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Suzy Henderson Writer

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suzy39

I write historical fiction, romance, and dabble in poetry. My debut novel, The Beauty Shop was published as an ebook in November 2016 and is now available in paperback. At present, I'm working on my next novel which is also set during WW2. Books and writing are my life alongside my family, two labradors and the stunning scenery of Cumbria, my home region.

Waltzing to the Tune of the Past: A Guest Post by Author Pam Lecky

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This week I have the pleasure of author Pam Lecky, who has written a beautiful piece about the story and the inspiration behind her latest release, In Three-Quarter Time, a historical WW1 romance.

If you have ever spent time digging around in your family history, you will know how addictive it can be. Like Sherlock Holmes, you start to chase down the tiniest clue you find. Unfortunately, Irish records are notoriously difficult to find back beyond 1880 or so. Our census records were destroyed by fire during the Irish Civil War and although we were technically still part of the British Isles at the time, no copies appear to have been kept in the UK. Every time I think about it I want to cry.

So it was a very lucky break when my only surviving uncle casually dropped a gem of information. My grandfather had first dated my great aunt. She died of TB while he was in America and on his return he hooked up with my grandmother. Unfortunately, that was all anyone knew about it but the writer in me just couldn’t let it be. Needless to say, I didn’t unearth any further details but constantly found myself thinking about how it might have been. My short story, In Three-Quarter Time, is the result. It is ninety-nine percent fiction of course, but I guess it gave me a sense of closure.

Here is a little extract to tempt you!

Dublin was wilting in an Indian summer. To the west, a bank of steel grey cloud hung low on the horizon and the air was heavy with the promise of a storm. Lily looked up at the raucous gulls wheeling above the Liffey and wrinkled her nose at the strong and disagreeable smell wafting up from the water. The quays were never a pleasant place to linger on a hot day but they were waiting at the tram stop for Anthony. They had arranged to accompany him to Kingsbridge Station where he would board the train for Queenstown and from there the boat to America.

It was a busy Saturday afternoon and the cobbles echoed to the sound of horse hooves and the rattle and hiss of trams. Josie paced up and down, her cheeks pinched and pale, her eyes scanning the sluggish stream of pedestrians going about their business.

“Could we have missed him?” Josie asked. She checked her watch again. “It’s already a quarter to.”

Lily changed position and wished she had worn more comfortable shoes. As she turned, she caught a glimpse of herself in the window of McBirney’s Department Store. Her reflection did nothing to improve her mood. Her hair clung in damp curls to the side of her face and the cream linen suit, which had seemed an excellent choice that morning, was looking limp and sadly wrinkled. She was no beauty, like Josie, but she prided herself on always looking her best. She straightened her hat, tucked a stray red curl behind her ear and turned back towards Josie.

“I imagine he has been delayed saying goodbye to his family,” she said, trying to hide her impatience.

Josie gave her an apologetic smile. “Of course, that would be it – his mother is too unwell to travel to the station to see him off.” She resumed her pacing. Lily wished Josie didn’t always wear her heart on her sleeve. A little dignity would not go amiss.

Author Bio

dsc_0145-2Pam Lecky is an Irish writer of historical fiction with a particular love of the late Victorian era/early 20th Century. She is a busy working mum with three children, a dog and two cats! Yes, life is hectic.

She has a particular fascination with all things 19th century, from food and clothes to architecture and social history.

Her debut novel, The Bowes Inheritance, was published in 2015 and was shortlisted for the Carousel Aware Prize 2016; made ‘Editor’s Choice’ by the Historical Novel Society; long-listed for the Historical Novel Society 2016 Indie Award; and chosen as a Discovered Diamond in February 2017.

She has just published a short story set in her native Dublin, In Three-Quarter Time. It is a love story set against the backdrop of WW1.

Find out more about Pam here:

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Buy The Bowes Inheritance here at Amazon

Buy In Three-Quarter Time here at Amazon

 

The whole world in His hands

Brilliant article by author Anna Belfrage.

ANNA BELFRAGE

bartolome_esteban_perez_murillo_008 The Holy family, Murillo

Lately, I’ve been pondering the word “Christian”. Not Christian as in “yes, I belong to the Christian faith”, more Christian in “I am a Christian” (with a lot of emphasis on the italicised word) , which, as far as I can tell, means the person in question goes to church regularly and studied his/her bible frequently. This in difference to those who are of the Christian denomination by rote, eg they were baptized as Christians but don’t have their lives revolving around their faith. Now, before I go any further, there are a lot of active Christians out there (some of which I count as dear friends) who are very good people – which is fortunate, seeing as anyone defining themselves as “Christian first” have a lot to live up to.

You see, if a person presents themselves as “Christian”, my expectations on that person…

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Spotlight on M.C.V. Egan & New Release Death of a Sculptor.

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It’s a pleasure to host you here today, M.C.V. Egan. Welcome. To get warmed up, can you please tell us about the premise of Death of a Sculptor.

Thank you very much for inviting me. Death of a Sculptor is a murder mystery in which the reader sees the story from a variety of points of view. It is divided into three parts; Bruce’s Loves, Bruce’s Children and Two Years Later.

