Posted in Writing


FOL with purple heading

Father of Lies




Ruby is the most aggressive and unresponsive psychiatric patient ever to be treated at Drummersgate secure forensic unit, situated on the bleak Derbyshire moors.

Admitted nearly two years ago following attempted murder in an isolated mining village, Ruby appears to have no family and no identity. No one knows who the violently troubled twenty-seven year old is, least of all Ruby herself.

Family man, Jack McGowan, Medical Director and Consultant Psychiatrist, decides to try something radical in order to discover the root of her trauma. The staff are exhausted and agree to his idea – using hypnosis in conjunction with LSD.

The results are catastrophic. For Jack. His team. And his family.

However, Ruby makes a miraculous recovery – now displaying clear symptoms of Dissociative Identity Disorder, which involves switching from one deeply disturbing character to another. Jack had planned to be able to treat her at this stage. Instead, he’s suffering from a bizarre type of mental breakdown – rushing around giggling to himself, cancelling his own appointments before turning up for them, and having horrific nightmares. At least he thought they were nightmares – but as the darkness takes on a pulsating, breathing life of its own, he’s no longer sure.

Specialist Registrar, Claire Airy, contacts D.I.D. expert in Leeds, Dr. Kristy Silver. Kristy has a client with an almost identical profile to Ruby in Leeds – a client who grew up in Woodsend, the same mining village in which Ruby attempted murder. Perhaps there is a connection? Kristy decides to investigate further with a proposed visit to Ruby; and on the way home that evening she decides to visit Woodsend.

From that point on, unnerving events escalate: Kristy has an unwanted, gruesome passenger in her car; back at the hospital Jack has barricaded himself inside his office; and Becky the ward sister, has a sudden and violent accident.

Every mental health professional involved in the case then goes on to experience some kind of inexplicable and de-stabilising incident, and soon a terrifying picture begins to unfold. One which challenges the very fabric of society, and those in whom we put our trust. One which leads us directly back to the heart of darkness, and the Father of Lies.

With no known identity or family, Ruby is the most aggressive and disturbed patient ever to be admitted to Drummersgate High Security Forensic Unit. Eventually, after almost two years with little sign of improvement, psychiatrist, Jack McGowan, decides to take a risk and hypnotises her – with devastating consequences. A horrific, dark force is unleashed on himself and his team, as one by one, each attempts to unlock Ruby’s shocking and sinister past. Who is this girl? And how has she survived such evil when no one else can?
Set in a remote northern, mining village, where secrets are kept and incomers hounded from their homes, soon enough all paths lead to the heart of darkness… and The Father of Lies.



Sarah England
Sarah England

Sarah qualified as an RGN in Sheffield before working for nearly 20 years in medical sales and marketing. She has been a fiction writer for magazines for over 10 years now, with over 160 short stories and 3 serials published so far, plus a comedy novel – ‘Expected’ – and a collection of 25 tales from the dark side of life – ‘3am and Wide Awake’ – also available in digital and paperback form on amazon. All three books are now either newly published or re-published on EchoWords – her own company, which also offers proofreading services.




Twitter: @sarahengland16


This book is a culmination of many factors – firstly I originally trained as a nurse and then went to work as a medical rep, eventually specialising in mental health, so much of the medical angle comes from my own background. As part of my job I worked closely with the psychiatrists treating schizophrenia and depressive illnesses, setting up workshops and conferences, analysing clinical papers and taking a keen interest in the subject area. After I retired from the pharmaceutical industry, I spent over a decade writing fiction – mostly short stories and serials for magazines, but also one novel and a collection of thrillers; and so, when I met a lady who suffered from what used to be called multiple personality disorder (now called Disassociative Identity Disorder), I felt it all came together and was compelled to write, ‘Father of Lies’. Around 90% of cases of DID are attributable to child abuse, and thus, although there is nothing graphic in the novel, there has to be a start – a reason – for my main character, Ruby, to be the way she is. Sadly and shockingly, this still goes on today, and that’s why I describe the root cause as the heart of darkness. I hope that, by looking at the consequences of such evil, a strong message will come across – that we cannot turn a blind eye to what happens to thousands of children around the world, with the resulting damage to both individuals and society. That was the point of writing this book, which also, of course, is designed to scare the reader witless!

Research for Father of Lies: Demonology, exorcisms in the catholic church, psychiatry.


The journey home was a blur of shock. Kristy gripped the steering wheel with ice-numb fingers. Her heart pulsed through her body in thick, sickly waves. Everything was so much worse than she’d feared. The whole visit had been on a whim, a hunch, curiosity…call it what you will, but now…now it was like having walked through the back of a wardrobe into a fairytale horror and not being able to get home again. Something was very, very wrong in Woodsend.

She turned up the heater and flicked on all the lights because at this speed no one would see her coming. The Audi powered at 80 mph through thick, grey fog, driven by a woman with the devil on her back.

On either side, the waterlogged moors seeped darkly. As if in wait for that second’s loss of concentration, a swerving of the wheel, a screech of tyres, and the sucking of metal drowning in the bog.

Squinting into the mist, her eyes flicked to the lit dashboard – how odd – that’s what she thought – the temperature was dropping rapidly. Why? The car had just been serviced. Her breath steamed on the air. Muscles rigid. She wriggled her toes – no, nothing – no warmth from the engine at all. There should have been heat surging through by now. Instead it was getting colder than it was outside. Freezing, in fact.

A creeping awareness was how it started, she recalled later – as she lay awake night after night trying to understand, to rationalise what happened next – a musty smell like unwashed clothes on an unwashed body; a sigh of sour breath on the side of her face; a feeling that someone or something, was on the passenger seat beside her, waiting for her to take her eyes off the road and look round. No, not waiting – willing her to…

A shape. Growing. The sound of salivating, raspy breathing. Like a very old man smacking his gums, drawing air from diseased lungs.

Kristy concentrated hard on the road ahead. This was just fear talking. It had a hold on her mind. Focus on the job in hand – on driving safely home – reduce speed and don’t take your eyes off the road for a moment…The car’s headlights reflected their own swirling white light. A fragment of memory – being in a plane – engines humming in a blanket of grey over the North Sea – the unrelenting aborted landings, one after the other, and being unable to see a damn thing. Then suddenly the tarmac and a crack, a bounce, and the relief of touching ground. Soon the lights of town would be ahead and the fog would lift.

But someone really is in the passenger seat.

The strength of presence grew, along with the irresistible desire to turn and see who it was.

A smell – putrid now, decaying, salty blood and sulphur – permeated the air.

Keep looking ahead at the road  – each millisecond more is another moment of life….don’t look around…don’t look…

The presence was squelching – shape-shifting – into a recognisable form. Kristy’s side vision deciphered an old hag with ancient, tissue-thin skin and heavy, gnarled features. She knew the look in the woman’s eyes would be older than time itself, and if she met that look the car would go off the road in a heartbeat.

This was a journey she could never relate to another living soul. No one would believe her. Imagine trying to describe it at a dinner party – a few shudders, some more wine-pouring, meaningful glances exchanged – another psychiatrist having a breakdown…Especially since most of her friends were doctors. Well, all of them. How terrible to be thought mad when you were supposed to be saner than sane. To experience what seems real but cannot be. To have to lock all this inside because you can never tell.

Lock what inside? What was this?

The temptation to look at her passenger grew stronger with every passing second, the pull like a magnet.

            Don’t look round – whatever you do, Kristy – do not look…

            That voice – it was her late father’s…

            And then the sharp descent began. The Audi’s headlights picked out the rear-lights of a truck. The belt of fog broke, and ahead lay the metropolis – a basin lit with yellow lights.

The temperature shot up. And the presence evaporated.


Real fear. Well if that’s what she’d gone to find, that’s what she’d got.

She parked, locked up and then quickly ran up the steps to her apartment block, not daring to look over her shoulder. On entering, she walked briskly from room to room switching on all the lights, then poured herself a double scotch from the bottle kept only for Christmas.

And then another.

ALSO BY SARAH ENGLAND: 3am and Wide Awake – 25 tales from the Dark Side

3am image USE ON AMAZON

3am and Wide Awake: and

Posted in Writing


Today I’m chatting to JB Johnston who not only combines a career with busy family life but also runs Brook Cottage Books, a successful on line support site for writers. 12032132_905076866251803_5514664606355479599_n

A warm welcome to Tuesday Talk JB. I’ll start things off with my usual question – can you tell us a little bit about you…

 Hi Jo and thank you for having me. Well, most people online know me as JB Johnston and I run Brook Cottage photoBooks. I am a full time social worker also and I use every spare minute I have to indulge my love of books. I also love to run, go to the gym, go walking with friends and hike up the odd mountain and generally have fun! I’m always on the lookout for something to challenge me or something that scares me! It’s good to face your fears and be brave. I am married to a wonderful man and I have 2 children and 2 step children. I’m also a carer for my daughter who has special needs. One day I also hope to write something that makes people go WOW! Watch this space! I’m involved with various sites reviewing books and I am a beta reader for some authors. I also like to take part in fundraising for various charities too. It’s good to put something back into the community (see me in ridiculous costume with large elephant!).

What made you decide to start Brook Cottage Books?

 A couple of years ago I was reviewing books on my personal blog. Soon the demand for book reviews became so great that I decided to start Brook Cottage Books. It kind of snow-balled from there and Brook Cottage Books has evolved into more than a review site. I am so grateful for the support I receive from authors such as yourself and from other book reviewers. My wonderful online family continues to inspire me.

What services do you provide for readers and writers?

 At Brook Cottage Books there are a wide range of author services both free and some for a charge. You can get anything from a promotional post right through to a virtual book tour to help promote your book. Advertising space is also available for both authors to share their book covers and for other publishing professionals such as proof-readers, publishers etc to advertise their services. For readers, there is the chance to find out about new books, enter competitions, read reviews and find out interesting things about authors. For those readers with book blogs, there is also the chance to become a Brook Cottages Books tour host and join my bookish family, reading books and making new friends.


Have you have wanted to become a writer?  If you did, what sort of book would you choose to write?

It has always been a lifelong dream to be a writer and I have taken part in a few writing projects such as contributing to anthologies. However, my latest project was in conjunction with a group of lovely writers who asked me to co-author a children’s book to raise money for Alzheimers Research. Each of us wrote a chapter of the book. I am very proud of the part I played in helping to raise vital funds for research. Check out the book

 I would ideally love to write a crime thriller but not sure if I’d be able to pull that off. I have written a few tentative chapters of a book but not sure even where that story is going yet but I suspect it’ll be aimed at female readers. I have a notebook full of ideas for books. It’s just finding the time to actually sitting down and writing that I find so difficult. Plus, when confidence was being handed out, I think I was at the back of the queue. I have zero confidence in my own writing abilities. I definitely need to work on that!

Your book tours cover a very wide range of genres.  Do you have a particular favourite?

 When I first started reviewing books I was always drawn to horror or crime or thrillers. However, once I started touring I began to be a bit open minded about what I read and I now do read a lot of chick lit which I was pleasantly surprised to find I really enjoy. However, my all-time favourite has still got to be thrillers / mystery.

Brook Cottage Books must take up a huge amount of your time.  How do you fit this in with your work and family life?

 1610870_781043861988438_5424844555582454697_nIt is extremely difficult trying to fit everything in but it can be done. My day usually begins at 5am or earlier and don’t finish until after midnight or sometimes I don’t get to bed at all but thankfully that doesn’t happen too often.  I am lucky in that I have a very supportive husband who takes over a lot of the domestic duties and some of the childcare duties. I am also lucky enough to be one of those people who can still function perfectly well on a couple of hours sleep or no sleep at all! It’s how I’ve always functioned. It’s very important for me to still find a little bit of me time and pursue my hobbies and spend quality time with my family. It’s vital that they never feel neglected. After a rocky childhood I am extremely family orientated and family life is what drives me. The desire to make sure everyone is feeing loved and wants for nothing is my priority. I’ve seen the darker side of life both personally and professionally so I’m very over-protective. Parts of my life read like a novel! Lol.

And lastly, if you were holding a party which famous people would you ask and why?

Oh that’s a good question. Well here’s my top guests –

  • Stephen King – The master of horror!
  • The Beatles – because my husband would kill me if I didn’t invite them!
  • Gerard Butler – no explanation required!
  • The Bronte sisters –what genius!
  • The Queen – because my mother in law would kill me if I didn’t invite her!
  • Temple Grandin – a totally fascinating woman who can educate us all about autism.


If you would like to know more about JB or would like to join the Brook Cottage Book Tour Hosts and Reviewers team, check out her links below:






Posted in Writing


Jera's Jamboree header

Tuesday Talk chats to  blogger Sharon Goodwin about work, writing and Michael Fassbender’s moves…

Good morning Shaz and welcome to Tuesday Talk.  Can I start by asking you to tell us a little bit about you…

Hi Jo, even though my boys are grown up my family is still the foundation from where I get to explore life and feel centered and grounded.  Working as an Inclusion Lead (with hardly time to breath most days), weekends and holidays keep me sane IMG_0797-001🙂

What is a typical day for you?

I’m fortunate that where I work isn’t far from where I live so my commute doesn’t take long and for most of the journey, minimum traffic.  So my day starts quite relaxed (and ends relaxed too)!

Although some of my time during the day might be ringfenced for meetings and other priority tasks, I’m responding to what is happening within our school community.  As you can imagine, no two days are the same and I love the variety!  One thing for sure, you have to be flexible and think on your feet.

We have a drop in at break times and lunch (emotional needs); injured children spend breaks in our room too as well as sick children waiting to be collected.  We’re very busy at the moment.  The summer holidays seem to have been an accident prone time for some of our children …

Yesterday I was scrutinising data and identifying children for interventions and liaising with Teaching Assistants who lead the programmes.  Today I have been in meetings all morning and with a cancelled meeting this afternoon I have used my time to write referrals and catch up with some of our SEN children.  Monday I am off site all morning at a meeting and I must make time to ensure the process for upcoming Annual Reviews are completed.

There is no typical day during term time Jo … but once I get home I can guarantee the laptop will go on and I’ll start catching up with other blogger’s posts and sharing on social media.  I’ll be blogging for JJ and answering emails.  There are some fabulous articles linked on social media too and I can often get distracted when my mind goes off in spirals!  After dinner we’ll be out for a dog walk (to restore balance) and I’ll spend time chatting to my family.  I’ll log on to my work emails and respond (so that the start to my day is less chaotic).  My evening ALWAYS finishes with reading.  No matter how late I pick up my current read or how exciting a book might be, I’m always relaxed and ready to slip into sleep after about an hour or so of reading (which is usually past midnight).

You live in Dorset which is a beautiful county.  Have you been there long?  What is best about living there?

I was born here Jo although my father was a Londoner and my mother a Devon lass.  I am grateful they settled in Dorset, as you say, there is so much beauty in and surrounding the county.  We have so much variety on our doorstep with leisure activities/eating out but the best bit is being so close to the coast!  We’re on the beach whatever the weather or season and it has the effect of stilling the mind and putting any negatives into perspective.  I couldn’t imagine being away from the sea for any length of time.

Jera’s Jamboree: when did you start your blog and how do you go about selecting books for review? 

I started blogging about books on JJ 5th Feb 2011.  The blog has been through many transformations since then and you may have noticed that I’ve combined my lifestyle blog (The Rose Petals) with JJ recently.

Books I choose to read can be because I’ve seen a review on social media, a recommendation from a friend, an email from a publicist, a browse on Netgalley or an author I’ve read in the past and they’ve become a favourite.  They all have in common the potential to hook in my emotions and provide an escape from everyday life; to make me believe that I’m living the life of the characters and that this is my world; to increase my pulse rate, make me laugh and make me cry 🙂

I don’t have as much time to read these days (oh how I long for a Saturday afternoon curled up with my book) so I am blessed to be able to choose the books I know I will enjoy.

You review a very wide range of books, do you have a favourite genre?

I don’t have a favourite (although I’ve read some really awesome fantasy books lately!).  I like to choose a genre that suits my mood and what’s happening in my life.  Books have the ability to lift your spirits and prompt deeper thoughts – or instead of buoying you up take you to the depths.  I guess reading for me is like someone else listening to music (although I love listening to music too!).  It’s not so much about the genre but the world you inhabit while you’re reading J

If you were planning to write a book which genre would you choose and why?

Well I have started writing two books (which will probably never see the light of day).  One after a workshop with Della Galton one Easter.  It started off as a romance but further planning it’s more like a romantic suspense (issue driven).  The characters still play as a movie in my sleep so I guess I need to get them out onto paper 🙂   I didn’t choose, the characters chose the direction Jo.

When we first arrived at our holiday cottage in Devon last month, I put pen to paper (with the first cup of tea!) inspired by the sight and sounds of the estuary.  It’s children’s fiction with a time travel theme looking at how the world has changed.  Perhaps the water inspired this gateway to another time!

 If you were holding a party which famous people would you ask and why?

I’d invite Jack Dee as I love his dry humour.  Eddie Izzard is interesting – there would be no quiet moments with him around!  Rita Ora would bring a bit of glamour and feminism.  Amy Schumer (besides being one of the most influential people – anyone who can fall on purpose on a red carpet has got to be a riot at a party) and finally, Michael Fassbender as my moves would look awesome compared to his!



Jera’s Jamboree


JJ FB page


Twitter @shazjera
















Posted in Favourite Authors, Writing


MadalynToday I’m delighted to welcome Madalyn Morgan to Tuesday Talk. Welcome Madalyn, firstly can you tell us a little bit about you…

I’d love to. Thank you for inviting me to chat on your blog.

I have been an actress for more than thirty years working in repertory theatre, the West End, film and television. I am also a radio presenter and journalist, writing articles for newspapers and magazines. However, these days, I write fewer articles as my time is taken up with writing a saga of five novels set in WWII.

I was brought up in a busy working class pub in Leicestershire. The pub was a great place for an aspiring actress and writer to live. There were so many wonderful characters to study and accents learn. At twenty-four, I gave up a successful hairdressing salon in Rugby, and a wig-hire business providing wigs for The Belgrade Theatre in Coventry, and the Palace Theatre, Watford to go to East 15 Drama College. While working at The Belgrade, I met Patricia Phoenix, aka Elsie Tanner from Coronation Street. I told her that I had auditioned for E15, and a couple of weeks later I was offered a place. At the same time, Pat and her actor husband, Alan Browning, were going on tour to Australia and New Zealand with, Gas Light. She offered me the part of the maid and an Equity card to go on tour with them. However, I had dreamed of going to Drama College for years, so I turned Pat down. It would have been an exciting rollercoaster ride, but I have no regrets.

I sold my salon and wig hire business, went to drama college and had a fairly good career. Theatres where I have worked includ, The University Theatre, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, The Citizen’s Theatre, Glasgow, Duke’s Playhouse, Lancaster, to name but a few. I spent a year doing Shakespeare at The Young Vic in London, and I did my share of commercials, a couple of small parts in films and some television including, Angels and, The Bill. I have worked with some great actors. The one I leaned the most from was, Vanessa Redgrave who played Cleopatra in, Antony and Cleopatra, at the Theatre Royal in the Haymarket.

Madalyn acting

(L – R) Madalyn Morgan (Iras), Vanessa Redgrave (Cleopatra), Timothy Dalton (Antony),
In Antony and Cleopatra, Theatre Royal, Haymarket, London

I gave up acting for love. I was forty and thought it was probably my last chance to settle down.  I signed a two-year contract with a company I had previously temped for, and became one of the millions who travelled into the city of London on the Northern Line every day.

When my partner left, a friend said, if I had not given up my acting career for him, I might have been a star by now. I replied, “And I might not!”

At that time there was little, or no, work for older actresses. And, having been out of the business for ten years, I’d have had to start again. Would I go back now? In a heartbeat. But only for the challenge of it. A couple of episodes of Emmerdale, EastEnders or Coronation Street, would be fun. I have no desire to go back into the business. I am a writer now and I love it.

Anyway, after a couple of years working in an accounts office, I was desperate to do something artistic, so I completed a two-year correspondence course with The Writer’s Bureau, taught myself to touch type, and began writing articles. In 2010, having lived in London for thirty-six years, I returned to the Midlands, swapping two window boxes and a mortgage, for a garden and the freedom to write my first novel, Foxden Acres. Applause followed, and then China Blue. I am now researching my fourth novel, The 9:45 Train To Bletchley, which I hope to publish in 2016.

Madalyn's books

The Dudley Sisters Saga is about the lives of four very different sisters during WWII. The first three novels, Foxden Acres, Applause, and China Blue, are available on Amazon – eBook and paperback – and in several independent and High Street bookshops.

Foxden Acres:


China Blue:


 What led you to choose an acting career?

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be an actress. I auditioned for a television series in Birmingham when I was fifteen called, Crossroads, and was offered the part of the Motel owner’s niece. However, even though I would have been chaperoned, my parents wouldn’t let me live in Birmingham during the week. I always had the lead role in the school plays and when I left school, I joined the local armature dramatic society, but it wasn’t enough. So, when I had done what my parents wanted, I sold my businesses and did what I wanted.  At 24, I went to Drama College.


Do you find that your experience as an actress has helped you with your writing?

Yes, having been an actress helps massively. I was a method actress. I believed I was the characters I played. Characters are not born when the curtain goes up, or when a book is opened.  They have had however many years of life before that. It is what has happened to them before, that makes them who they are, and makes them react to situations the way they do. It is exactly   the same in my writing. Every character has a history.  I like to think I can walk in their shoes.

Would you ever consider script writing for TV drama or a movie?

No, I have no intention of diversifying further. I am busy enough researching and writing novels and articles – and looking after my house and garden. My readers often tell me that, The Dudley Sisters’ Saga would make a good television series. I think China Blue, being a wartime love story with an English WAAF and a Canadian pilot who are recruited by the SOE, and parachuted behind enemy lines to work with the French Resistance, would make a terrific tele-film. It is something I shall look into when the saga is finished.

When you get time to read, who are your favourite authors?

There’s a question. The first part is easy, I read in bed. The second part is difficult. When I’m writing, I read in the genre. I have to read a lot of research books. My next novel visits Bletchley Park, so I am currently reading, Enigma. I shall read Sinclair McKay’s books about Bletchley, and Tessa Dunlop’s book, giving accounts of women who were at Bletchley. I have just finished, The Dandelion Years, by Erica James, which was terrific. I have Robert Harris in my Bletchley reading pile, Ben Macintyre and a couple of Penny Grubb’s novels, because besides loving her female detective, Annie Raymond, Ena, the youngest Dudley sister has to become a bit of an armature sleuth to clear her name when information goes missing that she is responsible for. I do my best to read novels written by friends, but not when I am doing research. The last book in the Dudley saga brings the four sisters and many of characters in their stories together. It’s a murder mystery and for novel I shall be re-reading the fabulous, Lesley Horton’s crime series.

What is your favourite holiday destination and why?

Again a difficult question, there are so many. The most interesting holiday was on an Indian Reservation in Granite Falls, Minnesota, USA.

In the summer of 1961, aged eleven, my parents sent me to visit my aunt who married a Native American and had moved to the US to live. I spent six weeks on the reservation in Granite Falls, Minnesota, with my uncle’s parents who I called grandma and grandpa. Grandma, a direct descendant of five Great Sioux Chiefs and the Elder of the community, threw a big summer Pow-wow for me and adopted me into the Dakota Sioux tribe. The above photograph was taken in February 1992. Grandma gave me my Dakota Sioux name during a small family dinner. It is, Wacantkiya Win, and means the charitable girl.

Madalyn America

This photograph represents an important and wonderful time in my life. In the wheelchair is my adoptive, Native American Grandma, Elsie Cavender. Behind her is her daughter, Lorraine Cavender, who saved my life when I almost drowned in The Yellow Medicine River.

Now a Desert Island Discs moment – if you could pick four tracks to take with you onto a desert island what would they be and why?

What a question to ask a radio DJ.  I have dozens of Albums, hundreds of 45s, and over 5000 CDs.

After a lot of thought, can I give you five, please?

Mocking Bird – Dusty Springfield.   Mocking Bird was one of the first tracks I played on my radio show, 15 years ago. I played a live recording of Dusty singing, Mocking Bird at the BBC. It was her first live television performance, and she was amazing.

Blowin’ In The Wind – Bob Dylan.  I love the protest songs of the 1960s. Bob Dylan sang, Blowin’ in the Wind, during Dr Martin Luther King Jr’s historic march on Washington in August 1963, when Dr King said those immortal words, “I have a dream.” On the 50th anniversary of the march, I was commissioned to write an article about Martin Luther King Jr. It was a privilege to be asked, but a greater privilege to learn about the man who risked everything to fight for change and freedom.

Tumbling Dice – Rolling Stones.  A great song and as so often happens, our lives appears to change when we’re not looking, as if on a roll of the dic

Yesterday – Beatles.  Not only a beautiful arrangement, but the lyrics remind me of some wonderful people who I have been lucky enough to know, and love, who are no longer with us.

Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen.   Because it is, Brilliant.

Want to know more about Madalyn?  Her social media links are listed below.

Fiction Blog:

Articles Blog: Website:



Posted in Writing


IMG_0049Today I’m pleased to welcome writer Nikki Mahood, whose latest book in the Spinster Novella series – Spinster Wedding – has just been published.


Nikki Mahood was born in Dublin, moving to the UK in the late eighties as a child, she has resided in North Yorkshire ever since.  Distance didn’t just make her heart grow fonder, it made her mind grow too, her grandmother provided the stationary, usually adorned with Ponies of some sort and they wrote to each other regularly.  So began her writing career, starting with silly poems to send her family and nurtured by a love of reading, her overactive imagination and an obsession with Josephine March of Little Women.

Without setting out to write a book, a taster course for The Open University brought Fallon Magee into Nikki’s imagination, followed shortly by one Abner Hagarth-Smythe and suddenly what started as a character exercise became a novel.

In 2013 as a contributor to Merry Chicklit a charity anthology in aid of Rocking The Road to a Cure, Nikki dreamt up Cara Smith and Ronan Higgins, long lost childhood friends thrown together at in ‘Spinster Christmas’. Merry Chicklit was a massive success and in 2014 Nikki published Spinster Christmas as a kindle novella, following up with Spinster Valentine and Spinster Wedding in 2015 soon to be followed by the fourth and last book in this Spinster Novella series.

Nikki works full time and writes whenever possible, watches far too many movies and dedicates a good hour a day to scrolling through Pinterest…


Twitter: @nikkimahood




Spinster Christmas –

Spinster Valentine –

Spinster Wedding –


The wedding is on its way, thanks to the meddling mothers in ‘Spinster Christmas’ and ‘Spinster Valentine’. Can Cara and Ronan plan their special day to suit the whole wedding party, or more specifically the mothers?


“It’s a beautiful night, we’re looking for something dumb to do. Hey baby, I think I wanna marry yoooooouuuuuu” He rolls his eyes from the bed as he watches me dancing around the bedroom, I carry on my cabaret and his face cracks into a bright smile.

“I adore the sentiment, I do, it’s the delivery that’s lacking something” He knows I wont punch him, because we both know I can’t sing, instead I collapse down beside him on the bed and fold myself against him. Slightly out of breath from the exertion of dancing.

“You’re lucky I love you” I tell him before rewarding him with a loving peck to his jaw.

“I am very lucky that you love me. Are you still hyper or ready for dinner?”

“Do we really have to?”

“Yes, we really do. There are so many decisions to make still and your mother keeps calling me to enquire.” And by enquire he means nag. I am very lucky to have someone who understands my mother’s brand of nagging. She does it in such a way that you really can’t get mad at her, although I do, it’s insidious.

“Ok, what do we have ahead of us tonight then?” The fabulous part of marrying a man with ‘tendencies’ as our mothers call it, or ‘taste’ as I call it, is that he’s more than happy to organise major wedding details. In fact, he insisted on a lot of counts, because of his connections in the glamorous world of Magazines, he can get discount on everything from table settings to my dress. I’ve mostly picked colours and showed him my Pinterest boards on the subject. Of course our mothers are interfering to Olympic standards.

“So the restaurant is doing the menu for us, then our mothers would like to make the final decision on the table settings”

“Because it’s their wedding right?”

“Of course” he grins and puts his laptop down on the bed.  We are in Yorkshire for the weekend, and he cleverly booked us into the country hotel that is going to play host to our wedding. In only 3 months, I can’t believe how fast the last year and a bit has gone.

Posted in Writing


Today I’m with Lynne Shelby chatting about her publishing journey and her debut novel French Kissing.

Lynne Shelby with her debut novel French KissingWelcome Lynne, first of all tell us a little about yourself

I write contemporary romance. My debut romantic novel ‘French Kissing’ has just been published by Accent Press . I’m a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.  I love travelling, and my writing is often inspired by the cities I visit, camera and writer’s notebook in hand. I live in north London, with my OH and a lot of books.

How did your writing journey begin?

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing. I first submitted a ms (a children’s adventure story) to a publisher when I was fourteen. They didn’t publish it, but sent me a lovely letter encouraging me to keep writing – which I did.

Earlier this year you won the Accent Press and Woman Writing Competition.  What made you decide to enter?

I’ve always enjoyed entering writing competitions and have found writing to a competition’s deadline and word count a good way to hone my craft as a writer. When I saw that Accent Press and Woman magazine had a competition for a new contemporary women’s fiction writer, and  that the incredible prize was a publishing contract and a writing holiday at writers’ retreat in the south of France, I didn’t hesitate to send off my entry. I was so thrilled when I got the call to say I’d won! I’m still pinching myself

Are you enjoying life as a published author?

I’m finding it hugely enjoyable – it really is a lifetime’s dream come true. It’s wonderful to think that people are reading a book that I wrote.

You love travel – cities are your preferred destination. Which has been your favourite and why?

That is a really difficult question to answer as the cities I’ve visited have all been fascinating for different reasons. I love Paris because it is so romantic, New York for its energy, Rome for its history … I really can’t choose!

Your camera travels with you on vacation.  Are you someone who takes their time and is selective when taking shots or do you tend to take loads and delete what you don’t want when you get home?

I take hundreds of photos – which is why I’m so glad digital cameras were invented! I actually very rarely delete any photos, but I’m very selective when it comes to printing them and putting them in an album.

Your debut novel, French Kissing, has just been published and is set in London and Paris.  Are you planning to keep to this theme, using cities as backdrops, for future projects?

At the moment all my ideas for future novels are set in cities. My current WIP is set in London and I have an idea for a book set in several Italian cities that is simmering away nicely!

What three essentials could you not be without if you were stranded on a desert island?

Pen, paper and a very long book.



Anna Mitchel has been writing letters to her French penfriend, Alexandre Tourville, for fifteen years, but hasn’t seen him since they met as children on a school exchange trip.  When Paris-based Alex, now a successful professional photographer, comes to work in London, Anna fails to recognise him.  Instead of the small, geeky boy she remembers, he is tall, broad-shouldered and gorgeous.

Anna’s female friends are soon swooning over Alex’s Gallic charm, and Anna’s boyfriend, Nick, is becoming increasingly jealous of their friendship.

When Alex has to return to Paris to oversee the hanging of his photographs in an exhibition, he invites Anna to accompany him so that he can show her the city he adores …

Lynne’s Links:

French Kissing is available as a paperback or e-book from Amazon:


Blog: Shelby Writes:


Twitter: @LynneB1

Posted in Writing


2015-Avalon-Graphics-A5-WebTell us a little about yourself.

I live with my husband of twenty three years in Troutman, North Carolina, USA. I earned a degree in Advertising and Graphic Design in 2008 as what I call my own personal midlife crisis – attempting to embark on a career in a creative field after spending over twenty years working in customer service and billing (which felt like a slow death to me). I grew up with a healthy interest in anything related to the Arthurian legends – thus the inspiration for naming my design business ‘Avalon Graphics’. Fantasizing about castles, knights in shining armour and all that frivolity were (and still are!) my favourite pastime. Also, I have always been fascinated with British history; in particular the Dark Ages. I regularly attend local Renaissance Festivals here in North Carolina, and plan to travel to the UK to explore all of the history there whenever possible. I am also a fervent digital photographer and often use my own photography in my design work. I grew up with dreams of becoming a filmmaker, or a singer, or an artist, and so I’ve always considered myself a creative soul. As a teenager, I sang in my school’s choir, played the trumpet, and was student director of many school stage productions. I graduated with the distinction of being named Drama Student of the Year in 1985. But it wasn’t until much later in my life that I returned to my creative roots. Fresh out of high school, I failed to follow those creative dreams. Instead, I followed the job market earning a steady income for the first twenty two years of my professional life working in dull cubicles crunching numbers. Besides all things ‘Arthurian’, I also fell in love with Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings novels while still working in the drab office environment. And when Peter Jackson produced the stunning films back in 2001, I found my muse again for imaginative pursuits. I began writing poetry and dabbling in fan fiction writing. And I wanted to create my own computer desktop wallpapers based on the Lord of the Rings and other fandoms. So after some research into how these digital wallpapers were created I discovered a computer software program called Adobe Photoshop! Years before I went to college to gain a formal education in the medium I taught myself how to create graphics for the web and print media with Photoshop. What my formal education gave me was the technical skills that I would need in order to apply my creative skills in the field of Advertising and Graphic Design. Most importantly, I learned how to prepare digital designs for print and quickly discovered a particular love for book cover design. Today, I am a member of the Historical Novel Society, the National Association of Photoshop Professionals, and an associate of the New Writers UK and indie B.R.A.G. 

When did Avalon Graphics begin and why did you decide to start your own business?

I established Avalon Graphics LLC in 2009 after graduating from college with a degree in Advertising and Graphic Design. I struggled to find a job working for a traditional design firm locally, so I decided to strike out on my own. I was uncertain what would become my niche or path in design, but as fate would have it: while perusing the fiction section at my local bookstore I spotted ‘The Kingmaking’ by Helen Hollick. I wrote to her with a letter of praise for her Pendragon’s Banner Trilogy (which is still one of my favourite Arthur-centric novels of all time), and that initial contact led to her hiring me to re-design the cover for her pirate novel ‘Sea Witch’….she just happened to be in the process of switching over to have all six of her novels re-printed through a new publisher (assisted publishing) – so she gave me a chance. And she loved my concept so much that she hired me! I’ve been her personal designer ever since! I’ve also designed all of her marketing material, numerous book trailers and all of the graphics for her website. My association with Helen also led to several other UK authors hiring me to re-design their book jackets, so I have many more stories just like that that I could share too. But the one about Helen is my favourite and I consider her the person responsible for me becoming a book cover designer.

What other services do you offer beside book cover design?

I also design marketing material, such as Facebook/Twitter banners, post cards, bookmarks, book trailer videos, and posters.

Is there any particular style of cover you enjoy designing?

I will always love any job where I get to play with a sword, castle and knights on a cover. So I would say Historical Fantasy is my favourite – the style being vintage/grunge.

What is the strangest request you have had from an author regarding their cover?

This is actually a tough one, while nothing specific comes to mind, I usually find it quite unusual when an author requests elements that are not suitable for their own book. Things such as styles or items that do not fit the time period of their manuscript for example. Although being asked to create elephant footprints in the frozen river was interesting, as were little children playing in dancing flames (which actually worked!). Most of the time I have to explain to clients why they don’t need to clutter a book cover with a thousand different elements and colours. So it isn’t so much the strange requests as it is reigning them in to develop the ‘right’ design for their book.

You and I met through our common love of Arthurian legend and being fans of Santiago Cabrera who played Launcelot in the Merlin TV series.  What was it about this medieval world that attracted you?

Lancelot-Merlin-2013I think the mere simplicity of that age (as compared to today’s astronomical challenges) – also the pure escapism of immersing myself into another place and time for a while will always appeal to me. I love reading about who Arthur might have been, what Dark Age Britain might have been like, and I cannot resist any story about a legendary sword either. I’ve always been interested in world history most particularly that of Britain since my own family’s genealogy is rooted in the British Isles too. Pity most modern day men are not half as chivalrous as those knights in shining armour in the old legends. But then again, women had zero rights back in those days. *laughs*When you have some chill out time, what kind of books do you read? I enjoy historical fiction/fantasy with a side of apocalyptic drama. I have read most any Arthurian books that I have come across over the years. I am a long-time fan of Tolkien, and in more recent years, I inhaled George R.R. Martin’s ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ novels.

And lastly, you’re hosting a dinner party.  If you could invite five famous people who would they be and why? 

1. Lucius Artorius Castus (Roman Commander who lived 140-197): He led a legion of Roman soldiers based at Ribchester against the Caledonii tribe during a large campaign to push the enemy back north of Hadrian’s Wall in his time. I think the man would give me a fantastic insight to life along the Wall…whether or not his campaign was in part the basis for the Arthurian Legends…well that is anyone’s guess. But he’s high on my own personal list of contenders for the real Arthur. And any man of that calibre I’d love a long chat with over a strong wine and in front of a roaring fire.

2. Steven Spielberg (director, producer, screenwriter, etc): my idol filmmaker since I first saw his films back in the early 80’s. Fascinating man. I would ask him about his inspirations and whole creative process. And why exactly did Indiana Jones hate snakes so much?

3. Tom Burke (director, actor, screenwriter, etc) : Another actor that I discovered through watching a television series (The cathelms-Athos-blue-cityMusketeers). This man, much like Santiago Cabrera, seems so different than the typical movie star. He’s impressed me with his ability to delve deep into his roles and his true grasp of his profession as an actor. He is eclectic, artistic and shy – I’d love to chat for hours on the virtues of good tea and good books with this extremely intelligent, thoughtful young man.

4. George R.R. Martin (writer, producer, etc): While I don’t want to keep Mr. Martin from working on his next highly anticipated novel, The Winds of Winter, I would love to pick his brain on how he developed that wildly intricate world in which ‘Game of Thrones’ (A Song of Ice and Fire series) exists. Talk about world building, he gives Tolkien a run for his money! And what are you doing to Jon Snow??? So what is this man’s favourite drink? Favourite past time other than writing? What drives that imagination? I think Mr. Martin could teach Caesar a thing or two about warfare. *laughs* 5. Gaius Julius Caesar (probably most famous Roman…Caesar of them all / 100BC to 44BC): I’ve always been fascinated with this man’s life story – what we know of it at any rate. I’d love to hear all about it in first person. What was the Roman Empire truly like day in and day out? And how much did he truly trust Brutus?


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