Dark Tides Blog Tour – With Chris Ewan

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Today, as part of the blog tour for Dark Tides, I’m pleased to welcome author Chris Ewan to the blog, talking about writing from a female perspective.

Over to Mr Ewan….

 

Writing From a Female Perspective

 

Write what you know. It’s popular advice. And like a lot of popular advice, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

What do I know – and I mean really know – that I’m in a position to feel absolutely confident writing about? I used to be a lawyer, which you might think would come in handy for a crime writer, except I wasn’t a criminal lawyer, and there’s not much call for novels about film law or pensions administration. I can drive a car as well as the next person, but I’ve never been in a high speed chase or attempted to tail someone without being spotted. I’ve got angry from time to time, even rageful on occasion, but I’ve never lashed out at anyone, let alone killed somebody. I’m average. I’m ordinary. Most writers are. But I don’t want to write about the average or the ordinary, and you don’t want to read about it, so I make stuff up.

I’ve written about burglars. I’ve written about assassins and hostage negotiators; about spies and police officers; about motorbike riders, plumbers, paraplegics, magicians and showgirls. I’ve never been any of those things. Never even tried out on a Vegas stage. And of course that doesn’t matter, because like you, I have this nifty special power known as imagination. I can put myself in other people’s shoes, just like we all do from time to time, and I can imagine what it would be like to be on the run from rogue British Intelligence agents, or searching for the answers to the unsolved murder of a loved one.

This fiction business is strange. You go along quite happily, inventing whole other worlds, completely made-up characters, and then suddenly you do something that seems to draw a little more attention to the act itself.

Like, for instance, writing as a male author from the perspective of a female character.

In Dark Tides, my new book, pretty much all of the novel is narrated in first person perspective by the character of Claire Cooper. (The only alternative material is some second person narration from the perspective of a killer). And that shouldn’t, I don’t think, be any more noteworthy than narrating a book by a male character, or by an alien, or a dragon.

And yet it is.

It is, for one thing, because it’s something people tend to notice or remark on. A couple of early reviews of Dark Tides have already made reference to this, in fact.

But it’s also something I was conscious of myself when I began work on the book. Early on, I knew the only way to get to the guts of the story I wanted to tell was to narrate Dark Tides from Claire’s perspective because she was at the heart of everything for me. And truthfully, that made me nervous. Hell, I’m always nervous when I begin a new book, but this was a subject my anxiety could latch right on to.

Why? A couple of reasons, I think.

First, how could I find Claire’s voice – which is always the hardest step for me – when I had no idea what it could feel like to be a teenage girl or a young woman, to have my mother go missing, to grow up alone with my dad, to be isolated from other girls my own age, to work as a female police officer among male colleagues?

And two, I felt like I was painting a target on myself if I handled the narration insensitively in some way, if I made a crass error, or if Claire didn’t come across as authentic or credible. It stands to reason that the hazards of these potential errors should apply to every character an author writes about, though somehow they seem, or perhaps just feel, amplified when a male author writes from a female point of view.

As an aside, I think it’s also true, though I don’t know why, that it’s much less remarked on when female writers narrate novels from the perspective of male characters. Perhaps they just do a better job.

In any case, the point is that in writing Dark Tides, it became something I was very conscious of.

So what did I do differently? Not a great deal. I guess my confidence got dented a few more times than it ordinarily might. I think perhaps I provided fewer physical descriptions of Claire or her body than I’ve done in the past when I’ve written from the perspective of male characters. Other than that, I did what I always do. I tried to empathise with the character I’d created, to understand the emotions Claire was experiencing at a given moment, to get a solid grip on her motivations. And then I ran with it.

Did I do a good job? That’s impossible for me to say. But one thing I can tell you is that I think Claire is the most complex, most rounded character I’ve ever created. I miss writing about her and from her perspective. And I very much hope you might enjoy making her acquaintance.

 

DARK TIDES by Chris Ewan is out now, £14.99 (Faber & Faber)

My Review:

 

When Claire Cooper was eight years old her mother mysteriously vanished during Hop-tu-naa, the Manx Halloween. At fourteen, Claire is still struggling to come to terms with her disappearance when she’s befriended by a group of five teenagers who mark every Hop-tu-naa by performing dares. But Claire’s arrival begins to alter the group’s dynamic until one year a prank goes terribly wrong, changing all their futures and tearing the friends apart.

I’ve been a fan of Mr Ewan’s thrillers since Safe House – particularly because he always brings something different to the table with each new novel so you know you are in for a treat (or a trick?) every time, you are just not sure what kind of treat it might be..

