Grieving for the Living: A Guest Post by Marie Gameson, Author of The Giddy Career of Mr Gadd (deceased)

mr Gadd cover

I’m delighted to welcome Marie Gameson to Linda’s Book Bag today. Marie’s The Giddy Career of Mr Gadd (deceased) is one of the books that has got away from me this year and I haven’t been able to read. However, I am thrilled to be part of the tour for The Giddy Career of Mr Gadd (deceased) and to host a post from Marie today.

Published by Salt, The Giddy Career of Mr Gadd (deceased) is available for purchase in e-book and paperback here.

The Giddy Career of Mr Gadd (deceased)

mr Gadd cover

The Giddy Career of Mr Gadd (deceased) explores the painful themes of having to grieve for someone who is not yet dead, and trying to find one’s identity through an absent father.

Winifred Rigby follows a Zen-like path of serenity and detachment, whilst leaving havoc in her wake. When Fred, a stranger haunted by poltergeist activity, contacts Winnie, he insists that stories she wrote as a teenager hold the key to his supernatural problems, and she is forced to renew acquaintance with her younger self.

Where will it all lead?

Grieving for the Living

A Guest Post by Marie Gameson

The Giddy Career of Mr Gadd (deceased) does have lots of humour, but the main theme is grief – not so much grief for the dead as for the living. The main character, Winnie Rigby, is exasperated that her conversion to Buddhism and attachment to the Orient are strongly resented by her family, who seem in perpetual mourning for the person she used to be. Needless to say, Winnie’s family don’t share her joy when she recounts that the best experience of her life was a moment of profound insight whilst on a mountain in Taiwan – an experience which has left her with no sensation of her head.

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Taroko Gorge, Taiwan (where Winnie ‘saw the light’)

I wrote this book to explore an issue which has long bothered me, and more so recently:  how do you cope when someone close to you has substantially changed? The reason could be because they have had some physical or mental trauma, joined a cult, become an addict, or simply because they have adopted a new political or spiritual belief system. Of course, in the case of the latter, the grieved-for person can be annoyingly positive about the change; most of us have come across a new zealot, and have good reason to avoid ‘born-again Christians’, or ‘born-again anythings’. But whatever the reason for someone changing, that person is still alive, still looks pretty much the same, and yet is no longer the person you remember.

Having been tricked back to the UK, Winnie’s only objective is to get back to Taiwan just as soon as she can figure out how to replace the funds that have mysteriously disappeared from her account – (on her instructions according to the Bank) – but which seem to have gone to a cause that sounds suspiciously close to her mother’s heart. Winnie feels alienated and out of touch with her old life; in fact neither her old neighbourhood nor her old acquaintances seem familiar, which is inconvenient, as people who insist they know her turn up with irritating frequency. Determined to resist her family’s attempts to make her remember who she used to be, Winnie’s resolve is compromised when an elderly man turns up on her doorstep begging her to stop the late Mr Gadd from haunting him. Winnie finds out that Mr Gadd meant something significant to her younger self – if she could only remember what. And then her next challenge: she has to find him.

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Many thanks Linda for giving me a guest spot.

(My pleasure Marie and what a fascinating premise for a book. I’m only sorry I haven’t had chance to read The Giddy Career of Mr Gadd (deceased) yet.)

About Marie Gameson

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Marie is half of the mother and daughter writing team who published The Turtle Run as ‘Marie Evelyn’. Her latest book, The Giddy Career of Mr Gadd (deceased) was published by Salt this summer and is available on Amazon.

You can find out more about Marie and her books at her website. You can also follow Marie on Twitter @MarieGameson.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

Mr Gadd tour poster

What’s in a Name? A Guest Post by Clare Littlemore, Author of Flow

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One of the reasons I began blogging is because I used to review KS3 books for Hodder and write teacher resources to go with them. As a result I discovered a whole world of children’s and young adult (YA) books. However, some of my reader friends tell me they don’t read YA books because they won’t be ‘good enough’! I know that is absolutely mis-guided so I invited Clare Littlemore, author of the YA novel Flow, onto Linda’s Book Bag to tell me what she thinks on the subject. The only reason I haven’t read Flow is because my TBR pile is so high!

Flow is available for purchase on Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Flow

Flow cover

A world in tatters. A society where rebellion is not tolerated. A girl desperate to discover the truth.

