Monday, 30 September 2019

Review: One of Us Has To Go, by Katja Schulz

One Of Us Has To GoOne Of Us Has To Go by Katja Schulz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was curious about this book, as I know a few people with both mild and severe OCD. As it is the true story of the author's life, with a few alterations to respect privacy, I wondered how it would be written: what point of view it would take, where it would begin, how the information would be imparted. It read as an intriguing real-life drama, with elements of suspense.

The author starts at a breaking point for the main character - one of us has to go - and then returns to the past, starting from the beginning to tell the story of Finja and her friend Sonja, who is the one with OCD, moving backwards and forwards between the past and present day until the past catches up.

I found the writing compelling and the story peaked my curiosity, especially with cliff hangers at the end of some of the chapters. I became emotionally invested in Finja's story, and needed to see how it was going to turn out: how she reached that breaking point and what the outcome would be. I wasn't disappointed - in fact it has quite a revelation at the end, with an ending I hadn't anticipated at all and landed the 'wow' factor.

The author puts across the chaos of the OCD sufferer, and also how it affects those caring for them, in a way that is coherent for anyone to understand, even those of us who do not suffer it or come into contact daily with those that do. I was able to understand on a level I hadn't before, and in fact I was amazed at how much the author had been able to achieve in their life - especially living in multiple countries and different cultures. It shows that the illness doesn't deprive the victim of their ability to live, just whether they are able to enjoy the life they were living.

It also highlighted the trauma that is often a root cause for this illness, and how the people that inflicted the trauma are never held accountable. I was horrified by both sets of parents and their lack of responsibility and caring.

The other exceptional part about this book is that the author is not a native English speaker, and this is not a translated book (even though it is edited), and yet it reads as well as any written by an native English person.

I am keen to read this authors second book, and would urge anyone with an interest in understanding OCD better to give this book a read.



View all my reviews

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 126

This week's incredible prompt picture is by artist Miss Aniela (real name Natalie), a British Fine Arts Photographer. She has some amazing pictures in her Surreal Fashion gallery, take a look. 

It seems that through my entries at the moment, I am channelling a character that insists on being heard, this might well be her beginning.

The General Guidelines can be found here.

How to create a clickable link in Blogger comments can be found on lasts week's post here.

There is also a Facebook group for Mid-Week Flash, if you fancy getting the prompt there.



Snubbed


It was not on that they had ignored her. She didn’t care that it was their day or their wedding, she was the important one; she should be there. People might not want to recognise that she was the controlling power, they might want to pretend that it was that stupid muppet they’d put a crown on, but she was the force behind him. She was the Crimson Queen and he was a pathetic imitation.

But no invitation had turned up; she had been snubbed. That wouldn’t do. She’d have to show them she wasn’t someone to be trifled with. She’d show them what real power was in this pathetic place they called a kingdom. They might have scraped it together from the rubble of the destroyed world and taken pride in that, but it could have been so much more. They’d settled for following the old traditions, some of which had even been the cause of the downfall in the first place. They didn’t learn. It’s like they didn’t want to.  

If their half-arsed King would only let her take control and let her lead, but although he spouted about it no longer being a patriarch and women being equal, it was crap! He held her down and held her back wanting to be the figure head, claiming he was making it easy on her. Ha! She’d show him. She’d show all of them!

Brianna stalked out of her bedchamber. She knew where they were getting married; the old stately home had the only rooms still worthy of such a special occasion.

She stomped into the room she used as her wardrobe and started sifting through her dresses. Where was it? She knew it was here somewhere. She looked up at a shelf and saw a gold brocaded piece of material sticking out of a box. Ah, there it was!

She got it down and shook the voluminous dress out. It had been a rich discovery when they had taken this mansion over, as had several of her dresses. It was perfect for crashing the party. They would rue the day they had acted so wilfully.

She let out a laugh that came close to a cackle and went about readying herself.

