blog tours, guest post, how to, writing

#BlogTour My Writing Process by Rachel Amphlett, author of Cradle To Grave. @RachelAmphlett #CradleToGrave @Tr4cyF3nt0n

I’m delighted to welcome Rachel Amphlett too If only I could read faster as part of the blog tour for Cradle To Grave. Rachel has written a piece just for us on her writing process. I found it really interesting to read and I hope you will too.

My writing process

These days I’m a full-time author after years fitting it around first full-time work and then a part-time job, but something that hasn’t changed is that every day, I write.

When I started out, I lived on the northern outskirts of Brisbane, Australia. Our suburb was the last stop on the train line into the city and so every morning, I’d find a seat, open my laptop, and write my word count for the day. By the time the train got into Brisbane half an hour later, I’d typically have 500-750 words. I was usually too tired after a day’s work to write, but I maintained this morning habit every day for three years of my writing life. 

I’ve carried that habit with me since I got made redundant in mid-2017 and being a writer became my full-time role. 

Today, I’ll make a cup of coffee, head up to the spare bedroom that serves as my writing cave, add anything going around in my head to my “to do” list next to my computer so it doesn’t clutter my thoughts, and then settle in to write.

When I first begin a book, I usually have the first scene in my head and a few ideas for other scenes spread throughout the story so I open a new file in Scrivener and start setting out these Chapters. Scrivener is a brilliant app for writing because I can keep all my character profiles, research, location information, and the manuscript all in one place. That way, I’m locked into my story world and not getting distracted by having to open up other documents to find something – or surf the internet!

I write fairly quickly – a first draft typically takes me 8-9 weeks, a bit longer if it’s a standalone novel or the first book in a new series when I’m getting to know new characters and settings. I set a deadline date, tell Scrivener how many words will be in the first draft, and the app spits out a target for the day’s writing. I don’t touch the “to do” list, social media, or emails until I’ve hit that target.

I don’t always hit the target in one go. I’ve been in the habit of working from 8am through to about 9:30am, then take my dog for a walk to blow away the cobwebs and mull over what I’ve written. When we get home, I’ll go back and keep writing until I’ve either hit the target or gone past it. If I’m really flying along in a particular scene, then I won’t stop – I’m not one of those writers who can hit pause and go back to the scene the next day.

Once the first draft is done, I’ll leave it alone for a few days before having a read-through. It takes a few more weeks while my close-knit team of first readers have a look at it before it goes off for edits and a proofread prior to publication.

Of course, while all that’s going on, I’m already writing the next book…

Blurb:

When a faceless body is found floating in the river on a summer’s morning, Detective Kay Hunter and her team are tasked with finding out the man’s identity – and where he came from.

The investigation takes a sinister turn when an abandoned boat is found, covered in blood stains and containing a child’s belongings.

Under mounting pressure from a distraught family and an unforgiving media, the police are in a race against time – but they have no leads, and no motive for the events that have taken place.

Will Kay be able to find a ruthless killer and a missing child before it’s too late?

Cradle to Grave is the eighth book in the Detective Kay Hunter series by USA Today bestselling author Rachel Amphlett, and perfect for fans of Ann Cleeves, Peter James and Stuart MacBride.

The Detective Kay Hunter series:

1. Scared to Death
2. Will to Live
3. One to Watch
4. Hell to Pay
5. Call to Arms
6. Gone to Ground
7. Bridge to Burn
8. Cradle to Grave 

About the Author:

USA Today bestseller Rachel Amphlett writes crime fiction and spy novels, including the Kay Hunter British detective series, the Dan Taylor espionage novels, the English Spy Mysteries featuring Eva Delacourt, and a number of standalone crime thrillers.

Rachel is a member of International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writers Association, with the Italian foreign rights for her debut novel, White Gold, being sold to Fanucci Editore’s TIMECrime imprint, and the first four books in the Dan Taylor espionage series contracted to Germany’s Luzifer Verlag.

Her novels are available in eBook, paperback and audiobook formats from worldwide retailers as well as her own stores at http://www.rachelamphlett.com. 

