Blakemort – It’s Live!

 

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Today’s the day! Blakemort – A Psychic Surveys Christmas Novella – hits the shelves in Amazon as an ebook and paperback. Already it’s garnered great reviews from advance readers, being described as ‘powerful’, ‘thought-provoking’ and ‘downright scary’! What more could my little writer’s heart wish for?

So what’s it all about? Well, it’s the second of my Psychic Surveys Christmas novellas – both are standalone but feed into the main series. The first novella – Eve – focussed on Theo and Ness (two of Ruby’s colleagues in the main books) working on a case together before they’ve even met Ruby or joined Psychic Surveys. Blakemort focusses on Corinna, the youngest of the Psychic Surveys team and the five years she spent at Blakemort as a child – a house with a very disturbing history.

As with all my books, it’s inspired by true hauntings. In this case the very spooky Wymering Manor in Portsmouth, which I hope to visit soon for a personal tour. Sightings include a lady in a violet dress, a choir of nuns and the sound of children crying and phantom horses galloping away at night. But that’s Wymering Manor, at Blakemort it gets decidedly more sinister…

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Here’s the blurb for it and a few teasers to whet your appetite, plus the links for Blakemort and also for Eve, which is on sale on Amazon for 99p at the moment (ebook). For a Christmas treat with a difference, close the curtains, light the fire and get stuck in!

“That house, that damned house. Will it ever stop haunting me?”

After her parents’ divorce, five-year old Corinna Greer moves into Blakemort with her mother and brother. Set on the edge of the village of Whitesmith, the only thing attractive about it is the rent. A ‘sensitive’, Corinna is aware from the start that something is wrong with the house. Very wrong.

Christmas is coming but at Blakemort that’s not something to get excited about. A house that sits and broods, that calculates and considers, it’s then that it lashes out – the attacks endured over five years becoming worse. There are also the spirits, some willing residents, others not. Amongst them a boy, a beautiful, spiteful boy…

Who are they? What do they want? And is Corinna right when she suspects it’s not just the dead the house traps but the living too?

Amazon Links – Blakemort

UK http://tinyurl.com/jhj9lqc

UK http://tinyurl.com/z5o5d5l

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Amazon Links – Eve

UK http://tinyurl.com/hk9cmay

US http://tinyurl.com/ztx23x7

Find me on Social Media

Facebook Author Page: http://tinyurl.com/p9yggq9

Twitter: https://twitter.com/shani_struthers

Blog: https://shanisite.wordpress.com

Goodreads: http://tinyurl.com/mq25mav

Website: http://www.shanistruthers.com

Newsletter Link: http://eepurl.com/beoHLv

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Jennifer Wilson and Kindred Spirits!

Having not utilised ye old blog for a while, I’ve got three interviews lined up – the first with the very lovely Jennifer C Wilson, author of Kindred Spirits – Tower of London, which is on sale this week on Amazon at 99p. Here she tells us all about the book, what inspired her to write it and her fascination with the aforementioned Tower.

Grab a cuppa, have a read and then go and then bag yourselves a bargain (the link is at the bottom of the article). Take it away, Jennifer…

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Hi, Shani, and happy Halloween! Those are definitely words I never thought I’d find myself saying… I’ve never particularly liked Halloween. I’ve never really liked the idea of ghosts. So, the notion of my debut novel being a ghost story (or a story about ghosts, at least), is, frankly, ridiculous. I’m such a wimp that I don’t even like watching Midsomer Murders in the dark…

But there you go. Having had the idea that if the ghosts of Richard III and Anne Boleyn were in the same place, they’d have a lot in common, it kept nagging away at me, especially thinking about where they would be. The Tower of London seemed the most logical choice, given that Anne was executed and buried there, and it’s where the Princes in the Tower also met their deaths, the two people who probably occupied Richard’s mind the most during his reign. I had been trying to write about Richard for so long, and decided to just go with it – easily the best decision I ever made!

TowerOfLondon.jpgAnd when you start looking into who could be hanging about the place, the research soon becomes quite addictive. I’ve had to stop reading about the Tower, because I just kept finding more and more people who could legitimately be haunting the place, and wishing I’d come across them two years ago. The ‘cast list’ I went for in the end wasn’t bad mind, and certainly not lacking in star quality. As the blurb says: A King, three Queens, and plenty of other nobles for them to spar with. And when two of those Queens are probably Henry’s two most famous, Katherine Howard and Anne Boleyn, there’s plenty of sparks to fly.

