fiction, historical fiction

Latest Release: SPITFIRE by Suzy Henderson

My latest release, SPITFIRE, is a short story set during WW2, and features a male protagonist, Sam, a fighter pilot flying sorties over Dunkirk during Operation Dynamo. I have no idea where he came from except to say that one morning he simply materialised, and in good time too. As the 80th anniversary of the evacuation of the Allied forces at Dunkirk approached, I wrote this short story. I was in the planning stage for the next WW2 novel, so maybe that was the nucleus, either way young Sam stomped into my world and he’s here to stay, at least for a while. You see, he’s to be the protagonist in my next book, so that’s a good thing as I’ve come to know him quite well as I attempt to plot and build scenes around him. It truly is a strange writers world, unique, serendipitous, and exciting.

Description:

A gripping tale of the courage and heroism of Churchill’s “Few” based on true events. Perfect for fans of Robert Radcliffe and Laura Hillenbrand.

May 1940. The French and British armies are in retreat as Hitler’s blitzkrieg storms through France. Finally, they are beaten back to the coast at Dunkirk, with nowhere left to flee.
Churchill is determined to rescue as many men as possible, for without her army, Britain is sunk. A plan is hatched to evacuate the men from the beaches by sea, but it will take the combined strength of all the forces to ensure its success.

Sam, a young RAF pilot flies sorties daily over France, engaging the enemy in the skies over Dunkirk. He is determined to protect the men trapped on the beaches below, and give them a fighting chance of returning to home shores.
Day after day he returns to base when others do not. He witnesses friends shot down by the Luftwaffe, sometimes lost at sea. And each time he wonders when his luck will run out, yet still, he returns to the hell in the skies.

Survival is Victory.

2020 is the 75th anniversary of VE Day. While the war still raged on in the Pacific, it was finally over for all in Europe and great celebrations rolled out around the world. Why not celebrate by reading a new book about those remarkable times, and in doing so, remember the “Few” who gave their all for us today. Lest We Forget.

Available to buy at Amazon and here.

Review:

“Great, fast moving short story. I loved the immediacy of it. Lots of wonderful Spitfire detail.” (Amazon reviewer)

fiction, historical fiction, Novel

Feature: Historical Fiction Author Samantha Wilcoxson

The Forgotten History of the Radium Girls

By Samantha Wilcoxson

June 7, 2020 – Luminous Blog Tour

I have loved reading about history for as long as I can remember. On more than one occasion, I was asked what class I was reading a book for and I had to admit that it was something I had selected to read for enjoyment. Yet, I was not familiar with the story of the “radium girls” until I listened to Kate Moore’s excellent book.

It was one of those snippets of history that seems unbelievable. When you think things are changing for the better, something happens and everything gets worse. Then you realize that events just like it continue to occur to this very day.

Called radium girls because of the luminescent paint they used to make watch and instrument dials glow in the dark, the young working-class women who were exposed to radium on a daily bases began sickening and dying in the years immediately following World War I. The companies they worked for denied liability, rejected the idea that radium was the cause of the women’s problems, and made any excuse at their disposal to avoid a decrease in profits.

The women had little help from the outside. Doctors, who had been using radium as a sort of miracle cure, were reluctant to admit that it might be dangerous. Most lawyers had no interest in taking on the case of women with little ability to pay fees and insufficient support to win their case. Worker’s compensation laws varied by state and often didn’t include the women’s situation. They were left at the mercy of the corporations that had caused their health to fail and then often fired them when they were unable to work.

When women began to die of radium poisoning, the symptoms were attributed to all manner of diseases. Diphtheria, tuberculosis, and even syphilis were documented causes of death for some of the poor girls. Some of the results of radium poisoning, such as sarcoma and infections, were listed as cause of death without an understanding of the underlying cause. Some doctors were in the pocket of the radium industry. Others simply didn’t know any better.

In Luminous, I have focused on the story of Catherine Donohue, an employee of Radium Dial in Ottawa, Illinois. Catherine was a typical small town girl, who counted herself lucky to obtain a good-paying position at the dial studio, until she developed a limp that never healed. Then she watched one of her friends collapse at work and another die of an infection that spread like wildfire. Catherine stood up for the Ottawa dial painters, even as her own health failed. Luminous is her story, and I hope that it is one that inspires curiosity about the past as well as a hunger for justice in the present.

Samantha Wilcoxson

Samantha Wilcoxson is a history enthusiast and avid traveler. Her published works include the Plantagenet Embers series with novels and novellas that explore the Wars of the Roses and early Tudor era. Luminous is her first foray into 20th century American history, but she suspects that it will not be her last. Samantha enjoys exploring the personal side of historic events and creating emotive, inspiring stories.

BUY YOUR COPY OF LUMINOUS HERE:

Universal Amazon Link for Luminous

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Samantha’s Blog

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On Tour with Madame Fiocca

This week I’m on tour with my latest release, Madame Fiocca. For those who don’t know, it’s about Nancy Wake, the infamous SOE heroine, journalist and French Resistance courier. Here’s a piece I wrote for Viviana Mackade’s fabulous book blog today. To read the entire piece click the link below:

Finding Nancy

by Suzy Henderson, author of Madame Fiocca.

I first read about Nancy Wake and her role in World War Two several years ago, while researching another story. I recall thinking how commendable, but I read on, discovering other heroines of SOE including the American, Virginia Hall, the first female operative in France. What is even more remarkable is that she had a prosthetic leg. While working with the Special Operations Executive in France, Virginia had to escape over the Pyrenees, quite literally at one-point crawling part of the way. It was an incredible achievement and so courageous.

One day I came across an article about Nancy Wake, and it mentioned her husband. That caught my interest, so I bought a biography of Wake written by Russel Braddon. Suddenly, Nancy was on my mind and I wanted to know more, such as where she grew up, and her life before France. Braddon’s book was wonderful, but it didn’t cover much of Nancy’s life in Australia. I then bought Nancy’s own biography, written at a later stage in her life. Once again, not much in there about Australia, so I decided to go digging on the internet, turning to genealogy sites as I looked for family ties. Well, after many hours of searching and triple checking the facts, I discovered her family tree, unearthing British, Maori and French roots.

I discovered through Nancy’s own words in her books and tv interviews, that her father had abandoned her and her family at an early age. And there was something else that stood out every time Nancy spoke of her war times. She vehemently denied ever being afraid, saying things such as she was far too busy to be scared. I found this interesting, because I’ve also heard of soldiers and airmen who have said exactly the same. And then I’ve heard dozens more state that any man who said he wasn’t afraid in war is a liar!

The fact is, Nancy was the consummate actress, quite forward, openly flirtatious with German soldiers in order to bluff her way through check points for instance. She could probably do just about anything and so painting on a brave face was a simple task. Like a chameleon, Nancy was changeable and adaptable to any situation or environment.

The French men she fought with and led loved her. They thought she was amazing, and formidable. Nancy made many firm friends for life, and one of them, Henri Tardivat, once stated: “She is the most feminine woman I know, but when the fighting starts she is like five men.”

Food for thought indeed. My take was that Nancy would have been afraid. Fear is a natural response after all, but Nancy had a strong spirit and the strength to push on, doing what she needed to do despite the risks.

There’s a lot to consider when writing about a real person, and the fear factor was important to me because I knew it existed, and I didn’t wish to write a person who was completely without it.

Re-reads of the biographies gave me more insight – it’s funny what you miss when reading something the first or even the second time. Piece by piece Nancy was emerging before my eyes.

Having gone from learning about a New Zealander, raised in Sydney, who became a guerrilla fighter with the Maquis in France – a great leader of some 7000 men, I was suddenly facing a woman who bore her own emotional scars, who did admit to feeling worried at times during the war, and who was a true lady with the heart of a lion. She was a born leader, involved in dangerous courier work for Resistance groups from the very beginning in France, and well before she joined the Special Operations Executive. It was during this time that the Germans became aware of a woman operating in southern France, and they dubbed her “The White Mouse”, offering a bounty for her capture.

Her real story reads like something out of Hollywood, and I was hooked, and I knew I had to write about her, to enable people to see the real Nancy. She was a wonderful human being, kind, incredibly generous, the greatest friend to have, and incredibly patriotic and brave.

Nancy Augusta Wake began life with very little, and went on to marry a wealthy man, Henri Fiocca, living a millionaire’s life, only to lose it all through war. At the end of it all she had to start again. It’s a tragic story, but she eventually found happiness and perhaps some peace later when she met and fell in love with John Forward. They married and settled eventually in Australia.

Nancy never got over the loss of Henri. He was, as she often remarked, the greatest love of her life, and his selfless sacrifice was her one regret from the war years.

Henri was arrested in May 1943 and tortured by the Germans, but he refused to give up his wife’s location. On October 16th, 1943, Henri Fiocca was executed by firing squad. And to the end of her days, Nancy always declared that “the only good Nazi is a dead one”.

Nancy Grace Augusta Wake 30 August 1912 – 7 August 2011

Book Linkmybook.to/MadameFiocca

From March 11th, the book will be available worldwide from all sellers including Kobo and Apple.

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On Tour with Madame Fiocca by Suzy Henderson and Meet the Author

Join me here at Viviana Mackade’s wonderful book blog and discover more about Nancy Wake, the lady behind my latest book, Madame Fiocca. Enter the giveaway for your chance to win a free copy of the book.

Viviana MacKade

This is so interesting!

Madame Fiocca by Suzy Henderson released in December last year in the Adult, Historical, Young Adult genre.

February 1933: Nancy Wake is a gregarious twenty-year-old looking for adventure. Having fled her unhappy family home in Sydney, she becomes a journalist and is thrilled when she is posted to Paris. Thecity is glamorous, brimming with journalists, artists, and a growing number of refugees.

Later, in the French Riviera, she uncovers more than news following a chance encounter with wealthy industrialist, Henri Fiocca. Their relationship blossoms as Hitler makes waves across Europe. While onan assignment in Vienna in 1938, she witnesses Nazis whipping Jews on the street and she vows to fight for justice if ever the opportunity arises.

When Henri is called to the Front to fight, Nancy, determined to help the war effort, joins the Red Cross as an ambulance driver. Every day she witnesses atrocities. When Paris…

View original post 1,178 more words

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Free Book Alert

This weekend only: Grab a copy of Madame Fiocca FREE e-book until January 26th.

Universal Link: http://mybook.to/MadameFiocca

Latest Review 5 Stars:

From the first paragraph of this enthralling biography that reads like a memoir, my attention was firmly grabbed and it never once flagged, even when it looked like Nancy’s life would be all love and roses. I had never heard of Nancy Wake, the independent, adventurous woman who seized life with both hands, living fully, embracing all it had to offer. But I immediately fell under her spell, tagging along as she made her way into adulthood and headlong into some of the most tumultuous times our world has ever known.

It took no time for Nancy to land plum assignments in Europe, where her love of food and culture bloomed. She lived a dazzling life as she made her way across the continent, reporting news of the emerging monsters—Mussolini, Franco and Hitler—as they cut a swath of misery and destruction across Europe. And in the middle of all the turmoil, Nancy fell in love with a man whose heart she had captured at first sight.

I can see why author Suzy Henderson was drawn to Nancy Wake, and the woman she would become, Madame Fiocca. As far as personalities go, Nancy was indomitable. She didn’t think twice about jumping into the fight against Hitler with both feet, regardless of the fact that she was a woman and had only minimal time to train.

Nancy relinquished her own happiness to help others to safety, to take up the fight, putting all she held dear at risk. She used her intelligence, her righteous hatred of Hitler and his goon squads, and her ability to slip past the enemy using her unique mixture of femininity, cunning and skills to her advantage. But it was her refusal to ever give up—regardless of pain or exhaustion or heartache—that makes her such a fascinating character. I absolutely loved this incredible account of a legendary woman—Madame Fiocca.

fiction, Novel, Uncategorized

Author Spotlight: Marianne Sciucco

What is your latest book about?

My most recent release is a novella, Christmas at Blue Hydrangeas, a prequel to my novel Blue Hydrangeas, an Alzheimer’s love story. So many readers told me they wanted to return to Blue Hydrangeas, a Cape Cod bed and breakfast, after reading BH that I had to revisit the Harmon family and write another story. The book was inspired by The Great Blizzard of 1978 and takes place decades before Sara’s Alzheimer’s. It’s a heartwarming holiday read fans love. Description: It’s Christmas Eve, and, as Sara waits for her husband and son to arrive home to Blue Hydrangeas, a blizzard threatens to close the bridges, stranding all travelers to and from the Cape. As she prepares for the holiday, unexpected visitors arrive, all sharing the common bond of grief. Sara is determined the storm and sadness will not spoil Christmas, and ensures Santa will find his way to two fatherless children far from home. A sweet slice-of-life story about loved ones and strangers coming together to share the spirit of Christmas.

You write in various genres. Can you tell us a little more about that.

I consider myself a storyteller, and my stories sprout from real-life experiences and events. For instance, Blue Hydrangeas was born not only from my witnessing the Alzheimer’s and  dementia several family members encountered, but also from my work as a registered nurse caring for patients and families living with these diseases. My Young Adult novel Swim Season was inspired by my daughter’s 10-year varsity swimming career. And the short stories in my Daisy Hunter series are reflections on pivotal events in my childhood. I’m not married to any particular genre. I market my work as Contemporary, Women’s, and Young Adult fiction, but collectively they are all heartwarming, family stories that appeal to a variety of readers.

Tell us more about your writing process. Are you a plotter or a panster?

Is one method better than the other? If you asked a hundred writers you’d get a hundred different answers. For me, a more hybrid approach seems to work. When I  start a new story I have to feel comfortable with what I’m writing, and actually have something to write. I’m not one to sit in front of a blank page and wait for inspiration. The inspiration has to be eating at me for a while before I start typing. I need at least a working title, a theme, the setting, a few well-thought out characters, and a series of scenes in mind that will drive the story from beginning to end. Sometimes I write this stuff down on random slips of paper or in designated notebooks. For the most part it’s locked in a special vault in my writer’s mind. Yet I don’t like feeling confined and am willing to explore new directions and plot twists as they arise.

What part of the writing process do you enjoy the most? The least?

It may seem odd but I enjoy the often dreaded rewriting process the most. I love ripping apart a story, adding illumination, “killing my darlings” to make the story stronger, and running it through a variety of checks to make sure it’s the best it can be. I use a tool called Autocrit as well as a few other tricks to do this. The part of the writing process I like the least is the chronic pain I live with due to repetitive strain injuries caused by an inappropriate computer work station. This has tormented me since 2006, and slows my writing down to almost  a crawl, if I’m able to write at all. You can read more about this here.

When did you begin writing?

My dream of being a writer started when I first realized writers make books, and I’ve loved books since I was a small child. In grade school, I often wrote “books,” which were scraps of paper covered in prose and stapled together. In high school, I discovered journalism and decided I wanted to be a newspaper reporter. In college, I majored in English and learned how to write. I worked for several newspapers as a freelancer and was the editor-in-chief of the student newspaper. After graduation, I struggled to find a full-time news job and failed, so I took a detour and went into nursing. I didn’t write for years, but then the nursing department at my hospital started a newsletter and I volunteered to take over as editor. This reignited my desire to write, and I soon held the first draft of my first novel, Blue Hydrangeas, in my hands. I haven’t stopped writing, and since 2013 have published three novels and three short stories. My work is available in paperback, ebook, and audiobook.

Any tips for new writers?

New writers need to understand that it’s exceedingly difficult to land a literary agent or to succeed in traditional publishing. The self-publishing boom has allowed millions of aspiring authors to publish their work, so the marketplace is flooded. It’s a challenge  to find footing in this market. You will most likely not become rich or be able to quit your day job to be a full-time writer. If money is your motivation, find something else to do. If you truly desire to write and find a few readers, proceed with care. There is much to learn, know, and do, but it is not impossible to publish your own work and find an audience.

A growing number of authors listen to music as they write. Apparently, it can induce creativity. Do you listen to music or do you prefer silence?

It depends on my mood. Sometimes I listen to music but it can be distracting. I also find silence distracting because breakthrough noise – street sounds, my cats racing around the house – interrupts my concentration.  I often have the TV on in  the background, turned to something I don’t want to watch, but the voices keep me company. When I do listen to music it’s usually while plotting, thinking deeply about my story, often when driving. For instance, when writing Swim Season I came up with a playlist to inspire me. Many of the songs ran through my head as I composed important scenes. That was very motivational.

What are you reading now?

I belong to four book clubs (manage two!) so I’m usually reading something for one of them. I don’t attend or read for all four each month, I don’t have time for that, it depends on what we’re reading. I like to travel in my reading, so this month I’m going to Africa in Homegoing, written by Yaa Gyasi, an epic novel that, from the jacket, “traces 300 years In Ghana and along the way becomes a truly great American novel.” I’m always reading something on my Kindle too, and my current read, Nantucket White Christmas by Pamela Kelley, takes me to one of my favorite spots, Nantucket Island. I just finished Let it Snow, a highly recommended read from my favorite Nantucket author Nancy Thayer. This one just may be her best. February kicks off with the classic Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, a book club selection for Black History  Month. So, you can see I’m an eclectic reader and travel far and wide geographically and throughout time via books. You’ll never find me not in the middle of at least two or three.

What are you working on at the moment?

My current work-in-progress is about a wedding. It’s another prequel to Blue Hydrangeas aptly entitled A Wedding at Blue Hydrangeas. I started it during Christmas week, 2018, shortly after publication of Christmas at Blue Hydrangeas. Ironically, my daughter became engaged in March, 2019, and I put aside my manuscript to focus on planning a real wedding, held December 29th, which was very different from the fictional wedding I conjured for my novella. In AW@BH, our heroine Sara is planning an outdoor, July reception for her son David and his bride Anne at their beautiful bed and breakfast, Blue Hydrangeas. They’re hosting a traditional Cape Cod clambake for 60 guests after a church ceremony. Unfortunately, a series of unforeseen events threaten to disrupt Sara’s careful planning. WIll the wedding go on? You’ll have to read the book, but first, I have to finish writing it.

An Excerpt from Christmas at Blue Hydrangeas

Sara peered out of the window and noted another inch of fresh snow on the ground. Time to get out the shovel.

She bundled up in an old parka and headed outside. The snow was light, and she cleared it with ease. She enjoyed working in the frigid weather, the cold air stinging her cheeks, her body made warm by her efforts. While she worked, she hummed a medley of Christmas carols.

The wind whipped the snow around her, and she remembered the empty bird feeders. She cleared an additional path to them and filled each with seed. She couldn’t bear to see her birds suffer. Satisfied, she moved on to the front of the house and was almost finished clearing the front walk and stairs when the sound of an approaching motor vehicle broke the silence. Seconds later, a pickup truck carrying a load of Christmas trees made its way up the drive.

She finished removing the last of the snow from the entrance to the house. “Come on in,” she called to the truck’s occupants as they exited the vehicle.

Minutes later, two burly men carried a magnificent Colorado Blue Spruce, ordered direct from the tree farm, up her front walk and into the house. She guided them into her formal living room and indicated the space in front of the window, a tree stand in place.

“Right there will be fine, Kenny,” she told the man in charge. His partner, Tom, was younger and smaller and never said much. She shed her parka and gloves, dropping snow onto the hardwood floor, and made a mental note to mop it up as soon as the men left.

“Do you want us to set it up for you?” Kenny took a small saw out of his pocket.

She nodded, and the men proceeded to cut an inch or so off the tree’s trunk. They stood the tree to its full height and inserted it into its sturdy metal stand. While she gave instructions, they positioned it to its best advantage.

“A little more to the left. Now back a bit. Not that far back. OK, that’s good. Leave it there.”

Pleased with the positioning of the tree, she waited while they secured it. They stood when finished and stepped back to appraise it with her.

“It’s a nice tree,” Kenny said.  “We cut it down just yesterday morning.” He took a deep breath. “The room already smells like pine.”

She inhaled, closing her eyes. “It’s wonderful.”

“Anything else we can do for you before we hit the road? The snow’s getting heavy. The town’s plows can’t keep up with it.”

“How bad are the roads?”

“Getting worse by the minute.

Her hopes plummeted. “But the weatherman on the radio said the heavy snow will end later this morning.

“Haven’t you heard?” Kenny raised his bushy eyebrows. “Old news. The storm’s taken a new path. Most recent report says it’s supposed to get worse before it gets better. A lot worse.”

“What are you saying?” She’d turned off the radio after the weather report to enjoy the silence and hadn’t kept up with the news.

“A blizzard is on its way, the second big one this year. Seventy-eight will go down in history as one of the snowiest years ever.

“But it’s Christmas Eve,” she cried, and immediately felt silly. Mother Nature didn’t care about Christmas Eve

“That look on your face tells me David and Jack aren’t home yet.”

“No,” she revealed, even more disheartened. The thought of another blizzard to rival last February’s Great Blizzard of 1978 terrified her. The power had gone out. No heat. No stove. They were snowed in for days. But they were together, camped out in front of the fireplace, keeping warm, able to heat up cans of soup and brew coffee. It was a miserable welcome their first winter as full-time Cape Cod residents. During those long, cold days she considered going back to New York, but remembered the winters there were also wretched. She bucked up and soldiered on.

And now this.

Bio

Her debut novel Blue Hydrangeas, an Alzheimer’s love story is a Kindle bestseller, IndieReader Approved, a Library Journal Self-e Selection, and a BookWorks featured book. It’s also available in paperback and audiobook on Amazon.  A prequel to that novel, Christmas at Blue Hydrangeas, is available  on Kindle and in paperback and audiobook. It was New Apple Literary’s Solo Medalist Winner in the 2019 Summer E-Book Awards for Short Story.

Marianne Sciucco is not a nurse who writes but a writer who happens to be a nurse. A lover of words and books, she dreamed of becoming an author when she grew up, but became a nurse to avoid poverty. she later brought her two passions together and writes about the intricate lives of people struggling with health and family issues. Her stories are considered “clean,” meaning free of overt sexuality, graphic violence, and offensive language.

Her Young Adult novel Swim Season is the fast-paced drama driven story of Olympic hopeful Aerin Keane, starting senior year in her third high school and trying NOT to win. But can she hide her natural talent and competitive streak? Especially with a 50,000-dollar scholarship on the line?  Swim Season was an Official Selection in the 2017 New Apple Book Awards: Young Adult General Fiction, and is a 5-star Readers’ Favorite and a BookWorks Featured Book of the Week. Available in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook on Amazon.

She’s also published three short stories in Kindle and audio: Ino’s Love, Collection, Daisy Hunter Story No. 1, and Birthday Party, Daisy Hunter Story No. 2.

Marianne’s writing and publishing career led her to become a founding member of AlzAuthors, the blog for authors writing about the dementias. Their goal is to raise awareness of these diseases and to spotlight carefully vetted books and blogs recommended for caregivers and others looking for knowledge and support. Each week they feature a new author/blogger.

A native Bostonian, she lives in New York’s Hudson Valley, and when not writing works as a campus nurse at a community college. Everything she knows about publishing she learned on her own by reading books and blogs, joining writers’ groups, and attending writers’ conferences. This led her to share her knowledge both online via her blog and Facebook and Twitter account, and she also teaches classes in self-publishing at three colleges.

She loves books, the beach, and craft beer, and especially enjoys the three of them together.

Discover more about Marianne here:

Website

https://mariannesciucco.com/

Amazon Author page

https://www.amazon.com/Marianne-Sciucco/e/B00CI65OWI?

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/marianne.sciucco.1

Linked In

Twitter

https://twitter.com/MarianneSciucco 

fiction, historical fiction, Novel, Uncategorized

New Year New Books Fete & Prize & Giveaway

N.N. Light’s Book Heaven New Year New Books Fete running throughout January.

Open internationally.

Runs January 1 – 31 2020.

Draw to be held on February 1, 2020.

Calling all readers! It’s a brand new year and I’m ringing in 2020 with N. N Light’s Book Heaven New Year New Books Fete. 39 books from multiple genres featured plus a chance to win one of the following:

Enter to win a $50 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card

Enter to win a $25 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card

Enter to win a $10 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card

I’m thrilled to be a part of this event. My book, Madame Fiocca, will be featured on 2 January 2020. I even talk about my resolutions/goals for the new year. You won’t want to miss it.

Bookmark this bookish get-together and tell your friends:

https://www.nnlightsbookheaven.com/bookpromos/categories/new-year-new-books-fete

Direct link to giveaway:

https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/92db775044

Good luck and happy reading!

fiction, historical fiction, Novel, Uncategorized

The Moments that Define Us

People often ask me when I began to write and why. Well, the answer is, it crept up on me. My first desire to write cropped up during my English lit degree with the Open University. For those of you familiar with the OU, one chooses which module they wish to study from a selection of courses relevant to the degree. I was in my third year, and at a crossroads. None of the options appealed to me, so I chose creative writing. Well, I thought I love to read, so why not? And that was that. With my love of history and a particular interest in WW2, I was hooked.

For me, it was a defining moment and I have not stopped writing since my degree years. It is fascinating how even the smallest of events define us, often altering our life’s path, encompassing great change. Perhaps we are drawn to the historical past because many events, situations remain current, and so people can identify with the past, and feel a certain connection.

Paris at night

My interests in military history range far and wide, but having come across an old biography written in the 1950s, about Nancy Wake, I was mesmerised. Later, I bought the memoir she wrote herself, published in the 1980s. While it was a captivating read, it mainly detailed her life in France on the eve of war and during. I learned about her time as a journalist in the 1930s, her first encounter with her future husband, Henri Fiocca, a wealthy industrialist, her courageous work as a courier with the Resistance, and finally, her life as an SOE agent.

All accounts talk of her war work, and I often read about this fierce Guerrilla fighter, a leader of seven thousand maquisards, who could drink any man under the table and still be sober enough to recall every detail. But instinctively I knew there was more to this fearless lady. Yes, she was strong-willed, she was angry, so ferociously angry with the Germans, and for a good reason. Mad enough to have the will to do something about their cruel ways.

Nancy was a lady who enjoyed the finer things in life, beautiful clothes, and dining. She was as far removed from the fighter she became when she first stepped onto French soil in 1933. Once I’d read all about her, a picture formed in my mind, but it was one mined with gaping holes, where secrets lay, buried, forgotten, and I had to uncover them to get to the heart of this amazing woman.

