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I have a new baby – can you help?

Can Anybody Help Me?

By Sinead Crowley

A NetGalley Review

Pregnancy, new babies, police and murder. A Dark Angel nurse ‘helping’ – what a potent combination!

This is a fairly straight forward police procedural set in Ireland with a female detective – who is pregnant.

An interesting take here on the phenomenon that is ‘NetMums’ and how people trust the advice given on the Internet – by people they have never met – people that they feel are good friends despite the only contact being virtual and the reality being that they do not know who is at the other end of the computer line.

bk laughing baby postcard - I have a new baby - can you help?

little child baby smiling under their towel

The forums such as ‘NetMums’ are all based on trust. Mums trust the forum and those who post. The more you post the more you are trusted. The more people say you are to be trusted and that your advice is sound, the more you are trusted. A virtuous circle. Just in the same way that we use the reviews on books posted on Amazon. If you post more reviews then your name becomes known and then people start to vote that your review was good, and then Amazon will trust you to review books before they are published. In fact NetGalley itself works on a similar process. If you return enough reviews and publishers think they are good, then you will be offered more books to review and so it goes. The more we are validated, the more we are trusted.

The origin of the word ‘trust’ is ‘trustig’. It is old Norse for a contract. I give you something and in return you give me something. Between us we agree on what is exchanged.

In the virtual world what is exchanged is data – made into information by its particular context. That information is what is used to trust. But what if the data is a lie? What if what is offered is not truthful but biased or intended to harm? What if the validation of the data is done deliberately to cause distress and confusion? – sites such as TripAdvisor try to catch the hotels that post their own reviews – but few sites can do this – does Wahanda (I use this to find beauty treatments) check who validates and reviews their salons I wonder – having just booked a facial…

This book uses the trust principle and the virtual world to show how harm can be done by those who trust and those who provide false data. We should all look at the moral of the story and take care.

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Death and Blood and Money: companions all.

Title: Blood Money
Author: Ali Parker
Publication Date: June 2015
Genre: Romance Thriller

Kate Jarrett has been around the block a few times, her life nothing more than a trail of failures. After her father dies she inherits the family bar, a place where she’s accepted for who she is and loved for who she’s not. Due to the location of her new establishment, a few friends from her past make themselves welcomed and death shows up at her door.

Jon Peterson is a seasoned officer for the NYPD, his record clean and eyes set on being the youngest captain in the history of the force. When his little brother Adam turns up dead at a bar in the seedy side of town, Jon’s focus shifts. Is Kate involved in what happened to Adam or a pawn in a much larger game? Not interested in drama and hell-bent on justice mixed with revenge, Jon finds the one thing he never wanted – love.blood money amazon large - Death and Blood and Money: companions all.

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Pitching the campaign: Juggle and struggle

Belinda Williams, The Pitch (3rd June)

Can you tell your readers something about why you chose this particular topic to write about? What appealed to you about it? Why do you think it is different and your approach is unique?

In The Pitch, my lead character, Madeleine, is faced with juggling her career and a potential relationship with her mentor, Paul. This topic appealed to me because, like Maddy, I’ve worked in marketing and understand the demands and challenges of the industry. My approach is unique in that I like to use humour to explore my themes. Even when dealing with some very serious challenges in Maddy’s life and career, I believe humour is a great tool to work through issues.

How long do you think about a topic before deciding to write about it? Do you have a set of notes or a note book where you write down topics that appeal before making a decision as to which topic this time?

I find I need to let story ideas take form in my mind before I put pen to paper, but it’s hard to put a time frame on it. Often I’ll start writing and all the while I’ll be working through the themes in my mind as I go. Sometimes I won’t really be able to get to the heart of the topic until I’m actually writing it. My process is very fluid. I’m not really a massive note taker, I’m more of a daydreamer. When I come up with a story idea I’ll write it down and file it, and then I wait to see which story is calling me in terms of which one I’m thinking about the most. That’s how I know what I’ve got to write next.

 How long does it take to research a topic before you write? And for this book?

I usually research as I go. If there’s something I come across as I write, then I’ll research it then and there, or make a note that I need to go back and flesh it out later. There wasn’t a huge amount of research required for The Pitch due to it being set in a world I was very familiar with. I had to check the terminology of Maddy’s medical condition and do some research around that, but again, I did this as I went.

What resources do you use? In general and for the last book that you wrote?

Did I mention I love the internet? World’s best research tool for writers! Failing that, I’ll usually seek out people who know more about the topic than I do, and corner them!

How helpful do you find authority figures such as the police when you say you want to write about them? Is there a good way to approach them in your experience?

So far I haven’t had to contact any authority figures in relation to my writing. I’ve just finished writing Scarlett’s story (the third book in the City Love series) and I needed to get a medical perspective on a scene that occurs in her book, so I spoke to a few nurses I know. Generally I find people are pretty open to talking to you as soon as they find out you’re writing a book!

 How many times have you been rejected before your first novel was accepted or before this book was accepted?

For this series, I was rejected a handful of times before it found a home with Momentum. I realise I’m very lucky, but I think there’s also a lot to be said for researching who you’re going to submit to. I’d always felt this series would sit well with a publisher like Momentum and to my delight, they thought so too!

Did you need to self-publish on e-books before a publisher took you up?

I self-published a paranormal romantic suspense called Radiant before writing this series and being traditionally published. It was listed as a top ten finalist in the Romance Writers of Australia Emerald award, which gave me the confidence to put it out there. I didn’t really submit it to many publishers because I was keen to try self-publishing due to my marketing background. I do think it made a difference when pitching my current series to publishers. They could see that not only was I committed and professional about my writing, but I also had a website and blog set up, a social media profile, and Radiant had received good reviews.

Would you recommend self-publishing and building an audience before approaching a publisher? If so, what benefits do you see that it might have for the aspiring novelist?

I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to do things in this industry. Self-publishing can certainly help prove to a publisher that you’re a good investment, but I don’t see it as a requirement. Some writers loathe the concept of self-publishing and I get that, I really do. Self-publishing takes a lot of work and it can be a lonely journey when you’re starting out. There’s a lot to be said for having a publisher behind you, and having a professional who believes in your work enough to put it out there on your behalf. I love the support I receive from my publisher and the relationship I have with them. All I’d say is that if you do choose to self-publish you better make sure the quality is up to scratch. Write the best book you can write, pay an editor and get a professionally produced cover. If you can’t make it look as professional as a traditionally published book, then I wouldn’t do it.

Does writing provide sufficient income to live on? And how long did it take before this happened?

Sadly, no, not yet, but I’m working towards this as a longer-term goal. I don’t think you can expect to achieve this with only one or two books out there (unless you are extremely lucky!)

www.belindawilliamsbooks.com 

@bwilliamsbooks

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Who let’s who go?

I Let You Go

by

Clare Mackintosh

A Netgalley review

This is definitely a thriller/mystery where just who let who go changes every chapter. Until the very end you don’t know the answer.

I found it quite addictive writing and had to know just who was the bad guy. Who was the mother and whose child was let go? Why did the vehicle not stop? And who prevented it from stopping?

And is the photographer the mother or the driver? I changed my mind every other chapter. She was clearly haunted by something hence her running away but then people run away for lots of reasons.

What we come back to of course in the very end is an abusive husband and spousal abuse and the difficulty of keeping wives safe even in safe houses. It is often forgotten that abuse can be mental and emotional not just physical and that classically the removal of the wife from their circle of support is the first step towards total isolation and the need for them to require approval from only one person. Who can then undermine them very easily. Mental and emotional abuse is more common as a method of abuse amongst the middle classes it would seem.

http://www.womensaid.org.uk/ states that an analysis of 10 separate domestic violence prevalence studies found consistent findings: 1 in 4 women experience domestic violence over their lifetimes and between 6-10% of women suffer domestic violence in a given year (Council of Europe, 2002). 1.4 million women suffered abuse last year (http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/feb) yet the numbers going to the police were very low in comparison to these figures. Yet the police force in Northumbria receive 83 calls a day relating to domestic violence. A study showed that women often suffer for more than three years before they get help. SafeLives estimates that at least 100,000 victims of domestic violence are at high risk of murder or serious injury in England and Wales, 94% of them women. “Domestic abuse is not a one-off violent attack. It is deliberate long-term use of coercion to control every part of the partner’s life. Violence, sexual abuse, financial control, constant criticism, isolating from family and friends are all familiar tools,” Vera Baird, former solicitor general and the current police and crime commissioner for Northumberland, said. http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/feb/25/domestic-violence-could-be-stopped-earlier-study.

We can add to that some statistics from the US: Intimate partner violence, sexual violence, and stalking are important and widespread public health problems in the United States. On average, 20 people per minute are victims of physical violence by an intimate partner in the United States. Over the course of a year, that equals more than 10 million women and men. Those numbers only tell part of the story—nearly 2 million women are raped in a year and over 7 million women and men are victims of stalking in a year. http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/nisvs/. Intimate partner violence includes • Psychological aggression which is the use of verbal and nonverbal communication with the intent to harm another person mentally or emotionally and/or exert control over another person, and it is this type of abuse that we finally find out was in use in this book by the husband. This type of abuse can cause emotional harm. Victims may have trauma symptoms. This includes flashbacks, panic attacks, and trouble sleeping. Victims often have low self-esteem. They may have a hard time trusting others and being in relationships and so we see here.

Overall, I found this an excellent book and look forward to reading more by this author.

 

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Dragons and Rare Books: combine to form a heady mix

Book Reviews: 3 star books

Waking the Dragon

By Juliette Cross

NetGalley Review dragon - Dragons and Rare Books: combine to form a heady mix

Racial discrimination rears its ugly head.

Only the races really are very different! One race is really a dragon – and yes they have wings!

Yet the two races can interbreed – even though many find/feel this to be a monstrous occurrence and the children to be abominations. Sounds familiar anyone?

But the dragon males are hot hot hot. Real life alphas with muscles in all the right places and many human females can’t resists the pheromones and the perceived danger.

Then you have the inter-tribal – they call them clans – traditional rivalries in amongst the dragons and the budding newspaper reporter who ‘scents’ a story. And the old tale about how to raise the elder and the role of blood in dark deeds and slave girls who are addicted to their role.

So some murders, some war, some cage fighting, and some romance. A story for many appetities. But not high literature.

 

The Widow’s Son

By Thomas Shawyer

NetGalley Review

The sins of the father will be/should be cast upon their descendants until the nth generation – or until no more shall live.

This is the motto of the characters bent on revenge or vengeance for the killing of their cult’s founders.

So the hero’s job is to stop the latest killings – by whatever means he can.

On the whole this is a traditional cowboys and bad guys story, with a goodly dash of old Testament fervour.bookpile1 - Dragons and Rare Books: combine to form a heady mix

Of course this book is part of the Rare Books series and so the bookseller hero and rare books are involved, as well as some rather special skills that most rare book sellers don’t usually have.

I found this better than the first book in the series that I have also read.

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