Monday 31 August 2015

#Monday Moments with Catalyst by Nik Morton.

My #Monday Moments are about Catalyst by Nik Morton.

I recently read this amusing novel and I've added my thoughts on it today. Nik Morton is a prolific author who has many novels in different fiction sub genres, published over more than a decade. Nik's BLOG is constantly busy with lots of different 'writerly' information and is well worth a visit.

Catalyst, a person that precipitates events.
That's Catherine Vibrissae. Orphan. Chemist. Model. Avenging Cat. She seeks revenge against Loup Malefice, the man responsible for the takeover of her father's company. An accomplished climber, Cat is not averse to breaking and entering to confound her enemies.

Ranging from south of England to the north-east, Wales and Barcelona, Cat's quest for vengeance is implacable. But with the NCA hot on her tail, can she escape the clutches of sinister Zabala and whip-wielding Profesora Quesada?

Buy from AMAZON 

 About Nik Morton...

Nik served for over twenty years in the Royal Navy, appropriately as a Writer, then went into IT. He has sold many short stories andedited several books and magazines. In 2003 he and his wife Jennifer moved to Spain. In February 2011 he was hired as the editor-in-chief of the US publisher, Solstice Publishing. Blood of the Dragon Trees is Nik’s 18th book to be published – since 2007.
Also, this year his books Write a Western in 30 Days and Wings of the Overlord, a fantasy quest jointly written with Gordon Faulkner, will be published.
Nik’s thriller, Blood of the Dragon Trees and the short story collection, Spanish Eye and Sudden Vengeance are all available now.
Follow Nik:
Blog / Blog 2

My thoughts about Catalyst...

This was an amusing read from start to finish. Vengeance takes many forms but it doesn’t necessarily leave a good taste in the mouth for Catherine Vibrissae- there are some recurring regrets. Catherine has a grand plan and not much is going to deflect her from fully carrying it through, yet reading of such important deeds doesn’t have to be a serious business as we find out in Catalyst! Her skills are numerous, but I loved that the author, Nik Morton, manages to inject her competence with a degree of quiet dignity. Preconceived notions about the past aren’t always entirely accurate and Cat has much to learn as the adventure unfolds.
In the throes of her daring exploits, it’s easy to follow her inner thoughts. The use of italics for these thoughts, I personally find a little distracting though they do allow me to get to know Catherine, in her different guises, a bit better.
Rick Barnes is a character who is easy to like and I particularly found his physiological talents quite funny. To say more might spoil things for the potential reader but if you’re looking for a quick and satisfying read, I can thoroughly recommend Catalyst. I’m definitely looking forward to Book 2 in the series.

I really wanted to give this novel 4 and 1/2 stars on Amazon but they don't do halves! (the above is a reblogged review)


Saturday 29 August 2015

Preparation is the key!

Happy Saturday wishes to you! 

As well as doing a spot of lawn grass cutting today, I'm also writing. I've already published my every second Saturday post at Writing Wranglers and Warriors where my title is "An author talking…and a conundrum" 

Since I've posed a question there I'm REBLOGGING the post here in the hopes that some reader of this blog might come up with good solutions.
"An author talking…and a conundrum

That makes a change from an author writing but actually, there’s still a lot of writing and thinking involved. As some readers of this blog may have guessed, I’m a bit obsessed by the Ancient Roman Invasion of Caledonia, and in particular their temporary occupation of Aberdeenshire, the part of Scotland where I currently live.

For almost a year, I’ve been going forth to sell my books at local Craft Fairs and larger local events with historical significance like the Aboyne Highland Games and theatrical spectaculars at local Scottish Castles. Selling books is prime but part of my strategy in going out into the public arena has also been to advertise myself as available for ‘Author Talks’, the aim for more public awareness of me as an author, and to physically promote my writing. I’ve had some fantastic conversations with people over the selling table about the Romans in Scotland, some of whom have bought my historical novels and some who haven’t. Partial success there!  However, one-to-one conversations aren’t quite the same as public speaking.

Since first being published in 2011, I’ve done quite a few informal talks to small audiences about my own pathway to writing and about my books. These audiences have mainly been in local public libraries and at clubs predominantly attended by women, the audience size typically around 10-20 attendees. Now, as a result of my bookselling endeavours, I’ve been asked to do talks to larger audiences. For these I’ve been asked to focus more on my historical research of the Ancient Roman Invasion, with just a tad inserted about my historically based novels. My preparation for these needs a fresh new approach.

Here’s where the thinking comes in and a first conundrum!

I’m really interested in the history but how to enthuse a larger audience is a fine challenge. In my head, I can easily imagine ten thousand Roman soldiers tramping through the countryside but making others see those images is something else.

The typical length of talk is around 40 minutes with a question/ answer part taking the event to around an hour.

Conundrum again. What to include and what TO LEAVE OUT!

