Letters from ElsewhereWelcome to another letter from elsewhere, brought to you by Helen from The Forgotten by J.V. Baptie, due to be published by Crooked Cat Books on 13 June, this year. Over to you, Helen.

August 6th 1970

Dear Mum,

I’ve tried a few times to get you on the telephone, I hope everything is well at home. Not much new to report here. I’m sorry I missed Carol’s wedding. Did she get the card I sent?  The training is going really well at the police college and I couldn’t miss it. We’re training with the male police officers too and it’s quite strict. Once this is over I’ll be looking into missing persons.  How exciting!

I hope I didn’t let Uncle Bill down too much by turning down his lovely offer to work in his practice. Truthfully, I wasted two years after university working in Wimpey because I couldn’t face working in there. I think we both know if I had accepted that job I’d never have applied for the police.  There’s a few other things I need to tell you but it’s best to tell you them in person.

Talk soon love
Helen xx

Ah, now I’m wondering about those few other things…

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The Forgotten by J.V. Baptie, yet to be covered.

About The Forgotten

Newly promoted into CID, acting Detective Sergeant Helen Carter has a lot on her hands. When a body is found in an abandoned cinema, no one in the team has seen anything like it before and when the business card of an ex-cop private detective is found, the case takes a chilling turn.

As the body count mounts, can Helen find the killer while her own life is falling apart?

About J.V.

JV Baptie.

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J.V. Baptie graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University in 2017 with an MA in Creative Writing. When not writing, she is also an actress and has appeared in a variety of children’s shows and stage plays. JV lives near Edinburgh where her novel is set.

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You can find J.V. on her website on Facebook and on Twitter.

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I’m looking for places to give more talks about Social Anxiety in the UK during the first half of March. Because everyone should know about it but so few do.

Maybe you belong to a social group where they’d be interested. Or you have connections with a library, college, uni, school or…. The possibilities are endless.

I will be there anyway to lead an NUT workshop and to give talks.

Letters from Elsewhere

I’m delighted… I have much pleasure in…. My guest today is someone I feel I know intimately. That’s because I edited the book he comes from: Purgatory Hotel by Crooked Cat author, Anne-Marie Ormsby. And that’s why I’m having difficulty introducing him – because, between you and me, I’m not sure I really want to meet him.

Ah, here he is! Welcome to the blog, Jackson. Do tell us what disappointed you today.

D,

You came down for breakfast late today, only a few minutes but I noticed.

You wouldn’t look at me. Why?

You wore that Lolita book cover t-shirt that I bought you, and I always feel like you’re communicating with me when you wear it. Or if you are reading a book I gave you, I feel like you must be thinking about me.

You looked tired, like you didn’t sleep all night, had you been crying?

I couldn’t bear it. I just wanted to get up and pull you up into my arms, and make you OK again, like it didn’t matter anymore about anything else. It just mattered that I hold you then, at that moment, that I let you know how much I love you and that everything would be fine and I didn’t care who knew it.

When you left I hoped you would look at me for just a second, just turn your beautiful eyes to me, just long enough so I’d know you’d seen me, just one look is enough to let me know you are still mine.

But you didn’t look at me, you just mumbled a goodbye and walked out.

And I felt like I couldn’t breathe. Like I’d actually lost you, you had finally gone, the spell broken, the dream over.

But it’s me that’s under your spell isn’t it? It’s me who’s trapped, my soul tethered to yours forever.

Some days I feel like you’ve been dragging me around for centuries. Me forever your shadow, ghosting you in silence.

But some nights when you look at me, and you truly see me, it’s like that first moment we saw each other. It’s all new again and I’m more alive than I have ever been, every nerve electric, my heart clattering in my chest, banging out your name.

If only you had looked at me this morning. Just for a second.

It rained all day and I felt like I had lost you.

But I’m always losing you. Every day. Every night.

Please come back to me, please.

 

Jackson

Thank you for that, Jackson. Erm, nice meeting you.

Readers, you’re probably wondering what all the fuss is about. But Jackson is not what he seems from this letter. I think he’s very selfish and inconsiderate, but that might just be me.

Purgatory Hotel by Anne-Marie OrmsbyAbout Purgatory Hotel

Dakota Crow has been murdered, her body dumped in a lonely part of the woods, and nobody knows but her and her killer.

Stranded in Purgatory, a rotting hotel on the edge of forever, with no memory of her death, Dakota knows she must have done something bad to be deposited among murderers and rapists. To get to somewhere safer, she must hide from the shadowy stranger stalking her through the corridors of the hotel, and find out how to repent for her sins.

But first she must re-live her life.

Soon she will learn about her double life, a damaging love affair, terrible secrets, and lies that led to her violent death.
Dakota must face her own demons, and make amends for her own crimes before she can solve her murder and move on.

But when she finds out what she did wrong, will she be truly sorry?

You can find Purgatory Hotel on Amazon UK and Amazon US.

About Anne-Marie Ormsby

Anne-Marie OrmsbyOn a warm day in July 1978, a mother was admitted to hospital, awaiting the arrival of her new baby. She was reading Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie and the midwives thought it a gruesome choice for an expectant mother. A story of a long forgotten murder and repressed memories. As it turned out her new baby, Anne-Marie would grow up and find herself drawn to all things macabre, and would one day herself turn out a story of murder and memories lost. Anne Marie grew up on the Essex coast with her parents and six siblings in a house that was full of books and movies and set the scene for her lifelong love of both. She began writing short stories when she was still at primary school after reading the book The October Country by Ray Bradbury. He was and still is her favourite author and the reason she decided at age 9 that she too would be a writer someday. In her teens she continued to write short stories and branched out into poetry, publishing a few in her late teens. In her early twenties she began committing herself to writing a novel and wrote one by the age of 20 that she then put away, fearing it was too weird for publication. She wrote Purgatory Hotel over several years, but again kept it aside after several rejections from publishers. Luckily for her, she found a home for her twisted tale with Crooked Cat Books. Her favourite authors include Ray Bradbury, Jack Kerouac, Stephen King, Denis Lehane and Douglas Coupland. She also takes great inspiration from music and movies, her favourite artists being Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, Johnny Cash, Interpol, David Lynch and David Fincher. Anne-Marie moved to London in 2008 where she lives to this day, amidst books and DVDs, with her husband and daughter.

Anne-Marie Ormsby can be found on her websiteFacebook and Twitter.

Letters from Elsewhere

Yes, Letters from Elsewhere is back for another series in which characters pop out from fiction to meet you. In this first letter of the new series, you can meet Sheba who is writing to Heather. Sheba comes to you straight from the pages of The Cocktail Bar, a brand new novel from Crooked Cat author, Isabella May. Although Sheba and Heather are not the stars of the book, their story plays a pivotal role.

Welcome to the blog, Sheba. I gather you have a few grievances against your younger sister.

Dear Heather,
I never wanted things to get so petty, so childish; so ridiculous, but you’ve always been the younger sister who got it all. In truth, it wasn’t really The Sting Thing that started it; you’ve always been the fairest of them all. If our parents’ judgement was the magic mirror, then you’d be Snow White, me the outright wicked Step Mother. Besides, you getting to be Sting’s groupie that day; getting to trail after the lilt of his voice as it reverberated from the archways of the Tor… well, I as good as predicted it all when I cut your tarot cards.

“You’ll be entranced by a tall blond male,” I’d said, “a tall blond male on a mound.”

A vision of my favourite musician in the world had flashed inexplicably into my head. Lo and behold, I must have transmitted that image to yours. Double lo and behold… the very next day there he was shooting his video for ‘If I Ever Lose My Faith in You’ upon Glastonbury’s iconic green hill: The Ancient Isle of Avalon.

Silly, isn’t it?

