Archive for category Spotlight
Learn about author Sarah Marie Graye today as she takes time out from writing to discuss her debut novel, The Second Cup. Remember to scroll to the end and enter Sarah’s international giveaway. Three winners will each receive a signed copy of The Second Cup.
FD: Where are you from?
SMG: I’m originally from Manchester (in the United Kingdom). I’m a typical Mancunian in that I can’t hear anything negative about my hometown, although I’m not sure I could live in a big city again. I lived in London for a while, but it wasn’t for me. [SMG shudders] I currently live in Whitstable on the north Kent coast – and one of my local bars is called ‘Novelist’ so it’s fate! I recommend a daily dose of sea air to anyone thinking of moving to the coast.
FD: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
SMG: I’m a natural daydreamer and spend many hours living in the world inside my head. I’ve always enjoyed reading and found myself writing the next theoretical chapter of a book in my head once I’d finished reading something.
I loathed school, but found English the most tolerable subject! [SMG rolls her eyes] I studied English Literature at A Level and enjoyed the range and depth of books we read. I also studied Performing Arts and went on to do a degree in Scriptwriting at Bournemouth University before working as a journalist. A few years ago I completed an MA Creative Writing, which supported me in writing my debut novel.
FD: What inspired you to write your first book?
SMG: The final-year project on my degree at Bournemouth was a feature-length script. The feedback I got was that my writing was a too descriptive for a script – and also wasted on it because the audience didn’t get to read it, and that I should consider writing a novel. The thought stayed with me for over a decade before I got round to doing anything about it! I’m a typical “Turtle Writer” (a group of writers who write slowly, who support each other on Twitter).
FD: Who designed the cover?
SMG: Cover Mint (www.covermint.design). It was one of five covers sent over as ideas from my publisher Creativia. I fell in love with the one I chose instantly. Turns out it was their favourite too! I especially love the font – it has given my novel a very strong look. When my first order of paperbacks turned up I found myself hugging them – it’s when it really hit home that I was a published novelist.
FD: What genres do you enjoy reading and what are you reading now?
SMG: I love psychological fiction that gets inside the head of the main characters. I prefer slower paced books, so I don’t read too much psychological crime/thriller fiction. I’m currently reading The White Lie by Andrea Gillies – I’m actually re-reading it, which is cheating a little, I guess [SMG grins]. Before that I read The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards and I’ve got How to Stop Time by Matt Haig and The Summer of Impossible Things by Rowan Coleman next on my to-read list.
FD: How do you relax and have fun?
SMG: I love going for long walks. Well, I’m more of a meanderer – no real speed. I’ve learned the coastal bus routes in Whitstable and Herne Bay so I can get myself back home if I walk too far and tire myself out. I also enjoy binge-watching TV series on Netflix – recent recommendations are The Code and The Sinner. And reading, of course! I obviously love reading! [SMG laughs] I’m also a bit of a sleep addict; I try to get 10 hours every night. Sleep is so important for health and general wellbeing and needs no fitness levels in order to be achieved.
FD: What’s one thing from your bucket list you’d like to experience or accomplish?
SMG: To spend a year or two living on one of the Canary Islands and writing a book in the sun. It’s difficult to get work out there, so it’s very much a wistful idea at the moment. I have a plotline for a novel where tragedy strikes on holiday, so it would be the perfect excuse. If I ever win the lottery I’ll head out there and have a lovely long writing holiday!
FD: What are your current projects?
SMG: I’m working on my second novel, with the working title of The Victoria Lie. I’m just over 10,000 words into the first draft, so it’s not much beyond the embryonic stage at the moment. Unlike The Second Cup, which is mostly set in my hometown of Manchester (plus London, Berkhamsted and Blackpool), The Victoria Lie is set in London and Whitstable.
FD: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
SMG: I write in first-person multi-narration, so different characters tell different chapters. The section below comes from the first draft of Ruby’s first chapter. She lives in Whitstable and is visiting London – so she sees it through the eyes of an outsider. A homeless person has just recited a poem on the tube as a way to beg for money. Ruby notices the way most people on the tube don’t even see them.
She finishes her poem and stands briefly at the end of the carriage that was temporarily her stage before walking slowly between the two rows of seats, ignored by most, acknowledged with a nod by a skinny girl who looks like she could do with a decent meal herself – the nod says “I would like to help but I can’t, but I see you as a fellow human”. The nod is important.
Nobody else puts their hands in their pockets or their purses. I know rhyming couplets aren’t clever, and maybe it’s the hundredth time that everyone else in this carriage has heard the poem, but I want to reward this homeless woman for attempting to connect with a carriage full of people who mostly want to pretend she isn’t there.
I have no idea what an acceptable amount to give a homeless person in London is, so I guess at £2. I fish the coins out of my purse and hand them over. I can tell from the slight flex of muscles on her face – a hint of surprise – that I’ve been generous. Even though people earn more in London, it doesn’t seem to matter; people are protective of their own pennies.
FD: Where can readers find you online?
You’re most likely to find me on Twitter!
FD: Many thanks for visiting with us today, Sarah Marie. Continued success to you!
SMG: Thank you! Lovely to meet you and talk to you about about my writing. Hopefully we’ll get the chance to catch up again once I’ve finished The Victoria Lie.
Would your life unravel if someone you knew committed suicide? Theirs did.
Faye’s heart still belongs to her first love, Jack. She knows he might have moved on, but when she decides to track him down, nothing prepares her for the news that he’s taken his own life.
With the fragility of life staring them in the face, Abbie finds herself questioning her marriage, and Faye her friendship with Ethan. And poor Olivia is questioning everything – including why Jack’s death has hit Beth the hardest. Is she about to take her own life too?
Universal Purchase Link – https://mybook.to/SecondCup
Sarah Marie Graye was born in Manchester, United Kingdom, in 1975, to English Catholic parents. One of five daughters, to the outside world Sarah Marie’s childhood followed a relatively typical Manchester upbringing… until aged 9, when she was diagnosed with depression.
It’s a diagnosis that has stayed with Sarah Marie over three decades, and something she believes has coloured every life decision.
Now in her early 40s, and with an MA Creative Writing from London South Bank University (where she was the vice-chancellor’s scholarship holder), Sarah Marie has published her debut novel – about family, friendships and mental health.
Win 3 x Signed copies of The Second Cup by Sarah Marie Graye (Open Internationally)
Have you ever helped out a stranger only to have it turn your normal life into something that resembles a nightmare?
After a dead man is discovered in one of her motel units, his only relative, an older sister, asks Arina to help her. The sister believes her brother was murdered.
Despite being dissuaded from getting involved, true to form, Arina dives in. Head first.
Without knowing exactly what she was getting into, she inadvertently puts lives on the line. Including the life of her two-year-old son, Ben.
Money laundering and multi-million-dollar tax evasion scams are uncovered. Ruthless and desperate people will do all they can to avoid detection to protect their interests. Including murder.
Book Three ‘HER BROTHER’S KEEPER’ of the Arina Perry Series takes a phycological ride on the wild side.
Released in e-book late November 2017 and in paperback late December 2017.
‘Crime Fiction About An Undercover Cop By a Former Undercover Cop’ is roughly how the blurb goes on the Amazon listing for my latest book Who The F*ck Am I?
The title may be a tad controversial to some, but it is part of the very fabric of an infiltrator. Identity confusion among undercover agents is a medically recognised condition.
It is Book One in a trilogy featuring Steve Regan, a fictional British undercover cop. The action takes place mainly in the United Kingdom but also takes the reader to Miami and Boston in the United States.
The book is available from October 31, 2017, in both Kindle and paperback through Amazon. It will also be available in other eBook formats through Smashwords and at most other online bookstores.
The blurb also makes the claim, “This surely has to be a first! Crime fiction about an undercover cop written by a former undercover cop!
From Amazon UK bestselling author, Stephen Bentley, comes a fictional undercover cop, Steve Regan, following on the success of his true crime undercover cop memoir ‘Undercover: Operation Julie – The Inside Story.’
Steve Regan, undercover detective, is tempted by the riches of drug smuggling so he can be free of debt, police bureaucracy, and help a loved one. He wonders whether he can go ‘rogue’ and cross the line.
Regan gets involved in one deal with a Miami-based drug lord. But is everyone who they say they are?
Short, fast-paced, high-impact entertainment, from a bestselling author who knows how to suck you into a story.”