Having first visited the Tower on a bleak February morning, and first seeing it through a blizzard, the idea that spirits still inhabit the place didn’t need much imagination. Even during my next visit, in glorious Bank Holiday sunshine, there are plenty of nooks and crannies, still open to the public but off the more beaten track, where you can get a real sense of the Tower’s history, and its place in the story of Britain. Built so soon after the Conquest, there cannot be a monarch who hasn’t visited. If walls could talk, you would certainly need earplugs… I wouldn’t say I felt uneasy there, but some of the rooms, such as where prisoners had carved their names into walls (one even, according to tradition, surviving from George Boleyn, almost certainly, as with his sister and the other men, innocent of the crimes he was charged with) have a definite ‘atmosphere’, especially when you’re in there alone. For the bare rooms the prisoners would have been kept in, there isn’t much of a difference today, and certainly the lower rooms you can access still feel claustrophobic. I wouldn’t have wanted to be left there.

Definitely enough to spark the imagination, and the idea did indeed keep me out of trouble during NaNoWriMo 2013.

For a limited time only, until the end of Halloween, Kindred Spirits: Tower of London is just 99p/c. I hope you enjoy reading it!

Kindred Spirits: Tower of London

A King, three Queens, a handful of nobles and a host of former courtiers…
In the Tower of London, the dead outnumber the living, with the likes of Tudor Queens Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard rubbing shoulders with one man who has made his way back from his place of death at Bosworth Field to discover the truth about the disappearance of his famous nephews.
Amidst the chaos of daily life, with political and personal tensions running high, Richard III takes control, as each ghostly resident looks for their own peace in the former palace – where privacy was always a limited luxury.
With so many characters haunting the Tower of London, will they all find the calm they crave?

About Jennifer

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Jennifer is a marine biologist by training, who developed an equal passion for history whilst stalking Mary, Queen of Scots of childhood holidays (she has since moved on to Richard III). She completed her BSc and MSc at the University of Hull, and has worked as a marine environmental consultant since graduating.
Enrolling on an adult education workshop on her return to the north-east reignited Jennifer’s pastime of creative writing, and she has been filling notebooks ever since. In 2014, Jennifer won the Story Tyne short story competition, and also continues to work on developing her poetic voice, reading at a number of events, and with several pieces available online. Her debut novel Kindred Spirits: Tower of London was published by Crooked Cat Publishing in October 2015.

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/inkjunkie1984

Blog: https://jennifercwilsonwriter.wordpress.com/

Kindred Spirits: Tower of London, Amazon link: http://authl.it/B016TRKU2A

 

An Interview with Mark Tilbury

It is my absolute pleasure to be hosting Mark Tilbury on my blog – I sent him a few questions and he’s very kindly answered them. Mark is the author of The Revelation Room and The Eyes of the Accused, I read the first almost in one sitting it’s that gripping (it normally takes me ages to read a book!) The second is still a delight to come but I know I’m going to enjoy it because Mark’s writing style is fluent and edge of the seat, with shades of my favourite author of all-time, Stephen King. Grab a coffee and have a read about what inspires him and the writing process. Take it away, Mark…

The-Revelation-Room-Complete-200x300.jpgTell us about the book(s) you’ve written. What was the first seed of an idea you had for your book? How did it develop?

The idea behind the Ben Whittle investigation books was to try to create a character that was not your typical sort of private investigator. He was thrown into the role by the kidnap of his father by a religious cult. Ben just worked in the office at Whittle Investigations. A shy, insecure boy with a traumatic past. I didn’t want the usual super sleuth who cuts his way through a minefield of clues to slay the dragon at the end. I wanted to create something much more subtle than that. To show that the ordinary guy, who is full of self-doubt and lacking in confidence, can also overcome the odds and stand up to evil.

How would you describe your writing process? Do you outline or are you (like me) a ‘write the first line and let’s see where it goes’ type of person?

I used to write and see where it took me. I quite liked the excitement of discovery, finding hidden trails and seeing what obstacles lie in wait for my main character. Unfortunately, that lead to too many blind alleys, and it seemed to take longer to unravel the mistakes than it did to sit down and write a proper plan. So for my third novel, which should be out later this year, I planned it meticulously. I know I’m probably tempting fate, but it seemed to go without a hitch. First draft written in ten weeks. It’s also a departure from the first two books. More of a supernatural thriller. Very dark and emotional. Somewhere I really want to explore in future books.

How has writing books changed you?

I’ve become a lot more focused on the job in hand. I plan more than I used to, although the germ of a novel still tends to spring from one of the main characters (usually the bad guy) speaking to me in my head. I’m also a lot more aware of what works and what doesn’t. It’s like a huge learning curve. Also, feedback helps enormously, and I’ve learnt so much from people’s comments, both good and bad. Overall, I’m much more aware of the need to respect the art of writing and give my very best when I write if I want to share it with other people.

