Wednesday Spotlight ~ The Life We Lead: Ascending by George M. Nagle

It gives me great pleasure to introduce a fellow member of Mystery Authors International George M. Nagle. Welcome George! If you like a good mystery with a dose of romance then read on…..

NF: I hear you have a new book soon to be released? How exciting! Can you tell us a bit about it?

GN:  The Life We Lead: Ascending is just the first in a series of what should be three books. At 425 pages, it is the shortest of the series and really the introduction to James, the group, Carissa and a whole cast of others. The Life We Lead follows James, the main character as he battles criminal syndicates while trying to have a normal life.  It is inspired by real-life events, however, names, places, timelines and such have all been altered.  This story has been 25 years in the making and certainly won’t disappoint with an incredible ending to the series.  It is based on the reality of spying, so the far-fetched gadgets and such like those found in James Bond won’t be appearing. It is a spy novel has lots of twists and turns that can make you laugh, cry, feel the characters outrage and even love.  The subtitle of the book is a clue to why it ends where it does too.

NF: Wow, it sounds right up my street. 25 years is a long time, that’s a lot of research! Can you tell us a bit about the story?

GN: The DEA, FBI, and CIA have failed for years to bring down the Spara family, who control the world’s largest drug cartel. A secret society of spies whose members are under the age of 25 will try to succeed where the government has failed.At only 21 years old, James is the most skillful member of this society. His new target is the Spara family. Through their relationship with Russia, the

At only 21 years old, James is the most skillful member of this society. His new target is the Spara family. Through their relationship with Russia, the Sparas are the largest distributor of heroin in the world.  While beginning his investigation in Russia, James inadvertently saves the life of a former KBG officer who has a connection to the Tan family. This connection leads James farther into the heart of the criminal cartel.  However, the Tans have a dark secret of their own, which could jeopardize James’s perfect record and his tenure as a spy as he struggles to do what is right while protecting his family, friends and the love of his life.

 

George has kindly allowed me to give you a taste of ‘The Life We Lead: Ascending’ ~

Excerpt from Chapter 03

[context:  James and Daen capture Nikolias after Petior has been abducted.]

“You are our prisoner, but you are a captive of whatever group you…” Daen began, but Nikolias cut him off.

“What makes you think I want to leave?” growled Nikolias.

“When you help us, your bosses will not be too happy with you. You and your cousin will need to leave to survive,” replied Daen.

“So he says,” Nikolias said curtly, with a head gesture towards James.

“What did he say? Why did he just do that?” asked James.

“Sounds like he doesn’t feel the need for our help. It seems he doesn’t want to, or have a reason to leave,” Daen replied, a puzzled look on his face.

“I am no traitor, and I will die to help our fraternity and country. I am loyal and believe in things, unlike you American dogs,” Nikolias stated in English.

James bowed his head, closed his eyes, and rubbed his left temple for a moment with his left hand. He dragged it down his face before speaking again.

“Okay, tell us what the fraternity’s cause is. What’s so special about it that you’re willing to risk your life, your cousin’s life, because someone felt I disrespected them near a train?” asked James.

Nikolias laughed. “We know you’re looking for drugs. You feel drugs are not disrespectful and destroying. You think we do not know that is why you are here? We see you peoples, and how you treat us. You all deserve death for your exploits on us, and our children.”

NF: Thank you so much for joining me today George, it has been a real pleasure. If you too have been taken by ‘A Life We Lead: Ascending’ then grab yourself a copy – It will be released on September 26th in all versions. Buy links are below. Here’s wishing you every success.

Check out this trailer for The Life We Lead: Ascending YOUTUBE

About the Author:

George is the 3rd of 6 children and grew up in western Pennsylvania. He earned his BS in Biology from the University of Pittsburgh, his MSc in Biology and his MBA in Marketing and Management from Duquesne University. He is also a Master 5th degree black belt in the art of Taekwondo with Young Brothers in Pittsburgh. He currently in a global marketing and strategy professional in science industries. He also has one son, Matthew.

