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Today it’s a pleasure to host author Rose McGinty. I first became aware of Rose when I was a member of the Urbane Book Club (no longer running) and received a copy of her book, intriguingly  entitled the ‘Electric Souk’.

Author bio:-

Rose McGinty was born with itchy feet, which she has yet to decide is a blessing or a curse. But it was her adventures in the Middle East that gave her the itchy fingers to write. Rose lives in Kent, where as well as enjoying writing short stories, flash fiction and poetry, she also paints. She works in community health services and has worked overseas in Ireland, Canada, Sweden and the Middle East.

She completed the Faber Academy Writing a Novel course, under the guidance of Richard Skinner, in 2015. Electric Souk is her debut novel and Rose says of her story, ‘The parts of the story that are true, I probably wish were not; while the parts that are not, I probably wish were true.’

So over to Rose:-

Which 5 pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?

Daydream Believer by the Monkees – I mostly felt trapped at school. My way out was to
daydream and take myself off into magical worlds. It turns out this was the key skill I developed at that time as now my life revolves around stories – and I still daydream.

Riverdance by Bill Whelan – I was living in Dublin, studying at Trinity and actually dancing on the stage in a show that was a fusion of Irish and contemporary dance when Riverdance exploded from the Liffey. That was such a special time. It is Ireland in one piece of music and its energy, magic and joy are everything that Ireland is to me.

Missing (I miss you like the deserts miss the rain) by Everything but the Girl  – this song reminds me of my time living in the Middle East. The desert was so hypnotic like this song, but so cruel too, and leaves you full of yearning.

No Frontiers by Mary Black – there’s a lyric in this beautiful song that echoes something my grandmother always used to say to me, and when I hear it it’s as if she has come back to me in a song. It’s all about overcoming your fears and hope.

I can see clearly now the rain has gone by Johnny Nash – this sums up everything I feel about life since I found my writing group – they are my bright, bright sunshiny day.

Highlight 5 things (apart from family and friends) you’d find it hard to live without.

Laughter

My camera

Big skies

My passport

Dreams

Can you offer 5 pieces of advice you’d give to your younger self?

There’s really only one piece of advice but it relates to at least five key aspects of life – jobs, relationships, homes, bed and definitely parties – always leave ten minutes before you think you need to.

Tell us 5 things that most people don’t know about you. 

I jumped 192 metres off the Auckland Tower and have no fear of heights.

I enjoy life drawing.

I love dancing and I’ve danced since I was four, mostly ballet but I also studied Egyptian dance (belly dancing) for a year with Yasmin, who danced in U2’s video for their song She Moves in Mysterious Ways.

I am a secret Coronation Street addict and when I can’t sleep I write storylines in my head. If Shakespeare was alive today he would be writing for Coronation Street and I would love to write even one line and have a drink in the Rovers Return.

I was mistaken for a WAG once, whilst sitting next to a very famous footballer at Dublin airport. I merrily let autograph hunters take photos of us although I had no idea who he was and had to ask someone once he had been called for his flight. My one ever moment of glamour.

What are the first 5 things you’d have on your bucket list?

See a whale swimming free in the ocean

Travel the Silk Road

Hang glide

Live by the sea in Ireland

Kiss my soulmate

Thanks so much for taking part Rose, I love your music choices. No Frontiers by Mary Black is a lovely track and she has an amazing voice.  I know most people will want to know who that famous footballer was, but that’s your secret, not mine, so my lips are sealed! Hope you get to achieve those things on your bucket list. Living in Ireland, ideally near the coast, is also one of our dreams – I can think of nothing nicer. When you achieve that dream, I’m hoping it’s with your soul mate. 

Rose’s Book

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Electric Souk by Rose McGinty

Ireland’s gone bust, and with it Aisling Finn’s life. She flees austerity for adventure in the desert. But the Arabia she finds is not that of her dreams. Everyone is chasing a fast buck, a fast woman and another G&T. Expats and locals alike prickle with paranoia. Debonair fixer, Brian Rothmann, charms Aisling with champagne brunches and nights at Bedouin camps. But is Brian a hero or a desperate expat prepared to go to any lengths to get what he wants? Is this Aisling? Or is he using her as bait? Her only hope is Hisham, a local activist. But where do his loyalties lie? Aisling faces severe peril when the sleazy expat and blood-lusting desert worlds collide, as the Arab Spring erupts. She has to ask, whom can she trust? Can she trust her instincts? Humanity blisters in this haunting, lyrical thriller about trust and treachery.

Follow Rose via:-

Twitter

Her website

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Today I’m delighted to host former journalist turned novelist Susan Pape. Susan writes smart and witty women’s fiction with long time friend Sue Featherstone.  Susan is a Yorkshire lass with a professed love for Filey,  so I’m sure we’d get on if we ever met.

Author bio:

Susan Pape is a former newspaper journalist with extensive experience of working for national and regional papers, and magazines. She has also worked in higher education, teaching journalism at Leeds Trinity University.

Susan joined with best friend Sue Featherstone to write two successful journalism text books – Newspaper Journalism: A Practical Introduction and Feature Writing: A Practical Introduction (both published by Sage).

They went on to write their debut novel, A Falling Friend, published by Lakewater Press, which has been followed by a second book, A Forsaken Friend. The final book in the Friends trilogy, A Forgiven Friend will be published this year.

 So over to Sue:-

Which 5 pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?

Mr Blue Sky. I saw Jeff Lynne’s ELO at the First Direct Arena in Leeds last year and the audience (many of a certain age who remember the Electric Light Orchestra from the first time around) erupted in sheer delight. It was an absolutely amazing atmosphere.

Happy by Pharrell Williams. It’s a song that you can’t help smiling, clapping and dancing along to.

Faure Requiem is the best known of composer Gabriel Faure’s large works, and although I’ve listened to it many times, it still has the power to overwhelm.

Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen. I would gladly list all Leonard Cohen’s music on my soundtrack, but it I had to pick just one it would be this. I saw Leonard Cohen in concert two or three years ago and it was one of the most magical events of my life. The whole audience was as one: we loved him and none of us could believe we were actually there listening to him.

Max Bruch’s Violin Concerto is a popular piece which regularly features in Classic FM’s top 100. I love it because it’s so intense and leads you into a slowly building finale that knocks your socks off.

Highlight 5 things (apart from family and friends) you’d find it hard to live without.

My ukulele

My car

Walking boots

My diary

My computer (for writing)

Can you offer 5 pieces of advice you’d give to your younger self?

Dive in at the deep end.

Relax – the bath won’t overflow (mother will remember to turn the taps off before everyone in the house drowns)

Just be natural: life’s not a performance, and you don’t have to put on an act.

Be genuinely nice to people rather than ingratiate yourself or try to please others to win their affection and approval.

Some of your worst fears will materialize, but you will deal with them.

Tell us 5 things that most people don’t know about you.

I have climbed all the 214 hills (known as Wainwrights) in the Lake District (some more than once). I took a bottle of champagne up the final one on my list (which was some weight in my rucksack) and sat on the cairn drinking and celebrating.

I spent my early years in Hong Kong and can count to ten and swear in Mandarin.

I play the ukulele in a band. I learned to play during a music tuition weekend in the Lakes, without telling anyone what I was doing. I came home, made my husband close his eyes while I took my uke from its case, and played him Jambalaya, an easy tune as it’s only got two chords, but to me, it was the start of a love affair with this crazy little instrument.

I ghost wrote two cookery books. Friends will laugh at this because I’m a notoriously bad cook. To produce the books, I spent time with the chefs involved and it was a case of interviewing them and copying down, ounce for ounce, the recipes they wanted including. Because these books were ghost written, I wasn’t allowed to say I was the ‘author’, but I proudly keep them on my bookshelves.

Deep within my heart is a secret I can never tell anyone.

What are the first 5 things you’d have on your bucket list?

I don’t really have a bucket list. I’ve always taken the view that if you have ambitions and goals, just get on with it. Don’t make excuses as to why you can’t do something – go on and do whatever’s possible for you. I’ve had that approach to climbing mountains; walking long-distance footpaths; taking two degrees as a mature student; training and running half-marathons; speaking in public; and writing books and getting them published.

But if I was pushed, I’d say I want to learn to dive and conquer my fear of swimming underwater. 

Thanks so much for joining us today Susan. I love your advice, very practical and I wholeheartedly agree with the principles of be yourself and be nice to others. I’m also with you on the bucket list, I know I asked the question, but I don’t have one either. Living for today, and making the most of your chances and opportunities would be my philosophy too. I love that you can swear in Mandarin, I’m sure that comes in handy when an expletive is needed in polite company!  Of course what everyone really wants to know now is your secret – I guess we’ll never get the answer though.    

Susan’s Books (with Sue Featherstone)

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A Falling Friend (Friends Book 1)

There are two sides to every friendship.

After spending her twenties sailing the globe, making love on fine white sand, and thinking only of today, Teri Meyer returns to Yorkshire – and back into the life of childhood friend Lee. Plus, there’s the new job, new man – or three – and the guaranteed lump sum of a bursary for her academic research piece on the way. Life is first-rate.

What could possibly go wrong?

Going out on a limb to get best friend Teri a job at the same university seemed like a great idea. But it doesn’t take long for Lee Harper to notice a pattern. Teri seems to attract trouble, or maybe she creates it, and Lee can see exactly where things are spiralling – downwards. But Teri’s not the sort to heed a warning, so Lee has no choice but to stand by and watch.

And besides, she has her own life to straighten out.

A Forsaken Friend (Friends Book 2)

No-one said friendship was easy.

Things can’t get much worse for Teri Meyer. If losing her job at the university and the regular allowance from her dad’s factory isn’t bad enough, now her ex-best friend has gone and stolen her ex-husband! Well, to hell with them all. A few weeks in the countryside at her brother’s smallholding should do the trick – and the gorgeous and god-like neighbour might help.

But then there’s Declan, not to mention Duck’s Arse back in Yorkshire…

It’s not as if Lee Harper set out to fall in love with her best friend’s ex-husband. But, for once, her love life is looking up – except for all the elephants in the room, not to mention Mammy’s opinion on her dating a twice-divorced man. Perhaps things aren’t as rosy as she first thought. And now with one family crisis after another, Lee’s juggling more roles – and emotions – than she ever imagined.

Maybe sharing her life with a man wasn’t such a grand idea.

Non-Fiction Titles

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Susan blogs about books and writing with Sue at bookloversbooklist.com

You can also find Susan on Twitter and on Facebook.

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Today I’m delighted to feature author and composer Thomas Enger.  I was fortunate to meet Thomas at The Orenda Roadshow in Manchester earlier this year. As well as adding his latest book to my beloved signed collection, it was the ideal opportunity to invite him to share his Five.

Author bio:-

Thomas Enger (b. 1973) made his debut in 2010 with Burned, the first of five novels in the critically acclaimed Henning Juul series. Burned was shortlisted for the eDunnit award in England for the best novel that was both published as a hard back and in a e-book format in 2011. Movie rights for all the books in the Juul series have been sold to the Norwegian production company Cinenord. His most recent book is Inborn (Orenda Books). Thomas’s books are published in over 30 countries. He lives in Oslo with his wife and two children.

So over to Thomas:-

Which 5 pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?

Edvard Grieg: Piano concerto in A minor. Quite simply because it’s the most stunning piece of music ever written.

Andrew Lloyd Webber: Phantom of the Opera. I went to see this in West End in 1989 (I was 14), and it changed my way of thinking about music completely.

James Horner: Braveheart. Quite possibly the most beautiful and romantic movie score ever made.

James Newton Howard: Snow Falling on Cedars. One of the most emotive and immerse scores I know.

Hans Zimmer: Crimson Tide. Quite possibly the CD I’ve played the most.

Highlight 5 things (apart from family and friends) you’d find it hard to live without.

Lipbalm

Our summer cabin in Stavern

Manchester United

My piano

Chewing gum

Can you offer 5 pieces of advice you’d give to your younger self?

Read more books

Study at least one year abroad

Start playing golf a lot sooner

Spend more time with your grandparents

Don’t wait until it’s too late to ask important questions

Tell us 5 things that most people don’t know about you.

I used to stutter/stammer a lot when I was young. Had a huge problem with it.

My first paid job was as a garbage disposal person at Oslo Airport Gardermoen.

I grew up listening to a lot of heavy metal.

When I was young I wanted to become a butcher (might explain a few things…)

When I was 16 (or maybe I was 17), I scored a goal from my own team’s half of the pitch.

What are the first 5 things you’d have on your bucket list?

I’d like to live for a while in Paris or Copenhagen

Spend three months at a writer’s retreat in the Maldives (preferably during the winter)

Go see/listen to a Hans Zimmer in concert show

Take my son to see Manchester United at Old Trafford

Record an album with my songs

Thanks so much for sharing with us Thomas, it’s been great to discover more about you. I’m interested in hearing some of your musical choices that I’m not familiar with – I’m particularly partial to a romantic/emotive movie score. Personally delighted to see a certain football team making an appearance (twice). I fell in love with George Best in 1968 as a 10 year old, and they’ve been ‘my’ team since. Hopefully you’ll get to take your son to Old Trafford. Glad to see you gave up your desire to be a butcher, I’m sure your readers are equally appreciative too!

For those of you interested in hearing some of Thomas’s compositions choose music once you’ve followed the link here.

Thomas’s Books

Click on image for non-affiliated buying link in UK

The Henning Juul Series

Burned (Henning Juul 1)

A BRUTALISED VICTIM IN THE WILDS
A solitary tent is found to contain the body of a half-buried woman. She’s been stoned to death. There are lash marks across her back. One of her hands has been cut off.

A LONE VOICE 
Two years earlier internet reporter Henning Juul lost his son, Jonas, in a domestic fire. As he returns to work, physically and emotionally scarred, Henning struggles to escape this past and to be taken seriously again as a reporter – by his colleagues, his ex-wife and the police.

A MYSTERY IGNITED
Told to cover the story of the woman in the tent, he finds an increasingly dangerous trail and, despite an early arrest, he is convinced that the story is more complex than the police think…

Pierced (Henning Juul 2)

A Convicted Killer: Despite always maintaining his innocence, Tori Pulli, once a powerful player on Oslo’s underground crime scene, has been found guilty of murder.

A Loose End: Scarred reporter, Henning Juul, is contacted by Pulli, who claims that if Henning can help clear his name he can give him details of who was responsible for the fire which killed his six-year-old son, Jonas.

A Double Threat: Desperate to continue his own search for justice, Henning realises that the information Pulli promises is life threatening, to both of them and to others. As events take a deadly turn, Henning finds himself on the trail of two killers for whom the stakes have never been higher…

Scarred (Henning Juul 3)

An elderly woman is found dead in a nursing home. Bjarne Brogeland, who heads up the investigation, soon realises that they are on the trail of a meticulous killer who has developed a keen taste for revenge. A killer who has only just begun…

Trine Juul-Osmundsen, Norway’s Secretary of State and Henning Juul’s sister, is accused of sexually harassing a young male politician. As the allegations cause a media frenzy, Trine receives an anonymous threat telling her to resign. If she doesn’t, the truth about what she really did that night will be revealed.

Scarred reporter Henning Juul, finds himself torn between the two high profile cases. He wants to help his estranged sister, but as he digs into their past, he discovers memories that haunt them both. Memories of a broken home. Memories of a dead father.

As the two cases collide, both their worlds threaten to fall apart.

Cursed (Henning Juul 4)

What secret would you kill to protect?

When Hedda Hellberg fails to return from a retreat in Italy, her husband discovers that his wife’s life is tangled in mystery. Hedda never left Oslo, the retreat has no record of her and, what’s more, she appears to be connected to the death of an old man, gunned down on the first day of the hunting season in the depths of the Swedish forests.

Henning Juul becomes involved in the case when his ex-wife joins in the search for the missing woman, and the estranged pair find themselves enmeshed both in the murky secrets of one of Sweden’s wealthiest families, and in the painful truths surrounding the death of their own son. When their lives are threatened, Juul is prepared to risk everything to uncover a sinister maze of secrets that ultimately leads to the dark heart of European history.

Killed (Henning Juul 5)

Crime reporter Henning Juul thought his life was over when his young son was murdered. But that was only the beginning…

Determined to find his son’s killer, Henning doggedly follows an increasingly dangerous trail, where dark hands from the past emerge to threaten everything. His ex-wife Nora is pregnant with another man’s child, his sister Trine is implicated in the fire that killed his son and, with everyone he thought he could trust seemingly hiding something, Henning has nothing to lose … except his own life.

Packed with tension and unexpected twists, Killed is the long-awaited finale of one of the darkest, most chilling and emotive series you may ever read. Someone will be killed. But who?

Standalone Novels

Inborn

What turns a boy into a killer?

When the high school in the small Norwegian village of Fredheim becomes a murder scene, the finger is soon pointed at seventeen-year-old Even. As the investigation closes in, social media is ablaze with accusations, rumours and even threats, and Even finds himself the subject of an online trial as well as being in the dock … for murder?