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What do you keep in mind as you write? An overarching question, a theme, the last line of the book?

The characters. Making sure that they act, speak and behave consistently, and that the main character follows the character arc I have set for him/her.

Is there an aspect of writing that you favour over others, e.g. dialogue, setting, or character? Is there one that is more difficult for you?

Dialogue. I really love writing dialogue and putting words into my characters mouths. Or do they put thoughts into my head? I’m never quite sure which way around that is! I can only really get going with a plot when the characters speak to me. Once I get the flow and the rhythm of their voices, I’m pretty happy. The rest of it I find quite hard work. Like anyone, there are many areas I still need to improve on, but the dialogue comes more naturally to me than the rest.

Tell us about the funniest/craziest/most interesting thing that has happened to you as a writer.

It’s something that happens right out of the blue. One of the characters will speak to me in my head before I’ve even got a story to put them in. For example, in the Revelation Room, long before it was the Revelation Room, Edward Ebb, the bad guy, spoke quite clearly. He said, “you’re going down the rabbit hole where all the burnt bunnies go.” I quite literally had to work the rest of the story out from there. Another guy spoke to me recently. He said, “What doesn’t kill you will make you wish it had.” I have no idea what story he’s from, because I haven’t even thought of it yet. I know his name’s Peter King and he’s a narcissist. It’s now up to me to fill in the blanks.

What would you tell aspiring writers today?

To always believe in yourself and to never stop learning. Listen to advice, constructive criticism and anything else of value that comes your way.

Mark’s books are available on Amazon and, if you want to find out more, here’s his stalk links:

Amazon author page: http://amzn.to/294Gdd0
Facebook author page: http://www.facebook.com/marktilburyauthor
Twitter profile: http://www.twitter.com/MTilburyAuthor
Goodreads profile: https://www.goodreads.com/marktilbury

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44 Gilmore Street… Dare You Enter?!

Gilmore multi.jpgToday’s the day! After writing it, having it beta read, re-writing it, sending it to the editor, tweaking it, then tweaking it again… and again… and again… it was time to call it a day and admit it’s as ready as it’ll ever be! Psychic Surveys Book Three: 44 Gilmore Street is now available to buy from Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords and Barnes and Noble (links below)! Time to sit back and take a breather? If only! I’m having an online Facebook launch party to celebrate and would love it if you could join in. There’ll be plenty of prizes on offer, including a signed paperback copy of 44 Gilmore Street and five fantastic authors of the paranormal popping in at various stages to offer e-book prizes of their books.

The line up is (GMT times):

3.30pm – Sarah England (Father of Lies)
4.30pm – Rumer Haven (What the Clocks Know)
5.00pm – Rebecca Patrick-Howard (the Taryn’s Camera series)
5.30pm – John Bowen (Where the Dead Walk)
6.30 pm – Adrian Martin (The Helland Reckoning)

Here’s the link – click on it, press ‘going’ and you’re in!

Launch day is always a nerve-wracking time for authors, you wonder if people are going to enjoy your latest offering or not. This is my eighth book and I’m getting pretty good at telling myself that as long as it’s as good as you can make it at the time of producing it, then you’re on the right track. And to help me do that my thanks go to my team of beta readers (you know who you are, I tell you often enough!) and my editor, Jeff Gardiner, who is just such a pleasure to work with. And thank you Laurence Patterson at Crooked Cat also for being so patient with me when I’m STILL making edits at galley stage!

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44 Gilmore Street is the third of six books in the Psychic Surveys series (there will be spin-off novellas from the series too such as Eve) and from relatively light beginnings it’s getting darker! If you do read it, thank you, I hope you enjoy it. Now, what was I saying about taking a breather? Better get cracking on the next instalment…

Psychic Surveys Book Three: 44 Gilmore Street

UK http://tinyurl.com/jobnwoo US http://tinyurl.com/j6jvev5

Psychic Surveys Book Two: Rise to Me

UK http://tinyurl.com/n9q352z US http://tinyurl.com/nzjz62x

Psychic Surveys Book One: The Haunting of Highdown Hall

UK http://tinyurl.com/lak4ub2 US http://tinyurl.com/l29wj78

Psychic Surveys Prequel: Eve: A Christmas Ghost Story

UK http://tinyurl.com/nmnajss US http://tinyurl.com/pe5f6db

 

 

The Ghostly Jessamine…

frontJessamine  was released by Crooked Cat Publishing on the 9th December 2014 and this week it’s on promotion with Crooked Cat – but what’s it all about? In short, it’s a story of love, loss and location, but it’s also about how we are haunted by the ghosts of our past. Yep, Jessamine is supernatural but subtly so.

