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Monday, 31 March 2014

Bite Me!

Bite me! Eileen Schuh on how sound bites can snap at you!

Reporters are always after that "15-second sound bite"--those few sentences from an interview, speech, or press conference that will grab the attention of the audience and pull them into the story. TV and radio time is limited and tightly scheduled yet much of the audio recorded during the coverage of events tends to be rambling, full of 'ehs', and 'ers', repetition, perhaps irrelevancies or self-promotion, local lingo or dialect that won't be understood by most. Reporters want sharp 15-second pieces of dialogue around which to wrap their stories.

Famous bites:

"I have a dream..." ~Martin Luther King Jr.

"and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth." [Gettysburg Address]

‘MH370 has been lost and...none of those on board survived’
~Malaysia Airlines text message

I, too, am always on the hunt for the bite, although usually a word-bite not a sound bite. For instance, which phrase from a 5-star Amazon review should I pull out to tweet? Which words say something impressive, original and powerful and will fit Twitter's 140-character limit into which I must also put the book title and a link?

I also pull bites from reviews to post on facebook and my blog and website. Although these bites might be longer than a tweet, they can't be too long because reviewers hold the copyright to their reviews and without permission, anything more than a short excerpt infringes on copyright. I need just enough words to spike interest, then post a link where readers can go for more.

It's not just from reviews that I pull bites, but from blog posts that I want to promote, too. Whether they are blogs I've written, blogs written about me and/or my books, or important blogs others have written, I look for words that will arouse curiosity and compel my fans to click the link that leads to the full blog.

Sometimes I pull bites from news items that interest me, are about me, or are otherwise relevant to my career.

Social networkers often don't pay enough attention to the bites they use, opting to just cite the headline, or the title of the blog, or the first words of the review, or unimaginatively summarizing. Some just use the automated 'share' feature.

I think it is important to spend a moment or two scanning whatever it is one wants to promote to find that short phrase that jumps out at you, catches your eye or better yet, catches your breath. Something emotional, witty, alliterate perhaps. Poetic. Humorous. Inspiring. Original.

Which tweet would most likely get you to check out this blog?
  1. Today on Famous Five Plus, Eileen Schuh talks about the use of word bites in marketing
  2. Author Eileen Schuh talks about using powerful 'word bites' on the social networks
  3. "The phrase that catches your breath" more about Sound Bites on Famous Five Plus 

Bite me has been brought to you by:

 "Chilling -- a fast and fascinating read!” 

"A psychological mystery of the first order..." 

“...a mind-bending roller coaster ride” 

"A speeding bullet of a story..."

“Ever wish you could live two lives? 

"the zinger of an ending? It will knock your socks off!

Eileen Schuh, Author


Schrödinger's Cat

The Traz

Saturday, 29 March 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


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


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.

Suzy’s Links

(more coming soon

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

No Such Thing as a Free Lunch

A personal perspective of indie publishing by top selling author, Lizzie Lamb

When I self-published Tall, Dark and Kilted (October 2013), there was much talk of Amazon changing the algorithms.

The what?

My head was so full of ITIN/ISBN/W8-BEN/uploading/downloading that there was no room for another buzz word. So I filed it away and concentrated on launching Tall Dark and Kilted and organising five book launches with the other members of my indie publishing group: The New Romantics 4.

When the furore of publishing day and book launches abated, I decided to ‘get my name out there’. As a result, I signed up for KDP Select and offered my novel for free download for five days in late December 2012. My intention was to make the most of the pre-Christmas kindle sales and hoped that people who were giving kindles as Christmas presents might download my novel and give it a temporary fillip. 

At that time, it was a widely held belief that if you made your book available for free download it would rocket up the top 100 list and become more ‘visible’. The book would ride on the crest of the wave and continue to sell after the ‘free’ period ended. And indeed, it did all of those things. Over a two day period, Tall Dark and Kilted ‘rose’ to #1 in contemporary romance, #3 in best seller free kindle store (UK) and #25 throughout all books and #9 in contemporary romance (US). All of this was achieved without any promotion whatsoever on my part. I took the novel off free download after two days as I’d given away 12,000 ‘copies’. In retrospect, I should have let it ride for the full five days to see where it would have ended up - and to give myself greater exposure. After all, I was doing this as a sort of ‘experiment.’ Although I quickly disappeared from the top 100 (the algorithm, see), I continued to sell well throughout January, February and into March. I did especially well with ‘borrows’ on the Kindle Prime Loan - which I hadn’t really considered when I joined KDP select.

