Return to the Lakeside Hotel – out now! #newbook

And like last time, my book went out with no problem at all – the gremlins really do seem to be gone. Next time, we can try for a more traditional approach to publication again… 🙂

To celebrate, both books are available on kindle at just 99p for a few days – tap HERE to see the series page on Amazon.

Huge thanks to everyone who’s helped with these books – I really appreciate every one of you. And big thanks to the readers, too – I hope you enjoy being back in Switzerland with Stacy and the gang at the Lakeside Hotel!

Posted in books, My books, The Writing Life, travel | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Two days (approximately) to go… #newbook

It’s back to crossed fingers here in N.E. Switzerland – if everything goes according to plan, Return to the Lakeside Hotel will be available at the beginning of the week, and both books will be on offer at 99p for a couple of days. I’ll put out a short blog post with details as soon as the book is up on Amazon.

In this one, Stacy returns to Switzerland to help set up the new version of the Lakeside Hotel – but her new job turns out to be trickier than she’d imagined. Rico, meanwhile, is trying to work out what he wants in life. Then there’s Kim, a stay-at-home mum who’s aching to return to her job, but it’s not as easy as finding a childminder and setting out.

Three people, three sets of problems, and a hotel in search of its identity. You can find out what happens to them all next week! (I hope)

Meanwhile, Saving the Lakeside Hotel is still doing well. Did you know you can often see our large and lovely Lake Constance on the BBC weather map? This is a pic from last summer – at the moment we can only dream of hot air.

Another location pic, Rorschach harbour this time. Stacy and Rico come here for lunch near the beginning of Return to the Lakeside Hotel. He only has eyes for her, but she has other things on her mind that day…

Cross your fingers for my book at the start of the week – if all goes well this time too, maybe I’ll be able to believe that the blip of two books ago really was just a blip. Here’s hoping 🤞

Posted in books, Life in Switzerland, My books, The Writing Life, travel | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Cover Love #books #amreading #coverlove

I read recently that the main purpose of a book cover is to attract the reader’s attention. Obviously, it should have something to do with the subject of the book too – you wouldn’t put an image of a vegetable garden on a book called How to Crochet, but the cover needn’t tell the story of the book, just be appropriate in some way. It set me thinking – what makes us pick up a book in a bookshop? Sometimes it’s the author name, but it could also be the image. Or the title, or strapline, or maybe a combination of all of these. I thought it might be fun to find out what different people think.

I’ll start this Cover Love series today, choosing two covers I like, one by another writer and one of my own, saying why I like the images, then over the year we’ll have other people on the blog doing the same.

It was definitely the image that first attracted me to this book. I love that kind of old-fashioned, flowery pattern – I once had a jacket that was very like this cover. Then the title, Mrs Narwhal’s Diary – that seemed to suggest a lady living in an old house, maybe a while back; it conjured up a picture of a genteel, grandmotherly kind of person I might visit on Sunday afternoons. A slice of comfort from the past… I scrutinised the book every time I saw it on social media for a while, then eventually I bought it. It’s a lovely book, published by Louise Walters Books, and the cover designer is Jennie Rawlings. (And I saw when I was getting the image that it’s 99p on Amazon kindle at the moment – a bargain!)

This one’s mine. Choosing a cover when you’re self-publishing a book is different; for a start, you know what the story is, but you still have to put yourself inside the prospective reader’s head. I chose this image for Stolen Sister when I was republishing after rights were returned to me. A young woman, gazing openly at the reader – that seemed an intriguing contrast to the title and strapline. Stolen children are usually younger, so a reader might think that whatever happened to this girl had been going on for a while. Someone must have known she was missing, even if she didn’t… That was my thinking when I decided on this cover, made by the wonderful The Cover Collection. It was a premade cover, and apart from adding the title etc we didn’t change a thing.

We’ll have another Cover Love post in a few weeks. I thought it would be fun to ask publishers, cover designers, anyone in the book business to contribute too, as well as writers. First up will be Rebecca Collins, publishing director at Hobeck Books and editor of The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook. She’ll be here with her choices just after Easter.

Book news: Saving the Lakeside Hotel is still doing well, but I have to confess I failed to get it up on the blog sidebar yesterday. Technology is not my thing… 🙄 I’ll put Son 2 on the job for next time.
I’ll leave you with a photo of Glasgow, the main setting in Stolen Sister.

Posted in books, My books, The Writing Life | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

A week in the writing life… #amwriting #coverreveal

Saving the Lakeside Hotel is two weeks old tomorrow, and I’m beginning to recover from the unexpected suddenness of having my first full length feel-good book catapulted into the world. I was very happy to have lovely review posts last week by Lizanne Lloyd and Helen Pryke, which you can read HERE and HERE – and getting an Amazon best seller flag was a highlight too. Best of all, though, were some lovely comments I’ve had from readers. It’s scary, starting something completely new like this, and to know that people are receiving the book well is uplifting.

This week, I’ve been busy preparing book 2 in the series for publication at the end of this month – huge thanks here to my sons for help with the files and with my computer.

