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

tapestry of war
Tapestry Of War by Jane MacKenzie

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.

Jane MacKenzie

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Especially my blogger buddy for the day, Love Books Group.
Tour Stops


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

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.


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

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

Anne Bonny #BlogTour #GuestPost – Introducing Troy. Friends And Traitors by John Lawson #Espionage #Thriller #1958 #HistoricalFiction #ColdWar #NewRelease

Absolutely honoured to be taking part in a blog tour organised by the fabulous Ayo.

Friends And Traitors by John Lawson
Inspector Troy series


It is 1958. Chief Superintendent Frederick Troy of Scotland Yard, newly promoted after good service during Nikita Khrushchev’s visit to Britain, is not looking forward to a Continental trip with his older brother, Rod. Rod was too vain to celebrate being fifty so instead takes his entire family on ‘the Grand Tour’ for his fifty-first birthday: Paris, Siena, Florence, Vienna, Amsterdam. Restaurants, galleries and concert halls. But Frederick Troy never gets to Amsterdam.

After a concert in Vienna he is approached by an old friend whom he has not seen for years – Guy Burgess, a spy for the Soviets, who says something extraordinary: ‘I want to come home.’ Troy dumps the problem on MI5 who send an agent to debrief Burgess – but when the man is gunned down only yards from the embassy, the whole plan unravels with alarming speed and Troy finds himself a suspect.

As he fights to prove his innocence, Troy discovers that Burgess is not the only ghost who has returned to haunt him…

Guest Post:

Introducing Troy by John Lawton

I first thought of Troy (although at that point he was nameless) when I was living in and killing time in Spain in 1983. The Russian aspect was directly inspired by Gorky Park, and the WW2 setting very much by reading Angus Calder’s The People’s War. Knowing some Russian helped.

I dreamt up Black Out as a screenplay. The following year, back in England,
my agent told me “Forget it. Too damn costly.” This was long before CGI, and, as a friend put it, meant ‘taking down half the TV aerials in London.’
I began to think of it as a novel. And I thunk and thunk and thunk.

In 1987 for no reason I can think of I sat down and typed (on an old Olivetti, this was just pre-Mac) two chapters which Hodder declined.

In 1992 I wanted a year off from the day job at Channel 4. I finished Black Out in about 9 months, gave it to Ion Trewin at Weidenfeld (the same editor who had turned it down at Hodders) and he ran with it. Then I buggered off to Palestine to make a short film for Channel 4.

Ages before publication it became clear Weidenfeld expected a sequel.
I’d gone back to the day job, and was working in Washington DC for ITV.
I had not a shred of an idea for a sequel. What I had was a large cast of characters — a modus operandi that seems to be my norm, and, as such, infinitely mineable for that bit more. I was not going to write about WW2 again. What I needed was a date and a subject, a canvas big enough for Troy, Rod, Onions and Wildeve to strut across.

Cut to the second bottle of champagne in the Willard hotel. I am competing for the Nobel prize in futility, ie. trying to drink Gore Vidal under the table. As bottle #2 goes nose down in the bucket he says, “Suez. That has to be your next subject.” He was right. 1956 it was. I called the book Wild Again which didn’t hit the mark at Weidenfeld so it became Old Flames.

That led, almost logically, to 1963 for A Little White Death … and my rep company grew and grew. The audio versions are read by the Canadian actor Lewis Hancock (the few that aren’t were voiced the late Sara Coward, to whom Friends & Traitors is dedicated). Lewis e-mailed me from Montreal a few weeks before recording one book with, “I’m only two thirds in and you’ve already got me doing 73 different voices.” Never counted, but I believe him. I am unlikely to write a chamber piece and seem stuck with Troy concertos.

To roll Troy forward into the sixties was not what I wanted to do. Ariana Franklin said, “The way you write is bloody infuriating … a bit here .. a bit there … never A-Z, but you could apply that to the series. Start filling in the gaps.” I’ve been doing that ever since — 1959, 1948, 1940, 1941 and so on, up to now when I’ve hit 1958 with Friends and Traitors — and if I were to be asked what I’m doing I might reply: “I write about a far from typical London copper. A devious bastard with criminal tendencies and the conscience of a steppen wolf. As such crime and solution were never going do the trick … Troy’s cases always lead him into the spook world. Usually as their nemesis. The Troy novels are historical, romantic, spook novels liberally splashed with a coat of noir.”

John Lawton
Wiki Page

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Friends and Traitors blog poster

Anne Bonny #BlogTour #GuestPost & #Extract Can’t Get You Out Of My Head by @thatsueshepherd #NewRelease @CorazonBooks Sisters, secrets and second chances. . . .