Even pores over his memories of the months leading up to the crime, and it becomes clear that more than one villager was acting suspiciously … and secrets are simmering beneath the calm surface of this close-knit community.  As events from the past play tag with the present, he’s forced to question everything he thought he knew. Was the death of his father in a car crash a decade earlier really accidental? Has a relationship stirred up something that someone is prepared to kill to protect?

It seems that there may be no one that Even can trust.

But can we trust him?

You can keep in touch with Thomas via

His website

Twitter

Facebook 

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Jill's Book Cafe by Jill's Book Cafe - 2w ago

I’ve had a bumper buying month this month, so better make a large cuppa (or three) – this might take a while.

Kindle Books

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The Gustav Sonata by Rose Tremain

What is the difference between friendship and love?

Gustav grows up in a small town in Switzerland, where the horrors of the Second World War seem a distant echo. But Gustav’s father has mysteriously died, and his adored mother Emilie is strangely cold and indifferent to him. Gustav’s life is a lonely one until he meets Anton. An intense lifelong friendship develops but Anton fails to understand how deeply and irrevocably his life and Gustav’s are entwined until it is almost too late…

An Eventful Vacation by Linda Christie

Rosalinda Little, a painter known as ‘Little Rose’ in the art world, is invited to show her work at an exhibition in a fabulous hideaway hotel, the ‘El Pino’ in beautiful Formentor on the island of Mallorca. She decides to make a holiday of it, taking her best friend, Connie, with her. They arrive joyously on a glorious summer day… but soon a series of extraordinary events take place. She is witness to a little boy in distress, only later to find out he has gone missing.

The novel portrays Rosa’s struggle to help find the lost boy, with unexpected and sometimes disastrous consequences. The twists and turns of her quest involve her with a fascinating cast of characters, over a wide range of international settings, from a Mallorcan monastery to an Algerian prison. The dark and complex secrets concealed in the paradise setting of the ‘El Pino’ Hotel take a long time to unravel. Meanwhile, Rosa faces the added dilemma of falling in love with a married man half her age…

Dirty Little Secrets by Jo Spain

Six neighbours, six secrets, six reasons to want Olive Collins dead.

In the exclusive gated community of Withered Vale, people’s lives appear as perfect as their beautifully manicured lawns. Money, success, privilege – the residents have it all. Life is good.

There’s just one problem.

Olive Collins’ dead body has been rotting inside number four for the last three months. Her neighbours say they’re shocked at the discovery but nobody thought to check on her when she vanished from sight.

The police start to ask questions and the seemingly flawless facade begins to crack. Because, when it comes to Olive’s neighbours, it seems each of them has something to hide, something to lose and everything to gain from her death.

If Only I Could Tell You by Hannah Beckerman

Audrey’s family has fallen apart. Her two grown-up daughters, Jess and Lily, are estranged, and her two teenage granddaughters have never been allowed to meet. A secret that echoes back thirty years has splintered the family in two, but is also the one thing keeping them connected.

As tensions reach breaking point, the irrevocable choice that one of them made all those years ago is about to surface. After years of secrets and silence, how can one broken family find their way back to each other?

Two Fridays in April by Roisin Meaney

It’s Una Darling’s seventeenth birthday, but nobody feels much like celebrating. It’s been exactly a year since the tragic death of her father Finn, and the people he left behind have been doing their best to get on with things. But it hasn’t been easy.

Daphne is tired of sadness, of mourning the long life she and her husband were meant to share, but doesn’t quite know how to get past it. And she can’t seem to get through to her stepdaughter — they barely speak anymore, so Daphne knows nothing of the unexpected solace Una has found, or of the risk she’s about to take.

When Una fails to appear for a birthday tea with her family, Daphne suddenly realises how large the distance between them has grown. Will she be given the chance to make things right?

Mad Blood Stirring by Simon Mayo

1815: The war is over but for the inmates at Dartmoor Prison, peace – like home – is still a long way away.

On the eve of the year 1815, the captured sailors of the Eagle arrive at Dartmoor prison; bedraggled, exhausted, sustained only by a rumour heard along the way.

Joe Hill thought he’d left the conflict behind but it is clear there is a different type of battle here. As he announces the news of the end of the war, the guards bristle and the inmates stir. The powder keg was fixed to blow and Joe has just lit the fuse.

Elizabeth Shortland, the Governor’s wife, looks out at the unsettled crowd. The peace means the end is near, that she needn’t be here for ever. But suddenly, she cannot bear the thought of leaving.

The Changeling by Matt Wesolowski

A missing child
A family in denial
Six witnesses
Six stories
Which one is true?

On Christmas Eve in 1988, seven-year-old Alfie Marsden vanished in the dark Wentshire Forest Pass, when his father, Sorrel, stopped the car to investigate a mysterious knocking sound. No trace of the child, nor his remains, have ever been found. Alfie Marsden was declared officially dead in 1995.

Elusive online journalist, Scott King, whose ‘Six Stories’ podcasts have become an internet sensation, investigates the disappearance, interviewing six witnesses, including Sorrel and his ex-partner, to try to find out what really happened that fateful night. Journeying through the trees of the Wentshire Forest – a place synonymous with strange sightings, and tales of hidden folk who dwell there, he talks to a company that tried and failed to build a development in the forest, and a psychic who claims to know what happened to the little boy…

Day of the Accident by Nuala Ellwood

Sixty seconds after she wakes from a coma, Maggie’s world is torn apart.

The police tell her that her daughter Elspeth is dead. That she drowned when the car Maggie had been driving plunged into the river. Maggie remembers nothing.

When Maggie begs to see her husband Sean, the police tell her that he has disappeared. He was last seen on the day of her daughter’s funeral.

What really happened that day at the river?
Where is Maggie’s husband?
And why can’t she shake the suspicion that somewhere, somehow… her daughter is still alive?

The Survivors by Kate Furnivall

Directly I saw him, I knew he had to die.’

Germany, 1945. Klara Janowska and her daughter Alicja have walked for weeks to get to Graufeld Displaced Persons camp. In the cramped, dirty, dangerous conditions they, along with 3,200 others, are the lucky ones. They have survived and will do anything to find a way back home.

But when Klara recognises a man in the camp from her past, a deadly game of cat and mouse begins.

He knows exactly what she did during the war to save her daughter.

She knows his real identity.

What will be the price of silence? And will either make it out of the camp alive?

Her Best Friend’s Secret by Anna Mansell

Your best friend deserves the truth. But it will ruin her life. What would you do?

It’s been over twenty years since four very different teenage girls sat on that beach at Goran Haven, and swore to be best friends forever. Their lives went different ways after Emily left. But each remembered that promise. And none truly found friendship like it again.

Now, Emily’s back, with a secret she can’t face. She tries to hide away, take time to heal and make some difficult choices, but she runs into one of her old friends, and soon the four are reunited. Lolly, warm as ever, is a successful physiotherapist, married with kids. Yet smart, strong Amanda, who cherishes her teenage daughter, is alone and seemingly stuck in a dead-end job. And creative Jess is so much quieter than Emily remembers.

The bond is still there, and Emily realises their friendship might keep her together, but there are reasons why the women fell out of touch. Secrets that have lain dormant for decades start to surface, and then one of the women discovers a betrayal so big, it could turn each of their lives upside down.

It’s always those we’re closest to who have the power to tear us apart. Can friendship give Emily and her friends the strength to survive a devastating shock, or are some things unforgivable?

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Today I’m delighted to feature author Jan Ruth who writes contemporary fiction about the darker side of the family dynamic, often blending life in rural Wales with a touch of city business. Her style is best described as fast-paced and realistic, with a sprinkling of dry humour.

Author bio:-

The real story began at school, with prizes for short stories and poetry. She failed all things mathematical and scientific, and to this day struggles to make sense of anything numerical.

Her first novel – written in 1986 – attracted the attention of an agent who was trying to set up her own company, Love Stories Ltd. It was a project aiming to champion those books of substance which contained a romantic element but were perhaps directed towards the more mature reader and consistently fell through the net in traditional publishing. Sadly, the project failed to get the right financial backing.

Many years later Jan’s second novel, Wild Water, was taken on by Jane Judd, literary agent. Judd was a huge inspiration, but the book failed to find the right niche with a publisher. And then Amazon changed the face of the industry with the advent of self-publishing. Jan went on to successfully publish several works of fiction under her own imprint, Celtic Connections.

After a brief partnership with Accent Press in 2015, Jan chose to return to the freedom of independent publishing.

