The Journey…

My current work in progress has been a long hard slog. It has danced fast and slow, and at times come to a halt. There were moments when I wondered if it was to be an ‘eternal’ work in progress, destined to be placed on the back burner and dusted off every now and again. But I have pulled myself together and viola!

As many of you know, I have been working on an historical fiction novel for the past few years. This has involved an enormous amount of research. I have read books both fiction and non fiction, spoken to historians, and tried to get under the skin of the time period. I have realised that amidst the changes brought on by moderisation and technology, hidden within the cracks of wars and disasters, lies a truth which transcends everything – we, ‘people’, we don’t really change that much. Certain aspects of who we are have remained constant. Like night following day we continue to love and laugh and cry. It has been a wonderful journey, full of so much richness and discovery. Quite what I shall do once I finally hang up the red pen on this one I’m not sure, but one thing I do know is that it has been well worth the ride!

2017 My Year in Books

So many books, so little time will always ring true for me. My Magpie tenancies are definitely of the bookish variety. I am reading more books now than ever before and it’s wonderful! I undertook the GoodReads reading challenge and am doing a rather smug happy dance as I have completed it. This year, I have read 40, yes that’s 40 books! Pop on over  to Good Reads to see my complete list.

I’m reminded of that wonderful poem by Eleanor Farjeon, but rather than sleeping anywhere like the cats in the poem, I’m have done the equivalent with reading! Whether an inflight magazine, a thrilling novel, or just simply a set of instructions for a new mop (don’t ask…). Each has got me thinking in different ways – yes, even the mop instructions!

Reading so much does have a downside… I have fallen victim to the good, the bad, and the downright ugly! Luckily, for me, 2017 has been more about ‘the good’ than anything else. It is these books that I wish to highlight as we turn the last few pages of 2017. So, if you’re looking for a good read look no further. My taste is eclectic and broad, each one of my mentions has something different to offer, hopefully you will find something to spark your interest. My goal for 2018 is to challenge myself further, not only with the amount I read, but also the genres I choose. It will be an exciting year as I peer into those far flung, least visited corners of the library….

I have very thoughtfully listed my top reads for 2017 below …. with buy links…..my gift to you 🙂 You can thank me later:

Robert Bryndza – Cold Blood

Lynne Fellows – Magic O’Clock

Celeste Ng – Everything I Never Told You

Ruth Hogan – The Keeper of Lost Things

Iris Chacon – Finding Miranda

J.F.Kirwan – 66 Metres

Rachel Caine – Stillhouse Lake

Viveca Sten – Still Waters

So, I’ve shown you mine, now it’s your turn. What books have you enjoyed reading this year?

Here’s to 2018 being a year filled with health and happiness, and plenty of good reads.

I have written this post on my phone whilst travelling, so apologies if the formatting is a bit ‘special’.

Love Secrets & Absolution Blog Tour

Today is my day to host author K.L Loveley on her Love, Secrets, and Absolution Blog tour. Below you will find details about the book released on November 1st, where to buy it, and a brief bio on the author. To be in with a chance of winning a goodie bag full of prizes hop on over to my competitions page and enter via the rafflecopter.

Book Blurb

People in the village gossip about Grace’s son, Alfie.

He’s a lonely boy full of secrets, lies, and obsessive thoughts.

How far can a mother’s love go? Will she ultimately sacrifice her life for his?

Set in Nottinghamshire, this family drama follows the lives of Grace and Alfie as he transforms from a naïve, young boy into a teenager spiralling out of control.

Love, Secrets, and Absolution is a coming of age story with a difference.

Deceit, betrayal, love, and addiction, a family falling apart in the midst of teenage angst and torn loyalties; will anybody find absolution?

What a great sounding book!  You can buy it here via Amazon USA  or  Amazon UK

K.L Loveley AuthorAbout the author

K.L Loveley is a former nurse, who has seen, heard, and dealt with a wide range of medical, social and family dramas. She has used her nursing experience, along with her excellent people-watching skills to create fascinating characters and intriguing scenarios within her books. She writes contemporary fiction, psychological dramas, and poetry.

Her debut novel Alice was published in February 2017, and the story tackles alcoholism head-on and presents the reader with an empathetic account of a spiraling addiction and the resulting pattern of hopelessness that many fall into.

K.L Loveley’s second novel Love, Secrets, and Absolution: An emotional and gripping psychological, family drama is a coming of age story with a difference. Deceit, betrayal, love, and addiction, this story is about a family falling apart in the midst of teenage angst and torn loyalties.

If you enjoy reading authors like Jodi Picoult and Diane Chamberlain, you will enjoy K.L Loveley!

K.L Loveley lives in Nottinghamshire, England and loves socialising with friends and family. She is an avid reader and enjoys a variety of genres including psychological, thrillers and historical fiction. Her favourite authors include John le Carré, K.L Slater, Marian Keyes and Philippa Gregory.

Website I Twitter I Facebook I Goodreads I Google+ I LinkedIn

Love, Secrets, and Absolution Blog Tour 2 - 10 November

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

 

 

 

 

Getting Your Head Down Whilst Keeping it in The Clouds

There comes a time in every writer’s life when all good things must come to an end right? Ah, I see I have your attention ……

I’m talking about editing the beast of a novel I have just completed. Hold on, did I say completed?? Yes, yes I did. Since completion, I have randomly danced around the house teaching my dog 1980s dance moves and spontaneously burst into song. All done much to the embarrassment of above my kids. I have taken myself and above-mentioned hound on long bracing walks and eaten my weight in chocolate. I am soooo rock and roll.

Whilst one major milestone has been uncoupled, another has landed firmly in its place.This one is bright red and has the word ‘EDIT‘ written in big bold scary letters.This time I have decided on a different approach to the ‘E’ word. I have parked feeling overwhelmed and underprepared. I have ditched worrying about cutting too much or too little. I have adopted a different mind set.

In business, there is often talk of improving by 1%. Here’s the concept. Sir David Brailsford – coach to the British Cycling Team believes in a concept called “the aggregation of marginal gains”. He explains it as “the 1% margin for improvement in everything you do”. His belief is that if you improved every area related to cycling by just 1%, then those small gains will add up to remarkable improvement. The British Cycling Team went from winning nothing to winning everything including the Tour de France. Now I am not suggesting I ride a bike, although lord knows I should after my calorific dalliance with cocoa based confectionery. No, I am going to adopt the 1% marginal gains principals for my editing.

The cyclists started by optimising things that were easy to improve. They changed their seats or improved their tyres that sort of thing. For me, that translated to checking my grammar and punctuation. The stuff I would ordinarily do,  but my aim was to do it better. Are you with me so far? OK, next the cyclists looked at the small insignificant things. Things that were over looked that nobody really noticed. They looked at things such as the pillows in hotel rooms, were they comfortable enough to aid restful sleep? So how could I apply this to my writing? What were the small things I had overlooked that could be tweaked and improved? I had to be brutally honest with myself. Was every word needed? If I could answer yes immediately I left it alone. If however, the answer I gave was more wishy washy then I applied further pressure.

Here’s an example. Adverbs. Oh, I love them! I know I love them and I know I use them excessively. Here’s what I mean. Consider this sentence:

‘Anna ran quickly across the car park, she looked back fearfully’.

Now whilst there is nothing wrong per-say it could be better, way better. In its current form, it is bulky and clumsy. Now compare it to this:

‘Anna ran across the car park, fear biting at her back’.

I ditched the adverbs, the result is a much punchier sentence. My 1% was staring me in the face with a wicked ‘I told you so’ grin.

Two days in and I am happy to report the editing is going well. I have settled into a new routine and I may even have time to go for a out for a bike ride!

 

Photo by Nikki Varkevisser Available at Flickr

 

Book 4

Now then you lovely ones, whilst you lot have been busy sunning yourselves I have been chipping away at the iceberg that is book 4. I am pleased to report progress is good. Book 4 is turning into a beaut. I’m over 70,000 words and estimate another 20,000 and I’ll be finished. Slashing and burning comes next (no it’s not a horror story), courtesy of a rather large red pen. Standing as judge and jury as each word fights for its right to be included is my least favourite part of the writing process. My approach of ‘harsh but fair’  should serve me well as I critically eye each phrase, each beat. Yes, these are fine words, the reality my friends is less so. Thing is, I’m a big softy. Each word will have me fighting for it too easily. The game of ‘keep or kill’ is never easy. It may take me some time, perhaps years, don’t hold your breath!

