Was I more surprised that Brenda was a hooker or that she had business cards at my parents’ drinks party?
Tilly swaps legal briefs for lacy ones…but are the lifestyles compatible?
About to embark on a respectable law career, Tilly stumbles upon a different life, one with many advantages but also risks and challenges.
Can Tilly satisfy herself and those around her?
This is a little different from my usual reading but I enjoyed it!
It’s the story of a young woman, Tilly, who is lacking in confidence after a break up with a ‘a real minger,’ Jed. From that point on, she decides to follow an alternative path from fledgling lawyer to professional escort. Hooked is about following your own path, being independent and not being swayed by the opinions of others, overcoming doubts that you aren’t as good as your siblings, or having to prove your self worth to your parents. I appreciated that sentiment.
It tackles various escort scenarios with lightheartedness, and a touch of humour. Most of the character development in that respect is about her escort relationship with Edward, an older man whose wife had died.
On the whole, it portrays the escort business in a positive light. And didn’t move over into more unpleasant territory. Also, it tackles the difficulties of confessing this lifestyle to friends and family. It is an easy and entertaining read.
Recommended for those who enjoy sexy liberating stories.
Thank you to Donna for the blog tour organisation and to the author for a paperback copy which I was pleased to receive. It’s a quick read, which I am happy to review without bias.
Why you wrote your book, and how much research you did for it.
Hi, Marje. Thank you for the opportunity to share the news of my new book, just in time for the winter solstice and Yule.
In writing Fairies, Myths, & Magic II, I spent a couple of years researching the different winter and Yule celebrations from around the world. I might have slipped down the rabbit hole of research for a year or so. It was interesting to find that almost every culture celebrated the winter solstice in some form.
The poetry and short stories took months for me to write. I’m not a fast writer, and often mull things over before deciding the story or poem is what I meant it to be.
This book is the second in the series. The first book included poetry and short stories dedicated to summer and the summer solstice. In the coming months, I’ll make this a two-book series boxed edition.
I’d also like to know which winter customs you follow.
We’re Buddhist and Pagan, so we don’t celebrate Christmas. Don’t get me wrong, when our children were still at home, we celebrated Christmas with them. After they all grew up and moved away, my husband and I decided to celebrate the winter solstice which has become our main winter celebration.
I usually start the day with some prayers and meditation. I like to do some light cleaning to sweep out last season’s energies to let in the new.
Later, we fix a lovely dinner. Some years the food is special, other years we eat whatever we have. We always share a toast to the return of the light. I always leave some honey and bread out for the house elf and the good neighbors. I want to keep them all happy.
When the darkness falls, we light white candles to chase away the darkness. White is a symbol of hope and purification. This color of candle helps to clear your thoughts for a new season. Candles also help to purify your thoughts so you can release negative energy and celebrate the longest night of the year. The winter solstice is all about celebrating the return of the light… what better way to celebrate than with candles.
We have these wonderful built-in shelves next to the fireplace. They were perfect for my winter altar for Buddha. As you can see, I have my white winter solstice candles ready to light on December 21st.
Some years we exchange a small gift with each other. This year, our gifts were various house renovations. We’re happy to have finally finished our reno project, so no other gifts are necessary—it’s good to have each other and be together.
In past years, we always hosted friends and family for the winter solstice. What better way to bring in the magic of the new year than to celebrate with those who matter most to you.
And which is your favourite personal poem/story in the book and why, include excerpt of that. And anything else you would like to ask yourself.
When I started researching the myths of Yule, I found all this wonderful information about the forgotten women of Yule. I was captivated by the idea that women were the first figures to influence our modern holiday celebrations.
In fact, my research shared that many of the Pagan traditions were adopted by the Christians because many of the myths were firmly rooted in the culture of the people. It was easier to change the women of Yule into saints or witches. Over time, the changes took hold. Instead of goddesses, we began to describe these female figures as fairy godmothers.
Slowly, men replaced the likes of Frau Holle with Father Christmas, Santa Claus, and the Russian, Ded Moroz. These male characters are all believed to be inspired by Odin himself!
Mōdraniht, which translates to Mother’s Night was really a surprise. On December 20th, families used to celebrate motherhood and female ancestors, as the feminine ancestors were also considered to be the guardians of the family line.
The Winter Solstice is celebrated as the rebirth of the sun, so it made sense the ancient people would celebrate the feminine connection to fertility and crops. It all goes back to our humble beginnings as an agrarian society.
I love the idea of celebrating the women we came from. Here’s a syllabic poem to celebrate our female ancestors on December 20th:
Rejoice on the Night of the Mothers
pay homage to our female roots
toast your mother, grandmother,
the women in your life
who touched you with love
be brave, protect
rebirths our sun,
we honor with food,
grateful messages sent
to the women who gave of
themselves, they made us who we are
we offer you our lasting respect
To Our Mothers!
Thanks so much for helping me celebrate the release of Fairies, Myths, & magic II, Marje. Happy Yule.
It’s my pleasure Colleen and I love that poem.
About the Book:
In this second book in the Fairies, Myths, & Magic series, step into a world where dark fairies, and other magical beings converge in a collection of poetry and short stories inspired by winter and the celebration of the winter solstice.
From Autumn’s scary fairies to the forgotten female characters of Yule, prepare to embrace the magical winter solstice myths from around the world. Meet Frau Holle in the Wild Hunt, Befana—the Christmas Witch of Italy, and the Japanese goddess Ameratasu who controls the springtime. Prepare to embrace the Scottish trows, The Irish Goddess of Winter—the Cailleach Béara, and Snegurochka—the Snow Girl.
Learn how to make Yuletide rituals part of your celebration by embracing the symbols of Yule by decorating with evergreens and crystals.
An avid reader, Colleen M. Chesebro rekindled her love of writing poetry after years spent working in the accounting industry. These days, she loves crafting syllabic poetry, flash fiction, and creative fiction and nonfiction.
In addition to poetry books, Chesebro’s publishing career includes participation in various anthologies featuring short stories, flash fiction, and poetry. She’s an avid supporter of her writing community on Word Craft Poetry.com by organizing and sponsoring a weekly syllabic poetry challenge, called #TankaTuesday, where participants experiment with traditional and current forms of Japanese and American syllabic poetry.
Chesebro isan assistant editor of The Congress of the Rough Writers Flash Fiction Anthology & Gitty Up Press, a micro-press founded by Charli Mills and Carrot Ranch.
In January 2022, Colleen founded Unicorn Cats Publishing Services to assist poets and authors in creating eBooks and print books for publication. In addition, she creates affordable book covers for Kindle and print books.
Chesebro lives in the house of her dreams in mid-Michigan surrounded by the Great Lakes with her husband and two (unicorn) cats, Chloe & Sophie.
This is a beautiful and personal account through poetry, prose and photographs, of the emotional highs and lows of the poet’s life. The poet is accompanied on her walk down memory lane by the three sisters of fate, the Morai: Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos with whom she engages in conversation about the particular moments in time highlighted by the poems.
While the poems are personal, their themes are universal which makes them relatable to the reader and facilitates emotional engagement with the particular set of circumstances detailed in the various syllabic poems. The poems are accompanied by beautiful photographs, many of which are nature orientated. I particularly liked the Botanical Gardens Cambridge UK.
One of my favourite poems in the collection is My Daughters. Perhaps this one appeals so much to me because my own sons are standing on the cusp of adulthood and will soon be flying the nest. This is a short extract:
“Now the drama’s nearly over. I tremble. Expecting the next crisis to come rippling around the lake. The waters swaying. It’s stiller now. They’re wiser.”
This is a book that is best savoured slowly over a glass of wine.
I’m thrilled to be reviewing Sarah Bourne’s psychological thriller When Lives Collide for the blog tour organised by Donna Morfett.
A hit-and-run puts two women on a collision course with fate, in this mind-blowing psychological thriller from the author of Exile.
It only takes one second to change a life. Loretta Davidson learns this the hard way when, on a rainy afternoon, her car crashes into another vehicle at an intersection. Loretta survives with only a few stitches. Her four-year-old son is not so lucky. Falling into a coma, he soon succumbs to his injuries, leaving Loretta and her husband devastated.
Emma Elliot’s four-wheel drive glanced off the car she hit, and she left the scene of the accident convinced no one was hurt. She could not be late running errands for her partner—or there would be hell to pay. He had hit her before, and he would do it again.
In the months following the accident, Loretta struggles to survive her grief as her marriage crumbles. Emma gets engaged—and then pregnant. But the twists and turns life throws at the two women have a way of balancing things out, sending them straight into one another’s paths one more time.
“The novel does what fiction does best: exploring the small moments that can change lives for good.” —The Bookbag
This is an engaging tale with a fantastic premise. Two women’s lives collide after a terrible accident involving a fatality of a child. Emma is the younger of the two women. She is blindly in love and foolish in her choice of abusive partner, Derek. Loretta, the older and more assertive of the two takes Emma under her wing after an estrangement from her partner but is initially unaware of how their lives are so cruelly entwined.
There are several crucial similarities between the two women and a web of unspoken words envelopes them both hiding the shocking truth.
Whilst I was sympathetic to Emma’s plight, and her loss and Loretta’s tragedy I found it difficult tolike Emma, though I sympathised with her. Her actions and her struggle to walk away do show just how powerful an abuser’s control can be on a woman and how hard it is to escape and behave and think logically. Both women hadundoubtedly suffered so much.
I enjoyed this and would read this author again.
Recommended for readers who enjoy psychological thrillers about women’s lives, abuse, and female relationships.
The clever ending wrapped everything up in a convincing way.
I won’t say anymore for fear of spoiling it for you!
I found this a difficult one to rate. The more I thought about the subtle intricacies in the story the more I liked it. Cleverly done.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
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Hello everyone! It’s me… Colleen, from Word Craft Poetry. I’ve popped over to Marje’s blog to help her get her new book launched while she’s away on personal business. Do you know what a hedge witch is? Here are a few fast facts to introduce you to the path of the Hedge Witch:
“There are a lot of different belief systems in modern paganism, and one that’s seeing a resurgence in popularity is the path of the hedge witch. Although there are a lot of different definitions of what a hedge witch is and does, you’ll find that for the most part, there’s a lot of work with herbal magic, as well as an emphasis on nature. A hedge witch might work with gods or goddesses, perform healing and shamanic actions, or perhaps work with the changing seasons. In other words, the path of the hedge witch is as eclectic as those who practice it.”
Many thanks for these 5 star reviews for the collection from Sally Cronin and Ritu Bhathal:
I received a copy of the collection from the author without any expectation of a review.
This is a poetry and flash fiction collection seeped in nature and illustrates the love the author has for the environment, particular the forests.
The first pages share the delightful love story of the Hedge Witch and the Musical Poet, bringing two solitary characters together in the sanctuary of a magical forest far from the human world.
This story is followed by poems and flash ficton, some of which are poignant such as the tribute to a ginger cat in Chester, Don & I,and bewilderment voiced in The Network of Trees as they stand in danger from the human need for progress.
There is also the sad reflection that much of the beauty and adventures to be found in the forests are being missed as children find themselves engrossed in the online world instead. The author makes sure to include the fun they could be enjoying instead.
The Teddy in the Woods probably should come with a tissue alert.
There are some reminders of poems from another collection which I also enjoyed Mr. Sagittarius Poetry; one of my favourites being Rainbow – Parasol of Light.
In the second section of the collection there is a series of poems inspired by other writers. Set in the woodlands and the beauty they offer. This includes the ethereal The Forest King.
The forest king lives in the shadows his hair and beard, a flame alight in his crown, the fairy queen sits far from the tangled roots of his throne.
This is a collection to savour and to dip into when the technical world we inhabit becomes too demanding, or we are in need of a touch of magic. I recommend to lovers of nature and fantasy.
A beautiful book inspired by, and a nod to, the mystical and the natural world around us. Marjorie Mallon has used both fiction and poetry to craft a selection of flash fiction for the first part of the book, about the Hedge Witch and the Musical Poet, as well as other scenarios, interspersed with verse. The second section is devoted to poetry inspired by various famous poets. A lovely book to delve into when you want a little slice of magic.
Dark Creation (A Dark Reflections Short Story #2) By Kelsey Ketch Genre: Dark Fantasy Age category: New Adult Release Date: 30 April 2021
Long before Charissa began her murderous rampage through history, she was a young woman living in ancient Alexandria.
Oppressed by society and cursed by the color of her hair, Charissa had hardly seen the world beyond the four walls of her home. So, when her husband leaves for extended military duty, she takes the opportunity to tour the city her brother once loved. Little does she know the Fates have other plans in store for her when she runs into an exotic woman in the Rhakotis District. The encounter will change her life forever.
About the Author:
Kelsey Ketch is a young-adult/new-adult author, who works as a Wildlife Biologist and Data Analyst. During her free time, she can often be found working on her latest work in progress. She also enjoys history, mythology, traveling, and reading.
Thank you to the author and to Lola Blog Tours for an advanced copy. I review freely and without bias.
Dark Goddess format: short story with author notes at end.
Dark Goddess is a short story inspired by the ancient Egyptian goddess, Sekhmet. I love Greek tales!
It is pretty gory! And a page turner… that keeps your attention throughout as you can see from this quote: “My cravings taking over, I sat up and sunk my teeth deeper into my father’s flesh until I heard the crunching of bone.”
From author notes: ‘Sekhmet was the goddess of the desert sun, plague, chaos, war, destruction, and healing. She was said to be the daughter of the sun god, Ra, and had been created from the fire of his eye.’
“But you are right, my beloved daughter. The blame does not fully lay on you. I am the one who transformed you into that terrifying force of vengeance and destruction. You were brought forth by my fire—my rage. You are merely an extension of myself.”
I enjoyed this short story and would definitely recommend this author.
Review: Dark Creation: Dark Reflections #0.5
Thank you to the author and to Lola Blog Tours for an advanced copy I review freely and without bias.
Story format: Short Story with author notes at end – obviously the author is knowledgeable about ancient Egypt and has researched many aspects.
This is Charissa’s back story. which was intended to be a bonus chapter for Dark Reflections. The author writes beautifully: “Her slaves moved forward without a single word spoken to them, like soulless bodies, and shielded the sun from touching the young woman’s flesh.
The sight twisted knots into my already aggravated gut. Not only that, the young woman’s skin was as cold as ice to the touch compared to the hot, moist air of the Nile Delta. Like I was being touched by a corpse. I, too, was ruled by a man.”
Something in the back of my mind told me I shouldn’t. Something told me to run. I just couldn’t remember why, and the little voice within quickly slipped into a haze. “Yes. Let’s go home.”
“I am Sekhmet, your sire. And by the blood we just shared, we are now bound together.”
It was the scent of human blood, freshly killed. I licked my lips, ready to battle one of the lionesses for a taste.
Sekhmet : “That’s right. Drusus was an assassin sent to kill me. Apparently, the new emperor feels my quiet existence here in Egypt is a threat to the Roman Empire. Drusus confessed as much. Though I accidently slit his throat and dispatched his body in rage before asking why.”
I enjoyed this short story and it serves as a great introduction to the author, and the wrath of dark goddesses! Would definitely recommend.
I’m delighted to be joining Donna’s blog tour for Mark Richards new release today with an interview and review too!
Once upon a time I had a business in financial services: nice suits, smart shirts, stripy ties. But always with a small voice inside me. “Let me out,” it said, “I’m a writer.”
I kept the small voice securely under lock and key but then – in 2009 – my brother died of cancer. It was one of those pivotal moments in life. I either let the small voice out and pursued my dream, or I forgot about it for good. So I sold my business, sent my stripy ties to the charity shop and started writing.
Now my time divides between writing for clients – copywriting, ghostwriting – and writing for myself.
In the spring of 2016 I suffered the latest in a long line of mid-life crises and invited my youngest son to come for a walk with me. That led to ‘Father, Son and the Pennine Way’ – the first of three books ostensibly about walking, but really about my ever-changing relationship with my son.
…And now – in September 2020 – I’ve turned my attention to novels. ‘Salt in the Wounds’ in the first book in the Michael Brady series and, when that’s finished, I’ll look to develop two other crime series.
Michael Brady looked at Sandra Garrity’s face. Grey skin. Bloodshot eyes open. Blue lips, her tongue protruding. “Did you watch your husband die, Sandra? Or did he watch you die?”
“Brilliant. Brady is fast becoming the Yorkshire Rebus.”
Billy and Sandra were childhood sweethearts. Writing their names on a lovelock. Fastening it to the end of Whitby pier. Throwing the key into the sea. A lifetime together. A happy retirement in a peaceful hamlet on the North Yorkshire Moors. Until the day they were brutally murdered. “Whoever did this – he didn’t do it quickly. And he enjoyed it…”
Billy was a fisherman, making a living in the cold, cruel North Sea. One night his boat went down. Two crewmen drowned. Billy survived. Are the families looking for revenge? It’s the obvious conclusion. But why have they waited so long? Why have they killed Billy and Sandra? And why kill them in such a barbaric way? “This isn’t a murder, Mike. It’s an execution. A medieval execution.”
