We’ve been looking at a lot of old photos recently, sorting out my father’s collection after his death in January. The photo of Dad that terribly hot summer in Switzerland – the one and only time I remember him wearing shorts. The photo he took of the family here – five of us, and we’re all glaring in different directions and no one is looking at the camera… And quite a few of the older kind where you wonder, who/what/when/where was this? But there’s nobody left to ask.


Then there are the really old ones, and I so appreciate having these. My grandparents as children, taken over a century ago. This one’s my maternal grandmother, aged about four, maybe? She was the only grandparent I knew; the others all died before I was born. Granny didn’t belong to a well-off family, but they were into photos in a big way, and I’m so glad now. This one was taken in Edinburgh, where she lived as a child.



Here she is as a young woman, and the photo of my grandfather must have been taken around the same time.









Their first child, little David, died of spina bifida aged just four months. I remember her talking about him, wondering how different all our lives might have been, if he’d lived. So many families would go through similar tragedies in those days.





We only have one photo of my paternal grandparents together, and there are questions attached to this that neither my father nor his brother knew the answers to. The photo was taken on their wedding day, in Bombay, India. Why were they there? It could hardly have been a holiday. Maybe my grandmother’s family lived there for a while, for whatever reason? We may never know…



What stories old photos conceal – and how I wish they could talk!

Story news of a different sort – check the home page here for details of two of my crime fiction books on offer at the moment.

My feel-good novellas are both well and truly out now. Highlight was a (brief but giddy) number one spot in the Switzerland holiday category.




I’ve been guesting with the novellas on other people’s blogs over the past two weeks, huge thanks to all. You can catch up with these posts here:
Helen Pollard’s Blog
Simona’s Corner of Dreams
Fabrian Books
Simona’s Q&A
Emma the Little Bookworm
Jane Isaac

Click the titles to see A Lake in Switzerland and A Spa in Switzerland in your local Amazon store!

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From first idea to published book: Bea Davenport and The Misper

Bea Davenport was the first writer I met in real life. Our debut novels were published in 2013, and we did several bookshop and library events together, and then repeated the process with our second novels in 2014. Since then, although our book journeys have diverged, we’ve remained firm friends, and I’m delighted to have her on the blog today to talk about her fifth novel, The Misper. Over to Bea.

The Misper’s Journey
I thought it may be interesting to chat today about the long journey a novel can take, from initial idea to publication.
I teach creative writing and so I know that sometimes new writers expect their words to come out on the page fully formed and practically perfect – and also that they can sometimes be reluctant to let go of initial plans and ideas, even when they don’t quite work.
The main job of an author, I would suggest, is in rewriting when necessary – even though this can be very hard work.
Let me take you on The Misper’s journey to show you what I mean…

The original idea is a long, long way from what has eventually been published. It was first inspired by a very small and rather insignificant event in my childhood. When I was around eight years old, a friend and I planned a Halloween party and we wanted to make it a surprise for another girl who hadn’t lived in the street very long. It was intended as a sort of good deed. But we sent out a spooky invitation and the girl’s parents thought we were trying to frighten her – and we both got into a shedload of trouble. Most unfairly, I should add!
I started writing a story involving younger characters, in which a good intention went wrong. I knew that, for some reason, it was not quite working, but I didn’t know why. These things can be hard to spot in your own work, sometimes, but a fresh eye can often pinpoint the issue. I sent it to Trevor Byrne for a critique and he said that the story was heading in too dark a direction for the age of my characters (and my intended readers). He was right.

I started the whole thing again. I’d never written for this teenage readership before, so part of the work also involved reading teenage fiction. There are a whole host of other considerations too, including how dark the content can be, use of language, whether a happy ending is necessary (it isn’t).
Bits of it received some attention. Its first and last paragraphs won a ‘Beginnings and Endings’ competition judged by children’s writing expert Louise Jordan. The prize was to send the whole thing to an agent. Only… I hadn’t finished it, so I never took that up. There’s a lesson: don’t enter competitions when you don’t have a full manuscript.
An extract was also longlisted for a Mslexia Children’s Writing competition.
What these experiences did was convince me to keep going – that the novel had something worth persisting with.

I eventually finished the novel with the guidance of my agent. It was the first time I’d ever worked with an agent and it was interesting to see how much editorial input he was prepared to give. So it changed again, quite a bit, along the way – some plot issues and the names of characters, for instance.
And then it went out on submission. This is always a frustrating process: I kept getting wonderful feedback and within a squeak of an offer from some big and prestigious publishers, if it wasn’t for some little thing that didn’t quite fit (that I could and would have changed, if asked – grrr).

