#BlogTour | #Extract: The Abattoir of Dreams by Mark Tilbury (@MTilburyAuthor) @BloodhoundBook

the abattoir of dreams.jpg“The past is never far away. Michael Tate has not had an easy life. With his father in prison, and his mother dead, Michael was sent to Woodside Children’s Home. Now an adult, Michael wakes up in hospital from a coma suffering from amnesia and paralysis. Confused and terrified, he is charged with the fatal stabbing of his girlfriend, Becky. He also learns he attempted to end his own life. Detective Inspector John Carver is determined that Michael is sent to prison. With no way of defending himself, Michael is left in his hospital bed awaiting transfer to remand. But then strange things begin to happen and his childhood comes back to haunt him. Can Michael ever escape the past? Will he ever discover the truth about Becky’s murder? And why is DI Carver so eager to make him suffer? The Abattoir of Dreams is a bitter sweet story of murder, innocence and abuse.”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the The Abattoir of Dreams blog tour.  Author Mark Tilbury is one of those writers whose work I have been incredibly keen to read since I started blogging over a year ago.  A number of fellow bloggers whose opinions I trust are huge Mark Tilbury fans which I think says an awful lot, don’t you?  And I plan to start with The Abattoir of Dreams as it’s receiving absolutely brilliant, rave reviews.

To celebrate it’s recent release I have an extract to share with you today.  So without further ado, make yourself comfy and read on…

Chapter One
Nurse Emily Dixon fussed with my bedsheet and fixed me with a smile that seemed more professional than friendly. ‘There’s someone here to see you, Michael.’
‘Who?’
‘Detective Inspector Carver. Thames Valley police.’
‘Has he found my memory?’
‘I think it’s more serious than that.’ She left, replaced by a tall, slim man in a charcoal suit.
‘Hello, Mr. Tate.’
There was something about his lopsided grin I didn’t like. Half-sincere, perhaps? ‘Hello.’
‘I see they’ve given you your own room.’
Wasn’t I the lucky one.
He sat on a chair next to the bed. ‘Do you know why I’m here?’
‘No.’ I wiped sweat off my forehead with the back of my hand. There was a fan on top of a five-drawer unit by the window; its blades didn’t so much as spin but lurch, like a buckled wheel.
Next to the unit, a wheelchair, my only mode of transport in this brave, new, paralysed world. If anyone ever bothered to hoist me out of the bed, that was.
‘Look at me when I’m speaking to you, Michael. Didn’t your mother teach you any manners?’
This sudden change of tone sent a shiver through my body. I didn’t have a clue whether my mother had taught me anything; I didn’t even remember her. I looked into his pale blue eyes; they seemed to glisten in the afternoon sunlight pouring through a small window behind the bed.
‘That’s better,’ he crooned. ‘You can tell a lot from a man’s eyes.’
The room didn’t seem to have enough air. I wanted to run to the window. Dive through it. Put an end to this eternal nightmare of paralysis and amnesia.
‘You look better than the last time I last saw you.’
‘Last time?’
‘I’ve been to see you three times, Michael. First time, you had tubes sticking out of everywhere.  Second time, you were still in a coma. Not very chatty.’ He grinned, seemingly pleased with his own lame joke. ‘But, today, hey presto, the wanderer returns.’
‘Why are you here?’
He ignored my question. ‘Funny things, comas; neither dead nor alive. Strange sort of limbo.’
‘If you say so.’
‘Have you remembered anything yet? Doctor claims you’re suffering from amnesia.’
‘I don’t remember a thing.’ The truth.
‘If I was to be cynical, Michael, I might think your memory loss was a tad convenient. But, just for the record, let me help you with the events of Monday, June twenty-first; the night you walked to the top of Evenlode flats and tried your hand at flying. A witness said you came home from work at nine-fifteen. She remembered you because you always dragged your work bag up the metal handrail and pissed her off.’
‘Work?’
‘The George Hotel in Feelham. You were a washer-upper. A dish-jockey. But, that’s not relevant, Michael. Suffice to say, you left work at eight forty-five, and clunked your way upstairs at nine-fifteen. Our witness says she heard a lot of banging and thudding coming from your flat, but she just assumed you were having sex. Then, at ten thirty-five, according to two eye witnesses, you jumped off the roof. So, that just leaves the missing hour and twenty minutes when you stabbed your girlfriend to death with a kitchen knife.’
My heart stopped. ‘What?’
‘Murdered her in cold blood, Michael.’ He spoke the way some adults speak to old people as if they’re all deaf and daft. ‘Stabbed her twenty-one times.’
‘My girlfriend?’
‘Becky Marie Coombs. Name ring a bell?’
It didn’t. How was I supposed to react to the news I’d killed my girlfriend if I didn’t even remember her? It felt as if Carver was describing a nightmare which had happened to someone else.
‘Did you let yourself into your flat, or did Becky let you in?’
‘I don’t remember.’
‘Course. I forgot. All Dumbo’s memories fell out of his ears when he hit that builder’s van. Let me help you. Tell you what I think happened. You got home after working your bollocks off in that hotel kitchen. Only thing you’re bothered about is a drink to unwind and hitting the sack, right?’
‘If you say so.’
‘You like a drink, don’t you, Michael?’
‘I don’t know.’
‘You do. Becky’s mum called you a piss-head, but that’s neither here nor there. So, you let yourself in, and then you realise your worst nightmare. Becky’s in bed with another man.’
‘I don’t—’
‘I’ll tell you this for nothing, son: I would have been bloody furious as well. How dare some dirty dog get into your bed and soil your sheets?’
The room was stifling. Suffocating. There was an oxygen cylinder by the door. I almost called out for a nurse to come and connect me up to it.
‘Let’s face it, Michael, you’ve not got much going for you, have you? A shitty job in a shitty hotel. Crap pay. Crap hours. A drink problem. A face like a smacked arse. If life was a pair of underpants, you’d be a skid mark, right?’
‘Could you open the window?’
He didn’t seem to hear me. ‘Do you know how I do my job, Michael?’
‘No.’
‘I imagine myself in the same situation as the criminal. Ask myself what would I do if I came home knackered from work and found my bird in bed with a stranger. A fucking freeloader. And here’s the truth: I’d want blood, too. Not the man’s. No way. Uh-uh. That slimy twat has no contract with me. No promises to stay faithful. No declarations of undying love. Just a dirty little opportunist. But, Mrs. Carver, bless her, well, she swore to be mine and mine alone. Not get in the sack with someone else as soon as my back’s turned. Open her legs to the first dirty bastard who paid her a compliment. Are we thinking the same thoughts, Michael?’
‘I—’
‘Of course we are. It’s a universal truth no man is willing to share. What’s his is his. So, I’d throw out the imposter. Naked if need be. Then I’d do the same as you Michael. I’d stab the bitch to death in a jealous rage.’
I focussed my attention on the knackered fan. It looked the way I felt.
‘Twenty-one stab wounds, Michael. And you expect me to believe you don’t remember a single one of them?’
‘I don’t.’
‘What about the one in her neck?’
‘I need water.’
‘Or the ten in her left breast?’
‘Please. I don’t—’
‘Was the breast significant, Michael? Maybe the bloke was sucking her tit when you caught them at it?’
My chest felt as if a boa constrictor had coiled itself around me and was squeezing for all it was worth.
‘You stabbed her in the eye, Michael. Was that symbolic?’
I shook my head. What did he want me to say? Oh, yes, come to think of it, I did mutilate her.
It must have slipped my mind.
Carver took a picture from the breast pocket of his suit. He handed it to me. ‘This is what you did, Michael. Take a good look. See if it jogs your memory.’

