Anne Bonny #BlogTour #GuestPost by Patricia Macdonald #TheGirlInTheWoods #Psychological #Thriller #NewRelease @blackthornbks

The Girl In The Woods by Patricia Macdonald
Review To Follow

Synopsis ~

“I have to tell you something. I did something bad.”

Fifteen years ago, Blair’s best friend Molly was murdered.
Fifteen years ago, Adrian Jones went to prison for it.
Fifteen years ago, the real killer got away with it.

And now, Blair’s terminally ill sister has made a devastating deathbed confession, which could prove that the wrong man has been imprisoned for years – and that Molly’s killer is still out there. Blair’s determined to find him, but the story behind Molly’s death is more twisted than she could imagine. If she isn’t careful, the killer will ensnare her and bury Blair with his secret.

Guest Post ~

Readers often ask me where I get my ideas for my books. In truth, I am always searching for the odd news story which piques my interest and engages my emotions. The inspiration for one of my books, NOT GUILTY, was a tiny article about a man who put a new, in ground pool in his backyard, even though he could not swim. When his toddler fell in, the man instinctively jumped in to save him, and drowned. I kept asking myself why anyone would do something so reckless and potentially dangerous—excavate a deep pooI in their yard when they had small children, and couldn’t swim. It seemed an improbable idea on which to base a book, but I found that I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I finally decided to use it. It was both satisfying and difficult to create that murderous plot, but I was happy with the results.

If only there were a reliable source that I could consult whenever I needed inspiration! Just as important as inspiration, I need a story that will continue to interest me for the year or so which it takes to produce a book. It ought to be simpler than it is. I write suspense novels, so my story always centers around a crime, and the crime is always murder. But even though the news is full of murders, very few of them are sufficiently interesting to make me want to write a book.

It’s easier to say which crimes wouldn’t interest me than which would. I am never attracted to murders committed for financial gain. Greed seems a pitiful reason to kill. I’m not interested in the Mob, or gang warfare. Anything having to do with drugs puts me to sleep. And as much as I enjoy a good serial killer on the page or in a film, I never want to write about one. Their victims should be apparently unrelated, so that the investigators have to search for a pattern. I adore the search, but am invariably disappointed when the killer is finally cornered, and the trigger is revealed. It’s a letdown to learn that our diabolically clever criminal is some loser killing random girls who resemble someone that rejected him in high school.

No, I want something tortured and shameful as a motive. I want a tormented psyche formed by thwarted desires and family secrets. This is where the writer in me has to get busy. In addition to the killer, I have to create other characters who are also plausible as potential villains. This entails creating family histories for multiple characters who might have the motive to inspire mayhem. Luckily, this is part of the work which I enjoy.

Once I have my crime and my killer, I need an opening which will hold the reader’s interest while I set up the pieces of my chess game, if you will. My latest book, THE GIRL IN THE WOODS, opens with a deathbed confession. I always wanted to write about a deathbed confession, not only for the drama and the emotion of it, but because most of us have misapprehensions about the legal value of a such a confession. There are actually very interesting limits to its usefulness. This gave me two avenues to pursue, the psychological and the legal. I like to think that these dovetailed nicely in THE GIRL IN THE WOODS. I felt as if I met the challenges of this plot, but now, alas, it is behind me. Once again, I am searching for that rare and elusive source of inspiration, which will make me want to write again.

Pat Macdonald
Patricia Macdonald


Anne Bonny #BlogTour Q&A with A.F. Brady @AFBradyNYC #Author of, Once A Liar #NewRelease #Legal #Thriller #Suspense @HQstories

Once A Liar by A.F. Brady

Synopsis ~

The next gripping thriller from AF Brady…

Peter Caine, a cutthroat Manhattan defense attorney, worked ruthlessly to become the best at his job. On the surface, he is charming and handsome, but inside he is cold and heartless. He fights without remorse to acquit murderers, pedophiles and rapists.

