Today I am featuring a wonderful author, Anne Stormont, who used to live on the Isle of Skye and has a series set on the island of which this is the third about the lives of Rachel & Jack. Here is a link to Anne’s own blog where you will find all her news.

The path of true love rarely runs smoothly…

When former Edinburgh police detective Jack Baxter met local author and crofter Rachel Campbell on the Scottish island of Skye, they fell in love. It was a second chance at happiness for both of them.

They both had emotional baggage. Jack helped Rachel cope with unimaginable grief after the death in combat of her soldier son, and Rachel was there for Jack after a criminal with a grudge almost ended his life. There were many bumps along the road but they believed they’d worked through and settled their differences.

However, Jack is struggling. Still suffering from post-traumatic stress, haunted by his past, and taunted by the demons of self-doubt, he feels Rachel deserves better. 

Meanwhile, Rachel is busy preparing for the launch of her latest book – a book in honour of her son and aimed at promoting peace. So at first she fails to notice just how troubled Jack is. 

Can Jack overcome his demons? 

Can Rachel convince Jack he deserves to be loved?

Can they finally resolve their differences and fulfil their dreams together?

If you like mature, emotional and thought-provoking contemporary romance in a dramatic setting, then this is a book for you.

Welcome to the newest page on my blog which is to promote authors who are publishing a book in these difficult times and have had their events cancelled!

Today is the launch of the Blaze the Dog Detective book – The Magic Flag Mystery featuring the wonderful Blaze and his wee brother Laoch. I’ve no doubt that children will love it!

My latest launch is of an intriguing book put together by Val McDermid and Jo Sharp which features contributions from a whole range of people telling us what would make their ideal country. Please take the time to watch the video which has an introduction from Val and Jo plus a reading by six contributors. Special thanks to Val for providing the link and allowing me to write this piece. Enjoy!

Today I’m featuring the launch of the paperback edition of Lin Anderson’s latest novel – Time For The Dead which is the fourteenth book in the series featuring the forensic pathologist Rhona MacLeod. Rhona is traumatised by the events of her last case but, refuses to go to Castlebrae where Scottish police officers are usually sent to recuperate. Instead she decides she would rather go to the Isle of Skye where she spent many a happy hour with her grandparents as a child. On a visit to Ace Target sorts in Portree she meets the beautiful collie – Blaze who leads her to a place in the woods where something very unusual has happened. Of course Rhona feels the need to follow the trail and finds herself on a case involving some army medics who are training on the island. Of course there are dead bodies along the way but, the loyal Blaze helps Rhona find her way around Skye and eventually the pair manage to close the case. Having lived on Skye for many years as well as actually knowing Blaze along with his wee brother Laoch and owner Steve, the book enthralled me with it’s vivid, atmospheric descriptions of the island. The characters featured were very recognisable as typical Skye residents with their rather dour humour and Highland generosity. Altogether a highly recommended read as is the norm from this talented author!

Here we are folks our first virtual book launch which features a collection of poems by the Edinburgh based poet Russell Jones. Cocoon is out on April 1st and you can pre order here;- In the meantime here is a beautiful example of his work.

Russell is also Pet Poet Laureate of the UK and has also been kind enough to answer a few questions about his life as a poet.

1) What sparked my interest in poetry and how old was I? When did this progress to me writing poetry?

I was a big reader as a kid, especially loving pop-up books, comics and horror novels. I’m sure I must have read poetry when I was little (that’s where a lot of poetry exists and where we first meet it, usually) but nothing really specific sticks in my mind. Perhaps that’s because so many kid’s books, particularly for infants, use rhyme and rhythm to tell stories, so they’re somewhat indistinguishable from poetry. Perhaps it’s because I have a poor memory of my early years.

So my honest answer must be that I first remember poetry at secondary school. I liked that it felt like a puzzle, that I could read into it in different ways and that it didn’t seem to obey the rules. There’s something about that which probably appeals to a teen, seeking to forge their path and personality. I started writing it, quite unromantically, in an attempt to get into university. I knew I wanted to study literature, so was applying for all sorts of courses which involved literature modules. Some included Creative Writing modules, so I wrote a few poems to submit in my application, since they were short and (I thought) quick to produce. I recall my first poem was about a cardboard box slowly deteriorating in the rain. Bizarre, but I guess it worked.

Since then, my interest in poetry has been sparked by reading other poets. I am influenced by their personal rhythm and the sounds they lean towards, and I feel quite affected by those elements when I read. I strongly suspect this is why I am sometimes criticised as not having a “definite voice”, but it’s a criticism which I don’t really let worry me. Why does a writer need a single voice, or a specific trait which makes them feel like ‘them’? We are not a singular and permanent thing; we have different voices and conflicting opinions, even on a day to day basis. So, I’m just fine with that. I hope my variety and experiment is an element of what makes my poetry memorable. 

There’s also a warm buzz when you get something published, so I imagine there’s something addictive to that feeling as well. On a basic level, I guess it’s nice to be told you’re good at something, and whilst a lot of people don’t read poetry they often still hold it in some esteem (“Oh isn’t that lovely, you wrote that?!” at weddings and other important events). In some ways, we mark the important events in our lives with poetry, and — much like music — I think it connects with us in times of hardship, giving us a link to others.

2) Do I write full time, or do I have a day job too?

I am self-employed as a writer and editor. Very few writers, unfortunately, can make their living from writing alone. I do some boring writing work, to make enough money to allow me the time to write what I want. I like to try new things and think ‘evolution’ is important to art, so that it remains fresh and interesting. That’s why I like to collaborate with people who have skills which I don’t — we can learn from each other, and they’d approach a project with an entirely different mindset and skillset to me.

Day jobs can also be important to writers, since it can be easy to become trapped in a writerly bubble and forget what life is like for non-writers. Since I write prose, as well as poetry, I don’t want to lose that sense of reality too much. I certainly don’t want my characters all to be writers — how dull that would be!

3) How did I become the UK Pet Poet Laureate?

I saw an advert, and I applied. I wasn’t especially professional about my application, I just talked about how much I loved animals and how many pets I’d had, and send them some poems. I was chosen by the Poetry Society and Blue Cross animal charity. I had to write several poems with the guidelines of Blue Cross, usually to communicate a specific message or idea about how important pets can be in our lives. I entirely believe that animals can be lifechanging in many positive ways, although it wasn’t always easy to write positive poems (as my natural urge is to go somewhere much darker). I was especially pleased to produce a video poem about my dog, Pakkun, as it highlights the transformative power of living with an animal and will be a lovely memento when we finally do have to say goodbye on the mortal plane. Here’s a link to that video: