#BlogTour | #GuestPost: Dead Embers by Matt Brolly (@MatthewBrolly) @canelo_co

“An explosive fire. A double murder. And that’s just the start

When DCI Michael Lambert is called out to an apparent house fire, he knows it can’t be routine. Instead he finds the remains of a burnt house, a traumatised child and two corpses – one of whom is a senior police officer.

Lambert’s got other problems. Anti-corruption are onto his boss. His relationships is on the rocks. He can’t get over his ex-wife and he keeps blacking out.

But when a detective has been murdered the stakes are too high to get distracted. All is not as it seems. As the investigation continues Lambert realises he is getting drawn into something altogether bigger and more terrifying than he could ever have imagined…

Trust no one.”

I am delighted to be one of two blogs hosting the Dead Embers blog tour today.  Dead Embers is written by author Matt Brolly and is the third book in the DCI Michael Lambert series.  I haven’t had the chance to read Matt’s books yet but I do have book one in the DCI Lambert series, Dead Eyed on my #terrifyingTBR.  So watch this space for a review!

To celebrate the release of Dead Embers I have a rather brilliant guest post from Matt to share with you today.  Over to Matt..

How to Write to a Deadline.

‘I love deadlines. I like the whooshing noise they make as they go by.’ Douglas Adams.

First of all, a big thank you to Emma from the wonderful damppebbles book blog for hosting me today on day two of the Dead Embers tour. With every release I’m continually amazed and humbled by the terrific response from bloggers and readers and it is hugely appreciated. Now to the matter at end, how to write to a deadline. First a cup of coffee….

Okay, I’m back! Some writers are rather good at procrastination. I’m seventy-eight words into this article already and I’m yet to address the question. How to write to a deadline? Hmmm. Tricky. More coffee, I think.

The simple answer would be to plan months ahead. To make mini deadlines for the first draft, second draft, twentieth draft, structural edits, line edits, proofread etc… but unfortunately a writer’s life is not so simple. It’s easy to say I’m going to write 2,000 words a day over a fifty-day period – I know it is because I say it to myself every time I start a new novel, yet fifty days later I’m rarely more than a quarter way through a first draft. Try as I might, life gets in the way. As does the complications of writing a novel.  Plan as I might, a novel has a way of taking its own direction. I find I have to rewrite the draft plan every two or three chapters, and the finished book is never as I initially envisaged.

And did I mention the procrastination? It is so easy to do anything but write. Make coffee, surf the internet (for research, obviously), tidy the house (though my wife would argue there is not much evidence for this), sleep. Working alone means there is no boss watching you’re every move. You have to be disciplined, manage your time, make sure you hit those word count deadlines every day… but there is a big television downstairs with a film you recorded last night waiting for you…

Good film.

I’m not complaining, you understand. It is a privilege to be a writer. It’s hard work, but then all jobs are. Citing procrastination is cop-out, obviously. It’s a hurdle you have to overcome. My advice: if Facebook or Twitter keeps calling, switch off the internet. If the television, or your bed, is too much of a lure, work in a library or coffee shop. If you’re deadline is fast approaching – work harder!

As I write the last words of this article (which needs to be sent over to Emma by yesterday) I have to admit there is no hard or fast rules for writing to a deadline. All I can say is that after writing for nearly twenty years with no deadline in sight, having a deadline is the greatest thing I’ve ever experienced in my writing life. And if my publishers (past or present) or agent is reading this, then I apologise for every time (only a handful, I’m sure) I’ve asked for a tiny extension!

***

Absolutely love it, thank you Matt.  And it’s true, it was a close call with the delivery of this post.  No harm done though.  It’s up and on the blog at exactly the right time.  All deadlines met!

Dead Embers by Matt Brolly was published in the UK by Canelo on 6th March 2017 and is available in eBook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

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Following his law degree where he developed an interest in criminal law, Matt completed his Masters in Creative Writing at Glasgow University. He reads widely across all genres, and is currently working on the third in his Michael Lambert thriller series. Matt lives in London with his wife and their two young children.

Author Links:Website | Twitter | Facebook |

 

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#BlogTour | #BookReview: City of Drowned Souls by Chris Lloyd (@chrislloydbcn) @canelo_co

Welcome to my stop on the City of Drowned Souls blog tour.  City of Drowned Souls is the third book in the Elisenda Domènech Investigates series and is written by author, Chris Lloyd. I have read and thoroughly enjoyed book one in the series, City of Good Death.  To celebrate the release of City of Drowned Souls I am thrilled to republish my review, along with a spotlight on book two, City of Buried Ghosts and book three, City of Drowned Souls.

Here are my thoughts on City of Good Death which I originally published in April 2016:

610MGIbNfML._SX373_BO1,204,203,200_“A serial killer is targeting hate figures in the Catalan city of Girona – a loan shark, a corrupt priest, four thugs – leaving grisly clues about his next victim. Each corpse is posed in a way whose meaning no one can fathom.

Elisenda Domènech, the solitary and haunted head of the city’s newly-formed Serious Crime Unit, is determined to do all she can to stop the attacks. She believes the attacker is drawing on the city’s legends to choose his targets, but her colleagues aren’t convinced.

Battling against the increasing sympathy towards the killer displayed by the press, the public and even some of the police, she finds herself questioning her own values. But when the attacks start to include less deserving victims, the pressure is suddenly on Elisenda to stop the killer at all costs.

The question is: how?”

I found this crime debut a thoroughly enjoyable and interesting read.  When you finish a book and feel like you’ve been on holiday, well, surely that’s a very good thing indeed.

There is a murderer on the loose in Girona.  The killer is using Girona’s rich history of myths and legends to rid the city of its most despised residents; a loan shark, a corrupt priest, a group of thugs.  Sotsinspectora Elisenda Domènech and the new Serious Crime Unit are tasked with catching the killer.  Then the killer turns their attention to less deserving victims….

You know how much I appreciate a strong-willed female detective and Elisenda is a new favourite of mine.  She’s gutsy and smart.  Seemingly the only female detective in Girona so there’s a need for that determination.  Especially as some of her male colleagues don’t think she can hack it.

There are some great twists in this book.  The reveal of the killer had my heart pounding. The big question is, did I see ‘whodunnit’?  Was my guess right?  Well…..yes, sort of and sort of not at the same time.  And that’s all I’m going to say about that!

You can tell that Chris Lloyd has spent time in Girona. His written representation of the city made me feel like I know the city having never actually visited; a real skill.  I hope there will be more to come from Sotsinspectora Domènech.

Four out of five stars.

So there we have it.  City of Good Death is one of the few books I can remember exactly where I was and what was happening whilst I read it (we were having the living room in our old house painted and I was hiding in the kitchen and staying out of the decorators way, if anyone is interested.  No….thought not!)

Here’s all you need to know about City of Buried Ghosts:

City of Buried Ghosts.jpgBe careful what you dig up… 

Still recovering from the tragedy that hit her team, Elisenda takes on a new case. Except it’s not new. On an archaeological dig by the coast a body is uncovered, seemingly executed with a spike thrust through the base of the skull – an ancient tribal ritual. It soon becomes clear that this body is neither ancient nor modern, but a mysterious corpse from the 1980s.

Assigned to the case along with her team, Elisenda soon uncovers a complex world of star archaeologists, jealousy and missing persons. They find a dark trade in illicit antiquities, riddled with vicious professional rivalries. And even though she’s staying close to the crime scene, Elisenda is also never far from enemies of her own within the police force.

Just as the case seems to become clear it is blown wide-open by another horrific murder. Elisenda must fight her personal demons and office politics, whilst continuing to uncover plots and hatreds that were long buried. How far will she go to solve the crime? Is her place in the force secure? And can she rebuild her life?

The atmospheric second crime thriller featuring Catalan detective Elisenda Domènech, for readers of Val McDermid and Ann Cleeves

 Information about the Book
Title: City of Buried Ghosts (Elisenda Domènech Investigations #2)
Author: Chris Lloyd
Release Date: 30th May 2016
Genre: Crime Thriller
Publisher: Canelo
Format: ebook
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30288458-city-of-buried-ghosts
Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Buried-Ghosts-Inspector-Domènech-Thriller-ebook/dp/B01FDKKTBG

And now for the latest book in the series, City of Drowned Souls:

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When a child disappears, the clock starts ticking
Detective Elisenda Domènech has had a tough few years. The loss of her daughter and a team member; the constant battles against colleagues and judges; the harrowing murder investigations… But it’s about to get much worse.

When the son of a controversial local politician goes missing at election time, Elisenda is put on the case. They simply must solve it. Only the team also have to deal with a spate of horrifically violent break-ins. People are being brutalised in their own homes and the public demands answers.

