Friday, 10 April 2015

THE ROLE OF THE EDITOR

Today I'm the guest of my dear friend and fellow-author Vanessa Couchman.  I had the pleasure of working with Vanessa as editor of her wonderful debut novel The House at Zaronza.

If you've ever wondered what an editor actually does, hop over to Vanessa's blog and find out!

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Friday, 3 April 2015

TREADING ON DREAMS - a guest post by Jeff Gardiner

And now - another very special guest: the wonderful and multi-talented Jeff Gardiner.




Jeff Gardiner is a UK writer who was born in Jos, Nigeria. His first novel, Myopia, explores bullying and prejudice among teenagers. Igboland is a novel of passion and conflict set in war-torn West Africa. Treading On Dreams is a tale of obsession and unrequited love. He has recently signed a three book deal with Accent Press for a trilogy of YA fantasy novels.



His acclaimed collection of short stories, A Glimpse of the Numinous, contains horror, romance and humour. Many of his short stories have appeared in anthologies and magazines.  Jeff also has a work of non-fiction to his name: The Law of Chaos: the Multiverse of Michael Moorcock.

 “Reading is a form of escapism, and in Gardiner’s fiction, we escape to places we’d never imagine journeying to.” (A.J. Kirby, ‘The New Short Review’)

For more information, please visit his website at www.jeffgardiner.com and his blog: http://jeffgardiner.wordpress.com/





TREADING ON DREAMS is a contemporary novel from Tirgearr Publishing exploring unrequited love and obsession.  It is currently at the special sale price of 99p/99c for the first two weeks of April only.

Donny is obsessed with his housemate, Selena – but his love is unrequited. He enthusiastically accepts her willing friendship, which only fuels his deepening fantasies.

Jaz is their crazy landlord who likes sleeping with women – lots of them. He takes pleasure in educating the once innocent Donny in the hedonistic pleasures of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll. It blows Donny’s mind.

Selena is engaged to Melvin – the perfect man – but is also keen to befriend the ever-demanding Donny ... until she falls pregnant and her wedding looms.

Donny expresses his true feelings at the wedding, causing mayhem and anger. But there remains a chink of hope: perhaps Selena’s marriage to Melvin is not quite as perfect as it seems.


TREADING ON DREAMS extract:

Donny remembered how, when he was ten, his favourite granny gave him an old, valuable book, larger than most on his shelf. The green vellum cover and gold-plated script fascinated him. He delighted in the magical paintings of mythical beings and creatures in exotic landscapes—dragons in the orient, trolls in caves of ice and a hippogriff soaring over Atlantis. The colour plate of Selene the Moon Goddess, the most beautiful girl Donny ever saw, most acutely captured his attention. She evoked grace and sensuality beyond expression, sitting naked on the sands of a golden desert on the mystical moon.

Entranced, Donny fell in love with her perfection. He stared at the picture for hours; her face possessed a supernatural beauty and her nakedness aroused new sensations in him. For him, she was the perfect creation: his moon goddess. She seemed to beckon him to follow her while he sat hypnotised by this elemental creature. From then on, she dominated his dreams and waking hours. He hid the book beneath his bed as if it were a pornographic magazine.

Selene lived, caressing and embracing each part of his imagination.
***
Hunched into himself on the top stair, Donny strained to listen in breathless silence. Raised voices came from downstairs.

‘I won’t have my daughter acting like a cheap tart. You should have more respect for yourself.’ Steve Haynes sounded exasperated. ‘Where have you been, anyway? Your mum and I have gone mad worrying. We thought you’d been in an accident.’

‘Well I wasn’t—’

‘When you’re in my house—’

‘Yeah, I know…your house, your rules.’

‘I’m sick to death of your disobedience and rudeness—’

‘Do what I bloody like,’ Hazel mumbled.

‘Don’t you dare take that tone with me.’

‘Why not? Whatever I do’ll be wrong, anyway.’

‘Who the hell do you think you are?’

Hazel sighed but remained silent.

‘I’m talking to you, young lady.’ Donny recognised the familiar growing anger in his dad’s tone. ‘Why can’t you take a leaf out of Donny’s book?’

Upstairs Donny cringed and hugged himself tighter. No, don’t use me like this. He squirmed. Don’t use me to make Hazel feel bad. Don’t make her hate me, dad. The voices carried clearly through the closed door and up the stairs.

‘You’re a curse on this family, you know that?’

A tear dropped from his cheek onto his bare arm. He waited for his sister’s response.

‘I hate you. I bloody hate you.’

The sound of a slap preceded an eerie silence. Then the door sprang open and footsteps rang on the parquet flooring in the hall. Hazel stomped upstairs, stepping over him as he cowered backward. As she slammed her bedroom door behind her, Donny stayed where he was, even though he desperately wanted to help her. For the next few minutes, he screwed up his face and craned his neck to hear the reaction. His mother began sobbing.

‘What have we done to deserve this?’ Her broken voice only just reached his ears.

His father picked up the rustling newspaper. ‘I tell you she’s cursed.’

‘At least we’ve got Donny.’

Donny seethed. If Hazel was a curse then so was he. They came from the same cells and grew together in the same womb.

She didn’t answer when he knocked, so he pushed the door open and walked in. She sat at her mirror removing her thick gothic make-up with trembling hands. Black eyeliner matching her black-dyed hair ran in a smear across her cheeks. Donny kissed the top of her head. Taking some cotton wool from her open drawer, he dipped it in cold cream and carefully wiped his sister’s face clean.

‘Just remember, Hazey, I’ve got you and you’ve got me.

She smiled through bleary eyes. ‘Thank God I’ve got you.’

‘I hate them when they’re like this.’

‘Got a right bollocking, didn’t I?’ Hazel attempted a smile. The twins embraced.

Donny glimpsed his reflection in her mirror. Great hero he was—didn’t even stand up for his own sister. How pathetic.

‘Love you, you old tart.’

‘Love you, bumface.’

They laughed and hugged tightly.


Buy-Links for TREADING ON DREAMS (only 99p/99c for the first two weeks in April):


PUBLICATION DAY - a guest post by Laura Huntley

Today I have the pleasure of welcoming a very special guest: the fabulous  Laura Huntley, whose astounding debut novel, Black Eyed Boy, is released today by Crooked Cat Publishing.  I know it's astounding because I'm in the privileged position of having already read it - I had the pleasure of working with Laura throughout the editorial process.

Welcome, Laura - and many congratulations!




Thank you, Sue.  I can barely believe that this day has finally arrived. At last: publication day! My first novel, Black Eyed Boy, is out today and it has felt like a long wait to get here. That’s the trouble when you’ve been more excited than a small child on Christmas Eve who’s been living on a diet of energy drinks and bags of Skittles. Time tends to pass somewhat s-l-o-w-l-y.

What a journey. My feet haven’t touched the ground since Crooked Cat Publishing sent the contract my way. I have found every part of the process both fun and fascinating. It has been a quick learning curve. My favourite part was being consulted about the front cover. I consider myself to be extremely fortunate that Crooked Cat allow their authors so much freedom and control when it comes to such decisions.

As giddy as I surely am, I have also been a bag of nerves. That idea I had… The characters who have been living in my head, they suddenly exist within pages for others to read. It’s quite surreal in a way. I hope that readers enjoy the story. I hope that they root for Emily, my main character, as much as I do. I wonder if anyone will fall in love with Dylan? How will people react to Billy? Will people want more as they reach the end? I sincerely hope so, seeing as I have just finished writing the first draft of the sequel and I am now in the process of planning out the plot of the third and final instalment. It will be interesting (and scary!) to see what people think.

Mostly, though, I continue to feel delighted. I have longed for this day since I was a little girl. Dreams can come true, what a fabulous message to pass on to my three young children. Go for it. You never know what might happen. You might just get everything that you ever wanted.


Black Eyed Boy is available from Amazon.


Friday, 27 March 2015

A BREAK FROM HISTORY - a guest post by Nancy Jardine

A BREAK FROM HISTORY SNEAKS IN A DIFFERENT TYPE OF HISTORY

Today I have the pleasure of welcoming back my lovely friend the fellow Crooked Cat author Nancy Jardine, who has some wonderful new to share.

Welcome again, Nancy!  Over to you...

Hello Sue, thank you for the invitation to visit you to share my latest news.

Monogamy Twist, a contemporary romantic mystery, is re-launched today by Crooked Cat Publishing. Monogamy Twist came about, back in late 2010, because I decided to write a contemporary novel as a break from my historical writing which at that time was my historical romantic adventure The Beltane Choice, Book 1 of my Celtic Fervour Series. What transpired as the "break from historical" was a bit of a cheat - it is contemporary, but I couldn’t seem to help myself, I sneaked in a different sort of history in Monogamy Twist.