Jan Ruth lives in Snowdonia, a mountainous area of North Wales, UK. She is also an active member of her local RDA group (Riding for the disabled) and is an Assistant Equine Facilitated Learning Practitioner for the Welsh Institute of Therapeutic Horsemanship. In her spare time she enjoys riding and walking the Welsh hills; a constant source of inspiration.

Jan’s books are available globally via Amazon in paperback and for Kindle; and locally, you’ll find them in North Wales libraries and Hinton’s bookshop of Conwy.

So over to Jan :-

Which 5 pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?

Not so much soundtracks to my life, but music which has heavily influenced me along the way:

Gloria, I recall being fairly obsessed with this track in the 80’s and it still makes me feel wired despite the million times I must have listened to it. The energy and angst is palpable.

Angel, Sarah Brightman. I tend to find myself writing Christmas stuff at the wrong time of the year. It’s always a tall order to find the mood when the sun is beating down on the parched Welsh mountains. This is where music plays a massive part, well, that and mince pies. This track by Brightman epitomises our kaleidoscope of beliefs when it comes to religion, guardian angles, and all things paranormal.

 Remember When it Rained, Josh Groban. The loss of my father.

Pyro, Kings of Leon.This album, and especially this track, shaped my character, Daniel, from White Horizon. It included a fast car, an old schoolfriend with a nasty agenda, and yes, a fire…

Fields of Gold, Sting. Everything I feel about the Welsh countryside is epitomised in this music. It’s moving without a shred of sentiment, and this sums up much about me and the style of my books.

 Highlight 5 things (apart from family and friends) you’d find it hard to live without.

 

Horses. They’ve been part of my life for fifty years and a constant source of inspiration.

The British countryside. I really can’t think of anything which might induce me to live in another country, and so much of my health and happiness depends on the big outdoors.

Laughter. I’m an optimist, it works for me!

My Apple Mac. It keeps my life in order.

My Fiat Panda. I wouldn’t describe myself as a car person, but I’d be lost in the Welsh hills without my modest 4×4.

 

Can you offer 5 pieces of advice you’d give to your younger self?

 

Don’t run with the crowd, be individual.

Contentment doesn’t come from material things. As we mature we discover that we can actually live without most of the things we clutter our lives with.

It’s okay to be unhappy or sad, sometimes.

If in doubt – don’t.

Not all good material is published by a traditional publisher, and contracts from some of them aren’t worth the paper they’re written on.

 

Tell us 5 things that most people don’t know about you.

 

I’m a qualified equine therapist. (Assisting those with mental health issues through interacting with horses)

I do my best writing wearing my pyjamas and dressing gown. As soon as I get dressed the spell is broken…

Since I don’t write commercial fiction, I no longer submit manuscripts. I write and publish for myself and my readers.

I’m an active trustee member for Conwy RDA. (Riding for the Disabled).

 

What are the first 5 things you’d have on your bucket list?

See more of Italy

Walk the Coast to Coast

Ride a long distance trail – in fact I’ve just booked this for June in Cumbria, so here’s hoping for kind weather!

Visit Sark

Develop my equine therapy and coaching skills.

Thanks so much for joining us today Jan. I’m definitely keeping this post away from my husband, he needs no encouragement to work in his dressing gown! (We do work from home). Very sage advice for your younger self, much of which we could all do to heed as an older self. Here’s hoping you get to tick those bucket list items off and good to see that your long distance trail is already planned. Wishing you all the best with that and fingers crossed for good weather. 

 o-o-0-o-o Jan’s Books  (Click on image for non-affiliated buying link) Standalones

Gift Horse

Caroline Walker’s daughter suffers a horrific riding accident. Her distraught parents wonder if she’ll ever walk again, let alone ride. And when Mollie’s blood group is discovered as rare, her husband offers to donate blood. Except Ian is not a match. In fact, it’s unlikely he’s Mollie’s father.

Eighteen years previously, Caroline had a one-night stand with Irish rock star, Rory O’Connor. Caroline fell pregnant. Deeply flawed boyfriend, Ian, was overjoyed. And Caroline’s parents were simply grateful that their daughter was to marry into the rich, influential Walker family. Never look a gift horse in the mouth.

Caroline turns to Rory’s friend Connor; and although his almost spiritual connection with his horses appears to be the balm she needs, Caroline cannot forget Rory, or her youth – both lost to a man she never loved. Eighteen years on and after surviving cancer Rory lives as a virtual recluse in the Welsh mountains. Through his well-meaning but interfering sister, he is shocked to discover he has a teenage daughter. Or does he? As the truth begins to unravel, Caroline finds herself faced with a complex trail of moral dilemma.

Someone has made a terrible mistake… someone is going to get hurt…

Silver Rain

Al is the black sheep of his family, Kate, the good shepherd of hers. Can black and white become silver, or just a dark and dangerous grey?

Alastair Black has revealed a secret to his wife in a last ditch attempt to save his marriage. A return to his childhood family home at Chathill Farm is his only respite, although he is far from welcomed back by brother George.

Kate, recently widowed and increasingly put upon by daughter, sister and mother, feels her life is over at fifty. Until she meets Alastair. He’s everything she isn’t, but he’s a troubled soul, a sad clown of a man with a shady past. When his famous mother leaves an unexpected inheritance, Kate is caught up in the unravelling of his life as Al comes to terms with who he really is.
Is Alastair Black her true soulmate, or should Sleeping Beauty lie?

White Horizon

Three couples in crisis, multiple friendships under pressure.

On-off-on lovers Daniel and Tina return to their childhood town. After twenty-five years together, they marry in typically chaotic fashion, witnessed by old friends, Victoria and Linda who become entangled in the drama, their own lives changing beyond recognition. However, as all their marriages begin to splinter, and damaged Victoria begins an affair with Daniel, the secret illness that Tina has been hiding emerges. Victoria’s crazed and violent ex-husband attempts to kill Daniel and nearly succeeds, in a fire that devastates the community. On the eve of their first wedding anniversary, Tina returns to face her husband, but is it to say goodbye forever, or to stay?

Wild Water Series

Wild Water (Book 1)

The tragedy and comedy that is Jack’s life; secrets, lies and family ties.

Jack Redman, estate agent to the Cheshire set. An unlikely hero, or someone to break all the rules? Wild water is the story of forty-something estate agent, Jack, who is stressed out not only by work, bills and the approach of Christmas but by the feeling that he and his wife, Patsy are growing apart. His misgivings prove founded when he discovers Patsy is having an affair, and is pregnant. At the same time as his marriage begins to collapse around him, he becomes reacquainted with his childhood sweetheart, Anna, whom he left for Patsy twenty-five years before. His feelings towards Anna reawaken, but will life and family conflicts conspire to keep them apart again?

Dark Water (Book 2)

The tragedy and comedy that is Jack’s life; is there a future for him and Anna, or is the past too destructive?

Jack Redman, estate agent to the Cheshire set and skilled juggler of complex relationships. Someone to break all the rules, or an unlikely hero?

In this sequel to Wild Water Jack and Anna return to discover that history repeats itself. Anna’s long-awaited success as a serious artist is poised to happen, but her joy, along with her relationship with Jack, is threatened by old scores.

Simon Banks is a depressed and unstable man with a plan. He wants to wipe out his past by buying a brighter future, but Jack Redman stands in his way.
Will Jack ever escape the legacy of lies and deceit left by his ex-wife? Can Jack and Anna hold it all together, or will tragic repercussions from Jack’s past blow them apart forever?

Silent Water (Book 3)

The tragedy and comedy that is Jack’s life; a dangerous web of lies concludes a bitter-sweet end.

Jack Redman, estate agent to the Cheshire set and someone who’s broken all the rules. An unlikely hero or a misguided fool?

In this sequel to Dark Water, Jack and Anna must face the consequences of their actions. As the police close in and Patsy’s manipulative ways hamper the investigations, will Jack escape unscathed?

With her career in tatters and an uncertain future, Anna has serious decisions to make. Her silence could mean freedom for Jack, but an emotional prison for herself. Is remaining silent the ultimate test of faith, or is it end of the line for Jack and Anna?

Midnight Sky Series

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Today I’m delighted to introduce author Mary Grand. I’ve known Mary since I reviewed her second book Hidden Chapters (you can read my review in the book link). Mary writes with heart, about family dramas, problems and relationships, and this post serves as a reminder to me, to catch up with her other books (which like so many, are sitting here waiting to be read). Hopefully you’ll be encouraged to take a look at her books and be a bit quicker about reading them, than I’ve been.

