Cover Reveal: When Stars Will Shine @BakerPromo @emmamitchellfpr @TheQuietKnitter

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When Stars Will Shine
is a collection of short stories from your favourite authors who have come together to deliver you a Christmas read with a twist.

With true war tales that will break your heart, gritty Christmas crimes that will shake you to your core, and heart warming tales of love lost and found, this anthology has something for everyone. And, with every penny made being sent to support our troops, you can rest assured that you’re helping our heroes, one page at a time.

From authors such as Louise Jensen, Graham Smith, Malcolm Hollingdrake, Lucy Cameron, Val Portelli, and Alex Kane, you are in for one heck of a ride!

Cover Reveal:


PRE-ORDER ON AMAZON


A Note From Emma Mitchell:

As the blurb tells us, When Stars Will Shine is a multi-genre collection of Christmas themed short stories complied to raise money for our armed forces and every penny made from the sales of both the digital and paperback copies will be donated to the charity.

Working closely with Kate Noble at Noble Owl Proofreading and Amanda Ni Odhrain from Let’s Get Booked, I’ve been able to pick the best of the submissions to bring you a thrilling book which is perfect for dipping into at lunchtime or snuggling up with on a cold winter’s night. I have been completely blown away by the support we’ve received from the writing and blogging community, especially the authors who submitted stories and Shell Baker from Baker’s Not So Secret Blog, who has organised the cover reveal and blog tour.

When Stars Will Shine is available for pre-order now and will be published on 9 December 2019.

There isn’t anyone in the country who hasn’t benefited from the sacrifices our troops, past and present, have made for us and they all deserve our thanks.

It has been an honour to work on these stories and to create this anthology and I hope you enjoy reading the stories as much as I have.


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Book Review: The Widow of Pale Harbour by Hester Fox @HesterBFox @HQstories

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A town gripped by fear. A woman accused of murder. Who can save Pale Harbour from itself?

1846. Desperate to escape the ghosts of his past, Gabriel Stone takes a position as a minister in the remote Pale Harbour, but not all is as it seems in the sleepy town.

As soon as Gabriel steps foot in town, he can’t escape the rumours about the mysterious Sophy Carver, a young widow who lives in the eerie Castle Carver: whispers that she killed her husband, mutterings that she might even be a witch.

But as strange, unsettling events escalate into murder, Gabriel finds himself falling under Sophy’s spell. As clues start to point to Sophy as the next victim, Gabriel realises he must find answers before anyone else turns up dead.

Buy the Book: UK & IE

Review:

After reading The Witch of Willow Hall last year, I was desperate to get my hands on The Widow of Pale Harbour. Witchy books, especially at this time of the year, are like a drug to me. 

Like the her first book, The Widow of Pale Harbor is hauntingly addictive. Hester Fox has an incredible way of drawing you into her locations, making you feel like you're right there witnessing what's happening in the characters' lives. 

This book is definitely not a roller coaster, but I was prepared. The Witch of Willow hall was slow but steeped in mystery, and this book is no different. Don't be fooled by the slow start, you might think you have the plot figured out, but I can almost guarantee you'll be wrong. If you allow yourself to get lost in the atmosphere of this book and you'll really enjoy the experience. 

I found Sophronia (or Sophy as she's called) to be such a wonderful character. She was hated and maligned by the townspeople but remained a kind and graceful soul. A perfect match for the grieving minister, Gabriel. It was a joy to watch the two characters develop as the story progressed.

If you're a fan of Edgar Allan Poe, then you'll love this book as the mysteries scattered throughout are directly related to his poems and they add another delightfully creepy layer to the book. 

Murder, mystery and romance, The Widow of Pale Harbour is everything you could possibly want in a book at this time of the year. Put on the fire and get comfy because once you start it you won't be able to put it down! 


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Blog Tour: Inspiration Behind The Dead of Winter by A.B. Gibson @ABGibson1 #LoveBooksTours

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Four young professionals pick the wrong weekend to visit a popular Pumpkin Patch Bed and Breakfast. It’s the last day of the season, and the weather and the farm are picture-perfect. Ma and Pa Winter are the consummate hosts, and they immediately win over Dillon, Tara, Josh and Julia with their homespun authenticity. Like the thousands of other visitors to Winters Farm and Orchard, the four are eager to pick apples and pumpkins and take the challenge of the Giant Corn Maze. But Ma Winter has other plans. A scary moonlight hayride spirals into a frantic twenty-four hours of deception and mayhem, and the group find themselves unwilling participants in a horrific family tradition.

Guest Post by A.B. Gibson:

Write what you know––to a point.


For fifteen years, my partner and I owned a destination farm near Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. Ours was one of those family-friendly places where one could pick apples in our three-thousand tree orchard, pick a pumpkin off the vine in a five-acre patch, and take the challenge of the Giant Corn Maze. It was a lively place in the fall, when over a thousand people a day would visit each Saturday and Sunday. During the week, elementary schools kept us busy hosting their field trips, and everyday school busses would line our long driveway. Our farm had a wholesome reputation, so church groups and civic organizations brought their members regularly for group fun.

But I was desperate to put on a scary attraction. I’d been a consultant to a Fright Festival in another state for several years before we dared host our own “Haunting Season,” and I was aware of two great fears of putting on such an event:  liability issues, and that it would be lame.

Our intention was to offer a full-throttle scary experience, and I started out with the premise that things are the scariest when they seem real. We didn’t use animatronics or static scenes displaying preposterous gore, as was so common in Halloween events. OUr hayride path wound its way around the same farm our guests would have visited during the day, and to encounter a graveyard or a mad scientist’s lab on the property would have been neither believable nor scary. What we did instead, was startle.

Getting the timing right every bit as important to a creating a successful fright as it is to a memorable comedy routine, and our secret was tight choreography. Each jump, scare, and rip of the chainsaw was done in precise order, by the same actors, and exactly the same way every ride. Our Moonlight Hayrides always started out lame, and just when folks would get bored, our tractor would break down. That’s when the fun began. After terrorizing the wagon for several minutes, actors dressed as clowns with chainsaws would pick unsuspecting customers (They were always plants––see above fear of liability.) and drag them off the wagon into a cornfield, where they would scream their bloody heads off. Yes, we auditioned people for their screaming skills.

On a flight to Los Angeles one day, I had the idea for a screenplay. What if four young professionals pick the wrong weekend to visit the farm? And what if the farm’s owners weren’t as hospitable as we had been? And what if their chainsaws were equipped with real chains?

The screenplay got delayed, but in the meantime I used the plot for my first horror novel, The Dead of Winter.