This novella was inspired by two gangsters I met in real life while undercover. I harboured thoughts about them for many years and felt obliged to deal with those thoughts in this fictional work. I believe I can safely say that is a first!
As the author and a former undercover cop, I do not profess to know with certainty if my claim about it being a “first” is fact. I mean the claim: This surely has to be a first! Crime fiction about an undercover cop written by a former undercover cop!
I could argue, in line with another former profession of mine (lawyer), that it isn’t a claim at all – merely a hypothesis. Pedants may argue there ought to be a question mark following “has to be first.” Possibly, they are correct.
But in any event, whether claim or hypothesis, it intrigues me. So, a challenge to all readers of this blog post – tell me if I am right or wrong about it being the first fictional work about an undercover cop written by a former undercover cop. At least I ask you to leave a comment letting us know your thoughts.
There is a reward for the best comment left – one free copy of the book featured here and a free copy of my bestselling memoir Undercover: Operation Julie – The Inside Story.
Please note there can only be one winner and the prizes will be provided in any eBook format of the winner’s choice.
The winner will be judged by the author on the basis of the insight provided by the commentator, the originality of the comment, and any tendency to humour gains extra marks J
Stephen Bentley BIO
Former UK Detective Sergeant, undercover cop, barrister (trial counsel). Now a writer, author, and blogs at HuffPost UK.
Author of ‘Undercover: Operation Julie – The Inside Story’ – an Amazon UK bestselling book about his undercover days on one of the world’s largest drug busts.
Lives in the Philippines, enjoys the beaches and a cold beer and follows “his team”, Liverpool Football Club from afar.
From Kiru Taye –
Many of you discovered me through my contemporary stories like the Essien series.
Did you also know that I write other romance sub-genres like paranormal/fantasy stories?
For example, Outcast is a story based on African legends and tales I heard as a kid.
I’ve always been fascinated with leopard men myths. In Europe, they have werewolves. In Africa, we have leopard people.
In Outcast, I put my own spin on the leopard people myth.
Ebube is an Ure Guardian, a demi-god leopard shifter, whose job is to guard the earth realm from spirit being who are not meant to be here.
Ugo is an Osu, an outcast among humans and a living sacrifice to the gods, who also has magical powers.
If you haven’t read Outcast, now is a good time to grab your copy. I’m currently writing book 2 of the series, Sacrifice.
Find Outcast here: http://www.kirutaye.com/outcast
Who is waiting for Sacrifice? 😉
“Never Call Me a Hero: A Legendary American Dive-Bomber Pilot Remembers the Battle of Midway” by N. Jack “Dusty” Kleiss #Spotlight
The Battle of Midway was a decisive naval battle in the Pacific Theater of World War II. Between June 4-7, 1942, only six months after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor and one month after the Battle of the Coral Sea, the United States Navy decisively defeated an attacking fleet of the Imperial Japanese Navy near Midway Atoll, inflicting devastating damage on the Japanese fleet that proved irreparable. The Battle of Midway has been called “the most stunning and decisive blow in the history of naval warfare.”
75 YEARS AGO, ONE DARING AMERICAN PILOT MAY HAVE CHANGED THE COURSE OF HISTORY WHEN HE STRUCK AND SANK TWO JAPANESE CARRIERS AT THE BATTLE OF MIDWAY — “THE DECISIVE CONTEST FOR CONTROL OF THE PACIFIC IN WORLD WAR II” (NEW YORK TIMES). NOW, AT LAST, LEGENDARY DIVE-BOMBER “DUSTY” KLEISS SHARES HIS UNFORGETTABLE EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT OF AMERICA’S GREATEST NAVAL VICTORY.
On the morning of June 4, 1942, high above the tiny Pacific atoll of Midway, Lt. (j.g.) “Dusty” Kleiss burst out of the clouds and piloted his SBD Dauntless into a near-vertical dive aimed at the heart of Japan’s Imperial Navy, which six months earlier had ruthlessly struck Pearl Harbor. The greatest naval battle in history raged around him, its outcome hanging in the balance as the U.S. desperately searched for its first major victory of the Second World War. Then, in a matter of seconds, Dusty Kleiss’s daring 20,000-foot dive helped forever alter the war’s trajectory.
Plummeting through the air at 240 knots amid blistering anti-aircraft fire, the twenty-six-year-old pilot from USS Enterprise’s elite Scouting Squadron Six fixed on an invaluable target—the aircraft carrier Kaga, one of Japan’s most important capital ships. He released three bombs at the last possible instant, then desperately pulled out of his gut-wrenching 9-g dive. As his plane leveled out just above the roiling Pacific Ocean, Dusty’s perfectly placed bombs struck the carrier’s deck, and Kaga erupted into an inferno from which it would never recover.
Arriving safely back at Enterprise, Dusty was met with heartbreaking news: his best friend was missing and presumed dead along with two dozen of their fellow naval aviators. Unbowed, Dusty returned to the air that same afternoon and, remarkably, would fatally strike another enemy carrier, Hiryu. Two days later, his deadeye aim contributed to the destruction of a third Japanese warship, the cruiser Mikuma, thereby making Dusty the only pilot from either side to land hits on three different ships, all of which sank—losses that crippled the once-fearsome Japanese fleet.
By battle’s end, the humble young sailor from Kansas had earned his place in history—and yet he stayed silent for decades, living quietly with his children and his wife, Jean, whom he married less than a month after Midway. Now his extraordinary and long-awaited memoir, Never Call Me a Hero, tells the Navy Cross recipient’s full story for the first time, offering an unprecedentedly intimate look at the “the decisive contest for control of the Pacific in World War II” (New York Times)—and one man’s essential role in helping secure its outcome.
Dusty worked on this book for years with naval historians Timothy and Laura Orr, aiming to publish Never Call Me a Hero for Midway’s seventy-fifth anniversary in June 2017. Sadly, as the book neared completion in 2016, Dusty Kleiss passed away at age 100, the last surviving dive-bomber pilot to have fought at Midway. And yet the publication of Never Call Me a Hero is a cause for celebration: these pages are Dusty’s remarkable legacy, providing a riveting eyewitness account of the Battle of Midway, and an inspiring testimony to the brave men who fought, died, and shaped history during those four extraordinary days in June, seventy-five years ago.
Historical Romance Month continues this week on Nesie’s Place with the work of author Natasha Blackthorne in the spotlight! Natasha’s Fashionably Impure and Intimate Secrets series will be featured.
“A Measured Risk (Regency Risks Book 1)”
Genre: Historical Romance/Victorian/Gothic
Release Date: September 26, 2013
He is her most dangerous temptation and now he is demanding her submission. Dare she take the risk?
Emotionally scarred in the horrific accident that took her husband’s life, Lady Cranfield is imprisoned by her lingering terror of horses and carriages. She longed to be closer to the fascinating Earl of Ruel. She sensed intuitively that he could teach her how to overcome the terrors that held her in bondage.
And now she’s willing to risk almost anything-her reputation, even her virtue-to find out. But what he proposes startles her.
When the shy, studious and socially awkward young widow approached him, Ruel instantly sensed she would be the sweetest, most submissive experience of a lifetime-if only he can gain her total and complete trust. He makes her a non-negotiable offer. His help in return for her submission and obedience.
But Lady Cranfield grew up neglected by her ducal parents, raised by servants and then later ignored by her handsome, charming husband. She’s learnt to protect her heart at all costs and she trusts no one but herself.
How can the jaded Earl of Ruel break through her self-protective defences and show her how to love when he has spent his lifetime avoiding that tender trap?
Erotica Romance ~ Light BDSM ~ Rubenesque / BBW ~ Regency Historical ~ Character Driven Story ~ Drama ~ Shy Heroine ~ Novel Length 86,000 Words
Excerpt from A Measured Risk by Natasha Blackthorne ©Copyright 2013
She backed all the way into the bookcase.
“Why did you run away?” His deep voice settled in her belly, rich and warm, like crème brûlée on a cold winter’s night.
“Because I wanted you to follow.” She tried to sound sophisticated and seductive, but her voice choked off on the last word.
Ruel placed his hand on the shelf above her head and blocked her path to the door. His tall, solidly muscled body leaned over her, surrounding her with the sumptuous, sinful scents of tobacco, Scotch whisky and something masculine and undeniably dangerous. A slow, sensual smile stretched his hard mouth.
He appeared different. Softer. More approachable.
At the change, her insides seemed to flip over.
“Well, sweeting, getting us off alone was a very inspired idea.” He touched one of her fallen ringlets. “I am bored to distraction with endless talk of hunting and fencing.”
As he slowly wrapped the curl around two fingers, he brushed her collarbone. Fiery sparks tingled down her spine, so intense that she shivered and her nipples beaded, pressing against her stays. By some instinct she hadn’t even known she possessed, she arched her back, presenting herself for his assessment.
His eyes shone so vividly blue against his bronzed face that they resembled cornflowers. She swallowed tightly and wished for a long drink of claret. This more personal side of him suddenly seemed far more hazardous than his usually fierce exterior.
Well, no matter. There was nothing to fear. She would allow only as much contact as need be to get to know him a little. Since being torn from her lonely yet secure life in Ireland and thrust into Society at age sixteen, she’d spent her time allowing people only as near as was comfortable. She was an expert at emotional evasion.
It should be easy to regain her control.
But now, as rays of the late-afternoon sun played over his pale hair, turning it the colour of winter wheat, all her carefully rehearsed words flew from her mind.
Say something—anything—else he will think you’re a bird-wit.
An intimate smile, one that invited her to play, tugged at his mouth.
“In a situation like this, alone with a gentleman, it’s perfectly normal for a lady to feel some apprehension.” His hushed voice, barely audible above the piano and boisterous singing from down the corridor, accentuated their isolation. His gaze became so piercing that she had to lower her eyes.
He brushed his fingertips over her cheek. “She will invariably ask herself if he will try to kiss her.”
She jerked her eyes back to his face. God, he couldn’t mean to—not yet, surely… Peculiar, heated chills swept over her. She tried to take a step back, but found her bottom flush against the bookshelf.
He leaned closer; so close that his Scotch-scented breath tickled her face. “And just in case you are wondering, Lady Cranfield—the answer is most assuredly yes.”
She should demand that he put his arm down so she could pass by and leave. She really should. But she couldn’t stop looking at his hard mouth and wondering what it would feel like upon hers. He was so close to her that his breath blew on her lips. If she moved but a fraction, she’d be kissing him.
Dear God. Her breaths began to come very fast and short. Her throat went tight with a suppressed moan.
His eyes burnt as brightly as aquamarines. He looked so fierce. If he kissed her, if he dared… Oh God, it would be so harsh. That cruel-looking mouth could express itself no other way.
Excitement rushed through her, sending tingles to every point of her body, even her toes.
But no, he wouldn’t. Not yet.
He kept leaning closer. He didn’t close his eyes. Instead, he seemed to focus all the harder upon her.
Her heart pounding, unable to move away, she braced herself for his assault.
His lips brushed hers, barely. A gossamer caress.
He lifted his head.
It was done.
And it hadn’t even begun.
He held her chin, appearing so cool, so unaffected. His kiss had seemed to sear her. An urge to put her fingers to her lips arose in her. She resisted it, for it would give away too much of how she was affected.
Never show your feelings.
He traced his thumb along her lower lip, slowly, deliberately, as he studied her with eyes that now glittered with something powerful and predatory. Heat pooled in her pelvis, low and spreading even lower.
She went weak all over, as if she’d lain in a sunny window seat for too long. Her knees almost buckled. She forced them to lock. To be strong.
It should not have affected her so profoundly. It had been just a peck—not a true kiss at all. William had poured out all of his skill upon her and hadn’t garnered even a tenth of the reaction in her that this man’s peck had.
Ruel traced her jaw line with his fingertips. Unthinkingly, she leaned in to his touch.
“Of course, once he has kissed her, then it’s his turn to wonder…” His voice sounded unnaturally loud in her ears. “How will she respond? Will she withdraw, or can he ignite some hidden fire?”
She sensed that he was toying with her. She didn’t understand flirtation—why had she imagined she could carry off this ruse? Was he making advances in order to have a laugh with Francesca and her simpering friends later? Hurt blossomed in her chest. She resented him for that. She ought to feel indignant, superior, uncaring—anything but hurt.
“Please don’t make sport of me.”
She cringed. Was that quavering, pleading voice really hers?
