Tuesday, 22 March 2016

#CoverReveal and #Giveaway: Meddling With Murder by Ellie Campbell

Meddling With Murder by Ellie Campbell
Pages: 350
Series: Crouch End Confidential
Publisher: Across the Pond
Release Date: 9th April 2016
Genre: Cozy Mystery

Blurb:


Crouch End Confidential, the agency started by housewife, Cathy O’Farrell, with ex-cleaner Pimple, is failing badly. Hardly surprising when their only clients are little old ladies seeking lost pets. Until the strange case of the missing dog…



Soon Cathy’s multiple problems include stolen bikes, a possible murder weapon, the sabotage of her friends’ new shop, drug-dealing yobbos targeting her children’s primary school and being forced to pose as the world’s most inept maths tutor. Worse, best friend Rosa hires her to investigate fiancĂ© Alec and – horrors – Cathy’s husband Declan is intent on moving himself, Cathy and kids to the safer climes of rural Norfolk. Suddenly Cathy is endangering her marriage, friendships and her life to untangle these messes. But that’s what you get for meddling with murder…


 Add-To-Goodreads: Meddling With Murder by Ellie Campbell

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Excerpt:

Chapter 1

What the fudge?
The branch creaks alarmingly as I test my weight against it. For a second I think it might snap but then my foot slips and we part company anyway. Bark scrapes another layer off my grazed skin and to my horror I find myself tipping backwards, falling, falling…
Far beneath me my daughter Sophie gives an unwitting squeal, Henrietta’s twins shriek in unison and I hear son Josh call out ‘Mummeeee!’ when as much by luck as design my left arm catches a forked limb long enough for me to grasp it and come to a bone-jolting, shoulder-wrenching stop. Sweat drips down my body, my knees shake uncontrollably and something’s poking between my ribs like a sharpened spear, causing an actual hole through clothes into flesh.
Dangling, I somehow hook one leg round the main trunk and cling there like my life depends on it. Which, for the record, it does.
‘Hang on, Mum!’ Sophie yells for perhaps the fifteenth time. She’d wanted to climb up here but I’d told her it was too dangerous. When will I listen to my own advice?
I stop panting long enough to call down. ‘I’m OK, sweetheart. Perfectly safe.’ How long since I last clambered up a tree? Me, an overweight, unfit middle-aged, mother-of-two in not so skinny jeans. And what did I promise my family – that I’d avoid potentially risky situations? That any cases I took on would absolutely not involve capturing murderers or exposing criminals? Not that our patch of North London known as Crouch End is inundated with killings, just that I’ve somehow succeeded in entangling myself with two in the last eighteen months. And now the simplest of mundane jobs has turned an everyday school drop-off into what could possibly be my final farewell.
A terrified glance below shows Sophie clutching on to her younger brother’s arm, their long-standing feud forgotten as they contemplate their mother’s plight. Lauren, Henrietta’s eldest by two seconds, is hopping from foot to foot, pale with anxiety while her sister’s nervously studying her watch. I wonder what’s upsetting them most – the thought of Aunty Cathy’s untimely demise or being late for class. Yet again.
Three feet above me, inches from reach, a tortoiseshell cat stares down with baleful yellow eyes. I hold out a coaxing hand. ‘Here, Fluffy. C’mon, kitty. Pishhh whishh.’
Disregarding me entirely, he licks his paw before stalking further out, balancing on a twig, with the arrogant grace of a tightrope walker. Oh how I wish I’d ignored him when I saw that distinctive white-tipped tail swagger across the zebra crossing. But I’d spent weeks scouring backyards, crawling on hands and knees, peeking under parked cars, over hedges, listening to sweet old Mrs Thompson choke back sobs as I admitted failure.
I’m gathering my courage and strength to scale higher when my mobile rings. I wedge my bum into a crevice between branch and tree, tighten my hold and, with a few contortions worthy of the great Houdini, extract my phone from my pocket to peer at the screen.
Caller’s number withheld. Should I answer it?
Am I in any position to answer it?
Could be urgent.
‘Hello?’ I venture.
‘Is this…?’ A woman. Middle-aged at a guess, posh sounding. She drops to a muted whisper so low I have to crane to hear. ‘The HP…um…WS…um…thingy?’
Several months back I’d been donated this money, you see, ten thousand pounds, which was kind of hot, but gone cold. Semi-illegal – not to be returned. Brilliant timing as my husband, Declan, had recently re-evaluated what he wanted from life: Rhode Island Reds and a less pressurised career, I’d been suspended from work and my house cleaner, Pimple, was tired of domestic duties. I was thinking maybe it’s time I should do some soul-searching. So we, as in Pimple and myself, decided to start up a business.
‘That’s right,’ I say briskly, with enough softness to encourage conversation. ‘The H.P.W.W.O.C.S. Helping People Who Would Otherwise Commit Suicide. Or even H.P.W.M.O.C.S. – People Who Might Otherwise…but we’re called Crouch End Confidential now.’ Impromptu market research among friends had ended up with tongue-tied repetitions and lots of ‘You whats?’
We’d originally substituted the would for might, because after all, how can one predict who’ll kill themselves? Some people threaten it with no intention of going through with it and others, not a word and then boom – lives are devastated. Then there’s those who talk about it all the time and no one gives a hoot because they’re labelled attention-seekers and before you can say boom again – they carry out what they’d always said they’d carry out.
‘But you are that organisation? The ones who help with, uh difficult problems, like er…’
‘Lost pets?’ I finish for her, looking up again at Fluffy. ‘Yes, we do a fair amount of those.’ Far more than intended. ‘What kind do you have?’
‘Well, I-I…’ She seems at a loss. ‘Only—’
A strange wailing fills the morning air. At first I think it’s the cat, but it’s clearly a siren, volume increasing as it draws closer. Exceptionally loud now. Anyone would think it—
‘Is that the police?’ There’s a fearful edge to the woman’s voice. Or perhaps she’s merely anxious to be heard over the noise.
I glimpse through the branches, hearing cotton rip as I lean forward. A huge red vehicle’s speeding this way, lights blazing.
‘Fire engine,’ I report back. ‘Can’t see smoke but it must be nearby. They’re slowing down. They’re—’
Stopping right beside the kids…
What the blazes?
Sophie’s small face gazes up at me, expression distraught in the strobe lighting, finger pointing in my direction.
‘PERHAPS I’D…’ I find I’m screaming into the phone as the siren abruptly cuts out. I turn away from the cluster of grinning helmeted and booted firemen assembling at the foot of the tree as someone cranks up the ladder. Fluffy takes one look, turns tail and bolts down the other side. I modulate my voice to more professional tones. Perhaps I’d better ring you back I’m about to suggest politely, but too late. She’s gone.

