Letters from Elsewhere

I’m visited today by an anxious character, who longs to be like the rest but needs to hold back. No, this isn’t social anxiety. Skye has a troubled past and is trained to leave nothing behind. Writing a letter isn’t something she would be able to do very often and she’d have to be under a lot of stress to write one.

Skye is the main character in Ninja School Mum by Lizzie Chantree. Here’s her letter:

Reece, my love.

You left me. You made me stay behind. Your actions saved our son, but we’ve had to hide ever since you died. Why can’t you have found a way out?

I move around a lot. I don’t make friends and they probably don’t even notice when I’m gone. Each new town brings a new name, a new career, but Leo is tiring of the game. He wants to settle in one place, for us to stop running. It’s been years, but I’m scared that if they found you, they could find us. I’m lonely. I miss you.

I’m trying to be a good mum but it’s hard on my own. You’ll remember that my cooking is really bad, but our son never complains. He’s a good boy. You’d love him… if only you were here.

I’m going to try and stop scowling at the parents at Leo’s new school, for his sake not mine. He wants us to stay here in the cottage I’ve found. Maybe I can become the mum you always said I could be, before this, before you were gone. The fire in the hearth is warm tonight and I’ll send this letter up to you in the flames, as I can’t leave it here. Something has got to change. I need to change. I’m tired of being alone. I’m sorry. I love you.

Skye.

I hope Skye succeeds in changing, for her sake as well as for her son.

About Ninja School Mum

Ninja School Mum by Lizzie ChantreeObsessive-compulsive school mum, Skye, is a lonely elite spy, who is running from her past whilst trying to protect the future of her child. She tries hard to fit in with the other parents at her son’s new school, but the only person who accepts her unconventional way of life is new mother, Thea.

Thea is feeling harassed by her sister and bored with her life, but she suspects that there is something strange about the new school mum, Skye. Thea has secrets of her own and, although the two become unlikely friends, she hesitates to tell Skye about the father of her own child.

Zack’s new business is growing faster than he could have dreamed but, suddenly, he finds himself the owner of a crumbling estate on the edge of a pretty village, and a single parent to a very demanding child. Could he make a go of things and give his daughter the life she deserved?

When three lives collide, it appears that only one of them is who they seem to be, and you never know who the person next to you in the school playground really is.

About Lizzie Chantree

Lizzie ChantreeLizzie is an award winning author, inventor and businesswoman. She founded her first company at the age of 17 and has been creating products and driving her family mad ever since!

Lizzie appeared on Sky News, ITV Lunchtime News, This Morning, The Big Breakfast, BBC’s Worldwide Radio Service, amongst others for becoming one of Fair Play London’s Female Innovators and inventing a ‘ladder’ stop spray for hosiery.

Lizzie lives with her gorgeous family and a very unusual dog in the English countryside. In between the school run and baking cakes (or burning them!), she sits in her rooftop studio writing contemporary romance novels and daydreaming about new product designs. Lizzie’s books often feature unusual businesses and entice you in to the romantic life of the slightly eccentric entrepreneurs that run them!

 

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Sorry, there’s no Letter from Elsewhere today but you can read my thoughts about comfort reads today on the blog of Rosie Travers, author of the soon-to-be-released The Theatre of Dreams. I love this cover!

The Theatre of Dreams

I’ll leave you with this amazing quotation I came across today. It’s by Milton Berle and I saw it here.

If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.

Letters from Elsewhere

Today I’m delighted to welcome Anne to my blog. When she wrote the letter she’s brought, she existed only as a flashback, because the letter pre-dates the novel she comes from: The Road to Newgate by Kate Braithwaite. Anne has just eloped with Nathaniel Thompson, a man deemed unsuitable by her family.

Love Lane,
Nr. Billingsgate,
London
Fourteenth day of June 1678

Dear Sarah,
By now Mother and Father have my letter and I am married. I am sorry for nothing but that you will have to bear their anger. Father will harp at length – I can imagine it most clearly – about my husband’s unsuitability and the betrayal he doubtless believes this is. Mother will bear it more quietly, but we both know she will side with him.
Can we hope that you and James will be our friends? Nathaniel is not what our father says. He has a position and talent. He is the Licenser of the Presses – James himself said it was an important role. Remember, he told us both that Nathaniel’s future prospects are excellent. He is not wealthy now, it’s true, but he is good and kind and clever. And so very handsome, Sarah!
Don’t write back to tell me we have been too hasty. Bite your tongue and still your pen, if you love me. We have not known each other long, it is true, but I know his heart, dear sister. What could be more important?
Come and visit us? Write to me. Promise you will come. Our home is not what you are used to – be prepared for a surprise, dear one – but it is clean and neat and I am determined to learn to manage everything. Tomorrow, Nat’s friend and publisher Henry Broome is to visit us after dinner. I do so hope to make a good impression. Visit me in a day or two and I will tell you all.
Your sister,
Anne

I’m told, although I won’t, of course, pass this on to my visitor, that only a few months after this letter, Anne and Nat’s young marriage will be tested when Nat becomes involved in an attempt to discredit the Popish Plot and its author, Titus Oates.

About The Road to Newgate

The Road To Newgate

What price justice?

London 1678.

Titus Oates, an unknown preacher, creates panic with wild stories of a Catholic uprising against Charles II. The murder of a prominent Protestant magistrate appears to confirm that the Popish Plot is real.

Only Nathaniel Thompson, writer and Licenser of the Presses, instinctively doubts Oates’s revelations. Even his young wife, Anne, is not so sure. And neither know that their friend William Smith has personal history with Titus Oates.

When Nathaniel takes a public stand, questioning the plot and Oates’s integrity, the consequences threaten them all.

The Road to Newgate is available to pre-order from Amazon.

About Kate Braithwaite

Kate Braithwaite

Kate Braithwaite was born and grew up in Edinburgh, Scotland. Her first novel, Charlatan, was longlisted for the Mslexia New Novel Award and the Historical Novel Society Award. Kate lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and three children.

The Road to Newgate, a story of love, lies and injustice in 17th century London will be published by Crooked Cat Books on July 16th.

Find out more about Kate on her website.

Letters from Elsewhere

Today’s guest has travelled here through air and time. Joseph Flynn comes from 18th Century Ireland, where he plays an important role in Heart of Stone by John Jackson. He is Agent to Lord Belvedere, the former Robert Rochfort. He also forms part of an intelligence network, put in place in a turbulent Ireland, following the Cromwellian Wars.

Joseph has brought a letter to Mr Stafford, a very highly placed functionary at the Horseguards, headquarters of the British Army. Let’s read what he wrote.

To Mr. Stafford,
Principal Secretary,
Horseguards,
London.

My dear Mr Stafford,

As requested, I have been following the activities of my employer here in Westmeath.
As your Lordship knows, the Rochfort family remain a dominant force here. The harvest has been terrible, and Mr George Rochfort seems determined to force as many families from their farms as possible. Lord Robert and his lady wife are a curious couple. She is young and sweet natured. Everyone on the estate, and here in Mullingar, loves her. She always makes time to speak to those she meets, including myself. A most amiable lady.
His Lordship is not so amiable. He neglects his estate, and as his agent, that is a matter of much concern to me. I try frequently to bring important matters to his attention, but without success. He seems to have no time for anything but the plans for his new house.
I hear that recruiting for the Army is poor. If the local men can stay on their land, they will. Some of the recruits come from families who have been thrown off their land. They must join the Army or starve. We need a soft winter.

For the rest, the county of Westmeath remains calm. I hear no complaints from the garrison, other than the usual complaints of the soldiery. I have heard occasional reports of French priests wandering the land. Should I hear anything of a definite nature, I will inform your Lordship.

My contacts do advise me that Lord Belvedere, my employer, is most certainly not a popular person. When in his cups he has been known to blurt out matters which should better be left unsaid. Although his young wife seems a most engaging and delightful lady, and, as I stated, is extremely popular in Mullingar and the area, the same cannot be said of her husband. She has already given his lordship a daughter; an event which, for most men would be a cause for rejoicing. Not so for his lordship. He seems to be putting the lack of a son and heir before all other concerns.

I continue to observe all I can, and assuring you of my diligence in service of his Majesty, I remain your humble and obedient servant,

Joseph Flynn. Agent to the Lord Belvedere.

I see. You’re spying on your employer. I suppose you think that’s in a good cause, do you? Ah, he’s gone.

About Heart of Stone

Heart Of Stone by John JacksonDublin, 1730

When young and beautiful Mary Molesworth is forced to marry Robert Rochford, widowed heir to the earldom of Belfield, she finds that her idea of love is not returned. Jealous, cruel and manipulative, Robert ignores her after she has provided him with a male heir, preferring to spend his nights with his mistress. Power-hungry, Robert builds up a reputation that sees him reach for the highest positions in Ireland.

Caught in an unhappy marriage, Mary begins to grow closer to Robert’s younger brother, Arthur. Acknowledging their love for each other, they will risk everything to be together. But Robert’s revenge threatens their lives and tears them apart.

Will Mary and Arthur find a way to escape Robert’s clutches?

Based on real events, Heart of Stone is a tale of power, jealousy, imprisonment, and love, set in 1740s Ireland. It is available from Amazon.

About John Jackson

John JacksonFollowing a lifetime at sea, John Jackson has now retired and lives in York. After thirty years of non-fiction writing, drafting safety procedures and the like, he has now turned his hand to writing fiction.

An avid genealogist, he found a rich vein of ancestors going back many generations. His forebears opened up Canada and Australia and fought at Waterloo.
A chance meeting with some authors, now increasingly successful, led him to try to turn some of his family history into historical novels.

John is a keen member of the Romantic Novelists Association and graduated through their New Writers Scheme. He is also a member of the Historic Novel Association and an enthusiastic conference-goer for both organizations.

He describes himself as being “Brought up on Georgette Heyer from an early age, and, like many of my age devoured R L Stevenson, Jane Austen, R M Ballantyne, and the like.”

You can find John on Facebook and Twitter, and on his website.

Letters from Elsewhere

Welcome readers and welcome to my guest today. He’s called DI Hunter Wilson and that sounds to me a fitting name for a detective. Hunter has come all the way from Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, and he’s told me how much he loves his city and is devoted to solving its crimes. I’ll always remember visiting Edinburgh many years ago and being shown a group of shiny, new, stationary police cars by a tour guide who told us that showed there was no crime in Edinburgh!

Hunter has brought a letter to his daughter, Alison, who lives in Shetland. In it Hunter tells Alison about the death of his friend and his determination to get revenge for this evil act.

Dear Alison,

I hope you are well and that your job is going well. I hope you will manage to visit me in August so that we can go to some events at The Edinburgh International Festival. I have been thinking about you and your brother, Cameron so much because yesterday, I was reminded very clearly how important friends and family are to us all.

I was called to the scene of a murder with that young DC Tim Myerscough. You know what a diverse city Edinburgh is and we had to drive from Fettes in the North passing pretty part known as Dean Village and the high residential tenements in Comely Bank to get to the Gilmerton in the South-East. The area of Gilmerton we had to go to has wide streets and the homes are mostly the four in a block flats that the Edinburgh Council built to rent out. Many of these were sold off in Margaret Thatcher’s era.

Edinburgh is such a beautiful city, with its castle, the palace and the grand St. Giles Cathedral where the tourists join the great and the good to worship. Here the children can swim in an Olympic sized pool, learn in art galleries and museums of International standards, follow the national rugby team and cheer on either of the city’s football teams. It breaks my heart when I witness an evil act. 

You know when I am twittering like this, I am trying to avoid telling you something awful. And that is exactly the case here. 

When Tim and I got to the flat in Gilmerton, I went over to look at the body. Imagine how awful it was to see the corpse of my friend, George Reinbold. He died alone and was clearly scared about something. Alison, I was so shocked! He was such a polite, thoughtful man. Who on earth would want to kill him?

That is what I will find out. Whoever did this must face the full force of the law.
Dad

Hunter is the hero of Hunter’s Chase, by Val Penny and published by Crooked Cat Books, and Hunter’s Revenge, which will be published by Crooked Cat Books in September.

About Hunter’s Chase

Hunter'sChaseCover (Val Penny)Detective Inspector Hunter Wilson knows there is a new supply of cocaine flooding his city, and he needs to find the source, but his attention is transferred to murder when a corpse is discovered in the grounds of a golf course.

Shortly after the post-mortem, Hunter witnesses a second murder, but that is not the end of the slaughter. With a young woman’s life also hanging in the balance, the last thing Hunter needs is a new man on his team: Detective Constable Tim Myerscough, the son of his nemesis, the former Chief Constable Sir Peter Myerscough.

Hunter’s perseverance and patience are put to the test time after time in this first novel in The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries series.

You can buy Hunter’s Chase on Amazon.

About Val Penny

Val PennyVal Penny is an American author living in SW Scotland. She has two adult daughters of whom she is justly proud and lives with her husband and two cats. She has a Law degree from Edinburgh University and her MSc from Napier University. She has had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, lawyer, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer. However she has not yet achieved either of her childhood dreams of being a ballet dancer or owning a candy store. Until those dreams come true, she has turned her hand to writing poetry, short stories and novels.

Val is available on Twitter, Facebook and on her website.

Letters from Elsewhere

I think I’ve found a kindred spirit today! She seems timid. Many would call her shy, but I’ve always been wary of using that term for others, because I never agreed when it was applied to me. Tina has brought a letter she wrote to her friend, Melissa, who vanished a while ago. Apart from that, she seems too anxious to get involved in a conversation. Let’s read the letter; that might explain her reticence… either that or the book blurb below.

Tina comes from The Brotherhood by Jo Fenton, due for release on 25th July.

To my dear best friend Melissa,

It’s been ages since I saw you. I still can’t believe you disappeared without a word, but Dominic said you had to go away to rest. For some reason he thought it would be easier for everyone if you didn’t say goodbye.

He was wrong. It’s been awful not really knowing where you are. Everyone is missing you. Mark’s constant scowl would turn all the milk in the Abbey sour. I’m almost scared to speak to him now. He just snaps everyone’s head off. He did apologise to me yesterday, but he said something very strange, Mel. He said he wished he knew where you were! How can he not know? I didn’t like to ask him though…

I wish I knew how to find you. I think Thomas does. He’s started leaving me alone more – such a relief – and he said it’s because of you, but he wouldn’t explain why. If you’ve seen him and said something to stop him from … well, you know… then I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I’m actually starting to feel almost safe.

If only you were back!

Take care, dear friend, and look after yourself. I hope you’ll be back soon.

Lots of love

Tina xx

About The Brotherhood

The BrotherhoodThe Brotherhood – safe haven or prison?

After her parents’ sudden death, a grieving Melissa falls back on her faith and into the welcoming arms of a religious sect. Captivated by their leader, Dominic, she leaves her old life behind and moves to the countryside to join them.

But life in The Brotherhood is not as safe as it first appeared. When engineer Mark joins The Brotherhood, Melissa finds herself conflicted between her growing feelings for him and her crush on Dominic. With their leader’s initial encouragement, Melissa and Mark grow close.

But as her haven becomes a prison, Melissa’s newfound happiness is destroyed by Dominic’s jealousy. How can she escape and save the ones she loves?

You can pre-order The Brotherhood now on Amazon.

About Jo Fenton

Jo FentonJo Fenton grew up in Hertfordshire. She devoured books from an early age, particularly enjoying adventure books, school stories and fantasy. She wanted to be a scientist from aged six after being given a wonderful book titled Science Can Be Fun. At eleven, she discovered Agatha Christie and Georgette Heyer, and 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 husband, two sons, a Corgi and a tankful of tropical fish. She is an active and enthusiastic member of two writing groups and a reading group.

Find Jo on Twitter and Facebook.

Letters from Elsewhere

I’m delighted to have a visit today from Maria Ferreira, mother of the narrator in the about-to-be-released Chasing the Case by Joan Livingston.

Although we have never met before, I’ve read so much about this feisty nonagenarian that I feel as if I know her already. She plays an important part in Chasing the Case, a novel that was an honour for me to edit. Here’s her letter to her daughter:

Dear Isabel,

You were always such a curious child. If you heard something happened, you wanted to know why. If somebody told you a story, you asked about the missing pieces. I am glad you turned your curiosity into a job, first as a journalist and now as a private investigator.

I laugh when I hear you say you inherited the nosy gene from me. You know how much I love reading and watching mysteries. Now I’m doing what I can to help you with your case. It keeps my 92-year-old mind sharp — that and coming to live with you. I am grateful.

This wasn’t a good year for you — first with Sam dying and then you losing your job running that paper. But now you’ve decided to investigate this case about that woman, Adela Collins, who went missing in this town 28 years ago. For the first time in a while, I see you are not so sad. You are that interested and interesting girl I raised.

No one told you to investigate this case. You did tell me it was the first big story you had when you were a rookie reporter. But you also knew the woman. She worked at her family’s store, the only one here in Conwell. This town is so tiny with only a thousand people. How does something like this happen? I am curious, too.

But bad things can happen even where you think you’re safe. Take your little cousin, Patsy. We still don’t know who stole and killed her even after all these years. The family was never the same. Perhaps some day you will solve that mystery.

I hope you are able to bring some peace to Adela’s family. I’m proud I’m your mother and partner in crime.

Love,

Your Mother

P.S. I like your boss, Jack, at the bar you work. I heard he’s available. You’re too young to be single again. He’s a pretty nice guy. What are you waiting for?

Chasing the CaseAbout Chasing the Case

How does a woman disappear in a town of a thousand people? That’s a 28-year-old mystery Isabel Long wants to solve.

Isabel has the time to investigate. She just lost her husband and her job as a managing editor of a newspaper. (Yes, it’s been a bad year.) And she’s got a Watson — her 92-year-old mother who lives with her.

To help her case, Isabel takes a job at the local watering hole, so she can get up close and personal with those connected to the mystery.

As a journalist, Isabel never lost a story she chased. Now, as an amateur P.I., she’s not about to lose this case either.

Chasing the Case can be pre-ordered now on Amazon.

About Joan Livingston

Joan LivingstonJoan Livingston grew up on the coast of New England, where her grandparents arrived from the Azores and Madeira islands. While raising six children, she began writing in earnest when she worked as a reporter covering the rural hilltowns of Western Massachusetts. It was the start of a 30-year career as an award-winning journalist, an experience she says has paid off with realistic characters and dialogue in the fiction she creates for adult and young readers. After over a decade living in Taos, New Mexico, Joan and her husband recently returned to Western Massachusetts, which is the setting for most of her adult fiction, including her first mystery, Chasing the Case. She blogs about whatever interests her at www.joanlivingston.net.

You can also find Joan on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads and on Litsy as JoanLivingston.