Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Unexpected Vacation of George Thring

We are proud to announce the launch of The Unexpected Vacation of George Thring by author Alastair Puddick.

The Unexpected Vacation of George Thring

Here is the product description:

A novel of love, gangsters and Elvis impersonators

George Thring runs away from home. By accident.

Depressed, lonely and tired of life, George Thring leaves work one night but never makes it home. Before he knows it, he’s driven over 200 miles in the wrong direction and finds himself in a strange little town, in the middle of nowhere, during their annual Elvis Presley appreciation festival.
As he stumbles from one mishap to another, George meets the woman of his dreams, unwittingly aids in a bank robbery and finds himself pursued by both the police and a gang of angry criminals.
With a big life decision to make, and a girl to try and win over, George is given the chance to become the hero he has always wanted to be.

But is he brave enough to take it?

The Unexpected Vacation of George Thring combines romance, comedy, pathos, crime and … ELVIS! What other ingredients do you need to make this the great read that it is? You will find it a totally immersive read and will be begging for the sequel.

Get The Unexpected Vacation of George Thring at Amazon

City Fiction announces the appointment of Dave Lyons as Sales Director


Dave Lyons
Dave Lyons

City Fiction, the publisher of Tony Drury’s romantic thrillers, has appointed Dave Lyons as Sales Director.

Dave Lyons is founder and Director of Raven Crest Books (, an independent publisher specialising in the selection of inspiring new authors and publishing to the fast growing ebook market. The publishing and marketing model was developed by Lyons based on a career in various sales and marketing environments including beer, wines and spirits, mobile devices and communications infrastructure.

Lyons is also qualified as a financial adviser and is a trustee of a company pension scheme.  He is a musician playing bass in “Njght Fljght” (, a volunteer in the Airfield Volunteer Fire Service based at Old Warden aerodrome, Bedfordshire ( and has recently gained his pilot’s licence. He is married with two daughters and lives in Bedfordshire.

He joins the growing City Fiction team to offer his special skills in generating ebook sales as well as adding his all round publishing knowledge.  City Fiction will be referring its growing traffic in new authors to Raven Crest Books.

Please contact Cathy Wright on 07772 733349 or email

Philippines Typhoon

As you cannot fail to have missed if you have seen the news in the last few days, parts of The Philippines have been devastated by Typhoon Haiyan. We see familiar scenes of destruction, people without food or accommodation and bodies left un-buried in the streets. We have seen similar scenes before of course and we can predict the near-term future as the rats move in and disease strikes these vulnerable people.

I visited The Philippines over several years on business back in the 1990’s and each time I visited I was nervous; there was always an edge of danger to the country and in the early visits, I flew in, did what I needed to do, then flew back to the comfort of Singapore as quickly as possible.

But I grew to love the place and stayed over at weekends as often as I could. Here are a few memories:

My guide – Eric from the Philips office in Manila – drove me around in his Toyota. We passed from the relative posterity of Makati (the financial district) through the poverty of Manila’s shanty towns and on reaching our client’s premises, we were requested to leave our firearms with reception. Coming from the UK, this was quite an eye-opener.

On one memorable occasion, Eric was taking me to the airport and as we were a little early, we stopped for lunch at a very nice restaurant. (Nice that is except it was undergoing one of the country’s infamous power cuts). When we left the restaurant we headed back to Eric’s car. He inserted the key in the lock but failed to open the door.

“Strange, it won’t open” said Eric.

I looked at the car and it seemed to be a lighter shade of blue to his. Still he wiggled the key with slightly more aggression.

“Eric,” I said, “I don’t think this is your car.”

He stopped and looked and he pulled the key out as if it had been wired to the mains.

“It’s not my car! Run!”

We ran.

When we reached his car, Eric accelerated away with a start that Lewis Hamilton would’ve been proud of.

When we’d got our breath back, I asked Eric why we had to run.

He replied, “if the owner had seen us breaking in to his car, he’d have shot us!”

So quite an edgy place. But I’d grown to love it. And while it’s crazy and a tad shambolic, what makes it so special is the warmth and friendliness of its people. Everyone seems to smile there. And you can see this in the TV pictures despite their suffering.

These people don’t deserve this. So many people homeless and hungry with such few resources to help them.

But I am a business owner and there is something I can do to help – albeit in a way that barely scratches the surface. I decided that I will donate November’s profits to Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders). I expect that one of the major challenges that the people will face in the coming weeks is the spread of disease due to contaminated water supplies. According to the MSF website, the humanitarian cargo includes medical kits for treating wounded, material for medical consultations, tetanus vaccines, and relief items such as tents and hygiene kits.

How can you help?

Raven Crest Books has a fantastic catalogue of books from inspiring authors. You will see those available from Amazon in the box to the right. Just pick a book that takes your fancy. Buy it, read it and enjoy.

To repeat, November’s profits will be donated to Médecins Sans Frontières.

Thank you for reading.

Meet author Peter Carroll at the Stirling Book Festival

PeterC Dunblane

Yep, Peter’s pulled off a real coup. He will be hosting his own author event as a part of the Stirling Book Festival at 7:30 in Dunblane library:

View Larger Map

So if you find yourself in Dunblane on September 6th, come along and hear Peter reading from his books and ask him some questions about the authoring/publishing experience.

Dave Lyons from Raven Crest Books will be there to support him and he would be more than happy to talk publishing services with you.

Writing about a serial killer

We are immensely proud to be welcoming Marilyn Z. Tomlins to the Raven Crest stable. Her true life crime epic on Dr Marcel Petiot – France’s most notorious serial killer – “Die in Paris” is now available in eBook on Amazon. She has kindly contributed the below article for us.

France's most notorious serial killer
Available at Amazon

I was always very scared as a child. Everything frightened me. I once caused a traffic accident because I was running away from a very small dog who only wanted to play. I could never watch a horror film or read a horror book. Even Stephen King’s books scared me.  I certainly could not read true crime. Once I bought a book about the Moors murders, then I became scared just looking at the cover and threw the book away, and I love books and look after them as if they are diamonds.

Thirty years ago – I was already living in Paris – I began to experience a strange flash. The first time it happened – in broad daylight – I thought I had dozed off and had had a nightmare, but the second time it happened I knew that I was wide awake. I saw myself lying on the floor of a dark, dank, roughly-cemented basement room. There was no furniture in the room. I was naked. I was lying on my stomach and I had long blonde hair (which I did have then) and there was blood everywhere, on the floor, on the walls, over me, and my hair was caked with blood. And yes – I was dead. In other words I saw my own dead body.

When I had this flash the first time and told my husband, he echoed my thoughts – I’d had a nightmare.  When it happened for the second time he did not say anything. From then on I experienced the flash regularly. Convinced that the flash was prophetic I was sure I was going to be murdered.

I told my family about the flashes. I told friends. All reacted in the same way. They said: “Oh goodness Marilyn, don’t say that please! And do be careful!”

In 2005 I was reading a book about World War Two France and my eye caught the name Marcel Petiot. I had heard of Dr Petiot about twenty years before that: someone told me that he had murdered very many people in Paris during the Second World War. “What happened to him?” I had asked. “I am happy to say he was guillotined,” was the reply.

I had thought of Dr Petiot no more until that day in 2005. That day I had to know more about this serial killer who had been guillotined for the slaughter of 25 people, the youngest of his victims, a Jewish boy, just seven years old.

Dr Petiot had drawn me down into him so to speak – and it was very dark down there.

A few weeks into my research I came to how he had disembowelled and dismembered his victims. He did so in a basement room of his Paris townhouse. The room was roughly-cemented, without furniture, dark and dank. I was sitting on my settee in my living room, files and books laid out on the floor around me, and my head started to turn. I thought I was going to faint.  The flash of the past thirty years – the basement room of my flash was Dr Petiot’s basement room. I tried to think when I had last had the flash and knew only that I’d not had one for a while.

Next, I learnt that Dr Petiot was buried in a mass grave in a cemetery that my building overlooked. I came to live in this flat twenty years ago but the cemetery was not then visible from my windows but had become so just at the time when I had become interested in Dr Petiot because some buildings across my avenue had been demolished. In my years in Paris, each time I’d moved to a different flat, I had gradually moved closer to the cemetery. And there I was living across the street from it, and looking down on the graves from my ninth floor flat.

Coincidence?  Maybe. I do however know that I’ve not had the flash again.

Already having overcome my childhood fears, and writing true crime, I decided that I was going to write a book about Dr Petiot. He was little known outside of France and even many French did not know about him: he was part of France’s collaboration with the Nazi Germans during World War Two and that was something they did not wish to be reminded of.

Researching Dr Petiot was not easy. “Bof! Why do you want to dig that up again!” I was told when asking for information.

I persevered.

I visited Auxerre, the town where he was born. I walked its streets to get the feeling of the town. Alone, in the darkness of night, I stood outside the house where he was born. I visited Villeneuve-sur-Yonne the village where he began to practice medicine and of which he had become Mayor. In the middle of the night, alone, he used to cycle down to the Yonne river that flowed through the town, the headlight of his bicycle not switched on. I waited for night to fall and I walked down to the river and I sat there in the dark, alone. In Paris, I walked the route he walked with his victims. I always did so at nightfall because it was always in the darkness that he met up with his victims.

I have now lived with Dr Petiot for eight years, researching him, writing about him, and talking about him. I found out the whereabouts of his grandson. I found out that he was a prominent politician in a South American country. I emailed him, told him that my research showed me that Dr Petiot was his grandfather, and asked if I could speak to him. He did not reply. I emailed him three times and each time his reply was silence.  Now I wonder if he knows about my book ‘Die in Paris’.

Scary Movie

starring Daniel Radcliffe

Have you seen the “Woman in Black”; the new Harry Potter – sorry – Daniel Radcliffe movie? I hadn’t. But I had wanted to see it ever since my daughter came home extremely spooked after seeing the stage production. On Saturday I got the opportunity. It was far too hot to be outside and I had the house to myself.

Well it all seemed pretty much standard haunted house fare – the fleeting shadows, the long dark corridors, the candles snuffing out, the decay, the sudden shocks. The rocking chair that moves by itself – don’t you just hate it when that happens? But it was quite spooky.

And the surround sound was epic – all these clunking footsteps coming from behind you. Even when I paused the movie to make a cup of tea, the surround sounds carried on…

Hang on. Shouldn’t they have stopped with the movie? I got up and stood at the bottom of the stairs; there were definite sounds of movement up there. Obviously there was a rational explanation so I tentatively started up the stairs. I got as far as the third stair when there was a barrage of clonks, footsteps and shuffling from upstairs. I retreated swiftly into the kitchen where I stood at the doorway into the hall with my heart racing at about 200bpm: I was terrified! I couldn’t stay in the house so decamped into the sweltering heat of the garden.

It was even eerie out there. Despite the bright summer’s day, it was so quiet. Our neighbours were away; our friends on holiday and even the noisy family across the road were quiet. Clearly I wasn’t going to see the rest of “The Woman in Black” anytime soon.

After about an hour, I ventured back into the house. All was quiet. Cautiously, I went upstairs and still nothing stirred. Then I surmised what had happened – at least I think so.

The door to my daughter’s room was shut and trapped underneath it was a carrier bag with aerosol cans and make-up. The wind (and there was quite a breeze blowing) must have blown the door backwards and forwards dragging the bag and contents with it; the bag preventing the door from slamming shut.

Trouble is that I can’t reconcile this explanation with what I heard. But this is the power of suggestion – by watching the scary movie I was opening my mind to alternative explanations. If I’d just been watching a documentary on household guttering, I probably would have thought “that annoying sound upstairs makes me think of a carrier bag with aerosol cans and make-up and the wind is blowing the door backwards and forwards dragging the bag and contents with it”.

By the way, while I was watching the movie – and apologies if you haven’t seen it – the scene where Daniel Radcliffe is heading to the room with the rocking chair and there is that loud thudding sound, I had this vision of a re-make on YouTube where he opens the door and finds a boy practicing his bass drum in an echo chamber…

But to shift the scene slightly, picture the plight and terror of young Lizzy Bray – the heroine of “Insane Reno” – who hears noises such as I experienced. In her bedroom! At night! Where do you go then? You can’t just escape to the sunny warmth of the garden like I did – coward that I am. You can see how she deals with the situation here; a damn sight better than me.

Actually I have another story on this theme which still makes me chuckle even though it happened forty years ago. But I’ll save that for another post.

NEW BOOK LAUNCH – The Art of Impossibility by B Wahl


We’re really proud to be representing author B Wahl and The Art of Impossibility. This is a book that is by turn, comical and heart-rending. Socrates said that the life which is unexamined is not worth living. This book forces you to examine your own life and if you are anything like me, you will be flicking back to re-read scenes from this amazing book. It’s a book that stays with you a long time after you’ve finished it.

Here’s the synopsis:


For many years Michael Wilson had managed to disregard the emptiness of his life, until one day every piece of his identification is stolen. His farcical attempts to renew his identity expose him to a world of relationships he can no longer avoid – a world where Mary Magellan, an unpredictable conceptual artist, becomes important in ways Michael could not have imagined. A world where Michael must rely on Larry, a disgraced professor of logic, Sam, a lonely metal head living in his basement, and Julie, a manager of the Vital Records Department who takes a VERY personal interest in Michael’s problems. Hilarious, sad, and relevant. Here is a story of psychological collapse and the possibilities that exist at the boundaries of human experience.

And what others have said:

“A fascinating exploration of identity, alienation, and relationship, written with a deft touch and ironic detachment. Challenging, entertaining, and deeply moving.”
Sophie Duffy, author of The Generation Game

“Wahl’s novel holds up a mirror to society, a place where alienation wins out over human connection and love all too often. This is one of those rare literary combinations – a novel which is profound and serious, and yet great fun to read”.
Margaret James, author of The Silver Locket

“Shakes and illuminates at one and the same time. Absorbing, thought-provoking, and wonderfully written.”
Professor Ernesto Spinelli, author of Tales of Un-knowing

If you only buy one novel this year, buy this one

The Crowsmoor Curse

Introducing the new horror fiction from Jan McDonald – The Crowsmoor Curse. The purpose of this short piece is to introduce you to one of its main characters, Mike Travis. If you would like to read more, you can download now via Amazon by clicking the link to the right.

The mists come down quickly and the wind howls like tortured banshees over Bodmin Moor where unwary travellers are advised to keep to the main roads and keep their eyes averted from the rough granite outcrops and moorland bogs. This is the land of smugglers and ghosts and Otherworldly creatures like the Piskies and the Knockers, still said to inhabit the old mines. Hard to keep an open mind in the vicinity, Mike Travis knew he had to be objective.  As a paranormal investigator there could be nothing to cloud his judgement but even so, as he pulled his car over at the edge of Dozemary Pond, legends of the area came to life in his head.

He swallowed two codeine to help relieve the pain in his leg; reconstructed with titanium plates, rods and artificial joints after a helicopter crash in Afghanistan had ended his air force career. Over the years he had learned to blank out the pain but occasionally it got the better of him. The long drive into Cornwall had exacerbated it and he knew he had to rest.

He looked over the grey water surrounded by reeds and marsh and understood why it had been the source of many legends, including that of Excalibur being hurled into its centre and caught by the hand of the Lady in the Lake. He shrugged off the images and took out the letter that had brought him there.

The handwriting was arthritic and crabbed, written in the Cornish vernacular, it had come from an old man. A frightened old man.

Charlie Paynter was the bell ringer in Crowsmoor, a scattered community of small cottages and a couple of farms presided over by St Michael’s Church and the old Manor. It couldn’t aspire to being a village, being little more than an isolated hamlet in the middle of the bleak moor. It wasn’t even on the map and had defeated his search engine. It was as if it didn’t exist, but maybe it wanted it that way.

He read the letter again, trying to get a feeling for the case. Mike relied on his instincts and they were on high alert. His alarm bells had been set off by one particular section of the letter.

Every morning at six and every evening at six. Six tolls of the bells. The bells have to be rung dead on six; otherwise . . .  Hell come back.