The book begins with Bruce Jones; a world-renowned sculptor’s funeral. It explores the relationships of those who loved Bruce, with each other and with Bruce.

You started out originally as a historical novelist with your debut, The Bridge of Deaths. Since then, you’ve crossed genres, becoming recognised as a multi-genre author. How do you find switching between writing about the past and the present?

Aside from Sci-Fi or Fantasy where I would be obliged to create actual worlds, I would like to think that I am capable of writing in any subject I find interesting. The Bridge of Deaths does have a huge modern day angle, as I do like contemporary, but it revolves around the research of a 1939 plane crash.

I may someday try a full historical as I’ve spent so much time researching the 1930s and I am fascinated by the era.

What sort of research did you have to do for this book?

Death of a Sculptor is a suburban women’s fiction. It takes place in South Florida, which I have been calling home for almost 30 years. It did not involve much research other than a few poisons to decide how to murder Bruce and play on not being too obvious.

What inspired you to write the story?

I married young the first time. I was married for five years and divorced. Through friends of my youth, I knew that my first husband had married several/many times after our failed five-year marriage. I joked that he must have a marriage/love shelf life.

Out of the blue, a couple of years ago, he contacted me via e-mail. He actually found me through The Bridge of Deaths! He wrote me a long and complicated e-mail, one that beckoned a proper answer. My initial reaction was not a kind and positive one. That very day I attended a writer’s workshop led by Deborah Sharp ( http://deborahsharp.com/ ) as part of the workshop we were given a writing prompt; a funeral.

It was very cathartic to kill (on paper) my first husband and attend his funeral, and I imagined myself walking into a service where all his ex-wives were present. The piece I wrote for the workshop got a good response. They especially liked my phrase “The ex-wives’ pew” I thought it was going to be a short story but then I started giving all the ex-wives a personality…

Today my ex and I are very good cyber buddies and I wish him the very best. I never imagined when we divorced in 1986 that we would ever be friends.

As the story grew, it was no longer about Lars but to give it an interesting edge I decided to murder Bruce; Lars, by the way, was not a sculptor. I chose that because I wanted to give the character a huge tell in his infidelities; as far as I know my first husband was not unfaithful, and the spark that ignited the idea, was simply that, a spark.

Do you have a favourite scene?

I do. I particularly like the scene when Bruce’s ashes are cast to sea. I have had a bit of feedback on that one from readers.

Which authors do you feel have influenced you the most?

I feel all authors have influenced me. Some to realize my limitations, I cannot imagine creating a world as Sci-Fi or Fantasy authors do. Some authors to aspire to in storyline: I absolutely love W. Somerset Maugham and so many others whose work I deeply admire.

There are many Indie authors I have come to admire and learn so much from. I am very fortunate to live in Palm Beach County Florida, where I get to take workshops from a wide variety of fabulous authors.

Would you share an outline of a typical writing day for you.

I am unfortunately not that organized. I had very little opportunity to write last year and I am trying to get back on track. I have a wonderful writing coach, Prudy Taylor Board, and belong to a critique group where we meet twice a month. I do wish to find a good writing discipline and structure, but my life the last couple of years has been rather unstructured I am afraid.

If you could have dinner with any author(s), living or deceased, who would it be?

So hard to choose. There are so many. So I will dream the impossible and choose W. Somerset Maugham.

What are you working on next?

I am working on Novellas as based on each character from Death of a Sculptor. I am now working with a fabulous writing coach and have more than one project going.

Thank you so much for giving us such a wonderful insight into your writing and your books, Catalina. I wish you all the very best with the new release and continued success in the future.

 

EXCERPT from DEATH of a SCULPTOR

In Hue, Shape and color © M.C.V. EGAN

Mary: Wife No. 1

Thunder, lightning and rain, that was what we had at our wedding. However, on the day of his funeral, the Florida heat and humidity made my face shiny with perspiration. My hair looked like a dark Brillo pad. My children requested I attend the funeral of my first husband. Bruce Jones, the world-renowned sculptor.

The parking lot was already packed with an unexpected variety of cars. I then realized that it was not peak season. The South Florida snowbirds are attached to their cars and they migrate with them back and forth each year.

I noticed a police car and a uniformed man by the entrance. Even for Bruce a bit much; however, since 9/11 security has been tight everywhere.

The valet attendant opened my rental car door. “Welcome ma’am. Your daughter is waiting for you.”

“Thank you. Please make sure you keep the car in the shade. August Florida heat and sun are not my friends.”  I pulled a five-dollar bill from my purse to tip him, but he shook his head and mumbled, “No, thank you.”  After all It was Palm Beach. I probably should have pulled out a twenty.

I was surprised that the building looked like an actual church, at least from the outside. The church had a long name. It was Universal something or other; apparently, a place of worship with neither affiliation nor strictures. Bruce’s life had, after all, been too outré to pretend he followed any conventional religious norm.

“Thanks for coming, mom.” Clair’s voice shouldn’t have surprised me, but I stood still, focused on carefully dabbing my shiny nose. I clicked the compact shut, smiled and answered, “Anything for you and Aaron sweetheart.” She nodded as she guided me where to sit. It was toward the back of the church; the ex-wives’ pew.

