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Saturday, 30 November 2013

HUG A BOOK with Eileen Schuh


Hug A Book is sponsored by





It’s HUG A BOOK and this weekend it’s with Eileen Schuh

And

You could win a Kindle copy of
The Traz




Meet Eileen



I'm from AlbertaCanada and The Traz is my first novel and the first book in my BackTracker series which was released in May 2011 as an eBook and is now out in paperback. Schrödinger’s Cat, a psychological crime thriller that spans two universes was released in both eBook and print formats by Wolfsinger Publications in August 2011. My latest book, Fatal Error was published in 2012.



Details of The Traz

Katrina is thirteen, wealthy, grieving, and alone. But she is more than that. She's intelligent, beautiful, and intrigued by the dangers of street life.

Shrug's a giant of a man with a voice of thunder and eyes of granite. He has tattoos, The Traz gang patch, and a motorbike. When he asks Katrina if she wants a ride, she makes a decision that will change her life forever.

Katrina quickly discovers the violent side of life on The Traz compound. However, there is no way for her to escape until she meets Chad—an undercover cop with rich brown eyes, a gentle chuckle, and a plan to rescue Katrina from the clutches of the gang. However, there's a problem.

Somebody is keeping dangerous secrets from them both.




Available for Kindle & paperback



Excerpt

PROLOGUE

Cambridge Bay, December 1986

"How's my girl with the sunshine curls?" Dave Buckhold asked as he swung Katrina over his head. His young daughter squealed. He hugged her to his chest and her laughter subsided.
"Daddy! Daddy! Give me a kiss!" He nuzzled his lips to her tiny ear and gave her a million kisses. Beyond a doubt, Katrina was his reason for living. He pried her from his neck and set her down. "Where's Mom?"
A scowl replaced her smile. "I don't know."
"What do you mean, you don't know?"
Katrina reached for his hand. "She's somewhere."
Dave picked her up. She was four but so tiny. It was as if he had a toddler in his arms. He headed down the hall, flicking on lights as he went. "Tanesa?" he called. He frowned at his wife curled on the sofa. "Why are you lying here in the dark? You have a child to look after."
Tanesa kept her eyes shut. "She looks after herself fine."
Dave hugged Katrina tighter and cast the woman a long, silent gaze. His wife was nothing like their daughter. She was dark, in both skin tone and mood, and had none of the fine features that defined Katrina. Her straight black hair contrasted with Katrina's amber curls, and Tanesa was tall, matching him in height at five foot ten. At one time, he'd loved both her vulnerability and coarse beauty.
"Aren't you even going to say hi to me?" he eventually asked.
Tanesa slowly opened her eyes. "Hi."
"Katrina's too young to look after herself. Where's supper?"
"Ever since my dad and you bought her that computer…" Tanesa swung her legs over the edge of the couch and stared at her stockinged feet. She wiggled her toes into the thick gold carpet. "All she does is sit and play on the thing. I can only stand watching that for so long. Supper's in the oven." She rose and brushed past them to the kitchen.
"What did you have for lunch?" Dave whispered to Katrina.
"I look after myself fine," the child whispered back. "Don't fight. Please don't fight with Mommy."
Supper started in silence except for the clink of silverware against china. Dave was wiping up the last of his gravy with a bun when the mantle clock struck six o'clock. As the last chime faded, Tanesa spoke. "Dave, you promised me that we'd...."
Katrina pretended not to listen and ran the tines of her fork around her mound of potatoes. The spiralling lines looked magical. She topped her creation with a carrot. Her mother kept talking. "...move down south once Katrina got to school age."
"She's just four," her father growled. "School age isn't until six."
"Four going on thirty-four," Tanesa mumbled, staring out the window. Had there been any sunlight at all, she'd have been able to see a thousand miles of flat white tundra spreading to the horizon. In December, though, there was no sun.
"She's four," Dave insisted louder. "She needs a mother, for Christ's sake."



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Friday, 29 November 2013

Reviewed: Life Class by Gilli Alan


LIFE CLASS by Gilli Allan - review by J B JOHNSTON, of Brook Cottage Books


Life Class is about 4 individuals coming together for an art class. More specifically a Life Class. There is Stefan, the enigmatic and moody tutor of the class. This is his first teaching class and he is met with more resistance than he had bargained on. The class doesn't want to be taught new skills. They simply want to have fun. And, if Stefan was totally honest, he doesn't want to be a teacher! But, just what are his ambitions?

