Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Photography with Beth Samuels

I was able to catch up with the character of Beth Samuels, whilst I was in France a little earlier in the year.  Having put one or two testing questions to Jacques Forêt last week, I then went to meet Beth in her new studio and shop.  Read on to find out what she said…

AW   Beth, thanks for giving me some of your valuable time and I have to say this place looks wonderful.
BS    Thank you.  It has taken a lot of hard work to get everything exactly how I wanted it.  And I still haven't quite finished yet.
AW   So the fire in October 2009 did extensive damage then?
BS   In some respects, yes.  Come through to the studio, the beams above us were badly burnt and two had to be replaced. The window is completely new and part of that back wall had to be rebuilt.  There was damage to the floor above too.  All of this room and the shop front had to be re-plastered.  The windows had shattered with the heat and have now been replaced.  It took a lot longer than I anticipated.  Let's go back into the shop and I'll show you what I'm working on at the moment.
AW  Those pictures on your computer screen look great - how did you do that?
BS   It's quite easy really.  I'm just experimenting today.  I got the base shots with my very small digital camera one day last autumn when I was visiting a village just north of here.  I thought the autumnal displays were lovely, but it was only when I downloaded them and looked at them on the big monitor that I thought the windows might make a good feature to use as the pictures on greetings cards.  And that's what I've been playing around with this morning.
AW   So this first one is the original shot and the second is?
BS   The one that I've cropped and then applied a filter.  The third one has had the colour density for red enhanced slightly.
AW  And did that take long?
BS    Not at all.  Once I'd got the window as the central feature, right size and sharpness, then I can change the picture using the filters in the software at the click of the mouse.
AW  Amazing.  So, next, you will print the picture onto cards, is that it?
BS  Not quite, no.  Now that I know the idea will work I will go back and take my tripod and my other camera with me and spend a day there taking shots.  As the sun moves through the sky during the course of the day, the light changes.  I'll go back four times so that I can capture the inside of the church in each of the seasons.  Then I'll choose the best shots and then create the finishes that I want on the computer.  When I have my final set of images I'll take them to Monsieur Rochefort - the local printer here in Mende - and get them printed and then sell them here in the shop.
AW  I see.  I wish you all the best with that.  Beth, I was talking to Jacques last week and I know he asked you a very important question when he had completed his investigation in Merle.  Is there anything you want to share with us about that?
BS  Mmm, Jacques told me you'd been fishing for information.  So, I'll take the same line as him and just say that we're both working hard to make a life for ourselves here in Mende.
AW  Not quite the answer I was hoping for.  Are you sure there's nothing more you want to tell us, Beth?
BS   Yes, quite sure. You'll just have to wait until November.

Montbel  Jacques Forêt's next case is available for pre-order in both print and e-format.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

In the city of Mende with Jacques Forêt

Cathedral and the city of Mende
I was able to catch up with my central character, Jacques Forêt, whilst I was in France a little earlier in the year.  I put one or two testing questions to him… read on to find out what he said…

AW  Jacques thanks for making time in your busy schedule for me today.  You're working here at Vaux Investigations, in the centre of a city, how does that measure up with your own little 'barony' in the tiny gendarmerie in Messandrierre?
JF   I enjoyed my time as the local policeman in Messandrierre, and yes, I suppose you could say I had my own domain.  But village life is what it is, and whilst I needed some quiet when I first arrived, I quickly realised that I missed the excitement and the pressure of working on a large and complex case like the ones I used to handle in Paris.  Being here at Vaux gives me more varied work as I always have a number of cases on my desk at any one time.  I have the thrill of complex investigations again, but I'm still answerable to the management board… and that has its difficulties.
AW  Difficulties?  Would you like to tell me more about that?
JF    Not really.  But I will say that adjusting to life in a corporate organisation has not been easy for me personally.
AW  Alright, I'll let you get away with that one.  I understand you have a new case that you are working on.  Can you tell me about that?
JF    Hmm.  A difficult one.  What I thought at first was a straight forward missing person's case is turning out to be much more complex.  A key witness is now dead and myself and my colleagues are unsure of where to go next.  I'm also concerned that there are other parties working in the background to thwart my progress… It's a difficult situation.
AW  But you are confident that you can resolve it, aren't you?
JF    Oh yes.
AW  And that smile tells me everything I need to know!  And when will we be able to read all about this?
JF    In November.
AW  OK.  So, moving on, what about Beth?  Anything you want to share with us about you and Beth.
JF    She's very well, thank you and working hard to establish her photographic studio and shop here in Mende.
AW  I see.  Not quite the answer I was hoping for.  Are you sure there's nothing more you want to tell us about you and Beth? … And there's that smile again!
JF   You know me too well!  Perhaps we can talk off the record over lunch.

... and here's a short extract from Jacques' next story

                               la lettre 

…families fracture, Monsieur Forêt. No one desires it or intends it, but it happens. A harsh, unforgiving word begets a rash and revengeful action, and a sliver of ice takes hold in a dark corner of the hearts of those at odds with each other. And there it wedges itself, the frost gradually deepening and destroying. One of us has to stop the cold, as this impasse can continue no longer.  I have to put things right with my son, Monsieur… 

june 3rd, 2011

Montbel is available for pre-order in both print and e-format.

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

I'm reviewing an Egyptian Journal...

...by William Golding

Published in 1985 this book charts Golding’s experiences, in the previous year, as he travels down the Nile with his wife, and a motley crew at the behest of his publisher.
At this point in his career, he had been awarded the Noel Prize for literature, had won various other accolades and had 11 novels published along with some notable travel pieces, books of poetry, some non-fiction and his only full-length play, The Brass Butterfly..
Like me, Golding, had a life-long fascination with ancient Egypt, so one has to ask the question – what took him so long?  Born in 1911 he would have been 73 when he took this trip.  I made my trip to Egypt at the age of 35.  I remember announcing my intentions to my family and then promptly going out a few days later to make all the arrangements with the travel agent.  And OK, I made my journey several years later than Golding, but, it was interesting to note as I worked my way through the book, that some of the frustrations I witnessed and felt about Egypt, had been there when Golding made his.
Beginning in Ma‘adi, just south of Cairo, as I did, Golding takes you with him as he sources and secures a small river cruiser to take him down the Nile to Luxor.  And so begins a chapter by chapter discourse of each day of his cruise.  Not that he had the same level of comfort as I did.  He complains about the lack of regular meals, the lack of heating, enough bedding, wardrobe space, his own overpacking and much more besides.  The most important lesson for Golding to learn, though, was how NOT to be the Captain of the ship!  His eminent naval career may have prepared him for life at sea and in war, but taking a step back to become a passenger on a ship was not one of them, much to my amusement as I read the details of these regular little clashes between ex-naval officer and Egyptian river boat Reis.
The monuments visited play their own individual roles throughout the text and I was glad to see that, in telling the ancient history, Golding maintained the easy narrative flow.  However, despite the history, the detail of the look of the monuments, it is no substitute for the wonder of seeing these incredible pieces of history for yourself.  Luckily, I had my own memories to draw upon to supplement Golding’s thoughts and descriptions.
One other thing that Golding comes back to again and again, was an issue for me, too, when I was there.  There’s an inconsistency to Egypt, its history, its people and culture, that he could not rationalise.  Neither could I, and having finally read his book, I’m still none the wiser.  Still a riveting read, though!

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Jottings from the Journals... La Ferté-Macé...

Stunning masonry, Notre-Dame de L'Assomption
...I'm continuing my occasional series of notes from my journals.  Read on...

