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 Thringcombines 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.
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 (Ravencrestbooks.com), 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” (njghtfljght.com), a volunteer in the Airfield Volunteer Fire Service based at Old Warden aerodrome, Bedfordshire (AVFS.org) 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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!”
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.
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 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’.
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.
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:
HOW DO YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE?
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
Dave Lyons, director of independent publisher Raven Crest Books said today: “Given the growth in e-reading devices and the proliferation of major companies such as Amazon, Apple and Google driving the eBook revolution, we are seeing a rapid decline in the paperback market. Even the UK supermarket giant, Sainsbury’s has spotted the trend and are looking for a slice of the action.”
“We have seen high street booksellers struggle to compete with on-line sales and supermarkets and, of course, the lower price of eBooks. If the current trends continue, then by 2016, the paperback book will have gone the way of the vinyl record: it will become a niche market loved only by purists that love the look and feel of a “real” book.”
Well maybe this will be right and maybe it won’t.
The point I wanted to make was the power of the headline in grabbing attention and engaging the emotions sufficiently to read on. So while the headline may be seemingly outrageous, what follows is either a) a well reasoned argument discussing the headline, b) a very much softer non-news story or c) a powerful message behind the headline.
Now that’s attention grabbing. Damon Hill, who is not unknown for travelling pretty fast around motor racing circuits, is calling for people to drive at 15 MPH below the speed limit.
“What?!” you cry. “Is he off his trolley?”
But when you read on – as you must do as you’re hooked – you find that Damon is concerned about our fellow road users flying along at over eighty while tailgating, using their phones and texting. And he is scared for his children who without experience and equipped only with teenage hormones, must join the melee.
So we nod and sympathise – because we have children too. And while the headline message may be something that Damon believes will make a difference – or not, the point is that the main message is of concern to many of us and it is right that the headline draws us in so that we can hear that message.
Consider if the headline had been “Motorists should be stopped from driving above 65mph says retired shop worker”, we wouldn’t have read on. The “retired shop worker” is anonymous and we don’t know if we should care about his/her opinion. And a call to reduce by 5 MPH? Sorry – not interested – next?
So how can we incorporate the headline into our blogs, emails and press releases? Well here are some top tips for starters:
1) Attract attention;
Be a little outrageous and appeal to the emotions of your target market
2) Communicate a strong message or benefit
3) Appeal to the self-interest of the reader – ‘what’s in it for me?’
People are fundamentally selfish and only respond to your headline if they can relate to it
4) Select the right audience.
You have a target market don’t you? If you are Waterstones, you may not want to put out a headline like my one above that undermines your business. But if you’re selling eBooks, then that is exactly the right headline to run with.
It’s well worth looking at news stories like Damon’s to see how the experts put together a headline and compare that with the story content.
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