Friday, 23 September 2016

Getting To Know...Graham Smith

Today on Getting To Know... I have the absolutely fabulous Graham Smith, author of Snatched From Home

You have written books in a couple of genres but your most recent, Snatched From Home, is a crime fiction. Is there anything in particular that draws you to this genre?

I’ve loved crime fiction since the age of eight and love it for the twists, mysteries, suspense and general drama.

Did you do a lot of research into the police procedure side of your novel?

I do as little as I can get away with. One or two of my writing friends are cops or ex-cops so when I need to do some real research I call them up for a blether.

The main character of Snatched From Home is DI Harry Evans, is there any of you in his character? If so which bits?

I couldn’t possibly comment on any similarities between me and a bald man who drives too fast, drinks too much, swears a lot and generally creates mayhem wherever he goes. If pushed I’d say he has my sense of justice.

Have you always wanted to be an author?

Not really. Authordom came to me later in life although there was a horrific attempt in my teens to write a Hardy Boys type story.

When you'e writing is there anything you do to get into the right frame of mind or to set the right mood?

Not really. Other than having a smoke and a pee before I start there’s no real ritual. If I’m pissed off, I tend not to write as every one of my characters gets killed to death in the most sweary way possible. Then once I’ve calmed down, I have to resurrect the characters and remove all the profanity.

When you're not writing what would we find you doing?

Reading, spending time with my wife and son or working. (my day job is that of hotel manager for a Gretna Green wedding venue)

Do you have a favourite author?

I have too many writer friends to fully answer that question without upsetting someone so I’ll simply say yes.

Do you have any talents other than writing?

I’m so good at football I’ve won trophies for darts.

What is your favourite thing about being an author?

Meeting a reader who loves my work. I such a warm fuzzy feeling when I learn someone else enjoys listening to the voices in my head.

What can we look forward to from you in the future? Will we see more of DI Harry Evans?

Harry will feature in a novella – Matching the Evidence – in September and a full novel in October – I Know Your Secret. After that he’s taking some time off to swear at people and then I’ll be back to work on book three in the series which has a provisional title of When the Waters Recede

Thank you very much to Graham for answering my questions amongst his super busy schedule!

To connect with Graham

Twitter - @GrahamSmith1972

Matching The Evidence is now available!

Carlisle United are playing Millwall and the Major Crimes Team are assigned to crowd control as punishment for their renegade ways. Typically, DI Harry Evans has other ideas and tries to thwart the local firm’s plans to teach Millwall’s notorious Bushwhackers an unforgettable lesson.
Meanwhile an undercover cop is travelling north with some of the Millwall contingent. His mission is to identify the ringleaders and gather evidence against them.
Three illegal immigrants have been transported to Carlisle and are about to meet their new employers.
Nothing is as it seems for Evans and his Major Crimes Team as they battle to avoid a bloodbath while also uncovering a far more heinous crime.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Guest Post - Peter Taylor-Gooby On Why He Writes Dystopian Novels

