An Extract From Because We Are Bad by Lily Bailey

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I’m thrilled to be able to help celebrate the paperback publication of a book I’m desperate to read today; Because We Are Bad: OCD and a girl lost in thought by Lily Bailey and to share an extract with, you as I think we all have a little bit of OCD in us and I’ve heard such wonderful things about this book.

Because We Are Bad: OCD and a girl lost in thought is published by Canbury and is available for purchase here.

Because We Are Bad: OCD and a girl lost in thought

Because we are bad cover

As a child, Lily Bailey knew she was bad.

By the age of 13, she had killed someone with a thought, spread untold disease, and spied upon her classmates.

Only by performing a series of secret routines could she correct her wrongdoing. But it was never enough. She had a severe case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and it came with a bizarre twist.

This true story is from a startling new voice in non-fiction. It lights up the workings of the mind like Mark Haddon or Matt Haig.

Anyone who wants to know about OCD, and how to fight back, should read this book. Immerse yourself in a new world.

An Extract from Because We Are Bad

A woman swings round the doorway to the waiting room. She wears a long skirt and has puffy strawberry-blonde hair. ‘Lily?’ she says, like our name is a question in itself. ‘Lily?’ …We finally get up and follow Dr Finch. Her office is tucked away at the top of the building, along a reassuringly out-of-the-way corridor. She says to sit down, so we do, and we watch her shut the door and arrange herself on the chair opposite us with a file on her lap.

‘Tell me about you,’ she says.

I squeeze my eyes shut and try to hold on to this moment. These short few seconds are the bridge between when then becomes now. Then: you and me, together and on a mission to make me perfect, wedded together by our shared purpose. Now: a secret told that can’t be unspoken, a bond broken beyond repair thanks to my weakness. Everything I know about my world so far, changed by what I say next.

The promise of a full confession was made when I told Dr Ford the first part, even if I didn’t know it at the time. The facts are hard but irrefutable: I don’t want to live like this anymore. And any second now, I am going to tell the truth:

‘There are two of me in my head.’

Something strange has happened.

My head feels clear and fresh, like being dunked in an ice bucket and pulled out by the scruff of your neck—or slapped across the face by someone you respect.

These thoughts that have plagued me don’t define me.

These rules that must be obeyed to make sure nothing goes wrong might just be the things messing everything up.

‘Was she helpful?’ Mum asks tentatively, cutting through steak and kidney pie in the pub where we’ve gone for a debrief.

‘Yes—in a way. I have obsessive-compulsive disorder, but it’s treatable.’

‘Why didn’t you tell me?’

‘I didn’t know. I’d heard of OCD, but I thought it was all about lining up your books and checking the door’s locked. I mean, I do have that door thing a bit, but it’s so far from the main problem. . . . I didn’t make the link.’

She squeezes my hand and bites her lip. ‘I feel so terrible.’

‘Why?’

‘For not noticing.’

‘You couldn’t have. I live my life trying to come across as normal. All my energy seems to go into making sure no one does notice anything at all. If you knew, that would have meant I’d failed.’

‘I don’t get it, though. How is that OCD? I’m not saying I don’t believe you fully—I do. But why don’t I see you doing things over and over?’

‘I do it all in my head.’ I stop. I don’t want to talk to her about it properly; it was bad enough with a stranger. The whole thing is so shameful and exposing; it’s the naked-in-public nightmare, apart from the good bit where you wake up. And yet, of everyone who I could possibly tell, I think she probably deserves to know the most.

‘Darling?’

‘I make lists in my head of everything I’ve done that might be wrong. Then I repeat them over and over again and analyse them. I have to be perfect. I feel like if I do this enough, then one day I will be.’

‘Why?’

‘Why what?’

‘Why do you have to be perfect?’

‘You know what?’ I smile properly for the first time in days. ‘I’ve never really thought about it.’

(I’m sure this will resonate with so many readers. It’s certainly made me even more determined to get this book to the top of my TBR.)

About Lily Bailey

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Lily Bailey is a model and writer. She became a journalist in London in 2012, editing a news site and writing features and fashion articles for local publications including the Richmond Magazine and the Kingston Magazine.

As a child and teenager, Lily suffered from severe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). She kept her illness private, until the widespread misunderstanding of the disorder spurred her into action.

In 2014 she began campaigning for better awareness and understanding of OCD, and has tried to stop companies making products that trivialise the illness.