Choke Back the Tears is the fourth book in the Michael Brady series. Kershaw’s away, Brady’s in charge. The bucks stops on his desk. But at least Frankie Thomson is back to help him. For now… There are no clues. No motives. It’s a perfect crime scene. All Brady has is his experience and his intuition. And his small team is gettng smaller by the day… Meanwhile he’s battling problems in his personal life. His daughter Ash wants to know the truth about her mother’s death. Brady can’t put off telling her any longer. He’s having doubts about everything. Even the memory of his dead wife.
Choke Back the Tears is the most personal Brady book yet. He has to find the killer. He has to keep his team together. And he owes his daughter an explanation. Michael Brady needs a friend. But he doesn’t have one…
The Michael Brady books are perfect for fans of J D Kirk, Jason Dalgleish, David Gatward, T G Reid – and anyone who likes characters you’ll come to think of as friends.
“Mark Richards has created such a likeable character in Mike Brady that you want to become his friend, go for a drink with him or give him a hug when he obviously needs one. I’ve read all three Brady books within a week and am waiting for the fourth with bated breath.”
Interview with Mark…
Why write a novel? The brutal truth is that I wrote a novel because I ran out of excuses. Travelling back in time I was a dull bugger in a suit, with a business in financial services. I also had this small voice which tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Let me out, you want to be a writer.” In 2009 my brother died of cancer. It was one of those pivotal moments in life. I realised that I either let the small voice out and did what I really wanted to do, or I forgot about it for good. So I sold my business, sent my stripy ties to the charity shop and started writing – starting a new business as a freelance copywriter. Then the small voice started up again. “Let me out, you want to write a novel.” Fortunately I was too busy – no time. Then lockdown struck in March 2020: I immediately lost two clients in the day job and ran out of excuses. Suddenly I did have the time. I skulked away to the spare room and started Salt in the Wounds… Why mystery/thriller/crime? If I was going to move into commercial fiction I wanted a big market and clearly mystery/thriller/crime comes second after romance. My intention with Mike Brady was to land the books fairly and squarely in the middle of the target – to write books that were at least equal to those that were selling well. I read a couple of books by popular authors and thought I could do that. But the books are really about Michael Brady’s internal journey as much as they’re about the crimes. There’s a great quote – supposedly attributed to Joseph Wambaugh – along the lines of, ‘the best crime fiction isn’t about cops working on cases, it’s about cases working on cops.’ That’s how it is with Brady, and you’ll see the impact of the cases over the course of the series. Would you consider any other genre? I’ve got about 10,000 words of a post-apocalyptic book written. When I lost my clients and ran out of excuses it was really a toss-up between Mike Brady and Rafe Mueller (another damaged soul…) I have got other books out there: I’ve written three books about long distance walks I’ve done with Alex, my youngest son. Again though, they’re not about the walks as much as the relationship between Alex and me. Pop ‘Mark Richards, Father, Son and…’ into Amazon and you’ll find them. But brand is important for an author, so I don’t feature those books on my website: for the foreseeable future, I’ll focus on mystery/thriller/crime.
Why did you choose Whitby for the books? As a few people know I live in Scarborough, 20 miles down the coast from Whitby. I chose Whitby because it has such a good ‘sense of place.’ Captain Cook, Dracula, traditional English fishing port, history, Heartbeat, the Moors, fish and chips.
Living so close to it I thought I knew the town quite well. You don’t know a town at all until you start planning to murder someone there… Where did the idea for Michael Brady come from? We have three children – boy, girl, boy. When Eleanor was 14/15 it’s fair to say she went through a fairly rebellious phase. We’re great pals now and she’s my football-buddy, but at the time father/daughter relationships were slightly strained, and there were certainly boyfriends I wasn’t told about. I used to lie awake at night and ask myself a very simple question: ‘how the hell will I cope if anything happens to my wife?’ Simply put, that’s where the idea for Michael Brady came from and at the start of Salt in the Wounds that’s exactly where he is. His wife has been killed in a hit-and-run and he’s driving across the North York Moors with Ash (Ashley), his teenage daughter. He’s determined to start a new life, be a good dad to Ash and has absolutely no intention of going back into the police. And then his best friend is murdered… So Brady’s relationship with Ash is very much my imagined relationship with Elle (Eleanor). The sarcastic replies she gives him are exactly the sort of replies Elle gave me and – like I was when she was in her early teenage years – Brady has a permanent struggle between being protective and allowing her enough freedom. Interestingly one reader in the US took me to task, saying he wouldn’t allow his daughter to speak to him in the way Ash talks to Brady, “but I guess that’s the difference between the US and the UK.” I thought he missed the point – like many teenage girls Ash feels physically awkward around her dad, so when they have these ‘banter conversations’ she’s really giving her dad a sort of verbal hug. By the time you get to Book 4 Brady is tentatively starting his first relationship after his wife – and obviously Ash is going to have some views on the potential new girlfriend. And be on hand with dating advice… ‘All characters are fictitious…’ But what about Archie? Nail. Head. Archie isn’t fictitious. Archie is Pepper, our Springer Spaniel, brought back to life. We got Pep in January 2006. She was just the most brilliant family pet, and my walking buddy on the cliff top. We finally said goodbye to her in November 2019 – and I still drop my toast on the floor and expect her to be there. So Mike Brady’s dog, Archie, is Pepper brought back to life. Archie’s love of sausages and his desperate need to roll in a dead fish? That’s Pepper. If you want to know more about Pep I brought all the short stories I wrote about her and family life together in a book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08BCGLZTW How much research do you do? Compared to other writers? Honestly, I don’t know. I suspect ‘above average’ is the answer. I do all my own research and that includes the physical side of it. I’ve hung off the end of Whitby Pier (Alex held on to me), gone trespassing on a railway line, trekked across the Moors…