In the case of “Dark Tides” the treat was this – one of my favourite types of story (past events invading current happenings) done with this authors particular style, using some terrifically drawn characters facing some terrifying circumstances, all wrapped up in an often scary package – perfect Halloween reading.

Pretty perfectly constructed, we go between past and present to paint a picture of the things that have shaped Claire Cooper – losing her Mother at a young age, growing up fairly insular and isolated but finally finding some really good friends. Sometimes however, friendship can be harmful and this group of eclectic and impulsive characters may not be the best thing for Claire. As events spiral out of control and she faces down a killer, it is compelling stuff and you will be hooked.

I VERY much enjoyed finding out more about the Manx version of Halloween, with all its similarites yet with a deep and imaginative mythology that lent itself brilliantly to the tale being told, giving a perfect backdrop to the often creepy and haunting events. Each of the characters has a heart and a voice all their own, Claire is especially likeable even as she does some rather idiotic things. There are not TOO many male authors who can pull off such an authentic female voice but Chris Ewan is one of them, she is someone you will want to follow along with and will root for all the way.

The mystery element is also intelligently done – ok, so the author did not manage to “trick” me but there were some fascinating insights into a heart full of darkness and an exellent flow to the proceedings, one of those books that keeps you up in the night and leaves you bleary eyed the next morning. I loved it – my favourite so far without a doubt and most definitely Highly Recommended.

 

Find out more here: http://chrisewan.com/

Follow the author on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/chrisewan

Order information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dark-Tides-Chris-Ewan/dp/0571307434/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1412675533&sr=1-1&keywords=dark+tides+chris+ewan

Eren by Simon P Clark. Blog Tour Stop.

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Publication Date: Available Now

Source: Publisher Review Copy.

People are keeping secrets from Oli – about where his father is, and why he hasn’t come to join them at his uncle’s house in the country.

But Oli has secrets too.

He knows what lives in the attic. Eren – part monster, part dream, part myth. Eren who always seems so interested, who always wants to hear more about Oli’s life. Eren, who needs to hear stories to live, and will take them from Oli, no matter the cost.

This was a gorgeous looking little novel with some wonderful illustrations and inside the pages a fairytale with a twist.

A beautifully written and haunting piece, where reality blurs into fiction while fiction can take over reality, it is an off kilter read with an eerie and nostalgic feel that holds you in a spell all of its own. I loved it and was disturbed by it in equal measure and even now a while after finishing, it stays with me.

Oli moves to the country with his mother, meets new friends but knows something is not right. As he tells stories to Eren, a creature in the attic, things clarify – or do they?  It is an intelligent tale to be sure – even now I would not like to tell you whether Eren is friend or foe, real or imagined, this is a winding road with many surprises and no promise of a happy ending. Some absolutely gorgeous prose adds to the overall magical feel, whilst some very down to earth and realistic themes are explored.

A wonderful read, no doubt about it, with some unforgettable characters and a world with no boundaries, if you like your fiction to grab you by the heartstrings and refuse to let go, this one is definitely for you. Highly Recommended.

Found out more here: http://www.simonpclark.com/

Follow the author on Twitter: https://twitter.com/sipclark

Purchase Information (I highly recommend you get a “real” book it is stunning) http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/products/simon+p-+clark/eren/10333816/

Happy Reading Folks!

 

Crushed Blog Tour – Guest Post from Eliza Crewe.

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I am very pleased to welcome Eliza Crewe to the blog today – I have not yet had a chance to read her novels, but I am very much looking forward to them and her story is interesting – originally with a publisher until they closed their doors, she had embarked on a mission to self publish, most especially for her readers who having read Book One were REALLY keen to read the follow up…

 

Eliza Crewe: The Path to Self-Publishing

I never planned to self-publish. I’d planned to go about publishing the tried-and-true route–get an agent, then a publishing deal, maybe sell a few international rights, publish the sequels, etc. Plod down the straight and narrow.

Instead my publishing path has been as warped as the morals of my people-eating monster MC.

Step 1

The Plan: Get an Agent

The Reality: Accidentally sell book in India

I queried agents (a lot of agents) and bombed spectacularly. Every single agent rejected me, most (if not all–I blocked the memory) sent a form rejection. It wasn’t going so well.

Then, just by chance, a stranger in India read a version Cracked I posted to an online critique forum. He liked it, and is friends with an editor at Penguin’s Indian branch, so he forwarded it on to her. She emailed shortly thereafter and offered for Cracked’s Indian rights.

Step 2

The Plan: Find a domestic publisher

The Reality: Find an agent

Months before anything happened with India, I had participated in an online competition called The Baker’s Dozen at Miss Snark’s First Victim’s blog. The Baker’s Dozen is a competition where agents bid to read pages on entries that they’re interested in (it happens every year, and is just about to start–so go check it out!). It doesn’t mean the winning agent will sign you, just that they’ll read a certain number of pages and consider the possibility. The agent who won my entry, Victoria Marini, was sort-of-maybe interested. She asked to see revisions, and I was waiting to see what she thought of those when India offered. Fortunately, the India offer tipped her over the edge, and she took me on.

Step 3

The Plan: Sell international rights

The Reality: Sell domestic Rights

Since I already had an international deal, the next step was to find a domestic publisher. I was in an odd position in that Penguin India wanted to publish Cracked fast, as in, 6-months fast, (for comparison, most US publishers take at least two years to publish). PI was launching their first YA-only imprint in the spring and wanted Cracked to be an inaugural title. As a result, we needed to sell Cracked fast, preferably to a publisher with a short turn-around, so I wouldn’t be releasing book 3 in India before book 1 was ever released in the US.

Fortunately we were able to sell the rest of Cracked’s rights to Strange Chemistry, the YA imprint of Sci-fi/Fantasy publisher Angry Robot, and they agreed to release it shortly after Penguin India.

Step 4

The Plan: Smooth sailing–Fulfill my contract by traditionally publishing my series

The Reality: Up the creek without a paddle–Strange Chemistry folded

We signed in September of 2012 with Penguin, then October with Strange Chemistry. Cracked was released in India in April, then in November in the rest of the world. I turned in my drafts of the sequel, Crushed, and everything was going along swimmingly.

Until it wasn’t.

In June, about 6 weeks before Crushed was to be released, my agent called. An agent calling (at least my agent calling–we’re email people) is either very good, or very, very bad.

It wasn’t good.

I got the news that Strange Chemistry was closing their doors and Crushed wasn’t going to be released after all. I was left six weeks before the release with no publisher, and no rights to my own books. We had a reversion clause in the contract of course, but it didn’t cover every contingency (and took time to kick in), so things were really up in the air. We were told that I would at least get the rights to Crushed back, but the person who told us that no longer worked for the publisher, and we had nothing formal. And, even if I had the rights back to Crushed, I didn’t know if Angry Robot would keep selling Cracked. I could be publishing a sequel to a book that, for all intents and purposes, no longer existed. No answers were forthcoming, so we just had to…wait. Wait and see whether Crushed would ever see the light of day.

Finally, about two months after Strange Chemistry closed, and six weeks-ish after Crushed was supposed to be released, the reversions appeared in my inbox. I’m pretty sure I squealed.

Since my fans had already been waiting forever (and because I was paranoid something else would go wrong!), I gave myself three weeks to figure out the self-publishing game and get this bad boy out there.

There is certainly a learning curve to self-publishing. There are all different platforms, all different formats you need to use, different royalty rates and different requirements for different distributers. I’m still figuring it out, but fortunately, there are a lot of awesome people out there who have already done it and are willing to share their experiences. The writing community is full of awesome folks.

Step 5

The Plan: Write books , Live Happily Ever After

The Reality: Done.

So far, my publishing story has been more of an adventure tale than a non-fiction anecdote, but that’s okay. Adventures have always been my favorite.

Thank you Eliza!

 

Find out more here: http://www.elizacrewe.com/

Follow her on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/ElizaCrewe

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Crushed-Soul-Eater-Book-2-ebook/dp/B00NQ2KX10/ref=la_B00IZNK176_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1411372552&sr=1-1

Happy Reading Folks!

Hide and Seek Blog tour with Amy Bird. Guest Post from the Author.

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Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3MYcX-ZOlM&list=UUC8gfusPVJPnlm70fV2fBZA

 

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Digital innovation in practice – the chucking structure of Hide and Seek

 

My third novel for carina uk is being sold using the relatively new digital practice of ‘chunking’. That is, it will be sold in the three parts. The first part will be free, the second 99p, the third £1.89. They will each be released a week apart.

 

In a sense, there is nothing new about chunking. It is a digital way of approaching the serialisation method that has been used ever since Dickens published instalments of his novels in newspapers. But there is one critical difference: the graduated pricing, starting from free. If you want to read part of a serialised book in a newspaper, you have to buy the newspaper. With the current digital pricing, you don’t even have to do that. The first part is completely free. All you need is your existing smartphone, e-reader, tablet or computer. This is incredibly empowering of readers – you don’t need to make any financial outlay and get a third of a book for free. This goes beyond the one chapter sample that is often available. You can then decide if you wish to invest in the next third, and then the next third. The computer games industry, and now app-developers, have been doing this for years – start with a free or ‘light’ version, let the player enjoy it, then allow them to have the full experience for a nominal fee. The digital revolution has now progressed to allow book lovers to take advantage of this model too.

 

As a writer, I admit it is slightly nerve-wracking – there is that fear that people won’t move onto the next thirds of the book. However, it is also an opportunity. You know that if you can rise to the challenge of making the first third of your book as compelling as possible and get readers hooked, chances are they will download the next chunk, and then the next.

 

Chunking may not be suited to all genres. But for my genre, psychological suspense, it has the potential to work well. Hide and Seek is about a lifetime of secrets that Will’s family have hidden from him, and his obsessional drive to uncover the truth. The chunking structure certainly focused my mind when I was editing successive drafts of book – I knew I needed to highlight the twists and have some real cliff-hangers. And in this genre, that leads to a stronger novel. It’s also exciting when the chunks reflect the novel’s (novel) structure. A piano concerto and the mysteries it conceals are at the heart of the novel, and so I wrote the novel mapped to the three-part concerto structure. Each part of the novel reflects a concerto movement. Readers, then, should have their experience of the book’s structure enhanced by focussing on the three parts.

 

For me, then, in Hide and Seek ‘chunking’ is an exciting modem approach that empowers readers, but also a literary tool that supports the work itself. Here’s hoping readers will be just as gripped as Dickens’ were.

 

 

Amy Bird

 

Amy is the author of the thrillers Three Steps Behind You and Yours Is Mine, and now Hide and Seek.

 

Having moved all over the UK as a child, she now lives in North London with her husband, dividing her time between working part-time as a lawyer and writing.

 

You can find out more at http://amybirdwrites.com or follow her on Twitter @London_writer

 

http://www.carinauk.com/amy-bird

https://www.goodreads.com/AmyBird

https://www.facebook.com/amybirdwrites

 

Created – The Destroyer. One Epic Series.

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Available NOW from Sphere

So a bit of a trip back in time here – very pleased to be part of the Blog Tour for Created the Destroyer, a literary reboot.

About the book:

 

When ex-New Jersey cop Remo Williams is electrocuted for the murder of a dope-dealing goon, CURE, a super-secret government agency that doesn’t really exist, schemes to resurrect Remo as the ultimate killing machine that will carry out most of its dirty plans. Under the direction of expert assassin Master Chiun, Remo is transformed into the Destroyer and launches a series of secret plots to dissolve the underworld.

 

 

In Visual form:

 

In 1985 the series was made into a movie: Remo – The adventure begins. And now Sony Pictures has signed up IRON MAN 3 director Shane Black to direct THE DESTROYER, a Hollywood film inspired by this legendary thriller series. Exciting!

 

Review:

So, a confession – I LOVED the now admittedly rather cheesy 1985 movie Remo, it was one of my favourites back in the day. Yes judge me all you like but I was unaware that there was actually a series of books attached to that – so when I was asked to take part in this blog tour I was intrigued to say the least.

So I dived into “Created: The Destroyer” and what I found was a short but sweet and HIGHLY entertaining read that had a marvellous mix of thrills, spills and ironic humour. It was actually terrific to live for a while in a world without mobile phones, instant communication on the net and get back to some basics – Starting off with Remo awaiting death, the opening will immediately draw you in and make you want to keep reading.

As the story progressed, I found it to actually be quite different to the movie, although the heart of it was there. The character progression for Remo was fascinating, more emotionally resonant at first he soon becomes quite dark as his whole world changes – and this first instalment sets up a world that you will definitely want to return to.

The only small problem is that a lot of action is packed into a short amount of time so occasionally you feel that you lose the characters a little – however that does not detract from the pure enjoyment this read will give you, and as it is a series there is plenty of time for more depth to develop.

Overall a terrific little read, it won’t take you long and the best thing I can say about it is that it really is true escapism.  Curl up with your tipple of choice and perhaps some chocolate (or in my case LOTS of chocolate) and enjoy!

 

To find out more: http://www.thecrimevault.com/exclusives/the-destroyer/

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Created-Destroyer-Number-Warren-Murphy-ebook/dp/B00M0KIR3U/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1409385135&sr=1-1&keywords=created+the+destroyer

 

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Happy Reading Folks!

 

 

 

The Best of Me – Nicholas Sparks. Read before you see….

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Publication Date:  Film Tie In new edition Publication Date: 11th September 2014. Original Available now from Sphere.

VERY excited to be part of the blog tour for The Best of Me – over to my lovely daughter Melissa who read and reviewed the book. Make sure you read before you see and get to know “the incredible love story behind the autumn 2014 Hollywood blockbuster starring James Marsden”.

About the Book:

They were teenage sweethearts from opposite sides of the tracks – with a passion that would change their lives for ever. But life would force them apart.

Years later, the lines they had drawn between past and present are about to slip . . . Called back to their hometown for the funeral of the mentor who once gave them shelter when they needed it most, they are faced with each other once again, and forced to confront the paths they chose. Can true love ever rewrite the past?

About the author:

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With over eighty-five million copies of his books sold, Nicholas Sparks is one of the world’s most beloved storytellers. His novels include twelve No. 1 New York Times bestsellers.

 

All Nicholas Sparks’ books have been international bestsellers and have been translated into more than forty languages. Nine of his novels have been adapted into major films: The Best of Me, Safe Haven, The Lucky One, The Last Song, Dear John, Nights in Rodanthe, Message in a Bottle, A Walk to Remember and The Notebook.
Nicholas Sparks lives in North Carolina with his wife and family.

 

Mel’s Review:

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Although this book was no doubt a cliché from start to finish, I have to admit that it had me hooked from the very first page. As Liz well knows (and this is why she passes these books along to me) I am a fan of the mushy gushy romance, and Nicholas Sparks never fails to deliver.

The tragic story of Dawson and Amanda, torn apart as teenagers due to their severely different backgrounds and then thrown together as adults following the death of a mutual friend, is the epitome of what every girl looks for in her summer read – Add in a delicious layer of crime and violence as Dawson’s ‘wrong side of the tracks’ family seeks revenge, a good bit of mystery surrounding the last wishes of Tuck, their mutual friend, and not forgetting the guardian angel type being that Dawson believes is watching over him – you won’t want to stop reading!Highly addictive.

All that aside, the romantic/broody dialogue can honestly get a little over the top, and you might find yourself thinking as if anybody would EVER say that (while simultaneously wondering why no man has ever said it to you…) but that’s not to say it isn’t a great read. Four stars from me and we will definitely be seeing the movie!

 

Find out more and sign up for the newsletter here: http://uk.nicholassparks.com/

Follow the author on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/NicholasSparks

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Best-Me-Film-Tie/dp/0751553336/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=undefined&sr=1-2&keywords=the+best+of+me+nicholas+sparks

 

Happy Reading Folks!

 

 

 

 

 

Darcie Chan – The Mill River Redemption.

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Publication Date: Available now from Sphere – Paperback or Ebook.

Source: Publisher review copy

Having unexpectedly lost her husband and lacking the means to support herself, Josie DiSanti and her two daughters take refuge in the small town of Mill River, to live with Josie’s aunt, Ivy. The sisters, Rose and Emily, are inseparable growing up – until a shocking tragedy tears them apart. 

Years later, Rose and Emily return to Mill River for the reading of their mother’s will, where they learn that Josie would do anything to force their reconciliation: the sisters must move into neighbouring houses for the summer and work together to locate the key to Josie’s safe deposit box, which contains their inheritance. And so, left with no choice, Rose and Emily reluctantly begin their search. But in a place known for its magic and miracles, little do they know that an even greater treasure awaits them . .

A beautifully written and emotional family drama with a hint of mystery to it, I absolutely loved this story, character driven and intriguing with a wonderful sense of place and time.

It was easy to immerse myself in this world as the story ebbed and flowed backwards and forwards in time to give a picture of a family – Josie brings her children to Mill River, escaping from something, we are not sure what and over the course of time settles in and becomes an integral part of the community. Sisters Rose and Emily are inseperable but something goes horribly wrong and when we meet them at their mothers funeral, they have not been together for many years. Forced into communication by the terms of Josie’s will, a voyage of discovery begins for these two girls, one that is fascinating and emotive and will keep you turning the pages desperate to know the outcome.

There is a beautiful depth and complexity to the characters here, a story of forgiveness and redemption – neither of which are easy – and Ms Chan does not offer simple straightforward solutions but rather allows her characters to speak, to learn, to develop and accept over the course of events and the passing of time.

The best things about this book for me were firstly the true sense of community within this town that the author conveys – a place I would love to live and is now as real to me as anywhere I’ve experienced in real life. Added to that were some eclectic and wonderful supporting characters – who I believe get more of a story in Ms Chan’s first novel, The Mill River Recluse, which I must go back and read. Overall this gave a realism and quirky edge to a really graceful story.

Captivating throughout, often charming, always emotional, this was a heartfelt tale elegantly told. Highly Recommended.

Find out more here: http://www.darciechan.com/

Follow the author on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/DarcieChan

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0751557285/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creative=19450&creativeASIN=0751557285&linkCode=as2&tag=shasboobou-21

 

 

 

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