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Blog Tour: The inspiration Behind The Weighing of The Heart by Paul Tudor Owen @PaulTOwen @ObliteratiPress@lovebooksgroup

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Following a sudden break-up, Englishman in New York Nick Braeburn takes a room with the elderly Peacock sisters in their lavish Upper East Side apartment, and finds himself increasingly drawn to the priceless piece of Egyptian art on their study wall - and to Lydia, the beautiful Portuguese artist who lives across the roof garden.

But as Nick draws Lydia into a crime he hopes will bring them together, they both begin to unravel, and each find that the other is not quite who they seem.

Paul Tudor Owen's intriguing debut novel brilliantly evokes the New York of Paul Auster and Joseph O'Neill.

Guest Post: The Inspiration


My novel The Weighing of the Heart is about a young British guy living in New York called Nick Braeburn, who moves in with a couple of rich older ladies as a lodger in their opulent apartment on the Upper East Side. He gets together with their other tenant, Lydia, who lives next door, and the two of them steal a priceless work of art from the study wall.

The work of art that Nick and Lydia take is an Ancient Egyptian scene, and as the stress of the theft starts to work on them, the imagery of Ancient Egypt, the imagery in the painting, starts to come to life around them, and it’s intended to be unclear whether this is something that is really happening or whether it’s all in Nick’s head.

Originally the artwork wasn’t an Ancient Egyptian scene at all; it was a 1960s pop art work. But not long after I had started the book I went to a fascinating exhibition at the British Museum called The Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead, which told the story of what the Ancient Egyptians believed happened to you when you die.

As I learnt from the exhibition, the Ancient Egyptians believed in a ceremony called ‘the weighing of the heart’, something in some ways similar to the Christian idea of St Peter standing at the gates of Heaven, deciding whether or not you have lived a worthy enough life to come in.

In the Ancient Egyptian version, Anubis, the god of embalming, presides over a set of weighing scales, with the heart of the dead person on one side and a feather on the other.

If the heart is in balance with the feather, you get to go to Heaven, which they called the Field of Reeds.

But if your heart is heavier than the feather, you get eaten by an appalling monster called the Devourer, who has the head of a crocodile, the body of a lion, and the back legs of a hippopotamus – three of the most dangerous creatures that Ancient Egyptians could encounter.

To the Ancient Egyptians, the heart, rather than the brain, was the home of a person’s mind and conscience and memory, which was why it was the heart they were weighing.

And, intriguingly, one thing they were afraid of was that the heart would actually try to grass you up during this ceremony – sometimes the heart would speak up and reveal your worst sins to Anubis at this crucial moment. You could prevent this from happening by keeping hold of a little ‘heart scarab’.

I was spellbound by this ornate mythology, which had formed over centuries and millennia; I loved the way it was so familiar in its overall concept but so strange and unfamiliar in its details.

And I suddenly realised that the painting Nick and Lydia should steal should be an image of this ceremony, the weighing of the heart. It was so fitting, because the book is essentially about guilt and innocence; it’s about you weighing up as a reader how much you trust Nick as a narrator, and it’s about Nick himself and the people around him weighing up how much they trust him, what they think of him, what they know about him and his character. And without spoiling it for anyone who hasn’t read it, I hope that I found a way to knit all that imagery into the book effectively, especially towards the end.

Once I’d settled on this, there were a number of strange coincidences. I found out there was an artist who used to work for the British Museum who had become quite well-known for producing reproductions of Ancient Egyptian scenes. His name is James Puttnam, and I discovered he was going to give a talk at the Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities in Hackney, so I went to see the talk and ended up partly basing the artist in the book on him.

And at one point in The Weighing of the Heart Nick recalls a school trip to the British Museum, and it is suggested he might have stolen one of these heart scarabs that could protect you during the ceremony. I had written this scene but I wanted to get the details right, so I looked through the British Museum’s collection of scarabs on their website and identified the one that best fit the bill, and then I went down to the museum to take a look at it in person.

But when I got there and found the case where this scarab was supposed to be, the space for this scarab was empty. Instead of the object itself there was just a note on the wall that said: ‘Heart scarab (lost).’

It was a strange moment of life imitating art.

• Paul Tudor Owen’s debut novel The Weighing of the Heart is published by Obliterati Press and has been nominated for the People’s Book Prize 2019 and the Not the Booker Prize 2019

Twitter: @paultowen
Instagram: @paultowen
Website: https://paul-tudor-owen.tumblr.com

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Blog Tour Guest Post: My Own Choice, by Ryder on the Storm Author Ray Clark @T1LOM @lovebooksgroup

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When builder Terry Johnson spots what he thinks is a bargain he can’t resist but to succumb to temptation. The large, detached house stands on the side of a railway track and would be perfect for his needs … and it’s cheap! 

But Billington Manor has a very tainted history, and the grounds upon which it stands were part of an unsolved murder back in the 1850s. Terry is about to discover that the road to hell is not always paved with good intentions.

Based upon a true incident, Ryder On The Storm is a stand-alone supernatural crime novella from the author of the IMP series, featuring desk sergeant Maurice Cragg.  

My Own Choice.


It’s surprising how many real life incidents can influence your writing. I once visited a wonderful little place called Woods Hole, in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

I had not booked any accommodation but the tourist information sent me to a large Colonial mansion: The Woods Hole Inn. I parked the car and the only person I saw was a South American who spoke as much English as I did Mexican. I managed to convey that I was after a room. He took me into the building, grabbed his mobile phone, called God knows who, and then passed it over to me.

The voice on the other end asked if I’d looked around? I said yes, and told him, pretty amazing: beautiful place. By now, I thought it might be best to leave: I didn’t think my budget would stretch to a room here. He said, great, pick a room and settle down, we’ll talk later. The line disconnected and I gave the phone back to the Mexican, who then disappeared.

After depositing my stuff and exploring Woods Hole, I eventually returned as it was starting to go dark. The lights were on but there was no one home. I showered and changed, went back out for a meal, returning later that night for bed and still I saw no one.
 
I awoke the next morning, showered and changed, opened my bedroom door into a dining room with a fully laid breakfast table. It appeared there was still only me. Concern seeped into my brain. Where was I? Nevertheless I still ate breakfast. With the pots cleared, and a plan for the day, I took the car out, returning once again as it started to go dark. Passing an empty reception on the way to my room, I showered and changed and went back out for a meal, wondering if I would spend my entire stay alone. If I did, maybe I wouldn’t have to pay!

Returning after the meal, the lights were burning nicely, the atmosphere was serene but there was still only me. Why I locked my room I had no idea – it wasn’t like anyone was coming for me. The next morning the same thing: empty dining room, full table. The first and only thought that came to mind was, The Twilight Zone. Here I was at last. I had finally entered the strange little world of Rod Serling. Leaving could be a problem. Would I be allowed to? Great story for a writer.

