Books


Letters from Elsewhere

Emma is a troubled woman. I don’t need to say any more about her before you read her letter, except to tell you that she comes from the pages of The (D)Evolution of Us by Morwenna Blackwood.

To…who? 

            My son, Richard.  I don’t even know who you are.  Or who you will become.  You’re just a name and a parasite at the moment.  You battered me from the inside, and now you demand me without end.

I do love your dad, but we couldn’t have been together – not in this town.  The old gossips would have called him a cradle-snatcher if they knew who he was.  I can’t even tell you.  Sorry, but it’s not worth the hassle.  And that’s the reason I didn’t shove a knitting needle up me and destroy you – because I love your dad, and you are a piece of him.  He’s a good man, and if you turn out to be even half the man he is, I’ll be proud.

I’m sure I’ll know, even when I’m gone.  Because I won’t be here to see it.  I can’t do this.  I’ve tried to stop the drink and everything, but I can’t do it.  I can’t live with that woman and be sober.  I mean your Nan.  I can’t live with her judging me and everything I do; with you screaming blue murder all day.  Why do you have to cry so much?  Can you sense how shit I am?

You ripped my body apart when you came into the world, and now you are ripping up my mind.  You make me think about the future, you make me dependent on that woman, you make me miss my dad, but more than that, you made me lose the only man I’ve ever loved; the only person who’s ever loved me.

And in spite of all this, I’m worried about you.  I feel responsible for you.  I’m trying not to let in the fact that I might actually love you; that I could teach you about the stars and the Universe and Nature, that I could teach you to count to ten, ride a bike – you might even get the chance to go to uni.  But I won’t let that in.  I couldn’t even choose you your own name; you got my dad’s.  I couldn’t look after you, anyway – I’m a shit mum.  I could barely even get you out of me.  I feel bad, leaving you with my fucking mother – she’s been shit with me – but she does better than I do.  She likes you more than she likes me, anyway.  I can’t think.  You’ve lost me my love.

He understood me.  He knew my dad.  You’ve got good genes on your dad’s side.  You’ll be okay.

But it’s too late for me.  I’m going to meet my dad now.  Hopefully.  ‘Merry meet and merry part and merry meet again’, they say.  They’re wrong about the parting bit. 

I’ve lost faith.  Good luck, Richard.  I hope you find something that makes sense.  I can’t do this anymore.

Your mum, Emma.

About The (D)Evolution of Us

The (D)Evolution of Us by Morwenna Blackwood… the water was red and translucent, like when you rinse a paint brush in a jam jar.  The deeper into the water, the darker the red got.  No, the thicker it got.  It wasn’t water, it was human.  It was Cath.

Cath is dead, but why and how isn’t clear cut to her best friend, Kayleigh.  As Kayleigh searches for answers, she is drawn deeper into Cath’s hidden world.  The (D)Evolution of Us questions where a story really begins, and whether the world in our heads is more real than reality.

The (D)Evolution of Us will be released by Darkstroke on 4th May. The ebook can be pre-ordered now on Amazon.

About Morwenna Blackwood

Morwenna BlackwoodWhen Morwenna Blackwood was six years old, she got told off for filling a school exercise book with an endless story when she should have been listening to the teacher/eating her tea/colouring with her friends.  The story was about a frog.  It never did end; and Morwenna never looked back.

Born and raised in Devon, Morwenna suffered from severe OCD and depression, and spent her childhood and teens in libraries.  She travelled about for a decade before returning to Devon.  She now has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Exeter, and lives with her husband, son and three cats in a cottage that Bilbo Baggins would be proud of.  When she is not writing, she works for an animal rescue charity, or can be found down by the sea.

She often thinks about that frog.

Find Morwenna on Amazon, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Letters from Elsewhere

Today’s visitor is Luciano, who has popped over from the pages of Torn, the debut thriller by friend and author Karen Moore.

Luciano is writing to his estranged English wife, Hanna, to explain his reasons for keeping the identity of his family business a secret.

Carissima Hanna

I’m writing this letter because it’s the only way I can apologise for all the hurt I’ve caused you. I feel compelled to explain myself. We never really had an opportunity to discuss the situation properly, with you leaving Sicily so suddenly.

This situation is all my fault. I should have been honest with you from the start. But I was so scared that my family situation would make you run a mile. I couldn’t have that, Hanna. I wanted you too much, and I know the feeling was mutual. I have never felt such chemistry with someone and will never do so again, of that I’m sure.

Even my family took to you, although they had their doubts about welcoming a stranger into their midst. Our relationship was probably doomed from the start. We came from such different backgrounds – you, from your upright English middle-class, well-educated family, and me … well, brought up in the family business. For me, this is a way of life, one from which there is no escape and impossible to challenge. If I tried to do so, I would dishonour my family and curtail any hope of reaching old age. You will no doubt find this difficult to accept.

I did think about telling you, but it never seemed to be the right time. And the longer I left it, the harder it became. In the end, it was just impossible, and inevitable that things between us would turn out badly.

 

Sicily

But what a price I have paid, Hanna. Happiness with you and Eva, the chance of a family life of my own. Maybe if I had told you the truth earlier, you would have understood, even learned to accept it and stayed with me. But I doubt it. That would have been too much to ask of anyone. We would never have had those years of intense happiness, years I will always remember with such fondness. Losing you is like a physical pain that rips through my body each passing day. But I have no choice. My only consolation is knowing that you’re safe and far away from this life.

Finding out the truth the way you did must have been unbearable. You did the right thing, getting away from here as fast as you could. My dilemma was trying to protect both my families. The darkest day of my life was letting you go.

Perhaps now you understand a little how difficult all this has been for me and how deeply I regret all the hurt I’ve caused you. You will always have a place in my heart.

Forgive me.

Luciano

Torn by Karen MooreAbout Torn

Like any mother, Hanna would do anything to protect her small daughter, Eva.

When she discovers that her husband, Luciano, is not all he seems and their blissful life on the island of Sicily is threatened, she wastes no time in seeking refuge abroad. But just as they are settling into their new life, Eva disappears.

In a race against time, Hanna is forced to return to Sicily and face the dark world of organised crime in a bid to secure her daughter’s safe return. She must also confront the truth about Luciano’s business dealings and their horrific consequences.

But will Hanna succeed in getting Eva back and bring Luciano to justice, or are the stakes just too high?

Find Torn on Amazon

About Karen Moore

Karen Moore, authorKaren Moore is passionate about all things noir – crime, mystery, thrillers – and writes in that genre.

She has been writing all her life, mostly for work purposes, and is now delighted to be able to spend more time developing her own creative work.

Her debut novel, Torn, is a dark tale of intrigue and betrayal set in Sicily and North Wales. She is currently working on the sequel.

Karen worked as a tour guide across Europe, North America and Canada, followed by a career in PR and marketing. She has lived in France and Italy and is now based in Cheshire, England.

You can find Karen on Facebook and Twitter.

It’s time for a change.

I’ve changed my profile photo over social media. I’ve also changed various cover photos.

Miriam Drori

I have news, but I can’t divulge it yet.

And, in conjunction with the featuring of me on Crooked Cat’s website from tomorrow, 7th March, this post is the one you should use to ask me questions. You can ask me anything at all. I don’t promise to answer everything, but I’ll do my best!

So, do watch the (possibly unusual) video and read the extra stuff, all on Crooked Cat’s home page. And then come back here to ask about me, my life, my books, my writing, even… Shock   …my poetry.

OK, your turn, go to the comments
OK, your turn, go to the comments
OK, your turn, go to the comments

Important: My Kindle titles are reduced for this week. That’s CULTIVATING A FUJI and SOCIAL ANXIETY REVEALED.

Two Books On Sale

OK, your turn, go to the comments
OK, your turn, go to the comments me page, you have to click Comments at the top
(But if you’re reading this from the Home page, you have to click Comments at the top )

Letters from Elsewhere

I’m delighted to welcome Jack Smith to the blog, today. Jack is no stranger to me, as he’s taken a major part in all the Isabel Long mystery novels so far and I’ve been lucky enough to edit them all. Joan Livingston, the author, has done a fantastic job with them, and more is on the way.

