#BlogTour #LoveBooksTours @LoveBooksGroup / #GuestPost : Die Every Day – Gordon Bickerstaff @GFBickerstaff

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

die everyday.jpg

Today I’m on the ‘Die Every Day’ blogtour, organised by Love Books Group Tour.
To promote this book I have a guest post written by its author, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

817uzfbgdIL._US230_I was born and raised in Glasgow but spent my student years in Edinburgh. On summer vacations, I learned plumbing, garden maintenance, and I cut the grass in the Meadows. If I ran the lawnmower over your toes – sorry.
I learned some biochemistry and taught it for a while before I retired to write fiction. I like DIY and I do some aspects of DIY moderately well and other aspects not so well. I live with my wife in Scotland where corrupt academics, mystery, murder and intrigue exists mostly in my mind.
I write the Lambeth Group series of standalone crime/conspiracy thrillers: Deadly Secrets, Everything To Lose, The Black Fox, Toxic Minds, Tabula Rasa and Tears of Fire.
They feature special investigators Zoe and Gavin. More will come in due course.
I enjoy walking in the hills, 60s & 70s music, reading and travel.

Synopsis :

Die Every DayA woman is murdered in a Glasgow city hotel room. Police have everything they need to charge a suspect. Caught at the scene, he confessed, and he’s filled with guilt and remorse. With undeniable evidence; the police expect him to plead guilty.
Rumours suggest the man will plead not guilty and tell his story. If he faces trial, the truth will cause international outrage and the government will fall.
Faceless mandarins in corridors of power are determined he will remain silent.
Lambeth Group agent, Zoe Tampsin, is ordered to make him plead guilty. What she discovers will crush her soul and place her next in line to be murdered.
Who is pulling the strings? What secrets are they hiding?

Amazon

Guest Post :

My tips for writing a trilogy

If you are planning to write a trilogy then here are a couple of things to bear in mind; planning, foreshadowing and keeping track.

Planning
When I was young, I read Ian Fleming and more recently, I’ve read a lot of Lee Child. I knew I wanted to write a series when I started writing fiction, but I didn’t initially plan the first three books to be a trilogy. To me the prospect of planning for three seemed too overwhelming.
I’ve read that JK Rowling planned her Harry Potter series for five years before she started to write – so planning is a key. The first draft of my first book ran to 130,000 words and I hadn’t finished the story. I realised it would be too large, so I accepted that it would spill into a sequel. Then, as every writer knows, the characters and the story grow organically, and by the time I’d finished the first book, Deadly Secrets, I knew it would become a trilogy.
A big planning decision at the start is whether each book will be self-contained or must be read in sequence to make sense. It is equally possible to have three books in one, or one book in three volumes. The approach for each one is different and it is important to decide early on which it will be. I decided that my thriller series would be standalone books, but that anyone reading the trilogy would gain the added enjoyment of discovering the trilogy story arcs that bind them together.
Every writer has his or her own style, but for me, I have to have the beginning and the end solidly sketched out so I know where I’m coming from and where I am going. So, the ending in the third book, The Black Fox, was known to me when I was writing the first book. I think that it is essential to have that basic structure, so that you can plan for the end of the third book to bring closure to the trilogy. I think it would be difficult for me to write a good ending to the third book that had not been planned in the first two.
Good planning will establish and distinguish book story arcs and trilogy story arcs. The former will be complete in one book and the latter will complete in the third book. Working these out allows you to interweave them so the trilogy arcs become natural background in the book story arcs. I enjoyed the challenge of finding opportunities to fit a trilogy story arc into a book story arc.
For example, I wanted a trilogy romantic arc for Gavin Shawlens that had history (starting when he was sixteen), but not a simple one. One that has been painful and had a dramatic impact on his life.
SPOILER ALERT! In Bk1 he is reunited with the love of his life, and life is good – then it is under threat. In Bk2, this love is completely lost, which leaves him devastated and suicidal. This trilogy arc is embedded in the Bk2 story arcs and the reader thinks the romantic arc is completed. Then in Bk3, a dramatic twist brings the real conclusion of the trilogy romantic arc.

Foreshadowing
The next most important aspect for a trilogy, and one I also find enjoyable, is foreshadowing: building in to the first two books the signposts that allude to events that will occur in the third. This is fun because you can lead the reader in one direction and they will guess what is going to happen then twist the story so it goes elsewhere. I love doing that. You can, of course, do that within each book. For a trilogy, it is extra important.
The trick is to make the foreshadowing an invisible part of the book story arc – not an add-on. There is brilliant foreshadowing in JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series; the horcrux is a brilliant example. In the first Star Wars movie, Obi-Wan knew that Vader was Luke’s father, so Obi-Wan’s dialogue reflects that knowledge. That writing was so good that, when it was finally revealed, it felt like confirmation of what was already suspected – that Vader was his father. In my series, the foreshadowing starts in Bk1 in several story arcs.
I think Bk2 in a trilogy is pivotal for the foreshadowing to get serious. I decided the book story arc in my second book Everything to Lose was not simply a waiting platform for Bk3. So, it has its own start, beginning and end. But if you know where you are going to end up in Bk3 then Bk2 is the place to rack up the tension, deepen the mystery. So, Everything to Lose foreshadows the nightmare that is set to run through The Black Fox.
After the book story arcs have been completed, the last couple of chapters in Bk2 develop the trilogy arc, started earlier in the book, and let the reader know exactly what is at stake and what the main protagonists are prepared to pay to get what they want. This racks the tension – and pitches the wit of a single woman against the mighty US military and the CIA.