Nancy Wake was a frivolous, decent, young woman when she decided to study journalism in the early 1930s. She’d left her home in Sydney, unhappy with family life, embarked on a cruise, docked in England at the finale, and had to make a living. So, having completed a six-month course, armed with the basics in reporting and typing, she was fortunate enough to be offered a post in Paris, working with the Hearst News Group. In the beginning, life was idyllic.

She had suitors, dined out, and enjoyed the jet-setting lifestyle of a reporter, travelling the breadth of France, venturing across borders into Europe. It was her travels where she began to hear and see for herself, the ugliness metered out by the Nazi Party. Like so many at that time, she was intrigued by Adolf Hitler, but when she finally witnessed the brutal treatment of Jewish people by the SA in Vienna, she’d seen enough. It was a turning point in her young, gentile life. A defining moment. Hatred of the Nazis began to burn in her soul, one that would burn until her dying breath. What she witnessed in Vienna defined her in a heartbeat, and she would seize her chance when it sailed along, making a decision that would change her life forever.

The Nancy I went searching for, was a young girl in Sydney, having moved there with her family at the age of two. Originally born in New Zealand, her mother was descended from the French Huguenots and Maoris, her father from the British. Nancy had a tough upbringing, and her parents divorced when she was six years old. Sadly, her father sold the family home, effectively leaving his wife and children homeless. A new home elsewhere beckoned. Nancy was the youngest of all of her siblings, and so childhood was lonely at home. But when she went to school, she found friends and was a bit of a tomboy by all accounts.

It was this innocent child that drew me in because I began to picture a girl who had been shaped by hard family life, disappointment, rejection, an apparent lack of parental affection, and scarred by the absence of her father. As she once said, ‘I adored my dad, but he was a bastard.’ Nancy never saw her father again.

As people, we are so complex, and Nancy was no different. It seemed essential that I discovered every detail possible, to truly know the subject of my novel. Not all detail needed to be included in the book, it’s more about finding the person. After much digging and trawling genealogy sites, I’d gathered as much information as I was likely to find. Finally, I’d found Nancy. And she was quite different to the figure in those biographies.

Once we find what we are looking for, we must make sense of it, and things aren’t always as they seem. Nancy was often quoted as saying that she was never afraid. She was too busy to be scared, or her hatred of the Nazis flowed so deep that eclipsed all else. Well, you see, I believe Nancy was afraid, and, quite rightly so. I think what she genuinely realised was that fear would not be a barrier. She really was far too busy to dwell on it, and, like most people, simply got on with things. As a writer, we have an option to exercise some creative licence when writing about real people, while taking care to be as factually correct as reasonably possible.

As any writer of historical fiction knows, the research phase of writing can be exhausting, producing mountains of notes, many of which are never utilised – at least not in the written sense. But much of what is uncovered is used in other ways because the writer is now informed, and such insight informs their writing, characterisation, voice etc. It is the light bulb moment – a defining event. And it’s exciting, and satisfying when that finally happens.

Madame Fiocca is available to buy now from Amazon as an e-book. It is also available to read for FREE via KindleUnlimited – mybook.to/MadameFiocca

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Penny Dreadfuls – Only a Bit of Fun?

Today I welcome fellow author, Pam Lecky, who’s here to tell us about her latest novel, No stone Unturned, book one in a new crime series.

If you enjoyed a good old execution in the 18th or early 19th century, it was possible to buy a crime broadside at the hanging which was produced by specialist printers. These would feature a crude picture of the crime and the culprit, a written account of the crime and trial proceedings and a doggerel, thrown in for good measure. Most of the poor could not read but they enjoyed the lurid pictures, and there was always someone on hand to read out the cautionary poem.

Varney_the_Vampire_or_the_Feast_of_Blood 1845

During the Victorian era, however, literacy rates increased. Combined with technological advances in printing and the advent of the railways making wide-spread distribution viable, the demand for cheap, entertaining reading matter increased rapidly. This led to the first penny serials (originally called penny bloods) being published in the 1830s, and by 1850, there were over 100 publishers of penny-fiction. The penny dreadfuls were printed on cheap wood pulp paper and were predominantly aimed at young working-class men and boys. They usually had eight pages with black and white illustrations on the top half of the front page. Working-class readers could afford these and they did a roaring trade. In contrast, serialised novels at the time, such as Dickens’ work, cost a shilling (12 pennies) per part and were out of the reach, therefore, of most working-class readers.

The subject matter of the penny horrible, penny awful or penny blood was always sensational, usually featuring detectives, criminals or supernatural entitles. Popular characters included Sweeney Todd – The Demon Barber, first printed in 1846, who murdered his clients so his neighbour, Mrs Lovett, could cook them in her meat pies. Then there was the endless retelling of Dick Turpin’s exploits and his supposed 200-mile ride from London to York in one night! Supernatural characters, such as Varney the Vampire were extremely popular. But the most successful of all time was the Mysteries of London, first published in 1844. It ran for 12 years, 624 numbers (or issues) and nearly 4.5 million words.

Many famous authors began their writing careers writing penny dreadfuls including, GA Sala and Mary Elizabeth Braddon. She reputedly said “the amount of crime, treachery, murder and slow poisoning, and general infamy required by my readers is something terrible.” Many authors took the melodrama of the dreadful and infused it into their later very successful novels.

When highwaymen and evil aristocrats fell out of fashion, true crime, especially murder, was the most popular. These were then overtaken in the popularity stakes by detective stories with the focus on the police rather than the criminal. By the 1860s, the focus changed again and children became the main target audience.

It was easy for the middle and upper classes to look down on the penny dreadfuls as cheap, sensational nonsense. Some even went so far as to blame them for infamous crimes and suicide. But I suspect many read them surreptitiously ˗ for who doesn’t enjoy a good yarn now and then?

In No Stone Unturned, Lucy’s maid, Mary, is a huge fan of the penny dreadfuls and cheap sensational novels. Lucy, feeling obliged to look out for her maid’s moral welfare (so she claims!), often reads these books and thoroughly enjoys them, too. When the women’s lives are in danger, Mary comes to the fore with her penchant for intrigue and spying. Lucy suspects Mary’s favourite reading material may be at the root of it.

***

No Stone Unturned is the first book in the Lucy Lawrence Mystery Series.

A suspicious death, stolen gems and an unclaimed reward: who will be the victor in a deadly game of cat and mouse?

London October 1886: Trapped in a troubled marriage, Lucy Lawrence is ripe for an adventure. But when she meets the enigmatic Phineas Stone, over the body of her husband in the mortuary, her world begins to fall apart.

When her late husband’s secrets spill from the grave and her life is threatened by the leader of London’s most notorious gang, Lucy must find the strength to rise to the challenge. But who can she trust and how is she to stay out of the murderous clutches of London’s most dangerous criminal?

No Stone Unturned is currently on pre-order at the special price of 99p/99c

Amazon Pre-Order Buy Link

About Pam

Pam is an Irish writer of historical fiction with a particular love of the late Victorian era and early 20th century. Her debut novel, The Bowes Inheritance, was awarded the B.R.A.G. Medallion; was shortlisted for the Carousel Aware Prize 2016; made ‘Editor’s Choice’ by the Historical Novel Society; long-listed for the Historical Novel Society 2016 Indie Award; and chosen as a Discovered Diamond in February 2017.

Pam is represented by Therese Coen at the Hardman & Swainson Literary Agency, London.

In April 2018, she published a collection of all her short stories, entitled Past Imperfect. With settings as diverse as WW1 era Dublin and a lonely haunted lighthouse, romance, mystery and the supernatural await you.

June 2019, sees the release of No Stone Unturned, the first book in the Lucy Lawrence Mystery series, set in the late Victorian era. Pam is looking forward to sharing Lucy’s many adventures with her readers.

Discover more about Pam and her writing by following the links below:

Amazon

Facebook

Twitter

www.pamlecky.com­­

Goodreads

Instagram

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Cover Reveal

Madame Fiocca

By Suzy Henderson

MadameFiocca_Standard

Marseille, September 1939. War is coming. Nancy Wake is a gregarious twenty-seven-year-old about to marry wealthy French industrialist, Henri Fiocca. When Henri is called to the Front to fight, Nancy, determined to help the war effort, travels to Paris to join the Red Cross as an ambulance driver. Every day she witnesses atrocities. When Paris falls, Nancy flees the German oppressors and returns home to Marseille.

France is a nation defeated; its people are in despair. As Nancy recalls the Germans who whipped Jews on the streets of Vienna a few years earlier, she vows to fight for what is right.

A chance encounter with a British officer draws Nancy into the heart of the Garrow escape network, despite Henri’s reservations. Armed with wealth and charm, she convinces Henri that the Germans will never suspect such a woman. But soon she finds herself caught up in a deadly game of espionage.

As the iron fist of the enemy tightens, neighbours denounce neighbours. No one can be trusted. When the enemy closes in, Nancy and Henri face an impossible choice. Has she done more harm than good?

Based on a true story of love and a gripping adventure, Madame Fiocca weaves an extraordinary tale of survival and redemption in wartime.

Release date coming soon. . .

MadameFiocca_Reveal

 

fiction, historical fiction, Uncategorized

Serenade To Lost Voices

My love of military history has led me to the most fascinating discoveries – of people and their stories. Of those, one, in particular, stands out from the crowd.

bert

Serenade To The Big Bird was written by 1st Lt. Bert Stiles, of the United States Air Force. Before this, Bert flew bomber missions as a co-pilot with the 91st Bomb Group and was based in Bassingbourn, England. After completing his tour of duty, he had the opportunity to return to his homeland but he had always wanted to fly fighters and so he requested to do so. He had 35 bomber missions under his belt. Incidentally, Bassingbourn was also home to one of the more famous B-17’s, The Memphis Belle.

bert-stiles-fighter

Prior to the war, Bert had enjoyed success with his short stories, selling them to various publications. Throughout his war service, he continued to write. His dream of becoming a fighter pilot was finally realised and he began flying missions late 1944.

Tragically, Bert lost his life at the grand age of twenty-four, when on the 26th November 1944 he became a victim of target fixation whilst chasing an FW-190 in his P-51.

 

This book was published posthumously by Bert’s mother in 1947 and is a collection of his journal entries from his war service. It details his service from the first time he becomes part of a crew right up until their last mission, thus following some of the air war over Europe. However, the way he wrote is so natural and relaxed and very reminiscent of Hemingway.

Bert details life outside of flying, the social side of the air force. He talks about losses, planes and men. He mentions the fact that he finds it difficult keeping the ship in tight formation. He describes flak so thick you could get out and walk on it. It’s rather a warts and all version but without being too gory.

I particularly love one sentence, where he’s just had a gruesome experience. He’s talking about a waist gunner who was killed on a mission. He didn’t know him but he says, “Maybe the guy was a quiet one who taught Sunday-school class, maybe a dreamer waiting for a princess to dance down a moonbeam out of the sky, maybe a drunk.” Such simple words yet powerful and emotive. Bert was poetic, imaginative and an emerging fantastic literary talent.

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Stiles is interred in the Ardennes American Cemetery, Neupre, Liege, Belgium. He was awarded the Air Medal (with five oak leaf clusters), the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Purple Heart. His book, Serenade To The Big Bird, is considered a classic among aviation enthusiasts.

So, if you’ve ever wondered what it was really like for those boys, go grab a copy because I’m telling you, it’s fascinating. R.I.P. Bert Stiles. I salute you.

 

 

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New Release: War Girl Anna

Today please welcome fantastic author Marion Kummerow whose latest novel, War Girl Anna (War Girls Book 3) is now available to buy (released on November 28th, 2017).

Anna-small

Blurb

Does the Greater Good justify all Sacrifices?

Nurse Anna knows from her own experience that war is an ugly affair.

Working in a Nazi concentration camp, she faces evil every day.

At night, she’s forced to service an SS doctor in other ways.

But just when her fate turns and she leaves the horrors behind, she finds out that human cruelty knows no limit.

Finally pursuing her dream career as biologist, she discovers a ghastly secret the Nazis are hiding from the world.

Looking away won’t appease her conscience.

Not when she’s the one supposed to do their ugly bidding.

Now she faces the hardest choice of all…

And the first chapter:


January 1944, Ravensbrück Germany

Anna buttoned up her blouse, her body aching and her soul weeping. She didn’t dare look at her tormenter – the man who’d viciously violated her, time and again. The sight of his smug expression made her itch to wring his neck with her cold, bare hands and watch his useless life slip from his body. Either that, or vomit all over him.

In her mind she called him T the devil. Every single unfortunate soul in the camp would agree with her verdict that he was the devil incarnate. Doctor Tretter, head physician at the Ravensbrück women’s concentration camp, liked to inflict pain and horror. And he did it with a smile.

Sobs threatened to bubble up, but she swallowed them down. Like she always did when the sheer horror of what her life had become threatened to overwhelm her. She’d struck a bargain with the devil.

And she’d gotten the short end of it. But then again, it really wasn’t a deal at all.

Her body at his beck and call in exchange for her sister’s life.

