Books Letters from Elsewhere

Letters from Elsewhere: Jackson

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.


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.



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.

Books Letters from Elsewhere

Letters from Elsewhere: Sheba

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.


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.


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:

Twitter – @IsabellaMayBks

Facebook –

Instagram – @isabella_may_author

Books Interviews Letters from Elsewhere

The Headlines

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

Books Letters from Elsewhere

Letters from Elsewhere: Jacques Forêt

Letters from ElsewhereMy last visitor  in the series Letters from Elsewhere, at least for the time being, is also a first. He is the first character to return. He must have enjoyed it here, while all the others… no, let’s not go there!

Gendarme Jacques Forêt first appeared in October, when he shared excerpts from three letters he wrote to his father in Paris. Now he’s come to share three more excerpts from letters to his father.

1 Grande-rue
February 2009

MessandrierreEntrancetothevillageHow’s maman?  Again, you didn’t say much in your last letter papa and I’m worried.  I realise how difficult it must be for you, but I just need to know that she’s all right.

Tell Francis that I send my best wishes for his new job.  It can’t be easy for him to be starting work again after such a long period of redundancy.  I’m sure Thérèse will be relieved.  When I was home at Christmas I thought she looked very tired and drawn.  And when you write back, papa, don’t forget to let me have all the news about those nephews of mine.

March 2009

…you’re right; the job’s not going so well.  Fournier is a difficult man to please and we don’t see police work in quite the same way.  I’m beginning to wonder whether leaving Paris for the rural gendarmerie was the right decision.  But then, I think about the easy pace of life down here, the more regular hours and I realise that perhaps it is not so bad after all.  And, of course I have what I could call my own ‘patch’.  The villagers have accepted me, I think and I seem to be the first person they come to these days, so that’s a good outcome.

April 2009

MessandrierreChurchBellTower…yes I’m travelling up to Paris on the 9th and I will be with you and maman for the whole of Easter.  I’m looking forward to it and I’d be happy to take the boys wherever they want to go.  It will be good to catch up with them and Thérèse as well.  Perhaps, whilst I’m there, you and I can take a look at the laptop that I brought you last year.  Keeping in touch would be so much easier, papa, if you would just use the computer.

You ask about Beth…well, there’s nothing much to say.  I haven’t heard from her recently.  I’ve thought about phoning her…but now I’m not so sure that she will want to hear from me.  If she comes back to Messandrierre, she comes back.  I’m no longer certain that she will.  At the moment I’m concentrating on my work…

Your only son,

About Messandrierre

MessandrierreCoverArtSacrificing his job in investigation following a shooting in Paris, Jacques Forêt has only a matter of weeks to solve a series of mysterious disappearances as a rural gendarme. Will he find the perpetrators before his lover Beth becomes a victim?

But, as the number of missing rises, his difficult and hectoring boss puts obstacles in his way.  Steely and determined Jacques won’t give up and, when a new Investigating Magistrate is appointed, he becomes the go-to local policeman for all the work on the case.

About Angela Wren

Having completed a twenty-year career as a Project and Business Change Manager, Angela now works as an Actor and Director at Doncaster Little Theatre and has been writing, in a serious way, for about 5 years. Her work in project management has always involved drafting, so writing, in its various forms, has been a significant feature throughout her adult life.

She enjoys the challenge of plotting and planning different genres of work. Her short stories vary between contemporary romance, memoir, mystery and historical. She also writes comic flash-fiction and has drafted two one-act plays that have been recorded for local radio. The majority of her stories are set in France where she likes to spend as much time as possible each year.


Where is this blog going next? Watch out for the next post, which will appear on this very blog as soon as I’ve worked out the answer to that question.


Books Letters from Elsewhere

Letters from Elsewhere: Fra’ Roberto

Letters from Elsewhere

I’m delighted to welcome Fra’ Roberto to the blog today. He comes from the pages of The Ghostly Father by Sue Barnard and is sharing an excerpt from his diary. Take it away, Fra’.


Today we welcomed two new postulants to the friary. 

As always, I instructed Fra’ Amadeo that I wanted to meet them in person before I learned anything about their backgrounds.  I prefer to form my initial opinions of people purely on their own merits, and this is much easier if my mind is not cluttered by any preconceptions.

The new postulants are called Gianni and Sebastiano.  From their appearance, I divined that they are both around twenty years of age.  Gianni is short and slight, and despite his cheerful demeanour, he looked (to my mind at least) as though he bore the signs of a deprived and impoverished past.  Sebastiano, by contrast, is tall, solid in frame, and appeared well-nourished and well-cared-for, yet I discerned in him traces of an indefinable sadness.  These differences aside, both of them looked nervous and bewildered as they stood before me in their postulants’ robes.  But perhaps this is only to be expected; they stand on the threshold of a whole new mode of life, completely different from whatever they might have previously known.

One reason for such nervousness became evident during our brief conversation.  It transpired that Sebastiano had his own preconceptions about life in holy orders.  He was familiar with the Rule of Saint Benedict and the principles of poverty, chastity and obedience, but like so many postulants before him, he appeared to hold the belief that this would entail long periods of discomfort and self-denial. 

It continues to trouble me that those outside the cloister should have this unfavourable (and incorrect) perception of monastic life.  Sebastiano appeared genuinely surprised when I explained that we in the Order of Saint Francis do not condone unnecessary fasting, sleep deprivation or self-chastisement.  As our founder has decreed, our purpose is to serve – and none of these practices are conducive to full and proper service to God or to our fellow men. 

I sense that both of these young men, but especially Sebastiano, have come to us under difficult, perchance even troubled, circumstances.  Tomorrow I shall ask Fra’ Amadeo to tell me what he knows of their stories.  In the meantime, I shall say an extra prayer for each of them at Completorium.  May the Lord Almighty grant them a quiet night.  Amen.

I’ve read your story, Fra’. It’s so much more satisfying than Shakespeare’s version. I’ll never understand why the Bard thought to change it as he did…

About The Ghostly Father


Romeo & Juliet – was this what really happened?

When Juliet Roberts is asked to make sense of an ancient Italian manuscript, she little suspects that she will find herself propelled into the midst of one of the greatest love stories of all time. But this is only the beginning. As more hidden secrets come to light, Juliet discovers that the tragic tale of her famous namesake might have had a very different outcome…

A favourite classic story with a major new twist.

About Sue Barnard


Sue Barnard was born in North Wales but has spent most of her life in and around Manchester. After graduating from Durham University, where she studied French and Italian, Sue got married then had a variety of office jobs before becoming a full-time parent. If she had her way, the phrase “non-working mother” would be banned from the English language.

Since then she has had a series of part-time jobs, including some work as a freelance copywriter. In parallel with this she took several courses in Creative Writing. Her writing achievements include winning the Writing Magazine New Subscribers Poetry Competition for 2013. She is also very interested in Family History. Her own background is stranger than fiction; she’d write a book about it if she thought anybody would believe her.

Sue BarnardSue has a mind which is sufficiently warped as to be capable of compiling questions for BBC Radio 4’s fiendishly difficult Round Britain Quiz. This once caused one of her sons to describe her as “professionally weird.” The label has stuck.

Sue joined the editorial team of Crooked Cat Publishing in 2013. Her first novel, The Ghostly Father (a new take on the traditional story of Romeo & Juliet) was officially released on St Valentine’s Day 2014.  This was followed in July 2014 by her second novel, a romantic mystery entitled Nice Girls Don’t.  Her third novel, The Unkindest Cut of All (a murder mystery set in a theatre), was released in June 2015.

You can find Sue on Facebook, Twitter (@SusanB2011), or follow her blog here.


Books Letters from Elsewhere

Letters from Elsewhere: Marc

Letters from Elsewhere

I’m delighted to be joined today by Maximus Decimus Meridius, a.k.a. Marc, the lead character in Catriona King’s Craig Crime Series. He’s here to tell you who he is and what he does.


My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions…and if you’ve ever watched the movie Gladiator then you’ll know the rest. That’s not really my name, obviously; it’s Marc Craig. But I am Roman, on my mother’s side, and we are both fighting a war, in my case a war against crime.

The other half of my blood is Irish, from the north, but borders are irrelevant to me when I’m hunting for a murderer, and the only blood I’m interested in is the blood left at a crime scene, and the details of its DNA.

I’m a murder detective, a Superintendent now, a promotion I only accepted because I won my argument to stay on the street. That’s where the killers are. Not just in the alleyways or rough estates, but in the luxury offices and government buildings, the hospitals, farms, shops and universities. Murder is all around us, not from The Troubles now, because Northern Ireland finally has a hard won peace, but since the conflict ended ‘normal’ murders have risen, their motives the same as everywhere else in the world: sex, money and revenge. Without that triad I wouldn’t have a job, and I love hunting killers, but not as much as I hate the pain and mourning that they create.

The only way I get through it is to mainline coffee and by having the support of a brilliant team, most of whom have a sense of humour that if it ever started out as normal has definitely become warped through the years. They cope with my foibles and obsession when we’re on a job, and in return I try not to take my moods out on them, although I’m not always sure that I succeed.

Well, that’s it really. I have to go now because I have to case to solve: a hacker who infiltrated a lift’s operating system, plummeting it to earth and killing the two people on board.

Thanks for listening. Perhaps you’ll join me on a case or two?

See you then.BookCover5x8_BW_290_pathedJT2



About The Craig Crime Series

The Craig Crime Series is a police procedural series comprised of thirteen novels, with number fourteen coming in late autumn.

The novels in the Craig Crime Series are

  •  A Limited Justice
  • The Grass Tattoo
  • The Visitor
  • The Waiting Room
  • The Broken Shore
  • The Slowest CutTheTalionCode
  • The Coercion Key
  • The Careless Word
  • The History Suite
  • The Sixth Estate
  • The Sect
  • The Keeper
  • The Talion Code

About Catriona King

Catriona King is a medical doctor and trained as a police Forensic Medical Examiner in London, where she worked for some years. She has worked with the police on many occasions. She returned to live in Belfast in 2006. She has written since childhood and has been published in many formats: non-fiction, journalistic and fiction. She has also been a radio presenter.



Find Catriona’s books on Amazon US and Amazon UK.

Find Catriona on Twitter and Facebook.





Important Notice

Most Crooked Cat books are currently on sale for a short time. Find out more at the Facebook event or just toddle off to Crooked Cat’s page on Amazon.CrookedCatSummerSale2016

Books Letters from Elsewhere

Letters from Elsewhere: Sam Longmore

Letters from Elsewhere

My visitor today is Sam Longmore, son of the main protagonist in The Calgary Chessman series by Yvonne Marjot. He’s going to have a lot more to say for himself in the next volume of the Calgary Chessman series (The Ashentilly Letters, forthcoming from Crooked Cat).

March 28

Montrose University

Dear Mum,

What do you mean, what does pollen have to do with archaeology? According to Prof. Heyes palynology is the most important and useful scientific tool available to archaeologists and climate scientists today. To be honest, he’s a nice old bloke and he really knows his stuff. He’s almost managed to convince me he’s right.

Palynology is the study of pollen grains, and it works like this: You take a core sample or two from your site of interest. That’s a cylindrical plug of soil about 2cm across and as deep as you can possibly get it to go. In a nice bit of old swamp you can get three or four metres of core.

Soil builds up slowly over time, and the different layers correspond to changes in the local conditions at the time that the soil was laid down. So you can get a pretty quick look at the development of the site by seeing if there are changes in the colour and texture of the soil layers. E.g. a layer of sand might indicate that the sea had covered your site for a while, or series of stony layers could mean that a river or glacier once flowed over the area.

Then you take samples of all the different layers and make them into microscope slides. (Remember to add the proper stain, as I will never ever forget to do again!) You take a look at your slides under the microscope and, hey presto, instant information.

If your slide has a lot of grass pollen, that could mean that there was a prairie-type landscape, although grass types mixed with certain herbs might mean a swamp. Birch pollen is cute. It’s a rounded triangle with a hole at each corner, and every time I see one it makes me think of an ocarina. Seeing lots of that indicates a seral stage, where trees and shrubs are beginning to colonise an open landscape. Hazel pollen comes later in the succession; it’s triangular with dimples, a bit like tiny prawn crackers. And if you see pollen that looks like a scrotum, that’s Scots pine, which tells you there was a proper forest near the site you’ve sampled.

What’s interesting is that pollen has given us evidence for a worsening of the climate at the end of the Neolithic. The spread of uncultivable land and the change in the distribution of cereal crops coincided with changes in human behaviour: more building of fortified structures, more warfare, and eventually the emergence of the Bronze Age, which was all about the new metal weaponry and the opportunity it gave for a few individuals to gain authority over large numbers of people.

That’s your pocket lecture for today. I promised to tell you a funny thing that happened. Well, it wasn’t funny at first. In fact, Niall and I had a little tiff. At least, I shouldn’t say tiff. I called it that to Niall’s face and he was really upset, because actually it was quite serious for a while.

You know my friend Pete, the one I play darts with? Well, we’ve been playing a lot. He’s the one who got me into rowing, too. A few weekends ago Niall turned up to see me, but I’d forgotten he was coming and Pete and I had gone to a darts match in town. We had a few drinks and then we rolled home in the early hours of the morning and there was Niall waiting for me. I felt really bad because I should have remembered it was his weekend, but Pete just laughed and told him not to be such a boring old fart, we couldn’t help it if he’d forgotten what it was to be young.

Anyway, I did say sorry. Niall was really angry though. He told me Pete fancies me, and he wasn’t so sure that I didn’t fancy him back. I told him not to be an idiot and he told me I was so innocent I couldn’t see what was under my nose and I accused him of being jealous. Well, I won’t tell you the rest. You can imagine, I’m sure.

We made up in the end, and we’ve been all right since, but I still had to worry about what I was going to do about Pete. Because he’s my friend. There isn’t anything else in it, but I can kind of see where Niall was coming from. After all, he doesn’t know what I’m getting up to the other twelve days of the fortnight, and he just has to trust me. I told him that I have to trust him too, but he says that’s different. Just because he’s been around a bit and has found the man he truly loves, doesn’t mean that I’m ready to settle down. So he’s afraid of losing me, but he’s also scared that if he holds on too tight he’ll lose me anyway.

Well, in the middle of all that going on Dr Rigby gets a new post-graduate student. At least, he really came to work with Prof Heyes, but Tim’s his official mentor since the prof is due to retire next year. Guess who it is: Rick Mason that we met on the Lismore dig. I bumped into him down at the Student Union, and Pete was with me so we invited him to come to darts with us the next Friday, and guess what? Now Pete and Rick are going out.

It’s great. It’s like I’m some sort of lucky charm for people, because I sorted out a fight between Becky and her boyfriend the other day and now they’ve got engaged. Then the next weekend Niall turns up and there’s Rick and Pete all over each other, snogging for Scotland. Honestly, could they at least get a room? So Niall and me are okay again.

Other than that it’s pretty boring here in student land. How’s the old homestead down under? Please tell me there’s a hunky man living next door and you’re having a wild fling? Or was I right all along about Ewan, and now you’re pining for him madly? I know – you’re my Mum and you’re never going to tell me. Are Nanna and Granddad okay? Your last letter was a bit scary – I hope the news is good. But anyway, let me know you’re all right. Miss you.

Lots of love

Your Best Beloved


About The Calgary Chessman Trilogy

 The Calgary Chessman

YMarjot TCC TBL picsDiscovery is Only the Beginning

On a windswept beach on the Isle of Mull, Cas Longmore is walking away from loneliness when she unearths a mystery in the sand. To Cas, torn between Scotland and her New Zealand home, the object seems as odd and out-of-place as herself.

Intrigued, she begins to search for its origins, thinking it will bring a brief respite from isolation. Instead, the Calgary chess piece opens the door to friendships and new hope. Her son, meanwhile, brings home his own revelation to shake her world.

The Book of Lismore

The Past is a Lost Book

While visiting the beautiful Hebridean island of Lismore, Cas and Sam stumble upon a new chapter of the island’s past. Once again, they are confronted by the ghosts of the distant past, and ancient tragedy combines with present danger as each is faced with a fresh challenge.

Archaeology provides a strong bond between Cas and her favourite men, but the mystery they uncover proves easier to solve than the ongoing conflicts in her personal life, and love seems as fragile and elusive as ever.

About Yvonne Marjot

YMarjot profile 1Yvonne Marjot was born in England, grew up in New Zealand, and now lives on the Isle of Mull in western Scotland. She has a Masters in Botany from Victoria University of Wellington, and a keen interest in the interface between the natural and human worlds. She has always made up stories and poems, and once won a case of port in a poetry competition (New Zealand Listener, May 1996). In 2012 she won the Britwriters Award for poetry, and her first volume of poetry, The Knitted Curiosity Cabinet, was published by Indigo Dreams Publishing.

Her archaeological romances The Calgary Chessman and The Book of Lismore are published by Crooked Cat Publishing.

She has worked in schools, libraries and university labs, has been a pre-school crèche worker and a farm labourer, cleaned penthouse apartments and worked as amanuensis to an eminent Botanist. She currently has a day job (in the local school) and teenage children, and would continue to write even if no-one read her work, because it’s the only thing that keeps her sane. In her spare time she climbs hills, looks for rare moths and promises herself to do more in the garden.

You can follow her work via the Facebook page and group The Calgary Chessman, @Alayanabeth on Twitter, or on the WordPress blog The Knitted Curiosity Cabinet.

Books Letters from Elsewhere

Letters from Elsewhere: Charles Omari Ondiek

Letters from Elsewhere

Today’s guest speaks to me from Africa and is brought by Jane Bwye.


Thank you for having me, Miriam, and letting me come alive from the pages of Breath of Africa.


You ask me to speak for myself? Where shall I start…

My birth name was Charles Omari Ondiek and I was born in a remote village called Amayoni (which means birds) in a beautiful pocket of tropical forest in the western region of Kenya.

But I’ve used different names in the course of my tumultuous life. At Oxford, I was known as Charles (yes, as a student more mature than most, I graduated in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from that venerable university in the early 1960’s).

But when I returned home and started a career in journalism I had to cover my tracks for fear of being discovered by Mwangi, a Mau Mau oath-giver who’d placed a curse on my family. So I called myself Ondiek, a name which is shared by very many people. I still shudder to think of that curse, and the fear which consumed me. Mwangi caught up with me eventually, and I was left for dead. That is where the book left me, gasping to catch up with my only son, whose mother had already succumbed to the potent curse.

My son, half black, half white, was intensely angry because I changed my name again, and disappeared.

Oh – what a tangle of events and emotions we separately went through. And now in the evening of my days, I am Charles again, looking back and wondering what might have been – could have been, if…

But it’s no use looking back, however much we are tied to our grass roots. That’s why you should also read Grass Shoots, the working title of my creator’s next book.

Kenya, my country, continues to stumble along through the impediments of violence, politics and corruption. Is it making progress? What you think depends on who you are and what you mean by progress…

Thank you, Charles. I have read your story in Breath of Africa and was moved by it.

About Breath of Africa

51nyeeudxzlDedicated to the people of Kenya, BREATH OF AFRICA is a novel by Jane Bwye, retired businesswoman and intermittent freelance journalist who lived over half a century in Africa.

After the 2013 elections and the Westgate siege, Kenya moves on in hope, epitomised in the book, which means different things to different people; it can be read as a love story, a psychological thriller, or as an exploration into the interactions of people of different races. Superstition and Christian faith clash. And the stunning beauty of the country is a major character in itself.

Caroline is a privileged woman from the highlands, and Charles Ondiek, a farm labourer with dreams of Oxford. A drama of psychological terror is fuelled by Mau Mau oath administrator, Mwangi, but against the backdrop of Kenya’s beautiful but hostile desert, the curse is finally broken.

About Jane Bwye

janeJane has been a businesswoman and intermittent freelance journalist for fifty years, mainly in Kenya.

Six children and seven grandkids are scattered over three continents. She developed a taste for travel, and in 2001 “walked” round the world, buying a bird book in every country she visited. She has written numerous magazine articles and short stories, two newspaper columns and several newsletters. She co-ordinated a cookbook, “Museum Mixtures” in aid of the Kenya Museum Society in 1989, and has written a History in commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of her local church, St. Wilfrid’s. Breath of Africa is her first novel, published in 2013. I Lift Up My Eyes, published in 2014, is a novella set in East Sussex.

Jane has managed her own Guest House and Riding School, and worked as a freelance Secretary. While home-studying for a degree, she started a consultancy business, providing human resource and computer advice, locum services for small businesses, and doing Organisation Reviews and Project Management for leading Management Consultancies in Kenya.

After graduation in 1995, she became Head of Computer Studies/IT at Hillcrest Secondary School, Nairobi for five years.

From 2002 Jane has operated her own consultancy in Eastbourne, UK, mentoring small business start-ups as an Associate of EDEAL.

Books Letters from Elsewhere

Letters from Elsewhere: James Winthrop Blackwell

Letters from Elsewhere

Well, I seem to be making a habit of attracting prisoners! Today, James shares the letter he wrote in Ely’s gaol to Clare at Bethel Manor Estate. James is brought by Beatrice Fishback.

From: James Blackwell
Ely’s gaol

To: Clare Shaw
Bethel Manor Estate

My Dearest Clare,

Through a small peephole in the thatched prison, I observe the blackened sky filled with stars. The vastness stretches like an ornate, handcrafted piece of velvet needlework. It contrasts with the stink of this gaol where I find myself being held without cause. I’m unable to come to terms with why God has forsaken me in this place of filth, and with two companions that reek of rotting flesh.

The beautiful night sky, and pinpoint of fresh cold night air are a stark contrast from what lies within these prison walls. Through the stars, I am reminded of how different you and I are. You are the sparkle, and I the unworthy. You are the beauty, and I am the ugliness. You live in a world of generosity and love, I grew up an orphan with parents who abandoned me.

Yet, one of my companions has spoken of how God can work in even the direst of situations. His name is Matthew, blind and thin as a skeleton he still prays when all seems hopeless.

I’m learning to be thankful in this place and counting the stars is a reminder of the many ways I have been taken care of in my life. Margaret and George Owen, at the orphanage in Bristol, loved me as if I were their own. I had a roof over my head and food to eat. I never had to beg or scavenge like an animal to stay alive. The other children in the orphanage loved me as if I were a brother, and we cared for each other when times were difficult.

It seems unimaginable that you and I could ever be together with our differing backgrounds, but in my dreams I long to hear your voice and see the glimmer of laughter in your deep, dark eyes.

Clare, in seeing the stars I am reminded of you. We don’t know what lies in the future, but I wanted you to know that for the moment you are the bright light that shines in my dark world.

With deep fondness,

About Bethel Manor

BethelManorBristol, England in the mid-nineteenth century is rife with change. For one young man, James Winthrop Blackwell, change is what he yearns for. Abandoned as an infant at Alpheton House orphanage in Bristol, he comes of age and struggles to make sense of the God of his youth, unable to come to terms with a mother and father who had deserted him.

From west to east—from Bristol the city of his youth, to Ely, the place of discovery—James’s travels take him on a profound spiritual and emotional pilgrimage. In the midst of his journey he meets Fredrick Shaw and his feisty daughter, Clare. Fredrick’s generosity includes welcoming James to Bethel Manor—an estate of magnificent beauty. But Clare’s animosity is both confusing and compelling to James.

What James thinks he’s looking for when he leaves Alpheton House is nothing compared to what he finds. He seeks retaliation for being left by his parents, but instead discovers the reality of his past, and the truth of God’s love.

About Beatrice Fishback

BeatriceFishbackBeatrice Fishback, originally from New York, lived in the East Anglian area of Great Britain for over twenty years and traveled extensively in the United Kingdom and throughout Europe. She is the author of Loving Your Military Man published by FamilyLife Publishing and, with her husband Jim, is the co-author of Defending the Military Marriage and Defending the Military Family. She has been published in various compilations, magazines and online websites.

She and her husband have spoken to U.S. military audiences in the USA, Germany, England, Italy, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Korea, and Japan. They have also presented to international audiences in the Czech Republic, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Zimbabwe, Romania, Ukraine, Bulgaria, and Latvia.

Beatrice and Jim currently reside in North Carolina where scones are called biscuits and are topped with gravy, and sadly tea is served over ice.

Books Letters from Elsewhere

Letters from Elsewhere: Anne Pargeter

Letters from Elsewhere

Today’s guest is definitely not here in person. That’s because she’s incarcerated in Holloway Prison. But she’s agreed to share this letter, which she wrote to Percy Sullivan a.k.a. Hotspur. Thank you, Anne Pargeter. (And Sally Quilford and Crooked Cat.)

Dearest Hotspur, I was so pleased to receive your letter and it warms my heart that you want to fight so hard for my freedom. I think your idea to get everyone to write down their own thoughts on the events of our time at Lakeham Abbey is awfully clever.

As clever as it is, I must urge you to give up this quest of yours. Time is running out, my dearest, and I do not want you to spend that time agonising over my fate. You have your whole life ahead of you, and you won’t be in that wheelchair forever, despite what the doctors say. You are capable of doing so many great things. If you align yourself with me, that scandal will harm you for the rest of your life, and I have no wish to do that.

People will tell you a lot about me, some of it true and some of it false. But know this. I would never have harmed you or Lily. I love you both so dearly.

Forget the darkness, forget me.

If you do choose to remember me, remember all those good times we had at Lakeham Abbey: the walks in the plantation, the picnics on the island with Group Captain Marsh… These are the memories that sustain me in these dark days.

I wonder… have you seen him? Is he well, do you know?

Please take care of your little sister for me. Your mother tries really hard, despite what people think, but she suffered abuse and manipulation at the hands of a devil for so long that it cannot help but leave its mark.

God bless you, my angel. I think that one day, if heaven allows after you have had a long and fruitful life, we will meet again.


About The Secret of Lakeham Abbey

TheSecretOfLakehamAbbeyWhen Percy Sullivan’s family take over Lakeham Abbey for the summer, it was a chance to get away from battered post-war London and be cossetted by the capable and pretty housekeeper, Anne Pargeter.

They soon learn that the Abbey conceals a dark secret — one that someone was willing to kill to hide. When Anne is convicted of murder and sentenced to execution, Percy is determined to do all he can to save his friend from the gallows.

He encourages everyone to tell their side of the story. This leads to some startling revelations, including a shocking secret that Percy’s mother tried to hide from him.

Will it be enough to save Anne’s life?

Find it on:

I love this novel. It’s light and humorous and so well told.

About Sally Quilford

SallyQuilfordSally Quilford was born in South Wales, but has lived in Derbyshire since her teens. She has had novels published by My Weekly Pocket Novels and Ulverscroft, and her stories and articles have appeared in magazines both in Britain and abroad.

Sally has also run online courses, including the excellent workshop that spawned my novel, Neither Here Nor There.