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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Wednesday's Writer - Jan Ruth

Having always had concerns that my books don't sit easily in one specific genre, I was interested to hear that publishers - despite loving Jan Ruth's novel - were unsure where to 'place' it when they were offered it a few years ago, and therefore turned it down.  Well that simply confirms my opinion that publishers often get it terribly wrong.  They certainly made a big mistake in letting Wild Water slip through their nets.

From the very first page I knew I was in for my favourite kind of story written in my favourite style - literary, witty, incisive etc.  And at no time throughout my reading (which was practically in a single sitting) was I disappointed.

Book description

Jack Redman, estate agent to the Cheshire set. An unlikely hero, or someone to break all the rules?
Wild water is the story of forty-something estate agent, Jack, who is stressed out not only by work, bills and the approach of Christmas but by the feeling that he and his wife, Patsy are growing apart. His misgivings prove founded when he discovers Patsy is having an affair, and is pregnant.
At the same time as his marriage begins to collapse around him, he becomes reacquainted with his childhood sweetheart, Anna, whom he left for Patsy twenty-five years before. He finds his feelings towards Anna reawaken, but will life and family conflicts conspire to keep them apart again?
Pan Macmillan Books; “It has a good combination of humour and poignancy. The characters are well portrayed and Jan delves shrewdly into their make-up, gradually allowing their traits to become evident and appreciated.” 

WILD WATER is the WINNER of the Cornerstones Literary Consultancy, 'Most Popular Self Published book' Competition. December 2011.

Wild Water

This is a truly delightful tragi-comedy that will draw you into its enchanting world from page one and keep you engrossed to the last page.  I defy you not to fall a little bit in love with the long-suffering Jack Redman and positively loathe his selfish, ungrateful and avaricious wife.  Life, work, marriage and kids chuck all the slings and arrows imaginable at poor Jack, but he fends them all off with consummate skill, keeping him out of the victim class and well up there with the best and most memorable heroes.  I would really love a sequel featuring this engaging character.  Oh, and the dogs of course, who become endearing characters in their own right - take a big bow-wow Benson and Hooper!

Jan Ruth is a writer at one with her characters and her landscape and her amazing talent as a story-weaver makes the reader grow to know and love both aspects with equal passion.  Her writing is intelligent, humorous and skillful and her story flows so well that there is no place to say `well this is a good place to stop for today and pick it up again tomorrow' - you just have to continue reading. 

I thought her style was slightly reminiscent of Clive James in what I always considered his best novel ('Brilliant Creatures' starring the long-suffering Lancelot Windhover) but - and sorry, Mr James, although I love you to pieces - rather more approachable generally speaking. It isn't too highbrow but at no time does it ever become trite or predictable (well, maybe with the exception of the obnoxious Philipe's true nature and his revelations at the end - but then I think that was cleverly executed dramatic irony and we were meant to guess those quite early on anyway). 

At the time of reading, I felt the story could benefit from slightly sharper editing, in terms of grammar, punctuation, spelling etc because I happen to have the sort of eyes that refuse to just skim over glitches of this nature. Such a perfect story deserves to be faultless in my mind.  I was therefore delighted to hear that since my reading of it, the novel has been re-edited.  It was a minor niggle anyway considering that this story entertained me so thoroughly and delightfully from start to finish.  So, Ms Jan Ruth - I happily give you my full five cute cats award!

Wild Water has been through twenty years of format changes! It began life on a typewriter (remember those?) Recently re-edited, a second edition is now available.
Also by Jan Ruth, Midnight Sky & White Horizon.
About Jan Ruth

Jan lives in North Wales and writes contemporary, romantic women's fiction. Love stories with strong, identifiable characters. Her feel for the Welsh landscape is evident in all of her books. Her style has been described as between two genres - not light enough for romance but not literature either - it sits somewhere between the two. Her books convey some serious threads with a good blend of humour, a balance of light and dark. They are slightly different from the majority of romance in that she often writes from the male perspective.

Her first attempt at a full length novel attracted a London agent struggling to start her own venture, that of publishing love stories with a difference. When chatting with author Gilli Allan recently, Jan was surprised to learn that they had both been in on this venture (many, many years ago!) which alas came to nothing. Her second novel, Wild Water, attracted another London agent (Jane Judd) but again failed to find the right niche with a publisher. Eventually, along came e-readers and indie publishing, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Amazon kindle has changed the face of the publishing industry and specific genres and publishers budgets, are no longer in the driving seat. It is an amazing platform for writers, in that all books, successfully published or not- are available to a worldwide audience, but most importantly to the reader, who is after all the most important judge.