***

Woah!  If I wasn’t already lining this one up for the TBR I would be now.  Has that piqued your interest?  Let me know in the comments.

The Abattoir of Dreams by Mark Tilbury was published in the UK by Bloodhound Books on 28th February 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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mark tilbury.jpgMark lives in a small village in the lovely county of Cumbria, although his books are set in Oxfordshire where he was born and raised.

Mark served in the Royal Navy, and was left to raise his two daughters alone after being widowed. He finally took the plunge and self-published two books on Amazon, The Revelation Room and The Eyes of the Accused.

He’s always had a keen interest in writing, and is extremely proud to have his third novel, The Abattoir of Dreams, published by Bloodhound Books.

When he’s not writing, Mark can be found trying and failing to master blues guitar,
and taking walks around the beautiful county of Cumbria.

Author Links:Website | Twitter | Facebook |

 

 

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#BlogTour | #BookReview: No Safe Home by Tara Lyons (@taralyonsauthor) @BloodhoundBook

No Safe HOme cover.jpg“Detective Inspector Denis Hamilton is haunted when the suspicious death of a teenage girl triggers suppressed memories. With a stalker targeting vulnerable women in Central London, and his team rapidly diminishing, Hamilton must conquer his emotions before another family is destroyed. 

In a sleepy town in Hertfordshire, Katy has worked hard to rebuild her life after leaving behind everything she knew. But when her past catches up with her, and her young son’s life is threatened, Katy must admit her true identity if she has any hope of surviving.

A home should be a safe place, shouldn’t it?

But sometimes it is hard to know who you can trust…

I am absolutely delighted to welcome you to my stop on the No Safe Home blog tour.  I have been waiting for the release of this book for some time now, ever since I read Tara Lyon’s brilliant debut solo novel In the Shadows last year.  In the Shadows was so good that it made it onto my top reads of 2016 list.  A brilliant, twisty story with one of the most appealing fictional detectives I have met in a long time.  And he’s back!  This is book two in the DI Denis Hamilton series and oh my gosh, it’s a corker!

DI Hamilton and his team become involved in two brutal cases.  The first, a young teenager who has apparently committed suicide in her bedroom.  Her parents don’t believe for one moment that it’s suicide – they know their daughter was murdered.  DI Hamilton’s reaction to the case is strange…unexpected and he hastily makes a retreat leaving the case in the capable yet nervy hands of DS Kerry Fraser.  The second case involves the murder of a woman and her young son, left to decompose for weeks before being discovered. Meanwhile, Katy Royal is hiding something.  She’s upped sticks and moved from the busy, bustling city to a leafy Hertfordshire town.  She’s incognito and plans to do absolutely everything she can to stay that way.  Even if it means her young son has to spend the majority of his time tucked away in their flat.  But someone is watching and wanting Katy all for himself, and they will stop at nothing to find her.  But is he the only one?  And, most importantly, is he the most dangerous?

I absolutely loved this book.  I couldn’t wait to be reacquainted with the grumpy yet lovable DI.  I felt whilst reading In the Shadows that DI Denis Hamilton was one of the main characters but he wasn’t THE main character.  I found the man intriguing and I wanted to know more.  And that is exactly what Tara Lyons has done, she’s given us a whole lot more Denis. No Safe Home provides us with DI Hamilton’s tragic backstory, we get to meet his long suffering wife and see snippets of their marriage and the after effects of their loss.  He’s a lot nicer than the majority of detectives I like to read about so maybe I’m mellowing with age!

The prologue is both shocking and terrifying.  After reading it, I put my Kindle down, got out of bed and went to check on my sleeping children.  It’s not often that a book has that kind of affect on me!  From that point on I was hooked.  Katy makes you instantly suspicious and you want to know exactly what she is running away from.  What has she left behind in London and why?  As the story progressed I began to feel a real warmth and lots of sympathy for Katy; after all, she’s just a young single mum trying to do what’s best for her son.