When Charlie Doyle, the daughter of the Manhattan DA—and Peter’s former lover—is murdered, Peter’s world is quickly sent into a tailspin. He becomes the prime suspect as the DA, a professional enemy of Peter’s, embarks on a witch hunt to avenge his daughter’s death, stopping at nothing to ensure Peter is found guilty of the murder.

In the challenge of his career and his life, Peter races against the clock to prove his innocence. As the evidence mounts against him, he’s forced to begin unraveling his own dark web of lies and confront the sins of his past. But the truth of who killed Charlie Doyle is more twisted and sinister than anyone could have imagined…

Q&A ~

Q) For the readers, can you talk us through your background and the synopsis of your new novel?

A.) I am a psychotherapist, I’ve been working in the mental health field for nearly twenty years, and Once a Liar is my second novel. I draw heavily from my experiences working with individuals with mental illnesses when I write my books, which I think lends a unique authenticity to my work.

My novels are set in Manhattan, where I grew up, a place teeming with interesting and diverse people from whom I draw inspiration.

Once a Liar is the story of Peter Caine, a cut-throat Manhattan defence attorney who has recently gained custody of his teenaged son upon the death of his ex-wife. Peter sees little value in other human beings, which has served him well in his career defending the indefensible. When he finds the tables have turned and he is accused of the brutal murder of his on-again off-again mistress Charlie Doyle, Peter desperately tries to prove his innocence, and along his journey, he finds that the damage his heartlessness has done may be too great to overcome.

Q) Can you talk us through the journey from idea, to writing and finally to publication?

A.) I wanted to write a book from the perspective of a sociopath because I found more often than not, literary and media representation of sociopathic stories are told through the lens of those who have been hurt or victimised by the sociopath. I wanted to dig inside his mind and get unsettled in there.

Peter was born of a combination of people I have known in my career, mixed together with a healthy dose of imagination. While I was writing him, I found myself becoming sympathetic to his situation. He’s a cold and unempathetic man, but he has a past, a history that led to his current condition, and he has a future that he seems willing to take steps to improve. Peter took the reins at some point in the writing process and showed me sides of himself that I didn’t know were coming. It was quite a journey.

I was nervous and excited for publication because I knew what a risk I was taking by creating a protagonist that’s hard to sympathize with, but I’m so glad I did. I love stepping outside the box, and my readers have really enjoyed getting inside the mind of a sociopath. It’s unique in that way, but also fast paced and the plot is twisty and complex. It was a pleasure to write, despite getting a little scared of the person I was creating from time to time.

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A.) I love reading books of all genres, and going back to old favourites. I love Jay McInerney, Hemingway (especially Islands in the Stream when it starts to get warm out), anything David Sedaris writes, James Frey, especially A Million Little Pieces, Chuck Palahniuk… I would recommend that everyone read Karoo by Steve Tesich. It’s one of my all-time favourites. I just love the story and the difficult protagonist. I love a journey that’s paved with self-discovery and change.

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

A.) As a kid, I loved Winnie the Pooh, and I still do. I loved Swallows and Amazons (Arthur Ransome), Nancy Drew, the Famous Five (Enid Blyton), all these kinds of adventure stories. My grandparents had troves of old books at their house in Greece, so every summer my brother and I would devour everything they had left over from their own childhoods. And my favourite book growing up was My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell.

Q) What are you currently reading?

A.) I am currently in the middle of several books: American Overdose (Chris McGreal) Picking Cotton (Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton), Bright Lights, Big City (Jay McInerney) I reread this one almost yearly, The Plague (Camus) I reread this one almost yearly as well, and I’m just about to start Where the Crawdads Sing (Delia Owens). I’m also reading some manuscripts so I can blurb for other suspense/thriller writers.

Q) What has been your favourite moment of being a published author?

A.) My favourite moment came earlier this spring when a woman reached out to me via email to tell me that she has a very close friend who was diagnosed with a terminal illness and was beginning a bucket list. One of the items on her bucket list was meeting me. I was absolutely floored that my writing had meant so much to someone. We arranged a date and the three of us sat at a diner in Manhattan and chatted for hours about her life, my books, and the impact I made on her life.

Connecting with readers and telling stories that people feel deep down and relate to on some level has always been my favourite part of being a writer, but this one really meant a lot to me.

We are still in touch and are planning on meeting up at the diner again!

Q) Who has been your source of support/encouragement, throughout the writing process?

My family has been incredibly supportive, especially my husband. He takes on many additional roles in order to allow me to take the time I need to write. He helps me work out sticky plot issues, and he never gets tired of sitting around over dinner discussing things I’m going to do to my characters. My dog is also omnipresent while I’m writing, and it’s gotten to the point that I can’t complete a sentence unless he’s lying with me.

A.F. Brady


Guest Post #ThePowerOfDenial by Helene Leuschel, author of Manipulated Lives @HALeuschel

Manipulated Lives by H.A Leuschel

The synopsis:

Five stories – Five Lives

Have you ever felt confused or at a loss for words in front of a spouse, colleague or parent, to the extent that you have felt inadequate or, worse, a failure? Do you ever wonder why someone close to you seems to endure humiliation without resistance?

Manipulators are everywhere. At first these devious and calculating people can be hard to spot, because that is their way. They are often masters of disguise: witty, disarming, even charming in public – tricks to snare their prey – but then they revert to their true self of being controlling and angry in private. Their main aim: to dominate and use others to satisfy their needs, with a complete lack of compassion and empathy for their victim.

In this collection of short novellas, you meet people like you and me, intent on living happy lives, yet each of them, in one way or another, is caught up and damaged by a manipulative individual. First you meet Tess, whose past is haunted by a wrong decision, then young, successful and well balanced Sophie, who is drawn into the life of a little boy and his troubled father. Next, there is teenage Holly, who is intent on making a better life for herself, followed by a manipulator himself, trying to make sense of his irreversible incarceration. Lastly, there is Lisa, who has to face a parent’s biggest regret. All stories highlight to what extent abusive manipulation can distort lives and threaten our very feeling of self-worth.

Guest Post:

What are you hiding?

Rob is sneaking into the house, quietly placing the car keys on the sideboard, then hears his parents talking in the living room. To delay the inevitable, but give himself an opportunity to think about what exactly to tell them, he silently sneaks upstairs into his room. Maybe they won’t notice the scrape, it’s so small you can hardly see it, he tries to tell himself. He dreads the moment they find out, dreads the possibility that he won’t be allowed to borrow the car again. After all, he promised to be careful.


We’ve all done it, consciously or unconsciously and, that is deny the facts that are staring us right in the face. A wide range of emotions may be the main culprits for us denying that we’ve broken something, lost something or are facing an illness that we could have avoided had we listened to the warning signs or someone close to us, anxiously watching and commenting on our behaviour. At the end of the day, we’d rather be seen doing things right than doing things wrong and making mistakes. We’d rather tell a happy story than a story that contains unpleasant passages.

Humiliation, embarrassment or fear to admit weakness or face punishment may also be at the centre of our blindness. Other peoples’ expectations can misguide our better judgment because making mistakes is human after all yet learning from them can make us into a better and stronger person, even if the experience as such can be difficult and very painful.

There is no doubt that we live in a highly competitive society. Children are graded from a young age, judged, labelled and, worse, are often made to believe that showing vulnerability is a sign of weakness. So, within the demands to perform and excel, the importance of being truthful and work through difficulties can quickly get lost. The experience is literally denied to the person.

Later on in life, vital signs are overlooked and, before you know it, you are working all hours, pushing yourself to the limit, ignoring high blood pressure or other physical discomforts and become one of many victims of denial. The heart attack you survive may either be interpreted as an unlucky curse or the inevitable consequence of a crazy life style. In either case, something important has been overlooked – the opportunity to take responsibility for our actions, whether it is admitting being unable to resist a treat, the fact that bumping a car is part of learning to navigate through busy city traffic or realising that your health deserves to be prioritized.

Denial allows us to hide behind our many excuses and reassuring platitudes (I’m too old to change, you only live once, I have to pretend for the children, it’s not that bad, etc) as well as be kind and gentle to ourselves and others. Bad habits can be broken and if used sparingly and progressively, partial denial can coax a person out of a hiding place without the damage that they so feared. If Rob’s parents take a calm approach towards his mistake, he will know that honesty is better than the attempt of a cover up.


Denial – protective or destructive?

Jenny wakes with a pain in her chest and she knows that it’s been going on for too long now. Each day she feels the signs that something is not right and they are getting worse. She reminds herself that she runs an independent company where her managerial guidance is needed daily, that she’s a single mum with two children to feed, a mortgage and bills to pay and her parents live miles from her home. She tells herself the same as she has the last few days: the pain will pass, it’s just stress. Once the pressure eases, she’ll be better again.


It is fundamental to see a difference between two types of denial – the conscious and the unconscious rejection of knowledge available and the reasons why.

Unconscious denial is a defence mechanism that allows a person to temporarily deal with unbearable pain or fear. She’s in a state of shock, shaking our head, denying that what she experiences is really serious, even telling herself that she’s probably over reacting. When the signs do not abate though and she consciously denies the recurring symptoms, her initial reaction trying to protect her from facing an unfamiliar event is in danger of turning into a potentially destructive one.

Jenny is clearly playing with fire. She is filled with the fear of losing a days’ business, constantly reminded that she needs to stay strong and reliable for her children, panicking at the thought that she should take time off to get her heart checked, making herself believe that with time all will get back to normal.

Denial stops her from halting all activities and to think, before it is too late. The more conscious the denial, the higher will be the risk she is taking. It is a gamble she may come to regret but many will still be able to empathize with and understand. The moment she realizes that she is jeopardizing exactly what she is working so hard to keep afloat, the veil will drop and make her see what she needs to do to keep it safe.


Denial and toxic manipulation

Peter knows that he has made a major mistake. Because of his misjudgement, the company he works for, has lost an important client and vital revenue. Further, he fears that his wife will find out about his affairs and that he’ll be shamed by his family. He decides to use denial, diversion and deceit to put the blame on one of his colleagues, slip in a few nasty comments directed at his wife to divert attention, all with the aim at securing his all-important status, an image of a successful, desirable and infallible man.


Peter knows no qualms, has little inhibition and lacks empathy to fully comprehend that his actions hurt others deeply. He has an overrated sense of entitlement that make him focus on never admitting to a mistake, refusing responsibility and using denial whenever necessary. A mechanism that we’ve seen can have protective and self-destructive characteristics is used by a person in a consciously toxic and manipulative way.

The previous example may paint the bleakest of all pictures when talking about denial as a human trait. The desire to keep one’s image and appear wearing a white shirt at all times means Peter uses denial to brush any inconvenience under the carpet. His behaviour is facilitated by his lack of empathy, the ability to slip into another person’s shoes and realise the limits of denial. His narcissistically driven goals take centre stage and make denial a powerful tool, very different in kind than the ones outlined above. Dealing with a highly manipulative individual is therefore also the ultimate encounter with denial.


At the end of the day, it may depend on how heavily a person’s actions weigh on their conscience and further, going back to the roots, the way our relationship developed with our primary care-giver when we were children, followed by the many years encountering a number of different teachers. Decades of research in psychology have shown that this initial phase has a decisive impact on our emotional and mental growth, our empathic skills and the development as a moral individual overall.

How Rob, Jenny and Peter deal with their own fallibility and how much they may rely on denial will ultimately depend on their life-experiences in early childhood. Being allowed to feel warmth and compassion, to face challenges calmly and honestly as a child are vital in determining how a person will deal with the setbacks of life later on.

Helene Leuschel
Authors links:
Twitter: @HALeuschel

About the Author

Helene Andrea Leuschel was born and raised in Belgium to German parents. She gained a Licentiate in Journalism, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh. Helene moved to the Algarve in 2009 with her husband and two children, working as a freelance TV producer and teaching yoga. She recently acquired a Master of Philosophy with the OU, deepening her passion for the study of the mind. Manipulated Lives is Helene’s first work of fiction.