Monday, August 27, 2012

e-Festival of Words - Winners and Special Book Offers

Readers! Eight award winners in the 2012 eFestival of Words "Best of the Independent eBook Awards" have grouped together to offer you an amazing opportunity. They've reduced the prices of their award-winning novels to 99 cents for August 27 and 28th!

Whether you like to read mysteries, romance, horror, young adult, women's fiction, or fantasy, this group has it. Are you a writer yourself? Do you want to learn all about digitally publishing your next masterpiece? They've got you covered there too.

Get all eight award-winning ebooks for the price of one single paperback!

Award Winners

Best Mystery/Suspense: Dead is the New Black by Christine DeMaio-Rice

Best Non-Fiction: DIY/Self-Help: Let's Get Digital by David Gaughran

Best Horror: 61 A.D. by David McAfee

Best Romance: Deadly Obsession by Kristine Cayne

Best Young Adult: The Book of Lost Souls by Michelle Muto

Best Fantasy/Urban Fantasy and Best NovelThe Black God's War by Moses Siregar III

Best Chick Lit/Women's LitCarpe Bead'em by Tonya Kappes

Award for Best Twist ("I've Been Shyamalaned"): The Survival of Thomas Ford by John A.A. Logan

Here's a one-stop shopping link for your convenience:

Book Blurbs

Dead is the New Black by Christine DeMaio-Rice

Laura Carnegie gave up on the man of her dreams a long time ago. He's fashion designer Jeremy St. James, and not only is he her boss, everyone knows he's gay.

When the woman who holds the company purse strings is found dead in the office, and Jeremy's arrested for the murder, everything changes. If Laura can just solve this crime, keep the cops off her tail, break up a counterfeiting ring, and get the show on the runway by Friday, she might stop being Seventh Avenue's perpetual loser.

If you love Project Runway, or enjoyed The Devil Wears Prada, try Dead Is the New Black.

Let's Get Digital by David Gaughran

This guide contains over 60,000 words of essays, articles, and how-to guides, as well as contributions from 33 bestselling indie authors including J Carson Black, Bob Mayer, Victorine Lieske, Mark Edwards, and many more.

It covers everything from how the disruptive power of the internet has changed the publishing business forever to the opportunities this has created for writers. It gives you practical advice on editing, cover design, formatting, and pricing. And it reveals marketing tips from blogging and social networking right through to competitions, discounts, reviews, and giveaways.

If you are considering self-publishing, if you need to breathe life into your flagging sales, or if you want to understand why it's a great time to be a writer, Let's Get Digital: How To Self-Publish, And Why You Should will explain it all.

61 A.D. by David McAfee

61 A.D. For ten years, Taras has lived in the young city of Londinium, feeding off the city’s underbelly. But now Theron, his old enemy, has come looking for revenge, and Taras’ nights of living in relative peace are about to end.

Yet not even Theron can slip into town unnoticed, and the Council of Thirteen sends Ramah to deal with the two renegades once and for all. But unknown to the Council, a much older enemy is also in Londinium, and this time even the great Ramah might not be safe.

Set against the backdrop of the Iceni uprising in Roman-era Britannia, 61 A.D. continues the story of Taras, Theron, and Ramah, as they fight their way through history.

Deadly Obsession by Kristine Cayne

Nic Lamoureux's perfect movie star life is shattered by a stalker who threatens any woman close to him. When he meets photographer Lauren James, the attraction is instant--and mutual. She's exactly the sort of woman he craves, but the stalker makes deadly clear Lauren is the competition.

And the competition must be eliminated.

"Stock up on ice cubes because this is definitely one sizzling debut. Readers will be hooked from the first sentence- on the book and on Nic! As rich as a white chocolate cheesecake, Cayne's entrance into the suspense genre is invigorating, explosive and simply intoxicating." ~ RT Book Reviews Top Pick

The Book of Lost Souls by Michelle Muto

When teen witch Ivy MacTavish changes a lizard into her date for a Halloween dance, everything turns to chaos. And when no one is powerful enough to transform him back except Ivy, it sparks the rumor: Like father, like daughter. Worse, someone has used an evil spell book to bring back two of history's most nefarious killers.

Ivy's got a simple plan to set things right: find the real dark spell caster, steal the book, and reverse the spell. No problem! But first, she’ll have to deal with something more dangerous than murderous spirits: the school’s hotter-than-brimstone demon bad boy, Nick Marcelli. Demons are about as hard to handle as black magic, and Ivy soon discovers it’s going to take more than a lot of luck and a little charm if she wants to clear her status as a dark witch, get a warm-blooded boyfriend, and have her former date back to eating meal worms before the week’s end

The Black God's War by Moses Siregar III

Against the backdrop of epic warfare and the powers of ten mysterious gods, Lucia struggles to understand The Black One.

Her father-king wants war.

Her messianic brother wants peace.

The black god wants his due.

She suffers all the consequences.

"Moses is a fine writer deserving of success, and I think that it will follow ... I really enjoyed Moses's work." - David Farland, NYT Bestselling Author of The Runelords

Carpe Bead'em by Tonya Kappes

Hallie Mediate was raised by her (slightly) crazy Great Aunt Grace on the wrong side of the tracks in Cincinnati. Hallie escapes her hometown and never looks back.

That is, until she’s transferred back to the hometown. Not wanting her past to cross paths with her future, Hallie puts her life on hold.

Aunt Grace is still up to her old tricks, but Hallie finds some sanity at a local jewelry-making class where she uncovers a hidden talent for beading.

Will she keep searching for the happiness she may already have found?

The Survival of Thomas Ford by John A.A. Logan

Thomas Ford is the only survivor of the car crash which killed his wife. He is also the only witness who would be willing to identify the young, reckless driver who caused the crash. But the driver would sooner see Thomas Ford dead than ever let that happen.

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wednesday's Writer - Me!

It's often said that a change is as good as a rest, so, as a change from my usual Wednesday's Writer post, I've decided to offer a sneak preview from my forthcoming romantic suspense, due for publication later this year.  Needless to say I'm incredibly excited about this, but it's been a long time in the publication process and November still seems so far away.  The book still doesn't have a cover, but it does have a title (for many years in my head it was always known as the Greek story).  This eventually evolved into In Loving Hate - a quotation loosely borrowed from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.

For more information about In Loving Hate and a longer preview, please check out my publishers' website here.

The Blurb:

How far will the rich and powerful go in order to achieve their goals? That is the question Lyssa must decide when she finds herself caught between two formidable adversaries: powerful business tycoon and shipping magnate, Alex Andrakis and close childhood friend, ‘Dynamic’ Nell Winters, brewery heiress and prolific businesswoman.

Following the failure of her marriage in Greece, Lyssa returns to her family home in London, to discover that her mother, a once-celebrated actress, is now facing crippling debts.  When Lyssa begins to investigate these, she becomes embroiled in the intricate business dealings of Nell and her arch-rival Alex.  Irresistibly drawn towards widower Alex and his unhappy young son, Lyssa begins to uncover some unexpected and disturbing facts. 

The more involved she becomes, the more shocking are the discoveries she makes.  The conflicts culminate in a frightening battle for survival as Lyssa finds herself the prime target between the possessive Nell and obsessive Alex.   With her loyalties deeply divided, can Lyssa make the right choice for everyone concerned?

In this short excerpt from Chapter One, Lyssa, fleeing from Greece to meet her best friend, Nell in Geneva before driving back to London, encounters a friendly and charismatic surgeon on the two day ferry crossing between Greece and Italy.  She is grateful for his friendship, which later becomes very significant, but which he would like to develop into something deeper:

In Loving Hate

They paused beside the small deck pool, now hidden beneath heavy rope netting.  The deck teemed with loitering passengers, enjoying the balmy night air.  Like themselves, others had collected around the pool where the playful breeze did not reach.  As if called by an unspoken command, they turned and retraced their steps toward the stern.
“I’d like to make love to you,” he told her. He placed his hand over hers on the rail.  He stood so close to her, she could feel the warmth of his breath on her cheek.  A tiny thrill of pleasure tingled through her body and she allowed herself to savour it, just for a moment.
She looked down at his tanned hand with its long, sensuous fingers and smiled.  “I know.  I read the clues.”
He leaned closer still and brushed her ear lightly with his lips.  “That’s not an answer.”
“You didn’t ask a question.”  She turned her hand palm upward and surveyed his elegant, slender fingers for a moment longer before easing her own hand away from the contact.
“Won’t you share my air-con?”  He kept his voice light.
She shook her head and turned away to stare into the churning waters below.  Laughter filtered out across the deck, danced about her ears; then flew out across the dark water.
“Why not?”
She started suddenly as a plaintive cry sounded above her.
“It’s a seagull.  They always follow the boats,” he explained, without looking upward.
“Even at night?” Surprised, she scanned the blackness for a moment before discerning the white shape darting about the flapping blue and white flag above them.
He placed his hands evenly on her shoulders.  “Well?”
Her gaze fell slowly until it rested on his face.  She smiled faintly as she considered the doctor’s prescription.  One night of illicit sex.  She wondered what vicarious pleasure he might receive from administering his chosen therapy. 
“You are overqualified, doctor,” she chided.
He frowned in puzzlement.
“I have a severe allergy to married men,” she explained.
He sighed; then smiled in resignation, offering no further arguments.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday - apologies

