Book spotlight: That Old Black Magic by Caroline Fardig

Today I’m featuring some info on Caroline Fardig’s new novel: That Old Black Magic. Looking forward to reading this one! 🙂

That Old Black Magic 

That old black magicLizzie Hart is back—snooping, lying, and chick-fighting to uncover the truth, hoping not to break any hearts along the way…especially her own.

 That Old Black Magic…will it put Lizzie under its spell?

 Lizzie Hart hoped her first day back at work after nearly being killed would be uneventful. No such luck. Before she can finish her morning coffee, Lizzie and her co-workers find a dead body on the rooftop of their office. Media vultures that they are, the Liberty Chronicle employees are psyched to have first-hand news to report. Lizzie, however, is devastated when she realizes that the victim is her ex-boyfriend’s brother.

When evidence begins piling up against one of Lizzie’s friends, she reluctantly dons her detective hat once again, determined to find the real killer. She’s not thrilled about chasing another psychopath around, but she’ll do anything for a friend. Lizzie’s love life is rapidly becoming a hot mess, too. Her latest attempt at sleuthing isn’t leaving much time for her budding romance with town hunk Blake Morgan. Add that to the fact she’s hiding a secret so big it could rock the very core of their relationship, it’s no wonder that Lizzie’s in a tizzy.

Poor Lizzie ends up juggling a murder investigation, a wacky Wiccan coven, and two men vying for her attention—all while nursing injuries left over from the last time she decided to play Nancy Drew. It’s a good thing she always has a few tricks up her sleeve.

Buy from Amazon UK >

New book spotlight: And The Earth Moved

Today I’m featuring some info on Zanna MacKenzie’s new novel: And The Earth Moved – Amber Reed CCIA Mystery Book One, having read two of Zanna’s other books I can’t wait to read this one! 🙂

“Romantic comedy meets celebrity murder mystery”

and-the-earth-movedAmber’s making up the horoscopes for the local paper and wishing for some excitement in her life when she gets a phone call offering her just that. It could change her life forever and plunge her into a world where she’s quickly (and scarily) out of her depth.

The call? Heartthrob actor Ennis McKarthy, her old uni boyfriend, begs her for a favour. His brother Joel has been found dead – in very suspicious circumstances.

Desperate to keep the story out of the newspapers and solve the mystery of his brother’s death as fast as possible, Ennis has called in the specialists in the shape of the CCIA. The Celebrity Crimes Investigation Agency has just the man for the job – their top agent Charlie Huxton.

But Ennis, stalked by journalists and paparazzi, doesn’t trust a stranger to handle the case on his own and keep quiet about what he might discover so he pleads with Amber, wanting her to shadow Charlie throughout the investigation.

Much to Amber’s surprise Charlie eventually agrees, leaving her wondering why. What’s he up to?

Charlie and Amber delve into Joel’s death and soon have their hands full with questioning potential suspects and the victim’s irate ex-girlfriend. Then they discover they’re battling something far more dangerous than they could ever have expected… and it’s not just their growing attraction for each other.

Maybe Amber’s life is about to get too exciting…

Find the book on Amazon UK

Find the book on Amazon USA

Extract:

“What kind of excitement are Gemini’s going to have this week?” I ponder, tapping my fingers against the keyboard.

I’m a third of the way through making up the horoscopes for this week’s local paper. Aries are going to get news of a fantastic job opportunity. Capricorns will receive some kind of windfall. But what about Gemini? I always like to give my Madam Zamber horoscope column an upbeat feel – after all, nobody reads their star signs to get depressed right?

My fingers hover over the computer keys as I debate on Gemini’s fate. I’m a Gemini so this one better be especially good; it’s been a rough week.

My phone, nestled somewhere in the depths of my bag, starts playing a chart tune at full volume. When I eventually find it I check the caller display and see Ennis’ name.

Ennis and I haven’t spoken for a while but I know he came home last week after he’d finished working on his latest movie, he sent me a text. He probably wants to meet for a coffee and a catch up. It’s strange; to me Ennis is, well, just Ennis. I don’t think of him as a heartthrob actor, just my ex, my university boyfriend, who I meet up with for a chat whenever he’s in Palstone.

Time for a little break from the horoscopes. I hit the answer button.

“Hi, how’s things?” I ask, leaning back in my chair.

There’s nothing but silence on the other end of the line.

“Ennis?” I sit up, instantly concerned. “Are you there? Is something wrong?”

His voice is so quiet I can barely hear him. “Joel’s dead,” he says.

“What?” I shout, leaping to my feet and earning myself a look of curiosity from the other two members of staff at The Palstone Courier. I lower my voice. “How? What happened?”

“We don’t know yet,” he replies, his voice heavy with emotion. “But the police are saying he died in suspicious circumstances.”

I gulp. “You mean murder?”

