Posted in Writing

Author Interview: Morton S. Gray – Author of the Borteen Secrets Series for Choc Lit


Tomorrow is e-book publication day for Morton S Gray’s second novel for Choc Lit – The Truth Lies Buried – and I’m really pleased that she’s been able to spare me a few moments for a chat…

Good morning Morton and welcome. Can I start, as always, by asking you a little about yourself?

Good morning, Jo. I’m so pleased to be joining you today as I have double publication success to celebrate – the paperback of my novel The Girl on the Beach (published 10 April 2018) and the eBook launch of my new novel The Truth Lies Buried (published 1 May 2018).

I live in Worcestershire, UK with my husband, youngest son and Lily, our little white dog. My eldest son lives nearby.

Have you always wanted to be a writer? How did your journey begin?

Ever since my nan gave me a box full of Enid Blyton’s books, which someone had passed on to her, I have loved reading. My early school compositions were full of gold ingots, big brothers and caves like in the Famous Five books. As well as encouraging my reading, my nan taught me how to knit and crochet and engendered a love of crafts in general. We also used to settle down on Sunday afternoons to watch films. Consequently, it is no surprise that my first novel, written when I was fourteen, closely resembles an Errol Flynn film, complete with galleons, swords and a dashing hero.

I got top grades in my English language and literature examinations at secondary school, but went off to university to study business studies and German. I got a graduate job in the electricity industry and stayed there for sixteen years, where the writing I did mainly consisted of reports, board minutes and training manuals. I left this career to be a full-time therapist, specializing in clinical hypnotherapy, Reiki, acupressure massage and energy field therapy.

It wasn’t until I had my second son that I returned to writing. I wasn’t very well following his birth and had to give up my therapy business. I entered and won a short story competition and began to wonder if I could maybe write. The rest, as they say, is history.

What advice would you give to anyone thinking of writing a novel?

I’d say go for it if you have a passion to write.

Enter competitions – it was a short story competition win that convinced me to give writing a go and another competition win, Choc Lit Publishing’s Search for a Star competiton that gave me my publishing break.

If you know the genre you want to write in it is worth considering joining an association for that style of writing. I joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association and their wonderful New Writer’s Scheme, which enabled me to have a critique of a novel for each year I was a member until I achieved publication. This advice from already published novelists enabled me to revise my work to publishable standards.

Have plenty of stamina and persistence, as a writing career rarely happens overnight. You have to be willing to put in hours of work to achieve success. Even when your novel is accepted for publication, the publisher is likely to want their own edits done on the manuscript. Needless to say you have to love your story, as you end up reading it so many times.

Build up a social media presence as you go along, as you will need it when you are eventually publicising your book.

Will there be more books in the Borteen Secrets series?

I have many more ideas for books in this series. Many of the inhabitants of my fictional seaside town of Borteen are already clamouring for their stories to be told!

If you were cast away on a desert island, which four things couldn’t you live without?

1. Books – Both to read and notebooks to write in. Guess that means I’d need pens (oops that’s three counted as one!)
2. Chocolate – I love it.
3. Sun cream – I’m very fair skinned
4. Coffee – my family say a strong coffee a day keeps me human. Lol.

And finally, you are hosting a dinner party and can invite four celebrity guests (dead or alive). Who would you choose and why?

1. Brian Cox, the physicist – as I find his theories and knowledge fascinating (and he’s not bad to look at either).
2. Kirsty Allsopp – I love her programmes and her sense of humour.
3. Alice Roberts – Again I would love to discuss her scientific theories with her.
4. Kit Harrington – I just like looking at him and will have to base a character on him soon.

About the Author

_JK01305 smlMorton lives with her husband, two sons and Lily, the tiny white dog, in Worcestershire, U.K. She has been reading and writing fiction for as long as she can remember, penning her first attempt at a novel aged fourteen. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and The Society of Authors.

Her debut novel ‘The Girl on the Beach’ was published as an ebook in January 2017, after she won The Choc Lit Publishing Search for a Star competition. The story follows a woman with a troubled past as she tries to unravel the mystery surrounding her son’s headteacher, Harry Dixon. This book is available as a paperback from 10 April 2018.

Morton’s second book for Choc Lit ‘The Truth Lies Buried’ is published as an eBook on 1 May 2018. Another romantic suspense novel, the book tells the story of Jenny Simpson and Carver Rodgers as they uncover secrets from their past.

Morton previously worked in the electricity industry in committee services, staff development and training. She has a Business Studies degree and is a fully qualified clinical hypnotherapist and Reiki master. She also has diplomas in Tuina acupressure massage and energy field therapy. She enjoys crafts, history and loves tracing family trees. Having a hunger for learning new things is a bonus for the research behind her books.

Twitter – @MortonSGray

Facebook Page – Morton S. Gray Author –

About the Books


The Girl on the Beach

Who is Harry Dixon?

When Ellie Golden meets Harry Dixon, she can’t help but feel she recognises him from somewhere. But when she finally realises who he is, she can’t believe it – because the man she met on the beach all those years before wasn’t called Harry Dixon. And, what’s more, that man is dead.

For a woman trying to outrun her troubled past and protect her son, Harry’s presence is deeply unsettling – and even more disconcerting than coming face to face with a dead man, is the fact that Harry seems to have no recollection of ever having met Ellie before. At least that’s what he says …

But perhaps Harry isn’t the person Ellie should be worried about. Because there’s a far more dangerous figure from the past lurking just outside of the new life she has built for herself, biding his time, just waiting to strike.

Purchasing links for ‘The Girl on the Beach’ at



The Truth Lies Buried

Two children in a police waiting room, two distressed mothers, a memory only half remembered …
When Jenny Simpson returns to the seaside town of Borteen, her childhood home, it’s for a less than happy reason. But it’s also a chance for her to start again.
A new job leads to her working for Carver Rodgers, a man who lives alone in a house that looks like it comes from the pages of a fairy tale – until you see the disaster zone inside …
As Jenny gets to know Carver she begins to unravel the sadness that has led to his chaotic existence. Gradually they realise they have something in common that is impossible to ignore – and it all links back to a meeting at a police station many years before.
Could the truth lie just beneath their feet?

Pre-order link for ‘The Truth Lies Buried’ at


Posted in Writing



Introducing Lisa Blake, the purrfect pet sitter!

When Lisa Blake’s life in London falls apart, she returns to her hometown rebranding herself as ‘the purrfect pet sitter’ – which may or may not be false advertising as she has a rather unfortunate habit of (temporarily) losing dogs!

But being back where she grew up, Lisa can’t escape her past. There’s her estranged best friend Flick who she bumps into in an embarrassing encounter in a local supermarket. And her first love, Nathan Baker, who, considering their history, is sure to be even more surprised by her drunken Facebook friend request than Lisa is.

As she becomes involved in the lives of her old friends Lisa must confront the hurt she has caused, discover the truth about her mysterious leather-clad admirer, and learn how to move forward when the things she wants most are affected by the decisions of her past.



Two things don’t usually work for me in books. One is animals, the other children. However, I have to make an exception in the case of The Purrfect Pet Sitter, Carol Thomas’s debut novel for Choc Lit Ruby.

Lisa Blake left everyone behind to see the world. Meeting Ben along the way they travelled for a couple of years before eventually settling down in London with steady jobs, enjoying the buzz of the big city.  Sadly things haven’t gone to plan and she’s back home, living in her parents’ house. With Mr and Mrs Blake now moved to a new home in France, Lisa’s on her own (under the watchful eye of self appointed neighbourhood watch local Harold Martin) and has set herself up as a pet sitter. Her business, The Purrfect Pet Sitter doesn’t always deliver. In chapter one we see her chasing after black labrador Jack who has slipped his lead only to find him at a tea kiosk being fed bacon butties by an attractive biker in black leather called Dominic.

Returning  home has also brought back the past and the people Lisa left behind: best friend Felicity (Flick) and her first love Nathan Baker.  Running into Flick in the supermarket eventually sees the two sorting out their issues and a tearful reunion.     Lisa’s decision (while under the influence of alcohol) to check for Nathan on social media and then do something incredibly rash also sees the two of them meeting up again.

Lisa is a likeable character whose return home sees her having to confront her past before she can build a future.  She abandoned her best friend and first love so has a lot of bridges to build. She also has unfinished business with ex-boyfriend Ben, still in London. Elderly Winnie (Jack’s owner) is on hand, always there to share coffee and biscuits and her wise advice.

Flick and her brood are hilarious.  Although her life managing four kids seems chaotic at times there is an orderliness of sorts and it’s a warm, loving family.  I could however, sympathise with her situation. Desperate to find time to spice up her marriage with her husband Pete, with four boisterous children the opportunity was always going to be out of reach.

Once Lisa and Flick had sorted out their differences it was great to see them both together. So many funny moments. Nathan (now a fireman) and Dom (a paramedic) also become involved in Lisa’s life. The question is who will be the lucky man? Well, of course, I can’t possibly go into detail because that really would spoil the story.  All I can say is that this ticked every single box.  Choc Lit’s Ruby is for stories which tap into the reader’s emotions and The Purrfect Pet Sitter certainly did that for me.

A great debut from Carol…

Many thanks to Choc Lit for an ARC of the book in exchange for an honest review.


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Posted in Writing


ROTSC cover

Can love survive anything – even death?

Sapphire and Will vow to love each other forever. But when a car crash ends that dream all too soon, they find themselves separated in an afterlife with zones named after the colours of the rainbow. Determined to find each other, they start an adventurous journey alongside a cast of characters they don’t know whether to trust. They finally meet again in the terror-fuelled Red Zone where the dreaded Soul Catchers are planning on taking over the entire afterworld and are plunged into a dangerous battle. Is their love strong enough to survive against the odds?

(Previously published as Sapphire Blue)


Rise of the Soul Catchers is available for pre-order from Amazon and will be published on 25th April.


Rise of the Soul Catchers extract: Sapphire’s Viewpoint

Chapter Two 

I am alive.

I lie still, keeping my eyes closed, trying to feel if I’m hurt, if anything is broken. I flex my fingers, my toes, move my head real slow from side to side. Everything seems fine.

Oh God, Will! Is Will okay?  I snap open my eyes, sit up, look over at the passenger seat praying that Will is alive too. Only there’s no passenger seat. No car. No Will.

What the hell has happened? Did I dream it?

I couldn’t have dreamt it. I remember it all so vividly. Will driving along, singing, the container in the middle of the road, the tree zooming toward us, the crash. Besides I’m not in bed. I’m…

I look around. Everywhere is covered by a thick, white mist and it’s eerily quiet. Where am I?


Grandpa?  Surprised, I swing around and stare at my grandpa walking through the mist toward me, waving with a big smile on his face. Now I know I’m dreaming. Grandpa died two years ago.

“Sapphire!” Grandpa’s right in front of me. He holds out his arms for me to run into them, like I used to when I was little, but I can’t move. My feet are glued to the ground as I gape at him. “Grandpa?” I whisper

. “It’s me,” he says. “It’s really me.” He reaches out and envelopes me in a big hug. I feel his arms wrap around me, smell the familiar musky-scent and relax a little, allow myself to sink into the warmth and comfort of his embrace. “Don’t be frightened, I’ll look after you.” Grandpa’s voice is soft, gentle and I’m so glad to see him again that I nestle in closer and rest my head on his shoulder just like I used to do when I was little.

“I’ve missed you, Grandpa,” I mumble.

“I’ve missed you too, sweetie. It’s so lovely to see you again, but not like this. Not so soon. You’re too young.” His eyes are shining with tears.

Too young for what? Suddenly I’m jolted back to the present. What’s happening? What’s Grandpa doing here? I want to wake up. I don’t like this dream. I focus on waking, imagine myself opening my eyes, finding myself in my comfy bed with its bright, daisy-flowered duvet cover, snuggling up to the big, yellow Miss Sunshine cushion Will bought. That’s what he calls me. His Little Miss Sunshine. He says I brighten up his life.


Where’s Will? “Wake up,” I whisper to myself. “Wake up.”

