The Anna Campbell books are coming….

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‘As many beginner romance writers do, I decided category would be an easy way into the industry. Even though my heart has always been with long juicy historicals.’ Anna Campbell.

 

 

SHEY. ‘As many beginner romance writers do, I decided category would be an easy way into the industry. Even though my heart has always been with long juicy historicals.’  Thrilling words from a thrilling lady and author Anna Campbell, our guest today. Anna, would you say that after a long journey to get into the industry,  and a career there that has now spanned thirteen years, that your heart is where it wants to be?

ANNA.  Hi Lady Shey! Hi Dudes! Thanks for having me to visit today. I love writing historical romance – I don’t think any genre sweeps you away into a larger-than-life world the way historical romance does. Having said that, I have a vague idea of writing a historical mystery series but I fear I’m never going to have the time when I’m so busy writing my Highlanders and my rakes and my smart-mouthed Regency ladies.

 

SHEY. Your first book, Claiming the Courtesan which has won numerous awards was  ‘dark and sexy,’

and very different from a number of historicals out there at that time.

Ignoring the dudes please tell us what gave you the idea to go darker?  Were there any true historical stories of dukes marrying their mistress that inspired you?

ANNA  – When I wrote CTC, I had pretty much decided I was never going to be published. I’d written for most of my life without getting a contract – the publishing world was very different back in the early 2000s! So I just went where my heart took me – and that was to a very dark story about a tormented duke and the courtesan he loves. The fashion when I started Courtesan was very much romantic comedy, Julia Quinn and Amanda Quick and all those sparkling Regencies. But as I wasn’t writing for a market but to please myself, that didn’t much matter (so I thought!). Verity and Kylemore’s story came from my imagination but I had a marvellous moment after I’d written the first draft when I read Katy Hickman’s book Courtesans and came across the story of the courtesan Elizabeth Armitage and her aristocratic husband Charles James Fox. These two had a lot in common with my made-up characters. It felt like a sign from the universe that I was onto something.

SHEY –Both  wonderful books for those who haven’t read them BTW. Claiming the Courtesan was the start of a rollercoaster ride where you released a number of books for many major publishers–again, all to tremendous acclaim–but for last few years you decided to go your own way, publishing your books yourself.  What was your thinking behind that move? And how has it worked out for you?

ANNA -I love being an indie, although I’ll always be tremendously grateful for my career in traditional publishing. I learned so much and I picked up a large readership which stood me in good stead when I went out on my own. A few things pushed me down the independent route – I wanted to write stories in a variety of tones. While I’d started my career writing dark stories, at heart I’m actually quite a jolly soul and I wanted to write some romantic comedy. I also wanted more releases a year than a trad career allows.

SHEY– You’ve also gotten deeply into Scotland, especially the unspoiled island of Eigg.

Not that I noticed. Which of your ultra sexy heroes would you want to spend a day with there and what would you do ……. ?

And can you tell us why you find Eigg so bewitching?

ANNA — Ha, all of my heroes! Although perhaps not at the same time. That’s just too much like hard work! Just because he’s the most recent and also because I developed a major crush on him as I wrote the story, I’ll choose Brock Drummond, Earl of Bruard, who stars in The Highlander’s Forbidden Mistress, my latest release.

Brock is a wonderful mixture of heart and intellect and sexiness – so at least some of what I do with him on the Isle of Eigg will involve conversation! Really! I’ve included a picture of the view over to Rum from Laig Beach on Eigg.

It’s pretty obvious why I’m so in love with the place! I’ve always loved islands and this one has such a rich history and such glorious scenery. I also love that when I go there, I feel like the rest of the world is a million miles away (well, a couple of hours on a CalMac ferry, anyway!)

Shey–You know we were up for having our anniversary in Arisaig again,  heading over to Eigg for a day to bag the Sgurr, before winding up in Glencoe. RIGHT NOW ACTUALLY.  Oh well, the best laid plans of hamsters and women, but thank you for giving that wee flavour and here’s hoping for next year. Right now  I gather they are asking tourists to stay away from Eigg before you dudes get any bright ideas here. Anna, you’ve also moved into Scotland  as  a setting for many of your books. Give us the low down, is it the men in kilts, or something else that has drawn you in that direction?

ANNA–Well, a man in a kilt is always welcome!

Not to mention that wonderful accent. Sigh. Actually I’ve been in love with Scotland

since my very first visit back in the mid-1980s. I’ve been back numerous times since and the love affair has only intensified. I think it’s the most beautiful country on earth and the history is full of soul-stirring stories. Not to mention the music. That goes straight to the heart. When I first visited, I wondered if there was something in the idea of the blood calling me home. I am, after all, a Campbell, even if one raised on the other side of the world.

SHEY —How do you do your research for your novels?

ANNA– These days because I know the period I’m working in so well, I mostly do book-specific stuff. For example, with The Highlander’s Lost Lady, a lot of the plot hinged on issues like the age of consent in Scotland in the 1820s so I had a wonderful dive into marital law in the Regency period.

SHEY —What would you say has changed most about  the writing industry since you first started subbing your work?

ANNA — Ha, do you want a 10-page answer?

When I started writing, the only way to get published and find an audience was to get a contract with a traditional publisher, and books were available in print format only. Digital technology has created so many more ways for people to read and to publish. There’s a freedom now that there wasn’t back when I started writing as a teen.

Shey —Returning to that, you’ve written– in the hope of  getting published– since 3rd Grade, getting to the stage where   ‘under the bed was more crowded than the centre of Hong Kong at Chinese New Year,’ with manuscripts, finished, unfinished or rejected, you set yourself targets, goals, often doing mundane jobs,  did you ever think of giving up?