Her first book, Because We Are Bad, published in May 2016, relates her experience of OCD.

Lily lives in London with her dog, Rocky.

You can find out more about Lily by visiting her website. You can also follow her on Twitter @LilyBaileyUK.

Staying in with Milo James Fowler

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Having been a teacher (and an author) myself, it gives me great pleasure to welcome another teacher and author Milo James Fowler to Linda’s Book Bag to stay in with me today.

If you’re an author who’d also like to stay in with me to tell me about one of your books, please click here for more details.

Staying in with Milo James Fowler

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Milo. Thanks so much for staying in with me. 

Thanks for hosting. The weather outside is frightful.

Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it? 

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I’ve brought my newest release Vic Boyo, Doofus Detective in: Double Murders are Twice as Bad. I’ve heard it makes readers laugh out loud, and I’d say we’re all in need of a few good chuckles these days.

(The way my life has been of late I could certainly do with a few laughs Milo.)

What can we expect from an evening in with Vic Boyo, Doofus Detective in: Double Murders are Twice as Bad?

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A good belly laugh could be in store for anyone who picks up a copy of Vic Boyo, Doofus Detective. He’s part Sam Spade, part Inspector Clouseau, and part something else. Think Steve Carell from The Office transplanted into a 1930s hardboiled noir, and you’ve got the makings of this screwball detective story.

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(Sounds quite crazy to me.)

Here’s the official blurb: Two murders. One detective. Half a brain.  1931, New York City: Detective Vic Boyo may not be the brightest bulb in the chandelier, but that doesn’t stop him from solving cases as only he can. With a little luck and a whole lot of gumption, Boyo sets out to find the murderer of a local cop. Problem is, Boyo’s more interested in a gorgeous femme fatale accused of killing her husband. She’s destined for the electric chair, but Boyo’s got a hunch she might be innocent. And nobody gets in the way of Boyo’s hunches, not even Vic Boyo himself.

(You’re right Milo. This really does sound totally screwball!)

What else have you brought along and why? 

tea

I’ve got enough chai tea here for anybody who’s thirsty (a good book-reading beverage, methinks) and a copy of Gershwin’s Rhapsody In Blue on CD because I’m old school that way. The music keeps me in the mood for Vic Boyo’s crime-fighting antics. Is he a defective detective or a true blue American hero? Read Double Murders are Twice as Bad to find out!

(Oh! A guest who bring any form of tea is always welcome in this house Milo.)

Thanks so much for staying in with me, Milo, to tell me all about Vic Boyo, Doofus Detective in: Double Murders are Twice as Bad. I’ll just put the kettle on for that tea..

Vic Boyo, Doofus Detective in: Double Murders are Twice as Bad

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1931, New York City: Detective Vic Boyo may not be the brightest bulb in the chandelier, but that doesn’t stop him from solving cases as only he can.

With a little luck and a whole lot of gumption, Boyo sets out to find the murderer of a local cop.

Problem is, Boyo’s more interested in a gorgeous femme fatale accused of killing her husband.

She’s destined for the electric chair, but Boyo’s got a hunch she might be innocent.

And nobody gets in the way of Boyo’s hunches, not even Vic Boyo himself.

Vic Boyo, Doofus Detective in: Double Murders are Twice as Bad is available for purchase here.

About Milo James Fowler

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Milo James Fowler is a teacher by day and a speculative fictioneer by night. When he’s not grading papers, he’s imagining what the world might be like in a dozen alternate realities. So far, his short fiction has appeared in more than 150 publications, including AE SciFiBeneath Ceaseless SkiesCosmosDaily Science Fiction, Nature, and Shimmer. Find his novels, novellas, and short story collections wherever books are sold. Milo is represented by the Zack Company.

There’s more on Milo’s website and you can find him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @mfowler76.

Staying in with Kirsty Ferry

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It gives me very great pleasure to welcome Kirsty Ferry to Linda’s Book Bag today to stay in with me and tell me about one of her books.

If you’re an author who’d also like to stay in with me to tell me about one of your books, please click here for more details.

Staying in with Kirsty Ferry

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Kirsty. Thanks so much for staying in with me. Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?

Hi Linda, thanks for inviting me! I’ve brought along The Girl in the Photograph. It’s just come out in paperback so I’m very loved up with it at the minute and keep ruffling the pages. Very satisfying – you can’t really do that with an ebook!

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(Congratulations on the paperback release Kirsty. I know exactly what you mean about ruffling those pages. You don’t get that glorious new book smell from an ebook either!)

What can we expect from an evening in with The Girl in the Photograph?

You can, I hope, expect to be transported from winter and enjoy some sun, sea and warmth with Lissy and Stefano as they reconnect after seven years apart. Lissy has tried to put Stef behind her and swears she’s over him, but deep down there’s still a spark that refuses to go out. It takes some previous inhabitants of Sea Scarr Hall on the North Yorkshire coast to make Lissy realise that the sort of love she and Stef share, never ever goes away – and the ghosts of Julian and Lorelei should know that.

(The Girl in the Photograph sounds such a lovely read. I think I might have to break my own rules of not taking on anything new and add it to my TBR!)

What else have you brought along and why?

wine and choc

I’ve brought wine and chocolate – Lissy’s favourite indulgences for when she’s sitting on her decking, looking out to sea on a summer’s evening. I’ve also brought some sun tan lotion and flip flops. I’m going to have a little swim in the private cove myself, I think, and I don’t want sunburn or to stand on any sharp pebbles, thank you very much.

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(I’d love a dip too. I’ll just fetch my cossie. In the mean time, maybe you’d better save the wine until after the swim?)

Thanks so much for staying in with me to tell me all about The Girl in the Photograph Kirsty. It sounds exactly my kind of read.

Thanks for having me – is okay if I just finish up this chocolate? Thanks. Yes. That’s lovely … just pop the rest in my handbag …

(Er…)

The Girl in the Photograph

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What if the past was trying to teach you a lesson?

Staying alone in the shadow of an abandoned manor house in Yorkshire would be madness to some, but art enthusiast Lissy de Luca can’t wait. Lissy has her reasons for seeking isolation, and she wants to study the Staithes Group an artists commune active at the turn of the twentieth century.

Lissy is fascinated by the imposing Sea Scarr Hall but the deeper she delves, the stranger things get. A lonely figure patrols the cove at night, whilst a hidden painting leads to a chilling realisation. And then there’s the photograph of the girl; so beautiful she could be a mermaid … and so familiar.

As Lissy further immerses herself, she comes to an eerie conclusion: The occupants of Sea Scarr Hall are long gone, but they have a message for her and they’re going to make sure she gets it.

The Girl in the Photograph is available to purchase as an eBook and paperback from all good book retailers. Click here for buying options.  

About Kirsty Ferry

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Kirsty Ferry is from the North East of England and lives there with her husband and son. She won the English Heritage/Belsay Hall National Creative Writing competition in 2009 and has had articles and short stories published in Peoples Friend, The Weekly News, It’s Fate, Vintage Script, Ghost Voices and First Edition. Her work also appears in several anthologies, incorporating such diverse themes as vampires, crime, angels and more.

Kirsty loves writing ghostly mysteries and interweaving fact and fiction. The research is almost as much fun as writing the book itself, and if she can add a wonderful setting and a dollop of history, that’s even better.

Her day job involves sharing a building with an eclectic collection of ghosts, which can often prove rather interesting.

You can follow Kirsty on Twitter @Kirsty_Ferry You’ll also find Kirsty on Facebook.

Characters: A Guest Post by Sue Hampton, Author of The Lucy Wilson Mysteries: Avatars of the Intelligence

Lucy and Wilson

It’s a while ago that Sue Hampton featured on Linda’s Book bag when I reviewed her wonderful collection Ravelled and Other Stories here. Today, Sue returns to tell us all about her latest book, this time one for children The Lucy Wilson Mysteries: Avatars of the Intelligence.

The Lucy Wilson Mysteries: Avatars of the Intelligence, published yesterday, 29th March 2018, by Candy Jar is available for purchase here.

The Lucy Wilson Mysteries: Avatars of the Intelligence

Lucy and Wilson

Lucy Wilson doesn’t want to move from London to sleepy South Wales. But when she arrives at her new seaside home, it doesn’t appear to be as boring as she expected.

Ogmore-by-Sea seems to be under the control of a mysterious and powerful force. But why is Lucy its target? And why, when students at her new school start to disappear, does no one seem to care?

With the help of her new friend Hobo, Lucy Wilson must assume the mantle of her grandfather, the legendary Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, and defeat an invisible enemy before it’s too late.

The Lucy Wilson Mysteries is a Lethbridge-Stewart spin-off adventure and features licensed characters created for Doctor Who by Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln.  

