Chocolate… 🍫

Easter isn’t about confectionary, but for most of us, chocolate is involved somewhere along the way…

Chocolate eggs…

Chocolate bunny…

Chocolate cake…

Chocolate buttons…

Chocolate ice cream…

Chocolate biscuits…

Chocolate sandwich…

Hot chocolate…

Or simply… chocolate…

I wish you all a happy and peaceful Easter – with or without the choc!
(All images from Pixabay.com)

P.S. I’m really pleased how well Stolen Sister is doing. It’s been in the UK top 100 on kindle for nearly four weeks now; we’ve hit the magic 5o reviews – and this weekend, it’s on a 99p/c deal. Just sayin’…

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The ‘A’ books… #A-Z books đź“š

This is an adaptation of something I saw on Twitter recently – people were posting 26 books in 26 days, each title beginning with a different letter of the alphabet. (Don’t worry, I’m planning on taking around 26 months to get to Z…) Each month I’ll post a newish book I’ve enjoyed, preferably a friend’s book, plus a children’s book and an older book.

 

My ‘A’ books are:

 

A Fractured Winter by Alison Baillie.

The book in a few words: standalone crime fiction, set in Switzerland and Scotland (you can tell why I’m drawn to this one!), lovely word pictures of the scenery and life in a small Swiss village. All that, and a really suspenseful story…

 

 

 

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery.

I don’t know how many times I’ve read this one, and all the others in the series. A little orphan girl finds a home and love in Canada – and if I ever make it across the Atlantic, I’ll definitely visit Prince Edward Island.

 

 

 

Artists in Crime by Ngaio Marsh

Ngaio Marsh’s books are around the same era as Agatha Christie’s. Most of them feature Inspector Alleyn, who is promoted to superintendent by the end of the series, and some are set in New Zealand. This one’s the first of the ‘Alleyn and Troy’ books. (Troy is an artist who eventually marries Alleyn, but it takes them quite a few murder investigations to get there.)

 

 

I’m looking forward to choosing my ‘B’ books next month!

Book news: Stolen Sister is still on a 99p/c publication promotion, and I’m really pleased that it’s still up there in the UK top 100 on Amazon.
As far as my novellas are concerned, I’m busy choosing a cover for the fifth and final novella in the … in Switzerland series – cover-choosing is definitely one of the most fun parts about being a writer. Watch this space!

 

 

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Stolen Sister thanks…

It’s day seven in the life of my new book, and Mother’s Day in the UK – but not here in Switzerland, so I’m not expecting my sons to come running with flowers and chocs. (We have Mother’s Day in May.)

As usual when a new book comes out, it’s been a fun, crazy week, and I’ve spent a lot of it on social media helping Stolen Sister along. A hundred thousand thanks to every single person who’s supported me and my book this week:

A special thank you to the bloggers who so kindly hosted Stolen Sister on their blogs (click the names to see the posts):

Image by Shalini’s Books and Reviews

 

Audio Killed the Bookmark
Nicki’s Book Blog
The Bookwormery
Ginger Book Geek
Lost in the Land of Books
Mixing Reality with Fiction
Short Book and Scribes
The P Turner’s Book Blog
By the Letter Book Reviews
and last but not least:
Shalini’s Books and Reviews, who also made the teddy bear image ❤

 

 

 

 

Biggest thanks of all go to Bombshell Books for publishing Stolen Sister – and for the lovely publication day mug they sent!

 

 

 

One of the many highlights this week was seeing my book get into the top 30 in the UK Kindle Store.

Next week, we’ll be back to business as usual here in N.E. Switzerland and on the blog. Until the next book…

 

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Stolen Sister, out today!

It’s publication day for Stolen Sister – I’ll be raising a glass to my eighth full-length novel tonight! 🍾🍸

It tells the story of Erin, who was lost – or was she? – and Vicky, who didn’t know she had a sister. Then there’s Maisie, who at 70 wasn’t expecting to have to care for two young siblings, one with special needs. And Sylvie, who went to a party that changed her life, and not in a good way, although she thought it was.