Today I hand over Life Of A Nerdish Mum to Peter Taylor-Gooby, author of The Baby Auction, while he explains the reasons why he writes dystopian novels. 
I write dystopian novels for three kinds of reasons:
First, that’s what comes to me. My novels start out from scenes that appear in my head, often two characters so vividly present that you can see what they’re feeling, what their relationship is, almost what they are going to say by the way they are standing. I write out the scene, first as a short story, but then the characters do and say things I don’t expect and the novel goes on from there. Of course the process involves a lot of planning and re planning. Sometimes, as in my current novel, the initial scene drops out. I can still see it there in my head, but I couldn’t work out how to make it part of these people’s world – maybe it’s part of a different novel. So the process feels very much like exploring a world that is already there, but it’s also building that world. I guess dystopia was what my mind constructed out of various bits and pieces already present.
Secondly, I’m a social scientist in my day job and have written a number of academic books and articles on society, how it works and how it might work. My current novel imagines a world, Market World, run entirely on market principles. Everyone is equal and there’s no discrimination, but no room for charity and compassion either, nothing but self-interest. Maybe that’s where our society is heading, it sometimes feels like it. My academic work (on privatisation in the NHS) shows that trust is very hard to build and very easy to destroy when people are motivated by self-interest rather than concern for others. This is a real problem in the move from a system that once supported services following the professional judgements by doctors, who were trusted, to an accountancy model of resource allocation.
I thought ‘What if someone trusted someone so much they’d take any risk, make any sacrifice to help that person in Market World?’ That’s what happens and the consequences for the market-based dystopia, and the conflicts and challenges for those who believe in the market play out. Can they change? But maybe markets are the most efficient way of allocating resources? But is that enough for a human life? My novel is really a novel about love versus the market – you can’t publish that in an academic journal, but it’s what I wanted to write.
Thirdly, I’ve always had a lingering doubt about social science – it’s too scientific. It can tell you all sorts of things from why London is the biggest financial centre in Europe to what life is really like for the bottom ten per cent and what would really make a difference to educational opportunities (definitely not grammar schools!) but remember that the economists didn’t predict the 2007-8 Great Recession and the sociologists never foresaw the outcome of the Brexit vote. Both these issues were issues of trust – trust in banks and trust in politicians. Social science is good at facts but not so good at feelings, and feelings, emotions, passions are the most important things in our lives.
I wanted to find a way of thinking about these issues. For me dystopian novels are a way of imagining, a way of doing thought experiments that include feelings: what would it feel like to live in a particular kind of world? How would it change how you think? What would your goals and aspirations be? Who would you envy, what would make you sad, how would you love, what passions would burn within you? If you followed market self-interest could you lie with a straight face to anyone, even your family? What would that be like? How would it all work?
So there are three reasons why I write dystopian novels: first I don’t, scenes come to me and I fill them out and that starts off the story; secondly I’m exploring society and how it works and might work as I do in my day job as a professor of social policy; and thirdly I’m trying to go beyond social science and find a way of filling the biggest gap I see in it – it’s inability to deal with the feelings that drive how we behave and live our lives.

My novel is The Baby Auction (The Conrad Press, Canterbury, Amazon, Google Books and all bookstores) I hope you enjoy reading it.

Thank you very much to Peter for sharing his reasons today, I'm looking forward to reading The Baby Auction very soon and I'm also looking forward to Peter joining me for a Getting To Know... feature in the near future.

To connect with Peter on twitter you can follow him @PeterT_G

To buy a copy of The Baby Auction click HERE

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Blood Bound by Lindsay J. Pryor - Book Release Blitz

Today I am handing over Life Of A Nerdish Mum to Lindsay J. Pryor to give a shout out about her book series and her newest book, Blood Bound, which is out today! 
Welcome to Blackthorn by Lindsay J. Pryor
Set against a dystopian urban backdrop, BLACKTHORN is a dark, complex and multi-layered Gothic paranormal romance series about eight individuals fighting to overthrow the oppressive human-led regime that has blighted their lives.

Primarily based around a polluted, over-populated, rotten core of a locale, Blackthorn is the district where the ‘third species’, such as vampires and lycans, are forced to live. They’re given the dregs in terms of location, provision, opportunities and rights whilst being ruled by the iron fist of the more privileged humankind.
Dark, dangerous, unpredictable, but with hidden depths, the Blackthorn district is a physical representation of many of the anti-heroes that inhabit it. It’s also the idealbackdrop for the intense forbidden romances that become the catalyst for the revolution this oppressive world needs.
BLACKTHORN isn’t a series for the faint-hearted. It’s gritty, sexy and, at times, violent, so sits firmly within the adult PNR genre. But if you like your heroes edgy, your heroines willing to fight back, a complex overarching story and a new twist on an established subgenre, Blackthorn might be the series for you. Best read in order, each book builds on the previous one as the couples elicit change in the world around them.
Thank you so much for hosting me today, Nerdish Mum, and for giving me the opportunity to give my series a shout-out. :-) 

