Guest post: Dialectic on the Survival of a Battery Doll by Maxine Thompson

 

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Maxine Thompson

When we talk of lusts, I always got the impression that it is mostly related to sexual lust. Personally I have lusted in many ways. Marginal levels of maturity has shown me that.
In this instance, I think I can acknowledge the three main lusts that turned me from a life of humility and true contentment, to a life of desperation and mental enslavement.

The first of these, I had initially held in the best regard, which, to be fair, is a likely condition and symptom of lust.
I had lived with him for close to a decade. I had lived with him for years, until I had to accept that he was an incubus and an abuser. He was someone that absorbed my strength, my heart, and eventually my will to live. I was left depleted, abandoned, and absent-minded. This did not happen at the end of the time we spent together, but was happening clandestinely throughout. I only opened my eyes to the truth after the fact. I guess it just seems to happen that way – something to do with denial, or worse, ego.

I internalised and fantasized my life – living through yahoo chat rooms, my avatar on second life, and a holiday romance that left me with a son, whilst still legally bound to this deception of a reality.

The incubus forced me to live an arid existence, whilst he kept two households in the same vicinity – this double-life totally unknown to me. His attitude and behaviour whilst we were together, was one of heavy condemnation. He judged me, and verbally tore me down, brutishly, and arrogantly, with a mouth like a viper. It became a competition, to prove myself just as it has always been. I was “nasty” and “lazy” with home maintenance. I did not teach the boys to clean up after themselves, and I was an overweight “pig”, with “no sense”. No other man would accept the scars on my stomach from the multiple caesareans and laparotomies that I had had to save my life, and even my “mother does not love me”. My friends were “whores and roaches”, and there were doubts about whether I had ever really been sexually assaulted, despite police and crown prosecution involvement.

No one wanted to suffer his company, and my company diminished. I did meet him whilst very vulnerable – twenty-one and extravagantly low in self-esteem…

Let me talk a little about my second lust – the idea of beauty.

Beauty has had a serious influence on me. It seems to have a serious persuasion on people in general, but obviously in different proportions, and ways. For me though, it is something of a novelty. It is a novelty first of all because of my mother, and then further on in my college years in my need to be attractive, to the degree that I ended up putting so much weight on it throughout my formative years, and adulthood altogether. I struggled to see past it, and once I thought I had set my eyes on what appeared to be good, I was hooked on it being good, until the truth was later revealed…

My third lust, the one I saw as the pride of life, and the one to make me appear wise, was my lust for achievement. It was my lust to be a success in this world. I wanted to do something good in life, and in society, and the idea of rising to a respectable office in the Home Office (an established and highly regarded organisation) also appealed to my ego. I did not really see it like that in my youth: I just wanted a job, and it was in government administration, and I thought, “that is good, maybe I will make something of myself”. I did not know what it was really like, until my love of ego nearly killed who I was.

I dream tigers that stalk me. These treacherous and calculating creatures, that hunt the weak. With piercing eyes, and intent foreheads. Their colour so striking and vivid in quite lucid dreams. I was thankful that at one point I walked into a room full of dead ones.

I was wearing only pyjamas and large green wellington boots. As though I was the hunter. I had not attacked them though, so I am in no way sure how these creatures died.

Sometimes I see big rats passing near me and I get a sense of envy. Sometimes I dream large snakes, and being choked by them as they press heavily in, and circle tightly around my throat. I dream that I am in a room filled with people who have lost their minds and can’t communicate.

I suffer severe nightmares in which I am being chased by various men, up and down escalators, running on rollercoasters, up and down hills and valleys, and in and through cubes. I dream myself bound to a chair, with my arms tied up behind my back. Sitting there in complete terror, in a dark cave…

I had always felt a deep rejection which I really could not articulate. I could not articulate it, but I knew from the beginning, I was alone. I felt myself leave, mentally and emotionally. I turned cold, and withdrew into myself, deciding that one day I would find love and feel special. This ‘feeling’ and ‘sense’ of rejection, abandonment and loneliness, really lead to my primary infirmity, because it made me feel inadequate and made me desperate for acceptance but in an exclusive, ‘everyone must work for my love and attention’ kind of way. As though, if you do not think I am good enough, then neither are you, and you must prove yourself.

I became a living doll. Life-like, and alive, but cold inside. A doll bearing invisible weights that had settled around my innocent and naive heart, forming firmament between me and people.

This memory left me wondering whether this was the beginning of my disassociation. A disassociation that I never quite understand because the whole concept is quite challenging to get my head around. When I was told by my therapist that I think my emotions, I don’t feel them, I was left confused. I had to go away and really think about what that meant. How long had I separated myself from my feelings? How long had I fallen into the habit of questioning them, and sense-checking them to make myself deal with pressure and move on? I was doing this as long as I could remember. It didn’t serve me well to pander to them and sit and cry from injury. Injury was happening to me all the time so who cares. What did it matter? I needed to get up and carry on. So I did, time and time again.

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Dialectic on the Survival of a Battery Doll – Maxine Thompson

Exposing the effects of Anxiety and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from the experience of a woman
This book was written to assist in individual person psychoanalysis. From the author’s experience as a woman, a domestic abuse victim, a UK civil servant (in the modern workforce where commitments are torn between work and family life), and as a result of being diagnosed with PTSD, Anxiety and
Depression. It is key now, because it is an important contribution to the public discussion on mental health and work, as it provides a point of view that echoes the experience, and voice of many living in the UK at a time of uncertainty: not only as a woman, but as a domestic abuse victim, and as a former employee for the Home Office. This book was written following employment tribunal, at a time of distinct trial, and in trying to face the uncertainty of income, and the possible loss of profession. It called for a change of thinking habits, and a change in perception in order to survive.

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BLOG TOUR STRAIGHT FROM THE HEART By BREIGH FORSTNER (Guest Post)

 

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Author Biography:

Breigh Forstner currently resides in Southeast Michigan with her two daughter. While she works full-time during the week, at night she spends time with her girls dancing and coming up with her next book idea. Her goal is to make it onto a best sellers list at some point in her career, and writes any chance she can get. She is a music lover and is a sucker for going to concerts, rock bands, and tattooed bad boys.

