Fundraising Book Stall at Arundel Festival

Oh, how life has changed this year and I am yet to rise to the biggest challenge ever! Organising of our annual CHINDI event at Arundel Festival, selling signed paperbacks to raise funds for Cancer Research UK.

CHINDI Authors at Arundel Festival 2017

CHINDI Authors Arundel Festival 2017 (managed by Carol Thomas, top left, and Dan Jones, bottom right)

Our stand at Arundel Festival began in 2016 with the authors networking group, CHINDI (Celebrating and Helping Indie Authors). It was launched by fellow author, Carol Thomas, who writes heart-warming romantic comedy, and turned out to be our most successful venture to date. CHINDI not only smashed their target to sell 100 books but raised an amazing £308.63 for Cancer Research.

Carol has successfully run the event for 3 years with the help of her husband and author Dan Jones but decided to step down this year to enjoy a well earned break with her family. Taking on the role of a director last year however, we agreed that if CHINDI was to repeat the event, it was up to us,  the new directors to organise it.

I have a new title out this year, Rosebrook Chronicles the Hidden Stories, so this is a chance to publicise it and sell some signed copies, alongside my other 5 books. Yet in another it is nice to do something worthwhile, to get together with a bunch of like-minded authors and raise a bit for charity. Arundel Festival itself is a wonderful event, a week in August when the streets come alive with colour, live music, arts and crafts, and many other attractions. As far as selling books this has always been a most fruitful event for CHINDI Authors so let’s hope that we are in for another good year.

Books by Helen J Christmas on sale at Arundel Festival

Brand new Paperbacks, Rosebrook Chronicles and ‘Same Face Different Place’ books 1-5 ready to be signed.

The Festival runs from August 16th – 26th 2o19 and you will find us outside the Cancer Research Charity Shop, as you come into the town. I am there on Saturday 17th, Monday morning, August 19th, Thursday 22nd and Bank Holiday Monday 26th.

Apart from the Festival, Arundel is an idyllic Sussex town with a beautiful old castle, a cathedral and along the banks of the river Arun, you will discover Swanbourne Lake (for boating and picnics) as well as a Wild fowl and Wetland Centre. The festival itself in an extra attraction with entertainment for all the family, lovely pubs, tea rooms and plenty of tantalising street food.

Am I looking forward to it? Of course! But I won’t deny I am a bit nervous.

I would therefore like to extend my gratitude to all the volunteers who are helping me, especially Carol Thomas, Rosemary Noble, Gunvor Johansson, Patricia Feinberg Stoner and Julia Macfarlane. For a full line up of authors attending and their books, see the blog on our CHINDI website: https://www.chindi-authors.co.uk/chindi-authors-return-to-arundel-festival-for-their-4th-year/

Please come a long and say hello, buy a signed book and support this worthy cause.

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Rosebrook Chronicles #BlogTour Update

What can I say? With so many promotions for new title, ‘Rosebrook Chronicles The Hidden Stories,’ it has been an intense week but added to the promotional posts, there were some amazing reviews.

Banner for the Blog Tour of new book Rosebrook Chronicles The Hidden Stories

I dedicate this post to all the hard working book bloggers who gave up their time to spread the word and for the reviewers for their honest appraisals. Last of all a big shout goes out to Rachel’s Rare Resources for organising it.

I was always interested to know how others would perceive my newest work of fiction but one of the most inspiring reviews appeared Ami-May’s Blog, Reading Through The Pain.

“This book contains abuse in all forms from mental, emotional, sexual and physical abuse and everything in between. How three young people living back then was trying to survive there childhood and fought it well into there adulthood.”

Rosebrook Chronicles: The Hidden Stories is a very emotional, shocking, thought-provoking, moving, absorbing, and awe-inspiring book. Which covers a vast amount of topics adoptions, religion, politics, childhood abuse and lots more.

It sums the book up really well; a work of fiction that covers the lives of three abused teenagers, three stories interwoven into one.

More of the dark subject matter behind the book was exposed in Cheryl M-M’s Book Blog, who’s insightful review highlighted the topic perfectly.

In essence these stories are about the children and young people who fall into the black holes of an inadequate system. Inadequate due to the job stopping at the door, children being counted as statistics rather than human beings, and all of them having no real voice. That’s what their representatives are for, to give them a voice, and yet sadly that doesn’t seem to be case in the majority of cases.

She finished by saying “it’s an emotional and heart-wrenching contemporary read.”

