<![CDATA[B A Morton - Writer - The Coffee House - Guest Blog]]>Sun, 03 Jan 2016 09:58:25 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Juliet B Madison - Book Buzz]]>Wed, 24 Sep 2014 18:13:22 GMThttp://bamorton.weebly.com/the-coffee-house---guest-blog/juliet-b-madison-book-buzzPicture
Today I'm pleased to welcome crime author Juliet B Madison to the Coffee House to tell us all about her new release Best Served Cold, the fifth book in the, not as successful as she might like, DI Frank Lyle Mystery Series.

Judging by the reaction to this latest release, I think Juliet might be surprised at just how popular this series is becoming!

See what you think...

Heres' the
blurb for Best Served Cold  - released 23rd September 2014


DI Lyle is about to get a glimpse into the murky world of political activism and hate crime; the murder of a prominent city councillor is just the tip of the iceberg.
The city of Ashbeck is on high alert when news breaks that convicted triple murderer and paedophile Bob Kenyon has escaped from custody.
Can DI Lyle and his team get to the bottom of this murky mess before another atrocity occurs?

Juliet  advises that readers should be aware this book deals with some fairly adult themes such as revenge, paedophilia and neo-fascist hate crime, as well as containing M/M sex scenes so is therefore unsuitable for persons below the age of 18.

Juliet, perhaps you'd like to tell us a little more about 'Best Served Cold'

"When I wrote Heir to Misfortune, the second book in the DI Lyle series, I knew that being sent to prison convicted of a triple murder and sexual offences against minors was not the end of the despicable Robert “Bob” Kenyon’s story.

This book is somewhat darker than the previous titles in the series because of the subject matter it deals with. I wanted to give DI Lyle a new challenge and his biggest challenge in this book is keeping things in perspective. DI Lyle has some insight into the sick way Bob Kenyon’s mind works, but is the devil you know really easier to deal with than the one you don’t?  This book gives DI Lyle and his team new issues to deal with. The book also deals with two important moral questions. The questions are, are criminals born inherently wicked or are they shaped through the circumstances of their lives and misfortunes? The second question is whether or not murder can ever be morally justified? Whatever your opinion on these issues, be prepared for them to be challenged through this story.
"

Best Served Cold is available to buy through this global redirect link

http://bookshow.me/B00MRIZQRU

You can catch up with Juliet B Madison

Blog:  http://julietmadisoncrimeauthor.wordpress.com/

Twitter   -   @JulietBMadison

Facebook  -  There are a number of DI Lyle related pages on Facebook but here are a small  selection.

https://www.facebook.com/servedcold/

https://www.facebook.com/Lylefanzunited/

https://www.facebook.com/JulietMadisonCrimeAuthor/

https://www.facebook.com/TheDIFrankLyleMysterySeries/



Please take the time to catch up with the DI Frank Lyle Series, and thank you to Juliet for dropping in.

                                                                                                    Babs x



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<![CDATA[The long and the short of it ...]]>Mon, 25 Aug 2014 19:36:02 GMThttp://bamorton.weebly.com/the-coffee-house---guest-blog/the-long-and-the-short-of-it
This week at The Coffee House I’m looking at Shorts. No, not the kind you wear when the weather is warm, (chance would be a fine thing) but the kind you read. Short stories – novellas - collections - anthologies. Basically anything that isn’t a novel length piece. And why am I concentrating my efforts in this area? I hear you ask, well, No1 – because I was always told – ‘there’s good stuff in little bundles’ and No2 - because I’m interested in why writers choose to write them, whether they’re successful from a sales point of view...and if I’m honest, because I’m tempted to try one myself and I like to do my research before taking the plunge. In the course of my investigations I’ve unearthed a treasure trove of goodies that you may not have come across before and I’ve invited a few folk along to talk about them. So welcome, in no particular order to: Paul Trembling, Jean Gill, Rod Glen, Karen Charlton, Claire Stibbe, Gerry McCullough, Jane Harlond and Bev Allan. I did attempt to order the following by genre or type, but what the heck- you’re getting it as it came to me. There’s an order of sorts... at least, it makes sense to me.

If you’d like to find out more about the authors just click on their name. If you want to discover more about their fabulous books for yourself, just click on the title. Please do! And if you have any questions or comments for the authors don’t be shy, leave your comments and we’ll get back to you.

First up - Collections by the same author. 

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Paul Trembling is a master in the field of collections. I’ve read most of them and they’re 5 star reads. I asked him to fill us in on his writing process and why he loves short -shorts...

 “As a writer, I've always liked short stories.  I fear that there may be an element of laziness involved.  (With me, there usually is an element of laziness).  For a writer, a short story is a quick fix.  Instead of labouring for months over tens of thousands of words to make a novel, a short story can go from conception to completion in a week or so, or even less.  For those of us addicted to unreal worlds, it's a quick fix.
Having said that, I would vigorously deny that the short story is somehow a weaker or lesser literary form than the novel.  Everything that a novel should have, should be in a short story.  Plot, background, character development, twists, depths, layers, resolutions, confusions, dilemmas … and so on.  It's all there, but shorter.  Which means that, paradoxically, the writer sometimes has to work harder.  One sentence must do the work of a whole paragraph, even a page.  Instead of describing a scene in detail (for example), you have to reduce it to the most basic elements that will show the reader what you want them to see.
Short story writing is a great way for writers to hone their skills, to learn to be succinct and precise without losing anything.  Plus which, you get the satisfaction of a completed story much quicker!
One problem you can get with short stories is trying to pull them together into a collection.  If they have a common theme or character, that's not a problem.  My crime scene short stories – 'A Pattern of Murder' – were all written around different aspects of crime scene examination, and so had a natural link.  Plus which most of them had the same main character, the rather obnoxious Ben Drummond.

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My 'Dragon Slayer' series of fantasy stories follow one character, Rimsey Stolworth, through her career, forming overall a novel-length narrative (now collected together in one book).

But how do you fit together a group of stories without a common theme, a common, character, or even in some cases, a common genre?

My solution was 'The Minutes of the Reality Escape Committee'  - an unusual title, and a bit of a mouthful, but it gave me an excuse to bring together some of the odds and ends of stories that I've written over the years and who's only connection was the author's desire to escape from reality.  As one reviewer (so far the only one) mentioned, it makes for an 'eclectic' collection. 

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And it offers room for expansion.  Volume One was fantasy and horror, but I'm already planning a Volume Two, which will be Science Fiction.  You can cover a lot of ground with short stories!”


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My next guest should be a dab hand at collections as in life she mixes writing with photography, dog training, translating and beekeeping...can’t get any more varied than that! But in fact Jean Gill has just published her first collection, a delightfully eclectic mix of poetry, prose and original artwork.

“Last time I dropped in for coffee I discovered my inner werewolf so forgive me if I sit facing the door, not the mirror. Strange things happen here! And in my new book too ... Like you, Babs, I write in a wide variety of genres and I hear all the advice that an author should keep to one genre, build a readership and so on. I also hear the advice that publishing a short story in between novels keeps your readers interested. I’ve broken rules all my life so what actually reached my imagination from all this advice was, ‘Why don’t you bring out a full book of short pieces in all your genres, illustrated by your own art work.’ I sounded out my critical friends, was given encouragement (always a mistake) and now ‘One Sixth of a Gill’ is available for pre-order. The funny thing is that everyone who’s read it is really excited by it and I’m a bit bemused by the fantastic responses I’ve had to my ‘in between novels’ book.

Some of the pieces have been published in journals and anthologies, some have even won prizes but I didn’t have enough in any one genre to publish a book of the ‘Stories of Love and Loss’ type, nor enough poems to make up my third poetry collection. Since e-books arrived, it has become even more difficult to find readers for poetry and yet everyone can recite a line of poetry that’s touched them, long after they’ve forgotten the stories they’ve read. Perhaps even more than previous books, this one is written from the heart in a way I didn’t expect. If you read it, I think you’ll know which parts I mean.” 


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Gerry McCullough is an old hand at short story writing, in fact, she cut her author teeth writing stories for Magazine’s. An accomplished Belfast writer and poet, Gerry is here today to talk about her lovable rogue, Old Seamus.

‘I love short stories. One of my favourite writers is Saki, whose short stories are the thing he’s known for, although he’s also written novels. And often the books I like best, by writers whom I love, are their short stories, like Agatha Christie’s The Mysterious Mr Quin. So it should come as no surprise that I’ve had nearly seventy short stories published by now. Over half of those are about the lovable old rogue from Donegal, Seamus O’Hare.
I wrote my first Old Seamus story, A Tale of a Teacup, years ago, and to my delight it was accepted and published by Ireland’s Own – and I was paid for it. At last I was a published writer! The For this reason if for no other I would have a soft spot for these stories. But quite apart from that, I enjoy writing them. Old Seamus is a poacher with a heart of gold who spends a lot of his time happily sorting out problems which crop up in the lives of his friends.

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Each story shows Seamus telling his friend Jamie another such anecdote. The stories are light hearted, often funny, sometimes romantic, and sometimes even a little bit sad – though always with a happy ending.

They are set in the fictional village of Ardnakil in Donegal, and usually happen at some time in Seamus’s past. I enjoy the beautiful setting and the nostalgia of looking back to a former age, but an age which I myself remember. (Unless it’s Seamus’s early childhood, and in that case, I’ve heard all about it from my parents!)

A year or so ago my publisher collected the first 12 of these stories and released them in eBook and paperback under the title The Seanachie: Tales of Old Seamus

(A Seanachie is simply the Irish for a traditional storyteller.)

Now it’s time for the second collection of twelve stories, The Seanachie 2: Norah on the Beach, and this will be out in September. In fact you can pre-order it right now. I hope people will enjoy it at least as much as the first book.

Moving on to single short stories/novellas



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My next guest Karen Charlton appears to be ticking all the boxes where readers are concerned with her regency detective duo, Lavender and Woods. Attention to historical accuracy, a knack for the vernacular and a razor sharp wit, have Karen’s readers clamouring for more, so how does she do it?

“I originally wrote my short story ‘The Mystery of the Skelton Diamonds’ as a promotional piece for my ex publisher. It features the two main characters in my historical mystery: ‘The Heiress of Linn Hagh.’ She did nothing with the story apart from using it as a freebie give-away on her website, which I always suspected was a waste of time.
I regained the publishing rights to all my books earlier this year and promptly self-published them.  Since April, my regency whodunnit, ‘Heiress’ has sold really well but all the positive reviews on Amazon said the same thing: the readers wanted more stories about Detective Stephen Lavender and his sidekick, Constable Ned Woods, ASAP. Knowing that the second novel in the series wasn’t coming out until Christmas, I took some time out from writing to organise a book cover and editing for ‘The Mystery of the Skelton Diamonds’ and published it as an eBook six weeks ago, priced at 99 cents. The first chapter of ‘Heiress’ is in the back.
I didn’t really expect to make any money from it at that price. It was published to keep my current readers happy and hopefully, to introduce more potential readers to my novel.  But 'The Mystery of the Skelton Diamonds' is now selling between 20-50 units a night and has earned me $500 since I published it. (Over 1050 copies sold.) Reviewers are starting to comment that they've read both the novel and the short story. I’m not sure which one they are reading first, but I suspect that ‘Skelton Diamonds’ is now working as a promotional piece and is introducing more and more people to my dynamic crime fighting duo.”


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So what about a stand-alone short story that’s unconnected to previous work? Jane Harlond has recently done just that with an uplifting tale of a boy and his magnificent horse, set during the Spanish revolution. Available in both English and Spanish, Jane is going the extra mile to ensure all her readership is catered for.

“Dark Night, Black Horse is a long short story based on a true story I was told by a friend who breeds Pura Raza Español horses in Coín in rural Andalucía, Spain. In the first year of the Spanish Civil War, Nationalist troops came to requisition his grandfather Diego’s favourite black stallion. Diego’s son, aged about eight at the time, then goes down to the town square where all the requisitioned horses, mules and donkeys have been gathered and ‘steals’ the horse back and hides it. There is more to the story than this but I can’t say more without giving the game away.

Diego Martín was a contrabandista: in those days, duty was paid on basic goods such as flour, oil and chickpeas when they were brought into a pueblo, but Diego had a way of circumventing these taxes. He also ran a side-line in American tobacco. His son (aged 8) was actually put in prison for selling it.

After piecing together the various elements of the black horse incident and Diego’s background, I created the story Dark Night, Black Horse. Anyone who knows anything about horses in Spain will understand the importance to the family of the horse, Lucero (bright star); black stallions are still ridden – shown off – in fiestas and romerias, when men of all ages put on their finery for one special day and parade around the streets of their town. Anyone who has ventured off the tourist trail into real Spain will perhaps understand the social background of the story. In the 1930s Andalucía was a backward-looking province reliant on agriculture and steeped in poverty. Getting by, for most families was a major challenge: the black stallion was Diego’s pride and joy, and only possible luxury.”

And what about anthologies, collections by numerous authors?

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Rod Glenn
is the man behind Wild Wolf Publishing, who specialize in dark fiction and horror. He’s here to tell us about an anthology put together by Wild Wolf authors.

‘Wild Wolf Publishing was set up to champion new and emerging writers of predominantly dark fiction as we felt that this was an area that was being neglected by the market. Wild Wolf's Twisted Tails was put together to showcase some of our authors in one volume. The idea was to give readers a 'taster' of each author so that it would wet their appetites to read more of their work.’


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My next guest, Claire Stibbe, is best known for her Historical fiction novels set in Egypt, but she’s turned a short crime story first published in the anthology Fusion into a full length novel to be published later this year. 

“I was invited to join a writing group about a year ago and they decided to compile an anthology. It was a no-brainer to want to be part of this chorus of voices, all sharing a glimpse of their favorite genres. Mine was short suspense story written specifically for this anthology, only I had no idea it would morph later into a full-length novel. I've certainly enjoyed the experience since Fusion was nominated for the 2014 eFestival of Words for Best of Independent Book Awards.       

Police interviews have always fascinated me. It's one of the most difficult jobs in the department. Watching detectives/sheriffs dissecting criminal activity through menacing interviews, inspired crucial events in my book. I enjoy being immersed in the study of people but most of all, the satisfaction of that 'gotcha' moment as the police unwind the clues one by one. With the release at the end of 2014 of the full version of this book titled The 9th Hour, here is a short description.”

“Until a man loses his daughter to a serial killer, until he loses his best friend, until he is down on his luck, Darryl Williams must put all thoughts of retaliation out of his mind.”


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My final guest is Bev Allen and I think she takes the prize today with her inclusion in a Dr Who anthology. Whether you’re a fan or not...wow!

‘I like writing flash fiction and short stories, I like the challenge of finding a beginning, a middle and an end within the confines of a tight word count. It’s fun.
I’ve written loads over the years and for a while I entered a lot of competitions without success, but in the end I got very disillusioned by the amount of money some of these were asking for entry and a bit suspicious about who won. One in particular seemed to favour a very small group of people who always won.
However, in 2007 I entered SFX Pulp Idol competition. It was free and Gollanz were judging it. I didn’t win, but I was one of the top ten authors chosen to have their full story published in an anthology given away with magazine.
You can read mine on my web site “Maud: A Garden Story
The real excitement came a month after when I was contracted by a publisher called Big Finish. They published Dr Who stories under license from the BBC. Would I like to pitch a story for one of their anthologies?   Hell YES!
It was hard work; there were rules about which Doctor you could use, on respecting the ethos of Dr Who and a very strict word count. It also had to be a Christmas story and, in my case, set in New Zealand. I’ve never been to New Zealand, but travel guides can be your best friend when you are lost.
After a few rewrites and some advice from the editor they commissioned me to write “Autaia Pipipi Pia”, which is Maori if you squint hard and have a big enough pinch of salt.
It was published in 2008 under the title Short Trips: Christmas Around the World”.
It is out of print now and a silly price on Amazon.

Since then I have gone on to write novels and am currently published by Thorstruck Press, but I still write shorties for my blog and you can read them on my web site.’
                                                                                            ................................

A big thank you to all my guests today ( I won’t mention that they’ve eaten me out of house and home) They’ve all been very generous with their time and I hope you’ve found today’s post as interesting as I have. As for me... well my early efforts at short story writing were successful in competitions but quickly morphed into full length novels. Bedlam and Twisted are to be published in 2015 by Caffeine Nights Publishing. You can sneak a peek at the opening chapters here on my website. In the meantime I’m determined to master the art of a short story - that stays a short story...watch this space!

                                                                                        Babs x

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<![CDATA[Karen Maitland - Book Buzz]]>Thu, 21 Aug 2014 19:37:50 GMThttp://bamorton.weebly.com/the-coffee-house---guest-blog/karen-maitland-book-buzzPicture
Thursday's Book Buzz @ The Coffee House is the fabulous new release by acclaimed Historical fiction writer Karen Maitland. Karen is the author of several historical novels including the best selling 'Company of Liars'
Anyone in the Lincoln (UK) area can catch up with Karen in person on Friday 23rd August 2014 when she'll be signing copies of 'The Vanishing Witch' in person at Waterstones.


Read the blurb below and check out The Vanishing Witch for yourself on:                         Amazon

The reign of Richard II is troubled, the poor are about to become poorer still and the landowners are lining their pockets. It’s a case of every man for himself, whatever his status of wealth. But in a world where nothing can be taken at face value, who can you trust? The dour wool merchant? His impulsive son? His stepdaughter with the bewitching eyes, or the raven-haired widow clutching her necklace of bloodstones?
When people start dying unnatural deaths and the peasants decide it’s time to fight back, it becomes only too easy to see witchcraft behind every murder.






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<![CDATA[Frances Kay]]>Wed, 20 Aug 2014 20:33:45 GMThttp://bamorton.weebly.com/the-coffee-house---guest-blog/frances-kayPicture
Today The Coffee House welcomes Frances Kay. Frances, (Fan as she’s known to her friends) is the author of the acclaimed book 'Micka', the recently published' Dollywagglers', and she’s also a children's playwright. She has roots in Ireland and England, and currently lives in Wales, and is a very busy lady so I’m especially pleased that she’s found the time to drop in for a chat. So, make yourself at home, Fan. Hang up your coat and kick off your shoes. Feel free to sprawl on the sofas or grab a chair by the stove.

1 - First things first. What are you having? Name your poison, Fan, or in this case the hot beverage of your choice. Are you a latte or a lemon tea?  A shortbread or a chocolate cake? Or perhaps you have some local delicacy in mind?

Well... lately I've been very influenced by a book called NOURISHING TRADITIONS by Sally Fallon, an American food scientist. Her book has given my ideas about healthy nutrition a good old shake-up. So today, I'll have a glass of kefir, made with milk. It's a bit like buttermilk, kind of sour and delicious. Oh, and it doesn't need hotting up! Alas, no cake for me - I don't do glucose.

2 – Let’s get to know a little bit more about how you ended up here on my sofa. A quick bio if you please m’dear.
I'm a new girl to the world of novels; I made my living as a children's playwright [and before that, a director and actor in theatre] for too many years to specify! Having been launched in 2010, I quickly discovered the joys of knowing and sharing information and tips with other writers, which is how I come to be on your sofa!


3 – How did you get into writing and which came first, the theatre or your novels?
I've always loved writing.  I learned to read at three and a half. Just looking at a shelf of books makes me feel happy.  Theatre has always been a passion too - both my parents, and grandparents on both sides, worked in theatre, either as performers or behind the scenes. What I really wanted to do when I left university was ACT, but so did thousands of other women. I discovered the only way to act, was to write and produce the plays myself, and luckily, the seventies in England were a great time for small scale theatre companies to flourish. 



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4 – What was the first thing you had published and how did you go about it?
Mm. Do you count a limerick I had read out on the radio when I was eleven? Or the short story in a young people's magazine called The Young Elizabethan? I was fourteen then, with dreams of being a child prodigy. I always had a novel on the go, from age twelve, but none of them ever got published. Which is just as well, as they weren't very good. 'Micka' was my first novel, published in 2010. I went in for a competition run by Cornerstones, a literary consultancy, and from that, I found an agent, Annette Green, who loved Micka, and found a publisher for me within weeks [we didn't even meet!].

