Blog Tour – A Shetland Winter Mystery by Marsali Taylor

Today I’m pleased to be part of The Sheltand Winter Mystery for Marsail Taylor and Reading Between the Lines blog tours

I understand you live and work on Sheltand, what drew you to the island and what’s your favourite place there?

Well, the answer’s rather prosaic: we were advised, at teacher training college, to apply to every region in Scotland with fingers crossed, as jobs were scarce. My first offer of a job was a letter from the Shetland Director of Education, saying there were two vacancies for a French/English teacher in Shetland. I knew I wanted to be in the country and near the sea, and I liked the idea of a small school, so I chose Aith (school roll 180 pupils aged 5-16). My first view of Shetland was the drive to my interview there, on the most gorgeous summer day, along quiet roads with green, green hills on one side and the sea dancing on the other. I fell in love straight away. That was forty years ago in August … 

My favourite place is what’s called “the Minn” locally – Swarback’s Minn, the hand-shaped piece of water between Aith, Brae and the wild Atlantic – my sailing territory. There are headlands with a variety of birds, beaches with seals basking and otters ducking under, porpoises and I’ve even seen a humpbacked whale, all within sailing distance of the marina, which is only 400m from my front doorstep. On a good day I can get from doorstep to the middle of the voe with the sails up and engine off in 17 minutes! Yes, of course Cass’ beloved yacht Khalida bears more than a passing resemblance to my own Karima…

Shetland has its own unique dialect and I understand that you have written plays in the dialect. Will any of that dialect be seen in your novel?

The Shetland dialect is just beautiful to listen to – to hear it, have a look on BBC Sounds for Mary Blance’s Radio Shetland Books programme. The dialect’s a mixture of old Scots and Norn, the old form of Norwegian, with many words of Norse origin still in common use – the islands were Norwegian territory until 1469, and some Norn was still spoken by older folk in Victorian times. Many of my pupils speak in dialect, and I wrote the plays for them to perform at our local Drama Festival. In the novels I’ve tried to give a feel of the rhythm of the speech without putting readers off by phonetic spelling, and I’ve used dialect words where the meaning can be guessed from the context (though there’s also a glossary at the back). The grammar’s also different; for example, a Shetlander would say ‘I’m been’ to the shop, instead of ‘I have been.’ For example, if Cass’s friend Magnie was to greet her with, ‘Now then, Cass, where have you been since I last saw you?’, I’d write it as, ‘Now then, lass, where’re you been fae I saw you last?’ but it would actually sound like ‘Noo dan, Cass, whaur’s du been fae I saa dee last?’

When did you start writing, and why?

I’ve always written, since I was a child. I love telling stories. I began on my first adult novel as soon as I left University, and wrote five before I finally got a publisher for Death on a Longship – two historical romances, and three Shetland detective stories, all still unpublished. My first published works, apart from articles in the local magazine Shetland Life, were Shetland Plays and my self-published Women’s Suffrage in Shetland. It was meant to be a pamphlet, but so much was involved in the suffrage fight – education, working conditions, divorce, and custody laws and property ownership – and it went on for so long, from the first House of Commons bill in 1860 to partial women’s suffrage in 1919, that it ended up 320 pages.

What motivates you to write?

I write because I love doing it. Every morning after breakfast, I take a quick walk round the village, then head for my desk and get on with Cass’s latest adventure … or my Practical Boat Owner column … or a short story for our monthly local writers’ group meeting. I’m always writing something.

A Shetland Winter Mystery (The Shetland Sailing Mysteries Book 14) Kindle Edition

Who is your favourite of your characters and why?

