Category Archives: Guest Posts

Isolation Junction by Jennifer Gilmour *Guest Post*

I’m delighted to be helping Jennifer Gilmour with the promotion of her book, Isolation Junction, today. The fictional account of Rose, a young woman trapped in an abusive relationship, Jennifer has drawn on her personal experiences to write this book. She hopes that it will help others to recognise if they are in an unhealthy relationship and to enable them to see that they can break free from it.

Domestic abuse is a subject close to my heart and I am always pleased to support Jennifer in the work she does to raise awareness. For a limited time Jennifer has made Isolation Junction free on Kindle. Today is the last day it is up for grabs so grab it while you can. 

I will now hand over to Jennifer to explain why she has decided to give Isolation Junction away for free.

My name is Jennifer Gilmour and I am a survivor of domestic abuse, I have pub-lished two books both with a focus on raising awareness about domestic abuse at their core. Whilst both aim to raise this awareness one is written as a work of fiction whilst the other is a compilation of survivor stories and therefore non-fiction. Both work in different ways to educate and raise awareness of this insidious and unac-ceptable behaviour.

Over Christmas, incidents of domestic abuse reported to the police rise. Assault and domestic murders increase 25% during the festive period with a third of them been on Christmas Day itself. Bombarded with images of the perfect nuclear family gathered around the gold baubles of a Christmas tree, it can be easy to forget that Christmas is a time of coercion, punishment and violence for many women* and men.

Now I know it isn’t Christmas anymore but January can be just as bad because all those credit card bills come in alongside your usual direct debits. There is even a day in January called Blue Monday and this year it’s on the 15th. The date is generally reported as falling on the third Monday in January, but also on the second or fourth Monday, or the Monday of the last full week of January.
The formula uses many factors, including: weather conditions, debt level (the difference between debt accumulated and our ability to pay), time since Christmas, time since failing our new year’s resolutions, low motivational levels and feeling of a need to take action.
Can you imagine this formula and applying it to an abusive relationship?

For 5 days my debut novel Isolation Junction is going to be FREE on Amazon Kindle, this is the first time ever to happen. It’s the week before Blue Monday, I wonder if those reading will be inspired to take action?

I ask you all to share the link and break the silence surrounding domestic abuse.

UK link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01LX4HLT0
US link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LX4HLT0

* https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/welfare/2015/12/it-s-hardest-time-year-why-domestic-violence-spikes-over-christmas

A huge thank you to Jennifer for doing everything she can to raise awareness about this issue. 

 

Synopsis

Rose is the mother of two young children, and finds herself living a robotic life with an abusive and controlling husband. While she struggles to maintain a calm front for the sake of her children, inside Rose is dying and trapped in ‘Isolation Junction’.

She runs an online business from home, because Darren won’t let her work outside the house. Through this, she meets other mums and finds courage to attend networking events, while Darren is at work, to promote her business.

It’s at one of these events that Rose meets Tim, a sympathetic, dark-haired stranger who unwittingly becomes an important part of her survival.

After years of emotional abuse, of doubting her future and losing all self-confidence, Rose takes a stand. Finding herself distraught, alone and helpless, Rose wonders how she’ll ever escape with her sanity and her children. With 100 reasons to leave and 1,000 reasons she can’t, will she be able to do it?

Will Tim help her? Will Rose find peace and the happiness she deserves? Can Rose break free from this spiralling life she so desperately wants to change?

You can read my review HERE.

About the author:

Born in the north-east, Jennifer is a young, married mum with three children. In addition to being an author, she is an entrepreneur, running a family business from her home-base. Her blog posts have a large readership of other young mums in business.

From an early age, Jennifer has had a passion for writing and started gathering ideas and plot lines from her teenage years. A passionate advocate for women in abusive relationships, she has drawn on her personal experiences to write her first novel Isolation Junction. It details the journey of a young woman from the despair of an emotionally abusive and unhappy marriage to develop the confidence to challenge and change her life and to love again.

Since the publication of her debut novel, Jennifer has continued to be an advocate for those in abusive relationships through her blog posts, radio interviews and Twitter feed. Jennifer also gained a qualification in facilitating a recovery programme for those who have been in abusive relationships.

Jennifer continues to publicly support those who are isolated and struggle to have a voice. Jennifer hopes that Clipped Wings give’s a voice to survivor’s experiences and raise’s awareness further of the types of unacceptable behaviour which fall into the category of domestic abuse.

Blog Takeover/Promo – Patient Zero by Terry Tyler

I’m delighted to hand Bloomin’ Brilliant Books over to the fabulous author, blogger and reviewer Terry Tyler today to tell you about her latest book Patient Zero and a special promo. 

A big thank you to Abbie for inviting me onto her most excellent blog to tell you about my brand new short story collection, Patient Zero, which will be *FREE* on release across all Amazon sites until midnight on Sunday 19th November (GMT). You can grab your copy HERE.

 

Patient Zero comprises nine stories from my post-apocalyptic world of 2024—a deadly virus is sweeping the UK, and normal life is breaking down. The stories are all completely ‘stand alone’ but run alongside my two novels, Tipping Point and its sequel, Lindisfarne. When I was writing these books, I would find myself creating minor characters for the purpose of the main plot, then developing their own stories in my head. I started to make notes; soon, I realised that a collection of shorts was the best way of telling their tales.

Some of the characters in this collection are mentioned just once in the main story, such as Aaron in #NewWorldProblems, who makes a two line appearance in Tipping Point. Others, like Flora in Princess Snowflake, play a larger part; she arrives in the second half of Lindisfarne. Princess Snowflake is her backstory.

I hope you will download Patient Zero while it is free, and please tell your friends!

The Blurb

The year is 2024.

A mysterious virus rages around the UK.

Within days, ‘bat fever’ is out of control.

1. Jared: The Spare Vial
Jared has two vaccinations against the deadly virus: one for him, one for a friend…

2. Flora: Princess Snowflake
The girl with the perfect life, who believes in her father, the government, Christian charity and happy endings.

