The Nicer the People, the Better the Network

‘Networking for Writers’ by Lizzie Chantree

The cover of Lizzie Chantree’s latest book, ‘Networking for Writers’

Are you swamped with book marketing and looking for a way to find new sales? Learn simple and effective networking techniques, to grow your readership and connect with other authors and book lovers, today!

Whether you are a new or experienced writer, self-published or traditionally published, this book will show you how to grow your readership and author network, through some of the most powerful of all marketing tools – word of mouth and recommendation. 

This book will show you:

How networking can help you sell more books.

Why author branding is important.

How networking hours work.

Specific Facebook groups for writers

How to utilise social media to grow your readership.

How not to waste valuable writing time.

How to make our marketing more effective.

Throughout ‘Networking for Writers’, we will explore running or attending book signings, hosting seminars, finding a writing buddy or mentor, author networking groups, social media planning and so much more.

This is a top class guide to every day, cost efficient marketing for those with a book to promote. Entrepreneur and author Lizzie Chantree has written a short, handy guide to marketing using basic tools at most people’s disposal.

This is a short work which makes it a perfect work for those who want to breezily navigate the world of online marketing. Chantree clearly has spent a lot of time getting to grips with the algorithms which drive a wide variety of social medias and she offers a sensible, manageable guide to help writers nurture engagement.

The picture shows a white mobile phone on desk next to an organiser. On the screen is the cover of the e-book edition of Chantree's book, 'Networking for Writers'

One of the nicest aspects of the book is Chantree’s belief, which comes through loud and clear, that networking is a two-way street and that those writers who engage with their readers regularly, politely and honestly, acting in good faith to help them, are those who will reap the most benefits. In an age of social media-driven hype powered by petty nastiness and clickbait bluster, it is really nice to have someone espousing the truth that nice people don’t finish last.

And Chantree is an engaging guide. She uses her own experiences – humbly bad as well as motivatingly good – to steer the reader through what they can do to put more copies of their books in readers’ hands.

There are just two caveats I would highlight for readers: firstly, I would have been interested to know how Chantree went about building a following before she had a book to promote. Secondly, if you are not a regular user of Facebook or Twitter I think this book might be a little challenging. That’s not a criticism per se, Chantree is very clear about the processes she chooses to write about, but if the thought of scheduled posts or you don’t know what RT stands for, this is advanced enough to bring you out in a cold sweat (I imagine).

Overall, a slim volume of sensible, cost-effective advice which can be read in one sitting or used as a handy reference book. As an aspiring novelist myself, I know where I will be turning when I have a book to promote.

Purchase Link – viewbook.at/NetworkingForWriters

Author and entreprenuer, Lizzie Chantree

Author Bio –

International bestselling author and award-winning inventor, Lizzie Chantree, started her own business at the age of 18 and became one of Fair Play London and The Patent Office’s British Female Inventors of the Year in 2000.

She discovered her love of writing fiction when her children were little and now works as a business mentor and runs a popular networking hour on social media, where creatives can support to each other. She writes books full of friendship and laughter, that are about women with unusual and adventurous businesses, who are far stronger than they realise. She lives with her family on the coast in Essex.

Visit her website at www.lizziechantree.com  or follow her on Twitter @Lizzie_Chantree https://twitter.com/Lizzie_Chantree .

Social Media Links –

Website: www.lizziechantree.com

Author page: https://www.viewAuthor.at/LizzieChantree

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Lizzie_Chantree

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LizzieChantree

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7391757.Lizzie_Chantree

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lizzie_chantree/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/LizzieChantree/pins/

FB Groups: https://www.facebook.com/groups/647115202160536/

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/lizzie-chantree

LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/lizzie-chantree-03006425/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnCop-RlAcGqggZG3JfE-Mw

Strong Foundations See Slow Horses Set For a Long Time in the Saddle

‘Slough House’ by Mick Herron

The cover of the latest Mick Herron novel, ‘Slough House’

‘Kill us? They’ve never needed to kill us,’ said Lamb. ‘I mean, look at us. What would be the point?’

A year after a calamitous blunder by the Russian secret service left a British citizen dead from novichok poisoning, Diana Taverner is on the warpath. What seems a gutless response from the government has pushed the Service’s First Desk into mounting her own counter-offensive – but she’s had to make a deal with the devil first. And given that the devil in question is arch-manipulator Peter Judd, she could be about to lose control of everything she’s fought for.

Meanwhile, still reeling from recent losses, the slow horses are worried they’ve been pushed further into the cold. Slough House has been wiped from Service records, and fatal accidents keep happening. No wonder Jackson Lamb’s crew are feeling paranoid. But have they actually been targeted?

With a new populist movement taking a grip on London’s streets, and the old order ensuring that everything’s for sale to the highest bidder, the world’s an uncomfortable place for those deemed surplus to requirements. The wise move would be to find a safe place and wait for the troubles to pass.

But the slow horses aren’t famed for making wise decisions.

I wasn’t having the best of weeks. A family member died of Covid and, you know, 2021 was about as far removed from the joy of 2020 as A to B.

To compound my joy, I was revisiting an old novel I had begun years ago to see if there was anything there.

There wasn’t. I gave up. Then I opened ‘Slough House’.

This confirmed two things for me: I have the same talent in my entire body as Mick Herron has in a clipped toenail and I should abandon writing prose forever. Immediately.

And that good writing – the really good, exceptionally paced, the stuff described and as winningly put together as this, will offer an escape from grief and lack of talent in a way we should cling to like a life raft.

Because, by God, he’s good.

It didn’t take long for me to be laughing – not something I expected on that day, I don’t mind admitting.

‘Slough House’ begins, after the Prologue, with the traditional disembodied guided tour of our favourite, dilapidated office building. It’s been a wind, a cat and now it’s a rat – sorry, an estate agent, (even worse.)

“Authentic period detail there, and the seventies is a decade that’s coming back, isn’t it, what with the riots, the recession, the racism – ha! Our little joke. But no, really.”

When we lost the Maestro at the fag end of last year, Herron’s name came up quite a bit. I’ve had my say on Le Carré elsewhere and my abiding love for the work but one of the irritations I find is the constant repetition in some circles citing Herron as the new Le Carré.

He isn’t.

He’s the current Herron and we better embrace him now because he’s to be savoured and enjoyed while he’s on the go.

Author Mick Herron poses alongside Lamb’s Passage. Not somewhere the Slow Horses would want to be…

Le Carré, Lord knows no stranger to anger at politicians or lacking cynicism, never wrote a sentence like This was the spook trade, and when things went awry on Spook Street, they generally went the full Chris Grayling.”

But you just know he’d have liked to.

He’s not the new Le Carré, despite the terminology of his own making and the Connie-like Molly in the Archives. He’s the current Herron and we better embrace him now because he’s to be savoured.

I say “savoured” but I’m, well, lying.

I last read one of the Slow Horse novels, ‘Joe Country’, in May 2019 and I should have done my due diligence before starting this one.

But I’m a glutton for Herron and so I had to sheepishly beg Slow Horse expert – owner of honeyed tones and producer of Slough House podcast ‘Barbican Station’ extraordinaire, Jeff Quest- to remind me who had died and how because I’d lost track.

In my defence, prose like:

‘But she deserved to die. Even Gandhi would admit that.’

‘Did it never occur to you that for a supposed backwater of the Security Service, we suffer a lot of fatalities?’

‘I’ve always assumed that was down to public demand.’

Prose like that is so good it needs to be gulped down.

And so what does this instalment of the series bring? Sort of everything you want. Jackson Lamb is still a big man with a foul mouth and an odd imperviousness to HR complaints.

Di Tavernier is exactly as evil as you hope. Peter Judd is as duplicitous, sleazy and so toned down compared to real world politicians he’s almost preferable.

Satire? “The paths to power of current world leaders – paths including conspiracy to assault, knee-jerk racism, indeterminate fecundity and cheating at golf – were so askew from the traditional routes that only an idiot would have dared forecast future developments.” Check.

This time, it’s not just Slough House which has come to life. Even the other buildings in the area are personified and living in petrified fear. “Down here, a few timid retail premises huddled; the kind that looked like they’d not survive ten minutes in the open air.”

Mick Herron is about to go stratospheric. He’s already part of a dominating duopoly of the finest spy writers around alongside Charles Cumming.  In my opinion, they will soon to be joined by Simon Conway, whose novel The Stranger’ was hands down the best novel I read in 2020 (including Cumming’s exceptionally strong ‘Box 88’)

Gary Oldman in costume as Jackson Lamb as reported by the Daily Mail

But as soon as Gary Oldman dons the dirty mac of Lamb for Apple TVs adaptation, he’s going to reach a new audience. With that will come the petty jealousies, the hatchet the reviews, the constant nagging that he’s not as good as he was.

Well, if this novel proves anything, it is that he is. At one stage, the narrator says: “‘Make it, don’t fake it’ was Channel Go’s mission statement, unless it was its mantra, or its logo. But its general thrust was to encourage choleric rage in its viewers, so, if nothing else, Cantor had tapped into the spirit of the times.”

As had Cantor, so too has Herron. And long may he continue to do so.

‘Slough House’ is available for purchase from 4th February 2021 https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1529378664/ref=bseries_primary_0_1529378664

Dasher, Dancer, Donner and Dachshunds

Christmas in Cockleberry Bay’ by Nicola May

Meet old and new characters in the Bay for Christmas fun and frolics.

With both the Corner Shop and Cockleberry Café in safe hands, Rosa turns her attention to Ned’s Gift, the charity set up in memory of the great-grandfather whose legacy turned her life around.

Over at the Ship Hotel, Lucas has his work cut out with his devious new girlfriend and the mystery poisoning of an anonymous hotel inspector. Will the hotel still get its 3-star Seaside Rosette?

Will Mary find true love at last? Can Titch cope with the demands of the shop and being heavily pregnant. And can Rosa, with a baby of her own, pull off the Cockleberry Bay Charity Christmas Concert in time?

Christmas in Cockleberry Bay is a festive delight for fans of Rosa and her cheeky mini dachshund Hot, delivering a feast of unpredictable events and surprises.

The cover of Nicola May’s latest novel, ‘Christmas in Cockleberry Bay’

I am new to the world of Cockleberry Bay. To be entirely honest, I was enticed in by dachshund. And the murder mystery. Always like a bit of cosy crime.

This is the fourth novel in the series and I can see why Nicola May has proved so popular. Honestly, I was expecting the glow of small, English country life. 

I was expecting characters who are mainly well intentioned and who struggle through their various travails with fortitude and the support of their friends and family. 

What I wasn’t expecting was how funny the novel was going to be.

May really has a nice line in coarse humour. I especially enjoyed Rosa dealing with Davina in the shop: “’There are some sparklers for Fireworks Night too, if you’re interested,’ she added, wishing she could light one and stick it up the rude cow’s arse.”

Additionally, Titch falling asleep on the toilet, heavily pregnant with her head on her bump, knickers around her ankles, is a delight of light touch comedy.

However, this is not the only form of comedy May extracts from her cast of characters. There’s an absurd, black comedy present too. Especially around the undertakers. I especially enjoyed the man mountain, former rugby player bawling like a baby and riling against his mother’s death atop her gardener. “’A tradesman! Young enough to be her grandson! The shame!’ He hugged himself in torment.”

What ‘Christmas in Cockleberry Bay’ really does best, however, is leave you warmed right through like a hot chocolate with marshmallows on a December day.

If you enjoy festive movies with dustings of romance, humour and dachshunds, then this is the Christmas novel for you.

#CICB 

Purchase Links

Kindle – UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08JHJKLQF/

Kindle – .com – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08JHJKLQF/

Paperback  – http://eye-books.com/books/christmas-in-cocklberry-bay

Author Bio – 

Nicola May is a rom-com superstar. She is the author of eleven romantic comedies, all of which have appeared in the Kindle bestseller charts. Two of them won awards at the Festival of Romance, and another was named ebook of the week in The SunThe Corner Shop in Cockleberry Bay became the best-selling Kindle book in the UK, across all genres, in January 2019, and was Amazon’s third-bestselling novel in that year. 

She lives near Ascot racecourse with her black-and-white rescue cat, Stan.

Follow Nicola May

Website – www.nicolamay.com

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/NicolaMayAuthor

Twitter – https://twitter.com/nicolamay1 

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/author_nicola/

Blood on the Streets of Scotland – Blood of Brothers

Blood Brothers by Heather Atkinson

When you’re running the streets, loyalty is everything…

Gangs rule the streets of the rough Gallowburn Estate in Glasgow, but the deepest rivalry of all is between Jamie Gray and his friends, known as the Blood Brothers, and their enemies, the Lawsons.

The two gangs clash frequently, but when a phone containing incriminating evidence disappears after a particularly brutal run-in, the stakes are higher than ever.

Jamie’s mother Jackie is as hard as nails and is not going to let anyone hurt her boy – even if she has to roll up her sleeves and get stuck in. What she wants more than anything though, is to see Jamie turn his back on the street life. And when he meets spoilt rich-girl Allegra, who has a penchant for shoplifting, Jackie thinks she could be Jamie’s way out.

But with the Lawsons closing in, and everyone taking sides, there is only one way out for Jamie, and to triumph he must take out his biggest enemy…

If you love Martina Cole, Kimberley Chambers, and Jessie Keane, you’ll love Heather Atkinson. Discover the bestselling author Heather Atkinson, her crackling plots, unforgettable characters and page-turning pace and you’ll never look back…

I’ve lived in Scotland over 20 years now. It is a country which has changed immensely in the near quarter of a century since I first arrived.

Additionally, I have lived in isolated rural splendour of tourist trap mountains and charming wee fishing villages as well as in crowded, post-industrial towns where men are hard and drugs rife.

It is a country of contrasts.

The area Heather Atkinson is writing about here – Gallowburn – is fictional. Except, it isn’t. it’s an amalgamation of a whole bunch of places most Scottish readers can piece together without too much difficulty.

Atkinson clearly has an unpatronising affection for her street level protagonists. The characters are rendered as fully rounded humans with clear motivations and driving ambitions.

She also is an accomplished writer of dialogue. Having published over 50 novels, it would appear that she is well attuned to her surroundings, picking up the language of the Scheme and playing it back to readers to create an atmosphere of intense verisimilitude.

Even as her protagonists are sucked further into their worlds of violence and chaos, Heather Atkinson keeps them grounded as the plot runs away outwith their control to the natural end of violence. It is a climax moving, horrifying, engaging and entertaining.

Boldwood Books are an interesting independent publisher who have selected some exciting authors to work with (Alex Coombs, who I enjoyed immeasurably for one) https://pajnewman.com/2020/09/24/missing-for-good-by-alex-coombs/

With authors of the quality of coombs and Atkinson, they will be well worth following in future.

Purchase Link –  https://amzn.to/32GYs5H

Author Bio –

Heather Atkinson is the author of over fifty books – predominantly in the crime fiction genre. Although Lancashire born and bred she now lives with her family, including twin teenage daughters, on the beautiful west coast of Scotland. Her new gangland series for Boldwood, set on the fictional Gallowburn estate in Glasgow begins with Blood Brothers which will be published in December 2020.

Social Media Links –

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/booksofheatheratkinson/

Website https://www.heatheratkinsonbooks.com/

Twitter @ https://twitter.com/HeatherAtkinso1

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/heathercrimeauthor/

Bookbub https://www.bookbub.com/authors/heather-atkinson

Only a Glimmer of Hope amongst the lives of these economic units

‘Glimmer of Hope’ by JA Andrews

Sometimes chasing a dream can become a nightmare…

Alecia Preen is living in poverty and desperate to make a better life for herself. Having moved to a new area for new beginnings after being disowned by her family, money was fast running out. She is struggling to make ends meet.

With the intention of charging lonely men online for her services, Alecia realises she can supplement her income by being unscrupulous. In meeting Jake Parker he requests that she role-plays as a psychiatrist, but he makes her aware of an underground millionaires playground called Sordida. He warns her to stay away.

As Alecia’s curiosity gets the better of her, she is amazed by the wealth and decadence on offer. Sordida is not the club she had anticipated because behind the legendary name lurks a very dark secret. A secret that could cost her everything.

He pays by the hour and Alecia pays in ways she had never imagined.

The cover of JA Andrew’s novella, ‘Glimmer of Hope’

JA Andrews has written a novella which is interesting in tone and style. In an author’s note post-script, Andrews explains that this is an expanded and enhanced version of a shorter, earlier work.

Sometimes this shows in the text, other times it is well hidden. Andrews cites it as a cross between ‘50 Shades of Gray’ and ‘Hostel’ and the mix of erotica and mild horror are certainly visible in the DNA of the text.

The story of a young girl sucked into the world of prostitution and, eventually, the sordid but supposedly “glamorous” world of the aptly named Sordida is as depressing as one might expect.

Little play is made of the fact that this is a northern girl, transported to the south with no friends or family for emotional support.

Conversely, great play is made of her desperation for money and people are used and seen as currency in this world of flashy lingerie and limos. The people are economic units to be played with, discarded and used.

However, what Andrews really manages is to draw his readers into a spiralling world of desperation and horror as the plot plays out at breathtaking speed and the nail-biting conclusion, the reversals of fortune and the ever mounting tension make it a very handy afternoon read.

Just don’t read it alone at night if you’re of a squeamish disposition.

Author JA Andrews

Purchase Links

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08L9JR183/

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08L9JR183/

Author Bio –

JA Andrews is the author of gripping twisty psychological thrillers. Mummy’s Boy, and You Let Him In, are his full length novels, while Glimmer of Hope is a shorter story as a Kindle exclusive.  As well as writing fiction, JA Andrews enjoys reading a mix of genres, watching various reality TV and spending time with family and friends.

Social Media Links –

Twitter: @JasonA1980

Beverley Learns to Type

EXCLUSIVE EXTRACT FROM MINE by Alison Knight

You can read a review of ‘Mine’ by Alison Knight here: https://pajnewman.com/?p=497

In this scene, Jack comes home from work to find his teenage daughter, Beverley, teaching herself to type. She’s an unmarried mother to baby Kerry and is already finding full-time parenting difficult. She decides to look for a job. After all, her mother goes out at work, so why can’t she?

On Friday afternoon, Jack let himself into the house and whistled. The only response was a soft tap-tapping from the kitchen. 

            He walked down the passage and opened the door. Bev was sitting at the kitchen table with Lily’s old typewriter, a book open beside her. She was looking at the book and typing, a frown of concentration on her face.

            “Hallo, love.”

            She jumped a mile.

            “Shit!” she yelped. “Don’t do that!”

            “What? Walk into me own kitchen? What you doing?”

            “Baking a cake, what does it look like?”

            “Then you’re a lousy cook,” he grinned.

            Bev giggled. Jack knew she could never resist her old dad’s jokes.

            “Any danger of a cuppa?”

            She rolled her eyes and got up to put the kettle on.

            “Where’s the baby?”

            “Upstairs in her cot. She finally decided she was tired.”

            He walked round the table and looked at the paper in the machine.

            The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. The quick btrim

            “What’s a b-t-r-i-m?”

            “It’s an old man what sneaks up on you.”

            “Ah, I thought so.” He sat down. “So, you’re learning to type?”

            “Yeah. I’m using Mum’s old book. It’s easy. Or it was till you scared the living daylights out of me.”

            He held up his hands. “Sorry, love. So, how long’s this been going on?”

            She shrugged. “Not long. I got bored, so thought I might as well do something useful.”

            “Something useful, eh? Like doing some housework to help your mum out?”

            She leant against the sink and gave him a look, just like Lily. What was it about his girls and those stroppy looks?

“Something useful for me,” she said. “So I can get a job.”

            He frowned. “There’s plenty of time for that. You’ve got Kerry to think of first.”

            Bev huffed and turned away, spooning tea into the pot, muttering to herself.

Fate and the Effects of Mine

Mine by Alison Knight

“What’s mine, I keep.”

London, 1968.

Lily’s dreams of a better life for her family are shattered when her teenage daughter refuses to give up her illegitimate child. It doesn’t help that Lily’s husband, Jack, takes their daughter’s side.


Taking refuge in her work at a law firm in the City, Lily’s growing feelings for her married boss soon provides a dangerous distraction.

Will Lily be able to resist temptation? Or will the decisions made by these ordinary people lead them down an extraordinary path that could destroy them all?

‘Mine’ – a powerful story of class, ambition and sexual politics.

The cover of ‘Mine’ Alison Knight’s new novel

Reader of pajnewman.com can read an exclusive extract from ‘Mine’ by Alison Knight here:

Alison Knight has indeed produced a powerful tale of class, ambition and forbidden love against the backdrop of 1960’s London.

The social mores of the day are played out against the backdrop of socially ambitious Lily becoming fragmented by her desire for advancement and dreams of bettering herself as her happy-go-lucky working class husband enjoys what he has.

This is marketed as a 1960s noir-ish novel but it is much more Eastenders via The Krays. This is not a glorified world of sharp suited gangsters and flash cars – it’s tins of peas, spuds needing peeled for tea and the quiet desperation of doomed love.

Decisions made – in lust, in hate, in ignorance – have consequences in this novel. And bad things can certainly befall those who don’t know their place in this society.

Few, if any, characters are happy. They are all locked in their own chambers of dissatisfaction and disgruntlement. 

The other way that it does not really fit the template of a crime novel is that it is not excessively plot driven. For the most part of 400 pages, these are small, domestic events. It’s the stresses of being late for Brownies or swimming lessons; the struggle to get to the office on time; or the relationship seeping away as the lust for excitement washes over the middle aged protagonists.

The fact that Knight writes in a crisp, engaging style which sucks the reader in and sweeps them towards the shocking and alarming denouement is a testament to her skill as a writer.

Overall, this is the sort of down to earth, realistic tale about the ripples caused by the decisions we take which live on generation to generation which will stay with the reader for a long time.

Purchase Links 

UK –  https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08JQF4JQT

US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08JQF4JQT

Author Alison Knight

Author Bio – 

Alison has been a legal executive, a registered childminder, a professional fund-raiser and a teacher. She has travelled the world – from spending a year as an exchange student in the US in the 1970s and trekking the Great Wall of China to celebrate her fortieth year and lots of other interesting places in between.

In her mid-forties Alison went to university part-time and gained a first-class degree in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University and an MA in the same subject from Oxford Brookes University, both while still working full-time. Her first book was published a year after she completed her master’s degree.

Mine is a domestic drama set in 1960s London based on real events in her family. She is the only person who can tell this particular story. Exploring themes of class, ambition and sexual politics, Mine shows how ordinary people can make choices that lead them into extraordinary situations.

Alison teaches creative and life-writing, runs workshops and retreats with Imagine Creative Writing Workshops(www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk) as well as working as a freelance editor. She is a member of the Society of Authors and the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

She lives in Somerset, within sight of Glastonbury Tor.

Social Media Links – 

Websites: www.alisonroseknight.com  www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk www.darkstroke.com/dark-stroke/alison-knight/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/alison.knight.942

Twitter: @Alison_Knight59

Some Very Good Dogs Indeed

‘Trials and Tribulations of a Pet Sitter’ by Laura Marchant

Hilarious and heart warming true stories of a Pet Sitter.

Laura takes us on her journey describing the immense joy that the animals have brought into her life. But it’s not all fun and games. With sometimes as many as ten dogs around her home, things can get a tad hectic. Not to forget the every day challenges faced in keeping the pets happy and safe when out walking. Luckily she is not alone in her quest; her unusually dominant Golden Retriever ‘Brece’ is always by her side. Brece earns her keep by convincingly playing the part of the alpha female, ensuring harmony amongst the pack.

At times, the responsibility that Laura faces becomes overwhelming. She may think she has everything covered but that hand of fate could quite easily swoop down, creating havoc for her and the dogs. Laura has endured many close calls and teetered on the precipice of disaster may a time. The longer she continues with her pet sitting enterprise, the more likely hood that total disaster will actually strike. Is she tempting fate?

​Laura Marchant is the Bridget Jones of the pet sitting world!

The cover image of Laura Marchant’s debut, ‘The Trials and Tribulations of a Pet Sitter’

Dogs are the best, aren’t they? I know that Laura Marchant takes us on a guided tour of her pet sitting empire which includes cats, but this is really a book all about dogs.

And, rightly so. What’s not to love about the lovable fur balls who share our homes? I think, if you were Marchant, the answer might be: “quite a lot”.

However, from trashed furniture to wild escape attempts and no room on the sofa, she takes the reader on a journey from contented office worker to pet sitting queen.

In some ways, the best thing about this book is the wish fulfilment. What true pet lover has not ideally dreamed about the opportunity to spend your days strolling through rolling fields with lovely hounds for hours at a time?

My own two very badly behaved hounds relaxing in the sun

Marchant provides a down-to-earth, almost step by step guide to setting up as a responsible, caring pet sitter. You can just feel the amount of furry cuddles she’s had radiate off the page.

But, boy, does it sound like hard work!

If I have a criticism (apart from her assertion that dogs have extra sensory perception which I think she and I are going to just have to agree to differ on) it is in the timbre of her writing.

Marchant has a friendly, informal, easy style. She is a comical, engaging and entertaining guide through the sometimes fraught world of professional pet sitting. But there is, perhaps, a lack of light and shade. The thing which sets the best writing about dogs apart – Marley and Me for example – is the terrible, finite lifespan of these magical companions. As the book neared its completion I kept waiting for the tragedy which would elevate this work to tear jerking finale, but it never came.

However, overall this is a charming tale, charmingly told and, if like many people in the UK, you adore your dogs, this will pass many a pleasant evening sharing limited sofa space with a domesticated wolf cramping your comfort.

Purchase Links

Author Bio – Laura Marchant was born in 1959 in the seaside resort of Lytham St Annes, Lancashire, England. Both her parents were born in the same town, so not exactly a family of intrepid travellers! As a child Laura and her siblings were fortunate enough to own shares in the family’s pets. Unbeknown to Laura at the time, her love for the animals formed the blueprint for a large part of her life. In 2011 she finally found her vocation, and in the comfort of her own home, set up a pet boarding business. For the next 7 years she shared her abode with a pack of dogs. A lot of this time was spent watching over the animals and observing their behaviour, which in turn inspired her to write her first novel ‘Trials and Tribulations of a Pet Sitter’.

Social Media Links – https://www.facebook.com/laura.marchant60/?modal=admin_todo_tour

The Show That Must Go On

‘The Road to Cromer Pier’ by Martin Gore

Janet’s first love arrives out of the blue after forty years. Those were simpler times for them both. Sunny childhood beach holidays, fish and chips and big copper pennies clunking into one armed bandits.

The Wells family has run the Cromer Pier Summertime Special Show for generations. But it’s now 2009 and the recession is biting hard. Owner Janet Wells and daughter Karen are facing an uncertain future. The show must go on, and Janet gambles on a fading talent show star. But both the star and the other cast members have their demons. This is a story of love, loyalty and luvvies. The road to Cromer Pier might be the end of their careers, or it might just be a new beginning. 

The cover of Martin Gore’s second novel, ‘The Road to Cromer Pier’

Martin Gore’s second novel is, I think, going to divide opinion. If you share his characters’ affection for, and nostalgia of, the great seaside holidays of the past in places like Cromer and Hastings and Bracklesham Bay, then you will adore this book. 

If, like many others, you think the reason that these places are dying a slow, strangulated death is because what they offer is over priced, miserably devoid of entertainment and plasticy crap, then you’ll find it hard to engage much with the central dilemma of whether the show will go on and the theatre saved. I grew up in one. I know they don’t need to be saved.

What Gore creates extremely successfully here is a world. This is a town where celebrities on the way up or the way down converge to put on a show which keeps the end of the pier theatre going. 

Gore populates this world like a soap opera: the stand up comedian with a dark secret, the former talent show starlet struggling to put together a life and a career, the mother and daughter team holding the thing to together with sticky tape and glue all the while attempting to evade the shark like attentions of local worthy, and seedy adulterous businessman, Lionel Penrose.

Into this cast of characters as shop soiled and seedy as the seafront town they inexplicably want to keep going, washes up disgraced former football manager on the run from his own troubles and a lover of the head strong Janet, who has some secrets of her own.

This is a novel which walks a bit of a tight rope as I mentioned. If you like the characters, then the ensemble nature – cleverly structured to the mirror the type of show they are building up to at the end of the pier – will allow you to swoop in and out of their stories to satisfy your curiosity. However, this becomes a high wire act as a reader can struggle to stay engaged if there is not a clear protagonist, or at least pair of protagonists to hold on to.

The version I reviewed was an audiobook and this lead to one or two other issues which might not be such and issue in print.

Certainly I once read that a writer should avoid having characters whose names begin with the same letters. I must confess that at times I struggled with Carol and Karen but this somewhat went into overdrive when, in such a large cast, there is a Lec, a Les, a Lauren and a Lionel. I ended up gravitating to the Paul and Janet story just because I could remember who the hell they were.

Additionally, the narration of Penny Scott-Andrews is variable. She renders the Welsh lilt of Lauren with beautiful precision and does a very sleazy Lionel too. But it does grate when a novel about showbusiness has a narrator who pronounces Captain Mainwaring as Captain Main-Wearing. Dad’s Army isn’t that obscure a reference even these days, surely?

Overall, however, I enjoyed diving into the underbelly of a failing theatrical enterprise and the setting was enhanced by rooting the piece so firmly against the backdrop of the 2008 financial crash. This is light, simple story telling, well told and engaging the big themes in life. I rather hope Mr Gore gets back on the Road to Cromer Pier in future. 

Purchase Link 

https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/The-Road-to-Cromer-Pier-Audiobook/B08FCW2BNS

Author Bio – 

I am a 63 year old Accountant who semi-retired to explore my love of creative writing. In my career I held Board level jobs for over twenty five years, in private, public and third sector organisations. I was born in Coventry, a city then dominated by the car industry and high volume manufacturing. Jaguar, Triumph, Talbot, Rolls Royce, Courtaulds, Massey Ferguson were the major employers, to name but a few.

When I was nine year’s old I told my long suffering mother that as I liked English composition and drama I was going to be a Playwright. She told me that I should work hard at school and get a proper job. She was right of course.

I started as an Office Junior at Jaguar in 1973 at eleven pounds sixty four a week. I thus grew up in the strike torn, class divided seventies. My first career ended in 2015, when I semi retired as Director of Corporate services at Humberside Probation. My second career, as a Non Executive Director, is great as it has allowed me free time to travel and indulge my passion for writing, both in novels and for theatre.

The opportunity to rekindle my interest in writing came in 2009, when I wrote my first pantomime, Cinderella, for my home group, the Walkington Pantomime Players. I have now written eight. I love theatre, particularly musical theatre, and completed the Hull Truck Theatre Playwrite course in 2010. My first play, a comedy called He’s Behind You, is now available on: https://www.silverbirchingtonplays.com/product-page/he-s-behind-you-by-martin-gore

Pen Pals was my first novel, and a second, The Road to Cromer Pier, is now available in all three formats. It was officially launched on Cromer Pier itself, coinciding with the new season of the Summertime Special Show.

I’m active on twitter @authorgore and on Facebook Martin Gore Author. My website is www.martingore.co.uk.

I’m an old fashioned writer I guess. I want you to laugh and to cry. I want you to believe in my characters, and feel that my stories have a beginning, a middle, and a satisfactory ending.’

Social Media Links

Twitter – https://twitter.com/AuthorGore

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Martin-Gore-Author-1237780169706466/

COVER REVEAL!

The Mystery of Montague House by Emma Davies

The cover of Emma Davies’ brand new novel, ‘The Mystery of Montague House’

I am delighted to bring you this cover reveal for Emma Davies’ new novel. Complete with gorgeous basset hound.

When Summer meets Wynter…

With enough rooms to fill a Cluedo board several times over, Montague House has often been the subject of rumour and gossip. Tales of strange goings on, an owner who disappeared one day and was never seen again, not to mention the treasure that rumour has it lies at its heart… But now the present owner has died and the house is to be sold. It looks as if the opportunity has come to finally settle the stories once and for all.

Clodagh Wynter doesn’t believe in ghostly goings on and tall tales of secrets. She has her feet very firmly on the ground and, tasked with the job of valuing and cataloguing the house and all its contents, she’s simply looking forward to working in such a glorious setting. And if she happens across a priceless painting, well, that’s just icing on the cake.

Andie Summer is a Finder of Things and desperately needs this job; she’s down to her last few tins of baked beans. So looking for hidden treasure sounds right up her street, even if there was something very fishy about the mysterious Mr Mayfair who hired her. Because it’s just like she said to her faithful Basset Hound, Hamish; I saw something out of the corner of my eye as I was leaving, and you know what that means. It’s never good news when I see something out of the corner of my eye…

As the unlikely pair are thrown together, it soon becomes very clear however that they are not the only ones searching for the treasure. And they’re going to need all their ingenuity, resourcefulness, not to mention chocolate biscuits, if they’re ever going to untangle the web of secrets that surrounds Montague House. One that reaches even further than they ever thought possible…

Purchase Link – https://smarturl.it/MontagueHouse

Former finance manager, now author, Emma Davies

Author Bio –

After a varied career, Emma Davies once worked for a design studio where she was asked to provide a fun and humorous (and not necessarily true) anecdote for their website. She wrote the following: ‘I am a bestselling novelist currently masquerading as a thirty-something mother of three.’ Well the job in the design studio didn’t work out but she’s now a fifty-something mother of three and is happy to report the rest of her dream came true.

After many years as a finance manager she now writes full time, and is far happier playing with words than numbers. She lives with her husband and three children in rural Shropshire where she writes in all the gaps in between real life.

Social Media Links –

@EmDaviesAuthor

www.facebook.com/emmadaviesauthor

www.instagram.com/authoremmadavies