Can't Get You Out of My Head artwork by Sue Shepherd 120318
Can’t Get You Out Of My Head by Sue Shepherd

A moving and funny story about sisters, secrets and second chances.

Twin sisters Beth and Lisa do everything together, so what will happen now they both want a life of their own?

Beth has a secret she’s kept from everyone except her sister. But it’s time to get on with her life. Could a seductive Italian, a smooth-talking charmer or backpacking around Australia be the answer?

Lisa feels she’s always lived in her sister’s shadow. Maybe now it’s her turn for some fun, whatever the consequences. But will her drunken antics land Beth in trouble?

And when it comes to the crunch, will one sister have to give up what she wants so the other can have what she needs?

Guest Post – Inspiration:

‘Can’t Get You Out of My Head’ is the story of twin sisters, Beth and Lisa. Growing up, they’re very close and Beth is happy to share everything with her twin. When they’re ten, an accident at their birthday party disturbs Beth. But, as always, Lisa is there to comfort her and lull her off to sleep at bedtime. However, as Beth approaches adulthood, finding it more and more difficult to share everything with Lisa, she decides it’s time to start making a life for herself – alone.

Tired of living in her twin sister’s shadow, Lisa also makes a decision. It’s finally her turn to have some fun. She’s coming out into the spotlight, whatever the consequences.

What was the inspiration for the book?

When I began writing ‘Can’t Get You Out of My Head’ I had no idea where the story would take me. Initially, I simply decided to include a couple of events from my own life. For example; for Beth and Lisa’s tenth birthday, their dad, Don, makes them a homemade paddling pool. Temperatures are soaring, and all around the neighbourhood the conversation revolves around the drought and the hosepipe ban. Don is too scared to fill the pool more than a few inches, knowing his neighbour ‘Grumpy Jack’ would think nothing of dobbing him in. This part of the story was based on my own tenth birthday. Being born in the summer of 1966, it means, of course, that my tenth birthday took place during what became known as ‘the long hot summer of ’76’. I have such strong memories of my sister and I jumping in and out of that small homemade pool. Our dad was also a nervous wreck, and, like Don, he turned the tap off after just five minutes.
The other part of the story that’s based on my own memories is the backpacking trip to Australia. After a harrowing experience at the age of seventeen, the twins decide to take a trip to Australia with their friend, Michelle. Some of the things that happen in Australia are based on the experiences of either myself or people that I met whilst there. Reading through my Aussie diaries conjured up many memories.

Why twins?

I knew that I wanted to write about sisters. Being one of two sisters myself, it’s a relationship I felt confident to write about. But I’ve always been rather interested in twins. Usually we spend the first part of our lives alone in the womb, and I find it fascinating that twins share those very important nine months.

Who is Michelle?

Michelle is Beth’s best friend. They meet when they are Primary School age. They are kindred spirits. Beth has her troublesome twin, Lisa, to contend with and Michelle has her overbearing mother. When, at the age of ten, the girls take a bit of fun slightly too far, Beth is forced to summons up all her courage, and risks a slap when standing up to Michelle’s mum. Eventually, freeing herself from the situation, she calls on her nanna to put Michelle’s mum firmly in her place. Throughout the book Beth and Michelle’s friendship goes through highs and lows. But, there are moments of great tenderness and devotion between them. It’s a friendship to be proud of.

What genre does the book fall into?

It’s a romcom. It centres around the tempestuous connection between the twins. But, with a seductive Italian and a charming backpacker up for grabs, it also includes a little bit of naughtiness. It touches on some difficult and relevant topics, with sensitivity and humour. As well as this, the story includes all the usual shenanigans and dramas associated with a busy, loving family. Ultimately, ‘Can’t Get You Out of My Head’ has, at its heart, a touching romance. Hopefully my readers will laugh, cry and urge the characters on to achieve the things they deserve.

Is there a twist?

I’ve always enjoyed that slight ‘other world’ feel to a story. One of my favourite films is ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’, which of course includes a look at how life would’ve been if George Bailey had never been born.
My first novel was a tongue in cheek look at guardian angels. Sometimes written from the point of view of the overworked angels, who have the unenviable task of watching over us. I enjoyed creating a world that was not just inhabited by humans.
My second, told the tale of a decision and its two alternative outcomes. Two possibilities intertwined, kind of like the movie ‘Sliding Doors’. I’ve always been intrigued by the idea that there could be more than one world, running simultaneously, where a seemingly inconsequential choice can change the future of those closest to us.

So, as you can see, I enjoy writing novels where things are not quite as they first appear, and ‘Can’t Get You Out of My Head,’ is no different.

What is the twist?

Well, now … that would be telling!


Beth was getting out of her car when she heard a familiar voice behind her. ‘Beth Campbell, are you stalking me?’
She spun round, a smile already on her face. ‘Charlie Morris, you wally!’ He held his arms open and she ran to him. ‘When did you get back?’
‘Just over a week ago. Thought I’d come and see you, and, um … and … catch up with Michelle.’
‘You were away for ages.’
‘Yeah. I’ve been gone so long my face ought to be on milk cartons.’ He grinned, then added, ‘Don’t say it …’
‘That my face ought to be on bog rolls!’
‘I would never say such a thing.’ Beth gave his chin a stroke. ‘Your bum fluff hasn’t improved much.’
‘Nonsense. This is a brilliant beard,’ Charlie snorted.
She’d missed his laugh. ‘Michelle doesn’t live in Tennison Avenue any more. She moved out of her mum’s house.’
‘No one can blame her for that.’ He shuddered. ‘Bloody hell. Her mother. Meddling cow!’
‘Absolutely. Michelle’s not far though. She rents a flat with Ricky.’
‘OK. Cool.’
‘Do you want to go for a drink or something? You know, to catch up.’
He gave a casual shrug. ‘Yeah, sure.’
‘I’ll just need to pop in and tell them I’m going out, they were expecting me for dinner.’ Beth gestured towards her parents’ house. ‘Fancy coming in, to see them?’
Again, he was casual. ‘Uh huh.’
She opened the front door and called out, ‘Look who I found loitering outside the house.’
Pat and Don appeared at the kitchen doorway. Don blanched and dropped the tea towel he’d been holding. ‘Oh, Christ.’
‘Is that little Charlie Morris?’ Pat had a closer look.
‘Yep, it’s me. All grown up.’
‘You’re not wrong. How are you?’ She was staring up at him, amazed at his size.
‘I’m good, thanks. Just back from Singapore for a while.’ Charlie held out his hand to Don. ‘Hello.’ With a slightly nervous cough, he added, ‘I’m OK, honest I am.’
Realising he’d been staring, with his mouth open, Don apologised and shook the hand he’d been offered. ‘Sorry, son, it’s just, you know. I can’t help remembering …’
At this point, Nanna came down the stairs. ‘Who’s this, then?’ Examining Charlie’s face, she grabbed the bull by the horns and said, ‘It’s the boy who nearly died. Blimey, you didn’t get like that eating salad, did you?’ Turning to Pat she remarked, ‘You’d never be able to pick him up out of that paddling pool now, would you?’
Charlie grinned. ‘Hello, Nanna. It’s good to see you again.’
‘We’re going to pop out for a drink to catch up. Don’t worry about me for dinner, Mum, I’ll get something whilst we’re out.’ Beth grabbed her handbag and made her way over to the hall mirror. Applying an extra coat of mascara and some fresh lipstick, she then set about adding some cover up to the scars on her chin, a constant reminder not to listen to Lisa’s advice.
‘OK. Just the two of you, is it?’ Pat asked.
Beth looked at Charlie. ‘Um … Charlie wants to catch up with Michelle too.’
‘Well, we don’t have to … I just …’
‘He had no intention of catching up with her, you idiot. Can’t you tell when someone wants to be alone with you?’ Lisa asked.
‘He mentioned her first. I’m just going along with his plan.’
Beth gave Nanna a hug. ‘See you later.’
‘Have fun with the big fella.’
‘You know something, Nanna?’ Charlie said. ‘You haven’t changed a bit.’
Nanna tilted her head. ‘Nonsense, I’ve aged like a sausage in the sun, but thank you anyway.’

Sue Shepherd author photo
Sue Shepherd
Author Bio:
Born in Harrow, Sue went on to spend several years living in Hertfordshire before selling up and taking a leap of faith across The Solent. She now resides on the picturesque Isle of Wight with her husband, two sons and a standard poodle. Her passions in life are: her family, writing, the seaside and all the beautiful purple things her sons have bought her over the years. Happiest when hunched over her laptop with a cup of tea on the go, Sue loves to create stories with plenty of heart and laughs, but she makes sure to include a bit of naughtiness too. Ask Sue to plan too far in advance and you’ll give her the heebie-jeebies and she’d prefer you not to mention Christmas until at least November!

***My review to follow this month, but check out the other fabulous bloggers on the blog tour***
Sue Shepherd Blog Tour
Also by Sue Shepherd:

For more details, see the authors website. Happy Monday reading!




Anne Bonny #News from @ObliteratiPress #GuestPost by @daveocelot #DebutNovel The Baggage Carousel – Why I Travel. . . . .

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The Baggage Carousel by David Olner

Dan Roberts has a troubled past, anger management issues and a backpack named after an abducted heiress. A chance encounter with Amber, a free-spirited Australian girl, seems to give his solitary, nomadic life a new sense of direction. But when she doesn’t respond to his emails, the only direction he’s heading is down…

Guest Post:

Why I Travel

It was Dumaguete, The Philippines. It was a Sunday morning and felt like it, hot and hardly worth bothering with. I was hanging out of my arse like a prolapse. Staring morbidly at a breakfast burrito in the outdoor seating area of a faux-Mexican cantina, poking it periodically with a fork in the hope it might deflate. Across the road, the snuffed-out neon signage of the “Why Not?” nightclub served as a dulled reminder of my most recent fall from grace. It takes a lot to get thrown out of a nightclub in the Philippines, but I had somehow managed it just a few hours earlier, for reasons I did not, or chose not to, recall.
The looped mariachi music scraping against my brain was punctuated by a beeping horn. I registered it dully at first, thinking the track was segueing into a mash-up. But when I looked up from my plate a Geordie bloke I vaguely remembered doing shots with the night before had pulled up on his scooter. He was wearing one of those striped blue and white t shirts that people always seem to wear when they ride scooters abroad. He looked entirely too healthy and well-adjusted to fit into my vista and I wanted to wave him off to one side, so I could better take a mental photograph of my latest, self-imposed hell.
“Howay, man,” he declared stereotypically. “I’m off to buy some pork. Landlady’s gonna make lechon. Wanna come?”
I looked at him, looked at the burrito and looked at the sign across the road.
“Why not?” I replied.
We got lost on the way, nearly hit some churchgoers who got to practice their genuflections early, only made it to the fabled pork district of the city when most of the carcasses had already been ravaged. Out of all the roadside stalls, the only thing left was a single pig’s head that smiled up at us beatifically, as though we had come to deliver it from the flies.
“This is the very best part of the pig for making lechon,” the stallholder insisted.
“How come it’s still here, then?” asked the Geordie.
The man shrugged and plucked a stray hair from the pig’s face, blew it from his finger and wished us away.
We paid for the head, like a lot of men do in the Philippines. Got lost again on the way back, ended up blocked in by a crowd of local blokes heading to the cockfight arena.
“Wanna go?” the Geordie, whose name I couldn’t and still can’t remember, asked.
“Why not?” I said.
We sat in the arena, pretending to savour warm, wet beers that made us dry heave, the men looking over at us and winking as they washed their cocks. Then we watched magnificent birds set against each other like gladiators in a manky coliseum, biting and scratching each other to near death to appease the bloodlust of these men. Between us, on the rough wooden bleachers, was a smiling pig’s face in a plastic bag. Throughout the slaughter I would set my hand upon it occasionally, to steady myself. As though I were a pensive Hamlet, regarding Yorick’s skull.
“How’s the head?” asked the Geordie.
“Fine,” I replied, not knowing if he was enquiring after the pig’s welfare or mine.
Whenever people ask me why I travel, this is the first thing I think of. But I don’t tell them about it. I think of something prettier. Angkor Wat at dawn, maybe, or that herd of elephants crossing the Luangwa river at sunset in Zambia. The young calf falling back, lost in the new joy of swinging its trunk in the shallow water, until an elder doubled back and hurried it along. That Sunday morning in the Philippines wasn’t the most edifying experience of my life. Looking back on it now, it was actually fairly horrendous. But it was about doing something different, something ludicrous, even. It was about inhabiting a particular moment in a particular place, a moment that couldn’t be replicated anywhere else. A moment you wouldn’t find if you stayed at home, binge-watching box-sets on Netflix and waiting for the Ocado driver to finally get out of his fucking van that’s been parked at the end of your driveway for ten minutes and is making your UPVC windows rattle to deliver the salted caramel lamb cutlets that Jan from work posted pictures of on Instagram and buying more and more things to better pad your beautiful cell. Saving all your money to upgrade that thousand-inch flat screen into a two thousand-inch curved screen and covertly praying they never invent a 360 screen. Money that could be much better spent pissed up a wall in a skanky nightclub in the Philippines, or on fly-blown pig’s heads or cockfights.
It was about saying, “Why not?”

David Olner
Obliterati Press website