Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Trainspotting Meets Hot Pursuit

Good morning, Bookaholics. Yes it is still morning as I write this in the UK. It's even earlier morning in Canada where today's post will take you. I am excited to reveal the cover and the preorder links for my friend, and fellow Princess of Pandemonium, Melanie Robertson-King's new book. This is romantic suspense of the sweet romance variety and I can assure you, you are in for a treat when you read this. Melanie is an exceptional writer. To get you in the mood, here's the blurb.

Hilary Dunbar is a uniformed constable with the Vancouver Police with an agenda to rid the streets of drugs, especially the bad ones the notorious dealer, Carlos Navarra, is trafficking.

Heroin addict, Erik Layne, has lived on the streets of Gastown for as long as he can remember, having left home and Toronto as a rebellious teenage addict. His and Hilary’s paths cross when she finds him unconscious in an alley after injecting a batch of the contaminated drug. He must fight for his life to keep from dying, not only from the tainted smack but also from the man who provided it.

A domestic disturbance call goes wrong, and Hilary suffers life-changing injuries as a result. As luck would have it, she and Erik are hospitalized in the same ward at Vancouver General Hospital. When she sinks into a deep depression, it’s he who pulls her out of her doldrums.

But will Hilary’s obsession with bringing down Navarra and others like him destroy their relationship and, more importantly, jeopardize their lives?

And just to really warm you up and get you ready here's an excerpt. 

Out on routine patrol, Constables Hilary Dunbar and her partner Lukas Stephanopoulos drove north on Cambie Street towards the Gastown Steam Clock. As they passed the end of Blood Alley, she shouted, “Back up. Something’s down there.”
“Your imagination getting the better of you again?” He teased, but pulled over to the curb and slowly reversed until they blocked the mouth of the narrow passage. 
Originally they called the lane Trounce Alley. Some maps still referred to the laneway as that. Others labelled the back street Blood Alley. Given the appearance, Hilary thought the latter more appropriate.
Window down, she trained the beam from the powerful spotlight mounted on the cruiser’s mirror into the alleyway. “See, beyond those dumpsters.”
“Likely just garbage.”
“Wait here; I’m going to take a closer look.”
Before exiting the car, she plucked a pair of nitrile gloves and the naloxone kit from the glove compartment. Once out, she shoved them in the pockets of her trousers. With the fingertips of her right hand brushing her gun holster and gripping the barrel of the torch in her left, she sidled towards the object. 
Graffiti tags covered the walls of the buildings as well as the wooden hydro poles. The farther into the confined space she crept, the hairs on the nape of her neck bristled beneath the bun in which she styled her black hair. Whatever was down there wasn’t rubbish, as Luke said. The pong of stale urine made her eyes water.
Past the second dumpster, the body of a young man leaned against the wall. Dishevelled and filthy, his body odour was strong enough to make the foulest of skunk spray seem mild. At first glance, he appeared dead. His skin had a bluish tinge, and weeping sores dotted his face. Dark circles surrounded his eyes. Inching forward, Hilary squatted beside him. 
A blood-filled syringe protruded from his left arm. Flashlight held under her chin; she donned the synthetic rubber gloves she brought with her and felt his neck for a pulse. The rhythmic throbbing beneath her fingertips, barely discernible.
The naloxone. The kit had been made available to officers who wanted the medication. Luke was against carrying the opioid blocker in the cruiser, but Hilary persuaded him. Now was the time to use it. She took the package out of her other trouser pocket, peeled the wrapper open and placed the nozzle in the victim’s left nostril and pressed the plunger. 
She keyed the mic on her handset and started to speak. “Constable Dunbar.” As though on cue, the nearby Steam Clock began whistling — no sense in trying to outperform the contraption. Wait for the completion of its proclamation of the top of the hour — Westminster chimes followed by singular whistle blasts counting out the time. Soon relative quiet returned and Hilary tried again. “Constable Dunbar. Badge 8652. I need an ambulance at Blood Alley and Cambie Street. Suspected drug overdose. Have administered four milligrams of Narcan nasal spray. No response as of yet.”
By now, Luke had the cruiser’s roof lights on. Blue, red and white alternating then running from the driver’s side to the passenger’s side of the vehicle.
The wail of the siren grew louder. In minutes, paramedics jumped out and trundled a stretcher and medical equipment to the stricken person.
Hilary stood back, letting them do their jobs. “I gave him Narcan,” she said, handing the spent plastic bottle to one of them. 
“He’s alive ... just. You found him in time. We’ve bagged the needle so they can run tests on the contents at the hospital. Figure out what he shot into his veins.”

I'm sure you will agree it sounds exciting. I can't wait to read it and have pre-ordered already. You can preorder the book as well via the links below. 

Anyone who comments on this blog will be entered into a prize draw to win an ebook cop of It Happened on Dufferin Terrace, the first book in the It Happened Series.

Everything you wanted to know about Melanie but were afraid to ask ...

A native of eastern Ontario, during her pre-school years, Melanie Robertson-King lived in a winterized cottage on the shore of the St Lawrence River. Before starting school, her family moved to Brockville, where she received her education, including a post-secondary degree in Computer Programming.

Growing up as an only child, Melanie was an avid reader and remains so to this day. She knew then one day she would be a writer. When she wasn’t talking about her dream of becoming an author, she wrote stories and began honing her skills at an early age.

Melanie’s father was a Scottish national. He came to Canada as a ‘Home Child’ through the auspices of The Orphan Homes of Scotland. She promised herself that one day, her feet would touch the soil in her father’s homeland. That first trip was in 1993, and she’s not looked back since, having returned to the auld country many more times and is looking forward to her next trip, possibly as soon as 2020. On one of her many trips to Scotland, Melanie had the honour of meeting Princess Anne (The Princess Royal) at the orphanage where her father was raised.

Encouraged to study Highland Dancing, she competed locally. Her final competition took place during the summer of 1969, a few short months after her father’s death, at the 1000 Islands Highland Games. In that last event, she won the Silver Medal in the Sword Dance.

Melanie began her professional writing career in non-fiction. One of her articles graced the cover of an international publication. At the same time, she continued to develop her writing voice: short stories (both fiction and non-fiction) as well as novel-length work.

Since her debut novel was published in the summer of 2012, Melanie has written seven more books (including two for children) and released the second edition of her first.

It Happened in Gastown is Melanie’s ninth book, and the second in the “It Happened” series of sweet romances set in picturesque locations across Canada.

Her short story, Cole’s Notes, has been re-edited and is available as a free read through her website and blog.

When not sequestered in her cave writing, plotting or editing, you’ll find her out and about. Favourite haunts (pardon the pun) are cemeteries (the older, the better) since they have more character, and perhaps a few more characters. She also loves travel and photography.

Melanie and fellow authors, Wendy H. Jones and Chris Longmuir, make up the infamous trio – the Princesses of Pandemonium.

Sunday, 27 October 2019

Covering all things Covers

Good afternoon Bookaholics. I'm going to ask a question of you today - Do you judge a book by its cover? I know the saying goes that you shouldn't but I'll be honest and say, I usually do. If the cover doesn't catch my attention, then I usually give the book a swerve and move on. I'm a firm believer that the cover has to attract in order for a reader to take the next step and pick the book up and spend time in reading the blurb on the back. I believe we humans are fickle creatures and we know what we like.

However, as an author, I have to shove all personal feelings aside and step inside the mind of the reader. Or do I? As well as being a writer of crime, I am also an avid reader of crime books and certain covers attract me. I know what covers I expect for which genre or sub genre and, I can absolutely guarantee, so do most other readers of crime. I cannot, however, even begin to imagine any designs for my own covers. I may be able to plot a good story but when it comes to images my brain does not function in that way.

With regards to covers I one hundred percent believe that it's best to call in the experts. My cover, designer Cathy Helms of Avalon Graphics, is truly brilliant. She's got my work spot on. When I told her my next book was set in Dundee and New Orleans she came up with the cover above. Dundee is at the bottom and New Orleans at the top, all in glorious gold, purple and green with mist effect,  which suits the book down to the ground. I could never have come up with this but now I see it, I know it's perfect. Cathy is a visionary and can work magic with the little I give her. It fits in with the branding for the rest of the books perfectly. 

Book Description

Faced with the horrific murder of two Father Christmas's, DI Shona is hurtled into the centre of another deadly spree by a killer who will stop at nothing . With no clues and a rising body count she is shocked to find herself not only investigating in Dundee but also, New Orleans and the Louisiana Bayou. As the body count rises higher than the sticky Louisiana heat, Shona joins with her American colleagues to stop a serial killer in their tracks before Christmas is ruined forever. What, and who, could possible link these cities other than one grizzly murder after another.

Killer's Curse will be released in November. You can find out more and preorder your copy now

I hope you love the cover as much as I do. I hope you love the book even more. 

Thanks for tuning in, Bookaholics, I will be back soon with more news, views, help and assistance from the world of books, reading and writing. Until then, keep reading and writing.

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: https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/3249143023256353293?source=wendy

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 eyecantalk.net

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