My favourite character … hard question. I’ve got fond of them all! Cass is like a sometimes-exasperating little sister but I love her determination and fearlessness (I wish I had her head for heights!), and her cool head in a crisis. I love Gavin’s quiet sense of humour, his passion for wildlife, his unflappability. Maman is great fun when she swans on in her best dramatic fashion with a mixture of opera theatricality and French common-sense, and I enjoy Dad’s belief that his Cassie will only be truly happy when she finds a good Catholic man and has six children. Dream on, Dad! I genuinely don’t use real people in my stories, with one exception: some day my fifteen-year-old grandson is going to be asking searching questions about who inspired the engaging but naughty Peerie Charlie.

Who is your least favourite of your characters, and why?

Least favourite characters … I’ve created a few very unpleasant people. I won’t name them because of spoilers, but I think the worst are in The Shetland Sea Murders…. which just happens to be my last book. In it, Cass is on board our own tall ship, Swan, for a birthday weekend when a fishing boat goes on the rocks. The book is structured on the history of women’s suffrage and this is reflecting in the characters – so, for example, the first section links to the fight for women to get custody of their children, and involves possible child abuse; the second section links to women officials, and one character has the ambition of being Shetland’s first woman Convenor of the Council, and so on; I hope in the final chapters you’ll see Cass as a modern descendant of those determined women who drove ambulances under fire in World War I.

Tell us about your last book…

My newest book, A Shetland Winter Mystery, is set during ‘the Yules’, the old Norse word for Christmas, which has a number of traditions associated with it. One of them is that during the dark days before Christmas the ‘trows’, Shetland’s little people, are set free to roam round the houses. The book opens with Cass and Gavin waking to find little footprints in the snow around the house – and they’re not the only house to be visited. Naturally Cass begins investigating, and then a teenager disappears from the middle of a snowy field …

What’s coming next…

Well, the next Cass is half-planned and 11,000 words long – a tenth of the way! I don’t do a complete plan because it changes so much during writing, and because it’s more fun for me if I don’t know what’s going to happen next either. However, I do know it will involve the Book of the Black Arts, a book of spells stolen from the Devil himself, last seen in Cullivoe, on the north island of Yell, in Victorian times …

Thank you very much for letting me feature on your blog, and I hope you enjoy A Shetland Winter Mystery.

Author Marsali Taylor photographed onboard her yacht in Aith Marina, Shetland, Sep 2005

Marsali Taylor grew up near Edinburgh, and came to Shetland as a newly-qualified teacher. She is currently a part-time teacher on Shetland’s scenic west side, living with her husband and two Shetland ponies. Marsali is a qualified STGA tourist-guide who is fascinated by history, and has published plays in Shetland’s distinctive dialect, as well as a history of women’s suffrage in Shetland. She’s also a keen sailor who enjoys exploring in her own 8m yacht, and an active member of her local drama group.

Bio copied from Amazon.

Thanks to Marsali for answering my questions, and don’t forget to see what everyone else has to say on the rest of the blog tour.

Get Covered – the Business of Writing

We’re always told not to judge a book by its cover, but let’s face it, we all do.

The reason I’m talking about this is because I’ve recently gone through the process of getting the Locked Series recovered and reissued. 

Now I love these books, I always have, and I have no problems with the original covers, but as I was reissuing them under the HanWill Publishing banner, they needed new covers and covers which are consistent so they look like a set.

To get these designed, I had to get someone else to put them together for me. I know what I want from a cover, but I simply don’t have the skills to create it. And one thing that really bugs me, is seeing a really naff cover that lacks a professional finish. You see when I see that I really do judge the book by its cover. That indicates to me that the author couldn’t be bothered to invest in good design, so they probably didn’t invest in a good editor either, so I won’t invest my time in reading them.

I don’t want my books to be viewed that way. So I found a good designer.

Mark Thomas of Coverness design was a joy to work with. We chatted about what I wanted and agreed a budget. I gave him the brief, and he very quickly turned around what I needed.

We had a small cross communication as I initially received the draft designs on my phone and everything looked blue though it wasn’t, hopefully, you’ll see the difference from the picture.  So, if you go through this process yourself, always check the imagery on more than one device.

There were, of course, tweaks that needed doing and Mark was great for turning everything around quickly and I was really happy with the brief.

Top tips I can give for working with any designer, is be prepared.  Think about what you need before you contact the designer and when you do, have as tight a brief ready as you can. As clear a guide as you can get to what you want to see. Also have the following in place:

  • The title
  • The byline
  • The blurb
  • Any strap line or other you want on the cover
  • What format you need – hardback, paperback, ebook, audiobook (or any combination thereof)
  • The size of the physical format

If you have them the number of pages and the ISBN might be useful to give too.

Would also suggest that you do your due diligence, check websites, read testimonials, make sure that you are dealing with a reputable designer. And if you need a recommendation – I highly recommend Coverness, easy to work with, and a great final product.

Name Check

Reasons to do your research

Today is the first day of NaNoWriMo, for those who don’t recognise this, it stands for National Novel Writing Month, it’s an American initiative to get people writing. I’ve been taking part most years since I heard about it in 2013.

I’m writing ‘Scenes in My Head’, in other words, any scene from any of the books currently jostling for a place in my brain. The particular scene I’m writing today is from a police procedural. And in this scene, the lead investigator gets a call from another force.

The force in question covers Kent. As I grew up in Kent, I know that it was always called the KCC, the Kent County Constabulary. So that’s what I wrote. I also know that their headquarters is in the center of Maidstone.

Turns out, I don’t know much.

Kent County Constabulary did have its headquarters in the centre of Maidstone, but now they’ve moved to the North Kent Police Station, which is actually in Gravesend.

They also aren’t called Kent County Constabulary anymore either. Although they do hold the distinction of having been the last force to have kept the word ‘county’ in their name, in 2002, they changed their name to Kent Police.

It’s also interesting to note that Kent Police are, as far as I can tell, the only ones with a station on foreign soil, as they have a station in Coquelles, France

They were also the first force to have a black chief constable, Michael Fuller – 5 January 2004 to 16 February 2010, who also happens to have written a book, “Kill the Black One Fist“, which might interest some of you.

So, the moral of the story is – do your research, and check your facts, even the facts you absolutely KNOW you know.

Author Interview – Ann Bloxwich

I first met Ann at the Bloody Scotland crime festival a number of years ago. A bubbly, popular, confident woman with a dream to chase, and now she’s gaining momentum.

When did you start writing, and why?

It’s a strong desire to prove myself, and to make my family proud of me. I was always told I’d never amount to anything, and for years I believed it. My dream is to see my books in bookshops and on the bestsellers lists, knowing how hard I worked to get there and so I can say ‘I did it. I chased my dreams and made them happen.’

Which do you like to write, series or standalones?  If you write both, what do you find the difference?

I find a series easier in that I can develop my characters more fully. I do have a standalone outlined but have a feeling that it may turn into a series if I fall in love with the characters.

Is there anything you wouldn’t write about?

I’d like to think I could tackle almost anything, as long as it is done with the utmost respect for the victims. Having said that, I don’t think I could ever write about animal abuse.

Who is your favourite of your characters, why and in which books do they appear?

I have a couple of favourites. My favourite is Alex Peachey, he’s the kind of policeman I would want to help me if I was in trouble. When I’m writing a scene with him, I ask myself what I would do if I were in his shoes, then he reacts the same way I would. My second favourite is Matt Farrow, aka Faz. He’s based on my old sports physio – and has the same name – and has a similar sick sense of humour. I’m enjoying developing his character, and you’ll be seeing more of him in future books.

Who is your least favourite of your characters, why and in which books do they appear?

Vicky Wilson was my least favourite in the first book,. She was exactly like the kind of person I used to see hanging around at ladies’ nights, hoping to pull one of the guys and being rude to the staff or other performers because they thought they were something special. I’m still writing the second book, so haven’t decided yet who’s my least favourite.

