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Sunday, 28 October 2018

If you enjoy psychological thrillers, this dark comedy romance could be the one for you! #psychological #thriller #dark #humour #depression #blackdog

 Oh No, I've Fallen in Love!

Valerie Anthrope is neurotic and a regimented loner whose life unfolds after a ‘chance’ encounter with a stranger who brings colour into Valerie’s otherwise grey world.

Valerie Anthrope, nicknamed Misanthrope, struggles with human connection. She struggles with social skills and tends to keep her emotions behind her tight control. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions. She’s a workaholic through choice—it stops the loneliness from eating her from the inside.

But everything changes when Valerie meets Ellen, her self-acclaimed fairy godmother. And it is Ellen who, by wanting to help Valerie, introduces her to her playboy nephew, Lex.

Smooth-talking, sexy as sin, egotistical know-it-all, Lex Kendal thinks he’s God’s gift to women—until Valerie knocks him back. His interest is immediately piqued but Ellen warns him off, telling him that Valerie isn’t the kind of woman to cope with his ‘bed ‘em and dump ‘em’ mantra.

Can opposites attract?

And if they do, should they?

Oh no, I’ve Fallen in Love! explores the whole range of human emotion through the intimate dramas of people struggling to understand themselves and others, and the only way to survive is to open your heart.

Updated for 2019 and available from most online bookstores:

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

For fans of heavy metal, crime and murder mystery fiction. This is a must read! #giveaway @metalmamawrites @rararesources #heavymetal #liverpool #fiction #hardrock #heavymetal

Catherine Fearns

Are you one of the elect?

Dr Helen Hope is a lecturer in eschatology – the study of death, judgement, and the destiny of humankind. She is also a Calvinist nun, her life devoted to atoning for a secret crime.

When a body is found crucified on a Liverpool beach, she forms an unlikely alliance with suspect Mikko Kristensen, lead guitarist in death metal band Total Depravity. Together, they go on the trail of a rogue geneticist who they believe holds the key – not just to the murder, but to something much darker.

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  Also on the trail is cynical Scouse detective Darren Swift. In his first murder case, he must confront his own lack of faith as a series of horrific crimes drag the city of two cathedrals to the gates of hell.

Science meets religious belief in this gripping murder mystery.

 Win the book plus MORE! (scroll down for details)
Giveaway to win a gift pack which would include a signed book, tote bag, t-shirt, magnet, guitar picks, temporary tattoos and postcards (Open Internationally)

The theme on WWBB is all devoted to the character, and today Catherine Fearns discusses her character Mikko Kristensen

The character of Mikko Kristensen, Reprobation

Mikko Kristensen is the frontman of Norwegian death metal band Total Depravity, who has just begun a UK tour when Reprobation begins. Mikko is the vocalist, lead guitarist and composer, and in contrast to his hulking, Viking-like bandmates, he is small and somewhat fragile, with long blond hair and a straggling beard and moustache. He is covered in tattoos and wears heavy black eye make-up; all of this combined gave him the appearance of a demonic Jesus.

He is a character of fascinating contradictions; hero-worshipped within the world of heavy metal, but unknown outside of it and struggling financially. His band courts controversy for their Satanic lyrics and offensive anti-religious imagery, yet he is kind and gentle off-stage. His speech is inane and littered with swearing, yet his music is beautiful and eloquent.

Mikko becomes embroiled in a murder case when a body is found crucified on a Liverpool beach two nights after Total Depravity played a concert in the city. Carved into the victim’s forehead is a biblical quotation plus the band’s logo: an inverted double-headed axe, or labrys.

So it doesn’t help Mikko’s case that his band has been frequently accused of Satanism and is known for their obsessive hatred of religion. To clear his name, he teams up with a far less likely suspect, Calvinist nun Sister Helen Hope, and in their race against the police and the murderer, they go on a terrifying spiritual journey.

Mikko and Helen are drawn together by tragic secrets from their past, and when Mikko tells Helen about a dream that has haunted him since he was a child, it sets in motion a series of events that will change their lives forever.

Mikko is not the main character in Reprobation, but he is my favourite, and most of my beta readers seemed to agree. I’m a metal journalist and a metal fan. I have an encyclopaedic knowledge of heavy metal, I’ve met a lot of bands, been to a lot of concerts, and generally love writing about music. So it was perhaps inevitable that I would create a character who inhabits this world that I know so well. The musical scenes in the book were both the easiest and the most enjoyable for me to write.

And Mikko is definitely inspired by real-life heavy metal characters. He is probably an amalgam of Randy Rhoads and Alexi Laiho, with a bit of Norwegian black metal mystery thrown in. Randy Rhoads was an American guitarist best known for playing with Ozzy Osbourne, and he tragically died in a plane crash in 1982, aged just twenty-five. His neoclassical technique revolutionised electric guitar playing, raising the standards forever. I have watched Youtube videos of this diminutive blond genius countless times, and the thought of what he could have achieved had he lived still moves me to tears. What came across most from his performances and interviews were joy, innocence and kindness, despite Rhoads inhabiting this seemingly-aggressive world surrounded by drugs and alcohol, and despite him composing music about the devil and demons.

Alexi Laiho is the frontman of Finnish melodic death metal band Children of Bodom, one of my favourite bands. They are named after a gruesome 1960 multiple murder at Lake Bodom in Finland, in which the sole survivor claimed that the murderer was the Grim Reaper. Consequently, all Children of Bodom’s album covers feature a hooded Reaper figure, and this artwork was my initial attraction to the band because when I was a child, I was haunted by dreams of the Grim Reaper, like the character Mikko.

As with Mikko and Rhoads, Alexi Laiho is diminutive, blond, tattooed and somewhat fragile-looking, and he frequently wears black eye make-up. But it is mainly his voice that inspired me. He speaks perfect English, with an Americanised drawl, but his language is so full of swearing as to be almost an affectation. This studied ineloquence belies a musical intelligence that is undeniable; his compositions are beautiful. As if he is embarrassed by what he has created and unconsciously wishes to subvert it. And I find that contradiction so endearing that I couldn’t resist imitating it. I hope if he ever found out he would not be offended, because he is one of my heroes, and imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!

I made Mikko Norwegian bring in some Norwegian mythology; both from metal and from old Norse. Like Helen, he is drawn to coastlines, liminal places. His Norwegian background also brings suspicion; Norway is the ‘spiritual’ home of satanic metal and suffered a spate of church burnings by black metal fans in the 1990s. Is Mikko really a Satanist or is it just a gimmick? His name is more Finnish and Danish than Norwegian, but I just like the name Mikko, and the surname Kristensen has the obvious Christ-like connotations.

Most of the characters in Reprobation go on a spiritual journey, but Mikko’s journey is that he falls in love. He begins to discover, through Helen, the sort of person that he truly is, behind the mask of a nihilistic, drug-addicted guitarist. He is brave, funny, principled and kind. Readers might suspect him, or they might love him; what I can promise is that his story will not end with Reprobation.

You can read an interview with Mikko here:

Catherine Fearns is a writer from Liverpool, UK. Her first novel, a crime thriller called ‘Reprobation’, will be published by Crooked Cat Books in October 2018.

As a music journalist, Catherine is a regular contributor to Pure Grain Audio, and she has also published numerous pieces of short fiction and non-fiction. Catherine has a degree from Oxford University and a Masters from the London School of Economics. She began her career as a financial analyst, but after having four children, she retrained as a breastfeeding counsellor.

Having lived in several countries, she recently moved to Switzerland, where she discovered her love of writing and is a member of the Geneva Writers’ Group. She plays the piano very well but prefers to play the guitar very badly.

Oh, and she likes metal music. A lot. 

Giveaway to win a gift pack which would include a signed book, tote bag, t-shirt, magnet, guitar picks, temporary tattoos and postcards (Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days, then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, except the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for the fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
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Friday, 12 October 2018

Check out this AWESOME new book from Susan Roebuck! It has #romance and #crime and the author is offering a #giveaway! @sueroebuck @rararesources

Stand by your beliefs – even if it means going to the end of the Earth

By standing up for his principles to save the life of a prize racehorse, farrier Joseph Barnaby loses everything.
Amazon UK | Amazon.com
Now, a personal vendetta has become too deep to fight and he escapes to the island of Madeira where he finds work on a small farm at the foot of a cliff, only accessible by boat.

The balmy climate and never-ending supply of exotic fruit, vegetables and honey make it sound like paradise but, for Joseph, it’s the ideal place to hide from the world.

Can the inhabitants of Quinta da Esperança, who have more grit in them than the pebbled beach that fronts the property, help Joseph find his self-worth again? And can he escape the danger that draws ever nearer?

 The theme on WWBB is all about the character from an author's book, and today Susan Roebuck discusses her character Joseph Barnaby, and why she made him. 

Character Traits – Joseph Barnaby

The Protagonist of my new novel, “Joseph Barnaby” is – no prizes for guessing – Joseph Barnaby.

Who is he? He grew up in the horse-racing community in the east of England and his father was a well-known horse-trainer. His love of horses led him to train as a farrier which, nowadays, is different to a blacksmith. Blacksmiths tend to make anything in iron, like gates and tools. A farrier, nowadays, should be properly trained and tends to work only with animals. They not only shoe horses but also work alongside vets in equine care.

Joseph had to go through several courses to become registered and a member of the Worshipful Company of Farriers. He was great at his job and very popular. Here’s a short extract to show how well-known he was becoming before disaster struck:

The noise level in The Rose and Crown pub grew in proportion to the amount the clientele drank, but Joe Barnaby’s father managed to make himself heard as he shouted, “My son is the best farrier in the business.”
Joseph Barnaby laughed and raised his glass. “And what my dad doesn’t know about horse farming isn’t worth knowing.”
There was a cheer, then a brief lull as glasses chinked and someone threw a bag of nacho chips in the air, which was a signal for the noise to start up again.
“He sure is,” one of the farmers cried, joining Joe and his father at their table. “And make sure you’re at my stables tomorrow at nine, young Joe! You need to renew the hoof dressings you put on the bay the other day.”
“It’s in my diary,” Joe confirmed. “And the chestnut’s hooves are due for trimming too.” He picked up his pint of beer and downed it. He had the best job in the world, he decided: great friends and clients, and the opportunity to work all day in the beautiful countryside with his favourite animal.”

Yes, disaster strikes when he risks his life and his career by standing up for his principles: against all expert advice he believes that a horse – the favourite - is not fit to run in a major race. He manages to prevent the horse from competing. No-one believes him and he’s shunned, spat at (by punters who lost their bets), hounded, beaten up until he can no longer stand the revenge attacks. Joseph Barnaby is a broken man. When he’s banned from working as a farrier it’s the last straw. Unable to face society, and fearing for his father’s life if he stays in the UK, he sticks a pin in a map and finds Madeira Island. There he becomes a farm-hand on a small farm at the bottom of an escarpment, miles from anywhere and only accessible by boat. The end of the world.
Yet, his good nature seems to shine through wherever he is and under any circumstance. The population of the nearest village takes to Joe and defends him when danger looms.
His kindness extends to animals – even if they are not horses. Look at this extract when two fishermen come to help him on the farm:

“Why do that donkey and all those goats follow you about?” Carlos asked, eyeing Ed (the donkey). “Everywhere you go, there they are.”
“True enough,” Joe agreed. “They’re my entourage. The chickens join them sometimes.”
         That set them laughing, and Joe, for the first time in over a year, felt the ease and enjoyment of being with his fellow-men.”

Love is not far away for Joe. He falls for Sofia, the farmer’s niece who is deaf. Most people don’t know how to communicate with deaf people, but Joe soon understands how to face her when talking and let her read his lips. He even learns sign language:

“When Sofia returned, several of the children ran to her and pulled on her hands.
Laughing, she signed at them and pointed to Joe. She signed. “I told them you are J.O.E.,” she said to him, showing him how to spell his name in sign language. “This is hello,” She waved.
He waved at the students who responded Hello, J.O.E.
One of the younger ladies signed at him and he looked in question at Sofia.
“She’s asking how are you? Actually I think she’s flirting, but still…”

Joe’s nature doesn’t let him give up on himself for long, but you’ll have to read “Joseph Barnaby” to see if he has the strength to recover and regain his reputation and the life he yearns for.

Thank you for hosting me today – I hope you enjoy “Joseph Barnaby”

Author Bio in Susan Roebuck's own words:
I was born and educated in the UK (I am British!) but now live in Portugal. I've been an English teacher for many years with the British Council and also the Portuguese civil service where I developed e-learning courses.

My debut novel, "Perfect Score" was published by Mundania Press on Sept 21, 2010 and the paperback launched on May 11 2011. It was a finalist in the 2012 EPIC e-book Awards in the Mainstream Category.

My second novel is a dark thriller/fantasy called "Hewhay Hall". It won an EPPIE award in the 2013 EPIC (Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition) e-Book Awards in the Horror Category.

Next comes "Rising Tide", published in 2015. Set in Portugal, published by Mundania Press. It is set in a tiny fishing village that the world, and most of Portugal, has forgotten. Read about the wonders of the ocean and see if Piper from Norfolk UK and Leo from Alaska, USA, can find what they're searching for in the little village of Luminosa.

"Forest Dancer" was published on 20th February 2018 by CrookedCat Books. This is novel number 2 set in Portugal but this time in the forests outside Lisbon, Portugal. Instead of the sea (as in Rising Tide), now find out about the wonders of the forest and whether classical ballerina, Flora, can find what she's searching for in the small village of Aurora.

On 5th October 2018 CrookedCat Books published my newest novel, "Joseph Barnaby", another romance/suspense which is set on the island of Madeira.

And now for the GIVEAWAY!!

1st prize an Amazon book token (£10)
2nd prize - 2 x signed paperbacks of Joseph Barnaby
3rd prize - 2 x ebooks of Joseph Barnaby
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
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Monday, 8 October 2018

Book Bloggers - yay or nah?

Never before have I been so infuriated by a throwaway comment as I have when it came to my attention last night.  

@caffeinenights on Twitter believes book bloggers are a waste of time and have massive egos. 

Now, he's furiously pedalling backwards by saying it's only the tour operators that are rubbish. Ah, well, at least it has his little company within sights of the blogging community, and now we know whose authors to avoid!

Monday, 1 October 2018

If you enjoyed BBC's Bodyguard, you'll LOVE House Divided by .@rachelmcwrites #political #books #fiction #thriller .@rararesources

A House Divided
Rachel McLean

Jennifer Sinclair is many things: loyal government minister, loving wife and devoted mother.
But when a terror attack threatens her family, her world is turned upside down. When the government she has served targets her Muslim husband and sons, her loyalties are tested. And when her family is about to be torn apart, she must take drastic action to protect them.

Amazon.com | Amazon UK
A House Divided is a tense and timely thriller about political extremism and divided loyalties, and their impact on one woman.

 The theme on WWBB is all about the character from an author's book, and today Rachel McLean discusses her character Yusuf Hussain, and why she made him. 
Over to Rachel...

Yusuf Hussain - why is he the way he is? 
Rachel McLean

 In A House Divided, Yusuf Hussain is the husband of the protagonist, the politician Jennifer Sinclair, and father to their two sons, Samir and Hassan.

Yusuf first landed on the page fifteen years ago in the first draft of the book and to be honest, at that stage he was a bit of a wet blanket.

I painted him as the perfect husband: handsome, supportive, great with the kids and handy in the kitchen. While Jennifer was having all sorts of crises thrown at her by the other characters, I wanted him to be the rock she could retreat to.

But I soon realised that was the wrong approach. A man doesn’t have to be perfect to be a good husband, nor does he have to be so much of a ‘new man’ that he’s unbelievable.

So I changed him.

I started to think about how he’d react to the political situation he and Jennifer found themselves in and the way it victimised him and his sons as Muslims. I analysed Jennifer’s actions, sometimes impulsive, and considered how Yusuf, as a real person and not some idealised version of manhood, might react to those.

And the conclusion I came to was that, while still being a great guy (which really comes out in book three of the trilogy), he’s angry.

He’s angry at a government that’s victimising Muslims like himself. He’s angry at a school system that wants to segregate his sons. He’s angry at a society that doesn’t trust him. And often he’s angry at Jennifer for being a part of that system as a government minister, albeit a rebellious one.

He doesn’t get as angry as his eldest son Samir, whose reaction to Islamophobia is a key driver for the plot. But he understands where Samir is coming from, and often argues with Jennifer about it.

They argue about the fact that she’s part of a government that wants to increase surveillance. They argue about the riots that take place, and how they make him scared for his kids. And they argue about how to respond when Samir gets into trouble for fighting at school.

But when push comes to shove, can Yusuf and Jennifer put aside their differences and channel their different forms of anger at the same target? Can they work together and use that anger to make things better?

The only way to find out is by reading the book!

A House Divided is out now in eBook and paperback. You can also find out more about the characters (including Jennifer) and read excerpts at my website.

'I'm Rachel McLean and I write thrillers and speculative fiction.

I'm told that the world wants upbeat, cheerful stories - well, I'm sorry but I can't help. My stories have an uncanny habit of predicting future events (and not the good ones). They're inspired by my work at the Environment Agency and the Labour Party and explore issues like climate change, Islamophobia, the refugee crisis and sexism in high places. All with a focus on how these impact individual people and families.

You can find out more about my writing, get access to deals and exclusive stories or become part of my advance reader team by joining my book club at rachelmclean.com/bookclub.