To connect with George Nagle: Website  Facebook  Twitter  Amazon Author Page  Goodreads Author Page  Smashwords Author Page

 

 

 

 

Hashtags and Other Tales

These days the humble # is found everywhere. Hashtags are a necessary part of marketing as any fun loving marketeer or PR guru will tell you. Started on Twitter their reach now extends across most media platforms.They can be used for fun, wider social or political issues or just because. Love them or loathe them they are here to stay. For authors, they can be a useful way of reaching a wider audience and potentially connecting with new readers. That is of course if you get it right.

Having cast my eye over today’s trending offerings everything from #internationalbeerday to #FlashbackFriday is filling my twitter feed.So how as a rooky can you even come close to ‘trending’ or at the very least expand your audience? Here’s one thing I’ve learned about expanding your audience which I wanted to share with you. You need to know who the top influencers are in your field.Now, this is where it gets a bit sciencey so bear with me. Top influencers are those tweeters who have received the most impressions for a hashtag from their own tweets and the number of retweets they get. So how do you find them? Ah well… The easiest but also most expensive way is to pay someone to do it for you. Just type into Google ‘top influencers twitter’ and you will be presented with a wealth of companies offering you bespoke services. Or you could do what I did and do it the cheap way! Take a look a company called Klout who offer a free service. Klout allows you to share content and link you social media accounts to see how influential and engaging you have been on social media. Using a fancy algorithm it then spits out your score of influence from 1 – 100. I got 49 so obviously I am not as engaging as I like to think and still have some way to go! What I really like about this app is it allows you to identify the top experts (influencers) in your field who you can choose to follow.You can also monitor how you’re doing via your ‘Klout Score’ which changes dependant on the aforesaid fancy algorithm. It’s a great way of expanding your audience and increasing your online presence.Until recently I had no idea such things existed but as all good indies know it takes a lot of hard graft to raise your wee small hand in the maddening crowd. Simples yes? I hope you too have found this small journey into the unknown helpful 🙂

#It’sthesmallthings #EnjoyLife #AmWriting #NeverGiveUp #FridayThoughts

Opening Lines… Getting Hooked!

Today has been a very good day. Today I have managed to finish another 3,000 words and it is only 3 pm! Not bad, not bad at all. By way of a reward, yes I do need to reward myself, I have started on the chocolate. Lindt chocolate with hazelnuts to be precise. Now 4 squares in, I’m starting to feel a bit sick. I love chocolate but it must be said I am a light weight. The same is not true of wine. Wine deserves a blog post all to itself! I digress, now where was I?…Ah yes, today has proved to be a good writing day. If I had to sum it up in one word I would say ‘hooked’. Yep, that’s what I want my readers to be, hooked from the very beginning, in a way that is entertaining and keeps them turning the pages. Managing hooks and the expectations around them are never far from my mind. I worry a lot, about pretty much everything, but I especially worry about the beginning of a book and how much to reveal straight up. Are the first few pages interesting enough to warrant continued effort? Have I revealed too much too soon? It is a dilemma, a happy dilemma to have, but only when you get it right!

If you don’t get the beginning right nothing will fit correctly. Hooks are, in my opinion, inextricably linked to the first few pages. Of course, they feature throughout your story especially in thrillers and suspense novels. However, it is the beginning which will set the tone and pace, and push your story forward. You know when you’ve got it right because everything slots into place. Like a good solid jigsaw puzzle, the whole picture starts to emerge as each piece is placed correctly. Today has been a ‘placing the pieces correctly’ kind of day and I am over the moon.

I want my readers to open my first page and be transported into a personal version of the world I’ve created. Today my 3000 words flowed with ease because I reworked the beginning. Yep, I went back to the beginning, red pen and all. Earlier this week writing had been a  struggle. I sat, looking at a radiant blank screen. It remained blank for the whole day! There was nothing for it but to go back to the beginning and try to figure out what was going on, and that’s when I realised some of the pieces had been misplaced. I shifted around a few key sentences and rearranged those opening lines and viola! Success!

