Giveaway and Spotlight on The Big Event by Anne John-Ligali

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I don’t know about you, but what with missing the Romantic Novelists’ Association winter party (where I actually won an award as their Media Star), having heavy Christmas decorations drop on my head from a great height, spending six hours waiting for an ambulance to arrive for my mother when she broke her hip, having our shared drains with the neighbours collapse, and returning to the weird passing out unexpectedly that I suffered earlier this year, to name just a few events from the last two weeks I think I could do with a party!

Consequently I’m delighted to be part of the release day celebrations for The Big Event by Anne John-Ligali, especially as she originally hails from my home city of Peterborough. I have my review of The Big Event but even better is a wonderful giveaway from Anne John-Ligali that you can enter at the bottom of this blog post to win Sparkly Afternoon Tea for Two at Vertigo 42 in central London and one e-copy of The Big Event.

The Big Event Publication Day Push Banner

The Big Event is available for purchase from Amazon UK

You might like to watch a trailer for The Big Event here too.

The Big Event

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You are cordially invited to the party of the season where you’ll meet Constance and friends in action.

Constance Jeffries is excited when she gets the chance to meet up with virtual friends at a get-together in a London hotel. She’s been tweeting and messaging her lovely friends for years and feels they must be just as excited to finally meet her in person too. Or so she hopes.

The Big Event is first part in a short story series about the importance of ‘real’ friendships and how it’s the little things that matter the most.

A Gorgeous Venue, A Room Full of Friends, What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

My Review of The Big Event

Writer Constance finds attending a real-life get-together of virtual friends from social media doesn’t quite work out as planned.

I thoroughly enjoyed meeting Constance. Although The Big Event is a short story, Anne John-Ligali creates vivid characters instantly so that there’s a visceral reader response as protagonist Constance introduces them. I felt I knew them straight away.

I loved this short story. It might only take ten minutes or so to read (perfect for a tea or lunch break) but it really packs a punch. There’s considerable humour, especially in the almost asides Constance makes, so that I smiled my way through the story and kept sniggering too, especially at Jagger’s wallet!

That said, there’s a super moral here that tugs at the emotions. As Anne John-Ligali explores our modern reliance on social media for ‘friendships’, she teaches the reader where to find true value in life and relationships so that I felt a lump in my throat and a prickling behind my eyes as I read the ending.

I’m looking forward to see what happens to Constance in the future as more of this short story series is released. Smashing stuff!

About Anne John-Ligali

Meet Anne

Anne John-Ligali is a writer and the founder of Books and Authors UK, a popular website featuring author interviews and book reviews.  She loves all things books: reading, writing, going to book events, and meeting other book lovers. She has written a series of short stories and is currently writing her first novel.

When Anne is not writing, she is likely to be at soft play with her kids, taking long evening walks in Hyde Park, making green smoothies, window shopping, or having a pampering session at her local beauty salon (whenever she gets the chance). She can also be found watching box sets (albeit with a bit of shame at still having to catch up on Scandal, Grey’s, and Downton).

Originally from Peterborough, Anne now lives in London. After moving to London, she studied graphic design at the University of Arts and has held a number IT administration jobs in the city. Anne continues writing and aspires to write more women’s fiction books, a non-fiction book and several children’s books.

You can find out more about Anne on her blog, on Facebook, Instagram and by following her on Twitter @AnneJohnLigali.

Giveaway

Giveaway Prize - Verigo-Tea

Win Sparkly Afternoon Tea for Two at Vertigo 42 in central London and one e-copy of The Big Event.

To enter and for full terms and conditions, please follow this link for everything you need to know.

(PLEASE NOTE: This giveaway is run separately from Linda’s Book Bag.)

Getting the Balance Right: A Guest Post by K.S. Hunter, Author of Just One Time

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When I was approached by K.S.Hunter, an international bestselling author whose identity will remain a secret, to see if I’d like to read Just One Time I was intrigued. Then when fellow blogger and friend Rachel from Rachel’s Random Resources set up the blog tour I knew I had to be involved. Although I haven’t had chance to read Just One Time yet, it’s very firmly on my TBR and I have a brilliant guest post to share with you today.

Published on 7th December 2017 Just One Time is available for pre-order from Amazon UK.

Just One Time

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Desire can have dire consequences

Two years ago, David Madden made a mistake that almost cost him his marriage. His wife, Alison, gave him another chance, but she has not forgotten, nor has she forgiven.

She is irresistible

Then David meets the alluring Nina at a theatre in London. When he loses his phone in the dark, she helps him find it, and by giving her his number he unwittingly invites her into his life.

What David initially views as an innocent flirt turns into a dangerous game of deception. His increasingly suspicious wife thinks something is up, and each lie he tells pushes them further apart.

She is insatiable

Nina pursues David relentlessly, following him to New York where she gives him an ultimatum: sleep with her, just one time, and then she’ll get out of his life forever; or she’ll ruin everything he holds dear.

She is unstoppable

Of course, once won’t be enough for Nina, and what David hoped would be the end is merely the beginning.

A modern-day Fatal Attraction, Just One Time is a steamy psychological thriller that will have you hooked from the first page and holding your breath until its shocking conclusion.

Getting the Balance Right

A Guest Post by K.S.Hunter

I was sitting in a theatre in London. The play I was about to see was called Let the Right One In. I stood up to let a couple pass me. I sat down again. The lights were dim. I remembered I hadn’t switched off my phone, which I’d placed on my lap, but when I reached for it, it wasn’t there any more.

After a slight panic, I realised it must have fallen on the floor when I stood up. A moment later, I was on my hands and knees, trying to find it in a pitch-black space. The woman who was sitting next to me asked what was wrong. “I’ve dropped my phone,” I said, looking up at her, not realising she would become the femme fatale in my next novel two years later.

“What’s your number?” she asked. “I’ll call it for you.” And I gave her my number without any hesitation.

It was at that moment, on my hands and knees, that I saw the beginnings of a story. A series of what-ifs entered my mind. What if she contacted me that evening? What if she found a way into my life and then wouldn’t get out of it again?

I knew erotic fiction was popular and I knew I had a story that could be steamy. I immediately thought of Fatal Attraction and everything that made it work as a story of obsession. One thing it has is a fairly graphic sex scene. I skimmed a few pages of some erotic fiction to find out how far explicit descriptions went nowadays and I was surprised to discover just how graphic they were.

I had the majority of my plot and began writing, but then I realised I was essentially a crime fiction author. How graphic do I make this? I asked myself. Very, was the answer I came up with. After all, E.L. James wasn’t exactly shy. I wrote, edited, rewrote, edited. I laughed at some of the things I wrote. I can’t include that, I said. Ultimately, some things made it, some things didn’t. I decided to rock the boat, but I didn’t want to sink it.

There are a handful of sex scenes in Just One Time, but I knew from the outset that there had to be one major scene – the film Basic Instinct came to mind: all the build-up and then a full meal of a scene (I believe it was called The Fuck of the Century by reviewers). I got to that point in the novel, the point when Nina tells David that she will get out of his life forever, if he sleeps with her just one time. And I knew it had to be my Basic Instinct moment.

It had to be graphic and I couldn’t shy away from the kind of language that would make it even more shocking. Shock comes in two ways: the actions and the language that’s used to describe them, and I utilised both.

The final act of Just One Time contains what I hope is something that readers have never experienced before. I had to find a balance between how to describe it and which words to use that would intensify its impact. I wanted readers to cringe, to go Wow, to feel a gut punch. I wanted them to feel what my characters felt.

As a crime fiction author, I am used to writing thrillers. I try to make my books exciting, but that excitement comes from pace that hopefully rattles along at speed. Excitement in Just One Time, which I’m calling a steamy psychological thriller, in part comes from the pace, because I am the same writer even though I’m using a different name, but it also comes from the erotic elements. The book should, at times, titillate, but there’s a delicate balance between the thrills of the erotic and the thrills of the thriller.

Have I got the balance right? Is there even such a thing as a ‘right’ balance? I think the vast majority of readers today are ready to embrace anything, so long as the characters and story are worth investing their time in.

About K.S. Hunter

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K.S. Hunter is the pseudonym of an international bestselling author. The identity of the author, who lives in the United Kingdom, will remain a mystery.

You can follow K.S. Hunter on Twitter @Author_KSHunter and visit their Facebook page.

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The Pain of Loss: A Guest Post by Pankaj Giri, Author of The Fragile Thread of Hope

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A little while ago I received a message offering a book I thought would be an incredible read in return for an honest review – The Fragile Thread of Hope by Pankaj Giri. And I turned it down (although I have bought it to read later). Why? Well, partly because with over 900 others in the queue I knew it would be months before I could deal with it and partly because this November sees the first anniversary of my father’s death and I didn’t think I had the emotional stamina to read what looks like such a moving book. Instead, I asked Pankaj if he would like to write a piece for Linda’s Book Bag and I’m thrilled that he agreed. In sharing it with you today I’m sure I would have been moved beyond words by The Fragile Thread of Hope if this guest post is anything to go by.

The Fragile Thread of Hope is available for purchase from your local Amazon site.

The Fragile Thread of Hope

The Fragile Thread of Hope Cover

In the autumn of 2012, destiny wreaks havoc on two unsuspecting people—Soham and Fiona.

Although his devastating past involving his brother still haunted him, Soham had established a promising career for himself in Bangalore.

After a difficult childhood, Fiona’s fortunes had finally taken a turn for the better. She had married her beloved, and her life was as perfect as she had ever imagined it to be.

But when tragedy strikes them yet again, their fundamentally fragile lives threaten to fall apart.

Can Fiona and Soham overcome their grief?

Will the overwhelming pain destroy their lives?

Seasoned with the flavours of exotic Nepalese traditions and set in the picturesque Indian hill station, Gangtok, The Fragile Thread of Hope explores the themes of spirituality, faith, alcoholism, love, and guilt while navigating the complex maze of familial relationships.

Inspirational and heart-wrenchingly intimate, it urges you to wonder—does hope stand a chance in this travesty called life?