3. Jeff: The Prepper
What does a doomsday ‘prepper’ do when there is nothing left to prepare for?

4. Karen: Atonement
She ruined her sister’s last day on earth, and for this she must do penance.

5. Aaron: #NewWorldProblems
Aaron can’t believe his luck; he appears to be immune. But his problems are far from over.

6. Ruby: Money To Burn
Eager to escape from her drug dealer boyfriend’s lifestyle, Ruby sets off with a bag filled with cash.

7. Meg: The Prison Guard’s Wife
Meg waits for her husband to arrive home from work. And waits…

8. Evie: Patient Zero
Boyfriend Nick neglects her. This Sunday will be the last time she puts up with it. The very last time.

9. Martin: This Life
Life after life has taught the sixty year old journalist to see the bigger picture.

Tipping Point and Lindisfarne are the first two full length novels in the Project Renova series. A third will be available around late spring/early summer 2018.

A huge thank you Terry for taking the time to tell us about your latest book. It sounds great, I particularly like the sound of Aaron’s story. What are you waiting for, folks? Get downloading HERE for free while you can!

Publication Day Guest Post With J.D Dixon ‘What I Write About When I’m Writing’

I am delighted to be joined by J.D Dixon today with a fab guest post. James’s debut novel The Unrivalled Transcendence of Willem J. Gyle is out today. Happy publication day! And now I will hand you over to the man himself.

What I Write About When I’m Writing

I get asked from time to time: ‘why do you write?’

I struggle to answer, as I’m sure many writers do. There is no particular choice to become a writer. There is no eureka moment when you know it is what you have to do, no sudden yearning to see your words in print- just a quiet pull that was there before you noticed it, and which will be there long after you have taken it for granted. This is how I would describe my desire to be a writer- or rather, my desire to write (there is a difference).

I know this might sound ambiguous, ineffable. Nearly meaningless. And I don’t like it because generally I favour clarity of thought over any such muddled talk of feelings and yens. But for many writers it is nonetheless the truth. Or at least the closest rationale we have for deciding to tell stories for a living.

And so: I am asked why I write, and all I can offer is a slight shrug, and all that slight shrug has to offer is ambiguity. But, take it or leave it, this is my truth. It is the why of my writing.

But I am also often asked: ‘what inspires you? what do you want your writing to achieve?’ And to questions like these I have concrete truths. And these truths help me to explain the why: when there are so many things to say, I might ask, how can you expect me to stay quiet? And in these truths I am able to find more of a driving force behind my work than my original slight shrug.

I hope, I hope.

There is a great deal of anger- undirected or misdirected, now appropriated for the purpose of storytelling. There is the shared feeling that we are oppressed every day by everything around us, unable to let go. There is depression. There is hilarity, both heartfelt and sometimes quite manic. And there is an overwhelming reverence for the world, undercut only by a similarly large amount of scorn for everything in that world. This is what drives my creative process and this is what I write about when I’m writing, and I doubt that I’m alone- many writers, and indeed readers, use literature to get to the bottom of such issues.

Because, really, this is where fiction is at its most powerful. And to pull it off there are a few tricks to bear in mind. As I said, I dislike ambiguity. When I sit down to plan a novel I cannot have any ambiguity of purpose. When I am fleshing it out day by day I need a strong guiding element. I tried going without- writing by the seat of my pants, as one interviewer recently called it- and the resulting manuscripts were duds. They were not worth printing. They meandered, they struggled to find focus, they made no statement. Worse: they were lazy.

Put ambiguity out of your mind. Take two things in its place. First, clarity and a sense of purpose. Second, a mission statement- an overarching goal and a well mapped path to follow.

Before I even begin the first paragraph of a piece of prose I need to know the ending. In detail. I draft the full thing, scene by scene, over probably a dozen pages. Naturally, the details will change over time. Scenes will be moved or deleted and new scenes will take their place. I might have an idea for a new bit-part character, and I’ll slot them in. But I’ll slot them into my existing plan, and everything else will stay on track. This way I don’t have to worry about anything: is the story holding a reader’s attention; is there a point to it all; do characters’ reactions line up, and do they all act accordingly with the narrative? But mostly: have I managed to harness the depression, the hilarity, the reverence and irreverence that I want my writing to be about? If there is any doubt to these, I will usually have caught and changed it by the time I start writing. And so when I do begin that first chapter I can just enjoy writing in the freedom of knowledge that everything is according to plan.

I try never to be too precious about writing as art. I think of it more as a craft, and there is often a lot of graft involved. Bear this in mind, put aside a couple of hours every single day, hold those little and large emotions front and centre, and hack away at the plan. Hit your wordcount, cross scenes off your list, and watch it come together. There is a lot of joy to be had in this process.

I did all of these things with The Unrivalled Transcendence of Willem J. Gyle. I wrote the first draft very quickly, but it had a solid backbone. I had several pages of notes on the various issues raised in the narrative- the desperation of homelessness, the depression of living without hope, the rage of being cast out of society without care or reason- and I had the synopsis written in advance. So as I sat down to write I didn’t have to think too much about anything. I could just refer back to my original aims, my original character plan, my original driving motives, and the rest just flowed.

So, writers: if anybody ever asks you ‘why do you write?’ you wave your plan in their face and tell them: I don’t know, nobody really does, but it’s all coming together. And readers: you will know they are telling the truth.

Thank you for taking the time to write this wonderful guest post James!

So, what is The Unrivalled Transcendence of Willem J. Gyle about? Here is the blurb…

In a Scotland beset with depression, Willem is one victim among many. He loses his job, his mother dies and he is forced out of the flat they shared. Seeing no other option, he takes to the streets of Edinburgh, where he soon learns the cruelty felt outside the confines of his comfortable life. Stories from his past are interwoven with his current strife as he tries to figure out the nature of this new world and the indignities it brings. Determined to live freely, he leaves Edinburgh, hiking into the Scottish Highlands to seek solitude, peace and an unhampered, pure vision of life at nature’s breast.

The Unrivalled Transcendence of Willem J. Gyle is at once a lyrical, haunting novel and a set piece in the rage of an oppressed, forgotten community. J. D. Dixon’s sparse, brutal language captures the energy and isolation of desperation, uniting despondency and untrammelled anger in the person of his protagonist.

