Blog Tour: Surviving Me by Jo Johnson #GuestPost

Surviving Me

I’m happy to be taking my turn today on the blog tour today for Surviving Me by Jo Johnson. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey for inviting me to take part in the tour and to the author for her guest post. Make sure you scroll down to the bottom of the post for a great giveaway.

Surviving Me Cover

Deceit has a certain allure when your life doesn’t match up to the ideal of what it means to be a modern man.

Tom’s lost his job and now he’s been labelled ‘spermless’. He doesn’t exactly feel like a modern man, although his double life helps. Yet when his secret identity threatens to unravel, he starts to lose the plot and comes perilously close to the edge.

All the while Adam has his own duplicity, albeit for very different reasons, reasons which will blow the family’s future out of the water.

If they can’t be honest with themselves, and everyone else, then things are going to get a whole lot more complicated.

This book tackles hard issues such as male depression, dysfunctional families and degenerative diseases in an honest, life-affirming and often humorous way. It focuses particularly on the challenges of being male in today’s world and explores how our silence on these big issues can help push men to the brink.

An unusual path to publishing a novel by Jo Johnson

Were you educated in this country?’ This was one of the first questions a tutor asked me at university. My punctuation and grammar were terrible. I hated English at school. 

Later, in my work as a clinical psychologist, I was good at relating to people but my reports continued to be a source of amusement. My written work was my weakness. 

As I progressed in my career, I discovered a gift for public speaking. I found telling stories was a great way to entice people to listen. In 2009 I was invited to speak at a national event for people living with multiple sclerosis (MS) and designed a unique workshop called ‘Shrinking the Smirch’. It encouraged my listeners to see their MS as something outside themselves, an external creature. It went down so well that the organisers asked me to turn the session into a workbook.

‘But I can’t write,’ I insisted.

‘If you can speak to people, you can write for them,’ the conference organiser batted back. To my utter amazement, ‘Shrinking the Smirch: the workbook’ won a Plain English Award. This spurred me on to write further workbooks about managing emotional distress and neurology-themed books for young people.

I didn’t plan to write a novel. I left the NHS in 2008 which gave me more time but being self-employed was lonely. So, each day, I interspersed client appointments with visits to the café across the road from my office.

One day, I noticed an unremarkable middle- aged man staring out of the window. I wondered what his story might be. 

On my iPad I wrote:

‘At this point in time, I can accurately be described as unemployed, impotent, and a liar.’

This became the first sentence of my debut novel, “Surviving Me”.

Over the next seven years I added to my story, at times it was an addiction that distracted me from work and family commitments. Tom, my main character was my secret friend for many years. Eventually, I allowed a friend to read it. She loved it and bullied me into finishing it. 

Since then, I have fielded my manuscript to countless friends and colleagues, out of paranoia and lack of confidence. I was always genuinely surprised – and encouraged – by people’s feedback. 

When unbound publishers accepted my manuscript I was delighted. The first editor asked me where I’d done my creative writing course as I didn’t have a clue what he meant by backstory, pace or point of view within the context of fiction writing. 

Fortunately, that amazing structural editor reassured me I had a lot of raw talent and helped me learn the rest. It was a steep learning curve especially as I was working full time as a clinical psychologist whilst preparing my book for publish. My poor teenagers completed their most important exams with very little parental support.

Writing helps me clear my mind of other people’s troubles. And humour is a great way to defuse some of the day’s tensions. My line of work can make you laugh and cry almost simultaneously – and I hope my characters do the same for my readers.

I still can’t believe I’m the author of a novel that is being described in reviews as refreshingly different and beautifully written.

Thank you for sharing your fascinating journey with us, Jo.

If you would like to get your hands on a copy of Surviving Me, you can buy a copy here.

Giveaway

Jo is running a giveaway with two first prizes of a signed copy of Surviving Me and a Surviving Me fridge magnet and five runner-up prizes of a Surviving Me fridge magnet. To enter, please click on the Rafflecopter link below:

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*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box above.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

To find out more about the book and read some reviews, please check out the rest of the stops on the tour:

Surviving Me Full Tour Banner

About the Author

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I’m very excited that my debut novel ‘Surviving Me’ is due to be published on the 14 November. The novel is about male minds and what pushes a regular man to the edge. The novel combines all the themes I can write about with authenticity.

I qualified as a clinical psychologist in 1992 and initially worked with people with learning disabilities before moving into the field of neurology in 1996. I worked in the NHS until 2008 when i left to write and explore new projects.