The Pain of Loss

A Guest Post by Pankaj Giri

Have you ever in life encountered an event, an event that pulls the rug from under your feet, threatens to destroy the very foundation of your existence?

I have.

The date was 2nd January 2013. It was a calm, sunny day in Bangalore. After having breakfast, I was relaxing on my bed when I received a call. It was from Vikas Daju (Daju means elder brother in Nepali, my mother tongue), my father’s office staff. He accompanied Baba, my father, at home in Gangtok during every winter vacation while Aama, my mother, visited me in Bangalore.

In a trembling voice, he informed me that Baba had turned seriously ill and was admitted to Manipal hospital. I felt as if I had fallen off a cliff of astonishment. According to Daju, Baba had taken longer than usual to come out of the Puja room, and when he went to check, he found Baba lying on the floor, unconscious. They had tried to revive him, but when he failed to respond, they had rushed him to the hospital. The call got disconnected. I tried to call back, but I couldn’t reach Daju. Minutes later as I was writhing in a swamp of anxiety, he called. Sobbing he told me what I had dreaded. Baba had passed away after suffering a massive heart attack.

Imagine that you are travelling in a car, enjoying the scenery when suddenly the wheels of the car fall off. I got a similar feeling then. I still couldn’t believe it, for Baba never had any history of heart problems. Why did it happen? How could it happen…? He was just fifty-six years old… How could life be so unfair? Had he really gone, or was this some kind of a nightmare from which I would escape soon? But the painful reality kept nudging me, urging me to accept it. Slowly, relatives and friends started calling, confirming the devastating news, offering support and courage, which seemed as futile as the definition of colours to a blind man. I tried to imagine the pain Baba must have felt in his last few moments, how he would have craved to catch a glimpse of Aama, my sister, and me, how he would have begged for his life before God snatched it away. My heart bled with sorrow, and the tears came like rain as I succumbed to the assault of pain.

However, I had to force myself back to reality. I was told to tell Aama only a partial truth—that Baba was seriously ill and admitted to the hospital—as she would not be able to handle the vicious truth. Then, I had to arrange to return to Gangtok as soon as possible.

Somehow, I managed to lie to Aama (escaping to the confines of my room or the bathroom whenever grief overpowered me), and on the very evening, we headed to Gangtok. Throughout the journey, she kept muttering the Mahamrityunjaya Mantra, the death-defeating chant, praying for my father’s survival. I wanted to tell her that there was no hope, that Baba had already gone, but I stayed quiet, stifling the violent pain in my heart, summoning the last ounce of my receding strength.

When we crossed Manipal Hospital on the way home, Aama lashed out at me, demanding why we weren’t going to the hospital. As discussed with other relatives, I lied by saying that Baba had been taken home as he had recovered slightly.

When we reached home and Aama saw Baba’s body for the first time, she fainted. For moments after her fall, I couldn’t breathe. Surely, God wouldn’t be so cruel! Surely, He wouldn’t snatch both of them from me. I hadn’t hurt anyone in life. Surely, He wouldn’t give me this unjust punishment.

However, by God’s grace and instant help from relatives, Aama soon regained consciousness. Caressing my father’s lifeless body, she made one-sided conversations with him, asking him to wake up, tell everyone that this was a joke just like the practical jokes he used to crack often. But Baba didn’t respond, didn’t throw his head back in laughter like he used to, didn’t smile his trademark, lopsided grin.

Soon, inevitably, Aama broke down, surrendering to her emotions, her wails wrenching my already fragile heart, rivulets of tears streaming down her face. However, I refrained from crying, battling my emotions, as my relatives and friends had told me not to display my emotions in public, me being the eldest male member of the family now. Later, however, when one of my aunts saw my emotionless, shell-shocked face, she asked me to sit next to her. She reminded me of the humongous loss that I had just experienced, that from the next day, Baba wouldn’t be there with me, that he was gone forever. She told me to let out my pain, break free from the shackles of blankness I had built around myself. Her brutal yet well-meaning words worked. My resistance tore like a flimsy cloth, and I cried as I had never before.

My sister also arrived after a few hours from Pune—she was undergoing training in a software company there—and drowning in an ocean of pain, we, along with other relatives and other acquaintances, proceeded to perform the final rites of my father.

When a pillar of a family falls, the incident not only leaves behind the painful memories of the deceased but also disrupts the balance of the living family’s lives. My sister and I could not leave our mother alone in our relatively big house. We had to relocate to Gangtok. However, for that, we needed to sacrifice our lucrative jobs in Bangalore and Pune. Days passed as we found ourselves lost in the hazy lanes of indecision.

Meanwhile, the three of us lived like zombies, Baba’s memories reflecting off everything in our home, pushing us repeatedly into a marsh of pain. Aama used to sob almost throughout the day, and we had to accompany her and try to divert her mind away from the all-consuming loss. But who were we, as children, to judge her? Only a wife knows how it feels when her husband is snatched away without warning, leaving her alone in this world for the rest of her life. We had mostly stayed away from home, but she had lived every moment with Baba. Whenever I tried to imagine her pain, I felt like falling into a bottomless pool.

I remembered his oval face, his bushy moustache spilling over his upper lip, his thin yet sturdy frame. His melodious voice, especially his rendition of old Bollywood classics, rang in my ears. A particular image used to haunt me often—Baba waving at me as he boarded the airport cab a week before the tragedy, when he was returning to Gangtok. Little did I know that it would be his last farewell, the last time I would ever see his face. Now there was no one to call Baba any longer. Now on every Dasain—Durga Puja, a popular Indian festival—I wouldn’t be able to touch his feet. Now every morning he would not nag me when I woke up late. Now there was no one who would beam in uninhibited pride when I announced any achievement in my career.

On top of that, a painful regret took birth in me. Baba having left us so suddenly, I never got a chance to bid him a final goodbye, to say how much I loved him. Throughout my life, I kept revolving in my own selfish world. I never remembered his birthdays, never did anything special for him, never expressed my affection to him. How I wished I could turn back the hands of time and sprinkle all my moments with Baba with the love that he truly deserved and which I never offered.

My younger sister being much smarter than I am, she took over the major responsibilities of the house. My mother was still unstable, stuck in the marsh of Baba’s memories. I concentrated on getting a job in Gangtok, while I worked online for my software company in Bangalore. The project was extremely hectic, and I had to work fifteen to eighteen hours a day. The poor internet connectivity in Gangtok didn’t help at all. It was one of the worst phases of my life—unable to decide what to do next, the sudden death of Baba tormenting my soul, and encountering work pressure of the highest order. The problem was that I couldn’t leave my Bangalore job until I got a job in Gangtok. My sister, however, stayed in Gangtok, requesting her company for some time until things settled down.

Finally, after a tough few months, we both found decent jobs and thus decided to return to Gangtok permanently. We also sold our flat in Bangalore, as there was no use keeping it unoccupied.

One day, I was sitting with Aama, browsing her mobile to delete unwanted files. I accidentally clicked on a video as the preview was blurred. It turned out to be a video that I had recorded during our recent visit to the South Indian city, Cochin. On the deck of the ship, Baba sat smiling as I recorded the video. It seemed as if Baba was alive, as if the mobile screen were merely a physical barrier and that we could dive into the scene and touch him. Every second of the video was like sweet torture—although every instant was killing me, I didn’t want the torment to cease. Every expression on his face, every word that he spoke, wrenched my heart by turns. Teary-eyed, I looked at Aama. She had already started crying. I followed suit, dissolving into an ocean of tears.

Months passed as we grappled with the pain enveloping our lives. The huge void left by Baba’s absence kept haunting us, but life kept moving on. I went out with friends, travelled, immersed myself in different hobbies and pastimes, meditated, but they were just like layers of thin cloth over the eternal wound of Baba’s absence, and a mere memory of him would seep through the layers and hit the wound, causing unbearable agony.

However, after about a year, slowly but surely, the wound began healing. The memories faded, and gradually, I started to move on. Even Aama came back to normalcy and began taking over some of the responsibilities of the house as she used to before. However, I still couldn’t focus on my job as I used to get reminded of my flourishing career in the software industry that I had to leave. Frustration would wash over me, and despite the receding pain of Baba’s loss, I would find myself teetering on the brink of depression.

To divert my mind towards positivity, some of my friends—including my good friend, Apoorv—urged me to read. I followed their advice, and it worked like magic. Soon, I developed a fondness for books and even began writing. I started with book reviews, wrote a couple of short stories, and then I managed to co-author a short novel with my friend, Apoorv. However, due to lack of experience, some glaring blunders, and my underdeveloped writing skills, it ended up getting a lukewarm response. Nevertheless, this new hobby of reading and writing diluted my pain and helped me move on. I even began liking my current job as it used to give me sufficient time to read and write. Strangely, my passion was changing from technology to literature. I began reading better books, and slowly my writing style improved. Learning from the criticism that I got for my first book and the knowledge I was gaining from the high-quality books I was reading, I got enough confidence to start my first solo novel.

And here I am now, my solo novel published, and writing a guest post for this wonderful blog. Even now, four years after the tragedy, I still can’t look at my father’s pictures without my heart twisting and a lump forming in my throat. Certain events and memories still bring tears to my mother’s, my sister’s, and my eyes. But we have moved on.

This entire episode has taught me something really important.

Sometimes destiny invades our lives like an enemy, snatching the light of happiness from it. It is easy to lose our way in the dark maze of despair and give up, but we must hang on. Life always suspends an elusive thread of hope for us in the darkest of times. We must try to find it and hold on to it until the clouds of darkness disappear and give way to light.

Keep fighting. Keep living.

Cheers,

Pankaj

(I don’t know how I’ll manage reading The Fragile Thread of Hope Pankaj, as your guest post has moved me to tears. Thank you so much for being on my blog.)

About Pankaj Giri

Pankaj Giri

Pankaj Giri was born and brought up in Gangtok, Sikkim—a picturesque hill station in India. He began his writing career with a book review blog, and now, after several years of honing his writing skills, he has written a novel—The Fragile Thread of Hope, a literary inspirational fiction dealing with love, loss, and family relationships. He is currently working in the government sector in Sikkim. He likes to kill time by listening to progressive metal music and watching cricket.

You’ll find Pankaj on Twitter @_PankajGiri.

A Publication Day Interview with Mark Tilbury, Author of The Liar’s Promise

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Although I’m thrilled to be part of these launch celebrations, I’m devastated that life simply hasn’t allowed me to read The Liar’s Promise by Mark Tilbury yet as I found his previous novel, The Abattoir of Dreams, an incredibly disturbing and engrossing book. You can read my review of The Abattoir of Dreams here.

However, I do have a fascinating interview with Mark to share with you all today.

The Liar’s Promise is published today, 28th November 2017, by Bloodhound and is available for purchase here.

The Liar’s Promise

Mark Tilbury - The Liar’s Promise_cover

How does a mother protect her child from the unknown?

During a visit to a local theatre, four-year-old Chloe Hollis becomes hysterical. But her mother, Kim, doesn’t realise that this is just the beginning of the nightmare. In the coming weeks, Chloe talks of The Tall Man – Of death.

At her wits end, Kim confides in Charles Honeywell, the headmaster at the school where she works. But what Kim doesn’t know is that Charles is linked to what is happening to her daughter.

Will Kim learn the terrible truth? And can she overcome her own tragic past and save her daughter before it’s too late?

The Liar’s Promise is a story of past lives and future torment.

An Interview with Mark Tilbury

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag, Mark. Thank you so much for agreeing to answer some questions on my blog about your writing and The Liar’s Promise in particular. Firstly, please could you tell me a little about yourself?

Thanks very much for inviting me. I’ve just finished working on my fourth book, The Liar’s Promise, which is to be published by Bloodhound Books on 28th November. It’s been a busy year so far with four books published by Bloodhound (two of them republished) and the birth of my first Grandson, George. I live in the lovely county of Cumbria, five miles from the sea, twelve miles from a lake and with a river thrown in somewhere in the middle! Perfect. I love being near water, having spent five years in the Royal Navy after I left school. I live with my wonderful girlfriend and have two grown-up daughters.

(Sounds like an amazing year for you Mark.)

Why do you write?

Because it fulfils a need in me. When I don’t write, I feel restless and unsure what to do with myself. Plus my head gets filled up with all kinds of stuff demanding to be written. Some of it good, most of it rubbish!

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

I find writing dialogue very natural, but description I have to work hard at. I’m constantly trying to improve and learn from the great writers how to do things well.

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

I write in the afternoons in a back bedroom with the curtains closed and loud music playing. I try to keep the same routine throughout the first draft of a novel, and write seven days a week purely for continuity. Even a day off seems to make me lose the thread.

You know I found your last novel The Abattoir of Dreams very disturbing. How far is it your intention to create such a response in the reader and how far a natural part of how you write?

As far as The Abattoir of Dreams was concerned, I was compelled to write about the abuse of children in state run homes. How adults supposed to be overseeing the care of some kids systematically abuse them. I was horrified how this sickening depravity went mostly unreported.

As far as creating a response in the reader, my only intention whilst writing is to create a response in myself, and then hope the reader feels the same way as I do. I was extremely moved and drained during and after writing The Abattoir of Dreams. For me, the realism is important, but I do try to have light-hearted moments, add a bit of humour to balance the darkness.

(I was emotionally drained reading it too.)

You live in beautiful Cumbria. How important is it for you to get out into the countryside as an antidote for the kind of intense fiction you write?

I do enjoy going to the coast, lakes and river. I find being near water relaxing and a nice way to wind down after some of the stuff I write about, especially in such a beautiful setting..

Without spoiling the plot, please could you tell us a bit about The Liar’s Promise?

I know you’ve included the blurb above Linda, but essentially, The Liar’s Promise is about past lives and future torment.

(It sounds brilliant – I’m bumping it up my TBR right now!)

In The Liar’s Promise, Mel confides in her child’s headmaster. You frequently appear to invert reader expectations of those in authority. Why is this?

I haven’t experienced anything personally, but I am constantly looking at all aspects of life. My conclusion is that corruption is rife in every walk of life, and the people getting away with it need to be exposed as much as possible. It’s easy to just look away, never challenge your belief system, pretend that the world if a cosy place where only the good and great are in charge. The more I look, the more I see corruption and depravity at every level. The police. The government. Everywhere really.

Originally you self-published and now have a conventional publisher in Bloodhound. What have you learnt from the publishing process that might be of use to new authors?

I’ve learnt that promotion is key. Getting yourself known and interacting with readers and other writers on social media. There are a lot of really good people out there willing to help, so don’t be afraid to ask.

Although your books are frequently grim and shocking, there’s also an appreciation of love and humanity in your stories. How far does your writing reflect your view of life?

I believe love and friendship can overcome hardships and difficulty. I try to show that decency and honesty can prevail and overcome the most terrible odds. My main aim is to show that ordinary people can do extraordinary things. David really can slay Goliath. Heroes come in all forms, and they don’t have to be like Rambo!

When you’re not writing, what do you like to read?

