Blog Tour: Dark Waters by Mary-Jane Riley

Hi everyone,

Today I’m thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for Dark Waters by Mary-Jane Riley and I have a great post from Mary-Jane for you all further down. First though, the all-important bookish information!

About the author:

mary-jane riley

Mary-Jane wrote her first story on her newly acquired blue Petite typewriter. She was eight. It was about a gang of children who had adventures on mysterious islands, but she soon realised Enid Blyton had cornered that particular market. So she wrote about the Wild West instead. When she grew up she had to earn a living, and became a BBC radio talk show presenter and journalist. She has covered many life-affirming stories, but also some of the darkest events of the past two decades. Mary-Jane has three grown-up children and lives in Suffolk with her husband and two golden retrievers.

DARK WATERS is her third crime thriller featuring investigative journalist, Alex Devlin.


Twitter: @mrsmjriley

Instagram: maryjanerileyauthor


About the book:

Cover Dark Waters

Secrets lie beneath the surface…

Two men, seemingly unconnected, are discovered dead in a holiday boat on the Norfolk Broads, having apparently committed suicide together.

Local journalist Alex Devlin, planning an article on the dangers of internet suicide forums, starts digging into their backgrounds.

But Alex’s investigation soon leads her to a much darker mystery – one that will hit closer to home than she could possibly have imagined, and place the lives of those she loves in terrible danger.

Dark Waters by Mary-Jane Riley

And now, over to Mary-Jane…

I can’t believe DARK WATERS is my third book and that it’s been three years since my agent called me to say that Killer Reads/Harper Collins had offered me a contract for my first book, THE BAD THINGS (now I’ve just got to think of a  way of squeezing the name of my second book, AFTER SHE FELL, into that sentence…). Writers often talk about the long and winding road to publication – the difficulties, the rejections, the blood, sweat and tears, and all that is true (except for those who strike it lucky first go … grrr), but do you know what? What? I hear you cry (I hope). I have learned even more over these last three years that I would like to share with you….

  1. Trust your instinct.

I wrote a book to send to agents. I wrote a prologue for said book, then I read a lot of stuff about how agents/publishers/uncle Tom Cobbley and all didn’t like prologues. I took the prologue out. The lovely person who was to become my agent asked for some revisions on the manuscript, then said ‘I think you need a prologue”. Reader, the prologue went back in.

An extreme example of not following my instinct came some time after the prologue incident. I wanted to get my book to my agent (a different one). My instinct was telling me, nay screaming at me, that I should read the whole thing again because the book wasn’t ready, wasn’t polished enough. I knew it in my gut. But what did I do? I sent it. It was returned with a very stiff admonishment and a long bruising phone call. I polished that book.



Don’t fret about other people’s deals/success/prizes.

Therein lies madness and the waste of several hours on social media and Amazon stalking the author and wondering why your book isn’t racing up the charts/in the Sunday Times/the subject of a bidding war (actually, a little boast here: my first book was the subject of a bidding war in Germany and it was very exciting!). You have to remember that people put their best faces on Facebook, and the best bits of their writing lives on Twitter. No-one talks about falling sales or publishing deals falling through in a public space… if they do, point me at ‘em! No, the best thing to do is put your head down and write your book and make it the very best you can. Ignore the success stories, they really are few and far between.



Turn off the WiFi

This advice is everywhere, but it does bear repeating. Social Media is a total time-suck. If I leave the wifi on, I find that I look at social media every two minutes when I’m writing a difficult scene or I don’t know where I’m going next. As if watching a BGT performer from Romania will help! Turn it off, keep it off. Of course, it’s a bit difficult when you need to do some research – I do mine as I go along – because it has to go back on. And then it’s just a little look at a couple of cute cat/dog/baby videos….



I can call myself an author


Yes, I can! Three books in and it starts to feel as though I’m not the biggest imposter in the world. Possibly.




Every. Step. Of. The. Way. (I usually hate seeing separate words punctuated by full stops, but it seems appropriate in this case). This was my agent’s very good advice. It’s a huge thing, writing a book. When you finish, celebrate. When you get an agent, celebrate. A publisher? Celebrate. Self-published? Celebrate. Finished editing? Celebrate. You get my drift?