Characters

A Guest Post by Sue Hampton

As a sensitive child I was genuinely frightened of Daleks and Cybermen in the black-and-white days of Doctor Who, and never really ventured back once latex and dodgy sets had been replaced by CGI. But recently I’ve returned to sci-fi and it’s taught me a lot. I’ve fleshed out a new action heroine in the form of Lucy Wilson, for the first novel in a series with Candy Jar. I hope she will mean as much as the female Doctor to those girls who meet her on the page, but to boys, their mums and dads and grandparents too. Lucy Wilson’s world may not be as real as ours but it’s not so different either, and we need girls like her. We need boys to respect girls like her. And we need other girls to respect her too.

Every genre –and I’ve explored most of them in 31 books – has its register and rules (even though like most writers I sometimes like to push those a little). Being a form of fantasy with a kind of credibility built on science – often undiscovered but already imagined – sci-fi offers a heady freedom, but also parameters. The idea is to develop something fresh within a tradition readers recognise, but for me, and in science fiction sometimes categorised as soft, the characters always carry the narrative and make it matter. The rest is context. At the core of any good novel, whatever the genre, are the central character’s feelings and relationships, needs, strengths, weaknesses and unique, complex wholeness. Cue Lucy.

Like a baby delivered by a stork she landed on my doormat, in the sense that she has a heritage, a family tree that’s copyrighted and can’t be tinkered with. It’s in her blood. But when I help children create a character for writer-in-residence projects in school I tell them such basics are just the start. We find various angles from which to get to know her and when we think about three defining adjectives there’s one that springs more forcefully to mind than any other. In an adventure of any kind, real-world and emotional or sci-fi and powerfully wild, courage is essential. A character that lacks it at the start will have to find it. And in Lucy’s case, it’s not the lack that’s a potential problem but the excess. She knows no fear, and young readers will know how vulnerable that can make her as it pushes her beyond the usual limits. Naturally there’s an exception, but they have to wait a little for that, with the clues lying low where clues should. A character with no Achilles heel is an intolerable and preposterous thing! But courage in action has to find a wider remit than resisting the evil that is the Great Intelligence.

Right from the start, even when she’s being stroppy about being dragged away from her London life to Ogmore-by-Sea, that courage kicks in as she defends Hobo, the boy she’s just met and thinks a bit of an oddball, because she recognises bitchiness when she hears it. Lucy has a strongly developed sense of justice and that means resisting everyday evils like prejudice and bullying too. All of this makes her a heroine we might call feisty and committed, but she must be flawed. Lucy’s enormously spirited and imaginative but she can misjudge situations and is sometimes, like girls her age, unreasonable. More than that she needs, like most strong characters, to be funny – and that means sharply witty but it may also make her just a bit ridiculous at times. As we all are. I hope I’m not the only author who loves her characters with a passion and Lucy is no exception. In more senses than one, I believe in her.

Lucy is the character I follow in close third person, but she needs a friend who will not be an echo or variation but an individual to challenge her. When the Head of Publishing mentioned a boy with alopecia my resistance to the project crumbled. But while I’ve explored alopecia in two teenage books, in those stories it is, to a great extent, the story. Here was an opportunity to create a boy who only happens to live without hair. What defines Hobo, apart from his ‘anagramitis’, is his intellectual energy and sense of fun, along with the deep inner strength and kindness I’ve seen many times in the young people I support, as Ambassador for Alopecia UK, with their hair loss. Of course I also saw an opportunity to shed light, for children unaware of the difficulties, on this interesting condition – while celebrating diversity in a broader sense (Lucy is mixed-race and one of her brothers is gay).

At the comprehensive where the Head of English bought 750 preview copies, I’m told everyone loves Hobo. But the frankness of children can be startling. After a school assembly on another recent author visit, a boy came up to me to say, “Lucy must be a really nice girl to have a boy with alopecia as a best friend.” GULP! An adult retorted that Hobo must be pretty cool not to be threatened by a strong girl like Lucy.

Once I found my bearings in the thrillingly liberating world of sci-fi, I had a blast. I hope readers will too – whether they’re Y5 or 6, teenagers or adult #Whovians. For all the strange happenings, I’ve also kept it real. That’s the difference fully-rounded characters make. Anyone will relate to their feelings and their relationships. Otherwise, however exciting the plot, why would readers care?

