Dec 2017


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

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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

I’m delighted to have Anne-Marie Ormsby, author of the newly released Purgatory Hotel, on the blog today. I know this novel well, because I edited it. But before interviewing her, I wanted to be clear on what my religion says about the afterlife. I was a bit confused about this topic and now I realise why: Judaism itself is confused.

While Jewish prayers concentrate on life on Earth, we do pray for the souls of the departed. In modern Hebrew, as well as Hebrew from long ago, Heaven is Gan Eden or Garden of Eden, Hell is Gehinnom. Both names are taken from places on Earth – one that no longer exists and one that still does (and is not a million miles from where I live). Is there a Purgatory? Well, it doesn’t have a specific name, but, as this article explains, the belief is that most souls remain in Hell for up to a year before moving to Gan Eden.

Catholicism, as I understand it, is much more definite about the afterlife, although I don’t think it goes as far as describing Purgatory as an old, Victorian-like hotel, full of cobwebs and dim lights that flicker and often go out altogether, surrounded by an outside you really don’t want to go to. Hence my first question.

Hello, Anne-Marie, and welcome to my blog. Where did your visualization of Purgatory come from? Is it totally made up?

Anne-Marie OrmsbyIt was initially inspired by a song by Nick Cave called ‘God’s Hotel.’ It got me to thinking about what the afterlife would be like if it involved being in a hotel. Then I started thinking about how frightening it would be if it was not heaven, but something darker. I generally find hotels to be a bit creepy, The Shining is the most frightening movie I have ever seen, and I think it affected how I see hotels, but I’ve been in a few Victorian hotels that felt quite sinister.

Are the Earthly places in the novel real or imaginary?

They are totally imaginary and not based on a particular place. The graveyard, church and woods are just an amalgamation of lots of different places I have been.

Is all your writing so dark?

No, I’ve actually written two other stories that would be more at home in the chick-lit genre but I haven’t done anything with them. I think I will always lean towards the darker side of things when writing as I find it more interesting to write about things that some people would rather look away from. But who knows, one day I might attempt to publish a book I wrote about relationships between a group of thirty-something friends/lovers.

Did writing Purgatory Hotel make you depressed, or did it have the opposite effect? Did you need to take breaks from the writing?

Purgatory Hotel by Anne-Marie OrmsbyI wrote Purgatory twelve years ago when I was in a very unhappy place. I was in an abusive relationship and felt very low at times. Writing made me happy, it was an escape to go into this other world, so it was actually therapeutic for me to write. I do think that experience of darker emotions helps in writing characters that way. When I was working on new revisions of the book over the last year, I think my approach was different as I wasn’t in the same place as previously. When I am writing about certain emotions I have to put myself back in that place to access a true response to it, but I don’t stay there.

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I’m glad life is better for you now. Lula, in the novel, suffers from depression and maybe OCD. Do you feel comfortable writing about mental health?

Having had a lot of experience with mental health issues I was quite comfortable writing about it. I had some issues myself when I was younger and I studied psychology and counselling. I’m always interested in interpretations of mental health in books and movies. I think it’s an important subject.

So do I! One problem that often comes up when editing novels is the use of text that may be subject to copyright. How did you get permission to use all the poetry and songs that appear in Purgatory Hotel?

For the Nick Cave lyrics, I wrote to his record company and requested permission to use them. For the poetry I used poems that are copyright free due to their age.

What do you do to relax? Do you like watching horror movies or do you prefer to get away from all that?

To relax I generally watch movies or TV box sets with my husband, he doesn’t really enjoy horror so I save my horror movies for nights in alone or when my best friends come to stay the weekend! But we both enjoy crime dramas and true crime documentaries.

(I’m with your husband, there.)

Other than that I enjoy days out with my husband and daughter and once she has gone to bed I get a chance to do some yoga and read/ research whatever I am working on.

Would your friends and family describe you as a bundle of fun?

I think they’d describe me as a happy, positive person with an eccentric sense of humour – a sense of humour I subject people to as often as possible. I don’t think you have to be a miserable person to write about dark subject matter, but having experience of unhappiness helps when having to recreate it in a story. When I am writing about certain emotions I have to put myself back in that place to access a true response to it, but I don’t stay there.

I’m glad to hear it. What’s next?

I am now starting work on another paranormal fiction novel set in London. It will be a reworking of a novel I wrote when I was in my early twenties. It’s a slow process though – I have a small child now so not as much time and space to write, but I have started making notes and saving ideas. I don’t tend to plot my stories out – I just write and see what happens, but I’m laying the ground work for an overall idea.

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Thank you, Anne-Marie, for your interesting responses and good luck with your future writing.

Find Anne-Marie Ormsby on her website, Facebook and Twitter.

Find Purgatory Hotel on Amazon UK and Amazon US.

It’s that time of year (for some). The time when you have to think up presents for everyone. It’s hard.

But there’s one person who wouldn’t be a problem. You know exactly what you want to give that person. You know she’s quiet and locked inside herself. You know he’d benefit from reading

because you’ve read it yourself. You know it’s an easy-to-read, no-nonsense, comprehensive book.

However, there’s still a problem. You don’t want to embarrass that person. If he opened it in front of others, he wouldn’t thank you for giving it to him.

How can you give her the book, disguise what’s inside the package and make sure she opens it when she’s alone?

This is where your creative abilities come in. I’ve done my part. I wrote the book and I put the challenge to you!