As a practising teacher, I created PowerPoint presentations but that’s not happened since around 2008. I’m not at all familiar with the technology people use now and my current laptop doesn’t have PowerPoint loaded on it. I’ll be able to get around the issue of illustrative material for the smaller venues by creating a ‘flip chart’ set of illustrations—but that won’t work for the audience of near 50 attendees. I’m not sure yet how much of a fee might be paid and for the library ones I know I’m not expecting any payment art all, so cost should be a factor in what I prepare.

What should I do?
  • Should I create a basic talk built around 2 different sets of illustrative material using-
 1 - physical illustrations which will work with a small seated group
 2 – use overhead projector images?
  • Should I spend time creating something like a PowerPoint presentation and hope that the technology in each ‘new’ venue can be made to work properly?
  • Should I just talk with no illustrations? 
I know what I’m aiming to prepare but I’m also thinking that some of you who have ventured into the larger ‘talk’ situation might be able to advise me.

What do you think you would aim for if you were at the planning stage of a set of talks to different audience sizes? What technology does the current public speaker use?

If you have any suggestions, your comments will be welcome.

Friday 28 August 2015

#Familiarise Friday meets ...Alex O'Hara from THE CASE OF THE BYGONE BROTHER

For my #Familiarise Friday slot I'm welcoming back my friend, Diane Burton, with a different sub-genre from her recent visit. Today, Diane is featuring her contemporary mystery suspense novel THE CASE OF THE BYGONE BROTHER.  

To make things a little different, Diane's here today along with someone special and make sure you read to the end of the post where you can enter Diane's Rafflecopter Giveaway to WIN a $15 Gift Card.

Diane Burton

Welcome again, Diane. It's lovely of you to bring someone else.
Diane: Thanks for having us. I’ll let my “friend” here answer the questions.

Okay, mystery guest. Please introduce yourself.
I’m Alex O’Hara. Diane writes about me in her PI mystery The Case of the Bygone Brother. You see, I’m a private investigator in Fair Haven, Michigan. I’ve always lived there, unlike Nick Palzetti who couldn’t wait to shake Lake Michigan dune dust off his deck shoes and head for the big city.

Tell us about your family.
As you can tell from my name, I’m Irish. I grew up in Fair Haven where my dad and Nick’s (we call them The Pops) had a detective agency. Our moms worked in the office and took us to work with them when we were little. When she was pregnant with me, Mom was reading Robert Massey’s book about the last tsars of Russia. Since Nick’s mom had named him Nicolas and she and my mom had hopes for the two of us, she named me Alexandra. (Good thing she wasn’t reading Gone With The Wind.) Mom died from cancer eight years ago when I was twenty-two. I still miss her.

How did your upbringing influence who you are today?
Hard work pays off. Family comes first. Great marriages consist of two strong people who complement each other. I want that kind of marriage. But first I have to establish my business. I don’t have time to think about marriage and family. Still, my folks made it work.

What was your first thought when you met Nick.
Since he’s older, I think he met me first. We played together as little kids. In high school, I had the world’s biggest crush on him. Now he’s back and I’m not sure how I feel about him.

What does he think of you?
Good question. He keeps things close to the vest. When we were growing up, he treated me like a pesky kid sister. After he left for the University of Michigan (where he majored in seduction), he acted like I barely existed. To repeat from above, now that he’s back I see glimpses of heat in his dark chocolate brown eyes.

Why did you choose your occupation?
I worked with The Pops ever since I was in high school. They showed me the ropes and had enough confidence in me to sell me the agency, retire and move to Arizona. I love being a PI. Since Nick works in Washington, DC, it’s obvious he doesn’t want the business. That’s a big relief. I like being in charge.

Research comes easy for me. I love to dig through layers of data to find answers. I want to know why people do what they do. Since I run background checks for small companies, I like proving that people are trustworthy. And if they’re not, keeping the company that pays me safe from deadbeats. What I really want is a meaty case. I might have one with the Bygone Brother.

What are your strengths? Weaknesses?
Dogged determination and independence. I think those might be weaknesses, too. According to some people (Nick, for instance) I don’t know when to quit. That’s gotten me into trouble a few times. Being independent means I don’t like to rely on anyone.

What is the biggest hurdle you had to overcome?
Prejudice. Despite all the advances in women’s rights, there are still men who think women don’t belong in the field. Old-timers (like two former employees) don’t like working for or with a “little girl.” The chief of police acts like he has to be a surrogate father and “protect” me. Thank goodness, The Pops were/are more enlightened.

Do you have any hobbies?
I love old movies. Pop and I used to watch all the old 40’s and 50’s movies—especially film noire detective movies. Pop would poke holes in the plot or explain how things are done differently today until I wanted to muzzle him. But I can recite movie quotes until the cows come home. If we had cows around Fair Haven. We have some, of course, but you’ll find more blueberry bushes and fruit trees in our part of Michigan.

What’s the meaning of the title?
A damsel in distress begs the hard-boiled PI to find her long lost brother. Only she wasn’t a damsel—more like the downhill side of 50—and according to The Pops I have to toughen up my bleeding heart. She chose me over all the other PIs in the nearby area because I’m a woman and she thought I’d be more sympathetic to her cause. Bleeding heart. Listen, I’d better get back to work. See ya.

Diane: Thanks for having us. Since I drove, I’d better go, too. I hope your readers enjoy Alex’s adventures.

More like fly home to Michigan, Diane. Thanks for letting us get to know Alex. 

 The Case of the Bygone Brother (An Alex O'Hara Novel)
by Diane Burton
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo Books | Smashwords
Genre: Humorous Romantic Suspense
Release Date: October 29, 2014
Length: 281 Pages

Alex O’Hara finally gets a case that will give her bottom line a much needed boost. She might even be able to change her diet from ramen noodles to prime rib. All she has to do is track down a man who’s been missing for over ten years. Piece of cake . . . until an old flame arrives and a mugger roughs her up with orders to back off.

Here's a little about Diane: 
I grew up in the Detroit-area and have lived in Portage (MI), Sedalia (MO) as well as a brief stint in Chicago-land.  I've been a Parks & Recreation supervisor, an inventory clerk for a flute store, and a long-time volunteer for Girl Scouts. My last job was for an oil and gas exploration company where I discovered the cure for insomnia—reading oil and gas leases.  My longest-running gig was as a teacher where I taught elementary kids for over 10 years.  I am a member of Romance Writers of America and the Mid-Michigan and Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal chapters of RWA. I met my own hero on a blind date. It was love at first sight--for me. It took him a little longer. We currently reside in West Michigan and have two grown children and three delightful grandchildren.
I’ve been a reader all my life, and I love movies, especially action adventure, mysteries, science fiction, and romantic comedy. CastleFirefly, and NCIS are my favorite TV shows. So is it any wonder that I write science fiction romance and romantic suspense, both with comedic elements? 

You can find Diane at these place: 

Diane- thank you popping back and best wishes with THE CASE OF THE BYEGONE BROTHER.   

a Rafflecopter giveaway Slainthe! 

Wednesday 26 August 2015

#Welcome Wednesday interview with Lizzie Koch

On my #Welcome Wednesday slot I'm delighted to interview Lizzie Koch, her debut novel The Adventures of Katie Button having been featured last week on this blog.
Lizzie Koch

I really enjoyed her tale of The Adventures of Katie Button and wanted to know more about the author. So, let's get comfy and get to know Lizzie. 

Hello Lizzie! It's great to have you here.  Please tell us a little about you and your non-writing life.
Most of my time is spent working in a primary school in East Sussex as a higher level teaching assistant which allows me to teach in the teacher's absence. I'm married to Ralph, 12 years this year. We met whilst both working at Harrods. We have a 17yr old son, Ethan who is learning to drive. When not writing, I love going out for walks along the south coast, meeting friends for lunch or just cake, baking, reading and watching films. At the moment I love the Marvel superhero films and The Hobbit films. I could watch them all again and again. I'm part of a quiz team with my friends and we play once a month where we do tend to lose rather badly, but we have the best giggles at our silly answers and the best table picnic. I adore cats. They're one of my favourite animals and we have a ginger and white cat called Indi who is rather accident prone with too many trips to the vet. I guess he's taking after his adventurous namesake, Indiana Jones.  

When was the first time you decided to write and what was the first piece you wrote?
I stumbled upon Five Sentence Fiction after setting up my blog in 2012. The prompt was 'Wicked' so I thought about a highwayman. He's the best kind of wicked. But a story in five sentences? That was a challenge.   
Lizzie's BLOG

I can appreciate that! Writing very short stories in a group situation is a massive, and often quite stressful, challenge for me, Lizzie- though I've personally never been part of a writing group of any kind. What I produce is brilliant for the rubbish bin but I'm sure that practising in group sessions can hone writing skills. Did you have a regular reading audience for your first writing?
Oh yes. The Five Sentence Fiction community back then was encouraged to read and respond to other entries and they did. Their words really inspired me and spurred me on to join in weekly. I also made some wonderful friends from that first story, true friends of which one I have met face to face. And to think I was really nervous in posting that story to my blog. So glad I did. 

I'm convinced that immediate feedback from fellow blog writers was wonderful to have. What impetus did that give you to write longer fiction?
After the wonderful comments and the challenge of Five sentence fiction, I committed to write for every weekly challenge. From there, I found other flash fiction sites and a wonderful community of writers. I found I could write a story in only 100 words or up to 750 words. I loved these challenges. The comments continued to come and of course I read other entries which also helped my writing skills.

