Friday, 17 January 2020

Friday Fiction Feature: A Crown in Time

Jennifer Macaire tells us how A Crown in Time came into being:

In my last series, which started with The Road to Alexander, I wrote about a modern woman kidnapped by Alexander the Great and forced to spend the rest of her life in ancient times. The series ended, and instead of resting on my laurels and taking up something more rewarding like hang-gliding off cliffs or deep sea exploration, I started a new book. This time I was heading to the Crusades, and since I love time slip books, my heroine was sent back on a mission to set time back on track after a serious mistake put the future in jeopardy.

I finished the book and started another one (I am a glutton for punishment - I can hardly find time to cook dinner so where was I finding time to write? Answer - lots of take-out pizzas.)  My publisher thought it was a good idea to tie the books together, so although it's not a new series per se, there is a connecting element which is the Tempus University Time Travel Program - a handy place to have if you want to go back in time.

A Crown in Time is a standalone novel that starts the series which includes three standalone books so far.  The series is called The Tempus U Time Travel series, and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it! 

A Crown in Time: She must rewrite history, or be erased from Time forever... (The Tempus U Time Travel series)

Since it was perfected in 2900, time travel has been reserved for an elite, highly trained few. However, on certain occasions, a Corrector is needed to rectify a mistake in the past.
Do your job well, and you'll go down in history. Fail, and you will be erased from Time . . .

In the far future, a convicted criminal is given a chance at redemption. The Corrector Program at Tempus University is sending Isobel back in time, to the year 1270, to rewrite history.
Her mission? To save the crown of France.

If she follows the Corrector's Handbook everything should run smoothly. But soon, Isobel finds herself accompanying a hot-headed young noble on his way to fight the infidel in Tunis: a battle Isobel knows is fated to be lost.

Isobel must fulfil her duty, knowing she can never return to her time, knowing one wrong move can doom the future, or doom her to be burned as a witch . . .

UK Amazon link: A Crown in Time
Publisher: Headline Accent (16 Jan. 2020)
ISBN-13: 978-1786157768
US Amazon link: A Crown in Time

Author bio: Jennifer Macaire lives with her husband, three children, & various dogs & horses. She loves cooking, eating chocolate, growing herbs and flowering plants on her balcony, and playing golf. She grew up in upstate New York, Samoa, and the Virgin Islands. She graduated from St. Peter and Paul high school in St. Thomas and moved to NYC where she modeled for five years for Elite. She met her husband at the polo club. All that is true. But she mostly likes to make up stories.

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Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Jane Risdon #interview #writerslife

Today Jane Risdon tells us about her writing life.

What genre would you say your novels fall into, or do they defy classification?

I like to think of myself as a crime/thriller/mystery writer because that is what I read and most of what I write falls into this genre. Having said that, I have ventured into other genres such as Women’s Fiction – I co-wrote Only One Woman with Christina Jones (Headline Accent) and that was my first outing with women’s fiction. I also write adventure, humour, and I’ve been known to dabble in the odd ghostly tale and some time-shifting stories. The strange this is I’ve never read women’s fiction, time-shift tales or ghost stories, but what I have written, to date, seems well received. It has been challenging, I must say.

What made you choose that genre?

Crime is where I feel most comfortable and I suppose I decided to write in this genre because it is the one I read, as I said, and also because it really intrigues me. I love anything to do with the topic and enjoy trying to pit my wits, solve crimes in books – well, attempt to – and get deeply into the subject whether it is in real life or in a book; the what, when, where, why, how, who, and so on niggles me until I know, and Cold cases are particularly of interest to me, such as the Jill Dando murder and similar miscarriages of justice.

How long does it take you to write a book?

Good grief, how long is a piece of string? I can write very quickly once I get going and I stick at it like a terrier until I write The End. Only One Woman took about 3 months to write and then I sent it to my co-author for her to write her parts. That took much longer. Everyone has their pace and, of course, real life intrudes and must take precedence. Research can take a while however, in addition to writing.

Ms Birdsong Investigates (still to be published) has been an exception in that I completed it in 2011. At first I wasn’t sure what to do with it, I hadn’t been published at that time and I wrote it for myself. However, in 2012 I had several short stories published in various anthologies and this spiked my interest in being published. I put some feelers out, not really proper approaches however, and a publisher contacted me about two anthologies they were compiling. They were interested in including some of my work. One thing led to another and I was signed to them in 2014.