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Book Synopsis:

Cale Pelton didn’t want to fall in love.

 

Fresh off a breakup, he was scrambling to find a new lead guitarist for his band, Everlasting, before they went on tour. He wanted to enjoy being single, singing his heart out nightly to fans.

 

Never did he expect to meet Bryn Schaefler, the sassy rich girl that would change his life.

 

Bryn left her parents’ house with only her suitcase and guitar, leaving her old life behind her. She nails the band audition and becomes Everlasting’s new lead guitarist. Bryn didn’t want to find Cale attractive, let alone develop a crush on a bandmate. But when trouble starts to find the band, Bryn starts to believe her family will do whatever it takes to get her home.

 

Will Cale and Bryn listen to their heads and stay strictly professional? Or will they follow their hearts and admit their feelings towards eachother?

rock passionate girl with black wings

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Guest Post:

My Journey As a Writer:

 

Like any journey in life, there’s going to be bumps and turns you don’t expect to face. That sums up my journey as a writer. I started writing when I was a kid, and wrote short horror stories. When I graduated High School, it wasn’t that I wanted to write books, but my love for music bloomed and I wanted to be a music journalist. That dream was put on hold after I changed my major in college and I had stopped writing after I changed majors.

I wrote here and there, never considering publishing what I wrote. It was mainly real life situations that I’ve been through, but just writing them out helped me, kind of like therapy. I started writing fully again back in 2012 after my 2nd daughter was born. I had wrote a 100,000 book and published it on Amazon. I had no idea about formatting, editing at the time, and not knowing ANYONE in the business, I did everything myself. Needless to say, the book was a hot mess! The storyline was actually good, and something I would go back to someday, but when I released “Straight from the Heart” in July 2014, I wanted to establish myself as a credible author, and so I took down the first book from Amazon (You can still see it on Goodreads..haha).

I’ve had lots of bumps in the recent years. There’s been days where I don’t write, there’s been weeks! But when the story isn’t coming to me, I won’t write it. The process in writing my first 3 books in the Straight from the Heart series went smoother then I had planned. The authors in this community, indie and published, have been very nice to me and I’ve made friends with quite a few.

Now, I know I’m not a bestseller. A lot of readers out there still don’t know who I am. But when I go to events and people say “Oh, I recognize your cover I have it on my Kindle!” It makes me feel amazing to know that there’s people that do read my books!

And that’s what fuels me to keep going.


Author Social Media Links:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/breighforstnerauthor

Twitter: @BreighForstner

Instagram: https://instagram.com/breighforstner/

Blog Page: http://breighforstnerauthor.weebly.com

 

I, Mary Blog Tour (Guest Post)

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I, Mary

About the Book:

Title: I, Mary
Author: Mike Hartner
Publisher: Eternity 4 Popsickle Publishing
Pages: 266
Genre: Historical Romance

Mary Crofter’s first trip on the water was just after her first birthday, when her parents came from her birthplace in Kilwa to Portsmouth. She’s been on several trips from Portsmouth to London and other places since. She loves the water and the water seems to love her. Can she survive on the water? Will people ever take seriously a GIRL as a sailor? Will she ever come off the water? If she does, will the lure of the ocean draw her back?

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Book Excerpt:

I looked upon the gray waters that surrounded me.  To the west it was dark and cloudy, the wind blustering.  But as I braced myself against the gale hitting full force against my peacoat, I smiled.

It was fitting that I was here, and nothing could ever convince me otherwise.  I’d been birthed on land but it wasn’t long afterward that I was on the water—and acquiring my sea legs.  From the time I could walk, I learned to balance myself on the uneven deck. And later to climb the gnarly spars and ultimately the sayles.  My parents taught me my numbers and to read and write as well.  Numbers, well, was my best subject, and I was good at that.  But my time at sea was what I loved the most.  In truth, the only fun I remember in my childhood was when they took me on our merchant ship from our home in Portsmouth to London or to Bristol.  It wasn’t the location that I liked or the end of the journey; no, for me it was the sayling, standing on the deck, listening to the wind, watching the ocean and the clouds and . . . late at night . . . the stars.  I wanted to be on the sea forever, and I knew this from my very first time aboard ship.

I remember very well every one of those trips, because during each voyage I would close my eyes and concentrate, and it was as if I were talking to the water.  And through a combination of waves and the ship’s motion, it felt as if the sea was in turn communicating with me.

I recall all of the journeys with my father and his good friend, Captain Jose.  The saylors on those ships were always good to me, and I came to respect all of them.  They taught me sayling while they went about their own jobs.  Even as a little kid I was taught how to tie knots.  And when I was eleven they instructed me on how to throw knives and swing a cutlass.  Soon afterward I was taught how to prime, load, and shoot a musket.  But I turned up my nose at the musket, even the smaller flintlock pistols.  To me, there was no honor in this sort of fight.  No great talent was needed to shoot somebody.  Any idiot could pull a trigger.  In my mind, it required real skill to defeat a man, or woman for that matter, with a cutlass.   And, yes, I will take up swords against a woman.  Because, you see, I am one also.

Captain Jose had been a friend of the family since before I was born.  He’d sayled with my father, James, and my mother, Rosalind.  I heard the stories of the trip from Kilwa, where I was born, and then to Portsmouth, where we now live.  I don’t know how they originally met because I haven’t been told that yet, but Captain Jose is so close to the family that I’ve always called him Uncle Jose or Uncle for short.

Currently, I am not quite twelve years old, thin as a rail, a little over eleven hands high, and maybe weighing four stone soaking wet.  My hair is long enough to wear tied behind so it looks like the tail on a pony, but many men wear their hair the same way, so no one would know I was a girl just by looking at me.

I was in the office of Crofter Shipping Yards one day when Uncle Jose called me to him said, “Come over here and sit down.”  He was always so nice to me that I never hesitated at any request of his, so I took a seat next to him.  He gave me a funny look, kind of sly but not really since he smiled right away.  “I’ve already talked to your parents, and both James and Rosalind agree with me.”

I looked at him and fidgeted, not having a clue what he was going to say next.

