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Posts Tagged ‘Urbane Publications’

Hello, it’s Friday and that means it’s time for a post to “Celebrate Indie Publishing”, the publisher this week is Urbane Publications, the book being featured is All The Colours In Between by Eva Jordan, a thoroughly moving and wonderful book that deserves to be loved and read by all.

I also have the lovely Lloyd Otis in the hot seat for the author feature, his debut Dead Lands was published in October 2017.


Book Feature:

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Eva Jordan’s much-anticipated follow up to the bestselling 183 Times a Year It’s not a life, it’s an adventure!

Lizzie is fast approaching 50. Her once angst ridden teenage daughters, now grown and in their twenties, have flown the nest, Cassie to London and Maisy to Australia. And, although Connor, Lizzie’s sulky, surly teenage son,is now on his own tormented passage to adulthood, his quest to get there, for the most part, is a far quieter journey than that of his sisters. The hard years, Lizzie believes, are behind her.

Embracing her new career as a writer; divorce, money worries and the constant battle to weather the stormy complexities of the blended family, are all but a distant memory. It’s time for Lizzie to focus on herself for a change. Stepdaughter Maisy is embracing life down under and daughter Cassie is working for a famous record producer in London. Lizzie’s only concern, albeit a mild one, is for the arrested development of her Facebook-Tweeting, Snapchatting, music and mobile phone obsessed, teenage son. With communication skills, more akin to an intermittent series of unintelligible grunts, conversation is futile. However, Lizzie is not particularly perturbed. With deadlines to meet and book tours to attend, Lizzie has other distractions to concentrate on. But all in all, life is good. Life is very good.

Only, things are never quite as black and white as they seem…

A visit to her daughter in London leaves Lizzie troubled. Cassie is still the same incessant chattering Queen of malaprops and spoonerisms she ever was, however something is clouding her normally cheery disposition. Not to mention her extreme weight loss. And that is just the start. Add to that an unexpected visitor, a disturbing phone call, a son acting suspiciously, a run in with her ex husband and a new man in her life who quite simply takes her breath away; Lizzie quickly realises life is something that happens while plans are being made.

Harsh but tender, thought provoking but light-hearted, dark but brilliantly funny, this is a story of contemporary family life in all its 21st century glory. A story of mothers and sons, of fathers and daughters, of brothers and sisters, and friends. A tale of love and loss, of friendships and betrayals and a tale of coming of age and end of life. Nobody said it would be easy and as Lizzie knows only too well, life is never straightforward when you see all the colours in between.

My Thoughts & Review:

After falling in love with Eva Jordan’s writing with her debut novel 183 Times a Year, I was ecstatic to learn she had penned a follow up that would see me catching up with Lizzie and Cassie again, but I wasn’t prepared for the raft of emotions I would feel reading this and a huge hat tip to Eva for her superb writing for turning me into a blubbering wreck.

So where to begin…..even just thinking back to this book catches my breath and reminds me of some of the most inspired and moving narrative I’d read lately.
Right, so, time has moved on from where we left Lizzie in the previous book, she’s now concentrating on her writing career and careering towards the big Five Oh, her daughter Cassie is off to London, her son Connor is exactly what you would expect from a teenager and Maisy, her stepdaughter is in Australia with her partner.  For once, life seems to be settled and everyone knows what they’re doing…..or so it would seem.  Poor Lizzie is never one for a quiet and easy life, and sure enough life finds a way to complicate itself.

Poor Lizzie, my heart goes out to her, she is a parent who wants the best for her kids.  And as most parents will agree, no matter the age of your children, they are still your babies and you will care about them and want the best for them whether they are 5 or 45.  And this applies to Lizzie and Cassie.
Cassie has a secret and despite wanting to give her her independence, Lizzie also wants to help her daughter with whatever it is that’s bothering her.
Connor is a character I could not help but like, despite his moody teenage ways he’s lovely.  All too often we forget what it’s like to be on the brink of growing up, shaking off the shell of childhood and stepping into the new adult world and I think that Eva Jordan has written Conner perfectly.  The narration from his perspective felt authentic.

When it comes to the plot, I will say that this is a book to read with a box of tissues near by.  As I mentioned above, I ended up a blubbering mess reading parts of this book.  At points I didn’t even realise there were tears streaming down my face, so strong was the emotional pull of the story and the characters.  That said, there were also bits in the book where I laughed and smiled, it’s a book that really has the whole gamut of emotion woven throughout.

If you’ve not read either of Eva’s books then I wholeheartedly recommend you do, and whilst I think that All The Colours In Between can be read as a stand alone, why deprive yourself?  Go on, spoil yourself to two new books and get lost in some exquisite writing.

 

You can buy your copy of All The Colours In Between via:

Amazon UK
Urbane Publications
Wordery
Book Depository


Author Feature:

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Lloyd was born in London and graduated in Media and Communication. An avid movie fan, he wrote film reviews for his university magazine and enjoyed a stint in a television production company where he helped with props and scripts. He went on to write reviews for music sites, including ilikemusic, and after gaining several years of valuable experience within the finance and digital sectors, completed a course in journalism.