I enjoy anything with a psychological edge to it, or something supernatural. I’ve been re-reading a few Stephen King and Dean Koontz books, most notably From the Corner of his Eye by Dean Koontz. I think this is possibly the best book I’ve ever read. It’s dark, meaningful, and has a bad guy who is both deranged and funny. My perfect kind of antagonist. I have also just read Sarah England’s latest supernatural thriller, The Soprano, which I highly recommend!

If you had 15 words to persuade a reader that The Liar’s Promise should be their next read, what would you say?

It’s a unique take on reincarnation and a chilling psychological thriller to boot!

Thank you so much, Mark, for your time in answering my questions.

About Mark Tilbury

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Mark lives in a small village in the lovely county of Cumbria, although his books are set in Oxfordshire where he was born and raised.

After serving in the Royal Navy and raising his two daughters after being widowed, Mark finally took the plunge and self-published two books on Amazon, The Revelation Room and The Eyes of the Accused.

He’s always had a keen interest in writing, and is extremely proud to have his fourth novel, The Liar’s Promise, along with The Abattoir of Dreams, published, and The Revelation Room and The Eyes of the Accused re-launched, by Bloodhound Books.

When he’s not writing, Mark can be found trying and failing to master blues guitar,
and taking walks around the beautiful county of Cumbria.

You can follow Mark on Twitter, visit his website and find him on Facebook.

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His Guilty Secret by Helene Fermont

His Guilty Secret Cover

I’m delighted to be part of the launch celebrations for His Guilty Secret by Hélene Fermont, especially as I love a book with intrigue. I have my review to share, but more importantly I have an extract from His Guilty Secret for you too today.

His Guilty Secret is published by Fridhem Publishing today, 27th November 2017, and is available for purchase here.

His Guilty Secret 

His Guilty Secret Cover

When Jacques’s body is discovered in a hotel room his wife, Patricia, suspects he has been hiding something from her.

Why was he found naked and who is the woman that visited his grave on the day of the funeral? Significantly, who is the unnamed beneficiary Jacques left a large sum of money to in his will and what is the reason her best friend, also Jacques’s sister, Coco, refuses to tell her what he confided to her?

Struggling to find out the truth, Patricia visits Malmö where her twin sister Jasmine lives and is married to her ex boyfriend. But the sisters relationship is toxic and when a family member dies shortly after, an old secret is revealed that shines a light on an event that took place on their tenth birthday.

As one revelation after another is revealed, Patricia is yet to discover her husband’s biggest secret and what ultimately cost him his life.

His Guilty Secret is an unafraid examination of the tangled bonds between siblings, the lengths we go to in protecting our wrongdoings, and the enduring psychological effects this has on the innocent…and the not so innocent.

An Extract from His Guilty Secret

“I’d love a glass of red wine. Maybe the one Coco used to recommend? Or perhaps a glass of water?” she added.

“I’m sorry, but we’ve run out of it. Coco’s been drinking every bottle on her own. I guess water will have to suffice.”

“That’s fine. Is there something I should know, Rudy? I wasn’t aware Coco had a drinking problem.”

Rudy had been standing with his back to her, and now he turned to look at her. “There’s a lot you don’t know where Coco’s concerned. I think it’s only fair I enlighten you before you hear it from someone else. Coco’s an alcoholic and addicted to tablets. She refuses to admit it but that’s usually the case with people suffering with addictions. I’ve told her we’re over. The reason I’m still here is because she needs me, especially now, with Jacques gone. I’ll get you a glass of water and fetch her for you.” His voice was thick with emotion.

Patricia shook her head in disbelief. “No…don’t bother with the water, just let Coco know I’m here for her if she needs me. I’m here for you both. Why didn’t you tell me? I knew something was wrong. Coco’s not been her usual self lately and each time I’ve called or texted, she didn’t respond. Oh, Rudy, I wish I’d known about what you’re dealing with. I never knew Coco’s on medication, what kind of tablets are we talking about here?” She hoped it wasn’t tranquillisers. She’d read an article about the nasty side effects in a daily paper not so long ago, warning people of the dangers of being on them for longer than a few weeks.

My Review of His Guilty Secret

When pilot Jacques dies from a heart attack whilst with his mistress in a hotel room, this will be the catalyst for a catalogue of events. 

Initially I was confused by His Guilty Secret as I was expecting a fast paced, fairly straightforward psychological thriller. However, His Guilty Secret is more subtle than that. Instead Hélene Fermont explores the nature of the self, the way we live our lives, love, grief and relationships. More importantly for Coco, she delves into the effects of dependency on alcohol and medication so that His Guilty Secret is an interesting presentation of lives the reader might not otherwise have encountered, or, might be experiencing themselves. There is so much for the reader to contemplate in His Guilty Secret, making for a fascinating reading experience.

I must be honest and say I found the style of His Guilty Secret quite abrasive and I couldn’t decide if I didn’t like it, or actually if I thought it was perfect for the nature of the plot and characters.