***

‘Calling Cathy O’Farrell. Hello? Can you read me?’
‘Yes, I’m here.’ I swiftly hide the nail polish, climb into my swivel chair and wire myself up to the Skype headset.
‘Where exactly, lovey?’ Pimple’s bespectacled eyes scan the computer screen. They travel left and right, until they finally focus on where I’m now perched facing the webcam, sporting a big beaming smile. ‘Found you. Hang on a jiffy.’
She ducks down, sits back seconds later clutching a wide-toothed comb and starts tugging vigorously at her tight curls, turning them into a helmet of grey frizz.
‘That’s better.’ She drops out of sight again, emerging with pencil in hand. ‘Now update on yesterday?’ She licks the lead tip.
My business partner, former cleaning lady and long-time friend. I both love and hate her enthusiasm for news. Love that she’s still interested in our work even though she’s travelling the globe on that luxurious cruise ship. Hate that I’ve nothing of interest to convey and am very likely letting her down, business-wise.
‘Shouldn’t you be in bed?’ I say, having lost track of the various time zones she’s travelled through.
‘Gosh, no. It’s only just gone midnight,’ she says cheerfully. ‘I’ve a card game booked in an hour and then I’m off to the casino. Thought we might have a catch-up in between.’
‘OK,’ I say, reluctantly clicking onto my spreadsheet. ‘You remember that petrol station cashier with the lost tomcat?’
‘Sure do. How’s that going?’
‘Good. We fitted him with a tracking collar. Discovered he not only had two homes but three. All the owners met for coffee. Arranged a feeding rota. She was very grateful.’
‘How grateful?’
I scroll through the columns – last on the right – Income. ‘Oh Pimple, I just couldn’t ask her to cough up.’ I drop my head in shame and twist the headphone wire round and round my finger until it turns bright pink at the tip. ‘She was skint, stony broke. Only got the cashier’s job recently. Five kids to feed as well as the cat and still claiming benefits. And that’s what the fund’s about isn’t it, helping those in trouble?’
‘But Cathy, we’re meant to be running a viable concern here,’ she says. ‘Fair do’s, we agreed to support a few charity cases, but we need paying ourselves at some stage.’
‘I know.’ I’m totally feeble at fee chasing. ‘Oh but I did find Fluffy this morning. Owned by Mrs Thompson.’
‘Pensioner. Harringay Ladder.’
‘That’s right.’ I’m always amazed by her memory for detail.
‘Marvellous. We got paid for that then, yes?’
I groan. ‘I was going to charge her, I swear. But then she pulled out this ancient threadbare purse—’
‘Phooey!’ she scoffs. ‘Oldest trick in the book, that one. Bringing out the ancient threadbare purse. You’ll need to wise up, Cath. Those houses on the Ladder are worth a bomb. What else?’ Her pencil’s poised above her pad.
I run through our list of jobs, which takes precisely three minutes as apart from our two ex-clients, there’s only the newsagent who contacted me yesterday to ask if we’d investigate who’d been stealing his papers and a schoolkid called Ben who’d rung Monday to say his new mountain bike had been nicked and the police weren’t doing anything about it.
I’d asked him to wait a few days and if no joy to call back.
‘That’s it?’ She wrinkles her brow.
‘For now.’
‘Looks like I’ll need a new mop when I get home, after all.’ She lets out a sigh that sounds like a steamship in heavy fog.
Worse thing is she probably will. Money’s haemorrhaging faster than I can spell the word. We had to invest in the computer because mine was horrendously slow. Then there was the cost of stationery, surveillance equipment, etc. – all the paraphernalia needed in setting up. At least office space is free. We’re based in Pimple’s Edwardian semi-detached home, couple of miles down the road from Crouch End. Seemed daft forking out when she had a spare room – perfect to shove two desks in. It’s where I am now.
‘Oh I’m sure that won’t—’ I stop. Because there’s a ploppy sound and she disappears into the ether, like Endora from Bewitched.
I wait a few seconds, see if she’ll reconnect, but nothing. No need to call back. We’ve both said what we had to. The phone, the one all prospective clients are meant to call, is staring at me accusingly.
I pick it up. Check it’s still working. Could be a fault and hundreds of sad souls have been trying to connect. Crying out for help.
I listen a second. Strong, healthy brrr.
Damn.