     The dead dont sleep quiet here in Crowsmoor, they never have. Not since he came, anyway. Must be four hundred years gone now. Folk round here close their eyes to it. Dont understand see. They think that when Ive gone they can maybe get someone else to ring the bells, or they wont bother being as they believe its naught but owd superstition and they’m being too modern to think on it. They hear them, everyday they hear them, but they dont understand. They dont understand what the bells keep away.

Mike thought he understood. Cornish folk may believe in their legends and folk lore but above all they were very pragmatic people and didn’t spook easily.

Charlie Paynter was spooked…




Potentially Big News…

My last blog was written by our guest blogger about her small but hugely worthwhile charity – Kate promises me part two in the near future. Why feature a charity on the pages of an eBook publisher’s site? Aren’t blogs supposed to be relevant to the website subject matter so should be of interest to authors and readers?

 Well, yes and no.

But what a marvellous opportunity it is to have a global marketing platform like this and what a wasted opportunity that would be if it wasn’t used to remind the people of the richer nations that however poor we may feel, there are people in far worse situations than us. So if you haven’t read Kate’s blog yet, you’ll find it below this one.

And the donate button on the right is not connected to Raven Crest Books at all – it’s a direct pass through to the Kasiisi Project. So please – click on it!

Today’s blog though is indie publishing based and again was written by a guest blogger – James Fryar. You can see the original blog here. I love this blog, not only because he mentions Raven Crest Books but because he encapsulates perfectly our underlying concept.


I’ve been trying many different ways to bring attention to my Young Adult Novel.  So far, for someone that has zero publishing experience and zero connections in the industry, I’ve had a very good response.  The first day I published my book, without announcing anything to anyone, I sold 2 books.

Sounds miniscule, but keep in mind, that I’m a nobody, without any publicity, etc, etc, etc.  That means that a random person came across my book on the first day, liked what he/she saw or read and paid to have it downloaded.  I was pretty excited by that.

I’ve had some wonderful reviews, great interviews, and more of both to come soon.

It’s been slow-going, as I’ve stated before.  I’m a nobody author with one book.  It’s a steep hill to climb in order to build any sort of audience, so I need to be patient as my audience discovers my little story about Patrick Patterson or I discover them.

Through my searches, tweets, requests for interviews or reviews, I came across a small, British publisher called Ravencrest Books.

Here is a link to their site:

Essentially, they handle everything once the book is finished.  It’s a haven for self-published, unrepresented authors.  It’s a cooperative approach to this e-book revolution.  One author’s blog leads back to Ravencrest, which leads to the other authors, and back again.

Through discussions with Dave Lyons, the owner and operator of Ravencrest, we decided on a one-year, UK only contract, so I could test the waters on his company.  As I haven’t made a single sale overseas, it seemed to me that I had nothing to lose and could only go up from where I am.

Only time will tell, but I’m very excited about our agreement!

E-books are undoubtedly the future and a small publisher like Ravencrest could be a fantastic way of “policing” the choppy waters of self-publishing.

The biggest complaint readers have with “indies” is that there are too many awful books being uploaded, and they’re right to some extent.  When the floodgates are opened to a community, as Amazon has done with writers, there will certainly be more bad than good.

Many serious, even previously traditionally published, authors have been self-publishing books that are as good, if not better, than anything you can find through traditional publishers, but so many more authors have been uploading absolute dreck.  Anyone and everyone that has ever written anything, from a poem to a short story to a novel, can now “publish” their work.  And now, readers are bombarded with loads of new material, both amazing and awful, and they’re relying on the traditional publishers to tell them what to buy.  Too many of these self-published books are filled with terrible writing, typos, and misspellings, so rather than take a chance on a new, undiscovered author that could be wonderful (such as myself), they rely on the “vetting” process of the Big Publishers, as flawed as it may be, to find the next book they’ll read.

Enter a small company like Ravencrest.  By having a qualitative standard, a reader who has bought one book under the Ravencrest banner can rest assured that their other books will meet certain guidelines–who knows if they will actually like the book, but they can at least feel assured that it will be professionally edited and of a professional quality.  That’s essentially what Traditional Publishers do and promise, but they take a much bigger chunk out of an author’s paycheck.

Who knows where e-books will lead us, but this seems like a logical first step.