Fast forward a year to the publication of my second novel: BOOT CAMP BRIDE - romance and intrigue on the Norfolk marshes (November 2013). I did not make it available for free download and here are my reasons why . . .   

(1)  The algorithm has changed and free downloads no longer count towards your overall amazon ranking.

(2)  Savvy readers know that most books will be free at some point and wait for that to happen.

(3)  Some readers have up to 400 free books on their kindle which they have no intention of reading, let alone reviewing. If they don’t read your ‘free’ book, how will they learn about you as a new author, let alone be prepared to buy your next book.

(4)  You may attract readers outside of your genre/readership simply because the book is free. They may hate your book and give it lower star rating because they didn’t ‘get’ you, your novel or your genre. 

(5)  It makes more sense to target readers who purchase books in your genre and build up a readership/following through social networking and word of mouth. I find this is working really well for me, thanks to Facebook, Twitter, my blogs/website and guest appearances on other writers’ blogs.

(6)  Some pundits believe that free downloads don’t work for new authors because they don’t have the necessary readership/sales to keep the book at the top after the promo ends. In retrospect, I think this is probably true.

(7)  I think the amount of free books being given away can be detrimental to authors overall. I mean, come on, anyone who isn’t prepared to pay 99p for something that may have taken up a year (or more) of your life isn’t going to stay with you for the long haul. Are they?

(8)  There is a common perception that free books may not be very good, are unedited, and haven’t been proof checked etc.If a writer has offered free downloads in the past, some readers are prepared to sit it out until the author’s next novel becomes available for free download too.

So - How am I going to promote my next book and the one(s) after that?
I’m exploring ways of making my book ‘ping’ with Amazon and increase its visibility to readers through new review postings, changing categories, honing sub categories, keywords/phrases, changing the pricing, updating the ‘Product Description’ to over 500 words, and asking friends to put it on their Amazon ‘wish list’ or to ‘LIKE’ it on my page. It’s better to have a slow drip of reviews than have them all arrive on your Amazon page within the first month of publication and then never receive another.  As an indie author I can do all of the above with my book without waiting for an agent/publisher to agree and give me the go-ahead.

It will be interesting to see how Boot Camp Bride fares compared to Tall, Dark and Kilted. Watch this space; but above all, download my novels, they cost less than a cappuccino and will never be free. But they will be on offer (for a limited time) as part of a Kindle Countdown deal. More of which, later . . .

Other authors might have a different take on the ‘free’ sales conundrum.
If you have something to share, please leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you.

Boot Camp Bride - Romance and Intrigue on the Norfolk marshes - November 2013

Tall, Dark and Kilted - Notting Hill Meets Monarch of the Glen - 2012

Lizzie’s Links
twitter: @lizzie_lamb             twitter: @newromantics4

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Publication Day for Applause by Madalyn Morgan

Today we are celebrating the publication of Madalyn Morgan's Applause, the second book in the Dudley Sisters Quartet. Another beautiful WW2 drama.

Here is what the blurb says....

In the early years of World War 2, Margot (Margaret) Dudley works her way up from usherette to leading lady in a West End show.  Driven by blind ambition Margot becomes immersed in the heady world of nightclubs, drink, drugs and fascist thugs – all set against a background of the London Blitz.  To achieve her dream, Margot risks losing everything she holds dear. 

Today Applause is available in Kindle (paperback to follow very soon)

To buy and download your Kindle copy here are the links..

Monday, 24 March 2014

Be Consistent!

Pauline Barclay talks about the importance of being consistent.

If people ask you what you do, I guess as a writer you tell them you are an author and if your books are published, you add, a published author. But as well as being a published author, you are also a brand and you need to promote that too. Below are some basic ideas to help new authors who have not yet created their social platform.

