Write The Book You Want To Read by guest author Sue Barnard

I am happy to have the talented author, Susan Barnard visiting my blog today to tell us about her writing journey. It is always interestng to learn how writers became authors. Over to you, Sue.

It all began way back in 2012, with a surprising prompt: Write The Book You Want To Read.Sue Barnard Author

In the thirty-odd years since I first saw Franco Zeffirelli’s 1968 film of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, the book I’d always wanted to read is the alternative version of the story, in which the young lovers don’t fall victim to a maddeningly preventable catastrophe. Why, I asked myself, should there not be such a book? And the answer came straight back: Why not indeed? And if it doesn’t already exist, then go ahead and write it.

Although I’ve dabbled with writing for as long as I can remember, until that point I’d never attempted anything more ambitious than poems, short stories, articles for the parish magazine, or the occasional stroppy letter to The Times. The thought of tackling a full-length novel, even on a subject about which I felt so strongly, was a daunting prospect.

But the idea wouldn’t go away. Go on, said that persistent voice in my head. Just do it. Think about the story, and ask yourself: What if things had worked out differently? Can you manage to give Romeo and Juliet their happy ending?TGF front

The eventual result was my debut novel, The Ghostly Father, which was first published by Crooked Cat Books in 2014. It’s a sort of part-prequel, part-sequel to the original story, but with a few new twists and a whole new outcome. The basic idea is quite simple: What if the story of Romeo and Juliet really did happen, but what if it didn’t happen quite the way we think it did?

I returned to the “What If…?” idea for my latest book, Heathcliff, also published by Crooked Cat Books. Heathcliff was officially launched on 30 July 2018, to coincide with the bicentenary of the birth of Emily Brontë. It’s a Wuthering Heights spin-off novel which speculates what might have happened to Heathcliff during the three years when he disappears from the original story – something which Emily Brontë left tantalisingly unexplained.

After hearing his love say him “Nay”,

he runs, broken-hearted, away.

Three years later he’s back,

having made quite a stack.

What went on in between? Who can say?

What if Heathcliff had…

No, I mustn’t say any more, for fear of revealing spoilers…

It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now…”

Cathy’s immortal words from Wuthering Heights change Heathcliff’s life.  At just seventeen years of age, heartbroken and penniless, he runs away to face an unknown future. 

Three years later, he returns – much improved in manners, appearance, and prosperity.

But what happened during those years? How could he have made his fortune, from nothing? Who might his parents have been? And what fate turned him into literature’s most famous anti-hero?

For almost two centuries, these questions have remained unanswered.  Until now…Heathcliff front cover

About the Author

Sue Barnard is a British novelist, editor and award-winning poet whose family background is far stranger than any work of fiction. She would write a book about it if she thought anybody would believe her.

Sue was born in North Wales but has spent most of her life in and around Manchester. She speaks French like a Belgian, German like a schoolgirl, and Italian and Portuguese like an Englishwoman abroad.

Her mind is so warped that she has appeared on BBC TV’s Only Connect quiz show, and she has also compiled questions for BBC Radio 4’s fiendishly difficult Round Britain Quiz. This once caused one of her sons to describe her as “professionally weird.” The label has stuck.

Sue joined the editorial team of Crooked Cat Publishing in 2013. Her first novel, The Ghostly Father (a new take on the traditional story of Romeo & Juliet) was officially released on St Valentine’s Day 2014. Since then she has produced four more novels: Nice Girls Don’t (2014), The Unkindest Cut of All (2015), Never on Saturday (2017) and Heathcliff (a Wuthering Heights spin-off story about Heathcliff’s missing years, published on 30 July 2018, to coincide with the bicentenary of the birth of Emily Brontë).

Sue now lives in Cheshire with her extremely patient husband and a large collection of unfinished scribblings. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter (@AuthorSusanB), Amazon, or follow her blog here.

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The Cold, Cold Sea by Linda Huber

It is my great pleasure to host my friend and fellow author, Linda Huber on the blog today. Linda grew up in Glasgow, Scotland, but went to work in Switzerland for a year aged twenty-two, and has lived there ever since. Her day jobs have included working as a physiotherapist in hospitals and schools for handicapped children, and teaching English in a medieval castle. Currently, she teaches one day a week and writes psychological suspense novels and feel-good novellas with (most of) the rest of her time.

Her writing career began in the nineties when she had over fifty short stories published in women’s magazines. Several years later, she turned to psychological suspense fiction, and her seventh novel, Death Wish, was published by Bloodhound Books in August 2017.

Linda’s latest project is a series of feel-good novellas, set on the banks of Lake Constance and just minutes from her home in north-east Switzerland. She really appreciates having the views enjoyed by her characters right on her own doorstep!LindaHuber

The Cold, Cold Sea

They stared at each other, and Maggie felt the tightness in her middle expand as it shifted, burning its way up… Painful sobs rose in her throat as Colin, his face expressionless now, reached for his mobile and tapped 999.

When three-year-old Olivia disappears from the beach, a happy family holiday comes to an abrupt end. Maggie is plunged into the darkest nightmare imaginable – what happened to her little girl?

Further along the coast, another mother is having problems too. Jennifer’s daughter Hailey is starting school, and it should be such a happy time, but the child is increasingly moody and silent. Family life has never seemed so awkward, and Jennifer struggles to maintain control.