Then there is Dory, looking for a new start and a new future. Her less than conventional job, working in a sexual health clinic, has given her a jaded view of men and relationships in general. She is uncertain what path to take in her career and indeed her life. She's had her heart broken and her life disrupted. Needing to find some direction and a distraction, she is talked into going to the life class by her bossy sister Fran.

Fran is on the wrong side of 30 and is feeling the beginnings of a midlife crisis looming on the horizon. Her life is spiralling out of control as she hurtles towards her forties. She makes a completely out of character decision and soon begins to regret it, along with the decisions of the past. Trying to find an old boyfriend via the Internet takes her into a place darker than she could have imagined and threatens to destroy the life she settled on. Could things have been different for her if she'd been brave enough to follow her dreams when she was younger? Is it too late for her?

And lastly, there is the skinny, pale and mysterious teenager Dom, taken in by Stefan, but for what reason? Dom's life has not been easy. A street kid who has seen and been exposed to too much and now fears for his life. Yet he finds it hard to pull away from the lifestyle that threatens to destroy him, in more ways than one. Why has Stefan attached himself to this kid? And why have they been to Dory's clinic?

This is a fabulously well written book and explores the complexities around relationships, the need to be accepted, and the desire for love and family. It examines the choices that are made and the regrets that follow those decisions. Each one of the characters created by Gilli Allan is interesting, and multifaceted. Each of their lives is so different from the other yet connected by their circumstances and an art class. They are all caught in the idiosyncrasy that is human nature, and the uncertainty of who to trust in a world that has not been kind. At the heart of the story is love.
But, this is not a conventional hearts and flowers type of love story. It gets caught up in the nitty-gritty of life examining difficult subject matter in a tasteful and compassionate manner. We gain an insight into the not so nice side of life and human nature. Can love overcome all of this? You'll have to read the book to find out! This is a great read and I look forward to reading more by this talented author.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Who or What is the Love of my Life?


L-R Gordon Brown, Chris Longmuir, Will Jordan

Award winning author, Chris Longmuir reveals the answer to this question -Who or What is the Love of my Life?

Writers love to write, but they also have another love. What is that, I hear you say? Well, it’s simple really, it’s readers. Writers are nothing without readers, and even the most reclusive writer loves readers.

Well, this week I’m in my glory. Why? Again the reason is simple, it’s Book Week in Scotland, and lots of writers are out and about talking to readers.

I have my share as well. I did a talk on Monday evening as part of the Bloody Scotland on tour programme. Bloody Scotland, for those not in the know, is Scotland’s major crime festival which takes place each September and attracts the great and the good (writers) to come and talk to readers. There were three of us at that event Gordon Brown (author not MP), Will Jordan, and me. However, when it’s a panel of authors, talking to the audience can be a bit more formal than those times when there’s only the writer and the audience. The evening went well though, we each read a bit, talked a bit, and answered questions. So, it was a good evening.

Tuesday came and I was still talking because I did a library event at Brechin, a small town about 8 miles from where I live. I had a fabulous time there, the audience was warm and receptive, and it was a pleasure to be talking to them. This event had a cosier feel because I like to involve readers when I’m talking, it’s just like talking with friends at a party. So, the party was great, and quite a few of the readers who attended came up to me after to tell me how much they enjoyed it. It’s times like that which makes it all worth while. And one reader told me it was the first author event she had ever attended and it wasn’t what she had expected. You see, I wasn’t posh, I was just somebody like them. That made my day.

Oh, and I’m not finished yet. I have another talk tomorrow at a women’s group. Now I wonder what kind of audience they’ll be. But more importantly, will they like me!



Chris Longmuir






Wednesday, 27 November 2013

A Taster: The Traz by Eileen Schuh

A perfect introduction to the first in the backpacker series, The Traz by Eileen Schuh


Although she felt safe with Shrug, she definitely didn't feel relaxed. Shrug had become increasingly short with her. He seldom grinned and never chuckled. She sensed his quiet conversations with select bikers in secluded spots had something to do with his testiness. His recent behaviour had made her extra nervous and Stack's brash presence nearby wasn't making her feel any better.
"What's cracking up your ass, Stack Jacobs?" Shrug said, pausing to look up at Stack.
"That fucking little prick!" Stack repeated as he strolled toward Shrug.
Stack reached for Shrug's handlebars, but Shrug swatted his fingers. "Uh, no touch."
Katrina didn't like Stack. Though he didn't ogle her as Gator did, hidden under the bushiest eyebrows she'd ever seen were his weird eyes. The closest she could come to naming a colour for them was black. She thought Stack must be the guy Shrug was thinking of when he mentioned men who had the devil for a soul.
Last week, one of the bikers had come home with a puppy that he'd found in the ditch. Stack had cuddled it for a minute and then wrung its neck. In front of them all. She'd watched. Hadn't cried or cringed. Shrug had said she had to be dead inside to survive here. She'd told him she was.
"The Blue Torpedoes," Stack continued. He shoved his thumbs into his pant pockets. "Shucking their meth right outside the Trickster, for Christ's sake. Pepper, here, told him to get his ass off our path and he spat at me. That stupid son of a bitch!"
"The Blue Torpedoes?" Katrina asked. "Lukas?"
"You know him?" Stack queried.
Gator, who was kneeling beside his bike a couple of meters away, rose like an entranced cobra and stared across at her. Katrina knew instantly she'd said something wrong. Shrug stepped sideways to block Gator's view of her.
"She's heard me say his name," Shrug said.
Katrina knelt and ran her fingers through the dirt, pretending to look for something, holding her breath, and listening to her galloping heartbeat. For Shrug to lie for her must mean she was in very deep trouble.
"You know him, Shrug?" Pepper asked in his chirpy little voice.
"Yeah," Shrug said, wiping his palms on his overalls and keeping his eyes on Gator. "I know him."
"Friend of yours, Sarina?" Gator called out boldly. "Boyfriend?"
"I told you," Shrug said menacingly. "She's heard me speak of him."
"You lie like a sidewalk, Shrug." Gator's low, gravelly voice sent chills down Katrina's spine.
Silence followed. Dark silence. Katrina stilled her hand and closed her eyes against her rising panic. She was terrified and she didn't know why.
"Meeting tonight!" Gator's voice finally rang out. Katrina heard his footsteps breaking the frost on the grass as he walked away.
When Gator was out of earshot, Pepper asked, "What's cracking up his ass?"

Buy your copy now!



Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Taster: Life Class by Gilli Allan


A tantalising taster from Gilli Allan's Life Class
Enjoy!
1 - Christmas Eve

‘I work in the sex trade,’ was her usual answer. It amused her to watch the battle for self-control in the face of whoever had asked the question, and their dawning relief when she added the qualifier, ‘...the clean-up end.’
Her job had always had its lighter moments, but today, since she’d come back from her lunch break, her mood had plummeted. On the pin board above her microscopes, official instructions about hygiene, circulars and timetables jostled with the cartoons and jokes members of staff had attached. Her contribution – NEVER TRUST A SMILING HETEROSEXUAL – was boldly inscribed on a post-it note. Even though she’d become used to seeing it there, it usually it made her smile. Now it was neither funny nor relevant.
She had only seen the patient’s back view but had recognised the boy instantly. And it was impossible not to start putting two and two together, given who she’d spotted waiting in his car outside.

Earlier she’d walked back from the city centre, her mind buzzing, consumed by thoughts of the house, her mad offer for it ... and its owner. She’d had to juggle with bags, umbrella and key fob to get the boot of her car open and stow her purchases. Just as she slammed it shut, the sun had come out and a sudden flare off a puddle momentarily blinded her. She averted her eyes. In that instant she recognised the man she’d been thinking about, sat in the car parked next to hers.

What a come down. But it didn’t have to mean anything. Perhaps it was just a bizarre coincidence. Even if they had come together there was any number of explanations. Perhaps he’d come as a ‘buddy’, or in loco parentis to support the boy. She rubbed at her forehead. Why was she trying to convince herself that the obvious conclusion was the wrong conclusion? And what was it to her anyway? If you work in this field you can’t be judgmental, she reminded herself. Other people’s life-style choices are none of your business.


2 - The Previous September

 

‘...And you’d rather miss your first life class? For Christ’s sake sis, there’s more to life than the speed of your Broadband!’

‘I don’t want to miss it, Fran, but the engineer should have been here an hour ago, and….’ Mobile cupped against her ear, Dory looked around at the packing cases that still took up much of the floor space in her small sitting room. ‘There’s still masses to do. I’ve boxes yet to open, let alone unload.’
‘There’ll be time enough for all that boring stuff. After all, today is the first day of the rest of your life!’
‘Have you been reading your fridge magnets again?’
‘Why do you think we fall back on platitudes, Dory? Because they’re based on universal truths. So?’
Glancing at her watch Dory walked back into the kitchen. Her sister had a point. Even if it had been against her better judgement, why agree to be enrolled for the class if she wasn’t prepared to make an effort to attend it? She reached across the sink to close the window. Below her 1st floor rented maisonette, a dahlia enthusiast had filled his small garden with the blousy blooms, their colours magnified in the morning sun. They weren’t a favourite of hers but, momentarily transfixed by the implausible flare of luminous pinks, reds and oranges, by the crazy deckchair stripes, she felt her spirits lift.
‘OK. If the BT bloke doesn’t arrive in the next ten minutes, I’ll reschedule the appointment. I might be a bit late but…. See you when I see you.’ Dory pressed the red button and breathed. Despite the tower of packing cases, a great deal had been accomplished in a very short time. Storage solutions still had to be found, but it would all be sorted. How could she regret the London house she’d left behind? What price prestige, location, success if you’re unhappy in your relationship, if you’re not doing what you want to do?
So now she’d taken the first steps to real independence, what was she going to do with it? How was she going to live the rest of her life? Maybe today would prove the cliché. It might yet prove to be the beginning of something, a different direction, a different way of thinking? After all, science had always come second to art, when she was growing up. How had she found herself in a science-based career?
The future was a clean sheet, waiting to be written. But it was her wish list, not her sister’s. In her mind’s eye Dory could see the words ‘Start a business (something creative?)’ as the first entry on that imaginary blank page. Ignore what Fran thought her priorities should be. There was little likelihood that ‘men and relationships’ would figure on the list any time soon … if ever.

***

The woman who’d come out of the office would have looked more at home at an open air music festival than standing here, hands spread on the reception desk. Behind small round glasses, her eyes were smudged with greasy black make-up; her layers of baggy clothes looked as if they’d been assembled in the dark, the acidic taint of sweat hung in the air. She waited, mouth pinched, for him to identify himself.
‘I’ve been engaged to teach art classes.’ He cleared his throat. ‘Stefan Novak. Mornings. Monday, Tuesday and today.’ He was already tense about the new job – let alone the fact he was starting on a Friday, which felt weird in itself. Now he was getting the distinct message that his arrival was as unexpected as it was unwelcome, and was preventing this woman from getting on with far more important work. Maybe this was an over-reaction, saying more about him than it did about her. Even so, he could do without the assault on his confidence – wherever it came from. There was nothing to stop him turning on his heels and walking out. He didn’t have to do this. Except that he knew he did. He couldn’t live on air. He had to do something until … if ... the big breakthrough.
‘Ah!’ Sitting down abruptly, she swivelled towards the computer monitor and banged the mouse several times on the desk. She raised her hand to her head and raked through her short hair, leaving it sticking up in all directions. He noticed the colour – an unnatural orange – was growing out, giving the roots a faded, almost greenish-brown tint.
‘I didn’t recognise you as staff. And you’re too early to be a student.’ It seemed a half-hearted justification of her ungracious manner. She still stared at the screen. ‘So…’ Rapid clicks of the mouse. A muted swearword. ‘You are … Stefan Novak?’ she eventually read out, as if he’d not supplied his name already. She looked towards him, eyes narrowed, accusing. ‘You’ve taken over from Sandira Benfield?’
He shrugged. ‘So I’ve been told.’ There was a pause.
‘Everyone liked Sandy.’ Stefan wondered if he should apologise. ‘Do you know where your class is? First floor, right at the top of the stairs, second door along.’ She handed him some keys. ‘That one’s the class and that’s the storeroom. When he gets in I’ll tell Gordon, head of department, you’ve arrived.’
As he mounted the stairs he was aware of the tension, still gripping him. Was it a kind of stage fright? Anxiety about standing in front of a class? Only natural he supposed. After all, he wasn’t a teacher. Had never had the slightest instinct or ambition to teach. Yet here he was. He’d heard the horror stories, but this wasn’t an inner city comprehensive, it was an adult class. The students were here by choice. And one of them – if he turned up – he already knew. At least he needn’t worry about meeting resistance or having to win the class over.

***

Dom sniffed surreptitiously in the direction of his armpit. Didn’t seem too honk too badly and it would’ve made him late to go back to wash and change. It was more important to make sure of getting the bus. And if he had shown his face, what’s the betting he’d’ve had to listen to another bollocking about staying out overnight, or endure another sermon about going back to school.
Couldn’t they get it? He’d had it with school. If the Principal was to be believed, school’d had it with him. What was the point? At his age he didn’t have to go any more, and he wasn’t about to beg to be allowed to. Anyway, there was only one subject he was interested in, and doing this three whole mornings a week had to be better than one poxy art lesson, with a roomful of kids who didn’t care and a teacher who’d given up trying to make them. He’d show them all!
Across the pavement from the bus stop the shop window was plastered with tempting adverts. No point trying to buy smokes. Dom guessed he’d be challenged about his age and didn’t have any ID on him. Perhaps he could blag some off Stefan. He couldn’t be bothered to waste energy arguing about it now. But crisps and cola were another matter. He’d not eaten since…? As he struggled to recall, the pang of hunger and thirst that gripped his belly was irresistible.
The Asian woman filling a shelf on the back wall behind the counter turned at the piercing chime of the doorbell. She visibly stiffened. One hand clutched the filmy scarf thing around her neck, the other curved, kind of protectively, over the till drawer. What did she think? That he was going to rob her? Didn’t she realise he was in more danger of being mugged than she was?
The other night they’d taken his iPod and some cash, but he’d got away without being badly hurt. That was the main thing. And he’d already recouped the money. Withdrawing his right hand from the pocket of his low-slung jeans he double-checked the screwed up bank notes in his grubby palm. And it felt like there was some change at the bottom of his pocket, too. He didn’t need to pinch anything … well, not from people like her. If he did ever nick stuff – his left hand encircled the new iPhone in his other pocket – it’d be from the big shops in the city centre. Whatever Stefan said … it was, like, a victimless crime, wasn’t it? Although recently Stefan had stopped asking him how he acquired his stuff, or where he got the extra money.
The strap of his backpack now comfortably heavy over his shoulder, he returned to the stop, swigging from one of the six-pack of cola he’d bought. In the distance the bus appeared and the queue shuffled forward. Somehow, since knowing Stefan, he’d become more aware of his environment, more aware of light and shade, of form and substance, colour and texture. Taller than the bloke in front of him, Dom had a view of the top of his head, pink scalp gleaming through the silky strands of white hair. Then, as if suddenly sensing something, the man glanced back over his shoulder. The crazed skin of his face was almost grey, a spider-web of blue on the cheeks. The blurry yellowed eyes narrowed; his mouth compressed into a puckered slash. Taking a distancing step, the old geezer turned away and began to mutter. Slowly they boarded the bus. Dom stepped up behind him and heard snatches of his ramblings before the driver cut them short.
‘… Out there … our brave boys … Queen and country … likes of you …’
‘All right mate. Everyone knows it’s a scandal. Where to?’

***

‘The engineer was due at eight, but when I spoke to Dory he’d still not arrived,’ Fran told her husband. She lifted her jacket from the hook. ‘So she might be late for her first class. OK, I’m off.’
‘That’s a shame.’ Instead of retreating into the sitting room or the kitchen, Fran watched bemused as Peter crossed the wood-block flooring of the large hall and picked up her art bag. He opened the door and stepped out onto the porch, sliding his socked foot into one of his Crocs.
‘Where are you…? What are you doing?’
He stood on one foot attempting to hook Jimbo away from the other shoe with his upturned toes.
‘Out the way bird-brained animal…!’ He stretched out his hand towards Fran. ‘I’m helping you. Car keys?’
Helping me? ‘I’m capable of carrying…’
‘But now I’m home I can help. This bag’s heavy. Is everything in here strictly necessary?’ Both Chihuahuas now leapt and skittered around his feet as he walked to the back of her car.
‘I never know what I’m going to want. I may as well take everything.’
‘And it’s disgustingly filthy. You don’t want dust and charcoal and goodness knows what, all over your clothes.’
‘But Peter…?’ I’ll be lifting it out of the boot and carrying it into the school, she argued silently. Unless you’re planning to come with me as my porter.
‘Why don’t you get yourself a new bag? Then you can rationalise the contents and chuck this one out. Bet you’re lugging stuff to and fro you’ll never need.’
She acknowledged his last remark with a tight smile as she took the car keys he proffered and slid onto the driver’s seat. Was this what it was going to be like from now on? His view of early retirement had been rosy and optimistic. Hers had been more cautious, a caution that was beginning to look justified. ‘Now he was home’ he’d said, with that indulgent smile, as if there was nothing but good to be gained from his continual presence. This ‘helping her out to the car’ was exactly what she was afraid of. A kind of well-meant suffocation.
She was still a young woman – not yet forty – fit and attractive and still up for a good time, which in her book did not mean a trip to the pub for lunch with your husband every other Wednesday. She wasn’t ready to embark on the kind of Saga existence that he presumably envisaged. She enjoyed her freedom; she liked to do exactly what she wanted, when she wanted, without explanation or interference. It was early days but having him hanging around her house 24/7, with nothing to do but wonder what she was doing, was already getting on her nerves big-time.
You are being so petty, she reproved herself. And you’re not being fair. But guilty conscience didn’t stop her feeling this way. But hey, she could forget home and husband for a few hours. She was on her way to the first life class of the autumn term. The class changed little from year to year, but this time her little sis’ would be there … and maybe one or two other new members. A buzz of anticipation began.
           ‘Give my regards to….’ Peter called after her as the car began to move away, crunching over the gravel.


Now go and grab your copy! 
Available from all Amazon



Monday, 25 November 2013

Reviewed: Satchfield Hall by Pauline Barclay



"This book evokes powerful emotions from the reader," says Susan Livingstone

Henry Bryant-Smythe has no heart.  He views his wife and daughter as assets.  He takes great pleasure in causing his wife, Muriel, discomfort and embarrassment.  He explodes in rage when he finds out his unmarried daughter, Celia, is pregnant.  He concocts a plan that will cause his family and neighbors years of pain.

Pauline Barclay has written a powerful tale that draws the reader in and makes them feel like they are part of the story.  The reader feels Muriel's and  Celia's pain as the tale unfolds, becoming angrier as time goes by.  I actually had the urge to hit Henry Bryant-Smythe in the face with an iron skillet.  I'm sure others will feel that same anger.

This book evokes powerful emotions from the reader.  If you haven't already, I suggest you buy and read this phenomenal book now  You rock, Pauline!!!!  Keep writing!



Saturday, 23 November 2013

HUG A BOOK with Suzy Turner


Hug A Book is sponsored by




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

And

You could win a Kindle copy of
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.





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Friday, 22 November 2013

Dead Wood by Chris Longmuir


Taster from Dead Wood
by Chris Longmuir

Chapter One – Dead Wood
Last night, when the dark was at its blackest, something nipped at her fingers. She wiggled them and it moved away, slithering into the unknown, no doubt waiting for another opportunity.
It was day now. She could tell because the dark had lightened to a greyish gloom.
Her head felt strange, like it did when she’d had too much vodka. Her eyes were playing tricks on her. She fixed her gaze on the leafy canopy overhead. The branches swayed and rustled, bending towards her, clutching and reaching to pull her into their embrace.
At first she’d thought he would come back, that this was just some kinky game he was playing. But this was no game.
Left alone, tied to the tree, it hadn’t been long before the glacial cold air bit into the core of her. Shivers, violent and uncontrollable, consumed her body but there was nothing she could do to stop them. She closed her eyes, hoping for release from the icy pain. Then, during the night, she’d been back in City Square celebrating the New Year. The bells had been ringing, the crowds singing and bottles shared. But it was all unreal and dreamlike.
Now it was day and she was feeling warmer. She desperately wanted to sleep but fought against it. She struggled, pulling and pushing her wrists in a vain attempt to break free. But it was hopeless. Each time she moved her arms the bonds seared into her flesh, and pain jolted up her arms. Her shoulders, savagely pulled into a backwards embrace of the tree, throbbed. Her mouth itched under the sticky tape. Her feet were free, but it made no difference to her predicament. She could stand up, sliding her arms up the back of the tree, and sit down again – if she could bear the agony of the bark scraping the length of her arms and the wrenching pain in her shoulders – but there was no way she could escape.
As the day lengthened and dusk gathered round the trees, her body sagged and her chin drooped. She was no longer cold and sleep claimed her. It was a restless sleep, disturbed by the strange rustlings in the undergrowth and the feeling of being watched. But the dark hid her companions, her sisters of the forest, silent, sleeping, decomposing slowly under a fine blanket of snowflakes.
The scurrying creatures of the forest were not the only ones who watched. He had returned. It was important for him to be there at the final moment, for he had one last task before she died or her soul would not be purified and saved. Now that the screaming was past it was time to remove the tape from her mouth, so that her soul would soar free with her last breath.

Now watch the trailer...

Dead Wood, published by Polygon, Paperback only

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Brook Cottage Books Nominated!



In life we meet many people and sometimes you meet someone special, Pauline Barclay asked the amazing JB Johnston from Brook Cottage Books over to FFP HQ to talk about her nomination at the Festival of Romance earlier this month and what it means to her.

My book blog, Brook Cottage Books, will be one year old on 1st December and it’s certainly been a busy year for the blog. At first I was worried that I wouldn’t have enough posts to keep people interested. How wrong I was. I actually have too many! But, I must be doing something right because this year I was nominated and shortlisted for an Industry Award. The Award was for Romance Blogger of the Year as part of the Festival of Romance in Bedford, England.

I hadn’t actually realised I had been shortlisted until I saw a number of tweets appear on my phone, offering me congratulations. When I finally discovered what for I went through such a range of emotions ranging from shock to being struck dumb, to sheer delight! It was a huge confidence boost for me, especially when I saw the other 4 bloggers I had been shortlisted with. These ladies were giants in the blogging world and my inspiration!

Blogging takes up a huge amount of time. It’s not simply spending ten minutes to write a post. Blogging is like having a second full time job. When you are not writing then you are reading or researching, promoting or organising things for authors. You are planning and re-planning, answering a million emails and keeping on top of social media, making sure your blog becomes familiar with readers, authors, publishers and other bloggers. There’s book news to catch up on and of course supporting fellow bloggers.  And these are just some of the things we do free of charge! We do it because we love books so much. So, it was great to see bloggers being recognised in the awards at the festival and being seen as a vital cog in the publishing wheel!

Attending the festival was fantastic fun and it was lovely to finally meet many online friends. As soon as people realised who I was they threw their arms around me.  People were asking me for advice regarding their books and wanting to be on my blog! The welcome I received was amazing!  What attending the festival and being shortlisted for an award really reinforced for me firstly, that I’d love to do something in the book world full time and make a career somehow from my blog, and secondly, what a fantastic support authors / bloggers are to each other. There was no sense of rivalry, particularly amongst the bloggers who were happy that the award would be going to someone we all knew, loved and respected. In the end, I didn’t win the award. The lovely Sharon Goodwin who has a blog called Jera’s Jamboree won.  She really deserved the award and I didn’t feel sadness for myself that I hadn’t won. I felt happiness for Sharon and I real sense of pride that my lovely friend was being recognised for all her hard work. Unfortunately she hadn’t been able to attend the Festival so her award was collected on her behalf.


 When myself, Carol Wright and Kirsty Maclennan, the attending runners up, (Tanya Farrell was unable to attend) were called to receive our prizes, we received a standing ovation from the other people in the room. Authors and publishers were standing up and acknowledging us. Mere bloggers! It was humbling. They were giving us our place in the writing community and it was a proud moment. I felt like a celebrity! Thank you to everyone who has supported me with my blog. I owe you a debt of gratitude I can never repay.

LINKS: www.brookcottagebooks.blogspot.com                     Twitter: @BrookCottagebks

FB: www.facebook.com/brookcottagebooks                          Email: brookbooks@hotmail.co.uk

Congratulations JB and all the other fabulous Bloggers who were nominated, you are all amazing people who support authors in many ways and I for one are very grateful.