And then: hurrah. In summer 2016, it was signed to a publisher called Accent Press, which is quite well-known and respected among independent publishers.
One of the big things that changed at this point was the title. Its working title had always been Halloween, but I was never happy with it. It’s much easier to find a title when you have a finished novel, and The Misper felt like the right one.
We considered covers and I filled in all the obligatory marking and publicity information. And I waited for the next part of the process to begin: the publisher’s edit.
It never happened. One bleak Tuesday in November 2016, I got a call from my agent to say that Accent Press were pulling out. It was nothing to do with me or my book: it was a business decision in which they were cutting back on their teen and YA publications. They sent me a lovely letter reverting the rights back to me. I was gutted.

Months went by as we tried to find a new publisher – particularly after a part-promise from another company, who made us wait a long time for a decision. And then, in the end, after all those months, The Conrad Press agreed to publish the novel, thanks to my agent’s stubborn faith in the book. It’s never a fast process, though: an initial agreed publication date of 31st October 2017 was moved to December, to February and eventually to March 2018.

Finally, the novel is out there, and I think it looks good. But it’s been a rocky road. I’ve learned a lot along the way: don’t send out work until it’s ready, be very open to change – and practice patience! And I hope that sharing this experience will let other writers know that those frustrations happen to everyone. I once read that the successful authors are not always the most talented – they’re the ones who’re persistent. So that’s the other thing The Misper’s taught me: never give up.

I’m sure we all agree that’s an impressive story – thank you, Bea. I’ve ordered the paperback for that gorgeous cover, and I can’t wait to read it!
Here’s The Misper’s blurb:

‘I knew this girl, you see. A sort of a friend. No one thought she really mattered much, but that turned out to be a mistake. Because she blew a hole through my life – and the lives of everyone I knew.’
Anna’s found the perfect friend in Zoe: she’s cool, she’s smart, she’s goth, she’s gorgeous. If only geeky Kerry would stop hanging around and cramping their style. They’d like to get rid of her. But they should be careful what they wish for…

Click HERE to view The Misper on Amazon, and find out more about Bea on her website, Facebook and Twitter.

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A Lake in Switzerland – live!

Fancy a holiday in N.E. Switzerland? It’s a lovely area, and I should know – I’ve lived here for nearly thirty years. If anyone had told me when I arrived in this little town on the banks of Lake Constance that one day I’d set a story just along the road, I don’t know if I’d have believed them. But exactly that has happened, and A Lake in Switzerland is now available on Amazon – click HERE to view.

It’s a novella, and for the modest price of 99p/c you can travel with Stacy and Emily – you can visit the Rhine Falls, go by cable car to the summit of the Säntis, and take a boat trip down our lovely lake.

I’m not doing a blog tour as such, but several kind people have given me space on their blogs over the next few weeks. I’ll be sharing more about that soon. Meantime, join me in saying, ‘Prost!’ or ‘Santé!’ or even ‘Cheers!’ to my new little book. And huge, enormous thanks to all at Fabrian Books.
The sequel, A Spa in Switzerland, follows next Tuesday, and after that, we’ll see what happens with Stacy and Emily…

Lake Constance

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Holiday in Switzerland, anyone?

Imagine having the chance to spend a week in a hotel by a lovely Swiss lake, all expenses paid. That’s what happens to Stacy in my soon-to-be-published novella, A Lake in Switzerland.

Just before the story starts, Stacy is wondering what to do with her life. A newly-trained nurse, she’s taking a break from treating patients to help out in the family stationery business – does she really want to work in an acute hospital? Stacy isn’t sure. The problem is, her fiancé David is a final year medical student with a dream of working in a trauma unit – and he’s keen for Stacy to work beside him.

Meanwhile, Stacy’s best friend Emily is recovering from a car accident which almost cost her a leg. She’s frustrated by her slow progress and lack of mobility – will she ever be able to run and dance again? Then Emily’s dad wins a holiday for two in a Swiss hotel by a lake, and passes his prize on to Emily, who invites Stacy to come with her.

So in chapter one, on a sunny day in May, the girls arrive in north-east Switzerland for a week of mountain scenery, fresh air, and pampering.
What could possibly go wrong??!

The photo above is Lake Constance, and the Lakeside Hotel where Stacy and Emily spend that fateful week is in the fictional village of Grimsbach on the left-hand bank. Standing by the lake, the girls would see across to Germany on the opposite bank, and Austria on their right. It’s a beautiful spot – I know, I live just a few miles away from where Grimsbach would be. I had great fun writing in a ‘local’ setting for a change.

A Lake in Switzerland is now up on pre-order on Amazon, kindle only for now. And it’s a snip at 99p/c, so go on, treat yourselves to a wee holiday in sunny Switzerland!
Click HERE to view on Amazon.



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New beginnings…

It’s always hard when you lose a parent. The world changes, and you know it will never change back. When the second parent is gone, you become the oldest generation in the family, unless a grandparent or other elderly relative is still alive. I was glad to spend several weeks this year in Glasgow, where my father was so wonderfully cared for in the Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice – a huge help and support to my brother and I and our families.

And today we’re in the position that so many others have been in, because life’s like that. The outside world hasn’t changed much in the past four weeks, but our little world has, and now we’re living in this brave new different world. Onwards and upwards.

So what did I miss? Lots of new book releases at Bloodhound Books – there’s always a bargain to be had there, check them out for yourselves. And Fabrian Books had a couple of new releases too, so if you’re looking for some feel-good fiction, look no further. Plenty of bargains there too.

And – new book alert – the first of my own feel-good novellas, A Lake in Switzerland, will be out with Fabrian Books on February 27th, under my new feel-good pen name Melinda. It’ll be ebook only for the moment. The setting is right here where I live, so I’ll be sharing some fabulous Switzerland pics over the next few weeks. Meantime, here’s the amazing cover, and the blurb:

Stacy can’t believe her luck when her best friend Emily invites her on a holiday to Switzerland.

She arrives at the Lakeside Hotel with high hopes, but the problems begin straightaway. Emily’s recent injury doesn’t let her do much, and something is wrong at the hotel. Where are all the guests? Why is the owner’s son so bad-tempered? And then there’s the odd behaviour of Stacy’s fiancé, back home. It’s hard to enjoy the scenery with all this going on…

By the last day of the holiday, Stacy knows her life will never be the same again – but the end of the week is just the beginning of the Lakeside adventure.

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Dear blog readers,
I’ll be mostly off-line for the next few weeks, helping an ill family member. I won’t be blogging during this time, but I’ll be back.
Positive vibes would be appreciated. I’ll still be contactable by email, if there’s ever anything urgent.
Wishing you all a good winter as the days get longer,


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2017 – the best of times and the worst of times… (a minimalist’s version)

Another year bites the dust, and like most years, 2017 had its ups and downs. Here are a few of mine:

Best decision – turning some of my old magazine stories into a charity anthology for a year. All profits made by The Saturday Secret  up until mid-February will go to Doctors without Borders. If you haven’t got a copy yet, it’s available HERE and it’s a snip at 99p.

Worst breakage – I dropped a glass bowl on a stone floor a couple of months ago. Tiny splinters flew for miles (almost). We’re still finding them…

Most important signature – the one I put on my contract with Bloodhound Books, for Baby Dear. Closely followed by the one on the Death Wish contract.

Second best decision – to stop buying house plants. I love them, but my fingers are any colour but green. So now I buy other things instead. Like tall metal cats.

Most unusual search term that brought someone to my website – Swiss house cellars. I’m still working that one out…

Biggest regret – I didn’t manage to sit on a beach and stare at the ocean this year. Lakeside beaches in Switzerland are lovely, but it’s not the same. Must do better.

Best business trip – that was to Bedford and Cambridge. It also gave me the opportunity to have my first ‘lunch with my publisher’ – thank you Betsy and Fred at Bloodhound Books!

Biggest surprise – meeting lovely Georgia Rose for the first time in real life during the same trip, and seeing how tall she is. I’d been picturing a wee soul, but there she was, tall and elegant!

Most overdue meeting – for three years plus now, Jane Isaac and I have been supporting each other as we went through the ups and downs of the writing life – and in October, we finally managed lunch together in downtown Bedford. It was A.MAZ.ING. (Meeting Jane, not having lunch in Bedford, though that was pretty good too…)

Best purchase – my Paperwhite kindle. ❤❤❤

Favourite read – tricky, but I think I’ll go for Terry Tyler’s Tipping Point. I was totally immersed. Death by social media… it couldn’t really happen… could it?

Biggest aha moment – working out how to use Instagram. I did it all by myself, too. Now I just need to use it more regularly…

And I wonder what 2018 will bring? Thank you everyone, for sticking with the blog this year – and HAPPY NEW YEAR!


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