An infinitesimal pause. “Now, why on earth would I do such a thing?” His voice was as smooth as velvet.
“To please your vanity,” she replied, trying to regain her wits.
“Here.” He placed her hand to his chest. The contours of his muscles were hard, powerfully developed. Even more so than she’d expected. His body heat radiated through the satin and, beneath her hand, his heart’s beat was rapid and strong.
“Is that vanity?” He put a finger under her chin, giving her no choice but to face him. “Is it?” He gentled his grip.
The warmth in his voice settled over her like luscious hot chocolate. Melting her insides to quivering burgoo, rendering her speechless, unable to move.
“My dear, lovely Lady Cranfield, I am going kiss you again.”
March 7, 2015
After a carriage accident, Lady Anne Bourchier, Countess of Cranfield, witnesses the death of her husband, and subsequently has a soul wrenching fear of carriages and horses. As this is the only mode of land transportation, she becomes a virtual prisoner on the her former estate, now run by her late husband’s cousin. Anne desperately needs to overcome her fears for several reasons, one being the horse farm inherited from her father…in Ireland. She can’t very well get there, or run it while her fears have firm control over her.
She turns to Jonathan Lloyd, Earl of Ruel, one of the new Earl’s guests for a two week hunt. Impressed by his powerful presence, Anne is convinced he could help her overcome the fear no one else but her hand maiden knows about. After a fainting spell, Anne confesses her problem to Ruel and asks for his help. As one who’s given up on love, Jonathan’s first thought is to walk away and not be bothered with the silly young woman. But his protective nature takes over when he sees the fear deep inside Anne, and knows it’s not just carriages and horses that are her problem. Even though he’s committed to a future marriage of convenience, he decides to help her overcome her fear…in exchange for her total submission to him for thirty days. As the only child of two emotionally distant parents, Anne was literally raised by servants, and has learned to trust only herself, mask her feelings and guard her heart. She should be able to handle the Earl for 30 days.
What ensues is a battle of wills and emotions. Jonathan seeks to take advantage of Anne’s submissive nature and she is more than willing. While the sex scenes are more than a little steamy and well written, this story is about so much more than sex. They each believe they know themselves, but as the month unfolds, personal revelations – and in Anne’s case…epiphanies – are numerous. And, they’re both determined to get what they want from the other without involving their hearts.
Anne and Jonathan are both very likable. There are times when Anne is annoying and irritating, and Jonathan is nothing less than a jerk. But we come to understand their motivations (or lack of), and still want them to work past their differences. Just when we believe things are settled though, MORE truths are revealed!
Several supporting characters pass through, each more deliciously vile than the last. Of note, there is Kean, who served with Jonathan during the war, and Maria, Jonathan’s bride to be. In my world, they both go over a cliff in a tragic carriage accident, and good riddance. However, they do have important parts to play, so we suffer in silence…for now.
This story does continue in book 2, Trust Me, but there is NO cliffhanger. The author selected an excellent ending point that gives the reader a chance to exhale and get ready for the rest of the story.
Plot and character development are spot on, which makes it easy to get deeply invested in these people and their story. This is not a historical romance to be missed.
(I was gifted an ecopy of A Measured Risk from the author during a book chat party in December 2014.)
Natasha is sponsoring a Rafflecopter where THREE lucky winners will score books! Enter today!
~ Rafflecopter ~
About the Author
Escape into the past with intensely erotic, emotionally driven love stories. Natasha Blackthorne writes character-focused historical erotica romance featuring strong internal conflicts played out in non-traditional and unconventional situations. Her stories are most frequently about the intimate journey of the characters as they learn to open their hearts to love.
Her heroines are not perfect ladies. They are wildflowers and wallflowers who enjoy flirting with the forbidden. Whether they are bold or shy, her heroines’ strong desires and deep emotions drive the plot and drive their heroes to the point of no return.
“I haven’t been disappointed with a Natasha Blackthorne historical romance as of yet…the men, yes..they are strong and dominant, but they also support their women in everything. These men are written with strength and purpose… Thank you Natasha for helping me love historical romance once again.” ~ Salacious Reads
“Natasha Blackthorne has become one of my favorite authors, I love her wonderfully sweet, strong, terribly damaged characters.” ~ Kimberly, a reader.