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!
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!
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’…)
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!
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:
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.
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.
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!
My Christmas read this time was Val McDermid’s 1989, a great book and a year I remember very well. In 1989 we were living in the same town in N.E. Switzerland, a little further from Lake Constance than we are now, but you could still see it between the houses. Blue lake, and Germany on the other side, and in those days, we were TINKS. Two incomes and no kids meant freedom to travel, to live the life and enjoy being young in central Europe.
The book deals with – among other things – the turbulent political situation of that time. I was waiting to see if my own 1989 memory would be part of it, and it was, right at the end.
It was the evening of November the 9th, 1989, and we were at home in our sprawling old house. I think it was around nine when a friend called, his voice squeaky with excitement.
‘Have you seen what’s happening in Germany?’
We switched on the TV, and there it was. Berlin. Scenes of confusion by the Wall, interspersed with footage of a press conference an hour or so earlier where it was declared that travel across the border to the west was now – immediately – permitted.
We watched, our jaws dropping, as crowds gathered by the Wall, hundreds of people anxious to cross, milling around, pressing forward, chipping away at the Wall. And then they opened the gates, and those hundreds of people streamed into West Berlin. The party began. It was a huge OMG moment. I went to make tea, and stood at the kitchen window looking at the lights in Germany twinkling away on the other side of the lake. We were watching history being made right next door.
A few days later, I went shopping. In 1989, the supermarket car park was right on the lake bank. That’s it on the right, with Germany in the background, though the supermarket isn’t there now. That day in 1989, a crowd of people had gathered around a car, and I went to see what was happening.
It was a Trabi, one of the little Trabant cars people in East Germany used to drive around in. I’d never seen one in real life, and neither had anyone else in the crowd. Two young men appeared with a bagful of supermarket sandwiches. They had partied all night on the 9th, then went home for a few hours’ sleep before jumping in their Trabi and driving south through Germany and across the lake to Switzerland. Because they could. They were drunk with elation and hope for the future, living the dream. Lunch in Switzerland. I wonder where they are now.
If you’re interested in those times, click HERE for a short video (in English) with scenes from that night in 1989. Coming up on my tbr list is Val McDermid’s 1979. My memories of that time are less vivid, but maybe she’ll write 1999 too. That was the year the lake flooded…
If anything taught us that nothing lasts forever, it was 2022. The moment we got used to the covid numbers going down, up they went again. As soon as we were accustomed to calling one person ‘the prime minister’, someone else was moving into 10 Downing Street. We won’t even mention Twitter. And the Queen, the epitomy of stability, left so suddenly I think we were all shocked.
Change was happening everywhere you looked, some good, some less so. My writing year here in north-east Switzerland has had its high- and lowlights too:
Most heart-stopping moment: The day the neighbours caught fire. It was summer, 35°C and windy, and everything was as dry as a stick. I was on my computer, working on my wip when I became aware of sirens close by. Quite a lot of sirens, actually, and very close by. I stepped out onto the street side balcony and initially thought the hotel next door was on fire. My first thought was, OMG, the woods. If they they start burning… I sped down to the scene to find out if there was any danger of us being evacuated, then saw it was the building site behind the hotel that was burning. Fortunately, it ended well – but it might not have.
Best book contract: The one I signed with the wonderful Hobeck Books for The Un-Family, my twelfth suspense novel and the third with them. 🙂
Best writers’ meet-up: We managed quite a few of these, but I’ll choose this photo, because it could also be called the best selfie taken with a beaker of mulled wine in your other hand. Louise Mangos, Alison Baillie and Christa Polkinhorn, it was a pleasure drinking Prosecco with you this year!
Most useful purchase: A second box of my favourite pens. I found them quite by accident a few years ago (see THIS post) and I’ve been using them ever since.
Favourite book(s) read this year: I thought I’d found this already in February, when I read Rebecca Mascull’s amazing The Seamstress of Warsaw. It’s about a mother and son who lose each other years before the book starts, and then fate in the form of WWII lends a hand. It’s moving, emotional and tense, and must have needed a huge amount of research. I stuck with my favourite book decision until October, when I read Maureen Myant’s The Confession, and this one has the best premise ever. Police find a dead woman along with her suicide note confessing to five murders. They don’t take it seriously, because the “victims” are all still alive. Then the killings start… I can’t decide between them, so this year, I’m having two books of the year.
Most nerve-wracking week: It was the most nerve-wracking week of my entire writing life, never mind 2022. The publication date for The Un-Family arrived, but Amazon, the largest online book retailer and where I clock up 100% of my ebook sales, refused to put the book on their platform because the publisher “was not entitled to publish it”. Hobeck Books leapt into action with everything they had, but it wasn’t until eight days later that the ebook went on sale. I’m not sure any of us have recovered even yet. It was no one’s fault, just “circumstances”. Onwards and upwards.
Best beaver pic: Son 1 took this over Christmas when he went down through the woods by our flat in the wee small hours with a night-vision camera. Pre-beavers, that pond was a little stream you could jump across.
Latest writing project: Back in the first covid lockdown, I started expanding my feel-good “Switzerland” novella series into full-length fiction. The plan is to put the first two out in spring 2023, the third in early summer and the fourth – the Christmas one – in the autumn. These four are finished and in various stages of editing, the fifth is my current wip, and there’s a rough plan for a sixth, too, so we’ll see. I’ll have more about it on my blog in January, and meanwhile, I have everything crossed that the above-mentioned largest online book retailer is cooperative this time.
Most unusual search term bringing someone to my website: приборная панель с часами. According to Google translate, this is Russian and means “dashboard with clock” and no, I have no idea…
And – last but not least – my most challenging build: Lego flowers. How hard can it be, I thought? Um…
I’m not sure what to wish everyone for 2023, but after the previous few years, maybe good health and prosperity for us all would be a good start. Wherever you’re celebrating the New Year, have a good one, and thank you for reading my blog this year. Here’s to 2023!
This is the last post now until January. After nine years, my blog is in dire need of a good clear-out, and I suspect that might not be as easy as it sounds… wish me luck! I’ll “see” you all in the New Year, and meanwhile, all the very best for the festive season, and a Merry Christmas when it comes!
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 crime and historical fiction writer Maureen Myant, whose debut crime novel The Confession was published in early November. I’ve read it – it’s a cracker!
Over to Maureen:
Home at Grasmere, by Dorothy Wordsworth I have never been a particular fan of Wordsworth’s poetry and on a visit to Dove Cottage I eschewed his volumes of poetry and instead bought a copy of his sister’s diary. I was immediately hooked. William apparently used to read Dorothy’s diary for inspiration and it is fascinating to see how her notes are transformed into his poetry. I much prefer her writing. Like any decent journal this gives an insight into the daily life of the writer and the society of its time. The poverty around them is astounding and she writes with compassion about the families she meets, forced to wander the country in search of work. Daily life is hard for her too; she had to walk seven miles to Keswick for provisions and she complains bitterly of the cold in winter. And of course there are her infamous teeth! She ended up with a set of wooden teeth but before that she suffered terribly from toothache. The best writing sheds light on the human experience and Home at Grasmere certainly does that.
Anne of Green Gables series, by L.M. Montgomery I was forced to read Anne of Green Gables when I was ten and the local library no longer had any Enid Blyton books that I hadn’t already read. My mother recommended it to me and told me to persevere when I moaned that nothing was happening in it. I’m glad I did because Anne Shirley is like an old friend to me. The characters that L. M. Montgomery writes about are vivid and immediately recognisable types and there is so much gentle humour in the stories. I’ve read and reread the whole series several times. I cried when Anne lost her first baby, rejoiced when her children were born and despaired when her beloved, gentle son, Walter died during the first world war. In truth, they are too religious for me now but I still find them charming.
Thank you, Maureen! The ‘Anne’ books are favourites of mine too, and I remember seeing a TV adaptation when I was a child, too.
Maureen’s new release The Confession is set in Glasgow, so I really enjoyed being able to picture her characters as they strode around some of the places I used to visit. Here’s the blurb:
A house on a quiet street on the southside of Glasgow. Neat, terraced homes with manicured lawns and pruned trees. Not the sort of place that reeks of decay or where dead bluebottles pile up on a windowsill.
When the police break in, there’s a surprise in store for them. They find Julie Campbell’s decaying body at her desk, her laptop open beside her. She’s a well-liked, respectable woman. On the laptop is a confession – to five murders. There’s one major problem though – only one of the victims she names is actually dead.
DI Mark Nicholson is persuaded by his boss DCI Alex Scrimgeour that the confession is a fantasy, and to drop the case, but Mark senses there’s more to it than meets the eye. As he delves further, the darkest of secrets are revealed, and everyone around him is dragged into a vortex of fear, danger and murder. No one is beyond suspicion as The Confession becomes a murderous reality.
Maureen Myant is the author of two novels, The Search which is set in wartime Czechoslovakia, Poland and Germany and The Confession, a psychological crime story set in present day Glasgow. She lives in Glasgow with her husband and has three adult children and six grandchildren.
I’ll just add here that I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed The Search too. I always love books with characters you care about, and this is certainly one of those.