A walk around the old town…

Arbon has been here for many, many years. Centuries, in fact – it has connections to an Irish monk called Gallus who died here in 646. We have a castle, part of the original town wall still stands, and the old town has a real medieval atmosphere, wonderful for Christmas markets. Let’s take a walk…

The photos above and  below are the same building and one of the oldest in the town. There’s a lovely hotel restaurant in there now, but just imagine how many people have looked at that building over the centuries.

The square below is the one-time Fish Market, now home to Christmas markets, Advent markets, Flea markets etc etc. The old buildings are amazing.

Socks at the Christmas market. And
a few other things, too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everything you need for Christmas, except snow… Below is a closer look at one of the old frescoes.

And here’s the Fish Market on a non-market day.

Walking towards the Catholic church, you can just see the lake at the end of the road.

The tower, the oldest part of the castle. The views over the lake from the top are worth the climb…

Moving on, we find a ‘terrace’ of old, old houses, now lovely flats.

And this building below, which used to house the police headquarters.

Across the road now, we find another lovely square. There’s nothing better than sitting out here with a glass of something cool on a balmy summer evening, watching the world go by.

I’ll leave you with Lake Constance, just a two minute walk away…

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It’s CHRI – STMAS at Fabrian Books 🎄

Not so many shopping days to go now… This time next week, Advent will have well and truly started, and at Fabrian Books, we have lots of feel-good novels and novellas out to celebrate the season. Picture yourself by one of those old-fashioned log fires you see on Christmas cards, a mug of hot chocolate by your side and a book in your hands – what could be better than a bit of festive feel-good?

So here’s this year’s Fabrian selection, in alphabetical order according to the author’s first name.
(You can read the full blurbs and see purchase details by clicking the book covers to go to Amazon.)

Christmas Kisses on Hollywell Hill by Jackie Ladbury.

Christmas is coming and Kirsty Castille, an out of work actress, is having a crisis of faith. All around her actors are bagging interesting roles in Christmas pantos while she’s stuck as Nag the pantomime horse. By a stroke of luck, she lands the lead role in a well-known musical and can finally wave goodbye to the cast in the seasonal production of Snow White and the Seven Christmas Puddings…

If we’ve whetted your appetite there, just click the cover!

 

Finding Dad by Jo Bartlett.

Freya Halliwell has always wanted to get married in Kelsea Bay, the place where she spent so many idyllic summers as a child. So when the chance arrives to have a Christmas wedding at Channel View Farm, perched high up on the cliffs above the Bay, everything in her life seems to be falling into place at last—almost two years after losing her beloved mum.

Then a chance discovery in a box of old Christmas decorations changes everything…

A lovely heart-warming read!

 

Christmas in Switzerland by Melinda Huber (aka me…)

Christmas is approaching, the Lakeside Hotel is full of English-speaking guests, and Stacy and Rico can’t wait to show them a real Swiss Christmas. There’s a visit from the Samiclaus, a Guetzli-baking demonstration, a snowman competition – not to mention the trip to Davos.

But in the middle of all the festivities, a guest has a huge problem and Stacy is left running backwards and forwards, wondering if she’ll last the distance…

Everything you need to know about a Swiss Christmas!

 

Fake Fiancé for Christmas by Pat Posner.

Best friends Flora and Val will usually do anything for each other. But Flora refuses to pretend she’s engaged to Val’s brother when Val says it will scotch the rumours about Bryce so their uncle won’t disinherit him.

True, many years ago, as a very young teen, Flora idolised Bryce. She’s learned the hard way to stop doing that, though, and it’s no surprise to her when Bryce ridicules his sister’s idea. But then…

Friendships – and families – can be complicated…

 

A Merry Bramblewick Christmas by Sharon Booth.

Christmas is approaching once again, but the residents of the little village on the North York Moors are almost too busy to notice. Receptionist Anna is on maternity leave, while Connor and Riley are interviewing candidates for the post of third GP at Bramblewick Surgery.

Izzy is focusing her attention on the primary school Christmas play. But even with the help of fellow teacher, Ash, she’s beginning to wonder if she’s taken on more than she can cope with.

Find out if she has…

 

Christmas at the Ginger Cat Café by Zara Thorne (aka Deirdre Palmer)

As far as Isla Marchant is concerned, Christmas is cancelled. Left standing in the church porch with three redundant bridesmaids dressed in black and no groom in sight, it’s no wonder she isn’t feeling festive.

Asked to run The Ginger Cat café in the Sussex village of Charnley Acre while the owners are away, Isla seizes the chance to escape from Nottingham with its constant reminders of what might have been. But…

Can Isla really escape from Christmas?!

And that’s our Christmas selection for 2018. Full details of all the Fabrian Books novels and novellas can be found on the website HERE: Happy Christmas reading!

 

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Snow Light…

I’d like to welcome Danielle Zinn to the blog today, to tell us about her atmospheric novel Snow Light. I read it last winter and was fascinated; it’s one of those books where the setting becomes another character. And the characters jump out at you – guilt-ridden DI Thomas, snappy Ann Collins and motherless pre-teen Sky are a formidable trio. Here’s Danielle to tell us more.

Thank you for inviting me to your blog, Linda. Snow Light is my debut crime novel, published by Bloodhound Books.

Now let me take you to the magical world of Snow Light… or how a Detective Inspector became entangled in the Christmas traditions and the past of a little village tucked away in the mountains…

The story of Snow Light is set in the pre-Christmas season in the beautiful Ore Mountains, which are located in the south of Saxony (Germany) and border on Bohemia (Czech Republic). The highest peak is 1,215m in altitude, so we do have quite a bit of snow as well as long, harsh winters.

All the places mentioned in Snow Light are real, starting from the house DI Thomas is living in, which is my family home, to the little lakeside cabin the victim owned.

Below is the village of Turtleville where my main protagonist, Detective Inspector Nathaniel Thomas moved to just six months before the story starts – so he’s experiencing the Christmas traditions, unique to this area, for the very first time.

Mineral resources such as silver, tin, and copper, have been found in the Ore Mountains since the fourteenth century. Working long shifts meant that the miners entered their workplace early in the morning, when it was still dark outside, and left late in the evening, when the sun had long settled on the horizon. But to allow them at least some light, fellow citizens crafted wooden arches with candles on top and put them in their windows to illuminate the miners’ journeys home.

The arch is both a symbol for the entrance to the mine as well as a source of comfort and light in the dark season of the year. The tradition has been kept alive, and all citizens of the Ore Mountains proudly put light arches in every window of their houses from the beginning of December until the end of January, immersing the villages in a soft orange glow – one that also calms the troubled mind of DI Nathaniel Thomas.

Another relic from Ore Mountain history is a wooden, turning object – a Christmas pyramid. Pyramids come in all sizes – large ones made to withstand the biting cold are placed in the middle of the market squares in small villages, and smaller wooden versions receive a special place in the living rooms of each home.

Often, they are more than a hundred years old and were carefully crafted by our great-grandfathers.

This is the pyramid from Turtleville, and the exact place where the murder victim was found.

You can find carved animals of the forest, miner figurines carrying hammers, mallets, and ores, as well as different other occupational groups from a bygone era.

Every Advent weekend there are ‘mountain tattoos’ in various towns where members  dress up as miners, play music and remember the hardships these people had to endure.

Maybe you’d like to experience this mystical place yourself, with its magical Christmas markets offering mulled wine, its soothing lights and welcoming people?

But if you’re not one for the cold and wet weather – it’s equally picturesque in spring, summer and autumn:

Thank you, Danielle! All that makes me want to hop on a ferry across Lake Constance and take the train to the Ore Mountains!

Here’s the blurb to Snow Light:

When Detective Inspector Nathaniel Thomas encounters a man attacking a young woman in a local park, the DI is unable to save her. Out of guilt, Thomas quits his job at Homicide Headquarters and relocates to the tiny village of Turtleville, where he regains control of himself and begins to enjoy life again.

However, a year later, all the guilt and shame of the park murder re-emerges when a local hermit, Ethan Wright, is murdered with an unusual weapon and left on display in the centre of the village.

For Thomas the situation gets worse when DS Ann Collins, a colleague from his past, appears to help with the case. But things become complicated when the victim’s identity is put into question.

Who is the victim? And why was he murdered?

Thomas and Collins will find themselves trying to solve a highly unusual case and both may have more in common than they could ever have imagined.

If you’ve been tempted into the world of Snow Light, click HERE to see it on Amazon.

Danielle holds a BA (Hons) degree in Business and Management from New College Durham and after gaining some work experience in Wales and the USA, she settled down in Frankfurt am Main where she works as a Financial Controller at an IT Consultancy.

Born and raised in a small village in the Ore Mountains/Germany, Danielle was introduced to the world of English literature and writing from an early age on through her mother – an English teacher.

Her passion for sports, especially skiing and fencing, stems from her father’s side. Danielle draws her inspiration for writing from long walks in the country as well as circumnavigating the globe and visiting her friends scattered all over the world.

Mix everything together and you get “Snow Light”, her debut detective thriller combining a stunning wintry setting in the Ore Mountains with unique traditions, some sporty action and lots of suspense.

We’ll finish with the photo of ‘Turtleville’ again – Crottendorf in real life!

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Four trains, two boats and a bus in Switzerland…

A couple of weeks ago, a friend and I took ourselves on a trip to the island of Ufenau, near the south end of Lake Zürich. Early-morning haze was hanging in the air as I stood waiting for the train at our local station, which isn’t much bigger than a bus stop. Lake Constance is behind those trees and bushes, but it was one of those mornings when you couldn’t see Germany on the other side.


Fifteen minutes down the line I arrived at Rorschach, and took the lift from the lakeside station up to the main road to meet my friend and take some pics.

Train number two took us south, up the Rhine Valley to Sargans, and now the sun had come out. The peak there is Gonzen, a baby at 1830m high.

Sunshine accompanied us on train three, heading west now along the banks of the Walensee. You can tell by the photos below that train three had nice clean windows.

An hour after leaving leaving Sargans, we arrived at Wädenswil on Lake Zürich. Memories of a previous trip when we had to make several mad dashes to catch trains and buses were uppermost in our minds now, and we immediately went to find out where – and when – the boat to Ufenau was. The autumn haze was down again, but at least the boat was coming…

Ufenau is a tiny island – we walked round it in less than half an hour. After lunch, of course. We had Knusperli – small chunks of fried fish, usually perch, with sauce to dip them in, and salad and no, I didn’t take a photo…
Pleasantly full, we set off on foot round Ufenau. The photos below show the little church and chapel from opposite ends of the island, which gives you an idea of its size.

And then it was time for the next boat, to the Au peninsula, further north on the western bank of Lake Zürich.

The sun was stuggling through again as we arrived there, and first of all we walked round the park, which boasts a castle, a cave, and a little lake with a lovely wood and iron bridge.

Our hike continued along the banks of Lake Zürich and back to Wädenswil, where the fourth and final train of our trip – the Voralpen Express –  was waiting to take us to St Gallen, and the bus back home. Full circle!

 

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Christmas in Switzerland…

…is on pre-order now for Tuesday 6th November.

From the first of Advent to the plans for Christmas Day, follow Stacy & Co as the Lakeside Hotel has its first ever Swiss Christmas.

What happens on December 4th, traditionally? And on the 6th? Who is the Samiclaus? Why is Carol so unhappy? And will Stacy and Rico’s relationship survive the season of way too much work?

Find out in Christmas in Switzerland, the fourth novella in the Lakeside Hotel series!

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Book news… 📚

There’s a new book on the way here in N.E. Switzerland. My current full-length novel project has been chuntering along slowly, its progress slightly hampered by bringing out my novella series. However, a couple of weeks ago I signed a contract, we are editing industriously, and publication is set for mid-February. This one will join Baby Dear and Death Wish in the Bloodhound kennels, coming out under the women’s fiction imprint Bombshell Books, and I’ll be sharing news about the title, editing/publication process as we go – and the cover, of course. I can’t wait to see it!

A few pre-publication details: Like Death Wish, the new one’s set mostly in Glasgow, but we have a few chapters in Edinburgh and a couple in Carlisle too. It’s about sisters Erin and Vicky, who grow up separately, unaware that they have a sister – it was great fun, plotting this one out. I started well over a year ago by pacing around Glasgow city centre – no hardship – looking at the location of Vicky’s flat, the streets she would walk through to get there, the urban view along the River Clyde she enjoyed from her living room window. There’s a story about that flat, but it’ll keep for another day.


Erin’s home for much of the book is at the top of Byres Road in the Glasgow West End, my old secondary school/student stomping ground. A year or two ago I met writer Barb Taub in a Byres Road café – you can’t see much of the street in this one, but the scones were lovely.

 

How did the sisters discover they were sisters? And why were they separated? Watch this space…

I’ll leave you with another couple of pics of Glasgow – you can see why they call it ‘the dear green place’. Look at all those trees.

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Autumn? in Switzerland…

It’s late this year. The woods across from my balcony are turning, yes, but not very far or fast. We can’t scrunch through autumn leaves as we wander along the trails, and the predominant colour is still green. So let’s have a look at some other slightly autumnal Swiss pics.

 

Below was taken in canton Graubünden in south-east Switzerland. We had many autumn holidays here when the boys were small. It’s a great place for woodland walks, campfires and sausage-sizzling, though I was never brave enough to go up in a balloon.

This one’s in Engadin, in the same canton. I wonder where the track goes…

Also in Engadin, Tarasp Castle. I’ve only visited that area once, and it seemed like the longest walk ever to get to the castle. But the views are incredible.

This is Bergün, the little village we often spent our autumn holiday in, back in the day.
Still in Graubünden, Lake Sils.
And we’ll finish off with some cows. This is the time of year they’re brought down – looking very festive – from a summer spent grazing on the alps.

And no, I’ve never tried paragliding or whatever the brave person in the above photo’s doing. I like my feet firmly on the ground, in all seasons…

That was Switzerland. Next time, I’ll have some very exciting book news and a post about sunny Scotland. 🙂

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Jennie Ensor: The Girl in his Eyes

I’m very pleased to welcome Jennie Ensor to the blog today. The Girl in his Eyes is her second novel, and it’s a story with a difference. A few weeks ago, I talked to Jennie – who as you’ll see is a very brave lady – about the book.

Describe your book in three sentences:
Laura was abused by her father when she was a child and for years was too afraid to speak out. But now she suspects he’s found another victim… Laura realises she must find the courage to stand up to her father, a paedophile hidden within a seemingly ordinary suburban family.

What gave you the original idea for this book?
The novel draws on my childhood and a particular incident many years later. For several years when I was growing up my father behaved abusively towards me. As a child I felt unable to tell anyone, not even my mother. I felt compelled to write TGIHE without really understanding why. With hindsight, I think I wanted to make sense of what had happened to me: why my father acted as he did and got away with it, why my mother didn’t guess and why as a child I couldn’t say anything. The novel’s premise – What would happen if a young woman abused in childhood finds out that her abuser, her father, might be tempted to prey on someone else? – came to me when I heard about an incident with my late father. Supposedly, some years after I’d left home, a girl visited my father and ran off in a state of distress, possibly shocked to find the man she was communicating with was much older than she’d imagined. This struck me; I wondered what I would have done years earlier if I’d suspected my father had been abusing someone else. (I don’t know if he actually had been.)

Where is the book set?
In London (mainly Wimbledon and West Kensington), in 2011 (towards the end of the last recession).

Tell us a little about the characters.
Laura is a troubled young woman of 22, deeply impacted by the abusive behaviour of her father. She feels isolated from her family and has only one real friend. Despite success at uni, her recent life has been marked by a string of dead-end jobs and failed relationships.

Suzanne is a 50ish mother of two (Laura and Daniel), married to Paul for 25 years. She’s a freelance proof-reader. Her life has been blighted by the early deaths of her parents and brother. For years she found Paul to be an anchor and lacked the confidence to follow her own path in life – but something inside her is awakening.

Paul, Laura’s father, is in his early 50s, a successful sales manager at a technology company but is facing job insecurity and the impact of the recession. He has dark secrets: a penchant for watching underage girls engaging in sex on the internet – and his abusive treatment of Laura when she was a child. Highly manipulative, charming and likeable on the surface, he’s kept his secret life hidden from his wife. Now, he tells himself that his ‘overstepping the mark’ with Laura must never happen again, with another girl…

What’s the best thing about being a writer?
Apart from the deep satisfaction of actually writing, going off into my own world, musing on how to tell the story at hand, I love the freedom to be at my desk or out walking mulling over plots – the choice is mine, there’s no office I have to commute to, I could in theory work anywhere. My husband has an 18th century house in the Pyrenees, and I find being there is often inspiring. I wrote a draft of my debut novel under the sloping roof of one of the bedrooms, looking out onto the village church and the mountains, listening to bells clanging every half hour. The other thing I value is the friendship and support of other writers, online and off. It’s a comfort when things aren’t going so well or you need to vent about something, and it’s great to share the occasional good news!

The French Pyrenees

And the worst?
There are days I want to be in an office chatting about the latest TV drama and looking forward to a few after work drinks on a Friday evening… There are always so many things to do as a writer apart from writing (especially that big time-sucker, social media) that sometimes I find it hard to give myself the time to relax and enjoy life.

What are your writing plans for the future?
My next novel is in the final stages of editing. It’s another family drama I’d say, but is totally different to TGIHE – a darkly humorous story of love, family, secrets and obsession. I took lots of risks with this novel too, going off into a slightly surreal, very playful space in my head. I wrote it partly to cheer myself up – there’s a vein of wickedly dark humour running through it. I’ve been plotting a fourth novel which I’m keen to start working on, a psychological suspense novel with paranormal elements.

Thank you, Jennie! You can find out more about Jennie and her books on her website, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Goodreads.

Here’s the blurb for The Girl in his Eyes. I’ve read it, and it’s an amazing book, one I can wholeheartedly recommend.

Her father abused her when she was a child. For years she was too afraid to speak out. But now she suspects he’s found another victim…
Laura, a young woman struggling to deal with what her father did to her a decade ago, is horrified to realise that the girl he takes swimming might be his next victim. Emma is twelve – the age Laura was when her father took away her innocence.
Intimidated by her father’s rages, Laura has never told anyone the truth about her childhood. Now she must decide whether she has the courage to expose him and face the consequences.
Can Laura overcome her fear and save Emma before the worst happens?

A Londoner with Irish heritage, Jennie Ensor began her writing career as a journalist, obtaining a Masters in Journalism (winning two student awards) and covering topics from forced marriages to mining accidents. She isn’t afraid to tackle controversial issues in her novels, either – Islamic terrorism, Russian gangsters and war crimes in her debut Blind Side (Unbound, 2016); child abuse and sexual exploitation in her latest book The Girl in his Eyes, a dark psychological drama published by Bloodhound Books, 18. September 2018.
Jennie Ensor’s short story ‘The Gift’ was placed in the Top 40 of the Words and Women national prose competition; her poetry has appeared in many publications, most recently Ink Sweat and Tears. In her spare time she cycles, sings in a chamber choir and dreams of setting off on a long trip with her Kindle.

The French Pyrenees

 

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It’s beginning to feel…

Writing is often a lonely business. Even if you’re sitting with your laptop in the middle of a busy cafe, as many do, the process of getting your thoughts onto the page is definitely a one-person job. Even if you’re co-writing a book, collaborating with another writer as you go, you still spend hours alone with your characters and your keyboard. I knew all that. What I hadn’t realised until recently is that writing can be a seasonal business too – and I’m not quite on top of that part yet.

Take my novella series, set in the fictional Lakeside Hotel here in N.E. Switzerland. I wrote A Lake… and A Spa in Switzerland without really taking the time of year into consideration. Originally, I’d planned on doing two only, so when A Spa… brought a happy end to all, I was happy too. Then I thought, well, another would make a trilogy… and it would be nice to see how the Lakeside Hotel got started. So Trouble in Switzerland arrived, set in a lovely hot summer. I wrote it in late winter and spring, thinking fond thoughts of the better weather hopefully approaching.

Then the rot set in. ‘You can’t write a series like that and not have a Christmas book,’ everyone said. True… So, in early summer this year, I started to write Christmas in Switzerland. And we all know what summer was like. There I was, sweltering in my office room with all the windows open, wearing the minimum amount of clothes, iced tea to hand – writing about Christmas parties, mulled wine, snowman competitions… At one point I went out to get the post (we have outside boxes here in Switzerland) and thought, ‘Golly, it’s warm for the time of year.’ – and then remembered that real life was in July, not December.

Christmas in Switzerland will be out soon with the fabulous Fabrian Books. And summer is over, the hottest for decades. Now, we’ve dug out those fleeces, warm socks are on the horizon, and it won’t be long before gloves and woolly hats are fished out of the bottom drawer. And I’ve started another novella. My characters are bopping around in shorts and flipflops, planning a lovely sunshiny June. I’m doing something wrong here.

It isn’t really beginning to feel a lot like Christmas – yet. Seeing Christmassy pics in September seems like a bit too much of a good thing to me, but I’ll annoy you with this one, anyway. It’s the cover art for Christmas in Switzerland. Isn’t it lovely? James at Go On Write has done us proud!

 

And if anyone hasn’t read the novellas yet, A Lake in Switzerland is *Free* today (Sunday) only. Grab it while it’s hot. We’ll finish off with a non-Christmassy photo of the real lake in Switzerland – Lake Constance, glinting through the trees here as I type.

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Recently read and enjoyed…

This summer’s ultra-hot weather means I’ve spent more time lazing around on my balcony than I might have, a glass of something by my side and my kindle to hand.
Most of the books I read are crime fiction of one sort or another. The following are some of my four or five star reads, and we’ll have more another time too.
In no particular order…

 

 

Jane Isaac’s new series looks like being a real cracker. I loved the fact that this time, the main character is the Family Liason Officer.

 

 

 

 

 

The Perfect Friend kept me guessing right to the end. Secrets, lies, family dynamics – and a very clever plot.

 

 

 

 

 

This is a must-read for thriller fans – especially those who, like me, are mothers of sons… An intriguing story of family life.

 

 

 

 

 

Katharine Johnson takes us to lovely Tuscany in The Secret, and from the background of WW2 to the present day. The sights and sounds of Italy…

 

 

 

 

 

Last but not least, we have Merciless. Heleyne Hammersley has been on the blog with the fabulous photos which inspired one of her standalone novels. Merciless is the second in her detective series, but it can easily be read as a standalone too.

 

 

 

Book news: It’s been best seller orange flag week for my books on Amazon. Each of the novellas has now had one, and yesterday I was particularly pleased to find my first ever on Amazon US. Well done, Chosen Child.

And this feels like a good place to mention that Chosen Child is now on a 99p/c US/UK deal – until Tuesday, you can have it for WAY less than the price of a coffee… Just sayin’… 🙂

 

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