About Sue Hampton

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Sue Hampton writes for adults as well as children and teenagers, and across genres. An ex-teacher, she was inspired by the stories of Michael Morpurgo, because she witnessed their emotional power over young readers. Sue aims to write deep, compelling novels that will make people think and feel. Now a full-time author, Sue visits schools of all kinds and works with young people of all ages.

Many of her passions can be detected in her novels, which are all different, (some historical, one futuristic, one magical and funny) but have in common themes like love, courage, freedom and our right to be different.

Sue herself looks a little different from most women because she has alopecia, having lost all her hair in 1981. After writing The Waterhouse Girl about a girl with alopecia, she began going bareheaded and feels strangely liberated even though it isn’t easy. As an Ambassador for Alopecia UK she supports others with hair loss and led a team on Eggheads, winning £25K for the charity. Sue also lectures on the importance of fiction in school.

You can find out more about Sue on her website, on Facebook and by following her on Twitter.

Staying in with Darlene Foster

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Many moons ago when I had a career, one of my favourite roles was reading fiction aimed at 11-14 year olds and writing resources based on the books for classroom use for a large UK publisher. When I heard that Darlene Forster writes for a similar age group I just had to invite her to stay in with me and tell me about one of her books. Luckily she agreed to come!

If you’re an author who’d also like to stay in with me to tell me about one of your books, please click here for more details.

Staying in with Darlene Foster

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag, Darlene. Thanks so much for staying in with me. Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?

Thank you for inviting me over. It’s a perfect evening to talk about books.

(Any evening is a perfect one to talk about books Darlene!)

I brought Amanda in New Mexico – Ghosts in the Wind with me because it’s the latest in the Amanda Travels series. It’s a fun book to talk about at night because, as you can see from the title, there just might be ghosts in it. Also New Mexico is a cool place.

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(I love being transported to new places and I haven’t been to New Mexico – yet!)

Just to let you know a bit about our heroine – Amanda Ross was a bored 12 year old Canadian girl until she started to travel. Boy did her life change then! In the United Arab Emirates she finds herself in the middle of an adventure that involves a runaway princess, bounty hunters, camels and a sand storm. She often wishes she were back home in her boring but safe life again. Amanda joins her friend Leah in Spain where they help a young girl escape the clutches of a mean horse thief. She also visits her friend in England where they get lost in a maze, hide in an underground tunnel and ride the London Eye in search of a missing vintage novel. When Leah visits Amanda in Alberta, they take in all the sights while trying to decipher the mysterious writing on a stone and keep it from getting into the wrong hands. They even go on a cruise down the Danube where Amanda is asked to look after a violin for a homeless musician. It seems others want this instrument as well. No matter where Amanda travels, she can’t seem to stay away from danger.

(I absolutely love the sound of Amanda. She sounds like my kind of girl. I also seem to attract trouble when I travel so I think we’d have a lot in common…)

What can we expect from an evening in with Amanda in New Mexico – Ghosts in the Wind?

In this adventure, Amanda is on a school trip to Taos, New Mexico with several fellow creative students. She shares a room with Cleo, an anxious classmate who insists she sees ghosts. Determined to prove there is no such thing, Amanda can’t seem to shake the feeling that something or someone is watching her.

(Sounds brilliant!)

This is what one reviewer had to say:

New Mexico is indeed an enchanting place, and Darlene Foster brings it to lovely, haunting life in this instalment of Amanda’s adventures. Sixth-grader Amanda is a brave traveller, up for anything, and definitely doesn’t believe in ghosts…but even she starts getting spooked and wondering if she needs to change her mind when she goes on a class trip to Taos and vicinity, with all its Old West locales with turbulent pasts. Delightful armchair travel, as ever from Darlene’s books, as well as enticingly spooky ghost stories–what’s not to like? Molly R

And this from a young reader and reviewer:

What I particularly love about this book as with all of the Amanda books, is that you feel like you are on a travel adventure with Amanda and her friends. The reader learns a lot about the place Amanda visits each and every time. I enjoyed this book, and I look forward to more of Amanda’s travels. Eric W

Taos Pueblo

So let’s join Amanda, Cleo and their funny friend, Caleb, as they visit a rugged and beautiful landscape where a traditional hacienda, an ancient pueblo, and a haunted and spooky hotel all hold secrets to a wild and violent past.

Does Cleo really see ghosts? Can Amanda escape the eerie wind that follows her everywhere she goes? Perhaps the Day of the Dead will reveal the mysteries of Taos.