5 – From your experience do you have any tips for those not yet published?
Yes - read a lot of good literature, old and new. And when you start writing, give yourself entirely to it, it's like a love affair, be as passionate as you can be, and never look back or forward. Be in the moment.

6 – I love to genre hop, how about you? Do you write in a specific genre? Which is your favourite and why? Is there a particular genre or type of scene that you would avoid and if so why?
I am a total chameleon. Writing plays gives you a chance to speak as a character, from Tom Crean to a cunning Fox. So I see novels as a chance to speak in a voice, and that voice sets the tone of the book. I don't have a favourite genre, though I'd like to become known [ah! wouldn't we all!] as a writer of literary fiction. I also write outrageous erotic romances, under the name of Pan Zador, and she is a very strong character who has to be kept firmly in check. Oh dear, I'm beginning to sound as if we're at a seance! Genres I would avoid - thrillers and crime novels, I don't have the kind of logical mind to construct those plots. And historical fiction, which I love reading, but could not write - too much detailed research for me.

7 – Promotion and marketing, most writers see this as a necessary evil. What do you do to make sure your work reaches your readers?
Not enough. I HATE selling myself. That's why I have not bitten the bullet and self-published. I have huge admiration for friends who do, including yourself.

8 – As a child which was your favourite book? Were you read to as a child and did that develop your love of books? Do you have a favourite book and author now? What are you reading now?
I didn't have a favourite. If I found an author I liked, I went to the library and steadily read my way through everything s/he had written. Enid Blyton, Louisa Alcott, Richmal Crompton, Anthony Buckeridge [The 'Jennings' series], Alexandre Dumas, P.G. Wodehouse - that takes me from age six up to eleven. Yes, I was read to by my mother, herself a gifted actress and maker of stories, who made the magic happen and gave me a hunger to read and write and make stories myself.

9 – Tell us a little about the books you currently have published.
I have four books currently seeking good homes. 'Micka' is about two ten year old boys who come from difficult homes and when they meet, they get themselves into serious trouble. I enjoyed the challenge of writing the entire book just in their voices - could I convincingly be those boys? It's a dark book, but authentic, based on my time in Newcastle and my work with travellers [gypsies] in Scotland. 'Dollywagglers' was published in April, and it's a dystopia. I've wanted to write my own take on the world after a major disaster ever since I read Orwell and Huxley as a teenager. Again, it's dark, but told by a character determined to find humour in any situation. Now Pan Zador is elbowing her way in and has just ordered a knickerbocker glory and a triple strength espresso while she waves copies of 'Act of Love' her theatre romance, and her own extremely rude version of 'Far From The Madding Crowd' - oh, and she's offering a ride in her Bugatti to anyone who can tell the difference between her additions and Thomas Hardy's original. 

10 – Can you give us a hint at what you have planned next?
I'm nearly at the end of my first draft of the sequel to 'Dollywagglers' - I realised there was a lot more story and I wanted the challenge of writing a dystopia, but with some utopian moments, as society sorts itself out into the power-hungry and the idealistic. I won’t tell you who wins, or if anyone wins.


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11 – And tell us even more about the one you’ve brought with you. I did explain about reading an excerpt later didn’t I? Oh good. Don’t think you get coffee and cake for nothing.

I first tried this out with potential readers - who are also writers - on the extremely helpful 'Authonomy' site run by Harper Collins. 'Dollywagglers' is not the kind of book HC would pick up, but I had over a hundred useful comments which helped me polish up the umpteenth draft and find a publisher, the dark fiction imprint Tenebris Books.

12 – Pick one of your characters and sell him/her to us in twenty words or less.
I told you, I am hopeless at selling!  But here goes: Tall, overweight, sings folk songs to keep up the morale, doesn't do crying, hopes everyone will think she's a man.

13 – While I top up your coffee would you like to read a short excerpt from your book?

                                                                                    ....................................................

Chestnut Avenue used to be near Tollington Park, according to my A-Z; a wide street now barely distinguishable, like the stain on the mattress, a tired overlay of rubble in order of meltdown with the ruin of the old railway bridge slashing blackly across it. Beyond, a pale sun-flecked landscape where a few middle-aged figures are moving to and fro with wheelbarrows, purposeful as dungbeetles, but not as lovable.

Number thirty-nine no longer exists, as such; just a plot and a mixed mound of interesting, though slimy, remnants. It’s been raining recently. Patiently I begin sifting, trawling through these dead strangers’ effects.

Looking up, I see three beings wheelbarrowing grimly towards me. They’ve probably got rights of piccage and pokage and rummage. One of them speaks:

‘Looking for something?’ His voice is civilised; not friendly, but civilised. Christ! He’s wearing a dog collar!

I adopt a harmless, sad, religious expression.

‘No. I’m only saying goodbye to a friend.’ My gaze travels over the three wheelbarrows with a nauseous suspicion that they are gathering bodies for Christian burial, but not so. They seem to be going big on blue. All kinds of blue objects are tumbled indiscriminately on the three wheelbarrows. The vicar’s wheelbarrow is the emptiest – maybe he’s got a bad back.

‘You’re not from round here, are you?’ says a beak-faced woman in a black hat who could have stepped from the vestry of a church – except that she’s wearing rigger boots, and they’re spattered with blood.

The vicar has a strange expression on his face... maybe the words of a funeral benediction are whirling inside his hairless pate.

‘So – how’s the Jesus business?’  He gives me a twisted, intelligent smile. I notice how thin his lips are, and how his hooded eyes take on a fleeting resemblance to a species of small raptor. Before he has time to answer, the third wheelbarrow, her generous jowls trembling with loyalty, cuts in.

‘Don’t waste your time talking to him, Vicar dear. He’s just a filthy ref. Needs a jolly good bath, if you ask me, his face is positively grey.’

I ignore her, and address the vicar again – I know it’s sexist, but it serves her right for assuming I’m a man.

 ‘So,  you’ve got the hot line to God. Explain this to me.’ I gesture at the general devastation. ‘Why? What did we do to get Him so upset? And who’s going to triumph in the end, good or evil?’

Jowls and Black Hat, alert for his response, stand respectfully silent by their wheelbarrows, twin pallbearers at the funeral of civilisation as we know it.

‘How the fuck should I know?’ says Vicar with simple dignity. ‘And if I knew, why the fuck should I tell you?’

He reaches into his pocket and stuffs a flyer into my hand.

‘TUESDAY JANUARY 28th. RAINBOW JUMBLE SALE,’ it reads. ‘IN AID OF CHURCH FUNDS.’ It is printed by hand in marker-pen rainbow colours; the spelling is faultless. Incredulously, I let it drop, and the Vicar suddenly whispers, urgent and serious and almost certainly insane:

‘Life goes on. You see?’

Jowls has had enough of this disrespect. Heftily engaging with her wheelbarrow, she gives a Valkyrie-type cry and directly targets my solar plexus. I hop comparatively nimbly behind the pile of rubble as she veers off to the left, steering hopelessly out of control, squawking like an enraged chicken, fetching up entangled with the old Habitat armchair. As she lies sprawled in the mud, I see with immense delight she is sporting old-fashioned pink interlock knickers.

Vicar, like many mad people, is right. Life goes on. I offer to help her up and she shakes me off, giving me the born-again evil eye. Black Hat dusts her down, uttering wren-like chirrups of consternation.

Ah, the bird life of London!

                                                                                    .................................................


Thanks to Fan for popping in and telling us about
her life and her books. If you'd like to check out Micka or Dollywagglers you can find them here:

                                                                                                                                                                    Babs x



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<![CDATA[John Holt - Book Buzz]]>Sun, 03 Aug 2014 10:14:57 GMThttp://bamorton.weebly.com/the-coffee-house---guest-blog/john-holt-book-buzzPicture
This week's Book Buzz guest is good friend and fellow author John Holt. John's no stranger to The Coffee House, but this time around he's here to talk about his latest book which takes us right back to the beginning for his popular detective, Kendall, and for those unfamiliar with John, we'll have a little background first. So ... take it away, John.

















How did you get into writing?

Don’t make the questions easy will you. Wow. I actually came into writing quite late in life. As a young teenager I had written a story about a small Australian town, and how it had developed. A hundred years in about ten hand written A4 sheets. It was not a best seller, and as far as I’m aware it still hasn’t been made into a movie. I suppose like many others I had always had a wish to write a novel, I just couldn’t think of anything to write about. Then in 2005 we went for a holiday in the Austrian Lake District. We stayed in a village called Grundlsee. A short distance away is Lake Toplitzsee, which had been used by the German Navy to test rockets during the second world war. It was this that finally gave me the makings of a plot. A year later my novel was finished.


What was the first thing you had published and how did you go about it?
My first novel was “The Kammersee Affair”, a story of the search for hidden Nazi gold. Once finished I imagined that it would be snapped up, and I would make a lot of money. I searched on-line for a publisher, but no one was accepting submissions, I was advised to seek an agent, but I could not find one who was looking for new clients. Then I found a company, Dorrance Publishing, in New York who was seeking submissions. They really liked the book and were very interested in publishing. All they wanted was a payment of $10000. That was my first introduction to the world of vanity publishing. Needless to say Dorrance never did publish my book. But I did find another publisher in New York, another vanity publisher, Raider Publishing International (sounds impressive doesn’t it). They only charged £400.

Best thing & worst thing about writing?
Creating something new, a new character and watch him/her develop; watch a story unfold, that hopefully will give enjoyment to someone. The worst thing for me is marketing. It is so time consuming, and, quite often, of little value.


Do you write in a specific genre? Which is your favourite and why?
I write crime novels, private detective stories. I have always loved the film noir with Bogart, Cagney, Edward G. Robinson. I had really wanted to write a novel in that style. I soon found out that it wasn’t that easy, but I did create my own characters and in my own style.

Is there a particular genre or type of scene that you would avoid and if so why?
I could never do romance, or erotica. Just doesn’t interest me. I’m not one for horror either. Zombies, and vampires I’m afraid leaves me cold.

