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Holidays

Providence in Provence

It’s been a while since I’ve written about me on this blog, so here goes…

My most recent news is about the few days I spent in France, due to the providence of my publisher, Crooked Cat Books. The “gathering” of authors was both fruitful and fun, and the location of Carcassonne was perfect.

Black Jacket

You can see how much I enjoyed it!

Then, on the way back, I spent a day in Marseille, which also has plenty to see.

Marseille

And I loved the Japanese hotel I stayed in.

Japanese Art

Only one thing marred the trip, but I’ll leave that for another post.

It was great to return home. (Sorry about the misted window.)

Returning Home

Oh yes! A month ago, I was thrilled to be able to share five special photos on Sharon Booth’s lovely blog. Do have a look if you haven’t yet. A picture, as they say, is worth a thousand words.

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Books Letters from Elsewhere

Letters from Elsewhere: Annette Waters

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I’m delighted to host my old friend, Annette Waters, today. Yeah, I reckon I know Annette pretty damn well. So much so that even her language has rubbed off on me! You see, Annette comes from a novel I took great pleasure in editing: Redneck’s Revenge by Joan Livingston. And the launch date is just around the corner.

In Redneck’s Revenge, Annette Waters hires Isabel Long for Isabel’s second case. Annette doesn’t believe her father died in a fire after he was passed-out drunk. She believes he was murdered. In this letter, Annette, who Isabel and her mother nicknamed the Tough Cookie, expresses her appreciation:

Dear Isabel,

I wanted to say thanks for taking my case. My cousin, Marsha, told me all about how you figured out what happened to that woman who went missing so many years ago. My Pop hasn’t been dead that long so I hope it will be easier.

I’m going to be honest with you. I don’t like newcomers very much. Sometimes I actually hate them. A lot of them move into our little towns and treat us natives like we’re stupid rednecks. Yeah, I am a redneck and proud of it, but you didn’t make me feel stupid. You weren’t shocked I’m a mechanic and I run the junkyard my father owned.

You didn’t mind I’m going to pay you with free service to your cars.

And you believed what I told you about my Pop.

I know what kind of man my father was. If he didn’t like you, he was a real SOB. That was actually a lot of people.

But if Pop did like you, he’d take the shirt off his back for you. He’d sure like you and your mother.

By the way, your mother cracks me up. I can’t believe she’s 92.

Yeah, yeah, I heard Pop cheated at cards. I say don’t play if you can’t afford to lose. Stop being a crybaby. Wah, wah, wah.

Yeah Pop drank like a fish. And the hard stuff, too. But burn up in a fire? He’d never get that drunk.

Shit. Nobody deserves to die like Pop did. I just hope he didn’t suffer much. It makes me cry when I think about it because I loved him so much. He taught me everything I know about fixing vehicles.

I gave you a list of who I think might have done it. Please find the bastard who killed him.

Yours truly,

Annette

About Redneck’s Revenge

Redneck's RevengeISABEL LONG’S SECOND CRIME MYSTERY

Her next case. She’s in it for good.

Isabel Long is in a funk months after solving her first case. Her relationship with the Rooster Bar’s owner is over, but no surprise there since his sister turned out to be the killer. Then cops say she must work for a licensed P.I. before working solo.

Encouraged by her Watson — her 92-year-old mother  — Isabel snaps out of it by hooking up with a P.I. and finding a new case.

The official ruling is Chet Waters, an ornery so-and-so, was passed out when his house caught fire. His daughter, who inherited the junkyard, believes he was murdered. Topping the list of suspects are dangerous drug-dealing brothers, a rival junkyard owner, and an ex-husband.

Could the man’s death simply be a case of redneck’s revenge? Isabel is about to find out.

Click here for Redneck’s Revenge and here for the first in the series: Chasing the Case.

About Joan Livingston

Joan LivingstonJoan Livingston is the author of novels for adult and young readers. Redneck’s Revenge, published by Crooked Cat Books, is the second in the mystery series featuring Isabel Long, a longtime journalist who becomes an amateur P.I. The first is Chasing the Case.

An award-winning journalist, she started as a reporter covering the hilltowns of Western Massachusetts. She was an editor, columnist, and most recently the managing editor of The Taos News, which won numerous state and national awards during her tenure.

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 series.

Joan Livingston is on her websiteFacebookTwitter,  Instagram and Goodreads.

Redneck’s Revenge is released in just five days and Joan invites everyone to her celebratory online launch party, where there will be contests, discussions and more. Prizes include having your name as a character in Book Four plus signed copies of Chasing the Case. Just click on the link, choose ‘Going’ and Facebook will remind you when it’s happening.

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Books Letters from Elsewhere

Letters from Elsewhere: Cicely

Letters from ElsewhereI’m a bit worried about today’s visitor. I think she’s supposed to be in a lunatic asylum and I’m not sure how she got here. If you don’t hear from me again, expect the worst.

Dear Patrick,

It is worse than we ever imagined it would be. The first few days were the worst: the shock of my new surroundings, those abhorrent acts of brutality, the threat of which lingers in the shadows, leaps out at the merest look of defiance. But – and this has come as a shock to me – I have quickly grown used to the place and seem to be able to block out all but the most severe cruelties. I have lost track already of how many days I have been here – very few though, perhaps eight or nine. It feels like so much longer; I miss you and Fleur terribly. Maybe it is best not to dwell on it, after all, I must remember my purpose here. My motives are good; I just hope nobody will judge me too harshly for them.

There is no harm in any of the women. Indeed, there is one I believe I can even count on as a friend. She is a brave soul, Minette Dolan, only about eighteen or nineteen years old. She is very protective of the more vulnerable patients and has shown me the way to survive in this place. When I asked her how long she had been here, she said she didn’t know. She knows the date she came in here, she says, but does not know what date it is now, or even which day of the week, for we are not allowed a clock or calendar. When I asked what had brought her to Saint Anne’s, she looked me dead in the eye and said, “Moral insanity.”

She would not be drawn on it any further, and I have considered it for some time: moral insanity, what could that possibly mean? Dolan believes she can communicate with the spirit world; she gives comfort to some of the women here, women who have lost children or loved ones. I don’t believe there is any malice in her; she is misguided, that’s all. What harm could it do, to offer solace by bringing messages from the other side?

And yet women like Dolan are ten a penny in this Godforsaken city. We have met women like Dolan before, have we not? Since coming here I have thought about Soubrette often, the charlatan in her red room, with her ringed fingers and china figurines all rattling on her shelves.

In the end, I believe you nearly fell for her, but I think perhaps you wanted to. You had more at stake than me. One could be forgiven for being deceived.

It is time you let go, Patrick, let go of the past and start living again. Pictures of Magdalen are dotted all over the house; the portrait of her standing at the top of a horseshoe-shaped staircase with a flower garden behind her, another taken after she died. That one sits in a frame on your dresser in our bedroom. It is hard to live up to the memory of a ghost.

Ghosts – our house is full of them. There is Zeus, also, who you had prepared and stuffed, sitting always at our fireside, menacing me with his glassy stare. He never liked me; he was Magdalen’s dog, forever slobbering on me and pinning me against walls with his docile weight. Magdalen’s dog, Magdalen’s husband, Magdalen’s bed and her wardrobe full of clothes. There is only Fleur who is really mine.

I know you will never forget Magdalen – I wouldn’t want you to – but it’s time to let her rest in peace. We can talk about it more when I come home. It won’t be long now. I only say this because I love you. I love you and Fleur more than anything in this world, and can’t wait to see you both, just as soon as my work here is done.

Yours, always,
Cicely

Thanks for that, Cicely. And to the rest of you: you don’t really have to worry about me because Cicely comes from the pages of (soon to be released) Delirium by the very talented Emma Rose Millar.

DeliriumAbout Delirium

1881

Saint Anne’s Lunatic Asylum, London

One woman whose secret has brought her to the brink of insanity; another who claims she can tell fortunes and communicate with the dead. With seemingly no way out – and everything at stake – only one of them has the tenacity to survive.

Lies, murder, obsession… Delirium.

View the trailer here.

Find Delirium on Amazon.

About the Author

Emma Rose MillarEmma Rose Millar is a single mum from Birmingham who works part-time as a sign language interpreter. She writes historical fiction for adults and poetry for children. Her first novel, Five Guns Blazing, won the Chaucer Award, (Legend Category) in 2016. Her novella, The Women Friends: Selina, co-written with Miriam Drori, was shortlisted for the Goethe Award for Late Historical Fiction in 2016. Delirium is her third novel and was shortlisted for the Chanticleer Paranormal Book Awards in 2017. Some of Emma’s children’s poems will be published in 2019 by The Emma Press.

In her spare time, Emma enjoys swimming, yoga and ice-skating, and makes delicious chocolates.

 

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Books Letters from Elsewhere

Letters from Elsewhere: Andrew Shepherd

Letters from Elsewhere

Please welcome Andrew Shepherd, today’s visitor. Unfortunately, Andrew’s life hasn’t turned out the way he hoped and expected. Fifteen years ago, he and Matthew Clancy were brilliant young genetic researchers on the Human Genome Project at Cambridge University. But a scandal caused them to lose their jobs, and nowadays Shepherd finds himself down on his luck, teaching biology part-time at a young offenders’ institute. Clancy, meanwhile, became a professor and now has a successful genetic testing company. You can read Shepherd’s letter to Clancy. It’s more than a little disturbing!

Andrew Shepherd has flown in from the pages of the soon-to-be-released thriller, Reprobation by Catherine Fearns, another Crooked Cat novel.

20th July, 2017

Dear Matthew,

I hope this finds you well. You made yourself very clear at our last meeting, but I feel I must make one final attempt to bring you in on the OS1 project.

The preliminary results are astounding, and I am convinced it will be a success. Both patients are doing very well. Patient 1 was initially unresponsive, but following a course of dexamethasone the virus began to take, and I can now confirm the soteriological marker is present throughout his body. The lad hasn’t quite grasped the necessity of periodic boosters throughout his lifetime, but I believe that further Bible study will convince him.

But Patient 2, Matthew, Patient 2! A viable pregnancy was achieved after only two months, and I must congratulate myself there on my amateur IVF abilities. The foetus is now at 20 weeks’ gestation, and both mother and baby are in full possession of the OS1 marker. She is a simple girl, and although it pains me to say it, her learning difficulties proved useful in getting her to accept the treatment. She is living with me, and I feel that I am justified in having rescued her from a life of violence and poverty to one of, well, what can we say? As for the birth, I am in two minds as to whether it should take place in hospital. There may be dark forces of which we are unaware, working against us, and this baby must be protected. The pregnancy is currently unregistered, and if you were to come in on this, Matthew, we both know someone who could help her deliver at home.

Think of it! A child born without sin; think of what it means! All we ever wanted as geneticists was to make a difference, and what greater difference could there be. Matthew, you cannot deny what we discovered. Together; yes, we discovered it together. What happened in Cambridge was not blasphemy, and it was not by chance. You say that you fear the consequences of deviating from God’s plan, but this, Matthew, this is God’s plan for us. We are prophets. More than prophets, we could be the veritable architects of the Second Coming.

I intend to submit the paper, with or without your blessing. You cannot prevent it. This secret is not ours to keep. The title shall be ‘Spontaneous versus artificial mutation of the OS1 gene: a soteriological approach’ by Andrew Shepherd, PhD. I had hoped that your name would be on it too; indeed  without the support of your good name and institution I have no credibility. Baptiste has been generous in supplying the necessary equipment for my lab; however he is not the person I need.

And so in vain hope, I leave you with the latest draft of my research paper. I hope it will become our research paper.

Yours,

Andrew

About Reprobation

Reprobation by Catherine FearnsAre You One Of The Elect?

Dr. Helen Hope is a lecturer in eschatology – the study of death, judgement, and the destiny of humankind. She is also a Calvinist nun, her life devoted to atoning for a secret crime. When a body is found crucified on on a Liverpool beach, she forms an unlikely alliance with suspect Mikko Kristensen, lead guitarist in death metal band Total Depravity. Together, they go on the trail of a rogue geneticist who they believe holds the key – not just to the murder, but to something much darker. Also on the trail is cynical Scouse detective Darren Swift. In his first murder case, he must confront his own lack of faith as a series of horrific crimes drag the city of two cathedrals to the gates of hell.

You can buy Reprobation on Amazon.

About Catherine Fearns

Catherine Fearns, author of ReprobationCatherine Fearns is a music journalist from Liverpool, UK. She writes about heavy metal for Pure Grain Audio, Broken Amp and Noisey, and her short fiction and non-fiction has appeared in Offshoots, Toasted Cheese, Succubus, Here Comes Everyone and Metal Music Studies. She is a member of the Crime Writers’ Association. Reprobation is her first novel and has a Kindle release date of 16th October 2018 (paperback edition available now). A sequel, Consuming Fire, has been signed for publication in early 2019.

You can find Catherine on her website and on Twitter.

 

Categories
Books Social anxiety

A Year of Social Anxiety Revealed

Social Anxiety Revealed: the Launch PartyAugust 22 marked a year since my non-fiction book, Social Anxiety Revealed was published by Crooked Cat Books.

This was the book I wrote first, before I even thought of writing fiction, before I had any notion that I could be creative. I did what I knew, after years working as a technical writer. I collected quotes from people I met (mostly online) who agreed to having them published as long as they remained anonymous, and organised the material into chapters and sub-chapters, adding text of my own. I also added humorous asides and, since I was quite an expert in using Word, I created different styles for each type of text (quotes, humour, etc.) to make the each one stand out. I had no idea what a nightmare this would cause for a publisher.

Then I tried to get my book published, and started to realise how difficult that is.

Fast forward about twelve years. (I hope my husband doesn’t read this. He’d be shocked at my use of that expression.) After Crooked Cat had published two of my fiction books, they agreed to publish Social Anxiety Revealed. I revised it, adding further information. I then worked with my wonderful editor, Sue Barnard, who made the book shine.

Then Crooked Cat went through the nightmare of turning it into a publishable format and somehow came out the other side.

Cover: Social Anxiety RevealedWhat has happened in the year since publication?

A lot of people have expressed interest, at the launch party and since. There have been some fabulous reviews, from people on two sides of the divide: “sufferers” and therapists. (Actually, it’s not so much of a divide. It’s often the ones who have gone through something like this who decide to become therapists.) I’m thrilled every time I hear that the book has helped someone. I have presented a talk on the topic and led a workshop, which also gathered a lot of interest. I hope to do more of that in the future.

I do hope my book and social anxiety in general will become better known. I believe many people would be much better off if that happened.

We Need to Talk about Social Anxiety

Categories
Books Social anxiety

The Word

Have You Heard the Word?

Say the word and you’ll be free
Say the word and be like me
Say the word I’m thinking of
Have you heard the word is…

INCREDIBLY

Yes. If you live in the UK, listen to yourselves, listen to others, listen especially to Radio 4. This is the word you’ll hear more than all others. Nothing is very or really or amazingly any longer. Oh no! INCREDIBLY is the all-encompassing word.

It’s so fine, it’s sunshine
It’s the word…

Back in 1965 the word was love, but now the word is INCREDIBLY.

—0—

I had slots in three book launch parties recently and popped into others. Congratulations to:

I’ve read Heathcliff, which is excellent (or should I say: incredibly good?). I’m reading The Brotherhood, which promises to be excellent, too. I have yet to read the others, but I’m sure I’ll enjoy them. After all, they’re all published by Crooked Cat, which has published some incredibly good books. And mine.

—0—

This week, I read a blog post by Social Anx that resonated with me. In fact, I thought it incredibly powerful, even though not everything in it applies to me. It inspired a post of my own on the other blog.

—0—

See you next Friday. I hope the week works out incredibly well for you!

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Books Letters from Elsewhere

Letters from Elsewhere: John Burgess

Letters from Elsewhere

I’m delighted to be joined today by John Burgess, who comes straight from the pages of Heathcliff by my good friend and fellow Crooked Cat author, Sue Barnard. Yes, that Heathcliff – the one and only. John has brought the letter he wrote to his wife.

My dearest Anne,

I trust that this letter will find you in good health.  We have only been at sea for less than eight and forty hours, but already I am missing you beyond measure.

How is our dear little Emily?  Mr McDougal promised me that he would ensure that the two of you would be well cared for whilst I am away.   I know he is a man of his word, and as you well know he has already been my saviour on more than one occasion. 

I was very nervous about going to sea again, my love – not just because of the prospect of having to leave you (especially in view of your condition), but also because it is so long since I was last on a ship. But it has proved to be not so bad as I had feared.  I was seasick at first, but thankfully that has now passed.  Our voyage is going well so far.  Captain Trelawney is, as one would expect, kept extremely busy with the day-to-day running of the ship, but young Heathcliff has been keeping me company.  He is a very competent sailor, despite having had no previous experience before he came to Liverpool.

All the same, I am rather worried about him.  For his age (I believe he is around seventeen or so), he is surprisingly uneducated.  When I told him that you were four months gone with child, he looked bewildered and asked me what I meant.  I never imagined that I should be the one who would have to educate anyone about the facts of life.

Heathcliff seemed surprised – even a little shocked – by what I explained, but afterwards he thanked me, then told me why he had first come to Liverpool.  It transpires that he was running away from a girl who broke his heart by saying it would degrade her to marry him.  I have often thought that he seems to be a troubled soul, and now I am beginning to understand why. 

I will post this letter when we next arrive in port, and will write to you again later during the trip.  In the meantime, please take good care of yourself and of little Emily.  I am counting the hours until I see you both again.

HeathcliffYour loving husband,

John

About Heathcliff

What happened to Heathcliff during the three years when he disappeared from Wuthering Heights?  And who were his parents?  Possible answers to these questions are offered in Sue Barnard’s latest work, Heathcliff, due for publication on 30th July, 2018.

About Sue Barnard

Sue BarnardSue Barnard is a British novelist, editor and award-winning poet. She 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.

Sue 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.

In addition to working as an editor for Crooked Cat Books, Sue is the author of four novels apart from Heathcliff: The Ghostly Father, Nice Girls Don’t, The Unkindest Cut of All and Never on Saturday.

She is also very interested in Family History. Her own background is far stranger than any work of fiction; she’d write a book about it if she thought anybody would believe her.

Sue lives in Cheshire, UK, with her extremely patient husband and a large collection of unfinished scribblings.

I was lucky enough to read an earlier version of Heathcliff and have begun reading the final version. It’s an excellent read, whether or not you’ve read Wuthering Heights.

***

If you hurry over to Amazon, you might still catch the tail end of Crooked Cat’s Summer Sale. Sue’s books (apart from Heathcliff), my books and many others are in the sale.

Categories
Books Letters from Elsewhere

Crooked Cat Summer Sale

Summer_Festival_Flyer_Template

Yes, Crooked Cat’s summer sale starts today, and to celebrate, here are all the books currently on sale that have appeared in my popular series, Letters from Elsewhere:

Letters from Elsewhere

My books are also in the sale:

NEITHER HERE NOR THERE is a contemporary romance set mostly in Jerusalem. It tells the story of Esty, who has just left the closed, haredi community in which she grew up, and Mark, a new immigrant from Britain.
Neither Here Nor There appeared on Letters from Elsewhere on 2 October, 2015 and 29 January, 2016.
THE WOMEN FRIENDS: SELINA was written together with the lovely Emma Rose Millar. It’s based on Gustav Klimt’s masterpiece, The Women Friends and covers the whole inter-war period. Selina arrives in Vienna, young, vulnerable and fresh from the country, and ends up staying for many years.
SOCIAL ANXIETY REVEALED is non-fiction and reveals all about social anxiety. Suitable for sufferers and non-sufferers alike, it shows our similarities and differences through quotes from many others who are much more familiar with social anxiety than they would like to be.

My Books

Lots more Crooked Cat books are in the sale. Don’t miss out.

Categories
Books Letters from Elsewhere

Letters from Elsewhere: Skye

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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Books

Update and Quote

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.