A Taste of Death by H.V. Coombs – #BlogTour / Extract

Hi guys, happy Friday! Another day and another blog tour, and today I have an extract from H.V. Coombs’s “A Taste of Death” to whet your appetite – I, for example, am desperate to read this book, as it sounds brilliant, and am already looking toward my holidays, hoping I’ll find some time. In the meantime, hope you enjoy the extract with me.

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Extract four – Chapter Four

I tried to kid myself that I liked this minimalist look, but, in truth, it was rather depressing and the carpet that Mrs Cope had bequeathed me – well, threadbare would be a euphemism. It was stained and moth-eaten. Frankly, it was nasty.

Well, I could always take my mind off the carpet by looking out of the window. I had a view across the common and in the daylight I could see Dave Whitfield’s house with the charred mess of his obelisk and behind it, trees and fields.

I finished my yoga, squared up in front of the mirror and did some shadow boxing. I had been quite good at boxing when I was young, as an amateur, and had come back to it in my late thirties, obviously just for fun. Far too old to compete. I did some basic simple combinations, left jab, straight right, left hook etc., using the timer on my phone for three-minute rounds. Then the front doorbell sounded. I rolled my eyes, pulled a tracksuit on and went downstairs to investigate.

‘Do come in, DI Slattery,’ I said, as I opened the door.

‘Thank you.’ He didn’t sound terribly thankful. I had forgotten his intimidating bulk, he filled the door frame.

Slattery was a big man. He looked at me coldly. His eyes were brown and hard. With his glossy black hair and slightly swarthy colouring he did look a bit like an over the hill romantic lead from a soap-opera. A modern-day ageing Heathcliff.

Perhaps I ought to hum a bit of Kate Bush’s ‘Wuthering Heights’, as played a lot on Beech Tree FM ‘home of local radio, coming at you through the trees …!’

Heathcliff …

Perhaps it would relax him. I looked at his unfriendly face. Perhaps not.

There was no back room at the restaurant. Just the eating area, toilets and kitchen. We could have gone upstairs but there were no chairs and while I couldn’t speak for DI Slattery, I personally had no great wish to sit next to him on my mattress.

For a moment I envisioned the idea: it would be worth it, just to see the look on his face. ‘Do take a seat …”

Or, sinking sexily down on to the mattress and patting it suggestively, maybe undoing a button or two on my chef’s jacket in a saucy way.

Let’s make ourselves comfy, shall we—’ a seductive smile as I had no hair to toss alluringly back ‘—I can call you Michael, can’t I, Detective Inspector? Let’s not be formal …

I waved him to a table in the restaurant. I did not want to switch machines that had been cleaned on again. He would have to do without the offer of hospitality. No coffee or cake for you, Mr Policeman.

‘How can I help you?’

He sat opposite me, giving me a sardonic once over. It was such a classic policeman’s look, polite scepticism with a hint of amused contempt.

‘How long have you been here?’ he asked.

‘On this earth?’ I said innocently.

He rolled his eyes. ‘In this village.’

‘Since the first of January,’ I said. He knew that anyway.

He nodded. ‘And during this time we have had two crimes: a break-in and a fire bomb.’ There was something accusatory about his tone, as if it were my fault.

‘A bomb?’

‘Mm-hm, Mr Whitfield’s obelisk was set alight with an incen­diary device which was detonated with a timer made from a mobile phone. Are you good with electronics, Ben?’

‘No,’ I said, shrugging. ‘It’s unfortunate, the crimewave, but it’s nothing to do with me.’

Slattery looked at me sceptically.

‘Pure coincidence,’ I said firmly.

He nodded thoughtfully and then said, ‘Of course, you’ve been in trouble with the law before.’

There was the obvious implication that he had run me through the system because I was a suspicious blot on the landscape; the veiled threat of ‘I’m on to you, Sonny Jim’ and the implicit threat that he would make sure knowledge of my chequered past would return to haunt me.

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The Summer of Second Chances by Maddie Please – #BlogTour/Extract

Hi guys! A new day, a new blog tour! I am very excited to hosting “The Summer of Second Chances” by Maddie Please and I have a lovely extract from this lovely little novel for you. I am currently reading it and guys, what can I say? It is a light – hearted read with some heavier issues as well and it sounds really, really promising – keep your eyes peeled for my review in the next few days! And in the meantime, enjoy the extract.

[Extract 3 from Chapter 1 ]

I stood outside Holly Cottage, lost in thought. Just about every­thing I had taken for granted had gone wrong. Now I had to take this chance and focus on the future because I certainly couldn’t change the past.

I got out, locking the car behind me although, to be honest, it didn’t feel as though there was a living soul for miles. I wandered around to the back of the house, my heels catching between the broken paving slabs. I wondered if the ‘huge and bear-like’ Bryn was around to watch the homeless idiot arriving. Might he be lurking in the shadows under the trees down the lane? For some reason I pictured him standing, shoulders hunched like Lurch from The Addams Family, knuckles dragging on the ground. Fortunately there was no sign of him. But he had left the back door key under an upturned bucket in the porch as Jess had assured me he would. The key stuck for a heart-stopping few moments and then turned in the lock with an unwilling squeak. I let myself in to the hall.

The stale scent of wet dog, mingled with something even more unpleasant, hit me. The smell of damp carpet, neglect and, unmistakably, fish.

I left the door open and made my way into the sitting room, one hand over my nose. The room was flagstoned with a large rug over the top, which was soaking. Someone had flung a plastic bucket plus water into the middle and my shoes squelched as I took a hesitant step into the room. They had also enhanced the décor by chucking around a few shovelfuls of ash from the fire. The walls were pale and marked with squares of grime where pictures had been removed. Underneath one windowsill the paper had been pulled off altogether and someone had drawn stars in pink and purple felt tip pen on the wall.

The smell was stronger here, pungent and eye watering. Trying not to gag, I pushed back the curtains and opened both the sash windows. The crispness of the evening air was welcome. I hurried back outside for a moment to refresh my lungs and then went upstairs to explore further, finding a small bathroom and two bedrooms.

There was evidence in the expensive wallpaper and the sisal carpet that this place had once been very pretty, but now it was neglected and extremely dirty. There were stains on the floor and muddy fingerprints around the china light switches, and someone had been free with wax crayons on the walls of the landing.

In the corner of the bathroom was a huge web, the spider still busy in the middle with a struggling bluebottle. I shuddered. On the mirror, in coral lipstick, was scrawled Bitch. It neatly crossed over the reflection of my cold, pale, frightened face.

Jess had wanted me to clean and decorate, that was the deal, but it was obvious this place wasn’t just in need of a flick round with the antiseptic wipes and a lick of paint; it needed pressure washing. The stink from downstairs was curling up the stairs so I opened all the windows and re-buttoned my coat.

In the larger of the two bedrooms was a mahogany wardrobe that had once been highly polished and beautiful, but was now scratched, covered with globs of Blu-Tack and propped up with a brick at one corner where one of the feet had been lost. There was a sink in the corner filled with scummy water and dead flies.

‘Bloody hell!’ I said.

My words echoed around the room.

‘What on earth’s been going on here?’ asked a voice from behind me.

I spun round, squeaking with shock. There was a silhouette of a man in the doorway, his shoulders almost filling the space. I yelped again.

‘Well, if you don’t want people to walk in you shouldn’t leave all the doors open,’ he said, unapologetic.

‘And you shouldn’t just wander in to someone else’s house uninvited,’ I said, my voice shrill with fright. I flapped my hands at him to shoo him back down the stairs.

He turned and went, his movements unhurried and careful in the confined space of the stairwell. I followed him downstairs and into the kitchen, trying to calm the thudding of my heart.

‘What’s happened here?’ he said. ‘It wasn’t like this the other day. And what’s that terrible smell?’

‘How would I know?’ I replied. ‘I’ve only just got here.’

‘Hang on,’ he said and went into the sitting room, ducking his head under the lintel. He searched around for a few minutes and then retrieved a rotting fish wrapped in newspaper from behind a radiator.

‘Jesus!’ I clamped my hand back over my nose and watched him take it outside into the garden.

He reappeared, framed in the kitchen door. ‘I’ve no idea where that came from. I’m assuming it’s nothing to do with you?’

