Accidental Damage #BlogTour @AliceMay_Author #Extract @emmamitchellfpr

I am thrilled to be joining in with Alice May’s Accidental Damage blog tour! 🙂

Many thanks to Emma Mitchell for inviting me to take part.

Accidental Damage Tour Banner

I have Accidental Damage on my review list. Alice May sent me a beautiful signed paperback copy. I promise to read and review as soon as I can, Alice.

In the meantime I have the pleasure of sharing an extract with you. Mine is extract 2, so do make sure you read extract 1 over at Rae Reads.

Chapter 2: Barbarian

Definition: a member of a primitive or uncivilised people.

The next morning, having fallen into bed incredibly late and then risen insanely early in order to continue painting, I was contentedly immersed in shades of sap green. I became aware of a rhythmic crunching sound coming from behind me. Gradually surfacing from a cocoon of colour, canvas and comforting brushstrokes I turned and focused on the figure looming in the doorway. Systematically spooning milk and cereal from a bowl into his face, my older son was observing me with interest.

He is the third in the series of small people that my Beloved Husband and I had created several years previously. At 16 he is getting surprisingly tall, which might have something to do with the fact that he is always eating.

Currently sporting pyjama bottoms and nothing else, he obviously hasn’t stopped to get dressed before initiating his primary raid on the cereal cupboard this morning. I resisted the urge to tell him to go and put a top on and made a mental note to turn the heating down. It’s mid-January for goodness sake! If people feel comfortable walking round in their scanties in the middle of winter then we obviously have the thermostat set far too high.

Now, it should be remembered that this son of ours is not someone who talks very much. This is potentially related to the fact that he is always mid-way through a snack. (I would like to believe that my numerous nags concerning not talking with your mouth full were inwardly digested, but I rather think not.) It’s probably got more to do with the fact that I created two rather gobby older sisters for him before I got around to the job of manufacturing boys.

Don’t misunderstand me, even though he is known affectionately to the family as Quiet, he can definitely talk. He just doesn’t. Not very often, and when he does it’s generally so brief you can easily miss it if you aren’t concentrating, so I simply looked at him and waited patiently in case any utterances were imminently forthcoming.

He munched thoughtfully and then nodded slowly.

Then he chomped some more, while a kamikaze droplet of milk made its way down his chin and quivered momentarily before launching itself towards the floor.

Yet still there was no obviously impending comment. I got bored of waiting and raised an inquisitive eye at him, effectively inviting him to either speak or naff off. (Two could play at being uncommunicative.)

Getting the hint he finally swallowed and said, ‘You’re painting!’

Such a bright boy!! It’s no wonder that Beloved Husband and I are so proud of him!

Usually, when Quiet finally does express himself I generally think it is worth listening to, as so much thought goes into it. Unlike most of the population he usually only speaks when he has something useful to say.

Still waters run deep and all that.

On this occasion, however, I realised that I might have to lower my expectations, so I nodded and turned back to my canvas.

Good,” he surprised me by continuing. I had thought I’d had my quota of words from him for the day.

Really?” I enquired, deliberately not looking at him in case he stopped interacting altogether, “and why’s that?”

This should be interesting.

Silence! I could almost hear him shrugging his shoulders – a favourite method of communication for most teenage boys.

He sighed heavily and I looked round meeting his eyes. They were sparkling with supressed humour and I could tell that he was calculating whether or not he would get away with his next statement. 

I braced myself. 

He tipped his head to one side and obviously decided to go for it. 

You’re a lot less grumpy when you paint.” He gave me a wicked grin and ambled off to find someone more entertaining to torment with his silent presence.

Cheeky beggar!

I returned to my soothing sap green canvas.

Grumpy, Hah! I’ll show him grumpy!

Green, lovely green. Now what?

Purple? Deep, dark purple! Hmmmm. Yes purple will do nicely.

You will find extract 3 over at Kristin’s Novel Café tomorrow. Don’t miss it!

Accidental Damage cover

If you think the normal school run on a Monday is entertaining you should try doing it from a tent in your back garden surrounded by the jumbled up contents of your entire home. It is vastly more diverting.

Our heroine has survived the sudden collapse of her home – or has she?

Certain events two and a half years ago led her to deliberately destroy an important piece of herself, hiding away all remaining evidence that it ever existed. What happens when she decides to go looking for it?

Does she really deserve to be whole again?

Inspired by a true story, this is an account of one woman’s secret guilt and her journey in search of forgiveness!

Buy a copy…..

About the author…..

Alice May is a multi-tasking mother with four not-so-small children and she is fortunate enough to be married to (probably) the most patient man on the planet. They live in, what used to be, a ramshackle old cottage in the country. Her conservatory is always festooned with wet washing and her kitchen full of cake.

Following many years exhibiting as a mixed media artist, Alice decided that 2016 was the year she would write her first fictional novel. ‘Accidental Damage – Tales from the house that sat down’ simply wouldn’t leave her alone until it was written.

Alice May BW author photoAlice May’s Amazon Author Page

 

The Red Cobra #BlogTour @RSinclairAuthor @Bloodhoundbook #BookReview #bloghounds @sarahhardy681

I am over the moon to be joining in with Rob Sinclair’s The Red Cobra blog tour! 🙂

Many thanks to Sarah Hardy for inviting me to take part.

The Red Cobra Blog tour banner

Well, I didn’t see that coming!

Having read and enjoyed Rob Sinclair’s The Enemy Series and his standalone, Dark Fragments (I will add links to my reviews at the end of this post), I was very much looking forward to reading The Red Cobra! I think I have enjoyed this book even more than the others and they are all 5 star reads. They just keep getting better!

James Ryker is a brilliant character. I loved Carl Logan and I have thoroughly enjoyed catching up with him under his new identity. If you haven’t already read The Enemy Series, then I seriously recommend that you do. I’m sure it’s not necessary in order to enjoy the first in this new series (although there are some references), but you would be missing out if you didn’t.