Of course you may well argue that you are a writer and that once your book(s) are on Amazon they will sell. Of course they will initially, family and friends will purchase copies, but what about the people you don’t know and don't know you? If you are an indie author it is down to you to market and promote you and your books so you can reach out to a wider audience of readers.

There are many ways to promote your books, but first you need to engage on social media. If you have not already built a platform, then now is a good time to start. What I would recommend is that which ever social area you become involved with you are consistent with your name. In other words, keep the same name for your web site, Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, email etc.

Your name is you! My author name, Pauline Barclay is the name I use on all my media so that if anyone wants to Google me all my connections should appear with links. I also try and keep the same theme and photo of me on all my connections. This hopefully identifies me and my books as visitors check out my Blog, Web, Facebook etc.

If I appear on other Blogs and web sites, I always provide all my links and the same pictures that appear everywhere else to do with me. I also have leaflets printed to hand out to potential readers and again, the same picture of me and my books appear on these. I also had a bag designed with my 'brand' pictures on. Of course this is all small compared to multi-national companies, but it is a step to creating my own brand and being consistent with name, image and messages so that all readers, new and old can identify with. Pauline Barclay is a published writer and is in a way a brand!

These are just some very basic ideas to help you set up your social platform and help you build you - your brand! Good luck!

Friday, 21 March 2014

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


You could win a Kindle copy of Fatal Error

Meet Eileen

Eileen Schuh has published two novels in her young adult BackTracker series, THE TRAZ and FATAL ERROR, as well as an adult SciFi novella, SCHRÖDINGER'S CAT.  THE TRAZ is also available in a School Edition.
THE TRAZ explores issues such as grief, depression, illicit drugs, and gangs while FATAL ERROR looks at guilt, blame, betrayal and ultimately, forgiveness. The third book in the series, FIREWALLS will be officially released February 2014. Written to inspire adolescents and the adults in their lives, Schuh is pleased to have been invited to present her BackTracker novels as teaching tools to at-risk adolescents in venues such as the North Slave Young Offenders Facility and the St. Paul Alternate Education Centre.

SCHRÖDINGER'S CAT with its tangled relationships, weaves emotion into the science of multi-universes. Two worlds, two lives—too much for one woman.
Schuh lives in Canada’s northern boreal forest and draws her inspiration from the wilderness, her family and friends, and her adopted community of St. Paul, Alberta.

Details of Fatal Error

Four lives intertwined by fate may lead to one fatal error…

When the police chopper rescues her from The Traz biker compound, fourteen-year-old Katrina thinks she’s escaping her brutal past. But she soon discovers that the cops know her darkest secrets, and she slides into an emotional hell of horror and guilt.

Shrug, the undercover officer who recruited her to the gang, struggles to undo the harm he has inflicted, but his attempts to protect Katrina spiral out of control. His boss, Sergeant Kindle, knows nothing can be forgotten and much must be forgiven before Katrina or Shrug will be free from the aftermath of the police sting.

Complicating matters, Katrina's dream relationship with another undercover officer, Chad, hits a major firewall when she discovers he's engaged. Just one fatal error could send Katrina, and everyone else involved, down a path of destruction that could leave no survivors.

A Taster…

Cooper stuffed his hands into his pockets and stared down at her. For some reason, the look in his eyes made her feel like crying. She shifted uncomfortably and lifted her chin. Shrug had taught her it was dangerous to be weak.
"What do we do now?" she asked.
"Let's find a quiet place to talk. It's warm out. How about we walk down by the river?"
Outside, Katrina drank in the astounding beauty of the Alberta September. Across the river, gold leaves glittered behind the red berry bushes lining the bank. Interspersed in the dazzle of fall colours were the spruce trees, stretching their deep green toward the rich, late-afternoon sun. The sky was a cloudless blue dome and the air was thick with the pungent scent of autumn. Fallen leaves, some mottled and others striped, crunched beneath their feet.
This was the time of year when she used to go hunting with Grandpa. Hunting ducks and geese involved autumn skies and sunrises and sunsets. And colourful reflections in ponds. She'd always remember the calls of the birds echoing off cool morning mists and the warmth of a retriever, shivering with excitement at the chase.
But those moments were gone.
When they were away from traffic and pedestrians, Cooper motioned her to stop. She took a spot on a park bench and watched the diamond sparkles racing downstream on top of the wavelets.
Cooper joined her on the bench. "Sergeant Kindle wants to question you about a murder."

She froze and the world became deathly quiet.

Available for Kindle & paperback

Eileen’s Links

There is a copy of Fatal Error up for grabs if you would like to review a copy. 
Just leave a comment below.... thank you!

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Reviewed: Night Watcher by Chris Longmuir

Are you being watched?

These are excerpts from some of my Amazon reviews, I thought you might like to take a look. The book page, where you will find all the reviews listed, is on, click the link to view them.

Here are the reviews:

Night watcher is the sort of novel that keeps the reader glued to its pages,frantically guessing as the plot takes numerous twists and turns. There is a terrific sense of place as well; the atmosphere within the Dundee store becomes almost claustrophobic especially when the night watcher of the title is around. A great read from a writer who knows how to set the pace very well.
Alex Gray – crime writer

How fabulous to read a book from a crime writer who is new to me. I absolutely loved this book and couldn't put it down. It's creepy, page-turning and completely believable right to the very last page. Can't wait to read another by this author.
Chick-It lover

Another fantastic read in Chris Longmuir's The Dundee Series of thriller, suspense novels. Once again, on the edge of my seat all the way through, eager to turn the page yet disappointed when it came to an end. And what an end it is! Massive WOW factor! Hugely recommended.
Kathryn Brown

At first I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy this novel and it took me a while to get into the storyline. However I then became hooked! Another fabulous book by Chris Longmuir.
Amanda Mccosh

This story moves along at a great pace and as a Dundonian the setting makes it all the more enjoyable however you don't need to live in Dundee to enjoy this or other books in the series. Great characters and plot make this well worth reading.
Linsey Roddy

Having read Chris' s first crime novel , couldn't wait for next! Very good storyline and I had to keep reading. Am now waiting for next book and wondering if we'll meet the watcher again. Well worth the read. Also her historical novel A salt splashed cradle is another extremely good read.
Sheila H

This was read in two sittings. This author has the ability to draw her reader right in to the plot, and to identify with her characters. The plot weaves through the book and guesses at the culprit are never certain as so much happens to make one rethink. Chris Longmuir is a skilled writer who makes the reader part of the plot by her descriptions of both character and place.
I would recommend this book to any reader who enjoys engaging in detecting crime.
I cannot wait to read more from this author

There are loads more reviews – 23 five-star ones, 3 four-star ones, and only 1 two-star review, which I think is pretty good going. And before you ask – no, they’re not all my relatives, and the majority of them are unknow to me, which makes the good reviews all the better. So, I want to thank every reader who left a review, it’s the best thing you can do to support an author whose books you like.

Check out all the reviews here at

Chris Longmuir

Amazon author page - Amazon

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Meet the Main Character with Eileen Schuh

During one of my Book Club meetings the point put to the group was “discuss the role the farm land played as a character in the novel.”

My first thought was that the farm was the setting, not a character, but on further consideration I realized that the land did indeed have a relationship to the characters and its changing facets drove the plot. Although I can’t say it was the main character, it certainly did play a major role in the story.

Stories are always symbolic of our own lives, so it came to me to ask, ‘Who (or what) is the main character in my life?”

We should all probably have the starring role in our own lives, but do we? Are we at the centre of our story? Are we the ones pushing the plot forward, growing, struggling, changing, achieving? Does the action revolve around us? Are we the ones setting the pace, taking charge,  writing our life story?

Or are we subservient to other characters? Do our lives fulfill others’ dreams? Do we wait on others to bring us our riches? Do we blame others for our failures?
Rather than our actions centering on our own well-being and the forging of our careers and relationships do powerful entities like money, success, and notoriety determine the paths we take? Are they the main characters in our lives, plotting our story?

Secondary characters are imperative to a good story, protagonists a must, relationships and action necessary but, in the end, the main character is the one who is important, who grows, learns, changes—from beginning to end.

Let others play the lead in their lives and start playing the starring role in our own.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

One Act of Kindness

Jane Leonard talks about her beloved home, Magnolia House.

Sometimes the kindest act can have dire consequences. I have always been the kind of person who would go that extra mile if it helped someone, but my latest deed backfired beyond belief.

Events took place that put me in a position to give half of my house to my only son. Magnolia House had been in the family for decades, long before I was taken there as a young blushing bride fifty years earlier. I loved the house, of course it needed bringing up to date, but what house that you've lived in for half a century doesn't? Anyway, within a year of my generous gift, the ink having barely dried on all the legal documents, my home had to be sold. Believe you me, it was not my decision and I was bitterly against it. Can you imagine strangers traipsing around your home poking their noses into your private crooks and crannies? Of course you can't, but that is what happened. And if that was not enough a For Sale sign was unceremoniously hammered into my beloved front garden.  The world, well at least the entire village where clacking about Magnolia House being put up for sale. Oh the shame and all my own doing!

Of course the sale created a great deal of interest as the estate agent never failed to remind me and then one day it all happened. I was not prepared for any of it, my life was turned upside down and it would never be the same again.

Magnolia House is available in Kindle and paperback

Kindle: Amazon co uk
Paperback: Amazon co uk
Kindle: Amazon com

Paperback: Amazon com

Pauline's links

Monday, 17 March 2014

A Poignant Letter from Tanya J Peterson

Leave of Absence has been out for one year (since April, 2013). In that time, I have had the privilege of meeting people in person and online. Many readers have gone through the trouble of contacting me through my website or through social media in order to share their thoughts about the novel. I cherish all of these contacts, and I’ve attempted to show this in this letter.

To the dear readers of Leave of Absence:

Many of you have thanked me for writing this novel. This touches me more deeply than I can possibly express. It is actually I who would like to thank you.

When you told me you experienced a deep emotional connection to Oliver and Penelope, my heart swelled. I love that you laughed at the sock puppet incident and at Penelope’s explanation of the Kerffies. I’m touched by your stories of the tears you shed out of empathy with Oliver’s and Penelope’s pain. Many of you, men and women alike, have gone out of your way to tell me how you personally identified with Oliver or Penelope and have shared some of your experiences with me. Although I don’t know you, I will never forget you; you will be forever a part of my heart. Thank you.

When you told me that Leave of Absence helped increase your understanding for schizophrenia or for depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, my heart soared. You come from different backgrounds and are different ages and genders, yet together you’ve let me know that you understand these illnesses better than you ever have before. Many of you emphasized that, further, you understand the human side of these illnesses more deeply after reading this novel. I’ll always cherish this feeling that you gave me, the feeling like maybe Leave of Absence is a helpful novel. Thank you.

When you told me that this book grabbed you and you were compelled to keep reading and reading, my heart leapt for joy. I’m so happy that you kept wondering “what if…” as you read. Imagine how wonderful I felt when you told me that during a long power outage, you grabbed a flashlight and kept reading about Oliver and Penelope. To those of you who told me you read straight through and skipped chores or went to bed later than usual, I do apologize. However, I’m glad that you enjoyed Leave of Absence enough to do that. Some of you told me that you don’t usually read novels, because you don’t have the time or the patience or the connection to things you’ve tried to read, but you gave my novel a try and you loved it and couldn’t put it down. For being so engaged with my characters and their story, thank you.

When you told me that you are still carrying Oliver and Penelope and others with you months after having finished it, my heart somersaulted. How thrilled it makes me to know that you remember scenes from the book and feel the emotion or that you encounter something that reminds you of something in the story. For keeping Oliver and Penelope alive with you, thank you.

I write for empathy and understanding and connection. I always hoped that my characters and real people would connect with each other. I of course connected with my characters, but then I forgot about myself. In reaching out to share with me your feelings and experiences with Leave of Absence I realized that I get to be a part of this connection, too. For reading my work, for connecting with it, and for connecting with me, I cannot thank you enough.



Saturday, 15 March 2014

HUG A BOOK with Pauline Barclay

Hug A Book is sponsored by

It’s HUG A BOOK and this weekend it’s with Pauline Barclay


You could win a Kindle copy of
Storm Clouds Gathering

Meet Pauline

I am a Yorkshire lass, but have lived in several different locations including over the years; Suffolk, Surrey and Holland.  Today, I live on the beautiful volcanic island of Lanzarote with my husband and our two gorgeous rescue doggies.

Years ago I gained a BA (Hons) degree from the Open University, today I spend my time writing fiction. I have four books published, plus a 20 minute short festive story. I am busy working on book 5 which is scheduled to be published in 2014.

My passion is to write about events that happen in life and change everything for those involved as well as those caught up in the maelstrom. I want my characters to sit at your side, steal your attention and sweep you up in their story. Stories that will bring tears to your eyes, have you laughing out loud and sometimes, what they share with you, will stay  in your hearts for a very long time.

Details of Storm Clouds Gathering

Storm clouds are gathering, silently and slowly, too far away to worry about. Or so it seems. But ignoring what is brewing will have dire consequences for the people caught up in the maelstrom.

Shirley Burton is too busy cheating on her husband, having a laugh and looking for fun to alleviate the boredom of her childless marriage. Kathleen Mitchell is too wrapped up in running around after her beautiful family to worry about her health. Anne Simpson has two things on her mind: her forthcoming marriage to Paul Betham, who seems to want to control her, and her career, which she does not want to give up.

Can Shirley really expect to deceive her husband and get away with it? Can Kathleen hold it all together, and is Anne able to have the best of everything?

Storm Clouds Gathering is a story of human emotion, passion and heart-rending grief. Set against the backdrop of the mid-sixties, these three families will be tested to the limit as betrayal, loss and love threaten to change their lives forever.