“Look, Amber can you please come over?” Ennis says. “Now? Please? I need to ask you a huge favour.”

I grab my jacket and bag. “On my way.”

Find out more about Zanna at:

www.zannamackenzie.blogspot.co.uk

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3 Reasons why you should write book reviews

If you read a lot of books (or even if just a few a year), chances are you have an opinion about what you’ve read. Here are some reasons why you should take the time to write a review whenever you finish a novel (especially one that you enjoyed!)

  1. Spread the word about your favourite reads. If you’ve really enjoyed a book, spread the word about how great it was with the wider reading community so more people can enjoy it too.
  2. Help your favourite authors to sell more books. The more positive reviews an author receives, the more people are going to consider that same book. The better the author does, the more great books they’ll produce for you to read in future …
  3. Make an author’s day. Writing can be a lonely life. Many hours are spent tapping away at a keyboard. I guarantee, a positive review will make that author happy; receiving good feedback makes you feel that what you’re doing is worth the effort. Who wouldn’t want to make someone else smile?

Don’t know how to review? A few sentences will do; you don’t need to go into details about the story or produce an essay. Just write about what you enjoyed about the book and why you liked it.

It only takes 5 minutes …

Ready? If you’ve enjoyed my books, feel free to make my day and leave a review on Amazon, GoodReads, or anywhere else you feel inclined 🙂

Guest post from author Nancy Jardine

Today fellow Crooked Cat author Nancy Jardine is taking over my blog for a guest post:

How comfy is your genre butt-cushion?

Some authors find themselves a neat little genre niche, they pop into it and continue to write there, happy as a burrowing bunny. Other authors don’t settle into place so easily. If they’re like me, they’re trying out caves, tents and corners of old houses seeking the perfect place to spend the next writing phase as they produce work in different writing styles and across sub-genres. This isn’t necessarily due to a scattershot mind- it’s more of finding butt-comfort in many different locations and writing as the heart dictates.

Does the idea of different butt-cushions appeal to you?new crannog pic

What’s absolutely spectacular about butt-comfort writing is finding a publisher – like Crooked Cat Publishing – who accepts those different writing styles because they choose to publish quality work across diverse genres. The Crooked Cat Publishing cradle of authors has produced an amazing variety of work in a very short time. I’m delighted to be one of them, and reading a newly published Crooked Cat novel is a treat I look forward to when I can snatch some precious reading time.

However, appreciating the variety that’s produced by Crooked Cat doesn’t mean I want to try to write in every one of those diverse writing styles. I don’t see myself as forming a dystopian cushion dent, a political thriller one, or a pure fantasy one just yet – though who knows?

How many genre styles would you be prepared to write in?

To date, my personal butt-dents are in squashy moss-filled cushions in Celtic roundhouses, Ancient Roman tents and Roman Fortresses- in my Celtic Fervour Series of Historical Romantic Adventures (Crooked Cat). For Topaz Eyes – a mystery thriller (Crooked Cat), I needed to sit on a deep-filled cushion. The hidden jewellery cache contained in it prodded and poked me very regularly till I got the details of the complex family tree structure, and the murderous and grasping family members, smoothly into place.

Two of my contemporary novels are in between first and second publishers just now. One is a contemporary mystery set in an old Yorkshire manor house: an antique tapestry cushion was perfect for this ancestral based mystery. The second is a contemporary mystery thriller with humorous romantic elements. This needed a large and squashy cushion with a humorous ‘highland-hero image’ adorning it- this writing being a real mix of romantic sub-genres.

Where’s my current comfort to be found?

A cushion I’ve completely butt-flattened recently has been filled with a curious mixture of bracken and polystyrene chips. This time-travel for early teens zips from present day back to third century AD Scotland. Picking out the jagged bits of bracken from my butt is almost complete, though it has been a painfully slow process.

I’ve a new filling for Book Four of my Celtic Fervour Series of historical romantic adventures (Crooked Cat Publishing) – my current WIP. It’s now got heathers as well as mosses and brackens since my Garrigill warriors are heading even further north in my far northern Britannia of AD 84. I might have to top it up a few times as I conduct more research, to ensure I give my readers an authentic backdrop. I want them to be able to really live the lives of my characters during this ancient era. I don’t fancy adding any stones to the filling but the ancient brochs of northern Scotland are very interesting structures and are begging to be included!

In the corner of my writing area, there’s a trio of tartan covered cushions dating from 1850. A complex family tree adorns them: the ancestral details of my family saga. This tree is easier to read than the one in Topaz Eyes (Crooked Cat) since the names are mostly Scottish and not German and Dutch, but the structure of the plot is also a complex challenge. The first cushion for book 1 isn’t dusty at all because as soon as I sit on it and ponder, my resident 24/7 grandchildren find me another occupation. It’s a nice springy cushion, though, and accommodates me every now and then.

