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An update on my trip! I've been travelling as a nomadic novelist for just over three months now, and I'm having a blast! Over the last five days I've been exploring the wonders of Utah; as I write this I'm in Moab, close to Arches National Park, where I spent most of yesterday. Today saw me jet-boating on the Colorado River, which was an incredible experience! The Utah scenery is spectacular; the picture features Bryce Canyon, one of the most beautiful places I've ever visited. Before long I'll be in Mexico as my trip takes me ever southward from my starting point in Canada.

So how does this fit in with my writing? Well, I'm finding it far easier to combine creating novels with travelling than I imagined. July saw me finish the first draft of my sixth novel, complete the edits for Sister, Psychopath, and celebrate the publication of The Second Captive by Bloodhound Books. It was a landmark month in many ways! I'm learning to write wherever I can, whenever I can, and making the time to do so. Next week should be easier travel-wise, so I'll get going on the second draft of my next novel. The book will be my primary focus for the next few months, no matter what happens on the travel front. 

It helps that I'm a planner by nature; I schedule my work week by week, month by month and quarter by quarter, and adapt it to where I think I'll be during those times. For instance, I knew I wouldn't have much opportunity to write while exploring Utah, so I updated my business finances instead. Once an accountant, always an accountant, perhaps!

Some things have suffered, of course. I don't spend as much time on social media these days, which is no bad thing! It's a small price to pay for the wonders of being able to travel and write full-time. One way or other I shall make it all work for me!
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Click the image!
I still feel very much like a newbie when it comes to writing, even though I've been a full-time novelist for two and a half years and I've published seven books. I remember wanting to write a novel but not knowing where to start. Part of my hesitation was down to not knowing any other novelists. If I'd had an example of success to inspire me, perhaps I'd have embarked on my writing adventure sooner. As it is, I'm always looking for ways to encourage would-be novelists.

That's why I've compiled a free book as a companion to Write Your Novel! From Getting Started to First Draft. This one is called Write Your Novel! Success Stories from Published Authors, and it's full of advice and inspiration. Contributors include British best-selling horror and thriller writer Iain Rob Wright and American novelist Robert Bidinotto. Read the stories in the book, absorb the wise words contained therein, and I hope you'll be inspired to continue your writing journey.

The book is only available from this website and is available in kindle (.mobi), ePub and PDF formats via this link or the image. As I mentioned above, it's free! Why not grab your copy now?
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I'm delighted to announce that today, July 4 2017, sees the republication by Bloodhound Books of my fourth novel, The Second Captive. The Second Captive is a story about emotional dependency and the human condition. Here's a taster:

Eighteen-year-old Beth Sutton is abducted and held prisoner in a basement. Dependent on her captor for everything, Beth slowly starts to build a relationship with the man responsible for her imprisonment. But her abductor is guilty of more than just kidnap, and she has the evidence to prove it. When she escapes from the basement Beth's toughest challenge will be dealing with her memories.

When she escapes from the basement Beth’s toughest challenge will be dealing with her memories.

Will Beth ever overcome her trauma? And what is the relationship between love and fear?

For a short while, The Second Captive is priced at just 99c/p. Click the image to buy from your local Amazon store.
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​Best-selling American novelist J D Barker has just released his latest book, a superb thriller called The Fourth Monkey. Here’s a taster of what to expect:

Brilliant. Complicated. Psychopath.

That’s the Four Monkey Killer or ‘4MK’. A murderer with a twisted vision and absolutely no mercy.

Detective Sam Porter has hunted him for five long years, the recipient of box after box of grisly trinkets carved from the bodies of 4MK’s victims.

But now Porter has learnt the killer’s twisted history and is racing to do the seemingly impossible – find 4MK’s latest victim before it’s too late…
 
Sounds great! So why is The Fourth Monkey such a good read? Let’s find out…
Novelist J D Barker
At the beginning of the book we’re introduced to Sam Porter, a Chicago homicide detective, described by his wife Heather as ‘a cop with anger issues’. The Fourth Monkey plunges into an intriguing start with the death in a road traffic accident of a suspected killer, identified from the small white box he was carrying. Several such boxes, all containing body parts, have been sent to relatives of the man’s other victims. This one contained a severed ear; the police don’t know to whom it belongs, but because 4MK doesn’t kill his victims straight away, they believe she is still alive. Several chapters are written from the latest’s victim’s point of view as she struggles to comprehend what has happened and to escape.