After breakfast I passed reception when a voice boomed out, ‘morning’. Once he’d picked me up off the floor and phoned 911 for a near fatal heart attack, we had a great laugh. He explained how sorry he was that he couldn’t be here when I arrived, but he was in hospital having an operation on his foot. The second bonus was that the room only turned out to be $85 per night plus tax: the third bonus was paying cash: he said, forget the tax.

That still ranks as one of the strangest but best holidays I’ve ever had. I remember catching the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard where Steven Spielberg filmed his smash hit, Jaws, which to this day, remains a classic.

And the strangest thing of all? I still haven’t written that story in any form whatsoever.

Maybe one day.

BUY THE BOOK


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Blog Blitz: Guest Post by #DeepBlue Author @McCaffreyKristy @lovebooksgorup

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Don’t miss this first book in a suspenseful new series!!

In the deep blue ocean lives an ancient predator… 

Dr. Grace Mann knows great white sharks. As the daughter of an obsessed shark researcher based at the Farallon Islands, Grace spent her childhood in the company of these elegant and massive creatures. When a photo of her freediving with a great white goes viral, the institute where she works seeks to capitalize on her new-found fame by producing a documentary about her work. 

Underwater filmmaker Alec Galloway admires Dr. Mann and jumps at the opportunity to create a film showcasing the pretty biologist. As he heads to Guadalupe Island in Baja California Sur for a three-week expedition, it’s clear that his fan-boy crush on Grace is turning into something more serious. But even more pressing—Grace’s passionate focus on the sharks just might get her killed.

Guest Post: The Great White Sharks of Guadalupe Island

By Kristy McCaffrey

Guadalupe Island, off the coast of Baja California in Mexico, is host to one of the most prolific populations of great white sharks in the world. First discovered and observed by the San Diego sport-fishing fleet, this twenty-mile long island offers crystal clear water and water temperatures in the range of 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit.

From August through January, the sharks are drawn to the water due to the abundant food supply consisting of Northern Elephant Seals, Guadalupe Fur Seals, California Sea Lions and Yellowfin Tuna. Over 200 individual sharks have been identified, and each year the Marine Conservation Science Institute (MCSI) publishes a book featuring current photos which is available for purchase to the public.

The largest females tend to return to Guadalupe Island every third year, likely to feed and mate, although white shark mating has never been witnessed or filmed. And while many of the females are thought to be pregnant, it’s presumed they give birth elsewhere, likely the Sea of Cortez. Current studies from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution estimate that great whites can live to be 70 years old or more.

The largest and most famous great white—a female named Deep Blue—was documented at Guadalupe Island in 2015. At that time, she was estimated to be 20 feet long and at least 50 years old. She was recently seen again this past January off the coast of Hawaii feeding on a dead sperm whale that had been towed out to sea. Her identity was confirmed by MCSI based on her markings and dorsal fin profile. Her appearance confirms the long migratory patterns great whites undertake. In the early 2000’s, scientists tracked one great white’s 12,400 mile journey from South Africa to Western Australia and back.

******

Don’t miss DEEP BLUE by Kristy McCaffrey

In the deep blue ocean lives an ancient predator…
 
When a photo of Dr. Grace Mann freediving with a great white shark goes viral, the institute where she works seeks to capitalize on her new-found fame by producing a documentary about her work. Underwater filmmaker Alec Galloway admires Dr. Mann and jumps at the opportunity to create a film showcasing the pretty biologist. But can he keep her safe when her passionate focus on the sharks repeatedly leads her into danger? 

“A sexy adventure packed with spine-tingling suspense … and sharks!” ~ Ann Charles, USA Today Bestselling Author

Website: https://kmccaffrey.com/
Newsletter: https://kmccaffrey.com/PathwayNewsletter
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/AuthorKristyMcCaffrey
Twitter:  https://www.twitter.com/McCaffreyKristy
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kristymccaffrey/

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Blog Tour: Guest Post by Sealed With Death Author, @JamesSilvester1 @UrbaneBooks @lovebooksgroup

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Still new to the top secret Overlappers intelligence team, and on her first `hit' alone, Lucie Musilova has an attack of conscience and nearly botches the operation, taking a bullet wound before finishing off her target. Though her injuries are minor, she is chastised for her carelessness and assigned desk duties. Here she investigates a number of disappearances of European women from Britain - the women all missing without trace until the body of one is discovered, raped and murdered. Lucie learns that tens of women have disappeared, all with little investigation. As she digs deeper she begins to uncover a terrifying international conspiracy that potentially threatens not just her life, but to topple Governments....  

Guest Post:

Blame Timothy Dalton. Seriously, if you read my books, either the ‘Prague Thrillers’ series or the adventures of Lucie Musilova and roll your eyes heavenwards in disbelief at what you read, then you can blame Timothy Dalton. Not that he twisted my arm and talked me into trying my hand at writing of course, but it’s thanks to him that I first began to develop what some might call a style; or at least it’s thanks to a particular performance.

If you’ve never seen the opening half of ‘The Living Daylights’, even if Bond films aren’t your cup of tea, watch it. Devoid of quips and in no mood to suffer fools, the new 007 waits as a brooding assassin, his eyes searching for threats as a Russian General scrambles from a window at the Bratislava conservatoire, seeking sanctuary in the West. It’s dark and tense Cold War stuff, and Dalton excels as a reluctant agent; a man good at his job but who hates doing it.
“Stuff my orders,” he tells a colleague threatening to report him to ‘M’, “if he fires me I’ll thank him for it.”

That characterisation fascinated me then and has stayed with me ever since, working its way into the thrillers I write. Superheroes are brilliant to watch, but are un-relatable in the world of spy thrillers. The world may need heroes to save it, but those heroes should be real people; flawed, reluctant and every bit as imperfect as real people are. That for me as a reader is what keeps me interested and keeps the story grounded, wherever the plot may take us. 
Lucie Musilova is (I hope) such a hero; a capable, confident woman, haunted by her past and her vulnerabilities but overcoming them to do a job she isn’t sure she wants to do at all. Her next adventure is out on 11th July, and I very much hope you enjoy it.

About the Author:

James Silvester's debut novel and sequel, Escape to Perdition and The Prague Ultimatum, reflected his love both of central Europe and the espionage genre and was met with widespread acclaim. His new series features strong female protagonist Lucie Musilova, a character fully reflective of Europe’s changing cultural and political landscape. James lives in Manchester.   