Much as I would like to include every review, every single one of them touched my heart. Thank you so much and I dedicate the rest of this post to the bloggers by including all their links (interwoven with a few review snippets of course.)

Splashes into Books

The Magic of Worlds

Dash Fan Book Reviews

So if you a looking for a Dark Domestic Noir, that has a touch of Suspense, gripping storylines, is Emotive, yet Engrossing then you will love Rosebrook Chronicles The Hidden Stories.

Curled Up with a Good Book

In de Boekenkast

Jazzy Book Reviews

Ellesea Loves Reading

I was moved by the way the author told a touching and sometimes hard story. From the first sentence she creates lively personalities with an intriguing past and a complex character.

Radzy Writes

All in all, this is a sensitively written, engrossing tale of survival, chock o block of technique and style. Fans of ‘true’ stories will love this, as will anyone interested in checking out unusually written books.

K T Robson

This was such a powerful read – Helen Christmas has managed to navigate the complicated worlds of abuse, politics and religion expertly, weaving the stories of her three main characters seamlessly together. 

A Story About a Girl

B for Bookreview

TheBookReader

When I finished the book I was left wondering how on earth our society is able to screw over some of its citizens in the amount this book portrays, and I realized that it is quite possible because there will always be some slimeballs out there who knows how and when to take advantage of the system and people within and outside the system. Credit to Christmas for portraying this in an excellent way!

Book Lovers’ Booklist

One of my pet hates is people who complain things were better in the old days.
Because they weren’t.

Celticlady’s Reviews

Terror Tree

This story was well researched, with the historical facts running through the book, you really feel as you are following these characters throughout their lives.

Just Books

Jessica Belmont

Gripping, dark, and emotional, Rosebrook Chronicles is an incredible novel. The sensitive material is handled well, and the stories merge beautifully together. I highly recommend reading this.

Booksandemma – The Twist and Turn book blog

This book is one of those that I couldn’t put down, at times it was shocking to read and utterly heartbreaking but I just had to keep reading.

Donnas Book Blog

A very well written story with some excellent characterisation and a gripping plot – very highly recommended!

Rosebrook Chronicles The Hidden Stories by Helen J Christmas

AVAILABLE ON AMAZON IN KINDLE AND PAPERBACK

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#BlogTour Rosebrook Chronicles The Hidden Stories by Helen J. Christmas

via #BlogTour Rosebrook Chronicles The Hidden Stories by Helen J. Christmas

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** FREE Short Story ** with #NewRelease Rosebrook Chronicles

Publication Day is getting close for noir suspense saga, ‘Rosebrook Chronicles, the Hidden Stories’ with a FREE short story to download.

Rosebrook Chronicles is a series of interlocking stories which fuse into a compelling saga. People inspire me and while my favourite genres are thrillers and suspense, I like stories that delve deep into the human psyche.

ROSEBROOK CHRONICLES The Hidden Stories, a novel by Helen J. Christmas

Abused as teenagers, three young adults strive to repair their broken lives; Robin has ambitions to rise to power, while orphaned siblings, Beatrice and Peter, yearn to find one another.

Deeper stories of these characters drive the plot, intended to keep the reader emotionally hooked. What lies at the heart of Robin’s political power play? Why are Peter and Beatrice kept apart for so long and is there something more sinister behind their segregation?

A dark suspenseful drama from the 70s to the 90s, this is a unique blend of social history and domestic noir. 

New Edits thanks to my Beta Readers

This book has passed under the eagle eye of four beta readers, successful, talented authors in their own right. I would like to convey my thanks to Ray Green, Joel Hames, Rose Edmunds and last but by not least, best selling historic fiction author Beryl Kingston, for taking the time to read my book.

Inspiration

Completing some extensive edits (to address points raised my beta readers), I was pondering over the launch date. I approached a few literary agents, since Rosebrook Chronicles was quite different from my previous work. Writing this book, I found a distinctive voice for each character and endeavoured to explore the deeper issues of child abuse, the impact on victims and the way it shapes people’s lives.

It’s been interesting but I know what it feels like to be suppressed by controlling people, the power of lies and of not being believed.

This leads me to mention the books I enjoy reading, all psychological thrillers.

Recommended Books

The RumourThe Rumour by Lesley Kara
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is one of the most original stories I have read. This book certainly opened my eyes; a story of gossip with terrible consequences, how one rumour can unleash suspicion and any one of your friends could be a killer. An absorbing book with a heart-stopping twist.