For ‘Choke Back the Tears’ I was contemplating jumping into the North Sea fully clothed (you’ll see why) but as I was recovering from Covid at the time I had a long conversation with a girl who goes wild swimming instead. One of the best things about research is how incredibly helpful people are. For Salt in the Wounds I had two or three long conversations with an officer in a woman’s prison, plus a paramedic. The River Runs Deep was witness protection and drowning. For The Echo of Bones I had long, long e-mail conversations with a forensic pathologist in Tennessee. And for the latest book about five trips to Whitby and a detailed conversation with a midwife. Coming up? Brady still owes Dave a fishing trip. I’ll have to go out on a boat and try and catch a ten-pound cod. I’m not looking forward to it – I don’t like boats – but it has to be done. And an idea I had this morning means I might have to sleep rough for a night. And while I didn’t use it in a book, my research has also taught me what to plant if you’ve buried a body in your allotment. Roses at first, then brassicas – cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli… How much of you is there in Brady? Brady’s 42 and his sister tells him he ‘looks a bit like Chris Hemsworth,’ so there aretwo boxes I don’t tick straightaway… I’m in a lot of the small details of Mike Brady. How he likes his bacon sandwiches, how he has his tea, eating fish and chips by the harbour. But Brady’s physically brave – I’m not. Then again I’ve done stand-up comedy in Barnsley… Brady’s relationship with Ash is unquestionably based on my relationship with my daughter. The replies she gives him – ‘This is a cool town, Dad. Two garden centres and a garage. Oh, and a Chinese takeaway. And a car park. I’ll certainly be coming here with my friends’ – are exactly the replies Ellie would have given me. Ditto, Archie. We had a Springer for 13 years, before we lost her in November 2019. Archie is simply Pepper re-born, and when Archie rolls in a dead fish, that’s Pep. Rumour has it you’ve done stand-up comedy. How useful is that when you’re writing a novel? I have. I woke up with a midlife crisis one Saturday morning and told my wife I wanted to try stand-up. I did it for a year and was reasonably good – good enough to get paid and good enough to realise how good the top performers were. I did a gig in York where I was the warm-up for Russell Howard as he was just breaking through, and he was on another level. But stand-up is brilliant training for writing. When you’re writing stand-up material is has to be tight and sharp – I could give you a great example, but it involves a lot of swearing. The same is true of novels. ‘Get it right, keep it tight, cut out the £$%&e’ as the old newspaper editors used to say. You’re self-published at the moment. Would you like to be traditionally published?
As a few people know I had a little bit of a flirt with a publisher around Christmas/New Year. They offered me a contract but I turned it down because of changes they wanted to make to the books. In the short-term that was probably a poor decision, at least from a commercial point of view, but what they wanted to do was simply wrong and would have made the books worse. Long-term let’s see what happens. For now I’m concentrating on the next book in the Brady series which I’ll have written, edited and published for Christmas. No way could you do that with a traditional publisher. Netflix knock on the door: who plays Brady on TV? You know what? I don’t mind. I consciously don’t do detailed descriptions of my characters because I want to give the readers the freedom to imagine the characters as they see fit. If I can give them an impression, that’ll do fine. When Brady first meets the man who’ll be his boss, Kershaw, he’s described as ‘silver-haired, silver-tongued.’ Seriously, do you need any more? Who hasn’t had a boss like that? So no, I’m happy to leave it to the readers. Several of them see Frankie as Suranne Jones. I think she’s too old for Frankie, but I’m happy to leave it to Netflix. I’ll only get cross if they mis-cast Archie… What’s your favourite thing about writing? Let me say one thing straightaway: writing is an incredibly selfish pastime. You have to say to your wife/husband/partner, ‘Yes, I’m very willing to build you a cold frame/paint the kitchen/go out for a drink… But not now, because I have to finish this chapter.’ There are also plenty of times when I’m ‘there but not there.’ My wife will say something to me and I simply won’t reply. I’m in an alley in Whitby murdering someone… That said, I love writing. Why do I write? The same reason as I breathe. I’m not someone who believes in inspiration but occasionally you’ll write a sentence/para and it’s exactly right. Possibly even funny. There are not many better feelings. And two things I didn’t even consider when I started writing novels. The research (see above) and the interaction with readers, which I love. And your least favourite? Other than the comment above about selfishness, writing is time intensive. There are no economies of scale. Two thousand words takes twice as long as a thousand, and it has to be done – especially if you have a deadline and Jeff Bezos is threatening to flog you in the market square if you don’t meet it. On a lovely day that’s tough. The other kids are outside playing on the grass: you’re in the classroom writing your English essay. Your favourite fictional character? Probably Lisbeth Salander in Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. She’s in such a good place at the end of that book that I won’t read the next two.
Thomas Cromwell in the Hilary Mantel books if he’s allowed to qualify as a fictional character. And obviously Hannibal Lecter. “More than my job’s worth, mate.” “Fair enough, I’ll eat your liver.” Plotter or pantser? Gardener or architect? One of the things that stopped me writing a book for a long time was my conviction that I couldn’t plot a novel. I knew I could write reasonably well, but I thought I was limited to articles/blogs in the 600 to 3,000 word range. Essentially what I wrote for clients in the day job as a freelance copywriter. Then lockdown struck, I immediately lost two clients and my standard excuse – I don’t have time to write a novel – went out of the window. So I invented Michael Brady, killed his wife, stuck him in a car with Ash and let him get on with it. Right now I’d describe myself – whichever term you go for – as half way between the two. I know where the story is going and I know some of the key signposts along the way – but I do think you have to let the characters talk to you. Possibly the best example of that is Ruby in ‘The Echo of Bones.’ I had no real idea of Ruby until I started writing about her. But then she opened her mouth, started talking and was fully formed in front of me. The moment she spat in the tea Brady had given her I knew I had a really great character. You’ve got three children. Have any of them inherited the writing gene? ‘Yes’ is the simple answer. Dan has just finished his PhD at Leeds University which involved a fair amount of writing. Alex wrote a western during lockdown – which I need to edit for him. But girls always come out on top don’t they? Elle used to go upstairs to write her English essays and come down again 15 minutes later. She’s always been able to write at speed and I introduced her to an American hybrid publisher who specialised in post-apocalyptic books. She wrote four series for him and made enough for the deposit on a house. #ProudDadAlert What do you do when you’re not writing? A few people know the awful truth. I am North Yorkshire’s only known supporter of Wolverhampton Wanderers. I watch illegal streams of their games and shout a lot. What do you write on? Wax tablet? State of the art Mac? I’ve got an HP laptop. I think it was about three hundred quid. It’s on a stand on my desk and I use a full size keyboard which connects to the laptop via magic. All I really do on my laptop is use Word and Excel, so I don’t need anything powerful. Oh, and the illegal streams, of course. But keep that to yourself…
Thank you to Mark Richards for being my guest today. I really enjoyed finding out more about him and his writing. And… I couldn’t resist reading and reviewing!
It’s rare that I read crime and I am now wondering why!
Many thanks to the author for an advanced review copy and to Donna Morfett for including me in the tour.
I absolutely loved this. I’m late to discover Mark but so glad that I managed to dive in and read book 4. First thing that struck me whilst reading Choke Back The Tears #4 is the short, snappy chapters, which carry your attention brilliantly. And the great characterisation, Brady is so well written, as are all the supporting characters and potential murderers/suspects. The murder scene is gory and much detail is given for the reader to deliberate the who and the what and the why. The setting of the scene in Whitby works well, you can just about smell and taste the fish, chips and bacon sarnies. And I just knew that Archie was fashioned on the author’s dog, guessed it before I read Mark Richard’s interview on my blog. I enjoyed the personal elements woven into the tale about Brady’s daughter which gave the story a pleasing human touch which I appreciated. But… perhaps the aspect I enjoyed the most was the story’s insight into how tough it must be for coppers and law enforcers to cope with the heinous impact of crimes such as these on their stomachs, (as in keep from puking,) and their daily lives.
It’s an easy one to rate… a page turning 5 stars.
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It is my great pleasure to share in the excitement of the release tour for Richard Dee’s We Are Saul. I can heartily recommend Richard’s latest novel to you. His writing is ace. So, if you haven’t read it yet… grab a copy!
Release date: 1st June.
When Saul is paralysed in an accident, he thinks it’s the end of his life. In fact, it’s just the beginning.
While trying to come to terms with his injuries, the mysterious Dr Tendral offers him a way to make a difference. All he has to do is join his project. There are no other details until he agrees, he’s either in or out. What choice does he have? Agreeing is just the beginning. Saul undergoes drastic surgery, only then is the full depth of the project revealed. Or is it? As time goes on and he learns more about Tendral’s scheme, Saul’s new life becomes increasingly difficult. In the end, he has to abandon everything as he learns the truth.
This is science fiction, but the author writes with such clarity that you find yourself believing that this too, like so many of the futeristic imaginings of the past, might well be feasible at some point in the coming centuries, if not decades.
Sally Cronin – Goodreads
We Are Saul makes for a sci-fi novel with a difference. There’s modern technology, robots, and something more, but the story offers hope for what could be. But it also offers a cautionary tale of what just might await us in our future. Not everything is as it seems, and very rarely does something life-changing come without a catch. And this is something Richard Dee sets up in this novel really well. I found myself hooked from the first page to the last.
I’m Saul and I’m paralysed. Thanks to a drunk driver my life stopped when I was twenty-five. When I woke up, the last thing I remembered was walking along the pavement on a glorious spring day, following the metronomic motion of a young lady in front of me. One moment, my mind was fixed on speeding up and getting acquainted with the rest of her, next thing, there was a loud noise behind me coupled with a scream. Before I could turn, I felt an impact, a burst of pain and it all went dark.
I opened my eyes to see a man’s face, complete with thick glasses and stubble, staring at me, very close. I blinked, tried to turn my head, failed. It felt like something was holding my neck still. I could move my eyes, that was about it. Flat on my back, my field of vision was limited. There was a lot of noise, machines bleeped and clicked, there was the hiss of compressed air.
“Where am I?” I said, my voice sounded faint and weak, like it was coming from miles away.
“You’re in a hospital. Intensive Care, actually,” answered the man, moving back a little. “I’m Mr McGee, a consultant neurosurgeon on the staff. Do you know who you are?”
“I’m Saul,” I said. “Why can’t I move?”
His eyes narrowed. “Saul, I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news for you.”
I had sort of gathered that my situation wasn’t brilliant. “Go on then, tell me the worst.” I tried to sound brave, inside I was more than a little frightened. Beside his head, I could just make out a screen. It showed multicoloured flickering lines, a row of numbers. That was me, my life was reduced to mathematics.
“You’ve had emergency surgery to stabilise your injuries,” he said. “Do you remember what happened to you?”
“It’s all a bit hazy, I was walking down the road, there was a noise behind me.” I stopped, that was it. “How long ago was that?”
He looked at me. “This might be a shock: three weeks.”
“Three weeks!” My voice was definitely getting stronger.
“I’m afraid so. What you heard was a lorry mounting the pavement and taking out everything in its path. Six dead but not you, the good news is, you’ll live.”
His face was blank, what wasn’t he telling me? Perhaps I had broken bones, internal damage. I was being kept still while I healed. I tried to move my arms, legs. It felt like they worked but I couldn’t see the sheet moving, had no idea if anything was happening.
The bed suddenly moved, the motion felt strange, as if my head was being tugged by some dead weight attached to it, that I couldn’t see or sense. I felt nauseous. Somewhere below me, I heard a machine start up with a rattle.
“What’s going on? I think I’m going to be sick.” I must have sounded panicked.
“It’s what we call the Low Air Loss and Alternating Pressure Air Mattresses,” he said. “Technical name for a special bed. It stops you getting bed sores from lying in one position, as well as that, it helps takes moisture away from your body if you sweat.”
Although it all sounded interesting, I couldn’t concentrate on his words. I was too busy thinking about the time I had lost. There were things I needed to do. There was clearly more, it was time to find out. “I’ll take your word for it. Tell me the bad news then.”
“Sorry,” he said, “I got distracted. You were thrown thirty feet in the accident. As well as a broken leg and arm, the impact also broke your neck. I’m afraid that it’s damaged your spine.”
“Oh, OK.” It didn’t register. “How long till I’m up and about?”
He shook his head. “I don’t think you understand what I’m telling you.”
Then it hit me, bones mended, spines did not. Panic set in. “What do you mean?” I shouted. “That I’m paralysed? That I’ll always be like this?”
“I’m afraid so,” he said. “We can’t fix you with the medical technology we have at the moment. In time, who knows? Your breathing and bowel function appears to be unimpaired, but your arms and legs don’t work. It’s called quadriplegia. Worst case, we can keep you alive and with care and expert attention, your life can carry on.”
I realised that it was all just ‘doctor speak’ for aren’t we amazing, look at what we can do. McGee probably felt really clever that he was able to prolong my suddenly useless life. There could be a paper in it, recognition of his skill from other doctors. My attitude to medical miracles was different. I looked at the quality of the lives that had been saved, the cost to those who had to do the caring. Just because medicine had advanced enough to make it possible. And from my position of good health, I had often wondered about the benefits of so-called miracle surgery.
I always thought that just because you could, it didn’t mean that you should. Now I was on the receiving end of the same ability to play God and cheat nature. Despair washed over me, my life had been full of adventure, extremes. I wasn’t used to spending time inside, with nothing to do. Immobility might not kill me but boredom would. Why hadn’t the lorry done a proper job, wiped me out in an unknowing flash; it felt like an additional cruelty to leave me like this.
About Richard Dee
I’m Richard Dee and I’m from Brixham in Devon.
I write Science Fiction and Steampunk adventures, as well as chronicling the exploits of Andorra Pett, a reluctant amateur detective.
I spent forty years in shipping, firstly at sea, then in Port Control and as a Thames River Pilot, with adventures to match anything you could imagine. When I retired, I just moved them out into space, changed some of the names and wrote them down.
When I’m not writing, I bake bread and biscuits, cook delicious meals and walk the Devon coast.
My first novel, Freefall, was published in 2013, my eighteenth, We Are Saul, will be published in June 2022
I also contributed a story to the 1066 Turned Upside Down collection of alternative history stories. I’m currently working on more prequels, sequels, and a few new projects.
I’m an active member of Exeter Authors Association, attending events and giving talks on World-building for speculative fiction.
You can keep up with me at https://richarddeescifi.co.uk/ where you’ll find free short stories, regular features on writing, book reviews and guest appearances from other great authors.
There’s also an offer for a FREE novella, when you join my subscriber’s newsletter.
I’ve had the pleasure of beta reading an advance copy of We Are Saul by Richard Dee. Every time I read a new story from Richard Dee I am always struck by his ability to create wonderful new story lines, worlds and characters. He is one of my favourite indie authors. Hats off to him!
And We Are Saul was a thoroughly entertaining read from start to finish. What a fabulous concept for a story. I absolutely loved how this explored fascinating medical technological advancement in the form of robotic ‘humans.’ The main protagonist Saul has a terrible accident leaving him paralysed but is given the chance to live fully again by becoming an ARP – a robotic enhanced version of himself – using cutting edge technology.
But Saul begins to wonder at what cost? And what do they expect in return and are there others like him? This tale has love, heart, thoughtful observations and sci fi too! The ending was ace. Loved it and think it would make a great film. Well done Mr Dee!
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I’m thrilled to welcome Author S.C. Skillman to my blog to celebrate her latest release!
Illustrated Tales of Warwickshire S. C. Skillman Warwickshire, often known as Shakespeare’s County, has a host of strange and mysterious tales ranging from ancient legends and stories of the supernatural to more modern documented cases. Curious beliefs and customs were once widespread in Warwickshire’s towns and villages, some of which still flourish today.These strange and spooky stories include the quirky death of the Roundhead commander who owned Warwick Castle, the association of the great author J. R. R. Tolkien with the town, and the story of the hand of glory obtained at Warwick hangings. The historic buildings of Stratford-upon-Avon have witnessed many strange events over the centuries and more recently the Crackley Wood sprite has been sighted at Kenilworth. Other stories include the Wroth Silver at Knightlow Cross, an 800-year-old violent ball game played annually at Atherstone on Shrove Tuesday, and the unresolved mystery of the 1945 murder at Lower Quinton associated with witchcraft, along with other strange tales from the surrounding towns and villages. These stories are accompanied by the author’s photographs in this hugely entertaining book.
Q & A
How did you find your publisher for Illustrated Tales of Warwickshire and Paranormal Warwickshire?
A: It all started when I shared my WIP (Paranormal Warwickshire) with my writing group. I read out the chapter on Guys Cliffe Warwick, and another member of the group, a historian, suggested a few history publishers to me. I tried them with a proposal and Amberley were the ones who responded positively, saying they would like it for their Paranormal section. So that’s how I focused the first book and subsequently Amberley asked me to write another 3 books about Warwickshire for them, which I have been very happy to do.
Out of all the tales in this latest collection which one/s is/are your most beloved. And/or which one surprised or intrigued you the most.