Under the pen name of ‘Paige’ he has interviewed a host of bestselling authors, such as Mark Billingham, Hugh Howey, Kerry Hudson, and Lawrence Block, and has blogged for The Bookseller, and The Huffington Post. He also wrote a regular book review column for WUWO Magazine and two of his short stories were selected for publication in the ‘Out of My Window’ anthology. He has also had articles appear on the Crime Readers’ Association website, and in the Writers’ Forum magazine. He currently works as an Editor.

 

 

What’s your most favourite thing about being an author?

For me, there are many favourite things about being an author such as publication day and seeing my book in a bookstore, but most of all it’s feeling like one. That’s awesome.

What’s your least favourite thing about being an author?

Having to do rewrites and edits with only a short time to implement them.

If you could have written any book what would it be and why?

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger for its observations of a particular place and time, and Orwell’s 1984 for its amazing futuristic foresight.

How do you spend your time when you’re not wrapped up plotting your next book?

I strum a few chords on the guitar when I can so that I’ll be able to solo like Slash one day and I also read a lot too. Fiction and non-fiction.

Do you have a set routine for writing?  Rituals you have to observe? I.e. specific pen, silence, day or night etc.

I tend to keep my stationary environment linear without too many distractions so that I can immerse myself fully into the story. Getting a consistent writing pattern is key for me and I can’t bear the thought of missing out on writing time if I am out and about, so I write on-the-move. On the bus or on the train.

 

A huge thank you to Lloyd for taking part and for sharing some more about himself, it’s always nice to get to know the person behind a book.  Especially when they’re a guitar playing rockstar – the book world’s answer to Slash perhaps?!  Love the idea that if you see Lloyd whilst he’s out he might be writing furiously on the train as an idea hits him for his next book!
If you would like to know more about Lloyd and his work, check out the following link:

Website: https://lloydotis.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/lloydotiswriter
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LloydOtisWriter

 

** My thanks to the ever wonderful Matthew Smith at Urbane Publications for my copy of this wonderful book and for taking part in Celebrating Indie Publishing **

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I am so excited to share a guest post with you today by Angelena Boden about the destructive grip of obsession as part of the blog tour for her latest book The Future Can’t Wait.

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The Future Can’t Wait is the emotive and compelling second novel from Angelena Boden, author of the gripping The Cruelty of Lambs.

Kendra Blackmore is trying to be a good mother and a good wife, as well as pursuing her pressurised teaching career. Then Kendra’s half-Iranian daughter Ariana (Rani) undergoes an identity crisis which results in her running away from home and cutting off all contact with her family.

Sick with worry and desperate to understand why her home-loving daughter would do this, Kendra becomes increasingly desperate for answers – and to find any way possible to discover the truth and bring her estranged daughter home…

The Future Can’t Wait is a gripping story of a mother’s love, and the lengths we would all go to in order to know our children are safe.

You can buy a copy of The Future Can’t Wait via:

Amazon UK
Urbane Publications


Guest Post:

THE DESTRUCTIVE GRIP OF OBSESSION (and the title of the book)

Many of us get mocked for having little rituals we carry out daily: checking the door to make sure it really is locked or the electric hob to test that all the rings are cold. My friend has to make a dramatic show of pulling out her iron from the socket to help manage her obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).  It’s a visualisation exercise in case you were wondering. When you’ve read this blog, have a cuppa and think about the rituals that shape your life.

Irrational thoughts flood our brain from time to time like when our child is late home. We can’t concentrate on anything other than ringing round their friends or zapping out numerous text messages Call me NOW. Really worried.

Is it only a certain type of person that becomes obsessive? No. It can happen to anyone in different forms. The most talked about is obsessive-compulsive hand-washing and cleaning. Think of the TV programmes featuring cleanaholics. No doubt you’ve wondered what drives someone to scrub their house for twelve hours a day.

In The Future Can’t Wait, Kendra becomes obsessive or even addicted to consulting psychics, triggered by a casual flick through a magazine. She’s a good example of a grounded personality who, in a time a deep distress, develops a set of behaviours to help cope with anxiety. It’s about taking back some control. Whilst research into the biological factors relating to the cause and development of OCD is ongoing, there is no definitive explanation as to why one person might become obsessive in their thinking and another not.

Anxiety is certainly a trigger and a driving force behind this distressing condition, which can affect relationships, work and everyday living, (think hoarders) and it is has been proposed that there might be some genetic link.

I can talk about this a little bit from a personal point of view as from time to time I get sucked into the vortex of rumination and nothing anyone can say will end it until it’s run its course, normally four days. I liken it to having your rational mind squeezed through a colander. Mine developed along with PTSD in the mid –nineties when I needed to regain some control over events that were spiralling out of control. Many anxiety-related disorders come from some sort of conflict – inner or outer. Thankfully many can be successfully treated.

To help manager her anxiety, although she did not realise this at the time, Kendra develops an obsession with her daily horoscope. Unlike most people who dismiss it as a bit of fun, she allows this multi-million pound industry of psychics and mediums to become her oracle. Operating from phone hotlines, they guarantee success from “genuine” psychics whilst milking enormous amounts of money from the gullible and desperate.

Some research coming out of the USA about this alarming phenomenon, indicates that psychic addiction is becoming an epidemic with no boundaries. Once someone gets drawn in they find it difficult to stop.

It becomes a problem is when you consult several people over a short period of time about the same issue. Psychic dependency is now classified as having more than two readings in the same year about the same issue i.e psychic hopping. The soothing words of the clairvoyant are a life line, hence the risk of addiction. As with a substance addiction, it is always about the next fix.

Maybe some of you lovely readers might want to debate the validity of psychics but that’s for another day. My issue is about how a well-balanced individuals can develop a behaviour addiction when desperate to solve a problem and its destructive nature. There are healthier avenues to explore. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for one.

I’ve heard it said from those who are the most susceptible is that the worst thing in life is the not knowing and the desperate need to bring the future forward. Hence the title of the book.

If you’ve been affected by any of the content of this blog, here are some sources of help.

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Cognitive-behavioural-therapy/Pages/Introduction.aspx

http://ocduk.org/

http://www.psychic-readings-guide.com/psychic-dependency/   Ignore the pop-ups from the sales peddlers.

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Hello and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Dead Lands, a trilling crime story set in the 1970s.  I am delighted to be able to share a guest post with you about the research behind the book so grab your cuppa and read on…..

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Description:

Dead Lands is a thrilling crime story set in the 1970s. When a woman’s body is found a special team is called in to investigate and prime suspect Alexander Troy is arrested for the murder. Desperate to remain a free man, Troy protests his innocence, but refuses to use his alibi. Trying to protect the woman he loves becomes a dangerous game – questions are asked and suspicions deepen. When the prime suspect completes a daring escape from custody, DI Breck and DS Kearns begin the hunt. Breck wants out of the force while Kearns has her own agenda and seeks revenge. Breck has his suspicions and she wants to keep it from him, and a right-wing march provides an explosive backdrop to their hunt for Troy. Dead Lands is the thrilling debut of award winning short story writer Lloyd Otis, and intelligently covers issues of race, discrimination and violence in a changing 70s landscape. 

You can buy a copy of Dead Lands via:

Urbane Publications (Publisher)
Amazon UK
Wordery
Book Depository

** My thanks to Matthew Smith at Urbane Books  for my copy of this book and to Abby Fairbrother (the immensely awesome Anne Bonny Book Reviews) for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **


Guest Post:

Dead Lands – building the story

A tremendous amount of research had to be conducted for Dead Lands and this was mainly for two reasons. The first reason:  the story is set a few decades ago and the second reason: a real-life event serves as its backdrop. I had to find out what the climate was like back then. I needed to feel it to some extent, to smell it, and to understand what the attitudes were like towards migrants, towards the police, and women. An author has to approach this sort of research carefully, which can be highly rewarding. To learn something new that will affect your story, or that you could insert into it for more realism, is an amazing feeling and I felt grateful to know what that was like.

Language and attitudes definitely change over time and I had to make a decision on how to approach that. For this story, I tried to strike a balance. With Dead Lands being set in the latter part of the 70s, it made sense that the attitudes of the times were reflected as much as possible without being an obstacle to the main story – although I gave myself more flexibility with the language. I spoke to people who were around at the time which was very important, because sometimes there is no substitute for speaking to someone who lived during a particular period. Of course you have to find those people, but when you do and you hear what they have to say, well it’s worth it. It really is.

With that part in place, I had to think about the other layers of the story and how they would interlace with each other as seamlessly as possible. Which character would have their identity pulled apart and questioned, which character would be telling the lies, and who would be hiding the biggest secrets? Setting Dead Lands in the past enabled me to highlight the complexities of proving guilt – DNA procedures as we know them today weren’t in place back then, so you really needed a good detective at the helm. Therefore, in terms of the people leading the charge, I needed strong characters.  I liked the polar opposites of a male and female investigators, and especially in that period of time, so Breck and Kearns fitted the bill perfectly. Having them operate within a fictional unit offered some flexibility with regards to what that unit was allowed to do, and in Breck, we have a bit of a maverick. A different kind of officer operating in a turbulent part of South East London. Amongst the temptations and whispers of corruption, he’ll do his job and he wants to do it the right way. That’s what he signed up for and why he joined the force. But ultimately, as the investigation progresses, he feels something is up, he’ll follow his nose and see it through to the end.

There’s a gritty underbelly to the story and life in the force is not sugar-coated in Dead Lands. Work for Breck provides a temporary escape from his feelings of discontentment and relationships are particularly important in this story. We even see this with Troy. From being a city high-flier to a man on the run, he is forced to turn to a small net of trusted people that may or may not be able to help him.

That is the landscape which I set out to create. There is no internet, no mobile phones, just a man and his limited resources, with an alibi that he can’t use and time running out.


Now I don’t know about you, but that has got me really keen to get reading and find out more!!  Perhaps I may just sneak this one up the reading pile and get lost in the world of Breck.  My review will be posted in November (sometime….)

 

Follow the blog tour:

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Hello and a belated happy Friday to you all!  We’ve had some technical issues today, namely Mr Quiet Knitter having to be my Tech Support when our internet decided not to work and he’s spent the day swearing at it trying to make it work again – thankfully it’s back and here I am!

