An Audience with an Author – Carol Wyer, Surfing in Stilettos

I had the pleasure of meeting Carol Wyer last year at the Bedford Festival of Romance and what a whirlwind of a lady she is! 🙂

Carol writes warm and witty novels with the general theme of growing old disgracefully and is a signed author with ThornBerry Publishing and Safkhet Publishing.

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 Anyway, I’m giving my blog over to Carol today as she launches her Surfing in Stilettos novel

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He who laughs…lasts

My mother who is a chain-smoking, party-loving octogenarian has a lot to answer for. I have finally worked out that she is to blame for my irrepressible sense of humour. It is thanks to her that I find almost anything amusing.

Yesterday, my very own grumpy old man and I were headed for the shops, when we noticed a sign near the town that read ‘Resurfacing Works. Starting April 2nd’. Given that the grumpy one has complained about this stretch of road every time we travel it (which is at least three times a week) for the last six, yes, six years, I thought he would be delighted to learn that the road is finally to be resurfaced. Alas, no. He fell into an even bigger funk than usual. Why? The repairs are going to take four months to complete. He then spent the next few hours complaining about the inefficiency of our workforce, the diabolical states of the roads and potholes. He moaned so much he hadn’t worked out that I had, in fact put on my iPod, and was drowning him out with The Killers, all six albums that I have on my iPod for such occasions. For some childish reason, the more he complained, the more I wanted to laugh at him. It was just so funny to see him beetroot red and almost exploding with annoyance.

I told my mum about it and she too fell about laughing. “Only in the UK could a tiny piece of road take four months to repair,” she chuckled, gleefully glugging back a glass of wine. “It’ll take them a week to set out all the cones and find the traffic lights, and then they’ll need a few more days off because it’ll no doubt rain.” She sniggered and took a long drag of her cigarette and giggled some more. “I might drive by. I could do with cheering myself up leering at some workmen, and making them nervous as I keep going backwards and forwards through road works, waving at them as I go.” That’s her answer to everything. See the funny side of it. I’m not saying that she doesn’t find some things difficult, of course she does. When she fell off her high-heels running for a taxi and broke her hip, it wasn’t amusing at all, but she got over the weeks of pain by watching comedies on television and reading books by Terry Pratchett. She has taught me that finding amusing things in life can see you through the harder times.

I like to practice what I preach, and if I am not out giving talks on ‘ageing disgracefully’ to WI meetings, or ‘The Importance of Laughter’, then you’ll find me writing articles and books that will hopefully help someone feel better about life. The more I write, the funnier I seem to find things, especially the ridiculous things in life that can drag us down. Discovering you have lost all the hairs in your left eyebrow but are now sprouting a fine moustache can knock your confidence. Better to just shrug your shoulders, and distract yourself with some loud music, comedies and a large bag of wine gums.

If you feel a little low and you are struggling with life then take a dose of humour medicine. Put on some seventies music, have a little dance round the kitchen and then either watch a funny DVD or read a light-hearted book. You’ll soon find you feel better, have a smile on your face and will be singing along to ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.

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You can find out more about Carol and her books on her webside www.carolewyer.co.uk

This book tour was arranged by Fiction Addiction Book Tours, to find out more, click on the image below.

fiction addiction book tours

Behind the Book and Cover Reveal : ‘The Red Effect’ by Harvey Black

Today I’m delighted to have on my blog, author of military thrillers, Harvey Black.

Harvey is here to talk about the historical facts behind his novel ‘The Red Effect’ and to reveal the cover. Over to you Harvey …

“Today, West German imperialism is United States’ chief ally in Europe in aggravating world tension. West Germany is increasingly becoming the seat of the war danger, where revenge-seeking passions are running high… The policy pursued by the Federal Republic of Germany is being increasingly determined by the same monopolies that brought Hitler to power.

The Rhineland politicians fancy that once they get the atomic bomb, frontier posts will topple and they will be able to achieve their cherished desire of carving up the map of Europe again and taking revenge for defeat in the second world war.

One of the most ominous factors endangering peace is the bilateral military alliance that is taking shape between the ruling circles of the United States and the Federal Republic of Germany. This factor remains an objective of unflagging attention.” (Leonid Brezhnev, 23rd Party Congress, March 1966)

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The Cold War and Nitroglycerin had one thing in common, both were stable when circumstances allowed. But, when something rocks the boat, or events are overtaken by Incidents that get out of control, the status quo is lost. The consequence is an eruption that is both violent and lethal.

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The Cold War trilogy will trace the Cold War as it simmers, overheats and eventually turns East against West. The outcome? Start with ‘The Red Effect’ out in April, followed by ‘The Black Effect’ and ‘The Blue Effect’.

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1983: The Cold War has been in existence since the end of World War Two. Although tensions have always been fraught between the Western nations and the members of the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact, common sense prevailed.

Until, as a consequence of the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, the shooting down of a Korean passenger aircraft in 1983, and the relentless build up of Soviet military strength, everything is about to change.

In a panoramic novel, readers travel from centres of power to the front lines – a war is brewing and events are happening at every angle. Is the Cold War about to turn hot? Can NATO forces endure a mass strike by thousands of Soviet tanks? Can the West survive?

Follow the series of gripping events that culminated in ‘The Red Effect’, in the first instalment of Harvey Black’s Cold War trilogy.

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Harvey Black is a qualified parachutist. Harvey served with British Army Intelligence for over ten years. His experience ranged from covert surveillance in Northern Ireland to operating in Communist East Berlin during the cold war, where he feared for his life after being dragged from his car and attacked by Russian KGB soldiers. Since then he has lived a more sedate life in the private sector as a Director for an International Company, but now enjoys the pleasures of writing.

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Thank you Harvey and very best of luck with ‘The Red Effect‘, I shall certainly be reading it 🙂
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An Audience with an Author … Christina Courtenay

I am delighted to have Award Winning ChocLit author, Christina Courtenay with me today. I’ve always loved Christina’s books and her latest The Gilded Fan was no exception. I asked Christina if she could talk about the Far East influence.

TheGILDED_FAN_frontThe Gilded Fan is the sequel to my novel The Scarlet Kimono (although it can be read as a stand-alone), and both these stories were inspired by the Far East in general and Japan in particular.  It’s a fascinating part of the world and whenever I’m lucky enough to go there, I fall in love with it all over again.

I can’t really explain why I like it so much and it wasn’t something that happened overnight.  In fact, the first time I went to Japan I cried for days because I didn’t want to be there!  That may sound crazy, but if you consider that I was a teenager at the time (just turned sixteen) and had left behind my very first serious boyfriend in order to move with my family halfway across the world, it might be more understandable.  As it happened, I soon forgot all about him.  The three years I lived in Tokyo turned out to be the best of my life!

Looking back, I think the Japanese culture slowly seeped into me and I began to appreciate all the great things about it.  Most of all, it’s a beautiful place steeped in history – not the skyscrapers perhaps, but the little traditional buildings squeezed in between them, the parks, the temples and the shops and markets.  Even food is always displayed in an attractive way, tempting you to eat far too much!

So this then is the country in which the heroine of The Gilded Fan, Midori, has grown up.  Imagine her feelings when she has to leave it behind and travel back to Europe (my journey in reverse, you might say).  It’s not something she wants to do, but she has no choice – it’s either leave Japan or die.  I totally empathised with her as I didn’t have much choice either, but I didn’t have to travel alone!  It’s lucky for Midori that she’s a lot more stoical than I was and that she meets a sea captain willing to protect her …

One thing this story doesn’t have is a dog – my characters usually always have one as I love them myself, but for this particular story it wasn’t practicable for various reasons.  We, on the other hand, were crazy enough to bring our dog along when we moved to Japan.  A big rough collie, he looked so much like Lassie that whenever we walked him we were stopped by people thinking he was the canine movie star.  He took it all in his stride (he probably thought he deserved all the adulation) and didn’t mind being called Lassie.  And I never let on either, as my grasp of the Japanese language wasn’t up to it.  So there may be people over there who think they’ve met an icon, who knows? 🙂

Many thanks for having me as your guest, Sue!

Blurb:-

How do you start a new life, leaving behind all you love?

It’s 1641, and when Midori Kumashiro, the orphaned daughter of a warlord, is told she has to leave Japan or die, she has no choice but to flee to England. Midori is trained in the arts of war, but is that enough to help her survive a journey, with a lecherous crew and an attractive captain she doesn’t trust?

Having come to Nagasaki to trade, the last thing Captain Nico Noordholt wants is a female passenger, especially a beautiful one. How can he protect her from his crew when he can’t keep his own eyes off her?

During their journey, Nico and Midori form a tentative bond, but they both have secrets that can change everything. When they arrive in England, a civil war is brewing, and only by standing together can they hope to survive…

Links for Christina Courtenay

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Available in ebook and paperback format AMAZON UK link  and AMAZON.COM link

Website www.christinacourtenay.com

Facebook : christina.courtenay.9

Twitter : @PiaCCourtenay

Choclit Publishers

An Audience with an Author – Linn B Halton

It’s a great pleasure to drop by and visit you today Sue and tell you all about my latest book, Never Alone.

It’s the last of five manuscripts I wrote when I first began writing in 2009. At that time I hadn’t thought beyond the writing process, really! I had absolutely no idea how long it takes to go through the editing process and get a book out there. In the meantime I signed with Sapphire Star Publishing for two of those five manuscripts and decided I would also self-publish. I enjoy being able to mix it up and it has been a positive in terms of what I’ve learnt about the processes and publishing. It also means I can easily mix genres – so I now have one chick lit, three with a psychic hint to them and one true story.

With my debut novel (Touched By The Light) I really enjoyed weaving the complicated twists in the storyline and when I wrote Never Alone I set myself a challenge. Could I write a story and keep that ‘twist’ to the very end, whereas with Touched By The Light it unravels much earlier in the process. I wondered whether the readers would spot the subtle clues in Never Alone or be shocked when they read the final chapter.

I’m awaiting the first reviews, but early feedback I’ve had includes:

“I have hardly thought of anything else since I read it….that’s a good thing I think. In fact, I want to re-read it to make sure I didn’t miss any ‘hints’…I already re-read the ending right after I finished!”

“Thought provoking to say the least!”

“My jaw dropped open…”

As far as initial reactions go, I’m delighted! This story is meant to make readers think about life, the decisions we make and how we can often be guilty of living one day at a time without thinking too much about the future. That’s fine if you are happy, but what if that isn’t the case and you are choosing to gloss over it, because facing up to it means change? That’s the position Holly finds herself in, despite having ‘the perfect’ life…

A contemporary romance with a Twist!

NeverAlonecover“It’s a gift to be shown something that allows you to make a difference and alter the outcome of someone else’s life.neveralonegirl However, the weight of the responsibility that goes along with that is huge and what about the ethics? The thing I have to ask myself, is how did my actions change the future?” Holly Elizabeth Atherton

Holly is the envy of all her friends, she has lived with the gorgeous Will for five years and supported him every step of the way. His IT business is about to go global and they are on the verge of having all their dreams come true!  A life split between homes in the UK and Los Angeles beckons, offering them a glamorous and exciting lifestyle they will both fit into quite perfectly. So when Will pops the question, why won’t Holly say ‘yes’?

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neveralonemale2A series of terrifying encounters unleashes an inherited psychic connection within Holly. Her ‘perfect’ life is turned upside down as she struggles with the reality of her ‘gift’. Help comes from a chance meeting with medium Peter Shaw and she discovers that she is also being given healing and protection by the spirits of two people. One of them is her best friend’s brother, Nick, who died suddenly in tragic circumstances. Holly finds herself confiding in him in an attempt to sort out her own life.

She begins to sense that the path she’s on isn’t the one she’s destined for, but is it too late to change things? The thought of hurting the people she loves the most causes her to bury her emotions, until fate takes a hand………..

Life’s all about the choices we make …

Thanks so much Sue for being a part of my Fiction Addiction Book Tour and for being a fab host!

Linn’s links:

Website 
A loveahappyending.com author
Signed by:http://www.sapphirestarpublishing.com/linnbhalton
Twitter: @LinnBHalton
Facebook: Linn B Halton
Romantic Novelists’ Association page

Amazon.co.uk (buy)
Amazon.com (buy)

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It’s been a pleasure to have Linn here today and I would like to thank Fiction Addiction Book Tours for organising this.

