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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,
James

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.

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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.

Love
Anne
xxx

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.

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Books Letters from Elsewhere

Letters from Elsewhere: Melissa

Letters from Elsewhere

Book Cover.

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I’m delighted to be visited today by Melissa. I loved reading her story in Stella Hervey Birrell‘s novel, How Many Wrongs make a Mr Right? published by Crooked Cat.

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Dear Bella,

Letters from Elsewhere picture 1The wee one is napping on me and all I can reach is this piece of paper and a pen, so I thought I’d write and say hi. How are you? What’s new in Edinburgh? I miss it – I miss you!

I’ve been really tired: he keeps waking me up in the middle of the night, bad dreams. About his Daddy mostly. I don’t know what to say to him, but I can’t sleep with him in my bed either.

Then in the day time he’s into everything, every minute has to be filled with something: by the end of the day there’s playdough out and drying, pens scattered in a jumbled rainbow, cereal crunching under my feet. Sometimes I just shut the kitchen and the living room doors, and go straight to bed.

Letters from Elsewhere picture 2How’s the new flat? And what’s it like, finally living with Darren? You looked so happy together at the christening, thank you for coming and for the gift. Ornaments are all very well, but your Boots voucher will be much more useful and I’ll never have to dust it.

I’m sure I’m meant to be a grown-up now. I feel I’m just pretending to know what I’m doing, parenting this wee thing. I miss just hanging out at the pub. And going dancing, although I can’t imagine staying awake for long enough. You want to see him sleeping on my shoulder, you would never think he gets up to any mischief. I’ve got a dead arm now, where he’s sparked out on it. I don’t know whether I should let him sleep just now either: will he be awake at night again? I’m just making it up as I go along.

Letters from Elsewhere picture 3But maybe that’s all any of us does. And maybe it’s better to wing it; if I don’t have a plan, it doesn’t matter when it all goes wrong. Like yesterday, when we ‘had’ to do potato printing (his words), and there were no potatoes, no paint, we’d even run out of paper. Lots of wrongs. So we went to the shops, and I looked up how to make them, and we did it together, after arguing about whether I was going to let him use the sharp knife. Maybe I am getting it right, some of the time.

Letters from Elsewhere picture 4I hope potato prints and cereal and rainbows are enough. I love him and all that, but sometimes I’m just too tired to show it!

Come and visit soon?

Love,

MelissaSignature

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Stella Says

17.11.2015. Stella Hervey Birrell.
Stella writing at home.

Thanks for reading! If you’d like to find out what happened to Melissa, all is revealed in How Many Wrongs make a Mr Right? which is available from UK Amazon US Amazon Kobo Nook and iBooks.

How to find me: please come and say ‘hi’ in one or more of these places.

 

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Books Letters from Elsewhere

Letters from Elsewhere: Sloane Harper

Letters from Elsewhere

Ten years on, today’s visitor, Sloane Harper, shares a letter to her daughter. Sloane is brought by Crooked Cat author, Astrid Arditi.

My darling Rose,

18 ! Such an important birthday…

You are now considered an adult even though to me, you’ll always be my sweet little girl with a maturity beyond her years. I can still feel your tiny arms wrapped around my neck, your baby smell in the morning when you slept in my bed.

And we did have many sleepovers, didn’t we? Sometimes I felt that you and your sister, sleeping peacefully close to me, were a life raft in the vast ocean that had become my bed when your dad left. You kept me anchored, saved me from drowning in despair.

I remember the smile you put bravely on when he left. For me. Pretending you were ok, shielding your little sister from what happened at home, always coming up with new games to amuse her. Your were so young and you must have felt it was so unfair.

I need you to believe me when I say I tried to keep our family whole for you, for Poppy. But sometimes things don’t turn out as we planned, another difficult lesson from adulthood you had to learn too early. Please remember though, sometimes the twists and turns of Fate happen for a good reason. Even when life looks bleak, there is sunshine beyond the clouds and holding onto hope will get you through the storm. I learned so many invaluable lessons after your father left me. About myself mostly. And I met Ethan, the love of my life. Never saw this one coming…

 

But I diverge, I’m not writing this letter to talk about my love story but instead yours. Or those that await you. You’re a woman now. Something else that took me by surprise. It was long coming but it still feels too soon.

As you step into womanhood, I can’t shield you from everything, no matter how much I wish I could. There will be heartbreaks, disillusions, lessons learned the hard way. These are all part of life and you shouldn’t shy away from them. If they happen, that means you’re trying, you’re trusting, you’re living your life to the fullest and I desire nothing else for you.

One thing you should remember always. Something I’d loved my mother had taught me.

You are wonderful. Qualities and flaws, you should embrace them all because they make you, YOU, and YOU are exceptional. I’m not saying you shouldn’t strive to better yourself, this is a life work, but never ever change for someone else, no matter how worthy you might find them. You are deserving of love, exactly as you are, and the men that will love you will be the luckiest. Don’t let anyone take you down or make you feel anything less than precious. Everyone woman is unique, extraordinary, strong.

To me you’re all this and more, because you’re my daughter, and the love I have for you is limitless.

I’ll be here to pick you up, kiss your tears, but will always send you back on your way. You needn’t be so serious anymore, your sister and I are ok. 

 

Live and bloom my sweet Rose, and a very happy birthday.

Love, always

Mom xx

About A Cunning Plan

Astrid Arditi - A Cunning PlanDetermined to put her family back together, Sloane Harper stalks her ex husband and his annoyingly stunning mistress, Kate. But she’s not the only one. Handsome IRS agent Ethan Cunning is surveying them too, but not for the same reasons. He is attempting to nail Kate’s playboy boss.

Ethan and Sloane decide to help each other, which sends Sloane’s wobbly life spinning out of control. She’ll have to face danger, humiliation, and scariest of all, the dating scene, to lure her daughters’ father home.

Losing control was the best thing to happen to Sloane… until it turned lethal.

Buy links:

About Astrid Arditi

Astrid ArditiAstrid Arditi was born from a French father and Swedish mother. She lived in Paris and Rome before moving to London with her husband and daughter back in 2013.

After dabbling in journalism, interning at Glamour magazine, and teaching kindergarten, Arditi returned to her first love: writing.

She now splits her time between raising her kids (a brand new baby boy just joined the family) and making up stories.

A Cunning Plan is Arditi’s first published work.

Contact Info:

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Books Letters from Elsewhere

Letters from Elsewhere: Leon Cazador

Letters from Elsewhere

Nik Morton introduces my guest today – another fascinating individual.

In the middle of 2005, I received a communication from a Spanish man, Leon Cazador. He wrote in English and this is it.

Dear Mr Morton

Forgive me for approaching you like this, but I was intrigued by your book Pain Wears No Mask, which is purportedly a novel. Yet the first person narrative suggests otherwise. I thought you captured the voice of Sister Rose perfectly. I feel you could do the same for me, too.

         Let me begin by saying that my allegiance is split because I’m half-English and half-Spanish. Mother had a whirlwind romance with a Spanish waiter but happily it didn’t end when the holiday was over. The waiter pursued her to England and they were married.

         I was born in Spain and I have a married sister, Pilar, and an older brother, Juan, who is an officer in the Guardia Civil. You may wonder why I am contacting you. Well, I am a private investigator and sometimes I operate in disguise under several aliases, among them Carlos Ortiz Santos, my little tribute to the fabled fictional character, Simon Templar.

         As a consequence of dealing with the authorities and criminals, I have observed in my two home countries the gradual deterioration of effective law enforcement and the disintegration of respect. My name translated into English is ‘Lion Hunter’. The Spanish sounds less pretentious, I think.

         When I was growing up in England, I never imagined there would be no-go areas in those great cities, places where the shadow of light falls on streets and minds. At weekends, some sections of many towns seem to be under siege.

         Now that I have returned to live in Spain, I find that it is not so bad here, though I must admits that there have been many changes over the last thirty years, most of them good, yet some to be deplored. It is heartening to see that family cohesion is still strong in most areas, but even that age-old stability is under threat. Yet, some urbanizaciones more resemble towns on the frontier of the Old West, where mayors can be bought, where lawlessness is endemic and civilised behaviour has barely a foothold. Even so, most nights you can walk the streets and feel safe here in Spain.

         As Spain’s conscription didn’t cease until 2001, I decided to jump rather than be pushed and joined the Army, graduating as an Artillery Lieutenant. About a year later, I joined the Spanish Foreign Legion’s Special Operations Company (Bandera de operaciones especiales de la legión) and was trained in the United States at Fort Bragg, where I built up my knowledge about clandestine activities and weapons. Some months afterwards, I was recruited into the CESID (Centro Superior de Informacion de la Defensa), which later became the CNI (Centro Nacional de Inteligencia). Unlike most Western democracies, Spain runs a single intelligence organisation to handle both domestic and foreign risks.

         I am one of those fortunate individuals capable of learning a foreign language with ease: I grew up bilingual, speaking English and Spanish, and soon learned Portuguese, French, German, Arabic, Chinese, and basic Japanese. Part of my intelligence gathering entailed my transfer to the Spanish Embassy in Washington, D.C. There, I met several useful contacts in the intelligence community, and at the close of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan I embarked on a number of secret missions to that blighted land with CIA operatives. By the time the Soviet withdrawal was a reality, I was transferred to the Spanish Embassy in Tokyo, liaising with both intelligence and police organisations. Secret work followed in China, the Gulf and Yugoslavia.

         A year after witnessing the atrocity of the Twin Towers while stationed with the United Nations, I returned to civilian life and set up a private investigation firm. During periods of leave and while stationed in Spain, I established a useful network of contacts in law enforcement, notably the Guardia Civil. One of my early cases resulted in me becoming financially set for life, so now I conduct my crusade against villains of all shades, and in the process attempt to save the unwary from the clutches of conmen, rogues and crooks.

         To begin with, I would like to relate to you several of my private eye cases, changing names as appropriate, of course. Perhaps at a later date I might be able to go into some detail about certain clandestine operations. Would you be interested in meeting me with a view to writing about these cases as fiction ‘in my own words’?

         I remain,

         Yours truly

         Leon Cazador

Sadly, Pain Wears No Mask is out of print now. Needless to say, I couldn’t miss the meeting. Señor Cazador is a remarkable individual and I have since transcribed 22 of his cases in the collection Spanish Eye. He also appears in the ‘Avenging Cat’ novels, Catalyst and Catacomb. He continues to supply me with information that I am gathering for additional short stories and at least one novel.

Bio

NikMortonNik Morton has been writing for over 50 years. He has sold over 120 short stories, even more articles, and had 21 books published in several genres. His latest publications are the second and third novels in the ‘Avenging Cat’ series, Catacomb and Cataclysm from Crooked Cat.

 

Spanish Eye

Spanish Eye.

…These stories are humorous, insightful and sometimes tragic. Leon Cazador is not afraid to bring the bad men to justice, and so help to restore the balance in this world. Beautifully written with a simple and uncluttered style which draws you in to the heart of the story. Highly recommended!

– Laura Graham, actress, author of Down a Tuscan Alley

 …While reading these exciting stories I experienced a myriad of emotions. I laughed, cried, and became incensed. I cheered and clapped, but most of all I felt a confirmation of universal values.

– E.B. Sullivan, author of Different Hearts

Nik’s LinksCATACLYSM COVER

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Books Interviews

Author Interview: Miriam Drori

2016Sale
Poster by Ailsa Abraham

Yes, I’m interviewing myself. Why not?

Q: Hello, Miriam. I’m delighted you could join me today.

A: I’m delighted to be here. Thank you for inviting me, Miriam.

Q: Tell me about your novel, Neither Here Nor There.

A: It’s a light romance, set mostly in my home town of Jerusalem and partly in my former home town of London.

Q: Oh come on, it can’t be that light with such a background. It must involve terrorist attacks and killing and all those scary things that go on all over the Middle East.

A: No, there’s none of that in my novel.

Q: So it’s a utopian sort of novel – the way you’d like your country to be.

A: No, it depicts everyday life in present times, just as it is. The fact is, there’s so much more to life in Israel than those troubles you hear about on the news. We follow the news, of course, and we’re so very sad about the lives that are lost. But most people go about their lives without encountering any danger at all. And so the story of Esty and Mark and all the characters in my novel is perfectly realistic.

Q: So you’re saying this is just another romance.

A: No. While it can be read as a simple romance, it also brings up some complicated issues – issues most readers will recognise in some form or other.

Q: What sort of issues?

A: Arranged marriage, living in a closed community, escaping from a closed community, emigration, life-changing decisions.

Q: Yes, some serious issues there. Tell me about the closed community in your novel.

A: The haredi community. I call it that for simplicity, although within that group are several sects, some very much opposed to others. They live in various parts of the world. Many of your readers will have noticed their distinctive dress. The men wear black hats, black suits and white shirts, with tassels hanging over their trousers, and they have beards and sidelocks. There are some who wear stranger garb. The women always wear long sleeves and long skirts, and married women cover their hair with scarves or wigs. Some people even think that all Jews or all Israelis dress like that.

In Jerusalem, they used to live only in specific districts like Mea She’arim, but they’ve expanded to other areas due to lack of space. The men often don’t work, spending their time studying the holy books. That leaves the women to support their large families, as well as caring for children and doing the housework.

Q: The women must feel very bitter about that.

A: I don’t think so. Most of them believe that’s how they’re supposed to live and never question it. They’re proud to have husbands who are able to study for long hours.

Q: What about arranged marriage? How does that work?

A: I want to stress that their marriages are arranged and not forced. They’re allowed to choose their marriage partners, but their choice is limited. They’re expected to choose one out of the few they’re introduced to.

Q: Do you think that works?

A: It seems to work as much as our system of random meetings does. The divorce statistics show that. I think a couple can grow to love each other after marriage, although I don’t have first-hand experience of such a relationship.

Q: How do other Israelis regard the haredi community?

A: There’s a lot of resentment. They generally don’t have to serve in the army, and they get grants for studying, which many view as a complete waste of time. On the other hand, they do jobs that no one else wants to do. There are at least four major associations run by people from the haredi community and serving the population at large. There’s one that deals with everything surrounding burials. One that provides all sorts of medical equipment. One that provides food for hospital visitors. And one that picks up and identifies all body parts following an explosion.

I saw an accident once at a junction in Jerusalem. I looked down from the top of a hill and saw a man lying on the road, having been thrown off his motorcycle. Immediately, someone got out of a car and started redirecting the traffic. Someone probably phoned for an ambulance. Two minutes after the accident, a haredi man who happened to be passing stopped his car, took a first-aid kit out of the boot and rushed over to the victim.

Q: Well I think we’ll leave it there. Thank you for coming, Miriam.

A: Thank you, Miriam.

Neither Here Nor There, published by Crooked Cat Publishing, is available from Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, iTunes and elsewhere.

Miriam Drori can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, Wattpad and on her website/blog.

Stop press: Neither Here Nor There is on sale for a few days on Amazon. In honour of that, several bloggers will be featuring the novel. I’ll update this post as those posts appear.

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Books

Easter Eggs

I have to admit, I’ve never heard of this meaning of “Easter eggs” before, but it’s a great term for an interesting topic. I’ll let Rumer Haven explain.

 

Thanks so much for hosting me, Miriam!
As the oft-repeated saying goes, “Write what you know.” And so writers often do, me certainly included. As I’ve related time and again when people ask, yes, What the Clocks Know is inspired in part by real life. The protagonist’s move to London parallels my own, as does her emotional response to the life changes she undertakes.
But that’s the bigger stuff that helps drive the plot and underlies the themes. There are a lot of little things writers will include from their own experiences, too, and I’m no exception. In fact, no one loves an inside joke more than I do, so I deliberately plant these personal “Easter eggs” in my stories to give myself and people who know me a chuckle. Here are just a few that appear in What the Clocks Know:

1. Chapter One alone is pretty loaded with ’em. I’m ridiculously nostalgic for my childhood and past pop culture, so I drew from that to initially ground Margot in the ordinary world she lives in during the present before she enters a rather extraordinary one of the past.

  • High school friends will remember the way I put dimes in my black loafers instead of pennies.
  • College friends might recall the “squirty bird” I purchased at the Meijer store off campus–a big, bright plastic parrot that squirted water out of its beak. One of my rooms at the sorority house had a flat roof just outside the window, so at night, I liked to climb out and wait (unseen) for unsuspecting friends to pop in and chat with my roommate, then douse them through the window screen.
  • Speaking of the sorority, yes, I was in one, and yes, we had a traditional symbol that we’d form with our index fingers and thumbs when posing for group photos. Unfortunately, many sisters had the tendency to position this diamond-shaped symbol below waist-level, which made me laugh hysterically–Really? Did they not see the innuendo there? But apparently I wasn’t the only one to catch it, as the alumni magazine now bans this pose from all its photos.

2. In Chapter Two, while Margot is still at her childhood home, she finds an old grade school journal akin to one I kept in sixth grade. Reading through some of the entries reminds her of a classmate who lived off a dirt road that I based on my actual school bus route. Though now paved over, this road has forever creeped out locals and become an urban legend, as depicted in the eponymous film Munger Road. I was shocked when the movie came out after I’d already incorporated this reference into my first draft–just goes to show the mark that road makes on locals!

3. The once nameless waiter at the Troubadour cafe in Chapter Five only first became “Hal” during the late stages of editing–named for the actual Troubadour employee who gave me permission to reference the independent cafe by name. He was so pleasant and enthusiastic about the book that when he jokingly suggested I name a character after him, I decided to do just that.
4. Speaking of cafes, though not mentioned by name, the Chicago coffee house that Margot describes to Chloe at the Troubadour is the very same Bourgeois Pig Cafe featured in my last novel, Seven for a Secret. I frequented that place when I lived in Chicago’s Lincoln Park, loving and missing it so much that I held my Seven for a Secret launch party there as well in 2014.
5. There are occasional references to the French Revolution and, more specifically, Bastille Day–which is my birthday.
I could go on and on with these little hidden eggs, I’m sure, but I’ll leave the challenge to you as you read What the Clocks Know. Happy hunting! I mean, reading!
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About What the Clocks Know:
Finding a ghost isn’t what Margot had in mind when she went ‘soul searching’, but somehow her future may depend on Charlotte’s past.

Woven between 21st-century and Victorian London, What the Clocks Know is a haunting story of love and identity. A paranormal women’s fiction, this title is available as of March 18, 2016 from Crooked Cat Publishing.

“A unique tale of the paranormal – as beautiful as it is haunting.”
~ Shani Struthers, author of Jessamine and the Psychic Surveys series

** Add it! **
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29368003-what-the-clocks-know
** Read it! **
Amazon US – http://amzn.to/21DZoCw
Amazon UK – http://amzn.to/1QsiFfr
~ * ~

Author Bio:

Rumer Haven is probably the most social recluse you could ever meet. When she’s not babbling her fool head off among friends and family, she’s pacified with a good story that she’s reading, writing, or revising—or binge-watching something on Netflix. A former teacher hailing from Chicago, she presently lives in London with her husband and probably a ghost or two. Rumer has always had a penchant for the past and paranormal, which inspires her writing to explore dimensions of time, love, and the soul. She debuted in 2014 with Seven for a Secret (in which a Jazz Age tragedy haunts a modern woman’s love life), and her award-winning short story “Four Somethings & a Sixpence” (about a bride who gets a little something she didn’t register for) was released in 2015. What the Clocks Know is her second novel.

Learn more about Rumer at:
Website – http://www.rumerhaven.com
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/rumerhaven
Twitter – @RumerHaven

Thank you for coming, Rumer, and for revealing all those Easter eggs.

As for the novel, What the Clocks Know,  I can attest to its excellence because I helped with the final editing, so am privileged to have read it.

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Books Letters from Elsewhere

Letters from Elsewhere: Dougal

Letters from Elsewhere

Today’s visitor is one of a kind. He’s called Dougal and he’s decided to write one of those letters to his younger self.

Dear little one,

You hated the thought of leaving the shores of Kent, the land of honey, Sky TV, siblings and mother’s milk for the unknown crime-ridden Metropolis, brim full to bursting with rules, vicious dogs and air pollution.  

Have I loved and protected you, the puppy in me? Kept alive your aspirations, quelled your fears and led you sensibly down the passage of time, helping to curb your excesses, fulfil your dreams and discover your role in life? How to be a man’s best friend: helping him through the trials of life, be it flu, sad times or a self-induced hangover.    

How have you fared? Has keeping a diary helped?

This particular date is forever etched in my memory.
16th May  (A quote from your diary at 5 months old)
Stonkingly good day! Terrified an entire nursery school and left muddy paws on the most elegantly-suited woman in the park. Once home I ate two brown socks, the tacks off the telephone wires, hacked through the skirting board, burst two footballs, was half-way through eating one of them and it wasn’t even lunchtime.

By 5 pm I’d eaten my lead, dug three large holes in the garden, chased next-door’s cat and chewed the leg off a chair. I’d call that, success.

Well, the good news is: you’ve stopped eating socks. A relief to the vet, your boss and dog minder, who had the pleasure of extracting a sock or three from out of your nether region…I need not continue, you get the picture? The details are too foul to go into. Maybe this is the moment to tell you more about you.

When you swapped Sky TV for the radio, you became less informed on Wildlife Programmes, but gained a greater knowledge about politics. And the big question now, is IN or OUT. Which for you, as a French speaker and Francophile, Paris and Brittany (Cité Europe is not on your wish list nor one of the 100 places you want to visit before you die) means you’re in. One of the very few to have actually made up their mind.

You didn’t die under the knife when your testicles were removed (the vet’s fault) nor did you gain the high notes of a counter tenor, but mercifully retained a deep baritone bark.

As you are aware, you survived a cliff-hanging incident (your fault) on the Thames. (Another diary entry, at 9 months of age.)

14th Oct

We were meeting Hannah in Barnes, not for the Boat Race – that we missed months ago. It was a blisteringly hot day and the tow path was heaving with families making the most of the weather. Next month London will be battening down the hatches, jumping into thermals and vegetating for the winter – a human habit caught from squirrels.

We sped along the path, river to one side, trees and back gardens on the other, dodging bikes, pushchairs and runners. They did, I didn’t.

‘Dougal, mind the baby. Oh, sorry, so sorry!  Dougal!’ I was high as a kite, charging through the dried leaves, my tail going like the clappers, as I sniffed dogs, chased cats and greeted every toddler going. Then, from the other side of the wall came the sounds of oars dipping in and out of the water, male voices, cries and laughter. The river was brimming with fun. I had to join in. With one Olympian leap, I was over.

Bonkers Dougal! Never underestimate the consequences of your actions. The water was only twelve metres below. Did I shimmy down the walls? No way. I dropped, one furry bundle of panic in free fall, my life vanishing behind me, the Thames looming ever closer, when a ledge, barely large enough to house a seagull, interrupted my descent. By some miracle I was able to grip. Thank the Lord I’d never had my nails cut.

Here, writing a diary helped you retain your sanity.

DougalInSnowNow, what about me, the older you? I keep in shape and young at heart by chasing non-existent foxes in the garden, jumping higher than a kangaroo when catching balls and treats. And I love, really adore nicking ice-creams out of  babies’ prams. But as for my obsessions with balls and health, I’d prefer to leave them for another time.

So, back to you, young Dougal! What of your dreams of starring in a West End Show, of travelling the world on Virgin Atlantic, or cocking your leg without falling over? Did any of them ever come true? 

Some of them, yes.

Always remember life is fun and you, my puppy, are well, truly alive and living in me.

From the almost grown-up Dougal xxx

The letter was headed:

A letter from my basket.
Written from the older, wised up but never wise or streetwise, Dougal to his younger self.

Dougal is the star of the novel Dougal’s Diary by Sarah Stevenson, published by Crooked Cat.

SarahStephensonAbout Sarah

Joining the Bristol School of Dancing aged seven, Sarah spent most of her childhood dancing in prisons, theatres, old people’s homes and the Grand Palais in Paris. Later she trained as an actress, working with Mike Leigh and other distinguished directors. When the children arrived, she trained as a chef, and when they’d finally flown the nest, catered in Europe, Britain and the States, giving private dinner parties. Sarah still works as a cook and writes.

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 About Dougal

About Dougal’s Diary

DougalHas he chosen his owner well and landed on his paws? Dougal the Labradoodle puppy, a complete hypochondriac and Boris Johnson’s No 1 fan, arrives in Greenwich with great expectations.

He longs to travel the world on Virgin Atlantic, dine at royal banquets and either become a superstar and party the night away or work as a doorman at the Savoy.

Behaviour classes were never on his wish-list, neither were cliff-hanging experiences on the Thames, booze cruises to Calais or obsessions for eating socks.

Can he survive life with a chaotic owner and her eccentric friends? Can he deal with his jealousy when a foster puppy comes to stay? And as for his dreams, will they ever come true?

Dougal’s Diary on Amazon

Categories
Books

While I’m away…

I’m taking a short break from the blog. While I’m away:

  • There will be no Letters from Elsewhere this Friday, but the popular series will be back the following Friday.
  • I have a post coming up on Angela Wren’s blog today and other guest posts are planned for a month or so hence.
  • OlgaSwan - LamplightLamplight by Olga Swan is being published by Crooked Cat this Thursday. Lamplight is a thriller – book 1 in the David Klein series. David Klein is eighteen when he runs away from the poverty and orthodoxy of his Jewish home in Birmingham, England, for the bright lights and opportunities of New York. But trouble is in store.

    From the anguish and terror of nearly drowning at sea, the story moves between New York, Birmingham and eventually to Breslau in Germany where, when working as a war reporter, he meets Karin. Together, they live through the burgeoning terror of Nazi Germany in 1938.

    You’re invited to join the launch party on Facebook. And the ebook is available now for pre-order on Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Baby with rattlePlay nicely while I’m away and I’ll reveal all on my return.

Categories
Books

News of a Book Sale

Sale1

Reduced for one week only from 19.02.2016

What would you give for a world free of war, dependence on fossil fuels, pollution and terrorism? That is the premise for the Alchemy series.

An accidental discovery solving the problem of fossil fuel brings this Utopian vision closer but at what cost? Could there be unforeseen consequences and how dire would they be? Who could fight demons if all established religion had been abolished?

Put aside demons and add two people more doomed than Romeo and Juliet who are forced to fight alongside each other. Mix in some very energetic Goths and an undercover Christian Granny for an explosive result as the stories move at breakneck speed into the near-future blending magical realism with pizza, ritual with slang, deepest hatred with impossible love, shape-shifting with public transport.

Sale2.

Book 1 Alchemy

Book 2 Shaman’s Drum

You can find Ailsa Abraham on TwitterFacebook and on her Web page.