Thursday, 12th

Camped at Domfront and here in La Ferté-Macé today, to see the town.  With a population of around 7,000 inhabitants, it is a small place that has very few ancient monuments but is rich in old houses and buildings dating for the 18th and 19th centuries.
I've been wandering the town centre and I checked out the butcher's shop.  There is a local dish called tripes en brochettes noisetier which appears to be peculiar to this place.  At first glance, the kebabs I saw in the window looked very appetising.  Then I read the label.  Nothing will induce me to eat animal intestines, no matter how they are presented and completely irrespective of whether the skewer is made of hazelnut or just plain steel - as is the norm for my barbecues!
As I begin to meander through the central square I hear the thrum of an old car engine.  Within moments a Triumph pulls around the side of the church and is guided into a parking spot.  A minute or two later an old Morgan, in British racing green, appeared.  Then a steady stream of classic and vintage cars poured into the square.  The atmosphere took on a metallic scent, people appeared from everywhere and the hum of engines competed with numerous conversations.
The plate on one of the cars tells me this is Le 3e Tour de Normandie.  Across 4 days these vehicles travel through Normandy, stopping off for lunch and overnight stays at various locations in the region and today they are here in La Ferté.  What a find!  I decide to have a look at these fabulous vehicles and start with the Morgan.  It may have French plates but it is my dream car and it's British.  These gorgeous machines are coach built at the factory (first established in 1914) in Malvern, even today.  I'm told by the owner that the car is a V6. A 6 cylinder engine and that means it will go some!  I wonder if I dare ask to be taken for a spin in this gorgeous machine, but I chicken out!
A Citroën Avant
As I move through the lines of cars I come across a large gleaming black vehicle.  The driver is talking to another car enthusiast and I can't understand everything that's being said because they are clearly talking about the technicalities of the engine as they peer under the bonnet.  However, I do pick up that it is a Citroën Avant.  The Avant (front-wheel drive, independent suspension, among other innovations) was something of a first when it came into production in 1934.
I'm joined by an elderly gentleman, who is also ear-wigging.  After a few moments, he shakes his head and beckons me away.  In whispers, he tells me what that car means to him as he shares a little of his childhood experience in occupied France.  Then he leaves and, in an instant, my perception is changed.  I saw an interesting and old vehicle, he saw terror...

At the time, this was just an interesting incident.  However, Monsieur's comments continued to live with me and inspired my research of this period in French history. His comments and that research have become the inspiration for a character in Montbel, which be published in November and is available for pre-order here 

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

William Golding...

...was born on September 19th in 1911.  As a writer he is a great favourite of mine and, this week - the 107th anniversary of his birth - seemed as good a time as any for me to celebrate his work...

Born in Cornwall, he served in the Navy and worked as a teacher before he became a full-time novelist and poet.  Say the name William Golding and everyone thinks of 'The Lord of the Flies'.  This book, perhaps his most well-known, was rejected 21 times before it was finally picked up and published in 1954.  It didn't sell particularly well, to begin with, either, but has now become a classic.  And yes, I've read it more than once, and have my own copy.  Alas, not a first edition - you can pay anything from £1,000 and upwards for one of those!  Mine is a much later and more affordable copy.
But it's one of his other works that I particularly want to mention today.  In 1967 Faber and Faber published 'The Pyramid'.  I came across my copy by accident, as I have a great deal of my collection of books.  As I was browsing through a second -hand bookshop in Ripon, the title caught my attention rather than the author.  I had recently returned from an extended trip to Egypt and the experience and the country were still very fresh in my mind.  When I looked inside I found this:

'If thou be among people make for thyself love, the beginning and end of the heart.'

It's from an ancient Egyptian text written by the vizier, Ptah-Hotep who lived during the 5th dynasty (around 4,500 years ago).  What struck me about the quote was how relevant it still was.  I bought the book, still not totally aware that the author was Golding.  It was a couple of years before I got round to reading it and I have recently re-read it.
Set in the fictitious and small town of Stilbourne, it is a story in three chapters.  Perhaps that should be three parts, as the different scenes are delineated within each part, but the narrative in each separate section remains continuous.  From a writer's perspective, the format is interesting.
The story surrounds a selection of characters in Stilbourne - a quiet place by an equally quiet and unsubstantial river. It is an acutely accurate presentation of life in a small town.  As the reader delves into the world of Oliver, the story becomes an interlacing and overlapping of the human dynamics between the inhabitants of Stilbourne.  The characters - from Miss Dawlish, the music teacher to Evie, the girl everyone wants, Ewan with his motorbike and Mr de Tracey the director for the Operatic society - are all wonderfully drawn and each mesmerising in their own,  and sometimes tragic, way.  And there's Stilbourne itself.  Not just a backdrop to contain the action and the characters, but an unobtrusive and beautifully presented character in its own right.
This story is sensitively told using elegant and flowing prose. The ending was unexpected and something that I was not prepared for.  An excellent read that I will pick up again and again.

William Golding died on June 19th, 1993.  His work includes not just his novels but his poetry - firsts of these are as rare as hen's teeth! - essays, a play and 'An Egyptian Journal'.  Look out for my review of his journal in a couple of months.

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Finding a Place to Write...