About The Author

Lindsay J. Pryor is the author of seven novels in her Amazon bestselling BLACKTHORN series. Her complex, dark and gritty urban PNR has achieved numerous Gothic and PNR Amazon number ones both in the UK and the US, thousands of 5 star reviews, and more than thirty blog nominations and awards. Blood Shadows – Lindsay’s debut novel – was optioned by US film giants Relativity Media.
Lindsay has been creating stories since she was nine years old, having quickly decided that fantasy was more interesting than reality. More than thirty years later, writing remains her passion.
Lindsay is a qualified Psychology lecturer and English teacher. Before becoming a full-time author, she taught for eighteen years, primarily to improve literacy for children with special needs. She was born and grew up in Wales but now lives in England with her husband, their rescue bunny and a plethora of wild woodland creatures.
To find out more about Lindsay or her books, please visit or visit her Facebook page where she regularly chats to her readers.

What reviewers are saying about Lindsay J. Pryor…
‘I don’t think I have read such a finely executed dark PNR world before…This series truly surprised me. I didn’t think I would love it that much or be intrigued by it. I couldn’t stop thinking about these books once I was done with them… The world-building is spectacular. The characters are enthralling and addicting… Plain fabulousness.’Gaga Over Books
‘I am completely enthralled with this paranormal series. You get so wrapped up in the story and characters that you lose track of time… This is one of my favorite series so far this year!’ Paranormal Book Club
‘This is a paranormal universe like none you have encountered before… There are stories that are so powerful, so intense that I do not believe anyone should warn you about what is to come… I truly do feel that if you love the Paranormal genre and have not yet discovered Lindsay J. Pryor or these novels then you need to read them, experience them firsthand.’ Keeper Bookshelf
I am officially addicted to this series. Why, you ask? Because Lindsay Pryor is my kind of fearless author. She isn’t afraid to “go there”, to create characters and situations that challenge me as a reader.’ The Demon Librarian 
‘Not only are Pryor’s characters and fathomlessly dark love stories fabulous, but her continual world building of Blackthorn blows me away.’
‘If you’re looking for a new PNR series that has a dark world and complicated characters, then you’ll want to grab a copy of this. I can’t wait to read the next 

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Getting To Know...Cassandra Parkin

Today on Getting To Know... I am very excited to have Cassandra Parkin, best selling author and all round really nice person. She was kind enough to take the time to answer my questions. 

Your work, most recently The Beach Hut, is contemporary fiction. Is there anything in particular that draws you to this genre?

I think it's the freedom it gives. Unlike genre fiction, contemporary fiction doesn't have a set form or structure that your readers expect you to follow, so you can tell any story you want, and take it wherever the narrative wants to go. 

This isn't to say that I think genre fiction is somehow lesser or easier - after all, sonnets or villanelles are not easier to write than free verse! I'm constantly blown away by the utter brilliance of genre writers, who work within the tight constraints of Crime or Romance or Historical Fiction to create something fresh and new. But the stories I want to tell don't work within the established genre contemporary fiction it is.

You have written both short story collections and novels, do you have a preference as to which you write?

Commercially speaking, there's no doubt that there's a much bigger market for novels than short stories - so if I was thinking purely about making a living, I'd focus entirely on novels! But I love both forms, and I don't know if I could ever choose one over the other. 

I love the challenge of novel-writing - trying to hold a coherent narrative together and keep the whole thing together in my head, then polish the whole thing with the same degree of attention that I'd bring to a short story. 

For short stories, the challenge is very different - rather than holding everything together, I'm trying to fit everything in. I definitely find that these days I'm drawn to shorter and shorter short-story forms. Anything over 2,000 words feels as if I'm rambling, and some of my favourite shorts that I've written recently have been only 100 words long. 

You wrote the fabulous Lighter Shades Trilogy which deconstructs the Fifty Shade trilogy in turn and you donated half of your royalties to Women's Aid; Will you ever write more series like this deconstructing books?  

The whole Lighter Shades experience was a very strange one, because it all happened so fast I didn't really have time to think about what I was doing! One week I wrote the initial blog post ("Fifty Things That Annoy Me About Fifty Shades Of Grey"), the next week it went viral and two weeks after that I had an e-book deal to deconstruct the whole trilogy. Which, I have to say, was enormous fun and I thoroughly enjoyed doing it.

That said, I don't know if it's a joke that would ever work again. "Fifty Shades" was a success that was literally unprecedented, and when I wrote the "Lighter Shades" trilogy, it was already totally clear that 1) the writing quality of Fifty Shades was hilariously bad and 2) we were all going to buy it anyway. I wasn't breaking the news; I was just going into a lot more detail than other commentators. It was the weirdness and completeness of the book's success that fascinated me. 

I did have moments even at the time where I wondered if it was fair to write a book solely dedicated to the concept of "Ha ha, this book is poorly written". For a book that was already as tremendously, unquestionably successful as "Fifty Shades", there was no danger that anyone was going to be put off buying Erica Leonard's book by reading my book, and I doubt she's even aware of my existence. But it would have to be that big of a phenomenon for it to feel even remotely fair. I've always thought that the "punch upwards" rule is a great one for anyone who's aiming to be funny.

tl,dr; Never say never, but probably not...

Have you always wanted to be an author?

Yes, in the sense that I also wanted to be be the Godfather and run the Mafia; but it took a long time for me to actually believe it was a realistic idea. I've written fiction all my life, but it never occurred to me that any of it was good enough to be published. 

The first work I seriously tried to get published was my short story collection "New World Fairy Tales", which I wrote as a series of Christmas presents for some very dear friends. Then in the New Year they all ganged up on me and told me I had to try and get it published, Or Else. So I entered it for Salt Publishing's Scott Prize, and was truly astounded when it won, and became my first published work.

When you're writing, do you have a set routine that you like to follow or a certain place that you have to sit?

I was going to say "no", because I've never put any conscious thought into building a good routine or a perfect writing nest. Then I stopped to think about it and I realised that actually yes, I do - it's just that I've never stopped to think about it before. 

Given the option, I'll always write in the mornings, and given the choice of where to work, I'll always choose a dining table. Unless I'm expecting visitors or absolutely have to leave the house before noon, I'll usually be wearing pyjamas, because in my head writing is a more fun and important activity than getting dressed.

I'm currently working on the first draft of my next novel, and to hit my deadline I have to hit my target of 2,000 words a day, every day. I've written at home, in other people's houses, in holiday cottages at home and abroad, in cafes and coffee-shops; but the common factors are 1) mornings and 2) table meant for eating off. I haven't yet gone to a cafe in my pyjamas, but I suppose there's still time.

Do you have a favourite character that you have written so far?

I think that would have to be Finn from "The Beach Hut", because he reminds me of my own little brother.

When you're not writing what would we find you doing?

I have two lovely children who are growing up far too fast, so I'm trying to cram in as much time with them as I can while they're still willing to be seen in my company. I also love horseriding (I'm not any good at it or anything, but it's a sport you can enjoy even when you're a bit soft and clueless like me) and I love making patchwork quilts, which (like writing a novel) requires a certain amount of bloody-mindedness to keep going through to the end. 

Do you have a favourite author?

I have a shortlist of desert-island authors whose complete works would keep me going through anything - Jane Austen, Tove Jansson, Charlotte Bronte, Lewis Carroll, Agatha Christie and Laura Ingalls Wilder. 

Both on your blog and in your writing you use humour perfectly. Is this something you've always been natural at or is it something that you've worked on to perfect?

Oh my goodness, that's a lovely thing to say - thank you! The truth is that I don't think of myself as funny at all. Growing up, no-one else seemed to laugh at the stuff I found hilarious. And I certainly don't remember the other kids around me telling me that stuff I said or wrote was funny or entertaining. "Weird"; I definitely remember being called "weird". That got said quite a lot, along with "I bet you think you're so clever" and "stuck-up cow". (Of course, it's possible I was just a really weird unlikeable kid who inexplicably mellowed into an acceptable human being. That could also be it.) 

I just try to write stuff that I'd like to read. When other people like reading it - when I make them laugh or smile or sometimes cry - it makes me happier than I can begin to say.

What can we look forward to from you in the future?