The support of readers and bloggers

Invaluable. I didn’t realise how many people would see my books, would read my books, and it has been so exciting. It is always fabulous to get reviews (as long as they are nice, thank you very much). It was lovely after the first book was published to get messages from people I had worked with saying how great it was to read my books (especially as I had plundered their names for characters) and friends I hadn’t seen for many years got in touch to say they were buying my books (whether they read them is another matter, but they have bought all my books so far).

And as for book bloggers, your enthusiasm and hard work is amazing and I can’t thank you enough. You treat each book you review/read/host on a tour as though it was the only book in the world at that moment. I don’t know where you get your time and energy from, but I thank you from the bottom of my heart.



Huge thanks to Mary-Jane for such an insightful post, and I wish you all the best with Dark Waters 🙂

Check out the other fab blogs taking part in the tour:

Blog Tour - Dark Waters

Caimh McDonnell’s Last Orders~Guest Post

Hi guys,

Today I’m bringing you another laugh out loud guest post from Irish author Caimh McDonnell. While I haven’t read this series (YET, dear reader!!!), I know Ellen and plenty of other fab folk have, and raved about them all. Here’s all you need to know about Caimh and his books…


Caimh McDonnell is an award-winning stand-up comedian, author and writer of televisual treats. Born in Limerick and raised in Dublin, he has taken the hop across the water and now calls Manchester his home.

He is a man who wears many hats. As well as being an author, he is an award-winning writer for TV, a stand-up comedian and ‘the voice’ of London Irish rugby club. His debut novel, A Man with One of Those Faces, which was nominated for a CAP Award in 2017, is the first book of the Dublin Trilogy series. The sequel and prequel, The Day That Never Come and Angels in the Moonlight, were published in 2017. The books are fast-paced crime thrillers set in Caimh’s hometown of Dublin and they are laced with distinctly Irish acerbic wit.

Caimh’s TV writing credits include The Sarah Millican Television Programme,A League of Their Own, Mock the Week and Have I Got News for You. He also works as a children’s TV writer and was BAFTA nominated for the animated series ‘Pet Squad’ which he created.

During his time on the British stand-up circuit, Caimh has firmly established himself as the white-haired Irishman whose name nobody can pronounce. He has brought the funny worldwide, doing stand-up tours of the Far East, the Middle East and Near East (Norwich).

Follow Caimh’s witterings on @Caimh

Facebook:  @CaimhMcD

As I mentioned above, my super guest reviewer Ellen has read and reviewed the first three books, and you can check out her reviews by clicking the links below:

A Man With One Of Those Faces by Caimh McDonnell

The Day That Never Comes by Caimh McDonnell

Angels in the Moonlight by Caimh McDonnell 

The last book in this series is Last Orders, and it is out now, published by McFori Ink. Here’s what you need to know about that one:


As a wise man once said, just because you’re done with the past, doesn’t mean the past is done with you.

Paul can’t let an incident from his past go. When he finds out a rival detective agency played a key role in it, he drags MCM Investigations into a blood feud that they can’t hope to win. Soon they’re faced with the prospect of the company going out of business and Brigit going out of her damn mind.

When long-buried bodies are discovered in the Wicklow Mountains, Bunny’s past starts closing in on him too. Who can he trust when he can’t even trust himself? When he finds himself with nowhere left to run and nobody he can turn to, will the big fella make the ultimate sacrifice to protect the ones he loves?

When all that’s left is the fall, the fall is everything.

And even the mighty fall.

Last Orders is the thrilling conclusion of the critically acclaimed Dublin Trilogy, which melds fast-paced action with a distinctly Irish acerbic wit. It’s best enjoyed having read the other books in the series, particularly the prequel Angels in the Moonlight.

Click the links below to order your copy now:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

A Blurbering Wreck

People often ask me ‘what’s the hardest thing about being a writer’?  To be clear, that isn’t the most common question I get asked, in fact those are;

1/ How do you say your name?

2/ Are you going to buy that pie?  You can’t just stand there and ogle it.

