A Tour Through Blogland Award and Karma in the Writing World

I am honoured to have been nominated to take part in “A Tour Through Blogland” or also known as “The Virtual Blog Tour Award.”

My nominator, Wanda Hartzenburg wears many hats; she lives across the other side of the world from me, in South Africa and is also an author. She wrote her first story at the age of 4 (I wrote mine when I was 6) and like me, she enjoys writing and cooking. Her two books ‘Suicide Song’ and ‘The Struggle of me’ are both available on Amazon. I mainly know Wanda through her Facebook Group, Wanda’s amazing Amazon Reviewers which you can read about in my a short article.

You can read Wanda’s Tour through Blogland Post here.

suicidesong

To kick off this blog tour, she asked me to answer these 4 questions:

1- Why write? Why not sing, dance or figure skate?

Writing seems to be ingrained in my soul. I started when I was six. I filled up my drawing book with fairy tales and it was about the same time as my parents took me to ballet! I was too clumsy to dance and the first time I tried skating, I fell over and broke my wrist. That just about sums it up – whereas I derive enormous pleasure from writing.

2- Do you have a musical playlist or do you need to write in absolute silence? If you have a playlist would we recognize any of the songs or artists on it?

Music definitely inspires me – not when I’m writing but when I am thinking about writing. I have a play list for each of my books: some from the decade; for ‘Beginnings’ there are lots of tunes from the 70’s. The current playlist however, contains nothing anyone would recognise. It’s music for the younger generation – Drum and Bass and a lot of thrilling rave music. It would be a great soundtrack if ever the book was made into a film.

3- Can you see a future for yourself in which writing forms no part of your day to day life?

I can’t imagine that at all. Much as I enjoy other hobbies, writing is something which seems to be stamped onto my personality. I cannot bear to think of a scenario where I wouldn’t be able to do it any more.

4- Which author/s inspire you currently? I am not talking about some of the greats but departed. Authors alive today, which of them inspire you?

Ken Follet is and continues to be my biggest inspiration: his books have wonderful characters and are set around historic events. There are some pretty good indie authors around too; such as Terry Tyler who writes modern day British based fiction and Marion Kille who’s crime thrillers set in one of my local towns, are impossible to put down.

Here is my short article: Karma in the Writing World

It was always my intention in the New Year to write a small piece about Wanda’s Amazing Amazon Reviewers group which was how I was introduced to Wanda Hartzenberg.

The idea stems from authors across the world coming together and supporting each other. As the name suggest this is a group for reviewers – which means they are always on the lookout for avid readers, people who love books and are willing to give up their free time for reading and giving honest reviews. It’s a friendly group which relies on mutual support. We give reviews and receive them in return. Not only that, we like each others Facebook pages, tweet each others tweets and generally do what we can to raise each other’s profiles.

What goes around comes around and as a result, I have not only met some very fine authors but had a few new reviews myself, which is something us budding writers have come to rely on more and more, these days, especially if they crave success.

Most of all it is fun. It’s a platform for debates, competitions, giveaways and a forum for authors to share their experiences – post questions on anything to do with writing: from editing to cover design. It is also a good place to make new friends.

In all the years I’ve been an author, I’ve discovered there is a lot of karma in the writing community. I don’t have the time to join many author groups but I’m glad I found this one. Just to finish with, here’s a sample of some of my own reviews from my favourite authors:

The Luck of the WeissensteinersThe Luck of the Weissensteiners by Christoph Fischer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An ambitious story of how one jewish family manages to escape the persecution of the nazis.

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Baby (Species Intervention #6609, #1)Baby by J.K. Accinni

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I highly recommend this book. Science-fiction is not usually my genre, but I became so quickly absorbed, I can genuinely say that this is the most unusual and captivating story I have read in a long time.

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Peer Inside My Soul and See MePeer Inside My Soul and See Me by De Ann “Native” Townes Jr.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Definitely one for a rainy day. This is a delightful collection of poems, is beautifully written and with incredibly inspiring words. I know I’ll be picking it up again soon!

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Revealing HamiltonRevealing Hamilton by Sarah Jayne Carr

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Part thriller with a scientific conspiracy in the background; a notion of secret societies, where you are never quite sure who you can trust.

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Broken Aro (The Broken Ones, #1)Broken Aro by Jen Wylie

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A Wonderful Story: Fantasy is not my usual genre – yet I was rapidly drawn into a story which was not only beautifully written, but filled with characters I instantly engaged with.

View all my reviews

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Lastly, I have nominated Julian Kirkman-Page for this award. I met Julian via our local authors group CHINDI and enjoyed his first book The 7:52  to London Bridge which is a hilarious set of short stories

“The author is a businessman in the guise of a train commuter trying to make good use of the otherwise dead time to study for a distance learning science degree. Instead, the trials and tribulations of the daily grind between home and London Bridge station force him to reflect upon a life filled with mirth, mystery and sheer madness.”

Julian’s 2nd book I Don’t Drink is a comprehensive guide to giving up alcohol, written in a light hearted comic style and includes a free downloadable self-hypnosis session.

Books by Julian Kirkman-Page

Over to you, Julian!

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New release in the Series – Follow up – 12th January 2015

Back in November, I released a FREE prelude: ‘The Battle for the Land’ in advance of my 3rd novel ‘Pleasures as a gift to my readers.’

The story continues through the year 1987. Eleanor is aroused by a vital clue that draws her to London in disguise where she is about to be reunited with a significant journalist from the press conference.

James’s children, Avalon and William meanwhile, are never likely to forget the abuse they suffered at the hands of the Hamptons especially Ben and his evil sidekick, Nathan. They feel indebted to Community Leader, Peter who’s gentle counsel went a long way towards healing their damaged souls and will do anything to help him fulfil his vision; to get the permission he needs from Rosebrook Council to turn a derelict factory site into an affordable housing trust.

But the enemies are about to up their offensive. In a single clandestine meeting, Perry gathers a group of Eleanor’s most deadly enemies together, each of whom is about launch a campaign to get their hands on the same land Peter is gunning for. One of them is Dominic Theakston, former London gangster turned entrepreneur. Hovering between the two is a sly and underhand planning officer from Rosebrook Council. His ploy to lure both men into the town is an attempt to unhinge Eleanor. But he is a powerful ally of Perry’s and although Perry is interested in the land, he has an even more important motive to reunite with these men.

He is desperate to get his hands on Eleanor’s son, knowing this boy is the only bargaining tool he can use to force Eleanor to hand over a secret file she made in the 70s.

I have received two really kind emails from a couple of people who took me up on my offer:

“Just finished the freebie read and loved it! Roll on the finished book 3 Gripped me all the way just as book 1 did. Thank you xx” JA

“I’ve read the teaser which was brilliant.  Looking forward to the rest of the book.” MK

The Same Face Different Place series

With just a few more weeks before the full release, there is still time to grab yourselves a copy, by submitting the form below:

You will not be added to any mailing list and the only follow up message you will receive is when the full release of Same Face Different Place Book 3 Pleasures is available.

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Terrorism: one of the worst evils of the world 7th January 2015

The editing of book 3 has left me with some disturbing memories of the terrorist threat that existed in the 70s, 80s and 90s when the IRA were at their most active. Thankfully, there has been less violence surrounding Northern Ireland in recent years where peace talks must have finally paid off.

At the time however, these incidents induced fear: the occasions I took a train to London when services were suspended because of a bomb scare. On one occasion, I was sat in a tube train in the middle of a dark tunnel amongst hundreds of other commuters for nearly an hour! There was even occasion when my home town of Bognor was targeted – who remembers the bicycle bomb outside Woolworths?

The attacks were mainly confined to the British Commonwealth and took place in England. Here are a few of examples, which I chose to mention – as they occurred in 1987, 1990 and 1991 (the years in which parts of the story are set) and have therefore found their way into the pages of my most recent novel, Pleasures:

Poppy Day Bombing
November 8th 1987: At a remembrance Day parade a bomb was detonated killing 11 and injuring 60 including women and children.