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Blog Tour: 7 Interesting Facts About Mallorca and The Painter by @SupernovaQ @UrbaneBooks @lovebooksgroup

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In a desire to impress the people who visit his workshop, renowned artist The Painter, employs a gardener to create an inspirational landscape which includes a labyrinth, an orange grove and Moorish-inspired fountains. They develop an intimate relationship and the Painter, whose life and talent had become increasingly dissipated, finds himself slowly recovering his original innocence and talent. However, the relationship is tainted by the Painter's jealousy when visitors express more interest in the magical garden and mysterious labyrinth than in the Painter's art. That jealously blossoms into deadly rage when The Painter catches the gardener changing one of his paintings.... Deirdre Quiery's compelling new thriller explores themes of love, life and deceit, and examines the lengths we will go to pursue and protect our passions.  

Guest Post:

1. In Mallorca I discovered that I am naïve. Before coming to Mallorca I was unconscious of what it means to be naïve. I grew up in Belfast during The Troubles – knew what it meant to live in a violent society where uncles were murdered, bombs placed outside the house and the family were taken hostage by the IRA with a cousin killed in the crossfire. I worked in the corporate world. Three company cars sat in the driveway of a semi-detached house in Oxford. I was a “corporate woman”. It was only arriving in Mallorca that I realised I hadn’t a clue how to understand a culture that is non-corporate.

2. How did that impact on you? When did you realise that you were naïve? It took time. Living during the first 18 months in an olive grove with no running water, no fixed line telephone, and no internet maybe didn’t help. I had to scramble down a mountain to buy a litre of milk and scramble back up again with the sheep for neighbours and oranges growing on the orange trees for friends. I realised that I was naïve when I allowed my husband to work unpaid for a man called J. J had been walking in Alcudia in the North of the island when a freak wave swept his two children out to sea. They hung onto his shoulders as he tried to save them and then slipped away as he was dashed against the rocks. That was true. What wasn’t true was that the reason his business failed was not the loss of his children but his incompetence. So my husband worked for over a year to help him and never received a euro. That’s naïve.

3. What other interesting fact about living in Mallorca impacted on your writing of The Painter?  Seeing Bob Geldof in a supermarket in Soller and nobody recognised him. I realised the beauty of not being known. I built that into The Painter in a paradoxical way. 

4. Having no water is essential to human life. Having too much water is dangerous. Living in the second olive grove the house flooded every year when the rains came. Then when the drought came there was no water. I realised that life is a balance of having and not having. That balance is in The Painter.

5. There are insane people close to my home and yet I see their sanity. There is a woman who always asks me for 1 euro and gives me a kiss. She sleeps under a bridge. I gave her a bag of my clothing. I saw her wearing my blouses and my leggings, sitting on the ground, smoking you know what. She pointed at the clothes saying, “They’re yours. Have you anymore?” I thought that was a wise question. 

6. I’ve learned to love Nature and also to be terrified by it. Mallorca is an island of intense beauty and also of immense energy. I see the beauty of Nature in the blossoming of a jasmine plant and also the terror of it in a storm. In March the Sirocco winds arrive and people commit suicide. People here are frightened by the wind. I love the wind’s energy and understand the fear it brings.
7. Mallorca for me is not a playground. It is an island of intense beauty and spirit. I came here to change. It has happened and you will read that in The Painter.


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Blog Tour: Author Claire Johnston's Publishing Journey @ClareS_J @UrbaneBooks @lovebooksgroup

09:52




When internet millionaire and philanthropist Harry Melville dies in a car crash at the age of forty four, the lives of his wife, Sarah, and twin brother, Ben, are thrown into turmoil.

Harry seemed to have it all; a close-knit family and a happy marriage - along with all the trappings of wealth. Yet as he recalls his past from the afterlife, a story emerges of the unspoken and bitter jealousies between brothers and of an unhappy wife burdened by loneliness and guilt.

When Ben takes over the running of Harry's charity foundation he begins to find purpose for the first time in years. But the arrival of a talented young artist brings a series of revelations that expose Harry's complex and dual personality in full. As he learns his part in the suffering of those he left behind, is it too late for Harry to make amends?

A tale of regret and redemption in this world and the next. From the Outside looks at the futile rivalries that can destroy sibling relationships and the lost opportunity for happiness when ego is allowed to reign over emotion.

Guest Post: Claire Johnston's Publishing Journey

I had been working as a journalist for over a decade when I first began to dabble in fiction. It was a natural progression for an avid reader and professional writer, and I naively assumed the hard bit would be actually completing a manuscript.
As it turned out, that was the easy bit.

I found writing fiction to be a liberating experience, the ultimate indulgence for a journalist who had spent years fact checking every second word to leave my fingertips. Suddenly, I was free to write whatever I wished. There were no rules. 

When I first came up with the idea for From the Outside – which tells the story of a multimillionaire killed in a car crash who watches the impact of his death from the afterlife – it didn’t occur to me at all to consider which genre the novel would fit in and how it would be marketed. It was simply a creative outpouring at a time in my life where I was searching for answers following the tragic passing of my cousin at far too young an age.

It was only when I started to contact agents that I was soon confronted by the realities of the industry. Which other novels of a similar theme and genre could I point to that sold well? This, I soon realised, is the crunch question for any novelist starting a new project. 
If you embark on a crime or sci-fi thriller, a romance, or something that neatly fits in a box, then agents and publishers can immediately visualise how they can market your work.  
From the Outside doesn’t fit neatly into a particular publishing genre, but then that should never put an author off. 

Happily, after sending out queries, I secured an agent for FTO, who was enchanted by the story and talked of a six-figure bidding war. Then, suddenly, the recession hit, and publishers were not willing to take any chances. My agent said we should hang fire and I decided to write a political thriller to keep the ball rolling. 

The resulting manuscript, Polls Apart, was accepted by a publisher in 2010 who also signed FTO. They published Polls Apart first – which brings me to the point where I need to be careful what I say. Ultimately, the publishing experience around Polls Apart wasn’t a rewarding one and I feared the same thing would happen with From the Outside. Cutting a long story short, I was able to secure the rights to From the Outside, but it was a difficult time and, as a result, I did nothing further with the manuscript for a few years. 

Then, three years ago, I heard a radio interview with Marlon James, the Man Booker Prize-winning author, in which he revealed his debut novel had been rejected nearly 80 times. Clearly another book that didn’t fit neatly in a publishing box.
I was so struck by his comments, because when I totted up all the queries I’d sent in earlier years for From the Outside, it must have amounted to at least 50. I had all but given up hope, but that interview inspired me.

I’m fairly active on social media and I had noticed a few Tweets by a new publisher, Urbane Publications, that caught my eye. I really liked what they represented – they view their relationship with authors as a genuine partnership where both have an equal stake in how the title is marketed – and so I dropped their publishing director Matthew Smith a note along with the first three chapters of From the Outside.

Time passed, I got back to my hectic working life and I forgot about it.
Then, probably a year later when I was on holiday in the US, I got an email from Matthew saying he was interested in publishing FTO. 
The experience with Urbane has been so positive and I have discovered renewed passion for my fictional work. 