Me a married woman, still unable to forgive my younger sibling for not sharing the breaking local news, for not inviting her sister along that day. But nobody’s allegiance to a Sting song was greater than mine.

I could have taken a break from the caravan park. It was hardly peak season and I was my own boss – still am (despite what Tony might think), that place wouldn’t get a single booking if it wasn’t for me.

But I digress.

The stark fact of the matter is this: you didn’t think of a soul but yourself, you seized at your good fortune, my nephew, little River, hanging on your purple coattails. Do you even know how lucky you are to have him in your life? Not all of us are blessed with the gift that is a child, Heather.

No, you take, take, take!

What have you given that son of yours in return? Nothing but insecurity and confusion! Still you haven’t pieced together the puzzle that is his father; our own mother and father thinking butter wouldn’t melt in your mouth that summer of ’84. But I knew better. I knew you were at the festival… jumping into every Tom, Dick and Harry’s tents for a little Free Love.

That’s why I gave River a home here in my very best caravan (with his Alice), both of them fleeing the media’s trail. Yes, in his hour of need, I class myself as more of a mother to him than you have ever been. River will have a home here for as long as he needs it. But as for these pointless Chinese whisper style games that wend their way into my caravan park via my nephew’s hints that we should kiss, make up and live happily ever after: quit now while you are ahead, Heather dear.

This town isn’t big enough for the both of us. And only one of us has the helpful skill of black magic tucked up her sleeve.

Regards,
Sheba

Oh dear, this sounds like quite a rift in your family! Well, thanks for coming, Sheba. I won’t keep you any longer from The Cocktail Bar.

The Cocktail BarAbout The Cocktail Bar

Rock star, River Jackson, is back in his hometown of Glastonbury to open a cocktail bar… and the locals aren’t impressed.

Seductive Georgina is proving too hot to handle; band mate, Angelic Alice, is messing with his heart and his head; his mum is a hippie-dippy liability; his school friends have resorted to violence – oh, and his band manager, Lennie, AND the media are on his trail.

But River is armed with a magical Mexican elixir which will change the lives of the Three Chosen Ones. Once the Mexican wave of joy takes a hold of the town, he’s glad he didn’t lose his proverbial bottle.

Pity he hasn’t taken better care of the real one…

The Cocktail Bar is available here from Amazon.

BIO

Isabella MayIsabella May lives in (mostly) sunny Andalucia, Spain with her husband, daughter and son, creatively inspired by the sea and the mountains. When she isn’t having her cake and eating it, sampling a new cocktail on the beach, or ferrying her children to and from after school activities, she can usually be found writing.

As a co-founder and a former contributing writer for the popular online women’s magazine, The Glass House Girls she has also been lucky enough to subject the digital world to her other favourite pastimes, travel, the Law of Attraction, and Prince (The Purple One).

She has recently become a Book Fairy, and is having lots of fun with her imaginative ‘drops’!

The Cocktail Bar is her second novel with Crooked Cat Books, following on from the hit sensation, Oh! What a Pavlova, which appeared on this blog in September an was published in 2017. Her third novel, Costa del Churros, will be published in September 2018.

You can follow Isabella May on her website and social media here:

www.isabellamayauthor.com

Twitter – @IsabellaMayBks

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/IsabellaMayAuthor/

Instagram – @isabella_may_author

Last Day

Today is the last day of the Crooked Cat Sale, in which all ebooks are reduced to 99p/99c. Hurry over to Amazon and search for ‘Crooked Cat Books.’ My books are there, too.

6 Ws

I enjoyed my 6 Ws with Joan Livingston. I hope you do, too.

Letters from Elsewhere

From next week, my popular series, Letters from Elsewhere, is back. Each Friday, you can meet another character from a novel. See you next week!

Letters from Elsewhere

During the month of December, my publisher, Crooked Cat Books, has been offering a free ebook each day and very kindly donating to a charity chosen by the author of that book. There have been some very worthy charities in the fields of cancer, dementia, children in need and animal welfare.

Neither Here Nor ThereSo, why have I chosen a charity that helps young people who have decided to change their lifestyle?

First of all, it fits my romance, which is free today: Neither Here Nor There. The heroine has just left the closed haredi community in which she grew up and has to learn to cope in the outside world.

But mostly it’s because I’ve realised how difficult that transformation is. Children have no choice in the sort of family they’re born into. If they then come to the conclusion, by themselves, that the only lifestyle they know isn’t for them, they need a lot of help before they can fit into the new lifestyle.

I stress by themselves, because Hillel stresses it, too:

We believe that all people have the right to choose the lifestyle they want, and we therefore never try to convince anybody to change their lifestyle – we only help those who have already made an independent decision to become less religious.

I believe Hillel does a very important job. Thank you, Crooked Cat, for donating to them today.

To download my book for free today, go to the Crooked Cat Books website, click on the little Father Christmas and use the coupon code to ‘purchase’ the book. (If the Smashwords page looks strange, go back, right click the link and choose ‘Open link in new tab.’)

Today is launch day for the second of Alice Castle’s novels featuring amateur sleuth, Beth Haldane. Here to tell us more about it is the author herself. Over to you, Alice!

Alice CastleTheGirl In The GalleryThanks so much to Miriam for hosting me today. It’s a great pleasure to tell you a little about my book, The Girl in the Gallery. It’s a cozy crime whodunit, the second in my London Murder Mysteries series, but it can be read as a stand-alone novel too.

The story is inspired by Dulwich Picture Gallery, a wonderful place which is stuffed with great art. It’s not the paintings that gave me the idea for the story, though, but the building itself, which is very unusual. At its heart is a mausoleum, containing the dead bodies of the original collectors in marble coffins, on display to the public. Weird and very creepy. I have always thought it would be a brilliant setting for a murder mystery.

 It was a great pleasure doing the research for the book. As well as going to lots of exhibitions, I read up on the life and times of Sir John Soane, the architect –  and had plenty of lunches in the Gallery’s restaurant as well.

The book features my single mum amateur sleuth, Beth Haldane, who’s already been called a ‘modern Miss Marple.’ I’m a huge Agatha Christie fan so I loved this description. One of the reasons I decided to set my series in Dulwich was because, to me, it feels like a contemporary equivalent of St Mary Mead (Miss Marple’s village) in that everyone knows each other – or thinks they do. But the nastiest secrets can lurk in the nicest places, as Beth discovers.

I hope you’ll enjoy reading the book.

The Girl in the Gallery by Alice Castle

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to Dulwich…

It’s a perfect summer’s morning in the plush south London suburb, and thirty-something Beth Haldane has sneaked off to visit one of her favourite places, the world-famous Picture Gallery.

She’s enjoying a few moments’ respite from juggling her job at prestigious private school Wyatt’s and her role as single mum to little boy Ben, when she stumbles across a shocking new exhibit on display. Before she knows it, she’s in the thick of a fresh, and deeply chilling, investigation.

Who is The Girl in the Gallery? Join Beth in adventure #2 of the London Murder Mystery series as she tries to discover the truth about a secret eating away at the very heart of Dulwich.

About Alice

AliceCastle1Before turning to crime, Alice Castle was a UK newspaper journalist for The Daily Express, The Times and The Daily Telegraph. Her first book, Hot Chocolate, set in Brussels and London, was a European best-seller which sold out in two weeks.

Alice is currently working on the sequel to Death in Dulwich and The Girl in the Gallery, the third book in the London Murder Mystery series. It will be published next year and is entitled The Calamity in Camberwell. Once again, it features Beth Haldane and DI Harry York.

Alice is also a top mummy blogger, writing DD’s Diary at www.dulwichdivorcee.com.

She lives in south London and is married with two children, two step-children and two cats.

Author website: https://www.alicecastleauthor.com

Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/alicecastleauthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DDsDiary?lang=en

Links to buy books: The Girl in the Gallery  Death in Dulwich, Hot Chocolate