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Saturday, 31 May 2014

HUG A BOOK with Firewalls


Hug A Book is sponsored by






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

And

Firewalls



Meet Eileen



Eileen Schuh has published three novels in her young adult BackTracker series, THE TRAZ, FATAL ERROR and FIREWALLS. THE TRAZ is also available in a School Edition. As well, she has as an adult Science Fiction novella to her credit (SCHRÖDINGER'S CAT) and is planning the summer 2014 release of her second SciFi, DISPASSIONATE LIES.

Schuh, born Eileen Fairbrother in Tofield, Alberta lives in Canada’s northern boreal forests and draws her inspiration from the wilderness, her grandchildren, family, and friends, and her adopted community of St. Paul, Alberta.


Details of Firewalls



While working with the Alberta Police force, young Constable Katrina Randal has become a master at breaking through computer security in her pursuit of cybercrime but when the criminals behind the firewalls turn out to be villains from her past, her job takes on a much more dangerous tone.

Obsessed with haunting memories and wracked by emotions she can’t name, her nightmarish ordeal turns uglier as she ignores orders and takes to the street to lure the criminals from the shadows of cyberspace to face justice.

It’s not until her career is in shambles that she realizes that neither her war against crime nor her struggle with Post Traumatic Stress are battles she can win alone. However, the walls she’s built to protect her heart from pain and betrayal, don’t tumble easily. As she slides deeper into the darkness, she fears she’s waited too long to trust and love; her criminal associates from the past are stealing her future and Corporal Chad Leslie, who she’s loved since the beginning of time, is mere steps away from walking out of her life forever.



Available in paperback and popular eBook formats from all fine online book sellers. If it is not on the shelf of your local library or bookstore you can ask to have it ordered in for you.



Excerpt



CHAPTER 1


"Sergeant Kindle wants us in his office," Syd said. The tension inside her coiled tighter. She glued her eyes to her computer monitor and slipped the black Jack onto the red Queen. Syd’s announcement ended her doubt; she was just moments away from losing her job. “Katrina?”
Concentrating intently on the game, she planned every move to the finish, touched her fingers to the mouse and rapidly clicked across the screen. As the fifty-two e-cards fluttered into place she leaned back and sighed. “Just take Sergeant Kindle a message. Tell him I quit.”
“This isn’t about your job. It’s about James’ new book.”
As if that news is any better. She slouched into her steno chair and nervously ran her eyes around the room. A serpentine row of a dozen desks curved toward the wall of windows. It stopped well short of the squares of morning light brightening the floor tiles because, Katrina surmised, computer geeks had evolved in dark basements and preferred not to bask in sunshine.
There were only a few police officers at their work stations, studying their monitors with fake intensity. Katrina was sure that they were all listening. Listening, speculating and inwardly mocking her—the tiny blue-eyed rookie who was mere minutes away from being booted from the force. “James is an idiot,” Katrina muttered. James’ book, her job, yesterday’s ethics session—it was all related and today she was taking a tumble.
A fellow officer folded his hands on his lap and gawked across at her. Katrina returned his stare, not blinking until he dropped his eyes back to his keyboard.
She was feeling as empty as the grey metal filing cabinets squatting between the workstations in the room. The cabinets were empty because computer people don’t store information in non-digital form. She was empty because death had stolen those she loved, and now Sergeant Kindle was set to steal her dreams.
They can’t fire me. They need me. Although she’d been here only a few weeks, she knew everything there was to know about the Computer Crimes Department and about the aging, pre-internet-era bosses who were trying to run it. She was aware of the dozen meetings addressing the lack of paperwork in the cabinets and the two dozen increasingly irate memos regarding the Computer Centre’s rampant and persistent disregard of the uniform dress code. Katrina and her fellow officers took it all in stride, well aware that even in a police detachment their specialized knowledge out-powered seniority. However, she could think of nothing that would give her power over Rusty James, ex-cop-turned-literary-bestseller.
When James had been Syd’s undercover partner on the streets of Calgary and she’d been a wayward juvenile, she’d tangled with him more than once. He was an idiot as well as a moron but today he held a pen. How the hell can I fight that?
“Well?” Syd asked. “Are you coming?”
“Is this book James’ millennium project?”
“The millennium was last year.”
“No it wasn’t! 2000 was the last year of the second millennium. We now start the third. It’s not a difficult concept.”
“Is it a difficult concept that Sergeant Kindle wants you in his office?”
“It’s a difficult concept that Kindle fears the lies James has written.”
“Don’t dismiss James so easily; he has believers this time around.”
“Why would anyone believe him?”
“I guess,” Syd said so quietly Katrina had to strain to hear, “the truth has a way of rising to the top.”
The truth? Is James gutsy enough to put the truth in print? When Rusty James promised the media his first book would reveal the identity of the Crown’s tiny blue-eyed child witness who’d brought down The Traz biker gang, the elite at police headquarters and a pack of high-priced tax-payer-paid lawyers led the fight against him, forced him to revise his book, and then legally changed her name from Katrina Buckhold to Felicity Randal. Although, all paperwork including her driver’s licence and personnel file carried her new legal name, to her friends and co-workers, she insisted on being Katrina. The bikers had stolen so much from her, she just couldn’t let them also take the name her father had given her.
“It’s never going to end, is it?” Katrina said, exiting the solitaire game and staring up at Syd. There was no sympathy on his face, just accusation. “Don’t give me that look! You’re the dirty one here. James’ story is your story, your dirty little story.”
“If nothing else,” Syd replied, “I was hoping you’d learned in yesterday’s session to accept responsibility. Obviously, that didn’t happen.”
“Whoa, buddy!” Katrina slowly rose. At only five feet tall, it was a long way up to meet Syd’s green eyes. “Seems to me, this whole thing is boiling down to what you have never taken responsibility for.”
The young officer gave a quick nod. “Perhaps.”
“More than perhaps.” As Katrina stepped toward him, he backed away and nervously ran his fingers through his straw-coloured crew cut, obviously fighting a blush that was threatening to drown his freckles.
“Maybe it won’t end until we all come clean.”
We all come clean? Excuse me, Syd. We?”
“You’re not an innocent victim.”
“Was it up to you to supply the evidence of that fact? None of this would’ve happened if you hadn’t brought your damned King’s Ace surveillance photos up here to Sergeant Kindle. Where were you when the brains were passed out?” The photos had tarnished her reputation and nearly lost the Crown all two hundred-plus biker convictions. ‘Concealing evidence,’ the defence has said. But the worst part was the pictures had revealed she was a friend of the murder victim.
She jabbed her finger at her temple. “How stupid are you? How the hell did you make it through training depot? It doesn’t take a genius to realize which photos you should’ve deleted!”
“I couldn’t delete those photos! They were evidence in another investigation. Besides, you can’t seriously believe that you’d get away with testifying as an eyewitness at a murder trial and omitting the fact you were the victim’s friend.”
Victim... She shivered, remembering that cold, dark, October night in a metal shed on the Alberta prairie. Although Lukas was the only one lying lifeless when the sun rose over that Quonset, there’d been many victims in other ways...and much blame. When the media, the brass, and the entire nation began laying that blame on Shrug’s shoulders, she’d covertly stepped in.
Shrug may have wrongly recruited her into the gang to assist with the police sting, but he’d also saved her life, several times over. She owed him. Besides, at the time of his disciplinary hearing, she’d needed some good words to support her application to police training. It was then she’d asked Syd to leak some of his surveillance photos showing her trading crack for dollars or tossing back some Ecstasy—just a little something to prove that although Shrug may have involved a minor, it wasn’t an angelic, grief-torn orphan he’d invited onto the backseat of his Harley. Syd was not supposed to have shown Kindle pictures of her cavorting with Lukas, a friendship that could have remained secret to this day. Someone two desks over coughed—a stark reminder of many other dark secrets that must forever remain untold.
Katrina lowered her voice to a whisper. “No one needed to know Lukas was my friend. Besides, I never lied; no one ever asked if I knew him before he was murdered. Not even the defendants’ legal team and they could’ve—their clients knew.”
“Obviously Gator didn’t want the jury to hear that it was your boyfriend and not some random druggie that he’d forced you to watch get sliced to pieces—it would’ve made him look even more evil.”
“That was Gator’s decision, not mine. How can you say it was my fault?” Katrina took another step toward Syd.
This time, he held his ground. “For the sake of justice, it was something the court should’ve heard. Blame whoever you want for your troubles, Katrina. I’m past the point of arguing and past the point of thinking your problems are my fault.”
“But—” She clamped her mouth shut. Considering my job’s at risk, I need allies, not more enemies. Syd would be a strong ally; he was open and honest and respected by both those above him and below him. Plus, he still harboured remnants of guilt because of what had happened between them when she was a child on the street—he’d said as much in yesterday’s session.
“Rusty’s out to get me because I’m the reason he was fired.” She studied Syd’s reaction as she spoke. “He shouldn’t be allowed to do that.
“You weren’t the reason he was fired.”
“He used me to get information about the drug trade down at the King’s Ace.”
“So did I, and I’m not fired.”
“But he refused to admit he’d done anything wrong.”
“Exactly. So it’s his fault he got fired, not yours. It’s not always all about you.”
Katrina’s vision narrowed and her jaw tightened. “You’re right, it’s not about me; it’s about you! James would have had nothing more to write if you hadn’t….” She left it unsaid and locked her eyes on Syd’s. He shifted from one foot to another. A police radio crackled in the distance. A phone rang. “Or, do you believe that secret is somehow my fault, too?” The sun slipped behind a cloud and the room darkened.
Syd looked to his shoes and ran his toe along the grey grout hemming the worn tiles. The fluorescent fixture above them hissed and dimmed. “It’s going to be in James’ book,” Katrina continued. “I guarantee it. Rumour is he’s promoting a conspiracy theory. All the dirt will be there. He has nothing to lose by talking about it.”
Syd looked past her, over the humming monitors and clicking keyboards. Past the people straining to listen. He looked out the window. “Let’s not keep Sergeant Kindle waiting,” he finally said. “It’ll only make things worse.”



Eileen’s Links



There is an Kindle copy up for grabs if you would like to review this fantastic read.
Just leave a comment below so we can contact you

Thank you!

Thursday, 29 May 2014

A Taster - Satchfield Hall by Pauline Barclay



One mistake, two people in love and four decades before it would end, Satchfield Hall, a beautiful moving story of love and betrayal. Here is a taster for you….


Prologue

Celia stood alone in the shadows of the sweeping boughs of a willow tree. From her vantage point, she could clearly see the four people huddled together by the open grave, their heads bowed as they carried out the solemn ritual of bidding their last goodbyes. Despite it being no more than twenty yards from where she watched, the gathered mourners could not see her. She need take only a few steps forward to be visible to them, but Celia had no desire whatsoever to be seen.

Unlike the small party, she was not dressed in sombre clothing, nor was she weeping. For her, it was not a day to mourn; she had done that years earlier. Wept at the loss of the man she once believed had cared for her.  He had, but not in the way she had hoped. Like everything in Henry Bryant-Smythe’s life, he had viewed her as an asset, an investment, and when she had deprived him of what he believed was his insurance with a healthy dividend, he had made her pay, The price had been high; very high.

Celia shuddered. Her reason for standing silently in the cover of the willow was to witness the end of his life on this earth. She had waited for more years than she could count to see this day. She had heard it said that only the good die young: well here was evidence indeed that the evil stay on this earth for a very long time. He had celebrated his thirtieth birthday not long before she was born and she was a grandmother twice over now. You did not need to be a mathematician to work out that he had lived for many more years than his allotted three score years and ten, she mused, her lips curving in a wry smile that as quickly disappeared.

‘Justice!’ Celia hissed, almost screaming out the word, until she remembered where she was. But there was no justice, she thought with bitterness. Nothing could bring back what he had stolen from her. Even when he knew he was dying he had not uttered her name, nor repented. In the end nothing had changed. Instead, in a voice thick with loathing, he had told her his reasons for what he had done, confirming for Celia that he had no regrets for the pain and suffering he had caused. She recalled he had smiled at her, a sardonic smile that changed his face from haughty to malicious. Even his eyes had sparkled with malevolence, boring into her like laser beams.

‘I just want you to know,’ he had snapped, his voice like the crack of a whip that had cut just as deep, ‘that because of your behaviour, I lost everything. You, with no sense of morality or filial duty, despite your lavish upbringing, were the catalyst for all that happened. You should be begging my forgiveness.’ Celia remembered that in the corners of his mouth spittle had foamed as his anger mounted, his lips tightening with his deep resentment. ‘But don’t ever bother to ask for it,’ he had added, ‘because I will never give it. Now get out of my sight.’

Despite her mature years, his presence and tone had sent a shiver of fear down her spine and she had felt like a child again. Now, standing in the shadows of the willow tree, even though she knew his life was over, Celia could still feel his presence. To her horror, she realised that despite all that had happened, even in death her father still had the ability to chill her blood. Even knowing he was gone, she could not remove the hatred she had in her heart for him. It had been there for so long it was like another organ. It was part of her. It had shaped her life and the lives of all of those around her.

Her father: Henry Bryant-Smythe, the Squire of Satchfield Hall, powerful and evil, had destroyed so many and so much and had ultimately destroyed himself. Only now, as the words he had spoken echoed through the passage of time, did Celia feel a kind of pity: pity that defied all logic; the fear, the pain and suffering. She knew the words he had snapped at her as he lay dying meant that to himself, he had rewritten the past and in his own deluded mind had seen himself as the victim.
Her mother, who had suffered at his hands, had gone to an early grave. Had she only had the fortitude to stand up to the man who had taken her as his bride when she was barely sixteen, then maybe all their lives might have been different and so much pain avoided. But somehow Celia did not think so: despite Muriel Bryant-Smythe’s great beauty, she had been powerless against the depredation of her iniquitous husband.

Now, wondering idly who the mourners were and having witnessed all that was necessary, Celia made to leave. Silently thanking God that it was over, she turned her back on the scene being enacted in the graveyard, but as she stepped away from her hiding place she felt a hand touch her arm. It took all of her will power not to cry out. Heart thumping, she swung round, joy and relief flooding her veins as she saw who it was.
‘Jack! You startled me,’ she gasped, smiling up at him and asking in a loud whisper, ‘What are you doing here?’
‘It looks to me, much the same as you, making sure he really has gone.’
Celia nodded, ‘I’m so pleased to see you,’ she said, linking her arm with his and wondering why she should be so startled when she’d had a feeling Jack would turn up today.
Arm in arm they walked through the concealed exit of the memorial gardens, the same one she had entered by earlier. Neither of them looked back. No doubt, thought Celia, her father was spinning somewhere between Hell and Heaven. She knew Heaven would have difficulty in taking him; there had never been an ounce of good in him. Even Hell might sniff at accepting him! Wherever he was, he would not be pleased with what in the end had been achieved. He had believed he was all powerful and had used his power to destroy and crush. It had taken the Second World War and a country desperate to rebuild and recover from its wounds, before the power he wielded was weakened and eventually removed. Yet despite being stripped of what he valued most: status, power, reputation and above all wealth, he continued to haunt those he had sought to destroy.
As Celia and Jack walked the few steps that took them to her car, she smiled, thinking that at last the chapter was closed. Her step was lighter: she was a woman who had come through it all; she had succeeded in the end, and looking up at the tall, handsome man at her side, Celia knew that despite everything, she had been blessed.
Her driver, Tony, was waiting for them in the lane. As they appeared through the thick hedge that concealed the little gate into the cemetery, he smiled and opened the rear passenger door. ‘Are you ok?’ he asked.
Unperturbed by his familiarity, Celia returned his smile, for whilst she was his employer and had been for more years than she cared to remember, he was also her friend. ‘Thank you, Tony. Never better,’ Celia stepped into the rear of the car and made herself comfortable.
Tony shook Jack’s hand, ‘Delighted to see you, Jack, and no doubt Celia is too. Today is a big day for her.’
Jack nodded, ‘For us both,’ he murmured, patting Tony’s shoulder before climbing into in the car.
Once Celia’s seat belt was locked into its snap, she rested her head on the headrest and closing her eyes, breathed a sigh of relief. At the same time, a tear trickled down her cheek. Even though it was over, the images sprang to life in her mind: the voices and even the smell of fear were about to consume her again. Feeling the tight squeeze of Jack’s hand she pushed the memories away and
looked up into his handsome face. No matter how many times she gazed at him, it would never be enough. She counted her blessings every single day. He was the image of his father; thank God there was not a trace of his grandfather in him.
As if reading her mind, Jack squeezed her hand again and smiled down at her.
‘No regrets?’ she asked him.
‘Millions, but none anyone can change.’
Celia knew what he was referring to and he was right. If they were to list their regrets then the list would be long enough to strangle them both. She smiled at him and then laughed out loud, the memories, which only moments ago had been about to consume her, evaporating in the warmth of  his smile.
‘Everything ok in the back,’ called Tony, looking in the rear view mirror at the sound of Celia’s laughter.
She smiled at the face reflected in the mirror, ‘Nothing could be more ok, Tony. I’ve waited a long time for this day and I intend to savour it, even if it means spontaneously breaking into maniacal laughter for no apparent reason!’
He chuckled, ‘I’m glad to hear it. In your shoes I’d feel exactly the same. And if you don’t mind me saying so, you deserve to laugh after all you’ve been through because of him.’
Approaching the T-junction at the brow of the hill, Tony slowed the car at the give-way sign before turning off to the left. As he skilfully manoeuvred the big car into the lane, Celia remembered that the road sign had not been there all those years ago when she had been driven away from Satchfield Hall. Once again, despite her exuberance, the memory slipped unbidden into her mind. She saw herself as a young woman – not much more than a girl - hunched in the back of the car and felt again the despair and misery of that day.
‘Stop it,’ she told herself, ‘it’s over!’ But her mind continued to replay those dreadful scenes and tears again welled in her eyes. She had never stopped wondering how one person could create so much pain and suffering in so many people’s lives. She should be feeling some inner peace now, after all, in the end she’d had the last word, but she did not hear that. Instead, all she could hear was her father’s voice as it thundered through Satchfield Hall all those years before.






Satchfield Hall is available in Kindle and Paperback



Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Eileen Schuh - In the Spotlight



Meet Canadian Author, Eileen Schuh


Eileen Schuh has published three novels in her young adult BackTracker series, THE TRAZ, FATAL ERROR and FIREWALLS. THE TRAZ is also available in a School Edition. As well, she has as an adult Science Fiction novella to her credit (SCHRÖDINGER'S CAT) and is planning the summer 2014 release of her second SciFi, DISPASSIONATE LIES.



In THE TRAZ, grieving and alone, thirteen-year-old Katrina Buckhold, experiences depression, illicit drugs, gangs and betrayal as she struggles to find somewhere to belong. In FATAL ERROR, she faces the social, legal and emotional consequences of her year in The Traz biker gang.



Katrina enters adulthood in FIREWALLS,  scarred but determined. Despite her deepest desires, her intelligence and her spunk, she eventually realizes that in order to seize her future, she must deal with her Post Traumatic Stress. However, that turns out to be a very difficult task.



Having written the BackTracker novels to inspire teens and the adults in their lives, Schuh is pleased to have been invited to present her books to children in venues such as the North Slave Young Offenders Facility, the St. Paul Alternate Education Centre, and schools and libraries throughout North Eastern Alberta.



Although Schuh’s SciFis are written for adults, they also integrate the psychological drama that pervades her YA novels. SCHRÖDINGER'S CAT, with its tangled relationships, weaves intense emotion into the science of multi-universes. Two worlds, two lives—too much for one woman.

Her soon-to-be-released near-future tale DISPASSIONATE LIES explores female sexual against a backdrop of high-tech science, governmental and pharmaceutical conspiracies, espionage, and perhaps even murder.


Schuh, born Eileen Fairbrother in Tofield, Alberta lives in Canada’s northern boreal forests and draws her inspiration from the wilderness, her grandchildren, family, and friends, and her adopted community of St. Paul, Alberta.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Dare You Read This Taster?


The Death Game by Chris Longmuir, dare you sit down to read this taster?




Kirsty sat on the grass at the top of the Law Hill, hugging her knees and shivering in the chill wind. Dundee lay before her with its smoking factory chimneys, tenements, and fancy houses. A distant train, belching smoke and sparks, chugged across the Tay Bridge, and further down the river the Fifie ferry boat was coming in to dock.
Her feet ached from tramping the streets, but she had not wanted to take a tram or a cab, she had wanted to familiarize herself with Dundee again before she started work. She had wanted to get a feel of the place, rub shoulders with the people and savour the sights and smells.
The walk up the Law Hill had been longer than she remembered, but now she was here she reflected on how little Dundee had changed in the ten years she had been away.
The shops were the same, the streets were the same, even the people had not changed. She wondered if the same could be said of her family. The urge to find out was strong but combined with that was a resistance. She found it difficult to admit to the fear that had tormented her over the years. Fear they might reject her in the same way she rejected them ten years ago.
It was no more than she deserved.
Sighing, she struggled to her feet, brushed loose grass from her coat and started to walk downhill to Dundee.
Tomorrow was going to be a big day, and she wanted to be at her best for the interview with the assistant chief constable.

Chris Longmuir

The Death game is available from:

Website:

Monday, 26 May 2014

Nervous About Meeting the World!


"SOON TO BE RELEASED: A BOOK WHOSE CHARACTER IS AFRAID OF COMING INTO THE WORLD." Tanya J Peterson, author of Leave of Absence reveals more about her new book, My Life in a Nutshell.

In less than two weeks—June 1, 2014, to be exact—my newest novel will be released into the world. It’s an exciting time, and it’s a nerve-wracking one, too. As anxious as I am about it, Brian Cunningham is even more so.

My Life in a Nutshell: A Novel is Brian’s story. Brian is fictitious, but he represents the millions and millions of people worldwide who live with various anxiety disorders. Brian worries about almost everything (generalized anxiety disorder), including what other people think of him (social anxiety disorder). His social phobia is so extreme that he avoids almost all human interaction. No wonder he’s nervous about meeting the world!

My Life in a Nutshell is the story of two people who don’t quite know how to live in the world—the man, Brian, because of debilitating anxiety, the young girl, Abigail, because of instability and abuse—and their journey to learn from each other.




Brain has met a little bit of the world already, actually. For the last eight weeks, My Life in a Nutshell has been in the advance reading stage and has been out for professional reviews. Brian is modest so would never want to bombard anyone with too many comments at once, but I talked him into allowing me to share a few here and there. Here is a sampling of what a few of the early reviewers are saying:

·       My Life in a Nutshell is riveting, gripping, and quite exceptional as it takes us on an extra-ordinarily emotional journey. Quite a remarkable read! —Ije Kanu, Literary Fiction Editor, BellaOnline.com

·       Peterson's writing is sensitive and engaging. As readers become invested in the outcome of her memorable characters, hopefully the ultimate triumph will be in helping to lessen the stigma that often surrounds such psychological disorders. Written from a very clear and well-informed perspective, Peterson should be lauded for navigating the field of mental illness and presenting important relative issues in an affable fiction manner. It is a truly fine work that entertains, as well as informs.  —Carol Davala with the US Review of Books; RECOMMENDED by the USR



·       In her latest effort, she plays to her strengths…constructing complex psychological portraits and realistic plotlines. In doing so, she accurately captures the crushing sensations of anxiety disorder[s] while simultaneously offering rays of hope. A vital tool for sufferers and their families that broadens understanding of a debilitating illness.  —Kirkus Reviews 

Brian may be worried sick to meet you, but he’s also ready to share his story.




Saturday, 24 May 2014

HUG A BOOK with Forever Fredless


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!



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Thursday, 22 May 2014

The Death Game - Your Chilling Teaser!


Sit down and enjoy this chilling taster from Chris Longmuir's The Death Game

Friday, 31 October 1919
She presses herself into the wall when she hears the scrape of the key in the lock. Which one will it be? And which game will she have to play.
So many men. So many games. She does not want to play their games, but she has to. She has to show them whatever they want. Fear. Sorrow. Anger. Gratitude. And above all she has to show them how much pleasure they give her.
The door opens, and light spills into the dark, windowless room. Her ankle chain clinks as she tries to push herself even further into the wall. The silhouetted shape moves towards her, and she clutches her arms around her body in an attempt to protect herself. All the time knowing she will have to do whatever he asks.
The shape reaches her and sits on the edge of her bed. He turns to face her, so his face is faintly illuminated.
‘Oh, it’s you.’ She sighs with relief.
‘Yes, child. I have come to take you away, but we must be quiet.’
‘I can’t go,’ she says.
‘Why not?’
‘Because if I go they will make Cissy take my place.’
‘I have arranged for Cissy to come as well. No one will be able to hurt her, and you will not have to do this anymore.’
‘Where will we go? We have nowhere but here.’
‘Trust me. I have it all arranged. You will both be safe and no one will be able to hurt you again.’
She feels the chain fall from her leg when he unlocks it. Standing up, she takes the hand held out to her.
She hesitates before walking through the door. ‘You are sure we will be safe?’ A trace of fear sounds in her voice. ‘They won’t be able to come after us and make me play the games again?’
‘Of course you will be safe. There is nothing for you to be afraid of. But we have to be quiet, and you have to be brave. Think of this as another game. The biggest game of all.’

Chris Longmuir

The Death game is available from:

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Wednesday, 21 May 2014

In the Spotlight - Gilli Allan



Meet Gilli Allan author of Torn, Life Class and Fly or Fall

Gilli Allan - I was born in Kent, in the UK. As a child I drew copiously, encouraged by the adults in my life who always told me I was good at art, but from around the age of ten, I also wrote. These two hobbies, particularly the writing, sustained me through my teenage years when the romance in the stories I conjured in my head was the only romance I experienced. Writing was only abandoned when I left home and real life took over from the fiction.


I did not go to Oxford or Cambridge. Instead, after leaving school at sixteen, with only 5 indifferent GCE passes, I went to Croydon Art College. (It may not have been one of the more prestigious schools of art, but Croydon fostered the disparate talents of some notable alumni, including Ray Davies, Malcolm McClaren and Mervyn Peake.)



I did not work on any of the broadsheets, in television or publishing, but did a variety of jobs - shop assistant, beauty-consultant and barmaid. I also had a job which consisted of picking up American tourists and sending them on a free sightseeing tour of London which culminated in lunch at the Hilton. The unsuspecting holidaymakers were then subjected to an intense sales-pitch, selling Florida real estate. I was no good at this ‘commission only’ job and, unsurprisingly, didn’t enjoy it.  I was very relieved when I eventually landed the job of my dreams, working as an illustrator with an advertising design studio. I eventually went free-lance.



I married and resumed writing while my son, Tom, was a toddler. My first ever completed novel, Just Before Dawn, was published less than 2 years after I finished the first draft. My second, Desires & Dreams, followed it onto the book shelves eight months later. But my publisher was new and it was small. It failed to achieve the required marketing push and wide distribution which would have given its authors - and itself - any real prospect of success. Though they were available in libraries, I never saw my novels in a book shop, other than in my own home town. The publisher ceased to trade after about five years.

My husband was head-hunted and I found myself living in Gloucestershire. Not only had I lost my support network of friends and family, I’d also lost my publisher, so I knuckled down and continued to write what I had always written, with the intention of finding a new publisher. But my books, which could be described as women’s contemporary relationship fiction, are unconventional, subversive and surprising. Though there is always a love story at their core, they never followed the current band-wagon (whatever it happened to be at the time), and they failed to spark any interest in publishers, or even literary agents. So, with the dawning of the new digital age, and specifically the birth of the Kindle, I decided to self-publish.

I have been a school governor, a contributor to local newspapers and was one of the initiators of the successful community shop in my village. Still a keen artist I regularly attend a weekly art class, design Christmas cards and have recently been commissioned to illustrate a children’s book - which tells the story of the Viking King, Harald Hardrada - to coincide with the Viking exhibition at the British Museum, in the spring of 2014.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Suffering and Triumph



Occasionally you read a book that stays with you long after you have read the last page, Leave of Absence is one of those books.

Tanya J Peterson, author of Leave of Absence, stopped by FFP HQ to talk about her first novel.

As a novel, Leave of Absence is, obviously, fiction. It’s fiction in that the characters aren’t based on real people, and their stories are completely made up. That said, the issues experienced and the nature of their struggles are very real indeed. Leave of Absence explores schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and grief. It explores human suffering and the triumphant power of human connection.

The novel is set primarily in a behavioral health center (the term “center” is starting to replace the use of the world “hospital” to describe in-patient psychiatric care). Airhaven Behavioral Health Center is where two of the main characters meet. One such character is a man named Oliver Graham.

Oliver, in his late thirties, loved his life. He was married to a woman he loved and adored, and, after years of unsuccessful attempts to have a child, he and his wife had a little boy. One warm, sunny spring day, Oliver’s wife and son were ripped from his life. He witnessed some of the horror of their deaths, and he can’t get the scene out of his mind. In Oliver’s mind, his life ended that day, too, and all he wants, other than having his family back, is to die.

Through Oliver, readers see and feel post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and complicated mourning. Oliver also shows us what can lead to healing. This scene from early in the novel, when Oliver is in the process of admittance into Airhaven, gives a tiny glimpse into Oliver’s struggles:

“I decided that I would like to leave.  Thanks anyway, but I would rather not be here.  May I please go?”
Matt responded first.  “Oh.  Okay.  That’s fine, of course.”
Yes!
“I’m curious, though.  Where would you rather be?”
The way Matt worded the question threw him off guard.  He would never, ever be where he would rather be.  They were gone forever.  The thought zapped the bit of energy he had summoned to escape.  A wave of pain washed over him, leaving him even weaker than before.  He leaned against the wall for support and squeezed his eyes shut.  He just wanted to complete what he had failed at earlier today.
“You seem to be struggling with that question.  Why?  What’s going on?” Matt continued to press him.
“Just let me go.  Please.  I was supposed to die today, not come here.  Please, just let me go,” Oliver mumbled. 
Jennifer chimed in.  “Maybe you weren’t supposed to die today.  Maybe you were supposed to live.”
“Why do people keep saying that?  You have no idea! You don’t understand…”  Oliver’s voice cracked.  Unable to support himself any longer, he slid down the wall until he sat on the floor.   He pulled his legs up, wrapped his arms around them, and laid his forehead on his knees. 
Matt and Jennifer sat down beside him.  Matt spoke.  “You’re absolutely right.  We don’t understand.  But that’s what we’re here for.  We want to listen.  We want to understand.  And, most importantly, we want to help you understand.  Why don’t you stay with us for a while?  Just give it a little try.”
Oliver had no energy left to argue.  Without looking up, he simply shrugged in defeat.

Oliver Graham is fictitious. But Airhaven is based on a real-life behavioral health center. And his yearning for love is very real indeed. It’s a core component of the human experience. Oliver needs human connection just like we do. And Leave of Absence explores the power of this very connection.

More about Leave of Absence and Tanya J Peterson at http://tanyajpeterson.com/