3/ Seriously, that’s how you say your name?

4/ Have you seen the packet of biscuits that was just here?

5/ Are you absolutely sure that’s how you say your name?

But number 6 is that question about what’s the hardest thing about being a writer. Prepare to be shocked, but it’s the writing. I know, who could’ve seen that coming? The follow-up question is generally along the lines of ‘which bit of the writing?’

That’s a bit trickier. For me it’s not fight scenes – although my editor did give me a strict ‘one nut shot per novel’ rule, it’s not argument scenes – you should meet my family, and it’s not even love scenes – although to be fair, while there is reference to nookie in my books, I’m far too bashful-lapsed-Catholic to go into what-goes-where details, as I’d imagine is clear from my insistence in referring to sex as ‘nookie’.

No the hardest bit of the book to write isn’t actually even in the book, it is on the back cover. I cannot describe how utterly tortuous it is to write the blurb. It’s not supposed to be a summary, you’ve got to make it sound exciting, it has to capture the spirit of the book, you have to put a question in the reader’s mind that they need answered, you can’t use the word gobshite or certain retailers get upset – it’s an absolute minefield.

In fact, there’s an argument to be made that the worst person to write the blurb for a book is the person who actually wrote the book. You’re simply too close to it. It’s incredibly difficult to boil down what you think is good about it into a few pithy sentences. In all honesty, it’s a bit like trying to write a dating profile for your own partner. Actually, that’d be easier (woman with the patience of a saint seeks nice person for strictly no-nookie relationship who knows how to fix the light in the utility room. No Carls from run club need apply).

Just the thought of writing another blurb is far more intimidating than the idea of writing another 100k word novel. I do wonder if the difficult back-cover ballet is part of the reason for those annoying ‘This is a twisty thriller with a twist that you won’t see coming’ subtitles that seem to have become so popular. With no disrespect to any author who uses them, as clearly they must work, but I can’t be the only person who is turned off by them? I’m really tempted to put a book out with the subtitle ‘It’s got a beginning, a middle and an end, all of which happen where you’d expect but there’s a dog in it, that people really like.’ Or perhaps, ‘this is a novel, it’s got a plot and some characters, that’s what a novel is’ or who can forget, ‘the book everyone is talking about, the one that finally reveals once and for all where Wally is.’

My point ,dear reader, is that you must respect that we authors are tortured souls and we’re giving blood, sweat and tears all in the hope of entertaining you and of course ‘giving you a shockingly shocking twist that you won’t see coming’. If you take nothing else away from this, please do remember not to judge a book by its back cover and also, Carl from run club is a creep and I don’t trust him. I’m pretty sure he has a twist I do see coming.

As always, many thanks to Caimh for a funny and insightful guest post, and to the lovely Elaine at McFori Ink for having both myself and Ellen along for Bunny’s journey! 🙂

You guys can check out Ellen’s review on the blog soon too!

Happy reading!

Blog Blitz~ Stateline by Dave Stanton

Hi everyone,

I’m taking part in the blog blitz for Stateline today and I get to share a guest post from Dave Stanton with you all!

About the author:


Born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1960, Dave Stanton moved to Northern California in 1961. He attended San Jose State University and received a BA in journalism in 1983. Over the years, he worked as a bartender, newspaper advertising salesman, furniture mover, debt collector, and technology salesman. He has two children, Austin and Haley, and lives with his wife, Heidi, in San Jose, California.

Stanton is the author of six novels, all featuring private investigator Dan Reno and his ex-cop buddy, Cody Gibbons.

Twitter: @DanRenoNovels

About the book:


Cancel the wedding. The groom is dead.

When a tycoon’s son is murdered the night before his wedding, the grief-stricken father offers private detective Dan Reno a life-changing bounty to find the killer.

Reno, who is nearly broke, decides he’s finally found himself in the right place at the right time. But when a band of crooked cops get involved, Reno finds himself fighting for his life.

Who committed the murder, and why? Which cops can he trust, if any?

Haunted by his murdered father and a violent past, Reno wants no more blood on his hands. But a man’s got to make a living, and backing off is not in his DNA.