First up, let’s talk about location – it’s set in the misty, mysterious highlands of Scotland, in a fictional village called Glenelk, on the west coast of Scotland, overlooking the Isle of Skye. A bleak but beautiful place, it suits the story’s brooding tone perfectly.

Jessamine teaserNext is love – the force that drives our lives. But we’re not just talking romantic love here, we’re talking about the love that exists between friends and family, that spawns loyalty and the need to protect, about ties that bind through generations. But what happens when that which we love the most is lost? How do we cope with the grief that ensues?

The tagline for Jessamine is:

One village, four people and the ghosts of generations.

Jessamine Teaser 2All four characters – Jessamin, Fionnlagh Maccaillin, Maggie and Stan – are haunted in one way or another. Having come together from opposite ends of the country, what is the mystery that unites them? Can they help each to move on and, if not let the past go, at least find some way of living with it?

An emotional rollercoaster, I’m very proud of Jessamine. Yes, it’s dark and ghostly, but it’s very human too. As for tissues? I recommend you get yourself a box on stand-by!

To whet your appetite, here’s a short excerpt:

His anguish concerned her. “Stan…”

“Och, don’t mind me. I’m getting maudlin is all.”

“Stan, how could you think I’d mind? Of course I don’t.”

Furtively, she studied his face. He seemed so tired of late. The cough he’d developed was wearing him down. Into the lines of his face, his entire life seemed etched – a good life at times she knew but also painful, like any long life. No one sailed through the years unscathed. She felt bad she’d mentioned Flo’s death, Mally’s leaving again; there was no need to wallow in sadness and she said as much.

“You’re right, dear. Concentrate on happy times. Why not? We can’t go back. We can’t change things.”

If only we could.

“And when the sun is shining, it’s an easy thing to do. But, and I expect you know this as well as I do, it’s the dead of night you have to watch out for, when the wind is howling, when the rain pelts relentlessly against your bedroom window, when sleep refuses to indulge you. That’s when the bad memories rear up, when they demand their fair share of attention too.” He shuddered. “The dead of night, it’s an accurate description.”

Jessamin turned to face the old man fully. “Stan, you’re worrying me.”

“No, dear, there’s no need to worry.”

“Despite what I said about concentrating on the good stuff, you can tell me anything, you know that don’t you? Whatever it is… I’m here for you. I’m on your side.”

There were tears in his eyes. Quickly, Jessamin reached out a hand to comfort him. He took it, his grip surprisingly firm – desperation lending him strength perhaps. Her breath caught in her throat. What was he going to say? What had upset him so much?

When at last he spoke, his words chilled her.

“The dead of night, Jess, I wish they’d leave me alone.”

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Jessamine is currently on sale for 99p from Amazon – now’s a great time to download it, saving it perhaps for those long winter nights – we all know they’re on the way – when you’re sat by the fire, a wee nip of something by your side. Here’s the links:

 

Congratulations to Astrid Arditi!

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Congratulations to Astrid Arditi on the launch today of her debut novel – A Cunning Plan – a romance with mystery and excitement by the bucketful! Here’s she shares an excerpt and the blurb with us and you can find all the links to the book below! It looks like a great read!

EXCERPT

The reality of the situation was slowly creeping up on me. A stranger was inside my car. I inched toward the door handle, knowing my best solution would be to escape. My only knowledge of martial arts came from watching The Karate Kid. I harbored a strong suspicion it wouldn’t help much. I would probably hurt myself if I tried to pull off a crane move. Shoving all movie references away from my overwrought brain, I wondered what was wrong with me?

A burning sensation in my lungs reminded me to breathe. I gulped as much air as I could, getting ready to scream for help. All the while, I kept my eyes trained on him, trying to conjure a reassuring expression that wouldn’t set him off. Would I make it out of the door if he lunged toward me? Doubtful. Although he lounged back in the seat casually, I could feel the tension in his lean body, a panther ready to pounce on his prey.

I focused on his face, hoping to decipher his intentions. Besides his brown eyes that had lost their humor, the intruder had light chestnut hair clipped short, a nose that must have been straight once, and a square jaw sporting a five o’clock shadow.

At last, my hand connected with the metal handle and I tensed, ready to spring the hell out of here. Let him have the car, I just wanted out.

His hand shot in my direction, but he stopped it right before it touched my arm.

BLURB

Determined to put her family back together, Sloane Harper stalks her ex husband and his annoyingly stunning mistress, Kate. But she’s not the only one. Handsome IRS agent Ethan Cunning is surveying them too, but not for the same reasons. He is attempting to nail Kate’s playboy boss.

Ethan and Sloane decide to help each other, which sends Sloane’s wobbly life spinning out of control. She’ll have to face danger, humiliation, and scariest of all, the dating scene, to lure her daughters’ father home.

Losing control was the best thing to happen to Sloane… until it turned lethal.

allard_eng_0012.jpgAUTHOR BIO

Astrid Arditi was born from a French father and Swedish mother. She lived in Paris and Rome before moving to London with her husband and daughter back in 2013.

After dabbling in journalism, interning at Glamour magazine, and teaching kindergarten, Arditi returned to her first love: writing.

She now splits her time between raising her kids (a brand new baby boy just joined the family) and making up stories.

A Cunning Plan is Arditi’s first published work.

BUY LINKS

Amazon UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/Cunning-Plan-Astrid-Arditi-ebook/dp/B01D7H7O42/

Amazon US http://www.amazon.com/Cunning-Plan-Astrid-Arditi-ebook/dp/B01D7H7O42/

IBooks https://itunes.apple.com/fr/book/a-cunning-plan/id1102554468?mt=11

Nook http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-cunning-plan-astrid-arditi/1123657004?ean=2940152965568

Kobo https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/a-cunning-plan-5

CONTACT INFO

I blog at www.astridarditi.com

Facebook Astrid Arditi author https://www.facebook.com/Astridarditiauthor

Twitter @astrid_arditi https://twitter.com/astrid_arditi

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Birthday Highdown Hall!

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The 25th April – what a day! It’s not just MY birthday, it’s the day when Crooked Cat Publishing launched Psychic Surveys Book One: The Haunting of Highdown Hall onto an unsuspecting world! Yep, 2 years ago today, Highdown Hall was made available on Amazon to buy in both ebook and paperback format. Getting off to a good start, it climbed all the way into the top 2,000 books on Amazon and stayed there for the best part of a year, nestled beside the likes of Stephen King, James Herbert and Peter James -a dream come true! In 2015, it got to No,70 overall in the US Amazon Kindle charts and roughly the same in the UK Amazon Kindle charts and No.1 in several genre charts across the globe. It’s also acquired a prequel (Eve: A Christmas Ghost Story), Book Two (Rise to Me) and the soon-t0-be-published (May 27th) Book Three: 44 Gilmore Street. I envisage there’ll be six books in the series in total, but you never know, I might squeak in one or two more…

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Centred round a team of psychics and the cases they investigate, it’s been a pleasure working with Ruby, Cash, Theo, Ness, Corinna and Jed, the ghost dog (everybody’s favourite). I’ve based a lot of cases around real life events (those I’ve been involved with and those that have been told to me) and have included, where I can, the work of famous Occultists such as Aleister Crowley, Dion Fortune and Alexandra David Neel (amongst others). A lot of research has gone into the books and I’ve surprised myself with all the things I’ve learnt – the mystical world is indeed a fascinating world!

I’ve had a ton of fantastic reviews – over 300 between the UK and US and most of them have been 5 and 4 star. There have, of course, been the odd 1 or 2 stars but hey, that’s par for the course – and some of them have made me smile, i.e. the one who said ‘she seems to make it up as she goes along’ – I love that, partly because it’s true! But it’s also been called the ‘best ghost story ever’ and many times ‘unputdownable’. To anyone who’s ever taken the time to review a huge thank you – it means (and helps) such a lot!

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If you haven’t read Highdown Hall yet, let me know in the comments below. I’ve got a few e-copies to GIVE AWAY. If you’ve got a Kindle, I can send it to your email address so you can send it to your Kindle. If you fancy it, you can also sign up to my occasional newsletter, where I’ll keep you informed of any new releases, competitions and giveaways. http://eepurl.com/beoHLv

Thank you again for all your support and congratulations again to Highdown Hall, who’d have known we’d have shared a birthday too!

The Haunting of Highdown Hall

UK http://tinyurl.com/lak4ub2

US http://tinyurl.com/l29wj78

Aus http://tinyurl.com/pc73ggz

Canada http://tinyurl.com/owg9b5w

Contact Links

Facebook Author Page: http://tinyurl.com/p9yggq9

Twitter: https://twitter.com/shani_struthers

Blog: https://shanisite.wordpress.com

Goodreads http://tinyurl.com/mq25mav

 

 

 

So How Many Wrongs Make a Right?

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Huge congratulations to Stella Birrell, whose novel debuts today from Crooked Cat Publishing. How Many Wrongs make a Mr Right is a chick-lit-with-grit novel set in the Lake District and Edinburgh. Grab a coffee, sit down and read an extract:

‘OK, here’s an idea. If he’s pretending Tuesday didn’t happen, then you pretend it didn’t happen. Then he can decide all over again that he wants to be with you. Maybe you could knock him back or something? Then he’ll be dying to ask you out officially.’ Knock him back? I thought tonight was a dead cert. I shaved my legs for goodness sake.

‘I suppose I could play hard to get. Oh, I am so bored of playing the game!’ I whine. ‘When does it get easier?’

‘When you find the right person and they find you,’ replies Julie, wisely (also, if I’m honest, a little smugly). Right, we’d better get back to the boys before I start in on Julie with ‘yeah-about-that-didn’t-you-know-the-unwritten-I-saw-him-first-rule-regarding-your-boyfriend-I-think-you’ll-find-by-this-legislation-he-should-be-with-me.’ I have held out against this so far, yes, mostly because it’s ridiculous, not to mention legally unenforceable. I’m certainly not going to bring it up after three WKDs. I’d rather be with James anyway.

So we went back to the group. I smiled, flirting with him as much as I could, trying to be sparkling company. He’s a good laugh, James, a real catch. I’ve started to wonder if I can really hold such a full house of a man. Maybe I need to assign him to the Sid category, awfully nice, but no point in making an effort because there is such a thing as punching above your weight. Especially when you’re overweight.

Now I’m walking with Sid, with Gerry next to him. James is on the other side of Gerry, discussing some golf course they are planning to go to next weekend. I catch James’s eye, and wink at him. He smiles at me. Man, he’s so fit. No way am I giving up yet.

We pay our way into Frankies. As usual, I lose everyone immediately. This used to really panic me, especially when I hardly knew anyone here, but I’m completely used to it now. It’s not actually a big place, I’ll bump into them later. The music is absolutely thumping, as always; both the dance floor and the bar area are already rammed with people. The special Frankies smell is on the air; beer, smoke, sweat, and overtones of heady sexual promise.

***

12592388_10153496222530423_2848569702715395634_n.jpgAbout the Author

Stella Hervey Birrell is an emerging writer of women’s fiction living in East Lothian, Scotland. She has lived in various places in Scotland and England and has had various jobs, none of which have paid particularly well. Her experience of Mr Wrongs is unparalleled, but she found a happy ending with her husband and two children, even though there appears to be a lot of laundry in ‘ever after.’

How Many Wrongs… is her first novel, and is published with Crooked Cat Books.

Stella also writes short stories, sings in a band, yells at her kids a lot, and most days can hardly believe her luck.

How to find me!

Please come and say ‘hi’ in one or more of these places

My blog space is https://atinylife140.wordpress.com/

Twitter is @atinylife140

I have a page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/stellaherveybirrell/?ref=hl

I can also be found wandering the streets of various East Lothian villages.

To purchase Stella’s book, please use one of the following links:

UK Amazon

http://www.amazon.co.uk/How-Many-Wrongs-make-Right-ebook/dp/B01D0EO7G0/

US Amazon

http://www.amazon.com/How-Many-Wrongs-make-Right-ebook/dp/B01D0EO7G0/

Kobo

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/how-many-wrongs-make-a-mr-right

Nook

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/how-many-wrongs-make-a-mr-right-stella-hervey-birrell/1123543910?ean=2940152924312

iBooks

Search ‘How Many Wrongs make a Mr Right?’ in the iTunes Store

 

Rumer Haven’s New Release!

Thanks so much for hosting me, Shani!
On moving to London several years ago, I immediately stumbled upon Brompton Cemetery, and it’s been my favorite spot ever since. One of London’s “Magnificent Seven” cemeteries established in the 19th century, Brompton stretches for nearly forty acres and is my urban oasis. Much like Margot, the protagonist of What the Clocks Know, I felt quite lost when I first relocated from the States. Having moved for my husband’s job, I found myself without one of my own for a while, and without family and friends around either, my life felt rather isolated and aimless during that initial stretch.But Brompton was one place where peace and reflection came easily, so I chose to send Margot there as well in this story. The cemetery both heals and heightens her anxieties and, either way, compels her to return time and again. She isn’t certain if what she’s experiencing is paranormal or psychological, though, and Brompton becomes a key place for finding the answers.

The following excerpt originated somewhere between journal pages and coffee shop napkins, which I scribbled on during my early visits to the cemetery. The gravestones, statues, flora, and even fauna all triggered random thoughts that eventually gelled into this scene and others. And, yes, there really is a Charlotte Pidgeon.

Excerpt:
Margot edged closer to a tomb that echoed loudly with buzzing insects; when she peered into its blackness, a cool, ancient scent wafted to her face. Continuing to idle along, she scanned the moss and vines that clung to and devoured the markers sprouting all throughout this garden of marble and granite, the Gothic juxtaposed with the Romanesque, Celtic crosses with Grecian urns.

Stopping at another grave, she saw Christmas décor rotting away by her feet. A depressing sight in summer, the winter wreath made her fancy how the cemetery’s atmosphere must change with the seasons. She wouldn’t be in London long enough to see it burn in rust and gold, the falling leaves mimicking the footfall of a pursuing stranger and the plucked trees revealing more of the sky and buildings beyond. Yet she could imagine how, on one chilled day that would paint the scene gray, someone would kneel again at a name of diminishing meaning to the present world and place another wreath of scarlet ribbon and silver baubles. Only for it to waste away during another sunny spring and rainy summer as the cycle continued: lather, rinse, repeat.

The effect of time would be noticeable enough, and somehow she felt she’d already seen it all before and would again, her grandest déjà-vu yet. To preserve its enchantment, she didn’t analyze the reasons why this site had come to matter so much. She felt whole here. That was all to know.
But her bladder waited for no man, living or dead. Picking up her pace, Margot hightailed it to the cemetery’s rear exit until a shiver clenched the muscles between her shoulder blades. Despite
her urgency to get back home, she slowed to a full stop in front of a gabled gravestone. An ornate sprig of acacia crowned an inscription she hadn’t seen yet.

READER, STAY.
UNDERNEATH THIS STONE DOTH LIE
AS MUCH BEAUTY AS COULD DIE;
WHICH IN LIFE DID HARBOR GIVE
TO MORE VIRTUE THAN DOTH LIVE.
IF AT ALL SHE HAD A FAULT,
LEAVE IT BURIED IN THIS VAULT.

Rather than grab her pen and napkin to write the poem down, Margot just stood there, rereading it. Contemplating it. If there was an afterlife, could people really leave their failings behind to putrefy in the dirt, safe from anyone’s memory? She liked to think so.

Her gaze rose to the name chiseled in the stone.

CHARLOTTE PIDGEON

It so happened that Charlotte Pidgeon was born on the same day as Margot, but her year of birth was 1848 and year of death 1874. Despite all the other gravestones she’d recorded onto her napkin, copying anything down from this one somehow seemed blasphemous. So she just kept standing, with gravity fastening her in place. Gawking, until a weight on her breastbone made it more difficult to breathe.

The sensation was strange, no question. Margot had never felt anything like it. But she’d taken enough psychology courses as an advertising major to peg it for what it was: a psychosomatic response. The conditions were ideal for something like that. For one, the general creepy-factor of standing above hundreds of corpses as black birds crowed their ‘Evermores’ left and right. And now this moving inscription that kicked in her sympathies.

There was otherwise no meaning in it – even if, go figure, the given name should be Charlotte. A decent coincidence to add to her diary, but it wasn’t surprising that such a popular Victorian name would find its way on an English grave or the spine of an English book. She must have seen a dozen Charlottes in that lot alone by now, along with all the Alices, Emmas, and Janes.

And so what if their birthdays were the same? The ratio of 365 days to the billions of people ever born on Earth was basically nil. She had to stop pandering to what the human brain did naturally: form correlations when it noted them. Only this and nothing more.

Exhausted with her overactive imagination and fantastically bored with herself, she didn’t want to stand there anymore. But she didn’t want to walk anywhere else either. Breathing heavily through her nose as a numbness dulled her, she didn’t want to be anywhere in that moment, not even in her own skin. The effort and futility of life bore down on her as she considered all the bodies underground, all those who’d borne the burden of existence and thought it mattered until they didn’t exist or matter anymore – just rotted in boxes under her feet.

She had to go back to Rand’s. She didn’t want to; she needed to. Not for the toilet any longer, but a bath sounded nice – something that could warm her against the nip of her fears, wash away the soil she felt falling over her. Drown the thuds each shovelful made on the lid of her inner casket. That sounded purposeful enough.

Forgive my intrusion, Miss Pidgeon. I will leave you to rest in peace.

~ * ~

About What the Clocks Know:
Finding a ghost isn’t what Margot had in mind when she went ‘soul searching’, but somehow her future may depend on Charlotte’s past.

Woven between 21st-century and Victorian London, What the Clocks Know is a haunting story of love and identity. A paranormal women’s fiction, this title is available as of March 18, 2016 from Crooked Cat Publishing.

