Dark Heroes of Romance, a Guest Post by Lindsay J. Pryor, author of the Blackthorn Series

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I’m thrilled to welcome Lindsay J. Pryor to Linda’s Book Bag as her penultimate Blackthorn novel, Blood Bound, is released today, 21st September 2016, from Bookouture. Blood Bound is available for purchase in e-book here.

Today, to celebrate Blood Bound, Lindsay is telling us all about romantic heroes.

Blood Bound

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Love can be heaven. Or it can hurt like hell.

For exiled angel Jessie, falling for Eden Reece has been her salvation. When she discovers that her angel tears, used to heal Eden, are actually poisoning him the burden of guilt is crushing.

Jessie is determined to make things right and, with Eden by her side, they are a formidable team. But with Blackthorn surrounded by an impenetrable barrier and the army of Sirius Throme closing in, their mission is a desperate one. When Jessie discovers they are up against her own kind too, it looks impossible.

Eden and Jessie don’t just need a cure, they need a way out – and have less than 48 hours to find both.

Eden will fight to the last to protect Jessie, but when they are captured and separated, demons from his past return to haunt him. Suddenly, Jessie is forced to question everything she knows about the man she loves.

Yet the most shattering twist is still to come. Because what you care about most can be your biggest weakness.

For Blackthorn to survive, either Jessie or Eden will have to make the greatest sacrifice of all…

The thrilling penultimate story in the Blackthorn series will leave you breathless.

Dark Heroes of Fiction

A Guest Post by Lindsay J. Pryor

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What constitutes a hero in romantic fiction? I’ve always found this an interesting topic for discussion amongst writers and readers. Does the hero always have to be the good guy? Does he need to shine as such from the very beginning? Is there any set ideal or formula? Fortunately not. There are readers and writers alike who readily embrace the amazingly diverse and eclectic genre that is romance – and that includes its heroes too.

I write the Blackthorn dark paranormal romance series. I began my journey into romance with the classics. My first dark romantic hero was Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights. At the age of 17, I remember participating in discussions in my English Literature classes about what could constitute him as a hero. We had many a debate as to whether Heathcliff could be referred to as such, and not least because his behaviour was so despicable at times. That’s not how they were supposed to behave! They’re supposed to be good and kind and self-sacrificing, let alone gentle and tender with the heroine and those she cares about. Heroes have to be almost super-human, even better than everyone else – that’s the whole point, surely? I guess it was those types of debates that first made literary characters so fascinating for me – not least the influence of reader perceptions and belief systems on how a hero is received.

I’ve always veered towards darker heroes because they intrigue me the most. I love flawed characters. I want my hero to work for his title; I don’t want him to come ready made to save the day. For me, characters need to develop and evolve, no matter how subtly. I want to be able to understand them, not necessarily agree with them.

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It was inevitable dark heroes would play an integral role in my Blackthorn series – they’d have to be dark to survive in the cruel world that has been inflicted upon them. I don’t want my heroes and heroines to have an easy time. I want them to fight external and, more importantly, internal conflict to be with the one they love. I wanted my Blackthorn characters to battle their hearts and their beliefs, as well as the system they live in, to justify their feelings. The higher the stakes, the better the tension and conflict. I wanted my love interests to pose huge risks to each other not just because of what they are but who they are – questioning each other’s very nature. I find it even more powerful when there is every reason for them not to be together, but they still manage to pull through. There’s nothing like falling in love, let alone staying in love, against the odds in romance.

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Fortunately, as each Blackthorn book is part of a series with an overarching plot, each building on the previous one, it allows all of my characters to grow at different rates. Some of my heroes might be adverse to the light but I have the advantage of having glimpsed into their futures and knowing they’re worth the struggle.

Thank you so much for hosting me and Blackthorn, Linda 🙂

My absolute pleasure Lindsay!

About Lindsay J. Pryor

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Lindsay J. Pryor is the author of seven novels in her Amazon bestselling Blackthorn series. Her complex, dark and gritty urban PNR has achieved numerous Gothic and PNR Amazon number ones both in the UK and the US, thousands of 5 star reviews, and more than thirty blog nominations and awards. Blood Shadows – Lindsay’s debut novel – was optioned by US film giants Relativity Media.

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Lindsay has been creating stories since she was nine years old, having quickly decided that fantasy was more interesting than reality. More than thirty years later, writing remains her passion.

Lindsay is a qualified Psychology lecturer and English teacher. Before becoming a full-time author, she taught for eighteen years, primarily to improve literacy for children with special needs. She was born and grew up in Wales but now lives in England with her husband, their rescue bunny and a plethora of wild woodland creatures.

To find out more about Lindsay or her books, please visit her website find her on Facebook, where she regularly chats to her readers, or follow her on Twitter.

A Guest Post by Wendy Robertson, author of The Bad Child

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I’m very pleased to welcome author Wendy Robertson to Linda’s Book Bag today. Wendy’s latest novel The Bad Child was published in August and is available in e-book and paperback for purchase here.

Today Wendy tells us all about being a writing magpie and about some of the women who aren’t necessarily ‘good’ but who have inspired her writing, including The Bad Child.

The Bad Child

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We’re all experts in childhood. After all weren’t we all once children?

But … Twelve year old Dee – is a misfit in her family. Her parents see her stubborn willfulness as a source of chaos in the household. It’s the last straw when she decides not to speak. As her life begins to unravel Dee tells us her own story – how she begins to rescue herself from her own life. But she’s not alone on her journey. Travelling with her is a woman who throws pots and a dog called Rufus. Then there are Dee’s drawing books and characters she’s met in stories she has read…

Do Mothers Have To Be Angels?

A Guest Post from Wendy Robertson

Writers are like magpies. We pick up – and bury deep – tiny, glittering gems of observation and memory only to find them resurfacing to become subconsciously available for some new and quite different story.

So I have been thinking about prison lately.

I met this girl in prison, let’s call her June: tall and tough and a bit of a leader in there. She wrote with me a bit, talked with me rather more. She once told me she’d called her daughter Armani because it was a glamorous name. I was puzzled. ‘The suits?’ I said. ‘No. The actress,’ she said. She meant Hermione.

She was one of the many young mothers I met and worked with in prison. The dilemmas of motherhood were big marker ‘inside’, connected as they were to a core of distress in the women’s lives: waiting for their mothers and sisters to bring their children to play on visiting day; using tooth-paste to pin pictures and letters from their children on their cork boards; enduring the heartbreak of seeing their children for the last time before they’re taken into care and sometimes more permanently off for adoption. Middle-aged and middle-class women endured all this, as well being in prison when their children are studying for their O and A levels or graduating from university.

If love were the only criteria for motherhood I would look on most of these women as good mothers. Angels in some waysSurvivors certainlyBut it’s important to know that these women did not come to the role of motherhood unscarred. When I was in prison up to 80% of the women had documented references to their being physically, mentally or psychologically harmed in their childhood, youth or young adulthood. June once said to me, ‘The scars on my arms ain’t nothing to the scars inside.’

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Ten years later all these experiences had distilled in my mind sufficiently for me to write my novel Paulie’s Web.    This fictional story is about Paulie Smith who, freed after serving six years of a life sentence, embraces the struggle to accept life ‘on the out’. She reflects on her time ‘inside’, focusing on four very different women whom she first met on the white prison van. Then she goes in search of them ‘on the out’ and we discover their own tragedies, their own recovery, their present lives and the things that still bind them together.

Now all these glittering insights have again re-surfaced in my mind as I was completed my new novel The Bad Child  – the story of 12 year old Dee, the middle child of an affluent, privileged family who suddenly decides not to speak.  She causes chaos and disturbance in her family as she battles from within the powerlessness of childhood to redefine her own life.

I have to say this glittering magpie-hoard from an over-observant childhood, maidenhood and adulthood has served me very well as a novelist. Because my life has been a mansion of many rooms rather than a hut with one window I don’t restrict myself to any genre. In my search to write the truth I have refused to ‘brand’ myself – term regrettably overused in modern book marketing.

That makes me a happy and fulfilled magpie…

I have found some comfort in these words:  ‘An unhappy childhood was not an unsuitable preparation for my future, in that it demanded a constant wariness, the habit of observation, and the attendance on moods and tempers; the noting of discrepancies between speech and action; a certain reserve of demeanour; and automatic suspicion of sudden favours.’   Rudyard Kipling.

About Wendy Robertson

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In the middle of her writing career Wendy spent five years as Writer in Residence in a women’s prison. This was a life-changing experience for her – broadening her view, deepening her empathy and her understanding of the whole of society. One outcome of that experience was her novel Paulie’sWeb This, while fictional, tells some truths about the varied lives of many of the interesting and wise women she met in prison.

You can follow Wendy on Twitter, visit her blog here and read an extract from The Bad Child on the Damselfly blog.

An Interview with Paul Crampton, Author of The Dream Messiah

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I’m very pleased to welcome Paul Crampton to Linda’s Book Bag today to tell me about his writing and his novel The Dream Messiah in particular. The Dream Messiah was published in December 2015 and is available for purchase in e-book and paperback here.

The Dream Messiah

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Two completely unrelated young Londoners – Hamila Rashid, a black, ex-Somalian refugee living in the UK – and Tony Hammond-Jones, a white, middle-class bishop’s son from rural Hertfordshire – begin having recurring dreams featuring each other. When they finally manage to meet, they slowly realise that they share a destiny that has the potential to change the world forever.

An Interview with Paul Crampton

Hi Paul. Thank you so much for agreeing to answer some questions on my blog about your writing and The Dream Messiah in particular.   

Firstly, please could you tell me a little about yourself?

Hello Linda: I was born in Canterbury, in 1957, and have lived and worked in the city for most of my life. I’m divorced and earn my living, such as it is, as a full-time writer of fiction and non-fiction. I have a little orchard, attached to my garden, where I love to go and sit, and forget about my woes. I also love music, classical mainly, but also jazz, prog-rock and English folk.

When did you first realise you were going to be a writer?

I became a writer of fiction in 2002, having tried to find an artistic outlet that felt right for most of my life. I have tried learning an instrument, writing poetry and painting pictures. And, although I enjoy all of these things when other people are producing them, I wasn’t any good myself. And then, when I started to write fiction, it felt as if I’d finally found my outlet. I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised, because I enjoyed it at school.

Which aspects of your writing do you find easiest and most difficult?

The easiest aspect for me is coming up with ideas. When I’m in the right frame of mind, they come thick and fast. For example, in 2014, I wrote a manuscript entitled ‘111 Creative Writing Ideas’. I’ve not done anything with it yet! I also love writing dialog and building up character profiles. The most difficult thing I find is getting started; those troublesome early chapters. However, once I get past that, I can fly!

One thing I should mention, at this stage, is that I have a mental health condition whereby I experience a lot of anxiety and, to a lesser extent, depression. This both helps and hinders the creative writing process, depending on where the pendulum has settled at the time. For example, for most of 2015, I couldn’t write a word, but this year, I can’t stop!

(I think writing can be a cathartic experience for many Paul. I can only write poetry when I’m depressed!)

What are your writing routines and where do you do most of your writing?

When the mood is right, I write every day, on the dining room table, because I only feel I’m truly happy during that process. I am also a morning person, and try to work solidly from 9:00 am to 1:00 or 2:00 pm.

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I know you’ve written several non-fiction books about your home town of Canterbury and the area, so what led you to turn to fiction too from 2002, resulting in The Dream Messiah?

As I mentioned above, I’d been searching for a creative outlet for years. And then, in 2002, I had a dream that, effectively, was the plot for an entire novel. In the morning, I could remember every detail, and wrote it down. This, eventually, became my first novel: Ronnie Darwin Was My Uncle.

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You have a profound message in The Dream Messiah. Without spoiling the plot, what was your purpose in writing it?

The idea for that particular novel came out of my reaction to 9/11. I must confess I knew little about Islam, and couldn’t believe that such carnage was being carried out in its name. So I began to research Islam and discovered, to my surprise at the time, a religion of peace, love and tolerance. In fact, Islam has much more in common with Christianity and Judaism than it has differences. And I felt I wanted to say something about those things they had in common, rather than the hate message that was being perpetuated in some areas of the popular media.

How far do you think authors need a social conscience when writing?

I think it probably matters very little. I think it’s far more important to be true to the book you are writing at the time. Then again, no one can help pouring much of themselves, and their values, into whatever they are writing, even on a subconscious level. I suppose my characters tend to be deep thinking, complex, and anxious; the poor sods. I can also write ruthless characters too, because I came across many of those during my near 30 years of salaried work for BT. And, at the end of the day, most of us can draw on the dark side we all have lurking in there amongst all that grey matter.

You’ve mentioned Ronnie Darwin Was My Uncle, but is there a dream that you have had that has stayed with you and affected your life?

Well, apart from Ronnie Darwin and The Dream Messiah itself (part of which was another dream I had), I recently dreamt about a vast, dusty book shop, situated in an old house, with many rooms all full of old-looking books. One could wander from one to the other along rickety corridors. The proprietor was an old man straight out of Dickens. Crucially though, in each room, were wax work models of the authors whose books were featured therein.  And, if you went into any particular room, and thought hard about the authors in question, they came alive and talked about their lives to you.

(That sounds like a book in the making to me Paul!)

How did you go about creating Tony and Hamila in The Dream Messiah? Did you create whole character profiles, for example, or did they emerge organically as you wrote?

Hamila was the nicest, most pleasurable character I have ever written. I suppose, if I’m honest, I wrote her as an ideal life partner for me. Tony is partly me, inevitably, and then again so is his friend: the troubled soul, Daniel, who had committed suicide before the book begins. I think a lot about character profiles before I start, but these remain open to tweaking, if the plot demands it. Unusually though, they govern the plot.

If you could choose to be a character from The Dream Messiah, who would you be and why?

I suppose as they are, in some ways, idealised characters (otherwise God wouldn’t have chosen them), they are not really like me, although Tony is, in some ways. Therefore I would have to be him, especially as he becomes involved with Hamila!

If The Dream Messiah became a film, who would you like to play Hamila and Tony?  

Hamila is easy. Her visual appearance has always been based on the Welsh actress, Jose D’Arby. Tony is harder, but, I suppose, someone like Ralph Little? I have put pictures of how I see my characters on the Facebook page dedicated to The Dream Messiah.

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(Readers can visit that Facebook page by clicking here)

If you had 15 words to persuade a reader that The Dream Messiah should be their next read, what would you say?

Two young Londoners have dreams, featuring each other, that suggest they share an important destiny.

And finally, what are you working on at the moment?

I am working on a trilogy of religious conspiracy novels called: The Canterbury Apocalypse. This has been eight years in the making and, for the first time, joins together my fiction and non fiction writing. I have already started a Facebook page here dedicated to this concept.

Good luck with that Paul and thank you so much for your time in answering my questions.

My pleasure!

About Paul Crampton

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Paul Crampton was born in Canterbury in 1957, and has lived and worked in the city for most of his life. His love for Canterbury, and its wide and varied history, has led to the publication of over 15 books on the subject to date. He has also written histories of Whitstable and Folkestone.

Paul started writing fiction in 2002, and has had several novels puiblished. The Dream Messiah is the first of these to reach a wide audience.

You can follow Paul on Twitter and visit The Dream Messiah Facebook page.

One Christmas in Paris by Mandy Baggot

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I am extremely grateful to Mandy Baggot for an advanced reader copy of One Christmas in Paris in exchange for an honest review. One Christmas in Paris is published in e-book by Bookouture on 7th October 2016 and is available for purchase here.

One Christmas in Paris

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They say Paris is the City of Love, so bring your je ne sais quoi and don’t forget the mistletoe!

Ava and her best friend Debs arrive in Paris just as the snow starts to fall. The Eiffel Tower glitters gold and the scent of spiced wine is all around, but all Ava can think about is Leo, her no-good, cheating ex.

Debs is on a mission to make Ava smile again, and as they tour the Christmas markets, watch lamplight glittering on the river Seine, and eat their body weight in pain-au-chocolat, Ava remembers there’s more to life than men … Until they cross paths with handsome, mysterious photographer Julien with his French accent and hazelnut eyes that seem to see right inside her.

