Beneath the Skin Blog Tour + Guest Post

beneath-the-skinBeneath the Skin
by Sandra Ireland

Published by Polygon
Paperback – £9.99 Ebook – £4.74
Taking a job in the studio of an Edinburgh taxidermist probably isn’t Walt’s wisest decision. Suffering from combat stress and struggling to outrun the demons from his past, he now finds himself confronted by the undead on a daily basis.

His enigmatic boss, Alys, and her sister, Mouse, have their own uneasy relationship with the past. Someone doesn’t want to let them go. Can Walt save Mouse’s eight-year-old son, William, from becoming the next victim? And can he save himself?

Deliciously disturbing, this psychological thriller peels back the skin of one modern family to reveal the wounds no one wants to see. It deals with the effects of trauma and how facing up to vulnerability is sometimes the only way to let go of the past.

Writing Spooky Fiction
Guest Post by Sandra Ireland

The nights are drawing in, the cold wind is moaning and the shops are stuffed with pumpkins, ‘Scream’ masks and witches’ hats. We’re approaching All Hallow’s Eve, the ancient Feast of Samhain, when the veil between worlds is stretched to its thinnest…

Not surprising, then, that our writerly musings turn to thoughts of ghost stories and all things spooky! But what makes a tale spooky? What is it that thrills us, while simultaneously making us want to hide behind the sofa?

I think we have to start with character. You can add as many scary tropes as you can shake a stick at, but the real terror lies in your character’s reaction to the circumstances they face. What is a ghost, a demon or a villain without someone to interact with? This may seem obvious, but the drama comes from within the protagonist…gut-trembling emotional response is what resonates with the reader. Often writers are afraid of going OTT with emotion, but in teasing out  such reactions, you are inviting your audience to bond with this character, to experience their fear and feel for themselves the darkness, the tension, the danger.

This is perfectly played out in Susan Hill’s acclaimed ghost story The Woman in Black. Arthur Kipps, a junior solicitor, is called upon to attend to the affairs of the deceased owner of the decidedly creepy Eel Marsh House. Wreathed in mist and mystery, the house and its eerie setting play a big part in ramping up the tension, but it is Kipps’ sheer mounting terror when he realises he is not alone that sends shivers down the spine.

In the following passage, Arthur, having heard the anguished cry of a child trapped in the marsh, finds himself paralysed with fear (As in all good ghost stories, his torch is broken and it’s dark).

‘For a moment I was as near to weeping tears of despair and fear, frustration and tension as I had ever been since my childhood. But instead of crying, I drummed my fists upon the floorboards, in a burst of violent rage, until they throbbed. It was Spider [the dog] who brought me to my senses by scratching a little at my arm and by licking the hand I stretched out to her. We sat on the floor together, and I hugged her warm body to me…and again and again I heard that child’s terrible cry borne on the gusts towards me.’

Notice how the haunting cry of the ghost child is almost peripheral- there are no mad shrieks, or howlings, or faces at the window. We are totally invested in Arthur’s fear, and even that pares down to an image of this man, vulnerable and close to tears, cuddling his dog for comfort. We’re immediately returned to the seat of our childhood fears; dark nights and monsters under the bed. We can’t help but relive our own fear.

And that, Dear Writer, is my recipe for crafting a spooky story. Keep it simple, keep it emotional, and let the reader do the work!

sandra-irelandAbout the author:

Sandra Ireland is an award-winning writer, poet and artist. Born in Yorkshire, she was brought up in the North East and lived for many years in Éire. Her work has appeared in various women’s magazines and publications such as New Writing Dundee, Dundee Writes and ‘Furies’, an anthology of women’s poetry. Beneath the Skin is her first novel and was inspired by a love of all things curious and unseen.

Twitter: @22_ireland

Praise for Beneath the Skin…

“The debut novel from Sandra Ireland is an exceptional calling card.” The Courier

“Sandra Ireland shows an impressive skill at locating her reader’s empathy and drawing it out to make you both emotionally invested and totally hooked on the action.” Becky Hinshelwood, Books etc.

Powerful, unsettling, captivating.” Liz Robinson, Love Reading UK

Sandra is available for interviews and features. Photographs are also available on request.

For more information, or to arrange an interview with Sandra, please contact:
Dawn Geddes, Freelance Publicity Officer at Bookish PR
Tel: 07548 710980 Email: Web:


Very Superstitious!

Upon the release of the last Rae Hatting novel, Blackout, I thought I would write a post about some of the commonly held superstitions by theatre folk. I’ve been involved in the theatre since I was 10, and there are many common (and obscure) things practiced by us actors, mostly to keep terrible things from happening during the course of rehearsals and shows. So, please take your seats. The performance is about to begin!

thomas_keene_in_macbeth_1884_wikipedia_cropThe Dreaded Scottish Play

The superstition goes that saying the word “Macbeth” onstage or off could result in disastrous events. If you say this word, there are a number of rituals you can do to be “allowed” back in and “forgiven.” The main one is: The person is required to leave the theater building, spit, curse and spin around three times, before begging to be allowed back inside.

Why? Some believe it’s because of the witchcraft element. Others, because of the high risk of injury to the actors and the running trend of people dying during the course of the show. Some believe Shakespeare himself put a curse on the play. Another involves how some theatres used the play as a last ditch effort to get them out of debt. Unfortunately, the theatres often went broke anyway.


The superstition goes that someone whistling backstage meant someone would be fired from the show, and not always the person whistling.

Why? In the days before technology, stage managers would use whistling to cue actors. If someone else whistled, it could cause an actor to miss a cue or go on too early. Not good!

It’s bad luck to say good luck on opening night!

So says the famous song from The Producers, but why do actors insist you say “break a leg”? There are a number of theories. One involves understudies. The “legs” of the stage are the curtains hanging at either side. “Breaking a leg” meant you went onstage and got paid. Another comes from Elizabethan England, where money was thrown at the actors and you could “break the leg” to get the coins, i.e. leave the stage. Whatever superstition you believe, any actor would rather hear “break a leg” than say “good luck”!

ghost-1175137_960_720It’s a ghost!

Some theatres are known to be haunted. Yes, I know it sounds crazy, but I know ours is! There is a superstition which states there should be one night during the run of a performance where the ghosts are allowed free reign of the stage.

According to one article: “…there is one specific ghost, Thespis, who has a reputation for causing unexplained mischief. Thespis, of Athens (6th BC) was the first person to speak lines as an individual actor on stage, thus the term “Thespian” to refer to a theatrical performer was born. To keep the ghosts of the theater subdued, there should be at least one night a week where the theater is empty, this night is traditionally a Monday night, conveniently giving actors a day off after weekend performances.”

Is it true? Well, from personal experience, when our theatre added in a Sunday show, usually the day we had off, the performances were poorly attended. Lack of interest, or our ghost having a bit a revenge for taking away her night? You decide.

Blue moon!

One of the more interesting superstitions I learned about was how wearing blue onstage was a sure way to a failed play, unless countered with silver. This is because blue dye, in the early days of theatre, was expensive to make. Failing companies would dress their actors in blue to give the illusion of success. Using silver as well counteracted the blue, as it showed the theatre had money behind them from a wealthy patron.

blackout-ebook-cover-with-awardI hope you enjoyed my little foray into theatre superstitions, and be sure to grab a copy of Blackout in paperback or ebook from Amazon!

Kind thanks to the following articles:
Top Ten Theatre Superstitions

13 Theatre Supersitions

Review Request: Threads of Silk


Title: Threads of Silk

Author: Amanda Roberts

Genre: Historical Fiction

About Threads of Silk:

When I was a child, I thought my destiny was to live and die on the banks of the Xiangjiang River as my family had done for generations. I never imagined that my life would lead me to the Forbidden City and the court of China’s last Empress.

Born in the middle of nowhere, Yaqian, a little embroidery girl from Hunan Province, finds her way to the imperial court, a place of intrigue, desire, and treachery. From the bed of an Emperor, the heart of a Prince, and the right side of an Empress, Yaqian weaves her way through the most turbulent decades of China’s history and witnesses the fall of the Qing Dynasty.

Available on: 

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Smashwords | Kobo

five star blog
This was an absolutely amazing read from start to finish. I loved Yaqian, and her desire to make something more of herself. The author expertly ties in history and emotion to her beautiful and lyrical novel. I rarely have such high praise for a book, but this was an incredible experience. Five well-deserved stars.

I was provided with a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review, as per my review policy. All opinions are my own.

About the Author:

threads-of-silk-authorAMANDA ROBERTS is a writer and editor who has been living in China since 2010. Amanda has an MA in English from the University of Central Missouri. She has been published in magazines, newspapers, and anthologies around the world and she regularly contributes to numerous blogs. Amanda can be found all over the Internet, but her home is

Author can be found at
Facebook | Twitter | Website

About Red Empress Publishing:

RED EMPRESS PUBLISHING is a full-service publisher offering traditional and new services for our authors to help them succeed and stand out in an ever-changing market. The company is actively seeking submissions by women and people of color as part of the company’s philosophy of diversity and inclusion. They are currently seeking submissions in any genre of fiction but especially romance, mystery, fantasy and historical fiction. Authors can submit their books and request more information on Red Empress Publishing’s official website. For the company’s latest news and updates, visit Red Empress on Facebook and Twitter.

“People Love Monsters”: Amanda Knox Documentary


Amanda Knox

I am always fascinated by these types of documentaries. If you remember, I did a post on “Making of a Murderer” when it first aired on Netflix. Now, I have watched “Amanda Knox.”


Meredith Kercher

Everyone is probably familiar with the media frenzy surrounding the brutal murder of Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy. The bright, promising English exchange student was found sexually abused and stabbed in her apartment in November, 2007. She shared the apartment with Amanda Knox, another exchange student from Seattle, Washington.

Amanda discovered the suspicious scene and called her new boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito. After attempting to break down the locked door to Meredith’s bedroom, they called the police.

The police investigation uncovered the grisly scene, as well as a broken window. Early on in the investigation, they ruled out the break-in, showing there was no evidence of anyone having scaled the wall outside the girls’ apartment. There was blood everywhere, and the body had been covered with a bed spread.


Rudy Guede

From the beginning, there were issues with the investigation. Forensics were bungled. The lab testing the evidence was also testing several other objects with Meredith’s DNA on it at the same time as testing the murder weapon.


Raffaele Sollecito

Then, the police narrowed their sights on Amanda and Raffaele. The media went WILD, calling her “Foxy Knoxy,” and publishing stories about her lewd sex games. The consensus was she forced her boyfriend and another man, Rudy Guede, to torture and murder Meredith Kercher.

Rudy Guede’s fingerprints had been found at the scene and he faced trial in October 2008. He was convicted of murder and sexual assault, and imprisoned for thirty years. After appeal, his sentence was reduced to twenty-four years.

Amanda and Raffaele were put on trial for the murder in January 2009. They were both convicted, but appealed the verdict. The Appeals Court acquitted both of the crimes, and Amanda returned to Seattle. At the new trial, both were convicted again, on the basis of “behavior.” However, six years after the first trial, they were finally acquitted by the Italian Supreme Court.

Now that the basic story is out of the way, here is what I think. The Supreme Court’s ultimate decision was based on the bungled investigation, as well as the media pressure to find the killer of Meredith Kercher. Because of this pressure, the police overlooked crucial evidence.

I believe the prosecutor, Giuliano Mignini, was driven by his sense of divine purpose. Amanda was the most likely suspect due to her story changing. He didn’t trust her “personality” and was willing to put that above the evidence. BIG no no. Amanda stated in the documentary they were trying to find the answer “in her eyes.” This is no means to base a criminal case.

I believe the media really did another disservice here. Are we surprised though? The media is FOREVER inflating the facts in cases, trying to get the scoop first. Hell, reporter for the The Daily Mail (ick) Nick Pisa said it himself in the documentary: “scoop before facts.” Something to think about in this age of social media and inflated news reports, hmm?

Also, on a personal note, the attorney for Rudy Guede is a straight up dick. He criticized the American media for commenting on the lack of legal due process in the case with how the courthouse was the birthplace of law for Europe since 1308. He goes on to say Americans were still painting buffalo on cave walls in 1308. Wow. Ego, much? Maybe it was the dislike of Americans which pushed the Italian police to center on Amanda.

My conclusions are simple. The investigation was flawed from the beginning. The police did themselves a disservice by capitulating to media pressure. Did Amanda Knox murder her roommate? In my opinion, no. She was young, scared, and being accused of this horrible crime. She was far from home. Was she naive? Hell yes. She should have been provided with an attorney, but she didn’t know her rights.

In all likelihood, Rudy Guede murdered Meredith Kercher. After all, how could his DNA wind up all over Meredith’s room, and Amanda and Raffaele’s be no where to be found?

Check out the documentary, and let me know what you think!


Aphrodite’s Choice Blog Tour!

02_Aphrodite's ChoiceAphrodite’s Choice
by Christy English

Publication Date: May 20, 2016
eBook; ASIN: B01FZQ80F0

Series: The Goddess Diaries #1
Genre: Fantasy/Mythology/Paranormal/Romance

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Aphrodite, Goddess of Love, still walks the modern world. No longer thronged by worshipers, Aphrodite heals the bodies and souls of the men she touches, one man, one night, at a time. But not everyone thinks of her as a long-dead myth. Someone is stalking her. The men who have hunted her kind as witches for centuries have passed their hatred on to their sons.

As she flees her enemies and tries to warn her sisters of the danger facing them once again, Aphrodite is followed by one of the members of the Brotherhood, a man who has been given the task of killing her, and any of her sisters who cross his path. But it does not take her long to discover that Steven Wharton is not a murderer, and his soul is one she has known before.

In this paranormal romance, a goddess’s past is brought to life, from the Greek city of Corinth to the shores of the island of Cyprus, at the court of Versailles to the burning city of Persepolis. But it is not until she meets Steve that Aphrodite falls in love for the first time. As she faces an ancient enemy, Aphrodite discovers that the love she feels, not the love she gives, is the root of her soul. And that love might even be the path to her freedom…

Amazon | Barnes & Noble


4 blog stars

A novel that takes its reader beyond modern times to ancient worlds and long forgotten gods and goddesses, Aphrodite’s Choice was a beautiful read, with memorable characters and a riveting plot. I found the concept interesting, and was left with a sense of almost bitter contentment to think the old religions had been so forgotten. I loved the romance aspect, as well as the descriptions and time jumps. Four solid stars.

I was given a free copy by Historical Fiction Virtual Tours in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

Ever since Christy English picked up a fake sword in stage combat class at the age of fourteen, she has lived vicariously through the sword-wielding women of her imagination. Sometimes an actor, always a storyteller, Christy works happily with Sourcebooks Casablanca to bring the knife-throwing women of her novels to life. A banker by day and a writer by night, she loves to eat chocolate, drink too many soft drinks, and walk the mountain trails of her home in western North Carolina.

Please visit her at You can also find Christy on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, August 29
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Spotlight at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, August 30
Review at Luxury Reading

Wednesday, August 31
Review & Excerpt at The Silver Dagger Scriptorium
Guest Post at Let Them Read Books

Thursday, September 1
Review at 100 Pages a Day
Review & Guest Post at Historical Fiction Obsession

Friday, September 2
Review at Just One More Chapter
Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Monday, September 5
Review at Broken Teepee
Review at WTF Are You Reading?
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Tuesday, September 6
Review at A Bookish Affair

Wednesday, September 7
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Interview at A Bookish Affair
Excerpt at Buried Under Romance

Thursday, September 8
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Excerpt at A Literary Vacation

Friday, September 9
Review at Eclectic Ramblings of Author Heather Osborne


To win an eBook of Aphrodite’s Choice by Christy English, please enter via the Gleam form below. 5 eBooks are up for grabs!


– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on September 9th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open Internationally.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Aphrodite’s Choice

04_Aphrodite's Choice_Blog Tour Banner_FINALMytho

Review: The Seven Year Dress

I seem to be on a trend of reading amazing books, because this historical fiction novel checked all my boxes! Also, the author donates all her profits to shelters to help dogs! Another good reason to buy and read, aside from it being FANTASTIC!

FRONT COVER The Seven Year Dress KINDLE(1) copy


One of the darkest times in human history was the insane design and execution to rid the world of Jews and “undesirables.” At the hands of the powerful evil madman Adolf Hitler, families were ripped apart and millions were slaughtered. Persecution, torture, devastation, and enduring the unthinkable remained for those who lived. This is the story of one woman who lived to tell her story. This is a narrative of how a young beautiful teenager, Helen Stein, and her family were torn asunder, ultimately bringing her to Auschwitz. It was there she suffered heinous indignity at the hands of the SS. It was also there, in that death camp, she encountered compassion, selfless acts of kindness, and friendship. Written by the award winning, best selling author of His Name Was Ben, comes a story of the resilience of the human spirit that will leave you thinking about Helen Stein and The Seven Year Dress for years to come after the last page is shut.

Purchase Link:

413GBctownL._UX250_About the Author:

Paulette Mahurin lives with her husband Terry and two dogs, Max and Bella, in Ventura County, California. She grew up in West Los Angeles and attended UCLA, where she received a Master’s Degree in Science.

While in college, she won awards and was published for her short-story writing. One of these stories, Something Wonderful, was based on the couple presented in His Name Was Ben, which she expanded into a fictionalized novel in 2014. Her first novel, The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap, made it to Amazon bestseller lists and won awards, including best historical fiction of the year 2012 in Turning the Pages Magazine. Her third novel, To Live Out Loud, won international critical acclaim and made it to multiple sites as favorite read book of 2015. Her fourth novel, The Seven Year Dress, made it to the Amazon kindle store bestseller list in its fourth week out. She has been ranked as an Amazon best selling author for several of her books.

Semi-retired, she continues to work part-time as a Nurse Practitioner in Ventura County. When she’s not writing, she does pro-bono consultation work with women with cancer, works in the Westminster Free Clinic as a volunteer provider, volunteers as a mediator in the Ventura County Courthouse for small claims cases, and involves herself, along with her husband, in dog rescue.

Profits from her books go to help rescue dogs from kill shelters.

Social Media Links:




Press release on Paulette Mahurin’s donating profits to help dogs:

five star blog

One of my favorite type of book to review is historical fiction taking place during the Holocaust/WWII Europe. In my youth, I did an immense amount of reading on the topic, fiction and non-fiction. I am always pleased when an author sticks to the history, showing they have used the research materials at their disposal.

The Seven Year Dress ticked all the boxes for me. Mahurin touched on a little discussed topic of the time, regarding homosexuality, through Max, one of the main characters. His conflict between who he was and what he had to pretend to be was heartbreaking. Helen’s experience in Auschwitz was raw, and Mahurin wasn’t afraid to push the boundaries of comfort for the sake of her reader. The loss experienced by Helen was palatable, harsh, and yet, she managed to survive her time in the camp, growing stronger with the memories of her family and friends.

I accept that this novel is fiction as well. If I wanted a history book, I would have read one. The Seven Year Dress is well-researched, well-written, and overall, a fantastic example of historical fiction. Five, enthusiastic stars from me!