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Welcome to my author blog. I post about my writing - mostly crime/thriller and mystery - but I do write in other genres when the story dictates. I write about things I enjoy such as photography and my 'jollies,' to places of interest, and now and again I host Guest Authors. Feel free to look around, comment and get involved. I love to hear from you and especially new visitors. Your visit is appreciated. Jane.

Who’da thunk it? Not me! Crime to Women’s Fiction – the journey.

I love reading and writing crime stories.  It is a passion I suppose, ever since I was very young.

Adventure stories floated my boat and I found myself drawn to books that – back then before we were all so PC  – were probably deemed more suitable for boys more than girls.

I loved the stories of Robert Louis Stevenson, Arthur Ransome, Enid Blyton, Agatha Christie, and later Chandler, Buchan and Hammett, and so it continues today with many of the modern Crime/Thriller writers filling my head with their fabulous stories.

And although I’ve dabbled in other genres, even written a couple of Pirate stories and Ghost stories, it never crossed my mind to write anything remotely ‘Romantic.’

Those visiting here of late will have noticed that there has been a ‘cover reveal’ for Only One Woman – a novel co-authored with me and a very old friend – Christina Jones – whose chosen genre is definitely Romantic fiction.

So what happened?

I should point out that

Only One Woman has taken 6 years to get to this point.

Only One Woman coming 23rd November 2017

A lot of crime writing has gone on during this time and it will continue never fear.

Ms Birdsong Investigates is with my publisher now.

There are other books in progress.

OOW has been with our publisher, Accent Press Ltd, since 2014 but life has a habit of messing with plans and our plans have been messed with a lot.

We were supposed to publish it in 2014 to begin.

I guess you are wondering how did I get to co-author a book which is described as Women’s Fiction….now therein lies a tale.

Scroll back to the late 1960s and that is where the story begins.

Christina and I met when she became my – then – boyfriend’s fan-club secretary.

She was a Rock/Pop journalist and wrote short stories for Teen magazines, so she was a great choice for the job.

We’ve been friends ever since and have often talked about writing together.

Fast forward a decade of two: my life had continued in music and she had become a best-selling, award-winning author of what she calls ‘Bucolic Frolics.’

And she continues to write her own books too. 

Christina Jones

I returned to England to live, attended a few of her book signings in local bookstores and, as a result, I arranged two ‘Author Events’ at my local library for her.

She went down a storm, by the way, and we started chatting about what a blast it would be to record our memories of the 1960s in a novel – a work of fiction – using what we both knew of those times, and how it might be a fun to write about life in 1968/1969 in particular, and describe how the music and fashions back then were such a huge influence on our lives and those of similar ages.

Jane Risdon

But you know how it is; she became busy with deadlines for her books and I’d started writing my crime stories and there the idea hung – in the air – waiting for us to get a move on with it.

In 2012 I moved house and whilst packing and unpacking I came across a lot of old post cards sent to me by my then boyfriend, from exotic places he’d visited with his band. There were tour and gig posters and old diaries too. I began to make notes.

Those notes became the basis of a series of fictional diary entries and eventually Christina found time to join in and we began Only One Woman – named after The Marbles’ song written by The Bee Gees.

Image result

It soon became clear that I wasn’t  going to be writing a crime story, however hard I wanted to fit dead bodies into it, and Christine wasn’t writing one of her famous comedic ‘Bucolic Frolics.’

This became something quite different.

Yes, it is a love story – triangle actually – and it is about a sexy lead guitarist who falls in love with two girls; one still at school and the other convinced her time on this planet is about to come to a halt on the operating table.

But it is so much more.

It is filled with musical references, how the live music scene was buzzing, and how the most amazing fashions were everywhere.

There was a vibe in the air, never to be repeated in latter years.

World events moved fast and the three of them experienced the excitement of the Moon landings, the Paris student riots and the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia and more.

London Book Fair March 2017 – OOW is represented.

Only One Woman is Women’s Fiction –  yes, there is romance and so very much more.

If you lived through the 1960s this should ring so many bells for you and

if you didn’t we hope it will give you a better understanding of those who did.

Only One Woman is available for pre-ordering now on amazon.

http://amzn.to/2x1UIdr

and is available for pre-order in USA and Australia too.

Publication date is 23rd November 2017.

The Paperback and Audio book will be published May 2018.

OOW has its own Facebook Page where you can read snippets from the novel, enjoy music from that era and enjoy so much more.

https://www.facebook.com/RenzandStella/

Renza and Stella also have their own Playlists up on YouTube – their favourite music from the book.

https://www.youtube.com/user/AccentPress/playlists?view=1&view_as=subscriber&shelf_id=0&sort=dd

Now you know how a crime writer managed to write Women’s Fiction.

We both hope you will remember Only One Woman when Christmas comes around and you are trying to think of gifts for those who lived the 1960s or wish they did.

Be there or be square.

Christina and Jane xxxx

 

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E. Denise Billups: My Guest Author. Professional Dancer and Wall Street Financier Turned Suspense Thriller Author

My Guest Author today is E. Denise Billups

E. Denise Billups

An author with a rare mixture of Southern and Northern charm, E. Denise Billups was born in Monroeville Alabama and raised in New York City where she currently resides and works in finance. A burgeoning author of fiction, she’s published two suspense novels, Chasing Victory, By Chance, and a supernatural short story, The Playground. An avid reader of mystery and suspense novels, she was greatly influenced by authors of that genre. When she’s not writing or reading, you can generally find her training for road races and marathons. She’s a fitness fanatic who loves physical challenges of all types (running, biking, yoga, dance, and more) a discipline she uses to facilitate the creative writing process.

Currently, she’s working on her third suspense novel: A Blog Affair – Coming Summer 2017

Let’s find out more about her and her writing:

Tell us a little about your early life and your ambitions.

Jane thanks for having me as a guest on your wonderful blog! Where should I start . . . I was born in a small town, Monroeville, Alabama, the home of several well-known Authors— Truman Capote (In Cold Blood), Mark Childress, (Crazy in Alabama), Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird), and a few other artists. At the age of nine, I left Alabama to live with my aunt in New York City where I’ve lived most of my life. However, my roots are still deeply ingrained in the south where my two sisters and the majority of my relatives reside.

My aunt, an educator and actress, and a strong and independent woman became my second mother. I accredit her for the wonderful childhood and the freedom to find my artistic self through dance and music (classical guitar and piano) lessons. My aunt, an actress, surrounded me with her thespian friends and the theatre. But I was never drawn to acting. My passion was dance, specifically ballet.

Was/is dancing your first love and do you still dance?

Yes, dance was my first love. At nine-years-old, a photo of a beautiful ballet dancer was the impetus of my foray into the dance world. I was in awe of the grace and discipline of the art. With a deep interest, my aunt immediately enrolled me in dance classes. I begin ballet training with Fowler Ballet, and later, jazz and modern dance with Alvin Ailey Dance until college when I gave it up. I loved dance but was skeptical of a career with such a short life. Fear played a part in the decision to pursue another career. I’d seen dancers whose careers ended abruptly because of injuries and or lack of work. With no other career, they struggled to survive financially. I didn’t want that fate, so I pursued college.  However, I’ve always had a dancer’s spirit.  Over the years, I’ve channeled the discipline into a lifestyle of health and fitness (Yoga, Pilates, running, etc.). I’ve completed several marathons domestically and internationally and continue to train today. I’ve applied the discipline I learned from dance into every aspect of my life, especially writing. Completing a novel requires self-mastery, and I’ve harnessed the mental and physical control to see a story to completion.

When did the world of Finance become attractive and what motivated your financial career?

In college, I majored in Economics and Finance. It was a natural progression to the Financial Services Industry on Wall Street.

What was the trigger which caused you to give it up and turn to writing?

I discovered early on Wall Street wasn’t my passion. I hung in there because I needed to work and pay the bills. I really should have left the industry long ago. During the last recession and collapsing housing market, my company had massive layoffs. I vowed never to go back to the industry, and that was the impetus that led me to my second passion—writing. I wrote my first novel, By Chance in 2014, and haven’t stopped since.

Do you come from a family of writers and/or readers?

I originate from a family of educators. My aunt, who raised me, was a teacher and wrote children stories but she never published them. My uncle, also a teacher has published one book.

Do you recall the first book you read and who wrote it?

Wow, I’ve read so many! They all seem to meld into years of ceaseless reading. There was one particular author I loved as a child, E.B. White. I read most of his books, Stuart Little and Charlotte’s Web, which I must have read a dozen times.  I loved Wilbur, the pig, and his relationships with the little girl Fern and other barn animals. This book was one of the many factors to influence a lifestyle of vegetarian and veganism, which I’ve practiced since the age of thirteen.

Toni Morrison’s book, The Bluest Eyes, also made a profound impact at the age of fourteen. It made me aware of the importance of loving yourself and one’s own natural beauty, not a standard set forth by a racist society. Louisa May Alcott’s, Little Women was also a book I treasured. The four sister’s profound journey from childhood to adulthood was inspiring. I admired Jo’s pursuit of a literary career and found a bit of her character—overly independent, fiery and passionate about life in general—in my own personality.

Have you always written?

Since grade school, I’ve been an avid reader. Books became my second passion and a door to another world. My aunt filled her bookshelves with a variety of books I devoured them all during my teenage years. One summer, I actually read an entire collection of classics (Toni Morrison, D.H. Lawrence, F. Scots Fitzgerald, Jane Austen, J. D. Salinger, Charlotte Bronte, Edgar Allen Poe, and more.) These books inspired me to write. Since my teenage years, I’ve written countless short stories and poems which I’d never attempted to publish. Though I’ve always aspired to write, life would get in the way. I believe the path I’ve traveled has led me to the writer’s life, a little late, but I’m finally here with a world of experiences.

What inspired you to write Supernatural Suspense and Thrillers?

I love a book that keeps me in suspense from the beginning to the end, that edge of the seat feeling wondering where the story will end. I guess you could say I’m an adrenaline junkie and desire that rush from novels as well. I confess anything fantastical, magical, or supernatural catches my interest. Anne Rice, Toni Morrison, Isabel Allende, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Stephen King, Edgar Allen Poe and others have made an impact on the genre I’ve chosen to write – Supernatural Thrillers. I’ve written straight suspense without the supernatural element—Chasing Victoria and the current book I’m writing, A Blog Affair— but I’m always tempted to throw a ghost or two in the mix. I confess I love horror flicks and a good fright.

Do you read Suspense and Thrillers?

Constantly! With technology and my subscription to Kindle and Scribe, I find myself reading all the time, searching for new writers, and revisiting favorite books.

What do you consider (in your opinion) to be the most important ingredients required to make a gripping read?

I believe every suspense or mystery should hook a reader’s attention from the very first sentence. Creating a sense of immediacy in that first paragraph is crucial.  I believe the first paragraph should pose a compelling question inspiring the reader to continue reading. I thought I’d throw in a few examples of first sentences that capture the sense of immediacy well.

Dragon Tears by Dean Koontz

“Tuesday was a fine California day, full of sunshine and promise until Harry Lyon had to shoot someone at lunch.”

Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

“My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973.”

Someone Has Been Disarranging These Roses by Gabriel Garcia Marquez,

“Since it’s Sunday and it’s stopped raining, I think I’ll take a bouquet of roses to my grave.”

Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White

“Where’s Papa going with that axe?’ said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast.”

Are you a writer who likes including a lot of description of places and people, or do you allow your reader to imagine most of this themselves?

I’m a little of both depending on the scene. If it’s a scene that is action-oriented, I try not to be overly descriptive to keep the plot moving without breaking the suspense.

Who are your favorite authors – why?

Ooh, that’s a tough question to answer. I’ve been influenced by so many it’s hard to choose. But as I’ve stated above I was influenced greatly by authors of supernatural thrillers and magical realism – Edgar Allen Poe, Anne Rice, H.P. Lovecraft, Mary Shelley, Clive Barker, Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Isabel Allende, Laura Esquivel and many others.

Whose writing career do you most admire and why?

I admire all writers who have made a successful career out of writing. It’s one of the toughest industries with no guarantee of success.

Are there any books you have read more than once, if so, why?   

Hmmm . . . Books I really enjoy I’ll occasionally refer back to, but I’ve never completed them a second time. The old classics that I read years ago, I find I’m in constant nostalgia when I happen upon them a second, third, or fourth time, and will revisit a few passages.

When do you write – daytime, later or at no specific time?

My creative juices flow early in the morning before sunrise. I’ve tried to write at night, but just end up editing instead of putting new words to paper. So it’s me and several cups of coffee before the sun peeks above the horizon. Dawn has always been my favorite time of day for writing and working out.

Do you have a routine for writing?

I start early, preferably before other daily distractions, and after I’ve worked out in the morning. I try to put in at least a good three hours sometimes longer.

Do you write by hand or on the computer?

I love the sound of keys clicking and prefer the computer. But when I don’t have access to my laptop, I’ll use a notepad or cell phone to capture my thoughts.

Are you a note maker – a plotter – or do you wing it and write whatever comes to you whilst gazing at the blank screen/page?

 A little of each, but most of the time I find myself winging it. I’ve tried using outlines, but end up straying off course.

What is the hardest part of being a writer for you? Working alone or trying to do your own marketing?

That’s an easy answer, marketing. I’d rather be writing than trying to promote my books. But as an Indie author, marketing is crucial. I do believe my background on Wall Street, and my Masters in Business Administration (MBA) helps with the marketing.

Are any of your stories based on real events or real people?

No, they are all fictitious characters, crafted in my mind. However, the HGTV sweepstakes did inspire my story for By Chance. The story is set in a real world setting of the sweepstakes in South Carolina, with a mystical realm of three clairvoyant women and a supernatural presence from the eighteenth century. Again the real world and mystical play a big part in most of my stories.

Have you, or do you plan to set some of your stories in the world of dance or finance?

I did set one of my novels, Chasing Victoria, in the world of finance amidst a corrupt Hedge Fund operation involved in money laundering. But I’m always tempted to add a supernatural aspect when I’m writing suspense strictly.

Do you edit and rewrite as you go along or do you complete your work then go back and begin correcting and expanding your work?

I find myself editing and rewriting as I write the story. Some days when words are flowing, I’ll write then go back later to edit.

You are self-published, was this a conscious decision?

I’m one of those who scoffed at the idea of self-publishing in the beginning. Like most authors, we want our books published the traditional way. But after much research and seeing traditionally published authors turning away from publishing houses and doing their own thing, I decided to give it a shot, and it’s the best decision I’ve made. Of course, if I’m offered a contract by a publishing firm, I wouldn’t turn it down. But for now, I’m enjoying full control of the publishing process.

Why did you decide to go this route?

I have a business background and felt my experience and knowledge would be beneficial as an Indie author. Self-publishing is time-consuming, but it allows me to have complete control of my brand and product.

What do you find most challenging about being your own publisher?

Marketing, marketing, marketing . . . It is extremely time-consuming. And the research of finding the best venues, managing multiple platforms is daunting, to say the least.

Are you actively seeking an agent and a publisher?

Not really, but that may change in the future.

Would you say you write for financial gain (hopefully) or for creative satisfaction? What is your motivation? 

I honestly write for creative satisfaction. When I wrote my first novel in 2014, it wasn’t about monetary gain but creative fulfillment. Now a few years later, I’d love to see my work sell and hopefully provide some monetary value.

 If you were not successful (financially) would you give up, or write for your own enjoyment regardless?

Nah, I don’t give up easily. I still continue to write and hope for the best. But writing has always been for personal fulfillment. So, whether I’m successful or not, I’ll continue to write.

If you could no longer write, would you go back to finance or is there another challenge waiting to be met head on?

I would never go back to Wall Street or finance. This venture as an Indie writer has opened a few more doors and possibilities. And I’m always open to change.

You write short stories as well as novels; do you plan to have a story or book released every few months/once a year or how do you decide upon frequency?

I enjoy writing short stories. I have a few on my computer I’ve been working on the last couple of months. If I can publish one every two months, I’d be a happy camper. Novels require a lot more work, and I’m currently working on one now. The ideal would be to publish one novel every year and short stories every month.

How long does it take you to write a short story or book?

Short stories take about a month sometimes less. My first novel took seven months, my second about a year. My third novel, the one I’m currently working on has been a little over a year.

Would you say you are a prolific writer?

Not at all! I like to put a lot of thought into a topic before proceeding. I have many ideas, but words come a little harder.

Do you have lots of material waiting for completion or publication?

I have several short stories waiting for completion. After I finish this novel, I think I’m going to take some time and just write a book of short stories.

Do you enjoy feedback from your readers and do you spend time interacting with them?

I appreciate constructive criticism, honesty above all, not empty words spoken to make me feel good, but honest remarks that help me improve my craft. And of course, I love to hear readers enjoyed my work. I haven’t had enough interaction with readers but hope to do so in the future.

Would you say Social Media is an essential part of your marketing plan, and if so how?

It’s the most crucial part of my marketing at the moment. And of course, there’s word of mouth and my blog.  But social media is a great venue for Indie authors to put themselves and their work in front of their audience and find their niche.

Which do you find the most beneficial and/or rewarding?

I’m really enjoying Twitter. I get to interact with other writers as well as readers looking for the next interesting book to read. But I find it’s easier to build a presence on Twitter than Facebook. I’m not sure why that is, but I believe every author has a social media of choice.

Please include the opening paragraph of your most recent book or work in progress so we can experience your writing.

The Playground: A Supernatural Short Story

An evil that exists for centuries resides by my side. Our souls remain between earth and a spiritual plane. Imprisoned inside decaying church walls, I watch my eternally youthful daughters, laughing and playing like living, breathing children on the playground. He watches too, but for different reasons, to reap his vengeance on people in town who dare trespass on cursed grounds. It was a year ago my two daughters, and I came to this place, looking to start a new life after death befell my husband. His life taken by the sea, one sunny day on an Atlantic beach, his body never recovered. He left us saddled with debt, and no real assets, our home and material things sold to sustain us. We traveled from coastal Florida, searching for a new start, stumbling on the town of Willows Grove.

E. Denise Billups

Many thanks for being my guest author. I do hope you have enjoyed telling us about your work and I hope you will garner more followers and readers as a result of being here.

Jane, it’s been my pleasure. Thank you for the interview. I hope one day you will accept my offer and appear as a guest author on my blog.

You can follow her at:

https://edenisebillups.com/

Facebook: @edenise.billups
Twitter: @DeniseBillups
YouTube: @E. Denise Billups

Buxton: England’s Leading Spa Town and Gateway to the Peak District – another ‘jolly’ last year

Buxton, Derbyshire

If you pop in here now and again you’ll know that I don’t just ‘do’  pieces about my crime writing or guest author interviews on my blog.