Before we discuss your longer writing, what kind of books do you like to read?
I started reading Agatha Christie from a  young age, after devouring all the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mysteries. I loved crime fiction! This led to Patricia Cornwell and James Patterson. After a while, I needed something different and went for Sophie Kinsella's 'Can You Keep a Secret?' just based on the cute pink cover. Oh my gosh. I laughed so much! I've read all her books now as well as reading Lisa Jewell and Jane Green. Chicklit is my favourite. It's warm, funny, down to earth and real. Since writing flash fiction, I have read many indie authors too, which is making me explore different genres. In fact, the last 25 books I have read have been by Indie authors. Oh and I love autobiographies or biographies especially Marilyn Monroe; last count was 17 in my collection which is still growing. 

I'm so pleased to hear that you're exploring lots of different genres, Lizzie. Since joining the Crooked Cat fraternity, my reading has been across a variety of genres and I'm finding they're excellent reads. Do you think your choice of reading material has influenced your own choice of writing genre?
Definitely. I guess I'm a bit of a romantic at heart, and adore a gorgeous, sexy leading man. As long as the girl isn't a walkover, making dramas and situations out of nothing. She has to have a purpose other than falling in love. 

I completely agree with that! Tell us about your first book—The Adventures of Katie Button. How did you decide on the characters, plot and title?
I already had the highwayman from my Five Sentence Fiction who I adored and wanted to do more with. I don't know how or where the idea came from but I had agreed with fellow writer friends to write for NaNoWriMo and signed up with not much more than a highwayman. I knew I wasn't confident enough to write a full length historical novel and thought about what I actually knew and what I loved to read and Katie Button sort of grew from that. Although she did start out as Emily - but Hubby said he had heard of Emily Button, a doll or something. Low and behold, after googling Emily Button, she was a doll. 
The plot revolved around bits of history I love and knew something about and the names had to match those times in history as well as their characters. And the title? It was a working title for NaNo and by the time I'd finished, it kind of stuck and worked without giving too much away.

Who would you hope plays the characters in a movie version?
You need to visit my Pinterest board. I have them all mapped out. Of course, being British, I have to have British actors. I can't cope with British actors taking on American accents (apart from Hugh Laurie) or vice verse. There's so many wonderful British actors out there. So as much as I love Anne Hathaway, Jennifer Lawrence, sorry. For Katie, I would have Emilia Clarke (Daenerys, Games Of Thrones). There's some really bubbly pictures of her and I really see Katie in her. For James, the gorgeous Henry Cavill (The Tudors) and for Jack, the gorgeous Richard Armitage, from Robin Hood where he played Sir Guy, swoon!

Yes, I have visited and they're fabulous photos! Did you have it all planned out before you wrote Katie Button or did the characters take over the storyline and surprise you?
They took over! I don't really have a plan. I have an idea and see where it takes me, or where the characters take me. 

I think you're like me then and more of a 'pantser' author than a 'plotter'. Which character did you most enjoy writing?
Tricky. I love them all which is why I'm writing a sequel as there is a story still to be told. I would have to say I had the most fun writing about Katie. She inspires, surprises, has mishaps, makes me laugh and has an infectious, bubbly nature. A close second would be the highwayman; just oozing mystery and sex appeal.

What would your characters say about you?
Ooh, that's interesting. Jack would tell me to just go for it, be a bit more adventurous and live for the moment as I'm too safe. He doesn't like safe. Safe is boring.  
Katie would encourage me to spend more of my hard earned money on boots and shoes. She'd tell me my brownies are the best and would share a few mojitos with me as we read 'heat' together. I think we'd be best friends, discussing the merits of Chris Hemsworth's lack of costume as Thor. I think she'd say she could trust me, confide in me.
James would say I need to push myself, believe in myself and do what makes me happy. 

What do you like best about writing? And what’s your least favourite thing?
When the characters come to life and start speaking to me; that's the best as then their story flows. Least favourite? A blank mind. I need to go and do something else at that point for stimulation. A walk along the coast or in the forest usually does the trick. A whole page of words which does nothing for the story or characters where I've just waffled and lost track is awful, although pressing delete is rather satisfying.

What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)?
I'm reading The Friendship Tree by Helen J. Rolfe on Kindle and I'm reading Marilyn: The Passion and the Paradox by Lois Banner, in hardback. It was a bit bulky to carry on holiday so it's kind of taken a back seat. 

Quick fire answers now:
What makes you laugh?
My friends: especially those times where we cry with laughter. Everyone has to have at least one of those friends. 

Your favourite place to visit?
The south coast and London.

Your favourite food and drink?
Chocolate; any, unless it has nuts or coffee in. Pepsi Max, sometimes with a little dark spiced rum. But on its own is so good, bad but good.

What would your friends say is your best, and your oddest, quality?
One of the qualities friends would recognise in me is having a good sense of humour, that at times could be seen to be odd due to some of the things I might find funny. My oddest quality? Being over sensitive. Not sure it's classed as odd but at times it's a pain and I shouldn't take things personally or to heart.    