These are my four main characters, ably assisted by Ben, Christine (sort of), Jamie, Ron, and Larissa. Stolen Sister is all about family and the search for identity, and you can download the eBook at the special publication week price of just 99p/c. (Click the image above to go to your local Amazon Store.)

As always, a huge THANK YOU to everyone who helped me with this book, especially the folks at Bloodhound/Bombshell Books. I’m sad to say goodbye to my characters, but that’s how it goes, it’s like your kids growing up and leaving home. And right now I’m very busy with Nicola, Kelly, Ed, Rob and Mia, who have a whole different set of problems, wishes and needs. It’s the writing life, and I wouldn’t change it!

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Pictures of a book… Stolen Sister

I’ve been holed up in my writing cave for many weeks now, getting the first draft of what will hopefully be book nine down – and yesterday, I typed THE END. (That’s my excuse for the lack of regular blog posts this year…)

Meanwhile, book eight, Stolen Sister, is only a few weeks away from publication, so March is going to be busy in a different way. We’ll have a cover reveal soon, and shortly afterwards Stolen Sister will be up on pre-order. Meanwhile, here are a few photos of the book’s settings:

The story starts in a hotel near Kendal, to the south of the Lake District in England. I’ve travelled through this area many times, and as you can see, it’s lovely. Less lovely is what happens to baby Erin and her mum and dad in the hotel…

Location switches several times in the book as years pass and the characters move around. Several chapters near the start take place in Edinburgh, where Vicky lives with Great-Aunt Maisie and brother Jamie.

Edinburgh Castle gets a mention at the end of Part One as Maisie trundles past in a bus one wintry night.

The action shifts to Glasgow, where Vicky and Jamie spend the second half of their childhood.

Vicky, now grown up, lives in a lovely flat on the banks of the River Clyde, just across the footbridge (which I crossed literally dozens of times last year, but that’s another story) from the city centre. Vicky’s flat is in the beige-coloured building to the left of the bridge below. (Thanks go to Evelyn Tingle for the photo.)

Vicky crosses the bridge every day too, to get to her job in the city centre.

Meanwhile, where is Erin? Or maybe, who is Erin would be a better question. Years before, she spent some time in Carlisle in the north of England, but then she went off radar.

The story ends back in Glasgow, and the river has a very special meaning to both Vicky and Erin…

Stolen Sister will be published by Bloodhound Books on March 25th.

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Recently read and enjoyed (2)

Winter is a good time to cuddle up on the sofa, a glass of wine at your side and a good book in your hands/kindle/phone/iPad. Here are a few of my recent reads – in no particular order:

 

Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth.

I’ve read two of Jennifer Worth’s books now. They’re a touch grittier than the TV series, and probably more realistic. I still imagine them all buzzing around on their bikes, though!

 

 

 

 

Perfect Bones by AJ Waines

I have a large collection of Alison Waines’ books on my kindle, and I’m looking forward to adding to it this summer. Perfect Bones is the latest Dr. Samantha Willerby book, and she’s working under time pressure this time. Excellent writing and a great plot.

 

 

 

 

Chergui’s Child by Jane Riddell

I met Jane Riddell a few weeks ago in a Swiss cafĂ©, and we exchanged writing life stories and books. I hope she enjoyed Chosen Child as much as I enjoyed Chergui’s Child. If you like a great story with a mystery at its heart and a large chunk of travel involved, try this one!

 

 

 

Another Love by Amanda Prowse

This was my first Amanda Prowse book, but it won’t be the last. A fabulous family drama centring around a serious issue – the ‘other love’ is in a bottle. Highly recommended.

 

 

 

 

 

The Devil You Know by Terry Tyler

As always, Terry Tyler’s characters come across as living, breathing people, and there’s a whole clutch of them in this book. They don’t know each other, but they all suspect a loved one of being a killer. And one of them is right… Very cleverly done!