Author bio:

I was born in Cardiff and retain a deep love for my Welsh roots. After teaching Deaf children I moved to the beautiful Isle of Wight with my husband, where I now write full time. I have two grown up children.

My novels can be described as dark family dramas. My aim is also to write accessible, gripping stories, so there are strong elements of mystery and secrets to be uncovered. I do extensive research for my novels as within the novels I explore difficult subjects such as addiction and abusive relationships

‘Free to Be Tegan’ was my debut novel and was inspired by my experiences growing up in a religious sect. The second novel ‘Hidden Chapters’ is about motherhood adoption and family secrets. I set my third novel on Mottistone Down here on the Isle of Wight, and the title of that is ‘Behind the Smile’. I have also published two books of short stories ‘Catching the Light’ and ‘Making Changes’. ‘Catching the Light’ is also available as an audiobook. I am working on novel number four, again set here on the Isle of Wight. To date I am a self-published, Indie author.

So over to Mary:-

Which 5 pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why.

At Seventeen by Janis Ian. Janis Ian said this song was terrifying write; she was completely honest and spoke from her heart. I am so grateful she found the courage to write it. This song puts into words the insecurities I experienced in my teens and made me feel I wasn’t alone.

Stayin’ Alive by the Bee Gees. I went to college having had a very sheltered upbringing in a religious sect. I had never been to a disco and so dancing on a Friday night to Stayin’ Alive had to be one of my highlights…of course with all the John Travolta moves!

Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves sung by Annie Lennox. In my late twenties and early thirties, I slowly grew in confidence. Dancing to this in my bedsit was just the best.

Thank You For The Days by Kirsty MacColl. I am sixty years this year, it sounds a lot older than I feel. My children are now in their twenties and I treasure every memory of them growing up. I feel very grateful that we all get on well, and still enjoy being together.

Look What They’ve Done To My Song by Melanie. There is a line in this song about longing to find a good book to live in. I didn’t come to writing until my fifties but the fact this song and this line in particular has been with me since my early teens, may explain why, now I am writing, I finally feel like I have come home.

Highlight 5 things (apart from family and friends) you’d find it hard to live without.

Pepper, my cocker spaniel. Working days start with a walk together, breakfast, and then he sits next to me while I write. When he thinks it’s time for a break, he puts his head on my laptop (I have learned to save my work frequently!).

Walks on Mottistone downs. Whatever the weather, most mornings I am lucky enough to walk up there with Pepper. I am usually thinking about writing or what I shall eat for lunch.

Coffee. Many cups a day.

Reading. I read different books depending on my mood. Recently I have been reading a lot of very good and gripping psychological dramas but felt in need of a brief change. So, at the moment, I am reading a very funny book by James Acaster which I kept embarrassingly laughing out loud to on the plane.

Television. I enjoy crime series like Vera and Happy Valley, also psychological dramas like Doctor Foster and Killing Eve. I also love to laugh and enjoy programmes like Veep, Modern Family, and Outnumbered.

Can you offer 5 pieces of advice you’d give to your younger self?

No one has the right to bully and frighten you.

Being chatty, laughing loudly and having opinions is fine.

It’s ok to fail. It’s ok to make mistakes, it’s ok not be the best.

Stop worrying all the time about how you look.

Learn to say no.

Tell us 5 things that most people don’t know about you.

I had an aunt and uncle who lived in Cardiff Castle (my uncle was a gatekeeper) and I used to play hide and seek in the gold room on rainy days.

When I taught in London, I lived in a council flat that was broken in to. The council put up a thin wooden plank for a door which stayed there for weeks, oh the things you don’t tell you parents in your early twenties!

I taught Deaf children and have passed my initial exams in British Sign Language.

I saw a therapist for help with my anxiety and hypervigilance.

My father had tea with Agatha Christie. I owned about thirty of her books, gave them away and have now replaced them.

What are the first 5 things you’d have on your bucket list?

Go on a tutored writing retreat.

Learn self-defence.

Learn pottery.

Go to a small but exclusive hotel in France for Christmas.

Go to New Zealand.

Thanks so much for joining us today Mary,  it was lovely to find out more about you. Pepper looks adorable and walking on the downs sounds idyllic. I’m envious of your connection to Cardiff Castle, it’s a place I’ve always wanted to visit because of its William Burges interiors I’m sure it’s got a fabulous history too, but that decor – wow. I suspect your Agatha Christie story is hard to beat as well. I really hope you get to achieve some (if not all of your bucket list) but with luck you’ll never need the self-defence.

Mary’s Books  

Behind the Smile

Lowri is pregnant, looking forward to a new life with her lover, Simon. But her plans are shattered. She finds herself alone, her face scarred, her future uncertain
Her estranged husband, Jack, proposes they “settle” for each other, and raise Lowri’s unborn child on the Isle of Wight, in the idyllic village of Elmstone.
Lowri is befriended by Carina, the beautiful Italian woman living in Elmstone Manor, and Heather, the popular local café proprietor. However, she soon discovers that no-one is the person they appear.
What dark secrets is Heather hiding from her family and from the village?
Why is Carina desperate for Lowri to fail in her new life and prepared to go to increasingly desperate lengths to destroy her?
As she confronts her own insecurities, and faces another devastating loss, will Lowri find the courage to be proud of the person she is hiding behind the smile? Will she find true love amid the confusion and intrigue?

Hidden Chapters (my review here)

Catrin survives by denying her past. Her marriage is in crisis. She has devoted herself for eighteen years to bringing up her adopted Deaf daughter, Bethan. She is unaware that her life is about to be shattered by the appearance of the woman she has been told is dead, Bethan’s birth mother, Elizabeth. Catrin is devastated. How will Bethan react? Why has Elizabeth hidden away all these years?
Slowly and painfully, Catrin is forced to examine the web of lies and secrets from her past, the unexplained death of her ‘golden brother’, the truths about her alcoholic mother and the relationships she has now with her father and husband.
Hidden Chapters is an optimistic novel about the hope and the courage each of us can find within ourselves to own our past and take control of the next chapter of our lives. 

Free to be Tegan

Tegan, aged twenty seven, is cast out of the cult, rejected by her family and from the only life she has known. She is vulnerable and naïve but she also has courage and the will to survive. She travels to Wales, to previously unknown relations in the wild Cambrian Mountains.

Guilt and shadows from her past haunt her in flashbacks, panic attacks and a fear of the dark. However she also finds a world full of colour, love and happiness she has never known before. The wild beauty of the hills, the people she meets and the secrets slowly revealed by the cottage all provide an intriguing backdrop to Tegan’s drama.

This is the uplifting story of her journey from life in a cult to find herself and flourish in a world she has been taught to fear and abhor.

Making Changes

Four stories, four women making changes that will alter their lives for ever.

Give and Take
Days before her wedding, hairdresser Lisa has a huge row with her fiancé. He tells her she is over-reacting, so why does Lisa feel devastated? As Lisa listens to the two sides of a couple’s marital problems in the salon, she begins to find answers.

The Key
Looking at the remains of the fire in her beautiful new kitchen, Ruth is very frightened and confused. Since moving with her new husband to Worthing nothing in her life makes sense. What is happening to her?

The Right Shoes
After a devastating family tragedy, Emma moved with her minister husband and daughter to the run down seaside resort of Ruxton. She refuses to talk to anyone about it: no-one will understand. Can a new friendship and a new puppy help Emma and her family heal and make a fresh start?

Holly’s Perfect Christmas?
Holly plans her dream Christmas at an idyllic cottage in Snowdonia. However her partner’s difficult teenage daughter, ex-wife and new husband join them and then the spiteful anonymous texts start to arrive. Can Holly still have her perfect Christmas?

Catching the Light

Four women, four compelling short stories.

The New Arrival
Rachel has moved to the Isle of Wight determined to become invisible. Hiding a shameful secret she cultivates a ‘cold polite smile as effective as an electric fence.’ However, unexpectedly, into her life comes a loving, crazy, individual: Lottie the cocker spaniel. Everything is about to change.

Catching the Light
Erin thinks she has found her fairytale prince. However, the honeymoon in a remote cottage in Wales shatters the dream. For the first time in her life Erin discovers the mystical world of fairies.

Belonging
Megan works in a Theatre for the Deaf. She is Deaf. Her language is British Sign Language. One evening she meets John, who is hearing, and two worlds collide. This is the story of the struggles, joys and tears of their remarkable relationship.

The Outing
This was to be the most important day of Kay’s life. However her mission to be free from years of guilt reveals so much more than she could possibly imagine.