You can stay in touch with Rachel via her Reader’s Group by joining at http://www.rachelamphlett.com.

Download the FREE Official Reading Guide and Checklist to Rachel’s books here: https://www.rachelamphlett.com/books/official-reading-guide-and-chechttps://www.rachelamphlett.com/books/official-reading-guide-and-checklist/

Cradle to Grave by Rachel Amphlett is out on October 6th 2019 and is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

5*, blog tours, book review

#BlogTour #BookReview The Liar’s Sister by Sarah Denzil. @bookouture @sarahdenzil #TheLiarsSister #BooksOnTour

Today it is my stop on the blog tour for The Liar’s Sister by Sarah A Denzil. I’ve been a fan of the author for a while now and I know that I am not the only one who enjoys her writing because my review of Silent Child is one of my most read blog posts ever, and Only Daughter isn’t too far down the list either.

I received a copy of The Liar’s Sister by Sarah A Denzil from the publisher, Bookouture, via Netgalley. I was under no obligation to review the book and all thoughts are my own.

My Review:

Wow, I don’t really know where to start with this review. The Liar’s Sister starts off being your everyday psychological thriller and then it goes along seemingly following a normal path and then BAM! You realise that you stopped breathing a couple of minutes ago and you can’t read fast enough to find out what actually happened ten years before.

I quite liked Heather as a character, although I never really felt as though I got to know who she really was, but by the end that all made a lot more sense. I wasn’t sure about her sister Rosie, she seemed to be so consumed by guilt that it was impossible to work out what exactly she felt guilty about, although again that all became clear.

With The Liar’s Sister, Sarah A Denzil has weaved a clever story, one that gradually builds up the tension as more and more is revealed but it is hard to know who to trust.

The setting of Buckthorpe village was perfect, it felt claustrophobic and remarkably unfriendly, but why were the villages so contained, were they also keeping secrets too?

I feel as though I need to process this book a lot more to work out exactly what happened and why and also how I feel about it. It is one of those books that I will think about for a couple of weeks after finishing, a sure sign of a great read that kept me wondering and guessing right until the very last page.

I’ve really enjoyed previous books by the author but I think that this one is probably her best one yet.

Blurb:

A SHOCKING DISAPPEARANCE. A VILLAGE FULL OF SECRETS.

Ten years ago, a boy named Samuel Murray went missing from the quiet village of Buckthorpe and was never seen again.

Rosie Sharpe cried over her missing friend for weeks after. But her little sister Heather knows that Rosie’s tears hide the truth. Because the night Samuel was last seen, Heather watched her older sister climbing back through the window of their childhood bedroom. Her jacket torn, her eyes wild and her body trembling with fear.

Heather never told anyone what she saw, but secrets can’t stay buried forever…

A decade later, Rosie and Heather return to the home they grew up in when their mother falls ill. But when their house is ransacked and they receive a threatening note, it becomes clear that someone in the close-knit village doesn’t want them there.

When Heather finally confronts her sister about what really happened on the dark, rainy night Samuel vanished, Rosie’s version of the truth is more shocking than she could ever have imagined. But can she trust her sister? And who broke into their house that night? As the lies of the past begin to unravel, they have the power to put the lives of both women in terrible danger…

This twist-filled, page-turning psychological thriller from the million-copy-bestselling author of Silent Child will keep you hooked until the final, jaw-dropping pages. Perfect for fans of Behind Closed Doors and The Girl on the Train.

About The Author:

Sarah A. Denzil is a British suspense writer from Derbyshire. In her alternative life–AKA Sarah Dalton–she writes speculative fiction for teenagers, including The Blemished, Mary Hades and White Hart.

Sarah lives in Yorkshire with her partner, enjoying the scenic countryside and rather unpredictable weather. 

Saving April, Sarah’s debut suspense thriller, is a psychological look into the minds of the people around us who we rarely even consider – our neighbours. What do we really know about them, and what goes on when the doors are closed?