Sounds good, right? You can purchase your copy HERE.

Connect with J.D Dixon on Twitter at @James_D_Dixon

 

 

 

Blog Blitz – A Time To Change by Callie Langridge *Author Guest Post*

I am delighted to be taking part in the blog blitz for Callie Langridge’s A Time to Change today and sharing a great guest post on inspiration by the lady herself. But first here’s the all important book blurb:

A Time to Change Blurb

“I would rather love passionately for an hour than benignly for a lifetime.”

In a house full of history and secrets, the past will not stay where it belongs…

Lou has always loved Hill House, the derelict manor on the abandoned land near her home. As a child, the tragic history of its owners, the Mandevilles, inspired her dream to become a history teacher. But in her late twenties, and working in a shop to pay off student debts, life is passing her by.

That changes when a family disaster sends Lou’s life into a downward spiral and she seeks comfort in the ruined corridors of Hill House. The house transforms around her and Lou is transported back to Christmas 1913. Convinced she has been in an accident and is in a coma, Lou immerses herself in her Edwardian dream. With the Mandevilles oblivious to her true identity, Lou becomes their houseguest and befriends the eldest son, Captain Thomas Mandeville, a man she knows is destined to die in the First World War.

Lou feels more at home in the past than the present and when she realises the experience is real she sets out to do everything in her power to save her new friends.

Lou passes between 1913 and 2013, unearthing plots of murder and blackmail, which she must stop no matter the cost.

On her quest to save the Mandevilles by saving Thomas, Lou will face the hardest decision of her life. She will learn that love cannot be separated by a century.

A Flash of Inspiration by Callie Langridge

I don’t know about you, but when I read a book, I’m fascinated by where writers get their ideas. If you’re lucky and have an interesting life – maybe you’re a polar explorer, an historian with a wealth of knowledge on an era, or a world-leading expert on a particular subject – then you have a great background on which to frame your fiction. But if you’re like me, you are none of these. What interests me is being human. I’m fascinated by our feelings and emotions and intrigued by what lurks inside all of us that makes us who we are: what shared experiences join us and what has happened to each of us to distinguish us from the person who sits beside us on the bus, with their bag of shopping on their knee or flicking through the newspaper.

If you write about feelings and emotions, you run the risk of having a book full long passages of internal monologue. That might work for some great writers, but for most of us, we need a good story with characters and layers to wind our stories around and within.

At school I spent a lot of time gazing out of the classroom window, creating stories of a world infinitely more interesting than the lesson I was supposed to be participating in. I was, am, and will always be an unashamed daydreamer. I’m also an observer. Like a sponge, I soak up life that’s going on around me. I watch people, I eavesdrop on conversations, I cherry pick aspects of life to turn into stories, scenes and dialogue. I allow myself to be inspired by TV, films, books, the news, anything and everything. And then there are my amazing dreams. I’m lucky to have the most vivid dreams like scenes from movies. The idea for A TIME TO CHANGE came in a dream. I dreamt of a splendid party in a beautiful manor house with chandeliers and champagne. It was on the eve of the First World War. I knew that there was a conflict about a man. I saw the party through the eyes of an outsider who ran from the party, stumbled through the snow and then – I don’t want to give too much away here! – but something amazing happened and it was clear that the person through whose eyes I was seeing this was not of that time. I woke up and wrote it down. But that was it. Until I thought about it. The story germinated. Shoots came off. Who was this person? What was this manor house? Why was she there? Bit by bit a story began to take shape.

And those are the two most important tools in my writing box. I get my ideas by listening to my imagination – being open to the stories it finds for me – and then asking ‘What If’. What if this happened, what if that happened. What if she said this? What if he did that?

I find a springboard and then go off on a journey of discovery.

A huge thank you Callie for the wonderful guest post. I’m always curious about where authors get their ideas from and really enjoyed reading this.

Author Bio

Callie was born and brought up in Berkshire. After a brief teenage spell in the depths of Lancashire, she moved back to London.

Having left school at 16, she studied drama before embarking on a career in marketing. This saw her work in music marketing in the heady days of Britpop in the nineties. She unleashed her creativity in the design of window displays and marketing campaigns for the leading music retailer. More recently she has followed her passion for social history and currently works in marketing for a national historical institution, promoting projects and running events.

On hitting her thirtieth birthday, she decided finally to take her A levels and gained A’s in English Literature and Language, and Film Studies – not bad when working full time! – and this spurred her on to take the first of many creative writing course. A few years later and she has had a number of short stories published and plays performed at theatres and venues across London.

Callie lives in London with her long-term partner and an ever-growing collection of antique curiosities.

Twitter: @CLangridgeWrite
Facebook: Callie Langridge https://www.facebook.com/people/Callie-Langridge/100017408860162

A huge thank you to Sarah Hardy at Bombshell Books for inviting me to take part in the Blog Blitz and to Callie Langridge for taking the time to write a great guest post. A time to change is published on 24th September 2017.

 

A Wedding in Cornwall Series by Laura Briggs – One Year Anniversary Celebration

Laura Briggs’s gorgeous Wedding in Cornwall series celebrates its first anniversary this month and I’m delighted to welcome Laura to Bloomin’ Brilliant Books today to tell you more about her books.

Thanks so much to Abbie for letting me share about my Cornish-themed romance series with the lovely readers at Bloomin’ Brilliant Books!

It’s hard to believe that my short romance read, A Wedding in Cornwall, celebrated its one year anniversary this month. When I first penned the story of American event planner Julianne and her exciting new job at a Cornish estate, I never dreamed it would become part of a best-selling series. But readers have been more than kind, their enthusiasm making the first book a Top 100 seller, even. They have warmly welcomed its sequel stories, and I’m so glad they continue to enjoy the world of Julianne, her co-workers at Cliffs House, and the charming Poldark-esque gardener, Matt. Because of such avid readers, these characters have experienced many unexpected adventures, everything from planning a Christmas Eve Ball, to helping with a baking contest, and even a royal wedding (at a Cornish castle, no less!).