‘Of course it isn’t. Why the hell would I do a thing like that?’

‘OK, calm down. All I know is it didn’t smell like this when I last called in. Nor was there a pond on the sitting-room floor. Perhaps the Websters are responsible?’

‘The Websters?’

Oh yes the Websters. What had Jess said about them? I should have paid more attention.

‘The last tenants. Two years without a problem and then Mr Webster discovered skunk and scratch cards. They left a few days ago. Spent all his money on things other than his priorities. But I know he left his house keys behind when he left. I can’t think how he could have got back in. I’ve been here, Webster had a beaten-up old camper van. Red and white. I’m sure I would have noticed…’

I stood watching him for a moment wondering who he reminded me of.

‘It needs a bit of a sort out,’ he said, his blue eyes flicking from the piles of junk mail behind the door to the chocolate handprints on the wall. At least I hoped they were chocolate.

‘A bit of a sort out?’ I said, incredulous. ‘Never mind the smell, it’s absolutely filthy and disgusting.’

‘Ah well.’ He shrugged his shoulders. They really were very broad. ‘I’m Bryn Palmer, by the way.’ He held out a hand and I shook it.

‘I’m Charlotte Calder. What do you mean “ah well”? Would you want to live here?’

He stuck his hands in the pockets of his jeans and rocked back on his heels. ‘Nope.’

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Her Last Breath by Tracy Buchanan – #BlogTour/Extract

Hi guys. Today I am absolutely delighted to be taking part in another blog tour. I am so sure that all of you have heard about Tracy Buchanan and her compelling, intriguing novels – on 29th June her fourth book, Her Last Breath, was published by Avon and do watch this space for my review coming soon! In the meantime, I have a brilliant extract for you – enjoy!

33645202[Extract 5 from Chapter 2 pp. 15-16]

‘Would you like a drink?’ she asked Louis. ‘Water? Green tea? Organic beer?’ She leaned forward, lowering her voice. ‘Or we do have normal drinks that Seb keeps stowed away in a cupboard somewhere.’

He laughed. ‘Water would be perfect, thank you.’

She poured them both some water from the jug she kept in her fridge, then sat down across from him, brushing her blonde fringe from her eyes.

Louis peered towards the oven. ‘Don’t you use a timer?’

‘No. I’ve been baking so long I have an instinct for time.’

He laughed. ‘Why doesn’t that surprise me? So, just a month until your book launch. How are you feeling?’

Estelle felt a tremor of nerves. She’d been waiting so long for this moment and thought she was ready for it, but the closer she got, the more she felt like a fraud. Did she really deserve this? A friend of hers who’d had a novel published said she’d felt the same. Despite the fact she knew how hard she’d worked, it still felt alien, unearned. She called it ‘imposter syndrome’ and Estelle had it bad.

‘Nervous,’ she admitted. ‘Excited too though.’

‘No need to be nervous. So, let’s start at the very beginning. Where do you think your interest in food first came from?’

Estelle hesitated a moment. She could tell the journalist it had all started with how scarce good food was when she was a child, pale meals shoved in a microwave, cheap takeaways bought by her parents. She could tell him how, when she went into care and foster homes, it wasn’t always much better so she’d had to learn from an early age how to prepare food, the simple things like making scrambled eggs. She could tell him about how she paid attention in cooking classes at school because of this, unlike her peers, because she had no choice if she wanted to feed herself. She could then go on to tell him about Lillysands and the Garlands. Finally a place where food was something to be treasured and enjoyed, making dishes with her foster mother Autumn, helping to serve up business lunches for her foster father Max.

But she didn’t.

‘I really don’t know,’ she said instead. ‘It’s just always held a fascination for me.’

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Confetti at the Cornish Cafe by Phillipa Ashley / Blog Tour + Extract

Hi guys, hope you all have a pleasant and relaxing Sunday and that the weather is spoiling you, just like it’s spoiling us here. Today I have something that will help you to enjoy your weekend even more – as a part of Phillipa Ashley’s blog tour celebrating the third part in the Cornish Cafe series, “Confetti at the Cornish Cafe”, I have a little extract from the novel. Put your feet high and enjoy!

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Yes, I know Demelza’s is my cafe but even after six months, I always think walking inside is like stepping into a cosy, delicious haven. We’ve pulled out the stops to make it welcoming this cold spring morning, arranging early narcissi in stone jars on the window ledges to add a pop of yellow sunshine. Confetti-coloured freesias have been placed on every table and we’ve laid the two tables closest to the window with the vintage china I found at Kilhallon House last summer. Lily and Ben should be able to enjoy the view over the sea from there. The coffee machine is already burbling and the room is filled with the smell of freshly baked pastries. In the background, Cornish folk songs are playing softly. Mentally, I cross my fingers and hope they like the fresh and welcoming atmosphere we’ve tried to create.

Ben plonks himself down at a table and picks up a teacup as if he’s never seen one before. Lily lingers in the middle of the room. She pulls off her hood and a mane of glossy red hair falls down her back. Although she wears very little make-up, and is swamped by the shiny coat, she’s still stunning. Not like a real human, but a fairy in a children’s storybook. She turns around slowly, and lifts her arms, as if the cafe might revolve around her if she so wills.

I hold my breath. She could quite easily turn round this second and head out of Kilhallon and that would be that. Because we’re not glamorous, though we’ll bust a gut to be our very best. At the end of the day, we’re only a cosy little place in a wild and beautiful corner of Cornwall.

Lily sighs deeply as if she’s just finished a particularly hard yoga session. My heart thumps madly. I avoid a strong urge to wipe my palms on my jeans, waiting for this big star’s verdict on my little Cornish cafe.

Lily stares straight at me, a sad but sweet smile on her face.

‘This place is very … soothing. Like being wrapped in a big squishy duvet. It’s very authentic. Yes, I like it. I like it a lot.’

It’s hard not to let out a huge sigh of relief, even if part of me already wishes that Lily, Ben and Harry would get straight back into their ‘actor mobile’ and drive out of Kilhallon. Yes, it’s exciting to have them here and it would be amazing publicity for the park and cafe but I already can’t stand the tension of trying to live up to their expectations. Calm down, Cal would say, just be yourself.

But he’s not here, is he?

Lily perches on one of our old oak settles next to Ben. She picks up one of the vintage tapestry cushions I ‘recycled’ from the farmhouse and hugs it. Ben is on his phone. Harry is sitting at a nearby table with his arms folded. He makes the chair look an infant’s school chair.

‘What can we get you all, then, before we discuss menus and food? I thought we’d warm up in here before we take a tour of the rest of the park and the wedding …’

‘Handfasting,’ Ben mutters without glancing up from his phone. ‘We’re going to do the legal bit at the register office near our house a few weeks later. No one will be looking for that once we’ve had the ceremony here.’

‘Isla said you want a simple ceremony in a natural setting?’ I say.

‘Oh yes, we don’t want a fuss, do we, Ben? I can’t stand all those weddings with zillions of people where the bride and groom sit on thrones and everyone arrives by helicopter.’

‘Is there a helipad?’ Ben chimes in.

‘Sorry, no. There’s a field behind us that the emergency services could use at a push but no helipad.’

‘Oh.’ He goes back to his phone.

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Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig / Blog Tour + Extract

Hi guys. Today I have a new blog tour for all of you. It is for Benjamin Ludwig’s debut novel “Ginny Moon” and a really have no words to describe how special and wonderful this book is – you just have to read it for yourself, then I am sure you’ll understand what I mean. Next to my gushing review there is an excerpt 1 (Read the second part of the chapter at Jaffa Reads Too) – put your feet high and enjoy!

Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig

33370511Publisher: HQ

Publishing Date: 1st June 2017

Source:  Received from the publisher in return for an honest review!

Number of pages: 384

Genre: Literature/Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Meet Ginny. She’s fourteen, autistic, and has a heart-breaking secret…

‘Brilliant’ – Graeme Simison, author of The Rosie Project

Ginny Moon is trying to make sense of a world that just doesn’t seem to add up….

After years in foster care, Ginny is in her fourth forever family, finally with parents who will love her.

Everyone tells her that she should feel happy, but she has never stopped crafting her Big Secret Plan of Escape.

Because something happened, a long time ago – something that only Ginny knows – and nothing will stop her going back to put it right…

A fiercely poignant and inspirational story a lost girl searching for a place to call home. Ginny Moon will change everyone who spends time with her.

Rating: five-stars

Recently I was able to read some fiction novels featuring autistic children as main characters, introducing us to their different worlds. “Ginny Moon” is the first novel about a girl but it is exactly as complex and empathetic as all the other books that I had a pleasure to read. However here the author, Benjamin Ludwig, actually never mentions Ginny’s autism. We know she is in a special classroom, she takes part in the Disabled Olympics playing basketball, we see her problems and the way she perceives the world and we also see the autistic traits, such as having exactly nine grapes for breakfast, keeping eye on her watch and the exactness of the time, the comfort of routine, but the author doesn’t emphasize the disability so visibly, and I loved the way he dealt with it. It gives us a chance to see a true Ginny, not only in the light of her autism.

Ginny Moon, the main character in this novel, is written in such a brilliant way that it’s truly hard to describe in words how brilliant she was. She was so special – and not because she was autistic, but because she was incredibly brave, honest and true to herself. She was taken away from her Birth Mom Gloria by Social Services when she was nine years old – until then she’s been living the unimaginable, suffering emotional and physical abuse from her drug – addicted mother. Before she found herself in her Forever House, she’s been with two “Forever Families”. Now she lives in Blue House, with Forever Mom Maura and Forever Dad Brian. Everything seem great, that is until a child of the Forever Parents is born and Ginny tries to organize her own kidnapping. She still lives in the past, when she was 9 years old and was taking care of her Baby Doll – and she thinks she must take good care of her.

Reading Ginny’s story was so heart – breaking! I couldn’t help but fell in love with this brave, exceptional girl, and the way she was then treated by Maura truly broke my heart. Ginny was so lovely with her love to Michael Jackson and all the things “exactly”, not “approximately” – she needed exactly nine grapes for her breakfast. There was such a huge burden she was carrying and nobody believed her, and I can only imagine how frustrated Ginny must have felt, even though she couldn’t put those feelings in words. Her goal was to help her Baby Doll and she’s prepared to do anything, no matter the consequences – because I think that she realizes that there are going to be consequences. She was able to pair off the facts and she was wise.

Ginny’s Forever Parents were so genuine, with all the distress, stress, despair but also concern, this was portrayed in such a realistic way. I don’t want to have a go at Maura, I really don’t want, but there were moments that I despised her. On the one hand I truly understood where she was coming from, I got her fear but on the other hand I just couldn’t accept the way she changed. However, I think, it was all done on purpose, so that we all get a very realistic and honest picture of how complicated and difficult it can be when you adopt a child, especially a child with special needs.

What makes the story even more special is the fact that it’s told from Ginny’s point of view. We get through her life together with her, we know her thoughts and fears and we know that there is a huge burden that doesn’t let her sleep. The author has done a brilliant job unlocking her world to us and letting us understand. Ginny will easily worm her way into your heart, it is impossible not to love and admire her, the girl with the biggest heart in the world. Her characters is so complex and it feels so incredibly authentic, she’s quirky, wise and courageous, even if she doesn’t know it herself. The writing style is brilliant, running smoothly, and the author has done an incredible job with getting into Ginny’s head and showing us the world from her perspective. I personally can’t believe that it’s only Benjamin Ludwig’s debut novel – it is so complex, so intelligent and touching upon so many difficult issues without making the book feeling desperately sad.

“Ginny Moon” is a beautiful, gentle and realistic story about families, love, relationships, domestic abuse and communication within a family. It is a unique, outstanding read that will break and then mend your heart, and then break it again. However, there is so much hope in this read, it is also uplifting and somehow healing. It is poignant and inspiring, with wonderful characters. It is full of empathy. This story captures your heart immediately, it is written with so much insight and understanding, I’ve no idea how the author has managed to get into Ginny’s head so extremely well, but he’s done it. It deeply moved me, this book. Gorgeous, compelling read, a real tear – jerker – highly recommended! I am truly happy to be able to have read this novel and I hope you will buy your own copy – if I hadn’t received mine for the review purposes, I’d buy it in any case.

EXTRACT

2:50 in the Afternoon, Wednesday, September 8th

My Forever Parents are outside the door of Mrs. Lomos’s tiny office. “Let’s step into the conference room, Ginny,” says Mrs. Lomos.

We take five steps to get to the conference room which is across the hall. My Forever Parents sit at the table so I sit too. “Hi, Ginny,” my Forever Mom says.

“Hi,” I say back to her. She sits with her hands on her big round belly which is as big as a basketball. My Forever Dad’s belly is big too and his face is round but he doesn’t have a white beard or a nose like a cherry.

“Ginny, your parents came in to talk about what happened last night with the electronic baby,” says Mrs. Lomos.

I sit and wait for them to talk. But they don’t.

“They let me know that you put it in a suitcase,” says Mrs. Lomos. “Is that true?”

“Do you mean the plastic electronic baby?” I say.

She looks at me funny. “Yes, of course,” she says.

“Then yes,” I say.

“Why did you put it there?”

I make sure my mouth is shut so no one can see inside my brain. Then I look at her over my glasses. “Because it was screaming,” I say.

“So you decided to hide it under all your blankets and zip the suitcase shut?”

“No,” I say. “I kept my quilt out.” Because my quilt is the only thing I have left from the apartment. Gloria’s own Frenchy mom helped her make it when she ran away to Canada with me after she had me in a hospital. They made it together for me and for no one else. I used it all the time to wrap my Baby Doll in.

“All right, but why didn’t you try to comfort the baby?” says Mrs. Lomos.

“I did try to comfort the plastic electronic baby,” I say. “I said ush, ush, ush like you’re supposed to and I tried to give it my fin­ger but the hole in its mouth didn’t open. I gave it a bottle too.”

“And that didn’t work?”

I shake my head no.

“Did you do anything else to make the baby be quiet?” my Forever Dad says.

I make sure my mouth is closed again so no one can see inside. I shake my head a second time.

Because lying is something you do with your mouth. A lie is something you tell.

“Are you sure?” he says. “Think hard.”

So I think hard. About keeping my mouth closed.

“Ginny, there’s a computer inside the electronic baby,” says Mrs. Lomos. “It keeps track of how many times the baby is fed and changed, and how long it cries. It even keeps track of strikes and shakes.”

Read the second part of the chapter at Jaffa Reads Too as part of the Ginny Moon Blog Tour.

Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig is out now! [Hardback, £12.99]

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Island of Secrets by Patricia Wilson / Blog Tour + Guest Post

I am thrilled to be hosting Patricia Wilson on my blog today. Her newest release – a debut novel –  “The Island of Secret”, has one of the most gorgeous and promising synopsis and with so many 5* reviews I am sure it’s going to be an excellent read! On my stop today I have a little teaser for you – an extract from the book. Enjoy!

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 ‘Writing about locations’

Location is the gift-wrapping of a story. When you set the scene, you also set the mood, and hint at the drama and tension that will follow. A sensitive description of a scene’s location presents the ambiance that surrounds the action, drama, and emotion.

Location is more than scene setting, it should involve as many of the senses as possible, sight, sound, smells, and even touch. Trying to avoid the use of clichés can be difficult. The turquoise water, cobalt sky, and lashing rain, are all over used, but occasionally still have their place.

If you can’t go to your story’s location, use YouTube, google earth, tourist information and travel books to soak up the topography and atmosphere.

When it is possible, there is nothing to compare with actually visiting the scene in your novel and absorbing every element of the surroundings. However, the location does more than describe where we are, it also mirrors the action. Ugly back allies are the places where dastardly deeds take place. Beautiful beaches await happy families. Candle-lit restaurants are filled with romantic couples. Breaking with these, and similar, expectations can increase tension and unpredictability in a novel, thereby keeping the reader hooked.

Background people can also accessorise the location. Physical traits of the ‘extras’ in a scene can add much to the image and mood picked up by the reader. Nothing beats physically spending some time in your novels location. Take a pen, a notebook, and a camera. Video if possible to capture the noise too. Jot down the smells. Eavesdrop. Go through all these things when writing the drama that happens in that same location.

Strengthen the location descriptions once your story is down. Start with the strongest aspect, expand with lesser images. That way, the reader is fixed in the location from the off. The stink of the fish market, rather than, the market stinks of fish.

Keep the reader informed as to where they are, close to the start of a new scene. Jog the reader’s memory with a few words, occasionally, and this is where your extras come in useful. A sweating bartender smears beer stains on a chipped granite counter. A uniformed bartender flicks a pristine white cloth before polishing champagne flutes. Just refresh our memory.

Let the reader sense the atmosphere. The smoke, loud music, greasy wine glass, men squeezing past, body odour, flowery perfume. The location puts us in the mood for scenes that follow.

Describe the location as if writing flash fiction. Keep it strong and evocative. Make every word count, and don’t forget to bring in some contrasts to grab, and hold on to, the reader’s attention.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Patricia Wilson lives in the village of Amiras in Crete where the book is set. She was wilson2c-patriciainspired to write when she unearthed a machine gun in her garden – one used in the events that unfolded in September 1943, and much of the novel is based on real stories told to her by the oldest women of Amiras. Women who’ve never spoken of their experiences before. This is her debut novel. #IslandofSecrets

The Secrets of Ivy Garden by Catherine Ferguson / Blog Tour + Extract

Hi guys, and happy Monday! And guess what? Yes! I have a new blog tour for you today! I am incredibly thrilled to have an extract from Catherine Ferguson’s brand new shiny novel “The Secrets of Ivy Garden” to share with you – the title of this book is just perfect for this lovely spring day, don’t you think? So put your feet high, make yourself latte and enjoy!

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‘Go,’ she hisses, handing me a ramekin of strawberry jam. ‘Your job’s here whenever you decide you want to come back, okay? Whether that’s in a month or even in six months’ time.’

Her kindness is too much. I have to get away before I break down and make a complete fool of myself.

‘Thank you,’ I mouth. Then I rush over to Betty with the jam, collect my coat and bag from the cloakroom and step outside into the blustery spring day. It’s a wrench leaving the cosy warmth of the café behind, and as the bell on the door jangles behind me and a cool breeze lifts my hair, I wonder with a pang how long it will be before I cross the threshold again. With her daily dose of light chit-chat and practical good sense, Patty has almost single-handedly kept me sane.

Ivy died on 14th December from a massive heart attack.

My memory of the run-up to Christmas and beyond is a bit of a blur, but I do remember refusing to leave my flat, despite offers from my best friends, Beth and Vicki – and also Patty – to spend Christmas with them. After the funeral in early January, I went straight back to work, even though Patty told me I needed more time to grieve. I convinced her that work was good therapy. And so for the past few months, I’ve slipped into a safe routine: keeping busy all day at the café, going home to eat and mindlessly watch TV, then sitting in the darkened kitchen, with just the pool of light from an Anglepoise lamp, to do my sketching, hour after hour, often until well after midnight when my eyes are stinging. I know if I go to bed too early, I’ll only end up lying there, staring into the darkness, fretting about the future.

I’ve always loved painting and sketching, and now it’s proving to be an absolute life-line. Ivy’s big dream for me was to study art at college when I left school. She used to say being an artist was my ‘calling’ because my paintings made people think about life and gave them pleasure. But however much I might have wanted to pursue my art as a career, I knew it was never going to be a practical option because we didn’t have the money. When Patty offered to promote me from Saturday girl to full-time staff when I was sixteen, I jumped at the chance, and I’m still there.

I still sketch, though, especially now. When I’m focused on drawing the perfect foxglove, it’s easier to keep the dark thoughts at bay.

I’ve always been the sort of practical, clear-headed person people can count on in a crisis. But since Ivy died, I’ve felt vulnerable and far less sure of myself. My insides shift queasily every time I think of making that long train journey south, leaving behind everything that’s familiar. Even telling myself it’s just for a few weeks, and then I’ll be safely back home, doesn’t seem to make any difference.

How can I bear to stay in Moonbeam Cottage if Ivy’s not there?

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