Author Social Media Links:

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sarahdenzil

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/marmiteandbooks/

Website: https://www.sarahdenzil.com/

The Liar’s Sister by Sarah A Denzil is out now and is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

5*, blog tours, book review

#BlogTour #BookReview In The Absence of Miracles by Michael J Malone. @annecater @michaelJmalone1 @OrendaBooks #IntheAbsenceofMiracles

Today is my stop on the blog tour for In The Absence of Miracles by Michael J Malone. Thank you to Anne Cater for having me on the tour and to Orenda Books for giving me a copy of the book. I was under no obligation to review the book and all thoughts are my own.

My Review:

Having read and thoroughly enjoyed previous books by Michael J Malone, I was keen to read his latest book, In The Absence of Miracles. It was a book that I agreed to read without even reading the blurb, so I went in with no idea what to expect, apart from what I had assumed about the authors books from what I had read before.

This book is nothing like I was expecting. It was a story that was heartbreaking and difficult to read, and one which makes the reader face the assumptions we all make about the things we read and hear.

The main character in the book is John, a respected teacher who seems to be floating through life, a bit of a lost soul. When he discovers a brother that he knew nothing about John focuses on finding out what happened to him, and soon the search becomes an obsession.

It soon becomes clear that John is going to find out a lot more about his childhood than what happened to his missing brother. It’s a real journey and it is not an easy one to travel. How much can we trust what we remember from when we were young? Is it really possible to forget huge chunks of your life?

I was totally unprepared for where this book would take me, the story is full of heartbreak but also hope. It has left me thoughtful and sad, but also keen to read more from Michael J Malone.

Blurb:

A young man discovers a family secret that turns his world upside down in this dark, emotive, shocking psychological thriller by number-one bestselling author Michael J. Malone

John Docherty’s mother has just been taken into a nursing home following a massive stroke and she’s unlikely to be able to live independently again.

With no other option than to sell the family home, John sets about packing up everything in the house. In sifting through the detritus of his family’s past he’s forced to revisit, and revise his childhood. For in a box, in the attic, he finds undeniable truth that he had a brother who disappeared when he himself was only a toddler. A brother no one ever mentioned. A brother he knew absolutely nothing about. A discovery that sets John on a journey from which he may never recover.

For sometimes in that space where memory should reside there is nothing but silence, smoke and ash. And in the absence of truth, in the absence of a miracle, we turn to prayer. And to violence.

Shocking, chilling and heartbreakingly emotive, In the Absence of Miracles is domestic noir at its most powerful, and a sensitively wrought portrait of a family whose shameful lies hide the very darkest of secrets.

About The Author:


Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and MarkingsBlood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize from the Scottish Association of Writers. Other published work includes: Carnegie’s Call; A Taste for Malice; The Guillotine Choice; Beyond the Rage; The Bad Samaritanand Dog Fight. His psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a number-one bestseller, and the critically acclaimed House of Spines and After He Died soon followed suit. A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller. Michael lives in Ayr.

You can read my review of House Of Spines by Michael J Malone here.

In The Absence of Miracles by Michael J Malone is out now and is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

4*, blog tours, book review, crime thriller

#BlogTour #BookReview Her Last Breath by Alison Belsham. @BOTBSPublicity @MORECAMBEVICE @AlisonBelsham #HerLastBreath #MorecambeandVice

Today I am so excited to be part of the blog tour for Morecambe & Vice Crime Writing Festival. Thank you to Sarah Hardy from Books on the Bright Side Publicity & Promo for asking me to be part of this exciting tour featuring some fabulous crime writers.

I’m reviewing Her Last Breath by Alison Belsham, the second crime book by the author after The Tattoo Thief. The author provided me with a copy of the book, I was under no obligation to review the book and all thoughts are my own.

My Review:

I really enjoyed reading The Tattoo Thief by Alison Belsham, and despite it being one of the most graphic and unsettling books that I have read, I was more than happy to read the authors second crime book, Her Last Breath.

It took me a little while to get back into the characters, mainly police detective Francis and Marni, a civilian who seems to be remarkably good at getting herself stuck in the middle of crimes that occur in her local Brighton.

