Forgotten Dutch history concealed in my handbag

Imogen Matthews 

 

Imogen Matthews was born in Rijswijk, Holland, to a Dutch mother and English father, the family moved to England when Imogen was very young.

Imogen contacted me and asked me to review her novel.  She told me that The Hidden Village is an ‘intriguing historical fiction’ based on historical facts that have remained hidden in Holland.  My interest was piqued when she told me that she ‘needed to tell this WW2 story for the people of the hidden village.’  Obviously, the novel is on my Reading List but I wanted to find out more about the author and the book.

I was delighted to welcome Imogen Matthews to my Chat Room.  She is the first author to visit the completed room.  I was a little alarmed when she greeted me with, ‘Dag!’ but explained that it is Dutch for hello.

Imogen came into the Chat Room wearing a navy biker jacket over peach-coloured culottes and strappy navy sandals.  Of course, she had brought an enviable bag for the occasion and it was an elegant mushroom tote bag.

She requested a black Americano and brought some Dutch “koekjes” (biscuit) called “krakelingen” – lovely crisp flaky biscuits topped with sugar and cinnamon.

She said, ‘In Holland, you always get a “koekje” with your coffee and I miss that in England!’

How is Dutch culture different to British culture?

The Dutch have a word “gezellig” that is an emotion we don’t have a word for. So you can make your house “gezellig” by having lots of table lamps and tealights (strictly no overhead lights). A sociable meal with friends and family is also “gezellig”. My mother also used to say it was “gezellig” whenever I used to pop over for coffee. The Danes have stolen a march on this idea with “hygge”, but I can assure you that I’ve been using “gezellig” long before “hygge” became fashionable!

Imogen is an engaging, lively and positive personality and this reassured me that the narrative voice in her book would also be appealing.  It was obvious that her determination has served her well as a writer.  She cares passionately about the hidden Dutch history and this made me want to read on for the sake of the lost voices.

Tell me about The Hidden Village

Set in WW2 Holland, deep in the Veluwe woods, The Hidden Village is a story about survival, hope, despair, and ultimately, love, as a community pulls together to build a purpose-built village to shelter those persecuted by the Germans. The lives of young Sofie, Jan and Liesbeth become entwined with devastating consequences for their futures.

Tempt me with an extract from the novel

“It was the smell of a cigarette that stopped him in his tracks. A man wearing a grey belted coat stepped out from behind the tree. ‘So’, he said, grinding his cigarette with his boot.”

Why did you decide to digress from your usual genre of novel?

This was a story I felt I had to get down, so when I’d finished I felt pleased I’d told a story that so many people won’t have known anything about.

Imogen Matthews

What do the reviewers say about your novel?

Sensitively written. “From the first chapter you are engaged with the characters and I even found myself warning them when they were due to be raided – OUT LOUD! Sensitively written, with a page-turning plot, this is a wonderful new book from Imogen.” Ms E. Holmes-ievers

I couldn’t put it down. “This skillful blend of fiction within the factual events happening to many at those times, holds you till the end. I couldn’t put it down, nor did I want to until the final page.”  Gilly Cox

Highly recommended. “Though the subject matter is tough, there are lighter moments and the book rattles along at a good pace. The varied cast of characters, especially the younger ones, keeps your interest. Highly recommended.”  Clarky

How did you feel when you had finished writing your book, and did you miss any of the characters?

It left a big hole as I’d spent so long on the book and I realised just how attached I’d become to my characters.

So yes, I miss my characters lots! I miss Sofie’s feistiness and determination not to let her life change by hiding away from the Germans. And I miss her best friend Liesbeth, who sticks by Sofie through thick and thin, even though she also has to make her own big sacrifices. I even miss the enigmatic Henk, the head woodman, who’s instrumental in getting the hidden village built, but struggles with his loyalties. I particularly miss Jan, who’s always getting into scrapes but is only trying to help others and do good. He goes through so much that I just want to give him a big hug and tell him that everything will turn out alright.

It is obvious that you are genuinely attached to your characters and care about them – this always bodes well for the reader.

Who would you like to read your book and why?  This could be another author, someone famous, a friend or a member of your family.  

I’d love Anita Shreve to read my book as I’m a great fan of her writing. She has a great ability to say so much in so few words. Her book Resistance, set in German-occupied Belgium, is brilliant and inspired me when I started working out the plot for my book.

Why should I keep your book in my handbag?

Because it’s so gripping that you won’t want to leave it out of your sight!

What is the last sentence written in your writer’s notebook?

I’ve been writing for years and have notebooks all over the place, so that’s a hard one. I guess it’ll be something along the lines of “to be continued.” That sums up how I feel about writing -I’ve always got something more to say.

What is the biggest challenge for an independent author?

Getting noticed. You have to work really hard to get people to find your book as the competition is increasing all the time. I self-published my first book Run Away by Alex Johnson (my pen name) in 2012 and got a great response quite quickly and lots of reviews. Then in 2014 I published the sequel The Perfume Muse and it was already much harder. For The Hidden Village I was fortunate to find Amsterdam Publishers, who have been enormously helpful in helping to navigate the many pitfalls when launching a book.

What is the best advice that you have received as a writer?

A writing tutor once said that you should write every day, however little and however bad you might think your writing is. She also recommended writing before doing anything else first thing in the morning as it’s so easy to get distracted by other things and then never get down to it. I took her advice to heart and sometimes I only write 100 words a day, but these words do add up and eventually you can see you have written a book. Of course, that’s when the hard work starts, but you’ve built the framework which gives you the confidence to keep going.

Tell me a little more about yourself.

I live with my husband in Oxford and love to go on runs, walks and cycle rides in the beautiful surrounding countryside. I love cooking Moroccan and Middle Eastern inspired food, particularly Ottolenghi and Persiana recipes. A favourite is lovely crumbly tahini cookies.

Tahini Cookies (from Jerusalem) by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamiimi

130g caster sugar

150 unsalted butter, at room temperature

110g light tahini paste

1/2 tsp vanilla essence

25ml double cream (you can sub this with milk)

270g plain flour

1tsp cinnamon

200 degree C/180 degree C Fan/Gas Mark 6

Put sugar and butter in mixer bowl and with a beater attachment work for 1 minute at medium speed. Add tahini, vanilla and cream, then the flour and work for a minute till a dough comes together. Transfer to a work surface and knead till smooth.

Pinch off 20g of dough and roll between your palms into a ball. Squash down onto a baking sheet (no oil necessary) and use the back of a fork to flatten and make a prong pattern. Sprinkle each cookie with cinnamon. Make sure the cookies aren’t too close together as they do spread a bit.

Into the oven for 15-17 minutes till golden brown.

Turn onto a wire rack to cool and try and resist eating them when hot! Yum!

I pressed Imogen to let me have the recipe!

 

Please see all my interviews on My Guests and see my blog at jessiecahalin.com

A book from another world in my handbag

It is great to challenge ourselves with new genres, and ‘We Other’ is a dark fairy thriller. According to reviewers, ‘We Other’ is a magical novel to inspire the imagination. ‘In the book you will meet faeries you would never want to meet on a dark night,’ explained, the author, Sue Bentley. Intrigued, I asked Sue to address her readers, and tell us more about her novel.

 

 

Dear Readers – I am delighted to present We Other.

In this extract we meet Jess Morgan, a loner who doesn’t fit in and has few friends. Her life is about to change in ways she could never have imagined.

I chose this extract to introduce Jess, whose story this is. She’s feisty, difficult and street-wise – with good reason – but she’s vulnerable too, with a good heart.

The reader should be tempted to place my book in their handbag because it’s a complex and rewarding read, with many twists and turns which will keep them guessing.  I’m rooting for Jess and I hope you will too, once you get to know her.

Best wishes and I hope you enjoy the extract. Happy reading!

Sue Bentley

 

Words from the book…

And then looking through the opening into the final gallery, Jess caught sight of a large painting hanging by itself. Her breath quickening with excitement, she walked rapidly towards it.

There was a small crowd of people in front of the painting. She could only glimpse details through the shifting bodies, but she knew it was the one. She hung back, wanting to prolong the moment when she stood face to face with that figure wrought from shadows. Leave me alone with it, she thought. Go away. All of you.

Oblivious to the air around her tingling and shimmering, in a way that was beginning to feel familiar, she stared at the painting. As she moved forward, time seemed to shift into slow motion. A slew of sound echoed hollow and discordant in her ears as every person standing in front of the painting turned in a single movement. They looked at Jess with glazed eyes, before drifting sideways in a single body, moving as if in the steps of some tightly choreographed dance, and melting from the gallery.

Everyone else had somehow left too, she realised. She could see people strolling around the other galleries through the archways. But here, she was alone. In the sudden stillness Jess caught her breath. The painting was revealed to her in its entirety. Or as she thought oddly, it revealed itself to her.

She was not disappointed by what she saw.

More about the book…

Jess Morgan’s life has always been chaotic. When a startling new reality cannot be denied, it’s clear that everything she believed about herself is a lie. She is linked to a world where humans – ‘hot-bloods’ – are disposable entertainment. Life on a run-down estate – her single mum’s alcoholism and violent boyfriend – become the least of her worries. Drawn into a new world of rich darkness, she finds herself torn between love, family and a growing sense of a new, powerful identity.

Strapline for the book – Fairies you never want to meet on a dark night.

What the reviewers say…

‘Darkly delicious. Lights the blue touch paper and runs away.’ Peter J Goodchild

‘Absolutely magical. Compelling story and gorgeous writing.’  Freda Warrington – award winning author of 21 fantasy novels

‘Give yourself time. You won’t want to put this down.’ Ruth Webster

More about Sue…

Sue Bentley is fascinated by English Folklore, the extraordinary in the everyday and the darkness that hovers at the edges of the light.

Sue says…

Louis Armstrong says it best – ‘the bright blessed day and the dark sacred night’ You can’t have one without the other.

I always enjoyed ‘real’ fairy tales – not the sanitised Disney versions. For example, in some versions of Cinderella – the ugly sisters snip off their toes to be able to cram their feet into the glass slipper.

I was that kid in a class of pink tutus who was dressed as a vampire bat. I never wanted high-heeled dancing shoes, I wanted sturdy boots to go tramping around forests looking for the shapes of goblins in the trees.

As for characters – Goody, Goody is all very well, but it can get boring. We all love the ‘bad’ characters who do doubtful things – they’re much more fun to write about.

I am intrigued by Sue’s exploration of the ‘darkness that hovers on the edge of light’ and wonder what she presents to the reader in ‘We Other’.  The extract evoked my imagination, and I wanted to know why Jess ‘wasn’t disappointed’.  This novel sounds as if it will challenge the boundaries of the imagination, as it has done for the reviewers.

 

Please see all my extracts at Book Extracts and my blog at jessiecahalin.com.

 

Something ‘Broken But Not Lost’ in my handbag

Broken

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ivy Logan is presenting the cover reveal of her gripping young adult romance, ‘Broken’.  It is a coming of age romance of sacrifice and love. As I am unfamiliar with this genre, I asked Ivy why I should place her supernatural fantasy adventure in my handbag.

Here is Ivy’s explanation:

Talia, my heroine, belongs to a time when there were no handbags. But for the modern reader, a handbag is all about a woman on the go with so much to do, places to go, things to achieve.

Broken is so apt for the modern reader, who is on the move, as you can pick up the at any time and find sanctuary in another world.  The novel will draw you into a magical world where women are not perfect, but love gives them the power and the courage to fight dragons. We all face dragons, in real life, for the love of our families.

Talia is fragile, has been hunted and has lost her entire family to an ancient curse. As an independent woman, she doesn’t need a prince to protect her, only to love her.  She has learned the best lesson in life- take a stand and face your nemesis head on.

This book offers young girls a female hero who believes in, her family, love and friendships. Although a fantasy, this book has a significant message.  Broken is the portrayal of a strong woman who deals with violence, bullying, grief and sacrifice.

Talia may live in a fantasy world, but like any girl in modern society, she has her own problems and insecurities to overcome before she is strong once again.

It is intriguing the way Ivy has presented an inspirational message in the story. Ivy weaved her magic and had me hooked on her clever tale, and I read the blurb to discover more…

The dark shadow cast by an ancient prophecy shatters an innocent family, but all that is broken is not lost.

Unaware of her supernatural legacy, half blood sorceress Talia has a unique childhood. Although protected by the love of her parents, Talia is instructed in the art of combat by her mother, Caitlin, a powerful sorceress of the Heichi clan.

When Talia’s family’s worst nightmare comes to pass, her protected life spins out of control. Everything she believes in and everyone she loves is cruelly snatched away and Talia is forced to flee the attentions of a mad king.

Choosing a path of retribution devoid of love and friendship, Talia comes to learn that love can be received even if it is not sought.

Broken’ is a tale of Talia’s coming of age, reuniting with her family, and seeking vengeance. Most of all, it chronicles, Talia’s rise from the ashes and how she finds herself again.

Set against a background of time travel and supernatural forces, read Talia’s epic saga of love, sacrifice, and discovering the hero within.

Once the magic spell of the blurb had been cast, I asked Ivy to present some magic words from the story…

Caitlin finally saw a way out of her torment. She had been born a guardian and it was now time to don the mantle again. She had to protect her little family.  She and the cursed child must be separated from each other. If they were not together, the prophecy could not come to pass.

But how does a mother choose? Choosing between her children seemed implausible and unthinkable, but for the sake of her family, she had to do it. She had to know which child lived under the shadow of the curse.

In little Joshua, who was so innocent and without guile, Caitlin saw Michael and the peace and calm he brought to her life. In Talia, she saw an image of herself, the strength, the promise of power, and unfortunately, the pain it could bring. Talia was the half blood; the prophecy predicting Caitlin would betray the Heichi on account of her child had to be related to Talia.

Broken Not Lost‘ is yet to receive reviews.  However, the prequel, Origins – Legends of Ava, has received wonderful reviews and this bodes well for the release of the novel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What do the reviewers say about the prequel to Broken, titled, Origins –The Legend of Ava?

‘What an introduction! It just leaves you hungry for more. Ivy Logan knows how to build a beautiful scenario even if it is a tragic one. The taste of her mythology is a fresh one. I can’t wait to read more.’ Selene Kallan

‘I have just had the pleasure of reading this short story and prequel to Broken; book one of The Breach Chronicles. The author has introduced the reader to a world where supernaturals live on earth and the complications that this can bring. In this story we meet Ava and the Heichi sorceresses and what a gripping start to the story it is when tragedy and subsequent decisions surrounding this, creates unease among the supernatural. This is a story you must read and it has left me wanting more. I hope it isn’t too long before Broken is released so that I can find out what happens next.’ Ann Walker

‘Picture the opening scene… The beautiful yet unassuming girl, the bad boy rebel… A budding romance. Without giving too much away, they don’t feature all that long in plot. This novel starts as it means to go on, it take all those YA tropes and lets you know that isn’t going to happen here.
I’m genuinely excited to read more of this story. The world being built is rich and new. I’m an artist and I’m already itching to bring to life on paper. The characters are, for lack of a better word, human. Flawed in a real sense that allows you to emphasize with them. The multi perspective way the story is presented allows for a 360 view of events. A very important factor to this introductory piece. I can’t wait for the next installment!’ Faith Summers

‘Ms. Logan has done a great job of setting up the premise for Broken, Book 1 of the Breach Chronicles. The characters are well described, their emotions jumping off the page, and all beautifully worded. I’m looking forward to reading the first installment of the series as this prequel peeks my interest to the epic saga that is to follow.’ Jacky Dahlhaus

 

 

Broken is Book 1 of The Breach Chronicles.   The cover evokes intrigue and Ivy’s writing has the magical quality required for this genre. I believe the readers will not leave this fantasy world until they are reassured that all is ‘Broken But Not Lost’.  This is Ivy’s debut novel and I wish her all the best with her magical adventures!

 

Please see my blog at jessiecahalin.com.

 

Meeting Jane Austen

Today, I attended the Bennet household. Alas, Elizabeth was not at home. I was rather shocked to be greeted by her father, Mr Bennet. I did not see a servant.

Apparently, Mr Bennet had taken refuge from the house as there was a quarrel afoot. He was a pleasant enough fellow but a little shabby.

Finally, he asked the parlour maid to show me into the library. Strangely, every book on the shelves has been penned by a Jane Austen. I was most impressed with a book entitled, ‘Pride and Prejudice’.

I made a note of some words:

‘I declare there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of anything than a book!…When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if it does not have an excellent library.’

Lost in Austen’s books, I read until the clock struck four and my stomach rumbled. Venturing into the corridor, surprised that the house was silent, I decided to depart.  A Miss Austen opened the door and insisted on my company. She informed me that Mr Bennet lives in her imagination, but he had been seen loitering on the doorstop on many occasions.

