is forced to seek refuge with her estranged aunt Ellie.
 
Determined to discover what it was that forced her family apart all those years ago, newfound secrets may change her life forever…
 
This is a timeless story of love, sacrifice and resilience perfect for fans of Lorna Cook and Gill Paul.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon Canada

The English Wife Hi Res Cover

Now, without further ado, here is Adrienne to tell us about eating like a Newfoundlander, and those photos I promised you.

Bread is the staff of life, so they say, but Newfoundlanders don’t limit themselves to a single fundamental like bread. Oh, no, m’dear. Newfoundlanders love their food, and I couldn’t write a book where half of it is set in Newfoundland, without talking about food (and drink, of course). If you visit, be sure to try bottled iceberg water!

In The English Wife, Florie is constantly cooking up hardy Newfoundland staples like Jiggs Dinner and stew and dumplings. Ellie, trying to navigate herself around her new life as a fisherman’s wife in a remote outport after the war, is faced with learning how to make salt cod and brewis (pronounced “brews”) with scrunchions.

So, exactly what are some of these local culinary delights? Jiggs Dinner is a favourite weekend dinner meal. You place a whole piece of corned beef in a pot on the hob with enough water to cover the meat. Cook for several hours until tender, then add cabbage, carrots, potatoes, swede, turnip… and boil. Then eat. I like mine with HP Sauce.

I remember growing up on fish and brewis as a kid in Newfoundland – I teethed on Purity hard tack biscuits – biscuits literally as hard as rocks, which, when soaked overnight soften into a dense bread which becomes brewis. Cooking up fish and brewis is easy – soak the hard tack overnight in one pot, and the salt cod in another. Change the cod water again in the morning and simmer until cooked.  Then you heat the hard tack until it comes to a boil and drain it. Cook up some chopped onions and diced salt pork in some butter, add the flaked up cod and fry it all up with the brewis until golden. Believe me, this is very tasty.

Newfoundland is full of delicious berry plants, from red partridgeberries and orange, raspberry-like cloudberries to the best blueberries on the planet – tiny balls of blue deliciousness. You haven’t had a blueberry until you’ve had a Newfoundland blueberry. Here’s an easy recipe for Newfoundland blueberry duff (a steamed pudding):

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups (500 grams) of flour

3 tsp baking powder

½ cup (170 grams) sugar

½ tsp salt

½ cup milk (235 ml) whole or half-fat milk

1 egg

¼ cup (85 grams) unsalted butter

1 cup  (340 grams) fresh blueberries

Preparation:

Cream butter with sugar, salt and egg with a mixer. In a separate bowl combine flower and baking powder. Add milk and the flour alternately to the butter mixture. Fold in blueberries. Note: If you use frozen blueberries, these will stain the whole pudding blue. Grease a pudding bowl with some butter and pour in the batter. Cover with greaseproof paper or aluminium foil tied with a string or held in place with a large elastic band. Put a couple of inches of water in a pot and bring to a boil. Set in the pudding bowl and cover with a lid, letting it boil for about 1 ½ hours. Be sure it doesn’t boil dry – add more water if necessary. Place the bowl upside down on a rack to cool for 15 minutes then slowly lift off the bowl.

Sweet Sauce:

Ingredients:

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp flour

¼ tsp salt

1/3 cup (115 grams) brown sugar

1 cup (470 ml) boiling water

¼ tsp vanilla

Preparation:

Melt the butter in a pot. Add flour and salt and stir till smooth. Add brown sugar, stirring constantly. Remove the pot from the heat and add boiling water. Stir till smooth. Place pot back on the heat and continue to stir until it comes to a boil. Add vanilla and serve with pudding and clotted cream. Yum! A million calories but worth every one.

If you don’t have time to cook up a Jiggs Dinner or make a blueberry duff, just do like a Newfoundlander and grab a couple of Jam Jams and a mug of tea with Carnation tinned milk and a few teaspoons of sugar. You’ll be a Newfoundlander in no time.

If you visit Newfoundland, be sure to stop by these terrific restaurants if you want to taste some delicious Newfoundand food: Norton’s Cove Café in Badger’s Quay, The Bonavista Social Club on the Bonavista Peninsula, Fogo Island Inn on Fogo Island, and Mallard Cottage in St John’s.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

The English Wife Author PhotoAdrienne Chinn was born in Grand Falls, Newfoundland, grew up in Quebec, and eventually made her way to London, England after a career as a journalist. In England she worked as a TV and film researcher before embarking on a career as an interior designer, lecturer, and writer. When not up a ladder or at the computer, she can usually be found rummaging through flea markets or haggling in the Marrakech souk. Her second novel, The English Wife — a timeslip story set in World War II England and contemporary Newfoundland — is published in June 2020. Her debut novel, The Lost Letter from Morocco, was published by Avon Books UK in 2019. She is currently writing her third novel, The Photographer’s Daughters, the first of a 3-book series, to be published in 2021.

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Guest Posts

War Bringer – Aaron Hodges

Happy book birthday to Aaron Hodges and War Bringer, and welcome to Aaron who has written a fascinating guest post for us today. Many thanks to Aaron, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to be a part of the birthday celebrations.

BLURB:

Centuries ago, the world fell.
From the ashes rose a terrible new species—the Tangata.
Now they wage war against the kingdoms of man.
And humanity is losing.

Recruited straight from his academy, twenty-year-old Lukys hopes the frontier will make a soldier out of him. But Tangata are massing in the south, and the allied armies are desperate. They will do anything to halt the enemy advance—including sending untrained men and women into battle. Determined to survive, Lukys seeks aid from the only man who seems to care: Romaine, the last warrior of an extinct kingdom.