 ...friend and author Tom Halford joins me today.  Thanks for being here, Tom, and tell us a little about how and where you write?

TH  Writing can happen anywhere at any time.
A person might not be physically writing something down, but they might be planning out a character arc or a plot twist.  It helps, however, to have a space specifically for writing.
Virginia Woolf famously wrote about this in “A Room of One’s Own.”  It would be fair to say that Woolf astutely argued for the importance of a physical room but also for intellectual room to value women writers.
Some writers have more than a room. I recently heard that famous Canadian author, Lawrence Hill, has his very own shed.
Some writers take it even further.  I’ve heard of authors who have their own writing cottages. 
I have had quite a few different writing spaces.  When I was a kid, I used to sit at my parents’ kitchen table and scribble into a notebook.  As I got older, my mom and dad bought me a leather-bound journal, which looked very professional.  I worked from my bedroom, and I probably envisioned myself as something equivalent to Ray Bradbury in the opening credits of The Ray Bradbury Theater.
When my wife and I lived in South Korea, I usually sat on the floor and worked at a coffee table that was purchased by the company we worked for.  From there, we went to St. John’s, Newfoundland, and I built my own coffee table to work from.  I had found scrap wood just outside of our apartment and screwed it all together into something resembling a desk.  It was a hunk of junk, but I still think about that desk.  It reminds me that if you want to write enough, then you’ll make space for it.
From St. John’s, we moved to Plattsburgh, New York.  My desk didn’t survive the move, but I found an old, plastic card table.  It was behind a door and it had an unidentifiable brown stain that I still haven’t been able to remove.  I unfolded that and got to work whenever I had free time.  That table has been good to me for roughly six years now.
I packed it up in the U-Haul when we left Plattsburgh to come back to Canada.  I have it set up in my basement just outside of the laundry room now.
I was once lucky enough to meet one of my favourite writers, Michael Winter.  He saw that I had one of those leather-bound books for journalling.  He pulled a couple of tiny, tattered pieces of notepaper from his pocket.  I think he’d gotten them from a bank machine.  He told me that was all I really needed.
I think he was right.  A physical space for writing is a clear advantage to those who have it, but the mental space and need to write is what I think keeps a writer working.

... about the book  Effie Pitts is not your typical hero of a crime novel.
Looking for her husband who disappeared during a bachelor trip across the border, Effie stumbles onto a hidden connection between a series of crimes plaguing the citizens of Plattsburgh, New York.
Tourists and shoppers have been disappearing for four years, and locals are certain a serial killer is prowling the streets of the small border town—that is until a mysterious cult known as The Pure White Hand surfaces.
Effie travels to the United States looking for answers, but she only finds more questions.
Where is her husband? Has she bitten off more than she can chew?

You can follow Tom on Amazon  Twitter  and on  Goodreads   

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Reality and imagination...

... working together...

Lac de Charpal
I'm often asked if the places in my books are real or not.  The straight and completely accurate answer to this question is both yes and no.  My response often prompts a look of confusion on the face of the questioner.  I've also noticed a few comments from reviewers too and I thought I would take this opportunity to clarify the matter. 
My village of Messandrierre and its inhabitants are entirely fictitious, as is the name.  To give the village something of a French feel I derived the name from that of a real village that sits some way north-west of the actual location that I use as the model for my imaginary place.  Messandrierre is based on the real village of Laubert in the Cévennes.  It's a place that I have visited many times over the years.  Using a real village that I know means that I can visualise where my characters are at any one moment as I'm writing the books.  It means that I can also call on my real experiences of the weather there - and it can be extreme at times - and recreate it as a backdrop for scenes in the stories.  However, the real village of Laubert didn't quite meet all of the needs of my plot for the first book.  So, I changed one or two things.  For example, I've moved and ruined the chateau.  I planted a dead oak at the side of the top road and I felled a few of the surrounding trees.  I also built Beth's hunting chalet and placed it in the location that I would have chosen for myself. 
 Notre Dame et St Privat Cathedral, Mende
The city of Mende features in both Messandrierre and Merle - the second book in the series. Mende is very much a real place as are the streets that I mention.  It's a very old city with a colourful history and one that I have written about before and you can read my musings Here.  The sister buildings of the Vaux Group... they only exist in my imagination, but I know exactly where on Boulevard Théophile Roussel they sit.  Just as I know precisely where Beth's photographic studio and shop is situated.  The suburb of Merle is a figment of my imagination but is roughly situated towards the north of the modern town.  Of course, the name Merle has some significance in its own right.  The word translates as blackbird and Jacques is considering buying an apartment in a newly built block called Hirondelle (Swallow). But Merle is also used as a girl's Christian name and was the surname of a Huguenot soldier called Capitaine Matthieu Merle.  Living in the 16th century, he was something of a tyrant!
Decorated house, Le Puy-en-Velay
In Merle, Jacques follows one suspect to the city of Le Puy-en-Velay.  A real place that I love to visit whenever I am in the area and there are a couple of detailed posts about the times I've spent there.  Again, it is a place with an amazing history, a fabulous city centre and an imposing geography.  You can read my thoughts Here.  
The third book in the series, Montbel, is due for release on November 13th.  It is a real and small village about 8 kilometres from Laubert.  The description of Jacques' route to Montbel is exactly the same journey I've taken many times.  It is a typical mountain village surrounded by high pastures and the description in the book is recalling the scenery as it was the last time I was there.  Although the location is real, the crime comes entirely from my own imagination.  The property that Jacques visits is imaginary and, as with Laubert, I've had to make some changes to the village to support the plot.  But telling you now what those changes are, would be giving the game away!

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

I'm reviewing No Place to Lay One's Head...

... by Françoise Frenkel and published by Pushkin Press

First published in France under the title Rien où poser sa tête by L'Arbalète Gallimard in 2015, this book has finally been translated into English and other languages.  And not before time in my view.  
This little tome has had something of a chequered history.  The very first edition appeared in Geneva and was published by J-H Jeheber in 1945.  There is only one known review of the book dating from 1946.  And when you take that into account, it is remarkable that this text is still available to us today.  Had it not been for a discovery of an original edition of the book at a flea market in Nice a few years ago, this little gem might never come to my, or anyone else's attention.
Françoise Frenkel, born in Poland in 1889, was of Jewish extraction.  She studied at the Sorbonne in Paris and, following her marriage, worked in Berlin as a bookseller.  She set up her shop in 1921 with the intention of selling only French literature, periodicals and newspapers to the ex-pat community.  Her small shop was remarkably successful, to begin with.  But as the politics within Germany changed through the 1930's, as the rise of Nazism began to take hold, her business and her own life came under threat.
She travelled to France in her search for safety, but under the occupation and the divisive Vichy regime, she found no real security.  This book, written when she finally made her escape to Switzerland, is an account of her life during France's darkest period of history - Les Années Noires.
It's a beautifully written journal, that leaves you in no doubt about the difficulties of living under the Nazi regime - the constant questions and interviews; the constant worry of what or who might be around the next corner; forever looking over ones shoulder and never being sure exactly who you can really trust.
I found the narrative compelling and I was swept along in the ebb and flow of emotion as Françoise recounted her experiences.  At times I had to stop and think and, on other occasions, her story brought tears to my eyes.  It's a gripping personal account and I am especially pleased that one copy was found in that flea market.

Françoise Frenkel died in 1975 in Nice.

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

What Price Good Manners...

My brother James and me have recently returned from France.  Our journey home was mostly uneventful apart from one particular campsite where we had the dreadful misfortune to meet Mr and Mrs Insulting.
Let me explain.  Having arrived at this particular site, we were only staying the one night, Monsieur very kindly showed us where to park.  And, clearly having taken account of my delicate skin, he put us in a lovely shady spot under a large tree.  What a nice man!
Now the passports were in their usual place under the camping equipment so, after James had put up the tent, I had to trot down to the office to register properly.  As I got there I noticed that a campervan with English plates had arrived and that the occupants were inside the tiny room.  Naturally, having impeccable manners myself, I waited outside.  When their business was complete the couple emerged and I wished them a hearty 'good afternoon.'  For which I received nothing other than a look of disdain.  I gave them the benefit of the doubt and assumed that they had probably had a difficult journey.
My business completed I emerged from the office to hear Monsieur directing the new arrivals to their spot.
“You see the English car over there on your right, you can park on the far side of—”
“Oh, we don't want to be near the English,” said Mr Insulting.
Monsieur glanced at me and realised I had overheard.  He nodded to me and I began to walk back to the tent.
“You own a campervan,” said Monsieur. “I own a camping site. Let me decide.”
I had to agree with him. What a very nice man!  Back at the tent, I mentioned the incident to James.
A few moments later, when I was settled with my book under our lovely shady tree, I saw the campervan heading our way.  Mr Insulting pulled into the spot next to us.  Now, I can do disdain myself, exceptionally well, when I have to.  And this was one of those occasions, for which only the tent flap flip, delivered with complete and utter disdain will do.  I executed the move perfectly and returned to my book.
As Mr Insulting came round to where we were sat to plug in his electricity cable, James said, “You’ll be all right parked next to us.  We’re not English, we’re from Yorkshire. Just like you are.”
It was then that I looked at their number plate carefully.  
So, Mr and Mrs Insulting from Scarbrough, I hope your manners will have improved by the time you return to the UK.

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Author and friend, Nancy Jardine, makes a welcome return...

... to the blog this week. Hello Nancy and thanks for being here and I believe you have some tips for us about writing using multiple points of view (POV)...

NJ  My first contemporary mystery, Monogamy Twist, was very basic – hero and heroine, with very minor secondary characters supporting the quirky Dickensian-style plot.  My first historical novel, The Beltane Choice, was similar though there were a couple of very strong secondary characters. However, in terms of POV across the novels there were only two each time. By the time I had gone through some gruelling rounds of edits for those two novels, I felt I had largely cracked the writing of different viewpoints.
Just after The Beltane Choice was published, a reviewer asked when the sequel would be published.  I was stunned! I hadn’t considered a sequel, or even a series for that matter.  However, I’d given secondary character Brennus of Garrigill a raw deal in The Beltane Choice.  He then became the focus of Books 2 and 3 of my Celtic Fervour Series since his story is a convoluted and fairly long one.  Across Books 2 and 3, Brennus is joined by two other main characters: fellow-Brigante Ineda; and an Ancient Roman officer named Gaius Livanus Valerius (Ineda’s captor).  Leila is a strong secondary character in Book 4, but I decided three POVs were enough to handle, so her part in the tale is told via the POV of Brennus.
As I wrote Books 2 and 3, I needed to come up with something that saved me from confusing the POVs.
Ø      One simple strategy was to use the common tactic of having one character’s POV last for a complete scene, or a complete chapter.
Ø      A second, and it’s probably not original – I used a different colour of font for each character throughout the typing of the manuscript.
Seeing each chapter in a particular colour also meant that when I minimised the pages to a 10% or 25% view, I could see how the balance of viewpoints was going across the whole story.
From that point forward, my manuscript writing life has been one of COLOUR. 
Agricola’s Bane, Book 4 of the series, is told across five different viewpoints. My Garrigill clan members Nith and Enya are balanced by the main character of General Agricola, Commander of the Roman legions.  Two other Garrigill clan members, Ruoridh and Beathan, play smaller though still main character roles.  I’ve used five different font colours in my manuscript which have hopefully kept me straight regarding the consistency of POV as I created the story.  I’m now eagerly awaiting editor feedback on how those five viewpoints have worked out.  Look out for Book 4 being published soon with Ocelot Press.
Book 5 is on the drawing table and will be the full story of Beathan.  He’ll be joined by other main characters, the number as yet, undecided.  What I can say is that Agricola will re-appear in Book 5, though his role will be less than in Book 4.  Those two will be joined by a mystery Garrigill clan member. Whatever the number of main characters, I’ll be using different font colours to keep my POV straight!
My POV tip is a simple one, but perhaps the readers of this post can suggest other useful techniques?

... about the author Nancy writes contemporary mysteries; historical fiction and time-travel historical adventure.  Her current historical focus is Roman Scotland, an engrossing pre-history era because her research depends highly on keeping abreast of recent archaeological findings.
A member of the Romantic Novelists Association, the Scottish Association of Writers, the Federation of Writers Scotland and the Historical Novel Society, her work has achieved finalist status in UK competitions.
She lives in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, with her husband but life is never quiet or boring since her young grandchildren are her next-door neighbours.

You can follow Nancy on her Blog  her Website  Facebook  Time Travel Page  Twitter  and on  Goodreads   You can find her books Here


Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Please welcome, friend and author, Jane Bwye...

... who is Going It Alone with a new business-like approach.  Thanks for making time in your busy schedule to be here, Jane.  But I have to say I'm intrigued...

JB   Thank you for having me, Angela, and for providing me with food for thought.  You told me that when you got your first book contract, you “very stupidly” thought that was the end of the story.
AW  Hmm, that is so true.
JB   I, too, made that mistake, before feeling guilty for sitting back and savouring the moments instead of trying to show my appreciation to my publishers for investing their time and money in me.
For years I’d dreamed of having a book published.  For years I struggled to write one, learning as I went along. Writing a novel is very different from producing articles and short stories for magazines.  And after 72 rejections, I very nearly gave up.  Then I landed a contract with the Crooked Cats.  I don’t think we can blame ourselves too much for wanting to take a breather.
AW  No, you're probably right.  But, 72 rejections!  I would have given up!
JB   But now is the time to (temporarily) put aside our creative talents and focus on a new, business-like approach to life.  Completely out of our comfort zone.  It’s a whole new direction, but a vital move, if we want to do ourselves justice.
It’s not all that difficult once you decide to commit and learn to take one step at a time.  It’s never too late to learn.  And once you start, you will most likely realise that you have already taken some of those steps.
My latest challenge has been to change direction to non-fiction.
Going It Alone follows the basic structure of a simple business plan, applicable to any type of business, anywhere.  And because I love telling stories, it is illustrated with anecdotes taken from the experiences of my clients.
If we stick together, we authors will never feel alone, and if you read the book you will realise that we have a head-start on most run-of-the-mill businesses because we’re natural dreamers.  I show you how to “dream” in a business-like way at the beginning of the book.
I have been a business start-up mentor for the past fifteen years and I intend to practice what I preach when it comes to price:

Don’t Undersell Yourself!

However, advantage can be gained by making an introductory offer.

You can buy Going It Aone for £$0.99 if you pre-order the book by following this Amazon universal link:  Going It Alone

You are welcome to join in the online launch celebrations on Wednesday 15th August 2018; click Here to say you’re going.

...about that author  Jane Bwye lived for 55 years in Kenya.  She has been an intermittent free-lance journalist for most of her life and has written several books.  Her large family, scattered over three continents, are a good excuse for her to indulge in travelling.  A former teacher, and owner of several small businesses over the years, she works as a business mentor for small business start-ups.

You can follow Jane on her Amazon Author Page and on her  Website

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Please welcome, friend and author, Jo Fenton...

... to the blog this week.
AW  Hello Jo and thanks for being here.  Tell me, what is your current release?
JF   Last week I launched my debut novel, The Brotherhood a psychological thriller based in a religious sect.

AW   What first got you into writing and why?
JF   I’ve had stories in my head for as long as I can remember, but only started work on my novel when I heard about NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in the autumn of 2011. The kids were old enough to not need quite so much attention, and my husband thought it was a good chance for me to write the book he was convinced was lurking somewhere inside me.

AW  You write Contemporary crime novels.  Is it all imagination or do you also undertake research?
JF   A large part of it is imagination. I find it’s less limiting to have an imaginary setting for instance, but there are some things that are rooted in fact, and I like to be accurate. I did a lot of research into cults, miracles and the technical aspects of the murder in The Brotherhood. I dread to think what the police would make of my browser history!

AW  And what about other types of writing?  Have you ever dabbled with short stories, for instance, or other genres?
JF   I have dabbled in a few short stories and flash fiction, but nothing that I felt was worthy of publication. I also like playing with poetry occasionally but just for fun.
I have an idea for a historical crime novel lurking, but there are a few other projects to be done first. It will probably need to wait until I can write full time, as that will require significant amounts of research.

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?
JF  I work from home a lot for my day job in Clinical Research, so I have an office in my house. It’s my working space, so I find it quite easy to concentrate in there. I can write anywhere though, as long as it’s not too obviously moving – trains and cars are rubbish, as I get travel sick. Hotel rooms, libraries and coffee shops are generally good places to write.