Traversing the snowy alpine winter in the Sierras and the lonely deserts of Nevada, Reno must revert to his old ways to survive. Because the bounty won’t do him much good if he’s dead.



It was 2001, and the bubble was bursting. My timing was bad – a few months previous I had left a steady job to work for a “promising” startup that offered more money. As a salesman, I quickly realized the product they hired me to sell was doomed. I drew this conclusion despite claims otherwise by some smart (and temporarily wealthy) people. Like many during that time, they had been sucked into an illusion.


I sat at my cubicle in Silicon Valley, California, regretful, certain I’d be unemployed soon. The customers I’d been assigned had all considered my proposals and firmly declined. I had nothing to do, and the boredom was killing me. Spontaneously, I started writing.


Three months later I was at a new gig, one that involved regular travel to Asia. I sat on a jet over the Pacific Ocean, hunched over my notebook, typing like a mad man. The paragraph I had written while employed at the now defunct company had become a novel, and the first draft was nearly finished.


Many of the characters and situations I write about come from a time when my companions were irreverent and reckless, and I participated willingly in endeavors that for a few had permanent consequences. These episodes occurred in places like Sacramento, Reno, Salt Lake City, and Ely, Nevada. Some of my old friends are respectable citizens today, others are in and out of jail, and some didn’t make it.


Stateline, like the other five novels in the Dan Reno series, is hard-boiled detective fiction. The action and characters are just as gritty as the Western U.S. locales where the story takes place. Readers who enjoy the novels of authors such as Lee Child, Robert Crais, and Elmore Leonard often write me to offer praise for Stateline.

Check out the other blogs on the blitz:

B L O G B L I T Z (1).png



~Blog Blitz~ A Matter of Love and Death by Caron Albright

Hi everyone,

Today I’m one of a few blogs taking part in the blog blitz for Caron Albright’s A Matter of Love and Death, and I’ve got a great guest post from the author to share with you all!

About the author:


Caron Albright fell in love with books as soon as she could read and never grew out of it. With one foot firmly planted in Fictionland ever since, she is moving from one adventure to the next (strictly on the paper of course).

She loves capers with feisty heroines, dashing heroes with a dangerous edge and thrilling locations and would gladly explore the world for the sake of research – preferably while tap-dancing, with a champagne glass in her hand.

Instead she spends her time in front of her keyboard, sipping herbal tea.

When she feels the need for a change, she switches to coffee and writing crime novels under the name Carmen Radtke.



About the book:

Caron Albright - A Matter of Love and Death_cover_1

Adelaide, 1931. Telephone switchboard operator Frances’ life is difficult as sole provider for her mother and adopted uncle. But it’s thrown into turmoil when she overhears a suspicious conversation on the phone, planning a murder.

If a life is at risk, she should tell the police; but that would mean breaking her confidentiality clause and would cost her the job. And practical Frances, not prone to flights of fancy, soon begins to doubt the evidence of her own ears – it was a very bad line, after all…

She decides to put it behind her, a task helped by the arrival of their new lodger, Phil. Phil takes her to a night club, where she meets charming but slightly dangerous club owner Jack. Jack’s no angel – prohibition is in force, and what’s a nightclub without champagne? But he’s a good man, and when Frances’ earlier fears resurface she knows that he’s the person to confide in.

Frances and Jack’s hunt for the truth puts them in grave danger, and soon enough Frances will learn that some things are a matter of love and death…


Guest Post:

Picking up the pen

By Caron Albright


Hands up if you, dear reader, ever wanted to be a writer. Odds are, your finger is either slowly pointing skywards, or you already have something finished, or a WIP (work in progress), or both.

Congratulations, you’re in good and, most of all, sympathetic company.

I don’t even remember the transition from voracious reader to budding writer; as a child it seemed logical that, if words on paper took you into another world, all I needed were pen and paper. No, don’t ask how many words I found that rhymed with spring (the poetry of an eight-year old). Let me say in my defence that the short story I wrote about the hamster and the stolen raw diamonds hidden among his food pellets could have become an instant classic, had I at age twelve not been blissfully unaware of the concept of a second or third draft. But at least it was original, and intended as an homage to Agatha Christie whose works already filled up a complete shelf in my room.