The fact that the murders in this book didn’t quite match the depravity of the first book says a lot, as the crimes being committed here are deeply unpleasant. I won’t give too much away but if you don’t like graphic and unpleasant killing methods then perhaps this isn’t the book for you.

But if you are more like me then delve right into this story that will have you wondering and reading and holding your breath. The big finale is spectacularly unpleasant, mainly because of where it is set. I am sure that I could visualise and even smell the scene.

Belsham is confident in her writing and we see the characters develop through the book, becoming more real to the readers which makes me emotionally invested in the story. All of which makes a great read, one that is fun to read, but also turns your stomach now and then.

Blurb:

He leaves his victims fighting for life,
And with the mark of death…

After old remains resurface in a heatwave, a young woman is attacked and left fighting for her life in hospital. 24 hours later she dies and a deadly tattoo is discovered on her body.

When another young woman disappears, Detective Francis Sullivan and his team fear a serial killer walks the streets of Brighton.

His team identify a suspect, Alex Mullins, son of his lover, Marni. Can Francis forget their shared past and save the next victim before it is too late?

About The Author:

Alison Belsham initially started writing with the ambition of becoming a screenwriter-and in 2000 was commended for her visual storytelling in the Orange Prize for Screenwriting. In 2001 she was shortlisted in a BBC Drama Writer competition. Life and children intervened but, switching to fiction, in 2009 her novel Dominowas selected for the prestigious Adventures in Fiction mentoring scheme. In 2016 she pitched her first crime novel, The Tattoo Thief, at the Pitch Perfect event at the Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival and was judged the winner. After signing with agent Jenny Brown, The Tattoo Thief was bought by Trapeze books and published in May, 2018.

Read my review for The Tattoo Thief here.

For more information and how to get tickets for the Morecambe & Vice Crime Writing Festival go to: https://www.morecambecrimefest.co.uk/

Her Last Breath by Alison Belsham is out now and is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

4*, blog tours, book review, debut author

#BlogTour #BookReview The Lost Thumb by Orla Owen. @orlaowenwriting #TheLostThumb #RandomThingsTours @annecater

Today on If Only I Could Read Faster it appears to be twin day, because this is my second review today and both books have featured twins. Thank you to Anne Cater for asking me to be part of the blog tour for The Lost Thumb by Orla Owen.

My Review:

The Lost Thumb by Orla Owen is a quirky book, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started it but it definitely wasn’t any of the options that I had thought about.

This is the author’s debut novel and it is a really impressive first novel in many ways. The story is set in Australia, although that is totally irrelevant because the setting has no part in the story. I only realised that the book was set in Australia when I was about half way through and I realised then that it is really unusual to read a book that is so insular that the outside of the story doesn’t matter.

The other unusual thing with this book is that I have absolutely no idea what year the book was set in. There were no mentions of mobile phones which could be an indication but other than that I really have no idea. I think it would be from the 1960s on, perhaps in the 80s but who knows.

Lara and Luella are twins who live with their mother who controls everything about their lives, the twins have no say in how they live, where they go, what they wear and what they eat. They have no friends and live a colourless life, both literally and figuratively, and this is why the outside world doesn’t seem to matter, because for Lara and Luella it is totally irrelevant.

At times the book was hard to read, the abuse from the mother is shocking and upsetting, the description of the characters emotions was also quite raw. I also felt as though some of what happened was somewhat predictable and that was disappointing, given how different the story and characters were I had hoped that the author wouldn’t follow some predictable storylines.

But that didn’t stop this book from being a very clever debut, one that I enjoyed reading even though at times it made me feel very sad. Orla Owen is an author to watch.

Blurb:

In a small town in New South Wales, Lara and Luella Jeffreys lead isolated lives until the night they are left alone for the first time, and Luella decides to have some fun. 

That evening goes horribly wrong. 

After Luella wakes up in hospital, she’s kept prisoner at home with her mother acting as her warden. Lara is sent to school to keep up the pretence that she is fine, her sister is fine, and the world is fine. Except they aren’t. The local storekeeper, sensing that something’s wrong, pushes her son to befriend Lara but the results of her meddling are deadly…

About The Author:

Orla Owen is a writer, online editor, and author of the novel The Lost Thumb. She’s been writing since she was a child, and in 2016 was picked to be mentored by Sarah Savitt at Virago.

