#BlogTour! #GuestPost from ‘Deadly Game’ author Matt Johnson (@Matt_Johnson_UK) @OrendaBooks

Big thanks to author of ‘Deadly Game’, Matt Johnson, and Orenda Books, for having me host today’s stop on the blog tour! Matt Johnson has written a really insightful guest post for us here at TWG HQ! I am super excited to share with you Matt’s thoughts on editing books and having to decide whether all parts of the storyline make the final cut or not!

A darling killed – Matt Johnson.

The editing process can be hard, especially to a new author who is not used
to it. Those words that you have almost sweated blood to produce, that you
have agonised over, changed, improved … only to find they are despatched
to the edit room floor. But that is the very nature of the editor’s role, too look
dispassionately at the content and to make recommendations on what needs
to be changed, what needs to be added, and what should be cut. Editing
helps the story move smoothly, maintains pace and keeps the book on track.
It chops the padding, removes the irrelevant red herrings and polishes up
what remains. It turns a manuscript into a book.

This is an extract from Deadly Game, one that didn’t make the cut. I liked it,
and was sad to see it go, but the editing team were right. And so, my darling
was killed. In this chapter, the central character Robert Finlay has been sent to interview
a potential witness in Gloucester. He meets an old friend, Wendy Russell,
now in charge of policing for that area. This extract, describes and event from
when they first met.

***

Wendy Russell and I had been PCs together at Albany Street and, before
that, on the same intake for the police training school at Hendon in North
London. Early days as a constable consisted of a lot of classroom work, practical
assessments and exercises. After that, every evening was spent on book
study. As an older student, I hadn’t found the book-work easy. Wendy had
been a great help. We first met, one late evening, when I’d taken a break from
the studying to grab a quick beer in the recruit bar. A young redhead had
walked up beside me and offered to buy me a drink. It was Wendy. I accepted
the offer, of course. It’s not every day that kind of thing happens.

Our first hour together was spent talking about the course, why we’d joined
the police and other, ‘get to know you’ type things. Later, Wendy explained
that she’d only spoken to me out of sympathy; she felt sorry for me, sitting on
my own at the bar. I didn’t mind, and that first drink turned out to be the start
of a long friendship. My new friend was on the graduate entry scheme. I
hadn’t heard of it. She explained that by the time I would be eligible to try for a
promotion to sergeant, she would already have made inspector. As it
transpired, her prediction proved correct. Wendy was bright, articulate, and
attractive. She was also a lot younger than me, and was already engaged to
be married to a sergeant who worked in Central London.

Our friendship was cemented one day during ‘restraint’ training. One of the PT
staff had a dislike of female recruits and a resentment of what he called the
‘Bramshill flyers’, the fast-track promotion graduates who would be heading to
the police staff college as their careers progressed. To this particular
instructor, WPCs were all a ‘plonk’ or ‘Doris’ who should have been kept
inside the police stations to make the tea and to look after women and kids.
The fact that Wendy was both female and a ‘flyer’ caused her to be the
subject of much of this man’s attention. A former NCO from one of the infantry
regiments, his uniform tunic was adorned with several medal ribbons, some of
which I recognised. It wasn’t unusual; most of the ex-services lads wore their
ribbons. Almost all had completed tours in Ireland, so the green and blue
General Service ribbon was quite commonplace. Others sported NATO
medals and the Falkland Islands ribbon.

On the day in question, Wendy had been singled out by the PT instructor to
demonstrate restraint techniques. We were to be taught how to deal with
awkward prisoners using the ‘hammerlock and bar’ hold. It was simple
enough to use, but not if you were a rather diminutive female who’s
overpowering male instructor was set on showing you up.
As the rest of the class watched, our fellow recruit was teased, humiliated
and, repeatedly dumped on the gym floor in a bedraggled mess. Wendy tried
hard, very hard, but the instructor was strong, and he was determined to
make his point about the value of WPCs. I saw a tear in Wendy’s eye as she lay on the floor following her sixth or seventh attempt to apply the hold to her tormentor. Ignoring her, the instructor ordered us to form pairs and practise amongst ourselves. I went over to
Wendy and helped her up.
‘You ok?’ I asked.
‘One day, I’m going to come back here as an inspector, then we’ll see who’s
laughing,’ she answered, bravely.
‘Why wait that long?’
‘What do you mean?’

I moved Wendy to the back of the gym where we would be away from the rest
of the class. The instructor, I noticed, had nipped out to do something else
while we tried to master the hold he had been teaching. I had also noticed the
way he had been tipping Wendy on her back as she tried to place him in the
hold. He relied on brute strength. He was overconfident, certain of his strength
advantage and, as a result, was badly balanced on his feet. He didn’t consider
his adversary to be a threat. That left him vulnerable to surprise.
Over the course of the next few minutes, I allowed Wendy to practise on me.
The first time, I dumped her on her back, in the very same way that had
happened to her in front of the class. She made to storm off, but I held her
arm.
‘Stop,’ I said. ‘Now, try this.’
Using a simple sweeping movement of the leg, I showed Wendy how to knock
me off balance and onto my back. By the time the instructor returned, she was
becoming quite proficient at it.
‘OK you lot,’ came the call from our leader. ‘Who’s going to show me what
you’ve learnt?’
For a few seconds, nobody moved. Then Wendy stepped forward. ‘Mind if I
have another try, sergeant.’ The instructor and a couple of the younger male
recruits laughed, but Wendy continued her approach. Failing to anticipate that his stooge could have improved much in the time he had been absent, our teacher adopted the same casual approach to embarrassing his challenger. It was a mistake. Wendy was quick. What she
lacked in strength, she more than made up for in speed. In a flash, the
instructor was decked.

For good measure, Wendy stood for a moment, her right foot on her victim’s
neck and her fists in the air. She looked for all the world like a victorious
gladiator awaiting a command from her audience as to whether to spare her
unfortunate opponent. Two of the women laughed and gave the ‘thumbs
down’ sign. The rest of us cheered and clapped our hands enthusiastically.
In November that year, we were both posted out to Albany Street Police
Station, near Euston, to start our two-year probationary period as uniform
PCs. I had been placed on ‘C’ relief, Wendy was put with ‘D’. Over the coming
years, she inevitably encountered a lot more of the kind of attitude shown by
that instructor, but it didn’t faze her. We kept in contact until she left the Met
several years later, having been promoted to Superintendent.
And now, here she was. As large as life, with six years under her belt in
charge of policing in Gloucester.

Thanks again to Matt for the fantastic guest post! Read on to find out more about his book, Deadly Games, and the link to buy a copy for yourself!

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Reeling from the attempts on his life and that of his family, Police Inspector Robert Finlay returns to work to discover that any hope of a peaceful existence has been dashed. Assigned to investigate the Eastern European sex-slave industry just as a key witness is murdered, Finlay, along with his new partner Nina Brasov, finds himself facing a ruthless criminal gang, determined to keep control of the traffic of people into the UK. On the home front, Finlay’s efforts to protect his wife and child may have been in vain, as an MI5 protection officer uncovers a covert secret service operation that threatens them all… Picking up where the bestselling Wicked Game left off, Deadly Game sees Matt Johnson’s damaged hero fighting on two fronts. Aided by new allies, he must not only protect his family but save a colleague from an unseen enemy … and a shocking fate.

