Reality Informs Fiction: Trails in the Sand

This amazing book is discounted this week. My introduction to a highly gifted writer I have the utmost respect and admiration for.
It’s got environmental and family issues – a class A literary delight.

P.C. Zick


I published Trails in the Sand in 2013, three years after the disastrous oil spill after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion. From the first moment I heard about the explosion nine years ago and through my job as a public relations director with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, I was glued to the news on the struggle to contain the tar balls and greasy water approaching the Panhandle beaches of Florida.

When not working at my day job, I was also starting a novel about a dysfunctional family struggling to change generations of heartbreak.  April 20, 2019 marks the nine year anniversary of this event. Each year on the anniversary, I offer a special on Trails in the Sand, normally priced at $5.99 on Kindle. April 21-28, 2019, the book may be downloaded for $0.99. Click here to grab your copy.

Four years ago, I wrote about…

View original post 1,094 more words


New Release: “The Assassination of Morgan Sheckler” by Peter Black

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Peter Black at a conference two year’s back when he was thinking about writing a novel. I was astonished to receive his call about the finished product.

The novel has great local flavour, Black posesses an investigative and clever mind and I can’t wait to get my teeth into this.

The Assassination of Morgan Sheckler by [Black, Peter]Plot:

When Morgan Sheckler is elected Mayor of the Cardiff Capital Region in Wales he finds himself at odds with his own staff, not just because of his policies but also because of his brash, bullying manner.

Sheckler immediately sets his sights on dismantling plans for a new power plant in the region — a move that puts him on collision course with some unsavoury American backers who will do anything necessary to have it built.

Caught in the middle is Dawn Highcliffe, Sheckler’s director of development, who must do as the mayor orders but yet also, somehow, please the Americans, who have blackmailed her into cooperating with them.

A world of corruption and intimidation is revealed that brings Dawn to breaking point and sees her facing the prospect of a lengthy prison sentence.

But there’s hope, because Sheckler’s past is coming back to haunt him and a group of those he wronged are circling, and they’re looking for blood…

Mr Peter BlackPeter Black is a graduate of Swansea University, a former member of the Welsh Assembly, Deputy Minister for Local Government in Wales from 2000 to 2003, and has been a Swansea Councillor since 1984. Awarded the CBE for service to public life, he is due to take up post in May 2019 as Lord Mayor of Swansea for the civic year 2019-20.
The Assassination of Morgan Sheckler is his first novel. He blogs regularly on political matters at and writes the occasional article for the South Wales Evening Post. These can be read at
Peter can be found on Twitter @peterblackwales and on Facebook at He is also on Instagram, where you will be able to find many pictures of his cats.

Do No Harm Excerpt from “Virtually Lace” by Uvi Poznansky

background 1 vvAs I may have mentioned my medical thriller The Healerwill be part of a multi author, charity box set DO NO HARM . In the run up to the release I will post excerpts from  and interviews with participating authors. Today an excerpt from Uvi Poznansky, a regular on my blog, see the original posted  here:


There came the sound of heavy footfalls down the corridor

He remembered how he had stood there, dumbfounded, in front of the body. Some distance away, a sailboat seemed to be floating in midair. From time to time, gusts of wind had filled her black sails.
“Bring in a sailboat.” He pointed at a spot on the blue surface that represented ocean.
Wiggling slightly over the blue, painted surface that signified water, there it came: a huge sailboat that seemed to fill the entire space of his office.
Its keel formed the centerline at the bottom of the hull. It extended downward as a blade beneath the vessel, increasing its stability. From time to time it rubbed against the office floor, giving a shrill sound of friction.
With a swift hand gesture, bringing together his thumb and forefinger, Michael shrunk the vessel down, till it appeared to be at same scale as the seascape underfoot. Flow vectors appeared, forming wavy blue pleats capped with foam, over which the sailboat started rocking.
Meanwhile, Michael remembered Mr. Armstrong telling him how he had steered his sailboat away all by himself, how his muscles still ached from pulling up her sails. Just for fun, shouldn’t he place him aboard this vessel?
“Create man.” Michael pointed at the deck. “Name him Mr. Strong.”
A broadly constructed wire figure stepped out. It held on to the mast for dear life and occasionally, gave a sharp, abrasive pull to raise the black sails.
“Let Mr. Strong wear a life jacket.”
Selected at random from some e-commerce site such as eBay, an immensely thick vest appeared, featuring large armholes for unlimited range of motion. Its bright straps and adjustable belts tightened around the waist, to keep the vest snug and in place. It wrapped over the wire shoulders, barely concealing a somewhat crooked back.
The sailboat wiggled about over the geometrical waves when—splash!—Mr. Strong fell off, nearly sinking between one blue pleat and another. He would dutifully climb back onboard, only to fall off and climb back again.
Michael was determined to find out why this infinite loop started to play out. “Show me an internal view of the code.”
A storm of pixels whipped across the space, settling here and there in small heaps of dust. Out of it grew long, straight links. These, in turn, produced round, hollow nodes that started to arrange themselves into a complex structure, a structure that represented logic and data.
And just as Michael identified a broken link in the midst of it all, there came the sound of heavy footfalls down the corridor.
His heart skipped a beat.
“Stop,” he said hurriedly, and the structure melted away just as the office door swung open.
In stepped the real Mr. Armstrong.
Excerpt from Virtually Lace
(Volume II of Ash Suspense Thrillers with a Dash of Romance)
AudibleUS ★ UK ★ FR ★ DE
AudiobookAmazon US ★ Amazon UK ★ iTunes
PaperbackAmazon ★ Barnes&Noble
Haunted by discovering the body of a beautiful dancer, Michael sets out to create a virtual reality simulation of her murder. Can he bring the mystery to life? Can he solve its clues in time, before the killer turns on the woman he loves, Ash?

