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Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Special Guest Julia Ibbotson


Regular advertiser to Famous Five Plus, Julia Ibbotson is today visiting FFP HQ to talk to Pauline Barclay about her brand new book, Drumbeats. This book has location and time that will immediately pull you in to the story.


Your latest novel, Drumbeats in set in the 1960s in West Africa, what made you choose this period and location?

Well, Pauline, I find the mid-1960s fascinating (as I think you do too!), the music, culture, fashions and so on, and I wanted to reflect this in my book. It was a time, despite all the stuff about drugs and free love, when actually folks were a lot more innocent than today in many ways. And it was a time when ordinary young people, especially women, (my main character Jess is eighteen) were just starting to feel they could be independent and strong and feisty, and make things happen, like men had always done. I guess it was for many people the start of feminism and the first generation where women could travel, go to university, have careers, and be brave. I set the story in Ghana, West Africa, because it is somewhere I know (I did live and work there myself) and I know that 1965-66 was a time of unrest across Africa, a time of a number of government overthrows, coups d’états, dictators ousted, so I could use the dramatic events as a backdrop to Jess’s story. I found Ghana to be a place of almost magical fascination, and to Jess at that time Africa would have seemed very exotic, very different from her stifling home in England. So it was the place she chose to escape to. I wanted, in my novel, to try to evoke the vibrant colours, noises, smells and tastes of Africa. These senses are intense, especially through the eyes of a young woman from a repressed puritanical English background in the 1960s. I hope that I’ve created a strong sense of time and place and that the reader can transport themselves there as they read Jess’s story. I wanted to write a romance but one with something for readers to think about, and with drama, danger and tragedy too. I liked the idea of a rite of passage novel, a young woman finding her way in life.



Drumbeats is the first in a trilogy can you tell more about what readers can expect in the future

The rest of the trilogy follows Jess’s story on from where Drumbeats ends. She is back in England and now has other issues to face. The next novel is called Walking in the Rain and the title is from a 10cc song (The Things we do for Love) which although it was written in 1976 became very popular in the 1980s which is when most of the story is set, although there are flashbacks to past events that build up to the crux of the story, and it seemed to evoke the period and the experiences that Jess was having at that time. Again I wanted to recreate a specific time and place. The final novel in the trilogy is called Before I Die, which isn’t a morbid story about dying at all, but about Jess’s bucket list and how she goes about challenging herself to tick them all off. I haven’t entirely planned this one out yet but I think it’ll be set around the millennium which again is a time of drama and change, and Jess is at the crossroads of her life.


Does this book have anything to do with your own past or experiences?

I think that most novels are in some way a reflection of a writer’s own experiences, or of those around her, albeit in a creative context. If things are truly meaningful to you, then you can write more authentically, I feel. Sometimes it’s about being in touch with the “human condition”, universal human experiences, and reflecting those; things that other people may empathise with, and feel “oh yes, I know what that’s like!” In some ways I sometimes think that there is quite a fine line between creativity and reality! But Drumbeats is a novel, a work of fiction, not an autobiography, although based on some of the experiences I had myself in Ghana. I myself, like Jess, was teaching and nursing there in the African bush villages a few years ago, and I did get involved in some pretty hairy events. Many of the joys, horrors and tragedies were based on things I witnessed first-hand.

What research did you have to undertake to write Drumbeats

Loads! OK, I had been there so I had a feel for the place, but I had to research what was really happening in 1965-6, in England and in Ghana, West Africa. I researched the music, the books, the important events. I listened to a lot of music (Ghanaian highlife, classical and 60s pop) because there’s a lot of music involved in the story. And because Jess goes on a trek to Timbuktu in Mali and to what was called Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso) I had to research those places too. It was a time of a number of coups d’états in the area so I needed to get a real feel for what might have happened in that time and place. I also used the internet, of course, Wikipedia, many texts, letters, memoirs of the time, photographs, and more recent books about Ghana.

Tell us a little about you and what made you decide to become a published author.

I’ve always loved writing (and reading) and can’t remember a time when I wasn’t scribbling stories – really ever since I could hold a pencil in my little fist. I wrote my first full length novel when I was ten although it was long since consigned to the manuscript graveyard. The latest novel I’ve just sent to my American publisher was originally written when I was at school, revived at university and then rewritten recently when I’d blown off all the dust. I found it hidden away in the cupboard gathering dust when we moved to a new house and it just kept calling out to me – and of course I hate things going to waste. It’s a children’s book, a new departure for me, and it’s called S.C.A.R.S (which stands for something but I’m not allowed to tell, you have to read it to find out!) and is about a boy who slips through a tear in the universe into a fantasy medieval world. I always wanted to be a published author but I guess I was diverted from my course by the need to earn a living, be a professional and pay the bills, so I became a teacher and thence a university lecturer. I have written and published many academic works, research papers and so on, in the course of my career, but came back to creative writing a few years ago when I started to have a little more time to sit in front of a hot computer keyboard and get lost in a different world.

And finally when can we expect the next book in this trilogy?

Walking in the Rain is due summer 2015, so if you enjoy Drumbeats look out for it; it’ll be available (like Drumbeats) in paperback and ebook on Amazon. I’m hoping that I can get my act together to have the last of the trilogy (Before I Die) on the shelves by summer 2016.



Drumbeats is the first novel in a trilogy and follows 18 year old English student Jess through her gap year in West Africa. It's a rite of passage novel set in the mid-1960s when Jess flees her stifling home background for freedom to become a volunteer teacher and nurse in the Ghanaian bush. Apprehensively, she leaves her first real romantic love behind in the UK, but will she be able to sustain the bond while she is away? With the idealism of youth, she hopes to find out who she really is, and do some good in the world, but little does she realize what, in reality, she will find that year: joys, horrors and tragedy. She must find her way on her own and learn what fate has in store for her, as she becomes embroiled in the poverty and turmoil of a small war-torn African nation under a controversial dictatorship. Jess must face the dangers of both civil war and unexpected romance. Can she escape her past? And why do the drumbeats haunt her dreams?




Julia Ibbotson and her husband have four children and live in a renovated Victorian rectory in the heart of the English countryside, complete with orchard, kitchen garden and too far many moles and wild rabbits for her liking. Their life in the rectory is depicted in The Old Rectory: Escape to a Country Kitchen, an award-winning memoir complete with recipes to feed the soul. She is an author and academic, and loves choral singing, reading, walking, swimming, sailing, gardening and cooking.
Julia's links



Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Fabulous Trailers to Tempt You!


Trailer's 
sponsored by

Click on the video to watch these exciting Book Trailers





By: Pauline Barclay





By: Pauline Barclay





By: Pauline Barclay



Satchfield Hall
By Pauline Barclay





By: Eileen Schuh





By: Suzy Turner





By: Suzy Turner



By: Suzy Turner




The Death Game
By Chris Longmuir




By: Chris Longmuir





By: Chris Longmuir




By: Chris Longmuir


Leave of Absence
By Tanya J Peterson



Foxden Acres
By Madalyn Morgan












Monday, 28 July 2014

Great Summer Reads for the Holidays


PaulineBarclay shares more great reads for chilling out this summer….



The Death Game by Chris Longmuir

What a fabulous read. Set in 1919 in London then Dundee you will walk in the footsteps of Kirsty Campbell. I feel that I have travelled the streets of Dundee and felt the humiliation of being a woman in a man's world. Twists and turns aplenty so if you love murder, thriller, this book is for you.






Firewalls by Eileen Schuh

I love Eileen Schuh's style of writing and having met Katrina in The Traz, I was interested to see where she was today. I was not disappointed! Firewalls has you in Katrina's head, she made me angry with her behaviour and yet I felt her pain. She has so much to deal with and come to terms with and this reflects in her attitude. Firewalls provoked emotions in me and that is a sign of a brilliant book.




Boot Camp Bride by Lizzie Lamb

Snuggle down and enjoy this fabby book from Lizzle Lamb. It is perfect escapism, light hearted and full of fun. If it is not on your holiday reading list, then add it!






All these books are available at ALL Amazon sites. Enjoy!


Pauline's links

Saturday, 26 July 2014

HUG A BOOK with Forever Fredless by Suzy Turner


Hug A Book is sponsored by




It’s HUG A BOOK and this weekend it’s with Suzy Turner

And

Forever Fredless




Meet Suzy


Suzy Turner has worked as a journalist, assistant editor, features editor and magazine editor. Early in 2010 however, she began writing full time and has
since completed six books for young adults (the Raven Saga and The Morgan Sisters series) and one chick lit novel, Forever Fredless.
Although Suzy is a Yorkshire lass at heart, she left her home town of Rotherham, UK, to move to Portugal with her family when she was ten. The Algarve
continues to be her home, where she lives with her childhood sweetheart and husband of 15 years, Michael, and their two neurotic dogs and a cat who thinks
she's a princess.



Blurb for Forever Fredless


Kate Robinson has spent the past two decades yearning to find her soul mate, the boy she found and then lost during a family holiday.
Shortly after her twenty-eighth birthday, however, she inherits a fortune from an old family friend and becomes something of an overnight celebrity. Can her new-found fame lead her to him after all this time?


Available for Kindle



Excerpt


Forever Fredless

Thank God for anti-perspirant, I thought as I sat on the couch and waited for the countdown to begin. I clutched at my hands until they were white and looked across at the two people sitting opposite, both completely at ease in front of the cameras.
Five, four, three, two, one...
'Welcome back to this morning's edition of Good Morning GB,' announced Ireland Rothschild, the blonde-haired, blue eyed darling of morning TV.
'I'm here with Fergus O'Reilly and we've a special guest with us this morning. None other than Britain's love-struck multi-millionaire, Kate Robinson.
Welcome, Kate,' she said with a dazzling smile aimed more towards the camera than at me.
As my cheeks began to heat up, I was so grateful to the make-up artist, who had insisted on caking on the foundation before the show had started. In fact, I had so much make-up on that I was hoping once I'd removed it, nobody would recognise me when I headed to the airport in my now rather stupidly chosen car. I couldn't exactly blend in driving a pink Mini could I?
'Good morning,' I whispered shyly.
Fergus grinned back at me, tilting his head as if he was about to speak to a child. 'Now, tell us, Kate dear, how does it feel to never have to worry about money ever again?' he asked, his toothpaste advert  teeth twinkling beneath the heat of the studio lights.
'Erm, well, I guess it's... erm, kind of... erm,' I felt so bloody stupid. Great time for my brain to stop working. 'I - erm. Great,' I nodded. 'Great, really great.' Idiot.
Ireland glanced across at her grey-haired colleague and pouted before nodding. 'Tell us how you knew this man. This,' she glanced down at the iPad on her lap and continued, 'Samuel?'
I cleared my throat and lifted my head, feeling like my brain was back in action. 'He was a very good friend of the family, some years ago,' I answered.
'Just a friend? Why did he leave you all his money and his property?' asked Fergus.
'He didn't have any family and I guess you could say that my mother and I were the closest he ever had to a family.'
'Isn't that lovely?' pouted Ireland. 'You certainly are a lucky woman. But what about your mother? Didn't she receive any of his inheritance?'
'No,' I said before swallowing hard. 'My mother lives a rather... nomadic lifestyle, in Africa. She doesn't want any of it. All she asked of me was to donate a sum to charity which, of course, I have done.'
'She lives in Africa? A nomadic lifestyle? That sounds intriguing. Perhaps we should interview her one of these days,' laughed Ireland and Fergus together.
'Have you splashed out on anything since receiving your inheritance back in June?' they asked, leaning forward eagerly awaiting my answer.
'Yes I have actually. I bought a car and a new house.'
'Well good for you, Kate. But now, most of us are curious about this boy you lost. Tell us about him?'
Oh no. Why did I agree to this?
Taking a deep breath, I knew I had no choice. Several articles had been printed since the one in Liberty; everyone wanted to know more and nobody was going to leave me alone until I told them everything.
'He was just a boy who I had a connection with when I was much, much younger. It was at Skegness. At an afternoon disco for kids. I was dancing and I felt someone touch my back and when I turned around there he was.  The most beautiful boy I'd ever seen,' I said, stopping and smiling as I reminisced. ‘It was one of the happiest memories of my life.'
Sighing, I continued, 'We just looked at each other and it was like everything else just disappeared into the background. We stood staring, for what seemed like ages. I could barely move. And then, almost as soon as it had begun, my dad appeared and took me away. I couldn't do anything as we walked to the car. I looked around for the boy but he was gone. And then, just as we were driving away, I turned around in my seat and there he was. He had a daffodil in his hand. I always assumed he'd gone to pick it for me, but that's just a childish fantasy, I guess. The whole thing is probably nothing but a childish fantasy, really.'
Ireland was very carefully dabbing at her eyes with a tissue, pretending to be moved, while Fergus smiled sadly.
'What a beautiful story, Kate. I don't believe for one second that this is a childish fantasy. It's romantic and beautiful,' Ireland said.
'Now, tell us, Kate. Why did you call him Fred?' asked Fergus.
Smiling, I explained about the Right Said Fred song, just as the music began in the background.
'What a wonderful tale. Thank you, Kate, for joining us today. It's been a pleasure having you with us to share your story,' said Fergus.
'Thank you,' I whispered before the camera moved back to Ireland as she straightened her skirt and looked alluring. 'Do you remember this moment in time?'
she asked. 'Are you the elusive Fred? We'd love to hear from you. You can contact us at...'
Before I could hear anything else, I was ushered off the couch and back behind the scenes where Jo stood, waiting patiently for me, with open arms.

A Kindle copy of Forever Fredless is up for grabs, please leave a comment below so we can get in touch and you could be reading this book soon!



Suzy’s Links

PURCHASE LINKS
(more coming soon









Thursday, 24 July 2014

TALL DARK AND KILTED on KINDLE COUNTDOWN



My novel TALL DARK AND KILTED – Notting Hill Meets Monarch of the Glen - is currently on Amazon Kindle Countdown and has been running for a couple of days. This isn’t the first countdown deal I’ve organised so it’s worth sharing my findings on the scheme in the hope that it might help other writers.  When Amazon offered Countdown to indie authors last September I was quick to jump on the bandwagon. In those days, Amazon actively promoted Countdown on their front page(s) and had a ticking clock saying how many days and hours the promo had left to run. First time ‘out’ I sold over 600 copies of Tall Dark and Kilted – and at 70% of 99p I was very happy - thank you Amazon. Then, as with all good things, it came to an end. Or I should say, it changed. The Countdown offer is still out there but is now harder for readers to find your novel in the mangrove swamp of books out there.
         
So, how can they find Countdown, your novel and purchase it?
I direct them to the Countdown deal and Tall, Dark and Kilted - Notting Hill Meets Monarch of the Glen, using the following link http://t.co/eobg1qn11 on Twitter, Facebook Pages etc.
          
Or, if they’re savvy, they can go through their kindle and scroll through the top 100/640+ titles until they find a novel they like (hopefully your novel). A bit hit and miss in my opinion. Alternatively, they can go onto the main Amazon Kindle page, scroll down to COUNTDOWN and narrow the search using the categories provided. (see first photo) If you’re lucky and your novel is selling well, you will appear high up on the list. That’s where Tall Dark and Kilted is currently sitting - under the category HIGHLANDERS.     

The refining of categories is something I hadn’t noticed before but it’s well worth authors noting the categories and what sells well for when they’re marketing future novels. As we all know, the cover and the title is what draws the reader to your book in the first place.
           
For example, I didn’t realise how fundamental it is to have HIGHLANDER somewhere in the title of a novel about Scotland. Apparently, that is what many readers (particularly Americans) type into the search bar. My next novel will be titled: Scotch on the Rocks (subtitle) – a contemporary romance set in the Highlands of Scotland. Or something along those lines.
            
I won’t go into the rules and regs regarding putting your book on Countdown. You can find that on the Amazon website. But here are a few tips which have worked for me.
·       


     Before I put my book up there I look to see if the list is swamped with contemporary romances. If it is, I keep my countdown promo for another week
·        Put your book on promo around about Tuesday (remember, it takes about 24 hours for it to go ‘live’). That way, it can gather a head of steam so that, by the weekend, it will be higher up the charts and more visible to readers

·        Promo for all your worth. You HAVE to stand out. So use Twitter, Facebook Pages, hashtags, recruit your friends to retweet for you etc. ALWAYS return the favour
·        Tweet/promo in the morning (UK), afternoon (east coast USA) and evening
·        Don’t be shy about putting your Amazon ranking in your promotional tweets etc. You’ve worked hard to get there, so be loud and proud - shout it out
·        I don’t bother to change the price for the length of the promo these days. I keep it at 99p – but the choice is yours
·      
        Finally, I keep the book at 99p for about a week after the promo, just to draw in a few more readers – although, of course I don’t get 70% of the price during that time
·        When your promo is finished, put your book back up to £1.99 and wait another three months and repeat

Here’s are some sample tweets (I also include a photo of book cover wherever possible)
#TallDarkandKilted #kindlecountdown £0.99 for 5 days http://viewbook.at/B009SG3EQYYou've gotta lurve a man in a kilt! #share #bookbuzzr #
#TallDarkandKilted #kindlecountdown  £0.99
http://viewbook.at/B009SG3EQY #1 Highlander novel   #share #bookbub #BYNR
Finally, don’t forget, if you put your tweet online via your pc. That way you can ‘pin’ your tweet to the top of your twitter feeds to make it more visible. I don’t think you can do this on your iphone or tablet, but I stand to be corrected.

Good luck.




BLURB FOR TALL DARK AND KILTED:


Fliss Bagshawe longs for a passport out of Pimlico where she works as a holistic therapist. After attending a party in Notting Hill she loses her job and with it the dream of being her own boss. She’s offered the chance to take over a failing therapy centre, but there's a catch. The centre lies five hundred miles north in Wester Ross, Scotland. Fliss’s romantic view of the highlands populated by Men in Kilts is shattered when she has an upclose and personal encounter with the Laird of Kinloch Mara, Ruairi Urquhart. He’s determined to pull the plug on the business, bring his eccentric family to heel and eject undesirables from his estate - starting with Fliss. Facing the dole queue once more Fliss resolves to make sexy, infuriating Ruairi revise his unflattering opinion of her, turn the therapy centre around and sort out his dysfunctional family.  Can Fliss tame the Monarch of the Glen and find the happiness she deserves?



BLURB FOR BOOT CAMP BRIDE

Take an up-for-anything reporter.  Add a world-weary photo-journalist.  Put them together . . . light the blue touch paper and stand well back! Posing as a bride-to-be, Charlee Montague goes undercover at a boot camp for brides in order to photograph supermodel Anastasia Markova. At Charlee’s side and posing as her fiancé, is Rafael Ffinch award winning photographer and survivor of a kidnap attempt in Colombia. He’s in no mood to cut inexperienced Charlee any slack and has made it plain that once the investigation is over, their partnership - and fake engagement - will be terminated, too.  Soon Charlee has more questions than answers. What's the real reason behind Ffinch's interest in the boot camp? How is it connected to his kidnap in Colombia? In setting out to uncover the truth, Charlee puts herself in danger ... As the investigation draws to a close, she wonders if she’ll be able to hand back the engagement ring and walk away from Rafa without a backward glance.



Wednesday, 23 July 2014

A Kirkus Star Award




Awarded a coveted Kirkus Star, which they reserve for “books of remarkable merit.”




In Peterson’s (Losing Elizabeth, 2012, Leave of Absence, 2013) insightful third novel, a man suffering from various anxiety disorders finds hope after forming an unexpected bond with a troubled foster child.

Brian Cunningham, 43, is the night custodian and information technology specialist at Hayden Elementary School. A sufferer of acute panic attacks, he lives his life trapped in a nutshell, a self-imposed safety zone, beyond which exist his darkest fears. His profession allows him to minimize his contact with others, and thus manage, or at least tolerate, his debilitating disorder. As the novel opens, the author quickly and deftly charts the anatomy of a panic attack, a phenomenon many nonsufferers might ordinarily find inscrutable. Brian’s mind races as his inner narrative alerts him to perceived external threats that pose no real danger. His breath quickens, his chest tightens, and he suspects his heart is failing—little wonder, then, that he chooses to shut himself away from any potential trigger. Enter Abigail Harris, a hostile 7-year-old suffering from attachment issues and disorders relating to abuse and her being moved among foster homes. It is Abigail’s first day at school, and hating every moment of it, she decides to go AWOL. Brian discovers the small girl taking refuge in aclassroom, and overcoming the paralysis he normally experiences when unexpectedly encountering another person, he begins to communicate with her. The two are surprised to find that they share a mutual understanding. The novel charts the evolution of their platonic relationship, as they draw positivity and solace from their experiences. The friends begin to see a possibility for change, although numerous obstacles block their path. As in her previous novels, Peterson demonstrates a tender, notably human understanding of mental illness. In her latest effort, she plays to her strengths, jettisoning an occasionally soapy style in favor of constructing complex psychological portraits and realistic plotlines. In doing so, she accurately captures the crushing sensations of anxiety disorder while simultaneously offering rays of hope.




A vital tool for sufferers and their families that broadens understanding of a debilitating illness.



Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Summer Great Reads for You!


A selection of great summer reads recommended by Pauline Barclay….



Life Class by Gilli Allan

Leaving London and the private clinic she had set up with her partner, Dory returns back to the village where she grew up and where her sister and family still live. Dory wants to leave her shattered relationship behind her and try and start a new life, but Dory's sister, Fran delighted to have her younger sister back in the village not only wants to control, Dory, but enrols them both into the colleges, Friday morning, Life Class. Dory reluctant to join the class soon realises that her own life is far from straight forward and as she looks to find ways to come to terms with being alone again, little does she realise that the weekly Life Class will eventually provide the answers.
Gilli has written a beautiful book filled with real life emotions. The characters are rounded and you feel you not only know them, but are there with them. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, there is so much more to Life Class than the Friday morning lesson. For me, without a doubt a 5 star read.



Applause by Madalyn Morgan

A standing ovation! I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I felt I was in the streets of London during the blitz, zigzagging my way to the safety and the theatre where the main character works. If you love WW2 drama, then this book is for you. Beautifully written I cannot wait for more from this wonderfully talented author.





My Life in a Nutshell by Tanya J Peterson

Heart-rending, emotional, amusing and heart lifting. This is a beautiful story on how, in silence, a wonderfully gifted man lives his life despite crippling anxiety and panic attacks. There is a key that could help him unlock his mental turmoil. This key comes in the form of a seven year old girl who lives in her own nightmare, but does the key fit and if so can the lock be turned to help both of them? My Life in a Nutshell is truly beautiful. I could not put it down and although I know the time it takes to write such a breath taking page turning book, I cannot wait for more from this amazing author. I have given this 5 stars because that it the maximum on offer, but I would give it 10 if that was possible.
These are just three of the many books I have read this year and I will share more great reads with you soon, so please come back! Oh by the way all of these books are available from ALL Amazon sites!



Pauline's links
www.facebook.com/paulinembarclay