I now work as an independent clinical psychologist in West Sussex.

Jo speaks and writes for several national neurology charities including Headway and the MS Trust. Client and family related publications include, “Talking to your kids about MS”, “My mum makes the best cakes” and “Shrinking the Smirch”.

In the last few years Jo has been offering psychological intervention using the acceptance and commitment therapeutic model (ACT) which is the most up to date version of CBT. She is now using THE ACT model in a range of organisations such as the police to help employees protect their minds in order to avoid symptoms of stress and work related burnout. 

Social media links:

Facebook: Shrinking the Smirsch

Friday Night Drinks with…. Karen King

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Another Friday night in for everyone, so welcome to my latest edition of Friday Night Drinks and, this evening, I am delighted to be joined by fellow RNA member and author…Karen King.

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Welcome to the blog, Karen. Thank you for joining me for drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?

Pink gin and gaseosa, which is a zero calorie soda popular here in Spain.

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If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?

Probably to The Coconut, a local Tapas bar In Coín, a nearby town.

If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?

Julie Walters and Paul Daniels. I think they’d be great company for a night out.

So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. What have you got going on? How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?

Well, I’ve just re-signed with Bookouture, my current publishers, this time for two psychological thrillers. I’m delighted to be turning to the dark side and writing about relationships that have gone wrong as opposed to the romance novels I’m more known for.

Oooh, interesting! What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?

My biggest challenge was writing a book of 27 plays for use in schools. I also had to write teacher’s notes for each play, detailing how to make the costumes, how the children should act etc. I’d never written a play before and it was tough going.

My proudest moment was when I was approached by Bookouture and asked to write for them. I had admired the company for some time and am thrilled to be part of their team.

They are a great publisher, as a blogger, I love working with them. What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, its just us talking after all!

Having a book made into a film would be nice. 😊 

What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

My first psychological thriller, which is about a woman whose husband suffers amnesiain a car crash, leaving him unable to remember their marriage, or the darkness within it.It’s a story that’s been in my head for some time so I’m excited to be actually writing it. 

I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?

It’s hard to choose. I was fascinated by Venice, the magical appearance of the houses seeming to rise out of the water, the gondolas and water taxis everywhere but the pyramids in Egypt were breathtaking so that comes a close second.

Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

I’m pretty open so don’t really have any secrets so this is where I usually mention that it took me seventeen attempts and many years to pass my driving test.

Wow! Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?

There are so many books I love that I couldn’t possibly recommend one. I enjoy reading lots of different genres, romance, thrillers, autobiographies, travel books. All I can say is read whatever takes your fancy but do read, books give so much pleasure and open the door to so many worlds and experiences.

So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?

Alternating alcoholic drinks with soft drinks and drinking a glass of water before you go to bed is a good way to avoid a hangover. If you do get one just try and sleep it off.

After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

A trip to the Saturday market in Puerto Banus would be a great way to spend themorning then lunch at one of the harbourside restaurants, followed by a shopping trip in Marbella then ending the evening in one of the nightclubs there. Sunday we could take adrive over to Benalmadena and take a boat trip around the bay, have a paddle in the sea, then grab some souvenirs at the local shops, drive back to my home in Cartama and have tapas and drinks around the pool with friends.

That sounds busy but fun! Karen, thank you for keeping me company this evening, it’s been wonderful.

Karen’s book, The Year of Starting Over is the perfect feelgood novel to cheer you up and take you away during this period of enforced idleness and isolation. If this sounds like something you would enjoy, you can buy a copy here.

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What if – to find yourself – you had to run away?

Last year was meant to be when Holly got her happy-ever-after. But stuck in a job that’s going nowhere, and a relationship that feels more like it’s going backwards… this year Holly has decided it’s time to change her life. She just has to:

– End the relationship with the commitment-phobic boyfriend
– Go on a proper adventure
– Learn to be herself again
– Definitely, categorically not fall in love.

Cramming her belongings into her little yellow Mini, Holly drives on to a ferry bound to Spain, to stay at a remote farmhouse near a beautiful village in the Andalusian hills.

But the day she arrives she nearly crashes her car into a gorgeous guy on a motorbike. He’s called Matias and their paths keep crossing, much to Holly’s irritation. Because as she learns to speak Spanish from the locals, finally starts laying out plans for her own design business, and sips sangria in the sunlit village square, Holly is beginning to remember who she is and what she wants.

So she won’t allow herself be distracted by Matias. Because this year – for Holly – there are more important things in life than love. And she won’t let yet another bad relationship ruin everything… will she?

Karen King was born in Birmingham and has always enjoyed reading and writing. She’s been published for over thirty years, in a variety of genres for both children and adults. She loves writing about the complexities of relationships. She has had eight romance novels published, is currently published by Bookouture and is thrilled to have signed a two book contract with them for psychological thrillers where she can explore the darker side of relationships.

Karen now lives in Spain where she loves to spend her non-writing time exploring the quaint local towns with her husband, Dave, when she isn’t sunbathing or swimming in the pool, that is.

You can find out more about Karen and her books on her website, Facebook, and Twitter.

Next week, I am due to be joined for drinks by author, Sasha Lane, so watch this space.

Friday Night Drinks with…. Catherine Kullmann @CKullmannAuthor #RegencyRomance #HistFic #FridayNightDrinks #ThePotentialForLove

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A lot of people will find themselves at virtual bars tonight, but I’ve been doing it since before it was cool, and I’m delighted to be joined for socially-distanced drinks tonight by author…..Catherine Kullmann.

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Catherine, I hope you are keeping well. Thank you for joining me for drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?

Thank you for the invitation. I’ll have a Bronx, please. It’s a version of a dry martini with fresh orange juice added. I came across it in one of Georgette Heyer’s 1930s detective stories and had to try it. Delicious but insidious.

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If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?

Shelbourne Social in Dublin. This restaurant has a lovely cocktail bar so we can start there, move downstairs for dinner and then go back upstairs for a digestif or two.

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If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?

Georgette Heyer—she is said to have been very reserved, but, judging by her books, she had a great sense of humour and I would love to talk to her about the Regency. My male guest must be Thomas Creevey MP whose entertaining letters give a real insight into the Regency period and beyond, right up to the ascension to the throne of Queen Victoria. And, if you allow me a married couple as well, I would love to chat to Sir Harry Smith and his wife Juana de los Dolores de León. Their true love story is one of the best Regency romances ever and inspired Georgette Heyer’s The Spanish Bride.

So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. What have you got going on? How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?

My new book, The Potential for Love, will be released next week, on Wednesday 25 March. Set in 1816, it continues the Waterloo arc of my previous novels, this time looking at what happens after the end of the Napoleonic wars. The heroine, Arabella Malvin, is mourning the loss of her brother at Waterloo while the hero, Major Thomas Ferraunt returns to England from occupied Paris after six years in the Peninsula with the army.

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What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?

The day after my first book, The Murmur of Masks, was released, a reader in Sylvania, Georgia posted it on Goodreads with a four star rating. I was suddenly out there as a real author.

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 The biggest challenge is to find time for writing, marketing, promotion etc. etc.

What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, it’s just us talking after all!

As it’s just us—I think my Duchess of Gracechurch trilogy would make a fantastic television series. Set from 1803 to 1816, three interlinked novels celebrate family, friendship and love in all its guises, with some wonderful scenes at Watier’s Masquerade in 1814 and Brussels and Waterloo, not to mention a duel, three major and two minor love stories, and beautiful Regency costumes.

What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

I am working on the last book in the Waterloo arc. It takes place six years later. The heroine lost her fiancée at Waterloo and has had no interest in love or marriage since. But then she is made an unexpected offer and must decide does she want to remain in the shallows for the rest of her life or risk deep water again.

I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?

My late husband and I travelled a lot and it is very hard to say which was my favourite place. Greece is my favourite country, I think. We travelled extensively there and there is so much to see and do.

At this stage in my life, I am more interested in revisiting places than discovering new ones. First on my list is Sorrento in Italy.

Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

I love to plan—it is my coping mechanism—but have no problem ditching one plan and developing another. 

Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?

I cannot imagine a life or a house without books. The Beacon at Alexandria by Gillian Bradshaw is one of my absolute favourites. Set in the fourth century AD, it is the story of an upper-class Roman girl who runs away from home and disguises herself as a eunuch so that she can train as a doctor in Alexandria. Charis is an intriguing character and the book gives wonderful insights into the late Roman Empire, the development of Christianity and the beginning of the rise of the Goths and Huns. And there is a hero to die for.

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In the first century Roman Empire, Charis, a young woman determined to become a doctor, flees from an arranged marriage, and, disguised as a eunuch, journeys to Alexandria to continue her studies

So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?

Pace yourself and drink water or tea in between and get some sleep. If I do get a hangover, first paracetamol, then tea, toast and marmalade, and finally a walk in the sea air. 

After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

As you would all be visitors to Dublin, I would love to show you my city on Saturday, with your choice of concert, theatre or an Irish music session in the pub in the evening. If there is time on Sunday before you go to the airport, we could have a walk followed by lunch in the little fishing village of Howth to the north of Dublin.

Catherine, that sounds perfect. Thank you for joining me, it has been  pleasure toccata with you and good luck for the new book.

Catherine’s new book, The Potential for Love, is out next week and you can buy a copy here.

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When Arabella Malvin sees the figure of an officer silhouetted against the sun, for one interminable moment she thinks he is her brother, against all odds home from Waterloo. But it is Major Thomas Ferraunt, the rector’s son, newly returned from occupied Paris who stands in front of her.

For over six years, Thomas’s thoughts have been of war. Now he must ask himself what his place is in this new world and what he wants from it. More and more, his thoughts turn to Miss Malvin, but would Lord Malvin agree to such a mismatch for his daughter, especially when she is being courted by Lord Henry Danlow?

As Arabella embarks on her fourth Season, she finds herself more in demand than ever before. But she is tired of the life of a debutante, waiting in the wings for her real life to begin. She is ready to marry. But which of her suitors has the potential for love and who will agree to the type of marriage she wants?

As she struggles to make her choice, she is faced with danger from an unexpected quarter while Thomas is stunned by a new challenge. Will these events bring them together or drive them apart?

Catherine Kullmann was born and educated in Dublin. Following a three-year courtship conducted mostly by letter, she moved to Germany where she lived for twenty-five years before returning to Ireland. She has worked in the Irish and New Zealand public services and in the private sector.

Catherine has always been interested in the extended Regency period, a time when the foundations of our modern world were laid. Her books are set against a background of the offstage, Napoleonic wars and consider in particular the situation of women trapped in a patriarchal society. She also blogs about historical facts and trivia related to this era.

You can find out more about Catherine and her books on her website and via Facebook and Twitter.

Next week, join me again for Friday Night Drinks with author, Karen King.

Friday Night Drinks with…. Diane Saxon @Diane_Saxon @Boldwoodbooks @RNATweets #FridayNightDrinks #TheKeeper #Copycat

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Tonight I am joined for Friday Night Drinks  by fellow RNA Member and author….Diane Saxon.

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Diane, welcome to the blog and thank you for coming along this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?

Good evening Julie, and thank you so much for inviting me around. I’m a red wine drinker and currently I have a really nice Malbec from Argentina in my glass.

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Sounds lovely. If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?

Well, I’d probably take you to my local bar and restaurant, The Ugly Duckling. They serve lovely food and have a good selection of wines and have a lovely atmosphere.

If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?

Hugh Jackman – without a doubt. I think he’s not only gorgeous, but intelligent, engaging and so in love with his wife that you can’t help but admire him.

Other than Hugh Jackman’s Debbie, (who can come along too) I would also choose Nora Roberts. A fascinating woman, very direct, and I believe great fun too.

So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. What have you got going on? How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?

I’m currently pounding through the next book in my DS Jenna Morgan series. Burn! is the working title, but that will probably change. It’s book three of the four-book deal I have with Boldwood Books and my hero and heroine are dicing with a drug lord. I have a plan, but that could all fall by the wayside pretty soon if my characters don’t cooperate.

What has been your proudest moment since you started writing/blogging and what has been your biggest challenge?

Proudest moment. When Boldwood offered me a four-book deal.

Biggest challenge. I’ll have to think about that one. I’m quite philosophical so challenges come, I wade through them, I carry on. I don’t dwell on them. 

What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, its just us talking after all!

I’d love for the BBC to call me and offer to buy the series for a drama production. That’s all. Not much to ask for.

What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

As above.

I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?

I have a travel bucket list too. I adore travelling and do a city visit every year with my girls and a beach holiday with hubster (and quite often the girls too). I have so many places I’ve adored, but I try not to go back as there are so many more to see. Up there amongst the favourites was Canada in a Winnebago. 

One day I’d love to visit the Great Wall of China, but I suspect it won’t be for a while.

Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

I used to kiss dung beetles when I was a little girl living in Africa.

Was there a particular reason for kissing the dung beetles?! Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?

Okay, this is by far the most difficult question, because I absolutely love books and my ‘must-read’ recommendation probably changes on a daily basis. So, I will give three answers. 

