Anne Bonny #GuestPost #Promo #Kickstarter A Timeless Celebration by @DianneAscroft #CenturyCottageCozyMystery #Mystery

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Thank you for inviting me to your blog, Abby. I guess I should introduce myself to your readers. I’m Dianne Ascroft and I write historical and contemporary fiction. After writing historical fiction set during the Second World War for several years now, last summer I began writing my first cozy mystery, A Timeless Celebration.

Let me tell you a bit about the novel: When an artefact from the Titanic is stolen before her town’s 150th anniversary celebration, it’s up to Lois Stone to catch the thief. Middle-aged widow Lois has moved from bustling Toronto to tranquil Fenwater and is settling into her new life, feeling secure away from the dangers of the city. Then two events happen that shatter her serenity: her house is burgled and an antique watch belonging to a Titanic survivor is stolen from the local museum. Her best friend, Marge was responsible for the watch’s safekeeping until its official presentation to the museum at the town’s 150th anniversary party and its disappearance will jeopardise her job. Lois won’t let her friend’s reputation be tarnished or her job endangered by an accusation of theft. She’s determined to find the watch in time to save her best friend’s job and the town’s 150th anniversary celebration.

And so begins a week of new friends, apple and cinnamon muffins, calico cats, midnight intruders, shadowy caprine companions and more than one person with a reason to steal the watch, set against the backdrop of century houses on leafy residential streets, the swirling melodies of bagpipes, a shimmering heat haze and the burble of cool water. A Timeless Celebration is the story of Lois’s unwitting entry into the world of amateur sleuthing in a small town, which beckons readers to stop and stay a while.

As I mentioned, I started writing the novel last summer after a memory of home got the ball rolling. I’ve lived in Great Britain for almost three decades but I still have a strong connection to my birthplace, Canada. One really vivid image I have from home is of a quaint, small town with a sprightly river running through it where I’ve spent many happy hours. For several years, my mother was a resident of a nursing home in the town and each summer I flew over to spend a week with her. I pushed her wheelchair along the peaceful banks of the river in the nursing home grounds and we ate lunch at a nearby diner where the waitress always remembered my mother’s order. After I left my mother each day, I wandered along the main street, stopping at the squat, stone Carnegie Library to use the computer and leisurely browsing in the bookshop and numerous craft shops. I also wandered into the old fashioned clothing stores and the market housed in a barnlike building. In the evenings, as the air cooled and the sun sank lower in the sky, I strolled along streets shaded by mature oak and maple trees admiring the traditional stone architecture of the houses.

Everywhere I went people were friendly. They had time to chat and I discovered a sense of community that I hadn’t known in the huge city where I grew up. Whenever I think of the town, it always makes me smile, and one day last summer as I remembered times I had spent there, I realised it was the perfect place to set my new series. I loved the town and I was sure readers would find it a delightful place to be. So that was how the Century Cottage Cozy Mystery series began.

So now I’ve finished writing A Timeless Celebration and need to get it edited before it can go to print. But I need to raise the money to hire the editor as I am publishing the book myself. So I’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign to do this. Every pledge to pre-order a copy of the book (and other rewards) will take me a step closer to making the book happen. Please visit my Kickstarter page for more information.
Here’s the link

I’d be delighted if you’d join the other readers who are helping this book become a reality.

DA
Dianne Ascroft
Website
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Kickstarter
Good luck Dianne

 

Anne Bonny #BlogTour #GuestPost – #Disability – A Spoke in The Wheel by @KathleenJowitt #ContemporaryFiction #Cycling

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A Spoke In The Wheel by Kathleen Jowitt
Synopsis:

The first thing I saw was the wheelchair.

The first thing she saw was the doper.

Ben Goddard is an embarrassment – as a cyclist, as an athlete, as a human being. And he knows it.

Now that he’s been exposed by a positive drugs test, his race wins and his work with disabled children mean nothing. He quits professional cycling in a hurry, sticks a pin in a map, and sets out to build a new life in a town where nobody knows who he is or what he’s done.

But when the first person he meets turns out to be a cycling fan, he finds out that it’s not going to be quite as easy as that.

Besides, Polly’s not just a cycling fan, she’s a former medical student with a chronic illness and strong opinions. Particularly when it comes to Ben Goddard…

Guest Post:

Virginia Woolf opens her 1925 essay On Being Ill with the following observation:

Considering how common illness is, how tremendous the spiritual change that it brings, how astonishing, when the lights of health go down, the undiscovered countries that are then disclosed… it becomes strange indeed that illness has not taken its place with love, battle, and jealousy among the prime themes of literature.

I’d like to take that further and say that, considering how many people are living with a disability or a chronic illness, it becomes strange how little that’s reflected in fiction

We’ve had didactic Victorian fiction, often with a miraculous cure at the end of the book; we’ve had the overwrought sensationalism of Me Before You; but we’ve had very little about ordinary disabled people just getting on with their life. Disabled characters tend to be saints or villains, with not much in between. And that doesn’t reflect the world that I see around me, or the people that I see around me.

I wouldn’t say that I deliberately set out to redress that balance: it just happened that way. A Spoke in the Wheel came out of a conversation I had with my partner as we watched the Vuelta A España: he observed that endurance athletes must be some of the few people to intuitively understand the ‘spoons’ analogy of disability. I started wondering how the circumstances would need to align for two people who had that first-hand experience to have that conversation. The book started there: Ben, a professional cyclist, meets Polly, a disabled fan.

Then I started thinking about the other thing that disabled people and professional cyclists have in common: the assumptions people make about them, the hurtful, damaging assumptions that cyclists are doping to win, and that disabled people are faking it to get benefits. That went into the pot, too. (Since it’s made clear in the first two chapters, I don’t mind telling you now. He’s a cheat. She isn’t.)

I’m not physically disabled myself so I was very keen to ensure that I portrayed Polly’s ME in a sensitive and accurate manner. Joanne Harris’ Twitter thread on Ten Things About Writing Medical Conditions [link here: https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/979331230318686208.html%5D came just as I’d approved the final proofs of A Spoke in the Wheel, but it demonstrates very well the approach that I tried to take, particularly tweets 6, 7 and 8. Polly is much more than her disability, but her disability affects her life in all sorts of ways. She absolutely has a leading role. And there are no miracle cures, and no saccharine deathbed scenes in this book.

And I can’t tell you how grateful I am to my friends who read the manuscript and said things like, ‘No, if he’s going to pick her prescription up for her then he’ll need a signed letter…’ Or, indeed, ‘Haha, yes, that’s happened to me several times!’ Not to mention the one who took her wheelchair to pieces so that I could photograph one of the wheels for the front cover…

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Kathleen Jowitt
Twitter
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ASITW blog tour individual 17 May

Anne Bonny #BlogTour #GuestPost #Protagonist – Tale Of A Tooth by @Alliewhowrites #LiteraryFiction #NewRelease @Legend_Press

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Tale Of A Tooth by Allie Rogers
Synopsis:

Four-year-old Danny lives with his mother, Natalie, in a small Sussex town. Life is a struggle and when they are threatened with a benefits sanction, salvation appears in the form of a Job Centre employee called Karen. But Karen’s impact is to reach far beyond this one generous gesture, as she and Natalie embark on an intense relationship.

Told in the voice of an intelligent, passionate and unusual child, Tale of a Tooth is an immersive and compelling look at the impact of domestic abuse on a vulnerable family unit.

Guest Post:

The protagonist of Tale of a Tooth is four year old Danny White. Danny lives in a studio flat with his mother, who he calls Meemaw.

From the beginning of the book, we realise that Danny is an unusual child. He sees Meemaw’s emotions as colours, he is a fluent reader, he has an encyclopaedic knowledge of dinosaurs, the ability to spend long stretches of time content in his own company and he is often overwhelmed by too much light and noise.

Danny’s intelligence, his perceptiveness, his particular ways of navigating the social world, along with the intensity of his bond with Meemaw, made him a gift of a character to narrate this story. As the author, I felt there was no need to do anything other than let Danny speak. He doesn’t miss what matters, even if sometimes he doesn’t understand the significance of what he’s observing.

At one point in the book, Meemaw talks to Danny about the future, when she thinks people might start ‘slapping on the labels.’ So, what labels is she talking about? Is Danny gifted? Does he have synesthesia? Does he have sensory processing disorder? Is he on the autistic spectrum?

This story happens in the part of Danny’s life when he lives alone with his mother and is not in touch with any services that might have given him any sort of diagnosis. If readers want to consider his possible future, if they feel any particular labels fit, then I’m sure they will apply them. But, as the author, all I knew for certain was that Danny had arrived in my head with this story to tell. I let him tell it as himself and challenged my readers to enter his way of experiencing the world without giving it any adult definitions.

One of the things I hope Danny manages to convey to the reader is the safety and warmth of his life with Meemaw, in spite of the many challenges they face as the story unfolds. Though they are living on the edge financially, Danny’s world is kept stable and manageable by Meemaw’s deep, almost instinctive, understanding of him.

Of course, that’s not to say that Meemaw doesn’t misunderstand at times, or lose patience, or occasionally get driven to desperation by his particular wants or needs. And that’s certainly not to say that she doesn’t crave adult company or the attention of someone who sees her as more than just Meemaw. But she and Danny share a powerful bond and I hope readers see that a great deal of Danny’s courage and resilience comes from having a mother who respects his essential self.

As a parent, aunt, and friend, I’ve been privileged to know a lot of four year olds. To be honest, I think they have all been far more sophisticated and complex little people than the adult world usually assumes them to be. If I say Danny is ‘unusual’ then I think it’s worth bearing in mind that there is no template child in the world against whom he is to be measured. All children, all people, are, of course, unique.

Tale of a Tooth is a dark story in many ways. There were scenes that were painful to write, as I realised the horror of what Danny was going to face. I became fiercely fond of him, his kindness, his focus and, more than anything, his honesty. But it was his honesty that meant there was no way he was going to flinch from telling the truth of what happened when his Meemaw met Karen. I hope readers will hear him.

Allie Rogers
Allie Rogers
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Anne Bonny #BlogTour #GuestPost – Class Structure. Tapestry Of War by @JaneFMackenzie #HistoricalFiction #ww2Fiction #NewRelease @AllisonandBusby

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Tapestry Of War by Jane MacKenzie
Synopsis:

From the deserts of North Africa, to the waters of Scotland, the Second World War touches the lives of two women from two very different worlds. In Alexandria, Fran finds her world turned upside down as Rommel’s forces advance on the idyllic shores of Egypt. The life of luxury and stability that she is used to is taken away as she finds herself having to deal with loss, heartache and political uncertainty. Meanwhile, in the Firth of Clyde, Catriona struggles between her quiet rural life and her dreams of nursing injured servicemen on the front lines. As the war rages on, the two women’s lives become intertwined – bringing love and friendship to both.

Guest Post:

I have dedicated this book to the myriad people whose lives and endeavours threaded together, weaving victory into the tapestry of war. The second world war threw people from different nations, cultures and classes together in a way no previous war had done. They worked together, challenged each other, and prised open long established social structures and beliefs. It was no accident that the general election directly after the end of the second world war swept the war hero Winston Churchill out of office and gave a landslide victory to the Labour party. The people who emerged from World War Two wanted a different world.

Setting Tapestry of War in two such contrasting locations as Alexandria in Egypt and rural Scotland allowed me to insert a spyglass into that social upheaval. My characters in Alexandria are wealthy colonials with servants and grand homes, living a life of tennis parties and cocktails. But into their world come fighting men with completely different values, Australian troops who despise the British class system and invade bars supposedly reserved for officers, Indian troops who make it clear that they are not fighting this war to preserve the Empire, people from all over the globe who want to defeat Hitler, but not to preserve the old British order.

My sober naval officer Jim MacNeill comes from simple, quiet-living, industrious Highland stock. He doesn’t want to get drawn into what he sees as the frivolous social whirl of Alexandria, but he does. And in spite of himself he becomes entangled with a woman from that social circle. Jim and Fran’s relationship challenges them both, but Fran is a journalist. She too can see that the old order is on its way out, and she can see the damage being done by the narrow-minded arrogance of the old British colonial mentality.

Back at home in Scotland Jim’s sister Catriona is living a very different war, nursing injured servicemen and looking after her father. But for people at home too the world is turned upside down by the war. Women like Catriona are entering into new fields of work, mixing with American, French, Polish servicemen, left-wing conscientious objectors who build ships for the war instead, a whole melting-pot of people of every social background whose experiences will forever change them after the war. Their parents had lived grimly through the Great Depression, had known and never changed their social order, had done as they were told. But now, as World War Two reaches its end, those who have given their all want a better future.

Tapestry of War isn’t a deliberately ‘social’ novel. Indeed, I hope it is a very human one. But you can’t write about World War Two without witnessing the fascinating changes it helped bring about. It was a melting-pot. And when you melt things they never take quite the same shape again.

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Jane MacKenzie
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Anne Bonny #GuestPost by @AuthorMLilly – Vigilantism in fiction #PondScum #RoadRunner #DarkthornSeries @vulpine_press #CrimeFiction #NewRelease

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Pond Scum by Michael Lilly
Darkthorn #1
Synopsis:

My name is Jeremy Thorn, and I’m a serial killer.

Jeremy ‘Remy’ Thorn is a detective from a small town in Oregon. He does his job well and keeps to himself. A past of trauma and abuse, and a compulsive need for balance have shaped him into the person he is today: a decisive, effective killer.

His routine is simple but trustworthy.

Step one: Find two targets. The first, an abomination of a human being whose only contribution to the world is as fertilizer. The second, a detriment to society, perhaps a sidekick or accessory.

Step two: Kill the first. Frame the second.

Easy.

After his latest, and most personal kill, all seems to be going well. He makes it home by morning and continues with his plan as normal, with each perfectly timed maneuver all mapped out. But to his horror, he finds that the man he was trying to frame—a hotshot detective from a major nearby city—has been called in to work the case. And what’s worse … he’s privy to the truth.

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Road Runner by Michael Lilly
Darkthorn #2
Synopsis:

Remy and Todd are just getting comfortable when a series of death threats forces them to take refuge in a tiny town in New Mexico. Against his better judgment, an antsy Remy picks up detective work again and is thrust into a murder investigation. He quickly realizes these murders are no coincidence, and disturbing signs lead him to think they are connected to his unfinished business in Riverdell.

In the midst of yet another battle of wit, resources, mental fortitude, and emotional stamina, Remy is forced to confront the demons of his past and present. He can only hope he has what it takes to finish this once and for all.

Guest Post:

Vigilantism in Fiction
Because it’s Illegal in Real Life

While one of the more popular plot dynamics in fiction—specifically action, crime, and suspense—it can be quite a challenge to piece together a story about vigilantism while also keeping it relevant, believable, and engaging. More specifically, it’s difficult to create a character—a vigilante—who’s likeable and relatable while simultaneously building a life for them in which they subvert the law and perpetuate acts that would certainly be frowned upon in real life.

So how exactly does one create such a character?

My first piece of advice is as complex and as simple as this: Keep them human. Have them do human things. Give them pets, hobbies, and a story. Give them reasons for living outside of their vigilante work. Give them flaws and quirks: a stutter they’re self-conscious about, a phobia of an insect that’s not even indigenous in the area, a deep knowledge of plant life, an obsession with another culture (or many other cultures!).

My second piece of advice is to make the work necessary. In the Dexter series, the protagonist, blood spatter analyst Dexter Morgan, has a drive to kill, but it goes beyond simple desire. He needs it, and his father, Harry, recognized this in him and taught him a set of rules to abide by in order to keep it hidden. This is a unique (and mercilessly engaging) perspective, and it works. If your character kills for sheer pleasure, that’s a fast way to create distance between your character and your audience.

In some cases (and as was the plot device I used in Pond Scum), making the vigilantism a necessity is a matter of making the antagonist absolutely untouchable by the law. Make your antagonist arrogant, witty, and fully aware that they can get away with whatever they please, as long as they can’t get caught legally. These antagonists know that they can manipulate, lie, bribe, blackmail, and coerce their way to whatever end they please, as long as the court system continues to operate how it has been for decades. But they don’t count on someone ignoring that system. They think that, by breaking the rules, they have the edge, but when met with an adversary with a similar disregard for rules, they run scared.

An important part, which often seems like an afterthought, is that of how the character’s vigilantism affects their other relationships. Do they have a significant other? Does that person know about these habits? If so, how does that impact the significant other’s perception of the protagonist? And if not, what measures has the main character taken to keep their operations hidden?

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Michael Lilly
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