Meet the Author

Louise Worthington

Today I am joining the blog tour for Distorted Days, and am delighted to be welcoming Louise Worthington to my blog for a chat. Many thanks to Louise for taking the time to do this, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of the blog tour.

As someone with experience of the publishing industry what would your top tips be for hopeful authors preparing their first submission?

 I have self-published Distorted Days. It’s literary fiction around 53,000 words so I felt it was best to self-publish. My next novel is commercial fiction/ thriller 73,000 words so I will be looking for a publisher.

Did your experience in the publishing industry make it more or less daunting when you submitted your own work for the first time?

Prior to self-publishing Distorted Days, Park Publications published a couple of short stories in their literary magazine and Fresher Press published a poem. Goodreads is a helpful site for feedback on query letters and synopsis.

Your books cover a broad variety of genres – do you have a favourite genre to write or one that comes easier to you than others?

Distorted Days is contemporary women’s fiction/ literary fiction. I’ve written a suspense/thriller which is being beta-read at the moment, and I have a third novel in the pipeline which is also a thriller. In addition to that I’m working on a novella-in-flash at the moment and a poetry anthology!

What books inspired you growing up?

I read a lot by Stephen King and Virginia Andrews. Thomas Hardy, Philip Larkin and   Shakespeare’s Hamlet made an  impression on my when I was studying A-level Literature.

Where do you do most of your writing? Do you have a particular writing regime?

MaddyI have an office at home where I do most of my writing. First thing in the morning I walk the dogs and use my phone to record ideas as they come to me. When I need a break from the office there’s a lovely coffee shop in Shrewsbury where I sometimes sit with a coffee, note pad and pen. I tend to write quickly to get the content down and then worry about the editing later, otherwise I think there’s a risk of writer’s block. I’m quite disciplined so start writing almost as soon as I get up and throughout the day for 8 – 10 hours sometimes late at night – which my faithful friend Maddy is never too happy about!

 

Thanks again to Louise for taking the time to answer my questions. Keeping reading for all the information on Distorted Days.

BLURB:

If she could speak to them, she would say they have exploded her heart, released firecrackers through her senses. She wishes she could call the police, the ambulance, the fire brigade, to arrest and anaesthetise and waterboard the bastards.

So what happens when your husband runs off with your best friend? When you discover the dead body of an old man halfway through your delivery round? When your house is burgled and you get beaten up? Doris, Andy and Colleen are about to find out. They’re also about to discover that you can find friendship and support in the oddest of places…

Heart-rending, humorous and above all authentic, Distorted Days is an exquisitely written account of the ways in which life can knock you off our feet – and how you can pick yourself up again. If you’ve experienced the fickleness of fortune, this is a book that you’ll never forget.

Distorted Days Cover

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Lulu

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Distorted Days Author PhotoLouise is the author of ‘Distorted Days’ and ‘Rachel’s Garden of Rooms.’ ‘The Entrepreneur’ will be available later in 2020. ‘The Thief’, a short story published by Park Publications, is available to download Louise Worthington’s website.

Before writing full time, Louise worked mainly as an English teacher after getting a degree in Literature and later, studying business and psychology at Masters level.

Louise grew up in Cheshire and now resides in Shropshire.

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Guest Posts

We Are Animals – Tim Ewins

I am delighted to be welcoming Tim Ewins to the blog today with a guest post about research, as part of the blog tour for We Are Animals. Many thanks to Tim 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:

A cow looks out to sea, dreaming of a life that involves grass.

Jan is also looking out to sea. He’s in Goa, dreaming of the passport-thief who stole his heart (and, indeed, his passport) forty-six years ago. Back then, fate kept bringing them together, but lately it seems to have given up.

Jan has not. In his long search he has accidentally held a whole town at imaginary gunpoint in Soviet Russia, stalked the proprietors of an international illegal lamp-trafficking scam and done his very best to avoid any kind of work involving the packing of fish. Now he thinks if he just waits, if he just does nothing at all, maybe fate will find it easier to reunite them.

His story spans fifty-four years, ten countries, two imperfect criminals (and one rather perfect one), twenty-two different animals and an annoying teenager who just…

Will…

Not…

Leave.

But maybe an annoying teenager is exactly what Jan needs to help him find the missing thief?

Featuring a menagerie of creatures, each with its own story to tell, We Are Animals is a quirky, heart-warming tale of lost love, unlikely friendships and the certainty of fate (or lack thereof).

For the first time in her life the cow noticed the sun setting, and it was glorious.

You can purchase your copy of We Are Animals here.

We Are Animals Cover

Now, without further ado, I will hand you over to Tim.

A Research Battle (and my delightful day at the zoo)

 Every writer will tell you how important research is. It can make or break a story. A novel set in history needs the right context to make sense, and a character that isn’t well researched, isn’t always believable. My wife, who works in marketing and has spent a good portion of her career as a copywriter, once reeled off facts about peat to me. To be clear, that’s peat, the substance that accumulates in bogs and out on the moors. She’d spent a week researching it and, to her surprise, she ended up finding it fascinating (I didn’t).

So, when I started researching for my first novel, We Are Animals, I was excited. I wasn’t going to write about peat (or indeed any type of turf), I was going to write about animals. This was the kind of research I could get on board with.

Chapter one. A crab. Not any kind of crab though; a sand bubbler crab, the type of crab that rolls sand into balls whilst scouring the sand for food. You wouldn’t believe how much information there is out there about these crustaceans. I lost a whole morning. Chapter one includes the line:

‘In both directions, he saw several gatherings of bubbler crabs, all rolling the sand into tiny balls behind them. That’s what bubbler crabs do.’

Later in the chapter it says:

‘I’m sixty-four!’ said the man, as a small wave washed away hundreds of the bubbler crabs’ small balls of sand.

One morning of research, right there in two sentences. To be fair, those sentences weren’t all that I gained from that research, I also confused a group of friends in the pub as to why I kept trying to drop sand bubbler crabs into the conversation.

As the book progressed, I learnt about different types of fish, the various religious beliefs surrounding cows and the eating habits of cockroaches. I also got invited to the pub less frequently. When I found that a sub-plot in the book required me to write about otters and their parental relationships, I opened google and typed ‘Otters’…

I called to my son.

‘We need to go to the zoo. It’s for research purposes.’ It’s strange, he doesn’t normally show much interest in my writing…

It turns out that the otters at Bristol Zoo Gardens are brothers. Me and my son watched them together. When one was in the pond, they were both in the pond, when one was relaxing on the little island, they both were. They seemed inseparable. We didn’t learn much about their parental relationships, other than that they leave their mothers around the age of one. After that we researched chips and a small helicopter that moves if you put a pound in it.

The zoo offered a boar, a quail and a rat to add to the book. In this instance, the research had changed the narrative of the book. It’s nice when that happens. It feels productive. (Often, the narrative of the book dictates what you research, and that’s why I spent a month reading various memoirs of everyday life in Soviet Russia).

Eventually, I put the final full-stop on the last sentence of We Are Animals. I sat back looking at the screen. It was an odd feeling. I’d spent four years writing the document in front of me, and four years learning about animals. What would I do with my time now?

I opened google and typed ‘types of cockroaches’ again. I wasn’t ready to let go just yet.

Two hours later I sat next my wife on the sofa.

‘Did you know,’ I said, ‘cockroaches can survive a month without food, and can survive underwater for half an hour. They can hold their breath for up to forty minutes!’

I looked at her expectantly. Why wasn’t she sharing my enthusiasm?

‘Forty minutes?’ she asked and then thought for a second. ‘Did you know that peat can burn underground for over a hundred years.’

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

We Are Animals Author PhotoTim Ewins has enjoyed an eight-year stand-up career alongside his accidental career in finance.

He has previously written for DNA Mumbai, had two short stories highly commended and published in Michael Terence Short Story Anthologies, and enjoyed a very brief acting stint (he’s in the film Bronson, somewhere in the background).

He lives with his wife, son and dog in Bristol. We Are Animals is his first novel.