My third novel, "Lily's House", comes out in October 2016. It's about a woman clearing out the house of her estranged grandmother, and all the family skeletons that come tumbling out of the closet. And I'm currently working on a new project that will hopefully be ready for the winter of 2017, that will be set in my home town of Hull during its year as the UK's City of Culture.

Thank you so much to Cassandra for answering my questions, it's been a privilege and a pleasure to have her on my blog. 

To connect with Cassandra

Cassandra's website - Cassandra Parkin 
Cassandra's Twitter - @cassandrajaneuk

The Beach Hut 

A novel about love, loss, memory, and family relationships

It is autumn time and on a peaceful Cornish beach, Finn and his sister Ava defy planning regulations and achieve a childhood dream when they build themselves an illegal beach hut. This tiny haven will be their home until Ava departs at midwinter for a round-the-world adventure. In the town, local publican Donald is determined to get rid of them. Still mourning the death of his wife, all he wants is a quiet place where he can forget the past and raise his daughter Alicia in safety. But Alicia is wrestling with demons of her own. As the sunshine fades and winter approaches, the beach hut stirs old memories for everyone. Their lives become entwined in surprising ways and the secrets of past and present are finally exposed.

Lily's House

When Jen goes to her grandmother's house for the last time, she's determined not to dwell on the past. As a child, Jen adored Lily and suspected she might be a witch; but the spell was broken long ago, and now her death means there won't be any reconciliation.

Lily's gone, but the enchantments she wove and the secrets she kept still remain. In Lily's house, Jen and her daughter Marianne reluctantly confront the secrets of the past and present - and discover how dangerous we become when we're trying to protect the ones we love.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Ideas For Monster Joke Month

Monster Joke Month is nearly upon us and I thought I'd share some ideas on ways you can find a reason to send a post card or a letter if you aren't already a fan and user of snail mail! If you're new to the idea, check out this years announcement post HERE.

1. Sign up to IGGPPC - International Geek Girl Pen Pals Club is a place where geeks and snail mail collide! The community is super awesome and sign ups for pen pals this month are already open and will be till the end of the month. Also guys don't let the name fool you, there are plenty of male Iggles out there too!

2. Sign up to Postcrossing - You send a postcard and receive a postcard back from a random person in the world. This is super fun and I've used it a lot before and have received postcards from Russia, America and even China.

3. Tell a friend/family member you miss them - We all have that one friend or family member that we love but we just don't get to see as often as we'd like. Send them a card or a quick note, or heck even an 18 page (front and back) masterpiece just to say that you're thinking about them.

4. Send a letter through Post Pals - Regardless of Monster Joke Month, this charity is one that you should definitely look into as you can brighten the lives of sick children. Taking a few minutes to write a card could really make a difference.

If you have any other ideas, please share with me! Lets get as many people as we can involved and excited about Monster Joke Month.

These are just a few ideas and there are other options for each idea, there are lots of places online where you can find the right pen pal or right mail exchange etc for you. These ideas are ones I've had personal experience with and so can say they are good to use!

How many people are planning to join in with Monster Joke Month between the 1st and 31st of October, lets see a show of hands/claws/paws/tentacles?

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Pumpkintown Perils - Aubrey Law

Firstly I'd like to thank Aubrey Law who provided me with an e-book copy of their book Pumpkintown Perils: Volume 1 in exchange for an honest review.

Pumpkintown Perils is a collection of four short cozy mystery stories. I have discovered cozy mysteries in the past twelve months and I absolutely love them. I love the mixture of a mystery and the lighthearted (usually) way that the main character ends up solving them. 

Wanda is our main character and she is a witch who owns her own witchcraft shop and is on her way to being a very efficient investigator of mysteries, working side by side with Sam Shamrock, a police inspector who is not a witch but a leprechaun. Wanda often works out plots before Sam and puts herself in danger by trying to get things done herself even though she knows the she should really follow the rules, if they weren't so boring. 

Wanda is extremely sassy, confident and very vain. She knows how to get what she wants and will do pretty much anything to get it. She has a soft spot for hot guys and can let that get in the way at points. I'm really not sure how I feel about Wanda as she just has so much personality it can over power the story a little bit at times, but she is a strong woman and she wants to be successful in both her businesses. 

There are a cocktail mix of other characters, her family (including her passed on mother who "visits"), gnomes, humans and a leprechaun (Sam Shamrock). All the characters work very well together and when they're having a coffee or a drink (or ten), you can't help thinking how much fun it'd be to join in with the group. 

The four mysteries themselves are all interesting in their own way and are well thought out and some are even intertwined. I was going to try and say which mystery I liked the most, but as I came to write this I can't decide! Maybe the last one, only because it was the last one I read and so clearest in my mind! 

Pumpkintown Perils is a lot of fun and a very quick read, so if you're a fan of cozy mysteries definitely pick it up. 

I gave this book 4 stars
I started this book on the 7th of September 2016 and finished it on the 12th of September 2016.

Pumpkintown Perils: Volume 1 - synopsis

Deep in the Jagged Wood enchanted forest, wild witch Wanda Tempest owns a magic supply shop, practices witchcraft, drinks too much, dances and frequently falls prey to a weakness for attractive men. She also happens to be a promising, if only part-time, Private Investigator. She’s talented, beautiful and has earned the respect and admiration of the equally talented, though far less striking, Police Inspector Sam Shamrock, an overweight leprechaun. He’s crazy about her… she’s crazy about her cat food refusing whiskered companion, Jinxy.

Join this formidable, if mismatched, crime-solving duo, as they tackle mysteries ranging from the scandalous to the outright strange. Talking trees, evil gnomes, murderous wood trolls and homicidal humans will keep Wanda and Sam fighting for justice, and their very lives.

Troublesome twin sisters, a crazy great-aunt, a kiss that shouldn’t have happened and a spoiled Siberian cat with a smart mouth all guarantee that Wanda’s life remains full of surprises. As long as Sam doesn't drink too many Irish Coffees everything usually works out.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Everyday Monsters - Ellie Robbins

I was very lucky to receive an e-book copy of Everyday Monsters direct from the author Ellie Robbins.

Everyday Monsters follows Taylor, a homeless girl who earns money by participating in a fight club, when one night everything changes.

This book had me hooked right from the beginning, Taylor is such an interesting character and the story really got going right from page one. I loved the opening which consisted of a flash back to when Taylor was a little girl and she first started seeing things that couldn't be real...or could they? It was very intense.

Taylor meets Evan on a night where everything seems to be going wrong and people actually seem to want to kill her. He offers to take her away from living on the streets and all the bad stuff happening to go and live at a special school which takes on and looks after teenagers with talents.

The first part of the story reminded me a bit of X-Men and Xavier's School For Gifted Youngsters, in the fact there is a school for children with talents (or powers) and other parallels but wrapped up in an awesome YA package.

The writing is well done and the characters are all well fleshed out. I really liked Yumiko and Gabriel, but Evan I couldn't make my mind up on. One of my favourite characters is 100% Chester, but I don't want to say anything too much about him as he's a very nice surprise.

Everyday Monsters is a very well put together origin story with just enough action to show off the start of Taylor's powers and as a good set up for a good series of book following this first one. I for one will definitely be waiting eagerly for the next book to see what happens next and to see how Taylor's powers fully come to light, especially regarding one aspect of them which I won't spoil.

I gave this book 5 stars and would definitely recommend this to anyone who enjoys YA.

Everyday Monsters is currently available to vote for on Kindle Scout, so if you like the sound of it from this review, or enjoy the sample on the Kindle Scout page, give it a nomination! There's currently (at time of publishing this post) 5 days left to vote. The link to check it out is HERE.

Everyday Monsters synopsis

Living shadows are only the beginning.
15 year old Taylor Brock is homeless, and she likes it that way. So when Evan, a boy who controls fire, tells her that she has super powers too, she's skeptical. Evan takes her to The Flagship, a haunted hotel turned boarding school with classes covering everything from math, magic and self-defense (super-powered, of course). When Taylor's friend goes missing and the school's administration turns a blind eye, she has to decide - will she help find her friend or go back to the streets?