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77003_10151392040405761_600945175_nThere are some amazing reads available from the Crooked Cat collection, in lots of different genres. Pop over and have a look!


A Christmas treat or two

Holmfirth IMG_3464m

Holmfirth IMG_3464m (Photo credit: Philip Talmage)

At our recent Holmfirth Writers’ Group meeting, Mary Walker lead us in a “fan-ficwriting workshop. Richard Raby wrote this wonderful story, as a result. I know you’ll be able to guess which classic fiction it was based on!

“Bump, bump, bump . . .

“What’s that big thing Poet?” said Playwright.

“It’s the Writers’ Block said Pooh and we’re going on an Expedition to get rid of it”

“What’s an Expition, Playwright?”

“It’s when you go off in search of Inspiration”, said Poet, “and we are going to go together to find it.”

“What does the Inspiritatioin look like, Poet?”

“Nobody knows, but when we find it we’ll know we have.”

“How will we know?”

“We’ll know because it will creep up behind us and suddenly strike us”, said Poet.

“Oh dear, Poet” said Playwright, trembling a little. “I don’t want to be striked by the Inspiritatioin”

“Come along”, said Poet, “you’ll be safe with me”.

Playwright felt a little better for this. “Where shall we start looking, Poet?”

“We’ll go and ask Christopher Author because he’s big and clever and knows everything”.

So, off they went through 100 Page Wood to look for Christopher Author and when they came to the bridge which crosses the Stream of Consciousness Poet said “We’re going to play a game which is called Poet Sticks. We’ll throw the Writers’ Block into the stream then run to the other side and the one whose Inspiration appears first wins the game”.

But the block just sat in the water and the Inspirations didn’t appear so they forgot about the Expedition and went back to Poet’s house where he remembered he had some jars of brandy.

And as they went Poet hummed a little hum to himself: “Isn’t it dandy how a Poet likes brandy – wiz, wiz, wiz, I wonder why that it is?

And Playwright was happy and said “Will we find the Inspiritation tomorrow?” And Poet said “Yes, or another day  . . . because some days it doesn’t want to come, and if it doesn’t want to, you can’t make it”.

“But it will come, won’t it Poet?”

“Oh, yes – it always comes – and if we wait together it will be better than waiting not together because the Inspiration knows how to hide from people who are looking for it the hardest. So we’ll go and hum a ‘We don’t mind if we find you or not’ sort of hum and then it will think we don’t care about it and it will come to us because even the Inspiration wants to be friends sometimes.”

“But we’ll always be friends, won’t we, Poet?”

“More than always” said Poet “because being friends is longer than forever and better than best”

“That’s good”, said Playwright.

“Yes”, said Poet, “isn’t it?”

Breaking is now up and running. It’s a brand new website to help readers find new books to match their reading tastes. And authors, why not add details for your books?

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A Cure for “Writers’ Dip”

“And this is another great thing about being a writer, that nothing you do in your life ever goes to waste. You cut it out in little stars and scatter it into the heaven of everything you write.” -Anne Shakespeare.  This is a quote from The Secret Confessions of Anne Shakespeare, written by Arliss Ryan and copied from her website.

I love writing. I’ve felt privileged to have the opportunity to create worlds and characters, tell stories and share ideas.

This banner was created using quotes from some of Once Removed's brilliant reviews.

This banner was created using quotes from some of Once Removed’s brilliant reviews.

BUT I don’t love marketing and promotion. Worse, I’m terrible at it. So even though my debut novel, Once Removed, has had loads of brilliant reviews, after the initial flurry sales have slowed down.

cover LLLPeople who read my memoir, A Life Less Lost, came back and bought more copies to give to friends (even my neighbour, who once told me she thought reading was a waste of time, has bought 3 copies to give away) but sales have been in the hundreds and not the thousands.

The frustrating drudgery of trying to persuade folk to part with their money to read my books has caused a deep dark “writers’ dip”, making it very difficult to write the next one. It’s not that I want to be famous ~ I DON’T. And it’s not the money. The problem is that no publisher will take the risk or put in the work to publish books that won’t sell because the author won’t/can’t do their share. And I have no wish to self-publish or to spend months/years writing a book no one will read.

And then today, something wonderful happened. A brilliant new review appeared on Amazon and has encouraged me to keep trying:

Once Removed is an incredibly powerful book dealing with great sensitivity issues ORcoverpbthat shocked, moved and saddened me by turns. It is an astounding debut by KB Walker.

The storyline follows two main characters, schoolgirl Beth and her teacher, Abby. Their two strands are told in alternating points of view as Abby, believing her pupil to be self-harming, reaches out to Beth.

Based in a small town, the growing friendship between teacher and pupil is watched with suspicion and, when Beth disappears, Abby becomes the target of a hate campaign by her neighbours and the local press.

The two intertwined storylines deal with fear and self-loathing, dysfunctional families and various forms of bullying and pressure to please others, but the novel also makes the reader look critically at the way society and individuals are quick to jump to damaging conclusions without being in possession of all the facts.

Without including spoilers it is difficult to say more, but what I will say is this: when I woke I reached out for my kindle before my eyes were properly open. I finished the book this morning and have not been able to get the characters and their lives out of my head ever since. Abby, Beth, their family and friends, became so real to me that I find myself hoping they each find their own way to redemption and healing.

Characters living on after the book is finished? That’s the sign of a first-rate author in control of her material.

The Homeschoolers

A Vector Comic Book Explosion Background with StarsBlurb:

“Life is too big to squeeze into a weekend.” That’s what “half-heathen” public school misfit, Christina Begoni, learns after a bout of Spanish class diarrhea has her escaping into the arms of a holy-rolling homeschool group. With her mustachioed, evil genius brother and cute redneck bully in tow, Christina joins innocent homeschoolers, Sunny and David on a hilarious and often gripping adventure on the Mississippi River. Experience the thrill and romance of the never-ending weekend with The Homeschoolers.

When I get back to the stand, Sunny says, “You were gone awhile. Did you get lost?”

“I squirted myself!” I announce, quite abruptly.

“When? Just now?” Sunny asks with concern.

David chimes in, “Oh no. You must have stopped at the tamale stand. I could have told you that was going to happen. If you need, I’ve got some Pepto back in the truck.”

“Oh, no. Not right now,” I explain. “Something reminded me of a past incident. I was getting picked on at school because back around Christmas holidays I got really sick. The embarrassing part is that I diarrhea squirted in my freakin’ pants, right in the classroom, in front of everyone!” I’m hysterical with laughter. I have to admit, even though it was the worst thing that has happened to me thus far in life, it’s still hilarious when you hear it said aloud. Kip is still lying on the ground, with his back turned to us, pretending to sleep, but his body is quaking with silent laughter. Sunny and David are stone-faced.

Sunny looks especially puzzled. “I don’t see how that’s funny. You got sick, and then your peers taunted you about it. That is not very nice.”

“That’s what I’m thinking,” David says. “It’s like someone saying, ‘Ha. Ha. You have Hodgkin’s Lymphoma’. I don’t get it.”

“Oh, no. It is funny, but bless you both for thinking otherwise,” I say, pulling David and Sunny to my sides and kissing them both on the cheek. I’ve shared my shameful secret, escaped the hands of my nemesis, and have garnered two allies in Sunny and David. There’s nothing Ricky Kelly could do to bring me down now.

392404Author Bio:

Henry Circle is a Mississippi native, a freelance writer, a sometime hermit and a most-times loud mouth. She attended homeschool for one glorious year.

Henry is the daughter of actor, John Turturro, a winner of the prestigious Caldecott Medal and former Las Vegas showgirl. None of which is true.

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International Christmas stories

Dip into this latest edition for some delightful and very personal stories from around the world:

Crooked Cat Christmas Newsletter 2012


Murder Mi Amore


Murder, jewel thieves and terrorists intrude on an American woman’s Roman holiday; can she trust the sexy, mysterious Italian man who comes to her aid?

Blurb:Lexie Cortese is in Rome to forget. The last thing she expects is to meet a sexy Interpol agent who suspects her of being part of a terrorist plot involving a stolen diamond. Suddenly thrust into a world of murders, muggings, and kidnappings, Lexie doesn’t know what to think–or who to believe.Dominic Brioni’s assignment is simple. Befriend the American and bring her to justice. Only Lexie seems the most unlikely terrorist Dominic has ever met. Sweet, determined, and direct, she faces life with courage and fire, a fire that sparks his protective instincts and a longing for something more–something he allowed himself to hope for only.

Excerpt:Lexie had started to run to him when someone grabbed her arm, pulling her around. A man, his face hidden by a ski mask, held tightly to her. Her shock ratcheted to fear. “Let go,” she yelled, trying to jerk her arm away from him, but his grip tightened. The dim light from the balcony above illuminated his flat black eyes. She had seen those eyes before. Holy shit. She was in trouble. The masked man grabbed for her purse. She screamed, and with strength she didn’t know she possessed, whammed him on the head with her purse. He staggered back, swearing, and slipped and fell. Lights and freedom beckoned from the nearby Via Corsi, but all Lexie could think about was Dominic. Turning on her heels, she ran to him, slipping on the ancient stones herself as Dominic struggled to stand. But before she could reach him, the mugger caught up with her and grabbed her shoulder, twisting her around. Dominic sprang up and flew at the mugger, knocking him to the ground. The two men grappled, rolling together on the cobbled street. Lexie, her heart thumping wildly, looked for an opening to bean the mugger again, to give Dominic a better chance at overcoming him.

“Stop it! Stop it! Leave him alone!” The mugger ended up on top, and she whaled away with her bag, getting in any shot she could.

Shouts and the slap of running feet vibrated through the alley. The mugger swore, jumped up, and raced away, a few men giving chase. Several others helped Dominic to stand, yelling in excited voices, and gesturing toward where their attacker had disappeared. 

Dominic winced in pain. Lexie looked down at his ripped, blood-soaked pant leg. “Dominic, you’ve got to get to the hospital. You’re bleeding.”

“I’m okay,” he said. “It is nothing.” Brushing dirt off his jacket, he turned to the men and said something in rapid Italian. With nods, they strode away.

Breathing heavily, Lexie disagreed. “You’re not okay. We’ll get a cab and take you to the hospital.”

He cupped her shoulders. “I’ve been through worse. I’m fine. Are you okay? Did he hurt you?”

“No. I’m…” The full impact of what had happened hit her. The adrenaline that had given her strength suddenly dissipated and she began to tremble. “I’m not okay.”

“Lexie.” Dominic moved forward to take her into his arms. She held on for dear life, needing his strength. He rubbed his hand along her back. “It’s okay, Lexie. We’re both okay. You’re safe with me.”

She clung to him. It wasn’t her imagination. Strange things were happening. She had nothing anyone could want. She didn’t know who to trust. Dominic said she was safe with him. But was she really?

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