The tide ebbs and flows, and summer dies, but there is no comfort for Maggie, alone now at the cottage, or for Jennifer, still swamped by doubts.

A psychologically astute, edge-of-the-seat story.’ Hilary Johnson

Unsettling and disturbing… I couldn’t put it down.’ Rebecca Muddiman

Breathtaking and utterly compelling.’ Debi Alper

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Amazon Author Page:viewAuthor.at/LindaHuber

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorlindahuber

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LindaHuber19

website: http://lindahuber.net/

It’s a Wild Crime Writing Life by guest author Wendy Jones

I am delighted to host my friend and fellow crime writer, Wendy Jones on the blog today. Here she talks about her writing career, her new novel Antiques and Alibis and her new publishing contract. Over to you, Wendy.

Life sometimes takes strange twists and turns, and mine is certainly testament to this. My career started off in the usual fairly mundane manner. I joined the Royal Navy as a student nurse and served for 6 years. When I left, missing the military life, I promptly joined the army as a nursing officer where I served for a further 17 years and reaching the rank of Major. This is a rank I hold to this day. So how did I end up as a crime writer?

AandA-EBOOK.jpgAfter leaving the military I worked in Academia. Whilst working as the Deputy Director of a University faculty I ended up very ill with lung problems. Deciding that life was too short not to be following your dreams, I moved back to Scotland and started writing books. Or one book to be precise. During a time when it rained consistently for 12 solid weeks. I’m not talking minor drizzle here but flood level rain. The type that keeps you indoors and your mind focused on your writing. Thus, Killer’s Countdown, the first book in the DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries was born.

My writing didn’t come from nowhere. I had been writing academic books and articles and also wrote down all my wild adventures as I travelled around the worlds in the military. However, I’d always had a hankering to write a novel. And write novels I have, with there now being six books in the series. A publisher approached me and asked if I would be interested in writing a series of Young Adult books, and I signed a three book contract for the Fergus and Flora Mysteries. The first in the series is The Dagger’s Curse. The second, The Haunted Broch will be released in September 2018.

It’s been a thrilling ride since I started. I’ve spoken at conferences locally, nationally and internationally, been appointed as the President of The Scottish Association of Writers, and co-founded a new Crime Festival, Crime at the Castle. I’ve done book signings all over the world and will be doing a tour of the States next year. The books have been very well received in many countries, which always makes a writer’s heart thrill.

Six books in to my first series, I decided to try my hand at another. I’d always had a hankering to write humorous crime. Thus I came up with the concept of a red headed, motor bike riding, ex-ballerina who inherits a private detective agency and accidently hires an ex-con dwarf and an octogenarian. Cass Claymore was born, and launched into the world in her first adventure, Antiques and Alibis.

Cass Claymore, a red headed, motorbike riding, ex-ballerina inherits a Detective Agency, and accidentally employs an ex-con dwarf and an octogenarian. Hired by a client who should know better, Cass has no leads, no clue and a complete inability to solve a case. Still a girl needs to eat and her highbred client’s offering good money. Join her as, with bungling incompetence, she follows a trail littered with missing antique teddies, hapless crooks, a misplaced Lord of the Realm and dead bodies. Will Cass, and Scotland, survive?’

In a further twist, I was asked to write a series of picture books based on the real-life story of a young buffalo that went missing in Fife. I signed a publishing contract and Bertie’s Great Escape will be released in October 2018, with Malcolm Down and Sara Grace Publishing. I’m excited about this new venture. From Crime to Buffalo, who would have thought? Certainly not me when I first started on this wild adventure.

Author Photo Wendy H. Jones

Author Bio

Wendy H. Jones is an award-winning Scottish Crime Writer who lives and sets her books in Dundee, Scotland. She is also an International Public Speaker talking about writing and marketing. Killer’s Crew, the first book in her DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries was the Winner of the Books Go Social Book of the Year 2017. The Dagger’s Curse, the first book in her Young Adult mystery series, was a finalist in the Woman Alive Magazine Readers Choice Award 2017. She has signed a publishing contract with Malcolm Down and Sarah Grace Publishing for the first book in a children’s picture book series, based on a true story about a little Buffalo in Scotland. The first, Bertie’s Great Escape will be released late October 2018. When she’s not writing, Wendy spends her time travelling the world. She is also President of the Scottish Association of Writers and co-founder of Crime at the Castle, a Scottish literary festival held at Glamis Castle Scotland

Find out more

Website: http://www.wendyhjones.com

Amazon: http://author.to/WendyHJones

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/wendy-h-jones

Twitter: https://twitter.com/WendyHJones

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wendyhjonesauthor/

Winter Writerland by Beatrice Fishback

I recently finished the lovely cosy mystery written by Beatrice Fishback. I have read a couple of the books in her Bethel Manor series of novels, and know I like her style of writing. Beatrice Fishback

Winter Writerland is set at a writer’s conference in central England where American teacher, Daisy, has retired. She meets up with her friends Allison, Fiona, Jennifer, June and Val at the conference. Poor June is found by Fiona: she is dead in the lake. As the conference centre was cut off in Winter weather, the women have to assist one of the lecturers, Detective Sergeant Decker, to find out the cause of her death.

If you enjoy a cosy crime story with lots of twists and turns and a good dash of humour, I highly recommend Writer Winterland. The novel is published by Crooked Cat Books.