Sixteen year old Quin lives in The Beck, a saviour society. Her community has risen from the ruins of a land shattered by Mother Nature. But Beck law is tough. Quin knows that the rules must be followed in order to sustain life in a place where floodwaters constantly threaten existence. A single violation could land her in Clearance.

But some laws are harder to follow than others. And as Quin discovers the horrifying truth, she knows she cannot stay silent forever.

Flow is the first in a series of books about a group of people struggling to survive after their world has been annihilated by devastating floods.

Warning: contains violence and some upsetting scenes. Recommended for a 13+ audience.

What’s in a Name?

A Guest Post by Clare Littlemore

I love Young Adult literature, and I’m proud to admit it. That said, it’s a difficult category to define. Unlike horror, romance or thriller, a YA book can be on pretty much any topic you’d care to imagine. The only thing tying books of the genre together is their target audience: teenagers between the age of thirteen and eighteen. And the fact that, in reality, they are read by many people outside that age range, yet many adults won’t admit to reading them due to their ‘YA’ name.

Let’s consider that. I know a ten year old who is mature enough to manage some YA books. And I know a few fifteen year olds who are possibly not. As for me, well, I’m forty one. And I’m far more likely to turn to a YA novel than I am any other genre, because I think a good YA novel is written with honesty, and with the harshest critics in mind.

Teenagers are nothing if not honest. When I began writing the first in my dystopian YA series, Flow, I wasn’t originally aiming at teenagers. The book is set at an unspecified time in the future, where the world is hugely flooded and the citizens living in my society are struggling for survival. Flow has been read and enjoyed by readers of both gender between the ages of eleven and seventy. But of all the people who have read it, the teenagers were by far the most inquisitive, the most engaged, the most interested my world, taking it not at face value, but digging beneath the surface, questioning elements of the nightmarish dystopian future I had created and demanding answers.

I recently ran a couple of creative writing workshops where the young adults in attendance made me consider things about the world of my novel which I had honestly never contemplated. Afterwards, when I went home and continued writing the sequel, their questions were ringing in my head, and made me consider the books in a different light. As a high school teacher, I should have known that teenagers would be engaged with the minutiae of the book in a way that adults rarely have the time or energy to be. That’s why YA books are so enthralling: they have to be.

I have had many adults read Flow and state ‘It wouldn’t be my usual genre, but I really enjoyed it.’ It made me wonder why they wouldn’t have considered a YA book before, but I suppose there is a kind of stigma to admitting as a fully grown adult that you enjoy YA books. I have stated myself in the past ‘I love YA books!’ and then followed it up hastily with ‘because I’m such a child!’ Yet why should I have been embarrassed to admit I was enjoying what was a truly brilliant book?

Because the title of the genre is very misleading. I was discussing this with a friend the other day, and she said she felt the YA genre was capable of bridging the gap between parents and their teenage children, encompassing books which could be enjoyed by both generations. Not books which parents read to young children when helping them learning to read, but books that are entertaining and engaging to both child and adult. This type of book often forges a connection at a time when teenagers might find it difficult relate to their parents.

Book are powerful. I have always felt this. A good book can stay with you throughout your entire life. And the shared experience of a book can be magical. The ten year old I was referring to earlier is my son. He has just begun to read suitable YA books which I have enjoyed in the past, and in discussing their contents we have discovered a whole new side to our relationship as the shared experience brings us closer together. He questions parts of the books I never did, and in a way which only a young adult could, and that’s what I love about the age he is entering.

That’s why I’m proud to say that I read and write YA fiction. And I’m really looking forward to the day he recommends a YA book of his own for me to read.

(Fabulous Clare. I agree with every word and as an adult approaching 60 I love YA fiction!)

About Clare Littlemore

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Clare Littlemore was born in Durham, in the UK. Her parents were both teachers, and she grew up in a world surrounded by books. She has worked for most of her life as a teacher of English at various high schools in England, where she has shared her passion for books with hundreds of teenagers. In 2013 she began writing her own fiction. Clare lives in Warrington in the North West of England with her husband and two children.

You can find out more by visiting Clare’s website, finding her on Facebook or following her on Twitter @clarelittlemore.

A Publication Day Extract from The Season for Love by M.W. Arnold

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With Christmas just around the corner, what better time to turn to love as a theme? I’m thrilled to be hosting an extract from The Season for Love by M.W. Arnold on Linda’s Book Bag today because I think we could all do with a bit of love in our lives.