She summoned the gaunt face of her beloved baby sister Lotte and her emaciated body, skin stretched over protruding bones, and suppressed a sigh. It had been the right thing to do. Lotte wouldn’t have survived the horrors of being a concentration camp inmate much longer. No matter how horrid Anna felt right now, she knew she would make the same bargain again if it meant saving her sister.

Anna would find a way to rescue herself from the clutches of T. One day.

“Nurse Anna,” Doctor Tretter’s nasal voice sent a shiver down her spine. He was finished, wasn’t he?

“Yes, Doctor Tretter?” she said with a weary voice, turning around to face him, because she knew he disliked her not looking into his eyes when he gave her a command. She held his gaze and blanked her obvious hatred for him from her eyes.

His lips curled up. “You look beautiful, Nurse Anna.”

“Thank you,” she managed to say with a subdued voice, casting her eyes downward as if the compliment delighted her.

“You will be the perfect escort for my evening event this coming weekend.” A viselike grip squeezed her heart tight. So far, he’d been adamant in hiding their relationship. Keeping the sordid details of his regular rape of one of his nurses sealed under lock and key. Anna’s cheeks flamed hot at the thought of everyone believing that she actually liked this monster, that her constant capitulation to the head physician of Ravensbrück happened by choice.

“With your perfectly straight blond hair, flawless light complexion, and…” Doctor Tretter took a step towards her and put a finger beneath her chin, which caused her eyes to flutter closed in disgust. “Haven’t I told you to look at me when I talk to you?” His other hand landed on her cheek with a stinging slap.

“Of course you have. I’m sorry, Doctor Tretter. It won’t happen again.”

“Good. Because as I said, you will be my escort for the soirée at Professor Scherer’s house. Do your best to look pleasing and make sure I am not disappointed in your behavior.”

All blood rushed from Anna’s face. Professor Scherer was one of the most renowned scientists in the Reich, a man even Hitler consulted. The head of the medicine and human genetics studies carried out at the prestigious University Clinic Charité in Berlin.  His one-of-a-kind human biology work catapulted his research light-years ahead of everyone else’s. She’d followed his work since the moment she had decided to become a biologist one day.  Under any other circumstances she would have given her right arm to meet him, but with T the devil by her side?

She shivered.

“You said…you said you didn’t want anyone to know about our…arrangement.” Anna’s voice stumbled.

He looked at her and then smirked. “And nobody will find out. I have a reputation to protect.” His beady eyes roved her body from head to toe as if she were a pesky insect he wanted to stomp on. “What they will see is a grateful nurse who loves spending time with the doctor she so admires for the greatness of his work.”

“You expect me…” Anna felt the bile crawl back up and she took some shallow breaths, hoping he wouldn’t notice her rising panic. “…to tell everyone how much I admire your work?” Work that comprised torturing innocent prisoners with sadistic medical experiments.

“Exactly. I am applying for a professorship at the Charité, and Professor Scherer’s esteem of my person and my scientific research is of the utmost importance. You will gush about my work or face the consequences,” he said with a cruel smile.

Anna knew the consequences all too well. Execution. Or worse, becoming a prisoner in the camp where she worked as nurse. Every day she saw with her own eyes what that fate entailed.

“I will not disappoint you,” she said and turned to leave.

“Wait,” came his sharp voice the moment she put her hand on the door handle. She obediently turned and stared into his grayish-blue eyes. Eyes she longed to scratch out of his face. “Take this, and buy a dress to impress. I don’t want to be seen with you in that dull nurse’s uniform.” He tossed a few clothing ration cards in her direction.

“Thank you,” Anna pressed through tightened lips and bent down to pick them up. She’d just stooped even lower, accepting payment for her services.

Anna clenched her hands into fists as she fled his apartment, running like crazy until she stumbled across the threshold to her own solitary room in the nurses’ dormitory.


Buy link:

Author bio:Marion-klein

Marion Kummerow was born and raised in Germany before she set out to “discover the world” and lived in various countries. In 1999 she returned to Germany and settled down in Munich where she’s now living with her family. 

After dipping her toes with non-fiction books, she finally tackled the project dear to her heart. UNRELENTING is the story about her grandparents, who belonged to the German resistance and fought against the Nazi regime. 

It’s a book about resilience, love and the courage to stand up and do the right thing.
To discover more about Marion and her books visit her blog at kummerow.info or her facebook page at facebook.com/autorinkummerow


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fiction, historical fiction, Novel, Uncategorized

New Release: The Betrayal by Award-Winning Author, Anne Allen.

3D Cover x 6.small

Today I’m so pleased to welcome historical fiction author, Anne Allen, whose latest book, The Betrayal, will be released tomorrow, October 20th.

Hello Anne and welcome! Congratulations on the new release! This is a very exciting time for you as you’re launching the sixth book in The Guernsey Novels series and I’m sure you have a number of fans eagerly awaiting the release. 

There’s such a lot involved when you’re an Indie author. Can you tell me how you’ve found the publishing process so far?

Let’s say it’s not been easy! When I wrote my first novel 11 years ago, I naively thought I’d find an agent and they would, in turn, magic up a grateful publisher. Some years on and I realised this was not going to happen, in spite of some encouraging words from an agent or two. Fortunately, this coincided with the advent of self-publishing, and I took the plunge and used a service publisher, Matador, to launch ‘Dangerous Waters’ onto the unsuspecting, and probably not very interested, world. Since then I’ve established my own imprint and published another 5 titles. The advantage of going Indie is that I have more control and all of the royalties; the disadvantage is that I have all of the work, and the buck stops with me. But, I carry on, as I enjoy the writing process and there’s nothing quite like seeing the fruit of one’s hard work sitting on shelves in bookstores or lined up virtually on an Amazon page. ☺

I understand completely and I have to agree with you – and it’s definitely a lot of hard work but so rewarding as you say. What inspired you to write this story?

My latest in The Guernsey Novels series is ‘The Betrayal’ and is dual-time, split between the German Occupation of Guernsey in WWII and the present day. Two separate historical facts inspired the story: Renoir’s visit to Guernsey in 1833 when he painted numerous views of Moulin Huet Bay and the forceful deportation of Jews on Guernsey to concentration camps by the Germans.

That’s so fascinating – I love how the art concept captured your imagination and how you weaved it so seamlessly into the story.

Can you tell us a little about The Guernsey Novels?

All the stories take place predominantly on Guernsey and are linked by characters popping up from one book to another. I see them as together offering the ongoing story of a ‘village’ spread, so far, over 6 years. Each book is standalone with fresh new lead characters with their own links to the Occupation years having an impact on the present. A mix of mystery, family drama and love story and influenced by my love of the island where I spent many happy years. Guernsey itself is always a main character in the books, offering a gorgeous backdrop to all the sorrows, joys and tragedies I describe.

Place is such a vital element in a story, evoking mood, tone and memories for instance and it certainly shows that you know this place very well.

Are you a full-time author?

Only in that I don’t have another job! I was a psychotherapist for many years and started writing when I moved back to England and had few clients. For the past 4 years, I’ve decided writing is much more fun than listening to people’s problems every day ☺

Well it sounds as if you had a fascinating previous occupation and I’m sure that’s proved helpful in some ways to your writing.

How do you approach your writing and research? Do you plan strategically or do you wait to see where the muse takes you?

I have to have a plan, even if it’s a little hazy at the beginning. I always know the starting point and where I want to end up, or rather, where I want my characters to end up. My last two books have been dual time, which complicates the planning, but makes it more interesting. Most of my research is focused on the earlier time frame, WWII, as I’m pretty well up on modern Guernsey unless police procedure is involved and then I phone a policeman! I enjoy the research aspect but have been known to get carried away and forget I’m writing a novel which may only need a little background information. Shades of my days as a student studying history!

I empathise over the dual timeline and the difficulties of planning – something I’ve recently discovered for myself.

Have you ever been tempted to write in another genre?

As my books are cross-genre, I feel I’m dipping in and out of different genres anyway. I couldn’t write horror, fantasy or sci-fi, but perhaps one day I might be tempted to try psychological suspense or crime. Having said that, my books are littered with bodies…

What are you working on now?

‘Working’ is probably an overstatement as I’ve only started playing with the overall idea for book 7, ‘The Inheritance’. This will take me into new territory as part of the story will be set in late 19th Century Guernsey, the home of Victor Hugo for 15 years. He actually finished Les Miserables during that time, as well as publishing a number of other works. My character, Eugenie, is employed as his copyist and it’s her story I shall be telling. The other part of the dual time is set in the present and concerns a young woman, Tess, who inherits the house once owned by Eugenie, and goes on to discover family secrets.

That sounds amazing – looking forward to book 7 already.

What’s the hardest part about writing a series?

Not repeating myself! As the books are set in the same location of Guernsey, it’s difficult to find something fresh to say about the island in the present; not so hard when writing about the past. As characters pop in from book to book, I also have to remember what’s happening in their lives – partners, children etc. I really need to set up a spreadsheet!

I know – it’s only when I came to write novels that I discovered how unorganised I am! There’s so much to keep track of.

When you wrote the first book in this series, did you know it was to be a series from the beginning or was this something you realised after completing the book?

It took until the third book, ‘Guernsey Retreat’, to realise this was a ‘proper’ series, as opposed to books set in the same place. At that point I had new covers designed to form a brand, making all the titles instantly recognisable.

I love your brand – it’s something that’s vital, especially if you do write a series.

What part of the research process do you enjoy most?

Talking to people who have the specialised knowledge I can draw on. For example, with ‘The Betrayal’ I had long phone calls with a policeman and a funeral director. Makes for interesting conversations!

Can you tell us your latest news?

I was chuffed when ‘Echoes of Time’, book 5, won The Diamond Book Award 2017, a prize for Indie authors. It was also a finalist in the Readers Favorite Award an international award for all authors.

Congratulations on that news, Anne – that’s so wonderful for you. Thank you so much for chatting with us today. It’s been a pleasure and I wish you much success with your latest release. All best wishes to you.

New ReleaseAnne AllenThe Betrayal

Paperback & ebook available to buy from October 20th, 2017: Amazon

Blurb

Treachery and theft lead to death – and love

1940. Teresa Bichard and her baby are sent by her beloved husband, Leo, to England as the Germans draw closer to Guernsey. Days later they invade…
1942. Leo, of Jewish descent, is betrayed to the Germans and is sent to a concentration camp, never to return.
1945. Teresa returns to find Leo did not survive and the family’s valuable art collection, including a Renoir, is missing. Heartbroken, she returns to England.
2011. Nigel and his twin Fiona, buy a long-established antique shop in Guernsey and during a refit, find a hidden stash of paintings, including what appears to be a Renoir. Days later, Fiona finds Nigel dead, an apparent suicide. Refusing to accept the verdict, a distraught Fiona employs a detective to help her discover the truth…
Searching for the rightful owner of the painting brings Fiona close to someone who opens a chink in her broken heart. Can she answer some crucial questions before laying her brother’s ghost to rest?
Who betrayed Leo?
Who knew about the stolen Renoir?
And are they prepared to kill – again?

Reviews

I have now enjoyed all of Anne Allen’s novels, and I’m becoming a big fan. She is a very The Betrayal 3D Cover‘lively’ writer who seems to enjoy giving her readers a wonderful set of characters in a soft, almost velvety setting. Her books also offer a strong historical element, most often World War Two when the Germans invaded the island.
In the sixth novel in the set, Fiona and her twin brother, Nigel, discover hidden artwork in the walls of an antique shop. They attempt to discover whom it belonged to but, when Nigel ‘supposedly’ kills himself, Fiona attempts to discover the truth.

I must say that The Betrayal has a very different feel to it than the other novels in the set. The island is still lovingly described, the characters just as interesting and well developed, but the underlying mystery is so prominent in this story; in fact, in parts, it is almost a thriller. The pacing is faster right from the opening chapter with Teresa and Leo deciding whether to run from the invading Germans or not. And the ending is just as exciting. All in all, totally unputdownable!

To sum up, this is a wonderful novel, with tons of pace where pace is needed, and a setting so lovingly described, it is almost a character in the book. I am happy to recommend this story, in fact, all of them, to anybody who enjoys a well-plotted mystery populated with convincing and always credible characters.  A ‘Wishing Shelf’ Book Review.

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5-Star Review

Source: Advanced reader copy received from publisher.

Having read Anne’s last book, Echoes of Time, I couldn’t wait to read her latest, and I wasn’t disappointed. The novel alternates between WW2 and 2011 and is set on the beautiful island of Guernsey. The Betrayal features twins, Fiona and Nigel, who discover a Renoir within the walls of their antique shop in 2011. When Nigel is found dead, and suicide is suspected, Fiona refuses to believe that her brother would end his own life and she sets out to uncover the truth. Unravelling the mystery will carry her on a journey back to 1940, and to the dark days of the German Occupation and the deportation of Jews.

The story is well crafted with beautiful scenes of the island of Guernsey springing to life and all things WW2 perfectly portrayed. Historical facts are seamlessly interwoven into the story which is well paced with realistic, well-developed characters set within a fascinating plot with twists and turns. All in all, it’s an engrossing read and one that will sweep you away to war, mystery and romance. I can highly recommend it. ∼Review by Suzy Henderson

About Anne

Anne Allen lives in Devon, by her beloved sea. She has three children, and her daughter Iphoto for emailand two grandchildren live nearby.  Her restless spirit has meant a number of moves which included Spain for a couple of years. The longest stay was in Guernsey for nearly fourteen years after falling in love with the island and the people. She contrived to leave one son behind to ensure a valid reason for frequent returns.

By profession, Anne was a psychotherapist, but long had the itch to write. Now a full-time writer, she has written The Guernsey Novels, five having been published and the sixth, The Betrayal, is due out in October 2017.

For all the latest book and writing news, be sure to follow Anne here:

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Universal Buy Link: Amazon

 

 

 

fiction, Novel, Uncategorized

New Release: The Du Lac Princess

Today I’m thrilled to announce The Du Lac Princess – a fantastic new release by award-winning author, Mary Anne Yarde, available to buy now. For fans of her series, The Du Lac Chronicles, this latest release is certain to be a hit with new and existing fans alike.

Mary Anne Yarde(1)

Blurb

War is coming…

The ink has dried on Amandine’s death warrant. Her crime? She is a du Lac.

All that stands in the way of a grisly death on a pyre is the King of Brittany. However, King Philippe is a fickle friend, and if her death is profitable to him, then she has no doubt that he would light the pyre himself.

Alan, the only man Amandine trusts, has a secret and must make an impossible choice, which could have far-reaching consequences — not only for Amandine, but for the whole of Briton.

Purchase Links:

 Amazon US

Amazon UK

Book Extract

“This isn’t a laughing matter,” there was censure in the monk’s words.

“If I don’t laugh then I am going to cry. I have been made to feel like a sinner even though I haven’t sinned, not really. I am a woman without hope and without any friends or family. I have lost everyone I ever loved, and now you tell me that life is going to be difficult. How much more difficult can it get?”

“The Pope has condemned you with Bell, Book and Candle,” Brother Daniel stated. “But that is not all. The Abbot made sure that the Pope was all too aware of your crimes. I am sorry, Amandine, but the Pope will never welcome you back into the Church.”

Amandine gasped, her laughter faded and any colour that was left on her face vanished. “What?” her voice was quiet, barely audible. “But I thought…all the penance. I thought… Tell me it isn’t true.”

“You are damned,” Brother Daniel confirmed. “No one will want you, neither man nor Church. You are completely at the mercy of Philippe. But rest assured, I believe he has every intention of protecting you. I will not lie to you, my dear, you will be shunned, even with the King’s support. The chances of you marrying again are very slim.”

“I wasn’t looking for a new husband,” Amandine said as she tried to make sense of Brother Daniel’s words.

“It also means that you will never be able to leave the protection of the castle. The protection of this room.”

Amandine scoffed with realisation. “I am to be Philippe’s prisoner? Why don’t you just say what you mean?”

“You are not his prisoner, think of it as being his special guest. This is for your own protection. Many would see you hang or worse. I have spoken to the King. Alan will be in charge of your safety from now on. Philippe thought you would find no fault in that, as you and Alan appear to be on good terms. Amandine, you must understand there are many who saw what you did the day Merton died. They saw how you were dressed in his clothes. They saw how you threw yourself at him. How you got down on your knees and begged the King for mercy on Merton’s behalf. They saw how Merton reacted when you were threatened. And those who didn’t will have listened when the Abbot condemned you. You are a fallen woman, a threat to their good Christian souls. Our main concern now is keeping you alive. You must never leave this room. Ever.”

“But I thought—”

“That you were doing penance? So you have said. Did you really think that the Abbot was going to pardon you of all your sins? Oh, Amandine, you are not stupid. He was never going to give you absolution.”

Amandine shook her head, and she began to wring her hands together in despair.

“You must be strong,” Brother Daniel reached across and stilled her hands with his. “And brave. Just like our Lord Jesus was in those darkest of days. Remember, he too was condemned for a crime he did not commit.” He smiled at her and squeezed her hands. “I must leave you now. I shall make sure some food is brought up, but it will be tested before you eat it, so do not fear about being poisoned.”

“Poisoned?” Amandine gasped, she had not even thought of that.

“You need to rest and regain your strength.” Brother Daniel rose to his feet and smiled down at her. “I will be back tomorrow to listen to your confession.”

“If I am damned, then what need do I have to confess?” Amandine asked, staring defiantly back at the monk. “Besides,” she looked away, “I consort with demons. I am evil. I am a sinner. My soul will burn in Hell. I will be damned forever—”

“Ask for mercy, and you will receive it,” Brother Daniel stated, interrupting her.

“I have,” Amandine challenged back, “and look where that has got me.”

 Red Stilleto Strategy by Hunter S. Jones(5)

Author Bio

Mary Anne Yarde is the Award-Winning author of the International Best Selling Series — Mary Anne Yarde Head ShotThe Du Lac Chronicles. Set a generation after the fall of King Arthur, The Du Lac Chronicles takes you on a journey through Dark Age Briton and Brittany, where you will meet new friends and terrifying foes. Based on legends and historical fact, The Du Lac Chronicles is a series not to be missed.

Born in Bath, England, Mary Anne Yarde grew up in the southwest of England, surrounded and influenced by centuries of history and mythology. Glastonbury–the fabled Isle of Avalon–was a mere fifteen-minute drive from her home, and tales of King Arthur and his knights were part of her childhood.

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New Release & Guest Post by Author Jennifer Young

In the aftermath of a violent G8 summit when she almost lost her life, Bronte O_Hara finds herself fighting against her feelings for Marcus Fleming, the policeman who saved her. When M

 

Today I’m honoured to host my friend and fellow author, Jennifer Young. Her latest novel, After Eden, (book 2 in the Dangerous Friends Series) is released today and she has generously agreed to tell us a little about writing a series, something I’ve never done. Welcome, Jennifer. Congratulations on the latest release. Over to you:

I never set out to write a series.

When I plotted, researched and eventually wrote Blank Space, the first in my Dangerous Friends series, I thought I was writing a stand-alone romantic suspense novel. Bronte and Marcus, my hero and heroine, had serious and almost unresolvable issues, but when I got to the end of the plotting stage, the two of them went off into the sunset for their requisite Happy Ever After.

(That isn’t a spoiler, by the way. The book’s a romance. Of course, they were going to get together…it’s in the rules of the genre.)

The problem is that when I got to the end and read it back…well, it was grim reading. Sure, they were in love, but sometimes love isn’t enough. The difficulties which kept them apart at the beginning were so great — traumatic for Bronte, guilt-inducing for Marcus — that they couldn’t be resolved in that final chapter.

I tried. Believe me, I tried, because it’s romance, and those are the rules. But I couldn’t do it. Bronte was well within her rights to stare back at me from the page and refuse to go gently into the arms of someone who’d treated her the way Marcus did. I wouldn’t have done, knowing that he, though with the best of intentions, had an association with her ex-boyfriend, Eden, that caused her a whole shedload lot of problems. She had a lot to forgive and it couldn’t happen overnight, no matter how attracted the two of them are to one another. Any reader would have known it was contrived; it would have rung horribly false.

In the end, I left Bronte and Marcus with hope, and so far at least no-one seems to have found the ending unsatisfactory, but their story was far from over. So, in order to tie up their relationship, there had to be a second book — the story of what happened after Eden. And at the end of that, I knew there had to be a third — a further progression in their relationship, a further adventure in which they find themselves.

For a happy ending, the things that draw the protagonists together must be stronger than the things that keep them apart — but there are a lot of things, in these two and out of themselves, that conspire against them. Theirs will be a long fight.

“After Eden,” muses Bronte, early in the second book, “how could it be the same between Marcus and me?”

How, indeed?

 

About the Author:

Author bio compressedJennifer Young is an Edinburgh-based author of contemporary romance and romantic suspense novels. After Eden is the second in her Dangerous Friends series of romantic novels set in Scotland’s capital city.

Books three and four are coming soon.

After Eden is available on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited

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Interview with Author Samantha Wilcoxson

'God save the Queen! God save our good Queen Mary!'When these words rang out over England, Mary Tudor thought her troubles were over. She could put her painful past - the loss of her mot

Today it’s a pleasure to have historical fiction author, Samantha Wilcoxson with us to chat about her writing life. Her latest novel, Queen Of Martyrs was released on April 12th, 2017, and is the third book in the Plantagenet Embers series. Welcome, Samantha.

How have you found the publishing process so far?

Now that I’ve been through the process a few times, I enjoy taking responsibility for my work from start to finish. Self-publishing offers many challenges in editing, formatting, and design, but it also offers incredible creative freedom. I used to spend days getting things to look just right, but once I came up with a system of formatting from the moment I begin a new project it became much simpler. The independent writing community is extremely supportive, and I have received help and encouragement from more people than I can say.

What inspired you to write this story?

A friend recommended that I write about Queen Mary upon completing Faithful Traitor. I was already gearing up to travel back to the beginning of the Plantagenet dynasty when he pointed out that I had left readers wanting to know more about what happened to that little girl whom Margaret Pole had loved as if she were her own. At first, I dismissed the idea, not having much interest in carrying on into the Tudor dynasty and certain that Mary’s story must have already been told. What I found when I began looking for historical fiction sympathetic to Mary’s point of view was that I was wrong. I quickly became passionate about filling that void.

Can you tell us a little about your novels?

What has become the Plantagenet Embers trilogy, began with a desire to write about one woman, Elizabeth of York. Hers was a story that had gone largely untold despite her proximity to kings, tragedy, and mystery. When she was mentioned, it was often as an inactive bystander to events. I wanted to look at the tumultuous events of the end of the Wars of the Roses and the beginning of the Tudor dynasty more deeply from her personal point of view. By the time I had completed Plantagenet Princess, Tudor Queen, I knew that I had to carry on with the story of Margaret Pole, a woman overlooked to an even greater extent than her royal cousin. Before I knew it, I was looking at a trilogy of the York remnant rather than a stand-alone novel.

Each of these novels is told from a close third person point of view. Therefore, the reader sees history play out as it would have been seen by the protagonist. I do not jump to a battle scene but wait with Elizabeth as she prays for her husband’s safe return. Margaret is left to wonder what is going on at court and get her news where she can, so the focus of her story is not on Henry VIII’s scandals outside of where they personally impact Margaret. Mary’s story is told the same way, though, in her case, she does become the reigning monarch. Each woman’s personality colors the way they interpret and react to well-known historical events.

Are you a full-time author?

I would have to say sort of. I do not have a job outside of writing, but I do have three children. My working hours are generally limited to when I do not have any of them home or housework to do, but that is another great benefit of a writing career. It easily fits within and around the other demands upon my time. I look forward to truly writing full time in a few years when they are all off to college.

How do you approach your writing and research? Do you plan strategically or do you wait to see where the muse takes you?

As I suspect is true with most authors, I do a little bit of both. I begin with researching the person that I have chosen to write about. Because I live in the US and write about England, that generally means ordering lots of books rather than research trips, though I was blessed enough to take a trip to the UK in 2015. I begin with a detailed timeline of my protagonist’s life, including both personal events, such as marriages and childbirths, and the broader historical events going on around them. Based on these facts, I begin to create personalities and motivations that make sense to me, evolving that timeline into a personal story. In each book, characters have blossomed into more than I thought they might be when I began. Cecily of York is an example of that from my first book. I did not plan to make her a major character or to give her such a spunky personality, but she has ended up a readers’ favorite. The same thing happened when I was able to bring Catherine Gordon, the wife of Perkin Warbeck, into Margaret’s story. I hadn’t previously realized how much their stories intertwined. It is fascinating to see where that stark list of facts can take my characters.

Have you ever been tempted to write in another genre?

I started out writing another genre because I was intimidated by my beloved historical fiction. My first published work is middle-grade inspirational fiction titled No Such Thing as Perfect. I also published a middle-grade historical fiction novel, Over the Deep, before convincing myself that I needed to explore my true passion. I’m so glad I did! There is no place I would rather be lost than in historic England.

Though I do not ever see myself stepping away from writing about history, I am also taking the plunge into nonfiction with a group project coming out this summer from Pen & Sword Books. The British Stripped Bare will be a look at romance throughout the history of Britain, and I am privileged to work on it with a group of wonderful writers. My personal contribution will be a look at the barriers to making a marriage in Tudor England and a few scandalous couples who snuck around them.

What part of the research process is the most enjoyable?

It is a joy to see historical figures come to life centuries after they are gone, even if it is only in my imagination. I love finding little tidbits of information in biographies that make great story elements, such as the fact that Margaret Pole and Catherine Gordon served Princess Mary together or Elizabeth of York’s odd final progress while she was ill and pregnant. A great biography can be just as compelling as historical fiction, and I appreciate the glimpse into the way people thought and lived differently. I especially enjoy exploring the way faith was such an important facet of their lives. This especially comes out in Mary’s story, of course, with her attempt at counter-reformation, but each of these women made many of their important life decisions based on teachings of the church. It is such an entirely different worldview than we hold today, and I find it captivating.

Favourite author?

Like any incurable bibliophile, I have many, but I am also devoted to trying new authors. Sharon Kay Penman is probably the greatest inspiration for my writing. My style is my own, but her dedication to extensive research and giving life to those long dead is a philosophy I have attempted to emulate. I also adore the writing of CJ Sansom. His Matthew Shardlake has to be my most beloved fictional character. When he is hurt or disappointed, my heart aches. Toni Mount’s new Seb Foxley series greatly reminds me of Shardlake, so I have a growing attachment to her books as well.

Of course, every writer also has their favorite classic authors. Mine is Charlotte Bronte. Villette is a book that spoke directly to my soul, and I love the eloquent use of descriptive language in each of the Brontes’ novels. They have a way of writing about matters of the heart that make the reader say, ‘Yes! That’s just how it feels!’ Edith Wharton is another favorite. I love the slow build and inevitable heartbreak.

Favourite quote?

That’s a tough one! I would have to say Hebrews 10:24. ‘Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.’

Favourite movie?

I’m not much of a movie fan, though I have a soft spot for Star Wars. I prefer period dramas, such as Downton Abbey, The Borgias, Victoria, John Adams, North and South, The Crown, and even the questionably accurate The Tudors.

*****

Bio91g5WEFpLjL._UX250_

Samantha Wilcoxson is an American writer and history enthusiast. She has written three novels and works as a freelance writer. Living with her husband on a small lake in Michigan with three kids, two cats, and two dogs, Samantha has plenty of writing inspiration.

‘Plantagenet Princess, Tudor Queen’ has been named an Editors’ Choice by the Historical Novel Society. This most recent of Wilcoxson’s novels has been long-listed for the 2016 HNS Indie Award.

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Waltzing to the Tune of the Past: A Guest Post by Author Pam Lecky

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This week I have the pleasure of author Pam Lecky, who has written a beautiful piece about the story and the inspiration behind her latest release, In Three-Quarter Time, a historical WW1 romance.

If you have ever spent time digging around in your family history, you will know how addictive it can be. Like Sherlock Holmes, you start to chase down the tiniest clue you find. Unfortunately, Irish records are notoriously difficult to find back beyond 1880 or so. Our census records were destroyed by fire during the Irish Civil War and although we were technically still part of the British Isles at the time, no copies appear to have been kept in the UK. Every time I think about it I want to cry.

So it was a very lucky break when my only surviving uncle casually dropped a gem of information. My grandfather had first dated my great aunt. She died of TB while he was in America and on his return he hooked up with my grandmother. Unfortunately, that was all anyone knew about it but the writer in me just couldn’t let it be. Needless to say, I didn’t unearth any further details but constantly found myself thinking about how it might have been. My short story, In Three-Quarter Time, is the result. It is ninety-nine percent fiction of course, but I guess it gave me a sense of closure.

Here is a little extract to tempt you!

Dublin was wilting in an Indian summer. To the west, a bank of steel grey cloud hung low on the horizon and the air was heavy with the promise of a storm. Lily looked up at the raucous gulls wheeling above the Liffey and wrinkled her nose at the strong and disagreeable smell wafting up from the water. The quays were never a pleasant place to linger on a hot day but they were waiting at the tram stop for Anthony. They had arranged to accompany him to Kingsbridge Station where he would board the train for Queenstown and from there the boat to America.

It was a busy Saturday afternoon and the cobbles echoed to the sound of horse hooves and the rattle and hiss of trams. Josie paced up and down, her cheeks pinched and pale, her eyes scanning the sluggish stream of pedestrians going about their business.

“Could we have missed him?” Josie asked. She checked her watch again. “It’s already a quarter to.”

Lily changed position and wished she had worn more comfortable shoes. As she turned, she caught a glimpse of herself in the window of McBirney’s Department Store. Her reflection did nothing to improve her mood. Her hair clung in damp curls to the side of her face and the cream linen suit, which had seemed an excellent choice that morning, was looking limp and sadly wrinkled. She was no beauty, like Josie, but she prided herself on always looking her best. She straightened her hat, tucked a stray red curl behind her ear and turned back towards Josie.

“I imagine he has been delayed saying goodbye to his family,” she said, trying to hide her impatience.

Josie gave her an apologetic smile. “Of course, that would be it – his mother is too unwell to travel to the station to see him off.” She resumed her pacing. Lily wished Josie didn’t always wear her heart on her sleeve. A little dignity would not go amiss.

Author Bio

dsc_0145-2Pam Lecky is an Irish writer of historical fiction with a particular love of the late Victorian era/early 20th Century. She is a busy working mum with three children, a dog and two cats! Yes, life is hectic.

She has a particular fascination with all things 19th century, from food and clothes to architecture and social history.

Her debut novel, The Bowes Inheritance, was published in 2015 and was shortlisted for the Carousel Aware Prize 2016; made ‘Editor’s Choice’ by the Historical Novel Society; long-listed for the Historical Novel Society 2016 Indie Award; and chosen as a Discovered Diamond in February 2017.

She has just published a short story set in her native Dublin, In Three-Quarter Time. It is a love story set against the backdrop of WW1.

Find out more about Pam here:

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Spotlight on M.C.V. Egan & New Release Death of a Sculptor.

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It’s a pleasure to host you here today, M.C.V. Egan. Welcome. To get warmed up, can you please tell us about the premise of Death of a Sculptor.

Thank you very much for inviting me. Death of a Sculptor is a murder mystery in which the reader sees the story from a variety of points of view. It is divided into three parts; Bruce’s Loves, Bruce’s Children and Two Years Later.

The book begins with Bruce Jones; a world-renowned sculptor’s funeral. It explores the relationships of those who loved Bruce, with each other and with Bruce.

You started out originally as a historical novelist with your debut, The Bridge of Deaths. Since then, you’ve crossed genres, becoming recognised as a multi-genre author. How do you find switching between writing about the past and the present?

Aside from Sci-Fi or Fantasy where I would be obliged to create actual worlds, I would like to think that I am capable of writing in any subject I find interesting. The Bridge of Deaths does have a huge modern day angle, as I do like contemporary, but it revolves around the research of a 1939 plane crash.

I may someday try a full historical as I’ve spent so much time researching the 1930s and I am fascinated by the era.

What sort of research did you have to do for this book?

Death of a Sculptor is a suburban women’s fiction. It takes place in South Florida, which I have been calling home for almost 30 years. It did not involve much research other than a few poisons to decide how to murder Bruce and play on not being too obvious.

What inspired you to write the story?

I married young the first time. I was married for five years and divorced. Through friends of my youth, I knew that my first husband had married several/many times after our failed five-year marriage. I joked that he must have a marriage/love shelf life.

Out of the blue, a couple of years ago, he contacted me via e-mail. He actually found me through The Bridge of Deaths! He wrote me a long and complicated e-mail, one that beckoned a proper answer. My initial reaction was not a kind and positive one. That very day I attended a writer’s workshop led by Deborah Sharp ( http://deborahsharp.com/ ) as part of the workshop we were given a writing prompt; a funeral.

It was very cathartic to kill (on paper) my first husband and attend his funeral, and I imagined myself walking into a service where all his ex-wives were present. The piece I wrote for the workshop got a good response. They especially liked my phrase “The ex-wives’ pew” I thought it was going to be a short story but then I started giving all the ex-wives a personality…

Today my ex and I are very good cyber buddies and I wish him the very best. I never imagined when we divorced in 1986 that we would ever be friends.

As the story grew, it was no longer about Lars but to give it an interesting edge I decided to murder Bruce; Lars, by the way, was not a sculptor. I chose that because I wanted to give the character a huge tell in his infidelities; as far as I know my first husband was not unfaithful, and the spark that ignited the idea, was simply that, a spark.

Do you have a favourite scene?

I do. I particularly like the scene when Bruce’s ashes are cast to sea. I have had a bit of feedback on that one from readers.

Which authors do you feel have influenced you the most?

I feel all authors have influenced me. Some to realize my limitations, I cannot imagine creating a world as Sci-Fi or Fantasy authors do. Some authors to aspire to in storyline: I absolutely love W. Somerset Maugham and so many others whose work I deeply admire.

There are many Indie authors I have come to admire and learn so much from. I am very fortunate to live in Palm Beach County Florida, where I get to take workshops from a wide variety of fabulous authors.

Would you share an outline of a typical writing day for you.

I am unfortunately not that organized. I had very little opportunity to write last year and I am trying to get back on track. I have a wonderful writing coach, Prudy Taylor Board, and belong to a critique group where we meet twice a month. I do wish to find a good writing discipline and structure, but my life the last couple of years has been rather unstructured I am afraid.

If you could have dinner with any author(s), living or deceased, who would it be?

So hard to choose. There are so many. So I will dream the impossible and choose W. Somerset Maugham.

What are you working on next?

I am working on Novellas as based on each character from Death of a Sculptor. I am now working with a fabulous writing coach and have more than one project going.

Thank you so much for giving us such a wonderful insight into your writing and your books, Catalina. I wish you all the very best with the new release and continued success in the future.

 

EXCERPT from DEATH of a SCULPTOR

In Hue, Shape and color © M.C.V. EGAN

Mary: Wife No. 1

Thunder, lightning and rain, that was what we had at our wedding. However, on the day of his funeral, the Florida heat and humidity made my face shiny with perspiration. My hair looked like a dark Brillo pad. My children requested I attend the funeral of my first husband. Bruce Jones, the world-renowned sculptor.

The parking lot was already packed with an unexpected variety of cars. I then realized that it was not peak season. The South Florida snowbirds are attached to their cars and they migrate with them back and forth each year.

I noticed a police car and a uniformed man by the entrance. Even for Bruce a bit much; however, since 9/11 security has been tight everywhere.

The valet attendant opened my rental car door. “Welcome ma’am. Your daughter is waiting for you.”

“Thank you. Please make sure you keep the car in the shade. August Florida heat and sun are not my friends.”  I pulled a five-dollar bill from my purse to tip him, but he shook his head and mumbled, “No, thank you.”  After all It was Palm Beach. I probably should have pulled out a twenty.

I was surprised that the building looked like an actual church, at least from the outside. The church had a long name. It was Universal something or other; apparently, a place of worship with neither affiliation nor strictures. Bruce’s life had, after all, been too outré to pretend he followed any conventional religious norm.

“Thanks for coming, mom.” Clair’s voice shouldn’t have surprised me, but I stood still, focused on carefully dabbing my shiny nose. I clicked the compact shut, smiled and answered, “Anything for you and Aaron sweetheart.” She nodded as she guided me where to sit. It was toward the back of the church; the ex-wives’ pew.

“Please mom, don’t look at me that way. This funeral is a time for forgiveness and closure.”

Clair always found a way to get me to do whatever she wanted. The last thing I wanted was to be in the company of the women sitting there. I touched my frizzy hair, regretting my rejection of the keratin treatment.

Wife number two, Leslie, was the first to say hello. “Mary, you look lovely. It’s been years.”

“It has, thankfully,” I replied. The other two simply nodded, and I nodded back. Leslie, the one Bruce left me for, handed me a packet of tissues and winked. Forcing a smile, I took them. The idea that she assumed I planned to cry had not crossed my mind. I pulled the compact out of my purse again to check my makeup; it looked fine. Through the mirror I saw the reflection of the fifth and last Mrs. Bruce Jones, the widow. She was standing waiting for the ushers. I shook my head in disbelief. There next to Brooke was the coffin. The ushers waited with the coffin for the minister’s signal. It had images of Bruce’s artwork. Digital photography makes it possible to decorate anything in living color. Some of the images were blocked from my view by the ushers, but not mine. There I was paraded as a nude sketch. Each one of Bruce’s loves had a color and mine was pink. It was kitsch…even worse, it was downright tasteless.

Bruce had a type. We all had brown hair, and pretty faces with full lips and straight noses. The eye color varied as did our size and build. His type was limited to our physiognomy.   I clicked the compact shut, and the other ex-wives faced me, startled by the sound. I shrugged with a coy apologetic smile. Look at the five of us; he had a type.

Bruce’s love also had a shelf life. He took the seven-year-itch need to scratch very literally. Some marriages were shorter, because sometimes the divorces got complicated and his new loves always overlapped with the old. Public or private, his relationships always lasted seven years.

I was nineteen when I first walked into his classroom. He was tall and muscular. I felt a tingle at the base of my neck when I saw his back, as if somehow I already knew. When he turned to face me, I was gone and completely in love. I fell in love with Bruce and the sculpture next to him all at once.  I soon learned he made love in a way no other man did─not that I was very experienced then─Bruce traced every inch of my body with every part of his. At twenty-four, he already made a good living from his sculptures, but teaching remained his passion. As he grew older and wealthier, he taught short workshops in different parts of the world. His last one had been just a few months before his untimely death. He was after all, only sixty-two.

It was clear by the careful shape of his sculptures that he knew the shape of my legs, ankles, feet, and every other part of my body. His sculpture venues varied, his talent knew no boundaries. Bruce loved and sculpted as instinctively as the rest of us breathe. Whoever inherited the rights to his art would be wise to market his sketches as limited edition lithographs. Bruce liked to keep those private, but he always added color to the sketches in a way that made them works of art unto themselves. Bruce was as gifted with hue and color as he was with shapes. Those were the sketches that someone had the poor taste to use for the coffin. As the ushers moved around I heard the reactions of the other ex-wives, a blend of gasps and giggles. We recognized all the shapes and colors.

Focused on raising our children, I had not noticed when the sculptures started to change. That was when Leslie entered the picture. Bruce may not have planned to divorce me, or at least for years I tried to believe that, but then Leslie got pregnant.

Our marriage, his first as well, was the longest marriage, it lasted ten years. Three of those, Bruce had spent loving Leslie, but playing house with me. His marriage to Leslie was far shorter. I could tell by the sculptures he had loved her for seven years. We all met him through his art in one way or another. Wife number three, Petra, worked in an art gallery. Although not an artist she was very involved with his work. I derived great pleasure from the public scandal when he hurt Leslie that way, leaving her for a mere merchant. By then Bruce had a name, an art, and a face that was recognized everywhere. Leslie had ended my marriage, so curiosity as to who had ended hers interrupted my life for a time. Hers was the only one of Bruce’s love stories I followed carefully, aside from my own.

Aside from relishing in Leslie’s pain, his personal life did not pique my interest. I knew my children were always respected and old enough to voice concern if anyone mistreated them.  I could not remember if it was the third or fourth wife who was the only one of us who did not have children with Bruce.

Chopin’s somber Marche Funèbre snapped me back to the moment. The elaborate coffin encasing Bruce’s body had been placed on a movable catafalque. The catafalque with squeaky wheels carried Bruce’s body in a guided procession down the aisle. He was always a large man and had managed to become larger as he aged. His appetite for food and drink superseded all his other appetites.

Leslie whispered in my ear, “She doesn’t look sad.”

Glancing over at the person in question, I nodded in agreement. The widow could not be described as grieving. Grief is, of course, different in all of us. The body language of grief, though, is universal; the defeated, slumped shoulders, head bowed, tears flowing. Leslie was right. The widow was crying, but they almost looked like tears of relief.

A montage of Bruce’s works on a screen at the side of the altar shaped in a semicircle created the focal point. The aisle inclined and my pew toward the back provided a good vantage point. The incline was slight, but pronounced enough to give those of us in the back a full view. The ushers seemed to be holding back the coffin so it would not speed down the aisle. The wheels continued to squeak. Bruce would have hated this. The minister or priestess─I am not sure what title this universal church gave them,─had a very unpleasant voice and thus was difficult to listen to. No voice, even a pleasant one, could compete with Bruce’s art. For all the rotten things I would be happy to tell you about Bruce Jones, his art was not something anyone could criticize. Even the most prestigious critics raved about his talent and his work.

The slides were in chronological order. The memory and pain from the sting of betrayal flooded me as it had twenty-eight years earlier. I could see Leslie through the corner of my eye and the blush that betrayed her shame.

As wife number two, she had been party to betrayal because she too had been betrayed. I know Leslie grew to love my children very much. I guess she saw me as an extension of that love in some ways. I felt terrible. I had been so curt.

My hand reached to her shoulder in a gesture of solidarity and forgiveness when the images on the screen segued to show the shape of ex-wife number three. My heart ached for Leslie because we had similar builds, and many would not have been able to distinguish when Bruce transitioned from sculpting my body to sculpting hers.

Ex-wife number three, Petra─a very tall woman, with long slender limbs─had a body that blatantly displayed the transition from Leslie to her replacement. The unquestionable change in shape left no doubt Bruce’s affections had shifted again.  Leslie, pregnant with her second child at the time, lost the baby to grief, a loss I also knew well.

At that point, I did need the tissues Leslie had given me, but I was shedding tears for her, not for Bruce. I miscarried a child with my second husband. I understood her pain and sense of loss. Mine, too, was the last child, the child I never had.

Bruce never sculpted pregnant women. Consequently, wife number three, the one who had never been pregnant had seven years that boasted more sculptures than the rest of us. At the seven-year mark, Bruce’s transition into a new love story, a new model. Petra’s telltale sobs showed her grasp of Bruce’s tell. After all, loving Bruce was a gamble. The change of model in the sculpture showed his change of heart. Petra was from a foreign country, I never paid much attention where. My kids interacted with her, and she welcomed them with kindness. In tandem, Leslie and I passed her the tissues.

Petra took both tissues we offered and her lips moved in a quiet whisper; the words were obviously meant for Leslie, though I could discern they were, “I am sorry”

My daughter, Clair, had always lived up to the dual meanings of her name; clear and famous. Clair could see things with great clarity, and she could convey them as such. I could only assume that she knew the ex-wives belonged together, ‘for closure and forgiveness’ as she had said.

Clair’s modeling career had started in her teens at her insistence; she was not pushed nor did anyone suggest she should model. She knew she was very attractive, and she knew she could convey her beauty and charm to an audience, a photographer, a camera.

Her modeling spun into acting. She was as natural on a screen as on a stage. It came to her with ease, though she was happy to take classes and learn. My Aaron is also successful, but he is a behind-the-scenes sort of person. I took great pride in knowing that I had always been a good mother. I had known how to allow my children to forge their own paths.

Not everything in my life succeeded, but I was a success at being a mother. I recognized Bruce’s love shelf life because I had one of my own, with a trail of the remains of ended marriages or relationships. Mine perhaps more impressive than Bruce’s.

I guess Bruce might have been the love of my life. But now in my mid-fifties, I questioned whether a spouse or companion had any viable use?  I loved art, my passion, and although my work is not as popular or renowned as Bruce’s, I have achieved a certain level of success.

 

Buy Links:

Kindle – Amazon.com

Paperback – Amazon.com

Kindle – Amazon.co.uk

Paperback – Amazon.co.uk

 

About M.C.V. Egan13995651_1033535316742128_7375832216585181059_o

M.C.V. Egan is the pen name chosen by Maria Catalina Vergara Egan, the author of The Bridge of Deaths. Catalina was born in Mexico City, Mexico in 1959, the sixth of eight children, in a traditional Catholic family. From a very young age, she became obsessed with the story of her maternal Grandfather, Cesar Agustin Castillo, mostly the story of how he died. She only spent her childhood in Mexico. Her father became an employee of The World Bank in Washington D.C. From the early 1970s at the age of 12, she moved with her entire family to the United States.

Catalina was already fluent in Southern English as she had spent one school year in the town of Pineville, Louisiana with her grandparents. There she won the English award; ironically being the only one who had English as a second language in her class. In the D.C. suburbs, she attended various private Catholic schools and graduated from Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, Maryland in 1977.

She attended Montgomery Community College, where she changed majors every semester. She also studied in Lyons, France at the Catholic University for two years. In 1981, due to an impulsive young marriage to a Viking (The Swedish kind, not the football player kind)  Catalina moved to Sweden where she resided for five years and taught at a language school for Swedish, Danish, and Finnish business people. She returned to the USA where she has been living ever since. She is fluent in Spanish, English, French and Swedish.

Maria Catalina Vergara Egan is married and has one son, who together with their five-pound Chihuahua make her feel like a full-time mother.   Although she would not call herself an Astrologer she has taken many classes and taught a few beginner classes in Astrology. This is one of her many past times when she is not writing or researching.

 

Social Media Links:

thebridgeofdeaths.com

ishistorytheagreeduponlie.blogspot

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Facebook

Twitter

Google+

Goodreads

 

 

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New Release & Interview With Author Jennifer Young

Today I’m honoured to have my friend and fellow author Jennifer Young here to talk about writing and her latest release. 

Welcome, Jennifer. It’s a pleasure to have you here today and congratulations on the release of your latest novel, Blank Space

Can you tell us which book has influenced you the most? 

I’m not conscious of being particularly influenced by any one book, but if I have to choose one, it’ll be Miss Smilla’s Feeling For Snow, by Peter Hoeg. The writing is extraordinarily strong and, although it’s years since I read it, I still have several lines from it stuck in my head. And the ending haunts me.

What’s the most beautiful book you possess?

Oh, oh, oh! I don’t have beautiful books: they’re all read to pieces. So I’m going to go for one with some beautiful photographs in it: a travel guide to Iceland.

What was your favourite book as a child?

I loved The Lord of the Rings, which is strange because I’m not at all a fan of fantasy novels. My mother read it to my sister and myself when we were too young to read it for ourselves, and I think the storytelling is very strong and the writing vivid. I’m also fascinated by the many influences in the book, particularly from the Norse sagas.

Can you describe your writing process?

I don’t really have a process, as such: it depends what I’m doing. Broadly speaking I do my chores in the morning and think about writing while I’m doing them, then try and make space to write for a few hours in the afternoon. In reality, there are periods when I don’t write at all, and if I’m feeling inspired I can sit down and write all day. It depends what’s in my head at the time.

What advice can you give to writers at the beginning of their journey?

It is a journey (though one that never ends), and you’ll make progress, though sometimes it’ll feel slow. Surround yourself with other writers, who make wonderful fellow travellers. And enjoy every step of the way.

What is the most moving book you have ever read?

I’m going to go back to Miss Smilla’s Feeling For Snow, for exactly the reason as I gave above. The ending will never leave me, and every time I’m walking on snow I find myself thinking of it.

If you could have dinner with any writer(s), living or dead, who would you choose and why?

I’d love to meet Beatrix Potter, especially if she could host me in Hill Top (her home in the Lake District). I love the Lakes just as she did. I sense that she inhabited her fictional world almost as she did the real one, and I’d love to talk to her about that. And her books show that she had a fine, gentle sense of fun.

Are you self-published or traditionally published?

I’m what I believe these days is known as a hybrid author. I’m traditionally published by Tirgearr, a small independent (principally ebook) publisher, but I’m branching out into self-publishing with my latest book, Blank Space. It isn’t that I’m unhappy having a publisher — far from it. I just wanted to see if I could do the whole thing myself.

Which genre do you write?

I write romance, mainly contemporary and romantic suspense, though I have trespassed into women’s fiction and I’d like to try pure suspense, or even change genre completely and move to literary fiction. I go where my mind takes me — and it can take me anywhere. I’m a bit of a jack of all trades, which probably isn’t a good thing!

Please tell us about your latest published work.

Blank Space is the first in a series of romantic suspense books set in Edinburgh, featuring the radically-minded Bronte O’Hara and undercover policeman Marcus Fleming. In Blank Space, they meet when she discovers him unconscious in her kitchen, and as the series goes in their relationships develop. Their backgrounds and politics divide them and yet they continue to be drawn together with each new adventure.

Blurb:

When Bronte O’Hara finds an injured man in her kitchen in the run-up to an international political summit in Edinburgh, a world she thought she’d left behind catches up with her. When the man makes his escape, the police seem less interested in finding out where he went and how he came to be there than they are in Bronte’s past – more specifically, her ex-boyfriend, Eden Mayhew. Eden’s an anarchist, up to his neck in any trouble around — and he’s missing. The police are keen to find him, certain that he’ll come back. Who can she trust – and what has Eden’s disappearance got to do with the handsome stranger?

 

Excerpt:

My first thought, when I discovered the body on my kitchen floor, was that it was a criminal waste of an exceptionally handsome man. My second was that I’d seen him somewhere before. And even as I crossed myself, I realised. He wasn’t dead.

I dropped my bag, sending the ingredients for the evening’s supper spilling out across the floor, and fell to my knees beside him. He lay on his back, one arm thrown theatrically wide, the other clasped across the patch of scarlet which flooded his shirt. As I watched, the deep stain broadened, livid red seeping outwards from between his fingers. His thick, dark hair was glossy with blood from a separate wound to the back of his head. You didn’t need to be a doctor to see where that came from; the trickle of red on the edge of the kitchen unit gave it away. My mind raced. He’d fallen. How? Why? And what would happen next?

I must call an ambulance. Then the police. But first, I must be sure he was alive. Curiously unable to help myself, I reached out a tentative hand and touched his cheek, the almost-bloodless skin shadowed with stubble. It was warm. Under my touch, he responded, mumbled something, and opened his eyes.

To think that a near-dead face could contain eyes of such live, vigorous blue. Breathless in my alarm, I froze, my fingers still touching his cheek as we stared for a moment, each measuring the other up, each trying to make something rational from this suburban nightmare. Was he friend? Was he foe? Had I saved him or condemned him?

He decided first, in my favour. He smiled.

He didn’t fear me. That was enough to reassure me, tip my panic into irritation.

‘What the hell are you doing in my kitchen?’ I demanded, my voice breaking into the near-silence of the midsummer evening.

A breeze crept in through the open door from the back green. Next door’s cat, an incorrigibly curious tabby, poked a questioning whisker round the glass door, smelt blood, and bolted.

He tried to sit up, struggled, gave up. ‘Give me your phone,’ he said, in a voice that was stronger than it had any right to be under the circumstances. ‘I’ll call the police.’

I reached for my bag, keeping my eyes on his face as if it was possible that this pale and debilitated stranger could harm me. Though if he’d been well and strong, then yes, he could have done. If he’d wanted. ‘I’ll call them now.’

I’ll call,’ he contradicted me, a trace of impatience on his voice. ‘Don’t you have a first aid kit? Get a cloth or something. Stop the bleeding.’

I’d have argued but common sense prevailed, so I handed him my phone, stood up to fetch a clean tea towel, and dampened it under the tap. By the time I turned back, he’d manoeuvred himself into a sitting position; the grimace etched on his face showed it hadn’t been easy. He groped about on the floor, as if to see what had hurt him.

‘What happened?’ I dropped to my knees again, folding the damp tea towel between my fingers. Strange how calm you can be under pressure, but I’ve never been one to panic.

A shadow passed across those eyes, a frown across the face. ‘I don’t know.’

‘And what are you doing in my flat?’ Lifting his bloodstained shirt, I looked with care at the wound that scarred his well-muscled torso, and found that it was deep but clean. ‘I think you’ll live, but this might hurt.’

‘I can bear it,’ he muttered, but he winced as I sponged the blood away, pressing the damp cloth against his side

‘Answer my question.’ I took advantage of his pain to challenge him. ‘Who are you?’

‘Never mind.’ There was an edge to his voice, one that hadn’t been there before; the terse tone of a man who’d assessed his situation and found it more precarious than he’d first thought. He closed his left hand over my right one, a steel grip on my wrist. ‘All right, Florence Nightingale. That’s enough first aid. Where’s your car?’

‘It’s outside.’ Making the mistake of lifting my eyes from the wound, I understood then that he hadn’t called the police, or even intended to, and that he’d been reaching out for something entirely sinister. It wasn’t a big knife that I found myself staring at. It was one of the smaller ones from my set of Sabatier kitchen knives. But I knew from experience exactly how much damage that four-inch, tempered steel blade could do. ‘Don’t be stupid. You’re hurt. I could take that off you if I wanted.’

‘You could try,’ he agreed, after a second’s consideration, ‘but I wouldn’t advise it. There’s no need for a struggle, and I don’t want to hurt you.’

‘Then put it down.’ My voice dropped to a whisper. Outside, a child cried, a child that should have been in its bed. The cat meowed at next door’s window. I could call out, if I dared, and see if someone came. But I didn’t. ‘You’re hurt. You can’t go anywhere by yourself.’

‘Yes,’ he said, his voice still steady. ‘That’s true. But I can’t stay here. Because whoever did this might come back and finish me off.’

I waited a moment longer, my gaze locked onto his. I’d heard a noise when I came in, a door banging, and I’d thought nothing of it. I was too used to the interminable sounds of other people’s lives around me. Now it seemed all too possible that I hadn’t just stumbled on the outcome of a crime, but had blundered right into the middle of one and by so doing might have prevented a murder. His murder. As I stared into the eyes of this dangerous stranger, the thought that crystallised in my mind was a stark one. I didn’t want him to die.

About Jennifer:

I’m a writer. Is that enough?

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember; my first story was scribbled in pencil in a spiral bound notebook. It was called The Battle of the Black Watch and it began (something) like this: “I was woken in the early hours of the morning by my teddy bear, Thomasina, dancing a Highland fling on my tummy“.

I was eight, at most.

I read a lot when I was a child, but I wrote more. I wrote a spin-off of The Lord of the Rings, kind of prototype fan-fiction, complete with songs. I wrote about everything. In the days when you watched what was on telly because there was no choice, I watched rugby and skiing and wrote immature adventure stories about both. I went to university to study English but changed my course to do geography. At that point my stories became more heavily influenced by setting.

Then I grew up. I had to go to work, where I would jot down notes in meetings and look as if I was doing something economically sound. In fact I’d just thought of a plot point. Then I gave it all up to bring up the kids. I went to classes to keep my brain active. I went to writing classes. And someone said to me: “you should send that story off to The People’s Friend“.

I did. It was published.

I like short stories, as it happens; but my real love is novels. They allow you to develop characters and add more twists to the plot. So I moved on to writing novels. I joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers Scheme (because aspiring writers need help). I submitted and was rejected. Submitted and was rejected. Repeat ad nauseam.

In August 2013 the cycle of rejection broke and my first novel, Thank You For The Music, was accepted by Tirgearr Publishing. They’ve since taken four more. Just for the experienceI’ve self-published, Quintet: Dark Tales With a Twist,  a book of those short stories that grew from my writing class.

I’m still writing, novels and short stories. I’m still being rejected, more often than I like. But I’m still going. I blog. I write travel articles. I can’t help myself. Because writing is like life, a roller coaster ride.

Feel free to join me:

Amazon link:

https://www.amazon.com/Blank-Space-Dangerous-Friends-Book-ebook/dp/B01MFBLIY3

Book trailer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p2XfcBuRkV0&feature=youtu.be

Website http://jenniferyoungauthor.co.uk/

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/jenniferyoungauthor.

Twitter https://twitter.com/jynovelist

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A Conversation With Author Mary Anne Yarde

Today I’m delighted to welcome my friend and best-selling author of the Du Lac Chronicle Series, Mary Anne Yarde, who has dropped by to share her views of her life as an author.

mary-anne-yarde-head-shot

Welcome, Mary Anne. It’s a pleasure to have you here with us today.

Can you tell us which book has influenced you the most?

Book? Surely you mean books! As soon as I learnt to read, I had my nose stuck in a book. I was lucky that I had a much older sister, so I inherited all her hand-me-down books, which caused no end of arguments. My sister was very particular about her books. No bent pages, no cracked spines, they had to look like new…always. In fact, even now, how she reads a book is a mystery to me, they all look like they have just come off the shelves of a bookstore. Unfortunately, that all went out the window when I got my hands on them. Very soon they were dog-eared, with occasional notes in the margin. Scandal!

By the time I hit eleven, my sister’s bedroom was better than the local library, and I would sneak in and help myself to her growing collection of Mills and Boon Romance novels. Needless to say, I learnt a lot from those books!

In 1995 a book came out that touched me deep inside in a way no other book had. I was a teen, and my boyfriend was going away on a school camp for a week. I was more than a little miserable as I faced the trauma of being apart from him! He took me shopping, I guess he wanted to cheer me up, and we ended up in a bookstore — no surprise there! There was a book near the front that caught my attention. It was Nicholas Evan’s debut novel. I am sure most people have heard of The Horse Whisperer, it was made into a film starring Robert Redford, but let’s not talk about that. The Horse Whisperer is, in my opinion, one of the truest accounts of human emotions that I have ever read. Guilt, Anger, Pain, Jealousy, Compassion, this book has it all, but above everything else, The Horse Whisper is about Love. I ignored my boyfriend for the rest of the day while I read The Horse Whisper in one sitting — I don’t think that was quite what he had in mind when he bought it for me. Even now, after reading a countless number of books, The Horse Whisper still does it for me. When I read it, it feels like coming home. As for the boyfriend, he forgave me, and a couple of years later he asked me to marry him, but in all those years we have been together, he has never bought me another book…I can’t understand why not?!

So to answer your question, it would be The Horse Whisper that has influenced and inspired me the most.

That’s such a coincidence – I adore that book and I loved the film too. Fantastic choice. What was your favourite book as a child?

I was a pony-obsessed child, so any book to do with horses found its way onto my overcrowded bookshelf! If you asked my childhood self what my favourite book was, then I would say Anna Sewell’s, Black Beauty. I had a very old 1920’s copy of Black Beauty, and I loved everything about that book — from the size of the book itself to the smell of its musty old pages! The story, of course, was a bonus. I must have read that book 100 times. It now sits on my daughter’s bookshelf — she loved it too!

Snap! Another common interest we share – I was horse-mad too and loved Black Beauty. Can you describe your writing process?

I always write in the afternoon, sat on my bed and curled up under a blanket. I put my headphones on and, depending on what type of scene I am writing, I find some music to listen to. I prefer listening to movie soundtracks, especially ones composed by James Horner. He composed the score for films such as Braveheart, Titanic, Legends of the Fall and Avatar. I could listen to his music all day!

I write using a laptop. I find it hard to sit up at a table, so I rest the computer on my lap, no doubt the posture police would have something to say about that!

Before I start to write, I will re-read what I had written the day before, and make any necessary changes and then carry on writing the story. Often I can be side-tracked when I need to look something up, but I don’t mind about that because I love researching the past.

I drink far too much tea when I write and have had to stop buying biscuits because I completely lose track of how many I have eaten while writing!

I only write for around two hours a day, sometimes a little bit more, any longer and I find my concentration starts to wander.

What advice can you give to writers at the beginning of their journey?

If you want to write, you have to read. Read as much as you can by a variety of authors. Then, you must write. Write as often as you can — practice does make perfect. Do not become disheartened, ever. Some days will be harder than others and sometimes you may feel like giving up. Don’t. You are creating a world with your words, a world that people may well want to lose themselves in one day. Writing isn’t a profession, it is a calling, and if you don’t answer that call, then you may well regret it for the rest of your life.

That’s fantastic advice and so true. What is the most moving book you have ever read?

The Horse Whisper; it really does have it all!

If you could have dinner with any writer(s), living or dead, who would you choose and why?

I would love to have dinner with Historical Fiction author, Tony Riches. Tony writes the most breathtakingly beautiful stories about the Tudor Dynasty. I love his work, and he kind of took me under his wing when I was starting out in this whole publishing process. I would like to buy him dinner to say thank you!

Are you self-published or traditionally published?

I am a self-published author, and I love it!

You write historical fiction. What is it that draws you to history?

When I was a very young child, my mother was given a set of encyclopedias. Can you remember the massive encyclopedias they used to have at school? That is the kind of book I am talking about!  Now, I couldn’t read at the time, but I used to drag these heavy books down from the bookshelf, very mindful I would get in trouble if I dropped them. I would place them on the floor, lie down next to them and flick through the pages.

My mum tells me that I had a favourite encyclopedia (like you do when you are three years old) and that was the one about World History. So my love affair with history started on the living room floor with an encyclopedia that was almost bigger than me!

My mum was a keen National Trust member, so we used to go on trips to great houses all the time.  I loved — still, do — exploring old houses and trying to imagine what it would be like to live in one!

In the summer holidays while the other children were outside playing I would have my nose stuck in a history project. Once, I dedicated a whole summer to learning about the First Crusade — Like you do!  I took history at school, and I went to University to study it as well. It has just kind of stuck.

I grew up near Glastonbury, which is not only rich in history but folklore. I have been fascinated with the life and times of King Arthur and his knights, and although he is a tough cookie to track down historically, Arthur is embroiled with folklore.

About 13 years ago, I because interested in folklore and the stories the past generation used to tell. Folklore is often looked down upon by some historians, it is not an exact science and let’s be honest, most of it is pure fantasy, but I think folklore gives you a fascinating insight to the people of the time. Why were these stories told? Was it for sheer entertainment value or was there a darker reason? A swaying of the masses maybe, a form of propaganda, and that fascinates me. Put history and folklore together and you have a potent mix, and I love creating stories that have one foot in a myth and the other in history.

Please tell us about your latest published work.

The Du Lac Devil (Book 2 of The Du Lac Chronicles)

the-du-lac-devil-10-august-2016-kindle

Blurb

The best-selling Du Lac Chronicles continues:

War is coming to Saxon Briton.

As one kingdom after another falls to the savage might of the High King, Cerdic of Wessex, only one family dares to stand up to him — The Du Lacs.

Budic and Alden Du Lac are barely speaking to each other, and Merton is a mercenary, fighting for the highest bidder. If Wessex hears of the brothers’ discord, then all is lost.

Fate brings Merton du Lac back to the ancestral lands of his forefathers, and he finds his country on the brink of civil war. But there is worse to come, for his father’s old enemy has infiltrated the court of Benwick. Now, more than ever, the Du Lac must come together to save the kingdom and themselves.

Can old rivalries and resentments be overcome in time to stop a war?

Links

https://www.amazon.com/Du-Lac-Devil-Book-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B01N0FW1RU

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Du-Lac-Devil-Book-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B01N0FW1RU

Paperback available December 2017

Author Bio

Mary Anne Yarde is the bestselling author of The Du Lac Chronicle series. Born in Bath, England, Yarde grew up in the southwest of England, surrounded and influenced by centuries of history and mythology. Glastonbury — the fabled Isle of Avalon — was a mere fifteen-minute drive from her home, and tales of King Arthur and his knights were part of her childhood.

At nineteen, Yarde married her childhood sweetheart and began a bachelor of arts in history at Cardiff University, only to have her studies interrupted by the arrival of her first child. She would later return to higher education, studying equine science at Warwickshire College. Horses and history remain two of her major passions.

Yarde keeps busy raising four children and helping run a successful family business. She has many skills but has never mastered cooking — so if you ever drop by, she (and her family) would appreciate some tasty treats or a meal out!

If you’d like to learn more about Mary Anne and her books, then do follow the links below:

author@maryanneyarde.com

Twitter @maryanneyarde

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/maryanneyarde/

Blogspot http://maryanneyarde.blogspot.co.uk/

Amazon Author’s page http://www.amazon.com/Mary-Anne-Yarde/e/B01C1WFATA/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33014836-the-du-lac-devil

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Welcome to . . . Author Suzy Henderson

🦉Pizzazz Book Promotions

profile pic small.jpgSuzy Henderson is the author of The Beauty Shop

Suzy, it is so good to meet you!  Tell us a little about the path you have traveled to arrive at the destination we call ‘successful author’!  Don’t hold back!

Well, I was born and raised in Sunderland, a north-east town in England that’s now a bustling city. I always loved to read and found that books could take you to new places and give you great adventures. I suppose being an only child I was lonely at times, and so books became my passion, but I never once dreamed of being a writer. Fast forward a number of years, and I found myself working in a hospital – how did that happen? I became a qualified nurse and then moved south and trained to be a midwife. I got married, had two children and decided to take a career break…

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