I also post about what I call my ‘jollies,’ which are trips out and about to wonderful gardens, villages, churches and cathedrals, country houses, special events and other places of interest I’ve been fortunate enough to visit throughout the year in England.

I visited Buxton Spa Town in Derbyshire (in the Peak District) last year – along with many places I have yet to write about – and as you know I have been posting about my visits over the past months.

Peak District

If you go to my menu and click on blog and scroll down you’ll find lots of my ‘jollies’ over the last 5 years I’ve been writing my blog. You can also find them in Archive down at the lower right side of my blog – keep scrolling.

Buxton is famous for its Georgian and Victorian architecture providing an impressive backdrop to a busy and vibrant town.

There are ornamental gardens, a wide range of independent and high street shops, lots of cafes, restaurants, and bars and a rich theatrical and musical scene for young and older visitors.

It is known as the Gateway to the Peak District National Park.

It is famous for its natural spring water.

The town was founded by the Romans who called it  Aquae Arnemetiae – Spa of the Goddess of the Grove.

The Town’s rich history features Roman settlers, royal prisoners, outlaws and noble benefactors.

The 5th Duke of Devonshire put Buxton on the tourist map with development in 1780s – the centre piece being the Georgian Crescent which was undergoing some renovations when I was there. It was due to reopen as a 5 Star Thermal Spa Hotel.

The Pavilion Gardens covers 23 acres of award winning ornamental gardens including serpentine walkways, children’s play area, lakes and a miniature railway.

There is the historic Winter Gardens conservatory linking Buxton Opera House, with the main complex. Inside there are cafes, coffee bards, the Pavilion Arts Centre, Art Cafe, Gallery in the Gardens and a large retail area with Tourist Information centre. Fairs and markets are held in the Pavilion all year.

You can take a wander along the Heritage Trail and there is also a Real Ale Trail for those who are interested.

As long ago as the 16th century people came to the heart of the Peaks for a variety of reasons, and especially to ‘take the waters’ at the ‘New Hall,’ the oldest hotel in England.

Mary Queen of Scots in the 1500s stayed at the ‘New Hall’ Hotel – and there is also the grand Palace Hotel, built in the style of the grand spa hotels, and there is the Lee Wood Hotel and many others to choose from if thinking about a visit. 

The Tourist Information office: +44 (0) 1298 25106

http://www.visitbuxton.co.uk

http://www.tripadvisor.com

Visit the Spring Gardens and the indoor shopping centre, The Springs, which is the main shopping area as well as Hardwick Street (obviously named for Bess of Hardwick  – see my previous jollies to Hardwick Hall for more on her.

Also interesting is The Cavendish Arcade (more links to Bess) which houses many shops trading from the beautifully restored Grade 11 listed Neo-Classical thermal baths. The building boasts a stunning stained glass barrel vaulted roof designed by the painter and artist Brian Clarke. Make sure you visit the Quadrant and walk down George Street behind the Cavendish Arcade.

In Higher Buxton you can find the traditional Market Place with stalls and also the Green Man Gallery where a community of local artists showcase their art in showcase gallery and workshop.

The University of Derby’s Buxton Campus is set under the Devonshire Dome, which is the largest unsupported dome in Europe, with a diameter of 174 feet. It is open to visitors all year round. I had coffee inside and a wander around, though it was very busy and there were students everywhere rushing to classes. Apparently you can have a guided tour, dine at the bistro, and there is also fine dining available and you can book a spa and beauty treatment there. 

The Thermal Spa was created by the 5th duke of Devonshire with John Carr of York – a leading architect from the 18th century  – who determined to create a thermal water spa resort. The original layout included two hotels, six lodging houses and a majestic ballroom. Restoration is being carried out by local councils, Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic England. Volunteers are welcome and you can offer your services:

Imackenzie@buxtoncrescent.com

http://www.buxtoncrescent.com

In addition to taking a stroll around the town with its magnificent Georgian Crescent and Pump Room, and heading up the hill past the Town Hall to the highest Market Place in England, you can wind back down the hill through the Pavilion Gardens towards the Opera House, the Dome and the imposing Palace Hotel, taking in the Octagon, Pavilion and other interesting features on the way. The architecture is a delight. This is the Heritage Trail.

There is something for everyone, whatever age. If you crave adventure and physical activities you can enjoy go-karting, golf, swimming and horse riding.

There are the heights with Go-Ape and a journey beneath the earth at Poole’s Cavern, and not forgetting the Peak District which surrounds the town and is perfect for walking, caving, climbing and cycling.

As ever All Photos (c) Jane Risdon 2017 All Rights Reserved.

More ‘jollies’ throughout The Peak District and The Lake District to follow soon.

I hope you enjoy this and will let me have your comments.

I am preparing a new Guest Author Interview coming in the next week, so keep your eyes open.  

E.Denise Billups is a former professional dancer and Wall Street financier who gave it all up to write Suspense novels and Thrillers.

 

 

Memories: Who knows where they’re going? Who knows where they’ve been?

When I was about two years of age I was taken to Singapore on an aeroplane as we called them then. I’ve been back there many times since and I am in awe of the journey and the length of time it takes to fly there now, non-stop. Modern planes and all that.

But imagine this. When I first flew out to Singapore it took about a week to get there. Not hours, but a whole week.

We flew in a Hermes – the days before jet flight, and we stopped many times to refuel, for lunch or to stay overnight. If I strain, I think – think being the clue here – that I can recall it. But can I really?

Hermes – RuthAS (Talk/Contribs)

I think I can recall smells of places we landed, and some of the people we met on the way. I cannot recall faces or what the smells represented, but I know if I walk somewhere and I get a whiff of something it can take me right back to ‘somewhere’ I’ve been. I expect many of you know what I mean. The people are a bit more like shadows, impressions, more than an actual entity I could recognise if you put them in front of me.

Memory is a weird thing. What do we actually remember? Do we think we remember something because we’ve heard about it so many times – a family story perhaps – eventually believing it was an event we were witness to or part of…how do we know?

As tiny babies and children we are taken all over the place in cars, boats, planes, and trains; we’ve been places, yet we don’t  generally remember being taken there. Isn’t that strange? We can say we have been to this place or that but have little or no memory of the event at all. Yet we were there. 

During the trip to Singapore we stopped off in many countries – both on the outward and return journey some years later – but I don’t really remember any of it. I know I was there because my Mother’s Passport tells me I was. Two weeks (in total) travelling to so many exotic places and I cannot remember anything about them. Or can I?

We stopped in Rome for lunch – nope, I don’t recall that at all.

Flying on to Nicosia in Cyprus where we stopped overnight.  I’d have to say I don’t recall that at all. No smells come to mind either. Yet I was there.

Image result for nicosia airport 1953

We next flew to Bahrain – you’d think I’d recall that, but all I think I can conjure up is that the tarmac melted as we stepped on to it and a strange man carried me to the airport buildings. Do I remember this or is it a family tale I only think I recall? I cannot honestly say. But it happened. I was there.

Image result for bahrain airport 1953

Flying to India we stopped off at Dum Dum airport in Karachi, then we travelled on to Dehli, and a day later to Calcutta and I believe I can recall the smells of the airports as we landed – just like in modern times when you fly into Los Angeles airport, for example, and step outside for the first time and there is a definite fragrance in the air – that memorable. But do I really?

                                         

We were met off the plane at one of these airports in India by a lady in a long dress (I know now it was a Sari) and she had a red mark on her forehead and her bare feet had what I guess now, must have been rings on them. She had a ring through her nose.  Apparently I took one look and screamed. Poor woman, what on earth must she have thought!

I remember it – or do I? I’m sure I do. But then again I’ve been told this so many times it may well not be a memory at all. The ‘feeling’ of it happening is with me, if that counts – I’m not sure. Yet I was there.

Bangkok. Do I recall anything about Bangkok?

I want to say the smell of the trees but whether that is true or not I have no idea. I seem to recall the Mimosa trees in Singapore as well, but can I rely on it all to be a real memories?

We arrived in Singapore to meet up with my Father who had been in Korea (War) having left England soon after my birth, so apart from a brief acquaintance with me aged a couple of months, we’d never really had an introduction. According to my Mother every man we ever met was called Dad by me and that led to some embarrassing incidents and comments I’m told – of course I don’t remember that!

We lived with my Grandfather so he was called Dad too. The Station Master at the local railway station near our home, fed-up with being called Dad, told my Mother, ‘I think it’s about time you told that child who her Father is.’ I can imagine that went down well.

Upon meeting my Father on the tarmac at Kallang (as it was) airport, Singapore, I shot up my Mother’s skirt and refused to come out until ‘that man’ went away, having taken objection to his kissing her. I definitely don’t remember that. They never forgot it.

I am convinced I can recall much about Singapore; sitting on the steps of our apartment hearing the soldiers outside on the parade ground, going through their paces. Is that an actual memory or has my family told the story so many times I believe it to be true? But sitting on those steps – which I did daily apparently – I must have heard the parade drills.

Then there was my little friend, a girl who lived in the apartment above us. I’m unsure as to whether I actually remember her or if the many photos of us together is the only ‘memory’ of her that is real.

I learned to swim there and spent a lot of my time in the sea or the swimming pool where we lived. I think I can recall going swimming with my little friend, but then there are photos of us together on the steps of a pool, so who knows? Memory or false memory?

I had an Amah, a lady who lived in and looked after me although she was employed to clean and cook as well. My Mother didn’t feel comfortable having her do that, so mostly she cared for me and did the washing and ironing.

Whenever I smell fish, raw or cooked, I’m immediately back in her room, squatting on the floor eating from bowls with chopsticks – rice and fish. I hate fish, I cannot stand the smell and I have no idea why I would eat it with her but apparently it is true. I know it is. I can taste it just thinking about it.

The first time as an adult, I held chopsticks I knew how to use them – I remembered.

Since those times in Singapore I have travelled and lived all over the world, as a child and an adult, and although the earlier memories are vivid to me, they are also unreliable.

Thankfully photos can be a record of events, but even those can’t tell the whole story. If you’ve had someone with you, experiencing the same things at the same time as you, you’d think your collective memory would be far more reliable. Think again.

One of the Forensic and Criminal Science courses I’ve taken (2015 through to earlier this year), involved Witness Investigations by Police. In short, how to interview a witness or witnesses to an event/crime and how to prevent them – if more than one was present – from exchanging information about what they saw, so they won’t influence each other’s statement of events. It covered how to interview witnesses to get the maximum ‘memories’ from them which are real, and not the gaps which their brains might have filled in for them.

This is called the co-witnessing effect.

This particular course was fascinating. It revealed just how susceptible we are to what other people tell us, to such an extent that we don’t believe the evidence of our own eyes. We can be swayed to agree to someone else’s version of events.  As time passes our memories become unreliable and we tend to fill in gaps with what we have been told, seen, read or heard and even our brain does a bit of gap filling too.

This is called unconscious transference.

By the time we relate the story for the umpteenth time it may well bear no resemblance to what we actually witnessed and what happened. Detectives are now trained to interview witnesses with this in mind quickly, after an event and on their own without any prompting or showing them evidence – for example (photos of a suspect perhaps), until the witness has told their story in their own words and time.

Not allowing a witness to tell their story uninterrupted and with comments about what may or may not have happened according to the Police or other witnesses – suggesting facts to someone – is known as asking leading questions and suggestibility.

I have to wonder therefore, if what I think are memories of Singapore are, in actual fact, what is known as a false memory and whether as time has passed I have been suffering from what is known as change blindness.

The story changes over time and it is gradually believed to be true by the person ‘remembering’ it.

Filling in the gaps and allowing these ‘memories’ to become fact as far as I am concerned might well have happened to me.

Our memories do not operate like a computer, but instead are constructive in nature and can be changed when presented with post-event information or the views of another person.

Police need to be exceptionally careful when dealing with the testimony of an eyewitness and should never rely on eyewitness memory alone.

This also means that police investigations, particularly interviewing and identification techniques, must be based on psychological knowledge if they are to avoid contaminating the memory of a witness and prosecuting an innocent person. A great deal of psychological research has been conducted in this area, and many police forces around the world have been able to improve their procedures as a result.

Police are now aware of the importance of psychology in dealing with witnesses and their testimony. It is indeed a fascinating part of the Criminal Justice process.

 I am aware that what I have just told you about my memories of travelling and living in Singapore may well fall under one or more of the above.

As a child I didn’t know where I was going and unless someone had told me, I’d have no knowledge today, of where I’ve been.

Do I have memories? Who knows.

Yet I was there.

 

Wanderings with my Camera: Taking a Break from Writing, Editing and Forensics.

It’s been a long hot summer so far – it is raining now – and I’ve been stuck inside most of the time writing and working on edits, so it cannot be any surprise that now and again I break free.

I’ve recently completed an Archaeology course and my 7th Forensics and Criminal Justice Course and have felt the need to get out into the countryside and enjoy the lighter things in life.

I love walking and always have my camera ready to capture things I enjoy seeing, and for making visual notes for stories I am working on, or might work on in the future.

It is amazing how a certain location or house can get the creative juices working.

I thought I’d share some of my walks here.

These are not from my ‘official’ jollies which I post about from time to time – I am working on those and will post more of them as soon as I get the chance. For  those who enjoy looking at the photos and reading about the places I visit it won’t be long…

I am very fortunate to live near some fabulous gardens, woods and lake areas and walking there is always a wonderful experience.  I hope you like my photos.

One area I love to walk was once open farmland when I was a child. I’ve been away many years and going back to what had become gravel pits (where gravel is extracted) in later years, where one could walk and enjoy fishing in the waters which had filled the pits, was a surprise. There are now many lakes with all sorts of water sports taking place there and the land around the lakes has become lush and green with mature trees and hedgerows. All manner of wild-life now occupies the area. Such a delight and so peaceful. I have walked the 4 miles around one lake and not seen another person.

These were taken in local parks and gardens. These gardens and lake views (below) are from a Royal Park and Gardens.

Most are free to enter and often there isn’t a parking fee either. Thousands of acres to wander and enjoy. 

                                                                                                                                 

I can’t help wondering what lies beneath the woods and if there was a ‘dig’ what would be found.

Some of my walks are through what is ancient woodland, hunting grounds of Kings of England and the sites of many famous battles.

One walk along the Thames at Windsor was a delight and I enjoyed a 2 hour boat trip along the Thames too.

These walks are very inspirational and I often get my ideas for stories whilst wandering and taking photos. Other times I’ll  take a series of photos of a particular area or view which I will use as a visual aid (note) which I can refer back to when trying to create an image for a scene in a story.

I’m not a written note-taker. I may draw a map so I know who lives where in a town or village I am creating, and sometime I make a note of names and a few physical characteristics as I am dreadful when it comes to recalling who some characters are! Especially in a series I am writing, I have to remember to use new names, what they look like and their likes and dislikes and I cannot always keep it all in my head.

I hope you enjoy these photos. Thanks for dropping in. I shall be catching up on my ‘official jollies’ in the near future. Have a fabulous week and summer wherever you are. 

All Photos (c) Jane Risdon 2017 and All Rights Reserved.

 

https://thewritersnewsletter.com/happy-birthday-writers-newsletter/

My latest offering. A two part short story called The Secret of Willow Cottage (The Tale of the Reluctant Bride) this month and next month (September) you can read The Tale of The Jilted Lover – part two. If you enjoy a mystery and pirates – then the two part short story is for you. Let me know.

Summer Wanders Around Only One Woman and Other Stories

It’s been a while since I posted a ‘Jolly’ and I must apologise. It was my intention to post Part Three of  Hardwick Hall towards the end of June – and I shall I get around to it, but not for a little while longer.

Hardwick Hall (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Apologies if you have waited for it and several other ‘jollies’ I’ve enjoyed of late. I need to write them and post as promised. 

If you have not read any of my ‘Jollies,’ go to my blog menu and blog, and you can scroll down to find them there. Hardwick Hall is a good place to begin.

Hardwick Hall Part two: http://wp.me/p2dg55-34z

Hardwick Hall Part one: http://wp.me/p2dg55-3cA

I’ve been remiss because I (we – Christina Jones and I) have been in edit hell.

 Edit Hell

I’m sure by now it hasn’t escaped those who pop in here often that way back when, author and old mate Christina Jones and I wrote a novel together, set in the late 1960s – the era when we first met. Although fictional, we’ve used many of our common experiences with music, fashion and the general vibe of those times to co-write

Only One Woman.

(not a crime story for a change)

The late 1960s were magical times and going back has been both fun and emotional for us both; revisiting one’s youth and all that goes with it.

Christina and I thought we’d finished with edits for Only One Woman a while back, and she has worked on her new book, and I’ve completed a number short stories for various anthologies and continuing work on a new book as well – when things changed at our Publishers.

Cutting a long story short, edits arrived on my desk  a few weeks ago and I’ve had my head down ever since. Such fun. Thankfully I was able to hand the MS on to Christina and now she is in edit hell. Hugs for her.

It is really strange jumping from one story to another and back again, and from one genre to another. It’s even stranger when your story (book) takes place in another era. It is a huge ask to have to put your head around events and characters you’d already put to one side and moved on from.

I’ve been working on short stories for three different anthologies: two crime and one ghost story.

In addition to writing stories for anthologies, I’ve been busy with writing for a couple of on-line newsletters and magazines, which has been great fun.

Two of the anthologies have been nominated for Summer Indie Book Awards 2017. They are: Con’s Dames and G-men (A Stab in the Dark Writers Circle) – my story is called Cue Murder, and Ghostly Writes Anthology 2016 (Plaisted Publishing) and my story is called The Beneficiaries of Secret Cottage.

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Three of my Flash Fiction pieces have been recorded by voice over actors as well. It’s a thrill hearing something you’ve written being read back by actors with your ‘character’s’ voice. See Audio Stories on my menu if you want to listen in. 

http://wp.me/P2dg55-37l

I’m also working on two Ms Birdsong Investigates novels (sequels to the one with my publisher at the moment – fingers crossed) which of course is in the crime/thriller genre set in the modern-day.

Ms Birdsong Investigates: Murder in Ampney Parva (book one) with my publisher sees Ms B retired from MI5 and longing for the old days…she gets more than she bargained for with Russian Mafia, Ukrainian Drug and Gun Runners and – well you’ll find out when it’s published.

Ms Birdsong Investigates: Murder at the Observatory (book two) which I am working on now. Inspired by a birthday jolly to Herstmonceaux Observatory.

and then book three: Ms Birdsong Investigates: The Safe House, which I am also working on (I am a masochist) inspired by a family wedding at a country estate which it transpires, is a Safe House.

Then along comes Only One Woman again…

In all the heat of the past few weeks I’ve been slogging it out at the keyboard, editing and adding new chapters. It was a long book before we had to start work on it again and cripes, it’s like War and flipping Peace now. I’m sure a lot of it will end up on the cutting room floor before the novel sees the light of day in November. I hope not, I think it is really good and the additions should make it even more readable, but then I would!