An Audience with an Author … Nicky Wells

So pleased to be having my friend and writing buddy here today, Nicky Wells author of Sophie’s Turn.  We’ve had quite a year between us and I’m delighted that Nicky has got the publishing deal she very much deserves.

Wow, Sue! Thanks for having back here today on this, my official launch tour for Sophie’s Turn. When I first visited you last year, you were the second blogger ever to review my work, and hasn’t it been a journey since? I remember being timid and totally in awe by what you achieve and do. Then we became friends through Loveahappyending.com, and eventually started being writing buddies. And today, we’re celebrating together. Thank you for everything along the way, and thanks for showcasing Sophie’s Turn today. You rock.  [clears throat]

It’s been an absolute pleasure, I am thrilled for you, as you well know 🙂

Right, moving on swiftly before I get all emotional… let’s take a look at your questions.

Sophie’s Turn is your first published novel, did it take long to write?

That’s an interesting question.  It took me a few weeks to plan… I’d say, between two and four depending on how you interpret planning versus writing.  Then I wrote the entire first draft in about three months.  Birth of baby number one was a bit of an immovable deadline, and I definitely wanted it all done before then!  Then of course there were a few re-writes which took maybe a week here and there when I could snatch the time….  So all in all, I think writing Sophie’s Turn probably took the best part of six months.  That said, because of my family circumstances (and another baby coming along), the novel had a long time to ‘mature’ and I had the benefit of reading it ‘fresh’, almost as though I was a genuine reader, having not touched it for a few years at a time.  That helped:  but that’s also almost impossible to build into any writing plan, and now a thing of the past… my current novels are being fast-tracked by comparison!

Do you have a set place & time to write?

Sophie’s Turn was written in what later became the boys’ playroom.  The writing space for the sequel was a tiny little Ikea desk tucked into the corner of the dining room.  However, I also took to moving around the house with the laptop, so I quite often typed on the sofa in the lounge, at the dining room table proper (rather than the dinky desk) and, very occasionally, even in bed.  We’ve recently moved house, however, and I am now the proud owner of a dedicated desk in a study that I only partially share with my husbands’ music and the children’s computer.  I still roam the house though when I get bored of staring at the walls…

As for writing time, I write when the children are in school. I get home from the school run and put my head down, as it were. I have to allow a couple of hours each day for catching up with social networking sites, but when I write, the writing time is sacrosanct and I won’t even answer the phone!

You have a young family, where do you find the time and energy?

I mentioned the time constraints above… finding the energy, that’s an interesting one.  I think of myself as a one-trick-pony (i.e. can only ever do one thing well at any one time) and I also think of myself as perennially worn out.  Yet somehow it all gets done!  I’ve discovered that for me, the most important thing is not to dwell on how busy or tired I am, but to make a plan, portion my work, and stick to it.  As long as I keep going, I’m fine… And, of course, I do consume way too much chocolate!

Did you design your cover for Sophie’s Turn? Was it easy to come up with a design idea?

Now there’s an interesting question! The cover of Sophie’s Turn has been reborn twice now. The original cover was lovingly and artfully created by my husband. It featured a pink background and a sign post with a flower and a butterfly… it was beautiful and I will frame it and put it up on my ego wall at some point soon. However! After a while, I began to feel that it lacked a certain panache, a certain sophistication, a bit of a ‘wow’ factor. I hankered after something a little more glamorous and professional, and my wonderful husband was the first to suggest to move the cover on to the next level. I felt disloyal but he wouldn’t hear of it! So I asked a long-time friend and erstwhile colleague whether she would like to help with redesigning the cover. Jessie went through various iterations, working with the initial concept at first but it just wasn’t zinging. Eventually, I gave her carte blanche and she came back with a fantastic design, shades of purple featuring the merry-go-round and the Eiffel Tower that are on the cover today. I fell in love instantly, as did husband!  Sapphire Star Publishing also loved the cover and took it up yet another level of glamour and wow-factor by making a few subtle but highly effective changes. Et voilà!

Did Sophie’s Turn end up as you originally envisaged or did it change as your wrote?

A little bit of both!  Owing to several iterations of planning, I had the story line very much clear in my head before I started typing.  However, these pesky characters developed a habit of taking wrong turns, inventing new events, or creating problems or diversions that I had not anticipated.  That was actually a very interesting process because at times I felt like I was reading the book while I was writing it.  From previous experience, I know that those are also the incidents that can totally derail the writing process and plot, so it was very useful to have a plan to rein things in again before they spun out of control.

Sophie’s Turn could have had more than one ending, I know I was surprised at the end, was it difficult to decide which way to take the story?

Ah!  That’s a brilliant question.  Let me put it this way without giving too much away.  There were at least three possible, credible outcomes.  (I did make up a few more to start with but they were really too far-fetched).  I knew what I really wanted Sophie to do, and what I would have wanted to have happened to me, had I been in her position.  However, I just couldn’t take the novel there.  I tried, briefly, but it was all very unsatisfactory.  So in the end it was down to Sophie to decide.  There’s a scene when she sees herself at the crossroads… that was all real thought, that was me typing away furiously while Sophie was assessing her options.

Did you do any particular research for the rock group Tuscq in Sophie’s Turn?

I’m afraid to admit that I didn’t.  But then I didn’t need to, I had years of teenage star-struckness to draw on, a vast repository of knowledge about several rock bands, experience of going to concerts, knowledge (from teenage and music magazines) of the touring process… Films like ABBA: The Movie, This is Spinal Tap and Rock Star also offered some helpful insights.  And I just may or may not have met the odd band here or there, once or twice.

Is Dan based on a particular rock star?

Dan is the amalgamation of many lead-singers.  Plus he incorporates some of the best (and worst) traits of people I know, have heard of, or read about.  He is a true bona fide made-up-but-hopefully-still-credible rock idol.  J

Sophie has to make some difficult decisions – did you find it easy to make the choices for her?

Not always.  As I mentioned above, some of her choices were mine, and were choices I would make.  These were the easy ones.  Some other things she does and does not do gave me a real headache.  I don’t think I would have had the gumption to tell the man of I’m dreams I was a virgin (even though I wasn’t); I don’t think I would have had the courage to accompany Dan to the Royal (or his suite); and I think I would have been too blinded to make her choice.  But this was all nail-biting stuff for me…

Without giving too much away, what is your favourite scene in Sophie’s Turn?

I have a few, actually.  The prologue is one: the sense of absolute heady elation and disbelief, the out-of-body wonderment of ‘if this really happening?’  That makes me feel good every time.  Next, it makes me smile when Rachel and Sophie have their morning pow-wow in the coffee shop and Sophie shouts out about s.e.x rather too loudly.  And I’m still quite in love with the scene where Dan has to hide in a cupboard…

Is Sophie anything like you or are you more like Rachel?

Sophie probably reflects my dreamy side, the one that yearns for a fairy tale ending.  But I can also be sarcastic and cutting, like Rachel; not something I’m immensely proud of but that can be very necessary.  Yet it is Rachel who sets Sophie straight on matters of true love and thunderbolt-and-lightning… again, that would be me.  So perhaps it’s fair to say that they distil, each in their own way, aspects of my own character.  If that’s not too scary a notion!

Will we be hearing from Sophie in the future?

Oh definitely!  The second book in the Trilogy, Sophie’s Run is completely finished and currently undergoing a first round of editing by me; it will be coming your way from Sapphire Star Publishing on 7 February 2013!  And the final part in the Trilogy… well, let’s say I have started writing, and I know how it’s all ending!

Sue, thank you so much for this opportunity to take part once again in your ‘audience with an author.’  I am thrilled to get this space on your blog, and I enjoyed answering your questions!

Click here for my review of Sophie’s Turn

Excerpt from Sophie’s Turn by Nicky Wells

“What the hell is going on here?” I hissed, trying to prevent others from hearing our exchange.

“Oh, Sophie, Dan’s turned up. Isn’t it amazing?” she beamed at me.

“I can see that,” I kept hissing, “But what is he doing here?”

Rachel was quite drunk herself and looked at me with those bleary eyes that usually meant she was up to no good. “Sophie,” she declared solemnly and rather loudly, “you have broken the man’s heart. He has come to reclaim you.” She wobbled unsteadily and I gripped her arm. Usually one to hold her liquor, party-girl Rachel had clearly gone too far tonight.

Shh!” I admonished. “Will you keep your voice down? What are you talking about?”

“Dan is completely besotted with you, and he said he couldn’t bear the thought of you getting engaged to Tim so he had to…hic…come and check him out…hic!” Oh God, she had the hiccups. She would have to spend the night in the guest room. Once Rachel got the hiccups, she was beyond salvation. I gave her twenty minutes before she collapsed. I had to extract critical information fast.

“Why did you introduce him to Tim?” I continued my interrogation. “Couldn’t you have sent him away?”

Oh no, Sophie. I couldn’t turn this lovely, heartbroken man away.” She looked at me with big, innocent, and totally unfocused eyes. “In fact, we were just looking for you. You seemed to have… hic… hic… hic…disapp-hic-eared.”

“What did you say to Tim about who Dan was?” I needed to know.

“That he was Dan, of course. Your boy-hic-friend from Tuscq!” She dropped this bombshell completely nonchalantly.

“You what?” I squeaked. “Please tell me you’re joking.”

No, I’m s-hic-erious! Ti-hic-im thought it was very funny. Hic.”

I wrung my hands and barely prevented myself from tearing at my hair. If Tim had thought it was funny, he must have thought Rachel was being facetious or winding him up. He had seen her drunk before — the experience hadn’t done anything to endear her to him in any way —so it was likely that he hadn’t paid the slightest bit of heed to the truth she was spouting. But I had to move, and fast.

“You,” I said to Rachel, grabbing her by the shoulders and steering her toward the stairs. “You have had enough to drink. You are going to bed.”

“I hic-am?” Rachel asked, surprised.

“Indeed,” I confirmed grimly and marched her up the stairs. “Right, here you are. Guest room. Bed. Now.” I propelled her forward and she flopped on the bed like a rag doll.

“Very ti-hic-hic-red,” she mumbled before passing out.

I, on the other hand, had sobered up dramatically and had only one thought left: damage limitation. I blundered back downstairs, racing quite unladylike in my high heels, and skidded to a halt in the lounge. There they were, companionably sitting in front of the stereo, playing DJ.

I clattered across the floor, grabbing a bottle of champers and three glasses off a table as I went. Tim looked up, and then sprang to his feet.

“And here she is,” he announced to Dan with no small measure of proprietary pride. “Doesn’t she look gorgeous?”

Dan rose to his feet, somewhat unsteadily, and looked me up and down. A sad smile played on his face for just the briefest of moments.

“She looks stunning, indeed. Congratulations to you both.” He walked over to me and planted a chaste kiss on my cheek. “Well done,” he said softly, and Tim beamed gratefully, completely unaware that the comment was aimed solely at me. In fact, he seemed completely besotted by Dan’s manly, famous presence.

“Dan here and I were just discussing rock music,” he informed me as though Dan were his new best friend.

I shuddered for a moment. God forbid.

“Dan has some very interesting views about the movement, you know?”

I winced and smiled a secret apologetic smile at Dan, but he was too drunk to notice anything patronizing in Tim’s comment. I had to separate the two before things got out of hand. Luckily, one of our other guests absolved me of thinking up more ruses by descending on Tim and whisking him away to the kitchen.

Dan and I regarded each other in silence.

“You do look beautiful,” Dan repeated, suddenly sounding a whole lot more sober.

I wanted to cry. “What are you doing here?” I whispered, not trusting my voice.

“I don’t really know,” he acknowledged. “I just felt…lonely. At a loose end. I had to see you and convince myself that…well, that it really is too late. You know?”

I was simultaneously touched and petrified. “I thought we’d agreed…,” I started, but Dan interrupted immediately.

LINKS FOR SOPHIE’S TURN

Sophie’s Turn is available in Kindle edition from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk and many other Amazon sites. The paperback edition is also available from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. In addition, you can obtain Sophie’s Turn from Barnes & Noble.

 

An Audience with an Author … Kathryn Brown

Today Kathryn Brown, author of Discovery at Rosehill, is my guest and talks about why she wrote paranormal. Last year I reviewed her novel which you can read by clicking on the link below.

Why I wrote Paranormal Romance

It had to be paranormal genre for my debut novel, I couldn’t possibly write about anything else. Inspired by my father’s visiting spirit, I decided to turn my experiences of the spirit world into a book after publishing some of them on my blog in the early days. I wanted to create a character who was strong but gentle, intelligent if not a little gullible, and above all, mysterious. Camilla Armstrong was based partly on myself. My fascination with the paranormal and the incredible experiences I’d had, were brought to ‘life’ and woven together to make a somewhat complicated existence make sense once the mystery surrounding Camilla’s life was unveiled.

For many years, I have been fascinated by the spirit world. My sensitivities to a world beyond our own were heightened when my father passed away in July 2001. Just like Camilla, I found my dream home, but unlike Camilla who was led to Rosehill by her grandmother, I was led to my home by my father. I could sense energy in the house since the day I moved in, the ambience was calm yet it was like a thousand eyes watched me constantly. I have never been afraid in my home because the spirits who share it with me, welcomed me with open arms. I believe everything happens for a reason and I most certainly believe moving to my home in Northumberland only six weeks after my father’s passing, was very much meant to be.

It wasn’t until 2007 that I decided to start making a log of the paranormal experiences I was encountering, some that were more prominent than others. I would feel someone watching me when I swept the staircase; I would see faces in the mirror on the half-landing, thus naming it, “the mirror with a thousand faces”. I would sense a woman walking up and down the stairs and then be greeted by the aroma of beef stew whilst walking through the halls. One day, I heard someone running down a corridor as though heading towards the bathroom where I was drying myself after having a shower. But when I called out my daughter’s name, assuming it to be her, I then glanced through the window and saw her playing outside. Sharing my home with previous occupants has never bothered me, not least because they have given me much to write about and a purpose to fulfil my dream of being published.

I wanted Camilla to be a real person, not just a part of me. So I introduced a love interest to her life, making him slightly controversial in the form of a vicar. Knowing that the two personalities wouldn’t mix, I wanted to give them a “will they-won’t they” type of relationship and keep the reader guessing about whether they’d ever get together. I’m not a very romantic person but I do like to read romance, and watch it on the television. Adding a twist to the love story of the book was a must, if only to make the reader see that Camilla is indeed a strong woman that does have a lot more to offer apart from mediumship.

LINKS ETC

Review of Discovery at Rosehill click here

Discovery at Rosehill – available at Amazon

Blog: Crystal Jigsaw

Paranormal Blog: Marvellous Mable

Email: crystal.jigsaw7@btinternet.com

Twitter: @CrystalJigsaw

Facebook: CrystalJigsaw

An Audience with an Author … Sheryl Browne, Recipes for Disaster

Today I’m delighted that Sheryl Browne, author of Recipes for Disaster, is visiting my blog to chat about why she writes and her road to publication.  It’s always great to hear from Sheryl, she has such a lovely, bubbly personality which I think shrines through in her writing.

The question most often asked of a writer seems to be, why do you write?  Applied to me, at least up until my recent publishing success, I think that question should read whatever possesses you to keep writing?

It’s a good question, and I think ‘possession’ is possibly the answer.  By and large, unless blessed with an inordinate amount of talent combined with good luck (ergo able to find that elusive unique selling point, make your characters compelling, your story captivating and then get it in front of the right eyes at the right time), an author’s debut novel tends not to be their first.  They’ve worked hard at it, most always editing and re-drafting, possibly re-writing the book in its entirety, or putting it to bed and moving on the next one.

As mentioned in other interviews, I am a creative soul by nature, my background being in Art & Design.  For me, creating a character through words in is not dissimilar to creating a portrait on canvas.  Whichever way you choose to paint, representational or abstract, you want dig deeper than skin surface and capture the essence of the person, to connect emotionally.

Writing, in my mind, is therefore as much an expression of emotion as sculpting or painting, and sometimes it pays to learn the skills of the trade, whether through creative writing courses, sharing through writers’ groups, learning from constructive feedback via dreaded rejections, employing editors.  Recently, I approached the Romantic Novelists’ Association in regard to editorial services on one of my previous books. The RNA recommended someone whose rates were affordable and whose help was invaluable.  Feedback from the RNA New Writers’ scheme is excellent incidentally, if you are fortunate to get on board with that, as I was some years back.

So, ‘why do I write’ ?  Possibly for the same reason I read or watch a film.  Like most writers, I want to connect with people, share emotionally with people, to escape to another place, cheer the hero/heroine on and come away satisfied.  Also, yes, I admit I am a little obsessed with the desire to get my work out there.  To make it as good as it can be, to get it published, to get feedback, which grants me permission to keep writing.  Ah, you might say, but you don’t need anyone’s permission.  Sadly, though, you do in a way.  Most writers juggle family and often day-jobs, and desperately need to justify being able to say, go away, I’m writing, without feeling guilty because it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.

You may have heard (or possibly not, because I haven’t been shouting very loudly… ahem) that I finally, finally, feel able to do just that, having recently had my book Recipes for Disaster published by wonderfully supportive Safkhet Publishing!

What Safkhet Publishing did for me in saying they loved my writing and, equally quietly J, cheering me on to write Recipes for Disaster, was to make me stay focussed; to believe in myself and stay true to my writing style.

I’ve used every single piece of constructive criticism I’ve had, taken on board suggestions from agents and publishers who were kind enough to offer advice, stored away editorial comment for future reference, but what I always tried to do was not stray too far from what I wanted to do: To make people smile.  My catharsis from those tedious, sometimes traumatic, life events ~ and let’s face it, we all have them ~ is to write. It is my emotional outlet. Through writing I hope to tap into other people’s emotions, but in a good way.  In a way that helps me and, more-importantly, the reader, leave his/her problems behind, at least for a while.

At last, I feel I’ve achieved my aim.  And now that Safkhet have offered me a further three-book contract under their new Safkhet Soul imprint, I feel I can go on doing what I know has bordered on obsession occasionally, because I am possessed ~ by a passionate spirit that will wither and die without writing.

In summary, finally, I’m glad of the journey, even though I got so very tired of the rejection sometimes, of coming close, but not close enough.  If anyone asks me that other question that often crops up: what advice would you give to aspiring writers(?), it would be: have one-to-one with yourself.  Be honest and ask yourself, is this a burning passion I truly can’t give up?  If the answer is an adamant yes, then don’t.  Keep at it, use every bit of advice ~ as long as it makes sense (and you know when it does) ~ and stay true to your art, because that’s what it is.

Phew.  Right, now I’ve got that off my chest, I’ll shut up!  Um, except…  No, no more from me.  Just the teeniest of extract from Safkhet’s press release re their new imprint, Safket Soul, which might just help a few people.  Here you go:

The first book in the imprint is Sheryl Browne’s Recipes for Disaster, which had a wonderful reception in its first week on the market: over 5,000 Kindle copies sold! Recipes for Disaster is deliciously different; fun recipes combined with romantic comedy make this book unique and cater to the romantic comedy and cookery readers at the same time. A man’s point of view also appeals to male readers who want to cook or learn how.

Sheryl originally approached Safkhet with her book previously published in the US. She knew Safkhet had no list for the type of book and yet was not quite ready to give up hope. Kim, the editor who received her submission, loved her writing style and asked if she would like to write a romantic comedy cookbook. Having just the recipe names to work with, Sheryl gave it a go and managed to convince everybody else on the Safkhet team that a new imprint was needed. An imprint for Sheryl’s books and more just like it. Something to cheer up the reader, something bright and something that combines fun reading with recipes.

Safkhet signed Sheryl for three more books to be released within the next 18 months. They will all be published both in print and for the Kindle. Safkhet will soon accept submissions for this new imprint; up to four titles are planned for publication per year.

There really are some fantastically supportive people out there.  Keep writing!

Recipes for Disaster

The shortest way to a man’s heart

Mix romantic comedy and step-by-step cooking instructions. Bake at 200 degrees for an entertaining read and handy guide.

She’s a single. He’s a widower. She wants him. He wants her. She wants to impress. So does he. There’s just one catch – she can’t cook. To get him, she needs to get past the big fish – his mother. Lucky her, she’s got an Ace up her sleeve and all she’s got to do is impress this one time. Bad luck, though, her new guy can’t cook either, her dog Rambo is on the loose and now they’ve got to pull off the big lunch at the club. Will it be a match made in heaven? Will they be able to pull off a culinary miracle? Will their combined efforts result in love at first bite? Or is it simply a Recipe for Disaster?

Format:                        Paperback.  Also available on Kindle

Available from:         Amazon, any local bookstore, or direct from Safkhet Publishing

Safkhet Publishing

http://www.safkhetpublishing.com/books/soul/9781908208057/Recipes_for_Disaster.html

Amazon.co.uk

http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=sheryl+browne&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Asheryl+browne&ajr=0

Amazon.com

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=sheryl+browne#/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=recipes+for+disaster&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Arecipes+for+disaster

Website: www.sherylbrowne.com

Author Facebook     http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Recipes-for-Disaster/245372252189480

Romantic Novelists’ Association http://www.romanticnovelistsassociation.org/index.php/about/author/sheryl_browne

loveahappyending featured Author http://loveahappyending.com/sheryl-browne/  

Twitter: @sherylbrowne


An Audience with an Author – Evonne Wareham plus Giveaway Book and Chocolate

Never Coming Home… The ‘Wispa It …’ Blog Tour

I am delighted that Evonne Wareham has stopped by on her book launch blog tour. I reviewed Never Coming Home recently and absolutely loved it. Published by ChocLit this thriller romance is a great addition to their catalogue.

‘Wispa It…’ Snippet No. 3

The woman was a looker. Still youthful, with a pale cashmere sweater and jeans, clinging to an admirable figure – but the expression lines around the eyes and mouth told him she was too mature to be the one he was looking for.

‘Can I help you?’ She’d taken a pace back, frowning, as if she was trying to place him.

‘My name is Devlin.’ He had a card ready. Not that it said a lot. He handed it over. She was frowning now at the slip of pasteboard in her hand.

‘Security consultant?’

‘I was hoping to see Mrs Elmore?’

‘Ah.’ She looked as if she was about to hand the card back. Instead she slipped it into a pocket. No reaction to his name, Devlin noted, puzzled.  ‘My daughter isn’t here at the moment. Perhaps you can call again.’ She was closing the door.

Devlin tamped down the gut reflex to stick his boot in the narrowing gap. The palm of his hand was the civilised way. ‘Can you just tell me when she will be home?’  He’d started this thing, now he had to finish it. Besides, there was something going on here that he didn’t understand.

That’s the third taster from the first chapter of Never Coming Home.  Another snippet on Tuesday  – Valentine’s Day!

The (very loose) theme of this tour — apart from the Wispa bit (Don’t forget to look at the bottom of the post. Your chance to win a copy of Never Coming Home, and a Wispa bar — but not now  — read this first.) is ‘How did I get here?’

So this blog post is about influences.  A lot of people who have read the book already have commented that it has an American feel to it.  It opens in America, and there are a number of scenes set there.  Devlin, the hero of the book, has a murky past and has changed his name and identity on more than one occasion.  When the book opens, he’s American.  As he says, it says so on his passport.  While the fact that the book was written while I was participating in an American writing contest may have had a lot to do with it, Devlin never felt like a Frenchman, or an Italian.  When the book opens he is on the road, about to be the first on the scene of a fatal car crash.  Somehow that road and that car crash could never be anywhere but America … and the rest followed from that.  I have family in America and spent a month there when I was an impressionable teenager.  Maybe something seeped in from that.

I love to travel, although lately it’s been more of the armchair variety, so other places I’ve visited get into the book too — with scenes in Italy and France.  I lived for a long time in London, including three years in Chelsea. Kaz, the heroine of the book lives there, running her landscape gardening business.  I’m not a landscape gardener, but I do like to potter with plants, and I love visiting horticultural shows, so that’s another influence seeping in.  If anyone asks me for tips on writing, I usually say that you should try to have fun doing it.  Using things and places you enjoy is the part of the fun.  Another big influence is reading.  If you read a lot, you can’t help but learn technique from other writers.  I take classes too — not just writing classes, though I have taken a few of those, but science, folklore — anything that might be useful, might provide a new insight — that might be fun.  The company of other writers is important — they really ‘get’ you when you have your writer’s hat on. Local writing groups are a possibility. The Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme is now quite difficult to get into, because of the demand, but if you can join, then it means a lot in terms of learning and socialising. And the RNA throws an excellent party …

The last influence that I’m aware of in my writing is my love of theatre — what makes a scene dramatic, how to end it on a note of suspense,  the contribution of dialogue, its rhythm and  the way characters overlap, the characters themselves and the way they slowly reveal themselves.

Those are the things that find their way into my writing. Every writer is different, which is why there are so many different kinds of book — which takes me back to reading …

Author’s Book Shelf

Favourite book – there are many, and plays too. I have a particular weakness for Jacobean drama — all that wickedness … but one of my favourite plays is Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. As well as being clever, funny and sad, it’s a reminder to writers of the way point of view can change the perspective of a scene. Two supporting characters see all the high points of Hamlet but are totally mystified because they are only getting a part of the story.

What I’m currently reading – I’m indulging in a spate of American authored historicals at the moment – currently it’s When the Duke Returns, by Eloisa James.

 A book I have not read but should have.  To Kill a Mockingbird.  This seems to be a very influential work for all sorts of people.  I’ve seen it on stage number of times, but never got round to reading it.

To enter the Giveaway Competition and a chance to win a copy of

NEVER COMING HOME

and a

WISPA CHOCOLATE BAR,

just leave a comment saying who you would want to walk you home on a dark night.

 The next installment of the ‘Wispa it …’ tour will be next Tuesday at the Katy Little Lady blog.

www.evonnewareham.com

http://evonneonwednesday.blogspot.com

http://blog.choc-lit.co.uk

An Audience with an Author …. Richard Holmes talks about life and luck

Being Looked After
I’ve been thinking lately how unbelievably lucky I am. Having said that, I’m sure it’s true to say that I’ve earned my luck over many lifetimes, but I can’t help thinking how unbelievably lucky I am that the Divine looks after me in the way that he/she does. Indeed, I am living proof that the phrase ”somebody up there must have been looking down on me” is very apt. In the earlier stages of this life I got myself into some sticky situations because of my naivety and desperation to ”belong” and later as a soldier stationed in Germany my choice of haunts left something to be desired; but miraculously I always seemed to avoid trouble. More recently my ignorance of certain matters has left me in extremely vulnerable situations, but again, I remain unscathed.
At the age of 14 I’d got in with the wrong crowd. I’d had very difficult relationships with my parents (for different reasons) and got sucked into friendships simply out of a desire to be accepted and to belong. I didn’t understand back then that to simply be me was the only identity I would ever need and went from living one lie to the other. These friends came and went because they were not true friends, but by the time I was 16 I was hanging out in the West End of London a few nights a week, specifically the soho area. I had been introduced to the area by one of these friends who was a couple of years older than me and much more worldly-wise. I took to hanging out in seedy clubs, sometimes not heading back to North London until after 07.00 a.m. or even later. These clubs were frequented by prostitutes, pimps, drug dealers, thieves and muggers, but somehow I never encountered any serious trouble. Whenever trouble was brewing something always happened that kept me out of danger.
By the time I joined the army and got stationed in Dortmund in the then West Germany my only true friend was alcohol. I became like a split personality; on one hand I kept people entertained with my impressions and wit; but that was just a front for my other self, who was quite depressed and withdrawn. I didn’t like the army because of the hypocrisy and I didn’t like the squaddie mentality of wanting to beat people up after a few drinks; I was a happy drunk (when I wasn’t being depressed). I was attracted, for some reason, to the seedy side of Dortmund which was ”under the bridge”. It was a standing joke amongst the lads; and sometimes before descending on ”Der Stadt” we would say to each other ”whatever happens tonight I’m not going under the bridge”. The bridge in question was a railway bridge in Dortmund City Centre. All the nice respectable places were before the bridge, but once you went under the bridge it was a real den of iniquity. The standing joke was that even as we were saying it we knew that after a skin-full of beer we would always end up there. Quite often I would go down town on my own and go to the pubs under the bridge. Looking back it was a very dangerous thing to do; British squaddies, after all, were not the most popular species in Dortmund City Centre. I would go to some real holes on my own, but not once did I ever encounter any trouble. I could relate several more stories from my teenage and army years as examples of being looked after but it would make this post too long, however, in more recent years there are other examples of how I have constantly been protected and I’d like to finish by sharing two of them with you. Both of these examples involve cars.
What I know about cars can be written on the back of a postage stamp; to me cars are for driving and nothing else. Sometimes I check my oil and water, but mainly I just drive my cars and hope for the best. I bought a second-hand Toyota in 1999, it was a 1992 model with a genuine 28,000 miles on the clock. I kept the car for nine years and never had one mechanical fault with it. I only cleaned it a handful of times during that period as well because a car, to me, is simply a means of getting from A to B. So, during the time I had the Toyota I only had to deal with natural wear and tear, such as buying new tyres occasionally, new wiper blades, a new battery (once) and just general servicing; renew spark plugs etc.
After I’d had the car roughly eight years, someone remarked one day about the good condition that it was apparently in. I explained how long I’d had it and that I’d had no problems with it. Then they said to me ”what about the cam belt”. I didn’t know what the cam belt was and kind of just gave an indifferent reply. Some time later I was having a similar conversation with a friend and she asked the same question about the cam belt, to which I gave a similar reply. When she explained to me that the cam belt is very important and that if it snaps you might as well kiss your car goodbye, I thought that maybe I should look into it. To cut a long story short, the car suddenly started to develop wear and tear problems that were quite major and in the space of a couple on months I had a lot of work done on it that cost a small fortune. But the mechanic who carried out the repairs said he had never seen anything like it. He was a non-religious/spiritual person but even he said ”someone up there must have been looking down on you”. Apparently you should change your cam belt about every 60,000 miles. When I eventually got it changed (it was the original belt from new) it had done over 166,000 miles. The mechanic said it was a miracle it didn’t snap. Also the radiator was completely rotten and the brake pads (also the original from new) were apparently right down to the metal. Yet that car started first time every time, even throughout cold winters. The brakes always worked perfectly, I never topped up the water once in the nine years I had it and it always ran like a dream. Eventually, because it had started to cost me so much money I gave it away to the mechanic who had given me such good service over the previous couple of years.
The same mechanic sold me my next car, that I’m still driving; although I haven’t had the same good fortune with this one. Well, having said that it would depend on your perspective. It’s not relevant to mention various problems I had with the new car, but an incident in June 2009 is very relevant. At the time I was working part-time on a site that housed adults with learning disabilities. I drove onto the site and down to the unit where I was supposed to be working. Because of the number of cars already taking up spaces I had to park up on a grass verge until staff on the earlier shift had gone home. I went inside the unit and a few minutes later a colleague came in and asked if he could have a word with me. He was quite embarrassed to have to tell me that he had reversed into my car with a works vehicle and put a dent in the front off-side wheel arch. I could see that he felt awful about this, so I just said to him ”don’t worry it’s only a car”. He promised me faithfully he would get it fixed no matter what and we just left it at that.
However, when I went to move the car into a proper parking space I was puzzled as to why it wouldn’t move. Another colleague who was standing nearby was looking on and I could see he was trying to tell me something. I got out of the car to find that both of my front wheels were pointing inwards, and my colleague informed me that it looked as though the front tracking rod had snapped. This meant the car was undrivable. It was also very strange because the colleague who reversed into my car was only travelling at about 5 MPH. It soon became apparent to me why my car had been rendered unroadworthy in such strange circumstances. My other colleague pointed out that if the tracking rod snapped at such low impact it must have been ready to go at any time. The realisation then hit me that if it had snapped whilst I was on the motorway or even a major A road, then I would not be in a position to tell the tale.
It’s only since Sri Sathya Sai Baba came into my life in 2001 that I have really noticed that I am most definitely protected by the hand of grace. I honestly don’t know why the good Lord protects me in this way; I can only assume that there are plans for me that do not involve me leaving this earthly life just yet.
Yes, its great being looked after and I’m so grateful for it. The Divine certainly does have strange ways of protecting his children; but guess what? I’m not complaining.

An Audience with an Author … Janice Horton plus book review

I have just finished reading Janice Horton’s latest novel, Reaching for the Stars (review at end of post) and today I am delighted to welcome her for a chat about her writing.

Janice , would you tell us how you promote your books and what tips can you offer to other writers?

In the past, I’ve hosted real book launch parties and book signings in bookshops, with nibbles and sparkling wine, but when I published my e-books I had to completely rethink promotion. First of all, I asked all of my lovely writer friends for ideas (promotional tip #1) and was advised to do a blog tour, host a virtual launch party, and advertise the events on social networks. Not easy when all I had to start off with was a neglected website.

Undaunted, I set up a blog, subscribed to Twitter and Facebook (promotional tip #2), and gave myself time to prepare (promotional tip #3 – I would say you need to allow six weeks at least for this). Then, having attracted a modest following, I advertised my ‘Wish I Was Here…’ themed blog launch party to bloggers and tweeters. I asked everyone to post up a picture or photo of where they would like to escape to – for a wee while or forever – a fun thing to do right in the middle of December!

This theme was directly linked to my new e-book ‘Reaching for the Stars’ because the story is about a celebrity chef who escapes the media frenzy surrounding his private life by going into hiding for a while. My final tip (promotional tip #4) would be to offer a prize draw to those who participate as a way to thank them for all their support and for being such great sports. The prizes I had on offer were celebrity chef aprons and chef hats!

Author’s Bookshelf

1. What is the favourite book you have read?

That’s easy. It’s ‘Riders’ by Jilly Cooper.

2. What are you reading at the moment?

I don’t currently have a book on the go but I plan to read lots of books over the Christmas holidays. I have a huge choice from my To Be Read list of both paper books and Kindle e-books.

3. What book should you have read, but haven’t?

‘Virginia Woolf – A Room of Ones Own’ – my son who is reading English Literature at University has insisted I should read it. I fully intend to do so but I’m not sure when!

Buy ‘Reaching for the Stars’ now at the special launch price of just 99p 

Janice Blogs at: www.janicehortonwriter.blogspot.com
Janice is a www.loveahappyending.com author
Follow her on Twitter @JaniceHorton
Facebook Author Page: http://on.fb.me/nbaWed


About the author: Janice lives in Scotland and writes romantic novels with humour which are, for the most part, inspired by the beauty of the heather-filled glens around her country cottage. When Janice is not writing novels, she write lifestyle articles and has had work published in national and international magazines and regional newspapers. She is also the bestselling author of ‘Bagpipes & Bullshot’.

My Review of Reaching for the Stars

THE BLURB – Scottish celebrity chef Finn McDuff is media stalked and disillusioned after winning his third star and losing his third wife. He decides he’s had enough of all the food campaigns, the TV cookery shows, the constant frenzy surrounding his private life and, after giving up all his accolades and closing down his restaurant, he disappears.

With the enfant terrible of the kitchen missing, two rival newspapers, having lost their media meal ticket, compete against each other to whip up further public curiosity in the missing chef. Love him or hate him, everyone is out looking for Chef McDuff. Who will find him first and whose side will you be on…?

MY THOUGHTS – This was the first novel I had read by Janice Horton and having seen rave reviews of her previous novel ‘Bagpipes & Bullshot‘ I was very much looking forward to reading ‘Reaching for the Stars‘.

I was drawn into the story from the first paragraph, no pussy footing around, Finn McDuff was brought to life immediately.  I loved the fact that he wasn’t perfect, that he had a bit of a bad boy reputation but at the same time underneath it all there was a different person to the one the press and public knew.  He had issues, past and present, that he had to overcome and/or resolve.  Not being the perfect hero really made Finn come to life and gave him that extra dimension.

Journalist Raine and her adversary Ross made for a great sparring team and even though Ross was working for a newspaper with few morals, you couldn’t help like him in a pitying sort of way.  Raine was great, sticking to her beliefs of fair representation and believing in McDuff when others doubted him.

Janice has a lovely style of writing, which flows along smoothly and makes for an easy, yet totally satisfying read.