Winter Writerland

About the Author

Beatrice Fishback, originally from New York, lived in the East Anglian area of Great Britain for over twenty years and traveled extensively in the United Kingdom and throughout Europe. She is the author of Loving Your Military Man by FamilyLife Publishing and, with her husband Jim, is the co-author of Defending the Military Marriage and Defending the Military Family. She has been published in various compilations, magazines and online websites.

She and her husband have spoken to U.S. military audiences in the USA, Germany, England, Italy, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Korea, and Japan. They have also presented to international audiences in the Czech Republic, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Zimbabwe, Romania, Ukraine, Bulgaria, and Latvia.

Beatrice and Jim currently reside in North Carolina where scones are called biscuits and are topped with gravy, and sadly tea that is served over ice.

Val Penny

Writing the Brotherhood by guest author Jo Fenton

I am delighted to host my friend and fellow author, Jo Fenton on my blog today. She has recently published her brilliant debut novel, The Brotherhood. Over to you, Jo!

The Botherhood Banner

Let me take you back to a morning in October 2011…

There’s the usual scrum in the kitchen, hubby making his breakfast and washing up; me making my breakfast, feeding the dog, and throwing some bread in the toaster for my youngest son. We know by now that the eldest won’t make it downstairs until it’s time to leave – maximum time in bed in the mornings matters far more to him than breakfast.

Over the noise of the kettle and the chatter, breakfast TV is blaring out, and then suddenly the words, ‘National Novel Writing Month’ hit my ears. I shut everyone up and turn the volume on the kitchen TV up another notch. The presenter is explaining what happens in NaNoWriMo, as it’s known: for the month of November, thousands of people around the world devote every moment of their spare time to writing a 50,000 word novel. My other half looks at me.Jo Fenton

“Why don’t you give it a try?” he says, obviously seeing the longing in my face. I’d been dabbling in a few short stories throughout the year, but nothing had really grabbed me. The idea of a novel had been lurking for a while (with no idea of what to actually write).

I probably mumbled something about lack of time, full time job, teenage kids, travel for work, that sort of thing (I suspect I didn’t mention housework!) He argued with me.

“The kids are older, give it a try. Write that novel.” He then rounded up the boys and left for work and the school run.Jo Fenton

I settled down in my home office and turned on the laptop. Meanwhile, I started to think about this novel: early thoughts were of a strange, fantasy world, but common sense kicked in. I’d never written anything longer than a 2000 word short story. 50,000 words on a whole new world seemed a huge amount, and yet not enough. My ideas narrowed, and I recollected the old Agatha Christie type closed room murders. Somewhere from the rubble of the closed room came the concept of the religious sect, with its potential for brainwashing, violence, and unstable characters. The Brotherhood was born.

That first month, I wrote about 20,000 words. I spent the next year turning that into about 60,000, but realised somewhere along the way, that I didn’t really have a clue what I was doing. Through a friend, I heard about some creative writing workshops that were starting in January 2013. They were to be held fortnightly on a Saturday – perfect. I enrolled, learned a lot, met some delightful people and was gutted on the final day of the course that it was to come to an end. Fortunately someone (I can’t remember who; it might even have been me) suggested the idea of meeting regularly for more workshops and critique sessions.the Brotherhood book

The group evolved, and so did The Brotherhood. With regular input from the Manchester Scribes and also from my online writing group (another wonderful set of writers), the novel got re-written again and again. Eventually, after 6 years and about 10 drafts, it was ready to submit. The standard rejections came through first, and then (after not too long a wait), a request for a full manuscript, followed soon after by an offer of contract from Crooked Cat Books.

The last 6 months have been a whirlwind of editing, choosing book covers, and preparing for launches. Now The Brotherhood is out there. I’ve had great feedback so far, on and offline.

It’s available on Amazon at https://t.co/YXdn8AM506

Website www.jofenton137.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jofentonauthor/

Twitter: @jl_fenton

About the Author

Jo Fenton grew up in Hertfordshire. She devoured books from an early age, particularly enjoying adventure books, school stories and fantasy. She wanted to be a scientist from aged six after being given a wonderful book titled “Science Can Be Fun”. At eleven, she discovered Agatha Christie and Georgette Heyer, and now has an eclectic and much loved book collection cluttering her home office.

Jo combines an exciting career in Clinical Research with an equally exciting but very different career as a writer of psychological thrillers. When not working, she runs (very slowly), and chats to lots of people. Jo lives in Manchester with her husband, two teenage boys, a Corgi and a tankful of tropical fish. She is an active and enthusiastic member of two writing groups and a reading group.

Bone Deep by guest author, Sandra Ireland

I am very excited that talented author, Sandra Ireland has agreed to share an extract from her new novel Bone Deep, on my blog today. It is an exciting story told by an original voice. Thank you for this incite into your book, Sandra.

Bone Deep deals with question of what happens when you fall in love with the wrong person? The consequences threaten to be far-reaching and potentially deadly. Bone Deep is a contemporary novel of sibling rivalry, love, betrayal and murder. This is the story of two women: Mac, who is bent on keeping the secrets of the past from her only son, and the enigmatic Lucie, whose past is something of a closed book. Their story is underpinned by the creaking presence of an abandoned water mill, and haunted by the local legend of two long-dead sisters, themselves rivals in love, and ready to point an accusing finger from the pages of history.

BoneDeep final

Extract

Lucie

In the night, a baby’s cry wakes me. At least, that’s what it sounds like to me – a thin wail, out there in the black night – and I come out of sleep shaking inside, my heart hammering. I lie in the narrow bed, cold but sweating, eyes straining, trying to place myself in the dark. I see the loom of a strange wardrobe. The air smells unfamiliar. I make out a thin strip of yellow light where the curtains don’t meet, and recognition comes slowly. The security light is on. That’s it, that yellow sliver of light. I lie still, soaking up the heat under the duvet. The noise has stopped, but I can’t settle. I’ll have to get up, investigate. Security lights don’t just come on by themselves.

The rug is cold beneath my feet. I can feel the hard ridges of the stone tiles beneath. I root around for my slippers and wish I’d taken the time to unpack my fleecy dressing gown. I’d dug out an oversize T-shirt for sleeping in, and I hug that more tightly around my chest. Flicking on the lamp, the room comes into sharp relief. Not familiar, yet, but normal. The furniture has its own new landscape, and the only thing I’m sure of is my suitcase, now gaping open, with my clothes spilling out. I should have unpacked, but I’d been so tired. Maybe I could do it now? Sleep already feels pretty distant. I might make a cup of tea.

The baby starts crying again. It’s outside. Wrenching open my bedroom door, I run down cold passages, skidding to a halt in the kitchen. I can still hear it, a soft sobbing that scrapes at my insides like nails. It’s coming from the back door. Carefully I make my way through the maze of wellies and baskets and boxes, searching for light switches, snapping them on. My breathing is beginning to calm. I’m trying to listen to the rational part of my brain. It isn’t a baby crying. It isn’t a sob. It’s a whine. I find the back-door key and poke it into the lock.

‘This had better be good,’ I mutter, turning the handle. The whining stops. I can hear excited snuffling. ‘You’d better have a bloody good excuse.’

I open the door and Floss, Mac’s spaniel, bounces in, wagging her tail like it’s morning and everyone should be up. I make tea. We go back to bed. Floss leaps onto the duvet before I even take my slippers off. I’m too tired to argue. I turn off the light and squeeze myself into the space that’s left. We find a kind of shape; I bend my knees, she spirals into the back of them. Within seconds she starts to snore softly. It’s oddly comforting.

Buy Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bone-Deep-Sandra-Ireland-ebook/dp/B079GD6XJ7/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1529339900&sr=8-1&keywords=bone+deep

Sandra Ireland (1)

Implant by guest author Ray Clark

I am delighted to welcome Ray Clark to the blog today. His new book, Implant, is a must read for the summer. As a special treat, Ray entices us in today with an excerpt from the book! Over to you, Ray:

Bramfield, near Leeds, a sleepy little market town nestled on the borders of West and North Yorkshire. Detectives Stewart Gardener and Sean Reilly discover the naked corpse of Alex Wilson, nailed to the wall of a cellar in his uncle’s hardware store. His lips are sewn together and his body bears only one mark, a fresh scar near his abdomen.

Within forty-eight hours, their investigation results in dead ends, more victims, no suspects and very little in the way of solid evidence.

Gardener and Reilly have a problem and a question on their hands: are the residents of Bramfield prepared for one of history’s most sadistic killers, The Tooth Fairy? The detectives race against time to stop the trail of horrific murders… 

Implant - Ray Clark.jpg

 1.

The sound of the incoming call broke the silence in the station.

Maurice Cragg, the desk sergeant, glanced up as PC Gary Close reached for his mobile and answered it.

Under normal circumstances, he would not allow personal calls at work, as was the right of any employer. But there were a number of overriding factors that gave way to his leniency. Not the least of which was the fact he was engrossed in a serial on BBC Radio 4, something called Mystery House starring Bela Lugosi, a lost classic from the archives recently discovered. The fact that it was also three o’ clock in the morning, Monday to be precise, meant the small community police station of Bramfield had little or nothing to actually do.

Also, he liked Gary Close. Close was pretty slim, around six feet tall, with dark brown hair and a rugged complexion that had at some point suffered the effects of teenage acne. Despite being only nineteen, he was no stranger to bad luck. His father had been killed when Gary was eleven. His best friend had died of a drug overdose about four years ago, in extremely strange circumstances. Three months ago he broke his leg playing Sunday League football, and had returned to work following only a two-month convalescence. And to top it all, his mother Christine had recently been diagnosed with what seemed like an inoperable brain tumour.

Cragg sighed. God, he felt sorry for that lad. But for all that, he had the makings of a damn good copper. He was dedicated, willing to go the extra mile to help out. He’d make D.I. someday, if his temper didn’t have the better of him.

“What do you mean, three hours?” demanded Gary.

Cragg glanced up again, slightly irritated at the interruption but concerned by Gary’s tone.

“Who is this?” shouted the PC.

Cragg lowered the volume on the radio, taking a keener interest.

Gary moved the phone away from his ear and glanced at the screen. “Number withheld,” he said to Maurice. He raised the mobile and tried to continue the conversation. “Hello?” Gary lowered the cell. “He’s gone.”

“Who has?” Cragg asked, leaning forward in his armchair. They were currently in the back room of the station, which resembled someone’s sitting room. They had a table and chairs, a three-piece suite, a wooden floor with an assortment of rugs, and wallpaper that must have ceased production in the 1950s.

“That’s just it, I don’t know.”

“Well, what was he on about, three hours?”

“When I answered, he just said ‘you’ve got three hours left.’”

“To what? He didn’t say anything else? He didn’t hint towards anything?” asked Cragg, trying to assess whether or not it was serious. In the background the only thing he could hear was the continuation of his serial at a much lower volume.

“No,” replied Gary.

“Did you hear anything else, any background noise? Cars, phones ringing, a party going on somewhere?”

“No, nothing. That’s what was unsettling me.”

“A hoax call, maybe?”

“Could be, but you’d still expect to hear something else, wouldn’t you?”

Cragg glanced at his watch. “Perhaps not, especially at this time of a morning. No hint then as to what was going to happen in three hours? Or where?”

“No.”

“Did you recognize the voice?” asked Cragg.

“No.”

As Cragg was about to ask another question, the phone to the station rang.

“Bloody hell,” said Cragg. “Not much chance of a relaxing end to the shift, is there?”

He answered after the third ring. Before he could anything, a concerned voice spoke.

“Is that the Bramfield Police Station?”

“Yes, sir,” replied Cragg. “How can I help you?”

“It’s me that can help you. I live in the town, in a flat above one of the shops at the back of the Market Square, on Spital Street opposite Armitage’s.”

“The hardware store?”

“That’s the one.”

“Can you tell me your name, sir?”

“Jones, Richard Jones.”

“What about the hardware store?”

“Well, it’s three o’ clock in the morning, and there’s a light on in the shop.”

“I appreciate your concern, Mr. Jones,” replied Cragg, who knew Richard Jones pretty well; he worked nights at the furniture warehouse a couple of miles outside the town, which would explain why he was still up. “Maybe old Armitage can’t sleep.”

“Maybe he can’t, but he’s hardly likely to leave the front door wide open, whatever he’s doing.”

2.

3:15 a.m.

Alex Wilson was awake, of that he was sure.

But it was hard to tell because he couldn’t see a thing. Wherever he was, it was pitch black. He’d often heard the saying before, and had also been in circumstances where it had been dark, but not completely fucking black like it was now.

Alex was more than concerned; the first waves of paranoia were creeping in.

For one thing, he couldn’t move. Every time his brain sent a signal to either his arms or his legs, nothing happened. Equally frightening was that he had tried several times to shift his position, even in the slightest way, without success. He couldn’t even feel his arms or legs, or in fact his entire body.

Did he still have it?

Don’t be fucking stupid, Alex! You must at least still have your body. Otherwise, how would you be able to think things out? The blood must be circulating towards your brain and at least allowing some rational thought.

Unless, of course, his head been removed from his body and he was wired up to machinery which produced thoughts for him.

Alex decided he wasn’t going there. That was irrational!

He tried to work out whether he was horizontal or vertical, but even that seemed impossible.

Maybe that bastard, Lance Hobson, was testing out a new drug, something that wasn’t street legal, to see what kind of effect it would have.

That would obviously take time, which was another puzzle. How long had he been in his current situation? He had no way of working it out. Even if he could move his arm and check his watch, he still couldn’t see it because of how dark it was.

As his thoughts were becoming clearer, he tried as hard as he could to remember the last conscious thing he’d done. He conjured up a picture of meeting Lance Hobson in the car park in Bramfield, outside the public toilets adjacent to the church. But he had no idea when that was.

He suddenly had a vision of his flat. He was in the kitchen, heating up a pan of soup. He had no recollection however of eating it.

Alex sighed. It was bloody hopeless. But of all the questions he could not answer, there was very definitely one he could.

Wherever he was, the smell was vaguely familiar.

Buy Link: https://amzn.to/2KFWfzi

Authors website: http://michelekhoury.com/

Ray Clark Author Image.JPG

 About the Author

The British Fantasy Society published Ray Clark’s first work in 1995 – Manitou Man: The World of Graham Masterton, was nominated for both the World and British Fantasy Awards. In 2009, Ray’s short story, Promises To Keep, made the final shortlist for the best short story award from The Tom Howard Foundation. Ray is based in Goole, and has set his Gardener and Reilly crime series in nearby Leeds.

Website: http://www.thelordofmisrule.net/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/T1LOM

 

Still Life by Louise Penny

I had never read anything by Canadian author, Louise Penny, and as we share a surname, I decided I should do so. Still Life is her first novel featuring her recurring character Arnaud Gamache, so it seemed as good a place to start as any. The novel was published by St. Martin’s Paperbacks on 1 January 2005 and later went on to win the Anthony Award for Best First Novel in 2007. Nevertheless, I found it difficult to get into and nearly put it aside, but I am glad I persevered.
LouisePenny2The novel starts when a body is found in the woods around the village of Three Pines, south of Montreal. It transpires to be the body of Jane Neal, a long-term and much loved member of the Three Pines community. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec and his team of investigators are called in to the scene of the suspicious death. His investigation must discover whether Jane’s death is an accident or something much more sinister.
Still Life BookI found the character of the young female assistant, Nichol very irritating and did not feel she added much to the advancement of the story. The pace at the beginning of the book was extremely slow, for no apparent reason, although it did improve as the novel progressed. Still Life is an award-winning first novel where Louise Penny introduces an engaging hero in Inspector Gamache. I would be willing to read another book in this series.
Val Penny

 

Night driver by guest author Marcelle Perks

Night Driver - Marcelle PerksHeavily pregnant Frannie is facing a crisis. An English woman living in Germany, her marriage is failing, her language skills are hopeless, and she feels like a fish out of water in a foreign country.

In a positive effort to tackle her problems she learns to drive so she can cope when her baby is born and build a sense of independence. After passing her driving test she drives in the early hours of the morning to gain experience on the eerily empty streets.

But when she encounters a Polish motorcyclist looking for his missing sister, she becomes sucked into a terrifying world of shady nightclubs, autobahn prostitutes and organ trafficking. And when she crosses serial-killing truck driver Stigelegger, there’s no turning back.

A most unlikely heroine, this nervous Night Driver must stay one step ahead of her pursuer on the darkest of roads in order to survive.

Marcelle Perks is a British author and journalist living in Germany. She specializes in writing sexually-themed guide books, but also writes short stories. As a film journalist, she has contributed to such publications as British Horror Cinema, Fangoria, The Guardian and Kamera. Night Driver is her thrilling debut novel.

Social Media links:

Website: http://marcelleperks.com/4481.html
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Marcelleperks
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/marcelleperks/

Marcelle Perks Author Image.jpg

Chapter Two

When Lars was in his lorry it did not feel like work. Driving for
him was nothing more than reflex. He was a tall man, but, inside
his cab, the extra height of the lorry went to his head. He liked it
best when he had all the weight of a full load hooked up to the
gears. He used the truck’s massive bulk to frighten other drivers
and the berth of his cab to pick up men.
For a gay man, he was relatively old; already forty, with a beer
belly. Still, Lars was good at attracting young’uns. His shaved head
gave him a tough, odd-looking baby face. His deep brown eyes
looked as though they were always misbehaving.
He could have done many jobs but driving suited him. When
he was on the Autobahn he could cruise along on autopilot. It gave
him hours of time to fantasise. And, when he was rolling on the
road, there was only one thing on his mind.
Lars obsessed about young men’s flesh the way other people
salivated over cars. He saw people as falling into rough types. His
favourite, Type I, was naturally fair and practically hairless (or at
least on the chest and stomach). He liked their skin to have a rosy
hue so that if you pushed at it with a fingernail it would flush. Type
II was Irish-looking, with black hair and light eyes, but the skin
tone was still milky with little hair. Then there were the roughboned
types from farming stock, and the lean, lanky Northern
breeds. The dark, hairy ones he left. They were a turn-off, and if
his little man couldn’t get hard then there was no point.
The one he loved was Hans, a dark blond. He gave Hans every
cent he earned while the good-for-nothing was out doing God
knew what. Without him the boy would be nothing.
He was feeling lucky. He pulled into a rest stop. There was just
a stand selling hot sausages, and a toilet. The bare basics for a
hunting ground. He stepped out to take a cigarette, every part of
him focused on the other patrons.
A couple were rowing outside their car. The girl, flabby, boringly
dressed, was being loud about something. Lars drowned her out.
Her boyfriend was about eighteen, far too good for her. Type II,
slender. He was inhaling a cigarette as if he’d only just got the hang
of it. Lars bought a sausage to get closer to them. He made his
face look affable, as if he didn’t have a care in the world. His sharp
white teeth sank into the meat. Their voices got louder. Lars could
hardly breathe; if anyone had looked, they would have seen that
his knees were quivering.
‘Get there yourself, then!’ The girl flounced off and jumped
into in her red car, squealing out of the car park. The boy held his
hands out in the air. Then he stumbled over in the direction of the
booth, all big eyes and hunched shoulders.
Lars just gave him a friendly nod when he bought a beer. He
didn’t have to start anything; the boy took one look at his warm
eyes and that was it. Some of them even called him Onkel.
‘Second time she’s done that,’ the boy said, looking down at the
floor. He carried on slugging at his beer.
‘Mmm,’ agreed Lars, affably, as if everywhere he went he saw
the same thing happening.
‘Are you going Hannover way, by any chance?’ said the boy.
‘Yeah, as it happens,’ said Lars.
‘Can I get a ride?’
Lars nodded his head. He enjoyed this bit: being the thoroughly
normal guy doing another guy a favour. When they’d finished, he
opened the door of the cab for the youngster.
‘Thanks, I’m in a bit of a fix!’ the boy said, pink in the face.
‘I’ve got a drop-off at the Moonlights Club,’ Lars said, casually
wiping his mouth. ‘You can jump out at Pferdeturmkreuzung or
you can walk from the club to the train station.’
The young man blinked a lot. His face was mulling it all over.
‘Fags are in there; beers under the seat in the cooler,’ said Lars
as if he’d been expecting company. His face was open, natural.
He was neither handsome nor ugly, but he smiled so much that
people opened up, especially when they wanted something.
‘That’s the third time Vera’s left me,’ said the boy.
‘Oh,’ said Lars, stroking the handle of his gear stick. ‘And who
might you be?’
‘Peter,’ the boy said, his cheeks still flushed a brilliant pink. He
was a blusher. Lars loved to see blood suffusing under the skin.
‘If you like, I can get you into the club. My mate is part-owner.
There’ll be plenty of Veras there,’ said Lars. His tongue darted
energetically over his lips. He had to push his body further down
in the seat to hide his erection.
‘Really?’ said Peter, his young face caught in a half-smile.
‘Sure, just say the word.’ Lars beamed at Peter again. But his
smile was clearly just a shade too eager…
‘You know, I’ll get out at Pferdeturmkreuzung,’ Peter said, not
so sure suddenly.
Lars laughed as if he didn’t have a care in the world. ‘Jawohl.’
From then on, he drove like a crazy man. He jabbed his foot
down and turned the lorry abruptly out of the slow lane into the
middle one. A car had to shoot into the fast lane to avoid him. Lars
knew the full spatial length of his vehicle and drove erratically in
and out of lanes, scattering motorists like ants. It felt as if all the
raw vibrations of the truck were being pounded through his inner
thighs.
Peter’s flush had spread to his neck. His lower lip shivered. For
some reason he looked down at the gear stick and noticed Lars’s
hard-on. He squeezed his eyes shut. He shouldn’t have got in the
truck and he knew it.
The high pitch of a mobile phone broke the tension. Lars
answered, taking both hands off the wheel to do so. Peter’s face
glowed crimson.
‘Another one?’ Lars said. ‘Now, right this minute?’ His voice
wavered, like a child disappointed at not getting his favourite ice
cream. ‘If you could just give me half an hour.’
The person on the other end answered and Lars frowned at the
response, his fat stomach flapped over his jeans. Whatever he was
doing now, this looked like work.
Peter’s expression was frozen like a wounded animal. Perhaps
he thought that if he was quiet and still enough, the truck driver
might forget he was there.
‘KONZENTRIEREN!’ shouted Heinrich directly in Frannie’s face.
She couldn’t even look at him, dared not take her eyes off the busy
road. The other vehicles continually changed lanes, slid off on slip
lanes or overtook each other. She was terrified she would drive
into the back of someone who had abruptly changed lane, or that
someone would ram her from behind. The B6 had a speed limit
of a hundred and twenty kilometres per hour. It was way quicker
than her comfort zone of below seventy. Driving faster was both
physically harder, and also mentally: she had to react quickly at
this insane speed to the numerous traffic lights waiting to catch
her out.
To make things worse, it started raining.
Heinrich shouted a word she didn’t know. He must mean the
bloody windscreen wipers. Her panicked fingers blindly pressed
buttons, but she got the indicators instead. Shit! She hated fussing
with any extras: lights, wipers, indicators; didn’t even know
where the horn was. Keeping the car in forward motion was hard
enough. She was gripping the wheel so hard that it was hot. The
rain pattered down remorselessly. Temperatures inside the car
started to rise.