Llandeilo Lit Fest Review: “The Last Dragon Slayer” by Jasper Fforde

220px-TheLastDragonslayerJasper Fforde will be talking with fantasy newcomer Jonathan Crayford at the Lit Fest in Llandeilo. Time for me to complete my knowledge of Jasper’s works.

“The Last Dragon Slayer” is a fun blend of modern society and fantasy. You find Volkswagens and TV shows as well as modern wizard-equipment and the land of dragons.
Jennifer Strange, the dragon slayer from the title, is sent to kill any dragon to be found guilty to have violated the Dragon pact, an agreement between the humans and the dragons to live in their respective separate quarters of the world.

The Duchy of Brecon, the Kingdom of Hereford etc, all a mere stone throw from the land of dragons.

Quirly, absurd and full of references to modern life or parody, the book has plenty of humour and fabulous imagination. Living in the times of Brexit much about the Ununited Kingdom rings truer than maybe intended.

I loved the characters and their weird names, such as Jennifer Strange, and most of all, the accomplished blend of realism with fantasy fare. Inspired world creation with a good dose of irony and sarcasm and a surprising plot keep you interested throughout.

If you find yourself in Llandeilo in two week’s time, do drop in

Date And Time Sat, April 27, 2019 7:00 PM

Horeb Chapel, Cawdor Hotel, Llandeilo


JONATHAN CRAYFORD AND JASPER FFORDE: Back to the Future, a new novelist meets an old hand in the futuristic genre Jonathan has had great success with his debut novel, The Legacy of the Sky Pendant. He will be in conversation with the renowned absurdist fiction author, Jasper Fforde. Sgwrs rhwng hen law yn y byd ysgrifenn


Jasper Fforde And Jonathan Crayford:

Jasper fforde18193224_1343876585704708_8506054888458754403_o




When advertising executive Erica Whittaker is diagnosed with terminal cancer, western medicine fails her. The only hope left for her to survive is controversial healer Arpan. She locates the man whose touch could heal her but finds he has retired from the limelight and refuses to treat her. Erica, consumed by stage four pancreatic cancer, is desperate and desperate people are no longer logical nor are they willing to take no for an answer. Arpan has retired for good reasons. casting more than the shadow of a doubt over his abilities. So begins a journey that will challenge them both as the past threatens to catch up with him as much as with her. Can he really heal her? Can she trust him with her life? And will they both achieve what they set out to do before running out of time?

Now part of a medical thriller box set , an extraordinary, limited collection of medical thrillers written by USA Today, Wall Street Journal and Amazon best-selling authors. Grab your copy today and find a comfortable chair!

christoph vv

There are no lengthy descriptions of settings or of the appearance of the characters, because we follow the point of view of a woman totally preoccupied with her health and her mortality, and that makes her not the most reliable of narrators. She describes the physical and mental effects that the illness and the healing process have on her, and we are also privy to her suspicions and doubts. The book offers fascinating psychological insights into how much our “rational” point of view can change when our life is at stake, and it is impossible to read it and not wonder what we would do in Erica’s place.

I kept thinking that the story, which relies heavily on dialogue (both between characters and also internal dialogue), would make a great play, and its intensity would be well suited to the stage. Although most of the characters are not sympathetic, to begin with, their humanity and the big questions they are forced to deal with make them intriguing and worthy subjects of our observations.

