Friday, 30 December 2016

The Great Crooked Cat sale...




... is ending at midnight tonight!  


If you want those bargain books on your new kindle, then hurry...



There are romances, mysteries, crime, thrilers and lots, lots more. treat yourself whilst you still have the opportunity! 


Go to Amazon US https://goo.gl/dncTKK 
and Amazon UK https://goo.gl/mOa9Bw 

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

The Great Crooked Cat Sale...




... is now on and there are only two more days to go!  

There are loads of books available for 99p/99c - including my own, Messandrierre.  

What better way is there to spend those book tokens and vouchers?  

Take a browse through the titles - there are thrillers, mystery, crime, romance and lots lots more...  

Go to Amazon US https://goo.gl/dncTKK
and Amazon UK https://goo.gl/mOa9Bw

Sunday, 25 December 2016

Merry Christmas...



... to all you readers out there...




To find out what's coming up in January and the rest of 2017, check out my post on New Year's day.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

The Cat on the Dovrefjell...

... I've always loved fairy stories, folktales, myths and just about any kind of story, since I was a child.  My father was a great story teller and I suppose my constant need to write stories down has, in some way, been inherited from him.  The story below was one of my favourites.  I believe it is Norwegian in origin - or at least that's what dad always said - and I've recorded it here as my dad used to tell the tale to me...


Once upon a time, far, far away in the snowy north of Scandinavia, a very brave man called Ale caught a great white bear.  He trained it and looked after it and then decided that he would present it to the King as a gift.  So Ale began his long journey from somewhere close to the North Pole, over the ice and across the sea to Norway.
His journey was long and it happened that, on Christmas Eve, as he descended Dovrefjell he saw a lonely cottage and thought he and his bear might spend the night there.  The cottage, deep in a forest, belonged to a man called Halvor.
'I need a place to rest for the night for my bear and myself,' said Ale.
Halvor shook his head in sorrow.  'It's Christmas Eve,' he said.  'Very soon there will not be a room in my house to spare.  Every Christmas Eve a pack of Trolls come down from the mountain and take over our humble little cottage.  There is never any room for us, let alone a traveller such as you.'
Ale was shocked.  'You are forced to leave your own house at Christmas time?'  Halvor nodded in shame.  Ale wondered what to do next.  His bear muzzled him gently at his back and an idea came to him.
'Let me have your house this year,' said Ale.  'Make ready whatever is needed as you always do and then leave and let my bear sleep under your stove and I will sleep in the tiniest room at the top of the house.'
Halvor protested, he feared so greatly for the safety of his new companion and the bear.  But Ale assured him that he and his bear would be safe.

With only a couple of hours to spare, Halvor, his wife and children began to prepare for the Trolls. They set tables with the best linen and plates. They put out bread and sausages and slaw and fish and porridge and every imaginable kind of food that you would always see at a humble, but celebratory feast.  When all was ready, Halvor and his family left with sorrow in their hearts for Ale and his bear.
The first few flakes of snow fell as what little grey light disappeared into night. And the Trolls came down the mountain shouting, 'HALVOR, Halvoooor, Halvor, Halvor...
Some were ugly, some had long noses, some had warts, some were tiny, some had tails but they were all frightening and greedy with hunger.  They didn't knock when they reached the cottage.  They barged in and attacked all the food, and ate and drank and ate some more until nothing but a small piece of sausage was left.
The tiniest of the Trolls picked it up and sniffed it.  Catching sight of the great white bear lying under the stove, the Troll put the sausage on a fork and sidled over to the sleeping giant.
'Here, Kitty, I have something for you,' the Troll said, pushing the fork up against the bear's nose. 'Here kitty...'
The bear stirred and stretched and growled and rose up on four great paws and let out a tremendous roar and chased the Trolls from the house out into the snow and chased them and hunted them all that night, returning only when the first weak light of a new winter dawn began to appear.
The following year on Christmas Eve, Halvor was out in the forest chopping wood in readiness for the Trolls to arrive later that day. As he was hard at work he thought he heard someone calling his name. He stopped and listened.
'Halvor!' called a thin reedy voice from the trees. 'Halvoooor!' called another gruffer voice from behind him.  'HALVOR! Halvor!' called other voices from all around him.
Halvor brandished his axe. 'Yes I'm here, what do you want?'
'Is your big white cat still with you Halvor?' This was a deep, gruff voice from behind a tree only a few feet away.
'Yes, she is,' said Halvor. 'And she now has seven white kittens who are even more fierce than  she is.' Halvor waited... and waited. But there was never any response and from that day on the Trolls have never taken their Christmas supper on the Dovrefjell.

Merry Christmas



Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Merry Christmas...



... to all you readers out there...





It's the time of year when I take break for family and, this year, also for pantomime. From this evening I will be disappearing into panto-land with its magic and spells and greasepaint and lots and lots of fun.

However, on Thursday, December 15th, I have a special little surprise for you.  So, be sure to visit again then.

And there will be lots to look forward to in January and the rest of 2017.  Keep watching this space to find out what's coming up in the New Year

Lastly, I just want to wish everyone a very happy Christmas.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Christmas Comes to the Mountain...

... and Nancy Quinn comes to my blog today...

AW  Welcome Nancy and thanks for visiting. Please tell us about your book?
NQ  My debut book is entitled “Go West, Young Woman!”  It is the true story of our family’s complete change of lifestyle. After my husband retired from the United States Air Force, we moved from the city to a rural mountain in Montana.  We wanted a new way of living and we definitely achieved our goal. We soon discovered how unprepared we were for the challenges we faced, both comical and adventurous.  Some of the more humorous encounters, like window licking cattle, only masked our more ominous confrontations with predators and nature such as finding a cougar on our swing set and a wolf waiting at our back door.  In time we discovered the true meaning of the “Code of the West”, a concept that has not entirely vanished from the American way of life.

AW  Wow!  That's a whole year's blogging in itself!  Unfortunately, we only have today, so, what does Christmas mean to you, your family and your animals?
NQ  All of our animals have Christmas stockings. They are lined up on the stairway with my children’s, husband’s, and my own, because we consider our pets part of the family. I still remember the expression of shocked disbelief I received from my ranching friend, Gail, when I mentioned it during a casual conversation about our holiday preparations. Ranchers have a working relationship with their animals, and view even dogs more as hired hands than as pets worthy of any pampering. 
Kobi
By contrast, our pets have always looked forward to the holiday season with relish, knowing it won’t be long before stockings loaded with special treats will be theirs to enjoy.  This was particularly true of Kobi, our mixed breed German Shepherd/Malamute.  He knew that after Thanksgiving it was our tradition to search for the perfect Christmas tree from horseback, and therefore, took advantage of the opportunity to prance in the snow while hunting for unwary gophers. However, on his first Christmas with us he was rather baffled when we brought a tree inside the house, and he sniffed it suspiciously. I felt compelled to warn him sternly it was not his private privy, and any intentions he had should be left outside where they properly belonged. He seemed to comprehend me, for he never molested the tree, and appeared content to sit and ponder over it as we began the decorating ritual.      
Since this was his initiation into our tradition, I made a special effort to show him each ornament as we hung it on the tree.  As always, I explained the stories behind them, hoping that in time my daughters would have them committed to memory.  Kobi listened intently while I recited their individual histories reflecting the places we have lived, the birth of each child, the friends we have known, and the adventures we have shared.  First came the shiny ceramic dog named Snoopy from the “Peanuts” comic strip, with a candy cane in his paws, given to me by Kathy Ericson in the third grade.  It’s the only ornament I ever received as a child, and I cherished the sentiment behind it, though it had to wait many years before it appeared on a tree.  Mother was very strict about Christmas décor; everything had to match, so our handmade or gifted ornaments never did pass muster.  After I was grown, Snoopy always had a place on my tree.  Next came the glass candy my husband gave me when we first married.  Like so many couples starting out, money was tight, but Bill thought it important we have an ornament that was uniquely ours that first Christmas together.  Kobi licked his chops when I showed it to him.  Sorry boy, it isn’t edible.  Oh, but here’s one he can identify with, my personal favorite, a hand-blown glass figurine of two Dalmatian puppies. I bought it because it reminded me of the Halloween when both my girls, still very young, dressed as Dalmatians.  The image of those smiling little faces will never leave my memory.  
In remembrance
But not all the memories evoked are happy ones, and Kobi must have sensed this one was different as we hung our September 11th military ornament on the tree.  I did so in solemn gratitude that Bill, a United States Air Force officer at the time, survived the attack on the Pentagon that day, when so many others did not or would not in the years to follow.  Kobi sat at attention like a sentry dog.  Could he know what it meant to us?
The decorating continued with a quaint little covered wagon ornament I acquired before the great trek to Montana and the new home and new life it promised for us. That’s where Kobi came in, a lost waif we had adopted from the local Humane Society.  Since it was his first Christmas with us, I made an ornament for him, as I have for all the dogs and horses who’ve shared their lives with us, and will for those yet to come.  
With the work on the tree now done, Bill stopped groaning, the girls enjoyed their sweet rewards, and I was relieved to be tying the last stocking to the stairway bannister.  Kobi eyed this one with its satin red ribbon.  He sat in front of it all evening, wistfully gazing and dreaming of its contents. He knew this one was his, and in it were very special gifts.  When it was time for bed, I had to remind him to settle in for the night.  Reluctantly, he abandoned his vigil, but when morning came, surprisingly, I did not find him by his stocking, but instead, asleep under the tree, near the ornament with his photograph in it.  Yes, I think he really did understand the spirit of Christmas.  
Covered Wagon
That was nearly a decade ago, and now a new Christmas season is upon us.  As always, opening up the decoration box is like visiting with old friends once more. As my girls excitedly unwrap each ornament in turn, it kindles the memories of horse shows, of travel, of loved ones far away, the good times, and the bad.  We repeat each tale together, ensuring the next generation will remember and cherish their heritage, and the absent friends, both man and beast, who make the memories worthwhile.

AW  Wish I could be there with you all, but I'm on stage this year in pantomime and will be spending my time with Hansel and Gretal entertaining a lot of mums, dads and children. Just one last question though. If you had a whole afternoon to yourself this Christmas and could choose to spend it with any one individual, living or dead or a character from a book, who would it be, and what would you want to discuss?
 NQ  That is such a difficult question for me.  There are so many people and book characters I admire.  However, since you mentioned only one individual, I would have to say my father, Boyd A. Zimmer, Jr.  He died when I was 6, so I never really knew him well. How amazing it would be to spend some time with him - imagine, a whole afternoon!  He was a noted artist, though his work was more impressionistic than mine. I lean toward detailed and realistic representation in my art, which focuses on nature. I know my abilities are a gift from him, which is why I sign every piece of art with a “Z” as my middle initial. It represents my maiden name, and is my personal thank you, just for my Dad. While I would ask him about his paintings and what inspired him, as well as his numerous charity efforts, mostly, I would besiege him with a million questions about our former family life. 

About the author...:   Nancy Quinn is an internationally known wildlife artist whose work is noted for its detail and accuracy. She is the recipient of two World Wildlife Art Championship awards and the subject of numerous articles about animal art. She now happily resides on a mountainside in Montana with her husband, daughters, dogs, and horses, where she continues to paint and write about her experiences living in the wild.

You can find her book : Amazon US  Amazon UK  Hellgate Press

You can follow Nancy : Website  Facebook  Blog  Twitter

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Please welcome fellow author...

...Janice Preston, to the blog. 

JP  Thank you so much for inviting me onto your blog.
AW  You’re very welcome, Janice.  So, tell me, what is your current release?
JP  The Governess’s Secret Baby – a gothic-style Regency beauty and the beast story, with a scarred hero, a secret baby and Christmas! This is the fourth book in The Governess Tales series, each book having been penned by a different author. It is a standalone story, so it isn’t necessary to read the others to enjoy The Governess’s Secret Baby. The first chapter is available to read on my website www.janicepreston.co.uk

AW   What first got you into writing and why?
JP  I loved writing stories as a child but somehow real life got in the way and as an adult I had no thought of writing, although I still made up stories in my head. Usually with a gorgeous hero! I rediscovered my love of the Regency era (via the novels of Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen and also contemporary authors) when my children left home. Inevitably, there came the day when I read a book and thought ‘I could do better than that!’ (Not, I hasten to add, after reading Austen or Heyer!) And that was it. I began to write.

AW  You write Historical Romance novels.  Is it all imagination or do you also undertake research?
JP  As my books are set in the Regency era there is always a certain amount of research. I have read widely about the Regency era and so I do have a ‘feel’ for the times, but there are always details that need researching. And it is not always the history that needs to be checked. The hero in The Governess’s Secret Baby keeps hawks and is rehabilitating a golden eagle to the wild, and so I went on a bird of prey experience to get a feel for handling and flying the birds. That was huge fun!

AW  And what about other types of writing?  Have you ever dabbled with short stories, for instance, or other genres?
JP  My very first published work was a contemporary short story – a romance – which was published in an anthology. Other than that, I have written a crime novel, which needs a huge edit before I can do anything with it, and I have the beginning of a fantasy novel – a modern take on the Little Mermaid fairy tale, which won the Elizabeth Goudge trophy at the RNA conference in 2014. I will one day complete that story, but the scale of it does scare me a bit – I know where it is going, and it’s quite complex! Shortage of time is a constant problem.

Janice's writing 'shed'
AW  Famous authors, such as Roald Dahl and Dylan Thomas, had a special space for writing.  Do you have a writing ‘shed’ of your own?
JP  Our loft has been converted into a third bedroom, which in reality is my office with a sofa bed, and with a gallery landing area that forms my husband’s office. So, we both work up in the eaves with far-reaching views. The downside of this is that my husband now runs his own company and spends quite a lot of his time on the phone. Not helpful when I am in the middle of a romantic scene especially as he has a loud voice! There are times when I long for one of those garden rooms at the bottom of the garden, with no internet and no husband, just plenty of coffee. I need peace and quiet to lose myself in my writing. From the photo, you can see how messy I am when I’m working – my desk gets a good tidy up between books, but piles of paper and books soon accumulate again!

AW  Finally, if you had a whole afternoon to yourself and could choose to spend it with any one individual, living or dead or a character from a book, who would it be, and what would you want to discuss?
JP  There’s an interesting question. I’m going to rebel and give you two people.
AW  Rebel!  Others have tried that, Janice, and have been brought to book accordingly.  But I will listen before I decide whether I should press you to choose only one individual.
JP  First, I would spend it with my mum, who died fifteen years ago. She knew I had started writing, but never read anything I wrote and of course never knew I was published. I’m sure she would be proud – and she would remember when I was at primary school and used to say I was going to be an author when I grew up! As for what else we’d talk about… family, of course, in particular my 4-year-old grandson, and there are many things I wish I’d said while she was still alive. One of my biggest regrets is that I left things unsaid.
Second, it would have to be Jane Austen. How fascinating it would be to talk to someone who actually lived in the era I write about. I would ask her all sorts of details about everyday life, and I’m sure she would keep me entertained with her wickedly witty observations of human behavior in all its absurdity.
AW  I know exactly where you’re coming from in relation to your mum.  My dad hasn't seen my work in print, not even my earliest short story.  I’m also a lover of Austen… so under these particular circumstances I’m happy for you to rebel!
JP  Thanks again for having me, Angela, and for asking such thought provoking questions!
AW My pleasure.


About the book... The beauty who tamed the beast
New governess Grace Bertram will do anything to get to know her young daughter, Clara. Even if it means working for Clara's guardian, the reclusive and scarred Nathaniel, Marquess of Ravenwell!
Nathaniel believes no woman could ever love a monster like him, until Grace seems to look past his scars to the man beneath But when he discovers Grace is Clara's mother, Nathaniel questions his place in this torn-apart family. Could there be a Christmas happy-ever-after for this beauty and the beast?
You can find the book : http://mybook.to/SecretBaby


About the author... Janice Preston writes emotional, sensual and satisfying Regency romance for Harlequin Mills & Boon. She grew up in Wembley with a love of reading, writing stories and animals and has worked as a dairy farmer, a police call-handler and a university administrator. She has two children, two step-children (all now adult) and a gorgeous, cheeky grandson. She now lives in the West Midlands with her husband and two cats and enjoys swimming, yoga and pottering about the garden when the sun is shining.
You find Janice online : www.janicepreston.co.uk   Facebook   Twitter   Amazon  and  Goodreads 

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

An interesting read...

 ... is Caroline Moorehead's book, 'Village of Secrets'.  I read it a short while ago whilst I was travelling in France.  Read on to find out more... 


I found this book fascinating, and although it is factual, it is written in an easy narrative style.  Being about France during the war, I had to have my map open as I was reading and I now have a new area of the country to visit - and I will do so at some future date.

The area in question is on the eastern side of Le Puy-en-Velay.  This is the Ardèche and the principle village in this true story is that of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon.  It's a vary scenic area with the village surrounded by thick forest of oak and pine on the Vivarais plateau - a remote place.  Looking at the map it reminded me of the Vercors, another area of France with a very different story to tell and I'm planning on spending some more time there soon.

Just why and how the inhabitants of Le Chambon and the outlying villages came to save thousands wanted by the Gestapo is difficult to put into a nutshell.  But save people - many of them children and babies whose parents had been deported to the camps in Poland and Germany - is exactly what they did.  And you have to keep in mind that a lot of these villagers were just ordinary French people, farmers, drovers, the local bar owner or teacher. In addition the villagers surrounded themselves with a wall of silence, which proved very difficult for the opposing forces to break.  And after the war, Le Chambon became the only village to be listed in its entirety in Yad Vashem's Dictionary of the Just.

This is very much a factual book, but Caroline Moorehead brings the story to life with her easy flowing narrative.  She demonstrates the outstanding courage and determination of this small group of people who came together to oppose the rule of the occupying forces.

The book covers the whole period of the 1939-45 war, prior to the occupation in the north and western seaboard and the creation of the unoccupied Vichy France in the south.  I've visited the town of, and the area that once was, Vichy and have often wondered about the history behind this most difficult time in French history.  This book provides many detailed insights in a non-judgemental way.  

An amazing read, carefully researched with an extensive bibliography at the back so I have earmarked other items to read.  However, because of the subject matter, I found that I was sometimes moved to tears.  You may need a hanky or two to get through to the last page.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Seeing the colours...

... I had the opportunity, at the last minute, to see the Georgia O'Keefe exhibition at the Tate last month...

London, looking from the Southbank
The gallery had opened in June and this was my very first visit to the building.  The tube dropped me off in Southwark, the birth place of a number of generations of my ancestors.  As I took the short stroll from the station to the gallery I couldn't help but wonder what the streets would have looked like to those earlier generations.  In amongst the modern buildings were much older ones that were now apartments and belying their previous industrial past.  As I walked by the old pub on Great Suffolk Street, I wondered if any of my ancestors might have spent any time there.

The Tate is a stunning piece of modern architecture that has been blended with an existing old building.  In no way is it out of place here.  As I find the right floor for the exhibition I am distracted by the glorious views of the city on the north bank.  St Paul's is standing head and shoulders above other buildings.  And no, despite the name I can't claim Sir Christopher as a direct ancestor.  But I like to think that maybe we share some ancient link.

Oriental Poppies*
Georgia O'Keefe was an abstractionist - this is new terminology to me.  It was her paintings of the New York skyline and flowers that first drew my attention to her some 10 or so years ago.  Then, in 2014, I read in the paper, that her 1932 painting 'Jimson Weed/White Flower No 1' had sold for $44.4m and I knew I had to know more about her and her work.

I skipped some of the early rooms so that I could see the flower paintings and they are truly stunning.  As I stood in front of Jimson Weed I marvelled at the price for the canvas, which is a fairly modest 120cms by 100cms.  Apparently, if you stack 1m dollar bills they will reach a height of over 300ft.  Add another 43 blocks of greenbacks to that and you would probably be way out in space somewhere, I think!  Then another equally bizarre thought struck me, if the ;purchaser had insisted on paying for the painting in actual paper money, where would the bank put all those dollar bills?  Hmmm...

White Rose*
What particularly mesmerises me about the flower paintings are the colours which display the shapes of the leaves and petals.  A friend of mine, a painter also, once told me that instead of looking for the shapes she 'looked for the light and shade in the colours'.  I stand before each canvas and try to do the same.  

O'Keefe died in 1986 and the commentary that accompanied the exhibition includes recordings of her talking about her work.  I'm fascinated to hear that she sees the colours.  After a whole afternoon with such amazing pieces of art, I think I half-way know what she means. 

* In the shop at the Tate it is possible to buy little pieces of Georgia O'Keefe's work in the form of cards like these - so I did!

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

The first snows of winter...

... arrive in the village of Messandrierre...


The Haute Cévennes is a sparse and rugged area of the Languedoc-Roussillon region of southern France.  In a moment the weather can change from bright sunshine to howling rain and thunder.  In autumn, the temperature drops and overnight can often be below freezing. I managed to capture the dramatic changes in the weather on one of my many visits to the area a few years ago.  That visit became the inspiration for my story and the begining of my journey to publication.

An extract from Messandrierre...


Crossing the col to Rieutort
it begins

I died beneath a clear autumn sky in September, late in September when warm cévenol afternoons drift into cooler than usual evenings before winter steals down from the summit of Mont Aigoual.
My shallow grave lies in a field behind an old farmhouse. There was no ceremony to mark my death and no mourners, just a stranger in the darkness spading soil over my body. Only the midnight clouds cried for me as they carried their first sprinkling of snow to the tiny village of Messandrierre.
My innocent white coverlet allowing the earth around me to shift and settle unseen and become comfortable again. 

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

The Scottish Diamond...