ANNA–I did! When I was in my late 30s, I was working in a dead-end job and nothing was happening with my writing career. I decided that wanting to be published was like wanting to dance for the Bolshoi (also a girlish dream for the young Anna!). It was time to put aside these silly fantasies of being a writer and start trying to build a proper life for myself. I lasted about 18 months and I was absolutely miserable. So when I went back to writing, I decided I needed to be a bit smarter about what I was doing. So I joined Romance Writers of Australia, and I started to write something that had a bit of commercial appeal. It still took a couple of years, but the decisions I made after giving up started me on the road to publication.

SHEY — Would you say that keeping your eye on markets and looking for the way in, with work that is marketable played its part and what tips would you give aspiring writers out there? I’d mention the worthy master here but as Bobby Bub ses, he can’t actually write. He can’t spell neither.

ANNA–The weird thing is I ended up getting published with a book I didn’t think any publisher would ever touch with a barge pole. At the time, the idea of a heroine who sleeps with men for money seemed very out there. I’d also advise against chasing trends. These days, trends come and go faster than a speeding bullet. My tip for aspiring writers is to read a lot in what’s being published now and take note of popular tropes (not trends). Marriage of convenience is a trope; hockey playing heroes is a trend. Also if you start a book, fight through the sagging middle to finish it.

Partly because there’s nothing you can do with the start of a book, but also because finishing a book will teach you more about writing than a million writing courses.

SHEY —What’s next for Anna Campbell?

ANNA–Lockdown has done wonders for the appearance of new Anna Campbell books! There are three more this year to finish up the Lairds Most Likely series. The Highlander’s Rescued Maiden is out at the end of September and as those who have followed me for a while know, I always do a Christmas story. The Highlander’s Christmas Countess should be out end of October. I’m also contributing a story to a Christmas historical romance anthology, but details of that are under wraps right now.

Next year I’m very excited because I’m starting a new series based back in Regency London, stories full of glamour and passion. Stay tuned for the announcement of details, but if you enjoyed my Dashing Widows series, I think you’ll be very pleased with this new direction.

If you’d like to keep up with the latest, why not join my mailing list? Just email me with your contact details: AnnaCampbellOz@hotmail.com Or I regularly update my website: www.annacampbell.com

Bio:

Australian Anna Campbell has written 11 multi award-winning historical romances for Avon HarperCollins and Grand Central Publishing. As an independently published author, she’s released 25 bestselling stories, including seven in her latest series, The Lairds Most Likely. Anna has won numerous awards for her Regency-set stories, including RT Book Reviews Reviewers Choice, the Booksellers Best, the Golden Quill (three times), the Heart of Excellence (twice), the Write Touch, the Aspen Gold (twice), and the Australian Romance Readers’ favorite historical romance (five times).

Links:

Website: www.annacampbell.com

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

Twitter: AnnaCampbellOz

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/anna-campbell

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Anna-Campbell/e/B002NKV1HQ

Blurb for The Highlander’s Forbidden Mistress:

A week to be wicked…

 Widowed Selina Martin faces another marriage founded on duty, not love. When notorious libertine Lord Bruard invites her to his isolated hunting lodge, he promises discretion – and seven days of hedonistic pleasure before she weds her boorish fiancé. All her life, Selina has done the right thing, but this no-strings-attached chance to discover the handsome rake’s sensual secrets is irresistible. She’ll surrender to her wicked fantasies, seize some brief happiness, then knuckle down to a loveless union. What could possibly go wrong?

 

In a lifetime of seduction, Brock Drummond, the dashing Earl of Bruard, has never wanted a woman the way he wants demure widow Selina Martin. When Selina agrees to become his temporary lover, he soon falls captive to an enchantment unlike any other. He sets out to slake his white hot desire until only ashes remain, but as each day of forbidden delight passes, the idea of saying goodbye to his ardent mistress becomes more and more unbearable.

When scandal explodes around them and threatens to destroy Selina, Brock is the only person she can turn to. After so short a time, can she trust a man whose name is a byword for depravity?

Will this sizzling liaison prove a mere affair to remember? Or will their week of passion spark a lifetime of happiness for the widow and her dissolute Scottish earl?

Excerpt from THE HIGHLANDER’S FORBIDDEN MISTRESS: THE LAIRDS MOST LIKELY BOOK 7

Derwent Hall, Essex, December 1823

Selina was too aware that it was late and that she was alone with a man whose reputation was bad enough to send respectable virgins shrieking for their mammas. Lord Bruard’s company was the closest thing to satanic temptation that she was ever likely to experience.

She swallowed to moisten a dry throat and set the book on the mantel. “I must go,” she said, and cursed the squeak in her voice.

“Must you?” Bruard didn’t sound as if he cared whether she stayed or went. He continued as if they were in the middle of a friendly conversation. “You shouldn’t let Canley-Smythe bully you, you know. If he bullies you now, before he gets his ring on your finger, he’ll turn into a domestic tyrant when you marry.”

She paused in the act of turning away toward the door. “This is none of your business, sir.”

Unfortunately, it was also a perfectly accurate assessment of her future. Selina was no fool, and she had few illusions about what life with Cecil was going to be. But what choice did she have?

With a leisurely grace that made Selina’s foolish heart skip around inside her tight chest, Bruard sat up. She thought she’d committed her whole self to marrying Cecil, but now it turned out that her heart hadn’t signed up to the arrangement. Her heart cried out that she was still young and at last she had the chance to flirt with an attractive man. It insisted that if she ran away now, she was a filthy coward.

“Oh, that’s true.” Again no shame. “But I’m telling you this out of pure altruism. Stand up for yourself now, or he’ll crush every ounce of spirit out of you.”

“Pure altruism?” She gave a snort of amusement that would have shocked Cecil. “It seems the world is completely wrong about you, Lord Bruard.”

The half-smile reappeared, deepening the creases around Bruard’s deep-set eyes. The breath jammed in her lungs. Dear God, no wonder the ladies went insane for him. He truly was extraordinarily attractive. He should have warning signs posted all over him.

Because he was right about her avoiding him, this was closer than she’d ever ventured to the wicked Lord Bruard. This was certainly the longest she’d spent talking to him.

And danger bristled in the air.

