Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Guest post by Jack Dowd

picture of author Jack Dowd
Jack Dowd
This week on the blog, I have a guest post by Jack Dowd to share with you. Jack's debut novel Empty Nights will be released in September.

Empty Nights
Henry Andrews, enduring his final year in Norcrest Academy, discovers that his childhood crush and fellow sixth form student Yasmin Rivers is pregnant. Henry agrees to help Yasmin hide her secret while also dealing with his parent’s divorce, revising for his A Level exams, suffering his own mental health issues and preparing for the void in his life that comes after sixth form. When tragedy strikes, nothing will be the same again.

Jack Dowd
I started writing as a hobby in 2005 while bored in the back row of a classroom. This hobby grew over the years and in 2013 I enrolled as a student on the Creative Writing Degree course at London South Bank University. During this time, my play Captured was performed at the Chelsea Theatre to positive reviews and I was the assistant producer on a radio play called The Minister’s Secret. In 2015 I created jackdowd’swritingblog, my official writing website and I graduated with a 2:1. Since leaving university I have found publication with an Indie publishing company called Mommashark press and my debut novel Empty Nights is due for release in September.

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Who Gives a Crap?

As loyal readers will know (bless you, both of you), I'm trying to reduce my "footprint" on the world. I will no longer buy any clothes with non-biodegradable fibres in them, I've recycled most of my clothes that contained non-biodegradable fibres and I'm trying as hard as I can to reduce how much plastic I buy (including the microplastic in tea-bags... glad to say, 8 months on, I'm still using loose tea and composting all the used leaves).

I'd heard about Who Gives A Crap toilet paper in a number of places and have decided to give it a go. Their toilet paper is made from 100% recycled paper. They also have a 'luxury' brand that's made from bamboo, but for me, there are still some issues with bamboo processing - the plant itself needs little water or fertiliser and is pretty sound, ecologically, but processing it to make fibres is less so.

Their toilet paper comes wrapped in paper and then boxed, with free delivery to your door. The boxes are hilarious. In huge letters on the side were: "You've got a lovely bum" and "Wiping Away Poverty". I'm not quite sure what the delivery woman thought of it all!



Sunday, 19 August 2018

Interview with Sandra Ireland #LoveBooksTour #BoneDeep

I'm delighted to welcome Sandra Ireland, author of  Beneath the Skin and Bone Deep to the blog today. I first interviewed Sandra last year (you can read my interview with her here) and am grateful to her for taking the time to answer more questions from me. I reviewed Bone Deep, her second novel here.

Your new book, Bone Deep has just been released. Tell me a little about it?
Bone Deep poses the question, what happens when you fall in love with the wrong person? The consequences threaten to be far-reaching and potentially deadly. Bone Deep is a contemporary novel of sibling rivalry, love, betrayal and murder. This is the story of two women: Mac, who is bent on keeping the secrets of the past from her only son, and the enigmatic Lucie, whose past is something of a closed book. Their story is underpinned by the creaking presence of an abandoned water mill, and haunted by the local legend of two long-dead sisters, themselves rivals in love, and ready to point an accusing finger from the pages of history.

What inspired you to write it?
I worked at Barry Mill, Angus, for several years. It’s a National Trust for Scotland property, one of the last working watermills in Scotland. I grew to love the whole process of milling, and the landscape around the mill. I always had some quirky folktales up my sleeve to entertain visitors. I found myself drawn to the mill as a setting for a novel, and the ancient Border Ballad of The Cruel Sister seemed to fit. In the ballad, the jealous older sister shoves the younger one into the mill pond. As I’m not a historical novelist, I wanted to make this a very modern story. It looks at contemporary relationships, but the past is never far away. I was very fortunate to receive support from Creative Scotland who saw the potential of the project.

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Review of Bone Deep by Sandra Ireland #LoveBooksTour @22_Ireland @PolygonBooks


In today's post, I'm delighted to share my review of Bone Deep by Sandra Ireland with you.

My thanks to Polygon for giving me an advance copy of the book. My views are my own and in no way influenced by the gift of the copy.


Bone Deep

What happens when you fall in love with the wrong person? The consequences threaten to be far-reaching and potentially deadly. Bone Deep is a contemporary novel of sibling rivalry, love, betrayal and murder. This is the story of two women: Mac, who is bent on keeping the secrets of the past from her only son, and the enigmatic Lucie, whose past is something of a closed book. Their story is underpinned by the creaking presence of an abandoned water mill, and haunted by the local legend of two long-dead sisters, themselves rivals in love, and ready to point an accusing finger from the pages of history.

Extract:

Mac 
I put down my pen and sag against the back of the chair. I’ve been sitting here since 6 a.m., and now that the words are finally flowing I can’t let them go. Things have been a bit stuck of late, ideas bobbing around like fish, and me grown too slow to catch them. But this morning things feel different, as though Lucie’s arrival has brought a gust of fresh air, stirring up the leaves of my imagination.

I’d asked her about her family a couple of times, but her replies have been rather muted. I gather she has a sister, but there’d been no warmth to her description. I’d nodded knowingly at the time. Sibling rivalry. You get that with sisters. Best not to dwell on it. It had reminded me of something though, this sister thing. What was it now?

That evening I’d gone through all the dusty old volumes on my bookshelves, not quite sure what I was looking for. I stretch my arms out in front of me, flex my fingers and rotate my neck. Something cracks, and my insides shrink accordingly. I’m getting paranoid, waiting for the next little blip, holding my health up to the light like a badly stitched seam. I’m getting frayed.

Somewhere in the house, a key grates in a lock. The front door opens, and a ghastly echo carries along the passages. The hall always has that empty-house ring to it, regardless of how many bits and bobs I pad it out with. The sound of footsteps carries towards me. That will be Arthur. My heart sinks and immediately I go into guilty mode. I am a bad mother. A can’t-be-bothered mother. My eyes drop automatically, going to the photograph on the desk. My own mother, wartime drab but happy in a floral tea dress she’d knocked up from remnants. We have bad mother genes, I suspect. There is a coldness in us. I remember Mother feeding a poorly dog tinned salmon while we kids scoffed bread and dripping. The thing is, I fear I’m heading for the ultimate fail. The leaving-your-child fail.


Review:

It takes a good book to have me unable to do anything else for the entire day because I just can't stop reading, but that's exactly what happened with me with this book! I started it one Sunday morning, intending to read for an hour or so as it was a sunny day and I could sit out and relax with a book - a rare event for me. From the opening chapter, I was hooked and just wanting to know more about these characters and I finished the book the same afternoon!

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Guest post: book planning using PowerPoint

I'm delighted to share a guest post with you today by Angela Nurse. She said that she was planning her new book on PowerPoint and I was intrigued... Scrivener, index cards, pen and paper, Excel... all these I had heard of being used in planning, and most of them I'd tried, but PowerPoint?

Happily, Angela said she would share her thinking with me, and all of you. Over to you, Angela! (btw... I love the idea of a 'murder board' and can't see why it wouldn't be appropriate in a living room...)
[click on any picture to enlarge]