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Guest Posts

Songbird – Karen Heenan

As part of the blog tour for Songbird, I am thrilled to be hosting author Karen Heenan for a guest post today. Many thanks to Karen 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:

Bess has the voice of an angel, or so Henry VIII declares when he buys her from her father as a member of the music, the Royal company of minstrels, best grows up with in the decadent Tudor Court navigating the ever-changing tide of royals and courtiers. Friends come and go as cracked voices, politics, heartbreak, and death loom over even the lowliest of musicians. Tom, her first and dearest friend is her only constant but as Bess becomes too comfortable at court, she may find that constancy has its limits.

You can purchase your copy of Songbird here.

Songbird Cover

Now you know all about the book, I will hand over to Karen to tell you all about the inspiration for it.

It’s funny how one small thing—a fact, a character name, a random occurrence—can send you down the rabbit hole of story.

In my case, I was reading a biography of Henry VIII, and something jumped out at me. It shouldn’t have; it was just a fact-in-passing that the King had once purchased a child for the chapel choir. He heard him singing in a street procession, had a purse thrown to the mother, and the boy was put up on the back of a horse. New musician for Henry, money (and possibly survival) for the mother and any other children, a new life for the child.

But at what cost?

It wouldn’t let me go. I finished the biography, started something completely different, and it was still there, asking, What would it feel like to have your life changed in an instant? To know that your parents had sold you—even if it was the best thing that could have happened?

Trying to answer that question led me to my protagonist, Bess, a young girl with a beautiful voice, born into desperate poverty. She’s been punished all her life for wasting time with music, so she’s confused when her father drags her across London to sing for someone she later finds out is the King of England—and then sells her to him.

Bess makes a new life at court, with friends and a substitute family, but the uncertainty of her beginnings never leaves her, and informs many of the choices (good and bad) that she makes. Who can she trust, when her own family was willing to let her go? Is it safe to love people, when they can leave you so easily?

I wanted to explore what effect this would have on a young girl, and just as much, I wanted to wander around the backstairs of the court of Henry VIII. I’ve been interested in the period since a childhood viewing of the BBC’s Six Wives of Henry VIII with my mom, who was also a big reader of historical fiction (though she preferred the bodice-ripper format).

While Henry and two of his queens do appear in Songbird, they are only peripheral figures. They’ve had plenty of airtime in other books, series, movies, etc. It’s always the “real” people who fascinate me, the ones who worked behind the scenes and, in this case, made the pageantry come alive for the nobility.

Bess becomes a member of the King’s Music, the group of musicians who live at court, travel with the King, and perform at his whim. As jobs go in the Tudor court, it’s a good one. She’s servant, but at a higher level—she certainly isn’t going to be doing laundry, which was her mother’s job, and would likely have been hers if she’d stayed with her family.

She interacts with all levels of people at court, but has some difficulty figuring out where she belongs. In a sense, Bess’s story isn’t that far removed from any of us—growing up, uncertain of our place, not knowing who to rely on. She just lives in a time and a place where loss comes from many different directions: people can die of disease or childbirth or execution, they leave for reasons of marriage, work, or just to find their own place.

Like any teenage girl, Bess has trouble seeing what’s right in front of her, and she often doesn’t want to hear the advice of people who know better. This makes her journey more difficult, and more satisfying when she finally reaches a place where she can rest.

I thought that writing Songbird would get my lifetime interest in the Tudors out of my system, but alas, I’m now neck-deep in a not-sequel featuring a secondary character from the story who stepped up and announced that he felt slighted by his treatment. (Of course he did: the day characters are happy with the way we treat them is right after the words “the end,” when we’re finally done putting them through the wringer).

It looks like historical fiction and I are going to stay together. The more I write, the more the ideas keep coming. I started late, but I’m doing my best to make up for lost time.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Songbird - karen heenan headshotKaren Heenan was born and raised in Philadelphia. She fell in love with books and stories before she learned to read, and has wanted to write for nearly as long. After far too many years in a cubicle, she set herself free to follow her dreams – which include gardening, sewing, traveling and, of course, lots of writing.

She lives in Lansdowne, PA, not far from Philadelphia, with two cats and a very patient husband.

 

 

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Guest Posts

Beyond the Margin – Jo Jackson

I am joined today by Jo Jackson, who has kindly come to tell us all about the books she remembers, as part of the blog tour for Beyond the Margin. Many thanks to Jo 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 blog tour. Without further ado, over to you Jo.

GUEST POST:

Reading is something I have enjoyed all my life. When I talk to friends who say they never read a book I wonder what they do last thing at night, first thing in the morning, on a hot summer’s day in the shade of the lime tree or on cold wet Sunday afternoons when  the log burner is on and its cosy inside.

I don’t have shelves of books. I won’t often read a book twice and I believe books are for sharing not for sitting on a dusty shelf. If you’ve read it and enjoyed it, pass it on and when it comes back to you, pass it on again.

My favourite book is God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy and my favourite author is Gerbrand Backer author of The Twin and Ten White Geese. The books below are books I remember for many different reasons.

Heidi by Joanna Spyri. I read this as a child. I no longer own a copy, but I can still see the illustrations so clearly. The beautiful alpine scenery, Heidi’s self-contained grandfather sitting outside his hut. Heidi snuggling into her attic bed. Then there was Clara, the lonely little girl who because of her illness couldn’t run and play and enjoy the flowers and the sunshine as Heidi did. This is essentially a book about love and how it grows when it’s shared. Perhaps it was reading Heidi that made me want to discover other countries and to always feel at home amongst mountains.

As a teenager on one of my regular visits to the library I brought home John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath. This was like something I’d never read before set in a landscape quite alien to me. The story depicts the hardships of a family migrating west from the Oklahoma dust bowl. On one level it’s about family unity, on another about exploitation and greed set against growing political unrest and a rising fear of communism. I’m sure I didn’t articulate those points at the time, but I loved Steinbeck’s poetic prose and his imagery. His characters were brilliantly drawn and whilst I was reading it I was part of the family. Fifty years later it’s those characteristics that still draws me to a book. I devoured every one of his novels and by the time I studied Of Mice and Men at school, Lennie was already a character I would never forget. Recently I found To a God Unknown. Written in 1933 and described as literary fantasy it has a haunting spiritualism. It is a beautiful book. The scene in the glade remains forever with me.

Content For Mai's Musings - My photo 3 (1)In recent years I have travelled to the beautiful country of Ethiopia and on another occasion camped in the Empty Quarter after travelling through the Oman.  These places were special to me because I felt I had already been there after reading Wilfred Thesiger’s wonderful travel books. He was born in 1910 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Life of My Choice is an account of his childhood and how, as he grew older, he became repulsed by the trappings of western life. He travelled extensively with the Bedu people and immersed himself in their way of life. His writing is succinct, descriptive and insightful. I suspect he was a troubled man trying to live at a time when having an unconventional personality was not applauded. He would have been difficult to know being controversial in his views and habits. I may not have liked him, but I wish I’d had the opportunity to know him because his books are wonderful.

My final book has a personal story attached but it is a book I believe everyone should read. Mornings in Jenin by Susan Abulhawa was published in 2006 and explores life in post 1948 Palestine. It shows how love and loyalty can survive amongst the horror of war and why the Middle East question remains as insoluble today as it was then.

It is a meaningful book for me because in 1983 my husband and I and our three children were returning to England after living in Egypt for two years. Our plan was to drive back through Israel and take a ferry from Haifa to Venice before driving home through Europe. The journey out of Egypt was complex and ‘making friendships’ a necessary but slow part of the process along the way. The consequence being we were too late in the day to import the car at the Egyptian/ Israeli border and our only option was to take a taxi to the nearest hotel 70 km away. Our taxi driver, a Palestinian, offered instead to take us the short distance to his house near Gaza, let us sleep there and he would bring us back to the border early the next morning to collect our car, all for the price of the taxi fare.

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When we arrived his whole extended family were there to greet us. He and his wife gave up their room and their bed and moved mattresses in for our children to sleep on. We had tea and pastries in the courtyard and anyone in the village who could speak a word of English popped in to say hello. At night he and his brother took us out for a meal and wouldn’t allow us to pay. Before we left in the morning, we had to have our photographs taken with each member of the family and his little daughter had proudly put on her best dress for the occasion.

We remember the kindness of that family with such fondness. As we watch the terrible destruction in the Gaza strip, we often think of them and hope their lives have been spared.

Of course there are many more wonderful books I have read but when I set myself this task these were the first ones to spring to mind. Perhaps you will have enjoyed some of them too.

BLURB:

Is living on the edge of society a choice? Or is choice a luxury of the fortunate?

Joe, fighting drug addiction, runs until the sea halts his progress. His is a faltering search for meaningful relationships.

‘Let luck be a friend’, Nuala is told but it had never felt that way. Abandoned at five years old survival means learning not to care. Her only hope is to take control of her own destiny.

The intertwining of their lives makes a compelling story of darkness and light, trauma, loss and second chances.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Beyond The Margin Cover

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Beyond - Author P9200709 Beyond the Margin-2Jo Jackson reads books and writes them too.

Having worked with some of the most vulnerable people in society she has a unique voice apparent in her second novel Beyond the Margin.

She was a nurse, midwife and family psychotherapist and now lives in rural Shropshire with her husband. She loves travelling and walking as well as gardening, philosophy and art.

Her first novel Too Loud a Silence is set in Egypt where Jo lived for a few years with her husband and three children. Events there were the inspiration for her book which she describes as ‘a story she had to write’.

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GIVEAWAY:

Win signed copies of Beyond the Margin and Too Loud a Silence by Jo Jackson. (UK only)

Beyond The Margin - Giveaway Prize

*Terms and Conditions –UK 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

When We Say Goodbye – Michelle Vernal

As part of the blog tour for her latest book, When We Say Goodbye, I am delighted to welcome Michelle Vernal to my blog today to talk about the inspiration behind the novel.

When We Say Goodbye is a story about Ellie Perkin’s journey through grief and how an old house holds the key to helping her heart heal. The idea for the setting of a broken-down house came from having lived in my own version of this. Back in my early twenties I’d been flatting for several years but of recent was having a bad run. I’d had to move a couple of times for different reasons but the last house I found myself in was with two young men I’d never met until I answered the flatmate wanted advert in the paper. They were personable and easy going at first everything was fine but then things began to change.

I was heading out one night and as I climbed in the car, I saw my flatmate in my bedroom watching me through the window. He made some inappropriate comments over the next week and I overheard him having a heated conversation with himself about me in the shower. I began to feel unsafe, moving things in front of my bedroom door before going to bed. My parents weren’t happy about his situation but they lived fifty minutes from the city and it wasn’t an option to go home. I didn’t want to land on friends either. In hindsight, I should have gotten out of there right away, trusted my instincts but I didn’t and luckily things worked out. Fed up with helping me shift all the time, my mum and dad decided the time had come for me to buy a house of my own.

In the interim, I told the other chap I was house-sharing with what was happening and it turned out our flatmate had a history of mental health issues. His parents picked him up one day and took him home and that was the last I heard from him.

As for my folks well, they told me they’d loan me the money for a deposit which I would pay back at a later date. It was a big leap of faith on their part especially given that at that stage of life my main concern was what to wear on Friday night. A real estate agent was enlisted and we set about looking. I had a clear idea of what I wanted. A character cottage with plenty of personality. What I got with the amount of money I was able to borrow from the bank was an ex-government owned, State house in a less than salubrious part of the city.

The first morning I’d woken to find myself in my new home, I was sipping a coffee in the kitchen when I glanced out the window to see a sight that nearly made me spill the hot liquid all over myself. There on the front lawn next door were my neighbours. If you remember that hard-hitting Kiwi film, Once Were Warriors well, that was what I was looking at. Fully patched, gang members. Not once on all those visits to see the house with the friendly real estate man had he made mention of the fellas who lived next door.

You can’t always judge a book by its cover though and I lived in that house for four years without any bother. It saw me through the worst of times, the loss of someone I was close too and the best of times, meeting my husband of nearly eighteen years, Paul. It’s the house where the seeds for When We Say Goodbye were planted.

There’s a line in the book, I love because it sums up how I felt about my old house and what my parents had done for me. ‘Uncle Colin and Aunty Paula had invested in me, and I was stepping up. I was turning something old and broken into something beautiful again.’

I hope Ellie’s story makes you smile because even though it runs the gamut of emotions it is a story ultimately about finding the beauty in life.

Many thanks Michelle for taking the time out of your hectic schedule to speak with us today.

Now for the all important book info!

When We Say Goodbye_Final cover

BLURB:

Can you love when all seems lost?

Ellie Perkins life was right on track until her boyfriend Sam suffers a near-fatal car accident, leaving him in a coma and all their future plans in limbo.

Desperately in need of something to fix, Ellie has to find a project and when her grandparents old house is put up for sale, she jumps at the chance. Because, like Ellie, the house is broken. And if she can fix the house, then surely, it’s just a matter of time before she and Sam are back on their path to happily-ever-after…

In life, when the worst happens how do you pick up the pieces?

A heart-breaking story of love, loss and the path to forgiveness, perfect for fans of Faith Hogan and Amanda Prowse. To be read with tissues.

PURCHASE LINKS:

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

btyMichelle Vernal loves a happy ending. She lives with her husband and their two boys in the beautiful and resilient city of Christchurch, New Zealand. She’s partial to a glass of wine, loves a cheese scone, and has recently taken up yoga—a sight to behold indeed. She writes books that she hopes make you feel you are curled up with your best friend having a cosy chat.

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Thanks again to Michelle, and to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of this tour. Head over to the other blogs taking part for more information on Michelle’s book.

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Extracts

The Cure – Patricia Ann Bowen

I am joining the blog tour for The Cure by Patricia Ann Bowen today, and am privileged to be able to share an extract from the book with you. Read on for a sneak peek!

BLURB:

TWO PEOPLE HARBORING SECRETS…

A stranger from the future comes to Paige’s cabin in rural Georgia with a treatment for her early onset Alzheimer’s disease. He bargains with the skeptical patient to give her The Cure if she’ll conduct a longitudinal study for him, proving his drug’s efficacy to a future world full of clients that need it. Faced with her dire diagnosis, he might be her only hope. She grapples with the side effects of his offer and learns to suppress her own dangerous truth: trust no one.

Seldom lucky in love, Paige finds herself competing with her best friend for his attention, knowing there can be no good end for their stolen moments of passion. Can she stay under the radar of the medical and legal communities to carry out his requests? And how will their complicated pasts bring them together physically, emotionally and professionally in a successful, if unethical, partnership?

Many lives will be changed, but at what cost… and to whom?

THE CURE EBOOK COVER COMPLETE

EXTRACT:

The following is part of the opening prelude to The Cure. It provides backstory on Paige, the story’s protagonist, and gives insights into her tendency to isolate herself both physically and emotionally.

Time Heals Only So Much

Normandy, France

Twenty-some years ago

Paige wrapped sweet little Rose in her favorite yellow blanket and slid her lifeless body into the oversized backpack. She put on her hiking boots, carefully donned the backpack, closed the door of her apartment behind her, and walked smoothly down the two flights of stairs so as not to jostle her precious cargo. It was only a thousand meters to the woods, a little over half a mile, and few people were out and about in the town this time of day.

Rose’s weight was light on her back, just as she’d been light in her arms, suckling from her breasts. Paige entered the sparse woods, not at all like the dense pines she was used to hiking through in north Georgia. The soil here was loose and sandy. That was good. Rose’s grave would be easy to dig.

Most villages around the World War II battle sites of Normandy had escaped the recent creep of urbanization in northern France. The face of the region was farming and tourism, and maintaining a rural look fed that image to outsiders. Paige had come here to first escape from family scrutiny and medical school pressure at home, and then the gruff bustle of Paris, just one hundred fifty miles away, with no plan but to live her life with the new life inside her. She’d decided it was nobody’s business but her own.

Her pregnancy had been easy, interesting. It was one thing to study it as a med student, another to plot the growth of the child forming in her tummy from zygote to embryo to fetus. She knew from the first day she found out she was pregnant that the baby growing inside her must be a girl. She didn’t know which man in her classes was the father. There were several possibles, students and professors, and she wasn’t sure she remembered them all. She didn’t care. This baby would be hers alone.