 

 

 

Book news: my novellas are trundling along nicely – I’ve spotted them as 1-4 in their category a couple of times now, though never in the right order!

 

And for bargain hunters, the fabulous Bloodhound Books have Baby Dear on a 99p/c kindle deal for a couple of days. Click HERE to see it on Amazon.

 

 

Next time, I’ll be sharing some news about my coming book Stolen Sister, so tune in for a few pics of sunny Glasgow!

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Jennifer Ash and The East-Midlands of England

A warm welcome today to Jennifer Ash, aka Jenny Kane, who’s here today to tell us about the settings of her book Edward’s Outlaw, which as we see by the cover is historical fiction. It’s set in the East Midlands, an area I don’t know at all, so I was interested to read about it. The photos are wonderful, too – look at those trees on the Sherwood Forest one! And now, over to Jennifer:

When it came to choosing a location for Edward’s Outlaw, the third book in The Folville Chronicles, I was tied slightly by the confines of history but I wanted to keep everyone safely in the East Midlands of England.


Leicestershire moor

The Folville family, around which the series is set, were a real group of seven brothers who used crime as a way of life during the 1320’s and 1330’s.

Their home, Ashby-Folville manor in Leicestershire, formed the backdrop of The Outlaw’s Ransom and The Winter Outlaw (Book One and Two), but in Edward’s Outlaw I took my lead protagonist, Mathilda, to a new location. A warrant for the brother’s arrest was issued, and so Mathilda, wife to Robert de Folville (the only character I’ve completely invented in the series) had to go into hiding. I chose Rockingham castle as her place of refuge after I came across documentary information which proved that the Folville family often associated with Robert de Vere. He was the Constable of Rockingham castle, who often allowed felons to hide out in the castle – in return for payment of course.

Rockingham Castle
Rockingham castle started life as a motte and bailey castle, built under the orders of William the Conqueror. His son, William II had the castle rebuilt in stone, making it a dominant spectacle in the Welland Valley in the English Midlands. He had a stone keep and a huge curtain wall added to the building. With Rockingham forest nearby, the castle became a favourite Royal residence, from which the king and his guests could go hunting for deer and wild boar. Sometimes the hunting party would travel as far as Sherwood Forest for extra venison hunting.

Sherwood
The Midland counties of England are often overlooked when it comes to highlighting the beauty spots of Britain. Yet, for me, it’s one of the most stunning and interesting parts of the country.

From Bakewell in the Peak District, to Rockingham Castle on the Northamptonshire border, it’s an area teeming with history, legends and stunning countryside.

Bakewell Bridge

Thank you, Jenny! I’d love to visit Sherwood Forest sometime; it looks amazing!
(To find out more about Edward’s Outlaw, click the book cover above to see it on Amazon.)

Jennifer Ash at Bakewell Bridge

With a background in history and archaeology, Jennifer Ash should really be sitting in a dusty university library translating Medieval Latin criminal records, and writing research documents that hardly anyone would want to read. Instead, tucked away in the South West of England, Jennifer writes stories of medieval crime, steeped in mystery, with a side order of romance.
Influenced by a lifelong love of Robin Hood and medieval ballad literature, Jennifer has written The Outlaw’s Ransom (Book One of The Folville Chronicles) – a short novel, which first saw the light of day within the novel Romancing Robin Hood (written under the name Jenny Kane; Pub. Littwitz Press, 2018).
Book Two of The Folville ChroniclesThe Winter Outlaw – was released in April 2018. (pub. LittwitzPress) Book Three of The Folville Chronicles – Edward’s Outlaw– was released in December 2018.
Jennifer also writes as Jenny Kane. Her work includes the contemporary women’s fiction and romance novels, Romancing Robin Hood (2nd edition, Littwitz Press, 2018), Abi’s Neighbour (Accent Press, 2017), Another Glass of Champagne (Accent Press, 2016), and the bestsellers, Abi’s House (Accent Press, June 2015), and Another Cup of Coffee (Accent Press, 2013).