“You’ve sayled with your father and me all your life.  We brought you to Portsmouth on a carrack many years ago.  You’ve been on the caravel we sayled to Le Havre and on a special boat too, a cog—the one with just one sayle—when we sayled to London.”

I nodded at him, but I was confused.  Had I done something wrong?

“Mary, there is a caravel that will be leaving these shipping yards in a little over a week.  It’s headed to the north of Scotland.  Seldom do pirates sayle these waters, so other than weather it will be relatively safe and . . .” My eyes widened.  Was I getting the right message?  Was he really doing this?  Was he really going to make my dream come true?  “If you should be interested, I can schedule you to take your sayling tests in the next few days so you can be on that caravel and start out as part of the crew on this trip.  This way, you can see if sayling is really what you want to do.”

I threw myself at Uncle Jose. “Yes, yes.  Please, yes.”

He laughed.  “Then let’s go get you some sayling clothes and set you up to crew on your very first ship.  Then I’ll introduce you to the captain.”  I jumped up from my chair but Uncle Jose pointed to me so I’d  retake my seat.  His face turned solemn, almost to a frown.  “There’s something we need to discuss, and this won’t be easy to talk about.  I brought this up this with your parents, and they told me to go ahead and tell you.”

Uncle Jose’s change of attitude was so great that I was startled.  “I don’t understand.”

“I’ve already spoken to the captain, since I assumed you’d say yes.  And he assured me that his main crew will respect you as a girl and also as a Crofter.  But there are always new men brought on board.  And even though the regular crew is honorable as far as this captain knows, they are still men of the sea.  Mary, do you understand what I’m saying to you?”

“Your crew was always wonderful to me.”  As soon as I said this I started to think back to all the times the men had helped me.

“You were a young girl who was the daughter of the owner of the ship, and I was the captain who knew each man well.  If anyone had stepped out of line, he would have been run through or thrown overboard.  This will be different, and you must understand that you are older now, almost a woman if you aren’t already.  I don’t know how else to put it, but to say you will have to be on your guard at all times.  The captain will have a couple of his most trusted men watching over you, but even a caravel is a big enough boat that . . . well, no person can be looked after day and night.”

I hadn’t given what Uncle Jose was talking about a single thought, but I wasn’t scared.  “I’m not saying I can take down a saylor, but I know how to defend myself, and Mother has taught me how to hurt a man where it hurts the most.”

Uncle Jose let out a muffled laugh that might’ve been a groan.  “Always know who’s around you, and be aware that you’re going to constantly have to prove yourself.”

“Because I’m a girl?” I snapped, mad that I’d done so at Uncle Jose.

“Yes,” he came back just as fast, but then he smiled and showed his big teeth.  “Just be aware that nothing I have said was with the intent of trying to talk you off the boat.  I just don’t want you—”

“Uncle Jose, I’ve heard the men talk on the boats since I was first able to walk the decks.  Sometimes I’d hear things that I know I wasn’t supposed to, and as I got older many saylors didn’t even think I was not one of them, so I’m not unaware that men are going to be men at times.  I can handle myself, I promise.”

“Let us hope you don’t have to.”  He stared hard at me.  “At least with the crew.”

Mike Hartner

About the Author:

 

Mike Hartner was born in Miami in 1965. He’s traveled much of the continental United States. He has several years post secondary education, and experience teaching and tutoring young adults. Hartner has owned and run a computer firm for more than twenty-five years. He now lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, with his wife and child. They share the neighborhood and their son with his maternal grandparents.

 

His latest book is the historical romance, I, Mary.

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Thank you for hosting!

Media Contact:

Dorothy Thompson

Pump Up Your Book

P.O. Box 643

Chincoteague Island, Virginia 23336

Email: thewriterslife@gmail.com

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Animals Have Feelings Too Blog Tour! (Guest Post)

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Karen Lee Stevens

 

About the Author:

Karen Lee Stevens is the founder and president of All for Animals, a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a compassionate world for animals and children through humane education and literacy programs that nurture the human-animal bond.

Karen is also an author and a Certified Humane Educator who, for the past 14 years, has given presentations to thousands of elementary school children and has helped them learn how to treat animals with love and respect.

In February, 2013, Karen launched ARF! (Animals + Reading = Fun!), a unique literacy program that gives children from all walks of life an opportunity to improve their reading skills and inspire them to become life-long readers by reading aloud to specially trained therapy dogs.

Her latest children’s picture book is Animals Have Feelings, Too!: Exploring Emotions From A to Z.

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Animals Have Feelings Too

About the Book:

Title: Animals Have Feelings, Too!: Exploring Emotions From A to Z
Author: Karen Lee Stevens
Publisher: All for Animals
Pages: 32
Genre: Children’s Picture Book

Filled with humor and whimsical illustrations, this enchanting and educational A to Z guide takes young readers on a journey through the alphabet with a lovable Labrador retriever named Sandy, who shows kids that animals and people share many of the same feelings. From A is for Affectionate to Z is for Zonked, Animals Have Feelings, Too! helps children to understand and express their feelings and to treat animals with kindness and respect.

For More Information

  • Animals Have Feelings, Too!: Exploring Emotions From A to Z is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Book Excerpt:

Hi Kids,

My name is Sandy and I’m a yellow Labrador retriever. Most of the time, I’m a happy-go-lucky pup, but once in awhile, I feel lonely or grumpy, too. Just like you, I experience lots of different emotions (that’s a BIG word for feelings).

When I’m happy, I wag my tail and let out a soft ruff-ruff-ruff as if to say Let’s play! When I’m annoyed or frightened, I may grumble and growl, meaning Back off, buddy! Stay away!

My feline friend, Willow, likes to remind me that I’m not perfect, but I love her anyhow. And that’s why I’ve asked her to help me introduce you to my very favorite feeling words. I hope you’ll share them with your human family and, of course, your furry and feathered friends!

Love,

Sandy

                                                                                                         

Thank you for hosting!

Media Contact:

Dorothy Thompson

Pump Up Your Book

P.O. Box 643

Chincoteague Island, Virginia 23336

Email: thewriterslife@gmail.com

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Guest Post

I Have the Best Job in the World – I Draw Pictures All Day!