You get one shot and one shot only at asking readers to invest their time and emotions into your book. They will want a return on that investment. Your opening is your big reveal, you do not want to disappoint. Being able to fulfill your readers’ anticipation and carry them with you as the story develops is the most amazing feeling, as I said, you do not want to disappoint. If you lose a reader at the beginning it will be hard to pull them back, first impressions really do count! So with that in mind, I have put together a few questions that I asked myself when I faced the dreaded blank screen! Challenge yourself and ask yourself the same questions, you may find they help you complete your own puzzle. Sometimes you have to write the opening last, sometimes you have to write it or rewrite it midway through, as in my case. Whenever you turn to the opening, make sure you give it your full attention.

  1. Have I grabbed the readers attention within the first few paragraphs?
  2. Have I grabbed them firmly or is it more of a gentle nudge? ~ If it’s a gentle nudge rewrite.
  3. Is the opening talking to the readers I’m trying to attract?  ~ No good telling them about lemons when the rest of the book is about pears!
  4. Am I showing or telling?  ~ Show, always, no telling…
  5. Is there emotion? ~ Are my readers able to feel the pain, anger, happiness, envy, love etc.
  6. Is my narrative voice compelling? ~ Can readers connect to my protagonist’s voice.
  7. Why here? Is the starting point a pivotal moment.
  8. Am I intrigued, do I want to know more?

My favourite opening lines are from Charles Dickens A Tale of Two Cities, what’s yours? Please leave a comment below I’d love to know!

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

Friday Feature ~ Paradise Girl by Phill Featherstone

Today I would like to give a warm West Country welcome to author Phill Featherstone and his novel Paradise Girl. Welcome Phill! As soon as I read the blurb for Paradise Girl I was intrigued! It is very close to the top of my TBR pile now… Can you tell us a bit about yourself, where you grew up and perhaps how this has influenced your writing?

I grew up on the Pennines only a few miles from Haworth, where the amazing Brontë sisters lived and wrote. As a child and teenager I roamed the landscape, striding like Heathcliff (I liked to think ) over the peaty moors. After many years living and working in the south and the midlands I returned here, to my roots, and started writing.

Heathcliff eh?… pondering… OK let’s move on.. have you ever had a job other than that of a writer?

I took a degree in English and qualified as a teacher. I taught English in secondary schools, mostly to 6th formers. I’ve also been a taxi driver, worked in a store and sold ice cream (I was Mr Whippy!)

Wow English teacher, now that’s a tough gig, all those teenagers! Yes a tough gig indeed! So tell us a bit about the inspiration behind Paradise Girl?

I live on the hills overlooking a small town in the valley. In the summer of 2013 there was a power cut. The day was still and hot. I worked on my laptop until the battery ran down, then took a cold drink out into the garden. I settled on a bench and looked around, and it struck me: I couldn’t see or hear any movement. None at all, except for the silent revolution of the wind turbines on the opposite hill. There were no signs of life anywhere. It was as if the valley and all around it had gone into a state of suspended animation.

I had a thought. Suppose there was no one else. Suppose everyone had disappeared – perhaps run away, been taken by aliens, or felled by some deadly virus. What would I do? How would I survive? Could I?

The idea for Paradise Girl was born. All that was left was to write it.

I’ve wondered that at times too, sometimes I think it’s a real possibility. What are you currently working on?

I’ve just finished a new novel, called The God Jar. It begins with a young couple on holiday on the Cornish coast finding a mysterious jar. The action jumps back 400 years to the court of Queen Elizabeth I and to Dr John Dee, known as ‘the Queen’s magician’. We learn what the jar actually is, something of its potency, and how the Doctor used it to change the course of history.

Back in the present, the couple learn that their find is very special. Others are interested in it and in the power it brings, and they will stop at nothing to get it.