Amused by my breeches, Miss Austen invited me to take tea with her. She smiled when I explained they are cropped trousers. We sat in a very modest parlour.  The maid served tea and a buttered apple tart.  Delighted that her books had made me forget time, Miss Austen commented that. ‘…for my own part, if a book is written well, I always find it too short.’

This year marks the 200th anniversary of Jane’s death and her books remain popular.  It is a delight to own a beautiful copy of the books.  However, it never fails to amaze me that it is now possible to download the timeless stories for free.

 

Please see all my adventures at Handbag Adventures and my blog at jessiecahalin.com.

Find out why the book in my handbag is waiting for the weekend…

As it is almost the weekend, I have asked Jan Brigden to present an extract from her romance novel, ‘As Weekends Go’.  Grab yourself a coffee, take a break and let Jan chat to you about her novel.

 

 

 

 

What if your entire life changed in the space of a weekend?

Dear Readers,

I am delighted to present ‘As Weekends Go’. The extract I have chosen is fairly early on in the book.  I think it perfectly portrays how Alex (principal male character) feels after his memorable first encounter with Rebecca (principal female character) at Hawksley Manor, the plush hotel in which they are both staying as guests, little knowing the drama that lay ahead of them.

I’d love you keep ‘As Weekends Go’ in your handbag so you can dip in and out of the story. Open the book as you move from place to place, and flit from one dilemma to the next over the course of their eventful weekend and beyond.

Enjoy!

Best Wishes,

Jan X

Words from the book…

Alex took the scenic route to the car park to try and fathom the effect she’d had on him. Those eyes, so rich in colour, like a tiger’s eyes, sparkling back at him.

As much as he hated how big-headed it sounded, even to himself, he was used to people staring at him. Fact. He also knew that what had happened back there was in no way premeditated on her part; the deep blush and dip of her head when he’d first spoken to her had told him that. How small she’d tried to make herself appear during the ensuing chaos in reception, standing there nervously pulling on the bottom of her ponytail, looking so desperately sorry.

He’d felt like an ogre deliberately holding on to her mobile, but if he’d given it straight back to her she might have fled before he’d had a chance to find out her name.

Rebecca.

He’d certainly never seen her at the hotel before.

What was it his granddad had told him during their precious heart-to-heart the day before he’d died?

‘Believe me, Alex, you’ll know when you’ve met “the one”’

Trouble is, Granddad … What do I do if she’s already married?

More about the book…

When Rebecca’s friend Abi convinces her to get away from it all at the fabulous Hawksley Manor hotel in York, it seems too good to be true. Pampering and relaxation is just what Rebecca needs to distract herself from the creeping suspicion that her husband, Greg, is hiding something from her.

She never imagined that by the end of the weekend she would have dined with celebrities or danced the night away in exclusive clubs. Nor could she have predicted she would meet famous footballer, Alex Heath, or that he would be the one to show her that she deserved so much more …

But no matter how amazing a weekend is, it’s always back to reality come Monday morning – isn’t it?

What the reviewers say…

“I loved this gorgeous love story, written with a sure touch and a big heart.” Bestselling author, Lisa Jewell.

“Alex isn’t your stereotypical celeb footballer (or rather stereotypically portrayed in the media).  His ethics and morals had me swooning as much as his physique!” Shaz Goodwin – Jera’s Jamboree

“Those lovely people at Choc Lit and their reading panel do have a bit of a talent for spotting something special that their readers will enjoy, and they’ve done it again with this lovely book.”  Anne Williams of Being Anne

More about Jan…

Jan is a South London-dwelling all-round book devotee, married to Dave, and one eighth of online-writing group The Romaniacs

As Weekends Go tested as many of my emotions as I put my characters through, so when it was published by Choc Lit UK after winning their Search for a Star Competition 2014/2015, I was elated. I missed the characters terribly, especially Rebecca and Alex, so much so, that I’m currently writing the sequel where I get to spend more time with a few of the ‘As Weekends Go’ crew, plus some new faces who are creating a whole fresh mixture of predicaments for everyone.

I suggest you go shopping, stock up on your favourite treats and pamper yourself with a great read.  Now your weekend is organised, and you can sit back and read about someone else’s dilemmas, as you visit York, Spain and Brighton. I’ll see you in Brighton – happy reading! 

 

Please see all my extracts at Book Extracts and my blog at jessiecahalin.com.

 

Body in the library and thriller in handbag

Karl Holton

 

 

 

 

From a darkened corner of the room a figure appeared. ‘The Weight of Shadows’ is all he said, before collapsing at my feet; an ornate handled knife buried in his back. What could the victim’s last words possibly mean? 

Greenway House

I met with author, Karl Holton, at Greenway House, and he had staged a dramatic introduction to his new book.  He is an Agatha Christie fan and it seemed fitting to visit her holiday home.  The house is deemed ‘the loveliest place in the world’, on the website, and it certainly lived up to expectation. I marvelled at the glorious view of the River Dart. Appropriately, Karl wanted to conduct the interview in the library. I inspected the library for a body, again, but it was safe.  The light and airy library seemed a fitting place to inspire the great Agatha Christie.  Karl waxed lyrical about the house and gave me some interesting facts about the great author. 

Karl:  Did you know that this house inspired Dead Man’s Folly? It’s one of the Poirot novels and it was the last ever ‘Poirot’ made by David Suchet playing the role of the great detective. They made it right here in the house and this was what she did so well; she adapted what she knew directly into the narrative.

Jessie:  No, I wasn’t aware of that. I love the Poirot novels – they are great fun.  My husband can watch Poirot programmes all day. Who is your favourite TV Poirot? I like Albert Finney. I’m not sure if that was TV or film.

Karl: For me, David Suchet is the quintessential ‘Poirot’.

Jessie:  Of course, yes he was brilliant – he was Poirot.  We digress, can you tell me about ‘The Weight of the Shadows’?

Karl delved into his rucksack.  Strangely enough, his rucksack was full of his favourite Agatha Christie novels, and he proceeded to display some of the novel on the table.  Finally, the actor, who had performed earlier, reappeared with a copy of Karl’s novel. The cover of ‘The Weight of the Shadows’ is modern and suggests a fast-paced plot set in London. 

Karl: At one level ‘The Weight of the Shadows’ is an entertaining crime thriller mystery with plot twists and turns. At another level it is the first six days at the beginning of a series that introduces some interesting characters and a narrative that has subtle and, I hope, thought provoking subjects.

Jessie:  Crime thrillers are always popular.  It’s a great genre to establish a fanbase. What have the reviewers said about your new book?

Smiling, Karl started to recall some of the reviews. 

Karl: “an intriguing plot, thoughtful, profound themes, complex troubling characters, and language that make us shudder for its honesty, clarity, and confidence” – Piaras O Cionnaoith

“irresistible book, impossible to put down” – Bookgirl Sulagna

“a story that is intense and heart-pounding!” – Elaine Emmerick

Jessie:  I’m impressed that you have already commenced your second book. We are in an ideal place to read.  Can you read an extract from the book to tempt the reader?

Karl:  It’s a real privilege to read here in Agatha Christie’s library.

Benedict was motionless with one thought. Never give up.

She pushed the tip of the blade in and under the skin on his chest, near his heart.

Karl: This extract is only a few words, but the importance of these at the start of the narrative is significant.

Jessie: A great choice – you certainly hook the reader into the narrative.  I can tell that you enjoyed constructing the narrative and the characters.  How did you feel when you had finished writing your book, and did you miss any of the characters?

Karl: The euphoria of finishing was quickly met by the realisation that as an indie author the work had just started. Apart from the marketing, reviews, social media etc. I remembered that I needed to start working on the second book in the series.

Given the second book in the series starts the day after the end of this first book I’ve not really had the opportunity to miss the characters.

Jessie: Who would you like to read your book and why?  This could be another author, someone famous, a friend or a member of your family.  

Karl: If I were choosing an author it would be Agatha Christie. We could discuss the pace of the plot and sub-plots.

If it were someone famous (and alive) I’d ask Stephen Fry to review the book. Within the series I’m going to try to examine and compare some cognitive and emotive subjects through the plot, characters and narrative. I’d really like to discuss these with him.

Karl Holton

Jessie: Why should I keep your book in my handbag?

Karl: Well I hope it has a plot that keeps you guessing and is enjoyable as it begins to reveal itself. If you read some of the reviews you will notice that it’s not clear what the connections are at the start and then the plot arcs entwine; that’s very deliberate.

Jessie: What is the last sentence written in your writer’s notebook?

Karl: ‘Nice nails’ – you’ll have to read the book to see why I might have written that down.

Jessie: What is the biggest challenge for an author?

Karl: This is a really interesting question because it will very much depend upon what type of author you want to be. A full-time author who wants a publisher to do everything for them will have a very different set of challenges compared to an indie with a job who is happy selling a few books a month. I’m going to give you my answer based upon what I am, which is an indie who is trying to make this my full-time job.

My single biggest challenge is becoming known enough so that people take a chance and buy, read and review the book. As an indie author, you have no one to help this happen so you need to do it and this takes a significant amount of both time and commitment. In a world where we have over 200k books published in the UK per year and possibly 1 million in the US, just being seen is a challenge that any aspiring author should not understate.

I have discussed this issue with other authors, both published and indie. Personally, I think many really talented authors will either give up or just never be seen because they get lost in this ‘jungle’.

Jessie: What is the best advice that you have received as a writer?

Karl: Get an editor.

About Karl

Karl is a chartered accountant who previously worked in financial markets for over thirty years. He has collected books his whole life with a focus on London and crime fiction. He is married with two children and lives in Surrey.

Karl is very animated when talking about his book. It is clear he is dedicated to his writing and is very industrious.  Many reviews say that the book is ‘spine tingling’ and ‘irresistible’   I do hope that Karl’s debut novel is successful and wish him the best of luck with his novel.

Contacts:

Blog = http://karlholton.com

Twitter = @KarlHolton

Facebook = @KarlHoltonAuthor

Email = info@thuja.co

 

Please see all my interviews at My Guests and my blog at jessiecahalin.com

‘Superauthors’ and the social media catwalk

Nowadays, authors must have the superpowers to make themselves heard in a world where over two million books are published each year. Superauthors write beautiful books and know how to strut their stuff on the social media catwalk, but the modern author doesn’t have to go it alone.

Superauthors lock themselves away to write, but they connect with likeminded people, via social media, and tweet about their writing journey.  They tweet and post on Facebook about: funny events, sad events, offer quotations from writers who inspire them and images of world surrounding them. After long periods of tapping at the keyboard, my role models also find time to read and review books. Coffee and cake consumed, this unique author goes an extra mile to share to support others when they are having a little wobble. They will also retweet other authors’ cover reveals, publication days etc. It is a wonderful supportive community of authors, and I have the greatest of respect for these dedicated, talented people.

Social media means the writer is no longer alone on their writing journey, and they have a green room where they can vent frustrations about editing, writing and editing. However, once the book is finished, it is time to plan the walk on the social media catwalk to promote the book. Firstly, the author must dress up the book in as many advertisement guises as possible then send it out on the social media catwalk.  Walking the social media catwalk also involves: stopping for an interview, turning to provide an extract. stumbling on mean review, bowing gracefully when they receive a positive accolade and re-tweeting like mad.  The parade down the media catwalk looks like fun, but don’t be fooled, each step has been carefully planned. Superauthors engage support from their community before they face the spotlight, and take the time to visit Facebook pages, interact and comment in the way a friend may drop in occasionally.  They re-tweet and share references about their work of others.

As a tribute to these hardworking role models, I have developed virtual rooms for authors to promote their work throughout the year. I have observed that the promotion activity cannot be limited to one short period of time, and authors can’t go it alone. My Handbag Gallery, Chat Room, Bag a Bargain, Extract, News and reviews and are gifts to these wonderful team players.  It enables me to shout about their works of art in a gallery, plus it provides them with tweets and posts to celebrate. And I get to collect more role models and friends, while also interacting with inspirational people.

Cheers to my role models and friends – you know who you are! Thanks for popping up on Twitter and Facebook and my blogs.  Many thanks for writing about me in your blogs.  Your handbags are so last season and may need updating as you write more books. Thanks for the happy handbags and beautiful books!

Any new friends are welcome to visit my website and drop in on the authors in the Handbag Gallery and Chat Room. There is an abundance of learned role models, with great books, fabulous handbags and a wealth of advice. I am looking forward to launching more pages for authors and readers.

Feel free to send me a photo of your book in your handbag and you can join my community of superauthors.

 

Please see all my adventures at Handbag Adventures and my blog at jessiecahalin.com.