The concept of a secret is multi-layered. I had thought the guilty secret was simply Jacques’ affair with Isabelle, outlined within the first few pages, but as I read His Guilty Secret it became clear Hélene Fermont understands we all have some kind of secret, even if we don’t actually recognise it within ourselves, and certainly the characters here do. Secrets abound and barely any character isn’t hiding a deep secret that impacts on their feelings and actions throughout. There are many surprising elements as the plot unfolds.

His Guilty Secret is a book that explores the complexities of relationships in a way that will make many readers ask questions of their own lives and pasts. Although it wasn’t quite what I was expecting, I enjoyed its layered and explorative narrative and finished the read feeling I had had the opportunity to exercise my brain and had learnt something whilst I was being entertained. I didn’t always feel comfortable reading His Guilty Secret and I think being taken out of our comfort zone is a very good thing.

About Helene Fermont

helene fermont

Born into an Anglo-Swedish family, Hélene Fermont grew up in Malmö in Sweden. Surrounded by an idlyllic landscape, she started writing at eight years old. Spending a brief time in the music industry performing on Swedish TV and radio, she decided to pursue a career as a therapist, focussing on children with learning diculties. In the mid-90s Hélene moved away from Sweden to move to London, the city has been her home now for over 20 years. Despite her love of London, she frequently travels back to her native city of Malmö to get back to the landscape of her childhood which fi­rst inspired her writing.

Hélene’s other books include: Because of You and We Never Said Goodbye.

You can find out more about Hélene by visiting her website and finding her on Facebook. You can also follow her on Twitter @helenefermont.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

His Guilty Secret poster

Challenges! A Guest Post by Catherine E. Winton, Author of Forty Is My Forte

Forty is my Forte

Being of a certain age, I’m always delighted to feature books on Linda’s Book Bag that are not just about 30-somethings, so it gives me enormous pleasure to welcome Catherine E. Winton, author of Forty is my Forte, to the blog today to tell us a bit more about her future plans as a more ‘mature’ woman.

Forty is my Forte is available for purchase in e-book and paperback here.

Forty is my Forte

Forty is my Forte

When Catherine started behaving oddly, her friends and family were a little concerned. ‘It’s a midlife crisis’ people whispered around her as she took to Edinburgh’s Royal Mile to busk on an instrument she couldn’t play. ‘She’s looking for a toy boy’ others gossiped as she drove an armoured people carrier under the carefree instruction of a teenage boy.

But when she auditioned for Britain’s Got Talent, with not a shred of talent to her name, people began to worry about her sanity.

This middle aged woman’s response to hitting the big four oh will have you laughing with her, and at her. And maybe, just maybe, it will inspire you to make your own crazy list of ‘firsts’ to celebrate your next big birthday.

Challenges!

A Guest Post by

Since the release of Forty is my Forte, people are always asking me what I’m planning to do to celebrate turning fifty. The nifty fifty perhaps? Quite honestly, the idea of coming up with an even longer list of challenges brings me out in a cold sweat; the trauma of coming up with ‘new and fun’ ideas still a very fresh memory. But what would be the top three to head up the list, you know, if I were to make one, for the next round of life accomplishments?

First up, something I got challenged to do many times during ‘forty’ and didn’t quite manage. That is to take up running, properly, and complete an event. It would have to be a decent distance. I’m no runner; anything more than a slightly accelerated saunter causes my brow to dampen and breathing to reach near-deafening levels. But I’m fairly sure even I could manage to Scout’s pace a 5k if there was the promise of a Mars Bar and a space blanket at the end. I like the idea of a half marathon, or even one of those obstacle courses with giant inflatables and plenty of mud. I don’t much like the idea of training for it though, especially now the evenings are dark and cold. Maybe in the Spring. I’m pretty sure I’ve uttered those words before.

The next one is a bit of a cheat. It’s not so much a ‘first’ as it is a ‘first in a long time’. I’d really like to use my passport. My younger days were filled with travel and adventure, but ever since I acquired some of those responsibilities commonly associated with mid-life, foreign travel doesn’t seem very high up the agenda. In fact in the last ten years all I’ve managed is a rain-soaked week in Majorca. I can’t pin down a destination I want to visit, there are simply too many.

I always said that when I had children, they would be given a rucksack for their sixteenth birthday and told to leave the country for two weeks. ‘Have an adventure!’ I’d tell them. Obviously this gem of an idea was born before my children. Sixteen now seems rather irresponsible, however it does concern me slightly that I might be raising children whose idea of foreign travel is a trip down to England to see Grampa. I need to take action, for their sake if not mine. I imagine we’ll start with a camping trip to France and build up to backpacking round Vietnam, en famille, from there. I feel confident about this one – the camping part at least.

Finally, a bit of a dream. As aspirational young newlyweds, my husband and I embarked on our own list. It wasn’t so much a bucket list as it was a ‘pie in the sky’ list. If you were to pick something you wanted to do, what would be the absolute best way to do it? Right up there was hot air ballooning. And if you’re going to do hot air ballooning, it would have to be over the Serengeti, we decided.  Then we busied ourselves acquiring all those responsibilities and who knows where the list is now! Of course I’d need my passport again. I really better give it a little trial run and check it still works.

Fifty is fast approaching, but not so close that there isn’t time to win the lottery / invent the new must have product / have my debut manuscript turned into a Hollywood blockbuster (Kate Winslet would play me, in case you’re wondering). I’m holding tight to the belief that I’ll be celebrating the next milestone, clinking glasses a thousand feet in the air, as the sun rises over the plains of the Serengeti. Either that, or in a tent in France.

(Oh, I can recommend the Serengeti Catherine. I loved being there. Vietnam too actually. Dig out that pie in the sky list and get going!)

About Catherine E. Winton

catherine Winton

As a child, Catherine had many aspirations; working in a shoe shop, winning an Olympic medal (sport to be confirmed) and owning a Peugeot 205 GTi in electric blue were high on the agenda. None of these came to pass.

She studied Hotel and Catering Management before committing to an itinerant life of under achieving.

Notably absent from her list was becoming a writer. She started writing accidentally in her early twenties, mostly journals scrawled while travelling and the occasional ranty piece in the student magazine. She found humour in the calamitous. Successful missions were given short shrift, while multiple pages were devoted to anything that didn’t quite go according to plan. Self-preservation, or a twisted sense of humour. You decide. Catherine lives in Edinburgh with her husband and two children.

You can visit Catherine’s website, follow her on Twitter @catherinewinton and find her on Facebook for more information.

A Winter’s Tale by Carrie Elks

A Winter's Tale

I adored Summer’s Lease by Carrie Elks so that when I received a copy of A Winter’s Tale from lovely Clara Diaz at Little Brown Books in return for an honest review I was thrilled. You can read my review of Summer’s Lease here.

A Winter’s Tale will be published by Piatkus, an imprint of Little Brown on 30th November 2018 and is available in e-book and paperback here.

A Winter’s Tale

A Winter's Tale

Christmas comes but once a year … but love lasts a lifetime.

Struggling film student Kitty Shakespeare is as bad at interviews as she is talented at making films. She’s given herself until the end of the year to score an internship in LA, otherwise it’ll be back to London with her tail between her legs. Unfortunately the only job offer on the table is as nanny to major producer Everett Klein’s son, Jonas. It’s not exactly the career she’d hoped for, but if she can get this right, then surely he’ll take a moment to look at her work. However, what Kitty hasn’t allowed for is Everett’s sexy-as-hell brother, Adam – and love at first sight this is not.

Adam Klein may be sexy, but he’s also gruff, rude and completely impossible. All he wants to do hole up in his cabin and hide from the brother who destroyed his life. If only he could find it easier to ignore the way Kitty makes his heart race . . .

As Christmas approaches, Kitty and Adam realise that although the course of true love never does run smooth, just maybe, it’s more interesting that way…

My Review of A Winter’s Tale

Ooo. Move over Kitty Shakespeare – I want to meet Adam Klein! I so adored Summer’s Lease that I was slightly apprehensive at reading this second Shakespeare Sisters book from Carrie Elks in case I was disappointed. I wasn’t!

Although the genre suggests that there is likely to be a happy ever after ending in A Winter’s tale, the plot is so well constructed that it’s a real joy finding out how the story will progress. I was completely intrigued by the mystery behind Adam and Everett’s feud and Carrie Elks writes so tantalisingly that she almost torments the reader as they find out snippets at the same time as Kitty. I love Carrie Elks’ style. Her writing is smooth as silk so that it feels grown up and sophisticated even when she’s conveying the most basic of human instincts and passions. The variety of sentence length, the use of occasional judicial ellipsis, the realistic dialogue and of course the wonderful choice of quotation from Shakespeare at the start of each chapter lend the story credibility and depth. Reading A Winter’s Tale is the women’s fiction equivalent of sinking into a perfect temperature bubble bath lit by candles with a glass of champagne on the side.

There is also a fabulous balance of perspective from Adam and Kitty making for brilliant insight into their minds and giving the reader a sense that they themselves are almost part of the action. I certainly felt Kitty’s physical attraction to Adam.

Characters are built up in stages too, just like the plot ,so that the reader gets to know them gradually. It’s a real treat to have them gradually revealed through their actions and dialogue with a sophistication sometimes missing from this genre. As in Summer’s Lease, there is quite an explicit exploration of sexual activity, but it is never gratuitous and is always beautifully handled, feeling intimate and appropriate.

I’m absolutely delighted I’ve discovered Carrie Elks’s Shakespeare Sisters. I think both Summer’s Lease and A Winter’s Tale are perfect escapist reads with just the right level of realism to make them ideal for readers who want sensuality, passion and a fabulous read.

About Carrie Elks

carrie-elks-headshot

Carrie Elks lives near London, England and writes contemporary romance with a dash of intrigue. She loves to travel and meet new people, and has lived in the USA and Switzerland as well as the UK. An avid social networker, she tries to limit her Facebook and Twitter time to stolen moments between writing chapters. When she isn’t reading or writing, she can usually be found baking, drinking wine or working out how to combine the two.

You can follow Carrie on Twitter @CarrieElks and visit her website. You’ll also find her on Facebook and Pinterest.