​What’s more, clues are found with the body that at first don’t mean anything: a dry cleaner’s receipt, a pocket watch and seventy-five cents in change. Other oddities exist, such as the man’s choice of expensive designer shoes coupled with a cheap suit. Oh, and the fact that a diary is also with the corpse; from it, we learn about the killer, from his early life onwards and what has shaped him the way he is, as he uses it to taunt the police.
​So what’s the significance of the Fourth Monkey, and why does the killer dub himself The Four Monkey Killer? It’s a reference to the adage ‘hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil’, characterised by the familiar picture of three monkeys. The fourth prohibition is, ‘do no evil’, and the killer targets relatives of those whom he judges to done evil but who have evaded justice.

Sharp characterisation, taut writing that ratchets up the pace, and a truly evil antagonist make The Fourth Monkey a great read. As the book progresses, we learn the significance of the random items found with the victim; even the seventy-five cents in loose change has significance and was planted by the killer. This all makes for great reading and an incredible build-up of tension. The book climbs to a sizzling finish and I highly recommend it.
Want to buy The Fourth Monkey? It's available in paper and kindle formats from Amazon via these links: Amazon US/Amazon UK

You can find out more about J D Barker and his books via the following links:
Website: www.jdbarker.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/therealjdbarker
Twitter: www.twitter.com/jdbarker
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Chateau Frontenac, in gorgeous Quebec City
Those who know me well are familiar with my wanderlust! I've been passionate about solo travel for decades now and I've been fortunate to have explored many wonderful countries. For a long time it's been my ambition to combine travel with writing and become, at least for a while, a nomadic novelist. All I need to work is a computer and a decent internet connection, so the idea seemed very achievable. In addition, there were several trips I longed to get under my belt, and most of them were west of the UK, in the Americas. Combined with the nagging feeling I was in somewhat of a rut in Bristol, and it wasn't a hard decision to arrange another overseas jaunt.

This time I liked the notion of travelling without a set return date. I bought a one-way ticket to Canada to enable me to fly to Toronto in April 2017, with some vague plans as to where to visit after French Canada, which I'd missed on my last trip to the country back in 1990. I've been travelling for six weeks now, and loving it! When I drafted this post, I was in Quebec City, staying in the heart of the historic Old Town, which is stunning (see the photo above). My aim is to spend a couple of months in Canada before crossing the border into the USA, where I have several friends I want to reconnect with.

My main fear before I set off was whether I'd be able to combine travelling and writing. Previous trips have usually been done as a fast pace, with lots of planes, trains and buses involved - hardly conducive to the quiet writing environment I prefer! I've posted before about how hard I found it to write the first draft of His Kidnapper's Shoes while travelling, and how I only completed the book by parking my butt in the gorgeous city of Sucre, in Bolivia, and not leaving until I'd finished. Hence my concern. How would I manage all the sight-seeing I'd want to do while writing my novels? As well as maintaining the rest of my business - marketing, finance, etc?
Beautiful Toronto, my destination last week!
It turns out I needn't have worried; if the past few weeks are a sound indicator, then I'll be fine. I'm maintaining a full work schedule and still getting to visit the sights I want to see. The evenings here in Ottawa, my current location, are light until about eight pm, so I've been working during the day and getting out and about in the evenings when it's cooler anyway. I've also been trying to arrange travel and sight-seeing whenever possible at the weekends. It's all working out well and I still have plenty of time left to practise yoga, read and socialise. It helps that I don't have a set itinerary; there's nowhere I need to be at any particular time. 