The idea of writing a contemporary novel was a challenge and initially I wondered what it could be about. They say that inspiration comes from many quarters and in my case, the plot for Monogamy Twist was almost a ‘no brainer’. I’d started the previous summer on my own family researching and was quite hooked on ancestry since it divulges so many interesting things! I was also watching the latest Charles Dickens series on BBC TV and that was enough to make me think of the Dickensian plot of a dilapidated house being bequeathed under mysterious conditions.

Monogamy Twist became my version of a strange bequest where Luke Salieri ‘almost’ inherits a dilapidated mansion in Yorkshire. The ‘almost’ is because he must fulfil the weird and quirky conditions set by Amelia Greywood before he will eventually inherit the property. She’s a woman that he’s never met, nor ever heard of. Not one to back down from a challenge, Luke realises he needs help to fulfil Amelia’s terms. In steps Rhia Ashton.  She seems to be an excellent candidate to help Luke unravel the mystery, but he finds Rhia has her own rules that he must abide by. To say any more would spoil the story but this latest edition of Monogamy Twist will be available from the 27th March 2015, published by Crooked Cat.

I adore the cover for this quirky story that Laurence Patterson of Crooked cat has created for me and hope potential readers of my light-hearted romantic mystery like it, too. I extend a warm welcome to your readers to join my Facebook Launch Party for Monogamy Twist, which is happening on Facebook even as we speak! Quirky goodies can be won. There’ll be music; food; lovely locations in Yorkshire… Why not pop in and say hello!


My other news is that I’m about to launch into self-publishing in April. The Taexali Game, Book 1 of my Rubidium Time Travel Series, has been in the pipeline for a long time. This story initially came about as a result of me wanting to write a time travel novel that I could read to my Primary 7 classes during a project studying Celtic/Roman Britain - a historical topic I loved to teach. For this reason it has been written for the middle grade/ early teen market. Even though I stopped teaching in 2011, I was determined to finish the story and publish it someday and that time is coming soon!



It’s set in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, in AD 210. This is during the era when the Roman Emperor Severus marches his legions in a great show of strength against the native Celts on what was the furthest western reaches of the frontier of the Roman Empire. The novel went through many changes over the years but eventually reached its final form earlier this year and has been superbly, privately edited for me by fellow Crooked Cat author - Jeff Gardiner. Because of its local nature, I’m aiming for it to have a local market in both paperback and ebook formats, as well as a global market in ebook format. It’s a novel that will appeal to anyone who likes a great adventure and especially if a reader is interested in learning more about northern Celtic/ Roman Britain. 

Like my historical Celtic Fervour Series, accurate details were important to me during the writing. I really love the cover design that graphic designer, Neil Saddler, has created for me. It blends the important element of the novel: the hill range being an iconic Aberdeenshire setting; highlights my three teenage protagonists; and it shows the threat from the Ancient Roman Legions.

It’s a case of look out for The Taexali Game coming in April!

Wow – this sounds amazing, Nancy.  Many congratulations, and may you have every success with these two new additions to your catalogue!

It’s been great to pop in, Sue – thank you.

Nancy Jardine lives in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. She currently shares a home with her husband, daughter, son-in-law, 3 year old granddaughter and 1 year old grandson. It’ll continue to be a busy household till late summer of 2015 when the new build home will be completed for the young ‘uns on what was Nancy’s former back garden. The loss of that part of the garden won’t be missed since there should now be more writing time available this spring and summer! Childminding is intermittent over the day and any writing time is precious. (If interested in how a new house is built these days, follow my blog posts named ‘Gonna build a house’ )

All matters historical are a passion; Ancestry research is a lovely time-suck. Nancy regularly blogs and loves to have guests visit her blog. Facebooking is a habit she’s trying to keep within reasonable bounds! Any time left in a day is for leisure reading and the occasional historical series on TV.

*************
Author links:

Amazon Author page for books and to view book trailer videos:   

Here are the links to buy Monogamy Twist:


Novels also available from Barnes and Noble; W.H. Smith; Waterstones.com; Smashwords; TESCO Blinkboxbooks; and various other places.



Sunday, 22 March 2015

Hail Captain Morrigan, Countess of Berwick - a guest post featuring Ailsa Abraham

My guest this morning is the wonderful Captain Morrigan (better known as Riga), Black Shaman extraordinaire, the heroine of Alchemy and its sequel Shaman’s Drum.  



Good morning, Your Ladyship.  This is the first time I’ve ever had a Countess as a guest!

Greetings, Sue Scribe! I bring you an offering of Limoncello as you enjoyed it when you did us the honour of visiting at our Scribe's house. None of this “Your Ladyship” nonsense, though.  My name is Riga, and that’s how it will stay.



As you wish, Your – er, Riga.  And thank you for the Limoncello.  Please, sit down.  Can I get you something to drink?  How are you?

I know you will never have expected to hear this but I'm glad of a bit of peace and quiet. Yes, we Black Shamans get a bad rap, but after all the drama around us recently, both in our own adventures and at home with Scribe, I'm pleased to take the weight off. Drink? Love some tea, please, ladies in my condition etc!

Drama?  Please, tell me more.

You may remember that we finished Shaman's Drum with things apparently sorted out, happy endings, ring the bells... But no. There is a little bit of history hanging over our heads and I am desperate for Scribe to write it, as are our fans out there. Iamo, my husband (will never get used to saying that!) tells me I need to learn patience. You can imagine what I say to that!

Then Scribe got herself nearly dead in a motorbike accident. 

What??? Was anyone else hurt?

No, only her, fortunately. As her characters we're her children so we all materialised at the hospital to stop her going over. She was in that horrible near-death sleep. I sat by her bedside and held her hand which was tied to the metal. It was unpleasant.

Geez, sounds grim.  How is she now?

She is on the mend but the house is pandemonium. You know that as a shaman she has all kinds of spirits living there? That's one of the reasons I'm so glad to take a break and come to visit you, Scribe Sue. There's the two soldier investigators from her other writing. You'd think with me being a Captain in the Black Shaman's Guild we'd get on. But noooooooooooooo. Then there is the house djinn, Ali – he's all right but a bit of a naughty child.  Mainly I just want her to be better to write but her head is all over the shop.

May I take some of that meat? Scribe is a veggie, like Iamo, so I am missing bacon sandwiches like crazy.



Please, help yourself!  In fact, I’ll make you a bacon sandwich whilst you tell me what’s on the horizon.  I’ve heard rumours that there might be another book in the offing.  Is this true?

Thank you for asking, Scribe Sue. I am whispering in our Scribe's ear about the next adventures which will start where Shaman's Drum left off. My Blood-Father, Dagda who is Native American, is also lining up for a book of his own. That would be number four in the series, so we might leave it there. Readers have been so kind asking for more news of us. As Arnie says in Terminator “I'll be back!” - I LOVE those films, don't you? Oh!  In the next book, Iamo and I will lose most of our magic ability and become once-borns so that will have its ups and downs.

Wow.  I’m intrigued to see how that works out.  And I found Dagda to be a fascinating character, so I’d love to know more about him.  Here’s hoping that your Scribe is soon sufficiently recovered to take up her quill again, and that the house-spirits leave her in peace for long enough to get the words down! 

You’re leaving already?  How will you get back?  I’m afraid I don’t have the car today, otherwise I’d drive you the station or the airport.

Thank you so much for your hospitality, Scribe Sue. Iamo sends great respect and a kiss on both cheeks. Get back? My power animal will help me. Blessings on this house now and always. Bye! Thanks for the bacon sarnie!

You’re most welcome, Riga.  Please return my greetings to Iamo and your Scribe.  Safe journey home.  Until next time…


Bio and links for Alchemy & Shaman's Drum
Ailsa Abraham writes under two names and is the author of six novels. Alchemy is the prequel to Shaman's Drum, published by Crooked Cat in January 2014. Both are best-sellers in their genres on Amazon. She also writes gay male romance under her brother's name, Cameron Lawton.
She has lived in France for over twenty years and enjoys knitting and crochet and until recently was the oldest Hell's Angel in town . Her interests include campaigning for animal rights, experimenting with different genres of writing and trips back to the UK to visit friends and family. She runs an orphanage for homeless teddy bears and contributes a lot of work to Knit for Africa. She is also addicted to dressing up, saying that she is old enough to know better but too wise to care.



Web-page
Amazon. UK
Amazon.  com
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Friday, 20 March 2015

The Twilight of Wonder

Earlier today there was a solar eclipse - the first one visible in the UK for more than fifteen years.  It didn't quite reach totality, but at just over 95% it came pretty damned close.

These are the best photos I managed to take as it dodged the clouds.