The Season for Love is published today, 16th December 2017 and is available for purchase here.

The Season for Love

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Believing she was responsible for the death of her husband, Chrissie Stewart retreats from all those who love her. A chance meeting with mysterious stranger, single-parent Josh Morgan and his bewitching young daughter Lizzy, breathe new life into her and gradually, she feels able to start to let go of the memory of her lost love.

Unexpected links are revealed between the two families that strengthen the growing bonds she feels to this man and with the encouragement of her best friend Annie, herself hiding a hidden conflict from Chrissie, she battles with her demons to believe in her ability to trust and love again.

Everything comes to a head on Christmas Day; which all goes to show that this is truly The Season for Love.

An Extract from The Season for Love

Chapter One

You never get over a broken heart. You just paper over the cracks and try to keep going.

Goodnight Richie. I miss you.

Pressing a kiss to the picture she kept on her bedside table, she placed her diary down and turned off the light. Staring into the darkness, Chrissie could do nothing but wait for the tears to start. It had been the same routine each and every night since that terrible day eighteen months ago and tonight would be no different. So, drawing the duvet tighter, she succumbed to reliving the day that her husband had been killed. Drawing her knees towards her chest, she let the guilt and tears flood out until exhausted, she collapsed into the usual haunted slumber.

The next day dawned way too early and through bloodshot brown eyes. Swinging her feet out of bed, Chrissie shuffled into the tatty pair of her husband’s slippers, tugged on her old fluffy white dressing gown and reluctantly made her way to the bathroom. She shrugged her shoulders and slid the mirror on the bathroom cabinet sideways. Looking at her reflection was not something that she wanted to deal with that morning. Ten minutes later, she’d tied her shoulder length auburn hair back into a pony-tail and pulled on a pair of black jeans, matching pullover and a pair of yellow Doc Martens that clashed horribly with the rest of her outfit. Everyone at school had been nagging her to add a bit of color to the predominantly black she’d taken to wearing and she’d found that Richie’s old boots fitted her perfectly; so long as she wore a thick pair of socks.

Working in the school’s IT Department had been her first job after she’d left university and it was where she’d met Physical Education teacher Richard Stewart. It so happened that they’d been starting on the same day and consequently, they’d spent the whole day trawling through the usual endless orientation and paperwork and found they’d gotten on like the proverbial house on fire. When they’d been introduced and he’d said, ‘call me Mr. Fit Guy or MFG for short,’ and she hadn’t either laughed out loud or slapped his face, an unspoken understanding had flashed between them and, as they left the premises later that afternoon, they’d wandered off to the nearest pub and spent until closing time talking about everything and nothing and loving every minute.

Grabbing her bag, Chrissie locked the car and trudged up the steps of Parkway Grange Primary School, through the still empty atrium and down the corridor towards her shared office. If she was lucky, she’d be able to settle at her desk before her boss got in. She loved Annie Suso, but though they were best friends, she was getting a little tired of starting each day by being asked how she was doing? Annie wasn’t saying the actual words these days, but Chrissie was finding it very annoying at how much you could put into a raised eyebrow!

As the door opened, she knew her luck was out, so she plastered on her most convincing smile and looked up into her friend’s emerald green eyes. The daily routine followed its expected course. Annie didn’t need to know that she’d rushed out of her cottage that morning because the stupid radio DJ had insisted upon playing “their song”.

Picking up the To-Do list, she scanned down it for the most mind-numbing job, quickly locating a teacher who’d been using his DVD tray as a cup holder. Grabbing her diary from her bag, she told Annie where she was going and that she’d see her later. One of the benefits of working with her best friend was that she had the freedom to do pretty much what she wanted, it being just the pair of them in the whole department. The children were just starting to arrive so hurrying along the corridor she nipped into the staff toilets, opened a cubicle door, sat down on the seat and took out her diary.

‘Hi Richie. Well, things are still the same as yesterday, and the day before and the day before that. You know, I visualize you watching over me, it’s the only comfort I have. Oh, I could sit here all day and talk to you, just like we used to in the common room. Do you remember how many times we were called in to see the Headmistress because I’d made you late for your classes? Felt very much like a kid, but I miss those times so much.

Right, sorry, got to go and see some idiot about a computer now.

Love you babe. I miss you.’

Driving home that night, Chrissie wondered for the thousandth time why she didn’t change jobs and move away. Truth was she didn’t want to be too far from Richard’s grave. He’d grown up in Parkway Grange, been educated in the same Primary school, then the neighboring village’s Secondary and finally the College in the nearest town five miles away. He’d only been away to University to get his Physical Education Degree and then hot-footed it back when he’d lucked out with the offer of Physical Education teacher at the Village’s Primary school. Then, he had died in the village.

Automatically, she took a left turn before her cottage and parked up outside the cemetery. It was a typical late November evening so sighing resignedly she put up her umbrella as she got out of the car and, shielding her face as best she could from the rain, pushed open the gate and strolled down the pathway to the shade of an ancient beech tree. Sitting down on the bench, she leant forward, ignoring the dripping of the rainwater down her neck and brushing some leaves off the small granite headstone, focused on the most important words in the world:

See you in my dreams Richie. Forever, Your beloved Chrissie.

About M.W. Arnold

Mick

M.W. Arnold (Mick) is a hopeless romantic who was born in England, and spent fifteen years roaming around the world in the pay of HM Queen Elisabeth II in the Royal Air Force, before putting down roots, and realising how much he missed the travel. This, he’s replaced somewhat with his writing, including reviewing books and writing a regular post at the www.NovelKicks.co.uk blog site.

Mick’s the proud keeper of a cat bent on world domination, is mad on the music of Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys, and enjoys the theatre and humouring his Manchester United supporting wife. Finally, and most importantly, Mick’s a member of the Romantic Novelists Association, with the forthcoming publication of this, his debut novel, The Season for Love.

You can follow Mick on Twitter @Mick859 and find him on Facebook.

An Extract From The Stories She Tells By L K Chapman With Guest Post

The Stories She Tells

I’m frequently approached these days by new and aspiring authors asking me how best to go about getting a book published. I’m afraid I don’t have the answers so I’m delighted to welcome L K Chapman, author of The Stories She Tells to Linda’s Book Bag today to describe some of her route to publication. I also have an extract from this fabulous new psychological thriller to share.

The Stories She Tells is available for purchase here.

The Stories She Tells

The Stories She Tells

When Michael decides to track down ex-girlfriend Rae who disappeared ten years ago while pregnant with his baby, he knows it could change his life forever. His search for her takes unexpected turns as he unearths multiple changes of identity and a childhood she tried to pretend never happened, but nothing could prepare him for what awaits when he finally finds her.

Appearing to be happily married with a brand new baby daughter, Rae is cagey about what happened to Michael’s child and starts to say alarming things – that her husband is trying to force her to give up her new baby for adoption, that he’s attempting to undermine the bond between her and her child, and deliberately making her doubt her own sanity.

As Michael is drawn in deeper to her disturbing claims he begins to doubt the truth of what she is saying. But is she really making it all up, or is there a shocking and heartbreaking secret at the root of the stories she tells?

My Self-Publishing Journey

A Guest Post by L K Chapman

My journey towards being a writer started quite early – I wrote my very first novel while I was at school, and another while I was at university, but it was 2012, not long after I got married, when I first decided to try to write “seriously” with the aim of getting published. I initially tried to rewrite and work on the sci-fi novel I wrote while at university, but in the end I abandoned that and worked on a new idea instead, after taking a bit of time to focus on learning more about writing and editing and how to structure a book. It took me about eighteen months to write my first “proper” novel, then I approached a few literary agents, but I didn’t pursue that avenue for long and decided I would self-publish instead. My first novel Networked was released in 2014.

Networked

Initially I used a self-publishing company to format and publish the paperback version of my book and I also had a cover designer, but unfortunately this strategy didn’t work out well for me as I ended up not liking my cover and on top of that the self-publishing company went bust just a few months later and I never received my royalties from paperback sales. I never even found out how many copies I sold. That was a real low point for me, and it cost me a lot of money for things that I never even used as I had to re-publish the book myself, but it did push me to learn a lot of new skills. Now I publish my e-books using Amazon’s KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), and independent publishing platform Createspace for the paperback. Self-publishing was daunting to start with as I’m responsible for every aspect of my book – the cover, the contents, the formatting and the marketing, plus about a hundred other things! But it is possible, as I was amazed to discover when I first managed to do it! Publishing the paperbacks is really interesting – I don’t have to have a big stockpile of books in my house to try to sell (which is the vision I used to get when I thought about self-publishing!) Instead, copies of the book are only printed when somebody buys the book online. The book is printed in the country it is ordered and sent out to the customer, which is called print-on-demand. I didn’t know about any of this until I set about publishing a book myself, so it was a lot to take in!

Anything for Him

One really hard thing about self-publishing is that it’s difficult for your book to get any visibility or any sales. I went for weeks on end sometimes without a single sale, and it wasn’t until 2016 that things started to turn around for me with my second novel, psychological thriller Anything for Him. The sales of that book enabled me to invest some money in publishing my latest novel The Stories She Tells, so I had the book professionally copy-edited and had a cover designed.

This time I followed a recommendation from a highly successful independent author to find my cover designer and that worked out a lot better for me than my experience with my first book! I’m so pleased with the cover my designer produced for The Stories She Tells – I gave him a blurb for my book and a small list of existing book covers that I liked and felt were comparable to what I wanted in my cover. He then came back to me with a few initial designs and I picked my favourite. I loved the initial design so much I didn’t ask him to change anything! I think the overall atmosphere of the cover is almost more important to me than what is actually on it – I think the cover needs to be representative of the genre and give some hint of the mood of the book – is it fast and thrilling or slower paced and thoughtful? Friendly and bubbly or dark and creepy… I felt that the cover for The Stories She Tells captured the way that one of the characters is in quite a controlled, almost sterile environment that is suddenly shattered, like the wine glass on the cover.

I get lovely reactions from friends and family about my books – they are all very happy and pleased for me. I think being an author is one of those careers where if you say you want to do it you get a lot of people basically telling you that you can’t, but with how relatively straight-forward it is to self-publish books there aren’t so many barriers any more. It’s not been a particularly easy road, and when I look back now it’s amazing how much I’ve learnt and how much I continue to learn, but I’m hoping to publish many more books in the future!

(We hope so too! Thanks for this fascinating insight into your publishing journey. I’m sure readers can’t wait to look at the extract from The Stories She Tells that now follows.)

An Extract from The Stories She Tells

‘Not again,’ Sadie said, ‘please, not again.’

Michael looked down at the pregnancy test in her hand, and saw that it was negative. He sat down beside her on the bathroom floor, and put his arm around her awkwardly. ‘Sadie…’ he said.

‘No!’ she shouted, the suddenness and loudness of her voice taking him aback. She shoved his arm away. ‘No,’ she said again quietly.

Michael gave up. He knew how desperate she was for a baby and never had a clue what to say when she got a negative result. When he tried to talk to her he usually ended up putting his foot in it and making things worse. Sadie put the test down on the floor and rested her forehead on her knees, her hair falling forward and brushing her bare legs. It was six-thirty in the morning and she’d done the test the second she got up, so she was still wearing a baggy old t-shirt of his that she wore in bed. When she’d called him into the bathroom to wait for the result she’d looked glazed with sleep. He watched her as she slowly lifted her head again, took a deep breath and let it out in a long sigh. ‘I’m all right,’ she said. ‘I’m going to be all right. Just… just give me a minute.’

Michael left her and when she appeared half an hour later she was dressed and ready to go out. ‘Come on,’ she said when she found him in the living room eating a bowl of cereal in front of the TV, ‘we’re going to the shop today, aren’t we? You wanted to go in early before it opens―’

‘You don’t have to come,’ he said. ‘If you can’t face it I can go on my own―’

‘What would I do here? I don’t want to rattle around the house all day. I want to be busy.’

About L K Chapman

L K Chapman

Louise Katherine Chapman was born in Somerset, UK, in 1986. She studied psychology at the University of Southampton and has worked as a psychologist creating personality questionnaires for a consultancy company. She has also spent some time volunteering for mental health charity Mind.

L K Chapman loves to write because she loves learning about people and she loves stories. A major turning point in her life was the day she realised that no matter how strange, cruel or unfathomable the actions of other people can sometimes be, there is always a reason for it, some sequence of events to be unravelled. Since then she is always asking “why” and “what if” and she is fascinated by real life stories capturing the strength, peculiarities or extremes of human nature.

LK Chapman’s first novel, Networked, was a sci-fi thriller but now she’s turned her attention to writing psychological suspense. Her first psychological thriller, Anything for Him, was published in 2016, and her new novel The Stories She Tells was released in October 2017.

LK Chapman lives in Hampshire with her husband and young family. She enjoys walks in the woods, video games, and spending time with family and friends.

You can follow L K Chapman on Twitter @LK_Chapman and visit her website. You’ll also find her on Facebook.

Why We Need Fiction In A Rapidly Moving Technological World: A Guest Post by Will Ruff, Author of The Tomb of the Primal Dragon

Primal Dragon

I’m desperate to visit China to see the tomb of the ancient warriors so when Will Ruff got in touch about his novel The Tomb of the Primal Dragon, I had to invite him on the blog.

The Tomb of the Primal Dragon was published on 27th November 2017 and is available for purchase here.

The Tomb of the Primal Dragon

Arthur Biers is an aspiring historian looking for his path to graduate school when he gets invited to help tell the story of one of history’s deadliest tombs.

In 1974 two farmers digging a well outside of Xi’an, China, discovered a clay statue and a pot that belonged to China’s first Emperor. The site they discovered was the second pit of his mausoleum, and is one of the most interesting historical finds of the 20th century.

But the Emperor’s Tomb has yet to be excavated as claims have arisen from conspiracy theorists that the site is a fraud. The Tomb of the Primal Dragon tells the story of a group of researchers vying for the inside scoop on the tomb’s excavation as each source they investigate suggests there’s much more going on at the Museum than the excavation of historical relics.

Led by worldwide bestselling pseudo-historian, Bruce Philips, and technologist, Wyatt Waller, Art embarks on a journey across mainland China as they hunt down every lead to show the world what deadly secrets are buried inside the tomb.

Why We Need Fiction In A Rapidly Moving Technological World

A Guest Post by Will Ruff

When you look at how fast technology is moving in the world today, and you look at how few people read, it’s become evident that the art of storytelling is more important than ever.

And in a world that’s grown politically divided over every single topic, skepticism of the source is a concern that’s causing the general population to refuse to read news stories altogether. Everyone seems to do it.

This is why fiction is more relevant now than ever, because fiction at its best, can explore the world as it is, as we’d like it to be, and as we fear it will become, and when it’s done well, whether that’s in the form of a romance novel, a thriller, or a work of contemporary fiction, when it resonates, it creates unity within humanity instead of division. It celebrates the curious detours, and the inevitable challenges of life, and reminds us that we’re all a part of the same journey, that it’s the persistence through these struggles that makes us human.

Fiction challenges us to think about our core emotions, and successful fiction does so in a way that the reader is left looking inward at something else that gave them a similar feeling, and when they have none, and the writing is exceptional, the reader can’t help but feel empathy. When it’s done well, fiction is a unifying medium for all mankind.

Technology by contrast should be a similar force, but the trend in technology has been more brevity, more shallow appeal, and more “what can I get right now?” There is very little deferred gratification, and there is very little thought in the words you consume on these mediums. Let me be clear: they have value, and I don’t reject these tools, but the goal of these platforms is making as much money as quickly as possible with no regard for how it affects society.

To take a more optimistic approach, fiction has the power of influencing business and technology. It can draw attention to this technology, and start a conversation among crowds to better educate them about its abilities, and it can inspire people to celebrate their line of work. This is more evident in film and television, but I can think of a handful of doctors who celebrate every drama, and comedy out there that highlights their lifestyle. I can think of security people who praise the authenticity of shows like Mr. Robot, and I know that a combination of reading Jurassic Park, and watching Indiana Jones, inspired me to pursue a degree in history. Finally I can think of someone who went into the world of information systems when she was a young girl watching the original Tron in theaters.

What is the power of fiction? What is the allure of watching a story we know isn’t real? It’s exactly that. We have plenty of fields of study that try to explain the way things are, and they’re all incredibly important to follow, but fiction is the format that challenges us to ask, what if?

The next time you find yourself endlessly scrolling through some social media feed, I hope you’ll consider moving over to your bookshelf and picking up a novel you haven’t read. You might just find what you were looking for.

About Will Ruff

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Will Ruff is the author of the newly released The Tomb of the Primal Dragon, which is available on Amazon Kindle. The novel follows a young historian who gets invited to help research one of history’s deadliest tombs. You can learn more about Will here and follow him on Twitter @WilliamLRuff.

An Interview with Harriet Cabelly, Author of Living Well Despite Adversity

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Having had a tricky few recent years, it gives me very great pleasure to welcome Harriet Cabelly to Linda’s Book Bag to tell us a little bit more about her book Living Well Despite Adversity as I know I need some advice and I dare say many blog readers do too!

Living Well Despite Adversity is available for purchase in e-book and paperback here.

Living Well Despite Adversity

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Join Cheryl Strayed, Temple Grandin, Meredith Vieira and others as they share their honest accounts of heartbreak, and the secrets they discovered that led them to triumph ‘despite it all’.

In this collection of interviews, Harriet Cabelly has dug deep to reveal the critical wisdom found in the midst of huge challenge or loss. She highlights themes such as purpose and gratitude that all of us can incorporate into our lives as we go through our own difficult times. In particular, she reflects on the importance of developing resilience and a positive attitude, even in the face of insufferable odds.

The people in this book don’t flinch from telling it how it really is. Their stories are raw, at times, as they openly describe their struggles and how they have learned to cope with loss, disability and addiction.

Their stories will strengthen and inspire you.

They will show that you, too, can come out the other side of heartbreak intact and go on to rebuild a life filled with renewed meaning and joy. That, despite it all, you can thrive.

An Interview with Harriet Cabelly

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

I am a social worker, positive psychology coach, speaker and workshop facilitator.  And I now can add in author!  I am a guest coaching expert on WOR radio’s, Change Your Attitude, Change Your Life show.  I journey with my clients as they cope with and grow beyond their painful circumstances,  supporting and guiding them towards their best life.  I am a life-long learner and I love taking on new and challenging experiences – saying Yes to new opportunities.  I believe we can all rebuild our lives with renewed meaning, purpose and joy despite and through our personal challenges and adversities.  Hence my website – rebuildlifenow.com

Please could you tell us a bit about Living Well Despite Adversity?

This book is a compilation of interviews of people who have been able to transcend their personal challenges and losses and gone on to live with renewed meaning and joy.  The wisdom, teachings and inspiration are from the interviewees who share with open hearts their pain and the journey they’ve been on to come through whole and richly engaged in  a thriving life.

As well as being a writer, you’re also a social worker and positive psychology coach. How did these other roles lead you to writing Living Well Despite Adversity?

First and foremost I’m a parent of a daughter with special needs who miraculously survived a year-long medical crisis, which I write about in the book.  This book is really the outgrowth of her miracle, as I was searching for a way to honor it.   I have always been interested in this theme of people overcoming adversity; the idea that it’s not how we can avoid bad things happening since it’s inherent in the human condition, but rather when they do happen, how can we cope and still manage to have a good life, despite.  Since we’re only given this one life, it behoves us to make it as good as possible.

Combining my professional expertise and interest in people and their stories, together with my personal experiences, I decided to take my life theme on the road, so to speak, and when I started my blog years ago, I began my project of monthly interviews with people who exemplified this theme.

How did you decide whom to interview for Living Well Despite Adversity?

I wanted a variety of challenges and adversities, to show that it wasn’t the circumstance per se but rather how the people responded to their situation.   Since I’m a book lover and specifically of memoirs, I found many of my interviewees through their books.  I took the liberty to request a blog interview by email or phone and most surprisingly said yes.  As an unknown interviewer,  I was thrilled, especially when some more well-known people agreed.

Many of the stories in Living Well Despite Adversity show people with extremes of problems or emotion. How would you say their messages can be incorporated into anyone’s ordinary life?

These are stories of grief and resilience.  Research is now pointing to the fact that we can build our resilience, that it’s a learned set of skills we can develop and enhance within ourselves.   Although each person/interviewee’s circumstance is different, the themes that are gleaned out are universal: faith, support, purpose, gratitude, attitude, choice….  A main theme in the book that I hope comes across loud and clear is that it’s not our circumstance that defines us but rather our response to it; and we are responsible for our response.  We can intentionally and purposefully choose how we respond.   Another predominant theme is that feelings are to be felt – in other words, permission to feel.   We must allow ourselves to feel – the bad and the good.  In fact we need to grieve, that’s how we go through the pain.  As someone once said, “We can’t heal what we don’t feel.”

These vital messages of choice, response, allowing for our feelings, gratitude …are all ingredients for a life of well-being.

As a result of producing Living Well Despite Adversity what have you learnt?

I’ve learned that living well beyond loss and extreme challenges/adversity is very intentional.  It’s a choice.  It’s all too easy to fall prey to our circumstances and remain stuck in our pain.  All these interviewees made the decision to continue on living and learning how to do it well; not just to survive but to grow, create meaning out of their suffering and to thrive.

If you had 15 words to persuade a reader that Living Well Despite Adversity should be their next read, what would you say?

A book to guide and inspire us to cope and live well beyond our struggles.

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

About Harriet Cabelly

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Harriet Cabelly is a social worker, speaker and workshop facilitator who has appeared on ABC News as a parenting coach and is a guest coaching expert on WOR Radio’s, Change Your Attitude, Change Your Life Show. As a positive psychology coach, Harriet journeys with her clients as they cope with and grow beyond their painful situations.

You can follow Harriet on Twitter @rebuildlife and visit her website. You’ll also find her on Facebook.

Romantic Novelists’ Association Thank You Giveaway

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A few weeks ago I received a top secret email telling me I had been short-listed for The Romantic Novelists’ Association Industry Awards Media Star Award. I was, quite literally, astounded.

I knew that last year it had been won by the most amazing lady, Kim Nash who is not only a fellow blogger at Kim the Bookworm and someone I consider a friend, but the publicity and social media manager at publishers Bookouture.

I had no idea who had nominated me (and still don’t know – but if it was you, then thank you!). I was in Mauritius on holiday when the news was released and was beside myself with excitement but really didn’t expect to win.

The awards ceremony was held on 15th November 2017 and I was all set to go, although I needed to rearrange a few things in order to get there. Unfortunately things didn’t quite go according to plan!

As my father had died last November and the 15th was bang slap in between his death and his funeral, I had arranged to take my mother on a coach trip to Milton Keynes to see Vincent and Flavia in Tango Moderno as a distraction. My sister was willing to go in my place and I was all set. Unfortunately, my sister then developed a problem in the foot she had totally reconstructed a few years ago and we thought it was broken or some of the screws had come adrift. Either way, she was unable to walk and certainly couldn’t support my unsteady mother. It meant that I couldn’t attend the ceremony as I had to look after Mum.

Some of you know that day was a bit of a challenge. We had lunch in a restaurant and just as I was ordering my meal a large, heavy Christmas Bauble somewhere between a football and basketball in size dropped from the high ceiling on top of my head leaving a large lump and a thumping headache for the rest of the day! When the waiter said, ‘That’s the second one to drop down today’ I did feel maybe a lesson could be learnt.

bauble

However, we headed off to the theatre only to find Vincent wasn’t in it as he had injured his back…

On arrival home, Mum was very unsteady on her feet and couldn’t make it across the road. My husband duly collected us in the car and we took her home. About 30 minutes after he had said to me that he wouldn’t be surprised if she had a fall, the phone rang and it was Mum. She had fallen and broken her hip. She’d crawled to the phone and rung us. We called the ambulance and some six and a half hours later it finally arrived at 3.45 in the morning. It’s been a bit of a nightmare ever since!

It was amongst all of this chaos that I learnt I had actually won The RNA Media Star Award. I can’t begin to tell you how much it meant to me after a such a day of frustrations. I’m thrilled and delighted. Runner up was the wonderful Kaisha Holloway who blogs at The Writing Garnet. You can read all about the awards ceremony and the category winners here. but I confess to shedding a tear of joy when I read:

Media Star of the Year

Blogger Linda Hill was awarded Media Star of the Year for her continued support for romance novels through retweeting, reviewing and blogging. Friendly and professional, even when her TBR pile is overflowing, she’ll take more books on, going above and beyond the call of duty, and all with a smile. This award recognises those who have helped raise the profile of romance writing and/or the RNA in a positive way.

What wonderful words. Thank you, thank you, thank you RNA. Today postie has reignited all my excitement having delivered my certificate, closely follwed by my gorgeous award.

Award

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Now, I may have won the award, but if it were not for fabulous authors whose books I have the privilege to read, the generous publishers who send me copies for review and my fellow bloggers and others who share my posts this couldn’t have happened. As a result I would like to say an enormous thank you to all of you. I have found the bookish world to be supportive, friendly and talented and it is a joy to be part of it. By way of a thank you I’d like to run a small giveaway and you can enter below.

Giveaway

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To say thank you for all the bookish love and support I’ve received, not just through this Romantic Novelists’ Industry Award, I would like to offer an Amazon e-gift card of £20 or $20 to one of Linda’s Book Bag readers. To enter click here. Giveaway closes at UK midnight on Christmas Eve.

Good luck everyone and thank you all once again. Merry Christmas x