Ava can’t ignore the intense chemistry between them, but her fingers have been burned before and she can’t forget it, especially when her ex, Leo, starts texting again. Can Ava really trust Julien – and what exactly is his secret?

Will Ava go home with a broken heart, or will she find true love amongst the cobbled streets of Paris?

Join Ava and Julien in the most romantic city in the world this Christmas, as they discover the importance of being true to themselves, and learn how to follow their hearts.

One Christmas in Paris is a gorgeous, laugh-out-loud romantic comedy – perfect for fans of Jane Costello, Miranda Dickinson and Lucy Diamond.

My Review of One Christmas in Paris

When Ava joins her friend Debs on an impromptu trip to Paris, she doesn’t realise just how much it will change her life.

I confess I haven’t got round to reading Mandy Baggot before as I was somewhat disbelieving of the rave reviews she always gets. I was utterly wrong to doubt her. One Christmas in Paris epitomises the best of its romantic comedy genre and is a delight to read.

I think what works so well is the reduced cast of characters. With the main focus on Ava and Julien, both of whom I adored, Debs and Didier play an excellent supporting role (though I was irritated by Debs’ constant use of ‘totes’ peppered throughout her speech) so that the reader feels they have chance to get to know and understand the characters as people – pretty much in tune with how they come to understand themselves. Readers can identify with so many facets of their personalities, their fears, hopes and insecurities. There is a brilliant balance of viewpoint from the perspectives of Ava and Julien giving a hugely satisfying read.

Mandy Baggot has a cinematic style when writing about setting. I may have been reading One Christmas in Paris on the hottest September day for over a century, but I was completely transported to snowy Paris just before Christmas. Somehow Mandy Baggot provides enhancing detail at the same time as moving on the plot to perfection so that I felt I really wanted to be there too to experience the markets, the Seine cruise and the iconic landmarks. My only ‘criticism’ here is the description of food as it is so realistic it made me ravenous. I really needed a baked Camembert!

The romantic elements are beautifully handled. There’s a sensuality that simultaneously remains realistic so that those moments are ones the reader can relate to.

Alongside what readers might expect from a book in this genre, there are deeper and affecting themes too. Yes, there’s romance and the hurdles it faces along the way, but there’s also deeper elements like reference to the Paris attacks and how other life changing events might simply be overlooked in their wake. There’s an investigation of how both physical and emotional scars can prevent us from engaging with our present and future. There’s an exploration of family dynamics that I think will resonate with so many readers.

I know some readers are sceptical about this genre, and I have been myself in the past, but if they were to read Once Christmas in Paris by Mandy Baggot I think they would have to agree this is wonderful writing that transports you from the mundanity of life to a world of romance laughter and a crackingly good read. I loved it.

About Mandy Baggot

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Mandy Baggot is an award-winning writer of romantic comedies, chick-lit and contemporary romance.

In February 2016 her romantic comedy novel, One Wish in Manhattan, was shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association Romantic Novel of the Year award.
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Mandy loves mashed potato, white wine, country music, World’s Strongest Man, travel and handbags. She has appeared on ITV1’s Who Dares Sings and auditioned for The X-Factor.

Mandy is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Society of Authors and lives near Salisbury, Wiltshire, UK with her husband, two daughters and cats, Kravitz and Springsteen.

Find out more about Mandy by visiting her website. You can follow her on Twitter and find her on Facebook. You’ll find all Mandy’s lovely books here.

Doing Your Research, A Guest Post by Jan Brigden, Author of As Weekends Go

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I’m delighted to be welcoming back lovely Jan Brigden, author of As Weekends Go to Linda’s Book Bag. I have previously interviewed Jan and you can read that interview hereAs Weekends Go was published by Choc Lit on 4th December 2015. As Weekends Go is available on Amazon UK and Amazon US and by following the publisher links here.

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As an aspiring romantic writer myself, I’m delighted that Jan has agreed to write a guest post all about her research process today.

As Weekends Go

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What if your entire life changed in the space of a weekend?

When Rebecca’s friend Abi convinces her to get away from it all at the fabulous Hawksley Manor hotel in York, it seems too good to be true. Pampering and relaxation is just what Rebecca needs to distract herself from the creeping suspicion that her husband, Greg, is hiding something from her.

She never imagined that by the end of the weekend she would have dined with celebrities or danced the night away in exclusive clubs. Nor could she have predicted she would meet famous footballer, Alex Heath, or that he would be the one to show her that she deserved so much more …

But no matter how amazing a weekend is, it’s always back to reality come Monday morning – isn’t it?

Football Stadiums and Grand Hotels:

The perks of doing your research as a writer

A Guest Post by Jan Brigden

I had to do plenty of research for As Weekends Go and thoroughly enjoyed it. Almost everyone I approached was kind and helpful, especially when I explained that I was writing a novel and wanted clarification of certain aspects, whether it be about places, procedures, customs, etc.

Take York, for instance, a city that features heavily in the book. Yes, I’d visited with my husband for a few days, but that was for leisure. Once I knew I wanted Rebecca and Abi (my two lead female characters) to spend their fictional weekend there, I accepted that my array of photos and memories wouldn’t suffice. I’d need to return, several times, notebook and pen poised, to carry out some proper investigating. Not just the touristy bits, but the nitty gritty of everyday life … opening and closing times (no, not just the pubs!) where the supermarkets were, the climate, local newspapers, house prices, etc, etc. During my three return visits I filled two big notepads with precious snippets of advice and information from residents and businesses, knowing that when I read it all through on the train on the way back to London, I’d feel confident that anything I subsequently wrote for the novel would be as authentic as possible.

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Similarly, with Alex  – my male lead – being a footballer, I needed to check certain facts about his profession. Having met one or two players over the years, and also coming from a footie-mad family, I already had a good knowledge of the game. I’d made loads of notes from the internet, watched lots of TV footage, read the odd autobiography, but again, it was a contact at my local football club who validated everything for me. I also received a fab tour of the stadium in the process. If I only used a quarter of the stuff I’d learned, both in York and about football, I could be sure it was genuine.

One of my most enjoyable and invaluable book research experiences, was when I met with the duty manager of a country hotel not far from where I live, upon which I loosely based Hawksley Manor – my fictional hotel in York. It was a roasting hot day and I must have asked the poor man thirty questions, all of which he answered with a smile. Yet it was the guided walkabout and being shown the different rooms, seeing the various menus, learning the staff and management structure, who did which shift, seeing the spa facilities up close, all the products that were ordered in, and when, that gave me that confidence buzz again. Whatever I wrote about, I’d either have seen or heard first hand.

Of course, there will always be things that prove trickier to verify, the odd person who may be reluctant to divulge information, or that one sentence you’ve written that leaves a question in the reader’s mind. I’d hate to take the fun out of fiction altogether – after all, imagination is a wonderful tool – but when writing about real places or professions or sets of rules and regulations, I can definitely recommend doing your research.

About Jan Brigden

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Jan is a Romaniac and you can find more about that group of writers here. Readers can also find Jan on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Short Story: Laying Ghosts by Virginia King

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My grateful thanks to the author, Virginia King, for a copy of Laying Ghosts in return for an honest review. Laying Ghosts is a short story prequel to the Selkie Moon Mystery Series by Virginia King and includes a bonus first chapter of The First Lie, the first book in the series. Laying Ghosts is available for purchase in e-book here.

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I have a guest post from Virginia King and my review of The First Lie here.

Laying Ghosts

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Ghosts used to moan. Now they … phone.

A strange message, a deserted beach house, a shocking incident from the past … Selkie Moon’s life will change forever.

When a text message from a long lost friend lures Selkie Moon to Crystal Cottage, the chilling events from a house-party four years earlier wrap her in ghostly fingers and turn her life upside-down.

My Review of Laying Ghosts

When Selkie gets a text message from her friend Rina whom she hasn’t heard from in four years, she has to respond and meet her at Crystal Cottage, but the message isn’t as simple as it might appear.

