Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Writer and friend, Mary Jayne Baker...

visits my blog this week.  Hi, Mary Jayne, and thanks very much for being here.  The enigmatic and enduring Miss Moonshine is the subject of your post today, I believe.  So, tell us more...

September will see the release of the second anthology of short stories about Miss Moonshine – Christmas at Miss Moonshine’s Emporium – set in the fictional Yorkshire town of Haven Bridge.  All nine contributors are successful romantic novelists from the north of England.
It’s funny to reflect now on Miss Moonshine’s origins, before we realised how important she was going to be in all our lives.  Over one of our regular cake-stuffed lunches, Helena Fairfax suggested we collaborate on an anthology, an idea that was taken up readily by the rest of us (I think some of us may have had wine…).  And so the Authors on the Edge were born – nine novelists from Yorkshire and Lancashire who regularly met up on the “edge” in Hebden Bridge, near the border of our two counties.
Various themes were suggested to link our 10,000-word short stories together in a single volume.  As some of us write contemporary romance while others write historicals, it needed to be something that could span different time periods – I think for a little while we toyed with the idea of an item of clothing that would be passed from owner to owner.  But eventually we settled on the idea of a mysterious shopkeeper, whose timeless shop in a fictionalised version of the town where we met provides happily-ever-afters to everyone who enters.  Provided they deserve them, of course!
The shopkeeper would be named Miss Moonshine, we decided, and would be an otherwordly figure who dressed in outlandish clothes (we originally pictured her as looking a little like Vivienne Westwood!), had sparkling hazel eyes and a shock of white hair, and was devoted to her elderly chihuahua Napoleon.  The act of creating her felt a little magical in itself, seeing how she came to life in all our tales and took on a personality all of her own.  As different as our stories were, Miss Moonshine was always there being just exactly herself, regardless of who was writing for her.  By the time we’d put together the first volume, I think all the contributors felt “Miss M” – as she’s affectionately known by her creators – was someone very real indeed.
In the first anthology, Miss Moonshine’s Emporium of Happy Endings, Miss M sells a variety of items to the people who come through her doors: a fire opal necklace; a music box; a ballgown.  The one thing all have in common is that after receiving them, the owner’s life will never be the same again!
I loved writing my story “The Last Chapter”. In it, Miss Moonshine gives a young friend a cheesy pulp fiction novel, Budgerigars Don’t Talk, which eventually leads her both to the idea that will save her business and the love of her life.  One big fan of this tale was my mum, who had a request for the next story I wrote – more about Miss Moonshine!  And when mums give orders, of course daughters have to do as they’re told…
In my Christmas story, “The Ghost in the Machine”, my journalist heroine delves more into this mysterious shopkeeper and the whispered rumours about what happens to those who enter her shop.  When she dares to cross the threshold of the emporium herself, she comes to find herself in possession of a 1920s-era Woodstock typewriter.  This eventually leads her to a tragic love affair of the past – and to one of her own in the present.  But will she expose Miss Moonshine’s magical meddling in the lives of her customers?
Here, heroine Scarlett meets the enigmatic Miss Moonshine for the first time.

Scarlett tried not to stare, but she couldn’t help it. This had to be the oddest-looking individual she’d ever seen. Certainly the one with the weirdest fashion sense.
Miss Moonshine had a shock of white hair, fluffed beehive-like on top of her head like an elderly Sandy Shaw tribute act. She was dressed in a long, black-fringed dress that would have suited the widowed dowager in an Agatha Christie, complete with string of pearls. And on her feet, a pair of massive Doc Marten boots.
How old was she? If someone had told Scarlett the woman was sixty, she wouldn’t have been surprised. If someone had told her she was nearly a hundred, Scarlett still wouldn’t have been surprised.
‘Miss Moonshine, I take it?’
The old lady glanced up from fussing Napoleon. Her mouth twitched.
‘So you’re here,’ she said softly.
Scarlett blinked. ‘Er, yes. I appear to be.’
There was silence while Miss Moonshine looked her up and down.
‘Look, could we make this quick, dear?’ she said eventually. ‘I’ve got a poker game to get to.’
‘You play poker?’
‘Oh no, I never play.’ Miss Moonshine’s hazel eyes glinted. ‘I win.’
Scarlett regarded her for a moment. ‘Huh. I believe you.’

I’m very excited for Miss Moonshine’s next outing this Christmas, and to find out what magical gifts she has in store for the residents of Haven Bridge!

You can follow Mary Jayne on Amazon Facebook Twitter and on her Website

Thank you Mary Jayne, 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 Jacqui Cooper Helena Fairfax

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Please welcome, friend and author, Carol Warham...

...to the blog today.  Hi Carol, and thanks very much for being here.

CW  Hello Angela.  Thank you so much for inviting me onto the blog for a chat.
AW  You're very welcome. So Carol, secondary characters, as writers we all need them.  But I like some of my secondary characters better than others.  What about you? 
CW  These are the characters I particularly enjoy writing about.  I feel they give me free creative rein and I use it to the full!
These secondary characters have a very important part to play and they should have as much thought and consideration as the main ones.  They should be very much three-dimensional characters, with enough substance to them, that the story could actually be seen through their eyes.
They are vital to the plot and should be well-drawn before you need them in the story.  They are the friends, family, colleagues or even strangers, who help move the story forward.  The reader doesn’t need to know all the details of their lives, but the author should know her/his supporting cast.  Of course, other minor characters will weave in and out of the story, people in shops, restaurants or acquaintances, but these are usually one dimensional and we don’t need to know too much about them.  Without these, the main characters would be living in an unreal, almost isolated world.
Your secondary characters are those which have some definite effect on the story, either good or bad.  Some will motivate the hero or heroine, others may hinder, distract or cause conflict.  They interact with the main characters through dialogue and events.
These characters can often be helpful in revealing details of back story or events which are unfolding.  This may be through actions, or having a friend to discuss things with or sound off ideas.  For example; the heroine may have a close girlfriend who she confides in, giving an opportunity for dialogue while the heroine discusses her problem etc.  This comes over better than a lot of internal thoughts!
Their hopes, fears and actions are often the pivotal points in the plot or in the decisions made by the main character.
Awarded for Resolutions
In my own novel, Resolutions, I found the secondary characters wove the tapestry of the story against which the hero and heroine struggled to make the right decisions.
Emily is Carly’s best friend, or rather she was.  She has her own problems and guilt to live with.  Can they still be friends?
Maggie has known Carly since she was a child and is almost a mother to her.  Can she help Carly make the right decision?
Jim and Abi run the local hotel and have good reason for not welcoming Carly back into their lives.  How will Carly cope with this?
Who is Savannah, the beautiful woman who suddenly turns up and threatens to destroy Ben and Carly’s happiness?
Some of these could have their own story, and who knows, maybe one day they will.
...about the author  Resolutions is Carol’s debut novel and is set, close to where she lives in Yorkshire, in The Last of the Summer Wine country.  She is surrounded by beautiful countryside, ideal for walking which is much appreciated by Sam, the dog.
Writing has been her love since childhood. She started by making small comics for her dolls, progressed to training as a journalist for a short while.  Once the family had grown up Carol settled down to writing and published short stories, poems and holiday articles.
In recent years she has become a judge in the short story section for the HysteriaUK competition and also for the RNA’s romance novel of the year.
She is now busy working on two novels, swapping from one to the other, as inspiration calls. Both have a historical theme, one is set at the time of the Armada, the other includes a certain King who was found under a car park.
...about the book How do you go back to somewhere you believe everyone hates you? Carly Mitchell returns to the small town of Yeardon in Yorkshire almost a year after running
away on her wedding day. Now she wants to try to make amends with Steve, his family, and the townspeople who had prepared a huge party to celebrate her New Year’s Eve wedding.
She intends to stay only for a few days at the Resolution Hotel, owned by Steve’s parents. However, her plans change when Steve’s father is taken ill, and she feels obliged to step in and help with running the hotel. This also means having to deal with Steve’s antagonism since he has never forgiven her for humiliating him.
Another more pleasant complication comes in the form of Ben Thornton, the local doctor, to whom Carly feels an immediate attraction. They enjoy getting to know each other and falling in love, until a famous model turns up in the town, and attempts to monopolise Ben.
Steve attempts to get his revenge on Carly by driving a wedge between her and Ben, and by threatening to reveal what he knows about Ben’s troubled past unless Carly leaves town.
The resolution lies in Carly’s hands as she struggles between wanting to flee from the town again and wanting to stay with the man she has grown to love.

You can follow Carol on Amazon at  Tirgearr Publishing on Facebook  Twitter
and on her Blog

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Come stroll with me...

...through the city of Marseille.  I'm taking you out and above the city today to the basilica of Notre Dame de la Garde...

From the Vieux Port take Quai Rive Neuve and follow it round until you reach rue Fort Notre Dame and take  a left.  This street rises gently from the marina until it reaches a small square with 5 routes out.  Boulevard André Aune is what we're looking for.  But I'm also looking for a location that I can use as a model for some scenes in my 4th Jacques Forêt mystery - Marseille.  As I've been meandering along I've been checking out the small side streets and little cuttings.  As I cross the square looking for bd. André Aune I spot a narrow ruelle that curves round.  I decide to investigate.  It's barely a car width in breadth, the angle of vision from the main road is short because of the curvature, and there's a very useful low arch with a tiny courtyard behind.  It's in permanent shadow because of the tall buildings on either side and it is quiet.  It's perfect and I get some shots - not that these will ever be used on this blog!  These shots are to help my memory as I'm writing.  When the scenes in rue des Licornes play out in the book, I will be seeing Jacques and Didier right here in this side street in my mind.
But, that is not our only goal for today.  Bd. André Aune rises much more steeply and eventually opens out onto a small planted and treed area with steps opposite.  At the top of the steps is Montée de l'Oratoire.  From here you can see the path and steps leading up to Notre Dame de la Garde.  At the top of the steps do remember to stop and turn around - the view across the city is amazing.
Just a fraction of the decoration.  Yes those are replica ships!
Standing on the site of an ancient fort and a much earlier and smaller chapel on a rocky limestone outcrop, this 19th century basilica overlooks the city.  Hence the name, Our Lady of the Guard.  It is almost as though the building is keeping a watchful eye!  Construction of this particular building began in 1852 and took 21 years to complete.  Come inside with me and you'll understand why.
The stunning mosaics are made with materials from Italy and the recent restoration took 7 years to complete.  Apparently, this is the most visited place in Marseille, and, when you look at the décor, that snippet of info becomes understandable.
There's something else to see too.  As I walk around the building, I can see the scars of the battle for the city in 1944.  Yes, there really are bullet holes in the stonework.  There is also a plaque dedicated to Réné Valentin, the leader of a battallion of Tirailleurs (Infantrymen) from Algeria who were tasked with liberating the basilica.  Because of the position the church holds above the city any assualt would have to be clandestine.  It was a local man, Pierre Chaix-Bryan, who alerted the assualt forces to a hidden corridor and staircase that
ran from a house (No 26) on what was then called rue Cherchel (now rue Jules-Moulet) up
to the church.  The battle to take back the church from the occupying forces took place on August 25th, the battle to liberate the city as a whole was finally complete on August 28th.
As I leave the basilica, I'm going to take a slightly different route back.  If you continue on Montée de l'Oratoire you will come to Place Colonel Edon.  This is the spot where a tank crew supporting the assualt on Notre Dame lost their lives.  The tank, the Jeanne d'Arc, is still here and is now surrounded by a small memorial garden and monument.

STOP PRESS #MeettheAuthor :  I will be giving a talk and conducting a writing exercise at Parisot Library (Place de l'Eglise, 82160) on September 28th from 10.30 am.  It would be great to see you there if you would like to join me.

Marseille will is now available for pre-order Here  and you can read more about the city of Marseille Here  Here Here and Here

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

Please welcome friend and author, Marla Skidmore...

...to the blog this week.  Hi Marla, thanks for being here and please tell me all about your interest in history and how it inspires your writing... 

Since I was old enough to be aware of it, the past has fascinated me.  Delving into historical events and the people whose lives were affected by them, is a favourite pastime of mine - it surprised no one when I chose to study History, alongside my first love English Literature, at University, since for me, the two complement each other.  We writers of historical fiction, make history accessible; bring the characters and events of the past to life.  So many readers get their first taste for history from novels written in the past and from present day historical fiction.  I feel, therefore, that we have a special responsibility to respect history, to be true to the events and the people about whom we choose to write, and if we bend facts for dramatic licence to suit our story, we should always be sure to acknowledge having done so in our Author’s Notes.
This leads me to my own research for ‘Renaissance – The Fall and Rise of a King,’ my debut novel about King Richard III – the writing of which was completely unplanned and came about as the result of a challenge.
Anyone with an interest in English History will remember the buzz of interest when King Richard III’s grave was discovered in 2012 beneath a Leicester city car park, and also the fierce debate that raged on for a couple of years, about where he should be reburied – Leicester, York or Westminster.  His final resting place turned out to be Leicester Cathedral – much to the disappointment of many, but what was of paramount importance to most Ricardians, was that finally, England’s last warrior king had a fitting tomb, something denied him for over half a millennium.
In the late summer of 2014, I met with a group of old friends from university, for our usual quarterly get together in York.  Scientific testing had by then confirmed that the re-discovered remains were indeed those of King Richard III.  The myth of the deformed hunchback king with the withered arm had been exploded – most of our group had always been sceptical about this anyway and about the monstrous image of him created by Shakespeare and the Tudor propaganda machine. 
During lunch, the topic of his reburial came up.  The opinion was that as an annointed king, he ought to be reburied in Westminster Abbey or in York Minster – believed to be his preferred choice.  During a quiet moment, I speculated about what Richard’s reaction to the controversy would be – if he were alive – and also the defilement of his reputation.  Another member of the group, a highly respected Medieval Historian – being aware of my love of weaving stories, challenged me to write one about him.  Her words being: “write one about Richard – in blue jeans – bring him into the 21st century.”  The seed was sown – fragments of a story circulated around my mind – but there was so much already written about him – fiction and non-fiction.  How to entice readers into reading my story and avoid a ‘not another book about Richard III!’ reaction?  I knew that a totally new approach was required, so I decided to begin my novel where most books about him ended – with his death on Bosworth Field.  To enable readers to witness the key events in Richard’s life, I decided to put the story into the framework of his own reflections in the Afterlife.  My Richard regains consciousness on the bloody battlefield of Bosworth to find himself in Purgatory, where he embarks on a journey of atonement, accompanied by his celestial mentor, Father Gilbert, a Franciscan monk. Setting my novel in the Afterlife enabled me to make a dead man speak – tell the reader himself what led him to that fateful battle on the 22nd August 1485.
The concept of a soul in Purgatory is not new, Dante Alighieri’s epic poem, ‘The Divine
Comedy’ written in the 14th century, tells of his soul’s journey through Hell, guided by the ancient Roman poet Virgil – I used this as my model. However, I also found myself facing a journey - a whole new and fascinating area of research – of Medieval theology and the mindset of Medieval Society. For the men and women of that time Heaven, Hell, Purgatory and the Garden of Eden were utterly real - this world was an imperfect representation of what was to come – only if you died in a state of grace of course – otherwise Hell or Purgatory were your soul’s destination. I found actual illustrations of Purgatory in the fragments of a medieval book on display at Mount Grace Priory near Northallerton.  One depicts souls suffering in Purgatory and the other shows lost souls lifted towards heaven by the power of prayer.
As the writing of the novel progressed, I knew the question ‘did Richard III murder the princes in the Tower?’ would inevitably raise its head – this led me to the archives of St George’s Chapel, Windsor, where I came across some little-known detail which allowed me to give, what I think to be a plausible answer to that question.
During my research about the life of Richard III, I also became fascinated by the myths surrounding his greatest friend, Francis Viscount Lovell – a man of peace who turned implacable avenger after the Battle of Bosworth – choosing the life of a hunted fugitive rather than swear loyalty to Henry Tudor.  He continually fanned the flames of rebellion against him until his disappearance after the Battle of Stoke Field – the last battle of the Wars of the Roses.
For our summer holiday this year, we stayed close to home, revisited our favourite places in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. In Dublin I found myself standing outside Christchurch Cathedral and recalled that here, on the 24th May 1487, the coronation took place of a young boy who was the figurehead of a Yorkist rebellion of which Francis Lovell was one of the leaders. This boy became known as Lambert Simnel but his real identity to this day is the subject of much debate… and so another journey of research begins for the sequel to ‘Renaissance,’ the working title of which is ‘Renegade.’
...about the author  I grew up in a small medieval city in North Yorkshire where I met and married my soldier husband.  For a number of years, we lived a typical military life – in

various postings around Europe and the UK – until I returned home to study for a degree – I 

emerged with a dual Honours degree in English and History and a Master’s degree in Literature and went on to become a College Lecturer.

Having dabbled in short-story writing and poetry, since university days, I began my first novel – a romantic murder mystery set during the Peninsula Wars - when a serious health issue forced me to take a prolonged career break.  It was put aside when King Richard III’s grave was rediscovered.  ‘Renaissance – The Fall and Rise of a King,’ is the end result.  Promising myself that I would immediately return to my earlier novel once ‘Renaissance,’ was written.  I find myself once again diverted.  I am fascinated by the myths surrounding Richard III’s greatest friend, Francis Viscount Lovell.
When not writing, I can be found enthusiastically grubbing around in my large garden, clambering around ancient ruins and taking long walks with my West Highland Terrier, Stanley, in the North Yorkshire Dales.

You can follow Marla on Amazon Facebook Twitter Goodreads BookViral  and on her Website  which is a work in progress at the moment.