Keeping track
Writing a trilogy is a large job so it’s essential to keep detailed notes of characters, places, events, injuries, and all the things that describe, interact with or impact on the characters and the story. You are working on three 100,000-piece puzzles at once as opposed to a single 100,000-piece puzzle. The parts have got to fit together perfectly and many of the pieces must fit in all three puzzles. This can be done with a notebook. I started off with a ring-binder folder so I could keep all manner of things in one place.
Now, I use Microsoft OneNote. I have a separate OneNote book for each novel that I write. There are many ways to keep everything together but it is important to keep notes – and keep them up to date –otherwise John A in Bk1 might be rather different to John A in Bk3. You don’t want to have to read through the first two books to find that detail that you need to keep consistent in the third one. Is Zoe’s injury on her left arm or right arm? – can’t remember!
Have a pad and pencil nearby at all times. It is also useful for keeping the timeline so you know what time of the year it is for the characters and you don’t get the weather mixed up, but that’s probably not so much of a problem for books set in UK where snow in the summer is not impossible. In my trilogy, there is a pregnancy that is a trilogy story arc so it was easy to keep track and make sure it didn’t last twelve months.
It’s important to remember that your brain will be working on your trilogy 24/7 so have a pad and pencil nearby at all times. Suddenly your brain will resolve an issue or add a new idea. I always try to have a small notepad and pencil nearby because my brain throws up good ideas, but at odd times. If I don’t jot them down, ten minutes later they are gone forever.
The last occasion I was caught out was when we went to see Barry Humphries’s Farewell Dame Edna Experience at the Kings Theatre in Glasgow. I can’t remember what Barry was talking about but all of a sudden bump-bump-bump I had worked out the sequence of events to conclude a scene. I didn’t have a pencil or paper so I had to detach my listening for the last twenty minutes of the performance and keep refreshing my mind with the new scene. On the way home, my wife thought I’d fallen out with her but I needed to keep refreshing the scene in my head. Pencil and paper – always.

Gordon Bickerstaff
October 2019

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

#BlogTour #LoveBooksTours @LoveBooksGroup / #GuestPost : The Unlikeliest Backpacker – Kathryn Barnes #KathrynBarnes @HornetBooks

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

unlikliest-backpacker.jpg

Today I’m on the ‘The Unlikeliest Backpacker’ blogtour, organised by Love Books Group Tour.
To promote this book I have a guest post written by its author, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

Pix_KB2ColourAspiring writer, entrepreneur… adult. The one vocation Kathryn has successfully nailed so far is Daydreamer. Her varied ambitions and overall life trajectory has taken a bit of a turn of late. A born-and-bred Londoner, Kathryn is discovering there is more to life than the corporate rat race. It began with a six-month trip through South America whetting her travelling wanderlust, which led to the decision to quit her job as a management consultant.
More recently she upped the adventure ante, swapping city life for the wilderness, on an ambitious walk hundreds of miles along America’s Pacific Crest Trail. The plan raised eyebrows from all who knew her – an uncharacteristic leap for a girl who refuses to sleep on the floor. The results were both brutal and awe-inspiring.
Kathryn has never been an ‘outdoorsy’ person. But the simple, reflective, time spent in the natural environment left a deep imprint. She still (reluctantly) resides in London, but the mountains are calling. She may even camp again. Someday.

For the latest information about Kathryn visit:
Website
Instagram

Synopsis :

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You reach a certain age. You have a lifestyle many would envy. Still, something doesn’t feel right. Life’s become routine. You sense there’s more out there to experience and explore. There’s an urge gnawing away inside you to do something different. But what?
Before Kathryn Barnes knew it, plans had snowballed – she’d quit her city job and flown to America to begin living life in the wild, walking hundreds of miles along the Pacific Crest Trail.
The Unlikeliest Backpacker chronicles Kathryn and her husband Conrad’s life-changing journey as aspiring long-distance hikers. With Canada eye-wateringly far away, they had to learn to backpack while surviving everything the famous trail threw at them – mosquitoes, mountains, malnutrition, and many, many, miles. How hard could it be?
Very hard, as it turns out! But also deeply rewarding. Kathryn’s entertaining memoir proves that you don’t have to be special, or an experienced adventure junkie to disconnect from the modern world and play out the journey of a lifetime.

Amazon

Guest Post :

Tantrums, Tears, and Wonder on The Pacific Crest Trail

Kathryn Barnes recalls the challenge of writing a daily blog whilst hiking through America’s immense wilderness. Kathryn’s blog has since been transformed into an inspiring pacey novel, which details the story of her great adventure.

“Okay. I’m off to do my homework”, I huffed reluctantly, sparking my headlight as I turned away from the campfire, darting into the tent before the mosquitos could join.
It was day 62 of living in the wild, deep within Washington State’s Glacier Peak Wilderness. Beyond the nylon shelter, the sound of an icy-cold creek crashing off the ridge above pierced an otherwise ghostly grove of old-growth firs. The dense smell of trees coated in moss, damp dirt, and fungi now felt comfortingly familiar.
Earlier that day, America’s vast wilderness had continued to punish and reward. My husband Conrad and I had tackled 14,000 feet of elevation change. Winding up steep mountain passes, through lush meadows, down tight switch-backs descending into deep green valleys below. We crossed perilous, glacial-fed streams, soaking our t-shirts to fight off the heat. On our backs, helping to make our feet increasingly swollen, were 30-pound mega-packs, which we hoped contained all the supplies we needed to stay alive. Twenty-three miles of Sound of Music-worthy scenery later, we called it a day.
I was exhausted. I felt the same every day. When was it going to get, well, easier? My stomach rumbled with the common pangs of discontent, never fully satisfied. Yet, as tempting as it felt, I couldn’t disappoint my future-self by failing to record that day’s wanderings. How could I risk forgetting a single moment of what I would later come to recognise as the greatest adventure of my life? Even if I didn’t appreciate that part quite yet.
The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) runs the entire length of the United States. It begins at a wire fence designating Mexico, leads 2,650 miles along America’s mountainous western backbone, and arrives at a conifer-lined border with Canada. Each year thousands of hikers secure permits in an attempt to conquer the trail. Many fail to make it the entire way. Yet romantically, these (mostly) young, fit, determined souls approach the trail with fantasies of the impending months away from their real lives, immersed in nature.
Conrad and I were not those people. We had both reached our thirties without carrying a fully-loaded backpack, let alone walking more than 10 miles in a single day. We had no idea what we were in for. It was farcical really. But the motivation came from an urge to do something. Life wasn’t working out too great in the hostile corporate world, we needed a time-out, and spurred on by the idea of a challenge we rather randomly decided to walk a 950-mile section through Oregon and Washington. I’ve always hated camping. I feared being in the woods after dark. Our families naturally ran bets over how long – in days – we’d last.
Before departing for America, I created a blog to keep our family posted. I thought of it as a courtesy, enabling them to track who was currently winning in the betting stakes. As much of the trail passes through isolated terrain, I decided to use the WordPress app to draft daily updates on my mobile, adding photos for upload whenever we reached a strong enough signal. Hunched over the tiny phone’s screen each night, threating the battery might die any moment, I often cursed myself for making this commitment. But I kept it up, fearing Mum would panic if the updates suddenly stopped. I also loved receiving comments on posts – sometimes from complete strangers, providing a sense of connection from afar.
I certainly never intended my messy, grammatically challenged blog would be transformed into a book, but after returning home to London I found myself unable to let go. I’d stare at photos for hours knowing the trail was still out there. And with winter drawing in, our surrogate wooded home would soon be covered in impenetrable snow. So far away, I felt compelled to keep it close. To keep its memory alive.
The Unlikeliest Backpacker spawned from my attempt to record the summer’s memories for personal posterity. I never expected anyone else would be interested, let alone want to publish the finished product. From my little flat in Bermondsey I spent long, grey months transporting myself back to a wonderous land of big blue sky and endless horizons. I got to re-live the miles of physical hardship, revel at the epic sights, smile at the memory of the generous people we met along the way, and at the mixture of tantrums and tears (often of laughter) our amateur shenanigans brought to the mountains. No two days on the trail were ever the same. Never had I felt so alive.
New to writing, I found the process a perfect tonic for the winter blues, “cathartic” as they say. Though based on the blog, the book is more intimate and personal. With time for reflection, I was able to look deeper, and to show emotion that I felt uncomfortable sharing on social media. The blog was, after all, a heavily sanitised version of events, a version aware of online scrutiny and paranoid about giving too much away in “real time”. The book allowed me, somewhat irrationally, to be my most honest self. I could include people and events I dare not blog about – mostly out of concern for my Mum – and without the heavy use of photographs beside the text, I was charged with bringing the trail to life by sparking readers’ imaginations.
I hope to return to the trail one day. Sure, this dream may prove a little tougher to facilitate with the baby that followed this past April, but there’s still over 1,700 miles left to discover. An absurd bucket-list item for the girl who vowed she would never camp again…
Back in the tent, by the time I finish chronicling the day’s absurd ramblings Conrad is snoring besides me. I steal a solitary moment to honour our achievement (we’re still alive after all), before deciding to add another pair of socks to fight off the frigid August air.

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The Magic of Wor(l)ds

#BlogTour #LoveBooksTours @LoveBooksGroup / #Excerpt : The Vagabond Mother – Tracey Scott-Townsend @AuthorTrace @Wildpressed

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

Vagabond Mother

Today I’m on the ‘The Vagabond Mother’ blogtour, organised by Love Books Group Tour.
To promote this book I have an excerpt, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

71nl3nEwGqL._US230_Tracey is a visual artist who began to write full-time in 2010. She is happiest on the road in the Bus-with-a-Woodstove and in the cosy domain of her shed. Her novels are about family relationships, a sense of place, sexual love and motherhood, the lynchpins of human emotion. She has four grown children, a husband and various animals.

Synopsis :

The Vagabond Mother front cover (1)Not every Vagabond is a Castaway…
Maya Galen’s oldest son, Jamie, left home eight years ago after a massive row with his parents and now Joe, her youngest child and apple of her eye, has cut off all contact with them too.
Called to Australia to identify the body of a young man, Maya is given her son’s journal. After a sleepless night she decides that the only thing she can do is follow in Joe’s footsteps and try to discover her most basic human self. Eschewing a monetary lifestyle, from now on she must rely on her physical and emotional strength to survive.
Following Joe’s hand-drawn maps and journal entries, she travels from Australia to Denmark and beyond, meeting many other travellers along the way and learning valuable lessons.
Eventually a crisis forces her to return home and confront the end of her marriage, but also a new understanding of what family, in the widest sense, really means.

Exploring the big questions at the heart of human existence, The Vagabond Mother shares territory with books and films such as Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer, The Way, starring Martin Sheen, Wild: A Journey from Lost to Found by Cheryl Strayed and Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.

The Vagabond Mother - Full Cover

Amazon

Excerpt :

Jamie
Berlin, Christmas Day, 2016

The apartment was crammed with people. Jamie’s mother-in-law, Amina, had brought her fiancé. He was a stooped, shy man who’d arrived in Germany at the same time as Amina and Lejla. His family had been lucky to remain complete throughout the Bosnia-Herzegovina war but Tarik had now been a widower for six years. It was a constant source of sorrow to Lejla and her mother that the body of Amina’s husband – Lejla’s father – had never been discovered. Twenty-two years hadn’t dampened Lejla’s nightmares. Jamie caught his wife’s eyes and blew her a kiss. Tarik’s son and daughter were also present at the party, along with the upstairs neighbours and Joe’s mates from the warehouse in the less-gentrified area of Kreuzberg. The doorbell rang again. Jamie squeezed a pathway for himself down the crowded corridor to answer it. It was a couple with two children around Electra’s age. He heard Electra’s squeal of delight as the children tunnelled their way into the kitchen ahead of their parents.
Everybody had brought food to share and an eclectic feast was laid out on the long table in the kitchen. Jamie watched with interest as his brother interacted with Tarik’s son. The tilting of the two young blokes’ heads echoed each other as did their sudden flashes of smiles. Joe had flushed cheeks. Jamie nodded sagely to himself. Perhaps he had at last got over his feelings for the boy on the boat. About time. Joe was finally coming out of himself – in every way, Jamie reckoned.
Electra had a new remote-controlled car and was whizzing it around the kitchen floor between legs and bumping it into everybody’s ankles. Jamie wasn’t alarmed therefore, when he heard a sharp cry from Lejla, the other side of the crowded room. She must have got hit again. He carried on talking to Tarik. Then he heard raised voices. ‘Where’s Jamie?’ They were shouting. ‘Jamie, get over here, something’s wrong with Lejla.’
He focussed on Lejla through the parting crowd. She was doubled over, her face streaked with tears. ‘It hurts,’ she whispered through gritted teeth, when he managed to get his face close enough to hers to hear what she was saying.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

#BlogTour #LoveBooksTours @LoveBooksGroup / #Excerpt : King of Hearts – Mark Stibbe @markstibbe @malcolmdown

– ‘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 ‘King of Hearts’ blogtour, organised by Love Books Group Tour.
To promote this book I have an excerpt written by its authors, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

MS BIO PHOTOMark Stibbe, “An acclaimed Christian author,” New York Times.
Mark started writing when he was very young, publishing his first book – an anthology of poetry entitled The Drawing out of Days – when he was just 17. Since then, he has been a prolific author and professional writer, with over 50 books published, and countless articles in broadsheet newspapers, journals and magazines. One of his most successful recent books has been Home at Last, offering a faith-based journey of recovery for those who were deeply affected by the trauma of being sent away to boarding school. He has also ghost written over thirty books, of many different genres.
In 2013, Mark migrated from writing nonfiction to fiction and this resulted in the co-authored historical spy thriller The Fate of Kings and now his debut, single-authored novel, King of Hearts, a raw but redemptive Christmas tale in the tradition of A Christmas Carol and It’s a Wonderful Life. In early 2020, as the official storyteller for the award-winning Arokah Puzzle Game, he and Steve Brazier, the inventor of the puzzle, will publish the first in a series of Sci Fi Fantasy novels based around Arokah and starring Khali, an autistic, mixed-race hero. These are aimed at the 9-13 age group.
Mark runs BookLab with his wife Cherith, a company dedicated to equipping aspiring writers to become great authors. He is a frequent and much in-demand speaker at workshops for writers and conferences in which the subjects of his books are featured. He has often been interviewed on BBC (Radio and TV), Channel 4 and other media, and writes articles for The Times. Having been brought up by an adoptive father who dined fortnightly with CS Lewis, his whole life has been devoted to books and to writing. He lives in Kent with his wife Cherith and their Black Labrador, Bella.

Synopsis :

51cU2s9TvrLKing of Hearts tells the gripping story of Jake Graystone, a struggling teacher, husband, and father, who looks for easy money playing poker. When his wife Sally exposes his secret addiction on Christmas Eve, he walks out and heads north for Casino City, leaving his family for a dark world of gambling, prostitution and murder.
How will the cards fall for Jake in this brutal, urban wasteland? And, as the stakes get higher and higher, will this modern Desperado ever come to his senses?
King of Hearts is a winter, festive story to sit alongside It’s a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol. Raw yet redemptive, it is a Christmas tale you’ll not be able to put down.
At the end of each chapter, you will want to twist, not fold.

The King of Hearts Cover - Full Cover.jpg

Excerpt :

Chapter 2

Jake collected his ticket with the table and seat number and stepped onto the escalator. When he reached the top, there were slot machines and tables positioned under dangling copper lights and enormous chandeliers. Hundreds of people were playing, some sitting at machines which chirped and chirruped, flashed and glowed, others standing at tables, placing bets at Roulette and Blackjack.
Jake stopped behind a middle-aged lady who was sitting at a terminal and playing games with exotic names full of Eastern promise – The Book of Ra and Pharaoh’s Fortune. Every so often, an alluring statement would appear as if by magic in front of her: ‘Win Free Spins in the Mystical Bonus!’ Jake had no idea what this meant but he sensed the woman did, as her hands moved with the speed and precision of a concert pianist around the flashing buttons at the base of the screen in front of her.
Jake left the bleeping and chiming of her machine and headed towards the tables. The first one had a Roulette wheel. Jake watched as a man with a scruffy beard, smart jeans, leather jacket and suede shoes took a £20 note out of his pocket. Within ten minutes, he had built a small stack of chips.
Jake glanced at his watch. 6.58 p.m. It was time to head to the poker room. He found a section of the floor cordoned off by a glass partition. Beyond it was the brave new world that Jake so craved – a richly carpeted space with twelve poker tables and nearly one hundred poker players primed to play. Before he entered, Jake drew the grey hood over his head and, grasping the toggles, tightened the garment into a cowl.
Jake made his way around the room and found his seat. As he sat down, one of the players observed his hoodie. He called him ‘the Monk’, a name that everyone at the table, and indeed the casino, used from then on.
A dealer in a baggy waistcoat leant towards Jake and said, ‘£50 in chips for you, sir.’ She used her hands like a snow plough to shovel his new stack towards him.
Jake hugged his counters with both arms. These were not like the chips he was used to in the pub poker games. These were made of ceramic material and had their value printed on them. They made a brighter, lighter sound when Jake rattled them between his fingers. This is the real deal, Jake thought.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

#BlogTour #LoveBooksTours @LoveBooksGroup / #GuestPost : Candy Canes and Buckets of Blood – Heide Goody & Iain Grant @HeideGoody @IainMGrant

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

Candy canes and blood (1)

Today I’m on the ‘Candy Canes and Buckets of Blood’ blogtour, organised by Love Books Group Tour.
To promote this book I have a guest post written by its author, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Authors :

Iain and Heide by Pete C b+wHeide lives in North Warwickshire with her husband and a fluctuating mix of offspring and animals. Iain lives in South Birmingham with his wife and a fluctuating mix of offspring and animals. They aren’t sure how many novels they’ve written together since 2011 but it’s a surprisingly large number.

Synopsis :

Elf Story cover 4Christmas is a time for families to come together.
Guin Roberts can’t think of anything worse than visiting a Christmas market with her new family. Guin is perfectly happy with her own company and doesn’t want that disrupted by her wisecracking stepbrother and his earnest mum.
Their Christmas celebrations are invaded by a sleigh full of murderous elves. And it doesn’t matter if they’ve been naughty or nice — these elves are out for blood.
Can the family band together to survive the night? Or will Santa’s little helpers make mincemeat of them all?

Amazon

Guest Post :

Location

The locations in which stories take place are important. Many of the stories Heide and I write take place in very specific and real locations. In our Clovenhoof series of books, the action takes place in Sutton Coldfield and you can go to the pub Clovenhoof drinks in or the church he causes all manner of trouble in. The Oddjobs books we write take place in the utterly real Birmingham I live in. The tunnels and hidden spaces and pieces of crazy history Morag and the gang encounter are really real and really there — we even have an Authors’ Notes section at the back to make this clear.
Candy Canes and Buckets of Blood is one of the other stories. We don’t make it clear where it’s set and some of the names are made up. And yet, it is based on some very real places. There are two very clear and very different locations that inspired Candy Canes.
The first is the village of Castleton in Derbyshire. I’ve just had to Google to check it’s a village, not a town because it’s a very busy village. The countryside around is dominated by sheep-covered hillsides, steep passes that are closed with the first snows and deep and dramatic caves that you won’t see anywhere else in the country. The village sits in a valley beneath a small but imposing castle. A river runs through it. Such a place is naturally popular with tourists so the village has several fine pubs and plenty of the kinds of tea shops I like. I like Castleton. It’s a distilled version of what people expect from the Peak District and from the English countryside. It is, for want of a better word, quaint.
For the purposes of our story, it was ideal. It was the kind of place our story family would choose to visit for a night away and its cutesy quaint charms hide the fact that, when it gets dark and the weather closes in, that corner of England can be an isolated and dangerous place. Britain doesn’t have much true wilderness but we city-dwellers forget that, out in the country, it’s quite easy to be stuck somewhere where doctors, police, tow trucks and food supplies can’t be swiftly summoned. Isolation is a key element of horror.
The other location that Candy Canes draws from is the German Christmas Market in Birmingham. It’s become a growing trend over the past twenty years for British cities to hold German-style markets in the city centre in the run up to Christmas. Birmingham’s is the largest such market in the UK, attracting 5.5 million visitors in 2018. It’s huge. Whether you like it or not is a matter of taste. Some people would argue that the stalls are the same stalls every year, that the ‘craftsmanship’ on offer is manufactured, that its horribly over-crowded and if you visit on a weekend, it’s like fighting through Black Friday sales. These people are correct. Other people would argue that its little alpine chalet stalls and German accoutrement transform the city into a charming village, that the food is delicious, the rides are entertaining and that it has a genuine Christmassy buzz about it. These people are also correct. Each year, I take my daughters there and we know exactly what we’re doing — get in early before the crowds, get a hot dog, a crepe, go on a carousel and buy a wooden instrument in the shape of an animal and a candle ornament for their mum. Fifty minutes later, I’m fifty quid poorer but it’s a true part of the Christmas experience.
For our book, we wanted to create a town that was 100% Christmas, as though the Birmingham Christmas Market had taken on a life of its own. Glühwein, gingerbread, nutcrackers, stollen, mead, baubles, lights — all of it, everywhere. We transplanted the heart of the German Market and placed it in our fictional town of Alvestowe (secretly Castleton).
Together, we hope we created the perfect setting for our Candy Canes story — a town overloaded with the quaintness and charm of Christmas in a rural village idyll but where, behind the scenes, wild dangers and secret figures lurk. And elves. Lots and lots of evil Christmas elves.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

#BlogTour #LoveBooksTours @LoveBooksGroup / #GuestPost : A Phoenix Rising: The House of the Red Duke – Vivienne Brereton @VivienneBreret1

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

pheonix rising (1).jpg

Today I’m on the ‘A Phoenix Rising: The House of the Red Duke’ blogtour, organised by Love Books Group Tour.
To promote this book I have a guest post written by its author, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

unnamedBorn near historic Winchester in the UK, Vivienne Brereton has been passionate about the Tudors for as long as she can remember. This led to a degree in medieval history at university where she met her future husband. Three sons later and six countries she called home, she finally felt ready to write a novel.
Words have always played an important part in Vivienne’s life whether it’s been writing, editing, teaching English to foreigners, or just picking up a good book. In preparation for her novel, she read intensively on the skills needed to write well and did an enormous amount of research which she greatly enjoyed. Having three sons was helpful when she came to write about the characters, Tristan and Nicolas. All those squabbles she had to deal with came in very handy. She also used her husband and sons as guinea pigs for her Tudor cookery attempts with varying degrees of success (abuse).
Seeing ‘A Phoenix Rising’ in print for the first time was a moment of great joy for her and she hopes you enjoy reading it as much as she enjoyed writing it.

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Synopsis :

72dpi A Phoenix Rising Book Cover“If I have anything to do with it, we Howards will live forever.”
Thomas Howard Charismatic head of one of the most powerful Houses in Tudor England. An indomitable old man approaching eighty: soldier, courtier, politician, a ‘phoenix’ rising from the ashes. After a calamitous period of disgrace, the Howards, renowned for their good looks and charm, are once more riding high at the court of Henry VIII.
Set against the backdrop of the extraordinary 1520 ‘Field of Cloth of Gold’, it is a tale of ambition, love, and intrigue, with Thomas at the centre of this intricate tapestry.
Will Thomas’s bold vow be fulfilled? Danger stalks the corridors of the royal courts of Europe. Uneasy lies the head beneath a crown. Every other ruler – a fickle bedfellow…or sworn enemy.
The action takes place in England, Scotland, and France. On either side of the Narrow Sea, four young lives are interwoven, partly unaware of each other, and certainly oblivious to what Dame Fortune has in store for them.
Nicolas de La Barre laid his lute to one side, hardly bothering to stifle a yawn of boredom. Nevertheless, he couldn’t escape the fact he’d agreed to take on a new wife….”
Explosive family secrets are concealed behind the ancient walls of castles in three lands. But… “There are no secrets that time does not reveal.

Amazon US
Amazon UK
It is also available to order through bookshops everywhere.

Guest Post :

WHY I DECIDED TO INCLUDE RECIPES IN MY NOVEL

I’m a bit (quite a lot) of a foodie so there’s an awful lot of food, and plenty of drink in ‘A Phoenix Rising’ Book One of ‘The House of the Red Duke’. As the novel is set in four locations: England, Scotland, France, and the Burgundian Netherlands, I found myself in several medieval kitchens which was a great treat! Even doing the research was interesting…and mouth-watering. I used many sources, including Barbara Ketcham Wheaton’s ‘Savouring the Past’; ‘The Art of cookery in the Middle Ages’ and ‘Early French Cookery’ by Terence Scully and his wife, Eleanor.
When Ingrid, an old friend of mine, read one of the final drafts she said, ‘You keep mentioning delicious sounding dishes and drinks. Why don’t you include some recipes?’ I’ve always loved it when writers do that and the idea had already flitted through my mind but the moment Ingrid said it, I knew that’s what I had to do. To make some of the dishes myself from the original medieval recipes.
In these days of incredible technological advances it was easy peasy, lemon squeezy for me to press a couple of buttons and find a website that would take me back to medieval cookbooks such as ‘A Proper newe Booke of Cokerye’ or ‘Two fifteenth century cookbooks’. Picking out a few tasty looking recipes I’d already mentioned in the story, a different friend of mine (who’s an amazing cook) and I sat down and worked out the ingredients and quantities, For me, going back in time and trying the original recipes myself was so exciting and enjoyable. I have the very generous Sophie Jackson, author of ‘The Medieval Christmas’’, (Sutton 2005) to thank for the inclusion of two of her ‘ready made’ recipes for ‘Stirling Castle Twelfth Night Cake’ and ‘Zennor Castle Mince Pie’.
Much to the consternation/horror of my family, I converted our kitchen into a Tudor stronghold for a fortnight while I produced dishes with varying degrees of approval. I must confess the French Cameline sauce with breadcrumbs and red wine didn’t really do it for me either. But did it really deserve the noises of disgust from one of my sons? If I had to describe the cuisine, I think I’d probably say it was Middle Eastern because of the large variety of spices used. The flavours were delicate and subtle, with no sign of the apocryphal rotten meat of Hollywood movies, lurking beneath the spices. Medieval kitchens were incredibly well-organized and not the places of low-hygiene we might think. It was a challenge easily overcome for me to source the spices, either online, in more adventurous delicatessens, or market stalls. I enjoyed adding the new exotic jars to my spice rack: threads of saffron; galingale; grains of paradise; mace.
If I’m totally honest, the family breathed a big sigh of relief when the fortnight was over and they could have ‘normal’ food again. When I had the book launch this July, I told my husband I was going to make some Tudor gingerbread. ‘Oh, don’t go to any trouble,’ he said, (not being a fan of the trial batch I’d made) trying to be tactful. I’m glad I ignored his ‘concern’ and went ahead and made it anyway. It went down a treat, with everyone surprised at how good it was. You really should try it.
Bon Appetit!

Marazion May Day Fair Gingerbread
Gyngerbrede

250g clear honey
200g fresh white breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 long pepper or 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 strands of saffron

To decorate: Fresh box leaves, such as marjoram or bay leaves or basil. Whole cloves to keep the leaves in place.

1) Slowly bring the honey to the boil in a saucepan.
2) Turn the heat down very low and add the spices. Cook for a couple of minutes and then gradually add the breadcrumbs, stirring all the time.
3) The mixture should be very stiff, if not, add a few more breadcrumbs.
4) Turn out onto a board and roll it flat until about an inch thick.
5) Line a shallow rectangular tin with greased paper and lay the mixture flat inside. Press it down with your fingers.
6) Place it in the fridge for two hours.
7) Turn the pan upside down and place the gingerbread on a plate.
8) Cut it up to your own taste. Squares, hearts, diamonds. Roll some into balls if you so wish.
9) Decorate the top by taking a whole clove and pressing it into two leaves of your choice.
10) It stores well in a tin.

 

#BlogTour #LoveBooksTours @LoveBooksGroup / #GuestPost : The Devil’s Apprentice – Kenneth B. Andersen @K_B_Andersen

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

Devils-apprentice.jpg

Today I’m on the ‘The Devil’s Apprentice’ blogtour, organised by Love Books Group Tour.
To promote this book I have a guest post written by its author, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

Author PicI WAS BORN IN DENMARK ON A DARK AND STORMY NIGHT IN NOVEMBER 1976 …
… and I began writing when I was a teenager. My first book was a really awful horror novel titled Nidhug’s Slaves. It didn’t get published. Luckily.
During the next 7 years, I wrote nearly 20 novels–all of which were rejected–while working as a school teacher. The rest of the time I spent writing.
In 2000 I published my debut fantasy book, The Battle of Caïssa, and that’s when things really took off. Since then I’ve published more than thirty-five books for children and young adults in genres ranging from fantasy to horror and science fiction.
My books have been translated into more than 15 languages and my series about the superhero Antboy has been adapted for film, which is available on Netflix. An animated tv series is currently in development.
A musical of The Devil’s Apprentice opened in the fall 2018 and the movie rights for the series have also been optioned.
I live in Copenhagen with my wife, two boys, a dog named Milo and spiders in the basement.
About THE GREAT DEVIL WAR: The Great Devil War was published in Denmark from 2005-2016, beginning with The Devil’s Apprentice.
Even though the story (mostly) takes place in Hell and deals with themes like evil, death and free will, it is also a humoristic tale about good and evil seen from a different perspective. A tale that hopefully will make the reader – young or old, boy or girl – laugh and think.
Welcome to the other side!

Author Links:
Kenneth B. Andersen
Twitter
Facebook
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Synopsis :

Book CoverPhilip is a good boy, a really good boy, who accidentally gets sent to Hell to become the Devil’s heir. The Devil, Lucifer, is dying and desperately in need of a successor, but there’s been a mistake and Philip is the wrong boy. Philip is terrible at being bad, but Lucifer has no other choice than to begin the difficult task of training him in the ways of evil. Philip gets both friends and enemies in this odd, gloomy underworld—but who can he trust, when he discovers an evil-minded plot against the dark throne?

Goodreads

Amazon

The Great Devil War Books 1 – 3

Guest Post :

“Isn’t it boring to be a writer?”

I do a lot of talks in schools, talking to students about my books and about being a writer. It’s a nice way for me to get away from the computer and – being a former school teacher – I really enjoy talking to the students. And – being a writer – I really enjoy being reminded that there are readers out there. They always have a lot of questions and almost every time the above question comes up – usually asked by a boy in the 8th grade. And the question is legit and totally understandable, because what does a writer actually do? You sit and look at a computer screen, containing nothing but letters, all day long. For a kid in the 8th grade it’s very hard to imagine anything more boring than that.
My answer to his question is, that he’s absolutely right. I think it sounds boring, too – the keyword being sounds. Because being a writer is without a doubt the job where you get to travel the most and where you get to see the most amazing places! Just a few examples from my life as a writer: I’ve been to Hell, I’ve seen the future, I’ve had tea with Death and I’ve visited Santa’s workshop.
Because when you’re sitting there writing, you’re not just sitting there writing. You’re with your characters in whatever world you’ve created and that’s as exciting as … well, Hell. Just like reading isn’t about staring at letters, but being sucked into another world and another mind, being presented with ideas you never would have come up with yourself. Ideas that might inspire you and sometimes even change your way of thinking.
I started writing because it’s an easy way of telling stories. Grab a pen and paper or turn on the computer and you’re good to go, ready to travel to other worlds. It really is that easy. The not easy part is writing a good story. That takes time, effort and practice. But as scary as the blank page can be, it can also be very inspiring: Worlds are waiting to be born, and you are the one who can create them. So is being a writer boring? No, it’s like being God. Literally.  The only difference between me and God is that I get paid for my job (okay, that might not be the only difference, but you get the picture 😊)

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

#CoverReveal #LoveBooksTours @LoveBooksGroup : I Can See The Lights – Russ Litten @RussLitten @Wildpressed

– ‘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 Love Books Group Tour, to reveal the cover of

I Can See The Lights
by
Russ Litten

But first some information

About the Author :

russ-picRuss Litten is the author of the novels Scream If You Want To Go FasterSwear DownKingdom and the short story collection We Know What We Are.
As one half of the electronic storytelling duo Cobby and Litten, he has released three spoken word/electronica albums My People Come From The SeaBoothferry and Pound Shop Communism.
He has written for TV, radio and film and has worked as a writer in residence at various prisons and youth offender units. I Can See The Lights is his first poetry collection. 

Synopsis :

The prose poems in I Can See The Lights are earthy and raw, but also incredibly sensitive. It’s pretty much guaranteed that more than one of them will bring you to tears. Characters are vividly brought to life, and stark but warm environments evoked in a down to earth, yet almost painterly manner by Russ Litten’s uncompromising voice.
Tales of home, of un-belonging, of strife at sea – of a northern city’s beating heart. Told in a mesmeric, stripped-down tone, this collection is a work of genius.

After this great teaser I hope you are still excited for the cover reveals, because this is happening

right now!

I Can See the Lights front (1).jpg

Did this all pique your interest in reading the book? It’s available from today.

The Magic Of Wor(l)ds

#BlogTour #LoveBooksTours @LoveBooksGroup / #GuestPost : Stand Against Injustice – Michelle Diskin @Michelle_Diskin @malcolmdown

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

Stand Against Injustice

Today I’m on the ‘Stand Against Injustice’ blogtour, organised by Love Books Group Tour.
To promote this book I have a guest post written by its author, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

Author pic MichelleBates-006 (1)Mother of three, campaigner for justice and Committed Christian.
Michelle campaigned for eight years for the release of her disabled brother, Barry George, after he was wrongly convicted in 2001, for the high profile murder of BBC television presenter, Jill Dando. Mr George was acquitted in 2007 and sent for re-trial in 2008. He was found not guilty, by unanimous jury verdict on 1st August 2008.
Born in Fulham, London in 1955, Michelle lived in West London until 1973. She then moved to Cork, Ireland, where she lived until 2012, with her three adult children. Michelle’s first husband, Patrick, died unexpectedly in 2007 after a short illness, but, with God’s grace, she is now married again, to Peter, who supports her in her Miscarriage of Justice (MOJ) activities. They are both committed Christians, who worship at a Baptist church in Northamptonshire, taking on many responsibilities within the fellowship.
Retired now, Michelle always worked outside of the home in various industries, and at all levels from cleaner to management. Her ethos being: do the job to the best of your abilities, as a service to others, regardless of the task. She has trained as an Image Consultant and most recently, as a weight loss consultant.
Since her brother’s wrongful incarceration, she has become a public speaker at Miscarriage of Justice conferences across the UK, and has also been a guest speaker at the Spiritual Health Weekends for women, run by Nancy Goudie. Also a guest lecturer at University College Cork and Portsmouth University to Law students interested in Miscarriage of Justice. Also attending APPGs on miscarriage of justice in Parliament.
Michelle is still in touch with many families of the wrongly convicted, including those convicted under Joint Enterprise. She also has connections with various MOJ organisations, e.g. Mojo Scotland, The Innocence Project in UK Universities, and a variety of legal representatives and released victims of MOJ.
She is interested in the refusal of the Judiciary to pay compensation under section 133., ‘Not innocent enough’ or ‘A jury, properly directed, could have convicted’, both of which still affect her brother.

Synopsis :

9781910786246 (1)On April 26, 1999, BBC TV presenter Jill Dando was murdered outside her home in London. Barry George was convicted and imprisoned for the murder but was later acquitted after an appeal and retrial. Stand Against Injustice is the powerful memoir of the sister of Barry George. For the first time, Michelle Diskin Bates tells her story, the human side and truth behind one of recent history’s most high profile and damaging miscarriages of justice whose life is inextricably interwoven in the drama, the trauma, the conspiracy and the fight for justice. A self-confessed ‘ordinary housewife’, Michelle’s voice weaves the personal everyday struggles that bring depth, color, and passion into what is an extraordinary account. A troubled childhood weighted with overbearing responsibility, fear and insecurity, depression, and the challenges of marriage and adult relationships, Michelle’s life has never been easy. However, the one constant in her life – her faith in God – underpins and provides the foundation upon which she now stands – against injustice.

Amazon

Guest Post :

No Reverse Gear

Truly, I believed the story I told myself. The anecdote, that as soon as my book was written, as soon as the public had access to the truth, I would hang up my virtual pen forever, relax into retirement and the relative comfort of anonymity again.
I’ve always been a reluctant speaker. Media interviews, being on stage, or a guest speaker was something dragged from me by necessity. I would do the job God had set me, write my book Stand Against Injustice, then I would walk off into the sunset with my lovely husband, Peter, and relative obscurity. I’d imagined us enjoying Orient Express inspired train journeys across continents. Or the breeze as we promenaded on the decks of a cruise boat.
Then the book was published, and my dreams of freedom and obscurity were shattered. Life is now a round of public speaking events – at miscarriage of justice conferences, writing clubs, community groups and legal students. Then there are trips to London to attend Parliament for All Party Parliamentary Groups, focusing on aspects of the justice system. I am still writing articles for magazines and being interviewed for TV and radio shows. Then there are more visits to Ireland to do the same.
The lure of looking forward to going back, of taking control of my life again was so strong. I could be me again, the person I was before all of this madness entered my life. But would I really want that? I’ve been changed forever…no going back. My life is so full. I’m meeting such amazing people, working with fractured but strong, determined families, would I really want to give that up?
No, when you invite God into the driving seat of your life, you’d best understand…there is no reverse gear!

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

#CoverReveal #LoveBooksTours @LoveBooksGroup : The Final Trail (Trail Series #5) – AA Abbott @AAAbbottStories

– ‘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 Love Books Group Tour, to reveal the cover of

The Final Trail
by
AA Abbott

But first some information

About the Author :

Copy of Helen_Author_38English thriller writer AA Abbott’s real name is Helen Blenkinsop, but like JK Rowling, she wanted to . She loves city life, having lived and worked in London, Birmingham and Bristol. Her crime thrillers, set in Birmingham and London, sizzle with suspense, twists and the evils of office politics.
Helen’s books are available in a dyslexia-friendly large print as well as standard paperback and Kindle editions.
Her Trail Series follows the fortunes of glamorous blonde Kat White, a party girl who finds her purpose making vodka, shrewd businessman Marty Bridges, and manipulative East End crime lord Shaun Halloran.

Website
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Synopsis :

Family feuds just got bloodier… A gripping thriller, and a great story of death, revenge and vodka.
To save glamorous Kat White’s life, Ben Halloran killed his gangster father. Now his brother wants to even the score.
The gripping Trail series of British crime thrillers reaches its dramatic conclusion in this compelling page turner.

After this great teaser I hope you are still excited for the cover reveals, because this is happening

right now!

TFT thumbnail

Did this all pique your interest in reading the book? It’s available from today on Amazon.

The Magic Of Wor(l)ds