Available for Kindle & paperback


Chapter ONE

Shirley Burton and Kathleen Mitchell crossed the cobbled stone yard with the rest of the shift workers. The bitter cold morning made their step hurried and their breath steam as they headed for the Mill, a three-storey building, its bricks blackened with soot, smoke belching out from the massive chimney on its left-hand end. Shivering, Kathleen glanced at the thin layer of ice floating on top of the millpond that ran the length of the yard. So far as she could see, Spring was not so much around the corner as out of sight.
 ‘Morning ladies,’ the Overlooker called, leaning on the jamb of the spinning shed door, a cigarette stuck to his lips, his hands stuffed in the pockets of his brown coat. Tall, dark and ruggedly handsome, Billy Smith at twenty-eight had still not succumbed to marriage. His reputation for enjoying the ladies was well known around the millworkers. Despite the dangling cigarette he managed a cheeky smile as he watched the women march towards the clocking-in shed, their chattering voices filling the yard and creating a merry atmosphere in the grey, frosty surroundings. Raising his head and pursing his lips Billy exhaled a mouthful of smoke letting it plume into the frigid air. Nipping the end of his cigarette he dropped the tab end into the breast pocket of his coat, frowning as he caught sight of the women’s curlers. Thankfully, most were concealed by headscarves, but two always seemed to peep out at the front. Smirking, he called out, ‘Must be Friday I see,’ and gave a loud wolf-whistle, rubbing his nicotine-stained fingers together to remove bits of tobacco.
‘Not much gets past you Billy boy, does it?’ Shirley Burton called back and at the same time patted her headscarf where curlers were neatly rolled in her hair. ‘If I’m lucky tonight, it just might be the last time you’ll have a chance to squint at me dressed to kill,’ she scoffed, then nudging, Kathleen, ‘he’s a cheeky bugger and a dirty one too.’
‘Well you should know,’ Kathleen remarked sourly. She knew Shirley and Billy had been having an affair for the last three months.
Shirley snorted and linking her arm with Kathleen’s, walked into the small and draughty lean-to clocking-in shed.
Rigid with disapproval Kathleen reached for the “Out Rack”, pulled out her card and dipped it into the heavy grey machine, listening for the deep clunking sound as it stamped the time. ‘I take it you’re coming with us tonight then?’ She retrieved her card and stepped forward to push it into the “In Rack”. Turning back she looked to see how many cards were left in the “Out Rack” and scanned the names, satisfied she did not have to clock-in one of her mates. ‘So are you? You’ve not answered my question.’
Shirley sidled towards her. ‘Give over Kath. You know the score, but I’ll try and stop by before the game begins, you know me.’
 ‘That’s the point Shirley, I do know you and believe you me you are playing a very dangerous game.’
‘Just cover for me and no one will be any the wiser. No one’s going to get hurt.’
Kathleen shook her head, her tone registering her disapproval. ‘Well don’t come running to me when it all gets nasty and your Jimmy throws you out.’
‘I’m just having a bit of fun, Kathleen.’ Stepping back to the entrance, Shirley gave a little wave to Billy Smith, who was still propped against the door.
‘What are you playing at?’ Kathleen hissed, her voice thick with concern as they nudged their way through to the cloakroom. ‘You know as well as I do there’s no good in that Billy, he’s only interested in one thing and he’ll hurt you in the end.’ Tucking a strand of loose hair under the hairnet hidden beneath her turban, Kathleen saw a sly smile cross Shirley’s face and wondered what had happened to her friend that she was behaving like a common trollop.  As fond of Shirley as she was – they went back a long way – this carry on with the Overlooker was ridiculous. Shirley and Jimmy had problems, but she had not expected her friend to turn to someone like the lecherous Billy Smith, who was neither married nor interested in anything more than getting his leg over, ruining other people’s relationships in the process.
Shrugging out of her coat, Shirley answered, ‘Having some fun Kathleen, and it’s time you thought about it too. That Joe of yours is a good man, but when did he last take you out and make you feel special? Like most women of our age, I bet you’ll not even be able to remember.’
Kathleen winced, but she had no intention of having a row with Shirley so did not retaliate. Instead she repeated, ‘Like I said, he’ll hurt you. And what about Jimmy? As for me, I’ve my Joe and my kids and I’m happy enough with my lot.’
‘Billy Smith won’t hurt me, it’ll more likely be the other way round, but before I’m past me prime I’m going to have a bit of fun. Anyway, these days Jimmy’s only interested in his tea being on the table when he gets home and a bit of how’s yer father on a Saturday night. I don’t care what anyone says, we’re all too young to be sitting in front of the fire every night smoking a fag and wishing. I’m thirty-two not bloody sixty-two. I’ve done with years of wishing. Now I’m doing.’
Shaking her head, Kathleen knew better than to say any more. If Shirley wanted to play with fire by having a fling with Billy Smith then why should she care? She had enough of her own troubles. Leaving the cloakroom, she said ‘Come on Shirley, the wool won’t spin itself, unfortunately.’
Stepping through the heavy, green sliding door, the noise of the clattering machinery assailed their ears. The ever-present mist of fluff hung in the air and Kathleen sneezed as it tickled her nose, she could already feel the fine fibres lodging in her throat. Thank God she only worked the morning shift. Tightening the belt on her pinnie she pulled her sleeves down so her cardigan covered as much as possible of her arms. The fluff irritated her skin. Tapping Shirley on the shoulder, she mouthed, ‘I’ll see you later,’ and not waiting for a response hurried along the walkway towards her two looms, one on top of the other.
Stepping up to them, Kathleen checked that all the woollen threads ran smoothly and there was no slack or breaks in the yarn. She looked after ninety bobbins, forty-five on each loom. It took not only concentration to make sure the lines ran smoothly, but deftness in her fingers if a line broke. When this happened she tried not to panic, stopping the spinning bobbin where the thread had broken and at the same time speedily tying a knot to rejoin the wool. She knew that when a break occurred time was of the essence to get the bobbin spinning again. The last thing she wanted was to get her loom in a tangle, because it meant the Overlooker having to sort it out. This wasn’t too bad if it was the likes of Billy Smith. She didn’t like him much, but he was fair at sorting out any mess that happened when she couldn’t make a repair fast enough herself. One or two of the other Overlookers were less easy going than Billy and once too often she had felt the sting of their barbed tongues.
Trying not to dwell on the irritating side of her job, Kathleen focussed her attention on scanning the bobbins, thankful it was Friday.

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