I will be forever grateful to them for taking a chance on From the Outside. We need more independent publishers like Urbane who look to push the envelope and bring readers fresh fiction that lives on in the mind long after the final page has been turned.
Quite often those books just don’t fit in a box.

About Claire Johnston

Clare Johnston is a journalist and content specialist, and a frequent contributor on radio and TV, having appeared on Radio 4's Woman's Hour, The Kaye Adams Programme and comedy satire show Breaking the News on BBC Radio Scotland, along with STV2's Live at Five. She is a former editorial director of Press Association Scotland and commercial editor and columnist with the Daily Record. She is currently working with the DC Thomson media group and supports businesses with communication and content creation. Clare is based in Edinburgh.   
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Blog Tour: by A Publishing Journey Killing Sin author, K.H. Irvine @KHIrvineAuthor @UrbaneBooks @lovebooksgroup

07:00


Would you surrender your secrets to save a life?

London. It could be tomorrow. Amala Hackeem, lapsed Muslim tech entrepreneur and controversial comedian, dons a burqa and heads to the women's group at the Tower Hamlets sharia community. What is she doing there?

Ella Russell, a struggling journalist leaves home in pursuit of the story of her life. Desperate for the truth, she is about to learn the true cost of the war on terror.

Millie Stephenson, a university professor and expert in radicalisation arrives at Downing Street to brief the Prime Minister and home secretary. Nervous and excited she finds herself at the centre of a nation taken hostage. And then it gets personal.

Friends since university, by the end of the day the lives of all three women are changed forever. They will discover if friendship truly can survive secrets and fear.

Guest Post: A Publishing Journey


If it takes a village to raise a child it takes a small town to have a book published. Publishing is an industry saturated by subjectivity, serendipity and slush piles. I was lucky as I had a great friend who had been an editor and knew how it worked but even then rollercoaster doesn’t do it justice….here’s my story and her’s (the wise woman editor).

Year One – aged 50

Wow, I’m writing a book. I am in a house on the Causeway Coast in Northern Ireland and I have newspaper clippings and notes everywhere. I feel such a fraud. The wee girl from the Scottish council estate getting above herself to write a book but the wise woman editor (WWE) that is my friend said, ‘write big, write like no one will read it, write like you deserve to.’ So I try. It takes me all year to get the first draft.



Year Two – aged 51

I send it to the WWE who is kind but honest…I think the sub text is you have a glimmer of a story but it’s drowning in a lot of exposition and showing off your research that makes it incredibly boring (it was the zzzzzz in the margin that gave it away). Back to the drawing board and a few more edits and then we send it to a friendly agent in Australia (where WWE lives). She loves it, she wants it, we have hit the jackpot. She is a serious agent with amazing authors under her wing…I bought champagne. I did more edits.

Then with no explanation said agent changed her mind, sent an email to say ‘no thanks’ and through me back in the wilderness.



Year Three – aged 52

As a mature and well balanced woman I did the only thing possible and sulked. I also drank a lot of wine and developed an addiction to Celebrations (other small chocolates are available). But then I got back in the saddle and WWE said how about we give it my mate who has been an editor for many a year (for some VERY big bestsellers) and see what she makes of it so we give it WWE 2. WWE 2 is incisive and direct but with a great heart and makes it a better book. How many edits now? 15 or 16 I think. God, that rewrite after rewrite is dull.



Year Four – aged 53

The two WWE are in my corner. We are a team and we are going to have a go at getting this damn book published so they combine their little black book of agents from all their years in publishing and try to sell me in, avoiding the slush piles…who knew it would be so brutal. The rejections flooded in. A few of my favourites; ‘I don’t think such high powered women would have friends’ (aagghhh), ‘It’s hard to like successful women, I can’t relate to them.’ (both of these from women) and ‘it seems morally ambiguous, you don’t seem to say what is right and wrong (that’s kind of the point – I never have and will never condone violence of any sort but I do believe we need a better conversation about why so many people are attracted to extremes – not just Islamist).

But then the jackpot – again! You maybe know how this is going to go. This time a huge international agent in London. This time it’s film rights, audio, making a huge impact, being brave….and then it went a bit cold. And then ice like until the ‘it’s not you it’s me email’ (is no one in publishing brave enough to dump you in person I ask??) The email … .’Because whilst it is timely and prescient I feel very squeamish about submitting it at a time when terror attacks of the kind you close the novel with are increasingly likely. I know you would argue, and rightly so, that this is exactly why it should be sold and published…and you are likely to be right, but I just don’t feel I want to represent it in the current climate.’

That was tough.

Year Five – aged 54

I am invited to the BBC – they like A Killing Sin but they are more interested in book 2 which is the rise of the Far Right. I decide to buckle down to right that one.

I decide to apply to be a mentor on the Prevent Programme; mentoring those terrorists, like the 7/7 bombers who are up for parole. I believe we need to look at all options and it feels like a good way to do good and do research. I am interviewed and selected.

Then Urbane came along and had a new model, a new way of working, skipping past agents straight to authors and ballsy enough to take a punt. We shake hands and we publish.

Then…. the Home Office read it and decide some of my points may ‘bring their programme into disrepute’ so they no longer want me. I buckle down to write again. I am super grateful for a chance to get my story out there so I let that door close.

Big thanks to the two WWE and the team at Urbane and no hard feelings anywhere else along the way – I get it – sometimes controversy makes us scared, sometimes it makes us challenge, question and explore…I hope A Killing Sin does that.


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Book Review: The Mummy Bloggers by @hollycwain @legend_press

09:00


Meet three Mummy Bloggers - each of them followed, idolised, imitated, taunted and trolled online.

Elle Campbell is a glossy, lycra-clad mum with washboard abs, a ten-year plan and a secret past. Abi Black has quit sugar, moved to the country and is homeschooling her kids. Leisel Adams slogs away at her office job each day before rushing home, steeped in guilt, to spend precious moments with her kids before bedtime.

When all three women are nominated for a prestigious blogging award with a hefty cash prize, the scene is set for a brutal and often hilarious battle for hearts, minds-and clicks. As the awards night gets closer, their lies get bigger, their stunts get crazier - and some mistakes from the past become harder and harder to hide.

The Mummy Bloggers is a frank and funny look at the perils and perks of life online.

Review:

I remember reading the early marketing material for this book on Legend's Instagram page. I knew I wanted to read this book before I even had a look at the blurb!

I've been a book blogger for a while, but I've dabbled in lifestyle blogging for a very brief period. Lifestyle and mummy blogging is a world away from reviewing books online. The sheer competitive nature of some of these people is astounding. Great material for a book!

As you read The Mummy Bloggers you might find yourself thinking, this is too far-fetched, there is no way anyone would try to pull this crap. Well, I can tell you, I have seen every insane stunt in this book played out by a real blogger. Yes -- every stunt. I won't tell you which one I'm referring to but when you read the book you'll know. 

The writing flows very well and I found each of the characters to be well rounded and very realistic (as mad as some of them are). The characters - even the devious ones- are likable and they made this book a really fun read. The drama will suck you right in and you'll find yourself flying through the pages just to see how one blogger is going to outdo the other. 

The mummy bloggers was such an enjoyable read and the characters were so developed but the only piece of criticism would be that I felt the ending was a cut a little short, a little rushed. Don't let that put you off though. The crazy characters and hilarious attempts at one up-manship make The Mummy Bloggers the perfect  weekend or holiday read. 


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Guest Post:Inspiration, Myth or Gift by Final Reckoning Author Chris Bishop @CBishop_author ‏ @RedDoorBooks @lovebooksgroup

08:00



Despite Alfred's great victory at Edington, Wessex is far from secure.

With the threat of an imminent Viking attack, Matthew, now a warrior, is sent to fortify and defend the ford at Leatherhead. There, hopelessly outnumbered, he faces his sternest test as he and a small band of barely trained Saxon warriors strive to hold out long enough for help to arrive or resolve to die trying.

In a time ravaged by political uncertainty, Matthew is placed in intense personal danger as he is also ordered to investigate the tyranny of the Ealdorman's stepson and dispense justice as he sees fit.

With his life still threatened by the wound to his chest, what is asked of him seems more than any man should endure as he faces . . . The Final Reckoning

Guest Post: Inspiration - Myth or Gift? 


I think it was P. G. Wodehouse who, when asked about writing, replied that you sit in front of the typewriter and curse a bit! Whilst probably not the most constructive advice, it is possibly more satisfying that staring at a blank sheet of paper hoping for inspiration. 

I’ve heard other writers speak about how they’ve been blessed with the inspiration for a novel like a ‘Gift from the Gods’. Whilst I’m sure that can happen, I’ve never experienced it quite like that. For me, whatever I get in the form of inspiration comes in one of two ways:- 

1. The kernel of an idea which sets my mind on a certain track. 

2. The solution to a plot I’m working on which suddenly presents itself. This often happens with the ending – I seldom know the ending when I start writing (and prefer not to) but one seems to present itself at the right moment. 

These ‘ideas’ tend to arrive at inopportune times – and quite often at night. I then struggle to remember them in the morning or, even if I do, they don’t seem half as good in the cold light of day! Whatever form they take I find that the important thing is not to force them – rather it’s best to let them settle and work them through in my mind. 

I think of it as being like a bird which has spotted a worm. It has to pull its prey out of the ground using as much force as is needed whilst being careful not to break it and thereby lose its supper! 

But where does inspiration come from? I think it’s actually all around us – a chance remark, a picture, someone you meet – they can all provide that essential ‘spark’ but quite often I find that the original idea gets lost as the story develops. This seldom troubles me as, after all, you can never see the spark which started the fire. By way of an example of this, my first novel, Blood and Destiny, started out as a ghost story based on a team of archaeologists who find the grave of a young boy. As I tried to write it the ‘ghost’ of the boy hi-jacked the story – almost as if he was guiding my pen. There’s more about that in a blog on my website (www.chrisbishopauthor.com) The Origin of the Series but it was an extraordinary experience. The point is that it took years for me to write that story - and there’s no mention of those original archaeologists in the final draft! 

If you’re struggling for inspiration it might help to remember that it is only a small part of the process. In fact, I was once told that writing is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration – and that certainly sounds about right for me!

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Guest Post: Ken Lussey's Life in Books @FledglingPress @KenLussey @lovebooksgroup

07:00


It is late 1942. Group Captain Robert Sutherland's first week in charge of Military Intelligence 11's operations in Scotland and northern England is not going smoothly. A murder at the Commando Basic Training Centre in the Highlands is being investigated by one of his teams, until events take an even darker turn that draws Bob in personally. He is also trying to discover who was behind an attempt to steal an advanced reconnaissance aircraft from a military airfield in Fife, an investigation made no easier by the perpetrator's death. The complication he could really live without comes via a telephone call from Monique Dubois in MI5. An operation she's been running in Glasgow, without Bob or anyone else knowing, has gone badly wrong, and she wants him to intervene before it is entirely compromised. The Danger of Life is a fast-paced thriller set in Scotland during the Second World War. It is Ken's second novel to feature Bob Sutherland and Monique Dubois and picks up not long after the end of his first, Eyes Turned Skywards. The action moves back and forth across Scotland, with much of it set in Lochaber, where the present war intersects with another conflict that took place two centuries earlier: with deadly consequences.  

Guest Post: Ken Lussey's Life in Books

So, books? Thinking back, I can’t really remember a time before I discovered the joy they bring and the horizons they expand. Born in 1957, I spent my childhood following my father, a Royal Air Force navigator, around the world. When I think back to the seven schools I attended, I can remember the libraries of each more clearly than just about anything else about them. Books were entertainment, bringers of knowledge, and sometimes also feeders of pretensions.

What did I read as a child? Pretty much anything I could get my hands on. Series like Biggles, the Famous Five and the Secret Seven came and went. A book that shines out from this era was Rosemary Sutcliff’s The Eagle of the Ninth, which left a lasting impression on me. Another early book that was hugely influential was The Story of Kidnapped Told in Pictures, a 1948 edition of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic told in comic-book form. If my love of Scotland had a single starting point, this was probably it. I’m not sure how or when the original book and I parted company, but it was so important to me that decades later I went out and found a replacement copy.  

It took me quite a while to encounter a book that took my breath away. At the age of around 15, I had an inspirational English teacher. He encouraged pupils to broaden their reading via a list of authors whose books he awarded from 1 to 4 points. I can’t remember if my staple fare at the time, authors like Alistair McLean, Hammond Innes and Ian Fleming, were on the list, but if they were, they did not score highly. Ernest Hemingway, on the other hand, meant four points per book (even for the short ones!) and he quickly propelled me up the class chart. This one simple idea dramatically broadened my reading habits, adding some much-needed quality to the quantity.

But it wasn’t Ernest Hemingway who took my breath away. One day, that same teacher waved a thick hardback book in front of the class. Who wanted to read it? He didn’t have to try hard to sell it, and at the cost of considerable loss of sleep, I had within a couple of days finished The Fellowship of the Ring and was clamouring for The Two Towers. Yes, The Lord of the Rings truly took my breath away. It also confirmed me as a fan of the infinity of possibilities reflected in science fiction and fantasy, genres that were to play a large part in my reading in the years to come.