She walked a far distance from the gravel road until she found the small clearing. There were some olive trees, one especially twisted, easy to claim as a marker among all the others. She drew her baby from the backpack and laid her on the ground beside it. Next she took out the trowel and put it on the ground next to her child.

Rose’s life had been short, only a year. Something came in the night and took her away before she said her first word, took her first steps. But her life gave meaning to Paige’s in the slice of time she’d known her, needed her. She was just becoming a real little person….

Paige knelt down on the leafy floor, covering Rose’s body with her own. This would be the last time she’d be able to share her body’s warmth with her girl. Then she touched her tiny hands. Kissed her cold cheeks. Wrapped one of her dark curls around her finger, careful not to let her own tears fall on the beautiful little face.

Her thoughts were racing toward what special thing to do next. She had no belief in prayer. It was a waste of time, exploited action in exchange for false hope. But what could she do to commemorate the moment? She wasn’t religious, but she did find solace in rituals. Her French grandmother and then her dad used to sing Frere Jacques to her when she herself was a little girl. She began to hum the tune while she cradled Rose. The words came back to her, and then more tears poured out of her swollen eyes. She’d never again see her baby’s long lashes flutter, overcome with sleep and song.

It took her a couple of hours to dig a small deep grave in the sandy soil beside the twisted olive tree. She didn’t want to hurry what came next. She kept looking back over her shoulder at the still, soundless, blanket-covered baby. A light mist was beginning to fall, and she didn’t want Rose to get wet. She wiped her hands on her jeans, wiped her eyes with the backs of her hands and lifted her daughter into her arms one last time.

“Au revoir, ma cherie, my sweet little Rose. I love you with all my heart and I will miss you every day of my life.” After one last kiss on her forehead, one on her nose, one on each cheek, she wrapped her daughter in the soft yellow coverlet she’d made for her, placed her in the tiny grave and covered her with earth and finally a thick, warm blanket of leaves.

Paige started to leave and then remembered the backpack. She returned to the grave and picked it up, empty now, like her. She took one last look at the olive tree to imprint the site indelibly in her mind. She didn’t know if she’d ever return, but just in case….

She walked back to her apartment, really just a large room with all she’d needed for the past year and a half. She made up the foldout bed she and Rose had slept in together until two days ago, brewed a cup of tea and sat in the rocking chair until she noticed it had become dark. She couldn’t stay there another night. She just couldn’t. She filled her suitcase with essentials and left everything else behind. Her rent was paid through the end of the month and she had more than enough cash and credit to get her back to the States. There was one last train passing through the village to Paris that evening, and she boarded it with moments to spare.

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If that has whetted your appetite for more, you can order your copy of The Cure here:

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

The Cure - PAB photoPatricia Bowen writes novels, novellas and short stories, mostly about women with complicated lives. She’s been a copywriter, business owner, coach, marketing manager, and held corporate jobs in international business. She pens gardening articles for her local newspaper, and grants to support her local library. Her recent writing has appeared in the Table for Two anthology, The Sun magazine, and earned honourable mention in several contests. The Cure is her first full published work of fiction.

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Many thanks to Patricia for sharing this extract from what I think sounds a great book, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in this blog tour. Don’t forget to have a look at the other blogs taking part in the tour for more information on The Cure.

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Guest Posts

After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks – Nancy Jardine

I am delighted to welcome Nancy Jardine to my blog today. As part of the blog tour for her novel, After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks,  Nancy is here to tell us all about her writing inspiration. I will hand you straight over to Nancy now, and you can find all the book details after her post.

After Whorl Nancy Jardine 1000 x 1000Being asked about the inspiration for After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks, Book 3 of my Celtic Fervour Saga, isn’t an easy question to answer. However, one thing I can say is that during Brennus of Garrigill’s story (beginning in Book 2) I wanted to depict a huge battle between the forces of the Ancient Roman General Agricola and the Caledonian Allies, somewhere in northern Scotland. And if truth be told, not far from where I live in Aberdeenshire, because one of Agricola’s temporary marching camps is right across the road from my garden!

The Ancient Roman writer Cornelius Tacitus refers to a Battle of Mons Graupius having happened somewhere in Scotland, probably north of the central belt. Unfortunately, no battle site has ever been identified. Some experts believe there wasn’t one and that Tacitus embellished the truth to exaggerate the military exploits of his father-in-law General Agricola. Undaunted, the lack of clarity on a battle site only made me more determined to have my Brennus of Garrigill be part of a huge pitched battle in northern Scotland. Though, how to get him to this location would prove interesting!

Tacitus’ book, the ‘Agricola’, has military campaign information which I used as a rough guide, since Agricola had to subdue the natives all around north Yorkshire and Cumbria, and then those of southern and central Scotland, before he headed north east to reach the Moray Coast of Scotland. Historically, according to Tacitus, that took General Agricola about seven summer campaign seasons to achieve. (Approx. A.D 77/78 – 84) The Battle of Mons Graupius was likely to have occurred in A.D. 84. It’s A.D. 71 at the end of Book 1, so Brennus’ complete story is written across a time lapse of thirteen years.

Brennus would always be one step ahead of Agricola and his legions – even though there was a lot of geography to cover! Somewhere along the route, refugee members of my Garrigill Clan could be reunited with Brennus making the stories into a continuous family saga.

Originally my story of Brennus was one very long book at more than 120,000 words. My publisher loved the story concept but wasn’t keen on the length. However, if separated into two different books, referring to two different phases of Brennus’ story, then publishing wasn’t a problem. Book 2 became After Whorl: Bran Reborn and Book 3 After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks. The After Whorl in both titles a deliberate move to show continuity across the two books.

Book 2 describes Brennus’ new life after the Battle at Whorl (A.D.71). Having suffered life-changing injuries he assumes the new name of Bran and becomes a spy for King Venutius of the Brigantes. Book 2 covers the time period from A.D. 71 through to A.D and introduces the new characters of Ineda of Marske and the Ancient Roman Tribune Gaius Livanus Valerius. Book 2 ends at a dramatic new phase of Brennus’ life.

The rewriting to create two different books for Brennus’ story meant that my battle in northern Caledonia (NE Scotland) doesn’t happen till the end of Book 3 and what a battle it is! If the Ancient Roman Tacitus was correct about the battle then it ended up a disastrous one for the Caledonian Allies, and I felt the need to write mine in similar vein.

As a relatively new writer, I went through a huge learning curve during the separation of the two ‘After Whorl’ books, my writing style changing from Book 1 to reflect the more sober events happening to my poor Brennus. I’m delighted to say that even if his romantic happiness takes two books – it does eventually happen!

Many thanks Nancy, for taking the time to talk to us today.

After Whorl Donning Double Cloaks - Nancy Jardine

Here comes all the book info for you eager readers:

BLURB:

AD 73 Northern Roman Britain

Brennus of Garrigill—Bran—monitors Roman activity across Brigantia. Stability prevails till AD 78 when Agricola, Governor of Britannia, orders complete conquest of all barbarians. Brennus heads north, seeking the Caledon who will lead the northern tribes against Rome.
Ineda treks northwards with her master, Tribune Valerius – supplies officer for Agricola’s Britannia campaigns. At Pinnata Castra, she escapes and seeks fellow Brigantes congregating for battle in the north.

The Legions of the Roman Empire and the Caledon allies clash at Beinn na Ciche in AD 84, but where are Brennus and Ineda?

The adventures of the Garrigill Clan continue…

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Order here!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Nancy Jardine writes historical fiction; time-travel historical adventure; contemporary mystery thrillers; and romantic comedy. She lives in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, where life is never quiet or boring since she regularly child minds her young grandchildren who happen to be her next-door neighbours. Her garden is often creatively managed by them, though she does all the work! Her husband is a fantastic purveyor of coffee and tea…excellent food and wine! (Restorative, of course)

A member of the Historical Novel Society; Scottish Association of Writers; Federation of Writers Scotland; Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Independent Alliance of Authors, her work has achieved finalist status in UK competitions.

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GIVEAWAY:

Win x1 signed paperback of After Whorl: Double Cloaks to one UK winner; X1 kindle copy worldwide

*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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Thanks again Nancy, for the fascinating post, and to Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in this tour. If you would like to know more about the book, head on over to the other blogs taking part in the tour.

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