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Welcome to my author blog. I post about my writing, things I enjoy such as photography and life in general. Feel free to look around, comment and get involved. I love to hear from you and especially new visitors. Your visit is appreciated.

Maggie Tideswell: my Guest Author writes Paranormal Romance

Maggie Tideswell

Maggie Tideswell is my Guest Author this week

I like to mix it up a bit and not always stick to authors of crime.

So please welcome Maggie Tideswell – author of Paranormal Romance.

To begin here is some information about her and her writing:

Maggie lives in Johannesburg, South Africa with hubby Gareth. Over the years she’s worked in everything from nursing to catering, and then she started writing love stories. With three kids, a girl and two boys, and eleven cats at that time, life could become quite interesting.

The paranormal, things that happen for which there are no logical explanations and ghosts, are of particular interest to Maggie. What events in a person’s life would prevent that person from ‘resting’ after death? The ‘Old Religion’ is another special interest.

And love, of course. Why do people fall in love? What keeps them together for a lifetime when so many relationships fail?

Roxanne’s Ghost Saga, a new mystery series from internationally acclaimed author Maggie Tideswell, is set against the stunningly beautiful backdrop of modern-day South Africa. It is a compelling ghost story of identical twin sisters’ love for the same man, and the magical connection the women share.

And the theme?  Nothing is what it seems.

Here, we move into the realms of the mists of time that could either reveal or conceal.

Goodbye My Love

Book 1, Goodbye, My Love, sets the scene. It introduces country vet, Ben, his four-year-old autistic daughter and the would-be nanny, Jessica James. Jess’ interview with Ben for the nanny position takes place on Friday the 13th. An attraction between the two is immediate, which by all accounts isn’t entirely normal.

Ben’s three oddball sisters-in-law descend on him for the anniversary of his wife Roxanne’s death. They try to convince Ben that Roxanne isn’t dead, more than likely to put an end to whatever might develop between Ben and Jessica. But Ben knows that no one could have survived what led to Roxanne’s death.

His daughter, diagnosed as autistic, only sometimes does she display the symptoms that led to her diagnosis. Autism is not a disease, it’s a condition. A condition with symptoms that can’t be turned on and off at will. So…what is the child really suffering from?

Ben’s wife’s twin sister, Millicent, is accompanied by an over-board caricature of a psychic to Ben’s home in order to help them find Roxanne. Of course, Millicent isn’t happy to find Jess already in Ben’s house—trouble is imminent. But only as far as Ben’s ancient housekeeper, will allow her to. What does the housekeeper know that will keep Millicent’s ruffled feathers under control?

More importantly…

Where is Roxanne?

Here’s a taster:

Does anyone live here?

The house looked deserted, kind of spooky. Jess couldn’t see any other houses nearby. Sally had not been kidding—this was a rather isolated place.

Dilapidated outbuildings behind the sprawling house looked as unused as the house itself. Some sort of creeper covered most of the buildings except the house—it looked far too fragile to bear the added weight.

There were what looked like turrets on each end of the house, and a domed one in between. That might be a skylight. Jess worried her bottom lip. What century was this place built?

Lightning played over the majestic mountains behind the house, silhouetting it against the darkening sky, but down here in the valley, the late sun cast long shadows over the overgrown garden.

It all fit so well with Friday the thirteenth, because this was creepy. What had she been thinking? She should have postponed the interview until Monday. One weekend surely wouldn’t have made that much of a difference.

Jess studied the map on her tablet, which she held propped up against the steering wheel. This could be the right place, but she had thought that about both the previous two places, and neither had turned out to be Weltevreden. Neither had been as eerie as this place, either.

No, this couldn’t be it. Tapping her finger against the edge of the tablet, she studied the house again. This whole thing smacked of a Friday the thirteenth Sally-prank.

Sally, her bestie since high school, ran a very successful employment agency. The professional image notwithstanding, she still loved pranks of any kind—she would never outgrow them.

Her eyes had lit up that morning when Jess sat in front of her desk, mugs of coffee steaming on the polished wood between them. The platter of doughnuts had been for Jess’ benefit. Sally and her perpetual dieting.

“Something different,” Sally mused, tapping her pen against her front teeth, then pressed a button on her laptop, and reached for the sheet of paper the printer spewed out. “This might be just the thing. It came in just now.” She’d tossed her platinum curls over her shoulder, grinning at Jess.

Another thing Sally would never outgrow, her Barbie-doll looks.

“It has my name on it, then.” Jess leaned her forearms on Sally’s desk. “Tell me, tell me, tell me.” She grinned back, barely able to contain her excitement. “Does it involve a man?”

Neither Sally nor Jess had found their Mr. Full Potential yet, although both had been ready for wedded bliss, the kids and the house in the suburbs thing, a long time ago.

“As a matter of fact it does, but he doesn’t seem to be in the market. It says here that a nanny is required for a four-year-old autistic girl. Dr. Arnold specifically requested that only older women be put forward for the position.”

“How old-fashioned. Where is this job?”

“In the Wellington area.” Sally frowned at the monitor.

“There you go. He won’t find anybody qualified to work that far from Cape Town. It is his child, I presume?”

“It is, but do you seriously want to give this a go?” Sally looked worried as only she could. It went with the Barbie look.  “I’m intrigued. What kind of doctor is he?”

“A veterinary surgeon. And a widower, it says here. That is all the information I have for you, I’m afraid.” Sally sat back in her chair. “I shouldn’t disregard so specific an instruction, Jess, but just this once, I’ll make an exception. Then it’s up to you to change his mind for him. It’ll be in his own best interest in the end.” She passed an information sheet across the desk. “I’ll tell Dr. Arnold to expect you at four. I’d pack an overnight bag if I were you. Call me, okay?”

Now, sitting in front of the house that might or might not belong to Dr. Ben Arnold, Jess didn’t feel all that confident anymore. And it didn’t really sound like a prank, unless Sally had kept some information to herself.

There was only one way to find out, and that was to knock on the door and ask.

If there was anybody in the house to ask.

Switching the engine off, she consulted the rear-view mirror to apply some color to her lips and pat her shoulder length bob into place. She took a moment to admire the rich auburn color in the late afternoon sunshine and sighed.

I don’t know about this. It was a long way from Cape Town.

What did people do around here for fun?

Trying her best to ignore the goose bumps on her forearms, she opened the car door and stepped out. Her heels sank into the gravel, her shadow stretching all the way back to the gate.

Only when she turned toward the house did she see the man sitting on the top step in the shadows, his shoulder against the railing, one knee pulled up with his arm resting on top of it. He wasn’t wearing a shirt, and it looked as if his feet were bare, too.

Was he there a moment ago? Why didn’t I see him?

Smoothing her palms down her red pencil skirt, she started toward the house and the man on the steps. If he wasn’t Dr. Arnold, maybe he could give her directions.

Taking a deep breath, Jess reminded herself that she wasn’t superstitious about this Friday the thirteenth nonsense. People liked to scare themselves with the silliest things. What was supposed to happen on this day? It was a day like any other.

That certainly looked like a real man on the steps. He wasn’t going to bite her. Today being a Friday and the thirteenth meant nothing, but now that she’d thought of it, the idea would stick with her like the taste of garlic.

Leaving the car door open for a quick escape should she need it, she’d gone no more than a few steps when she heard something other than the crunch of her shoes on the gravel. It sounded suspiciously like a dog whining.

She slowly turned her head, curling her fingers into the fabric of her skirt. It couldn’t be a dog. She hadn’t seen any dogs when she drove through the gate.

I don’t do dogs!

Her breath hitched in her throat when she saw them. They were right next to her car, beside the door she’d deliberately left open, a whole pack of them. Their lips curled away from their teeth, their tongues lolling out the sides of their mouths, dripping saliva onto the gravel. Yellowish eyes watched every move she made.

Where did they come from?

How many were there?

They cut her off from the safety of the Fiesta!

Now she had only one way to go—into that house. Why hadn’t that man called them off? Why wasn’t he helping her?

Slowly, making no sudden moves, she took another step toward the porch. The dogs followed her. Her heart hammered against her ribs. Another couple of quick steps toward the house. The dogs did the same. She broke into a trot, her scream shattered the still of the afternoon.

Missing the first step, she stumbled, recovered her balance, and took the rest of the stairs two at a time. The dogs were on her heels, whining and yelping, their breaths hot on the backs of her legs.

http://buff.ly/2rDx2w3

Thanks so much for being my guest this week Maggie. I wish you much success.

You can find out about Maggie and her books here:

http://tinyurl.com/oj9slgkhttp://

http://tinyurl.com/n2ko8u4

http://maggietideswell.blogspot.co.za/http://

My Golden Age story Cue Murder is FREE to read in A Stab in the Dark: Cons, Dames and G-Men

Lupe Velez

Lupe Velez

It started like any other day. The early morning studio call came far too early, as it always did, and as Maxwell Murphy walked across the lot to Stage 58 in the cool crisp Hollywood air, the heat of the sun still to reach his skin, he silently rehearsed the lines he’d learned the night before. He wasn’t the first to arrive, the grips had been there for an hour already and so had many others who worked on the technical side of movie making. Sleepy actors – those needed for the first takes, the effects of their various narcotics – barbiturates or booze, still clouding their eyes and their brains, wandered in and made straight for the coffee and smokes.

But it wasn’t like any other day. Maxwell knew there would never be a day like any other day ever again, as he recalled what changed an ordinary days filming into an unforgettable day; a day when part of him died…

A Stab in the Dark: Cons, Dames and G-Men FREE to read

*****

It’s always exciting to be asked to take part in an Anthology 

I love reading and writing short stories and any excuse to pen one, I am there.

And, if it has anything remotely to do with Crime, well, try to stop me.

I must say writing a crime story this time has proved a  bit of a challenge as it had to be set in the 1930/1940’s with a nod to the Golden Age of Detection; an era I love reading about but have never tried to write….until now.

The anthology is the brain child of author Adam Mitchell and features the short stories of 7  authors.

Image may contain: text

It will also be FREE to readers as from today on Smashwords:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/725443

also available elsewhere including Amazon

http://amzn.to/2s7UqRZ

http://a.co/afLi4Sx

http://amzn.eu/0vwtRri

and Kobo:

https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/con-s-dames-and-g-men-anthology-2017

 

Barnaby Rogers PI and the Case of the Singing Canary: Cue Murder

Hollwoodland

Hollywoodland

Adam Mitchell’s anthology is called ‘A Stab in the Dark: Cons, Dames and G Men.’

I’ve called my story ‘Cue Murder.’

 I have set it in the late 1930’s in Hollywood – anyone who knows me cannot have failed to know that I love that era…the movies, the fashions and the music for starters.

Hollywood Boulevard 1930's

Hollywood Boulevard 1930’s

 Researching the dialogue, the street names – some of which have changed with time, and the restaurants and bars which were there during that era, has been sheer heaven, and researching the Movie studios and the lives of the stars has been so exciting.

Greenblatt’s Deli is somewhere I’ve spent many happy times enjoying their food when I’ve been in Hollywood, and it was there in the 1930’s and features in my story too.

Greenblatt's Deli in the 1930's. Unkown Copyright.

Greenblatt’s Deli in the 1930’s.

This has been such an enjoyable experience.

My story is about a young movie star called Allis Blondell who is found dead in her bungalow on the lot of the movie in which she is co-starring with Maxwell Murphy, who plays Barnaby Rogers, PI.

The movie is called Barnaby Rogers PI: The Case of the Singing Canary.

Some years ago when researching family history (on my husband’s side) I’d touched on Hollywood in the 1930’s when looking into the life of an aunt of his, the actress Elizabeth Risdon.

Elizabeth Risdon 1918

Elizabeth Risdon 1918

Elizabeth Risdon

Elizabeth Risdon

She was born in England in 1887 and was a star of the stage before heading for the movies in America.

A Broadway actress she ventured into the Silent movies.

She starred in 1913 in Maria Marten, the Mystery of the Red Barn, and was one of the few Silent Era actresses who successfully made the move into ‘talkies,’ which many stars failed to do.

I  can’t help thinking about the movie ‘Singing in the Rain,’ and the story of the silent movie actress in that – fiction but reflecting what happened during the exciting days of ‘talkies.’.

Elizabeth Risdon had over 140 movies under her belt by the time she died in Santa Monica in 1958.

Some of the other movies she starred in – for those who are curious:

1939 – The Adventures of Huckelberry Finn (Widow Douglas) with Mickey Rooney.

Elizabeth Risdon in Huckleberry Finn 1939 with Mickey Rooney.

1939 – The Girl from Mexico (and the Mexican Spitfire series) (Aunt Della Lindsay) with Lupe Velez.

1938 – Mad About the Music, a musical, (Annette Fusenot) with Deanna Durbin.

1942 – Reap the Wild Wind (Mrs Claiborne) with John Wayne.

1952 – Scaramouche (Isabella de Valmorin) with Stewart Granger.

Elizabeth Risdon 1941

Elizabeth Risdon 1941

With all this research, used mainly for Family History purposes, I had dipped my toe into the life and times of movie stars of the era and one in particular,

Lupe Velez, who was known as The Mexican Spitfire,

The Mexican Spitfire

The Mexican Spitfire

and with whom my husband’s aunt appeared many times in her movies.

Lupe Velez has inspired my story, ‘Cue Murder,’ because of the manner in which she died,

but actually my story about Allis Blondell is nothing like hers.

I won’t give any more away – you will have to read it.

If you download a copy do leave your thoughts on Smashwords, Kobo, Amazon and the other places this anthology is available, so we can have some feedback, and do please, let me know here.

We all love to know we are not working in vain.

If you ever get chance to watch any of the movies I mentioned do let me know what you think of them, and do look out for Elizabeth Risdon

Lupe Velez

Lupe Velez

 I hope you enjoyed the extract of Cue Murder and that it inspires you to want to read more of my story and the others included in A Stab in the Dark: Cons Dames and G Men.

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/725443

If this has interested you inmy writing, you can find more of my work on my Amazon Author Page:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00I3GJ2Y8

and on

GoodReads Page: https://www.goodreads.com/JaneRisdon

I’m on Twitter:  https://twitter.com/Jane_Risdon  

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JaneRisdon2

Authors included in this anthology are:

100 Miles to Murder – Matthew L. Schoonover

Cue Murder – Jane Risdon

Dark at the Top of the Stairs – Elizabeth Noreen Newton

Sorry Vivian – Neal Skye

The Mickey – Paul Newton

Well I Die Tomorrow – Adam C. Mitchell

Deadly Steps – Stacey Margaret Allan

 

All photos are in the public domain apart from the covers for A Stab in the Dark.

Coming November 2017

Only One Woman

published by Accent Press

and written by me and my life-long friend Christina Jones.

If you dig music, fashion and the late 1960s and can recall the Moon landings, the assassination of  Robert Kennedy, and more, this is the book for you.

 

Vegas or Moscow: FREE to read short story published in The Writers Newsletter June 2017

VEGAS OR MOSCOW?

Another FREE to read short story

written by Jane Risdon

Published in The Writers Newsletter June 2017 issue.

 The music business in Los Angeles is running along smoothly with the wise-guys from Vegas controlling it – and one record label in particular – until the Russians arrive and put a spanner in the works.

Click the link to read FREE.

http://thewritersnewsletter.com/story-time-june/

And if you enjoyed this story, check out my FREE to read story in the May edition and I have an article in there too.

http://www.thewritersnewsletter.com/

Let me know what you think. Leave a comment on the Newsletter and here if you enjoyed them.

Thanks so much. Jane xx

Hardwick Hall: Part Two of my 2016 Jolly with additional photos

               Harwick Hall – part two.

At the end of 2016 I participated in several ‘jollies’ to some of the most amazing houses and beauty spots in England, and I’ve shared my experiences, as I often do, with visitors here.

If you are new here and think you might enjoy reading about and seeing photos of some of the wonderful places around England I’ve visited since I started this blog over 5 years ago, do take some time to go to Menu/blog, then scroll down, and you’ll find plenty to keep you occupied on a rainy day.

You’ll also find posts about my writing and interviews with my Guest Authors, which I feature from time to time. Feel free to nose around.  

Bess Hardwick was over sixty when she started building the house which survived virtually unchanged for more than four centuries.

She had an army of builders – men and women – working on the building. Masons, wallers, paviours, carpenters, lathmakers, sawyers, and slaters, and plasterers, plumbers, glaziers – she purchased a glazing company and made her own glass, and eventually supplied glass for many other important houses -smiths, painters, mat-makers and embroiderers – do check out the tapestries. Awesome.           

Materials used in the house include sandstone, limestone and lead, glass, alabaster, timber and Derbyshire blackstone, and were all locally sourced.

 

Bess owned many of the coal mines and quarries surrounding Hardwick, and men from her mines provided some of the labour.

There are still stonemasons working at Hardwick today, using stone from the park that yielded ashlar blocks used for the house for over 400 years.

Great Hall Ground Floor

The ceilings are so beautiful, and the workmanship amazing. I got a crick in my neck looking up for so long.  

Three craftsmen in particular – plasterer Abraham Smith, stone carver, Thomas Accres and painter John Ballechouse – were responsible for much of the interior decoration.

The Hardwick household was supplied with milk, cheese, butter and cream from the estate diary, fish came from the stewponds, meat from the cattle grown fat on the estate land and slaughtered and butchered in the Stableyard.

There were deer in the park for sport and for food, and there was a supply of fruit from the orchards.  

 

Long Gallery Second Floor

There were hen houses, with fowl, producing eggs and meat for the kitchen. sheep grazed in the orchards and their fleeces used to make garments and yarn, and there was honey from their bees and beeswax too for the hundreds of candles the house used.

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you get chance to visit Hardwick Hall, do go. I shall post part three as soon as I can get the photos organised.

It is a fascinating house, the history is gripping and Bess of Hardwick was a woman way before her time.

Part one of this series can be found here: http://wp.me/p2dg55-2YW

There is mobility parking in the main car park. A buggy service is available. Adapted toilets are in the Stableyard and Park Centre. There is wheelchair access to the ground floor hall and Lady Spencer’s walk. Stairs to 2nd and 3rd floors, with resting benches and chairs. Be aware that there is deep water and height drops around the estate. The Hall is open from 13th Feb until 30th Oct, 11am to 5pm, Weds to Sun. The park closes at dusk if earlier.

Telephone: 01246 850430            Email: hardwick@nationaltrust.org.uk

If this has interested you do please explore some of my other ‘jollies,’ to gardens, villages, ruins, cathedrals, churches and great houses.

As ever do let me know if you have enjoyed this ‘jolly.’ Your comments are always most welcome.

All photographs (c) Jane Risdon 2017 All Rights Reserved.

Bobby Underwood: Multi-genre Author is my Guest – tipping his hat to Pulp Fiction and The Golden Age

Bobby Underwood

Multi-genre author Bobby Underwood is my Guest today. I’m so pleased to feature him. I love his writing.

This is what he has to say about himself – my interview with him begins further down.

Like Robert Ludlum and Raymond Chandler, things didn’t line up for me until my forties, when I began seriously pursuing writing. I have been prolific since embarking on my writing career, steadfast in my belief that a story told well, in any genre, will find a home in the heart of most readers. Because of that belief, I write in many genres, including modern day Mystery and Crime, Romance, Westerns, Science Fiction, and Pulp suspense homages set in the 1940s. My style, and the type of stories I tell, harken back to writers of old. I bring something ethereal to my more romantic pieces, something nostalgic to my stories set in the past, something grittier yet hopeful to my present-day crime and mystery stories, something poignant and human to my stories of science fiction, and finally, something  almost tangibly sensual to a series I write which is set in a near-term dystopian Earth.

 

When I write, it is always my voice readers hear, based on my life experience and observations. But the authors who touched me growing up can be heard in the echoes of my voice, and their literary influence seen lingering in the shadowed archways and darkened corridors at the edges of my pages. I have always attempted to write the kind of stories I would like to read. My hope is that each reader will be touched by something within the pages of my books, while at the same time being entertained. If they are, then I have been able to share a part of my soul with them, creating a connection between author and reader which allows us to know each other a bit better. In the end, that’s really all a writer can ask. 

I found this really interesting, thanks Bobby.

Right now down to business with my interview:

You write in more than one genre, how did this transpire? Did you consciously decide to do this or did it just happen?

That’s a good question. Like Chandler and Ludlum, circumstances didn’t afford me the opportunity to begin my career as a writer until my 40s, and by then I had a wealth of different stories I wanted to tell. Naturally, not all of them fell within the same genre, so I write in many different genres. I’ve always believed that if a story is well-told, no matter whether it falls within their preferred genre or not, readers will find a home for it in their heart. Ed McBain always said that when he sat down to write in a different genre, it was as though a completely different writer took over. I feel the same, and have no difficulty slipping into a different style, mood, cadence, to fit whatever story with which I’m currently in love (a Ray Bradbury reference).

Which is your favourite genre, if you have one and why?

I would have to say mystery, if pinned down, because it really is in everything I write. The Seth Halliday series and the Matt Ransom series most certainly contain mystery elements, but even the Westerns I write have some unknown factor, some mystery that is revealed at some point. In romantic fantasies, such as Beyond Heaven’s Reach, Joy Island, Surfer Girl and City of Angels, there is an element of mystery as to what is actually happening, and what is going to happen once that mystery revealed.

You seemed to be an avid reader of Robert Ludlum – me too – and the ‘Pulp’ fiction of the Golden Era – which I grew up reading – and I think your writing reflects this, having enjoyed several of your books. Do you have a favourite writer or writers, and if so why? I loved Mickey Spillane and Raymond Chandler when I was growing up. Have your read them?

Yes, I love the great pulp writers. Spillane in fact, never stopped writing pulp, something a lot of folks don’t get. Chandler elevated an entire genre, turning pulp into art in some cases. So many great writers began in the pulps. Woolrich, Gardner, Cain, Hammett and Chandler, all began in the pulps, and some of their best work can be found there. Pulp is not always mystery however, so I can’t neglect to mention Jack Williamson, a legend in Science Fiction, who was one of the few to bridge the gap between the pulp era and the more serious Science Fiction which came later. No one wrote with greater movement within their narratives than Woolrich and Williamson.

Who is the writer you feel has influenced you the most and why?

Wow, there are so many. All of the above names, plus John D. MacDonald, Tony Hillerman, Ross Macdonald, the great Robert Nathan, whose lovely stories of romantic fantasy I still find enthralling, Earl Derr Biggers, M.M. Kaye, and Donald Hamilton, just to name a few.

Did you read any adventures when growing up written by authors such as Robert Louis Stevenson, Arthur Ransome, Enid Blyton, and even Daphne Du Maurier, for example? I’d love to know which books really excited you enough to want to write. So many writers name these are being incredibly influential.

I actually read more mysteries than adventure stories. I absolutely adored those mysteries for young adults written by Phyllis A. Whitney, remembered more today for her soft-gothic romance novels for adults. But she wrote wonderful books of mystery for young adults, teenagers and almost-teenagers. There was a mystery, but always little life lessons, something wonderful a child or young adult could take with them in their heart once the final page was turned. I hadn’t thought about it until you asked, but I would have to say that Phyllis A. Whitney mysteries, and the ethereal romantic fantasies of Robert Nathan, were definitely the most influential to me as a young person. Later, as an adult, John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee series, Donald Hamilton’s Matt Helm series, and Ross Macdonald’s Lew Archer series had a great influence on me.

Goodness me Matt Helm, reminds me of Dean Martin in the movie role.

Have you always wanted to write? Did you write as a child?

Yes, as long as I can remember. Life just didn’t afford me the opportunity until later, so I’m making the most of it.

What are your ambitions if any, as an author?

To be read, to have people enjoy my stories, to have people be touched and entertained by the stories I write. And to be respected by readers and other writers. Fame and fortune, that’s all bunk, and mostly luck. Poe and Emily Dickenson prove that. In our day of the inconsequential being glorified, that’s even truer. Yes, some of the worse stuff out there is self-published books, and it’s ridiculous not to acknowledge that, but there are a lot of big publishing house clunkers too. Some of them are bestsellers! Some of the best stuff being written today is coming from writers working independent of the big publishing houses. The new market has left the large publishing houses scrambling, touting the next “big” thing, in order to survive. I don’t let it distract me from the really good stuff being written.

Have you submitted to publishing houses or agents at all or are you content to self-publish? And if so, why?

I seriously considered it, but after looking at my options, and a very changed landscape in publishing, I chose to go the independent route. I probably could have got on at some point with a smaller print publishing house, but they can only print so many books per year, and I’m far too prolific for that. I am not a cookie-cutter writer, cranking out paint by the numbers best seller material. Nor do I have any pretensions in my writing style(s) that big publishing houses love. My work harkens back to those authors of old that I grew up reading. By choosing to publish independently from the big guys, I can tell the stories I want to tell, being fulfilled creatively. Bradbury said you have to be in love with a story, and I always am. Being independent also allows me to keep my prices in line with the big publishing houses. I would rather be read than rich, and respected by a somewhat smaller but loyal readership, than lauded unduly for something I wasn’t proud to point to as my legacy.

You are incredibly prolific. I am blown away at the number of books you’ve written. Where do you get your ideas? Do they pop into your head or are there outside forces at work, stimulating your imagination? What would typically inspire you?

I have to say that classic films from the 1930s and ‘40s have been a tremendous influence in my work, at least in the type of stories I want to tell. Whatever I write, I try to capture a feeling, an emotion, and sustain that emotion throughout the entire narrative. It’s the same way a director attempts to sustain a mood and ambiance throughout a classic film. Ideas can come from anywhere, but for me, it’s always the overall feeling that’s important.

Do you write every day? For how long?

Like Anne Rice, I write when I feel like it. She said that someone telling her she had to write so many words every day, was one of the worst pieces of advice she ever received. That and this notion that your first draft would always be terrible and need tons of revisions. Asimov said the same thing about this terrible notion. He finally realized that Heinlen, who had told him to get it right the first time, was correct. Asimov wasn’t saying there was anything wrong with revisions if they were needed, but that there also was nothing wrong with getting your story right from the get-go.

I write most of the time, but if I don’t feel like it, I’ll take a short break, until I’m ready to write a story. When I do write, I always try to make sure the chapter I just wrote is as good as I’m likely to get it before moving on. There have been times when I’ll write the ending to a story, or a lovely scene I want to include that’s somewhere in the middle of the narrative, and then work up to it. But I have no set number of hours, or pages, I must meet. Each writer is different, and that rigidity does not work for me at all.

Do you have a routine, a ritual, for writing? Where do you write?

I always write at my desk. It’s how I’ve always written, my routine. I don’t really have any other rituals or routines, though I do tend to have Henry Mancini’s music playing a lot when I’m working. He always puts me in a mood to write. I think that the opening to a story is the most important for me. Once I have that, I’m off to the races, as the saying goes.

Do you write long hand or on a typewriter or computer?

On my Mac, but in my youth, I wrote longhand — computers hadn’t been invented!

Are you a plotter with lots of research, notes and plans – even spreadsheets – or are you like me – sitting in front of a computer screen hoping something comes, though I often have the title and a rough idea of what the story will be, I never know the ending?

I would say that almost everything is in my head, including the plot. Often, because I’ve been fairly prolific, as you noted — though I’ve deliberately slowed my pace this year, for a breather — there are several stories going on at once up there. I do jot down a few notes, usually just some phrases, perhaps some snappy dialog, or the setting for a scene. But it’s only sketchy stuff to remind me, so that I can refer back to it later — in case it’s a while before I get to that particular story. Mostly I keep every story in my head — no doubt safer for the general public at large!

I’m glad I am not alone in having several things bubbling away at the same time.

Have you ever woken in the night with a story running around in your head and had to get up to start writing it? Which story did this happen with?

I honestly can’t say that I have. I’ve always got stories going on up there, 24/7, but if I get up to write at night, which is rare — that’s my reading time — it’s usually only because I can’t sleep, and no longer feel like reading.

Do you forget meals and drinks when writing or do you have a favourite snack and beverage on hand? Tea get me through with supplies of liquorice when I allow myself.

No, if I get hungry, I’ll stop and take a break. I actually don’t like snacking while I’m working, so I wait until I do take a break. I do snack when I’m just mucking around on the computer, but if I’m writing a story, I don’t. Not sure why, I think it’s just because I’m focused on the story.

Do you receive feed-back from your readers and are you active in communicating with fans?

I try to be interactive when I can. Generally feedback is great to get, so it’s usually a big plus. Some time back, I had someone phone me from out of the blue. An older woman, very nice, who was in an assisted living home. Her son had bought The Wild Country and Beyond Heaven’s Reach, and brought them to her to read. When she saw that I lived in her town, she took the time to look up our number, just so she could tell me how wonderful the books had been, and how much she enjoyed them. That kind of thing doesn’t happen often, so it was really special.

Do you use Social Media for publicity? How do you find this – beneficial for the amount of time spent, or a necessary evil which does/doesn’t reap sufficient benefit in relation to effort and time spent and sales garnered?

I use my Facebook author page, and sometimes I’ll boost a post about a promotion, but mostly I use Goodreads. I’m on there a lot anyway, because I read and review, so it’s not like I’m cutting into time I wouldn’t already have been allotting to Goodreads anyway. Even then, I just put my stuff out there and get out of the way. I don’t like to be pushy. It probably hurts me, because I don’t have tons of reviews, or even ratings, but I’m definitely being read. That’s the important thing.

How often do you read? What are you reading at the moment?  Do you read during the day or at night in bed?

I read all the time, but mostly at night. I’ve always got two or three books going, so I can read whatever I’m in the mood for. Currently I’m reading Hans Fallada’s Little Man, What Now? M.M. Kaye’s The Sun in the Morning, and Robert B. Parker’s Paper Doll. Far too many people limit their reading world to a single genre. I find most readers are eclectic, however, like me, and can enjoy anything if it’s well written. Because I write everything from pulp homages to modern crime and mystery, romantic fantasy to science fiction, those are my kind of readers!

Who are your favourite authors today and why?

It might not be cool to say, but I honestly don’t read many modern authors. I prefer the older authors, the older writing styles. I do read the Hamish Macbeth series — so does my wife — and there are a few cozy authors I like when I’m in the mood, but I can’t really point to someone writing today that I get excited about.

What are you working on next and when should we expect it to be published? Tell us something about it if you are able.

I’ll probably work on Death in Egypt, a light mystery set in the 1930s. I’m not certain how long it will be, but some of it is already written. Anyone who has read Night Cry, from the Where Lonely Lives collection, will recognize it as the story the protagonist was working on in the narrative. Sections of it were included in Night Cry, but now I’m going to finish it. It’s kind of a unique thing, because it was a story within a story in Night Cry, and now that actual story, in its entirety, will come to fruition through me. It should be great fun, with a 1930s flavor. I hope people enjoy it.

Tell us about your latest publication:

My latest release is titled I Died Twice, and is both a homage to all those wonderful soft-noir film melodramas of the 1940s, and the finer pulp stories from the same era. The title for each short but involving chapter is in fact taken from a classic film. A young woman whose only family is the orphanage in which she grew up, must finally depart her aunts and all her friends to make her way in the world. Traveling by train to Palm Beach, Florida to begin her first job, she meets a young man and falls in love. The innocent and inexperienced Anne Ferguson quickly finds herself drawn into a web of love, wealth, and finally, murder. Emotional and atmospheric, the swiftly moving narrative will have readers wishing they could help the adorable Anne, and warn her of the danger just ahead. Filled with memorable supporting characters, imbued with warmth, and punctuated by a terrific ending reminiscent of those great film melodramas of the 1940s, I Died Twice is a rewarding tale of romantic suspense! 

Bobby many thanks for being here and chatting with us about your writing. It’s been so very interesting.

I do hope those who pop over to read about you will leave comments for you to answer; always great fun I find. Wishing you much future success.

 

 

Kim Knight: My Guest Author with multi-cultural characters in exotic locations

Kim Knight

My Guest Author this week is Kim Knight who is talking about her writing, both as a traditionally published and self-published writer of romantic suspense, set in exotic locations with multi-cultural characters. I’m booking my ticket to paradise right now.

This is the first time I have featured an author of romantic suspense and so I hope you enjoy finding out about Kim and her writing as much as I have.

Welcome to my blog Kim, it is fab having you here.

Please tell us something about yourself. Why you write, what inspired you and when did you begin to write stories?

Hello, thanks so much for having me. I’m thirty four, from London. I write because writing fills me with so much happiness. It’s helped to pull me out of some difficult times in life. I started really young, since my school days journaling. Two years ago I started to write my first full novel.

My motivation comes from my love of creativity, I can’t think of anything else I’d like to do in life. Apart from maybe work as a make-up artist or fashion designer. I’m also passionate about my genre as a reader. My sub-conscious inspiration came over ten years ago when I first stumbled upon the genre, and read my first romantic suspense book. Fast forward over ten years later, I’m a proud romantic suspense author.

 Your stories are set in the most exotic locations – Cuba for example – have you been to any of these locations?

Cuba has been on my list of places to see for so many years! I had to research a little into what it’s like in Cuba whilst writing Havana Heat. My next book in the Romance Set in Paradise series is set in Sri Lanka – again research is the key. I’d love to visit the country some time. I have been to some of the places I use in the other stories I am working on.

Havana Heat

Tell us about your experiences, we are sure to be green with envy. If you have not visited these places how do you research and make sure descriptions and cultural depictions of your locations and characters are accurate?

I speak to people who originate from the region I’m using for a character. I ask their views and seek clarification. I use the internet a lot as well and use sources I can trust.

You write using multi-cultural characters to tell your stories. Do you find it difficult getting inside the skins of these characters?

Err, yes and no if I’m honest. To write from the POV of someone from a different cultural background, for me, is a challenge if I focus on writing certain stereotypical views their     culture may have or experience.  This is not my aim. As I mainly feature a diverse line up of characters e.g. race, religion, sexuality, then write from the character’s POV e.g. how they are as a person – it’s no problem. This is because I just create a character line up that’s diverse, in their appearance/style/way they speak, rather than get into their head and write their views from a cultural perspective. If that makes sense? Sometimes it can be a challenge to portray accents. I listen to accents on YouTube, or do whatever I must do to get speech as accurate as I can.

How do you write in a ‘Spanish or Cuban voice’ for example – do you have experience of living/working with people from those backgrounds?

Yes, my girlfriends are so diverse in their backgrounds. In London you have the opportunity to meet so many great people different to yourself. I had a conversation with a European Spanish girlfriend of mine from Madrid on Skype, she lives in Brazil now. I asked her about the differences between Spanish dialects, when I wrote Sebastian and Filipe in Havana Heat. They are both Spanish speakers, one is a Caribbean Hispanic and one is a European Spaniard. My Spanish native girlfriend pointed me in the right direction!

A Stranger in France

When I wrote A Stranger in France I took the same approach. I have a few French speaking girlfriends, who I practice my French with. I cross checked my accents.

I’ve tried portraying Russians and Ukrainians and am terrified of stereo-typing them. Do you find it difficult?

The last thing I want to do is stereotype. To avoid this I check accents via listening and ask where possible a native speaker for their views. I too am terrified of stereo typing, but I must admit my style is to use the actual language of the character to speak as well.  Sometimes it’s more about translating English text to the language in question.

Do you have any tips for those authors who have steered clear of writing characters from different cultures and backgrounds? 

Do your research and crack on with it!  Don’t be scared.  Just stay clear of trying to make your character act like a “typical stereo type,”  of the background you are using.  This could offend someone. If I ever read a story and the writer has gone out of their way to portray young black, Hispanic, African-American or ethnic males as “aggressive trouble makers and public enemy number one,” I’d be offended. I have a son. This stereo type in my humble view is the cause of many race relation problems in  society but that’s another discussion!  Just use diversity to pepper your stories with different types of people, as that is the reality of life, we are not all the same.

Where do you like to write? Do you use a computer or write by hand? Do you have a special place where you write? Do you have a special time of day?

On my laptop to write my stories, via hand for my journal in pretty notepads. Normally I’m at my kitchen table, or a café.

Being a mum, I write when the house is quiet and peaceful. Normally in the late evening. It helps that I’m more of a night owl when it comes to creativity. My most creative hours I have noticed are about 10:00 p.m. – 3:00 a.m.  That’s when I knock out the most words. I’m in the zone.

Where do you get your inspiration for a story? How long does it take you to write a book?

Life, being a woman in her mid-thirties, earlier life experiences. Experiences I’d love to have! Anything is an inspiration to me. Be careful what you tell me about your love life, it could end up in a novel. It depends on what I’m writing, how much research is needed and whether it’s a full novel, novella, or short story when it comes to time. My Romance in Paradise series are novella length books. Havana Heat in all honesty took me just a few weeks to write, I was in the zone.  Same with Lover’s Retreat book #2. But as you know that’s the easy bit!  The editing, perfecting and cover design takes everything from start to finish about two months for novellas.

Do you do a lot of plotting and note-making or do you write at the computer with a rough idea of what you want to write? Tell us something about your writing process.

I’m a plotter, I give myself a brief outline of my story and chapters. Develop my characters on paper in detail and then write. I don’t always stick to the outline, I let my creativity talk to me. But I must always have a plot outline so I know where I’m going. For me as a suspense writer it is a must, so I know where to build the heat and where to hold back.

Not Just for Christmas

 You self-publish but have been traditionally published too. Can you tell us what you think the benefits and downside of traditional verses self-publishing is from your own experience?

Yes, at first I was traditionally published then discovered self-publishing. I kinda like the freedom of self – publishing that’s a massive pro, I don’t regret it, I love it! That said my romantic thriller has been requested by another traditional publisher, as soon as I finish it, and I’m in two minds whether to self pub or go traditional. The drawback is (with self – publishing) you must understand and learn the process to do it well, but that said if you’re a serious writer this is not an issue. The pros of traditional publishing are that if you have a good publisher you don’t need to worry. Everything is taken care of for you. Just write and do your edits to the best of your ability. The drawback is if you have a crappy editor you are stuffed… well and truly my friend you are stuffed. And you have less control over deadlines and what you want for your work. That said if you find the right publisher you won’t have this problem. My advice is ask questions, make sure your publisher is the right home for your work, and never compromise on quality if you ain’t happy walk away.

Please add anything else you’d like us to know about yourself and your writing, including a list of your published books with links where to buy them, and also any new books in the pipeline.

Readers can download the first four chapters of Havana Heat on my author site for free, and receive a 15% discount on Smashwords until 14th May.

https://kimknightauthor.com/2017/05/05/free-four-chapter-sample-release-date-12517-amreading-romance-newrelease-freesample/

Please share something from Havana Heat to give our readers a flavour of your writing:

Excerpt:

Sebastian takes Melinda’s hand as they leave the dance floor of Casa De Amigos. They weave their way in and out of the crowds. The crowds have built up the bar is now busy with local Cubans and tourists, enjoying the ambience of cheap cocktails, beers, the wide screen TV and small dance floor to salsa.

As they exit the bar into the late afternoon sunshine, the humid heat does nothing to cool down their perspiring bodies hot from all their dancing.

“Sebastian, which way from here? I have no idea where I’m going.”

Sebastian looks down at Melinda fanning herself with one hand. With the sunshine on her smooth brown skin, Sebastian can’t deny that his attraction toward Melinda is growing. His eyes sweep up and down her curvy body as he admires her sun dress and wedge heels. He wonders to himself what’s underneath her sundress, his mind runs wild as he fantasies about the kind of underwear Melinda likes to wear, and the kind of underwear he would like to see her in. Tearing his eyes away from her he hides his smile.

“Hmm, let’s try this direction.”

“Okay, let’s go.”

With a warm glow inside of each of them they take off in the opposite direction from where they came. Walking along the hot pavement they admire the colourful array of pastel colour buildings and downtown hotels they pass, as they walk deeper into the town.  Local youths pass them on moped bikes zooming down the main road, along with 1950s era Cadillac cars which catch Sebastian’s attention.

“The cars out here are really something, a real throwback in time.”

Melinda follows Sebastian’s gaze over to the main road as he smiles and admires the retro Cadillac cars.

“Totally, they’re amazing aren’t they. But totally fitting with the Spanish architecture and colourful buildings.”

Within a twenty minute walk the sea comes into view in the distance.

“Well, look what we’ve found.” Smiling Melinda tugs at Sebastian’s arm.

“C’mon let’s go check out the beach, we have time for a stroll before we head back.”

“What about food?”

“That’s what the hotel’s for.”

Melinda calls over her shoulder as she takes off jogging toward the beach. Sebastian smiles, then ups his pace to keep up with her.

“Wow, this looks like some kind of paradise.”

Melinda kicks off her wedge heels as she steps onto the warm sand. Sebastian joins her removing his comfortable plimsols.

“Sure does, the water is so blue.”

They walk farther onto the beach toward the water’s shore.  Melinda and Sebastian take in the ambience of the beach. Palm trees slightly lean to one side as they sway in the light sea breeze. The sand is clean with a bright sugar white colour. The beach is calm but busy with sun worshipers stretched out on their beach loungers, and groups of friends playing volleyball. A few teenagers splash around in the sea making fun of each other. Taken back by all of Santa Maria del Mar beach’s beauty both of them lower their shades as they walk along the coastline at a leisurely pace, with the warm sea water washing over their feet. As they stroll farther up the coastline a secluded area of rockery comes into view, they head over and settle themselves on the sugar white sand to admire the aqua blue sea.

“So tell me a bit more about yourself Sebastian, other than work how do you spend your time?”

Sebastian thinks for a moment, of late his free time has been consumed with mourning the absence of his late girlfriend Anna, and what he could have done to ensure Anna felt needed and valued as his partner. A vision of Anna appears in his mind’s eye as he stares out into the calm sea. Sebastian rubs the back of his neck and tries to push his vision of Anna’s face to one side.

“Ah, to be honest … not much. I guess I’m kinda boring.”

Melinda let’s out a small laugh and looks up at Sebastian.

“I’m sure you’re not, seriously you have no hobbies or interests?”

“Hmm, I like music— a lot, and to work out I guess, books interest me too.”

“What kind of music and books? I love them both.”

“I listen to a lot of classical, flamenco and modern music. When it comes to books obviously, crime is my thing.”

“Of course, Mr. Detective. And …”

“And that’s about it Melinda. I never realised how boring I am until you asked me that question.”

The pair crack up laughing.

“No girlfriend back in London then?”

Sebastian looks down at Melinda sitting by his side, his reflection in her large oversized sunglasses stares back at him. Damn she looks hot in those shades runs through his mind. Suddenly he feels overwhelmed and confused. He loves Anna and is still not quite over losing her. At the same time his attraction to Melinda is becoming more obvious to him. Her style, beauty, rhythm to a salsa beat, and bubbly sense of humour appeal to him in a major way.

“Did I say something wrong Sebastian? You’re looking at me like I’m some kind of alien.”

Sebastian snaps out of his weird trance of heartache over his late girlfriend, and lust over the ebony skinned beauty with exciting potential by his side.

“No sorry… I don’t have a girlfriend as such no.”

“As such? What does that mean?”

“It’s complicated—I”

With disappointment Melinda cuts Sebastian off as she gazes out at the deep aqua sea.

“Hmm, it always is with you men isn’t it.”

Thoughts of all the wasted dates she had been on over the last year run through her mind.

“No, I mean it’s complicated as she… she died almost one year ago.”

Melinda looks up at Sebastian as he stares off into the sea again.

“Oh, my Sebastian I’m sorry I didn’t mean to—”

“It’s okay, honestly by now I should be coming to terms with my loss. Well at least that’s what my shrink tells me.”