Crikey what a short story! Laying Ghosts had me gripped from the first sentence right through until the closing line. At times I found the subject matter of the sexual elements quite shocking but completely appropriate to the plot. The exploration of control and fear that pervades some relationships is incredibly well handled.

It is difficult to express how much Virginia King has packed into this short story of less than 50 pages. Alongside a fast pace and thrilling story, she has created characters that are easily known to the reader, especially Selkie, Andrew, Frank and Rina. Although Laying Ghosts is completely satisfying as a stand alone read, I liked the way there are hints as to Selkie’s character that lay the foundations for the rest of the series.

There’s a real tension behind the plot because of the first person narrative from Selkie with plenty of surprises for the reader too. What I really enjoyed was the way in which Virginia King created atmosphere through attention to the small details so that I was able to visualise Crystal Cottage and the garden in particular.

I thought the supernatural elements were highly effective so that they gave an authenticity to the story without the ridiculous co-incidences I’ve sometimes found in this genre.

Laying Ghosts is not the kind of story I usually choose to read, but Virginia King has made me feel I’m missing out. I found it hugely entertaining, creepy and quite disturbing at times. It’s a brilliant way to be converted to the genre!

About Virginia King

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When a voice wakes you up in the middle of the night and tells you to write a mystery series what’s a writer to do? That’s how Virginia King came to create Selkie Moon, after a massage from a strange woman with gifted hands was followed by this nocturnal message. Virginia sat down at the keyboard until Selkie Moon turned up. All she had to do was jump, the first sentence said. Soon Virginia was hooked, exploring far-flung places full of secrets where Selkie delves into psychological clues tangled up in the local mythology.

Before Selkie Moon invaded her life, Virginia had been a teacher, an unemployed ex-teacher, the author of over 50 children’s books, an audio-book producer, a workshop presenter and a prize-winning publisher. These days she lives in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney with her husband, where she disappears each day into Selkie Moon’s latest mystery. Bliss.

You can find out more about Selkie Moon and Virginia on Virginia’s website, on Facebook and by following Virginia on Twitter. You’ll also find buy links for all Virginia’s books here.

Self-Belief, A Guest Post and Giveaway by Carina McEvoy, author of To Have, Not Hold

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I’m delighted to be welcoming Carina McEvoy, author of To Have, Not Hold, to Linda’s Book Bag today. To Have, Not Hold was published on 1st August 2016 and is available for purchase here. You also have the chance to win an e-copy of To Have, Not Hold at the bottom of this blog post.

A great advocate in promoting greater acceptance for those with mental health problems and in having self-belief, Carina has kindly written a guest post today explaining how she has found her own self-belief.

To Have, Not Hold

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Embrace a healthy attitude towards sudden outbursts of laughter; oh and maybe grab some tissues as you escape into the lives of three remarkable friends, as they each navigate their own catastrophic mess. Discover the strength of friendship while you submerge yourself in suspense, fury and humour.

Let the drama unfold… Emma’s doing her best to raise the adorable Amy while hanging on to the ghost of her past. But is she really the crazy, deranged woman she eventually feels compelled to be?

Beneath Siobhan’s picture perfect exterior, the struggle of deception is exhausting. However when life slaps her in the face with an unforeseen twist, will she be able to salvage any of her future, perfect or not?

With mounting money problems and an unwanted visit from his expertly suppressed past, Jack must confront his inner demons for once and for all. Can he defeat them and emerge as the true person he really is?

Authors Having Self Belief

A Guest Post by Carina McEvoy

Bizarrely enough, sometimes in this life the self-belief you need to do something will only come about when you have it done!

How important is it for an author to have self belief in their ability to produce something good enough that people will actually want to give up their precious time to and read? Pretty darn important would be the obvious answer yeah? As it is with anybody doing anything in life. It doesn’t matter what we are doing, we need to have a sense of self-belief. So, what happens when you have as about as much self belief as the North Pole has Penguins!?

Well if you are anything like me, you work your way through it, have a few minor tantrums along the way, the odd bar or dozen of chocolate and then eventually get there in the end! Wherever that ‘end’ is for you, you can do it!