Ryker has built a new life with Lisa (both with new identities), a quiet life, but a happy one. He hasn’t been working for the JIA for some time, until Winter finds him and asks for his help. The Red Cobra needs to be found and stopped and Ryker can’t resist the challenge. It doesn’t take him long to accept the mission.

Who is The Red Cobra? Will Ryker find her before the body count rises and will he be able to follow his orders?

This is an extremely fast-paced and tense read, full of action (quite violent at times) and suspense. It flicks between the past and present, but flows perfectly. As I said at the beginning, I didn’t see the twists coming and I love the fact that the ending has been left open for Book 2.

There are a fair few unsavoury characters in this story, but I have always found Ryker/Logan to be very likeable, despite almost being like a machine. There’s something quite endearing about him. His skills are awesome and he’s definitely someone I would want on my side. The Red Cobra is a brilliant character also, not a lady I would want to have a disagreement with!

The fight scenes are brilliant! I agree with Sarah at https://bytheletterbookreviews.com/, this would make an excellent film.

Many thanks to Rob Sinclair and Bloodhound Books for my ARC and to Sarah Hardy for inviting me to take part in the blog tour for this brilliant book.

Red Cobra final

Publisher: Bloodhound Books (4th April 2017)

The Red Cobra: an action packed and utterly gripping thriller from the best-selling author of The Enemy Series

Carl Logan dedicated nearly twenty years of his life to the Joint Intelligence Agency. Now living in a secret location, under the new identify of James Ryker, he wants nothing more than to be left alone, the chance to start a new life away from chaos, violence, destruction and deceit.

It’s not long, however, before Ryker’s short-lived idyll is destroyed when he is tracked down by Peter Winter, his ex-boss at the JIA. Winter brings with him news of the murder of a woman in Spain, Kim Walker, whose fingerprints match those of one of Ryker’s former adversaries who’s been missing presumed dead for years – an infamous female assassin known as the Red Cobra.

A cyberattack at the JIA led to the Red Cobra’s profile being compromised, and Winter believes JIA agents may now be at risk too, Ryker included. But Ryker knew the elusive Red Cobra better than anyone, and when he sees the grisly pictures of Kim Walker’s corpse, he has news for Winter – she isn’t the assassin at all …

So just who is the mystery dead woman? And where is the real Red Cobra?

The Red Cobra is a fast-paced thriller filled with twists and turns and intrigue that will appeal to readers of big-hitting thrillers by the likes of Lee Child and David Baldacci, and with echoes in its plotting and breadth of the globe-trotting spy thriller I Am Pilgrim.

Rob Sinclair is the author of the highly-acclaimed and bestselling Enemy series of espionage thrillers featuring Carl Logan. The Red Cobra is the first instalment  in his explosive new James Ryker series. Rob is also the author of the stand-alone thriller, Dark Fragments

Buy a copy…..

About the author…..

Rob Sinclair

Rob is the author of the critically acclaimed and bestselling Enemy series of espionage thrillers featuring embattled agent Carl Logan, with over 200,000 copies sold to date. The Enemy series has received widespread critical acclaim with many reviewers and readers having likened Rob’s work to authors at the very top of the genre, including Lee Child and Vince Flynn.

Rob’s fourth book, the pulsating psychological thriller Dark Fragments, released by Bloodhound Books in November 2016, has been described as ‘clever’ and ‘chilling’ and an ‘expertly crafted’ story, and became an Amazon UK top 50 bestseller soon after its release.

Rob’s forthcoming James Ryker series follows on from the Enemy books, with the first novel, The Red Cobra, being released in April 2017.

Rob began writing in 2009 following a promise to his wife, an avid reader, that he could pen a ‘can’t put down’ thriller. He worked for nearly 13 years for a global accounting firm after graduating from The University of Nottingham in 2002, specialising in forensic fraud investigations at both national and international levels. Rob now writes full time.

Originally from the North East of England, Rob has lived and worked in a number of fast paced cities, including New York, and is now settled in the West Midlands with his wife and young sons.

Links:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rob-Sinclair/e/B00LFXNU76/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1488963366&sr=8-1

https://www.facebook.com/robsinclairauthor/?fref=ts

https://twitter.com/RSinclairAuthor

http://www.robsinclairauthor.com/

Rob Sinclair’s Amazon Author Page

Links to previous posts featuring Rob Sinclair…..

Rise of the Enemy (The Enemy Series Book 2) by Rob Sinclair

Hunt For The Enemy (The Enemy Series Book 3) by Rob Sinclair

Dark Fragments by Rob Sinclair *Review* @RSinclairAuthor @Bloodhoundbook

My 5* reads of 2016…..

Flashback Friday #BookReviews @RSinclairAuthor

 

Q&A with author, Ed Duncan @pigeonbloodred

Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Ed Duncan 🙂

Ed is the self-published author of Pigeon-Blood Red.

ED DUNCAN

For those who don’t know already, could you tell us about yourself and your book please?

I’m a recovering lawyer, having practiced for 37 years at a national law firm headquartered in Cleveland.  My practice area was insurance coverage and I wrote a legal text on the subject entitled Ohio Insurance Coverage, which was published by Thomson Reuters. I wrote annual updates from 2009-2012 when I retired.

Pigeon-Blood Red is an interracial crime novel whose main characters are Rico, a white “killer with a conscience” and Paul Elliott, a black partner at a large law firm, who seemingly have nothing in common but who have more in common than either man realizes.  Rico is sent by his gangland boss from Chicago to Honolulu to retrieve a stolen “pigeon-blood red” ruby necklace worth millions and to “send a message” to the thief.  The chase, however, quickly goes sideways when Rico develops a grudging respect for Paul, who accidentally becomes embroiled in the crime when he comes to the aid of Evelyn, an old flame who happens to be the estranged wife of the thief.  The hardened hit man must decide whether to follow orders and kill Paul and Evelyn or spare them and endanger the life of the woman he loves.

Where did your ideas come from?