A quick glance backward confirms this has been my most challenging adventure to date. Let me explain, book 4 is a historical thriller. And your point is what? I hear you ask. I have never written anything vaguely historical unless you count writing about the 1980s in which case I’m an expert! Thrillers are my bag but not historical ones… yet. I have found a new appreciation for authors who write in this genre. In my small Devonshire world, I have elevated them to Godlike status. The sheer amount of research and tenacity needed is overwhelming. Book 4 has been a fascinating and exhausting experience.

It is set in 1912, a period of time which until recently I knew very little about. I had given up studying history at 16. My class had been too busy obsessing about the Tudors to pay any attention to something only a hundred years ago. As my protagonist kept piling on the pressure (‘are you going to write this book then or what? type of thing), I cast my eyes heavenward and set to it. My wish was and still is that my novel would be able to conjure up a real sense of the time and the place in which it’s set. I want my readers to get under the skin of the protagonist and use her eyes to see into her world. It is a world she has slowly been revealing to me. I had the story, a good plot and a very willful lead character, what I lacked was the historical accuracy. If I was serious about this book I had to do it justice. I  threw myself headlong into every piece of historical anything I could find from 1900 to 1920. I wanted to immerse myself. If it hadn’t been for my protagonist Virginia Penrose taking up residence in my head and refusing to leave I would still be clueless. If like me your knowledge of this time period is woefully light then take a leaf from my book (yes, deliberate pun intended) and read everything you can. It was a time of great change, a time when women had the courage to stand up for themselves. It hadn’t happened in isolation. The volcanic eruption that ensued had been bubbling away for centuries. My book is completely fictional, however, the time line is real. I have had to walk a delicate tightrope of marrying my ideas with the age in which they are set. Did people really think like that, what were the personal challenges, what were the expectations? I wanted to make it as realistic for the time as I could. Some things made the cut some did not.The joy has been watching not just my protagonist grow but also myself. Trying to get into the mind of a twenty something is never easy. Coupled with a backward time jump of over 100 years could be compared to how our younger generation of teens now views anyone older than 30. We have grown up in a different age, with different world views and collective opinions, some would say a different language too IMHO – see what I mean!

I have felt privileged to have the magic of a new book birthed before my very eyes. The most surprising part has been the challenges it has thrown my way. I have been challenged to re think assumptions which I had held without care or consideration. I watched them crumble and fall as I realised they were incorrect. It has been wonderful. I hope before long I will be able to present book 4 to you, red pens and editors permitting.

Now then what of book 3?

Soaring ~ My collection of short stories is due later this year. It is bright and bold and would make a perfect Christmas gift. Christmas, did I mention Christmas? Shameless, absolutely shameless!

 

Cover Reveal ~ Soaring ~ A Collection of Short Stories

Whilst work continues on books 3 and 4 I have been busy beavering away with my short story collection. For those of you that know me a short story collection will come as no surprise. I love the short form in all its gloriousness and have over the last few years built up an eclectic body of work. My shorts range from humorous and funny, to poignant and sad with everything in between. Each story ranges in length from 500 words up to 3,000. Many have been entered into competitions with the title piece ‘Soaring’ being shortlisted and featured in the Black Pear Press anthology for 2016.

I wrote my first short story in 2015. I had just finished reading fellow author Wayne Barton’s ghost story ‘Coal House’, which btw I would highly recommend. It stirred me to move out of my comfort zone. I did not want to write a ghost story, but I did want to try something new. I have always been a fan of short stories and toyed with the idea of giving it a go. I had just completed my debut novel All Tomorrow’s Parties and was thinking about writing Forbidden Colours. I put pen to paper and wrote my first piece of short fiction ‘6 months and 3 days’ over the course of an evening. It was 500 words long. The experience of using so few words to convey an entire story had made my mind do mental gymnastics but I loved it. I was unsure what I should do with it, so in typical fashion, I jumped in feet first and entered it into a flash fiction competition. I then forgot about it and got on with the task in hand – writing what would subsequently become Forbidden Colours.
A month or so later I heard I hadn’t won, I had not expected to, but I was shortlisted which was a big surprise. During a lull in proceedings with FC, I challenged myself a bit further and wrote ‘Come Tilly Come’, a 2,000-word tale of love and loss. I showed it to my sister and it made her cry, which was a good thing! CTC was longlisted in the Exeter Short Story Competition. It was another lovely surprise and gave me the confidence I needed to continue writing shorts as and when I could.
When I’m writing novels I like to step away from them to regroup and gather my thoughts. It’s what I need to do to maintain my sanity! Writing short stories to enable me to do that. They plug the void, making me think in different ways about everyday things and I love it. It’s a bit like therapy. What is it they say, a change is as good as a rest? Well, that’s certainly true in my case. I have to deliberate so hard over every single word it’s a real lesson in disciplined concentration! Once I’ve rewarded myself by writing a short story I returned energised to my larger pieces of work.