Could there be a connection? Why is nobody giving a straight answer? And where is Elisenda’s key informant, apparently vanished off the face of the earth? With the body count threatening to increase and her place in the force on the line, the waters are rising…

Be careful not to drown.

The stunning new instalment of the gripping Elisenda Domènech crime thrillers for readers of Ian Rankin, Henning Mankell and Andrea Camilleri.

 Information about the Book
Title: City of Drowned Souls (Elisenda Domènech Investigations #3)
Author: Chris Lloyd
Release Date: 6th February 2017
Genre: Crime Thriller
Publisher: Canelo
Format: ebook
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34106761-city-of-drowned-souls
Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01N7Y2NDN

I have City of Buried Ghosts on the TBR which I can’t wait to read.  City of Good Death has very much stayed with over the last year and writing this post has reminded me exactly how fond of it I am.

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Chris was born in an ambulance racing through a town he’s only returned to once and that’s probably what did it. Soon after that, when he was about two months old, he moved with his family to West Africa, which pretty much sealed his expectation that life was one big exotic setting. He later studied Spanish and French at university, and straight after graduating, he hopped on a bus from Cardiff to Catalonia where he stayed for the next twenty-four years, falling in love with the people, the country, the language and Barcelona Football Club, probably in that order. Besides Catalonia, he’s also lived in Grenoble, the Basque Country and Madrid, teaching English, travel writing for Rough Guides and translating. He now lives in South Wales, where he works as a writer and a Catalan and Spanish translator, returning to Catalonia as often as he can.

He writes the Elisenda Domènech series, featuring a police officer with the newly-devolved Catalan police force in the beautiful city of Girona. The third book in the series, City of Drowned Souls, is published on 6 February 2017.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter |

*Blog Tour: Guest Post* Ghost Target by Will Jordan (@WillJordan83)

Ghost Target crop small“From Marseille to Islamabad at breakneck pace… it’s kill or be killed for Ryan Drake and his team

Ryan Drake, once a decorated field operative, is now wanted for treason. On the run from the CIA’s corrupt Deputy Director Marcus Cain, he has spent the past six months in a remote French safehouse. Drake’s former life seems to be behind him, but the uneasy peace is shattered when Cain moves against him with startling force.

Meanwhile, the war in Afghanistan is faltering in the wake of a devastating suicide attack. Cain though has a plan to find and destroy al-Qaeda’s top commanders. And nobody will stand in his way.

Backed into a corner, Drake turns to the deadly but unpredictable Anya – once Cain’s most promising agent, now his most bitter enemy. With tensions running high and their uneasy alliance threatening to tear itself apart, Drake’s hastily assembled team travels to Pakistan to intercept Cain.

With the fate of the War on Terror hanging in the balance, loyalties are tested and scores settled, as Drake embarks on the fight of his life. Only one side will survive…

From the bestselling author of Black List and Deception Game, Ghost Target is the sixth Ryan Drake thriller, and an incredible tale of deception, desperation, and ultimate betrayal.”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the Ghost Target blog tour.  Ghost Target, written by Will Jordan, is book six in the Ryan Drake series of novels and was published by Canelo last month (July 2016).  I haven’t come across Will’s main protagonist, Ryan Drake, before but I’m thrilled to have a copy of Ghost Target on my mountainous TBR so look out for a review in the near future.

Will has very kindly written a guest post for us today.  So, without further ado, I will hand you to over to Will:

Writing an ‘Espionage Epic’

I was on my Goodreads author page a couple of months ago, answering a reader’s question about my Ryan Drake series, when something rather interesting happened. He made an astute and, to me, quite startling observation:

“It helps that you’ve constructed what could be called an “espionage epic” of sorts, only instead of Gods and legendary warriors, you’ve got spies, killers and large intelligence services “

I’d never quite thought about it in those terms before, but the more I mulled over that comment the more sense it made. I had, in effect, taken an epic fantasy series structure and transported it into the present day thriller genre.

So how (and why) on earth did I end up doing such a thing? Well, even though I’d committed to writing a series of thrillers about covert operations, conspiracies and hidden conflicts, there were certain things that had come to bug me about this genre – the biggest of which was the reset button effect, where characters basically don’t change from book to book. Their experiences – good and bad – don’t affect them in a meaningful way. They just continue as they always have, bounding from one adventure to another.

This wasn’t for me at all, because it’s not how real people act. Real people are constantly changing and developing, growing and learning from the things they’ve seen and done. Traumatic experiences often leave deep marks that go far deeper than physical scars, while important lessons can inform the way they respond to future situations.

In short, I wanted a series based around real people.

A human hero
One of the things many reviewers have picked up about my main character Ryan Drake is that he’s surprisingly human and vulnerable compared to many heroes in the genre. He doesn’t have the brute strength and unflinching machismo of Jack Reacher, the fearless bravado of Dirk Pitt, the deadly skills of Jason Bourne. He can make mistakes, he can be misled, he doesn’t always have all the answers or know how to prevail in every situation.

Why did I make him this way? Because I knew his development as a character was going to unfold gradually over a series of many books. If I made him near perfect right from the start, where did I have left to take him? How could he change and grow and improve?

No, I wanted to take a different approach with my protagonist. In fact, I wanted to do the same with all of my recurring characters. Why? Because for me, that’s the joy of writing a series – depicting not just the action, but the effects of that action on those involved.

A tiny example is that during my first novel Redemption, Drake is disarmed and threatened by another series regular Anya (an older and more experienced operative). On the face of it, this seems to be nothing more than a brief, violent encounter between these two characters. However, two books later Drake is able to use exactly the same technique to overpower an opponent who’s got the drop on him. He’s learned from his experience, and is able to put those lessons to good use, gradually becoming stronger and more capable as a result.

By the time of Ghost Target, my sixth book, Drake has become tougher, more jaded and cynical than ever before. He’s more of a threat to his enemies than he’s ever been, but his experiences have left him questioning what he’s actually fighting for, what he and his companions have risked and sacrificed so much to achieve. It isn’t until the war comes very suddenly and violently back into his life that he realises there can be no walking away from the life he’s chosen.

Getting the balance right
“As someone who despairs at the fact the complex ‘serialized arc’ format is under attack by readers, I commend you for being an author not afraid to have a grander vision than just making stand-alone closed loop plots for your novels, and instead, make a sweeping tale with a unifying arc.”

The quote above pretty much sums up my entire thoughts on the Ryan Drake series.

For me, any story has to constantly feel like it’s building towards something. This applies both to individual novels, and also to the series they’re part of. Every book is a stepping stone on the path to the ultimate end of the series, the pieces of a larger puzzle coming together. Not only is there an overarching storyline to my books, but a complex backstory involving most of the major characters whose details are gradually expanded and fleshed out. Again, it’s important for me to show that every character isn’t just influenced by events in the present, but also that they have a life and a history all of their own.

Of course these books need to be able to stand on their own merits, to tell their own stories, and I always try to include enough background to put their events into context for first-time readers, but I believe the Ryan Drake series is a far more rewarding experience for those able to enjoy it in its entirety.

And when it’s finally over, well, I hope I can look back on it as something truly unique.

***

Thank you, Will. You’ve made me look forward to reading Ghost Target even more thanks to this fascinating post.  I may also need to add the first five Ryan Drake books to my wish list (just don’t tell my other half!).

Ghost Target by Will Jordan was published in the UK by Canelo on 4th July 2016 and is available in eBook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

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unnamedWill Jordan is a British thriller writer, born in Fife, Scotland in 1983. His works to date include:

Redemption (Ryan Drake 1) – 2012
Sacrifice (Ryan Drake 2) – 2013
Betrayal (Ryan Drake 3) – 2014
Black List (Ryan Drake 4) – 2015
Deception Game (Ryan Drake 5) – 2015

After graduating high school he moved on to university, gaining an Honors Degree in Information Technology. To support himself during his degree he worked a number of part time jobs, one of which was as an extra in television and feature films. Cast in several action/war movies, he was put through military boot camp and weapons training in preparation.

Having always enjoyed writing, he used this experience as the basis for his first thriller, REDEMPTION. He was able to supplement this with visits to weapon ranges in America and Eastern Europe, as well as research trips to Washington DC, London and New York.

For his second thriller SACRIFICE, he was able to interview members of the British armed forces who had served tours in Afghanistan. His fifth novel in the Ryan Drake series, DECEPTION GAME, was released in November 2015.

He lives in Fife with his wife and two sons.

For more information on Will and the Ryan Drake series, go to www.willjordanbooks.com or follow him on Twitter at @WillJordan83

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