Tell us about your last book…

What Goes Around’ is the first in the DI Alex Peachey series and sees Alex being called back to work from leave to find the killer of a young woman after a ladies’ night. With a house move imminent and issues with his disabled son, it’s the last thing Alex needs but he has no choice when his colleague is rushed to hospital. Vicky Wilson had been dating one of the male strippers, an unpleasant, self-centred man named Ray Diamond, and had last been seen heading to join him backstage during the show. Alex has to figure out whether Ray is telling the truth when he says he didn’t kill Vicky or whether he’s so arrogant he thinks he can get away with murder.

What’s coming next…

‘What Doesn’t Kill You’ (provisional title).
‘Survivors’ is a counselling and therapy group for women who were abused as children. They meet up each week, safe in the knowledge that everything they discuss is confidential. Souls are bared and fears are expressed without judgement or ridicule. They can talk openly in a place where they feel safe, in the hope they can work through their terrible experiences and start to move forward. Then their abusers start turning up dead, each body bearing a gift card that reads ‘Goodnight, God Bless.’
Specific methods of torture suggests that the killer knows the women very well indeed, with knowledge of privileged information. Information that could only have come from inside that room.
DI Alex Peachey and his team have to tread carefully to find out if the killer is a mere vigilante, determined to free these women from their nightmares, or if there is more to this case than meets the eye.

Link to Buy: What Goes Around

I’m a short, tattooed crime writer, with a profound love of cats and rock music. I’ve worked as an Oompa Loompa in a chocolate factory, a carer in a residential home, and had my own promotions company before I became an author.

‘What Goes Around’ is the first book in the DI Alex Peachy Series. I’ve also had short stories published in two charity anthologies produced by ‘Crime & Publishment’, a crime writing workshop run by Graham Smith at The Mill Forge hotel in Gretna Green. When I’m not writing, I’m usually attending book festivals.

Thank you Ann, I’m looking forward to seeing you again at the next festival.


I have secured the rights back for Locked Up and Locked In, so at last the Locked Trilogy is reunited, re-edited, re-covered, and now re-released.

So come met Charlie Bell, the ex-dectective sergeant who crosses a line or two. Prison Officer Ariadne Teddington walks a dangerous line, and never expected to be attracted to a convict. DCI Matthew Piper never thought a friend ofhis would end up behind bars, so why is the guilty man the one he trusts more than any other.

Book Review – Feral Snow by Mark Lowes

Feral Snow is Mark’s debut novel – and what a debut!

Feral Snow: 'A simply stunning debut' Kindle Edition

Terrified of fatherhood, Paul runs away from his pregnant wife to join an Artic documentary filming crew, for the money of course. He’s really not suited to the climate and on his first trip into the white, he falls into a crevasse. From there it is a gripping tale of his fight for survival against the cold, loneliness, and his own bitter self-loathing. Then a native girl falls in to the crevasse with him, and he learns what he would do to save a child and be a man, be a father.

This book delves into the fierce and often surprising nature of humanity. Contrasting the man’s lack of self-belief with the indomitable spirit of a child. It examines the nature of father-child relationships with examples of the best and worst of what that can mean. And by the end you are left wondering which is the child, which the adult and if indeed there is a difference.

I found that the solution was just a bit too neat for my personal taste, I simply didn’t click with the resolution – that is – I didn’t until the very last paragraph. Then the all too happy ending made so much more sense.

This only gets a four-star from me because I really struggled to slog through the first 60 pages – but that said – from there on I read in one sitting because I just couldn’t put it down, I had to know what happened next. This book will keep you reading and it moved me to tears in parts.

Also note that I can totally see why so many others rightfully give it 5*.

This is an excellent debut novel and I would recommend it to readers.

Buy Link: Feral Snow

An image posted by the author.

Mark Lowes is a former teacher, current early childhood educator, and a dad. He lives in Cardiff, Wales, UK, and is sometimes found lamenting over how awful his football team is. While he’s not working with deaf children and their families, he’s writing dark and twisty fiction.