... friend and author, Helena Fairfax, joins me today to talk about her love of romance
Helena Fairfax

I love romantic suspense – J.D. Robb, Nora Roberts, and the old classics like Mary Stewart - but up until a couple of years ago it had never crossed my mind to have a try at writing in this genre.  One day, though, I saw a call for submissions for a romantic suspense anthology.  My mind began working subconsciously in that “What if…?” kind of way and shortly after seeing the call an idea for a story popped into my head, and I really wanted to write it down.
The story I dreamed up was a classic doppelgänger suspense, with a princess vanished in mysterious circumstances and a heroine who looks enough like her to play her part.  Added to that was a handsome bodyguard, a housekeeper as creepy as Mrs. Danvers, and a dramatic twist that surprised the heroine – and almost ruined everything for her.
To cut a long story short (pardon the pun!) the anthology didn’t go ahead, but the agent who had intended to put it together emailed me to tell me how much she’d loved my short story, and how she thought I should expand it into a novella.
I’d loved my characters, too, and I loved the idea of making the story longer, and especially of getting to know my bodyguard hero better.  And that’s how my novella Palace of Deception came about.
I released Palace of Deception last year as an eBook, and it will be published in large print next year.  (At the moment, I’m offering all new subscribers to my newsletter a FREE copy of Palace of Deception.  You can subscribe here:  http://eepurl.com/bRQtsT)
I thought Palace of Deception would be the end of my foray into romantic suspense but Lizzie and Léon – my Mediterranean bodyguard and Scottish heroine – refused to bow out so easily.
Palace of Deception is set in Montverrier – a fictional Mediterranean principality – and I couldn’t help wondering what would happen to Léon when he travelled with Lizzie to her home in Edinburgh at the end of the story.  How would a hot-blooded Mediterranean bodyguard fit in in this dark, chilly city in the north?  Would their relationship survive the move?  And then what if danger followed them…?
The Scottish Diamond follows the fortunes of Lizzie and Léon in Scotland.  Edinburgh has been at the centre of some thrilling and dramatic events in history, from the siege of Edinburgh Castle in the fourteenth century, to the brutal murder of Mary Queen of Scots’ private secretary in her rooms at Holyrood Palace, to the capture and imprisonment of Highland rebels in the Jacobite revolution. This beautiful and unique city lends itself perfectly to mystery and romance.
The Scottish Diamond of the title of my novella belonged to the fictional aristocratic Falmire family.  In 1745, Lord Falmire fought in the Jacobite revolution, and was forced to flee to my fictional Mediterranean country of Montverrier, taking the diamond with him.  While in Montverrier, he played cards with the Montverrian prince, and…  Well, you’ll have to read the rest of the story to find out what happens to the diamond in the present day!
The Scottish Diamond was great fun to write, and the Edinburgh setting added enormously to the mystery and romance of the tale.
I’ve now released both novellas – Palace of Deception and The Scottish Diamond, in one boxed set along with a short story that provides an epilogue to Lizzie and Léon’s story.  The collection is called A Year of Light and Shadows.

About the books : A Year of Light and Shadows contains three romantic mysteries in one volume.
Palace of Deception
From the heat of the Mediterranean....
When the Princess of Montverrier goes missing, Lizzie Smith takes on the acting job of her life.  Alone and surrounded by intrigue in the Royal Palace, she relies on her quiet bodyguard, Léon.  But who is he really protecting?  Lizzie... or the Princess?
The Scottish Diamond
To the heart of Scotland...
Home in Scotland, Lizzie begins rehearsals for Macbeth, and finds danger stalking her through the streets of Edinburgh.  She turns to her former bodyguard, Léon, for help - and discovers a secret he'd do anything not to reveal...
A Question by Torchlight
A story of mystery and romance...
The approach of Hogmanay in Edinburgh means a new year and new resolutions.  Lizzie and Léon have put their year of danger behind them.  But something is still troubling Léon, and Lizzie fears the worst...
BUY LINKS: A Year of Light and Shadows is available on pre-order on Amazon: http://mybook.to/lightandshadows
and on Kobo https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/a-year-of-light-and-shadows
and other major e-tailers. The print version is coming soon.
About the author : Helena Fairfax writes engaging contemporary romances with sympathetic heroines and heroes she's secretly in love with. Her novels have been shortlisted for several awards, including the Exeter Novel Prize, the Global EBook Awards, the I Heart Indie Awards, and the UK's Romantic Novelists' Association New Writers' Scheme Award.
Helena is a British author who was born in Uganda and came to England as a child. She's grown used to the cold now, and these days she lives in an old Victorian mill town in the north of England, right next door to the windswept Yorkshire moors. She walks this romantic landscape every day with her rescue dog, finding it the perfect place to dream up her heroes and her happy endings.

 
Follow Helena : If you’d like to get in touch, or find out more about my books, writing, and photos of my settings or the Yorkshire moors where I live, please follow my newsletter by subscribing here: http://eepurl.com/bRQtsT
All new subscribers to my newsletter will receive a FREE copy of Palace of Deception – the first book in the collection A Year of Light and Shadows
You can also visit me on my website at www.helenafairfax.com, or on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/HelenaFairfax/, or Twitter https://twitter.com/HelenaFairfax

 

 

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

A little something to...

... prepare you for Halloween...
Adrian in the village featured in his boook

Please welcome Adrian Martin to my blog with an unusual tale for you...

What is Ideals?

No breeze blows in this dank room. Time stands as still as the air. Stagnant. I am no longer permitted to be part of the population and my own fellow. Trapped by a misery of grey and steel. The forever lingering stench of freedom wafts along the corridor on the other side of the door. You see, I do not conform to their ideals, but only my own. To whom did I give the right to infer what rules I must obey? I gave no permission, yet I am judged for it. 
My boggle eyes find what my internal organs require to prevent the ache from crippling this aging bag of bones. Only a dim glare overhead gives any acknowledgement of my existence, and the lingering chill affects me so. A bed. A blanket. A danger. I am permitted nothing, for the body now withers, as does my once sharp mind. I have friends, of course, as do we all, but they are no longer permitted to come for dinner. Reasoning of those in exalted places is that I am incapable of behaving in a manner that is conducive and acceptable within their social structure. A drunk? No. A wife beater? No. An offender of children? Most certainly not. I abhor such repulsive crimes and believe those particular perpetrators should be erased from existence. 
A brave little thing. It wonders innocently across my floor. It has asked no permission, yet it mocks me, doing as it pleases. I leap to the floor and snap ambush. It pays me little attention as I poke it with a stubby finger. Still it ignores me. Has it not seen my name on the door outside? Of course not, it cannot read, but still, I am here and bigger, stronger and once upon a time I would have been faster. It continues on its mission, whatever that is. Does it not get furious each time I force it off course? Perhaps, but it’s fun. I cannot hear it cursing me for my intrusion into its day. But it has intruded upon mine also, and yet I hear it offering me no apologies. My stomach begins to twist in anger at this mockery. ‘This cell is mine, and I am not permitted to mix with others,’ I warn it. But it does not know me, what I am capable of and why I am segregated. My stomach groans, its bellows foreshadowing this poor creature’s future. I grip the cockroach between forefinger and thumb, and for a moment there is a mutual understanding as we make eye contact. The crunch, the explosion of warm slime in my mouth is exquisite. Dining for one can be perfection when the taste can be savoured. This is why I am not permitted to be a friend of society, nor company within this cell. The cockroach, however, is no substitute for human flesh.


Illustrating the setting for the book
About the author... Adrian lives just outside of Newquay, Cornwall, with his wife, Lisa, and four children. He began writing while serving in the British Army, starting with poetry written on blueys (blue sheets of paper that fold into envelopes) as he was on a peacekeeping mission in Kosovo. After leaving the army, he tried being a security guard, but found walking around the supermarket for fourteen hours a day somewhat monotonous, so decided to give long distance lorry driving a go. It was whilst doing this he began to pen “The Helland Reckoning”. The novel was inspired by the small hamlet of Helland, where Adrian stayed with a friend as a child. It had remained in his thoughts for many years, so it became the natural setting for the book. After five years of tramping around the U.K and Europe, he decided it was time to be home more, so began driving fuel tankers around Devon and Cornwall. After breaking his ankle playing football, Adrian was made redundant so set to work rewriting the manuscript. However, Adrian’s last job, working for a portaloo company (which was actually a lot of fun) made him want to chase his dream as a writer, so in September 2015 he returned to full time education studying an Access course in English, literature and creative writing, achieving mainly distinction grades along the way. He is currently studying a BA (Hons) Degree in Creative Writing at Falmouth University, Cornwall. His hobbies include spending time with his family, writing, football, skiing, walking and Facebook! Feel free to hunt him down and chat on Twitter 


About the book... What should have been a fresh start for Katie Tremain and her twin twelve year old daughter’s, (Sarah and Tegan) in the heart of the Cornish countryside, quickly turns to tragedy when, Sarah goes missing in the bleak and snowy surroundings of Bodmin Moor. There are no footprints surrounding the house from where she has gone missing, and no evidence of the girl.
Before the police arrive, delayed by the unpredicted snowfall, a stranger arrives claiming he wants to help find, Sarah. Katie has never seen this man before, yet there seems something familiar about him, and Tegan appears to have a connection with him. He has one stipulation – No police. Why, what are his true motives?
A missing girl, a broken mother, a lonely sister and a stranger. Together they look for the missing girl, and Katie is shocked when the stranger’s true identity is revealed, and sickened when she finds out who has her daughter.
This supernatural horror takes a mother to face her worst nightmare.

You can find his book on Amazon

I will be reviewing Adrian's book on the live Bookit! programme on Sinefm on Saturday October 29th, 10.00am UK time





Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Most unusually this week...


...I have a book review as my post.  Whether this will become a regular feature or not, I’m not sure yet.  Perhaps you might comment and let me know what you think.


The Seine, Paris

The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain

If you’ve read my post from September 18th,  ( Sunday Sojourn, Paris ) you'll know that, like fellow author Jennifer Wilson who owns the blog on which the post appears, Paris is a favourite city of mine.  So, coming across ‘The Red Notebook’ by Antoine Laurain was an absolute gem of a find.  And where better to read such a little book than the city of its setting?  So I did!

Laure, a single lady who works as a gilder, has her handbag snatched late one evening as she is returning to her apartment block in the city.  In desperation she runs to the hotel across road to beg for a room with the promise of paying once she can get the locks on her door changed and go to her bank to get some money.  The next morning things don’t quite work out as planned.
Laurent is the owner of a Paris bookshop called ‘Le Cahier Rouge’ and yes that does make you assume at the outset that this is the notebook of the title.  Maybe it is… maybe not! Sorry, but I’m not telling!  On his usual route from his own apartment building, via his regular café, to the bookshop, Laurent finds the discarded handbag in a skip beside the road.  He muses for a moment or two but then retrieves the bag and decides to return it to its rightful owner.
The rest of the story you will have to read for yourselves, but I can guarantee you that the journey around the city that Laurent takes in his efforts to find Laure, the obstacles he encounters and the miscommunications, misunderstandings and interventions from unexpected sources along the way, make this one the most amusing little love stories I have read in years.
The constant ’will they, won’t they’ question kept me on the edge of my seat.  The pace of the story never flags but somehow also manages to be as serene as the majestic setting which is so beautifully described.  The characters walk off the page and I found myself so utterly immersed in the story that I read it in one day.
A brilliant little book!

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Please welcome two very special guests...

Sarah and Dougal
..fellow Crooked Cat author, Sarah Stephenson, and Dougal, the subject of a diary.
SS  Angela, thank you for inviting me on to your blog today, it’s a great priviledge.

AW  You are both very welcome.  So, tell me Sarah, how did Dougal's diary come about?
SS  I have to thank Sue Townsend, one of my favourite authors, for giving me the personality of my central character, Dougal.  My first book, Dougal’s Dairy, is printed as an ebook with Crooked Cat and will be out in print, any day soon.
I am often asked where the idea for Dougal came from.  Well, I have to confess it all started with a shower, in fact, two.  I was in the bathroom, smothered in shower gel, when my puppy Dougal, decided he had to go out for a pee in the rain.  As I stood in the garden; towel in one hand, brolly in other, I thought what a good picture it would make.  Actually, I lie.  My first reaction was, you bloody dog, followed by what if I…? Other incidents, such as Dougal covered from head to tail in mud, or Dougal shooting down a slide on a toddler’s lap, encouraged the idea; a small book of cartoons with captions underneath.
It was then reality struck.  I’d have to return to art classes and hone my skills.  This could take time.  This could take years.  Instead I began compiling lists.  From lists came daily jottings in a diary.  Unfortunately they were so tedious, I almost fell asleep on page one.  So I searched for inspiration from well-known authors and came across Buster’s Diaries by Roy Hattersley.  A true and delightful story, but not quite what I was looking for.
In despair, I turned to the human and more humorous diaries.  Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’
Dougal, covered in mud!
Diary.  Fun: men mad and always on a diet.  Not exactly Dougal but it gave me ideas.  His food obsessions, his desire to put on weight, his owner’s determination to keep him slim.
When I finally hit upon Adrian Mole; a developing male full of angst over girls, acne and the length of his penis, a seed was born.  I lifted bits of fact, mixed them with fantasy and turned Dougal into a fictional character.  Thanks to Sue Townsend, I found the tone of the book and the character of Dougal.
Just like Adrian Mole, Dougal is obsessed not with acne, but his weight and health. Is constantly misunderstood and a worrier: worried about elderly relatives, the NHS and Transport for London.  Unlike Adrian Mole, the nearest Dougal comes to getting his girl, is humping all dogs called Chester.                       
In some of the early drafts, Dougal believed he was so abused, I feared anyone reading it might report his owner to the RSPCA.  These had to be binned and the tone tempered.  It was important he was seen as a complete hypochondriac.


About the author...Sarah, who grew up in Bristol, now lives in South East London with two dogs.  She's had a chequered career as ballet dancer, cook, cleaning lady, salesgirl of outsize underwear in Littlewoods and actor.

You can find her book using the links below
Amazon UK
Amazon US