Mixed news… #books

This is the blog post that should have gone out last week, after the scheduled release of my new book The Un-Family on the 14th. The bad news is, due to an Amazon glitch (they needed proof – twice – that Hobeck Books had the right to publish), the ebook wasn’t up on Amazon until eight days after the event. The good news is, it’s out now, my blood pressure has almost recovered from the fright and the paperback is available as well. Hobeck Books worked very hard to get things sorted as quickly as possible, so huge thanks for that.

Onwards and upwards…

As you see from the pic, the book is set against beautiful English countryside. Holly Martin works there as a vet, and on the surface, she has everything she ever wanted. An amazing job, a lovely home, and Dylan is the man of her dreams… But then there’s his family.

This book was interesting to write. The original inspiration came from a TV programme about a wildlife centre, where experts and volunteers worked to help injured and needy animals and return them to their natural habitat.
I thought while I was watching that it would be a good backdrop for a book, and started to create my own wildlife centre in my head. Somewhere in the south of England, always looking for staff and volunteers, run by animal enthusiasts. Then came the best bit – working out who the characters were.

Wildlife centres need a vet on call. That’s Holly. And people do tend to have families in tow, so gradually, the Martin family grew in my head. Holly’s husband Dylan, his twin brother Seth, their mother Elaine and niece Megan. Only when I had the family fixed did I turn to what actually happens to them in the book. It’s the first time I’ve created characters without at least a general idea of the plot, but once I started writing, the situation took over, and The Un-Family is the result. The wildlife centre didn’t play quite as large a part in the story as I’d intended, but writing books is like that. That’s what makes it so fascinating.

The themes that developed are: Job satisfaction. Addiction. Sibling rivalry. Nature vs nurture. Family ties. Greed. At the end, we can each decide what makes a family and what doesn’t. The book’s had some great reviews – I’ll link here to the first of the blog tour, from Linda Hill. Huge thanks again, Linda!

I’d like to thank Hobeck Books for publishing The Un-Family, most especially Rebecca and Adrian and also the editors, proofreaders and others who work behind the scenes. A special mention too for Jayne Mapp Design, who made the amazing cover image.

More big thanks to all the bloggers who took part in the blog tour and managed to reduce me to tears several times – in a good way.

And biggest thanks of all, as always, to the readers who buy or borrow the book and join the journey with my Un-Family. (Tap HERE to see the book on Amazon.)

Here’s the blurb:

For better, for worse
Wildlife vet Holly’s life seems blissful: husband Dylan is the man of her dreams, she has a rewarding career and a lovely home. And yet, a tiny niggle is growing daily. Dylan is becoming increasingly remote – but why? Holly is determined to mend the fissure in their relationship. But a shocking discovery changes everything…

Family ties
Then there’s Dylan’s family: his wayward twin Seth and their widowed mother Elaine, who is rather fond of a glass or two of sherry. Nothing in Elaine’s life is easy, bringing up teenage granddaughter Megan while the family grieves the loss of Megan’s mother.

Family lies
A tragic event rocks the foundations of the family, and Holly’s life starts to unravel. Dylan drifts ever further away. Megan is left uncertain and alone, while Seth falls deeper into himself.

The bonds that once bound the family together are breaking. Can they ever be repaired?

While we’re talking about news, another item is that the paperback of Stolen Sister will be ready in the New Year, possibly before that, and – at long last – the first book in my feel-good series is heading for publication early next year too. But more about that another time.

Next week, crime writer Maureen Myant is here with her choice of Classic Comfort books as well as her own new release, The Confession.
I’ll leave you now with more of that English countryside.

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#SilentSunday #sledges

I was at the Swiss National Museum last week, and found these…

See you next week!

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Classic Comfort Reads… with Georgia Rose

The idea behind the Classic Comfort posts is that each featured writer chooses a favourite title from the classics – we’ll define ‘classic’ as pre-1940 – and a favourite comfort read, a book they always return to, for whatever reasons. As third book in each post, we’ll have one by the writer.

This week, we have Georgia Rose, who writes romantic and psychological suspense. Georgia was one of the very first writers I met on Twitter – and we’ve met in real life too, the year I spent a few days in Cambridge and Bedford. She’s here today with her soon-to-be-released thriller A Killer Strikes, which is on pre-order now.

Over to Georgia:

Classic:

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

I remember sighing when my English Lit class was given this to study for O Level. It looked so dull against the other, probably highly inappropriate, books I was reading at the time. However, I grew to love it and because we dissected it over the year, I know it well. It therefore fills me with joy to open up the first page and start to read. I love Austen’s writing and dry humour but it also opened my eyes to the lack of choices women had before them back then and made me appreciate the freedoms we have now.

Comfort:

All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot

Ahh, I love this book and know it so well as I’ve returned to it time and again over the years. Despite the limitations in veterinary medicine at the time it spurred on my desire to be a vet, until my lack of academic ability became only too apparent! I also loved everything about the life back then, still do actually. Life was lived at a slower pace and without the technological complications that seem to dog it nowadays. I think I’d have liked the simplicity. And the setting, don’t get me started on that. Stunning.

Thank you, Georgia – you’ve chosen two of my favourites too! The humour in both is amazing.

Georgia’s coming book A Killer Strikes is the first in a new series, at least two of which will be published next year. I haven’t read it, but I have read several of her other books and enjoyed them all, so I’m looking forward to the new one. Here’s the blurb:

The perfect family… The perfect murders…

A family massacred. A village in mourning. Can anyone sleep safely while a killer is on the loose?

Laura Percival, owner of The Stables, notices something wrong at her friend’s house when out on her morning ride. Further investigation reveals scenes she’ll never forget.

While the police are quick to accuse, Laura is less so, defending those around her as she struggles to make sense of the deaths. And all the time she wonders if she really knew her friends at all.

A chance encounter opens up a line of investigation that uncovers a secret life. One that Laura is much closer to than she ever realised.

A Killer Strikes is a gripping domestic thriller. If you like character-driven action, suspenseful storytelling and dark revelations then you’ll love this exciting novel.

Georgia Rose is the author of The Grayson Trilogy books: A Single Step, Before the Dawn and Thicker than Water as well as a short story, The Joker. She then released Parallel Lies, and its sequel, Loving Vengeance.

She is now embarking on her third series – A Shade Darker.

Georgia’s background in countryside living, riding, instructing and working with horses has provided the knowledge needed for some of her storylines; the others are a product of her overactive imagination.

Her busy life is set in a tranquil part of rural Cambridgeshire where she lives with her much neglected husband.

You can find out more about Georgia and her books on her website, on Facebook and on Twitter.
Next up on Classic Comfort Reads is Maureen Myant, whose new book The Confession is out in a couple of weeks. For now, I’ll leave you with Georgia’s latest:

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A 99p offer, an island and a town…

From the Isle of Arran to the English market town of Bedford – that’s the journey Nina Moore made in my third book, The Attic Room. Having learned that a man she’d never heard of had left her a house, she flew south to investigate – and found more than she bargained for.

My teenage summers were all spent on lovely Arran. Friends from Glasgow had a holiday place there, and I fell in love with the place as soon as I saw it. Who wouldn’t, with views like this?

On the boat to Arran

It was Scotland, so the weather wasn’t always so sunny…

But the local cows made up for that.

Anyway, Nina left the island and went to see the house she’d inherited. It would have been somewhere along this street in Bedford, and you can see more pics of the area in my blog post ‘Spooky old house revisited’ HERE.

What does Nina find out about the house? Who was John Moore? And how did he know her name? Read all about it in The Attic Room… (tap/click HERE to see it in your local Amazon store)

Next week, we have suspense writer Georgia Rose with her choice of Classic Comfort reads – see you then!

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Fountains… #travel #water

For the past few weeks, I’ve been taking photos of fountains in our local area here in N.E. Switzerland, some in our little town, others in St Gallen, our nearest city. There’s quite a variety…

First up – our town’s version of the Jet d’Eau in Geneva.

A little closer to the harbour is the Nymph Fountain, with two nymphs and a satyr. It’s had a few changes of location in the past hundred years or so, due to the naked state of the figures and what was deemed respectable at the time. At one point, they were even draped with cloths to protect their decency…

The next one’s in St Gallen, and it caused a bit of a stir when it was erected too, in the 1980s.

Also in St Gallen is the more traditional Broderbrunnen. It’s well over a hundred years old and is set in the middle of a busy junction, with cars, trams and buses passing by every day.

This more modern fountain is by St Gallen main station. As you see, it’s popular with pigeons as well as people.

I came across this chap by accident when I was on my way home from a hike one day. It’s in the middle of a mostly residential area, and no, I have no idea what’s going on there… but it’s fun!

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A walk in Swiss woods… #travel (almost) #SilentSunday

After all the rain we’ve had recently, it was good to have some sunshine last week. I thought I’d walk through the woods and see how the beaver dams (there are three) were getting on.

The first section of the wood
This previously dried up ditch has (a little) water in it now.
You can tell which trees are standing in the beaver pond…
The newest – and furthest from the lake – dam.
From the side
The beaver pond with the trees standing in it.

I tried to go on to the second dam, but it was so wet and muddy underfoot I gave up, and continued along the road to the third one nearest the lake and – I think – the oldest one.

Dam Three

I didn’t see evidence of new beaver activity – but maybe next time!

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A budgie called Balthasar…

Naming your pets – not to mention your children and your characters – can be tricky… A blast from the past this week, before I start clearing out old blog posts to make way for some new ones.

linda huber

budgie-191007_1280So the new princess is Charlotte Elizabeth Diana. A tactful choice that – presumably – pleased everyone in the family. I’m glad they included Diana.

It isn’t easy, choosing a name for a new arrival, no matter how many legs they have. Many and varied were the discussions in our house before Son 1 arrived. We wanted our baby to have his very own name, not a family name. And it should go with our surname, and not be contractible into something daft. One of my favourites – Laurent – went right out the window when I heard a child in a shop call after his brother, ‘Lolo! Lolo!’ There are limits.

Son 2 was even more difficult. This time, we knew it was boy, but it still took twice as long to make our choice. When he arrived I heaved a sigh of relief. Our family was complete, no…

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Classic Comfort Reads… with Jane Cable

The idea behind the Classic Comfort posts is that each featured writer chooses a favourite title from the classics – we’ll define ‘classic’ as pre-1940 – and a favourite comfort read, a book they always return to, for whatever reasons. As third book in each post, we’ll have one by the writer.

This week, we have historical fiction writer Jane Cable, who also writes as Eva Glyn and whose dual timeline romance The Forgotten Maid is currently 99p/c on kindle – more about that later.
Over to Jane:

Classic:

Poldark, by Winston Graham
Having not watched either TV series I came to Poldark late, but particularly after moving to Cornwall I promised myself I would read the books. The way Graham brings the era in the county to life; the high and the low people, the rough and the smooth, is testament to his skill as a writer, his descriptions sliding seamlessly into the wonderful stories he weaves.
His research is impeccable too, but I have caught him out just the once. In The Black Moon, which is set in 1794-5, the Poldarks visit the Daniell family at Trelissick, but they didn’t move to the house until 1803. It’s an obscure piece of knowledge though; if I hadn’t been researching the Daniells for The Forgotten Maid then I wouldn’t have known.

Comfort:

The Shell Seekers, by Rosamunde Pilchard
I read this book when it first came out and have loved it ever since. It’s the character of Penelope Keeling that drew me into it; it was so very refreshing, at a time when the most popular books were bonk-busters, to have a protagonist in her later years. There was something about her that reminded me of my mother too.

To me, everything about the book is perfect; the family tensions so skilfully drawn, the echoes of Penelope’s past that made her who she is. And the ending. I sobbed and sobbed. And I do it every time.

Thank you, Jane! I love the Poldark books too; I have them all in paperback, but I must confess I preferred the original TV series to the new one. And The Shell Seekers has been on my tbr list forever – maybe this winter…

The Forgotten Maid is one of five books Jane has written under her own name, all standalone women’s fiction. It’s set in lovely Cornwall, so grab yourselves a bargain while it’s on offer. Here’s the blurb:

Two centuries apart, two lonely women seek a place to call home

Cornwall, 2015

Nomadic project manager Anna Pritchard has arrived in the village of Porthnevek to oversee the construction of a trendy new glamping site. But with many members of the local community strongly opposed to the development, she quickly finds herself ostracised and isolated.
Seeking to ease her loneliness, Anna begins volunteering at a nearby National Trust once owned by the aristocratic Daniell family. Anna spends more and more time steeped in local history, and it seems that the past and the present are beginning to collide…

Cornwall, 1815

After losing her brother in the Battle of Waterloo, French army seamstress Thérèse Ruguel finds herself in Cornwall as a lady’s maid to kindly Elizabeth Daniell.
Able to speak only a little English — and with the other servants suspicious of her — Thérèse feels lost and alienated. And when she discovers her brother may still be alive, she is forced to trust an enigmatic smuggler. Will it be the biggest mistake of her life?

Jane Cable’s books are romance with a ghostly twist and a look over the shoulder at the past, her Cornish Echoes series inspired by her love of the county where she has made her home. She also writes relationship driven fiction as Eva Glyn for One More Chapter, an imprint of Harper Collins.

You can find out more about Jane and her books on her website, and on Facebook and Twitter.

Next month’s Classic Comfort post comes from Georgia Rose, who writes both psychological and romantic suspense. I’ll leave you now with two of Jane’s lovely book covers.

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New Book… #amwriting #coverreveal

And here it is, the sensational cover image for my new book, The Un-Family, which will be published on November 15th. Big thanks here to Hobeck Books and their cover designer Jayne Mapp, who also designed the images for Daria’s Daughter and Pact of Silence.

What’s it about? In a word – family. The Martins. There’s Holly, who’s a vet and married to Dylan, a stressed businessman. Dylan’s twin brother Seth lives in a nearby village, as does their mum Elaine and sixteen-year-old niece Megan. The book starts with a prologue, where a body is hurtling down a river in flood, then chapter one takes us back a couple of weeks, and the action continues from there.

Whose body?
How is it connected to the Martin family??
How – and why – did it end up in the river???

All will be revealed in November. Until then, watch out for news of the back cover blurb, and details about the blog tour.
In two weeks – no blog post next weekend – we’re having historical fiction writer Jane Cable/Eva Glyn and her choice of clossic comfort books. See you then!

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Sunshine in Switzerland… #SilentSunday #travel

Water… a weekend walk to the lake.

It makes such a difference where the sun is – the two last photos were taken less than a minute apart, but looking in different directions.

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