Mark is the winner of Litopia’s Pop-Up Submissions and of a pitch contest at the Cardiff Book Festival.

(This bio and the image are copied from Mark’s Amazon page)

Blog Tour – Devil’s Cauldron by Alasdair Wham

Alasdair Wham is another new to me writer, so I wanted to find out a bit more about him and his work. 

Alasdair’s latest books is “Devil’s Cauldron”, here’s the blurb:

What would you do if you saw your father murdered and no one believed you? When he was twelve Finn McAdam, saw his father, a scientist, murdered. No one believed him. Now he has returned to his native Galloway to discover the truth. Wherever it leads him. Whatever it costs. But the conspiracy he discovers exposes a cover-up involving leading political figures and places his life in great danger. Some people are determined that the truth must not get out.

Here’s what Alasdair had to tell me about him and his work.

One of my earliest memories is attempting to write a story. It was two lines and I wanted to add if it was true or false. I had probably just started primary school. During primary my compositions were noted for imagination and being somewhat gory. By the time of secondary school, I was writing science fiction but with little success or sense of progress. So, in a sense I have always wanted to write stories.

After university, where I studied Chemistry, I wrote two novels. The first ‘Shadow of the Cloud’ was about a gold heist during a nuclear attack, written in the eighties it was partly to highlight the madness of nuclear weapons. The next novel was ‘Second Chance’ a spy thriller based in Scotland. I sent both books away to agents and publishing houses and got a fairly positive response, one agent seeing potential!

A growing family and a busy teaching career meant that I had no time to write. What kick-started my writing again and took it in a different direction was a weekend trip away when I had the chance to abseil from a disused railway viaduct in Galloway – the iconic Big Water of Fleet viaduct. Along with my sons I became interested in exploring disused railways, discovering their history and what remained. Articles in newspapers and magazines followed and then my first book – Lost Railways of Galloway – a series of explorations of the disused railways in that area. It proved very popular, and I subsequently wrote another seven books on the same theme. The explorations took me all over Scotland and sales of the books totalled about 12,000. I spoke on the radio on disused railways and gave a talk at the Wigtown Book Festival. I have always had a publisher for the railway books.

However, time catches up with you and your knees so in retirement with the encouragement of friends I decided to write another novel. I mulled over the plot in my head for months writing little down and set in the Scottish island of Islay. Machir Bay was the result. The consequence of a wartime tragedy, a mysterious plane crash, missing gold (spot a link to my first novel) and the story of two families. A youthful romance between Peter and Catherine, which ended abruptly and then the return of Catherine to the island years later. Accusations of attempted rape by Catherine which Peter, who was drugged has no recollection. Complicating matters is that in the intervening years Peter had married Jenny, an artist. Peter’s problems lead him into danger as he exposes a drug run between Northern Ireland and Islay operated by Desmond McGrory, an Irish drug baron.

I started, as you do, with the first chapter, rewritten innumerable times, and then the daily discipline of a chapter a day, with weekends off to plot the next section and to my surprise I finished it. I employed a copy editor and decided to publish myself.

To my surprise the book proved popular and sold 1100 copies in paperback and is now on Kindle. Machir Bay was reviewed positively in magazines and newspapers and through Amazon sold all over the United Kingdom. In Islay it was particularly successful. Waterstones and other bookshops had healthy sales and there was a successful launch at Waterstones in Ayr. The sequel Bac Mor continuing the story of Peter and Jenny and their final showdown with Desmond McGrory and takes the story to Mull and Iona. A publisher showed interest in my work, but COVID killed that dream.

I have a plot to complete the Peter and Jenny trilogy but decided to give them a rest, a period of recovery. Still learning my craft, I wanted to try different characters set in a different area.

My writing has been influenced by my railway explorations and the need to describe scenes accurately. I set my stories in places that I know and hope that people would recognise the places that I write about. A major influence is Desmond Bagley, a popular thriller writer from the 1970s. His novel, Running Blind set in Iceland was one of my favourite books and his descriptions of the dramatic Icelandic landscape was remarkable. When the BBC filmed the book, I could recognise where most of the scenes were set. He could also write thrilling chase sequences. I wanted to emulate him, and all my fiction contain chase sequences. 