Don’t ever believe anyone who tells you short stories are easy to write – they are not. Every word needs to be needed, every word needs to count and every word needs to propel the story forward. So here I am, almost ready to release my first collection. It is scary and exciting.
‘Soaring’ is a story that features in the collection. It is a tale of marital abuse and the oppression of women. It is my favourite short story and it arrived quite by accident. One night whilst I was watching TV, I got up from the sofa, reached for my notepad and pen and started to write. By 2 am ‘Soaring’ had arrived.
There is something quite magical and edgy about crafting words to a defined number. Short stories stretch me in a way that screams ‘pay attention, it’s important’ and that’s what appeals. Whilst I have a little way to go before it’s release I wanted to show you its’ beautiful cover. Once again James at goonwrite.com has done me proud. He has designed all of my covers to date and they are all stunning. So, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you ‘Soaring’. I hope you love the cover as much as I do.

Do you or have you ever thought about writing short stories? I’d love to hear about your experiences. Pop a comment below.

 

Soaring - High Resolution

What Are You Reading?

I blinked and seem to have missed most of the month of May. It proved to be a busy time in the Fitton household. In between having my head stuck in a book and writing, I hardly came up for air. Apart from going to work and walking the dog –  two things I have to do otherwise I’d get fired! Oh, and keeping the fridge full for exam stressed teens, that is ongoing! Who knew food shopping could be such a source of inspiration?  My birthday at the beginning of last month seems like a lifetime away. It can’t be June, can it?  During the month of May, I wrote and read my socks off. I managed to read 7 books, write over 7,000 words and entered 3 short story competitions. Not bad for someone whose day job involves a lot of travel eh?  Oh, and I made some mean meringues – more on those later. I’m really not looking for a pat on the back (well apart from the meringues, they were rather good). What surprised me was the number of books I read. Usually, I find myself at the other end of the spectrum, we’ve all been there, right? – End of the month and you are still trying to get beyond page 50 of book one? Thought so. Last month, however, marked a change for me. I added early mornings to my late night reading ritual and… ta da… more books read. Rocket science it was not. I even had time to make those stellar meringues everyone is talking about…. I confess… it’s me, just me talking about them. I’m sure others would have talked about them had they lasted long enough. Remember the crazed… sorry, stressed teens? Nuff said. Now, where was I?… Ah yes…books. The number of exciting new books around is staggering. I have been pleasantly surprised and found myself marveling at the beauty of the language, and the complexity of the plots. My taste is quite eclectic, I read pretty much any genre. Sadly, Not every book last month was a winner. They fell into three distinct categories – the good, the bad and the ugly. No, I’m not going to divulge which ones got the rotten tomato award. Suffice to say, more were good than bad! So, onwards I go, armed with a Kindle full of adventure. So what am I reading this month? Here’s what’s on my list so far:

Hear Me ~Julia North

Stillhouse Lake ~ Rachel Caine

Finding Miranda ~ Iris Chacon

If I am to match or even better last month I need some suggestions. Ahem… (clears throat loudly).. This is where you come in. What would you recommend adding to Junes list? What are you reading? As I said, eclectic taste, so please pop your suggestions in the comments below and I shall give them a go.

Oh, the meringues? Yes, I promised you more, brace yourselves….  Meringues

 

Have a Spare 10 Minutes? Do Something Amazing For an Author….

How do you choose which books to read ? For me, it is a combination of word of mouth and checking out the books reviews.

As a indie author, it is hard to get your voice heard in a world of ‘buy me’ noise. Trying to raise your lone voice above the big publishing houses and their vast budgets is an uphill struggle. Some days it can feel as if all I’ve done is beg people for reviews – How many times can you ask readers to leave a review before you feel as it you’re stalking them? It can be very disheartening!

Some sites won’t even let you advertise your book unless you have a certain number of 4/5 star reviews. Did you know that over 85% of Kindle readers use reviews to ascertain if a book is suitable for them? The importance of reviews can not be overstated. It’s great publicity and helps like minded readers to connect. Ever seen those ads along the bottom of your Amazon screen ‘recommended for you’ or ‘based on your history you may like this’? These are not random choices put there by chance. They are cleverly calculated algorithms, based on reviews. It is all too easy to leave a review for something you didn’t like, I know I’ve done it! But… what about the things you enjoy, the things that exceed your expectations? How many of us leave reviews for the books we’ve enjoyed?

The more reviews a book gets, the higher its visibility and ranking. The higher its visibility and ranking, the more people will read it. The more people who read it, the higher the sales. More sales = more reviews. So you see, it really is not rocket science!

In an effort to redress the balance ever so slightly, I challenge you to do two good things this week. If you have recently read a good book – tell someone else about it. Secondly, leave a review on Amazon. It doesn’t have to be war and peace, just a few lines about why you enjoyed it. You don’t even have to use your name it can be anonymous. Your good deed will be gratefully received by all authors so go on be brave… you can do it! Do something amazing for an author this week.

 

hearts

Friday Feature ~Stolen Secrets ~ Elizabeth Alsobrooks

Another ‘first’ feature for me. Today I am very pleased to welcome author Elizabeth Alsobrooks and her new fantasy romance book ‘Stolen Secrets’. Welcome Elizabeth. I do not really know anything about fantasy romance please can you tell us a bit about Stolen Secrets…

EA:Stolen Secrets is a romance spin off from my Illuminati (Urban Fantasy) series, so is much more character driven and oriented than what is usual for me. It’s steamier, of course, and the hero is hot, hot, hot, if I do say so myself.  Here is who I pictured when writing this:

blue-eyes-fashion-fit-hot-guy-Favim.com-1851748

I’m sure you can see how princely he looks? What English gal stranded in Cairo could resist such a persuasive hunk? Well, the heroine, Lady Isabella Valentine tries, but being a romance I guess you know how it ends . . . .

Emm…. maybe I can guess!!

Here’s how it begins:
        Everything about the shop was irregular, including the displays which projected at odd angles, supported by ornate wooden brackets and the occasional book case or other Egyptian artifact. Its merchandise had been collected and added to over a lifetime of adventures, and the result was vastly eclectic and often mismatched and even mysterious. The windows of the cluttered antiquities dealership, not yet shuttered, allowed slanted sunlight to illuminate dust motes, thick and insidious, seeking every crevice and ornate feature in which to drift. Brushing her hand across the table to clear it of its most recent layer, Isabella unrolled the map and traced the route with her fingertip.
She heard the bell above the front door jingle, waited for the expected greeting, and sighed. Five minutes later and Misha would have arrived to clean and bar the entrance, and then she could begin preparing for the dig of a lifetime.
Elizabeth_Alsobrooks ebook stolen secrets
Offered an enormous sum by an anonymous benefactor for the acquisition of an ancient ceremonial relic, a sum that would keep the antiquities shop in Cairo her father left her afloat while she continued her own archaeological pursuits, Lady Isabella Valentine was distracted rather than tempted, then suspicious, when the dashing young Bedouin slipped in just before closing and promised her a deal she couldn’t refuse–for the very same relic. Despite his sensual appeal, she did refuse him, sending him away.
 
Prince Mukhtar, son of Sheikh Abdul Kummel al-Rahman, leader of the Hassana, is on a sacred Illuminati mission for Queen Isis to retrieve something stolen from one of her temples over a thousand years ago. This mortal disbeliever though an enchanting English rose, however beautiful she might be, is clearly in the power of the Usurper and must be persuaded to help him, one way or another. But neither of them know of the evil power they are up against, or what hidden dangers await them in the tomb of the high priest.
Thank you so much for sharing about your new release Elizabeth. Here’s wishing you much success with Stolen Secrets.
Available on February 14th!
You can pre order here…..

Connect with Elizabeth Alsobrooks:

Elizabeth Alsobrooks Website

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