As a child which was your favourite book? Do you have a favourite book and author now? What are you reading now?
I was reared on Enid Blyton books. Sadly not very fashionable these days. I loved the Famous Five stories, and the Secret Seven. As I grew older it was Alistair Maclean, and Hammond Innes, and, of course the Queen of Crime, Agatha Christie. As for an all time favourite book that would be The Tale of Two Cities. It has everything you could think off, and who could ever better the last two lines of the book - “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.” Currently I generally read works by other Indie authors. I am currently reading “Sir Laurence Dies” by Christopher D Abbott. It is very much on the lines of an Agatha Christie mystery.


Tell us a little about the books you currently have published?
Well I have seven books published, although it is self publishing now, under my own banner Phoenix. I gave up on the vanity publishers some years ago. I have five novels that feature my private detective, Tom Kendall, the most recent being published a few short weeks ago. I also have “The Kammersee Affair” as previously mentioned. The seventh novel, “The Thackery Journal”, was published in August 2013. It is a ‘what if’ novel set during, and just after, the American Civil War, and suggests that the assassination of President Lincoln was actually planned by his own generals.


Now tell us even more about the one you’ve brought with you.
I’ve brought my latest, which is simply called “Kendall”. Although it is the fifth novel to feature Tom Kendall, it is actually a prequel. It tells how he left the New York Police Department; how he became a private detective, and how he met up with Mollie, his long suffering business partner. Kendall is going to be the best there is, but is only prepared to take on the important case, the big money earners. But things have a habit of not going entirely the way you would like.

Can you give us a hint at what you have planned next?
I am currently working on a sixth Kendall story, set in Ireland. It is very much early days though. I have my villain well established, although I haven’t yet decided on the line of business. I have my crime committed. I have a number of lesser characters formed. All I need know is how to solve the crime. So don’t expect to be seeing this one for about 12 months. I have also made a tentative start on an adventure novel based upon a true story of a submarine that was due to go to the North Pole in 1931. It never got there but was later found scuttled in a Norwegian fjord. Again it is very early days. I have three reasonably good opening chapters, and an ending. It’s just that little bit in the middle that needs to be sorted out.


Book Blurb

Tom Kendall had been with the 32nd Precinct, New York Police Department for just under ten years. But now he wanted a change. Now he wanted to start his own Private Detective Agency. He had grand ideas. He wasn’t interested in just any old case. Oh no, he would handle only the big time cases, the expensive ones. He would be able to take his pick, the ones that he wanted, where the stakes were high and so were the rewards. He knew exactly the kind of case that he wanted. Anything else would not do, and it would just be turned down flat.



AMAZON .COM
AMAZON.CO.UK
Kendall is currently on offer for 99c/77p but not for long - my advice - grab it while you can and join the growing band of John Holt fans.


                                                                                                    Babs x
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<![CDATA[Jo Sexton - Book Buzz]]>Thu, 24 Jul 2014 09:55:07 GMThttp://bamorton.weebly.com/the-coffee-house---guest-blog/jo-sexton-book-buzzPhew.... Summer already. It's been a busy few months. Lots of changes and lots of exciting new books. So this time around I thought I'd focus on bringing new books to your attention. I hope you'll enjoy meeting the authors who've written them and maybe discover something you'd like to read.
First of my Book Buzz guests at The Coffee House is Jo Sexton who hails from Australia and has an enviable list of published works to her name.
Take it away Jo...

How did you get into writing?
 I have been an avid reader all my life and always wanted to write my own stories as I had a vivid imagination. When I went through a particularly hard time in my life, I decided I needed an escape so ‘Rich Girl’ came to be. I wrote the first draft in 2008.

What was the first thing you had published and how did you go about it?
‘Rich Girl’ which has been re-published by Thorstruck Press was originally ‘Spoilt’ and published by Taylor Street Books. When they were still Night Publishing I posted a chapter on their blog which was then chosen as the ‘First Chapter of the Month’ which was voted on. ‘Spoilt’ won the vote and was printed by Night Publishing. I and ‘Spoilt’ have had a name change and I’m thrilled to be with my new publisher Thorstruck Press. I had six books in total published by Taylor Street and currently have two published with Thorstruck Press with the rest in production.


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Chelsea Summerville has a stalker who is kidnapping and murdering women resembling her, just to carve them up with a message. Judged unfairly by the sociopath Chelsea fears for her life.
The murders sting Detective Lucas Hudson's raw nerves. In order to save Chelsea they become partners, intimate partners. Lucas recalls the past, determined to prevent the mayhem unfolding, and this time to stop a killer before he loses the woman he loves.
Chelsea is hunted, passion blurs lines, and drama ensues. Romantic suspense follows the knotted curve of love whilst she is pursued by madness. There's a fine line between love, obsession, and hate.






AMAZON
Are you a full time writer or do you have an additional occupation that drags you away from the keyboard?
 Unfortunately I’m not a full time writer. My ‘day’ job is my bookkeeping business. I have also recently become a qualified florist and hope to branch out into this soon.

Best thing & worst thing about writing?
Worst is finding the time and editing. The best part is thinking of a title and writing the first chapter. I also like when I get ‘in the zone’ and the words flow easily. Some days I astound myself with what I right during these times!

Do you write in a specific genre? Which is your favourite and why? 
I write romance with sub genres. Suspense, paranormal (fantasy), historical and girl/girl. I really enjoyed writing ‘An American Girl’ which is my recent girl/girl romance release. This is my favourite and I believe my best writing to date. J

Is there a particular genre or type of scene that you would avoid and if so why?
I’m not sure I could write children’s fiction so that would be one I would avoid. I think romance is far too predominate in my writing for children. I don’t have any type of scene I would avoid though.

As a child which was your favourite book? Do you have a favourite book and author now? What are you reading now?
As a child I loved Enid Blyton and Judy Blume. I went through a Sweet Valley High and Sweet Dreams phase when I was a teenager. I read a lot, still do and always have. My favourite author now is Paullina Simons but I will pretty much read anything. J

Tell us a little about the books you currently have published?
‘Rich Girl’ is a serial killer/crime suspense romance which is book 1 in the Saucy Girl series. An American Girl is my girl/girl romance as I mentioned before. A further 3 in the Saucy Girl series are due to come out soon along with my fantasy romance The Chosen One.

And tell us about the one you’ve brought with you.
An American Girl is also about music. A girl from Adelaide Australia meets a fellow musician online who lives in New York. This novel follows the journey of Justine when she goes to New York to be with Molly. There’s a few twists and a love triangle. I believe this is my most raw and emotional novel. This is me bleeding on paper.


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Rock chicks are more complicated than they look, especially when one is becoming her destiny, the other following a classical career, and the third wheel the steaming hot lead singer of the new big thing. Scarred hearts bleed pain when the pulse of love blurs to jealousy and rage. Between family, ex-lovers, and their own clashing issues, this complicated love triangle becomes a tangled mess, leaving the shy and the reckless reeling. The future is bleak, they're isolated and misunderstood, and pride ruins passion.
Drunken mistakes haunt Molly and Justine; their spiral into misery riveting. Strumming emotions more than guitar strings, the dynamic Justine, Tessa, and Molly, will keep you on tenterhooks of suspense in this lady on lady romance.


AMAZON


Can you give us a hint at what you have planned next?

The next book/s due to come out are ‘Fire Girl’ and ‘The Chosen One’. Fire Girl is the next is the Saucy Girl series and features a very hot fire fighter.

Catch up with Jo and keep upto date with all her publishing news via her publisher :

                                                                        Thorstruck Press


Thanks for dropping by, Jo
. Best of luck with all of your books!


                                                                              Babs x


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<![CDATA[Jacoba Dorothy]]>Sun, 23 Mar 2014 12:28:28 GMThttp://bamorton.weebly.com/the-coffee-house---guest-blog/jacoba-dorothyPicture
This weekend at The Coffee House I’m featuring the work of a very good friend Jacoba Dorothy. Jacoba and I met many moons ago on Authonomy and have remained friends ever since. She’s a great supporter of Indie writers, a genuine bookaholic, and I’ve lost count of the number of books she’s reviewed. She’s an honest and valued beta-reader and a cracking writer. Today I’ve invited Jacoba along to talk about her Heartbreaker books, a new series of romances that have just hit the Amazon shelves. I’m a self confessed Heartbreaker groupie, and coming from a diehard thriller writer that’s saying something, but I have to tell you, these books are just wonderful. Following the interwoven lives of a group of young friends from small town America, they are witty, funny, happy and sad, with characters that get in your head and heart to the point where you just can’t wait for the next episode, and above all they beautifully written for today’s market. But before I get totally carried away with Bailey, Jen and Bennett, let’s find out a little more about their creator Jacoba.

1. Mini bio time, Jacoba. Give us a quick 24hr insight into your life. How does a typical Monday pan out for you? And where does writing fit into it all?

JD - First, it’s lovely to be invited here today. I’ve been dying for some of Babs' coffee and cake.  (Glad John and Alfie left me some, cheers guys.) Though I’d much rather she visited Australia, so we could enjoy the real thing. Hint, hint!!!

Okay, so back to book business ...

I really hate Mondays, I'm so glad you picked that day!! Groan. That first moment of waking, when you know the working week lies ahead, and that the day doesn’t include a leisurely morning of tea, toast and writing, is a real- am I allowed to say: bummer- if not: a pain in the you know what. So after dragging my head from the covers at about six thirty, there’s kids to feed, dress, and after a quick check of my emails, it’s off to work I go, usually without the “hi ho”. Mondays are meeting days, just to add to the delight, so my day doesn’t finish till five, five thirty sometimes. I am, however, very fortunate to have a very lovely husband, who is home in the afternoon to  bath my little boy and get him ready for bed, and to get homework done with my thirteen year old, cheers and hurrah-because that is definitely not a delight, and if I’m honest I’m kind of grateful when meetings run late ( says in a hushed small voice, so hubby does not hear that). So it's usually only dinner and dishes I help with.  Then I usually zone out in front of the telly for a couple of hours, if I don’t doze off that is. I wouldn’t say I’m very productive with my writing on a Monday, unless I’m editing or get a buzz from an idea, that might have been swimming in my head all day that I have to get down.