One which will always remain a favourite as my sister, Margaret, read it to me when I was nine or ten and made me fall in love with romance. The Princess Bride by William Goldman.

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Beautiful, flaxen-haired Buttercup has fallen for Westley, the farm boy, and when he departs to make his fortune, she vows never to love another. So when she hears that his ship has been captured by the Dread Pirate Roberts – who never leaves survivors – her heart is broken. But her charms draw the attention of the relentless Prince Humperdinck who wants a wife and will go to any lengths to have Buttercup. So starts a fairytale like no other, of fencing, fighting, torture, poison, true love, hate, revenge, giants, hunters, bad men, good men, beautifulest ladies, snakes, spiders, beasts, chases, escapes, lies, truths, passion and miracles.

The second is When The Lion Feeds by Wilbur Smith. I sneaked it away from my dad and read it when I was fourteen and it opened my world. 

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Brothers by birth. Enemies by blood.

Natal, 1860; the Courtney twins are born. Heirs to their father’s fortune, destiny divides the boys from the start – Garrick is eager to stay indoors with a book and escape the hardships of cattle-rearing, while Sean, strong and much-loved, wants to try his hand at everything. When Garrick is forced to take ownership of their farm, Sean must explore the opportunities awaiting him: the rush and horrors of the Zulu Wars, the women who will fall for his charms, the rise and fall of gold fever and the deadly thrills of big game hunting on the African plains. But will Sean’s adventures really be his making – and at what ultimate cost . . . ?

The third is (today at least) is *drumroll* – no, no I just can’t choose…

So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?

Ah, I see you stumble a little, but what you never realized was that for each glass of wine I’ve had, I’ve accompanied it with a glass of water, so I’ve actually only had three all evening. I do love a glass of wine, but I don’t ever get drunk. I know the exact moment to stop. This comes from experience and the desperate desire never to be sick. That’s my true failsafe. I don’t get a hangover, but I would waste really good wine if I had too much and I’ve learnt never to do that.

After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

My perfect weekend is walking with my gorgeous dogs. It doesn’t matter what the weather is like, I’m as happy in the pouring rain as I am in the sunshine. If its autumn, I’ll pick blackberries. A deserted beach is beautiful, and woodlands inspire all sorts of dark storylines. 

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They are absolutely gorgeous! Diane, thank you so much for joining me for a chat this evening, it has been an absolute pleasure.

Diane’s brand new book, Copycat, is out now and you can buy a copy here. This is the second book in the DS Jenna Morgan series, which started with The Keeper.

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Is he still out there?

When a beautiful, red haired nurse’s body is found mutilated in her house in Lawley the morning after a date with Detective Constable Ryan Downey, all eyes turn to him.

With a very specific modus operandi, Detective Sergeant Jenna Morgan and her team know exactly who the offender is, the trouble is he’s currently serving a life stretch in HMP Long Lartin.

It soon becomes evident to DS Morgan and her team that there maybe a copycat killer is on the loose.

In a race against time, they need to track down the copycat and discover who is pulling whose strings?

Diane Saxon lives in the Shropshire countryside with her tall, dark, handsome husband. She has two gorgeous daughters, a Dalmatian, two cats, numerous rare breed chickens, and a black Labrador called Beau–a name borrowed by her hero in For Heaven’s Cakes.

After working for years in a demanding job, Diane gave it up when her husband said, “Follow that dream.” She subsequently has 12 Romances published for the U.S. market.

Inspired by her long, lonely walks in atmospheric woodlands, Diane has gone over to the dark side to write British psychological crime thrillers.

You can find out more about Diane via her website,  Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Next week I will be having Friday Night Drinks with author, Catherine Kullmann.

Distorted Days by Louise Worthington #BlogTour #GuestPost (@louiseworthing9) @RaRaResources #RachelsRandomResources #DistortedDays

Distorted Days

I’m happy to be taking part in the blog tour today for Distorted Days by Louise Worthington. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the opportunity to read and review this book for you, but instead I have a guest post from the author. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for my place on the tour and to the author for providing the guest post for me to share with you.

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If she could speak to them, she would say they have exploded her heart, released firecrackers through her senses. She wishes she could call the police, the ambulance, the fire brigade, to arrest and anaesthetise and waterboard the bastards.