Meantime Ms B was put on the back-burner because my publisher wanted to publish Only One Woman first (in 2017 eventually) – I’d submitted Ms B by this time. I asked for it back in 2014 and worked on it, updating it and refining it. Mostly because there had been changes to the way MI5 and MI6 operated and I needed to update my content. 

Ms Birdsong went back into my publisher and was put into their submissions file as they were not accepting anything for publication for months, and then they were sold to another, bigger, publisher, and this is where I am now. One book ready to go, another two in the series, in various stages of completion. So how long does it take? I live in hope.

I’ve contributed towards many anthologies since 2011 and with permission from my previous publisher, Undercover: Crime Shorts came out with an Indie Publisher. This collection of short stories comprises stories I’ve written over 10 years and there are another 100 where they came from. Also, there are another 5 novels sitting on my computer written between 2011 and now.

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?

My work schedule depends upon so many things but basically I do social media and interviews, blogs and emails until about lunch time and I write in the afternoon and possibly into the late evening. If ‘real life’ intrudes I will do bits and pieces here and there. I often write during weekends unless I decide to go walking when I usually take photos. These can sometimes be for locations for stories, but mostly because I love taking photos.

Tell me something about yourself your readers might not know.

Something my readers might not know about me is a difficult one. I’m sure most know I was in the international music business, managing singers, song-writers, musicians, record producers and placing music into movies and on TV and will have possibly read blogs I’ve been interviewed for, or my series in Writers’ Magazine which details some of my experiences.

During a long tour of the USA with a young rock band when we were doing summer festivals, live appearances on TV, Radio, and Video Stations, we were driven quite often by someone from the record company or the local radio station we were guests. We’d been driving from Florida to Seattle, through some of the most gorgeous country and we got to spend a great deal of time in Texas. On one occasion were chased by Mexican gun-men in an open back truck for miles and miles at night. We’d no idea what they wanted but our driver was armed to the teeth – so we discovered to our horror – and promised we’d go down ‘fighting’ if they caught up with us. Thankfully a Highway Patrol team saw what was happening when we passed a gas station, and followed in hot pursuit. We managed to get away and have no idea what happened. This was not the first encounter we had with guns and dodgy situations.

We went on to stop off at a USAF base – no idea where because there were so many places in a short period of time – but we were paying a visit to a friend of our driver who was once in the USAF with him. We spent the afternoon in the air-traffic control tower where I was allowed to ‘talk down’ several  B52s pilots who were doing short take off and landings on the runway and had to be ‘guided’ by me on approach as they rehearsed the touch-down landings they were making, barely touching the runway before taking off again. I loved it.  It was thrilling being in control of the huge planes and crews.

When did you write your first book and how old were you?

I attempted writing a book (novel) about 30 years ago but a friend read some of it and said it didn’t ‘sound’ like me talking and she really knocked my confidence. I didn’t try again in earnest until 2011 when I started two books: Only One Woman and Ms Birdsong Investigates.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?

When I am not writing I enjoy Family History Research and I’ve successfully traced long-lost relatives all over the world. I do a lot of walking and love the countryside and seeing Country houses and gardens (I belong to the National Trust), and villages, churches, and cathedrals. I always take lots of photos. I love reading, and listening to my husband playing his guitar and song-writing.  After decades on the road with musicians and all their noise and energy, I value and love peace and quiet.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

I was, and still am amazed when writing my books and short stories, at my ability to create murderous plots and evil characters. I must have a criminal mind. I’m constantly surprised and delighted by readers who seem to enjoy my efforts in whichever genre I write. I write for myself and it is a thrill when someone says they’ve read and enjoyed my writing. I never imagined anyone would.

How many books have you written?

How many books have I written? Wow! Do you really want to know? I’ve written and published the novel, Only One Woman, with Christina Jones (Headline Accent), and a collection of my short stories, Undercover: Crime Shorts  (Plaisted Publishing).

I’ve contributed to 16 published anthologies to date, all residing on my computer along with about 100 short stories awaiting publication, and also 6 or 7 novels. One novel is the sequel to Only One Woman, which I’m writing now. Another is Ms Birdsong Investigates, which is ready for publication and there are 2 other books in the series almost ready to go. I also have a couple of books which I need to go back to and fiddle with before presenting them for publication.

Do you Google yourself? What did you find that affected you most (good or bad)?

No, I have not Googled myself, I’m too terrified to. My husband has, and I refuse to hear what he’s found.