Meanwhile, the Queen’s Archivist leads an expedition deep beneath the earth. She seeks to uncover the secrets of the Gods. Their magic has been lost to the ages, yet artifacts remain, objects of power that could turn the tide of the war. But salvation is not all that waits beneath the surface. Something else slumbers in the darkness. Something old. Something evil.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

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Warbringer Cover Final

Now I will hand you over to Aaron to talk about plotting versus pantsing in fantasy writing (which is perhaps the perfect guest post for me at the moment!)

They say there are two types of writers—plotters (those who carefully plot out every detail of their novel before writing a single word) and pantsers (those who make things up as they go along). in my experience in discussions with my author friends, I’ve found this to be more or less true, with the exception that its less of a duel choice and more of a continuum between the two.

Certainly, there are elements of epic fantasy novels spanning multiple characters and grand plot arcs that are likely to require a certain amount of plotting before hand in order to create a coherent story. That’s not to say it can’t be done—if I’m honest, most of my first trilogy was written while I was pantsing in my early days as a writer. However, that series required a lot of rewriting when the time eventually came to publish it, in order to remove dues ex machina scenes and create a more cohesive plot.

For my later series I’ve managed to find what I think is a good balance between plotting and pantsing. I usually by a pantsing mind map session in which I put down every interesting scene I can think of that might fit into the realms of my story. This usually takes place over the course of a week and I’m always having to jot down ideas on the go, as you never know when one will come to you! After that, I then begin to connect the dots, so to speak, and work out what order the scenes come together. Once I have a skeleton of a plot in place, I’ll start to write outlines for each chapter/scene in the story that will help trigger my writing in the coming months.

At the point I have about two thirds of my chapters outlined, I begin to feel confident about starting to write. On the first draft, while I have those outlines to follow, I often find myself veering off-track because of plot points that didn’t work or characters that develop a life of their own (I’m serious, some of my characters over the years have been a real pain!). For this reason, I generally write my first draft as quickly as possible and don’t worry too much about details in this early version—as often chapters will need to be completely rewritten or even deleted in later drafts.

Which brings me to the second draft. By this point I have usually developed a good understanding of my main characters, so I am able to return and rewrite earlier chapters to ensure a clean plot arc throughout the book. I’ll also add in more important details, names (sometimes I just leave them blank in the first draft!), and settings

Once the second draft is complete, I send it off to my editor who finds all my repeated words and incorrect grammar, before I go over it one more time myself. In the third draft I am mostly just polishing sentences and paragraphs to make sure they flow, as well as hopefully catching spelling mistakes—although my proofreader and ARC readers then have one last read over the manuscript to catch the last of these.

And walluh, I have a complete book!

When I’m working full-time, all of that generally only takes me 3 months from start to finish.

Not bad ay?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Warbringer Aaron Hodges Author PictureAaron Hodges was born in 1989 in the small town of Whakatane, New Zealand. He studied for five years at the University of Auckland, completing a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology and Geography, and a Masters of Environmental Engineering. After working as an environmental consultant for two years, he grew tired of office work and decided to quit his job and explore the world. During his travels he picked up an old draft of a novel he once wrote in High School (titled The Sword of Light) and began to rewrite the story. Six months later he published his first novel, Stormwielder, and hasn’t looked back since.

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Guest Posts

Celeste Three Is Missing – Chris Calder

Please give a warm welcome to Chris Calder, as he joins me today as part of the blog tour for Celeste Three is Missing. Many thanks to Chris for taking the time to talk to us, and to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of the tour.

BLURB:

The world’s first earth-orbit passenger plane, the sensational Celeste Three, takes off from its base in Arizona, also the only place where it is designed land. On a routine flight the craft disappears.

On board is Viktor Karenkov, billionaire oil magnate who has used his wealth to evade prosecution for a murder he committed years earlier. Gregory Topozian, the murdered man’s friend, has been waiting for a chance to bring Karenkov to justice. With dogged determination and considerable ingenuity, he conceives an audacious plan.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Celeste Three Is Missing Cover

Now, I’ll hand you over to Chris to tell you all about his upcoming novel.

Following the successful re-launch of my novel Celeste Three is Missing, I am delighted to be able to tell you that the manuscript for my latest book, provisionally entitled Growing Apart, has just been completed.

The first part of the story is set in India. Rupert Chilcott is an English civil servant who is sent there in 1936 to work for the government. He has an affair with a vivacious Anglo-Indian girl who subsequently gives birth to twin boys. But she dies in childbirth while he is in England on leave. When he gets the news, Rupert rushes back to India by air, the quickest way to make the journey. At that time it took over a week (six overnight stops!) and by the time he arrives, one of the boys has already been adopted by a childless couple in Bombay. Rupert takes the other to England.

I have a feeling that you have guessed why the book is called Growing Apart. The twins finally meet in England, when they are twenty-five years old. That happens in a tense scene where one, who does not even know of the existence of the other, is in a life-threatening situation.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Celeste Author PhotoAfter ten happy years of retirement in rural France, Chris Calder is back in England. He came late to writing novels, penning his first whilst incarcerated in a French hospital following cancer surgery. At the time he spoke little French. Unable to communicate effectively with the staff, he spent his time fleshing out his first novel. Five more have followed; light thrillers leavened with humour. Best of all, the cancer is now history.

Chris knows that readers of fiction expect to be diverted and entertained. He loves feedback and believes passionately that taking on board readers’ views improves what what he does. You can email him at chris@chriscalder.com. Go on, he’d love to hear from you.

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