It was that same list that caused me to trip over a book so hilarious in places that I couldn’t help laughing out loud. It’s also tragic in places and Catch 22 by Joseph Heller is another book that must sit in my all-time top ten. Oddly enough, until I wrote that, I hadn’t realised that I had an all-time top ten. If I did, the book that would be at the top of the list is Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach. That, without doubt, is the book that has stayed with me always. There are not all that many words in it, but each one is exactly right; and for me the result is deeply moving.

I think that the book that taught me most was the first book I read to my daughters. I can’t remember what it was, but it, and the many that followed, taught me that reading is a gift that can be shared with others; and that it can bring wonder into their lives just as it brought wonder into mine. Reading to my daughters – and later to my grandson – also gave me a second chance at books I’d missed the first time around. Had I really overlooked Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons series as a child? Apparently, for they seemed very new to me when I read them out loud to an enthusiastic audience as an adult. Reading to my grandson is also an excuse to sample more modern material like Grandpa’s Great Escape by David Walliams, which is also the only book that has ever made me cry.

And, finally… what books would I give to a stranger? Easy: The Danger of Life and its predecessor Eyes Turned Skywards, by Ken Lussey. They are both great reads, if I say so myself!

Ken Lussey
ken@kenlussey.com


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Guest Post: In Her Words author @Joannewriter and her Favourite Characters @LoveBooksGroup

07:00


While she seems to have
it all, Sophie Knight is looking for more. When gorgeous and carefree Michael Frisk walks into her life, he offers the excitement and passion she desires.

Sophie is willing to risk
everything she has. After all, she is used to concealing things from her husband—like her alcoholism, her unhappiness. But soon she has more to hide. She wakes up one morning in an alcoholic haze and finds bruises on her body, but has no recollection of what
happened to her. Was she raped?

When unsettling notes and
mysterious phone calls start, Sophie wonders whom she should turn to. Is Michael the cause of the frightening things happening in her life, or is he the answer to her problems?

Guest Post:J.S Ellis' Favourite Characters

For my debut novel "In Her Words" the favourite character to write was by far Sophie, the main character. Despite having it all; the apartment, the husband, the career, and financial security, she’s an empty person. This reflects in her drinking problem. She hides her drinking from her husband and starts to write in a diary to keep an account of her behaviour. She goes out one night with a friend and is awakened the next day by her husband, Richard with bruises all over her body and has no memory of what had happened to her. She suspects, she had been raped but couldn’t be too sure. She starts to investigate what might have happened to her that fateful night. Michael walks in her life and claims she had partied with him and his friends that night. Although something tells her he’s hiding something. 

Now, she has more to hide from her from husband. I loved writing her inner thoughts which pour out in her diary. I created more obstacles for her when Michael steps in. He offers what the elder Richard can’t, and Michael being his twenties, reminds her what she had missed in her youth as, she spent most of her time at home studying. While Michael is open to the world. She starts to question her choices, were they the right ones and Michael reminds her of her adolescence and the freedom of it. 
Michael offers to help her but she finds herself falling for him. He’s gorgeous and irresistible. She feels she can be honest with him about her drinking because he knows who she is. Things get even more complicated when she starts a passionate love affair with him. I enjoyed writing their interactions and planning out their dialogue. Page after page her complexity increased, so did her drinking and desperation. But of course, as a writer, you become drawn to your characters and they become your friends as you spend so much time with them but it is also our job to make the journey as hard as possible for the characters and give the reader something to root for or relate too. While writing I did sometimes shake my head because of the mistakes she did but at least, by the end, she had learned from them. 

About J.S Ellis:


J.S Ellis is a thriller author.
 She’s currently working on an adult Dystopian series called the Chaperone. She’s also working on another thriller novel, for now, it’s called Opium, as it’s still a wip.

J.S always liked to scribble from a young age but started writing by the age of sixteen. She spent all this time, enhancing and learning about the craft. Writing is her passion books are her obsession.

She has a degree in Creative Writing, English literature, and digital marketing. She works in an accountancy firm. She lives in Malta with her fiancé. When she’s not writing or reading, she’s either cooking, eating cheese, and chocolate, or listening to good music and enjoying a glass of wine or two.

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Guest Post: Conspiracy of Wolves author @CandaceMRobb and her Favourite Characters @severnhouse @LoveBooksGroup

09:46


1374. When a member of one of York's most prominent families is found dead in the woods, his throat torn out, rumours spread like wildfire that wolves are running loose throughout the city. Persuaded to investigate by the victim's father, Owen Archer is convinced that a human killer is responsible. But before he can gather sufficient evidence to prove his case, a second body is discovered, stabbed to death. Is there a connection? What secrets are contained within the victim's household? And what does apprentice healer Alisoun know that she's not telling? Teaming up with Geoffrey Chaucer, who is in York on a secret mission on behalf of Prince Edward, Owen's enquiries will draw him headlong into a deadly conspiracy. 

Guest Post: Candace Robb's Favourite Characters to Write

One of the best parts of writing a series is that characters move along with me from book to book, revealing more of themselves with each appearance. The longer I work with a character, peeling away their outward shell to delve more deeply, excavating layer upon layer, the more complex she or he becomes, the more nuanced. Most intriguing of all is the healer Magda Digby, the Riverwoman. Though I created her—supposedly—she mystifies me. There’s always a shimmer in the air when she arrives on the page. She insinuated herself into The Apothecary Rose, her role growing from a cameo appearance in early drafts of the book, the grieving mother weeping over her son’s grave, to the final version in which she is a minor but notable character. A chance comment from my agent at the time, a former editor, after reading an early draft—an interesting character. Will we see her again?—suggested that she might warrant another look. That must be what woke her. Gradually, as I revised, she inspired brief scenes; I saw a role for her, and a far richer identity. The elderly woman in mourning expanded into the enigmatic healer Owen encounters on his first day in York and comes to respect. This was my first taste of the magic of Magda.

Once I decided to expand on her part, I envisioned her as a gifted healer with deep knowledge of roots and herbs, and a healthy dose of skepticism about her fellow mortals, and the Church. In 14th century England the power of the Church was second only to that of the king—and in some things, exceeded that of the king. From the beginning Magda stands out as a non-Christian in this world, questioning all that Owen, Lucie, and their community accept as part of their faith.

But from the first, mystery swirled around Magda. Folk wondered how old she was. And where did she find the Viking wreck that served as the roof of her house on a rock in the river? They feared the dragon that hung upside down over her door, watching all who approached. She spoke in riddles, answering  questions with questions that pointed out a path yet revealed little. I’ve begun to ask myself whether her skills are limited to those available to all healers who study their craft, or whether there is more to her. Owen and I are exploring that together, and I must say we’re both inclined to believe there is far more to her than we imagined. 

About Candace Robb:

Candace Robb has read and researched medieval history for many years, having studied for a Ph.D. in Medieval & Anglo-Saxon Literature. She divides her time between Seattle and the UK, frequently visiting York to research the series. She is the author of ten previous Owen Archer mysteries and three Kate Clifford medieval mysteries. 




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Guest Post: Does Absence Make the Heart Grow Fonder with Eden Interrupted Author @BevHarvey_ @UrbaneBooks @lovebooksgroup

09:08


90s popstar Ben Wilde and his bride Lisa return from honeymoon to find a cuckoo in the nest and a surprise European tour in the diary.

Lisa befriends neighbour Rosemary, who is also home alone while husband Nigel travels for work. But will the women's grim suspicions be confirmed, or does absence make the heart grow paranoid?

In the village, Eden Hill's coffee shop is under new management with the arrival of divorced Mum, Chloe, and troubled teen son, Jake. But serving flat whites leaves Chloe feeling, well, flat until she meets Caleb, a widowed father of two; if only Jake and Caleb weren't at loggerheads.

New to Eden Hill are Jan and Martin Bevan, but a frosty reception leaves them wondering if they've made a huge mistake.

From the writer of Seeking Eden, Eden Interrupted is another sizzling slice-of-life drama where paths (and swords) cross, and misunderstandings abound. Perfect for fans of Fiona Gibson and Marian Keyes.  

Guest Post:

Does absence make the heart grow fonder or is it a case of out of sight, out of mind?

By Beverley Harvey

Two women, two absent husbands: When friends and neighbours Lisa Dixon and Rosemary Bradshaw find themselves home alone in the suburban new town of Eden Hill, it isn’t long before loneliness and suspicion set in. 
Forty-something Lisa is shocked when Ben Wilde, her faded-Rockstar husband, is unexpectedly whisked away on a European tour, cutting short the honeymoon and rousing Lisa’s hitherto unseen jealous streak.  Meanwhile, neighbour Rosemary finds herself quietly relieved when her husband, businessman Nigel, begins frequently staying away overnight.  
Couples forced to live apart is one of the themes I explore in Eden Interrupted, my second novel and the sequel to Seeking Eden. It’s a subject I know something about; barely a week passes when my real-life partner doesn’t have to board a plane for work. It can be frustrating, lonely and boring. Fortunately, we’re both used to the routine, speak several times a day on the phone and make the very best of our weekends together. But what happens if your soulmate is called away for months at a time? 
For many years I lived in a prosperous, suburban new town in Semi-rural Kent which inspired Eden Hill, the setting for my novels. There, it was not unusual for couples to live apart for long spells as many of the men (and increasingly the women) went off to pursue lucrative contracts abroad or in other parts of the UK.  This style of work often results in a life of material comfort, but at what price? 
In the case of Lisa and Rosemary in Eden Interrupted, both encounter serious relationship problems and for entirely different reasons. We see Lisa’s evolution from bubbly, temptress and sex-kitten in Seeking Eden to peri-menopausal clinging-vine in the sequel – which puts a huge strain on Ben and Lisa’s new marriage. 
Rosemary on the other hand, realises that she and her young daughter Iris are happier when her dull and portentous husband, is travelling for work. Readers soon learn the shocking truth about Nigel – but will Rosemary ever discover his dark secret?
Lisa and Rosemary are just two of the conflicted and eminently relatable characters in Eden Interrupted. Readers will revisit Martin and Jan who are struggling to settle in their new home, as well as meeting new arrivals divorcé Chloe and her troubled teenage son Jake. 
I’m fascinated by real lives and truly believe there’s no such thing as an ordinary person. Every one of us experiences unique challenges, highs and lows, and each of us is the star of our own show; as the saying goes ‘there’s nowt so queer as folk’.  

Eden Interrupted, Urbane Publications, from 6th June 2019. 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Eden-Interrupted-Beverley-Harvey/dp/1912666383/

About Beverly Harvey:

For almost thirty years Beverley Harvey has worked in the communications industry. Beverley (Bev to her friends) recently swapped PR campaigns for plot lines and completed her first novel; she continues to supply words for businesses across several sectors. When not writing or reading, Bev enjoys listening to rock and indie music, cooking, baking, and keeping fit. An animal lover she is inspired by nature, art and life's daily trials and tribulations. Born in Yorkshire, and raised in South London, Beverley now lives in Chichester with her partner.  

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Book Review: The Gift of Friends by Emma Hannigan @headlinepg @HachetteIre @annecater

07:30


Kingfisher Road - a leafy, peaceful street in the town of Vayhill. But there are whispers behind closed doors. Who is moving into Number 10?

Engaged to handsome, wealthy Justin Johnston, Danielle appears to her new neighbours to have the perfect, glossy life. But not everything is as it seems...

In fact, each of the other four women who live close by has a secret, and each is nursing their own private heartache.

But could a gift be waiting on their doorsteps? And, by opening their front doors, and their hearts, to each other, could the women of Kingfishers Road discover all the help they need?

Review:

I first discovered Emma's books by chance, when I picked up a second-hand copy of Designer Genes in a charity shop. After I turned the last page on that book, I was hooked. I've read almost all her books and followed her brave fight against cancer on social media. She is a woman I admired and one I will always remember.

The circumstances made starting The Gift of Friends almost bittersweet. Knowing those words were her swansong. Every sentence and character somehow felt more special. I read each page slowly, fully taking in her words and wondering how she must have felt as she wrote them. 

The Gift of Friends is a lesson in not judging a book by its cover. Each resident on Kingfisher road may seem to be living the dream, because the perfect house equals perfect life, right? We soon learn that this is not the case, that each one is dealing with their own personal struggle. 

Emma did not hold back when describing issues faced by the characters in this book. Abortion. Morality in the church, Spousal abuse. Other reviewers have guessed that Emma had possibly wanted to explore these topics in individual books, but as her time was drawing close, she needed an opportunity to explore them all in one book. Kingfisher Road was that opportunity. Any other author may have struggled to realistically portray so many issues in one book. That certainly wasn't the case here. Each character distinct and authentic. 

My favourite character by far was Nancy. She was the oldest resident in the group. Single, with an 'I don't give a shit about what you think of me' attitude. #goals. 

I loved how each character looked out for each other. They saw their road, not as a place with individual families, but as a community wrapped in a blanket of love and support. 

When I turned the last page, I definitely felt a sense of loss, like there was a hole left in the Irish publishing world. 

Then I read the acknowledgements (written just days before she passed)...and shed more than a few tears. Her message was clear. Love the ones that love you. Nothing else in life is important. 

RIP Emma. 

Rating:

★★★★★



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