So what happens when your husband runs off with your best friend? When you discover the dead body of an old man halfway through your delivery round? When your house is burgled and you get beaten up? Doris, Andy and Colleen are about to find out. They’re also about to discover that you can find friendship and support in the oddest of places…

Heart-rending, humorous and above all authentic, Distorted Days is an exquisitely written account of the ways in which life can knock you off our feet – and how you can pick yourself up again. If you’ve experienced the fickleness of fortune, this is a book that you’ll never forget.

Now over to the author..

Be Kind by Louise Worthington

Thank you for inviting me onto you blog!

Kindness and the consequences of vicious social media posts are a theme running through Distorted Days. On social media, thousands have used the hashtag #BeKind in a plea for change, encouraging both media organisations and individuals to think more carefully about the impact of their words online.

‘If you want people to #bekind it has to be universal. Two wrongs will never make a right. So start being kind about everyone, even those you disagree with, then I’ll believe you’re genuine.’ @KirstieMAllsopp

The kindness of Colleen, Tina and Andy change Doris’ life. Dr Timpson has a role to play too in offering support to deal with depression. Despite ups and downs, the ending is a positive one – thanks to acts of kindness.

At the same time though, in Distorted Days Andy loses his job due to the vicious posts the daughter of Winston shares which highlights how upsetting and destructive social media can be. Andy had in fact helped her father at a time of need.

 ‘Dad, I don’t know whether to show you this or not but – I think you need to see it.’

She reads the messages on Twitter and Facebook. The author is Katie Howarth, and the subject is: #AndyLoveisaPredator

Andy Love is named and shamed as solely interested in verbally attacking a single, grief-stricken woman and meeting her under false pretences. Katie Howarth must have got a look at his van, so Stan’s Supermarket is berated for employing the vicious, foul-mouthed man. The verbal abuse goes as far as saying that estate agents should vet people before allowing them into the homes of vulnerable relatives to stop people like Andy preying on the bereft and the fragile, especially women on their own. In capital letters: ANDY LOVE CANNOT BE TRUSTED. She has galvanised support in the shape of likes, followers and comments, including one from Stan which hints at Andy’s contract ending abruptly because of his customer-facing role.

‘There goes my job,’ he says with sad resignation, thinking of his customers who will either think badly of him or miss his friendship. Before Jade and Bosh leave, he explains the truth behind the allegations. They stay longer than planned, thinking they are staying to help him through the shock. 

Once they’ve gone, Andy sits back on the recliner feeling winded. The slandering of his name makes him feel like he’s been quarantined in his own home. He walks around the lounge and the kitchen, not quite sure what to do with himself but unable to settle. All those lies and all those people believing them, wanting to stick their beady eyes at a peep-hole into this woman’s nasty, made-up world that she’s dragged him into. The comments she and others made sound so angry, a feverish kind of frenzy of bad-mouthing, shaming him for being a bully, a predator. 

Andy eats half a carrot cake and then finds the shoe polish in the cupboard under the sink because he needs something to do with his hands. He methodically shines the black shoes he usually wears for best occasions like interviews or funerals. 

His mobile rings. It’s Stan. ‘Sorry, mate. I’ve had cancellations. It’s just, once word gets out it spreads like the plague.’

Stifling a carrot-cake burp, Andy says, ‘It’s all lies, Stan, but I understand your point of view.’

He feels sick for his customers, his friends – especially Margaret, Dave and Gilly. He knows details about their lives that some of their own family members don’t. 

Forgive Stan for thinking he just knows which brands they like, which special offers appeal. Forgive.’ 

Doris leaves objects in her front window to share her loss which is a twist on social media posts, illustrating how one rarely knows the full story behind closed doors. Andy’s daughter Jade reads a post from a stranger who informs her she has just had a miscarriage.

‘Amy’s had a miscarriage.’

‘Never met her.’

‘Nor have I. She’s uploaded a photo of a tiny coffin.’

‘God, streuth. She should write something like that in a diary.’

‘She’ll feel empowered now she’s shared it.’

‘With potentially millions of weirdos who don’t give a damn?’

‘I’m not a weirdo. I care.’

As a parent to an eight year old, protecting children from the virtual world has never been more important. It offers enjoyment and freedom, and threats too. I had a diary which I kept under my bed, but that’s old-school now – posts on twitter or Instagram have replaced that. Who knows what the future holds, but I do know the value of being kind is both timeless and universal. #bekind 

Louise XX

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us, Louise.

Distorted Days is out now and you can buy a copy here.