The idea for Pigeon-Blood Red occurred to me out of the blue while I was attending a legal seminar in Honolulu in the mid-90’s, and I worked on it off and on for many years before I had time to work on it full time after I retired.  As I pictured the novel, in my mind’s eye the only thing I saw was a beautiful, mysterious woman in danger and on the run.  The rest of the details came into focus much later and changed many times before the novel was finalized. Its original title was Murder in Paradise.

Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know?

Paul is based very, very loosely on me.  He, however, is taller, smarter, more athletic, more attractive, and younger.  We do have the same world view and sense of ethics, and we’re both African American lawyers who are/were partners in large law firms.

How do you pick your characters’ names?

Pigeon-Blood Red is my first novel.  I tried to think of unusual names but ones that fit.  I used my high school year book to come up with a couple of last names.  “Paul” is the name of my best friend in elementary and high school, and “Elliott,” Paul’s last name, is the name of a biology teacher at my high school.  I borrowed “Evelyn” from the tragic lead character in Chinatown, a movie I admire a lot.  “Rico,” the name of the hit man just popped into my head.  His boss’s last name, “Litvak,” is a variation of “Rybak,” the name of someone I worked with in the steel mill in the summers while I was in college.  I also used the phone book as a source for names for some of the minor characters.  Of course, there are fewer and fewer phone books in circulation these days.

Can you share your writing process with us, in a nutshell?

I’m more of a seat of the pants writer than I am an outliner.  That said, before I sit down to write, I have a broad outline in mind of where the story is going.  I commit this to paper and then I let the story take me where it wants within the constraints of the outline, which of course can change.  In Pigeon-Blood Red, for instance, there is a surprise involving one of the characters that I didn’t plan and had never thought about until I wrote the scene.  It wasn’t until that very moment that the idea came to me.  Finally, I don’t keep a rigid writing schedule, so I don’t write every day and I don’t write at the same time of day or for the same length of time or until I write a specific number of pages.

Who are your top five favourite authors?

Dashiell Hammett, Theodore Dreiser, Richard Wright, Ernest Hemingway, and Lee Child.

If you could meet any author, who would it be and what would you ask them?

The author would be Dashiell Hammett and I would ask him how he developed such a great ear for dialogue.

Were you a big reader as a child?

No, I was not a big reader as a child.  I was a late bloomer as a reader, just as I’m a later bloomer as a writer.

When did you start to write?

As a lawyer, I wrote an awful lot.  That included letters to clients evaluating issues and legal briefs filed in court.  And, of course, I wrote the legal treatise I mentioned, Ohio Insurance Coverage.  However, while I have wanted to write fiction since high school, I never got around to it until I started Pigeon-Blood Red in fits and starts in the mid-90’s.

If you could re-write the ending of any book, what would it be and what would you change?

The ending in An American Tragedy is exquisite.  Nevertheless, I think an equally tragic ending would have seen Clyde spared from the electric chair but forever separated from Sondra, who marries someone else.  The pain of separation would have been almost as cruel as death. 

Is there a book you wish you had written?

There are many!  In my genre, Crime, I would say The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett.  In fiction in general I would say The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison.  Both are almost universally praised.

If you could invite any fictional character for coffee, who would it be and where would you take them?

The character would be Jack Reacher and I’d take him to any diner, which is where he would probably prefer to go.  He’s a big coffee drinker and he likes it black.

What are you working on right now?

I’m nearing completion of the sequel to Pigeon-Blood Red, the second in the trilogy.  It’s tentatively entitled The Last Straw.

Do you have a new release due?

There is no due date for the release of my next novel.  Regrettably, my small publisher ceased operations and the next novel probably will be self-published (as is Pigeon-Blood Red currently).  I hope to have it finished in the next few months and in print this summer or fall at the latest.

What do you generally do to celebrate on publication day?

Since I’ve only had one novel published, I haven’t developed a specific routine.  However, since I love to travel, I may start celebrating with a trip to some exotic locale.

How can readers keep in touch with you?

Readers can check out my author page on Amazon (www.amazon.com/author/edduncan) and they can visit my web page (www.eduncan.net).  I’m also on Facebook (www.fb.com/ed.duncan1210), Twitter (@pigeonbloodred), and Pinterest.

Is there anything else you would like us to know?

As I mentioned, I love to travel.  If readers have suggestions for great places to visit, please pass them on!  Also, please watch out for my next novel which I’m pretty confident will be called The Last Straw.  Thanks!

Many thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, Ed.

Pigeon-Blood Red is a fast-paced and suspenseful crime thriller by Ed Duncan.

Duncan says, “It’s always been said that you should write what you know. I am a lawyer – as is a pivotal character in the novel who is being pursued by a hit man – and I’m excited to be able to use my legal training creatively as well as professionally.”

Synopsis

For underworld enforcer Richard “Rico” Sanders, it seemed like an ordinary job. Retrieve his gangster boss’s priceless pigeon-blood red ruby necklace and teach the double-dealing cheat who stole it a lesson. A job like a hundred before it. But the chase quickly goes sideways and takes Rico from the mean streets of Chicago to sunny Honolulu, where the hardened hit man finds himself in uncharted territory when a couple of innocent bystanders are accidentally embroiled in the crime.

As Rico pursues his new targets, the hunter and his prey develop an unlikely respect for one another and Rico is faced with a momentous decision: follow his orders to kill the couple whose courage and character have won his admiration, or refuse and endanger the life of the woman he loves?

Praise for Pigeon-Blood Red

“In a novel with as much action as love, it is sure to be a story that will fulfill the desires of readers of all ages, genders, and areas of interest.” – 4 Stars, Red City Review

“Pigeon Blood Red at 238 pages, is not particularly long as books go, but Duncan packs a lot of story into those pages. Readers in search of a tight, well written, good guy versus bad guy, crime/action/adventure will find Pigeon Blood Red by Ed E. Duncan, an engrossing story that will keep them involved to the end. And like me, they will find themselves eagerly awaiting the next installment.” – Mike Siedschlag

“This charming, classically-told crime thriller is a must for noir fans…refreshingly old-school pulp, inhabited by a familiar cast of gamblers, con men and hustlers found in Dennis Lehane and Elmore Leonard novels” – 5 Stars, Best Thrillers

About Ed Duncan

Ed Duncan is a graduate of Oberlin College and Northwestern University Law School. He was a partner at a national law firm in Cleveland, Ohio for many years. He currently lives outside of Cleveland, OH and is at work on the second installment in the Pigeon-Blood Red trilogy. To learn more, go to http://eduncan.net/

Connect with Ed on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Buy your copy…..

Ed Duncan’s Amazon Author Page

 

The Crying Boy by Jane E. James @jane_e_james @Bloodhoundbook #BlogTour #AuthorInterview #bloghounds

I am delighted to be today’s stop on Jane E. James’ The Crying Boy blog tour! 🙂

The Crying Boy blog tour banner

Q&A with Jane E. James…..

Jane E. James

For those who don’t know already, could you tell us about yourself and your book (s) please?

Hi (waves). I’m Jane E James and I have written two books. The Long Weekend was my first novel and my 2nd, The Crying Boy, a suspense thriller inspired by actual events, was published on 31st March. I like to write atmospheric, suspense-driven mysteries/psychological thrillers with supernatural elements. One reader described The Crying Boy as ‘disturbingly dark’ and I really like that description.

Where did/do you get your ideas from?

The ideas come relatively easily, usually in my dreams or when I’m relaxing in a bath with a glass of wine. I carry a notebook around with me and jot ideas down, otherwise I forget. I always find a solitary walk in the woods or along a windswept coastline inspirational too, especially when problem solving. To date, I have ideas planned out for my next three books.

Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know?

Sometimes they are. For instance, Clayton Shaw from The Crying Boy has a few of my husband’s tendencies (I won’t say which ones) and this helped me warm to the character and bring out his best bits. The more important thing for me is visualising what they look like before I start. Once this is done, I am good to go.

How do you pick your character’s names?

Usually I’ll mix and match first and last names I just happen to like but if I can’t find a natural fit, I’ll Google a list of names and trawl through until I find one that feels right. I will change a character’s name later on, if I have to, to make him/her feel more authentic in my mind.

Can you share your writing process with us, in a nutshell?

I still work full time so I have to fit it in around my home life, hubby and dog. Usually, Saturday is my full-on writing day, but I also write when I can – in my lunch hour at work, in the evenings instead of watching TV or skipping pub lunches out on a Sunday.

Who are your top 5 favourite authors?

Stephen King, Susan Hill, Daphne Du Maurier, Jane Austen and The Bronte’s (not in any order).

If you could meet any author, who would it be and what would you ask them?

Daphne Du Maurier. I’d like to have tea with her on the lawn in front of the actual house that was Manderley in Rebecca and ask her why somebody so talented was always sad and melancholy.

Were you a big reader as a child?

Yes, I always head my head in a book even when I was eating, which used to infuriate my family. Because I was mad on ponies, I read a lot of Jill Has Two Ponies, The Brumby Series, Black Beauty and The Black Stallion – that sort of thing but that changed when I picked up The Secret Garden and The Wolves of Willoughby Chase. After that my reading took on a much darker tone.

When did you start to write?

I’ve been scribbling away most of my life but took it up seriously probably around fifteen years ago when I went back to night school in London and did a diploma in screenwriting. I tried for years to break into writing TV drama and the BBC were very encouraging about my writing but I never got optioned. I also went down the route of trying to get an agent but nobody was really interested. Looking back, I can understand why as I wasn’t anywhere near ready at that stage.

If you could re-write the ending to any book what would it be and what would you change?

Dianne Setterfield’s The Thirteenth Tale. I loved the book and the TV adaptation but the ending always baffled me.

Is there a book you wish you had written?

Oh gosh. So many, but would have to be Wuthering Heights – so dark, troubled and atmospheric.

If you could invite any fictional character for coffee who would it be and where would you take them?

Mr Darcy, except we wouldn’t be having coffee – we’d be drinking lots of champagne in Pemberley’s drawing room, looking out across the big lake. He would of course admire my ‘very fine eyes’ and fall desperately in love with me.

What are you working on right now?

I’m about to get stuck into my third novel, which is another mystery/psychological thriller with a female lead. This one is called The Butcher’s Daughter. It’s probably my scariest and creepiest to date!

Do you have a new release do?

Unfortunately not, I still work full time so I’m not able to get books out very quickly. I anticipate the next one should be ready 18 months from now.

What do you generally do to celebrate on publication day?

Apart from stress and worry that I’ve let my publisher and readers down? Usually, I like to flip through the pages of my shiny new paperback, which has my name on it (I can never get over that bit) and have a couple of relaxing glasses of bubbly.

How can readers keep in touch with you?

I love connecting with readers and other authors and those wanting to, can catch up with me on social media. I’m on Twitter and Facebook. Alternately, they can pop over to my website www.janeejames.com and sign up to my newsletter for regular updates.

Is there anything else you would like us to know?

I’m terrible at keeping secrets, cry easily and I’m rather partial to Monster Munch and fizzy sweets!

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions, Jane 🙂

The Crying Boy by [James, Jane E.]

Publisher: Bloodhound Books (31st March 2017)

The Crying Boy: a chilling new thriller

Clayton and Avril Shaw have lost their little boy and are still grieving when they move into Swallow’s Nest on the Yorkshire moors.

In their new house Avril discovers a painting and is intrigued by the history surrounding it. When she learns that the boy in the painting was deaf, like her dead son, she starts to try and communicate with his ghost.

Meanwhile, Clayton finds himself entangled in an equally undesirable friendship with a retired fire chief who knows more about the painting than he is prepared to let on.

Is The Crying Boy painting cursed and can numerous house fires be linked to it?

Struggling with their unstable marriage, the couple find themselves in further danger as an increasingly disturbing bond develops between Avril and The Crying Boy.

In a twist of events Avril’s irrational behaviour is brought to a dramatic halt when she discovers she is pregnant. With her affections once again restored for Clayton, she decides to dispose of the sinister portrait. But the cast off painting wants revenge and its anger towards Avril’s unborn child might just prove immeasurable.

Can Avril and Clayton live happily ever after or does The Crying Boy have other plans?

Buy your copy…..

Jane E. James’ Amazon Author Page

Enjoy!

#FlashbackFriday with Alison Lingwood @SharonSant @robewinguk @VRonan

Hiya! Welcome to my #FlashbackFriday feature 🙂

Here’s a little look back at what I was reading this time last year…..

https://chataboutbooks.wordpress.com/2016/04/04/the-bridport-dagger-by-alison-lingwood/

https://chataboutbooks.wordpress.com/2016/04/05/sky-song-the-sky-song-trilogy-book-1-by-sharon-sant/

https://chataboutbooks.wordpress.com/2016/04/15/the-last-of-us-by-rob-ewing/

 

https://chataboutbooks.wordpress.com/2016/04/23/the-last-days-of-summer-by-vanessa-ronan/

Have you read any of the above?

What were you reading this time last year?

If you do a #FlashbackFriday post please do share your link with me.

What are you reading right now?

The Absence of Wings by Mark Stewart @pendragonmist

I have the pleasure of sharing a guest post from Mark Stewart with you all today…..

The short story as literary ark – a safe haven for fictional animals

I’ve enjoyed and admired the stories of Mark Stewart that I have read: they strike me as fine bonsai pieces, strong in their structure and dense in their grain, full of surprising drama.”  Robert Macfarlane (Author of “The Wild Places”, and “Landmarks”)

Not long ago we adopted a young Dutch rabbit as a companion to our existing lop-eared bunny, thus giving a home to another creature in need. “So what?” many people might ask? “It’s only a rabbit.” And, after all, rabbits (amongst the most defenceless of all animals) have been trapped, shot, skinned and eaten by humans for centuries.

True enough, it is only a rabbit. But, at the very least, and among many other similarities, it is also a fellow mammal. It therefore has a central nervous system much like our own. This in turn means it can feel pain. And as anyone who has ever kept a rabbit will know, these sensitive animals can experience familiar emotions such as fear and anxiety. They also make it very clear when they are happy!

This small companion was the inspiration for my first short story “A Summer Sky.” I owe a huge creative debt to this one particular member of the Leporidae family; so much so that my first collection of published stories was dedicated, in part at least, to an animal which my now adult son refers to as his little brother.

The human-centric notion that small animals simply don’t count is not only a failure of ethical reasoning (for surely all life counts); it also paves the way for saying that no animal is worthy of humane treatment. Big or small, all creatures matter. The alternative is a world in which thoughtless cruelty is commonplace, a world in which animals are kept in cages and used for experimentation and vivisection, or put on display for “entertainment.” Or simply neglected and left to die in isolation. A world in which animals are farmed under the most appalling conditions. A world in fact identical to our own. These animals have featured in several of my short stories including “The Crate”, “The Water Meadow” and “A Shaft of Sunlight.” Those stories were hard to write and I have been told that they are hard to read from an emotional point of view. Just as there is nowhere for a writer to hide on the printed page, so too there is nowhere for a reader to retreat to if the theme of a story is hard to bear. I challenge anyone to read these stories without shedding a tear.

So it matters whether a rabbit has a hutch and a run to live and play in, and that it enjoys a social environment with others of the same species. Just as it matters that the mega-fauna – the creatures that are edging ever closer to extinction, such as the elephant and the rhino – have similar freedoms and, dare one say, rights. Take away those freedoms and rights and animals simply become commodities, units to be bought and sold and profited from. And how can such profiteering not make the world a darker, colder place? The desperate plight of the elephant and the rhino have featured in two more of my stories, “The Winnowing” and “The Watering Hole.”

On a recent business trip undertaken by rail I found myself staring at the countryside from a train window, looking at empty fields and wondering where all the animals had gone. I realised with a shudder that the majority were being kept in captivity away from human eyes, in industrialised sheds and barns where they were living an existence defined by captivity, pain and an early death. And all this was being done in my name as a member of a modern consumer society, as someone who shops at a supermarket for meat, milk and eggs. It was not long after this that I became a vegan. I will never again put meat on my fork.

Too often the last thing an animal sees is a human being in a white coat or a worker on a farm or in an abattoir. What must they think of us, their captors and abusers? One day they may look at us without fear in their eyes, without flinching from us. But that day can only come when all the cages are empty and all the abattoirs are closed. On a world which understands the value of all animals, big and small.

***

Mark Stewart is the author of two collections of short stories designed to highlight the plight of captive, endangered and mistreated animals. His first collection (“The Screaming Planet”) can be found online here:

http://markdestewart.wixsite.com/thescreamingplanet

The second collection (“The Absence of Wings”), which has consistently attracted five star reviews, is available on Amazon.

A third collection of short stories (“The Fire Trees”) is due out in June 2017.

Mark can be followed on Twitter @pendragonmist

The Absence Of Wings

Publisher: Independently published (23rd January 2017)

“The Absence of Wings” is a collection of short stories intended to show the world through the eyes of some of the Earth’s most endangered and persecuted animals. The collection is an ark of sorts, offering a literary refuge for creatures that may one day exist only in story books, fables and myths. Here you will find, among other stories: • A mariner snatched from the deck of his ship by a sea wraith • The lament of a whale dragged onto the killing deck of a harpoon ship • A caged polar bear whose only taste of freedom comes from a racial memory of the arctic tundra • A shark that can swim into the sleeping minds of human beings • And a dolphin whose only chance of returning to open water lies in the movement of the tides on one particular night of the year These are stories that will change the way you look at the natural world. “I’ve enjoyed and admired the stories of Mark Stewart that I have read: they strike me as fine bonsai pieces, strong in their structure and dense in their grain, full of surprising drama.” Robert Macfarlane (Author of “The Wild Places”, and “Landmarks”)

Buy your copy…..

About the author…..

Mark Stewart

Mark Stewart was born in 1962 in London. He is the author of two collections of short stories: “The Screaming Planet” and “The Absence of Wings.”

The seven stories which comprise “The Screaming Planet” are available online here:

http://markdestewart.wixsite.com/thescreamingplanet

He also co-authored and co-edited the biography “Arthur C. Clarke – A Life Remembered.”

In 2014 he won the Sir Patrick Moore Medal for services to the British Interplanetary Society where he founded and edited the e-magazine, “Odyssey”, for two and a half years.

His articles and essays have been published in “Spaceflight”, “Astronomy Now”, “Foundation” magazine, and the journal of the British Astronomical Association.

He now lives in the Surrey hills; members of his non-human family include rabbits, horses, foxes and hedgehogs.

“I’ve enjoyed and admired the stories of Mark Stewart that I have read: they strike me as fine bonsai pieces, strong in their structure and dense in their grain, full of surprising drama.”
Robert Macfarlane
(Author of “The Wild Places”, and “Landmarks”)

“The Infinitesimals” – “A curious, interesting, strange, raging and intense story. I liked particularly the notion of reflection and connection between the miniscule and the galactic, and the sense that even the most mundane or ‘common’ things can reflect far more than we may realise.”
Rob Cowen
(Author of “Common Ground”)

“Mark Stewart looks at the world and our place in it from unusual standpoints. His deeply moving stories, at once poetic and analytic, take the reader on a reflective journey through space and time, making us step back from the world we think we know and see it afresh through the unclouded eyes of an outsider. He writes beautifully and elegiacally, in wonder at what we humans have been given by nature, and in sorrow for how recklessly we gamble our fragile inheritance.”
Ronald Wright
(Author of “A Scientific Romance” and “A Short History of Progress”)

“The Dreaming Spires” – “To be truthful, I found it almost impossible to read, it is so poignant.”
Sir David Attenborough

Mark Stewart’s Amazon Author Page

 

Undercurrent by J. A. Baker @thewriterjude @Bloodhoundbook #BlogTour #AuthorInterview #bloghounds

I have the pleasure of joining in with J. A. Baker’s Undercurrent blog tour today! 🙂

Undercurrent blog tour banner

Q&A with J. A. Baker…..

J.A. Baker

(Answers received on 13/03/17)

For those who don’t know already, could you tell us about yourself and your book(s) please?

Absolutely! I live in the north east of England with my husband and have four grown up children and one grandchild.

I have always had a passion for reading and language. As a child my parents used to take me and my brother and sister to the library on a weekend and I loved it there. I did a creative writing course when my children were much younger and managed to get a few articles published in various magazines but never attempted a novel due to time constraints. Instead I did a diploma with The Open University which eventually led onto an MA in Education & Applied Linguistics.

Four years ago we moved house next to a river which inspired me to write my debut novel, Undercurrent. I love reading all genres of books but my favourites are psychological thrillers and I thought I would have a go at writing one myself using the river as a theme. I was fascinated by the fact that during the day, the water can look so serene and calming but once the sun sets, it takes on a sinister air – black and eerie with no light pollution. Not a place you would want to be at night.

Undercurrent is about Phoebe and Martyn who move to a large house next to a river hoping to lead a quiet existence. Events from Phoebe’s childhood begin to surface when she meets a neighbour who resembles her sister. Despite trying to lead a normal life, things start to spiral out of control leaving Phoebe struggling to cope. Bit by bit her life slowly begins to unravel with devastating consequences.

I was delighted to have my book accepted by Bloodhound Publishers in December and can now officially call myself an author!

Where did/do you get your ideas from?

As you know Undercurrent was inspired by the view from my back garden but the idea for my next book which I’m currently working on, came from my father’s hard work whilst researching our family tree. He discovered that our ancestors were coastguards posted to the north east coast from Ireland c.1830. We visited the coastguard cottages which are still standing on a cliff overlooking The North Sea and I found the whole thing fascinating, so much so that it seemed like the perfect location for my next book. I am a lover of scene setting and think that a good storm and rough seas are the perfect backdrop for a good thriller!

Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know?

Not really as they would probably recognise themselves and never forgive me! I do love to people watch and am more inclined to use characteristics from strangers. I sometimes have actors in mind when I’m describing a character and will often think about what they would say or how they would react in certain situations.

How do you pick your characters names?

I always try to steer clear of using family and friends’ names. Sometimes I browse the internet as you can often find some really unusual ones that you wouldn’t ordinarily think of. Other times, the name just comes to me, especially if I have a clear idea of what the character looks like and what their qualities are. In my current book, the names of the two main characters came to me straightaway and I’ve never had any inkling to change them.

Can you share your writing process with us, in a nutshell?

Ooh that’s an easy one to answer! I write on an evening and at the weekend as I work full time during the day in a primary school. I write as much as I can during the school holidays as well. I’d love to say I carry a notebook with me and have time to sit on park benches jotting down my ideas but unfortunately that’s not the case. What I have discovered is that the best ideas always seem to come at night when I’m trying to sleep so I do have a notebook in the kitchen to write down anything that I can remember. I do this while I’m eating breakfast at 6am!

Who are your top 5 favourite authors?

Yikes! So many to choose from. It goes without saying that I think all the Bloodhound Books authors are awesome and I just wish I had enough time to read all their books. Bloodhound authors aside, my top 5 favourite authors are probably Sabine Durrant, Alex Marwood, Saskia Sarginson, Penny Hancock and JoJo Moyes because I cried while reading her books which is not like me at all!

If you could meet any author, who would it be and what would you ask them?

It would probably be Stephen King to ask him how he first started writing horror and where all his ideas came from.

Were you a big reader as a child?

Definitely. When other kids were playing out I was inside with my nose stuck in a book. Some of my earliest memories are of visiting the library. My friend and I still laugh at the fact that aged 8 or 9 years of age, we considered a trip to the library to be a perfect day out.

When did you start to write?

I always loved writing stories as a child but as I got older I stopped as life simply got in the way. I stared writing again in earnest a few years ago. I wrote a short novel before Undercurrent but it wasn’t anything worthy of publication.

If you could re-write the ending to any book what would it be and what would you change?

Such tricky questions! I read Tideline by Penny Hancock and the ending to that book had such a huge impact on me as it was left up to the reader to decide whether or not the victim actually lived or died at the end. I was desperate for him to live!

Is there a book you wish you had written?

Tideline by Penny Hancock. Then I would find out if he lived or not.

If you could invite any fictional character for coffee who would it be and where would you take them?

I would take Jack Torrance from The Shining out for coffee. We would go to a small, friendly cafe away from any mountains and I would persuade him to turn down the job in that big, remote hotel…

What are you working on right now?

My second novel set up in the coast guards cottage next to The North Sea. No title as yet but I’m working on it!

Do you have a new release due?

Undercurrent is due out on 28th March and I’m hoping to complete my second novel by the summer.

What do you generally do to celebrate on publication day?

This is my first book so it will be an exciting day for me. However, I will actually be at work in a classroom with 36 children but will have my phone handy to keep checking on messages and notifications.

When I get home, I might just manage a cheeky glass of wine with my husband to celebrate.

How can readers keep in touch with you?

The can follow me on Twitter @thewriterjude or on Facebook if they search for J A Baker Author

I also have a brand spanking new website which I’m really excited about! Look me up on www.jabakerauthor.com There is a contact page where readers can email me with questions or just generally keep in touch. I look forward to hearing from all you amazing readers out there!

Is there anything else you would like us to know?

I hope to write many more novels in the near future so watch out for them being released. I’m in this writing game for the long haul….

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Judith 🙂

Undercurrent by [Baker, J.A.]

Publisher: Bloodhound Books (28th March 2017)

An unmissable new psychological thriller

Phoebe and her disabled husband, Martyn, move into a new house in a village on the edge of County Durham. They plan to lead a quiet existence, a set up that suits them both.

Then Anna, who lives over the road and is bored of spending her days alone, seeks friendship with Phoebe and events take a dark turn.

Phoebe has secrets and is haunted by her past and Anna’s arrival in her life may prove to be the catalyst for her undoing.

What is Phoebe hiding and why are she and her husband so reclusive?

When Anna gets caught in a storm and is rescued by Phoebe the truth becomes apparent and Anna is thrown into danger.

Is there a difference between madness and evil?

Buy your copy…..

J. A. Baker’s Amazon Author Page

Enjoy!

All I Ever Wanted @lucy_dillon @HodderBooks #BookReview

All I Ever Wanted by [Dillon, Lucy]

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (1st December 2016)

Description…..

Caitlin’s life is a mess. Her marriage to a man everyone else thinks is perfect has collapsed, along with her self-esteem, and breaking free seems the only option.

Nancy, her four-year-old daughter, used to talk all the time; in the car, at nursery, to her brother Joel. Then her parents split up. Her daddy moves out. And Nancy stops speaking.

Nancy’s Auntie Eva, recently widowed and feeling alone, apart from the companionship of two bewildered pugs, is facing a future without her husband or the dreams she gave up for him.

But when Eva agrees to host her niece and nephew once a fortnight, Caitlin and Eva are made to face the different truths about their marriages – and about what they both really want . . .

My review…..

Well, what a beautiful ending to an emotional, thought provoking and, at times, amusing story.

Caitlin is married to Patrick and they have two children, 10 year old Joel and 4 year old Nancy. Both are happy, outgoing children, but something changes in Nancy when Caitlin and Patrick hit a rough patch in their marriage and decide to separate. Patrick had been offered a job miles away, Caitlin didn’t want to move from the comfort of the home her Nana left to her, but Patrick goes anyway. They feel like they’re making each other miserable, but don’t really know why, so it seems like the only option, but they do their best to keep things amicable.

When Nancy stops talking, no-one knows why, other than the obvious distress of Patrick moving out, but it soon becomes more than that and it terrifies them both. Caitlin is desperate to have her loud, bubbly little girl back, but has no idea how to make that happen.

When the children start to spend time at Auntie Eva’s house, Nancy soon forms a special bond with her two pugs, Bumble and Bee. I think Bumble and Bee were my favourite characters, but I did really warm to Eva. Eva is almost 45 and already a widow, having been married to an older man, famous actor Mick, for 7 years. She has no children of her own and initially feels awkward with these little people in her home, but she soon bonds with them and they develop a lovely relationship.

As Caitlin and Patrick struggle to agree to terms of their divorce at the same time as trying to figure out what’s wrong with Nancy they’re faced with another trauma and it seems their only hope is Nancy and Bumble.

This is a very easy read, in the sense that it is beautifully written, although it does deal with sensitive subjects. It highlights how much children can be affected by adult relationships however much you try to shield them and also how younger children can take things completely literally.

It’s a very believable story of family, love, marriage, marital problems, parenthood and how damaging a lack of communication can be, but also how it’s never too late and there can always be a happy ending. It’s full of likeable and very real characters who I found myself really caring about (Alex was another of my favourite characters) and wishing for that happy ending for them all.

Many thanks to the author and publisher for approving my request on Netgalley.

 

When We Danced At The End Of The Pier by @SandyTaylorAuth @bookouture #BlogTour #BookReview

I am thrilled to be joining in with Sandy Taylor’s When We Danced At The End Of The Pier blog tour! 🙂

When-we-Danced---Blog-Tour.jpeg

My review…..

When We Danced At The End Of The Pier is a beautiful story, set before and during the second world war.

I bloody loved Maureen (read it and you’ll understand!) and her little sister Brenda. They have a relatively happy early childhood, in Brighton, with loving parents. They don’t have much money, but their home is full of love. They spend a lot of time with their Dad, who they love dearly despite not really understanding him or why he can’t work. He had served in the first world war and had never been the same since. His love for his daughter’s was heart-warming, but his struggles heart-breaking. Their Mum worked, cleaning the homes of the rich, to pay the rent and put food on the table.

It was lovely to read of a time before the distractions of the internet and social media, etc. Maureen and her family didn’t have a lot, but they made the best of everything and truly cherished each other and their friends.

Maureen is in love with Jack, from the very first time she saw him over her garden fence. She knows she will marry him one day and as she grows up she becomes more and more convinced that they are destined to be together. Jack is going to be a doctor and she can’t wait to be a doctor’s wife. They spend most days together, along with their best friends Monica and Nelson. Awwww, I loved Nelson. He’s such a sweet character. They are happy with each others company.

When World War 2 breaks out it changes everyone’s lives forever. I can only imagine living through such a frightening and uncertain time.

I don’t want to say much more for fear of spoiling it for anyone, but I was totally immersed in Maureen’s story as she grows into a young woman. She made me laugh out loud at times and I have had a tear in my eye on more than one occasion.

This story is full of love, family, true friendship, grief and finding happiness after heart-break. I have loved every page!

Many thanks, as always, to Bookouture for my auto-approval status on Netgalley and to Kim Nash for inviting to be a part of the blog tour for this wonderful book.

When-We-Danced-at-the-End-of-the-Pier-Kindle.jpeg

Publisher: Bookouture (31st March 2017)

Brighton 1930: Maureen O’Connell is a carefree girl, but her family is on the brink of tragedy, war is looming and life will never be the same again.

Jack and Nelson have always been dear friends to Maureen. Despite their different backgrounds, they’ve seen each other through thick and thin.

As Maureen blossoms from a little girl into a young woman, the candle she’s always held for Jack burns bright. But just as she’s found love, war wrenches them apart. The man she cherishes with all her heart is leaving.

When the bombs start to fall, Maureen and her family find themselves living in the most dangerous of times. With Jack no longer by her side and Nelson at war, Maureen has never felt more alone. Can she look to a brighter future? And will she find the true happiness she’s dreamt of?

An utterly gripping and heart-wrenching story about the enduring power of love, hope and friendship during the darkest of days. Perfect for fans of Pam Jenoff, Nadine Dorries and Diney Costeloe.

US

🇺🇸 http://amzn.to/2hU0mp2

About the author…..

Sandy Taylor grew up on a council estate near Brighton. There were no books in the house, so Sandy’s love of the written word was nurtured in the little local library. Leaving school at fifteen, Sandy worked in a series of factories before landing a job at Butlins in Minehead. This career change led her to becoming a singer, a stand up comic and eventually a playwright and novelist.

https://www.facebook.com/SandyTaylorAuthor

Sandy Taylor

Sandy Taylor’s Amazon Author Page

 

March wrap up…..

Hiya!

I hope you have had a lovely March. What have you been up to?

Here’s what’s been happening on Chat About Books in case you’ve missed anything…..

Added to my TBR list, February 2017…..

How To Mend A Broken Heart by Anna Mansell @AnnaMansell @bookouture #BlogTour #AuthorInterview

Because I Was Lonely by Hayley Mitchell @HayleyMitchellc @RedDoorBooks #BlogTour #BookReview

The Beachside Sweet Shop by Karen Clarke @karenclarke123 @bookouture #BlogTour #AuthorInterview

Flashback Friday with @lucydawsonbooks @TAWilliamsBooks @monicajames81 @TanyaBullock15 @Marcie_Steele

Anglesey Blue by Dylan H Jones @tudormanx @Bloodhoundbook #BlogTour #Extract #bloghounds

The Abattoir of Dreams by Mark Tilbury @MTilburyAuthor @Bloodhoundbook #BlogTour #BookReview #AuthorInterview

The Song Of The Stork by Stephan Collishaw @scollishaw @Legend_Press #BlogTour **Q&A**

6×6 Reading Café #FreeEvent @SoTLibraries with @Jancoledwards @MishaHerwin

Evie’s Year of Taking Chances by Christie Barlow @ChristieJBarlow @bookouture #BlogTour #BookReview

The Mercury Travel Club by @Helen_Bridgett @RedDoorBooks #BlogTour #BookReview

The Forgotten by Linda S Prather @jacodypress @Bloodhoundbook #BlogTour #Extract #bloghounds

Rome Is Where The Heart Is by Tilly Tennant @TillyTenWriter @bookouture #BlogTour #BookReview

Keep You Near by Robin Roughley @RobRoughley @Bloodhoundbook #BlogTour #Extract #bloghounds

There’s Something About Cornwall by Daisy James @daisyjamesbooks @HQDigitalUK #NewRelease #AuthorInterview

The Place That Never Existed by Jim Ody @Jim_Ody_Author @emmamitchellfpr #BlogTour #GuestPost

#AfterShesGone by Maggie James @mjamesfiction @TAsTPublicity #BlogTour #BookReview

Q&A with author, Sheryl Browne @SherylBrowne @ChocLituk #AuthorInterview

#RapidFireBookTag

Q&A with author, Christie Barlow @ChristieJBarlow @bookouture #AuthorInterview

Q&A with author, Colleen Coleman @CollColemanAuth @bookouture #BlogTour #AuthorInterview

Mystery at Maplemead Castle by Kitty French @KFrenchBooks @bookouture #BlogTour #BookReview

Dangerous To Know by Anne Buist @anneebuist @Legend_Press #BlogTour #AuthorInterview

More Faces by Simon Maltman @simonmaltman @Solsticepublish #NewRelease #ShortStories

Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead by Owen Mullen @OwenMullen6 @Bloodhoundbook #BlogTour #Extract #bloghounds

Vengeance by Roger A Price @RAPriceAuthor @EndeavourPress @emmamitchellfpr #BlogTour #AuthorInterview

Q&A with author, Louise Walters @LouiseWalters12 @matadorbooks

A Manor In Cornwall by Laura Briggs @PaperDollWrites #PublicationDay #BlogBlitz