4 February – 8 April 2021
Due to the current Covid19 situation, it has become increasingly clear that I will be unable to host a physical book launch and signing for ‘Jude & Bliss’ anytime soon. Nothing like a friendly gathering in a cosy pub, with a crowd of good people, as with previous occasions.
However, with this rapidly increasing age of the internet and modern technology, the way books are marketed is changing. Unlike conventional book tours, a blog tour is a virtual tour on several relevant blog sites hosted by professional and renowned book critics, whose opinions and Amazon/Goodreads reviews, often dictate what happens to books in the international sales and rating charts.
A virtual book or blog tour consists of lining up a series of book bloggers to review a newly released book (and/or conduct author interviews) during a time frame that corresponds with the release of a title. It is, as the name suggests, the internet version of an old-fashioned, in-the-flesh book tour.
Independent authors, like myself, are finding this comparatively new concept of book promotion quite valuable. It is hoped this will give ‘Jude & Bliss’ some extra exposure. I wrote it, I published it, and now I owe it to myself to get as many people as possible to know about it!
4 February - The Writing Desk https://tonyriches.blogspot.com/
11 February - Candlelight Reading https://candlelightreadinguk.blogspot.com/
18 February - Let Your Words Shine… https://maryannbernal.blogspot.com/
25 February - Oh look, another book! https://ohlookanotherbook.blogspot.com/
4 March - The Whispering Bookworm https://thewhisperingbookworm.blogspot.com/
11 March - Zoe’s Art, Craft & Life https://craftygasheadzo.blogspot.com/
18 March - The Historical Fiction Blog https://mercedesrochelle.com/fiction/
25 March - Historical Fiction With Spirit https://jennifercwilsonwriter.wordpress.com/
1 April - B for Book Review https://bforbookreview.wordpress.com/
8 April - Emma Lombard’s Official Blog https://www.emmalombardauthor.com/blog
Many people believe writing is only for authors, journalists, poets, bloggers etc., but it is there for all and if you suffer from a mental health issue, it can help.
I have touched on my need for the therapeutic use of writing since I was around fifteen-years-old and most recently amplified this during the current coronavirus pandemic on local radio. I believe we all come into life as potential writers and, as that famous saying goes, everyone does have a book in them, even if it is just their own story.
Writing is beneficial because it can be therapeutic. Writing can harness our thoughts and feelings and act as a filter for the parts inside our minds, which we may choose, or not, to share and discuss.
Most of us speak in jingles, not complete sentences. In conversation, we are often interrupted. Whilst writing, we can, through creativity and imagination, complete a sentence and ultimately a whole story or poem. You will feel a sense of achievement or self-satisfaction—something you may not realise in everyday life, for example.
Writing is an escape from reality. It has many genres and styles and is *FREE*.
You may not think you are a writer. Don’t worry. Practice! You don’t even need to share your writing. Write a letter to yourself. Invent a character. They will become your friend.
By writing, you will discover your inner self. You will find yourself speaking through your written words via an alternative dimension. You will even become the protagonist in your own story. In a sense, you will discover who you really are. When writing, you will believe some other entity is controlling you. You will discover this is your sub-conscience, your creative soul inside you!
You can choose your comfort zone. Explore the genres until you find the one you want. If you don’t have the confidence to speak out loud, either to just one person or a crowd, writing will give you the vehicle to move forward. You can become an expert on your chosen subject by writing non-fiction. You can become the master of an invention by choosing to become a fiction author, for instance.
What you write will become your identity, especially if you decide to publish. It will give you self-esteem and give you a healthier mind, body and spirit connection. You will find yourself creating a strong relationship between your inner profile and your body’s outward movement.
We all have emotions; a large number of us suffer from mental health issues. There are fears and worries, even memories that cause, stress, anxiety and depression. Writing can steer us away from these and offer some much-needed respite from our day to day demons.
Writing can be a career or just a part-time hobbyist occupation. It can be incredibly powerful when wishing to express yourself. Embrace it and remember, writing is therapy, and it could just save your life!