To Lars the truck was an extension of his personality. When he
was calm he drove solidly. When his mind was torn up, everything
became erratic. When Peter had said he didn’t want to join him
at the club, he had driven like a two-year-old. He rumbled up to
the next traffic lights as if he didn’t know what a red light was. He
hit the brakes sharply at the last minute, working up a sweat. The
smell of him crept into the cab. Peter looked as though, if he had
to endure much more of this, he was going to be sick.
A little grey Volkswagen emblazoned with ‘Heinrich’s Driving
School’ was crawling in the slow lane in front of him. Lars grinned
to himself. He pushed down his foot on the accelerator, feeling
his body thrum to the extra vibrating movement of the truck. The
learner driver was driving as slowly as she dared. He didn’t have
any tolerance for learners. He drove to within a few centimetres of
her bumper. See how she found that! He laughed out loud. The car
tried to speed out of danger and then was abruptly braked back.
The instructor was obviously insisting on the speed limit. From
the frantic head movements of the passenger and driver, a row
was in full swing.
The car signalled left and moved to the next lane. Lars did the
same, squeezing in behind in hot pursuit. The instructor turned
his head to look back at him and Lars nodded affably. Never
look pissed off when you want to frighten somebody. If they’re
confused you scare ’em worse. The learner driver went back into
the slow lane. Lars once again followed them, forcing two cars to
hastily brake. A horn hooted. He was really playing them.
Lars laughed to himself. He went on tailgating the little car. Peter
groaned. His mouth made lots of swallowing noises. The learner
driver’s movements were becoming more and more frantic. In a
minute she was going to shoot through a red light. The cab echoed
with the sound of Lars’s maniacal laughter.

Frannie couldn’t think straight. All she wanted was to get away
from the goddamn truck. Her thick blonde hair kept falling into
her eyes. This bloody truck driver was practically leaning on her
bumper! She just wanted to put as much distance between them as
possible. Shit. The light had just gone red. The car was already over
the line; she had to go for it anyway.
‘Nein!’ There was a screech as Heinrich performed an emergency
stop.
Frannie’s head was jerked forward. She could feel the vibrations
down into her solar plexus. She screamed. It was as if something
deep inside her had been wrenched. Oh, my God, the baby!
Frannie’s hand immediately went to her stomach. Her middle had
absorbed the jerking motion like a punch. She had to resist the
urge to go and yank the driver out of his cab and give him what
for. She couldn’t believe this was happening. The car was clearly
marked as a driving school vehicle. Everything started to get dark;
she remembered what the nurse with the pink hair had said on her
pre-natal course and tried to slow down her breathing. Her every
thought was concentrated on keeping the baby safe.
Heinrich was too shocked to carry on shouting. He’d written
down the licence number of the truck and looked as though he
was thinking about what to do with it.
She pushed on the hazard lights and forced her way out of the
door. ‘I can’t…’ she said, oblivious to the honking cars that minded
very much that she was holding up the traffic on the B6. She had to
breathe. No longer cared what anyone thought. She took in huge
gulps of fresh air as the rain battered down her fringe and stood
there trying not to look eight months pregnant.
‘I drive.’ Heinrich leapt round into the driver’s seat.
She got back in the car. The green traffic light had been on for
some time and the car leapt forward to escape the angry motorists
who were lining up and gesticulating.
‘Baby OK?’ He was trying to speak English.
‘Not sure,’ she said, waggling her head. Her stomach had swelled
into a dull zone of discomfort.
As Heinrich drove, he kept glancing at her. Something warm
trickled down her leg, soaking her dress. At first, she thought she
had wet herself, but it was much worse. Heinrich saw the blood
before she did. Her white dress showed up every trickle of it.
‘Shall I take you to the hospital?’ said Heinrich, pulling over, his
face creased in concern. He had turned from adversary to support
in minutes and it made Frannie want to weep with gratitude.
‘No, they have no records for the pregnancy,’ she said, her hand
holding her stomach. ‘My gynaecologist is just around the corner.’
She showed him her doctor’s card for the address and Heinrich
seemed to understand.
She tried to think positive, but it was hard to suppress the tears
that kept forming, however hard she blinked. She had to learn to
drive in order to function in the sticks, but she hadn’t anticipated
anything like this would happen. How often did your driving
instructor forcibly perform an emergency stop? Her hand shook
as she took her mobile out of her handbag to call Kurt.
‘We go there, now,’ Heinrich said, as concerned as if he were
the baby’s father. He put his foot down and drove as if he had a
flashing blue light.

Book info:

Publication Day: 2nd August 2018
Publisher: Urbane Publications
ISBN: 978-1911583967
Pages: 376
Category: Fiction, Genre: Thriller / Crime / Psychological

Buying links:

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2JB9CfN
Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2HyVYNV
Foyles: http://bit.ly/2Kp3M2a
Waterstones: http://bit.ly/2HERd1b

 

Sweatpants At Tiffanie’s by guest author Pernille Hughes

Sweatpants At Tiffanie’s will be published on August 3rd, 2018 in ebook followed by paperback on October 18th, by HarperImpulse. My friend and fellow author Pernille Hughes has taken time out today to stop by and visit my blog to tell me about it. Thank you for this – now over to you, Pernille!
Sweatpants Book
This is what it says on Amazon;

The knock out romantic comedy of the year!

This brilliant, funny love story is perfect for fans of Jo WatsonMhairi McFarlane and Zara Stoneley.

True love packs a punch…

Tiffanie Trent is not having a great week. Gavin, her boyfriend, has dumped her unceremoniously on their tenth anniversary, leaving her heartbroken and homeless.

Frank Black, the owner of Blackie’s boxing gym and where Tiff has been book-keeper for the last decade, has dropped dead. He’s not having a great week either.

And if that wasn’t enough, Mike ‘The Assassin’ Fellner, boxer of international fame and Tiff’s first love, is back in town and more gorgeous than ever. Tiff can’t seem to go anywhere without bumping into his biceps.

When she discovers Blackie has left her the gym, Tiff, with her saggy trackies and supermarket trainers, is certain she’ll fail. Can Tiff step up and roll with the punches, or will she be down and out at the first round?

The link; www.hyperurl.co/sweatpantstiffanie
A little about me;

Pernille Hughes is a RomCom author and mum, whose writing has been printed in The Sunday Times, the fabulous SUNLOUNGER summer anthologies and now in her debut novel SWEATPANTS AT TIFFANIE’S from HarperImpulse.

Pernille (pronounced Pernilla) studied Film & Literature at uni and took her first job in advertising,having been lured by the temptation of freebies, but left when Status Quo tickets was as good as it got. After a brief spell marketing Natural History films, she switched to working in Children’s television which for a time meant living in actual Teletubbyland, sharing a photocopier with Laa-Laa.

Now, she lives in actual Buckinghamshire, sharing a photocopier with her husband and their four spawn. While the kids are at school she scoffs cake and writes RomCom stories in order to maintain a shred of sanity.

Pernille Hughes
Where to find me
Twitter; @pernillehughes
Facebook; https://www. facebook.com/ pernillehughesauthor/
Pinterest; www.pinterest.co.uk/ pernillehughes
Bookbub; https://www.bookbub. com/profile/pernille-hughes
My teeny tiny blog; https:// writingfromtheedgeofdistractio n.blogspot.co.uk/

Where to find my book

HarperCollins  www.harpercollins.co.uk/ 9780008307691/sweatpants-at- tiffanies/

Amazon www.hyperurl.co/ sweatpantstiffanie

Itunes https://itunes.apple.com/gb/ book/sweatpants-at-tiffanies/ id1381181550?mt=11&ign-mpt=uo% 3D4

Google Play https://play.google.com/store/ books/details/Pernille_Hughes_ Sweatpants_at_Tiffanie_s_The_ funni?id=jd9SDwAAQBAJ

Kobo https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ ebook/sweatpants-at-tiffanie- s-the-funniest-and-most-feel- good-romantic-comedy-of-2018