Sleep With the Lights On!

It is with great pleasure that I have Sarah England on my blog today talking about her latest release, Tanners Dell, the sequel to Father of Lies. She is one of my favourite authors and a very nice lady too, despite her ability to write genuinely terrifying books. I’m a quarter of the way through Tanners Dell and yep, just as I did during the first one, I’ve already had a nightmare! But even so, her writing is both compelling and intelligent, Sarah England knows her stuff and there’s nothing gratuitous about it – that’s what’s scary – it could all be true… Rather than me blather on, grab a coffee and let Sarah tell you about the books and what inspires her, and, if you’re brave enough, go and buy the books from Amazon too – they’re available in e-book format and paperback.

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Sarah, I’ve read Father of Lies and found it supremely scary, so much so I had to save it for daylight hours only! Give us a bit of background to the novel and what prompted you to write it.

 Oh I’m so happy it scared you, Shani – in the nicest possible way, of course. ‘Father of Lies’ centres around an extremely disturbed and violent young woman – Ruby – who suffers from what used to be called Multiple Personality Disorder (now Dissociative Identity Disorder). Because she hadn’t responded to any treatment after two years, and was actually getting worse, the psychiatrist decided to hypnotise her; and after that… well let’s just say he wished he hadn’t!

 The idea originally came after meeting a lady with this condition. I had a medical background and had also been a writer for many years, but once I heard her shocking story, I was inspired to write ‘Father of Lies’. In 90% of DID cases there has been some form of trauma or abuse in formative years, and the victim’s identity can become fragmented as a coping mechanism. It’s horrific in its own right. However, I also wanted to explore the fine line between madness and possession: what is real and what is not. I liked the idea of taking a scientific, somewhat atheistic point of view, coupled with that of a mediumistic clairvoyant. After that, well I guess I just got drawn to the dark side…

 And now there’s a sequel (yikes!) – what’s it called and is it darker than the first? How long have we got to brace ourselves before we can read it?

 Yes the sequel is launched on 29th May, although the kindle may well be available a few days earlier. It’s called ‘Tanners Dell’ and will also stand alone, but it’s probably best followed on from ‘Father of Lies’ so the reader has the full story. In my opinion ‘Tanners Dell’ is much scarier, because it delves into just what really went on in the creepy, desolate mining village Ruby hails from. I had some serious night terrors whilst writing it, and although I had to do some terrifying research first time round, this was in some ways worse because…oh no… you see you almost got me giving it all away…J

 How much research goes into your writing (and, considering the type of research you must do, how do you handle it?)

 A lot! I originally trained as a nurse and then worked as a medical rep specializing in psychiatry, so I had first hand experience of both working and visiting psychiatric units. In fact one of my first nursing assignments was at an old Victorian style asylum on the outskirts of Sheffield (now knocked down). In addition to that I spent a lot of time talking to the DID sufferer and understanding what she went through, plus her clairvoyance. And I read some factual books that would make your hair stand on end – I could only read one chapter at a time and only in daylight. After I’d read them I didn’t want them on my bookshelf so I gave them to a friend and she burned them! We’re talking demonology and exorcisms….

Do you ever scare yourself witless with your own writing?

 Yes. I get into the head of each and every character and live it. I search for the most horrifying true events and twist them into the story. I guess different things scare different people – for example monsters and vampires don’t frighten me at all – but possession and madness scare me half to death. One example – I used to mess about with tarot cards but one time I drew the same three cards every single time. I shuffled and cut, shuffled and cut for at least 2-3 minutes each time…yup, same three cards. And when I had a light, cool breeze on my face and the feeling of a hand brushing over my hair… something else happened to me too that I can’t ever forget but it’s quite shocking…anyway it was time to quit!

 What does the future hold writing wise – more horror?

 Well next is to package up some of the hundreds of short stories and serials I’ve written over the years (I was a magazine fiction writer for 10 years before starting horror novels). And then it will either be more occult horror or it may be a psychological horror/thriller, which I will start in September. I’m definitely staying on the dark side, anyway!

 Who are your favourite authors and why?

 I still love the classics – Thomas Hardy, Charlotte Bronte, Jane Austen…who are just breathtakingly brilliant authors, and when you think they wrote by hand! I also greatly admire Ian McEwen – his prose is stunning. My favourite storytellers range from Susan Hill (The Woman in Black) to Sarah Waters to Alison Weir. I enjoy historical fiction and anything gothic as long as the story races and the prose flows. I like to read the best and be inspired. In addition to this, I love the supernatural genre and a good ghost story is hard to beat, so your series is right up my street…44, Gilmore Street in fact!

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Buy Links:

Father of Lies:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B015NCZYKU http://www.amazon.com/dp/B015NCZYKU

Tanners Dell: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01FYBQZAS and http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01FYBQZAS

Social Media Links:  

https://www.facebook.com/sarahenglandauthor
http://www.twitter@sarahengland16
http://www.sarahenglandauthor.blogspot.com
http://www.sarahengland.yolasite.com

Being More Than an Author…

I’m in The Brighton Magazine today, talking about my books and the future of the publishing industry as I (and a fair few others I know!) see it. As much as us authors would love to do nothing more than just sit in our lonely garrets and write all day, that’s no longer possible. Instead, you have to don your marketing hat and find ways to make yourself visible amongst vast competition as well as network with others who you can then pool your experience and expertise with – trading graphic skills for marketing know-how for example – and everyone benefiting.

The hybrid author is on the rise – someone who is both traditionally published but is also self-published – learning the industry from the inside out. It’s a daunting prospect at times but being part of an author co-operative can really help and that’s what the article is really all about. Here’s the link to it – grab a coffee and have a read.

http://tinyurl.com/h94m258

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/shani_struthers

Goodreads http://tinyurl.com/mq25mav

To keep informed of future releases, further news, giveaways and competitions, sign up to my newsletter here – http://eepurl.com/beoHLv

 

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.”

Jessamine Teaser 3

 

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

 

Pica – The Natural World and the Lost World

It’s a big welcome to Jeff Gardiner today – not only editor of all my books (and someone I can highly recommend) but an author too. Here he’s telling us about his latest release with Accent Press called Pica, a YA novel blending the natural world with ancient mystery and, of course, a thrilling story. As well as what inspired him to write it, he shares an excerpt, blurb and those all-important buy links. Take it away, Jeff…

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In our Western culture we are becoming horribly dependent upon modern technology. I worry about my children and what experts call ‘screen time’. How many hours each day should children be allowed to spend behind a screen? How will it affect their health and mindset? It’s something I’m sure all parents worry about.

As a child myself, my parents took me for lots of walks in the countryside: forests, lakes and hills. These walks inspired me to take an interest in birds, wildlife and the world around me. There’s nothing quite like a walk in the rugged outdoors.

How many children and families visit the countryside or go on walking holidays? As a teacher it disturbed me when some pupils told me they never went to the countryside. I live close to the downs and a huge forest, plus a number of fascinating National Trust locations, but some pupils gave me a blank look when I mentioned them.

So ‘PICA’ is my response to young people who tell me that nature is ‘boring’. No it isn’t. Our planet is awe-inspiring and filled with ancient mystery. Humans used to live close to nature and their lives fitted around the rhythms and patterns of the natural world. There must be ancient magic and secrets that have been lost over time. ‘PICA’ is set in the modern world and it explores the idea that we can rediscover those ancient mysteries. Luke is a teenager whose life is blown apart when he realises what amazing secrets are contained within nature…

Blurb

Pica explores a world of ancient magic, when people and nature shared secret powers.

Luke hates nature, preferring the excitement of computer games to dull walks in the countryside, but his view of the world around him drastically begins to change when enigmatic loner, Guy, for whom Luke is reluctantly made to feel responsible, shows him some of the secrets that the very planet itself appears to be hiding from modern society.

Set in a very recognisable world of school and the realities of family-life, Luke tumbles into a fascinating world of magic and fantasy where transformations and shifting identities become an escape from the world. Luke gets caught up in an inescapable path that affects his very existence, as the view of the world around him drastically begins to change.

Extract

A magpie (Latin name – Pica pica) has been persistently knocking on Luke’s window, and everywhere he goes he sees magpies. One day he decides to let the magpie in…

As soon as I pushed the window outwards the waiting bird hopped in, making a sound that almost equated to a tut. That can’t be right. I was imagining things again. My first fear that the magpie would squawk and flap about madly was unfounded, but I still felt nervous in its unpredictable presence, and had to keep trusting it wouldn’t poo on my bed.

But it didn’t. In fact, it acted with excellent manners. What kind of bird was this? Wild birds don’t enter houses after knocking politely. If a bird does accidently get into a house it goes completely mental and craps everywhere. This one looked at me with eyes that gleamed with intelligent understanding. It knew me. I swear, it looked at me and knew I wouldn’t hurt it. In the old days I would have looked for a stick or a weapon. Now things were different, and I stared back at him with utter fascination. I moved even closer, confident I wasn’t in any danger.

‘You need to choose your friends more carefully, Luke.’

I stumbled slightly and had to grip the windowsill with my fingertips to hold myself up.

What the –?

The sodding bird had only gone and spoken to me. It snapped its beak, glared at me sideways, then flicked its tail.

Was that for real, or had I lost the plot? Being with Guy had obviously turned me into a nut-job.

Up to now, I’d witnessed some amazing sights – but they could all be explained in encyclopaedias. However amazing the creatures Guy showed me, each one existed in the real world. But a talking bird? Now we’d suddenly jumped into a different dimension.

And it had used my name.

Had Guy sent this amazing bird to me to blow my mind even further?

It had to be Guy’s doing – sent on a crazy mission … unless …

‘Guy?’

Now I felt really stupid talking to a bird.

‘Hello, Luke.’

Bloody hell. Take me to a padded cell. I’d lost it. Maybe I never had it!

‘Guy? Is that …’ This was crazy. ‘… is that you?’

Visit Jeff at:

Jeff’s website

Accent Press

WHSmith

Barnes & Noble

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Amazon Australia

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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?

T E Taylor.jpg

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:

 

 

 

 

Something for the Weekend with Claire Stibbe

Claire B&W

Hello and welcome to the blog this dark and dreary Friday! Claire Stibbe’s is here to brighten up our day though, telling us all about her authorly self and her forthcoming book, The 9th Hour. Take it away, Claire…

Originally from England, Claire lived in Hong Kong for three years before eventually finding a second home in New Mexico, USA. Her genres include Historical Fiction, Psychological Thriller, Mystery and Suspense.

She has written two historical fiction novels, Chasing Pharaohs and The Fowler’s Snare, both set in ancient Egypt during the 18th Dynasty. She has just completed a psychological thriller, The 9th Hour, the first in the Detective Temeke series set in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and published by Crooked Cat Publishers.

9th HourAfter completing The 9th Hour, finding a publisher was the hardest part. It required many hours of searching for good publishers with a good reputation and ones with open submissions. I was fortunate to have been accepted by Crooked Cat, a publisher based in Scotland. Many of their authors have been shortlisted for prestigious awards, amazing writers who have simply soured up the charts and currently enjoy bestseller status. I would say this is indeed a cattery of quality.

For me, the best part of writing is the process. Researching ideas for the first novel in the Detective Temeke series has been so much fun, especially driving around Albuquerque through all the areas Temeke and his partner, Malin would go. This book takes place in Cimarron State Park where a nine-year-old African American girl has been abducted. Temeke, a detective working for violent crimes against children is called out one early December morning to take over a case nobody wants. Why? Because former lead Detective Jack Reynolds was found dead under the bridge on Exit 230 to San Mateo. He had a gunshot wound to his head. With a new partner, a new case and a new set of wheels, Temeke takes to the roads in search of a man who keeps the body parts of his eight young victims as trophies and has a worrying obsession with the number nine.

With so many state parks here in New Mexico, the hiking trails are numerous and great places to learn about the history of the southwest. Big blue skies, palisade cliffs and all kinds of fauna only add to each scene. With the help of detectives in the local police department, this has been crucial in piecing together a serial killer’s steps. Winter’s coming . . .

The weather has been particularly stormy recently, slate-grey skies, a sheet of rain one minute and the growl of thunder the next, which has provided the right mood to give me inspiration. I’m loving the characters and the way they lead each chapter to who knows where. And yes, I do normally have a structure, only this time it all went out of the window.

It’s all David Temeke’s fault. His dry wit often goes for the jugular, rubbing the department up the wrong way. Unit Commander Hackett is clearly suspicious of Temeke, an African/British ex-pat, and has reluctantly assigned him a new east coast transfer, Malin Santiago. It’s a high profile case where her Hispanic/Norwegian roots are a valuable asset to the team. Can’t say why. You’ll just have to read the book. Only, Temeke believes that Santiago lacks the necessary experience for such a case which is adding a considerable strain to their professional relationship. Not to mention her physical attraction to him which is about as welcome as a skunk at a lawn party.

9th breakfastSo this afternoon as I was sitting in my favorite coffee shop, I was this close to writing Santiago a great scene that would change Temeke’s view of her; maybe give him something to chew over. But being despicable me, I decided to leave it as it is. Unrequited love in the Northwest Area Command is much too much fun to watch. And Malin isn’t all smiles and teeth. There’s a certain metal in her psyche that gets stronger with every book. She might have started out as a pit-dweller, but she’s sure making up for it now.

Winter’s coming . . .

All this and more in The 9th Hour, released November 17, 2015 by Crooked Cat Publishing.

Claire once ran a newspaper for two local business in Albuquerque and has also written short stories for Breakwater Harbor Books, a publisher of anthologies. The collection won Best Anthology of 2014 in the Independent Book Awards hosted by eFestival of Words. She is currently working on the second and third books in the Detective Temeke series in which she explores how even in the darkness of criminal depravity the light of faith is never entirely extinguished.

To find out more about Claire’s books, visit her website at http://www.cmtstibbe.com.

For updates on new books, book signings and regular blog features, why not sign up for her occasional newsletter here

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Claire is also a member of the New Mexico Book Co-op and the Southwest Writers Association.