As another reader said:

Amanda is a great character: fearless, a little mischievous, and always ready to help someone! Christa P

(You must be delighted with reader reactions to Amanda and her adventures Darlene.)

What else have you brought along and why?

I brought along some bean burritos with salsa verde for us to nibble on while we chat. I hope they aren’t too spicy.

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(Not too spicy at all. I love this kind of food. Thanks Darlene!)

I also brought a couple of pictures from my album of my visit to Taos, New Mexico. It truly is fascinating with many reminders of the past. The perfect place for an adventure.

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 Enchanted Circle Pottery

Thanks so much for staying in with me to tell me all about Amanda in New Mexico – Ghosts in the Wind, Darlene. I’ve really enjoyed hearing about Amanda’s adventures and now I want to hop on a plane to New Mexico!

Amanda in New Mexico – Ghosts in the Wind

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Amanda Ross is on a school trip to Taos, New Mexico with several of her fellow creative students. Join Amanda, Cleo and their funny friend, Caleb, as they visit an ancient and beautiful landscape where a traditional hacienda, an ancient pueblo, and a haunted and spooky hotel all hold secrets to a wild and violent past. Does Cleo really see ghosts? Can Amanda escape the eerie wind that follows her everywhere? Perhaps the Day of the Dead will reveal the mysteries of Taos in this latest adventure of Amanda’s travels.

Amanda in New Mexico – Ghosts in the Wind is available for purchase through the publisher links here.

About Darlene Foster

Darlene

Darlene Foster is a writer, an employment counsellor, an ESL tutor for children, a wife, mother and grandmother. She loves travel, shoes, cooking, reading, sewing, chocolate, music, the beach and making new friends. Her 13-year-old grandson called her “super-mega-woman-supreme”. She was brought up on a ranch near Medicine Hat, Alberta, where she dreamt of traveling the world and meeting interesting people. She currently divides her time between the west coast of Canada and the Costa Blanca in Spain, with her husband Paul.

Amanda in Arabia-The Perfume Flask was her first published novel. Once bitten by the travel bug, Amanda travels to other interesting places, sticking her nose in other people’s problems and getting herself in trouble. Read Amanda in Spain – The Girl in the Painting, Amanda in England – The Missing Novel, Amanda in Alberta – The Writing on the Stone, and Amanda on the Danube – The Sounds of Music to find out the adventures Amanda has as she travels the world. You can find all of these books here.

You can find out more about Darlene by visiting her website and her blog. You’ll also find her on Facebook and Twitter @supermegawoman.

Fantasy Wishes: A Guest Post by Lorraine Hellier, Author of The Elf King

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As someone who thoroughly enjoys children’s fiction, I’d like to thank fellow blogger and friend Rachel from Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in this blog blitz for The Elf King by Lorraine Hellier.

Although sadly I didn’t have time to read The Elf King I did ask Lorraine about her fantasy wishes and luckily she has agreed to tell me in a super guest post.

The Elf King is available for purchase here.

The Elf King

The Elf King - 9781785898877 Front cover Elf

Bay Leaf is the new Elf King and must take his Oath of Allegiance. His sister, Sweet Pea, demonstrates her love and support on a perilous journey to the Mountain Shrine.

An enchanted book offers advice and guidance from their ancestors and warns Sweet Pea to take care of her brother. Will her interference resolve Bay Leaf’s heartache?

Fantasy Wishes

A Guest Post by Lorraine Hellier

Thank you for inviting me to your blog.

(My pleasure Lorraine.)

Although I write Children’s Fantasy novels and enjoy the escapism with my characters, I hadn’t considered my own fantasy wishes. I took a while to consider and I’m sure the ones I’ve chosen now will change in the future.

(I like to set my authors a challenge Lorraine!)

These fantasy ideas would make great research for me.

My three Fantasy wishes:

1. To ride on the wings of a golden eagle, feel the soft feathers of its neck and the sense of freedom as he rides the wind currents. To experience flying above the clouds looking down on mountains, rivers and valleys would be so exhilarating. The thought of seeing places we could never access fills me with wonder. The bird’s eye view of landscape appeals to me, especially at dawn and sunset, the colours must be spectacular. Although I’m not artistic I know I would appreciate the awesomeness of the views.

2. To travel back in time and watch how life was centuries ago, for example: visit Medieval Britain, Ancient Egypt or Early Romans.

Medieval Britain would be an interesting attack on the senses: to have the opportunity to see the contrast between the poverty of the many and wealth of land owners, Lords, Ladies and Royalty. It would smell gross due to lack of sanitation and animals. I’d find it intriguing to hear the dialects and how they traded. Also I’d like to discover how they wove and dyed cloth and crafted without modern machinery. The food of the wealthy in medieval times would probably be strange to modern tastes and the poor must have scraped for root vegetables and potatoes from fields and foraged from hedgerows and woods. So visiting would make me appreciate living in the 21st century.

Ancient Egypt would be fascinating, seeing how they built the pyramids and buried the treasures of the Kings. The slave labour would be hard to watch but to understand the culture of the times and know how their beliefs of the afterlife made them bury treasures with their dead would be amazing. I’d love to see the treasures first hand and watch how they made the jewellery.

Early Roman civilization was highly advanced as discovered from Roman ruins in various countries. Their knowledge seemed way ahead of the times, so I’d love to meet the Romans who were their inventors. Their roads, heating and water systems are a few of the Roman remains uncovered.

3. Invisibility – to be able to solve mysteries and crimes by hearing and seeing behind the scenes. The expression “being a fly on the wall” springs to mind here. How exciting it would be to hear that vital clue and be the one to discover the mystery or solve the crime. The satisfaction of being the one to actually break the case would be so cool. I’d be a little wary of how I used this, only for a purpose not with malice in mind, that’s not my style.

(Great choices!)

About Lorraine Hellier

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Lorraine Hellier writes from her canal-side home near the cathedral city of Lichfield, Staffordshire. She visits local schools offering Author Visits and Creative Writing Workshops.  She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators supporting and encouraging other members.

Lorraine loves to travel, a visit to New Zealand inspired this novel.

The sequel to The Elk KingThe Elf Quest will be published April 2018.

You can find out more by visiting Lorraine’s website or finding her on Facebook.

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Staying in with June Kearns

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Having been so honoured to win an award from the Romantic Novelists’ Association last year, I’m absolutely delighted to welcome one of their members, June Kearns, to Linda’s Book Bag to stay in with me today.

If you’re an author who’d also like to stay in with me to tell me about one of your books, please click here for more details.

Staying in with June Kearns

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag June. Thanks so much for staying in with me. Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?

Thank you so much for this lovely invitation, Linda!

Tonight, I’ve brought along my first novel: An Englishwoman’s Guide to the Cowboy  – which has recently had a real renaissance!

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Years ago, the first chapter won a national magazine competition and I still love the setting and characters. Here’s a bit more about it:

The American West, after the Civil War – a wild and restless place.

Into this background, wanders a party of Englishwomen. Well-bred spinster Annie Haddon – (product of mustn’t take off your hat, mustn’t take off your gloves, mustn’t get hot or perspire Victorian society) –together with an aunt the last word in snobbery, and a spoiled and brittle cousin.

After a stagecoach wreck, Annie is thrown into the company of renegade Colt McCall, part-Irish part-Sioux – a man who lives by his own rules and who hates the English.

Can two people – moulded by their backgrounds and pasts – overcome that conditioning?

Annie and McCall find out on their journey across the haunting, mystical landscape of the West.

(Congratulations on that win. I rather like the sound of Colt McCall June. I think he might be someone I wouldn’t mind meeting on a dark night!)

What can we expect from an evening in with An Englishwoman’s Guide to the Cowboy?

Here’s a recent review from Lizanne Lloyd:

‘An Englishwoman’s Guide to the Cowboy is superb. A brave desirable hero, a sympathetic heroine and an amazing historical setting made it such a pleasure to read.’

So, how did I come to write it?
Well, when I was growing up – a small, sturdy little girl, blessed with corkscrew hair that frizzed in damp weather and a tendency to flush easily – I developed a real aversion to beautiful heroines!

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(What a wonderful photo, June. Thanks for bringing it along with you.)

Annie Haddon – my Victorian bluestocking in this book – has a limp. (I’d been sorely tempted to give her a stutter – but thankfully was talked out of it!)

(Oh, yes. That would have been a nightmare to write the dialogue.)

I just wanted to show that a small, plain main character can also generate passion, through great conversation and humour.

Plus, having been brought up in a tiny Victorian terrace – with dim rooms and high windows – I have a thing about the effect of light and landscape, too. The idea of open, empty land stretching out to the horizon – as featured in films such as The Big Country and Giant – has always seemed incredibly seductive.

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Two photos taken in Marin County, not far from San Francisco where our eldest son lives; it’s just that sort of wonderful, inspirational space.

The Westerns I loved as a child though, were all clear cut. The hero was always handsome, and if a stranger got off the stagecoach and kicked a dog – he was the baddie. I liked the idea of jiggling all that up a bit!

So, after that stagecoach wreck, Annie finds herself alone – abandoned by relatives and forced into company of renegade Colt McCall, who sees her as both a dangerous encumbrance and unwelcome irritation.

‘In full glare of the sun, the heat was brutal. Strings of hair fell down round her face and Annie pushed them away with a sticky, horse-smelling hand. ‘Won’t it be years though before the railroad gets going properly?’
‘Lady, I couldn’t rightly say.’
‘I read something about it in my journal.’
Her journal! In her trunk. Along with just about everything else that she owned. Not that this man would understand how much those things meant to her. Gross ignorance, vulgar manners were both so widespread here.
‘Almost everything I own,’ she murmured, ‘was in that trunk. The one you made me leave back there. Bound copies of Dickens, an entire set of-’
‘That’s okay,’ he said, heaving her onto the horse and boosting himself up behind. ‘Comanche love Dickens, Apaches now, they’re more partial to Edgar Allan Poe.’
A flush rose on Annie’s neck. Staring ahead, eyes sliding out of focus, she felt his contempt oozing into her back.’

(Woo – I love that extract. It really makes me want to find out more about An Englishwoman’s Guide to the Cowboy.)

So, who or what else have you brought along?

Well, I hope this is alright with you Linda, but as well as my best writing buddies – Lizzie Lamb, Adrienne Vaughan and Mags Cullingford (all pictured here, and a constant source of support and encouragement!)

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(That’s more than acceptable June. Both Lizzie and Adrienne have stayed in with me before and I know how much fun they can be. I’ll have to invite Mags over too. This could be a good evening!)

… I’ve also brought along all five of my sister-in-laws. (It may be a wee bit of a squash, but p’raps if we all budge up and bring plenty of nibbles, cake and wine?!)

(It’s a reasonable size sofa June and there’s plenty of room on the floor but I think my husband might make himself scarce with all these women…)

I like men. When I was growing up (an only child) they were a bit of mystery – but I married one, and now have 4 sons, (one daughter). It was the influence of women though that persuaded me to write. Picking out the small details of their lives fascinates me. It feels a bit like tapestry.

So marrying into a large Irish family, I acquired my sister-in-laws (Ann, Julia, Kathleen, Beverley and Nuala) – every one of the no-nonsense mind-set: ‘no matter how old you are, you can still learn to tap dance and play the ukulele’ , (not necessarily at the same time!) Always inspiring, incredibly encouraging and every one of them great fun on a night out like this!!

(Looks like we’ve plenty of entertainment lined up then! I’ll just go and fetch my tap shoes…)

Thanks so much for staying in with me June to tell me all about An Englishwoman’s Guide to the Cowboy. I didn’t realise it was going to be such a party and I’ve really enjoyed it.

An Englishwoman’s Guide to the Cowboy

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Jane Austen meets Zane Grey.

The American West,1867.

After a stagecoach wreck, well-bred bookish spinster, Annie Haddon, (product of mustn’t-take-off-your-hat, mustn’t-take-off-your-gloves, mustn’t-get -hot-or-perspire Victorian society) is thrown into the company of cowboy, Colt McCall – a man who lives by his own rules and hates the English.

Can two people from such wildly different backgrounds learn to trust each other?

Annie and McCall find out on their journey across the haunting, mystical landscape of the West

An Englishwoman’s Guide to the Cowboy is available for purchase here.

About June Kearns

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An only child, June Kearns was always a daydreamer who spent a lot of time staring into space and making things up.

She was brought up by women – her grandmother, mum and aunts circling round with their gossip, whiffs of scent, whispered secrets. It was their influence that made June want to write.

She started seriously after leaving teaching, and winning a national magazine competition for the first chapter of an historical novel.

A founder member of the indie publishing group, The New Romantics Press, she’s now published two novels – An Englishwoman’s Guide to the Cowboy and The 20’s Girl – and at the moment, in a warm corner next to the airing cupboard, she’s working on a third set in 1960s London and San Francisco.

June is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and lives in Leicestershire, in the middle of England.

You can follow June on Twitter @june_kearns, visit her blog and find her on Facebook.