“You see a doctor?”

“Yeah, I have been for a while now. He helps but I know that the main bulk of the work to deal with my grief is down to me.”

“It’s hard, grieving is different for everyone.”

Many thanks for agreeing to be my guest, it has been a pleasure having you Kim, I wish you all the best with your writing and publishing future. 

 Connect with me:

https://kimknightauthor.com/– author site

@kimknightauthor – Twitter

@kimknightauthoruk – Facebook

 Other books by Kim:

Lover’s Retreat: Romance Set in Paradise series (released June 2017).

In the Name of Love: Romantic Thriller (released summer 2018)

Code Red – A Serial Novel

Not Just For Christmas: A Romantic Novella

A Stranger in France- Romantic Suspense

Buy now links:

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Smashwords with discount.

I hope everyone enjoys reading Kim’s interview and will leave comments for her to answer. Thanks for being here.

 

Dying to Meet You: My FREE short story and The Technicalities of Crime Writing – my article for The Writers Newsletter

I’ve been busy

Today I have a FREE short story in The Writers Newsletter – it’s called Dying to Meet You.

 

I hope you will pop across and read it and let me know your thoughts.

Some scenes are set in a library and it is about a crime writer.

http://thewritersnewsletter.com/short-stories-may/dying-meet-jane-risdon/

There’s also an article I have written about Forensic Science and how taking courses has helped me learn more about Crime Scene Investigations and more.

http://thewritersnewsletter.com/articles-for-may/the-technicalities-of-crime-writing-by-jane-risdon/

I hope you get time to read the story and the article and let me know what you think.

 

Traci Sanders Multi-award-winning Author is my Guest Author with Tips on Colons and Semicolons

Traci Sanders

I thought I’d do something different with my Guest Author Spot – something I think you will find useful – especially those of us who write and possibly find themselves struggling with Grammar and Punctuation at times.

For those who don’t know her, Traci Sanders is a multi-genre, multi-award-winning author of ten published titles, with contributions to three anthologies. An avid blogger and supporter of Indie authors, she writes parenting, children’s, romance, and non-fiction guides.

Her ultimate goal is to provide great stories and quality content for dedicated readers, whether through her own writing or editing works by other authors.

Welcome Traci and thanks for being here to share some of your tips with us today

Thanks for featuring my new books on your blog. I am going to share a tip which is focused on the technical side of writing, discussing usage of colons and semicolons.

TIP 128: Colons and Semi-colons

The following tips, and many more on writing and editing, can be found in Before You Publish, now available in digital and paperback format.

 
You can think of this as a reference guide, rather than a book you need to read from cover to cover. It will become your new go-to guide for all things writing, grammar, and editing. The tips are easy to follow and explained in simple terms that anyone can understand and put to use right away.
I’ve seen colons and semi-colons thrown around in a haphazard manner within several books recently. It’s time to stop the madness!
 
Here are some rules broken down in simple terms, with examples for each one:
Semicolon – Basically, this mark symbolizes a point in the sentence that is not strong enough for a period but is too strong for a comma. Hence, it combines both (;).
 
A semicolon can replace a period when linking two similar, complete thoughts.
 
Example: 
Her heart led her back to her childhood home; it was the only place she felt safe. A period could also be substituted here, but the semicolon closes the gap more effectively. Also, if this sentence were shortened—say the words “it was” were taken out—the sentence could be constructed differently.
 
Her heart led her to her childhood home—the only place she felt safe.
 
Either of these would suffice.
 
A semicolon can differentiate between two separate (complete) thoughts an author wants to convey in a relational way. Example: Your heart belongs to music; mine belongs to sports.
 
Example: 
She thought she’d found the love of her life; she was wrong.
 
Use a semicolon to set apart sentences that are introduced (or divided) by conditional words such as: however, therefore, consequently, etc.
Example: 
I wanted to marry a doctor; therefore, I dated only medical students.
 
Example: 
You can date anyone you want; however, don’t be surprised if your heart gets broken.
 
Use a semicolon to break up a sentence in which one or more commas are present, or where a coordinating conjunction has been omitted (as in a series or list of items).
 
Example: 
I called my mom and told her that I loved her, and I promised to take care of Daddy for her; it was one promise I intended to keep.
 
Example: 
These are my three favorite movies of all time: Untamed Heart, starring Marisa Tomei and Christian Slater; Pretty Woman, starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere; and The Bodyguard, starring Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner. 
 
Don’t fall into the trap of using a semi-colon to replace a colon.
 
Incorrect: Most teenage boys have only one thing on their minds; girls.
 
Correct: Most teenage boys have only one thing on their minds: girls.
 
Colon – An easy way to remember when to use a colon is, only use it at the end of a complete sentence, never following a sentence fragment. Colons are most often used to signify the beginning of a list or series of items. They can also be used to signify that an important document is about to be read, or a speech is about to take place.
 
Here is a list of the things I need you to pick up from the store: bananas, milk, sugar, eggs, and rolls.
 
I’ve only had one dream since I was a little girl: to be a professional writer.
 
She opened the letter, and it read: “Dear John…”
 
I’ve provided several ways to properly use semicolons and colons in this tip. There are a few other, more-specific rules; however, this is a good starting list for those who are confused on proper usage.
 
 You can find out more about Traci Sanders, award-winning author of parenting, children’s, and romance titles here:
~Reviews keep authors writing~
Traci thanks so much for sharing some of your expertise with us. I do hope everyone has enjoyed your post and will visit your pages and books as a result. This has been so interesting.
Jane x

Dave Sivers: My Guest Author – A Day in the Life of Det. Insp. Lizzie Archer.

Dave Sivers Author 2017

Dave Sivers is my Guest Author and we are going to explore

A Day in the Life of Detective Lizzie Archer with him, but first:

Dave, tell us about yourself, why you write, and why you write in this particular genre. What is your inspiration?  What is your next project?

I grew up in West London and spent my working life in the civil service until I took early retirement from the day job a few years back. I’ve always been a reader and have been writing stories since I was about six, so during that first career – when I wasn’t moonlighting as a bouncer or a bookie’s clerk, or studying for my Open University degree – I was busy with a number of writing projects, with varying degrees of success.

When I found myself with more time for writing, I followed my dream of writing novels in earnest, and then the digital revolution offered me a business model where, as an Indie author, I could manage my own brand the way I wanted. I’d always had quite eclectic tastes, and this has been reflected in the fiction genres I’ve tried my hand at – but I’ve always been drawn back to crime – I think most people like a mystery.

Writers who have inspired me include Stephen King, who always does such a great narrative voice, Val McDermid, who really knows how to structure a crime novel and carry a series forward, and Stephen Booth, who first showed me rural crime doesn’t have to be cosy.

My next project is the fifth Archer and Baines novel, and then I might take a short break from the series to do something that’s been in my head for a while – but Archer and Baines will be back after that!

The Blood that Binds

I’ve asked Dave to take us through a Day in the Life of Detective Inspector Lizzie Archer:

How does your character’s day usually begin? Let us know how your character might spend a typical day, working or being a parent, whatever it is they might get up to.  Perhaps they have two jobs, or are retired?

Detective Inspector Lizzie Archer’s alarm is perpetually set for 6.00 am, weekends included. It’s a hangover from her days in the Met, before she transferred to Buckinghamshire’s Aylesbury Vale a few years ago. The area hasn’t turned out to be quite the sleepy hollow she expected, but it does have its relatively quiet patches. Even so, she just can’t break that early morning habit.

Her morning routine is longer than most people’s because she has to artfully apply make-up (as taught by a TV make-up artist) and arrange her carefully cut hair to conceal the crescent scar on her left cheek, a souvenir from a bottle-wielding drunk she arrested in a London pub. The hair and make-up help with her confidence, even though she can’t hide the droop on that side of her face where the facial muscle was severed.

That’s interesting Dave, giving her a scar. I have given Ms B a scar down her left leg because at some point, in another book, I can write about how she got it. 

Right now, her team has one case on its books that’s a bit more urgent than the run of the mill car thefts, garage and shed break-ins, and petty drug dealing. Archer’s attention today will be focused on catching the piece of scum that, two nights ago, forced his way into an old lady’s bungalow and left her half-dead, all for a couple of hundred quid and a bit of jewellery that he’ll get next to nothing for, if he can even find anyone to fence it.

It’s a case that has enraged the community, and has the team determined to get the culprit off the streets before he goes for a repeat performance.

Fortunately, they know who they’re looking for. It really isn’t smart for a career criminal to leave bloody fingerprints all over the crime scene. By yesterday afternoon, they’d known they were looking for one Bradley Fane. But he hadn’t been at home when they’d gone looking for him there, and then someone must have tipped him off that the police had been round.

They haven’t found him in any of his usual haunts, either, but wherever he’s laying low, it won’t be for long. The team has spoken to Fane’s ex-wife, who hates his guts, and she’s promised to drop off a list of associates this morning. Archer would have liked it last night, but decided it was worth the wait to secure the ex’s co-operation.

Dead in Deep Water

Archer hits the office in Aylesbury nick just before 8pm. At 8.30 there’s a catch up briefing with the team – there’ll be a couple more during the day – and then, just as Archer is thinking about getting stuck into her mountain of paperwork, Melanie Fane turns up with the promised list.

Archer divides the names and addresses up amongst the manpower at her disposal. She decides to get DC Joanne ‘Joan’ Collins, who’s always first in the office and last out, away from her desk partnering DC Jason Bell. Archer has never been a hands-off, desk-driving DI, so she goes with DS Dan Baines. As usual.

At the second address they call at, the woman living there, Shelley Parks, seems decidedly nervous and is obviously stalling. They hear a crash at the back of the house. Baines shoulders Shelley Parks aside and charges through, with Archer right behind him. The rear door is still swinging on its hinges.

They catch up with Fane as he’s trying to scramble over the back fence. Baines drags him down, but Fane’s a big man. He shoves Baines to the ground and turns towards Archer, his face ugly. Whatever he intended to do to her, Archer will never know, because she kicks him full-on in the balls and all the fight goes out of him. His eyes are still watering as she snaps the cuffs on.

Even with the support of the duty solicitor, and even with his slim intellect, Fane doesn’t make much effort to deny what he’s accused of. He shrugs a lot when confronted with the obvious evidence against him and asks if he can get a lighter sentence if he pleads guilty. The infuriating thing is, he probably can, to avoid putting his victim through testifying.

By mid-afternoon, Baines is typing up the report and Archer is finally knee-deep in that paperwork. Tonight there’ll be a celebratory drink or two. And, unless anything horrendous happens in the next couple of hours, it might even be an early finish for a change.

Not that she has much to rush home to.   

 Does she juggle a career and a family? If  she has either/both, does her career drive her to the detriment of everything else, home life for example?

 Archer is a bit of a loner, although not by choice. Both her parents are dead, and her brother cut himself and his family off from her after their mother’s death. The man she thought she would make a life with broke up with her after she was disfigured in an arrest that went wrong. She was off duty at the time and her then lover witnessed the whole thing and then couldn’t stand the guilt when he looked at her scarred face. Since then, she’s had one disastrous affair. She doesn’t have too much of a home life, because she usually works long hours, but the house she bought in a small Buckinghamshire village has never felt too much like a home to her anyway.

Evil Unseen

Does Archer have a love interest?  How does this ‘interest’ impact her story? Does this significant ‘other’ often drive the story, interfere with his character and his plans?  Are they important to the story or just there in the background?  If there are kids, how do they fit into Archer’s story?

 Archer doesn’t exactly have a love interest, although one of the few friends she has is her next door neighbour, Dominic. She does fancy him, but she vowed at the outset that she wouldn’t get involved with him – she feels it would be too awkward for them both if it went wrong. They do cook for each other – Dominic does a mean curry – when she’s got a free weekend, and he’s one of the very few people she can relax and be herself with. He and Dan Baines are the only two people she really trusts. She has no kids, and isn’t interested in having any, although Dominic’s cat, Monty, has adopted Archer’s property as an extension of his territory.

When you first envisaged Archer’s character, did you have her whole life mapped out?

I wouldn’t go quite that far. I knew her back story pretty well from the get-go, and I have a story arc for the main characters roughed out over a number of books. But, whilst the plot for each book is mine, the story is theirs – and  once in a while they can still surprise me. They nearly always do something unexpected, which will tweak the trajectory a little.

Does she have political views?  Strong views about controversial topics for example?  Perhaps you steer clear of involving your character in strong viewpoints, being vocal about them – why?

I guess she does have quite strong views – she has very strong feelings about justice – and they must include politics. It just hasn’t figured much in the stories, because there are bad guys to be caught and whatever’s happening in the characters’ lives to handle. If there was something controversial impacting on a story that Archer would have strong views about, I wouldn’t shy away from her expressing them.

Do you think Archer’s views might alienate her in some way from her readers, or perhaps stimulate their interest in her character even more, even though Archer’s views and opinions might be worlds apart from their own?  Are you worried about writing anything too controversial?

I think any writer who doesn’t care about alienating their readers has a problem. But Archer, for all she isn’t perfect, is a character readers like. She might have some views that don’t coincide with theirs, but nothing extreme. I think she and the reader would amicably agree to differ.

What made you decide upon the physical attributes of Archer’s character?  Is she the amalgamation of several people you know, or have you created her from scratch?  Your perfect woman for example – someone you might/might not care for if you met them in real life?

I suppose there’s something of me in both Lizzie Archer and Dan Baines. But I insist to this day that both characters, and my mental image of them, came to me fully formed. Archer is quite tall, blonde and blue-eyed, but that’s all the description I’ve really given in the books. I think readers like to have their own mental picture. She has her disfigurement, obviously. I haven’t consciously based her looks or her personalities on anyone.

What made you decide upon Archer’s personality/character?  Was her profession or personality the driving force behind you creating him?  Is she a music fan?  Which genre and why? Does he read?  Which authors and why?   Help us get to know something about DI Lizzie Archer.

The key to the personality Archer has at the start of the series is the incident that led to her being disfigured. Before then, she was confident, fearless and marked as a high flyer in a profession that’s in her blood – her late father was a copper too, and very proud of her. After the injury, she lost confidence, both because of her looks and their impact on her self-esteem, and because her sense that she could deal with any situation had been shattered. She fled London for the Met to try to rebuild her life, her career and her confidence. It’s happening, but slowly. I think she came to me in this form because I wanted two cop characters with strong back stories that influence their behaviour, but I didn’t want angst-ridden cops in the stereotypical sense. She’s not much of a reader, although she might pick up the odd crime novel. Her musical tastes are evolving. She’s just turned 40 and is playing a lot of the CDs that belonged to her father – Dire Straits, The Police. But Dominic is turning her into a bit of a country fan, too. She’s discovered the Dixie Chicks and now has everything they’ve recorded. You’ll find Emmylou Harris and Steve Earle on her iPod too. She gets that from me.

What are Archer’s character’s flaws/faults or failings?  You’ve created her with these if she has them, why was that?  Did you want a perfect all rounded lead character or a flawed one?  Is she kind and caring or a bully, arrogant, cruel….?

She knows she doesn’t take enough interest in other people’s lives and their problems. She doesn’t suffer fools gladly, and isn’t very good at finding out whether the other person has a problem. She’s also quite driven, which can give her tunnel vision. But she’s not actually unkind or uncaring, and certainly not arrogant. She can be too defensive sometimes. I didn’t set out to give her these flaws. They just flow from her history. But then, I’d hate for her too be perfect.

Does your character, Lizzie Archer, convey a moral message or aren’t you bothered about that sort of thing?

I like to have a bit of a theme in my head for each book, even if only I know about it. I don’t really want to convey deep moral messages.

Does your story write itself or do you plan and outline in advance, every aspect about your character and their life and exploits? Was this difficult to write, especially if it was not part of your ‘plan’ for them originally?

The story usually has a spark – it could be a thirty-second news item or something overheard – and a ‘what if? or two. When I sit down to make a start, I know what happened, usually how and why, not always who. I can’t do a big outline – just can’t. I have to sit on the characters’ shoulders and watch them investigate. What they do is in character, as affected by the case and what’s going on in their lives. If the direction I’d thought their lives were taking has deviated by the end, that’s fine. That’s what real life is sometimes like.

The Scars Beneath the Soul

Setting for a character and their story is important.  What made you decide upon the setting you have chosen?  Is the setting fictional or one you are familiar with?

The Archer and Baines novels are set in Buckinghamshire’s Aylesbury Vale, where I live. I grew up in West London, but I’ve lived here almost a quarter of a century now, and I know and love the area. I wanted to set a crime series here, and wouldn’t let suggestions that country crime is cosy crime put me off. Bad, brutal things can happen anywhere.

I agree. My Ms Birdsong Investigates is set in Oxfordshire, in the Vale of the White Horse, and is anything but a Cosy/traditional mystery often associated with beautiful rural locations. As you say, bad, brutal things can happen anywhere.

 Is your life style similar to your character’s life style in any way? Similar background/family/occupation/profession, education?

Well, I live in the same part of the world! And Archer hails from a part of London not far from where I’m from. My family background couldn’t be more different, but I was a civil servant for a whole career, which I suppose gives me a sense of public service ethos and a public sector way of doing things – although a very different part of that sector.

Would you like to be your character?  What do you like/admire about Archer the most?

Well, I’m the wrong gender to be her, but would I like to be a character like her? As I said earlier, I’m sure there’s a healthy dollop of me in her. I like the way she’s come through a horrendous experience and is gradually getting a new life on track, even though she makes a lot of mistakes, and is often disappointed, along the way. Sure, she ran away from her old life – but, having burned those bridges, it’s like she’s doggedly determined to lie in the bed she made for herself. I admire that about her.

Please write a little about your recent book/story involving Archer and why she is experiencing what is happening to her in this particular story.  Is Lizzie Archer part of a series?  List all your books featuring her.

DI Lizzie Archer is one half of the Archer and Baines duo of which The Blood That Binds is the fourth in the series. In this book, she’s come a fair way from the woman who arrived at Aylesbury Police Station for the first time in The Scars Beneath The Soul. The other books in the series are Dead in Deep Water and Evil Unseen.

In The Blood That Binds, she’s still self-conscious about her disfigurement, but it doesn’t define her so much, and she’s learning to trust people. She’s also trying to give members of her team a little more responsibility, to develop and stretch them, although part of that is necessity, because her quiet patch suddenly finds itself juggling several major investigations at the same time. A 12-year old girl has been killed by a hit-and-run driver, and now the two girls who were with the victim that night have both disappeared. The team also has the naked body of a women, discovered in woodland, to contend with. 

Dave Sivers Author

Dave Sivers:

Dave’s civil service career took him to exotic places like Rhode Island USA, Cyprus, Brussels, Northern Norway and Sutton Coldfield. Along the way, he moonlighted variously as nightclub bouncer, bookie’s clerk and freelance writer, as well as picking up a first class honours degree from the Open University.

Writing has always been his passion and, since giving up the day job, he has launched a second career as a novelist.

The Scars Beneath the Soul, the first book in his popular Archer and Baines crime series – set in Buckinghamshire’s Aylesbury Vale – and the follow-up, Dead in Deep Water, both hit the top three in Kindle’s ‘Serial Killers’ chart. The Blood That Binds is the fourth in the series featuring DI Lizzie Archer and DS Dan Baines.

Dave has also won prizes and publication with his short fiction, written for newspapers and magazines, and writes material for the amateur stage.

Dave lives in Buckinghamshire, England, with his wife, Chris.

You can discover Dave and his books here:

http://www.davesivers.co.uk

Twitter: @DaveSivers

Facebook: @davesiversauthor1

Goodreads: Dave Sivers

 The Blurb:

 “Two intriguing cases – one twisted plot.” – Alison Bruce

“Stylish, skilful and packed with suspense.” – Sharon Bolton

SOMETIMES THE PAST IS BEST LEFT ALONE

 The quiet Buckinghamshire village of Houghton is reeling. Soon after twelve year old Leanne Richards is killed by a hit and run driver, the two classmates who were with her that night disappear, one by one.

Jade and Becky said they couldn’t identify the car or the driver. Does someone want to make sure it stays that way? Or are other, darker motives in play?

As DI Lizzie Archer and DS Dan Baines search for the truth, buried pasts and secret loves begin to reveal themselves. But is time running out for the girls? Or is it already too late?

PRAISE FOR ARCHER AND BAINES:

 ‘You’ll enjoy this if you liked Elizabeth George’s Inspector Lynley Mysteries, Gillian Hamer’s Gold Detectives series and Val McDermid’s Wire in the Blood’
– J J Marsh, author of the Beatrice Stubbs novels.

 Thanks so much for entering into the spirit of this Dave. I have really enjoyed it and I am sure our readers will too and I hope this will inspire them to discover your books – if they haven’t already – and get to know Lizzie Archer more.

Do pop back to answer comments and likes and get to know the wonderful folk who kindly drop in here to meet new authors.  I am sure there will be many new followers for you.

Jane xx

Lesley Cookman, Traditional Mystery Author, is my Guest Author talking about her Writing and Panto.

Lesley Cookman Author

Traditional Mystery Author Lesley Cookman is my guest today.

I think you’ll find she is a fascinating lady and author.

Lesley Cookman Author of Traditional Mysteries

Let’s get to know her:

Thanks for agreeing to do a guest spot on my blog. It is great having you here. Welcome.

Please provide some background to your life and career for our readers, some of whom may not know anything about you. For example your love of horses…

I grew up in what is now inner London and very expensive! I was an only child, and both my parents worked full time, which was unusual back when Adam was a lad. My mother was a former dancer turned lingerie designer (yes, really!) and my father an actor, half of a night club duo and finally a proof reader in the days when it was a really skilled job. They were both great readers and let me loose on their bookshelves when I was about nine. Dad joined a local amateur dramatic group (PLEASE don’t say am-dram – almost as bad as chic-lit) by invitation and very soon, if there was child’s part, I was involved too. Two of the members bought a riding stable when I was twelve, and my best friend and I became unpaid stable girls. The day the horses and ponies arrived, we were there at six o’clock in the morning getting things ready for them. I loved it. In our part of London, we were between three huge commons, so we had loads of places to ride.

You’ve had a fascinating life, what gives you the most pride and sense of achievement and why?

Golly – I don’t know! I suppose Libby Sarjeant, really, although her start in life was so precarious, she rather took us all unaware. I would have to say, though, that Shirley Valentine was my crowning achievement. Only the audiences could say if she was a success, but I was asked to do it again for another theatre!

You have successfully published so many books: The Libby Sarjeant series and The Alexandrians, various novellas and Pantomime books, is it difficult to switch from writing one long standing set of characters to another – in the Sarjeant/Edwardian Alexandrians series – and do you ever find yourself mixing up the plots and characters and finding yourself having to change what you have written because you’ve got the characters/locations muddled?

I very sensibly chose to use a town and a building and back story I had already invented for the Libby series for The Alexandrians, so I was comfortable with the geography, and to an extent, the people involved. So, no, although I was worried about the mixing-up aspect, it hasn’t happened so far!

Murder in Steeple Martin

Libby Sarjeant has been a great success for you as a character and series. Has she turned out as you expected or has her evolution as a character surprised you at all? If you could change anything about her, what would it be?

Would I change anything? No, I don’t think so. I didn’t, of course, expect her to be a series when she first came into my mind, but when Hazel Cushion bought the first one – unfinished – she asked if it could be a series. I don’t think either of us expected her to be still going after 18 books.

I absolutely loved Murder in Steeple Martin I must add, and I have many of your other books on my TBR pile on my Kindle. Never enough time…

Do you have many more adventures for Libby lined up or do you see her coming to an end, and how far in to the future do you think that might be?

Given my extreme age (!) I think we’ll come to an end together. I have no plans to give up yet – especially as I do that heinous thing – Writing For Money. Libby pays the bills, bless her.

Murder on the Run

Tell us something about Libby Sarjeant – her background which fans might not know – and what you love about her most?

Libby has, obviously to those who know me, quite a few things in common with me, although I deny strenuously that she IS me. She’s an ex-actor, an artist and theatre director, involved with her partner Ben’s converted Oast House theatre in their home village. She moved from London with her ex-husband and three children to the Canterbury area, and after her husband left her for Pneumatic Marion and the children had left home, her friends Peter and Harry found her a cottage near their home and restaurant. I’m not an artist, I have two cats and Libby has only one, I have four children and I’m a widow. The thing I like about her best is that she doesn’t age. We started out the same age, but now…

Where did the inspiration/idea for Libby come from? Can you pinpoint a moment when she popped in to your head?

Sort of. I had delivered my younger daughter to her friend’s house (and stables!) deep in the countryside and drove past a village green. Why the first few lines of the first book popped into my head I have no idea. The scene stuck, but it was several years before they became anything like a story – minus the original few lines. Libby herself, like most of my characters, popped fully formed into my head.

Murder in Mid-Winter

Is she based upon (loosely I am sure) someone real or a complete figment of your imagination?

Complete figment, although I originally envisaged her as a young Miriam Margolyes.

Tell us more about your Edwardian series, The Alexandrians. Do you plan many more? Where did the inspiration for this series come from?

I have recently been asked to write a third in the series, and the idea came, as I’ve mentioned earlier, from the background story of an early Libby book. This, is turn, had come from the plot of a musical I wrote for The British Music Hall Society called Summer Season. (Still available for performance, folks…) I was the editor of the Society’s Magazine for some time, and my particular love in the theatre was, and is, pantomime and Music Hall.

Tell us more about your love of Pantomime and which is your favourite and why?

Do you know, I have no idea. I loved it in a vague way when I was younger, but it was after being cast as a chorus member in a production of Cinderella that it really got going. Then I was cast in principal parts, mainly wicked, and finally, to direct, which terrified me. After I had rewritten a whole scene in that one (with permission from the author), I decided to write one of my own. Cinderella, of course. I was lucky enought to have it produced, and subsequently bought by a specialist theatre publishing company, who went on to buy all the rest of my scripts, and even to commission a couple.

Summer Season with Roy Hudd

Lesley as Baroness Penny Pinch

You are published by Accent Press. Is this your first publishing gig or have you been published before?

I have been writing for money for donkey’s years! I wrote for various trade, business and computer magazines (Which Computer, for one), short fiction for the weekly women’s magazines, the scripts, and a commissioned book on pantomime with a foreword by Roy Hudd, among other things. I always said I was a writing whore.

Tell us how you came to be published by Accent; did you submit to many publishing houses before deciding upon them? Why Accent, what attracted you?

I’m afraid it was nothing like the normal submission process! Hazel Cushion and I met at university doing a Master’s Degree and produced a charity anthology together called Sexy Shorts For Christmas. My late husband designed the cover, and after that, Hazel decided this was the career she wanted. I stayed to become commissioning editor for the second book, then backed down. A couple of years later, Hazel got in touch and asked after a book, of which the first twenty thousand words had been my dissertation at uni. I resurrected it, added a thousand more words and sent it to her, whereupon she offered for it if I could finish it! So, we chose each other and have grown together. It was a gamble on both sides. Now I’m only one of Accent’s authors – and I promise you, I don’t get any privileges!

Murder Dancing

Murder in the Blood

Do you have a designated writing space and if so, how important is it to have one?

I have an office which is half of an extension on the side of my small semi. The other half is a utility room. Both are messy. But they are very important to me. During a recent illness I tried writing in all sorts of other places, but without success. I can, however, write in my room when I’m on holiday in Turkey. I go every year (royalties permitting) and my routine is breakfast by the pool and, if I’m not going on a boat trip or other jollification, back to my room for a couple of hours writing. I lose momentum if I don’t keep going.

Tell us a little about your writing process (Typewriter/computer/long-hand?) and do you write every day – do you have a set routine? How many books do you write/publish per year?

Straight to screen, and I try to write every day. I write best in the afternoon, simply because I’m lazy and spend most of the morning on the laptop in the kitchen with tea doing emails, social media and anything else which is distracting. Currently I think it’s two a year, but it varies.

All my titles start with “Murder” so I or one of my children will come up with a title. Or possibly a situation or setting, like a running club, a ukulele group, a May Day celebration or a beer festival. Then I have to find a scenario that fits, and as I rarely have that long between books I more or less have to write on the hoof.

Murder at the Laurels

Murder in a Different Place

How long does it take you to write a book? Which has been the most challenging to write? Which has been the easiest?

Actual writing five or six months, I suppose. And they are ALL challenging and ALL hard to write. Believe me! I’m always saying I’ll give up if I win the lottery, but the children tell me I wouldn’t…

What do you enjoy about writing the most and what do you like the least?

Living in my own world, which is a comfort when the world is in the state it is at the moment, and hate? The self discipline, of course!

If you could be another author, who might that be? Whose career do you admire, envy, or long to emulate?

I don’t. I admire a lot of authors, but I envy none and certainly wouldn’t wish to emulate any.

Who are your favourite authors and name a favourite book(s) by them and why?

Ngaio Marsh, all her books are wonderful, John Dickson-Carr/Carter Dickson – again, all of them. They, and many other Golden Age detective authors have always been my inspiration.

If one of the TV production companies came calling or a Hollywood production company, and they wanted to make a series or movie of the Libby Sarjeant books, who do you imagine might play her, and why? You can pick a modern actor or a favourite from times long gone – just for fun.

Um – if Brenda Blethyn hadn’t already been snapped up, she’d be good! And Miriam Margolyes, of course, when she was younger. Libby aint’t glam!

If you were not writing at this point in your life, what do you imagine you might be doing instead? Do you have interests other than Panto?

I don’t know what I’d be doing. Living from hand to mouth I suspect. Panto isn’t a hobby, though, and I’m not connected to the theatre these days. I occasionally get dragged out of retirement to do a cameo, but it’s rare.

Which of /or any of your careers do you wish you’d started earlier and stuck with, and why?

I wish I’d carried on acting professionally, but that was impractical. Otherwise, I’m quite happy. My many and varied jobs – DJ, model, actor, air crew – have all provided experiences that can feed into my books.

Thanks so much Lesley. I do hope our readers will find out something about you which has whetted their appetite for Libby Sarjeant or The Alexandrians. Lesley has a vast selection of books available to read some of which are shown here.

Murder in Bloom

Biography

Lesley started writing almost as soon as she could read, and filled many Woolworth’s exercise books with pony stories until she was old enough to go out with boys. Since she’s been grown up, following a varied career as a model, air stewardess and disc jockey, she’s written short fiction and features for a variety of magazines, achieved an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Wales, taught writing for both Kent Adult Education and the WEA and edited the first Sexy Shorts collection of short stories from Accent Press in aid of the Breast Cancer Campaign. The Libby Sarjeant series is published by Accent Press, who also publish her book, How to Write a Pantomime, with a foreword by Roy Hudd. Lesley is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, the Society of Authors and the Crime Writers’ Association. Links to their sites are listed below.
Lesley’s pantomimes are published by Jasper Publishing. Have a look at her panto pages.

http://www.lesleycookman.co.uk/

As always please comment and let Lesley know you have visited today. Your visit is always appreciated. 

 

Hardwick Hall: another ‘jolly’ from 2016 – Part One – Bess of Hardwick, a force to be reckoned with.

Hardwick Hall Oct 2016 (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Another of my ‘jollies.’

I hope if you have arrived here in search of Jane, the writer,

you will linger a while longer or take a good trip around my blog – the other parts – where you will find writing-related content.

Either way I hope you won’t be disappointed and will come back again.

My ‘jollies’ have taken me to many fascinating places (I think) and I enjoy sharing my experiences with you.

You’ll find my ‘jollies’ posted under Blog….scroll down and enjoy.

I have had to divide the posting of my ‘Jolly’ to Hardwick Hall into more than one due to the sheer volume of items to see and, as usual, I went crazy taking photos. Sadly I don’t have information for every item but I hope just seeing everything will be enjoyable and might even tempt you in to visiting yourself.

Keep an eye out for the next instalments.

Hardwick Hall Ruins Oct 2016 (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Hardwick Hall is a great Elizabethan House,

built to create and proclaim the impression – and fact – of great wealth  and status of a great woman,

Bess of Hardwick

Fine tapestries and decoration throughout (c) Jane Risdon 2016

who – four times married – became the most remarkable Elizabethan woman in England, next to the Queen herself.

Bess was born at Hardwick Hall, then a small manor house in the mid-1520s, her father was John Hardwick, a country squire who died when she was under a year old, leaving his family of five young children in reduced financial circumstances.

Hardwick Hall Gatehouse with elaborate finials and decoration (c) Jane Risdon 2016

He left money but due to the cash strapped Henry VIII reviving tax rules, the estate was seized by the Crown and at least half sold into ‘Wardship,’ meaning the family lost control of their land until an heir, Bess’s little brother James, came of age.

Unfortunately the family was squeezed so hard, by the appointed ‘Wards,’ for revenue from the farms, that there was nothing left for the family. The lands and Hardwick Hall were valued at £20 remained with the Crown, although the family remained there, it is possible they were paying rent for the privilege.

The Penelope Tapestries (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Bess’s mother, also Elizabeth, to keep her family together, re-married. Her husband was Ralph Leche, the younger son of a Chatsworth family. He owned very little but had a small annual annuity of just under £7 per year and an income from some scattered leases.

Fine tapestries throughout (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Learning from her childhood adversity Bess’s lessons stood her n good stead. For the rest of her life she fought for what was rightfully hers, dealing skillfully with financial and legal matters.

Hardwick Hall is magnificent, inside and outside.

This ‘jolly’ was in October 2016.

This amazing woman knew that her hill-top mansion, with tall turrets, stone carved initials and fabulous display of costly glass glittering as visitors arrived (even today) would be marvelled at and discussed at every level of society. People came to stare at the mansion as it stood golden on the hill-top.

Bess had so many windows which need to be glazed that it proved expensive to pay the glaziers to do the whole house, so she went into business making and fitting window glass, and was soon supplying vast numbers of customers. Such was her entrepreneurial skills and ambitions.

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

The architecture, the grand chambers and furnishings of precious tapestries and rare needlework hangings are awesome now and I can only imagine the impact they made back in her day.

In the State Rooms the fabulous wall hangings are topped by rural scenes of forests and we were told by one of the guides that the trees on the decoration were in fact real trees, which Bess had placed along the top of the walls creating a 3D effect.

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

There is so much to see inside, that you really need more than a day to do it justice, but I had only an afternoon.

I took dozens of photos as usual, and this is going to have to be spread over several different postings.

So far in the Autumn of 2016 alone, you have been with me as I visited Dovedale, Ilam, Kedleston Hall and now here we have Hardwick Hall.

Still more interesting ‘jollies‘ to come by the way, so keep an eye out for them as I post them in the next couple of months.

The State Rooms (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Prior to Dovedale I visited an old friend in Cornwall, and also visited Chartwell, home of Sir Winston Churchill, so do go back as far as you like on my blog menu, to discover many other past jollies too.

 If you do, let me know your thoughts. Always welcome.

Just a word – it was taken over by the National Trust fifty years ago and the volunteers who occupy each room as you move around this wonderful house, go out of their way to inform, answer questions, and generally make the tour so very interesting. One elderly gentleman also filled us in on his own family history as he followed us from room to room, which was riveting, but a little time-consuming.

The introductory talk by one such gentleman outside in the rain-soaked entrance porch was so entertaining, we didn’t realise how hard it had begun to rain.

Beautifully carved table (c) Jane Risdon 2016

They like to natter up North. Not that we minded at all.

As a young girl Bess explored the hillsides and pastures at Hardwick with her siblings and half-sisters. She enjoyed playing with wooden toys, games and chanting nursery rhymes so we were told.

She learnt her letters and arithmetic from her mother who was reading from a ‘hornbook‘ which I discovered is paper protected by a thin layer of translucent horn.

The State Rooms (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Bess could play a keyboard instrument, given lessons in deportment (I had those at school, the Nuns had us carrying books on our heads with a stick down the back of our clothes ensuring we walked straight, head held high) I imagine Bess had to do the same.

She was encouraged to express herself confidently. As she got older she helped her mother manage the household.

Early financial difficulties taught her that she should take her chances when she could and the world owed her nothing. A very modern woman.

Apparently she was a popular and personable woman, formed friendships easily (four husbands don’t forget) and she was very ambitious, determined that the hardships she endured in youth should never be inflicted upon her own children and step-children.

Hardwick Hall (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Her marriages brought her wealth and grand houses, she honed her architectural skills (which were plenty)  on Chatsworth which was her first building project.

Her other family houses included Bolsover, Welbeck, Sheffield, Tutbury and Worksop.

She had dynastic ambitions and these were realised through her children with the dukedoms of Devonshire,

Norfolk, Portland, Newcastle and Kingston.

As a matriarchal figure Bess fought her way to the top of society in Elizabethan England.

With each marriage she gained more power, more land and more security for her children.

Steps to the State Rooms (c) Jane Risdon 2016

I won’t turn this into a history lesson, I wanted to share the beauty of Hardwick Hall and some of Bess’s Achievements internally. If this has whetted your appetite to visit this wonderful house or to know more about Bess, do go online, there is so much information about her there.

I shall be posting part two soon – do keep an eye out – for more photos and information on this remarkable woman

Reading:

Bess of Hardwick: Portrait of an Elizabethan Dynast – David N Durant (revised 2001 – Peter Owen)

Bess of Hardwick –  Mary S Lovell (Abacus 2006)

Arbella: England’s Lost Queen –  Sarah Gristwood (Murray 1991)

 Hardwick Hall, Doe Lea, Chesterfield, Derbyshire, S44 5QI

+44 (0)1246 850430

Also on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube

National Trust: hardwick@nationaltrust.org.uk

If you have enjoyed this ‘jolly’ you might like to take a look at some of my other outings to great gardens, houses, churches and cathedrals.

Go to Menu and Blog and scroll down. Let me know your thoughts, thanks so much.

All photos (c) Jane Risdon 2016 All Rights Reserved.

Sheryl Browne – My Guest Author – Exploring the Darker Psyche in her Psychological Thrillers

Sheryl Browne

My Guest Author this week is Sheryl Browne.

I do hope you enjoy reading about her and that you will find her work and  enjoy it.

I thought I’d let her tell about herself in her own words:

Thank you so much for inviting me to share a little about my new thrillers,

After She’s Gone and Sins of the Father, Jane.

I’m often asked what prompted me to SWITCH TO THE ‘DARK SIDE’. 

In all honesty, I’m not sure I have switched. Even in my contemporary romance, I tend to write about people and the gamut of emotion that comes with them, gravitating towards family and family dynamics and just how strong a family unit can be. I find there is usually a bad guy or girl in all of my books. Sometimes the hero will start out as seemingly bad, which gives him room to grow. I think in writing psychological thriller, I’m exploring the darker psyche of some of my characters, looking at the nature vs nurture conundrum. Is badness in the genes? Is it brain function or childhood experience that creates a monster? A combination of all three?

So, am I ‘writing what I know?’ In short, no. I don’t want to write about what I know. I find that terribly stifling. We have a world of information at our fingertips nowadays. We can travel anywhere. If you ‘feel’ a character, if that character is calling to you, you don’t need to shy away from writing about a job, era, or situation that might challenge your experience of it. You can research it. A writer’s mind thrives on exploration. Every scenario, every face, every place tells a story. A glimpsed situation, an argument between a couple, for instance, a verbal ‘slanging match’ in the street, and you have your inspiration for a story, upon which your overzealous writer’s mind will weave fictional facts. You simply can’t help yourself. So there it is. I have a need to explore the human psyche – and apparently I also have a scary insight into the mind of a psychopath. Thank you, Rachel at Rachel’s Random Reads. I think.  

 

After She’s Gone by Sheryl Browne

After She’s Gone

He’s killed your child and kidnapped your wife. What would YOU do?

There’s evil and then there’s Patrick Sullivan. A drug dealer, pimp and murderer, there are no depths to which Patrick would not sink, and Detective Inspector Matthew Adams has found this out in the most devastating way imaginable. 

When Patrick’s brother is shot dead in a drug bust gone wrong, the bitter battle between the two men intensifies, and Matthew finds it increasingly difficult to hold the moral high ground. All he wants is to make the pimping scum suffer the way he did … the way Lily did.

But being at war with such a depraved individual means that it’s not just Matthew who’s in danger. Patrick has taken a lot from Matthew, but he hasn’t taken everything – and now he wants everything.

 

Sins of the Father by Sheryl Browne

Sins of the Father

What if you’d been accused of one of the worst crimes imaginable?

Detective Inspector Matthew Adams is slowly picking up the pieces from a case that nearly cost him the lives of his entire family and his own sanity too. On the surface, he seems to be moving on, but he drinks to forget – and when he closes his eyes, the nightmares still come.

But the past is the past – or is it? Because the evil Patrick Sullivan might be out of the picture, but there’s somebody who is just as intent on making Matthew’s life hell, and they’re doing it in the cruellest way possible.

When Matthew finds himself accused of a horrific and violent crime, will his family stand by him? And will he even be around to help when his new enemy goes after them as well?

 

Sins of the Father and After She’s Gone.

Sheryl Browne brings you edgy, sexy contemporary fiction and psychological thrillers.

A member of the Crime Writers’ Association, Romantic Novelists’ Association and awarded a Red Ribbon by The Wishing Shelf Book Awards, Sheryl has several books published and two short stories in Birmingham City University anthologies, where she completed her MA in Creative Writing.

Recommended to the publisher by the WH Smith Travel fiction buyer, Sheryl’s contemporary fiction comes to you from multi-award winning Choc Lit.

Thanks so much for being my guest Sheryl. It’s really interesting finding out about you. Feel free  to reply to any comments from readers here. Good luck with all your books. Jane x

Author Links

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon | Amazon US | Pinterest

Choc Lit

Trailer Link:

DI Matthew Adams series: https://youtu.be/0MqZ5TpBwGk

Buy Links:

After She’s Gone: http://getbook.at/DIMatthewAdams

Sins of the Father: http://getbook.at/DIMatthewAdams2

 

 

 

.

Kedleston Hall: Part three of my ‘jolly’ there last year – inside All Saints Church with skulls under the floor

Kedleston Hall Derbyshire (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Kedleston Hall Derbyshire (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Kedleston Hall – Part Three

Another break from my writing-related posts.

I hope you enjoyed parts one and two of my post about my ‘Jolly’ to Kedleston Hall at the end of 2016.

As promised here are my photos of the inside of the church of All Saints,

the only survivor of medieval village at Kedleston which Sir Nathaniel Curzon demolished to make way for his new home.

He didn’t want to disturb the burial-place of his ancestors so the church was saved.

All Saints at Kedleston Hall (c) Jane Risdon 2016

All Saints at Kedleston Hall (c) Jane Risdon 2016

One enters the church through its oldest surviving feature, the Norman south door.

Door to All Saints (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Door to All Saints (c) Jane Risdon 2016

All Saints (c) Jane Risdon 2016

All Saints (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Most of the late 13th century building is constructed from local Derbyshire sandstone,

when the early English style was giving way to the more elaborate Decorated style. 

The Church is now in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust.

In about 1700 Sir Nathaniel Curzon, 2nd Bt. employed Smith of Warwick to classicise the east wall facing the house.

He put up a sundial inscribed

‘Wee shall [soon died all]’ next to a skull and crossbones.

All Saints (c) Jane Risdon 2016

All Saints (c) Jane Risdon 2016

The 4th Lord Scarsdale was rector there from 1855-1916, and in 1884-5 he commissioned John Oldrid Scott to undertake a major restoration, which entailed removal of the box pews and the two-decker pulpit.

All Saints (c) Jane Risdon 2016

All Saints (c) Jane Risdon 2016

The Curzon monuments inside the church reflect the antiquity of the family.

Monuments:

The earliest is to Richard de Curzon (active 1297-1306), but is now concealed beneath the floor.

Two skulls found here at All Saints in Kedleston Hall: Richard Curzon (d 1275) and wife (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Two skulls found here at All Saints in Kedleston Hall: Richard Curzon (d 1275) and wife (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Richard Curzon Skull found in floor with his wife (died 1275) and removed (c) Jane Risdon

Richard Curzon Skull found in floor with his wife (died 1275) and removed (c) Jane Risdon

In the South transept there is an alabaster tomb chest with life-size figures of a knight and his lady,

who are thought to be John Curzon (died 1512) and his wife Elizabeth.

Their seventeen children appear in a relief on the side.

Curzon Tomb: A Knight and his Lady (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Curzon Tomb: A Knight and his Lady (c) Jane Risdon 2016

On the East wall:

 Sir John Curzon, 1st Bt. (1598-1686), his wife Patience and their seven children can be seen.

Sir John Curzon (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Sir John Curzon (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Opposite there is a bust of Sir John Curzon, 3rd B. who died hunting in the park in 1727.

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

In the North transept on the West wall:

Sir Nathaniel Cuzon 2nd Bt. (1635-1719), and his wife Sarah, by the leading sculptor, Peter Scheemakers.

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

East Wall:

Sir Nathaniel Curzon, 4th Bt. (1676-1758), his wife, Mary, and their three sons, by Michael Rysbrack.

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

The North Chapel:

Lord Curzon added this chapel in 1906-13 as a memorial to his first wife, Mary Leiter.

When she died at the age of 35, he wrote: 

‘There has gone from me the truest, most devoted, most unselfish,

most beautiful and brilliant wife that a man ever had,

and I am left with three little motherless children and a broken life.’

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

The whole chapel is decorated in the sumptuous Edwardian style.

The architect was G.F. Bodley, who designed the estate church at Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire.

Sir Bertram Makennal (Australian sculptor) carved the recumbent effigies of Curzon and his wife in white Serravezza marble which is in contrast to the floor which is made from green Aventurine from the Ural mountains in Russia. 

I hope you have enjoyed my trip to Kedleston Hall and that it might inspire you to visit as well.

Let me know what you think.

My next ‘jolly’ is almost ready to post…be back with it soon.

All photos (c) Jane Risdon 2016 All Rights Reserved.

kedlestonhall@nationaltrust.org.uk

Tel: +0044 (0)1333 842191

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

Nicky Wells Brook Cottage Books Blog Tour: My Guest today – She’s Rocked herself into Crime Writing

Dead Hope Blog Tour

Today I am pleased to host Nicky Wells on my blog as part of her Brook Cottage Books Blog Tour.

I first ‘met’ her on-line on Facebook a few years ago

when she was asking for advice about Rock bands touring and recording for a book she was writing:

Sophie’s Encore…from her Rock Star Trilogy.

I stepped forward and offered advice, we got nattering, as you do – we both love music, rock especially.

I have guested on her blog and we’ve been nattering ever since.

So I am chuffed she has turned to Crime writing and is here today.

Let’s find out about Nicky:

Leaving the romance behind…?

Romance has been my genre ever since I crashed onto the scene in July 2011. And not just any old romance, romance with rock stars. Because I love my golden-voiced bad boys with their mind-blowing voices and secret soft hearts. For five years, I poured all my love and adoration into a succession of novels and novellas, as a result of which I have seven published works to my name. That’s about six more than I had ever dared hope, and still the ideas kept coming.

However. (You knew there was a ‘but’, didn’t you?)

Just when I was starting to feel a little cornered in my niche, life threw one of these tiny wrinkles at me that simultaneously flooded me with ideas for other stuff and enabled me to see beyond my self-imposed fictional horizon. It was one of those blinding ‘aha’ moments after which nothing is ever quite the same.

That said, when I first conceived of what is now DEAD HOPE, it was meant to be a romantic comedy and yes, it still sort of had a rock star in. It was going to be called “Deep Cover” and was going to transplant my rock star from his normal glittering habitat into a rural backwater to hide from… something. I had all the comedy moments worked out, all the mishaps and bizarre incidents that would befall a rock god cruelly ripped from his privileged surroundings and dumped in ‘real life’. The only problem was, I hadn’t quite worked out how he’d have got there. And why would he go along with the charade in the first place?

I went back to the drawing board (I’m an OCD planner, me) and came up with scenarios to drive the story. I allowed myself to really think out of the box, and soon my ideas grew darker and more sinister. I bade farewell to the comedy and said hello to the romantic suspense. Oh yes, and I also bade farewell to the rock star hero (that was a Big Step!) and introduced a leading lady instead who, while the daughter of a famous rock star couple, isn’t a celebrity in her own right.

So far, so good. I was excited about this turn of events. I could handle a heroine. I could get used to relegating the rock star theme to the backstory. It made sense. It was different. I felt energised.

But the evolution wasn’t over. When I started writing, I discovered a burning curiosity for the darker details that would weave my story together. The forensics, the court procedures, the police processes. I started researching, interviewed some knowledgeable people, and started fleshing out the crime aspects. I accumulated a lot more knowledge than I needed for the project, but it’s all stored for future reference. And meanwhile I got so engrossed that without me noticing at first, the novel turned itself on its head and became a thriller. Of course, I didn’t kill the romantic element (see what I did there?) and the romance subplot continues to move events forward, but the emphasis had shifted, and I liked it. So much so, in fact, that before I even finished writing, I had not one but two more thrillers planned, each one getting a little bit more thrillery than the one before.

I shouldn’t have been surprised at my nascent desire to turn my writing hands to thrillers, really. I read crime and thrillers by the truckload. Lee Child, David Baldacci, Kathy Reichs, Tim Weaver, Robert Ludlum, Sue Grafton, Jeffery Deaver, John Grisham, Dean Koontz… the list goes on and on. And on! And who knows… maybe you all will eventually add me to your library of thriller writers. I’d love to know!

P.S. I forgot to answer one tiny unasked question. Will I never write romance again? Of course not. Never say never! I have a little black book full of ideas, and they all want to be written. Some are thrillers, some are romance and, if you really want to know, there are a few children’s books in me as well. Watch this space! 

DEAD HOPE

by

NICKY WELLS

Dead Hope Nicky Wells

Genre: Thriller/Romantic Suspense

Release Date: 23 February 2017

Cat Hope doesn’t want to go to prison. She needs a job, and she needs it fast: judge’s orders. Caught in a drugs raid while trying to dull the pain of her parents’ deathaversary, Cat is serving a ‘rehab’ sentence under a new identity in the deepest depths of rural nowhere.

Kay Mahon, office worker by day and hacker by night, is on the run from a past life that he’d rather not remember.

When their paths cross, they discover that the night that derailed Cat’s future nineteen long years ago also changed the path of Kay’s life. Confused and intrigued, they begin to investigate the truth behind the deaths of the successful rock star couple Jackie and Adam Hope. Little do they know that their quest is putting Cat in grave danger.

After Cat goes missing, Kay finally puts the pieces together. But how is he going to find Cat and her abductor in a place as big as London before it is too late?

BUY LINKS

Amazon Kindle UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dead-Hope-thrilling-suspense-romance-ebook/dp/B06WD89J1V/

Paperback UK: http://amzn.to/2lh5ZT8

Amazon Kindle US: https://www.amazon.com/Dead-Hope-thrilling-suspense-romance-ebook/dp/B06WD89J1V/

Paperback US: http://amzn.to/2kGKJaK

 

ABOUT NICKY WELLS

Author Nicky Wells

About Nicky Wells: Love & Thrills 

Nicky Wells writes captivating romance and breathtaking thrillers featuring famous (or infamous!) feisty heroes and extraordinary villains. DEAD HOPE is her eighth book and the first published novel in her “Wake Up Dead” themed thriller series, with the next two books scheduled for release through the course of 2017 and 2018. Nicky has previously published seven works of romantic fiction both with US publishing house, Sapphire Star Publishing, and independently. 

Born in Germany, Nicky moved to the United Kingdom in 1993 and currently lives in Lincoln with her husband and their two boys. She loves listening to rock music, dancing, and eating lobsters. When she’s not writing, she’s hopelessly addicted to reading crime novels by the truck load. 

 Nicky all the best with your new genre and books and thanks so much for being here today, it’s been a blast!

Do leave Nicky your comments and she’ll drop in and answer them all through this week.

Jane x

DEAD HOPE Links

KINDLE

UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dead-Hope-thrilling-suspense-romance-ebook/dp/B06WD89J1V/

US: https://www.amazon.com/Dead-Hope-thrilling-suspense-romance-ebook/dp/B06WD89J1V/

PAPERBACK:

UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dead-Hope-Nicky-Wells/dp/1542376157/

US: https://www.amazon.com/Dead-Hope-Nicky-Wells/dp/1542376157/

NICKY’S BOOKS:

Sophie’s Turn | Sophie’s Run | Sophie’s Encore | Spirits of Christmas

| Fallen for Rock | Fairy Tale in New York | Seven Years Bad Sex 

JOIN NICKY:

Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon | Goodreads | Pinterest | Google+

GIVEAWAY

Prize 1: £10.00 Amazon voucher and 1 signed bookmark

Prize 2: £5.00 Amazon voucher and 1 pen

Prize 3: 1 mug, 1 signed bookmark, 1 pen

Prize 4: 1 mug

5 runner up prizes: signed bookmarks

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/4be03017215/?

 

Dead Hope Giveaways

Dead Hope Giveaways                                                                                                                                                                     Blog Tour Dates: 27th February
Brook Cottage Books
–  Celtic Connexions
Victoria’s Pages of Romance
Date: 28th February
Best Chick Lit
Date: 1st March
Jo Lambert
Date: 2nd March
– Rachel Brimble
– Ali The Dragon Slayer
– Read Along With Sue
Date: 3rd March
Simona’s Corner of Dreams
Comet Babes Books
Date: 6th March
Vikbat
Date: 7th March
Coral McCallum
Date: 8th March
Pauline Barclay
A Chance to Blog
Date: 9th March
– Jane Ridson
Date: 10th March
Fiction Dreams
Rachel’s Random Reads

 JB Johnston (Debbie Johnston)
Writer, Book Reviewer, promoter and Book tour coordinator.
Shortlisted for Romance Blogger of the Year 2013 (Festival of Romance)Brook Cottage Books  LinkedIn   Facebook Twitter Author Services

Kedleston Hall – more photos from my ‘jolly.’ Part two: Peacock dresses, Eastern Museums and more…

Kedleston Hall Derbyshire (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Kedleston Hall Derbyshire (c) Jane Risdon 2016

I know this is my Author Blog about my writing and with guest authors, but every now and again I think it is nice to share some of my little trips – what I call ‘Jollies,’ to some of the fabulous houses, gardens, countryside, villages, churches and cathedrals in England.

So here I am sharing a ‘Jolly’ with you all.

My visit to Kedleston Hall

last year was a wonderful experience and I wish I could have spent longer there.

Displayed in the Eastern Museum (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Displayed in the Eastern Museum (c) Jane Risdon 2016

The house is beautiful and so are the grounds, but there is also a fabulous collection of artefacts inside, some of which I managed to photograph as well.

Since I didn’t have room to post more photos on Part One of my ‘jolly’ to Kedleston, I’ve decided to continue with Part Two.

‘Grant me ye Gods, a pleasant seat,

In attick elegance made neat,

Fine lawns. much wood, and water plenty,

(Of deer and herds, and flocks not scanty)

Laid out in such an uncurb’d taste,

That nature mayn’t be lost but grac’d.’

In his youth the 1st Lord Scarsdale dreamt of creating such an idyllic landscape at Kedleston, and with Robert Adams help, he succeeded.

The park is man-made but looks completely natural.

It was created almost completely to Adam’s unique design at the same time he worked on the house.

Lord Curzon was fascinated by art and architecture, and accumulated his collection of Eastern artefacts during his tours of Asia in 1887,1890 and 1894 and whilst Viceroy of India, 1899-1905.

Kedleston Hall front view (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Kedleston Hall front view (c) Jane Risdon 2016

The Library (c) Jane Risdon 2016

The Library (c) Jane Risdon 2016

 

Front view from Kedleston Hall (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Front view from Kedleston Hall (c) Jane Risdon 2016

As per his Will, he divided his collection between the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the museum he created at Kedleston – The Eastern Museum.

The Eastern Museum (c) Jane Risdon 2016

The Eastern Museum (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Some of the items I saw on display reminded me of artefacts my own Grandfather brought back from India where he served with the British Indian Army from about 1927 until Partition in 1947. 

When I was a little girl I was fascinated by some of his wonderful carved tables,

ornaments and rugs for the walls;  too many amazing items to list here.

I can recall the smell of the wood (camphor, I think) that filled the rooms of his house.

I could smell the same smell in the Eastern Museum.

Centrepiece of the Eastern Museum is a dress worn by Mary, Lady Curzon in 1903.

The Peacock Dress worn by Lady Curzon at the Dehli Durbar in 1903. (c) Jane Risdon 2016

The Peacock Dress worn by Lady Curzon at the Dehli Durbar in 1903. (c) Jane Risdon 2016

It is famous and is known as The Peacock Dress.

She wore it to the evening ball which followed the Coronation of Durbar in Delhi 1903 – the high point of Curzon’s term as Viceroy.

The dress was embroidered by Indian craftsmen with metal thread and jewels on cloth of gold in the pattern of a peacock’s feathers, so that it would glisten in a room lit by electricity.

The dress was acquired by HM Government in lieu of Inheritance Tax when her daughter died.

Ivory Furniture (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Ivory Furniture (c) Jane Risdon 2016

In the Eastern Museum (c) Jane Risdon 2016

In the Eastern Museum (c) Jane Risdon 2016

In the Eastern Museum (c) Jane Risdon 2016

In the Eastern Museum (c) Jane Risdon 2016

The Trophy Corridor was originally an arcade, glazed and made wider by Lord Curzon who hung his game trophies there and  displayed his natural history specimens.

In the Trophy Corridor (c) Jane Risdon 2016

In the Trophy Corridor (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Lord Curzon also had a collection of taxidermy. Delightful!

In the Dining Room (c) Jane Risdon 2016

In the Dining Room (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Collection of feathers (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Collection of feathers (c) Jane Risdon 2016

From the Eastern Museum (c) Jane Risdon 2016

From the Eastern Museum (c) Jane Risdon 2016                                                                                 

Door with hidden hinges Kedleston Hall (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Door with hidden hinges Kedleston Hall (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Chair from Trophy Corridor (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Chair from Trophy Corridor (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Every room had something of interest but there wasn’t much information of the printed variety. Each room was occupied by a person knowledgeable enough to explain everything on view and to answer many questions. My companions were particularly interested in the way the doors were made, how the furnishing were crafted, and asked many questions to which they sometimes received very complex answers which thankfully made total sense to the gentleman asking. One question involved the door shown which does not have any visible hinges. I wish I could recall how it was done, but after about ten minutes of detailed discussion I am afraid my mind glazed over. It was fascinating but it got a bit too technical for me.

From the Trophy Corridor (c) Jane Risdon 2016

From the Trophy Corridor (c) Jane Risdon 2016                                                                                                                                                                                      There is also a lovely church right next to the house and in my next post I will post my photos and some information about it so do come back soon.  Let me know what you think so far…                                                                     All Photos (c) Jane Risdon 2016 All Rights Reserved.                                                     

Margot Kinberg, Mystery Author, Blogger and Academic, is my Guest Author today: Her second appearance

Margot Kinberg,:Mystery Author Blogger and Assistant Professor

Margot Kinberg: Mystery Author Blogger and Associate Professor

Today I am excited to present

Mystery Author Margot Kinberg

as my guest.

This is her second appearance here.

She is the only author I’ve hosted twice.

Welcome Margot, do tell us what you have been up to since your last visit here:

Thanks so much for hosting me, Jane.

It’s my pleasure.

The publishing journey never quite works out the way we think it will. Ask any author, and you’ll hear that things often don’t go as planned. But sometimes, just when things seem to be going all wrong, something good comes of it all.

That’s basically what happened with my third Joel Williams novel, Past Tense. Let me tell you about it, and you’ll see what I mean.

Past Tense, A Joel Williams Mystery by Margot Kinberg

Past Tense, A Joel Williams Mystery by Margot Kinberg

A few years ago, I began work on what I thought was a very promising Joel Williams story. I had the characters, scenes, everything sketched out, and I was busily writing the first draft. I was optimistic about the plot, and I did like the main characters.

Then came disaster.

My hard drive died. Completely.

I had several things backed up on memory sticks, but not the novel.

I sent the drive to a data recovery firm, and they did recover bits and pieces of the novel, but not anything useful, really.

Word to the wise: if you don’t already have an account with Carbonite or another data backup company, today is the day to get one.

I learned my lesson the hard way.

As I said, though, good really did come out of the whole situation. Since I didn’t have my original story any more, I had to start anew.

That meant I had to re-think everything.

And that was a good thing. The result of beginning again was Past Tense.

A bit of my original idea found its way into Past Tense. Both stories are about past murders that come to light years later. And I do think Past Tense benefited from my having sketched out the earlier novel (I may yet return to that original cast of characters). So, in that sense, losing my data actually ended up making my writing better – well, in a strange, roundabout sort of way.

So, besides that lost novel, what inspired Past Tense?

I’ve always thought ‘cold cases’ were fascinating. They require an entirely different sort of approach to solving contemporary cases, and the police can’t rely on the same sources of information that they tap for current cases.

Even if ‘cold case’ witnesses are still alive, and still willing to cooperate, time does have an impact on their memories. There’s also the issue of forensics and other identification challenges.

But ‘cold cases’ are at least as important as current cases. That’s especially so for those who’ve lost loved ones and have never had the closure that comes with knowing the truth. And, for me, one of the most important aspects of any murder case, real or fictional, is the impact it has on the people involved.

Put that all together, and you have the reason I wanted to include a ‘cold case’ in my Joel Williams series.

What about the historical context?

The focus of Past Tense is a murder that took place in 1974.

The mid-1970s were pivotal years for US college campuses.

Many social issues (e.g. women’s place in society, the Vietnam War, race relations) were being debated. Student activism was an important part of campus life.

The Watergate scandal that brought down the Nixon administration made many people question what they were being told by those in authority.

With everything going on, it was, to say the least, an eventful time for colleges and universities, and a time of great change. So, what better time period for a ‘cold case’ sort of story?

With that background, here’s the blurb for Past Tense:

A long-buried set of remains…a decades-old mystery

Past and present meet on the quiet campus of Tilton University when construction workers unearth a set of unidentified bones.

For former police detective-turned-professor Joel Williams, it’s a typical Final Exams week – until a set of bones is discovered on a construction site…

When the remains are linked to a missing person case from 1974, Williams and the Tilton, Pennsylvania police go back to the past. And they uncover some truths that have been kept hidden for a long time.

How much do people really need to know?

It’s 1974, and twenty-year-old Bryan Roades is swept up in the excitement of the decade. He’s a reporter for the Tilton University newspaper, The Real Story, and is determined to have a career as an investigative journalist, just like his idols, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.

He plans to start with an exposé article about life on the campus of Tilton University. But does everything need to be exposed? And what are the consequences for people whose lives could be turned upside down if their stories are printed? 

As it turns out, Bryan’s ambition carries a very high price. And someone is determined not to let the truth out.

If you’d like to listen to an excerpt from Past Tense, it’s right here.

As you can see, the journey to publication for Past Tense was a bit rocky, especially at the start. But the end result was, I think, a lot better than it might have been if I hadn’t had to re-think the novel.

Sometimes, it takes a step or two back to help a person move forwards.

Thanks again, Jane, for hosting me!

Margot it has been my pleasure. Thanks so much.

I love reading about the publishing journey other authors have undertaken.

None of the trials and tribulations in achieving a published book is apparent to a reader when they turn the first page of something which has taken blood, sweat, and tears to write and get on the shelves. 

Reading about your hard-drive problems and your having to write the book again from scratch rings so many bells with me, and others I am sure.

I’ve just completed two books which have taken forever to get finished – after many re-writes – and to my Publisher much longer after I’d intended, I know exactly how you felt when confronted with the loss of your work.

I am so happy you managed to complete Past Tense which I am reading and thoroughly enjoying at the moment.

It is especially enjoyable for me as you touch on Forensics and DNA and, as you may well have guessed, I love anything scientific to do with crime.

I do hope those visiting here and reading your guest post, will dash over to Amazon and purchase Past Tense. They won’t regret it I am sure. I am loving it.

In A Word: Murder - Margot Kinberg and others

In A Word: Murder – Margot Kinberg and others

Early in my writing adventure Margot kindly accepted two stories from me for inclusion in the Anthology, In A Word: Murder and I am forever grateful to her for giving me the opportunity to share my stories alongside her and so many other talented authors. 

Links are on Amazon for the Paperback and e-Book editions.

I hope everyone enjoys reading about Margot and her writing and that you’ll leave her any comments or questions you might have for her in the usual manner.

If you’d like to read her earlier Guest Post with me: A Day in the Life of Joel Williams, here is the link:

https://janerisdon.wordpress.com/2015/04/29/margot-kinberg-is-my-guest-author-today-mystery-author-and-blogger

BIO

Margot Kinberg is a mystery novelist who writes the Joel Williams series. She is also the editor of In a Word: Murder, an anthology of short crime stories. She has also written several non-fiction books and articles. Margot is also an Associate Professor, who’s been working in higher education since 1988. You can connect with Margot at her blog Confessions of a Mystery Novelist, where you can read her daily posts on crime fiction and find out more about the Joel Williams series. Margot’s also on Twitter, on Facebook and on Google+. You can also read her short crime fiction stories on Wattpad.

B-Very-Flat by Margot Kinberg

B-Very-Flat by Margot Kinberg

                      

Publish or Perish by Margot Kinberg

Publish or Perish by Margot Kinberg

Ms Birdsong Investigates: inspired by Assassination with Polonium-210 and A Family Wedding: I’ve written The End.

Cob Web Cottage where Ms Birdsong lives in Ampney Parva

Cob Web Cottage where Ms Birdsong lives in Ampney Parva – her dream home.

Things rarely go as planned I’ve discovered. When they go haywire, where I am concerned anyway, they go seriously haywire.

 Four years ago I started writing the first novel in what I planned to be a series of novels,

an epic undertaking for me in so many ways, orginally I wanted it to be about a 

former MI5 Officer, Lavinia Birdsong,

and she was going to be a Miss Marple for the 21st century and I happily wrote my first story to fit this idea.

But, I kept having a niggling feeling that she wasn’t fulfilling my expectations for her, yet I couldn’t put my finger on how to rectify this.

Thames House home of MI5 (c) attributed to Cnbrb English Language Wikipedia

Thames House home of MI5 (c) attributed to Cnbrb English Language Wikipedia

Her back story was of someone who’d been working for twenty years with the dream of one day, perhaps, becoming only the second woman to take over as Director General of MI5.

She aspired to be the next Stella Rimington. 

However, after a failed operation with her MI6 partner, Michael Dante, Lavinia finds herself ‘voluntarily’ retired and Dante posted to Moscow.

Lavinia moves to a rural village – somewhere she’d dreamed of eventually retiring to, but not quite so soon – and boredom is nearly driving her nuts. She misses her old life, the adrenaline surges and knowledge that she is doing her bit to keep Britain safe…

The White Horse at Uffington in The Vale of The White Horse

The White Horse at Uffington in The Vale of The White Horse

I continued to write her story but I wasn’t happy.

Then everything changed. I was going to re-write her and she’d be very different.

The new

Ms Birdsong Investigates

popped in to my head one day when I was watching the BBC News about the Assassination in London in November 2006, of the former Russian Spy,

Alexander Litinenko.

Those who follow such matters will recall he had taken tea in a London hotel with two former FSB (Federal Security Service – formerly known as KGB) defectors before falling sick with what was eventually found to be the effects of poisoning with Polonium-210, traces were later found in  the tea, and all over London and on an aeroplane – wherever the two men had been. 

There is a lot about this poor man on the internet if interested, do go and look.

I have no idea why his plight inspired me, I hadn’t any plans to write a Spy novel,

and I haven’t  written a Spy novel,

but something went ping in my brain and I sat down to write about someone – a woman – who worked and lived in the world of Espionage and Organised Crime.

A new Ms Birdsong was unfolding on the page.

I am sure you know that way back in my younger days I worked at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, at a time known as The Cold War when The Soviet Union (USSR) and The West were engaged in a power struggle.

I/we lived through interesting times.

Since then I’ve been fascinated by our Secret Intelligence Services (SIS) and those of other Nations.

We no longer have a Cold War as such. I call what we have today a Phoney Tepid War, which may well be ratcheted up by recent events. Today the worlds of Espionage and Organised Crime have grown and become intertwined often.

We (The West) now suspect ‘unfriendly’ Governments of engaging in the procurement and sale of arms to our enemies, often funded by the illegal manufacture and sale of Drugs and the earnings of the People Trafficking and Sex industries. 

I am in no way an expert on any of this but I am interested as I said, and as I mulled over the idea for Ms Birdsong, I had no idea that writing my series was going to be such an epic undertaking.

By the end of 2012 I’d more or less got book one – Ms Birdsong Investigates Murder in Ampney Parva – near to completion. Very rough around the edges, but the basic story was there.

I’d moved in the early Spring and had put off doing a lot of things which needed attention after the move, to deal with Ms B and also with family matters.  Plus the move had resulted in a temporary loss of reliable internet for a few months, so I thought I’d pick up where I’d left off with her after Christmas.

You’ve heard of the saying,’ Never put off until tomorrow, what you can do today…’

Boxing Day 2012 changed my life in so many ways I have only just realised and come to terms with. I fell down some stairs and broke my shoulder and collar-bone so awkwardly my surgeon thought I’d either been in Afghanistan on active duty, or had come off a Harley Davidson doing a ‘ton.’

He’d never seen such injuries on a woman and not one of my age, so he – jokingly – asked if I’d done any of the former, because the only time he’d seen such injuries was as a result of young men doing the latter. He is not only a Professor in his given field, but also an Army Colonel, so I guess he knew what he was taking about when I eventually saw him in 2013.

Little did I realise how my life had changed. I eventually had an operation on my shoulder and collar-bone in late 2014. Until then my left arm was virtually useless, so writing was very painful and difficult for me, let alone any of the normal day-to-day things one does using ones arm. After the operation I was still unable to use my arm fully and, even today, I have limited use. It gets painful and tired if I over-do things.

Yes I know,

Ms Birdsong was taking way too long.

The 'Safe House' book three Ms Birdsong Investigates (c) Jane Risdon 2013

The ‘Safe House’ book three Ms Birdsong Investigates (c) Jane Risdon 2013

I’ve been working on Ms Birdsong almost constantly, the research I’ve undertaken has been considerable and not at all what I imagined I’d need to do to write her stories.

 I was happily writing my first Ms B novel when I attended a family wedding in 2013 in a very grand stately home, in the depths of the countryside. 6,000 acres of fabulous farmland, fields, woods and formal gardens. To die for.

View across The Vale of The White Horse (c) Jane Risdon 2011

Views across the Vale of The White Horse from White Horse Hill (c) Jane Risdon 2011

Anyway I won’t ramble on – I’ve written about it in a earlier blog – here is the link:

       http://wp.me/p2dg55-Dz

But suffice to say that my experiences there also contributed to the new direction Ms Birdsong was taking especially for her next outing:

Ms Birdsong Investigates: The safe House

I’ve also started another book in the series: Ms Birdsong Investigates: Murder at the Observatory.

The Observatory Science Centre, Herstmonceux. (c) 2010 Science Projects Ltd.

The Observatory Science Centre, Herstmonceux. (c) 2010 Science Projects Ltd.

But the good news, news I seriously wondered I’d be sharing is that

yesterday I wrote

THE END

for the first book in the series Ms Birdsong Investigates: Murder in Ampney Parva.

It will be on its way to my publishers on Monday.

I shall be back hard at work with the other two books immediately afterwards.

Watch this space.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve been at it again – Eternal Lovers: Ghostly Writes Valentines Anthology 2017 – it’s FREE

I’ve been at it again.

Ghostly Writes Valentines Anthology 2017

Ghostly Writes Valentines Anthology 2017

This time I have contributed a short story for

Ghostly Writes Valentines Anthology 2017

published by Plaisted Publishing House, New Zealand.

As with all my stories it isn’t what you think it is – just saying!

FREE to download from 14th Feb 2017

To read a preview:

From Amazon where it is on sale in several countries and the information on each site can be translated into several languages with the click of your mouse.

(too cool for words)

http://amzn.eu/7REUXmz

A PAPERBACK will be published for sale, soon.       

My short story is called

Eternal Lovers.

Eternal Lovers, Ghostly Writes Valentines Anthology 2017 available 14th Feb 2017 FREE

Eternal Lovers, Ghostly Writes Valentines Anthology 2017 available 14th Feb 2017 FREE

It is set in a 5o room Manor house situated in 6,000 acres of forest, field and formal gardens.

ballroom-2027581_1280-vintage

coach-2027207_1280

It is a romance (I know I don’t do romance), but not as you know it.

If you are familiar with my efforts you’ll know that there won’t be anything ‘usual’ about this romantic tale.

heart-1896090_1280-purple

I don’t want to give the story away; suffice to say it features Oil paintings and Music.

wine-cellar-573831

And there’s a …well, I won’t spoil it.

Crispin's CAr

Crispin’s Car

You will be able to buy it in Paperback soon but until then you an download it FREE from Kobo, Amazon, iTunes and more…it’s even in several languages on iTunes and Amazon. So cool.

If you download it and read the stories do let me and the other authors know what you think.

Including me the authors are:

Ghostly Writes, C. A. Keith, Audrina Lane, Karen J Mossman, Adele Marie Park, Lynn Mullian, Jennifer Deese and Kyrena Lynch, Jane Risdon

Here are some of the links for your FREE download.

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-ghostly-writes-valentines-anthology-2017-adele-marie-park/1125781351

http://www.inktera.com/store/title/b95538e4-d6ed-4cdd-b2ce-94d06e013c57

https://www.scribd.com/book/339220666/The-Ghostly-Writes-Valentines-Anthology-2017

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1205740877

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/book/id1205740877

https://itunes.apple.com/au/book/id1205740877

https://itunes.apple.com/jp/book/id1205740877

https://itunes.apple.com/fr/book/id1205740877

https://itunes.apple.com/br/book/id1205740877

https://itunes.apple.com/de/book/id1205740877

https://itunes.apple.com/nl/book/id1205740877

https://itunes.apple.com/es/book/id1205740877

https://itunes.apple.com/mx/book/id1205740877

https://itunes.apple.com/it/book/id1205740877

https://www.kobo.com/nz/en/ebook/the-ghostly-writes-valentines-anthology-2017

https://www.amazon.nl/dp/B06WRR3KN8

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06WRR3KN8

 
 
 
 
 

YouTube:

The Paperback will be published soon. Watch this space for links to purchase.

 

vintage-lady

David Cousland: Self-published writer of mysteries and more, is my guest author today

David Cousland

David Cousland

The Black Country Murders

The Black Country Murders

David Cousland

is my guest author today and I thought I’d ask him to tell us about his route to writing and self-publishing.

Do take a look at his work which is available on Amazon. 

David, welcome and thanks for agreeing to chat to me and everyone. 

Please tell us about yourself, your background and former occupation.

I see your Dad was a bespoke tailor and that due to colour blindness you couldn’t follow him into the business:

Thanks Jane, great to be here.

I was born in 1950 in the heart of the industrial West Midlands (The Black Country), my early life spent in Tipton and Dudley.

I was educated at Dudley Grammar School where in retrospect I was one of those pupils who “must try harder / does not apply himself” and so on.

Despite being partially colour blind I managed to achieve a Grade One pass in my Art “O” level, thank goodness for modern art back in the 60s.

My father was a craftsman, a bespoke tailor and would probably have liked me to follow in his footsteps but colour blindness would never have allowed me to do that.

However, I did have a part-time job for 18 months in John Collier Menswear when customers would often ask “does this tie go with this suit?” and so on.

My regular answer was “it looks fine to me”, in my world every colour goes with every other, it’s never been much of a problem to me but drives others crazy.

The Portofino Incident

The Portofino Incident

I joined Midland Bank in 1967 and worked my way up to the heady heights of managing a team within the plastic card world and took early retirement at 53 when our entire department was closed down.

I was a white van man for a year and a carer for my mum for two more.

Since then my golf has finally had chance to take more of my time and effort and my handicap is very slowly reducing.

Married for a second time after being widowed in 2005, I have two daughters and three grandchildren. They certainly add a different dimension to life.

Other than golf I love music although have no talent to play or sing whatsoever.

I’m an old rocker but happy to listen to most styles from rock music to classical and love Led Zep; Pink Floyd; Moody Blues and Rick Wakeman to Andrea Bocelli. Heather Headley and Cher would be at the top of my ‘ladies list’ and have been lucky enough to see both.

I love travel and have been fortunate to visit many different places from Hawaii to Hong Kong. Sharing a breakfast room in Hong Kong with The All Blacks must be a highlight.

 Have you always wanted to write, and if so, have you written all your life – for your own enjoyment/with a view to publication? Were you a late developer and if so why?

I was very much a late developer, with work and family there was little time for leisure, for many years, other than football and cricket, my girls’ youth marching bands took all of my time.

I never harboured ambitions to be a writer and only started when I couldn’t sleep one night. My head was full of a story and I needed to write it down.

Despite revisiting and reworking that one a number of times it still remains on my “to do” list. Having worked in banking for most of my life, looking back there was never an opportunity to use my imagination. I’m catching up rapidly.

 Describe your genre – or do you write in several?

I still consider myself a beginner and finding my feet, I have tried a number of genres and continue to look at almost anything.

Black Country Murders was ‘my patch’ the area I grew up in but everything else was fictional.

I have a 3 book series with a secret agent, Matt Stewart (Crack) – ready sometime soon; Wes Griffin in “The Water Carrier” is a private detective set in the 60s; “Faces of Ashwood Court” my first horror story and so on.

The Faces of Ashwood Court

The Faces of Ashwood Court

The Water Carrier

The Water Carrier

I’m part was through a sci-fi / fantasy story; another murder story set in Birmingham and will be planning a 4th Matt Stewart book soon. On balance I’m tending to favour the Agent – action type of story more and more.

I enjoy making my characters flawed, they may get the correct answer but may not always have a clue why or sometimes a team colleague will figure it out.

 What/who inspires/inspired you to write in your chosen genre?

Alistair MacLean / Ian Fleming. I’ve always loved this type of story even Flint / Matt Helm films of the 60s. Loved watching Michael Crawford as Condor Man with my girls and there’s another inspiration.

I loved reading MacLean too, and enjoyed the Matt Helm and In Like Flint movies back in the day. Such fun David.

 Who are your favourite authors and why?

MacLean because of his variety, action, suspense and his knowledge.

Thor Heyerdahl has been a favourite since I was a youngster. I loved reading about his back to nature and back to history adventures, Kon-Tiki; Rah; Fatu Hiva and so on. Cricket biographies are always of interest too.

 I notice that some of your publications are 5 pages long and others over 100 pages long. Fascinating.

So you consider yourself a short story writer?

When I first started out, my stories varied in length so much. I enjoy writing a quick short story but have realised that a reader is looking for value for money as well as wanting to be entertained and gripped by a story.

Carnage at Clifton Court

Carnage at Clifton Court

Nowadays, I wouldn’t publish anything below 10,000 words.

 Do you have plans to write a full length novel?

Although I still enjoy writing a short story of anything up to 20,000 words

I think I’ve found the right length for me to be between 40 and 70,000 words, Novella length.

 I don’t know if your read James Patterson at all, but of late he has published several very short books – I think he calls them ‘Short Shots’ and they are available for about £1.50.

A relative has read them and she loves them, just long enough for a bus ride, or to read in bed before falling asleep apparently.

Is this what your shorter length intend to do, be a quick read?

The short stories I’ve written in recent years have usually been 1000 words or less and almost a distraction from whatever else I’m working on. Part way through one story, something else pops into my head and bingo. I may post it to Facebook or just hold on to it. Short stories are great for “reading” events.

I have been fortunate enough to attend several author events at my local library.

It’s a great opportunity to meet new authors and also those already established and when they also read from their books, that is special I always think.

You published your first book in 2013 – what made you decide to self-publish?

Had you considered submitting to publishing houses or was it your intention to do it yourself?

I had an expensive and bad experience with my first two books, I employed a publisher for my first story with no knowledge of the business whatsoever and paid out £500 for the privilege.

I used the same people to do the same work for my second (Face of the Viking).

Faces of Viking

Face of the Viking

The story was very much an English story and they translated the lot into American English. It took me a month to re-format and translate back during which time I attempted to self-publish one of my shorts (Faces of Ashwood Court) and discovered that I could do it all myself (with a little outside help).

Hindsight is great and so is talking to other authors for their experiences. I’m currently looking for a publisher as having ‘real paper books’ opens more doors and hopefully creates more sales opportunities.

Did you seek advice/help from other self-published authors? How did you go about the process? Did you use a specific programme to format and upload your work?

Initially – no as I didn’t know any at that time, but I do talk to many more these days. Having said that, quite a few of them are very secretive and will tell you – nothing. Others are much more helpful, thank you Jane xx

I’ve used Word until now but have just purchased a MacBook. It is so different, I guess I’ll understand more in the coming months.

Amazon is quite helpful with self-publishing but I do get so frustrated with technology and always want to finish before I really get started.

How do you work?  Do you have an office/allotted space for writing?

 Computer/typewriter/long-hand – how do you put your words down?

Always on my computer. Have you seen my handwriting?

I have the lap top / MacBook on an old tray of my mum’s and tend to work in the lounge or conservatory.

 Do you have a favourite time of day and do you write every day and for how long?

I’m a morning person, often up at or before 6:00. Having worked in the plastic card business where deadlines were key, these days I never impose them on myself.

I love playing golf and will often go for days without writing a word and then put down four / five thousand per day for the next week.

Do you do a lot of research? I see you know the West Midlands well, and your stories are set there, such as The Black Country Murders, set in 1958.

The landscape and towns must have changed a great deal since then.

Do you use old photos to aid you?

And do you plan and make notes, elaborate graphs and write a rough outline of the story you are going to write, or do you fly by the seat of your pants and write at the keyboard – as it comes?

My locations are a mix of real and fictional.

Actual locations are based either on my own knowledge from my youth/travelling/holidays etc.,

but almost always with the help of Google Earth or Maps and fictional are often close to a real location.

Old photos are fabulous if/when you can find them.

The Water Carrier is set in 1960’s Norton Crest, a fictional village north of and near to York and Harrogate.

Ha, seat of my pants mostly.

I can start a story and have an idea of the ending but more often than not the middle part wanders and has to be brought back in to line.

The Michaelangelo Legacy

The Michaelangelo Legacy

My Michelangelo Legacy (Portrait of Francesca) was different, I knew where that was heading right from the start, loved creating the story and the mystery throughout.

I discovered that the number 13 fitted the story and used it as the base for my calculations.

The years in between given dates and events are all multiples of 13 – check them out, maybe Michelangelo already did.

Anastas is an erotic horror story and grew from the opening chapter but I always had a plan, albeit unwritten.

 Where do you get your inspiration?

Do you get an idea and the rest follows or do you find your stories from Newspapers, News broadcasts, or from over-hearing conversations and so on?

“I Don’t Like Decaf” came from a conversation at a wedding.

A friend complained that her hubby always got her coffee wrong, she spoke those very words and I said – “That sounds like a book title.”

A good photograph or painting will portray a powerful image and yes, it can generate the beginning of a story. Michelangelo’s David was the inspiration for that story.

I guess my imagination took 60+ years to wake up.

 Who is your favourite author and why?

These days I love Rebecca Branch’s work.

She writes lengthy stories in her “Art Historian” series, in “Summer of 71” she takes you on tours of Ancient and Modern Rome and develops her characters and the relationships between them, and when you least expect it she hits you with some of the most erotic passages I’ve ever read.

I became a friend through Facebook, so maybe I’m a little biased. She’s different and copies no-one.

 If you had to liken your writing to a successful author, who might that be and why?

Crikey, a tough question and I don’t have a clue.

We all know people like to give writers labels/put us into boxes:

I would love to be a modern-day Alistair MacLean but those days are a long way off, I have neither his talent nor ability but I’ll keep trying.

 Have you done any personal appearances?

I mentioned earlier how wonderful it was for me to have authors visit my local library and give talks and readings.

How do you get your own publicity or do you employ someone? 

I’ve had five reading slots at Church/men’s/ladies groups and so on and have a booking at a Rotary Club function in a month or so.

On Sunday (29th Jan) I had an hour at the first Wolverhampton Literary Festival

and I am already working on getting an invitation to be there in 2018.

Publicity is tough, with relatively small numbers of book sales to generate income to cover costs, paying for publicity is yet another expense to add.

You have had some really great reviews and some 5* reviews too.

One or two have suggested your thrillers would make great movies. Pick one of your books and tell us who you would like to play your lead character and why?

I’m so grateful for the reviews, readers do not have to say anything but when they do, it is heart-warming. I do have a mental picture of “Black Country Murders” making a six part TV series (dream on) – my lead character needs to age by fifteen years, how about Neil Morrissey?

There’s no reason by you shouldn’t write the screenplay and send it to him!

“I Don’t Like Decaf” I can picture as a stage play, Rachel would have to be a sexy thirty year old such as Jenna-Louise Coleman.

 Please list your publications and tell us something about each one:

Coming soon – Two more Matt Stewart stories:

The Portofino Incident  

Carnage at Clifton Court

Already published:

Barclay's Losing Hand

Barclay’s Losing Hand

Barclay’s Losing Hand   (Short Story)

In the end it was more straightforward than I had anticipated. I simply marched in, took the business from under his nose and finished him. The summary of a murder, revenge is sweet for the glamorous, sexy and deadly Cara Alessandro. Her father’s trial was a farce, those responsible would face her wrath, one man was wholly responsible and he was going to pay.

Anastas and the Black Rose   (Novella)

Anastas and the Black Rose

Anastas and the Black Rose

Anastas is one of an exclusive family, the Serpentés – a family with many secrets and powers. She wants revenge to correct wrongs of a century ago. With her man and her beautiful but deadly nieces at her side she cannot fail but will she have the time to complete her tasks? A semi-erotic tale of tortured killings, horrible cruel deaths and fulfilment for all concerned. Join the realms of part human, part serpents and hiss your enjoyment and appreciation.

The Water Carrier: A Wes Griffin Mystery   (Novella)

Wes Griffin a Private Detective hired by Melanie to find her father. A story of attempted murder, intrigue, family mistrust and a hidden past life. Rare and valuable antique vases stolen from the Emperor’s Palace in Tokyo along with a statue during the 64 Olympics. Arnie Cook building an empire in gangland London in 1966 and a blossoming affair make this a tangled web, but who is at the centre? Who’s waiting to pounce?

Sarah Marshall’s Double Quest   (Short Story)

Sarah Marshall was a lady with a mission. She needs a man, a particular, special man and has £20million as the carrot to dangle in front of him. Will he take the bait, will she land her catch? Will they make it to Rio? What is the twist? Read their fascinating story.

I Don’t Drink Decaf   (Novella)

Can bringing the wrong coffee be a reason for murder? It can if it is the final straw. Augusta and Diana have had enough of their husbands. The very deadly but sexy and glamorous Rachel can offer a way out, for a price. Rachel has had more sexual experiences than most, she has the body for every occasion and makes use of it. Will the men be able to resist? Follow them from conspiracy to plans to action. Can it really work out?

Black Country Murders; The Killer on the Canal   (Novella)

The Black Country Murders

The Black Country Murders

Ruby Williams murdered on Christmas Eve, Barry and Anita killed after a dance, Willie Watson’s life taken at Dudley Zoo. What or who is the connection? How many more will there be before the murderer is caught? What will the final twist be? Read on ….

Scent of the Dragon Queen   (Novella)

Scent of the Dragon Queen

Scent of the Dragon Queen

“You’re too slow etc” were the words Matt (Crack) Stewart did not want to hear from his boss. Within a week his life has changed, a gorgeous, sexy new boss and team, investigation, deception, a traitor or two. The search begins, taking them from London to Hong Kong, mainland China to New Zealand. The needle in the haystack has to be found, but who and where? Who or what is the Dragon Queen? What is the scent? The beautiful Sophia and her new team cannot fail on their first mission. A “Crack” in the orient, a giant of a man, could he be the key to unlock the secrets?

The Michelangelo Legacy: A Portrait of Francesca   (Novella)

The Michaelangelo Legacy

The Michaelangelo Legacy

She could never have imagined that a simple glass of red wine would change her life forever. Her living portrait; David, a new man in her life; Florence; Arrezo; a sensuous and dramatic but all too brief encounter; impossibly making love at the bottom of her pool; twins. Her best friend’s revelations; it was nonsense or was it? Her world was out of control, turned upside down. What is the significance of the number thirteen?

The Wrong Man’s Ring   (Short Story)

The Wrong Man's Ring

The Wrong Man’s Ring

Crystal wakes as a married woman, but can’t remember anything about the wedding. Her husband is a multi-millionaire or more, but now he’s dead and Sgt Santos investigates. Who killed him, why? Read the story and discover the answers.

The Faces of Ashwood Court    (Short Story)

The Faces of Ashwood Court

The Faces of Ashwood Court

The Wainwright-Smiths’ home at Ashwood Court was not a place for the faint-hearted. For more than two centuries, family evil piled upon family evil, mysterious and horrendous deaths. A blood dripping sickle hung in the barn. Heads roamed at will, their faces would stop at nothing until …. A very funny tale of abuse of power, greed, murders and death.

Snake Eyes Allison   (Short Story)

Snake Eyes

Snake Eyes

A western with a difference.  One hot dusty afternoon a stranger walks into Mama Rita’s bar carrying a sack. Ridgeway needs to know what it contains; one hell of a shock and his last breath is what.

Face of the Viking  (Novella)

Faces of Viking

Face of  the Viking

Freya Campbell had often dreamt of becoming a model but had always been too shy or timid to try, the arrival of Stefan, a tall, good-looking, blond-haired Viking on a motorbike at the office door could change her life forever; her first real man and a love life perhaps, bright lights, fortune and fame with her face on the cover of magazines; the world was at her fingertips if she only had enough courage to go for it.

Overture for Revenge   (Short Story)

Overture for Revenge

Overture for Revenge

Friends and neighbours, Lucy Turner and Anna Henderson put all of their energy into music, their local festival featuring bands and orchestras from the south of England, was to be the final performance of the school year and they were determined to enjoy themselves. They could never have foreseen what was to follow their performance of the 1812 Overture, this was to be a night they would never forget.

 What plans do you have for future books? Anything in the pipeline?

Plenty of work in progress.

The Portofino Incident – A Second Matt Stewart Story is currently being proof read. 

The Portofino Incident

The Portofino Incident

Carnage at Clifton Court – Third in the Matt Stewart series has just been finished.

Carnage at Clifton Court

Carnage at Clifton Court

The Highwayman and The Princess An 8-year-old black girl rescued from the horrors of the slave trade in 1700 and brought to London. A chance encounter with a highwayman years later, he holds a passion / lust for her as well as his trade, can they have a future together?

The Valentine Murders. A young couple, (white solicitor married to a black nurse) the guy is murdered in the street, the court case is a shambles leaving Josie and Grandpa Valentine to take action of their own.

Contrastes and the Capture of Time – my first attempt at Sci-Fi / Fantasy and proving a challenge but an enjoyable one.

I have a vague outline of a 4th Matt Stewart story but nothing written yet.

 Do your stories feature the same detective and partner?

Matt Stewart yes in three books, his boss Sophia is a major character in The Dragon Queen but a minor character in the two (above). She may be back in book four.

Would you consider contributing towards an anthology at all?

Yes – sounds like fun, anything in the pipeline?

Just keep your eyes open, people are always looking for contributors here and on Facebook David,

I’ve found Social Media a great help for getting my work included.

 Would you consider writing with another author – co-written book?

Yes – I’ve co-written a lengthy story over some three months on Facebook with a Texan lady.

I appreciate it’s not the same but we worked well together and created a popular serial.

There you go, Social Media can introduce us to new people and opportunities.

 Do provide a short segment/example from one of your books for our readers to enjoy which will give us a flavour of your writing and style:

“Anastas and the Black Rose”

Anastas and the Black Rose

Anastas and the Black Rose

Anastas plans to acquire her former family home , nothing or no-one will stop her. S short spell cast on a second viewer will be the end of him, the agent is distraught.

“May I use your phone please Miss? I don’t have a signal and I’m afraid the old gentleman has had either a stroke or heart attack, he’s collapsed.”

Anastas took her phone from her handbag and handed it over after keying in her password – VESPA. As he dialled a number, she raised her body towards him a little, sliding her fingers in and out of her lace, patterned stocking tops and touching a suspender clasp. Although he could not fail to have noticed her womanly charms, the agent appeared too busy or shocked to look closely. She sighed, stood and placed her fingertip delicately below his chin, lifting his face to look at her.

“You won’t need it, it’s too late now,” She casually remarked, “and by the way, you should secure your phone, you have no password protection and I suggest you never let your wife read those text messages. Karen is rather delicious though I must agree, I can see the attraction.”

“What? How do you know anything about my phone?”

She smirked once again, raised her left eyebrow and ran her fingers along the side of his neck.

“He’s dead Charlie, very dead. You are wasting your time. Why don’t you just run along to Karen, she’s desperate for you to have her again– is that not so?”

Wow, that is going to whet some appetites to read more I am sure.

 Finally, David, please show links to your Facebook Author Page, Twitter, and Amazon Author Page with links to any other Social Media you use.

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/david.cousland

Amazon – www.amazon.com/David-Cousland/e/B00B73N79A

Linkedin – https://www.linkedin.com/in/david-cousland-28820817?trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile

Although I have a Twitter account, I don’t like it and never use it.

David, thanks so much for being my guest and for telling us so much about yourself and your writing. 

Do leave a comment for David after reading this. Every little helps and we all need feedback. Thanks.

I’ve really enjoyed having him as my first guest for 2017.

For anyone interested in reading David’s books,  here are the links to where to buy them.

https://www.amazon.com/Barclays-Losing-Hand-Cousland-David-ebook/dp/B01LX9BUBG/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

https://www.amazon.com/Water-Carrier-Wes-Griffin-Mystery-ebook/dp/B015545HEY/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

https://www.amazon.com/Sarah-Marshalls-Double-Quest-Cousland-ebook/dp/B00TVL5TXC/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Drink-Decaf-David-Cousland-ebook/dp/B00RI1GITG/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

https://www.amazon.com/Michelangelo-Legacy-Portrait-Francesca-ebook/dp/B00J6ANGY2/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

https://www.amazon.com/Scent-Dragon-Queen-David-Cousland-ebook/dp/B00JEIFH7K/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

https://www.amazon.com/Black-Country-Murders-Killer-Canal-ebook/dp/B00OJI0Q80/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

https://www.amazon.com/Wrong-Mans-Ring-David-Cousland-ebook/dp/B00GEFAPJQ/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

https://www.amazon.com/Snake-Eyes-Allison-David-Cousland-ebook/dp/B00DB6YZJM/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

https://www.amazon.com/Faces-Ashwood-Court-David-Cousland-ebook/dp/B00EBUQDSS/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

https://www.amazon.com/Face-Viking-David-Cousland-ebook/dp/B00BUC50B6/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

https://www.amazon.com/Overture-Revenge-David-Cousland-ebook/dp/B00B4VKXW4/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

 

 

 

 

Kedleston Hall, a grand house, parkland and pleasure grounds built to impress: another ‘jolly.’ Part One

Kedleston Hall, Derbyshire.

Kedleston Hall (c) Sally Duffell 2016

Kedleston Hall

This is the third of my final ‘jollies’ in 2016.

I hope you enjoyed the previous two.

As you probably know I was fortunate enough to go on several towards the end of last year.

Kedleston Hall (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Kedleston Hall – the rear. (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Kedleston Hall River (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Kedleston Hall River (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Here is the latest. Let me know what you think.

Another chilly and damp day saw us take a trip to Kedleston Hall (Derbyshire) former home of the Curzon family and now owned and run by The National Trust.

The Drawing Room (c) Jane Risdon 2016

The Drawing Room (c) Jane Risdon 2016

We visited the restaurant first to warm up and have a light lunch. After which we took a tour of the house.

There has been a house at Kedleston since medieval times.

The north front has been called ‘the grandest Palladian facade in Britain.’

25 foot Derbyshire Marble Columns in the Marble Hall. (c) Jane Risdon 2016

25 foot Derbyshire Marble Columns in the Marble Hall. (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Front view of Kedleston Hall 2016

View across the front grounds Kedleston Hall 2016

Drawing on the monuments of ancient Rome and the designs of the 16th century Italian architect Andrea Palladio, Robert Adam was chosen to be the architect ‘resolved to spare no Expence, with £10,000 a year, Good Temper’d & having taste himself for the Arts.’

(c) Jane Risdon Dining Room

(c) Jane Risdon Dining Room

Adam set out to build a house that would rival Chatsworth.

Great Staircase Kedleston Adams Design (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Great Staircase Kedleston Adams Design (c) Jane Risdon 2016

The Curzon family came to  Britain from Normandy at the time of William the Conqueror and have most likely lived at Kedleston since 1150 and probably since 1198/99 when they were granted ‘all the vill of Ketelestune.’

Great Stair-case (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Great Stair-case (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Marble Hall (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Marble Hall (c) Jane Risdon 2016

They established their position in Derbyshire by gradually adding to the estate and by serving as MP (Member of Parliament) for the county from the mid-16th century.

From 1640 onward the estate grew rapidly until it comprised 10,000 acres in Derbyshire and the neighbouring counties. 

Ceiling and wall paintings Marble Hall (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Ceiling and wall paintings Marble Hall (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Music Room (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Music Room (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Mostly due to Sir John Curzon (1598-1686) who also raised the family’s status by being created a baronet in 1641.

Four years later he became the head of the family following the death of Mary Curzon, the former governess of James II, the chatelaine of the great Sackville house of Knole and the last of the Curzons of Croxall.

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

Funny how these families are all intertwined somehow.

Do take a look at my ‘jollies’ to the homes of Vita Sackville-West at  Knole and at

Sissinghurst as I am sure if you enjoy this you will enjoy those ‘jollies.’

http://wp.me/p2dg55-1Qm

http://wp.me/p2dg55-1Oc

A little more historical background and then I’ll get on with the photos.

The Marble Hall Kedleston (c) Jane Risdon 2016

The Marble Hall Kedleston (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Sir John sided with the Parliamentarians during the Civil War, but from the early 18th century his descendants were loyal supporters of the King,becoming the great Tory family of Derbyshire, just as the great houses of Chatsworth and Hardwick (the Cavendishes) were the leading Whigs.

Ceiling Marble Hall ceiling (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Ceiling Marble Hall ceiling (c) Jane Risdon 2016

I visited both on my ‘jolly’ and will post about them later in this series. 

In 1671 Sir John’s son Nathaniel, 2nd Bt. married Sarah Penn, daughter of William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, establishing the family’s long ties with America.

I am reminded of being asked, with my husband and a few others –  I forget exactly when but I think sometime in the late 1970s –  to take part in the very first Fiber-optic telephone call to America from Reading, Berkshire to Reading Pennsylvania.  

It was great fun. We were allowed to make a phone call (to America) to whomever we wished.  We called an aunt of mine and, typically, she wasn’t at home and didn’t have an answering machine. Don’t laugh.

Back to the house. Wow! I am sure you are saying it too. Wow!

MIrror image of drawing room (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Mirror image of drawing room (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Apparently the house was never meant to be a home, but a place to show off, to parade wealth, power and influence.

The family had their own private state rooms, with most of the house was not lived in as a home, but used to hold parties, receptions with formal ‘rooms to parade.’

Music Room, organ and kettle drums (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Music Room, organ and kettle drums (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Guests were allowed to walk through them admiring the furniture, upholstery and enjoying the fine paintings.

 Kedleston was one of the original ‘bling palaces,’ I think.

As always I took way too many photos, I couldn’t resist.

The parkland and pleasure grounds are magnificent and enormous and we didn’t get round them all because of the weather.

The Lake (c) Jane Risdon 2016

The Lake (c) Jane Risdon 2016

The sun did come out from time to time, but mostly it was damp with some drizzle. To be expected so late in the year. 

We also went into the church and I’ll post about that later too.

I’ve just had a look at the number of photos I took inside the house and if I want to do my piece justice I think I must stretch this to part two, because there were so many interesting artifacts and things inside the house I’d like you to see, so you can get an idea of the sort of people lived in Kedleston Hall. 

The Library - Desk. (c) Jane Risdon 2016

The Library – Desk. (c) Jane Risdon 2016

So, stand by for Part Two with some of the collections the family gathered.

The Saloon (c) Jane Risdon 2016

The Saloon (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Meantime if you feel the urge to make a visit yourself, here are the details:

E: kedlestonhall@nationaltrust.org.uk

Tel: +44 (0) 1332 842191

Kedleston Hall, near Quarndon, Derby,Derbyshire DE22 5JH

http://www.nationalrust.org.uk/kedleston

As ever all photos are (c) Jane Risdon 2016 All Rights Reserved.

Chess Set Kedleston Hall (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Chess Set Kedleston Hall (c) Jane Risdon 2016

The Trophy Corridor (c) Jane Risdon 2016

The Trophy Corridor (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Another ‘Jolly’ in The Peaks: Saints, Saxon Princes and Ilam Hall Estate.

Ilam (Manifold)

 Ilam Hall, (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Another ‘Jolly.’

Pop the kettle on, make a brew, and put your feet up for a few minutes and relax.

Comfy? Here we go:

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

 

ILam Hall (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Ilam Hall (c) Jane Risdon 2016

The latter part of 2016 was really hectic for me with several writing projects to be completed, and my recent Uni courses taking up my time –Archaeology and Forensic Science – so getting away for a few ‘jollies,’ was really welcome.

Grounds of Ilam Hall (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Grounds of Ilam Hall (c) Jane Risdon 2016

2017 is going to be a busy year with another

Forensic course – my 5th – and the publication, possibly in May of Only One Woman which I’ve co-written with author Christina Jones. 

I hope you enjoyed my first ‘jolly,’ to Dovedale in this series. Thanks to all those who took time to read it and leave me comments. It is great to know you are out there and enjoying my ‘jollies’ with me.

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

 As promised here is my next post.

Let me know what you think.

After our wet and rather energetic morning in Dovedale we went on to visit the lovely Ilam Hall and Park just a short drive down the road from Dovedale. If it had been dry we could have walked.

llam Park is a 158-acre country estate situated in Ilam on both banks of the River Manifold, five miles north-west of Ashbourne. The property is managed as part of The National Trust’s South Park Estate.

Ashbourne is situated in Derbyshire and so is Ilam’s postal address, but the Park and Ilam are in Staffordshire –  the county boundary being the River Dove.

River Dove (c) Jane Risdon 2016

River Dove (c) Jane Risdon 2016

River Dove (c) Jane Risdon 2016

River Dove (c) Jane Risdon 2016

 I know it’s confusing, but we do things like that in Britain, just to keep you on your toes.

The property consists of Ilam Hall and remnants of its gardens, an ancient semi-natural woodland, Hinkley Wood, designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), noted for its small-leaved and large-leaved Limes and their hybrids.

The estate was owned for over 250 years by the Port family from the 16th century until it was sold to David Pike Watts in 1809.

On his death in 1816 the old hall was inherited by his daughter who had married Jesse Russell.

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

Jesse Watts-Russell, High Sheriff of Nottinghamshire in 1819, and Conservative MP for the ‘rotten borough’ of Gatton, commissioned James Trubshaw to build a new Hall to designs by John Shaw; the Hall, now a Grade 11 listed building, was built between 1821 and 1826.

By the early 1930s it had been sold for demolition.

The demolition was well advanced when Sir Robert McDougal bought it for The National Trust on the understanding that the remaining parts: the entrance porch and hall, the Great Hall, and the service wing, should be used as an International Youth Hostel. 

Today Ilam Hall is leased to the Youth Hostels Association England and Wales (YHA).

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

Therefore our visit was confined to the park and grounds only.

The rain didn’t stop and so our first visit was to the Manifold Tea Rooms for a welcome snack and hot drink. 

Manifold Tea Rooms (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Manifold Tea Rooms (c) Jane Risdon 2016

By the time we had finished our refreshments the rain had stopped and the sun had come out so we ventured outside and took a wander through the grounds.

The grass was rather wet and slippery but it didn’t matter, we were enjoying ourselves too much.

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

We took a wander down to the river via some very steep steps from the lawns above, and we walked along the path – Paradise Walk – running alongside the river bank leading eventually alongside fields with sheep grazing. 

Following the river upstream a little way on our right, in the woods, lies a grotto where the playwright William Congreave is said to have written his first play, ‘The Old Bachelor’ in 1689.

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

The path emerges from the trees moving away from the river bank. This is still ‘Paradise Walk’, created as a place where the hall guests could take their exercise.

Paradise Walk (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Paradise Walk (c) Jane Risdon 2016

The path takes you past ‘The Battlestone’, a Saxon cross unearthed during the building of the new Ilam village and thought to commemorate a battle with the Danes.

The trees were still reluctant to indulge in Autumnal changes we noticed, few had their gold and russet leaves yet, but the sun which had come out was a lot warmer than you’d expect so late in the year. Apart from the sounds of the sheep grazing, our feet hitting the ground, and just the distant tinkle of the river, there was total silence. Wonderful.

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

I stopped to take photos of the sheep and the fungi growing along the path. Trees towered over the path and on the other side of the huge field the sides of a cliff were covered in forestation – Hinkley Wood. A picture perfect place to be and to commune with nature.

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

We came to a natural place to turn around and head back to the huge lawns and the Italian themed grounds near the house, as we wanted to see the Church before it got too dark.

We climbed the steep steps again and turned to our right to take a wander over St. Bertam’s bridge so we could watch the river a while.

Bertram's Bridge (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Bertram’s Bridge (c) Jane Risdon 2016

The church was a delight and we found ourselves running inside as another downpour, much more intense than earlier, began as we began to look around the churchyard.

Ilam has been a place of pilgrimage since the days of St Bertram, a Saxon saint and hermit who lived there. Today there are more ‘pilgrims’ (in the form of tourists) than ever.

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

Saxon Stone (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Saxon Battle stone (c) Jane Risdon 2016

The saint was a Saxon Prince of Mercia who travelled to Ireland to marry an Irish Princess. On their way back to Mercia she had a child and they rested in the forest at Ilam while Bertram went off to seek food.

When he returned he discovered that wolves had killed both his wife and child. Broken-hearted, he lived as a hermit around Ilam for the rest of his life.

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

The saint’s tomb lies in the church, a trim little building sitting apart from the rest of the village. The church was originally within the village, but the village was moved by Jesse Watts Russell to improve the view from the hall he built-in the 1820s.

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

The Font (c) Jane Risdon 2016

The Font (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Some small parts of Saxon architecture may still be traced on the south wall where there is a walled-up old Saxon doorway. There are the stumps of two Saxon crosses in the churchyard.

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

Inside the church there is a magnificent Saxon font, which is worth a visit for itself.

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

When the rain eased off a little we left the church and made our way back to the car-park and headed for home.

Tired from all the exertions and fresh air I didn’t finish dinner and was in bed before nine o’clock.

I cannot remember the last time I did that unless I was unwell.

Next morning bright and early we set off for our next ‘jolly.’

Pop back soon and discover more about my week away in Derbyshire and Cumbria. I am writing it up now.

I really hope you enjoyed this, let me know.

All photos (c) Jane Risdon 2016 All Rights Reserved.

To visit Ilam:

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/ilam-park-dovedale-and-the-white-peak

Ashbourne, Derbyshire DE6 2AZ

Tel:  +44 (0)1335 350503

 

The Peaks: Breathless in Dovedale – another ‘Jolly’ before the end of 2016.

Dovedale in the Peaks (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Dovedale in the Peaks (c) Jane Risdon 2016

My first blog of 2017. Happy New Year one and all.

Towards the end 2016 I managed to fit in several ‘Jollies,’ and as promised I shall be sharing them with you during the next few weeks.

Those familiar with my ‘Jollies’ know that when-ever I go anywhere I find interesting I like to share my experiences and photos with my friends here. 

I wasn’t joking when I said several ‘Jollies.’

I’ve managed to visit lovely countryside, lakes, historical houses,

and enjoyed the run up to Festive Season in a famous Church and a historical house

which is in ruins at the moment, but with the love and care of volunteers it’s slowly being restored to its original state.

But I rush ahead.

The first of my ‘Jollies’ took me to the Peak District. I’ve passed through there before but never visited and looked around due to hectic schedules.

For those who don’t know:

The Peak District is an upland area in England at the southern end of the Pennines.

It is mostly in northern Derbyshire, but also includes parts of Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Staffordshire and Yorkshire.

 The Peak District is supposedly the second most visited National Park after Mount Fuji in Japan which is saying something.

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

The National Park hasn’t any mountains the stature of Mount Fuji, yet it can boast some impressive hills, moors, outcrops, and gritstone edges with many having different characteristics, some being in the bleak gritstone moorland of the Dark Peak whilst others nestle into the beautiful scenic limestone country of the White Peak.

I don’t want to jump ahead so will leave talking about seeing spectacular views such as the rock outcrops of  The Roaches – which I passed on my way to Buxton, and Curbar Edge which I climbed in the rain on a misty afternoon until next time.

I want to share the experience of visiting a lovely, seemingly unspoiled area on the edge of the Weaver Hills and surrounding area: Dovedale.

Dovedale is a valley in the Peak District of England.

The land is owned by the National Trust, and annually attracts more than a million visitors annually.

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

The National Trust acquired its first property in Derbyshire exactly 100 years ago when it was gifted the 17th century Market House in Winster in 1906, but Dovedale was not acquired until 1934 when, mainly owing to the generosity of landowners Sir Robert and Lady MacDougall, Mr. F. Holmes, and I.C.I. it was gifted to the National Trust along with a proposal to make it Britain’s first ever National Park. It was eventually included within the Peak District National Park in 1951. 

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

Dovedale is the name given to an area of the Dove valley between Milldale and Thorpe Cloud, which has some of the most spectacular limestone gorge scenery available in this country.

The name Dovedale is from the Norse ‘dubo’ meaning dark.

Vikings settled in the area around 800 AD. Local place names such as Thorpe are of Scandinavian origin. These settlements became permanent, and Thorpe is mentioned in the Doomsday Book of 1086

Everywhere the river is flanked by steep cliffs, with many caves and rock pillars, of which Ilam Rock is the most spectacular. 

My visit with relatives newly moved into the area was undertaken on a wet and misty morning with a distinct chill of Autumn in the air. The trees were on the turn and I kept thinking that had I visited a week or two later I would have been party to that wonderful show of colour and shades Autumn treats us to each year. I’m not complaining because what was on show was still beautiful…but  just imagine the photos I would’ve taken!

Not one for climbing or hiking – I am more the strolling or brisk walk type of person – I determined to climb and amble and hike with my younger, more energetic companions, even if it meant puffing red-faced to the top of some pretty steep and rock strewn hills, ever mindful of staying upright and not falling and making myself look a complete idiot or worse still, injuring my shoulder which is still recovering from breakages following a tumble-down stairs some time ago.

My first challenge of the day was to cross the river Dove via a set of stepping-stones. Quite daunting when the stones are rather high, slippery, with nothing to hold on to. Another opportunity to make a complete ass of myself by falling in.  I managed it but was filled with dread at the thought of returning later, after our walk and climb, to do it all over again. It’s not an age thing. Had I been twenty I’d have not wanted to cross. Me and water –  not great pals –  add in height and slippery surfaces and it is a recipe for disaster. Seriously, I am not safe.

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

The steps were built by Italian prisoners of war captured in WW2. 

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

The river is a well-known trout fishing area, made famous by Izaak Walton in his classic 17th century book ‘The Compleat Angler’, and you will often see anglers by the side of the river I am assured.

Having crossed the river in one piece without shaming my companions by making a big splash, we walked along the river enjoying the sounds it made as it gently meandered past. Birds were singing and wind rustled the trees about us. We could smell the earth under our feet as we navigated rocks jutting from the pathway. On one side the river and a steep bank was covered with trees,  on the other side a steep incline with rocks jutting out loomed high above us. If only they could talk. Imagine.

In places the water rushed over boulders and large stones and was quite deafening when up close.

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

We came across a Heron which was sitting on the opposite bank of the river, quietly doing whatever Herons do whilst remaining completely still. It allowed us to get quite close to take photographs. 

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

More huffing and puffing (me, not the youngsters) up a steep incline with steps, passing others huffing and puffing either going up or coming down, each red-faced and concentrating on not slipping or falling.

After what seemed a lifetime in which I grew hotter and hotter and wanted to rip everything off in spite of the cold and damp, we reached the top and glory be, a seat. I almost ran to it anxious to get off my aching legs and knees. Climbing was never a problem just a few years ago.

I almost forgot:

On the steps beneath our feet as we climbed I could see fossils which were embedded in them. So clear to see. Really fascinating.

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

We sat and enjoyed the view of the steep cliffs opposite and the various trees rising high above the river, covering the sides dense and mysterious. My lungs eventually ceased hurting and I began to forget thoughts of oxygen masks and para-medics – well you never know.

If ever I was on the run, I thought, what a great place to hide out. Mind you, I might never make it if I had to climb the cliffs opposite to hide deep within the forest. Perhaps I’d be better trying the New Forest; far more civilized.

The rain started again and the mist began to descend as we made our way back down. Mindful of the slippery stones and gravel which didn’t help when trying to place one’s feet, we made it back all in one piece.

Back at the stepping-stones we encountered a queue to cross (in both directions), so it was  good thing we came early. We started chatting to an American couple who’d escaped their large family to holiday in England. Both were anxious to tell us they didn’t vote for Mr Trump. A long discussion followed and we parted laughing and wondering what on earth was going on in the world.

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

Imagine coming to such a lovely spot to discuss politics and the new President Elect. Way too much culture in one day.

That is it for this part of the day. It was a lovely visit and I recommend it if you ever get chance. Wear good walking shoes and waterproofs (in-case you can’t manage the stepping-stones) and take your camera. Well worth it. 

Part two to follow soon:  A visit to Ilam is next.

All photos are (c) Jane Risdon 2016 All Rights Reserved.

2016: A Year of Jollies, Anthologies and Forensic Criminology.

Children_Singing_Christmas_Carols_Royalty_Free_Clipart_Picture_091023-223183-825042-001

Seasons Greetings

to all my wonderful friends, old and new, who have been kind enough to join me here and who have read and enthusiastically commented on my posts.

Your visits are so very welcome and much enjoyed by me and obviously by those dropping by.

Thanks so much for all your support and kindness throughout this last year

and earlier years I’ve dabbled in this blogging lark.

It has been a busy year for me once more.

Eltham Palace (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Eltham Palace (c) Jane Risdon 2016

I’ve been treated to some really fabulous ‘jollies,’ and I have a lot more to post here as soon as time permits.

I’ve recently been on several – I’ve been spoiled rotten and it’s been fabulous.

Mevagissy (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Mevagissy (c) Jane Risdon 2016

I’m really encouraged by the reaction my little forays garner, especially the photos and the historical snippets I try to include with each post. It’s great to share my experiences and it seems that my posts have inspired many of you to visit some of these places.

Churchill's home (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Churchill’s home (c) Jane Risdon 2016

I really hope you weren’t disappointed.

The feedback you give is really encouraging. Thanks so much.

Virginia Waters (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Virginia Waters (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Virginia Waters (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Virginia Waters (c) Jane Risdon 2016

After a very long pregnancy

‘ONLY ONE WOMAN’

has left the computers of both myself and Christina Jones (my co-author),

and is now with our publishers Accent Press Ltd and the delectable Greg.

The plan is for the novel to be published in May 2017 – watch this space. It should be in Paperback  and eBook and I understand there are plans for an Audio-book too.

A departure – for me –  from Crime fiction, OOW is a story we have both been itching to write for many years.

Only One Woman for lovers of music, fashion and everything late 1960s

Only One Woman for lovers of music, fashion and everything late 1960s

Chrissie and I have been friends since our teens – we move fast as you can tell!

She was my husband’s band Fan Club Secretary as well as a successful Rock Journalist interviewing the rich and famous, and the most gorgeous Rock stars. I’m not jealous at all.

She also wrote for a lot of the Teen magazines at that time.

Christina Jones is now an award-winning successful author of over 30+ books.

The 1960s setting for Only One Woman

The 1960s setting for Only One Woman

More details as and when we get them.

Christina Jones and her books:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Christina-Jones/e/B001K8U57Y

In addition to the ongoing Work in Progress -‘Ms Birdsong Investigates’ – which seems to be taking me forever to write, I am been very privileged to have been included in three anthologies.

The first, Madame Movara’s Tales of Terror, still on sale but only until January 2017, has been the work of 29 authors and 2 illustrators and was the brain child of author Kelly Hambly.

Madame Movara's Tales of Terror: Hardback and Paperback in aid of Save The Children

Madame Movara’s Tales of Terror: Hardback and Paperback in aid of Save The Children

Her link: http://www.facebook.com/newbloods

All proceeds go to Save The Children (The International Children’s Charity).

So far sales have exceeded expectations and this can only be good news for Save The Children.

Caroline Munro with Madame Movara's Tales of Terror

Caroline Munro with Madame Movara’s Tales of Terror

The hardback edition is fully illustrated throughout. I love it.

The Paperback edition comes with a choice of 2 covers and they are both illustrated throughout as well – in colour.

Madame Movara’s Tales of Terror is published by Willow Creek Publishing.

My story is called ‘Haunting Melody.’

I got the inspiration for the story when looking at some photos of  one of my favourite places, Big Bear Mountain and Lakes in San Bernadino, California.

The foreword has been written by iconic Hammer Horror movie actress and former Bond (007) girl Caroline Munro who has been a wonderful asset and has helped gain interest from many established and iconic Horror magazines such as Scream.

The links for these are:

http://www.lulu.com/shop/various-authors/madame-movaras-tales-of-terror/hardcover/product-22894139.html

http://www.lulu.com/shop/various-authors/madame-movaras-tales-of-terror/paperback/product-22894121.html

http://www.lulu.com/shop/various-authors/madame-movaras-tales-of-terror/paperback/product-22894145.html

I have also contributed towards

The Beneficiaries of Secret Cottage by Jane Risdon 2016

The Beneficiaries of Secret Cottage by Jane Risdon 2016

Ghostly Writes Anthology 31st Oct 2016

Ghostly Writes Anthology 31st Oct 2016

Ghostly Writes Anthology 2016

published by  Claire Plaisted, Plaisted Publishing House.

https://plaistedpublishinghouse.wordpress.com

Along with 26 other authors from around the world I contributed my story

‘The Beneficiaries of Secret Cottage.’

The inspiration for my story came thinking about Wills and those who have expectations and those who find themselves inheriting something out of the blue, from someone they didn’t even now existed.

Ghostly Writes is available in Paperback and eBook.

the eBook is FREE

for Paperback price follow the links. 

The links are:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1125012369?ean=2940153508849

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/ghostly-writes-anthology-2016

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/ghostly-writes-anthology-2016/id1169859655?mt=11&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

http://www.inktera.com/store/title/53129dd2-5565-4fd7-b431-472696191264

https://www.24symbols.com/book/x/x/x?id=1730315

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ghostly-Anthology-Plaisted-Publishing-Presents-ebook/dp/B01MPXSNJ0/

Barnaby Rogers PI and the Case of the Singing Canary: Cue Murder

Barnaby Rogers PI and the Case of the Singing Canary: Cue Murder

I have also written a short story for another anthology, A Stab in the Dark: Cons, Dames and G-Men

which is due for publication in early 2017 and is the brain-child of Adam Mitchell.

A Stab in the Dark: Cons, Dames and G Men

A Stab in the Dark: Cons, Dames and G Men

This eBook will be FREE

The Golden Age of Detection is the theme for these stories and this is a first for me.

I love the GAD but have never written anything set in the late 1930’s before.

My story is called ‘Cue Murder,’

and I was inspired by the story of Movie Star Lupe Velez – The Mexican Spitfire.

The Mexican Spitfire Lupe Velez

The Mexican Spitfire Lupe Velez

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lupe_Velez_filmography

One of my husband’s great aunts, Elizabeth Risdon, was a movie actress, acting with some of the great leading men of the age and she starred in several movies with Lupe Velez and talking about her recently reminded me of how Lupe died.  

I shall be posting more about Lupe and Elizabeth nearer the publication of Stab in the Dark.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elisabeth_Risdon

Elizabeth Risdon

Elizabeth Risdon

Earlier in the year I was fortunate enough to contribute my short story

‘A Walk to Destiny’ to dottyandthedreamers online magazine.

The magazine is FREE

Here is the link: http://writingat.wixsite.com/dottyandthedreamers/issue-2

Late December 2016 they will also be publishing two more short stories I’ve written. 

‘You can run, but you cannot hide.’

and

‘Murder by Christmas.’

If you read any of these stories or buy any books, do be kind and let me and the other authors know your thoughts and if you are able to leave a review anywhere, that would be wonderful. Thanks.

Whilst beavering away at all this I have been busy educating myself.

Crime Scene Investigations

Crime Scene Investigations

Last September (2015) I started the first of four Forensic Science Online University courses and in early December 2016 I completed my last.

I also managed to fit in another course in Archaeology.

Time Team was a huge favourite and I am still mourning its loss from TV.

https://www.facebook.com/OfficialTimeTeam/

I wanted to better understand Crime Scene Investigations, Forensic Anthropology and  Forensic Science in relation to Criminal Justice, so that I might write Crime stories with more accuracy.

Jane Risdon is May Super Star Author 2016

I may not actually include what I’ve learned in my writing – never one to blind people with science I hope – but for my own understanding of what happens at the crime scene (who is there and why for example) and during examination of unidentified bones, and also how to identify a victim given no items were left in a shallow grave for example, other than bones. Also the investigation of Witness Statements and eventual Prosecution of someone accused of Murder.

14612468_10154088582703123_8683034033612461437_o

It has been so interesting, informative and enthralling to study this and have tutors world-renown for their expertise in their field.

I have learned so much. Even my Archaeology Course came in handy!

As soon as I get my act together I shall be posting more ‘jollies,’ undertaken since the summer which I hope you will enjoy.

Most activities, especially in the early Autumn, involved a lot of physical effort and outdoor activity. 

The Lake District (c) Jane Risdon 2016

The Lake District (c) Jane Risdon 2016

I managed to amaze myself just how high I can climb in pursuit of ‘that view.’

Peak District (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Peak District (c) Jane Risdon 2016

The Peak District (c) Jane Risdon 2016

The Peak District (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Well, now you can see what I have been up to this year and I am looking forward to a busy 2017.

I’d like to thank you all for being here and for your kind participation in my blog. It’s been another blast!

I look forward to seeing you all again next year and do bring your friends along too.

For those celebrating

HAPPY CHRISTMAS

and to you ALL a very

  HAPPY, HEALTHY, PROSPEROUS AND SAFE 2017.

I am not packing up shop just yet

I am hoping to feature an interview with an Accent Press Crime Writer here before the end of December so keep ’em peeled. 

Do drop in and leave a comment – always welcome and appreciated.

All photos (c) Jane Risdon 2016 except book covers which are (c) to the artists/publishers  and Lupe Velez and Elizabeth Risdon

Ghostly Writes Anthology: The Beneficiaries of Secret Cottage – October 2016 via Plaisted Publishing

Ghostly Writes Anthology 2016

Ghostly Writes Anthology 2016

Ghostly Writes Anthology Published by 

Plaisted Publishing House                 ghostly-writes-banner-with-owl

 31st October 2016

*****

My short story:

The Beneficiaries of Secret Cottage.

by Jane Risdon

The Beneficiaries of Secret Cottage

The Beneficiaries of Secret Cottage

The bed vibrated as if on some sort of mechanical device and her body shook and convulsed as she tried hard to hang on to the sides to prevent falling off.

She sensed that the room was still pitch black and she knew she wasn’t alone.

She couldn’t open her eyes, they felt glued shut, and anyway she was too afraid of what she might glimpse.

Faster and faster the bed vibrated beneath her making it almost impossible to keep hold of the mattress. 

She prayed for it to stop but knew it would be a while longer. It always went on for an eternity it seemed and then, just as suddenly, all would be still.

And the terror would begin….

*****

I do hope this has whetted your appetite enough to lead you to this anthology and the many stories on offer, and to reading the rest of my short story.  The other authors are all blogging about this anthology and you can follow them by clicking on their names further down.

 

 

  The eBook  is FREE and will be available world-wide from the 31st October

and the Paperback edition is available for purchase:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1125012369?ean=2940153508849

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/ghostly-writes-anthology-2016/id1169859655?mt=11&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/ghostly-writes-anthology-2016

http://www.inktera.com/store/title/53129dd2-5565-4fd7-b431-472696191264

https://www.24symbols.com/book/x/x/x?id=1730315

https://plaistedpublishinghouse.wordpress.com/2016/10/20/haunting-you-this-hallows-eve/

And many other book sites.

A fantastic opportunity to discover new writers and their work; a great keepsake.

Claire Plaisted, of Plaisted Publishing says:

It is that time of year again when authors love to haunt you with our scary, horror filled books that will thrill anyone who loves Halloween.

Ghostly Writes Anthology is presented to you by Plaisted Publishing House, Ltd, New Zealand, with a contributions by 26 Authors from around the world.  

Each story has its own focus, be it a haunting or not. There are creepy cottages, houses and creatures. Some you won’t want to read at night.

One thing you will notice is that we have left the English Grammar and Spelling in the country of origin – like it or not, it is what it is – English from around the globe.

This year our authors and their stories are:

A Dying Scream – J G Clay

Cabins – J B Taylor

Caedes – Adam Mitchell

Canvas – Sarah Mosier

Chaconne – Neil Newton

Death has a Sound – Rocky Rochford

Embers of Webber Street – Karen J Mossman

Eternally Connected – JLC Roche

Ghost in the Machine – Eve Merrick-Williams

Ghost of a Chance – Wendy Steele

Haunted House Arrest – Jennifer Deese

Hello Dear – Stewart Bint

Luella – Kyrena Lynch

Mother Called Today – Mike Elliott

Natatorium-Adele Marie Parks

Play Time – Amy Budd

Ruby Kisses – Jessica Wren

Sitting on a Cloud – C A Keith

Soul Man – Claire Plaisted

Spools of Thread – Ashley Uzzell

The Beneficiaries of Secret Cottage – Jane Risdon

The Curse of Havencrest – Cayleigh Stickler

The Ghost of Rose Cottage – Marjorie Hembroff

The House on the Hill – Jim Adams

The Thin Place – Elizabeth H Newton

Here are a few of the teasers to enjoy.

                             14641957_10209669863876063_4361141069408314893_n      14650519_10154551260284417_6215954267062495740_n14650530_1281950171855181_6756112078895065085_n

         14681845_10209600757788454_6668877050703082724_n        14706760_10154062165774389_8885436568396514746_o             14721726_10154610613582533_4236590918974838748_n        14696898_1838742316412219_1501415758_n

If you wish to have more information: www.plaistedpublishinghouse.wordpress.com 

plaistedpublishinghouse@gmail.com 

Our official book trailer is on YouTube along with two others made by authors who are participating in this years anthology.

I do hope you enjoy this anthology. It was fund writing for it. A change from Crime writing for me. 

Thanks for dropping in, let me know what you think.

Jane xx

Chartwell: home of Sir Winston Churchill – another ‘jolly.’

Churchilll's Golden Wedding (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Buying Chartwell for  Churchill (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Chartwell from the rear (c)Jane Risdon 2016

Chartwell from the rear (c)Jane Risdon 2016

Churchill's home (c) Jane Risdon 2016

                 (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Late September I was fortunate enough to visit Chartwell, home of Sir Winston Churchill.

‘Some day, some year, there will be old men and women whose pride it will be to say “I lived in Churchill’s time”.’ The Evening Standard on the day of Churchill’s funeral.

A friend’s father – in the Navy at the time – was one of the men to carry Churchill’s coffin to the train for his final journey to Bladen, Oxfordshire, where he is buried.

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

Churchill lived at Chartwell with his family from 1922 until his death in 1965. In common with most people he moved home several times during his life-time, progressing gradually to a larger and grander property as circumstances and his finances allowed.

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

 Those with an interest in Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill will know he was born at Blenheim Palace on November 30th 1874. His father, Lord Randolph Churchill, was the second surviving son of the 7th Duke of Marlborough. His mother, Jennie Jerome, was the daughter of a New York financier.

‘I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.’ Churchill

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

Although born into the

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

English aristocracy he did not inherit vast riches and for most of his life he was only moderately wealthy. He made his living as a writer. Politics did not bring him great wealth either.

He received almost every honour his country and many others could bestow upon him. Knight of the Garter, Companion of Honour, Order of Merit, Nobel Prize, Fellow of the Royal Society, Honorary Citizen of The United States – voted for by the public, Man of the Century, and The Greatest Briton – the list is almost endless.

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

He neither sought nor received a Peerage which would have taken him to The House of Lords as that would have taken him from his beloved The House of Commons.

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

‘I could not live without champagne. In victory I deserve it. In defeat I need it.’ Churchill

Winston took part in many battles during his younger years, either as a war correspondent or as a soldier – in Cuba, on the North West Frontier of India (at the same time one of my relatives was also fighting in the same places), and in the Sudan, South Africa, and France.

‘Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result.’ Churchill

 Clementine, Lady Churchill, entered The House of Lords after she’d been created Baroness Spencer-Churchill in 1965 in recognition of her work for charity. She also 

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

received many accolades and awards including The Order of the Red Banner of Labour, awarded by Stalin in recognition of her wartime work raising funds for aid to Russia.

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

(c) Jane Risdon 2016

Winston went to school at Harrow and from there entered the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst (a place well-known to my family because so many of them have also Passed Out as Officer Cadets, or have been Instructors there).

Sir Winston subsequently joined the cavalry.

(c) Jane Risdon 2011

(c) Jane Risdon 2011

‘History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it.’ Churchill

RMA (c) Jane Risdon 2016

RMA (c) Jane Risdon 2016