PICA – COVER REVEAL

accentya logo (2)‘PICA’ – book 1 in the Gaia Trilogy – will be published in March 2016 by Accent Press.

I can now finally reveal the fantastic cover.

Pica Pica is the Latin name for magpie.  The novel is set in the modern day exploring the awakening of ancient magic and our relationship with nature.

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And … yes, that is a cover quote from the great Michael Moorcock!

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See more on the publisher’s website: http://accentya.com/

Like the Facebook Page  or become a reviewer:  https://www.facebook.com/AccentYA?pnref=story

Tim Taylor’s ‘Revolution Day’

Tim (T. E.) Taylor has a brilliant new novel out called Revolution Day. I’ve invited him here to tell you all about it, and he’s brought an extract too. His first novel, Zeus of Ithome, is a historical novel set in ancient Greece. This one has a different setting, but contains the intelligent, perceptive content and political intrigue that we’ve come to expect from Tim…

TT picHello, Jeff! Thank you for inviting me onto your blog to talk about my novel, Revolution Day, published on 30 June by Crooked Cat.

Revolution Day, my second novel, follows a year in the life of Latin American dictator, Carlos Almanzor. Now in his seventies, Carlos is feeling his age and seeing enemies around every corner. And with good reason: his Vice-President, Manuel Jimenez, though outwardly loyal, is burning with frustration at his subordinate position.

Carlos’ estranged and imprisoned wife Juanita is writing a memoir in which she recalls the revolution that brought him to power and how, once a liberal idealist, he changed over time into an autocrat and embraced repression as the means of sustaining his position.

When Manuel’s attempts to increase his profile are met with humiliating rejection, he resolves to take action. Angel, the commander of the Army, is loyal to Carlos, so Manuel must find a way to drive a wedge between them, using the resources at his disposal as Minister of Information.  As he makes his move, Juanita and others will find themselves unwittingly drawn into his plans.

In this excerpt, at a meeting of the Revolutionary Council, Manuel first plants in Carlos’ mind the idea that there is a US-backed conspiracy to overthrow him:

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Extract

The meeting had dragged on for two hours, and the air was now unpleasantly thick with cigar smoke. The attention of Angel in particular had begun to wander some time ago, and he had started to concentrate more on the brandy than upon the Agenda. The President himself from time to time appeared to be on the verge of falling asleep. Only Manuel, with surprising stamina, was continuing to talk at any length, though it was difficult to discern anything of great import in what he said. The eyelids of the President wavered, and then closed altogether for a few seconds. Then his whole body jerked, and the eyes were wide open once again. Suddenly alert, he glared at Manuel, the loose flesh of his face composing itself into a frown.

“What is there in all this that the Council needs to decide upon? I already know that the Americans do not like me. Could you not have got someone to put this in a written brief, if it needed to be said at all? I am going to close this meeting unless you have something more important to say.”

If Manuel was upset by this dismissive treatment, his face did not show it. Patiently, he took a deep breath and began again.

“I am sorry if what I have been saying is, in itself, less than enthralling. But it was necessary background to put in context what I am about to say.”

“And what, pray, is that?”

“To put it simply, we have some evidence to suggest that the Americans are backing a plot to destabilise this government.” As Manuel looked around the table, eyes that previously had been staring into the middle distance were now focused sharply upon him. A little smile played upon his lips. “There is nothing concrete yet, but encrypted signals traffic to and from the US Embassy has doubled in the last three months, and several of the known pro-democracy activists we have under surveillance have been showing increased mobility, suggesting that they are up to something. As I have said, there is nothing conclusive here. Nevertheless, the signs are suggestive, and consistent with what we have seen in the prelude to other attempts at subversion in the past. The wider picture I have been describing, concerning what is being said about this country – and about you, Carlos – in the United States and elsewhere is also consistent with that hypothesis. So my people are monitoring developments carefully and are under instructions to obtain harder evidence that I can bring to a future meeting. Unless, of course…” He paused, and threw the President a smug little grin “…the matter is not considered of sufficient importance to put before this Council.”

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Purchase Links

If your readers are intrigued, they can find out more on my website and Facebook author page.  Thanks again for hosting me, Jeff!

Links:  Facebook launch event for Revolution Day:  https://www.facebook.com/events/770280243092134/

Facebook author page:  https://www.facebook.com/timtaylornovels

Website:  http://www.tetaylor.co.uk/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/timetaylor1

Crooked Cat Author page:   http://crookedcatpublishing.com/item/tim-e-taylor/

Revolution Day on Amazon.co.uk:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Revolution-Day-T-E-Taylor-ebook/dp/B0106GALR4/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1435449288&sr=1-1&keywords=Revolution+Day

on Amazon.com:  http://www.amazon.com/Revolution-Day-T-E-Taylor-ebook/dp/B0106GALR4/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1435512473&sr=1-1&keywords=Revolution+Day&pebp=1435512460458&perid=1CCVM4BE2J6WKH55WM9Y

 

Author BioTT pic

Tim Taylor was born in 1960 in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, UK. He grew up just outside the city in Brown Edge, then at the age of 11 moved to Longsdon, near Leek.  Tim went to Newcastle-under-Lyme High School, then studied Classics at Pembroke College, Oxford. After graduating he moved to London and spent a couple of years playing guitar in a rock band. When it became clear that he was never going to be a rock star, he sadly knuckled down and joined the Civil Service, where he did a wide range of jobs before leaving in 2011 to spend more time writing.  While still in the Civil Service Tim studied part time for a PhD in Philosophy at Birkbeck, University of London, achieving it in 2007.

Tim married Rosa Vella in 1994 and their daughter Helen was born in 1997. In 2001 they moved to Meltham, near Huddersfield, and have lived there ever since. Tim now divides his time between creative writing, academic research and part-time teaching and other work for Leeds and Huddersfield Universities.

Tim’s first novel, Zeus of Ithome (a finalist in the Chaucer Awards for historical fiction), was published by Crooked Cat in November 2013; his second, Revolution Day in June 2015.  He has also published a non-fiction book, Knowing What is Good For You (Palgrave Macmillan 2012), on the philosophy of well-being. As well as novels, Tim writes poetry and the occasional short story.  He also plays electric and acoustic guitar and a little piano, and likes to walk up hills.

zeus of ithome cover

 

David O’Brien: What to reveal and what to conceal

 


David J CovershotI’m delighted to welcome back David O’Brien to my blog. He has a new book out, which sounds very intriguing. Purchase links are at the end.  Take it away Dave…

Thanks for having me on your blog today, Jeff. Great to be back again to talk about my new novel, The Ecology of Lonesomeness.

Now that the book is out, people have been asking what the book is about.

And it’s hard to say.

Here’s the blurb to give you an idea.

Kaleb Schwartz isn’t interested in the Loch Ness Monster. He’d enough cryptobiological speculation about Bigfoot while studying the Pacific Northwest forests. He’s in Scotland’s Great Glen to investigate aquatic food webs and nutrients cycles; if he proves there’s no food for any creature bigger than a pike, then so much the better.

Jessie McPherson has returned to Loch Ness after finishing university in London, hoping to avoid the obsession with its dark waters she had when younger and first discovered lonesomeness. She knows any relationship with a scientist studying the lake is a bad idea, but something about Kaleb makes her throw caution to the depths.

When Kaleb discovers Jessie’s lonesomeness refers not just to the solitude of the loch, he’s faced with an ecological problem of monstrous proportions. Can he find a way to satisfy both the man and the scientist inside himself, and do the right thing?

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I’ve been sending requests for reviews this week. One reviewer replied today to say that it wasn’t her normal genre, but the blurb intrigued her and she’d love to read the book.

So that’s good.

Yet, as I advertise the book’s release, I’m unsure how much to reveal about the story in order to hook readers, and how much to conceal to make the read as satisfying as possible, given that one of the main themes is keeping secrets and trusting others with them.

It’s the classic problem of the blurb, the movie trailer, the book recommendation.

We’ve all seen those movie trailers where they tell you too much information. Half way through you wish it would stop, so they’d leave some story to tell in the actual film. If you were at home you’d change the channel. In the cinema you just have to close your eyes and try not to listen. Even then, sometimes my wife will comment, “well, now there’s no need to go see that movie.”

The best advertisement of all is just someone saying to you quite forcefully, “Just go and see/read it. You’ll see what I mean when you do. I can’t say any more without saying too much.”

I love those recommendations. I love reading a book that is a complete unknown, except for the fact that it’s great. I delight in sitting in a movie theatre without any idea what I’m going to see – other than knowing it’s going to be good because it’s come highly recommended by people I trust.

How to get those first people to see the film or read the story, of course, is the part we’re all still fiddling with.

I’d love to reveal more, but that would be short-changing the reader.

One day, perhaps, I will reach a stage where the reader trusts me, knows that when I say I’ve a new book out, that will be enough. They will need not inquire further, but know they’ll be entertained, get their money’s worth.

Until then, I’ll keep playing with the blurb, keep coming up with tag lines and Facebook post lines to get people thinking, wondering what the book could be about, but without telling them directly. Because when there is no mystery in a novel – even if it’s just wondering how the writer has done what we know he or she has to have done, and which others have done but not quite this way; very valid in my opinion (I was going to say in my book, but that might confuse…) – then it’s time to put the book down.

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Here’s an excerpt from the beginning of the book, when all the secrets are as yet unknown:

Jessie McPherson started the car and drove away from The Shredded Sail, her parents’ pub, which was also a bed and breakfast. She revved the engine and let gravel spit out from under the spinning front wheels. The old Nissan Micra that she’d learned to drive in was still a game old motor. Her mother kept it well serviced—well, basically she made sure Jessie’s father kept it well serviced. Jessie was tempted every day to do a handbrake skid across the gravel car park in front of the house upon her return from work. She used to do that in her school days. She’d grown out of that, though: you never knew where the guests might be parked. She’d nearly slid into a rented Audi the last time she’d pulled a skid.

It seemed time had stood still in the glen since she’d been home for Christmas. Had she really only been back here two weeks? She felt her three years in the chaotic ant’s nest of London had just been a fortnight’s holiday away: a few nights out in the West End, an afternoon drinking cocktails in Covent Garden after window-shopping in Knightsbridge, and mornings strolling through Hyde Park, Camden Market and Notting Hill.

Most of her old friends, her old flames, were still here in the glen. She’d taken to going for a pint in The Bothy with them after work, chatting to the old fogies in The Shredded Sail, and going over the same old conversations. After a week, those conversations were boring once again, but she still stood there at the bar, shaking her head at something her father said, or an acerbic comment from Ahab, the old codger who seemed to be welded to the bar when he wasn’t staring out at the surface of the loch, as if waiting.

It was amazing how quickly you could get back into a rut. This valley, this enormous gouge out of the landscape that almost cut an entire country in half, with its huge, internationally famous loch: what was it really, when you thought about it, other than a great big rut, with a muddy pothole in the middle of it to match?

It had a way of sucking you in, like the mist the loch seemed to suck out of the sky, down upon it, as if it would cloak itself in a white, vaporous shroud to conceal its secrets. The fog made the shimmering surface as unseen as the hidden, darkened, benthic depths so many feet underneath.

It grabbed you to it, hugged you close. The walls were like the arms of a mother who never wanted you to stray, to escape her apron pocket. That was disparaging to her mum, though, with whom she’d been very happy being back with. She spent time with her in the kitchen and helped out with breakfasts, too—even to the point of making her nearly late for work on some mornings.

She’d thought it would be a bit intense, living with her mum again after being at uni, but her mum now treated Jessie as a friend—a friend she’d do anything for, and not as a daughter who needed to do as her mother advised. It was amazing what a few years’ absence could do, how it could change things. Of course, Jessie supposed that during those three years, she herself had done the changing. Her mother had always encouraged her to go away to study—and not to the University of the Highlands and Islands, either.

“Get away from this glen,” she’d said: insisted, almost, “and escape the pull of that loch. It’ll swallow you up if you don’t. You’ll be here when you’re my age, staring out at the water like auld Ahab, there, obsessed.”

Her mother had always been worried that she spent too much time out on the loch. Since she was a young girl, she’d been sneaking off in the trout boat without telling anyone and would be found hours later, sitting in it down along the shore, either getting sunburnt or wet with the rain. The loch held no secrets from Jessie, though. She’d been around it too long, seen it too clearly, too often. She had stared down into those murky waters and seen more than her own reflection.

She’d learned to fly fish, and had taken her share of salmon and trout from the loch. She had also learned to predict the weather well enough to avoid the really bad squalls or at least bring along her wet gear when they threatened.

Her mother had become less worried that something untoward might occur, and increasingly concerned that Jessie was becoming too used to her own company, too solitary, too immersed in the life of the loch, rather than in pursuits that a regular girl of fourteen should have—or would have if they didn’t live on the south shore of Loch Ness.

Since she’d been back, Jessie had been out on the lake just once. She’d wondered if she’d experience the lonesomeness her mum would rather she didn’t, but had only found tranquillity in solitude and caught a few trout that she’d brought home. Her mother had fried them up with butter and lemon. It had been like breaking through a thin skin to the smells and memories of childhood when she’d broken off a piece with her fork and lifted it to her mouth.

 

You can read another excerpt and find links to the book here:

http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/OBrien_David/the-ecology-of-lonesomness.htm

And read about my other books and writing at these websites:

Website:  https://davidjmobrien.wordpress.com/

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/David-J.-OBrien/e/B00M60M6Y0

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DavidJMOBrien

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Spotlight on Sue Barnard

I’m happy to welcome fellow Crooked Cat author, Sue Barnard, who is on my blog today to tell us about her brand new book, The Unkindest Cut of All, which mixes Shakespeare and amateur dramatics.  What’s not to like? She has kindly brought an extract to give us a taster, and purchase links are at the end. Now I’ll hand over to Sue…

Hello, and thank you for welcoming me to your corner of the blogosphere!

TUCOA front

The Unkindest Cut of All (released as an e-book on 9 June 2015) is my third novel for Crooked Cat Publishing.  It’s a murder mystery (with a touch of romance thrown in for good measure) set in a theatre.   The story takes place during an amateur dramatic society’s production of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.

To write this book I’ve drawn on my love of the theatre, my own experience of amateur dramatics, and my dim and distant memories of studying Julius Caesar at school for my English Literature O-Level.  (For those of you below a certain age: O-Levels are what we had way back in the Dark Ages before the days of GCSEs.)   I was extremely fortunate to have an excellent teacher who not only made the play really come alive, but who also managed to achieve the near-impossible task of making a group of stroppy teenage girls appreciate the finer points of Shakespearean tragedy.

The book’s title is based on one of the lines spoken by Mark Antony, in his crowd-turning speech after Caesar’s murder.  The actual quotation is “This was the most unkindest cut of all” (according to my English teacher, the double superlative is intended to add extra emphasis), but it was generally agreed that this was perhaps a little too fussy – especially for a book by a writer who is notorious for her insistence on correct grammar!

Here’s the blurb:

Beware the Ides of March… 

Brian Wilmer is God’s gift to amateur dramatics – and he knows it. So when the Castlemarsh Players take the ambitious decision to stage Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, there is only one man who can play the title role – even though Brian’s posturing ‘prima donna’ attitude has, over the years, won him few friends and many foes. 

Rehearsals progress apace, and the production draws ever closer. But when another member of the cast has to drop out due to illness, local journalist Sarah Carmichael (a stalwart of the Players’ backstage crew) suddenly finds herself called upon to step into the breach at the eleventh hour.

Not surprisingly, Sarah finds that Brian is in his egotistical element playing the mighty Caesar. The fact that the final performance of the play takes place on the infamous Ides of March – the day when, according to tradition, Caesar was fatally stabbed – only adds to the excitement.

But tragedy is waiting in the wings. And when it strikes, it falls to Sarah – with the help of Brian’s personable and fascinating nephew Martin Burns – to uncover the incredible truth about what really happened… 

TUCOA front

And here, to whet your appetite, is a (slightly adapted) brief extract:

“Drink, Sarah, dah-ling?”

Sarah hadn’t heard Brian approaching as she stood waiting to be served at the bar, and in view of what she’d heard about him the previous evening, she felt more than just a little uncomfortable in his presence. But for the sake of keeping things on an even keel, at least until the end of the run, she turned to face him and forced a smile.

“Thanks, Brian. That’s very kind of you. I’ll have pint of bitter, please.”

“OOOH, a lady who drinks pints?”

Not for the first time, Sarah had to suppress her irritation at having to explain it.

“Yes, I drink pints. I like beer, and there’s no point in my drinking halves. I get very thirsty and they don’t last.”

“Fair point, I suppose, fair lady! And I can’t say I blame you. I’ve worked up a pretty thirst myself. I think I might take a leaf out of your book. Now, you go and find us some seats, and I’ll be right back.”

He strode up to the bar and returned a couple of minutes later with two brimming pint pots.

“Cheers, sweetie!” Brian sat down opposite her, raised his glass and took a swig.

“Cheers. And thank you.” Sarah smiled and returned the gesture.

“That wasn’t a bad audience, for a Wednesday,” Brian went on. “I can’t believe we’re halfway through the run already. How time flies when you’re enjoying yourself!”

“Are you enjoying it?” Sarah asked as she took another sip of her drink. She knew before she asked that it was a pointless question, but all the same it made something to say.

“Am I enjoying it, dah-ling? Tell me, sweetie, is the Pope a Catholic?”

Sarah forced a smile.

“I knew it was a stupid question. Have you done any Shakespeare before?”

Brian’s face creased into a broad grin at the prospect of talking about his favourite subject – himself.

“Oh yes. I started very young, you know. Oddly enough, my first role was in this very play.”

“Really?” Sarah called on her own acting abilities and pretended to look interested. “What part did you play?”

“Lucius. It was a school play. Most of the other parts were played by sixth-formers, but they needed a younger boy to play the servant. It wasn’t a huge part, but it was the first of many. I was well and truly bitten by the acting bug by the end of it.”

“Oh yes? What came next?”

“The following year the school did A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I played Puck.”

“Then what?”

“After that, it was The Tempest. That time I played Caliban. Then the following year it was Hamlet, and I was Polonius.”

“Wasn’t he the one who was stabbed through the arras? I always thought that sounded slightly rude!”

Brian chuckled. “So you see, I’m no stranger to the Bard. But until now I’ve never managed to play the mighty Caesar.”

All those Shakespearean performances, Sarah thought. No wonder Brian was such a prima donna.

The Unkindest Cut of All is officially released on 9 June 2015, but is already available for pre-order, at the special early bird price of only 99p.  Order it now, and it will magically appear on your Kindle on launch day.  There will also be a launch event on Facebook on the day itself, with fun, frolics, quizzes and competitions.  Click here to add yourself to the guest list!

Sue 2014More about Sue:

Blog   Facebook   G+   Twitter

Book links:

The Ghostly Father

Nice Girls Don’t

The Unkindest Cut of All

‘TREADING ON DREAMS’ – RONE AWARDS FINALIST!

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My contemporary novel, TREADING ON DREAMS, has made it into the finals of the RONE awards.

Thanks to everyone who voted. You are wonderful people.

‘Treading On Dreams’ will now be read by a panel of  professional judges, which is a lovely thought in itself.  Thanks again.

Treading on Dreams by Jeff Gardiner - 1800-300dpi

 

BUY TREADING ON DREAMS HERE

 

News about my novels, short stories and non-fiction.

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