Today I’ve got a special post to celebrate indie publishing, the wonderfully lovely Matthew at Urbane Publications has kindly offered SIX paperback copies of some of their recent publications up for grabs to help celebrate The Quiet Knitter book blog turning two!  I have to add that this giveaway will only be open to UK entrants only but I am hoping to run a wee international giveaway so that readers outwith the UK can have a chance of winning some goodies too!

I’ve also managed to wrangle a chat with another of Urbane’s authors, the lovely Mark Pepper!


Author Feature:pep-pic-222x300

By now, Mark Pepper really should be on his fourth wife and in rehab at some idyllic retreat in the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains. Graduating from RADA in 1990, he believed he would be a Hollywood star by the time the U.S. hosted the World Cup four years later. It didn’t work out that way.

His acting career was spasmodic, to say the least. There were high points: peeing on the Aidensfield Arms hearth-fire in the first-ever episode of Heartbeat; taking Lulu hostage in the Christmas special ten years later; acting with icons like Tom Bell and Helen Mirren; and popping up in Coronation Street several times. But there were vast deserts of unemployment between these little oases and Mark quickly turned to writing as an alternative source of expression.

His first novel, The Short Cut, was published in hardcover by Hodder & Stoughton in 1996 and in paperback by Hodder’s New English Library in 1997, and his second novel, Man on a Murder Cycle, was released by the same publisher hardcover in 1997 and paperback in 1998.

Veteran Avenue was completed a few years later but, as the pressures of earning a decent living and supporting his family took precedence, was placed on the back-burner – although not literally as that would have been stupid. Like any self-respecting struggling actor, he has had a host of jobs, including gym instructor, bed salesman, taxi driver, binman, and even a stint as a Special Constable with Greater Manchester Police. He left when he realised they were never going to give him a gun. Then ten years ago he completed a PGCE in Secondary School Drama, thinking it would be a good idea to be a teacher but not taking into account the problem of OPK – Other People’s Kids. His next move was to get his HGV licences. While happily driving artics around the country he rather stumbled into his current job of Client Intelligence Analyst, which he likes mostly because he can genuinely tell people he’s CIA.

After spending seven years living in Murcia with his wife and daughter, Mark recently returned to the UK as he missed the dull skies, frequent downpours, and especially road-rage.

He is delighted to have been adopted by the Urbane family, and is looking forward to his resurrected writing career. Veteran Avenue will publish in September 2017.

Courtesy of Urbane Publications website

What’s your most favourite thing about being an author?

Using my imagination, backed up by research, to create a believable and fascinating world the reader cannot wait to jump back into. Playing God with the characters’ lives.

What’s your least favourite thing about being an author?

Not spending time with my family.

If you could have written any book what would it be and why?

This one. Veteran Avenue is loosely based on my first draft of a full-length novel from 1992, entitled Returntime. I wrote my previously-published novels, The Short Cut and Man on a Murder Cycle, after that, but, if I had to choose just one story to publish in my life, Veteran Avenue would be it. It is the closest to my heart for several reasons.

How do you spend your time when you’re not wrapped up plotting your next book?

Earning a living! I have had a “regular” job for the past ten years, working online as a Client Intelligence Analyst. Also, spending time with my family and working out at the gym.

Do you have a set routine for writing?  Rituals you have to observe? I.e. specific pen, silence, day or night etc.

No rituals, as such; I don’t think they help, although silence is certainly preferable. I have always just grabbed as much time as I can, whenever I can. I write on a computer any time of the day or night. My first published novel, The Short Cut, was finished in one non-stop 24-hour writing spree.

 

A huge thank you to Mark for taking part and for sharing some more about himself, it’s always great to get to know a little more about the people behind the brilliant books we read.
If you would like to know more about Mark and his books, please check out his website http://www.markpepper.com/ or find him on Twitter @WritermanMark.

 


Giveaway

For your chance to win paper copies of Nemesister, Seeking Eden, The Secret Wound, Belief, Blue Gold and Beware the Cuckoo, all you need to do is leave a comment telling me where you’d like to read these books – be it a beach, on top of a mountain, in the pub….it all counts!  Apologies to readers outwith the UK, but this giveaway is only open to UK entries.
A random winner will be pulled from the hat on Tuesday 15th August (Mini Quiet Knitter will be picking a winner at lunchtime on the 15th), and good luck!


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Hello and happy Friday!
Welcome along to another post to “Celebrate Indie Publishing” , the publisher this week is Urbane Publications, the book being featured is “Seeking Eden” by Beverly Harvey and I’m shining a light on Sophie Jonas-Hill as she takes part in my author feature….I say light, it’s more like a wee torch, but it’s the thought that counts eh?!


Book Feature:

Published: 6 July 2017

Description:

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’50 is the new 30 – haven’t you heard?’
Or so says Ben Wilde’s record producer on the eve of his comeback. If only Ben could win back ex-girlfriend, Kate, he’d be a happy man. But married Kate has moved on, and moved out – to Eden Hill, a quiet housing estate in the suburbs. Lonely and homesick for London, can Kate resist ego-maniac Ben’s advances and save her own flagging marriage?

