#BlogTour #RandRBookTours @RRBookTours1 @Shanannigans81 / #PromoPost : A Cut Twice As Deep – Wendy L. Anderson

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

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Today I’m on the ‘A Cut Twice As Deep’ blogtour, organised by R&R Book Tours.
To promote this book I have some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

Author Pic(8)Wendy L. Anderson is a Colorado native and mother of two boys. A devout reader of the classics, fantasy, sci-fi and historical fiction, she has decided it is time to write down the fantasies from her mind. Writing about everything from fantastical worlds to the stuff of her dreams she takes her stories along interesting paths while portraying worlds she sees in her mind’s eye. Her goal is to deviate from common themes, write in original directions and transport her reader to the worlds of her creation.

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Synopsis :

Title: A Cut Twice as Deep
Publication Date: October 7th, 2020
Genre: Viking Adventure / Sisterhood / Romance

A Cut Twice As Deep Final Front CoverThe bond between sisters is one forged in blood and fire. Twin sisters, Liana and Deirdre were inseparable like the two halves of a double-bladed axe, making the pain of having to leave each other a cut twice as deep. Their father, Gorsedd Gunnarson, King of the great country of Svartur Rokk, did not care about twin bonds or his daughter’s preferences and severed the pair with a single blow. Both Liana and Deirdre have been sold to the highest bidders for ships, weapons, and alliances. For Gorsedd Gunnarson these are very profitable and advantageous marriage arrangements, but the twin sisters would be torn from each other lives and sent to lands far apart forever!
Liana is forced to leave her childhood sweetheart and marry a stranger. Sweet, timid Deirdre would be wed to a Viking warlord. One would leave her home on a ship and the other on a horse. Both would travel great distances to new lands. Given no choice but to embrace the lives planned for them, they find that the future holds more than they could ever have suspected. In a land where blood and ice reign, danger and betrayal war with love and hope, as they fight to find happiness in a ruthless world ruled by the sword and axe.

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Blog Tour Organized By:

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#BlogTour #DamppebblesBlogTours @damppebbles / #QandAs : Crime and Justice #CrimeAndJustice – Martin Bodenham @MartinBodenham @DownAndOutBooks

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

crime and justice banner V3

Today I’m on the ‘Crime and Justice’ blogtour, organised by Damppebbles Blog Tour.
To promote this book I have a Q&As post, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

Martin Bodenham - AuthorMartin Bodenham is the author of the crime thrillers The Geneva Connection, Once a Killer, and Shakedown. Crime And Justice is his latest novel.
After a thirty-year career in private equity and corporate finance in London, Martin moved to the west coast of Canada, where he writes full-time. He held corporate finance partner positions at both KPMG and Ernst & Young as well as senior roles at several private equity firms before founding his own private equity company in 2001. Much of the tension in his thrillers is based on the greed and fear he witnessed first-hand while working in international finance.

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Synopsis :

Cover for Crime And JusticeWhat if we could no longer trust DNA profiling, the silver bullet of our criminal justice system? For years, we’ve relied on it to solve decades-old crimes, convict the guilty, and liberate the innocent from death row. But what happens to that trust when a crime lab scientist is leaned on to manipulate the evidence or, worse still, lose it altogether?
Ruthless Seattle mayor, Patti Rainsford, announces her candidacy for state governor. She’ll do anything to succeed. When her son is arrested for the rape and assault of a seventeen-year-old girl, Rainsford’s political career is in jeopardy.
Detective Linda Farrell is assigned to investigate. After twelve years working in SPD’s sexual assault unit, her career is drifting, not helped by the single-minded detective’s contempt for police protocol and the pressure of her failing marriage. The high-profile rape case is a rare chance to shine and maybe even get her life back on track. Nothing will stop her seeking justice for the young victim.
With a mountain of personal debt and his wife’s business on a knife-edge, Clark Stanton is facing financial meltdown. Then a stranger offers him a lifeline in return for a favor. As the manager of Seattle’s crime lab, all Clark has to do is make the rape kit evidence against the mayor’s son go away.

Purchase Links:
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Publishing Information:
Published in paperback and digital formats by Down and Out Books on 16th August 2020.

Q&A :

Hi

First of all thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions, I really appreciate it. Here we go! 🙂

Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
I came late to writing. I’d always wanted to write novels, but the career I entered on leaving college soon became all-consuming, leaving little time for anything else. I was a corporate financier and private equity investor, which involved putting together corporate acquisitions and financings, mainly in London.
It was the greed and fear I saw in the financial markets that inspired my first novel, The Geneva Connection. In it I tell the story of a private equity firm that discovers when it is too late that its largest investor is a front for a brutal Mexican drug cartel. I guess you’d describe it today as Breaking Bad meets Wall Street! I wrote that novel as I wound down from my career in finance. In 2013, my wife and I moved to Canada. Shortly after, I found a New York agent and took up writing full-time. My first three novels were financial crime thrillers. Crime And Justice is my fourth novel and is a new direction for me, in that it is a political corruption/detective story.

Which books did/do you love to read as a child/now as a grown-up?
My favourite books as a teenager were the adventure novels by H. Rider Haggard. They were set in another era (late 19th century), mainly in Africa. King Solomon’s Mines and Nada The Lily were the ones I remember most vividly.
Today, my favoured author is John Grisham. I love how he uses the knowledge gained from his first career as a lawyer to inform his legal thrillers. His writing looks easy. Believe me, it is difficult to create that breezy, easy-flowing style.

Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
It would have to be John Grisham. I’d really like to understand how he achieves a balance between adding sufficient legal content into his stories so as to be authentic and not over-burdening the reader with technical jargon. That was something I found tricky when I wrote my first financial thriller.

If you could, which fictional character (from your own book(s)) would you like to invite for tea and why?
It would have to be Detective Linda Farrell, who heads up the investigation into the rape allegation against the mayor’s son in Crime And Justice. I love her rebellious character, her disdain for arrogance, and her unstinting search for justice. While she makes mistakes and takes decisions that appear reckless at times, her heart is always in the right place. I’d like to ask her what other cases she has on her desk as I’m hoping to make her a serial character for future novels.

Do you have some rituals or habits whilst writing?
Because I used to commute into London for many years, I am an early riser. Most of my writing is done in the mornings, often before 8 a.m. when the phone isn’t ringing and there are few disturbances. When I am writing the first draft of a novel, I set myself a target of 1,000 words a day so I can finish the rough version in three months. I have tried writing with the radio on, but it prevents my thought process. I prefer complete silence or quiet instrumental music in the background. My one rule is that I must have a strong espresso around eleven each morning to keep me going.

Where do you come up with your idea(s)? Do people in your life need to be worried? 😉
Some of my ideas have come from my first career in corporate finance. The corporate takeover world is full of big egos and larger than life people. Some of their characteristics I have “borrowed” for characters in my novels. As for storylines, I like to read news headlines and obituaries, both of which are great sources for plots and character arcs.
When I came up with the idea for Crime And Justice, I had recently seen a documentary on the use of DNA matching and its use in exonerating people in old cases. It made me realise how much we have come to rely on that forensic process, almost without question. I wondered how easy it might be for the results to be manipulated.

Are you a plotter or do you go with the flow, as a pantser?
I am very much a plotter. Once I have a story idea, my next step is to create a paragraph or two for each of the fifty or so chapters. That becomes the outline of the story. I spend quite a lot of time at this stage, reordering the plot, looking for gaps and thinking of twists. Only when I have a complete outline of thirty pages or so, do I begin to write the novel. That way, I know I have a story that hangs together. Usually, as I write the book, new thoughts come to mind, which I try to weave in for greater depth. The outline has to be an organic thing. It cannot be too rigid. Some of my best plot twists have come from new ideas as I write the book.

Can you give novice writers some tips (do’s/don’ts)?
Do it for fun, not money. Most writers don’t earn more than minimum wage!
Enjoy the process. Listen to editors. Don’t be precious about your work. None of us has a monopoly on good ideas. Editors can turn a good story into a great one.

What are your futureplans as an author?
I am working on the edits for book five. It doesn’t have a firm title yet, but it is about a woman stalker and is based on Vancouver Island. It’s quite dark and written mainly from the point of view of her male target. My publisher has it scheduled for publication in 2021.

Last, but not least : Can you give my readers one teaser from your book, which is featured here on my blog, please?
Crime And Justice, although based around a charge of sexual assault, is really about Detective Linda Farrell’s search for truth and justice in the face of political corruption and corrupted evidence. If you like Lynda La Plante’s Jane Tennison, you’ll love Detective Linda Farrell.

Isn’t that a great reason to pick up this book and to find out more?!
Thanks once again for this lovely interview, Martin Bodenham.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

dpbt 2

P.S. Are you an author (or publisher) who also wants a FREE interview like this? You can always contact me via e-mail!

#BooksOnTour @bookouture / #Review : Trust Me – Sheryl Browne @SherylBrowne

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free.
I’m grateful of receiving a free copy from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review of this book. –

Trust Me - Blog Tour

About the Author :

Sheryl Browne03 small fileSheryl Browne writes psychological thriller and edgy contemporary fiction. A member of the Crime Writers’ Association, Romantic Novelists’ Association and awarded a Red Ribbon by The Wishing Shelf Book Awards, Sheryl has several books published and two short stories in Birmingham City University anthologies, where she completed her MA in Creative Writing.

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Synopsis :

Trust-Me-KindleEmily and Jake are the perfect couple. Or so everyone says. But Emily just read a letter that has shattered her perfect world. Now she only has one thing on her mind… which one of her friends is sleeping with her husband?
Emily watches Jake as he makes small talk with their children, still the perfect man she married years ago. But when the phone rings and he answers before quickly putting it down again, she sees the look on her husband’s face – guilt. She knows the signs – after all, she’s been lying to him for years.
Working with Jake at the local doctor’s surgery, Emily starts to listen at closed doors and read things she shouldn’t, hoping to find the truth about her husband. Soon she learns that hers isn’t the only family telling lies to each other. Is there anyone Emily can trust? And who is behind the letter to Jake?
When a second letter, revealing a wife’s hidden pregnancy, is sent to the woman’s husband, it has disastrous consequences. And as more angry letters revealing people’s biggest secrets begin to appear, fingers point at Emily. After all, she’s the one with access to everyone’s private history, and she’s the one with a score to settle. Emily says she didn’t do it. But this isn’t the first time Emily has lied. What happens next will have you questioning everything…
You might have already decided that Emily is guilty, but as each twist is revealed, you’ll begin to doubt everyone in this quiet little town. This is a psychological thriller that will keep you up all night!

If you enjoyed The Girl on the Train, My Lovely Wife and Behind Closed Doors, you will love this thrilling psychological thriller from bestselling author Sheryl Browne. Trust Me will have you hooked from the start.

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Review :

Hi, it’s me again, that huge Belgian fan of Sheryl Browne who always gets excited about a new book and doesn’t really know how to review her books any more without being repetitive.
Trust me 😉, it ain’t easy to find more synonyms or better words if you already used all of them on her other books and this one is once more just WOW.
From page one you’re just smack in the middle of what feels like real life and it reads like a roller-coaster which you can’t put down.
Trough multiple POVs you learn a lot about relationships and how suspicion and not talking properly with each other can put a strain on everyone.
Really mind-blowing when you think you understand everything and than the author goes like ‘no, you don’t’.
What twists again, Sheryl. 🙂
I definitely don’t know how you do it, such a great mind!
Yes, you did it afresh, another addictive page turner that everyone must read who loves this genre.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

#MiniBlogBlitz #RachelsRandomResources @rararesources / #QandAs : The Heart of Doctor Steele – Colette Dixon @CDixonBooks @crimsonfoxpub

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

The Heart Of Doctor Steele

Today I’m on the ‘The Heart of Doctor Steele’ blogtour, organised by Rachel’s Random Resources.
To promote this book I have a Q&As post, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

The Heart AuthorColette Dixon writes steamy stories with heart and humor about slightly tortured people who learn how love can heal. For more years than she cares to admit, she worked in a hospital while dreaming up love story plots. A farm girl who landed in Chicago, she loves to eat (food made by others), drink tea, and sun herself at every chance she can get to survive the Midwest winter.

Social Media Links:
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Synopsis :

The Heart Of Doctor Steele CoverAre the rumors about him true? She intends to find out.
The mysterious Dr. Steele has taken up residence next door, and scandalous rumors about him are spreading through Margaret Landeau’s small Massachusetts town. Rumors of women he’s ill-used and exploited for his experimental surgeries. Never one to believe gossip, Margaret arms herself with a basket of baked goods and ventures to discover the truth from the man himself.
John Steele has lost everything. His parents, his aunt, too many women he intended to save, and his good name. All he has left is his aunt’s home in a far-flung village and a library he’s stocked with whiskey. He has nothing to offer anyone. Especially not the bold woman next door whose passion for healing reminds him of the man he once was.
But when a dangerously ill girl arrives on his doorstep, pleading for help, Margaret is thrust into his world. She will learn who the real Dr. John Steele truly is, and soon, not even his dark past can stop her from fighting for the brilliant doctor she now loves. But he must deny his crushing desire for her—loving a man like him can only cast a shadow over her own bright future.

Purchase Link

Q&A :

Hi

First of all thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions, I really appreciate it. Here we go! 🙂

Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but my life took a wandering path and I ended up in healthcare. For years I read voraciously and wondered how authors did it. I loved Outlander and read some of Diana Gabaldon’s blog about her writing process. While I was waiting to adopt my daughter, I had a lot of time so I read all the Jane Austen books. Then one day I decided to try to write a story I’d had in the back of my head since college. Once I finished the manuscript, I took a novel editing class online and revised the heck out of it before I entered the Golden Heart contest. To my utter amazement, I finaled in the contest and made a bunch of writer friends whose support has kept me writing. Writing is hard! You need good people who understand the ups and downs to help you through it all.



Which books did/do you love to read as a child/now as a grown-up?
Early on I always read a variety of genres, as long as the characters and the story captured my attention—I would read science fiction, dystopian YA, contemporary, thrillers, memoirs, and historical. Now I find historical fiction and historical romance are my favorite escapes.

Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
I feel like I’ve picked many brains reading craft books. On Writing by Stephen King was very elucidating. The Emotional Craft of Fiction is my next level craft book—after you write for awhile you know what your weaknesses are and you zone in on trying to improve those areas. I’d love to get into the head of any author who evokes gobs of heart-wrenching emotions.

If you could, which fictional character (from your own book(s) or someone else’s) would you like to invite for tea and why?
Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice. I love her self-possession and her down to earth sensibility. I identify with the woman who trudges through the mud not caring if her dress gets soiled or what uptight man might judge her for it.



Do you have some rituals or habits whilst writing?
I prefer to write on the couch with a laptop table, in the morning when the house is quiet after I’ve had a bit of exercise, walked the dog and made tea. My mind is most calm and alert and able to tackle vocabulary and plot problems.
What seems to work the best for me lately is to start by re-reading the previous chapter and making some edits. Then I write a paragraph outline of the next chapter or two, do some research if needed before writing a new chapter. While I’m writing a first draft, I remind myself not to fret too much over small details and that keeps things flowing. 



Where do you come up with your idea(s)? Do people in your life need to be worried? 😉
I have too many ideas! They just pop into my head. I do have to work on sorting out which ones are most promising, and molding them into an enticing concept that could sustain a whole book. Sometimes a real person’s character trait or a situation triggers a book idea, but once I start writing the fictional story takes over and there isn’t much resemblance to actual people or events.



Are you a plotter or do you go with the flow, as a pantser?
I don’t outline entirely, but I do try to get a sense of the conflict and the pivotal scenes before writing. I usually first start out with an idea of a character and their conflict and grow the plot from there. I try to give the heroine a flaw that rubs up against the hero’s flaw to build-in conflict—then the plot starts to write itself based on how these characters would act and react. 



Can you give novice writers some tips (do’s/don’ts)?
A good critique partner is worth their weight in gold. Don’t be afraid to share and revise your work but don’t just change everything blindly based on another’s feedback. Develop a sense of what feels right to you too. Developing this sense takes time just like becoming a better writer, so hang in there and try to enjoy the process. Also, don’t worry if your writing process is different from some else’s writing process. Everyone’s brains work differently. Some people need to think a lot before they write. Don’t burn yourself out by trying to crank out material too fast.

What are your futureplans as an author?
I’m planning more books in the Doctor Steele world. I will probably write another historical series after that but likely in a different time period.

Last, but not least : Can you give my readers one teaser from your book, which is featured here on my blog, please?
After giving a rude Doctor Steele a piece of her mind when he refused her neighborly delivery of a welcome basket, he turns up at church:

A man in an ebony frock coat and disheveled black hair lounged most irreverently, limbs askew and ungoverned, in the aisle seat of a pew near the front.
He’d come to church.
Her heart sped into a frenzy of beats.
Hope mingled with pride at the prospect that their encounter may have stimulated him to consider attending service today. Perhaps her message about needing others had sunk in. Perhaps he’d come to see her.
No. She shook the self-important notion away as she picked up her skirts to tuck herself in their family’s usual pew three rows behind him. Just when she thought he wouldn’t move at all, he spun around in his seat.
Those aqua blue eyes locked on hers. A refreshing night’s sleep or perhaps early retirement of his beloved bottle had erased the redness and swelling she’d seen in his eyes yesterday. So pressing was his gaze upon her, so constant, she lost her voice.
Swallowing dryly, she managed a slight nod of acknowledgment.
His mouth quirked as he returned the nod. “Miss Landeau.” Then his smile turned complete as though the pronunciation of her name gave him pleasure.
“Dr. Steele,” the words came out scarcely above a whisper. “I wasn’t expecting to see you here.”
“I don’t see why not. Do you think you have the market cornered on virtue?”

Isn’t that a great reason to pick up this book and to find out more?!
Thanks once again for this lovely interview, Colette Dixon.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

P.S. Are you an author (or publisher) who also wants a FREE interview like this? You can always contact me via e-mail!

#BlogTour #RandomThingsTours @RandomTTours / #Excerpt : Baghdad Central – Elliott Colla @AbuMrouj @bitterlemonpub

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

Baghdad Central BT Poster

Today I’m on the ‘Baghdad Central’ blogtour, organised by Random Things Tours.
To promote this book I have an excerpt, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

Elliot Colla Author PicElliott Colla divides his time between Washington DC and the Middle East. This is his first novel. He teaches Arabic literature at Georgetown University. He has translated much contemporary Arabic literature, including: Ibrahim Aslan’s novel, The Heron, Idris Ali’s Poor, Ibrahim al-Koni’s Gold Dust, and Rabai al-Madhoun’s The Lady from Tel Aviv.

Website

Synopsis :

Baghdad Central CoverBaghdad, November 2003. The occupation forces have disbanded the army and there is no police on the streets of Iraq. Inspector Muhsin al-Khafaji is a mid-level Iraqi cop who deserted his post back in April. Captured by the Americans and imprisoned in Abu Ghraib, Khafaji is offered one way out, helping the authorities rebuild the Iraqi Police Services. But it’s only after US forces take his daughter Mrouj that he figures out a way to make his surrender palatable, and even rewarding. Soon, he is investigating the disappearance of young translators working for the US Army.
Khafaji finds himself a collaborator living in a volatile world of shifting alliances and new warlords. Luckily for him, the old consolations of whiskey and love poetry can sometimes still work their magic in the new “liberated” Iraq.

Amazon

Excerpt :

Tuesday–Wednesday
25–26 November 2003

“Confirmed. Three of Diamonds!” A voice cuts through the throbbing in Khafaji’s head. He’s lying on his back, his arms tied, his legs tied. He can hear, but he can’t see. There’s a soft ache where his eyes used to be, and his sinuses feel like someone set them on re. His head is wrapped in a wet sack. His clothes are drenched. Hours go by. Every now and then, his body begins to shiver uncontrollably. Sometimes there is nothing to listen to but his heaving breath and pounding pulse. Sometimes there is loud thumping music. Then it starts again. He hears them come in without saying a word. He feels their fingers, but cannot stop them. They tip his feet up. They tip his head down. Slowly, carefully. Suddenly, he is in the Tigris. Suddenly, he is drowning. Water floods his sinuses and fingers probe his stomach and chest. And then he is drowning again. And drowning again. Each time he comes up, he is not sure if he is inhaling or exhaling or even breathing at all. The hood comes off, and it goes back on. He can feel the pain in his head, but he cannot see a thing. Darkness falls.
Hours later, Khafaji wakes to another voice. He is on his side now. On concrete. “We got him, sir. Not a face card, but a high target. We got the right intel and the right luck. Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.” More people come and go. Another voice when he drifts off, another voice when he comes to. American voices. He goes to sleep, but the pain never does.
“What’s the reward on this bitch? What? Get on it, Sergeant.” It is not the shouting, but the shivering that wakes him up. The floor beneath Khafaji is ice. His clothes are gone, his skin feels warm, even hot. Between his ears, a knife slices through his mind.
“Good morning, you fuck. We know who you are. Mr Chairman, right? I’m gonna call you Chairman Fuckin’ PUC, since it’s easier to say than your hajji name. You may not be America’s Most Wanted. But you’re in the deck, Bitch. You belong to us!”
Khafaji feels a shoe by his ear. He feels someone breathing. A hand pulls at the cloth over his eyes. A new voice. “What the hell happened to this PUC’s face?” A long pause. The man hums for a moment then shouts to someone else, “Something’s not right.” Khafaji listens to the sound of boots crossing the room.
“You don’t understand a word I’m saying to you, do you? I’m gonna smoke your PUC ass.” A sudden kick to the kidneys, and Khafaji falls into another dark dream.
At some point, the blindfold comes off, and cold water slaps his face. Only now, gasping for air, does Khafaji feel the tape over his mouth. His screams come out in mute heaves. There’s not enough air in this room to fill my lungs.
His naked body shakes like it belongs to someone else. His skin twitches each time it remembers the frozen concrete. He tries to control his sobbing, but he can’t. Gradually, his tears just stop and things begin to loom out of the fog. A bare room. A metal door. Walls of paint peeling from cracked concrete. A standard-issue metal desk. Two standard-issue metal chairs and a wooden one. Fluorescent lights that blink and pop at random. Missing ceiling tiles. All somewhat familiar. Even an office man like Khafaji knows this kind of room. He’s just never seen it from this angle before.
An American walks up sideways. Like a crab, his arms a pair of ragged claws. He reaches out and snaps something. Khafaji’s legs spring free. Then they begin to throb and ache. He unbinds Khafaji’s hands then fastens them again in front. When Khafaji begins to roll his shoulders, the blood pours in. A thousand sharp needles turn muscle and skin into meat. Even so, his fingertips are numb. Khafaji looks closely at the man in front of him. A face like a dish that was broken and glued back together again. The American unfastens the gag and smiles intimately. Like they’ve met before. Khafaji knows the look. Two other men walk up and grab Khafaji by the shoulders. They heave him onto the wooden chair. Beneath his weight, it creaks and settles. Someone throws a dirty blanket over his shoulders, and Khafaji manages to pull it around his body.
Only when Khafaji hears the voice offering him a cigarette does he realize there’s someone else in the room. An Iraqi.
“Happy Eid, you son of a whore. You like American cigarettes? Virginia tobacco? I know you do. You say you hate those Americans, but you love their cigarettes more than anything else in the world.” Someone lights a cigarette and sets it on Khafaji’s lips. He takes a drag. When the smoke hits his gut, he coughs. The nicotine begins to set in, though not soon enough. The pain, now dulling, recedes to the background.
The voice is familiar, but there’s something off. Khafaji can barely make out the short bald man in the corner. From Mosul, by his accent. Italian suit. Spotless shoes. The man must never have to walk on our streets. A leather smell. Cologne. His face is almost famous.
But there’s something puzzling. Why is he showing his face? Then it sinks in. He doesn’t care. To take his mind off the pain, Khafaji studies the man’s face. Pink #esh. Hairless, except for eyebrows. Loud blue eyes. Minutes go by before he realizes the Mosuli is talking to him.
“…and this is just the start, you piece of shit. When we nd your brother, we’ll bring him in. And the rest of your family too. Want to know how we’ll treat them? You’ll get to see. You’ll get to watch.”
“Where’s my daughter, you cunt?”
From behind, someone slams Khafaji’s face into the desk and shouts, “You need to be more respectful.” Hands tear the blanket off and throw it on the ground.
Khafaji coughs and gags. A plastic cup of water appears on the table in front of Khafaji, and he swallows it in one gulp.
“I will.” When Khafaji speaks, the sound of his own voice stuns him. Weak and distant. Floating in mid-air, like it came from somewhere else. Like a child shouting from a locked room. Suddenly he wants to look at himself in the mirror.
The American nods at the Mosuli, and the two men leave.
Khafaji sits alone with his thoughts again. The blanket just beyond his toes.
Nazik appears behind him and whispers in his ear:
There is no Mutassim I can call
And there is no Saladin among us.
We sleep at night, and wake at dawn wounded, Stabbed, killed.
How do we make peace with tyranny?
How do we shake hands with Satan?

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

#CoverReveal And #Excerpt #FlyOnTheWallPoetryTours @fly_press @kenyon_isabelle : On Borrowed Time #OnBorrowedTime – Graeme Hall @hongkonggraeme

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

Today I’m super pleased to be on the blogtour, organised by Fly On The Wall Poetry Tours, to reveal the cover of

Graeme Hall Blog Tour

But first some ‘basic’ information and an excerpt

About the Author :

1RnHF0Io_400x400Graeme lived in Hong Kong from 1993 to 2010 and still keeps a close connection to the city. His first novel was set in Hong Kong and Shanghai over the period 1996/97 and most of his writing comes from his love of that part of the world. Graeme first visited Macau in 1993 and he quickly became fascinated by the oldest European settlement in Asia. His short story collection, ‘The Goddess of Macau’ was published in August 2020 by Fly on the Wall Press.
He has won the short story competitions of the Macau Literary Festival and the Ilkley Literature Festival, and his writing has been published in anthologies by Black Pear Press and the Macau Literary Festival.He is an active member of the Leeds Writers Circle whose members have been a constant source of advice, support and encouragement. Graeme lives in Calderdale, West Yorkshire with his wife and a wooden dog.

Website
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Synopsis :

On Borrowed Time is set in Hong Kong and Shanghai over the period 1996/1997 – including the handover of Hong Kong to China. The novel explores the choices that people have to make; in particular between doing what is easy and what is right.
In Hong Kong, Emma Janssen discovers the truth behind the death of her brother four years earlier. Meanwhile, in Shanghai, a PhD student meets a woman with an unusual degree of interest in his research. These storylines converge at the time of the handover of Hong Kong to China in 1997, and Emma finds that she has to choose between revenge or the future happiness and safety of both herself and those close to her.
While being a work of fiction, On Borrowed Time is rooted in the author’s own experiences of living and working in Hong Kong from 1993 to 2010, in particular the final years of British rule and the transfer of sovereignty back to China.

Excerpt :

SAM STOOD AT THE BUS stop contemplating the day ahead. The first without his secretary. Sam had been incredulous when she’d told him her holiday plans. Two weeks was her entire allowance for the year. He’d have to suffer a temp. It was always a nightmare having to work with someone who didn’t know their way around the files and how he liked to do things. He was busy enough as it was without that hassle.
Apart from one or two small clouds, the sky was clear and the sun was already unrelenting. Although the extreme temperatures of summer had passed, it was still undeniably warm and humid, with the fresher autumn weather yet to come. To make things worse the bus stop seemed to have been located in something of a suntrap and heat radiated from the pavement.
‘God, it’s hot again.’
The words came with a Texan accent. Sam recognised the speaker as someone from his building. He thought it odd that a Texan would find this weather hot, but not particularly wanting to engage anyone in conversation Sam muttered a reply, while a well-dressed older Chinese woman delicately mopped her brow with a handkerchief. A passing cloud briefly hid the sun, giving a moment of respite.
Sam hated having to wear a suit and tie, and while he wouldn’t admit it in public in private he had to acknowledge that he was putting on weight. He reckoned he’d added an inch to his waistline for each year he’d been in Hong Kong. He didn’t care for the heat either. He’d been standing for no more than five minutes, but already he was feeling like a damp rag. There was always a magical day in autumn when suddenly the humidity would drop and everyone knew the worst was finally over, but until then it seemed at times as if summer was never going to end and the city became increasingly fractious in the heat. Sam could only envy friends who worked in more relaxed fields, but the law was stubbornly traditional and McShane Adams more so than most. But then it had been like that ever since Sir James McShane met Hector Adams Esq. at the Hong Kong Club in 1853 and decided to go into practice together. Sam took off his jacket and carried it over his arm. He stood as still as possible so as not to make the heat any worse. A bead of perspiration meandered down his neck and under his collar.

After this great teasers I hope you are still excited for the

blog-cover reveal

because this is happening

right now!

graeme standard front cover

Did this all pique your interest in reading the book? It will be available on January 11th, 2021, but you can already pre-order on Amazon.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

#BlogTour #DamppebblesBlogTours @damppebbles / #QandAs : An Island #AnIsland – Karen Jennings #KarenJennings @HhouseBooks

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

An Island banner

Today I’m on the ‘An Island’ blogtour, organised by Damppebbles Blog Tour.
To promote this book I have a Q&As post, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

Karen JenningsKaren Jennings is a South African author. She holds Masters degrees in both English Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Cape Town, and a PhD in English Literature from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Her debut novel, Finding Soutbek, was shortlisted for the inaugural Etisalat Prize for African Fiction. In 2014 her short story collection, Away from the Dead, was longlisted for the Frank O’Connor International short story competition. Her memoir, Travels with my Father, was published in 2016, and in 2018 she released her debut poetry collection, Space Inhabited by Echoes. Karen is currently living in Brazil with her Brazilian husband, and last year completed post-doctoral research at the Federal University of Goiás on the historical relationship between science and literature, with a focus on eusocial insects. In September 2019 her new novel, Upturned Earth, will be published by Holland Park Press. Karen is also affiliated with the mentorship programmes run by Writivism and Short Story Day Africa, both of which promote writing in Africa. Broadly speaking, Karen’s interests lie in colonialism, historically and in the lasting impact that it has had on the continent of Africa and beyond. She is particularly concerned with the quiet lives of the everyday people who have been mostly forgotten by the politicians, big businesses and the rest of the world. In this way, she strives to give the ordinary a voice that can be heard and appreciated.
The idea for An Island came to Karen during an afternoon nap at a writers’ residency she was attending in Denmark in 2015. In her sleep, she saw an old man, fiercely defending his island against interlopers. At the time, there was a vast amount in the news about the Syrian Refugee Crisis, which extended to what became known as Europe’s Refugee Crisis. There was a great global outcry against xenophobic responses and calls for humanitarian aid for Syria’s refugees. At the same time, there was almost nothing about refugees from Africa – not about what drove them to flee their nations, or what their dreadful experiences were, nor about their deaths or their futures. Karen chose to explore the relationship between refugee and landowner, but within an African setting, where xenophobia is as rife as in Europe, though it often manifests itself in different ways despite largely being born of colonialism. By reducing the action of the narrative to two characters, Karen felt that a complex issue could be rendered in simple ways that allowed for a focus on individual experiences.

Social Media:
Amazon Author Page  

Synopsis :

An Island CoverSamuel has lived alone for a long time; one morning he finds the sea has brought someone to offer companionship and to threaten his solitude…
A young refugee washes up unconscious on the beach of a small island inhabited by no one but Samuel, an old lighthouse keeper. Unsettled, Samuel is soon swept up in memories of his former life on the mainland: a life that saw his country suffer under colonisers, then fight for independence, only to fall under the rule of a cruel dictator; and he recalls his own part in its history. In this new man’s presence he begins to consider, as he did in his youth, what is meant by land and to whom it should belong. To what lengths will a person go in order to ensure that what is theirs will not be taken from them?
A novel about guilt and fear, friendship and rejection; about the meaning of home.

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK
Amazon US
Waterstones
Holland House Books 
Foyles
Blackwells

Publishing Information:
Published in hardcover, paperback and digital formats by Holland House Books on 12th November 2020.

Q&A :

Hi

First of all thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions, I really appreciate it. Here we go! 🙂

Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
I am South African, but about four and a half years ago I moved to Brazil with my Brazilian husband. It has been a pretty challenging experience, to be honest, but on the positive side, I have been able to write more than ever before. I go to my desk every day and write, which is a wonderful thing to be able to do as I have always wanted to “be” a writer. However, I didn’t realise that being a writer would mean spending quite so much time in my pyjamas with unbrushed hair. It is very far from glamorous, that’s for certain.
As with many people, I was always writing little stories and books when I was younger, yet, as the years passed and I entered my 20s, I wrote very little, almost beginning to fear writing and the prospect of failure. Eventually I managed to gather my courage and write a novel, Finding Soutbek, and was fortunate enough to have it shortlisted for the inaugural Etisalat Prize for African Fiction. Since then I have published a book of short stories (Away from the Dead), a memoir-travelogue (Travels with my Father), a collection of poetry (Space Inhabited by Echoes), an historical mining novel (Upturned Earth), and now my latest novel – An Island.

Which books did/do you love to read as a child/now as a grown-up?
As a child I loved the classics, many of which were gifts from my father. Of course, I loved Jane Austen and the Brontë’s, but my two favourites were Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy and Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. Both are quite dark for a child. On the other hand, I also loved Asterix comics, so it wasn’t all doom and gloom!
As an adult I have been most specifically drawn to works of social realism. I greatly admire many of the works of Emile Zola, John Steinbeck, and Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, for example. Such works have had a great influence on me and my desire to write about the everyday, or even forgotten, people and the small details of their lives.
Currently I am reading a lot of non-fiction – historical books and natural history. I will be starting a PhD in History next year and I am reading towards that.

Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
Last year I read the autobiography of Anthony Trollope, the nineteenth century writer. I found him fascinating because of his work ethic. He had very strict rules for himself, such as getting up early every morning and writing something like 2000 words before going about his day. He would write 250 words per 15 minutes and made sure to keep a strict log of his progress. Travelling was no excuse for idleness – no matter where he was in the world, he would write, whether it was on a boat or a train, in a carriage, in the jungle, in the desert. He was “merciless”, that’s how he described his attitude to writing. If, for example, he finished writing a book, but he still had ten minutes of allocated writing time or he hadn’t fulfilled his wordcount, he would just pick up a fresh page and start a new book. Parts of this sound so mad to me, while other parts of it make sense, to a certain extent.
Steinbeck, on the other hand, seems to have been quite the opposite. In his diaries that he kept while writing Grapes of Wrath, he records often taking days off to hang out with friends or to enjoy the nice weather. Then he’d frenziedly work to the point of exhaustion for a few days before lounging around again.
I would like to be able to sit with the two of them and have a conversation about writing practice. I imagine it would be quite fascinating, but likely a disaster. I don’t see the two of them getting on very well!

If you could, which fictional character (from your own book(s) or someone else’s) would you like to invite for tea and why?
I suppose this is a rather strange answer: Harold Skimpole from Bleak House by Charles Dickens (though there are very many characters from Dickens that would be just as fascinating). Skimpole is only a minor character. He is a man who has never accepted life as an adult. He remains a child, unable to deal with money or punctuality. He is forever in debt and lives off the kindness of his friends. I read Bleak House for the first and only time when I was 18 or 19 and ever since then have been haunted by the character of Skimpole. In unkind moments I will tell myself that I am just like him and that I am selfish. This same selfishness is what makes me want to meet him. I want to see what he is like in person and whether I really am as bad as all that. Of course, I could also read the novel again and see whether I still feel that there are similarities between the two of us. After all, it has been twenty years! I’d like to think I have improved just a little. (I must say, though, that I have always been very punctual. I cannot stand lateness, which is too bad for me, living in Brazil where people have a very relaxed approach to time).

Do you have some rituals or habits whilst writing?
I am very old fashioned and still write by hand. I will write a page or two in rough, then write it in neat, then maybe write it out one more time (depending on how much I want to change), then I type it up. I write all of the first draft that way until I have a “complete” manuscript, then I put it aside for a few months. When I come back to it, I will go through draft two in a similar way, but won’t necessarily write out everything by hand again – it all depends on how much rewriting and addition I am doing. Then I set it aside for a few months again, then come back and do draft three, and so on, until I am satisfied with the book.

Where do you come up with your idea(s)? Do people in your life need to be worried? 😉
It’s hard to say. Ideas just pop into my mind. I suppose I can’t help but be influenced by my experiences and what I read. I’m trying to think of a more substantial way to answer this, but the truth is no more than that pop in my brain. For example, I was at a writing residency in Denmark finishing my previous novel and went to have a nap. During my nap the idea for An Island popped into my mind and that was that. I also do a fair amount of research towards a book once I have had the initial idea, so that helps too.

Are you a plotter or do you go with the flow, as a pantser?
With my first novel I didn’t do any planning. I knew how it would start and I knew how it would end, but I didn’t know much else. I can’t say that I really enjoyed writing that way. In fact, it was pretty awful. Now I try to be more organised, but not rigidly so. I do some planning, and a fair amount of research as I have said, but I give myself enough room to be able to still be creative and play around. Planning doesn’t always work anyway. Last year I finally completed a manuscript that took me much longer than it ought to have done. I had planned it quite well before starting on it, but by draft three I still felt that it wasn’t working at all. In the end I took the whole thing apart and fixed it by following my instincts rather than any kind of list or mind-map. I am happy with the end result, or at least I was when I last read it in September. Let’s see how I feel when I look at it again. I always end up hating everything I have written.

Can you give novice writers some tips (do’s/don’ts)?
I am sure that I am not going to win any prizes for originality with this one, but my two biggest bits of advice are:
A) Write, even if you think you’re writing rubbish. You can’t improve it unless you have it written down.
B) Edit, edit, edit. Write each sentence, each paragraph, each story, each manuscript many times until it is as close to perfect as you can get it. So many people think that writing one draft is enough. No, absolutely not. You have to rewrite countless times. And I am not talking about just doing a spell-check and changing a word or a comma here and there. You need to look at each and every word and sentence, asking yourself, “Is that the best way to say this?” and “What is this contributing?”

What are your future plans as an author?
I have a completed manuscript that I hope to get published, but the global pandemic has caused a backlog in terms of publishing. Everything is a mess! I will have to wait and see how things pan out. I have another manuscript that is about ¼ done. I need to finish that. But for the immediate future my focus will be on my PhD in History. Hopefully my thesis will be interesting enough to publish!

Last, but not least : Can you give my readers one teaser from your book, which is featured here on my blog, please?
A young refugee washes up unconscious on the beach of a small African island that is inhabited by no one but an old lighthouse keeper. Unsettled by the presence of another person, the keeper is swept up in a series of memories relating to his former life on the mainland, a life that saw his country suffer under colonisers, then take up the fight for independence, only to end up falling under the rule of a cruel dictator. In the man’s presence, he begins to consider, as he did in his youth, what is meant by land and to whom it should belong. To what lengths will a person go in order to ensure that what is theirs will not be taken from them?

Isn’t that a great reason to pick up this book and to find out more?!
Thanks once again for this lovely interview, Karen Jennings.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

dpbt 2

P.S. Are you an author (or publisher) who also wants a FREE interview like this? You can always contact me via e-mail!

#BlogTour #LoveBooksTours @LoveBooksGroup / #QandAs : The Tobacconist’s Wife – AnneMarie Brear @annemariebrear

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

The Tobacconist's Daughter - Twitter

Today I’m on the ‘The Tobacconist’s Wife’ blogtour, organised by Love Books Tour.
To promote this book I have a Q&As post, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

ufVnzFvwAward winning & Amazon UK Bestseller AnneMarie Brear has been a life-long reader and started writing in 1997 when her children were small. She has a love of history, of grand old English houses and a fascination of what might have happened beyond their walls. Her interests include reading, travelling, watching movies, spending time with family and eating chocolate – not always in that order! She is the author of historical family saga novels.

Social Media Links:
Website
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram

Synopsis :

tyaiz98AHaving lost her father, Thea Goodson is alone in the world.
It is true she has a husband, but Ernie is a brutal man, more inclined to use his fists to keep Thea in line than to build on their marriage. And besides, Ernie Goodson has secrets – secrets that even his wife cannot share.
But in Victorian Yorkshire, appearances must be kept up, so Thea goes on powdering her bruises and forcing a smile as she toils in Ernie’s home and tobacco shop. There seems to be no other option.
That is, until a handsome and well-bred stranger arrives to set up shop next door…
Can Thea escape her misery and break from the conventions of society? Or will the clutches of her abusive husband confine her forever?

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK

Q&A :

Hi

First of all thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions, I really appreciate it. Here we go! 🙂

Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
I’m an Australian born author of historical sagas set in England and/or Australia mostly in the Victorian and Edwardian/WWI eras. I started writing in 1997 and was first published in 2006. My books have become Amazon bestsellers.

Which books did/do you love to read as a child/now as a grown-up?
I read a lot as a child and enjoyed Enid Blyton’s stories, as well as Black Beauty and The Silver Brumby.

Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
No, not really. I’ve been writing for a long time and although I keep learning about the business side of being an author, I don’t feel the need to seek advie on how to write my books. I think each writer has to write in their own style, but new writers should be encouraged to ask for advice and learn the trade.

If you could, which fictional character (from your own book(s) or someone else’s) would you like to invite for tea and why?
I’d love to have aparty and invote all my female characters to it and see how they interact with each other. That would be great.

Do you have some rituals or habits whilst writing?
I like to write in the mornings after breakfast when the house is quiet.

Where do you come up with your idea(s)? Do people in your life need to be worried? 😉
No, no one needs to be worried. All my stories are entirely fictional and set in the past. I find ideas from all sorts of sources, especially when I’m researching historical facts. Sometimes, I’ll come across something that piques my interest for another story.

Are you a plotter or do you go with the flow, as a pantser?
I’m a go with the flow kind of writer. I let the characters take me on a journey.

Can you give novice writers some tips (do’s/don’ts)?
One of my tips would be after finishing your story put it away for a few weeks and not look at it. Work on something new, then bring out the story and read it again and you’ll be surprised by how much you’ll see with fresh eyes that might need work.

What are your futureplans as an author?
To continue to write stories that readers enjoy. I would like to write until I’m too old and have to retire. I’d like to see all my books made into audio and hopefully one day some of my books made into movies. I dream big! 😊

Last, but not least : Can you give my readers one teaser from your book, which is featured here on my blog, please?

Behind the shops were two yards, one each, fenced and gated. The river ran at the end of the yards and he could see across to the bank on the other side. Boats of all shapes and sizes plied the water as busy as any road. From somewhere a siren sounded, ending the day’s shift for the workers.
Aware that he was losing the light, Adam tried the latch on the gate, but it was locked. The fence was high, well over seven feet – for he was six feet tall and he couldn’t see over it. He tried the latch again, to no avail.
‘May I help you?’
Adam spun around at the voice and flushed, as though caught breaking into someone’s house. He stared at the woman as she raised her eyebrows at him, her alluring moss green eyes full of inquiry.
‘I apologise. I wasn’t meaning any harm. That is … I was simply trying to see if the gate was open.’
‘Why? The shop and rooms above are empty.’
‘Yes, I understand that.’
‘No one lives here. Are you looking for someone?’
‘No. I wish to inspect the property, and am doing so with an agent, in the morning, at ten o’clock.’ Good heavens, why was he explaining himself like a child?
She relaxed a little, the stiffness leaving her shoulders and she gave him a tiny smile, a mere lift of the corners of her mouth.
‘I’m Thea Goodson, from the tobacconist’s shop next door.’
‘Adam Fitzwilliam.’ Adam held out his hand for her to shake, and after a slight hesitation she did so.

Isn’t that a great reason to pick up this book and to find out more?!
Thanks once again for this lovely interview, AnneMarie Brear.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

Love Books Tour Host

P.S. Are you an author (or publisher) who also wants a FREE interview like this? You can always contact me via e-mail!

#CoverReveal #RachelsRandomResources @rararesources : The Mystery of Montague House – Emma Davies @EmDaviesAuthor

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

Today I’m super pleased to be on the blogtour, organised by Rachel’s Random Resources, to reveal the cover of

The Mystery of Montague House

But first some information

About the Author :

EDC96292-2D2D-4B37-85C8-A204E948FEF1_1_105_cAfter a varied career, Emma Davies once worked for a design studio where she was asked to provide a fun and humorous (and not necessarily true) anecdote for their website. She wrote the following: ‘I am a bestselling novelist currently masquerading as a thirty-something mother of three.’ Well the job in the design studio didn’t work out but she’s now a fifty-something mother of three and is happy to report the rest of her dream came true.
After many years as a finance manager she now writes full time, and is far happier playing with words than numbers. She lives with her husband and three children in rural Shropshire where she writes in all the gaps in between real life.

Social Media Links:
Twitter
Facebook
Instagram

Synopsis :

I saw something out of the corner of my eye as I was leaving, and you know what that means. It’s never good news when I see something out of the corner of my eye…
With enough rooms to fill a Cluedo board several times over, Montague House has often been the subject of rumour and gossip. Tales of strange goings on, an owner who disappeared one day and was never seen again, not to mention the treasure that rumour has it lies at its heart… But now the present owner has died and the house is to be sold. Has the opportunity come to finally settle the stories once and for all?
Clodagh Wynter doesn’t believe in ghostly goings on and tall tales of secrets. She has her feet very firmly on the ground and, tasked with the job of valuing and cataloguing the house and all its contents, she’s simply looking forward to working in such a glorious setting. And if she happens across a priceless painting, well, that’s just icing on the cake.
Andie Summer is a self-styled Finder of Things (dead bodies mostly), and looking for hidden treasure sounds right up her street, even if there was something very fishy about the mysterious Mr Mayfair who hired her. Because it’s just like she said to her faithful basset hound, Hamish; I saw something out of the corner of my eye as I was leaving, and you know what that means. It’s never good news when I see something out of the corner of my eye…
As the unlikely pair are thrown together, it soon becomes very clear that they are not the only ones searching for the treasure. And they’re going to need all their ingenuity and resourcefulness if they’re ever going to untangle the web of secrets that surrounds Montague House. One that reaches even further than they ever thought possible…

After this great teaser I hope you are still excited for the

blog-cover reveal

because this is happening

right now!

1058AA51-03B9-4408-AB9D-D634D84DEB7F

Did this all pique your interest in reading the book? It will be available on January 14th, 2021, but you can already pre-order on Amazon.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

The House in the Hollow #TheHouseInTheHollow – Allie Cresswell @alliescribbler , an #Excerpt

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

blog-excerpt

Today I’m not on a blogtour, but I’m sharing an excerpt of “The House in the Hollow” written by Allie Cresswell to promote this book.
Before I let you read it, I’ll first post some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

B1WUyCFZquS._SY600_Allie Cresswell is the recipient of two coveted One Stop Fiction Five Star Awards and three Readers’ Favorite Awards
Allie was born in Stockport, UK and began writing fiction as soon as she could hold a pencil.
Allie recalls: ‘I was about 8 years old. Our teacher asked us to write about a family occasion and I launched into a detailed, harrowing and entirely fictional account of my grandfather’s funeral. I think he died very soon after I was born; certainly I have no memory of him and definitely did not attend his funeral, but I got right into the details, making them up as I went along (I decided he had been a Vicar, which I spelled ‘Vice’). My teacher obviously considered this outpouring very good bereavement therapy so she allowed me to continue with the story on several subsequent days, and I got out of maths and PE on a few occasions before I was rumbled.’
She went on to do a BA in English Literature at Birmingham University and an MA at Queen Mary College, London.
She has been a print-buyer, a pub landlady, a book-keeper, run a B & B and a group of boutique holiday cottages. Nowadays Allie writes full time having retired from teaching literature to lifelong learners.
She has two grown-up children, two granddaughters and two grandsons, is married to Tim and lives in Cumbria.

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Synopsis :

Cover for ebook**The new novel by the best-selling author Allie Cresswell**
**A prequel to the award-winning Tall Chimneys**

The Talbots are wealthy. But their wealth is from ‘trade’. With neither ancient lineage nor title, they struggle for entrance into elite Regency society. Finally, aided by an impecunious viscount, they gain access to the drawing rooms of England’s most illustrious houses.
Mrs Talbot intends her daughter Jocelyn to marry well, to eliminate the stain of the family’s ignoble beginnings. But the young men Jocelyn meets are vacuous, seeing Jocelyn as merely a substantial dowry. Only Lieutenant Barnaby Willow sees the real Jocelyn, but he is deployed to war.
The hypocrisy of fashionable society repulses Jocelyn—beneath the courtly manners she finds deceit, dissipation and vice. She stumbles upon and then is embroiled in a sordid scandal which threatens utter disgrace for the Talbot family. Humiliated and dishonoured, she is sent to a remote house hidden in a hollow of the Yorkshire moors, irrevocably separated from family, friends and any hope of hearing about the lieutenant’s fate.

Amazon

Excerpt :

The first chapter of any novel is always the most difficult to write. It must do so much! It must draw the reader into the story with the urgency of the grasp of a hand on a jacket lapel, or it must woo and entice her with gentle but irresistible inspiration. It must set the scene, the tone and the time so that the reader is not disorientated; she knows where and when she is. I wanted to introduce the mysterious house that will form the backdrop to my tale, and which will be a catalyst for the story.
Most of all Chapter One must pose the question that the rest of the book goes on to answer. In my case: what has caused the enmity between mother and daughter? What is the nature of the ‘deplorable truth’, the ‘obscene deception’ concealed beneath the ‘façade of respectability’? In these words I also establish an important theme in the book by introducing the idea that respectability can be a front, a smokescreen. For many readers of Regency books this might not sit well; the elegant manners, the propriety are just what they like best about that era.

Chapter One
Yorkshire, November 1811

Our journey this wild, rugged and faraway place took many days, travelling with unseemly speed in a closed, unmarked carriage and attended by strangers. We stopped only to change the blowing, sweat-lathered horses and take hurried sustenance at filthy wayside inns. Mother insisted we retain our veils, even while we ate. She is practiced in subterfuge, at concealing, beneath a façade of respectability, the deplorable truth.
The cold was bitter; no quantity of rugs or blankets could keep my limbs from trembling. To be sure, the weather was appalling. Sheets of rain like relentless curtains of ice-shards assaulted the carriage. It seeped in through the thickly-shrouded windows and ran down the interior, soaking the thin seat-cushion. But the incubus of shock and grief equalled the weather’s onslaught. I could not still my body’s shaking.
My mother, beside me on the seat, offered no word of comfort or of mitigation. She sat like a figure carved from stone, her eyes fixed on the opposite seat. She was as thickly swathed as I, in shawls and wraps, but she did not tremble. Her face, like her intention, her resolution, was iron. She will do this to spite me, and if, in doing it, she spites herself, she does not care.
At night, on the hard, malodorous mattresses we were forced to share, her body emanated no heat and I concluded she has no corporeal warmth, no blood in her veins, no heart to pump it. She is cold, cold, cold. In any case I cannot bear to touch her, or for her to touch me. I hate her.
What little I could see of the country—beyond the ordure-slicked stable yards of the inns—was grim and dour beyond expression. Nothing could be further from the bucolic pastures and gentle hills that surround Ecklington, where I have spent all my life, up to this violent and unexpected removal. The sky, as we travelled, was a charcoal shroud of laden cloud or a deluge of steely, remorseless rain. The days seemed hardly to get light at all. There were smudged hills, dark canvasses of moor, mean-streeted towns of mud and shadow. The people were grey and stooped and spoke a dialect of broken teeth and hacking expectoration.
Then we came here. From a landscape of wind-scoured heath that seemed to go on for eternity until it melded with the storm-torn sky, we plunged down what felt like a sheer ravine. Mother and I were thrown forwards. Her jewel-case, which she had stowed beneath the seat, slid from its place and hit the backs of my ankles with such velocity that I cried out. She gripped the edge of the opposite seat and threw me a look of withering contempt. Trees on either side scratched the sides of our carriage, like skeletal hands of clawing ghosts. I could hear the horses’ hooves scrabbling to keep a purchase on the precipitous slope, their snorts of remonstrance and the answering yell of the coachman as he hauled on their lines. We lurched sharply one way and then the other, thrown against the carriage doors and against each other, jostled like flotsam on a flood. Then, mercifully, the slope levelled, we righted ourselves and the coach skidded to a halt.
The groom got down and opened the carriage door, but with difficulty; the wind would have snatched it from his hand. The door of a building so drear and ugly—all shadows and blackness and forbidding façades—opened and Mother hurried inside. I followed, the door closed and I heard the carriage pull away.
‘Our luggage,’ I called out, but hopelessly.
‘It’s alright miss,’ said a voice that was familiar to me. ‘They’ll bring it in the back. It’s more sheltered there.’
She carried a candle—the only illumination in the room—and held it aloft in such a way that it highlighted her features unnaturally. She was all bony brow and shadowed eyes and hollowed cheek. But I knew her.
‘Annie?’ I said in wonderment.
My pleasure at seeing her—a benign face from the kinder past, a friendly figure—was obliterated by my sense of disappointment; that she should be party to this obscene deception.
‘Come upstairs,’ she said. ‘It’s late. I have a room ready for you.’

The Magic of Wor(l)ds