Whilst reading the closing chapters I suddenly realised that I was holding my breath!  The plot moves at a swift, exciting pace making the book hard to put down.  Although this is the second book in the series I think it could easily be read as standalone as there is little to no mention of the previous case undertaken by Denis and his team.  I can’t quite put my finger on it but something about this book, compared to Tara’s previous solo release, felt different.  The writing style felt more self assured, more knowledgeable…dare I say, more mature?

Would I recommend this book?  Most definitely.  It’s a thoroughly enjoyable read and I can’t wait for more DI Denis Hamilton.  I can’t remember the last time I felt so much fear whilst reading…I thought reading was supposed to be relaxing!  Gripping plot, great storytelling and relatable characters.

Five out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an eARC of No Safe Home.  My thanks to Bloodhound Books for providing me with a copy and asking me to be a part of the blog tour.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

No Safe Home by Tara Lyons was published in the UK by Bloodhound Books on 31st January 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | Bloodhound Books |

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Tara is a crime/psychological thriller author from London, UK. Turning 30 in 2015 propelled her to fulfil her lifelong dream of becoming a writer. She studied English Literature at Brunel University and was Assistant Editor at an in-house magazine for 8 years,

In the Shadows is the author’s solo debut novel published in March 2016. She has also co-written with New York Times bestselling author, M.A Comley – The Caller and Web of Deceit.

When she’s not writing, Tara can be found at a local Wacky Warehouse stuck in the ball-pit with her young, energetic son.

Author Links: | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon | Website |

 

 

#BlogTour | #GuestPost: The Watcher by Netta Newbound (@nettanewbound) @BloodhoundBook

the watcher cover.jpg“Life couldn’t get much better for Hannah. She accepts her dream job in Manchester, and easily makes friends with her new neighbours.

When she becomes romantically involved with her boss, she can’t believe her luck. But things are about to take a grisly turn.

As her colleagues and neighbours are killed off one by one, Hannah’s idyllic life starts to fall apart. But when her mother becomes the next victim, the connection to Hannah is all too real.

Who is watching her every move?

Will the police discover the real killer in time?

Hannah is about to learn that appearances can be deceptive.”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the The Watcher blog tour.  The Watcher is written by Netta Newbound and was published by the fantastic Bloodhound Books at the end of last month (January 2017).  I have been wanting to read a novel by Netta Newbound for such a long time now so I am rather pleased to have The Watcher loaded onto the Kindle, ready and waiting.  It’s received some wonderful reviews so far and I can’t wait to make a start!

But today, in order to celebrate The Watcher‘s release, I have a fantastic, informative guest post to share with you (I do love a guest post!).  So without further ado, I’ll hand the blog over to Netta…

13 Things I Wish I Had Known BEFORE I Started Writing
Netta Newbound

1 – Writing the book is the easiest part. Anybody who tells you any different is deluded.

2 – The book, no matter how fabulous, will NOT sell itself. Becoming a successful writer isn’t guaranteed. Being a talented writer with a unique voice will NOT automatically launch you onto the New York Times best seller list. It will take weeks, and even months, of self-promotion on social media to sell just one or two copies. You must at all times consider your books as the most exciting read ever, even if you are totally sick of the heroine, the dog, the plot etc. It takes focus, determination and above all a thick skin.

3 – No amount of studying or array of framed fancy diplomas will help if you haven’t got a natural talent for writing. Of course you can always enhance any natural talent you have by extending your knowledge, but not the other way around. You don’t need to be highly educated—anybody can learn punctuation and grammar and if not, they can invest in a good editor. Often it is the financial outlay that stops a budding author in their tracks, so be prepared to forgo a few cappuccinos and even a holiday. The sacrifices will be worth it in the long run.

4 – Not everybody is going to like your writing style. Prepare yourself for the worst reviews and you won’t be disappointed. I’ve found people can be vicious and cruel whilst anonymously slating you from the comfort of their armchair.

5 – Steer clear of asking family members to read your work, at least until it is the best it can possibly be. Your family are there to love and support you. It’s a given their opinions will be biased. So, no matter how glowing the words they use, take them with a pinch of salt and move on.

6 – Hundreds of book sales do not equate to hundreds of reviews. It’s a fact that less than 10% of readers leave a review, so that means more than 90% of people NEVER leave reviews—and you’re more likely to receive a negative review than a positive one from these people. Why? Who knows—who even cares. Suck it up! Being a published author is bloody hard work.

7 – But, there is still hope. The more you write, the better your writing will become. As with anything, practice makes perfect. Make the time to write something every single day. Carry a small notebook in your bag and never be without a pen. Most people procrastinate—make excuses for not actually getting down to writing, from the lighting not being right, to too many people in the house, too noisy, not sitting on your favourite seat, too many distractions and the list goes on and on. So my advice is not to be too precious about where you actually write. If you force yourself to write in a café, or in the car (as a passenger, of course), on the bus/train, in a waiting room, or in the garden, you will never waste what could easily be valuable writing time.

8 – As I mentioned earlier, investing in a good editor is essential. It’s too late to fix any errors after the fact. Any derogatory reviews will stay with your book forever, no matter how many alterations you make. And, even if you are an editor or a keen wordsmith, it is impossible to edit your own books properly. How often have you considered Spell Check your friend—the only editing companion you need? But there’s a limit to how much magic Spell Check can work when its faced with a feast of typos, misspellings and punctuation or homonyms and homophones (words that sound the same but mean something else, to/two/too, their/there/they’re, accept/except, affect/effect) and so on.

9 – Listen to your readers. My first novel Behind Shadows was meant to be a standalone, but my readers fell in love with the detective who was a secondary character, which is how The Adam Stanley Thriller series came about.

10 – There is no right or wrong way to write. Some people start at the first page and write in sequence until they reach The End, they have no idea where the story will take them—this type of writer is known as a Pantser—they write by the seat of their pants. Others may write down the entire sequence of events before they even begin writing—this type of writer is known as a plotter—they will plan out timelines and research fashion and weather conditions of the time or place. Months of research can go into what a reader might think is just a story. Some will write the ending first and then steer their story towards it. Some write chapters out of sequence and piece them all together afterwards. That is more heuristic in style, and yes, I had to research that word. But whatever your style is, just write.

11 – As a writer you will hear lots of dos and don’ts—never use the dreaded ly words, only use said in dialogue, cut out the metaphors and similes, don’t overdo exclamation marks, clichés are evil. While I suggest you take the advice, don’t be too rigid or your writing might lose its flow and become stilted and wooden. The advice is there as a guide only.

12 – Read your work aloud. It’s hard to judge the rhythm of your sentences when reading in your head. You may find that the inflection of just one word changes the whole meaning or intent of the sentence.

13 – Only naive writers think their work is fabulous-doesn’t need editing-doesn’t need a second and third draft or even proofreading prior to publishing. Leave your ego behind. Great writers will doubt and second guess themselves all the time. Yay!!!

***

Thanks so much for the sound advice, Netta.  Some of the points you raise I should take note of myself…such as overdoing exclamation marks!!

The Watcher by Netta Newbound was published in the UK by Bloodhound Books on 30th January 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook versions | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads | Bloodhound Books |

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netta newbound.jpgNetta Newbound is the author of several best-selling psychological thrillers including An Impossible Dilemma and the Adam Stanley Thriller Series. Originally from Manchester, England, she now lives in New Zealand with her husband Paul and their boxer dog Alfie. She has three grown-up children and three delicious grandchildren.

As a child, Netta was plagued by a wild imagination, often getting in trouble for making up weird and wonderful stories. Yet she didn’t turn her attention to writing until after her children had grown and left home.

Author Links:Website | Facebook | Twitter |

#BlogTour | #Extract: Uncoiled Lies by Liz Mistry (@LizCrimeWarp) @BloodhoundBook

uncoiled-lies-coverMurder. Love. Corruption. DI Angus McGuire and the team are back and have their work cut out. 

Murdered prostitutes and a turf war between local gangsters takes the investigation into Bradford’s Immigrant communities where tensions run high.

To make matters worse McGuire is juggling an illicit relationship with his boss’s daughter and has fraught family relations.

Who is The Old Man?

What is the link between three dead prostitutes and a long forgotten murder?

Will McGuire and his team get the answers they want or is the uncomfortable truth much closer to home?

I’m very excited to be part of Liz Mistry’s Uncoiled Lies blog tour today.  Back in August I took part in Liz’s tour for her debut novel, Unquiet Souls, and Liz very kindly wrote a brilliant guest post about why crime does it for her.  If you’re new to the blog, or would just like a recap then please click here.

Anyhoo, back to the here and now and Liz’s brilliant new novel.  Today is publication day for Uncoiled Lies so before I do anything else I would like to wish author Liz Mistry and publisher Bloodhound Books a very happy book birthday!

I have an extract from Uncoiled Lies to pique your interest today and leave you wanting more.  So without further ado, let’s have a read and meet Shahid Khan…

 ‘Pick up for fuck’s sake!’ Shahid Khan paced the floor in front of his desk, phone tight to his ear.

When the number he’d dialled went to voicemail yet again, he turned and flung it, scattering the paperwork from his desk onto the floor. With a growl, he kicked the chair that stood nearby.

Anger reverberated through every muscle and laboured pants wracked his body as he tried to control himself. Why wasn’t she picking up? She’d promised him she’d phone at nine. What was she playing at? Shahid didn’t know who he was most angry with – her for letting him down or himself for caring so fucking much. He’d vowed never to let a woman have the sort of hold on him that Millie Green had once had on his dad. When she’d dumped him, and who could blame her after the way he treated her, his dad had been devastated and now here he was dangling on the end of the phone like an idiot. He took a deep breath, bit his lip and reminded himself that Trixie wasn’t like Millie and he was certainly nothing like his dad, but still the anger bubbled in his chest. He knew he’d have to do something about it before he exploded.

‘Fuck!’ He spat the word into the empty room and strode over to the annex in the corner where his punch bag hung – a hulk of malevolent shiny black leather, dangling in ominous silence, lit by a single spotlight casting its shadow over the real oak floor. Not bothering with the boxing gloves that lay on a shelf beside his weights, he thumped a bare-fisted one-two-one rhythm into the bag making it swing widely, forcing him to jump on the balls of his toes to avoid being hit on the rebound… again… faster.

After two minutes of pummelling, he was panting, sweat dripping from his brow. He stopped to catch his breath, relaxed his shoulders and looked at his bloodied knuckles. How many times had his trainer told him always to use the gloves? He flexed his fists, savouring the stinging stretch that made more blood ooze over his hands and gather in the creases between his fingers. Breathing steadier, he walked to the sink, flicked the cold tap on and watched as the water splashed his blood in abstract patterns onto the pristine ceramic – like one of the paint blot paintings Imti used to bring home from school when he was a kid. He smiled remembering how, in the absence of his dad’s loving presence and, with his step-mum’s indifference like a weight on his shoulders, he’d hugged the boy and carefully pinned Imti’s proud offerings all over the kitchen. He’d lost his sister years ago, but he wasn’t going to lose his baby brother – not a bloody chance!

***

Sounds so good!  I have a copy of Uncoiled Lies on my TBR so watch out for a review coming your way soon.

Uncoiled Lies by Liz Mistry was published in the UK by Bloodhound Books on 26th January 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads | Bloodhound Books |

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lizAs well as writing crime fiction, Liz is co-founder of and main contributor to The Crime Warp blog, which reviews all areas of crime fiction, interviews crime authors and participates in blog tours.  She is the main publicist for the blog, using social media to promote our presence.

Liz is an ex teacher who has taught in inner city Bradford schools for over twenty years.  Her husband of 27 years is Indian and they have three children.  They live in inner city Bradford and Liz likes to use the rich tapestry of her life in Bradford, combined with her Scottish heritage, in her writing.

She is currently completing her dissertation for an MA in creative writing at Leeds Trinity University and hopes to graduate in December with a distinction.

Author Links:Facebook | Twitter | Blog |

#BlogTour | #GuestPost: Games People Play by Owen Mullen (@OwenMullen6) @BloodhoundBook

51fe2drwqul“Thirteen-month-old Lily Hamilton is abducted from Ayr beach in Scotland while her parents are just yards away.

Three days later the distraught father turns up at private investigator Charlie Cameron’s office. Mark Hamilton believes he knows who has stolen his daughter. And why.

Against his better judgment Charlie gets involved in the case and when more bodies are discovered the awful truth dawns: there is a serial killer whose work has gone undetected for decades.

Is baby Lily the latest victim of a madman?

For Charlie it’s too late, he can’t let go.

His demons won’t let him.”

I am absolutely delighted to be today’s stop on the Games People Play blog tour.  Games People Play is the first book in the Charlie Cameron series written by author Owen Mullen and published by the incredible Bloodhound Books.  I’m excited to have Games People Play  on my TBR and can’t wait to read it.  Between you and I, I’m hoping to add book 2 in the series, Old Friends and New Enemies to the list soon too.

But there’s no point talking about book 2 when we haven’t celebrated the release of the first book in the series.  So today I have a treat for you, and it’s something that I don’t feel I’ve had enough of on damppebbles recently…it’s a guest post (I do love a guest post!  For new visitors to the blog my husband thinks I should coin the phrase, ‘I do love a guest post’ as my catchphrase.  He’s probably right…)  So without further ado I will hand the floor over to Owen Mullen who is going to tell you about the best and worst things about being an author.

The Best And Worst Things About Being an Author

I started writing with two objectives in mind. First, to join the great cannon of literature, and stand shoulder to shoulder with Dickens and Steinbeck; Mark Twain and Evelyn Waugh. My dream was to see my books on a shelf next to these awesome talents.

And second, I wanted to crack a few bob out of it.

Like anything else there are pros and cons. Taking an idea and developing it into a story with characters that almost become friends and a plot that keeps me interested, never mind anybody else, is a thrill. Getting the result published is another deal entirely.

Often the solitary aspect of writing is described as a down-side. Not for me. I am at my happiest in the worlds I have created; much more comfortable than the real one. And when the story comes together, the hundreds of hours spent creating it is time well spent. In the early days I would print out the final manuscript, with my name neatly typed on the cover, and sit it on the dining-room table. The feeling of satisfaction is hard to understand. I tend not to do that now although there is always a sense of achievement when the work is completed.

These and other pleasures come with writing, but, without doubt, the best experience is when someone – usually a stranger – tells me they have read my book, loved it, and can’t wait for the next one. People have been very kind to me along the way; it is appreciated, and I don’t forget it. I write to be read; otherwise, why bother?

I haven’t had a bestseller – yet – but can imagine that will be another high.

On the other hand, a book doesn’t just happen. It takes commitment, patience and belief, and even then an author might not reach the finish line. I have a routine. I write every morning for five hours, five days a week. No surprise the pages mount up. But I don’t always feel like it. Occasionally I baulk at the discipline required. Some days are more productive than others and the feeling of not quite producing enough isn’t pleasant: like a pain that has to be worked through. At times I would rather squander my time in any way that didn’t involve writing.

And now and then I do just that.

But I always return because this is who I am.

The parts of the process I don’t enjoy are mostly not connected directly with writing stories. The book business is a cruel and impersonal place. Rejection has to be borne because it comes with the territory and until a writer is a commercial success they don’t rate. The realisation that it is a business can be a rude awakening. Not just a business; one steeped in subjectivity. It can be hard to accept that your book is rejected because ‘We have just signed a Scottish author’ or ‘We tried a Scottish author last year and got our fingers burned.’

And unbelievable but true: ‘This book has everything. I know I’m going to regret turning it down.’

Every author I know has a collection of horror tales about how casually their work has been dismissed – often without even being read. I will put my experiences of that on paper when I’m sufficiently detached from the memories. Rejection hurts. And you never get used to it. At least I didn’t. But I kept going.

Though on balance, it’s no contest: the pleasure outweighs the pain. Then there is the knowledge that the longer you do it, the better you become. I feel privileged to be able to entertain folk I’ve never met, and the fact that someone somewhere may be reading an Owen Mullen book at this minute is a unique feeling.

No wonder I love it.

***

Many thanks Owen for such a personal post.  I must say, you are truly committed to your art; writing for five hours a day, five days a week.  Wow!  As for the rejection, that is exactly why I’ve never tried to write my own novel, I just couldn’t take the rejection.  That and the fact that it would be no good!

Games People Play by Owen Mullen was published in the UK by Bloodhound Books on 16th January 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | Bloodhound Books |

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14949607When he was ten, Owen Mullen won a short story competition and didn’t write anything else for almost forty years. In between he graduated from Strathclyde University with a Masters in Tourism and a degree in Marketing, moved to London and worked as a rock musician, session singer and songwriter, and had a hit record in Japan with a band he refuses to name; on occasion he still performs. He returned to Scotland to run a management consultancy and a marketing agency. He is an Arsenal supporter and a serious foodie. A gregarious recluse, he and his wife, Christine, split their time between Glasgow – where the Charlie Cameron books are set – and their villa in the Greek Islands.

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Dark Minds @Bloodhoundbook #charity #crimefiction

51ynfbovm4l-_sx347_bo1204203200_“Bloodhound Books presents Dark Minds – a collection of stories by authors who have come together to produce an anthology that will lure, tantalise and shock its readers.

From master authors such as Lisa Hall, Steven Dunne, Louise Jensen and Anita Waller, as well as less familiar writers, readers can expect a one hell of a ride…

What took place By the Water?

What goes on behind A Stranger’s Eyes?

And what is so special about Slow Roast Pork?

You think you know darkness? Think again.

All net proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to Hospice UK and Sophie’s Appeal.”

The warmest of welcomes to my stop on the Dark Minds blog tour which I share with my regular blog tour buddy, the gorgeous Emma the Little Book Worm.  Once you’ve finished here at damppebbles, make sure you pop over to Emma’s blog.

Well I take my hat off to the folk at Bloodhound Books.  What an achievement!  For those who haven’t heard of Dark Minds, let me explain.

Bloodhound Books are one of my favourite crime publishers and over the last year they’ve gone from strength to strength.  2016 has seen some fantastic signings and new releases from the Bloodhound kennel (my favourite being The Optician’s Wife which will remain in my ‘favourite books of all time’ list for, well, ever!)  Bloodhound decided they wanted to produce a crime anthology where all net proceeds go to charity.  What they needed though was the input of generous, selfless authors to put pen to paper (or fingers to keys!) and write some blisteringly good dark stories for inclusion in the book.  Surely it would be a struggle to get authors on board, particularly as there was no personal gain to the authors involved.  They needn’t of worried.  Within the covers of this book you will find 41 brilliantly crafted dark stories by 41 talented writers.  Some names you’ll recognise, some not so much (at this point I would like to say to 17 year old Jenna-Leigh Golding who has a story in the anthology; keep on writing, I think you have a bright future ahead of you!).  There really is something for everyone; a short story collection that caters to all crimey tastes. And if that doesn’t get your attention then the eBook is a mere £1.99 in the Kindle store at the moment!  If you love crime, Dark Minds is a must-buy.

I had wanted to review each story individually but it’s nearly Christmas and I’m sure you all have things to do.  So instead I will explain why I loved this book.  First off, this year has been an exceptional booky year for me and other devoted crime readers.  I’ve read some astoundingly good books such as The Sister and The Gift by Louise Jensen, Valentina by S.E. Lynes, The Optician’s Wife and Frailty by Betsy Reavley, In the Shadows by Tara Lyons and Death do us Part by Steven Dunne to name a few.  All of the aforementioned authors have written a story for Dark Minds.  It was such an enjoyable experience to read more from these writers and in this restricted format.  How would they adapt their style to fit, would the characters still have the same believability, would I still enjoy their stories?  The answer to that last question is a big fat YES!

Then we come to the fact that I am a crime fiction blogger who is yet to read some very prominent author’s work.  There were names on the contents page that leapt out at me.  Authors who I have been wanting to read for some time but haven’t managed to squeeze in (as yet!).  Authors such as Lisa Hall, Jim Ody, L.J. Ross, Lucy V. Hay and Paul D. Brazill to name a few (in all honesty, there were quite a few names which I ooh’ed and ahh’ed over!).  It was an exciting prospect which delivered again and again.

And finally we come to the stories where I NEED to read more by these authors.  Their short story has drawn me in and I’m adding them to my ‘authors to watch’ list.  The book opens with a blisteringly good piece from B.A. Morton.  DS Fuller and DC Harte felt like fully established characters to me and I would love to read more.  A Christmas Killing by Richard T Burke is immediately intriguing and very compelling reading.  I thoroughly enjoyed Sticky Fingers by J.T. Lawrence; reading about Nicolette antics and her heartbreaking conclusion.  Pop Dead – The Pension Papers by Pete Adams made me laugh out loud.  And Jane E. James’ take on a writer’s retreat gave me goosebumps.  Thanks to Dark Minds I’ve added so many new authors to my favourites list.

Would I recommend this book?  If you’re a crime fiction fan then you’d be silly not to buy a copy.  Not only do you have 41 brilliant stories to dip into as and when needed but you’re supporting two brilliant charities at the same time.  It’s a win-win situation.  I firmly believe there is something for everyone in this book.  Outstanding reading!

Five out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an ARC of Dark Minds but I will be purchasing my own copy.

Dark Minds was published in the UK by Bloodhound Books on 13th December 2016 and is available in paperback and eBook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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About the charities…

img_1066Hospice UK are the national charity for hospice care, supporting over 200 hospices in the UK. They believe that everyone matters throughout their life right up until they die, and that no one should die in avoidable pain or suffering.

https://www.hospiceuk.org/

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The aims of Sophie’s Appeal To support the social, emotional and educational welfare of children, their families, nursing and support staff and provide a caring and supporting environment in both local hospitals and in the community. There are so many ways in which the Trust can provide support to parents, carers and schools who find themselves suddenly faced with the reality of cancer.

Treatment to provide additional resources to meet the specific needs of cancer care. The Trust aims to work with two Hampshire hospitals and monies raised can meet their treatment requests. Research Without research…without hope! This is why it is vital to support research and development into treatments and cures for childhood diseases Sophie’s Appeal is funding a research project at the University College London into Wilm’s Disease, a rare childhood cancer.

http://www.sophiesappeal.org/sophie

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Frailty by Betsy Reavley (@BetsyReavley) @BloodhoundBook

51uuj5m9qcl-_sx358_bo1204203200_How far would you go to protect your family?

Danny and Libby are about to face every parent’s worst nightmare.

When eight-year-old Hope Bird disappears without a trace, from the idyllic village where she lives, life for her family will never be the same again. Her parents know she would never have gone off alone and the police have no idea where she is. Then a child’s shoe is discovered and the case takes an unexpected turn. Soon a suspect is identified but this is only the beginning.

Will they ever find Hope?”

I am absolutely delighted to welcome you to my stop on Betsy Reavley’s Frailty blog tour.  I was thrilled to be one of the first readers to experience Betsy’s phenomenal last book, The Optician’s Wife in it’s early days.  You can read my review of TOW by clicking here.  Easily one of my books of the year!  Like The Optician’s Wife, Frailty is a standalone psychological thriller and the fifth novel from the pen of Ms Reavley.  I am over the moon to have both Carrion and The Quiet Ones on the #terrifyingTBR which I can’t wait to read as I am such a fan of Betsy’s writing (Frailty has only increased my level of ‘fangirling’).

The Bird family are your average, everyday, normal family.  That is until 8 year old Hope is kidnapped on her way back from the shops one summer’s day.  Her parents, Libby and Danny, are devastated, their lives turned upside down and younger sister, Gracie is left heartbroken and confused.  There are no ransom demands, no clues, nothing for the police to investigate.  That is until one of Hope’s shoes turns up in a bin.  The shoe leads the police to a suspect, someone they’ve had on their radar but no concrete evidence to go on before now.  But is he Hope’s kidnapper?  Danny certainly thinks so and he’ll do whatever it takes to protect his family and get his daughter home…

Betsy Reavley says in the acknowledgements of Frailty that it was the hardest book to write.  I can understand what she means.  As a mother of two, this for me was a difficult book to read.  The subject matter is a tough one.  You can’t help but think, no matter how fleetingly, how you would feel if it was your child that had gone missing.  It’s heartbreaking stuff, particularly as every so often you reach a chapter written from Hope’s point of view.  It will pull on your heartstrings and turn you to mush!  You have been warned.

I found it hard to warm to Danny but I liked and could easily relate to Libby.  Libby and Danny’s search for their daughter was a difficult read and I felt a little bogged down by the emotionally intense chapters.  Had the book only been about their search for Hope then I’m not sure I would have made it to the end.  But I knew with Betsy Reavley at the helm, there would be an almighty twist coming.  And there was!

The last half of this book made it for me.  The decision Danny makes, the completely unexpected outcome….absolutely brilliant.  The book picked up a great pace and I was completely absorbed.  I will say, however, by the time I was two thirds through, I had worked out who had taken Hope (I’m putting this down to my overly suspicious nature and the fact that I live and breathe crime novels; Frailty is not an obvious story and the reveal is quite astounding).

Would I recommend this book?  I would but prepare yourself for a tough read.  My heart ached for Hope. But I felt particularly sad and sorry for her sister Gracie, who seemed to be pushed to one side throughout (I have a Gracie myself, that may be the reason!).  Great twists and I loved the way the story built to that massive ‘Reavley twist’.  Looking forward to reading more from this author soon.

Four out of five stars.

Frailty by Betsy Reavley was published in the UK by Bloodhound Books on 15th November 2016 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | Bloodhound Books |

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Smith & Sons (11)

7730760Author of  The Quiet Ones, The Optician’s WifeCarrionBeneath the Watery Moon and the poetry collection The Worm in the Bottle. Betsy was born in Hammersmith, London.

As a child she moved around frequently with her family, spending time in London, Provence, Tuscany, Gloucestershire and Cambridgeshire.

She showed a flair for literature and writing from a young age and had a particular interest in poetry, of which she was a prolific consumer and producer.

In her early twenties she moved to Oxford, where she would eventually meet her husband. During her time in Oxford her interests turned from poetry to novels and she began to develop her own unique style of psychological thriller.

Betsy says “I believe people are at their most fascinating when they are faced by the dark side of life. This is what I like to write about.”

Betsy Reavley currently lives in London, with her husband, 2 children, dog, cat and chickens.

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Website |

#BlogTour | #GuestPost: Lazy Blood by Ross Greenwood (@greenwoodross) @Bloodhoundbook

519ztcao6ol“Did you make friends at school?
Are they still your friends now?
Do you trust them?
Will is on his way to prison. His life is a mess, but who is to blame?

Set over thirty years, Lazy Blood is a dramatic tale of the endurance of friendship, the frailty of life, the drama of love and how they can all be ruined by broken people, random events and idle choices.”

‘THIS BOOK WILL BLOW YOU AWAY.’ – White Books

‘FUNNY, SHOCKING, SAD.’ – Reader’s Select

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to my stop on the Lazy Blood blog tour.  I have a fascinating guest post from debut author Ross Greenwood to share with you (I do love a guest post!) so without further ado I will hand over to Ross…

People in Prison

I began my book over five years ago and felt I had a good idea; it just lacked a little drama. With the birth of my children I placed it in a drawer where it gathered dust. I took a job as a Prison Officer in our local jail to pay the bills and ideas abounded. Eventually I had to finish it.

One of the main things that surprised me about prison life was it wasn’t what I expected. I thought it would be a cross between Bad Girls, Screwed and Porridge, but the truth was different. I believed the prisoners would all be criminals and getting what they deserved, but as with many things in life, the lines are blurred.

Obviously there were career criminals, but the majority were normal people who had done crazy, stupid or impulsive things. What I quickly realised was that being sent to prison was something that could happen to anyone. We all have our ups and downs and make mistakes, or do things we later regret. Sometimes they can have far-reaching consequences.

Dangerous drivers are easily sent to prison as a car accident is such a violent incident. For example, people texting and looking up to see they had lost control and hit someone else. Clearly stupid, but that person wasn’t a criminal before that moment, and suddenly they have ruined someone’s life. They need to be punished and being sent to prison is appropriate, but it can ruin their lives too. Jobs will be lost, mortgage payments missed, children will be bereft as well as the stigma from friends and family. The ripple effect can be breathtaking.

Drink was often a factor. A fight that got out of hand and the person pushed, falling over, banging their head and dying was a story I heard numerous times. One minute you are ticking along, the next you could be staring at ten years.

The other side of the coin is those who never stood a chance. Some had parents who were dealers or burglars and they got involved in the family business. They never knew a sense of right and wrong. Are they criminals and victims? Others got hooked on drugs and the need to satisfy those urges overwhelmed any reasonable part of their personality.

Finally, there are the innocent. Surprisingly few protested at being victims of the legal system. However, even though we probably have the most transparent and respected legal system in the world, it would be extremely naïve to believe it is infallible.