Did you know Mal runs a FREE low key ‘Writing as Therapy’ workshop? If you would like to learn more, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Anyone who has read 'Jude & Bliss' would have seen the reference in my author note to Emily Jane Popejoy, a young girl from Bagshot, Surrey who left her family home to take up a position in domestic service at a prestigious address in Victorian London.
I first became aware of Emily’s plight in 1994 when I visited the Surrey Heath Museum’s stand at the annual summer fayre in Bisley. The story somehow stuck and eventually proved to be the inspiration behind my latest novel.
Emily Jane, known locally as just Jane, was the sixth child of George Popejoy, a carpenter, and his wife Rose, of Jenkins Hill, Bagshot. Like many young girls across the country, on leaving school she went into domestic service, eventually taking a position with a Mrs Camilla Nicholls at 14 Pitt Street, Kensington in 1896.
It was clear I could never fully base my new book on Emily's 19th-century situation. The real facts were unclear and there were also the moral implications to consider. I had to respect her immediate family and their descendants, as well as her legacy which is now a strong part of Surrey folklore.
‘Jude & Bliss’ draws on the worst-case scenario, indeed, during my research, I discovered numerous young girls and women had suffered abuse and had even died at the hands of their employers. Fortunately, but far too late for some, government legislation was put in place just after the turn of the century to prevent further exploitation by those employing domestic servants. 'Jude & Bliss', is just one girl's tragic story. BUY NOW
As stated in the synopsis, ‘Jude & Bliss’, is NOT for the faint-hearted.
Pic: Emily Popejoy's grave & memorial at Bagshot Cemetery
I was very saddened to learn of the passing of fellow Woking author, Toby J. Cole early in September this year. Toby leaves behind a wife and three adult children.
Toby Cole and I never formerly met; however, we did correspond via email and social media and he kindly afforded me a complimentary copy of his debut novel, Beyond the Pales back in 2014. The book is a crime thriller set predominately at Brookwood Cemetery, and in and around Woking, Surrey. Toby who lived near me in Knaphill also penned a collection of short stories entitled The Assassination of Hilary Mantel.
The Booker Prize winner, Mantel lived in a penthouse at the former Brookwood Hospital in the village, indeed, “just a stone’s throw,” from where Toby lived.
Toby spent the first six years of his working life as a registered nurse before joining the Metropolitan Police. Later in his career, he conducted police mentoring in Iraq and armed protection in Afghanistan. Like myself, he took up story writing after taking early retirement.
If you live in Woking and enjoy reading books set in and around the local area, then Beyond the Pales is for you.
About the book: Why is a Forensic Anthropologist murdered in the largest cemetery in Western Europe? Detective Superintendent Pandora Kingdom needs to find out and fast. As well as battling the killer, she has her own demons to deal with. She lost her arm and leg while police mentoring in Afghanistan. Does she still have the strength for the hunt? Assisted by Steve Bridger, an MI5 agent, Guy Hobbs a History professor and the ghost of the soldier who died when she was blown up. She soon finds out that she has choices to make and needs to know who is really on her side. The killer’s trail leads to a secret research laboratory in Porton Down where the victim worked. Is she following the right trail? What experiments are really going on in the woods there? Why does a police inspector kill himself? and what is the link that leads her back to Brookwood Cemetery, as the body count begins to rise. A cemetery that holds a quarter of a million dead souls holds many secrets. What do an order of Orthodox Monks guard so carefully? What are the fields of graves and mausoleums hiding within them? What is driving the killer on? Pandora Kingdom thinks she knows. Does she have the strength left to risk everything? Or have the parts of herself, left on the dusty fields of Afghanistan, taken more than she can give.
Kirkus Review: A debut crime thriller in which a forensic scientist is found murdered in England’s enormous Brookwood Cemetery. Pandora Kingdom is a talented homicide detective in Surrey, England. She’s also a double amputee, having lost an arm and leg to a bomb in Afghanistan. Over 20 years solving murders, however, has made her a tough, go-to detective, so she’s assigned to the case of Susan Thompson. The victim, a forensic scientist with an interest in body decomposition, was found in Brookwood Cemetery. She was shot in the head and her hands were nailed to a gravestone. At the crime scene, Pandora teams with MI5 agent Steve Bridger, who informs her that Susan researched, among other things, how chemical weapons affect pig corpses (since it’s illegal to use human bodies). Eventually, the investigators learn that Susan was fairly promiscuous - with both men and women - and enjoyed living beyond her means. Large money transfers in and out of Susan’s bank account and a storage unit (filled with strange, telling contents) point toward why someone might have killed her. But as fresh bodies begin piling up, the case assumes greater urgency. Did Susan die for the selling of government secrets, angering a lover or both? Debut author Cole begins this new crime series in a striking locale and imbues the narrative with generous historical and police procedural knowledge. The immediately likeable Pandora thrives in a male-dominated field without being completely humourless, like when she asks, “Are you checking out my wooden leg Mr. Bridger?” There’s also a touch of whimsy in scenes when she speaks with the ghost of a soldier named Daniel Sutton. And while the trope of a promiscuous victim is familiar, Cole handles it with subtlety. The narrative’s main flaw is that the punctuation occasionally slips (“What is with, the red tape?”). These moments don’t detract from a smartly paced tale, however, thick with chilly ambience and some thoroughly shocking deaths. The second volume will be eagerly awaited. A truly instructive debut characterized by heart, wit and restraint.
You can find the book on Amazon HERE
When I started writing ‘An Invisible Nemesis’ in July 2017, little did I know that three months into the process, a real life event would interrupt the project...
I had already decided to set my new conspiracy and murder thriller on the beautiful Maltese island of Gozo, a paradise I have visited frequently and somewhere I have always called my second home. The book tells the story of the calculated murder of a hard-nosed but much-loved investigative journalist called Suzanne Camilleri who was investigating a possible cover up involving the well documented death of Diana, Princess of Wales which had happened over twenty years earlier. The tale involves the Sicilian mafia and both the governments of the UK and Malta.
On Monday 16 October 2017 news came through that the popular but often controversial Maltese journalist and blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia had been assassinated in a car bomb attack near her home. Daphne was also a writer and anti-corruption activist who had reported on a number of political events in her own country. In particular, she focused on investigative reporting into government corruption, patronage, allegations of money laundering and much more.
For my part, it was time for a bit of soul-searching. Why had a real life event collided with my latest heady excursion into fiction? Indeed, like my key character in ‘An Invisible Nemesis’, Daphne had been killed just for doing her job, something which can never be acceptable. It's also worrying to think that according to recently released figures, ninety-five international journalists died in 2018 alone.
As an author of fiction and one with a conscience, I now had a dilemma. Should I shelve my new book or continue writing the story I had been harbouring for years? After all, there were so many parallels aligned with Daphne’s gruesome murder and a vital plot in my manuscript. It all felt more than just a coincidence. In the end I decided to bite the proverbial bullet, tread carefully and eventually publish.
Today, the investigation into Daphne's murder continues but without much support from the Government of Malta, the same government that is unbelievably bringing at least forty-eight libel suits against Daphne two years after her death which in a way tells it own story. To date, three men have been arrested for her killing but the person said to have ordered it, mysteriously remains at large. A cover up? - A conspiracy? I tend to think so... Daphne’s ultimate sacrifice for simply telling the truth must NOT be in vain.
You can find out more about Daphne’s life, her achievements and her untimely death @ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daphne_Caruana_Galizia
On Thursday 5 December 2019, following the arrest of a prominent businessman for complicity for murder and suggestions that Malta's Prime Minister Joseph Muscat was implicated in a cover up, Simon Busuttil, opposition Leader, MEP and former leader of the country's PN Labour Party stated, “This is worse than a murder, worse than an assassination. It is STATE-SPONSORED TERRORISM where the organs of the state, directed from Castille, aided and abetted the killing of a journalist. Then, they left NO STONE UNTURNED to make sure that the whole thing was COVERED UP!”