Streets away, Kate’s new friend Lisa, a Chihuahua toting ex-WAG, is primed for a fresh start – until her footballer ex-husband is found dead and she is vilified in the gutter press. But Kate, Lisa and Ben aren’t the only ones having a midlife crisis; local shop owner Martin dreams of escaping his dutiful marriage, and develops an unhealthy obsession with Lisa and her friends in Eden Hill.

Alongside a colourful cast of friends and family, Kate, Lisa, Ben and Martin are living proof that older does not always mean wiser because in Eden Hill, there’s temptation around every corner.

My Thoughts & Review:

When I first read the description of this book I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, it sounds like women’s fiction but with an added edge.  The plot begins with a break in at the home of the central character Kate, which is the catalyst for her and her husband Neil, moving to the idyllic newly built estate outside London in Eden Hill.

The move to the their new home means that Neil finds the lengthy commute to London tiresome and soon takes up the offer of a sofa to sleep on from a friend in London, leaving Kate to her own devices in a strange new location.  Initially withdrawn, Kate is lonely and misses the hubub of City life, misses her friends but soon joins the local gym and takes on a dog for company.

The reader is then introduced to a varied cast of characters, Lisa who was once married to a football star, Ben an ageing pop star who happens to be Kate’s ex boyfriend, and Martin and Jan Bevan who own the local carpet shop.  Each of these characters has their own intricately woven tale that culminates in a plot rich with detail and the theme of people taking stock of life once they near 50.  The plot is intriguing, I found I was keen to read on to find out what was going to happen next with Kate, and strangely, I felt at times I was more interested in the parallel storyline of Martin and Jan.  Seeing how Martin struggled with what appeared to be a midlife crisis whilst supporting his wife who was suffering from crippling depression made for interesting and enlightening reading.

There were times that that this book read like a synopsis of the latest episode of a soap opera, this character gossiping about that one, who was doing what with whom, and so on, but on the whole the writing is good and the story flows well.
Whilst there are some serious issues written into the plot, there are also ample light hearted moments to offset this, making it quite a well rounded read and quite a good book for packing in your suitcase for your summer holidays!

 

You can buy a copy of “Seeking Eden” directly from directly from Urbane Publications here, or alternatively via  Amazon UK | Book Depository


Author Feature:

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I’ve always written and told stories, for as long as I can remember. My first self published work at the age of seven, fully illustrated in felt pen and crayon. I continued with a series of insightful ‘When I grow up I want to be an author’, essays, and an attempt at a ‘Bonk-buster’ series of supernatural thrillers written from a position of utter ignorance on all topics, until I was distracted by Art college. A never ending, or never finished, fantasy epic kept me going through my twenties, but it was motherhood in my thirties which concentrated my mind enough to actually finish a novel. It’s amazing what a bit of life experience and the sudden curtailing of your free time can do to concentrate the mind.

After that I began giving myself permission to take my writing seriously enough to spend time on it and actually listen to critiques. The writing festival in York proved invaluable, and time and disappointment got me to the point of producing something readable, which I was lucky enough to have read by Urbane publications.

If you make or write anything, the number one question you get asked is ‘where do you get your ideas from?’ In answer to that question, it’s an easy process which combines working on your craft every hour you can for as long as possible – hard graft – reading as much as you can of everyone else’s work – stealing – and inspiration, which is just one of those things that just happens. The inspiration for ‘Nemesister’ comes from a dark episode of family history, and a moment from a dream; an image of a man standing in the doorway of what I knew was an abandoned shack, which was gone as soon as it came and yet lingered, the way some dreams do.

 

What’s your most favourite thing about being an author?

Writing. I know that sounds a bit simplistic, but writing, the act of it, chance to have these words and people and ideas come tumbling out onto the page is one of the best feelings ever. I have always written, from when I can remember being able to write, though as I’m dyslexic and old enough to come from a time when that was just labeled as stupid, my early writing was quixotic to say the least. But that didn’t matter, I have always told stories inside my head and on paper, then on an old sticky typewriter and finally a lap top, and the chance to have other people read them is just amazing.

If you could have written any book what would it be and why?

Right now it would have probably been ‘The Power’ by Namoi Alderman, simply because it is such an audacious idea, and because it’s so simple and yet so thoroughly realised. It say so much about where we are now, like all good Sci-fi, and yet is a really good read too, never letting its central ideas become polemic.

How do you spend your time when you’re not wrapped up plotting your next book?

Well, apart from being a mum to two kids, one still a baby, I am a tutor for Kent Adult Education, where I devise and run a huge range of arts based workshops. This means that when I’m not teaching them, I’m building up pintrest boards and creating samples work out new ideas. So yes, while I’m working out the twisted excesses of the human psyche, I’m also making pom-pom chandeliers, needle felt animals and steam-punk dolls’ houses.

Do you have a set routine for writing?  Rituals you have to observe? I.e. specific pen, silence, day or night etc.