Her writing focuses on the dark and macabre side of family life, the parts that go on behind closed doors.

Before she became a writer, she was an actress and drama practitioner, studying Theatre at Bretton Hall College of the Arts. She has performed at the Royal Court and Edinburgh fringe, as well as working on The Women’s Theatre Workshop mentoring scheme.

Supporting women in writing is important to her, and she was lucky enough to work on a writers’ mentoring scheme, as an assistant to the author Kerry Hudson, at the WoMentoring Project. 

She is currently working on her second novel, PAH, which will be released in early 2020.

The Lost Thumb by Orla Owen is out now and is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

4*, blog tours, book review, crime thriller

#BlogTour #BookReview The Essence of Evil by Rob Sinclair. @RSinclairAuthor @canelo_co @Tr4cyF3nt0n #PoliceFiction #TheEssenceOfEvil

I’m delighted to be part of the blog tour for The Essence of Evil by Rob Sinclair. The first book in a new series about Detective Inspector Dani Stephens. Thank you to Tracy Fenton for asking me to be part of the blog tour.

My Review:

As a parent of twins I have to admit that I am drawn to read books that feature twins, especially boy/girl twins. This book might now sound like something that would appeal to a parent of boy/girl twins, given the boy in the story tries to kill his twin sister, but of course this is fiction and not something that could ever happen with my twins (obviously).

Dani Stephens is an unusual character, the consequences of the attack from her brother are something she continues to battle with, years after the attack occurred. I really liked how the author added details of Dani’s traumatic brain injury and the long term consequences on her and her behaviour. This added an element of drama, compassion, empathy, doubt, confusion and mistrust that is hard to achieve in believable fiction.

The book did feel a bit slow at times, and the last 15% was jammed full of action, which was great but I wish the pace had been quicker throughout and the majority of the book less of a slow burner.

But the scene is now set for a thriller series with a strong female lead who is vulnerable and flawed. Roll on book two.

Blurb:

He’s your attacker.

He’s a murderer.

He’s your twin. 

When D.I Dani Stephens returns to work after the attack that almost ended her life, she’s quickly plunged into a horrific new case, as dead bodies are discovered on the streets of Birmingham.

But with no link between the victims, Dani has to get inside a killer’s mind – so turns to the murderer she knows best. Her own twin brother…

But what makes a psychopath? Can understanding her twin help her find a murderer who leaves no trace? As the circle closes on Dani, the clock is ticking and she needs a breakthrough – before she becomes the latest victim.

A heart-stopping crime thriller that fans of Peter James and Mark Billingham won’t be able to put down.

About The Author:

@JigsawPhotographyUK

Rob is the author of the critically acclaimed and bestselling Enemyseries and James Ryker series of espionage thrillers. His books have sold over half a million copies to date with many reviewers and readers having likened Rob’s work to authors at the very top of the genre, including Lee Child and Vince Flynn. 

Rob began writing in 2009 following a promise to his wife, an avid reader, that he could pen a ‘can’t put down’ thriller. He worked for nearly 13 years for a global accounting firm after graduating from The University of Nottingham in 2002, specialising in forensic fraud investigations at both national and international levels. Rob now writes full time.

Originally from the North East of England, Rob has lived and worked in a number of fast paced cities, including New York, and is now settled in the West Midlands with his wife and young sons.

The Essence of Evil by Rob Sinclair is out on 12th September 2019 and is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

blog tours, book extract

#BlogTour #Extract Zippy And Me by Ronnie Le Drew, Duncan Barrett, and Nuala Calvi. #ZippyAndMe @Punchand @unbounders #RandomThingsTours

Today it is my stop on the blog tour for Zippy And Me by Ronnie Le Drew, Duncan Barrett, and Nuala Calvi. I’m sure that most people around my age remember Zippy from the incredibly popular children’s tv programme, Rainbow. So I was excited about the book and I’m delighted to share an extract from the book. Thank you to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for having me as part of the tour.