The next installment in the series, A Romance in Cornwall, brings more excitement to the quiet Cornish village in the form of a famous romance novelist searching for their next story. To celebrate its release, along with the first book’s anniversary, readers can download Book 1, A Wedding in Cornwall, for free via Amazon and other major eBook retailers for a limited time beginning August 23rd. I’m also thrilled to announce that readers will now be able to purchase the first six novellas in one volume—paperback and digital formats available this month!

I’m thrilled with the success you have had with the Wedding in Cornwall series Laura and I am sure it will continue to delight readers.

If you haven’t read any of the books in the series be sure to download A Wedding in Cornwall for free while you can!

You can read my review of A Wedding in Cornwall  HERE, A Christmas in Cornwall HERE and an excerpt of A Manor in Cornwall HERE.

Author Bio

Laura Briggs is the author of several chick lit and romance stories. She has a fondness for vintage style dresses (especially ones with polka dots), and admires novelty scarf designs as well. Her favourite Jane Austen novel is Sense and Sensibility, and she enjoys reading everything from women’s fiction to modern day mystery novels. She loves spending time with family, caring for her pets, going to movies and plays, trying new restaurants, and dreams of traveling around the UK and Europe someday.

Twitter Account: http://bit.ly/1ME9ivJ
Facebook Page: http://on.fb.me/1JjeMoI
Author Website: http://paperdollwrites.blogspot.com/

Blog Tour – Unforgivable by Mike Thomas *Guest Post and Review*

Today I am taking part in the blog tour for Unforgivable by Mike Thomas. I’m chuffed to bits to be a part of this and to be sharing my review AND I have a brilliant guest post from Mike on his three favourite supporting characters in his novels. I will hand you over to Mike and then check out the blurb and my review of Unforgivable…

The Three Favourite Supporting Characters in My Novels

It’s always enjoyable writing your protagonist’s story and pushing them around on the page – go here, you swine! – but what I often find more entertaining, certainly if my hero or heroine is having an off day, is writing supporting characters. They’re often great fun, because they’re not really as important (but they’re still very important), and therefore the pressure’s off and there’s more freedom to do things with them that you couldn’t do with your main character. They also act as a counterpoint to your protagonist, and a means to demonstrate your main character’s personality or behaviour without doing the old ‘telling’.

Just look at Saul Goodman in ‘Breaking Bad’, or Bunk in ‘The Wire’, or The Mad Hatter in Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’. And what about Ron and Hermione in the Potter books? All of them, fully-formed and interesting supporting characters that add further depth and shade to the protagonist and the story itself.

So who are the three favourite supporting characters in my novels? Which of them were the most interesting and gratifying to write? Let’s take a look…

1. DC Warren Harrison – rotund, perpetually eating and wrapped in a fug of smoke, ‘Wazza’ is the ‘senior man’ – in age, not rank – on the team of CID officers who feature in the MacReady novels, ‘Ash and Bones’ and ‘Unforgivable’. An old sweat who has seen it all, he’s world-weary but has a mischievous sense of humour, not least in his choice of footwear: he refuses to wear shoes and turns out for duty every day in socks and sandals. The inspiration for Warren was an ex-colleague who could regularly be found wandering the corridors of the police station looking like a lost German tourist who’d raided the nearest vending machine. Lots of older real cops end up like Wazza: nothing fazes them, they couldn’t care less about anything other than their approaching pension, and they think all new officers are utterly useless. Often they’re not wrong.

2. FLUB – real name David Murphy, FLUB is the elder PC on the elite public order team in my 2014 novel ‘Ugly Bus’. His nickname, gifted to him by his colleagues on the van, is an acronym for Fat Lazy Useless Bastard. Given that FLUB likes food and moving slowly – his favourite line is ‘I may not look like I’m busy most of the time but on a molecular level I’m a hundred fuckin’ miles an hour’ – he was happy enough to shrug and accept the moniker. Like Warren Harrison above, FLUB is the old sweat, but while Wazza is a spiky individual, David Murphy is an anything-to-keep-the-peace sort – which backfires spectacularly for all concerned at the climax of the novel. I love old FLUB, he’s a lot like I used to be towards the end of my career – especially his penchant for disgracefully unhealthy takeaway food on night shifts.

3. PC Frank MacReady – or ‘Frankie’ or ‘The Frankster’ as ‘Pocket Notebook’s protagonist (I hesitate to call him a hero) Jacob Smith calls his best buddy. Frank is a specialist firearms officer, working alongside Jake, and is Jake’s only true friend – he’s patient, wise, loyal, and long-suffering – but Jacob even manages to lose him, in the most despicable manner possible, during a house party where far, far too much alcohol is consumed. Without Frank anchoring him our protagonist is finally doomed, and we see it happen in real time during the latter part of the book. I always think of Frank and Jake as mirroring my wife and I during this period in our lives: she was the strong sensible, caring one who had to support me while I lost my marbles writing this crazed debut novel…

Brilliant post, thank you so much Mike. I love Wazza too!

The Blurb

Bombs detonate in a busy souk, causing massive devastation.
An explosion rips apart a mosque, killing and injuring those inside.
But this isn’t the Middle East – this is Cardiff . . .

In a city where tensions are already running high, DC Will MacReady and his colleagues begin the desperate hunt for the attacker. If they knew the ‘why’, then surely they can find the ‘who’? But that isn’t so easy, and time is fast running out . . .

MacReady is still trying to prove himself after the horrific events of the previous year, which left his sergeant injured and his job in jeopardy, so he feels sidelined when he’s asked to investigate a vicious knife attack on a young woman.

But all is not as it seems with his new case, and soon MacReady must put everything on the line in order to do what is right.

My Thoughts

The second DC Will MacReady novel is totally explosive … and that’s not just because of the bombs that go off in the book! Unforgivable totally lived up to all of my expectations with Thomas proving that this is one hell of a crime series!