Also included is an excerpt from the author’s full length novel ‘Free to Be Tegan’. 
Tegan, aged twenty seven, is cast out of the cult, rejected by her family and the only life she has known. She is vulnerable and naïve but she also has courage and the will to survive. She travels to Wales, to previously unknown relations in the wild Cambrian Mountains.

You can keep in touch with Mary via social media and her website.

Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads

Website

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Today I’m delighted to introduce author Mary Grand.

Author bio:

I was born in Cardiff and retain a deep love for my Welsh roots. After teaching Deaf children I moved to the beautiful Isle of Wight with my husband, where I now write full time. I have two grown up children.

My novels can be described as dark family dramas. My aim is also to write accessible, gripping stories, so there are strong elements of mystery and secrets to be uncovered. I do extensive research for my novels as within the novels I explore difficult subjects such as addiction and abusive relationships

‘Free to Be Tegan’ was my debut novel and was inspired by my experiences growing up in a religious sect. The second novel ‘Hidden Chapters’ is about motherhood adoption and family secrets. I set my third novel on Mottistone Down here on the Isle of Wight, and the title of that is ‘Behind the Smile’. I have also published two books of short stories ‘Catching the Light’ and ‘Making Changes’. ‘Catching the Light’ is also available as an audiobook. I am working on novel number four, again set here on the Isle of Wight. To date I am a self-published, Indie author.

So over to Mary:-

Which 5 pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why.

At Seventeen by Janis Ian. Janis Ian said this song was terrifying write; she was completely honest and spoke from her heart. I am so grateful she found the courage to write it. This song puts into words the insecurities I experienced in my teens and made me feel I wasn’t alone.

Stayin’ Alive by the Bee Gees. I went to college having had a very sheltered upbringing in a religious sect. I had never been to a disco and so dancing on a Friday night to Stayin’ Alive had to be one of my highlights…of course with all the John Travolta moves!

Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves sung by Annie Lennox. In my late twenties and early thirties, I slowly grew in confidence. Dancing to this in my bedsit was just the best.

Thank You For The Days by Kirsty MacColl. I am sixty years this year, it sounds a lot older than I feel. My children are now in their twenties and I treasure every memory of them growing up. I feel very grateful that we all get on well, and still enjoy being together.

Look What They’ve Done To My Song by Melanie. There is a line in this song about longing to find a good book to live in. I didn’t come to writing until my fifties but the fact this song and this line in particular has been with me since my early teens, may explain why, now I am writing, I finally feel like I have come home.

Highlight 5 things (apart from family and friends) you’d find it hard to live without.

Pepper, my cocker spaniel. Working days start with a walk together, breakfast, and then he sits next to me while I write. When he thinks it’s time for a break, he puts his head on my laptop (I have learned to save my work frequently!).

Walks on Mottistone downs. Whatever the weather, most mornings I am lucky enough to walk up there with Pepper. I am usually thinking about writing or what I shall eat for lunch.

Coffee. Many cups a day.

Reading. I read different books depending on my mood. Recently I have been reading a lot of very good and gripping psychological dramas but felt in need of a brief change. So, at the moment, I am reading a very funny book by James Acaster which I kept embarrassingly laughing out loud to on the plane.

Television. I enjoy crime series like Vera and Happy Valley, also psychological dramas like Doctor Foster and Killing Eve. I also love to laugh and enjoy programmes like Veep, Modern Family, and Outnumbered.

Can you offer 5 pieces of advice you’d give to your younger self?

No one has the right to bully and frighten you.

Being chatty, laughing loudly and having opinions is fine.

It’s ok to fail. It’s ok to make mistakes, it’s ok not be the best.

Stop worrying all the time about how you look.

Learn to say no.

Tell us 5 things that most people don’t know about you.

I had an aunt and uncle who lived in Cardiff Castle (my uncle was a gatekeeper) and I used to play hide and seek in the gold room on rainy days.

When I taught in London, I lived in a council flat that was broken in to. The council put up a thin wooden plank for a door which stayed there for weeks, oh the things you don’t tell you parents in your early twenties!

I taught Deaf children and have passed my initial exams in British Sign Language.

I saw a therapist for help with my anxiety and hypervigilance.

My father had tea with Agatha Christie. I owned about thirty of her books, gave them away and have now replaced them.

What are the first 5 things you’d have on your bucket list?

Go on a tutored writing retreat.

Learn self-defence.

Learn pottery.

Go to a small but exclusive hotel in France for Christmas.

Go to New Zealand.

Thanks so much for joining us today, it was lovely to find out more about you. Pepper looks adorable and walking on the downs sounds idyllic. I’m envious of your connection to Cardiff Castle, it’s a place I’ve always wanted to visit because of it’s William Burges interiors I’m sure it’s got a fabulous history too, but that decor – wow. I suspect your Agatha Christie story is hard to beat as well. I really hope you get to achieve some (if not all of your bucket list) but with luck you’ll never need the self defence.

Mary’s Books  

Behind the Smile

Lowri is pregnant, looking forward to a new life with her lover, Simon. But her plans are shattered. She finds herself alone, her face scarred, her future uncertain
Her estranged husband, Jack, proposes they “settle” for each other, and raise Lowri’s unborn child on the Isle of Wight, in the idyllic village of Elmstone.
Lowri is befriended by Carina, the beautiful Italian woman living in Elmstone Manor, and Heather, the popular local café proprietor. However, she soon discovers that no-one is the person they appear.
What dark secrets is Heather hiding from her family and from the village?
Why is Carina desperate for Lowri to fail in her new life and prepared to go to increasingly desperate lengths to destroy her?
As she confronts her own insecurities, and faces another devastating loss, will Lowri find the courage to be proud of the person she is hiding behind the smile? Will she find true love amid the confusion and intrigue?

Hidden Chapters (my review here)

Catrin survives by denying her past. Her marriage is in crisis. She has devoted herself for eighteen years to bringing up her adopted Deaf daughter, Bethan. She is unaware that her life is about to be shattered by the appearance of the woman she has been told is dead, Bethan’s birth mother, Elizabeth. Catrin is devastated. How will Bethan react? Why has Elizabeth hidden away all these years?
Slowly and painfully, Catrin is forced to examine the web of lies and secrets from her past, the unexplained death of her ‘golden brother’, the truths about her alcoholic mother and the relationships she has now with her father and husband.
Hidden Chapters is an optimistic novel about the hope and the courage each of us can find within ourselves to own our past and take control of the next chapter of our lives. 

Free to be Tegan

Tegan, aged twenty seven, is cast out of the cult, rejected by her family and from the only life she has known. She is vulnerable and naïve but she also has courage and the will to survive. She travels to Wales, to previously unknown relations in the wild Cambrian Mountains.

Guilt and shadows from her past haunt her in flashbacks, panic attacks and a fear of the dark. However she also finds a world full of colour, love and happiness she has never known before. The wild beauty of the hills, the people she meets and the secrets slowly revealed by the cottage all provide an intriguing backdrop to Tegan’s drama.

This is the uplifting story of her journey from life in a cult to find herself and flourish in a world she has been taught to fear and abhor.

Making Changes

Four stories, four women making changes that will alter their lives for ever.

Give and Take
Days before her wedding, hairdresser Lisa has a huge row with her fiancé. He tells her she is over-reacting, so why does Lisa feel devastated? As Lisa listens to the two sides of a couple’s marital problems in the salon, she begins to find answers.

The Key
Looking at the remains of the fire in her beautiful new kitchen, Ruth is very frightened and confused. Since moving with her new husband to Worthing nothing in her life makes sense. What is happening to her?

The Right Shoes
After a devastating family tragedy, Emma moved with her minister husband and daughter to the run down seaside resort of Ruxton. She refuses to talk to anyone about it: no-one will understand. Can a new friendship and a new puppy help Emma and her family heal and make a fresh start?

Holly’s Perfect Christmas?
Holly plans her dream Christmas at an idyllic cottage in Snowdonia. However her partner’s difficult teenage daughter, ex-wife and new husband join them and then the spiteful anonymous texts start to arrive. Can Holly still have her perfect Christmas?

Catching the Light

Four women, four compelling short stories.

The New Arrival
Rachel has moved to the Isle of Wight determined to become invisible. Hiding a shameful secret she cultivates a ‘cold polite smile as effective as an electric fence.’ However, unexpectedly, into her life comes a loving, crazy, individual: Lottie the cocker spaniel. Everything is about to change.

Catching the Light
Erin thinks she has found her fairytale prince. However, the honeymoon in a remote cottage in Wales shatters the dream. For the first time in her life Erin discovers the mystical world of fairies.