The end for me changed so many times. I didn’t really require any self-belief when I started writing To Have, Not Hold! Nooooooo, not because I was as confident as a single entry in a competition. It was because I never had any intention of showing anyone my writing. It was a past time I indulged in when I went on maternity leave many moons ago. I had always loved writing and found it a great stress relief and relaxation method so writing a book came easy to me. I loved to delve into my fantasy fictional lives of Emma, Siobhan and Jack and see what was going on for them.

It took me years to complete the work, as it was very much a stop start project with no hurry in-between to complete it. After all it was only for me. But when I did near completion I thought how great it would be to publish it. Wow, imagine having my own book on my own bookshelf among all my favorite authors. Pretty incredible I thought to myself. So my ‘end’ moved from writing a book to publishing a book. That’s when the stress kicked in…who will I send it to, who would take it on, how long will it take to hear back, what if it’s not good enough. Writing it came easy but that wasn’t to say I wrote it well. See…that’s when I realized I have zero self-belief! So in the end I decided to go and self publish it. Then the ‘end’ changed one final time. I decided to send the book out into the big bad world…yikes!

And that’s when I really knew I believe more in fairies cleaning my house at night than I did in my writing and myself! Here I am, an ordinary woman trying to market a book I wrote that I never intended for anyone to read…all with little belief in my ability to write. Weird I know!

Why would I do such a thing? Well it’s like this. I imagine myself on my death bed in many many many years to come (my granny is 101 this year and I have her blood lol!) surrounded by weeping distraught family and friends, wondering how they can possibly enjoy life once I pop my clogs. And I imagine saying to them, well mostly to my grandchildren and great grandchildren, ‘Don’t miss out on life (cough), don’t die with any regrets of (cough cough) what you did not do (cough). Because here I am at 103 years of age (cough), and my one big regret is that I didn’t have the courage to do it (cough cough).’ There are two reasons in that lovely image above…one, I don’t want to have any regrets in life because I was too scared and also, I want to show my children and their children that it’s okay to go for it, even if you don’t succeed. The important thing is trying. That’s the attitude I guess I put the book out there with. At least I will have tried and I can’t do more than that.

Now that I have done it, I can honestly say that the self-belief I needed to do it has only decided to show up now! Finally eh! It came about by the reaction of so many lovely people to my writing. So I guess it was validation that the book was actually not too bad, that really fed my confidence. I wish I was the type of person who didn’t need validation but to be honest I think we are all like that…maybe I’m wrong in saying that, I don’t know. But wouldn’t it be nice to believe in what we do ourselves and not because someone has said good job.

But I can’t end of this post without referring to a massively important part of my writing, my family and friends. Without them I wouldn’t have went as far as I did. They encouraged me, pushed me and supported me all the way through it. They gave me the self-belief I needed when I didn’t have it myself.

So there you go, self-belief to do something often comes when you have it done! That’s a life lesson I didn’t know I was teaching myself till I learned it! Sometimes in life you won’t fully believe in yourself but if you have the passion and the want then belief will follow.

Carina x

To Have, Not Hold Giveaway

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Now you’ve read Carina’s inspiring guest post I’m sure you would like to enter to win an e-copy of To Have, Not Hold! You can do so by clicking here. Open internationally until UK midnight 25th September 2016.

About Carina McEvoy

carina

Carina McEvoy lives in the South East of Ireland with her husband, two daughters and crazy puppy samoyed. Thinking life as a stay at home mother would be pure luxury, she took a career break from secondary school teaching. However her bubble soon burst when she became a full time taxi, chef, environmental hygienist, medical practitioner, counsellor, peace negotiator, dietician and general slave to her extremely busy seven and four year old! But she wouldn’t have it any other way.

She is also extremely passionate about promoting positive mental health and dreams of a society where the stigma of mental health is extinct. She writes for an honest, open yet sometimes quite humorous blog TheAnxiousBanana.com. She has spoken out again the stigma of mental health on Charity Radio and South East Radio.

In between her jobs listed above, she can found either writing or stuck in a good book! She is currently working on her second novel.

You can find out more by visiting her website, finding her on Facebook, following her on Twitter and on writing.ie.