Buy now from Amazon

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#Blogtour! #Extract of #BornBad by Marnie Riches (@Marnie_Riches) @AvonBooksUK

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A powerful, darkly comic novel set in the criminal underworld of Manchester from bestselling author Marnie Riches.

The battle is on…

When gang leader Paddy O’Brien is stabbed in his brother’s famous nightclub, Manchester’s criminal underworld is shaken to the core. Tensions are running high, and as the body count begins to grow, the O’Brien family must face a tough decision – sell their side of the city to the infamous Boddlington gang or stick it out and risk losing their king.

But war comes easy to the bad boys, and they won’t go down without a fight. So begins a fierce battle for the South Side, with the leading Manchester gangsters taking the law into their own hands – but only the strongest will survive…

Buy now from Amazon UK

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Thank you to Helena, from Avon Books for inviting me on the blog tour today! I have an extract from ‘Born Bad’ to share with you, enjoy!

Extract
by Marnie Riches

Resignation in Tiffany’s voice. She turned to him, treating him to a dead-eyed stare. ‘All they can do is try to shrink it. Radiothingy. They said it’s grown into his nose and around the optic nerves. He’s going blind. Doc said there’s not a surgeon in England has got the savvy to get it out. He’s shafted …’

Lev looked down at Jay and felt tears leak onto his cheeks. Imagining the tumour within his son, wrapping itself around the boy’s beautiful green eyes, suffocating the healthy tissue, eating into space that his brain should by rights fill, replacing thoughts of Postman Pat and Chuggington and whatever other shit the kid watched on CBeebies with pain. Somehow, he had failed the boy. Somehow, it was his fault. There had to be a way to make it better. His mother had always told him the Lord was merciful.

‘… Unless we can get him to the States.’ Tiffany inhaled her cigarette deeply and blew the smoke over Lev’s closely shorn hair.

A glimmer of hope. ‘You what?’

She nodded slowly. Flicked her fingernails with her thumb. ‘There’s this brain surgeon in Baltimore. The place is called John Hopkins Brain Centre or summat.’

‘Right,’ Lev said, wiping the tears from his cheeks determinedly. ‘He’s going. We’ll take him.’

‘It’s a hundred and fifty grand. Maybe more. Where you gonna find that kind of cash, smart arse? Flogging baggies of coke in town on a Saturday night? Get a grip!’

Lev’s heart, buoyed instantly by the thought of a cure that glittered with promise on the other side of the Atlantic, took a slow trip back down to the soles of his Nike Air-Max trainers. He mentally rifled through the hiding places he had for cash in the Sweeney Hall high-rise he called home. The toilet cistern contained £2,500 and a gun that was worth a few quid, wrapped up in plastic bags. There was another £1,900 at the back of the gas meter in an old Brillo box. £5,000 in a carrier bag, gaffer-taped to the underside of his wardrobe. He couldn’t even make ten grand.

‘We’ll find it,’ he said. ‘I’ll ask Tariq and Jonny for more work. Maybe I can help out as muscle. The Fish Man gets paid a mint.’

Tiffany snorted. ‘You? Muscle? Where, in your pants? That’s the only place you ever had muscle, Le-viti-carse.’

His hours spent at the gym every week were clearly lost on that cheeky, head-wiggling cow. Or maybe she was bitching because she wasn’t getting it any more. Yes, that was it. The jibe stung less when he looked at it that way. But this was no time for hurt sensibilities over the quality of his six-pack.

‘I’ll have it saved, borrowed or stolen inside six months. I promise. The full whack.’ The words came out as a half-whisper, bound for his sleeping son’s ears.

‘Six months? You are joking,’ Tiffany said, picking her cigarette dimp out of the ashtray. She put it back inside her cigarette packet, stood and grabbed the empties from the table. No trace of emotion in her indifferent face. ‘The doctor reckons he’ll be dead in three, even with radiowhatsit. We need a miracle. How about you talk to that shithouse, your mother. She’s pretty fucking friendly with God, isn’t she?’

But the words he’ll be dead in three were ringing in Lev’s ears like bad tinnitus. He looked down at Jay, frowning in his sleep. Golden downy hairs on those honeyed, rubicund cheeks. The only beautiful thing in this godforsaken hole. The only beautiful thing in Lev’s entire beleaguered existence. Lev imagined his son lifeless and stiff, his eyes, staring blankly into the abyss, the childish shine all gone. His small body, interred in the autumn-hardening ground of Agecroft Cemetery, a fancy white coffin the only cold comfort remaining at the end of a life left unlived and mourned bitterly by wailing female relatives who should have looked after the poor little bastard better. Then, he pictured himself by his son’s graveside. Wearing his only suit, normally worn for court appearances, weddings and the odd stag night. Here is the homecoming for the son of Leviticus Bell – a pure soul begat by a sinner, snatched back to heaven by an unforgiving God that expects more from his flock than petty drug-dealing, cheap sex and knife crime.

Lev allowed the darkness to engulf him. Chastised himself for being useless at a time of need. Reminded him- self that he was one of life’s fighters. Remembered that Jay still had a chance while Dr Whateverhi‌sorhernamewas at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore existed. ‘Jesus Christ, Tiff. Our Jay can’t die. I won’t let him. I’m gonna sort this.

 

#BlogTour! #Review – True Colours by @EllyRedding #Extract #Giveaway @brookcottagebks

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TWG would like to give a warm welcome to Elly Redding and her debut novel, True Colours, as this is the FIRST time Elly has appeared on TWG! How exciting! Well, this visit is an indirect one via her book, but that still counts though, right? To help me on my stop today I am joined by an enticing EXTRACT, giddy GIVEAWAY and of course my RAVISHING review; can’t complain with that!

To tickle your tastebuds, lets kick off with an extract of True Colours by Elly Redding, which is available to buy right now (links below):

“Go away,” she shouted frantically reassessing her options.
“I don’t really think you’re in a position to make demands, do you, trapped as you are?
Unless, of course, you’re thinking of taking up abseiling. In which case, may I advise restraint? You’re on the fourth floor. You’re afraid of heights and I’m not standing in the right place to catch you.”
Good. It would ruin the whole point of the exercise if he was. She didn’t tell him that though. Instead she suggested he make an appointment, that if he wanted to see her, he should do what everyone else did.
“But I’m not everyone else, am I? I’m the guy who’s still considering suing you for breach of contract.”
“Contract – what contract?”
“Your promise to marry me.”
“You bastard.” It was the first thing she could think of to say, but she thought it summed up the situation perfectly. “In which case, may I suggest you contact my lawyer? I think you’ll find I’ve a very strong case for a counter claim. Or has something conveniently slipped your memory? Let me give you a clue. She had an amazing pair of breasts.”

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Blurb.

Could you ever trust again – the man who broke your heart?