(And if my boss ever reads this, I love my job, truly I do. And I really do love Mondays, hand on my heart.)



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2. Tell us a little about the first book, Heartbreaker.

Blurb:
I know I’m a heart breaker.  I broke Cam and me.
And I also broke myself somewhere along the way.
But I finally made it back.
It’s been two years.
Two years I wish I could erase,  and purge from my existence.
I wish I could kick myself back into the past, kick that stupid, idiotic girl,
and tell her to stop running away.
To live the life she wants, not the life her Mum wanted her to have.
You were such a coward Bailey Ryan.
Now the only thing I know for sure is, I’m home.
I’m never going away again.
                                                         And maybe Cam will forgive me.
                                                         And maybe I’ll exorcise my demons and forget.
                                                         Maybe … but I’m not really sure.
                                                         But now I’m here, I know one thing …
                                                         I’m sure as hell going to try.


                                                      Amazon .com                Amazon.co.uk

JD - Originally it was called, The Beating of my Heart, and was a short story that I put in Soooz’ Paragraphs of Power competition one month last year and won, must have been all the voting I did. Whoops!!! Shouldn't have said that. Ah well...

But it really did stick with me and I never felt it worked as a short story. Bailey, the MC had a lot more to tell, and I always wanted to go back to finishing her story. When I joined Wattpad in July last year, it gave me the opportunity I’d been waiting for, and after writing a chapter or two a week it soon became a 60,000 word book. So after lots of feedback and editing, I decided to publish it. I got quite a few reads on Wattpad,  over 10,000, and lots of positive feedback so I thought, why not. It was my first attempt at contemporary romance, a genre I love to read, so I took the plunge two weeks ago, and now it’s my first self published book.


                                                                                Jacoba on Wattpad

3. How did you first come up with the idea?

JD - Oh, gosh, I really don’t know the answer to this question. I suppose I love the unrequited love scenario, and I love a good romance with lots of angst. Quite frankly I didn’t want to write another graphic romance novel, there are a tonne of those around, and not sure I’m cut out for writing those scenes. Anyway, I wanted to go back to the basics of a good solid romance, where the to and fro, of the love interests are what keep you turning the page. I adore Jane Austen stories for that reason. I don’t think she ever put kissing or  … red rooms of pain (ha ha) in her stories, yet they are still adored and loved world wide.

4. Bailey is a wonderful character with a lot of complications in her life. Was it difficult to write her story?

JD - No, she kind of stuck in my head and the words flowed as though she was whispering in my ear, telling her story. A couple of her traumatic scenes were a bit tricky to write, and made me sad, but it all fit in with her decisions in the end, and why she decided to return to her hometown and try to win Cam back. I truly think our life experiences have a huge impact on the characters we become as we grow up, and I wanted to capture that with Bailey.

5. Personally I love the way Bailey’s story is revealed through her best friend ‘therapy sessions’ it’s a quirky way to bring in back story that works so well. Was that part of your overall plan, or did that evolve as you wrote?

JD - I love Bailey’s best friend, Gerry, and it was a good device to use to give back story, I wanted to drip feed that in, as the present day story progressed. I’m very fortunate to have some lovely friends and sisters in my life, who I engage in “therapy” with, now and then, and just telling another person is so therapeutic. I’d much rather that, than a person I don’t know. Though I understand sometimes people need to seek professional advice and expertise, depending on their problems. I think if Bailey hadn’t turned to Gerry she would have sought out professional therapy.  But by choosing her friend to confide in added a level of intimacy to the story, so I could reveal her background slowly and it also showed how caring and compassionate Gerry is. I’m hoping to have more of her character in another book in the series. I had a lot of people comment on Wattpad about how much they really liked her.

6. Can you give us a short excerpt? Something that will give us all a flavour of Heartbreaker. (About 300 words)

JD - Would love to, though it is always hard to choose. This extract is when Cam and Bailey meet up again, officially, after she returns home…

“Mom, you moved that damn table again,” Cam says, nudging through the door, hopping on one bare foot, the other being rubbed by his large beautiful hands. My eyes are trained on them for a moment, as I recall those very same hands touching me. Shit. I’m not supposed to be thinking about that. I’m here for other reasons. To move on. Then his gorgeous blue eyes land on me and I forget all that. All I see is him and me. Me and him. No past. No lost two years.

God I want him so bad right now.

“Bailey, what ... what ...” he splutters, placing both feet on the ground and stretching to his full six foot height.

I don’t know if I have a voice right now, but I need to say something. His mother is looking between us, like she’s waiting too.

I swallow down a lump. “Hi, Cam.”

He doesn’t say anything just continues to stare at me, then he blinks and looks at his mother who now has her eyes firmly set on him. There's worry there. Concern for him about seeing me, I guess.

Hello. Maybe I do matter.

That thought makes me a feel a little better, even though I know it shouldn’t. Even though I know I’m horrible and to blame and stupid and I hurt him. I still want to smile and latch on to that one thread of hope.

There’s an uncomfortable silence, with so many silent conversations going on right now.

Then I let my eyes trail over him. I swallow an even bigger lump. My brain registering, he doesn’t have a shirt on, his worn jeans hanging from his hips, his brown hair scruffy and messed. Bed hair. His arm pressed with red creases. Then I realize where those creases have come from. Jennifer Jaimeson's head has been lying there. Wrapped in his arms. The realization of knowing who he got that messy bed hair from, and who made those marks, crashes me back to earth and the bile rises in my throat. I swallow for the third time.

Hold it together, Bailey.

7. I know you’ve had a massive response to the books on Wattpad. Did that feedback help to identify your main readership and your decision to extend the series?

JD - Yes, if it had been a complete flop, and I got booed off stage, I would have dropped the idea of self publishing. But the response on there was pretty genuine. It’s not like some writing sites, with the ol', I’ll scratch your back, you scratch mine,  so you don't always know if the feedback is genuine. There are a lot of readers on that site, who do say what they think. And some comments led me to tweak things here and there, and hopefully made it a better story. In total I probably had about three to four hundred readers who read the whole book, so that boosted my confidence in choosing to release it. And readers asking me to write from other's POV made me consider writing a series of books.


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Sweet Cheeks
Blurb:

Jennifer Jaimeson's life isn't turning out exactly how she planned. 
But plans change, and she is nothing, if not adaptable.
Now after four years out of High School, things are looking up.  Well they were, until Bailey, the ex girlfriend of the guy she's been rooming with and lusting after, arrives back in town.
And once Cam and Bailey rekindle their romance, Jennifer is on the outer once more.
But Bailey has a secret. A bad secret. One that Cam knows nothing about.
Jennifer may have just discovered the opportunity she's been waiting for, and is set to put her new knowledge to good use,  when an old High School friend of Cam's, Tanning, comes to stay,
He's hot with a capital H, and nothing like the geek she remembers being mean to in High School.
Her explosive lustful feelings for Tanning are soon confused with her residual warm feelings toward Cam, and the life she planned to have with him.
And that's just the beginning.
When the father of her unborn baby, Travis, and her childhood crush and tormentor, Jason, come back into town, things are going to get a whole lot more complicated.
Jennifer's life is about to spin out of control, and no matter what she does, or how she tries to adapt, she will be completely powerless to fix her messed up life this time.


                                                            Amazon .com                      Amazon.co.uk

8. In the second book Sweet Cheeks, bad girl Jen takes centre stage. She’s a minx there’s no doubt about that, but I have to admit, she’s my favourite character...so far. I ranged from wanting to wring her neck, to wanting to give her a big hug. How did you come up with her character?

JD - Oh boy. This sounds weird, but I literally woke one morning, and had the idea of Jen’s checklist, which is now the start and end of the book. And that morning instead of dragging myself out of bed, I literally leapt, and started writing my ideas down, and Jen’s story grew from there. I knew a few popular girls in High School, who really got on my goat. We didn't have the clichéd cheerleader, prom queens, in Australia, but those girls could be mean if they wanted to … Goodness, I hope they don’t’ ever read this, I'm sure they're all lovely now … anyhow, I thought it might be cathartic to write from a mean girls point of view and redeem her somehow. I think sometimes those self absorbed characters are the most interesting. And it was so much fun to write from her head.

9. You touch on a number of issues that are relevant to young people today, bullying, drugs, lone parenting etc and your characters often have hard decisions to make. Did any of your life experiences help you to portray these scenes in such a realistic way?

JD - As I said, I’ve read a lot, and in my forty odd years, seen a lot, and yes, experienced some of the things I’ve written about. And I do touch on issues that unfortunately a lot of young people have to face, at an early age. To remain true to the current generation, you’d be almost ignorant as a writer to skip all that, and just focus on the romance, and make everything all happy families, because, well, life isn’t like that. You are constantly thrown curve balls at every turn, and you have to learn to dodge and weave your way through. I also think not enough kudos is given to young mothers who choose to go it alone, it's a hard decision and not an easy road for a lot of them. And I truly think they are unsung heroines. I know how hard having kids can be, and I honestly don’t know how I’d cope if I was a single parent.

10. Can you give us a little taster of teaser Jen? (about 300 words)

JD - There are so many 'Jen' moments, as I like to call them. But her first impressions when she meets up with Tanning again, after being mean to him in High School were really fun to write. So here’s one…

Ouch. Stupid spade. I have another go and this time I put all my muscle into it, which doesn’t seem to help. I’m about to pound the spade into the dirt again, when I hear a deep husky voice say, “You’re not doing that right.”

It's Tanning, and he’s close behind me. So close, I can feel the heat of him, and I shiver involuntarily. I grip the handle tighter and count to three, before I turn around with my best smile.

“Care to show me how it’s done then?”

“Not really. I only came back to grab a change of clothes. I’m going to play golf.”

“Oh.” I sound like I'm disappointed, and I want to kick myself.

I shrug instead and turn, looking at the crappy hard ground. Now I’m more determined than ever to plough through this stupid garden patch. I don’t need his help anyway.

Leaning on the spade I wait for him to leave. I don’t want him hanging around, laughing at me and being an ass.

He sighs long and hard, and I clench hold of the handle.

Why isn’t he leaving?

“Give it here,” he commands.