“Please mom, don’t look at me that way. This funeral is a time for forgiveness and closure.”

Clair always found a way to get me to do whatever she wanted. The last thing I wanted was to be in the company of the women sitting there. I touched my frizzy hair, regretting my rejection of the keratin treatment.

Wife number two, Leslie, was the first to say hello. “Mary, you look lovely. It’s been years.”

“It has, thankfully,” I replied. The other two simply nodded, and I nodded back. Leslie, the one Bruce left me for, handed me a packet of tissues and winked. Forcing a smile, I took them. The idea that she assumed I planned to cry had not crossed my mind. I pulled the compact out of my purse again to check my makeup; it looked fine. Through the mirror I saw the reflection of the fifth and last Mrs. Bruce Jones, the widow. She was standing waiting for the ushers. I shook my head in disbelief. There next to Brooke was the coffin. The ushers waited with the coffin for the minister’s signal. It had images of Bruce’s artwork. Digital photography makes it possible to decorate anything in living color. Some of the images were blocked from my view by the ushers, but not mine. There I was paraded as a nude sketch. Each one of Bruce’s loves had a color and mine was pink. It was kitsch…even worse, it was downright tasteless.

Bruce had a type. We all had brown hair, and pretty faces with full lips and straight noses. The eye color varied as did our size and build. His type was limited to our physiognomy.   I clicked the compact shut, and the other ex-wives faced me, startled by the sound. I shrugged with a coy apologetic smile. Look at the five of us; he had a type.

Bruce’s love also had a shelf life. He took the seven-year-itch need to scratch very literally. Some marriages were shorter, because sometimes the divorces got complicated and his new loves always overlapped with the old. Public or private, his relationships always lasted seven years.

I was nineteen when I first walked into his classroom. He was tall and muscular. I felt a tingle at the base of my neck when I saw his back, as if somehow I already knew. When he turned to face me, I was gone and completely in love. I fell in love with Bruce and the sculpture next to him all at once.  I soon learned he made love in a way no other man did─not that I was very experienced then─Bruce traced every inch of my body with every part of his. At twenty-four, he already made a good living from his sculptures, but teaching remained his passion. As he grew older and wealthier, he taught short workshops in different parts of the world. His last one had been just a few months before his untimely death. He was after all, only sixty-two.

It was clear by the careful shape of his sculptures that he knew the shape of my legs, ankles, feet, and every other part of my body. His sculpture venues varied, his talent knew no boundaries. Bruce loved and sculpted as instinctively as the rest of us breathe. Whoever inherited the rights to his art would be wise to market his sketches as limited edition lithographs. Bruce liked to keep those private, but he always added color to the sketches in a way that made them works of art unto themselves. Bruce was as gifted with hue and color as he was with shapes. Those were the sketches that someone had the poor taste to use for the coffin. As the ushers moved around I heard the reactions of the other ex-wives, a blend of gasps and giggles. We recognized all the shapes and colors.

Focused on raising our children, I had not noticed when the sculptures started to change. That was when Leslie entered the picture. Bruce may not have planned to divorce me, or at least for years I tried to believe that, but then Leslie got pregnant.

Our marriage, his first as well, was the longest marriage, it lasted ten years. Three of those, Bruce had spent loving Leslie, but playing house with me. His marriage to Leslie was far shorter. I could tell by the sculptures he had loved her for seven years. We all met him through his art in one way or another. Wife number three, Petra, worked in an art gallery. Although not an artist she was very involved with his work. I derived great pleasure from the public scandal when he hurt Leslie that way, leaving her for a mere merchant. By then Bruce had a name, an art, and a face that was recognized everywhere. Leslie had ended my marriage, so curiosity as to who had ended hers interrupted my life for a time. Hers was the only one of Bruce’s love stories I followed carefully, aside from my own.

Aside from relishing in Leslie’s pain, his personal life did not pique my interest. I knew my children were always respected and old enough to voice concern if anyone mistreated them.  I could not remember if it was the third or fourth wife who was the only one of us who did not have children with Bruce.

Chopin’s somber Marche Funèbre snapped me back to the moment. The elaborate coffin encasing Bruce’s body had been placed on a movable catafalque. The catafalque with squeaky wheels carried Bruce’s body in a guided procession down the aisle. He was always a large man and had managed to become larger as he aged. His appetite for food and drink superseded all his other appetites.

Leslie whispered in my ear, “She doesn’t look sad.”

Glancing over at the person in question, I nodded in agreement. The widow could not be described as grieving. Grief is, of course, different in all of us. The body language of grief, though, is universal; the defeated, slumped shoulders, head bowed, tears flowing. Leslie was right. The widow was crying, but they almost looked like tears of relief.

A montage of Bruce’s works on a screen at the side of the altar shaped in a semicircle created the focal point. The aisle inclined and my pew toward the back provided a good vantage point. The incline was slight, but pronounced enough to give those of us in the back a full view. The ushers seemed to be holding back the coffin so it would not speed down the aisle. The wheels continued to squeak. Bruce would have hated this. The minister or priestess─I am not sure what title this universal church gave them,─had a very unpleasant voice and thus was difficult to listen to. No voice, even a pleasant one, could compete with Bruce’s art. For all the rotten things I would be happy to tell you about Bruce Jones, his art was not something anyone could criticize. Even the most prestigious critics raved about his talent and his work.