Kate Fenton thought she’d got the answer to that question all neatly sewn up. Ever since she went to Saul Preston’s London art gallery, a month before their wedding, and found him with his assistant – who looked as if she was in the middle of a game of strip poker.
Now, three years later, she’s no longer so sure. Saul’s back in her life with a new proposition – accompany him on a trip to Majorca as his interpreter. It’s an offer Kate can’t refuse, even though she knows she should. Successful and rich, he’s just the sort of client her translation company is trying to attract – even if he is her two-timing ex!
Saul’s never gone in for second chances. He’s never had the time, but he knows exactly what he’s doing when he suggests the trip to Kate. As gorgeous and infuriatingly easy to fall for as ever, he’s determined to rekindle their past. And he’s only got 3 days to do it…

What does TWG think?

‘True Colours’ could not have come at a better time. I had finished a book the night before and I was starting a brand new day with a brand new book. The thing was, I felt like utter shizmanizzle thanks to illnesses and I need to read a book that just let me…be. A book where no PHD or Oxford dictionary is needed. A book that literally does the talking for you and lets you soak up the storyline like a sponge; effortlessly. Just like Elly Redding’s ‘True Colours’.

Kate Fenton runs her own company which, of course, is brilliant. The not so brilliant thing is that her ex, Saul Preston, wants to hire her company for a job abroad. Sorry, sorry, not her company; her. Probably not the most daring thing for an ex to ask you to do, but it’s a BIT random considering they haven’t had any dealings with each other for many years and Kate isn’t exactly his number one fan after the whole gallery, breasts debacle.

I took to Kate’s character straight away as she is so energetic, rather naive yet such a warm character. Definitely one of a kind and most certainly relatable. After all, we have all hidden from our exes before, right?
The relationship that Saul and Kate have is a teensy bit predictable and it’s clear that they have some unresolved issues to try to move on from. I worked out where the storyline was heading, but, even though that part of the storyline was semi clear, it was all of the situations in between that surprised me the most.

Even though the predictability factor was there, it was still hidden under a mist of secrecy. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t find a way of working out how to clear that mist. Well, except reading it of course, but you know what I mean. There seemed to be something that was being left unsaid but there were no clear pointers as to what it was; I LOVED that. I was hooked by the storyline anyway, but the added something something was such a genius addition. For me, that addition turned an otherwise predictable relationship into an unpredictable situation of sheer uniqueness and promise. It was different, it was quirky, it was humorous and it even brought a little warmth to my cheeks if you catch my drift!

. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, so much in fact that I read it in a couple of hours!
‘True Colours’ is THE ideal book to read if you just need to detach yourself from monotonous daily life and black and white personalities. Cleverly written with relatable and humorous situations, Elly Redding is an exciting author to watch for 2017. Never mind having a black and white personality when you can show your True Colours and live a little; just like Kate.

Thank you BrookCottageBooks & Elly.

Buy links:

Amazon UK // Amazon US

About the author.

Elly Redding was born in London but now lives in Bedfordshire with her husband.
Having originally written screenplays, her first novel, ‘True Colours’, won the Festival of Romance’s New Talent Award in 2014.
She enjoys tap dancing and watching the waves, although not necessarily at the same time!
She keeps in touch with her readers on Twitter – @ellyredding, and Facebook –
Website: ellyredding.com

Giveaway!!!


To be in with a chance of winning a e-copy of Elly Redding’s ‘True Colours’, follow the link to enter the giveaway. Good luck!
Click HERE to enter the giveaway!

#BlogTour! #Extract of #PerfectRemains by @Helen_Fields @AvonBooksUK #FeelingBrave

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#FeelingBrave?
For my stop on the blog tour for Perfect Remains by Helen Fields, I have an extract as well as the all important buying link, enjoy!

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Blurb.

On a remote Highland mountain, the body of Elaine Buxton is burning. All that will be left to identify the respected lawyer are her teeth and a fragment of clothing.

In the concealed back room of a house in Edinburgh, the real Elaine Buxton screams into the darkness…

Detective Inspector Luc Callanach has barely set foot in his new office when Elaine’s missing persons case is escalated to a murder investigation. Having left behind a promising career at Interpol, he’s eager to prove himself to his new team. But Edinburgh, he discovers, is a long way from Lyon, and Elaine’s killer has covered his tracks with meticulous care.

It’s not long before another successful woman is abducted from her doorstep, and Callanach finds himself in a race against the clock. Or so he believes … The real fate of the women will prove more twisted than he could have ever imagined.

Fans of Angela Marson, Mark Billingham and M. J. Aldridge will be gripped by this chilling journey into the mind of a troubled killer.

Extract:

The woman had given in more easily than he’d imagined. If it had been him, he’d have fought to the last, would have focused every ounce of anger and bile on resisting. She had pleaded, begged and in the end cried feebly and howled. Life was cheap, he thought, because the general populace failed to appreciate its value. He understood. He constantly pushed himself to the limits of his capability, strove to learn, to surpass. He burned with a thirst for knowledge like others craved money, making it hard to find an equal. That was why he’d been forced to kill. Without her sacrifice, he would forever have been surrounded by women unable to satisfy his intellect. 

He listened to a language CD as he drove. He liked to learn a new language each year. This time it was Spanish. Easier than many, he admitted to himself guiltily, but then he had an exhausting amount of other matters on his mind. He couldn’t be expected to pick up anything more complex whilst doing so much research and travelling. 

‘It’s not as if I’ve had any free time.’ A rabbit dashed out from the verge. He slammed on his brakes, less from a desire to avoid it than with the shock of the movement in his periph­eral vision. ‘Damn it!’ He was distracted and he’d been talking to himself again. He only did that when he was overtired. And stressed. He’d stayed up late arguing. Whoever thought it was an easy task persuading an intelligent woman to do what was best for her, was a fool. It was a challenge, even for a man of his faculties. The brighter the woman, the harder it was. But rewarding in the end. 

He pulled over at the outskirts of Edinburgh and drank passably warm coffee from a flask. He couldn’t risk going into a cafe. In spite of the lack of interest he was likely to generate – no one wanted to stare at a middle aged, saggy-bellied man with an unsightly bald patch – it would be stupid to have his likeness caught on CCTV returning to the city along this route. 

The Spanish voice droned in the background until he hit the off switch. It was such a big day, why shouldn’t he take a break for once? A lady was waiting at home, needing substantial care and attention. She wouldn’t be able to talk clearly for a while, in fact she would probably need speech therapy. Luckily for her, he was a gifted tutor in many fields. It would be his pleasure and privilege to assist.

Buy ‘Perfect Remains’ from Amazon – NOW

 

‘And now, the end is near..’ #SavingSophie #Blogtour @sam_carrington1 @avonbooksUK

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It is time, unfortunately, for the final curtain ladies and gents! I began to arrange this blog tour back in October, the first ever blog tour that I had organised, and it’s safe to say I was bricking it. I wanted it to be well received as both the author and book, are fabulous.

Kicking off the tour was a blogger a lot of you have come to know, and love; Jo Robertson from My Chestnut Reading Tree. From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU for all of the support during the tour and for kicking it off with a fantastic review.
In case you missed her review, you can read it HERE.