To whet your appetite for this fabulous book I have an extract for you. Enjoy!

Extract:

Curtain Up

July 1961. Stockwell Gardens council estate, South London.
Crouched behind a cardboard box, I wait impatiently
for the audience to settle. I sneak a glance round the side
of my brand-new Pollock’s toy theatre. Rows of little girls
in knee-high socks sit cross-legged on the floor as their
brothers jostle for space at the back.
I have summoned them to a performance on the landing
of our block of flats, instructing them very clearly not to
cross the crack in the concrete that delineates the stage.
I clear my throat importantly, and the rabble quietens
down a little. ‘The Tragical History of Hamlet, Prince
of Denmark, by William Shakespeare,’ I announce in
the lowest possible tones my thirteen-year-old voice box
can muster, prodding Bonnie, my twin sister, to start
the wind-up gramophone. I wince as the strains of ‘I’m
a Lonely Little Petunia in an Onion Patch’ begin, to the
accompaniment of sniggers. Hardly the grand orchestral
music I would have wished, but since it’s the only record
we own, it will have to do.

I take a last, lingering glance at the shiny photograph
of Laurence Olivier, resplendent as the Dane in the 1959
film of Hamlet, in the book that Benjamin Pollock’s toy
shop has helpfully provided as part of its Regency Theatre
kit. It has taken me eight weeks to save the money to buy it
from the Pollock’s shop on Monmouth Street, and it is my
pride and joy. The wooden stage is exquisitely made, with
a little round pit containing a painted orchestra, a battery-
operated spotlight, and cardboard scenery and characters
lovingly cut out and coloured in by Bonnie and me.
With a nod from me, she now lifts the little wooden
curtain and the lights come up; down goes the ghost of
Hamlet’s father on a piece of cotton thread, uttering the
immortal line: ‘O horrible! O horrible! Most horrible!’
I’m soon well into my stride, moving Hamlet and Horatio
around the ramparts and concentrating hard to make
sure I get every word right. The audience is completely
silent, apparently transfixed by the drama onstage.
After a couple of scenes it’s too much – the desire for
applause overwhelms me and I pull the curtain down with
a flourish, announcing, ‘You may clap now!’
As dead silence greets us, Bonnie and I stand up and
look over the top of the theatre.
There is no one there. Each and every child has quietly
crept away and we have been performing to ourselves.
It is the best lesson I will ever learn as a puppeteer.

Blurb:

Over the course of almost half a century, puppeteer Ronnie Le Drew has worked with the greats – from David Bowie in Labyrinth to Michael Caine in The Muppet Christmas Carol. But the role that defined his career was Rainbow’s Zippy, who he operated for more than twenty years.

Zippy and Me
 is the first time a Rainbow insider has told the true story of what went on under the counter and inside the suits: the petty squabbles between performers, wrangling with TV executives, and scandals such as the ‘love triangle’ between musicians Rod, Jane and Freddy. Not to mention the now infamous X-rated episode shot for an ITV Christmas party, which subsequently found its way to the Sun.

Interweaved with the dirt on what really went on behind the scenes is the story of Rainbow’s heyday in the 1970s and 80s, when its stars found themselves catapulted into an exciting showbiz world – scooping a BAFTA award and even performing for the queen – and the story of a young lad from a south London council estate who defied his parents’ protests to became one of the most respected puppeteers of all time.

About the Author:

Ronnie Le Drew is one of the UK’s most respected puppeteers, and recipient of the prestigious Harlequin Award.
He has operated many of the most iconic children’s puppets of the twentieth century – Zippy, Sweep, Muffin the
Mule, Bill and Ben, Brains from Thunderbirds – as well as working on classic puppet films such as Labyrinth,
Little Shop of Horrors and The Muppet Christmas Carol. He continues to work regularly as a puppeteer in TV,
theatre and advertising and also teaches at the London School of Puppetry, which he founded in 1987.

Zippy and Me by Ronnie Le Drew, Duncan Barrett and Nuala Calvi is out now and is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.