The latest book Devil’s Cauldron is set in Galloway, and I am proud that I could use my knowledge of the disused railways as part of the plot. When he was twelve Finn McAdam saw his father, a scientist, murdered. No one believed him. Now he has returned to his native Galloway to discover the truth.

But the conspiracy he discovers exposes a cover-up involving leading political figures and places his life in great danger. Some people are determined that the truth must not get out.

During the First World War, a large munitions factory was set up in south-west Scotland to meet the crippling shortage of cordite for shells on the Western Front. On a visit, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle labelled the cordite paste as the Devil’s Porridge. After the world wars, the area was used mainly for storing munitions until a new unit nicknamed the Devil’s Cauldron was set up.

Mainly set in Galloway, the story should appeal to those who enjoyed John Buchan’s classic novel ‘The 39 Steps’ or Dorothy L Sayers’ Five Red Herrings’.

A fourth novel, Delivery Boy, written during lockdown, is completed in draft. Billy Baxter’s life was ruined when he lost his parents in a car crash as a boy. His Uncle Dean’s offers of help came at a price and Billy was drawn into a nightmare from which he can’t escape unless…. Now everyone is out to murder Billy, but murder is the least of his fears.

So far, all my novels have been told through the eyes of the narrator which I have found a useful approach, allowing me to show the vulnerability of the character and conceal information about him. Peter, Jenny and Finn are all very human faced with great danger they survive. They are not heroes in the classical sense, but ordinary people face with challenging situations, reacting as I think we might if faced with the same circumstances. I also like telling a story partly in flashback gradually revealing more of their background. Peter’s earlier life is important and is told between chapters set in the present. The two stories gradually merge and then the pace picks up.

Basically, I love writing and plotting and become very absorbed in my tales.  Once I start, I try to write a chapter each day, then take the dog for a walk, come back and edit my efforts. Some days there are few changes, other days there can be a rewrite but the momentum to keep up the pace means that it only takes a few months to complete a novel. Often the choice phrases that I thought I would use in the initial draft are edited out.

My favourite character is Finn McAdam, the main character in the Devil’s Cauldron. Not just because he is a Chemistry teacher! He faces challenges, the opposition of his family and the people involved in the conspiracy and doesn’t give up. Finn is vulnerable, has too high an opinion of his dad, suffers from PTSD but is determined to expose the wrongdoing that killed his father.

Alasdair Wham


I worked as a deputy head teacher, at a large comprehensive secondary school in Ayrshire, for many years and live in Ayr with my wife and a lively Border Collie and enjoy retirement. Since the age of five I have wanted to write a novel. It only took 60 years for me to fulfil my ambition.

I have previously written a series of popular books exploring Scotland’s disused railways, recording the history of the lines and incidents and personalities associated with the routes.  The first explorations took place in Galloway over twenty-five years ago and now cover ‘lost railways’ from Galloway to the Borders and the Trossachs. The explorations were a family affair with the help of my four sons.

I love writing, exploring different parts of Scotland and using my imagination.

Alasdair on Amazon
Devil’s Cauldron

Interesting to see the reference to Desmond Bagley – I used to love his work too.  Thanks to Alasdair and Reading Between the Lines for including me on this blog tour.  Best luck with the book.

Blog Tour – The Migrant by Paul Alkazraji

Paul is a new to me author, so I had a bit of a chat with Paul to find out more about the author and his book.