From what I understand, this way of working is becoming more common, with more and more people choosing to become digital nomads. and why not? If your work is internet-based, such as web design or life coaching, then you can earn money wherever you are in the world. You're not location-dependent for your income. It's immensely freeing and if, like me, you love travelling, it's the ideal solution. As I mentioned earlier, I'd become aware I was deep in a rut in Bristol, and needed to break out. It feels exactly right to be backpacking again, with everything I need in a couple of bags, moving from one wonderful place to another, doing as I please. To reflect that, I intend to change the focus of this blog; I'll still post book reviews, author interviews and other book-related topics, but I'll also post updates about my life as a nomadic novelist and how I'm making it work for me. Who knows, maybe I'll inspire some of my readers to become digital nomads! See you in Rio, perhaps!
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I'm delighted to announce that I have signed a publishing contract for Sister, Psychopath with Bloodhound Books! They will republish the novel on October 3, 2017. I will then have all my full-length fiction under publishing contracts. I believe my Bloodhound contracts will work well with my Lake Union one to cross-sell my books, and I'm very pleased about this latest development in my writing career.
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I'm proud and delighted to announce that my third novel, Guilty Innocence, has now been republished by Bloodhound Books, and it's sporting a great new cover. For a short while, the Kindle version is available in the US and UK for 99c/p. It's also available in paperback format. Click the image to be taken to your nearest Amazon store. A gritty novel examining child murder and dysfunctional families, Guilty Innocence tells of one man’s struggle to break free from his past. Here's a taster:

When Natalie snoops through her boyfriend Mark’s possessions she finds more than she bargained for. Mark was once convicted of a brutal killing. Heartbroken by what she has discovered, Natalie’s dreams of a future with him collapse.

However, Mark was not the only person sentenced for the murder of two-year-old Abby Morgan. His former friend, the violent and twisted Adam Campbell, was also convicted and Adam knows more about the murder than he will admit.

When circumstances thrust Mark back in contact with Adam, the past comes back to haunt him. Can Mark ever break free from Adam? Will the truth ever come out? 
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Today I'm delighted to be hosting Joy Ellis's new novel, Guide Star, on my blog as part of the blog tour for the book. Joy grew up in Kent but moved to London when she won an apprenticeship with the prestigious Mayfair flower shop, Constance Spry Ltd. 

Many years later, having run her own florist shop in Weybridge, Ellis took part in a writer’s workshop in Greece and was encouraged by her tutor, Sue Townsend to begin writing seriously. She now lives in the Lincolnshire Fens with her partner Jacqueline and their Springer spaniels, Woody and Alfie.
Here's a taster of Guide Star:
Who do you turn to when life goes wrong?

Stella’s life has changed forever. Her only support is her amazing grandmother, Beth. But Beth also faces the biggest challenge of her life.

Stella North, a rising star in the police, has her life torn apart by a gunman’s bullets. All her life she has faced danger, but these injuries mean she must give up the job she loves.  Her grandmother Beth is her rock. And Beth is no ordinary woman. At seventy, she runs marathons and has an exciting past that Stella knows very little about.

Will Stella find the strength to overcome the challenges of her new life, and will her grandmother at last resolve the deep emotional turmoil of her past?

By UK #1 best-selling author, Joy Ellis, this is a gripping and emotional departure from her acclaimed crime fiction.
And here's an excerpt:
Two drug-fuelled kids, a bungled robbery, and a gun. Stella had done what came naturally. She had protected those around her, and taken a bullet for her troubles. Two bullets, actually. Robbie smashed both his palms hard onto the steering wheel and let out a stifled cry. It wasn’t fair! She had been the most alive person he had ever met. He never tired of working with her, despite the teasing he received from some of his colleagues. Some of them had suggested that it would be a relief for him not to be working in her shadow, and that his career would progress further in a different crew. What rot! It had never been cold in her shadow. She needed him as much as he needed her. He had always seen himself as an important component in a well-oiled machine. Robbie turned the key in the ignition and slowly released the handbrake. Now he was just a spare part.
Sounds good?
Sounds good to you? UK readers, click on the link to the left to be taken to the Amazon page for Guide Star.

Available for just £0.99 in kindle format. The paperback version is also available for £7.99.

Rated 4.7 out of 5 stars and well worth a read!
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Today I'm delighted to welcome fellow Bloodhound Books novelist Tony Forder to my blog. Tony's latest crime novel, Bad to the Bone, has recently been published, so an interview seemed a good idea! OK, let's get started:

I’d like to know more about your latest novel, the first in a crime series featuring DI Bliss and DC Chandler, called Bad to the Bone. What can readers expect to encounter in its pages?

First of all, I'd like to thank you for inviting me to do this. This is my third author interview, but I don't think I will ever get used to it.  I hope my readers will encounter a deep mystery whose conclusion takes them by surprise.  More than that, I hope they are propelled along by and with the characters.  I got to know Bliss and Chandler very well during the many months I spent writing Bad to the Bone, and whilst Bliss certainly has his faults, both as a cop and as a human being, I like to think of him as a decent bloke doing a decent job well.  There is murder and corruption within the pages, there is conflict, no small measure of intrigue, as well as some dark and sinister deeds.

What about your psychological crime thriller, Degrees of Darkness, due out later this year?

Degrees is a whole different ball game altogether.  It's about this ex-detective, Frank Rogers, eking out a living as a debt collector, who gets dragged back into police work when his wife and son are murdered, his daughter abducted.  Early on the reader realises a clock is ticking, and that Frank's daughter, Laura, is the hands of a madman – but a madman with a purpose, a madman who is intelligent and cunning.  A madman who taunts and mocks Frank along the way.  A madman who is not working alone.  This is a psychological crime thriller, and it is very dark indeed.  When it was available  - albeit in a slightly different form - as a self-published item, one reader said it would be good as a TV show or movie, but one that would have to be watched from behind the sofa. Speaking as someone who did that as a child when confronted by the Daleks, I was thrilled by that particular observation.
Tell us about yourself and what you get up to when you’re not writing.

After 17 years in one job, I was made redundant last Christmas. I now divide my time between my own IT consultancy business, and writing.  It would suit my Chi entirely – though not my pocket – if I were able to devote all of my time to writing, but currently that's just not possible.

Do you prefer to read e-books or paper books?

Physical books - I love the feel of them, the rustle of pages as they turn, the look and heft of an actual, physical book. I buy hardbacks of my favourite authors, and for me nothing will ever replace that new book smell.

Who is your favourite novelist?

I am going to cheat and list three: Stephen King, for all the obvious reasons; Thomas Harris – I can forgive him the boring/lame 50% of Hannibal and the lamentable Hannibal Rising for the pure majesty of both Red Dragon and, my favourite book of all, The Silence of the Lambs.  Finally, it has to be today's master of the American crime novel, Michael Connelly.  The Poet is my second favourite book, and Harry Bosch one of my favourite characters.

What are you working on at the present?

My WIP is the follow up to Bad to the Bone, whose working title is Bad Moon Rising. In my virtual cabinet drawer I have a completed first draft of the novel I was working on when I signed my first Bloodhound Books contract – that is a fast-paced thriller which I thoroughly enjoyed writing. It may be a standalone, or at least it started out that way, but a couple of the characters in it may just have the legs for more.  Its working title is Scream Blue Murder.  I am also sketching out an idea for what I think could be a third book in the current series, plus I don't think I'm quite finished with Frank Rogers from Degrees of Darkness just yet.
Would you consider writing in different genres and if so, which ones? 

I have always been drawn to comedy. If I was starting out and had 40 years ahead of me, I'd mix it up a bit. But I don't, and my heart and head have been captured by crime for the time being.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to see where an idea takes you?

Oh, I have tried so hard to be organised and patient enough to write a full outline.  But every time I do, the simple act of setting those thoughts down fills my head with the way I want to structure the chapters, and before you know it I have yet again dumped the outline in favour of writing the thing. I am a pretty organised person in my non-writing life (my daughter probably just coughed up a lung laughing at that, as my CDO is legendary in my house – and yes, that is OCD in alphabetical order!!) and I suspect my creative side needs to fly on the seat of its pants in order to thrive. Even the minor outlines I do write bear no relation to the completed work, as it changes all the time with the writing and, especially, as the characters truly emerge.

Do you think the cover plays an important part of the buying process?