And that was it, for years, until I trained as a print reporter, constantly battling ever tighter deadlines. By then I was aware of the benefits of a second or third draft, but too time-strapped to do more than a five-minute polish.

This became my greatest obstacle when I finally found the courage to turn to fiction writing. I was so used to cranking out impressive numbers of words on a daily basis and coming up with idea after idea, if research on of them needed postponing, or events made them obsolete, that it was hard taking my time.

But – unless you are tied into a contract with strict deadlines – there’s no need for a mad rush, if your story isn’t quite there yet. By all means write, write as much as you can, but don’t beat yourself up if the words don’t flow. Or if what sounds utterly perfect in your head, doesn’t look as great on the page.

The best advice I ever had was, first get it written and then get it right. You’re allowed to type or scribble bad sentences, dig plot-holes large enough to hide an elephant in and let your characters wallow around in clichés (the same goes for poets, screenwriters, playwrights, novelists, non-fiction writers, diarists). It doesn’t matter if your work is never intended for the public or something that you will keep buried in a drawer. Allow yourself the freedom to write. Then read it, laugh, cry or bemoan you utter lack of talent (every writer I know tends to wallow in despair in between short-lived bursts of elation). And then get feedback.

There are more writers’ groups out there than ever, either meeting face to face (google them or ask at your local libraries), or join one of the many online groups.

Don’t ask your family or your best friends. Even if (that’s a big if) they possess all the qualities of a good reader and point out weaknesses, inconsistencies, logic errors, or praise your wit, sharp plots and lively dialogue, you will either feel hurt or insecure that they only want to spare their feelings.

Step away if critique turns into an attack of your work. Even the clumsiest effort deserves respect. Be respectful in return. Rejoice in your friends’ successes and support them in the low moments.

Don’t show your work to anyone if you can’t bear rejection. But most of all, love the writing. And please, please, please, whatever you do, stay a reader. There is no greater comfort escape, and means of enlightenment than a book. And if you have read Terry Pratchett’s ‘Carpe Jugulum’, you will find out that a book can save you in more ways than you probably dreamt of.

Follow the blog blitz:


Guest Post: Why My Main Character Has Cerebral Palsy by Richard Rippon

Hey guys,

Today is publication day for Lord Of The Dead by Richard Rippon, and I have a guest post from him for you all to read! First though, here’s the all-important bookish information you need to know!

Press Release:


On the 3rd November 2017, a thrilling new voice in contemporary British crime-fiction will emerge.


A woman’s body has been found on the moors of Northumberland, brutally murdered and grotesquely dismembered. Northumbria police enlist the help of unconventional university psychologist Jon Atherton, a decision complicated by his personal history with lead investigator Detective Sergeant Kate Prejean. 


As Christmas approaches and pressure mounts on the force, Prejean and Atherton’s personal lives begin to unravel as they find themselves the focus of media attention, and that of the killer known only as Son Of Geb. 


Lord Of The Dead is a gripping, electrifying piece of modern noir fiction.


“A stunning novel. If Thomas Harris was to write a British take on the Nordic-Noir genre, this would be it. Rippon is an exciting new voice in British crime fiction.” 

Nathan O’Hagan, author of ‘The World Is (Not) A Cold Dead Place’



Why My Main Character Has Cerebral Palsy


Before I started writing it, I had some ideas of the things I wanted to achieve with my novel. I wanted it to be firmly set in the North East, but I didn’t want it to feel small-town. I wanted to create a pacy thriller, but have an interesting and unique premise. I wanted it to have a gritty noir feel, but have almost cinematic moments, which would make the most of the Northumberland setting. Most importantly, I wanted the characters, and particularly my protagonist, to be as realistic – but as different and engaging – as possible.


I hit upon the idea of creating a younger version of my Uncle Jim, a retired accountant who happens to have a razor-sharp intellect, a great sense of humour and a wicked turn of phrase, which I thought would work well on the page. He also happens to be affected by cerebral palsy.


Although I initially planned to simply transplant parts of his personality into an able-bodied person, it didn’t feel right to airbrush his disability away, to just cherry-pick certain aspects of his personality for the convenience of the book. Disabled people are still woefully under-represented on TV and in literature. For example, around 5% of TV characters have a disability, compared to 16% in the UK. When they are represented, they’re rarely given substantial storylines. I wanted my character to be front and centre – the lead, the hero – not the quirky sidekick behind the scenes.    


And so, Jon Atherton was born. While I wanted to include his disability, I didn’t want this to be the sole focus, I wanted it to be more incidental. Yes, it’s part of him, but just one part. I went on to add some significant embellishments, until Jon stopped being a version of Jim, and took a life of his own.


Of course the fictional Jon’s disability is something that has shaped him in part. He has memories of being bullied, and a complicated relationship with his parents that stems from this, but it isn’t his defining characteristic. He’s a bit of a lad – a sexual being, with a fondness for female company – and has an interesting psychological makeup, which makes him well-suited to hunt down killers. He’s also not without his flaws. He’s witty, but sometimes his sarcasm can be hurtful and inappropriate. He’s been unfaithful to a wife who is still suffering from post-partum depression, and their relationship is still in recovery.       


Atherton having CP presented a few practical problems. He probably couldn’t be the cop I first envisaged. Instead, he’d be a university professor who specialises in serial killers. There’d be no chase scenes, or sliding over car bonnets in the pursuit of criminals. Instead, his input would be rely on his intellect, aided by a female partner, and police team who’d step in when things got physical.


Another problem was that I didn’t know enough about the day-to-day implications of living with cerebral palsy. I felt like a bit of a charlatan. What right did I have to write with any kind of authenticity about what it would be like to have a lifelong condition such as CP? I turned to Twitter for help, and found someone who helped me better understand how CP feels, and the frustrations that can come with it.


In the end, I think my decision to introduce Jon Atherton was the right one. I’ll never be the best-qualified to write with absolute authority about life with CP, but I can at least try to contribute a believable and compelling hero who happens to live with a disability.

Many thanks to Richard Rippon for this great post, and to Nathan O’Hagan of Obliterati Press!

You can pick up a copy of Lord Of The Dead by clicking the link below:

Lord Of The Dead by Richard Rippon

~Blog Tour Guest Post~ Mike Thomas @ItDaFiveOh @BonnierZaffre #Unforgivable

Hi everyone,

Today is my turn on the blog tour for Unforgivable by Mike Thomas and I’ve got a great post from Mike for you all to read a little further down. First though, here’s all the bookish information you need to know!

About the book:


Bombs detonate in a busy souk, causing massive devastation. 
An explosion rips apart a mosque, killing and injuring those inside. 
But this isn’t the Middle East – this is Cardiff . . . 

In a city where tensions are already running high, DC Will MacReady and his colleagues begin the desperate hunt for the attacker. If they knew the ‘why’, then surely they can find the ‘who’? But that isn’t so easy, and time is fast running out . . .

MacReady is still trying to prove himself after the horrific events of the previous year, which left his sergeant injured and his job in jeopardy, so he feels sidelined when he’s asked to investigate a vicious knife attack on a young woman.

But all is not as it seems with his new case, and soon MacReady must put everything on the line in order to do what is right.

Out now from Bonnier Zaffre, click  HERE to get your copy!

About the author:

Mike Thomas 1

Mike Thomas was born in Wales in 1971. For more than two decades he served in the police, working some of Cardiff ’s busiest neighbourhoods in uniform, public order units, drugs teams and CID. He left the force in 2015 to write full time.

His debut novel, ‘Pocket Notebook’, was published by William Heinemann (Penguin Random House) and longlisted for the Wales Book of the Year. The author was also named as one of Waterstones’ ‘New Voices’ for 2010. His second novel, ‘Ugly Bus’, is currently in development for a six part television series with the BBC.

The first in the MacReady series of novels, ‘Ash and Bones’, was released August 2016 by Bonnier Zaffre. ‘Unforgivable’, the second in the series, is released in July 2017.

He lives in the wilds of Portugal with his wife and two children.

Follow the author on Twitter at @ItDaFiveOh. More details can be found on the website



The Writing Process


Some writers like to have a set routine. Some can’t operate unless they do the same thing day in, day out. You know, bounce out of bed at six in the morning, make a coffee then type away until noon, not stopping until they hit their word count target. Then it’s some lunch and social media and rewriting other stuff and finally a late evening stroll, possibly wearing something corduroy.

My writing life, in comparison, is chaotic. I’ve moved house half a dozen times in the last seven years, and within each new home I – for various incredibly tedious reasons like decorating and family coming to stay and that one time I got electrocuted – have had to constantly move ‘office’. As a result, I don’t really have a fixed writing place – at the moment it’s a desk in the corner of my bedroom, which is handy for rolling from under the duvet to my chair – never mind a ‘process’. It’s more of a very rough and ragged list of things I need – or need to do – in order to get a few words out. No writing-based profundity here, I’m afraid!

So here they are, in all their glory.


  • I always aim for one thousand words each session. I stay there and type until I hit my target. It might be sunny outside and ripe for a walk. Netflix might have dropped a new episode of Orange is the New Black. I might not have argued with anybody on Twitter for at least an hour. I KEEP WRITING. All that fun stuff can come later.
  • I turn all notifications off. Everything. Gong noises and whoops and alarms sounding plus envelopes and red dots popping up everywhere is just distracting, like having toddlers tugging at your ankles every five minutes, demanding attention. Off they go. Sometimes I forget to turn them back on, and lose followers on Twitter. Sorry everyone.
  • Tea. I like tea. Lots and lots of tea, piping hot with two sugars to help bring on Type 2 Diabetes when I reach fifty. This is a holdover from my policing days, when we used to drink urns of the stuff in the nick then laugh and laugh as our stomachs burbled and wobbled while we wrestled with drunks.
  • A window. One with a nice view so you can turn from the screen for a quick break and stroke your chin while thinking Fancy Writing Thoughts, or perhaps whether you should get a haircut as it’s a bit long (fact: I once spent an hour mulling this over). Anyway, I live in Portugal, and until mid-June this year I had a lovely view of bright blue sky and red roof tiles and shimmering eucalyptus trees but then the whole bloody country caught fire so now I get to see ash and charred tree trunks disappearing into the distance. Which is nice.
  • I cannot keep writing a single, hugely lengthy document such as a novel manuscript, typing new scenes and chapters as I go. I get completely lost, and as I am also incapable of using ‘writing software’ such as Scrivener, this is the only way I can do it: I write the chapters separately, working and reworking them until I’m completely happy they’re not utter rubbish. It is only then that I add them to a ‘first draft’ of the manuscript. In other words, they don’t get in the club unless they’re good…
  • I have a particular way of formatting the page – chapter headings, scene breaks, font (Times New Roman, every time) and so on. I can’t write if it’s not right. This will come across as a tad weird and borderline OCD, but I simply cannot create, darling, if things aren’t perfect. What I really mean is, I try to replicate the look of a novel, even if the MS is in its embryonic stage. It just helps me along a little, knowing what the thing will look like when – if – published…
  • I like to work on the latest novel in the afternoon. I am awful in the morning, a complete waste of space – staggering around, grumbling and unable to form a coherent thought, never mind sentence. So first I work on my other job as a writer-for-hire, doing travel pieces and ‘The Best Bartending School in Brisbane’ type articles. It pays the bills, and it also gets the rusted cogs turning in my head, so by the afternoon I’m raring to go for several hours. Or to stare out of the window at toasted countryside.
  • See the above regarding Scrivener. Several years ago my wife, oh so hilariously, told me she’d purchased a Scrivener subscription to help me write my debut novel, ‘Pocket Notebook’. Turned out to be a long roll of wallpaper lining where I could ‘do’ flowcharts and other plot-related stuff, using the handy set of pencils she’d also bought. But the last laugh was on her, because I now use it every time I begin to prep a new novel. I hang it – crammed full of flowcharts, bullet points, scribbles and thoughts – on the wall right in front of my desk in the bedroom, which is terribly unsightly and drives her mad. That’ll learn her, eh?