I narrow my eyes, I don’t want to give it to him, but if he wants to think I’m a helpless female, he can. It's a good image for me.

I stand with my fake smile pasted in place and pass him the spade. It actually hurts to have that stupid smile on my face. I’m usually so good at keeping up the act, but I’m struggling today. He’s making me struggle.

“Why thank you, kind sir,” I say all sweetness, wanting to puke at my own insincerity.

He grunts, and starts to shovel away the dirt and weeds in record time. My god, he is so powerful and strong, I think I could watch him work like that all day, every day. By the time he’s finished there isn’t a weed left standing and the ground is all dug up. The sweat is dripping off his forehead and his t-shirt is drenched. I’m finding it hard not to sweat along with him, just thinking about all that hotness, leading to a whole bunch of naughty thoughts.


11. Who’s next to take centre stage? What plans do you have for the next in the series and how long do we have to wait for it?

JD - Well funny you should mention that. I have started writing Bennett’s story, and also plan to write Travis’s story. I’d like to release them at the same time, the way I’ve released Bailey and Jen’s story at the same time. That probably won’t be till early next year, but if you want more details, I’ll add snippets to the Heartbreaker facebook page, so if any readers want to give me a like you can stay tuned that way.


     Facebook


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12. And finally, do you have any other projects up your sleeve that you think we should know about?

Blurb:
A dead princess.
A drunken prince.
A darker forest, further away...
Where you'll meet Savath.
A large hearted hero ...
Picking up the pieces in this dysfunctional fairy tale.
Happily Ever After-a distinct improbability!



JD - Good question. Yes I do. As you know, Babs, I have a funny little fellow called Savath, who is just bursting at the seams to get his name in neon lights. I am hoping his wee little tale, will be released next month. He’s been waiting a good while now. It’s called Cold Grey, and it’s a twisted take on the classic fairy tale, Snow White. I have the links to the facebook page listed below, where you can find out its release date.


                                    Facebook


JD - Thanks a billion for having me. It's been lovely to spend my morning chatting with you. Cheers, she says, and chinks her very nice bone china coffee cup.

 Jxx


The pleasure is all mine, Jacoba. It's been a delight having you visit and chat about your fabulous books. One day soon I hope to be popping in to your house to share a coffee with you for real!

                                                                                                                            Babs x



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<![CDATA[Glenn Muller]]>Wed, 19 Mar 2014 20:38:30 GMThttp://bamorton.weebly.com/the-coffee-house---guest-blog/glenn-mullerPicture
In case I haven’t mentioned it before, my little corner of Northumberland was recently voted one of the darkest skies in Europe. For the uninitiated amongst you, this means it’s a super place for stargazing, which is rather appropriate as this week’s guest at The Coffee House, Glenn Muller, is a keen astronomer. He’s also a cracking thriller writer, but hey, don’t take my word for it, just wait till you read the excerpt from Glenn’s thriller Torque. Slick writing, my kind of read, so much so, I’ve just downloaded it... review to follow.
I’m delighted to have you here today, Glenn, please make yourself and if the skies are clear tonight, who knows what you might glimpse.

1 – First up, Glenn, I like to make my guests welcome so what are you having? Name your poison. Are you an Earl Grey or a Latte man? Can I tempt you with a slice of chocolate cake or a helping of apple crumble?

GM - Well, since you're boiling water, Babs, I'll have some green tea and a bit of that lovely apple crumble.

2 –Mini bio time -Let’s get to know a little bit more about how you ended up here on my sofa, Glenn. Are you a full time writer or do you have an additional occupation or interesting hobby that drags you away from the keyboard. Let’s get an idea of what makes you tick.

GM - I guess you could call me a full-spare-time writer since I maintain a 9-5 gig as a bookkeeper to stay solvent. My interesting hobby would be astronomy. My wife and I have several telescopes and our own observatory in the backyard.

3 – How did you get into writing? What was the first thing you had published and how did you go about it?

GM - I got into writing the same way artists get into drawing and dancers find their way onto the stage. It's a creative need that has to be acknowledged and catered to. The first thing I had published that actually brought in money was a book review for an astronomy magazine. It was so nice to have my writing validated in that way that I almost framed the cheque instead of cashing it!

4 – Are you a planner, Glenn? Do you plot your novels out in advance or just go where the characters take you?

GM - I like to have a general idea of the main plot line before I start typing, and spend a long time just thinking of the possibilities. Once I have the framework in mind, I'm quite happy to let the characters take over and see where they lead me. That's one thing I enjoy about writing; even as the author I never quite know where the story might go.

5 – I love to genre hop, how about you? Do you write in a specific genre? Which is your favourite and why?

GM - The genre I'm most comfortable with is the thriller because you can really set the reader up for a surprise. Plus there is plenty of opportunity for action which keeps the story moving at an entertaining pace. I also like to mix in elements of crime with a law enforcement chaser just to keep everything accountable.

6 – Is there a particular genre or type of scene that you would avoid and if so why?

GM - From a writing standpoint, I'm not big on horror – too much gratuitous bloodshed. If a scene requires an animal to be the victim I find a way to gloss over it in a sentence or two, and I won't write anything that involves the abuse of children. My bad guys can be nasty without resorting to that sort of thing.

7 – As a child which was your favourite book? Were you read to as a child and did that develop your love of books? Do you have a favourite book and author now? What are you reading now?

GM - I started reading when I was four and, though I was read to, I often liked to do the reading. Since I spent my early years in England, the Biggles books were a favourite. In fact I still have them  in my bookcase alongside tales of Robin Hood, and King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.

8 – Promotion and marketing is the bane of most writers’ lives. How do you reach your readers and promote your work.

GM - I would like to say telepathically – that would certainly make things easier – but there really is no substitute for blog posts, maintaining a Facebook page, Twitter'ing, setting up book signings, and generally blowing your own horn. I'm still feeling my way around the whole marketing thing so any support from friends, peers, and readers is always appreciated.

9 – Tell us a little about the book you've brought with you?

GM - Torque is a thriller with an excellent set of characters. The protagonist, Chas Fenn, is an average guy who unwittingly gains possession of a street drug formula. The antagonist is a ruthless vixen, called Brittany Reis, who will stop at nothing to get it back. When writing Torque I put all the elements into it that I like to find in a book – action, suspense, mystery, police procedures, technical data, a bit of romance, and plenty of humour.

10 – How do you develop your characters? Pick your favourite and sell him/her to us in twenty words or less.

GM - Brittany Reis surprised me the most. Not bound by social morays or morals, one reader said that “Reis springs off the page at you!” and I would certainly agree.

11 – Can you give us a little hint at what you have planned next?

GM - I have a short story written that will be part of an anthology due out this Spring. I'm also working on the sequel to Torque.

12 – While I top up your tea would you like to read a short excerpt from your book?

GM -  I'd love to. To avoid spoilers, I'm going to give you the first part of Chapter 5 in which the main character here is an aging con man whom Reis wants to recruit to retrieve the formula.

Torque - Chapter 5

The Stockport Lounge was busier than normal for a Wednesday. Fall’s crisp calling card had arrived and the office crowd was feeling cozy. Located on the mezzanine of Hanlon Place, a hybrid of office tower and luxury hotel, the bar’s hospitality beckoned to those who disembarked soundless elevators opposite the rain-specked brass and glass street exit.

       Chatter ebbed and flowed around small round tables, cresting occasionally into laughter then receding to choppy conversation. Over bobbing heads, new arrivals caught the eye of the bartender. He nodded while slicing limes for the ever popular Mai Tai and Daiquiri. He couldn’t see the TV but listened, as he worked, to the news anchor’s summary.

        “The Bank of Canada is forecasting yet another rise in interest rates, and the body of a second youth has been discovered in Hamilton. More details in a moment.”

         The station switched to a commercial and the barman changed the channel. Stark reality was not good for the tip jar.

         “You don't mind?” he said, indicating the large screen to the only patron who might have an interest in it.

          The heavyset man on the barstool shook his head.

          The Stockport Lounge wasn't exactly Stanislaw Svoljsak’s kind of place. Next to a beer at home he preferred a street corner tavern where the drinks were cheap and the patrons talked about hockey or fight clubs. The two-for-one cocktail hour was okay, though. He raised his glass and drained the amber dregs of a double scotch.

           “Another one, sir?”

           Svoljsak assented, and armed with the plastic miniature spear he sat hunched over the drink like an Inuit at a seal hole. He reached into his jacket and pulled out a hundred-dollar bill. On the side with the goose, written in fine blue marker, was the name of the lounge and the date and time he was expected. It was a novel way to get his attention, though a mere C-note wouldn’t keep it for much longer. Now twenty minutes past the allotted time his patience was already evaporating with the alcohol.

            He took a sip and stole a glance at the segmented mirror behind the bar. The view was obscured by the bottles in front so he hitched around on his stool and casually panned the room. Most of the suits and skirts were there on his arrival. A mixed group in a large booth appeared to be fanning the flames of an office romance between two of their co-workers.

         His scan had nearly reached its unobtrusive limit when he caught the pale sheen of white flesh in silk stockings. He took a quick mental snapshot then turned back to the bar as if he hadn’t noticed.

         That woman hadn’t been sitting there when he'd arrived. Nor had she entered after he'd found a stool at the bar, he could see the doorway and wouldn’t have missed legs like that coming in. She must have followed him from the lobby. That could just be a matter of timing, but in Svoljsak's line of work timing was important.

          There was a motion beside him, a hint of perfume, then a flash of silk-clad thighs being crossed on the next stool over.

“Thank you for coming, Mr. Svoljsak. I'm sorry for the delay, but one can never be too careful.”




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Blurb:

After nine years on the road, Chas Fenn knows how to avoid accidental death - it's the intentional kind that gives him trouble.
The intentional kind is the seductive Brittany Reis, who plans to carve a niche in the street drug trade with a new hallucinogen. When her lab technician suddenly dies, Reis is forced to partner with an aging con man who sees the opportunity as a last chance for a big payoff.
There is dishonour among thieves, and the formula is misdirected to Fenn who's main ambitions are to win at darts, and get a raise. And maybe get laid. Now, with Reis and her thugs hot on his tail, Fenn’s life takes a dangerous detour where the normal rules no longer apply.
In the background, Detective Inspector Evan Lareault's case load of two homicides, a fatal overdose, and a fraudulent funeral home appears unrelated until Fenn discovers a family connection to the formula, and turns from hunted to hunter.
Torque is a high-action tale with powder-dry humour and a sexy villain you won't soon forget.


Torque is available to buy at:

Amazon .com


Amazon.co.uk

And all the usual e-book retailers, Kobo, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble .

13– And finally a little game that I hope all my guests will contribute to. Can you give me 100 words of your choosing to follow on from this? Your last line will be picked up by the next guest... and so on:

“The foul tasting water seeping into her lungs and she knew in this drowning moment that this was not a dream…this was real....Something was definitely wrong with the holo-deck. She'd dialed in #65 – mad scientists, werewolves, and freaks – and the danger level was only rated as 3. Drowning on the other hand was a 9 and she didn't have clearance for that. Why does it always malfunction on my shift, she thought, and hit the KILL switch on her ring. The shackle fell off, and the water stopped rising but instead of receding just sat there. The crap from the dungeon must have clogged the drain. With lungs ready to burst she dove down but what she found on the bottom was another nasty surprise.

Thanks so much for dropping by Glenn
. Love your addition to the story and I'm looking forward to reading Torque. Best of luck with the sequel.

                                                                                                                                                                            Babs x




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<![CDATA[Moonyeen Blakey]]>Sat, 15 Mar 2014 08:07:13 GMThttp://bamorton.weebly.com/the-coffee-house---guest-blog/moonyeen-blakeyPicture
Today at The Coffee House I’m featuring friend and fellow writer Moonyeen Blakey and her marvellous book The Assassin's Wife. Moon and I met ‘virtually’ some time ago via Authonomy and subsequently became members of a small historical fiction group affectionately known as The Hysterical Fictionaires, and yes, as a group we are often reduced to hysterics at our own antics, but we are also extremely supportive of each other and our individual endeavours. I was fortunate to meet Moon in the real world when we lunched together in the medieval heart of Lincoln. We proudly exchanged copies of our first novels, my ‘Mrs Jones’ for Moon’s ‘The Assassin's Wife’, a tale of historical intrigue, and chatted about books, writing and our future hopes. She’s a lovely lady, with a wicked sense of humour, a passion for history and a unique way of bringing it to life by weaving incredibly addictive tales. I’m privileged to have Moon here today to talk about the background to her book. It’s quite well timed as the debacle concerning the discovery of Richard lll’s remains is currently doing the rounds of UK courts.
Please take the time to discover the influence behind the book and then, if you wish, join us in our  ‘Hysterical Book-Blast’ today Saturday 15th by downloading your own copy of ‘The Assassins Wife’ and sharing this blog post.
So without further ado:



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Dirty, Devilish Deeds in the Tower

Last year's discovery of Richard III's bones under a carpark in Leicester, raised more than new interest in the history of this much maligned king. It stirred the spectres of two, lost, little, noble boys said to haunt the Garden Tower.

Who were these waifs in black velvet, doomed to cling hand-clasped and forlorn, confronting us perpetually with their abject misery?  Who could have abandoned them to such a fate?

Those primary school-children who studied history during the 1960s might have had some inkling. According to a 'potted' Children's History Book Series published by Unstead and used throughout schools for 7-11 years in England, these small boys belonged to the Royal House of York. They were in fact the sons of Edward IV, the dashing Yorkist king who took the crown from poor, mad Henry VI of the Royal House of Lancaster. Again, according to Unstead, whole swathes of history could be reduced to just a few relevant sentences summing up the entire later 15th century history of England to something like: 'The rival barons fought for the crown and the strongest set himself up as king.' (Sorry, girls, only manipulative, scheming princesses/noblewomen stood any chance of influencing the menfolk--and then probably by using the usual methods!)

It seemed the peasant population drifted along in some thick miasma of ignorance merely 'obeying orders' and benefiting nothing from the various changes on either side. Kings came and went, princesses were bought and sold, nobles swapped sides and embraced underhand deals, and Richard Neville, the wily Earl of Warwick, manoeuvred all the pieces, like a giant puppet-master, in this fascinating Game of Thrones.



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Richard III's bones provided historians with a wealth of exciting information. First he suffered from scoliosis--a painful disease of the spine. Here was meat and drink for all who'd believed the tales of the wicked, hunch-backed uncle who'd crept up the Tower steps to murder the innocent children in the dark! My not so scholarly school book displayed just this picture--the twisted monarch leering villainously as he trod his solitary way towards the slumbering lads to snuff out their lives!

Of course the Richard III Society, championed by the passionate Phillipa Langley, refused to accept Richard's infamy. Presenting the public with a charming, romantic reconstruction of the king's head, they quickly won huge support. I suspect many who saw the Unstead History Book refused to believe such a man could have smothered his nephews single-handed. Certainly I was never convinced.

But those two boys--Edward, Prince of Wales, eldest son to Edward IV, and young Richard, Duke of York, his brother, disappeared mysteriously in1486. So what became of them?

The struggle for power is never pretty. Whilst 15th Century England's noble cousins battled for the throne, desperate to provide the country with the strongest ruler, to maintain England's powerful position in Europe, and ensure the longevity of the ruling family, various wicked deeds were performed 'for the best'. Doubtless the princes' murder was such a one.

Henry VI's reign demonstrated the disaster of having a minor on the throne. No one wanted a similar situation. A united family created strength and security. Noble girls proved useful assets in cementing firm alliances. Eventually everyone might be expected to accept what seemed most expedient for such dangerous times. In this case, to exclude the young princes and plump for loyalty, strength and experience. The logical choice had to be Richard III.

Is it possible that people should desert the princes' cause so quickly? No doubt the commons recalled Edward IV --that handsome, courageous, warrior-king who'd sired` them, with admiration and nostalgia. But the people were sick and tired of war. His memory faded into a kind of Mills and Boon Romance--a gorgeous image which had been beautifully created and accentuated by the rumours of his secret marriages and dangerous liaisons. But who wanted to begin on another era of warfare and intrigue? Edward's wife, the fabled beauty Elizabeth Wydeville, was never popular. She had proved greedy and ambitious ,promoting her own family beyond the old nobility. People feared she would take the real power behind the throne once her son was crowned. Perhaps it was time to make some drastic changes?

People will see what they want to see. Avoiding close examination of the facts allows one to create a kind of vague, rosy glow over the past. Perhaps it was time to let the princes go...? Perhaps the trail of secrets concerning their disappearance should not be unravelled after all? 

Of course many people stood to profit by their removal. Historians argue still as to who might have plotted and schemed for their demise. The first name which springs to mind is probably Henry Tudor, product of Margaret Beaufort's cold, religious fanaticism, the boy on whom she lavished all her` attention, Determined he should be king, Margaret, clever as a snake, wound her coils about all those noble persons who might aid her to fulfill this ambition--an ambition she believed to be a part of his destiny.

And what about Harry Buckingham? Disgruntled member of the old nobility, forced into an arranged marriage with a dreaded Wydeville princess, old friend of Richard III, why did he suddenly turn rebel?

There are so many possibilities when it comes to choosing villains!

But perhaps it was just sheer exhaustion which made the people of England turn their backs on the princes? 

We all love a change. The new order beckoned. If only the country could forget about fighting and get back on its feet again... A change is as good as a rest?


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Sadly, for the boys in the Tower, they were soon forgotten---but not quite. Throughout the turbulent years that followed still people sought for answers. Finding bones under an old staircase sparked yet more curiosity... But DNA testing was still necessary to identify these bones.

Now, with all this knowledge at their fingertips, and the bones of King Richard III in their capable hands, all the scientists need is the Queen's permission to re-examine those mysterious finds.

Why then, is she so reluctant to allow this???!  



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The Assassin's Wife

Blurb:

Second Sight is dangerous…
Nan's visions of two noble boys imprisoned in a tower frighten her village priest. The penalty for witchcraft is death.
Despite his warnings, Nan’s determination to save these boys launches her on a nightmare journey. As fifteenth-century England teeters on the edge of civil war, her talent as a Seer draws powerful, ambitious people around her.

Not all of them are honourable.

Twists of fate bring her to a ghost-ridden house in Silver Street where she is entrusted with a secret which could destroy a dynasty.

Pursued by the unscrupulous Bishop Stillington, she finds refuge with a gypsy wise-woman, until a chance encounter takes her to Middleham Castle. Here she embarks on a passionate affair with Miles Forrest, the Duke of Gloucester’s trusted henchman. But is her lover all he seems?


"The author reveals through a vivid, gripping narrative the fear, violence and chaos of that time. Will the assassin's wife have the power to alter the course of history? Read this book and find out." - Paul Sutherland, Multi-Published Author and Editor

"…a vivid and visceral journey into the darkest hearts of men during the Wars of the Roses… An incredible, unforgettable story, surely made for the screen. Moonyeen Blakey is a major new talent to watch." - Sally Spedding, Award-Winning Mystery Author of Cold Remains


My five star review

“I love books of this period and was attracted to this one by the additional premise of a main character with the dangerous gift of "sight"
From the outset I was captivated by Nan and the way her character was carefully and believably, developed throughout this book. The prose was quite beautiful, and a joy to savour. The period detail and setting drew me in, in such a natural and effortless way, a compliment indeed to the author. Nan's visions served to rank up the suspense as they increased in number and intensity. The reaction of both Nan and those around her fully illustrating the fear and suspicion, abound in those times.
I thoroughly enjoyed this exciting and well researched tale. This is a must read for those who enjoy historical fiction.”


To grab your own copy here are the links:


Amazon .com

Amazon.co.uk


Happy Reading ...

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<![CDATA[Sue Yockney]]>Wed, 12 Mar 2014 19:37:46 GMThttp://bamorton.weebly.com/the-coffee-house---guest-blog/sue-yockneyPicture
This week I’m delighted to welcome a very special guest to The Coffee House. As a first round judge for  The Yeovil Literary Prize, Sue Yockney discovered my entry ‘Mrs Jones’ and championed it all the way to second place. That was back in 2011 but I didn’t actually get to meet Sue until much later at the Brympton Festival. Sue, and Liz Pike (Prize organiser) made a Northern lass so welcome down there in Somerset and were incredibly encouraging to me as a new writer.  This year’s Yeovil Literary Prize is open now for submissions and I’d recommend it to all.  Sue has just released her first two YA dystopian novels and I’m thrilled to finally have her here on the sofa to chat about books, writing and her work with the Yeovil Literary Prize. So, without further ado, hang up your coat, Sue, and make yourself at home.

1 – Finally I get to share some North East hospitality after being so well looked after by you and yours in Yeovil. What can I tempt you with, Sue?

SY - I’m delighted to be here at the Coffee House, Babs. Thank you so much for inviting me. I’d love a latte with a sprinkling of cinnamon on top and a warm almond croissant, please. Mmmm, nice!

2 – I’ve already touched upon your fantastic work for The Yeovil Literary Prize, but perhaps you’d like to tell us about your background and what you do when you’re not pounding away at a keyboard. Do you have an additional occupation or interesting hobby that you’d like to share with us?

 SY - I was born in London and describe myself as almost a Cockney, my birthplace being just out of earshot of the Bow Bells! After studying art at Central St Martins, I went on to qualify as a chartered librarian and eventually became a School Library Advisor. My writing career began when, as a member of an amateur dramatic group unable to find suitable material to perform, I decided to produce something myself and ended up writing and directing three murder mystery plays. After that, I concentrated on writing short stories for many years. In 2013, I published my debut novel Happy Deathday and its sequel Resurrection. When I’m not writing, I enjoy, reading, cinema and contemporary jazz. My husband and I love to travel and prefer ‘adventure’ over relaxation. We’ve been to Alaska twice, using the local ferries to travel the Alaskan Marine Highway and did a five week road trip of New Zealand. Our most exciting and challenging trip to date, was driving the Dempster Highway (the Ice Road Truckers road) up to and beyond the Arctic Circle - in the summer… doing it in the winter, would just be suicidal! Wow! Sue, I’m impressed by your travelling adventures, and to think I had trouble navigating the London Underground.

3 – How did you get involved with The Yeovil Literary Prize? What is your role within it and how much of your time is devoted to this each year?


SY - 2011 was my first year as one of the three novel short listing judges. I was asked if I would help out with the online novel submissions and I said I’d give it a go and have been doing it ever since! It is very time consuming process with each submission consisting of a synopsis and opening chapters (combined maximum 15,000 words). I usually start in March, when the competition has been open for a couple of months and go on until July. You can’t do too many in one sitting as it is pretty mind-boggling! When we’ve each got our shortlist we meet up and thrash out which ones will go to the designated novel judge for that year. The other two categories, Short Story and Poetry have their own shortlisting judges but follow a similar process.

4 – Do you get carried away with the latest project to the exclusion of everything else, or do you flit from one to the other as the mood takes you? Are you a planner, or happy to go where your characters take you?

SY - I’m a planner initially but do let the characters guide me at times. Often I’ll see or hear something during the course of writing and incorporate that into the story but I do tend to stick to my original outline. I can only work on one thing at a time!

5 – I love to genre hop, how about you? Do you write in a specific genre? Which is your favourite and why?

SY - I too, like to genre hop and have tackled pretty much everything in my short story writing, including horror, supernatural, crime, historical and humour. I do have a particular passion for Sci-fi, so I suppose that it was inevitable that my debut novel would be in that genre.

6 – Is there a particular genre or type of scene that you would avoid and if so why?

SY - I have a problem with the Fantasy genre. I don’t know what it is but I just can’t get a feel for it, although a lot of my stories do have a supernatural element.

7 – As a child which was your favourite book? Were you read to as a child and did that develop your love of books? Do you have a favourite book and author now? What are you reading now?

SY - I devoured Enid Blyton as a child but was always rather disappointed that my family holidays did not involve dastardly criminals, giving me no opportunity to thwart their plans with my cunning detective skills! I remember being read stories at primary school, in particular, The Water Babies. It upset me so much, I was haunted by it for years! Fortunately, it didn’t stop me developing a love of books and reading but does show that you need to be careful to read the right book at the right time, to a child. Having said above that I do not like Fantasy, I have to say that, one book that I’ve recently read, has gone a long way in changing my mind and that is Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway. What a fabulous read! I’m currently reading Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier.

8 – Promotion and marketing is the bane of most writers’ lives. As a newly published writer how are you reaching your readers and promoting your work? Have you had any particular marketing successes?

SY - P & M is my nemesis and takes up so much time! But there’s no getting away from it, you have to get out there and do it. I’ve been helped a lot by friends and fellow authors but it doesn’t come naturally to me. I suppose the thing I am most proud of, as a self-published author, is getting my books in stock at my local branch of Waterstones.

9 – Tell us a little about the books you currently have published.



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SY - Happy Deathday is set in an underground breeding colony constructed to save the Human Race from extinction, by a gamma ray explosion that destroys the Earth’s ozone layer. The story is told by the two main protagonists, Jonathan and Sarah in a dual narrative. Both of them have had their eighteen years in the Colony and their Deathdays are fast approaching. One is born every day; one dies every day. That is the way of the Colony. Like Jonathan, Sarah has successfully completed her breeding programme, a soulless clinical procedure and is ready to re-join the Colony and prepare for her Deathday - a time of celebration when, the contribution each colonist has made to its mission, is fulfilled. It’s all they have. This is your destiny. That’s what they’ve always been told…

10 – Can you give us a little hint at what you have planned next?

SY - It’s in the very early stages but my next novel will be a satire set in the not too distant future and will involve a very creative solution to a problem threatening national stability!

11 – And tell us even more about the one you’ve brought with you.

SY - The novel starts with a seemingly innocuous accident, where Jonathan loses a week’s supply of the Supplement, he’s been required to take since he was nine years old and that he believes contains only vitamins and minerals. Without its influence, he begins to experience all the signs of puberty. He starts noticing things that he’s never noticed before, in particular Sarah. With his body no longer under his control, Jonathan struggles with his attraction to her and his growing sexual awareness. He also notices Zack, a Security Response Unit officer and two things become apparent. One that Zack is becoming an increasing threat to the Colony. And two, Zack has designs on Sarah. Fuelled by love, jealousy and the hormones his body’s been denied for years, Jonathan takes him on. The third main, ever present, character in the novels, is Time itself.  It’s there at the beginning of each chapter, reminding us of how little of it, Jonathan and Sarah, have left. The Happy Deathday duology is a crossover novel targeted at the 14+/Adult age range.

12 – Pick one of your characters and sell him/her to us in twenty words or less.

SY - Jonathan, like Sarah, displays great bravery as he battles against, not only a de-humanising environment but also, his own body.

13 – While I top up your coffee would you like to read a short excerpt from your book?

Putting my used tunic in the recycling chute, I press the dispenser button for a clean one. I have already checked my shoes and they will be fine for another few days before, they too, will be recycled.

I exit my hygiene cubicle, cross to the food dispenser and press the button. A packet drops down onto the metal counter. Straight away, I see that it is smaller than yesterday. Opening it, I stare at the contents - two rice balls and a small pile of bean shoots. Raising the packet to chin level, I pick up one of the rice balls between my thumb and forefinger, put it whole into my mouth and swallow. I feel every centimetre of its journey, as it is pushed down into my growling stomach. A spasm of pain grips me under the ribs, as my gut muscles clench hold of it. I wipe away a trickle of saliva that creeps from the side of my mouth, with the sleeve of my tunic top then gobble down the rest of the contents. Spotting a grain of rice caught in the fold of the carton, I hook it out with my fingernail. Then, placing it on my tongue, I work it to the back of my throat and gulp it down.

I glance up at the time display on the COMSET and see that I must leave at once. I have lost track of time and hurry towards the door.

‘Remember Jonathan that your Pre-mortal course is scheduled for tomorrow at 14.00 hours. It is essential that you are carefully prepared for your Deathday ceremony.’

Perhaps it is the lack of food, but I have forgotten all about my Pre-mortal course and this troubles me a great deal. Ashamed at my oversight, I reach the door deep in thought and wave my hand over the console. But it remains closed. I freeze for a moment, unsure of what to do then hear a click behind me.

‘Jonathan, you have not taken your Supplement.’

Shocked at another mistake in my morning routine, I rush over to the dispenser and push the button. Nothing happens. In my haste, I have not applied enough pressure. I push it again, hard and for several seconds this time. But instead of one tablet, seven shoot out of the nozzle and bounce, one after another, off the metal shelf. I try and catch them with my knees but they fall onto the floor and I watch, in horror, as they clatter down the air vent in the floor by the wall. Standing quite still, I wait for the COMSET to respond. Nothing. I pour a little water into a plastic cup and pretend to take a tablet. I dare not look at the Eye behind me. After a few seconds, I walk over to the door again and wave my hand over the console. It glides open and I step out into the corridor.

I have lost a week’s supply of Supplement. The Supplement, I have taken every day of my life since my 10th Deathday.


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Happy Deathday and its sequel, Resurrection, are available in Kindle and paperback formats from:

Happy Deathday

Amazon .com

Amazon co.uk



Resurrection

Amazon .com

Amazon co.uk




You can catch up with Sue at:

Twitter @SueYockney;

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Goodreads.



14– And finally a little game that I hope all my guests will contribute to. Sue, can you give me 100 words of your choosing to follow on from this? your last line will be picked up by the next guest... and so on:

She was chained up in the castle basement as the flood waters began to rise... The dark, encroaching liquid crept up her naked body, shocking her with its chill. She expelled a terrified scream from the back of her throat, the sound ricocheting around the slick stone walls of the basement. No-one would hear her cries. She was quite alone. As the water reached her neck then her chin, she struggled to free her chained leg but it was held fast to the floor. Then her nose slipped under the surface, the foul tasting water seeping into her lungs and she knew in this drowning moment that this was not a dream…this was real.


Thanks so much for coming, Sue. I wish you much success in all you do and hope all your plans come to fruition. Do pop back and let us know how you get on with your next travelling adventure.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Babs x




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