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

Being the eldest of 6 children and a few years older than the next in line, I was quite a lonely child and found my ‘friends’ in books, and creating my own by writing stories. I lived life inside my head, having few real-life friends. However, I had a vivid imagination and always wanted to be a writer – a war correspondent was my first career choice which never came off – I imagined travelling all over the world writing about what I’d seen. Sadly, back then there were few serious female journalists, let alone war correspondents, and I was talked out of that at school.

I’ve always had a creative side and part of me thought I’d be the next Anna Pavlova or Doris Day. My parental’s were disapproving and I had to settle for ballet classes and the odd appearance in school plays. Music was a passion and I suppose my creative abilities were fulfilled once I married a musician and eventually got into music management and production. Writing was always lurking in the background and when our musical life became less important, writing took over. And here I am now. A writer. I hope.


Jane Risdon has spent most of her life working in the International Music Business rubbing shoulders with the powerful and famous, especially in Hollywood.

Married to a musician and later working alongside him managing singers, musicians, songwriters, and record producers, she’s also facilitated the placement of music on successful television series and movie soundtracks.

Her experiences have provided her with a unique insight into the business and her writing often has a music related theme.

With long-term friend, award-winning, best-selling author, Christina Jones – one time fan-club secretary for Jane’s husband’s band – Jane has co-authored Only One Woman (Headline Accent) which is set in the UK music scene of 1968/69.

Recently Jane completed and published her first collection of short crime stories – Undercover: Crime Shorts  (Plaisted Publishing House Ltd).

Jane regularly writes for online and print magazines and has contributed to 16 anthologies. She also has a blog and often hosts guest authors. She is a regular guest on blogs and on internet radio shows broadcasting with a global reach.

Her books are available in Waterstones and all good book stores as well as via various digital platforms such as Amazon.

Jane Risdon Links:

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Friday, 10 January 2020

Friday Fiction Feature: Anna Legat

Sandman, inside a terrorist’s head by Anna Legat.

Sandman is the latest installment in my DI Marsh crime series. The title character is an Afghani veteran of two wars: the war against the Soviets in the eighties and then the War on Terror. He is bitter, feeling betrayed, dehumanised and robbed of his honour, his country and his family. He blames the West for his plight and embarks on a mission of revenge. DI Gillian Marsh is pitted against him and his collaborators in a deadly game of cat and mouse on the periphery of Salisbury Plain.

Terrorism has become a hallmark of our times. When devising a theme for each of my DI Marsh installments, I think of such hallmarks, be it homelessness, road rage, the loneliness of old age or the rise of far-right extremism. I want my books to reflect the times we live in. Some of these themes I understand better than others. Some of them I experienced myself, others I witnessed. But getting inside the head of a hardened terrorist and understanding his motives so that I could write about him with authority was a tall order. I didn’t want to botch it.

I have always admired my idol, crime-writer Ruth Rendell for her uncanny ability to read the most deprived and damaged minds. She was so good at it that you felt wary of her – you almost – irrationally - suspected that her own mind wasn’t that far removed from that of a psychopath, or a serial killer or a cynical murderer. She was as good at getting inside the mind of a victim. I want my characters to be equally authentic and equally believable. Sandman was my biggest challenge yet.

As much as I had some background knowledge of some of my characters, such as the Zimbabwean farmer or the Polish train driver, I had to research others in order to do them justice. I watched documentaries about the Falklands War so that Oscar’s nightmares could touch a nerve – and that happen when a retired Army officer validated my descriptions as accurate and praised their authenticity. 

In order to reliably convey Sandman, I delved into the history of Afghanistan. I didn’t struggle with understanding the mentality of a nation subjugated by the Soviets – that was easy, I know of it first-hand. Sandman’s personal journey through two wars was harder. I am eternally grateful to Rodric Braithwaite for writing Afghantsy, The Russians in Afghanistan 1979-89. I read that book from cover to cover, took notes, re-read passages, and I gained a glimpse of what may be crossing the mind of an Afghan who had lost everything apart from his expertise in killing. I hope Sandman captured the essence of the mind of a terrorist.

Links to my books:

Bio: A globe-trotter and Jack-of-all-trades, Anna Legat has been an attorney, legal adviser, a silver-service waitress, a school teacher and a librarian. She read law at the University of South Africa and Warsaw University, then gained teaching qualifications from Wellington College of Education (Victoria University, New Zealand). She inhabited far-flung places where she delighted in people-watching and collecting precious life experiences for her stories. She writes, reads, lives and breathes books and can no longer tell the difference between fact and fiction.

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Thursday, 9 January 2020

Rage and Retribution - The Next D.I. Sterling Thriller

I am so thrilled with the way my publisher is promoting Rage and Retribution. Below is how the copy looks online. Out next month, but available now to pre-order.
Can two wrongs ever make a right?
A man is found by the side of a canal, comatose and brutally attacked.
It quickly becomes clear that someone is abducting men and subjecting them to horrific acts of torture. After three days they're released, fighting for their lives and refusing to speak. 
A councillor is accused of fraud.
Montague Mason is an upstanding member of the community. That is until he's publicly accused of stealing the youth centre's funds - an accusation that threatens to rip through the very heart of the community and expose his best-kept secret. But how far would he go to protect himself?
Two cases. One deadly answer.
As the two cases collide, D.I. Paolo Sterling finds he has more questions than answers. And, when torture escalates to murder, he suddenly finds himself in a race against time to find the killer and put an end to the depravity - once and for all.
'A dark, cleverly plotted tale . . . I was gripped from the opening scene and raced through the book to its final, shocking ending. Crime writing at its very best' Sheila Bugler
'Gritty, topical, sometimes lacerating, but always enthralling. A truly compulsive read' Abbie Frost
Lorraine Mace brings us the fourth instalment in her dark, gritty and shocking series featuring DI Paolo Sterling - perfect for fans of Karin Slaughter, Tess Gerritsen and Mo Hayder.
Readers love the D.I. Sterling thrillers:
'I could not put my kindle down while reading this!' *****
'A real page turner' *****
'Gripping, gritty and gruesome. A perfect start to a new series!' *****
'An absolutely brilliant read' *****
'A gritty and gripping thriller that kept me turning the pages' *****
'Wow!!! What a book!!!' *****
'Dark, disturbing yet utterly gripping!' *****
'This series is now a firm favourite of mine and I'm looking forward to the next one' *****
'Every book I've read in the series has been fantastic' *****

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Wednesday, 8 January 2020

Rosie Travers #interview #writerslife

Rosie Travers answers some questions on her writing life
What genre would you say your novels fall into, or do they defy classification?
I write uplifting commercial women’s fiction – it’s not exactly rom-com, although I like to bring humour into my writing and an inevitable romance.  If there was a quirky-family drama-with-an-unsolved-mystery category, then my books would fall into it.

What made you choose that genre?
It chose me. I don’t plot my novels; I just write what comes into my head and those are stories that develop.

How long does it take you to write a book?
The first full length novel I wrote, which has never been published, kept me occupied for at least five years. The second, The Theatre of Dreams, was a good couple of years in the making. My third novel, Your Secret’s Safe With Me, was written in less than nine months. I’m getting quicker! 

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I’m an early bird and find I work best first thing in the morning. I have to have solitude – I can’t write when there are other people in the house.

Tell me something about yourself your readers right not know.
I spent three years living in California and worked as a volunteer at the Los Angeles Arboretum. Gardening is my second great love after writing – and pulling weeds is a great stress reliever.

When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I was in my 50s before I had my first book published.  As a teenager I scribbled numerous novels in notebooks and bashed out stories on a manual typewriter. Everything was put on hold when I had my family and it wasn’t until I had an empty nest that I took up writing again. 

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
We moved to a new house this summer with a fairly substantial garden, vegetable beds and my first greenhouse. I have grand plans! 

Apart from that I love travelling and have been lucky enough to visit and live in some amazing places.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
That I could actually do it. When I first started writing I had no idea where my journey would take me, but to finish up as a published author is a fantastic achievement. I’m also surprised at how emotionally attached I become to my characters – and how much I miss them when I type ‘the end’.

How many books have you written?
I’ve written two published novels.

Do you Google yourself? What did you find that affected you most (good or bad)?
I have Googled myself – everything is book related – which is good! I’m a private person.

As a child what did you want to do when you grew up?
I went through various phases when I was young – anything from bus conductor to graphic designer. I took a secretarial course after leaving school because I thought it would be useful to have something to fall back on – but I think, secretly, I always wanted to be a writer.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have on your computer?
I have one complete unpublished novel on my PC, but I have an entire assortment of characters and half-baked plotlines that hopefully will find a home one day.  My current WIP is a cosy crime novel, and I’m also working on a novella sequel to The Theatre of Dreams.

Rosie Travers Bio
Rosie grew up on the south coast of England and loved escaping into a good book at a very early age. After several years juggling motherhood and a variety of jobs in local government, she moved to southern California when her husband took an overseas work assignment. With time on her hands she started a blog about ex-pat life which rekindled her teenage desire to become a writer. On her return to the UK she took a creative writing course and the rest, as they say, is history.

Rosie writes uplifting heart-warming stories sprinkled with mystery, drama and a dash of romance. The dynamics of family life is her favourites topic.

Rosie’s debut novel The Theatre of Dreams was published by Crooked Cat Books in August 2018. Her second novel Your Secret’s Safe With Me followed in February 2019.

Twitter @RosieTravers
Instagram: rosietraversauthor

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Thursday, 19 December 2019

Alice Castle #interview #writerslife

Alice Castle shares her writing life in this interview.

What genre would you say your novels fall into, or do they defy classification?
I write in two specific genres, cosy crime and domestic noir psychological thrillers.

What made you choose that genre?
They’re my favourite genres! I tried to write lovely upbeat romantic comedies but always got to the point where I wanted to kill my characters, so…

How long does it take you to write a book?
It varies, some are definitely harder than others. The Perfect Widow, my debut psychological thriller with HQDigital, took two years off and on, but The Slayings in Sydenham took four months.

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
I am very disciplined – I have to be or nothing would get done at all. So I sit down every morning and write until I have at least a thousand words down. I have various rituals I go through first, clearing my emails, fiddling around and putting off the evil hour, but I make myself get on with it eventually. Some days they might not be great words but they do get done. I always try to set myself achievable goals, there’s nothing more demoralising than failing to meet a target.

Tell me something about yourself your readers might not know.
Characters in my books are always eating cakes and chocolates, particularly Brownies, but I never touch sugar.

When did you write your first book and how old were you?
The first book I had published took me ages to write and wasn’t published until I was 47. Things have speeded up since then!

What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Read books! I tend not to read very much when I’m in a big writing phase so it’s lovely to get back to my favourite authors when I’ve finished a novel.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
Writing is such a love/hate battle and that’s surprising. People expect me to love it, but it’s actually a job, with all the ups and downs that go with work – some parts are really wonderful but others, like editing, are a slog.

How many books have you written?
I’ve had nine books published and just finished writing the tenth. I’m going to start number eleven in the next few weeks.

Do you Google yourself? What did you find that affected you most (good or bad)?
I’ve just Googled myself – annoyingly an insurance company comes up first!

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I’ve always wanted to write books.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have on your computer?
I have about three semi-finished early efforts at whodunits but they are all now on obsolete PCs, and at least one is lost in Belgium. I also have 60k of a rather dire chicklit novel knocking around somewhere. I’m not sure any of them will ever see the light of day! I look on them as my apprenticeship as a writer.

Before turning to crime, Alice Castle was a feature writer on national newspapers including the Daily Express, The Times and The Daily Telegraph. Alice writes psychological thrillers for HQDigital under the name A.M. Castle. The first, The Perfect Widow, was published in November 2019. She also writes the Death in Dulwich cozy crime series for Darkstroke/Crooked Cat as Alice Castle. The seventh in the series, The Slayings in Sydenham, came out in December 2019.

Alice loves talking to readers, find her on Twitter @AliceMCastle, or her website She lives in south east London and has two children and two cats.

Links to buy books: 

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Friday, 13 December 2019

I Could be You #review

I Could be You by Sheila Bugler grabs the reader from the opening pages – a dead woman and a missing child! From this point on the twists keep coming – just when I thought I knew something, the plot takes a turn in a totally different direction. 

Dee, the character we follow in the present day, used to be a top journalist but then various events, including the breakdown of her marriage and her mother’s death, cause her to become something of a recluse. 

However, she opens up a little to her tenant Katie and falls in love with Katie’s young son Jake. After finding the dead woman, who has clearly been the victim of a deliberate hit and run, Dee uses her journalistic skills to try to track down Jake, discovering along the way
that everything she thought she knew about her friend proves wrong.

Interspersed with the present day theme are flashbacks to another character. I won’t say more as I don’t want to include spoilers, but suffice it to say I found it hard to put the book down! Thank you to NetGalley, Sheila Bugler and Canelo for allowing me an advance copy.

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