Belonging
Megan works in a Theatre for the Deaf. She is Deaf. Her language is British Sign Language. One evening she meets John, who is hearing, and two worlds collide. This is the story of the struggles, joys and tears of their remarkable relationship.

The Outing
This was to be the most important day of Kay’s life. However her mission to be free from years of guilt reveals so much more than she could possibly imagine.

Also included is an excerpt from the author’s full length novel ‘Free to Be Tegan’. 
Tegan, aged twenty seven, is cast out of the cult, rejected by her family and the only life she has known. She is vulnerable and naïve but she also has courage and the will to survive. She travels to Wales, to previously unknown relations in the wild Cambrian Mountains.

You can keep in touch with Mary via social media and her website.

Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads

Website

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Today I’m delighted to introduce romantic novelist Ian Wilfred who I applaud for breaking the stereotype of  a typical ‘romance’ writer. I know that there are other male romance writers, but not all bravely publish under their real name/gender. I ‘met’ Ian on Twitter where he is always supportive and friendly and it would be lovely to say hello in real life at some stage. I will admit to being more than a little bit in love with his dog Lottie (before I discovered Jack Russells I always wanted a Westie).

Author Bio:-

Ian Wilfred is 50+ but in his head he will always be 39. He lives on the Norfolk Coast with his husband and West Highland terrier and is a member of the Romantic Novelist Association.

Ian’s debut novel ‘Putting Right The Past’ was published in 2013 and is set on the island of Tenerife. In 2017 he published ‘The Little Terrace Of Friendships’ followed by ‘Secrets We Left In Greece’ in 2018.

In 2019, Ian returned to the Greek island of Holkamos for his new book ‘My Perfect Summer In Greece’.

So over to Ian:-

Which 5 pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?

Lulu – Independence. I remember this song from holidays in the Canary Islands and it always brings back happy memories. I’m also a huge Lulu fan, she was the first really famous singer I saw in concert back in the early seventies.

Gladys Knight – The One and Only. There’s not a song I dislike by Gladys so I had to choose one and this one was sung at mine and the husband’s wedding – very special.

Shirley Bassey – The Performance Of My Life.  Another fabulous diva and this comes from one of her last albums, which is one of my cooking too albums. A glass of wine preparing dinner and Shirley blasting out is the perfect end to the day.

Kylie – I Should Be So Lucky. Not the original version but the slowed down, cut back, acoustic one – something else we chose for the wedding. That said, there are so many Kylie tracks I could have chosen for you.

Bette Midler – From A Distance. Another fabulous lady and so many songs to choose from but the words to this song are very special.

As you can see I do love my divas with perfect songs for what ever mood I’m in.

Highlight 5 things (apart from family and friends) you’d find it hard to live without.

Top of the list has to be Lottie, my Westie. As a kid I was never allowed a dog but when we moved to the Norfolk coast it was the first thing on my wish list. I would not be without her, she’s very precious.

The beach – we are very lucky, we only live a five-minute walk from the beach so apart from days when it’s raining I walk on it every day with the dog and count my blessings every day.

Cheese – what better food is there than cheese? You can keep chocolate and sweets just give me a pound of cheese and a jar of full fat mayo and I’m in heaven. The law in our house is, if there is cheese in the fridge it has to be eaten!

Books – I love my books and I expect everyone who reads your blog understands why. A life without books would be tragic.

Twitter –  well my name is Ian and I’m addicted to Twitter!  But I do set myself some rules. I don’t get involved with religion or politics, and never get into arguments. In my Twitter world everything is happy  – not enough hours in the day for negativity.

 Can you offer 5 pieces of advice you’d give to your younger self?

What would I have told a younger me this is difficult:-

Not to take life so seriously.

Have a bit more confidence.

Make sure to have a good work life balance.

Don’t worry about what other people think.

Step outside your comfort zone.

 Tell us 5 things that most people don’t know about you.

In my two Greek books set on the island of Holkamos (which is a made up island), when you read the place and descriptions of the island they are very, very similar to Parga.

I once lived and worked on Jersey, in the Channel Islands.

I worked in a hotel in the UK that had dozens of actors staying most nights – if only those hotel rooms could talk! Though I did know some of their secrets.

The older I get the less TV I watch. I can’t watch anything with shouting, arguing or fighting  – in my world everything is a song and a dance.

Before I go to sleep I have an imaginary list that I have to check off in my head. I move  things that haven’t been done on to the following day’s list. I do get teased about this from family and friends.

What are the first 5 things you’d have on your bucket list?

I don’t really have a bucket list. I suppose the big thing was to move to the coast which we did five years ago, but,  if I had an endless pot of money to keep spending:-

I would love to charter a huge ship for family and friends and spend a long summer sailing around the beautiful Greek Islands. Sunshine, fabulous food, lots of laughs and a smashing tan

Also it would be lovely to have a nice house on a Greek island, with a sea view of course.

Something else that would be rather nice if money was in great supply would be to fly around the world to see all the big divas performing live on stage Barbara Streisand,  Celine Dion, Bette Midler, and Diana Ross.  I could go on and on.

Thank you so much for letting me be on Five on Friday Jill.  I think to sum me up is quite simple, I love to walk the dog on the beach, eat vast amounts of cheese and love listening to all the big divas sing. Add some red wine to that and Mr Wilfred is in a very happy place.

Thanks so much for joining us Ian, it’s been great discovering more about you. Your avoidance of conflict and love of life just confirms what a kind person you are. The world would be a much better place, if more people were the same. Here’s hoping you one day come into money so you get the chance to see your divas or move to Greece. On the other hand, I suspect you’d still be quite happy with your family and friends, books, Lottie and a nice hunk of cheese. 

Ian’s Books

(Click on the image for a non-affiliated buying link) 

My Perfect Summer in Greece

Family Friendships and New Beginnings.Cheryl is excited her sister Julie has asked for her help in organising her wedding but things aren’t turning out the way Cheryl had hoped. There’s going to be no little village church and no bridesmaids dress; the wedding is taking place on the Greek island of Holkamos.Vangelis has the perfect beach location for a wedding but his little beach cafe has never catered for weddings before. Will he be able to cope with all of Julie’s demands?Andréas has moved back to Holkamos to help run the family gift shop after the death of his father. The business has to move with the times but will his mum allow things to change?Johnny is Cheryl’s best friend. He doesn’t like the way Julie treats her and has a plan to put things right but is it the right thing for Cheryl and what happens when they both arrive on the Greek island. Could it become more than just a weekend wedding for Cheryl and Johnny?

Secrets We Left in Greece

Treasured memories and hidden secrets follow three generations returning to their favourite holiday destination – the beautiful Greek island of Holkamos – after a long absence.

Every year, Miriam, her daughter, Heather, and young granddaughter Amy would spend the long summer holidays enjoying the picturesque scenery, visiting local landmarks and integrating with the local community. However, life had moved on, and now with Amy having grown up, married and set up her own business, Miriam suddenly decided to take her family back to this idyllic holiday location.

This news brought back poignant memories for all three of them. Thoughts of love and romance combined with dilemmas, choices and a cocktail of emotions would force life to never be quite the same again.

Is it always wise to revisit memorable locations? Should the past remain in the past?

Learn how Miriam, Heather and Amy all confront their secret fears.

Discover whether previous friendships and relationships stand the test of time.

Add in the intriguing stories of newcomers whose lives intertwine with the family trio. and how events of the past, present and future merge to form unexpected outcomes..

Goodbye, No More Excuses

Caroline and Paul had been married for 20 years. Although they loved each other as much as the day they first met, their relationship had run into problems and Caroline knew she couldn’t continue with it any longer.

Leo is Caroline’s flamboyant gay friend who helps her to make a new start. Before long they become the talk of Norfolk and the hot new people to know.

Paul is devastated to lose Caroline and knows that if he wants to win her back he must change certain things in his life.

When John, George and Ringo enter their lives it’s not just their careers that are on the up, but romance also comes knocking at the door.

A Secret Visitor to Saltmarsh Quay

A warm welcome to Saltmarsh Quay!

Devel Devonshire is a famous Hollywood actress and has been for forty plus years. Recently life started to change for her. Why is she in England, hiding at Saltmarsh Quay, and what is her big secret?

David was recently divorced from his wife, who left him for one of his best friends. He should be sad but he isn’t as he has another love in his life; the five star hotel he manages in Norfolk.

Saltmarsh Cliff is one of the top Hotels in Norfolk but life for the staff and the hotel is going to change forever. Or is it?

One actress
One hotel
Two secrets

Putting Right the Past

Carole Harding is in her 50s. She divorced her husband after he cheated on her with a prostitute. She hated her life – working in a Bristol supermarket – and the only exciting thing she’d done was to go on holiday (to Scotland in a caravan).