Prison is an unnatural place and, despite what the papers would have you believe, is far from cushy. For every one of us the act of being locked up and having our freedom taken away is one of the worst things that can be done to us. There is a sense of waste and life ticking by without you. The choices we take for granted are removed.

I wanted to include some of these themes in my book, told with an insight that many will hopefully never experience.

I also wanted to make people laugh at the vagaries of life and tell a tale of people dealing with what life throws at us, both good and bad. The message through the book is the people we choose to be friends with at school often follow us through life. Over the years the places we are born and where our families live will often pull at us. It is often where we are most comfortable. Familiar roads, welcome memories and friendly faces all aid our well-being. Coming home can be peaceful and give an opportunity to re-build and heal. It can also destroy us.

I hope you enjoy Lazy Blood.

***

Thank you very much for this interesting piece, Ross.  It’s as close as I hope to get to the inside and workings of a prison, I have to say!

I am delighted to have a review copy of Lazy Blood on the #terrifyingTBR so look out for a review on damppebbles in the near future.

Lazy Blood by Ross Greenwood was published in the UK by Bloodhound Books on 4th September 2016 and is available in eBook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads | Bloodhound Books |

Smith & Sons (11)

unnamedI was born in 1973 in Peterborough and lived there until I was 20, attending The King’s School in the city. I then began a rather nomadic existence, living and working all over the country and various parts of the world.

I found myself returning to Peterborough many times over the years, usually when things had gone wrong. It was on one of these occasions that I met my partner about 100 metres from my back door whilst walking a dog. Two children swiftly followed. I’m still a little stunned by the pace of it now. It did make me want to set my novel in Peterborough though.

This book was started a long time ago but parenthood and then four years as a HMP Peterborough prison officer got in the way. Ironically it was the four a.m. feed which gave me the opportunity to finish the book as unable to get back to sleep I completed it in the early morning hours.  Connect with Ross via Twitter @greenwoodross or his website.

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*Blog Tour: Guest Post* Unquiet Souls by Liz Mistry (@LizCrimeWarp)

Liz Mistry Unquiet Souls.jpg“What is the link between the abduction of a little girl and a dead prostitute?

When the body of a prostitute is discovered DI Gus McGuire is handed the case. But what first appears to be a simple murder soon turns into an international manhunt for the members of a twisted child trafficking ring.

McGuire who is suffering with problems of his own, he must pick his way through the web of deceit and uncover the truth in time before the body count rises.

Can McGuire identify The Matchmaker before it’s too late? And can he trust those he is working with?

Unquiet Souls is the first book in a dark and compelling new police series.”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the Unquiet Souls blog tour.  I am so excited about this book and I can’t wait to read it.  This is Liz’s debut novel and the first in a new series featuring DI Gus McGuire (the first…I’m starting at the beginning for once!).

Without further ado, here is Liz’s guest post explaining why she loves reading and writing crime fiction:

Why Crime Fiction does it for me

I write gritty crime fiction and I love it!  My debut novel Unquiet Souls is the first in a series of police procedurals set in Bradford featuring DI Gus McGuire and I loved writing it.  I loved getting into the mind of the villains and trying to suss out what made them tick.  I also loved working out how my hero would eventually ‘put the world to rights’ and, for me, crime fiction ticks all the boxes, both as a crime writer, and as a reader.

Crime fiction is the largest selling genre for many reasons.  It takes us to a world where the ‘goodie’ usually triumphs over the ‘baddie’.  It allows us to explore the darkest aspects of humanity from the safety of our sofas and it stimulates our ‘sleuthing’ skills. It provides the same satisfaction that playing Cops and Robbers, Cowboys and Indians or British Bulldogs did in our childhood.  It allows us, through the pages of a book, to bring some of the evil that exists in the world into our own home, take charge and make some sort of sense of it, secure in the knowledge that most of the time the baddie will get his or her comeuppance.

For me crime fiction, in all its many guises, is an exploration of the things we see as being wrong in the world and our attempt as crime fiction writers to highlight them and express our shock in them.   Whether you’re a cosy crime fan or a gritty thriller lover you can always, on the shelves of a good book shop, find something for you.  The increase in sub-genres under the crime fiction umbrella is a constant source of joy to me.  I can pluck a JD Robb off my shelf and be transported to New York of the future where interplanetary movement is routine.  Or, I can grab a gritty police procedural by Caroline Mitchell and find myself thrilled with paranormal activity.  Or, if I’m feeling a bit romantic there’s Beverley Barton or Mary Burton at hand to dart a Cupid’s arrow in my direction.  This means that crime fiction as a genre never goes stale – there are always surprises, always new places to visit whether it’s Vaseem Khan’s, Mumbai, Martin Holmen’s, Stockholm or Deon Meyer’s South Africa.

Read, or write crime fiction and you travel the world, experiencing good and bad, love and hatred, joy and sadness, highs and lows, and you do it arm in arm with the best and the worst of humanity.  Mmmm!  Just my cup of tea!

An absolutely BRILLIANT post Liz, thank you.  I’m a hardcore crime fiction fan and I’m often asked why I love the genre so much.  For me, you have hit the nail on the head and in future I’ll just point the asker to this post. THIS is why I love crime fiction!  BRILLIANT!

Unquiet Souls by Liz Mistry was published in the UK by Bloodhound Books on 30th July 2016 and is available in eBook format.

Smith & Sons (11)

lizLiz Mistry was born in West Calder, Scotland and educated at Stirling University before moving to Bradford for her PGCE, where she settled with her husband, Nilesh, her three children, Ravi, Kasi and Jimi and her two cats.  Liz taught in Inner city Bradford schools for many years.  Suffering from depression for many years, Liz used her writing to help her through the darkest times.  She is currently part-way through an MA in Creative Writing from Leeds Trinity University, which she acknowledges as being instrumental in developing her confidence as a writer.  Liz is co-founder and main contributor to The Crime Warp Blog (http://thecrimewarp.blogspot.co.uk/)