The ending brings a great twist to the story. Although I think most readers will have been suspicious and on alert due to the secrets, false information, continuous doubts, and different versions of the truth on offer, the actual ending will make them question everything and re-evaluate the story in a different light. And, considering the nature of the subject it deals with, that is a great achievement.

I recommend it to those who enjoy stories that make them think, to readers who are not searching for cheap thrills and prefer a psychologically astute book and especially to those who want to feel personally invested in the stories they read. I look forward to the rest of the books in the trilogy.

Do No Harm #excerpt: Kill Switch by Dan Alatorre @savvystories

As I may have mentioned my medical thriller The Healer will be part of a multi author, charity box set DO NO HARM . In the run up to the release I will post excerpts from included works and interviews with participating authors. Today an excerpt:

Do No Harm: Kill Switch by Dan Alatorre @savvystories

originally posted on

The murderer who called himself The Greyhound pulled a black ski mask over his face and stared at the ornate door of his next victim’s house.
On TV, cops and angry boyfriends can always kick a door open. In real life, it’s a little more complicated than that.
He hefted the 40-pound battering ram to gage its balance. According to the website that sold them, these heavy steel rams replaced a swift kick for police officers around 1975, and had been reliably opening the doors of stubborn perpetrators ever since.
Hit the knob with it straight on, and it will do the rest.
Taking a deep breath, he rubbed the knot growing in his stomach. He stepped away from the door and glanced through the large bay window, eyeing the fat old man as he ate at the table. The overhead chandelier cast a warm yellow glow over the dining room walls, spilling onto the yard outside in a misshapen rectangle.
The man inside carved a tiny slice of something on his plate, gently lifting it to his mouth, the fork upside down like European royalty. Good posture, too. No doubt that was the way Dr. Faustus Braunheiser demanded the students at Wellington Academy to eat, all prim and proper. Students watching from their tables would see the rigid old man operating as any proper headmaster should, a perfect example of stuffy grace and tedious dignity.
But tonight, the old man dined alone.
No gawking teenage boys in matching shirts and ties, no suck up faculty. And best of all, no family members.
That’s no way to celebrate your birthday, doctor.
A breeze tugged at his collar and brought the stench of the bay at low tide. He peered at the tall hedges lining the driveway.
Thank goodness for privacy.
The killer reactively went to wipe his hand on his pants, stopping when he remembered the latex gloves he wore. After patting the butt of the big revolver strapped to his belt, he regripped the 40-pound steel battering ram. Its two handles allowed it to swing like a giant pendulum, and according to the website, the concentrated impact at hand speed was somewhere in the vicinity of 6,000 pounds per square inch.
More than enough to do the trick.
He took a deep breath, straining to guide the tip of the thick black ram to the shiny brass knob, but not touch it. He held it there for a moment, lining up his shot, then he let the ram swing backwards. The momentum of its short, stubby mass wanted to carry him backwards with it, off the ornate front porch and down the majestic home’s marble stairs, but he forced his arms and shoulders to contain the pendulum.
When the battering ram reached the peak of its backwards arc, he brought it forward once again toward the door.
Exhaling hard, he rocked the ram backwards again. A bead of sweat rolled past the bandage and down the side of his face.
He swung it forward again, nearly touching the knob.
The ram arced backwards one last time. With a grunt, the Greyhound squeezed the steel handles and gritted his teeth, heaving the ram towards the door knob.
The impact sent a jolt up his arms and a thunderclap that boomed down the doctor’s long driveway and past the vintage Jaguar parked there, before fading into the night. As the door knob disappeared, a cloud of splinters took its place. The momentum of the ram carried Greyhound into the door frame, the ram disappearing up to the handles inside the thick wooden door.
He yanked the heavy steel tool a few times to get it free, then dropped it over the mansion’s stone porch rail and the into the manicured bushes. It landed with a thump in the thick mulch. The massive front door stood, cracked in several places and with a big hole where the knob used to be, but it inched open.
The Greyhound raised his foot to do the rest. Kicking the door, it swung open and crashed into the mahogany-paneled wall. The old man at the table was already on his feet, his eyes wide and his mouth half open with the next tiny bite of his elegant birthday dinner. He stormed toward the entrance of his home. “What do you think you’re doing? Who are you? Get out!”
Heart pounding, the Greyhound pulled his large gun from its holster and pointed it at the old man. “Shut up and sit down, Dr. Braunheiser.”
The headmaster stopped in his tracks, jaw agape. He slowly raised his hands.
“You don’t remember me, do you?” The Greyhound said.
Excerpt from Kill Switch by Dan Alatorre
Included in Do No Harm
Preorder it now:
Do No Harm
 Nook ★ Apple ★ Kobo

LLandeilo LitFest Review: “On the Red Hill” by Mike Parker


, , , , ,

Red Hill
One of the great perks of organising a Literature Festival is the number of literary gems that come our way in the shape of pitches, book submissions and pre-release copies from participating authors.