“This isn’t a dream, love,” Grandpa tells me as he strokes my hair. “I know it’s a lot to take in and it will seem strange at first, but you’ll get used to it. There’s lots of family waiting to meet you, aunts and uncle and your great-grandparents. We’ll all look after you.”

His words freak me out. I try to pull away from him. “They’re all dead!” I scream. “And, so are you. You’re dead!” I pinch my arm. Hard. Squeeze my eyes shut. This is a dream. It must be a dream.

Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!


KK Head and ShouldersKaren King writes edgy YA with a heart and sassy, heart-warming romance. Her first YA, Perfect Summer, was runner up in the Red Telephone Books 2011 YA Novel Competition and her second YA, Sapphire Blue, now republished as Rise of the Soul Catchers by Littwitz Press, was called ‘the best YA book out there right now’ by a reviewer for Ind’Tale magazine.
Karen has four romcoms published by Accent Press, and a fifth one is due out in June this year, Her latest romcom, The Cornish Hotel by the Sea, was #3 in the Amazon bestseller holiday reads. She has recently signed a two book-contract with Bookouture for more romance novels.
Karen has also written several short stories for women’s magazine and had 120 children’s books published.
When she isn’t writing, Karen likes travelling, watching the ‘soaps’ and reading. Give her a good book and a box of chocolates and she thinks she’s in Heaven.

Author links
Twitter: @karen_king
Karen King Young Adult Books Facebook Page
Karen King Romance Author Facebook Page

Posted in Writing


 Good morning Jessie and welcome to Tuesday Talk. Can I begin, by asking you a little about yourself?

It is wonderful to join you for a chat about my new and exciting world of books and handbags. This week is the first anniversary of my Books in my Handbag Blog, so I am honoured to celebrate it with you. This is a great opportunity to buy cake and talk about my exciting, new life.
This week I released a new edition of my debut novel. You Can’t Go It Alone explores the impact secrets can have on relationships and pursuit of happiness. The reader is invited to laugh and cry with the characters and consider how to find joy in the simple things in life. Set in Wales, you will visit the Olive Tree Café, listen to music and support characters through some tough times.
I am an accidental blogger and avid supporter of authors. I blog about books, food and travel. Connecting with authors and readers via my Books in my Handbag Blog is a blast. I showcase authors’ books in the popular Handbag Gallery and have fun meeting authors, like yourself, in my virtual world. The Author Chat Room and extracts provide effective insights into the novels and authors’ lives. Recently, I asked for ‘foodie’ extracts and this has tempted many readers to comment. Jo, have you got any extracts you would like to share with my readers?

How did you make that step from blogger to author?

I wrote the novel first and opportunity led me into the wonderful world of blogging.
My lifelong dream to write a novel prompted me to move on from my career. The characters hassled me for years and it was time to set them free. I tapped and tapped away on my laptop for six months, and it was fun to finally meet the characters. At times, I was a little shocked at their behaviour. Novel completed, I thought nothing of it, and decided I would need to research into the next stages. There were lots of questions buzzing around. Did I need an editor? Would others enjoy my book? How do I present my novel to publishers? During renovations to our house, the manuscript remained unopened on my laptop for quite a while: demolition work did not inspired creativity.
Unbeknown to me, my husband read the book. He self-published the novel, without my knowledge, as he knew I would dilly dally. It shocked me, but I decided to grab the opportunity and make connections with the writing and reading community. Initially, the aim of my blog was to share book reviews of all the books that had resonated with me over the years. I named the blog Books in my Handbag, as all my books are on the kindle, in my handbag.
What inspired you to create Books in My Handbag as a showcase for other authors?

Jo Lambert Handbag pagePlaying on the theme of handbags, I tweeted photos of my novel in my handbag. Overwhelmed with the positive comments about the photo, I realised it would be fun to ask authors to send their photos. I developed the Handbag Gallery to showcase the authors’ books.
The Handbag Gallery connected me to lots of authors and they have supported me with the editing process. I wanted to find out more about the authors, so I developed my Chat Room and also invite authors to present extracts. Authors give great advice about the writing process through the interviews, and I have learned so much.
Authors must collaborate to promote books. There is such a wealth of expertise out there on social media, and everyone shares the benefit of their wisdom. It is not a surprise the international writing community is a dynamic force, as it is powered by words, creativity and friendship.

If money was no object what would your perfect holiday destination be?

I would love to travel to Australia for six months. In the seventies, my parents planned to emigrate to Australia, but my mother didn’t want to leave her family. If they had been the ‘Ten Pound Poms’ then I would have been born in Australia and this evoked imagination, as a child. In primary school, I told my friends stories of my adventures, with an Australian accent, and they decided my stories were true. I couldn’t convince them I made them up so decided to go along with it.

It would be marvellous to experience some real adventures in Australia and blog about them. Hopefully, the adventures wouldn’t involve the alligators, snakes and sharks from my childhood stories.

Nowadays, I would be keen to sample the Australian food and wine and the sunshine would be most welcome. Perhaps, I could brave a trip to the outback and develop some of those childhood adventures.

After completing and publishing You Can’t Go It Alone, what’s next?

During this chat, I dreamed up some adventure plots for a children’s book, so maybeSAMSUNG CSC that’s a challenge for the future. I have ideas for another novel involving the characters in You Can’t Go It Alone. I was sad to leave the village of Delfryn and need to check on everyone. However, I heard two of my characters are refusing to return from a trip to Europe. Before I embark on any travels with my characters, I would like to experiment with the discipline of writing short stories.

My virtual world is a happy and glorious place, but I would like to get out there and interview people face to face. The natural flow of conversation brings up some exciting revelations. Two weeks ago, I met the owner of the local independent bookshop and the ‘real’ interaction was great. Attendance at some local and national bookish events is also on my radar for the summer and beyond. But, I may need to invest in recording equipment as it is difficult to write and listen. Who knows, I may turn up at an author event in the future.

And last of all, you’ve been invited on I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here. Which four celebs would you ideally like to join you and why?

This is an exciting question and I love an opportunity to meet people. However, only jungle I know is at the bottom of the garden, so I would need a survival guide, food and entertainment.

I researched into celebrity survival experts such and found Bear Grylls or Ray Mears. Then I became curious to find out if there are any female adventurers and found Meghan Hine’s website. Apparently, she supports Bear Grylls and is a survival expert – just what my handbag ordered. I do realise that I have chosen someone who would steal the prize, but I am happy to step aside.

My father introduced me to the music of Elkie Brooks in the eighties. ‘Pearl Is A Singer’ struck a chord with me instantly (pardon the pun). My novel features the track and some talented performers. I would love Elkie to sing her songs and perhaps coach me to carry a tune rather than slaying it.

Jamie Oliver writes simple recipes I can follow, and he seems like a jolly chap. His cooking ability and positivity would be helpful if stranded on the jungle.

Living without my handbag would be fine, but I fear I would get agitated without an internet connection. Dick Strawbridge is my cunning escape plan: my Get out of Jungle Free card. Dick Strawbridge could build a bridge or raft to escape from the jungle, and I am sure he would be pleasant company.

Having returned from the jungle, I feel exhausted and will have visit my Bloggers’ Café for a coffee. I hope to see you there very soon, Jo. Best of luck with ‘Watercolours in the Rain’.

Thank you Jessie, great to have you on the blog…


Jessie Cahalin with cameraJessie is a bookish blogger, word warrior and intrepid virtual explorer. She loves to entertain with stories, and is never seen without: her camera, phone, notebook and handbag. Fellow authors have deemed her ‘creative and quirky’ and she wears these words like a blogging badge of honour.

Having overcome my fear of self-publishing, she is now living the dream of introducing the characters who have been hassling her for decades. Her debut novel, ‘You Can’t Go It Alone’, is a heart-warming tale about the challenges women still face in society. The novel has light-hearted moments and presents hope. As C. S. Lewis said, ‘We read to know we are not alone.’

Jessie Cahalin hails from Yorkshire, but as a book blogger, she has realised that her country of origin is probably The World. She loves to travel the world and collects cultural gems like a magpie. She searches for happy endings, where possible, and needs great coffee, food and music to give her inspiration.

Contacts and links

Contact Jessie at:


Posted in Writing


I’m delighted to be part of this blog tour courtesy of Love Books Group and have managed to catch up with Helen for a chat about her writing and the inspiration behind ‘GHOST’



Langlands House is haunted, but not by the ghost you think.

Augusta McAndrew lives on a remote Scottish estate with her grandmother, Rose. For her own safety, she hides from outsiders, as she has done her entire life. Visitors are few and far between – everyone knows that Langlands House is haunted.

One day Rose goes out and never returns, leaving Augusta utterly alone. Then Tom McAllister arrives – good-looking and fascinating, but dangerous. What he has to tell her could tear her whole world apart.

As Tom and Augusta become ever closer, they must face the question: is love enough to overcome the ghosts of the past?

In the end, Langlands House and its inhabitants hold more secrets than they did in the beginning…






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What attracts you to write about the supernatural?

It’s partly a family thing! My Dad and my middle sister both love ghost stories. When we were kids, my Dad used to amuse us on long journeys by retelling the tales of classic ghost story writer M.R.James. We had favourite ones that we were always pestering him to tell us! There was one called “Wailing Well” which really scared me when I was a kid, but I never got tired of hearing it. It was a thrill, like watching Dr. Who from behind the sofa!

As a writer, I think the supernatural offers some wonderful opportunities to explore big themes. One of my previous novels, The Glass Demon, is ostensibly about the search for a series of priceless stained glass windows haunted by a demon. However, it’s not really just about that; it’s about the dangers of obsession. I think my new book, Ghost, is about the way that any of us can be haunted by the past. Supernatural fiction can allow us to examine our fears – death, disease, mental illness – in a “safe” way; when the story ends, you can close the book. It’s somehow containable.

Who are your favourite authors and have any of them influenced your writing?

It’s so hard to choose! As well as the ghost stories of M.R.James, I love the novels of Victorian writer Wilkie Collins- they are full of astounding and colourful characters, and some of them have outrageously improbable plots. My favourite modern writer is certainly the Swedish novelist John Ajvide Lindqvist, who wrote Let The Right One In. I’ve got all of his books that have been translated into English, and I’m very impatient about waiting for the next one. I also loved Michelle Paver’s two ghostly novels, Dark Matter and Thin Air. I like the sense of menace that hangs over them, as well as the old-world feel.

You can probably detect a pattern here…I love thrilling and ghostly stories! I’m not into violent, gory horror stories. I don’t want to be disgusted but I do like my flesh to creep!

If you had a chance to write something completely different, what would that be?

Apocalypse fiction, without a doubt! I love reading it, and I love watching apocalyse movies, too. I suppose we all imagine that we would be amongst the survivors who get to wander through the deserted landscape, having adventures and helping ourselves to whatever we wanted!

It’s a favourite topic of ours at home. My daughter says that if there is ever a zombie apocalypse or superflu, she wants to hole up in Waterstones and read all the books. She’d better pick a branch with a café in it…

Where did the inspiration for Ghost come from?

When I was writing one of my previous books, Urban Legends, I started doing urbex (urban exploration) as part of the research. I went out with some experienced urbexers and visited an abandoned factory that was scheduled for demolition. It was a very exciting experience and since then I’ve had an interest in exploring derelict places.

When we moved to Perthshire in 2011, I started to research the lost country houses of Scotland, and where possible, I like to visit the sites. In the 1800s, a lot of very grand country mansions were built, and in the twentieth century these were no longer practical to maintain. Some were demolished – or even blown up! – but others are just sitting there, in the countryside, slowly mouldering away. I’ve been to see a number of these, and you very rarely see anyone else there. They are very lonely places. So I started to think: supposing there was a house like this, only it was still reasonably intact, with all the contents in it – who would be living there, and why would they be hiding themselves away like that? And that is where the idea for Ghost came from.

What makes a good heroine in supernatural fiction?

I don’t think the heroine has to fit a particular stereotype but she has to be a complex and interesting character. If you are going to put your heroine into a scary or threatening situation, it’s important that the reader can empathise with her, so that they care about what happens to her. She has to be more than just a screaming victim. I think this is true of scary films as well as supernatural fiction. The heroine doesn’t have to be perfect, but she has to feel real.

And lastly, if you were holding a dinner party and could invite four celebrity guests (live or dead) who would they be, and why?

I’ve spent ages thinking about this question. It’s so difficult to answer!

I’d love to invite Charles Dickens so I could ask him what happens at the end of The Mystery of Edwin Drood (he died before he could finish writing it). I’d also invite Wilkie Collins because I’d want to talk to him about his outrageous characters; also, he was friends with Dickens so they’d be pleased to see each other. I’d love to invite Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein; I’d ask her whether she had any idea how huge that book was going to be!

I’d also invite film director Guillermo Del Toro, because I would love to talk to him about his films, especially The Devil’s Backbone, which is one of my very favourites. However, I don’t know how he’d feel about having dinner with three nineteenth century writers and me…


IMG_9835 Helen Grant’s debut novel The Vanishing of Katharina Linden was shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2010. In 2011 the book also won an ALA Alex Award (awarded to “books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults”). Helen’s short crime story The Beach House won the Jimmy Perez Trophy 2015 at the Shetland Noir book festival. Her work has also featured in Best British Horror 2015 (for The Third Time). Helen has lived in Spain, Germany and Belgium. She now lives in Perthshire with her husband, two children and two cats. She is currently the Royal Literary Fund Fellow at the University of Stirling. As well as exploring abandoned country houses, Helen enjoys visiting the cinema and wild swimming.






Posted in Writing

Tuesday Talk welcomes Psychological Suspense Author Keri Beevis talking about writing influences and desert island ‘must haves’

This week I’m pleased to welcome author Keri Beevis to my blog…

Good morning Keri and welcome. Can I start, as always, by asking you a little about yourself?

Thank you for the welcome, Jo, and for inviting me to take part on your blog.
I am the author of the suspense thrillers, Dead Letter Day and Dead Write, which are part of the Rebecca Angell series, and standalone murder mystery, The Darkness Beneath, and I am based in Norfolk, England, where I live with my two adorable, but naughty, kitties, Ellie and Lola. When I am not writing, I enjoy pub quizzes (I am horribly competitive), dinner parties, chilling in leafy beer gardens, and anything ghostly. (I’m not a firm believer, but find the subject matter fascinating). I also write lifestyle columns for two local magazines.

How did your writing journey begin?

I was fairly shy at school and daydreamed my way through all of my lessons. Outside of school I lived in a world of movies and books. As I never really wanted to do anything other than write I found myself at fifteen years old with no career plan. Over the years I have been many things, from a video rental store assistant to the world’s worst hairdresser (seriously, you would be better off letting Edward Scissorhands loose on your locks), an entertainment agent, a caricaturist and a contractor for a travel firm. The one constant through all of these jobs was a love to write.

I wrote my first novel at age twenty and bombarded every publisher and agent I could find. This resulted in several flat out rejections, but some gave encouragement telling me I had potential and to persevere.

Four more novels followed and a few more rejection letters. Along the way there was a brush with an unscrupulous publisher, a break with a top agent and an almost deal with one of the big guns. This ended with another blowing rejection and I quit my dreams for a while, convinced they were over. As I grew older and blonder (it covers the grey nicely), I swapped books for cats and red wine, though the urge to write never left.

Then five years ago I entered the Rethink Press New Novels Competition. I almost didn’t enter, as I lost two thirds of the Dead Letter Day manuscript from my computer and only had a paper copy. Taking a chance I submitted the first 10,000 words and rallied family and friends to help type the rest of the book. The efforts paid off and my novel won a publishing contract, and I took away two important life lessons from the experience. Never give up on your dreams and always use back up discs.

What were your favourite books as a child?

I was a voracious reader when I was younger and Enid Blyton stands out as a particular favourite. I loved the Faraway Tree stories and also the Adventure series. Black Beauty also holds fond memories. It wasn’t until I was a little older that I realised Anna Sewell had lived just down the road from me.

Name two authors who have influenced your writing. What is it about their work that made such an impact on you?

I guess the first would have to be Stephen King. I remember reading The Shining when I was fourteen years old. I was on holiday in Cyprus and it was the middle of a gorgeous sunny day when I first read about Room 217. That scene was subtly written, yet so scary I actually had to put the book down for a moment. It has stayed with me.
A few years later I was reading Misery (again on holiday) this time thinking how difficult it must be to write a full novel. At that time I was focusing on short stories and submitting them to magazines. By the time I had finished the book and headed back to England I had decided I wanted to try my hand at writing a novel. I completed my first attempt six months later.
The second author I consider to be a big influence is Tami Hoag. I love horror, but psychological suspense is my preference. The first Tami Hoag book I read was The Thin Dark Line. I couldn’t put it down and knew immediately that this genre was where I fitted as an author.

Beach or city girl? Where are you happiest and what is your favourite destination?

I love the coast and the countryside far more than I do the city, though I do adore my home city, Norwich. In my home county, my favourite place would have to be the North Norfolk Coast and I love Holkham and Wells-next-the-Sea. My late dad’s home-town of Long Melford, on the Suffolk/Essex border, also holds many fond memories. Further afield my favourite destinations are Italy (I love everything about this country; the food, the history, the scenery, the culture) and Crete (possibly the friendliest, most welcoming people, and the sunsets are spectacular).

Are you able to tell us a little about what you are working on at the moment?

I am currently working on my fourth book, another standalone psychological thriller.
The story’s protagonist is Lila, who is the sole survivor of a horrific car accident. She has no recollection of the accident and, as she starts to piece her life back together, a couple of unsettling incidents suggest that someone may want her dead. Can she figure out whom, why, and what happened the night of the accident, before it is too late?
Although I am British my first three novels were all US based, but this one I am planning to set in my home county of Norfolk, England. This will be a challenge as I need to un-Americanise my writing, plus I have a lot of US readers, so I am hoping they will stay with me.

And last of all – the castaway question. You’re taking yourself off for a year on a desert island. What four essential or luxury items would you take with you and why?

Now I could answer this question practically and say razor, clean underwear, etc., or be indulgent, and I am going to go for the latter. My bed, because I could not go a year without it, wine and coffee (for obvious reasons), plus music. IPod or radio, I don’t mind, but I couldn’t go for a whole year without music.


thumbnail (1)Keri Beevis wrote her first novel at age twenty, but it was a further twenty years later before she finally found success after entering the Rethink Press New Novels Competition 2012.

Her entry, Dead Letter Day, was a winner, earning her a publishing contract with Rethink Press and the book proved to be a hit, both critically and publically, with the Eastern Daily Press saying the book was ‘Exciting, gripping and tantalizing’, while Iceni Magazine called it ‘Brilliant from start to finish’.

The sequel to Dead Letter Day, Dead Write, which sees the return of Rebecca Angell, was released in 2014, and again received rave reviews in the local press.

Keri’s third novel, creepy mystery thriller, The Darkness Beneath, is a standalone story that was released in December 2017.

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Posted in Writing


Today I’m pleased to welcome back Linn B Halton, a lady of many talents…

Good morning Linn and welcome. Can I start, as always, by asking you a little about yourself?  

Waves from my new home in the Welsh Valleys, Jo – it’s lovely to be here.

I’m a Gemini, I love coffee and after years of not being able to eat chocolate, because of cluster migraines, I’m now catching up! I’m also a full-time author who is still suffering withdrawal symptoms from leaving behind a career as an interior designer. But I feel fortunate to be able to indulge my passion for writing and if I’m not looking after the kids I’m glued to my writing stool! Wielding the paintbrush and buying soft furnishing is how I spend my leisure time because we are serial movers.

How did your writing journey begin?

I always knew one day I would find the ‘me’ time to sit down and write full-length stories, but family life and a very hectic job made it a dream for the future. Then in December 2008 I could no longer fight the premonition I had lived with for some months, regarding my mother’s health. I resigned from my job designing interiors for new build homes and just a couple of weeks later my mother had a fall, breaking her hip and an arm. She hated being in hospital and after a week she moved into a little cottage we had in the garden of the old stone lodge in which my husband and I lived. That was in January 2009 and she died, unexpectedly, from a heart-attack at the end of March that year. Those final three months of her life were tough, but at least I was able to be by her side. We laughed a lot but I think we both new that time was running out.

Grief hit me like a sledgehammer, but I had to stay strong because she was the rock of the family. Everyone looked to me to fill her shoes as best I could and reassure them that life must, somehow, go on. However, when I was alone I could feel her presence around me in a very real way and it was encouraging, but also devastating. To keep myself sane I sat down in front of the computer in the little cottage where I’d acted as a less-than-able nurse and I began writing. And I haven’t stopped since.

Chick lit, cosy mystery/romances, rom-coms and women’s contemporary fiction, your writing covers a pretty wide set of genres. Have you ever thought of writing a psychological thriller or a crime novel?

It’s not a direction in which I could ever see myself going, if I’m being honest. Why? Well, I’ve come to realise life is much shorter than we think it is after losing several people to whom I was very close. The sort of loss that rocks your world and somehow the sun doesn’t shine quite so brightly without them in it. It makes you rethink what’s important in life.

My aim is always to fill my days with positive, happy thoughts and I write stories which do, sometimes, tackle traumatic issues and loss, but in an uplifting way. Life is about surviving the tough times and finding a way through. I suppose the message I like my characters to deliver is that self-healing often begins by reaching out to people who are also suffering. Something as simple as lending a listening ear, or being there for someone in need, can make a huge difference. It’s a chance to heal not just the other person, but also ourselves because good karma begets good karma. And I believe it helps to make the world a better place to live in.

If money were no object, where in the world would you particularly like to visit?

We’re travelled quite a bit as a family over the years and now any destination is usually tied-in with research for a book! Last year we visited Athens for the first time and I fell in love with the place and the people. To the extent that when the manuscript was finished I had to go back in and trim some of the descriptions, or it would have been a tourist guide to the city. But it’s now with Harper Impulse and I eagerly await first sight of the cover.

I also love France and Italy, too. This year we’re visiting Versaille for the third time and I’ll be taking notes and photos ready for a story I’m due to write early in 2019. We’re staying a short walk away from the Palace of Versaille but we’re also tacking on a few extra days to spend time at Le Crotoy. We’ve stayed there, too, several times and for me it’s about long walks along the beautiful beach, enjoying some great food and a few glasses of French wine.

What were your favourite books as a child?

Anything I could get my hands on. With a reading age a number of years above my chronological years, I devoured Enid Blyton books and as an early teen read historical fiction. In particular, I loved Woman in White by Wilkie Collins and, of course, books by Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte. Then I discovered the Angelique series by Sergeanne Golon, which was in fact written by Anne and Serge Golon.

Are you able to tell us a little about what you are working on at the moment?

I’m currently writing as both Linn B Halton – for Harper Impulse, and Lucy Coleman – for Aria Fiction. I have two manuscripts queued up and waiting for edits as Lucy, and one as Linn. So, in the meantime, I’ve just made a start on what will be my Christmas 2019 release with Aria Fiction.

I began the story the day that the dreaded ‘Beast from the East’ arrived in the Welsh valleys for the second time and we were snowed in. The setting couldn’t have been more perfect as my inspiration, because the story begins with a bumpy landing at Cardiff airport. The two main characters have one big thing in common and that’s the desire to run in the opposite direction from their respective family Christmas celebrations. The festive period isn’t always quite what we see reflected in those TV adverts, is it?

And lastly, you’ve been invited onto I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here. You’ve been asked to invite four celebrity companions. Who would you choose and why?

My first choice would be Tyler Henry – Hollywood’s ‘go to’ medium – for those long hours spent sitting around in the evenings. I don’t always understand the things that happen around me and he could ask the people who do know!

The Rock aka Dwayne Johnson would be my second choice, as who wouldn’t want a tough guy – with a good heart – there to have their back?

Oprah Winfrey because life would never be dull with her around given the life she’s led and the people she’s met.

John Newman, one inspiring singer who has battled with a brain tumour twice and beaten it. I fell in love with northern soul the moment I heard him sing Love Me Again.

It’s been a great pleasure answering your questions and visiting, Jo – thank you so much!

Thank you Linn, it’s been great having you along to chat…

Linn and Lucy latest


LinnLinn writes as both Linn B. Halton and Lucy Coleman. She lives in the Rhymney Valley in Wales, residing there with her lovely husband and cat, Ziggy. She has written over a dozen full-length novels since 2009 and has written short stories for a number of magazines. She is also known for her series of ‘Home by Design’ articles wearing her former interior designer hat.

“I’m a hopeless romantic, self-confessed chocaholic, and lover of coffee. For me life is about family, friends, and writing. Oh, and the occasional glass of White Grenache after a day getting hands-on with the paint brush at weekends…”

Her work has been short-listed in the UK’s Festival of Romance and the eFestival of Words Book Awards. Linn won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award.

Linn writes chick lit, romcoms, women’s contemporary fiction and psychic romance. Published by Aria Fiction, Harper Impulse, Choc Lit and Endeavour Media.

Linn’s links:

Read chapter one from each of her novels: Website:

Twitter: @LinnBHalton and @LucyColemanAuth

Facebook: LinnBHaltonAuthor

Amazon author pages: Linn B. Halton and Lucy Coleman


Posted in Writing



The Girl in the Photograph by Kirsty Ferry: Extract Post

The Cove, 1905

‘Ahoy there!’
Lorelei saw the figure on the shore waving to her as she settled on the rocks and felt a little burst of anger that her fun had been thus intruded upon. Then, as she watched him come closer to the shoreline, she realised that he was quite a stranger, and therefore very possibly the artist from the Dower House. From his confident stride and the way he held himself, this was no old man – no elderly gentleman who she could chat to. This was someone altogether much younger and much more vibrant.
She sat up straight on the rock and began to wring her hair out, twisting it and squeezing it between her long, artistic fingers. ‘Do you have permission to be on this beach?’ she shouted. ‘It is private, and I’m afraid that you are trespassing. If that is the case, you may have to be shot.’
The man laughed and she could see he was wading out towards her, heedless of his trousers soaking up the sea water.
‘I do have permission,’ he shouted back. ‘I’m renting the Dower House from the Scarsdales. I might ask you the same question. Do you have permission to be here?’
‘Then I assume you are Mr Cooper,’ stated Lorelei, ignoring his query.
‘I am indeed Mr Cooper,’ replied the man. He bowed elegantly, if a little mockingly, and she noticed with appreciation the fact that his hair fell over his face in a very Bohemian fashion.
‘Then you are an artist, Sir.’
‘I am an artist. But my medium is photography.’ He took a few more strides towards her so the water was up to the middle of his thighs and he smiled. The deep brown of his eyes was very pleasing and Lorelei smiled back. ‘Yet I do not know who you are,’ he continued. ‘Are you perhaps a mermaid or a siren, waiting for a sailor to clamber onto your rock and lapse unto certain death?’
‘You are Scottish, Mr Cooper,’ commented Lorelei, deliberately evading his questions. It would be rather fun to keep him guessing, she had decided. God knew she had little enough fun with Walter and she could never talk to him like this.
‘I am indeed Scottish. And that is now three things you know about me, Madam Siren.’ He held up his hand and began counting them off his fingers. ‘I am Mr Cooper. I take photographs. And I hail from Scotland. Oh! No, my apologies. You know four things. You also know that I have permission to be on this beach, which is more than I know about you. I may have to report you to the Scarsdales after all.’
‘Report away.’ Lorelei slipped off the rock and began to swim diagonally across the expanse of water, cutting quite closely by him on an arrow-straight route towards the bathing machine.
‘Incredible woman!’ Julian called after her. ‘I will discover your identity, have no fear.’
‘Oh, I don’t fear that!’ she shouted back over her shoulder. ‘And I am sure we shall meet again, sometime soon, Mr Cooper. Adieu!’


What if the past was trying to teach you a lesson?
Staying alone in the shadow of an abandoned manor house in Yorkshire would be madness to some, but art enthusiast Lissy de Luca can’t wait. Lissy has her reasons for seeking isolation, and she wants to study the Staithes Group an artists commune active at the turn of the twentieth century.
Lissy is fascinated by the imposing Sea Scarr Hall but the deeper she delves, the stranger things get. A lonely figure patrols the cove at night, whilst a hidden painting leads to a chilling realisation. And then there’s the photograph of the girl; so beautiful she could be a mermaid … and so familiar.
As Lissy further immerses herself, she comes to an eerie conclusion: The occupants of Sea Scarr Hall are long gone, but they have a message for her and they’re going to make sure she gets it.

Book 3 in The Rossetti Mysteries, Book 1 – Some Veil Did Fall. Book 2 – The Girl in the Painting

The Girl in the Photograph is available to purchase as an eBook and paperback from all good book retailers. Click here for buying options:


Kirsty Ferry HRKirsty Ferry is from the North East of England and lives there with her husband and son. She won the English Heritage/Belsay Hall National Creative Writing competition in 2009 and has had articles and short stories published in Peoples Friend, The Weekly News, It’s Fate, Vintage Script, Ghost Voices and First Edition. Her work also appears in several anthologies, incorporating such diverse themes as vampires, crime, angels and more.
Kirsty loves writing ghostly mysteries and interweaving fact and fiction. The research is almost as much fun as writing the book itself, and if she can add a wonderful setting and a dollop of history, that’s even better.
Her day job involves sharing a building with an eclectic collection of ghosts, which can often prove rather interesting.

Follow Kirsty on Twitter @Kirsty_Ferry
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Posted in Writing


Hi Ros and welcome. Can I start, as always, by asking you a little about yourself?

Ros Rendle TT pic 2Hi, I took early retirement, having been a primary school headteacher in three different schools, and we moved to live permanently in France. It was there, with plenty of time on my hands, that I began writing in earnest. I completed a book of contemporary romantic fiction which I initially indie published. I soon took it down after I was accepted onto the RNA New Writers’ Scheme and received feedback on the manuscript. My second book was accepted by Endeavour Press (now Endeavour Media) and after redrafting the first, that was accepted too. Also, I have two novels and a novella which are 20th century historical fiction about three sisters during times of major conflict. These, I have indie published and all three have been awarded ‘Chill with a Book’ reader’s awards as well as two with ‘Discovering Diamonds’ awards. The last in this ‘Strong Sisters series’ is on the way and will be set in the Cold War.

Who are your favourite authors and have any of them inspired your writing in any way?

This is a hard question because there are many. My mum was a published author of many romantic novels and was, too, a member of the RNA in the 1970s. She always encouraged me to write but I was a busy working mum and didn’t get around to it. I hope she’s proud now, from wherever she’s looking down.  I love James Hilton’s books, especially ‘Random Harvest’ which is a great traditional love story with a magnificent twist at the end. He’s more well-known for ‘Goodbye Mr Chips’. I have a copy from 1941 with my granny’s pencilled notes in the margin. She inspired my book, ‘Flowers of Flanders’, although it’s not her story. I guess there’s an emotive response to ‘Random Harvest’ for that reason, too.

How do you go about choosing character names for your novels?

For the Strong Sisters, I needed flower names because they are ‘Flowers of Flanders’ in the first book and ‘Flowers of Resistance’ in the second. So, I chose Rose, for the traditional warm and caring sister, Delphinium, known as Delphi, for the exotic, wild and selfish one and Iris, (Izzy) for the youngest, who will bloom in unusual, unexpected and striking ways as she matures. The last book in the series, set in the Cold War, is probably going to be ‘The Flower that Shattered Stones’. For the contemporary books I trawl names on the internet which seem to suit the times and the personality of the character. Some of my characters are French so I use the same principle.

Beach or city girl? Where are your favourite holiday destinations and why?

I would say beach, but I don’t enjoy lazing on one. I prefer exploring or bouncing about in the waves. My childhood was spent in Cornwall around Penzance, with cousins. Happy memories, and my latest WIP is set near there, in a tiny place called Mousehole. We have discovered cruising recently. That, I do love. Its so interesting to visit different places and also to spend time people watching.

Are you able to tell us a little about what you are working on at the moment?

I’ve literally just completed a new-adult romance. That’s the one set in Cornwall. I’m half way through another romance about a 40 something woman who has to relocate from London, following the death of her husband. She moves to a small Northamptonshire village. She needs to rehabilitate to contentment.  A homeless rough sleeper plays a significant part in this and as well as a Frenchman with a mysterious past.

And lastly, you’re planning a year away on a desert island. Name four must haves and the reason for choosing them.

Pencils and paper would, of course, be a must. I’m assuming there’s no electricity or internet. Perhaps a Bible. I follow no doctrinal religion at all, but in the absence of other people it would be good inspiration for adaptation to modern times. It’s full of great stories.  That’s two items. I’m counting the pencils and paper as one. Hope that’s alright. I’d take a family photo. My husband and I have two daughters and four granddaughters as well as two sons-in-law. My last item would be one of my ‘fumsup’. TT Ros Rendle 1These are tiny keepsakes of a mannikin given to soldiers in WW1. They have wings on their ankles for a speedy return, a four-leaved clover impressed into the forehead and their tiny arms raise up to touch the wooden bead head. I have a collection of different ones; some brass, others silver or gold. Many are quiTe rare.


I worked as a head teacher, so my writing then was policy documents, essays and some stories to which young children enjoyed listening. I have two married daughters and four granddaughters. Having lived in France for ten years we are now back in England living in a small town between Stamford and Peterborough and loving it. We enjoy ballroom and Latin dancing as well as walking the dogs.

All my books may be purchased here:

or from me, via my website:


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Posted in Writing

The Hartsford Mysteries Series: Watch for Me by Candlelight by Kirsty Ferry – REVIEW

It’s publication day for Kirsty Ferry’s second instalment of the Hartsford Mysteries Series and here’s my review.


“The stars are aligning and it’s time again …”

Working at the Folk Museum in Hartsford village means that Kate Howard is surrounded by all sorts of unusual vintage items. Of course she has her favourites; particularly the Victorian ice skates with a name – ‘CAT’ – mysteriously painted on the sides.
But what Kate doesn’t realise is how much she has in common with Catriona Aphrodite Tredegar, the original owner of the skates, or how their lives will become strangely entwined. All Kate knows is that as soon as she bumps into farrier Theo Kent, things start getting weird: there’s the vivid, disconcerting visions and then of course the overwhelming sense that she’s met Theo before …

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This book does indeed confirm Kirsty Ferry as one of the best time slip authors. In Watch for me by Candlelight we are back at Hartsford Hall in Suffolk. Elodie, who featured in Watch for Me by Moonlight, is now married to Alex and pregnant with twins. This time the story centres on Kate Howard who looks after Hartsford Hall’s Folk Museum. As the story begins Kate starts her day with a visit to the bakery to collect rolls for her breakfast. There she bumps into a stranger. He looks familiar. Kate wonders where she’s seen him before.

Right from the off I really liked Kate’s character. She’s committed to her job, loves Hartsford Hall and the village and has unlimited patience with everyone. One night the unexpected sound of the cuckoo clock downstairs wakes her and triggers the beginning of her time travel adventures. She finds herself back in Victorian times as Catriona Tredegar a young woman staying at Hartsford Hall with her friend Lady Amelia (Millie) Hartsford. A nasty fall while skating on the ice has brought the Hall’s blacksmith Will Hadden to her rescue and sees the beginning of a forbidden love affair between the two of them.

Nineteenth and twenty first century stories run together seamlessly. Kate has her share of troubles with arrogant, self-absorbed boyfriend Chris and her awkward assistant Jenna. And then there’s her attraction to newly arrived farrier Theo Kent, the familiar stranger she bumped into at the bakery. Both heroines face many challenges, Cat probably more so due to the social restrictions of the time.  Her love affair with Will seems doomed from the very beginning. With everything stacked against them can they ever have a happy ever after?

The story is also related in parts from Will and Theo’s viewpoints, adding their voices and life challenges into to mix.  All in all it made for an absorbing read.

Although it was sad to say goodbye to Katie, Theo, Cat and Will, I held onto the thought that Kirsty no doubt still has many more Hartsford Hall tales up her sleeve – great news for all of us.

All in all an excellent read with great characters, well deserving of five stars.

I would like to thank Choc Lit for an ARC copy of Watch for Me by Candlelight in exchange for an honest review.