Fascist populists, callous sex-traffickers and murderous mafia gangs – these were not what Pastor Jude Kilburn had expected to face when he moved to Albania. But when vulnerable 19-year-old Alban disappears from his poverty-stricken village to seek work in Greece, Jude has to undertake the perilous journey across the mountains to try and rescue him from the ruthless Athenian underworld. Accompanied by a volatile secret-service agent and a reformed gangster, Jude soon finds himself struggling to keep everyone together as personal tensions rise and violent anti-austerity riots threaten to tear them apart and undermine the mission. Caught between cynical secret police and a brutal crime syndicate, the fate of them all will be determined by a trafficked girl – but not every one will make it home. The Migrant is a tense and evocative thriller with a powerful redemptive twist.

When did you start writing, and why?

I began writing poetry as a relief from my Business Studies degree in the 1980s. It helped me get a lot of feelings off my chest. Things really began to flourish, though, after I took a course with the London School of Journalism in Freelance Journalism. Then I relished the freedom of pursuing the subjects and people who interested me – drawing out what they had to say about their life and work. I very much enjoyed formulating a range of questions, giving people space to talk, and then eking out the gems of their experience for others to appreciate.

What motivates you to write?

There’s a lot of satisfaction in taking the essence of my own life experience and telling others about it, and knowing that through the medium of fiction, which I’ve been focusing on recently, I have the reader’s company with me in that, albeit for a brief period of time, as they follow the narrative.

What do you like to do to relax when not writing?

I enjoy travelling around Albania, North Macedonia and Greece. I like skiing in these locations in the winter too, and listening to pop, jazz and folk music.

Tell us about your latest book.

‘The Migrant’ is a story about someone, a pastor, who takes on the responsibility to care enough for another person in his village, a young man called Alban, such that he is ready to go the extra kilometre, over 500 of them in fact, to the Greek capital of Athens to see if he is safe. He arrives in Athens as the dangers all around Alban are building – violent anti-austerity riots, the rise of far right political groups and racist attacks, the clutches of a trafficking gang, a cynical police operation – and then races against time to reach him.

Who is your favourite of your characters, why and in which books do they appear?

Some of them from ‘The Migrant’ would be ‘Che’ Chaconas the anarchist, Granit Korabi the criminal gang member, Stavros ‘The Big Man’, a far right thug, and Donis Xenakis, a member of the Greek riot police. They each have something amusing, interesting or colourful about them, even though they are characters at the darker end of the spectrum. But the protagonist, Jude, the pastor who takes on the search for Alban, has more of my personal empathy.

Anything else you want to share?  

I hope readers of ‘The Migrant’ might be transported into another time and place and feel well entertained, and that they might become more aware of the lives of others caught up in similar circumstances among the migrations of our time. I also hope they might take inspiration to go those extra kilometres for someone when they may be the only person who can turn their situation around.

Paul Alkazraji worked as a freelance journalist in the UK from the mid-nineties. His articles were published broadly including in Scotland on Sunday and The Independent. He has published five books including his latest ‘The Migrant’, a thriller set in Albania and Greece, with Instant Apostle. A Brit working overseas, he has lived in the south of Albania for 18 years.

Author Profile:
Goodreads Profile:
Twitter Link:

Thanks to Paul Alkazraji and Reading between the lines for including me in this blog tour.  Paul – hope everything goes well with the book.

Blog Tour – Creativity Matters by Wendy H Jones

I was lucky enough to meet Wendy a few years ago at the first Bloody Scotland I ever attended. I was impressed right away with the confidence and achievements of the bundle of energy that is Wendy H Jones.

Wendy is the author of the DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries and the Cass Claymore Investigates series, she also writes various non-fiction. She has also managed that interesting cross over of writing children’s fiction.

Creativity Matters: Find Your Passion For Writing is part of her Writing Matters series and this one is aimed at readers who want to be writers.


Have you always thought about writing a book but don’t know where to start? Are you an experienced author and want to spread your wings? Are you looking for inspiration for every step in your writing journey? This is a book for everyone who wants to write, whether history or contemporary, science fiction or humour, local fiction or set in a made-up world, fiction, non-fiction, memoir, there’s something here for you. Join thirteen authors as they share their passion for why you should write in their genre and find your own passion as you read.
It’s time for you to spread your wings, follow your dreams and find your passion for writing.

My thoughts

This volume is broken into easy-to-read chunks about writing in different genres and themes. Most of the chapters are written by different authors, those write about their area of specialisation. This book, like many instructional volumes, is one that can be dipped in and out of.

I read the introductions, the final chapters and Wendy’s chapter on writing crime, she wrote other chapters too, but that was the one that attracted me. I also dipped into a couple of other chapters by other authors I don’t know, and they are all ably written and self-contained. To be honest, as an already published author, this didn’t encourage me to write more, it didn’t speak to me personally, but then I’m not the intended audience. If you, or if you have a friend or relative who is unsure about writing, what to write, or even if to write, this book has some interesting points to consider, so as always make sure that the book is right for the reader.


Wendy H Jones is the Amazon #1 international best-selling author of the award winning DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries. Her Young Adult Mystery, The Dagger’s Curse was a finalist in the Woman Alive Readers’ Choice Award. She is also The President of the Scottish Association of Writers, an international public speaker, and runs conferences and workshops on writing, motivation and marketing. Wendy is the founder of Crime at the Castle, Scotland’s newest Crime Festival. She is the editor of a Lent Book, published by the Association of Christian Writers and also the editor of the Christmas Anthology from the same publisher. Her first children’s book, Bertie the Buffalo, was released in December 2018. Motivation Matters: Revolutionise Your Writing One Creative Step at a Time, was released in May 2019. The Power of Why: Why 23 Women Took the Leap to Start Their Own Business was released on 29th June, 2020. Marketing Matters: Sell More Books was released on 31st July 2020. Bertie Goes to the Worldwide Games will be released on 5th May, 2020, and the third book in the Fergus and Flora Mysteries will be published in 2021. Her new author membership Authorpreneur Accelerator Academy launched in January 2021. Creativity Matters: Find Your Passion for Writing the third book in her Writing Matters Series will be published in September 2021.

TWITTER @WendyHJones

Thanks to Wendy and Reading Between the Lines for including me in this blog tour, and Wendy – all this best with this and every book you publish.

Blog Tour – Scars by Dan Scottow

Dan Scottow’s thrid book “Scars” released on August 3rd.

Scars: an unforgettable psychological thriller by [Dan Scottow]


The wounds you can’t see take the longest to heal…

In an isolated cottage on the banks of a Scottish loch, a reclusive couple take on a new live-in carer.

As Lucy gets to know her employers, she realises the house and the people in it aren’t what they seem. Is the house haunted or is something far more sinister living within the walls?

As secrets and lies begin to unravel, Lucy starts to question what is real. But one thing seems certain, if scars cannot heal, people will never forgive…


When Lucy starts a new job in remote Willow Cottage, the scenery may be idyllic, but the circumstances aren’t. A car crash has left Richard a paraplegic and in need of a great deal of care, care his wife Diana struggles to give with her own injures from the same crash. They need the assistance of a carer, and Lucy isn’t the first. In constant pain, Diana struggles with the overuse of alcohol and narcotics. Lucy learns more of the couple’s troubled past and the truth of what happened. And then things start to happen that no one can explain…

This book starts with a strange tale of torture, but the real pain is inflicted in the following chapters which talk of unstable personalities, lies, and psychosis.

This is a good read, well written, it will keep you turning the pages. The final resolution, however, is not a surprise, though it is well done.

Would recommend.

Link to Buy: Scars (on Amazon)

An image posted by the author.

Dan grew up in Hertfordshire before moving to London in his early twenties. After more than ten years living there, he decided enough was enough, and packed his bags for Scotland in search of a more peaceful life.

Dan works as a graphic designer, but dreams of the day he can give it up and write full time.

Besides writing, he enjoys painting, watching a good scary film, travelling the world, good food, long walks on the beach with his dogs, and of course, reading a great book.