Buying sites:  Smashwords
                     Amazon US
                     Amazon UK

Lizzie at Crooked  Cat

Thank you for such great interview answers, Lizzie. I wish you the very best with your writing - current and future.


Tuesday 25 August 2015

More places on my TAKE ME NOW Tour

It's Tuesday update time! 

My mini tour for promoting my contemporary fun mystery TAKE ME NOW visits 2 more places.

Yesterday ( 24th August) Kimm Walker invited me to her blog Nuts and Crisps where it seems that my opinion on gaining author success isn't necessarily what other authors may think.

 You'll find that post HERE

Today (25th August), I'm flying off to Jane Bwye where I'm discussion Flying off to Far Flung Places in TAKE ME NOW. You'll catch that post HERE



Monday 24 August 2015

#Monday Moments with #A Nightingale in Winter by Margaret K Johnson

Good Morning! It's time again for my #Monday Moments promotional slot.  

Today, I'm delighted to welcome Margaret K Johnson - for whom the day is a fantastic one because it's launch day for her historical novel #A Nightingale in Winter (Omnific Publishing) Margaret has brought along her book details and a tiny excerpt to share with us today. 

I'm sure it'll be an appealing novel for anyone who loves history, though especially for anyone who loves to read about World War I. 

It is 1916, and The Great War is raging throughout Europe. Eleanor Martin is traveling to France to serve as a volunteer nurse. She only wants to bury herself in her work on the Front and forget her traumatic past. But when her ship is torpedoed, Eleanor has to act quickly to save an American journalist’s life. As she cradles Dirk Loreson’s broken body in her arms, speaking to him to keep him conscious, the possibility of a whole different future begins to open up for her. 

Leo Cartwright, an ambitious artist, is also en route to the Front. A ruthless man who will stop at nothing to find inspiration for his paintings, Leo’s path is destined to cross with Eleanor’s. As she comes under his spell, will she find the strength to resist his demands? Will she trust her growing love for Dirk? 

A Nightingale in Winter is about courage and searing ambition at a time when the very foundations of the world have been shaken.

 Published by Omnific Publishing 24th August 2015


Buy from Amazon 

Here's a tiny teaser from Chapter One ...

The men were almost upon them. Kit was fiddling with her clothes, straightening herself up, and Eleanor knew with a sudden awful certainty that she intended to talk to them.
“I say, they seem awfully attractive,” she added, confirming it,
and then the pair was there in front of them.
“Hello,” Kit said, smiling.
The men returned Kit’s smile and took off their hats. “Good day to you, ladies,” one of them — the blond one — said, and Eleanor looked up at him, the chord of memory growing stronger.
Come on, now, Eleanor, someone like him had said to her once. Come on. Suddenly, she felt faint. The limitless air around them didn’t seem to be able to furnish her with enough to breathe.
“Good afternoon,” the dark-haired man said, but Eleanor got to her feet, speaking over him.
“Excuse me,” she said, suddenly so desperate to escape that the feeling overwhelmed all other thoughts. She began to walk away, slowly at first, then faster and faster, the necessity to explain her behavior the very last thing on her mind at that moment.
“Eleanor!” she faintly heard Kit calling as she mingled with the safety of the crowd. “Eleanor, where are you going?”

Margaret K Johnson began writing after finishing at Art College to support her career as an artist. Writing quickly replaced painting as her major passion, and these days her canvasses lay neglected in her studio. She is the author of women’s fiction, stage plays and many original fiction readers in various genres for people learning to speak English. Margaret also teaches fiction writing and has an MA in Creative Writing (Scriptwriting) from the University of East Anglia. She lives in Norwich, UK with her partner and their bouncy son and dog.

You'll find Margaret at her

Website:  Blog:
Twitter: @margaretkaj

Thank you for sharing with us today, Margaret, and I hope your launch for #A Nightingale in Winter goes really well!


Sunday 23 August 2015

Sunday snip from #Take Me Now

Good Morning - Sunday is here!

That means I'm off to Ballater (Royal Deeside) again but this time it's to The victoria Hall where there's a FOCUS Craft Fair. The day looks to be a good one with plenty of warm sunshine to cheer everyone up. My books are packed and ready for the approximately one hour drive. As always when I sell my books at these Craft Fairs, I'll be hoping for lighter boxes to bring home. 

Since I've been out and about blogging a lot recently, with more blogs to visit in the coming days I thought it would be timely to post an excerpt here from Take Me Now

This excerpt is from well into the story. All isn't hunky dory between Aela Cameron and her temporary boss, Nairn Malcolm. their interaction in the office has been very frosty during the day until...


“I’ve a client meeting in half an hour. Bring the Range Rover to the door for me, please.”
“You don’t have anything on your diary, sir.” Her tone was snippy as she’d heard nothing about this plan. 
“Change of tense, Miss Cameron. I didn’t, but since I just made the appointment I now do have a meeting. Do you have a problem with that?”
Stony silence accompanied them on the short journey - apart from the posh voice of the navigation system - till she pulled up in the car park of the office building he had requested.
“Do I need to be prepped for this meeting, sir?” Determination to be professional reeked from her, maybe a little too much because she hated the impenetrable wall between them.
“You’ll cope. I’m here to negotiate a better deal for the newest advertising campaign for Adrenalinn Adventuring. Robin Ellesmere was primed to attend, but he’s gone off for emergency dental treatment - having broken a tooth, or something. That’s why this meeting wasn’t on my diary.”
Aela refused to apologize for her manner. Their cool relations were his fault, just as much as hers, but she was careful not to allow her feelings to be noticed by the advertising executives. As she was coming to expect, the meeting was successful from Nairn’s perspective though it took a couple of hours. By the time they were through, some of their antipathy had melted: not totally relaxed, but not at odds either.
 Nairn was describing an earlier ad campaign as she drove along the slow lane of a busy motorway on their return to the office. “What the shit…?” Nairn broke off when his butt began juddering on the seat.
“Brace yourself!” she yelled as her finger flicked on the left indicator, the nearside of the car shuddering even more, right underneath a yelping Nairn.
She yanked her foot off the accelerator. Defensive driving techniques she’d learned years before got their first proper airing. She was wrapped in traffic. Car in front; one behind; another in the next lane alongside. A glimpse at the rear-view mirror told her the car behind was too close for sudden deceleration. Harsh braking was no option anyway.
“Hazards!” she yelled at Nairn.
Nairn angled forward and punched on the hazard button set in the middle of the console since Aela needed both hands to control the jouncing and slewing of the car. Before sliding back in his seat again, he flipped down the visor at his side of the car, the mirror giving him a rear view.
“He’s too bloody close, Aela,” he warned.
“No. Look. He’s slowing down.”
Adrenalin pumped fiercely as she guided the convulsing car over onto the hard shoulder, thanking the almighty the driver behind had got the message as soon as the hazards flashed - but he was still a hairsbreadth from her bumper.
Struggling to keep on a straight course her grip was indomitable till the car eventually grated to a halt. Yanking on the hand brake, she braced her forearms on the steering wheel. Her whole body was still vibrating - though thankfully the car wasn’t any more. Her head twisted around to look at Nairn before she collapsed back in her seat.
“You okay?” she muttered, a nervous smile erupting. “Bejeezuz! Thought we were done for, there.”
His eyes flickered, his mouth twitching before he groaned. “You sure are a cool customer under pressure. What the hell just happened?”
Aela didn’t care to analyze. The adrenaline was still pumping high and all she wanted was to devour Nairn. Unclipping her seat restraint she grabbed his face and took his lips in a kiss robbing both of them of their senses. Still on a roll she snatched another. Nairn needed no prompting to control the next as his good arm crushed her to him.
Sanity slowly returned. They were not in the safest of places to be conducting any kind of lovemaking…or affirmation of life. For in a way that’s what it was. Slipping free of his grip, her chest heaving, she grinned. “We are still alive, aren’t we?”
His answering smile was not constrained. Admiration, gratitude…and something else, really intense, radiated back to her. When he eventually spoke his voice was the deepest whisper. “Yeah. My…oh…so competent PA. More alive than you know.” His knuckles stroked her cheek, the merest soft touch.
For an aeon she stared: Nairn stared back. Neither of them moved. But the car did from the buffeting blast of other vehicles whizzing past them.
“Don’t you dare move yet, Nairn Malcolm. Not till I make sure it’s safe,” she ordered as her pulse settled, just a little.


And to find out more...just click on the cover image on the right sidebar of this blog. It'll magically zoom you to Amazon where you can buy an ecopy for only £1.99. 


Saturday 22 August 2015

#guest blogging about TAKE ME NOW at Carol Hedges

Happy Saturday!

It's a fine morning here in north-east Scotland. The sun is shining with only some 75% cirrocumulus clouds hanging up there- just waiting to merge a bit later on this morning. According ot the weather man, that is. 

I'm not too bothered since I'm off on a virtual jaunt to the south of England to be a guest of Carol Hedges where I'm taking up space on her PINK SOFA. 

You'll catch me there, talkng about why Crooked Cat Publishing are spectacular in publishing lots of novels- like TAKE ME NOW - which don't fit neat pigeonholes in the novel category bible used by Amazon and other fiction stores. 

 Carol's PINK SOFA

p.s. I've added Carol's blog URL to my list of places visited already on my mini TAKE ME NOW tour. You'll find all these host blogs on the right sidebar of this blog. Click the links to catch up, if you've missed my posts. 


Friday 21 August 2015

#Friday Feature - The Protector by Diane Burton

I'm always delighted to have return guests and today I welcome back Diane Burton, author of Romantic Suspense and Romantic Science Fiction Adventures. It's been a while since my friend, Diane, has popped in but she's been busy with lots of writing since that last visit - her list of published  novels steadily growing. 

The Protector is the third in her Outer Rim Science Fiction Romance Series, published last month in July 2015. 

I've not yet read this latest novel, but I know from other books that Diane's writing is fast-paced and great for late summer reading! 

She's here today with details about her The Protector. There's a teasing little excerpt to introduce her main characters and she's also come with a chance to *WIN* a $15 Amazon or Barnes and Noble Gift Card. Look out for that Rafflecopter entry box at the very end of the post.  

After tavern owner Rissa Dix rescues two girls from a slave ship, she must rally the townsfolk to prevent traffickers from raiding the frontier colony. She’s met with apathy and disbelief. Because she lost her own baby to traffickers, she’s determined that no other mother will suffer the same heartache.

Industrialist heir Dillan Rusteran aids her in rescuing more children. Little do they know they’re about to tangle with a trafficking ring that puts Rissa in danger. Dillan’s loved her for years despite her claim she’s too old for him. As they fight the traffickers, will she finally see him in a new light?

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo Books | Smashwords

Here's a little about Diane:
I grew up in the Detroit-area and have lived in Portage (MI), Sedalia (MO) as well as a brief stint in Chicago-land.  I've been a Parks & Recreation supervisor, an inventory clerk for a flute store, and a long-time volunteer for Girl Scouts. My last job was for an oil and gas exploration company where I discovered the cure for insomnia—reading oil and gas leases.  My longest-running gig was as a teacher where I taught elementary kids for over 10 years.  I am a member of Romance Writers of America and the Mid-Michigan and Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal chapters of RWA. I met my own hero on a blind date. It was love at first sight--for me. It took him a little longer. We currently reside in West Michigan and have two grown children and three delightful grandchildren.

I’ve been a reader all my life, and I love movies, especially action adventure, mysteries, science fiction, and romantic comedy. Castle, Firefly, and NCIS are my favorite TV shows. So is it any wonder that I write science fiction romance and romantic suspense, both with comedic elements?

Find Diane at these places: 
Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon Author Page

And now you can get to know a little about Dillan and Rissa in this short excerpt...

Dillan woke up to a steady thump-thump-thump. Damn, the sublight engine was acting up again. He rolled over and almost fell out of bed.

Two things hit him at the same time. He wasn’t in the wide, comfortable bed in his quarters aboard ship and the thumping wasn’t his sublight. Thank the stars for that. Still, it had been acting a little wonky lately. He’d have to check it out.

After dressing and taking care of his needs in the small san-fac near the stairs, he ambled down carrying his boots in the event the big Zebori was still asleep. Although how anyone could sleep through all that thumping he had no idea. He followed the noise into the kitchen.

Rissa stood at the island kneading dough. Last night he remembered how much higher than normal the island was. She’d built it to accommodate her height. For a moment, he just watched her as she concentrated on the dough. Several lumps of grayish-brown dough sat on the flour-covered table waiting their turn. Even though he was a few meters away, the yeasty scent hit his nose and brought back memories of the times he’d been there before. And how much he enjoyed her company. Despite her treating him like a kid.

The dark haired teen—Pela?—worked alongside Rissa. She noticed him first. Panic crossed her strong features before she murmured to Rissa.

“Good morning, sleepyhead.” She laughed as she turned the dough she’d been punishing into a long, loaf pan. She picked up another lump and went to work on it.

Dillan yawned. “What time is it?”

“Almost Mid-Day.” When she looked up, she did a double take. “Your beard is gone.”

“It itched. When I find the barber, I’ll get my hair cut, too.” He ran his fingers across the top of his head. “It’s Mid-Day? Damn. I wanted to get an early start.”

Without stopping her kneading, she asked, “Early start on what?”

“Going into the mountains.”

“Did you come here to go climbing again?”

Grief hit Dillan the way it had for the past six years any time someone mentioned his former favorite sport. He hadn’t climbed since his best friend died in a freak rock slide. Or so he thought until a year ago.

Rissa’s dark eyes reflected guilt. She stopped working the dough. “I’m sorry, Dillan. I forgot.”

“Apparently, so did Konner.” He didn’t conceal the hurt he’d felt when he learned Konner was not only alive but had a family. “Turns out I was wrong about some things. I’ll, uh, leave you to your work.”

With her forearm, she wiped the sweat off her brow then went back to kneading. “Pela, you did fine. Turn that one into the next pan then get Dillan a cup of sheelonga tea.”

Pela eyed him with uncertainty.

“I can get it.” He sure didn’t want to upset the girl. “Mugs still next to the sink?”

Rissa looked surprised that he remembered. He remembered everything about her. She’d stayed in his mind after every trip from the time he was sixteen. Konner had teased him about being infatuated. Dillan knew it was more than infatuation. Especially after that last visit.

There's definitely a history there between Rissa and Dillan. I think my TBR pile on my kindle needs another science fiction book added to it!

Thank you for popping in Diane and best wishes with your latest writing. 


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday 19 August 2015

Wednesday Update- DIY Cathie Dunn

Update today. 

As part of my mini Take Me Now blog tour, I'm visiting Cathie Dunn where my topic is, among other things..., what to classify my mystery as. 

Check the tick boxes.
  • romantic - yes
  • thriller - at times
  • funny - at times
  • corporate-sabotage - at times  
  • police procedural - no
  • gritty crime - no
  • murderous and bloody - no
  • private detective - no
Well - what is it? It's a DIY mystery... Find out more at Cathie Dunn.


#Welcome Wednesday - Reworking the classics with Sue Barnard

 Good Wednesday to you! 
Sue Barnard
I seem to be writing this quite a lot recently, regrding the weather in my part of the world, but the grey rainy morning outside my window means I need something to lift up my sporits. It's just perfect that my guest today is Sue Barnard. Sue's a lovely, bubbly, return visitor, a fellow Crooked Cat author who is also an editor. She's come with some writing tips for anyone in need of a little nudge in their writing. 
Welcome again, Sue, and over to you... 
Sebastian Faulks, Charlie Higson and Anthony Horowitz have all done it for James Bond. Alexandra Ripley did it for Scarlett and Rhett. Jill Paton Walsh did it for Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane. There have been numerous attempts to solve Charles Dickens’ unfinished Mystery of Edwin Drood.  Even Thomas the Tank Engine has been given a new lease of life, by the son of his original creator.  And I am currently editing Cathy Bryant’s wonderful debut novel (to be published by Crooked Cat later this year) which does the same for some of the cast of Pride & Prejudice.
So what is it that makes authors want to write new stories centred on existing characters?
In one respect, I think, it’s because once the original author has died, there can be a great sense of regret that there will be no more from the same pen. So if the authors’ stories and characters are popular, why not give their fans more to enjoy, in the form of sequels, prequels, or simply more adventures?
You don’t need to be a famous, or even a published, author to take advantage of this very useful literary device. Using a well-loved character (or set of characters) as the basis for a new story can be an excellent way of dealing with an attack of writer’s block. Think of a favourite character from a book, a play, or even a poem. Imagine what it might be like to meet that character face to face. What would you say to them? How do you think they would respond? Try writing a short dialogue between the two of you, and see where it leads. You may well find that it gives you a springboard to a whole new story. No writing is ever wasted, even if it doesn’t end up in the final version.
Or think about how the character behaves in the original work. If his or her behaviour is unusual, what might have happened in the past to affect their actions in the present? Let your imagination run riot – prequels make fascinating stories!
Or you can even give the original story an alternative ending – as I did with my debut novel The Ghostly Father. It is a sort of part-prequel, part-sequel to the original Romeo & Juliet tale, and explores what might have happened to Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers if events had taken a different course. In the play, a sequence of misfortunes leads to a maddeningly preventable double-suicide. But what if just one of those unfortunate events had not occurred? What difference could this have made?
Read the book and find out…
Thank you for the ideas, Sue. I've read The Ghostly Father and other books published by Crooked Cat and loved them. I've recommended them in the past and can heartily do so again. 

Romeo & Juliet - was this what really happened? 

When Juliet Roberts is asked to make sense of an ancient Italian manuscript, she little suspects that she will find herself propelled into the midst of one of the greatest love stories of all time. But this is only the beginning. As more hidden secrets come to light, Juliet discovers that the tragic tale of her famous namesake might have had a very different outcome... 

A favourite classic story with a major new twist.  

If you love the story of Romeo & Juliet but hate the ending, this is the book for you.

Buy details:

About Sue...
Sue was born in North Wales but has spent most of her life in and around Manchester. After graduating from Durham University, where she studied French and Italian, Sue got married then had a variety of office jobs before becoming a full-time parent. If she had her way, the phrase "non-working mother" would be banned from the English language.

Since then she has had a series of part-time jobs, including some work as a freelance copywriter. In parallel with this she took several courses in Creative Writing. Her writing achievements include winning the Writing Magazine New Subscribers Poetry Competition for 2013.

Sue has a mind which is sufficiently warped as to be capable of compiling questions for BBC Radio 4's fiendishly difficult Round Britain Quiz. This once caused one of her sons to describe her as "professionally weird." The label has stuck.

In addition to working as an editor for Crooked Cat Publishing, Sue is the author of three novels: The Ghostly Father, Nice Girls Don't and The Unkindest Cut of All.

She is also very interested in Family History. Her own background is stranger than fiction; she'd write a book about it if she thought anybody would believe her.

Once again, it's great to have you share a guest post, Sue.