By Teri Rider

Byline:  Teri Rider is a Book Designer, Illustrator and Publisher. Learn more about Teri’s work at teririder.com.

As a children’s picture book illustrator, I often get images in my mind as soon as the author tells me the story the first time. If it captures my imagination and hooks me, my job is to then find a way to capture the imaginations of others and cause them to fall in love with the characters, too.

When Karen and I first met, we sat down for a long lunch and walked through the whole story. Because Karen was so passionate and had already done so much work on her story, by the end of that first meeting, we had almost all of the ideas for each drawing. On my four-hour train ride home from our meeting, I was so excited that I sketched the entire cover illustration. We ended up keeping many of those original ideas.

I love illustrating animals—especially dogs. Coming up with an illustration for the star of the story, Sandy—originally named Mr. Fluffy Pants—was probably the most challenging part. I did several sketches, mostly to determine just how fluffy he would be! Turns out, he wasn’t really all that fluffy and “he” became “she” and her name became Sandy, named after the “real” lovable Labrador retriever who is Karen’s sidekick in her read-to-a-dog and humane education programs. The name was perfect and right in front of us the whole time!

One other important step in the process of illustrating a children’s book is to do thumbnail sketches of the entire book. This way, we can see how the story flows from page to page and how the drawings look side by side when the book is open. These very simple sketches are then turned into full size line drawings.

For this book, I decided to do a combination of hand-drawn artwork, which I then scanned into Adobe Photoshop and colorized digitally.

Karen and I both really love Animals Have Feelings, Too! and we hope to create another book together next year. Be sure to follow our blog for updates on our next project!

BLOG TOUR! Secrets Of The Royal Wedding Chapel (Guest post)

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About the book:
Immersed in the world of weddings and romance, Lily Lavender grew up believing in brides, grooms and happily-ever-afters. A direct descendent of the British royals, it seemed her destiny and royal birthright to someday assume a position as wedding coordinator in their family-owned wedding chapel business. But when her mother Mimi’s third marriage eventually fails, Lily’s dreams of her own happily-ever-after quickly fade. She’s no longer interested in a life of assisting brides walk down the aisle into a life of disillusionment and possible divorce. Lily turns her back on The Royal Wedding Chapel and leaves Las Vegas to fashion a life of her own.

Years later, Lily—now a single mom—discovers her teenage daughter has run off to Las Vegas, lured by Mimi to help run the chapel. Determined to save her daughter from the broken dreams of Sin City and the nonsensical world of which family fairy tales are made, Lily returns to Las Vegas. But nothing prepares Lily for the royal drama which awaits her… or the sins and secrets she stumbles across that threaten to close the chapel and ruin her family forever.

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THE AUTHOR

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KATHLEEN IRENE PATERKA is an Amazon bestselling author of numerous women’s fiction novels. Her popular James Bay series includes Fatty Patty, Home Fires, Lotto Lucy, and For I Have Sinned, while her recent women’s fiction novel The Other Wife is set in Chicago. Secrets of the Royal Wedding Chapel, a Las Vegas tale of romance and royalty, will be released by Booktrope Publishing in October 2015. Kathleen lives in Northern Michigan with her husband Steve, where she is busy working on her next James Bay novel.

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Website:          http://kathleenirenepaterka.com/

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

Twitter:           https://twitter.com/KPaterka

Goodreads:     https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5826393.Kathleen_Irene_Paterka

Pinterest:         https://www.pinterest.com/kathleenpaterka/

Blog:               http://kathleenirenepaterka.com/blog/

Contact:          http://kathleenirenepaterka.com/contact/

Newsletter:      http://goo.gl/ueDK1S

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Here is my review. And thanks to Lifestyle & Literature for the chance to read this book! : )

[Blog Tour] Wilde at Heart (Guest Post)

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Wilde at Heart

Title: Wilde at Heart
Author: Tonya Burrows
Publisher: Entangled Ignite
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Format: Kindle

Order at:

Amazon, B&N, Kobo, Google Play

About the book:

He has everything under control. Except her.

Reece Wilde put everything in his life on the backburner to protect his brothers and their struggling company, Wilde Security. With a major contract on the line, Reece can’t afford any mistakes…like getting caught in a red-hot, X-rated moment with wild child Shelby Bremer, who’s more trouble than he can handle. Now he’s being blackmailed.

Shelby’s mile-long impulsive streak gets her in more trouble than she’d like to admit. Between her sister’s wedding, her coffee shop set on fire, and getting down and dirty with the groom’s brother, things are definitely coming off the rails. With both their careers and their safety on the line, Reece is determined to keep them both safe…even if it means a Vegas-style shotgun wedding.

But gambling on a wild card—and a wild soul—is risky…and sometimes, it can get a guy killed.

Goodreads

About the author:

Tonya Burrows

Tonya Burrows wrote her first romance in 8th grade and hasn’t put down her pen since. Originally from a small town in Western New York, she’s currently soaking up the sun as a Florida girl. She suffers from a bad case of wanderlust and usually ends up moving someplace new every few years. Luckily, her two dogs and ginormous cat are excellent travel buddies.

When she’s not writing about hunky military heroes, Tonya can be found at a bookstore or the dog park. She also enjoys painting, watching movies, and her daily barre workouts. A geek at heart, she pledges her TV fandom to Supernatural and Dr. Who.

For more information:

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[Blog Tour] The Murder Road (Guest Post)

The Murder Road

Title: The Murder Road
Author: Stephen Booth
Publisher: Witness Impulse
Genre: Mystery/Suspense
Format: Hardcover,Paperback, Ecopy

Order at: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, The Book Depository

About the book:

For fans of Broadchurch, Louise Penny, and Peter Robinson comes a spellbinding new novel from internationally bestselling author Stephen Booth

Welcome to the picturesque English village of Shawhead, where there’s one road in and one road out. And on that road this morning is an abandoned vehicle…with an ominous bloodstain inside.

It’s a mystery. It could be a murder. Where—and who—is the driver? Whose blood has been discovered? Why are the people of Shawhead so hostile toward Detective Ben Cooper, sent in to take charge of the investigation?

As Cooper peels back layers of lies and exposes dark secrets to the light, he draws ever closer to a killer hiding in plain sight. Packed with atmosphere, suspense, and surprises, The Murder Road is Stephen Booth’s most unforgettable novel yet.

Goodreads

About the author:

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A newspaper and magazine journalist for over 25 years, Stephen Booth was born in the English Pennine mill town of Burnley. He was brought up on the Lancashire coast at Blackpool, where he attended Arnold School. He began his career in journalism by editing his school magazine, and wrote his first novel at the age of 12.

After graduating from City of Birmingham Polytechnic (now Birmingham City University), Stephen moved to Manchester to train as a teacher, but escaped from the profession after a terrifying spell as a trainee teacher in a big city comprehensive school.

Starting work on his first newspaper in Wilmslow, Cheshire, in 1974, Stephen was a specialist rugby union reporter, as well as working night shifts as a sub-editor on the Daily Express and The Guardian. This was followed by periods with local newspapers in Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. He was at various times Production Editor of the Farming Guardian magazine, Regional Secretary of the British Guild of Editors, and one of the UK’s first qualified assessors for the NVQ in Production Journalism.

Freelance work began with rugby reports for national newspapers and local radio stations. Stephen has also had articles and photographs published in a wide range of specialist magazines, from Scottish Memories to Countrylovers Magazine, from Cat World to Canal and Riverboat, and one short story broadcast on BBC radio. In 1999, his writing career changed direction when, in rapid succession, he was shortlisted for the Dundee Book Prize and the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger competition for new writers, then won the £5,000 Lichfield Prize for his unpublished novel The Only Dead Thing, and signed a two-book contract with HarperCollins for a series of crime novels.

In 2000, Stephen’s first published novel, Black Dog, marked the arrival in print of his best known creations – two young Derbyshire police detectives, DC Ben Cooper and DS Diane Fry. Black Dog was the named by the London Evening Standard as one of the six best crime novels of the year – the only book on their list written by a British author. In the USA, it won the Barry Award for Best British Crime Novel and was nominated for an Anthony Award for Best First Mystery. The second Cooper & Fry novel, Dancing with the Virgins, was shortlisted for the UK’s top crime writing award, the Gold Dagger, and went on to win Stephen a Barry Award for the second year running.

In 2003, Detective Constable Ben Cooper was a finalist for the Sherlock Award for the Best Detective created by a British author, thanks to his exploits in the third book of the series, Blood on the Tongue. The publication of Blind to the Bones that year resulted in Stephen winning the Crime Writers’ Association’s ‘Dagger in the Library’ Award, presented to the author whose books have given readers most pleasure. The same book was nominated for the Theakston’s UK Crime Novel of the Year award in 2005. Subsequent titles have been One Last Breath, The Dead Place (both finalists for the UK Crime Novel of the Year in 2006 and 2007), Scared to Live, Dying to Sin, The Kill Call, Lost River, The Devil’s Edge, Dead and Buried and Already Dead. The 14th Cooper & Fry novel, The Corpse Bridge, was published in the UK in June 2014 and will be followed by The Murder Road in 2015. A special Ben Cooper story, Claws, was released in 2007 to launch the new ‘Crime Express’ imprint, and was re-issued in April 2011.

All the books are set in England’s beautiful and atmospheric Peak District. At the end of 2006, the Peak District National Park Authority featured locations from the Cooper & Fry series in their new Peak Experience visitors’ guides, recognising the interest in the area inspired by the books.

The Cooper & Fry series is now published by Little, Brown in the UK and by the Witness Impulse imprint of HarperCollins in the USA. In addition to publication in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, translation rights in the series have so far been sold in fifteen languages – French, German, Dutch, Italian, Swedish, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Czech, Romanian, Bulgarian and Japanese.

While living on a smallholding in Yorkshire, Stephen began breeding pedigree dairy goats as a hobby (and as an extreme contrast to working in busy news rooms!). He later served on the British Goat Society’s governing body and judged at shows all over Britain. He has been chairman of several clubs, including the charity fund-raising Just Kidding Goat Society, and probably his most unusual role was as a director of an artificial insemination company. Specialist publications he’s been responsible for include a book on one of the country’s oldest goat breeds, The Toggenburg. He is a former President of the Toggenburg Breeders Society.

Stephen left journalism in 2001 to write novels full time. He and his wife Lesley live in a village in rural Nottinghamshire, England (home of Robin Hood and the Pilgrim Fathers). They have three cats.

In recent years, Stephen Booth has become a Library Champion in support of the UK’s ‘Love Libraries’ campaign, and a Reading Champion to support the National Year of Reading. He has also represented British literature at the Helsinki Book Fair in Finland, filmed a documentary for 20th Century Fox on the French detective Vidocq, taken part in online chats for World Book Day, and given talks at many conferences, conventions, libraries, bookshops and festivals around the world.

For more information

Website, Facebook, Forum, Twitter, Goodreads

                                                                                                                                               

The Murder Road by Stephen Booth

Locket Full of Secrets (Blog Tour) + Giveaway

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Title: Locket Full of Secrets

Author: Dana Burkey

Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense

Publication Date: July 4th 2015
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Synopsis: After over 4 years, Olena comes rocketing back into Claire’s life, changing everything for the worse. Picking up the shattered pieces, Claire is not sure who to believe. Is Olena who she says she is, or is she a killer to stay away from? Leaning on her new boyfriend Steven for support, Claire is faced with the choice on who to trust: a friend she barley knows, or a history lesson she barely remembers. Together, the three will begin a journey that will take Claire from the safety of her home to the last place she thought she would ever be: The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. With the wreckage of rector four looming behind her, Claire will have to see Olena’s plan through until the end if she wants any chance of making it out alive.

Guest post:

I Might Be Crazy….