You can find out more about Jenny/Jennifer and her books on her website.
She’s on Twitter: @JenAshHistory  and  @JennyKaneAuthor, and on Facebook as Jennifer Ash and Jenny Kane.

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The week the snow came…

At 430m above sea, my home here in the north-east is in one of the lowest areas in Switzerland. In winter, it regularly happens that while everywhere else is being sprinkled with scenic whiteness from above, we get rain. And to tell you the truth, that suits me just fine. Snow is fun for a day or two, but after that it’s boring – getting around is more difficult and often more time-consuming, and I’ve never been a winter sports person. (That is not me on the left.)

Last week, however, we had quite a lot of snow. Not as much as the winter of ’99, when I opened the front door one Sunday morning and the dog leapt out as usual, and disappeared into a snowy hole… but a lot. And I have to admit it’s lovely seeing snowmen appear everywhere, and kids having fun with their buckets and spades. The local paper has a large selection of snowy pics right here – my favourite is the bike!

It was less lovely for the guests in a restaurant halfway up our house mountain, Säntis, last week, when an avalanche thundered in. Only three people were slightly injured, unbelievable when you see the second top photo here.

So I was glad to have plenty of book work going. As well as working on my current novel project, we’re getting Stolen Sister ready for publication with Bombshell Books next month. The cover will be revealed in a couple of weeks, and it’s a corker. At the moment, the book’s being formatted, and then the last checks will be done. We’re having a blog tour, and I’ll be sharing more about that soon.
And – I’ll have the last 5 electronic ARCs (advance reader copies) to hand out very soon, so if anyone reading this would like one, do get in touch using the email contact above this post, and I’ll email details back. The book is a family drama with crime undertones, same kind of genre as The Cold Cold Sea and Death Wish.

And now I’m off for a Sunday walk in our snow – rain’s forecast for the beginning of the week ‘down’ here, so I’ll admire the beauty the snow brings, and then tomorrow I’ll watch the rain clean the place up again. And yes, I know I’m a complete snow spoilsport…

 

 

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2018 – the best of times and the worst of times. A minimalist’s version.

I’ve done a ‘minimalist’s’ New Year post ever since my first book was published, but this year I have to say I hesitated. 2018 truly was an annus horribilus, starting with the death of my father in January and continuing through a prolonged bout of non-serious but incapacitating ill health that only ended in summer, leaving me feeling like a wet dishrag. But then – maybe searching for some good parts among the *!?* is a good idea, so here goes:

Best medical establishment visited: The Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice in Glasgow, whose staff looked after us all so beautifully for most of January. All we can say is, thank you. Back then, the hospice was still in the old Clydeside building in the middle of the photo, though it’s since moved to lovely new premises in a Glasgow park.

Best new book cover: I have lots to choose from this year – my four novellas have come out, and The Paradise Trees and The Cold Cold Sea were both republished with swanky new covers. My own vote goes to The Cold Cold Sea, closely followed by Christmas in Switzerland.

Longest queue: The one I stood in at Luton Airport last March to get through passport control on the way to the Bloodhound Books spring bash. (Note to self, get an electronic passport ASAP.) I realise I have nothing to complain about; the queue wasn’t even an hour long, but I was poorly at the time. The party was one of the best, though – worth all the wobbles to get there!

Biggest wow experience: Visiting the Brontë Parsonage in summer. Seeing the actual rooms where Emily and Charlotte Brontë wrote Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre was a.maz.ing. We can link this to:
Most impressive film watched on TV: To Walk Invisible, the story of the Brontës.

Best and worst parts of summer: The best part was definitely the weather. I LOVE summer heat, and this year we toasted for months on end. The downside, though, was watching our beautiful lake shrink daily. The heat, coupled with the almost non-existent rainfall, sucked up water at an alarming rate, and it’s only now improving slowly. The photo below was taken in November. Just a lake pic, you might think – but there shouldn’t be a beach there. There should be water right up over the green ‘grass’ on the bottom edge.

Best prosecco drunk in ZĂĽrich: We’ve had a few of these at various writer meet-ups, but I’ll pick the time I met with Alison Baillie, Louise Mangos and Swiss-American Christa Polkinhorn. Cheers!

Favourite read: tricky as always, but I’ll go for Susanna Bavin’s The Sewing Room Girl. I don’t often read family sagas, but this one looked interesting and it’s set around the time my grandmother was born. In a word, it was fabulous. I barely put it down until the last page was turned – thank you, Susanna!

Best purchase: my GA. This is a (horrendously expensive) travel pass that allows me to go on trains, buses, boats and (most) cable cars all over Switzerland and into neighbouring Germany and Austria (and probably France and Italy too, though I haven’t done that yet). It’s not so much about saving money because you don’t, really, but it means I can be completely spontaneous about hopping on and off transport whenever the notion takes me without worrying about tickets and it’s worth Every.Single.Cent.

Worst breakage: My rainbow Swatch. I replaced it with a funky little black one, but it’s not the same.

Biggest hopes for next year: That somehow, the world will get through the state it’s in now, and emerge a saner place. That my children are happy in their work and studies. That I’ll finish the book I’m writing at the moment by autumn. That we all have peace in our lives. And meanwhile, I’m grateful to live in and belong to this beautiful country, Switzerland.

Wishing you all a happy, prosperous and peaceful 2019!

 

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Christmas Tag… 🎄 #Festive #Fun

A week or two back I came across a series of fun Christmas questions on lovely Shelley Wilson’s blog – so I accepted her open invitation to join in. What would your answers be?

What is your favourite Christmas film?
Probably Home Alone – escapism, good fun – and isn’t it the kind of thing you wished for, as a kid? To do whatever you liked, without your parents around to stop you?

Have you ever had a white Christmas?
I live in Switzerland…

Where do you usually spend your holiday?
Here at home, in a lakeside town in N.E. Switzerland. My home overlooks a wintry wood, and through the trees I can see Lake Constance, with glimpses of Germany on the other side.

What is your favourite Christmas song?
Not sure I have one. Nothing that’s belted out in supermarkets from mid-November onwards, anyway!

Do you open any presents on Christmas Eve?
In Switzerland, Christmas Eve is the main event. That’s when the Christ Child comes, whizzing through homes in the late afternoon, leaving fully-decorated Christmas trees with presents underneath in his wake. The grand present-opening takes place after dinner. The main advantage here is that the kids go to bed late and aren’t up at 04.30am to see what Santa’s brought…

Can you name all of Santa’s Reindeer?
Rudolph, Donner, Blitzen, Prancer, Dancer, Dasher – stuck.

Is your Christmas tree real or fake?
When the kids were small we had a real one, but nowadays our tree is fake. It’s just easier. We still have decorations from way back, many of them made by the boys at kindergarten. Like the toilet paper angel. Just cut out a cardboard angel, glue on tiny balls of loo roll and fluffy wings, paint silver. They last for decades…

Are you a pro-present wrapper, or do you fail miserably?
Whenever possible I just squash coloured tissue paper round pressies and put them in a nice gift bag. MUCH easier.

What is your all-time favourite holiday food/sweet treat?
The Christmas sherry.

Favourite holiday drink?
The Christmas sherry.

What made you realise the truth about Santa?
A little friend told me at school. My mother was distraught.

Do you make New Year Resolutions? Do you stick to them?
Not really, and not really. Good ones for 2019 might be: do more exercise and more writing, and keep my desk tidier. I might keep two of these…

Favourite Christmas smell?
The Christmas sherry.

Do you own/wear a Christmas jumper?
I would LOVE a Christmas jumper, but they haven’t really arrived in Switzerland yet and as I tend to avoid travelling to the UK in winter, I don’t get the chance to buy them. And yes, I know I could order online, but that’s not the same as going into a shop crammed with frantic Christmas shoppers and choosing wacky jumpers for all the family. I suppose I could knit them…

I’ll pass the Christmas tag on to anyone who wants to join in!

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