Sunday, 13 October 2019

Reading and Writing Intertwined

“Readers make writers and writers make readers”
Carl McKever

Good afternoon my fellow Bookaholics. I've been thinking a lot about reading lately and also trying to broaden the scope of my reading material. As you know, I am a writer as well as a reader. However, writing and reading are not mutually exclusive. As the quote above so beautifully says, in order to be a writer you need to be a reader first. As a crime writer, I read a lot of crime books and I mean 'a lot' of crime books. This is my preferred go to reading material but I am making a conscious choice to expand this. Here are my choices.

At the moment I am reading the Cemetery of Forgotten Books series by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I am on the second book, The Angel's Game, which is beautifully written and the sheer beauty of the language pulls the reader into the story and make him, or her, marvel at the way the sentences are constructed. I loved the first book but believe this second one is even better. I can highly recommend them and I am looking forward to reading the next two in the series, which are already in my TBR pile. 

I started A Nearly Infallible History of Christianity by Nick Page, previously but due to a prolonged trip abroad, left it behind. It is a rather large tome and I was conscious of weight limits on planes. Don't let the title or the size of the book put you off. This is one of the funniest books I have read. How can you resist a book with the subtitle - Being a history of 2000 years of Saints, sinners, idiots and divinely-inspired troublemakers. Nick, a Christian himself, gets to the root of things and makes the discussion easily accessible to the average man, or woman, in the street. Christians and non-Christians alike would enjoy this book. It's a perfect example of how to write about a subject in an enjoyable way.

I am also expanding my reading of writing books. One of the best I have read is, Save the Cat Writes a Novel. It gets to the very heart of what a writer should know about story structure, again in an accessible way. It essentially demystifies novel plotting. I strongly believe no writer should be without this book on their bookshelf. It should be well thumbed with tabs highlighting the relevant areas. Needless to say, the image is not of my copy. 

Whilst I haven't read this one yet, I am very much looking forward to reading it, especially with Halloween around the corner. Rosemary Gemmed is an outstanding writer and I am sure this will be an atmospheric read. 

When Cate Stewart's life falls apart, a job cataloguing the vast library at Highcrag on the Scottish east coast sounds perfect. Especially since she has a personal interest in researching the notorious Scottish witch hunts of the sixteenth and seventeenth century. But the house has a dark past that seems to affect the present. And an owner, Lyall Kinnaird, who unexpectedly stirs Cate's damaged heart. As the Celtic festival of Samhain approaches, when the veil between the living and dead is thinnest, who can Cate trust?

I love these books and was excited to discuss them with you. Now it's over to you. I want to widen my reading choices, so let me know what you would recommend in the comments. 

Have a great week and whatever else you do, remember to keep on reading and, of course, writing. 

Thursday, 5 September 2019

Constructing a Platform that Works

One for the writers amongst us today. This is a fabulous opportunity to get free advice from an industry expert on how to develop and expand your author platform. 

For the last few months I have been following Amy Collins and listening to her advice to authors. I have been impressed by her focus on giving authors the actual tools that they need to market and sell their books. With so many options out there, have you ever wondered what works and what doesn’t? Do you know what best-selling authors are they doing to get their books on the bestseller lists? What is their secret? 

The answer is, in one simple little word: PLATFORM.
On Sept 10, I am hosting Amy on a free webinar class where she will show you step-by-step how to successfully construct a platform that works for you. During the session, Amy will teach on the following topics:

•          Establishing platform-building habits that only take a few minutes a day
•          Setting up your author's press and interviews
•          Getting reviews
•          Taking advantage of social media
•          Putting your fellow authors and readers to work for you

In essence, platform is the relationship you build with your readers over a lifetime. And platform is what separates truly successful authors from merely talented ones. Join Amy and I on Tuesday to get a road map on how to get that platform and the sales that result.