Make sure you follow the rest of the tour for reviews and more great content:

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About the Author

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Louise is the author of ‘Distorted Days’ and ‘Rachel’s Garden of Rooms.’ ‘The Entrepreneur’ will be available later in 2020. ‘The Thief’, a short story published by Park Publications, is available to download Louise Worthington’s website.

​Before writing full time, Louise worked mainly as an English teacher after getting a degree in Literature and later, studying business and psychology at Masters level.

​Louise grew up in Cheshire and now resides in Shropshire.

Connect with Louise:

Website: https://louiseworthington.co.uk

Twitter: @louiseworthing9

 

Friday Night Drinks with…. Lizzie Chantree @Lizzie_Chantree @crookedcatbooks @RNATweets #CreativeBizHour #FridayNightDrinks #IfYouLoveMeImYours

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Tonight, I am thrilled to be joined on the blog for Friday Night Drinks by fellow RNA member, author, entrepreneur, creative mentor and founder of #CreativeBizHour…. Lizzie Chantree.

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Lizzie, massive thanks for joining me for drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?

I’d love a Mojito! 

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Love a mojito, let’s have one (or two!) each. If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?

I’d take you to a lively bar for cocktails and next for a Mexican meal. Then back to the cocktail bar. I really enjoy listening to live music, but a meal is a social place to sit and chat. 

Good plan. If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?

I’d invite Ed Sheeran and Beyonce. I love hearing their new music and am fascinated by how they come up with their lyrics. They are both inspirational and I’d probably wear them out with questions about their craft.

Not had either of them before, so those are good choices. So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. What have you got going on? How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?

I published my first book at the age of forty and am now writing my 9th novel. I write contemporary romances about female entrepreneurs with some pretty zany businesses. They get up to all sorts of trouble and have lots of giggles along the way. My books are full of friendship, laugher and sizzling men! I ran my own business for over fifteen years until I began writing, then my new career took over. I now also work as a business mentor.

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What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?

Seeing all of my published books become international bestsellers and my most recent hitting the #1 spot twice has been amazing. I have had such support from the writing and book loving community, that I can’t thank them enough for their advice and for them picking up my books to read and telling their friends and family about them. 

My biggest challenge has been learning about marketing. Even the word used to scare me! Now I really enjoy chatting to readers and give seminars to help other writers move forward in their careers. I also run a networking hour on Twitter called #CreativeBizHour for creative businesses, to help spread the word about their work. We often have millions of views in one hour and #CreativeBizHour has been trending most weeks for over four years now. 

What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, its just us talking after all!

I’d love to see all of my books made into films! That would be a dream come true. 

What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

I’ve just finished a manuscript and it’s in first edits. I can’t wait for it to be ready. I have a new book out with an American publisher next year and I’m waiting to find out what their designers have come up with for the cover. It’s a really exciting time. I currently have both French and American publishers. 

I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?

I absolutely love being in France or Spain. I have written a lot of my books whilst on holiday there and find the scenery really inspiring. I’m happy anywhere with views and the sea or mountains. I enjoy spending time near the U.K. coastline too. We are lucky that we have such beautiful scenery here. Cornwall is one of my favourites.

Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

I was one of the Female Inventors of the Year as voted by Fair Play London and The Patent Office. I invented a ‘ladder’ or ‘run’ stop spray for hosiery. From this my first customers were two very big high street chains. It was a real experience and a lot of fun. I went on a lot of television shows including This Morning, Sky news and the ITV lunchtime news. 

Wow, exciting! Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?

Anything by Heidi Catherine. She’s a bestselling author of fantasy books and she has a new novel out soon that I can’t wait to read. 

I’ve not come across her before, I shall have to take a look. So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?

Tea and two slices of toast before bed! Not everyone’s idea of a good idea, but it works for me. Plus drinks lots of water. I’m an absolute lightweight with drink, so I’m giddy after two glasses of wine. It doesn’t stop me from dancing the night away though.

After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

A lie in and then brunch with family or friends would be the perfect weekend for me. Most of my good ideas for a day out include food! ☺

Mine too! Lizzie, thank you for joining me, it’s been great fun and I hope we get to do it for real at this year’s RNA Conference.

Lizzie’s latest book is If You Love Me, I’m Yours, and you can get a copy here.

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‘If you love me, I’m yours…’

Maud didn’t mind being boring, not really. She had a sensible job, clothes, and love life… if you counted an overbearing ex who had thanked her, rolled over and was snoring before she even realised he’d begun! She could tolerate not fulfilling her dreams, if her parents would pay her one compliment about the only thing she was passionate about in life: her art.

Dot should have fit in with her flamboyant and slightly eccentric family of talented artists, but somehow, she was an anomaly who couldn’t paint. She tried hard to be part of their world by becoming an art agent extraordinaire, but she dreamed of finding her own voice.

Dot’s brother Nate, a smoulderingly sexy and famous artist, was adored by everyone. His creative talent left them in awe of his ability to capture such passion on canvas. Women worshipped him, and even Dot’s friend Maud flushed and bumped into things when he walked into a room, but a tragic event in his past had left him emotionally and physically scarred, and reluctant to face the world again.

Someone was leaving exquisite little paintings on park benches, with a tag saying, ‘If you love me, I’m yours’. The art was so fresh and cutting-edge, that it generated a media frenzy and a scramble to discover where the mystery artist could be hiding. The revelation of who the prodigious artist was interlinked Maud, Dot and Nate’s lives forever, but their worlds came crashing down.

Were bonds of friendship, love and loyalty strong enough to withstand fame, success and scandal?

Award-winning inventor and author, Lizzie Chantree, started her own business at the age of 18 and became one of Fair Play London and The Patent Office’s British Female Inventors of the Year in 2000. She discovered her love of writing fiction when her children were little and now works as a business mentor and runs a popular networking hour on social media, where creatives can support to each other. She writes books full of friendship and laughter, that are about women with unusual and adventurous businesses, who are far stronger than they realise. She lives with her family on the coast in Essex.

You can find out more about Lizzie and her work on her website, Facebook,  TwitterInstagram and Pinterest.

Next week, I will be joined for Friday Night Drinks by author, Diane Saxon, so please do come back then.

The Sapphire Society by L. C. Sarll #GuestPost (@c_sarll) @matadorbooks #TheSapphireSociety

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A forgotten necklace… A far-off land… A fantasy she never imagined…

Savannah Wood doesn’t just think she’s an ordinary twelve-year-old, she knows she is. Eager to leave the bullies that have made her life unbearable, she jumps at the chance when her father suddenly announces they’re moving to the Faroe Islands for his new job. Savannah is ready to find new adventures – especially ones that can link her to her ancestry. Her grandmother was Faroese, and when in the move Savannah’s mother unearths a sapphire necklace that belonged to her, Savannah is drawn to it, little realising that this gem will change her life forever.

For there are dark secrets hiding beneath the waters surrounding her new home. Deep in the fjords exists the Hellson, an underwater volcano ruled over by Ragnar, a merciless Viking with a craving for power. With only a secret force called The Sapphire Society to stand in his way, Ragnar will stop at nothing to claim the islands and its inhabitants for his own. Told that her grandmother was an accomplished member, Savannah throws herself into the society, nurturing her own talents and making new friends. But when the Hellson threatens to erupt and Ragnar’s army strikes, Savannah must call on all her courage to stand up to her nightmares and face the threat head-on for the sake of the island – and the entire world.

When I was approached by Sophie Morgan at Troubador to see if I was interested in reviewing The Sapphire Society by L. C. Sarll, I was disappointed that I was unable to fit in a reading of this book at present, as the blurb really appealed to me. So I am delighted to bring you instead a guest post by the author, to whet your appetite and mine, for a future reading of the book.

Author Interview with L. C. Sarll

What inspired you to write this book?

The Sapphire Society was inspired by two lovely ladies; my daughter and my grandmother.

Why did you decide to set the book on the Faroe Islands?

The Faroe Islands are where my Grandmother was born. The magical stories she told me as a child are so inspirational; I felt duty bound to try and pass snippets on, albeit in my own way.

What did you learn when writing the book?

Perseverance.

What do you hope readers will take away from this story?

The world is a magical place; we need only see when we look.

What book from your childhood has shaped you most as a writer?

The Borrowers by Mary Norton. It changed the way I saw my own surroundings and appreciate the little things.

Are there any future books for you?

Yes! The Sapphire Society is the first of a four-book set sequence. ‘The Mother of the Sea’ will continue Savannah’s journey as she finds dark challenges ahead.

Thank you for answering my questions, I look forward to reading the book in the near future.

The Sapphire Society is out now and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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L C Sarll is  passionate about children’s literature. ‘The Sapphire Society’ is her debut middle grade fiction, to be released in February 2020. Visit the mysterious Faroe Islands for a dash of magic, friendship and a fight for the world.

Connect with L. C. Sarll:

Website: http://www.lcsarll.co.uk

Twitter: @c_sarll