“A unique tale of the paranormal – as beautiful as it is haunting.”
~ Shani Struthers, author of Jessamine and the Psychic Surveys series

** Add it! **
** Read it! **
~ * ~

Author Bio:

Rumer Haven is probably the most social recluse you could ever meet. When she’s not babbling her fool head off among friends and family, she’s pacified with a good story that she’s reading, writing, or revising—or binge-watching something on Netflix. A former teacher hailing from Chicago, she presently lives in London with her husband and probably a ghost or two. Rumer has always had a penchant for the past and paranormal, which inspires her writing to explore dimensions of time, love, and the soul. She debuted in 2014 with Seven for a Secret (in which a Jazz Age tragedy haunts a modern woman’s love life), and her award-winning short story “Four Somethings & a Sixpence” (about a bride who gets a little something she didn’t register for) was released in 2015. What the Clocks Know is her second novel.

Learn more about Rumer at:
Website – http://www.rumerhaven.com
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/rumerhaven
Twitter – @RumerHaven

 

Something for the Weekend with Tim and Kimm!

It’s lovely to have fellow Crooked Cat authors, Kimm Walker and Tim Taylor on my blog today, telling us about how they met, and talking candidly about the process of writing and making a sale. Here we go…

twitter picture.jpgTim and I are both Crooked Cat authors and met at Holmfirth Writers’ Group many years ago. We thought it might be interesting to do a head-to-head interview, as a change.

Tim: We’ve missed you recently from the writers’ group. I hope you’ve been able to work through the writer’s block you were suffering a while back?

Kimm: It’s true, I’ve turned away from “Writing” and given up some of the groups I used to regularly attend. Having poured whole years heart and mind into writing two books, Once Removed and A Life Less Lost, I was disappointed they didn’t go out and sell themselves, as per my romantic fantasy. Self-doubt is hard to overcome.

But as anyone who writes knows, banner.png“Writing” doesn’t care if you turn your back – it won’t let you go. So perhaps not novels, although that is the form I love to read and am most at ease with, I still play with poems, write articles and am wondering about trying my hand at stories for my grandchildren.

For Christmas I was given a week’s writing retreat in Italy with Sue Moorcroft so we’ll see what time has to say.

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Tim:
Sounds fantastic! I hope it does the trick for you, Kimm.

Kimm: Speaking of the difficulties of book promotion, you ran a sale throughout December. Can you tell if it’s made a difference? What have you found is the best way to make your brilliant books known to possible readers?

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Tim: My sales did seem to pick up a bit in December, though it’s difficult to tell how much of that was due to the reduced price and how much to the effort I put in to promote it. I think that of all the methods I’ve tried, live readings have perhaps had the most direct impact, and can be quite rewarding – though of course, there is a limit to how many people you can reach that way. I have the feeling that social media is getting a bit saturated with books and it’s becoming harder to get them noticed (though I still use it, of course!)

Kimm: I certainly agree about the live talks/readings. I did a lot of that with my memoir, A Life Less Lost. People bought a copy for themselves then came back to me and bought more for family and friends. One person actually bought 7 copies! But I seemed to run out of venues after a while.

Tim: As well as Holmfirth Writers’ Group, we also both attend the monthly Poetry Day at Huddersfield University. How do you see the relationship between fiction, non-fiction and poetry, as someone who has written all three?

Kimm: These three forms of writing have one vital thing in common – audience. True, the audience may have different expectations for each form but all three forms must keep their readers engaged.

My love of fiction and learning the craft of writing prose, I believe, helped me make my memoir more compelling. The exacting nature of poetry – distilling emotions into tight word pictures, creating metaphor and similies – provides skills that can also add depth and colour to fiction and non-fiction. And taking real life experiences into your prose and poetry gives them both authenticity and a voice that speaks to others.

Tim: Nicely put – and I’m sure you’re right.

Kimm: You also write beautiful poetry, have serious published non-fiction work and two fascinating historical fiction novels out. Do you think your day job helped you get inside the skin of the people you write so well?

Revolution Day.jpgTim: I guess my experience of government as a civil servant for 26 years informed certain details of my novel Revolution Day (about an ageing Latin American dictator whose Vice-President is plotting against him): the long tedious formal meetings, the horse trading that goes on in negotiations, etc. Less so the characters themselves, for the most part, with the partial exception of Felipe, the private secretary of dictator Carlos Almanzor, who reflects my observations of real private secretaries to government ministers and the like (though I’ve never done that job).

My first novel, Zeus of Ithome, was set in ancient Greece, so I was much more reliant on imagination and what I could glean from the sources, rather than personal experience. Though I think our experiences always ultimately feed into what we write, though often in an indirect way.

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Kimm: Absolutely! We absorb our understanding of human behaviour and relationships from our own experience, which then feeds our imagination.

Tim: It’s been good to chat with you again, Kimm. And many thanks to Shani for hosting us both!

It’s been a pleasure, here are the buy links for Kimm’s books – I’ve read Once Removed and can highly recommend it. Get clicking folks!

Buy and Stalk Links for Kimm:

Buy and Stalk Links for Tim: