Wedding Bells in Switzerland, or, How (not) to organise your wedding…

The fifth and last …in Switzerland novella is out, and to celebrate, the first, A Lake in Switzerland, is absolutely free for a few days! So if you haven’t tried the novellas yet, grab A Lake… and see how you like visiting N.E. Switzerland. (download links at the bottom of the post)

So what went wrong at the wedding? No spoilers here, but Stacy and Rico had some surprising encounters during their wedding, which was in two parts, with the honeymoon in between. That’s what I had too, for my Swiss-UK wedding, but fortunately for my family, the resemblance to my wedding and Stacy’s ends there…

Let’s have a look at some of the places Stacy and Rico visited on their honeymoon, starting out in the lovely Bernese Oberland, where they saw the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau mountains.

While there, they visited Ballenberg, an open air museum with examples of different kinds of old traditional buildings from all over Switzerland, like the one below.

Then it was on to Berne, where they saw the old town and the River Aare, and of course…

…the bears, who have a lovely new bear park by the river.

From there, they went to Basel, and sat with their feet in the Rhine like the people below. (I’ve done that too, it’s wonderful, after a hard day’s sightseeing.)

That was the last stop in the Swiss part of the honeymoon – we’ll catch up with the rest another time.

First appearance in the category charts…

To find Wedding Bells in Switzerland in your local Amazon Store, click HERE, and for A Lake in Switzerland, free atm, click HERE. I hope you enjoy reading about my beautiful adopted country as much as I enjoyed writing about it!

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The Cover Art: Wedding Bells in Switzerland…

The fifth and final novella in my ‘…in Switzerland‘ series will be out later this month – and this time, it’s the wedding! Organising a wedding is never easy, and when the two familes concerned live in separate countries, you’re bound to get extra complications thrown in (as I know…).

Here’s the amazing cover art, huge thanks to James at Go On Write for getting it exactly right! Thanks also to the team at Fabrian Books, to Julia Gibbs for her proofreading skills, and to Yvonne Betancourt for formatting the word doc so quickly.

 

A wedding… that’s a happy time with love and laughter and catching up with old friends – isn’t it? But Stacy has problems she didn’t anticipate when it comes to organising this one.

The mother of the bride has been watching too many old films, something is troubling the bridesmaid, and above all, a mysterious guest called MJ is about to descend on the hotel – but Stacy and Rico have no idea who it is. And that’s before the emergency services of two countries start getting involved…

And even when the honeymoon starts in the lovely Bernese Oberland, it isn’t long before blue lights and sirens have Stacy’s pulse racing again. Surely wedding bells have never been this complicated?

I was sorry to say goodbye to Stacy & Co, but they’ve done very well, considering I started out to write one novella only. I’ve really enjoyed travelling around Switzerland – and neighbouring Germany and Austria – with my characters. I’ve visited all the places mentioned in the series, and apart from Grimsbach, the little village where the Lakeside Hotel is situated, all the locations are real and I have happy memories of each and every one of them. Watch out for some picture posts later this summer!

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From Dark to Light with Jennie Ensor

I’m really pleased to welcome Jennie Ensor back to the blog today. Last time, she told us about her second novel, psychological drama The Girl in his Eyes, and today she’s talking about writing in two genres – her latest book, Not Having It All, is the epitome of something completely different… over to Jennie:

Writing ‘a brazen comedy about the perils of midlife’– the subtitle of my latest book, Not Having It All – was, as you might imagine, hugely different from writing either a psychological mystery (my first novel, Blind Side) or a dark psychological family drama (my second, The Girl In His Eyes).

Not Having It All and The Girl In His Eyes have some elements in common, though. In The Girl In His Eyes, a secret child abuser grooms a 12-year-old girl, the daughter of his wife’s close friend. Some characters in Not Having It All also fight the urge to act on socially unacceptable impulses like committing acts of violence. My latest novel also deals with darker aspects of the psyche, such as obsessive jealousy, coveting another woman’s child and fraud against one’s employer. The two also share (I hope!) strong elements of suspense and family drama, but are totally different in tone.

Whereas the writing and rewriting of The Girl In His Eyes was often difficult, with Not Having It All I had great fun with the structure and plot, and didn’t worry about the story diverging from my outline. The novel is unusual in that it’s composed of emails, letters and journal entries, and told from multiple first-person viewpoints. (Maria Semple’s Where D’You Go Bernadette? has a similar structure.)

What I loved most of all though, was letting my characters speak and act as they wanted, however unreasonably.

Kurt Hudson, the intolerant chief executive of Computer Corp ruminates over whether his wife Bea might be up to no good with her best friend, Maddie. Bea, a phobia researcher, has to cope with her chauvinistic boss ‘the Prof’ and the bad behaviour of her juice/stone-throwing 4-year-old daughter, Fran. Katie, the Hudsons’ childminder who tries her best to cope with Fran and the disobedient family dog Big Ears, secretly drinks Bea’s supply of Triple Sec and writes in her journal that ‘Mr H needs his arse grabbed more often’. Maddie, an unconventional ‘found object artist’ who adores Fran and is desperate to have a child, confides about her opinions about Bea’s childrearing to rather wooden, old-fashioned therapist Mr Rowley. (‘I’d give anything to have her child – a child like hers, I mean’.) Colin, a divorced, about-to-be-axed senior insurance manager at ‘the Nation’s No. 1 Pussy Insurer’ schemes to entice Maddie into his arms while he secretly reimburses 13 unjustly treated customers from company funds.

I also had fun with characters’ names, nicknames and monikers – from Mellow Marty and Sweaty Mike to insurance claimants Mrs Hurtpuss and Mrs Violet Scratched-by-cat-Got-infection-Eyesight-nearly-gone Black. (I smiled to see the list of character names in the novel compiled by my editor, who hinted that I should cut some.)

Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

Then there are the farcical, veering towards off-the-wall situations in the novel. While writing about Bea’s experiments at her university, I invented a robotic spider (Grommet) that runs up people’s legs, and a part of the brain (the BOLF). The creative part of my own brain clearly went into overdrive!

It’s certainly been much more enjoyable to talk about this book than it was my last one. It really was a pleasure to write a comedy after working on such a dark, disturbing novel as TGIHE. By then I definitely needed a good laugh! Black comedy is one of my favourite types of humour – I love having a good chuckle at something totally inappropriate.

As far as post-writing things go, switching genres can be tricky. It is probably easier in some ways to have just one set of readers than two sets, even if there is some overlap. It took a while to come up with a new tagline for my website banner: ‘From dark psychological fiction to daring comedy’, and it’s still not right. On the other hand, it’s definitely more satisfying I think to write what one feels like writing with the hope that one will somehow find new readers.

I’ve started to plan and research my next novel. Although the setting is dark and gritty, I’ll do my best to find a way to incorporate some humour into it!

Thank you, Jennie! And having laughed my way through Not Having It All, I can thoroughly recommend it! Find out more about Jennie Ensor and her books below:

Jennie’s website and blog   Facebook   Twitter   Instagram   Amazon

A Londoner with Irish heritage, Jennie Ensor began her writing career as a journalist, winning two student awards and covering topics from forced marriages to mining accidents. She’s tackled controversial issues in her novels, too – terrorism, gangsters and war crimes in her debut Blind Side (Unbound, 2016); child abuse and sexual exploitation in her second novel THE GIRL IN HIS EYES, a psychological family drama (Bloodhound Books, 2018).

Her third novel, NOT HAVING IT ALL: a brazen comedy about the perils of midlife, is published by Bombshell Books on 28th May 2019. It’s a laugh-out-loud family-life comedy about a woman torn between the demands of her family and her science career.

Jennie Ensor’s poetry has appeared in many publications, e.g. Ink Sweat and Tears. In her spare time, she sings in a choir and dreams of setting off on a long trip with her Kindle.

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Springtime in N.E. Switzerland… 🇨🇭

It hasn’t been one of those balmy springs. We had a mild(ish) March, followed by a distinctly chilly April-May, so much so that almost everyone I know retrieved their winter jackets from wherever they’d put them away to in March, and started wearing them again. Nightly frost warnings have only just stopped pinging into my phone. Our lake is low for the time of year, but as the snow melt hasn’t really begun yet and there are seven metres of snow on our local mountain, the Säntis, that might change soon.

And in spite of the weather, trees and bushes have been blooming away, and I’ve taken lots of lovely pics – so here we go. I’m not sure what this tree is, but it’s very pretty.

The magnolia was magnificent, too.
And here are some Swiss houses with their trees.
And just as an interesting extra while we’re talking about houses, here’s our local ‘Kontakt-Bar’, a lovely, historical building near the harbour.
Moving along the lakeside to the park, we find some gorgeous trees and a bandstand.
Last but not least, our lake, with the Alpstein range behind it, highest peak Säntis.

Hopefully we won’t have flooding this year, in spite of those seven metres of snow, and even more in the higher alps. Watch out for the summer pics later this year!

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The ‘B’ books… #A-Z books 📚

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 ‘B’ books are:

 

 

Bad Seed by Heleyne Hammersley
This is the third in the series but can easily be read as a standalone police procedural, and like all Heleyne Hammersley’s books, it’s a cracking story with great characters.

 

 

 

 

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell was one of my biggest favourites as a child. It was Anna Sewell’s only book, written mostly when she was bedbound with TB, and sold for a single payment of £40. Anna Sewell died just months after it was published, so she never saw it become one of the top ten best-selling novels for children.

 

 

 

 

Blindsight by Robin Cook
I’m a huge fan of medical thrillers, and Robin Cook has written some of the best. A handful of them, including this one, feature pathologist Laurie Montgomery.

 

 

 

 

Next up, you’ve guessed it, the ‘C’ books…
And – The Attic Room is on a 99p UK/US weekend deal at the moment. May 5th is the last day, so grab it HERE while it’s hot!

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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 📚

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!

 

 

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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. (Edited to add: the book is now published; click HERE to see it in your local Amazon store.)
And 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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