A: Probably the story of the footsteps in the derelict 17th century coach house near the beginning of the book. I like this one because it came to me unsolicited via a first person account from the individual who experienced it, and he volunteered the story. Also, it had a truly authentic feel about it, with several satisfying elements; it came over as a genuine spooky tale. The narrator had experienced this in his teenage years, and never forgotten it. At the time of the experience, he sought rational explanations, and then tried to confirm those explanations, and had to accept it as paranormal. Finally, verification decades later from an independent source made it even more convincing. It also reminded me a bit of an MR James ghost story; ‘years later, curiosity drew him back to the scene of his youth’… those words give me a delicious frisson!
It must be fascinating and fun collating all the information for these tales. Tell us a little about the people you have interviewed in person and the places you have been.
A: I have spoken to people of all ages and backgrounds. One gentleman, Philip, I met through a chance encounter in the Warwick Tourist Information Centre, and he volunteered his story of hauntings in the basement of the Old Coffee House Tavern.
Another person was Caroline, a lady inspired by the spiritual rituals of the First Nation peoples, who calls herself a ‘Hedgerow Healer’ and holds healing ceremonies in a local community woodland using ancient smudging rituals and sage sticks. I had to be careful in the information I shared about her because she was wary of being misrepresented and wanted to ensure I wasn’t comparing her to spiritualists (I had no such idea in my mind). I feel privileged to gain the confidence of remarkable people like her, and being able to include their story, in such a way that they are happy with.
I also met a lovely elderly gentleman called Cyril in Costa Kenilworth, who has for many years been a traditional wooden toymaker, and he was fascinating. He appeared as a real life Geppetto in the ‘extra footage’ on a remastered version of Disney’s classic film Pinocchio. Though retired now, he is still a highly gifted painter and street photographer, fizzing with energy and humour.
I believe you have lived in Warwickshire for many years and the area is rich in intriguing history. Have you ever come across, or seen any of the tales you speak of… such as the big cats?
A: I’ve lived in Warwickshire for 28 years now. I have tried to experience or gain personal knowledge of many of the stories I tell. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen any big cats though! One of my stories is about the ancient tax gathering ceremony the Wroth Silver which takes place on 11 November each year at daybreak in a field off the A4 near Ryton on Dunsmore. I was determined to attend the ceremony! It was moving to see how several of those who keep the ceremony alive have been attending for many decades and I have since been in correspondence with the elderly gentlemen involved. Also, I was very touched by the poem read out at the Wroth Silver breakfast by Barry Patterson, a local Bard. It was called ‘Dear Ancestors’ and for me it crystallised my thoughts about how people like to connect with their ancestors, which is why they cherish these ancient ceremonies. I think this is true of folklore and folk rituals such as the Wassailing Ceremony and groups like the Border Morris sides too. I’m delighted that Plum Jerkum, the local Warwick Border Morris side will be performing at my book launch in May!
Tell us a little about you and your past, and future writing projects.
A: I was born and brought up in Orpington, Kent, and studied English Literature at Lancaster University. My first permanent job was as a Production Secretary at the BBC in Portland Place, London. Later I lived and worked for four and a half years in Australia, then returned to England to live. Now I live in Warwick with my husband and son, and my daughter is now spending time living and working in Australia. I have long been fascinated by ghost stories and tales of the unexpected, and visiting ancient sites: castles, stately homes, and gardens. I’m a member of English Heritage and the National Trust and I live near two of England’s great castles at Warwick and Kenilworth. Currently I’m working on a third book for Amberley, A-Z of Warwick. I also have a completed mystery novel, Director’s Cut, out on submission to publishers and agents, and am nearly halfway through the sequel to that novel, Standing Ovation.
Do you believe in ghosts and what is your personal experience of the paranormal/strange happenings.
A: I have a theory about ghosts; I believe energy can be trapped in stone, and in the fabric of certain buildings, and those who are sensitive can tune into it. I haven’t experienced ghosts but have had curious experiences which seemed to me like out-of-the-body experiences. My sister has experienced phantom footsteps, and her story is very convincing. I suggest that those who see ghosts or hear phantom footsteps are experiencing a psychic recording. However, this doesn’t cover every kind of verified experience. Sometimes we may hear stories of a ghost apparently interacting with the living percipient. I am intrigued by the whole phenomenon and keep an open mind. I respect people who tell stories of genuine experiences. I don’t judge but listen. Some stories are very convincing, especially those experienced in the same place by different individuals at different times quite independently of each other. Some might possibly be the person’s imagination. I still respect their convictions about what they have experienced.
MJ: Thanks Sheila for the wonderful interview and your fascinating theory about ghosts.
Illustrated Tales of Warkwickshire is a wonderfully informative, interesting and beautifully illustrated book of tales of Warwickshire. Some of the images within are the author’s own photography. And I learnt a thing or two! Readers who enjoy strange, supernatural, historical and quirky tales will enjoy this book immensely. It is evident that the author S. C. Skillman loves her home in which she has lived for over 20 years. Judging by the lengthy bibliography and the book itself she has researched, interviewed and knows her subject matter exceedingly well. Warwickshire is deservedly known as Shakespeare country! Authors, writers, tale hunters, and those keen to discover more about Warwickshire would love this. It would make a lovely gift for both visitors to the UK and local folk alike.
Delve into tales of big cats, mysteries, magical forests, witchcraft, extraordinary true life stories, intriguing people, and much more… plus famous authors such as Lewis Carroll who studied at Rugby School, (though he wasn’t happy there!)
Highly recommended. Many thanks to the publisher Amberley Publishing and S. C. Skillman for a beautiful copy. Review given freely and readily with no bias.
BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION Publication: 15th April 2022 Price: £15.99 ISBN: 9781398110939 Size: 234 x 165mm Binding: Paperback Extent: 96 pages Illustrations: 100 illustrations Rights: World, all languages