I wish I did! I have to snatch time to write at the moment, as my son is only one year old, so I tend to write when I can and where I can. I try and make myself write at least 500 words a day no matter what, and I have a rule of never reading anything I’ve written until I’ve done a first draft. Write, don’t think is my maxim – thinking is for tomorrow.

 

A huge thank you to Sophie for taking part and for sharing some more about herself, and I have to say I love the idea of making needle felt animals whilst your mind is on considerably less innocent things.  I’ll definitely be sure to head over to Pinterest later for ideas of fun things to create with my mini monster.
If you would like to know more about Sophie and her book check out her website .

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If you are an independent publisher or author and would like to feature on “Celebrating Indie Publishing” Friday please get in touch – email and twitter links are on the “About Me & Review Policy” page.

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Hello and happy Friday!  Welcome along to another post to “Celebrate Indie Publishing” and this week the book being featured is “Beware the Cuckoo” by Julie Newman, and the author in the spotlight is Simon Michael.

 


Book Feature:

Published: 18 May 2017

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“Lies, deceit and dark secrets – this is a wonderfully addictive read” – Sheree Murphy, actress and television presenter

They were reunited at his funeral, school friends with a shared past. A past that is anything but straightforward. A past that harbours secrets and untruths.

Karen has a seemingly perfect life. An adoring husband, two wonderful children and a beautiful home. She has all she has ever wanted, living the dream. She also has a secret.

Sandra’s once perfect life is rapidly unravelling. The man who meant everything to her had a dark side and her business is failing. To get her life back on track she needs to reclaim what is rightfully hers. She knows the secret.

As the past meets the present, truths are revealed – and both women understand the true cost of betrayal.

My Thoughts & Review:

It’s not often that a book leaves me genuinely stumped about how to review it.  On the one hand there was a very luring mystery aspect to the plot of this book, but there was also a plot line that I found very uncomfortable to read and if I’m honest I don’t think I would have picked this book up had I known about it.   Abuse of any sort makes for harrowing reading but when it features heavily in a book it puts a reader in a difficult position.  Do they continue reading and hope that this aspect of the plot is handled sensitively and remains utterly relevant to the story or do they stop reading there and then and forever wonder what happens in the other parts of the plot?  This was  a quandary I found myself in earlier this week.

I would urge caution to readers who may find the abuse detail too much.  The mystery element of the book is written well, the creeping darkness that looms as Karen and Sandra’s shared past is recounted gives the reader a gripping read and the prologue really does grab you.  The pace of this is quite brisk, and the number of secrets that are buried in the plot keep readers on their toes.
Sandra was a character that I struggled to connect with, she was very vain and spoiled as a youth and seemed not have changed much in adulthood.  Karen on the other hand, a vulnerable youth, that survives to adulthood but is troubled by her past and the memories associated with it.  Neither of these women were particularly likeable but I think this helped give a sense of detachment when reading this.

You can buy a copy of “Beware the Cuckoo” directly from directly from Urbane Publications here, or alternatively via  Amazon UK | Book Depository


Author Feature:

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Simon Michael is the author of the best-selling London 1960s noir gangster series featuring his antihero barrister, Charles Holborne.  Simon writes from personal experience: he was a barrister for 37 years and worked in the Old Bailey and other criminal courts defending and prosecuting a wide selection of murderers, armed robbers, con artists and other assorted villainy during what was often considered the “Wild West” of British justice.  The 1960s was a time when the Krays and the Richardsons and other violent gangs fought for control of London’s organised crime, and the corrupt Metropolitan Police beat up suspects, twisted the evidence and took their share of the criminal proceeds.   Simon weaves into his thrillers genuine court documents from cases on which he worked and the big stories of the 1960s.

Simon was a successful author in the 1980s, published here and in the USA, and returned to writing when he retired from the Bar in 2016.  The first two books in the Charles Holborne series, The Brief published in September 2015 and An Honest Man published in July 2016, have both garnered rave reviews for their authenticity and excitement.  The theme of Simon’s books is alienation; Holborne, who dabbled in crime and in serious violence before becoming a barrister, is an outsider both in the East End where he grew up and in the Temples of the law where he now practices, where he faces daily class and religious prejudice.  He has been compared to Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe and Dashiell Hammett’s Sam Spade, honourable men surrounded by corruption and violence, trying to steer an honest course.

The third book in the series, THE LIGHTERMAN, will be published in June 2017 and looks set to be another bestseller.

Simon lives with his wife and youngest child in Bedfordshire. He is a founder member of the Ampthill Literary Festival and a former trustee and chairman of the Road Victims Trust, a charity devoted to supporting those bereaved or suffering life changing injury on the roads.

 

What’s your most favourite thing about being an author?

I can lose myself in a parallel world, one very similar to the one I inhabit, but where I control the outcomes.  I can present my characters, in particular Charles Holborne – who bears more than a passing resemblance to me – with the same life choices, the same moral dilemmas and the same dangers that I have faced and have him do better than I did.  It’s a mixture of escapism and self-therapy.

What’s your least favourite thing about being an author? 