One of the most anticipated parts of preparing a book is when you see the cover image for the first time. There’s always the doubt in your head – will the title fit the space? Will there be enough room under the image for the strapline? Will it look good beside my other books? As usual, James at Go On Write had no problems with my wordy requests – and there’s the result on the left.

In this book, as the title suggests, Stacy returns to Switzerland, and finds herself in the middle of a building site – but more about that another time.

People have asked me how it feels to be having a break from writing psychological suspense fiction after all those years. In a way, though, the psychological suspense writing was me having a break from writing feel-good fiction, as that was where I started out. A few weeks ago I was on the Women Writers, Women’s Books website talking about it, and how I came to write in the two genres. It all started in the Brownie Guides…

For the past several months I’ve been mulling over another blog series here, now that the Classic Comfort posts have come to an end. Unfortunately, I didn’t have an idea to bless myself with until the middle of last week when inspiration arrived in N.E. Switzerland. Like the other blog series, I’ll be inviting different writers to take part. We’ll have the first post next week (by me), then posts by other writers throughout the year.

I’ll leave you with a summer photo of the real lakeside here in Switzerland – a pretty chilly lakeside it’s been this past week, but I guess spring will arrive at some point…

Posted in books, Life in Switzerland, My books, The Writing Life | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

One week on… pictures of Switzerland #amwriting

My new book is a week old tomorrow. One of the things I enjoy most about writing the Lakeside Hotel books is that I can picture the scenery. Come to that, I can go for my daily walk in a lot of it. Grimsbach, the fictional village where the hotel is, would be just a kilometer or two up the lake from my flat. Below is the view Stacy admires on the first page of the book when she’s standing on her balcony, looking slightly to her right. Now, in February, the water level is at its lowest, but by the end of May when Stacy and Emily were here, most of the snow melt will be down and that little beach below will be gone.

May/June is also a good time to visit the Falls of Rhine. Lake Constance feeds back into the Rhine, and the falls are a few kilometers further downstream. You can see the scale of the waterfall by the people on the platform – visited by Stacy and Rico – on the right.

Another day, the girls go up the highest mountain in the area, Säntis, this time accompanied by Alan, one of the hotel staff. It’s something I’ve done several times (no mountaineering involved, you just hop on a cable car and up you go). In high summer, the snow will be gone, but there was still quite a lot when the girls were there. The view down over the lake and the surrounding area is stunning.

I’ll be doing more posts about places in Saving the Lakeside Hotel over the next several months, including one about the stony beach where Stacy puts her nursing skills to such good use. That day, it isn’t the hotel that needs saving…

I’ll leave you with a view straight across the water to Germany. I took this one early one morning on my way home from the supermarket. Scenic shopping.

Here’s another (slightly squint) view, with the book. I’m hoping to have the cover image of book two in the series by the time I’m writing the next blog post. See you then!

Posted in books, Life in Switzerland, My books, The Writing Life, travel | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Surprise… and a special offer #newbook #travel

What can I say? I didn’t think for a minute that I’d be writing this blog post today, but after my poor Un-Family spent over eight days being approved for publication on Amazon, Saving the Lakeside Hotel whizzed through the process in LESS THAN TWO HOURS. I nearly fell off my chair when the email came in.

So here we are – happy publication day to my 13th book, and I hope that’s not an omen…

To celebrate, the special publication price of 99p/c worldwide will last for three days only, so grab it HERE while it’s hot. And you’ll find more photos of Switzerland, news, anecdotes etc on my Facebook author page HERE

And now that we have the first in the series well and truly out, I’ll get back to the cover designer at Go On Write about book number two (which is ready and waiting for its cover image). See you later!

Posted in books, Life in Switzerland, My books, The Writing Life, travel | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Coming soon in feel-good fiction… #travel #Switzerland

A holiday in Switzerland… that was something I’d never experienced when I arrived at Basle Airport on a cold January afternoon in the 1980s. That day, I was all set to work for a year, see something of Europe, learn a new language – and then go home to Scotland. My year turned into decades, and ‘home’ is now this particular corner of N.E. Switzerland.

So I could well imagine what it would be like for Stacy and Emily, the main characters in Saving the Lakeside Hotel. I knew what they’d want to do and see, and I was able to use a lot of my own experiences as the two of them battle with transport and various tourist problems. I knew what it would be like for Rico, the other main character, who lives in a hotel. No, I don’t live in a hotel, but there’s one (literally) next door.

The book is ready for release now, and I’m hoping to have it out later this week without any of the problems my crime fiction publisher had with The Un-Family. Those were no one’s fault, but it did make for a stressful publication week – cross your fingers we have more of a feel-good release this time. In the spirit of hoping for the best while preparing for the worst, there won’t be a pre-order on this one, which means I can’t control the exact day of release. It will appear as if by magic one day, and I’ll put out a blog post with details of a very time-limited special offer, so watch out for that – and wish me luck!

I’ll leave you with a couple of photos I took at the Botanical Garden in nearby St Gallen this week. Maybe later in the series, Stacy, Emily and Rico can go there too…

Meanwhile, if you fancy some feel-good fiction while we’re waiting for Saving the Lakeside Hotel to come out, why not try my short stories in The Saturday Secret? They’re all ex-magazine stories, set in the UK and definitely feel-good! (and only 99p, just sayin’…)

Posted in books, Life in Switzerland, My books, The Writing Life, travel | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Saving the Lakeside Hotel – the cover image… #feelgoodfiction #travel

It’s only a few weeks now until Saving the Lakeside Hotel – theoretically – hits an Amazon store near you. I’m saying theoretically, because after the mix-up with The Un-Family, I’m not counting any of my metaphorical chickens before they’re hatched this time. So preparations are ongoing for a low-key launch, and our fingers are crossed we don’t have to skip over to Plan B on the day.

As far as Plan A’s concerned, the ebook release date will be February 21st, with the paperback following later in the year. All going well with this one, the second book in the series, Return to the Lakeside Hotel, will follow 4-5 weeks later in March, by which time we’ll hopefully be a little less low-key. Wish me luck!

I’ve been working on the cover image with the amazing people at GoOnWrite – thank you, James – and here’s what we came up with. As some of you may remember, this is the same base image the old first novella had. Once the entire series is well and truly out, we’ll think about a change of cover image, but the originals are so perfect for the stories it seems a pity not to recycle them for a while at least.

Here’s the blurb:

A holiday – or the chance of a lifetime?

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

The girls arrive at the Lakeside Hotel with high hopes, but their problems begin straightaway. Emily’s knee injury is restricting, and something is wrong at the hotel. Where are all the guests? And why is the owner’s son so bad-tempered?

Rico Weber knows the answers. He and his hotel-owner father Ralph are grieving the loss of Rico’s mother, and without her good business mind, Lakeside is sliding ever further into financial ruin. It’s not what Rico wants – but can he persuade Ralph to start again?

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…

I’ll be using my pen name again, which should prevent anyone buying the book thinking it’s another psychological suspense novel…

So far, so good. If you’re interested in these books and aren’t following the blog yet, you can do that at the top of the sidebar on the right – there will be extra posts with up-to-the-minute news and special offers as well as (or instead of) the more usual weekend ones.

I’ll leave you with another photo of our lovely lake!

Lake Constance
Posted in books, Life in Switzerland, My books, The Writing Life, travel | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Winter in Switzerland (almost) #SilentSunday #travel

In just a few weeks, Saving the Lakeside Hotel will be out and I’ll be sharing lots of scenic spring photos of Switzerland, as Stacy and Emily arrive at the hotel and realise it’s not quite what they’d expected…

Meanwhile, though, let’s have some snow pics, all taken from my flat (in the same area as my fictional Lakeside Hotel) over the past few winters:

View from my balcony
Our street. (Fortunately, not our car…)
Our street again. But at least we don’t have far to go for supplies…
Somewhat blurry – the snow plough arrives to clear our driveway
Posted in books, Life in Switzerland, travel | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

New book on the way! #amwriting #travel And it’s set by a lake in Switzerland…

Lake Constance and the Alpstein mountains

Several years ago now, I self-published the Lakeside Hotel series, five feel-good novellas about Stacy from Cheshire and Rico from N.E. Switzerland. It was fun, and a restful contrast to my rather gloomier psychological suspense fiction, but I always felt there was something missing in these stories. You can’t go too far into character development in thirty thousand words, or there’s no space left for the story.

“You should extend them; make them full-length” was something I heard from several people, but while I agreed that would be more satisfying, there was never the time.

Then came Corona. And lockdown. And the ideal opportunity. I unpublished my novellas and set to work. The first two are finished now, the third is being proofread, and the fourth is ready for editing. They have new titles. What was A Lake in Switzerland is now Saving the Lakeside Hotel, and tells the story of Stacy and Emily who visit Lake Constance on holiday, and find themselves in a failing hotel that Rico wants to save but Ralph, his hotel-owner father, wants to be rid of. Add in a romance or two, lots of holiday adventures and a family in turmoil, and that’s book one. Do they save the hotel? In just a few weeks, you can read the end product and find out.

Lake Constance, looking from Switzerland towards Germany and Austria

The books are set here in my home area, the top right-hand corner of Switzerland. Standing on the lake bank, you can see three different countries and a huge expanse of water, as well as hills and mountains. Plenty of scope for my characters to explore their surroundings and overcome a variety of challenges, and that’s before you start thinking about all the problems in the hotel.

The plan is to release the first three this spring and the fourth – the Christmas one – in autumn. Each book is now upwards of seventy-five thousand words, and while parts of the plots haven’t changed, there are new characters, more character development and lots of new scenes. More travel, too.

Sunshine on the Alpstein range (highest peak Säntis)

So, if you’ve ever fancied a trip to Switzerland but haven’t got around to it yet, my ex-novellas could be the books for you. Over the next few weeks I’ll be revealing more about the stories and the characters, and how I went about revamping them from novallas to novels, as well as what’s happening about the cover images. Stay tuned for the next trip to Switzerland!

Posted in books, Life in Switzerland, My books, The Writing Life, travel | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment