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A House Full Of Secrets Book Tour – Digital Detox

Zoe MillerI’m excited to have the wonderful Zoë Miller on the website for the book tour for her new book, ‘A House Full Of Secrets’ and today we talk about digital detox and our addiction to social media.

Firstly I’d like to say a big thank you to Bronagh for hosting me on her wonderful book blog, Handwritten Girl. I’m delighted to be featured here today. This post on the blog tour is all about digital detox, one of the story elements in ‘A House Full of Secrets’. I hope you enjoy, Zoë x

What would we do without our mobile technology? Without our phones and tablets and laptops, which have become almost like an additional, invisible vein attached to our bodies, carrying a constant drip feed of disparate information, updates, likes, comments, chit chat, news, fake news intermingling with global catastrophes, selfies and shout-outs, straight to our hearts and minds.

I’m as guilty of the addiction as anyone else. If I find myself in a beautiful location, the automatic reaction is to take a photo or a video to share with on-line friends. Out for a celebratory meal, it’s hard to resist capturing an image of the lovely food and wine, for future posting. Parties and events can seem incomplete without stamping a virtual record of it on some social platform. Our timelines could almost be called our lifelines.

Social media can be a great way of keeping in contact but like everything else, but there are times when life occasions are in danger of being viewed solely through the screens of our mobiles instead of us fully experiencing living in the actual moment and this can have a questionable impact on our wellbeing. Currently, the government, as part of the 2018 healthy Ireland campaign, is recommending that in the interests of mental wellbeing, we take a daily, 30 minute break from our mobile phone. 30 minutes? What does that say about how often we check them? Problem is, as well as checking our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter updates on a regular basis, many of us are always ‘on’ to email, work and otherwise, with the result that we’re never really away from our jobs or free to enjoy quality, genuine downtime.

Coming from an era – not so long ago – when moving to a new house meant waiting years for a connection to a land line, I think mobiles are a brilliant invention for ease of communication. However in view of the way our dependency on all things digital has taken over our lives in a few short years, when I was researching county Mayo as a suitable location for A House Full of Secrets, and discovered there are digital black spots in parts of the county – thanks to its spectacular landscape of towering mountains and deep valleys – inspiration began to fizz in my writerly brain.

Imagine if – you have a family get together, an estranged family no less, divided by old wounds and secrets, at odds with relationship issues and work problems, coerced to come together over a long weekend, in a beautiful and remote house that’s drenched with shadows and secrets.

Imagine if – that family are forced to go cold turkey on all things digital for the weekend because there is no Wifi or mobile coverage. But hey, as Lainey points out, it will be good for the family to have an ‘unplugged weekend’ and be more present to each other instead of communicating through their screens, and anyway, people pay a fortune to retreat to a digital detox weekend, don’t they?

A House Full of Secrets

But is it as easy as it sounds? Would a digital detox rank up there along with withdrawing from other kinds of addiction, where cold turkey is a chilly and difficult place to be?

‘A House Full of Secrets’ finds Vikki incommunicado for the weekend and unable to access an important London work conference, thus putting her job on the line. Jenna’s husband Alex is normally a slave to his phone and she can’t understand how his sister persuaded him to go cold turkey for the weekend when for him, ditching his phone is almost equivalent to losing a limb.

But as the weekend unfolds, it transpires that these are only small concerns. Having no contact with the outside world takes on a far more serious significance when there is a turbulent storm approaching, marooning them all, coupled with the realisation that someone inside that house is out to exact a painful revenge for past hurts.

There are times when a digital detox can be very refreshing and restorative, and there are times when you could do with having a powered up mobile to hand…

© 2018 Zoë Miller

You can buy A House Full of Secrets from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Cover Reveal – Someone New By Zoé Miller

Someone NewI’m delighted to exclusively reveal the cover to Zoé Miller’s new book, ‘Someone New’.

The story of ‘Someone New’ is –

In her heart, Grace knows the perfect, reliable, good-looking Gavin isn’t right for her. Then she meets Danny. Unpredictable and spontaneous, he turns her world upside down. All of a sudden, Grace is seeing life differently and doing things she never thought she’d do.

But tragedy strikes when Danny dies in a motorbike accident, shattering Grace’s world. As she struggles to come to terms with her loss, she becomes more and more convinced that she’s being followed – sighting a motorbike exactly like Danny’s everywhere she goes. And she starts to wonder if Danny’s death was really an accident.

When she finally voices her suspicions to her family and the police, though, no one seems willing to believe her.

