Tuesday, 25 June 2019

I am very pleased to announce...

...that Marseille, Book 4 in my Jacques Forêt series of mystery stories will be published on October 15th...

I'm not running with my usual blog post today as I have something much more exciting to talk and write about.  The fourth Jacques Forêt story will be published on October 15th, this year.  And I cannot begin to tell you how pleased I am about this. Dancing on the ceiling might come close!
Way back in September 2007, when I woke up to snow and first conceived the idea of mystery stories set in the Cévennes, I knew there would be four and I knew what the crime would be in each one.  At that point, whilst I knew the title of the first and third books (Messandrierre and Montbel, respectively), I hadn't a clue about the title for Book 2 and I was convinced that the title for Marseille would be a completely different one!
Here we are, 12 years later, and the story has developed considerably from the original outline that I had set for myself all that time ago. Didier Duclos, a secondary character who is first introduced in Montbel, takes a much greater role in this story and he lets us into one or two secrets of his own.  Richard Laurent Delacroix also features in this story and he's not exactly working for the general good of the community, either.
Jacques, of course, is leading the investigation which takes him out of his home city of Mende and into the vast city of Marseille.  A city that is the second most populous in France and that has its own problems. As with all vast conurbations, there are the wonderful and interesting places that tourists like to visit, and then there are the areas where crime is prevalent, poverty is widespread and criminal gangs can control the streets.  All cities have a dark side, somewhere.
So, does Jacques achieve the conclusion to this investigation that he's hoping for?  Sorry not answering that question, yet!  But, what I will tell you is that as well as some new characters, there are familiar ones too and life in the tiny village of Messandrierre meanders along as it always has done.

Marseille is now available for pre-order Here  and you can read more about the city of Marseille Here and in the coming weeks until publication

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Please welcome, friend and author, Debbie Ioanna...

Debbie in the recording studio
...to the blog today.  Hello Debbie and thanks for taking some time out to be here.

AW  What is your current release?
DI   My latest release was Blind Date, published in August 2018.  It is a comedy romance set in the wonderful Yorkshire town of Halifax.  It follows thirty-year-old Jenny who is single and not ready to mingle.  She is set up on some rather questionable blind dates and put in unimaginable and awkward situations whilst drooling over the hunky eye candy at work who she thinks is completely out of her league.
AW   What first got you into writing and why?
DI   Growing up, I loved reading.  Every Saturday, my mum would take me shopping and we’d end up in Waterstones or WHSmiths where I would always find a new book I wanted.  But the idea of writing my own book seemed like a pipe dream.  Only the Harry Potters and Frodo Baggins got published.  I had no idea about being an Indie author.  ‘What the heck is an indie author???’  Well, I found out in 2016 and a book I had held on to for 10 years was finally released and then two books followed after including radio interviews and book festival appearances.  It is a dream come true to type my name on Amazon and have three books that I wrote available to buy. Sometimes it seems bonkers but if I am ever feeling down I have to remind myself… I have written three books and that is quite an achievement!
AW  You write fiction of a variety of genres.  Is it all imagination or do you also undertake research?
DI   Its mostly imagination or based on personal events.  In particular, Blind Date contains a few (horror) stories of my own!  I research when needed but my imagination can take me anywhere at times.
AW  And what about other types of writing?  Have you ever dabbled with short stories, for instance, or other genres?
DI   Two of my novels actually started as short stories.  My imagination then took over and they advanced in to full on books.  All three of my books are different genres; ‘Abberton House’ is paranormal, ‘The Runaway Girl’ is contemporary fiction and ‘Blind Date’ is romantic comedy.  I also have two websites, one where I post short stories, poems and blogs, and my second one is very new.  I have decided to review all the books I read from now on so my second site is where I publish those.
Debbie's writing companion!
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?
DI    I wish I had a writing shed!  Anywhere that I can sit in silence with no distractions would be a dream!  My current writing location is at my computer in my bedroom however I have an attention seeking cat that has claimed my desk chair… so there is always a mission of firstly evicting her and then keeping her off my lap.  Cats can be stubborn.  But my husband is great when I need to get some work done so the bedroom becomes my office.  Books and paperwork seem to take over every surface and all kinds of notes are stuck to the notice board.
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?
DI   This is a tough question.  I feel like I should pick someone famous but a few years ago I did my family history.  I spent about a year and a lot of money researching and tracking down records.  There are so many unanswered questions from all sides of the family but I would love to meet my Great Great Grandmother, Mary Ellen Horsfield.  I would want to know what happened in the 1890s to make her suddenly end up in London (she was from Halifax), give birth out of wedlock to then marry someone a couple of months later.  Was she disowned by her family?  Did she run away?  Did she elope?  Who was the father of my Great Granddad?  So many questions, I would need more than an afternoon.

...about the book  Thirty year old Jenny has her own house, a good job, friends, a psycho cat and a Mother who is willing to sell her off to the highest bidder. What more could she want from life? Oh yes, a man. In particular, the handsome hunk she works with. The dangerously good looking eye candy makes regular appearances to her office and she must do all in her power not to combust in her seat when he says her name…
Some people were destined to have all the luck, whereas others, like Jenny, were destined to embarrass themselves at every awkward opportunity. After giving up hopes of landing her dream man, Jenny gives in to her best friend’s requests and agrees to go on some blind dates and signs up to a dating app. She discovers some interesting characters whilst having some no-strings fun with her reliable man friend. What’s the worst that could happen?
Follow Jenny’s journey through the Yorkshire town of Halifax filled with disastrous dates and embarrassing sexual encounters in this romantic comedy of modern dating. Will she ever get what she’s looking for? Or is she destined to remain in singledom forever with her crazed cat?

...about the author  I am a Bradford born girl with a huge passion for writing. I cover all genres, I don’t really write to a specific audience. I have written novels, short stories, blogs, poetry and book reviews. Basically, if something comes to mind then I have to write about it.
I have just turned 30 and life is beginning to get very exciting. I am starting a lot of different journeys which I am sure I will find time to write about in one of my very random blogs. As well as writing when I can, I manage to work part time and study part time towards a degree. Not forgetting my most important (and favourite) job of all… raising my beautiful baby daughter.

Warning: This book contains details of embarrassingly awkward sexual encounters and is not for the cringe-hearted.

You can buy Debbie's books on Amazon

You can follow Debbie on her Author Blog her Book Blog  on Facebook  Twitter and on Instagram

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Writer and friend, Jacqui Cooper...

...is visiting my blog today.  Hello Jacquie and thanks for giving up some of your valuable time to be here today...

JC   Hi Angela.
AW  You're a writer of short stories and also a contributor to the anthology Miss Moonshine's Emporium of Happy Endings.  What sort of stories do you regularly write and where can we find you?
JC  I mainly write short stories for women’s magazines including Woman’s Weekly, The People’s Friend, My Weekly and Take A Break in the UK, plus a couple of overseas magazines.  The story subject matters are wide-ranging but cover universal issues that affect women e.g. relationships, motherhood, loss, temptation, etc.  Short ‘twist in the tale’ stories are always popular and humour goes down well too.  The stories have to be tailored to the readership of each of the magazines so if anyone fancies having a go, my number one piece of advice would be to read the magazines and get a feel for what they want.  Word counts and current submission requirements can be found on the excellent Womagwriter’s blog: 
AW  Thanks for the tip.  So tell me, what's it really like being a professional short story writer?
JC   It’s The Best Job Ever.  I work in my pyjamas or in my garden.  Sometimes both.  I can spend hours watching TV, reading a book or staring into space and call it research.  I can legitimately eavesdrop on any conversation.  Some stories take ages to write but some I can’t type fast enough.  Unlike writing a tightly plotted novel, if a short story isn’t going well I can introduce a ghost, a dog, or a murder without worrying about repercussions further down the line.
AW   What first got you into writing and why?
JC  In my day job I often worked with people with mental health issues and I tried to encourage them to use journaling as a way of relieving stress and anxiety.  One day it occurred to me that I was stressed and anxious too!  Soon the stream of consciousness stuff fell by the wayside and I was plotting and planning longer pieces and novels.
AW   The word 'story' implies a fiction.  Is it all imagination or do you also undertake research for your stories?
JC   Considering how many people I have killed over the years, I would like to state categorically that imagination plays a huge part!  Like most writers I often wonder how much trouble I’d be in if someone were to check my browser history.  I’m thinking particularly of the various poisonings…
On a trip to Orkney I had the pleasure of visiting the chapel built by the Italian POW’s who were held there during the war.  Seeing the chapel and the beautiful setting got me thinking about how very different those men’s experience of a POW camp would be from, say, prisoners building the railway in Burma and an idea emerged for a story.  Last year I wrote a story about the suffragettes and I really enjoyed the research.  I love that I get to research a wide variety of subjects without having to know my subject inside out the way a novelist does.
AW  Have you never been tempted to write that novel that they say is in all of us?
JC   My first attempts at writing for publication were novels.  I even finished one or two but usually I got bored with the story long before the end and wanted to run with my next ‘brilliant idea’ instead.  I don’t have that problem with short stories.  I can be writing about evil dolls, a contemporary romance and a historical all at the same time.
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?
JC   I write in a corner of my bedroom.  Now, with my kids grown up and gone, I suppose I
could claim a room as an office but I’m a creature of habit and find it very difficult to write
anywhere new.  Writing in my bedroom has a hidden advantage.  At any time I can retire to bed, snuggle under the duvet with my wireless keyboard and as I type, the words magically appear on the screen across the room.  More IT literate people may take that in their stride but to me it smacks of witchcraft.
AW  Finally, what would your eight-year old self think of, and say about, you today?
JC   My eight year old self always had her nose in a book so she would be delighted to learn that despite everything she was told, writing stories is actually a proper job. She has starred in many of my tales, including the first story I ever sold to Woman’s Weekly.  She would, however, be very disappointed by the lack of dragons in my stories.

You can find The Miss Moonshine anthology here 

Thank you Jacqui, and another fellow Author on the Edge will be visiting the blog next month, so watch this space...

Kate Field  Melinda Hammond  My Own Post  Helen Pollard

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Jottings from the Journals...Natzwiller

I read a lot when I'm in France, as I don't have much opportunity to read when I'm at home. 
In addition, as a member of my local Book Club, I'm reading books chosen principally by others.  So, to be able to choose all of my reading material for myself is a guilty pleasure that I relish greatly.  Until I was searching through my journals the other day, I hadn't quite realised to what extent my reading had driven my choices of locations when in France…

Tuesday, 19th

Camped at Saverne.  Large site and busy but have found a great spot by the perimeter overlooking an equestrian school.  I have a view of beautiful horses and the Vosges Mountains in the distance…

…To Natzwiller today and the struthof and before I left this morning I knew it would be a difficult place to visit.  Last year I read Sarah Helm's 'A Life in Secrets' (The Story of Vera Atkins and the lost Agents of SOE).  It was a difficult and harrowing read at times, but fascinating and a testament to one individual's choice to never give-up.
Vera Atkins (1908 - 2000) was an intelligence officer in the French section (F Section) of the SOE from 1941 to the end of the war.  During her time in SOE she recruited and prepared agents to work in occupied France alongside the Maquis and whilst they were active she was a key contact point back home.  Following the liberation of France and the allied victory she began working for MI6 in 1946 and was stationed in Germany.  She began the second phase of her life's work - tracing the 118 missing and presumed dead F Section agents.  She found 117.
SOE Agents Andrée Borrel, Vera Leigh, Sonia Olschanezky, and Diana Rowden were brought here to Natzwiller from Karlsruhe and imprisoned in the crematorium barracks.  On June 6th, 1944, on the pretext of vaccinating the women against typhus to enable them to be healthy to work in the sturthof, they were injected with a poison and, although one of them was still barely alive, they were placed in the crematorium oven.
The original work camp and crematorium is now a museum and monument to all those, SOE or not, who gave their lives for freedom.  There is a special room dedicated to the 4
From Top left A Borrel, V Leigh,
S Olschanesky, D Rowden
women from Section F who died here.  It is unbelievably shocking to understand the privations and the treatment the prisoners endured.  As I make my way back to the visitor's centre I encounter a coach-load of foreign teenagers, papers in their hands racing around trying to find answers to the questions their teachers have set them.  Their conduct is such that I have to wonder if they realsie they are actually visiting a graveyard and a place of remembrance.
In the visitor's centre I'm greeted by a museum official who picks me out as English and decides to let me know what there is to see.  In amongst all of this he announces that there is an original working gas oven on site.  The way he conveys this fact stops me short: as though he is announcing the first prize in a raffle.  I'm appalled and it clearly shows in my face as he suddenly pauses and changes tack. I thank him and walk away