If you haven’t read the first in the series, Ash and Bones, don’t worry as Unforgivable works as a standalone. Thomas perfectly gives enough information in order for you to be able to follow how MacReady and his colleagues got to where they currently are without deflecting from the new plot. However, trust me when I say you will want to read Ash and Bones!

I was expecting from the blurb a fairly straightforward story about the police investigating a terrorist attack. Unforgivable delivers more than this, however, with Thomas turning the theme of terrorism on its head. Thomas taps into the rise of Islamophobia and far-right groups across the country resulting in Unforgivable being incredibly current.

You are dragged into the story from the start. Unforgivable starts with a bang (literally!) and the pace is unrelenting from there on. The vivid descriptions within the first few chapters place you directly in the middle of the action, experiencing everything that is going on, and all its horrors. This is a book that you struggle to put down as its pace and plot beg for it to be read quickly and it becomes all absorbing.

I was pleased to spend time with MacReady et al again and Unforgivable takes up where we last left off a few months down the line. While MacReady is no longer the new boy within his team, he is still treated as such especially following events that occurred during Ash and Bones. He has a new partner in the completely unlikable Paul Echols who isn’t making his life any easier! MacReady’s personal life remains complicated which adds another layer to the book. I really like MacReady; he is intelligent, plucky and on the ball.

Thomas’s first-hand experience of police work shines through and his writing remains authentic. He doesn’t shy away from describing the less than glamorous side of police work and in Unforgivable the impact of austerity cuts enforced by the current government are starkly visible. While as a civvy you are aware that the cuts have an impact, Thomas brings the actual realities straight into your consciousness as resources to investigate the murder of a young woman are scant following the terrorist attacks. This true-to-life approach is one of the things that really appeals to me about Thomas’s books.

Unforgivable is a fantastic, high-adrenaline, close-to-the-bone read and the DC MacReady books are now firmly placed on my list of favourite and highly recommended detective series’.

Published on 27 July 2017 by Zaffre Publishing.

A huge thank you to Mike Thomas and Emily Burns at Bonnier Zaffre for the advance copy and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

You can read my review of Ash and Bones HERE and Mike’s Author Influences HERE!

Be sure to catch the rest of the tour for more reviews and brilliant guest posts by Mike … they really are worth reading!

Author Guest Post by Michael R Martin – The Inspiration Behind My Writing

I’m delighted to hand over Bloomin’ Brilliant Books to Michael R Martin today. The author of three novels and a collection of short stories, Michael tells us about the inspiration behind his writing.

The Inspiration Behind My Writing

I write thrillers in a variety of genres: horror, paranormal and science fiction. But I like to blur them whenever possible. My narratives mostly play out in fictitious locations based on actual towns and places I know well. “Write about what you know” is sound advice. So I try to make the settings as real as possible. But what happens to the characters that inhabit them is a different thing altogether!

I was born in Lancashire in North West England. I left home at eighteen to study and spent the next twenty years living and working in different parts of the country. I returned in 2000 and met my long-term partner, Lez. She’s an avid reader of crime thrillers and gives all my manuscripts a thorough critique.

So far, I’ve worked as a design engineer, a volunteer IT tutor and a medical records officer. Currently, I’m a freelance graphic designer and computer animator. And, of course, a writer.

As a child, The Enid Blyton books were the first proper stories I read from start to finish and really enjoyed. My junior school headmaster read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens to the senior class every December. The very nature of Christmas, for me, was changed in a positive way by this story, and I came to realise just how powerful the written word can be. When I started Grammar School, we were issued with a recommended reading list. My father bought me two at random: The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien and The Weirdstone of Brisingamen by Alan Garner, and I couldn’t put them down. Both took me to other worlds I didn’t want to leave. A couple of years later, a friend introduced me to the Pan Book of Horror Stories anthologies, which steered my imagination into far darker places. At fourteen, all the seeds had been sown.

I enjoyed writing assignments at school and was encouraged by a teacher to hone my ability. But instead I chose to study engineering and worked in product design for many years. I did try my hand at short stories on numerous occasions but never felt confident enough to contact an agent or publisher. I started writing Screams in the Woods in 2009.

I’m a committed indie author. I have been published, but the publisher went bust without paying out any royalties. Once bitten, twice shy. I’m always prepared to talk to agents and publishers should they show an interest, but I’m not actively pursuing any.

The writers that are of particular inspiration to me now are H P Lovecraft, M R James, R Chetwynd-Hayes, Stephen King, Arthur C Clarke, John Wyndham, Philip K Dick and Alan Garner. I also enjoy the works of Martin Amis, Saul Bellow, Irvine Welsh, William Goulding and J G Ballard amongst others.

I draw inspiration from film and TV, too. The late Nigel Kneale is one of my favourite screenwriters. It’s hard to say which genre exerts the greater pull. I love both, to be honest.

As a graphic designer, I create my own cover artworks. The concept takes form as I write the narrative. That said, it takes quite a while to settle on a final design. I also create covers for other writers, and I’m keen to expand this business.

My first novel, Screams in the Woods, begins when a private investigator is tasked with finding two men who have been missing for over a year. As the case unravels, she realises that, despite her initial doubts, their research into a local, 19th century mining accident is directly related to their disappearance. She soon reaches the point of no return, with little choice but to confront a shadowy group hell-bent on changing the world to their design.

Area 62 is the story of an entrepreneur confronted by the evidence of something truly bizarre in a derelict shop he purchased to expand his internet-based business. It embroils him in an international conspiracy and leads to a quest for answers to some deep questions about the nature of reality and the destiny of the human race.

13 Dark Tales: Collection One is just what is says on the tin. The working title was Darkness at the Edge of Town because the majority of the stories were envisaged during long walks in the local countryside. My imagination became entangled with childhood memories, urban myths and sinister folklore. And the ideas took form along the ragged boundaries between town and country: bleak fields and lonely woods set against swathes of grey boroughs studded with church spires, industrial chimneys and steam-belching cooling towers.

Zombie World, my latest short story, involves four guys who are fans of The Walking Dead TV series and jump at the chance to indulge in an ultrarealistic virtual reality game that lets them fight and kill zombies. It’s intended to be a stag weekend to remember, but the experience turns out to be much more than they bargained for. This is the first time I’ve published such a short narrative, but I plan to release another in the not-too-distant future.

