Winning Ways With Words

There are lots of writing competitions out there for short stories, and unpublished novels, etc, often with an entry fee. They are well worth entering and any success that may come with them will really add to your writing CV.

I love entering competitions to the point I’d class it as my biggest hobby and I’m not just talking about writing competitions, I’m on about all sorts. I can pinpoint the exact moment I found out filling out forms and entering was really worthwhile. It was back in 2007 when we went to a wedding fair. At a budget talk they mentioned trying to win wedding prizes to try and save money. I went home, looked up wedding competitions and came across a website that linked to prize draws. I spent a few evenings entering. Six weeks later, I had a phone call, which to this day, I’m still stunned by. First the radio station rang to check I was available to answer the phone and reminded me I’d entered to win a holiday to Australia, and that could I wait by the phone because they would ring me back within ten minutes to let me know if I’d won! When they did ring, I was so sure they would ask me a question which I would get wrong, I was stunned into silence when they told me I was off to see Gwen Stefani in concert in Sydney. (Silence: Not the greatest sound on radio!) That was the first of many great experiences entering competitions has bought me. For that particular competition, I had to tell them why I should win so it involved a small amount of writing effort.

Creek

It was later on I found out any competition involving any kind of effort, be it writing, photography or creative effort, it will attract less entries. So even if they may not bring the same accolades as winning a short story competition, as they don’t have an entry fee, I enter competitions that require some writing effort and I’ve won some amazing prizes as a result.

The top one has to be a car. Yes, you read that right, A CAR! Now this was slightly unusual in that it required you purchased a car in order to go into the prize draw and then you needed to write 150 words as to why you liked that brand of car. We’d upgraded our car when I found out about the competition, and as it required effort, I pushed the boat out and wrote a poem. When the garage called me to say I’d won, I did remember to scream (not too loudly) about it this time!

Car

Of course not all prizes are that big, but even a smaller win can be a real boost. Back in July last year, I was in hospital for two weeks after the birth of the twins and I received an email letting me know I was the runner up in a princess for the day competition. The main prize had been a £500 shopping spree in London, on a specific date, and if I’d won that I would have had to turn it down. The runner-up prize was perfect as it was £50 worth of Palmer’s goodies and as I was rather run down at that point it was a wonderful pick me up. And it all came about because I’d taken the time to write in about how Catherine Miller’s and Catherine Middleton’s pregnancies had differed, and that all mum’s needed to be treated like a princess.

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I haven’t updated my writing CV in a while, but when I do it will include being a mum to twins and winning a car with a poem. Perhaps not traditional items to have on your CV, but certainly talking points. So when you next enter writing competitions, don’t forget to consider non-conventional writing effort required competitions as well. You never know what you might win, and if you twist my arm enough, I’ll share my secrets about how to find out about them.

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Giselle Green – Finding You

I am incredibly excited to have the very talented, and very lovely, Giselle Green at Romaniac HQ today. Here is what she had to say about her new book.

*****

giselle_green

Thank you so much for coming on the blog today, Giselle, it is an absolute pleasure. We hope you are well?

Yes thank you,  and the pleasure is all mine.

I have read your latest book, Finding You, which was out on March 28th and I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It wasn’t at all what I expected it to be. Can you tell everyone a little about it?

This story is a sequel to an earlier book, Little Miracles, which looks at the devastating effect on a couple when their toddler goes missing at the beach. Here, we join the couple soon after they’ve got their child back. I know we’d all assume everything would be now wonderful for them but all is not well. I guess the lesson is, here, that if something terribly traumatic like that happens to you, then simply having the situation put right, or back to how it should have been, can’t mitigate the effects of it happening in the first place.  They find they can’t just pick up the pieces and carry on … there are still some things that need some healing, first.  

You can tell from reading the book that a lot of work has gone into it, are you pleased with the final result? Without giving too much away, what sort of research went into writing, Finding You?

I’m really happy with it, Lucie, though I’ll admit this one stretched me!  Some of the topics covered in the book are closer to home than I usually venture and there were areas where on the first writing I was tempted to skim or gloss over bits of the narrative. As that would have been cheating the reader, I had to go back and re-do them. There was one scene which I re-wrote a total of seven times before I finally got it to work. The main research I needed to do revolved around the possible effects of abduction on a child Hadyn’s age. That was important because his mum and his dad take very differing stances over what might be causing the problems he’s come home with. They’re split on it, and yet they’ve both got valid reasons for thinking the way they do.         

The book deals with very serious and heart wrenching issues. As a mother, I found some parts extremely emotional, did you feel the same writing it? Was it hard to not get too emotionally attached to it?

I’m glad you were able to engage with the story at that level. Actually, getting emotionally attached to the narrative is the only way to go, for me. If I’m not attached in some way I find it almost impossible to write.  The more attached I can become, the easier the writing flows.  And yes, there are some scenes in this book which still make me feel sad every time I read them, but not in a bad way.  

Where did the idea for Finding You come from?

As mentioned above, it’s a sequel to an earlier novel Little Miracles. I wrote it, quite honestly, because so many people emailed me and asked me to do it. At the start, I had no idea which direction the narrative would take once the initial question of whether ‘it was him’ or not had been answered. To write another whole novel, I needed to give the couple some more problems, more conflicts to resolve, and I decided to begin by exploding the premise of the ‘Happy Ever After’ that most people would naturally assume follows on when you’ve had your deepest wish granted.  The couple are reunited, both with each other and with their child, who’s unharmed … or is he? Life goes on, throws up the next challenge and that became the basis for the second book.

Do you have a daily routine that you work by for your writing? Juggling social media, promotion etc?

I prefer to write in the morning, because that’s my best creative time and it’s also the most lovely ‘quiet time’. When it comes to social media and promotion I’m afraid I feel woefully lost and ‘out of it’ most of the time! I don’t understand the half of it. I’m rather proud of myself that I’ve managed to get an author facebook page up and running though – it gives me the opportunity to let people know of anything new going on, in the easiest way.   

You have been both traditionally published, and self-published, do you have a preference?

There are swings and roundabouts. Traditional publishing brings with it a certain comfort, in that once you’ve done your bit as an author, it’s tempting to feel that the rest of the time-consuming things  – editing and checking stuff, marketing and promotion etc, will all be taken care of for you. To some extent, that is true, but not always to the degree that you might imagine. It’s wonderful if you have an editor who’s on the same page as you, guiding you if you need it, too. And of course, there’s also the kudos of being associated with an established publishing house not to mention that if we’re talking physical books, their marketing arm can way exceed what an indie can hope to achieve on their own. The big publishing houses hold fabulous publishing parties too!

On the other side of it, being self-published means I can work to my own time-table. I can write exactly what I want to write without being too ‘typecast’ or hemmed in by what the ‘powers that be’ believe is what readers want to read. It is not always possible to predict what’s going to fire the public’s imagination!  Once the novel is ready to go, I can choose my own cover, set my own price point and keep control over a lot of variables. An indie novel can go out very quickly, for instance, traditional novels take a lot longer lead time before they can go out. More control means more responsibility inevitably, but if you’re conscientious, that’s okay.     

What would you say your favourite part of writing is?

Dare I say it’s writing ‘The End?’ I think finishing a project is always a time for celebration and a great relief because writing a novel is such a huge act of faith. 

You deal with lots of serious issues in your books and I personally think you do it very well. If you could sum up your books/writing style for others, in one – or a couple (I know how hard it is to just do one!) – sentence(s), how would you sell it?

I’d say I write high-impact emotional women’s fiction, usually dealing with a huge moral dilemma. 

A little quick fire:

Hot or cold? Depends if it’s soup or ice cream, I guess.

Left handed or right handed? Right.

Pizza or pasta? Pasta. Yum.

Xfactor or Strictly? Game of Thrones.

Beach or forest? Beach. Mind you, forests can be lovely too.

Computer or pen & paper? Both, these days.

Rain or shine? Shine, but I’m not adverse to a little atmospheric rain!

Great answers, Giselle!

Thank you so much for coming on the blog today. It has been lovely to listen to you talk about the new book, I will be recommending it to all.

finding u

Finding You is out now! Click the picture for more details. And if you grab it today – you’ll get it for just 99p!

Giselle has a website – www.gisellegreen.com 

She is also on Facebook under Giselle Green Author

And on Twitter at @GiselleGgreenUk

 

Beverley Eikli’s Other Life: Meet Beverley Oakley …

Beverley Eikli author pic copyBy Beverley Eikli (also writing as Beverley Oakley)

Hello everyone,

Thank you so much for having me here to talk about my ‘other’ writing life, that as an author for erotic publishers Ellora’s Cave and Totally Bound, with the pseudonym Beverley Oakley.

Taking a pseudonym happened by accident, really, for I’d never considered writing erotic romances. However, the book I’d just completed in 2011, a racy, Regency romp called Rake’s Honour, was just a little too saucy for my publisher at the time, Robert Hale, and although it had won a number of writing awards resulting in requests for the full ms from Berkley and Avon, it didn’t fit neatly into any formal mainstream category.

After finding a publisher for Rake’s Honour at Totally Bound – or Total-E-Bound, as they were then known – I was assigned a fantastic editor who saw great potential for making the saucy scenes in the book considerably more explicit. Initially I baulked, since writing hot sex scenes was not something I was at all used to doing. I thought my bold debutante Fanny Brightwell had already crossed as many boundaries as I was prepared to have her cross and this was, after all, a Regency romance – albeit a hotter-than-normal one. The action and events had to be credible, given the very few opportunities, or even knowledge, respectable young women had then about those activities to which only marriage gave them licence (to put it demurely :-).)

When the book was edited and the boundaries pushed to everyone’s satisfaction, my husband, who thought it was huge fun that his wife (Miss Goody-Two-Shoes at High School) was writing erotic fiction, gave me every encouragement to continue down this path.

I’ve always been lucky to have enormous variety in my real life with my work and strong contacts giving me access to Norway and Southern Africa as well as to Australia, so it seemed natural not to limit my writing life to just the one name and persona.

Beverley Oakley dangerousgentlemen_msr

Now my fifth erotic historical romance, a Regency called Dangerous Gentlemen, has recently been released by Ellora’s Cave, and again I had a great time developing a background in which an innocent debutante (with a worldly and horrendously manipulative older sister) is accidently plunged into the Regency Underworld. As with all my books, I linked the fictional events to the politics of the time, my hero, Sir Aubrey, being falsely linked to the Spencean plot to assassinate the entire Privy Council in 1817. Events, however, take an odd turn when my well-brought-up heroine, Hetty, finds herself confused for the high-class prostitute who Sir Aubrey’s friend and brothel-madam has promised to surprise him with.

I should add that all of my writing – both as Beverley Eikli as well as Beverley Oakley – has been extremely influenced by a book I bought when I was eighteen years old called London’s Underworld, a comprehensive 400+ page report on the ‘detritus’ of society compiled in the 1850s and early 1860s by a Victorian-era investigative reporter called Henry Mayhew.

While Mayhew’s real-life interviews are sad and fascinating, I found his own judgemental attitude equally interesting. No doubt it reflected Victorian Society’s lack of sympathy and understanding of the real motivations which thrust people into a life of prostitution and other criminal activity. And it’s these motivations as much as the events they resulted in, which interest me.

As a writer, I’m less interested in what my heroine did, than why she did it. What utter desperation would motivate a woman to risk her reputation – essentially, her most prized possession in the era in which I write – to engage in sexual activity not sanctioned by society? Tackling these multi-layered motivations has been an exciting challenge in my erotic historicals which include Regency-era marriages, the storming of castles and hostage-taking during the English Civil War, and blackmail during the early years of photography.

Many thanks once again for the opportunity to visit.

 

AUTHOR BIO

Beverley Eikli is the author of eight historical novels, laced with mystery and intrigue.

She has worked as a journalist, magazine editor, a safari lodge manager in Botswana’s Okavango Delta, and an airborne geophysical survey operator on contracts around the world.

Beverley wrote her first romance at seventeen, but drowning her heroine on the last page was not a clever start to a career as a romance author. When she finally realised this, she rescued her heroine from drowning in her first-published novel (Lady Sarah’s Redemption), and in real life married the handsome Norwegian bush pilot she met around a camp fire in Botswana twenty years ago.

Recently she received her third nomination from Australian Romance Readers for Favourite Historical Romance with her suspenseful Napoleonic espionage Romance The Reluctant Bride.

Beverley teaches in the Department of Professional Writing & Editing at Victoria University, Melbourne.

Her latest Choc Lit release is The Maid of Milan, a dark Regency-era ‘Dynasty’ with love triangle, drug addiction and manipulation themes but an uplifting ending.

She also writes erotic historicals as Beverley Oakley.

You can visit her website at: http://www.beverleyeikli.com/ and her blog at: http//:http://www.beverleyeikli.blogspot.com.au/ or follow her on Twitter: @BeverleyOakley

 

You can buy Dangerous Gentlemen here:

 

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1k0uybF

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1iskcjD

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1irD7kz

Ellora’s Cave: http://www.ellorascave.com/dangerous-gentlemen.html

 

Write Behind You – Holly La Touche from Choc Lit

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This is the start of a brand new series of interviews with the Romaniacs, celebrating people who we don’t usually get to see or talk to. Today we’re very pleased to have a visit from the wonderfully named Holly La Touche who is to be found behind the scenes at award winning publishers Choc Lit. Good morning, Holly, and welcome to Romaniac HQ – the sofas are all comfy and the cushions have been plumped up ready for you, so take your pick and help yourself to tea and cake. It’s coffee and walnut or chocolate fudge today. I think there might be the odd butterfly cake too if the other girls haven’t found the tin.

Holly: Hi, Celia, thanks so much for inviting me.

Celia: Great to see you. Okay, let’s get the ball rolling. How long have you been working with the Choc Lit team, and how did you come to apply for the job?

Holly: After university I volunteered at my local book festival and did some magazine work experience but I knew I wanted to work in book publishing, particularly in an editorial role which is notoriously difficult to get into! So when I heard about the Tasting Panel I thought it would be great ‘slush pile’ work experience. Luckily for me, Choc Lit also needed a publicity and admin intern. After a few months I was hired as a publishing assistant and I’ve been here for a year. It was definitely a case of being in the right place at the right time!

Celia: And seizing the moment too, I guess. So what’s the best thing about working for Choc Lit?

Holly: It’s great to work with people who love romantic fiction as much as I do, and to work with such talented authors. Reading rave reviews is a definite highpoint of my day. It was genuinely thrilling when Please Don’t Stop the Music by Jane Lovering was the number one Kindle download and the 5 star reviews kept rolling in.

Celia: That’s one of my all-time Choc Lit favourites. What are you reading for pleasure at the moment?

Holly: I’m currently fangirling over the first Game of Thrones book. I thought it was going to be a bit dry and Lord of the Rings-y but I’m hooked! I’m also listening to To Defy a King by Elizabeth Chadwick on the walk to and from the train station.

Celia: Could you please tell us about a typical day at Choc Lit and describe your workspace?

Holly: My workload is a nice balance between emails/admin and more creative work like writing cover copy. This morning I’ve been adding a contents page to a Kindle file and drafting copy for the newsletter.

Choc Lit HQ is quite cosy and colourful – the walls are covered in framed Choc Lit covers, all arranged in order of publication, which helps us keep track of the ever-growing list! My desk is currently overflowing with proofed Treats!, Choc Lit Lite manuscripts and grammar books. I also have a lovely Darcy & Friends paperweight clip holding a photo of my sister, Alex.

Celia: It must be great to be surrounded by all those amazing covers. Do you ever get the chance to get together with all the Choc Lit authors from time to time or is that a logistical nightmare with travel etc?

Holly: I’ve managed to meet quite a few authors at RNA events and book launches, but I don’t think we’ve all met up at once.

Celia: What was your dream job as a child?

Holly: I wanted to be a deep-sea diver. My dad used to run a small diving school in Connemara, and his diving gear and the underwater photos he’d taken always fascinated me.

Celia: Well, I definitely didn’t see that answer coming! Do you get to read the books that are coming up from the Tasting Panel?

Holly: I get to read them at proofing stage but otherwise they’re left in the Tasting Panel’s capable hands. If a manuscript does really well on the panel and there’s a bit of a buzz around it then I’ll be nosey. There’s one waiting on my Kindle right now actually…

Celia: Hmmm – intriguing… Who’s your favourite author outside Choc Lit (I won’t ask you for one from the team in case it causes an unseemly fight!)

Holly: Charlotte Brontë. I’ve read Jane Eyre five times and recently went to Haworth to visit the parsonage. Seeing her little gloves and dress was incredible!I’m also slightly obsessed with Gillian Flynn. She writes amazing female characters, all totally unhinged but oddly likeable. Camille from Sharp Objects has really stayed with me and I think she might be one of my favourite characters ever!

Celia: Choc Lit is famous for its delicious romance and great settings – where would you take someone very special for the romantic holiday of a lifetime?

Holly: There are loads of places I’d like to visit but I think it would be really romantic to visit Kyoto, Japan, in spring. Seeing the cherry blossom trees in bloom would be breathtaking.

Celia: I’m with you on that one, an irresistible venue. Well, it was lovely to meet you, Holly – come back soon. A piece of cake for the journey, perchance?

Holly: Thanks, Celia!

 

 

Janey Fraser and the Salsa Class

JANEY FRASER PICTURE

THE SALSA CLASS

One, two, three. Five, six, seven. Back, forward, back. And RUMBA.’

As every writer knows, most stories fall into your head because of a chance happening or a snatched conversation or – in this case – a Salsa class. Of course, Salsa has been around for a while. At least, for everyone else. But when I signed up for a four week class (to shift newish husband off the sofa), I soon discovered that I was treading on novel territory.

For a start, it was difficult to see exactly who was partnered to whom, in real life. ‘Come on your own or with a friend,’ the poster had said. But because there were more women than men, the enthusiastic leader with legs long enough for lamp posts and a natty little scarf round her waist, got us to Salsa in turn with the limited male reservoir. Those in between stints, did the Salsa solo.

That’s when I began to wonder. Was the grey-haired woman (who had clearly done this before) married to the grey-haired man (who clearly hadn’t?) And had the pretty, tall blonde woman arrived with the aging hippy (if so, I’d missed their entrance. Or had they become close, judging from those hand movements, since the class started?

It was a wonderful exercise in character observation; made even more poignant by the fact that we were next door to a beautiful row of Regency terraces where Jane Austen – arguably, the queen of social minutiae – hung out one summer.

By the second class, newish husband had claimed to hurt his back while lugging carpets around for my daughter. Any excuse. If that sounds unfeeling, it’s because he wasn’t keen on Salsa in the first place. ‘I’ll still come with you,’ he said manfully. ‘Then I’ll know what we’re doing next time.’

Hah! In the event, he spent most of the time, reading Rock Sound and chatting to the barman. Still, it was quite useful because it gave me a chance to remember what it was like on my own. Perfect for novel research.

So too, was the experience of dancing with other men. There’s something distinctly queasy about holding a limp hand in the Salsa position, which involves hanging on to your opponent’s two middle fingers. It’s not so bad if your partner knows what he’s doing but I managed to get quite a few knee-knockers. I tell you. It was all I could do not to stop and write it all down, there and then.

Then there was the female gossip during the wine break. One of my new friends with children at university and no wedding ring, confided how she’d just moved down here and didn’t know anyone. Instantly, I scrolled down my contact list on my iPhone and put her in touch with the tennis club secretary. At the same time, I couldn’t help thinking that she’d be a great contemporary heroine. Courageous yet shy. And a business woman to boot. Life is full of contradictions.

By the way, did I mention the music? It was enough to get anyone’s feet moving, except for my husband’s. Meanwhile, the music, together with smell (maybe we’d better not go there) plus colour (one of the ‘girls’ was wearing a great pair of red shoes) really set the scene. More observations to remember.

I’m not necessarily going to write a novel about a Salsa class, although I haven’t ruled it out. The point is that it helps to answer that inevitable question which all writers are asked from time to time. ‘Where do you get your ideas from?’

Easy! It’s places like these… As soon as I got home that night, I scribbled everything down. Some of the characteristics I noticed during class, will fit neatly into my work in progress. After all, emotions and people are transferable in fiction. And that’s the beauty of it.

By the way, if you’re wondering about who was married to who, it turned out that the grey couple wasn’t a couple at all, even though they looked as though they slotted together. And the pretty blonde woman WAS with the aging hippy. Meanwhile, please excuse me. I’m off to find some Deep Heat for the husband. Turns out that he really has put his back out – after falling over my Salsa shoes by the front door.

Janey Fraser Honeymoon

 

AFTER THE HONEYMOON BY JANEY FRASER. PUBLISHED BY ARROW (RANDOM HOUSE). £6.99

ONE HONEYMOON DESTINATION. THREE COUPLES. ENOUGH SECRETS TO SINK THEM BEFORE THE WEEK IS OUT….

http://www.amazon.co.uk/After-Honeymoon-Janey-Fraser/dp/0099580845/ 

We’re Going on an Edit Hunt

We’re going on an edit hunt,

We’re going to catch some big ones,

What a lot of track changes,

We’re not scared.

Oh no, a repetition!

We can’t just avoid it

We can’t just ignore it

We will just have to deal with it

 

edit cave

The Editing Cave

It was pretty dark in that editing cave some days and I spent an awful lot of time in there earlier in the year while I completed the final edits of my second novel ‘Closing In‘.

It was a good process as, unlike my first novel which had been edited a great deal before it was seen by my publishers, ‘Closing In’ had only been seen by my lovely Romaniac friend, Jan Brigden. She had cast her eagle eye over it when it was a mere novella. Since then it morphed into a much bigger story, so I was rather apprehensive sending it into the publishers.

I thought I’d share a few of the things that have been picked up along the long editing road.

Over-use of certain words

I use the word ‘just’ an awful lot. I did actually know this already, so I went through my manuscript and managed to half the amount of times it appeared. A lot of the time is wasn’t needed or could be easily replaced with ‘simply’, ‘merely’ or ‘only’ depending on the context.

I took out the word ‘seem’ in a lot of the sentences, as I felt it diluted the impact of what I was trying to convey. For example, ‘The cold seemed to seep up from beneath her …’ became ‘The cold seeped up from beneath her …’

The revised version, I felt, was much stronger.

Not to repeat myself

I don’t mean the obvious ones of using the same word twice in a short a space of time but where the sentence has become convoluted, a bit waffly, drawn out – saying the same thing but with different words. (See what I did there? 🙂 )

‘… in his usual polite way, as he always did.’ became ‘… in his usual polite way.’

The same when two characters were having a telephone conversation. Originally I had written ‘… he ended his call with Ken.’ On the read through, I realised that identifying Ken wasn’t necessary – who else would he be ending his call with? So that simply became ‘… he ended his call.’

‘Dark shadows’ – aren’t all shadows dark? So, here, I deleted the word ‘dark’.

The Editor

I would be remiss of me not to acknowledge my editor and thank her for all the hard work she put into the manuscript too. Having input from someone who has no personal connection with the manuscript is invaluable and, I’d say, vital.

Final Read Through

I like to send the edited document to my Kindle for a final read through (Click here for a post how to do this). It’s amazing what you spot reading it in a different format to the one you composed it in.

Closing_in

Closing In‘. is very different to ‘United States of Love’ but I really enjoyed writing it and hope readers enjoy it too.

Amazon link

 

Sue Fortin author pic Jan 14

 Sue

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Publication Day : Closing In by Sue Fortin

 

I’m delighted that my second novel CLOSING IN is published in digital format today by HarperImpulse, with paperback  to be released 31 July 2014.

I wondered if it would feel any less exciting than the first book I had published. I have to say that it’s just as exciting, if not more. I’ve been overwhelmed by the interest and Shaz Goodwin of Fiction Addiction Book Tours has organised a fantastic book tour. My idea of a small tour, kind of, took on a life of its own as more book reviewers expressed an interest – I’m very honoured.

I have the day off from work, so will be celebrating by hanging out on social media for the most part, consuming plenty of tea and cake!

Closing_in

Flight, Fight, Fawn or Freeze?

Helen has had to leave everything she’s ever known behind; her home, her family, even her own name.

Now, returning to the UK as Ellen Newman, she moves to a small coastal village, working as a nanny for Donovan, a criminal psychologist. Attractive, caring and protective, this single father and his sweet daughter are a world away from Ellen’s brutal past. She thinks she’s escaped. She thinks she’s safe.

But something’s wrong.

Strange incidents begin to plague her new family, and their house of calm is about to become one of suspicion and fear. Who can be trusted? Who is the target? Who is closing in?

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Kobo

Google Play

iTunes

 

Thank you, as always, for all your fabulous support.

Sue 1

Sue

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