“On the Red Hill” is a particularly apt read for me. Like the author I was drawn to the Welsh countryside and culture, an ‘outsider’ who married a ‘local’ and found a true home in an unlikely place.

This is what happened not only to Mike Parker, but also to the much older couple he befriended and about whose house on the Red Hill he writes.
It is a beautiful, lyrical, entertaining and moving book, multi-layered and fragmented into chapters dedicated to seasons, elements and people.

Going through the diaries of the by now deceased previous owners and adding his and his partner’s own experiences of living in rural Wales as a gay couple this makes a beautiful caleidoscope of sentiment, charm and wit.
Mike Parker c. MPAgain, for me there were added parallels as I have been on the political campaign trail in Ceredigion in 2017; Mike Parker did the same in 2015 – although at the time both on opposing camps. Mike lost as Plaid candidate to the Liberals, I lost as Liberal campaigner
to our Plaid opponents.

But we share a love for the country, its people and peculiarities, probably have quite similar interests and ideals. I was pleased to find his journalistic background adding to rather than distorting the more lyrical and thoughtful side of the novel. This is a wonderful read and I hope to catch Mike at the festival to get his signature in my proof copy.

Here is the official synopsis:

A multi-layered memoir of love, acceptance, finding home and the redemptive power of nature. In early 2006, Mike Parker and his partner Peredur were witnesses at the first civil partnership ceremony in the small Welsh town of Machynlleth. The celebrants were their friends Reg and George, who had moved to deepest rural Wales in 1972, not long after the decriminalisation of homosexuality. When Reg and George died within a few weeks of each other in 2011, Mike and Peredur discovered that they had been left their home: a whitewashed `house from the children’s stories’, buried deep within the hills. They had also been left a lifetime’s collection of diaries, photographs, letters and books, all revealing an extraordinary history. On the Red Hill is the story of Rhiw Goch, `the Red Hill’, and its inhabitants, but also the story of a remarkable rural community and a legacy that extends far beyond bricks and mortar. On The Red Hill celebrates the turn of the year’s wheel, of ever-changing landscapes, and of the family to be found in the unlikeliest of places. Taking the four seasons, the four elements and these four lives as his structure, Mike Parker creates a lyrical but clear-eyed exploration of the natural world, the challenges of accepting one’s place in it, and what it can mean to find home.

Publisher: Cornerstone

ISBN: 9781785151934
Number of pages: 400



“On the Red Hill is an extraordinary book: brave and ground-breaking. It is far more than a queer and Welsh Howards End. Gossipy, inquisitive, confessional, lyrical, elegiac and camp-ly witty by turns, Parker offers us an unexpected and important meditation on change and on belonging, presenting four different gay lives associated with a single house. He shows us what it is that makes these lives matter.” — Peter J. Conradi
“A marvellous book. It is an uplifting tale of tranquillity sought and found in the nearest Britain gets to paradise.” — Simon Jenkins
“Structurally innovative, linguistically precise, and emotionally enervating, On the Red Hill is a praise-poem to adventure, belonging, the power of nature and, above all, to the resilience of human beings and the love between them. Parker’s great strength and passion is in illuminating certain hidden strata of these islands, in the unearthing and re-telling of stories silenced by the forces of political history; here, he applies those talents to his own biography, and to some of those blessed enough to share it. He has produced a beautiful, immersive and – in these testing times – vital and necessary book.” — Niall Griffiths
“Ostensibly set in one house in rural Wales, there are worlds on worlds within this lyrical and profoundly cultured book. In an age of toxic artifice, this is the most necessary medicine: the tenderness of reality and the living, elemental, world.” — Jay Griffiths
“On the Red Hill is a beautifully crafted journey into the most intimate space the author can possibly share- his home. The story of Rhiw Goch and its inhabitants is an intricately woven celebration and acknowledgment of life in modern rural Wales, always gripping, often romantic but never sentimental. This is the story of four men, two couples, one house, and the benevolent presence of Rhiw Goch is the protagonist in this story. The seasons colour the pages in vivid greens and deep russets, and the closeness to nature is raw and honest. The footpaths, streams and trees that surround the house are ever-present, even when Mike Parker is covering topics as diverse as the Second World War, trends in photography, and the gay history of Wales. There is a flow to this book which is in turn fascinating, funny, moving and touching. Mike Parker has long established himself as the master of capturing Wales, having managed time and time again to map the contours and cultures of the country with his words. With On the Red Hill, he surpasses himself. This is the truest version of modern Welsh life I have ever read.” — Manon Steffan Ros

Available for pre-order: #medicalthriller #boxset DO NO HARM

christoph vvMy book THE HEALER is part of this new box of medical thrillers – set to be released on Amazon later this year
You can order it now for .99!

DO NO HARM is an extraordinary, limited collection of medical thrillers written by USA Today, Wall Street Journal and Amazon best-selling authors.

Do you crave reading books with nail-biting suspense, twisted plots and great characters who get caught up in whirlwinds of crime, deception and lies? Do you love sitting on the edge of your seat, wondering who will survive…and who won’t?

background 1 vvFrom the mountains of West Virginia, to acute care hospitals, the battlefields of the Middle East and the hallowed halls of our educational system, join us for these incredible stories of healthcare gone wrong.

If you like Robin Cook, David Baldacci and Patricia Cornwell, this collection is for you! Do No Harm is a binge-readers dream – 14 medical thriller books in one! And you can only get this collection of books from this group of authors here!

Grab your copy today and find a comfortable chair!



Smorgasbord Book Reviews – #Shortstories – More Glimpses by Hugh W. Roberts

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Today I am delighted to review More Glimpses by Hugh W. Roberts. I enjoyed his first collection of short stories, Glimpses and his latest release does not disappoint.

About More Glimpses

Do you believe in fairies at the bottom of the garden? Or know the real truth about what lurks inside every mobile phone? Would you steal items from a blind person, or send your neighbours on a time travelling adventure fraught with danger and menace to save the human race from a bug? How about staying in a sleepy village where many murders have taken place or coming to the aid of royalty while out shopping?

‘More Glimpses’ gives the reader an opportunity to take a peek into the lives of normal, everyday people whose lives are all on a path full of twists, turns and unexpected endings. However, it’s not only about the humans; nothing escapes the extraordinary…

View original post 1,715 more words

Llandeilo Lit Fest Review: “Early Riser” by Jasper Fforde

One of our highlights at this year’s festival is welcoming back Jasper Fforde who just released “Early Riser”.  Jasper’s new book is a return to quirky and absurdist humour, yet it shines with literary quality and sharp observational humour.

Our anti hero Charlie gets thrown in at the deep end of his new job of watching over humans hibernating. It is far more dangerous than he thought due to night walkers and dangerous dreams – a really thought-through fantasy world with many allegories to our actual real world.

The characters are hilarious oddities you will love and recognise as one of Fforde’s many signature accomplishments. Few authors can make absurdist bureaucrats and anti-heroes both so laugbable and likeable.

The plot provides a lot of suspense as Charlie tries to get to the bottom of the sleep disturbances and uncovers a larger secret, yet everything is interspersed with hugely entertaining situational humour.

As I said, on a deeper level the book stimulates many thoughts on the symbolism of sleep, sleep disruption, world order and reality.

In our session Fforde will meet the creator of a different type of fantasy world, more akin to his work in The Last Dragon Slayer. I look forward to chatting to two similar and yet so different writers in the same broad genre of fantasy.

Jasper Fforde And Jonathan Crayford

More on Early Rider and Jasper:

Every Winter, the human population hibernates.

During those bitterly cold four months, the nation is a snow-draped landscape of desolate loneliness and devoid of human activity.

Well, not quite.

Your name is Charlie Worthing and it’s your first season with the Winter Consuls, the committed but mildly unhinged group of misfits who are responsible for ensuring the hibernatory safe passage of the sleeping masses.

You are investigating an outbreak of viral dreams which you dismiss as nonsense; nothing more than a quirky artefact borne of the sleeping mind.

When the dreams start to kill people, it’s unsettling.

When you get the dreams too, it’s weird.

When they start to come true, you begin to doubt your sanity.

But teasing truth from Winter is never easy: You have to avoid the Villains and their penchant for murder, kidnapping and stamp collecting, ensure you aren’t eaten by Nightwalkers whose thirst for human flesh can only be satisfied by comfort food, and sidestep the increasingly less-than-mythical WinterVolk.

But so long as you remember to wrap up warmly, you’ll be fine.

Praise for Jasper Fforde:

‘Forget all the rules of time, space and reality; just sit back and enjoy the adventure’ Telegraph

‘True literary comic genius’ Sunday Express

‘Ingenious’ Terry Pratchett