He admitted to being in a dark place; upset by the troubles in Northern Ireland, which had culminated in the recent ‘Poppy Day’ bombing in the small town of Enniskillen. This callous attack, carried out by the IRA, had sent shock waves through the community…

Poppy Day Bombing in Enniskillen

Poppy Day Bombing in Enniskillen

Death on the Rock of Gibraltar
March 7th 1988: A chain of events which began with an IRA plot in Gibraltar and ended with the murder of 2 British soldiers

The news had been rocked by a chain of brutal events, starting with the three IRA terrorists gunned down at point blank range on the rock of Gibraltar. It was believed, they had been plotting to bomb a local changing of the guards ceremony – plastic explosives had been discovered.

A week later, a military style funeral took place in Belfast. Yet in a barbaric twist of fate, a Protestant gunman had materialised, opening fire into the crowd and hurling grenades. Both nationalists and loyalists traditionally respected sectarian funerals – which made this an unusual incident, although it had eventually emerged, the assassin was operating alone.

“What’s this latest atrocity?” Eleanor whispered in horror.
“Two British soldiers have been murdered,” Peter shuddered. “They found themselves inadvertently caught up in the midst of an IRA parade; they were dragged from their car, beaten unconscious, then taken to some nearby wasteland and shot!”

the-ira-bombed-targets-in-the-cityJuly 1990: The IRA stepped up its campaign of violence in the form of a bomb attack on the London stock exchange, followed by an even more terrible attack on a British MP.

Peter closed his eyes. There had been so many incidents in the news since then and as the bus chugged its way through a sea of rush hour traffic, he was mentally listing  them. He blinked, just as they were passing the London Stock Exchange – clocking the sharp grey walls, the columns of tall windows. It was hard to imagine, an IRA bomb had blown a massive hole in that building in July 1990. Peter felt the onset of a shiver. Wasn’t it in the same month, an IRA car bomb had also claimed the life of Conservative MP, Ian Gow; a hefty Semtex device whose effects were nearly as devastating as the one in which Albert Enfield had been killed. 

Mortar bomb attack on the British Government
February 7th 1991

He decided to jump off, knowing it would be quicker to get to his friend’s house by tube. Yet the memories kept jabbing at him. There was no question, the IRA had upped their offensive. Earlier that year, they had fired a mortar bomb at 10 Downing Street – a shocking attack which had left the entire Conservative cabinet reeling!

The above extracts are from Book 3 Pleasures, Same Face Different Place, a British series which begins with a political conspiracy and a car bomb attack which claims the life of a British MP.

Obviously, no-one can ignore the far deadlier threat which now exists in the form of extreme Islamic terrorism via Al-Qaida. It is something that is never going to go away and no longer affects just Britain but the whole world.

It seems like a horrific twist of fate that on the day I finished writing this post, news broke out of a barbaric shooting at Paris offices of satirical magazine, resulting in 12 people being killed. Just another example of the type of terrorist attack which has become one of the worst evils of the modern world.

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One Groovy Little Paperback – 17th December 2014

Following on from my last post, I decided to publish my 3rd novel on Amazon, so there are now 3 books in the ‘Same Face Different Place’ series.

Same Face Different Place Pleasures

In the last post, I wanted to offer the prelude FREE as a gift to all those who enjoyed other books in the series and wanted a little taste of Book 3 ‘Pleasures’ in advance of its release in Spring 2o15. However, there haven’t been that many takers! I guess everyone is just inundated with free books at the moment – especially with Kindle Unlimited – where the privilege of offering our books as freebies has lost its appeal.

I felt the best way forward was therefore just to get it on Amazon anyway where it cannot be offered free, but at least it’s out there. I spent the best part of a weekend, typesetting a printed version on Createspace. However, when the proof copy turned up a couple of weeks later, I couldn’t have been more delighted with it! I created the cover using two library shots from 123RF and with its ghostly blue forest and architectural plans, it depicts the story very well. It’s a little smaller than the other two books too as I opted for the 5.5cm x 8.5cm.

But it is a really sweet little book.

Book 3 Pleasures by Helen J. Christmas

 There’s nothing quite like holding a real book in your hands, knowing this is something you have created yourself. In fact, I have to admire Createspace and Amazon, for making this possible. Without this self-publishing platform, none of this would be possible. It’s a wonderful platform for authors and I have to confess I’ve very pleased with the result.

Click here to view the new release on Amazon.

Readers can still enjoy this book FREE, by the way, with no strings attached. Visit my previous post for details.

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New release in the Same Face Different Place Series – 28th November 2014

As a special gift, I am about to release a FREE prelude: ‘The Battle for the Land’ in advance of my 3rd novel ‘Pleasures.’

Part One: Chapters 1-7 constitutes about a quarter of the book, which starts in the year 1987 before the story edges its way into the 90s. Here is a short summary of the saga so far.

Book 1 Beginnings

The mystery began in 1972 when a British MP was murdered in a car bomb explosion. Dutch musician, Jake Jansen, witnessed a suspicious scene; whilst the IRA were conveniently blamed for the atrocity. An attempt to have him murdered failed when he was rescued by Eleanor Chapman. The two of them disappeared into hiding and fell in love. Yet it was not until Eleanor infiltrated a press conference that she finally came into contact with a sinister blonde politician who sounded uncannily similar to a description passed on to her by Jake.

Book 1 Beginnings and Book 2 Visions

Book 2 Visions

12 years later (1985) Eleanor finally began to unite with several other ‘wronged individuals,’ hoping she would forge her own tight knit community to fight against injustice. People like Charlie, whose life was destroyed by a ruthless property developer named Peregrine Hampton; People like James Barton-Wells – ruthlessly manipulated by the same man, whilst desperately trying to save his ancestral home. When a rising conflict brought all the characters together in a dramatic show down, Eleanor finally recognised the same sinister blonde man from the press conference of the 1970s.

The danger was beginning to close in again. She began to fear for the safety of her own son as enemies from the past began to creep back into her life. She had one mission; to destroy Perry Hampton and solve the mystery which had been haunting her for 15 years.

Book 3 Pleasures

The Grosvenor Hotel, LondonThe story continues where Visions left off. Eleanor is aroused by a vital clue, one which will take her to London in disguise where she is about to be reunited with a significant journalist from the press conference. 

James’s children, Avalon and William meanwhile, are never likely to forget the abuse they suffered at the hands of the Hamptons especially Ben and his evil sidekick, Nathan. They feel indebted to Community Leader, Peter who’s gentle counsel went a long way towards healing their damaged souls and will do anything to help him fulfil his vision; to get the permission he needs from Rosebrook Council to turn a derelict factory site into an affordable housing trust.

But the enemies are about to up their offensive. In a single clandestine meeting, Perry gathers a group of Eleanor’s most deadly enemies together, each of whom is about launch a campaign to get their hands on the same land Peter is gunning for.

One of them is Dominic Theakston, former London gangster turned entrepreneur who runs his own gym and is planning to use the land to develop his own entertainment complex. Perry too wants a slice of the cake and sees the land as an opportunity to make himself another nice profit.

Hovering between the two is a sly and underhand planning officer from Rosebrook Council. His ploy to lure both men into the town is an attempt to unhinge Eleanor. But he is already a powerful ally of Perry’s and although Perry is interested in the land issue, he has an even more important motive to reunite with these men.

He is desperate to get his hands on Eleanor’s son, knowing this boy is the only bargaining tool he can use to force Eleanor to hand over a secret file she made in the 70s. It is a file which conceals everything she knows about the original conspiracy; one in which all three men are named. Perry believes if he can destroy her testimony, they will be safe.

Further more, Perry’s son is desperate to find his own niche in the criminal underworld. He has joined Dominic’s gym hoping to find an in road although he too, has a sinister agenda.

Stalker dressed in blackIn this first part of Book 3 Pleasures, many characters and story lines from previous books are about to intertwine and with numerous possibilities…

Will Eleanor find the clues she is seeking and evade Perry’s spies? Is there a way she can prove a series of terrible crimes which began in the 70s?

Is their community really safe?
Or will sexual predator, Ben finally subject Avalon to a campaign of terror which he’s been planning for months, whilst he stalks her neighbourhood dressed in black?

And who is ultimately going to win the Battle for the Land?

To claim your free book, complete and send the form below and a copy of ‘Pleasures Prelude’ (The Battle for the Land) will be emailed to you either in kindle or PDF format (please specify in the message field.)

Book 3 Pleasures

Once I have gifted you my book, you will only receive one more message from me and that is to announce the full release of Same Face Different Place Book 3 Pleasures. After this, you may be taken off the mailing list (if you so choose.)

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1st Synopsis for Book 3 Pleasures – 16th October 2014

1st Synopsis for Book 3 Pleasures – 16th October 2014.

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Some of the influences behind Same Face Different Place

In the run up to my new release, I have started thinking about some of the influences which inspired my series.

Rosebrook based in Kent, is a fictitious town but very much based on the small market town of Loughborough which is where I grew up. Some may wonder why I didn’t just stick to Loughborough. I would have liked to – only the town needed to be in easy reach of London and a short distance to the south.

One of the most prominent locations in ‘Same Face Different Place’ is the Community Centre. It is the place where Eleanor works as a volunteer – but it was actually inspired by a place called ‘John Storer House,’ where I worked for a while. In 1989, I worked there as ‘Information Officer’ responsible for running the Information Centre and producing in-house leaflets such as ‘Hotels and Guest Houses’ and lists of self-help groups. It was a varied role as well as one of the most enjoyable jobs, I have ever had.

John Storer House

The manager, Bernard Smith, was a kind man and possibly inspired some of the book’s more virtuous characters such as Bernard James (manager of Toynbee Hall in Book 1 Beginningsand his protégée, Peter Summerville. I was impressed when he and his wife opened up the Community Centre on Christmas Day, mainly for those less fortunate (such as the elderly and the lonely) as a social hub where they could enjoy a little company and get a Christmas dinner.

What influences came into Pleasures?

Some of the Community Liaison officers are based on real people. Being a Community Centre, John Storer house was a nucleus for the multi-cultural society of Loughborough. In the year I worked there, we were invited to have dinner at the house of a Muslim girl, whose family prepared us a wonderful buffet and couldn’t have made us feel more welcome. That same year, I managed to wangle about 5 Christmas dinners, including a special lunch for the volunteers and a meal at our local Hindu temple.

I saw this Community Centre as the microcosm of a perfect world. People from all cultures and religions getting together to eat, drink, celebrate and generally have a great time together. Oh, if only, this was true across the globe! 

The best thing about John Storer House was that it was run by a really nice bunch of people – many of whom were volunteers. It was designed to promote good causes, it was home to the CAB and WRVS as well as being a drop-in centre for the elderly.

In the context of ‘Same Face Different Place,’ Rosebrook Community Centre is managed by a man named Peter, a counsellor, a man so caring, he is almost saint like (though he hides a dark past – an abused runaway from a Catholic run Care Home in Ireland, Peter hides the fact that he was also once an IRA supporter.)

The one thing I learned from my employment at John Storer House, was that people from all backgrounds could mingle and support each other. We live in a world of varied cultures where we should respect each other; form a society based on friendship, not hate.

Same Face Different Place is a mystery suspense thriller which unravels over 4 decades, but at the core of the book is a group of wronged individuals who join forces to create their own perfect community – yet overshadowed by the deadliest of enemies.

Look out for Book 3 Pleasures, with free prelude, ‘The Battle for the Land’ soon to be released.

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