I might be crazy, but a few years ago I decided I wanted to get more in shape. Okay, that is not the part that makes me crazy. The crazy part will come in a minute, I assure you. Well, at first I started to just work out, eat right, and generally stay active. It was working well for a little while, so I signed up to do a local fun run. It was two miles, and lead to me trying out two 5ks in the next few months. After that second 5k (3.2 miles for those of you who need to google it like I did back then), I somehow decided I was going to go for a bigger race. But why skip to a 10k, or simply try to better my time on a 5k? No, instead of those logical next steps, I went and registered for my first half marathon.

That’s right, I decided that I could go from wogging (walking/jogging) 3.2 miles to suddenly completing 13.1 miles all at once. This is the crazy part, in case you were not sure! And it was crazy! It was crazy for me to think that I could just do this. Especially since training turned out to be really boring! I have never liked the idea of running in my neighborhood, and since I did not have a car at the time to drive to a local running trail, I bought a treadmill and trained at home in my basement. So, each night I would start going and just stare at the wall. It was super boring, and I would always stop after about 3 miles. The one time I actually pushed myself to go farther, I only made it to a whopping 5 miles!

Well, race day arrived, and it was time for me to see what I could do. The race was on September 25th 2011, and happened to also be my 26th birthday! My dad was in town from Ohio to visit me in Washington State, so he took me to the race and was going to be there to cheer me on when I finished. Or rather, if I finished. I had a few friends taking part in the race that day as well, so I hung out with them at the start and listened to them chat about how fast they were going to go, or how their latest training run went. Did you catch that? Their “training runs.” As in they did more than just walk 5 miles on a treadmill in their basement! I knew I was in trouble by the time the starting gun went off.

I think it was around mile 3 when I started to feel great about my life choice. The sun was shining and I got some water and things were going great. I was passing people, I didn’t have to stop and use the porta potties that were sitting in the sun all day, and my body was not really in any pain. In fact, I was feeling so good I even started to jog a bit in celebration at how great I was doing! And, when I passed mile 5, the farthest I had ever gone in training, I was excited for the unknown world ahead of me. I knew there was something called “hammer gel” at mile 6, and then I could start counting down the miles I had left.

Hammer gel turned out to be about the consistency of glue, and tasted like glue with a little bit of a Kool aide powder mixed in for fun. It was pretty terrible, but it was almost like food, so I loved it! I ate it super-fast and kept going, feeling pretty good. But then, my body started to realize what was going on. My body suddenly realized that I was not going to be stopping in a few minutes, but rather had half of a race to go! That was when my knees, hips, ankles, and shins started to hurt. It was like my whole lower half was trying to fall off of my body so they could quit before I made them do anything else crazy like run or even walk.

Sadly, I could not just quit or take off my legs and phone in the rest of the race, so I kept on going. I put one foot in front of the other and before I knew it, I heard a sound I loved. People cheering! I was near the finish line! I walked up this hill that was in front of me, and there was a crowd of people cheering! But my heart fell. They were not cheering for me. They were cheering for the people who were finishing, people that were 4 miles ahead of me! I wanted to cry in that moment, but instead just kept going while people literally walked past me on the other side of a rope. They were finishing, and I was still heading out farther and farther from the finish. And, to make matters worse, the wind was picking up. Every step felt like three, the wind pushing on me every second of the way.

One thing that I didn’t do as part of my “training”, if you can even call it that, was look at the course map. If I had, I would have known that the last few miles would take me out to Boulevard Park and back. But, I did not know this until there it was in front of me. It happened to be one of my favorite parks in town, and to this day is my favorite place in the world to watch the sunset. The problem is that one element of the park is a long boardwalk that extends over the ocean from the land above. That land truly is above, making it a massive uphill climb. I have since walked up the hill a few times, and even when it is at the start of a walk it feels like a million mile trek to get to the top!

As I started up the hill, noticing that mile 11 was located about half way up. It was hard, but I felt like I could do it. I put one foot in front of the other and forced myself to keep going. At the top of the hill I was so happy I wanted to cry! I had done it! I was up this massive hill, and I was getting close to the finish for real this time. But, as if to stop my celebration in its tracks, my stomach began to growl. I was hungry, and my body really wanted to let me know about it. Not only was I hungry, however, I was hungry and still would be burning quite a few calories while continuing on to the end of the race. Oh, and in case things were not looking bad enough, the next mile was a stead uphill that was slight enough to make you feel like you could do it, but at the same time steep enough for your body to always be working double time just to keep moving.

It was at this point in the race, with less than 2 miles to go, that I remembered something. I had a burrito in the fridge at home! It was my leftovers from dinner the night before, but was enough food to fill my empty stomach for sure. So, each step I took suddenly was not about the finish line, but about my burrito! I said the word in my head with each step, and imagined how great everything would feel once I could eat the whole thing while sitting down! Thankfully, the idea of this amazing food that was still to come kept me going when I wanted to quit so bad!

With the idea of Mexican food in my mind, and my legs still trying to quit on me, I continued to walk and jog my way to the finish. My dad stood cheering me on as I crossed the finish line and received my race medal. I had to fight back tears of both joy and pride in that moment, happy I finished what I set out to do, and also happy that it was all over! And it was over indeed! I limped to the car with my dad, my legs now wanting to stop working all together, then headed home for lots of food, a shower, and rest! It was, up until that point, the hardest thing I have ever done.

In the hours that followed the race I thought about what I had done over and over again. I thought about how insane the 13.1 miles had been, but also how I made it through it all. All of a sudden, the idea of doing it again was sounding like a great idea! Every time I looked at my beautiful race medal, I got the feeling I could do it a second time. So, it in the years that have followed I have done 9 more half marathons, countless 5ks and 10ks, and even a triathlon this past summer! The memory of crossing the finishing line and feeling accomplished keeps me going for each new race I set out to run.

The other thing that has come from me doing that first race, and even some of the ones since that day, is that I know I can do more than I think I can sometimes. When I face difficult things in my personal life or in my work life I remember how much I worked hard and pushed through in that race on my birthday. I think about how easy it is to quit, but how rewarding it is to keep going! Now, I get to apply that to my writing. I get to go one step closer to the finish line as I write words, edit paragraphs, and create characters. Self-publishing really is like a half-marathon, so much work put in to each page. But, in the end, seeing readers enjoy my work and reading reviews posted online feels the exact same way as that medal around my neck! I know it will not always be easy, and often feel like an uphill climb, but the accomplishment and feeling of pride I get for really pushing myself makes all of it worth it!

 

About the author:

I graduated college from Youngstown State University in 2009 with a degree in theater and a minor in creative writing. I am currently living in Washington State in a little cabin in the woods with my cat Cato. I work full time at a kids camp, and spend my free time doing community theater and adventuring in nature! I am an avid geocacher, and love watching reality TV shows like So You Think You Can Dance, Project Runway, and Big Brother! I am currently working on my next project that includes a few YA romances and a YA dystopian series!

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Undercover With the Enemy (Blog Tour)

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Undercover With the Enemy by Sharron McClellan

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Title: Undercover With the Enemy
Author: Sharron McClellan
Publisher: Entangled Select Suspense
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Format: Kindle

 

When opposites ignite…


High-risk securities operative Holly Milano usually prefers to work alone. Having a partner is, well, annoying. Case in point-her current assignment with Kane MacMillan. They’re working undercover in high society to retrieve a priceless diamond necklace.

 

And Mr. Plan Everything is seriously cramping Holly’s fly-by-the-seat-of-her-sexy-pants style.


Kane takes his job seriously, and he knows from experience that working with Holly usually ends in disaster. Their conflicting approaches could destroy their cover-or worse, get them killed. But when they’re forced to pose as an engaged couple, neither Holly nor Kane are prepared for the possibility of an unexpected attraction…or that they’re now putting their lives and their hearts on the line.

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About the author:

Sharron likes to blow things up, dabble with Armageddon and sometimes, just sometimes, crash an airplane. In books, people – in books! And while it sounds all action adventurish (it is), there’s steamy hot romance for balance.

The inspiration for many of her earlier books springs from her background in Archeology.  Sharron graduated with a degree in Archeology form the University of Alaska Fairbanks. After spending several years in the field searching for ancient artifacts and burials, she was decided writing about it would be way more interesting than digging in the dirt.

So in 2001 she hung up her shovel and decided to focus her efforts on writing action adventure romance, combining her love of archeology with her interest in romance the genre.  She’s been blowing things up ever since.

For More Information

Visit Sharron’s website.

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Guest Post – Blog Tour of Sleeping with the Blackbirds by Alex Pearl

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About Sleeping with the Blackbirds:

Eleven-year-old schoolboy, Roy Nuttersley has been dealt a pretty raw deal. While hideous parents show him precious little in the way of love and affection, school bullies make his life a misery. So Roy takes comfort in looking after the birds in his suburban garden, and in return the birds hatch a series of ambitious schemes to protect their new friend.

As with the best-laid plans, however, these get blown completely off course – and as a result the lives of both Roy and his arch tormentor, Harry Hodges are turned upside down. While Harry has a close encounter with God, Roy embarks on a voyage of discovery that draws in and impacts on everyone around him, including the local police, his headmaster and the national media. Where will it all end, and will life ever be quite the same for Roy Nuttersley?

Links

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/14609964-sleeping-with-the-blackbirds?ac=1

https://www.facebook.com/sleepingblackbirds

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sleeping-Blackbirds-Alex-Pearl/dp/1780030134

http://www.sleepingwiththeblackbirds.co.uk

https://uk.pinterest.com/alexbpearl/sleeping-with-the-blackbirds/

Guest Post: Sleeping with the Blackbirds

HOW IT ALL CAME ABOUT

Imagine if you will an extremely short-sighted, slightly shambolic advertising copywriter sitting in a brand new high-tech glass egg box of a building somewhere in central London. On the other side of the desk is his partner in crime, or more accurately, his art director of some 25 years standing. They are survivors in an industry that gobbles up and spits out more creative teams than the average Jo has had hot dinners. But the writing is now on the wall. The art director has had enough. He is an artist and hates digital technology. He came into this business with a pad and pen and a head full of big ideas. He’s not interested in producing slick digital layouts so much as inventive concepts roughly sketched with a felt-tipped pen. So he’s just announced to his other half that he’s handing in his notice to take early retirement and pursue his dreams of becoming an artist in Germany. To add to the copywriter’s woes, the company has got in on the act and made an announcement of its own. They have just made the monumental decision that morning to merge with New York’s second oldest advertising agency. The merger would be one of the largest global mergers for some years, and would, according the board of management, be an ‘exciting time’ for everyone. These were the words that resonated ominously in the copywriter’s ears. The words ‘exciting times’ were, as far as he was concerned, a euphemism for wholesale redundancies. Everyone could see that the merger of these two dying breeds was tantamount to the Hindenburg coming to the rescue of the Titanic. It was doomed to failure.

The copywriter in this scenario is none other than my good self and the year is 2009. As it turned out, I survived for a little longer than I had anticipated – around three months if my memory serves me correctly. Yet it was one of the most satisfying three months of my entire career. Why? Because for once in all those years of writing for clients, I found myself writing for a truly wonderful client; one that seemed happy to run with every word I penned. The client, of course, was myself. I was writing for my own amusement. While my art director worked out his month’s notice by furiously arranging the sale of his house and making plans for his exodus, I began writing my own piece of fiction aimed at young readers the same age as my son who was 12 at the time.

The story was inspired initially by my young son’s interest in peering through binoculars from his bedroom window at an old oak tree growing behind our house. The tree is several hundred years old, towers above the tree line and attracts all manner of birds including woodpeckers and owls whose haunting hoots can be heard of an evening. And like all works of fiction, once I began writing, the story started to evolve and take on a life of its own. And before I knew it I had written several chapters.

By the time I was eventually asked to vacate the premises and place all my worldly possessions, such as they were, into a cardboard box, the only item in that office of any worth to me was a fairly tatty manuscript entitled ‘Sleeping with the Blackbirds’. Strangely enough, the title for the story came to me before I’d even fully formulated the plot and written the first few pages. But it instinctively felt right and had a certain ring to it that I just liked.

WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF ROY NUTTERSLEY

My tale revolves around Roy Nuttersley, an ungainly 11-year-old schoolboy whose miserable life is made all the more miserable by his despicable parents who are so wrapped up in their own highly toxic and confrontational relationship that they barely notice their own son. On top of this Roy has to contend with Harry Hodges, the school bully and his cronies.

To console himself, Roy looks after the birds in his suburban garden, and unbeknown to him, the birds hatch a series of ambitious plans to help their new friend.

One such plan sees Canadian Geese going into training as a squadron of fearsome bird pooing bombers. But as with the best-laid plans, these elaborate schemes miserably fail to achieve their desired objectives.

Instead, their impact sets in motion far reaching consequences for both Roy and his arch-tormentor, Harry Hodges. Both of whom are forced to re-assess their own lives. While Harry has a close encounter with God, Roy sets out on a voyage of discovery that will change his life for good.

The story had taken shape in my head and I could see the twist in its tail from the outset.

ARE THERE THEMES FROM THE STORY THAT CHILDREN CAN LEARN FROM?

There are certainly themes that I wanted to weave into the storyline. First and foremost though I wanted to write a story that would entertain and amuse kids. And I wanted to use good old-fashioned and colourful language. I believe passionately in respecting the intelligence of my audience, so I will never set out to dumb down and use limited vocabulary just because the kids who read my story may have limited vocabulary. All children are smart. They’ll have the intelligence to work out the meanings for themselves  in the context of the sentences; and they’ll increase their vocabulary as a result.

As for the underlying themes, I wanted to get across the idea that people, like books, can never be judged by their outward appearances. We are all shaped by our own circumstances. Roy and Harry are no exception and have their own back stories. People may do bad things, but in life those actions don’t always mean that they are bad people. In 1941 a 13-year-old girl wrote in her diary “Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart.” Her name, of course, was Anne Frank.

I also wanted to touch on the theme of homelessness. One of the characters that Harry encounters is a homeless girl called Debbie and I wanted to make the point that many homeless people are victims of their own circumstances. We get to hear Debbie’s story and learn that her mother had died in childbirth and that her father had become an alcoholic and had turned on his daughter. We feel sympathy for Debbie because we get to hear her story. But in real life we never get to hear the stories; we only see the consequences of young people living in cardboard boxes and sniffing glue. So I really wanted children to understand the complexities of life and not to pre-judge people. It’s a fundamental life lesson.

WHAT OTHER BOOKS INFLUENCED THIS ONE?

There are several popular books that mine pays homage to. In terms of dark, English humour, the obvious examples are those by Roald Dhal and, more recently, David Walliums. Though these have been written for a slightly younger audience, some may detect a whiff of these fantastical tales in mine.

As a kid, one of the first books I remember really enjoying was ‘Stig of the Dump’ by Clive King – and perhaps there’s a little bit of Mr King’s magical realism creeping into my own story.

Some will also notice touches of the lovely Sue Townsend’s Adrian Mole diaries, particularly in Roy’s letter to Amnesty International.

George Layton who very kindly read my manuscript and liked it enough to write a byline for its cover, is also an author I greatly admire. His gentle and beautifully observed prose about childhood (‘The Trick’, ‘The Swap’ and ‘the Fib’) are incredibly touching and his tales always unravel unexpected revelations that are both entertaining and genuinely thought-provoking. His books have in the past been selected for the national curriculum for schools in the UK. So I feel incredibly flattered to have received words of praise from the great man himself.

DO YOU FIND WRITING EASY?

For me, writing isn’t the hard bit so much as the plotting and story creation. I’m new to this, and I don’t really feel so qualified to comment. But from my limited experience, I’d say that getting the idea and developing it in your head is by far the most challenging aspect of writing fiction.

As an advertising copywriter, I suppose I have a disciplined approach to storytelling, which is no bad thing. Indeed, many who have hailed from the world of advertising claim that the discipline of telling a story in 30 seconds or trimming a headline to convey an idea in as few words as possible is an invaluable skill for the budding author. Alan Parker, the film director argues that if it wasn’t for the discipline that he picked up as an advertising copywriter and commercials director, he couldn’t have made the transition into feature films.

But look, this said, there are no rules. And for some, discipline plays little if no part in the creative process. After all, plenty of writers claim that their storytelling evolves through the writing and that the characters dictate the direction of the narrative.

For others, character development and dialogue are more important than the story itself. Many years ago I was fortunate enough to sit next to the very brilliant Beryl Bainbridge at an advertising awards dinner; she had been commissioned to write a long piece of copy for an advertisement for real fires, and she had been nominated for an award, which she duly picked up. For the entire duration of the evening she would pull out a notebook and copiously take notes and ask questions. For her, details were terribly important, and her approach wasn’t dissimilar to the artist who carries a sketchpad around with him for future reference.

All this said, whatever one’s approach to writing fiction, I suspect that very few will ever tell you that the process comes easily.

IF AN ALIEN ASKED YOU FOR THREE BOOKS THAT SUMMED UP THE HUMAN CONDITION, WHICH THREE WOULD YOU PICK?

Gosh, that’s a difficult one. I think I’d want him or her to have an understanding of our compulsion to laugh (often at ourselves). So I’d heartily recommend ‘Carry on Jeeves’ by P G Woodhouse and Jerome K Jerome’s ‘Three Men in a Boat’ – both of which also say a great deal about the English character. But I’d also want this alien to understand the human desire for justice and fair play as seen through the eyes of an innocent child, so my third choice would be ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee.

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Author Bio:

Who is Alex Pearl?

It’s a question I often ask myself. Well, basically I’m a short-sighted bloke aged 50, which I suppose is pretty old really. And for 27 years I have worked at various advertising agencies and marketing companies as something called a copywriter. This means I have to sit in an office and write the words that appear in adverts, leaflets and letters. It’s a funny old job. Sometimes it can be fun when, for instance, you have to make a TV or radio commercial. But this doesn’t happen very often. At other times it can be rather dull and frustrating when a client rejects your work that you created and insists that you do something far less interesting.

Outside work I’m a husband and a dad, and I live in North West London with my wife and two children. We don’t have any animals in our house but we do see lots of birds in our garden. And yes, we do have a bird table, but only the one, and this is usually attacked by the squirrels before any bird can get to it.

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