Regrettably, yes. Now correct me if I'm wrong, and I may just be making this up, but isn't there a saying that goes something like: Do not judge a book by its cover?  Seriously, though, imagery has become so important in our lives that a good cover can hook someone in just enough to tempt them. Perhaps not into buying, but pausing long enough to at least consider it. That one good cover could lure them often enough that they eventually decide to take the plunge. I don't think even the Amazon preview has diminished that. Not yet, anyway.

What is the first book to make you cry?

I must have been an emotional child, because it was The Man Who Was Magic, by Paul Gallico. I became so completely engrossed by that book, about an actual boy magician who enters the world of conjurers, that when he had to leave and I read a line that made me realise he would never go back and I would never read about him again, I wept.

Thank you, Tony, for a great interview!
!UK readers, want to know more about Bad to the Bone? Click the link to the right. Find out about the skeletal body unearthed in a wooded area of Peterborough, Cambridgeshire! Is the killer much closer than DI James Bliss and DC Penny Chandler could imagine?
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Today I'd like to welcome novelist Rachel Amphlett to my blog. Originally from the UK and now based in Australia, Rachel’s novels appeal to a worldwide audience, and have been compared to Robert Ludlum, Lee Child and Michael Crichton. Wow! Let's get going with the interview...

Tell us about your latest book in the Detective Kay Hunter series, Will to Live.
 

Thanks for having me on your blog, Maggie. Will to Live sees Kay Hunter pitted against a serial killer who’s been using a stretch of the local railway known as “Suicide Mile” to dispose of his victims – until a witness stumbles across one of his victims before the train strikes. Kay and her team then have to revisit a number of cold cases to try to establish a pattern, while the killer is still at large. On top of that, Kay’s investigation into who tried to destroy her career intensifies, with catastrophic consequences.

You also write espionage novels. Which do you find the most challenging to write: crime or spy fiction?
 
I enjoy writing the spy fiction, but crime thrillers are where my heart is at. It simply took a few books under my belt before I felt I had the confidence to give them a go. The response to one of my standalones, Look Closer, is what gave me the nudge I needed – that’s the closest I’d written to the crime fiction genre at that time, and it’s proven to be a great success. By the time I got to the beginning of 2016, I had the inkling of a new series featuring a female detective, and that’s how the Kay Hunter series evolved.
 
What’s next for you now that Will to Live has been published? What can your fans expect next?
 
The third book in the Kay Hunter series will be released in June, so expect a cover reveal for that soon, with the fourth book scheduled for a September release. On top of that, the audiobooks for the series are going into production this month, which I’m really excited about.

In which genre(s) do you write? Would you consider writing in different genres and if so, which ones?
 
I definitely want to write a historical / crime fiction book – I’ve been researching in between writing the Kay Hunter series and have jotted down a few scenes and a rough outline. I’m hoping to spend some time on that later this year.
 
What draws you to your chosen genre(s)?

It’s what I’ve been reading since I was a kid – I love mysteries, so like a lot of authors I started off reading Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five and went from there. I can’t recall a time I wasn’t reading crime fiction in some form!
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to see where an idea takes you?
 
I usually have the opening scene in my head and the “lift” points sorted out, and then I’ll take those and develop a rough outline using a five act structure. Once I have that, I get stuck into the writing. I do like to leave a bit of wiggle room for characters to develop, because that makes it interesting for me as a writer – a character could say something that takes me down a different path to the ending I have in mind that’s a better way than I originally thought, so it’s important to allow that to happen.
 
How long does it take you to write a book to first draft stage?
 
The first draft usually takes me no longer than 12 weeks – and it’s a hot mess, I can tell you! However, it’s important to me to get it written down as fast as possible because it reflects the pace of the story. The fastest I’ve ever written a first draft is 9 weeks.

What book are you reading at present?
 
CJ Sansom’s Lamentation – I’ve loved his whole Shardlake series of books, and I’ve finally found a bit of spare time to savour this one!

Thank you, Rachel, for a great interview!

UK readers, you can purchase Will to Live from Amazon via the link to the left. ​

​Prefer to shop on Kobo or iBooks? No problem! Simply click the links above.

​Like to know more about Rachel and her books?
 See below:

​Website:  www.rachelamphlett.com
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/rachelamphlett.author/
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/rachelamphlett
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