Many thanks to Mike for this great post, and to Emily at Bonnier Zaffre for having me on the tour! Make sure to check out the rest of the tour too! 🙂

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Dads and Daughters~ Guest post from Caz Frear

Hi everyone,

Today I have a great guest post from Caz Frear, author of Sweet Little Lies. Now before I get to that, I need to share the all-important bookish information!

About the book:

Sweet Little Lies


In 1998, Maryanne Doyle disappeared and Dad knew something about it?
Maryanne Doyle was never seen again.


In 1998, Dad lied about knowing Maryanne Doyle.
Alice Lapaine has been found strangled near Dad’s pub.
Dad was in the local area for both Maryanne Doyle’s disappearance and Alice Lapaine’s murder – FACT

Trust cuts both ways . . . what do you do when it’s gone?

Click HERE to get your copy!

About the author:

Caz Frear

Caz Frear is the winner of Richard and Judy’s Search for a Bestseller and Sweet Little Lies is her first novel.





There’s a scene I cut from Sweet Little Lies where Cat is standing in a shop on Christmas Eve, agonising over which Christmas card to begrudgingly buy for her dad.  It was one of those scenes that I absolutely loved working on but something wasn’t quite sitting right so I cut it out, put it back, cut it out, put it back, and so on, until I finally realised what the problem was, and it was so simple – much as the scene had lots of dark comic potential, Cat would never buy her Dad a Christmas card, not even to keep the peace with her sister.  I mean, let’s be honest, she’s not exactly full of greeting-card sentiment for him.


It got me thinking though about dads and daughters, about the complicated, hard-to-articulate relationships that women can sometimes have with their fathers – relationships that don’t exactly fit with the artificial sentiments poured down our throats by the greeting-card industry every Christmas, birthday, Father’s Day, etc.  Incidentally, I’m writing this as Father’s Day fast approaches so it’ll soon be me dithering in Clintons/Paperchase/the slightly crap card section in my local off-licence, over what conveys if not exactly the perfect message, simply one that isn’t cloying and patently untrue.


Because what if your dad isn’t the ‘Best Dad Ever!’ by generally perceived standards?  What if he isn’t ‘The King of the House!’ or your ‘All-time Hero!’?  What if he lacks humour and doesn’t appreciate a jokey card that reminds him how you regularly rinse him of all his money/’borrow’ his car keys/test his patience.  What if he tests yours?  Taps you up for money?  Crushes your self-esteem with his sneery disapproval for every life choice you’ve made.


*Disclaimer – my dad is an absolute rock-star, one of my favourite people to hang out with, and he does none of the above, and yet….and yet……it’s complicated, as a lot of dad-daughter relationships are.  Anything too slushy or complimentary of his parenting skills feels a bit phoney, to be honest.  And the jokey cards never strike the right tone either.  They all seem to reference a) golf, gardening or gadgets which is SO not my dad or b) the fact that he’s inferior to Mum in just about every way – which isn’t in great humour when you take into account they’ve been divorced for the past twenty-five years!


So what would the ideal card say?  


‘Dad, you’ve f*cked up a bit but haven’t we all, don’t worry about it!’  


Ultimately, I think mine would say,


“I am me and you are you, and neither of us will change much now which is fine.  I love you.”  


I think this is what I was aiming for at the end of Sweet Little Lies.  It felt too big a jump for Cat and her dad to reconcile fully, but it was important for her to accept that dads are rarely ‘All-time Heroes.’   Instead they’re human and they’re flawed and capable of misery-making as much as the next person.  I knew I definitely didn’t want a happy ending for them, as such, just for Cat to be ok with the fact that their relationship is complicated and probably always will be.    


Because complicated doesn’t have to mean fraught.  And it doesn’t have to mean non-existent.  It just means accepting that ‘The Most Flawed Dad Ever!’ can still be ‘The Best Dad Ever!’ if you’re prepared to accept him for who he is, rather than who Mr Clinton and Mrs Paperchase tell you he should be.

 Catch up with the blog tour: