Yes, this post is for people who don’t read books.


I might have tried to persuade you to start reading. But I don’t need to, because someone has done it for me. Thank you, Al Kennedy! Have a listen; it lasts for just ten minutes.

And when you’ve heard it and your mind has been changed, hop over to Amazon, where all Crooked Cat books are free or on sale (99p/99c) until tomorrow night, including:

The Women Friends: Selina, the first of a series of novellas based on Gustav Klimt’s famous masterpiece: The Women Friends.

Neither Here Nor There, a romance with a difference, set in Jerusalem.

I won’t mention this sale again on this blog – I promise!

A big THANK YOU to everyone who has bought Neither Here Nor There during this weekend’s Crooked Cat sale.

A reminder that The Women Friends: Selina is also on sale (99p/99c) until Monday.

In other news, I wish could write the other posts I planned about Ethiopia, but I’m busy editing two books and writing another. And I have a short trip planned. More about that on my return.

Happy holidays to all!


Originally posted on Facebook by Gedaliah Gurfein


Guitar Heroes Flyer



Well, why not? We’re only half way through Chanukah. Relax in your favourite armchair with coffee, sufganiya (doughnut) and a Crooked Cat book, downloaded for only 99 somethings.

Mine are called Neither Here Nor There and The Women Friends: Selina. Just saying.

In this post, I will endeavour to put all the information about The Women Friends: Selina in one place. If I forget anything, or more details become available, I will add them.

The Women Friends: Selina will be released this Thursday, 1st December. That’s tomorrow.

It’s the first in a series of novellas about the women in Gustav Klimt’s paintings.

It’s a finalist in the Goethe Awards (although they still haven’t added my name EDIT: now they have).

You can buy it on Amazon.

You’re invited to our launch party at 3pm (UTC). (Just go there and click on Going.)

Lots of information about the background to The Women Friends: Selina can be found in these articles.

A reading from the start of the novella.

The English Informer posted my article here and here.

The one and only Seumas Gallacher, author of several crime thrillers, posted my article.

According to Vanessa Couchman, I’m an unintentional history person.

EDIT: It’s in the online magazine of my former college.


Plus… a bit of fun with The Women Friends.

And this lovely picture from Crooked Cat:


25.04CYorkBettysTeaRoomsResizedLast summer, as part of a long trip to the UK, I was in the northern city of York, because my publisher, Crooked Cat, organised an event for its authors there.

I hadn’t been to York before and didn’t know much about it, other than the fact that its history is long. I was also vaguely aware that Jews had lived there and misfortune had befallen them at some point… unsurprisingly.

So I started reading. Jews were first brought to England from the continent by William the Conqueror in 1066. Many of them settled in York because, at the time, it was the second most important city after London, with a thriving textile industry. And, as in so many places in those times, Jews weren’t allowed to own land or work in a profession. So they did the one thing they were allowed to do, because Christians weren’t allowed to do it. They lent money.

Many people needed to borrow money, so the Jews did well from money lending. This was good for the King, because he could levy huge taxes on the Jews. But the people who owed money to the Jews were not so happy, especially as the Jews seemed to be more prosperous than them. Moreover, in church, and particularly around Easter time, they were taught to hate Jews.


Clifford’s Tower (rebuilt)

These are the main events that led to the massacre of 16th March, 1190. On that day, the Jews who were still alive took refuge in Clifford’s Tower, which was then a wooden structure. But a mob surrounded the tower and then set fire to it, and the Jews decided on a mass suicide. Except for a few who left the tower and offered to convert in the hope that they’d be saved. But they, too, met their deaths on that day.

It is said that, because of that event, there is a “cherem” or boycott of York. That Jews aren’t allowed to set foot in York. That if they pass York on the train, they mustn’t eat or drink as they pass through and they mustn’t turn to look at the city. Yet there were Jews living in York for the next hundred years until they were expelled altogether from England in 1290.


Clifford’s Tower (rebuilt)

In more recent times, small numbers of Jews have lived in York, some of them having arrived on the Kindertransport. There was a synagogue that closed down, but very recently prayers have started to be held again in York.

So what about the cherem? Most researchers say that in reality there never was a cherem. But it seems to me that even if only a few Jews boycott York, it’s still a boycott, albeit an insignificant one.

I have a reason for mentioning all this now. Last night, I attended a very absorbing talk on this topic organised by HOB Rehovot. Barry Levinson told a rapt audience consisting mostly of immigrants from the UK about the events leading up to the massacre and the massacre itself. He also showed us the short film he made on the topic. You can watch the film here.

During the talk and in the general discussion that followed it, I couldn’t help thinking how history repeats itself. The more I listen to the news from the UK and around the world, the more scary that thought becomes.


Stone set in the floor of the city wall

I’m delighted to welcome back fellow Crooked Cat author, Sarah Louise Smith. I interviewed her here and now she’s back to tell us about her new novel, out in two days but available now for pre-order.

Over to you, Sarah.

Firstly, a huge thank you to Miriam for letting me hijack her blog today and a big friendly smiley hello to anyone reading this who hasn’t heard of me before; thanks for taking the time to come and find out more.

So, I am Sarah. And I write chick-lit. That’s not slushy, fluffy romantic nonsense. It’s fun, roller-coaster stories with a little comedy and realistic characters.

The Truth About EllenThe Truth About Ellen is my fourth novel and it’s about a girl who had a huge crush on a band when she was a teenager. We’ve all been there, right? You watch them on TV, you listen to their music, you put their posters on your wall. In Ellen’s case, she even followed the lead singer and her number one celeb crush Jasper to a hotel once and spent an evening with him.

Now she’s older, wiser, more mature – of course. Well over the crush on the band she used to love, who broke up long ago. Times have changed.

That is, until she meets Tom, the band’s bass guitarist, and they hit it off. She doesn’t tell him she was huge fan of his band because it was long ago. Or that she once spent a night with his ex-bandmate/ex-best-friend, Jasper.

Everything goes well until Jasper comes back into Tom’s life. And the truth about Ellen could spoil everything she’s ever wanted…

Seem like a book that you might enjoy this summer?

Visit my website (link below) or search for The Truth About Ellen on Amazon to get your copy.

The Truth About Ellen

It’s every girl’s dream to date a pop star… When Ellen starts dating Tom, a member of the band she adored as a teenager, she can’t believe how lucky she is. She neglects to mention that she’s a huge fan because that just wouldn’t be cool, would it? Ellen also keeps quiet about how she once spent an evening with Tom’s ex-bandmate/ex-best friend Jasper, her long-term celebrity crush. Tom doesn’t need to know about that, it’s all in the past. That is until Tom and Jasper get back in touch… and the truth threatens to ruin everything Ellen has ever dreamed of…

The Truth About Ellen is available to buy from:

About Sarah Louise Smith

Sarah Louise SmithSarah Louise Smith lives in Milton Keynes, England with her husband, step-daughter, loopy golden retriever and cheeky tortie cat.

Sarah has been writing stories since she can remember and has so far completed four chick-lit novels, all published by Crooked Cat:

  • Amy & Zach
  • Izzy’s Cold Feet
  • Independent Jenny
  • The Truth About Ellen

Connect with Sarah:

Seumas GallacherI’m delighted to be joined by Seumas Gallacher today. Seumas is a prolific writer of crime thrillers. He has had phenomenal success as a self-published author and has now partnered with Crooked Cat, who are republishing his novels, starting with Savage Payback. (If you want to know why he decided to do this, the answer is here in the post from 2nd February.) Seumas has also written a very helpful guide to self-publishing called Self-Publishing Steps To Successful Sales. Unsurprisingly, Seumas comes from Scotland. If you thought Ireland, as I did at first, look at the spellings again. And if you need any further proof, one look at his blog is all you need! A more surprising fact is that he lives in Abu Dhabi.

Hello Seumas and welcome to my blog. I thought about conducting the interview face to face. I looked up Google’s driving instructions from Jerusalem to Abu Dhabi and got the message: “Sorry, your search appears to be outside our current coverage area for transit.” Still from the map it looks to be quite a straight road. I’m just wondering whether to go that way, taking in the wildlife sanctuary and Riyadh on the way, or to travel to Eilat and take a leisurely cruise round the coast. In the meantime, I’ll make do with this long distance chat.

Hi, Miriam, pity, that. I could have got you some nice discounted camel passes from a guy I know… and anyway, I’m told that all roads lead to Rome, so p’raps we’ll end up in Italy ……

That’s an idea! I read that you went to Abu Dhabi for a short job and ended up staying. What drew you to that place?

My profession is that of (whisper it) a banker, but by vocation that has segued over the years into being a corporate troubleshooter… on one of those engagements I went to Abu Dhabi ten years ago, for one month… I’m still here …

I was offered terms to stay longer and did so because I like the pace of Abu Dhabi …it’s less frenetic than its partner down the road, Dubai, which is more of a marketing man’s dream… currently I shuttle between Abu Dhabi and Bahrain on business… I like the style of the locals whom I’ve been privileged to do business with…

Do you speak Arabic?

I took six months of Arabic lessons, but hardly made as much of an indent as I would like …it’s a very difficult language, as I’ve discovered there are very few algorithms to follow in terms of tenses and so on.

I empathise with you. I’ve never tried to learn Arabic. I got put off by the script, which looks hard to decipher, and the fact that the spoken and written languages are different. But can you manage there without Arabic? Do most people speak English?

Most people do speak English very well in the Middle East, but I’ve always tried to learn the lingua franca wherever I’ve been… it’s respected locally as an effort to ‘come across the bridge’… I speak varying proficiencies of English, Gaelic, French, Tagalog, Cantonese and Arabic… some may say I’m best at talking rubbish…

That sounds impressive! I had to look up Tagalog and it turns out 57 million people speak it.

Ah, sorry, Tagalog is the mainstream language of the Philippines, which actually has more than 75 various dialects.

Do you miss Scotland?

In all honesty, as regards Scotland, I’ve been away for more than 40 years, so I’ve become very much an ’international’ citizen… fond memories I have in spades, of course, but there’s very little attraction to return…

I’m not tempted to return to England, but I miss little things like wide open spaces, country pubs, salt ’n’ vinegar crisps and shortbread. Is there anything you dream of that’s in another country?

I dream very little of other countries’ attractions, having been blessed with travelling so much already in a life and career around the planet… however, there are places I certainly enjoyed being in: Vienna as a tourist, Hong Kong as a businessman, and San Francisco as a mixture of both.

Of those three, I’ve only been to Hong Kong so far, and enjoyed it immensely.

So where are your novels set?

International range..on purpose… based from their London offices, the proponents travel through the books to many parts of Europe, Hong Kong, Turkey, North Africa, the Balkans and South America.

What else do you want to tell us about them?

Savage Payback - Seumas GallacherBasic story line is of 3 former SAS commando officers who create their own specialist security firm protecting high value clients and their merchandise. They encounter several bad guys in the form of international crime lords, drug kingpins, people trafficked, money launderers. They use their black operations skills to bring justice where needed, away from the eyes of the normal law enforcement methods.

I read that you left home at the age of 15. How does a 15-year-old boy manage in the big wide world?

As the Beatles put it so well ‘I’ll get by with a little help from my friends’… I’ve had some terrific people come in and out of my life at pivotal moments …each a hero in their own way… also being able to use my own fists where necessary has been useful… I loathe bullies, and have always had a kinda reckless attitude toward not backing off from bullying when I meet it…got me into trouble some times, but trouble that I welcomed, strangely enough.

I wish I’d known how to do that! I suppose it all comes down to self-confidence, which is also what you assumed when you wrote, “I go along with the adage that if you believe you can achieve something, or if you believe you cannot achieve something, you’re probably right.”

What if someone doesn’t have the self-confidence to believe they can achieve something?

Tough one… revert to the saying if they don’t believe it, they’re probably right..sadly.. so many people never try , never step out of the comfort zone… it’s okay to be scared sometimes when you do things…

Hmm, I’ll think about that.

I loved this quote from the interview with you at Smorgasbord: “Thus began my growing tolerance for all people who once seemed on the surface to be different to me… we are all the same.” Would the world be a better place if everyone realised that?

For sure.

We’d better get the word out then!

Seumas, thank you so much for coming onto my blog. I don’t suppose you’ll be surprised to learn that I don’t get many visitors from your part of the world. I wish you even more success with your novels now that you’ve partnered with Crooked Cat.


SEUMAS GALLACHER escaped from the world of finance five years ago, after a career spanning three continents and five decades.

As the self-professed ‘oldest computer Jurassic on the planet’ his headlong immersion into the dizzy world of eBook publishing opened his eyes, mind, and pleasure to the joys of self-publishing. As a former businessman, he rapidly understood the concept of a writer’s need to ‘build the platform’, and from a standing start began to develop a social networking outreach, which now tops 18,000 direct contacts.

His ‘Jack Calder’ crime-thrillers series, THE VIOLIN MAN’S LEGACY, VENGEANCE WEARS BLACK and SAVAGE PAYBACK blew his mind with more than 80,000 e-link downloads to date.

He started a humorous, informative, self-publishers blog three years ago, never having heard of a ‘blog’ prior to that, was voted ‘Blogger of the Year 2013’ and now has a loyal blog following on his networks. He says the novels contain his ‘Author’s Voice’, while the blog carries his ‘Author’s Brand’. And he’s LUVVIN IT!


You can find Seumas on his blog as well as on Twitter, Facebook and email (

Savage Payback is available on Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia and Smashwords.