So remaining in this room made no sense. Yet remain Selina did.

His gaze fixed on her. “No, my lovely little ghost, the world isn’t wrong about me.”

The power of his attraction made her stomach cramp with nerves, as she remembered all those depraved fantasies that wore Lord Bruard’s intense dark face. Did he know she’d thought of him in the privacy of the night? She had a sick feeling that he must.

“G-ghost?” she stammered.

He shrugged. How could such a prosaic movement make her heart somersault? Except his shoulders were broad and hard, and she ached to run her hands along them and down those strong arms, displayed to advantage in the best of London tailoring.

He wore black. But then didn’t the devil always come in black?

“That’s how I think of you. With your neat little gray frocks, and the way you watch everything you say, and never miss anything that goes on around you.”

This time, genuine fear spurred the unsteady beat of the heart. She hadn’t thought she’d be of the slightest interest to such a famous libertine. It turned out she was wrong. Just as she’d watched him, he’d watched her.

She gulped for air to clear a swimming head and raised a shaking hand to her bosom, before she realized how revealing the gesture was. “You shouldn’t think of me at all.”

His expression grew more intent, and she faltered back a step. She should flee, pride or no pride, but it was as if her feet were tacked to the parquetry floor.

“Nor should you think of me, when you’re marrying that ponderous oaf in a fortnight, and you’re obviously a woman who guards her chastity the way a miser guards his gold.”

Heat blazed in her cheeks, and she avoided his eyes. How could he make her virtue sound like the worst of sins? “I don’t think of you. I…”

Oh, what was the use? Coyness suddenly seemed too shabby to countenance. As he uncoiled and rose to his feet, she made a helpless gesture. “I don’t want to think of you,” she mumbled.

The Gowns of Resa …

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Please meet Shehanne Moore: writer, author, publisher, wife, mother and one of the official Art Gowns models. By Resa McConachy.

 

SMART + SEXY = SMEXY

The Smexy Pen of Shehanne Moore

I just finished reading “Loving Lady Lazuli”

Cassidy Armstrong has had an unfortunate life, that has scarred her in more ways than one. Cast off from family as a baby, and her brother dead from beatings, she is pressed into being a jewel thief. Nonetheless, she has managed to hoard her virginity like it was a massive collection of fine Waterford Crystal worth more florins than any working class person would see in a lifetime

Now, she has returned to claim her birthright. As a fake widow, Lady Cassidy Armstrong can move around more freely, searching for her proof of heritage. Yet, even after 10 years of aging, donned in a widow’s “Crow Black” and with a new name; Devorlane Hawley (fifth Duke of Chessington) recognizes her.

I asked Shehanne: Devorlane Hawley – Fifth Duke of Chessington, was off at war for 10 years. Was it the Napoleonic Wars? If not, which war was he in, and can you give a bit of history of the war and/or London around the time of this story?

Answer: It was the Napoleonic Wars but he was in the military a little before they actually started in 1803, as an unwilling recruit shall we say?  And obviously since the book is set in 1810 and the wars didn’t end for another five years, he’s no longer a soldier, having been badly wounded and invalided out. The Wars came out of chaos that was the French Revolution and for some time, a long time, it looked as if Napoleon Bonaparte could become master of Europe, until he was finally defeated at the Battle of Waterloo and exiled to Saint Helena. I imagine that life for people in London and indeed elsewhere, would–as  ever, even as we’re seeing today– depend on your wealth.  Whatever your class, most people had a relative in the army or navy and  would be anxious about that but that’s roughly where any kind of things in common would end.  For the rich there was the chance to make more money, for the women to adopt new fashions, go to charitable balls and see some wonderful re-enactments of battles etc onstage. For the poor–the usual struggle for survival. All the English counties had a militia, there to protect the county  and of course there was espionage, the suggestion of which the heroine of this book uses to her advantage at one point.

“Never judge a book by its cover, unless there’s a gown on it.”

I came up with that exceptionally memorable saying, after reading “Splendor”. It was the first book by Shehanne that I read. I pair it here with “Loving Lady Lazuli”, as they are both part of a series about London Jewel Thieves.

You can read my review, and mini interview with Shehanne by clicking on the drawing of “Splendor”, above.

I read “The Viking and the Courtesan” quite recently. It is definitely a bit of a departure from the other stories.

Malice Mallender is quite the piece of work. For the right price “Strictly Business” will destroy any marriage, usually by dealing with the wife nuisance. The right price; enough to buy the latest pair of shoes she covets in Madame Faro’s window. So, what happens when “Strictly Business” is inadvertently hired to destroy Malice’s own marriage to Lord Cyril Hepworth?

I asked Shehanne: In “The Viking and the Courtesan” – How did you come up with the idea of “time displacement” ?

Answer: My dearest, lovely Resa, first let me thank for all your kindness and especially for the gowns and asking me here today. You may know I must be amongst your biggest fans, not just as a mega admirer of your work but the fact you make gowns to be used for charity.

Okay, so to answer your question, I had a flash moment.  I never ever set out to write a time displacement  story.  Just like I never ever set out to write any book.  But I had written the first few chapters of this book exactly as they stand now, to the bit where she goes to her husband, Cyril’s flat. The story was to be a second chance love story between them but one day as I was belting away at the keyboard, I thought that idea was a bit  too similar to the Lady Fury book. Then the little voicewhispered… you know that Viking idea you have where you have the hero’s story but not the heroine’s? Hmm?? Well … why don’t you just bung that in here?  Quite understandably I thought, no way. Are you serious????  I mean, come on. Then I went and thought about it for a moment. And I thought, okaaaay. Maybe I should just give it a try for a chapter or so, no more? What have I got to lose really? And that was it. That’s the truth. It just popped into my head.

The moment I saw the new cover of Shehanne’s re-released tale of Lady Fury (Genoa 1820), I fell in love with the gown. I read chapter one on Shehanne’s blog.  Then I read the book.

“Rule One: There will be no kissing. Rule two: You will be fully clothed at all times… Widowed Lady Fury Shelton hasn’t lost everything—yet. As long as she produces the heir to the Beaumont dukedom, she just might be able to keep her position.” 

Perhaps ex-privateer Flint Blackmoore (a man she’d rather see rotting in hell than sleeping in her bed) has never been good at following the rules, still she decides to use him to produce an heir.

I asked Shehanne: In “Lady Fury” – What was your impetus for coming up with “the rules”? Did you have a reason for making Blackmoore a privateer… ie: a love of ships, a port you have been stimulated historically by?

Answer: Ooh, I have always loved pirate stories since I read Treasure Island as a kid. I was reared on all the old films and one of my fav board games was buccaneer.  I was gutted to learn it just wasn’t possible to pursue my chosen choice of career actually. But I did always want to write a book about a pirate or a privateer. As for  ‘the rules’, well, once again I had written first few chapters and I thought, now what? You can tell by now I never ever think anything out. And I thought, well, he’s got her cornered which she’s er…not going to take lying down. So what would she do here to pay him back and keep any feelings which she sees she sort of still might have, under wraps Then I thought I could maybe have a little fun dissecting a certain activity shall we say? I am a great believer in having fun especially with rules on anything. Let’s face it, I dunno about you but over here in Scotland right now, and England, well .. I never saw so many that were badly thought through.

his is my favourite book by Shehanne. It is her most recent, and proves that she gets better with time. As the ending demands a sequel, I am hoping there is one in progress!

You can read my review, some Q&A with Shehanne and see the gown drawings by clicking on my above rendition of Destiny

Shehanne’s titles are available worldwide on Amazon, Ingram Books & Barnes and Noble. If you click on the above banner, you will go to Amazon’s universal “select a country” page. Once there, select “Books”. In “Books” search “Shehanne Moore. It will take you to all of her titles.

LOVE!

https://artgowns.com/

One day in 1950s Korea…..

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One day in 1950, North Korean farmer, Lee Che Con, his wife and six children sat down at the side of the road for two days waiting for a miracle. And not just any old miracle either. The family’s paddy field and sole hope of surviving the oncoming winter had been mined by retreating North Korean troops. Many pursuing UN troops may have driven up, one look soon convinced them to drive on. Someone with a knowledge of explosives was needed. As luck would have it, in this mayhem, along came an explosives expert–a long way from his home near the ‘tap o’ the hill,’ in Dundee and a young Private from Spring Creek, Tallangatta, Victoria, who both then spent an hour expecting every second to be their last, defusing that field.  I felt quite sad today that I wasn’t able to get the usual local newspaper remembrance notice for that explosives expert—my dad—who died 27 years ago today, when he more than went out of his way to do what he did all these years ago.

Let me tell you it certainly wasn’t  for want of trying on my Mr and my parts. But I think I can tell you that my dad would have been the first to say that  a company that sends forth ‘respectful’ reminder letters in the middle of a pandemic when  the letters are clearly ‘spew outs’, their ‘open’ offices  are shut  and then expects you to listen to the complete works of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart on hold,  at three times the already exorbitant cost of that notice, is  a company to give the finger to. Not in these exact words of course.

But I sure have the memory of everything he taught me, his peony roses in full bloom right now and plenty stories to tell the grandies who I am pretty certain he’d have adored.

Paul Andruss, Thomas the Rhymer and more films NOT to watch right now

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PAUL ANDRUSS.

Firstly thanks for having me over y’all. My favourite apoc-oc-o-liptical movie and boxset of all time might sound familiar. It featured at the top of the list of Shey and the Dudes last post. The visionary Twelve Monkeys. No matter how hard you try, you cannot escape a future already written in your past. Time will always correct itself. Throw in a plague, time paradoxes and Terry Gilliam at the helm (Time Bandits, Brazil and The Fisher King), what’s not to like?

Paul Andruss.

No. I believe in owning any sensitive intelligent creature is tantamount to slavery.

PAUL ANDRUSS

Yes. Absolutely. In fact, they perform a pivotal role holding the whole thing together. But as one would expect from such highly evolved beings they work secretly behind the scenes to sprinkle their magic. And so are not mentioned once. I fully understand you doubt me, and I don’t blame you.. As I’ve yet to say my new books is about fairies …and don’t you have your very own fairy godmother……….

PAUL ANDRUSS

You see??? As for your next question, ‘What drew you to Thomas the Rhymer?’ even though you haven’t asked it yet, as a kid I got a big book of Celtic folk stories for Christmas. I have been mining it ever since. My first novel, where I cut my teeth, was a sprawling sci-fi Irish mythological saga about Finn Mac Cool and that came from reading those childhood stories. Finn is due to be published by Black Wolf Books, once the Jack Hughes trilogy is safely out. The Scottish tale of Thomas the Rhymer and the Queen of Elphame was also in the book. It tells how handsome Thomas follows the queen of Elfland to her home. When he leaves three days later, the lady gives him the gift of poetry and prophecy. He arrives home to find a score of years have passed.

PAUL ANDRUSS

Thomas the Rhymer is based on a real person, the 13th century prophet Sir Thomas of Ercildoune, named in contemporary legal documents as Thomas Rymour de Ercildoun. Thomas allegedly predicted the Scottish King James VI would rule from the English throne after Elizabeth’s I death. The second thing that led to the book is personal. I was living in Turkey after my brother was diagnosed with a brain tumour. We were close when I lived in England. It was a bad time to be separated by thousands of miles. We skyped, but it wasn’t the same. Conversations often turned to reminiscing. One incident always made us laugh.

David went missing at the age of 7. I was about the same age as Jack, funnily enough. Unlike Jack’s brother, David was not stolen by the fairies.

After a visit from the police and a sleepless night. David arrived home with my Gran the next day. Taking umbrage at something Mum said, he decided to run away. The only place he knew was Gran’s, twenty miles across town. David sneaked on a train, avoided the ticket collector, and walked two miles to Gran’s house. By the time he got there it was too late to bring him back. In those days we didn’t have a phone or a car. Few people did. And gran couldn’t afford the taxi fare.

The story got me thinking about what happens to a family when a child is missing. Something clicked. I would like to say the novel flowed seamlessly from that point. It didn’t. It took years to hone the ideas. My biggest regret is David never lived to see it published.

PAUL ANDRUSS

You ask such interesting questions.

PAUL ANDRUSS

This is a whole philosophical argument. How do you define living? A question scientists are asking about viruses, which are nothing more than scraps of DNA. Technically they are not alive, but that doesn’t seem to stop them, does it? Or, do you mean intelligent, or conscious? Alan Turning, a computer scientist, said such concepts are hard to define. How will we ever know if a machine is thinking? Psychic researchers claim some hauntings are simply memories recorded in in houses by a sudden burst of psychic energy such as violent emotion. Given all that why shouldn’t a fairy queen weave a living tapestry to record memories as they do in Jack Hughes and Thomas the Rhymer?

It made perfect sense to me that a culture as ancient & global as the fairy race, largely ruled by women, would choose to pass on information through the ancient skill of weaving. The first evidence of weaving is a 70,000-year-old fabric impression.

 

PAUL ANDRUSS

As an aspiring writer, who am I to give advice? Instead of turning out the same old pony, everyone is sick of hearing, including me, let me pass on sage snippets from a successful published writer, with years of experience. When I started writing I joined a peer review group. The advice mainly consisted of … I would not write what you wrote the way you wrote it. I would write it this way. Of course you would, I thought. We are different people.

An established author confirmed my cynicism in an article. “Beware of taking advice from other aspiring authors. They are in the same boat as you and just a clueless. Take advice from someone who knows the business.”

When an established professional was kind enough to offer advice, I bit her hand off. Don’t panic, it wasn’t her writing hand. It was the other one. I was writing a blog to publicise myself. She said, “Decide if you want to be a blogger or an author.” It took a while to see I was down a rabbit hole, spending all my time writing quality blog and guest blog articles with nothing left to write anything else. When I realised, I knew I had found a gold mine.

Here is some of her advice.

“This is a hard business. You are up against a lot of talent and competition. Take your work seriously, work hard. Have self-belief, coz you’ll need it. Know your market and write for it.” I have seen aspiring writers unwilling to brutally examine their work. Instead they give excuses; clever explanations about why they wrote it that way and who they wrote it for.

How do I know?

I was one of them.

She read some of my draft and said, “Your point of view is all over the place.”

I protested. “I wrote it like a movie where you seamlessly move from character to character.”

“It’s called head hopping,” she replied, “and it’s amateur.”

PAUL ANDRUSS

I knew I needed to listen. But, Goddamnit, it meant rewriting the whole bloody novel! Muttering like Dick Dastardly’s Muttley in Wacky Races, I set to work. Guess what? She was right absolutely totally and utterly right. It put the book in a different class.

My advice for aspiring authors?

Listen to people who know what they are talking about.

 

PAUL ANDRUSS

Work, work, work. Thank God. I need to publicise the book release. So if any of you have a blog and want a good quality barely used post in exchange for publicity, THINK OF ME.The 2nd and 3rd books of the trilogy are edited and having a final reread prior to publication.

I have a 100-page novella ready to go. A comic noir murder mystery set in the golden age of Hollywood. I need to Edit Finn Mac Cool and pass it over to Black Wolf for input.Finish the second novella in the series. Porcelain, set during the Glam years. Sort out the short stories for publication with Black WolfFinally, and this will be news for Black Wolf Books, I have a two back to back novels half drafted that are sequels to the Jack Hughes Trilogy.

If you enjoyed this don’t to visit http://www.jackhughesbooks.com/

Explore the story of Thomas the Rhymer. http://www.jackhughesbooks.com/story-of-the-book.php

Download the posters http://www.jackhughesbooks.com/art-gallery.php

Read some pre-release reviews http://www.jackhughesbooks.com/thomas-the-rhymer.php

And listen to some music courtesy of classical composer Patrick Hartnett, who loved the book so much he wrote music for it. http://www.jackhughesbooks.com/music.php

 

Fairies took his brother…

When Jack sees a sinister woman kidnap his bother Dan, he knows his parents will never believe him. Nor will the police. Not when he says Dan vanished into thin air. If Jack wants to see Dan again, he has to save him. And not just him …

 If he ever wants to find Dan, first he must save Thomas the Rhymer from a wicked enemy.

Bravely embarking on a rollercoaster adventure into the dark fairy realm, Jack and friends face monstrous griffins and brooding tapestries with a life of their own, learn to use magic mirrors and travel on ley lines that whip them off faster than sound

 

Even if he returns Thomas the Rhymer to his selfish fairy queen, she might make Jack her prisoner. With the odds stacked against him, can Jack succeed in finding and freeing Dan?

 

 Or will he lose his brother forever?

EXTRACT. The first meeting with Thomas

A moment later Jack turned to Catherine. “Run while I keep him busy.”

“No Jack,” she muttered, horror-struck.

“Jack,” echoed the tramp as if he heard her. “Master Jack, Cracker Jack … Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack jump over the candlestick.”

“Is he mental?”

“No, he’s fairy,” Jack reminded her.

Ken nodded in agreement.

“Here I am,” Jack said, bravely stepping out from behind the skip.

“No,” Catherine wailed.

At the sight of Jack, the tramp started crying.

“Master Jack, Tom’s a lost. Master Jack, Tom’s a cold. Master Jack, don’t be cross. Master Jack, take Tom home. For I did dilly and did dally, dally and did dilly, lost my way and don’t know where to roam. Now you can’t trust a story like old Jack-a-Nory, when you can’t find your way home.”

Jack stared stupidly at the tramp.

“It’s all right, he won’t hurt you,” Ken shouted.

“You’ve changed your tune,” Jack shouted back.