To register for the online web class or to get the invitation to the replay that will be hosted after, Go To:

Amy Collins

Amy Collins is the founder of Bestseller Builders and president of New Shelves Books. Collins is a trusted expert, speaker,and recommended sales consultant for some of the largest book and library retailers and wholesalers in the publishing industry.She is a USA TODAY and WALL STREET JOURNAL bestselling author and in the last 20 years, Amy and her team have sold over 40 Million books into the bookstore, library, and Chain store market for small and midsized publishers.She is a columnist for and a board member of several publishing organizations and a trusted teacher in the world of independent publishers.

Skype: NewShelvesBooks

Wendy H. Jones

Wendy H. Jones is the best selling author of the award winning DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries, Cass Claymore Investigates, the Fergus and Flora Mysteries and Bertie the Buffalo children's picture book. She has also published two successful books for authors, Power Packed Book Marketing and Motivation Matters. As an international speaker, she regularly speaks about writing and marketing. 

Sunday, 19 May 2019

The White Feather Killer by R.N. Morris

Good morning Bookaholics. Today, I bring you a review of a superb historical crime book. 

This is my first foray into reading R. N. Morris but I can assure you it won’t be my last. Although this is the fifth in the Silas Quinn Mystery series, it works beautifully as a stand alone book. In this book, Quinn finds himself in a somewhat awkward situation as the Special Crimes unit, which he headed up, has been closed down. This leaves him with no team and at the beck and call of a rather unpleasant colleague. This being World War 1, all those not joining up are handed white feathers, the universal sign for cowardice. When a young woman is murdered, with a white feather found in her mouth, the police are quick to arrest someone. However, Quinn feels the white feather is significant and continues the investigation. 

Morris is an outstanding writer and this character driven narrative is superb. Quinn is a well rounded character with a burning desire to see justice done, often to his own detriment. The plot is gripping. Just when you think everything is worked out another corner is turned and off it goes again. I truly loved this book and I am off to buy another in the series. If you like authentic, character driven, historical suspense, I would say this book is a must buy.

I was given a copy of this book from Severn House Publishers via Netgalley. I was not at any time asked to write a positive review. My review is based on my reading, and enjoyment, of the book. 

Monday, 6 May 2019

The Migrant by Paul Alkazraji

Good morning Bookaholics. I hope you are in fine fettle and ready for another great week of reading. Have I got a treat in store for you. I am honoured to be kicking of the Blog Tour for Paul Alkazraji. Having read Paul's first book, I was looking forward to this one and he did not disappoint.

The Migrant is a cracking thriller, not the edge of your seat type but, one which uses pace to extremely good effect to heighten the tension and draw out the action. The very nature of this made me want to keep reading way past a sensible bedtime. It kept me from my own writing so that I could read it, and as regular readers of this blog know, that is not easily done. The main character, Jude, the pastor of a church in Albania, did not expect to be involved in a cat and mouse chase with various nefarious parties - as it says in the blurb - Fascist populists, callous sex-traffickers and murderous mafia gangs. Not your average day for a pastor. In fact, not your average day for most people. There are also political issues sprinkled throughout the book but this is done with a light touch so that it enhances rather than detracts from the story.

The characters are well rounded and believable. There are minor touches thrown in that give you a real sense of who they are. Jude and his wife resonated with me as they are people who care about others and put this above their own safety or needs. I liked Jude immensely and was rooting for him  for every step of his tense journey to rescue nineteen-year-old Alban. By the way, I love the fact the name is the first part of Albania. It appealed to me. 

The action moves between Albania and Greece. Alkarjazi is a master of description, using just enough that one gets a real sense of place. I've never been to Albania but could picture it perfectly and want to go there now. Without the gangsters, fascist populists, callous sex-traffickers or mafia gangs of course. I have been to Greece and Alkarjazi has this spot on. 

This is a Christian novel and the Christianity is important to the book. However, it does not overwhelm and this is a book which can be read by anyone. This is a good thing as I will certainly be recommending it to all my friends. And especially to you my bookaholic friends. This is a book you should buy and read now. You will not regret it. You can even click below, download and be reading before you know it.


Bye for now and I'll be back soon with another fantastic bookaholic post. Remember, keep on reading.

Paul Alkazraji

Paul is the author of 'The Migrant', a thriller set against the background of the European Migrant Crisis, and published by Instant Apostle on 15 February 2019. Paul worked as a freelance journalist in the UK from the mid-nineties. His was published in Christianity Magazine, The Christian Herald, The Church Times and The Baptist Times among other publications, and his travel articles were also published in The Independent.

Paul’s first book Love Changes Everything, a collection of seven testimonies, was published by Scripture Union in 2001, and his second, Heart of a Hooligan, a biography of ex-football hooligan Dave Jeal, was published by Highland Books in 2000. His third book Christ and the Kalashnikov, a biography of missionaries Ian and Caralee Loring, was published by Harper Collins in 2001. The Silencer, a thriller set in Albania, Greece and Turkey, was published by Highland Books in 2012.

Paul has lived and worked with the church in Albania for fifteen years. He likes listening to music, being by the Aegean Sea or Ohrid Lake, and skiing – when the snow comes!

Sunday, 13 January 2019

Eye Can Write by Jonathan Bryan

As a writer I am a member of a number of organisations, one of which is the Association of Christian Writers. One of our members is the inspiring Jonathan Bryan, a remarkable young man. The blurb from the back go his book gives a flavour of his story and why he felt inspired to write the book.

Eye Can Write by Jonathan Bryan

Can you imagine not being able to speak or communicate? The silence, the loneliness, the pain. But, inside you disappear to magical places, and even meet your best friend there. However, most of the time you remain imprisoned within the isolation. Waiting, longing, hoping. Until someone realises your potential and discovers your key, so your unlocking can begin. Now you are free, flying like a wild bird in the open sky. A voice for the voiceless.

Jonathan Bryan has severe cerebral palsy, a condition that makes him incapable of voluntary movement or speech. He was locked inside his own mind, aware of the outside world but unable to fully communicate with it until he found a way by using his eyes to laboriously choose individual letters, and through this make his thoughts known.

In Eye can Write, we read of his intense passion for life, his mischievous sense of fun, his hopes, his fears and what it's like to be him. This is a powerful book from an incredible young writer whose writing ability defies age or physical disability - a truly inspirational figure.

Was I was a nurse in. previous life, I also wanted to pick up on some of the issues surrounding his disability, and as. a Christian unpick his faith. 

How do you answer people who say: Why do you think God gave you this condition?

Late last year I was asked this specific question, and I found the premise behind it deeply flawed and offensive. Why do people think God gives out illness? The image it paints is of a God who is dispassionate about the people he has created and who dollops illness out, as a scientists might experiment on mice. But, this is not my understanding or experience of God; God is good and illness was never part of His plan.

My experience is that illness is also not a barrier to God’s plans for people, for He can transform every situation for good.

Today is the 9th anniversary of your transplant. What would you say to someone unsure of signing the donor register?
“Please reconsider”. For two years I was on the transplant list spending a morning three times a week on dialysis; it was a miserable half existence. My early memories are of debilitating sickness, hospital stays and feeling unwell. When I got my transplant, all that changed overnight. Transplants don’t just change lives, they give life.

To the family who gave my kidney I am eternally grateful.

Thank you, Jonathan, it has been a pleasure hosting you on the blog today. I wish you all the best with your future writing. I know we will be seeing more of you in the future.

Author Bio

Jonathan Bryan is the twelve-year-old author of Eye Can Write and founder of the charity, Teach Us Too (who are receiving all his proceeds from the book). Faith, family and friends sum up all that is important to him. He also passionately campaigns for all children to be taught to read and write regardless of their educational label, for which he has been awarded a Diana Legacy Award and a Pearson Young Person of the Year Award. Jonathan blogs at

Eye Can Write is available from Amazon and all good bookshops.

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

An escaped Buffalo. In Scotland? What?

As an author, it's always exciting when a new book comes out. However, this one has me more excited than most. This is my first picture book. 

Meet Bertie, Scotland's very own wee escape artist. The books have just arrived and I'm blown away. Barry Diaper, the illustrator, has done a stonking job, making the wee guy a bundle of cuteness. The illustrations bring my story to life.

He was well and truly launched at Waterstones, Dundee and Waterstones, Stirling on Saturday and the kids loved him. Adults are also falling in love with him at first site. I'll be honest and say I'm humbled at the response.

He doesn't hit the shops properly until 16th November but here's your chance to get a personalised signed copy before the date. You can do so through my website which has a sparkly new look and store.

You can also preorder through Amazon or at Waterstones or any bookshop. If you are in Dundee, I will be doing an event with Fiona Veitch Smith, author of the Young David and Young Joseph books at CLC Dundee on Saturday 10th November between 10.00 and 15.00. Bring the kids along to meet Bertie, Hezzie, Ari the Alpaca, Chloe the Cow and Sharon the Sheep. All these animals star in either Bertie the Buffalo, or Fiona's books. There will be readings, activities and treats for the kids.

I am sure you will love Bertie as much as I do.

If you are looking for Christmas presents with a difference, then signed personalised copies of Bertie, or any other of my books, would fit the bill nicely. 

About the Author

Wendy H Jones is the Amazon Number 1 best-selling author of the award winning DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries. Her Young Adult Mystery, The Dagger’s Curse was a finalist in the Woman Alive Readers Choice Award. She is also The President of the Scottish Association of Writers, an international public speaker, and runs conferences and workshops on writing, motivation and marketing. Wendy is the founder of Crime at the Castle, Scotland’s newest Crime Festival. She is the editor of a Lent Book, published by the Association of Christian Writers and also the editor of the forthcoming Christmas Anthology form the same publisher. Her first children's book, Bertie the Buffalo, will be released at the end of October 2018.

Monday, 6 August 2018

Scottish Mystery by Val Penny

Today on Bookaholic I welcome fellow Scottish Crime Writer, Val Penny. Welcome Val.

I am pleased to be visiting my friend Wendy's blog today.

My novel, 'Hunter's Revenge' is the second in my series of a crime thrillers that fall squarely within the Tartan Noire genre. The main protagonist is Detective Inspector Hunter Wilson.

The story begins in 1968 when Georg Reinbold has to flee from his home in East Germany after killing a Stasi officer.

Fast forward forty-five years and Hunter Wilson is called to the scene of a murder. He is devastated to find that the victim is his friend and colleague, George Reinbold. Hunter finds there is also a new source of cocaine coming into his city and into the jail. He requires the assistance of his nemesis, the former Chief Constable. Hunter's perseverance and patience are put to the test time after time in this taught crime thriller. Hunter by name – Hunter by nature: DI Hunter Wilson will not rest until Edinburgh is safe.

I set my novels in Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland because it is a city I know well. I did consider creating an imaginary town for Hunter. However, Edinburgh has everything a writer could need. It is a diverse city with all different kinds of buildings and people. It is small enough that characters can move around it quickly and large enough for it to be credible that anything I want to happen there, could happen.

Edinburgh is also a beautiful city with a castle, a palace and a cathedral, wealthy homes, horrible slums, fine restaurants, fast food outlets and idiosyncratic pubs. It is home to an Olympic size pool, the National Rugby Team and two famous football teams. What more could I or my characters want?

I am an American author living in SW Scotland. I have two adult daughters of whom I am justly proud and live with my husband and two cats. I have a Law degree from Edinburgh University and my MSc from Napier University.

I have had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, lawyer, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer. However I have not yet achieved either of my childhood dreams of being a ballerina or owning a candy store. Until those dreams come true, I have turned my hand to writing poetry, short stories and novels. My first crime novel, 'Hunter's Chase' was published by Crooked Cat Books on 02.02.2018. 'Hunter's Revenge' launches on 09.09.2018 and I am now writing the third in the series, 'Hunter's Force'.

Thank you, Val. It's been a pleasure having you on Bookaholic. 

Bookaholics, I can assure you that Val\s Books are well worth grabbing and reading today.

You can find out more about Val at: