Day #2 of the #ThisLittleDarkPlace #blogtour – author A.S.Hatch (@andrewshatch) gets interrogated by #TWG! @serpentstail

Thank you so much to SerpentsTail for inviting me to take part in the blog tour for ‘This Little Dark Place’ by A.S.Hatch. For my stop on the tour today, I have been given the opportunity to interrogate.. ahem, interview A.S.Hatch. Before you get yourself comfortable, here is a little bit more about the book, as well as the all important purchase link. Enjoy!

How well do you know your girlfriend?

How well do you know your lover?

How well do you know yourself?

Daniel and Victoria are together. They’re trying for a baby. Ruby is in prison, convicted of assault on an abusive partner.

But when Daniel joins a pen pal program for prisoners, he and Ruby make contact. At first the messages are polite, neutral – but soon they find themselves revealing more and more about themselves. Their deepest fears, their darkest desires.

And then, one day, Ruby comes to find Daniel. And now he must decide who to choose – and who to trust.

This Little Dark Place will be published on the 10th October and can be pre-ordered now from Amazon.

TWG talks to author A.S.Hatch.

TWG – Could you tell us a bit about you and your background before you began writing?

I grew up on the Fylde coast in Lancashire. My dad was a joiner and my mum was a civil servant. We weren’t a bookish family. I spent my childhood playing football and rollerblading in the street, and playing on my SNES (and later my N64). The first book I ever read was a collection of football themed short stories called See You at the Match by Margaret Joy. I remember falling in love with books before I fell in love with the stuff inside them, as in, the physical objects themselves. There was a book fair at my primary school one year. They transformed our assembly hall into a pop-up book shop (before pop-up shops were a thing) and I remember loving the smell of them, and the feel of their glossy covers and their heft. I bought Don’t Be Silly Mr Twiddle by Enid Blyton and didn’t read it for weeks. I just held it, looked at it.

TWG – Have you always wanted to become a published writer?

God no. I wanted to play right wing for United (don’t ask which United, there’s only one). And after that I wanted to be a newsreader. After that I wanted to be a frontman in a rock and roll band. After that I wanted to be a published writer. That particular epiphany arrived when I was 19 and so I’ve been trying to make it happen ever since. And here I am.

(TWG – from newsreader to frontman of a rock and roll band! You would have been good on Blue Peter!)

TWG – What made you decide to write your new novel?

Writing is a way of facing one’s fears. When you write a story, create a world, an alternate reality, you gain power over everything. You can obliterate things that scare you. I’m terrified of ending up in prison. I don’t have a criminal bone in my body, the fear is irrational, but it’s there. This novel enabled me to ‘tackle’ prison, sort of like when someone who’s afraid of snakes holds one in her hands to overcome her aversion. Beyond that, I’ve always been interested in writing an epistolary novel. I love the immediacy of the first-person voice. It provides a shortcut to emotion.

TWG – How hard was it to find the inspiration for your book?

I’m inspired by setting as much as plot. Like a dramatist, I think about the space in which a story can take place in, how to use it, how to maximise it for tension. So it wasn’t hard at all to find the inspiration for the book. Once I had the central relationships sketched out I simply pictured the streets, houses, beaches and woods of my childhood and allowed my mind to be carried through them. Then the plot just kind of revealed itself to me. This Little Dark Place could be talking about the central relationship or it could be talking about the literal place in which the story unfolds. Or it could be talking about a place in someone’s mind.

TWG – If you could pick a favourite character from your novel, who would it be and why?

That’s Easy. Ruby. She is the star of the book. The catalyst, the spur. Female characters, to me, are just far more interesting. In life too. Inscrutable is a better word. Perhaps that’s just because I’m a man. Do female authors feel the opposite? I’d wager not. The best people I know are all women. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

TWG – Did you ever regret writing a character into your story after it was published?

This is my debut novel so not yet. There aren’t any characters in This Little Dark Place that I’d like to go back and change. There aren’t any purely good or purely bad characters in any of my novels, because such people don’t exist in real life. Each character in TLDP is uniquely fallible. I’ve tried to make at least something about each of them – about their defects – relatable. I think everyone will find at least one character in the book that will make them reflect; that’s me!

TWG – Did you find yourself under any personal pressure for your debut novel to succeed and be liked by many?

Only insofar as I would like it to not be my last, as I have a lot of stories to tell. When I set out on this journey my sole aim was to be regarded by someone in the industry as talented. When the amazing Eve White signed me to her agency in 2016 I received that vindication. Everything that has come since almost feels like a bonus.

TWG – Time for a tough one, if you could choose any book that has already been published to be the author of, which one would you choose and why?

I think you’re asking which book would I have like to have written? The answer to that is Infinite Jest by David Foster-Wallace. A near thousand page epic about addiction and the pressure of talent and family and post-modern life that’s as tight and muscular in its prose as a ten page short story. An astonishing achievement. It’s also terribly moving. If a book is all brains and no heart I ain’t buying it.

TWG – What does your ‘writing space’ look like?

I have a £65 desk from Argos with barely enough space for my laptop and a little lamp tucked in the corner of the living room of my little flat in south east London, which I share with my fiancé. It’s quite challenging trying to write when the hairdryer’s going of a morning let me tell you.

TWG – Were there any authors you wanted to be like, when you were a child?

When I was a child I read people like Dick King-Smith and Roald Dahl and they seemed like old men to me. The fact that the books about which I was so mad were written by people barely registered. I just wanted to be Ryan Giggs.

(TWG – didn’t we all!!)

TWG – If you had to sum up your book to a stranger in five words, what would they be and why?

Dark, twisty tale of betrayal.
Why? Because I’m no good at describing my own work and I’m fairly confident that the hundreds of people who have read advance copies would describe it kind of like this.

TWG – What’s coming up next for you? Any exclusives?

I’ve just finished writing the follow up (not a sequel) to TLDP. Eve has read it and loved it (what a relief!) and I think people who like TLDP will get a real kick out of my new one. Watch this space.

TWG – One final question. What advice would you give to a writer that wants to be published? Any words of wisdom?

A slight variation on don’t stop believing…don’t stop writing. Practice really is everything. I don’t believe in innate ability, I believe in practice, whittling your stake into a sharp point. I believe in being humble about your work, accepting that there are some incredibly smart people out there whose ideas are worth listening to. When (not if) you get a rejection, keep writing. And when that gets rejected too, keep writing. Learn to recognise your shortcomings as a writer, and move on. Don’t flog a dead horse.
That’s quite a lot isn’t it? Ha.

(TWG – anyone else now have Journey – Don’t Stop Believin’ in their head?!? Wise words though, Andrew, thank you!)

Many thanks to A.S.Hatch for stopping by and answering my questions! Don’t forget that his debut novel, ‘This Little Dark Place’ will be published on the 10th October by SerpentsTail. Preorder your copy now!

#BlogTour! #AuthorInterview with Carol Rivers, author of #ChristmasChild (@carol_rivers) @rararesources

Christmas Child Full Tour Banner
This afternoon I am delighted to be chatting to the author of ‘Christmas Child’, Carol Rivers. Before we get down to business, here is a little bit more about Carol’s book, as well as the all important ‘to buy’ links:

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Christmas Day, London 1880
Snow falls … a dying Irish girl clutching her new-born baby drags herself to the sanctuary of an East End orphanage and throws herself on the mercy of the Sisters of Clemency. The nuns raise little Ettie O’Reilly as their own and provide her with the love and education she might never have had. But the lives of the nuns and orphans are soon crushed by a powerful and greedy bishop.

The heart-breaking outcome separates Ettie from her friends and family, luring her into a world of male dominance and the fickle nature of intimate relationships. In her naivety, with her faith in the goodness of human nature severely tested, she doesn’t know who to trust. And when the boy who has promised his undying love and loyalty betrays her, Ettie’s world starts to crumble.

She must finally accept the hard-hitting truth – happiness comes at a cost! Does she have the courage and wisdom to face the demons she long ago learned about from the Sisters of Clemency? Will the resolution of an undiscovered and painful secret be her making – or breaking?

Buy now from Amazon UK
Buy now from Amazon US

About the author.

“Were there’s muck there’s money!” If my family had a royal crest I’m sure those are
the words that would have been hewn into the stone above it.
Mum and Dad were both East Enders who were born on the famous or should I say the then infamous Isle of Dogs. They were costermongers selling fruit, veg and anything else that would stand still long enough!

Their family were immigrants who travelled to the UK from Ireland and France, while others emigrated to America. As a child I would listen to the adults spinning their colourful stories, as my cousins and I drank pop under the table.

I know the seeds of all my stories come from those far off times that feel like only yesterday. So I would like to say a big heartfelt thank you to all my family and ancestors wherever you are now …UK, Ireland, France or America, as you’ve handed down to me the magic and love of story telling.

Carol’s Website

TWG sits down to talk to Carol Rivers….

 Have you always been a writer?
I think it’s safe to say I’ve always been a storyteller. It’s in the
genes! A huge cockney family, a tribe of East Enders, survivors
of the Blitz, evacuees, totters, costermongers, seamstresses,
dockers, factory workers, you name it – the stories were told! I
gradually transferred the family secrets to the writing, then to
technology and then to books.

 Have you been published for long?
I’m lucky enough to have been part of the traditional publishing
industry for many years. Hales, D.C. Thompson, Mills and
Boon, the lovely Magna who publish my books in audio and
large print and my current traditional publisher Simon &
Schuster. However, I’m now known as a hybrid author,
independently publishing in a brand new world on Amazon –
and loving it!

You say “the lovely Magna” – why is this?
I’ve been with Magna for well over a decade and have never
known them to produce less than the perfect product. Their
liaison with authors is second to none, the artwork and covers
exemplary. But above all, these wonderful publishers provide
books and audios for our precious libraries, the lifeblood of our
reading communities. The ailing or blind can listen to audio, the
short-sighted like me can read large print. What a joy!

What are your most memorable books?
Without doubt, Christmas to Come, my single ebook, and Lizzie
Flowers and the Family Firm. Two (as the late great Jackie
Collins would say) feisty heroines who kick ass! Though I qualify that by saying this year’s book CHRISTMAS CHILD has
blown me away. My first Victorian novel, a coming of age saga
that I have so enjoyed writing. I plan to take the heroine, Ettie
O’Reilly, into a series.

What made you decide to write in the Victorian era?
I wanted a fresh challenge and a new kind of leading character
and when Ettie O’Reilly made her presence known in a dream –
many writers will tell you a dream spurs them on – and I saw her
little figure almost lost on the streets of the East End, calling out
for life and love, that was it. I was off!

 Do you write a certain amount of words in a day and have
you a strict regime of writing?
I’m often asked this, but all I can say is, I begin writing by
reading a fav book, just a few minutes – Edwin Drood at the
moment and I’m lost in an opium den! Inspired, refreshed and
invigorated, I’m off into my own story. I couldn’t tell you how
much or how long I write – I don’t like rules and don’t stick to
them. But I always write a book in nine months and publish one
a year. Slow in comparison to some, but I get there.

Can you give a description of CHRISTMAS CHILD?
Indeed I can.
CHRISTMAS CHILD is my 2019 Victorian romance, a perfect
Dickensian saga for Christmas.
The story begins: Christmas Day, London 1880. Snow falls … a
dying Irish girl clutching her new-born baby drags herself to the
sanctuary of an East End orphanage and throws herself on the
mercy of the Sisters of Clemency. The nuns raise little Ettie
O’Reilly as their own, but the lives of the nuns and orphans are soon crushed by an unscrupulous bishop. The heart-breaking
outcome turns Ettie’s life upside down and Christmas will never
mean the same again.

So you’re back on the mean Streets of East London?
The story opens in Poplar, East London, but takes a turn to
Soho, another absolutely fascinating hamlet of the city in the
late 1800’s. I loved the diversion, but fate has a way of
interrupting the best laid plans and it’s no different for my lovely
leading lady, little orphan, Ettie O’Reilly, who finds herself
caught up in a desperate flight for survival.

 If you could give advice to anyone wanting to write, what
would it be?
One word – read! If your read lots you can write lots. Read every
spare moment. Get into the heads of the characters. Examine
the plots. Notice the crunchy dialogue and how the writer uses it
to convey information that doesn’t end up in long boring
paragraphs of narrative. Lean new words, punchy, fresh
adjectives, hard-hitting verbs and watch for the stomach-
blipping tension. Have hundreds of holes for your main
character to fall into, just as in the books you read that turn you
on. READ. READ MORE. READ EVERY DAY and love
reading.

And last of all, Carol, what do you do to relax?
Other than reading, it’s all about nature. Walking, watching
birds, being part of this amazing universe and breathing the
fresh air. We live by a river and walk its banks or go to the sea
and the cliffs. The water, the fields, the trees, the wild animals,
the sky and the great beyond; bring it all on I say!

Good luck with CHRISTMAS CHILD Carol.

Thank you so much TWG for this
opportunity to connect! Love Carol XX

#BlogTour! Is the #DeathOfJustice, a case of murder or suicide? #Guestpost by @TonyJForder @BloodhoundBook

Many thanks to BloodHoundBooks for inviting me to take part in Tony J Forder’s blog tour for ‘The Death Of Justice’. For my stop today, I have a guest post from the author himself. Before I share that however, is a little bit more about the book and the purchase link. Enjoy!

One night. Two shootings. Two victims.

When DI Bliss arrives at the scene of the second murder, he recognises the same three-shot pattern as the first. But there is one major difference: the second victim has been decapitated, the head nowhere to be found. When a second headless corpse is discovered the following day, Bliss and his team realise the killer is on a spree – and he’s not done yet.

After Bliss links the killings and forms a task force with officers from Lincolnshire, they uncover further disturbing news: the murders are not the first in the series – there are four more headless victims, and the Lincolnshire team believe they know why. Not only that, they are also convinced that more potential victims are on the killer’s list.

In a race against time to save further loss of life, Bliss constantly finds himself one step behind and chasing shadows. In order to flush out the hired assassin, he and his team have no choice but to put their own lives at risk. But will everyone survive?

Buy now from Amazon

Guest post.

IS THE DEATH OF JUSTICE A CASE OF MURDER OR SUICIDE?

When you’re writing a series book, you have to keep in mind both the past and future while you’re relating the present. It’s a weird kind of omniscience, because as the author you’re able to see the entire cast of characters, everything they do, everything they think, plus everything they are going to do and think. And not just in the book you’re writing at the time. Okay, I’m going to say it – we get to play God (if you happen to believe in that sort of thing).

A lot of decisions need to be made, especially in terms of story and character development. With The Death of Justice I was extremely aware that in the previous book, The Reach of Shadows, I had pulled together multiple strands extending from the very first book and tied them off, a deliberate decision designed to stabilise the main character, DI Jimmy Bliss, and to reset his foundations so that he could continue on into the final stretch of his police career. I was conscious, too, that the first four books weaved complex investigative webs, and that a change of gear might be needed all round.

I think The Death of Justice achieves that, but without tearing down every structure my loyal readers have come to expect from a DI Bliss novel. So, whilst there is only a single case for him and his team to focus on this time, and the pace is stepped up by a couple of gears, the storyline is a bit like an onion in that beneath it there are connected layers of mystery for Bliss to peel away and wrap his head around. I think it both moves on from the previous book and cements the overall theme.

New characters from the neighbouring county of Lincolnshire are introduced, one of whom becomes Bliss’s investigative partner on a couple of occasions. Although she is a rank above him, he is in command on his own patch and it allows them to operate together effectively without egos getting in the way. This was something I had wanted to do anyway, and DCI Diane Warburton became the ideal role for the winner of a charity donation to have a character named after her. I hope she will prove popular.

When I came up with the idea for this book, I was aware that the previous four had relied on the investigative skills and dedication of Bliss and his team in solving those cases, and that police work doesn’t always follow such a steady path. There are times when circumstances change so regularly that the operation mounted veers off course and the team are constantly being caught out and challenged by events overtaking them. I thought the time was right for Jimmy and his colleagues to endure just such a case, and for the reader to hopefully feel their frustrations as things don’t go quite according to plan.

For Jimmy Bliss, this chapter in his life represents a period of stability. Undergoing mandatory therapy in the wake of the circumstances that led him almost to the point of destruction, Bliss reluctantly accepts his treatment – though Bliss being Bliss he regards it as more of a punishment. But clearly the time is right for him to tread water a little, to focus his mind on the job and the job alone. He has accepted his place in the world and is no longer entirely unhappy with his lot. That said, by the end of this book he has cause to question the wisdom of change and the impact it has on him and those around him.

In my notes at the end of The Death of Justice I point out that the idea for the story began when I read an article about an unsolved case in the US. I was fascinated by it, but knew I couldn’t actually write my book about it in fictional terms. Instead, I asked myself what might have triggered the unusual events, as well as what the aftermath could have looked like. It was while I was considering the latter that the storyline fell into place. Rarely – for me at least – the entire story came to me almost at once, including a beginning, middle, and end. Well… almost. It soon became clear to me that the opening chapter would work better as the final chapter, and I am so glad I changed my mind about that, especially given what immediately precedes it.

As for the overall theme of justice, I think it can be viewed in many ways throughout this book, and I leave it to the reader to take from it what they find. To me, there is a related thread running along the spine of the story, one which might prompt people to question the very notion of justice and what it means to individuals.

I’m guessing that the final few chapters are going to provoke the majority of comments. No spoilers, but they are extremely emotional, and I have no idea how people might react to them. I don’t think I’m cutting my own throat, but you never can tell. If I have learned anything over the course of my eight published books, it is that you cannot please everybody.

About the author.

Tony J Forder is the author of the critically acclaimed, bestselling crime thriller series featuring detectives Jimmy Bliss and Penny Chandler from the Major Crimes unit in Peterborough. The first four books, Bad to the Bone, The Scent of Guilt, If Fear Wins, and The Reach of Shadows, will soon be joined by The Death of Justice, which will be published on 9 September 2019.

Tony’s dark, psychological crime thriller, Degrees of Darkness, featuring ex-detective Frank Rogers, was also published by Bloodhound Books. This is a stand-alone serial-killer novel. Another book that was written as a stand-alone was Scream Blue Murder. This was published in November 2017, and received praise from many, including fellow authors Mason Cross, Matt Hilton and Anita Waller. Before it had even been published, Tony had decided to write a sequel, and Cold Winter Sun was published in November 2018.

Tony lives with his wife in Peterborough, UK, and is now a full-time author. He is currently working on a new novel, and has also begun writing Bliss #6.

#BlogTour! #QandA with author of #MissingInWales, Jenny O’Brien (@Scribblerjb) @RaRaResources

Last but not least is an interview with author of brand new detective series, ‘Missing in Wales, Jenny O’Brien! Many thanks to RaRaResources for the blog tour invite, and thank you to the author for taking the time to answer TWG’s questions. Before that, here is a little bit more information out ‘Missing In Wales’, as well as the purchase links. Enjoy!

Missing in Wales, the first in an exciting new Welsh-set crime series by Jenny O’Brien, author of The Stepsister. The next in series, Stabbed in Wales, will be available soon.

Alys is fine – don’t try to find us

Izzy Grant is haunted by the abduction of her newborn daughter five-years ago. When a postcard arrives from her missing partner, the man she believes is responsible, saying they’re fine and asking her not to try to find them, she knows she can’t give up hoping. Then she sees a face from her past. Grace Madden. Just where did she disappear to all those years ago? And is there a connection between her disappearance and that of her child?

DC Gabriella Darin, recently transferred from Swansea, is brash, bolshie and dedicated. Something doesn’t fit with the case and she’s determined to find out just what happened all those years ago.

Buy from Amazon UK

Buy from Amazon US

Q and A.

Could you tell us a bit about you and your background before you began writing?
Firstly, thank you for inviting me on your blog. I was born in Dublin, moved to Wales and now live and work in Guernsey as a registered nurse.

Have you always wanted to become a published writer?

I’d always hoped I had a book in me but never dreamt that I’d ever actually knuckle down to write it.

What made you decide to write your new novel?

I think it would have been hard not to. Writing has become a bit of an obsession. I finish one book – have a few days break and start on the next.

How hard was it to find the inspiration for your book?

With MISSING IN WALES the inspiration for the core plot, a missing baby, came from a dream so not hard at all.

If you could pick a favourite character from your novel, who would it be and why?

I like the DC, Gabriella Darin because, like all of us, she’s flawed. She’s not glamorous and she suffers the same minor daily setbacks that turn an average day into a disastrous one.

Did you ever regret writing a character into your story after it was published?

Not that I can think of. I don’t tend to stuff my pages with lots of characters, rather I like to plump out what I’ve got into a more well-rounded portrayal.

Did you find yourself under any personal pressure for your debut novel to succeed and be liked by many?

That’s an interesting question. The first novel I published was Boy Brainy and, at the time I didn’t really think in terms of success. It’s about a couple of boys that are being bullied. When a bullying related incident happened with one of my children, I just wanted it out there, only that. I pressed the KDP (Amazon) button that night.

Time for a tough one, if you could choose any book that has already been published to be the author of, which one would you choose and why?

It would have to be my favourite book. I am David by Anne Holm – purely because of the subject matter and writing style, both of which are superb.

What does your ‘writing space’ look like?

It’s a chair, quite a large one with notebooks on the arms and space for a mug of tea. There’s no room for a desk but I do have the most amazing view, which makes up for the lack of space somewhat.

Were there any authors you wanted to be like, when you were a child?

Enid Blyton was a firm favourite.

If you had to sum up your book to a stranger in five words, what would they be and why?

‘Why steal my baby, Charlie?’

What’s coming up next for you? Any exclusives?

I have two books coming up in the same series, both featuring DC Gabriella Darin. The first STABBED IN WALES finds a woman waking up beside the body of a dead woman when she’s pretty sure she went to bed with a bloke. The second, as yet untitled, is about dead bodies turning up on a beach

One final question. What advice would you give to a writer that wants to be published? Any words of wisdom?

Read. Read and read some more. Read out of genre where possible as well as in and read the books published by the agents you’d like to represent you. Also know your market but write what you enjoy. A book invariably takes months to write. If you want to stick with it, you must be able to invest in the story.

Thanks so much, Jenny! If you haven’t read Jenny’s first thriller, The Stepsister, it is available FREE on Amazon from the 22nd July until the 26th, so get in quick!!

Buy The Stepsister now from Amazon UK

Buy The Stepsister now from Amazon US

#BlogTour! #GuestPost from author of ‘A Walk in Wildflower Park’, Bella Osborne (@osborne_bella) @AvonBooksUK

Many thanks to Avon for inviting me to take part in the blog tour for ‘A Walk in Wildflower Park’ by Bella Osborne. For my stop on the tour today, I am delighted to be sharing a guest post from the lady herself. However, before I do, here is a bit more about her new book and where you can buy it:

Life’s not always a walk in the park…

Anna thought she’d found The One – until he broke off their engagement exactly a year before their wedding day. Hoping new surroundings will do her the world of good, she moves in to a place of her own on the edge of gorgeous Wildflower Park.

With the help and friendship of her neighbour Sophie (a stressed-out mum whose children a regular source of newly-invented swear words and unidentifiable sticky surfaces), Anna quickly settles in and pledges to focus on her career, but a handsome new colleague seems determined to thwart her attempts at every turn. And when she receives a text from a mystery man, it looks as though an unlikely romance is on the horizon…

Is Anna about to be swept off her feet by someone she really shouldn’t be falling for? Or could this be the new start she needs and deserves?

Buy now from Amazon.

Guest post.

I run the risk of sounding very old when I say I spent a lot of my childhood outdoors but it’s true. I did and I loved it. These days we are more aware of the dangers and I think we have to try harder to find that same freedom for our children so that they don’t miss out on some wonderful experiences.

I was brought up on the coast so a lot of time was spent on the beach and in the sea but there was also a lot of rough space where we could roam and still be home in time for tea. Here we made dens, fought imaginary battles and played cricket until it was dark. We also were thrown up against nature and this was what I particularly enjoyed. I remember tracking the wild rabbits for hours – it was quite an expedition. We once found a fox’s den, which was incredibly exciting. We went back the next day and we’re a little alarmed to find the remains of a rabbit in kit form at the entrance. We took it as a warning and kept our distance after that.

We collected wildflowers, played hide and seek in the bushes and climbed trees. Tree climbing was my passion and a skill I was mightily proud of. My grandma used to complain that she couldn’t get a brush through my hair because I had brought home so much foliage in it but I didn’t care.

Whilst a lot of the rough ground I played on has now disappeared I think it puts more focus on the need for designated park and wildlife areas. I am lucky enough to live very close to one such area and I love that my daughter can experience some of the freedom I did – if not a more sanitized version. She’s not as proficient a tree climber but her ability to collect stuff in her hair is second to none.

#BlogTour! #Recipe from #AFeastOfSerendib by Mary Anne Mohanraj (@mamohanraj) @RaRaResources

Today I have a recipe from Mary Anne Mohanraj’s Sri Lankan cookbook, ‘A Feast of Serendib’. Many thanks to RaRaResources for asking me to be involved. Before I share the recipe with you all, here is a little bit more about the book and the all important purchase links. Enjoy!

Dark roasted curry powder, a fine attention to the balance of salty-sour-sweet, wholesome red rice and toasted curry leaves, plenty of coconut milk and chili heat. These are the flavors of Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka was a cross roads in the sea routes of the East. Three waves of colonization—Portuguese, Dutch and British—and the Chinese laborers who came with them, left their culinary imprint on Sri Lankan food. Sri Lankan cooking with its many vegetarian dishes gives testimony to the presence of a multi-ethnic and multi -religious population.

Everyday classics like beef smoore and Jaffna crab curry are joined by luxurious feast dishes, such as nargisi kofta and green mango curry, once served to King Kasyapa in his 5th century sky palace of Sigiriya.

Vegetable dishes include cashew curry, jackfruit curry, asparagus poriyal, tempered lentils, broccoli varai and lime-masala mushrooms. There are appetizers of chili-mango cashews, prawn lentil patties, fried mutton rolls, and ribbon tea sandwiches. Deviled chili eggs bring the heat, yet ginger-garlic chicken is mild enough for a small child. Desserts include Sir Lankan favorites: love cake, mango fluff, milk toffee and vattalappam, a richly-spiced coconut custard.

In A Feast of Serendib, Mary Anne Mohanraj introduces her mother’s cooking and her own Americanizations, providing a wonderful introduction to Sri Lankan American cooking, straightforward enough for a beginner, and nuanced enough to capture the flavor of Sri Lankan cooking.

Buy now.

Recipe:

Hoppers / Appam

If I had to pick the perfect Sri Lankan meal, this would be it. There’s nothing like breaking off a crisp piece of hopper, dipping it into broken egg, and scooping up some curry and a bit of seeni sambol. Delectable.

These rice flour pancakes have a unique shape; fermented batter is swirled in a special small hemispherical pan, so you end up with a soft, spongy center, and lacey, crispy sides – that contrast is the true glory of the hopper. (You can buy instant hopper mix, available online, and just add water, which will work fine, and doesn’t require overnight planning ahead. Many diasporic Sri Lankans I know use that option regularly.) Typically you’d make one egg hopper per person, plus another plain hopper or two, and maybe a sweet hopper to finish up.

If you don’t have a hopper pan, you can make hoppers in a regular frying pan; you just won’t get quite as much of the crispy sides. It’s a little time-consuming to make hoppers, since each one must be individually steamed for a few minutes, but with practice, you can have four hopper pans going on a stove at once. I’d recommend starting with just one pan at a time, though! Serve with curry and seeni sambol.

2 cups South Asian rice flour (or a mix of rice and wheat flour)

1 tsp sugar

pinch of baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

2 cups coconut milk

eggs for egg hoppers

extra coconut milk and jaggery for sweet hoppers

1. Mix first five ingredients thoroughly in a large bowl, cover, and set in a warm, turned-off oven to ferment overnight. (In a cold climate, fermentation may not occur without a little help – I turn my oven on to 250 degrees, and when it’s reached temperature, turn it off and put the covered bowl in the oven to stay warm.)

2. Mix again, adding water if necessary to make a quite thin, pourable batter.

3. Heat pan (grease if not non-stick) on medium, and when it’s hot, pour about 1/3 cup batter into the center. Pick up the pan immediately and swirl the batter around, coating the cooking surface. The sides of the hopper should end up with holes in them: thin, lacy, and crisp – if the batter is coating the pan more thickly, mix in some hot water to thin it down. Cover and let cook for 2-4 minutes – you’ll know it’s ready when the sides have started to brown and the center is thoroughly cooked. A silicone spatula will help with getting the hopper out of the pan.

4. For egg hoppers, after swirling, crack an egg in the center before covering. The egg will cook as the hopper does, finishing in about 3-4 minutes.

5. For sweet hoppers, after swirling, add a tablespoon of coconut milk and a teaspoon of jaggery to the center of the pan, then cook as usual.

About the author.

Mary Anne Mohanraj is the author of Bodies in Motion (HarperCollins), The Stars Change (Circlet Press) and thirteen other titles. Bodies in Motion was a finalist for the Asian American Book Awards, a USA Today Notable Book, and has been translated into six languages. The Stars Change was a finalist for the Lambda, Rainbow, and Bisexual Book Awards.
Mohanraj founded the Hugo-nominated and World Fantasy Award-winning speculative literature magazine, Strange Horizons, and also founded Jaggery, a S. Asian & S. Asian diaspora literary journal (jaggerylit.com). She received a Breaking Barriers Award from the Chicago Foundation for Women for her work in Asian American arts organizing, won an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Prose, and was Guest of Honor at WisCon. She serves as Director of two literary organizations, DesiLit (www.desilit.org) and The Speculative Literature Foundation (www.speclit.org). She serves on the futurist boards of the XPrize and Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry.

Mohanraj is Clinical Associate Professor of English at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and lives in a creaky old Victorian in Oak Park, just outside Chicago, with her husband, their two small children, and a sweet dog. Recent publications include stories for George R.R. Martin’s Wild Cards series, stories at Clarkesworld, Asimov’s, and Lightspeed, and an essay in Roxane Gay’s Unruly Bodies. 2017-2018 titles include Survivor (a SF/F anthology), Perennial, Invisible 3 (co-edited with Jim C. Hines), and Vegan Serendib.

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#BlogBlitz! #GuestPost from author of #HesAtYourDoor, Alex Sinclair (@ASinclairAuthor) @BloodHoundBook

Here is a guest post from Alex Sinclair, author of ‘He’s At Your Door’, for the first day of the blog tour. Many thanks to BloodHoundBooks for the invite.

Karen Rainey lives a sheltered life on the edge of the city. For the last five years, she has rarely left the home unless it was unavoidable. She has her food and anything else she needs delivered to the front door. She works from home to avoid venturing outside.

But Karen isn’t agoraphobic. She’s terrified of her ex-boyfriend, Zach, who is serving a life sentence in prison for a string of bank robberies after Karen testified against him. With the constant threat that Zach might send someone to find and kill her, Karen keeps a low profile.

To aid her in paying the rent each month, Karen takes in the occasional housemate, opting for students from the local university. Her current housemate, Beth, is a young student who has no idea about Karen’s past.

But when a mysterious package is left of her doorstep, it sends Karen’s world into turmoil.

Has Zack found her?

Isolated and frightened, Karen befriends Beth but refuses to tell her everything about her past.

Trapped inside their home, Karen and Beth soon begin to lose their minds.

But is the threat really outside or is it closer to home?

Guest post.

The Five a.m. start

I’m not a morning person. When it’s dark outside before the sun rises, like most people, I’d rather be sound asleep. But when you are an author who still works a full-time job, you have little choice.

When my daughter was born a little over three years ago, she had a lot of trouble early on sleeping. We were lucky if she lasted two hours at a time despite having enough food in her belly to see her through to the next feed. Because of this, my wife and I took turns attempting to help her go back to sleep. To say it exhausted us was an understatement.

When you have your first child, nothing can prepare you for the overwhelming change your life will undertake to accommodate a tiny human’s every need. It’s amazing how such a small thing impacts not only your lifestyle but the way you see the world. Each person handles the transition differently. But for me, it was the moment I resolved to take my writing seriously and put in the hard yards.

I was up one morning around four with my daughter on my chest, trying my hardest to coax her back to sleep. I was reclined in the feeding chair with my laptop within reach. While my bundled-up daughter drifted off on me, I decided to do some writing to keep myself awake while she settled into a deep slumber. The light rattling of the keyboard seemed to help settle her. This became a nightly ritual until I realized something: I was getting more work completed than ever before.

Prior to this new and bizarre habit, I would write when I felt like it, typically at night. I’d be lucky to put down four hundred words over several hours, often distracted by the TV or my wife. It would take me six months to complete a first draft of anything. But when I wrote in the early hours of the morning, the words flowed. The absolute calm and quiet of the dark before the sun came up allowed me to move into a focused zone. Once my daughter slept through the night, I decided to get up every morning at five to spend two hours writing before work or before the day started with my family.

That was three years ago. In that time, I’ve written seven novels and three novellas while working full time and helping to raise our child. Life is busy. I had three novels published in 2018. I have another two being published in 2019 so far. It’s thanks to this seven-day-a-week writing habit. Unless something else needs to be prioritized or I’m sick, I don’t sleep in. The early starts have helped me achieve far more than I ever imagined possible and are charging me toward my goal of becoming a full-time author.

I’ll admit, it’s not an easy thing to do every day. I’ve had my difficulties. Some mornings, I can produce three thousand words in less than two hours. On others, I’m lucky if I break through to the one-thousand-word mark. But the most important factor is consistency. You must write every day if you want to improve your craft and be capable of producing anything worthy of publication. It’s no different from putting in the hours at a job. If you fail to show up consistently, you can’t expect to get ahead.

I wish I had understood the importance of treating writing like a career and not a hobby when I first started a novel back in 2011. I have my daughter to thank for showing me what was possible. I’m sure she just wanted a warm chest to snuggle into, but one day I’ll tell her how much she motivated her dad to take his writing to the next level.

Alex Sinclair

#BlogTour! #Promo – Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Cursed Serpent by Columbkill Noonan (@columbkillnoon1) @RaRaResources

Happy first day of the blog tour, Columbkill Noonan! For my stop on the tour I will be doing a little bit of promo by sharing all the details of the book, as well as the all important ‘to buy’ links.

“For Queen, for Country, and for….Uncle Rabbit?”

Just when Barnabas and Wilfred thought the world was safe at last, along comes a new threat: the Mayan Lords of Death have hatched a plan to overthrow the natural order of things, involving a cursed serpent god, two untrustworthy sets of twins, and a dead bunny that must be resuscitated at all costs. Only Barnabas and Wilfred can possibly unravel the convoluted plot, but they face danger after danger as they attempt to do so. If they fail, up will be down and down will be up, and the evil Lords of Death will take over the heavens.

Do Barnabas and Wilfred have the courage, skill (and luck!) to save the world yet again?

Buy now from Amazon US

Buy now from Amazon UK

About the author.

Columbkill Noonan is the author of the bestselling “Barnabas Tew” series, which features the bumbling-yet-lovable Victorian detective Barnabas and his trusty sidekick, Wilfred. Columbkill combines her love of mythology and her affinity for period fiction to craft unique cozy mysteries that will leave you guessing (and chuckling!) till the very end.

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#BlogTour! #GuestPost ‘Novels Can’t Triumph Without These 4 Essentials’ by Celia Moore (@celiamoorebooks) @rararesources

I am super excited to be closing Celia Moore’s blog tour today with a guest post from the lady herself. Huge thanks to Rachel, as always, for the blog tour invite. Before I share the guest post, here is a little bit more information about Celia’s novel, ‘Fox Halt Farm’:

Opening on a cliff edge, Billy finds herself alone and betrayed. She believes everyone and everything she loves is threatened. Richard’s world is aglow with wealth, love and unswerving family loyalty but then his perfect life crosses Billy’s. He could save Billy, her beloved dairy cows and Fox Halt Farm but this young woman isn’t in the mood to be rescued.

Nothing will stay the same. Should they trust each other? Will their secrets tear their lives apart?
Fox Halt Farm is hard to put down. The story cracks along and you are caught up in Celia Moore’s vivid storytelling from the start. If you love novels by Jill Mansell, Fiona Valpy, Lucinda Riley, Maeve Binchy and Danielle Steel you will love this novel too!

Buy now from Amazon

Guest post.

Thank you, Kaisha for allowing me to be a guest on your blog. I am a big fan of The Writing Garnet so it’s a real privilege for me to be here. I want to talk about something I feel was vital to making my novel as good as it could be.

I first published Fox Halt Farm in November 2017, and a few months ago I completed its sequel, but having written this second book, learnt and developed new skills, and having scrutinised my original novel, I had to admit the awful truth to myself that Fox Halt Farm wasn’t perfect.

I am sharing here the 4 reasons that helped me see its failings.

1. Honest feedback. – having been wholly delighted with Fox Halt Farm when I published it – I sought feedback from a few people I trusted to give me an honest review so I could improve the way I wrote the sequel. The people I approached were ones I respected for their expertise but they still found it hard to criticise, knowing how much Fox Halt Farm meant to me – they were all wholly positive and encouraging but luckily, they were also brave enough to show me where I had gone wrong.

2. Standing back and time to reflect. – having written the sequel, time had passed which allowed me to see my debut novel from a new perspective, looking at it objectively, no longer as emotionally attached as I had been when I first published it. Time and a new viewpoint as a reader, rather than as the author, made me look at the words and the way I had written the story in a whole new light.

3. Writing group, classes, books and my peers. I joined my local writing group and discovered great advice, encouragement and support. I read books about how to write effectively and I met other authors too. Creative writing is a craft and all these pointers helped me grasp a better understanding of ways to improve my work.

4. Courage to admit the truth to myself – knowing that Fox Halt Farm could be improved was initially difficult for me to accept. At first, I couldn’t get past all the work I had put in getting it just so. I was delighted with my story. My long dreamt of debut was finished and I was desperate to move forward with the next part of the story. But inside, I knew I’d never be happy unless I did something about the niggling concerns, I had.

After hours of rewriting, not to change the story but to make my first novel easier to read, more polished and interesting, I have a wonderful book that I am proud of again. A triumph in my eyes. I am so happy to have been brave enough to say, ‘No this isn’t good enough.’

About the author.

Celia Moore (1967-now) grew up on a small farm near Exeter. She had a successful career as a Chartered Surveyor working in the City of London before working her way back to Devon. In 2000, she left the office to start a new adventure as an outdoor instructor, teaching rock climbing and mountaineering. Today she gardens for a few lovely customers, runs and writes (accompanied at all times by a border terrier x jack russell called Tizzy). She is running the London Marathon in April 2019 for three cancer charities.

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Giveaway to Win a £15 / $15 Amazon Gift Card (Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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Happy birthday, The Writing Garnet! #TWGTurnsThree #TheWritingGarnet #BlogBirthday #ThankYou

Happy 3rd birthday The Writing Garnet! #TWGTurnsThree
Happy birthday TWG,
Happy birthday TWG,
Happy birthday to TWGGGGGG,
Happy birthday TWG!!

I cannot believe my little blog turns THREE today! Never in a million years did I think, three years ago, that I would be sitting here celebrating my blogs third birthday. I started TWG one night because I wanted to say thank you to the authors who continue to allow me to escape by reading their books, and because I adore books!

I am completely overwhelmed (yes, still) by the response to my blog and I would like to thank each and every one of you for supporting me, being my friend, cheerleading the good things, and being there through the bad. I have met such wonderful people through blogging and the book community, and yes, there have been times where I have thought to myself ‘is it worth it?’ in amongst the blogger bashing and what not. I’m only human. But, I adore my books and my blog too much to disappear now. Sorry – you’re stuck with me!

So, the last 12 months have been insane! I have found myself being quoted on the FRONT cover of a book, quoted in paperbacks and e-books, and found myself in multiple acknowledgements. Thank you to the authors, publishers and publicists for making that happen!

I have had the pleasure of meeting authors and bloggers at various book events, with the most recent one being the Orenda Roadshow in Edinburgh. I am a very anxious person but I am so proud of myself for taking myself out of my comfort zone to meet up with some truly wonderful people. Thank you, Karen!

Last November TWG won an award, making the blog a multi-award WINNING blog! Now I didn’t blog about it at the time because I was at the receiving end of a few not so nice things, which meant that I chose to hide away. In hindsight I totally regret doing that – why shouldn’t I be proud?! I was amazed to win Media/Blog Star of the Year at the RNA (Romantics Novelist Association) Industry Awards, and I won a glass award with my name on it. I cried. I was in complete shock. I never expected to win as I was up against two of the biggest names in the blogging community, so when Mandy Baggot facetimed me with the news I just couldn’t believe it. Thank you to everyone at the RNA for nominating me, making your winner and for being utterly fabulous. Thank you to Sue Heath for picking up my award on my behalf. I still look at the award on the window sill and think that they’ve made a mistake. Such an honour!

What else has happened in the last 12 months? Well, TWG became a fully fledged published writer, courtesy of the online Honeymoon Book Club and Brides Magazine (again, pinch me!). You can check it out here!

Blogging aside, the last year has been a rollercoaster for me and my health. I have had bad news after bad news, scan after scan….and I have still got a long road ahead of me as I push for diagnosis’ for more things. Don’t get me wrong, I’m fully aware ‘it could be worse’, but contrary to popular belief – I don’t post ALL of my health things on Facebook! I am very self-conscious by the fact that I am losing my mobility even more thanks to more muscle wastage in my legs, but because I am such a stubborn ass, limping is my thang. It gets me down, which is exactly why I turned to blogging. Of course, back then, I was nowhere near as poorly as what I am now, which is why you’ll probably find me with my nose in multiple books at one time!

So yes, TWG has now turned three and once again I want to thank you all for helping me make TWG what it is. Without you reading my posts, sharing them, commenting, liking my Facebook page, giving me book recommendations and so on, there would be a high chance of me sitting here talking to myself. Thank you for believing in me!

It’s crazy to think that next year when the blog turns four, I would have just turned 30!

Here’s to another year of fabulous books, fabulous book events, and just being ourselves – Happy birthday TWG!!