I’m always open to constructive criticism and feedback about my work. I can be contacted on social media where I’ll always respond to genuine people.

Twitter: @MRMartin_Author

Facebook: www.facebook.com/MichaelRMartinAuthor

If you want to discuss a book cover design, you can find me here:

http://www.redherringcg.com

A huge thank you Michael for the guest post. You can visit his author pages and purchase his books on Amazon UK HERE and Amazon US HERE.

Blog Tour – His Frozen Fingertips by Charlotte Bowyer *Author Guest Post*

I’m delighted to be on the His Frozen Fingertips blog tour today with a guest post by author Charlotte Bowyer on getting her book published at the age of seventeen. I don’t generally feature YA books on Bloomin’ Brilliant Books as it’s not a genre I read, however I was intrigued and impressed by the fact that Charlotte has published her first novel at such a young age, so agreed to help out.

Firstly, let’s find out what the book is about.

The Blurb

When he is diagnosed with a life-threatening heart condition at the age of seventeen, Asa is certain that his adventures have come to an end. He is alone, having been abandoned by parents who never wanted him and a village that couldn’t raise him. However, as the bells start to ring, those are the least of his problems. The evil sorcerer Erebus has the land of Eodem under his control. Thrust into a world of distrust and aggression, Asa can rely on just one person: his friend Averett. The wall that divides Eodem seems to be an unobtainable goal, and danger is always one step ahead.

I will now hand you over to Charlotte…

How I got my book published at the age of seventeen

I was fifteen years old when I finished the first draft of my novel ‘His Frozen Fingertips’. It was 15th September 2015, and this seemed to be the greatest thing that I would ever achieve in my entire life. For a teenager to sit down and stick to a writing schedule for over six months was a herculean task, especially since I wrote it during Year 10 when I should have been working on my GCSE’s. My novel was at that moment the best piece of work that I had ever done, the exhilaration and pride that I felt on completing it has not been paralleled before or since. At that moment I thought that I had written the next ‘Harry Potter’, which was my favourite book series I had ever read at that time.

My novel was awful. It took me a few weeks to comprehend how convoluted the plot and characterisation was but when I did I was crushed. My expectations of my talent had far exceeded the skills that I had at the time; I had managed to write ninety-eight thousand words of rubbish without realising this. I put the matter out of my mind for a month in favour of doing homework, sports, and social activities but it bothered me that my magnum opus was languishing in some remote file of my computer. I still had a soft spot for the work that had shattered my pride, and I decided that I wanted to edit it until it was good enough to post on Wattpad and show to my friends. After all, they had pretended to read the vampire novella that I wrote when I was thirteen, it did not seem like it would be too much work to push this up to a suitable standard.

How wrong I was. Editing, in this case, was more of a total rewrite than tinkering with grammar and syntax. I went through my novel chapter by chapter, deleting situations and characters that obstructed the story’s flow. In a moment of bittersweet success, I had to all but get rid of my favourite character, a sword-maiden whose plot arc was intense but wholly unrelated to the message that I wanted to get across. It improved the plot but my relationship with the book deteriorated, it became less of a pastime and more of an obsession. I wrote religiously every night with a discipline that I would later only apply to my a-levels. My teachers were expressing concern for the lack of school work I was doing; I did terribly in my GCSE mock exams and stopped putting effort into my homework. School seemed to be a chore, something that was stopping me from having time to spend on writing.

Why was this so important to me? As an avid reader of Young Adult fiction, I was aware that LGBT+ representation was improving in the genre but it seemed as if the B in the acronym was silent, there were few positive bisexual characters who did not fall back into the stereotype of bisexuality being for white, middle-class girls. It was important to me to write a character who broke out this mould so I created Avery Hardy, who is by far my favourite literary invention of all time. He is a bisexual miner from the North who also happens to be the undisputed hero of the novel. The recognition and excellence that I wanted to be associated with a bisexual protagonist was of utmost importance to me whilst writing as many books either erased the identities of those with that sexuality or made them into one-dimensional caricatures. This is what inspired me to refine and recraft my book with such precision and care.

Eventually, I got over this frenzy of writing. No one can sustain that sort of habit as well as schoolwork. It was now April 2016, I had more important things to worry about, such as the imminent exams that loomed over the breadth of the summer. However, I decided that my finished product was good enough to consider for publication. I was sixteen now, after all, the height of maturity. In a fit of misguided enthusiasm, I typed ‘publishers’ into Google and sent a few of them copies of my manuscript and a cover letter.

Needless to say, they did not even dignify me with a response. Confused, I sent a few more out, receiving mixed reactions that ranged from mild interest to vehement disgust. It was at this moment I knew that my book was more controversial than I had previously thought. The combination of my age and the subject matter made me interesting, but it soon became apparent that this also made me a risk. I was unknown, I had not thought to get an agent, and was utterly lost in the difficult world of publishing. Moreover, a couple of publishing companies were impolite in ways that I had never imagined, one of them telling me that I had ‘a lot more growing up to do before [I] could write something worth reading’. I made further edits to my novel and decided that I would try one last time, having researched an American publisher that I had seen on the cover of a book I had been reading. They said that they would accept unsolicited submissions, so I submitted my manuscript to them and promptly forgot all about it. They were publisher number fifteen.

Having received fourteen rejections, to say I was not confident that my novel be accepted would be an understatement. A few weeks passed and I returned to my studies. My GCSE’s started and I decided that I had to work harder, bearing in mind that my writing career was obviously not the massive success that I had assumed it would be. I then received an email saying that Koehler Books wanted to have a Skype call with me to discuss my work. I had a Skype call with them and a few days later I was offered a traditional contract. It was the day of my Physics GCSE.

So, how did I get my book published when I was seventeen? That is a complex question. A lot of it has been down to luck. I was incredibly lucky to find the right people who wanted my book, to have had the right people working with me on publicity and other aspects of the process. Another important factor is work. I gave up any chance of a regular social life when I decided that I wanted to be an author, and now I am doing my a-levels my life has become even more orientated around my schoolwork and writing. It does not really matter to me, because this is what I want to do and I am an introvert but I can imagine that some people would find this difficult. When I felt sad or lacking in inspiration during the process I would look at the works of my favourite authors: William Nicholson, Madeline Miller, and J.K. Rowling. To know that every other author has been through something similar is a relief and will always help to keep me writing.

‘His Frozen Fingertips’ came out on June 26th 2017 and I am still as proud of it as I was when I completed the first draft all the way back in 2015. Over these past few years, I have come to terms with the fact that it is not perfect, though I still have to remind myself of this when I feel myself growing too critical. It is a complete coincidence, but it seems fitting that it was published on the 20th anniversary of the publication of ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’. ‘Harry Potter’ has been a major part of my life ever since I read it in early childhood and to hear that it has reached twenty years old now is almost unbelievable. Now that I have achieved my first step in becoming a proper author, it feels like I have grown up, too.

Wow! What an amazing story! A huge thank you Charlotte for the great guest post and thank you to Bookollective for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

 

Author Guest Post by Susan Gandar ‘Absent Father’ and Excerpt

It is Father’s Day on Sunday and as a celebration of that I have a gorgeous guest post from the lovely Susan Gandar. Susan is the author of the beautiful We’ve Come To Take You Home and along with her guest post you can read an excerpt of her debut novel. I’m delighted to have Susan vising the blog today as We’ve Come To Take You Home was one of my favourite books of 2016. I will now hand you over to Susan…

 

Absent Father

What was it like to grow up, the daughter of a 4 Oscar winning father? Yes, it had its moments, very exciting and very different. One of my birthdays was spent, with a group of friends, visiting Shepperton Studios where Carol Reed’s musical ‘Oliver!’ was being shot. We watched as Mark Lester, playing Oliver, crept up to Harry Secombe’s Mr. Bumble, held out his bowl – and whispered, ‘Please, Sir, can I have some more?!

With my father working away so much of the time, most of my school holidays were spent visiting him on location. One of those summer holidays was spent in Spain, in Madrid, where ‘Doctor Zhivago’ was being filmed. Early one blazingly hot morning, heat already shimmering off the pavements, we set off from the cool, dark apartment my parents were renting to visit the unit filming on the other side of the city.

An hour later, I was standing, up to my ankles in snow, in ‘Kropotkin Street’ in Moscow. And it was still over 100 F! And there wasn’t just one street but several, with trams clanking up and down, even a cathedral and in the far distance the crenellated walls of the Kremlin – the Magician, as my father was known, and his team had been at work again.

Those are the positive memories. But there are many that are less so: the number of birthdays that were missed, my very unhappy and frustrated mother, the bullying at school because I was so ‘different’.

Things came to a head when my father was offered and accepted the role of production designer on David Lean’s epic ‘Laurence of Arabia’. He packed his bags and walked out of the front door – not to return for two years. I remember so well the puzzlement, the heartache, the tearful phone calls, the feeling that we all, my mother, my sister and I, the rest of the family, had been deserted.

And then it was Christmas – and he was coming home, just for a couple of days, but that had to be better than nothing. I stood there, five years old, trembling with excitement, staring out of the window, watching out for my father. And there he was, walking down the street, towards our house. I ran out of the sitting room into the hallway, wrenched open the front door, flew down the steps, down onto the street – and threw myself into his arms saying those lines which Jenny Agutter made so famous in the film The Railway Children, ‘Daddy, my Daddy!’.

But the magic moment I’d been dreaming about, better than any Christmas present, being hugged, kissed, burying myself in my father’s arms, didn’t happen. My father just stood there, shuffling his feet, saying nothing, doing nothing. And then my mother was there, pulling at me, apologising, saying she was really sorry, and I was being led back up the steps, through the front door, into our flat. This man wasn’t my father, he was a stranger, just a man walking down the street, my real father would be coming later. And he did, tall and suntanned, and rather glamorous, but rather aloof, mentally and emotionally- still out in Jordan, in the desert, drawing a line through the sand, for Omar Sharif to follow when riding into the well on his camel.

My mother threatened by father with divorce – and the films abroad stopped, at least for a while. And I had a father who was at home, not all of the time, but at least some of the time. And we did what other families did, going for walks together in the local park on a Sunday. To me, even now, the memory of my father’s hand gripping mine, him being there, with us, fills me with a mix of huge happiness – but also huge sadness. Not because of all the time he spent away, not being there when we were growing up. But because, when I was older, when I could spend more time with him and really appreciate who he was, he became the most supportive and most wonderful father – and my dearest friend.

A huge thank you Susan for such a wonderful and moving article.