Back to Jack, who’s worried about Isabel. He’s the owner of the Rooster Bar and Grille and Isabel works part-time for him. What worries Jack is that Isabel is also using her skills as a former longtime journalist to solve cold cases in the hilltowns of Western Massachusetts as a private investigator. Here’s what he’s written to her:

Dear Isabel

I’ve never written a letter to a woman before. But I wanted to get a few things off my chest. Don’t worry, I ain’t breaking up with you, honey. I would lose the best bartender I ever hired if I did that. Yeah, I’m kidding.

The reason I’m writing is that I’m scared to death something bad is going happen to you being a private investigator. In your first case, you got knocked in the head so bad, I had to carry you out of the woods. Remember? Then you broke your collar bone when that ass drove you off the road. I do suspect something really bad almost happened when Gary Beaumont hired you. What really went on at that cliff? I’m guessing you’re holding back some, so I won’t worry about you. You’re right. I’m afraid to hear the whole story.

You’re on your fourth case. I know your mother helps you out, but she can’t be with you all the time. Besides, Marie is 93. What is she supposed to do to save you other than to try talking some sense into you?

Then, there are the characters you meet like that guy Victor Wilson. You and I both know what he’s up to on his property. How about Gary Beaumont and his loser of a brother, Larry? I banned all three of them permanently from the Rooster and for good reason. Now I heard from my cousin Fred you might be dealing with crooked cops. Isabel, what am I going to do with you?

We’ve been together since last November, well, except for a couple of months. I don’t want to get into that. I can say I’m one happy man when we’re together, and I’m not just talking about when we’re in bed. You’re different than the other women I’ve been with. I haven’t told you to your face what you mean to me. I guess I’m kinda shy about that since the only other woman I told that is dead. I don’t have to tell you who that was since she was your first case.

What I can say in this letter is that I understand why you are doing these investigations. You want to help people. I have no power to stop you. I just want you to be more careful although I know you’re as stubborn as hell and that what I say isn’t going to stop you from finding out what went wrong in these towns. I just don’t want you to get hurt. I don’t want to lose you.

Jack

About the Isabel Long Mystery Series

Joan Livingston - Isabel Long Mystery Series

Isabel Long is a former journalist turned private investigator solving cold cases in the rural hilltowns of Western Massachusetts. She’s smart, sassy and what the French would call une femme d’un certain age. She works part-time at the Rooster Bar and Grille, where she gets plenty of useful tips for her cases. And she’s lucky to have her savvy 93-year-old mother as her “Watson.”

Her first case was solving what happened to a woman who disappeared 28 years earlier. In her next two cases, she discovers who’s responsible for the death of a junkyard dealer in one and a poetry-writing highway driver in another. Her fourth features a small town newspaper editor and perhaps crooked cops.

Published by Darkstroke Books, the series so far includes: Chasing the Case, Redneck’s Revenge and Checking the Traps. Next up is Killing the Story.

About Joan Livingston

Joan LivingstonJoan Livingston is the author of novels for adult and young readers. Chasing the Case, Redneck’s Revenge, and Checking the Traps, published by Darkstroke Books, are the first three books in her mystery series featuring Isabel Long, a longtime journalist who becomes an amateur sleuth. She is in the process of finishing the fourth — Killing the Story.

Her other novels include The Sweet Spot; Peace, Love, and You Know What; and The Cousins and the Magic Fish/Los Primos y el Pez Mágico.

An award-winning journalist, she started as a reporter covering the hilltowns of Western Massachusetts. She was an editor, columnist, and then the managing editor of The Taos News, which won numerous state and national awards during her tenure. Currently, she’s the editor-in-chief of the Greenfield Recorder.

After eleven years in Northern New Mexico, she returned to rural Western Massachusetts, which is the setting of much of her adult fiction, including the Isabel Long Mystery Series.

For more, visit her website. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram. Like and follow her author page on Facebook.

***

Letters from Elsewhere truly is back for a new series, started last week by Dan, who was brought by Jo Fenton. (Thanks again, Jo.) If you’re an author and you want one of your characters to take part, let me know and we’ll arrange a date.

I will be back later today with news about the coming week. Watch this space…

Letters from Elsewhere

Well, well, well! I didn’t think this feature would return, but here it is, brought out from the woodwork by eighteen-year-old student, Dan, who is keen to show us a letter to his younger sister, Sharon.

Dan has popped over from the pages of Revelation, a new novel by friend and author, Jo Fenton. In fact Revelation was released just three days ago.

Dear Sis,

Thanks for your letter. It’s great to know that I have one family member who cares about me. I can’t talk too freely here for reasons you understand only too well. How is Dad? Did he see my last effort?

I was too upset to say much when I last wrote, and I had a bad headache, which I’ll explain more about today. I think I just mentioned that my friend, Rick, was found… I can’t even write the word. My hand’s shaking so much, but you can probably see that from my writing. I hope it’s not too illegible.

They still don’t know if it was accidental or if someone hurt him on purpose, but he was such an amazing person. Why would anyone like that have enemies?

Becky’s trying to find out more. I think I told you about her last term. She’s pretty cool, and a good friend. I found out we’d met a while back through a national Jewish youth weekend. Somehow she remembered me. I’ve no idea why. I don’t usually stand out in a crowd. As you know, I’m usually the quiet, geeky one in the corner.

Anyway, to go back to that day, Becky reminded me that I was the last person to see Rick alive, and I freaked out and went for a long walk. It was so cold that day, and it started to snow. I slipped and hit my head on the ground. As you know, I’m not good with the red stuff, and I passed out on top of everything.

I came round to find this bloke squatting on the ground next to me. His name’s Alan, and he’s very kind. He’s some sort of religious leader, and he’s into Kabbalah – you know – Jewish mysticism.

You remember we were told in Hebrew classes that no one can start learning that stuff before the age of 40? He thinks that’s a load of rubbish, and that everyone should be able to access it when needed. He wants to help me, and told me about his group when he took me to the hospital to get my head stitched.

I’m not sure if it’ll help. There’s a hole inside me the size of a glacier and twice as cold. I can’t breathe sometimes.

The only time I felt like this was when Mum passed away. It took well over a year before I began to feel anything close to normal again, and I dread each anniversary, birthday or Mother’s Day. I know you feel the same. Dad never seems to care. He’s too busy with his blasted business.

Maybe in a year I’ll begin to feel normal about this too, but that feels a lifetime away, and the only way I’m going to get through this is with you and Becky, and perhaps with this guy Alan (who, I’d better add, is not my type. Excuse the small writing here – hopefully too small for his lordship to read.)

Look after yourself. I hope you’re okay. The phone situation here is crap. 1 phone between 46 people. Maybe if it’s quiet one evening, I’ll be able to give you a call. Don’t hold your breath though.

Love Dan.

If, like me, you’re left with a lot of questions, who know where to find the answers.

About RevelationRevelation by Jo Fenton

Manchester, 1989

A student, Rick, is found dead in halls of residence.

His friends get caught up in the aftermath: Dan, who was in love with Rick; and Becky, who is in love with Dan.

Their fraught emotions lead them into dark places – particularly a connection to a mysterious Kabbalistic sect.

Will Becky discover who killed Rick in time to save her best friend?

Find Revelation on Amazon.

Jo’s two previous books are also on Amazon: The Brotherhood and The Refuge.

About Jo Fenton

Jo FentonJo Fenton grew up in Hertfordshire. She devoured books from an early age and, at eleven, discovered Agatha Christie and Georgette Heyer. She now has an eclectic and much loved book collection cluttering her home office.

Jo combines an exciting career in Clinical Research with an equally exciting but very different career as a writer of psychological thrillers.

When not working, she runs (very slowly), and chats to lots of people. She lives in Manchester with her family and is an active and enthusiastic member of two writing groups and two reading groups.

You can find Jo on social media at her website, Facebook and Twitter.

I admit it. For the first time, I cheated  this year at NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo? You know – that month when crazy people all over the world try to write a novel in a month?

True, I typed every word, but they weren’t all new words. I was rewriting my debut novel, changing third person to first and past tense to present, adding more thoughts and new scenes. I love the way it turned out, although it still needs more work.

The Rewrite Process

In NaNoWriMo terms, I “won” easily. I reached the target of 50,000 words on 19th November. Then I continued to the end of the story, and even found time to go back and add things that were left out.

I’m clearly not the only cheat. The NaNoWriMo site even has a name for cheats: NaNo Rebel. Yay!

I'm a NaNo Rebel

Despite cheating, or maybe because of it, I learned new things.

What I learned

  • I have plenty of time to devote to writing. There’s no reason why I shouldn’t be able to “win” every year.
  • I write best and fastest on my own at home.
  • I still love write-ins, where we discuss our novels and also write together.
  • I can write with background noise, but get distracted by songs I know and love.
  • I need a detailed plan. It takes me too long to create new scenes as I write, if I haven’t planned properly.
  • I love NaNoWriMo. Yeah, I knew that before.

For those who still don’t get it, don’t be put off by the words “write a novel in a month.” We all know we won’t end up with a completed novel. It’s only a first draft, and even that won’t be complete, as most novels are longer than 50,000 words. But, even if you don’t “win,” you end the month with something to work on. It’s much better than a blank page.

This post was inspired by this one by fellow writer, Joan Livingston. I’ve even used the same title. I hope she doesn’t mind.

I’ve moved around in my life, possibly not as much as Joan, but I did move countries. In fact I just celebrated that anniversary – forth-three years, which is at the same time hard to believe and feels obvious. As I was fairly young at the time of the move, I hadn’t acquired enough stuff to warrant sending a container. I just took what I could in my suitcase.

My Oldest Books

What books did I bring with me? I don’t think I brought all of these in one go, but I brought some back with me on each visit. So, these are all books I had in the UK, which arrived in Israel, either on that first day or soon afterwards, and have remained with me ever since. There might be more; this is what a cursory search produced:

The Golden Treasury of the Best Songs and Lyrical Poems in the English Language, selected and arranged by Francis Turner Palgrave

I inherited this book, published in 1952, from my big brother. There are poems by Tennyson, Marlowe, Shakespeare, Byron, Milton, Keats, Scott, Wordsworth, Browning, and more.

The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells

I haven’t read much science fiction, and this is probably my first read of the genre.

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

I haven’t read any of his books for a long time, but he used to be a favourite of mine.

The History of Mr. Polly by H.G. Wells

I had to read this for ‘O’ level English Lit. Even so, I enjoyed it.

Exodus by Leon Uris

This was probably one of the first things that influenced my decision to move to Israel.

A Room with a View by E.M. Forster

Funnily enough, I recently saw the film and the story came flooding back to me.

How to be a Jewish Mother by Dan Greenburg

I loved this book when I was quite little. I still remember at least one joke:

Give your son Marvin two sports shirts as a present. The first time he wears one of them, look at him sadly and say in your Basic Tone of Voice: “The other one you didn’t like?”

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Another ‘O’ level book I enjoyed.

The Star and the Sword by Pamela Melnikoff

The book I would never lend! First of all, it was the first book I read in which I identified with the main characters. Even though it’s set in medieval times, the two Jewish children felt closer than any from books by Enid Blyton or any other story I’d read up to then. Also, this book contains a note to me from Gabriel Costa, a lovely man who lived in our street. He was in his nineties when he gave me the book in 1965, and still wrote book reviews for newspapers.

Note to me from Gabriel Costa

The Oxford Companion to Music by Percy A. Scholes

This hefty volume helped me get through ‘O’ and ‘A’ level music. Who would buy a book like that, these days, when all the information is available online?

How about you? What books have always accompanied you?

And while you’re thinking about that…

Remember my books, available from Amazon: Social Anxiety Revealed and Cultivating a Fuji.

Next Page »