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?
JF  I would love to spend an afternoon chatting to Stephen Fry. He’s such an interesting man, and I would happily discuss everything from Abba to Georgette Heyer novels to QI to mental health issues with him.

about the book...When a young woman becomes pregnant in a religious sect, how far will she go to escape the abusive leader and save the people she loves?
The Brotherhood – safe haven or prison?
After her parents’ sudden death, a grieving Melissa falls back on her faith and into the welcoming arms of a religious sect. Captivated by their leader, Dominic, she leaves her old life behind and moves to the countryside to join them.
But life in The Brotherhood is not as safe as it first appeared. When engineer Mark joins The Brotherhood, Melissa finds herself conflicted between her growing feelings for him and her crush on Dominic. With their leader's initial encouragement, Melissa and Mark grow close.
But as her haven becomes a prison, Melissa's newfound happiness is destroyed by Dominic’s jealousy. How can she escape and save the ones she loves?

about the author... Jo grew up in Hertfordshire. She devoured books from an early age, particularly enjoying adventure books, school stories and fantasy. She wanted to be a scientist from aged six after being given a wonderful book titled “Science Can Be Fun”. At eleven, she discovered Agatha Christie and Georgette Heyer and now has an eclectic and much-loved book collection cluttering her home office.
Jo combines an exciting career in Clinical Research with an equally exciting but very different career as a writer of psychological thrillers.
When not working, she runs (very slowly), and chats to lots of people. She lives in Manchester with her husband, two sons, a Corgi and a tankful of tropical fish. She is an active and enthusiastic member of two writing groups and a reading group.

You can follow Jo on Facebook  Twitter  and on her Website

Friday, 27 July 2018

Friend and author, Sue Barnard...

... makes a very welcome return to my blog today.

AW   Hello, Sue and thanks for being here.  
SB   Hello, Angela, and thank you for inviting me.
AW  And you're going to share a favourite scene from your latest novel which is...
SB   Heathcliff (yes, that’s THE Heathcliff) is a Wuthering Heights spin-off novel which suggests what might have happened to him during the three years when he disappears from the original story.  Published by Crooked Cat Books, it is officially released on 30 July 2018, to coincide with the bicentenary of the birth of Emily Brontë.

I’ve chosen the following scene for two reasons. Firstly, it’s one of the very few scenes in Heathcliff which can be read in isolation without giving away too many spoilers.  Secondly, I’m particularly fond of it because it virtually wrote itself.  It was as though the characters were standing behind me having this conversation – all I had to do was write down what they were saying.
The scene takes place on the Ellen May (a sailing lugger) just off the coast of northern France.  The narrator is Heathcliff himself, whilst the other speaker is a Cornish fisherman called Matthew Trelawney.

“French? Was that the language you were talking just now?”
He nodded. “I’ve been doing this trip for quite a few years, and in that time I’ve learned enough to speak to the natives fairly well. I once became quite friendly with a French lady…” His voice trailed off and he stared out to sea.
“How friendly?” I ventured.
“Friendly enough to know that I wanted to marry her,” he said, his voice quiet with emotion.
“May I ask why you didn’t?” I replied, equally quietly.
“She chose to marry someone else.” His voice had an edge which betrayed the pain he obviously still felt. “Someone who could offer her wealth and rank. She clearly valued those things far more than love and honour.”
“I know exactly how you feel. That happened to me too.”
Trelawney looked up, clearly surprised. “When was this?” he asked.
“A few weeks ago, back in Yorkshire. We’ve known each other almost all our lives, and I’d always thought she loved me as much as I loved her. I couldn’t imagine a future without her, and if I’m honest with myself I still can’t. But her brother has always hated me, and the final straw was when I overheard her telling one of the servants – one of the servants, for Heaven’s sake! – that it would degrade her to marry me.”
Trelawney laid a brotherly hand on my arm. “Was that why you came to Liverpool?”
“Yes. I just knew I had to get away. I didn’t care where I went, and boarded the first coach I found. That was where it happened to be going.”
Trelawney sighed. “Your story sounds very similar to mine…”

...about the book  “It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now…”Cathy’s immortal words from Wuthering Heights change Heathcliff’s life.  At just seventeen years of age, heartbroken and penniless, he runs away to face an unknown future.Three years later, he returns – much improved in manners, appearance, and prosperity.But what happened during those years?  How could he have made his fortune, from nothing?  Who might his parents have been?  And what fate turned him into literature’s most famous anti-hero?For almost two centuries, these questions have remained unanswered.  Until now…

You can follow Sue on her  Blog  on Facebook  Twitter  Instagram  and  Goodreads You can get the book  Here