What about you? Got a nice place to sit?

12Feb2014Find Nancy Jardine at:

Blog: http://nancyjardine.blogspot.com

Website: http://nancyjardineauthor.weebly.com

Facebook: http://on.fb.me/1hLgWT7

Twitter: @nansjar

Also found as Nancy Jardine on Pinterest, Goodreads, Google+, LinkedIn …and many more places.

 

Nancy’s Crooked Cat Bookstore Page: 
http://www.crookedcatbooks.com/index.php?route=product%2Fmanufacturer%2Fproduct&manufacturer_id=24

 

Amazon US author page http://amzn.to/RJZzZz

Amazon UK author page http://amzn.to/1ehiqSt

*Celtic Fervour Series – 3 full length reads for less than £5 from Amazon UK.*

 

Guest post from author Jane Bwye

Today I welcome fellow Crooked Cat author Jane Bwye to my blog for a guest post. Over to you, Jane:

janeThe art of writing is like any other art. If the muse hits, the words flow steadily onto the page and foolish is the person who ignores the impulse; for the time can flee, never to be recalled…

…Or that’s the mystic’s view, and aren’t we all mystics at one point or another in our lives? I defy anyone to deny they have experienced the feeling.

But who hasn’t ignored it at the dead of a wintry night, when a soft pillow and a warm duvet cocoons them in easeful luxury – at their peril? It is a transient gift, capricious. But I have learned in the past year that it can be cultivated like any other.

A musician requires hours and hours of practice and aching fingers; painting needs an abundance of time, contemplation, experimentation and a mountain of material to discard; a singer has to practice long hours to strengthen the voice, open the throat, raise the diaphragm and produce the impeccably tuned note at a given time; the dancer suffers agonies from broken toes and bunions in order to pirouette with effortless ease and create an airy impression of faerie lightness.

At the beginning of this year, when I realised I was, amazingly, a REAL author, I resolved to act like one and practice my craft in public. My blog is regularly updated twice a week. Yes, I know that every Tuesday I host a different author – but we have to interact also – network with each other to advance our skills and keep in practice. On Fridays it has become less and less of a burden as the weeks progress, to dig out old diaries and pictures and tell of my travels round the world.

Comparatively speaking, only a tiny insignificant fraction of the world actually views my blog. But, amazingly, that matters less to me than obeying the urge to be productive, whether or not I am feeling like it at the time. One reader is always better than none.

That also goes for times when I respond to invitations to be a guest on other blogs. Like now. This piece has disturbed my peace for many weeks, grating on my conscience and causing despair and procrastination. Now, at the eleventh hour before dawn on a Sunday morning I suddenly pick up my pen and it writes for me. In a flash, 400 words appear of their own accord.

Take them as you will.

Visit Jane’s blog to read more about her and her books >

Guest post from author Miriam Drori: Arranged Marriage

Today fellow Crooked Cat author Miriam Drori is a guest on my blog. Her new novel Neither Here Nor There is out now.

Arranged Marriage

Miriam DroriIn modern western society, we tend to have a very romantic view of love and marriage. You meet a partner, you fall in love, you decide that this person is the only one in the world for you, you get married and you live happily ever after.

How often does that happen in real life? Not very often, it seems, if we look at the divorce statistics. I found some other interesting statistics:

55% of marriages worldwide are arranged.
90% of marriages in India are arranged.

So what’s so bad about arranged marriage? Why do we turn up our western noses at the very idea of such a practice? Do young people really know who will be suitable for them better than their parents or the matchmaker?

Before I go on, I should mention two disclaimers. Firstly, I’m not talking about forced marriage. Forced marriage, in my view, is wrong and should be condemned. Secondly, my husband and I met by chance and have been happily married for 36 years.

Amongst the haredi community (they’re the Jews whose menfolk wear black hats and black suits with tassels hanging down while the women always have their arms and legs covered) marriages are arranged, usually by a matchmaker. Couples are introduced, meet two or three times and then have to make a decision. How can they decide so quickly? I don’t know. But it seems this procedure generally works well.

In the musical Fiddler on the Roof, based on Sholem Aleichem’s story Tevye the Milkman, Tevya and Golda meet for the first time on their wedding day and gradually fall in love. In the song Do you love me? Tevye asks Golda if she loves him. At first she thinks he’s crazy, but then she realises that over the years she has come to love him. Far-fetched? I don’t think so.

Neither Here Nor ThereIn my novel Neither Here Nor There, heroine Esty has been brought up in just such a community and is expected to marry one of the men introduced to her by a matchmaker. Esty has other plans.

Bio

Miriam Drori was born and brought up in London, and now lives in Jerusalem where she single-handedly demonstrates female superiority against three males, now that her daughter has left home.

Following careers as a computer programmer and a technical writer, Miriam has been writing creatively for the past ten years and has had short stories published online and in anthologies. Neither Here Nor There is her first published novel.

Miriam began writing in order to raise awareness of social anxiety. Since then the scope of her writing has widened, but she hasn’t lost sight of her original goal.

Find out more

Visit Miriam’s website >

Neither Here Nor There is available from:

Crooked Cat Books >

Amazon UK >

Amazon.com >

Extract from Igboland by Jeff Gardiner

Igboland coverIGBOLAND is a novel of passion and conflict set in Nigeria during the late 1960s Biafran War. Lydia is a young English woman, married to Clem. Their first real home together is in the West African bushland, where Clem will be doing missionary work in the Igbo village of Ngkaluku. Their marriage is under pressure as Lydia begins to wonder why she has travelled so far away from home. Here is an extract from the opening chapter of IGBOLAND:

An intense migraine slowly took control of my entire being and I couldn’t be bothered to find the aspirins. I drifted in and out of consciousness only vaguely aware of the voices on the radio until Clem abruptly prodded my shoulder.

‘Lydia, you need to hear this.’ He turned up the radio.

 ‘…the Nigerian Federal Government has declared that the country is officially in a state of civil war. Major hostilities continue in the border regions, as the federal troops continue to advance southwards. Clashes have occurred in towns such as Kano, Kaduna, Oturkpo and Enugu between Northern Muslims and the Igbos in the Southeast. Southern rebels are seeking to gain independence from the Nigerian federal government with the aim of creating their own republic of Biafra. Yakubu Gowon, the head of state declared that Nigeria would stay united, whilst the Igbo military leader, Colonel Ojukwu, has promised to ‘Fight fire with fire’…’

That night I kept restlessly waking at every sudden noise of train on track. Each sound conjured vivid and irrationally frightening images in my mind as I lay there paralysed and half strangled by the twisted, damp sheets pinning me down. Once my eyes got used to the dark I could see various creatures scuttling across the ceiling. One large hissing lizard stayed close to where the mosquito net connected to the ceiling and I prayed that it wouldn’t find a hole to creep through and end up on my face or my pillow. The thought stopped me sleeping for many hours.

Eventually I drifted off but then was rudely woken up by a hand pinching my bosom and Clem snuggling up behind me, naked and clearly aroused. I turned with a heavy sigh, met by his stale breath. I was going to give an excuse but instead I just lay there inertly, waiting for him to speak, but as usual he said nothing; just groped me imploringly. I didn’t respond which I knew would annoy him. Then I gave another sigh to imply my fatigue. He released me, jerked back impatiently and turned his back to me in a huff. I slipped out of the bunk and self-consciously dressed as quickly as I could.

Idoma villageThen I sat in the chair next to the bed from sheer exhaustion of moving in the morning heat. In the corner of my eye I caught a quick movement and turned my head to see a lizard scamper up the wall – perhaps the same one that kept me awake last night. In the light of day it seemed smaller and quite friendly with its strikingly blue body and its bright red head and tail. It suddenly twisted its head round with a flick, hissed loudly and I heard a crunching sound as its head moved up and down. Clearly visible, sticking out of its mouth was a pair of wings and the dangling legs of some kind of flying insect.

‘Ah, he’s an agama lizard,’ Clem announced, suddenly sitting up in my bed.

‘How do you know it’s a he?’ I asked with a slight irritation.

‘Because the females are plain and less colourful,’ he said. ‘Often the way in nature, my dear.’

‘God moving in mysterious ways, I suppose?’ I ventured, looking away.

‘Sorry?’ Clem asked, as he stretched unselfconsciously. I didn’t reply as his mind was clearly elsewhere.

For more information and to purchase IGBOLAND:Igboland

Jeff’s Website >

Jeff’s Blog >

Amazon UK >

Amazon US >

 

 

A random update including something about my third book…

It seems about time I wrote a blog about my writing (regular blog visitors will have noticed I’ve become a bit of a wannabe food critic!).

I’ve had a lot of questions from readers on Twitter about what’s taking so long and the truth of it is; I struggled a bit with the story I started writing after I finished Izzy’s Cold Feet and about half way through, I started all over again with a different plot. So this one has taken quite a bit longer to write but I’m back on track (I hope!) and it’s nearly done… hopefully it’ll be published later this year – watch this space!

In the meantime, I don’t have title yet, but the main character is called Jenny, and if you thought Izzy’s life was in a mess, just you wait until you meet her! 🙂

So… when I haven’t been eating out or writing, what have I been reading lately?

I’ve just recently finished The Accidental Life of Jessie Jefferson by Paige Toon, a YA book although it was written with the same skill and talent as Paige’s usual adult chick-lit, and I loved it – it was fast paced and engaging. Visit my ‘Books I Love‘ page to check out a list there for some more recommendations.

Right, well back to work – Jenny’s story is waiting to be told!