The inverse of the previous answer: the area where I have no control, i.e. the business side of things.  Like every author I feel that I’m writing something worth reading.  More than that, I also believe I have something to say about the darker side of human nature, how we are all a mix of good and evil, and how in the end good usually prevails.  But having spent months crafting, tweaking and polishing to produce work of the best possible quality I can manage, I have no control over whether the book is a bestseller or it sinks into the abyss with thousands of others.  There’s a huge market out there, and it’s so disheartening how authors of the highest quality (and I’m not talking about myself) just don’t get noticed; so often authors with distinctive voices don’t get the prominence or the sales they deserve.  On the other hand complete and utter copycat pap finds its way onto the best-seller lists because it happens to be the flavour of the month, or because the Amazon behemoth decides to put its marketing heft behind it.  It’s iniquitous, random and dispiriting.

If you could have written any book what would it be and why?

There are too many to mention, but one book that I have returned to over and again during my life is The Adventures of Hiram Holliday by Paul Gallico.  I first read it in my late teens or perhaps early 20s when I was quite impressionable, and it had a lasting impact on me.  It is set in the late 1930s just as the Nazis are taking over Germany, against the backdrop of a Europe that was shortly to disappear forever.  It is the story of a mild-mannered rather portly old-fashioned American gent who turns out to have the heart and soul of a real hero, and some surprisingly useful talents.  He is not in the least brash and hides his light under a bushel.  He is the sort of gentleman (and hero) I have always aspired to be.

How do you spend your time when you’re not wrapped up plotting your next book?

I do a lot of talks to book groups, clubs and associations (for example the WI), and really enjoy it.  Unlike most authors, I don’t talk directly about my writing but about my family’s unusual history, my journey from council labourer to barrister, some of the entertaining stories and personalities I have encountered at the Bar and the themes which inspire my books.  After 38 years of public speaking, I hadn’t realised the extent to which I would miss it when I retired from active practice.  Speaking to these groups allows me to continue performing.

I also spend a lot of time doing research (which I like – and which can be very seductive unless you force yourself eventually to get down to the actual writing); marketing (which I dislike) and social media (which I loathe, but see as a necessary evil).

Finally, I have bought a very old rambling farmhouse in Gascony, which I adore, and I go there for peace and tranquillity as often as I can.  My wife still works, so she and my adult children join me as often as their schedules permit.

Do you have a set routine for writing?  Rituals you have to observe? I.e. specific pen, silence, day or night etc.

I don’t have any routine for writing and I desperately need to create one!  My wife and family accuse me of having a “butterfly mind”, which flits from subject to subject and task to task.  If my wife is to be believed, it makes me extremely unproductive.  I point out that I had a very successful career at the Bar for over 30 years, and in less than three years since I took on my last case I have written four novels, not to mention creating the website, doing the marketing, social media, blogging, and so on.  Not bad for someone who is unproductive.

However, she is right to this extent: I need to work to a proper schedule and divide the day into sections for social media/marketing chores, actual writing, and domestic/childcare stuff.  At present it’s the writing time which gets squeezed and squeezed, moved further and further towards the end of the list, and sometimes never reached at all.  And, after all, that’s the bit I like the best.

I have no particular rituals.  When I do get to the writing I sit at my desk, wake up the computer and start.  Once there, four or five hours will pass without my even noticing.

A huge thank you to Simon for taking part and for sharing some more about himself, and I have to say that I did go and look up The Adventures of Hiram Holliday after it was mentioned as it sounds like a book I’d enjoy, and it’s currently at the top of my birthday wish list for next month along with The Lighterman .
If you would like to know more about Simon and his books check out his website or follow him on twitter @simonmichaeluk

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If you are an independent publisher or author and would like to feature on “Celebrating Indie Publishing” Friday please get in touch – email and twitter links are on the “About Me & Review Policy” page.

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Hello and happy Friday!  Welcome along to another post to “Celebrate Indie Publishing” and this week I’m excited to share a review of “The Scarlet Coven” by David Stuart Davis and shine the spotlight firmly into the eyes of James Silvester to see if I can make him squirm with my questions!


Book Feature:

Published: 20 April 2017

Description:

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New York 1936. Leading New York detective Simon Finch has received an unexpected inheritance and left the force to pursue his dream of becoming a writer. But a true detective is never far from finding trouble…or trouble finding him… A stranger approaches Finch in the Algonquin Hotel, asking him to help find his sister who has disappeared. When he later visits the man’s hotel room he discovers that he has been murdered – stabbed with a dagger decorated with strange markings. As Finch investigates further he discovers recently acquitted crime boss Fats Molloy is mixed up with the man’s murder and the missing sister. The trail leads him to an occult bookshop …has the missing woman been kidnapped by a group of Satanists, The Scarlet Coven? Joining forces with a black private eye, Patrick Murphy, who is also investigating the cult, they endure a series of wild adventures and close calls with demonic forces as they seek the truth about the mysterious leader of the Coven…and the nefarious plans for death and mayhem…

My Thoughts & Review:

From the moment I started reading this book I knew I was onto something good, the opening chapter piqued my interest and I needed to keep reading.  Simon Finch was a character that I wanted to know more about, what was going to happen in the court case he was part of, who was the strange man that approached him in the Algonquin Hotel,  and who murders the man just hours after speaking to Finch?

As a fan of crime thrillers this book was a perfect read for me, the fantasy element did give me a little pause but part of this feature is about me stepping out of my comfort zone and trying something different.  Thank goodness I did, not only does the plot sound intriguing, it also works really well.  There is layer upon layer of mystery within the plot, on one hand there is the investigation that Finch becomes entangled with but there is also the riddle of who the master of the secret satanic coven is and how far the reach of the coven extends, and the two become mixed together in a whirlwind of mayhem.

The pace of the book moves along briskly, pithy and witty dialogue between characters keeps the narrative interesting whilst giving glimpses into the personalities in play.  Both Simon Finch and his wife Laura are characters that I loved.  They work well together and they way they play off one another makes for some funny reading but there is a genuine concern between the pair that is touching to read.
The prevailing menace that emanates from the pages where Ambrose De Lacy is concerned is well written, the reader is aware that this is a character to distrust, someone who holds dark secrets as well as power.

Whilst a step away from my usual gritty crime thrillers, this was an enjoyable read nonetheless and one I would recommend to fans of thrillers with a fantasy edge.

You can buy a copy of “The Scarlet Coven” directly from directly from Urbane Publications here, or alternatively via  Amazon UK | Book Depository

 


Author Feature:

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Years after marvelling at the stories of the 1968 Spring and the Velvet Revolution, James found himself sat in a Prague Blues Bar falling in love with the city in person. A graduate of Politics and Modern History, and a long standing blues DJ for Modradiouk.net, James’s affection for the atmospheric, dark and seedy Cold War thrillers of old was reawakened by his growing affection for this cobbled land of gothic secrets and his writing bone began to itch. James’s career has covered a myriad of roles across the public and private sectors including high level technical recruitment and business development, to his current role within HR Consultancy; and it was a bad day at the office which persuaded him to finally act upon his long held dream of writing. The result was his 2015 debut novel Escape to Perdition, which reflected his love both of central Europe and the espionage genre and was met with wide spread acclaim. James has also written for The Prague Times and his work has been featured by Doctor Who Worldwide and travel site An Englishman in Slovakia. He is currently developing a number of projects across a variety of media. A diehard Whovian, Man City fan, Rum drinker and Christian, James is an unrepentent member of the 48%.

The Prague Ultimatum is his second book and will be published by Urbane in April 2017.

 

What’s your most favourite thing about being an author?

Good question, and there are many contenders! I’m tempted to say the moment you first open the parcel from your publisher, containing your book, and lift out that first copy; the smell of it, the feel of it, and the knowledge that the words inside it are yours… that takes some beating. But ultimately, for me at least, it’s each time a review, good or bad, is posted online, or you see your book move up the charts. That’s the moment that it hits home that people, maybe a few, maybe a lot, are reading your words and care enough one way or the other to give an opinion on them. That’s the most satisfying bit.

What’s your least favourite thing about being an author? 

The time constraints. I still have a day job and I have young kids to look after, as well as an elderly parent whom I’m the primary carer for, so finding the time to write consistently can be difficult. I have to admit that when I’m working on a project I can be a bit of a grumpy sod and it’s inevitably the people around me who suffer my moods. I very much dislike that about myself.

If you could have written any book what would it be and why?

Oooh… To be honest, my thoughts on this change quite frequently. When I look at the world today I’d say 1984 because you can see the seeds of so much in that book being sown all around us, and it becomes more important on a daily basis. From the point of view of ‘my genre’, of espionage thrillers, then I’d love to have written The Spy Who Came In From The Cold.  That remains a masterpiece which completely redefined the genre. No-one has come close to capturing the mood of that book, in my opinion.

How do you spend your time when you’re not wrapped up plotting your next book?

Marketing the last one! In all seriousness, part of the deal when you work in collaboration with an indie publisher is that you’ll match the effort the publisher puts in when trying to get your work ‘out there’ and noticed. Matthew Smith, the Urbane Founder is an absolute superstar and the effort he puts into his authors is immense; it’s only right that I do my best to match it. So, when I’m not actively writing or planning new projects, I’m all over social media trying to sell what I’ve done, trying to give fellow authors help wherever possible and just trying to grow my network. Success is a long game and you need to be patient.

Do you have a set routine for writing?  Rituals you have to observe? I.e. specific pen, silence, day or night etc.

It’s not a deliberate routine from any kind of superstitious perspective, but I pretty much inevitably end up doing most of my writing at night. It’s only when I’ve done the tea, got the kids to bed etc. that I can finally sit down and work on something, unless I take the day off work to write, in which case I go to my local library to do it.  I have to work either in silence or if I’m in public with earphones to avoid distraction (only instrumental music, no lyrics). If I’m under more pressure time wise due to my other commitments, I try and abide by a self-imposed rule of 1000 words per day.

A huge thank you to James for taking part and for sharing some more about himself, and I definitely agree with him on “The Spy Who Came In From The Cold” – nothing has come close to that yet!
If you would like to know more about James and his books check out his website or follow him on twitter @JamesSilvester1

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If you are an independent publisher or author and would like to feature on “Celebrating Indie Publishing” Friday please get in touch – email and twitter links are on the “About Me & Review Policy” page.

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