This summer it is the 50th anniversary of The Summer of Love (1967) and although Only One Woman is set in 1968/69 there was still a lot of the magical vibe around a year or two later. So many changes in the world – monumental world events, and of course the music and fashions were just divine. Most people who were there back then would agree I am sure.

Our edits will be back with our editor in about a week and no doubt we shall be hearing from her. In the meantime everything is crossed that we manage the November 21st 2017 publication date. Just in time for Christmas.  

Christina Jones is an award-winning author of over 30 novels and you can find her at:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Christina-Jones/e/B001K8U57Y

I managed to escape a couple of times to go for some walks around lakes, beside rivers, and in the countryside, just to keep from going nuts. I’ll post a few photos.  

I shall be back with Part Three of Hardwick Hall and my other jollies as soon as I can.

Meantime some photos – where I walk when I need peace and quiet.  All photos (c) Jane Risdon 2017 All rights Reserved.

         

  So peaceful here and watching the wild-life is wonderful. Oh, and it isn’t me on the surf board.

Nominated for Summer Indie Book Awards 2017: Ghostly Writes Anthology 2016 – my second nomination

I’m really excited for all the authors included in this fab anthology,

Ghostly Writes Anthology 2016  

Published by Plaisted Publishing,

nominated for the Metamorph Summer Indie Book Awards 2017

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in which I have a short story,  

The Beneficiaries of Secret Cottage.

This is the second anthology in which I have been included receiving a nomination for the

 Metamorph Publishing Summer Indie Book Awards 2017.

The other being:

Cons, Dames and G-Men

You can read about it here:

http://wp.me/p2dg55-3bw

And you can read about

Ghostly Writes Anthology 2016

http://wp.me/p2dg55-2Dz

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You can download Ghostly Writes Anthology 2016,

e-book FREE and purchase the Paperback via these sites: 

The eBook  is FREE and will be available world-wide 

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.

Nominated for Summer Indie Book Award 2017: Cons, Dames and G-Men

 

Image may contain: textSo Excited Cons, Dames and G-Men has been nominated for a Summer Indie Book Award (2017).

If you haven’t got a copy yet, do consider it. It is FREE to download.

Thanks so much for all who have downloaded copies to date. Really Appreciated.

My short story set in Hollywood in 1939, is called Cue Murder.

Click here to read all about the inspiration behind my story and for details about the other authors and their stories:   http://wp.me/p2dg55-2C2

 

 

 

You can download the anthology free from here:

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

also available elsewhere including Amazon

http://amzn.to/2s7UqRZ

http://a.co/afLi4Sx

http://amzn.eu/0vwtRri

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

If you download a copy do let us all know what you think, leave a review or a comment where you obtain your copy.

We love to hear from you.

 

 

 

 

Fellow Accent Press Author Blog Tour: Karen King is My Guest Author

It is my pleasure to host KAREN KING as part of her Blog Tour.

She’s an author with whom I share a publisher.

As you know I like to mix it up here now and again and as Karen’s book is set in Cornwall, somewhere I’ve had a long association with, I am very happy to have her join us today.

Welcome Karen.

A member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, the Society of Authors and the Society of Women Writers and Journalists, Karen King writes sassy, fun, heart-warming romance.

The Cornish Hotel by the Sea is her second chicklit for Accent Press, her first – I do?… or do I? was published last year and there is another one in the process of publication.

In addition, Accent Press have republished her earlier romance novels, The Millionaire Plan and Never Say Forever.

Karen has also written several short stories for women’s magazine and had 120 children’s books published.

When she isn’t writing, Karen likes travelling, watching the ‘soaps’ and reading.

Give her a good book and a box of chocolates and she thinks she’s in Heaven.

The Cornish Hotel by the Sea: Escape to Cornwall with this perfect summer read

“A feel-good summer escape.” Mandy Baggot

Ellie Truman’s widowed mum is struggling to keep Gwel Teg, the family hotel in Cornwall, afloat. 

Ellie is determined to do everything in her power to help her, even if that means moving back to the sleepy Cornish village she fled from broken-hearted a few years ago.
Things go wrong from the start and she’s grateful for the help from hunky guest, Reece Mitchell.

But does Reece have ulterior motives?

Will Ellie’s efforts be for nothing?

You discover more about Karen here:

Website: http://www.karenking.net/

Twitter: @karen_king

Karen King Romance Author Facebook Page

Karen King Young Adult Books Facebook Page

Pinterest: https://uk.pinterest.com/karenkingauthor/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/karenkingauthor/?hl=en

You can purchase her books here:

Amazon

Waterstones

W.H.Smiths

Thank you for hosting me!

You are most welcome Karen.

I hope everyone will enjoy your excerpt and will leave their comments for you to respond to.

Here are the blog tour dates for Karen:

Karen has kindly provided this excerpt from

The Cornish Hotel by the Sea

Ellie was determined to get Gwel Teg back into shape before Mum came out of hospital. And first stop was to check all the rooms and see what repairs needed doing. She didn’t want to give any of the other guests cause to complain. Bad reviews on TripAdvisor wouldn’t help gain more bookings.

Mandy wasn’t at the reception desk. Guessing she’d gone for a loo break, Ellie picked up a notebook and the set of master keys. As it was a sunny day she imagined that their guests would probably be out so she should be able to check all the rooms before the cleaners did their rounds.

She made her way around the first floor, most of the rooms were unoccupied. Before she entered the ones that were occupied, she checked that the ‘Do Not Disturb’ label wasn’t on the door then knocked loudly and called out before entering. Careful not to touch anything personal, she noted any repairs that needed doing. There were quite a few but they were mostly minor things that Harry could tackle. She was dismayed to see how dated and shabby the rooms looked though.

It looks like the whole hotel needs refurbishing, she thought as she made her way to the second floor.

She hesitated outside Room 12. Had Reece Mitchell left yet? She really didn’t want another run-in with him. He might have been pleasant last night but her first impressions of him weren’t good and she definitely didn’t want a repeat performance.

She glanced at her watch. 10.45. Guests had to vacate the rooms by ten so he should be long gone. Even so, she banged on the door and listened intently just to be sure. Nope, there was no sound coming from the room. She unlocked the door and stepped inside. Glancing around, she immediately spotted that a couple of drawer handles were missing on the bedside cabinet, a plug socket was loose and the carpet was threadbare in one corner. Not good. It’s a wonder he hadn’t complained about that.

She made a note of them and starred them as urgent. She’d ask Harry to do them this afternoon, at least they wouldn’t cost anything. And perhaps she could find a small cupboard to put over the threadbare patch of carpet.

She looked over at the closed ensuite door.  She’d better check the shower too, and the one in the connecting room. Best to make sure they’d both been fixed before she booked anyone else into the room.

As she walked over to the ensuite the door handle turned. She stared at it, horrified. Oh heck – he wasn’t?

The door started to open.

She’d better get out of here. Fast.

But before she could move the door was thrust open and Reece Mitchell walked out, completely naked, rubbing his hair with a towel.

Wow! thanks Karen. Good luck with this and all your books. Thanks for being my guest.

Roger A Price: From Crime Fighter to Crime Writer – My Guest Author this week writes from experience

It’s my great pleasure to have Roger A Price on my blog this week.

You are in for a treat.

I’ve read two of his books, Nemesis and Vengeance, and couldn’t put them down and didn’t want either of them to end. I’m itching to read more.

He writes from experience and boy, he’s had a few as a Detective believe me.

I have asked him some very searching questions which he has patiently answered. When you’ve read his responses, do please read on about his career in the Police and what makes him write and how he came to be published.

At the end of this post there is a FREE to read short story, HARD TIME, so don’t go away!  

Oh! and Nemesis and Vengeance are available for a limited time for Kindle for 99p each – details at the end of this post.

As ever do please leave comments for Roger if you wish. I always love reading my Guest Author’s replies to them.

Right, now the Q&A:

Hi Roger, thanks so much for being my Guest Author, I am thrilled to have you here:

Going public as a detective turned author are you worried that criminals you arrested might find a way to trace you and possibly exact revenge? Also, when under cover you had protection..I hope, from the Force. Are you concerned you will be recognised and attract unwanted attention? 

Hi Jane, good question. I thought long and hard about this one. Most of my experiences in covert roles were as a DC and a DS, in fact most one-on-one interaction with criminals, whether covert or overt – as with normal CID – are done in those two ranks. As a DI you are effectively a manager in the main, running operations and units, so my last interactions as a DS would have been around 2002, before I was made DI. So it wasn’t an issue as a full 10 years had passed before my first book was published. Also, most crims (criminals) tend to treat arrest as an occupational hazard, just part of the game of cat and mouse, and so long as you have treated them fairly they accept it without feeling it’s a personal problem.

If, on the other hand, a detective has pulled a dirty trick – or god forbid fabricated something – then it is personal and the detective – he/she – should keep one eye over their shoulder as the crim may have been banged up for years, no doubt for a crime they actually did commit, but festering with resentment. But as time passed and I’d always tried to do my job fairly – even if inventively sometimes, but always fairly,  then I imagine none of the people I’ve interacted with should have an axe to grind.

There are always exceptions to the rule, so if a crazy comes calling, well, they do. But in the main once a crim has done his time and is released does he really want all the hassle he/she would bring on to themselves by chasing a vendetta? Probably not. So to answer you in an abbreviated way, I would say that crims treat arrest and conviction as an occupational hazard and once they have done their time they tend to move on.

I wonder if, with the social changes taking place and different attitudes to authority in this country, you find that young criminals don’t act like the older criminals with their often mentioned ‘codes’ of conduct, and that the old rules no longer apply and that they are harder to deal with – what do you think?

You are probably right about the age thing. I’ve always found the those at the top of the tree the most reasonable to deal with; it’s those with the IQ of a dolly mixture that are harder to manage.

I love that, IQ of a dolly mixture. Funny.

Did you harbour ambitions to be a writer whilst you were in the police? Can you put your finger on the moment/time when you made the decision to write? Perhaps you wanted to write from an early age, or were you a late starter?

I think the desire was always there, but as a busy detective I never had the time. I did a correspondence course and then an Advanced Creative Writing course at Preston College, but it wasn’t until I left the cops that I had the time to write properly.

When you realised you wanted to write was it a natural progression to write about Crime, considering your background, or did you have – or have you – a secret longing to write in another genre? If so, what is that? Do you think you might venture into this genre any time soon?

So far, I’ve stuck to what I think I know, plus I enjoy reading in the crime/thriller genre too, so I’ll stick with that for now until I feel brave enough to have a go.

 Nemesis and Vengeance are great reads – I loved them and wanted to read more. Turning the last page was very disappointing…I didn’t want them to end. Don’t give anything away, but I want to know if there is going to be a closer relationship between Vinnie and Christine in your next book – if Christine appears in it of course. I’ve likened the build-up and story development to that created by Peter James and his continued storyline, where his wife, Sandy, disappears, and throughout his books there are references to her and sightings of someone who might be her. It keeps the reader gripped and weaves a familiar thread throughout his books.  I hope Christine will be a permanent character.

That’s great to hear, Jane. There is no richer feedback than when someone says that they didn’t want it to end, so thank you for that. What I can tell you about the next in the series which I’m currently writing is that the book starts with Vinnie and Christine going on holiday together as their personal relationship develops. That is until the first day of their vacation when…….happens!

I am a Crime/Mystery/Thriller Novel junkie, ever since I read Enid Blyton, Agatha Christie, Mickey Spillane, Raymond Chandler, John Le Carre and Frederick Forsythe as a young teen, getting hooked on anything to do with Politics, Espionage, and Organised Crime – soaking up stories like a sponge. Who did you grow up reading and do you have a favourite author(s) and why do you admire them and read their books?

Enid Blyton’s Famous Five stories were my first love and fired up my young imagination. I read avidly growing up but lost the plot during my early to mid-adulthood, only really getting the bug again in my late thirties/early forties. As for whom I admire? All of the above and many more. There are so many excellent storytellers out there.

As a former Detective you will have encountered some of the worst and most deviant of individuals during your career, and I am sure that those individuals must have left their mark upon you and your psychological well-being. You mention (further on in this post) having a psychological assessment role-playing a baddie – was that difficult?

When you are in the middle of it, I think you cope better as you have to. It’s only in the fullness of time that certain experiences return and sometimes are harder to deal with. I have certain taboos where I won’t go as it evokes memories which are too difficult, but in the main writing crime fiction influenced by real events can be quite cathartic and keeps you sane. There are certain specialisms within the police where regular psychometric and psychological examinations are a given. But a lot more is probably done today than in the early part of my career when you were just expected to get on with it!

As for the research I did developing Daniel Moxley (Nemesis), as you rightly point out, I conducted a Psychological test trying to answer the questions through the character’s eyes. I’m still not entirely sure how much of me bled into those answers! Hopefully, none.

Do you find writing cathartic? Has it helped you deal with what you have seen and experienced? Getting it off one’s chest on to the page helps most of us deal with our demons. Would you say that your characters are a reflection of these people or are they watered down in any way to save your readers from the horrors you might have encountered?

I may have covered some of this in my previous answer, except to add that I actually do tone down my characters even though they may seem gritty, but believe me fact is worse than fiction. Though fortunately such real individuals are few and far between.

Moxley (Nemesis) is such an evil/wicked character, capable of horrendous acts. Did you find it difficult to create him without exposing a known criminal – of whom you’d experience – being recognised, or was he a complete figment of your imagination and not inspired by a real life person?  If he is inspired by someone, did you find it hard to write his character in such a way as to make him believable? Nothing is stranger than fiction, or is it?

You have to be very careful when it comes to characterisation, base one too much on a real person and you may face libel problems if they recognise themselves in the character. Also, you may feel stymied in how far you can take the character should you need him or her to do a certain thing in order to further the story. I tend to base my characters on a composite or real facets mixed in with a large dollop of invention.

Roger A Price

The IRA angle in Vengeance is intriguing and I know it must have given you a headache when you decided to go that route. Did it involve a lot of research or were you able to call upon any personal experiences of ‘The Troubles?’ Did you feel you had to tread carefully when getting political in this story? Did you call upon former colleagues or did you have to make new contacts in order to get background information for the story? Did you receive any reticence or resistance from these people, and if so, why do you think that was?

Ah. Good question, Jane. The background came from personal experiences and conversations from which I extrapolated. I did try to show some balance to both POVs of the political divide as best as I could within the confines of the plot. As for Christine Jones’ expose into the possibility of reverse discrimination, that was all from my imagination but the spark did come from a very brief conversation I once had with a PSNI officer at a drugs conference in Brighton!

PSNI: Police Service of Northern Ireland for those wondering.

Has your opinion and view of ‘human-kind’ been tainted by your career experiences working with the worst society can throw at you, or has it encouraged you and reassured you that in general most people are decent and good?

In the most people are as you rightly point out decent and good. But when dealing with the worst five per cent a lot of the time it is easy to be influenced by it. You have to guard against this and always remember who and what you are. The very few cops who turn bad are usually those who have failed to do this and have allowed themselves to be drawn into the cesspit where the abnormal appears normal and immorality reigns.

How do you keep positive when you have experienced such terrible things? Are you a little jaded by your experiences do you think?

As I’ve said certain images and experiences best forgotten do raise themselves in your subconscious from time to time, I try to shove them straight back into a mental steel box.

Seeing what has happened of late are you glad you are not involved with such events anymore, or does it make you itch to get back into the thick of it?

It just makes me so sad. As all of us no doubt did I just cried watching the news. When you are in it, you can’t allow yourself the self-indulgence of letting your feelings surface too much. I’ve had my time, and like to think I made a difference and achieved some special things. My respect goes to those across the public services who carry on with the baton, but it’s a young person’s game. I’m content just to write about it now.

What have you learned about yourself as a consequence of being a Policeman – if anything – and how does this (if at all) influence your writing?  When you write, are you on the ‘goodies’ or the ‘baddies’ side – when creating characters? Which get you more excited as you write, and do you find the ‘baddies’ a challenge or easy to create?

I’ve learned that as with most things in life we never stop learning. I find characterisation quite fascinating. I enjoy being in the goodies’ heads but I also find it fascinating exploring what makes the baddies tick. The varied facets of a criminal mind which can swerve from extreme to extreme and back to the middle in the blink of an eye.

Now to the good stuff – ABOUT ROGER:

First of all I’d like to thank Jane for the kind invitation to join you all today on her blog.

My strapline says: ‘Crime fighter turned crime writer’ which although a little cheesy, is true I guess; although I nearly wasn’t either. Having been sacked from a chicken factory, I thought I’d diversify, so I joined a pie factory. Having been sacked from there I thought I’d better try to do something else so joined the police cadets.

Having been threatened with the sack twice from there I somehow made it through my cadetship and joined the rossers for real in 1977. I soon found my calling as a detective and served on the CID, major incidents and the Drug Squad across Lancashire before joining the Regional Crime Squad which became the National Crime Squad. That was great fun. I saw service across the UK, Europe and beyond, often in covert roles reaching as far as South East Asia.

Roger A Price Detective

On my return to Lancashire Police I ran an informant unit – which was a challenge to say the least – managing those chaotic individuals was like trying to corral cats. I ended my time as a detective inspector in charge of an undercover drugs unit. Now I know all the above probably sounds quite sexy, and a lot of it was, I also got to see and do some horrible stuff too. I’ve been attacked with a knife twice, and looked down the barrel of a gun once – albeit not for long, before the ‘run away, run away’ instinct kicked in. But all that said my previous life has been fertile ground for a crime fiction writer.

I can’t really write about my experiences but I can use them to drive and inform my pen. But why do any of us write? It’s hard graft, takes a ridiculous amount of self-discipline, and one has to grow a skin thicker than a rhinoceros’s bottom lip after another rhinoceros has just stood on it. My answer: because we simply have to. I feel guilty if a day goes by and I haven’t written something. When a work-in-progress has finished, such as the first draft of a novel length work, I actually feel down. Even a little depressed. Don’t ask me why. But I do know that when the muse takes me and the words are flowing I’m locked into a solitary world where I’m never alone.

PATH TO PUBLICATION

I suffered my first rejection at the age of 11 or 12. I read a composition out to my class and the teacher refused to believe that I had not copied it from a book. Now at such a tender age, I didn’t see the backhanded compliment and therefore cast aside any literary ambitions for the next few decades. After the scars healed – in the early 80s – I took a correspondence course. Waste of time, but I did have some interest from magazines in some short stories I’d written. But I didn’t follow it up. In truth being a busy detective back in those days was not conducive to being a writer. It was not conducive to being anything outside of ‘the job’; as my first two ex-wives will no doubt testify! I know that detectives have the work/life balance much better nowadays, and that’s a good thing.

Anyway, fast forward to the late 90s and I decided to do a six month advanced creative writing course at my local college. I was on the National Crime Squad then as a detective sergeant with hair halfway down my back so presented myself as a bricklayer, praying that there wouldn’t be a real bricklayer on the course. I was lucky. However, part way through I was sent to Bangkok on a job. I only had three hours’ notice, but was told I should be home in a few days. Fast forward a month and I returned home to nearly finding my bags packed on the driveway – although that came later when I was on CID at Skelmersdale and was called down to the reception area to find my world in black bin bags filling the enquiry desk!! Anyway, as you may image, when I returned from the Far East I found that I’d been kicked off the writing course for non-attendance.

I left the cops in 2008 and did some private work and consultancy stuff for a while, but knew it was time to scratch that literary itch. I finished my first book ‘By Their Rules’ and gave it to a literary consultant to tear apart; and by god did she, but that taught me a huge amount about structure and how to write. I firmly believe you can’t be taught to be a storyteller, you either can, or you cannot. But you can be taught how to tell a story, which is essential today, especially if you wish to grab the attention of a commissioning editor as they fight their way through the quagmire of the submissions slush pile in a vain attempt to reach their desk.

THE GOOD NEWS:

for a limited period only, Endeavour have put both Nemesis and Vengeance on promo each available on kindle for 99p for a limited time. 

The amazon links in the article will take you to the relevant page, however the below links are probably better as they re-direct you to the book’s local amazon page irrespective of where in the world you are. Nemesis link is: myBook.to/myThrillersand the Vengeance link is: myBook.to/Thriller.

And you can use these links too:

AMAZON UK: http://goo.gl/dMxw09

By Their Rules was followed by A New Menace and having both received great reviews I had answered the two questions that all emerging voices must stress over: Can I write? And, can I write something that anyone actually wants to read?

AMAZON UK: http://goo.gl/hAKR3A

THE NEW BADGE AND THE PEN SERIES

I knew I had to change publishers for a variety of reasons, but not least in an attempt to further my way up the publishing ladder, and therefore devised a new crime thriller series. When I was in the police I always had a great relationship with the press, but I was probably the exception. A lot of senior detectives sometime forget that the media is not there to simply do their bidding. Each has their own agenda, driven by differing strategies, but all in all, they are both after the same outcome: the truth. So I thought it would be fun to have a maverick male DI and a sassy female TV news reporter as my main protagonists. Unlikely bedfellows who help each other out in their joint pursuit of the truth. Vinnie Palmer and Christine Jones were born.

Anyway, after a further ton of rejections, the wonderful people at Endeavour Press published the first in this series – Nemesis – in 2016. In both paperback and kindle.

AMAZON UK: http://goo.gl/CUjwAv

By the way, during my research for Nemesis I had to take a psychiatric appraisal answering the questions through the eyes of the main baddie! And he didn’t score well. I’ve often worried if any of me filtered through into those answers; I hope not. But you’ll have to read Nemesis to fully understand what I mean.

AMAZON UK: http://goo.gl/CUjwAv

Soon afterwards followed Vengeance which is now out on kindle and paperback. This is a follow up to Nemesis, but either can be read in any order so do work as stand-alones too.

AMAZON UK: myBook.to/Thrillers

I have to say I’m really excited about Vengeance, as I’ve added a political element too, parts of which may be construed as controversial, we’ll have to wait and see.

Please stay in touch via the usual ways, my various links are at the bottom. You can also join my mailing list if you wish via my Blog at: https://goo.gl/7nrI44 and receive a free short story. I’ll then send you the occasional newsletter and include further giveaways and promos too.

Roger, thanks for being such a fab guest, it has been so very interesting. I know you will have lots of questions and comments to deal with. I look forward to them also.

Thanks again for having me, Jane, and thanks to you all for stopping by.

Kindest regards,

Roger.

My Links: FB: www.facebook.com/CrimethillersbyRogerAPrice/videos/1223748534312903/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RAPriceAuthor

Website: www.rogerapriceauthor.com

Blog: http://rogerapriceauthor.blogspot.co.uk/

INTERNATIONAL AMAZON BUYING LINKS FROM ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD

NEMESIS: myBook.to/myThrillers   VENGEANCE: myBook.to/Thrillers

FREE TO  READ SHORT STORY

Hard Time

© Roger A Price 2016

Roger A Price has asserted his rights under the Copyright, Design and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as the author of this work.

First published 2016 by Roger A. Price.

‘I’ll remind you inspector that you are talking to the deputy governor of this prison and not one of your DCs,’ Small said.

     ‘Oh, I’m glad you pointed that out, I’d have never had known, thanks,’ Vinnie Palmer replied.

     ‘You’ve not been in central Manchester CID for too long have you?’

     ‘If you mean the A division, no, but I don’t see what that’s got to do with the matter in hand.’

     ‘I have a very good working relationship with Eric, the uniform super at your nick.’

     Now Vinnie’s blood was really up. He wondered how long it would take this spineless desk-jockey to try a stunt. ‘I’m glad you added “working”; as he’s a married man you know,’ Vinnie said, immediately regretting the remark.

     ‘Now look here—’ Small started.

     With his hands in the air, Vinnie interrupted, ‘Ok, the last jibe was a cheap shot, but quite frankly you asked for it. Let’s agree to disagree.’

     ‘About what?’

     ‘About the fact that we don’t like each other; but that aside, let’s get back to the matter in hand.’

     ‘Ok, but I don’t see what more my officers could have done.’

     Vinnie didn’t particularly have an issue with the over-worked prison officers at the prison; he was more troubled by what he saw as a lack of strategy and poor leadership at the senior level. If he was going to make any progress, he knew he would have to soften his approach. ‘Look, I’m not here to cause you unnecessary problems, and I know the problem with overcrowding is—’

     ‘My turn to interrupt you,’ Small said, continuing, ‘you have no idea the difficulties we face on a daily basis. We put that lad in with Crayton for just one night; he was to be moved into a more appropriate cell the following day.’

     Vinnie knew that they had managed to find a place on the segregation wing for Crayton, soon enough after the incident, and voiced his thoughts, adding, ‘Why couldn’t you have put Crayton on segregation for one night prior to, instead?’

     ‘We try and run this place mainly by consent, if we’d had moved Crayton as you suggest, he’d have kicked off, big time. And he gave his personal officer an assurance that he would leave the lad alone.’

     ‘Well, we both know how that ended up. Funny a con not keeping his word.’

     Vinnie could see that Small – whom he thought had a very apt name, even though he was tall – about to erupt again, so he threw his arms up for a second time. He knew he was being disrespectful, but the number of times the prisons called in the police to investigate offences, of which, most could have been avoided, seemed to be on the rise. Plus, his heart went out to the victim, who should never have been imprisoned in the first place, not that he could blame Small for that.

     The lad in question just loved his cars; or to be more accurate; other peoples. He was a serial joy-rider who at eighteen probably thought he would only get another slap on the wrist. But the local magistrate had clearly lost patience with him, and on his fifth conviction for taking someone else’s pride and joy for a spin, he sent him down. He must have thought his world had come to an end when he received an eight week sentence. Which in real terms only meant four weeks; but to an eighteen-year old, who’d never been locked up before it must have come as a great shock. But not as much as the shock of meeting his new cellmate on the first night of his incarceration.

     Crayton was a lifer, who had been sentenced many years ago to serve a minimum of twenty-five years for a double-murder. His earliest release date kept getting put back due to his fondest of sexually assaulting fellow inmates. So, to put an eighteen year old vulnerable first-timer in with him must have seemed like all his birthdays come at once, for Crayton, that is. And the youth’s worst nightmare.

     The poor lad had only been in the cell for ninety minutes before Crayton had pounced. What had particularly bothered Vinnie was the lad’s apparent mental state when he’d interviewed him. He was terrified and not in a good place, whereas the monster that was Crayton, wasn’t bothered in the slightest. All he’d said on interview was that the act had been consensual. One word against the other. In fact, it wasn’t even that. The lad had clearly been got at, he’d told Vinnie what had happened, but refused to sign a statement of complaint. Vinnie couldn’t really blame him, so that was that, job knackered. All Vinnie could hope to achieve was to try and ensure that the same mistakes weren’t repeated, which was why he purposely set about Deputy Governor Small in the way he had.   

     ‘I hope you’ve got him on suicide watch?’

     ‘But of course, fifteen minute checks.’

     ‘Where is Crayton?’

     ‘Still in segregation but we’ve padded him up with someone else in there.’

     ‘I hope he’s not another vulnerable eighteen year old first-timer?’

     ‘Far from it. Another lifer called Daniel Moxley; and before you ask; he’s worse than Crayton.’

     This didn’t paint a pleasant thought in Vinnie’s mind, but it sounded as if he’d got some of his point across, he thought, before saying, ‘You know I’ll have to file a report to the home office?’

     ‘What will it say?’

     ‘I’d like to be able to say that such a similar miss-matching of inmates in the same cell will never happen again.’

     Small just nodded.

     ‘And that Crayton will remain on seg for the foreseeable future.’

     Small nodded again.

     ‘And that the youth will be moved immediately to a Cat C prison.’

     Small sighed this time and then said, ‘As of tomorrow. Is that soon enough?’

     It was Vinnie’s turn to nod now, and then he added, ‘I’ll also then be able to add that I’m satisfied that senior management have put sufficient policies in place to prevent any further crimes of this nature occurring in such circumstances.’

     They both nodded this time and Vinnie knew the meeting was over, he’d pretty much got what he’d hoped to achieve, no point in aggravating Small more than he needed to. He bade his farewell and headed towards the door out of the deputy governor’s office. As he reached it, he stopped and turned back towards, Small, and said, ‘You said this Moxley you’ve padded Crayton up with is of similar ilk.’

     ‘Worse,’ Small replied.

     ‘And should anything go off between them, then I guess they would probably deserve it, whichever way around it was to happen.’

     ‘Both scum.’

     ‘Granted, but shouldn’t we be better than that? Instead of fostering an environment which promotes this sort of abuse, albeit between “scum” as you put it; shouldn’t you keep both men separate?”

     ‘Goodbye inspector, you’d do well to stick to the issue in hand and let me worry about running this place.’

     Vinnie realised he gone as far as he could expect to with Small, but felt duty-bound to make his observations known to Small, nonetheless. ‘One last thing?’

     ‘What?’ Small snapped.

     ‘Have you arranged any support for the victim, or spoken to his family?’

     ‘I put the phone down on his irate brother; Ben, I think his name was, earlier on, and as for support? Being moved to a Cat C will be all the support he’s getting. Now, if you don’t mind?’    

     Vinnie let the door swing too behind him without saying another word, and shook his head as he walked down the corridor towards the first locked gate on his way out of the prison. Granted, he couldn’t image some of the difficulties Small had alluded to, but the man was part of the problem, not the solution. Men like Crayton and Moxley should be in solitary confinement as far as he was concerned, and Small was in the wrong job.

     One thing was for sure though, this wouldn’t be his last official visit to the prison, that, he was certain of.

***

     It was gone six by the time Small decided he’d had enough for the day. The arrogant cocky detective inspector had got under his skin. He must think they are running some kind of hotel. He couldn’t give a damn what the likes of Crayton and Moxley got up to, just as long as they helped keep order in the prison. That was the real reason he turned a blind eye to much of their socialising. They were forceful characters who commanded respect, and fear among the other inmates. A strategy that, the likes of that DI Palmer would never understand. He would be having a word with his boss Eric at the next lodge meeting. And as for the lad, who’d been attacked, whose name he’d already forgotten – collateral damage to help keep Crayton happy. Just so long as Palmer’s report wasn’t too scathing, all would be well. As for the lad, he’d be on his way to a Cat C the following day. He could have had him shipped to Kirkham open prison on the other side of Preston, about forty miles away; it’s a Cat D as well. After all it’s not as if the lad with no name was a flight risk, but he’d chosen a Cat C in the Midlands instead. Just because he could.

     Small knew that resources were always a problem, but not in this case. With the help of people like Crayton he could keep control, and who knows Small may end up running the place one day, after all, the current governor delegated most of the day-to-day stuff to him as it was, and retirement wasn’t too far away for him. Hopefully, he’d be sitting pretty.

     Thirty minutes later, he pulled up outside his trendy townhouse in north Manchester, but was annoyed to see his usual parking place taken. It was supposed to be ‘residents only’ parking and he was sure that the shitty white Transit van occupying his space wasn’t local. He looked around but could not see any free spaces; he’d have to hunt for one around the corner. But as he passed the van he noticed a hooded person sat in the driver’s seat, but he’d gone past and now had someone else up behind him. He turned left and parked on the edge of the corner. It would do for now while he had a quick word with the van driver and tell him to move. He walked the short distance back to his house and as he approached he saw the interior light in the van’s cab illuminate as the driver got out. The hooded driver walked towards him, but before Small could start to remonstrate, the driver spoke first.

     ‘You Mr Small?’

     ‘Yes, why?’

     ‘I’ve got a delivery for you and didn’t want to leave it on your step, so I thought I’d give it five.’

     The attitude left Small now as he arrived and confirmed who he was.

     ‘Round the back mate, I’ll need a signature.’

     Small looked up at his house but could not see any sign of life, she was obviously not in. He just wondered what the hell she’d been buying online this time. He followed the driver as he arrived at the back of the van and opened one of the two doors. The driver then stood back and Small strained to see inside in the half-light. Then he heard and felt two things at the same time. A buzzing electrical sound, like something out of Dr Frankenstein’s laboratory, and a sharp deliberating pain which shot through his back in all directions. It stopped almost as soon as it had started, but he felt like every muscle in his body had tensed and locked at the same time. He didn’t feel the shove in his back that must have followed, but he landed hard face-down on the floor of the van. The rear door slammed shut, and just as he was starting to regain his motor responses, he was thrown on to his side by the motion of the van being driven off at speed.

***

     Vinnie Palmer had just finished giving the uniform super, Eric, an update from the prison when his phone announced the arrival of a text. He glanced at it, it was from his wife, Lesley; “Are you planning on coming home tonight?” he ignored it as he turned back to face Eric.

     ‘How did you find the deputy governor, Kenneth Small?’

     Vinnie told him and didn’t hold back, and he included the “lodge” remark.

     ‘Cheeky bastard,’ Eric started, ‘I’m not in any lodge, but I’ve no doubt that he is.’

     Vinnie wasn’t too sure whether to believe him, but it was more important to note that he clearly didn’t like, Small.

     ‘We have to get on with them, but I’m expecting a warts-and-all report from you, Vinnie, though I’ll need evidence in it to back up any misgivings. At least then I can approach the governor with any issues; I get the impression that he leaves too much of the day to day running of things with Small. So, if things are going to improve, it’s only right we raise it with the governor first, before we threaten to take any concerns to London.

     It was a fair approach Vinnie knew, but he just hoped he didn’t find himself back at the prison too soon, looking into the face of another vulnerable inmate-turned-victim.

     ‘Fair enough, boss, but I won’t bet against the odds of being called back there in the near future.’

     The super Eric nodded and both men bade their farewells. Vinnie sighed as he pulled his phone from his pocket as he walked out the super’s office, time to text Lesley back.

***

     The van came to a stop and Small could tell they were on uneven ground. Then the rear doors were opened and he could see that it was fully dark now, and wherever they were, there was little light about. A pair of gloved hands pulled him out of the van and he realised it was the hooded driver again.

     ‘Look, I don’t know what you want, I’ve no money on me—’ Small started to say before the back of one the gloved hands connected hard with his left cheek. The blow shocked him as much as it hurt.

     ‘Listen in you little shite, and listen good,’ the driver said.

     Small nodded.

     ‘You run that prison like your own fiefdom, and you couldn’t give a shit about the likes of Worthing.’

     Worthing, that name rang a bell, Small thought.

     ‘You’ve forgotten him already?’ the driver said.

     Small didn’t answer.

     ‘I know what goes on in there, I have ears on the inside,’ the driver said, as he pulled a flick knife out of his hoodie pocket, and then made the blade spring out of its handle. Now Small was really scared.

     ‘The way you protect the likes of Crayton and his like has to stop. And Worthing gets moved to a local open prison, not some shithole the other side of the country.’

     Small knew who Worthing was now, and he was pretty sure the driver was his brother Ben; the one he’d put the phone down on earlier. He was about to say “I know who you are, and you’ll not get away with this” but for once common sense silenced his loose mouth. He just nodded.

     ‘If not I’ll pay you another visit and next time you won’t be so lucky’, the driver said as he produced a Taser from his other pocket and held it in his free hand. It was obviously what he had used on him earlier, but it wasn’t gun shaped and yellow like the ones the cops had, more like a black torch. He stood facing him, a knife in one hand, and the Taser in the other.

     Then the driver lunged at him, and in that split second he couldn’t be sure which hand was flashing its way towards his chest. The van was immediately behind him giving him nowhere to go. Not that it would matter, the driver was too fast.

 

The End.

This short story tells its own tale but it is also a prologue to ‘NEMESIS’ my new crime thriller which is out now in paperback and as an e-book. I hope you are tempted to try it, kind regards, Roger.  

NEMESIS – BACK OF BOOK BLURB.

The body count is rising…
When psychopath Daniel Moxley makes his escape while being escorted to Broadmoor high security prison, he sets off on a trail of bloody revenge, leaving police forces throughout the north of England floundering in his wake. Moxley’s paranoia has him seemingly selecting victims at random. The only thing they have in common is the gruesome nature of their killings. Police, prison warders and even old ladies have been the target of Moxley’s cold-blooded murder spree.

When Detective Inspector Vinnie Palmer is assigned to the case, Moxley decides that he too must die, but not before he has led him from one blood-soaked scene to another. Among his victims is Vinnie’s offsider, Detective Constable Rob Hill, who he discovers has his own dark and destructive secret that rips Vinnie’s life apart.

With the help of Moxley’s psychiatrist, Vinnie delves deep into the man’s criminal past and uncovers a history of corrupt police, sexual coercion and gaol brutality. But when Vinnie closes in on Moxley and takes the law into his own hands, he ends up suspended and stripped of his police powers. Determined not to let Moxley escape justice, Vinnie continues his pursuit of the maniac as a private citizen. He teams up with determined television reporter Christine Jones and together they pursue Moxley north to Scotland and back again.

But the killer always seems to be one step ahead, leaving a trail mutilated bodies in his wake. Lured on by Moxley’s taunts, Vinnie discovers that it is his own wife – a fellow police worker – who has been an unwitting aid in Moxley’s deadly deeds. As a result, his suspension is lifted in time for him and Christine to gain full police support and finally confront Moxley in a terrifying final encounter.

But is it too late?

Available now on Amazon UK: http://goo.gl/CUjwAv and US: http://goo.gl/wkLSMz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.’