The slides were in chronological order. The memory and pain from the sting of betrayal flooded me as it had twenty-eight years earlier. I could see Leslie through the corner of my eye and the blush that betrayed her shame.

As wife number two, she had been party to betrayal because she too had been betrayed. I know Leslie grew to love my children very much. I guess she saw me as an extension of that love in some ways. I felt terrible. I had been so curt.

My hand reached to her shoulder in a gesture of solidarity and forgiveness when the images on the screen segued to show the shape of ex-wife number three. My heart ached for Leslie because we had similar builds, and many would not have been able to distinguish when Bruce transitioned from sculpting my body to sculpting hers.

Ex-wife number three, Petra─a very tall woman, with long slender limbs─had a body that blatantly displayed the transition from Leslie to her replacement. The unquestionable change in shape left no doubt Bruce’s affections had shifted again.  Leslie, pregnant with her second child at the time, lost the baby to grief, a loss I also knew well.

At that point, I did need the tissues Leslie had given me, but I was shedding tears for her, not for Bruce. I miscarried a child with my second husband. I understood her pain and sense of loss. Mine, too, was the last child, the child I never had.

Bruce never sculpted pregnant women. Consequently, wife number three, the one who had never been pregnant had seven years that boasted more sculptures than the rest of us. At the seven-year mark, Bruce’s transition into a new love story, a new model. Petra’s telltale sobs showed her grasp of Bruce’s tell. After all, loving Bruce was a gamble. The change of model in the sculpture showed his change of heart. Petra was from a foreign country, I never paid much attention where. My kids interacted with her, and she welcomed them with kindness. In tandem, Leslie and I passed her the tissues.

Petra took both tissues we offered and her lips moved in a quiet whisper; the words were obviously meant for Leslie, though I could discern they were, “I am sorry”

My daughter, Clair, had always lived up to the dual meanings of her name; clear and famous. Clair could see things with great clarity, and she could convey them as such. I could only assume that she knew the ex-wives belonged together, ‘for closure and forgiveness’ as she had said.

Clair’s modeling career had started in her teens at her insistence; she was not pushed nor did anyone suggest she should model. She knew she was very attractive, and she knew she could convey her beauty and charm to an audience, a photographer, a camera.

Her modeling spun into acting. She was as natural on a screen as on a stage. It came to her with ease, though she was happy to take classes and learn. My Aaron is also successful, but he is a behind-the-scenes sort of person. I took great pride in knowing that I had always been a good mother. I had known how to allow my children to forge their own paths.

Not everything in my life succeeded, but I was a success at being a mother. I recognized Bruce’s love shelf life because I had one of my own, with a trail of the remains of ended marriages or relationships. Mine perhaps more impressive than Bruce’s.

I guess Bruce might have been the love of my life. But now in my mid-fifties, I questioned whether a spouse or companion had any viable use?  I loved art, my passion, and although my work is not as popular or renowned as Bruce’s, I have achieved a certain level of success.

 

Buy Links:

Kindle – Amazon.com

Paperback – Amazon.com

Kindle – Amazon.co.uk

Paperback – Amazon.co.uk

 

About M.C.V. Egan13995651_1033535316742128_7375832216585181059_o

M.C.V. Egan is the pen name chosen by Maria Catalina Vergara Egan, the author of The Bridge of Deaths. Catalina was born in Mexico City, Mexico in 1959, the sixth of eight children, in a traditional Catholic family. From a very young age, she became obsessed with the story of her maternal Grandfather, Cesar Agustin Castillo, mostly the story of how he died. She only spent her childhood in Mexico. Her father became an employee of The World Bank in Washington D.C. From the early 1970s at the age of 12, she moved with her entire family to the United States.

Catalina was already fluent in Southern English as she had spent one school year in the town of Pineville, Louisiana with her grandparents. There she won the English award; ironically being the only one who had English as a second language in her class. In the D.C. suburbs, she attended various private Catholic schools and graduated from Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, Maryland in 1977.

She attended Montgomery Community College, where she changed majors every semester. She also studied in Lyons, France at the Catholic University for two years. In 1981, due to an impulsive young marriage to a Viking (The Swedish kind, not the football player kind)  Catalina moved to Sweden where she resided for five years and taught at a language school for Swedish, Danish, and Finnish business people. She returned to the USA where she has been living ever since. She is fluent in Spanish, English, French and Swedish.

Maria Catalina Vergara Egan is married and has one son, who together with their five-pound Chihuahua make her feel like a full-time mother.   Although she would not call herself an Astrologer she has taken many classes and taught a few beginner classes in Astrology. This is one of her many past times when she is not writing or researching.

 

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New Release & Interview With Author Jennifer Young

Today I’m honoured to have my friend and fellow author Jennifer Young here to talk about writing and her latest release. 

Welcome, Jennifer. It’s a pleasure to have you here today and congratulations on the release of your latest novel, Blank Space

Can you tell us which book has influenced you the most? 

I’m not conscious of being particularly influenced by any one book, but if I have to choose one, it’ll be Miss Smilla’s Feeling For Snow, by Peter Hoeg. The writing is extraordinarily strong and, although it’s years since I read it, I still have several lines from it stuck in my head. And the ending haunts me.

What’s the most beautiful book you possess?

Oh, oh, oh! I don’t have beautiful books: they’re all read to pieces. So I’m going to go for one with some beautiful photographs in it: a travel guide to Iceland.

What was your favourite book as a child?

I loved The Lord of the Rings, which is strange because I’m not at all a fan of fantasy novels. My mother read it to my sister and myself when we were too young to read it for ourselves, and I think the storytelling is very strong and the writing vivid. I’m also fascinated by the many influences in the book, particularly from the Norse sagas.

Can you describe your writing process?

I don’t really have a process, as such: it depends what I’m doing. Broadly speaking I do my chores in the morning and think about writing while I’m doing them, then try and make space to write for a few hours in the afternoon. In reality, there are periods when I don’t write at all, and if I’m feeling inspired I can sit down and write all day. It depends what’s in my head at the time.

What advice can you give to writers at the beginning of their journey?

It is a journey (though one that never ends), and you’ll make progress, though sometimes it’ll feel slow. Surround yourself with other writers, who make wonderful fellow travellers. And enjoy every step of the way.

What is the most moving book you have ever read?

I’m going to go back to Miss Smilla’s Feeling For Snow, for exactly the reason as I gave above. The ending will never leave me, and every time I’m walking on snow I find myself thinking of it.

If you could have dinner with any writer(s), living or dead, who would you choose and why?

I’d love to meet Beatrix Potter, especially if she could host me in Hill Top (her home in the Lake District). I love the Lakes just as she did. I sense that she inhabited her fictional world almost as she did the real one, and I’d love to talk to her about that. And her books show that she had a fine, gentle sense of fun.

Are you self-published or traditionally published?

I’m what I believe these days is known as a hybrid author. I’m traditionally published by Tirgearr, a small independent (principally ebook) publisher, but I’m branching out into self-publishing with my latest book, Blank Space. It isn’t that I’m unhappy having a publisher — far from it. I just wanted to see if I could do the whole thing myself.

Which genre do you write?

I write romance, mainly contemporary and romantic suspense, though I have trespassed into women’s fiction and I’d like to try pure suspense, or even change genre completely and move to literary fiction. I go where my mind takes me — and it can take me anywhere. I’m a bit of a jack of all trades, which probably isn’t a good thing!

Please tell us about your latest published work.

Blank Space is the first in a series of romantic suspense books set in Edinburgh, featuring the radically-minded Bronte O’Hara and undercover policeman Marcus Fleming. In Blank Space, they meet when she discovers him unconscious in her kitchen, and as the series goes in their relationships develop. Their backgrounds and politics divide them and yet they continue to be drawn together with each new adventure.

Blurb:

When Bronte O’Hara finds an injured man in her kitchen in the run-up to an international political summit in Edinburgh, a world she thought she’d left behind catches up with her. When the man makes his escape, the police seem less interested in finding out where he went and how he came to be there than they are in Bronte’s past – more specifically, her ex-boyfriend, Eden Mayhew. Eden’s an anarchist, up to his neck in any trouble around — and he’s missing. The police are keen to find him, certain that he’ll come back. Who can she trust – and what has Eden’s disappearance got to do with the handsome stranger?

 

Excerpt:

My first thought, when I discovered the body on my kitchen floor, was that it was a criminal waste of an exceptionally handsome man. My second was that I’d seen him somewhere before. And even as I crossed myself, I realised. He wasn’t dead.

I dropped my bag, sending the ingredients for the evening’s supper spilling out across the floor, and fell to my knees beside him. He lay on his back, one arm thrown theatrically wide, the other clasped across the patch of scarlet which flooded his shirt. As I watched, the deep stain broadened, livid red seeping outwards from between his fingers. His thick, dark hair was glossy with blood from a separate wound to the back of his head. You didn’t need to be a doctor to see where that came from; the trickle of red on the edge of the kitchen unit gave it away. My mind raced. He’d fallen. How? Why? And what would happen next?

I must call an ambulance. Then the police. But first, I must be sure he was alive. Curiously unable to help myself, I reached out a tentative hand and touched his cheek, the almost-bloodless skin shadowed with stubble. It was warm. Under my touch, he responded, mumbled something, and opened his eyes.

To think that a near-dead face could contain eyes of such live, vigorous blue. Breathless in my alarm, I froze, my fingers still touching his cheek as we stared for a moment, each measuring the other up, each trying to make something rational from this suburban nightmare. Was he friend? Was he foe? Had I saved him or condemned him?

He decided first, in my favour. He smiled.

He didn’t fear me. That was enough to reassure me, tip my panic into irritation.

‘What the hell are you doing in my kitchen?’ I demanded, my voice breaking into the near-silence of the midsummer evening.

A breeze crept in through the open door from the back green. Next door’s cat, an incorrigibly curious tabby, poked a questioning whisker round the glass door, smelt blood, and bolted.

He tried to sit up, struggled, gave up. ‘Give me your phone,’ he said, in a voice that was stronger than it had any right to be under the circumstances. ‘I’ll call the police.’

I reached for my bag, keeping my eyes on his face as if it was possible that this pale and debilitated stranger could harm me. Though if he’d been well and strong, then yes, he could have done. If he’d wanted. ‘I’ll call them now.’

I’ll call,’ he contradicted me, a trace of impatience on his voice. ‘Don’t you have a first aid kit? Get a cloth or something. Stop the bleeding.’

I’d have argued but common sense prevailed, so I handed him my phone, stood up to fetch a clean tea towel, and dampened it under the tap. By the time I turned back, he’d manoeuvred himself into a sitting position; the grimace etched on his face showed it hadn’t been easy. He groped about on the floor, as if to see what had hurt him.

‘What happened?’ I dropped to my knees again, folding the damp tea towel between my fingers. Strange how calm you can be under pressure, but I’ve never been one to panic.

A shadow passed across those eyes, a frown across the face. ‘I don’t know.’

‘And what are you doing in my flat?’ Lifting his bloodstained shirt, I looked with care at the wound that scarred his well-muscled torso, and found that it was deep but clean. ‘I think you’ll live, but this might hurt.’

‘I can bear it,’ he muttered, but he winced as I sponged the blood away, pressing the damp cloth against his side

‘Answer my question.’ I took advantage of his pain to challenge him. ‘Who are you?’

‘Never mind.’ There was an edge to his voice, one that hadn’t been there before; the terse tone of a man who’d assessed his situation and found it more precarious than he’d first thought. He closed his left hand over my right one, a steel grip on my wrist. ‘All right, Florence Nightingale. That’s enough first aid. Where’s your car?’

‘It’s outside.’ Making the mistake of lifting my eyes from the wound, I understood then that he hadn’t called the police, or even intended to, and that he’d been reaching out for something entirely sinister. It wasn’t a big knife that I found myself staring at. It was one of the smaller ones from my set of Sabatier kitchen knives. But I knew from experience exactly how much damage that four-inch, tempered steel blade could do. ‘Don’t be stupid. You’re hurt. I could take that off you if I wanted.’

‘You could try,’ he agreed, after a second’s consideration, ‘but I wouldn’t advise it. There’s no need for a struggle, and I don’t want to hurt you.’

‘Then put it down.’ My voice dropped to a whisper. Outside, a child cried, a child that should have been in its bed. The cat meowed at next door’s window. I could call out, if I dared, and see if someone came. But I didn’t. ‘You’re hurt. You can’t go anywhere by yourself.’

‘Yes,’ he said, his voice still steady. ‘That’s true. But I can’t stay here. Because whoever did this might come back and finish me off.’

I waited a moment longer, my gaze locked onto his. I’d heard a noise when I came in, a door banging, and I’d thought nothing of it. I was too used to the interminable sounds of other people’s lives around me. Now it seemed all too possible that I hadn’t just stumbled on the outcome of a crime, but had blundered right into the middle of one and by so doing might have prevented a murder. His murder. As I stared into the eyes of this dangerous stranger, the thought that crystallised in my mind was a stark one. I didn’t want him to die.

About Jennifer:

I’m a writer. Is that enough?

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember; my first story was scribbled in pencil in a spiral bound notebook. It was called The Battle of the Black Watch and it began (something) like this: “I was woken in the early hours of the morning by my teddy bear, Thomasina, dancing a Highland fling on my tummy“.

I was eight, at most.

I read a lot when I was a child, but I wrote more. I wrote a spin-off of The Lord of the Rings, kind of prototype fan-fiction, complete with songs. I wrote about everything. In the days when you watched what was on telly because there was no choice, I watched rugby and skiing and wrote immature adventure stories about both. I went to university to study English but changed my course to do geography. At that point my stories became more heavily influenced by setting.

Then I grew up. I had to go to work, where I would jot down notes in meetings and look as if I was doing something economically sound. In fact I’d just thought of a plot point. Then I gave it all up to bring up the kids. I went to classes to keep my brain active. I went to writing classes. And someone said to me: “you should send that story off to The People’s Friend“.

I did. It was published.

I like short stories, as it happens; but my real love is novels. They allow you to develop characters and add more twists to the plot. So I moved on to writing novels. I joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers Scheme (because aspiring writers need help). I submitted and was rejected. Submitted and was rejected. Repeat ad nauseam.

In August 2013 the cycle of rejection broke and my first novel, Thank You For The Music, was accepted by Tirgearr Publishing. They’ve since taken four more. Just for the experienceI’ve self-published, Quintet: Dark Tales With a Twist,  a book of those short stories that grew from my writing class.

I’m still writing, novels and short stories. I’m still being rejected, more often than I like. But I’m still going. I blog. I write travel articles. I can’t help myself. Because writing is like life, a roller coaster ride.

Feel free to join me:

Amazon link:

https://www.amazon.com/Blank-Space-Dangerous-Friends-Book-ebook/dp/B01MFBLIY3

Book trailer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p2XfcBuRkV0&feature=youtu.be

Website http://jenniferyoungauthor.co.uk/

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/jenniferyoungauthor.

Twitter https://twitter.com/jynovelist

Book Promotion: The Beauty Shop by Suzy Henderson

Book Blurb: The Beauty Shop by Suzy Henderson England, 1942. After three years of WWII, Britain is showing the scars. But in this darkest of days, three lives intertwine, changing their dest…

Source: Book Promotion: The Beauty Shop by Suzy Henderson

A Conversation With Author Mary Anne Yarde

Today I’m delighted to welcome my friend and best-selling author of the Du Lac Chronicle Series, Mary Anne Yarde, who has dropped by to share her views of her life as an author.

mary-anne-yarde-head-shot

Welcome, Mary Anne. It’s a pleasure to have you here with us today.

Can you tell us which book has influenced you the most?

Book? Surely you mean books! As soon as I learnt to read, I had my nose stuck in a book. I was lucky that I had a much older sister, so I inherited all her hand-me-down books, which caused no end of arguments. My sister was very particular about her books. No bent pages, no cracked spines, they had to look like new…always. In fact, even now, how she reads a book is a mystery to me, they all look like they have just come off the shelves of a bookstore. Unfortunately, that all went out the window when I got my hands on them. Very soon they were dog-eared, with occasional notes in the margin. Scandal!

By the time I hit eleven, my sister’s bedroom was better than the local library, and I would sneak in and help myself to her growing collection of Mills and Boon Romance novels. Needless to say, I learnt a lot from those books!

In 1995 a book came out that touched me deep inside in a way no other book had. I was a teen, and my boyfriend was going away on a school camp for a week. I was more than a little miserable as I faced the trauma of being apart from him! He took me shopping, I guess he wanted to cheer me up, and we ended up in a bookstore — no surprise there! There was a book near the front that caught my attention. It was Nicholas Evan’s debut novel. I am sure most people have heard of The Horse Whisperer, it was made into a film starring Robert Redford, but let’s not talk about that. The Horse Whisperer is, in my opinion, one of the truest accounts of human emotions that I have ever read. Guilt, Anger, Pain, Jealousy, Compassion, this book has it all, but above everything else, The Horse Whisper is about Love. I ignored my boyfriend for the rest of the day while I read The Horse Whisper in one sitting — I don’t think that was quite what he had in mind when he bought it for me. Even now, after reading a countless number of books, The Horse Whisper still does it for me. When I read it, it feels like coming home. As for the boyfriend, he forgave me, and a couple of years later he asked me to marry him, but in all those years we have been together, he has never bought me another book…I can’t understand why not?!

So to answer your question, it would be The Horse Whisper that has influenced and inspired me the most.

That’s such a coincidence – I adore that book and I loved the film too. Fantastic choice. What was your favourite book as a child?

I was a pony-obsessed child, so any book to do with horses found its way onto my overcrowded bookshelf! If you asked my childhood self what my favourite book was, then I would say Anna Sewell’s, Black Beauty. I had a very old 1920’s copy of Black Beauty, and I loved everything about that book — from the size of the book itself to the smell of its musty old pages! The story, of course, was a bonus. I must have read that book 100 times. It now sits on my daughter’s bookshelf — she loved it too!

Snap! Another common interest we share – I was horse-mad too and loved Black Beauty. Can you describe your writing process?

I always write in the afternoon, sat on my bed and curled up under a blanket. I put my headphones on and, depending on what type of scene I am writing, I find some music to listen to. I prefer listening to movie soundtracks, especially ones composed by James Horner. He composed the score for films such as Braveheart, Titanic, Legends of the Fall and Avatar. I could listen to his music all day!

I write using a laptop. I find it hard to sit up at a table, so I rest the computer on my lap, no doubt the posture police would have something to say about that!

Before I start to write, I will re-read what I had written the day before, and make any necessary changes and then carry on writing the story. Often I can be side-tracked when I need to look something up, but I don’t mind about that because I love researching the past.

I drink far too much tea when I write and have had to stop buying biscuits because I completely lose track of how many I have eaten while writing!

I only write for around two hours a day, sometimes a little bit more, any longer and I find my concentration starts to wander.

What advice can you give to writers at the beginning of their journey?

If you want to write, you have to read. Read as much as you can by a variety of authors. Then, you must write. Write as often as you can — practice does make perfect. Do not become disheartened, ever. Some days will be harder than others and sometimes you may feel like giving up. Don’t. You are creating a world with your words, a world that people may well want to lose themselves in one day. Writing isn’t a profession, it is a calling, and if you don’t answer that call, then you may well regret it for the rest of your life.

That’s fantastic advice and so true. What is the most moving book you have ever read?

The Horse Whisper; it really does have it all!

If you could have dinner with any writer(s), living or dead, who would you choose and why?

I would love to have dinner with Historical Fiction author, Tony Riches. Tony writes the most breathtakingly beautiful stories about the Tudor Dynasty. I love his work, and he kind of took me under his wing when I was starting out in this whole publishing process. I would like to buy him dinner to say thank you!

Are you self-published or traditionally published?

I am a self-published author, and I love it!

You write historical fiction. What is it that draws you to history?

When I was a very young child, my mother was given a set of encyclopedias. Can you remember the massive encyclopedias they used to have at school? That is the kind of book I am talking about!  Now, I couldn’t read at the time, but I used to drag these heavy books down from the bookshelf, very mindful I would get in trouble if I dropped them. I would place them on the floor, lie down next to them and flick through the pages.

My mum tells me that I had a favourite encyclopedia (like you do when you are three years old) and that was the one about World History. So my love affair with history started on the living room floor with an encyclopedia that was almost bigger than me!

My mum was a keen National Trust member, so we used to go on trips to great houses all the time.  I loved — still, do — exploring old houses and trying to imagine what it would be like to live in one!

In the summer holidays while the other children were outside playing I would have my nose stuck in a history project. Once, I dedicated a whole summer to learning about the First Crusade — Like you do!  I took history at school, and I went to University to study it as well. It has just kind of stuck.

I grew up near Glastonbury, which is not only rich in history but folklore. I have been fascinated with the life and times of King Arthur and his knights, and although he is a tough cookie to track down historically, Arthur is embroiled with folklore.

About 13 years ago, I because interested in folklore and the stories the past generation used to tell. Folklore is often looked down upon by some historians, it is not an exact science and let’s be honest, most of it is pure fantasy, but I think folklore gives you a fascinating insight to the people of the time. Why were these stories told? Was it for sheer entertainment value or was there a darker reason? A swaying of the masses maybe, a form of propaganda, and that fascinates me. Put history and folklore together and you have a potent mix, and I love creating stories that have one foot in a myth and the other in history.

Please tell us about your latest published work.

The Du Lac Devil (Book 2 of The Du Lac Chronicles)

the-du-lac-devil-10-august-2016-kindle

Blurb

The best-selling Du Lac Chronicles continues:

War is coming to Saxon Briton.

As one kingdom after another falls to the savage might of the High King, Cerdic of Wessex, only one family dares to stand up to him — The Du Lacs.

Budic and Alden Du Lac are barely speaking to each other, and Merton is a mercenary, fighting for the highest bidder. If Wessex hears of the brothers’ discord, then all is lost.

Fate brings Merton du Lac back to the ancestral lands of his forefathers, and he finds his country on the brink of civil war. But there is worse to come, for his father’s old enemy has infiltrated the court of Benwick. Now, more than ever, the Du Lac must come together to save the kingdom and themselves.

Can old rivalries and resentments be overcome in time to stop a war?

Links

https://www.amazon.com/Du-Lac-Devil-Book-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B01N0FW1RU

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Du-Lac-Devil-Book-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B01N0FW1RU

Paperback available December 2017

Author Bio

Mary Anne Yarde is the bestselling author of The Du Lac Chronicle series. Born in Bath, England, Yarde grew up in the southwest of England, surrounded and influenced by centuries of history and mythology. Glastonbury — the fabled Isle of Avalon — was a mere fifteen-minute drive from her home, and tales of King Arthur and his knights were part of her childhood.

At nineteen, Yarde married her childhood sweetheart and began a bachelor of arts in history at Cardiff University, only to have her studies interrupted by the arrival of her first child. She would later return to higher education, studying equine science at Warwickshire College. Horses and history remain two of her major passions.

Yarde keeps busy raising four children and helping run a successful family business. She has many skills but has never mastered cooking — so if you ever drop by, she (and her family) would appreciate some tasty treats or a meal out!

If you’d like to learn more about Mary Anne and her books, then do follow the links below:

author@maryanneyarde.com

Twitter @maryanneyarde

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/maryanneyarde/

Blogspot http://maryanneyarde.blogspot.co.uk/

Amazon Author’s page http://www.amazon.com/Mary-Anne-Yarde/e/B01C1WFATA/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33014836-the-du-lac-devil

We’re Thrilled to Introduce @Suzy_Henderson and her #historicalfiction novel #ASMSG

We’re so excited to have historical novelist, Suzy Henderson, here on the POTL Blog today. Her debut novel, The Beauty Shop, sounds fantastic and we’re deciding which of us gets to read it first. S…

Source: We’re Thrilled to Introduce @Suzy_Henderson and her #historicalfiction novel #ASMSG

A Conversation with Author Suzy Henderson

This evening in the Library I am delighted to have my friend and fellow historical fiction author, Suzy Henderson, who has dropped in to say hello and to share some insights into her life as an aut…

Source: A Conversation with Author Suzy Henderson

Welcome to . . . Author Suzy Henderson

Pizzazz Book Promotions

profile pic small.jpgSuzy Henderson is the author of The Beauty Shop

Suzy, it is so good to meet you!  Tell us a little about the path you have traveled to arrive at the destination we call ‘successful author’!  Don’t hold back!

Well, I was born and raised in Sunderland, a north-east town in England that’s now a bustling city. I always loved to read and found that books could take you to new places and give you great adventures. I suppose being an only child I was lonely at times, and so books became my passion, but I never once dreamed of being a writer. Fast forward a number of years, and I found myself working in a hospital – how did that happen? I became a qualified nurse and then moved south and trained to be a midwife. I got married, had two children and decided to take a career break…

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