“I was wrong. He’s not trying to scare us. He’s scared. The noise, the people, he’s not used to it. It’s driving him mad.”

Coming from behind the skip, Ken walked to the tramp with hands held in front of him as if feeling the air around the man.

“He’s living rough. I don’t think he’s had a good night’s sleep for weeks, or a proper meal, been eating out of bins. Oh dear, he could do with a bath.”

“I know he pongs,” Jack agreed.

Putting his head to one side, the tramp smiled.

“There’s something else, he might look older than us, but inside he’s about our age.”

The tramp smiled again, saying proudly, “For a year and a day I grew away, and I grew straight and I grew tall, and I was the fairest of them all, and she did love me, love me do, but now I’m lost. It’s sad but true.”

“Hello,” said Catherine, from behind Ken.

“Good day to you mistress mine, Thomas am I, Thomas of Rhyme.” The tramp gallantly bowed.

“Thomas? That’s what she called Dan. She was looking for you, wasn’t she?” Jack said.

“Aye, that she were,” Thomas wailed. “Though she loved me most, kissed my cheek and stoked my hair, a new Sir Thomas does she boast and on him lavish all her care. And I am gone, like those before, belovéd once, beloved no more.”

“Why?” asked Catherine.

“Though I both complain and moan, ‘tis no one’s fault but my own. She warned me true when she did say not to dally on the way. Off went the court with my good queen too. Tom followed on but what did Tom do?” he shrieked, slapping his own face and shaking his head wretchedly.

“Tom did dilly and did dally, did dally and did dilly, lost his way and don’t know where to roam. Now Tom’s afraid and all alone, and can’t find his way home.”

With outburst over, Thomas blew his nose noisily on his sleeve and smiled a brave little smile.

Available now in ebook and paperback Amazon. Worldwide.

Mother’s Day in the UK, I just want to say…

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I992 was the last time I wished my mum a Happy Mother’s Day. I look at her here and think of the life she was yet to lead against the backdrop of times she never dreamed were coming. Yes, marriage, two children, three grandchildren. But also war, a husband who joined up despite a reserved occupation and also later served in Korea and Suez. There were places like Hong Kong, that being a Dundee lassie from ‘the tap o’ the hill’, she would never have dreamed of living in. Lately I keep wondering what she’d have made of all this. And then I remember one thing, growing up, despite other world crises, despite whatever came her way, she never blinked in terms of how she faced her children. Happy Mother’s Day to all mums today, wherever you are and however you are celebrating.

Kate Furnivall and the Guardian of Lies.

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Kate. Oh Bobby Bub, I bet that grandpappy of yours was a right royal rogue in the 1950s. A damn handsome fellow of course like yourself and with the same penchant for stylish headgear, no doubt.

But to be honest, the reason I chose the year 1953 for my book was that it was a year when the future of Europe was balanced on a knife edge.

And yes, you’re right, it is the latest period I have chosen as a setting for a book – but it is a moment in history that fascinates me. The start of the Cold War. A crisis point of tension and danger when Americans and Russians were at each other’s throats as they battled for nuclear dominance. I was transfixed when I delved deeper and discovered just how close that apocalypse came to exploding into life in the beautiful marshy plains of the Camargue region in south-west France,

But there was another trigger for the inspiration behind this book – that of the bonds that hold a family together in the face of a conflict that is driving them apart. At the heart of The Guardian of Lies I explore the bond between a brother and sister. My own older brother passed away several years ago but I still think of him daily, and it is this brother-sister relationship that kept intruding into my mind each time I picked up my pen to write.

This is the story of a young French woman, Eloïse Caussade, who tries to track down the Soviet agent who attempted to murder her brother in a car crash in Paris. But nothing is as it seems, so she leaves Paris to return to her father’s bull farm in the Camargue where her brother is recuperating from his injuries. There she finds herself trapped between two worlds that are on a collision course. One is the quiet rural life that is the world she believes she has outgrown and to which her childhood friend Léon still belongs. The other is the tense and dangerous existence of those caught up in the Cold War between America and Soviet Russia, a world in which lies, spies and murder entwine to drag Eloïse into their dark web. She cannot ignore the blood in the barn or the fire in her father’s stables. Her family is being targeted and she has to find the killer. But she has a lot to learn about herself and with the help and love of her friend Léon, who is now the local police chief, she battles to discover the truth. The Guardian of Lies is a fast-paced thriller but also a powerful love story.

Kate. Who says it isn’t? I admit I didn’t actually bump into any while I was cruising Arles’ colourful market for the gorgeous local lavender soap, but I know you hamsters are cunning critters and might have been lurking in the shadows, watching my every move. After all, The Guardian of Lies is a spy thriller, right? While I was checking out the bars in the back streets of the ancient city – in the interest of research of course – and watching local artists at work at their easels, I swear I could hear the scurrying of scratchy little feet over the cobbles and tiny French voices squeaking about world domination. La domination du monde.

So don’t give me this guff about “it ain’t home to hamstahs”. I got ears.

 

Kate.  Well, yes, that’s easy. I confess that I do set my stories in countries that I’d love to visit on a research trip. So far I’ve used China, Russia, Singapore, the Bahamas, Italy, France, Germany and Egypt (which included an awesome ride in a hot-air balloon at dawn over the desert) as the backdrop for my books. Oh, how I suffer for the sake of my art! But I have a mighty hankering to see more of Africa. You know, I’ve never been on an African safari and I’ve always wanted to do so.

That would be quite some research trip, to get to view the Big Five – lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant and Cape buffalo – in their natural habitat would be truly mesmerising. Unforgettable. I’m sure I could weave a thrilling story around a moment of conflict over land and resources within the Masai Mara game reserve in Kenya. Ivory poachers. Political corruption. Loss of natural habitat. Romance and murder against a ticking clock as they fight to save the elephants. Bring it on. Maybe even a colony of hamsters endangered by the waste disposal of a local chemical plant. Hey, Bobby Bub, how about coming out to do the research with me?

 

Kate . Yes, definitely. Look at us. One of my major inspirations for The Guardian of Lies was my terror at what I see happening in the world today. We are in the grip of another Cold War between America and Russia, though now they fight their battles on the bloody land in the Middle East, not on American or Russian soil. The fingers of seeming psychopaths hover dangerously close to nuclear buttons.

The threat is ever present, so I wanted to take a look back to a time in 1953 when the world was on the brink of a nuclear war between Soviet Russia and America, when both countries were frantically trying to amass information on each other’s military secrets and nuclear developments.

Spies and counter-spies lurked in every walk of life, in government, industry, laboratories and education. They were everywhere. Sound familiar?

This atmosphere of suspicion, lies and fear only intensified in 1953 when the USA decided to construct a series of eleven nuclear air bases in France to create a formidable line of defence/attack against the Soviet threat. This struck me as a fascinating and revealing moment of brinkmanship that we should be examining closely now. I believe an important part of the job of a historical writer is to make the past more accessible to today’s readers. To offer them the chance to learn from the mistakes of those who came before us. I hope this book will encourage people of today to take a closer look at those into whose hands we place immense power. To think again. And to demand a safer world to live in.

Kate  Well, now, BB, what a humdinger of a trip this is going to be! Get your shades on and don’t forget your cute shorts, because it gets hot down there. We’d start with fancy croissants and a few laps of the pool at our beautiful old hotel, L’Hotel du Forum, in the ancient heart of the city of Arles. What? You’re not a swimmer? You don’t like getting your fur wet! I thought all hamsters could swim, but okay, I get it, you’re not a lemming. Calm down. Let’s head out instead to explore the magnificent Roman remains that are the focus of the city.

 

The massive Roman amphitheatre is the place to start. It’s breathtaking. It was built in 90 AD with seating for over 20,000 spectators to watch the chariot races and bloody hand-to-hand battles. I can picture you clashing swords with Gladiator Hamstah Dickens in the arena with blood-curdling yells. And then we’d wander down to admire the beautiful brickwork on the Roman bathhouse and take to the stage in the Roman theatre, where we could act out a romantic scene from Antony and Cleopatra.

After that let’s take a breather at the gorgeous little Van Gogh café in the shady Place du Forum. The artist Vincent van Gogh used to hang out there and made it famous by creating a wonderful night-time painting of it.. We’ll down a glass or two of vino and a platter of plump Camarguais olives, then we’ll head off on safari in an open Land Rover to explore the unspoiled marshland of the Camargue, a protected area that is stunning. Here the white horses and the scary black bulls roam wild among the tamarisk tress and the saltwater lagoons. But watch out for the mozzies – they’re nearly as big as the bulls. The area is bursting with abundant birdlife – white egrets, plovers and avocets – which we can observe through binoculars.

What’s that you say? You can’t find binoculars to fit your cute button nose?

Aw, don’t fret. Instead we’ll take a romantic stroll around the water’s edge of the étangs just as the evening sun is sinking and the pools seem to catch fire. We can watch hundreds of skinny-legged flamingos lifting into the air with unexpected grace, a ribbon of pink and black trailing across the vast sky as they leave their feeding grounds to roost for the night.

 

Ready for something to eat? Okay, it’s back to Arles for dinner at the superb Hotel Jules César – a 7th century ex-nunnery – its décor all dolled up now in bright knock-your-eyes-out Christian Lacroix colours. (Arles was Lacroix’s home town.) Fancy a cocktail? Champers with apple brandy? Great choice. Then I recommend their fab signature dish of Risotto de Langoustines, followed by a Crêpe Soufflé au Grand Marnier. To die for! And if you fancy kicking up your heels, tossing aside your jolie French beret and dancing the rest of the night away, there’s always the Irish pub which has live music and vino till you drop. Santé!

Sleep well. Tomorrow we’ll start with a river trip on the mighty Rhône …..

It’s been great chatting with you guys today and I can’t wait to read the great opus that will one day emerge from the Master. Thanks for having me over and for not scaring the hell out of me this time. Hugs to ya, BB. xx

*** The top ten bestselling author ***
Discover a brilliant story of love, danger, courage and betrayal, from the internationally bestselling author of The Survivors.
1953, the South of France. The fragile peace between the West and Soviet Russia hangs on a knife edge. And one family has been torn apart by secrets and conflicting allegiances.

 

A page turner I didn’t want to finish, is probably the best way to sum up this book set in France in the Cold War. A world of Communism, Capitalism, murder and espionage, both sides of the two coins presented centre stage, without preachifying, but with the rock of the Camargue standing like a magnificent bulwark, a character in its own right, untameable as the horses that roam it, a shaper of those who live on it. Eloise is such a character. Paris may have gotten into her blood, the Camargue is in her soul. As for what’s in her brother Andre’s soul? Well, that is what we are unravelling. Exactly who is he working for? And what will happen next because of it? Such is Kate Furnivall’s skill that little trails of breadcrumbs suggest things about Andre and many of the other major players, but that bit rightly waits for the finale. The skill doesn’t end there. From the street café in Arles, to the roadside trees, the prose is rich in an imagery that never swamps. Nor does the pacing flag. For me this book opened a window on a post war Europe fight I knew little about and I’m glad that it did. I consider it one of the author’s finest.

All in the game with Catherine Cavendish

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Scary Games Your Mother Never Warned You About by Catherine Cavendish

 

Many of us – especially horror fans – enjoy a good scare.

It’s all healthy fun, isn’t it?

Well, it can be but… as my characters discover in Garden of Bewitchment, some games or toys are best left well alone. We’ve all heard of the infamous Ouija board but here are three games to try out that you may never have heard of, or perhaps they are variations of ones you have played when fuelled by slightly more wine than is good for you. These three can all be played by yourself – in fact you must be alone for the last one.

Ready? Then let’s begin with…Bloody Mary

You’ve probably seen this one in a film or two and it’s one you can play alone – if you dare. Simply go into your bathroom, lights off and door closed, but with one lit candle. Face the mirror and say ‘Bloody Mary’ (inject some Karloff-like atmosphere into it). Repeat twice more. Now stare hard into the mirror. You’ll see her standing behind you…or…she will scratch you…or…she will drag you into the mirror and trap you there forever.

On second thoughts, probably best to have someone with you. They can help pull you out.

Baby Blue

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Another one you can play alone. If you’re successful with this one, a baby will manifest right there in your arms. It’s just… well, you remember Rosemary’s Baby, right?

Here’s how it goes: Off you go into the bathroom (strange how many of these games work best in the bathroom isn’t it? Maybe it’s the condensation). Lights off and door closed again. No candle this time though. You should be in pitch darkness. Look into the dark mirror and cradle your arms as if you were nursing a baby. Say ‘Baby blue, baby blue’ a total of 13 times and you will then feel the weight of a baby in your arms. Once that happens, you need to flush the creature down the toilet. Act fast before a woman manifests herself in the mirror and screams at you to give her baby back. Fail to deposit that unholy devil child and its mother will scratch you.

Elevator Game to Otherworld

For this one, you need a fairly tall building (at least 10 floors, or 9 if you are in the UK) and an elevator. You also, if reports are to be believed, need nerves of steel and a strong constitution as the results can be dramatic and long lasting. Essentially, this game is said to open up a portal to the other world. There are a number of stages, so let’s get going.

  1. Get into the elevator on the first floor (or ground floor if you are in the UK. From now on, in the interests of simplicity I shall use the American method of counting floors. My British readers merely need to deduct one floor from each measurement!) You must be by yourself. If anyone else gets in, you’ll have to start again. Press the button for Floor 4.
  2. When the elevator reaches the fourth floor, don’t get out. Press the button for Floor 2.
  3. Don’t get out when the elevator reaches Floor 2. Press the button for Floor 6.
  4. Once again, when the elevator arrives at the sixth floor, stay inside and press the button for Floor 2.
  5. Don’t get out at Floor 2. Press the button for Floor 10. There have been reports that, on arriving at the second floor at this stage, people have heard voices calling them. Whatever you do, don’t reply or make any kind of response.
  6. At the tenth floor, stay inside the elevator and press the button for Floor 5.
  7. There have been reports that a woman may enter the elevator at Floor 5 and she may try to engage you in conversation, even though you know you have never met before. It could be a mere pleasantry. It will seem perfectly innocent. It isn’t. Don’t respond or in any way acknowledge her presence or remarks. Stare at the floor, the ceiling, the lift buttons, anything but her.
  8. Press the button for the first floor. At this point, the elevator will either do what you request – in which case, get out at the first floor, and leave the building. On no account look back. You were not meant to visit Otherworld today. If, however, the elevator ignores your command and takes you up to the 10th floor, you may choose to get out. If you are presently sharing the elevator with a woman who entered on the fifth floor, she will probably ask you where you are going. Again, ignore her. Do not respond by word or gesture, or she will probably accompany you and you will have the devil’s own task of getting rid of her. In fact, it is highly likely that she will take possession of you.
  9. You will know you have arrived at Otherworld if the only person in it is you.
  10. When you decide to return, you must use the same elevator. Once inside, press the button for Floor 4 and then repeat steps 3-7.
  11. Once you arrive once again at Floor 5, press the button for Floor 1. The elevator will begin to ascend to Floor 10. Press a button for any other floor and do it quickly – before the elevator reaches the tenth. Provided you do this, you will cancel the ascent and you can press Floor 1 again and descend safely.
  12. Once you arrive at Floor 1, have a good look around before you get out. If anything seems wrong, repeat steps 10 and 11 and keep on until all is normal on Floor 1. You will then know you have returned to your own world.

You can see this is not a game for the faint-hearted. In fact, it is my belief you would have to be pretty crazy to attempt it. Before you do, read this account of what happened when the instructions weren’t full adhered to. If this doesn’t put you off, nothing will, so good luck and I’ll hope to see you on the other side.

https://thoughtcatalog.com/anonymous/2016/12/i-played-the-elevator-game-and-i-did-it-wrong-the-woman-followed-me-back/

Don’t play the game.

 

In 1893, Evelyn and Claire leave their home in a Yorkshire town for life in a rural retreat on their beloved moors. But when a strange toy garden mysteriously appears, a chain of increasingly terrifying events is unleashed. Neighbour Matthew Dixon befriends Evelyn, but seems to have more than one secret to hide. Then the horror really begins. The Garden of Bewitchment is all too real and something is threatening the lives and sanity of the women. Evelyn no longer knows who – or what – to believe. And time is running out.

 

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About the Author

Cat first started writing when someone thrust a pencil into her hand. Unfortunately as she could neither read nor write properly at the time, none of her stories actually made much sense. However as she grew up, they gradually began to take form and, at the tender age of nine or ten, she sold her dolls’ house, and various other toys to buy her first typewriter – an Empire Smith Corona. She hasn’t stopped bashing away at the keys ever since, although her keyboard of choice now belongs to her laptop.

 

The need to earn a living led to a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance but Cat is now the full-time author of a number of supernatural, ghostly, haunted house and Gothic horror novels and novellas, including The Haunting of Henderson Close, the Nemesis of the Gods trilogy – Wrath of the Ancients, Waking the Ancients, Damned by the Ancients – The Devil’s Serenade, Dark Avenging Angel, The Pendle Curse, Saving Grace Devine and Linden Manor. Her short stories have appeared in the anthologies Haunted Are These Houses and Midnight in the Graveyard.

 

She lives in Southport with her longsuffering husband and black cat (who remembers that her species used to be worshipped in ancient Egypt and sees no reason why that practice should not continue).

 

When not slaving over a hot computer, Cat enjoys rambling around stately homes, circles of standing stones and travelling to favourite haunts such as Vienna and Orkney.

 

Catherine Cavendish

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