Spare RoomSpare Room by Dreda Say Mitchell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the first book I’ve read by Dreda Say Mitchell but Oh Boy what a good read! The secrets of the past are drip fed through the plot. Why is Lisa so drawn to this house? Who is the mystery man who left the suicide note and could her life too be under threat? Brilliant.

The Secret Child (DI Amy Winter, #2)The Secret Child by Caroline Mitchell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A crime thriller packed with psychological suspense, where you start to question who the victim really is. Amy is forced to confront her past, to get into the head of a sinister kidnapper. What ensues is a gripping game of cat and mouse, a race against time to save the victims.

What She SawWhat She Saw by Wendy Clarke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am currently reading this and utterly hooked. It is not just the beautiful descriptions of the Lake district I am enjoying but the pure unadulterated suspense. I am dying to know what is causing Leona’s panic attacks, a phenomenon I can relate to. A real page turner.

To conclude, there are some bloody good psychological thrillers out there at the moment. But aspiring to their standard is something I dream of!

FREE SHORT STORY

So let others be the judge with a FREE story to download and read at your leisure.

Chapter 14: The Bracelet can be downloaded either as a PDF or mobi file… and if you enjoyed this short story and want to read more about the lives of Bibi and her daughter, my book can be pre-ordered from Amazon.

The Bracelet, a free story by Helen J. Christmas

| CLICK HERE FOR PDF VERSION | CLICK HERE FOR MOBI VERSION |

Please note: the mobi file cannot be delivered wirelessly to your Kindle as with Amazon. You need to email the file to your device (the address can be found in your Amazon account under devices) or use the Kindle app on your computer.

Rosebrook Chronicles, The Hidden Stories
Publication Date: 1st July 2019

Available to pre-order on Amazon, in Kindle or paperback.

With a publication date planned for July 1st 2019 I am also participating in a blog tour with Rachel’s Random Resources from 14th to 20th July.

 

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Guest Post with Romantic Fiction Author Carol Thomas

Welcome back, Carol Thomas, who has released a sequel to her Romantic Comedy, The Purrfect Pet Sitter. Last year she entertained us no end with her sparkling new novel, a great holiday read. You can see the previous post by clicking this link:

Leading Men in Fiction: Guest Post by Carol Thomas

To celebrate the release of her romantic comedy, Maybe Baby, Carol Thomas is this week’s Chindi Author of the Week, and is stopping by to tell us more about her latest novel:

Maybe Baby is the second book in the Lisa Blake series, published by Ruby Fiction. While the story follows on from The Purrfect Pet Sitter (Lisa Blake book #1), it can also be read as a standalone novel.

Photo of author Carol ThomasIn Maybe Baby, Lisa Blake is back with her first love, she’s reunited with her best friend Felicity, and life is looking good; even her pet sitting skills are improving – everybody knows you can’t believe all you read in the local Gazette, don’t they?

Felicity is on the cusp of achieving her perfect wife-mum-life balance; Her husband, Pete, is being wonderfully attentive, and her four children are getting older and wiser (sometimes too much wiser) by the day.

But just when they think that maybe, just maybe, they have everything sorted, it becomes clear that life is nothing but full of unexpected surprises!

What challenges did you face writing a romance about an already established couple?

In Maybe Baby, the romance aspect comes from the characters working together as they face the next phase of their lives. There are secrets to be revealed and new discoveries to be made. I really enjoyed working with the characters again and putting them in new situations, exploring how they progressed as a couple was a lot of fun.

Having written two books focused around the same characters, who are your favourites?

I have a soft spot for all of them, and I have spoken on your blog before about my male heroes – I do love the male leads in this book. But I adore Felicity’s four children. It was hard to write any scene involving them without a smile on my face. They have fabulously inquisitive minds and their own quirky characters. They, along with Lisa’s furry clients, give rise to many of the comedic moments across the series.

Can we expect more in the Lisa Blake series?

Never say never! Each story is complete in its own right, but I have an idea for a Christmas novella involving these characters that I may explore once I have finished the contemporary romance – separate to this series – that I am currently working on.

Meanwhile, The Purrfect Pet Sitter, currently ebook only, is coming out in audio and paperback on August 6th, which is very exciting!

Maybe Baby is available in audio and as an ebook, buying links:
Amazon: http://getbook.at/MBAmazon
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/maybe-baby-35
Ruby Fiction: https://www.rubyfiction.com/dd-product/maybe-baby/

Website and Social Media Links:
http://carol-thomas.co.uk
http://facebook.com/carolthomasauthor
http://twitter.com/carol_thomas2
https://www.pinterest.co.uk/carol_thomas2/
https://www.instagram.com/carol_thomas2/

Blog:
http://carol-thomas.co.uk/blog

Thanks Carol for sharing this news and I wish you the best of luck with Maybe Baby.

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Knuckling Down to Writing Again

Since my last post I’ve followed my own advice, pursuing my dreams

To be more specific WIP, Lethal Ties, is no longer an outline synopsis with a list of characters. I have bashed out the first six chapters and near to completing a 7th. This is a brand new work with a whole new cast but I admit, it took a little while to get into it.

I imagine this must be the same for many authors, where the biggest hurdle getting to know your own characters. Yet the more they develop, the more I find myself mentally engaging with them and more importantly, developing the rest of the plot. Characters are so important though, they form the nucleus of the story and through their actions and emotions, the story can often write itself.

Lethal Ties is a psychological thriller mystery, based on kids in care, while tackling issues such as homelessness, historic child abuse, conspiracy and police cover ups.

Abstract view based on Maisie’s fear of forests.

Talking of characters however, I haven’t lost sight of the Rosebrook Chronicles, a work of fiction I finished earlier this year.

The book is not yet published and this may not happen until August. The reason is, I have to give my beta readers plenty of time to to read it and from the feedback I have received so far, there is still some work to be done but this is not a bad thing. The feedback has been amazing and with really constructive comments on how I can improve it.

“Loved the characters and the common themes that linked them. Great plot, great writing with some really wonderful touches…”

“The way you portrayed the separate journeys of the principle characters was really engaging and the denouement was very satisfying as you pulled all the strands together.”

It’s lovely to know I am on the right track and written something  worth reading.

Rosebrook Chronicles is a deeply moving tale based on the lives of three characters growing up in the 60s and 7os. A blend of social history and domestic noir.

So it feels like an exciting time. I haven’t published anything new since concluding my ‘Same Face Different Place’ series with ‘Retribution End Game’ in 2017. But who knows I may have two new books coming out soon and with a third idea in gestation.

 

 

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Beautiful Spring Sunshine and Fresh Ideas

February has been an unexpected month full of highs and lows

Let’s start with the lows. I’ve been shocked to hear sad news from a few friends concerning unforeseen health problems, some life threatening. It makes you realise how temporary and fragile life can be, never knowing what is around the corner. I must confess the thought of that ‘split second life changing event’ terrifies me more than anything. Makes me thankful of each day I wake up healthy, especially in the aftermath of an intense bout of flu that put me out of action for the best part of a week, but hey, at least I am still here. The saddest news of all was the unexpected death of one of our walking group this week, a vibrant, lovely man who was fighting fit the last time we saw him. He and his wife were on the verge of emigrating to Australia to start a new life with their children. What a cruel blow fate can play!

It’s hard to feel positive in the light of such a tragedy but life must go on. On a more positive note, we’ve enjoyed some gorgeous walks of late with plenty of Spring sunshine. Work is good and on the writing front I have lots of fresh ideas.

This year I completed my latest work of fiction, Rosebrook Chronicles.

This book is a series of interlocking stories which fuse into a suspenseful saga, a contemporary blend of social history and domestic Noir. It follows the lives of three children, abused as teenagers, who strive to repair their broken lives. Each has their own story from battling past traumas to pursuing their dreams, to find love and re-establish broken family ties. But it is the inner stories of these characters that drive the plot, intended to keep the reader emotionally engaged and rooting for them to the end.

The book won’t be available for a while as it is currently being beta read, but a big thank you goes out to those who have offered to do this.

New Fiction

And while all this is going on, I am already plotting my next novel, a psychological thriller about three kids brought up in care, who share a secret. Twenty years later two characters, Maisie and Joe, meet again. Now in their thirties, they have never forgotten the bonds of friendship, nor the chilling disappearance of their friend, Sam. Consequentially, they are desperate to know what happened to him. I even have an idea for a cover, as shown in this creepy photo of trees.

Then believe it or not, I was driving home from Emsworth after a successful client meeting, when out of the blue popped up another idea for a book. Sophie’s Legacy is very much a concept at the moment but a project I cannot wait to start plotting (and only after I have written ‘Lethal Ties’ of course.)

What I am trying to say is cherish what you have and follow your dreams while they are fresh because you never know what tomorrow might bring.

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