***

By the time I turn into our drive around five thirty, I’m bushed. Rest of the afternoon had been spent clearing up the newsagent’s problem. I’d arrived at his shop, introduced myself, politely listened to his plans for an elaborate stake-out and then suggested we first have a good delve around the shop floor, back room and the flat above. Bingo. Turned out, his elderly widowed mum was nicking the papers and hiding them under her bed. Early signs of dementia at a guess but at least that’s that one solved. For us anyway. Frankly it was too bloody efficient. Less than an hour’s work but the poor guy’s got a long hard journey ahead. How could I possibly charge him?
On the other hand, I scold my ineffectual self, I need to toughen up. Do I really want to start again on a job-search?
I hang up my jacket by the porch and trudge through to the kitchen.
Declan’s standing over a saucepan which is bubbling away on the six-ringed range cooker which dominates our good-sized, somewhat country-style, kitchen. A heavenly tomato-ey aroma permeates the air. Everything’s worked out great for him. He’s ridiculously happy with his new postman’s job. Has to leave home at five a.m., but he’s always been an early riser so never minds. Gets bags of exercise on his assigned pushbike, and he finishes mid-afternoon, in time for the school run. Never mind that it pays half what he earned before. It’s the quality of life that counts, right?
Plus, best part, I have dinner waiting for me every weekday evening. All those years of wedded bliss with me muddling along, running out of recipes and not really being faffed and now he’s completely taken charge of the cooking. Wondrous.
I put my nose in the air and sniff. ‘Mmm. Smells delicious. You do know I’m out later?’
‘Wednesday Once Weekly girls’ night. How could I forget?’ He turns to peck my cheek. ‘Thought I’d make a big stew anyhow. We can eat some over the next few days and freeze the rest. Much more economical. Talking of which…’ He opens the fridge, pulls out a used cardboard carton and lifts the lid with a cheesy grin. Five brown eggs, still with a few feathers attached, smaller than shop-bought but hey. ‘Ta-dah. Even Pocahontas delivered. Fresh, free range, and best of all free.’
He always says this and I always tut and do an exaggerated who-gives-a-monkey’s shrug. Not that I’m averse to owning chickens. Can be rather relaxing squatting outside their coop, watching them scratch the earth and vie for pecking order. And Josh and Sophie wake themselves up early each morning to see which hen’s laid what, which is a heck of a lot better than me screeching at them to get out of bed. Plus free anything’s great with my almost non-existent wages, but I don’t like admitting it, because he bought them without consulting me – his wife. Then again, at that time, he was acting weird and buying other things without consulting me too. Like our super-expensive oven, which we’re still paying off. Male menopause, my insurance broker reckoned. But we’re over that. Back on an even keel. Perhaps not financially but definitely hormonally speaking.
‘Where’s the kids?’ I slump onto a chair and watch him stirring, tasting, stirring again.
‘Upstairs. Sophie’s watching TV. Josh is on the Xbox, where else. He’s done his spelling homework, though he needs help with reading later.’
‘OK, I’ll cover that.’
I watch him as he adds a spoonful of paprika, dash of Worcestershire sauce then a variety of fresh and dried herbs. He’s tall, few inches over six foot, gingery-brown hair, blue eyes. Irish born and bred, although you’d never believe it from his London accent. His body’s still good for his forty-three years. Actually, tell a lie, his body’s fabulous, but that’s only because he gets to spend afternoons in the gym while I’m slogging away in my office.
We’ve been married a little over eleven years. Not saying there’s been no ups and downs in that time, but the ups far exceed the downs. My friends all consider him Mr Wonderful and sometimes I do too, even though I maybe don’t say it often enough.

***

‘So how was the gossip at the school gates this afternoon?’ I ask.
Just after eight and I’m sitting back at the kitchen table, now set for one sole diner, after doing the bath-bed-book-lights-out routine. Declan’s preparing a salad and I’m enjoying a quick cuppa before heading off.
‘Drugs,’ he says, dicing a carrot.
‘Who’s on drugs?’
‘Feral youths supposedly.’
‘So what’s new?’
‘That.’ He nods at a letter on the sideboard behind him.
I pick it up and begin silently reading. Dear parent…
‘Says there,’ he starts chopping up tiny cherry tomatoes into even tinier quarters, ‘two teenagers were spotted hanging around Princes Road Primary. Offered a pupil some substance. Guess which one?’
I can’t imagine. Love my kids’ school but they’re famous for blowing the slightest unsettling ripple into a tsunami of alarm.
‘No, stop. Let me think.’ I hold my hand up and screw my forehead in concentration. ‘Heroin? Ketamine? Miu Miu?’
‘Meow meow, you mean. Miu Miu’s an Italian designer, but I wasn’t meaning which drug, I was meaning pupil.’
‘No idea.’
‘Pip Henfield.’
‘Sheryl’s Pip?’
‘Yep, and William was with him.’ He tosses the tomatoes into a bowl, adding a drizzle of olive oil.
That confirms it. ‘My oh my. Knowing that family, I’ll bet it was something hideously toxic – like a Diet Coke. Or a powdered doughnut.’ I’m not too familiar with Pip, but I’ve seen him around, being the elder brother of Josh’s ex best friend, William. Once inseparable they’ve recently gone their separate ways, or rather Josh dumped William for another classmate. Slightly mortifying because I often bump into William’s mum at morning drop-off. Truth be told, though, if someone’s heart had to break over an early bromance, then I’d rather it wasn’t my kid’s.
‘School’s taking it seriously. Pip ran back in and told his teacher.’
‘Of course they are.’ I scan greedily through the rest of the letter but the details are amazingly vague. ‘They’ve got to, don’t they, to protect themselves. Besides Sheryl’s running the PSA. And the way that woman overreacts, it ought to be the drama club. Remember when she saw Custard lick William’s mouth and went into hysterics about intestinal worms, giardia and rabies injections? And then when I’d finally calmed her down and convinced her the poor dog had barely made contact and not to call an ambulance, William piped up, “It’s OK, Mummy. He does it every time.” I’m sure Sheryl was gloating like a goat.’
‘Too right she was.’ He fetches a cucumber from the fridge and slices it into paper thin layers. ‘Holding court when I arrived. Gaggle of parents hanging on her every word.’
I tap the letter in my hand. ‘Says here that we should keep vigilant. Talk to our kids.’
‘And so we must. They’re guarding the gates at pick-up time. The teachers rushed out but the “yobbos”, as Sheryl called them, had disappeared by then and there was nothing on CCTV.’ He digs his fingers into an iceberg lettuce and expertly tears it apart. ‘Becoming worse round here for sure. Honestly, I feel sorry for Josh and Sophie. Probably have better survival chances with a pack of ravenous wolves than inner cities today. Drugs at primary school, vandalism everywhere, fourteen-year-old pregnancies. And that’s without random crazies, potential terrorism and the local crime…’
Is it my imagination or does a cold wind suddenly whistle through the kitchen?
‘They love it here. And they’re a darn sight better adjusted than William and Pip, with their allergen-free, sugar-free, gluten-free cotton wool existence.’
‘You might be right.’ He opens a bottle and pours himself a rare glass of wine. I mean rare for him, that is, rather than vintage. For an Irishman his alcohol intake is shockingly moderate. ‘So how was your day?’ He eyes me shrewdly. ‘Any more enquiries? Prospective clients?’
‘One, but the caller got cut off.’ I feel obliged to sound a bit more positive. ‘Terrible line but she was definitely interested. Sounded right up our alley.’
‘Uneventful otherwise?’
‘Pretty much. Managed to close a couple of cases.’ Hopefully he’ll assume that means money in the bank.
‘Good for you. Hang on a second, what’s that?’ He leans towards me and begins tugging at my hair, emerging with a tiny twig between his fingers.
‘Thanks.’ I take it from him. ‘Very blowy outside today. Oh what’s that?’ I pick up a magazine lying on the Welsh dresser and leaf through pages of bucolic landscapes, slightly uneasy at the way he’s watching me – kind of sideways, mouth quirking.
‘Got dropped through the letterbox.’ He brings the saucepan over to the table and ladles a portion onto his plate. ‘Advertising houseboats. Miles cheaper than conventional houses.’
I put the magazine down. ‘No wonder. Who’d want to live on a leaky old barge with no room to swing a cat?’
‘Speaking of cats,’ he’s still wearing that weird expression, ‘not seen any lurking around lately, have we?’
‘Well, there’s doubtless loads lurking around.’ I stand up so I can avoid his eyes, grab a dessert spoon from the drawer and dip it into the bubbling mixture. ‘They say you’re never more than six feet from one in London.’
‘Isn’t that rats?’ He laughs.
‘Rats too.’ I blow fast at my spoon, like a silent flautist. ‘Stands to reason, where’s there’s rats there’ll be cats. Supplement their Whiskas.’
‘Only…that was the other thing parents were chattering about. Fire brigade had to rescue a mum who’d chased some cat up a tree. All on YouTube. Children arrived at class forty-five minutes late.’
‘Talking about being late…’ I leap up, pointing at the oven clock. ‘Holy Christ, is it really quarter past? Meant to be meeting the girls at eight thirty. I’ll never be ready in time.’



Preorder:

Meet the Author:

Ellie Campbell is a pseudonym for sisters, Pam Burks and Lorraine Campbell, who write together from their respective homes in Surrey, England (Pam) and Colorado, USA (Lorraine). After years of selling short stories independently, they began their Ellie Campbell collaboration with a first novel, How To Survive Your Sisters, followed by When Good Friends Go Bad, Looking For La La, To Catch A Creeper and Million Dollar Question. They write contemporary women's fiction laced with humour, romance, and mystery. Meddling With Murder is their 6th novel and follows Looking For La La and To Catch A Creeper in the funny, cozy ‘Crouch End Confidential’ mystery series. 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/EllieCampbell

Giveaway:

Prize: 10 Ebooks of Meddling With Murder by Ellie Campbell.
Ends 5th April 2016
Open worldwide to those who can legally enter. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Njkinny from Njkinny Tours & Promotions and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


This Cover Reveal was organized by
Njkinny Tours & Promotions




Friday, 15 January 2016

My mantra to turn Good Mornings to Gold Mornings ~ #Colgate360GoldMornings

"Morning is an important time of day, because how you spend your morning can often tell you what kind of day you are going to have."

I completely agree with this statement. Morning is the most important part of our day and if started pleasantly, it can turn from a good morning to a gold morning!

My mornings start with the sweet chirping of birds that lounge daily on my window sill and greet me with their excited chirping. Maybe they are planning their day then! Once I open my eyes, I first thank God for giving me a new day to live and a new chance to achieve my goals.

My next stop is drinking a liter of water which is helpful in cleaning my body of all harmful toxins. I often add half a lemon to my water which is further helpful in detoxifying my body. While I drink my water, I try and catch the news headlines. Grabbing the newspaper from outside is the next thing done.

I plan my day the night before so that I am not feeling rushed the next morning. My clothes to be worn the next day are kept aside in advance along with the papers and stuff I need to take to my office. This not only makes my mornings more peaceful and leisurely but also gives me time to engage in other things like exercising and having an unhurried breakfast with my family.

Colgate 360 Charcoal Gold toothbrush leaves me with fresh breath in no time and turns my good mornings to #Colgate360GoldMornings.

As you all must have experienced, until we brush our teeth a morning does not become good. So is the case with me. Until I brush my teeth, I don’t feel fresh and rejuvenated. I have been using Colgate 360 Charcoal Gold toothbrush since quite some time and absolutely love it. It has soft bristles and a firm handle that enables it to go to the deepest corners of the mouth and effectively clean it. It leaves me with fresh breath in no time and turns my good mornings to #Colgate360GoldMornings.

Exercising in the morning is a great way to strengthen our body and also feel energized. I exercise for half an hour each morning and while I sweat, I try to listen to some classical music which soothes my mind and prepares me to tackle the challenges that will come further in the day.

After a shower and getting dressed, I pray and seek the blessings of God followed by breakfast with my family where we discuss our plans for the day, give our advice to any problems any one of us may be facing and thus, bond with each other.

This is my mantra to turn my good mornings to gold mornings!


What’s yours?

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

#TATASkyTransfer: Never miss a show, Watch TV on the Go!

Source 

Watching my favourite shows on Television is something working people like me miss in our hectic daily schedules. We spend a major portion of our time either in travelling to office or in office. Even when we are at home, we have to give time to our family and friends which leaves us less to no time to sit down and watch TV!

In the early days we got only a limited number of programmes from doordarshan that had a limited number of channels. But then the audience was challenged with the presence of private operators offering a variety of channels and afterwards a beautiful world was opened with the arrival of satellite Television with many options of operators available that opened a basket of infinite channels. Tata Sky has been my all-time favourite offering a bouquet of channels to choose from at my own ease, convenience and the freedom of amount to pay according to my need.

But this time, Tata Sky has gone a step further and brought to people like me, a feature that will solve all my problems and enable me to never miss any of my favourite shows ever again!

The boon for viewers like me that I am talking about is Tata Sky+ Transfer set top box.

I have two Tata Sky HD set top boxes but the Tata Sky+ Transfer Set top box is fascinating me due to its all lovable features like :

i) I can get my favourite movies & TV shows recorded and can watch them whenever I like.

ii) I can transfer recorded content from my Tata Sky+ Transfer set top box onto my mobile and tablet via Wi-Fi.

iii) I can carry my favourite movie & TV shows with me. And watch them without an internet connection. AHA !!!!!

iv) I can instantly stream my entertainment onto my mobile and watch it at once even when someone from my family is watching something else on TV!

v) I can transfer the Internet recording via mytatasky.com or Tata Sky mobile app to my mobile.

Tata Sky+ Transfer is really a boon for viewers like me. I am now ready to open a new chapter in my Life. From now onwards I am not going to miss any episode of my favourite shows as Tata Sky+ Transfer is going to provide me the freedom of recording my loved shows, transfer them to my smart phone and watch them anywhere at my own time, ease and comfort!

Some of my favourite shows on TV at this time are BIGG BOSS (New season coming up shortly. I am a big fan of this show and try and watch every episode!), Itna Karo na Mujhe Pyaar, Reporters, Jhalak Dikhla Jaa, Dance India Dance, Dance+, Family Guru, Cricket Match, Bhabi Ji Ghar Par Hain and now, I wont miss a single episode, all thanks to Tata Sky+ Transfer!

Conclusion :

I am an all time fan of Tata Sky as Tata Sky has always provided its customers a bunch of excellent services from attending the calls in zero down time manner, relocation of my Tata Sky connection within no time and that too as per my convenience, upgrading my Tata Sky SD connections to HD connections (multiple connections I have) and that too with the integration of latest technologies starting from registering my service till termination of service with a huge SUCCESS by the representatives of Tata Sky who provide flawless service to its customers like me who have not much leisure time due to our busy schedule. Customer Satisfaction is their forte. KUDOS to Tata Sky for upgrading their services with the need and tune of time and blessing us with Tata Sky+ Transfer Set top box which is going to be my second darling after my first darling my Smart phone and I am pretty sure that both my darlings will live in full synchronization.

Read more about Tata Sky+ Transfer here: http://www.tatasky.com/transfer/

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Author Interview, Giveaway and Excerpt: Unexpected Gifts by SR Mallery

 Blog Tour Schedule + Giveaway: UNEXPECTED GIFTS by SR Mallery

Welcome to my stop on the Blog Tour of Unexpected Gifts by S.R Mallery.  
"Unexpected Gifts" is the story of a confused college student who gains clarity in life when she begins to read the journals and diaries of her ancestors from America's past.
Checkout my post and enter the cool giveaway! :)

Follow the Tour to read Interviews, Excerpts, Reviews and Guest Posts. Checkout the schedule of the Tour: Click Here

~About the Book~

Title and Author: Unexpected Gifts by S.R Mallery
No. of Pages: 317
Publication Date: 2013
Genre: Historical Fiction

Blurb:

Can we learn from our ancestral past? Do our relatives’ behaviors help mold our own? 

In "Unexpected Gifts" that is precisely what happens to Sonia, a confused college student, heading for addictions and forever choosing the wrong man. Searching for answers, she begins to read her family’s diaries and journals from America’s past: the Vietnam War, Woodstock, and Timothy Leary era; Tupperware parties, McCarthyism, and Black Power; the Great Depression, dance marathons, and Eleanor Roosevelt; the immigrant experience and the Suffragists. Back and forth the book journeys, linking yesteryear with modern life until finally, by understanding her ancestors' hardships and faults, she gains enough clarity to make some right choices.


 Add to Goodreads: Unexpected Gifts by S.R Mallery


~Excerpt~


SONIA’S paraplegic Father --CHAPTER 2: Sam––Living With Fear

First thing I killed was no kind of thing at all. It was an enemy
soldier, which was a hell of a lot easier to say than the first thing I ever killed was a man.”
--Steve Mason

“...Nearing the village, we passed women in their beige tunics, black pants, and Sampan hats, shouldering thick bamboo rods weighted down by buckets of water. Most kept their heads lowered as they walked, but the few who didn’t, stared up at us with dead, black-brown eyes and pressed lips. The afternoon was drawing to a close by the time we reached a village compound that reeked of nuoc maum rotten fish sauce and animal dung. An old, leathery woman, squatting by her hooch was our welcoming committee, but once she saw us shuffle by, she scurried back into her hut, clacking loudly in Vietnamese as chickens pecked at rice granules, bobbing their heads up and down in 2/4 time.

            Carbini cut to the chase. “First, pull every one of those gooks outta their hooches, then line them up here,” he barked.

            I watched my troop comb each thatched home, rounding up families of all ages and herding them out into the open like a cattle drive in Oklahoma. I, too, started the mission and stooping into one of the huts, saw a young woman sitting on a straw mat, eating some rice in a black bowl, a young child at her side.

            She was exquisite—the best possible combination of French and Chinese ancestry, with such delicate features, she made my heart ache. My immediate instincts were to protect her and her son from Carbini and this horrendous war, but she just gazed up at me, emotionless.    

            I could hear Carbini yelling orders to get a move-on, and I signaled this girl, this treasure, to follow me. She shook her head vehemently, and curled her legs around her son. I motioned again, but still, she refused. I froze, unable to think, but when Carbini popped his head in the doorway and snarled, “Weylan!” she got the message and followed me out.

            Whimpering slightly, she joined her fellow villagers, gripping her child’s hand and wiping off a tear that had slid halfway down her cheek. I suddenly pictured slave owners in pre-Civil War days and felt my lunch rise up in my throat.

            “Now, get your Zippos ready, men.” As Carbini’s face flushed red, I sucked in my breath. He caught sight of my reaction and came over. “Weylan here doesn’t like my orders. Anyone else here who doesn’t like my orders?” Nobody spoke up.
            He opened up one of my backpack pockets, yanked out my Zippo lighter, and shoved it into my face. Immediately, you could hear the snap of pockets opening and boots shifting. We were getting ready to Rock ‘n Roll.

            Carbini was first. He marched over to a hooch, flipped on his Zippo, and carefully lit the underbelly of its thatched roof. It smoldered for a few seconds, a thin, rising wisp of smoke twisting in the tropical air. From that, a flame grew, nibbling at the straw with a low, blue heat before suddenly bursting into a torch, arcing up towards the sky in a yellow-hot blaze.

            Carbini turned to us and nodded, his eyes glazed. This was our cue, yet I spun around to search for the girl, who was at the back of the pack, crying softly as she hugged her son. I glanced over at some of the other men, their hands jammed deep into their pockets, and decided to follow their lead. The fire was raging full force on each hooch now, the thatch and bamboo crackling like a 4th of July fireworks display, leaving its reflections in the villagers’ eyes and turning the sky dark with thick, bulbous smoke.

            “Weylan! You son-of-a-bitch coward! You’re no better than the rest of us, you hear me?” Carbini started to charge over, then stopped mid-stride.

            In the distance, a large formation of F4’s was headed our way, torpedoing fireballs of napalm every several hundred yards and scattering screaming villagers down the main road. We were ordered to take cover, but followed the fleeing Vietnamese instead, charging after them and trying not to show our own fear...”


~HERE'S WHAT READERS ARE SAYING ABOUT UNEXPECTED GIFTS BY S. R. MALLERY~
“The author has a remarkable gift. The amazing ability not only to bring rich, historical events to life, but also the ability to perfectly blend different generations…”
“It simply is one of the best books I've ever read. I wish I could give it six stars!”
“I have never read a book that wasn’t a textbook that was able to successfully cover so many time frames in such little space, with the accuracy you really would expect from reading the journals of those who had actually lived in those times.”
“Colorful writing, recreation of periods that prove adept challenges for any films about the influences of the past being made, and all of this is written with such style that it often times is dazzling...”
“SR Mallery has created an important and impressive monument of a novel.”
“If only my history teacher would have taught history like Mallery has, enriching it with living, feeling people that the reader can equate to, I would have been a better student.”
“Long after the completion of the book, I missed the characters and the impact their stories made on me. This one really touched me deeply.”
“Beautifully and sensitively written, anyone who loves a good story interwoven with actual historical events will enjoy this very special novel.”
“A master storyteller has been at work, and this marvelous piece of writing is the result.”
“I'm in awe of how the author could write about the events so realistically, putting the reader firmly into different time periods in America's history.”
“… she blends the past and the present with a seamless texture that only a “true” storyteller can manage.”
“This is a book you can keep on your shelf to read over and over…”

~Buying Links~

Grab the book for just 99c or Rs 61 on Amazon and Kobo!



~Meet the Author~

S.R. Mallery has worn various hats in her life. First, a classical/pop singer/composer, she moved on to the professional world of production art and calligraphy.
Next came a long career as an award winning quilt artist/teacher and an ESL/Reading instructor. Her short stories have been published in descant 2008, Snowy Egret, Transcendent Visions, The Storyteller, and Down In the Dirt.

Website/Blog:  www.srmallery.com
Twitter:  @SarahMallery1
Goodreads:
Pinterest:  (I have some good history boards that are getting a lot of attention—history, vintage clothing, older films)
Amazon Author page:   http://www.amazon.com/S.-R.-Mallery/e/B00CIUW3W8/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1


~Author Interview~
SR Mallery was very kind to answer some of my questions and share her thoughts on writing, her future plans and her life as a writer. 

Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer my questions Sarah and Welcome to Positive Aspects of Life!

1) Tell us something about yourself?

Well, before I show you my ‘official’ bio, I thought I’d present something a little different here. Something that might make you (certainly me) understand why I’ve had such varied careers!

I happen to be a Gemini, and in writing this for some reason I suddenly decided to look up the personality traits for that sign. Now, please understand I have always scoffed at those pickup lines, “What sign are you, baby?” and would never base my future on astrology, but I was flabbergasted to read the following list, which explained so much of who I am.

According to this list, Geminis tend to be socially outgoing, adjustable, restless, creative, sometimes unable to pay attention to details, good with their hands, easily distracted, anxious, humorous, and love to share. Suggested careers for this sign include writer, teacher, inventor, and craftsperson.  Well, that sure fits me to a “T”!!  Now here’s my bio:

S.R. Mallery has worn various hats in her life. First, a classical/pop singer/composer, she moved on to the professional world of production art and calligraphy. Next came a long career as an award winning quilt artist/teacher and an ESL/Reading instructor. Her short stories have been published in “descant 2008,” “Snowy Egret,” “Transcendent Visions,” “The Storyteller,” and “Down In the Dirt.”

2) How did you become a writer? Was it a conscious decision or did it just happen?

I’ve had kind of a weird avoidance about writing as an adult. Because so many family members were writers, I shied away from it; in fact I always laughed and exclaimed, “I wouldn’t touch that profession with a ten foot pole!”  But finally, as a ‘mature’ woman, I sat down and started writing my first short story (included in my collection Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small Threads), about the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911.  It was like discovering a drug of choice. I’ve never looked back.

3) How did you get the idea of writing Unexpected Gifts?

I have always appreciated looking at photographs from both my grandmothers’ photo albums.  As I studied my individual relatives, I wouldn’t just think, ‘Oh, that’s my Aunt So-and-So!’ I would scrutinize their outfits, their faces, their postures.  Were they sad? Happy? Bored? Annoyed at suddenly being put on display?  That strong ancestral interest dovetailed nicely with my love of U. S. history, so when I decided to write this novel, putting those two themes together just kind of clicked.
4) How do you think your book is different than the other Historical books in the market?

Most historical fiction books either take place during one particular epoch or start from a modern era and then retreat back into a single period. I believe my UNEXPECTED GIFTS is different because of its going back and forth feature, switching from modern day to various time frames in 20th century America. By creating this onion effect of story telling through my protagonist's ancestors' diaries and journals, Sonia, the modern protagonist, begins peeling away layers of time, discovering more and more about her family until she reaches the 'core' of her ancestry. I've been told by readers/reviewers that by doing this technique, they have loved the up close and personal feel of the influences each cognate has had on the modern character.


5)  What steps did you take to get your book out there?

I had had a lot of interest in my first book, my Sewing Can Be Dangerous collection and even nabbed an enthusiastic New York agent, who flipped over the stories but encouraged me to finish my UNEXPECTED GIFTS before she would proceed with me. Unknown author with only short stories kind of thing. I did a first draft of the book only to find out she was 'moving on.' I finished the novel and proceeded to look for other agents and small presses.  Very quickly, a small press loved both books and signed me on.  They were quite lovely to me but as time went on, I decided to go Indie for more control.


6) What advice would you give to all aspiring writers?

Being a fairly new writer myself, all I can say is I am still learning the writing process versus promotional marketing and how ultimately, balance is the key.  In addition, I believe in reading and analyzing the authors you like. Learn from them. Join like-minded groups and take constructive criticism not to heart but to your mind. Believe in yourself but always try to grow and absorb.


7) What is the one thing that you don’t like about writing?

Sometimes when I feel my brain switching off, I get frustrated. But I have learned to take a deep breath, do something very different--usually mindless, like housework, gardening, treadmill walking, dancing around the living room to Pandora--and come back to it later.  As Scarlett O'Hara from "Gone With The Wind" said, 'Tomorrow is another day!'


8) What are your future plans?

I have two things I'm working on. One is my next book, an historical Wild West novel, entitled THE DOLAN GIRLS. Here’s the synopsis:

THE DOLAN GIRLS

The Dolan Girls by S. R. Mallery has it all. Set in Nebraska during the 1800s, whorehouse madams, ladies of the night, a schoolmarm, a Pinkerton detective, a Shakespeare-quoting old coot, brutal outlaws, and a horse-wrangler fill out the cast of characters. Add to the mix are colorful descriptions of an 1856 land rush, Buffalo Bill and his Wild West Show, Annie Oakley, bank/train robberies, small town local politics, and romance. Two, in fact!!

Secondly, I am slowly working towards creating a blog. It will have LOTS of historical links and posts, and under my 'Kindness Korner,' all the wonderful people who have been so kind to me in this writing world I've entered into will be listed: Fellow authors, bloggers, reviewers, tweeters, promoters, you name it. I believe in payback!

Thanks SR! All the best!
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~Giveaway~
Prize: 10 Ebooks of Unexpected Gifts by SR Mallery
Ends 13th September
Open Worldwide.

Open only to those who can legally enter and receive the prize. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded.No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Nikita (Njkinny) from Njkinny Tours & Promotions and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.



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