I'm not being lazy, but unfortunately I've had to forego both my Wednesday's Writer and Six Sentence Sunday spots this week due  to a major domestic upheaval.  Not me or my close family, but - and anyone who has read 'Shopping for Love' which I've featured in previous weeks will understand - an elderly neighbour, who was my 'Joan'.

Sadly, when you reach the age of 86, life becomes very fragile and small things can have a seriously detrimental effect on the remainder of your life.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed for my elderly neighbour who is gravely ill and who, like Joan, has no one else around to help her in her hour of need.

I hope to be back on track next week, but in the meantime, I urge you to check out other participants of Six Sentence Sunday by clicking this link.  I know I'll be reading them - I'm completely hooked.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday

Sunday seems to come around so much faster since I began participating in Six Sentence Sunday.  This is a feature where writers choose only six sentences from one of their stories to post on their blogs.  I've been posting short excerpts from my latest contemporary romance, Shopping for Love.  Last week I showed Greg's dilemma when he had uncovered corruption at his place of work, so this week I thought I would show Emma's predicament at the primary school where she teaches.

Here she is being questioned by her headteacher, Vanessa, and forced to decide between her career and her blossoming relationship with Greg after complaints by Greg's former wife.

Emma was too surprised to answer and merely stared at her superior.

       “Mrs Harper feels that because of your position as Sophie’s teacher, there could be a conflict of interests involved if this were true.  She considers it a breach of professionalism.  Of course I assured her that your conduct had always been beyond reproach and I was sure there would be some innocent explanation.  I seriously doubt she’ll take the matter any further, but I felt I should make you aware of her feelings.  I know I can depend on you to conduct yourself in the correct way, Emma.”

You can read the six sentence extracts from other participating bloggers at:

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Wednesday's Writer - Paula Martin

I feel rather ashamed that it took me as long as it did to discover my featured author this week.  Ashamed not just because she's a fellow Northerner writing in a similar genre to myself, but more especially because she's such an excellent writer.  I'm very pleased, therefore, to have read and reviewed her latest release Changing the Future and I hope everyone who trusts my judgement will read it also.


Lisa Marshall is stunned when celebrated volcanologist Paul Hamilton comes back into her life at the college where she now teaches. Despite their acrimonious break-up several years earlier, they soon realise the magnetic attraction between them is stronger than ever. However, the past is still part of the present, not least when Paul discovers Lisa has a young son. They can’t change that past, but will it take a volcanic eruption to help them change the future? 

 This was one of those novels that immersed me in its world right from the start. It felt like the sort of cosy chick-flick I enjoy curling up on the sofa to watch on rainy Sunday afternoons. I immediately identified with the characters and became engrossed in their lives and conflicts and from the first page on it was an easy, smooth and deeply satisfying read.

College lecturer, Lisa Marshall, has brought up her young son, Nicky as a single parent, having parted from his father before his birth. In fact, the father, the rather gorgeous Paul Hamilton, expert volcanologist (nothing at all to do with Star Trek!) turned TV celebrity knows nothing about his son. This naturally causes big problems for Lisa when he turns up at her college to take over some geosciences classes as a favour for a mutual friend.

It soon becomes evident that the two still harbour powerful feelings for each other but neither can get past their painfully acrimonious separation of five years previously. This becomes `the elephant in the room' between them as they find themselves constantly thrown into each other's company. Despite all their avowals to avoid each other, their romance is rekindled and the depth of their feelings for each other is unmistakable. But misunderstandings abound and past grievances once again rear their heads and their second break-up looks destined to be their last. It seems only some earth-shattering event can bring these two to where they rightfully belong - with each other. I'm not going to say any more because I'd hate to ruin the pleasure for other readers and I always try to avoid spoilers.

Having read of this writer's love of England's beautiful Lake District, I rather expected more of a sense of location in this novel. However the splendour of New York and the grandeur of Iceland more than compensated for this and I was totally entranced by both.

This may have been the first novel I've read from this author but it certainly won't be the last! Changing the Future is a deeply satisfying story and one I would highly recommend to all lovers of romance.  Very definitely worthy of my top cute cats award.

About the author:

Paula Martin had some early publishing success with short stories and four contemporary romance novels, but then had a break from writing while she brought up a young family and also pursued her career as a history teacher for twenty-five years. She has recently returned to writing fiction, after retiring from teaching, and has had three romance novels published, ‘His Leading Lady’ in June 2011, ‘Fragrance of Violets’ in February 2012, and ‘Changing the Future’ in May 2012 (all available on Amazon). Another novel ‘Her Only Option’ will be published in November 2012 and she is currently working on two more.
She lives near Manchester in North-West England, and has two daughters and two grandsons. Apart from writing, she enjoys visiting new places and has travelled extensively in Britain, mainland Europe, the Middle East, America and Canada. Her favourite places are the English Lake District and Ireland. She’s also interested in musical theatre and tracing her family history.

You can find out more about this excellent author from the links below:
Group Blog (with 3 other writers):
Link for US readers:

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday

My six sentence Sunday offering is again from my latest title: Shopping for Love.  The hero, Greg, has uncovered dodgy dealings at the investment bank where he is employed as a software developer and has reported this to the CEO.  Unfortunately, the colleague responsible for the illegalities happens to be the CEO's son.  Max Sandler's nepotism means that Greg's days at the bank are numbered.

He knew that simply by copying the faulty code to produce as evidence, he was in breach of contract and they could, if they thought of it, use the non-disclosure clause in his contract to bring about his disgrace and downfall.  Sacked on a technicality – a straightforward clause in his own contract.  He needed to act quickly before he found himself locked out from accessing important data.  He saw from the calendar he was due to see Max Sandler at eleven.  He spent the next half hour running a query to pull up data of all the companies likely to be interested in Mongolian investments and vertical integration with Kennago - and with a sufficiently high market cap to make them viable options.  In for a penny, Greg thought, in for half a million pounds.

You can read the six sentence extracts from other participating bloggers at

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Last year I gave birth to an alien...

Last year I gave birth to an alien.  It was a freakish little thing delivered after about a year of pain and sweat, so naturally we were both at a bit of a disadvantage when I gave it its first outing.  It might have been odd, but it was my creation and I loved it and was hypersensitive to certain types of criticism about it which seemed designed to be nothing but cruel. 

I was happy enough to receive constructive advice from well-wishers telling me what I'd done wrong, but there were some troll-like characters whose comments bordered on insulting.  They would (effectively) say things like 'I can't bear to look at this because it doesn't fit in with my beliefs or expectations' or point out the obvious i.e. that it had three eyes and was therefore alien.  I didn't find those kind of comments helpful, but then they weren't intended to be.  They were only intended to be destructive.  So I started comparing notes with other creators of aliens.

Okay, yes!  You've worked it out.  I'm rabbiting on about reviews again.  The shores of the mighty Amazon (that's the shop, not the river) seem to be infested with certain barbaric, troll-like creatures who gather in tribes in certain forums to plan attacks on unsuspecting authors.  And I've heard some horrendous stories about their war tactics.  These marauding troops roam the kindle bookshelves, self-appointed troll-police, searching out writers with too many positive reviews in order to try to destroy their reputations by posting or up-voting mean-minded negative comments, that often bear very little relation to the work in question.

This behaviour can make a writer feel like the story he or she has tried so hard to produce for the pleasure and entertainment of others is some freaky little alien that should never have been born.  The warring armies will almost certainly not have read the book and are therefore in no position to decide whether a negative comment is helpful or not, but that doesn't stop them.  They are exempt from normal scruples.

A solitary author up against such an army can feel demoralised and worthless.  He or she has been accused of cheating - of enlisting friends, relatives and worse - far worse, other authors to write positive comments about the work in question.  We all know other authors are not expected to be readers with their own opinions.

But there is a solution - and it came from the mouth of the mighty Amazon itself.  The lone writer should join forces with other writers and beat the trolls at their own wargame by up-voting the positive reviews to such an extent that the nasty negative one becomes less prominent.  Dirty tactics?  Possibly, but then if all's fair in love and war, arguably the same could be said about reviews as these relate to one's love-child - even if it is an alien.

Have you been 'trolled', and if so, how did you deal with it?