We’ve Come To Take You Home Excerpt

The accident and emergency waiting room was full, every seat taken, with bonfire night casualties.
‘Your address?’
‘7 Seaview Road.’
‘Your friend’s name?’
‘Friend?’
‘The girl you came in with? In the ambulance?’
‘Amy Roberts.’
‘Address?’
‘Tudor Close.’
‘Number?’
A tall figure, dressed in pilot’s uniform, gold braid on his sleeves, cap perched at just the right angle on top of his head, was striding towards the entrance doors of the accident and emergency department.
‘I’m sorry…’
The automatic doors slid open.
‘The house number? In Tudor Close?’
‘Twenty-four, I think. I’m not sure…’
The figure disappeared outside.
‘No problem. We can check. If you’d like to take a seat I’ll get…’
She couldn’t wait. She’d done all she could. There was a police car sitting outside the girl’s house. When her parents arrived home they would be driven straight to the hospital.
She pushed her way past a family, a little boy his head buried in his father’s shoulder, his right hand tightly bound in a wet towel, the mother sobbing into her phone. Behind were two girls, the same age as herself, supporting a third, the side of her face streaked a livid red. The doors slid open. And there he was. Head held high, arms and legs pumping, on his way to somewhere else.
‘Dad…’
An ambulance, blue lights flashing, sirens blaring, turned off the main road. It accelerated up the ramp directly towards her father.
‘Dad, look out.’
There was no slamming of brakes. No thump of hard metal crunching into soft flesh. The ambulance continued up the ramp. It screeched to a stop outside the accident and emergency department. The driver got out, walked round to the back and threw open first one door, and then the other. An elderly couple looked Sam up and down, shook their heads, muttered something to each other, and continued walking down the ramp towards the main road.
She stood there, trembling, staring at the spot where her father had just been. There had been no slam of brakes, no thump of metal, no screaming or calling out for a doctor, because there had been nothing to scream or call out about. Instead of shattered bone and blood and guts there was empty space. Her father had vanished – if he had ever been there at all.
She ran back into the accident and emergency department, through the waiting area, and down the corridor to the lift. She punched the button. She stepped inside. The doors closed, the doors opened, people got in, people got out; sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth and, at last, the tenth floor.
‘Stand clear… oxygen away…VF… shock.’
A trolley, laden with equipment, stood at the end of her father’s bed. She recognised it.
‘Asystole. Flat line.’
It was the same trolley the doctors had used to shoot electricity through the old man’s body. The old man with the grey face thick with stubble, locked away in his coma, who had suddenly sat upright, straight backed in his bed, his arms outstretched, his eyes staring, his mouth opening and closing as if he was trying to say something. That bed was now empty.
‘There’s no heartbeat. It’s been too long.’
A nurse started to remove an intravenous tube from her father’s right arm. A second nurse started to remove an intravenous tube from his left arm. A third nurse unplugged a monitor.
Her father was being tidied up, packed away, like he was nothing more than a head, and a chest, with two arms and two legs which had never felt pain, had never felt anger – had never known love.
She pushed past the trolley, with its plugs and its wires, its paddles and its cables, which had produced the electric shocks that had shot through her father’s body, sending him convulsing off the bed. None of which had worked.
‘Dad, it’s me, Sam.’
She grabbed hold of his hand.
‘Please come back.’
Someone was trying to pull her away from the bed.
‘Sam, come with me now. Your dad can’t hear you…’
It was Mac. Standing next to him was Dr. Brownlow.
‘We did everything we could.’
And now Mac was putting his hand on her hand, and he was uncurling it, finger by finger, out of her father’s. She kicked out, hitting him hard on the shin. He jumped back. She held on to her father’s hand even tighter.
‘We love you…’
Her whole body was screaming.
‘Please come back…’
She had to make him hear.
‘We love you, we love you. Please come back.’
‘Sam, stop now, Dad can’t hear you…’
She had a special gift. That’s what the old lady in the church had said. She could see and hear things other people couldn’t see or hear, go to places other people couldn’t reach. So where would her father be now? Where would he go, inside his head, if he was in a coma?
She closed her eyes. Sometimes her father would be away for just a couple of days, sometimes a full week, often even longer, but, wherever he was, even if it was on the other side of the world, they had always been able to talk to each other. She had always been able to reach him.

You can purchase a copy of We’ve Come To Take You Home HERE.

Read my review HERE and Susan’s Author Influences HERE.

Author Guest Post ‘A Sense of Place’ by Rose Alexander

I’m thrilled to be able to bring you a great guest post by Rose Alexander on the sense of place in a novel. I adored Rose’s debut novel Garden of Stars (you can read my review here). Her latest novel Under An Amber Sky has been getting great reviews. Anyway I will hand you over to the lady herself…

A Sense Of Place

One of the most exciting and liberating parts of writing is that, as you tap away at your keyboard, you can transport yourself and your readers to absolutely anywhere. Literally anywhere in the world. Some people might think that the location is a function of the story rather than the reason for it. But in my experience the best writing comes when a country or landscape gives – or perhaps gifts – the story to you.

This is what happened with my latest novel, Under An Amber Sky. News stories about the tiny, uninhabited Mamula island off the coast of Montenegro caught my attention. The only structure currently on Mamula is a partially ruined Austro-Hungarian fortress constructed in 1853, but over recent years there have been several proposals to develop the island for tourism. All have come to nothing – until now. The government has leased the land to a hotel group that plans to turn it into a resort boasting swimming pools, a yacht marina, a spa, restaurants and dance floor. Nothing wrong there, you might think – but local people are appalled. Why? Because Mamula was a World War II concentration camp used by the Italian occupiers to imprison men, women and children accused of a variety of crimes. Many were tortured or starved to death.

What must the lives have been like for those taken there? For those left behind, desperate for news, not knowing what was happening to their loved ones? From these questions the plot grew and burgeoned and developed into the novel published on 24th May 2017. The book really wrote itself; the protagonist and her tragedy, the many characters who turn up to join her in rebuilding her life in Montenegro, the historical figures so deeply affected by war and bloodshed. The words simply flew from my fingers to the page. Sometimes writing is hellish difficult and takes forever, but creating this book was not like that at all; it flowed. I have no idea if books with a genesis such as this are better or more enjoyable to read than the ones that have to be wrenched out of one with great force and effort – perhaps you readers will be able to tell me the answer! – but it certainly makes the creative process a joy rather than a torment and that has to be a good thing.

Happy reading.

Thank you Rose for a wonderful guest post. This has definitely whet my appetite for Under An Amber Sky which is out now. 

The Blurb

From the bestselling author of GARDEN OF STARS comes a heartwarming and emotional story of hope and second chances.
When Sophie Taylor’s life falls apart, there is only one thing to do: escape and find a new one.
Dragged to Montenegro by her best friend Anna, Sophie begins to see the light at the end of a very dark tunnel. But when she stumbles into an old, run-down house on the Bay of Kotor she surprises even herself when she buys it.
Surrounded by old furniture, left behind by the former inhabitants, Sophie becomes obsessed by a young Balkan couple when she discovers a bundle of letters from the 1940s in a broken roll-top desk. Letters that speak of great love, hope and a mystery Sophie can’t help but get drawn into.
Days in Montenegro are nothing like she expected and as Sophie’s home begins to fill with a motley crew of lodgers the house by the bay begins to breathe again. And for Sophie, life seems to be restarting. But letting go of the past is easier said than done…