Then she inherited 2 million pounds.

Now she lives in an apartment in a plush complex in Tenerife, but it seems all her neighbours have problems and Carole finds herself helping to change their lives…

Nadean is the actress who hit the headlines and had to go into hiding; Victoria, a model, why did her family turn against her? Hamilton spent his life traveling the world, earning so much money, but was so lonely; Riley gave up everything for love… Then there are Peter and Paul, who only seem to be happy when having a crisis and Jeremy – who has secrets from his wife and from the law.

As Carole gets involved with the lives of her neighbours, she blossoms into the woman she’d always longed to be… when she meets Robson, can Carole make the biggest transformation of her life?

The Little Terrace of Friendships

Maggie Hosking is in her early sixties, and she lived in Devon with a husband who never worked and took her for granted. But now Maggie is going to have an adventure of a lifetime taking her to London, New York and Martha’s Vineyard.

All her working life Maggie has been a cleaner in hotels and private homes. Maggie cleaned for actress Helen Heacham’s parents until their deaths, when Helen moved Maggie up to London to take care of her home. Helen lives in a beautiful terrace in Kensington along with famous and not so famous neighbours. Actors, writers, models and businessmen; they all seem to need a cleaner and that’s when Maggie’s adventure starts.

It’s not just Maggie’s life that’s changing but big things are happening for the other residents in the terrace; success, romance and fraud, but most of all friendship.

You can keep up to date with Ian via Twitter

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I was lucky enough to be nominated again this year and feel very honoured. The change in categories means that all book bloggers are now in one category. As we only had one nomination each, it also means that many wonderful bloggers may have missed out. I know you’ll all have your favourite book blogs, and because we are all ‘battling’ it out between each other, it will make it harder for voters to choose. However, if anyone feels they could vote for me it would be very much appreciated.
The link at the end will take you through to the voting page. The best Book/Review Blog is down at the end of the list and you just scroll down to find Jill’s Book Cafe.
Good luck to all the nominees, in all categories. I know that for me, just being nominated is a prize in itself.
You can vote for your favourite here.
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Today I’m delighted to feature another debut novelist, Richard Lumsden. I was fortunate to meet Richard earlier this year and was somewhat starstruck. Some of the more eagle-eyed among you will probably recognise Richard from his many and varied stage and screen appearances. Based on the reception that his debut novel – The Six Loves of Billy Binns – received, and knowing he has more in the pipeline, I suspect Richard will have to get pretty adept at juggling between writing and acting going forward.

Author bio:-

Born in Manchester & brought up in Derbyshire, Richard has worked as an actor in tv, film & theatre for over 30 years. Leading roles in tv series include ‘First Of The Summer Wine’, ‘Sharp End’, ‘Is It Legal’, ‘Wonderful You’, ‘Sugar Rush’ and ‘Millie InBetween’. He has performed in over 30 theatre productions, most recently appearing in ‘White Teeth’ in London. Films include ‘Sense And Sensibility’, ‘Sightseers’, ‘Downhill’ and ‘Darkest Hour’. He is about to start shooting ‘The Singapore Grip’ for ITV.

Writing work includes the 7 hour drama ‘Wonderful You’ for ITV and six verse plays for Radio 4. His debut novel ‘The Six Loves Of Billy Binns’ is published in hardback by Tinder Press. Richard also recorded the audiobook for his novel.

Richard lives in London and has two sons. He is currently finishing a second draft of his next novel.

So over to Richard

Which 5 pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?

DAVID BOWIE – ‘SWEET THING / CANDIDATE’ from Diamond Dogs.
I could have chosen so many Bowie songs, but this is dramatic, cool, mysterious and sexy.
Bowie’s voice is astonishing. I was a teenage obsessive and still playing all his records now. Station To Station is probably my favourite album, but that can change on a daily basis.

PREFAB SPROUT – ‘CRUEL’ from Swoon.
In my opinion, the best pop song, written by the best pop songwriter of all time –  Paddy
McAloon. I borrowed this album from Bakewell library when it came out in 1984 and struggled to like it at first. As a musician myself I couldn’t work out his chord progressions. I still can’t. Three plays back-to-back and I was in love with it, and I’ve stayed that way ever since. All Prefab Sprout albums are works of art, but Swoon will always be special.

TALKING HEADS – ‘ONCE IN A LIFETIME’ from Remain In Light
It’s not nearly 40 years old, is it? Odd and timeless and fresh as a daisy. It shouldn’t be this beautiful but it just is. And you will ask yourself, how did I get here… Those weird verses and the searing chorus. Haunting and ethereal, same as it ever was.

TALK TALK – ‘AFTER THE FLOOD’ from Laughing Stock.
Ok, so I wrote a novel about an old man trying to remember what love feels like. This piece of music is what I wanted my book to be like. It’s another song I’ve been listening to all my adult life. Mark Hollis’s oblique vocal takes you on a journey to the depths of a broken heart.The music is closer to jazz, but it pins you down and doesn’t let up. Turn the lights off, lie still on the floor and give yourself over to it. Halfway through, the beautiful track gets ripped up by a distorted drone that rattles your head and shows you what a broken heart really sounds like.

CHAKA KHAN – AIN’T NOBODY
I’d rather not to spend my evening dancing (thanks for asking), but this is the one song
impossible to resist getting up for when it comes on.

Highlight 5 things (apart from family and friends) you’d find it hard to live without.

I’m not sure if this is a materialistic question, or should I be saying ‘peace & harmony, good health, the love of friends… ’ as three of my five? Let’s take the holistic stuff as read and go for material objects, mainly because it’s more fun:

A beautiful 1970s Hohner acourstic guitar given to me by my American friend Jane when
she went back to the States after college. We had dinner a couple of months ago and I could tell her it’s still lovingly played.

Two paintings by Lincolnshire and Scottish artists (Stephen Newton & David Morrison)
whose works I love. I’ve bought a small number of paintings over the years and each one
gives me a lot of pleasure. I don’t have a car, so I figure I’m allowed to buy the occasional
piece of art.

Red wine. I have 3 or 4 days every week without any alcohol. Today was meant to be one of them, but I started answering these questions this evening and couldn’t resist finishing a bottle left open at the weekend.

My laptop for writing. If I had a typewriter, like Billy Binns, I’d probably give up. And my
handwriting’s terrible so no one would be able to read what I’d written.

Is it weird that my Filofax still feels so very pleasing to hold?

Can you offer 5 pieces of advice you’d give to your younger self?

You will only regret the things you don’t do.

Despite trying hard at school, your inability to do exams well wont matter in the future.

The orange hoodie looks good, but that mustard yellow jumper against your sallow teenage complexion is a disaster.

You will have the best friends you could wish for.

Stop kidding yourself before a lie becomes its own distorted version of the truth.

Tell us 5 things that most people don’t know about you.

I enjoy privacy and solitude, which I shouldn’t really be admitting now because it defeats
the object.

I gave up caffeine 15 years ago.

I once learned how to Morris dance for a feature film, and really enjoyed it.

My friend Paul told me I think too much, and I know he’s right but I don’t know what to
do about it.

I’m actually much better looking than most people think I am. (see answer no 5 in ‘advice
to younger self’).

What are the first 5 things you’d have on your bucket list?

Visit Japan

Northern Lights

Another walk around Stanton Moor – my favourite place in the world.

Last meal: Skate wing with capers and black butter and a pile of hot crispy chips.

Tell all those I love that I love them.

o-o-0-o-o

Thanks for joining us today Richard, it’s been lovely to discover more about you and we appreciate you letting us intrude on your privacy. Apologies for being responsible for having you fall off the wagon as a result of completing these questions.  I very much concur with your advice to your younger self, in that you will only regret the things you don’t do. On that note I hope you get to achieve your bucket list thereby giving you 5 less things to regret. 

The Six Loves of Billy Binns by Richard Lumsden

(Click on image for non-affiliated buying link)

I remember my dreams but not where they start.
Further back, I recall some of yesterday and the day before that. Then everything goes into a haze.
Fragments of memories come looming back like red London buses in a pea-souper.
Time plays funny tricks these days.
I wait for the next memory. I wait and I wait.

At 117 years old, Billy Binns is the oldest man in Europe and he knows his time is almost up. But Billy has a final wish: he wants to remember what love feels like one last time. As he looks back at the relationships that have shaped his flawed life – and the events that shaped the century – he recalls a life full of hope, mistakes, heartbreak and, above all, love.

Follow Richard via:-

Twitter

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