Day 2 of the tour saw two bloggers taking part:
Nerdish Mum who shared her review and a guest post which you can read HERE
AND
Lauren, who was popping her blog tour cherry with a review of the book. You can read it HERE.
HUGE thank you to both of the fabulous bloggers for supporting the tour and getting involved. Really means a lot.

Day 3 of the tour brought us to the PAPERBACK PUBLICATION DAY! Woot!! Two lovely bloggers took part on that day!
Linda from Linda’s Book Bag is sharing a guest post to make you think, as well as a review. You can read both HERE. Very special thanks to Linda for the constant retweeting throughout the day and all the shares. Phenomenal, thank you.
AND
The rather fabulous Emma, aka Damppebbles shared an extract and a review! You can read both HERE. I think she enjoyed the book, don’t you? ;). Thank you for being involved Emma, your enthusiasm for the tour was exceptional.

Onto day 4 and Susan Hampson (Books From Dusk till Dawn) shared her corker of a review which you can find HERE. Thank you so much for being involved in the tour Susan, and for your fabulous review!

On the fifth day of the blog tour, two bloggers gave to meeeee;

Swirl and Thread posted her review over on her blog, and it is incredible! You can read it HERE. The support that Mairead has given the blog tour and I, is amazing. Thank you so much for being involved!
AND
Emma Mitchell was talking about non-crime books with Sam Carrington, in the form of a guest post! Intrigued? You can read that HERE. Thank you for being involved in the tour and all of the sharing/tweets and general shouting, Emma!!

Day 6 saw another two bloggers supporting Sam Carrington and Saving Sophie! They were:

The rather lovely Victoria Goldman and her fabulous review (can be found HERE). Thank you for being involved in the tour Victoria!
AND
Rae Broughton was brave and brought up the ever so controversial topic of ‘book to film adaptations’ in the form of a guest post from the author herself! Take a nose HERE! Thank you Rae for being involved in the tour, and for being such a support! Means a lot.

Still with me? Good. That now brings us to today, the final day on the tour. Alongside my own stop on the tour, two other bloggers wanted to accompany me and give the tour a good send off. At the time of writing this, I didn’t have their post links on me, HOWEVER, you can hop on over to their twitter accounts for their posts.
BibliomaniacUK aka Katherine
Alison Drew
Thank you both for being extremely patient and being so eager to be on the tour, truly means a lot.

Thank you to all of the bloggers for taking part in the Saving Sophie Paperback Blog tour, your support and dedication to the tour and Sam has been incredible. Also, thank you to EVERYONE that has tweeted, shared blogger posts, liked the tour posts or supported the tour in any other way. Without those shares and constant retweeting, the blog tour wouldn’t have been as successful as it was.
Lastly, thank you to the author of Saving Sophie, Sam Carrington, for writing such an incredible book and for putting your trust in me to organise your blog tour!

Saving Sophie is out NOW in both e-book and paperback formats, both of which can be bought from Amazon UK. Or, if you’re ever in your local Asda, the paperback can be picked up there too. Perfect Christmas treat.

Thank you all again and please continue to shout about the book! Oh, go and buy it too obviously!!

#Tour! Guest post by author of #SavingSophie @Sam_carrington1 & #extract! @avonbooksuk

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I cannot believe that we are at the end of this blog tour already! This tour was set up to help celebrate the publication of Saving Sophie in PAPERBACK! If you pop into your local Asda, you’ll be able to pick up your very own copy! How brilliant is that!
Seeing as I am actually a tour stop today, please do keep an eye out for another post later with all the thank yous, and so on. For now though, I have a fab guest post from the lady herself, Sam Carrington, AND an extract from Saving Sophie! Enjoy!

My advice for aspiring writers
By Sam Carrington
 

As a writer, you often get asked for your top writing tips. I’ve compiled the ones I’ve given out so far in one list:

  *-*   Search for information online  

There’s so much advice readily available for writers! I spent a lot of time online searching for tips and ‘How To’ books, and I attended some workshops which were really useful. 

*-*  Get social media savvy 

I find social media a Godsend. It’s an amazing source of support that I would advise writers to tap in to because writing can feel a lonely process at times, particularly when you’re first starting out.

*-*  Join a writing group

This can be beneficial as gaining feedback is invaluable. I would say, however, that you might receive a lot of differing advice, so in the end it’s about learning what will work for you and what won’t – I think there’s an element of trial and error here! 

*-* DO NOT rush to submit your work to agents.  

It’s so exciting to have finished a novel, so much so that it can be hard to hold back! But agents receive so many submission packages you don’t want to give them an easy reason to reject yours. Make sure you read the individual agent’s requirements, have a strong covering letter, a succinct synopsis to the length they ask, and make sure your opening chapters are polished, polished, polished! I DID send my work too early and received a number of rejections quite quickly. Then I was lucky enough to have my work edited by a newly qualified editor and afterwards I began getting requests for my full manuscript. It can be costly, but personally I think it’s worth it.

*-* Enter competitions. 

I entered my opening chapters of Saving Sophie (then titled Portrayal) in to the CWA Debut Dagger award and was longlisted. It was an amazing feeling to have my work recognised. Being placed in a competition validates you as a writer and gives a huge boost to your confidence. Even though my agent was already interested in my writing, I believe that being able to tell her I’d been longlisted was a factor in her decision to sign me.

*-* Learn the art of patience

You’ll need a lot of it (although I’ve yet to master this myself!)

*-* Learn to take constructive criticism. 

But also know that a dozen people could read your MS and each one of them might suggest a different way to ‘improve’ it. You have to try and be subjective, sit back, think about the comments you’ve been given – if there are similarities, then it’s likely that part of your MS is an issue that needs reworking. But DO NOT change your MS after each and every bit of feedback. You’ll end up in a mess. If you can, get a professional editor, or use a manuscript assessment service. I was lucky to have an editor who had just qualified and was taking on work in order to gain experience. I realise this was great timing – and a lot of people won’t get such good luck. But money spent at this stage could prevent a lot of heartache later down the line when the rejections roll in! 

*-* Tell yourself every day that you are a writer.

Act like one, and you will be one! Grit, determination and self-belief are key. 

*-* Get organised and make time to write. 

Although I’m giving this tip – I am the world’s worst and need to heed my own advice. When people ask ‘So, you write full time then?’ and I answer ‘yes’, I’m sure they think that I do nothing other than sit at my keyboard and hammer out page after page of a novel. But there is so much more to being a writer than that. You might like to visit a blog piece I wrote on fitting everything in: (http://samcarrington.blogspot.co.uk/2016/09/settling-into-life-as-published-author.html) The key, I think, is to have a schedule that fits around your everyday life – and do your best to stick to it!

*-* Don’t forget to eat properly, drink and exercise!

I have been known to get to 4pm and realise I have only consumed coffee and chocolate bars. Add the sedentary lifestyle of sitting for hours at your desk, and you have a very unhealthy writer! Take regular breaks.  

*-* Write what you love to read. 

Coming up with around 90,000 words will be far easier if you are enjoying it. Your readers will be able to tell if you are bored, and they will be too. Skip the boring parts.

Above allENJOY WRITING AND NEVER GIVE UP!

To wet your appetite for the headfunk that is ‘Saving Sophie’, here is an extract for you to read, as well as the all important book links!

Extract from SAVING SOPHIE 

DI Wade slid back the curtain, slowly, as if it could make a difference. Prevent the inevitable for a moment longer, give this couple a few more precious seconds before their lives plunged into the black hole of grief. She’d been here before. Only once during her time as DI, thankfully, but it’d burned a cavity in her consciousness, which had never been fully refilled. She could still see the small body – battered, discoloured, the skin beginning to deteriorate; the image branded on to her retinas. His killer hadn’t been found, the case now a cold one. Lindsay Wade wasn’t prepared to let it happen again.

Standing inches away from Liz Howard, Lindsay could feel her shaking. Not a tremble, but a full-body tremor. Her husband held on to her, to stop her collapsing. A few hours ago, her daughter was merely missing. A terrible thing: the fear of what might be, the not knowing, the constant eyes peeled in the hopes of catching a glimpse. Some people went through it for years, never finding their loved ones. Did it make these parents lucky that their daughter had at least been found? They might gain an element of closure. But then, the next stage: who did this to their beautiful girl? And what if the perpetrator was never brought to justice – what kind of closure was that?

Lindsay placed a hand on Liz’s shoulder. ‘Are you ready?’ The words seemed ridiculous even as she spoke them. How can anyone ever be ready to view a dead body – a body they are expecting to be their child? The woman and man took hold of each other’s hands, took deep breaths, and stepped closer to the window.

Lindsay closed her eyes, not able to watch their pain. She waited for the scream she knew was coming.

A brief, sharp wail emitted from Liz’s open mouth before the man lost his grip and she slumped to the floor.

Featured Image -- 6267Blurb.

A teenage girl is missing. Is your daughter involved, or is she next?

Your daughter is in danger. But can you trust her?

When Karen Finch’s seventeen-year-old daughter Sophie arrives home after a night out, drunk and accompanied by police officers, no one is smiling the morning after. But Sophie remembers nothing about how she got into such a state.

Twelve hours later, Sophie’s friend Amy has still not returned home. Then the body of a young woman is found.

Karen is sure that Sophie knows more than she is letting on. But Karen has her own demons to fight. She struggles to go beyond her own door without a panic attack.

As she becomes convinced that Sophie is not only involved but also in danger, Karen must confront her own anxieties to stop whoever killed one young girl moving on to another – Sophie.

Buy:
Amazon UK
WHSmith Online
Amazon US


@JennyKaneAuthor talks coffee stops as part of her Christmas Collection #Tour! @AccentPress

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I get the pleasure of being the first blog to kick off Jenny Kane’s tour for her Christmas Collection! How exciting! Without further ado, I am thrilled to hand over the post to the lovely lady herself, Jenny Kane!

Coffee Stops at Christmas
Jenny Kane

Many thanks for inviting me to visit your wonderful blog today, Kaisha.
This is the first stop on a blog tour which features my three novella anthology, Jenny Kane’s Christmas Collection.
There is something very special about the Christmas season- the extra levels of hope, love
and kindness the season engenders make it the perfect time in which to set a romantic story. Writing the three seasonal novellas, that form part of the Another Cup of…series, was tremendous fun. I swear that when I wrote them all – even though each tale was created in the July preceding its release – I could almost smell the mulled wine. I certainly got into the mood by humming Christmas carols while I wrote. As I write all my stories from the corner of a cafe in my local town, this caused much bemusement and amusement amongst my fellow coffee shop dwellers.

I adore writing in cafes, so it was perhaps inevitable that I’d end up creating an entire series of books centring on a coffee house and its staff and customers. At Christmas time in particular, cafes are a haven of people watching potential. As I sit in my writing corner, I am forever speculating about what might be inside the vast number of shopping bags beneath the tables. I marvel at the speed at which dedicated Christmas gift purchasers arrive, down their drinks, and go!
Frequently, I have no choice but to overhear the simmering discussion’s that are destined to row into full fledged rows by the time Christmas dinner comes around. Then again, I often smile as I hear parents and grandparents urging their offspring to be good while they grab a much needed five minutes sanctuary from the stress of the season, with mentions of how Father Christmas rewards good children…

Coffee stops are always a mine of inspiration for the writer.
Coffee stops at Christmas are a gold mine just waiting to be tapped!

jkBlurb for the Jenny Kane Christmas Collection-

There is something very special about Christmas…
Jenny Kane’s Christmas Collection combines all three seasonal shorts from Jenny’s best-
selling Another Cup of … series in one festive anthology. In ‘Another Cup of Christmas’, we return to Pickwicks Coffee House in London, the setting
for Jenny’s bestselling novel Another Cup of Coffee. Together with old friends Kit, Amy, Scott and Peggy, we meet new Pickwicks waitress Megan, who’s in charge of organising a charity event for the local hospital…is romance as well as seasonal goodwill in the air?

‘Christmas in the Cotswolds’ sees Megan, now an established face at Pickwicks, travelling to the beautiful Cotswold countryside after an emergency call from her friend Izzie. Can Megan help Izzie pull off the perfect Christmas at her Arts and Crafts Centre – and save the business from disaster?

Kit Lambert, Pickwicks’ writer-in- residence, takes centre stage in ‘Christmas at the Castle’. Already nervous about appearing at her very first literary festival, in the grounds of a magnificent Scottish castle at Christmas time, Kit suddenly finds herself co-organising the whole thing – and trying to repair old friendships – with the deadline fast approaching…

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Another Cup of Christmas was the first festive special to follow on from my bestselling
novel, Another Cup of Coffee. (It isn’t necessary to have read the first novel to enjoy the
Christmas stories.) Another Cup of Christmas is set five years after the first story of life, love and friendship in and around Pickwicks Coffee House in Richmond, London. Café owners Peggy and Scott and their waitress Megan, are organising a Christmas fundraising auction for the local ospital to thank them for all the help they gave Scott after he was involved in a traffic accident. So, rather than simply serving copious amounts of coffee to Pickwicks’ writer in residence, Kit, as she writes away in the corner of the cafe, Megan is spending most of her days emailing, Nick, the hospital liaison clerk about the charity event. As the auction draws nearer, Megan becomes more and more curious about meeting Nick in person…

Here’s how Another Cup of Christmas begins…

Having politely escaped her third ‘So what are you doing for Christmas?’ conversation of the day, Megan Johnson was retreating back to the counter when she spotted Pickwicks’ most regular customer sit up from her work and brush a stray red hair from her eyes.
Knowing it had been at least half an hour since Kit’s caffeine addiction had been
attended to, the waitress swiped up the percolator jug and headed in her direction.
Without bothering to ask if it was required, Megan poured the steaming liquid with
practised care, before taking advantage of the lull in Christmas shopping trade, and sitting
down opposite her friend. ‘Going OK?’
Swivelling the laptop round to face Megan, Kit rubbed the back of her neck, ‘I’m
sure I’ve missed something. What do you think?’

Pickwicks Festive Fundraiser!
Spoil Yourself With An Afternoon of Pickwicks’ Finest Festive Fare.
In Aid of the Royal Free Hospital’s Spinal Ward.
Saturday 22 nd December from 2pm.
Deluxe Buffet And Festive Fundraising Fun!
Tickets are ONLY £25 per person
Don’t miss out!
Book your place at Pickwicks Coffee Shop, Richmond – NOW!!

Megan scanned the poster. ‘Oh, that’s fabulous! I thought you were writing your latest
novel.’
‘To tell you the truth, that’s exactly what I should be doing, but Peggy asked me to
do some publicity for the fundraiser and I thought I’d better get on with it. Time seems to be dissolving. It’ll be the 22nd before we know it.’
‘I know what you mean.’ Megan started to collect the dishes left by a couple who’d
just vacated a nearby table. ‘The next three weeks are going to fly by.’
‘Two and a half weeks!’
‘Oh, hell! Really?’
‘That’s why I want to get these done; otherwise everyone will be too booked up with
their own celebrations to have time to come.’ Gesturing towards the kitchen, Kit asked,
‘How’s Scott doing out there, or shouldn’t I ask?’
Megan’s permanent smile widened further across her lightly freckled face. ‘He’s
amazing. I have no idea how he does it. The temperature in that kitchen is tropical, and yet
Scott’s still beaming that massive toothy grin of his. I’m seriously beginning to think he is
physically unable to stop cooking! Surely he must have pre-prepared as much as he can for
the fundraiser by now?’
Kit nodded. ‘He probably has, but Peggy is getting paranoid there won’t be enough
food.’ Glancing around, checking that Megan wasn’t needed by a customer for a moment, Kit pointed to a fresh pile of abandoned cups. ‘If I clear those, will you have a proper read of the poster? I’m sure I’ve missed something obvious but I can’t put my finger on it?’
Kit was already standing up and taking a tray from Megan’s hands before the
waitress said, ‘On one condition.’
‘Which is?’
‘I can check my emails? I’m supposed to be liaising with the hospital about this for
Peggy, but we’ve been so busy over the last few days I haven’t had time to see if Nick has
got back to me about how many of the ward staff are coming.’
‘Nick?’
Megan silently cursed her inability to prevent the involuntary warm pink blush that
hit her pale cheeks, ‘Yeah, he’s the admin guy for the ward that cared for Scott after his
accident.’
‘Nice, is he?’ Kit gently teased the petite blonde waitress, wondering, not for the
first time, why someone as kind and pretty as Megan hadn’t been snapped up years ago.
‘I’ve never met him, but he seems friendly. Well, he does via email and over the
phone at least.’
‘You’ve spoken to him then?’
‘There are loads of things to sort out.’ Megan, knowing that the crush she’d
developed on Nick’s Irish accent was utterly ridiculous, turned her full attention to the poster on the screen before her…

****

I hope you enjoyed that little festive taster!
All three of my seasonal novellas, Another Cup of Christmas, Christmas in the Cotswolds
and Christmas at the Castle, can be read in isolation, or in order. They can be purchased as
separate downloads, together, within Jenny Kane’s Christmas Collection.
And if you love reading them as much as I loved writing them, then you could finish off the
series, by searching out the final tale in the series, Another Glass of Champagne.
A full length novel, Another Glass of Champagne, brings big changes for all of the Pickwicks team- especially Jack and Amy…
Happy reading.
Many thanks again for letting me visit today.
Jenny xx

Now you can see why I let Jenny take over the post today, she had every single thing organised, as well as a little festive taster!  Thank you Jenny! I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling a tad festive after reading this, the book taster has piqued my interest! So much so, I need to buy it! Where oh where will I get the link to be able to do that?
Ta-daaaaaa:
Buy Jenny’s Christmas Collection – Amazon UK
Buy Jenny’s Christmas Collection – Amazon US

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About the author.

Jenny Kane is the author the contemporary romance Another Glass of Champagne, (Accent
Press, 2016), Christmas at the Castle (Accent Press, 2015), the bestselling novel Abi’s
House (Accent Press, 2015), the modern/medieval time slip novel Romancing Robin Hood
(Accent Press, 2014), the bestselling novel Another Cup of Coffee (Accent Press, 2013), and
its novella length sequels Another Cup of Christmas (Accent Press, 2013), Christmas in the
Cotswolds (Accent, 2014), and Christmas at the Castle (Accent, 2016). These three seasonal
specials are now available in one boxed set entitled Jenny Kane’s Christmas Collection
(Accent, 2016). Jenny’s fifth full length romance novel, Abi’s Neighbour, will be published in June 2017. Jenny’s first medieval murder mystery, The Outlaw’s Ransom will be published in December 2016 under the pen name, Jennifer Ash.
Jenny is also the author of quirky children’s picture books There’s a Cow in the Flat
(Hushpuppy, 2014) and Ben’s Biscuit Tin (Hushpuppy, 2015).
Jenny also writes erotica as Kay Jaybee.

Keep your eye on Jenny’s blog for more details.


#Promo! Saved by the firefighter by Rachel Brimble (@RachelBrimble) @BrookCottagebks

sbtff

EXTRACT

 

The security alarm chimed. Someone had stepped inside the studio. Exhaling a
heavy breath, Izzy pulled back her shoulders, lifted her head and forced a smile.
“Hi, how can I…” Her heart stopped. Trent Palmer stood just inside the door. “Why
are you here?”
His dark green gaze bored relentlessly into hers, his strong jaw set as he reached
behind him and shut the door. “I came by to see how you’re doing.”
Traitorous attraction skittered over the surface of her skin before Izzy turned and
strode toward the corner she used for staging portrait shots. The fluffy bunnies, huge
furry dice and toys she’d used to relax a toddler earlier now felt macabre.
She spun around, clutching a teddy bear. “The same as I was doing yesterday and
the day before. I told you I don’t want to see you. I don’t ever want to see you. Why

do you keep coming back?”

 

He came closer, his gaze locked on hers. “You have to talk to me. I was Robbie’s
friend. There was nothing—”
“You could do. Fine. I get it, but why do you feel the need to keep coming in here
and checking up on me? What do you want me to do? Dance in the street? Kick up
my heels at the fairground? God, just leave me alone.”
“There’s a beach party tonight. I want you to come with me.”
She stared. Why him? Why would a man she really liked—a damn
firefighter—have to pursue her like she was someone worth pursuing? “No.”
He looked at the equipment covering the desk alongside him. He lifted and
replaced a camera, the hunch of his wide shoulders indicating his discomfort. Izzy

hated that she drew no satisfaction from that…only sadness.

sbtff1

How can she forgive him for what he didn’t do? 
Photographer Izzy Cooper feels as frozen as her pictures. Trent Palmer might be the
hottest firefighter in Templeton Cove, but she can never face him again. Not after he
failed to save her brother. But when they’re forced together by a calendar shoot, the
sparks between them are undeniable. 
Izzy knows it’s not fair to blame Trent for the tragedy, but opening herself up to loss
again isn’t something she’s prepared to do, no matter how determined Trent is to show her that pain is part of life and that love—their love—can make any suffering

bearable.

 

Amazon | Amazon US | B & N

**GIVEAWAY**

If you fancy being in with a chance of winning a copy of the book and a tote bag, all you need to do is enter the giveaway!

Enter the giveaway

About the author.

 

Rachel lives with her husband and two teenage daughters in a small town near Bath
in the UK. After having several novels published by small US presses, she secured
agent representation in 2011. Since 2013, she has had six books published by
Harlequin Superromance (Templeton Cove Stories) and recently signed a contract
for two more. She also has four Victorian romances with eKensington/Lyrical Press.
Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Romance Writers of
America, and was selected to mentor the Superromance finalist of So You Think You
Can Write 2014 contest. When she isn’t writing, you’ll find Rachel with her head in a
book or walking the beautiful English countryside with her family. Her dream place to
live is Bourton-on- the-Water in South West England.
She likes nothing more than connecting and chatting with her readers and fellow
romance writers. Rachel would love to hear from you!

Rachel’s links:

Facebook | Facebook Street Team | Twitter | Goodreads author page. | Blog | Website

#Tour! It’s Not You, It’s Them by @PortiaMacIntosh @LoveReadRomance @HQDigitalUK

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Oh Em Geeee!!!! It’s that time again -bounces-, another book from the oh so fabulous Portia MacIntosh!! I am absolutely thrilled, and super excited to be todays stop on the tour for such a wonderful lady’s new release; ‘Its Not You, It’s Them’! Review and excerpt anyone? Silly question eh!

its-not-you-its-them-cover
Blurb.

First comes love. Then comes family…

After a lifetime of kissing frogs, Roxie Pratt has given up on finding her own fairytale romance. That is, until she meets her very own Prince Charming, Mark Wright, and he sweeps Roxie off her feet!
So when Mark finally gets down on one knee and pops the question, there’s only one thing left to do: meet the family! And when everything has been picture-perfect so far, what could possibly go wrong…?

What does TWG think?

Wow! I thought that Portia had set the bar high with her previous book, ‘Truth Or Date’! I was rather apprehensive (yet very excited) about Portia’s newest book because I loved her previous one so much, I was hoping this one would be similar in writing style and wouldn’t disappoint. SQUEAL! It was similar yet even better than her previous book! I didn’t even think that was possible (it was fab fyi).

Roxie has met her Prince Charming, her one and only, the man of her dreams (you catch my drift) with Mark Wright. Where Roxie is concerned, he most certainly lives up to his last name (even though I’m sure a lot of you will be thinking TOWIE!). The happy couple is living in their own loved up bubble and are pretty certain that nothing will come along to burst their bubble. Well, certainty isn’t guaranteed really is it? Especially when the time has come…to push the button….of her boyfriends parents house! Dun dun dunnnnnnnn!!!

I snlaughed by the end of the first page, no joke. I am however, starting to wonder what goes through Portia’s mind given the fact she can reduce someone to tears of laughter in a few sentences. Genius.

Roxie and Mark’s relationship is fuelled by their love of Ann Summers…and some, as well as being super lovey dovey. I honestly thought that I would find it too sickly sweet, but Portia’s incredible one liners ensured that I wasn’t shouting at the book to ‘get a room!’. I did feel quite sorry for Roxie many times throughout the book due to the way that she was being treated, but then Portia being Portia, ended up making me laugh whilst Roxie was feeling sad! I’m not mean, honestly! It was just incredibly hard NOT to laugh during this book as every single thing was followed by hints of sarcasm or the odd innuendo. Despite that, the book was an honest representation of what meeting the parents can be like, from a female point of view.

I am actually laughing right now as I write this! When the storyline concentrates on the events with Mark’s family, actions spoke far louder than words and Mark’s family seemed to be making a name for themselves. An unpleasant name. Don’t get me wrong, they weren’t evil, they were just damn right rude, especially when Mark played into their hands! The way that Roxie handled herself in those particular situations spoke volumes. She was just being herself yet showing the readers that things like that do actually happen when you go and meet the parents. Well, not all of the antics that Roxie engaged in, I’m sure..

I had no idea whether Mark and Roxie’s relationship would stand the test of time, especially given the fact that Roxie felt like seducing her boyfriend in his parents house, multiple times! Absolutely hilarious, cringey and just….hilarious. Disturbing too, but as I said above, I wonder what goes through the author’s head! Oh to be able to mind read!! It is quite possible that many readers may be able to pick up some tips from this book! If you do, please don’t tell me about them haha!

Portia writes such brilliant, engaging and truly hilarious novels, I never want them to end once I start reading. ‘It’s Not You, It’s Them’ has got to be my favourite book Ms.MacIntosh has written because of the genius one liners, fabulous storyline and on point situations. Honestly. I absolutely LOVED reading this book, everything was perfect. My sort of book from start to finish, Portia MacIntosh has delivered yet again, if she doesn’t get an award for this and her humour I will be stunned. It’s Not You, It’s Them has found its way into my Top 5 books of all time and I cannot recommend this book enough. You HAVE to read it.

Thank you LRR, Portia and HQ!

Book Links: Amazon | Amazon UK | B&N | Google Play | Goodreads

Author Info:
Portia MacIntosh has been ‘making stuff up’ for as long as she can remember – or so she says. Whether it was blaming her siblings for that broken vase when she was growing up, blagging her way backstage during her rock chick phase or, most recently, whatever justification she can fabricate to explain away those lunchtime cocktails, Portia just loves telling tales. After years working as a music journalist, Portia decided it was time to use her powers for good and started writing novels. Taking inspiration from her experiences on tour with bands, the real struggle of dating in your twenties and just trying to survive as an adult human female generally, Portia writes about what it’s really like for women who don’t find this life stuff as easy as it seems.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
Tour Link

Extract of ‘It’s Not You, It’s Them’ by Portia MacIntosh.

‘God, I’m bored,’ I whine, like a petulant child. ‘I hate long car journeys.’
Mark laughs. ‘We’re five minutes from home, Roxie,’ he reminds me. ‘And fifteen minutes from your parents’ house. Still nervous?’
‘Still nervous,’ I reply.
It just feels so strange to be meeting the parents after getting engaged, like we’re doing things in the wrong order.
‘They’ll love you,’ Mark tells me for the millionth time. ‘It’s a long journey; you can’t spend it worrying.’
‘I know, I know. At least we’re making a stop to see my parents, then we can get a nice, warm coffee in us. It’s freezing!’
‘Oh, no, I know how this goes,’ Mark laughs. ‘You’ll drink too much, and we’ll have to stop so you can use the loo every ten miles…’
‘Oi,’ I laugh. ‘I’m a grown-ass woman. I’ll be thirty next year. I’m fully in control of my bladder, thank you.’

I shudder a little, at the thought of turning thirty. ‘Next year’ makes it sound like it’s a long way away, but it’s December now, and my birthday is in February. Mark doesn’t think it’s a big deal – he’s thirty-two, and assures me that nothing changes when you hit the big 3-0. He’s promised me that my face won’t instantly wrinkle, that I won’t become boring overnight, and that I won’t suddenly be turned away from night clubs for looking too old. While I fear that, as I grow older, things are only going to go downhill for me looks-wise, Mark only gets better with age. Mark is the very definition of tall, dark and handsome, and even though a few grey hairs are starting to creep in on the sides of his head – my God – it looks so sexy. My newly cut blonde lob might have a few greys in there, maybe, but I wouldn’t know because I have my hair routinely highlighted. If I did have grey hair showing, though, it would not look good. On Mark it looks hot and this is beyond unfair. Like he’s not already out of my league; as we grow older, the fact we’re in different leagues is only going to seem more obvious. Can’t wait for the day he’s walking around all George Clooney and I’m looking like Mrs Doubtfire.

A Brush With Death – Malcom Parnell #Extract @paintauthor @3ppublishing1 @emmamitchellfpr

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TWG is one of the blogs to be kicking off the blog tour for ‘A Brush With Death’ by Malcom Parnell, and I am bringing you an extract from the book! As well as the important to buy links of course!  Thank you to Emma Mitchell for inviting me on the tour!

A BRUSH WITH DEATH by Malcolm Parnell

 PROLOGUE

25 years ago

The boy pulled back the curtains and peered through his bedroom window. The view was to most eyes nothing spectacular, but for him it was magical. Straight ahead he could see across open farmland. Over to his left, separated from the farm by a meandering brook lay an area of marsh land. Mundane and of no practical value to some, to him it was a very special place, a place where all things were possible, a place where you might encounter lizards, snakes and all manner of creeping things. Rats and voles lived there and further on where the earth sloped upwards onto drier ground, foxes, rabbits and who knows what else roamed free. The boy watched his world unfold as light from the sun transformed the grass from a colourless mass to every shade of green. Each blade dancing as the lightest of breezes touched the tips bringing movement like the rolling sea.

Inside, the house was quiet. The only other occupant was his father and he had yet to awake, still clinging to the last vestiges of sleep. His day had not yet begun, but when it did the boy doubted it would involve snakes and lizards.

…………………………….

Water droplets fell like diamonds shimmering in the morning sun as the small net swung round in an arc and then hovered expectantly over the waiting glass jar. Peering into the net, the boy held his breath as he examined his prize. Scooped from its watery lair the great crested newt clambered up the sides of the net before falling back exposing its fiery belly. With a shout of triumph the boy plucked the newt from the net and dropped it into the jar. Holding it up to his face both boy and newt scrutinized each other, the captor and the captured caught in a moment of time, both bathed in the glow of the rising sun, one relishing it, the other, desperate to hide.

The stream gleamed and sparkled, bent and fragmented by stones and tree roots, it seemed to go forever twisting like a coil of rope through the meadows.  Where he was standing was the widest point and the water was calmer here among the shallows, providing the perfect home for frogs and fish. The reed fringed banks giving way to a vast bed of water lilies that constantly nudged and swayed against his wellington boots. Further on, the banks grew more steeply and behind the blackthorn bush the lichen covered bricks of the old bridge could just be seen. How long the bridge had spanned the stream no-one knew. Neither could anyone fathom the reason for it being there. No road ran across it and either side was overgrown with wild blackthorn and holly. Those of a fanciful nature suggested it was a bridge to another world, but there seemed nothing other worldly about its overgrown walls and wild flower covered floor, although it is true that if one wandered into the darkness beneath the arch a gap in the bricks could be found. The boy had once explored this further, but after negotiating the almost un-penetrable array of spikey leaves and thorns, he eventually came disappointedly into the open air of the meadow which could have been accessed by the easier route of skirting the bridge further downstream.

The boy gave the newt one final look and lowered the jar into the water. He watched as the newt eager to be free, swam down into the depths and disappeared amongst the vegetation.

 A sudden splash caught his attention and without turning his head he said, “You came then?”  

From behind, a cheerful voice said, “’Course. I said I would, didn’t I?”

“I thought you were going to be dragged off shopping.”

“Nah, made a bit of a fuss. Mum chucked me out. So, Peter me lad, it’s you and me.”

The boy turned to greet his friend. John lived a few doors down from him and they had grown up together.  People in the street saw it as a strange alliance as the boys were like chalk and cheese, both physically and in temperament. His friend was short and dark with a mercurial nature, subject to whims and flights of fancy. His attention span was short and he got bored easily which often led him into trouble as his need for thrills caused conflict with the elders. Peter, on the other hand was tall and willowy, prone to deep thought and consideration. He was a shy boy and considered by some to be easily led, but he had a sharp mind and inquisitive nature. 

“Not caught anything then?” his friend asked surveying the now empty jam jar.

“I had a crested, just let it go.”

“Have you had a go for Billy?”

“No not yet.”

Billy was a fish, a bullhead, commonly known as a millers thumb. He inhabited a half-submerged rusty oil drum that lay on its side further downstream, here the brook flowed through a small coppice. As bullheads go he was big, at least the size of the boy’s hand and though often seen, was elusive, as the water was deeper there and once the bottom was disturbed, clouds of silt would obscure the view.

“Still, there’s plenty of time.”

The boys grinned. Today was the first day of the school holidays and the immediate future held six glorious weeks of climbing trees, hunting, fishing and exploring. New worlds would be discovered and the prospect was mouth-watering.

The next few hours were spent engrossed in the world of water. Taking turns, they pushed and prodded the fishing net through lily beds and rushes. Many fish were caught, including – to both boys delight – a small jack pike weighing around 1lb. By the middle of the afternoon they had wandered about half a mile upstream and had come to the spot where the blackthorn embraced the old bridge. Climbing out of the water, the boys scrambled through the thick thorns and holly roots before emerging, scratched and torn under the dark recesses of the bridge. Sitting on the moss covered stones they each produced packs of sandwiches and bottled water from their jacket pockets.

“This bridge is creepy.” His friend muttered, chewing on ham and tomato.

“Yeah it’s brill.” Peter answered also chewing on his lunch.

“It’s supposed to be haunted. Tommy Greenway says that a long time ago some kids disappeared from somewhere around here.”

Peter shrugged. He too had heard the story, but was unimpressed.

“Tommy Greenway’s a girlie. He’s scared of his own shadow.”

“Yeah, but, you’ve gotta admit it’s a funny place.  For one thing there’s no sound. I don’t like it, I’m going back.”

“What? Why?

“Don’t like it.” John got up to leave and turned his head. “You comin’?”

“No, not yet, I’ll catch you up.” Peter answered and watched his friend back track through the water until he reached the part where the brambles gave way to clear meadow. Soon John was out of sight.

Peter stopped chewing and tilted his head. It was true, it was quiet, the silence only punctuated by the occasional bickering of squabbling coots further upstream. But then, a sound could be heard, difficult to make out at first, a sort of scraping noise. The sound a knife makes when being honed to a sharp point across a sharpening stone. Peter quickly looked around, his eyes wide trying to penetrate the gloom. Then, terror struck as a shadow emerged from the walls of the bridge and moved towards him.

To buy links:

Amazon UK | Amazon US