***

Brianna had turned her hand at many tricks in her time; it’s how she’d won her place. And she wasn’t going to scrimp tonight, not when she was looking so fabulous.  

So when a flash preceded her arrival in the main ballroom among the billowing smoke, the satisfying gasps and screams helped her continue the illusion she held powers no one else had.

When the smoke cleared, she stood majestic, giving them all a chance to be clear who had arrived. She spotted the bride and groom near the front of the cowering crowd.

“Ah, my dears, I believe congratulations are in order, even though you failed to seek them from me personally.” She eyed them harshly.

The groom stepped forward and bowed. “I’m sorry ma’am, we didn’t think our little wedding would be of interest to you.”

“Nonsense, all weddings are of interest. We need to see who will be producing our future, if in fact you can produce.”

The bride joined her new husband. “Oh yes, ma’am, we have been tested, we are fertile and should be able to produce quite quickly.”

“Good, because for your penance I will require your first-born daughter.”

There were gasps among the crowd and the bride burst into tears.

“Now, now, not so hysterical, it is only one of multiple you will be having. I’m sure you can spare me just one. And you can have possession of her until her fifth birthday, so you can prepare her. Be thankful, she will have a very special life with me. I will teach her all I know and raise her in my image.”

The bride attempted to stifle her tears with the consoling arms of the groom around her, but she still looked at their queen with contempt in her eyes when she said, “Thank you ma’am.”

“Good. Then the matter is cleared up and I won’t sully your day further.” There was another flash and plume of smoke and she was gone, only her laughter echoing round the room.

She did love putting on a show and the plan was coming together. She had five years to prepare – give or take. It was going to be glorious. 



Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 125

This week's picture prompt is from sculpture/artist Rob Mulholland who made these out of perspex, in 2009. He calls the project Vestige and you can read more about it here. 

This turned out milder than I thought. I seem to have lost my dark streak at the moment. I want to change that. We will see what next week brings.
The General Guidelines can be found here.

How to create a clickable link in Blogger comments can be found on lasts week's post here.

There is also a Facebook group for Mid-Week Flash, if you fancy getting the prompt there.





Visitors

Can it see us? Adrienne moved to her left to see better round the foliage.

I don’t think it can. Ralph moved towards the creature but there was no reaction until the bushes were disturbed. The creature paused, looking in his direction, but then returned to what it was doing. I think it can hear though.

How can it hear?

Those fleshy flaps covering holes on either side of their heads, they call them ‘ears’.

Ralph and Adrienne watched the creature, wondering what it was doing; it kept bending and putting things in a gathering pouch and occasionally in an opening in its head.

This was the first time anyone had been on the ground. They had done simulations and learnt as much as possible but there was something totally awe inspiring actually being here, and standing inches away from a real creature.

Observations had been ongoing for some time but there’d been no physical interaction attempted as they were considered highly dangerous, their volatile nature having been recorded many times.

A high shriek cut the air.

Ralph what is that? He could feel Adrienne wince.

I don’t know.

Another creature appeared, smaller than the other, balancing on four poles rather than two. It emitted a keening sound from its opening, revealing white barbs inside.

Does it see us?

I think it does.

It kept moving towards them and then back. Then they heard another sound, it was low and drawn out and seemed to emit from the other creatures mouth.

“What is it boy? You sense something too? Yeah, I thought I saw something earlier.”

The creature moved toward them to where the smaller one was still making a strange sound. It touched the smaller creature and the sound reduced, although it still emitted a high pitch that Ralph and Adrienne struggled to tolerate.

Did you record that?

Yes, I got it. Adrienne replied.

Excellent. We can analyse it back at the lab. Come on, I want to get away from that noise.

Me too.

As they retreated the sound stopped, both creatures appearing to sense their absence, and retreating themselves. Ralph and Adrienne were excited; they had a lot to impart to their collective.




Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 124

This week's picture prompt is by Silena Lambertini, an Italian photographer. She has some wonderful pictures on her page on 500px. She calls this one Good bye 2015. 

Took a while to feel what I wanted for this, but once I got that opening line it appeared. 

The General Guidelines can be found here.

How to create a clickable link in Blogger comments can be found on lasts week's post here.

There is also a Facebook group for Mid-Week Flash, if you fancy getting the prompt there.






No Regrets

Jackson revved the engine once he got back into the car, no longer caring if anyone heard him. He didn’t care about anything, not anymore. His rage burned as the tyres screeched. What did he care if he left tire marks, he was out of here – gone, forever. That bitch had made sure of that.

He glanced in the rearview mirror, the light refracting through the gaps in the covered bridge shedding a kind of ethereal light within it. Was there a figure there? Did she climb back up? He screeched to a halt and reversed at full speed, but when he reached where he thought he’d seen her, there was nothing. He paused, letting the engine tick over and his anger simmer. Waiting.

Nope, nothing, it was his imagination. He pulled away again, enjoying the tyre squeal this time, letting it speak for him. He kept glancing in the mirror though, just to be sure. Still nothing.

The roads were empty at this early hour, no one would see him, or know he was here, no one would know where he went to or where he had been. It’s how he wanted it. They would never know what had taken place or if there had been anyone else involved. He could feel his body start to relax, the rage dissipate and as his mind drifted into thoughts of where he would go from here, a smile started to form on his lips.

An island somewhere hot, somewhere remote, somewhere he didn’t have to think or worry about his past coming after him like she had. Somewhere he could live an honest life and let it all go. Somewhere he could start being true to himself.

A movement in the mirror made him glance over his shoulder into the back, causing him to shift the steering wheel slightly to the left, where at that precise point a fallen tree branch stuck out into the road. The tyre blew, making the car swerve violently left and right.

Jackson grappled with the steering wheel, trying to keep the car on the road, but he couldn’t; it veered off to the left, lurching down an embankment full of scrub, picking up speed until it hit a large tree trunk. The force of the collision sent him through the windscreen and he bounced off the tree, lying sprawled on the bonnet.
He could feel life draining from him, the last moments of it filtering through his consciousness. How he’d fought with her and pushed her off the bridge, watching her body fall and crash into the rocks far below, lying pretty much as he was now.

Then he heard her calling him, and her face appeared, hovering over his. “Jackson? Jackson? No regrets, huh, honey? You sure, darling?” And then she laughed, that awful high pitched shriek she called a laugh. And in that moment he knew she’d never leave him, he’d be stuck with her for eternity.


Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Sleep on offer! Grab it while you can!


Fresh off the back of finishing the blogtour for Sleep
I'm running a discount promo! 😃


The blogtour was great. It was wonderful to hear how Sleep has been received by book bloggers, and the final stop on the blogtour gave a good overview of the reviews - you can check it out HERE.

I've also had some fantastic reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. I am so happy that Lizzy Dyson's story is coming across so well.

And if you are interested in finding out what inspired me to write this book, you can read about it here or a little Q&A here.

Anyway, back to the offer.

From today, Tuesday 10 September 2019 until Friday 13th of September the kindle version of my new book Sleep will be on offer at a discounted price!

It will be on sale for $1.99/£1.99 and will increase in increments until it returns to full price at midnight on Friday.

So if you don't have it already, grab your copy now.

And if you DO have it, pass this info onto others.






Thursday, 5 September 2019

Review: The Outsider, by Stephen King

The OutsiderThe Outsider by Stephen King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As one of Stephen King's Constant Readers, I love what he writes most of the time, and I did love this too, but in some ways I felt this went a predictable route.

It was another sort of crime thriller book; he even connected it to characters from the Mr Mercedes series of books too. It was nice revisiting those characters and that story but I had hoped for something more. It felt on some levels a bit of a rehash of the same story line - particularly End of Watch.

This book follows a rather heinous murder of an 11 year old boy, and the police think they know who has done it: a popular, well-liked, community guy and teacher in town. They have DNA at the scene, they have eye-witness accounts - solid ones too. They think this gives them the right to take him down publicly and they do. But it turns out he has a cast iron alibi, one they hadn't investigated. And worse yet, they have managed to turn the entire town against him and his family before they'd looked into it. And that is where the dilemma starts.

Now from here on it, it deviated from where I had hoped it would go. I was hoping for something more ... I don't know, factual maybe, an honest look at how doppelgangers could possibly have identical DNA, or how a murderer can take on another identity. I was excited, but that excitement was curtailed when the book went another route. And it became a little predictable from that point on for me personally.

The characters were still excellent: well developed and presented. And there was still a good plot line and suspense was built. And in fact the ending was much better than I had thought - I was dreading it turning into an ending like the one in his book IT, which for me personally was very disappointing (however controversial that opinion is!).

I had hoped for the return of the more unusual Stephen King story lines, the unique that he does so well. Although I don't mind a good crime thriller, it's not really what I am looking for when I pick up one of Stephen King's books.


View all my reviews

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 123

This week's photo was posted by a friend, Victoria Goldman on twitter. It was taken in a Sainsbury's car park in North London. She thought it told a story. And I thought, well yes, it just might and other's might think so too! 

I ummed and arhhed over this story, not sure if it was up to muster, but I liked it. It's a story of hope. 

The General Guidelines can be found here.

How to create a clickable link in Blogger comments can be found on lasts week's post here.

There is also a Facebook group for Mid-Week Flash, if you fancy getting the prompt there.





Mr Bow Tie

Hugo had had enough! He wasn’t going to wear them anymore. He threw the bow tie down and drove off, instantly regretting it but too stubborn to go back. He could picture it in his mind’s eye, lying there on the ground, broken and discarded, just like him.

All the way through school he’d tolerated the gibes, the put-downs, and the ridicule. He’d even been ruffed up a few times, but he had refused to give in. He loved his bow ties and would wear them proudly. But now, tonight, this had been the last straw.

Dating was hard enough for him; his name, his clammy palms, his ruddy complexion and chubby face always working against him. The amount of times they had giggled upon first meeting when they had spotted his bow tie, thinking he had been joking when he told them about his collection. He’d rarely had a second date, until Sandra.

He’d thought she was different, far more accepting, far more gentle, far better suited to him. But then it had happened.

A friend of hers had come in to the same restaurant they had chosen for their third date. She’d come over to talk. Sandra had introduced her friend, and there’d been a smirk upon hearing his name, and then the comment had come: “A bow tie’s a bit formal, isn’t it? You planning to go to the opera later?”

And then a snigger, which Sandra had joined in with, informing her friend that he collected them. And the way she had said it to her friend, a look in her eyes, almost rolling them, as though she was enduring something painful.

Hugo had sat there silently, planted a smile on his face and pretended like it was nothing. He’d waited for the friend to go, which she eventually did, hoping Sandra would make some kind of comment to dismiss her friend’s attitude, but she hadn’t. If anything she’d become more awkward, more quiet, as though she was embarrassed now that it had been highlighted.

Hugo had done his best to continue, be polite, jolly, and tried to keep it light. She had pretended to respond, but he knew it was a pretense; they both knew. Then after dinner she’d left hurriedly under the guise of an early appointment the following day.

And then the text had arrived as he’d walked to his car. “It’s not working for me. I think you’d be better suited to someone else.” And that was that.

He’d thumped his hand on the roof and shouted, startling two people on their way to their car. He’d ripped the bow tie off and chucking it away from him. But now in his car, with his soothing music on, he felt foolish.  It wasn’t the bow tie’s fault. He’d go back in the morning and see if it was still there. It was one his special ones; he’d last worn it to a prom concert.

And that’s when he knew he had been looking in the wrong place. If he wanted to find a lady of refined taste who didn’t sneer at genteel men like him, he needed to go to more exclusive places, and maybe even try and see if he could find more exclusive dating apps. He’d find someone who didn’t jeer at people like him. He knew they were out there somewhere.



Monday, 2 September 2019

The Truth about Beta reading - it's FREE!

As a writer we need all the help we can get, and if you are an a self-published author you need it to be as cost effective as possible, and this is where Beta readers come in.

For a long time beta readers have been helpful readers and writers in the writing community who help other authors by reading through a finished draft of their book. They give them crucial feedback about how they, as a reader, received it.

Some people might give more detailed feedback than others, but the prime thing about them is that they are FREE!

Now over the last couple of years, with the increase of self-published writers, a great many of the things that authors used to be able to get for free are now being sold, and it has come to my attention that that includes Beta reading.

But this is simply not right.

Even Wikipedia tells us this:



Note the words 'unpaid' and 'not a profession'.

Despite this, freelance work places like Fiverr & Upwork are full of people offering this service for a fee, and I even had a so-called professional editor tell me it was a service offered by many and normal to charge for it when I warned another writer on twitter not to pay for it.

I say so-called because if they were a good editor they would know the meaning of the term and not use it as such. The correct term for this is Critiquing if you are asking for payment - plenty of editors use that term.

Yes, it irks me, and it irks me badly! I'm seeing lots of struggling new writers using the #WritingCommunity hashtag asking for betas and getting these 'professionals' responding asking for money. And being new they aren't aware that they can get this service for free!

So how do you get free beta readers?

On twitter you send a tweet out out using #betareader asking for them, giving what genre your book is, and you engage with them. (also use the #WritingCommunity hashtag so that people can boost your request).

You can also ask fellow writers, either ones that you know or strangers - sounds daunting asking someone you don't know, but it is good to get a fresh set of eyes on it.

I've used a mixture of both. On my latest book I used two lots of four - meaning four people read it, gave me feedback, I redrafted and then got another four people (a couple the same, but two new people) to read it for me again.

I then sought professional proofreaders (two) to go through it with a fine tooth comb.

Just remember, if they ask for money, decline!

And if you want more detailed information about Beta readers and what to look for and how to go about it, don't miss this article from fellow author Nat Russo: 4 Things Writers Should Know about Beta Readers. 







Sunday, 1 September 2019

Sleep - Release Day!

Sleep is out! 😃🥳


My new book, Sleep is now available on kindle and in paperback.*

This book has been a long time coming - in fact I wrote the opening 28 years ago!

So far the reviews have been brilliant. 

I'm so happy Lizzy Dyson's story is reaching readers the way I'd hoped. 




Why kill the man you love?

Lizzy was struggling, everyone knew that.
He shouldn't have done those things.
He shouldn't have pushed her so hard.
And now, her children, her marriage, her hope - gone.
It was all her fault, she knew that, but was there a chance of redemption?

Lizzy Dyson’s on trial for her life. She knows she must pay for what she did, even if it wasn’t planned, but will the jury believe her?

A domestic noir, suspense-filled psychological thriller about heartbreak and betrayal, Sleep reveals what drives a woman to murder.

Deals with the sensitive subjects of miscarriage and depression.

You’ll love Lizzy and you’ll hate her. You’ll want to hug her, you’ll want to slap her. But in the end, you’ll want to save her. An enthralling insight into one woman's shattered life, and the strength she must summon to rebuild it.” - Michael WombatAuthor of The Raven’s Wing & Fog.

“A compelling domestic drama where the tragic build-up to an awful crime unfolds through the eyes of a desperate woman.” - SJI Holliday, Author of The Lingering & Violet



Learn more about Sleep and why I wrote it by following my blog tour! 





Keep up to date with all my books news, discounts and giveaways through my newsletter which you can sign up to here 




*(the kindle & paperback versions may not be linked yet.)