Oh, I think that’s called a time-slip mystery thriller, well that’s what I’m calling it! The God Jar sounds really interesting…em… I can see I shall have to decant my TBR pile onto the floor when The God Jar is released! Now talking of going back in time… If you could go back in time what would you tell your younger self?

Start writing sooner. Don’t hang about or make excuses. Make time, make space, and get on with it!

Really good advice Phill. I think I would tell myself the same thing! Thank you so much for joining me today. Phill will kindly be giving away a signed copy of Paradise Girl to one lucky reader. All you have to do is leave a comment below. The winner will be chosen at random. To give you a taste here’s the blurb followed by a snippet:

Paradise Girl

Paradise Girl is told through the diaries of 17 year-old Kerryl Shaw. The Shaw family live on a remote hilltop farm, and they think this will insulate them from a highly infectious virus which sweeps the country. It doesn’t, and with her family and all around her gone Kerryl finds herself alone. Her diaries show how isolation and loneliness affect her, and build to a dramatic conclusion on the northern moors.

“…impossible to put down… writing of a high literary standard, with the kind of psychological depth which lingers in the mind long after reading.”

Here’s the snippet:

I messaged my friend Josie. No reply. I called her number but there was no answer there either. I wanted to go to her house to find out what had happened but Lander, my brother, said I was being selfish.

‘What happens if you catch the virus and bring it back?’ he said. ‘Do you want to infect all of us?’

Of course I didn’t, but I was worried about Josie. I called Penny Cross. She lives in the same street as Josie. She said she didn’t know about Josie herself but she’d seen an ambulance outside her house. I said that might mean they were taking somebody to hospital.

‘No,’ she said, ‘nobody goes to hospital any more. They’re using ambulances for hearses now.’

I called Steve. The picture kept jumping but I could see he looked awful. He said everybody was dying and the young people were having a ‘Death’s Doorway’ party. They were going to dance and drink and shag and get high until one by one they dropped. He said people were breaking into the stores and taking what they wanted and there was no one there to stop them. He said I should join him, because if you’ve got to go that’s the way to do it.

He swung his phone in an arc. There were a lot of people in the street. Some of them were half naked, some had bottles, some were dancing. Several were lying on the floor, drunk or maybe dead. In the background a girl was puking up. It made me feel sick.

I told Lander about the pictures. ‘Good for them,’ he said.

I got angry then. How could he not see how awful it was? ‘Why don’t you go and join them if you think it’s so fantastic?’ I yelled.

Lander and I seemed to be quarrelling a lot now. We didn’t used to, well, not as much. We might have gone on as we were for who knows how long. We might all have survived, because as long as we kept to ourselves how could the Infection get us?

Bryst put an end to that. I don’t blame him. He didn’t set out with the intention of killing us. He was just looking for some way to save his boy.

Wow, I can’t wait to read it. Once again thank you so much for sharing Paradise Girl with us Phill. Remember to be in with a chance of winning a signed copy please leave a comment in the box below.

Buy Links:

Amazon UK

Amazon USparadise Girl

Troubador

 

About the author

Phill was born and brought up in West Yorkshire and trained as a teacher before reading English at Cambridge. He also has an MA in Education.

Phill taught English in schools and colleges in London, Hampshire and Leicestershire and then spent five years as an education adviser for Northamptonshire Local Authority.

In 1997 he and his wife, Sally Featherstone, started a publishing company specialising in resources for the early years. The company won the IPG Education Publisher of the Year award in 2007, and in 2008 the business was acquired by Bloomsbury Publishing. From 2008 until 2014 Phill and Sally ran a company providing training services for teachers. Since then he has spent his time on writing and conservation work. He has co-written with Sally several books for teachers and he now concentrates on fiction.

When he’s not writing, Phill enjoys reading (of course), listening to music, going to concerts, galleries and the theatre, and playing the saxophone (badly). He lives in a farmhouse on the pennines overlooking the Calder Valley. Phill is a member of The Society of Authors.

RPFeatherstone

Connect with author Phill Featherstone:

Author Website

Twitter

Facebook

Goodreads

Oh The Things You Can Think…. Finding The Space Between The Words… Progress on Book 3

I appear to in the throes of a writing frenzy. Whether it’s the longer days, or the (slightly) warmer weather I am unsure.  It doesn’t happen often so when it does, I strap myself in and type as fast as my stubby fingers will allow. Then I hit the wall. I lay exhausted in a crumpled heap until chocolate and caffeine (or wine) revive me. I break only to feed the hungry teens and walk the dog. Everything takes on increased speed and unwavering focus as I hurtle towards my word count. Sound familiar?

What I hadn’t banked on was the rest of my life becoming equally as crazy.I do like a good dose of procrastination to balance things out, but sadly this week there was no time for it! Procrastination, for me, is like an annoying friend. You can’t wait to see the back of them but then miss them when they’re gone! It has only been a four day week (due to the bank holiday), and even then I had Tuesday off, so technically… well actually, I only worked three days. I know  – I’m a light weight!

So the book, how’s the book coming along? Well, I’m glad you asked! Last night at precisely 11.45pm I hit 40,000 words! 40,00 words on a book that I had no intention of writing, not bad eh? Yeah, I was impressed with myself too! Suffice to say Lady Virginia Penrose has been very busy and very bossy! I’m aiming for around 85,000 words so you could say I’m almost half way. I’m hoping to get finished before the end of the year, but I’m not going to hold myself too firmly to a date. Writing this book has taken me by surprise so I want to try and find the space between the words, give them time to breathe. Hopefully, it will help the different strands find their way. Which is why this weekend I am leaving it be. Yep, you heard me, I won’t be going anywhere near Lady Ginny. I shall of course still be writing! I have an interesting blog post to write about an Alien and some wine, no I haven’t been drinking, well not yet.

So me hearties ( oh no, I’ve gone all West Country… must stop thinking about the return of Poldark), pop back tomorrow to hear about the Alien. Until then here is a picture I took at St James Park in London a few weeks ago… I am desperately trying to channel the Swan!

 

Swan1

 

Friday Feature….The Curious Tale of Creating an Audio Book….

Creating an audio book was not something I had thought about too deeply until recently. My friend and fellow mystery author Phyllis Entis began the process of converting her Damien Dickens Mysteries trilogy sometime back in 2016. I watched with interest as each book was brought to life. It was not an althogether smooth process, but the end result was amazing. It got me to thinking (yes I do still have a few brain cells left in good working order). How much time do I spend in the car or on the train or even doing the washing up? Surely it could be time better spent.There is never as much time as I would like to read a book, so why not listen to one? And that is exactly what I did! I chose a book by one of my favourite writers – Robert Bryndza. The Girl in The Ice is a book I know very well, I think I’ve read it three times! Hearing the book read aloud despite knowing the story gave it a new dimension. How you read something in your head compared to hearing it read out loud gives it a different flow, different punctuation. It surprised me.

I’ve ‘ummed and ‘arred about whether I should go down the audio route for All Tomorrow’s Parties .My main doubt revolved around my protagonists voice. Would it be possible to find a narrator who would be able to portray Laine Marshall exactly as she sounds inside my head? I made myself a promise. If after two months I was unable to find a narrator who was a solid vocal fit then I would take it as a sign it was not meant to be. I would park the idea on the back burner and leave it there… Well life has a way of kicking up the preverbial don’t you find? This week I am very excited to announce I have found my Laine Marshall! A young British actress who will be giving a living voice to All Tomorrow’s Parties I am bowled over. More news on this over the coming weeks but to say I am excited is an understatement! If all goes well  there will be an audio version of All Tomorrow’s Parties by July. Just in time for your holidays. Sometimes life is just grand!

If you can’t wait until then you can downlaod a kindle copy or grab yourself a paperback version here –

Today is Brought to You by The Letter U

Providing a taxi service for number 3 son last night, I found an unexpected nugget of writing gold. Anyone with children of a certain age will be familiar with the ‘taxi of mum and dad’. Hours of tiresome journeys, interspersed with sitting and waiting, followed by further tiresome journeys.  I’ve often wondered why the legal driving age is not 12 –  that would be OK wouldn’t it??

I digress… Last night, awaiting the return of my Tae Kwondo enthusiast, I sat aimlessly flicking through the car radio stations. A word caught me, it was unfamiliar and sparked my interest, so I scrolled back. The word was ‘Uhtceare’.

Uhtceare ~ ( pronounced oot key-are-a)

An Old English word that refers to anxiety experienced just before dawn. It describes that moment when you wake up too early and can’t get back to sleep, no matter how tired you are, because you’re worried about the day to come.

Unbeknownst to me, I had long been a sufferer of uhtceare! I listened avidly to the show, absolutely enthralled. A radio programme devoted to forgotten words. Who knew there were so many? I was in heaven! Our language constantly lives and evolves. Words come into, and go out of fashion. Some change meaning, whilst others fade and sometimes disappear. As any writer will tell you, the sound and meaning of unknown words, is like nectar to the Gods. Each word carries its own sense of identity and purpose. New words allow you to expand your linguistic creativity even further. It’s like Christmas and birthdays and chocolate and wine – you get the picture! The words I heard were all part of a book called ‘The Horologican’ by Mark Forsyth. It is a book devoted to the most extraordinary words in the English language, according to the hour of day you may need them!

After doing a bit of research on the big G, I have decided to make it my mission to include a few of these unusual offerings within future works. Here’s a few examples you may/may not find useful:

  • Snollygoster – A 19th century American word for ‘ a dishonest or corrupt politician’.  I can not think why on earth we might need this word ( tongue firmly placed in cheek).
  • Flabergudgion – A mischievous or nasty person
  • Wamblecropt –  Overcome with indigestion.

 

Right then I am off to gongoozle………

I’ve put a link here for your enjoyment – happy reading!

The Power of One

It is almost a week since the release of my second novel Forbidden Colours. I am happy to report things have not gone too badly. After an initial heart in the mouth moment, the print copies are now all shiny and beautiful!! A friend of mine asked if she could get my books at the library and that got me to thinking… There is absolutely no reason why not but… and this is where the power of 1 comes in… you will need to ask for it. You may in fact need to ask and keep asking, or you may need to make friends with the lovely librarian. I would love for my books to be available in libraries. Not everyone can afford to buy books and not everyone wants to own them, but everyone should have access to read them. In these times of budget cuts and austerity, libraries are a valuable resource worth endorsing. I would like to ask for your help. Next time you are near your local library, go and browse, see what you can find and if you feel able, ask for my book. The power of 1 is a wonderful gift!

 

Cover Reveal ~ Forbidden Colours

I am very pleased to announce my second novel  ‘Forbidden Colours’ is due for release on December 8th. A very exciting time in the Fitton household I can tell you! Forbidden Colours is available to pre-order via Amazon Kindle right here. In the meantime here’s something to whet your appetite……

forbidden-colours-high-resolution-version-2

 

What if your memories were not your memories? What if the drug hailed as a cure is to be your curse and ultimately your destruction?

Midori Yates works for pharmaceutical giant KLD. The launch of new drug Centoria has revolutionised the treatment of amnesia with outstanding results. Future trials exploring its use in the treatment of Alzheimer’s are on the horizon. But is it really as good as the data suggests?  Neurologist Dr Nick Campbell has seen amazing results with his patients and is ready to believe in Centorias transformational ability. That is until his patients start displaying strange and worrying symptoms.

Determined to uncover the truth, Midori Yates and Nick Campbell find a conspiracy that threatens to engulf both of them with devastating consequences. They need to not only survive but live. This contemporary thriller will have you turning the pages long into the night.