Meanwhile Grace feels ever more under threat as sinister things begin happening to her. What was Danny hiding from her? And what kind of danger is she in now?

I’ve become quite a fan of Zoé’s books over the last while and I’m really looking forward to reading this story. Thank you to Hachette Ireland for this exclusive reveal.

You can pre-order Someone New from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 7th April 2016.

A Question Of Betrayal By Zoe Miller

A Question Of Betrayal’A Question Of Betrayal’ is the latest book by Zoe Miller.

On a windswept beach in County Cork, a woman rescues a young man from the sea. A gifted musician, Luis Meyer’s life has fallen apart and he’s determined to end it all, until an angel of mercy pulls him from the water. More than thirty years later, Carrie Cassidy is still reeling following the deaths of her adored parents, John and Sylvie, in a tragic accident. She’s flitting from one job to another, unable to move forward, unable to forget the past. She can’t even commit to Mark, the love of her life, who has now moved on. Then a mysterious visitor reveals a secret that forces Carrie to delve into her mother’s past. When she does, she discovers a woman struggling to come to terms with her choices – a newlywed who, it seems, was in love with another man. Determined to find out the truth about her mother’s relationship with Luis Meyer, Carrie must confront painful and possibly dangerous truths. And the only person who can help her is the one she’s hurt the most.

‘A Question Of Betrayal’ is the second book that I’ve read by Zoe and unlike the first book I read by the Irish author, I found it harder to get into this book and found it to be a bit of a slow starter, but I then quickly changed my mind, once the story started to properly flow and the secrets and twists were revealed.

The story is primarily seen through the eyes of Carrie Cassidy, a troubled young woman who has never got over the tragic death of her parents, who were both killed in an aeroplane crash and she feels a sense of responsibility and guilt over their deaths, as she encouraged them to go on an adventure. In the beginning, I didn’t understand Carrie and her issues, why she pushed everyone close to her away, but as the story unfolded, I began to understand the woman and the terrible sadness that she was burdened with.

The story is spilt into two parts, the present and 1980. The present is Carrie dealing with her parents death, when out of the blue, she is contacted by a dying man who wishes to see her, his reason being that he knew her mother. Bemused by this, Carrie travels to Switzerland to meet Luis Meyer, a famous musician and finds herself on a journey where she doubts her whole family and life. The other part of the story is set in the summer of 1980, where Sylvie, Carrie’s mother, meets Luis Meyer for the first time, they become close, when she rescues him from drowning and two of them fall in love. The story cleverly flows between the two eras so fluidly and seamlessly, that never once was I lost within the stories.

Between the two stories, it was the story that was set in 1980 that really caught my attention and made me race through the story, as I wanted to know more. It was gripping and intriguing that really made for surprising reading.

Sat against the bustling Dublin streets and the Swiss mountains, ‘The Question Of Betrayal’ is a surprising story about lies, love and discovery and even though for me it was a slow start, it was a captivating read with a very unexpected and clever twist.

You can buy A Question of Betrayal from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

A Husband’s Confession By Zoé Miller

'The Husband's Confession‘The Husband’s Confession’ is the latest book by Zoé Miller.

The artisan bakery Ali and Max Kennedy own isn’t just a successful business – it’s a second home, a dream come true. But when bad luck begins to stalk the couple, Ali worries that her fear of losing it all is becoming a reality. Across the city, Max’s brother Finn and his wife Jo long for the carefree happiness they had when they first met in Australia over twenty years ago. But when Finn loses his high profile TV job and becomes more bitter by the day, Jo starts to suspect that he’s hiding something from her. While both couples navigate their marriages, little do they realise that Max and Ali’s daughter Jessica harbours a dark secret which threatens to destroy the whole family. Then it happens – the accident. And the Kennedys will never be the same again.

I’ve heard of Zoé Miller and know that she is a well established Irish author but ‘A Husband’s Confession’ is the first book that I have read by her and it was a truly compelling and thrilling story that kept me hooked from the start.

The story revolves around the lives of the Kennedy brothers Max and Finn and their wives Ali and Jo, at just the moment when their perfect worlds start to unravel. Max and Ali’s bakery business is thriving with him in demand for television appearances when they start to receive hoax bookings and Ali begins to wonder why her husband is so concerned. Finn and Jo met in Australia and fell madly and passionately in love but when his acting career starts to slow down, Finn becomes withdrawn and distant pushing Jo away. Max and Finn have a difficult relationship, not close to one another. Finn is jealous of Max’s success and always passing some kind of snide comment.

But then one night, Max and Ali’s daughter is injured in a hit and run accident that has left her battling for her life and at a time like this it should bring a family together, but seems to drive everyone further apart.

The story starts at a prologue in the present where an incident occurs. Cunningly written, we don’t know who is involved in the incident. The story is then divided into two parts, the events leading up the incident and the consequences after it.

All the characters in this book are wonderfully interesting and strong, particularly the leading ladies who work hard alongside their husbands. Both with passions for their families and life, Jo and Ali are quite similar in their personalities but never got the chance to have a proper friendship due to their husbands competitiveness.

Max and Finn are two complex characters that have a dislike for each other, the story regularly flicks back to the past to the point where their relationship deteriorates and this gives us a great insight and understanding as to why they behave as they do.

This book is a thrilling read, cleverly written in a style of a who done it type of scenario, we are left guessing until the very end. Alternating between the past and present at regular intervals, we meet the Kennedy’s when they were at their worst to their very best. With a strong plot line and engaging cast of characters, ‘A Husband’s Confession’ is masterful piece of writing that begs the question, is it possible to forgive and forget?

You can buy A Husband’s Confession from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Zoé Miller Talks About The Writing Process: Plot holes… And How To Get Out Of Them

Zoe MillerOn day one of the tour for Zoé Miller’s new book, ‘A Husband’s Confession’, Zoe talks about the writing process: Plot holes…And how to get out of them!

What is a plot hole? For me, it’s when you think you’re motoring along quite nicely with your story but quite suddenly you stumble, grind to a halt, and find yourself falling into a deep, dark crevasse with no way out, because someone or something has pulled the guts of the story out from under you.

When I was two-thirds of the way through writing A Husband’s Confession, with the deadline looming on the near horizon, I fell into a plot hole and, believe me, it was quite a scary place!

Some writers wing it by the seat of their pants – they sit down to write a book without an ending in mind, throwing their characters onto the page and seeing where they take them, enjoying the process of letting the story come together in a very organic way. Other writers find this method quite terrifying. They plan meticulously, not only knowing the beginning, middle and end of a book, but all the individual chapters and plot points that will take them there.

'The Husband's Confession

I fall in somewhere in between. I know where the characters are at the start of the book and how their story is going to end. I might not know all the nitty-gritty details in between, but I usually have some fun finding out. I could tell you what they like for breakfast, the name of their favourite movie and much-loved childhood toy, but I only discover my characters’ true colours by the actual process of writing about them.

When I was about two-thirds of the way through writing A Husband’s Confession, I came to know one of the characters so well and empathised with them so much that I realised my planned ending for that character just wasn’t going to work. It didn’t fit with the person, never mind the story or the other people around them.

Aaargh! My first major plot hole.

Then, at around the same time and despite copious hours researching a technical detail on the internet, a last-minute, spur of the moment (and very serendipitous) phone call to an expert informed me that what I had actually planned to happen wouldn’t happen in reality.

Time to press the panic button…or was it?

After the shock of juddering to a halt, with the rest of my story effectively derailed, I allowed myself a day or two of wallowing in writer’s block. There was comfort eating. There was wine. Even some television. There was distance and space from the script. Then, conscious of the deadline on the near horizon, I took myself, my laptop and a large blank notepad away for a few days, to a hotel by the sea.

There were no interruptions at all, no internet either, just hours and hours of time in which to think, imagine, and reflect. From early in the morning until late at night, apart from sparse texts home to make sure everyone was still alive and the house hadn’t gone on fire, I became totally immersed in the story and living in the world of my characters.

My personal writing retreat worked. By the third day, I had the plot re-jiggled in my head, and a bare outline of the remaining chapters prepared.

Plot holes are writer’s friends, even if they don’t feel like that at first; they mean the story and characters have come alive in your head. They allow you to correct the story to ensure the resolution is consistent with your characters and their motivations. Always, in climbing out of them, albeit with grazed knees and scratched shins, you make the story even better.

Zoë Miller is the author of six contemporary women’s fiction novels published by Hachette Books Ireland, including the newly released A Husband’s Confession. Her books are a blend of drama, romance and intrigue. When Zoë’s not escaping into her writing she juggles her time between her family and her day job in training and development.

You can find out more at www.zoemillerauthor.com, Facebook/zoemillerauthor, or follow her on twitter @zoemillerauthor

Follow the tour for reviews and features below.

The Husband's Confession Book Tour